World

Why Pelosi Did It, in Her Own Words

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Speaker Pelosi (D., Calif.) speaks at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 27, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Nancy Pelosi faced significant resistance to her Taiwan travel plans, from the White House to the Chinese foreign ministry. Senior administration officials sought to deter her from making the trip, briefing her on the risks, while Communist Chinese propagandists huffed and puffed about potentially shooting down the plane on which she would travel to Taiwan.

The House speaker landed this morning, defying the naysayers and, not for the first time in her career, sticking it to the Chinese Communist Party. But she did not do so as a provocation but rather to support the party’s apparent next intended victim.

In a Washington Post op-ed released after her landing in Taipei, she explained the rationale for her trip. Supporting Taiwan is, she wrote, about standing with its 23 million people “but also to millions of others oppressed and menaced by the PRC”:

Thirty years ago, I traveled in a bipartisan congressional delegation to China, where, in Tiananmen Square, we unfurled a black-and-white banner that read, “To those who died for democracy in China.” Uniformed police pursued us as we left the square. Since then, Beijing’s abysmal human rights record and disregard for the rule of law continue, as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on power.

The CCP’s brutal crackdown against Hong Kong’s political freedoms and human rights — even arresting Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen — cast the promises of “one-country, two-systems” into the dustbin. In Tibet, the CCP has long led a campaign to erase the Tibetan people’s language, culture, religion and identity. In Xinjiang, Beijing is perpetrating genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities. And throughout the mainland, the CCP continues to target and arrest activists, religious-freedom leaders and others who dare to defy the regime.

We cannot stand by as the CCP proceeds to threaten Taiwan — and democracy itself.

Pelosi gets it. Deterring the Chinese party-state calls for partnering with all its victims and targets — and deterring aggression early.

It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Americans are ultimately in the PLA’s crosshairs. For years, the party has exercised vast influence over American business and culture to soften U.S. impressions of its totalitarian rule. It has exploited U.S. financial markets to fuel its military buildup and transfer American tech toward those aims. Anything that begins in the Taiwan Strait will not end there, and deterrence, while it is still possible, remains Washington’s best option.

The Chinese Communist Party has already indicated that it will respond to Pelosi’s trip with fury. Chinese state media announced that the PLA will conduct live-fire exercises around Taiwan from August 4-7. Prior to Pelosi’s arrival, Beijing already announced a series of retaliatory trade measures. Hackers, presumably from the PLA, also took the Taiwanese president’s website offline for 20 or so minute this morning.

But again, this trip is not a provocation. Pelosi is traveling abroad, as is her prerogative as a member of Congress, and as plenty of lawmakers have done in recent months. Chinese officials are linking their military exercises and other threats to Pelosi’s visit, but only the Leninist zealots in Beijing are in the wrong here. Americans ought not forget that.

Elections

Eric Schmitt Has the Momentum in Missouri

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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks during a news conference a in Washington, D.C., April 26, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

It’s primary day in the Show Me State, and the closely watched battle between the top three contenders — Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, U.S. representative Vicky Hartzler, and scandal-plagued former governor Eric Greitens — for the GOP Senate candidacy draws to a close. According to the latest Trafalgar Group poll, Schmitt leads Eric Greitens by 13 points and Vicky Hartzler by 16 points. In a KMOV-TV/SurveyUSA poll conducted last week, Schmitt leads Greitens by eight points and Hartzler by 15 points.

Schmitt has made a name for himself as a fighter. “I am the real America First candidate,” Schmitt tells National Review in a written statement. If elected, Schmitt says that he will take a “blow torch to Biden’s radical agenda.”

Former president Trump issued an ambiguous endorsement of “ERIC” yesterday, publishing a statement from his Save America PAC. Dan McLaughlin called Trump’s move “cowardly and contemptible.” McLaughlin said, “Trump knows perfectly well how this will play, and that it allows him to claim a win later while putting nothing at risk, neither his skill at picking winners nor his standing with the transgressive voters who prefer Greitens precisely because he is a man of visibly bad character.”

Greitens tweeted in response, “I’m honored to receive President Trump’s endorsement. From the beginning, I’ve been the true MAGA Champion fighting against the RINO establishment backing Schmitt. President Trump said it best when he characterized Schmitt’s campaign as ‘great dishonesty in politics.’” Greitens has the backing of Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is the national co-chair of his Senate campaign and perhaps just as importantly, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr.

Schmitt also claimed the endorsement, tweeting, “I’m grateful for President Trump’s endorsement. As the only America First candidate who has actually fought for election integrity, border security & against the Left’s indoctrination of our kids — I’ll take that fight to the Senate to SAVE AMERICA!” 

Schmitt alluded to political corruption in Washington, D.C., saying, “Voters are tired of their elected officials lying to them and using their time in office to enrich their family.” Schmitt believes his record proves he is “the true conservative in this race who takes on the tough fights and does not back down.” 

Some Republicans are rallying behind Schmitt as they try to ensure that Greitens does not become the GOP Senate nominee in Missouri. Republicans, including Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, are donating money to the anti-Greitens Show Me Values PAC that is running TV ads against Greitens focused on the allegations of spousal abuse against him. The Show Me Values PAC has reported having spent almost $3.9 million to the FEC so far. According to the Independent, the vast majority of that money was spent on ads highlighting Greitens’s more recent scandals and accusing him of being soft on China.

For his part, Schmitt doesn’t mince words when describing his opponents. Greitens, in Schmitt’s view, “quit on our state and abused his wife and kid. He quit on Missouri once and will quit on Missouri again when the work becomes too hard and the pressure too much for him to handle.” 

Eric Greitens was leading the pack until June, when Schmitt started beating him in the polls. Greitens, as Schmitt alluded to, is mired in scandals. He resigned from the governor’s office only one and a half years into his term after he was found to be having an affair with a hairdresser whom he allegedly threatened to blackmail with nude photos if she exposed their relationship to the public. While Greitens acknowledges the affair took place, he denies blackmailing the hairdresser. Greitens was charged with a felony for the blackmail scandal as well as with a felony for improperly taking a donor list from a non-profit that he created to use in his campaign for governor. Moreover, this spring, Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, filed a sworn affidavit that Eric had assaulted her and their three-year-old son. The criminal charges against Greitens have been dropped, and he claims he has been exonerated. 

In June, Greitens released a highly contentious campaign ad that showed him going “RINO [Republican In Name Only] hunting.” In the ad, Greitens holds a shotgun and says, “The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice.” Schmitt told NR that, based on that ad, Greitens “should seek professional help.” 

Schmitt says he has aggressively taken on the Biden administration and liberal policies as attorney general, although many lawsuits he has filed have been unsuccessful. He attempted to sue China over Covid-19. Schmitt sued 47 school districts in Missouri for mandating masks in the classroom. He also filed a lawsuit against St. Louis just last week for passing an ordinance to assist women in getting abortions out of state. Furthermore, Schmitt has filed a number of lawsuits regarding vaccine mandates and immigration. Schmitt touted his record as attorney general to NR: “I have beaten back Joe Biden’s radical open-border policies, stopped attempts to stifle free speech, sued to end Fauci’s COVID mandates, fought for election integrity, stood up to China, and much more.”

The momentum seems to be with Schmitt leading into today’s election. Trump’s strange endorsement of “ERIC” — which voters can interpret any way they please — will probably not make much of a difference, but like Trump, it’s another wild card. “We need more reinforcements in Washington willing to fight for their constituents,” says Schmitt. “I have a record of fighting and winning for our freedom and for Missouri families.” 

Politics & Policy

Kansas Votes on Abortion and the State Constitution Today

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A sign reading “Value Them Both Amendment” is seen hanging on a door in Lenexa, Kansas City, Kansas, July 12, 2022. (Gabriella Borter/Reuters)

Three years ago, the Kansas supreme court held that the state’s constitution prohibited a state law generally banning the most common second-trimester abortion procedure (dilation and evacuation) in which a baby’s body is torn apart in the womb. The state supreme court declared in 2019 that the state constitution had created a “fundamental” right to abortion in 1859 with language echoing the Declaration of Independence: “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Today, Kansas voters head to the polls to vote on the “Value Them Both” amendment, which says that the Kansas constitution “​​does not create or secure a right to abortion.” If the amendment passes, the legislature would be able to enact legislation limiting or generally banning abortion in the state.

Polling has been sparse, but the most recent public survey showed a close race with 47 percent supporting the amendment, 43 percent opposed, and 10 percent undecided. Although Joe Biden lost the state in 2020 by 14 points, a Democrat was elected governor in Kansas in 2018 by five points, and today’s vote could go either way.

World

The Scene in Taipei

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Demonstrators gather in support of Speaker Pelosi’s visit, in Taipei, Taiwan, August 2, 2022. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Taiwan’s TVBS News reports, ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s expected arrival in Taipei:

An open-source flight tracking website says that her ETA is later this morning Eastern time (around 10:40 p.m. in Taiwan):

Music

Crazy Dreams

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Paul Brady (NR Illustration; Photo Credits: Bryan Ledgard/Wikimedia Commons, Mark Mingle/Unsplash)

I’m on a bit of a Paul Brady kick since his famous album with Andy Irvine was re-released on vinyl. I thought I’d share this 1980 clip of a younger Paul Brady singing “Crazy Dreams”:

And then this 2015 version.

White House

Why Is the White House Quietly Griping about Zelensky Now?

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speak with reporters after returning from their trip to Kyiv and meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, near the Ukraine border, in Poland, April 25, 2022. (Alex Brandon/Pool via Reuters)

Which Biden administration official is leaking to the New York Times’ Tom Friedman that the White House doesn’t trust Volodymyr Zelensky?

The timing could not be worse. Dear reader: The Ukraine war is not over. And privately, U.S. officials are a lot more concerned about Ukraine’s leadership than they are letting on. There is deep mistrust between the White House and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky — considerably more than has been reported.

And there is funny business going on in Kyiv. On July 17, Zelensky fired his country’s prosecutor general and the leader of its domestic intelligence agency — the most significant shake-up in his government since the Russian invasion in February. It would be the equivalent of Biden firing Merrick Garland and Bill Burns on the same day. But I have still not seen any reporting that convincingly explains what that was all about. It is as if we don’t want to look too closely under the hood in Kyiv for fear of what corruption or antics we might see, when we have invested so much there. (More on the dangers of that another day.)

Your mileage may vary, but I see two possible motives here. Possibility one is that the Biden administration just wants the Ukraine-Russia war to end, and Zelensky isn’t playing ball, so the administration is getting ready to leave Zelensky hanging out to dry. Possibility two is that the administration foresees the Ukraine-Russia war going badly, and is preparing to use Zelensky as a scapegoat. They’re laying the groundwork to argue, “we did everything we could to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, but in the end, they were too incompetent, too corrupt, and too beset by infighting.”

Remember, on the campaign trail, Biden offered tough talk about Russia — “Putin knows that when I am president of the United States, his days of tyranny and trying to intimidate the United States and those in Eastern Europe, are over.”

But once Biden was in office, he emphasized that he wanted “a stable, predictable relationship” with Russia. “Throughout our long history of competition, our two countries have been able to find ways to manage tensions and to keep them from escalating out of control.” For a president who once sounded so bellicose towards Putin, Biden sure sought out new areas of agreement. Biden almost immediately accepted Putin’s offer to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five yearsdropped U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline making Europe more dependent upon Russian energy exports, declined to pursue Putin’s personal wealth through sanctions, increased U.S. imports of Russian oil, and canceled the Keystone Pipeline. Biden did not arrive in the Oval Office itching for a fight with Russia.

Joe Biden now finds himself in a proxy war with Russia, and he never wanted to be in one. Before Russia invaded, he let slip that a “minor incursion” might not trigger a full U.S. or NATO response. Biden sees the mounting consequences of the Russian invasion – higher energy and food prices, a global famine, a potential cold winter for western Europe – and probably just wants to get out of this mess; if Ukraine has to make some territorial concessions, well, the U.S. was never that interested in who controlled the Donbas region anyway.

U.S.

