‐ Bruce Jenner is female, Rachel Dolezal is black, and Donald Trump is a presidential contender.
‐ Just because she’s an uninspiring figure doesn’t mean she can’t win. Hillary Clinton gave a pedestrian performance in her campaign relaunch on Roosevelt Island. She outlined liberal policies — paid-leave mandates for businesses, a higher minimum wage, universal preschool — and celebrated the liberal coalition. The theory seems to be that those policies are sufficiently popular, and that coalition sufficiently large, that together they can bring her victory no matter how meager her political talent or how suspect her character. That theory could be right. But it depends on a caricature of Republicans as having nothing to offer Americans who aren’t rich. If they offer appealing policies of their own — free-market reforms of health insurance and higher education, for example — they can prove her wrong. The Republican party’s would-be presidents should spend the next nine months competing over who can best do that job.
‐ Jeb Bush announced that he will be one of those candidates. He was a highly effective and conservative governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. But he has not yet been able to forge a connection with conservatives nationwide today. They worry that he is too eager to make a budget deal with Democrats; that he will not insist on enforcing the immigration laws before granting legal status to illegal immigrants; that he may have too grand a view of the federal role in education, as his brother did; and that he cannot offer Americans the prospect of a clean break with an unsatisfactory era in American politics. It is in his power to address, if not extinguish, each of those concerns, and we hope he takes full advantage of it.
‐ In a speech delivered at historically black Texas Southern University, Clinton attacked the Republican party for its supposed desire to “disempower and disenfranchise people of color,” called for national automatic voter registration, and proposed extending federal control over the election process to a plainly unconstitutional degree. Reform is necessary, Clinton argued, to prevent the United States from backsliding into its ugly past. But voter-identification laws are widely popular in the United States, garnering majority support from all racial and ideological groups. Jim Crow this isn’t, much as it might suit her presidential campaign to pretend otherwise.
‐ The New York Times, reconnecting with its inner Puritan, has set upon Senator Marco Rubio’s personal finances, arguing that the gentleman from Florida doesn’t manage his money prudently and that this should be considered relevant to our evaluation of him as a potential president. But the gentlemen of the Times (the Rubios’ finances are a two-reporter beat) produce little or no evidence that Rubio has been, as the headline put it, “bedeviled by financial struggles.” The article’s leading example of his alleged irresponsibility: His purchase of an $80,000 boat — which came after he got an $800,000 book advance. We should all be so bedeviled. The Rubios, like many political families, were obliged to set up housekeeping in two different cities — Miami, his legislative district, and Tallahassee, the state capital; one would think that the Times, with its snowbird-heavy readership, would appreciate that the 500 miles between the two cities is not commutable. The Rubios, who have four children in parochial schools and who no doubt expect with good reason to have a substantially higher income in the future, have not socked away as much for retirement as they might have; if the Times is truly worried about retirement savings, we are ready to talk Social Security reform when they are. Perhaps some presidential candidate will start that conversation.
‐ The Times tut-tutted at Rubio for having student loans that he did not pay off until 2012 (he finished law school in 1996) hot on the heels of publishing an essay by writer Lee Siegel boasting that he has defaulted on his, and arguing that others should follow his example. Among our self-styled intellectuals, there is a great deal of sentimental banality on the subject of college, and Siegel’s essay is full of it. He argues in effect that he is entitled to default on his loans because he comes from a lower-middle-class background and that he needed an Ivy League degree — three of them, in fact — to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer without having to worry about anything so quotidian as meeting his financial obligations. And, besides, bankers are nasty nasties. (He does not emphasize the fact that, given the way student loans are organized, we taxpayers are his bankers.) A great many writers more accomplished than Siegel have managed without triple certification from Columbia, and many of them kept day jobs to pay the bills. Siegel comes from a modest background, to be sure, but he is today an elite journalist (Harper’s, The New Yorker, etc.) who has published five books: He can afford to meet his obligations. Borrowing money that you cannot repay is foolish; borrowing money that you do not intend to repay is theft.
‐ You have to admire Donald Trump, the man who inherited a substantial real-estate empire and ended up presiding over a substantial real-estate empire with a casino and a New Jersey strip club — and a string of bankruptcies. Given the sorry state of our national finances, President Trump would be much too apt. “Cometh the hour, cometh the reality-television star,” or, as Stephen Sondheim put it, “Send in the clowns.”
