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Elections

Well, This Political Ad Will Get Your Attention

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Salesman Ryan Martinez clears the chamber of an AR-15 at the ‘Ready Gunner’ gun store In Provo, Utah, June 21, 2016. (George Frey/Reuters)

Jerone Davison, a Republican who is running for Congress in Arizona’s fourth congressional district, released a campaign ad yesterday with the message “Make Rifles Great Again” and a video showing the candidate taking on the Ku Klux Klan with an AR-15. The tweet has 4 million views and over 27,000 likes as of this post.

In the video voiceover, Davison says:

Democrats like to say that ’No one needs an AR-15 for self-defense. That no one could possibly need all 30 rounds.’ But when this rifle is the only thing standing between your family and a dozen angry Democrats in Klan hoods, you just might need that semi-automatic and all thirty rounds.

 

In response to a tweet from someone criticizing Davison for what the person claims is an outdated problem — men in Klan hoods and robes — Davison explains, “I was born in 1970 in Mississippi. When the KKK came to town, I always felt safe, because my father had rifles to protect us.” He goes on to say that the ad is a depiction of a situation he faced when he was younger. 

This isn’t the first time this year that a GOP candidate for Congress has released a provocative political ad. Just a few weeks ago, Eric Greitens, the disgraced former Missouri governor now running for Senate in Missouri, released a political ad showing him going “RINO Hunting.” In the ad, Greitens and armed soldiers raid a home. Before entering the house, Greitens, wielding a shotgun, whispers, “The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice.” The ad could be interpreted as condoning political violence against certain Republicans. It was immediately criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Of course, Davison’s ad is starkly different: He is taking on white supremacists, not people of a different political bent. Surprisingly, Twitter has not yet taken down Davison’s tweet. While the ad is melodramatic, it gets the point across: Firearms can help minorities defend themselves against people who pose threats to them and their families. And it effectively weaponizes Democrats’ claims against them. According to the Left, white supremacists, whom they equate with Republicans, lurk in every corner of America. Far-left Democrats often say that being black in America is dangerous. If that is true, using their logic, why shouldn’t a black American own an AR-15? Also, if you buy the progressive argument that the police are systemically racist, then blacks should not have to rely solely on police for protection. Suddenly, it is becoming clearer why Twitter has yet to remove Davison’s ad.  

Davison’s political ad may be over the top, but it conveys an important political message to Democrats who advocate sweeping gun-control measures that would disarm law-abiding Americans.

Politics & Policy

On Universal Chargers and Smoking Bans

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(Pixabay)

A trio of Left-wing Senators is pushing the Department of Commerce to follow the lead of the EU, which recently mandated that all mobile devices use the same kind of charger.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Ed Markey cite, “the economic and environmental harm inflicted by the consumer electronics industry’s failure to establish uniform charging accessory standards — a shortcoming that requires consumers to frequently change their charging accessories.”

This is one of those issues in which I adamantly oppose government involvement in principle, yet would benefit in practice were it ever implemented. One case I would compare it to is smoking bans. On ideological grounds, I passionately oppose the idea of government forcing private businesses to bar patrons from smoking when customers have the option of taking their business elsewhere.  But as a non-smoker, in practice, I have greatly appreciated the ability to go to a bar and restaurant without coming back and having my clothes smell like an ashtray.

As I write, I am sitting at a desk with dedicated drawer for all these random charging devices, some of which are probably obsolete (but you never know), and some of which might charge something or other at some point.

How many different USB variations are there? Dozens? Why does there have to be a type A, B, and C? Why are mini and micro USBs two separate things? This of course doesn’t get into lightning chargers, or the various adapters that are required to make one charger or another usable.

I am sure there are legitimate arguments for why different chargers are needed to serve evolving electronic demands as well as design preferences. And on principle, I oppose the idea of the federal government meddling in such a manner. Just as, to this day, I still oppose smoking bans. But man, having to maintain a pile of charger spaghetti sure is annoying.

World

Boris Johnson Fell Because Character Matters

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, January 31, 2022. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

When Boris Johnson rose to the top of the British government in July 2019 and then won a resounding snap-election victory in December on the lingering Brexit question, I said that if he did nothing else, Brexit would ensure him a legacy. Having gotten Brexit done, he has his legacy, but he did nothing else. The lesson, as always, is that character matters in a national leader. There is no doubting the talents of Boris Johnson; he has cleverness, flair, mischievous wit, erudition with a common touch, a deep grasp of history, and a studied devotion to Churchillian rhetoric. He has the gift of making the most calculated maneuvers look spontaneous and heartfelt. He is good copy, and is a natural on the small screen. He understood that David Cameron, Theresa May, and Jeremy Corbyn had combined to leave a yawning opportunity: Labour was unelectable, yet the Conservatives would not stand for a leader opposed to Brexit. What was lacking was someone among the elites to run as a pro-Brexit Conservative, so Boris did. With nerve and verve and daring — and even the willingness to provoke a constitutional crisis — he got it done just before the Covid pandemic hit.

And . . . that was it. The subsequent two years have been one fool thing after another, and mass resignations in his Cabinet have finally forced him to go. Boris might return; he has the gift of a Nixon or a Netanyahu for improbable regenerations. Part of his problem, it is true, was the philosophical incoherence of his party and electoral coalition. But much of the issue was the flawed character of the man, well-known when he volunteered as the instrument of a national cause, and apparent in every dreary particular since its attainment. Boris is not honest, he is not moral, and he is not prudent. His audacity in seizing opportunity is not matched by integrity or constancy. That caught up with him because, sooner or later, it always does.

Politics & Policy

Campaign Spokesman: Fetterman Is ‘Living a Pretty Normal Life Right Now’

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John Fetterman speaks at a meet-and-greet at the Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Penn., May 1, 2022. (Hannah Beier/Reuters)

Remember the report that Hillary Clinton had “fainted” during the 9/11 ceremony in 2016, and then watching the video of her staff trying to help the stiff, seriously troubled Clinton into a van, and her body being so immobilized that she lost her shoe getting into the vehicle? Remember when Clinton’s campaign blamed her public coughing fits on “allergies” and then later revealed that Clinton had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia?

Remember President Trump’s personal doctor who wrote a public letter declaring Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” but who later said that Trump had dictated the letter he signed? Remember when Mark Meadows revealed that Trump had tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden? Remember when we belatedly learned that during his Covid-19 infection, Trump’s blood-oxygen levels fell into the 80s, and aides feared for his life?

Remember back in January 2020, when Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced that her fourth treatment for cancer was successful, and declared she was cancer free? Remember back on July 14, 2020, when Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment of an infection, and a court spokesman described the justice as “home and doing well”?  Remember when RBG passed away about two months later from what the court described as “complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer”?

Remember when the then-78-year-old Joe Biden didn’t release any updates on his health for nearly two years, and then Biden’s physician declared the president was “fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations”? Remember just three weeks ago, when the 47-year-old White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed she had a hard time keeping up with Biden’s boundless energy level and stamina?

Are you starting to see a bipartisan pattern here? Powerful political figures do not like to admit that they are facing health problems, even when they’re serious or life-threatening. They always want the public to see them as the paragons of physical health, no matter their age. And these figures often feel their right to privacy outweighs the public’s right to know.

If John Fetterman’s Senate campaign feels like their declaration that he’s “getting better every day and will be back on the campaign trail really soon . . . his recovery is going smoothly and he is right on track” is being greeted with undue skepticism . . . cut the public and press some slack for being wary.

To hear the Fetterman campaign tell it, the candidate is back to normal:

Day to day, Mr. Fetterman is “living a pretty normal life right now,” his campaign spokesman said. He’s been going out on dates with his wife, to dinner with his family, and has taken day trips to Erie and Johnstown, Mr. Calvello added.

“Gisele has him running errands like picking up groceries at Aldi and Giant Eagle, driving his kids to friends’ houses and summer camp, and taking his truck to the auto shop to get worked on,” Mr. Calvello said.

He’s getting better, he is right on track, and he’s living a pretty normal life right now, in their words. It’s just that he can’t do campaign events and no one knows exactly when he will be able to do that again.

Experience has taught us that when a spokesman says a political figure is in fine health, they’re not always in fine health. If and when Fetterman makes a public appearance and sits down for a lengthy interview and appears to be in fine shape, those concerns and questions will dissipate. Until then, Pennsylvanians have good reason to wonder if they’re being told the whole story.

Trade

Avoiding California, Shippers Clog East Coast and Gulf Ports Instead

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A ship stacked with shipping containers is unloaded on a pier at Port Newark, N.J., in 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

As overall import levels continue to rise and the peak shipping season begins, shippers have been routing more traffic away from California and toward ports on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

This trend has been ongoing for quite a while (I first noted it last October), but a new piece in the Journal of Commerce explains the issue in full. There are many more ports on the East Coast and the Gulf Coast than on the West Coast, but each of them has a much smaller capacity than the Los Angeles/Long Beach complex that handles most West Coast shipping.

The JOC article says that while West Coast imports declined by 3.5 percent in the first five months of 2022, East Coast imports increased by 6.1 percent and Gulf Coast imports increased by 21.3 percent. That’s causing congestion. According to DHL, Houston, Savannah, New York/New Jersey, and Norfolk are seeing significant congestion, while Miami and Charleston are doing well for the time being.

