Politics & Policy

‘Fact-Checking’ and Statist Disinformation

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This Brownstone Institute essay by Vinay Prasad asks “For Whom Do the Covid ‘Fact-Checkers’ really Work?”

They certainly don’t work for the good of the public.

Key paragraph: “So here is what blows my mind: We are living in a world where the CDC director can say something that is false, made-up and no institution will say otherwise. At the same time, major, venerable fact checking institutions are literally asserting as fact something which is at best unproven.”

Politics & Policy

It’s Not Tribalism to Oppose What We’ve Always Opposed 

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Phil’s, ahem, strong views on the Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill have gotten a lot of attention. You can argue that he’s wrong on the merits or the politics (I don’t believe he is), but you can’t say he’s inconsistent:

Someone came at me with the same argument, but then backed off when I tweeted back a link to one of our editorials criticizing one of Trump’s nascent infrastructure proposals:

As a general matter, we’ve never been kind toward Republican supporters of big spending, no matter who is president or what the circumstances (within limits, of course — sometimes there are genuine national emergencies).

White House

38 Percent

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President Joe Biden looks on as he delivers remarks on the U.S. debt ceiling from the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. October 4, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

I used to say, you know, like a week ago, that if Biden cratered, he’d be in the high 30s in approval. I think I need to update my view of what would constitute true cratering, because he’s already at 38 percent in the new USA Today poll:

Biden’s job approval rating is dismal, too, at 38% approve, 59% disapprove. He has the lowest rating of any modern president at this point in his term except Trump. Studies have concluded that a president’s job approval rating is one of the most powerful factors affecting midterm elections.

The generic ballot, which usually doesn’t fully capture the Republican advantage when the GOP is ahead, is also flashing red for Democrats:

If the election were today, those surveyed say, they would vote for their Republican congressional candidate over the Democratic one by 46%-38%, an advantage that would bode well for GOP hopes of gaining a majority in the House and the Senate.

Other worrisome findings for Biden:

— Nearly half of those surveyed, 46%, say Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected, including 16% of those who voted for him. Independents, by 7–1 (44%-6%), say he’s done worse, not better, than they expected.

— Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 64%, say they don’t want Biden to run for a second term in 2024. That includes 28% of Democrats. Opposition to Trump running for another term in 2024 is nearly as high, at 58%. That includes 24% of Republicans.

— Vice President Kamala Harris’s approval rating is 28% — even worse than Biden’s. The poll shows that 51% disapprove of the job she’s doing. One in five, 21%, are undecided.

The good news for Democrats is that there’s two-to-one support for the infrastructure bill, so its passage could take some of the edge off this discontent, although I’m not sure how much people really care about it one way or the other.

 

U.S.

R.I.P. Boomer

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(Photo: Mark Antonio Wright)

Eleven years ago, in the summer of 2010, Henry Latimer got a dog, a yellow Labrador puppy he named “Boomer” — and it changed my life forever.

When Hank acquired Boomer, he and I were both seniors at the University of Oklahoma, though we didn’t know each other then. Because of his new canine companion, Hank had to move out of his fraternity house and find alternate accommodations. Always resourceful, Hank quickly found a newly renovated rent house at 1029 Trout Ave, directly across the street from campus, and moved in with a couple of hastily assembled roommates: Mark, who had a somewhat-obscure connection to the owners, and Josh and Ace, who Hank knew from Oklahoma’s land-man program and summer internships in Louisiana and Denver.

I lived a block down the street in a dilapidated rent house. I was paying the preposterous sum of $75 per month to sublet the house’s unfinished basement from a couple of buddies. My basement was dirt cheap — and, therefore, a Godsend for a broke college kid like me — but it was also dingy, dank, and unheated. The ancient, slowly collapsing basement’s retaining walls were propped up by steel girders. Whenever it rained, it flooded. And when it was 20 degrees outside, it was 20 degrees in my basement. On account of those conditions, and because I knew Ace from back home, I started spending more and more time down the street at Hank’s house on Trout.

The Trout House — or, as we came to call it, “the Trout Bar” — was a 22-year-old college kid’s dream. The living room had a full-sized pool table and a bar, beer fridge, and kegerator that Hank and his buddy, Dan, built and installed the first weekend after they all moved in. The backyard had a swimming pool and the den had — I kid you not — an indoor hot tub, which was awesome until we broke it and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. There was a fire pit and a smoke pit and the house had a washer and dryer. And all of it was a five-minute walk to Campus Corner, the university’s pub and restaurant district.

But, while the college dive-bar scene was great, life at the Trout Bar was really about the house parties. The floor plan, flowing from the billiards-and-bar room to the big-screen-TV-sportin’ living room to the hot-tub area to the backyard pool deck, was an all-American undergraduate Shangri-La. 

The Trout Bar on a Friday or Saturday (or, yes, Thursday) night was a whirling dervish of chaos and fun, Oklahoma football watch parties, hot tubbing with Dan and the boys, beer-pong tournaments, costume spectaculars, Game of Thrones viewings, and a launching point for hungover Sunday-morning brunch at Cafe Plaid. And, through it all — through every part of it — there was Boomer.

Boomer the pup would wander through the Trout House, getting pat-pats and ear scritches and belly rubs from all comers. He’d snatch your food if you weren’t looking and chase squirrels into the street and fall asleep on your feet. He spent his days cleaning up spilled food and barking at the crows in the backyard. Dan and I would take him on walks around the block as an excuse to talk to co-eds who couldn’t resist Boomer’s doggy goodness. We’d reward him by filling his water bowl with cheap beer, which he’d happily lap up with a doggy grin.

Boomtown was a lot of things, but smart wasn’t one of them. Almost overnight, he sprouted from a little yellow puppy into a big, lanky, clumsy yellow puppy and then into a really big, clumsy, lazy hound dog. He always had a squeaky toy in his mouth and a smile on his face. He was a good boy. The best of boys. He was Hank’s dog, but he was also all our dog — the unofficial doggy mascot for the half-dozen of Hank’s buddies swirling around his life.

Through the end of college and on into “the real world,” Hank would take Boomer everywhere we went: on road trips to Dallas for the Oklahoma-Texas game or to the Rockies to ski, camping in the woods, or a weekend at the lake. I once spent a summer housesitting, and somehow Boomtown ended up housesitting with me for a week. I don’t even remember how that happened, just that it did and that it was fun.

As happens in life, guys started moving away — to Texas or New York or California. There were girlfriends and engagements, marriages and divorces. Some of us had kids. Some of us lost parents. We traveled and took out mortgages and joined the Marines. But Hank and Boomer were always there wherever we went and whenever we came home. His hips and eyes were getting worn out, and he was increasingly on the tubby side, but his good-boy spirit never wavered.

Last night, Boomer, now old and aged and suffering from a myriad of ailments, finally ran out of steam. He’d been pretty sick for the last week, and the vet said he was suffering from cardiac failure. Overnight, Hank texted us all, saying Boomer had been “a little better in the morning and had a fairly good day hanging around the yard then went downhill at night.” It all happened pretty quickly and peacefully, and then Boomer died.

The truth is, as Hank texted me later, that if he had never bought Boomer, he never would’ve opted to get a rent house instead of living at his fraternity for his last semester, wouldn’t have found the Trout House, and wouldn’t have asked those guys to move in with him.

“More importantly,” Hank wrote me, “my moving into the Trout House is the only reason you met and became friends with Dan, who basically lived on our couch for months. It’s also the only reason we were hanging out with Dan for that Oklahoma game when Tara lived above him, which was what led to the two of you meeting.”

Tara is my wife of five years. We have two little boys.

You see, in the fall of 2013, I rolled into Norman on an Oklahoma football game day. I spent the afternoon with Hank and Ace and Dan, and we ended the night at Dan’s apartment, just down the street from the Trout House. We were well into our cups and celebrating the win, and yes, probably being obnoxiously loud, so Dan announced that he needed to go upstairs and apologize to the upstairs-neighbor-girl for all the noise. That upstairs-neighbor-girl was Tara.

“So it’s not a stretch,” Hank wrote me, “to say that me getting Boomer played a direct role in you and Tara meeting.”

They say that life is about the little things, and that’s true. But sometimes the little things are also the biggest things, like a house on Trout with a bar and a hot tub, like life-long friendships, and having to apologize to the upstairs-neighbor-girl for being too loud — like big, dumb, yellow dogs.

Eleven years ago, in the summer of 2010, Henry Latimer got a dog, a yellow Labrador puppy he named “Boomer” — and it changed my life forever.

Rest in peace, Boomtown. You were a good boy. The best of boys.

Media

Bill Maher vs. Greta Thunberg: ‘Shut the F*** Up’

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Bill Maher (HBO/YouTube)

In his closing monologue Friday night, Bill Maher launched a devastating seven-minute attack not only on Greta Thunberg, the youthful climate-change hysteric, but on what you might call Thunberg-ism. Maher made clear that his sympathies lie generally with the Left’s environmentalist doomsaying but said Thunberg simply doesn’t matter as much as, say, Kylie Jenner:

Someone must tell [Thunberg], you may be the conscience of your generation, but you don’t represent it. I really wish you did, Greta, but you don’t. But I can show you who does. [Puts up picture of Kylie Jenner sitting on a roll of money]

Maher points out that Jenner has 279 million followers on Instagram, 266 million more than Thunberg. One of these young women is a lot more influential than the other, and it isn’t the carbon Puritan but the conspicuous consumer who best represents the youth.