In These United States

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Mötley Crüe members (L-R) Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, and Nikki Sixx pose for cameras during a photo session following a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 19, 2005. (Toru Hanai / Reuters)

My Impromptus column today is headed “Back to 9/11, &c.” The subheading says, “On conspiracy theories, a brave Iranian exile, nuclear power, Fidel Ramos, Bill Russell, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, tampons in the men’s room, and more.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. “Tampons in the men’s room”? Yes. I could not help snapping a photo (which is in my column). A basket of tampons, thoughtfully placed at the sinks.

This men’s room was on a college campus, which is perhaps unsurprising.

Anyway, our Judd Berger said he was reminded of a Mötley Crüe hit, from 1985: “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room.” “Tampons in the Men’s Room” does not have exactly the same ring — but maybe some creative types could make something of it.

Pause for a language note? The dots in “Mötley Crüe” are even stranger than those in “Häagen-Dazs.”

Let’s have some reader mail. In response to my piece yesterday on Marilyn Horne, the legendary singer, a reader writes,

Dear Jay,

. . . I had the privilege of attending a few of her master classes. Now when I hear singers, I ask myself, “What would MH say?”

Another reader writes,

Jay,

. . . My discovery of Marilyn Horne was in college, when I became a convert to classical music and something of an autodidact on the subject, with Harold C. Schonberg’s lives of the great conductors never too far away. I couldn’t resist splurging for the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Carmen, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, and it remains a favorite recording to this day.

Horne sings the title character on that recording.

In recent weeks, I have published various notes on Americanism (the general subject of). A reader writes,

Hi, Jay,

I had let my NR subscription expire so I renewed it today and got caught up on all the great info NR has to offer. When I read what you said about Americanism, I went to my Facebook archives from 5/8/20 to copy and paste something. This takes place in Houghton/Hancock, Mich. Today’s America could use a unifying victory.

Houghton and Hancock are twin cities in the Upper Peninsula. This is what our reader wrote, on the eighth of May, 2020:

Today is the 75th anniversary of V-E Day — victory in Europe, when what was left of the German government surrendered to the Allies. My oldest uncle, Bob, was 8 years old and the family was living in the Houghton/Hancock area when the church bells began to ring and the sirens started to blow. People gathered in the streets to find out what was going on, and when they heard the news, it was as if a big weight had been lifted off the American psyche. Soon the gas coupons would vanish and the victory gardens where the Copper Country Mall is now would not need to be weeded.

Stay in Michigan, for a note on an item I had in a recent column. Jim Harbaugh, by the way, is the coach of the University of Michigan football team, and a former NFL quarterback — and a former U of M quarterback. (And one of my oldest friends. We met in fifth grade.)

Writes a reader,

Jay —

. . . As a dyed-in-the-wool Buckeye — scarlet and gray — it pains me to praise Jim Harbaugh — he was Michigan’s quarterback during my nascent years at THE Ohio State University — but he has been raised in my esteem due to his unabashedly pro-life comments. I agree with you: Let Jim be Jim. And I look forward to beating Michigan by four touchdowns in Columbus in November.

Finally,

Hi, Jay:

Just so you know, the Indiana State Fair will be opening a brand-new air-conditioned Swine Barn! Yes — Hamps, Durocs, and all the others will be basking in air-conditioned Hoosier air. It don’t git no better than that!

I expect to see you at the fair next summer . . .

Hog heaven.

P.S. The heading over this blogpost is an homage to Reader’s Digest, which had a feature called “Life in These United States.”

Culture

‘Hey, Kid, Get a Job’

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(semenovp/iStock/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, the New York Times published an excellent opinion from Pamela Paul arguing why teenagers should get a job. She argues that the most valuable thing a high-school-age individual can do is work because some worthwhile lessons will benefit them beyond the material advantage of income. 

Paul lists the insights, which are as follows:

“Being good at school doesn’t mean being good at work.”

“Being fired isn’t the end of your career — and neither is quitting.

“You learn what it’s like to make minimum wage.”

“You’re being paid for your time.”

“Promotions aren’t automatic.”

“Bosses can behave badly.

“Being in a workplace means working with people who aren’t like you.”

“Not everyone is as lucky as you are.”

“Boredom comes with the job.

“School skills can be acquired outside of school.

All of this is true, and it’s heartening to see a columnist at the Times speak in favor of honest labor. Teenagers should work, especially if they have naught else to do. Anything that takes them away from the desultory existences that so many have lived post-Covid, wasting away before screens, would be a blessing. 

But I don’t think she’s right to dismiss extracurriculars (she suggests focusing too much on things such as student government are more for burnishing college applications). Rather, like in adulthood, kids should do one or the other, or both. Extracurricular activities are those organic bonds that make a schooling institution more than a dismal box where academics are attempted for a third of the day. 

Sports, clubs, and productions foster community and buy-in from all ages and interests. I’d hate to see these things dropped so that Wendy’s has a few more kids working the till. Instead, the ones I want working are the kids who go straight from school to their empty homes at 3:15 p.m. and spend the next eight to twelve hours consuming unfiltered media. 

If I ran the zoo, here’s what I’d do: All students age 14 or older are required to take part in an afterschool activity, watch siblings, or have proof of employment. The greatest danger to a teen is himself, so we keep him so busy with activities and work that he arrives home exhausted. 

While such an edict is unlikely to be allowed in a public school, for any private institution, why not go for it? With the expansion of school vouchers and choice, why not tie an activities requirement into enrollment? For parents, such a thing would mean that their kids are no longer latchkey but instead at school or work until an adult is home. For kids whose parents are largely absent, the activities requirement has a bonus of further socialization with responsible adults like coaches, directors, and managers.

Pamela Paul’s piece is a good one. But I think her point lauding pubescent labor is dwarfed by the greater need for our most energetic and temperamental citizens to be engaged in society in any way possible, finding healthy outlets for their very natural anxieties, aggression, and inexperience.

Economy & Business

The Vast Economic Wreckage the Statists Have Caused

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In this Brownstone Institute essay, Jeffrey Tucker contemplates the economic harm that’s been inflicted on the U.S. since the lockdowns began in 2020. Since then, it has been one blow after another, administered by Congress, the White House, and the federal bureaucrats.

Here is a slice:

Think of a criminal band that has entered a majestic home. They are grabbing as much as they can before the owners come home. If it is not nailed down, it is going straight into the satchels and put on the truck to be carted away.

Actually, it is worse than that. What Congress is doing today with its out-of-control trillions in spending is robbing generations hence of a chance for prosperity. We will be left holding almost nothing to hand on to our kids and grandkids. Most of all, what’s being stolen is hope for the future.

Read the whole thing.

Stalin used to complain about all the “wreckers” who were responsible for keeping his Five-Year Plans from bringing prosperity when in fact the problem was the plans. Today, Biden, Schumer, Pelosi et al. are imposing their own planning visions on us, and the damage is enormous.

Elections

Donald Trump’s Hilariously Indecisive Missouri Endorsement

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From left: Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens; former President Donald Trump at a rally in Ohio in April; Missouri attorney general and Senate candidate Eric Schmitt campaigns in Sikeston, Mo., July 30, 2022. (Greitens campaign image via Facebook; Gaelen Morse/Reuters; Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

While Vicky Hartzler has run a valiant campaign and would be a fine senator, tomorrow’s Missouri Senate Republican primary has narrowed to a choice between Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens. The choice, for anyone who cares about conservative policy, Republican partisan interests, or conscience, decency, or character in public office is obvious: Eric Schmitt is far superior to Eric Greitens.

Donald Trump has weighed in, and he is hedging his bets. He endorsed “ERIC”:

Schmitt accepted:

So did Greitens:

As a piece of Kodos-or-Kang performance art on Trump’s part, this was brilliantly hilarious. As an act of serious statesmanship, it was cowardly and contemptible. Trump knows perfectly well how this will play, and that it allows him to claim a win later while putting nothing at risk, neither his skill at picking winners nor his standing with the transgressive voters who prefer Greitens precisely because he is a man of visibly bad character.

On the outside looking in, Trump is still funny. But he should leave governing to the adults.

Politics & Policy

The PACT Attack

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Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) speaks during hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2020. (Alex Wong/Reuters)

Democrats have been pounding Republicans for the last few days for supposedly betraying veterans. Republican senators have not allowed a final vote on the PACT Act, which expands treatment for veterans exposed to burn pits during their service, because they want an amendment — even though the same bill passed the Senate in June with 84 votes.

The issue is complicated, and not everyone who has been talking about it in public has seemed to be in command of the facts.

Here’s what the Republican objectors, led by Senator Pat Toomey (Pa.), have right: The bill, as written, effectively loosens the caps on discretionary spending by $390 billion. The Congressional Budget Office said so shortly before the June vote. That means it would be easier procedurally to spend an additional $390 billion — not on veterans’ health care, not even on a “VA slush fund” that has entered this confused debate, but on anything. Adopting Toomey’s amendment, as he has repeatedly explained, would not cut veterans’ benefits by one dollar.

Here’s what the Democrats have right: This objection applied to the June bill, too, and most Republicans — thinking, at the time, that it would be moving quickly to the president’s desk — voted for it anyway.

There are two theories to explain the Republican behavior. The theory that progressives have been advancing for the last few days is that Republicans have turned their backs on veterans out of pique at the Democrats’ increased likelihood of passing a big spending bill thanks to the Manchin–Schumer agreement, or just to be cruel.

An alternative theory is that Republicans other than Toomey were slow to grasp the implications of the bill for the discretionary caps and want, as they say, to amend the bill to fix the problem. The fact that the issue continues to be widely misunderstood lends some plausibility to this theory. So does the fact that the amendment Toomey is offering wouldn’t cut spending on veterans. So does the fact that while Republicans have indulged in some mostly foolish speculation about retaliation for the Manchin–Schumer deal, they have not been talking about holding up the PACT Act for that reason, let alone coordinating a vote for that purpose. And so, finally, does the fact that such retaliation would be politically insane.

Nobody (that I’ve seen) has quite ventured the argument that there’s something wrong with Republicans’ changing their votes close to the last minute even if their objection is sincere and factually based. But I don’t think there’s a no-takebacks principle that’s worth $390 billion.

White House

Biden Math

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said today, “We are currently experiencing the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade”:

Moreover, since their peak in June, gas prices have fallen 81 cents per gallon, according to Jean-Pierre. Great news! Except that the current average price per gallon is still a hefty $4.212 per gallon. In California, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada, and Washington, the average price of regular gas is over $5 per gallon. This year, the highest average price per gallon, recorded on June 14, was $5.016.

The Biden administration doesn’t seem to realize that a fast decline is relative and only possible when its policies have essentially driven up prices to such an extent that a substantial drop still leaves the public paying a lot at the pump.

One Twitter user had a simple but apt analogy:

This gas gift is almost as good a deal as last summer, when the Biden administration hailed the fact that Americans could save 16 cents on their July Fourth cookout from the previous year.

Culture

Silence Is Okay, Actually

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A row of townhouse apartment buildings in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. (lightphoto/Getty Images)

Xochitl Gonzalez’s essay in the Atlantic today, “Why Do Rich People Love Quiet?” (subtitle, “The sound of gentrification is silence”), frames the author’s experience in moving from a noisy minority neighborhood to a quieter, wealthy white college campus as evidence of pervasive class- and race-based oppression: “It took me years to understand that, in demanding my friends and I quiet down, these [wealthy white] students were implying that their comfort superseded our joy,” Gonzalez writes. “Some white students resented that we self-segregated. What they didn’t understand was that we just wanted to be around people in places where nobody told us to shush.”

When the author returned to Brooklyn after college, she was dismayed to find that the community was quieter than it had been during her childhood. That, too, was unforgivable: “Now the foreigners had come to my shores, with no intention of leaving. And they were demanding that the rest of us change to make them more comfortable.” Gonzalez continues:

I find many city noises nerve-racking and annoying: jackhammers doing street maintenance, the beeping of reversing trucks, cars honking for no good reason. Yet these noises account for a small minority of all noise complaints. Nearly 60 percent of recent grievances center on what I’d consider lifestyle choices: music and parties and people talking loudly. But one person’s loud is another person’s expression of joy. 

