Politics & Policy

Barr-room Brawl

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Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 15, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

I’ll confess that I did not watch the entire Judiciary Committee hearing with Bill Barr; I’m grateful that Andy and Rich did the work for me. But I have seen enough of it to fully agree with their sentiments. It was a circus, full of gross process fouls, and everyone who is familiar at all with Congress knows it.

I was chairman of a House committee for four years. The best chairman I ever served under before or since was Ron Dellums of California, who chaired the House Armed Services Committee during my first term. Ron was pretty much an open socialist, and I didn’t agree with him about anything. But he was a gentleman and smart as a whip, and watching him chair a committee was a great lesson for anybody who had the sense to realize it.

The chairman of a committee is and should be a partisan for his own policy agenda. He expresses that by the subjects he chooses to investigate or legislate, the witnesses he chooses to testify, the timing of hearings, and the activities of the staff he directs.

It’s the privilege of the majority to set and pursue its agenda. But when the hearings begin, the chairman has to act in a more balanced way, like a judge in a courtroom.

Of course styles vary; I was always very informal, for example, and I bent the rules to encourage lively discussion and a debate-like atmosphere. That was partly selfish on my part. Chairmen have to sit through the entire hearing; hearings are, generally, long and dull affairs; and I am easily bored. I liked to stir things up.

But whatever a chairman’s stylistic preference, he has to be even-handed in executing it. Everyone deserves a chance to participate and to advance and defend their views, and the chairman is the guardian of that equity. That’s not just basic fairness; it’s a matter of respect for the constitutional processes, and of the verdict of the people, by which both elected and appointed officers hold their positions.

The five-minute rule was much in display in the Barr hearing. It’s a necessary rule, because otherwise the more junior members would never get the chance to ask questions. But it’s not a straitjacket. The chairman has discretion to give colleagues or witnesses a little more time when it advances the purposes of the hearings.

If the witness is filibustering rather than responding — and that tactic is quite commonly used by seasoned cabinet secretaries and sub-cabinet officials — the chairman should simply remind them that if they don’t respond to the question within the five-minute limit, he’ll allow the member more time to pin the witness down.

Another possibility is for the chairman to take a few minutes himself to follow up on an intriguing question before recognizing the next member. I always reserved to myself and the ranking member the right to ask as many questions as either of us wanted. Usually we would both wait until the end of the hearing out of courtesy to our colleagues, but if a more timely intervention was helpful to establish an important point, I didn’t hesitate to make it, and I never denied the ranking member that opportunity either.

Here is what a chairman should not do.

He should not allow repeated interruptions of witnesses, whether in the name of “reclaiming my time” or not. Members don’t have to ask questions with their time — they can use their entire five minutes to make a statement if they want — but if they ask a question, the witness has to be allowed to answer it.

He should never allow either members or witnesses to be attacked without giving them a chance to respond. It’s fine for members to get rough with witnesses who are professionals, such as government officials, representatives of special-interest groups, or big-shot public figures — as long as the member is willing to take it as well as dish it out. Any member of either party who is afraid of a devastating response should not initiate the attack.

One other ironclad rule for chairing a committee hearing: If, after hours of testifying, a witness needs a bathroom break, you have to give it to him.

Nobody is perfect of course, and occasionally hearings get out of hand, especially in highly partisan committees such as Judiciary. The Democrats on the committee were probably upset by the fact that Barr had dodged testifying for a year. I understand that, but the way they handled the hearing just vindicated Barr’s reluctance.

An able witness is an able witness, and the current attorney general is very accomplished in what he does. He may beat you if you treat him fairly, but he’ll certainly make you look foolish if you don’t.

As I said, this is all a matter of basic fairness and respect for the Constitution. But it’s also important to the effectiveness and reputation of the chairman and the party he represents. There is a reason stories about the Barr hearing received such play on conservative media. Nobody who watched the hearing, and who was not a convinced Democrat, came away from it with a good opinion of the House majority. And I suspect even Democratic partisans realized it was an unforced error and an epic fail.

Politics & Policy

What Would Be the Best Way to Run against a Biden-Rice Ticket?

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Over on the home page, I take a look at 20 things you probably didn’t know about Susan Rice — and Benghazi isn’t one of them, because you almost certainly already know about that. In about a week, that list is going to look prescient and important . . . or quickly forgotten. And I noted in today’s Jolt that if Joe Biden instinctively surrounds himself with familiar faces he already knows and trusts, then I think Rice is the most likely selection.

