Richard Nixon, Charles Manson, and Why Presidents Shouldn’t Comment on Ongoing Trials

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Charles Manson talks during an interview, August 25, 1989. (Calvin Hom CP/Reuters)

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the central tenet of the American criminal justice system. Public opinion is a different matter. While judges and juries must grant the accused the presumption of innocence until proven in a court of law, ordinary citizens are free to conclude, and declare,  “that guy’s guilty as sin.” A lot of people believe O.J. Simpson committed two murders, even though a court found him not guilty. (Other figures who were acquitted in court but who remained infamous include Lizzie Borden, Fatty Arbuckle, and Casey Anthony.)

If Joe Biden was just a retired vice president, his declaration that

Energy & Environment

The New and Improved Green New Deal Is Still Insane

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.) hold a news conference for their proposed Green New Deal in Washington, D.C., February 7, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “formally” reintroduced the Green New Deal today. The first iteration of the plan, lest anyone forget, proposed the elimination of all fossil-fuel energy production; the end of all nuclear power; the phase-out of all “combustion-engine vehicles” — so trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars; the “retrofitting” of every home, factory, and apartment building in the country; the construction of “high speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary;” the guarantee of a government a job; a “family-sustaining” wage with free college, state-provided “healthy food,” and “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for everyone; the banning of meat; and “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work, among other socialist grab-bag items.

All in the next decade.

The plan was met with so much derision that Ocasio-Cortez claimed her office had accidentally released a working draft to the public – and most of the media went along with the charade. Of course, even if one concedes this fiction, it is worth noting that these are the kinds of insane policies being batted around by progressives.

When the second iteration was released — and embraced by every Democratic Party presidential candidate (including Joe Biden) — then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the Democrats’ resolution for a vote. Or, as the Associated Press framed it: “McConnell wields Green New Deal as bludgeon against Dems.” Here was a chance for Democrats to vote for nothing but affirmation of intent regarding their plan to save the world. Yet, Markey would not support his own resolution.

Now, we’re on the third iteration, which seems to be piecemeal  version of the old plan. What is the Green New Deal now? Everything, still. Infrastructure. Transit. Food. “The trampling of indigenous rights is a cause of climate change,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “The trampling of racial justice is a cause of climate change.” The congresswoman says her plan will create “20 million union jobs in the United States of America.” You don’t want to be in a union? Too bad, I guess.

Americans use around 20 million barrels of petroleum every day. How many bazillions will the Green New Deal cost to replace that energy? We don’t know. But thanks to Politico, we do know that “Republicans pounced on the resolution’s reemergence.” (At this point, reporters who use the “pounce” formulation have to be doing it on purpose.) Progressives are merely “leaning into the framework to swiftly transition off fossil fuels” while the legislation has “become a prominent foil for conservatives.”

Well, yeah. The legislation to eliminate affordable fossil-fuel energy using authoritarian means has 103 House cosponsors. Foil away.

Education

A Berkeley Professor Pushes Back against BLM — Anonymously, of Course

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Saying what you actually believe can be a career-ending mistake in the academic world these days, what with legions of “social-justice” advocates out there eager to eliminate dissenters.

Here is an anonymous letter from a UC Berkeley professor, someone of color, who objects to the BLM agenda and its tactics. It was written last June.

I’ll quote just two paragraphs:

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or ‘Uncle Toms’. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders. Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

Read the whole thing — while you can — and weep for what has become of American education.

Hat tip: Glynn Custred.

White House

Evidently, Jen Psaki’s Job Is to Pretend Joe Biden Didn’t Say What Everybody Heard Him Say

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing in Washington, D.C., April 7, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

On Tuesday, as the jury deliberates in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden became the latest prominent Democrat to weigh in. He told reporters “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. The evidence is overwhelming in my view.”

Yet in a press briefing shortly thereafter, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I don’t think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict.”

Huh? How is saying he is praying for “the right verdict” and offering that the “evidence is overwhelming” not an example of weighing in on the verdict?

This has become a regular feature of press briefings, in which Psaki has to constantly pretend that Biden didn’t say what we all clearly heard him say.

This happened just yesterday on immigration.

Over the weekend, Biden described the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “crisis.”

He said regarding the plan for refugees, “We’re gonna increase the number. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people and we couldn’t do two things at once. And now we’re going to increase the numbers.”

Yet on Monday, Psaki told reporters, “The president does not feel that children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is a crisis.”

She claimed, “He does feel that the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from – that that is a situation we need to spend our time on, our effort on.”

Yet Biden clearly referred to “the crisis that ended up on the border” — not the crisis in Central America.

This is a pathetic attempt to rewrite history in real time, with everything on tape.

Politics & Policy

The Biden Family Plan

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The Biden-Harris administration appeals goes to court for a transgender mandate for doctors and hospitals.
President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, April 12, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Washington Post has some preliminary details, with the final plan due next week. It’s $1.5 trillion in spending and tax credits, paid for by hiking taxes on high earners. It includes an extension of the $3,000-to-$3,600 “child allowance” the Democrats enacted in their stimulus bill, plus money for paid leave, child care, pre-K, and free tuition at community colleges.

The overall level of taxing and spending is a problem. We’re coming off a very expensive year, we’re still going bankrupt, and any tax hikes we pass to fund new programs now are tax hikes we can’t pass to shore up the existing deficit later.

On the specifics, the child allowance is controversial here on the right, as I’ve documented previously. It’s paid to parents whether they work or not, and thus risks re-creating the welfare system before the 1996 reform. But it also supports families raising children, which many conservatives are open to. I suggested a more gradual and careful way of creating a child allowance in this piece.

Paid leave and subsidized child care, meanwhile, share some problems with each other. The taxes used to fund these programs will not be optional, but the programs will be valuable only to parents who structure their work and family lives in specific ways — and the government should not be bribing us to structure our lives in one way instead of another. You might not want extensive paid leave if you’re a workaholic who wants to get back to the job, for example, or if your spouse stays home. Similarly, you might not need pre-K or child care if you have a stay-at-home spouse, or if you have an informal arrangement with a family member to watch the child.

These are difficult questions for families, and different answers are right in different situations, depending on parents’ personalities, their values, their earnings, their child-care options, and so on. I’ve taken a tour through most of them myself: My mom stayed home, my wife and I both worked full-time for several years after we started having kids, and now I watch the kids but also work part-time. Parents should evaluate the tradeoffs for themselves, rather than responding to artificial incentives created by government policy.

We should be removing these distortions in government programs — some of which work in the opposite way, subsidizing stay-at-home parents at the expense of working parents — instead of adding more. And if we want child care to be more affordable, we can trim up some questionable regulations rather than showering subsidies on the industry and the parents who use it.

Politics & Policy

Tennessee House Passes Bill Requiring Burial or Cremation of Aborted Babies

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Pro-choice activists assemble in downtown Memphis, Tenn., May 21, 2019. (Karen Pulfer Focht/Reuters)

The Tennessee state house has passed a bill requiring that the fetal remains of aborted babies be buried or cremated after abortion. The Republican Party controls both the state house and state senate, and Tennessee’s GOP governor Bill Lee has historically been highly supportive of pro-life legislation, so it is likely that the bill will be enacted later this session.

If the law passes and is signed, Tennessee would become one of about a dozen states to have enacted or attempted to enact so-called fetal-remains laws. These policies mandate that abortion providers dispose of the bodies of aborted babies either by burial or cremation, offering mothers the chance to choose which they prefer.

If mothers wish to handle the process themselves, they are permitted to do so, but if they have no preference, the provider is responsible for choosing and carrying out the process. Tennessee’s law would not apply to hospitals, only to free-standing abortion clinics.

Pro-life supporters of these bills say that they are necessary to accord at least some respect an dignity to unborn babies who have been aborted. As Tennessee state representative Robin Smith put it in support of the legislation, “It’s not fetal tissue, it’s dismembered children.”

But opponents of the bill claim that it is an assault on abortion rights and harmful to women who have chosen abortion. State representative London Lamar, who voted against the bill, called it “offensive for women who actually have had to bury children” and denied that it qualifies as pro-life.

