Politics & Policy

Democrats’ Shell Game on SALT Deduction

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Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) delivers remarks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., November 1, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin blasted what he called “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” that disguise the true cost of President Joe Biden’s social spending framework. As part of a deal to bring back the state and local tax deduction (SALT), Democrats appear poised to introduce another one.

Blue state Democrats have been fighting to bring back the ability for wealthy residents of high-tax jurisdictions to deduct their state and local taxes from their federal bill. For decades, it was a destructive policy that forced residents of low-tax states to effectively subsidize the tax and spend policies of more liberal states. Under the 2017 tax law, the deductions were capped at $10,000.

An emerging plan would involve not only waiving the cap for several years, but retroactively refunding tax payments while the cap was in place. Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes that this would be a $500 billion tax cut, with over 80 percent going to the top five percent of households, making it a larger item than any other provision in the bill.

But there’s a catch — and it involves baseline budgeting. Under law, the SALT cap is set to expire after 2025. What the Democratic proposal intends to do, according to Bloomberg, is to theoretically bring back the cap after 2025. Though the new cap will be at a higher level than $10,000 at that point, on paper, it will count as savings relative to a scenario under which the cap fully expires. Of course, what Democrats are betting on is that after a few years without the cap, they will easily be able to delay the onset of a massive tax increase on a highly influential constituency in the second half of the decade.

If Manchin meant what he said regarding his concern about gimmicks, he should view the SALT change with scrutiny.

Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Sides with Religious Groups on New York’s Abortion Mandate

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A police officer walks in front of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., May 13, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Back in August, I had a piece on the homepage covering a lawsuit from religious groups suing New York over a policy requiring all employers to cover abortion under employee health-insurance plans. Particularly at issue was the state’s extremely narrow exemption for employers with religious and moral objections.

Here are some details from my piece:

Much like the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which was tacked on to the law by the Health and Human Services Department, New York’s mandate offers only the narrowest of exemptions for most religious employers. Disregarding that most religious groups serve individuals regardless of faith, New York’s Department of Financial Services has extended relief only to institutions that hire and serve individuals of the same religion as the employer.

Given the outward-facing nature of religious groups and charities, such a carve-out does next to nothing for nearly all institutions burdened by the mandate. The Carmelite Sisters at the Teresian Nursing Home in New York, for instance, welcome anyone in need regardless of their religion, so the exemption as it stands provides no relief to them. Most churches, like the First Bible Baptist Church in New York, offer ministries and services to the community without regard for religion.

In order to qualify for relief from New York’s abortion-funding mandate, these and other Christian churches and ministries would have to cease offering their services to anyone except for those individuals who share the same faith; in most cases, this would contradict the groups’ charitable mission. Unless they follow the mandate and provide coverage for elective abortions, the only other option for these groups is to forgo health insurance altogether, opening themselves up to immense fines from the state.

Lower courts ruled in favor of New York, arguing that the policy is acceptable under First Amendment jurisprudence because it doesn’t “target” religion. But in an order yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed with the challengers, vacating the lower court’s judgment and sending the case back for further consideration in light of the Court’s recent ruling in Fulton v. Philadelphia.

One of the core holdings of the seven-justice majority in Fulton was that a religious exemption might not qualify as neutral and generally applicable if it is too limited or is offered on a case-by-case basis. Evidently, the Court thinks that New York’s strict exemption policy isn’t good enough, especially after Fulton.

This decision confirms the Court’s turn toward more robust protection for free exercise, and it is especially encouraging to see the justices requiring lower courts to operate in accordance with the 7-2 ruling in Fulton.

Culture

‘The Life of Brandon’

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Like Charlie, I wrote about the hysterical reaction to “Let’s Go Brandon.”

 

 

Elections

What Happens If Glenn Youngkin Comes Close?

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Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin talks to reporters outside a polling station on the Election Day, at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, Va., November 2, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

If Glenn Youngkin does not win the Virginia gubernatorial election tonight, Republicans will be disappointed, if for no other reason than so many elements of a perfect storm seemed to come together in the last two months.