A smart mind asked me whether the Trump campaign would hammer a Biden-Rice ticket on Russiagate. That’s a likely scenario, but I’m not convinced a focus on Russiagate would be the right message for Trump and the GOP in the circumstances of a pandemic, a steep uphill climb on the economy, etc. Trump and Mike Pence would be better served by talking about the future and what he’ll do in a second term, etc. Although maybe the Trump campaign could get some traction with the argument, “If this crew was willing to break the law and investigate me and demonize me, imagine what they could do to you if they get back into the White House again!”

I think if I were trying to run against Biden-Rice, my message would be something like, “You know Joe Biden is likely to be out in one way or another within a year or two, and then in a President Susan Rice, you’ve got everything you didn’t like about Hillary Clinton — dishonesty, arrogance, self-righteousness, entitlement, disregard for others and the law, right in the Oval Office, which is what you voted to prevent back in 2016!”

Politics & Policy

Paine

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If your mind is your church, you’re probably worshipping a false god.

Culture

The Progressive Patriarchy Advances

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(Demetrius Freeman/Reuters)

A while back, I wrote a piece here at NRO about why I believe feminism and radical gender ideology are incompatible. The occasion for those thoughts was the participation of Angela Ponce, a biological male who identifies as a woman, in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant and the general acclaim with which most of the media greeted this individual.

On entering the pageant, Ponce wrote on Instagram: “Today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights,” and later said of the possibility of winning the competition, “Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.”

In response to this, I posed the question (which is enough to get you drummed out of polite company and off of most social-media platforms these days): Can Ponce actually “represent all women” without being a woman at all?

Since I wrote that article, developments on this front have only escalated, with this recent CNN tweet as a prime example:

For those who aren’t up to date on the latest intersectional lingo, “individuals with a cervix” is one of the approved progressive ways to refer to biological women, as it supposedly takes into account transgender and “non-binary” individuals. So, for instance, a biological woman who identifies as a man might still be an “individual with a cervix,” and using this phrase includes such a person, while the word “woman” would not.

Likewise, “individuals with a cervix” might, from the perspective of radical gender theory, be taken to include biological men who identify as women and who, despite not having a cervix, need to be included in the category of what we’d typically consider “women” and yet might be excluded by the use of the word “women.”

In short, transgender ideology demands that, in the name of equality and inclusion, we refrain from using the words “men” and “women,” “boys” and “girls,” because to do so might offend or exclude those whose self-identification or expression of gender doesn’t line up with their biology. And, if CNN is any indication, the media appear ready to conform.

There are quite a few things wrong with this upside-down state of affairs, but one of the most interesting is the way in which it contradicts another of the Left’s reigning dogmas: radical feminism. If you’ll forgive me for quoting myself, here’s how I put it back in that piece from December 2018:

And what does this new frontier of progressivism mean for other planks of the platform? The unassailable dogma that women are constantly oppressed and subjugated by the patriarchy — that we can only be free if we recognize and disempower the tyranny of white male privilege that prevents women from expressing ourselves and taking control of our lives — requires that there is such a thing as womanhood, and that it can be defined consistently.

Ponce’s much-hailed appearance in the Miss Universe contest, on the other hand, implies societal acceptance of the idea that men can in fact be women.

These two doctrines of progressivism are in fundamental tension. Even if one accepts the notion that some biological males can feel so female that they essentially are, in some intangible way, women, such a view necessarily conflicts with the feminist claim that there is something unique about being a woman — and that womanhood deserves to be shielded from the encroachment of male power.

The wholehearted embrace of transgender ideology necessarily, and quite intentionally, erases womanhood. It allows biological males to don the mantle of femaleness simply by asserting that it is their birthright. There has never been a more patriarchal claim.

I titled that article “The Progressive Patriarchy,” and this casual use of the phrase “individuals with a cervix” to refer to women seems to reinforce that characterization. We are now being told — by the very same ideologues insisting that conservatives are sexist misogynists who are evil for recognizing the immutable realities of biology — that we can no longer use the word “woman,” because to do so might contradict the notion that biological men can be women, and vice versa. They are, in short, erasing the concept of womanhood for the sake of ratifying the fiction that being a man or a woman means nothing at all.