What is there to say about an essay like this? Some arguments are too absurd to address at length; by quibbling with every dubious line, one is taking the premise more seriously than it deserves. But two things stand out: First, the hilariously racist assumption that undergirds Gonzalez’s piece — that minorities are, as a totalizing generalization, loud. (Has she spent much time in New York’s Asian neighborhoods?) And second, the insistence that every community should be loud to validate Gonzalez and her friends. Ironically, this is the inverse of what she accuses her white classmates of: Gonzalez resents that “their comfort superseded our joy.” In response, she insists that her preferred mode of communication supersede theirs. 

The author assails noise ordinances and “quiet please” signs as an affront to her very identity. (“I had thought these were the sounds of poverty, of being trapped. I realized, in their absence, that they were the sounds of my identity, turned up to 11.”) In reality, different communities have different identities and styles — some may be louder, others quieter. The expectation that one abides by the rules and norms of a particular community while being a part of it isn’t oppression. It’s basic manners. 

The British philosopher Michael Oakeshott once said, on a political impulse that he describes as “anti-individualism”: “The determined ‘anti-individual’” is “intolerant not only of superiority but of difference, disposed to allow in all others only a replica of himself, and united with his fellows in a revulsion from distinctness.” Most of us are capable of living with some amount of distinctiveness and difference. Gonzalez, it appears, isn’t.

World

Now It’s the Irish Farmers’ Turn

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Farmers protest in Dublin, Ireland, January 15, 2020 (Lorraine O'Sullivan/Reuters)

Over the weekend, I noted how, undaunted by the uproar in the Netherlands over the impact on farmers of rules limiting nitrogen emissions, Canada’s government was now looking to go down a similar route.

Well, I should have mentioned Ireland, too.

The Financial Times (July 28):

Ireland’s coalition government has reached a bitterly contested deal to slash climate emissions from the country’s key agriculture sector by 25 per cent by 2030.

That level is significantly higher than the 22 per cent farmers had hoped for but below an initial target sought by Dublin of up to 30 per cent.

Eamon Ryan, environment minister and Green party leader, called it “a significant step in the right direction” while agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue said the cuts were “challenging” but achievable.

Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, called the 25 per cent cut a “massive, massive ask” that could cost farmers €2bn a year and said the government had outlined no budget to help them achieve it. . . .

Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, said the agreement made “whole classes of farms unviable” and would push up prices.

He added: “Our livestock industry — both dairy and beef — is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today.”

Cullinan said: “This deal between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green party is all about the survival of the government rather than survival of rural Ireland.”

“It’s really impossible to see how we can achieve targets beyond 22 [per cent] without reducing herds — and that’s an income issue for us,” said Brian Rushe, a dairy farmer.

A reduction in the size of herds is very likely to mean higher prices. Add that to the greenflation pile.

One argument that some environmentalists like to use is that a number of their ideas are inherently conservative. When they make that case, they stress the word conservation. I understand that argument, although it’s not one that I am convinced by. But conservatives attracted to that line of thinking might like to note one sentence included in the extract above:

“Our livestock industry — both dairy and beef — is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today.”

Inflicting severe damage upon that way of life does not strike me as particularly conservative.

Meanwhile, the idea that the proposed changes in Ireland will make any difference to the global climate is laughable. It is made even more absurd by the insistence that it must be achieved by 2030, giving little time to make changes that might head off the cull.

In unrelated news (via CNBC):

China and Russia are in the final stages of building the first pipeline that can send gas from Siberia to Shanghai.

“Power of Siberia” — as the portion located in Russia is called — began delivering natural gas to northern China in December 2019, according to Chinese state media.

In China, the pipeline runs down the eastern side of the country, past the capital city of Beijing and down to Shanghai. The middle phase started operations in December 2020, and the final southern section is set to begin gas deliveries in 2025, state media said.

 

Media

Democrats Accuse Republicans of Heartlessness over Vet Bill, but Are Dems the Ones Exploiting Vets?

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Jon Stewart leaves the U.S. Capitol after lobbying lawmakers in Washington, D.C., October 21, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

If you have been paying attention to the mainstream media lately, you may have come away with the impression that Republicans happily voted against increasing health-care access for veterans who were exposed to burn pits while fighting America’s wars.

The media and Democratic activists were up in arms over a video showing Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) fist-bumping Senator Steve Daines (R., Mont.) after the Senate voted on the PACT Act. HuffPost called it “callous.” MSNBC’s Joy Reid sneered, “Video from the Senate floor shows those very Senators celebrating, shaking hands, and fist-bumping after denying health care to sick veterans.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took a similar attitude: Republicans get played. They’re so mad at Democrats they just like went out there onto the floor and they just like blocked this bill. Screw you . . . And then, Republicans celebrated . . . truly shameless stuff.” Left-wing political action committee MeidasTouch tweeted, “This is the fist bump everyone needs to be talking about.” 

In June, the bill, called the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act, was approved by the Senate 84–14. However, in a procedural vote last Wednesday, Republicans blocked the legislation, with a final vote of 55–42. Twenty-five Republicans who had approved the prior version of the bill voted against it in the procedural vote. Cruz pointed out why some Republicans voted against the bill: “What the dispute is about is the Democrats played a budgetary trick, which is they took $400 billion in discretionary spending and they shifted it to mandatory.”

Comedian Jon Stewart reacted to Republicans blocking the bill saying, “What Ted Cruz is describing is inaccurate, not true, bulls***.” Stewart continued, “It’s nonsense. There’s nothing in the bill that’s not related to veteran spending . . . There was no budgetary trick and it was always mandatory [spending] . . . There was no reason for them to switch the votes.” 

Stewart, of course, is wrong. Cruz debunked Stewart’s claims, telling him, “you’re wrong here”:

The bill gives a $400B blank check—separate from vets care—for unrelated pork that will supercharge inflation. I support the PACT Act & the $679.4B it would dedicate to vets. It’s ppl trying to use PACT to shovel more pork who are exploiting vets.

Cruz further pointed out that the Republicans made clear to the Democrats that if they passed Senator Pat Toomey’s (R., Penn.) amendment making the spending discretionary, the Republicans would have overwhelmingly voted for the bill. Cruz said that the Democrats “want to cram $400 billion in unrelated spending onto this bill that has nothing to do with veterans.”

Code of Vets, a veterans’ nonprofit organization, responded to Stewart as well, countering his claims:

Cruz and Code of Vets are right on point. The Democrats did change the spending from discretionary to mandatory in the PACT Act. Stewart is either ignorant or lying about that fact. The last thing America needs right now is another $400 billion in wasteful spending that will only drive up inflation. That Democrats and their media allies are gaslighting the public by smearing Republicans as cold-hearted and anti-veteran is a disgrace.

Education

Reply to Danielle Allen on Action Civics

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(STILLFX/Getty Images)

In response to A Civics Curriculum for the 21st Century

In a piece posted here at the Corner, Danielle Allen, Harvard political theorist and former Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts, claims that I mischaracterize her work on action civics. In particular, she says that, in contrast to the previously dominant model of action civics, her model “does not require an entire class to do the same project and does not direct students to particular issues.” Instead, she says, her model “supports individual choice of action project, viewpoint diversity in the classroom, and students learning to have productive conversations across lines of difference.”

Let’s have a look, then, at the Civics Project Guidebook published in 2019 as a teacher’s guide to leading action-civics projects. The guide is directed to teachers in Massachusetts in the wake of the state’s 2018 civics law, which established action civics in Massachusetts schools. Allen is listed as a member of the guidebook design team, and Harvard’s Democratic Knowledge Project, which Allen directs, is one of the guidebook’s sponsoring organizations.

The final case study in the guidebook (Case Study F: Police Accountability) bears directly on Allen’s claims in her response to me. The case is a teacher’s account of an action-civics project that had an entire class advocate for the expansion of a civilian police-review board. Read this case and you will see how profoundly the teacher influences the choice of project, despite ostensible student control.

Most disturbingly, the teacher acknowledges that “it was just as likely that a student in my class was the child of a police officer as it was that they knew someone who had experienced a racially biased law enforcement encounter.” Yet, by the teacher’s own admission, the entire class was forced into the same advocacy project, a topic that “not everyone was passionate about.”

By this teacher’s own account, we might have expected some students to do a “back the blue” project. Instead, all students were drafted into a project critical of police — a project the gist of which was effectively chosen by the teacher. If the entire class had to do a joint project, why not “back the blue,” with lagging enthusiasm by students more critical of police? We know why it never works out that way. You only need to read this case study to see the underlying bias that shapes the teacher’s direction of the entire project. Ostensibly, the teacher makes efforts to accommodate students who are pro-police. In reality, the teacher is looking for a project that will make it workable to draft even children of police into what is obviously a project critical of police.

Remember, this case is in a published guidebook designed to be presentable to a wide audience. The reality of teacher bias and collective pressure in action-civics projects is undoubtedly much rawer and more disturbing in the real world. Even so, this case is disturbing enough.

This guidebook is a Danielle Allen project. It is still up on the Internet. Allen says that her model does not “require” whole-class projects, but does it still allow for them? Are group projects now forbidden? Allen doesn’t say so. Think how tough it would be for a student to insist on an individual project when the teacher and at least a large part of the rest of the class are doing a group project. Teacher influence and peer pressure can easily push students into political actions they don’t truly understand or agree with. The teacher who wrote this case study claims to be catering to student diversity of opinion. To my eye, matters seem quite the opposite.

I believe that my characterization of Allen’s work on action civics is accurate. The Civics Project Guidebook she helped to design and sponsor — and that remains available to guide Massachusetts teachers — bears me out.

Note: Danielle Allen points out that the case study I cite in this piece was supplied by the action-civics group Generation Citizen, not by Allen’s Democratic Knowledge Project. As she notes, the Guidebook published by the Massachusetts Department of Education “fused” models from both groups. That is true. The case study I cite was not a direct product of Danielle Allen’s work, and I am happy to acknowledge that. Allen’s partnership with Generation Citizen is very much at stake in this dispute, however.

My original piece on Georgia — the piece to which Allen’s post was a reply — warned that, as governor, Stacey Abrams would “throw open Georgia’s doors to national action civics advocates such as iCivics, and to Danielle Allen’s other leftist allies in Massachusetts.” Generation Citizen, which joined with Allen’s Institute to help design the Massachusetts guide, is closely allied with Allen in other contexts as well. Allen’s Democratic Knowledge Project is part of the CivXNow coalition, of which Generation Citizen is another leading member. Moreover, Allen is a leading figure in the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) project, on whose Advisory Council sits Andrew Wilkes, senior director of policy and advocacy for Generation Citizen.

These formal ties are not mere tokens. On the contrary, I mentioned Allen in the first place because she has a prominent leadership role in EAD. Her work on EAD does much to advance the cause of action civics generally, and is deeply beneficial to the members of the various coalitions with which she is associated. Allen may have her personal twist on action civics, but that doesn’t prevent her from regularly advancing the interests of allies like Generation Citizen. Rather than restrict herself to one approach, Allen leads a coalition that includes the most radical action-civics advocates in the country. In fact, Allen’s leadership is useful precisely because she gives this leftist coalition a relatively moderate face. Don’t be fooled. My original warning was about Daniel Allen as a conduit to her “leftist allies” in the action-civics community. That warning very much stands.

Economy & Business

Yes, We’re in a Recession, So What Should the Government Do?

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

In his latest Town Hall column, Timothy Nash, director of the McNair Center at Northwood University, argues that the U.S. has definitely slid into a recession (although the Biden people might accuse him of peddling “misinformation”) and wants the federal government to face facts and act accordingly.

But acting accordingly does not mean raising taxes and imposing yet more regulation, as the president and his allies want. Instead, they should reduce the government’s drag on the economy by cutting taxes, repealing counterproductive regulations, and reducing federal spending.

Of course, Biden & Company don’t want to do any of that.  They are “progressives” intent on using every excuse to expand the power of government. If they aren’t stopped, they’ll repeat the Hoover administration by turning a recession into a depression.

