Biden’s Historians Continue to Dishonor Their Profession

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From left: Historian Jon Meacham at a discussion of the January 6 Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2022; President Joe Biden speaks at the White House, January 19, 2022; historian Michael Beschloss interviewed on MSNBC, August 12, 2022. (Al Drago/Pool, Kevin Lamarque/Reuters; MSNBC/YouTube)

Earlier this year, I wrote about the group of alleged ‘historians’ in President Biden’s orbit who are weaponizing their knowledge in service of partisan ends while dressing it all up as historical objectivity. Their ranks include, among others, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jon Meacham, and Michael Beschloss. “By flattering Joe Biden, by misleading him, by striving openly to become part of a history tailored to their own biases, the president’s historians haven’t just dishonored their profession,” I wrote. “They have damaged the country.”

They are responsible, directly or indirectly, for some of Biden’s most pernicious rhetoric, such as his argument against Georgia’s

Politics & Policy

Tom Cotton: GOP Congress Would Aid Ukrainian Effort to Repel Russian Invasion

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Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Reuters)

On Wednesday night, Arkansas GOP senator Tom Cotton told Newsmax that if Republicans take control of Congress, military aid to Ukraine will continue: 

“I believe we will continue to support Ukraine with the kind of military aide that only the U.S. can provide,” he told Newsmax’s “Rob Schmitt Tonight” Wednesday night. “Some of our European partners can provide some military support, but really there are some systems only America can provide.”

Cotton said he expects “a slight change in the way that aid is assigned,” but he does not expect any wavering in U.S. support of Ukraine after Russia’s unprovoked attack on its neighbor.

“Even if the European nations can’t provide the kind of weapons that Ukraine’s soldiers need, they can provide the money that the country needs,” he said.

Cotton was asked about House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s statement that the U.S. wouldn’t provide a “blank check” to Ukraine. McCarthy hasn’t publicly clarified what he meant, but CNN reports that he has privately told lawmakers he merely wants more oversight of the funding: 

Georgia GOP representative Marjorie Taylor Greene vowed at a Trump rally this week that Ukraine wouldn’t receive any more funding in a GOP Congress, but Greene was among a decided minority of House Republicans when she voted against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May. That bill passed the Senate 86–11 and the House 368–57. Most Republicans who voted “no”— about 25 percent of congressional Republicans — said they did so because they wanted more oversight of the aid and/or spending cuts to pay for it.

Politics & Policy

Federal Politicians and the Marshmallow Test

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In the famous marshmallow test, researchers wanted to see how children would react when given the choice between having one marshmallow now, or two if they would not eat the first one for 15 minutes. Can the kids delay gratification or not?

We have been running an adult version of the marshmallow test for years in Washington, D.C. Will our elected leaders eat the marshmallow (i.e., tax revenues) now, or save the money for later? In this sharp AIER article, economics professor Gary Galles points out that the politicians regularly fail the test.

He writes:

Over and over, when we look at what Democrats brag the most about and push hardest for, we find marshmallow-test failures. Their most prized accomplishments are about accelerating their favored groups’ gratification by creating additional burdens for others far into the future, the opposite of delaying gratification on a grander scale than any citizen could even contemplate. Their leading “new ideas” are creative only in finding new ways to do more of the same. In other words, the party most notable for its claims to care more about the future than anyone else actually threatens all future generations of Americans.

He’s right.

I will only add that the Founders understood that temptation among politicians and tried to curb it by putting severe limits on what Congress and the president were allowed to do. That worked for a while, until “progressives” captured the Supreme Court and undid all the restraints on spending, making possible the prodigious size of the government today and its rapidly escalating debt.

Fiscal Policy

Tackling Inflation Hurts

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies during the Senate Banking Committee hearing “The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress” in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2022. (Tom Williams/Pool via Reuters)

Contrary to a good number of analysts, I don’t think the Fed’s current response to inflation is anywhere near excessive. Four 75-basis-point increases in the Fed funds rate so far have not made any noticeable dent in what is the nation’s worst inflation in 40 years. I get the idea of a lag, but I suspect that a lot of people who are now worrying about a “hawkish” Fed have distorted views of what “normal” looks like. Such a distortion is perhaps understandable after years of the Fed’s policy of near 0 percent interest rates. It seems to me, though, that at the current level, we are barely getting back into the sanity zone even though market players who got high on the ultra-low rates so long dispensed by the Fed aren’t enjoying today’s withdrawal, however mild it might currently be.

But then there is also the fact that it was always going to be harder for Chairman Powell than it was for Chairman Volcker (not that the latter had a walk in the park). In 1980, outstanding public debt was only around 30 percent of annual GDP. And there was no war; globalization was on the rise, women were entering the workforce at higher rates; airlines, trucking, energy, and financial services were being deregulated — all of which greatly increased supply.

No such environment exists today. We now have 120 percent debt to GDP, deglobalization, crackdowns on immigration and energy production, and no supply-expanding deregulation. On the contrary, when it comes to the last item on that list, with brief exceptions, over the past several decades we have seen a heaping-on of regulatory nonsense that strangles the economy and entrepreneurs daily. As if this were not bad enough, we have an administration that won’t stop pouring fiscal fuel on the inflation fire. Powell has a tough job ahead of him.

That said, I don’t feel too sorry for Powell, who oversaw the biggest Fed failure of the last 40 years. (Where, by the way, are the free-market scholars courageously explaining the need to radically overhaul the Fed?) I nevertheless do feel some sympathy for him, because he must now contend with a bunch of people who are upset to discover that reining in enormously rapid inflation is painful.

Elections

Kimmel vs. Laxalt

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Jimmy Kimmel (L) and Adam Laxalt (R) (Mario Anzuoni, Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Jimmy Kimmel’s ad attacking Adam Laxalt, the Republican running for Senate in Nevada, is based on the idea that Laxalt is so “unbalanced” that even “his family” is opposing him. “Why? Because they know him.”

Fourteen Laxalt relatives endorsed the incumbent Democrat, Catherine Cortez Masto.

The opposition from some of his relatives isn’t new. In Laxalt’s 2018 race for governor, twelve relatives wrote an op-ed denouncing him. In that op-ed, the twelve said that they hardly knew Laxalt, a fact they tried to spin against him (saying he doesn’t count as a real Nevadan). They noted that they disagreed with him on abortion, same-sex marriage, and federal education funding.

At the time, 22 other relatives wrote an op-ed calling the initial one “vicious and entirely baseless.”

This year’s letter skipped the attacks on Laxalt and instead praised Cortez Masto.

I don’t think dueling op-eds from candidates’ relatives is something that we should encourage. But I’d note that Kimmel is wrong to say Laxalt’s “family” opposes him, to say the opposition is based on knowing him, and to insinuate that its opposition has something to do with the candidate’s being “unbalanced.” I doubt Kimmel has done enough homework to know that he is telling untruths. He’s just a partisan Democrat who’s willing to get ugly.