These ports usually don’t see significant congestion at all, which presents new challenges for port authorities. According to the JOC, the story is the same as on the West Coast. Containers are piling up onshore, and storage space is running low. Empty containers are also stacking up, reducing capacity and causing backups.

One advantage that many East Coast ports have over Los Angeles/Long Beach, from an organizational perspective, is that they are run by state-level authorities, rather than the relatively small and dysfunctional municipal governments of Southern California. The ports are treated as assets for the statewide economy, and expansion projects are usually better managed. The Port of Virginia has invested in some forms of automation, leading to very high productivity compared with other U.S. ports. The Georgia Ports Authority has invested heavily in expanding the Port of Savannah’s container capacity, and the Alabama Port Authority is investing in its intermodal capabilities at the Port of Mobile.

These ports could become much more important in the near future, as labor negotiations threaten to disrupt operations at Los Angeles/Long Beach. East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers are represented by a different union with totally different labor contracts than on the West Coast. As recent events around the world have shown, unions have no qualms about making supply chains worse, and shippers have good reason to be skeptical of the sunny claims that no work stoppages are forthcoming. With automation at issue, and the self-styled “most pro-union president” in the White House, the West Coast dockworkers know they have leverage, and they’re not hesitant about using it.

Regardless of those negotiations, California’s AB5 law is now in effect for trucking, which will certainly disrupt transportation once containers get onshore. It’s probably smart to avoid California right now, which means our East and Gulf Coast ports will likely need to step up even more in the coming months than they already have.

International

Business Exit from China Accelerating

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A soldier facing the Tiananmen Gate stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, in 2016. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

Ryan Beene of Bloomberg writes:

There has been a sense in financial circles that the fever among American executives to shorten supply lines and bring production back home would prove short-lived. As soon as the pandemic started to fade, so too would the fad, the thinking went.

And yet, two years in, not only is the trend still alive, it appears to be rapidly accelerating.

Beene’s evidence is a review of corporations’ earnings calls and conference presentations, which find increased discussion of “onshoring,” “nearshoring,” and “reshoring” since the start of 2020, and especially over the past four quarters.

It’s not just talk, though. It’s money and action, too:

The construction of new manufacturing facilities in the US has soared 116% over the past year, dwarfing the 10% gain on all building projects combined, according to Dodge Construction Network. There are massive chip factories going up in Phoenix: Intel is building two just outside the city; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is constructing one in it. And aluminum and steel plants that are being erected all across the south: in Bay Minette, Alabama (Novelis); in Osceola, Arkansas (US Steel); and in Brandenburg, Kentucky (Nucor). Up near Buffalo, all this new semiconductor and steel output is fueling orders for air compressors that will be cranked out at an Ingersoll Rand plant that had been shuttered for years.

Scores of smaller companies are making similar moves, according to Richard Branch, the chief economist at Dodge. Not all are examples of reshoring. Some are designed to expand capacity. But they all point to the same thing — a major re-assessment of supply chains in the wake of port bottlenecks, parts shortages and skyrocketing shipping costs that have wreaked havoc on corporate budgets in the US and across the globe.

In the past, says Chris Snyder, an industrials analyst at UBS, it was as simple as “if we need a new facility, it’s going in China.” Now, he says, “this is being thought through in a way that has never been done before.”

In January, a UBS survey of C-suite executives revealed the magnitude of this shift. More than 90% of those surveyed said they either were in the process of moving production out of China or had plans to do so. And about 80% said they were considering bringing some of it back to the US. (Mexico has also become a popular choice.)

Some of these moves are subsidy-induced, but many are not. By and large, businesses are responding to the negative incentives that Xi Jinping’s government has given them. It seems that the Shanghai Covid lockdowns were a turning point for many executives. As I wrote in April, those lockdowns made clear that the Chinese Communist Party values its political power and ideology more than foreign business. To many observers, that was clear long before then, but anyone in denial could not deceive himself any longer.

Perhaps counterintuitively, this means U.S. transportation systems are only going to be more important in the future. Many see issues such as port congestion as arising due to overreliance on Chinese production, but that’s not quite right. Whereas port congestion is currently driven by the importation of finished goods, more production occurring in the U.S. could mean congestion from importation of basic materials. There are also plenty of countries that stand to benefit from businesses leaving Xi behind. Indonesia and India, in particular, are looking to capitalize, and imports of finished goods from those countries would cause congestion just the same as imports from China.

Beene’s mention of Mexico is also important. Protectionist policies make cross-border trucking between Mexico and the U.S. difficult, and increased reliance on those supply networks would add strain to an already poorly functioning system. More production in Mexico has the potential to benefit both the U.S. and Mexico, especially border states in both countries, but it could be stymied by poor transportation policy.

Finally, new factories in the U.S. must be integrated into the domestic transportation network to be effective. That means more stress on our freight-rail network, which has not been performing well recently. Government is full of proposals to make things worse, from bureaucratic route planning to preventing technological progress to letting wasteful new Amtrak routes disrupt key freight-rail links. If freight rail becomes less competitive, more companies will resort to trucking instead, increasing highway-traffic congestion and air pollution.

The exit from China makes sense for many businesses and will probably have positive geopolitical consequences as the U.S. becomes less dependent on production in a communist regime. But the fundamental transportation problems the U.S. faces will remain the same, and some might even get worse.

Politics & Policy

Stirred from Slumber

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How bad is the crime situation out there? So bad that Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has taken up the desperate, radical idea of . . . arresting murder suspects.

I am pleased that the federal government is arresting suspects wanted for murder in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Maybe one day Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore will figure out how to do that — or at least give prosecuting criminals a try.

Theater

Into the Woods Revival: A Wonderful Tribute to Sondheim

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Into the Woods (Into the Woods on Broadway/via Facebook)

Seeing the curtain go up on the St. James Theatre’s revival of the late Stephen Sondheim’s magnum opus, Into the Woods, is a jarring experience. Rather than being in the pit, the orchestra is entirely on stage, in full view of the audience. The rest of the stage is quite bare, aside from a number of small props. At first, it looks clumsily and hastily thrown together. Then the music starts and the story begins.

The star-studded cast brings the show to life and animates the plain stage. We see the curtain open on three of our favorite classic fairy tales. On one side of the stage, Cinderella, played by Hamilton alumna Phillipa Soo, is pleading with her family to let her come with them to the prince’s ball. On the other side, Jack (Cole Thompson) of eventual beanstalk fame is begging his mother (Aymee Garcia) not to make him sell his best friend, Milky White, the family’s cow. 

Between them at center stage, a barren Baker and his wife, played by Brian d’Arcy James and Sara Bareilles, are visited first by Little Red Riding Hood (Julia Lester) and then by an old witch, played by Patina Miller, who tells them that she put a curse of childlessness on their family as punishment for the Baker’s father stealing from her garden. To break the curse, she says, they must bring her the ingredients for a special potion.

And so, all our characters independently venture into the woods for various reasons — to sell the cow, to go to the festival, to break the curse — meeting vicious wolves and falling in love with handsome princes (Gavin Creel and Joshua Henry) in the process.

As they begin their journeys, the set comes alive, with trees flying in from above the stage. Though the moment wows the audience, the show does not rely on it to draw the people in. From the first time the characters sing in unison during the opening number, audiences can not help but smile. That is the greatest strength of this revival: It knows it has an incredible cast and just lets their performances animate the show.

Thompson and Lester, the younger actors in the production, hold their own among the celebrity and broadway-baby leads. Though their solos are entertaining, their acting especially shines through. Lester plays Little Red’s becoming wise beyond her years after her encounter with the wolf particularly well, and her presence on stage is comedy gold.

Creel and Henry are equally as great in their princely parts, doing great justice to the song “Agony.” Similarly, d’Arcy James nails the emotional depth for the role of the Baker. Miller makes a wicked witch who imprisons her daughter and curses others a sympathetic character and hits the comedic parts of the role perfectly.

The best part of the show, of course, is Bareilles. Every note she sings is enthralling, especially her big number, “Moments in the Woods.” It should be unsurprising that a world-famous singer is talented at music. Praise of her singing certainly should not discount her acting, which is delightful.

Overall, the revival is a wonderful tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who passed away in November. Although he is gone, he left us the gift of his music, and it is entirely appropriate that we continue to perform it. The production’s strictly limited engagement ends August 21, so fans had better see it before it’s too late.

Politics & Policy

The Pro-Life Movement Wants Women and Girls to Have the Choice for Life

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Pro-life leaders Chris and Joan Bell with a Sister of Life before the March for Life in frigid January earlier this year. (Kathryn Jean Lopez)

My friend Chris Bell is in the Wall Street Journal today educating Elizabeth Warren and others about what his work at Good Counsel homes is really about — helping women see that they don’t have to choose abortion.

The more pro-life centers and resources are attacked — violently and by government in other ways — the more we need to ask abortion advocates: Are you really saying you are insisting on the right to a dead baby? Because that would be clarifying. And perhaps lead to some conversions.

From his oped:

Elizabeth Warren Smears Pro-Life Charities

We tell women the truth: Abortion isn’t their only option.

