World

Spanish Lagoon Granted Rights of Personhood

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(Balate Dorin/Getty Images)

The “nature rights” movement continues to spread — with little resistance because people don’t take it seriously.

And that helps the movement go forward. Now, a saltwater lagoon in Spain has been granted personhood and rights. From the Science story:

The new law doesn’t regard the lagoon and its watershed as fully human. But the ecosystem now has a legal right to exist, evolve naturally, and be restored. And like a person, it has legal guardians, including a scientific committee, which will give its defenders a new voice.

If the lagoon has the “right” to “evolve naturally” — and since the right includes all life within it, its shoreline, etc. — theoretically, almost all significant human uses of the waters can be halted by the lawsuits that anyone is now entitled to file to enforce the lagoon’s “rights.”

The environmental problem in the area that brought this about involves the flow of fertilizers into the water, which has a deleterious impact on mussels and other sea life. That is a problem, to be sure, but it could be addressed with proper regulations — which exist but are apparently not properly enforced.

So, fix that! Moreover, the lagoon didn’t have to be granted rights for a scientific committee to be appointed to recommend proper environmental practices. Indeed, that very approach could have been done with a proper understanding that granting personhood to a geological feature is both misanthropic and could prevent a properly nuanced approach to environmental regulations that also takes into account human needs.

As I have been documenting here and elsewhere, the nature-rights movement is steadily gaining steam, including in the U.S. And now, apparently, the U.K. is getting in on the act:

Other nations will be watching. In the United Kingdom, groups are campaigning for the rights of rivers, largely in response to pollution. “It’s genuinely exciting to see a rights of nature campaign succeed in Spain, because it really does show the other European nations what is possible,” says Erin O’Donnell, an expert in environmental law at the University of Melbourne Law School.

But don’t worry. This is not an issue to be taken seriously: It can’t happen. Until it does.

Energy & Environment

The Nord Stream Sabotage: A Three-Pipeline Problem (or Not)

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A worker puts a cap to a pipe at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline near Kingisepp, Leningrad Region, Russia, June 5, 2019. (Anton Vaganov/Reuters)

Sherlock Holmes:

 “It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

In my earlier post on defending the West’s undersea pipelines, I noted this:

The sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines (perhaps interestingly, one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipelines — both Nord Stream 1 and 2 are twin-pipeline systems — was not damaged) has left Europeans wondering about the security of other pipelines and, for that matter, that of other undersea networks.

Click on the link attached to that “perhaps” and you’ll find a tweet by Michael Tanchum:

#Russia’s Gazprom says the sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines ruptured both string A & string B of Nordstream 1 but only string A of Nordstream 2 meaning  …

if #Germany wants gas , then it will have to use Nordstream2 (string B)

Today, Samuel Ramani tweets:

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak says it could supply gas to Europe via one line of Nord Stream-2 if necessary

The Nord Stream leak and Russia’s gas supply cutoffs could be a bargaining chip to revive Nord Stream-2

The whole thing’s a mystery, I tell you, a mystery.

A Hurricane of Bad Framing

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Left: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at CPAC in 2021. Right: President Joe Biden at the White House, January 19, 2022. (Joe Skipper, Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

This framing, from Politico’s Gary Fineout, represents a slightly more refined version of the framing that both Phil and I criticized earlier in the week:

President Joe Biden and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis are testing a newfound détente this week when the president visits Florida Wednesday to survey damage from Hurricane Ian.

The two men, political enemies who routinely attack each other over a wide range of policy issues, have set aside their differences over the past week to cooperate on massive hurricane recovery efforts. They have spoken by telephone several times since the storm struck and publicly bat down any suggestion

International

OPEC Gives Biden and U.S. Consumers the Middle Finger

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fist bumps U.S. President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Al Salman Palace, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 2022. (Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via Reuters)

Today’s Morning Jolt spotlights reports that the Biden administration is “panicking” — their reporter’s words, not mine! — that OPEC is about to enact a production cut that will send the price of oil soaring even further. At the beginning of the week, the fear was that OPEC+ was considering a cut of more than 1 million barrels a day.

It is time to elevate the panic level:

The OPEC+ alliance announced it will cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day, the oil cartel and its allies announced Wednesday, which may set the cost of gas rising again after a year of tumultuous prices at the pump.

In a further humiliation for the administration, this move comes after a “full-court press” from the administration against OPEC+ countries, warning them not to cut production:

Amos Hochstein, Biden’s top energy envoy, has played a leading role in the lobbying effort, which has been far more extensive than previously reported amid extreme concern in the White House over the potential cut. Hochstein, along with top national security official Brett McGurk and the administration’s special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking, traveled to Jeddah late last month to discuss a range of energy and security issues as a follow up to Biden’s high-profile visit to Saudi Arabia in July. . . .

The White House has asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to make the case personally to some Gulf state finance ministers, including from Kuwait and the UAE, and try to convince them that a production cut would be extremely damaging to the global economy.

All that pressure didn’t do a darn bit of good, it seems. This is a double loss for the administration and the country as a whole. First, oil prices worldwide are likely to increase, and with them prices at the pump, hurting U.S. consumers and exacerbating inflationary pressures. Second, once again, the self-congratulatory “America is back!”/“the adults are back in charge” rhetoric is failing to match up with the actual results.

Finally, could Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia have been any more of a disaster?

Liquefied (Natural Gas) Gold

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A compressor station of the Jagal natural gas pipeline in Mallnow, Germany, June 13, 2022. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Much as climate activists might dislike it, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is one part of the way out of Europe’s current energy mess, but it’s not an overnight solution.

In a recent piece, I noted that:

LNG is a global product, and Europeans will, as they did this year, have to battle with Asian buyers to secure a supply until more export capacity is built. That will take years, not months, and on the European side more import capacity should be added too. And, yes, there is currently a shortage of LNG tankers.