The young woman who refuses to fly, or the young woman who refuses to fly commercial?…This is not a screed against comfort or capitalism, I’m fond of both. . . . Like her dad, [Jenner] is a self-made woman. But Kylie embodies and embraces a lifestyle that is pretty much the opposite of carbon neutral. The younger generations f***ing love it . . . she also has entire rooms full of things she’s only worn once. . . . In polls young people always claim to be more concerned about climate change than other generations, but they don’t act like it. . . . The cognitive dissonance between planet-destroying conspicuous consumption and planet-saving rhetoric is breathtaking. You say you love Greta and her message but everything else you love is a climate disaster. Far from rejecting consumerism, young people are so obsessed with labels. . .

Maher goes on to say that young folks love Bitcoin,

the mining of which is worse for the environment than actual mining. Cryptocurrency uses more energy than Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google combined, and more than some entire nations, and yet young people could not love it more if it came with a side of avocado toast. 94 percent of crypto buyers are either Millennials or Gen Z which makes it a little hollow when you’re out there chanting for us to put the planet ahead of profits. What do crypto fans say about this? They say, ‘Well, yes, it uses too much energy now but in the future . . .’ Oh yeah, ‘in the future,’ that’s right. Same thing my generation said. ‘Let them handle it in the future, I’ll get mine now.’ Like Bitcoin, the smartphone is a huge contributor to carbon emissions because the cloud isn’t a cloud, of course, it’s a vast network of servers . . . all that liking and subscribing and following requires lots of fossil fuels. And yet you would need the jaws of life to pry a smartphone out of the hands of anyone under 30. What would it take to convince Gen Z and Millennials to give up their phones? A pollster once asked, and 43 percent said it would take five million dollars to give up their phone. One in ten said they’d sacrifice a finger for it.

Maher notes “you can’t do both,” meaning the Thunberg way and the Jenner way. Jenner publicly decried the loss of 500 million animals in Australian wildfires, then showed off her $1500 mink slippers:

It’s always so sad when fire kills potential slippers . . . do you want to be progressive, or excessive? . . . When Kylie’s lifestyle becomes uncool and unpopular and you stop loving Bitcoin and stop thinking that stuffing your face is harmless, then I’ll take you seriously. Until then, shut the f*** up about how older generations ruined the planet. . . . I wish your generation was better than mine. I really do. The sad truth is, we’re completely the same. Lots of talk, and at the end of the day, hopelessly seduced and addicted to pigging out on convenience, luxury and consumption.

History

Who Could Argue with Dan Rather?

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Dan Rather visits SiriusXM Studios in New York City, September 10, 2019. (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

No, seriously. With whom is he arguing here?

Nobody of any standing — certainly nobody worth listening to — is asserting otherwise. Of course the history of slavery and Jim Crow must be taught.

The Intercept’s Lee Fang offers a glimpse here at what the debate Dan Rather is referencing actually is about. So do Daniel Buck and Anthony Kinnett, writing for National Review.

It’s almost as if some in the commentariat haven’t bothered to inspect the CRT debate in good faith, as if doing so might require them to drop the “racism” narrative in explaining the Virginia election results, and as if, suspecting this, they stick with a fallacious reading that upholds this tidy telling.

Politics & Policy

Applying Public Choice Theory to the Pressure for Vaccinations

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A staff member at Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease vaccine from Walgreens Pharmacist Craig Brandt in Brooklyn, N.Y., January 4, 2021. (Yuki Iwamura/Reuters)

Back in 1983, economics professor Bruce Yandle argued that much of what goes on in government can be explained as the collaboration of “Baptists” and “Bootleggers.” That is, those who want a certain policy because they believe it to be ethically right and those who know they’ll make money from it.

In this AIER essay, Max Borders applies Yandle’s analysis to the current demand by so many government officials that everyone get the COVID vaccine.

A slice: “Fauci, President Biden, and all the MSM sentinels are the moralists in this equation, that is, if Prof. Yandle will permit a not-so-bright line between moralism and savior complex. They want to be known as the ones who beat the pandemic. One might even say Fauci has been planning for this his whole career. Now he graces us with his presence daily on SAHM programs such as The View, basking in the lamps, reminding us to wear our masks and get our vaccines.”

Read the whole thing.

Law & the Courts

Fifth Circuit Suspends Biden’s (Theoretically Eventual) Vaccine Mandate

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks about his Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal during a speech from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., October 28, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Biden’s vaccine mandate, issued through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is not scheduled to go into effect until January 4, 2022. But it has already been challenged in court by a number of states, businesses, and individuals. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has suspended it while considering whether to issue a permanent injunction against it.

The Court’s short directive Saturday did not mince words:

Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court.

This is on a fast track. The Biden administration must respond to the petition by close of business Monday, and the petitioners must respond the following day.

As for what the three-judge panel describes as “grave statutory and constitutional issues,” National Review readers will not be surprised. Jim Geraghty and Dan McLaughlin have already dismantled the supposedly “emergency” mandate on which no action was taken for two months after Biden said it was coming, and that is not set to take effect for another two months.

Law & the Courts

BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Stays Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on response in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida from the White House in Washington, D.C., September 2, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, has issued a terse order temporarily halting the Biden Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard “pending expedited judicial review.” The court cited no particular grounds, but noted that “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court.” The Biden OSHA was directed to file its brief by 5 p.m. on Monday, and the challengers (which include the States of Texas, South Carolina, and Utah, and a battery of business and religious employers) must file by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Presumably, such an aggressive briefing schedule means that the court will hear argument within days and rule swiftly. The panel included Edith Jones (a Reagan appointee) and two Trump appointees, Kurt Engelhardt and Kyle Duncan. Whatever the Fifth Circuit panel decides, it is unlikely to be the last word.

There are a battery of legal issues around OSHA’s rule, involving both the overall scope of OSHA’s powers and the specific use of an emergency rule. The challengers, however, may first have to explain why their lawsuit is ripe to be heard two months before the rule has gone into effect, a case that depends in good part on the burdens of preparing to comply with it.

Politics & Policy

Retirees, Losers, and Haters, Too

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks during a hearing on the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 27, 2021. (Oliver Contreras/Reuters)

That basically sums up the 13 Republican House members who helped save Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden last night.

Some have argued that passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill makes passing Build Back Better more difficult for Dems. I think this may have been true if you believed that the obstacles to passing it were greater in the Senate than in the House. But once progressives in the House dug in and tied both bills together, that started to unravel. Even throughout yesterday, progressive House members were wrestling with what to do. With 13 Republicans willing to vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF), six Democrats could burnish their progressive street credibility by opposing it, just in case their deal with the moderates falls apart in the next week.

Politics & Policy

Disgraceful House Republicans Rescue Biden’s Flailing Agenda

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Just before midnight on Friday, we witnessed an utterly disgraceful act by a group of 13 House Republicans. Given the chance to deal a severe blow to President Biden’s flailing agenda, they instead rescued him by providing Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the votes she needed to overcome resistance from the far Left of her party.

For months, Biden’s multi-trillion dollar domestic agenda has been mired in problems. Democrats are dealing with disagreements among the extremely liberal and less liberal wings of the party, and narrow majorities have left leadership with little margin for error. 

Their goal has been to pass trillions of dollars of new spending at a time when debt as a share of the economy is at historic levels rivaled only by the fight against World War II. The strategy all along was for Democrats to win over some Republicans to their cause by creating a charade that their agenda was actually divided into two parts: a physical infrastructure bill, and a sweeping social-welfare bill.

For months, Democrats have been battling amongst themselves, with some members more attached to the infrastructure bill and others more attached to the social-welfare bill. But ultimately, time and again, it has become clear that the two bills were inextricably linked, and would rise and fall together.

Senate Republicans got the ball rolling when 18 of them decided support the unnecessary infrastructure bill, with its $550 billion in new spending, and send it to the House for final passage. 

On Friday night, after months of back and forth, it looked like Biden’s agenda could suffer another setback, as not all progressives were sold on the idea of agreeing to pass the infrastructure bill with only a commitment from holdouts in the House that they would vote for the social spending bill in a few weeks, once the CBO analysis comes out. With only three “no” votes to spare within her own caucus, Pelosi lost six Democrats — enough to sink the bill. Yet 13 Republicans swooped in to rescue Pelosi, provide Biden with the biggest victory of his presidency, and put the rest of his reckless agenda on a glide path to passage in the House.

This is a substantively bad decision that is political malpractice. It represents a betrayal.

The federal government already spends more than enough on infrastructure to meet our needs and the COVID-19 bailout money left many states awash in cash. Despite promises, only a small portion of the bill focuses on traditional infrastructure such as fixing roads and bridges and the legislation (soon to be law) will add $256 billion to deficits. It will also help grease the wheels for the passage of the larger multi-trillion welfare bill that will expand Medicare and Obamacare, initiate a federal takeover of preschool and child care, and impose economically devastating tax increases on individuals and businesses. 

Politically, it’s unclear what Republicans are thinking. Biden entered this week reeling from a devastating rebuke of his presidency by voters in areas of the country thought to be reliably Democratic. He headed into the 2022 election year a wounded animal, and Republicans stood to make major gains. Now, they tossed him a life raft and allowed him to put bipartisan gloss on his radical agenda. 

Every Republican who voted for this monstrosity who is not already retiring should be primaried and defeated by candidates who will actually resist the Left-wing agenda. Those who are retiring should be shamed for the rest of their lives. It also is not too soon to be asking whether Representative Kevin McCarthy should be ousted from leadership for his inability to keep his caucus together on such a crucial vote. 

