UNC Insists on ‘Equity’ Rather Than Equality


The buzzword this year in higher education is “equity.” What the people who use it mean is that the treatment of underrepresented minorities must result in equal outcomes for each group. It’s not good enough that all students, no matter their supposed group, have equal chances to succeed. The results must be equalized, and that’s going to require a lot of new programs.

At the University of North Carolina, the “equity” crowd is in complete control. In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins looks at the ways it is pushing the system for better policies than in the bad old days.

For one thing, UNC is said to have a terrible history of racism and oppression that students need to learn about. Only then, apparently, can all students feel included. The Board has established an “equity task force” to oversee the necessary changes.

Part of the problem, as they see it, is in the student pipeline. Some groups have higher high-school graduation rates than others, and that affects the college population. UNC will try to figure out how to remedy that.

The task force is also going to have sessions devoted to listening to students to find out what they regard as uninclusive.

For many years, UNC was in the grip of the Diversity Mania, but now it’s in the grip of the Equity Mania.

National Security & Defense

General Brent Scowcroft, 1925–2020

Brent Scowcroft on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 1, 2007 (Jim Young/Reuters)

General Brent Scowcroft, who served as national-security adviser to presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, died this week at the age of 95. Quiet and unassuming, but ruthlessly effective in accomplishing his goals, Scowcroft was a key figure in many of the international crises and presidential decisions that shaped the world we live in today, for better or worse.

This is from my 2015 NR review of an authoritative biography by Bartholomew Sparrow (The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security):

[After Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait], the administration resolved early on that the risks of inaction vastly outweighed the risks of action. It defined a simple goal — the humiliating unconditional withdrawal of the Iraqi army from Kuwait — and pursued it with single-minded purpose. Scowcroft coordinated the overall strategy, congressional outreach, and messaging. He was wary of Baker’s efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically. An ambiguous conclusion was out of the question. Absent the specter of superpower confrontation, the end of the Cold War might revive regional wars of territorial conquest — by far the greatest source of bloodshed in human history. Saddam’s defeat had to be unambiguous, pour encourager les autres.

The Bush administration’s single most virtuosic performance, and most lasting legacy, was undoubtedly the brilliant liquidation of the Soviet empire and the reunification of Germany within a significantly strengthened NATO — all without firing a shot. The achievement showed the Bush team at its best: Scowcroft’s expertise in strategic nuclear forces allowed Bush to preserve American deterrence while diminishing the Russian threat; Baker was perhaps the best negotiator (with Kissinger and Dean Acheson) ever to serve as secretary of state, and he was also a master at the art of communicating to multiple audiences; and Bush had just the right experience and temperament to impart overall guidance while building trust with foreign leaders.

In these areas and more, the Bush administration pursued maximalist, transformative goals with the right mix of power and political support (both at home and abroad) to see the process through to fruition. In coordinating these efforts, Scowcroft proved himself a model fixer and counselor.

The one thing Scowcroft was not, however, is what the title of this biography suggests he was: a strategist. The Bush-Scowcroft penchant for “prudence” often amounted to an intelligent and historically informed version of Barack Obama’s “Don’t do stupid stuff,” and hardly brought us closer to a grand strategy for the post–Cold War era. . . .

It’s possible to disagree with Scowcroft and the presidents he served. But it’s impossible to deny the diligence and intelligence with which George H. W. Bush’s foreign-policy team pursued its goals, the number of things large and small that it got right, and the number of mistakes avoided. Scowcroft was an essential piece in an administration that accomplished something we haven’t seen since: They gave people the general impression that they knew what they were doing, and that the world was safer in their hands.

Read the rest here.

The Economy

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

Workers assemble Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles at the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., February 2, 2012. (Frank Polich/Reuters)

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t?

The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have shareholders all over the world; the Alabama-made Mercedes is sold by a company based in Stuttgart; Jeeps are manufactured by an Amsterdam-based company run by Italians with its main financial office in London.

About 65 percent of the components of a Toyota Tundra pickup (made in San Antonio) are of North American origin; fewer than half the contents of a Chevy Silverado (sometimes made in Canada) are. Etc.