‐ President Obama sent another 450 advisers to a base in Anbar Province in Iraq, in what is almost a parody of a Vietnam-style graduated escalation. They won’t operate near the front themselves, and very few of them will even be involved directly in training. The administration is also considering establishing other “lily pad” bases to advise and assist the Iraqis. None of this is likely to be, or even meant to be, decisive. Everything points to the president’s doing just enough not to make a real difference in Iraq and then handing the problem on to his successor.
‐ Eric Casebolt is no longer a police officer in the city of McKinney, Texas. In early June, he was the first responder to reports that a local pool party had spiraled out of hand. His unjustifiably aggressive conduct — culminating in forcing to the ground a young black girl and pulling his weapon on a bystander — was caught on film and uploaded to YouTube. By the end of the week, he had resigned. But that was not sufficient for the mob. Benét Embry, a local talk-show host, posted to Facebook: “I LIVE in this community and this ENTIRE incident is NOT racial at all.” Calls poured into his Dallas broadcast station demanding that he be fired. Tracey Carver-Allbritton was placed on administrative leave from data firm CoreLogic Inc. after video surfaced of her trying to break up a fight between two girls, one white, one black, at the same party; her crime was striking the black girl in the head in an effort to pry them apart. And 1,300 miles away, in Miami, Alberto Iber, principal of North Miami Senior High School, was removed from his position for posting in the comments section of a Miami Herald article: “He [Casebolt] did nothing wrong. He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions.” The Black Lives Matter crowd should modify its chant: No justice, no peace — no mercy.
‐ The thing about provocateurs is, they provoke, and Pam Geller is in her chosen field a lass unparallel’d. Geller’s vocation is calling attention to jihadist savagery, and inevitably she has herself become a target of it. An ISIS Twitter account (there is such a thing) recently sent out her home address with orders to “go forth.” Three men have been arrested for plotting to murder her. And in May two jihadist gunmen were killed in Texas when they tried to ambush an event — a Mohammed-cartoon contest — organized by Geller in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Naturally the Left, which is exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of every minority group so long as they’re not Jews, dribbles vitriol on Geller. The New York Times editorial board denounced her criticism of Islam as “hate speech,” and others argued that she herself was to blame for the bloodshed in Texas. Some years ago, Geller caused outrage with an advertising campaign paraphrasing Ayn Rand, with posters reading: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” The fact that people rightly feared that there would be bloodshed in response to those posters only proves the truth of them. Je suis Pam.
‐ Bruce Jenner is one of the outstanding athletes of our time: the gold medalist in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. He has now come out as a “trans woman,” and renamed himself “Caitlyn.” Obviously, Jenner is a profoundly troubled person. You wouldn’t wish his condition on anyone. But the American media culture has celebrated him as a hero — which is its own troubling condition.
‐ Rachel Dolezal, an NAACP official in Spokane, was exposed to the world in June after her parents came forward and revealed that she has been presenting herself to the world as a black woman despite having been born to two white parents. Their daughter, they suggested, is a “master of disguise.” This did not prompt a mea culpa. “I identify as black,” Dolezal told Matt Lauer, before explaining that she didn’t expect the general public to comprehend the “complexity of my identity.” This contention provoked a backlash, and then a counter-backlash, as the Left struggled to make sense of the situation. We think we see the solution to which it’s headed: Everybody gets to say he’s a victim of oppression.
The Maximum Minimum
Every political season, Democrats argue for higher minimum wages. Republicans respond by citing all of the evidence that higher minimum wages are harmful. Democratic voters get charged up and swing voters conclude that Republicans are heartless. It is the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats, but the curse that keeps on afflicting those below the poverty line who lose their jobs because of it.
Though Hillary Clinton has made it clear that she is going to play this game, much of the action is coming from around the country, where America’s progressive mayors have taken this form of government price-setting to new heights. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently signed legislation that would raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 by 2020. And this move in Los Angeles comes on the heels of Seattle’s and San Francisco’s adoption of the same policy.
The evidence is clear about whether raising the minimum wage is an effective way to help poor people: It is not. As Richard V. Burkhauser and T. Aldrich Finegan note in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, those living in poverty get such a vanishingly low fraction of the benefits of a minimum-wage increase that “it is not clear that increases in the minimum wage make good policy even if no jobs are lost as a result.”