Here are the names of the 13 Republicans who voted with Pelosi and Biden:

Representative  Brian Fitzpatrick

Representative Don Bacon

Representative Don Young

Representative Fred Upton

Representative Adam Kinzinger

Representative Jeff Van Drew

Representative John Katko

Representative Tom Reed

Representative Andrew Garbarino

Representative Nicole Malliotakis

Representative Chris Smith

Representative David McKinley 

Representative Anthony Gonzalez

Politics & Policy

It Smells Like House Democrats Have a Deal

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 28, 2021. (Al Drago/Reuters)

As we get late into Friday night, it appears that House Democrats are closing in on a deal that would pass the infrastructure bill while moving the ball forward on President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar spending bill.

Democrats have convinced themselves that, far from being a rejection of their leftward lurch, the Virginia elections were actually an indication that they urgently need to pass Biden’s sweeping agenda so they would have something to run on.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desperation to pass the measure today has run into a series of hurdles. A small group of Democrats didn’t want to vote for Biden’s social spending bill without a Congressional Budget Office score, while progressives once again dug in and said they didn’t want to vote for the infrastructure bill without assurances that the social welfare bill would pass the House.

Yet now, Jake Sherman reports:

Translated into English, it appears where this is heading is that progressives will agree to provide the votes for the infrastructure bill and the less liberal members will agree to vote for what’s known as the rule, which is essentially something that dictates the parameters for debate before eventually passing the Build Back Better social welfare bill itself. The Democratic holdouts will likely commit to back the social welfare bill once the CBO confirms it is deficit neutral.

Given that the Democrats know how to game the CBO and are willing to raise taxes, it is likely that they will be able to achieve that threshold, clearing passage before Thanksgiving. Though, as I have written, more spending is still reckless, whether or not it’s paid for. And as Senator Joe Manchin has said, the current frame work is filled with “budget gimmicks” and “shell games.”

Speaking of Manchin. It’s important to note that whatever passes the House will still have to pass the Senate, where Manchin has already said he is in no rush to pass anything. Furthermore, with his pet infrastructure already signed into law, progressives will no longer have any leverage over him. Should he force Democrats to make additional changes to the bill, the House and Senate would have to go into conference and reconcile both versions, which would then have to clear both chambers again.

So, they still have a number of hurdles to get through. But it appears they will make some progress tonight.

We will know soon enough.

Update: Here is the promised statement from the hold outs:

It appears that the squad itself is lining up against the bill — and if all four of them vote against the bill, it will die without Republican support.

However, there are a number of wobbly Republicans who still back the bill. The question is whether they would be willing to provide Pelosi with the margin to get the bill across the finish line. If so, there should be hell to pay.

Update II:

Here is the statement from progressives.

Also, a vote has been called for 10:52, which is a sign Pelosi believes she has the votes.

Politics & Policy

Welcome to the Party of the Rich, Professor Furman

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House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) at the Capitol on October 28, 2021 (Al Drago / Reuters)

Regarding the SALT cap — which limits the federal tax subsidy for rich people in expensive, high-tax, typically Democratic states — Charlie quotes Obama CEA chairman Jason Furman:

Just the value of this 7.5K increase to the original $72.5K cap is larger than the entire child tax credit expansion for a middle-class family with two children. And this increase alone will go almost exclusively to households making over $1 million. Why are they doing this?

This is, I think, a much bigger deal than is generally appreciated. This is another example of the social transformation of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party was once the political home of farmers, blue-collar workers, and lower-middle-class, mostly Catholic “white ethnic” voters; today, the Democratic Party is the party of affluent urban and suburban professionals, and also, in no small part, the party of the genuinely rich, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street and from Greenwich to Aspen. It is the default party of the E Class and much of the S Class.

These affluent progressive Democrats are the people who think of themselves as “the anointed,” in Thomas Sowell’s description, and they believe that they are entitled to various kinds of public benefits, including financial benefits, because they live lives of virtue and work in careers that serve some higher good while making them rich and secure.

We could be spending a few billion dollars helping poor people who want to work relocate to take good jobs or to give poor kids in Chicago and Washington the same educational opportunities the Obamas and the Clintons and the Pelosis gave their own children, but what is actually at the top of the Democrats’ to-do list? Tax subsidies for affluent homeowners in the Bay Area and other citadels of new money, to be sure, but also student-loan forgiveness for people in relatively high-income households, green subsidies that benefit relatively well-off businessmen and their clients, etc.

The Democrats know who is in their party. This is the party for people in the good zip codes, who aren’t worried about the quality of the local public schools their La Jolla Country Day School–educated spawn will never set foot in, and you proles in Kensington and the Bronx and Bakersfield can suck an egg — if you can afford an egg at today’s inflated prices.

I guess it’s still class war when the class in question is Tesla-driving boutique socialists demanding federal handouts to help them afford their multimillion-dollar homes — because that’s the class that is actually winning the class war.

Jason Furman, bless his pointy little head, teaches at Harvard. If he wants to know why the Democrats are doing what they are doing, he need only look around — this situation is, in some part, his handiwork. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice, if you happen to be in Cambridge or Palo Alto or doing some rich-guy stuff down at Credit Suisse.

Politics & Policy

Dems Double Down on Spending Bill after Removing Uyghur-Genocide-Funding Prohibition

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Congressional Democrats doubled down last night on a version of their $1.75 trillion spending package after it was revealed that they had removed a prohibition on the distribution of new research funding to Chinese companies complicit in the Uyghur genocide.

The removal of an amendment that had barred the bill’s funding for National Science Foundation programs to go to Chinese companies listed under the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act came to light only yesterday, though it appears to have been removed before a new version of the bill was introduced on October 28. Suggesting that the exclusion of the previously included provision wasn’t a mistake, Democrats went on to pass an amendment to the legislation incorporating other legislative fixes last night, but not addressing the removed Uyghur provision.

NR’s requests for comment to the House Science Committee, the House Rules Committee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office have gone unanswered.

As Congress prepared for a vote on rules surrounding the social-spending bill that will take place later today, President Biden said in remarks about his legislative agenda: “Let’s show the world America’s democracy can deliver.”

Media

The Media Pounce

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The entrance to the New York Times Building in New York, June 29, 2021 (Brent Buterbaugh)

Long-suffering conservative readers of mainstream media outlets will be familiar with the “Republicans pounce” trope. Charlie Cooke explained this particular journalistic turn of phrase back in April: 

Almost invariably, the press assumes that what the Democrats are doing is normal and that what Republicans are doing is not — even when it is the Democrats who are proposing big changes. Thus it is that when the Democratic party seeks to use the power of the federal government to serve a radical and discredited theory to every child in America, the story is that the . . . Republicans don’t like it.

The “Republicans pounce” mantra also implicitly assumes bad-faith; i.e., that conservatives are only ever voicing objections to left-wing policies because of cynical political opportunism, rather than the genuine belief that such policies are actually bad for America. When the Right does something crazy, the story in the legacy press is that the Right did something crazy. When the Left does something crazy, the story is that the Right is pouncing — or “seizing,” “weaponizing,” “salivating,” and/or any number of other unflattering verbs — on said left-wing craziness as an opportunity to spin it in their political favor.  

Glenn Youngkin’s upset win in Virginia — and the GOP’s unusually good night up and down the ballot in elections across the country — has led to the predictable flurry of Republican-pouncing think pieces that too often serve as a substitute for genuine reflection and self-critical introspection on the part of the Left’s narrative-setting institutions. According to the New York Times, “Republicans relentlessly sought to turn schools into the next front in the country’s culture wars,” tapping into “the white grievance politics of the Trump base” through the coded dog whistles of parental rights. “By promising at nearly every campaign stop to ban critical race theory, an advanced academic concept not taught in Virginia schools, Mr. Youngkin resurrected Republican race-baiting tactics in a state that once served as the capital of the Confederacy,” the Times writes.

So it goes. Another headline in the Times announces that “Republicans Seize on Schools as a Wedge Issue to Unite the Party.” The AP tweeted out an article explaining the anti-CRT backlash as “the GOP push to politicize school board races.” It’s good that journalists have begun to notice that teaching radical racialist ideologies in schools and then smearing upset parents as racists is not an especially popular political strategy. Their conclusion, however — that the problem is not with CRT, but with the racism of the voters who object to it — still misses the point.

Culture

Trans Activists Don’t Play Nice

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Going along with transgender ideology is the “nice” thing to do. It’s “unkind” to insist that biological sex matters. And yet, strangely, hounding a very capable and liberally minded professor out of her university workplace just because she has a different view is somehow perfectly acceptable.

Here is Professor Kathleen Stock, explaining what happened:

Remember, trans activists don’t play nice.

The Economy

The LA Port Situation Is Not Improving

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Container ship at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif., September 29, 2021. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

DHL releases service announcements every week so shippers in their network know what to expect at ports all around the world. The most recent announcement came out today, and it shows that the situation at America’s top West Coast port complex is not improving. Here’s DHL’s summary of the port conditions at Los Angeles/Long Beach:

Ships are waiting 13-22 days to catch a berth. Currently there are 72 vessels waiting for a berthing spot. Both ports are seeing record volumes month after month and the ships at anchor are delayed an average of 4 days. Delays forcing the ships to wait at anchor are expected to continue for the remainder of the year. All terminals remain extremely congested and evaluating a reduction on their window for export cargo acceptance from four to three days. The expected spike on imports generated by the peak season and cargo pre-shipped is already here making the operation more complex. Local trucking delays have been reduced and are being closely monitored. The LAX/LGB rail operations from all terminals and the off dock ramps continues to deteriorate as demand exceeds capacity, therefore inland moves by rail can suffer considerable delays.