“What you are doing is further using your legislative powers to bring trauma on women who make that choice,” Lamar added.

In 2019, the Supreme Court upheld a similar fetal-remains law in Indiana, one of the first states to enact such a measure after evidence came to light that abortion organizations, including Planned Parenthood, had been profiting from selling the fetal body parts of aborted babies. Contrary to the arguments of abortion-advocacy organizations that sued Indiana over the policy, the Court determined that fetal-remains laws are not a restriction of abortion rights.

Abortion supporters oppose fetal-remains laws not because those laws pose any actual threat to the legality or accessibility of abortion, but because they highlight an inconvenient truth: that the product of an abortion is not a “clump of cells” or a nothing but a human being that was once alive.

Opponents of these laws are right to fear that such a policy would put a woman who has chosen abortion in the uncomfortable position of acknowledging the reality of what has occurred in the abortion procedure. That they are so adamant about preventing that acknowledgement reveals how much they rely on euphemism and smokescreens to pretend that abortion is something other than what it is, and that its aftermath is something other than horrible.

Politics & Policy

Debating Conservative Family Policy — Join Us Next Tuesday

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The family is a treasure. It’s where children learn about humanity. About love. About hope. We school children on career, but what about the family? A healthy conservative future is going to have to have the family as a priority. And so I’m grateful we’re going to have a debate about what that should look like in terms of paid family leave and tax credits next week — Tuesday at 2 p.m. (April 27) Eastern time.

Here’s the official write-up:

With the birthrate at a 35-year low, studies show that women want to have children, but simply can’t afford it. Conservatives are divided on how to help families, especially when it comes to child tax credits and earned income tax credits. This year, most households with children will receive $3,600 for each child under 6 years old and $3,000 for each older child. The Biden Administration and some Republicans in Congress want to make it permanent or have introduced their own versions of child allowance proposals.

Our panel of experts will take different sides of the issue –  Angela Rachidi and Scott Winship support freeing markets to help families, while Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert Stein support a greater expansion of tax credits that won’t add to the deficit. National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty will moderate the discussion.

I’ll be introducing it as an initiative of the National Review Institute’s Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society.

Sign up here.

World

Pub Owner Throws Lockdown Leader Out

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Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer leaves BBC headquarters in London, England, January 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Reuters)

The U.K. is finally emerging from a brutal coronavirus lockdown, with over 90 percent of the 70+ population vaccinated with at least one dose. After the country had one of the worst winter outbreaks in the world, deaths there have dropped from over 1,000 per day in February to about 25 per day now.

Outdoor seating for pubs finally reopened this month, but so much of society is still restricted that one pub owner decided to speak out when opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer showed up on Monday.

Rod Humphris, landlord of The Raven in Bath, first clashed with Starmer outside the pub. He reportedly accused him of supporting the lockdown that had him down for months, as well as having children wear masks.

The landlord waved a graph at Starmer: “Do you know what the average age of death with COVID is? According to the Office for National Statistics it’s 82 years and three months. The average age of death normally? Eighty one years.”

As Starmer gaped, Humphris concluded:

“You have failed me. I have been a Labor voter my entire life. . . . You have failed to ask whether lockdown was functioning. Do you understand? Thousands of people have died because you have failed to do your job and ask the real questions.”

Starmer replied that hospitals had been “completely overwhelmed” with cases, adding: “They have been on the front line keeping people alive, so I really don’t need lectures from you about this pandemic. Thank you. Shall we go in?” At that point, Starmer entered the pub with his security detail.

Humphris was furious. “He walked into my pub without asking and I threw him out. Or at least, I did my best to throw him out — his security got in the way.” Starmer finally left as his security guards manhandled the pub owner.

But Humphris isn’t finished trashing the politician, telling the Daily Mail: “He has completely failed to ask the questions that needed asking, like, why did we throw away our previous pandemic preparedness? Why have we just accepted lockdown? Why have we just accepted the loss of all our freedoms?”

Sounds like Rod Humphris is better informed on issues than most of the so-called “experts” backing the lockdown. He certainly has the courage of his convictions.

World

China Launches App to Report ‘Mistaken Opinion’

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(ViewApart/Getty Images)

China is busy erecting what may become the most efficient and effective despotism in history, using modern technology as the means toward the end of imposing total obedience and conformity among the Chinese people.

Heretofore, the social-credit system has been a prime example of this approach, in which citizens may be punished with job loss or higher rent for engaging in activities the Chinse Communist Party deems unacceptable — such as going to church or conversing with a low-credit-scored neighbor.

Now, the government has created a new app with which people can report on each other’s “mistaken” opinions. From the Daily Mail story:

China has launched a new app that will allow citizens to report others who criticize the ruling Chinese Communist Party or question its account of history online.

Released by China’s cyber regulator, along with a similar hotline, the app aims to crack down on ‘historical nihilists’ ahead of the Party’s 100th anniversary in July, the regulator said in a statement on Friday.

An arm of Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said the app and hotline will allow and encourage netizens to report fellow internet users who spread ‘mistaken opinions’ online in order to create a ‘good public opinion atmosphere’…

‘Historical nihilism’ is a phrase used in China to describe public doubt and skepticism over the Chinese Communist Party’s description of past events.

As in, you can’t trust anyone anymore! As in, you had better think what we tell you to think! As in, you can express opinions that we tell you to express! As in, keep all of your skepticism or disagreements to yourselves — or else!

Of course, there is no danger that the U.S. government will engage in such high-tech despotism. But why do I get the queasy feeling that Silicon Valley and Social-Media Moguls are licking their lips in envy?

Rediscovering Party Factions

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The U.S. Capitol during a morning rainstorm on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 25, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

When Republicans talk about the future of their party these days, they tend to talk in terms of what will happen more than what they will do. That’s even true of many Republicans elected officials. Everyone is inclined to think like an observer, more than an agent of action.

That has a lot to do with Donald Trump, of course. Republican politicos have had to constantly respond to Trump since 2015, and have seen their voters captivated by him to a degree many of them still can’t quite explain, but few have really felt like part of his team. That has

Health Care

The Humbling of Gretchen Whitmer

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media in Midland, Mich., about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, May 20, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer traveled out-of-state to visit her sick father sometime between one and seven months ago according to Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the governor. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that Michiganders “delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

Whitmer was not vaccinated until April 6, so she would have been required to self-quarantine for a week after her trip. Another staffer, Bobby Leddy, has insisted that the governor followed all relevant public-health guidelines leading up to and after her trip. Whitmer previously stated that her father lives in Florida, but her office has not confirmed where she traveled to see him, citing security concerns. While Whitmer flouted best practices advocated by her administration, restrictions allowing no more than 25 attendees at funeral services in the state — regardless of building capacity — remained in place.

This is not the first time Whitmer and those closest to her have struggled to follow state law and guidelines. Whitmer’s husband tried to strong-arm a dock worker into putting his boat in the water before last Memorial Day weekend, and just last week it was revealed that her DHHS director vacationed in Alabama earlier this month.

An early-pandemic media darling who was considered a frontrunner to join Joe Biden on the Democratic presidential ticket, Whitmer has been harshly critical of other state executives, arguing that they “haven’t done enough” and have been responsible for “people dying on their watch.” Michigan is right now first in the country in COVID cases per capita over the last seven days. Whitmer has blamed the Michigan’s struggles on the loss of emergency powers she wielded this time last year, powers she used to stop residents from traveling between their own homes or purchasing seeds for home-gardening purposes.

Whitmer’s decision to visit her father is one no reasonable person would judge her for in a vacuum, but perhaps this experience will teach the governor to approach her job with a new sense of humility and compassion.

Immigration

George W. Bush’s Blind Spots on Immigration

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They’re the subject of my Bloomberg Opinion column.

Former President George W. Bush has a new book of portraits of immigrants. Writing about the book for the Washington Post, he said his main goal was to tell immigrants’ stories and “humanize” the debate, not to lay out a specific agenda for immigration policy. But he also wanted to share some “principles for reform.”

They are familiar principles: They’re largely the same ones that underlay two legislative efforts when he was president, and another attempt when Barack Obama was. After all these years, maybe it is time to learn from these failures rather than going down the same road again. . . .