Twelve Things that Caught My Eye Today: Preparing for a Post-Roe World & More (August 7, 2020)


1. Emma Green: The Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement Prepares to Build a Post-Roe World

Bachelder agreed to financially back an SBA List test program in Georgia called PLAN—the Pregnancy and Life Assistance Network—that would compile and publicize resources already available to women dealing with unplanned pregnancies, modeled after a version of the program in Northern Virginia. In theory, it’s an ambitious effort to find common ground between hard-core anti-abortion-rights activists and people who want to help pregnant women but may not be convinced that abortion should be completely banned.

2. The Jewish Case Against Abortion

Whatever few differences there are between Jewish morality and Christian morality, the issue of abortion is not one of them. That is why the NCJW statement is a great distortion of both Judaism and Christianity. Indeed, those Jews and those Christians who endorse abortion have been overly influenced by a secularist culture that is in principle hostile to the morality taught by both these great, often overlapping, traditions. On questions like abortion and euthanasia, it is what the late Pope John Paul II called a “culture of death.” 

3. Kristen Day & Xavier Bisits: The Democrats Biden Doesn’t Want

The Democrats of 2020 will barely give a thought to policies that make it easier for women to choose life, such as government-funded hospital care for women giving birth, or palliative care for infants with prenatal diagnoses. Such policies, previously central to Democratic values, violate the core tenet that “abortion is normal.”

4. BBC: Beirut Explosion

What’s really noticeable as you walk the streets here is that every second person seems to have a broom in their hand. There are clear-up teams everywhere, but it’s pretty low tech: tiny teams of people with pans and brushes to clean up an entire city’s devastation.

5. Michael Gerson: Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm the developing world

Across Africa, health systems are already fragile. Covid-19 is like a battering ram against a paper wall. In crowded slums, the exhortation to socially distance is a cruel joke. And most African countries are already dealing with an assortment of deadly infectious diseases that are infinitely complicated by the addition of a new one.

6. Steven D. Mosher: Catholicism a Casualty of China’s New Cultural Revolution

It is not merely that the CCP is suspicious of, or even hostile to, religious faith in China, although it is certainly both. Rather, it is the case that the party conceives of itself as a secular religion and is determined to impose that religion on the people of China by deploying all of the considerable resources that a hi-tech, one-party dictatorship has at its disposal. This is the environment in which Catholic bishops, priests and laity are forced to operate in today’s China. It is an environment of constant propaganda, surveillance and intrusion by hostile agents of the state. 

7. Stephen P. White: Waiting for the McCarrick Report

The longer the McCarrick report is delayed, the longer the open wound of distrust between the flock and the shepherds will fester.

This distrust, by the way, is damaging to the faithful and to the Church as a whole. It is also damaging to those whose names have been tainted by their proximity to McCarrick – men who, if they are innocent of wrongdoing, deserve to have their names cleared.

8. Crux: Pope says fighting clerical abuse fosters deeper respect for life

“Fighting abuse [means] fostering and empowering communities so that they are capable of keeping watch and announcing that all life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most defenseless who do not have the resources to make their voice heard,” Francis wrote.

9. We need to talk about what school closures mean for kids with disabilities

For a lot of families of kids with disabilities, virtual learning this spring “meant nothing,” Maria Hernandez, executive director of the nonprofit VELA, which helps parents in the Austin, Texas, area navigate special education for their kids, told Vox. “It meant one phone call; it meant one packet.”

And now, parents worry about a fall with more of the same uncertainty over whether schools will be able to provide from a distance the resources their kids need. At the same time, some students with disabilities also have underlying conditions and complex medical needs that make the physical reopening of schools a frightening prospect.

10. Fr. Wilson D. Miscamble: Mayor Pete at Notre Dame

The Buttigieg appointment illustrates that the university’s leadership has embraced a defective understanding of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission. Anyone can see that the Church suffers from significant challenges in restoring trust after the failure to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis, and a properly constructed course on “trust,” taught by someone with convictions in line with the Catholic faith, could do much good. But that is not what Our Lady’s university has chosen to do.