Culture

Nichelle Nichols, R.I.P.

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Stan Lee poses with Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols after placing his hand, footprints, and signature in cement during a ceremony in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2017. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters )

The bridge of the original Enterprise got a little emptier over the weekend, with the death of Nichelle Nichols at age 89. Nichols played Starfleet officer Nyota Uhura in the first Star Trek TV series and several subsequent films. The tributes are rolling in, and rightly so. In a confident yet unassuming fashion, Nichols became an essential part of series creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a more inclusive future for humanity (an admirable aspect of the show’s vision, even if other parts of its “utopia” are more suspect). This was no mean feat, given that Star Trek began just after major civil-rights legislation challenged the state-backed segregation long dominant in the American South. As Uhura, Nichols created one of the first prominent black female roles on American television; she has been cited by many as an inspiration. She even shared one of the earliest interracial kisses, with co-star William Shatner (Captain Kirk). Network executives were nervous about the scene and wanted to have a take without such a kiss just in case, but the two actors intentionally messed up every non-kiss take.

Some Star Trek cast have had an ambiguous relationship with the stardom that arose from their having been on the show (something made light of in the character Alexander Dane, played by Alan Rickman, in the loving Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest). Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. Spock, released an autobiography in the 1970s called “I Am Not Spock.” (Its 1995 sequel: I Am Spock.) For Nichols, this moment came early in the show’s run. When she began thinking about quitting the show, she told Roddenberry, then attended a fundraiser for the NAACP, where she was informed someone who called himself her “greatest fan” wanted to meet her. Expecting a more stereotypical Trekkie, she was surprised to behold one Martin Luther King Jr., apparently an avid Star Trek watcher who was enthusiastic about her portrayal of Uhura. Here’s the rest of the story, as she related it in a 2011 interview:

And I was speechless. He complimented me on the manner in which I’d created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you. He said, no, no, no. No, you don’t understand. We don’t need you on the — to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for. So, I said to him, thank you so much. And I’m going to miss my co-stars.

And his face got very, very serious. And he said, what are you talking about? And I said, well, I told Gene just yesterday that I’m going to leave the show after the first year because I’ve been offered — and he stopped me and said: You cannot do that. And I was stunned. He said, don’t you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen. He says, do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch.

Uhura, of course, stayed on board the Enterprise, becoming an essential part of the show, movies, and related media. Though she accepted the unique fame that came from association with Star Trek, she was also capable of making light of it, as she did on the hilarious Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.” Being an integral part of one of the most successful pop-culture franchises ever, and helping break down barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding between fellow earthlings — that’s quite a legacy, one we should expect to live long and prosper.

Politics & Policy

Stop Drowning Us in Campaign Fundraising Emails

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Then GOP nominee Donald Trump celebrates with his family as balloons fall at the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Every new development in the financing of political campaigns has its good and bad sides. The Internet has democratized financial support, enabling candidates to tap directly into the grassroots. On the upside, that has allowed talented, vigorous, more ideologically consistent candidates to emerge even when they were not favored by the party establishment. On the downside, whereas campaigning and fundraising used to pull candidates in the populist and elitist directions at the same time, offering balance, today’s grassroots fundraising has made politics dumber, more demagogic, more paranoid, more hysterical, and more impractical and uncompromising. It has weakened both parties, to their electoral detriment.

However you strike that balance, however, one thing is an unambiguous downside: the flood tide of campaign fundraising requests, particularly by email. The volume of these email appeals has now reached a pitch that makes it impossible for anyone to even attempt to read them all. As Erick Erickson explains, this tactic has now passed the tipping point and is even crippling fundraising itself:

The New York Times ran a big story last week on how GOP online donations are down 12% even as GOP enthusiasm seems to be surging. The consultant class of the GOP is pushing the mythology that Google and Apple are flagging their emails because tech companies hate Republicans. I’ve spent a week on the phone with many Republican consultants, including those tied to campaigns whose emails make it to my inbox. They all tell me the same thing — the problem is not Google or Apple, but the GOP consultant class. . . .

I can tell from the volume I am getting from GOP consultants that they are abusing their email lists. . . . Email and SMS spam are driving away small dollar Republican donors. The candidates are now reaping what their consultants have been sowing.

This is a cleaned-up version of his radio show rant:

At some point, this is the same tragedy-of-the-commons and collective-action problem that besets so many aspects of the Republican Party these days: people out for their own interests who are not trying to work as if they belong to a coalition. In fundraising, as elsewhere, if the party is unable to impose any internal discipline for the good of the party, its voters, and its political movement, it will continue to underachieve its ends.

Elections

Peter Meijer: Democrats ‘Subsidizing’ MAGA Challenger’s ‘Entire Campaign’

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Rep. Peter Meijer (R., Mich.) during his 2020 campaign. (Peter Meijer for Congress, via YouTube)

This morning, Representative Peter Meijer published a scathing op-ed in Common Sense entitled, “Why the Democrats Are Funding My Far-Right Opponent.” He details alarming spending from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Michigan’s third congressional district, where he will face off against the Trump-endorsed John Gibbs in tomorrow’s primary:

Since the election of Donald Trump — and especially since January 6 — Democrats have claimed that democracy is under grave threat. Party leaders like Sean Maloney, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have claimed that we are in an existential conflict between defenders of democracy and advocates of authoritarianism. “It’s not just about Trump,” Rep. Maloney said late last month on MSNBC. “It’s about a MAGA Republican movement that is defined by serious, serious things like the attack on our democracy.” He warned: “It’s going to be those MAGA Republicans who take away your rights, your benefits and your freedoms.”

So you would think that the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear. That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they’ve said are an existential threat. 

Instead they are funding Gibbs.

Democrats like Maloney argued that Republicans who looked the other way during the Trump era put party over country. But they know of what they speak: In one of many such naked political gambits aimed at elevating the weaker Republican candidate ahead of the November midterm elections, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched a $435,000 ad buy to promote the election-denying Gibbs in the final days leading up to our primary. 

This is not an insignificant amount of money for the Gibbs campaign, nor is it an insignificant act by Democrats. The DCCC’s ad buy was more than Gibbs raised over the entire duration of his campaign. It was also nearly 100x the support Donald Trump himself offered to Gibbs (a single $5,000 contribution from the Save America Super PAC). In other words, the Democrats are not merely attempting to boost a candidate over the finish line: They are subsidizing his entire campaign.

He goes on to detail the moral depravity and hypocrisy of the Democrats’ efforts:

Over the past year, in private and in public, these Democratic colleagues praised the courage of Republicans like me. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called my vote “an impressive display of courage and integrity.” To leading Democrats, we were the Good Republicans. 

At the same time, to some in my party, we were Bad Republicans — RINOs at best, traitors at worst. After the impeachment vote, I was immediately censured by two county parties in my old district. In my new district, the Republican Party of the largest county repudiated me a few weeks ago. The Michigan GOP Chair joked about my assassination. There have been too many online threats to count.

Watching this unraveling inside my party has been utterly bewildering. The only thing that has been more nauseating has been the capacity of my Democratic colleagues to sell out any pretense of principle for political expediency — at once decrying the downfall of democracy while rationalizing the use of their hard-raised dollars to prop up the supposed object of their fears.

Democrats have themselves acknowledged the unprincipled nature of the game they are playing. Representative Seth Moulton (D., Mass.), who flew to Kabul with Meijer in the midst of President Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, told the Washington Post Friday that, “I think Peter is exactly the kind of Republican we want to have around, but at the end of the day we have to win the majority and that is the bigger concern.”

To conclude his piece, Meijer illustrates just how dangerous the game the Democrats are playing could be:

Conventional wisdom dictates that these extreme candidates are less electable than the normal Republicans Democrats targeted to defeat. But with a historically unpopular president in Joe Biden and inflation at 40-year highs, less-electable doesn’t mean un-electable. As the January 6 Select Committee continues to warn about the ongoing threat to democracy, their own party dues are paying to help elect the same villains they rail against.

This is what Democrats apparently do not understand: This year will likely be a wave year, one in which anti-Biden sentiment will help Republicans, no matter how far-right they are. Democrats may learn a very difficult lesson in November if Gibbs and other candidates they boost end up winning. If that happens, they will be complicit in any supposed “attacks on democracy” that may ensue. 

White House

Today in Capital Matters: Biden Regulations

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Erin Norman of the State Policy Network writes against President Biden’s push for more regulations:

Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has pursued a laundry list of regulations aimed at everything from financial services to the environment to railroads. In fact, a new report finds the Biden administration has implemented more regulations in its first year in office than any other administration in history.

Back in February, the Wall Street Journal reported growing anxiety and pushback from the business community, concerned about the negative impact that a rush to regulate will have on the fragile economy. The White House responded that nothing is being rushed, and that “standard rule-making” processes are being followed. Perhaps that is the problem.

Read the whole thing here.

Education

A Civics Curriculum for the 21st Century

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(Thinkstock)

In response to How Stacey Abrams Hijacked Civics

In his recent column, Stanley Kurtz mischaracterizes my civic-education work. And so I invite him and every reader to learn directly what I do.

I am a scholar of ancient and modern political thought, American constitutionalism, African-American history, and public policy. In that context, I am best known for my book on the Declaration of Independence: Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality.

I was also a Democratic candidate for governor in Massachusetts from December 2020 through February 2022.

Since 2000, as a scholar, I have been working to discover how best to improve teaching of the Declaration of Independence throughout our educational system. Since about 2014, I have also been working directly with K–12 educators about how most effectively to help our kids navigate the impact of digital media on civic experience and build a strong, positive sense of civic agency, including how to bridge growing divisions in our nation.

In 2018 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed new social-studies standards requiring a year-long course in civic education for grade-eight students. The legislature also passed a law mandating that every student complete a non-partisan, student-led civic action project before the end of grade eight and the end of high school. My team at Harvard University had subject-matter expertise in the philosophical foundations of democracy and American constitutionalism that was often under-represented in social-studies curricula, as well as expertise focused on supporting healthy student civic agency. K–12 educators have far superior expertise at pedagogy. Recognizing this, we partnered with our local school district to design and pilot a year-long grade-eight curriculum, “Civic Engagement in Our Democracy.” We now work in districts across Massachusetts.

We have sought to provide an alternative to the action-civics model that was then the dominant model for supporting student agency. Our model does not require an entire class to do the same project and does not direct students to particular issues. Instead, our model supports individual choice of action project, viewpoint diversity in the classroom, and students’ learning to have productive conversations across lines of difference.

Every young person should be encouraged to take on a civic role in an active, not passive, manner. As the ancient Greek legislator, Solon, knew well, we would have less-extreme politics if everyone actually participated. Every single one of us, even scholars, should step up, pick our party, and participate, seeking to help make our party as healthy as possible. In choosing my own party and running for governor, I sought to act on the lessons I am teaching. I hope that each of the kids with whom we connect will clarify their own values, independently make their own choice of party, and step up to help us all learn how to bridge divides and achieve the collaborative problem-solving we deserve.

You can learn directly about our work. The adult version of our curriculum is available here.

The roadmap to excellence in history and civic learning that we helped develop with a multidisciplinary, demographically diverse, and cross-partisan group of about 300 scholars and educators from around the country, can be accessed here.

You can find our video game on the Declaration of Independence here.

Elections

Dr. Oz, Losing Ground Since Winning the Pennsylvania GOP Senate Primary

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Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks during a rally held by former President Donald Trump at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Greensburg, Penn., May 6, 2022. (Hannah Beier/Reuters)

Towards the end of June, I called Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz “the wildly underperforming Ford Pinto of Republican Senate candidates,” a line that Frank Bruni of the New York Times quoted this weekend.

When you write off a candidate in midsummer, there’s always a chance that you’re rendering a verdict too early, and that either the candidate, his campaign, or fate has some late twist that will change the dynamic.

But the GOP primary was May 17, and Dave McCormick conceded to Oz on June 6. Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman suffered his stroke on May 13 and still hasn’t returned to the campaign trail on a regular basis. Oz effectively had the state to himself for almost three months . . . and he’s gained no ground during that time. (Oddly, the Oz campaign ran no television ads from late May to late July.)