So how’s that shortage of tankers going?

Like this (via Freightwaves):

It’s

Politics & Policy

Opposing Covid Vaccination Shouldn’t Be a ‘Conservative’ Cause

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A nurse prepares coronavirus vaccines at a mobile pop-up vaccination clinic in Detroit, Mich., July 26, 2021. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

Marin County, a community north of America’s most poorly run city, was once a bastion of vaccine-hesitancy paranoia. Fever dreams about corporate schemes, immunization-induced autism, and the ills of Western medicine were pervasive among residents of the affluent progressive enclave just a few years ago. Now, the county has one of the highest Covid-vaccination rates in the nation.

How did this happen? The answer shouldn’t surprise anyone. As the New York Times put it:

And as the nation has grown more polarized, Marin residents are less comfortable wearing the “anti-vax” label increasingly associated with conservatives.

Putting aside the lunacy of choosing whether or not to inject something into your body based on fear of being mistaken for a member of the wrong political tribe, a unique product of our hyperpartisan reality, this trend should concern everyone on the right. Some conservatives now champion a cause once confined to West Coast elites and considered a fringe, left-wing phenomenon subject to mockery and derision.

The efficacy of the Covid shot has been thoroughly vindicatedStudy after study has proven it is the most effective way to prevent serious complications from the virus. The jab is ultimately what ended the pandemic and the disastrous, draconian mitigation measures that came with it. The victims of vaccine trutherism have primarily been people on the right who have bought into this ludicrous conspiracy theory at their own peril.

Anti-vaccine conservatives did the Left a favor by taking up the mantle. They are wrong to have done so. 

Economy & Business

Our National Debt Just Topped $31 Trillion. This Is Unsustainable

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Peterson Foundation billboard displaying the national debt is pictured on 18th Street in downtown Washington, D.C., February 08, 2022 (emal Countess/Getty Images for Peter G. Peterson Foundation)

In the not-too-distant past, the national debt surpassing $31 trillion would have raised more than a few eyebrows. Now, it seems like everyone’s gone blind to America’s fiscal woes.

Democrats and Republicans alike have been hard at work enacting fiscally irresponsible policies for years. These politicians continue to look away, refusing to see the problem for what it is.

Luckily, some sensible economists are sounding the alarm. Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute has long maintained that our profligacy was unsustainable because the costs of servicing the debt would eventually increase as interest rates rise. He believes that the chickens are coming home to roost.

“Basically, Washington has engaged in a long-term debt spree and been fortunate to be bailed out by low-interest rates up to this point,” Riedl said. “But the Treasury never locked in those low rates long term, and now rising rates may collide with that escalating debt with horribly expensive results.”

Bottom-line: the party’s over. Current levels of federal borrowing are completely untenable. America’s flirtation with Modern Monetary Theory must come to an end.

And we better course correct quickly. Otherwise, we might soon be staring down the barrel of a debt crisis.

Law & the Courts

The Left and the Supreme Court

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At least once a week these days, I’ll read an article by a left-winger who complains that the Supreme Court has too much power and needs to be cut down to size — and whose chief complaint is Dobbs. Here’s the latest example. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can’t have a weaker judiciary and have Roe v. Wade back, too.

National Review

Bundle Up

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We’re not just complaining about inflation; we’re doing something about it. This week, we’re letting readers sign up for NRPlus for 60 percent off. Phil Klein, as ever the voice of fiscal conservatism, points out that’s just eleven cents a day.

It’s a bargain. You’ll have full access to all National Review content online, with no paywall or pop-ups. That includes not only all our great web offerings but everything on the site from our biweekly — er, “fortnightly,” as WFB always called it — magazine. You can also level up with the NRPlus bundle, which will get you a print subscription as well, at the same discount. That’s worth it for Rob Long’s column alone. But you’ll also get to read Christine Rosen on the vacuity of Kamala Harris, Michael Knox Beran on the miscalculations of Big Tech, and Michael Brendan Dougherty on how Ron DeSantis is painting Florida red — all from our most recent issue.

Economy & Business

Another Odious Hatchet Job from Nancy MacLean

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Nancy MacLean is a Duke University history professor who has been working for several years in a nasty genre: writing pieces that smear intellectuals she dislikes with the “racist” brush. She has done that to James Buchanan and Milton Friedman, and she took a great deal of well-argued criticism.

Obviously, that criticism hasn’t deterred her from continuing her project. After all, who among her admirers on the left cares about intellectual honesty? Her latest target is the South African classical-liberal economist W. H. Hutt.

In their paper “Darity, Camara, and MacLean on William H. Hutt,” Phil Magness and Art Carden demolish the claims that Hutt was a white supremacist and by extension that his classical liberal economic views must be bad.

Ill-founded ad hominem attacks are increasingly taking the place of honest scholarship.

Hat tip: Don Boudreaux

Economy & Business

Today in Capital Matters: Football

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Daniel Savickas of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance writes about how a new antitrust bill aimed at tech companies could reduce competition in streaming:

The NFL is back in full swing, to the delight of football fans across the nation. There have already been a number of instant classics just a few weeks into the season. One of the most exciting games was the week 2 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers. Beyond being a competitive game between great offenses, the game was the first under the NFL’s deal with Amazon to exclusively broadcast Thursday night games on Amazon Prime.

A federal antitrust bill targeting Big Tech companies such as Amazon would threaten this new arrangement. The American Innovation and Choice Online (AICO) Act, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), would make it presumptively illegal for a company to favor its own products and services on its platforms. And, given that Amazon’s Thursday Night Football streams are made available at no extra cost, it is very possible this could invoke the ire of the Federal Trade Commission.

Read the whole thing here.