Politics & Policy

A Working Abortionist Opposes California’s Deadly Proposition 1

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An anti-abortion activist holds a replica of a human fetus as demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., June 29, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

California obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Forrest Smith says he polled 147 of his patients on the state’s Proposition 1. When he first asked, they were planning to vote for it on Election Day. When he then explained to them that the proposition, the “Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom,” would legalize the killing of viable, healthy babies, every single one of those patients changed their minds and said they would vote against it. He calls what Proposition 1 would allow a “moral monstrosity that we cannot allow in our state’s constitution.”

 

Dr. Smith has testified in the past about the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover work, pointing out that their footage shows that doctors likely purposely had babies be born alive for the purpose of selling them for medical research. He draws a line there, out of conviction.

Democrats besmirch the decency of Americans when they assume that people actually want the most barbaric things to happen to the unborn and to babies in their first moments; when they put money toward the Proposition 1 campaign and support state-funded abortions with no limits; and when they campaign in other states for abortion tourism to California.

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that abortion to the point of viability may have been even a step too far for Governor Gavin Newsom and his staff, but they gave in to other Democrats who insisted on it.

If you live in California, have loving but truthful conversations about what Proposition 1 is actually about. Don’t let euphemisms win the day for the culture of death.

The Coming Lame Spin That the Midterms Were a ‘Win for the President’

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President Joe Biden attends a news conference at Waldorf Astoria in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Washington Post reports that Biden allies are preparing a really lame post-election spin:

One House Democratic strategist said that if Democrats hold 200 to 205 seats, they will consider it a good night. If the party ends up with 190 seats or less — a loss of 30 seats that would require several districts Biden carried by double-digits to flip — that would reflect a big red wave, said the strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Biden allies are preparing to spin even a defeat as a win for the president, since President Barack Obama

International

Corporate Governance with Chinese Characteristics

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U.S. and Chinese flags near the U.S. Capitol during then-Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit in Washington, D.C., in 2011. (Hyungwon Kang/Reuters)

I’ve argued for a while now that the Chinese economy has moved from the relative freedom of the post-Deng era to something that, under Xi, looks a lot like the harnessed capitalism found in fascist economic theory and, frequently, practice.

Sometimes the harness comes very clearly into view.

Via Nikkei Asia:

 An analysis by Nikkei Asia has found that as of Friday, more than two-thirds of the mainland-listed companies whose shares can be traded by international investors in Hong Kong — 1,029 of 1,526 companies — have articles of association that formalize the role of in-house Communist Party cells. Most have been rewritten during the Xi era.

Nikkei Asia has also identified at least 153 of those 1,029 companies as having references to Xi in their articles of association, which in effect are a company’s constitution.

Such changes reflect the substantial pressure that the party and government have started to exert during Xi’s period as China’s leader to reinforce the role of the party cells, including by amending articles of association…

In China, all companies are obliged to set up party cells if there are at least three party members, according to the Communist Party Charter, which was amended on Oct. 22 at the close of the congress to legitimize Xi’s extended rule and articulate his political philosophies.

Chinese corporate law also states that companies “ought to provide necessary conditions for the activities of party association.”

However the requirements “for many years have been sort of ignored,” said Gavekal’s Batson. “What’s happened under Xi is that he strongly encouraged people to actually follow this requirement.”

I touched on the question of party cells within banks a few months back.

Nikkei Asia again:

Some have gone further to enshrine Xi in their companies’ constitutions. The shareholders of Guangzhou Restaurant Group, operator of a renowned Cantonese diner in Guangdong’s capital city, approved last month additional clauses authorizing the in-house party organization to lead the company “to be highly consistent with the party,” with “Comrade Xi Jinping as the core” in terms of political orientation. The amendment also designated the party cell to guide the company to “deeply study and thoroughly implement Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

Why Western investors would want to invest in Chinese companies at this point is beyond me.

But for any investors that take the “G” (governance) in ESG seriously, it ought to be an impossibility. ESG or China: Choose one (or better, neither).

Politics & Policy

College Accreditation Is a Paper Tiger

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How do we know if a college is offering educational programs of good quality? Most people answer: accreditation. If a school is accredited that means that it is at least reasonably good — not a waste of time and money.

Sorry, but accreditation is vastly overrated. Accredited colleges and universities offer many low-quality courses and degrees. In today’s Martin Center article, I look at a recent study on the value of accreditation and conclude that we could drop it as the “gatekeeper” for federal student-aid money.

Accreditors have completely missed academic scandals such as the UNC fake courses to keep star athletes eligible to play and keep their stamp of approval on many schools with degree programs that don’t come anywhere near enabling their graduates to earn enough to cover their expenses. At the same time, the accreditation system inhibits innovation that might lead to big improvements in higher education.

Elections

McConnell’s PACs Spend Millions to Bail Out Trump’s Candidates

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Then-President Donald Trump listens to a question from reporters next to then—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

In his latest Washington Post column, Marc Thiessen presents some interesting facts on the efforts of super PACS affiliated with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to shore up candidates endorsed by Donald Trump:

Through his super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), and other affiliated groups, [Senator Mitch McConnell] has led an extraordinary, quarter-of-a-billion-dollar effort to rescue struggling Trump-backed Senate candidates — while the former president sits on a $92 million war chest and spends almost none of it.

McConnell-aligned super PACs — including SLF, American Crossroads and Faith & Power PAC — have invested a whopping $238 million so far in seven key Senate races. How much has Donald Trump spent? He has raised an eye-watering $161 million this election cycle. But his super PAC, Make America Great Again, Inc., has spent a grand total of … $14.8 million on Senate races. To put that in perspective, MAGA Inc.’s total spending across the country is less than McConnell-aligned PACs have spent in any individual race in which they are engaged.

Thiessen provides Ohio as a case study:

Take Ohio, where Trump’s endorsement helped J.D. Vance win the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman (R). After Labor Day, Vance was in deep trouble. His second quarter FEC report showed he had just over $600,000 cash on hand, and significant primary debt. He was statistically tied in a race for a seat that Portman had won by more than 20 points. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, was driving up Vance’s negatives — and he had no money to respond.

McConnell-affiliated PACs stepped in big time. They spent $32 million supporting Vance, who has managed to raise just $6.9 million on his own — compared with $44 million raised by his opponent. Thanks to McConnell’s help, Vance has eked out a 2.3-point lead in the FiveThirtyEight average — far behind Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who is leading his Democratic opponent by 19 points and thus requires no massive super PAC bailout.

How much has Trump spent to help Vance? A lousy $2.3 million — a pittance in a state with several expensive media markets. If Vance pulls out a victory, he will have McConnell to thank.