That’s not an encouraging description, and there has not been movement in the right direction. The waiting time and number of ships waiting have been steady for over a month now, according to DHL. If anything, they are getting slightly worse. Here’s how those estimates have changed over time:

The number of vessels waiting is still large, and higher this week than it was last week. DHL doesn’t report the wait times the same way each week, which is why those are in a table instead of a graph, but those times are not improving either.

Port congestion has been a problem for months now, and we’ve yet to see signs of improvement. But don’t worry: The president’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force has started publishing a supply-chain dashboard online with key metrics to be updated twice a month.

Politics & Policy

A Letter to a Political Candidate

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When you get unwanted junk political emails, what do you do? I just delete them.

I am delighted that in this instance, Don Boudreaux (professor of economics at GMU) not only took the time to read such an email but spent considerable time in writing a reply.

Here’s a particularly sharp paragraph:

As a politician, in contrast, you work dishonestly and are at high risk of becoming corrupted. If you gain political office you’ll spend, not your own money, but that of other people. And the programs on which you’ll spend these sums will mostly be ones to which Americans are compelled to submit. There is, with almost all government programs, nothing akin to a real market test. In politics the only ‘test’ is superficial popularity – your looks, your glibness, your ability to appear to be expressing substantive thoughts while in fact saying nothing substantive at all – combined with your ability and willingness to serve powerful interest groups. Under such circumstances you cannot long remain a decent human being.

Read the whole thing.

White House

Democratic Aide Irritated with Biden: I’m Almost Ready to Chant ‘Let’s Go, Brandon’

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President Joe Biden speaks as he meets with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., September 24, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

To the extent President Biden commented about the seemingly endless negotiations over the spending bills on Capitol Hill, he has offered generic, optimistic assessments: “I believe that Joe [Manchin] will be there.” “I think we’ll get this done.” “I feel confident we’re going to get done what we have to done — do at home in order to deliver.” There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s the leadership equivalent of standing on the sidelines, clapping, and cheering, “let’s go!”

Beyond that, Biden insists, “I’m not going to talk about the specifics of my conversations.”

That’s all well and good, and a certain amount of ambiguity about the president’s red lines is probably a strategic necessity. But that also means that the Democrats on Capitol Hill don’t really know what the president thinks must be in the bill and what the president thinks would be nice to get into the bill. There’s certainly no sense of what kind of bill Biden would find not worth the effort. The administration has set no ceilings or floors for overall spending, or given much sense of whether Biden really thinks it is a good idea to expand the state and local tax deduction. Biden appeared willing to give up on changing how Medicare pays for prescription drugs, and it appears he’s willing to give up on paid family leave.

The end result is no one is entirely sure what Biden really wants, leaving Congressional Democrats periodically fuming, “Where’s Joe Biden? This is his agenda, why isn’t he more involved in the negotiations?’” and observing that Biden has demonstrated no ability to persuade reluctant Democrats over to his position — “there’s no magic in the Oval Office right now.”

Now, Politico offers some vivid anecdotes that Democrats are steamed that they’re stuck with an opaque nonentity in the White House:

That Biden needed to take a more aggressive role in pushing through his economic agenda was a sentiment reiterated again and again in interviews with nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, operatives and pollsters — the majority of whom declined to go on record for fear of further complicating Democrats’ legislative efforts. Some said they wanted Biden to execute easy policy victories that would quickly alleviate voter struggles, such as forgiving student loan debt, a move the president has pushed off since taking office to the chagrin of party members.

“I’m a loyal Democrat, but if I have to start paying my student loans again come January I’ll be ready to throw up my hands and chant ‘Let’s go, Brandon,’” said a Democratic campaign aide, using the now popular euphemism on the right for “f— Joe Biden.”

Today Biden declared, “I’m asking every House member, member of the House of Representatives, to vote yes on both these bills, right now. Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate… Let’s show the world America’s democracy can deliver.”

Terry McAuliffe may be wondering why Biden couldn’t say that a month ago.

Health Care

Wicked Big Pharma Strikes Again

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From USA Today:

 A new drug being developed by Pfizer offers the possibility of nearly putting an end to deaths from COVID-19.

When given within five days of the onset of symptoms, the antiviral therapy called Paxlovid, prevented almost 90% of deaths from COVID-19 compared to a placebo, a Pfizer study found.

By the end of the year, the company plans to complete two other studies of the pill, which is given twice a day for five days. Pfizer plans to submit the study data as part of its ongoing rolling submission to the Food and Drug Administration as soon as possible.

Condemnation from Sanders and his colleagues to follow in due course?

Politics & Policy

Democrats’ Spending Bill Includes $1.7 Billion Bailout for Journalists

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(artisteer/iStock/Getty Images)

As House Democrats race to authorize more than $2 trillion in spending on Friday, we’re still learning more about some of the ugly details. Now, via the Joint Committee of Taxation analysis, we see a curious line item under part 5, item 11: “Payroll credit for compensation of local news journalists.”

The payments, which would expire at the end of 2026, would be worth $1.7 billion.

To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to lament the decline of the institution of the local newspaper, which has been bad for communities and a gift to crooked politicians hoping that their malfeasance goes unnoticed. The erosion of local news has also been a contributor to many of the critiques that conservatives have of the media in general. It has meant that many journalists are concentrated in New York and Washington, DC — out of touch with what is happening in the rest of the country.

But at the same time, not everything that has negative consequences is something that cries out for federal intervention. And there is simply no reason why we should use the tax code as a means to deliver a bailout of sorts for local newspapers. The Democrats, however, obviously want to reward their key supporters.

Health Care

Yes, Charles Blow, Cases of COVID-19 Are Increasing in the North, Decreasing in the South

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Stanisha Land receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccination shot at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., February 13, 2021. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

It would be easy, and fun, to dunk on New York Times columnist Charles Blow for being mystified “by how these southern states have such low rates of Covid when many of their governors haven’t followed CDC guidance. Someone please explain this to me.”

But there’s something a bit saddening that the public-health recommendations, coverage of the pandemic, and discourse about COVID-19 have been so unclear that they left a Times columnist befuddled by case data and a map that doesn’t fit his preconceived notions.

First, Blow is looking at a map of the U.S. with each county color-coded by the average number of daily cases per 100,000 people in the past week. The southeastern states are dominated by white and light yellow, indicating lower average numbers of daily cases; patches of orange and red are in the northeast and west, and counties in the Rocky Mountain west are deep red and maroon, indicating the highest average number of daily cases.

The short answer is that the southern states have already had the Delta variant pass through, and between past infection and vaccination rates, there just aren’t that many new, unprotected bodies for SARS-CoV-2 to jump into anymore. As I have covered, over and over and over and over again, the Delta variant tore through the southern states in the tail end of summer, as intense heat and humidity sent more people indoors for the relief of air conditioning. The virus is more likely to spread indoors, and confirmed cases of infection from outdoor exposure are few and far between. As New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote in May, “the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me.” Temperatures in the northern states in summer were more pleasant, so residents spent more time outdoors, where COVID-19 transmission was less likely to occur.

Autumn is bringing colder weather, particularly to the more northern states, so people in the north are spending more time indoors. More time indoors means more people are in situations where they are more likely to catch the virus. So we’re going to see the number of infections in the northern states increase and stay high, probably through the winter — or at least until the virus runs out of people to jump into because everyone either has protection from vaccination or protection from past infections.

But even until then, an increasing number of infections is not necessarily a public-health disaster. This is not because one part of the country is better than another. It is advantageous to have more people vaccinated; vaccinated people are less likely to end up in the hospital or ICU or die. But week by week, we’ve seen the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations increase here and there in northern states. It does not take a lot of unvaccinated people to fill up a region’s hospitals, even if your overall vaccination rate is high, as in states such as Vermont and Massachusetts. And as we saw with the late Colin Powell, even a fully vaccinated person can succumb to COVID-19 or its complications if they are old enough or have significant enough other health issues, like Powell’s multiple myeloma.

In fact, if there’s any bad news on the COVID-19 front in the U.S. amidst a steadily improving picture, it’s that while new cases and hospitalizations are down significantly from late summer, our death rate is still around 1,000 per day — the seven-day moving average is currently 1,073. That’s better than the near-2,000 level in late September, but . . . clearly, the U.S. still has an unfortunately high number of people who are either unvaccinated and vulnerable to the virus, or vaccinated but still vulnerable because of age or other health problems.

Blow’s mystification is a good time to observe that the number of new cases is probably no longer the most useful measurement of the severity of the pandemic. Fully vaccinated people can catch the virus. In most cases, infected fully vaccinated people have mild symptoms, and in some cases, no symptoms at all.

Nationwide, our hospitals are operating with plenty of space. As of this morning, 77 percent of the hospital beds are being used, and just 6.1 percent of those beds are being used for COVID-19 patients.

Politics & Policy

Nancy Pelosi Is Making a Fool of Joe Manchin

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference with reporters, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 6, 2021. (Gabrielle Crockett/Reuters)

Joe Manchin has made it clear that, insofar as he is on board with Biden’s agenda at all, he wants a bill that is not based upon accounting gimmicks, that contains no new handouts or permanent programs, and that does not feature anything that can’t pass the Senate.

So, naturally, Nancy Pelosi is gearing up to finalize a bill that meets none of these conditions. In a piece titled, “In Spending Bill, Democrats Rely on Budget Gimmicks They Once Derided,” the New York Times records that:

at an impromptu news conference this week, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, lamented the “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” he said his party was using to artificially reduce the $1.85 trillion price tag of the spending bill moving through Congress, saying the real cost was probably double that amount.

