Politics & Policy

This Cries Out for Serious Investigation

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Open the Books reports that Dr. Fauci’s net worth increased substantially during the pandemic years.

 

Economy & Business

Protectionist Reagan

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I thought this piece by Wells King and Dan Vaughn Jr. was very sharp. They point out how Ronald Reagan saved Detroit from Japanese imports and ended up getting Japan to make major, anchoring investments in the United States and our workforce.

Japan was able to make huge headway into the American market for a few reasons. American foreign-policy priorities had made a priority of keeping Japan as an East Asian ally during the Cold War. Japan’s industrial policy successfully envisioned, subsidized, and tutored a handful of amazing Japanese auto manufacturers. Reagan negotiated an import limit, one that did raise costs to American consumers but only for a short time.

Economists were proven right, in a narrow sense, about the costs of restricting trade. According to government estimates, VER raised prices on Japanese cars by about 8 percent, which translated into an additional $5.1 billion for American consumers between 1981 and 1984. But within the decade, the policy had also prompted nearly three times that much foreign direct investment. The cost per new job in the Japanese supply chain was only about $50,000, and that does not even include the jobs saved at American automakers and suppliers. From one perspective, the exchange may seem unfair — a diffuse cost to millions of consumers for the benefit of a smaller number of workers. But Americans had a different perspective: In a 1980 New York Times poll, 71 percent favored “protecting jobs at the cost of higher prices on foreign products.”

And while the intervention was temporary, the benefits were permanent. VER had been lifted by 1985, and Japanese automakers have not faced any quotas since. But once their American investments had begun, maintaining and expanding them took on an economic logic of its own. No one today suggests that American consumers face higher prices because their Camrys come from Kentucky instead of Tsutsumi; the best place to locate production in a free market is not some immutable truth, but rather a function of previous policies and investments.

This is a great little case study.

Russia’s Annexations Run into Ukraine’s Counterattacks

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Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armoured personnel carrier and a tank near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, September 19, 2022. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Friday is set to be a momentous day for Russia and for Ukraine.

After rushing through his ridiculous, sham referenda in four partially occupied provinces of Ukraine — Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizka, and Kherson — the Kremlin has spread the word that Vladimir Putin will formally annex the now independent “republics” into the Russian Federation.

No Western or neutral country will recognize this aggression. Moreover, not even Russia’s authoritarian allies in Beijing, Pyongyang, and Damascus have so far signaled that they will offer a measure of diplomatic cover to Moscow.

Of course, the Kremlin hopes that victory, or perhaps even simply a stalemate, will

National Review

Lights Out for Europe

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(Illustration: National Review. Background: Fotodaisy/iStock/Getty Images)

If the Russian Federation is a great power, its clout is based on a three-legged stool: nukes, the Russian army, and energy.

Of course, the war in Ukraine has shown the Russian army to be a corrupt, hollowed-out mess, and, while nuclear arms are indeed Russia’s ace in the hole, the problem with resorting to atomic-age weaponry is that their use is the equivalent to pushing all one’s chips to the center of the table.

So that leaves Russia’s most versatile sword and shield: energy.

As Andrew Stuttaford writes in the new issue of National Review, “It made some sense for Moscow to assume that merely brandishing its energy weapon would limit the European response to an attack on Ukraine.”

Both NATO and the EU included member states known for their less-than-robust approach to defense, or for attitudes toward Russia that ranged from the naïve to the not unsympathetic. A “reminder” to those most dependent on Russia for their energy requirements . . . would surely persuade them — to the extent that they needed persuading — to stay on the sidelines in the event of a “special military operation.”

But the Russians — despite supplying Germany with as much as 55 percent of its gas, one third of its oil, and 50 percent of its coal — didn’t get their way, at least initially.

To the Kremlin’s chagrin, the Europeans have — through fits and starts — acquiesced to direct and indirect support for Ukraine and heavy sanctions on Russia for its aggression. The tit for tat has proceeded through the summer and into the fall: The Russians have tightened the screws by closing pipelines for “routine maintenance” and never reopening them; the Europeans are considering harsher measures while scrambling to find alternative, non-Russian sources of gas.

The “signs of damage already inflicted by higher energy costs,” Stuttaford writes, “are hard to miss.” Inflation is up nearly 10 percent euro-zone wide, interest rates are up, and manufacturers are closing shop: “According to Eurometaux, 50 percent of the EU’s aluminum and zinc capacity has been ‘forced offline.’” There shouldn’t be any shock that “both U.K. and euro-zone consumer-confidence levels are at their lowest since records began.”

How did our European friends get into this mess? Carbon-neutral environmental fanaticism and shortsightedness.

Stuttaford explains it all in “How Europe Invited Its Energy Crisis.”

Beginning some 15 years ago, Europe, led by Germany, began its march toward a carbon-neutral economy. “Europe’s ‘race to net zero’ greenhouse-gas emissions would, it was claimed, be accomplished not only (relatively) painlessly, but rapidly.”

Unfortunately, the moves to shutter nuclear-power generation and embrace unreliable renewable-energy sources such as wind and solar have “embedded the energy insecurity that may have helped Russia believe that it could get away with the major European war that, to many Western Europeans, was an impossibility in the rules-based 21st century of their collective imagination.”

Read the whole thing here.

Of course, we’re also just five weeks out from a pivotal midterm election.

In this issue, we have it covered:

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty looked at how Ron DeSantis is running for reelection in Florida with one eye on 2024.
  • Ryan Mills traveled to Georgia, asking if the Peach State is ready to elect a senator Herschel Walker.
  • John J. Miller reported from Michigan on whether Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown fanaticism has made her vulnerable to Tudor Dixon’s challenge.
  • And Luther Abel traveled the Cheesehead State to stake out the chances that Ron Johnson can win a third term and help turn the U.S. Senate red.

If you’re a subscriber, you already have access to read the new issue here.

If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider signing up for NRPlus. Right now, you can get an incredible 60 percent off the newsstand price if you sign up for a digital membership (just $40) or the print-and-digital NRPlus bundle — just 52 bucks for a year’s online access and 24 issues in your mailbox.