And the latest Fox News survey finds Fetterman leading Oz, 47 percent to 36 percent, and only 35 percent of voters have a favorable opinion about Oz, while 55 percent feel unfavorably toward him. No poll has put Oz any closer than six percentage points behind.

Oz just looks like a lemon of a candidate. (I would use the metaphor of a particular flightless bird, but people would think I’m mocking Oz’s country of origin, which isn’t really his problem.) Oz offers all of Trump’s weaknesses (inexperienced celebrity dilettante, limited roots in the state) without any of Trump’s strengths; the typical Trump voter isn’t impressed by Oz being Oprah’s favorite doctor or hosting a health-focused daytime talk show, nor his old support for abortion and gun control. Oz is too Trumpy to win the suburban soccer moms in Bucks County, but not Trumpy enough for blue-collar southwestern Pennsylvania.

Oz won the primary by the skin of his teeth; it is extremely difficult to imagine Oz winning a GOP primary without the endorsement of Donald Trump. Now, there’s a report that Trump is fuming about how badly Oz is doing, and that he’s complaining to Sean Hannity; allegedly, Hannity encouraged Trump to endorse Oz. (Great, now Trump realizes how hard it is to elect Oz.)

Dave McCormick wouldn’t have been a slam-dunk to beat Fetterman; no doubt the Democrat would have attacked McCormick for his time as a hedge-fund CEO. But McCormick likely wouldn’t have started with such high unfavorable numbers, and it’s hard to see a self-financing multimillionaire running no ads for most of the summer. McCormick likely would have made this a hard-fought, tight race. Right now, not only does it look like Democrats will pick up the Senate seat of the retiring Pat Toomey, it looks like they won’t even have to sweat it much.

Education

The Absurd End to the UNC–Nikole Hannah-Jones Furor

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Nikole Hannah-Jones (Alice Vergueiro/Abraji via Wikimedia Commons)

University leaders have been letting standards slide for a long time, but the decision by the University of North Carolina to hire writer Nikole Hannah-Jones as a journalism professor takes the cake. When her job didn’t come with tenure, she pitched a fit and the school quickly caved in, offering her tenure. But by that time, she was fed up and moved on to another offer, at Howard University.

Alas, that wasn’t the end of the story. Her lawyers concocted a lawsuit against UNC, and, to nobody’s surprise, UNC again caved in with a juicy settlement. (This reminds me of the way activist groups often sue the federal government, knowing that the feds will give them just what they want in a “settlement” of the case.)

In today’s Martin Center article, Philip Magness and James Harrigan write about the settlement.

First, as to the initial job offer, the authors observe, “While UNC did, in fact, offer Nikole Hannah-Jones a position, which she did, in fact, accept, there was a devil in the details. The job she accepted did not come with tenure; it came with a five-year contract with an option for tenure review. Whatever the interior machinations at the Hussman School, this was not an unreasonable offer. Hannah-Jones, quite simply, had not done the sort of academic work that tenure rewards. Journalism and academia are two very different animals.”

A five-year contract at a major university should have been enough, but the lack of immediate tenure caused Hannah-Jones to claim that she was being mistreated.

What about the terms of the settlement? UNC will pay her $75,000 not to sue again. Far more expensive, however, are the other terms. The authors explain:

It turns out the $75,000 wasn’t quite enough. As part of her settlement, she somehow managed to secure a bunch of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) sinecures for 20 university administrators. Per the agreement, these bureaucrats will be attached to hiring committees for new university employees. They will “receive a stipend to serve as consultants or participants” in hiring searches. The terms of Hannah-Jones’s deal also direct UNC to make a new hire for something called a “trauma-informed therapist within the Multicultural Health Program,” as if to signal atonement for Hannah-Jones’s claims of mental anguish over an insufficiently generous hiring offer in the initial round. Another clause dedicates an annual payout of $5,000 to pay for “meetings, events, and symposia” hosted by an activist organization for university faculty and staff.

So, UNC will be paying for its folly for many years to come.

U.S.

The Mayflower, Flowers, and More

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The newly renovated Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship that sailed from England in 1620, sails back to its berth in Plymouth, Mass., August 10, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon is to sit and talk with Marilyn Horne — the American mezzo-soprano who is, simply, one of the greatest singers who ever lived. I did this recently and have a piece on our conversation here. We talk about the past (what a past!). But also the present. And, to be sure, the future. If you don’t know this woman yet, you will want to — formidable, magnificent.

Some reader mail. In a recent column, I had an item on the general topic of Americanism. What is an American? The item was sparked by the memorial in Washington concerning Japanese Americans in World War II. One inscription begins, “Japanese by blood / Hearts and minds American.”

David Churchill Barrow writes,

Howdy, Jay,

My ancestors came to this continent over 400 years ago. Some of them did so on board the Mayflower, where they combined themselves “into a civil Body Politick.” That compact led to the tradition of the New England town meeting, whereby Yankees governed their own affairs for over 150 years before the Declaration of Independence. They were able, as Burke pointed out, “to augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Consequentially, from Myles Standish and his little band of pitiable farmers onward, they formed militias to protect their way of life. You know the rest of the story, leading to that long ago April morning on that common and on that bridge.

My wife’s grandparents all immigrated here from Italy, yet she is just as much as American as I am (and has been known to defend American principles with her Sicilian passion). We have dear friends in our neighborhood who are Russian immigrants, but are now American citizens. Having lived under that which is the opposite of what is American, they have a deep appreciation of what is. I tell them stories from our history and remind them that they are a part of that story now. I get broad smiles in return. They are as American as I am.

That humble Mayflower Compact of just a few words was a tiny seed that grew into a great and mighty American tree. All those who willingly seek its shade and its protection — and are willing to abide by its “just and equal Laws” — are as American as I am.

(One of the things I love is the idea of defending American principles with Sicilian passion.)

I have a lot more reader mail — and thank you, everybody — but maybe I could close this post with some photos. Below is a current National Review intern, Matthew Malec, from Massachusetts, in Malec — a village in southern Poland, population 1,200 or so.

Finally, some photos from our Jessica Hornik Evans — poet and editor. First up: “Stargazer lilies with sunset clouds”:

Followed by: “A tiger swallowtail visiting a daylily”:

And: “A fritillary (I believe — but I’m not sure what type) on a purple coneflower”:

Education

Responding to Defenders of the Federal Civics Bill

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Education Secretary Miguel Cardona addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Last Friday, Former Nebraska Republican senator and Obama Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former Alabama Democratic senator Doug Jones published a piece laying out three key defenses of the federal Civics Secures Democracy Act. Here is why those defenses don’t hold up.

First, Hagel and Jones point to the following passage:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary of Education to prescribe a civics and history curriculum.” According to Hagel and Jones, this passage “forbids the imposition of any national curriculum and leaves decisions about what is taught and how it is taught to states and local school districts.

That is both mistaken and misleading. That passage clearly does not “forbid” anything. Instead, it simply disclaims any intention to “authorize” a federally prescribed curriculum. More important, what critics like myself warn of is not the formal legal imposition of a curriculum. Rather, our concern is that the lure of federal grants will induce states and school districts to “voluntarily” adopt the sort of leftist curricula sure to be favored by Biden’s education bureaucrats when they decide which states, nonprofit organizations, universities, and researchers will receive federal civics grants.

The exact same disclaimer of intent to legally prescribe a federal curriculum was in place when the Obama administration used Race to the Top grants to induce 48 states to adopt Common Core. Based on that experience, the passage cited by Hagel and Jones will accomplish nothing of significance. Sadly, provisions like this are regularly inserted into bills that tend to expand federal control of education, housing, and other areas. They are designed to neutralize political opposition, while doing nothing in practice to hold back federal control. Note also that I and other critics have made this point repeatedly, yet Hagel and Jones do not address it. It’s apparent that they do not wish to meet the other side’s arguments directly.

Second, Hagel and Jones say that grants to states under the bill are based on neutral “formulas.” The implication is that Biden’s secretary of education will have no discretion to decide whether a given state receives a grant. The bill, however, says otherwise. True, once a state receives a grant, the amount of money involved will be determined by an automatic formula taking into account factors such as population and economic conditions. Nevertheless, the bill gives Biden’s secretary of education the authority to decide whether a given state gets a federal grant in the first place.

The bill says that the secretary of education “shall prioritize” the award of grants to eligible entities that “demonstrate the greatest potential to” improve knowledge among the “traditionally underserved,” that “close gaps in civic knowledge and achievement among traditionally underserved students,” and that “improve performance” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP test — the “nation’s report card”).

Clearly, Secretary Miguel Cardona is given discretion here to approve or disapprove grants based on his assessment of the potential grantees’ ability to achieve the itemized criteria. The bill also says that the secretary “is authorized to make grants to each State that has an approved application.” In other words, the secretary has discretion to approve or disapprove an application. Moreover, the applications themselves are required to lay out plans for improving performance among the “underserved” as measured by the NAEP test. The only reason to require such plans is to give the secretary some basis for approving or rejecting an application, given the priority criteria built into the bill. So the automatic formula for distributing grant money to a given state doesn’t kick in until the secretary has first decided whether a state’s application is good enough to win a grant in the first place.

A term such as “underserved” may not mean much to the uninitiated. As I’ve explained at some length, however, “underserved” means something surprising and specific to today’s predominantly progressive civics-education community. The term “underserved” is generally used to designate the poor, minorities, and recent immigrants. Most readers will simply assume from this that the bill is about getting extra money to financially strapped school districts with large numbers of minorities and immigrants.

In the eyes of the education Left, however, the only way to eliminate civics “achievement gaps” between underserved minority students and others is to revolutionize civics education itself. Progressive educators believe that only curricula based on critical race theory (CRT) and “action civics” (required political protests for civics courses) can truly appeal to the underserved. And crucially, under this bill the Biden administration has the latitude to favor civics proposals that try to reach the “underserved” via CRT and action civics. We already know, in fact, that Biden’s Education Department favors this approach.

The third point made by Hagel and Jones is that changes to the NAEP test will not be used as a backdoor way of pressing a de facto national curriculum on the states. According to Hagel and Jones, “the grants are not tied to performance” [on the NAEP test]. This claim is simply not consistent with the language of the bill.

The bill requires states applying to renew their grants to submit “an evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities carried out using the previous grant, which shall be based on the results of the most recent [NAEP] assessment in civics and history.” Clearly, in direct opposition to Hagel and Jones, grant renewals are tied to a state’s performance on NAEP. Why would grant-renewal applications have to “evaluate the effectiveness” of past performance via NAEP, if not to allow the secretary to decide whether that state deserves a renewal, given those results?

We know that the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) coalition aspires to “align” the NAEP test with its own vision of American history and civics — a vision roundly criticized by a host of conservatives. Should Biden align NAEP to the vision of its leftist allies in EAD, this bill could easily turn NAEP into a backdoor path to a national curriculum.

Once it was announced that NAEP had been aligned to EAD, teachers everywhere would rush to adopt curriculum modules approved by the Left-dominated EAD coalition. The same thing happened with Common Core–aligned curricula. Understanding that the renewal of their federal grants hinges on student performance on NAEP, even red states would be under immense pressure to accept the EAD approach. Again, this would not be a formal federal mandate. Yet it would nationalize EAD in practice — just like Common Core.

In short, the reassurances of Hagel and Jones are false. The wording of the current version of the Civics Secures Democracy Act has been tweaked a bit, yet the substance remains the same. Given Biden’s administrative leverage, this bill lays down a path to a leftist takeover of America’s history and civics curricula. It should be defeated.

Energy & Environment

Just How Clean and Green Is Your Electric Car?

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The writers at Issues & Insights argue persuasively that producing the batteries for electric cars is an extraordinarily dirty, environmentally degrading business.

These paragraphs will give you the gist of the piece:

Today, a typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds.  It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.

It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.

Read the whole thing.

Environmental propaganda has turned millions of people into anti-petroleum zealots, but the supposedly “green” alternatives are terrible.