“This is a recipe for economic crisis,” Mr. Manchin warned, suggesting that he would not support a bill without understanding its potential impact on the economy.

But, as the Times notes, those “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” are exactly what Manchin would get if the House’s bill were to pass:

budget experts, along with some moderate Democrats, say the true cost of the legislation will be closer to $4 trillion because of the way the programs are structured and accounted for in the budgetary process. For instance, many of the provisions in Mr. Biden’s framework would expire, or “sunset” after only few years, even though Democrats anticipate that they would eventually be extended.

Specifically:

The Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog group, suggested that the true cost of the legislation Democrats are crafting could be around $4 trillion given the number of expiring programs.

Inexplicably, Pelosi’s bill also contains paid leave and medical leave — two provisions that Manchin has explicitly said cannot pass the Senate’s reconciliation rules — and a reinstatement of the SALT deduction that is so utterly preposterous that it has provoked left-leaning economists to begin tearing out their hair in public. Last night, Jason Furman, an economic adviser to President Obama, wrote on Twitter that:

Just the value of this 7.5K increase to the original $72.5K cap is larger than the entire child tax credit expansion for a middle-class family with two children.And this increase alone will go almost exclusively to households making over $1 million. Why are they doing this?

Why are they doing this? They’re doing this for the same reason that they put paid and medical leave back in, and for the same reason they’re relying so heavily on budget gimmicks: because they’re trying to push through sweeping political change with a House majority of eight and a tied Senate, because they need every vote they can find, and because, in this specific case, that means creating a targeted tax break for millionaires who live in the constituencies of three members from New York and New Jersey.

If they were sensible, Democrats would recognize that they don’t have the numbers, or the support, or the momentum to do what they are trying to do. But they’re not sensible. They’re off their meds. So they’re chaotically cobbling together whatever they think can get 218 votes in the House, and praying that Joe Manchin won’t mind if, like Ron Klain and the president, Nancy Pelosi makes a fool out of him once again.

Education

The Excessive Cost of Going to College

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Everyone knows that the cost of college has risen much faster than inflation for the last several decades. Why is it now so high, and is the cost benefitting students?

Those questions were addressed in a recent study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), and I examine it in today’s Martin Center article. 

The authors of the study write, “Institutional spending continues to rise while contributing little to graduation rates. Moreover, investment in instructional staff—particularly tenured or tenure-track professors—has been overshadowed by increases in administrative staff, namely well-paid, professional employees.”

Aha — so top college administrators spend money unnecessarily. That is what you would expect in non-profit management, where cost-effectiveness takes a back seat to spending that the managers happen to favor. I cite a Martin Center study from 2009 where the author explained the incentives for college leaders to extract as much money as they can and spend it largely on things that might raise institutional prestige.

ACTA’s study notes that the biggest increases in college spending have been for administration and “student services” rather than for instruction. The latter might help to increase student learning and graduation, but instead schools have been adding layers of educrats, such as “chief diversity officers.”

It’s evident that the fat years for American higher education are behind us. College leaders will need to start scrutinizing their budgets, looking for ways to get more educational value out of fewer dollars.

Health Care

‘Menstrual Health’ for ‘Individuals Who Menstruate’ a ‘Human Right’

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This is the kind of thing that now obsesses the editors of the world’s leading medical journals. The Lancet Public Health has a piece out titled “Menstrual health is a public health and human rights issue.” First, the authors define the crisis. From the piece:

Achieving menstrual health is fundamental to the equality, rights, and dignity of all individuals who menstruate. Nonetheless, menstrual health is still not considered a priority by all.

What is “menstrual health?” It’s not healthy menstruation. It’s, well, a circularly defined concept:

Menstrual health is defined as complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing in relation to the menstrual cycle. This definition reflects the multifaceted nature of menstruation and the many ways the lives of those who menstruate can be affected by their ability to properly manage their menstrual health.

Something must be done!

There is a strong need to provide an enabling sociocultural environment for those who menstruate to manage their menstrual needs with dignity and comfort. We can transform the social environment by creating structural level changes, such as promoting messaging to challenge societal norms by including men and boys, along with those who menstruate, towards reducing menstrual stigma, which is often a product of patriarchal norms.

Who thinks, writes, and talks like that? Nobody who has to interact with the real world.

And note, the continuing depersonalization and erasure of the feminine from these journals. The Lancet was, after all, the journal in which “bodies with vaginas” was coined.

Obviously, no girl or woman should be stigmatized for a natural biological function. And certainly, women should have access to necessary sanitary products. But is this topic a matter of such urgency that it deserves the imprimatur of a noted medical journal? The article is not, after all, a scientific treatise. It is a . . . heck, I don’t know what it is. But it illuminates a major problem with the priorities and perspectives of the medical intellegentsia.

Law & the Courts

Clinton Insider Is the Source Who Allegedly Fed Danchenko Steele Dossier Info against Trump

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I have a column today on DOJ special counsel John Durham’s false-statements indictment of Igor Danchenko, the main source for the discredited Steele dossier that the FBI used as a basis for investigating the Trump campaign as if Donald Trump were a clandestine agent of Russia.

One of the main allegations against Danchenko is that he concealed the fact that the information he provided to Christopher Steele (the former British spy who compiled the dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign) came from a longtime Democratic Party operative. The indictment does not name the operative, who is alleged to have run a public-relations business in Virginia and to have been close to the Clintons — having worked on both of Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaigns as well as Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 campaign for the Democratic Party nomination.

Early this afternoon, the excellent reporter Aaron Maté noted that the indictment’s description of “PR Executive-1” fit a Democrat apparatchik named Charles H. Dolan Jr. A published bio noted that Dolan runs a public-relations firm and ran the Clinton/Gore campaigns in Virginia in 1992 and 1996. It elaborates that he is a longtime Democratic Party operative.

This evening, the New York Times reports an acknowledgment from Dolan’s attorney that he is, in fact, the man identified in the Danchenko indictment as PR Executive-1.

World

Latest Reconciliation-Bill Draft Omits Uyghur Protection

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Outside a “vocational skills education center” in Dabancheng, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, September 4, 2018 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The latest version of congressional Democrats’ reconciliation package, released this week, stripped a previous draft’s prohibition on providing science funding to entities implicated in the Uyghur genocide.

Although the latest text of the 2,135-page Build Back Better Act was published on November 3, the initial removal of this provision from a previous draft issued on October 28 came to public attention only this afternoon. “Why in the world would Democrats want to give taxpayer dollars to corporations using Uyghur Muslim slaves???” tweeted Representative Jim Banks.

National Review reached out this afternoon to the House Science Committee, where the removed provision on Uyghur forced labor originated, as well as the House Rules Committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to ask for comment.

A component of the massive spending package advanced by the Science Committee in early September included a “forced labor prohibition” barring the National Science Foundation, which would receive an additional $11 billion under the legislation, from “awarding a contract, subcontract, grant, or loan to an entity that is listed” according to the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. That bill required Congress to compile a list of Chinese companies involved in operating Uyghur concentration camps or in the mass-surveillance system in Xinjiang.

Although the amendment to the reconciliation package was labeled as though it addressed forced labor, it actually had more to do with those other aspects of the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes against humanity and genocide in Xinjiang.

The Uyghur forced-labor language in the previous reconciliation draft “would prevent funds from Build Back Better from going to entities the director of national intelligence assesses are involved in Uyghur camp construction and surveillance in Xinjiang,” Michael Sobolik, a fellow in Indo-Pacific studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, told NR. “That should be a no-brainer.”

Most Democrats on the committee at the time voted against the prohibition of NSF funding of forced labor, though three Democratic representatives supported it; in the end, the provision passed by a single vote. The committee’s Democratic majority, however, shot down similar amendments prohibiting research funding from going toward research in China or involving entities owned or controlled by the Chinese government, as National Review reported last month.

The revelation that the forced-labor provision had been stripped from the reconciliation package follows multiple reports that U.S. climate envoy John Kerry urged members of Congress to block another Uyghur-human-rights bill, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, from getting a vote. Kerry has sought to engage the Chinese government on a cooperative approach to reducing carbon emissions.

A House Republican staffer said the Democrats might have stripped the provision in response to outreach from business interests, including the solar-panel industry.

In September, Politico reported that corporate lobbying groups “have been campaigning against congressional and White House moves to toughen trade and financial rules in response to China’s human rights abuses.”

Only a small sliver of the $1.75 trillion package is going to National Science Foundation funding, but that’s still a large amount in absolute terms. At every turn, unfortunately, Democrats have fought off efforts to secure the research that results from that funding from Chinese espionage, and now they’ve quietly excised a provision that sought to prevent that funding from going to Chinese companies implicated in a 21st-century genocide.

The Tiki-Torch Hoax Should Not Be Blamed Only on the Lincoln Project’s Grifters

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The Lincoln Project’s demonstrators stand with tiki torches on a sidewalk as Republican candidate for governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin arrives on his bus for a campaign event in Charlottesville, Va., October 29, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Jim commented on the Intercept story about Lauren Windsor and the Lincoln Project attempting to defend their role in the now-infamous tiki-torch stunt at a Glenn Youngkin rally by making the case that they planned it as an open satire — sort of like “Billionaires for Bush” — rather than intending it to be a hoax that people mistook for actual white nationalists. Jim’s conclusion: “The simple answer seems to be the accurate one. The folks at the Lincoln Project are just stupid. Really, really stupid.

That’s true, but there are two additional, related points worth considering here about why the blame

Politics & Policy

Poll Shows Strong Support among Texans for the Heartbeat Bill

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Last week, a poll from the University of Houston and Texas Southern University found strong support among Texans for the Texas heartbeat bill.