From Christine Rosen’s examination of Kamala Harris’s remarkable incompetence to Rob Long’s unearthing of a never-before-heard NSA surveillance transcript to Ross Douthat’s movie reviews, you’ll quickly learn that the arrival of National Review magazine in your mailbox every 14 days will be the best part of your fortnight.

Check it out here.

Law & the Courts

If Judge Ho’s Answer to Illiberalism at Yale Is Misguided, What’s a Better Solution?

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The campus of Yale University in 2012. (Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters)

In response to Judge Ho’s Misguided Answer to Illiberalism at Yale

Isaac Schorr takes issue with Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho’s decision to stop hiring law clerks from Yale Law School. He agrees with the premise that Yale is “an illiberal institution with a prejudice against conservatives on its campus” but maintains that Ho’s cure is the wrong kind of medicine: 

The idea is that if talented young prospective law students know they will be blackballed if Yale appears on their résumés, they will not apply to or attend it. But that seems pretty far downstream from the here and now, and that’s only if Judge Ho’s newly recommended practice takes hold throughout the judiciary.

But preventing prospective students from applying actually isn’t the first intent here — the fundamental point of Ho’s move, as he explained in his speech, was to inflict a penalty on Yale Law School’s prestige and power by reducing its number of federal clerkships. In doing so, the hope is that the pressure on Yale administrators will eventually be enough to change their incentive structure when it comes to placating and/or fomenting campus mobs. Schorr is doubtful that the move, in and of itself, will be effective enough in that endeavor — “the only consequence we know Judge Ho’s declaration will have is that Yale graduates’ applications will be thrown out, and that’s a shame,” he writes. “Maybe only a few, or just one, or no Yale graduates will suffer as a result.” But he also argues that it would be bad if it were effective — “if Ho gets his wish, it’ll be a lot more.”

Regardless of how effective Ho alone can be in applying pressure to Yale, he’s not making this decision in a vacuum — his speech explicitly called for other judges to join him. The premise, again, is that applying collective pressure to Yale Law could actually make the administrators realize that there are consequences for going after conservatives. Schorr agrees that “conservatives should and must seek to change the culture at Yale and other institutions of higher learning,” but maintains that “at first glance, Ho’s means appear to send us down a long road toward a dubious solution that will punish innocent people in the interim.”

If you’re criticizing another man’s proposed solution to an issue that you both believe is a problem, it seems necessary to offer a viable alternative. I’d be curious to hear Schorr’s.

Woke Culture

Trans Activists Appropriate Catholic Art

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York Art Gallery in England has, in partnership with the York LGBT Forum, put on display “the reinterpretation of selected artworks from the collection.” And what does this look like, exactly? Consider the placard next to this painting of Saint Agatha by Bernardo Cavallino, an Italian artist who lived from 1616 to 1656.

It reads:

St Agatha is usually shown with her severed breasts on a plate to represent her martyrdom. Here, however, she covers her newly flat chest and looks towards heaven in ecstasy.

This reminds me of the gender euphoria I felt the first time I, a transmasculine person, wore a chest binder. It hurt my ribs, but I finally saw myself the way I wanted to be.

I see myself in androgynous Agatha. Euphoric, despite being tormented for simply being ourselves. The elation of transcending physical form that we share is profoundly trans. Artwork of saints like this speaks to the queer experience of pushing against social norms to live euphorically as ourselves.

Anonymous, YMT LGBTQIA+ Ally and LGBTQIA+ Community Member

As worthy of scrutiny as the thoughts of “anonymous, YMT LGBTQIA+ Ally” may be, they have nothing whatsoever to do with Cavallino’s subject. Saint Agatha was a woman and a Catholic, tormented for her commitment to Jesus Christ and for the lengths she was prepared to go to protect the virtue of chastity. Her ability to transcend suffering, even the brutal torture of having one’s breasts sliced off — which she was subjected to for refusing her tormentor’s sexual advances — speaks to the strength of her faith. It does not speak to her being “profoundly trans.”

This anonymous young woman who is subjecting herself to the self-harm of a chest binder needs help — not a platform from which to engage in cultural vandalism.

Law & the Courts

Judge Ho’s Misguided Answer to Illiberalism at Yale

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Students on the campus of Yale University in 2009. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Earlier this afternoon, our own Nate Hochman delivered the scoop that Judge James C. Ho of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit would no longer consider graduates of Yale Law School for law-clerkship positions.

Speaking before the Federalist Society’s Kentucky Chapters Conference, Ho lamented cancel culture as a phenomenon, arguing that it “plagues a wide variety of institutions” and “is one of the leading reasons why citizens no longer trust a wide variety of once-leading institutions.”

The judge declared that he will “no longer hire law clerks from Yale Law School” because “Yale not only tolerates the cancellation of views — it actively practices it.” He’s not wrong. Students at Yale Law disrupt events featuring conservative guest speakers. Administrators coerced an apology out of a student for using the term “trap house” in a party invite. It is, without a doubt, an illiberal institution with a prejudice against conservatives on its campus.

So why is Judge Ho’s solution to further punish those same conservatives? He’s already explained the theory behind the protest:

Customers can boycott entities that practice cancel culture. . . . I wonder how a law school would feel, if my fellow federal judges and I stopped being its customers. Instead of millions of customers, there are only 179 authorized federal circuit judgeships, and 677 authorized federal district judgeships.

The idea is that if talented young prospective law students know they will be blackballed if Yale appears on their résumés, they will not apply to or attend it. But that seems pretty far downstream from the here and now, and that’s only if Judge Ho’s newly recommended practice takes hold throughout the judiciary.

The only consequence we know Judge Ho’s declaration will have is that Yale graduates’ applications will be thrown out, and that’s a shame. Maybe only a few, or just one, or no Yale graduates will suffer as a result. If Ho gets his wish, it’ll be a lot more.

Perhaps, though, it’s worth considering in the abstract whether a federal judge using the blameless as pawns in an effort to change the behavior of an institution to which they are connected — but whose malfeasance they are not responsible for — is a practice that conservatives should endorse. Circumstances can be bad enough to warrant unusual courses of action, but it’s worth ensuring that the remedy is both necessary and effective.

Moreover, once you’ve deemed a measure such as collective punishment an appropriate tactic, you’re more likely to return to it — and more compromising tactics still — in future instances. How many of your own principles should you be willing to forget until the mission is accomplished? Will you be able to remember them once/if it has been?