Politics & Policy

Lin Wood Wants to Be the Next South Carolina GOP Chairman

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Attorney L. Lin Wood speaks during a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Ga., December 2, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Lin Wood, the demagogic lawyer who donated to Democrats for years, accused Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts of pedophilia, claimed Georgia governor Brian Kemp stole money and gave it to China, and insisted Donald Trump won the 2020 election with more than 70 percent of the vote wants to be the next chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.

He faces quite a few challenges in this endeavor, as the current chairman, Drew McKissick, is coming off a terrific 2020 election cycle and already has Donald Trump’s endorsement, as well as the endorsement of governor Henry McMaster. Meanwhile, Wood told the Associated Press he become a South Carolina resident on February 1.

And it seems particularly odd to run for state-party chairman just a few months after moving to a state, and then skip South Carolina GOP events to appear at ones in Oklahoma:

Despite making a rambunctious appearance at the Charleston County GOP meeting on April 12 to campaign, he did not appear at the statewide convention this weekend.

Maurice Washington, chairman of the Charleston County GOP, said Wood was traveling out of state. The pro-Trump attorney appeared in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend at the conservative Health and Freedom Conference, where he continued to push conspiracy theories about the election.

At that Oklahoma conference, Wood told the audience, “Donald J. Trump is still the president of the United States of America. He is your president,” and claimed, without any evidence, that the Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Biden families are involved in child sex trafficking. He urged the audience to “study about the Illuminati,” questioned whether the Pope “is still alive,” and contended that conspiracies were secretly engaged in child cannibalism.

Wood is also suing the Georgia state bar, alleging that by “asking him to submit to a mental-health examination, the members of the Georgia state bar’s disciplinary board are violating his free speech rights.”

The chairman of the South Carolina state GOP will be selected by the delegates at next month’s state convention.

Law & the Courts

Court-Packing Debate Today

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(Matt Anderson/Getty Images)

I will be participating at noon (Eastern time) today in a Zoom debate with Michael Klarman of Harvard Law School, hosted by the Federalist Society of Harvard Law, on “Breaking the Court or Saving Democracy? A Debate on Court-Packing.” You can register here.

Culture

Planned Parenthood Won’t Confront Its Own Dehumanization of the Unborn

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This morning, I took the above picture of Margaret Sanger Square outside Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. Over the weekend, Alexis McGill Johnson, wrote an op-ed “We’re Done Making Excuses for Our Founder.”  (As Alexandra DeSanctis writes about here.) But she missed the full need to reckon with Sanger. Yes, racist eugenics. She wrote about “the many types of dehumanization we are seeing right now.” She named Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, Breanna Taylor, and George Floyd. She can’t name the unborn, developing children who were killed by Planned Parenthood today, last week, all throughout the pandemic. When I pray or sidewalk counsel at or across the street from Margaret Sanger Square, I am overwhelmed by how many of the girls are black and under 18. I’m only seeing a bit of it, and not all of the girls and women are going in for abortions, but we have seen stats in recent years that in certain areas of the city, there are more black abortions than births.

The girls I’ve encountered who are going in for abortions — or the cruel abortion pills — are scared, they are not exercising “autonomy,” it is not a choice. They are being pressured and don’t think they have any other option. One gal last week wound up coming out before the abortion after her boyfriend encouraged her to, having talked with a pro-life sidewalk counselor. She left that day, but it would take a miracle for her to go through with the pregnancy, as she explained the fear she had because of her mother. These are just a few windows into what I would not be the first to call a black genocide. Black unborn lives do not matter at Planned Parenthood when an abortion is being recommended or provided. “Black Lives Matter” should extend to making sure black women and girls are really making a choice and know what their options are.

It’s evil the lie we are teaching. If Planned Parenthood really wants to reckon with dehumanization, they would consider what being an abortion business means for the hearts, minds, and souls of the people who work there, the people who go in and out of its doors, and the politicians and culture on which they have a stranglehold. We’re a sick society. And a violent one! Every time I see the violence in our streets, I think of the most intimate violence of abortion. If we’re willing to do that, what wouldn’t we be willing to do?

Planned Parenthood doesn’t have “a chance to heal those harms” until it confront the poison that is abortion. Instead, McGill Johnson tells us that: “Achieving health equity requires fighting the systematic racism that creates barriers to sexual and reproductive health care. The pandemic has laid bare racial disparities in health care that we also see in who is most affected by increased abortion restrictions and in skyrocketing sexually transmitted disease rates.”

A few weeks ago, I saw two beautiful black girls go into Planned Parenthood for birth control. I’ll wager they have no idea just how beautiful they are. With Planned Parenthood, they get tips on how to have sex, they are getting “care” from an organization whose values devalue their lives and dehumanize the unborn. And them, too. I hate to sound like Sister Mary Kathryn at the high-school prom telling a couple dancing to make room for the Holy Spirit, but how about telling these young girls they are worth waiting for? What about telling them about the damage they are doing to their fertility — that some day if they actually want to have a baby, they might not be able to because of what Planned Parenthood provided?

Last Friday morning outside Planned Parenthood, underneath the Margaret Sanger Square street sign, a black woman in her sixties stopped me. She wanted to see the brochure I had in my hand from the Sisters of Life. She thanked me — something that is rare on New York City streets. She said that when she was younger she was pro-choice, because she believed everything that she was told about abortion. But then she read Bernard Nathanson’s biography (he was the abortion doctor who helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) and realized how bad it is for women, babies, and us all. While she talked to me about the regrets she’s seen women face after abortion, a white man crossing the street hollered obscenities at me, telling me I needed to stand on the other side. Actually, no, my pro-life views don’t keep me from standing under the Margaret Sanger Square street sign to offer help — amazingly, we don’t have a buffer zone in New York yet. The woman told me of the ache in her heart for the pressure young girls and women have to abort their babies. I pray the men in their lives can do more than shout down help when a life is in danger.

Whenever I stand outside a clinic, I want to weep in penance for the ways we — people who know women and girls deserve better, and men, too — have failed them. I have little confidence that Catholic-school-educated children even know that there is another way to live that does not require birth control at a young age and abortion. The president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood has access to the truth about abortion, but some of the girls walking in don’t know what they are getting into.

As McGill Johnson pointed out in the New York Times this weekend, the name of the clinic at Margaret Sanger Square was changed to remove Sanger’s name. But the city keeping the sign seems somewhat appropriate to me — because Planned Parenthood isn’t confronting the fullness of the evil roots and legacy of Planned Parenthood. As long as abortion remains at the heart of Planned Parenthood, the dehumanization continues. I’m reminded of that every time I see the hazardous waste trucks leave Planned Parenthood with boxes (six to twelve of them, it seems, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).

Culture

Sixteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: ISIS Attacks Coptic Christians Again, the NIH and Abortion Babies & More

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1. Daily Mail: ISIS executes Coptic in Egypt ‘as a warning to Christians’

Nabil Habashi Salama, 62, a member of Egypt‘s minority Coptic Orthodox Church, was shown being shot in the back of the head in a video released Saturday. 

In the footage, a militant with his face blurred, an AK-47 slung across his chest and index finger raised to the sky, warns the ‘Christians of Egypt’ that ‘this is the price you pay for supporting the Egyptian army.’

2. 

3. Biden administration to allow research on fetal tissue of aborted babies

Continue reading “Sixteen Things That Caught My Eye Today: ISIS Attacks Coptic Christians Again, the NIH and Abortion Babies & More”

Media

Quotations, How Do They Work?

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Salon is a stupid publication intended for stupid readers, but I expect that even Heather Digby Parton must at some level know how quotation marks work. The words she attributes to me here as a quotation are a fabrication, as consulting the column in question will make clear.

Religion

An Addendum to David French’s Latest

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A gate to the Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., March 10, 2020 (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

David French of The Dispatch tweeted the following on Saturday:

He followed it up on Sunday with a column asking a question:

Does the primary threat to the church come from within the church or without? Put differently, does the church stumble and fall primarily because of the sins of the church or because of the cultural and political headwinds directed against the church?