As we prepare for the umpteenth political season pitting Democratic populism against a preponderance of economic evidence, let us pause and pursue the deep and enduring wisdom obtainable only through abstraction. The nearby chart takes the argument of minimum-wage proponents to its logical extreme. Suppose we grant that corporations are evil. Suppose we also grant that the only way we can improve the welfare of the poor is to redistribute by taking all of the money from the evil corporations and giving it to the working masses.
This chart transports us to this redistributive nirvana, where the government has decided to seize all of the corporate profits in the land and give them to workers. Assume, contrary to sound economic thinking and common sense, that companies continue to operate exactly as they do today, suffering no negative effects from these confiscatory taxes. How large an increase in wages can this progressive utopia finance?
To answer this question, we gathered data on after-tax corporate profits from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. We then gathered data on average hours worked per week per nonfarm employee from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and transformed these weekly data into data on the aggregate number of yearly hours worked by all nonfarm employees. Finally, we divided quarterly corporate profits by the aggregate number of hours worked by nonfarm employees over the same period, labeling this value the “expropriation subsidy” on the chart. To get an idea of how much of a per-hour wage increase this policy could create, simply add the values of the two lines at a point in time.
As the chart shows, if every dollar of U.S. corporate profits were allocated to America’s employees, the effect would be to add a bit more than $7 to the average wage. The chart adds interesting perspective to the new policy in Los Angeles. The difference between the $15 Los Angeles target and the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is $7.75. At $7.57, the current value of the expropriation subsidy is slightly lower. Mayor Garcetti’s minimum-wage legislation has, it seems, taken economic populism to its logical extreme — and beyond.
‐ Republican senators Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) have introduced legislation with the goal of making birth-control pills available in drugstores without a prescription. It would require the FDA to give priority review to pharmaceutical companies applying to have such drugs approved for over-the-counter sale. Leftist groups who proclaim their support for greater access to contraception have nonetheless denounced the bill. Planned Parenthood’s president called it “a sham and an insult to women,” and NARAL’s president claimed it was “nothing but political pandering to trick women and families.” They say it would undermine the HHS mandate requiring insurance policies to cover the full cost of birth control. But nothing in the bill would change that requirement or prevent insurance companies from covering non-prescription birth control. It would, however, save women from unnecessary doctor’s visits and likely drive down the cost of the drugs. It also dramatically undercuts the Democratic case that Republicans are hell-bent on banning birth control, which seems to be the real objection.
‐ It is being called “Cyber Pearl Harbor.” Sometime in early 2014 (or possibly earlier), Chinese hackers breached the information systems of the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s HR department. For more than a year they were able to peruse OPM’s systems undetected, collecting mountains of data — among which are SF-86 forms. The 127-page Standard Form 86 is the questionnaire filled out by anyone applying for a national-security clearance. Gambling habits? Trouble paying bills? Adulterous liaisons? It’s all in SF-86 forms — along with a whole lot of other precious data: Social Security numbers, health insurance, life insurance, pension information, address, etc. J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, suggests the magnitude of the hack: “We believe . . . that the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to 1 million former federal employees.” And John Schindler, a former NSA intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer, writes: “Whoever now holds OPM’s records possesses something like the Holy Grail from a counterintelligence perspective.” How has the White House responded to this unprecedented attack? Said President Obama, “We’re going to have to be much more aggressive, much more attentive than we have been.” The president, with his enthusiasm for centralization, has sometimes been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the wake of Cyber Pearl Harbor, the president would do well to be more like him.
‐ The Environmental Protection Agency has spent years looking for a reason to throw a wet blanket over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the modern oil-and-gas-extraction technique that turned the United States into a net exporter of petroleum and fueled an energy renaissance in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and everywhere else the business has been permitted to thrive. (New York, under the feckless government of Andrew Cuomo, has banned the technique.) But in its long-awaited report on the matter, the EPA came up with bupkis, concluding that fracking has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.” Other studies have found that fracking is in fact less likely to cause groundwater contamination than are conventionally drilled wells, which is not entirely surprising inasmuch as there is often a mile or so of rock between groundwater and fracked wells, which generally are quite deep. All petroleum extraction brings with it an environmental impact, but the main challenge of fracking — the disposal of contaminated wastewater — has little to do with drilling per se, and drilling companies have worked closely with regulators to address that issue through recycling. Reasonable adults — a set that excludes Governor Cuomo — understand that as an environmental question the choice is not between fracking and butterflies, but between fracking and conventional petroleum drilling (and coal mining), in which case natural gas is an attractive option. As we have heard in another context: The debate is over, and the science is settled.