Conservatives should and must seek to change the culture at Yale and other institutions of higher learning, but at first glance, Ho’s means appear to send us down a long road toward a dubious solution that will punish innocent people in the interim.

Woke Culture

Virgin Atlantic’s Absurd New Uniform Policy

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Virgin Atlantic’s new uniforms. (Virgin Atlantic/YouTube)

In adjective form, uniform is defined as “remaining the same in all cases and at all times; unchanging in form or character.” In noun form, uniform is defined as “the distinctive clothing worn by members of the same organization or body or by children attending certain schools.”

I have always understood these to be connected. The point of a uniform — be it school, military, or company — is that it is always the same. Uniforms make the wearers easy to identify as part of a collective while also being, as Lilly Moscovitz puts it in the Princess Diaries, “equalizers.”

This is why I was surprised to learn that Virgin Atlantic has announced, as part of its new gender-identity policies, “a new uniform code for all” that “removes the requirement for people to wear gendered uniforms” and “gives individuals the freedom to wear a uniform that best represents them.” Isn’t the point that they represent the company, not that the company represents them?

This campaign is not a pursuit of sameness or normality, but the desire to stand out — to be recognized as different and special. If that’s the point, why have a uniform at all?

Politics & Policy

A Cuomo Risorgimento?

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Then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) speaks at a church in Harlem, N.Y., March 17, 2021; CNN anchor Chris Cuomo poses as he arrives at an event in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2019. (Seth Wenig; Mike Segar/Reuters)

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “there are no second acts in American lives.” Cuomo brothers — former New York governor Andrew and former CNN host Chris — hope to prove him wrong. Andrew is apparently gearing up for (of course) a podcast. “My intention is to speak the whole truth, unvarnished, from the inside out, frank and candid,” Cuomo said in announcing his return to public life, of which this podcast is apparently only one part. As for Andrew Cuomo telling the truth, well . . . there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

The Cuomo arc was one of the most bewildering of 2020–21. For a few months during his time as New York governor, Andrew was widely lauded (never forget the “Cuomosexuals”) for his allegedly competent management of the pandemic in New York State, one of the hardest-hit places on earth. And Chris, as a CNN host, invited his brother on his prime-time show, giving him free PR.

Things began to unravel when it emerged that Andrew had ordered elderly Covid-infected New Yorkers back to nursing homes, turning those residences into Covid abattoirs, and then fudged the numbers to make it look like this action did not have the consequences it had. A host of sexual-harassment allegations against the elder Cuomo caused further unraveling. Initially defiant, Andrew ultimately resigned in August 2021.

When it was revealed that Chris had been privately — and extensively — advising him during this period while still employed at CNN, the network fired him in December 2021. Chris says in the debut episode of his podcast in July of this year, that although he regrets how everything ended, he will “never regret helping” his family.

Ordinarily, such blatant ploys for attention would be worth ignoring. Many public figures have taken to heart the destructive notion that all press is good press, and have done things as much for their fans as for their detractors. But the utter shamelessness of this Cuomo risorgimento (Italian for “resurgence”) is self-discrediting. To draw attention to it is to hasten its demise, and to weaken further the already damaged reputations of its promulgators. It won’t be a long second act for the Cuomos, but it will be a fitting one.

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Not Going Anywhere Before 2024

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If it wasn’t for the fact that Kamala Harris would replace him (and that the midterms are only six weeks away), the latest of President Biden’s serial displays of cognitive degeneration would have fueled yet another round of discussions surrounding Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.

A serious  nation — a superpower — shouldn’t have someone with Biden’s manifest infirmities at the helm. A serious political establishment would acknowledge that President Biden isn’t and hasn’t been up to the task of the presidency in 2022. Few rational and sober actors believe he’s in charge of his administration, initiating or deciding upon matters of policy and governance. Even the collection of mediocrities constituting his cabinet discerned his dysfunction from the outset but have kept their heads down, pending a green light from the party establishment. The more sober among them likely nodded, almost imperceptibly, to one another last January when Biden openly speculated about what the U.S. and NATO  might do if Russia made a “minor incursion” into Ukraine. But no one’s seriously contemplating the 25th.

Biden’s approval ratings hover around 40 percent and he’s a suffocating weight on Democratic prospects in November. There are few elected Democrats who want or expect him to run for a second term. Indeed, since the very inception of the administration, the noises emanating from Washington suggest a plan to ease him to the side in 2024.

But Schumer, Pelosi, and the other political and financial heavyweights in the Democratic Party won’t urge Kamala Harris and cabinet members to declare Biden unable to discharge the powers and duties of the presidency. The political turmoil caused by such action, so close to the midterms, would be disastrous. And if done after the midterms, it would yield an acting President Harris, someone even less popular than President Biden, without noticeably greater mental acuity, and with little hope of keeping the presidency in 2024. Besides, even if politically feasible, the rancor within the Democratic Party and the impact on an already fragile polity would reverberate for decades. Biden may, and likely would, advise Congress that he’s able to perform the functions of the office, and then Congress would have to decide the matter, sparking mammoth internecine battles that Democrats (and probably many Republicans) would want to avoid.

Biden won’t be president in 2025. But, barring a cataclysm (do you really think Republicans would ever impeach him if they obtained congressional majorities?), we’re stuck with his manifold deficiencies until then.

The Two Paths to a Republican Victory in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz addresses attendees at former President Donald Trump’s rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., September 3, 2022. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

I’ve been as dismissive about Mehmet Oz’s chances in the U.S. Senate election in Pennsylvania as anybody, but I would be foolish to ignore that the polling in the Keystone State this month has pointed to an increasingly closer race. Democrat John Fetterman’s biggest lead this month was seven percentage points in the Marist poll, and the smallest was two points in the Trafalgar Group poll.

On paper, there are two ways for a Republican to win a statewide race in Pennsylvania; Donald Trump and Pat Toomey demonstrated them simultaneously in 2016. After that election, Jon Lerner, the lead strategist for

Economy & Business

Warren vs. Powell

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My Bloomberg Opinion column looks at Senator Warren’s criticism of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell. She thinks he is deliberately trying to engineer a “brutal” recession and wants to throw “millions of Americans out of work.”