At Good Counsel, like many similar organizations throughout the country, we take in any pregnant woman in need. Most come from broken or dysfunctional homes and have nowhere else to go. They are welcome to stay with us for a year or longer. During that time, we help them develop child-rearing skills. We also provide budgeting and vocational assistance, nutritional advice and tips for a healthy lifestyle. Many women choose to work or go back to school. Our staff babysits—free of charge—while new moms begin to build a résumé. We do everything we can to help connect women to resources and support.

It isn’t easy. We have a curfew and a policy against alcohol and drug use. But every line is drawn with compassion and mercy.

Want to talk about deception? Many of the women who come to us have been told—by doctors, high-school counselors and social-service organizations—that abortion is their only option. They are told that having a baby means they’ll never finish school and won’t have a career. None of this is true, but I hear it every day.

Read the rest here.
Good Counsel’s website is here.
Here’s a recent interview that Charlie Camosy did with Chris.

Health Care

Prioritizing Pro-Life Health Care

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This afternoon, the National Review Institute, Christ Medicus Foundation, Her Plan, and MyCatholicDoctor teamed up to talk about priorities and practicalities for pro-life health care after Roe. Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, Louis Brown, and Chaney Mullins Gooley joined me. Watch at your convenience — and please share.

 

 

Elections

How Is John Fetterman’s Recovery Going?

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Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D., Penn.) takes a photo with supporters in Easton, Penn., May 1, 2022. (Hannah Beier/Reuters)

Back on June 7, Gisele Fetterman, the wife of Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, told CNN that her husband would likely return to the campaign trail sometime in July.

ZELENY (voice-over): It’s been 25 days since John Fetterman has stepped on to the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. His wife Gisele now tells CNN he may not reappear until next month.

GISELE FETTERMAN, JOHN FETTERMAN’S WIFE: I think he deserves a month of break to get back and come back as strong as ever because this is going to be a tough race and a really important race, and I want him to be fully ready for it.

ZELENY (on-camera): So maybe in July?

G. FETTERMAN: Maybe. I think so. Yes. That’s my hope.

Since suffering the stroke May 13, Fetterman has made no public appearances, other than his campaign releasing short videos. Hopefully, Fetterman’s recovery is proceeding smoothly. But Fetterman was unable to make any campaign appearances over the Independence Day weekend. His campaign says he will be campaigning again “really soon.”

“John is feeling good,” said Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s campaign spokesperson. “He is getting better every day and will be back on the campaign trail really soon. His recovery is going smoothly and he is right on track.”

It would be good news if that is indeed the case. But Pennsylvania Democrats likely remember that Fetterman’s initial explanation of his hospitalization was, at minimum, a lie of omission. Fetterman didn’t mention his diagnosis of cardiomyopathy — a weakened heart muscle — and initially downplayed what was later revealed to be a severe stroke; in a subsequent statement, Fetterman stated that he “almost died.” On June 4, the Washington Post reported, “his ability to have conversations rapidly has not fully recovered, though he is improving and doctors still predict a full recovery.”

Maybe Fetterman doesn’t need to campaign; the lone post-primary poll showed him well ahead of Republican nominee Mehmet Oz. But, at least at this moment, the Fetterman campaign has two contrary messages. The first is that Fetterman is recovering well and right on track, there are no long-term concerns, and no one should have any worries about his ability to campaign or perform the duties of a U.S. senator. The second is that no, of course he cannot appear in public yet, and no one knows when he will.

Capital Matters

Sad Times in Aspen: Technocrats Fret

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Sarah Bloom Raskin speaks during her Senate Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2022. (Bill Clark/Reuters)

Sarah Bloom Raskin is, it seems, unhappy that climate policy might be taken away from the unelected.

The Financial Times reports:

When Joe Biden’s White House announced last year that it wanted Sarah Bloom Raskin to become the Federal Reserve governor in charge of financial stability, she seemed a shoo-in: Raskin has previously served as deputy Treasury secretary and a Fed governor — and on both occasions Congress confirmed her with strong bipartisan support.

Not this time. Raskin, a Duke University law professor married to a Democratic congressman, is an expert on green legislation (among other things) and keen to incorporate climate change analysis into central banking policy and financial regulation. This horrifies some Republicans, it seems.

The tone in which the latter of those two paragraphs is written is revealing, but, coming from the FT, a paper that, it sometimes seems, rarely encounters a technocratic project that it doesn’t like, it’s not exactly surprising. These days the FT has embraced a kind of Davos-friendly climate fundamentalism, both within its pages and, via conferences and so on, as a business opportunity.

But should the idea of climate-change “analysis” entering into central-banking policy “horrify” Republicans? Yes.

As, for example, economist John Cochrane (repeatedly) and HSBC dissident Stuart Kirk have argued, the idea that climate change itself (the interventions of climate policy-makers is a different matter) will pose any material systemic financial risk is, to put it bluntly, absurd. The Fed should concentrate on its existing mandate, rather than try to extend it to a place where it has no business going. If Congress wishes to expand the Fed’s remit to enable the central bank to recast itself as a climate warrior, that would be a mistake, but it is Congress’s mistake to make, not something that the Fed has any right to do on its own behalf. The FT might not like that, but democracy is what it is.

The same goes for financial “climate” regulation of the type now being proposed by the SEC under its progressive chairman, Gary Gensler. The agency’s current proposals are an attempt to impose climate legislation without the bother of a legislature. Under the circumstances, Republicans, again, are right to be horrified. There’s also the small matter that Gensler’s proposals, through the damage they will inflict on investors, represent the opposite of what the agency is meant to be doing, but that, I suppose, is a topic for another time.

The FT:

So how does Raskin view the current state of green policymaking? Last week she spoke to me at the Aspen Ideas Festival — along with Michael Sheren, green policy adviser at the Bank of England — in her first general public appearance since her candidacy was blocked.

The fact that Bank of England has “a green policy adviser” will doubtless come as a relief to Brits, hard pressed at a time when their country’s inflation rate is running at 9.1 percent.

The FT:

Their message was sobering: Raskin says that the current backlash against green policies is not just dangerous, but occurring on a scale that is shocking even longtime Washington insiders. One sign of this can be seen in the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to impose greenhouse gas emissions controls on the power plant sector. This makes it hard for America to meet its targets for reducing emissions, Raskin says, since the power plant sector is the second-biggest source of greenhouse gases. It may also prevent other agencies, such as the SEC, from introducing their own green reforms.

Good. The impetus of such “reforms” (if not, of course, their small print) should come from democratically elected legislators, not regulators off on a crusade.

More nonsense then follows, but not to worry. The FT reports that, in Sheren’s view, the result of this backlash means that “the onus will be on private sector companies, such as the big American asset managers, to push forward the green agenda — without government mandates.”

Leave it to the oligarchs!

Corporatism, too, is what it is.

White House

Biden’s Failure to Free Brittney Griner Another Sign of Weakness

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Brittney Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury during the WNBA Finals in Phoenix, Ariz., October 13, 2021. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

After spending more than 140 days in a Russian prison, WNBA star Brittney Griner sent a handwritten letter to President Biden imploring him to help her return home. The letter followed unsuccessful efforts by her wife, Cherelle, to elicit the administration’s help in freeing Griner before her July 1 trial began. Griner was detained in the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on February 17 for traveling with a vaping cartridge and hashish oil in her luggage and then charged with large-scale transportation of drugs. If convicted in the Russian court, she faces up to ten years in prison. Russia’s foreign ministry says Griner can appeal her sentence or request clemency once she receives the verdict.

In her letter to Biden, Griner wrote, “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.” While Griner acknowledged that Biden was busy with many things, she implored the president to help bring her and other American prisoners in Russia home: “Please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees.” Griner ended her letter with a plea to Biden: “I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.” 

Cherelle Griner has alleged that Biden has done nothing to help Brittney get back to the U.S., despite her reaching out to the president multiple times. Both national-security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken to Cherelle over the phone. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed recently, “This is a priority for us.” In an interview on CBS Mornings on Tuesday, CBS anchor Gayle King asked Cherelle if she has heard back from Biden yet. “I still have not heard from him. And, honestly, it’s very disheartening.”

Today, Biden finally spoke on the phone with Cherelle about helping bring Brittney home. According to the White House Press Office, Biden told Cherelle that he is “working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible.” The president read Cherelle a draft of his letter to Brittney, which he plans to send today. While it is good that Biden is finally taking steps to secure Griner’s release, he should have taken action long ago. Speaking to the media on Monday, Griner’s coach made a good point: “If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?”

Griner, who says she voted for Biden, should have been home by now. Biden’s record of freeing Americans detained abroad falls far short of Trump’s. During his time in office, Trump brought home more than 50 Americans from 22 countries. Today, 55 Americans are being detained abroad. Representative Jim Jordan (R., Oh.) tweeted in mid-June, “Everyone knows President Trump would have negotiated Brittney Griner’s release by now.” Jordan may or may not be right, but whether it’s Americans stuck in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal or detainees in Russia, it appears President Biden cannot be relied on to perform this most essential mission: bringing Americans home. 

Politics & Policy

Illinois Governor Picks the Wrong Target after Shootings

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llinois Governor J.B. Pritzker delivers remarks at the North America’s Building Trades Unions legislative conference in Washington, D.C., April 9, 2019. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

It took only hours for Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker to demagogue the horrifying killing of seven people by a shooter during a Fourth of July event in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. Pritzker, who recently returned from a highly publicized trip to the key primary state of New Hampshire, is already positioning himself to run for president should Joe Biden decide not to seek reelection.