Terry McAuliffe bigfooted a bunch of rivals in the primary and, just as the electorate really started tuning in, offered one of the all-time self-destructive lines, “I don’t believe parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” After Biden won the presidency in 2020, the Democratic grassroots are probably a bit complacent and the Republican grassroots are probably angrier and more fired up than usual. Republicans nominated an African-American woman to be lieutenant governor and a Latino to be state attorney general. The incumbent Democratic state attorney general running for reelection is one of the two Democratic statewide officials who admitted to wearing blackface.

The third-party gubernatorial candidate, Princess Blanding, is running against systemic racism and pledges “progressive, courageous leadership,” meaning she’s more likely to take away votes from McAuliffe, not Youngkin.

Democrats control Capitol Hill but can’t unite behind the spending bills, and President Biden’s approval rating is low and sinking lower. The economy is turning into a mess with high gas prices, high food prices, inflation and worsening supply chain problems. Youngkin seemed to successfully walk the tightrope of being Trumpy enough for the southern part of the state but not so Trumpy that he repels the northern part of the state.

Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why people now see Youngkin as a slight favorite.

But if McAuliffe wins, say, 50 percent to 49 percent, that result would still represent an significant erosion of the Democratic position in Virginia, one year after Biden won, 54 percent to 44 percent. Keep in mind, no Republican has run all that close statewide since Ed Gillespie almost beat Mark Warner in the 2014 Senate race. Ralph Northam clobbered Gillespie in the 2017 governor’s race, 54 percent to 45 percent;  Tim Kaine demolished Corey Stewart in the 2018 Senate race, 57 percent to 41 percent, and Mark Warner won last year’s Senate race, 56 percent to 44 percent. For Virginia Republicans, a competitive statewide race is a giant step in the right direction.

If Youngkin runs better in the northern Virginia suburbs, that suggests that invoking Donald Trump probably won’t work all that well for Democratic candidates next year in the purplish suburbs outside Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta, or Phoenix. Mark Kelly, Raphael Warnock, Maggie Hassan and maybe even Catherine Cortez Mastio will have to sweat their Senate races.

A close-but-no-cigar finish for Youngkin would be a soft echo of 2009, when Bob McDonnell won Virginia by a landslide and Chris Christie beat Jon Corzine in the New Jersey gubernatorial election. Republicans would no doubt prefer to see two blue states turn red, instead of just one, or perhaps just a close finish in one. But unless McAuliffe defies all the polls, the message from the 2021 election cycle will be that we’re in the post-Trump era, and Democrats just can’t count on the former president to solve all of their turnout and motivation problems for them.

When a president wins, his supporters usually get less motivated, and the opposition party gets energized. There are no permanent victories in American politics. Momentum shifts back and forth like a pendulum between the two parties.

Elections

Who’s on the Ballot, How Voting Works, and What to Watch for in Virginia’s Elections

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Campaign signs for Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin stand together on the last day of early voting in the Virginia gubernatorial election in Fairfax, Va., October 30, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

In Virginia, every year is an election year. In addition to voting in federal elections in even-number years like the rest of the country, Virginia’s elections for state-level offices are held in odd-number years. This year, voters will cast ballots for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Each of those offices has four-year terms. Governors are not allowed to run for consecutive terms, but lieutenant governors and attorneys general are. The current attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, is running for this third consecutive term. Each of the executive-branch elections is separate, so it is possible for different parties to win each one. In 2001, Democrats won governor and lieutenant governor, but a Republican won attorney general. In 2005, a Democrat won governor, and Republicans won lieutenant governor and attorney general. Republicans won all three in 2009, and Democrats won all three in 2013 and 2017.

Virginians will also vote for the House of Delegates, the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. Delegates serve two-year terms. There are 100 seats in the House of Delegates, and Democrats currently outnumber Republicans 55–45. The Virginia Senate is not up this cycle. Senators serve four-year terms, and their last elections were held in 2019. There are 40 seats in the Senate, and Democrats have a slim 21–19 majority. The lieutenant governor is president of the Senate and, in the event of a 20–20 tie, would cast the deciding vote. But no matter what happens today, Democrats will have a one-seat majority in the Senate.