This is, fairly obviously, demagogic, which is par for the course for Warren. The underlying ideas are mistaken, too: Tightening monetary policy is sometimes the only morally justified course for a central bank to take, and this is one of those times. If anything, Powell is not tightening fast enough.

Economics

Kudlow and Bahnsen: How Can You Not Listen?

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On the new (and particularly important) episode of the Capital Record podcast, David Bahnsen speaks with Larry Kudlow (who tonight will be honored at the National Review Institute’s 2022 Buckley Prize gala at the Reagan Library). The economic gurus discuss how work is both the heart of economics and the formula for economic prosperity, and then get philosophical, considering the role of civility and friendship in maintaining a fulfilling life. Listen up, right here. And kudos to Larry!

Politics & Policy

The Bar for Competence Just Got Ten Feet Lower

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Marco Bello/Reuters)

The right-leaning Twitterverse is fawning over Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s response to Hurricane Ian, the tempestuous cyclone thrashing the Sunshine State. His response is being hailed as the quintessence of professionalism and presidential, unlike President Trump’s mediocre and often defensive response to the initial outbreak of coronavirus in the United States and the subsequent pandemic in early 2020.

Trump’s early handling of Covid certainly left much to be desired, especially when he used press briefings intended to update the ailing nation on the status of the crisis to settle scores with his arch-rivals in the press corps. By comparison, at this moment, DeSantis looks like a steady hand ready to take up the challenge in a no-nonsense, politics-free manner. However, the grading curve for assessing the ability of a leader to demonstrate steady leadership in turbulent times is totally out of whack after four years of the Trump presidency.

In the post-Trump world, what used to be considered a cakewalk for a politician, maintaining composure and avoiding controversy amidst a natural disaster, is being treated as if it were the height of statesmanship. What was once regarded as routine is now seen as the ultimate test of one’s capacity to govern. But it doesn’t take much to stand at the podium and maintain a modicum of decorum when an emergency unfolds.

DeSantis is merely doing what politicians have usually done, but what Trump usually did not do: staying on script when the stakes are highest. There’s a reason why the way Trump composed himself on the campaign trail and in office was so unusual. It’s not in any politician’s interest to behave like a meshuggener.

Trump’s issue isn’t that he miscalculates or that his poorly timed high jinks keep tripping him up. The fundamental problem is that he’s still a lunatic.

Trump’s inability to comport himself to the basic standards of what being in elected office demands doesn’t make him courageous or the greatest threat to “the regime.” It makes him exceedingly vulnerable in a general election. Republicans would be wise to nominate anyone other than the Donald in 2024. Otherwise, the benchmark of competence for conservative politicians will irrevocably be ten feet lower.

Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood’s Absurd Excuse for Scrubbing Fetal-Heartbeat Language from Website

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For years, Planned Parenthood said on its website that “a very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop” by six weeks of pregnancy. 

Sometime since July 25 of this year, Planned Parenthood scrubbed that section of its website, which now says: “A part of the embryo starts to show cardiac activity. It sounds like a heartbeat on an ultrasound, but it’s not a fully-formed heart — it’s the earliest stage of the heart developing.”

Why the change? A Planned Parenthood spokesperson told the Washington Post:

  • “As anti-abortion lawmakers and activists seeking to control people’s health care decisions continue to peddle misinformation and even codify medical inaccuracies into law, it’s critical that people get unbiased information from actual experts, like health care providers and educators.” Julia Bennett, digital education and learning strategy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement in response to questions from The Health 202.

  • Bennett also said Planned Parenthood’s website is regularly updated “to ensure that information is medically accurate, reflects the latest science and is accessible to learners.”

Writers have been drawing attention to Planned Parenthood’s correct statement since at least 2015 that a “a very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop” by six weeks of pregnancy. The only reason to scrub the website is to make it conform to political messaging against laws protecting the lives of human beings after that very basic heartbeat is detectable.

Economy & Business

Today in Capital Matters: The Jones Act

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I write about the incoherence of Biden’s support for the Jones Act:

You can be “the most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history,” or you can be pro-competition; you can’t be both. You can support protectionist policies that favor domestic industry, or you can support reducing consumer prices; you can’t support both. Biden’s backing of the Jones Act is a perfect illustration of these contradictions, which ultimately make his economic policy incoherent and self-defeating.

Read the whole thing here.

Politics & Policy

Mandela Barnes: ‘I really could not care less about a 2nd Amendment “right”’

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a new article today on Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes’s free-wheeling left-wing tweets: 

Denigrating the idea that George Washington was a great president will probably hurt Barnes, but his most damaging tweets may have been his comments about the Second Amendment:

Barnes once said he “really could not care less about a 2nd Amendment ‘right’” to bear arms. He also criticized House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana for not changing his position on gun control after being shot in the hip during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in 2017.

“Taking one for the team,” Barnes wrote even as Scalise was using crutches and a scooter to get around the Capitol. “I question how people vote against self interest but this is next level. He literally almost died on this hill.”

​​Barnes has also been hurt by a comment, now the focus of an NRSC ad, in which he said: “The minute you talk about reducing a police department’s budget, then it’s like all hell breaks loose. It’s about reallocating funds.” 

White House

This Is Biden at 79 

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President Joe Biden speaks at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

At a public event yesterday, President Biden asked if Representative Jackie Walorski, who died in a car accident in August, was present in the room. As Jim noted, the White House made the gaffe worse by refusing to admit that the president had a “senior moment.” This is clearly a president and an administration worried about questions of whether Biden has the mental acuity to serve another term in the White House.

The White House press secretary’s absurd denial was widely covered by the mainstream press. Here’s the New York Times’ write-up:

Reporters asked repeatedly why Mr. Biden would appear to look for Ms. Walorski in the audience if her death was “top of mind” and he was thinking of the upcoming meeting with her family.

“The confusing part is, why, if she and the family is top of mind, does the president think that she’s living and in the room?” one reporter asked.

“I don’t find that confusing,” Ms. Jean-Pierre responded. “I mean, I think many people can speak to: Sometimes when you have someone top of mind, they are top of mind, exactly that.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre appeared to get frustrated by the repeated questions about Mr. Biden’s remarks. Asked whether there was something written in the teleprompter that confused the president during his remarks, she said that was not the case.