‐ One week after the Supreme Court tightened the rules governing the prosecution of those who make threats online, the Department of Justice decided that it would be a swell idea to go after the commenters at Reason.com for having “threatened” a federal judge. Certainly the offending comments are unpleasant. “Its [sic] judges like these that should be taken out back and shot,” one example reads. Another, in response, asks, “Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first.” But unpleasant does not mean illegal, and the two should not be mistaken. Indeed, not only does existing “true threats” doctrine make it clear that hyperbole such as this is protected by the First Amendment, but, even if these remarks were deemed to cross the line, there would be no feasible way that the DOJ could demonstrate that their progenitors were serious. What the federal government can do, however, is to tie up everybody involved in months of legal discovery and hit anybody it dislikes with a series of grand-jury subpoenas. Once again, the process will serve as the punishment.
‐ The College Board has established a new framework for Advanced Placement U.S. history — a framework grossly skewed to the left. A formidable roster of historians and other scholars have made clear their opposition to this shift. The roster includes those Harvard veterans Stephan Thernstrom and Harvey Mansfield. They want a “warts and all” presentation of U.S. history. The College Board is interested in warts only.
‐ Until recently, aspiring schoolteachers in New York State took an exam called the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST). The first version of it, in use since the early 1990s, was deemed racially discriminatory, so a second one was introduced in 2004, and now that, too, has been ruled invalid. “Instead of beginning with ascertaining the job tasks of New York teachers,” a judge explained, “the two LAST examinations began with the premise that all New York teachers should be required to demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts.” Who came up with such a crazy notion? The regulations on which this ruling is based not only assume that teaching skills can be specified precisely and measured with a test; they effectively assume that all demographic groups have these skills in equal measure, so any variation in scores between groups proves that the test is biased. The judge should reflect that condemning a test because the results are undesired is exactly what bad students do.
‐ An FDA advisory panel recently voted, 18 to six, to recommend approval of Flibanserin, a drug designed to help women with chronically low libido. Flibanserin, which is made by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has already been twice rejected. In 2010, an advisory committee unanimously vetoed the drug, and in 2013, the FDA, citing concerns about potentially dangerous side effects, asked Sprout to conduct further studies to ensure the drug’s safety. Sprout acquiesced to these demands — and then it went the extra mile: In 2014, the pharmaceutical company helped launch a public-relations campaign, “Even the Score,” which seeks to “level the playing field when it comes to the treatment of women’s sexual dysfunction.” “Even the Score” notes that 26 drugs for male sexual dysfunction have been approved by the FDA, yet none have been approved for women. Its website calls upon women to sign a petition, which argues, among other things, that “gender equality should be the standard in access to sexual dysfunction treatments.” But that isn’t how science works. The FDA may be one of America’s last institutions to recognize that women’s bodies might just work differently than men’s.
‐ Kafka doesn’t explicitly write in The Trial that Josef K. went to Amherst, but revelations of the college’s unjust approach to sexual-assault cases show that he’d be quite at home there. Last month, a male former student filed a lawsuit against the college on the basis of miscarriage of justice, two years after the college expelled him for rape, despite acknowledging that he was black-out drunk and it was the accuser who performed oral sex on him. The accuser’s reaction to her “rape” would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic: “Ohmygod I jus did something so f***ig stupid” (sic), she texted her dorm counselor, who advised her to frame the sex as rape to avoid the awkwardness of looking her roommate in the eye (inconveniently, her sex partner was her roommate’s boyfriend). “It’s pretty obvi [obvious] I wasn’t an innocent bystander,” she continued. No indeed: The label of “victim” is a better fit for the man who finds himself without a degree for no just reason.
‐ The ongoing campus crackdown on the free-speech and due-process rights of young men depends on the media’s ability to whip up a public frenzy over the fake “crisis” of campus sexual assault. The latest contribution is a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation survey that purports to show that 1 in 5 college women endure a “sexual assault” during their years on campus. Yet despite the Post’s alarmist reporting, its survey shows no such thing. The poll didn’t actually ask students if they had endured a “sexual assault” as the law defines sexual assault. Instead, the survey wording included references to “unwanted sexual contact,” and then defined that term so broadly as to include behavior that not only isn’t assault but isn’t unlawful at all. In fact, the poll undermines itself. Despite the alleged epidemic, only a minority of students believed that sexual assault was a problem on campus — far fewer than were concerned about drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, however, while the poll is transparently flawed and internally contradictory, that won’t stop the campus Left from using it to fan the flames of “crisis.” The crackdown will continue, now partially empowered by one of the nation’s leading newspapers.