“There is no better day and no better time” to talk about gun control, Pritzker said as he railed against the “high-powered rifle” used by the captured shooter.

Pritzker ignored the fact that Illinois already has the sixth-most stringent set of gun controls in the country. Back in 2013, Highland Park itself banned AR-15s and AK-47s.

Keith Pekau, the mayor of the Chicago suburb of Orland Park, says that Pritzker is trying to hide his own involvement in making the public-safety climate in Illinois worse. “We have seen a 90 percent decline in mental health care beds in the state, and a 2021 report found that two out of five people in the state live in designated mental health shortage areas,” Pekau told Newsmax TV.

Pekau also said that the governor signed sweeping changes to the state’s criminal-justice system last year. Over the last 18 months, judges have been gradually forced to impose the least restrictive conditions possible to ensure a defendant’s appearance in court. Cash bail is to be completely abolished by the end of this year. The law also narrows the definition of felony murder, allows the bypassing of mandatory minimum sentences in cases involving drugs or retail theft, and permits anonymous parties to file allegations of police misconduct.

“Illinois is in the middle of a crime wave, and Pritzker is part of creating that problem and isn’t qualified to talk about any solutions,” said Pekau.

World

The Tory Suicide Impulse

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, August 18, 2021. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Boris Johnson came into office with a host of personal defects — many of which he was able to shine up and present, in the right light, as political assets. Now his government is facing a wave of high-profile resignations, and prognosticators are giving his premiership not years or even months but days. Here’s what my friend Ed West (subscribe to his Substack) writes about Johnson today:

However badly Boris Johnson’s career ends, it will surely be a better finale than that of his great-grandfather, the Turkish journalist, editor and liberal politician Ali Kemal. Almost exactly a century ago, following the trauma of defeat and the end of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal was attacked by a mob of soldiers, hanged from a tree, his head smashed in with cudgels before being beaten to death. I can’t imagine that the Tory backbenchers will go that far.

Well, then.

West focuses on the problem of Johnson’s “sleaze” and laziness, which is incompatible with the republican rectitude that democratic peoples demand of their leaders. Johnson is known to have run a loose ship at Downing Street — allowing his staff to party even as the country was locked down for Covid — a sin many find unforgivable. The unreported legends of his premiership — including debaucheries that would make the Medici family blush — also hurt him among the party faithful.

This has all tried the patience of his Tory party members. And West laments how little Tories have accomplished in their many years in power. The United Kingdom has a housing crisis more widespread and insidious than the one that plagues our major cities in the United States. It also needs terrific investment in its transportation. The closest that Johnson’s premiership ever came to addressing these was their plan to “level up” depressed and forgotten parts of England and Scotland — making them more attractive places to invest, work, and live. But this agenda has mostly been throwing cash around in a disorganized way. Johnson’s government has been in a rut. The scandals hit just as inflation did, and No. 10 got stuck in fighting to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol — a U.K.–EU–Ireland arrangement that provokes the Unionist community — to which Johnson agreed in order to deliver Brexit.

So, yes, of course there are problems with Johnson’s government. But there were years ahead for course correction. Johnson called for and won a landslide election in December 2019. He had solved two great problems for the Tory party. Theresa May had chipped away at Labour’s red wall, and then her premiership floundered on a pitchfork — she was stuck with a Brexit mandate from the public and a Remain majority in Parliament. Johnson solved both, achieving a smashing victory in Labour heartlands, and delivering a Parliamentary majority for Brexit. The electoral cost was only one Tory seat in Putney.

I see zero evidence that another Tory figure can replicate or come close to rebuilding that coalition. The Thatcher-nostalgists will alienate both the traditional Labour voters and the Cameronized Tory party of the southeast of England. A successful Tory party in 2022 needs to campaign on completely different ideological terrain than what it conquered decades ago. The only man in the Tory squad with the creativity, ambition, and willingness to change so as to discover this territory is Boris Johnson. I’m with my other old friend, Freddy Gray:

Who says that Boris has to go? Almost all the media, that is certain — quite a lot of the exhausted public, too. Dominic Cummings won’t stop calling for a ‘regime change’ until he gets it. But Cummings, like Johnson, understands a key rule of Westminster thermodynamics: when the MP WhatsApp groups and the Twittersphere are all saying something, it is almost certainly wrong. When everybody pronounces that yesterday’s double resignation blow is surely ‘fatal’, it’s a good bet that there’s life in the big beast yet.

Of course, this article could be completely wrong. Boris may fall on his sword in the next few hours. It is increasingly hard to imagine how he staggers on with his dwindling band of gonzo loyalists, his wife apparently briefing unhelpfully against him, and a Conservative party in ‘open revolt’ — the headlines write themselves — against him.

Read Freddy at the Spectator.

Politics & Policy

Birth Mothers Are Courageous

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We should do everything we can to keep women from thinking adoption is worse than abortion (as pregnant women have been known to believe) and that they did something shameful by choosing adoption for their child. Testimonies like Meredith’s here are helpful:

The video comes from BraveLove, an organization that celebrates birth mothers.

White House

Joe Biden’s Latest Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Polling

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 24, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

The RealClearPolitics poll average shows Joe Biden’s presidency reaching terminally unpopular levels, with a 38 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval — nearly 20 points underwater. It is almost redundant at this point to look at the details of individual polls, but the latest national Monmouth poll is just a massacre. Since April 2021, Biden’s approval rating has held steady or gotten worse in every single Monmouth poll, and he is now at 36 percent approval to 58 percent disapproval, consistent with the general trend in which he continues to sink no matter which pollster is asking the questions. Eighty-eight percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track. Seventy-eight percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Biden’s approval is 29 percent vs 63 percent disapproval with independents, and 28 percent vs 63 percent disapproval with voters age 18-34. Monmouth clumps all non-white voter groups together instead of breaking out black, Hispanic, and Asian voters, but Biden is just even with them (47-47), suggesting some ghastly numbers with Hispanic and Asian voters.

Seventy percent of those polled listed the top issue as some variant of kitchen-table economic concerns: inflation (33 percent), gas prices (15 percent), the economy (9 percent), everyday bills (6 percent), health-care costs (3 percent), jobs (3 percent), college costs (2 percent), mortgage/rent (2 percent), and taxes (1 percent). That dwarfed concerns over abortion (5 percent), guns (3 percent), crime (2 percent), climate change (1 percent), immigration (zero), or national security (zero).

How are things going for Biden and the Democrats who run Congress on those issues?

57% say that the actions of the federal government over the past six months have hurt their family when it comes to their most important concern. . . . 54% of Americans say the middle class has not benefited at all from Biden’s policies. This is up from 36% one year ago and it is also higher than 36% who said the same about former President Donald Trump at about the same point in his term (April 2018). It is even higher than 46% who said the same about former President Barack Obama in 2013, when Monmouth first posed this question. Just 7% say the middle class has been helped a lot by Biden’s policies and 34% say they have been helped a little. A majority (52%) also say that poor families have not benefited from Biden’s presidency, up from 29% in July 2021. The current result was similar for Trump in 2018 (53%) but it is higher than it was for Obama in 2013 (37%).”

When it’s four months to Election Day and 57 percent of the voters say that your current and recent policies are making things personally worse for them on their most important issue, you are not in a good place.

World

Drones Destroyed: Another Failure for Iran

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Hezbollah fighters fly a drone at Juroud Arsal, the Syria-Lebanon border, July 29, 2017. (Ali Hashisho/Reuters)

This past Saturday, Israel shot down Hezbollah drones targeting an Israeli gas rig in a disputed drilling area in the Mediterranean Sea. The attempted attack comes as Lebanon and Israel, with the United States as mediator, are negotiating an agreement on drilling rights in the area. The Lebanese government has voiced concerns about the extraction of gas in Israel’s Karish field. Though the U.S. is aiming to foster economic and political benefits for both nations, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist group based in Lebanon, perceives a potential deal as harmful to Lebanese and Iranian interests.

The drone incident is just one example of Iran’s wider strategy of combating Israel both militarily and economically. The destruction of a gas rig could have harmed the Israeli economy and the economies of countries that purchase gas from Israel. But to Iran’s string of military and intelligence failures can now be added the thwarting of drone attacks by superior Israeli military technology.

This incident is also a reflection of the regional conflict between Iran and the new Middle East coalition of Israel and Sunni Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Increased strategic cooperation among Iran’s foes is intended to disrupt Iranian military and political influence and reach in the world. Iran was previously able to take advantage of a more fractured Middle East. Historically, Sunni Arab nations including Saudi Arabia castigated Israel and funded anti-Israel terrorist groups because they cast Israel as an oppressor of the Palestinian people. However, with the recent developments of the Abraham Accords and greater economic partnerships, the Palestinian issue has ceased to be a focus, and political conflicts have evaporated as these nations turn their energies to coping with the threat of Iran as their primary regional rival.

The destruction of Hezbollah drones is only the most recent Iranian military failure. A week before this incident, Iran’s failed assassination attempt of Israeli citizens in Turkey hurt Tehran’s diplomatic relations with one of their only allies in the region. Though the ongoing Iranian threat should not be underestimated, failures and mistakes by the regime and its proxies are piling up.

U.S.

Who Is Really Pro-Choice?