“You’re jumping to a lot of conclusions,” she said to the reporter. “I just answered the question. If that had been the case, I would have stated that.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre said she did not see the need to distribute the president’s remarks as they were prepared ahead of delivery, saying, “I’m not understanding why that would be necessary.”

At the end of her daily briefing, Ms. Jean-Pierre gave her final answer to the question.

“I’ve answered it multiple times already in this room, and my answer is certainly not going to change,” she said. “All of you may have views on how I’m answering it, but I am answering the question to the way that he saw it. And the way that we see it.”

Biden is still 79 until November, and he would turn 86 before the end of a second term. His age will be a major point of criticism if he runs again, but it’s an argument that would be seriously undermined if Republicans nominate Donald Trump, who would himself be 82 years old during a final year in office. 

Politics & Policy

Turning America into a Society Based on Caste

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The main reason why so many millions of people came to the U.S. was because we had a liberal society based on individual achievement. But we are sliding away from that and into one where government hands out favors or punishments based on your caste. That terrible trend has been driven by the Democrats in search of political victories, and it has been pretty successful for them at the expense of social cohesion and economic progress.

On his Cafe Hayek blog today, Professor Don Boudreaux has some thoughts that are worth sharing. Here’s his quotation of the day from the 2006 Liberty Fund edition of Ludwig von Mises’s The Anti-capitalistic Mentality:

In a society based on caste and status, the individual can ascribe adverse fate to conditions beyond his own control.

Read Professor Boudreaux’s thoughts on this quotation here.

Paul Waldman’s WaPo Defense of Joe Biden’s Illegal Conduct Is So Brazen It Defies Belief

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The Washington Post Company headquarters in Washington, March 30, 2012 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Paul Waldman has penned an utterly execrable piece in today’s Washington Post, in which he attempts with a straight face to argue that the bad actors in the student-loan “forgiveness” litigation are . . . the people who are trying to uphold the rule of law. “It took a month,” Waldman writes,

but the inevitable has happened. Conservatives have filed a lawsuit asking the courts to nullify the Biden administration’s decision to forgive up to $10,000 in student loans (and $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants for low-income borrowers) for the tens of millions of Americans burdened by education debt.

Why, one must

Elections

Wisconsin Senate: Johnson Leads Barnes 51 Percent to 46 Percent in New Poll

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This is the best poll of the year for Republican Ron Johnson in the crucial Wisconsin Senate race: 

Other recent polls have shown the race — which could be the most important contest in the country — close to dead even.

Elections

Pennsylvania Senate Poll: Fetterman 45 Percent, Oz 41 Percent

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It’s not just Arizona and Ohio where there’s been a big split between the performance of GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidates. 

The latest Fox poll shows a competitive Pennsylvania race for Senate — with Democrat John Fetterman leading Republican Mehmet Oz 45 percent to 41 percent — but a blowout in the gubernatorial race where Democrat Josh Shapiro leads Republican Doug Mastriano 51 percent to 40 percent:

The new Fox polls are right in line with the polling averages.

The split in Pennsylvania isn’t all that surprising if you read George Will’s recent columns making the case against Fetterman and against Mastriano.

Immigration

Terrorists Crossing the Border

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Border Patrol surveys the border fence near rancher John Ladd’s property adjacent to the Arizona-Mexico border near Naco, Ariz., March 29, 2013. (Samantha Sais/Reuters)

One of the more disturbing aspects of the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the southern border is the increase in the number of individuals apprehended who are on the FBI’s terror watch list. Seventy-eight individuals on that list have been detained by Border Patrol this fiscal year, an alarming increase over the last five years:

2017 — 2

2018 — 6

2019 — 0

2020 — 3

2021 — 15

2022 — 78

Since individuals on the terror watch list have a special incentive to avoid capture, the number of suspected terrorists attempting to cross — or successfully crossing — the border is likely far higher. Border Patrol agents estimate that the percentage of ordinary “gotaways” (illegal immigrants Border Patrol has directly or indirectly detected evading interdiction) is anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the number of illegal immigrants apprehended. It’s unlikely the percentage of terrorist gotaways is lower.

After 19 terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, federal officials famously vowed to “Never Forget.” Twenty-one years later, President Biden seems to be saying, “What, me worry?”

Why the White House Tries to Pretend That Biden Doesn’t Forget Things

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President Joe Biden arrives to speak at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Most of us with eyes can see what happened. President Biden forgot that the late Representative Jackie Walorski died in a car accident last month. “Representative Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? I think she was going to be here to make this a reality.” Biden had no ill intent, he just plain forgot.

But the Biden team refuses to acknowledge this, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre going to absurd lengths to insist that Biden did not misspeak.

Why is the White House being so stubborn about this? Probably because admitting any uncomfortable public memory lapse by Biden will reopen the

Religion

How’s the Synod Going?

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Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich S.J., Archbishop of Luxembourg, greets Pope Francis at the opening of the Synodal Path at the Vatican, October 9, 2021. (Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters)

Pope Francis has inflicted on the Catholic Church a new Synod. The topic is Synodality. Here are images the Vatican itself is posting to the Synod’s Facebook page:

A female priest, and a person in a Pride T-Shirt representing the future that demands to be heard at the Synod now. Another image that groups “liturgy” and “fidelity” with abuse, intolerance, and exclusion. And another that misspells hypocrisy.

The Catholic Church is in the midst of deploying the highest authority it claims as a teacher and preserver of the Gospel. Why then is it using this forum to showcase itself as little different from a Soros-funded NGO vision of what kindergarten should look like?

Media

Did Climate Change Create Ian?

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One of the issues that it’s hardest to get reliable information about in the media is the effect climate change might be having on extreme weather. As the Don Lemon clip that Charlie shared below demonstrates, we are going to hear a lot about climate change over the next few days — much of it hysterical and wrong. Roger Pielke Jr. recently had a level-headed, factual review of the evidence that’s worth taking a look at.

The Need for Tradition

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I wrote a column recently about why Europeans make such a fuss about tradition.