11. Susan Codone: Public Theology Isn’t Just for Academics

When I was given an opportunity to speak directly to the church culture that silenced me, I unearthed a deeply held personal theology of trauma—that my relationship with God rests upon his grace alone, and that he redemptively rescues and restores me from suffering I’ve experienced by the abuse of power.

12. The Washington Post: He asked to play a piano at a store. His performance went viral, and the owner gave him his first piano. 



Will Joe Biden Put Down the Rosary Beads and Respond?

Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., June 1, 2020. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The presumptive Democrat nominee, former senator, and, so says Politico, “devout Catholic [who] has recited Scripture on the 2020 campaign trail and is known to carry rosary beads in his pocket,” has been challenged by CatholicVote to do something that should come easily to any devout Catholic, indeed to devout non-Catholics: “publicly condemn the disturbing attacks on Catholic saints, symbols, churches, statues, and beliefs that lately have become commonplace, even from within his own party.”

That’s from a statement put out this week by the . . .  devout . . . Catholic organization (its agenda is pro-life, traditional marriage, religious freedom, subsidiarity, and pro-1776). Despite its origin and its confrontational political nature, the statement makes a fair request of someone who seeks to be president, especially at a time when there are plentiful public (albeit largely media-ignored!) acts of desecration and destruction targeting Things Catholic. More from CatholicVote president Brian Burch:

Catholic churches across America are literally burning, and Joe Biden has said nothing. Leading members of the Democratic Party have fueled a climate of hate against Catholics, and these attacks have now led to acts of vandalism and violence. These attacks on the Church raise serious questions about the commitment of Joe Biden, a self-professed Catholic, to stand up to the rising climate of anti-Catholicism across the country.

Burch had better watch himself: Back in 2005, when Biden was contemplating another presidential bid, and was faced with the Devout Question, he told a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, “The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious, I’m going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.”

But will he clear his own to condemn the spate of church burnings and vandalizations, or the desecrations, among others, of Marian statues in Massachusetts and Saint Junipero Serra statues in California, or the vandalizing of churches? And then there are those political attacks, such as AOC’s demand for the removal of the Capitol statue of the sainted “leper priest,” Fr. Damien of Molokai, and attacks on federal judicial nominees such as Brian Buescher, who was a threat to the Republic because he was a member (hold the Tootsie Rolls!) of the Knights of Columbus.

That particular stunt (there were others, including one against Judge Amy Coney Barrett) was led by Kamala Harris (at the time taken to the woodshed by Kathryn Jean Lopez), now said to be Biden’s likely choice as a ticket mate. So let’s not count on any anti-anti-Catholic statement from Biden (currently preoccupied with untangling his comments about black diversity). But do count on CatholicVote’s commencing, next week, an ad campaign hitting Biden for his silence.

At some point there was no bait to take: There could have been some decent electoral upside for Biden to shore up and polish those flimsy devout credentials. Political blessings and inoculations would have been had if he had condemned this (condemnable) spate of ugliness directed. He could have stuck to the acts of violence, and ignored criticizing his partisan comrades, and still have scored points. You can imagine a Biden statement, evolving into yarns about some old nun who said Little Joe was her favorite student, and the time as an altar boy that he dropped a candle, all of it ending with a threat to punch the lights out of anyone who might try to spray-paint a statue at his parish. But now Biden has afforded his political foes an opportunity to caste him as afraid to defend his own faith against vandals and hoodlums. Which, it seems, he is. Well, I for one will be devout in following this story.

Regulatory Policy

Regulatory Overreach Ahead?

An eagle tops the Federal Reserve building facade in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Dodd–Frank bill passed in 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, in which the major commercial and investment banks were ground zero. The banks were the major lenders and mortgage originators in the housing crisis; their balance sheets were riddled with the toxic assets; they were each other’s counter parties in a slew of transactions; and the capital holes on their balance sheets were the source of the financial system’s misery. Policy prescriptions (TARP, and the Fed’s endeavors) were largely driven by the need to plug those banks’ capital holes. Post-crisis legislative efforts were allegedly driven by the need to better regulate those entities (the final result was not exactly on target).