The poll surveyed more than 2,000 Texas residents during October, asking about both abortion policy and policies dealing with gender identity in athletics. Respondents were asked whether they support banning abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” is detectable, with an exception in cases when a mother’s life is at risk. It found that among Texans stating an opinion, most (55 percent) were in favor of the legislation.

What is especially interesting is that the bill enjoys strong support across a wide range of demographics. A majority of men, women, and Independents expressed support for the bill. Even more interest, among Latinos who responded to the survey, 58 percent expressed support for the heartbeat bill, higher than the population as a whole. This result is consistent with a number of recent surveys finding that Latinos are increasingly supportive of pro-life legislation.

This poll adds to a body of research demonstrating that heartbeat laws have significant support in conservative states. This summer, a poll of likely voters in Missouri found that 56 percent agreed that the “Missouri state government should prohibit abortion after 8 weeks of pregnancy.” Two polls of registered voters in Texas sponsored by The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found plurality support for the Texas heartbeat bill.

Monday’s Supreme Court hearing on the Texas bill certainly increased the salience of life issues. And, unsurprisingly, most major media outlets have been quick to cite misleading polls purporting to show that pro-life laws are unpopular. But pro-lifers should not be discouraged. This most recent poll illustrates that laws providing legal protection to unborn children remain popular in many conservative parts of the country.

Law & the Courts

Only Women Belong in Women’s Prisons

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(Cineberg/Getty Images)

The Times of London reports:

Twelve trans prisoners convicted of violence or sexual crimes have been accommodated in Scottish women’s jails within the past 18 months, according to figures released under Freedom of Information laws.

As if that couldn’t get worse, it turns out that only one of the prisoners had had his male equipment surgically removed; the rest were “self-identifying” as female. The pushback against this policy was intensified after the case of Karen White, a transgender-identifying rapist and child abuser, who used his fully intact male body to sexually assault female inmates at New Hall prison in England.

In the United States, shutting up violent and predatory male offenders with women would surely constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.” And yet the Associated Press reported in September that the Justice Department is “reviewing its policies on housing transgender inmates in the federal prison system.” This madness is already happening in California.

Politics & Policy

House Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill Lacks the Hyde Amendment

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to the news media during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 30, 2021. REUTERS/ (Leah Millis/Reuters)

House Democrats have released the latest version of their budget-reconciliation bill, and it still includes the same provisions of the reconciliation bill released last week that could fund elective abortions, including public-health grants and an apparent abortion mandate for plans to cover individuals in the so-called Medicaid gap.

Speaker Pelosi is reportedly pushing for a vote in the House as soon as tonight, but all 50 Democratic senators have not agreed to vote for the House bill.

“I have no idea what’s coming from the House,” West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin told Politico on Wednesday. Manchin has called the Hyde amendment a “red line” for him in any reconciliation bill.

As I reported last week, the most glaring example of taxpayer funding of abortion in the House Democrats’ reconciliation bill — a new “Medicaid-like” program missing the Hyde amendment — has been dropped. But other provisions that could fund abortion remain: 

The reconciliation bill’s section regarding “family planning services” could require these new [Medicaid gap] plans to cover abortions, unless abortion funding is prohibited. In the new 1,684-page reconciliation bill that Democrats released on Thursday, that section of the bill has been changed in a way that at least appears to attempt to exclude elective-abortion coverage — but actually fails to do so.

“We see the change that was made,” says Autumn Christensen of the Susan B. Anthony List. “However, it was not drafted in a way that prevents an abortion mandate because it references the Medicaid statute — which does allow for abortion — instead of referencing Medicaid appropriations, which do not allow for abortion funding.”

This issue is in the legislative weeds, but the point is important: The Hyde amendment, which prohibits Medicaid funding of abortion except in rare circumstances, must be attached each year to an appropriations bill that funds the program. The Hyde amendment is not permanently embedded in the underlying law that established Medicaid.*

“If we assume that this change was made with the intent of addressing the abortion problem, it falls short,” says Christensen. “But we look forward to a true solution.”

The bill that House Democrats unveiled on Thursday is not their final product, and negotiations are ongoing. But if the final bill isn’t scrubbed of its provisions that could fund abortion, Democrats will be setting themselves up for a fight over taxpayer funding of abortion on the Senate floor. There are also “public health” grants in the reconciliation bill that could fund abortion. “Clearly these funds are not covered by the Hyde amendment,” says Christensen.

The simplest way to ensure that the bill doesn’t fund abortion would be to explicitly include the text of the Hyde amendment in the bill — rather than cross-referencing legislation to which Hyde applies — but Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has said Democrats think that including it would be a “political statement.” At the same time, Jayapal has (incorrectly) claimed that “none of the dollars” in the reconciliation bill would be spent on elective abortion. So there’s no reason to believe that a bill that actually ensures “none of the dollars” would be spent on abortion would lose the vote of Jayapal or any of her followers.

*The Biden administration makes this very point that the statute authorizing Medicaid requires abortion coverage and only the appropriations bill funding Medicaid restricts taxpayer funding of abortion. Anne Marie Costello, Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, explains the distinction between the Medicaid statute and Medicaid appropriations, as they relate to abortion funding, in a declaration filed in the case United States v. Texas—the case challenging the Texas Heartbeat Act.

Two pro-life GOP senators, Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma, released a memo highlighting various health-funding provisions of the bill not protected by the Hyde amendment.

Law & the Courts

Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks Three Pro-Life Laws Aimed at Protecting Women

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Demonstrators at a Planned Parenthood rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 5, 2017. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/Reuters)

In a 5–3 vote, the Oklahoma supreme court has issued a temporary injunction blocking three pro-life laws slated to take effect on November 1. Earlier in October, a district judge blocked two other pro-life laws in Oklahoma from taking effect but allowed these three to remain in place, sending the case up to the state supreme court.

Two of those laws would have established a series of requirements around chemical-abortion drugs, the most common abortion method in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Among other provisions, the laws required doctors to obtain informed consent from women, outline the risks and possible complications of chemical-abortion drugs, and notify women of a safe, effective method that might enable them to halt and reverse an unwanted abortion.

The third law would have required all doctors who perform abortions in Oklahoma to have board certification in obstetrics and gynecology, a relatively uncommon policy aimed at making it easier for women to obtain follow-up care if they experience abortion complications.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights — one of several abortion-advocacy groups that challenged the Oklahoma laws — said in a statement after the ruling that the policies would have caused “irreparable harm to Oklahomans” and had the goal of “making it harder to get an abortion in Oklahoma.”

But Dr. Christina Francis, board chairman of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told National Review that opposition to these new regulations is “a pure attack on the safety of medical care being delivered to women.”

“They’re not making it easier for women to obtain abortions,” she added. “They’re making it more dangerous for women to obtain abortions.”

None of the policies in question prohibited abortion at any stage. All of the provisions in these three laws were aimed at abortionists, requiring them to follow a set of policies that would minimize the risks to women of obtaining an abortion. It’s telling that abortion providers and advocacy groups, rather than women, were the ones challenging Oklahoma — and their win in court was a victory for abortionists, not for women.

Law & the Courts

Have Fun Defending the Emergency OSHA Rule in Court

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Chief Justice John Roberts presides during the final votes in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump at the U.S. Capitol, February 5, 2020. (U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters)

As Jim discusses, the vaccine mandate announced by the Biden administration in September will now not go into effect until January, a ridiculous delay for what is supposed to be an “emergency” rule. That has legal consequences. An Emergency Temporary Standard is an exception to the usual formal rulemaking procedures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that it is requesting comments, but it is still evading the full, legal requirements for a permanent rule. As the notice admits:

The OSH Act in section 6(c)(1) states that the Secretary “shall” issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) upon a finding that the ETS is necessary to address a grave danger to workers. See 29 U.S.C. 655(c). In particular, the Secretary shall provide, without regard to the requirements of chapter 5, title 5, United States Code, for an emergency temporary standard to take immediate effect upon publication in the Federal Register if the Secretary makes two determinations: That employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards, and that such emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger. 29 U.S.C. 655(c)(1)…The ETS provision, section 6(c)(1), exempts the Secretary from procedural requirements contained in the OSH Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, including those for public notice, comments, and a rulemaking hearing . . .

The Secretary must issue an ETS in situations where employees are exposed to a “grave danger” and immediate action is necessary to protect those employees from such danger. 29 U.S.C. 655(c)(1); Pub. Citizen Health Research Grp. v. Auchter, 702 F.2d 1150, 1156 (D.C. Cir. 1983)…In demonstrating whether OSHA had shown that an ETS is necessary, the Fifth Circuit considered whether OSHA had another available means of addressing the risk that would not require an ETS. Asbestos Info. Ass’n, 727 F.2d at 426 (holding that necessity had not been proven where OSHA could have increased enforcement of already-existing standards to address the grave risk to workers from asbestos exposure).

Although Congress waived the ordinary rulemaking procedures in the interest of “permitting rapid action to meet emergencies,” section 6(e) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 655(e), requires OSHA to include a statement of reasons for its action when it issues any standard. Dry Color Mfrs., 486 F.2d at 105-06 (finding OSHA’s statement of reasons inadequate). By requiring the agency to articulate its reasons for issuing an ETS, the requirement acts as “an essential safeguard to emergency temporary standard-setting.” Id. at 106. However, the Third Circuit noted that it did not require justification of “every substance, type of use or production technique,” but rather a “general explanation” of why the standard is necessary. Id. at 107. ETSs are, by design, temporary in nature. Under section 6(c)(3), an ETS serves as a proposal for a permanent standard in accordance with section 6(b) of the OSH Act (permanent standards), and the Act calls for the permanent standard to be finalized within six months after publication of the ETS. (Emphasis added).