The Split in Arizona’s Top Races

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Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, August 6, 2022. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

When all is said and done in the 2022 midterm elections, a lot of people who root for or against Donald Trump will insist that he was the key figure, and either blame him for Republican losses or credit him for Republican wins. If Republicans disappoint, you’ll see a lot of voices on the Right arguing that the GOP hurt its chances by nominating Trump-endorsed, inexperienced, lightweight candidates who simply weren’t ready for prime time or who were too extreme for the states they wanted to represent. From where I sit, that’s a generally accurate argument, but that’s only part

Politics & Policy

‘I Definitely Am More Closeted Being a Gun Owner, for Fear of Retaliation’

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Black gun owners take part in a rally in support of the second amendment in Oklahoma City, Okla., June 20, 2020. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

CNN has a good piece today on “America’s new gun owners,” who, the network suggests, “aren’t who you’d think”:

Several times a week you can hear gunfire echoing from Brandi Joseph’s scenic Southern California property. A licensed firearms instructor and dealer, Joseph decided to open Fortune Firearms in December to serve a growing and rapidly changing clientele.

“There is a huge uptick in female owners,” Joseph said. “Women are getting trained; women are carrying… liberal and conservative.”

Proof of that change pulled up Joseph’s long, dusty driveway in the San Jacinto Valley just before 10 a.m. for a Saturday social, of sorts. A group of seven African American women stepped out of their cars seemingly eager to start their first firearms training session.

Some of these people, CNN notes, have been criticized by their friends for having chosen to exercise their rights:

Nguyen says his clients are mostly liberal and from all backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations. He prides himself on creating an inclusive student base.

“The more I educate those who are formally anti-gun the more they actually realize that there’s more nuance to it,” he said.

Both Mendez and Regalado now have their own guns and are working toward getting their concealed carry permits. But they avoid talking about their guns with friends, who they say are firmly anti-gun.

“They’re really not open to understanding,” Mendez said. Adding that she feels more comfortable discussing her same-sex relationship with friends than her guns. “I definitely am more closeted being a gun owner, for fear of retaliation.”

. . . but not, apparently, by right-leaning gun owners:

Both Mendez and Regalado at first worried about the type of people they encounter at the gun range, many of whom, they say, advertise their conservative politics in what they’re wearing or listening to.

“It’s mostly all men, mostly all white men, older men like 70s, 80s,” Mendez said. “Seeing people looking at us, and kind of just staring… It always makes us more uncomfortable. Because we’re like, ‘oh my God are they going to come and tell us, like, get out of here… you don’t belong here.’”

Instead, they’ve gotten a different reaction.

“They’re like, ‘Hey, you’re doing well, but can I show you something that might help you more?,” Mendez said.

Mendez says not only has it changed her impression of those individuals, but she also believes it’s given some a different perception of people like her.

“When I (came) back the next day, (one of the men) was like, ‘Hey! I saw your wife out there – she looks nice. Tell her I said ‘hi’.”

This has long been my experience. Since I moved to America, I’ve shot at ranges in twenty or so states, and everyone at each has always got on fine. The idea that non-white Americans are only just getting into shooting is a little bit of an overstatement — when I lived in Connecticut, I was a minority at the range at which I used to practice — but it is undoubtedly true that gun ownership has grown increasingly racially diverse, and that anti-gun progressives are annoyed by this. For years, gun-control activists have suggested that all it would take for them to get the strict regulations they covet is for “blacks/Muslims/Hispanics” to “start buying guns.” And, for years, this has been nothing more than projection. As CNN’s story illustrates, it’s not Second Amendment advocates who have an issue with non-whites owning guns; it’s the people who claim most loudly to champion diversity, but balk the minute that diversity leads to a political or ideological outcome that they personally happen to dislike.

Politics & Policy

Manchin Gets Predictably Burned by Progressives

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) attends the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2022. (Al Drago/Pool via Reuters)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how progressives were intent on betraying West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, even after he cast his vote in favor of their much sought-after Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) monstrosity. It now appears that the credulous senator’s fanciful dreams of an oil-and-gas permitting revolution — his condition for his IRA support — will remain just that, thanks to liberal Democrats in the Senate working alongside their Republican colleagues.

The unlikely bedfellows banded together to prevent the reform proposal’s inclusion in a stopgap funding bill that staves off the potential for a government shutdown until after the midterm elections. But those looking to blame Republicans for this legislative failure should revisit how we got here.

Irrespective of the policy merits, Republicans had every right to block Manchin’s legislative baby from coming to fruition. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) decides what gets a vote, and he prevented the GOP’s further-reaching proposal from coming to the floor. It’s fair to argue that Republicans shouldn’t have let perfect be the enemy of the good, but why would they lend Manchin a hand on a bill they had zero input in drafting?

Manchin also should have known better than to trust Democratic leadership, which has its hands tied by the once-fringe progressive faction of their party. The fact that Democratic leaders didn’t hold up their end of the bargain and cynically threw the Mountain State maverick under the bus is no surprise to anyone paying attention to politics the last few years.

There’s a lesson Senator Manchin can learn from this hoodwinking — the one about what happens when you play with fire. 

Who Blew Up the Nord Stream Pipelines?

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Security walk next to the landfall facility of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin, Germany, September 19, 2022. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

Who destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines?

After admitting that, “at first glance it seems as if the Russians have no incentive to destroy their ability to tempt Europe with surrendering Ukraine in exchange for turning the gas taps back on this winter,” Mark Wright laid out the case for believing that Russia sabotaged it. He argues it could be “a capability demonstration and a threat to Western energy infrastructure.” Or that it could be a message from Putin to the Russian deep state that the old economic model is dead and gone, and that ending the war in Ukraine won’t bring back

Economics

Today in Capital Matters: SEC

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Jennifer Schulp of the Cato Institute writes about how the SEC has created uncertainty for businesses:

Earlier in September, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Gary Gensler appeared for the second time before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to provide the agency’s annual oversight testimony. His first appearance had demonstrated his commitment to an ambitious and aggressive SEC agenda that would limit investor options under the guise of so-called investor protection. While a lot has changed in the past year — consider the 34 rule proposals — Gensler’s commitment to his agenda has not wavered. That’s a shame.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Unfortunately, such a hobgoblin stalks Gensler’s thinking in two important areas: cryptocurrency regulation and climate-risk disclosures.