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In New York, after Governor Kathy Hochul promised to investigate pro-life pregnancy-resource centers (PRCs), the attorney general is asking Google to keep these PRCs out of Google searches. The abortion enthusiasts don’t want women to have a choice — certainly not the choice to be the mother they already are, and to choose life — whether it be parenting or choosing adoption. They want a right to a dead baby. Polling is still telling us that most people who describe themselves as pro-choice aren’t that extreme. But the leadership sure seems to want and prefer abortion.

 

 

 

World

‘Biden’s Ukraine Strategy Risks Prolonging a Violent Stalemate’

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Josh Rogin has a good column on the foolishness of backing Ukraine to the hilt, except when it comes to the weapons it needs:

In Madrid, Biden promised that the United States and Europe will support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression “as long as it takes.” But he didn’t say that he would give Ukraine the means to shorten that timeline. Even though the United States has pledged billions to support Ukraine’s military, only a fraction of those resources have arrived, leaving the Ukrainian military badly outgunned in the Donbas.

Privately, several administration officials told me that the delays are not a result of any problem with the actual delivery of weapons. The core problem is the protracted hand-wringing inside the Biden policy team over each weapons decision. Risch said this is caused by a misguided concern that if Putin starts to lose badly, he might escalate further.

“As a result of that [the White House is] taking the middle path. And the middle path is the wrong path here,” he said. “They can win this, but they can’t do it themselves. They will provide the fight if we provide the weapons.”

Last month, the United States provided four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which are reportedly making a difference on the battlefield. But Ukrainians on the ground said they need 50, not four — and they needed them months ago. In Madrid, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States is finalizing the purchase of one Norwegian-made NASAMS medium-long range antiaircraft missile system for Ukraine. But the contracts aren’t yet signed.

Politics & Policy

Biden vs. Gas Stations 

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Kevin beat me to this one, but Biden’s attack on gas stations is shockingly stupid and demagogic.

 

 

Law & the Courts

Red Flag Laws Are Useless If No One Uses Them

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I recognize the potential pitfalls of red-flag laws, but I think they are the only potential anti-gun-violence measure — besides raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21 — that directly interacts with any of the mass shootings. As we’ve talked about on The Editors podcast repeatedly, the problem is that people are going to be reluctant to take the step to flag family members. Meanwhile, other people may assume that a worrisome kid is someone else’s problem, and authorities may have only fleeting contact with a troubled youth. Charlie makes good points below wondering why the Highland Park shooter wasn’t arrested. Failing that, he certainly should have been red-flagged.

Reuters has more on this:

According to Covelli, police responding to the second incident seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo’s home in Highland Park, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where the shooting occurred on Monday. But no arrest was made as authorities at the time lacked probable cause to take him into custody, the sheriff’s sergeant said.

“There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims,” Covelli explained.

Later on Tuesday came a separate statement from the Illinois State Police recounting that the agency had received a report from Highland Park Police declaring Crimo a “clear and present danger” after the alleged threats against relatives in September 2019.

At the time, however, Crimo did not possess a state “firearm owners identification (FOID)” card that could be revoked or a pending FOID application to deny. So state police involvement in the matter was closed, the agency said.

State police also said no relative or anyone else was willing “to move forward with a formal complaint” or to provide “information on threats or mental health that would have allowed law enforcement to take additional action.”

Three months later, at age 19, Crimo applied for his first FOID card, under his father’s sponsorship. But because no firearm restraining order or other court action against Crimo had ever been sought, “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application,” state police said.

More:

The state police said that when officers who visited the family’s home over the alleged threats Crimo made in September 2019, they asked him “if he felt like harming himself or others,” and that “he responded ‘no’.”

“Additionally and importantly, the father claimed the knives were his and they were being stored in (his son’s) closet for safekeeping,” state police said. “Based upon that information, the Highland Park Police returned the knives to the father later that afternoon.”

Everyone needs to adopt more of a “If you see something, say something” attitude toward young men flashing signs of potential danger.

Media

The Ever-Expanding ‘Group Therapy for Liberals’

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Joy Reid on MSNBC, November 2, 2020 (MSNBC/Screengrab via YouTube)

Last week, after seeing a quote from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) during what seemed like her millionth appearance on Stephen Colbert’s program, I asked whether anyone actually enjoys seeing Democratic elected officials, candidates, and other political figures on those late-night talk shows. Even if you agree with the views of those figures . . . is watching them offer their usual talking points and memorized one-liners to a fawning Colbert actually fun for anyone? Is there anyone who looks at the announced guest list and gets giddy with anticipation, knowing that tonight New Jersey senator Cory Booker will talk about gun control?

Stephen L. Miller — a.k.a. RedSteeze — has argued for a while now that the late-night talk shows aren’t meant to be entertainment or comedy anymore; they are now, functionally, late-night “group therapy for libs.” And that description, while harsh, seems pretty accurate — the constant sneering and ridicule at figures on the right, the warm welcome for celebrities on the left, the obsessive focus on whatever is outraging the Twitter Left at that moment, the reassurance that every good and right-thinking American thinks the same way. . . .

And maybe despite their seeming triumphs and power, the modern urban progressive Left needs that reassuring group therapy. If you’re a progressive, it can often feel like the world is always giving you some sort of bad news: Republicans oppose the bills you want to see passed. Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won’t get on board. The Supreme Court keeps ruling against your side. The polling for the midterms looks terrible. Despite mass shootings, Congress and states won’t just ban guns the way you wish. Trump won’t go away. Tucker Carlson and other figures on Fox News keep saying things that outrage you. People still listen to and watch Joe Rogan. Elon Musk might buy Twitter.

In fact, it might be time to ask if a lot of modern journalism is meant to serve as a form of group therapy for liberals, too. Think about how much print, television, and web journalism features the subtext, “You are right, and your uncle who votes for Republicans is wrong. In fact, he’s racist. And sexist. And homophobic and transphobic. And selfish. And doesn’t care about the earth. You are the good and righteous one, and you were right to scream at him and storm away from the Thanksgiving table.”

Ari Fleischer, the former Bush-era White House press secretary and a current contributor to Fox News, has a new book out titled Suppression, Deception, Snobbery and Bias: Why the Press Gets So Much Wrong, and Just Doesn’t Care. What separates this book from a lot of other books by conservatives ripping into the media is how much Fleischer emphasizes that he wants the media to do better work and put out a better product, and the way he lays out how biased media exacerbates American divisions. Fleischer contends that liberal groupthink in the ranks of the media outrages the Right and encourages the Left to embrace its fringe and lose touch with the rest of the country:

If you are conservative or independent in America, you know the media is not fair. However, conservatives often get this conflict wrong. We misread what they media is trying to do, and we misinterpret why they are doing it. There is no secret meeting where liberals decide how to pervert the news. There is no central source of propaganda. It comes naturally to the media because they’re too much alike. They have a diversity problem. . . .

Journalism has a great weakness, an original sin. The people who go into journalism do not represent the breadth and depth of the United States of America. They don’t look like America, nor do they sound or think like America. They are overwhelmingly cut from the same cloth, a fabric that is largely liberal, like-minded, and way too unfamiliar with the circumstances and needs of many Americans, especially those without college degrees, those who come from rural areas, and those who are conservative or Republican. It’s no wonder the media has a hard time understanding 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection.

(I’d like to think I would like this book even if Ari hadn’t offered kind words about my reporting on the lab-leak theory in one of the later chapters.)

What is the purpose of journalism? Is it to make you feel good? No doubt, feel-good stories can be a healthy part of a news diet. Political red meat can be in the mix, too. But on any given day, the biggest news stories are often messages, that may or may not be an accurate representation of reality, meant to reassure liberals. “The walls are closing in on Donald Trump.” “The issue of abortion could be a game-changer in the midterm elections.” “The GOP is being reduced to a rump regional party.” “A recession may be inevitable, but it may not be that bad.”

Are these sorts of headlines and stories really news? Or just another form of group therapy?

Energy & Environment

Video: Blocking Traffic Is a Cruel and Counterproductive Form of Protest

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A man holds a placard during a protest against the Federal Reserve about climate change in New York City, October 29, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

It’s worth watching the first 30 seconds of this viral video of a parolee pleading with environmentalist protesters who blocked traffic outside of Washington, D.C., on July 4:

“One lane! I’m asking one lane!” pleads the man, who says he will “go to prison” if he can’t make it to his job. The environmentalist ideologues are unmoved. 

The video is enough to infuriate anyone with an ounce of sanity and an ounce of sympathy. And it should make it clear that there is never a good reason for protesters to block traffic. There will always be parolees and average people who just need to get to work to support themselves and their families. Sick people will always need to be taken to the hospital (and so will pregnant women who need to deliver their babies). That’s true even if a particular protest doesn’t yield a viral video. 

So it really does not matter what the protest is targeting — climate policy, vaccine mandates, or even abortion — blocking traffic is a cruel and counterproductive policy because it hurts innocent people.

The trucker protests over vaccine mandates never really hit America the way they hit Canada — to the best of my knowledge there were traffic slowdowns, not shutdowns, in the D.C. area — but they did garner the support of some on the right. Kentucky GOP senator Rand Paul said five months ago that “it’d be great” if Canadian-style trucker protests came to America: “I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities.”

After watching the above video of the parolee just trying to get to work at his job outside The Swamp, does the Kentucky senator feel an ounce of shame or regret for endorsing the tactics of the environmentalists?