There are also local offices on the ballot like town council, school board, and mayor. Those vary by locality.

The official statewide candidate list can be found here. The official local candidate list can be found here.

Election Day In-Person Voting

Virginia polls are open today from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Voters in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Virginia requires proof of identification to vote. A list of acceptable forms of ID can be found here.

Absentee Voting

Any Virginia registered voter could vote by mail if he or she submitted a ballot request on or before October 22. Witness signatures are required for absentee ballots. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by today and received by noon on Friday, November 5 to be counted. Voters can also drop off their absentee ballots themselves at designated drop-off locations by 7 p.m. today. A full explanation of absentee voting can be found here.

Early In-Person Voting

The early in-person voting window for Virginia is from 45 days before Election Day until the Saturday before Election Day. This year, that window was from September 17 to October 30. The same ID requirements apply as on Election Day.

Registration

Virginia does not allow same-day registration. Voters must be registered at least 22 days before Election Day to be eligible to vote. This year’s registration deadline was October 12.

Other Notes

  • The general lay of the land electorally for major population centers is as follows:
    • Richmond, Arlington, Norfolk, and Alexandria are deep blue.
    • Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties are the archetypal suburban counties that used to vote Republican but now vote Democratic. However, Fairfax is significantly more blue than Prince William, and Prince William is slightly more blue than Loudoun. If Youngkin is splitting Loudoun 50–50 or only losing it by a few points, he will be feeling very good.
    • Other suburban counties to watch are Chesterfield and Henrico, near Richmond. If Youngkin can win Chesterfield comfortably and be close in Henrico, he will be feeling very good.
    • Virginia Beach is evenly split. It voted for the Democrat by 52–47 in 2017, and the Republican by 48-46 in 2013. If Youngkin can take a clear lead in Virginia Beach, he will be feeling very good.
    • The bulk of the state’s counties are sparsely populated and deep red. They are strongly pro-Trump and more religious than the other parts of the state.
  • The winning Republican strategy is to run up the score in the rural parts of the state with high turnout to offset the Democratic areas while remaining palatable enough to suburban voters to not lose them in a landslide. It is a balance that has proven very difficult to strike.
  • Fairfax County is by far the state’s most populous, with over 1 million residents. It also takes the longest to report results on Election Day. This has been the case for every election in recent memory, so if it happens tonight, it won’t be unusual.
  • Early and absentee votes will be reported first. Expect McAuliffe to win those by a significant margin. As the Election Day results come in, Youngkin should chip away. This is especially true since McAuliffe was five points ahead of Youngkin when early voting started, and most polls show the race tied today.
Elections

Trump Lets Down Terry McAuliffe

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A good take on the state of the Virginia race from Politico Playbook today:

TERRY MCAULIFFE wanted GLENN YOUNGKIN and DONALD TRUMP to campaign together so badly that when it didn’t happen, McAuliffe simply invented a Youngkin-Trump event that didn’t exist.

“Guess how Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign?” McAuliffe told a modest crowd outside a Fairfax brewery Monday night at his final rally. “He is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia.”

That was a lie. Trump wasn’t in Virginia and he never campaigned with Youngkin, though he did make the case for the GOP candidate — “fantastic guy!” — during a brief “tele-rally.”

Thirty miles away, at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, a crowd several times the size of McAuliffe’s was waiting for Youngkin to take the stage. You got a hint of why McAuliffe was desperate to manufacture the fake Trump event. While McAuliffe has boundless energy — “Sleep when you’re dead!” he likes to say — his Monday audiences in Richmond and Fairfax, where we caught up with him, were modest and listless.

Youngkin’s were large and rollicking, with many of the trappings of a MAGA rally — a similar dad rock playlist, hats and flags and T-shirts paying homage to the former president — but, to the great disappointment of Democrats, not Trump himself.