‐ A New Jersey woman was stabbed to death in June while waiting for a gun permit. Carol Bowne, a 39-year-old hairdresser from Berlin Township, had become convinced that her ex-boyfriend was going to harm her, and so, having taken out a restraining order, purchased an alarm system, and installed security cameras at her home, she started the interminable process of getting her home state to recognize her right to keep and bear arms. In most states, Bowne would have been able to walk into the nearest gun store, submit to a background check, and walk out with a firearm. In New Jersey, however, she was expected to go through a redundant permitting process before she ever set foot in a dealership. That process proved fatal. By state law, New Jersey is supposed to issue all permits within 30 days, but in reality petitioners tend to wait for up to seven months. According to the police chief who dealt with her case, Bowne was still waiting for her fingerprints to be processed when she was stabbed to death in her driveway. Sometimes the law is not merely an ass.
‐ The transformation of secular Turkey into Islamist Turkey is the work of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister this last decade and president these last few months. Possession of absolute power is the one and only means of guaranteeing the Islamism that Erdogan has set his heart on. A general election was supposed to be the final step. In the event that he and his party were to win 330 seats in parliament, he would rewrite the constitution so that power passed from parliament to the president — to himself, that is to say, in effect a sultan and caliph remodeled to suit the times. Minority parties would not be represented in parliament unless they obtained 10 percent of the vote. In an atmosphere of general astonishment, Erdogan and his party won a mere 258 seats, not enough even for a parliamentary majority. Three opposition parties easily cleared the 10 percent hurdle. One of these is the Kurdish People’s Democratic party, a novelty in the Turkish parliament and evidence of the Kurdish path onward and upward in the Middle East. The talk is all of coming confusion and the making and unmaking of coalitions. Secular Turks, on the other hand, are sighing with relief at being spared the deathbed of democracy. “There seems to be no room for a worse-than-Putinesque rule by Erdogan” is how one of his most insistent critics put it.
‐ Radek Sikorski is an old friend of National Review — a onetime writer for us. We have cheered him as he has advanced in a post-Communist Poland: defense minister, foreign minister. He has now been forced to resign as speaker of the Polish house. Last year, he was caught in a bugging scandal, saying terribly impolitic and true things. One of the subjects was the reliability of the United States as an ally. Radek said, in effect, “Don’t bet the ranch on the Americans” — a point we ourselves have made repeatedly over the decades. Radek Sikorski is a jewel of Polish political life, and of the West broadly speaking, and we look forward to the all-but-inevitable rebound.
‐ Raif Badawi is a Saudi writer who advocates basic human rights in his country. Last year, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and a thousand lashes. He was subjected to the first 50 lashes last January. No more have been administered, apparently because of the prisoner’s failing health. The Saudi supreme court has just upheld his sentence of ten years and a thousand lashes. Badawi’s brother-in-law, Waleed Abulkhair, was his lawyer — but he too has been imprisoned. Badawi’s sister, and Abulkhair’s wife, Samar Badawi, speaks for both of them — but she is under a travel ban. The importance of Saudi Arabia as an ally of Western democracies is clear. But, really, what a despicable system.
‐ In Madrid, on an outdoor banner advertising its prenatal test for Down syndrome, a Swiss biotechnology company showed the face of a girl with . . . Down syndrome. About 95 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome in Spain are aborted. The test is bought and used largely to identify Down syndrome in utero so that parents can know whether to terminate the pregnancy. Against that background, the clear message of the banner ad was “We can tell you whether the child you’re carrying is abortion material like this little girl.” The ad was obviously cold. It was coarse. The biotech company, Genoma, used the girl’s photo without securing her parents’ permission. After suffering some well-deserved bad publicity on social media, Genoma took the ad down and apologized. It slipped up. Any abortion-friendly business could have told Genoma that the most elementary rule of advertising its product is not to put a human face on it.