In his column, Thiessen describes the same pattern in North Carolina (where McConnell-aligned groups have spent $38 million vs. $0 from Trump’s PAC), Pennsylvania (McConnell’s $57 million to Trump’s $3.4 million), Wisconsin (McConnell’s $24 million to Trump’s $0), Georgia (McConnell’s $38 million to Trump’s $3.4 million), Nevada ($26 million vs. $2 million), and New Hampshire ($16 million vs. $0).

Thiessen offers this observation:

So, while Trump issues Truth Social missives attacking McConnell and his wife, he is quietly depending on the “Old Crow” to bail out the candidates he endorsed — and on whom Senate control now depends.

And this conclusion:

It’s possible that Tuesday will see a red wave so powerful that it will sweep all these Republicans into office. But if Republicans fall short, it will be because Trump chose weak candidates who needed massive outside support — and then failed to support them. If the GOP does take back the Senate, it will be because McConnell-aligned PACs saved Trump’s nominees — something they should remember when they take their oaths on Jan. 3.

Media

Kathy Hochul Grudgingly Acknowledges the Crime Problem She Called a Conspiracy

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New York State Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, in New York City, September 27, 2021. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)

Somebody finally got Kathy Hochul to belatedly accept an important lesson: Elected leaders should listen to their constituents instead of listening to left-wing Twitter. A bunch of those voices on the left have been insisting that actually, crime is a made-up issue ginned up by a conspiracy of right-wing media. So, we have Brian Beutler of Crooked arguing that “I can think of two possible explanations for a shift like that. One is that crime and inflation became perceptibly worse since August (which would justify a sustained shift in media focus). The other is that mass media started fixating on those topics independent of any significant change in material reality (but perhaps because Republicans uncorked a propaganda). . . . Journalists should do better. I think they should be able to recognize that crime is falling; that their outlets are awash in crime coverage anyhow because they’ve been manipulated; that Republicans willed a crime panic into existence, the same way they willed an Ebola panic into existence in 2014, and caravan panics into existence in more recent elections.” (Yes, there really are people who have committed themselves to claiming that Democrats lost nine Senate seats in 2014 because of “an Ebola panic.”) Beutler’s rant against covering violent crime was echoed by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post and by Radley Balko, who argues that it is good news that “There were 8 murders on the NYC subway last year.” Of course, none of these people trot out data when each individual case of an unarmed black man being killed by police gets thousands of times more coverage than other killings; they feel that massively disproportionate coverage benefits their side.

In any event, it would be hard to be more tone-deaf in following the lead of these people than Governor Hochul was on Sunday on Al Sharpton’s radio show, telling Sharpton, “These are master manipulators. They have this conspiracy going all across America trying to convince people in Democratic states that they’re not as safe.” Well, even in New York, it’s never a good idea to go full Brian Beutler. In an interview on NY1 yesterday, Hochul admitted that the crime problem is real and a legitimate concern: “I acknowledge there is a crime issue. It’s not new to me because it’s election time; I’ve been working on this throughout my entire time as governor.” It really is astounding that anybody could be so bad at politics that they needed to be forced into admitting this.

Elections

Wisconsin Dems Organize Protests at Johnson Events

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) asks questions during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs/Rules and Administration hearing to examine the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

Wisconsin Democrats are calling for partisans to protest various stops on Ron Johnson’s tour of the state, in what is an example of untoward behavior that is also protected speech — one of those “just because you can doesn’t mean it’s wise or proper” situations. The Wisconsin Democrats have emailed a missive to their lists, asking recipients to appear at the same time and place as Ron Johnson during his visits to Green Bay and Wausau. They’ll then caterwaul and carry on as protesters do, having their say in the public square. (Protesters of any stripe bring out the Kevin Williamson in me: I dislike the lot.)

Note: Only the Democrats are doing this. I have yet to see or hear of a Republican Party organ calling for what the Left is doing here. Shame on Wisconsin Democrats.

This strategy is the height of stupidity, and I pray the Democrats aren’t doing this for the reason I think they’re doing it — namely, to have some right-wing nutter lose what’s left of his mind and take a swing at a protesting Democrat. Then we’ll have a Dem with broken Zenni glasses and blood on his J. Crew chinos (size 30×32 for his 140-pound frame). It’ll be an ugly image, with a heaving idiot rightist and a slight and bloody English major, ripe for the national media — and there’s your controversy. 

We saw this in Portland and elsewhere. I excuse no one for such foolishness. I loathe it when parties force opposed political forces together. There will be no reasoned debate or fraternal community. At best, it’ll be obnoxious hooting and hollering while a candidate makes his pitch to the voters. At worst, the Right and Left clash in physical altercations that will see someone injured.

Political events are composed of three groups: true believers, lookie-loos, and weirdos. Lookers abet the believer’s actions by providing numbers, thus confidence. The overconfident actions of the believer then set off the weirdos. Bad things then quickly follow. This is the algebra of crowds and mobs — but I repeat myself.

Sending political activists to interrupt the opposition’s event is constitutionally permitted.

It’s also obnoxious. Stop.

Elections

Ralston: ‘The Dems Are in Trouble in Nevada’

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Veteran Nevada-based journalist Jon Ralston, who knows the state better than anyone, looks at the early-vote numbers:

​​Twelve days of early voting in the books, and I think it’s safe to say now after years of watching these numbers/trends: The Dems are in trouble in Nevada.

The reason is simple: Mail is way down in Clark County from 2020, and the numbers are just not big enough to boost the Clark firewall after the GOP wins in-person early voting every day.

Ralston goes on to say that the election is “far from over,” but read his full analysis here to see why the early-vote numbers don’t look good for Democrats. 

In the Senate race, Republican Adam Laxalt leads Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto by 1.9 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. 

Elections

Democrats Can’t Make Roevember Happen

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My new Bloomberg column goes into some reasons Democrats aren’t seeing the benefits they had anticipated from a backlash to Dobbs.

One additional reason I didn’t go into: the passage of time since the decision. President Biden seems to think that the emotional reaction from its opponents has faded. And modern media and social media being what they are, six months may be the equivalent of what six years used to be.

Politics & Policy

Don’t Dither, DeSantis

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Left: Then-President Donald Trump at the White House in 2020. Right: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at CPAC 2022 in Orlando, Fla. (Leah Millis, Octavio Jones/Reuters)

Yesterday, in light of rumors that DeSantis “will not run if Trump does,” my colleague Isaac Schorr eloquently explained (again) why Ron DeSantis shouldn’t back down from challenging former president Donald Trump in 2024. I second that assertion. However, I would add that the risk of losing momentum is also something the Florida governor might want to keep in mind.

Momentum is everything in politics. It’s why many Democrats lament that they “peaked” too early in this midterm-election cycle. If DeSantis loses steam between now and 2028 and fades from the spotlight, who’s to say he’ll regain it? Six years is eons in political time, and it’s almost certain Trump is running again. The only question now is whether DeSantis will stop him from becoming the next Benjamin NetanyahuLula da Silva, or Grover Cleveland.