The COVID market swoon of March was pandemic-driven, and it’s harder to find a culprit to blame for that. That said, there are increasing calls for some Fed or policy response to deal with so-called “non-bank lenders.” Whether it is hedge funds, money market funds, or non-bank lenders (mortgage servicers), there are a host of non-traditional financial actors who are clearly becoming targets for increased regulation. As is almost always the case, the various bumps and bruises that took place in March involving the different categories of financial actor listed above have no relation to one another, yet are now being all stirred together into one (unhelpful) conversation.

I expect the Fed to be the ultimate arbiter as to where the problems may be (or not) in shadow finance, and I expect the Fed will conclude that non-traditional liquidity providers are an important part of our financial ecosystem. That said, our financial system is leveraged, it always has been, and it always will be. Therefore, in moments of peak distress, we will see what we saw in March again — the exacerbation of distress — no matter what any regulator says or does.


The Most Likely Path to a GOP Senate Majority


On the homepage, I take a look at the GOP’s most realistic path to retaining the Senate majority in November:

  1. Gain Alabama.
  2. Lose Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona.
  3. Hold Maine and all other competitive races. 

Susan Collins is down four points in public polls, but private GOP polling shows her up. And fresh public polls released this week show Republicans leading in Montana and Iowa.

Fiscal Policy

COVID-Relief Talks March On, Slowly


Last week I wrote a piece and a blog post about the effort to extend COVID relief. A $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, but Senate Republicans waited until the last minute to introduce a proposal, and there was a $2 trillion gap between that proposal and the bill the House Democrats had passed.

A week later, the two sides are still slowly working their way to a compromise, as CNBC reports:

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that during a Thursday night meeting she offered to cut her desired aid price tag by $1 trillion if Republicans increased the size of their plan by $1 trillion. The Trump administration declined, she said.

Pelosi added that she could cut back spending by making some programs expire earlier than originally proposed. House Democrats passed a roughly $3 trillion relief package in May, and Republicans last week proposed a bill that costs about $1 trillion.

Neither House nor Senate Democrats would accept legislation that puts “south of $2 trillion” into the pandemic response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. Entering Pelosi’s office, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said boosting the cost of the GOP plan by $1 trillion is a “non-starter,” making it unclear where the sides could find common ground.

After the more than three-hour meeting Thursday night, Pelosi, Schumer, Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows painted a dismal picture of aid talks that have accomplished little over a week and a half.

Yikes. I noted in my original piece that a $2 trillion gap might be difficult to close, but I wasn’t expecting things to drag on this long with key aid provisions expired.


More Trump Tariffs


President Trump has slapped tariffs on Canadian aluminum, citing its alleged dangers to national security. It’s a decision with a lot of downsides.

Canada has already promised retaliation.

The tariffs will harm American companies that use aluminum (including Whirlpool, which we have separate tariffs to help!).

It’s not a great time for higher taxes.

The tariffs undermine the administration’s supposedly great triumph in renegotiating NAFTA. Much of the benefit of that deal, according to the economic projections the administration cited, came from reducing uncertainty. Trump had been the source of that uncertainty, and the newly relabled USMCA has obviously not ended it.

The national-security pretext is, of course, absurd.

The tariffs make it even less likely that we would be able to lead an international response to Chinese trade abuses (not that the administration seems especially interested in doing so).

These tariffs will, of course, have benefits too. Previous steel and aluminum tariffs have been estimated to cost about $900,000 per job saved.

Law & the Courts

DC Circuit Rules McGahn Must Honor House Subpoena . . . but Not Necessarily Answer House’s Questions

Then-White House Counsel Don McGahn listens before the Senate Judiciary Committee, September 27, 2018. (Win McNamee/Pool via Reuters)

They say bad facts make bad law. But here is a case of bad law making bad facts.

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a rare ruling by the full court, held 7–2 that former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn must honor a House subpoena issued in connection with the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry.