French persuasively submits that it is the former — all Christians should read and take account of his argument, which is, broadly speaking, right. However, I do have a couple of small quibbles with these formulations.

First, I have no doubt that some churches have problems with extremism and/or a myopic, overly political focus on left-leaning cultural institutions. With that being said, it’s more than understandable that conservative Christians do concern themselves with the intolerance of Harvard University considering its graduates’ and faculty’s disproportionate cultural and policy-making roles. It’d be one thing if that intolerance were confined to a campus in Cambridge, Mass., but that’s just a spawn point. From there, it flows directly downstream into places such as the New York Times and the White House.

That leads me to quibble No. 2, which is with the dichotomy created by the question. Must Christians choose between self-improvement and ensuring that their religious rights are protected — and their values represented — in the political sphere? I don’t think so, even if French is right to suggest that the focus is presently out of whack.

Christians should worry more about the health of their own communities, but they’d also be naïve to ignore the threat posed by growing intolerance at elite institutions such as Harvard, where I can assure you no self-reflective exercise is forthcoming.

Health Care

New York State Did Worst in Pandemic, Study Says

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Governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) speaks at a vaccination site in New York, March 8, 2021. (Seth Wenig/Reuters)

States tried to balance the risks of economic disruption with safety concerns, but you don’t often see surveys that try to assess how states did by both measures. A new study, however, concludes that when you plot the two metrics, there’s one state that clearly performed worst. The consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies contends that “New York had the worst overall outcome, with both high excess deaths and high job losses.” Idaho, Utah, and West Virginia scored highest when you combine the two measures.

New York instituted severe lockdowns and suffered catastrophic loss of life anyway. Its unemployment spiked higher than any other state’s — except tourism-dependent Hawaii — and its excess deaths over the past year were significantly exceeded only by Mississippi. Charting these two factors on a graph, HPS makes it clear that New York has been a woeful outlier for worst state to be in during the pandemic.

Media

CNN ‘Senior Legal Analyst’ Can’t Believe Chauvin Defense Wants to Define ‘Reasonable Doubt’

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his defense attorney Eric Nelson rise to greet jury members in Minneapolis, Minn., April 13, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

CNN “Senior Legal Analyst” Laura Coates took to Twitter Monday to express shock at the fact that Eric Nelson, the defense attorney for former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, would begin his closing argument in the George Floyd murder trial by “defining reasonable doubt.”

Her take drew condemnation from the left, right, and center on Twitter.

Despite her title, it’s unclear if Coates — who served in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Bush and Obama years, per her website — actually understands the point of defense attorneys, not to mention the legal principle of “presumption of innocence.”

Think about that!

Politics & Policy

First One Hundred Days Coverage: 89 Percent Anti-Trump, 59 Percent Pro-Biden

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan at the White House, April 14, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)

The Media Research Center is one of the few outfits that attempts to measure media bias in empirical terms, and its evaluation of TV news coverage of the first 100 days of the last two presidential administrations is telling, albeit not surprising.

The MRC, looking at ABC, CBS, and NBC News, finds that there is both much less coverage of President Joe Biden than there was of President Donald Trump in each’s first 100 days, and that the tone of the coverage has flipped almost 180 degrees. Trump earned 1,900 minutes of coverage in his first 100 days, and almost all of the coverage that consisted of “evaluative comments” was negative — 89 percent. By contrast, Biden has drawn only 700 minutes of coverage, and the editorializing was 59 percent positive. “These much lower numbers signify a news media that’s not trying to drown out the White House with its own aggressive criticism, as was their standard practice in 2017,” MRC noted.

Guess how much time the networks spent discussing the breathtaking levels of debt we are taking on, to such a degree that the deficit for the last six months reached $1.7 trillion and we just ran a monthly deficit, in March, of $660 billion? According to MRC, the answer is: 29 seconds.

Politics & Policy

Location, Location, Location

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Newly-constructed single family homes for sale in Encinitas, Calif., July 31, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Overly restrictive housing regulations hinder the economy — maybe a lot — by reducing both geographic and social mobility. So I am sympathetic to Richard Kahlenberg’s op-ed in the New York Times urging progressives to make it a priority to relax these regulations.

What I don’t understand is the political economy of his proposal for the Biden administration to force or cajole localities to loosen up. The problem largely originates with extremely progressive localities, such as those in the Bay Area. If progressives in such places could be persuaded to support liberalization, no federal action would be needed. If they can’t, then how is it possible to create a progressive-led national coalition with enough strength to foist liberalization on them?

Film & TV

Morrissey vs. The Simpsons

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Morrissey performs during the International Song Festival in Vina del Mar, Chile, in 2012. (Eliseo Fernandez/Reuters)

Last night, The Simpsons poked fun at a depressed Britpop singer for the band “The Snuffs,” and with his sideburns and pompadour, the singer, Quilloughby (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) looked a lot like Morrissey, frontman for the Smiths. Morrissey was apparently enthusiastic about being spoofed on the episode before it aired, even promoting it on his Facebook page, but now claims via a manager that the spoof was “unapologetically racist.” I advise The Simpsons to issue a three-word statement in reply: “Eat my shorts.”

As an actual Smith, I would like to disassociate myself from Morrissey’s grumbling, attributed to his manager Peter Katsis and published in a lengthy Facebook post that calls the episode “hurtful” and “an insult.” After Lisa Simpson becomes a Snuffs fan because she likes its “militant vegetarianism,” the ’80s-’90s version of its singer Quilloughby becomes her imaginary friend. A pastiche Smiths song (which sounded a bit like Morrissey’s 1988 solo effort “Every Day Is Like Sunday,” from the album Viva Hate) was in the spirit of Flight of the Conchords and its music was by Conchordian Bret McKenzie:

Later on, the satire gets a lot more pointed. The episode shows the real Quilloughby at a music festival, and writer Tim Long plays on Morrissey’s Brexit support and occasional broadsides at immigrants to portray him as a lout who would have embarrassed the younger version of himself (“That’s right, I hate the foreign! Coming to this country and taking our jobs! Sleeping with our men!” he says, promoting an album called Refugees? Again?). The younger, imaginary Quilloughby observes with disgust, “Is this what I turned into? I’m greedy, I’m hateful, and my face looks like a syphilitic moon!” Also, the real Quilloughby has a Homer Simpson-sized beer gut and is a hypocrite about meat who not only munches a pastrami sandwich on stage but fires a sausage gun at the audience.

All very rude, but typical Simpsons satire, and hardly racist. The same episode mocks the mindset of rioters, who scream, “Misplaced anger! Misplaced anger!”

Health Care

The Good News on COVID-19

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A medical worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in Chicago, Ill., April 6, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Why does COVID-19 frighten us, and why did it represent such a serious and nearly-unprecedented threat in the early months of 2020?

  1. It could kill you!
  2. It could put you in the hospital, along with a lot of other people, and overwhelm the capacity of our medical systems, so that anyone with any ailment has trouble getting treated!
  3. You could end up as a long hauler, and dealing with mild-to-serious health problems and complications long after your initial infection.

Once you move beyond those particularly dire outcomes, COVID-19 really is comparable to the flu. Getting the flu stinks. Sometimes it’s really bad, and you’re sick in bed for a week. Sometimes it’s not that bad. And sometimes with influenza, you’re asymptomatic. But it rarely gives you a long-term health problem, and we don’t live in overwhelming fear of catching the flu, and we don’t shut down society each winter because of it.

And we’ve got good news on all of these fronts.

The death rate in the U.S. declined steeply in February and March, and has mostly plateaued in April – although yesterday’s seven-day moving average of 738 deaths is the lowest since mid-October.  We’ve got most of the elderly and immunocompromised vaccinated.

In terms of hospital capacity, we’re well past the danger zone in most parts of the country. In the week ending April 8, an average of 70 percent of intensive care hospital beds were occupied nationwide, according to a dataset released weekly by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Finally, I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush, but some of the “long haulers” say that vaccination has helped their symptoms.

A Facebook group called “Survivor Corps” polled 962 COVID-19 long haulers and found 39 percent said they saw mild to full resolution of their lingering symptoms after they were vaccinated.