Here is what the administration cites as its reason for using emergency power:

Moreover, in recent months, an increasing number of states have promulgated Executive Orders or statutes that prohibit workplace vaccination policies that require vaccination or proof of vaccination status, thus attempting to prevent employers from implementing the most efficient and effective method for protecting workers from the hazard of COVID-19 (see, e.g., Texas Executive Order GA-40, October 11, 2021; Montana H.B. 702, July 1, 2021; Arkansas S.B. 739, October 4, 2021 and Arkansas H.B. 1977, October 1, 2021; AZ Executive Order 2021-18, August 16, 2021). While some States’ bans have focused on preventing local governments from requiring their public employees to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination, the Texas, Montana, and Arkansas requirements apply to private employers as well. Other states have banned local ordinances that require employers to ensure that customers who enter their premises wear masks, thus endangering the employees who work there, particularly those who are unvaccinated (see, e.g., Florida Executive Order 21-102, May 3, 2021; Texas Executive Order GA-34, March 2, 2021).

In short, at the present time, workers are becoming sick and dying unnecessarily as a result of occupational exposures, when there is a simple and effective measure, vaccination, that can largely prevent those deaths and illnesses (see Grave Danger, Section III.A. of this preamble). Congress charged OSHA with responsibility for issuing emergency standards when they are necessary to protect employees from grave danger. 29 U.S.C. 655(c). In light of the current situation, OSHA is issuing this emergency rule. (Emphasis added).

The administration is trying to buy some time here — a rule hanging in the air and not enforced for months will prompt employers to start complying in advance, but cannot be challenged in court until it goes into effect. But once that can happen, courts will notice that this is not, in fact, “immediate” action or anything like it, and the conditions cited — contrary state orders, workers getting infected and dying — are not new. In fact, it may well be the case that the rate of infection, hospitalization, and death may be lower in January than it was in September (or, for that matter, in the spring and summer of 2021, when the vaccine was available and resistance to vaccination was already a public-health controversy). It is certain to be the case that more workers are vaccinated by then.

This being a case of national importance, it will likely move up the judicial ladder quickly, and could produce conflicting decisions, so the odds of this rule ending up before the Supreme Court are fairly high. One thing we saw repeatedly during the Trump and Obama years is that Chief Justice John Roberts really does not like it when executive or administrative powers are invoked without the executive branch doing its homework. On occasion, as in Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts has done the same thing to Congress. The Biden administration could have a very hard time explaining to the chief justice why it is entitled to assert emergency powers that exist to address “immediate” threats, then do nothing with them for four months.

Health Care

After Two Months of Waiting, the Emergency Vaccine Mandate Will Take Effect in Another Two Months

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., October 15, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

On September 9, President Biden announced a directive to the Labor Department to develop a temporary emergency rule for businesses with 100 or more employees that would require workers to be fully vaccinated or be tested at least once a week. Biden declared that, “We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”

This morning, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that starting on January 4 — 60 days from today’s publication — new vaccination-or-test requirements for businesses with more than 100 workers will go into effect, as well as a vaccine mandate for health-care workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

OSHA is issuing the vaccine mandate under an “emergency temporary standard,” which means the regular public-comment period was skipped. Emergency temporary standards are applied when “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to protect them.”

Needless to say, it is unusual for it to take two months to write up the regulations for an emergency temporary standard, and even more unusual for an “emergency temporary standard” to not take effect for an additional two months after the regulations are issued. Why, it’s almost as if the National Association of Wholesaler Distributors warned the Biden administration that the mandate would disrupt the economy, and that the Biden administration backed off:

NAW urges that the Executive Order’s implementation be revised to avoid this calamity and provide alternatives to promote safety, including testing, and consider a short-term delay to provide time to carry out these changes and to avoid further supply chain disruptions in the coming months.

. . .

[T]here are still employees across the distribution industry who – for whatever reason — refuse to be vaccinated. This reality will present new challenges if this Executive Order is implemented as written: thousands of valued employees will be forced out of their jobs shortly before the holidays, the already compromised supply chain will be under added pressure during the busiest time of the year, and the already tight labor market will make it immeasurably more difficult to replace laid off employees, compounding supply chain disruptions.

It’s just reassuring to know that the grave danger that requires this emergency vaccine mandate won’t arrive until the first week of January. That virus is awfully courteous, to hold off until after the holidays!

Health Care

What Happens When the ‘Experts’ Are Wrong?

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I strongly recommend this rather long, moving letter in Tablet.

The writer, Ann Bauer, recounts her sad family history with autism “experts” and then relates it to our current situation where governmentally approved COVID experts rein supreme.

Here’s a slice:

The year of COVID continued with a drumbeat of warnings nationwide. Sanitize your mail with bleach and a UV light. Don’t wear a mask; you must wear a mask. Buy a pulse oximeter. Stock up on Tylenol, vitamin D, Pepcid. Form a pod. Get an air filter. Whisper so you don’t spit. Stand six feet from others — no, 10. Wear gloves. Put on goggles because the virus can get in through your eyes. Don’t pet the dog. Keep your teenager in the garage. Isolate a sick toddler in your basement with a bell. Wear two masks! Stay out of restaurants, nail salons, gyms. Open the windows. Close the schools.

Finally, the vaccines came and they seemed, at first, to be a miracle. But still there were certain things you weren’t allowed to discuss, like side effects, transmissibility, and natural immunity. The shots were immaculate and all-powerful! Then suddenly . . . they were not. Vaccinations were undone by the unvaccinated; they couldn’t save the faithful because of the sinful. And the drug alone wasn’t enough. True believers wore a mask as well and those who did not were causing the cure to fail.

Hat tip: Don Boudreaux

Education

Parents Can Save Western Civilization

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( Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images)

The parents of Loudoun County, Va., stand at the forefront of a movement with the power to reverse the decline of our constitutional republic, our traditions of liberty, our faith in ourselves, and ultimately, Western civilization itself. It is no accident that the weight of this struggle has fallen upon the shoulders of parents.

The woke assault on core American principles such as freedom of speech and individual merit germinated in the 60s, matured in the American academy in the late 80s and 90s, achieved dominance on campus in the early decades of the millennium, then spread in just the past few years out of the quad and into the leading institutions of the country at large.

This transformation moved slowly at first, then took hold seemingly everywhere at once. That’s because a generation of America’s elite has been steadily imbued with an alternative set of beliefs. Those beliefs were inculcated full force during the college years and to an only somewhat lesser extent in K–12. Once the recipients of this (mis)education reached critical mass, a direct challenge to core republican principles became viable. Meanwhile, the decline of religion has helped transform the new belief system into an alternative faith, lending tremendous energy to its acolytes.

Yet the legions of woke possess a strength which in time may become a weakness. For every convert to the faith, one or two others are merely cowed into silence. The sword of the wokerati is the accusation of racism or bigotry. Woke illiberalism rides on the power of liberal principle itself. Because Americans dread being shamed for any betrayal of our core belief in individual merit or worth, we shrink from anything that might provoke such an accusation, whether the charge be true or not.

This fear supplies the woke with a formidable strategy: expand accusations of racism and bigotry to cover any disfavored policy or principle, including even the very nature of our constitutional republic and the norms that support it. Neither the Constitution nor its underlying principles can reply to such accusations. Only individuals can do that.

Yet any given person who gainsays false charges of racism risks being attacked as a racist himself. For decades, the calculus has been the same. It is not worth the cost of fighting back against promiscuous charges of racism, even — or especially — when accusations are expanded to cover intellectual traditions, institutions, or systems. Once a critical mass of accusers stand watch over the false charges they generate, silent and sullen acquiescence is the sensible response.

Thus, woke dogma has gained acquiescence from students cowed by peer pressure, administrators who dread disruption and bad publicity, and now editors and corporate leaders who fear the same. The calculus counsels surrender, whether individual or institutional reputation is at stake.

When this process started, decades ago, it was college administrators who shrank from defending academic freedom, free speech, individual merit, and the teaching of the civilizational tradition out of which these principles emerged. Once false accusations of racism were laid on the table, college presidents folded and the game was lost. As this same dynamic of accusation and sullen surrender spreads beyond the academy to society as a whole, not only the theory but the substance of our constitutional system and the mores that uphold it hang in the balance.

Yet someone holds the power to reverse this decades-long trend: parents.

Parents can stand against false charges of racism, because for parents the calculus is different. A parent’s calculus is the calculus of love and sacrifice, of responsibility and stewardship, of duty and courage. The calculus of a parent is the calculus of a soldier, and soldiers are what is wanted.

The irresistible force has at last butted up against an immovable object. Just when the calculus of individual caution green-lighted the most extreme and openly racist versions of woke ideology — the assault on so-called whiteness and the 1619 Project’s false version of American history — parents entered the picture. It took parents to finally say no.

The question now is whether the momentum of societal decay can be reversed instead of merely halted. Can rebellious parents go on offense against the woke seizure of our culture?

Here is a way to begin.

Restore the teaching of Western civilization. Restore an appreciation for Western civilization as the common heritage of all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity. Accepting false claims that teaching Western civilization is mere racial or ethnic cheerleading was a big part of what got us into this mess to begin with. We sold out our heritage — the story of our governing principles, where they came from, why they’re worth defending, and the ways in which they remain available to all — in fear of false charges of bigotry. To restore what has been destroyed, we must bring the teaching of Western civilization back.