‐ The Washington Post has published a column that is depressing in the extreme. It’s by a high-school English teacher in Sacramento who is required by Common Core to teach Shakespeare. She objects to this requirement — because she dislikes Shakespeare and has a “personal disinterest” in him. Plus, there is “a WORLD of really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of my very ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.” She asks, “Why not teach the oral tradition out of Africa?” Why should students be bound to “a long-dead, British guy”? The teacher is “sad that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago.” She says, “Shakespeare lived in a pretty small world.” Shakespeare’s world was so big that even the most capacious and imaginative of us can barely take it in. The late Maya Angelou once said that, when she was young, she thought that Shakespeare must have been a black girl, because how else could he understand her so well? As for the Sacramento English teacher, her students are some of the unluckiest in the world.
‐ “On Leaving Islam” is the title of an op-ed piece on the website of the Daily Californian, an independent student-run newspaper put out on the UC Berkeley campus. Born in Pakistan, our author is torn between what she was taught to believe as a devout Muslim and her experience of the wider world. As a radical feminist, for instance, she couldn’t accept the gender inequality of traditional Islamic society. “It’s important to have an honest dialogue about religion” is her pacifying conclusion, but she does add that she’s become an atheist. Not so fast: Apostasy from Islam traditionally carries the death penalty. The paper took down the story and withheld the author’s name “because of personal safety concerns.” Fear 1, honest dialogue 0.
‐ At long last, the enforcers of political correctness are meeting some resistance — and from the left, no less. In the last six months, complaints have been heard from Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Maher, Patton Oswalt, John Cleese, and a whole host of other funnymen who have suggested that it is time to stand athwart hysteria yelling, “Stop!” “There’s a creepy PC thing out there that really bothers me,” Seinfeld told Seth Meyers in June. People today “just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.” Comedians are notorious for pushing back against authority. Could it be that America’s left-wing censors have finally become the Man?
‐ American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so since 1978, when Affirmed won it. American Pharoah is the twelfth horse to win the Triple Crown. Why did so many of us root for him in the third leg, the Belmont Stakes, instead of one of the underdogs? Must one horse grab all the glory? There is a natural thrill in seeing human excellence — or, in this case, equine excellence (to go with the human excellence of his trainers et al.). American Pharoah’s only imperfection, it seems, is that he doesn’t spell his name right.
‐ Public-school students in Madison, Wis., are forbidden to wear “shirts, hats or other attire with Native American team names, logos or mascots that depict negative stereotypes,” according to a rule recently enacted by the board of education there. Presumably positive stereotypes are fine. So when the board objects to Chief Wahoo, for example, the logo of the Cleveland Indians, let the young Tribe fan advertising his team up there in the Badger State explain that the chief is a brilliant specimen of mid-20th-century American commercial art. Are board members philistine? Or maybe they’re only jealous of Wahoo’s sunny good looks and thousand-watt smile. Negative stereotype, indeed.
‐ Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator and independent governor from Rhode Island, is now running for president — as a Democrat, last we checked. His platform contains the least appealing campaign proposal since Walter Mondale’s 1984 promise to raise taxes: He wants to switch America to the metric system. This might seem like just another bad idea best left in the 1970s, like Jimmy Carter or the 55-m.p.h. speed limit, but there’s more: Chafee supports forced metrification not just for its nerd appeal, but as “a symbolic integration of ourselves in the international community after the mistakes” of the last ten to 15 years. Somehow that doesn’t make it sound any better. Much like Chafee himself, metrification would be a pointless solution to a nonexistent problem.
‐ Tim Hunt, a 72-year-old biochemist with positions at University College London and elsewhere, jokingly told a South Korean conference on women in science: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” To be sure, most women would be justifiably annoyed or embarrassed by Hunt’s remarks, and for what it’s worth, he is married (to a former student of his), so this was probably not the smartest thing he said all week. Still, it hardly seems a firing offense, especially for a Nobel laureate (2001); an honest apology (and Hunt offered many) should have sufficed. Instead, the objections were loud and bitter, and Hunt was summarily dismissed from several of his posts, effectively ending his career as a scientist. Does it seem contradictory that a group of extremely intelligent women, who have surmounted all sorts of hurdles to get into top research laboratories and routinely find ingenious solutions to difficult research problems, suddenly swoon in distress when their boss makes a clumsy attempt at humor? “They cry”? Wherever did he get that idea?