Elections

DeSantis Up 11 Points Over Crist, All GOP Statewide Candidates in Florida Leading by Double Digits

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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)

Nationally, it’s still unclear what November’s midterms will bring. In Florida? Not so much. Here’s Politico:

For your radar While Florida is still dealing with the fallout of Hurricane Ian, one new poll suggests that Republicans — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — could be on their way to a significant sweep in the November elections.

Double digits Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy on Wednesday released survey results that showed DeSantis with a commanding 11-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist: 52 percent to 41 percent.

Also big margins That same poll showed all three Republicans seeking Cabinet posts also with double-digit leads: Attorney General Ashley Moody up over Aramis Ayala, 50 percent to 37 percent; Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis leads Adam Hattersley, 47 percent to 37 percent; and Senate President Wilton Simpson with a clear advantage over Naomi Esther Blemur in the agriculture commissioner race, 47 percent to 34 percent.

These races could plausibly tighten a little. But they’re unlikely to tighten that much. Absent a cataclysm, November should be a good month for the Florida GOP.

Trump’s Supreme Court Gambit Won’t Work

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Former President Donald Trump attends a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., September 3, 2022. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Even as the Justice Department is asking the Eleventh Circuit to expedite consideration of its appeal of Judge Aileen Cannon’s injunction against the government’s use of classified documents seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the former president is trying to convince the Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the Eleventh Circuit.

It won’t work.

As I explained last night (in a column mainly about the Justice Department’s appeal to the Circuit), even if Trump’s position were colorable, the high court would not prematurely involve itself in the case. The justices would dismiss the emergency application Trump’s lawyers filed on Tuesday, without prejudice

Media

NBC’s Ben Collins Gives the Game Away on ‘Disinformation’

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Tesla founder Elon Musk attends a conference in Stavanger, Norway, August 29, 2022. (Carina Johansen/Reuters)

Here, in one tweet, we can see the near terminal myopia of the mainstream press — especially among those who believe themselves to be superintending the spread of “disinformation.”

“It could actually affect midterms,” Collins says. Which, by definition, means that Collins believes that Twitter’s current moderation policies are affecting political outcomes. But that doesn’t concern him. What concerns him is that Twitter’s moderation policies might affect political outcomes in the wrong direction. Up until now, Collins and many like him have been quite happy with Twitter’s decisions, because they have gone in a direction of which Collins and many like him approve. If Elon Musk buys Twitter, however, they aren’t sure this’ll continue, and so, suddenly, this becomes a national crisis.

I believe — unironically and unashamedly — that Twitter is a private company and that it can do what it likes. But I believe this now, when Twitter is not owned by Elon Musk, and I’ll believe it next week, if and when Twitter is owned by Elon Musk. Collins does not believe this, because, despite his lofty title — Senior reporter, dystopia beat, @NBCNews — Collins is not actually interested in anything other than power. He’s not interested in truth or lies, information or disinformation, utopia or dystopia. He’s interested in control. And, in one tweet, he just demonstrated that.

Art

Cartoon Contest

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The College Fix is searching for the next great editorial cartoonist, with a contest that offers a top prize of $1,000. Please consider entering or at least spreading the word, so that the Fix can discover a Michael Ramirez, Henry Payne, or Pat Cross for a new generation.

Education

Who Gets to Decide How State Universities Are Run?

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If you ask most taxpayers, they’d say that the state universities they pay for should be run to teach useful knowledge and skills. But if you ask a “progressive” educator, you’d hear that state universities should be run primarily to spread correct thinking to the students, especially the beliefs embedded in that miasma of ideas we now call DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion). What the backward rubes who pay the taxes might want is immaterial.

Thus, we find again and again that state universities, even in “red” states, fall under the control of determined progressives. They won’t take “no” for an answer. That is the case at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and I write about it in today’s Martin Center article.

Back in 2016, there was a flap in the Volunteer State when the Diversity Office got too aggressive for the state legislature, which terminated its funding. Did the wokesters get the message? Of course not, they were soon back at work, pushing their people and agendas.

One of the people was the new chancellor, who insisted that every academic unit in the university prepare a “diversity” plan. Not one told her that they’d stick to their traditional academic mission. This is, as NAS scholar John Sailer puts it in a recent study on UTK, “a case study in the rolling revolution under way in academia.”

Schools in UTK will now have to meet “diversity” goals and favor the recruitment of candidates who demonstrate their commitment to its causes. Merit in teaching and research will be subordinated to DEI ideology. Any dissidents will be screened out.

The key question is whether the legislators in Tennessee will meekly sit by while the state’s flagship university is turned into an outpost for leftist agitation.

Defending the Pipelines

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Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. (Danish Defence Command/Handout via Reuters)

The sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines (perhaps interestingly, one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipelines — both Nord Stream 1 and 2 are twin-pipeline systems — was not damaged) has left Europeans wondering about the security of other pipelines and, for that matter, that of other undersea networks.

The attacks have stirred not so remote memories in Norway.

High North News:

 Earlier this year an undersea fiber optic cable connecting a satellite ground station on Svalbard [a Norwegian Arctic archipelago in which, for historical reasons, the Russians maintain some mining facilities] to the Norwegian mainland was severed.

This incident followed the cutting

Elections

Four Consecutive Polls Show GOP Hopeful Leading in Oregon Governor’s Race

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Gubernatorial Candidate Christine Drazan (R., Ore.) speaks during an interview (Screengrab KGW News/YouTube)

Christine Drazan, who’s running to be Oregon’s first Republican governor since 1987, has now led the field in four consecutive polls. Surveys from three separate polling firms, conducted September 19–24, all showed Drazan ahead:

And now, a poll from Emerson College released earlier today shows the same result:

This is still Oregon, of course — its history as a deep-blue state should temper overly optimistic Republican hopes. But if there’s any year for the Beaver State governor’s mansion to turn red, it’s going to be this one. 