Politics & Policy

Texas Right to Life: Law Allows Doctors to ‘Follow Standard Medical Practice’ in Life-Threatening Situations

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(romaset/iStock/Getty Images)

The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a research affiliate of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, published a paper on July 26 discussing a variety of (rare but real) medical conditions in which life-of-the-mother exceptions to abortion laws apply.

Dr. Ingrid Skop, a co-author of the paper and pro-life obstetrician in Texas, discussed one of those conditions in greater detail with me in an article for the latest issue of National Review

Some advocates of a right to abortion and doctors have said that the law leaves unclear whether they need to wait until a woman’s condition becomes dire before delivering, but that was not a requirement of abortion laws before Roe, and it is not a requirement of abortion laws after Dobbs. Paul Linton, a constitutional lawyer who formerly served as general counsel for Americans United for Life, told me in a phone interview that life-of-the-mother exceptions in laws banning abortion “do not have any requirement of imminency or immediacy” of a threat to the mother’s life.

Skop gave the example of a woman whose membranes rupture — her water breaks — before viability, when it is appropriate to offer immediately to deliver the baby. “I say this as a pro-life physician: It is appropriate to deliver at that point. Because we know that likelihood that four days, six days [later], she’s going to be clinically infected,” and that infection can lead to potentially fatal sepsis. She added: “We know that the likelihood this child was going to make it to be born alive, to stay alive, not die in the neonatal period, is super low.” There is no need to wait until day four or day six; the delivery may occur on day one.

Yet there was a troubling American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology pre-proof article released at the end of June that reported two major hospitals in Dallas had stopped offering the option of immediate delivery in these circumstances following the enactment of the Texas Heartbeat Act in September 2021. Those hospitals offered only “expectant management” of the mother’s condition, which is associated with greater risks to the mother. (Expectant mothers will sometimes choose to take these risks — rather than deliver immediately — despite the very low odds that the baby will survive.) […]

But it was legal to offer lifesaving treatment before Roe, and Skop says there is no good reason to believe it is illegal to offer such lifesaving treatment after Dobbs: “If [the mother] wants delivery at the time of initial diagnosis, it is the standard of care to do so and is allowed by all state pro-life laws.”

John Seago, president of Texas Right to Life, said in a phone interview with National Review on Friday that he agrees with Dr. Skop’s analysis in the passage above. “Our law gives the flexibility for doctors to follow the standard medical practice and to make that call like Dr. Skop is talking about,” Seago told me.

“I don’t think it’s prohibited to take action immediately” to induce delivery in this situation, Seago said. “Those ruptured membranes are the physical condition that could jeopardize her physical life. Nobody’s arguing that you’ve got to wait until it’s really bad.”

Seago’s endorsement of Skop’s analysis is important because some prominent advocates of a right to abortion have pointed to earlier comments made by Seago as evidence that pro-life advocates believe doctors must wait until a mother’s life is in imminent peril. Seago told the New York Times in an article published on July 17 that Texas law prohibits a doctor from acting on the belief that “I want to cause the death of the child today because I believe that they’re going to pass away eventually.”

But Seago says that comment has been misunderstood. “I was talking about miscarriage, not a medical emergency,” Seago tells me. In a case in which an unborn child is diagnosed in utero with a condition in which the child will likely die later in pregnancy or shortly after birth — but the life of the mother is not in danger — Texas law does not permit an abortion. But in a medical emergency, Texas law allows doctors to “follow the standard medical practice,” Seago said.

It’s important that Seago has clarified the issue now because advocates of a right to abortion have suggested that hospitals are justified in changing their standards of care in this life-threatening situation because they are reasonably afraid of civil lawsuits. But fears that frivolous civil lawsuits would be filed under Texas’s abortion law now seem overblown: In the eleven months that the Texas Heartbeat Act has been in effect, Seago says he is only aware of one person who has been sued, and that was a case in which an abortion doctor published a September 18, 2021 article in the Washington Post that suggested he had performed an abortion not permitted by Texas law. That op-ed was a deliberate attempt to draw another legal challenge to the law. In the extremely unlikely event that a doctor faced a civil lawsuit for immediately inducing delivery in this situation, the defense — now formally endorsed by the largest national pro-life group and the largest pro-life group in Texas — would be airtight. 

One more thing: While some advocates of a right to abortion have claimed the term “medical emergency” is not defined in Texas law, that claim is not true. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — an organization that opposes laws restricting abortion such as SB 8 in Texas — cites the Texas law’s definition of “medical emergency” here:

Medical emergency: An exception to the law exists only for a medical emergency. SB 8 amends Chapter 171, Health and Safety Code, which defines medical emergency as “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

As you can see, there is no requirement in the Texas law that a doctor must wait until the “life-threatening physical condition” puts the mother in imminent “danger of death” or “serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.” As Dr. Skop says, in cases where a mother’s water breaks before the baby can survive outside the womb, “If [the mother] wants delivery at the time of initial diagnosis, it is the standard of care to do so and is allowed by all state pro-life laws.” Read Skop’s full paper here.

Now that the confusion has been sown, of course, the most important question is what should be done to clear up the misinformation. Pro-life advocates such as Skop have called on both the Texas Medical Association and Texas Board of Medical Examiners to provide clarity for doctors and hospitals. Would it also make sense for the Texas attorney general to issue a statement that doctors and hospitals may continue to use the same standards of medical judgment and care when treating women with life-threatening conditions that they did before Dobbs (and before the Texas Heartbeat Act)? “Yeah, that’s one of the things that we’re looking at. There are attorney-general opinions that elected officials can [request],” Seago says. “I think it would be appropriate [for the elected officials] to do that. There is discussion about whether opinion is the right avenue or whether it is just a memo from the [attorney general] himself.”

“It’s going to take a lot of effort like that to overcome the misinformation and confusion being spread,” he says.

National Review

Please Read This Today in a Spirit of Charity — and Give Generously, if You Can

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Kathryn Jean Lopez speaks outside of the Supreme Court the morning of the oral arguments in December in the case that ended Roe v. Wade. (Melanie Israel)

One unforeseen result of the Covid shutdowns is National Review Institute has been able to reach more people than ever through virtual programming. Both before and after the Mississippi abortion case that ended Roe v. Wade, we’ve had a series of events talking about the case and its implications and now realities. There’s so much work to be done, and it has been a blessing to be able to focus on practical ways to continue to build a culture of life. Most recently, we’ve had a Fridays for Life virtual series, marking each week’s anniversary since Roe ended.

As we’ve always sought to do with in-person events, these events create a constructive community looking in the present toward a future with more flourishing for women and children and families. In these and other events, we bring together people who do the real work of helping make life possible, and advocate for conservative policies that will help make life possible and bolster families, including in faith. We highlight some of the mediating institutions, including the faith-based ones, and what they need to function and flourish. That, of course, in no small part includes religious freedom.

When I was editor of this website many moons ago now, I relished the ability to bring people together online. We’re doing it again in new ways at NRI, including bringing people together in common cause with conservatives, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. That’s so in the tradition of William F. Buckley Jr., who founded both the magazine and the Institute.

We can do all of this only because of the generous support of those who contribute to us. I know there are many people asking for money, but would you consider a vote of confidence in what we do here?

I’ll also mention something I’m humbled that NRI lets me do — talk about personal faith and virtue. A few falls ago, during an election year, we co-sponsored a series in Washington, D.C., called “Making Virtue Great Again.” Because people have no idea how powerful living virtue is. Power isn’t just in politics.

Also, occasionally, I have done conversations with former Magnificat editor and bestselling author Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. about what it means to be a person of faith. One of my favorites was when we talked about Jesuit priest Fr. Alfred Delp , who wrote amazing meditations about courage and faith while imprisoned by the Nazis who would kill him for his commitment to truth. And just this month, we talked about hope in the midst of the confusion and chaos we’re seeing with so many friends. Last I checked, over 1,000 people had watched — many of whom have sent me humbling notes (some even have stopped me in person to thank me or ask me for some of the texts we referenced).

We want to keep doing so much of this and more. Would you consider letting us know such programming is important to you by making a contribution to support our work? And I’ll be frank: Is the pro-life, faith-based, religious-freedom work important to you? If so, please make that clear with a contribution of whatever size is possible for you. And we’ll keep highlighting the good and bringing people together and issuing the challenges we need to in these times. We can meet them in so many ways if we work together.

NRI’s fiscal year officially ends on July 31. If you have already given this year, thank you for your support! If you have not given, please consider making a donation today. We would be very grateful for your tax-deductible contribution before the end of the month. Is this work of my Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society at NRI in a particular way worthwhile work? Please say “yes” with a donation. And a donation to NRI is tax-deductible.

And, if you want to keep up with the work of the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society, send an email to klopez@nationalreview.com and we’ll get you signed up for a free weekly newsletter.

World

Now It’s the Canadian Farmers’ Turn

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Ted Dykman, a farmer who has experienced flooding three times in the last decade, looks on after rainstorms lashed the western Canadian province of British Columbia, Canada November 22, 2021. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters)

Undaunted by the uproar in the Netherlands over the impact on farmers of rules limiting nitrogen emissions, Canada’s government is now looking to go down a similar route.

The Financial Post:

The government is proposing to cut emissions from fertilizer 30 per cent by 2030 as part of a plan to get to net zero in the next three decades. But growers are saying that to achieve that, they may have to shrink grain output significantly at a time when the world is scrambling for more supplies.

Also at stake is the estimated $10.4 billion that farmers could lose this decade from the reduced output.

The tension comes as efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions related to energy are lagging, so policymakers are increasingly looking to other sectors, including agriculture . . .

Cattle and fertilizer are key sources of nitrogen emissions.

The war on beef is not going away.

The Financial Post:

Production losses could be significant, according to an analysis commissioned by Fertilizer Canada. Canada could lose over 160 million metric tons of canola, corn and spring wheat between 2023 and 2030 due to the plan, according to the report. That’s nearly double Canada’s expected grain production this season.

Agriculture emissions have soared in recent decades as farmers apply more fertilizer to increase output. Emissions from crop soils rose 87 per cent to about 7.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide over three decades through 2020, according to the latest data from Environment and Climate Change Canada . . .

Farm groups say the additional fertilizer is resulting in more food. Spring wheat yields rose more than 40 per cent in the last decade through 2020, compared with the 1990s, Statistics Canada data show. Similarly, canola yields rose 56 per cent over the same period.

“We are talking about the food supply,” said Karen Proud, chief executive officer of Fertilizer Canada, an industry group that represents major manufacturers and retailers, including Nutrien Ltd., and Koch Fertilizer Canada. “Canada is already among the top countries that use nitrogen efficiently. We don’t have much room to go before we start affecting yields.”

While the reduction target is “ambitious,”  it does not “represent a mandatory reduction in fertilizer use” and action will focus on improving nitrogen management, Cameron Newbigging, spokesman for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said in a statement. The approach for achieving reductions is still under development and the government is accepting feedback until Aug. 31 and will develop “next steps in the approach” once the consultations are complete, he said.

It may be that Canadian farmers have more room to reduce nitrogen than their Dutch counterparts, who are faced with demands for steeper cuts and may well already have done about as much as they can do without reducing production. Nevertheless, I cannot help noting Proud’s comment (she was referring to Canada) that there is “not much room to go” before crop yields are affected, something that, if true, might, in time, add to greenflationary pressures.

And how have things been going in the Netherlands since I last wrote about the problems there?

Politico (July 27):

Dutch farmers dumped manure and set fire hay on fire along major highways Wednesday, prompting traffic jams in central and eastern parts of the Netherlands, in protest over government plans to reduce fertilizer use and livestock numbers.

Ah.

Writing in Time magazine, Ciara Nugent sees these protests as the latest in a series:

The Netherlands’ farmers protests are probably the largest uprising over environmental regulation of agriculture that the world has seen in the climate action era. But similar tensions have been bubbling elsewhere. Farmers in Spain, Ireland, and New Zealand have all staged demonstrations in their capitals to challenge green reforms in the last few years.