Politics & Policy

The Fed and Racial Equality

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Biden says that he wants to add to the Federal Reserve’s mission: It should promote economic equality among races as well as low inflation and unemployment. This idea hasn’t gotten much attention — CNN’s write-up of the speech where Biden unveiled it didn’t mention it. At Bloomberg Opinion, I argue that it would be a mistake to distract the central bank from its basic mission of stabilizing the business cycle.

Education

UCLA Beclowns Itself in Fighting ‘Racism’

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Academic freedom now takes a back seat to the tender feelings of social-justice warriors on campus. Just how bad have things gotten? A recent incident at UCLA tells us.

Education writer and former UCLA faculty member Walt Gardner writes about it in today’s Martin Center article. 

A lecturer in political science made the horrible mistake of quoting Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In it, King himself used the n-word. The lecturer mistakenly assumed that his students were adult enough to understand that he was just quoting the letter, not making any racial slur himself. Now he is in hot water with the school’s Discrimination Prevention Office. No one in a position of authority seems willing to speak up for him.

Colleges and universities proclaim that he want their students to develop “critical thinking” skills. But, Gardner asks, “How can students be expected to develop critical thinking if the material they are exposed to has been bowdlerized?”

One has to wonder if students actually felt hurt that the lecturer exposed them to that word — or has it simply become a kind of sport among “woke” students to see how many scalps they can claim through their whimpering?

Gardner sums up the situation up: “No one is suggesting that slurs, epithets, and the like deserve a forum. But censuring an instructor who quotes directly from original sources — sources opposing racism, no less — just because the words he recites offend some students makes a mockery of real education and academic freedom.”

Politics & Policy

House Democrats Introduce ‘First-Ever Bill’ to Fund Elective Abortions in Foreign Countries with U.S. Tax Dollars

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Since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade asserted a constitutional right to abortion, the Helms Amendment has banned the use of U.S. tax dollars to pay directly for elective abortions in foreign countries.

This week, several House Democrats introduced what they are describing as the “First-Ever Bill to Repeal the Helms Amendment.”

In a press release, the original cosponsors of the new bill say the prohibition on funding abortion overseas is racist: 

“The Helms Amendment is a policy deeply rooted in racism. It imposes our arbitrary and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions on international communities, allowing the United States to control the health care and bodily autonomy of billions Black and brown people around the world. Just like the Hyde Amendment, the Helms Amendment puts reproductive and economic freedom out of reach for women of color. But enough is enough, and both amendments must fall if we want to realize true health equity and reproductive justice,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “I am proud that my sisters Representatives Lowey, Lee, Speier, Pressley, DeGette, and Torres are joining me to introduce the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, which will finally repeal the Helms Amendment. Comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe, legal, and accessible abortion, is a human right.”

In January of this year, a Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus asked Americans if they supported or opposed “using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.”

The result: 76 percent of Americans oppose using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries, while 21 percent support it.

Education

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, the Beautiful

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Carl Schurz, 1829–1906 (Library of Congress)

Who is that stern-looking man up there? That’s Carl Schurz, but I’ll get to him in a moment. My Impromptus today raises a number of issues, as usual, most of them very sensitive, as usual.

I begin with this: For 50 years, Bill Buckley labored to separate conservatism from kookery. How’s that going? I touch on the issue of President Trump and Dr. Stella Immanuel (she of the “demon sperm”). Do young people today look at Trump and TrumpWorld and think, “This is conservatism”? If so, what does that mean?

There is also the issue of Trump and Russia — Putin’s Russia. Repeatedly, the president draws a moral equivalence between the United States and this Russia. Why? Who can explain it?

I further discuss an ugly episode at a 7-Eleven. The late, joyous Regis Philbin. And more. See what you like (and dislike).

Here is a podcast — a Q&A — with David Pryce-Jones. His new book is Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime. I talk with DP-J about some interesting people he has known: including Aldous Huxley, W. H. Auden, Rebecca West, Saul Bellow, Erich Segal — the list is pretty wonderful.

For many years, people have been debating the question of U.S. history and how to teach it in the schools. That debate has come to a boil in recent days. Here in the Corner, I’d like to offer a few basic thoughts.

You know the expression “warts and all” (which arises from portraiture). Well, I think history should be taught warts and all — but don’t make it merely warts.