 

Elections

GOP Surpasses 4 Million Voter Contacts in Texas

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Republican Mayra Flores talks to people during her watch party in San Benito, Texas, June 14, 2022. (Veronica G. Cardenas/Reuters)

Seeking to capitalize on its inroads with Latinos in 2020, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has made a concerted attempt at outreach with 21 Hispanic community centers across the country — each with its own staffer, hired from within the community and tasked with recruiting and training local volunteers. Four of those Hispanic community centers are in Texas — opened last year in Laredo, San Antonio, McAllen and Houston, respectively — where the heavily Hispanic south Texas region shifted significantly toward Trump during the last election cycle.

The strategy is already seeing returns: With more than 30 full-time staff — and upwards of 17,000 volunteers — on the ground across the state, the RNC surpassed 4 million voter contacts in Texas this past weekend. By Election Day, that number is projected to sit at seven times the number of voter contacts Republicans made in the last midterm cycle four years prior, a GOP aide on the ground in Texas told me. In the 90 percent Hispanic Cameron County, Republican turnout has increased by 137 percent since 2018. The 95.4 percent Hispanic Webb County saw an 87 percent increase and the 91.87 percent Hispanic Hidalgo County saw an 84 percent increase over the same period.

Across south Texas, the GOP has made significant gains with Hispanic voters over the course of the past few years. Five of the six largest Democrat-to-Republican county-level shifts from 2016 to 2020 occurred in South Texas, and — while Joe Biden still carried most of the region by healthy margins — all four of the counties in the 91.5 percent Hispanic Rio Grande Valley shifted toward Trump by upwards of ten points: In Starr County, the former president bested his 2016 performance by an earth-shattering 55 points. 

Other elections point to GOP inroads down-ballot, too. In 2021, McAllen — an 85 percent Hispanic city of 142,000, located just eleven miles from the Mexico border — elected its first Republican mayor in more than two decades, by a razor-thin margin of just 206 votes. (I sat down with the mayor, Javier Villalobos, in his McAllen law office last week to chat about his perspective on the state’s immigration politics). And this June, Mayra Flores, a Mexican-born Republican, won a special election in the state’s 34th congressional district — which stretches from the Mexico border up to San Antonio — by more than seven and a half points. It was a dramatic reversal: Two years prior, Joe Biden carried the district by four points, and its incumbent Democratic congressman carried it by 13.6. 

Three Hispanic Republican women — Flores, Monica De La Cruz, and Cassy Garcia, referred to as Las Tres Chingonas by local Republicans — are on the ballot in traditionally blue, but increasingly GOP-friendly congressional districts this November. I attended a rally for Garcia, who’s running in the state’s 28th congressional district, in Laredo this Sunday. “I think people are excited,” she told me. “People are ready for a better way forward for this district, and I feel like I’m prepared and ready to provide a new voice for them in D.C.” 

Religion

Finding Unity in Saint Francis

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Statue of St. Francis of Assisi at the Duomo of Assisi in Umbria, Italy (worldwidephotoweb/iStock/Getty Images)

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order and patron saint of animals, merchants, and ecology. Born in Italy around 1181, Francis is one of the most venerated figures in the Church and continues to be admired by believers and non-believers around the world today. 

In March 2013, when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was introduced to the world for the first time as “Pope Francis,” it confirmed the fundamental importance of that humble Italian saint to our own age.

Indeed, understanding the fullness of Francis — a man left-leaning commentators champion for his “pantheist language, scruffy clothes and campaign for social justice” and to whom traditionalists look for his joyful asceticism and profound devotion to Christ — might help us resolve some of the tensions within the Church today and see the virtues of our society, as well as what we are missing. 

To do so, we can look to the mutual admiration of St. Francis by two men whose supporters often find themselves on opposite sides of contemporary debates: G. K. Chesterton and Pope Francis. 

Chesterton — who wrote in his biography of St. Francis that “at no stage of my pilgrimage has he ever seemed to me a stranger” — thought that there were three ways to write a sketch of St. Francis for the modern English reader.

The first:

To deal with this great and most amazing man as a figure in secular history and a model of social virtues… He may say (what is quite true) that St. Francis anticipated all that is most liberal and sympathetic in the modern mood; the love of nature; the love of animals; the sense of social compassion; the sense of the spiritual dangers of prosperity and even of property. All those things that nobody understood before Wordsworth were familiar to St. Francis. All those things that were first discovered by Tolstoy had been taken for granted by St. Francis. He could be presented, not only as a human but a humanitarian hero; indeed as the first hero of humanism . . . his ascetical theology can be ignored . . . his religion can be regarded as a superstition. . . . There would still be a great deal to be said about the man who tried to end the Crusades by talking to the Saracens or who interceded with the Emperor for the birds. . . . In short, he may try to tell the story of a saint without God.

The second: 

He may go to the opposite extreme, and decide, as it were, to be defiantly devotional. He may make the theological enthusiasm as thoroughly the theme as it was the theme of the first Franciscans. He may treat religion as the real thing that it was to the real Francis of Assisi. He can find an austere joy, so to speak, in parading the paradoxes of asceticism and all the holy  topsy-turvydom of humility. He can stamp the whole history with the Stigmata, record fasts like fights against a dragon. . . . In short he can produce . . . a study of St. Francis . . . unintelligible to any one who does not share his religion, perhaps only partly intelligible to any one who does not share his vocation. . . . The only difficulty about doing the thing in this way is that . . . it would really require a saint to write the life of a saint.

But both these ways, Chesterton suggests, are “impossible.” 