“Reforms.”

She adds:

Populists in the U.S. and Europe, including France’s Marine Le Pen, are seizing on the protests to cast climate action as a conflict between rural heartlands, working people, and urban elites.

Indeed they are. Moreover, as I noted in my earlier comment on the Dutch farmers, “there are many ways to look at the Dutch farmers’ revolt, some tipping over into the conspiratorial fringe . . .”

That said, the way in which most mainstream parties either seem to support or at least go along with measures such as those in the Netherlands has, I suspect, created a political vacuum. Those don’t last for long. Years ago, and in a different context, Mark Steyn wrote this:

In bad times, if the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain issues, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.

When its effects really start to bite, the “race” to net zero is going to cause major problems for the governments then in charge, and those problems won’t just involve farmers.

Back to Time:

 The Netherlands’ pursuit of farming efficiency is an extreme version of agricultural expansion that has taken place across the rest of the world over the last century. The environmental consequences are not limited to nitrogen pollution. Worldwide, the amount of land used for crops and livestock doubled over the course of the 20th century, requiring the clearing of forests that once sheltered biodiversity and helped keep our climate stable by sequestering carbon.

Doubled? The horror. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that over the same period the world’s population has quadrupled, from about 2 billion in 1922 to almost 8 billion today, most of whom eat far better than their predecessors would have done a century ago. Under the circumstances, the achievements of the agricultural sector (including, of course, the likes of Norman Borlaug) are, to say the least, impressive.

Nugent, meanwhile, describes the Dutch, uh, reforms as “bold” and notes that “this may be just the beginning of much wider global unrest over agriculture. Scientists say dealing with climate change will require not just gradual reform, but a rapid, wholesale transformation of the global food system.”

Note that “rapid.”

Nugent:

Environmentalists say we need to reduce the toll farming takes on nature, by eating less meat and growing crops in less harmful ways . . .

I do hope the reference to “less harmful” is not to organic farming, a pseudoscientific approach to agriculture that recently led to disaster in Sri Lanka. That was partly because of the speed with which it was introduced, but only partly.

I’ll quote this again from Matt Ridley in the Daily Telegraph:

If the world abandoned nitrogen fertiliser that was fixed in factories, the impact on human living standards would be catastrophic, but so would the impact on nature. Given that about half the nitrogen atoms in the average person’s body were fixed in an ammonia factory rather than a plant, to feed eight billion people with organic methods we would need to put more than twice as much land under the plough and the cow. That would consign most of the world’s wetlands, nature reserves and forests to oblivion.

Politics & Policy

What the GOP Can Learn from Mozzarella

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(igorr1/Getty Images)

Republicans have a dazzling opportunity in November to win back the Senate and House, not to mention dominance in state legislatures and governors’ mansions: Joe Biden is polling below Earth’s mantle, Democrats are gleefully collaborating to send billions of dollars to climate interest groups during a recession (or recession-adjacent economic situation of sudden indecipherability), and Anthony Fauci has re-emerged like an uninvited bespectacled groundhog to announce he’d like to see kids back in masks

And yet, I cannot shake the feeling that Republicans are going to screw this up — perhaps it’s attributable to whiffs of Eau de KDW–brand curmudgeon-ism wafting from Texas to Wisconsin — but the more likely explanation for my anhedonia is the multitude of close races between solid conservatives and loons — loons who will lose general elections and, even if they should win the odd race, will be useless as legislators.

But I’m a young guy and should stick to what he knows. Being a good Wisconsin lad, I know cheese, so allow me to offer an object lesson, arising from a kitchen mishap I once experienced.

First, the mishap. My lunch was to be a chopped salad with a light covering of chipotle dressing and mozzarella pearls plopped thither and yon for a delightful combination of aesthetic appeal and masticatory interaction. But lo! The new container of mozzarella pearls had affixed to the top a hideous apparatus, a plastic seal. 

Why fear such a commonplace technology so helpful in keeping food fresh? Because there was duplicity afoot. No matter the angle one took, the physics calculated, and the blunt trauma applied, that container of mozzarella pearls would foil any attempt to uncask it. The tab, seemingly intended to provide leverage, tore off, impotently failing to unseat the seal.

Now in a rage, I paced back and forth, inspecting this 10 oz container for any sign of weakness. It sat there self-satisfied upon the countertop, mocking me as only a squat cylinder could.

So I ring up [redacted cheese company], smirking in the direction of the mozzarella like a teacher who rings up a particularly vile student’s parents to report upon his odiousness in class. The mozzarella returned my gaze stoically enough — as if thinking I must be bluffing. 

The good woman picks up, and I pour out my troubles to her, leaving her in no doubt of both my affection for the mozzarella and my distaste for the means by which said cheese is secured. She then informs me that the tab I had presumed was for opening was not for such an obvious use but was only a by-product of the sealing process and that the best way to open the packaging was to stab it with scissors and cut out the plastic from the inside. I was flabbergasted and flimflammed — the mozzarella pearls are suspended in water filled to the brim. To stick a knife through the seal would displace the water all over your countertop and introduce an unclean utensil into the virgin cheese. A culinary war crime! 

After informing her of this obvious deficiency, I was offered coupons as a buy-off, despicably patronizing. However, I took the coupons because I was raised around Dutchmen, and no coupon is a bad coupon. 

Our call concluded, I returned with shoulders slumped to my still-sealed and chortling mozzarella and took scissors to it. After cleaning up the font of water that burst forth from it as if from a spiracle, I applied a helping to my now-aged salad — even then steeling myself for the dark days ahead as I resolved to ne’er again purchase the product until the packaging was improved. My one-man resistance to Big Cheese and its anti-consumer packaging had begun.

“So what?” some might ask. “Who cares about your nauseatingly loquacious cheese-ball concerns, stupid Sheboygan man?”

First: Ouch. Rude. 

Second: This aforementioned tale of woe is hardly unique to mozzarella production. There are many ways that organizations fail to understand consumers and the irritations that can accompany otherwise meritorious products. 

So I rejoin, “Why botch the simple stuff?” 

Botchery-avoidance is what I hope the Republican electorate employs come November. The mozzarella pearls are conservative policy goals, the infuriating prophylactic seal represents the screwballs. The GOP has a winning message on schools, doolally Dems to compare themselves with, and an association with economic success. But if the Right offers ‘stop-the steal’ nutters, don’t be surprised to be again begging Joe Manchin to save us from the Dems’ excesses.

If you’re going to vote, vote for the sure bet, the conservative who can win a general election. The political-science term for this is “tactical voting” — casting a ballot not for the strictest ideological adherence but electability. 

In a time when it can feel as if we have little control, it is best to rack up wins on the simple things.

Politics & Policy

Steven Donziger – The Hits Keep Coming

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Attorney Steven Donziger speaks with reporters outside the United States Court of Appeals in New York City, April 20, 2015. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Steven Donziger, eco warrior and Homeric scammer — whose scheme to turn Chevron into an ATM for green activism blew up when a gusher of evidence (exposed in federal courts by the oil giant’s determined legal counterattack) resulted in racketeering convictions for the beloved leftist — has had his post-conviction martyrdom tour disrupted by continuing bad (and deserved) legal news.

Of late: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld Donziger’s federal contempt conviction (he had defied a judge’s order to turn over his electronic devices to Chevron, which sought to recoup some of its massive legal costs) – a 2–1 ruling that Donziger counsels have spun as a glimmer of hope (that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn his 2014 RICO conviction).

And then there is last week’s District of Columbia disbarment, a compliment to his 2020 disbarment by New York State (an action which, of course, Donziger appealed to the Supreme Court; which, of course, refused to consider his lame case). The wily conniver sought to keep his rarely used license to practice law in the nation’s capital, but the District of Columbia Court of Appeals was having none of Donziger’s moral-turpitude dodging.

Nixon, despite his promise, remained around to be kicked around. And so it will be with Steven Donziger, who thrills to jurisprudential beatdowns. Like “The Song that Doesn’t End,” this will not be the last time America will hear of a lump-taking by this paragon of moxie and conceit.

Culture

Canadian Children’s Activity Book Indoctrinates Kids into Euthanasia

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(GlobalStock/Getty Images)

Children are being indoctrinated into everything that subverts traditional values these days, and in Canada that includes bringing children along when a loved one is being euthanized — which goes by the euphemism MAID for medical assistance in dying.

Children are introduced into the medical killing fields by Canadian Virtual Hospice with its Medical Assistance in Dying Activity Book, described as being for children ages 6–12. In it, the child is taught how a person is killed during euthanasia:

The three medicines work like this: The first medicine makes the person feel very relaxed and fall asleep. They may yawn or snore or mumble.

The second medicine causes a “coma.” A coma looks like sleep but is much deeper than regular sleep. The person will not wake up or be bothered by noise or touch.

The third medicine makes the person’s lungs stop breathing and then their heart stops beating. Because of the coma, the person does not notice this happening and it does not hurt. When their heart and lungs stop working, their body dies. It will not start working again. This often happens in just a few minutes, but sometimes (rarely) it can take hours.

And if the person asks to die, there is no changing their mind:

As much as other people may want to change their mind, the person who is choosing MAiD probably wishes just as strongly that they could change their illness or condition and how it is affecting their life. When someone decides to ask for MAiD, it is usually after thinking very carefully and having very hard feelings for a long time. They may feel that nothing will change their mind because there is nothing that can help their body or their suffering get better.

That isn’t true, of course. Palliative care and appropriate emotional and psychological interventions can overcome suicide ideation in the seriously ill and disabled. But those asking for euthanasia are denied this essential hospice service. Moreover, only 15 percent of Canadians have adequate access to palliative care — a true scandal in a country that pushes euthanasia.

And there are activities for the child:

Activity: Draw or write about your ideas and feelings about the person in your life who is choosing MAiD. You can share this sheet with someone in your family or a health care team member who can help you with your questions,  ideas, and feelings…

Using blank paper or the picture below, decorate it to look like you and the person. Write or draw what you think they think or feel about choosing MAiD in the space around them.

The child has “choices” too:

Think about what different choices you have and which ones might feel best for you. First, ask a parent or caregiver to go through the list and cross out anything that is not possible in your situation. Then you can look at the rest of the list together and choose the things you would like to do or think about. There are no right or wrong choices, and you can change your mind about your choices anytime…

Would you like to spend time with them before they have MAiD?
• Yes
• No

Where would you like to be when the person is having MAiD?
• in the room with the person
• nearby but not in the room (another room in the hospital/hospice/home)
• somewhere else that feels familiar (school, camp, a friend or family member’s home)

If you are going visit them, would you like to bring something:
• to hold onto to help you feel comfortable, like a special blanket, jewelry, photo, or toy?
• to do to help you feel comfortable or to pass the time.

Once we endorse killing as an acceptable answer to human suffering, we have to train the children that killing is okay. Because they are not stupid and will know that their loved one is being terminated, and their immediate instinct will probably be that it is wrong.

The whole euthanasia agenda is gut-wrenching, morally destructive, and wrong. It not only ends the life of despairing people who are abandoned by the “It’s your choice” deflection, but as this book illustrates, has the potential to seriously impact the emotional well-being of children in the family who watch as their loved one’s killing is discussed, planned, and executed.

If I were a kid and that happened to somebody I loved, I’d never want to see a doctor again. Good grief.

U.S.

The American Ideal: Black and White Working Together

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(Pixabay)

One topic that I have come to find incredibly interesting in the years since the publication of the 1619 Project is just how wrong it is. The gall it takes to revise American history and mangle it into such an unrecognizable state is truly impressive.

When the project first came out, I started researching the actual events of the Founding and its relation to slavery, as well as the events that erased that awful stain on American history. I am quite passionate about the subject, and I wrote multiple pieces about America’s majesty for the Fourth of July.

To my delight, retired Hillsdale College history professor Burt Folsom spoke about that very subject at Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference, which I am covering. I had an experience common to pretty much anyone who listens to a lecture from Folsom: I learned quite a lot!

For example, in one of my Fourth of July pieces I wrote about Pennsylvania’s and Massachusetts’s efforts to abolish slavery in the period of the early Republic, both of which directly cited the greatness of America’s Founding as inspiration.