David Bahnsen talks to Larry Kudlow on the latest episode of the Capital Record. You don’t want to miss this one. Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Elections

New Poll: Oregon Governor’s Race a Dead Heat

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(Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

National Review’s editorial this morning, “Oregon’s Republican Hope,” outlined the GOP’s unusually viable shot in the Oregon governor’s race this November:

Despite the state’s decisive lean left, Kate Brown, the term-limited outgoing Democratic governor, has repeatedly been rated as the least popular governor in the country. Tina Kotek, the Democratic nominee in the governor’s race — and a close ally of Brown’s during her tenure as the speaker of the Oregon House — is facing tough headwinds, above and beyond the overall national conditions. An unusually viable and well-funded Democrat-turned-independent, Betsy Johnson, is polling in the low 20s in her candidacy for governor and could peel off crucial Democratic votes. And Christine Drazan, the Republican hopeful who previously served as minority leader in the Oregon House, is as serious and competent a candidate as Oregon Republicans — who have often opted to nominate deeply flawed long shots in the past — could hope for.

Considering all this, political analysts have repeatedly tightened their ratings for the Oregon governor’s contest. In August, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics changed its assessment of the race from “Leans Democrat” to “Toss-Up.” In July, the Cook Political Report moved its rating from “Likely Democrat” to “Lean Democrat”; in September, the group downgraded again, from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up.” The available polling shows Drazan and Kotek virtually tied in the low 30s, with Johnson trailing ten points or so behind.

With that being said, as I wrote this weekend, “There’s been very little public polling available on the race — the most recent survey on FiveThirtyEight’s poll aggregator is from mid August.” But right on cue, just hours after NR’s editorial this morning, the Oregonian released a new poll showing that the race is still effectively tied:

“That puts Drazan, the former House Republican leader, and Kotek, the former House Speaker, in a statistical tie for first place given the poll’s margin of error, plus or minus 4%,” the Oregonian reports. “About 15% of voters remain undecided. . . . The poll of 600 likely Oregon voters was conducted on Friday and Saturday of last week.”

West Virginia Governor May Be after Manchin’s Seat

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D, W.Va.) speaks to journalists during a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 8, 2022. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

For a savvy politician, Joe Manchin appears to have lost his touch.

Last month, the man who reveled in his leverage in an evenly divided Senate suddenly signed on to Joe Biden’s $739 billion spending spree, called, in one of the howlers of all time, “The Inflation Reduction Act.” In exchange, Manchin finally got the plaudits of the elite media and a promise from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that a Manchin bill making it easier to permit energy pipelines (including a key one in a West Virginia pipeline) would have support.

On Tuesday, Manchin himself yanked the bill off the Senate floor

History

On American History, Ron DeSantis Is Far Closer to the Truth Than Randi Weingarten

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Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787 by Junius Brutus Stearns, 1856 (Public Domain/Wikimedia)

Randi Weingarten thinks she’s caught Ron DeSantis in a misdescription of American history:

But Weingarten is much more wrong here than is DeSantis. It is, indeed, an overstatement for DeSantis to claim that “no one had questioned” slavery in America before the Declaration of Independence. Some had, as the 1772 Somerset case showed. But it is not at all an overstatement to draw a direct link between the American Revolution and the explosion of abolitionist sentiment in America. Sure, the American Revolution was “about leaving Britain.” And yet, as Abraham Lincoln would put it decades later, Thomas Jefferson, “in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.” His decision to do so had profound consequences.

DeSantis, note, does not say that the American Revolution was fought over slavery. He says that the American Revolution “caused people to question slavery.” It did. As John Ferling notes in Whirlwind, the rhetoric of the Revolution mattered so much that, “within thirty years of Lexington and Concord, every northern state had acted to end slavery, either immediately or gradually.” Or, as DeSantis put it: once we had “decided as Americans that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights,” it became much more difficult to say “but not them.” The language of revolution, which had been in the air since 1774, helped along the language of abolition; and, in turn, the language of abolition helped along the language of revolution. The Anti-slavery Society was founded in Philadelphia in 1775. Vermont banned slavery in its Constitution in 1777. Pennsylvania banned slavery legislatively in 1780. And so on.

As for Weingarten’s own history? It doesn’t make much sense. She says “if America’s founders questioned slavery there would not have been the heinous ‘3/5 compromise’ in the US Constitution, which was drafted and enacted AFTER the American Revolution.” But, quite obviously, that compromise was the product of there being a large number of Americans who had “questioned slavery.” Between 1780 and 1784 — that’s after the Revolution had been declared — five of the thirteen states banned slavery. If they hadn’t, no apportionment compromise would have been necessary.

Would it have been better if the Constitution had banned slavery everywhere? Yes, it would. Was that on the table? Alas, it was not. The choice was the maintenance of slavery and the passage of a new constitution, or the maintenance of slavery and no new constitution. The drafters of that new constitution — who were divided on the question of slavery — chose the former, and, in so doing, improved upon the status quo. The clause abolishing the slave trade after 1808 (which was taken up by Congress at the first possible opportunity) made things better than they had been. James Madison’s decision to downplay any explicit references to slavery — Madison said, during the debates, that he “thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men” — made things better than they had been. So, too, did the decision to abolish slavery in the Northwest Territory, which was made by the Congress of the Confederation while the Constitution Convention was in session. This, to borrow a phrase from Weingarten, is “basic history.”

I was tempted to conclude here by suggesting that the president of a teachers union should probably be less willing to embarrass herself in public in pursuit of transparently partisan aims. But . . . well, you know.

The Economy

My Favorite Episode Yet: Kudlow Joins Capital Record

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Larry Kudlow, Former Director of the United States National Economic Council, speaks during a panel at the America First Policy Institute America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2022. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

Those interested in what plagues the American economy could hardly do better than hearing Larry Kudlow discuss that very topic. I may be biased in saying this, but those interested in developing a better basis for understanding the economy, and particularly the basis for defending free enterprise, could hardly do better than becoming a regular listener to National Review’s Capital Record podcast. Well, this week we get two for the price of one (which is still free to you), and that is Larry Kudlow’s economic diagnosis on the Capital Record podcast:

In any event what they have done is taken a pretty healthy economy recovering from Covid, they basically inherited a boom with low inflation and very moderate energy prices, and because of policy mistakes — massive overspending, massive overregulation, over $200 billion worth in one year, a world record — and now higher taxes on business … they have taken a boom and turned it into a bust.