46 percent of people said they remained the same after their shot, 14 percent said they felt worse.

A virus that isn’t as likely to kill people, isn’t going to put them in the hospital, and that gives someone long-term health issues that can be mitigated or cured is a much milder threat — and we should be able to live our lives much closer to “normal” as these worst-case-scenarios become less and less common, thanks to vaccinations.

 

Regulatory Policy

Central Banks and Climate Change

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If you happen to have missed Andrew Stuttaford’s “Capital Letter” on the ECB and climate risk, do yourself a favor and read it now.

Immigration

The President’s View Is Inseparable from His Administration’s View

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President Joe Biden speaks about the mass shooting in Colorado from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 23, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

CNN reports that Joe Biden called the situation on the border a “crisis,” but that we shouldn’t pay any attention to his having done so:

The President’s use of the “crisis” label doesn’t represent the administration’s official position, the White House said Monday in regard to a term that top administration officials have refused to say as the numbers of migrants surged.

Sorry, but . . . what? Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He is the head of the executive branch. The “Biden administration” is named for him. How can it possibly be the case that the president’s use of a label “doesn’t represent the administration’s official position”?

As far as I can see, there are only two possibilities here. The first is that Biden is not setting administration policy. In which case, one must ask, “Who is?” The second is that Biden is not sure what his own view is. In which case, we have a problem. It is notable that at no point in CNN’s piece is Biden quoted correcting himself. Instead, Jen Psaki and an unnamed “White House official” provide an explanation that simply cannot be reconciled with what Biden initially said.

I am not someone who is interested in prosecuting gaffes. Politicians are busy people who travel a lot, and, from time to time, they are going to mess up. Critics threw the “57 states” line at Barack Obama for years, but, in truth, it didn’t matter in the slightest. Barack Obama knew how many states there are. He just misspoke. We all do. So what? To be told by the White House that the president’s words do not represent the position of the administration, though — that is something else entirely.

Media

Another Look at the Horror of the Porn Industry

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Outside the New York Times building in Manhattan, August 3, 2020 (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Late last year, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a compelling exposé called “The Children of Pornhub,” sharing the horrifying stories of children who had videos of their experiences of sexual abuse uploaded to the popular Internet-pornography site Pornhub.

Last week, Kristof published a second installment on this grim subject, this time criticizing XVideos, the world’s most-visited pornography site, which likewise hosts videos of the rape and sexual abuse of minors. Kristof points out, too, that Google’s search engines help direct people to this content, though such footage is illegal. Here’s more from Kristof’s report:

Women and girls, and men and boys, are sexually assaulted or secretly filmed, and then video is posted on a major website like XVideos that draws traffic through search engines. While the initial video assault may be brief, the attack on dignity becomes interminable. . . .

I wrote in December about Pornhub, a Montreal-based website that pioneered access to free porn uploaded by anyone — so-called tube sites that are like YouTube for nudity and sex. Since that article, credit card companies have stopped working with Pornhub, the site has removed more than nine million videos, and the Canadian and United States governments have been cracking down on the company’s practices.

But as I noted at the time, the exploitation is rooted not in a single company but in an industry that operates with impunity, and punishing one corporation may simply benefit its rivals. That’s happening here. When Pornhub deleted videos, millions of outraged customers fled to its nemesis, XVideos, which has even fewer scruples.

After Kristof’s initial article on this subject, Pornhub faced intense public criticism, including from federal lawmakers, who introduced a bipartisan bill to require Internet-pornography sites to obtain the consent of all parties in explicit footage before allowing users to upload videos.

At the same time, Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), one of the bill’s sponsors, reiterated his previous calls for a federal criminal investigation of Pornhub, and its parent company MindGeek, for continuously allowing this abusive and illegal content to appear on its site.

In response to the public backlash against its practices, Pornhub initially denied responsibility for the child sexual-abuse content, calling the assertion that such content appeared on its site “irresponsible and flagrantly untrue.” At the same time, a spokesperson for the company asserted that every single video uploaded to the site is reviewed by human moderators, though he also admitted that some amount of this illegal content had in fact made its way onto the site.

After major credit-card companies announced that they would no longer permit users to pay for Pornhub using their credit cards, Pornhub changed its tune, rolling out a new policy that permitted only “properly identified” users to upload videos and disallowing any downloads, an effort to prevent individual users from preserving illegal content even after it has been removed for violating the law.

Kristof’s latest reporting on this topic, this time targeted at an even more popular site, is well worth reading in full, but be forewarned: The subject matter is gruesome, and the stories he shares are heartbreaking. One young woman, Heather Legarde of Alberta, Canada, who agreed to put her name to her story for the piece, told Kristof: “How do you get your head around 200,000 guys masturbating as you’re being assaulted?”

Her story is just one example of a reality we prefer to ignore, because to address it would require taking a real look at the costs of an essentially unregulated porn industry. Perhaps her story, and the others Kristof shares will be the occasion for another small reckoning, this time for an even larger pornography site and maybe even for Google, which appears to have no scruples about facilitating users in their search for illegal content featuring the abuse of minors.

Though Kristof insists at the beginning of his article that “this isn’t about pornography, but about rape and sexual abuse,” the reality is that the two are far more entangled than most people know or are willing to acknowledge. Far from providing a form of harmless entertainment, the porn-production and -distribution industry is guilty of rampant abuse, violations of the law, systemic mistreatment of women, and abundant ties to the sex-trafficking industry. We are long overdue for a cultural reckoning with all of it.

Economics

Fun with Corporate-Tax Numbers

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The Biden administration wants to hike the corporate income-tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent — and claims the higher tax would still be low in international context. Kyle Pomerleau and Donald Schneider have a detailed explanation as to why the administration’s numbers are misleading:

The administration claims that the U.S. collects a relatively low amount of corporate tax revenue as a percent of GDP. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act [TCJA], the U.S. will collect the lowest share of corporate tax revenue as a percent of GDP of 1.3% in 2018-2022. This is well below the average among other OECD countries of 2.7% (2.5% weighted by GDP). The Biden proposal will increase corporate tax collections to 1.8% of GDP.

This statistic, however, is a misleading measure of the tax burden on corporations. Corporate tax collections do not depend just on corporate tax policy. Some countries may collect a low share of GDP in corporate tax revenue due to having a small corporate sector relative to total GDP.

Basically, each country has a different mix of business types. The U.S. has a relatively small corporate sector and a relatively large non-corporate “pass-through” sector. (Pass-throughs are taxed on their owners’ individual returns, rather than through the corporate tax.) Pass-throughs are about 90 percent of U.S. businesses and account for half our net business income.

Pomerleau and Schneider adjust the data to account for this problem and two other, more technical ones (differences across countries in the labor share of corporate output, which isn’t subject to corporate tax, and depreciation). The upshot: “Once each of these issues is adjusted for, the U.S.’ tax burden on C corporations prior to the TCJA was higher than the OECD average, and the TCJA brought the burden to around the OECD average.”

Another Dismal Sunday-Show Circuit for Dr. Fauci

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Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a Senate committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Reuters)

Dr. Anthony Fauci turned in yet another dismal Sunday-show performance yesterday. Dismal not just because he was ill-prepared, illogical, and unfocused, but also because he is actively undermining the country’s number one public-health objective, which is to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible.

Chief among Fauci’s flaws is his penchant for relying upon half-truths instead of hard data to support his prescriptions. Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd if Fauci has disincentivized vaccination by insisting that the inoculated continue to isolate themselves, Fauci responded like this:

Okay. This is something that as we get more information it’s going to

Science & Tech

New York to Stop Funding Embryonic-Stem-Cell Research

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Oh, the screaming we heard about embryonic stem cells during the George W. Bush presidency. Those who opposed wide-open federal funding were branded “anti-science,” and delusional for claiming that adult stem cells offered the better promise of treatments. The media pushed the tripe that people who supported Bush’s very modest funding restrictions didn’t want people healed of terrible diseases. It was a time of hysteria and demagoguery that did not permit reasoned debate.