Instead, he opts for the third way: 

He may say to the modern English reader: ‘Here is an historical character which is admittedly attractive to many of us already, bits gaiety, its romantic imagination, its spiritual courtesy and camaraderie, but which also contains elements (evidently equally sincere and emphatic) which seem to you quite remote and repulsive. But after all, this man was a man and not half a dozen men. What seems inconsistency to you did not seem inconsistency to him . . . by approaching it in this way, we may at least get a glimmering of why the poet who praised his lord the sun, often hid himself in a dark cavern, of why the saint who was gentle with his Brother the Wolf [legend holds that Francis tamed a wolf that was terrorizing the Italian town of Gubbio] was so harsh to his Brother the Ass (as he nicknames his own body), of why the troubadour who said that love set his heart on fire separated himself from women.”

By taking this way, Chesterton suggests that people can avoid the failure of following “Francis with their praises until they [are] stopped by their prejudices.” Only when we set these prejudices aside can we realize:

That when [Francis] said from the first that he was a Troubadour of a newer and nobler romance, he was not using a mere metaphor, but understood himself much better than the scholars understand him. He was, to the last agonies of asceticism, a Troubadour. He was a lover of God and he was really and truly a lover of men; possibly a much rarer mystical vocation. A lover of men is very nearly the opposite of a philanthropist; indeed the pedantry of the Greek word carries something like a satire on itself. A philanthropist may be said to love anthropoids. But as St. Francis did not love humanity but men, so he did not love Christianity but Christ.

All the “riddles” of St. Francis, Chesterton goes on to say “would easily be resolved in the simplicity of any noble love; only this was so noble a love that nine men out of ten have hardly even heard of it.” He continues: “To this great mystic, his religion was not a thing like a theory but a thing like a love-affair.” Chesterton clearly admires this love of Francis, and here, he and the current pope concur. As Pope Francis put it in his controversial encyclical letter, Laudato Si’:

Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever [Francis] would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them ‘to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.’ His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. . . . Such a conviction cannot be written off as naïve romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

So, on this feast day, may we set our prejudices aside and be united in our admiration for St. Francis, praying for his intercession and following in his example. 

Elections

Hey, Remember When Democrats Spent $130 Million Trying to Win a South Carolina Senate Race?

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Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Last cycle, one of the odder phenomenons in the Senate races was the rapid rise and quick disappearance of Democrat Jaime Harrison in his bid to unseat incumbent Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Harrison more or less played the Beto O’Rourke playbook — pick a hated Republican senator from a southern state, and ride gentle press coverage and some very questionable polling to record fundraising haul. Harrison spent $130 million . . . and then finished ten points behind Graham.

Harrison is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Apparently, Democrats aren’t getting their hopes up in the Palmetto State again. You can be forgiven if you missed that South Carolina GOP senator Tim Scott is running for reelection this cycle. How uncompetitive is this race? It appears only two public polls of this race have been conducted the entire cycle. A poll in March put Scott up by 32 percentage points over Democrat Krystle Matthews; a poll that ended September 7 put Scott up by 17 percentage points. That early autumn survey found Scott with a 51 percent favorable rating, 33 percent unfavorable rating.

Next time some Democrat tries to argue they have a chance to win statewide in South Carolina, there will be a lot of well-founded skepticism to overcome.

Immigration

Death at (and of) the Border

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The howling hypocrisy displayed by progressives and much of the media when Ron DeSantis flew illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard is dwarfed by their relative indifference to the explosion in the number of illegal immigrants who’ve died attempting to cross the border. Their indifference also stands in contrast to their professed concerns about the alleged housing of “kids in cages” by the Trump administration in 2018.

Reporters and Democratic politicians swarmed the border and immigrant detention facilities that year to highlight the issue. Photos of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sobbing at the sight of a chain-link fence were ubiquitous. Stories about the separation of children from parents abounded. Every media outlet larger than the Brecksville High School student newspaper had a substantial presence at the border.

Not so with respect to the current state of the southern border, which by  every comparative measure is an unprecedented disaster. The number of  border crossings has exploded from 396,579 in 2018 to a record high of more than 2.3 million in FY 2022 (not including “got-aways,” which likely increase the total by 40–50 percent). The number of individuals on the FBI’s terror watch list has risen from six in 2018 to 78 in 2022. The number of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. with a criminal record rose from 6,698 in 2018 to 10,763 in 2021.

The number of deaths among illegal aliens crossing the southern border has gone from 283 in 2018 to 748 in FY 2022. Curiously, no sign of Ocasio-Cortez weeping on site. Also, no sign of any other Democrat or member of the media (outside of Fox News). For them, border tragedies are relevant only when politically useful.

Expect the southern border to be rediscovered when a Republican resides in the White House again. Of course, expect also to discover that he or she is a racist.

Elections

Can Oz Out-Hustle Fetterman in the Final Month?

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

In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz’s attack ads against John Fetterman have turned it into an actual competitive race, with the Cook Political Report moving the race back to “toss up” status. Part of that can be attributed to Oz’s aggressive attack ads, like this one that points to a 2015 interview in the Nation, where Fetterman said, “I’m pro legalizing marijuana, but I go even further than some of my colleagues because I’m for decriminalizing across the board.” That may not sound so appealing as Pennsylvania grapples with a fentanyl overdose crisis.

Ordinarily, the candidate under attack would go out and do a lot of campaign stops and interviews, responding and clarifying his position on drugs. But Fetterman . . . obviously still can’t campaign normally. Fetterman held his first rally in Philadelphia — the single most important Democratic stronghold in the state — on September 24. And he’s clearly nowhere near his usual self yet:

After coming onstage to AC/​DC’s “Back in Black,” Mr. Fetterman spoke to a crowd of about 600 for about 12 minutes, at times with halting speech and on occasion stumbling over at least one of his lines as he recovers from a May stroke.

As he sarcastically pledged not to pander, he joked that “the Eagles are so much better than the Eagles.” He clearly meant to say the Steelers. (The crowd rallied to help him, unleashing an E-A-G-L-E-S chant).