When making this decision, DeSantis might want to heed the advice of hip-hop artist Eminem, who famously said, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

Politics & Policy

‘Our Democracy’: Compare and Contrast

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters ahead of the U.S. mid-term elections in Washington, D.C., October 24, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

In response to Re: Joe Biden: To Save Free Elections, You Have No Choice But to Vote for My Party

Compare and contrast. The president:

American patriots are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious Republic. . . . We’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our Constitution, and protect our Constitution. . . . We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s Capitol for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy. . . . You’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation. . . .

Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. . . . We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity, they’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never ever forget that they did. Never forget. We should never ever forget. . . .

It used to be that they’d argue with me, I’d fight. So I’d fight, they’d fight. I’d fight, they’d fight. . . . You’d believe me, you’d believe them. Somebody comes out. They had their point of view, I had my point of view. But you’d have an argument. Now what they do is they go silent. It’s called suppression. And that’s what happens in a communist country. That’s what they do. They suppress. . . . Look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. . . . Today, for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of our Constitution, and for the sake of our children, we lay out the case for the entire world to hear. . . . This is not just a matter of domestic politics, this is a matter of national security. So today, . . . I’m calling on Congress and the state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left.

The president:

The very future of our nation depends on it. My fellow Americans, we’re facing a defining moment, an inflection point. We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country. . . . I speak today near Capitol Hill, near the US Capitol, the citadel of our democracy. . . . We’ll have our difference of opinion, and that’s what it’s supposed to be. But there’s something else at stake; democracy itself. I’m not the only one who sees it. Recent polls have shown that overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy is at risk, that our democracy is under threat. They too see that democracy is on the ballot this year and they’re deeply concerned about it. . . .

So today, I appeal to all Americans, regardless of party, to meet this moment of national and generational importance, we must vote knowing what’s at stake, and not just the policy of the moment, but institutions that have held us together as we’ve sought a more perfect union are also at stake. We must vote knowing who we have been, what we’re at risk of becoming. Look, my fellow Americans, the old expression, freedom is not free, it requires constant vigilance. . . . The issue couldn’t be clearer in my view. We, the people, must decide whether we’ll have fair and free elections and every vote counts. We, the people, must decide whether we’re going to sustain a republic where reality is accepted, the law is obeyed, and your vote is truly sacred. . . .

[The party’s] driving force is trying . . . to suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself. That means denying your right to vote and deciding whether your vote even counts. . . . I want to be very clear, this is not about me, it’s about all of us. . . . This is the struggle we’re now in, a struggle for democracy, a struggle for decency and dignity, a struggle for prosperity and progress, a struggle for the very soul of America itself. . . . In a typical year, we’re often not faced with questions of whether the vote we cast will preserve democracy or put us at risk, but this year we are. . . . Too many people have sacrificed too much for too many years for us to walk away from the American project in democracy. . . . The fate of the nation, the fate of the soul of America lies where it always does, with the people, in your hands, in your heart, in your ballot.

If you heard either of these speeches about how the other side was about to end our democracy and our country, would you think that was a thing that ought to be resisted by force? Can you understand why some of your fellow Americans would? Isn’t that a dangerous sentiment no matter who is selling it?

Elections

A Long-Shot Reformed Felon in Milwaukee County Race

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An election official works in the ballot room organizing unused ballots returned from voting precincts after Election Day at the Kenosha Municipal Building in Kenosha, Wis., November 4, 2020. (Daniel Acker/Reuters)

West Allis, Wis. — Abandoning the coffee collectivists I encountered a couple of days ago to their roadside vigil, I pushed west to the Milwaukee County GOP offices, where I hoped to chat with the volunteers and talk over what life was like in a district that skews so far to the left. After parking in the lot between a bar and a hair parlor, I walked in to find a single volunteer, “Dorothy,” who was skittish about talking to media (who can blame her, as we’re scurrilous cads at our best) but happy to tell me about the various candidates’ attributes and strong conservative characters. She pressed literature on me, and one of the leaflets stood out, presenting a long-shot opponent of Gwen Moore, a decades-tenured congresswoman who is served by Wisconsin’s fourth district — Milwaukee proper. 

That long shot, Tim Rogers (who goes by “Mr. Rogers”), is a product of Milwaukee’s North Division high school, which, coincidentally, is the very school at which Barack Obama and Gwen Moore spoke only a few days ago. Rogers has run against Moore twice in the past, losing badly both times (by about 50 percentage points) but gaining about 10,000 more votes in 2020 than in 2018. Rogers was available to meet and chat, so he came by the headquarters and gave me his story. 

An entrepreneur, college grad, and convicted drug trafficker, Rogers is truly unique. He wishes to abolish income and property taxes, as well as institute a nationalized energy-profit-sharing scheme that would attach a savings account to kids when they’re born and then pay energy dividends into their accounts to the age of 18. As an African-American man and native of the city, he reckons that such generational wealth will undo many of the adverse incentives that cause Milwaukee to be one of the worst places for a child to grow up. 

Rogers spent three years upstate at a penitentiary for moving drugs — he says that he didn’t think them to be drugs — for friends who ratted him out because of their own legal issues; an episode from 20 years ago he’s happy to be done with. As the son of a cop dad and jail-instructor mom, I know how quickly a man might find himself on the wrong end of the law, so I don’t share these details to disparage the man but because I think it commendable that Wisconsin allows felons to vote and hold office once their sentence has been served. He’s hardly the first politician to be found in possession of coke, though the others are usually transporting it toward their adenoids. 

I asked why he was running a race that one can only lose. Rogers was adamant that one day he could win. He runs a fruit-basket delivery business that he uses to meet new people and talk to them about what could better benefit them from the realm of politics. Having lost by a vote of 230,000 to 70,000 in 2020, Rogers hopes to cut that difference in half this year, with his eyes on eventual victory in 2024. 

While his efforts may seem like a fool’s errand, it is certain that Republicans cannot win such a seat if no man is willing to run. So I commend Mr. Rogers for his affable optimism despite the odds. Milwaukee deserves better, and, between you and me, I’d like to see what the man would do in Congress. 

Law & the Courts

The Continued Smearing of Justice Thomas

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters )

One of the favorite pastimes of the nation’s legacy media outlets is maligning and spinning conspiracy theories about Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. The smear du jour, this time via Politico, is that Donald Trump’s lawyers saw a direct appeal to Thomas as their best chance to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The attempt to tarnish Thomas hangs primarily on his wife, Ginni, who was involved in some conversations about 2020-election litigation. But news flash: Justice Thomas and his wife are different people. As Andy McCarthy explained during one of the last rounds of Thomas-dragging:

The Thomases maintain a wall of separation regarding their respective professional lives to avoid conflicts: Justice Thomas does not discuss the Court’s pending cases with Ginni, and Ginni does not involve the justice in her political activities — not that either of them would try to become involved in the other’s work.