It was also a time of political advantage-taking. California voters foolishly passed a $3 billion bond measure — since renewed — in which the broke state borrowed money to throw money at human cloning and embryonic-stem-cell research (ESCR). New York began funding such studies in 2007.

But guess what? ESCR has not led to CURES! CURES! CURES! as the hype had it. Indeed, after all these years, there have been very few clinical trials using embryonic products — and no FDA approved therapy of which I am aware.

In contrast, adult-stem-cell research is thriving and induced pluripotent stem cells — that is, stem cells made from skin — are bringing great benefit to science and medicine in just the way President Bush predicted.

Now, New York is pulling the plug on ESCR funding. From the Science story:

The cancellation of the New York State Stem Cell Science program (NYSTEM) is contained in a budget for 2022, which the state Legislature approved last week and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed. The spending plan, which takes effect 1 May, halts funding for new grants, but honors existing contracts until they expire. A spokesperson for the state Division of the Budget, which has allocated the program’s funds for the Department of Health, told Science that stem cell research should “advance within academic and private research communities rather than the Department of Health, which is focused on its core mission of delivering direct services and achieving positive health outcomes for all New Yorkers.”

Well, waddya know about that. The “anti-science” crowd had the better argument all along.

Politics & Policy

The Case for Black Patriotism

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(Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

Watching the progressive culture push black Americans to hate their country and dismiss its highest ideals has been a demoralizing experience, but there is some welcome pushback from Brown University’s Glenn Loury at City Journal. Loury picks up on the rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. to urge blacks to savor the rights supplied by the Founders, not forgetting that America has not always lived up to its promises. Loury writes:

A case can be made that the correct narrative to adopt today is one of unabashed black patriotism—a forthright embrace of American nationalism by black people. Black Americans’ birthright citizenship in what is arguably history’s greatest republic is an inheritance of immense value. My answer for black Americans to Frederick Douglass’s famous question—“Whose Fourth of July?”—is, “Ours!”

Yes, it took far too long for black Americans to receive their due. Loury adds:

It shouldn’t have taken 100 years; they shouldn’t have been slaves in the first place. True enough. But slavery had been a commonplace human experience since antiquity. Emancipation—the freeing of slaves en masse, the movement for abolition—that was a new idea. A Western idea. The fruit of Enlightenment. An idea that was brought to fruition over a century and a half ago here, in the United States of America, liberating millions of people and creating the world we now inhabit. . . . To those, like the influential writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who dismiss the American dream as irrelevant to blacks or worse, I would ask, “Have you noticed what has happened here in the United States in the last century?”

Read the whole thing at City Journal.

Immigration

Biden Admin Ends Use of ‘Assimilation,’ Makes Same Mistake as the Europeans

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Migrants cross a river next to an construction crew working on a section of the new U.S.-Mexico wall between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 5, 2019. (Jose Luis Gonzalezz/Reuters)

According to the Washington Post:

The Left’s long-time aversion to the innocuous, accurate, legal term “illegal alien” — “alien” meaning belonging to a foreign nation and “illegal” meaning contrary to or forbidden by law — is part of a transparent effort to destigmatize a criminal act. But transforming the notion of “assimilation” into something undesirable is a dangerous attack on one of the most vital ingredients of American success.

Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tae Johnson, who, incidentally, has a crisis at the border on his hands, writes that “ICE will ensure agency communications use the preferred terminology and inclusive language.”

Europeans are learning the hard way what happens when you do not have any genuine expectations of assimilation. American cultural and political life has, for the most part, offered the space to honor the past, while making demands in the present. Despite sloganeering about “diversity,” it is not alone what makes us stronger — though it is the flavor that enhances our personal and cultural lives. It is the ability to convince disparate people and cultures to adopt American norms and surrender many of their own. It could not happen without a unifying ideology, a shared understanding of civic life, a shared language, a hierarchy of societal values, respect for law and order and liberalism, and acceptance of a meritocratic society and social contracts. All these foundational ideals are being corroded right now.

To integrate is to combine. To assimilate is to absorb. And if there were no difference between the meanings of those words, the Biden administration would not be sending out memos about which one to use.

Politics & Policy

These Guys Work Hard to Get These Jobs, and Then Just Leave

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Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) leads a tour of school children in Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington October 15, 2013. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio can live his life as he wishes. But it’s a little irritating to watch a six-term congressman announce he will resign his seat May 16 to take a job running Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce, just six months after he campaigned for a full two-year term.

Stivers announced he will resign May 16, and while it’s not set, Ohio may schedule the special elections for his district to align with the ones for the empty seat in the district of Marcia Fudge, who resigned her seat to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – a primary August 3, and a general election November 2.

There have been a lot of vacancies in the House this cycle. Among Democrats, in addition to Fudge, Cedric Richmond of Louisiana resigned his seat to work in the White House, Deb Haaland of New Mexico resigned to become Secretary of the Interior, and Alcee Hastings of Florida passed away on April 6.

Among Republicans, election lawsuits prevented Claudia Tenney of New York from taking her oath of office until February 11, congressman-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana passed away from COVID-19 before taking office, and Ron Wright of Texas passed away from COVID-19 on February 7. And now Stivers will depart, next month.

Music

Have Gunn, Will Travel

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Three forces in American music, gathered in Los Angeles on April 19, 1994: John Williams (left), Henry Mancini (center), and Quincy Jones (right) (Fred Prouser / Reuters)

Great TV theme music — a great subject. I have written a piece on the subject, with the help of readers: here. A while back, I asked readers to tell me about their favorite themes. I had written about “The Streetbeater,” the Quincy Jones piece that introduces Sanford and Son. Also Danny Elfman’s music for The Simpsons.

Let me quote from my piece today: “Many people” — i.e., many readers — “wrote quite personally. TV is a personal thing, and so is music.”

A question: What makes a great TV theme, or a good one? My answer (in part):

Good music, for one thing — music for its own sake. Yet a TV theme should sell the show, too: It should set the mood, or establish the tone. There is an old line — an old truth — about advertising: An ad can be wonderfully funny, touching, or brilliant — but if you can’t remember the product afterward, the ad is no good.

You may think the Love Boat theme is cheesy — but so is the show, and the theme song harmonizes with the show perfectly. Plus, we can still remember it — many of us can — years later. That’s success, baby.

Talk about success: Vic Mizzy wrote four notes, followed by two snaps, for The Addams Family. This music is almost as recognizable as “Happy Birthday.” Marius Constant wrote four notes — repeated — used for The Twilight Zone. Universally known, almost.

In my piece, I write, “Can you imagine having written four notes that virtually the whole world knows? I can see Beethoven — thinking of his Fifth Symphony — nodding yes.”

Constant was classically trained, by Messiaen and Honegger, among others. So was Dimitri Tiomkin, by Glazunov, for one. Tiomkin was a Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union who helped create the sound of the American West: through such themes as his Rawhide song. What a country, what a world.

About Glazunov, I wanted to make a point, here on the Corner — a personal-ish point. Sometimes people ask me what the “theme” music of my Q&A podcast is. It comes from the last movement of Glazunov’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 55, “Heroic.”

Readers “nominated” many TV themes over and over — those to Barney Miller, The Rockford Files, Taxi, Hawaii Five-0, etc., etc. A great many people mentioned the theme to Peter Gunn, written by Henry Mancini. I have to confess something to you: Not only had I never heard the music, I had never heard of the show — which ran from 1958 to 1961. Peter Gunn was a private eye, very, very cool.

I mentioned this to a professor friend of mine — an elegant lady — who I bet hasn’t watched television in 45 years. She sang the theme music immediately, with an appropriately jamming attitude.

Personally, I have lots of favorites — but nothing topping “The Streetbeater,” for Fred G. Sanford, or Danny Elfman’s stroke of Simpsons genius. Again, for my piece today, go here.

Politics & Policy

What Planned Parenthood Is Telling Us

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Margaret Sanger in 1925 (Getty Images)

Its president is literally saying that it is more pro-abortion than it is pro-women. Seriously, read the op-ed.