Fetterman will be in York County Saturday and Bucks County Sunday — with a campaign event scheduled early so as to not conflict with the Eagles game. Fetterman’s health is likely to keep him limited from now until Election Day.

Oz has the opportunity to out-hustle Fetterman in the final month — and sometimes this makes a difference. Back in 2013, in a special House election in South Carolina, Democrats thought they had a shot to knock off the somewhat infamous former governor, Mark Sanford. In the final days, Sanford did roughly twice as many events as his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. On election night, it wasn’t all that close, as Sanford finished with 54 percent and Busch finished with 45 percent.

Natural Gas: Winter Is Coming

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Steam rises above Kiev, February 2, 2012 (Anatolii Stepanov/Reuters)

It’s become something of a cliché to top stories about the coming energy crunch in Europe with the headline “Winter Is Coming” (in my defense, I rolled out the cliché earlier than some), but it does seem particularly appropriate in this case.

The Financial Times:

Europe could suffer a colder winter with less wind and rain than usual, according to the European weather forecasting agency, adding to the challenges for governments trying to solve the continent’s energy crisis.

Florence Rabier, director-general of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), said early indications for November and December were for a period of high pressure

Education

NYU Professor Gets Canned for Doing His Job Too Well

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Banner outside New York University in 2009. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Last year, the State of Oregon invited a firestorm of controversy when it announced that it was eliminating the requirement that high-school graduates have rudimentary arithmetic and literacy skills to graduate. Instead of ensuring that adolescents in the Beaver State are well-equipped for the labor market and adulthood, Democrats in Salem chose to kowtow to progressive zealots and prioritize “equity” over competency. Unfortunately, other jurisdictions and schools have followed suit, with supporters calling this a step toward overhauling discriminatory pedagogical methods, another battle in the never-ending left-wing crusade to reimagine everything.

In the latest sign of this worrying trend, it appears that the woke infiltration of scholastic standards has spread to my alma mater. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that organic-chemistry professor and notorious medical-school dream-killer Maitland Jones Jr. was discharged from NYU after his students started a petition against him, claiming his course was too difficult. Yet he was doing what he was hired for: to teach organic chemistry by challenging students to go beyond their comfort zones. Jones’s termination is the academic equivalent of ochlocracy and should concern everyone who cares about the preservation of meritocratic excellence.

It’s safe to assume that many “orgo” students will forget much of what they learned in the course except for the basics, which is enough to make one wonder whether advanced-level organic chemistry is truly necessary to be a good doctor, especially for physicians who aren’t going to become researchers. Nevertheless, Jones’s course, and others like it, served as a testing ground where the best and the brightest could appraise their mettle in high-stakes situations, a particularly valuable trait for people who will eventually be tasked with caring for those with life-threatening conditions.

More significantly, NYU has opened the door for students to protest their way out of taking a class because of how the content or complexity of the course material affects their self-esteem. This flies in the face of everything higher education is supposed to stand for.

Of course, this is nothing new for NYU. This is the school whose official student newspaper pulled an ad for a book by National Review editor in chief Rich Lowry out of concern it might offend some students’ precious sensibilities. It looks like the inmates will continue running the asylum in Greenwich Village for the foreseeable future.

Education

Making College as Close to Free as Possible

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Prominent Democrats have babbled away about their desire to make college “free.” That probably won’t happen, but they’ll come pretty close under Biden’s debt-cancellation program.

As Andrew Gillen of the Texas Public Policy Foundation explains here, there is much more to it than just “forgiving” a lot of student debts. Biden’s proposal uses every lever available to reduce the amount that students will have to repay.

Specifically, according to Gillen, Biden’s plan would:

• Increase the income exemption (under which loan payments are $0) to 225% of the poverty line (under existing plans, this is typically 100% to 150%);

• Lower the percent of income owed to 5% (under existing plans, this ranges from 10%–25%);

• Forgive loans after 10 years of repayment for undergraduates borrowing less than $12,000; and

• Waive any unpaid interest.

Gillen concludes, “In sum, the Biden repayment plan is a misnomer, as only token repayment is required. This plan makes a mockery of student lending, and if it is enacted, the entire student loan system needs to be scrapped at the earliest opportunity.”

To that, I would only say that the student loan system needs to be scrapped whether Biden’s plan is enacted or not.

Culture

Why Courtship Culture Works

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Michal Leibowitz, an editorial assistant at the New York Times, has written a piece titled, “Dating Is Broken. Going Retro Could Fix It.” Leibowitz met her husband at her synagogue, “a meeting point that helped ensure we shared common values and whose members supported (and sometimes vouched for) each of us as we began dating.” Remarking on a trend in the “secular mainstream,” she notes that many people seem tired of dating-app culture. Instead, they have “latched — tentatively, faddishly — onto traditional dating practices.”

Through conversations with traditional and secular daters, I’ve come to see three practices as particularly promising for people who are looking for committed, long-term relationships: meeting partners through friends, family or matchmakers rather than online; early, upfront communication around long-term goals and values; and delaying sexual intimacy.

Leibowitz asks, “Is it time to court again?”

As discussed in Louise Perry’s book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, a courtship culture encourages men to compete for women’s long-term commitment in the form of marriage — marriage being the price of sex. Whereas, in our present setup, the hookup culture encourages women to compete for men’s short-term sexual interest. This is a terrible arrangement for women for obvious reasons. But it is also terrible for men as it locks them in a state of prolonged adolescence (what Perry describes as “cad” mode). And ultimately, this is bad for both sexes if their long-term goal is a happy marriage and a satisfying sex life.

Leibowitz notes:

A 2010 study published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology looked at the relationship between the amount of time a couple waits to have sex and the quality of their marriage. Researchers found that couples who waited until marriage reported not just less consideration of divorce but also higher relationship satisfaction, better communication and superior sex when compared with couples who began having sex within a month of their first date (or before they started dating). Couples who slept together between a month and two years after their first date — but didn’t wait until marriage — saw about half of the benefits.