World

Today in Capital Matters: China Tariffs

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Weifeng Zhong of the Mercatus Center argues that regardless of inflation, the China tariffs should be repealed:

The stated goal of the tariffs on $370 billion worth of goods — about two-thirds of all U.S. imports from China — was to compel Beijing to change its unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft and state subsidies, to domestic firms. To address these threats to U.S. security, we’ve been asking whether the tariffs are worth the compromise on the economic freedom of the American people.

Except that the goal of the tariffs war has not been achieved. The United States taxes Chinese imports at a nearly 20 percent rate, generating $74 billion per year in tariff revenues. That may sound nice, but research by economists Pablo Fajgelbaum, Pinelopi Goldberg, Patrick Kennedy, and Amit Khandelwal has shown that the tariffs are primarily paid by the American people. That means each of the 124 million U.S. households is paying $600 on average every year for the China tariffs. But there’s little evidence that the last four years of economic consequences for Americans have changed any unfair trade practices by the Chinese government — so little that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai essentially gave up on pressuring Beijing to do so.

Read the whole thing here.

Education

The Invasion of CRT into American Education

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Opponents of critical race theory attend a packed Loudoun County School board meeting in Ashburn, Va., June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

American schools and colleges used to mostly teach key skills and knowledge. Often, they were pretty good at it. But then the “progressives” figured out that they could use them to spread their ideas, and so the content of education began changing — more propaganda for leftism, less knowledge.

In recent years, the transformation has accelerated, as the Left has become more blatant in their efforts, especially with the teaching of critical race theory. In a new book entitled Splintered, Jonathan Butcher details the rise of this pedagogy and its terrible impact on American education at all levels. I review it for the Martin Center today.

The book’s subtitle is “Critical Race Theory and the Progressive War on Truth,” and that sums up the problem. The Left is intent on substituting its ideology for the pursuit of truth. Students will be trained to accept the clichés of “progressivism,” and people who disagree will be canceled.

One feature of CRT “teaching” is its relentless negativity. Students are taught that all white people are hostile racists and all people “of color” are hopeless victims of a society that is rigged against them. Butcher notes that you’ll never hear anything about the many successes of black Americans, nor any criticism of the harm that government programs and policies have done in the name of “help.” The one big thing that the Left wants students to take away is that America must be radically transformed, which is exactly what the control freaks of the Left want.

To be armed against the CRT onslaught, I strongly recommend reading Splintered.

Law & the Courts

Why Didn’t the Police Arrest the Highland Park Shooter in 2019?

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Police officers drive into the Highland Park Police station after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., July 4, 2022. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

According to the New York Times, the Highland Park shooter had a “troubled past.” In April 2019, someone who knew him “called the police to say that the teen had attempted suicide, the police said.” And:

Four months later, a family member contacted the authorities, reporting that [the shooter] had threatened to “kill everyone.” Police officers removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the home, but there was no probable cause to arrest him at that time, Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office told reporters on Tuesday.

I am no expert on Illinois law, and I understand that there is often a distinction between a circumstance in which the law can disarm a person and a circumstance in which the law can imprison a person, but, given the details of the case, I find it extremely strange that the police who visited in 2019 were worried enough by the shooter’s threat to “kill everyone” to remove his weapons, but not worried enough to arrest him. Surely, if the police took those words seriously enough to remove the means by which they might be effected, they ought to have taken them seriously enough to enforce the laws that punish their utterance?

In the context the Times provides, threatening to “kill everyone” is not protected speech. It’s assault, or intimidation, or possibly even domestic violence.

Under Illinois law, “assault” is defined as “conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Threatening to “kill everyone” in your house clearly does this, which is why “a family member contacted the authorities.”

Under Illinois law, “intimidation” is defined as “when, with intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts”, including “inflict physical harm on the person threatened or any other person or on property.” Threatening to “kill everyone” in your house clearly does this.

Under Illinois law, “domestic violence” is defined to include “family members related by blood” and “people who share or used to share a home, apartment, or other common dwelling,” and it includes “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation.” Threatening to “kill everyone” in your house may well apply here, too.

I could be missing something here — or the Times could be wrong in its description — but, if not, the police in Highland Park have some explaining to do.

Politics & Policy

Lawmakers Investigate State Department’s ‘Equity’ Diplomat

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Left: Desirée Cormier Smith. Right: Outside the State Department Building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Department of State, Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Republican House members launched an investigation into the State Department’s new racial-equity post last week, citing a National Review report. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Representative James Comer — the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee — and other GOP lawmakers on the panel expressed their concern that the new role “categorizes and further divides Americans.”

Comer and the GOP lawmakers compared the new role to the Department of Homeland Security’s recently disbanded “Disinformation Governance Board,” writing, “The Special Representative is the latest evidence the Biden Administration is willing to devote time, funding, and other government resources to enact divisive policies.”

The Biden administration created this new special representative for racial equity and justice post earlier this year, as part of the State Department’s equity-action plan, as NR previously reported. The special representative has a number of responsibilities that include promoting racial equity within the department, advancing equity globally throughout U.S. diplomacy, and countering disinformation on related topics.

The lawmakers also contested the Biden administration’s characterization of equity as a core national-security objective.

“The Biden Administration has characterized equity as a ‘national security challenge with global consequences’ in an April 2022 Department press release initially announcing the Special Representative,” they wrote. “The Biden Administration’s prior attempts to shoehorn this pernicious ideology into every corner of the federal government have failed, and Committee Republicans urge reconsideration of this latest change within the Department.”

Blinken announced Desirée Cormier Smith, a former senior adviser within State’s international-organizations bureau, as his pick for the role on June 17. Cormier Smith, he said in a statement, “is a recognized racial justice expert with a deep and steadfast commitment to equity and justice to all.” The position does not require Senate confirmation, and she immediately started her tenure as special representative.

Before joining the administration in 2021, Cormier Smith made a number of statements hinting at the perspective with which she approaches her job. During her time as an analyst at the Open Society Foundations, she expressed her support of a global reparations campaign for structural racism on Twitter. She also railed against the Electoral College, which she characterized as a racist institution.

The Republican lawmakers requested all State Department documents relevant to the creation of the special-representative position and Cormier Smith’s appointment to it.

White House

Even a Good Staff Couldn’t Save Biden … and He Doesn’t Have a Good Staff

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President Joe Biden shakes hands White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain as Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm looks on at the White House in Washington, D.C. June 30, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The new CNN profile of the inner workings of the White House is yet another devastating portrait of inertia, incompetence, flailing, and finger-pointing. It’s not just that the Biden team seems overwhelmed by the massive problems facing the country as the midterm elections get closer; it is that the team around Biden struggle to even get the easy parts right:

Multiple Democratic politicians who have reached out to work with Biden — whether it’s on specific bills, brainstorming or outreach — often don’t hear anything back at all. Potential appointees have languished for months waiting to hear if they’ll get jobs, or when they’ll be done with vetting. Invitations to events are scarce, thank you calls barely happen. Even some aides within the White House wonder why Biden didn’t fire anyone, from the West Wing or at the Food and Drug Administration, to demonstrate some accountability or at least anger over the baby formula debacle. . . .

Several officials say Biden’s tendency to berate advisers when he’s displeased with how a situation is being handled or when events go off poorly has trickled down the ranks in the West Wing, leaving several mid-level aides feeling blamed for failings despite lacking any real ability to influence the building’s decision-making. That’s contributed to some of the recent staff departures, according to people familiar.

Notice the problems described aren’t a matter of messaging and spin; as I noted last week, this goes well beyond Karine Jean-Pierre having lousy press conferences. What those multiple Democratic politicians describe is the basic blocking and tackling of politics — working with your allies on Capitol Hill, keeping the lines of communication open, making sure your allies feel valued and appreciated. And a lot of it points to weak leadership, with leaders blaming their underlings for their own failures.

No doubt, the buck stops with the president. (The article states that “few are trying, and even fewer succeeding, in pushing back against Biden’s infamous inability to settle on decisions, on everything from whether to lift tariffs on Chinese imports or cancel student loan debt.” Good to see CNN deciding to tell us that Biden’s indecisiveness is infamous now, as opposed to before the election.)

But Erick Erickson notes the article doesn’t mention White House chief of staff Ron Klain. While it’s hard to separate the poor performance of a long-past-his-prime blowhard of a president from the poor performance of his staff, it is probably long past time to recognize that the senior staff around Biden just aren’t doing a good job. Almost all of them have been on the job for a year and a half; they’re not “settling in” anymore. Klain, Jen O’Malley Dixon, Bruce Reed, Mike Donilon, Anita Dunn, Neera Tanden, Susan Rice — if the president isn’t seeing good policy options, these are the folks who are supposed to put good policy options on his desk. If the president is indecisive, these are the folks who are supposed to make clear to him that time is of the essence. If Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are losing faith, these are the folks who are supposed to help the president smooth things over.

No, this isn’t entirely the staff’s fault. If, as I suspect, Biden’s age and health mean he has only a few good hours a day and needs a lot of rest, this White House operates without a fully functioning president for long stretches.

But it’s not just the president who’s supposed to return calls from congressional allies, make sure appointees are processed and nominated on a regular schedule, send out invitations to White House events, or send thank-you notes. The outreach to allies and thank-you notes are the sort of thing that well-run Senate offices take care of as naturally as breathing, part of a culture of professionalism, responsibility, and attention to detail.