Law & the Courts

Chauvin Murder Trial: Everything You Need to Know

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin waives his right to testify to the jury, next to his defense attorney Eric Nelson in Minneapolis, Minn., April 15, 2021, in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

With closing arguments scheduled to begin Monday morning, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in the death of George Floyd could begin deliberating on the case as early as this afternoon, following instructions on the law by Judge Peter Cahill. NR’s Andy McCarthy has been covering the case for the last few weeks, from the complications of charging murder in a case where police are alleged to have unintentionally killed a detainee, to the pretrial motions and challenge of seating a fair jury in such a politically fraught case, through the opening statements and the trial testimony, and examining how the jury might decide the three charges against the former Minneapolis cop.

We’ve gathered up Andy’s posts since jury selection began in March, and are providing them below (the most recent on top), as a one-stop shop to get caught up on a trial that has the nation on edge.

George Floyd’s Death: How Should the Jury Decide the Charges against Derek Chauvin?

Chauvin’s Medical Expert Helps a Reeling Defense

Chauvin’s Stumbling Defense Case

Chauvin Defense Expert Destroyed on the Stand

Will Derek Chauvin Testify? Defense Case Begins Under Cloud of Unrest

Judge Won’t Sequester Chauvin Jury Over Latest Police-Involved Killing

Chauvin Prosecutors Have Answered One Big Question

Gripping Medical Testimony Gets Chauvin Prosecution Back on Track

Chauvin Trial: Police Brutality or Failure of Care?

Chauvin Trial Bombshell: ‘I Ate Too Many Drugs’

Chauvin Murder Trial: The Prosecution’s Reckless Gambit

Chauvin Trial: When Are Leading Questions Allowed?

Derek Chauvin’s Hobbled Defense

Powerful Evidence That George Floyd Resisted Arrest

Confrontation with Feisty Witness Brings Chauvin’s Defense into Focus

Chauvin’s Lawyer Gets Clobbered by Witness’s Gripping Testimony

Important Eyewitness Testimony at the Chauvin Trial

Prosecutor: Chauvin ‘Wouldn’t Let Up and Wouldn’t Get Up’ as George Floyd Slowly Died

Derek Chauvin’s Trial in Floyd Death Case Is on Track

Derek Chauvin Rebuffed by High Court

Chauvin Jury Selection Goes Forward … for the Moment

Chauvin Murder Trial Update

Derek Chauvin Trial Delayed

The George Floyd Murder Trial: A Charging Nightmare

Education

Biden Set to Push Critical Race Theory on U.S. Schools

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House, Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

The woke revolution in the classroom is about to go federal. In an early but revelatory move, President Biden’s Department of Education has signaled its intent to impose the most radical forms of Critical Race Theory on America’s schools, very much including the 1619 Project and the so-called anti-racism of Ibram X. Kendi. (Kendi’s “anti-racism” — which advocates a massive and indefinite expansion of reverse discrimination — is more like neo-racism.) Biden is obviously co-opting conservatives’ interest in reviving traditional U.S. history and civics to deliver its perfect opposite — federal imposition of the very ideas conservatives aim to combat.

Biden’s Department of Education has just released the text of a proposed new rule establishing priorities for grants in American History and Civics Education programs. That rule gives priority to grant “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives.” The rule goes on to cite and praise the New York Times’ “landmark” 1619 Project, as well as the work of Critical Race Theorist Kendi, as leading examples of the sort of ideas the Biden administration wants to spread.

The programs immediately targeted by Biden’s new priority criteria for American history and civics grants are small. Once in place, however, those criteria will undoubtedly influence the much larger and vastly more dangerous “Civics Secures Democracy Act.” That bill would appropriate $1 billion a year, for six years, for history and civic education. Support for leftist “action civics” is already written into the priority criteria of the bill itself. I have argued that additional anodyne-sounding priority criteria in the Civics Secures Democracy Act — criteria favoring grants targeted to “underserved” populations and the mitigation of various racial, ethnic, and linguistic achievement gaps — would be interpreted by the Biden administration as a green light to fund Critical Race Theory in the schools. The new draft federal rule for grant priority in American history and civics education makes it clear that this is indeed the Biden administration’s intent.

The Biden administration’s interest in pushing Critical Race Theory on America’s schools could already be gleaned from the president’s repeated endorsement of the notion that America is “systemically racist.” Biden’s statements to that effect are actually cited in the new federal rule. It’s of interest as well that the new rule explicitly endorses the wave of woke Critical Race Theory currently sweeping through America’s schools. Biden’s new American history and civics rule also expresses support for “Culturally Responsive Teaching,” the ultra-woke and utterly politicized pedagogy derived from Critical Race Theory that was recently imposed on teachers in Illinois.

At this point, the sprinkling of congressional Republicans and conservative education establishment figures who have foolishly bought into bogus “bipartisan” efforts to revive the teaching of American history and civics need to repudiate their misbegotten alliances. We needn’t wait to see how the Biden administration will implement federal efforts to support American history and civics. This new rule tells us all we need to know. We are set for a huge showdown over federal efforts to press leftist action civics and Critical Race Theory on the states. Here is what needs to be done.

Above all, the federal “Civics Secures Democracy Act” must be stopped. Just as a combination of Obama’s Race to the Top grant program and federal regulations managed to impose the abysmal Common Core standards in math and English on nearly every state, the Civics Secures Democracy Act is designed to impose leftist action civics and Critical Race Theory on even red states. The state-level grant money is large enough that the leftist education bureaucrats who dominate even in red states will have a clear field to apply for federal funding. If conservative governors push back against grants that commit an entire state’s education system to action civics and Critical Race Theory, they will be slammed by Democrats, the education establishment, and the media for refusing badly needed federal dollars. Former Texas governor Rick Perry managed to hold off Common Core by refusing to apply for Race to the Top grants, but he was mercilessly pummeled by critics for turning down that money. Few red-state politicians will have the guts to stand up to such pounding.

That is why it is urgently necessary for states to pass laws barring action civics and Critical Race Theory from the K-12 curriculum and teacher training. Without such laws in place, it will be almost impossible to resist the carrots and sticks soon to be deployed by the Biden Education Department with the aim of forcing action civics and Critical Race Theory onto America’s schools.

I have offered model state-level legislation published with the National Association of Scholars that would bar action civics and Critical Race Theory training for K-12 teachers. Some legislators in Texas have taken up that proposal and added a bar on Critical Race Theory in the K-12 curriculum.

There are some legitimate concerns about barring the core ideas of Critical Race Theory from the K-12 curriculum. It is a mistake, however, to see such proposals as interfering with free speech or academic freedom. Barring advocacy of Critical Race Theory from courses in public universities would indeed violate academic freedom and freedom of speech. I oppose such state-level moves, although I do think it’s possible to bar Critical Race Theory-based training outside of the classroom for faculty, staff, and students at public universities. At the K-12 level, however, states and school districts enjoy considerable authority over curriculum. K-12 teachers have very limited free-speech rights when carrying out their classroom responsibilities, at which time they are rightly charged with teaching from the approved curriculum.

That is not to say that barring the advocacy of certain theories or ideas from the K-12 curriculum by state law is free of danger. For one thing, it’s important to give due deference to local control over curriculum. The best way to live with our differences is to keep curricular decisions at the local level to the greatest extent possible.

One of the problems with the new, ultra-woke Illinois teaching standards mentioned earlier is that they impose Chicago’s radicalism on conservative districts downstate. That speaks for local control. Yet the Illinois example cuts both ways. Given that state education bureaucrats have gone far beyond what state law actually authorizes and have cooked up an overreaching rule imposing Critical Race Theory on an entire state, it’s clear that legislatures across the country must now consider defensive measures lest state education bureaucrats (almost invariably far more left-leaning than voters) impose Critical Race Theory via statewide standards or regulations.

Another risk of barring certain concepts from the curriculum is that the prohibition could create martyrs; messy enforcement situations with he said/she said accusations between students, parents, and teachers; and a “banned in Boston” glow for ideas that are barred.