Moreover, you don’t have to be a constitutional-law scholar or a psephologist to know this effort had no chance of going anywhere. Many paragraphs down, the Politico piece admits this:

The Trump’s team’s effort found virtually no traction at the high court. The only outward signs of dissension among the justices were mild, like a Dec. 11 order where the court rejected a bid by Texas to challenge the vote counts in four other states. Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito issued a brief statement saying they’d have accepted jurisdiction over the case, but joined the other justices in denying Texas any relief.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Whether it was the uncorroborated Anita Hill allegations or claims that he was a beneficiary of affirmative action, the mainstream media cannot help but denigrate Thomas. All this calumny in the press about the senior justice is enough to make one wonder: Why do the media loathe his presence on the bench so much? 

Some Thomas detractors, by purporting to “explain” Thomas, have actually revealed themselves. Consider The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin, a political-science professor and contributing editor at the socialist rag, Jacobin. Robin claims that Thomas’s originalism is motivated by his deep-seated black nationalism and pessimism about the potential for racial harmony in America. This is a load of malarkey. Thomas has explicitly repudiated his radical past. If anything, he is living proof that anyone in America can transcend prejudice and adversity regardless of where one is born.

All Robin’s screed does is provide yet more evidence that those in the media and other progressive elites hate Thomas because he doesn’t conform to their assumptions about who is supposed to believe what. Intolerance for ideological diversity, especially when it is evidenced by minorities, is a hallmark of the progressive Left.

Elections

Kari Lake Knows What She’s Doing

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This is a nearly perfect answer from Kari Lake. It’s humane and not the least bit defensive, while still getting her barbs in:

Politics & Policy

Republicans Are Souring on the War in Ukraine

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Captured Russian tanks with installed Ukrainian flags, near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, September 19, 2022. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

As I have been writing, there have been signs of waning enthusiasm for the Ukrainian cause among Republicans all year, if you cared to look deeply enough into it. Republicans believe Ukraine is wronged and deserves support, but they have been conscious about the limited nature of that support — in that it should not put Americans at unnecessary risk.

Kevin McCarthy warned Congress that this sentiment was growing, only to be rebuked by Mitch McConnell who, improbably, believes Ukraine is the most important issue:

The problem is only going to become more acute by January. Republicans are fooling themselves if they think they can transform a mandate to fight inflation into one for extending a war that has inflationary effects on the global economy.

How the Races Are Breaking, Thursday Morning Edition

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A line of early voters stretches outside the building as early voting begins for the midterm elections at the Citizens Service Center in Columbus, Ga., October 17, 2022. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

I’ve been following the status of the polls for the Senate and governors’ races (using a method described here), and more are coming in by the hour. I will do at least one more fuller roundup in the next few days, but here is a quick update as of this morning:

In the Senate races, we had one race come off the board that was not a big shocker: The first poll in seven weeks in Vermont shows Democrat Peter Welch with the race well in hand. With an open seat race in a small TV market, Vermont was worth a

Elections

Biden Finally Hits the Trail . . . to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Philadelphia

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President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Miami Gardens, Fla., November 1, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

After pointing out that President Biden has played a minimal role on the campaign trail for Democrats throughout September and October, I should update readers that Biden is doing more events in the final week before Election Day. As the Associated Press notes, Biden “is kicking off a four-state, three-day campaign swing on Thursday to support Democrats in competitive races in solidly blue California, Illinois and New Mexico as well as battleground Pennsylvania, where Biden has deep roots.”

It’s unsurprising that a president would campaign in a state’s biggest city, as that’s where the most voters and the most Democratic voters are, but it is also worth noting that Biden’s going to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Philadelphia — the safest of safe territories in these states. In California, Biden will appear with Representative Mike Levin for a get-out-the-vote event at a community college in Oceanside. In 2020, Biden won Levin’s district, 55 percent to 42 percent. The Cook Political Report currently rates this race a “toss up,” which tells you a great deal about the political environment of 2022.

Biden also recently campaigned in Florida, where the Democratic statewide candidates Charlie Crist and Val Demings are so far behind, Biden can’t do much damage.

Biden has spent far less time on the campaign trail in these midterms, and appeared with far fewer candidates, than Trump in 2018, Obama in 2014 or 2010, or Bush in 2006. This may be because the president is very unpopular. It may be because Biden, who turns 80 this month, is tired out by travel more than when he was vice president. Or it may be that Biden is simply too reckless and unpredictable with his stream-of-consciousness musings to be much of an asset for Democrats facing tough reelection bids. Or it may be all three.

Politics & Policy

Re: Joe Biden: To Save Free Elections, You Have No Choice But to Vote for My Party

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Voting signs stand outside a polling station in Palm Beach, Fla., November 3, 2020. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Jim notes that:

Wednesday evening, President Biden argued that to preserve your right to vote for the candidate of your choice, you have no other option but to vote for the candidate of his choice.

On his Substack yesterday, Josh Barro made a terrific point about the core problem with this ruse:

When Democrats talk about “democracy,” they’re talking about the importance of institutions that ensure the voters get a say among multiple choices and the one they most prefer gets to rule. But they are also saying voters do not get to do that in this election. The message is that there is only one party contesting this election that is committed to democracy — the Democrats — and therefore only one real choice available. If voters reject Democrats’ agenda or their record on issues including inflation, crime, and immigration (or abortion, for that matter), they have no recourse at the ballot box — they simply must vote for Democrats anyway, at least until such time as the Republican Party is run by the likes of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

This amounts to telling voters that they have already lost their democracy.

Indeed.

 

National Review

‘The Raging Personality Disorder and the Lair’

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Consultant Jeffrey Toobin participates in a panel for the FX Networks The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., January 16, 2016. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

On episode six of The Charles C. W. Cooke Podcast, I brave my rapidly disappearing voice to discuss the attack on Paul Pelosi, talk to Mary Katharine Ham about her outrageous treatment by CNN, and dig into Giles Martin’s newly released remix of The Beatles’ Revolver.

If you’re wondering how on earth we managed to avoid side-fumbling, please note that this episode was recorded and mastered on a Rockwell Retro Encabulator.

You can subscribe to my podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more. For a full list of terms and conditions, please look here.

Elections

Final Rubio Ad: ‘America’

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) speaks during the “Keep Florida Free Tour” in Tampa, Fla., August 24, 2022. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

Senator Marco Rubio, once regarded as a potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent, now looks poised to cruise to victory in Florida’s race for U.S. Senate next week. His final advertisement of the campaign, a 60-second slot debuting on Fox News today, neglects to mention his opponent, Val Demings — or any Democrat at all. Instead, the ad — titled simply: “America” — is a largely nonpartisan testament to “the greatest country in the history of the world,” as Rubio puts it in one of the clips, interspersed with the Republican senator’s personal backstory as the son of Cuban immigrants. In America, Rubio intones, “We aren’t defined by the color of our skin. We’re defined by rights that come from God.”