In Richmond on Monday afternoon, McAuliffe hinted at how Trump’s uncharacteristic self-control in not inserting himself more forcefully into the Virginia race had been a bit of a letdown. “I guess from a political perspective, sure,” McAuliffe told reporters, “I think that would be great.” (Though he quickly added, “But for the sake of the country it’s time to move on.”)

Economics

Why Supply Inflation Stymies the Fed

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My column today explains why it’s not a kind of inflation the Fed is equipped to handle:

If any pollster ends up surveying the least popular words of 2021, “transitory” and supply chain” might make the list just behind “inflation.” What makes our situation so frustrating isn’t just that we haven’t seen a string of monthly price increases like this one in decades. It’s also that the type of inflation we are experiencing is particularly painful. . . .

Terry McAuliffe: The Last Gasp of the Clinton Legacy

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Former President Bill Clinton embraces then Democratic nominee for Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe during a campaign event in Dale City, Va., October 27, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It’s easy to forget that Terry McAuliffe’s role in elected office in Virginia is almost entirely because of his past relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. His connection to the Clintons is, in the words of the Washington Post, “a friendship as close as family.” McAuliffe was co-chairman of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. As governor, McAuliffe threw himself into the role of campaign surrogate for Hillary in 2016. Bill Clinton is still holding fundraisers for McAuliffe in 2021.

Being a friend

The Absurd Twitter Suspension of Quin Hillyer

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(Illustration/Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

In any ranking of dumb Twitter suspensions, Quin Hillyer’s has to land pretty high up there. Full disclosure, Quin is a former colleague of mine at the Washington Examiner as well as a former National Review author. He recounts his story:

On Twitter, people often have fun with random nostalgia games. Somebody named Jon B. Wolfsthal posted this : “Tell me you watched SNL in the 1970s without saying you watched SNL in the 1970s.” To which, almost immediately, playing off the phonetic similarity of his first name with that of onetime SNL star Jane Curtin, I wrote: “Jon, you ignorant slut.” As my reply

Politics & Policy

Dems Test Out a ‘Racist Dog Whistle’ Rationalization for Virginia

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Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe speaks during his campaign rally in Richmond, Va., October 23, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Democratic Party panic about Virginia right now is palpable, but if Glenn Youngkin defeats Terry McAuliffe in what looked like a deep-blue state twelve months ago, Democrats are prepared to revert to their favorite play. They can never admit they lost because voters didn’t like their policies; they think they can only ever lose if Republicans somehow cheat. The method of their cheating is almost always either outright ballot-box shenanigans or the famed “racist dog whistle.”

By this reasoning white voters are so racist that if a candidate simply signals to them, “Hey, I’m racist too,” they will turn out in droves for him or her. Democrats are still telling themselves, and the country, that Mike Dukakis lost in 1988 because Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton TV commercial was a “racist dog whistle.” Never mind that the ad indicated extremely poor judgment in paroling a man who later committed murder; never mind that it was one of many factors that showed Dukakis was a weak, unappealing candidate who was far too sympathetic to criminals at a point when concern about crime was near an all-time high. Racism is the new turtles; it goes all the way down. It explains everything. It gives a hint of why Democrats so often seem to hate their country; what’s not to hate, when everyone’s racist?

Many commentators on Twitter are claiming right now that Youngkin can win only by proving that he is a racist to the satisfaction of other racists and that the tool he is using to show this is opposition to critical race theory. At various times Democrats have denied that CRT is being taught in public schools and also said that CRT and its close cousin, the 1619 Project, merely constitute a true and correct approach to history and American society. Never do they grapple with the notion that CRT is extremely unpopular. Nor do they allow that maybe parents should be involved in what the state is teaching their kids. They simply close their ears to McAuliffe’s now-infamous September 28 comment, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” overlook that a poll shows Virginians oppose that statement by a margin of 23 points, and shrug at the fact that McAuliffe’s Kinsley Gaffe is Democratic Party dogma. If McAuliffe loses this race, which he led in every poll but one as of the second week of October, he will have only his own policies to blame.