Against these risks, however, is the fact that we are talking about teaching young children to feel guilt and anguish simply because of the color of their skin. While I worry about the expansion and abuse of “hostile environment” law, forcing confessions of guilt based on skin color onto a captive audience of public school children really does seem to represent a hostile educational environment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

And now, between the massive grant-giving machine authorized by the Civics Secures Democracy Act and the new federal rule boosting American history and civics grants that promote the most radical forms of Critical Race Theory, states would be foolish not to protect their schools from the coming onslaught. States must now adopt laws barring both action civics and Critical Race Theory from K-12 education. With the federal juggernaut bearing down, what choice do states have but to defend themselves?

Education

University Chancellor Searches Need to Be Above Suspicion

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(Wikimedia Commons)

Choosing a new university president or chancellor is a matter of importance and public interest when the institution is a state school. A recent selection made in North Carolina for the chancellorship of Fayetteville State has people complaining that favoritism was involved and policy was not followed.

Shannon Watkins covers the controversy in today’s Martin Center article. 

The man recently chosen to lead Fayetteville State is Darrell Allison. He had been a member of the UNC Board of Governors until late in 2020 until he resigned his position on the BOG. It has been charged that his name was added late to the list of candidates for the chancellorship in violation of state policy.

Watkins writes, “Many connected to FSU immediately protested Allison’s election, arguing that he was chosen outside the traditional search process and that his political connections secured him the position. Some even went so far as to condemn his election as ‘fraudulent.’ Others have vowed to ‘fight it until the very last day and beyond.’”

But why the furor? University types don’t usually get upset over procedural matters as this.

The reason, evidently, is that Allison is not a wild-eyed leftist, but instead favors such abhorrent ideas as school choice. How can any university be led by such a backward-thinking person?!

Sadly, Allison takes the reins at FSU under a cloud of suspicion and controversy.

Watkins argues that two lessons should be learned from this:

The first is that the UNC Board of Governors should immediately amend its policy to require a hiatus of at least a year from when a board member resigns to when they apply for a leadership position within the university system. Doing so will establish at least some distance between governing roles which will help prevent even the perception of a conflict of interest. This was not the appropriate or prudent time for Allison to take the helm at Fayetteville State.

Secondly, the FSU Board of Trustees and media relations staff need to take a hard look at how they communicate with the public. There is no excuse for their blatant obfuscation and refusal to answer questions that the state’s tax paying citizens have every right to know.

Politics & Policy

Three Books to Read on the COVID Catastrophe

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A barber shop in Encinitas, Calif., closed as new stay-at-home orders begin in Southern California during the coronavirus outbreak, December 7, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

For most of the last year, we have been inundated with stories in the media about the utter horror of COVID-19. Those stories have engendered in a great many Americans the “hygiene socialism” mindset whereby every measure that might possibly keep the dread disease from spreading must be implemented and zealously enforced.

Those people probably won’t bother to read any of the contrary books that are now becoming available, but the rest of us might — and should.

Writing for the American Institute for Economic Research (which has been stalwart in resisting the hygiene socialism madness), Jeffrey Tucker discusses three books that he thinks are worthwhile.

The first is Faucian Bargain by Steve Deace and Todd Erzen. It focuses on the role Dr. Fauci played in creating panic in the U.S. with his testimony before Congress that COVID was ten times more lethal than regular seasonal flu. There was no reliable evidence for that assertion. Apparently, Fauci took delight in his new fame. Writes Tucker of the authors, “They quote an anonymous White House employee who was there during the early days to the effect that Fauci became consumed by fame and celebrity. The more he called for lockdowns, the more panic he spread, the more he enjoyed the spotlight, and the more the media saw their ratings rise.”

The second book is Covid-19 Lockdowns on Trial by Michael Betrus. About it, Tucker writes, “I find this book highly credible in addition to readable, with mercifully little in the way of politicized argumentation. Most impressive among these books, the author deals with the astonishing costs of lockdowns, which are not only economic but also social, cultural, and medical. Remarkably, lockdowns performed in the name of public health have in fact devastated public health.”

Indeed so.  Like so many other governmental “solutions” to problems, this one proved to be counterproductive.

Finally, Tucker extols John Tamny’s book When Politicians Panicked. It doesn’t go into medical data, but analyzes the politics and economics of the lockdown craze.

About Tamny’s book, Tucker says, “The book excels – and is thus far singular – in addressing the complete failure of the various stimulus packages intended to substitute for a functioning economy. It can never work. Whether the stimulus is fiscal or monetary, the government can only take from the private sector and redistribute it but it can never make up for losses associated with lockdowns. The author is right on target in associating this with Khrushchev-style economics (I thought that was my original insight; Tamny had it first). The Soviet dictator imagined that governments could outperform markets in a way that made markets irrelevant and unnecessary, exactly as the lockdowners thought that government could easily.”

The statists among us thought that their authoritarian lockdown policies would prove to Americans just how much we need omnipotent government. With such books as these, there’s a chance that many will draw the opposite conclusion — omnipotent government is the enemy of freedom, prosperity, and health.

New England Journal of Medicine Pushes Discrimination in Medicine

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A hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, November 2, 2020 (Shannon VanRaes/Reuters)

Wokeism has swept through the institutions, and certainly establishment medicine, particularly the New England Journal of Medicine (as I have illustrated here several times). In this week’s example, an article in the “Perspective” section — which almost always reflects the journal’s editorial stance — pushes discrimination in medicine.

First, it inaccurately describes critical-race-theory training — which former President Trump’s now defunct executive order forbade in federal agencies — as mere “diversity” education. From, “Advancing President Biden’s Equity Agenda — Lessons From Disparities Work,” by Columbia University Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Neil K. Aggarwal:

The new executive order revokes former President Donald Trump’s September 2020 executive order regarding diversity training. That policy prevented federal agencies and their contractors from holding diversity-and-inclusion training programs based on concepts that the Trump administration considered to represent race-based “stereotyping” or “scapegoating,” such as White privilege and systemic racism.

That description should not have passed rudimentary fact checking. Critical race theory is the opposite of embracing diversity and inclusion. As Christopher Rufo described in the New York Post, it promotes anti-white loathing:

According to a trove of whistleblower documents I’ve reviewed, the training begins with the premise that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and hold narratives that “don’t support the dismantling of racist institutions.” Therefore, the trainers argue, white federal employees must “struggle to own their racism” and “invest in race-based growth.”

The trainers then ask “white managers” to create “safe spaces,” where black employees can explain “what it means to be black” and to be “seen in their pain.” White staffers are instructed to keep silent and to “sit in the discomfort” of their racism. If any conflicts arise, the trainers ­insist that whites “don’t get to decide when someone is being too emotional, too rash [or] too mean.” Whites are told they can’t protest if a person of color “responds to their oppression in a way [they] don’t like.”

I am not the first to note that critical-race theory is more akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution indoctrination than it is to appropriate diversity training.

Next, Aggarwal advocates for blatant discrimination in healthcare (my emphasis):

Biden’s executive order puts forth a definition of equity that could be seen as somewhat self-contradictory. According to the order, equity refers to “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

The first part of this definition emphasizes equality for all people, whereas the second part calls attention to specific underserved groups. 

Those concepts are not — or, at least should not be — in conflict. But that is precisely where Aggarwal goes:

To promote equity, the Biden administration should distribute resources differentially in order to benefit groups that are persistently disadvantaged.

That would be to pit some of us against others of us, which is no way to run a health-care system.

The rest of the column is filled with calls for continual data collection on every conceivable racial, ethnic, sex, and gender “variable” among patients–no binary allowed!–and almost impenetrable Progressive jargon. For example:

Conducting multivariate analyses that include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and income — and examining interactions among these variables — could capture lived experiences more accurately than univariate analyses. Black homosexual people face different barriers to health care than Black heterosexual people, for example, and equity assessments should explore barriers based on intersectionality, not just single identity variables.

This obsession with differences — ever more thinly sliced — isn’t healthy. People are people, and should be treated equally as such. No “favored” and “disfavored” allowed.

Establishment medicine can’t have it both ways. It can’t decry the ongoing loss of trust in organized medicine on one hand, and then explicitly promote discrimination against huge swaths of patients on the other. Unjust treatment of some cannot be cured by inflicting injustice on others. That is a prescription for tearing the country apart.