The only noticeably political undertone comes in the final seconds of the ad, which feature an implicit rebuke of recent left-wing criticisms of the United States: “In America, our history isn’t perfect. But we never stop striving to be better. Here, each generation leaves the next one better off. This is our country. And if you don’t love it, you’re free to leave it. But we will never allow anyone to destroy it.”

Amid the GOP’s “summer swoon,” Demings — a progressive darling who raked in cash from national donors on her promise to unseat Rubio — appeared to be gaining momentum. Over the summer, the Democratic challenger outraised and outspent the Republican incumbent, flooding the Florida airwaves with campaign ads and closing the race to a low-single-digit gap in the polls. But as the GOP’s national prospects rebounded over the course of the past two months, Rubio’s polling numbers surged. As of this writing, the FiveThirtyEight average places him at a comfortable 7.4-point lead. Last month, the Cook Political Report moved the race from “Lean Republican” to “Likely Republican.” “Early on, Democrats made GOP Sen. Marco Rubio a target, especially after landing Rep. Val Demings as a challenger and clearing the field for her,” Cook’s Jessica Taylor wrote. But “we haven’t seen the type of movement toward Demings that she needs to pull off an upset in a state like Florida.” It’s “possible to get to 46 or 47 percent as a Democrat in the state, but that may be the ceiling regardless, especially this cycle,” Taylor said. And “getting those final few points in a state like Florida is herculean.”

Elections

DeSantis 2028?

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the primary election for the midterms during the “Keep Florida Free Tour” in Tampa, Fla., August 24, 2022. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman’s “sources” inform him that Florida governor Ron DeSantis is telling donors that he will not challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, opting instead to run in 2028.

This beggars belief for a number of reasons. As I wrote in August, polling shows Trump is the front-runner, but a soft one, and DeSantis would be foolish to wait for his iron to cool before striking. If he were to wait until 2028 to run, he risks running a redux of the doomed 2016 Chris Christie campaign for president. Blackberry cellphones were cutting-edge, their own kind of fascination, really, in 2002. Not so much in 2022.

But even if you believe the logic behind a 2024 campaign isn’t quite as compelling as I do, the reasons that Sherman’s sources — “four prominent Republicans” — cite for DeSantis’s alleged determination to push back his plans are much less so.

“He can walk into the presidency in 2028 without pissing off Trump or Florida,” posited one of His Prominences. “What would you rather do? Be the governor of Florida for certain or run for president?”

This is a Billy Madison “I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul”–caliber explanation.

No one “walks into the presidency.” You bite, and scratch, and claw, and degrade yourself into the presidency — although perhaps not degrade yourself so much as to suggest, six years out, that someone could easily come into the nuclear codes. All you can do is put yourself in position, pick your spot, gut it out, and pray. Also, if Floridians overwhelmingly reelect DeSantis as governor, something tells me they won’t mind him as their president. Besides, DeSantis could continue serving as the Sunshine State’s governor during his campaign and carry on in the post even if he fell short in the primary or general election.

And then there’s that last question: Governor of Florida or a shot at the presidency? Has this esteemed GOP elite with many leather-bound books and a home that smells of mahogany ever spoken with an American politician? You might as well ask someone if they’d rather be disemboweled or win Olympic gold. Governor of Florida means as much to an office-seeker as sheriff of Smalltown once he’s pictured himself in the Oval Office.

One more thing.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s once and forever adviser, talking about DeSantis in July: “He’s a great governor, he’s fascinating. He could be a two-term [governor], and he’s got a great sense for the culture warrior part too. Ron DeSantis can be the best two-term governor in Florida in modern history and run for president before he’s 50.”

Who does that sound like?

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Speech Was the Worst of Both Worlds

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President Joe Biden speaks about threats to Democracy and political violence in the United States during a Democratic National Committee event at the Columbus Club in Washington, D.C., November 2, 2022. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Rich observes that Biden’s speech this evening was “abysmal.” “Stylistically,” he submits, “the speech was meandering, cliched, and repetitive, and Biden’s delivery was notably lifeless.” Jim describes it as “the same old stuff, served many times before, zapped in a microwave.” I agree. Moreover, I think that this was probably inevitable. The president has convinced himself that claiming to represent democracy is a winning message, but he also knows that, last time around, he looked absolutely ridiculous while doing so. The resultant compromise yielded the worst of both worlds: Biden eschewed the Star Wars aesthetic that so excited his partisan fans, while delivering a dull, partisan, self-serving address that anyone with a brain could see straight through. It’ll be forgotten by tomorrow morning — if not sooner.

I’m not convinced that political rhetoric of any type is going to change the trajectory of the coming midterms, but, regardless, I cannot help but notice just how poor a campaigner Joe Biden is in his current state. The clips of Barack Obama that have been circulating on Twitter of late serve as a reminder of how good Democrats can be on the stump. Biden, by comparison, is a shadow — of his former self, of his party’s successful phase, of the president he promised to be. Schadenfreude notwithstanding, I must confess that there is a part of me that is absolutely dreading hearing what Biden attempts to say next week if his party struggles in the midterm elections. If, a week out, democracy is contingent upon the Democrats winning, what on earth is the president going to claim if they’ve lost big?

Politics & Policy

Another Abysmal Biden Speech

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President Joe Biden speaks about threats to Democracy and political violence in the United States during a Democratic National Committee event at the Columbus Club in Washington, D.C., November 2, 2022. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Biden started out describing the horrific attack on Paul Pelosi in detail but elided the fact that his attacker is seriously mentally ill. Instead, with no basis whatsoever, he connected the attack to January 6 and then launched into the typical argument that “democracy is on the ballot.”

I think election denial is corrosive, and threats against election workers are wrong and should be prosecuted as warranted. But Biden’s broader case is meritless and self-serving.

He, naturally, didn’t denounce any Democratic election denial or endorse any Republicans who aren’t election deniers as great friends of democracy. The motivation here is strictly partisan, and more obviously so the more Biden denies it. It’s also completely ridiculous to hear a president who has flagrantly abused his powers talking about the need to defend the rule of law and warning against the hunger for power.

Politically, this may be a bid to win back suburban women who have been moving away from Democrats, but the issues of inflation and crime are likely what’s motivating those voters.

Stylistically, the speech was meandering, clichéd, and repetitive, and Biden’s delivery was notably lifeless.

All around a poor performance, but what did you expect?