Bernard Lewis, the late Middle East scholar, once said, “There is an old saying: ‘My country, right or wrong.’ It seems that many Americans have changed that into, ‘My country, wrong.’”

Which leads me to Carl Schurz — the German immigrant who became a Union general, a U.S. senator, and other things in his interesting, productive life. I cherish something he once said: “‘My country, right or wrong’: when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be set right.”

I also cherish something that Jeane Kirkpatrick said: “Someday Americans will have to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant it is.”

I’m all for teaching the warts, believe me — even stressing the warts, if you like, in order to illustrate the gap between ideals and reality. But do not forget the rest.

Have a good one.

Fiscal Policy

Congress Is Blowing Its Deadline for COVID Relief

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A man who lost his job leaves an Arkansas Workforce Center after filing for unemployment amid the spread of the coronavirus in Fayetteville, Ark., April 6, 2020. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

On Wednesday I had a piece that started this way:

You can give House Democrats credit for one thing: When they realized that another COVID-19 relief bill would be necessary, they got right on it. Their HEROES Act — I won’t bore you with the full name — has been passed and sitting on the shelf for a couple of months now. Senate Republicans, by contrast, just unveiled their HEALS Act proposal this week, as the previous round of unemployment relief approached its end-of-July expiration date.

Thus, we’re in for another one of those confusing bursts of last-minute legislative chaos, in which major provisions change constantly as the House, the Senate, and the White House try to whip up something they can all agree on. More than likely, we’ll find out too late about a bunch of drafting errors and unintended loopholes, but that’s Washington for you.

I was too optimistic. Instead of passing a rush job or even just temporarily extending the status quo while working out the next step, Congress is blowing the deadline. Reports The Hill:

Enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire as congressional negotiators are deadlocked over a coronavirus relief deal.

The additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance that Congress provided in late March will sunset on Friday at midnight, dealing a significant financial blow to millions of jobless Americans amid a weakening labor market.

Lawmakers had hoped the deadline, which was known for months, would result in the kind of eleventh-hour agreement that was once commonplace in Washington. But in a sign of how far apart negotiators are, the Senate left town for the week on Thursday, ensuring Congress will careen over the looming unemployment cliff.

And while the GOP Senate waited until the last possible second to get moving, the Democrats rejected a lengthy extension of the $600-per-week unemployment boost, per Politico:

[White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows made an offer to extend enhanced unemployment at $600 per week for four months as a stand-alone bill. This is a new offer from the White House, and further than Republicans have gone thus far. It’s an extension of current law — something the GOP has railed against. Pelosi and Schumer rejected the offer, and countered with extending enhanced unemployment insurance at the same rate — $600 per week — through the first quarter of 2021.

Bang-up job, everyone!

Politics & Policy

Remembering Herman Cain

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Herman Cain, the pizza magnate and talk-radio host who sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, died Thursday of COVID-19 at the age of 74.

David Von Drehle has a nice appreciation of Cain at the Washington Post.

Cain’s 2012 campaign staffer Ellen Carmichael remembers her boss in this Twitter thread: 

Matt Lewis shares a story Cain recounted of growing up under segregation: 

In 2011, I spent some time with Cain for a story about his presidential campaign, which you can read here.

Politics & Policy

In God We Trust

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(traveler1116/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

On July 30, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the law P. L. 84-140, which made “In God We Trust” the nation’s official motto. The motto had appeared on coins since the Civil War era, but now it would also be printed on paper currency.

Critics grumbled about the new motto stamped on their dollar bills. To them, the law was an unholy marriage between church and state. Eisenhower was raised religious and baptized as a Presbyterian in adulthood; his baptism took place one year into his first presidential term. He was devout, undoubtedly, though any sober-minded person would conclude that he never acted like a zealot.

In fact, his decision to make “In God We Trust” our national motto had nothing to do with forcing his own flavor of Christianity upon the citizens of the United States. Rather, it was to foster a sense of spirituality and transcendence that had been lost after the carnage of World War II and the dropping of the atomic bombs.

On Flag Day in 1954, Eisenhower delivered a speech addressing the new phrase he had added lawfully to the Pledge to the Flag. The phrase was: “Under God”.

Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. Man everywhere is appalled by the prospect of atomic war. In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.