‐ A notorious defect of the modern English language is its lack of a distinction between second person singular and second person plural. The South has its regional workaround, but Yankees usually have to make do with “you guys,” since “friends” is often not accurate, and “folks” sounds like the chirpy woman who seats you at Olive Garden. All that will change, though, in the unlikely event that people start taking Vox seriously. The “explanatory” website explains that “feminist thinkers and people concerned with equality” now frown upon the use of “you guys” to address groups that are not all male. The reason given is that, despite widespread popular usage, the dictionary says “guy” is a masculine term, so it must not be applied to women for fear of damaging their psyches. It may be hard to believe now, but once upon a time the Left bitterly opposed prescriptivism in language.
‐ John Marks Templeton Jr. was the son of one of the world’s greatest investment wizards. Jack, as friends knew him, also was a pro-life pediatric surgeon who specialized in trauma relief and the separation of conjoined twins. In 1995, he retired from medicine to head the Templeton Foundation, started by his father. Under Jack’s leadership, its endowment grew to more than $3 billion. It now gives away more than $100 million annually, and is best known for examining the intersection of faith and science. Its annual Templeton Prize, which honors spiritual life, has gone to the likes of Mother Teresa and Michael Novak; this year, the foundation conferred it upon Jean Vanier, a prominent philosopher who works with the mentally disabled. Although Templeton liked to call himself a “moderate,” he used his own resources as well as the foundation’s philanthropic program to advance free enterprise, religious freedom, national security, and a wide range of conservative causes. Dead at 75. R.I.P.
‐ Touched by the muse, Vincent Musetto wrote eight golden syllables and then wrangled with the city editor, who questioned whether they were true. Musetto: They gotta be! They were beautiful (though macabre). A reporter was assigned to verify a fact, and it checked out. So Vinnie’s gem was a go. The next morning, April 15, 1983, the front page of the New York Post, that edgy tabloid, greeted commuters with the banner headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” a punchy yet elegant description of a gruesome local news story. Headlines are a literary genre, at least at the New York Post, the city’s oldest newspaper, founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801. An editor, Musetto began working for it in the 1970s. “Headless Body” is indisputably his most memorable work. His favorite, though, he said, was a headline he wrote the following year: “Granny Executed in Her Pink Pajamas.” Many admired his “Khadafy Goes Daffy.” Dead at 74. R.I.P.
If a trade deal with Pacific Rim countries, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is one of the top priorities President Obama has set for his legacy, he isn’t acting like it.
In order to sign a deal — and any other trade deal a president might want to reach — Obama needs “trade-promotion authority,” an agreement from Congress that during the next six years it will give trade deals up-or-down votes with no amendments. And yet the president’s own party does not seem to want to give him that authority: Only 14 Democratic senators supported legislation to do so, and just 28 Democratic House members backed it during a recent symbolic vote.
Adding insult to injury, the stumbling block is now that Democrats voted against something they strongly support, trade-adjustment assistance, a job-training program for workers who lose their jobs due to trade. The Senate passed it in conjunction with trade-promotion authority, so the House has to, as well. House Democrats voted no to sink trade-promotion authority.
If Republicans’ voting to renew trade-adjustment assistance is what’s necessary to get trade-promotion authority through, they should do it. (Indeed, some have.) The program, well liked by unions, is highly ineffective. But it is tiny — costing less than $1 billion a year — and the benefits to any one of the three trade deals currently under consideration would be well worth that price.
Ideally, a president who says he is committed to free trade could persuade enough members of his own party to join him that this wouldn’t be necessary. Obama should be making a forthright case for why trade-promotion authority makes sense, explaining that free trade is a boon for almost all Americans and offering evidence that his trade deals will be good ones. Instead, he has treated his Democratic opponents with clear contempt and resorted to arguments from personal authority — essentially, “If I’m for it, it must be a good idea.” His lack of relationships on Capitol Hill, even with his fellow Democrats, has not helped.
Hillary Clinton has been AWOL. The presumptive Democratic nominee refuses to say what she thinks about trade-promotion authority, instead choosing to express skepticism about the potential Pacific deal, which she vociferously advocated as secretary of state.
Republicans have mostly done the right thing, although a minority has decided to pretend that the only question worth addressing is whether President Obama can be trusted. The answer to that question is usually no, but it is not at issue here: Congress will retain the ability to vote down any agreement he or his successor negotiates. Notwithstanding their confusion, more than three-quarters of House Republicans voted for trade-promotion authority. If President Obama’s push ultimately fails, he will have only himself and his recalcitrant party to blame.