National Review

Tell Us Why We’re Wrong

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National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. (National Review)

For only a couple of Hamiltons, you could subscribe to NR and gain commenting privileges. Then, from your favorite chair or chesterfield, you could inform us how and why we’re wrong every day for a year. 

For the price of twenty 75-grain HPBT 5.56 rounds, you could tell Charles C. W. Cooke why federalism is bogus.

For the price of a Red Sox cap, you could tell Rich Lowry why the Yankees are the worst franchise in baseball.

For the price of a Dune box set, you could tell Jack Butler that Caesarism is the best answer to encroaching Leftism.

For the price of a 24-pack of Spotted Cow, you could tell me, Luther Abel, that automotive hot takes are best left to people who drive anything other than a Toyota Prius.

What’s more, you could gain eternal glory as the top comment on an article about railway unions. Heck, we’ll even yank the ads and let you in on calls and meet-ups with writers and major political players. It’s a screaming deal, and we’d love to have you as a part of our NRPlus community.

Come join us. 

National Review

11 Cents

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On the home page, Rich makes a compelling case for why you should join NRPlus by taking advantage of this week’s pre-election subscription drive. But I just wanted to add a bit of extra perspective. If you were to join at the current discounted rate, it would bring the cost of NRPlus to just $0.11 per day.

That’s $0.11 so you can come here every day and read any article you choose without worrying about the paywall and while enjoying a limited ad experience without pop-ups. It’s $0.11 per day to have commenting privileges on articles, to be able to join regular calls with authors and newsmakers, and to get invited to meetups such as the one last week in Los Angeles. 

As Rich put it:

If you agree that we still need right reason, that we need to be engaged in the fight every day, but we should do it with facts and the best arguments, and that America is still the last best hope of Earth, then we have a publication just for you and that we believe deserves your support.

Subscribe here to take advantage of this limited-time offer.

Culture

A Lady at the (Destruction) Derby

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A driver waits for her heat at the Nation-Wide Demolition Derby in Augusta, N.J., August 5, 2013. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The New York Times ran a piece yesterday about the “Demo Derby Queen of Tennessee,” and it is delightful. Driving a vividly pink hulk recently dragged from a farmer’s field, Ashley Barber has found success in both the all-female and the men’s divisions of the demolition derby . 

Steven Kurutz reports for the Times:

Ashley Barber didn’t know there was an all-female class when she drove in her first demolition derby at the Tennessee State Fair, seven years ago. She competed in the men’s category that night, and lost her helmet from all the hard knocks but placed seventh out of more than 60 cars. The adrenaline, the competition and the supportive cheers of her husband made her a convert. She was back slamming into the guys the next night.

For Ms. Barber, 33, who competes in six to eight shows a year in Tennessee, her home state, derbying is a shared passion. Her husband, Atlas Barber, 35, buys the cars and does the mechanical repairs and bodywork, while she handles the stripping and painting. He also competes, sometimes driving in the same events as his wife. His cars are green; hers are pink.

“It’s probably why we’re still together,” Ms. Barber said with a laugh.

There are so many things to love about the story. A wife and mother, working alongside her husband and daughter, smashing into other cars with pink paint and manicures. The pioneer woman swapped out horse reins for a four-speed transmission and proceeded to tear stuff up. 

American women are awesome. 

Economy & Business

Today in Capital Matters: Wildfires

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Shawn Regan and Tate Watkins of the Property and Environment Research Center write about how government regulation hinders wildfire-prevention efforts:

There is now broad agreement among ecologists and fire scientists that forest restoration — including the use of controlled burns and selective thinning — preempts devastation by clearing brush and other vegetative fuels before they go up in smoke. All too often, however, environmental-review and permitting processes prevent this important work from being completed in time — and the homes, wildlife habitat, and air quality it is meant to protect end up damaged or even destroyed.

A recent study by our colleagues at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) found that from the time environmental reviews are initiated for U.S. Forest Service projects, it takes an average of 3.6 years to begin mechanical-thinning treatments on the ground, while prescribed burns take 4.7 years to start on average. Mechanical-thinning and prescribed-burn treatments that require environmental-impact statements — the most stringent category of analysis — are even slower, taking an average of approximately five years and seven years, respectively.

Read the whole thing here.

Larry Krasner’s Lies

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Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks at the National Action Network National Convention in New York, N.Y., April 7, 2022. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Larry Krasner, the “progressive prosecutor” of Philadelphia, which seems poised to set yet another homicide record this year, told an incredulous local television host last week that the violent-crime problem in America is being driven by “MAGA states.”

Just to recap, there were 561 murders in Philadelphia last year. It was a record high, but one that probably won’t last long: The City of Brotherly Love passed the 400-murder mark for 2022 last week, with a quarter of the year left to go. The 2021 record outpaced New York City by a wide margin (the Big Apple saw 485 murders

Elections

New Poll: Democrats Losing Ground with Latino Voters but Still Enjoy Comfortable Lead

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Voters at a polling location in New York City, November 2, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

New polling from NBC/Telemundo has Democrats still comfortably leading among Latino voters, but with a substantially reduced lead from just a few years ago:

The breakdown for party preference also varies significantly by issue:

This is an important wrinkle to the ongoing discussion about the potential for a “Hispanic realignment” toward the GOP: As the folks on the FiveThirtyEight podcast noted last month, recent polling shows that while the GOP hasn’t made major gains with the demographic yet, Democrats have lost ground. Latinos are less loyal to the Democratic Party than they once were, but they’re still not sure about Republicans. That means the rapidly growing voting bloc is increasingly up for grabs — but it’s also a warning to the GOP to not declare victory too soon. 