In 2020, there are political tribes and vocal ideological minorities such as Black Lives Matter and the illiberal Catholic Integralists who want to force their ethics onto their fellow citizens in a despotic fashion. Eisenhower’s spiritual wisdom offers a timely viewpoint that resists this grotesque ‘tyranny of the minority’.

It was also wisdom shared by the great pamphleteer and patriot Thomas Paine. Writing in the Age of Reason, Paine articulates a sentiment similar to Eisenhower’s:

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. . . . I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. . . . I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

Economics

ESG on a Tear, But No Boohoo (Maybe)

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A sign for BlackRock at their building in New York City (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The attempt to legislate for society via shareholder resolution rather than old-fashioned elections trundles on.

A week or so back, S&P Global reported that BlackRock, the world’s largest asset-management company, and, these days, one of the most prominent advocates of “socially responsible” investing (SRI), had been voting the shares that it controls in the way that it has been promising:

BlackRock Inc. voted against dozens of management recommendations during the 2020 shareholder proxy season after finding that those companies were not making enough progress on climate issues.

In a report released July 14, the world’s largest asset manager said it had identified 244 companies . . . that “are making insufficient progress integrating climate risk into their business models or disclosures.”

Nearly 80% of those companies were placed “on watch,” a classification that BlackRock uses to tell those management teams that they have 12 to 18 months to meet its climate expectations or risk facing voting action next year. For the remaining 53 companies, BlackRock took several material actions against management including siding with shareholders on their proposals, voting against board members and raising governance concerns. The companies that BlackRock took voting action against during the 2020 proxy season came from a mix of industries, though energy dominated that cohort with 37 companies, according to the report. BlackRock also voted against proposals at seven utility companies, four industrials companies, four materials companies and one financial firm.

“A wide variety of investors, including BlackRock, have expressed their concerns about the investment risks of insufficient climate risk management,” the company wrote. “In 2020, we took voting action against those companies where we found corporate leadership unresponsive to investors’ concerns about climate risk or assessed their disclosures to be insufficient given the importance to investors of detailed information on climate risk and the transition to a low-carbon economy.”…

With $6.467 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock is one of the largest shareholders at most publicly traded companies in the U.S. As a result, BlackRock has faced pressure from climate activists for years to use its position to introduce sweeping changes at its portfolio companies. Fink’s January letter sent a clear message that climate, as well as other environmental, social and governance issues, would be paramount in BlackRock’s stewardship going forward.

“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” Fink wrote. “In the near future — and sooner than most anticipate — there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

A “defining factor.” Really? It’s not necessary to be a climate ‘denier’ (FWIW, I’m a ‘lukewarmer’), to think that statement might owe as much to ideology as to science.

In one sense, albeit a self-fulfilling sense, Fink is right, however. If enough investors convince themselves that they should not be putting money into assets deemed to be responsible for climate change, then (1) whether they are right or wrong about climate change, or, (2) perhaps even more importantly, whether or not changing corporate behavior in the manner that they want will make any material difference to the way that the climate changes, their unwillingness to invest will still depress the value of those assets now deemed to be unacceptable.

Bloomberg Green (sic):

The Mt Arthur coal mine in Australia is one of the world’s best. It’s got plenty of reserves and the low-cost supplies produced there are easily shipped to Southeast Asia, where there’s insatiable appetite for the fuel.

Yet owner BHP Group has a problem: It’s struggling to find a buyer willing to pay the right price.

The world’s biggest mining company’s unsuccessful effort over the past year to offload the asset highlights the predicament producers are in. To bow to mounting investor pressure to exit the most polluting fuel, BHP may need to sell a profitable mine for much less than it believes it’s worth. . . .

Coal-asset values have collapsed quickly. Rio Tinto Group sold its last coal mines for almost $4 billion just two years ago amid strong interest from big miners and private equity groups. Now rivals BHP and Anglo American Plc risk paying the price of waiting too long.

“We could have exited a few years back, and we probably would have got a better price, but we’ve also made good cash flows from what are good assets,” Anglo American Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said. “How we exit is more important to me, in terms of stakeholders and reputation, than getting an absolute number on the bottom line.”

It appears that “stakeholders and reputation” matter more, at least where this is concerned, than the bottom line.

That sounds like a comment from a CEO who has forgotten who owns his company and for whom, therefore, he works, at least in theory. That would be the shareholders.