Politics & Policy

Joe Biden: To Save Free Elections, You Have No Choice But to Vote for My Party

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President Joe Biden speaks about threats to Democracy and political violence in the United States during a Democratic National Committee event at the Columbus Club in Washington, D.C., November 2, 2022. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Wednesday evening, President Biden argued that to preserve your right to vote for the candidate of your choice, you have no other option but to vote for the candidate of his choice.

Today on the Three Martini Lunch podcast, after hearing that Biden would be making a national address at night about how Republican candidates in the midterm elections represent a threat to democracy, I joked to Greg Corombos that “President Biden is in reruns.” As expected, this was a reheated version of Biden’s Independence Hall speech without the ominous red lighting in the background. Biden said he was speaking “near Capitol Hill,” and indeed, Union Station is near Capitol Hill, but he could have given this speech anywhere, with the same row of American flags behind him.

Biden’s speech was repetitive and more than a little condescending, talking to Americans as if he was a high school principal reprimanding a bunch of misbehaving teenagers who had been caught fighting in the school parking lot. Biden reminded Americans, over and over again, that political violence was wrong, as if vast numbers of the people watching at home were on the verge of firebombing their neighbor because they put a yard sign for the other candidate. Biden offered once again the warning that certain candidates wanted to “take away your right to vote.” This is once again a reference to the Georgia voting law that Biden compared to Jim Crow, that so far has resulted in a record-high number of early voters. The same old stuff, served many times before, zapped in a microwave.

Biden spoke in a strangely listless manner, considering he was warning of epic, life-and-death consequences. At one point, Biden mumbled a warning that MAGA Republicans will “flersh their thresh for power,” which I presume was meant to be “flourish their thirst for power.” The major television networks did not carry this speech live, but the cable networks did. It was the right choice for a speech that amounted to a demand that the public vote for his party, or irrevocably collapse into autocracy.

Elections

A Verdict on Candidate Quality in Arizona?

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Republican candidate for Arizona governor Arizona Kari Lake speaks at a rally in Mesa, Ariz., October 9, 2022. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

There is not a single poll currently included in the FiveThirtyEight polling average of Arizona’s gubernatorial race between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs that Hobbs holds a lead in. Similarly, there is not a single poll currently included in the FiveThirtyEight polling average of Arizona’s U.S. Senate race between Republican Blake Masters and Democrat Mark Kelly that Masters holds a lead in. Lake leads 48.6–45.9. Kelly leads 48–45.

I’m not the first to observe the discrepancy in their respective performances, but the consistency with which it shows up seems remarkable and underscores the importance of candidate quality — as in the appeal of a candidate’s background, level of likeability, and oratory skills, not moral character — to winning elections.

Now, this is not a perfectly controlled experiment; Kelly is an incumbent and savvy campaigner. Hobbs is neither, but Kelly has a true-blue voting record that should be a major liability at a time when most Americans think the country’s headed in the wrong direction under the stewardship of unified Democratic control of the federal government. Kari Lake and Blake Masters are running in the same state, in equally notable races, in what is expected to be a good year for the GOP. They both secured the coveted Trump endorsement during their primaries. They both say they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the former president. And yet, Kari Lake is excelling where Blake Masters is not.

World

Another Word on Israeli Judicial Reform

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A panel of judges of the Israeli Supreme Court address a discussion on a petition asking whether then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government legally and publicly when indictments are filed against him at the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters)

Yesterday, I wrote a piece on why legal conservatives in the U.S. should avoid making common cause with Israel’s radical legal-reform movement. These judicial jacobins now appear poised to fulfill their objectives, with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc headed for a commanding comeback victory. In preparation for the legal-reform efforts coming down the pike, it’s important to distinguish between changes that American originalists ought to support and those that should be beyond the pale.

In recent decades, the Israeli High Court has clearly grown too big for its britches. For example, the Court uses a method of statutory interpretation that even allows it to ignore the statutory text. Additionally, it can simply waive standing requirements when quasi-constitutional basic laws are at issue; it has no restrictions on subject-matter jurisdiction; and, perhaps most striking, Israeli judges are appointed by a committee where the majority of votes are High Court justices and attorneys who argue before them. Since a mere simple majority of nine committee members is needed to appoint judges to Israel’s magistrates and district courts, and seven out of nine are required to select a High Court justice, this absence of alternative stakeholders has rendered the Israeli judiciary an unaccountable self-licking ice-cream cone. One need not go as far as Bezalel Smotrich’s proposal, which would give the government the power to nominate six of the nine seats on the committee, to remedy this issue.

“Proposals for judicial reform have a long history in Israel and have traditionally come from individuals on both sides of the aisle who recognize the immense power of the judiciary,” says Aylana Meisel, chairwoman of the Israeli Law and Liberty Forum, an Israeli group modeled after the Federalist Society. “Unfortunately, the big push for reform today is coming mostly from the Right, feeding a mistaken narrative that this bloc is out to quash Israel’s liberal democracy. Whether one agrees with the substance of the proposals, it is neither extreme nor novel — and it is part of a developing Israeli constitutional discourse whose growing diversity is welcome.”

Meisel is not wrong, and her organization’s intentions are undoubtedly pure. But originalists should nevertheless be weary of being duped into getting behind radical proposals that will immunize one man from prosecution and evirate the Israeli judiciary entirely.

Politics & Policy

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Intervene in Attempted DOJ Transgender Directive

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland attends a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., June 25, 2021. (Ken Cedeno/Reuters)

Fourteen House Republicans, including representatives Chip Roy, Mary Miller, and Andy Harris M.D., have signed a letter addressed to attorney general Merrick Garland to express “deep concern about the prospect of the Department of Justice weaponizing its federal law enforcement power against law-abiding American citizens ­— this time to target those daring to question gender transition procedures for minors.”

The letter comes in response to one sent to the DOJ on October 3 on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) which urged the department to take “swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities responsible” for attacks “rooted in an international campaign of disinformation.”

“If the DOJ steps beyond its authority to comply with the AAP, AMA, and CHA’s request, DOJ would do incredible harm to Americans’ freedom of speech and expression, the medical profession, and children and families,” the Republicans’ response letter states. “Given your department’s recent, numerous, politically motivated abuses of power against Americans, our concern is eminently justified.”

The lawmakers request the following information by November 8:

  1. Please provide copies of any internal or external DOJ communications regarding the letter from the AAP, AMA, and CHA, including but not limited to DOJ’s response.

  2. Does the DOJ agree with the AAP, AMA, and CHA’s assertion that questioning or criticizing “gender-affirming health care” warrants federal investigation and prosecution?

  3. Does the DOJ intend to investigate individuals, organizations, and entities that express their opposition to performing “gender-affirming health care” on minors?

  4. To date, what action, if any, has DOJ taken to investigate and/or prosecute individuals, organizations, and entities for their opposition to “gender-affirming health care”?