World

Brazil Finds Itself Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Left: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a debate in Brasilia, August 30, 2022. Right: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures during a meeting with candidates running in Brazil’s general election in Rio de Janeiro, September 30, 2022. (Adriano Machado, Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

The 2022 Brazilian presidential election is starting to look like a Stealers Wheel song.

With no candidate reaching the 50-percent threshold, yesterday’s result produced a long-awaited runoff matchup between the incendiary incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, and former socialist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

There is no good option for Brazilian voters in this race. Bolsonaro is a demagogic figure who has cast aspersions on the legitimacy of Brazil’s electoral system. Many analysts believe he is attempting to sow doubt in the democratic process in an effort to execute a self-coup in the event he loses, similar to what President Trump tried to do in 2020. Lula, on the other hand, is a corrupt radical leftist who will unleash chaos and economic ruin on the Federative Republic.

“Lesser of two evils” narratives fall short when the choices are this bad. Brazilians are best off doing what National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru suggested in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and abstaining.

Sorry, Politico, but Taxpayer Money Is Not ‘the President’s Wallet’

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Left: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at CPAC in 2021. Right: President Joe Biden at the White House, January 19, 2022. (Joe Skipper, Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Charlie earlier pointed out how off-base it was for a Twitter user to portray Governor Ron DeSantis seeking federal hurricane-relief aid as “bending the knee” to President Biden. But Politico has woven this basic idea into a ridiculous story with a ridiculous premise:

The “president’s wallet”? What on earth are they talking about? The president may carry around a wallet for ice-cream purchases that provide fodder to a media that refuses to cover him critically, but taxpayer money that has been allocated to pay for federal disaster relief is not his personal piggybank. As Charlie put it, suggesting otherwise “is grotesque

Hey, Wasn’t Biden Supposed to Be the Democrats’ ‘Top Campaigner’ Right about Now?

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee rally in Rockville, Md., August 25, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In late August, we were told that a new and improved, reinvigorated, charged-up President Joe Biden was “embracing the role of the Democratic Party’s top campaigner” and “that the president’s advisers are betting that he can help Democratic candidates despite the drag on his popularity.” You could be forgiven for being skeptical, as Biden’s job-approval rating had increased a bit, but was still in the low 40s.

And Biden has indeed done a lot of Democratic National Committee dinners and fundraisers. Unsurprisingly, wealthy Democratic donors are still willing to pay up to sit in a house or banquet hall and hear

Sports

Why 62 Is Hard

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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) watches hits his 50th home run of the season against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., August 29, 2022. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

In response to 62 Ain’t Easy

Rich notes the difficulty that Aaron Judge has had at getting over the hump with his pursuit of 62 home runs. But it isn’t merely that hitting that many home runs is hard, or that the closer a player gets to that record, the more pressure there is on every at bat. There’s also the fact that pitchers, who don’t want to be remembered as the answer to a trivia question about giving up a historic home run, no longer are willing to give you any pitches to hit.

Consider this, from before yesterday’s game:

With so few hittable pitches, Judge has been left with a choice — either be patient and don’t swing at pitches out of the zone, or start chasing pitches. It’s no wonder he’s been alternating between walks and strikeouts as of late.

Law & the Courts

Jonathan Turley: Judge Ho’s Boycott Will Not Change Yale Law

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Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 4, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Last week, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Ho announced that he would no longer look to recruit clerks from Yale Law School (YLS) and encouraged others in the judiciary to do the same because of the university’s “closed and intolerant environment.” The nation’s top-ranked law school has undoubtedly been reduced to an intolerant cesspool hostile to anyone with heterodox views, as evidenced by last year’s infamous “Trap House” imbroglio.

But some prominent voices are casting doubt on the potential efficacy of Judge Ho’s decision. One of those skeptics is George Washington University Law School legal scholar Jonathan Turley, who claims this move will only exacerbate the plight of the besieged conservative students at YLS without inducing any difference in behavior. 

While believing that Judge Ho is “right on the merits” concerning problems at YLS, Turley disputes his means. In addition to rejecting the notion that Yale students “should be the subject of a boycott for the failure of the faculty,” he explains how the judge’s boycott will do little to fix the culture or administration in New Haven:

Even if the boycott were successful in dramatically reducing the prestigious clerkship for the school, it would likely not produce a change of behavior by the faculty. The sad reality is that many professors long ago jettisoned the interests of their students and their institution in favor of pursuing their own agendas.

Turley hits the nail on the head. Conservatives have tried this before in other areas. Elite woke-captured institutions resist incentives to change their illiberal ways not only because their unrivaled reputation has immunized them. They don’t respond to conservative public-pressure campaigns because the individual actors within them feel they don’t have to. Most professors at YLS lack institutional fealty. Their allegiance lies with the dogma to which they’ve wedded themselves.

Insofar as academics are willing to sacrifice institutional desiderata at the altar of intersectionality, conservatives are best off maintaining some skin in the game and rejecting the academic equivalent of the “Benedict Option.” Attempts to establish sanctuaries of normalcy like the Univerity of Austin are helpful but not a panacea. It’s better to play the game than to be an onlooker from the sidelines.

Sports

62 Ain’t Easy

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I’m still bullish on Aaron Judge breaking the single-season home-run record in the handful of regular-season games left, but his (relative) struggles since hitting 60 go to how hard this is and what an achievement it is to get up there with Ruth and Maris without flagrant cheating.

Politics & Policy

Re: ‘Mean Tweets’

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In response to ‘Mean Tweets’

I agree with everything that’s been said regarding Trump’s blast at McConnell and his wife: (1) It’s profoundly unworthy; (2) it’s intra-Republican fratricide of the crudest and dumbest sort on the cusp of an important election; (3) it’s part of the reason why Trump lost a winnable election in 2020; and (4) it’s one of the reasons he’d be more likely than any other Republican to lose a winnable election in 2024.