Meanwhile, there’s been some embarrassment in that what is probably the most important subset of SRI, so-called ESG investing, where investors look at how companies shape up against certain somewhat variably defined environmental (‘E’), social (‘S’) and governance (‘G’) criteria.

The Financial Times:

Just weeks before Boohoo was hit with fresh allegations about poor working practices in factories that make its clothes, MSCI gave the UK fast-fashion retailer a clean bill of health.

The rating and index provider reiterated Boohoo’s double A rating — its second-highest ranking — while highlighting how it scored far above the industry average on supply-chain labour standards in a June update of the online retailer’s environmental, social and governance ranking.

That exceptional rating — which placed Boohoo among the top 15 per cent of its peers based on ESG metrics — as well as the decision by so-called sustainable funds to invest in the retailer has come under fire in recent weeks after the Sunday Times claimed garment workers at a Leicester factory making clothes for one of Boohoo’s brands were paid below the minimum wage and suffered poor working conditions.

Boohoo has since announced an independent review of its UK supply chain, said it had not uncovered “evidence of suppliers paying workers £3.50 per hour”, and alleged there were inaccuracies in the investigative reporting. . . .

Several asset managers pointed to Boohoo’s good ESG ratings, both from MSCI and others, as a factor in their investment decision even if some say they also carry out their own analysis.

The influence of ESG rating providers has grown significantly in recent years in tandem with an explosion in demand for sustainable investing, as groups from large pension funds to retail investors look for investment products that do good as well as generate returns.

We will have to see what (if anything) the review turns up, but this, from the London Times, wasn’t reassuring:

Investors who bought Boohoo shares because of its high ethical ratings missed a “clear red flag” that should have alerted them to problems in its supply chain, a leading City broker says.

In a highly critical research note, Liberum said some of the fast-fashion group’s institutional investors should have queried limited disclosures on the sources of its cut-price clothing.

The company has won a loyal following among ethically minded shareholders, thanks to rankings on environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. . . .

There are a lot of questions that can be asked about ESG, ranging from issues of fiduciary duty, to the fees charged on some ESG products, to the logic of bundling E, S and, the relatively uncontroversial G together, both from the point of view of performance (there is some evidence that suggests G adds to performance, while E and S detract) and logic. What’s more, sometimes the dictates of E and S can pull in opposite directions. The relative weighting attached to the E and the S can also lead to very different results. There can even be disagreement on how to score within a single category.

The Irish Times:

“MSCI gave Tesla a near-perfect score for environment, due to its emphasis on the low carbon produced and its clean technology,” notes the SCM report, “whilst FTSE gave it a ‘zero’ on environment as it only rates the emissions from its factories [something that in fact is heavily related to Tesla’s disclosure policies]”.

All this has produced rich pickings for the ESG ratings agencies. They are just part of the profitably flourishing eco-system that SRI has generated. They have, of course, a vested interest in seeing that market grow.

Not that they have to worry about that for now.

The Financial Times:

More than 360 new ESG-focused funds were launched by asset managers across Europe last year alone according to data provider Morningstar. Investors have piled into sustainable funds, which pulled in a record-breaking €120bn in Europe last year — 2.5 times the amount in 2018.

Immigration

DACA Drags On

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DACA supporters outside the White House, September 2017 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

DACA is shaping up to be like the Spanish-American War tax or Jim Geraghty’s USDA Agency of Invasive Species — an almost unkillable absurdity.

Since the first days of this administration, I’ve been trying to hold the president to his unequivocal promise to terminate the unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “on Day One.” The White House was afraid to follow through, but eventually, on Day 228, DHS rescinded (with a wind-down period) the Obama-era memo that granted work permits to roughly three-quarters of a million illegal immigrants who came here before age 16.

What no one anticipated at the time were the lengths to which our lawless courts would go to keep DACA in place; my colleague Andrew Arthur includes a DACA timeline in a piece today. The Supreme Court ruled 5–4 last month (guess who was number five) that DACA — a program pulled out of thin air, with no basis in statute or regulation — could only be rescinded by jumping through the hoops of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which is supposed to be for promulgating and changing formal regulations, not ephemeral (not to mention illegal) policy directives.