Nevertheless, this does not decide the issue that is actually important: What questions must McGahn answer?

Some readers may recall that I flagged this issue last November. That’s when an Obama-appointed D.C. district court judge, Ketjani Brown Jackson, issued a tendentious, occasionally incoherent 120-page decision holding that McGahn must honor the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee chaired by Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), the Trump-impeachment crusader. Obviously, the Committee wants to question McGahn about some of the episodes outlined in Volume II of the Mueller Report, which outlines the prosecutors’ obstruction investigation.

For all the overwrought media coverage about how Judge Jackson had ordered that McGahn “must testify to Congress,” her opinion actually held only that McGahn must physically show up in the Capitol Hill hearing room — he couldn’t just blow off the subpoena. But McGahn was one of the president’s top advisers, the counsel who provided him with legal guidance; consequently, demands that he testify raised profound executive privilege and attorney-client privilege issues. In the litigation the parties sidestepped this essential aspect of the case, and Judge Jackson did not decide it.

The Trump Justice Department, like the Obama Justice Department before it (when fending off a House investigation of the Fast and Furious scandal), took the position that the court should stay out of this dispute between the political branches. The Constitution gives those branches, particularly Congress, their own arsenals for battling over access to executive information.

Earlier this year, a three-judge D.C. Circuit panel reversed Jackson, deciding in the Justice Department’s favor. It was a divided ruling, however, along partisan lines: two Republican-appointed judges in the majority, the Democratic-appointed judge dissenting. In March, the Circuit granted rehearing en banc (i.e., by all eleven Circuit judges not in senior status). This made for a near certainty that the panel would be reversed. Not only does the Circuit skew heavily Democratic (7-4 Democratic to Republican appointees); two of the judges (Neomi Rao and Gregory Katsas) are Trump appointees who worked in the administration and would recuse themselves.

The only possibility, it seemed, that the panel ruling could be upheld hinged on the Supreme Court. The justices were due, by the end of their term, to decide Trump v. Mazars, involving the same congressional committee’s attempt to enforce a subpoena seeking the president’s financial records from his accountant. There are salient differences, of course — in Mazars, the committee was seeking the president’s personal information from a non-government third-party, while McGahn involves presidential information from a former executive official. Still, if the Supreme Court had ruled in the president’s favor — if, in effect, it had said that the judiciary should stay out of such political-branch disputes) — the Trump Justice Department would be well-positioned to urge the D.C. Circuit that, a fortiori, McGahn was immune in light of the significant privilege issues.

As I outlined last month, the Court’s 7–2 ruling decided Mazars in the Judiciary Committee’s favor but, alas, did so in a maddening way.

The justices would not say the courts should butt out, and thereby encouraged this and future Congresses to issue fusillades of subpoenas to executive officials. Yet Chief Justice John Roberts’s hand-wringing majority opinion stressed that the president has vital interests in confidentiality that both Congress and courts must weigh in determining whether Congress’s oversight demands are really necessary and sufficiently narrow in scope.

In other words, it was a prescription for endless delay while the lower courts pore over these subpoenas under the justice’s elusive guidance . . . meaning if the interbranch conflicts are to be settled in less than a year or three, Congress and the Justice Department will have to negotiate . . . which is what they would and should have been doing anyway (and what they were doing for over two centuries before Mazars formally intruded the courts into the mix).

Mazars made today’s D.C. Circuit ruling inevitable . . . and an inevitable waste of time.

Thanks to these unhelpful decisions, we now know that, if Nadler forces the issue (he will), McGahn will have to physically show up in the Judiciary Committee hearing room. There, he will refuse to answer questions because the administration will have invoked executive and attorney-client privilege.

There will follow indignant speeches by Committee Democrats that Trump and McGahn are obstructing the House’s impeachment inquiry (you didn’t think that was over, did you?), and that the White House already waved privilege by letting McGahn be interviewed by Mueller. Committee Republicans will counter with indignant speeches about how Nadler is Captain Ahab in an endless quest for the great white impeachment whale, and that by permitting McGahn to cooperate with a special counsel of the executive branch, the White House did not wave privilege for purposes of congressional or judicial proceedings.