Culture

Daylight Savings: The Most Polarizing Debate of Our Time?

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For a taste of how violent this debate can get, I give you Cato’s Scott Lincicome writing for The Dispatch:

In the coming days, tens of millions of Americans and their children will participate in a silly, unhealthy annual ritual rooted in mysticism and superstition. And they’ll also celebrate Halloween.

The silly ritual to which I’m referring, of course, is our semiannual tradition of changing the clocks to accommodate daylight saving time (DST) — an onerous state time mandate detrimental to public health and safety, manipulated by corporatists, supported by a handful of childless insomniac socialites, and based on so-called “science” debunked decades ago. Indeed, even the name “daylight saving time” is a lie: The ritual merely shifts time; it doesn’t save anything — except, perhaps, a few jobs on K Street and in the Florida leisure industry.

And so, my friends, it’s time I provided a full-throated explanation of why DST should be eliminated, before it’s too late.

The other side is less passionate, probably because they aren’t writing their defense of daylight savings at 5 a.m., and they have been winning this debate thanks to the status quo unfair advantage.

Now joining the fight is the Kite and Key media company with a video that describes the practice of daylight savings as “mildly psychotic.” Here it is.

As they note at the end of the video:

Having one year-round standard would be easier for society, better for our health, and, most importantly . . . would really stick it to Coldplay.

White House

Meltdowns, Etc., Cont’d

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In response to Re: Meltdowns, Etc.

Charlie writes: “Now, those people are chanting euphemisms and the people who were excusing the anti-Trump stuff are clucking about decorum. Evidently, your position is that it almost always matters, and mine is that it almost never matters.”

Again, I think what matters is not that the president is being mocked but that people attending some public event — as opposed to people attending a political rally or taking in the work of some politically minded comedian or writer — are being forcibly conscripted into this pathetic tribal psychodrama.

Chanting mobs are, in my view, pretty much always a bad thing. If you find yourself in a crowd of people who are all facing the same direction and chanting the same thing, you are at church — in this case, a church for people who worship their own hatred and make an idol out of their resentments.

I do remember — because it was not long ago! — when conservatives professed to care a great deal about the propriety of behavior at sporting events and such, and about the desirability of keeping political displays out of such settings. I suspect Colin Kaepernick remembers that, too.

Rather than reducing the presidency and putting it in its place, this grunting imbecility further entrenches the presidency as central to our public life — making the presidency inescapable. I don’t think an inescapable presidency is what you have in mind, but that is precisely what this kind of thing contributes to.

Politics & Policy

Re: Meltdowns, Etc.

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The Signing of The Declaration of Independence, c. 1873, by Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq. (Public domain/Wikimedia)

In response to Meltdowns, Etc.

Kevin, you write:

Charlie, here’s something I don’t write very often: You could not be more wrong about this. You could not be more wrong if you were trying to be wrong.

The “F*** Joe Biden” stuff matters, not because the president is a special magical person, but because of what it says about us — as a people, generally, and as conservatives in particular. It matters a hell of a lot more what kind of people we are than whether the top tax rate is 39 percent or 37.5 percent.

In my defense, if I’m wrong not to care when people are extremely rude about the president, I’ve been wrong for most of my life.

Clearly, we differ on what this stuff “says about us — as a people, generally.” As you and I both agree, our culture has an unfortunate tendency to idolize and fetishize the chief executive, and, irrespective of the chief executive in question, when I see stuff like this, I think it “says about us” that, at some level, we understand that we shouldn’t. As Rich notes, we have done this in one form or another throughout our history — hell, the Founders did it to each other — and I am pleased that we have. Human history is packed full of nations in which the people were unable or unwilling to berate their leaders. To lament that Americans often go a touch far in the other direction is, in my view, to miss the broader point.

(I think it’s amusing that you and I are on opposite sides of this, but were also on opposite sides of whether Cliven Bundy’s behavior was acceptable. Me: No. You: Yes.)