After the 2020 election, the Biden team was greeted with declarations that “the grown-ups are back in charge in Washington.” But what if the team around Biden were never the grown-ups, after all? What if they were a familiar bunch of overgrown teenagers in grown-up bodies — irresponsible, gossipy, finger-pointing, prone to infighting, leaking to the press, turf battles, and spreading the blame?

Politics & Policy

Lobbyists Discover Federalism

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(Larry Downing/Reuters)

I’m a bit late to this story, but still somewhat heartened to find that lobbyists are — gasp — discovering that federalism exists. From a Politico story last month:

As partisan divides ensnare congressional lawmakers in stalemates over key legislation, many lobbying firms find it faster to take their efforts to governors and state legislatures. State leaders have become as influential as they’ve ever been and are now shaping the national conversation on issues as diverse as energy policy and abortion rights. And those seeking a say in what happens in state capitals have been adapting by building out robust and sophisticated lobbying operations that stretch far beyond Washington.

It would be easy enough just to take simple pleasure in the fact that the people who want to influence policy are realizing that policy is formed in many places outside of Washington, D.C. (Though lobbyists themselves are far from noble creatures, and lobbying itself is hardly a noble profession.) And I will take some. But I still have some reservations.

One comes from the article itself. Politico quotes Harold Iselin, co-chairman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig’s government and policy practice, justifying increased expenses at the state level because “states become laboratories for larger policies.” This is, unfortunately, true these days, but reflects the warped understanding of federalism best distilled by the late Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, who vaunted the possibility of a state to serve as a “laboratory” of democracy. But Brandeis, a progressive justice through-and-through, was describing not the proper dimensions of constitutional power in our political order, but something more along the lines of the obsessively scientific mode of politics in his time. His original remarks make this clear: “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” The kind of “novel” experiments the Brandeis hoped states would try tended to involve distortions of and diversions from the political and economic arrangements rooted in the country’s Founding principles. Federalism, to Brandeis, was simply a possible means, not a worthy principle in itself. If that is what this new “lobbyist federalism” entails, then count me out.

Count me out as well if it simply entails the replication of the ills that so blight our national politics but merely at more-local levels. Conservatives are right to highlight and support the federalist principle. And it is better for government responsibilities to exist, whenever possible, as locally as is feasible. But just because government is closer to the people does not mean it will be immune to abuse or corruption. John Adams once wrote that “absolute power intoxicates alike despots, monarchs, aristocrats, and democrats, and Jacobins, and sans culottes.” Mayors, city supervisors, et al. tend to have nothing like absolute power in most situations. But they are still more than capable of wielding what power they do have to what suspect ends they may identify. And thus also can they themselves be wielded by malicious interests and self-interested actors. Human nature is at play both in the city-council meeting and in the halls of Congress.

All of these things are worth keeping in mind if the course of our national politics continues to make local politics matter more.

Politics & Policy

Mopping Up This Year’s Bad Fourth of July Takes

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People watch the Independence Day fireworks celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2022. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Each Fourth of July, progressives treat us to a number of bad takes about the celebration of our country’s founding. Many of them are in line with the 1619 Project — the critical race theory-esque critique that slavery made an indelible mark on America’s constitutional system. With that in mind I wrote a piece about how the American Revolution led to several abolitionist victories in its immediate aftermath and a post where I argued that the best way to argue for a cause is to appeal to America’s Founding, as so many great warriors for freedom did.

However, this year’s attacks on the Fourth had a dimension that perhaps I should have foreseen. With the best Supreme Court term of my young life coming to a close, leftists were upset that they were not getting their way judicially, which made it hard for them to have a fun Independence Day.

We saw this play out the best in an update for the City of Orlando’s fireworks display, for which the city later apologized:

A lot of people probably don’t want to celebrate our nation right now, and we can’t blame them. When there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it? 

But in all seriousness, you know in your heart, Fourth of July fireworks are amazing, especially when you are standing in 90° heat, 100% humidity, next to 100,000 of your closest friends. In that moment, something takes over and we all become united in an inexplicable bond. Yes, America is in strife right now, but you know what…we already bought the fireworks.

When immigrants fleeing tyranny saw the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Jews being held in concentration camps saw G.I.s come to liberate them, or Eastern Europeans living under communism saw Ronald Reagan say, “Tear down this wall,” something tells me that they did not think, “Wow, that country must have some awesome fireworks.” Never mind the principles of freedom and equality that inspired those people toward such great deeds. It must have been the pretty lights.

Other critiques in this vein were a little more sophisticated, such as one in a Washington Post column arguing that we should “declare our independence from the Founding Fathers.” The Supreme Court’s collection of solid decisions weighed heavily on the piece. Because the cases were decided very much on originalist grounds that drew on American history — Alito’s finding no precedent for a constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs or Thomas’s arguing that gun regulations need strong precedent in Bruen — the progressive cause could use the Founding as a hobgoblin even more.

“The America of 1789 becomes a prison the conservative justices can lock us all in whenever it suits them,” writes the piece’s author, Paul Waldman. I am always puzzled by this criticism of the opinions of conservative justices. It essentially amounts to: the Supreme Court, which has a duty to interpret the Constitution, should not interpret the Constitution.

Waldman goes on to write:

I am no spirit medium, able to communicate with the framers through the mists of time, and neither is anyone on the Supreme Court. But I suspect they themselves would find the originalist project as practiced on the right to be utterly absurd. Imagine you could travel back and describe to them the idea that hundreds of years hence we’d all be bound to their utterances and the condition of their society. They’d probably say, “That sounds insane.”

This is the most incredible part of the piece because Waldman admits he cannot know for sure what the Founding Fathers would have wanted, but then goes to make a pronouncement on what they would have wanted while offering no evidence for that claim. Instead, he says that conservatives believe that “the Founders were essentially perfect, and only we conservatives are capable of interpreting their will.”

I understand the hyperbole, but Waldman would be hard-pressed to find any conservative who believes that the Founders were perfect. In fact, most on the right will praise them for their cognizance of their imperfection, best demonstrated by their inclusion of the amendment process in the Constitution. If there is something the Founders got wrong, e.g. their failure to outlaw slavery from the outset, we can amend the document through the legislature, as we have done 27 times. That is the essence of conservative judicial philosophy. Courts must apply the Constitution whether they like the outcome or not; if the document needs change, the legislature can pass a law or an amendment to that end. The separation of powers is one way our system is so ingenious. For that reason and for many others, America and its creators are worth celebrating.

Education

Keeping Tabs on the Education World

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(Frederick Bass/Getty Images)

A host of recent developments — pandemic-era school closures, the spotlight shined on critical race theory, political action about school curricula from school boards up to governors’ mansions — have combined to put education, always an important issue, at the forefront of the public mind. If you’re looking for more coverage of this always-interesting topic than National Review offers, I would recommend checking out Chalkboard Review. Run by, among others, some education experts who have also written for us, Chalkboard Review was founded in 2020 “to provide a heterodox outlet for editorials, breaking news, and other commentary from educators.”

In addition to covering the aforementioned topics, contributors at Chalkboard Review also cast an often-skeptical eye at the network of nonprofits that currently dominate the education-reform space. In one such recent dispatch, Anthony Kennett (who has also written for National Review), takes a look at the record of Chris Stewart, CEO of the education-reform organization Brightbeam. Stewart’s various enterprises over the years have been backed by, among others, the Walton Family Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; he appears regularly at education conferences. Yet beneath Stewart’s sheen of respectability, Kinnett finds a questionable past:

In the early 2000s, Stewart owned and operated a blog called “American Hot Sausage” where extremist and racist diatribes were published under the pseudonym “Reverend Rahelio Soleil.” Although the blog is now defunct, some of “Rahelio’s” rants can still be found at other websites.

Stewart’s ownership of this pseudonym was revealed in a front-page article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2006. No additional blogs under the pseudonym were posted after the scandal, and Stewart sold the domain soon after. At best, Stewart’s backers failed to do their due diligence before giving him a platform and piles of cash.

While Bloomberg donated $15 million to founding the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Stewart’s pseudonym wrote his disdain for mourning the loss caused by the terrorist attacks, claiming “September 11th is just another day in which nothing extraordinarily superhuman happened…nothing of important [sic] anyway.”

Sickeningly, he adds: “3,000 is not that many dead. Especially considering the amount of deaths we have caused or allowed internationally. Now, go tell Toby Keith and the nation of retards he represents to write a song about that.”

As the Walton Family Foundation donated a considerable amount to the Center named for Harriet Beecher Stowe (the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), the so-called “Reverend Soleil” gave “Coon of the Week” awards to black people he “considered too cozy with the white power structure.”

In an article by “Rahelio” titled “How do we draw the N****r line?” he states, “The simple answer is that [Justice Clarence] Thomas is not black because he shares almost nothing in common with common black people. He is white with black skin.”

He then admits, “That is a racist statement, I know. I am a racist. America is racist. Only drunk people and liars would say differently.”

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative spent millions on Hispanic-education environments. Stewart spent half of his term on the board of Minneapolis Public Schools suspending and silencing Principal Tim Cadotte for attempting to boost Hispanic and ESL programs—which Stewart claimed were anti-Black.