  5. Does DOJ intend to collaborate with technology companies to identify and obtain information on individuals, organizations, and entities that expressed their opposition to “gender-affirming health care” on social media platforms, or has DOJ previously done so?

Representative Roy told National Review: “Under no circumstance should this administration further weaponize federal law enforcement against well-meaning parents rightly concerned with their children’s well-being at the behest of a bunch of leftists in white coats. If they do, Republicans in Congress must be ready for a fight to defund it, full stop.”

Health Care

Covid ‘Experts’ Don’t Get Pandemic Amnesty

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The leading voices for lockdowns and school closures are attempting to evade accountability as the damage that their policies wreaked becomes more evident. Over on the YouTube channel, Caroline Downey and Brent Buterbaugh break down Emily Oster’s article for the Atlantic that makes the case for a “pandemic amnesty.”

Science & Tech

Why Elon Musk Must Resurrect Vine

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SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk looks at his mobile phone in Cape Canaveral, Fla., January 19, 2020. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

I have lamented the demise of Vine, the short-video-generating app once attached to Twitter yet shut down by the platform several years ago. I am not alone in my mourning. It is also missed by the Millennials and Zoomers who have compiled the app’s greatest hits on YouTube. And even those involved in the decision to kill the app now have regrets, especially as they have beheld the rise of the similar (but evil) Chinese app TikTok in Vine’s absence.

I have gone so far as to argue that there is a national-security case for using government resources to revive Vine, given TikTok’s growing influence over American life — 26 percent of Americans under age 30 regularly get their news from it! — at the same time that it retains sketchy ties with the Chinese government. (See this post from last year and this speech I gave last week for an elaboration of my case.) Free-market economists, including Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, have acknowledged that national-security concerns can create a reasonable exception to the general preference for free markets — though this can of course be abused, and often is.

Preferably, market forces will resurrect Vine. Axios reports that Elon Musk, now the owner of Twitter, is looking into reviving Vine, possibly as early as the end of this year.

I have mixed feelings about Musk’s purchase of Twitter, and about Twitter generally. But the return of Vine would be welcome, for both entertainment and national-security purposes.

Fiscal Policy

Another Achievement of the Biden Administration, Deleted

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Yesterday, the White House tweeted out a message celebrating yet another triumph:

Seniors are getting the biggest increase in their Social Security checks in 10 years through President Biden’s leadership.

Bold, I thought.

Some might have thought that that was rather like an arsonist’s telling his victims that they had no need to worry because their insurance will cover the losses.

Sadly, this tweet, a minor milestone in the annals of chutzpah, has vanished.

The New York Post:

Twitter, which ​was purchased last week by billionaire Elon Musk, appended a note to the claim that said: “R​​eaders added context they thought people might want to know​.”

​​“Seniors will receive a large Social Security benefit increase due to the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on the inflation rate,” the note said, linking to the Social Security Administration’s website for an explanation on the Nixon-era legislation behind the increase – known as COLA.

Nixon’s the one! Oh, well.

Health Care

‘Nullectomy’: Physician-Assisted Mutilation

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(Chinnapong/iStock/Getty Images)

I don’t know how much more of this our culture can take. “Gender-affirming” surgeries are growing increasingly extreme. A source sent me links to websites operated by doctors who perform “bottom surgeries” advertising “genital nullification” — a.k.a. “nullectomy” — procedures that remove genitalia in order to create a “smooth” appearance in the groin.

Here’s the first one (I am not linking, as I wouldn’t want to be even indirectly complicit in anyone’s voluntary butchery):

Your Smooth Bottom Line: Nullectomy, Nullification, Nullo:

Nullectomy is the removal of internal and external genital structures to create a smooth appearance from the abdomen to the groin. Glans (penile or clitoral) and nerve tissue can be “buried” in the mons to retain a focused nerve center for sensation while maintaining a smooth appearance, can remain present as an “outie,” or can be removed.

For someone starting with a penis and testicles, nullectomy can include:

  • penectomy (removal of the penis)
  • orchiectomy (removal of the scrotum)
  • scrotomectomy (removal of the testicles)
  • urethral shortening

For someone starting with a clitoris, vulva, vagina, and uterus (if not already removed,) nullectomy can include:

  • hysterectomy with or without oophorectomy
  • vaginectomy (if a vaginectomy is chosen, a hysterectomy is required)
  • vulvectomy (partial or radical)
  • clitorectomy
  • urethral modification

How filled with self-loathing must one be to subject one’s body to such extreme desecration?

Here’s a pitch for the same procedure from a different doctor:

Gender Nullification

For his gender non-conforming patients, Dr. [name deleted] also performs gender nullification, also known as male to eunuch or “smoothie” procedures. The procedure includes a complete penectomy, orchiectomy, a reduction of the scrotal sac, and shortening of the urethra. The goal is to leave the area as a smooth unbroken transition from the abdomen to the groin.

And here’s one more, from a plastic surgeon who performs both gender-related and more typical cosmetic surgeries. It is discussed under the heading “Non-Binary Surgery”:

Genital Nullification / Nullo
Genital nullification, Nullo, or Eunuch procedures involve removing all external genitalia to create a smooth transition from the abdomen to the groin. In some cases, this involves shortening the urethra. For patients born with a uterus, a hysterectomy is required prior to any genital nullification procedure. Your specific goals can be discussed with one of our surgeons to develop a plan that works for you.

That doctors would actually do such a thing is beyond disgusting. Hippocrates weeps.

Elections

Marquette Poll: Major Races Are Tighter Than a Tick

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This afternoon, Marquette University’s law school published its final poll ahead of Election Day. The Senate and gubernatorial races in Wisconsin could not be closer. Ron Johnson’s six-point lead over Mandela Barnes from mid October has shrunk to two among likely voters. 

Meanwhile, Tim Michels has overcome a one-point deficit to draw even with Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, at 48 points apiece.

Despite their midwestern modesty, our glacier-formed lands between Superior and Kenosha will once again be the center of national attention on Election Night as contrary visions for the state and federal government face off.

Economy & Business

Great Take on ‘Slacktivist Investing’

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Our pals at Kite & Key Media have unleashed a new video that investigates just how wrong corporate activism has been, and how much Americans have been strung along by all the unmerited, self-congratulatory press about ESG-loving Big Business ethics. Evidence is scarce; hypocrisy is plentiful. Enjoy it:

Elections

A Straw in the Wind?

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The New York Times covered Biden’s flubs yesterday, and I believe that this is a sign of things to come after the election.

Elections

Re: Two Completely Different Standards

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In response to Two Completely Different Standards on Rhetoric and Violence

Dan, I live in the Northeast where there are competitive races this year, and the barrage of dark, apocalyptic TV ads deeming the Republican candidates dangerous, extreme, and a threat to women is something to behold. But apparently no one believes that these ads are a threat to the safety of the targeted politicians.