This week, the administration finally responded to the absurd SCOTUS ruling with a plan for coming up with a rescission order that won’t give John Roberts any pretext for continuing to delay the termination of the program. In the meantime, the new DHS directive allows DACA to continue, though with no new applications, with a renewable duration of only one year from the current two years, and ending the practice of granting “advance parole” to DACAs (which facilitates the conversion of DACA’s amnesty-lite to the amnesty-premium of a green card). In addition, DHS has proposed charging a fee for DACA renewals; currently there is no fee for DACA itself, only for the work permit and fingerprinting. This would raise the total cost of renewing DACA from $495 to $765 (which is still only about half of what it actually costs to process the package of DACA applications, meaning the rest is poached from fees paid by legal immigrants).

Some immigration hawks were disappointed that DHS isn’t just pulling the plug on DACA immediately. The Heritage Foundation, for instance, said that “conservatives are right to be disappointed that DACA continues to live on.” But as the OG Squeaky Wheel for ending DACA, I actually think the administration is approaching this the only way it can. Since any new rescission order will receive a judicial colonoscopy, DHS needs to make sure to polish its every emanation and penumbra. None of that should be necessary for the simple rescission of a memo, but that’s the hand that’s been dealt.

Even if the new belt-and-suspenders rescission memo is issued before January 20, if Biden wins, his DHS secretary (Ilhan Omar may be looking for a job!) will simply rescind the rescission — and, needless to say, the #Resistance judiciary won’t hold a Democratic administration to the same bogus APA standard as they have Trump.

Of course, Congress could rouse itself to do some legislating and give the DACAs green cards (something the president has supported, with conditions, for years), but I’m not holding my breath.

Adoption
Twenty-Five Things that Caught My Eye Today: Family Heartache, Anti-Semitism in Brooklyn, Finding Beauty in Creation & More (July 30, 2020)

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1. Lord have mercy on this heartbroken family  — the heroic birth mother and heroic adoptive parents and all who love them.

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4.

5. People: Tx. Pastor Killed by Car While Helping Stranded Motorist: He ‘Gave His Life’ So ‘Others May Live’

6. NBC New York: ‘My Son Is Gone:’ Heartache, Tears at Funeral of 1-Year-Old Killed in NYC Shooting

7. Chuck Donovan & Donna Harrison: COVID-19 Has Given Abortion Providers a Terrifying Opportunity, And They’re Acting Fast

With a stroke of his pen, a single federal judge in Maryland has struck down a longstanding health regulation from the Food and Drug Administration that was designed to provide women with a modicum of contact with a member of the medical profession.

In a giant leap backward for humankind, Judge Theodore Chuang imposed a new policy, initially limited to the era of COVID-19, that allows abortion facilities to operate essentially as pill mills.

8. BBC News: Mexico Supreme Court rejects state’s bid to decriminalise abortion

9. George W. Bush at John Lewis’s funeral

10. R.I.P.

11. Walter Russell Mead: “There are still liberals in the Arab world, and some of them are secular, but nobody thinks they will drive policy for the foreseeable future.

12.

13. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Sean O’Malley & Archbishop Jose H. Gomez: Catholic Schools Are Worth Saving

Catholic schools are worth saving not only for the proven results in serving children from low-income, working-class and middle-income families, but because of the impact our schools have on American society as a whole.

Continue reading “Twenty-Five Things that Caught My Eye Today: Family Heartache, Anti-Semitism in Brooklyn, Finding Beauty in Creation & More (July 30, 2020)”

Elections

Congressional Republicans Sound Off on Trump’s Election-Delay Tweet

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President Trump’s tweet floating the postponement of the November general election — something that has never happened and something only Congress has the constitutional authority to do — prompted a backlash from a congressional GOP caucus that’s usually reluctant to criticize him.

Texas congressman Will Hurd: “We are not an authoritarian government.”

Nebraska senator Ben Sasse: “The President should not sow distrust, and state governments should safeguard the ballot box whether the votes are cast this fall by mail or in person.”

Iowa senator Chuck Grassley: “All these things are pretty well set and have been going on for decades. And so we’re a country based on the rule of law so nobody’s going to change anything until we change the law.”

Missouri senator Roy Blunt: “The United States held elections during the Civil War, the 1918 pandemic, and World War II. There is no justification for changing the date of the upcoming November elections.”

More comments from Senate Republicans in this thread: 

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