You argue later on that my description of the “meltdown” reflects “a familiar rhetorical strategies for avoiding moral responsibility, which you’d normally see as such when coming from someone else.” But this is wrong. First, I don’t bear — or excuse — any “moral responsibility” here, because I don’t think there’s anything immoral about being beastly to the president. Second, I think that “meltdown” is an entirely appropriate word to use to describe people who are trying to break into aircraft cockpits, who are invoking ISIS as a comparison point, and who are pretending in major newspapers that a needling chant somehow pollutes our genuine political differences. Third, the reason I used the word “needless” to describe the reaction is that it is . . . well, needless. Almost everyone I called out has changed their position on this in the last year. During the Trump years, MAGA types gave us endless rounds of “can you believe what they said about the president?!” Now, those people are chanting euphemisms and the people who were excusing the anti-Trump stuff are clucking about decorum.

Evidently, your position is that it almost always matters, and mine is that it almost never matters. That may make me wrong, but it doesn’t make me unable to see the counter-argument at hand. It makes me unwilling to agree with it.

Religion

Supreme Court Allows Lawsuit against Catholic Hospital over Refused Transgender Hysterectomy

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(renaschild/Getty Images)

Some will recall my writing about the Dignity Health case, in which a Catholic hospital refused to provide a hysterectomy for a transgender patient. The hospital’s reasons did not target transgender patients but were in keeping with the Church’s prohibition against removing healthy organs and surgeries that sterilize patients, absent significant pathology. The refusal would have applied to any patient, not just those requesting transition surgery.

A trial court tossed the suit based on freedom of religion. But California’s higher courts blessed the lawsuit, which claims the hospital discriminated illegally against the patient based on sexual identity.

The hospital petitioned the Supreme Court for a hearing. The request has languished for more than a year, awaiting a decision. Four justices are needed to obtain a hearing but only three — Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito — were willing to take the case. From the Reuters story:

In the California case, the hospital said it does not discriminate against transgender patients, but does not allow its facilities to be used for a certain procedures including abortion, sterilization and euthanasia, which it contends are contrary to Catholic teachings.

The hospital in 2016 had initially scheduled Minton’s hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus – but canceled it after learning the reason Minton wanted it, according to the lawsuit. The hospital let Minton’s physician perform the procedure at a different facility in its system a few days later.

Minton sued in state court, accusing the hospital of violating a California civil rights law that prohibits discrimination by business establishments, including hospitals, based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

After a trial judge ruled against Minton, a California appeals court in 2019 revived the case, rejecting the hospital’s argument that forcing it to perform procedures contrary to its religious beliefs would violate its right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to the free exercise of religion.

This is a potential catastrophe for freedom of religion. Indeed, based on this and other recent religious-liberty refusals, it is obvious to me that the majority of the Court is unwilling to reverse the odious Smith case that badly hobbled free-exercise protections. The last slender thread of such protection is the now acutely threatened Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Bottom line: If the jury returns a seven-figure verdict against Dignity Health — and this being the most woke state in the union, it well could — the verdict will declare open season on Catholic health care for trial lawyers.

In the end, these hospitals may be forced to choose between continuing to serve patients and remaining true to the precepts of the faith. And six members of the Supreme Court appear content to let it happen. That should not be the American way.

Politics & Policy

Meltdowns, Etc.

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President Joe Biden discusses his ‘Build Back Better’ agenda at the White House, August 11, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Charlie, here’s something I don’t write very often: You could not be more wrong about this. You could not be more wrong if you were trying to be wrong.

The “F*** Joe Biden” stuff matters, not because the president is a special magical person, but because of what it says about us — as a people, generally, and as conservatives in particular. It matters a hell of a lot more what kind of people we are than whether the top tax rate is 39 percent or 37.5 percent.

The back half of our magazine is called “Books, Arts, and Manners,” with “manners” there meaning not exactly “etiquette” but the older sense of the word, “manner of living.” Those manners matter. Among other things, they make the difference between citizens and a mob — which is what people chanting profanities and insults in unison are.