These days, Stewart engages in the more workaday (for a certain kind of would-be education reformer) pastimes of calling opponents of critical race theory supporters of white nationalism and peddlers of “white grievance.”

Those interested can find more along these lines at Chalkboard Review.

World

Lie Another Day

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid arrive for a news conference in Downing Street, London, Britain, September 7, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool via Reuters)

According to its own rules, the British Conservative Party cannot get rid of Boris Johnson through a no-confidence vote for another twelve months. But it can put enormous pressure on him to resign. And that’s what the double whammy of the resignations of his chancellor of exchequer Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid now represent.

The challenge to the prime minister’s authority comes after the most recent scandal plaguing his government. In the past five years, Chris Pincher, the deputy chief whip, has been dogged with allegations of sexual misconduct. Most recently, Pincher was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club. No 10’s official spokesperson initially stated that the prime minister had not been aware of any such allegations at the time of promoting Pincher. This was later changed to “specific allegations.” And then changed again to an acknowledgment that the prime minister was, in fact, aware of the allegations when he promoted Pincher. His excuse? He “forgot.”

Boris Johnson was caught lying to cover himself. (Again.) More resignations could be forthcoming but, as with the no-confidence vote last month, when it comes to loyalty to the prime minister, there is an unsustainable split in the Tory party. It’s now not a question of whether Johnson goes, only when.

Economy & Business

McKinsey Had Greater Involvement in Promoting Opioids Than Previously Reported

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McKinsey & Company logo at Viva Tech in Paris, France, in 2019. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Last year, I detailed some of the reasons that “a commitment to free markets in the abstract does not oblige conservatives to defend McKinsey in particular.” At its worst — which seems to be the case distressingly often — the firm embodies the kind of soulless, value-free technocracy that seeks only to maximize goals within evident parameters, frequently eliding questions about whether those parameters are sound in themselves. Aside from McKinsey’s dodgy dealings with foreign governments, including the Chinese Communist Party (with which McKinsey had a deeper relationship than it had first let on), its most dubious project by far was its role in helping to “turbocharge” America’s opioid crisis. As I wrote last year:

This might explain the embarrassing litany of truly egregious business decisions McKinsey has made in recent years. Most egregiously of all, the company inarguably exacerbated two of the most distressing trends of the 21st century. Inside the U.S., McKinsey was hired to help Purdue Pharma “turbocharge” sales of opioids, resulting in the opioid epidemic that has ended thousands of lives and destroyed or unsettled countless more. In February, the company agreed to a $600 million settlement with 47 states for its role in the epidemic. But don’t cry for McKinsey: Its stake in opioid-treatment businesses means it may profit off this as well.

One result of this settlement was the release of documents, now obtained by the New York Times, that paint a picture of even greater McKinsey involvement in promoting the sale of opioids. A recent Times story focuses on the opioid Opana, manufactured by pharmaceutical company Endo, and McKinsey’s role in boosting its sales:  

It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.

Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.

The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.

The story goes on to detail how McKinsey used its most cutting-edge techniques to expand markets, target providers, and creatively circumvent regulators and taxes. One presentation the firm made to promote its services reportedly bragged of its “in-depth experience in narcotics.” And at one point, the relationship between Endo and McKinsey extended even to personnel, when a McKinsey employee crossed over to head Endo.

The whole article is worth reading, if for nothing else than to get a better sense of McKinsey’s questionable record.

Politics & Policy

McConnell on Revival of Build Back Better: Not So Fast

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2022. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

One of the last big-ticket bills that has a chance of becoming law this year is the misnamed Bipartisan Innovation Act, which masquerades as a measure to maintain U.S. technology’s edge over China but in reality is a 2,900-page industrial-policy bill stuffed with pork-barrel items, giveaways to Big Labor, and “woke” ideology.

While it passed the Senate last year with some GOP votes, only one Republican voted for the bill in the House. The two versions are now in conference committee.

In addition to $50 billion in subsidies to semiconductor firms, the Senate version creates a diversity directorate within the National Science Foundation, while the House bill parcels out billions to a U.N. climate fund.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is so eager to get a reconciliation bill that both raises taxes and revives parts of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better scheme that he is submitting initial language on the bill to the Senate parliamentarian this month. Schumer hopes to convince Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to back it.

Health-insurance companies are blitzing D.C. with ads demanding an extension of supersized Obamacare subsidies, which are now expected to be a central part of the spending side of the reconciliation bill. The tax side may be getting even worse, with the potential rumored inclusion of a carbon tariff.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is playing hardball. He told Schumer bluntly last week:

Here’s hoping both bills die, but for now McConnell at least is making the stakes clear. If Democrats want to raise taxes and bring back Build Back Better, they will have to sacrifice their friends in Big Labor and the semiconductor industry.

Politics & Policy

New Survey Finds 64 Percent Think Biden Is Too Old to Serve as President

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President Joe Biden listens to a reporter’s question on the tarmac before boarding Air Force One for travel to Alabama from Joint Base Andrews, Md., May 3, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A new Harvard-Harris poll shows 60 percent of respondents have doubts about Joe Biden’s fitness for office, compared to just 40 percent who say Biden is mentally fit to serve as president of the United States. The same survey finds that 64 percent say Biden is too old to serve as president, while just 36 percent say he is showing he is fit to be president.

This could mean that I have now brainwashed well more than half of America with columns like this one from last August. But it is more likely that roughly 6o percent of Americans are paying attention and can’t explain it away — the rare interviews, the brief appearances in front of the cameras, the struggle to read lines off a teleprompter, the long, meandering anecdotes and increasingly frequent flashes of irritability. Biden looks like a man well past his prime — about to turn 80 — who should be enjoying Matlock reruns and pudding and watching professional golf at a really high volume.

An unnamed Democratic lawmaker complains to NBC News:

“There’s a benefit to having the president out there every day using his executive power to show the country you’re fighting for them,” the Democratic lawmaker said. “And it’s almost like he’s hiding. He has the bully pulpit, and he’s either hiding behind it or under it. I don’t know where he is.”

The simplest explanation is that at 79 years old, Biden doesn’t have the energy to use the bully pulpit the way Democrats wished.

Law & the Courts

Slanders and Standards

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I don’t see how Dominion loses these defamation cases against Fox News et al., but, then, I don’t see how Sarah Palin lost her libel suit against the New York Times, which ought to have been an open-and-shut case.

If “reckless disregard for the truth” doesn’t cover the avalanche of bulls*** that came out of Fox et al. after the 2020 election, then “reckless disregard for the truth” doesn’t mean anything.

Sports

‘Veronica Ivy,’ a.k.a. Rhys McKinnon

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A man calling himself “Veronica Ivy” went on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show last week and said nothing true or interesting.

Before he re-renamed himself, Rhys McKinnon called himself “Rachel McKinnon.” Life is too short to play these silly sex-evading name games.

As I wrote in 2019:

The precise moment I decided to stop lending McKinnon special courtesies, was when he lauded the terminal illness of a young woman, Magdalen Berns, whom I held (and still hold) in great esteem.

Berns believed strongly that men cannot be women. As she lay on her deathbed in Scotland, at the age of 36, surrounded by her loved ones, McKinnon tweeted that he was “happy” when bad people died, that this feeling is “justified,” that Berns is a “trash human,” and further advised his followers “don’t be the sort of person who people you’ve harmed are happy you’re dying of brain cancer.” By contrast, here is a characteristically civil, clear and courageous quote from Berns: “it’s not hate to defend your rights and it’s not hate to speak the truth.”

Men can be so rude sometimes.

Other women have tried to articulate similar sentiments with regard to McKinnon. Take Jen Wagner-Assali, who, after coming in third to McKinnon at the UCI Masters Track World Championship in 2018, tweeted: “it’s definitely NOT fair.” After being bullied, Wagner apologized to McKinnon for causing offense. But that wasn’t enough, as McKinnon explained. “The apology is not accepted: she still thinks what she said. She merely apologizes for being caught saying it publicly.”

She still thinks it’s not fair for a man to beat her in the women’s category? Just imagine!

Business

Electric Vehicles: Slow Pursuit

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That was then (at least on TV, but not only on TV . . .)

Starsky & Hutch

Miami Vice

The Sweeney

This is now (in reality) (via the Daily Telegraph):

Electric police cars are running out of charge when responding to emergencies because the blue lights and sirens drain the batteries, it has been suggested. Officers using environmentally friendly vehicles in rural areas are also struggling to locate charging points, raising questions about their effectiveness. The vast majority of constabularies in England and Wales now include electric vehicles in their fleet, with the Metropolitan Police pledging to be 100 per cent electric by 2030. Despite being one of the country’s smallest forces, Gloucestershire Constabulary has the second biggest number of electric vehicles in the country. With almost 90 battery powered police cars on the county’s roads, electric vehicles make up a fifth of the force’s entire fleet. But the local Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson, has acknowledged there are issues with the cars responding to some emergencies. He said vehicles using their lights, radio and heater were in danger of “running out of puff”. . . . The Government has pledged to ban the production of all new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030, leaving police forces urgently looking for alternatives. But the increasing amount of technology carried in them — such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition computers and sophisticated radio equipment — affects battery range.

Oh.

When central planners start insisting on the adoption of a technology before it is ready for prime time, this is the sort of thing that will happen.