I thought that these two were the extent of it. But did you know that New York’s 1797 act to abolish slavery took effect on the Fourth of July? And that New York was one of eight states that abolished slavery in the first 15 years of America’s existence? I didn’t.

These states recognized “that the independence of the slave is connected with American independence,” Folsom said. “Freedom is a right.”

The main thesis of his speech was that the greatest times in American history were when black and white people worked together to make the country a better place in the areas that were not living up to its ideals.

One such instance was in the Underground Railroad, where people of both races risked their lives to bring innocents out of the shackles of slavery. Perhaps the most famous person to be involved with the effort was Harriet Tubman, who was both a beneficiary and a benefactor.

Her last stop on the railroad was at the house of a Quaker named Thomas Garrett, who was known to give a pair of shoes to every fugitive slave who passed through. Tubman arrived at Garrett’s stop, received the shoes, and made her way to freedom.

But there was something missing: her family. She missed them so much that she went back the way she came and brought her family members out of slavery, with the exception of her former husband, who took a new wife and refused to leave. After freeing her relatives, she delivered countless others to Garrett’s house.

For Garrett’s part, his efforts were eventually discovered, and he lost everything for the sake of the cause in which he involved himself. When the sheriff said he hoped Garrett would not undermine the institution of slavery again, Garrett replied: “Friend, I haven’t a dollar in the world, but if thee knows a fugitive anywhere on the face the earth who needs a breakfast, send him to me.”

These acts of courage, Folsom said, are integral to improving race relations in America: “It was black and white working together to fulfill the goals of the Declaration of Independence.”

During the speech, I had this thought: How great it is that this is what the conservative movement is teaching its future. It is in stark contrast to the left-wing orthodoxy of critical race theory, which poisons our discourse.

People who understand what Folsom is saying will be the ones to heal our nation’s wounds along racial lines, and we should all wait with bated breath to see what they accomplish.

Economy & Business

The GOP’s CHIPS Tradeoff

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(Ivan-balvan/Getty Images)

The debate over Congress’s massive, $280 billion China-focused package is over. With the passage of the Chips and Science Act by both houses this week, it now awaits the president’s signature.

In the end, Republican lawmakers could have blocked it, but they declined to do so. The legislation received 17 GOP votes in the Senate and 24 votes in the House, delivering the bill for the White House.

On the one hand, there’s a reasonable case to be made that boosting semiconductor production on U.S. soil is such an imperative that the bill’s deficiencies can be overlooked. Those deficiencies, among other things, include its creation of a “chief diversity officer” for the National Science Foundation, a loophole allowing universities with Confucius Institutes to receive funding, and the removal of previously included provisions to support Taiwan and counter Chinese propaganda.

Proponents of the bill say that it included adequate-enough guardrails to prevent U.S. funding from going to projects in China, and to prevent the theft of intellectual property developed using new government grants.

But the last-minute negotiations surrounding the bill yielded less-than-reassuring results, due to lobbying by the higher-education industry poised to benefit from tens of billions of dollars in research funding and progressive Asian-American activist groups that warned about the potential for certain amendments to inspire xenophobia.

First, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer stripped from the legislation a provision offered by Rob Portman restricting the ability of subsidy recipients to do business in China, per a Washington Free Beacon report:

At issue are provisions written by Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) that bar U.S. companies from manufacturing products in China, such as semiconductors, that were developed using federally funded research. Myriad government and private investigations conclude that the Chinese government routinely steals trade secrets from U.S. companies, government agencies, and universities…

Exactly why Portman’s measure was removed is a matter of ongoing debate on Capitol Hill. One office blamed Rep. Frank Lucas (R., Okla.), the ranking member on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Two Republican offices pointed the finger at Senate Republican staff tasked with whipping support for the CHIPS Act for failing to communicate that the provision was removed ahead of a procedural vote earlier this month. Another office said the decision to remove the guardrail provision was entirely Schumer’s and couldn’t be stopped by Republicans.

Progressive activists simultaneously targeted a different Portman provision that would have effectively barred the entry of individuals involved in technology-transfer schemes counter to U.S. national security. Politico reported on the effort:

Nearly three dozen AAPI, immigration and civil rights advocacy groups, led by the Asian Law Caucus, urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to reject an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that would boost screening requirements on recipients of federal research funding.

The provision was included in the version of the broader economic competitiveness package passed by the Senate last year, but House lawmakers dropped it from their iteration of the bill after lobbying by universities. Portman’s language was left out of the drastically scaled back legislation the Senate began debate on last week, though the senator later said he and other Republicans were under the assumption his research security provision had made the cut and suggested he could pull his support without the language added back in.

Portman’s original language would allow the State Department to find an immigrant inadmissible if the department finds that the individual is seeking to enter the U.S. to acquire sensitive or emerging technologies to undermine U.S. national security interests. In their appeal to Schumer and Pelosi, the groups argue that it “that would deny admission or revoke visas of Chinese nationals and others based on innuendo, bad information, and racial targeting.”

Of course, revoking the visas of “Chinese nationals” involved in efforts to export sensitive U.S.-developed tech is the point. But here, as has been the case elsewhere, progressive outfits hold an ideological predisposition for opposing efforts to counter malign Chinese Communist Party behavior.

In the end, these groups succeeded in blocking Portman’s proposal, after Senator Maria Cantwell intervened, though there are other avenues for its eventual inclusion:

The tradeoff for the pro-CHIPS Republicans all along has been that their support of an overall, subpar, even damaging bill was necessary to secure what they viewed as critically important semiconductor subsidies. So important, in fact, that waiting until the next Congress, in which the GOP would likely have more sway to craft a more solid proposal, was not seen by these members as a tenable solution.

Whatever the merits of their support of the CHIPS bill this week, they now have a particular responsibility to fix its most damaging aspects going forward.

Elections

National GOP Primary Poll: Trump 43 Percent, DeSantis 34 Percent

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

Suffolk has a new national poll showing Florida governor Ron DeSantis as a very competitive candidate against Donald Trump in a 2024 GOP primary:

DeSantis also appears to have more room to grow than Trump does. When Suffolk asked GOP voters to name their second choice, DeSantis was picked by a plurality: 

DeSantis 32 percent
Trump 16 percent
Haley 13 percent
Pence 11 percent
Christie 7 percent
Pompeo 7 percent
Cheney 2 percent

Politics & Policy

‘The Department of Woke’

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For the latest issue of National Review, I wrote about how the State Department’s embrace of “equity” principles is reshaping U.S. diplomacy.

Here’s one example of how State is adjusting its public messaging, and internal use of language, in response to White House directives:

In the immediate aftermath of the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, State attracted derision for a tweet celebrating “International Pronouns Day” and citing an article that noted that some transgender persons use “ze/zir/zirs” as pronouns.

More significantly, there’s a policy-oriented element to State’s preoccupation with gender identity. According to internal departmental documents obtained by National Review, similar work proceeded more quietly within the department throughout 2021, as officials embraced the language of progressive activists. In May of that year, in guidance on sensitivity to transgender employees, the department urged officials to “consider a shift in language to avoid making assumptions that can be offensive to transgender and gender nonconforming employees.” Officials were encouraged to use “words like everyone, colleagues, and esteemed guests rather than ladies and gentlemen.”

Some might say that this is small-ball stuff. But when State Department envoys are tasked with representing the U.S. in the world, and when those envoys embrace viewpoints held mainly by progressive activist groups (often because they come from such organizations, as I note), that has an outsized impact on the story that America tells the rest of the world about itself.

In addition, State’s compliance with the Biden administration’s equity agenda has drained department resources and distracted top U.S. officials from their real jobs:

Already, each bureau has had to assign to at least one deputy assistant secretary the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of order 13985; bureaus may also hire officials dedicated to that responsibility. Biden’s budget request for the coming fiscal year includes $2.6 billion for gender-equity work and supporting “underserved communities.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

Economy & Business

‘Strong Labor Market’

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President Joe Biden listens as he receives an update on economic conditions from his advisors at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

The Biden administration and the most hackety-hackish of its media facilitators argue that our recession cannot be a recession because of the “strong labor market,” as evidenced by the unemployment rate of 3.6 percent.

I am glad the unemployment rate is low; things could be worse.

But.

“Strong labor market”?

I have a hard time accepting that we have a genuinely strong labor market while real wages are declining — and prices are rising about twice as fast as wages. A strong labor market is not one in which workers are working more but producing less (which is what the contracting real GDP means) and being paid less (which is what “declining real wages” means). That doesn’t seem quite right.

But how to explain that low unemployment rate?

It is a pickle.

The labor-force participation rate is one of those metrics that people seem to talk about only when the unemployment rate says something that is politically inconvenient for them. Not only do we have a low unemployment rate, we also have a growing population and a shrinking labor force — making it difficult for businesses to fill some positions but apparently not so difficult as to have a large positive effect on real wages. At least to some extent, workers are scarce in certain industries not because they have been lured away by better wages elsewhere but because they have left for a wage of $0.00, exiting the labor force entirely. Retirement is only part of the reason for that, recent experience suggests.

The labor-force participation rate has declined significantly since 2000, from 67 percent to 62 percent, a decline of about 7 percent. That means (approximately) that for every 14 workers the United States had in the labor force in 2000, we now have only 13. That would be a not especially great development on its own, but this has happened during a period in which the United States has added 50 million people to its population.

Our current labor-force participation rate is higher than it was at any point before the 1970s, but pretty low by the standards of the past 40 years.

Here is the employment-to-population ratio, which seems to have peaked in the 20th century.

Everything should be on the side of wages at least keeping up with inflation, but they aren’t.

I know that 9.1 percent inflation is the big variable here, but it must say something about our economy that the people selling labor, at least at the lower end, don’t seem to have as much pricing power as the people selling potatoes and used cars do.

In any case, don’t try to tell me there’s a “strong labor market” when Americans’ paychecks are shrinking in real terms. We may have a larger share of our shrinking labor force at work, but that isn’t quite the same thing.

Politics & Policy

‘It’s Just a Skinnier Build Back Better’

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Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) attends a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 19, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Did we over-hype Manchin? That’s the question Jim pitches to Michael on today’s edition of The Editors. It’s about perspective, though, as Michael makes clear: “We do have to be honest here. This is dramatically slimmed down and less dangerous to pass than the original version of Build Back Better.” He goes on to say that, “This is something much smaller, much less inflationary,” and he thinks we should be thankful for the overall effect Manchin has had on the direction of this Congress. 

Our resident China expert, Jimmy Quinn also joins the gang today to cover Nancy Pelosi’s possible stop in Taiwan. While the visit would not be unprecedented, China has threatened some type of military action if Pelosi decides to visit the island nation. “We’ve been pursuing a closer diplomatic relationship with Taiwan while still staying true to our One China policy,” Quinn said. “Meanwhile, in Beijing, there’s been a lot of saber-rattling, a lot of flights through Taiwan’s air-defense-identification zone, and more belligerent rhetoric.” 

This is a multi-faceted issue, so what should the Speaker do? Per Quinn: “At the end of the day, there’s this choice that only Speaker Pelosi can make — the White House can’t make it for her. And I think that National Review’s editorial line is correct: She should go.”

Finally, that lurking annoyance, Covid-19, reclaims our attention for a bit, as Jim, Michael, and Jimmy discuss what steps the GOP should take to investigate its origins. There’s a lot to cover, as Jimmy says, and the difficulty for the next Congress will be one of prioritization. Jim follows up with an important point: “It’s worth a deep dive into how we [went], almost over night . . . from a constitutional republic in which people’s rights were first and foremost as laid out in the Bill of Rights, to the kind of country where you could get arrested for being outside. . . . Did people understand the kind of lunacy they were empowering?”

Listen to the whole episode here:

Politics & Policy

Going Forward to Nowhere

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Why “Forward,” the new “centrist” party, won’t make it.

As a general proposition, going forward beats the alternatives. But people don’t always agree on where they should go forward to. The trio is attempting to get broad support by not specifying a destination.