The recriminations will be aired in the district court, whose decision will be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit, whose panel will be reviewed by the court en banc, whose maze of opinions along party lines will end up back at the Supreme Court — which will no doubt provide additional, er, clarity.

By then, either Trump will be on his farewell tour or Biden will be wrapping up his first term, and no one will remember whether Democrats wanted to grill Don McGahn or just reclaim their time.


TikTok and Rough Sex


Women have taken to sharing images and videos on TikTok of their cuts and bruises endured during so-called “rough sex.” No doubt we have, among other things, the mainstreaming of sexual violence via PornHub to thank for this. Writing about the phenomenon for Ireland’s Independent, Emer O’Hanlon describes how “many men seem to consider rough sex such a common part of a normal sexual experience that they no longer feel it’s something for which they even need to ask consent.”

In a new TikTok challenge, women are even sharing post-coital videos of their bruised and cut limbs, in an attempt to emulate the recent Netflix kidnap-porn film, 365 Days. These aren’t small wounds – sometimes bruises are larger than the women’s handspans, as well as cuts that definitely go beyond surface level. One such video went viral across social media last week, and has been viewed more than 33 million times with nearly six million likes.


Where Is John Milius When You Need Him?

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

In the 1980s, during the height of the Cold War, there were a few patriotic creatives kicking around Hollywood, surprisingly enough. One of them was screenwriter and director John Milius. An outspoken conservative, man’s man, and writer’s writer, Milius was the genius behind Red Dawn — an NR favorite — and Conan the Barbarian.

Some other movies made during this time were overtly patriotic and anti-Communist, Rocky IV chief among them. The villain in this sequel, a genetically engineered Russian named Ivan Drago, kills legendary Apollo Creed in the first act. Rocky Balboa vows to avenge his friend’s death by taking the fight to the motherland and defeating Drago, a stand-in for the Soviet Union.

Sadly, today’s Hollywood is far from patriotic. Among other things, it lacks figures as stubbornly pro-American, or anti-Communist, as Milius. Today’s Hollywood is borderline anti-American, as major studios are content to be cowed into censorship by their business partners in Beijing and in the Chinese Communist Party.

On Wednesday, the left-of-center organization PEN America released a telling report on Hollywood’s relationship with the CCP, which is “creating a climate of self-censorship” in domestic studios.

“These concessions to the power of the Chinese market have happened mostly quietly, with little attention and, often, little debate. Steadily, a new set of mores has taken hold in Hollywood, one in which appeasing Chinese government investors and gatekeepers has simply become a way of doing business,” the report says.

It goes on, “We have developed this report on Beijing’s influence over Hollywood because we believe this influence cannot be ethically decoupled from the Chinese government’s practices of suppressing freedom of expression at home.”

Additionally, the report calls for more transparency in Hollywood’s dealing with government censors in China. The likelihood of this phenomenon increasing in the next few decades is high, if not guaranteed. Hollywood’s tentpole franchises sometimes make hundreds of millions more in the Chinese box office than domestically, and The Walt Disney Company has also opened a theme park in Shanghai.

As the Chinese box office continues to grow, and as the relationship between Hollywood and Beijing becomes even more lopsided, the pressures on Hollywood studios to accede to CCP censorship will only increase. Self-censorship will presumably only worsen. That is why we must have this conversation now, before acquiescence to Beijing’s censorship becomes even further normalized for Hollywood filmmakers.

It’s too bad John Milius has fizzled out at 76. Clint Eastwood is a longtime conservative who still makes excellent movies, even at 90. But when he goes, an era will go down with him, too. Gone is the decade when at least some — as opposed to barely any — filmmakers and producers had a bit of chutzpah, telling stories, however hokey or tacky, that took the high road against soul-crushing, Communist regimes. Hollywood will always need a Milius — or an Eastwood, for that matter. Anyone who’ll stand up for what’s right. Anyone who won’t sacrifice principles for paychecks and theme parks.