True, college Western civilization courses now barely exist. Longtime holdouts have lately been crushed, and a movement to “decolonize the curriculum” is on the march. Woke classicists are actively working to destroy their own discipline. In such circumstances, restoration may seem impossible. It is not. There is a way for a counter-woke revolution to strike back. The path to restoration runs through states and local school districts, where parents rather than academic ideologues hold the initiative.

Traditionally, the latest trends in leftist ideology percolate down from universities to K–12 by way of state standards and textbooks, although the process can take years to play out. Once Western civilization was expelled from the halls of academe, statewide K–12 history standards dumped the term and started teaching “world history” instead. At first, statewide K–12 world history standards remained largely focused on traditional Western Civ content, even if under a new name.

Over time, however, the academic “world history movement” began to purge K–12 standards of their “Eurocentric” content and replace them with education for “global citizenship” and the leftist version of “social justice” instead. The point was to undercut our sense of national and civilizational identity, creating one-sided political activists in the process.

Often, this shift is engineered under the noses of conservative legislators and governors by the woke bureaucrats and consultants who dominate even red-state education departments. Republican-appointed state education leaders are either disinclined to challenge the left-leaning professors, bureaucrats, and curriculum subject specialists they rely on, or are sufficiently unfamiliar with the latest academic codewords even to realize they’re being conned. A veritable industry of education consultants now specializes in language games and clever strategies designed to hijack state K–12 standards and turn them to leftist ends, without state legislators, governors — or parents — catching on.

But what if states and local school districts were to actively push back against all this? Instead of blindly following the lead of the woke education-school graduates who populate state bureaucracies, state office-holders and local school boards could pursue a return to the teaching of Western civilization. (This does not mean eliminating the study of non-Western history, by the way.)

This program would require the active leadership of governors, legislators, and school-board members determined to get out from under the leftist education monolith now killing our culture. With parents across the country activated by the fight against critical race theory, this strategy has a chance of success. Yet it requires that governors and legislators appoint state education officers who are not the usual suspects, and explicitly charge them with restoring Western civilization to the K–12 curriculum. It will also require the creation of new curriculum material on Western civilization that can be adopted at the local school-district level. Non-profits such as American Achievement Testing (AAT Education) are already beginning to do this for U.S. history and civics. Curricula in Western civilization could follow.

It won’t be easy. But instead of blindly following illiberal academic fashions dictated by a politicized academy, states and school districts have the power to actively resist these trends. If a series of red states and school districts were to restore the teaching of Western civilization at the K–12 level, it would serve as a powerful cultural counterweight to the woke ascendency. To be sure, a campaign to restore the teaching of Western civilization would raise the hackles of the entire American education, media and cultural establishment. Yet a public debate over Western civilization’s role in shaping our republic is precisely what we need. Once parents, rather than woke education bureaucrats, are in the driver’s seat, victory is achievable.

With college students shouting down visiting speakers while holding placards that say “rule of law=white supremacy” or “liberalism is white supremacy,” it is apparent that something in this country has gone terribly wrong. A recent survey showed that two-thirds of college students favor speaker shout-downs, while nearly a quarter say they’d go so far as to use violence to stop a speaker with whom they disagree. These students no longer understand what classical liberalism or the rule of law represent, how difficult they were to develop and secure, or how precious and fragile they remain. The woke ascendency aims to solidify the slogans on those placards with a curriculum built around claims of “systemic racism.” In more ways than one, that would mark the decline and fall of Western civilization.

It is no coincidence that the generation of students who approve of shouting and violence as ways to deal with speakers with whom they disagree knows little of ancient Greek democracy, Roman law, the Magna Carta, the common-law tradition, the Judeo-Christian sources of liberal democracy, Enlightenment philosophy, and so much more that used to be taught as a matter of course in our schools. It’s not uncommon for state-level K–12 history standards to omit the European Middle Ages altogether. The history of liberty and its development over millennia in the West — once the centerpiece of American education — is now barely emphasized. If anything, great effort is expended to ensure that this story — our story — cannot be told.

Parents can change all of this by refusing to accept top-down orders from the woke higher-education establishment. Instead, they can push back from below by way of school boards and state legislatures, not only by blocking CRT, but by restoring the teaching of Western civilization to our schools.

When Stanford University killed off its Western Civ course over 30 years ago, conservatives warned that something more than a graduation requirement was at play in the debate. Without that course of study, they said, our way of life would be endangered. Western civilization itself, they argued, was at stake in the debate. That claim was mocked by leftist critics and cowardly administrators alike, but time has borne out the warnings. With liberty itself increasingly rejected, even as an ideal, by the rising generation, the continuity and flourishing of our civilization can no longer be taken for granted.

It is not too late to repair the damage. Parents take note. Killing off Western Civ got us into this mess. Bringing it back gets us out.

Energy & Environment

Austrian Defense Minister Warns of Europe-Wide Blackouts

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This story should be bigger. The Defense Minister of Austria believes that Europe is heading for a continent-wide blackout. From the EuroWeekly story:

According to La RazonKlaudia Tanner asserted that the question was not whether there was going to be a blackout, but rather that “the question is when it will be”. She has also stated that this danger is “underestimated by all” when it could have catastrophic consequences.

The Austrian government takes the potential threat so seriously that it has launched a public-education campaign to help people prepare:

In order to raise awareness among the population, the Austrian government has decided to launch an awareness campaign that will run throughout the month. Not only will it run in the media, but thousands of posters have also been distributed to Austrian cities. The minister also wanted to promote it on her social networks.

The slogan of the campaign is “What to do when everything stops”, and it seeks to raise awareness among the population about what measures to take when the blackout occurs. Advice about buying enough food for several days, having fuel, candles, batteries, and plenty of drinking water, is given. Another effective measure would be to agree on a meeting point with family and friends and try to collaborate with the neighbors as much as possible it says.

The story doesn’t say why the Austrians are convinced a catastrophic blackout is coming. Could it have to do with countries such as Germany, which intentionally reduced its reliable generating capacities by closing nuclear power plants — because of a tsunami in Japan! — and natural-gas generation to reduce emissions?

Could be. An article in Foreign Policy from earlier this year warned about significant grid problems that could be caused by the continent’s increasing reliance on renewable sources of energy (my emphasis):

Germany’s move to a power system largely reliant on weather-dependent renewables is quickly running up against limits — issues that all countries exchanging conventional fuels for wind and solar will eventually face. What happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow for hours or even days at a time? And what about the short, dark, cold days of midwinter when renewables of Germany’s power demand?

And it’s not only shortages that are problematic but also surpluses: Stormy days can be so windy that the power flows from wind parks on- and offshore overwhelm the power grid, even triggering its collapse. These electricity tsunamis can threaten the stability of neighboring countries’ energy systems, a brickbat the Poles and Czechs wield. Moreover, when there’s excess power in the grid, prices can go negative, forcing grid operators to pay customers to take the electricity,

Yikes!

With the big Glasgow conference ongoing and given the stakes, one would think that this potential catastrophe would be a prime subject of conversation. Because if the climate-change fight actually does contribute to a massive power outage in Europe — with all its attendant horrors and casualties — the anti-global warming campaign will be discredited beyond repair and the politics of Europe roiled in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

Elections

Defund the Police Fiasco in Minneapolis Takes Down Pro-Defund City Council Members

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The CBS News affiliate in Minneapolis has the report. Five of the eleven Minneapolis city-council members seeking reelection were defeated, four of those were open proponents of Defund the Police, and for good measure, a ballot measure passed that stripped powers from the city council and handed them to the mayor. And the city’s progressive mayor, Jacob Frey, was reelected while opposing the anti-police ballot measure. Notice that all the black people they interviewed were against defunding, all the defund proponents they were able to find were white, and the challengers who took down vocal pro-defund city-council members were women:

National Security & Defense

Will Google Repeat Its Pentagon-Cooperation Mistake?

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(Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Three years after Google’s employees forced the firm to abandon an artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon that could have improved U.S. drone capabilities, the company has decided to pursue a different contract with the Defense Department, the New York Times reported today.

The abandoned contract, named Project Maven, was unveiled in 2017, and Gizmodo reported that Google was awarded the deal in September of that year. The Pentagon said at the time that it “focuses on computer vision — an aspect of machine learning and deep learning — that autonomously extracts objects of interest from moving or still imagery.” Those capabilities are widely understood to bolster the analysis of drone footage.

In 2018, a number of Google employees resigned in protest of their company’s decision to seek the Project Maven contract, and thousands more signed a letter asking Google executives to cancel its partnership with the Defense Department. In addition to other concerns, they primarily worried that Google’s work on the drone-technology project was a potentially unethical foray into America’s post-9/11 wars.

Google caved, deciding in June 2018 to not seek an extension of its Pentagon contract beyond its expiration in 2019. Its decision to back down in the face of pressure from social-justice-minded employees skeptical of the defense establishment was a sign of things to come: It was one of the first highly publicized instances in which a major U.S. firm conformed to the progressive political priorities of its employees.

The new contract that Google has decided to pursue is the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, a massive multi-billion-dollar cloud-computing project. The Times reports that Google’s move here “could raise a furor among its outspoken work force and test the resolve of management to resist employee demands.”

If recent history is any indication, Google might back down in this case too, but that’d be a mistake, as China, according to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, is “overinvesting against us” in its pursuit of more advanced AI capabilities. It would be a grave mistake for Google to endorse its employees’ wariness of working to advance U.S. national security — and yet another victory for the woke political attitudes shaping corporate America.