You have to listen to this Thursday’s Capital Record with Larry Kudlow to fully grasp the nature of what plagues us economically, and at the same time hear and appreciate Kudlow’s significant history with Bill Buckley and National Review, as well as the prescription for what can deliver on the conservative vision going forward. It was a special conversation, and worthy of your attention:

Bill Buckley believed in freedom, and free markets, and capitalism, and he was a great anti-Communist, and he was a religious man, a high church Catholic, but Bill Buckley taught us how to conduct civil discussions or disagreements. That is a lost art. He taught me that. At a time in my life when I needed somebody to give me direction and guidance on how to live, and he was essential to that. As much as his brilliance and his devotion to freedom and to America, that’s what I learned from Bill Buckley.

Economics. Civility. History. Truly remarkable stories. Deep reflection on past, present, and future. This podcast episode has it all, and it drops the very day Larry Kudlow receives the William F. Buckley Prize for Leadership in Political Thought at the annual National Review gala. I found this conversation to be my very favorite of the nearly 100 episodes we have done so far, and I hope you will, too.

Capital Record, once more, can be found here, and is also available wherever you get your podcasts.

Energy & Environment

Another ‘Clean Energy’ Myth

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Wind power is free and clean! All we have to do is put up some turbines to capture it.

So say our “green” advocates. But how clean are those turbines?

To build one requires a lot of inputs that aren’t free as the wind — for example, copper wiring.

As John Hinderaker points out in this PowerLine post, each wind turbine needs some 8,000 pounds of copper. Copper has to be mined using massive amounts of energy. The same groups that love wind power also hate copper mining.

Instead of picking energy winners and losers through subsidies and regulations, the government should leave the production of energy up to market competition.

Education

The Growing Intolerance in Higher Education

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American higher education used to embrace controversy, but these days anyone who says something to offend the “progressive” zealots on campus is apt to find himself or herself facing an academic lynch mob. Those people have power and like using it to punish their opponents.

In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Richard Vedder looks at this troubling trend. He writes, “It is interesting but depressing to me that the more eminent a college or university is perceived to be, the more outrageous are efforts by administrators to stifle individual expression and enforce a numbing conformity of ideas reminiscent of universities in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.”

Indeed so. We find a “party line” on many topics today that insists on conformity to official beliefs. Woe betide anyone who dissents — such as Penn law professor Amy Wax. A mob of students and fellow faculty members wants her gone, and the administration is going along with them.

Vedder continues, “Professor Wax apparently has a very low tolerance for ‘snowflakes,’ students whose extremely fragile state of mind leads them to want to be protected from hearing uncomfortable words. Amy dares to say in class, for example, that, on average, some racial groups fare better in college than others, a factually accurate statement but one that many view as impermissible because it isn’t ‘inclusive.’”

The law school’s dean, rather than telling the students to behave like adults in a professional school, has decided to side with them. Higher-ed administrators once prided themselves on defending academic freedom for all, but now academic freedom is reserved for those who say the right things.

What is to be done? Vedder concludes, “The ultimate solution likely involves reducing financial support for the aggressively woke suppression of ideas, along with the creation of new institutions that are aware of the problems mentioned above—schools like the new University of Austin, which, one hopes, will tolerate brilliant if eccentric and controversial scholars like Amy Wax.”

Media

Don Lemon: Climate Change, Climate Change, Climate Change

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CNN’s Don Lemon speaks during a televised townhall with Democratic presidential candidates in Los Angeles, Calif., October 10, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

From CNN’s Don Lemon comes a nice example of the total inability of so many in the media to discuss any topic outside of their preferred frames. The acting director of NOAA’s Hurricane Center, Jamie Rohme, wants to talk about Hurricane Ian. But Lemon isn’t interested in Hurricane Ian. He’s interested in climate change. So he talks about that instead:

“We can come back and talk about climate change at a later time,” says the director, before giving an explanation of Ian’s intensification patterns and the formation of a second eyewall. “Pretty interesting for your viewers,” he suggests.

But not, apparently, for Lemon, who insists that his guest had “said you want to talk about climate change” — which he hadn’t, as anyone with elementary social skills could have deduced — and immediately returns to where he started. “I don’t think you can link climate change to any one event,” says the director. “To link it to any one event, I would caution against that.”

To which Lemon responds that he grew up “there” — by which he didn’t mean Florida, but Louisiana; declares that “these storms are intensifying”; and then, with palpable irritation, moves on.

Beyond parody.

Health Care

‘Top Surgery’ for Teenage Girls

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Transgender flag at a protest against Trump administration policies in New York City, 2018 (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The New York Times published a piece by Azeen Ghorayshi on “top surgery,” a euphemism for amputating gender-distressed patients’ healthy breasts. Ghorayshi suggests that trans-identifying adolescents likely benefit from having healthy breasts removed and expresses disdain for legislation that prohibits these surgeries from being performed on minors.

In Florida, where the medical board is considering such a ban for minors, Gov. Ron DeSantis has argued that surgeons should be sued for “disfiguring” children. In Texas, where parents of transgender children have been investigated for child abuse, Gov. Greg Abbott has called genital surgeries in adolescents “genital mutilation.”

Dr. Bowers, the president of WPATH, said that politicians should not be involved in personal medical decisions. “They just don’t understand this care, so they just want to shut it down,” Dr. Bowers said. “That is a very dangerous precedent.”

As I noted earlier on the Corner, Bowers has also likened the loss of sexual functioning in post-surgical gender-distressed youth to victims of female genital mutilation. (He said: “I know that from my work with female genital-mutilation survivors that the lack of being able to be intimate with a partner is very important. And so, this is what really raised the red flag for me.”)

Given that doctors such as Bowers have almost admitted that, despite providing this “care,” they have scant idea about the long-term effects, why do they continue to experiment on patients? One obvious reason is financial. The Daily Wire’s report on the Vanderbilt transgender clinic indicated that there is as much as $40,000 to be made from a double mastectomy and as much as $100,000 to be made from phalloplasty.