Politics & Policy

Nebraska and Colorado Mull New Abortion Restrictions


Earlier this week, proponents of a new pro-life bill in the Nebraska legislature overcame the filibuster to proceed to the next stage of debate. Legislative bill 814 would ban dilation and evacuation abortions, in which an unborn child is dismembered and removed from the womb in pieces.

Almost all second-trimester abortions performed in the U.S. use the D&E method, though sometimes the unborn child receives a lethal injection prior to dismemberment and removal, and sometimes vacuum suction is used instead of or in addition to tools used for dismemberment. The Nebraska bill would prohibit only D&E abortions performed on living fetuses and with the use of forceps rather than suction.

Like nearly all pro-life legislation, the bill would punish abortionists but would prevent women who obtained abortions from being charged.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, pro-lifers are preparing for a November vote on a ballot initiative that would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks’ gestation unless a physician deemed it necessary to save the mother’s life. There are currently no gestational restrictions on abortion in Colorado.

This effort is the fourth in Colorado to enact pro-life policy via ballot initiative over the last decade. In 2008 and 2010, there were ballot initiatives to define all unborn human beings as “persons” under state law; both measures failed by a margin of about 45 percent. In 2014, pro-lifers made a similar effort to define unborn children as “persons,” this time via an amendment to the state constitution. That effort failed by a 30-point margin.

If either measure in Nebraska or Colorado were to take effect, they would almost certainly face an immediate challenge from abortion proponents, who insist that U.S. jurisprudence requires that women have access to unlimited abortion on demand.


21st Century Press Releases


From my inbox:

Hi Kevin​​​​​​,

I hope you’re staying well! To promote The Satanic Temple’s (TST’s) religious abortion ritual, TST is raffling a free abortion in its campaign to advance religious reproductive rights. The abortion can be medical or surgical and is transferable upon request. Please see the press release below. Press kit attached. Please let me know if you’d like to schedule an interview. Thank you!

Warmest regards,

“Warmest regards,” indeed.

Law & the Courts

Faithless Electors and Constitutional Fidelity


Did the Supreme Court get the faithless-electors case wrong? “The originalist evidence that the states cannot influence or control the electors is overwhelming,” writes Mike Rappaport.

Update: Reader PJM writes:

If Michael Rappaport thinks the originalist evidence for his view is overwhelming, he would have done well to include some of that overwhelming evidence in his piece.  The evidence he provides is extremely weak and little more than conclusory statements.
He rebuts Kagan’s Soviet election analogy, which I agree is weak, but he completely ignores her first example, which deals with voting by proxy.  That’s a far better comparison, directly analogous to the voting of bound electors.  Proxies and other agents without discretion certainly “vote” and use “ballots.”
That Hamilton envisioned electors with independence also doesn’t add much.  No one argues that independent electors aren’t an option, and that may even have been viewed as the likely way it would work.  That’s far from a compelling case that the constitution commands it.
Finally, he doesn’t even begin to address Thomas’s 10th amendment argument, just (again in conclusory fashion) calling it misapplied in this case.
Do you think he made a strong case, or were you just highlighting a different take?

The truth is that I was focused on several other Supreme Court cases at the time this decision came out, and so haven’t read the opinions. As a matter of first impression I thought Rappaport made a strong case, but so does PJM.

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Trouble with the Curve

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Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More

Bloc Heads

Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More

Going after the Employers of Illegal Aliens

One year ago, ICE raided multiple chicken plants in Mississippi, arresting hundreds of illegal aliens. Dozens of them have been convicted of various federal crimes, such as identity theft and document fraud. But what about their employers? Simply arresting a bunch of illegals, and leaving it at that, is both ... Read More

Going after the Employers of Illegal Aliens

One year ago, ICE raided multiple chicken plants in Mississippi, arresting hundreds of illegal aliens. Dozens of them have been convicted of various federal crimes, such as identity theft and document fraud. But what about their employers? Simply arresting a bunch of illegals, and leaving it at that, is both ... Read More