The language of both the headline (“meltdown”) and the piece itself (“working themselves into a veritable lather”) are familiar rhetorical strategies for avoiding moral responsibility, which you’d normally see as such when coming from someone else: “What’s the big deal? Why are you so upset? Must have touched a nerve!” Etc.

In truth, this isn’t a “meltdown,” and this isn’t pearl-clutching. Either conservatives stand for public decency and public order — that “well-ordered liberty” we used to talk about — or they don’t.

And, if they don’t, then what’s the use of them?

World

New U.K. Foreign Secretary Reportedly Views Beijing’s Uyghur Crackdown as ‘Genocide’

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Umer Jan, 12, takes part in a rally to encourage Canada and other countries as they consider labeling China’s treatment of its Uyghur population and Muslim minorities as genocide, outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., February 19, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

In April, the U.K. House of Commons voted to recognize Beijing’s atrocities against Uyghurs as “genocide,” getting out in front of the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. With a recent cabinet reshuffle, however, the U.K. government itself seems poised to officially treat the Chinese Communist Party’s human-rights abuses as such.

Liz Truss, the country’s new foreign secretary, has accused China of genocide in closed-door discussions, according to the Times of London. Truss ascended to the post in September, after serving as Johnson’s trade secretary.

The Times reports:

Liz Truss has privately accused China of committing genocide in a marked change from her predecessor as foreign secretary, The Times has been told.

Dominic Raab stopped short of describing China’s persecution of the Uighur Muslims as genocide when he was foreign secretary, insisting the international community had to be “careful” before making such claims.

Truss is seen as more hawkish on China than both Raab and Boris Johnson and let her views be known in a meeting with Caroline Wilson, the UK ambassador to China.

Truss’s forward-leaning stance within the British government is all the more important because Johnson’s own views leave room for continued engagement with Beijing as normal. Last month, he said, “I’m not going to tell you the UK government is going to pitchfork away every overture from China.” He did, however, urge caution when it comes to approving Chinese investments in critical infrastructure.

If the U.K. government were to label the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Xinjiang genocide, it would be the second government in the world to do so, after the U.S. State Department issued a genocide determination in January.

In addition to the U.K. House of Commons, legislative bodies in the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, and the Czech Republic have passed Uyghur genocide-recognition resolutions. The Czech senate’s vote to do that in June is the most recent genocide resolution, and a determination by the U.K. foreign secretary could restore momentum to the worldwide campaign to call Beijing’s uniquely evil campaign against Uyghurs by its true name.

Education

Yes, Virginia, Democrats Want Critical Race Theory in Your Schools

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An anti-critical race theory sign is held at a Loudon County School board meeting in Ashburn, Va., June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

At the core of the defense by Democrats and their pundit class in the controversy over critical race theory and other forms of the same basic ideology in Virginia schools is denial that any such thing has anything to do with public schooling in Virginia. Yet here we are, the night before Election Day, and the Virginia Department of Education’s “EdEquityVA” website is still live, and it is a treasure trove of precisely this sort of thing. There’s a page on “Anti-racism in Education”:

Anti-racism requires acknowledging that racist beliefs and structures are pervasive in education and then actively doing work to tear down those beliefs and structures. Strategic planning around racial equity that does not include systemic analysis of racism helps to maintain systems of oppression…In classroom practice, anti-racist pedagogy acknowledges the importance of racial and cultural identities, honors voices and experiences of people of color, teaches through collaboration and dialogue, examines power and oppression, examines discrimination as systemic, critiques traditions of schooling, and advocates for social action…Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

The page includes numerous suggested reading sources drenched in this kind of rhetoric. Then there’s the “What We Are Reading” page:

Virginia’s #EdEquityVA work is informed by literature, best practice, and research. Below are the resources the Office of Equity and Community Engagement references in the development of our work, as well as texts we recommend:

If you click the Taylor, Gilborn, and Ladson-Billings link, you get this description:

The emergence of Critical Race Theory (CRT) marked a pivotal moment in the history of racial politics within the academy and powerfully influenced the broader conversation about race and racism in the United States and beyond. Comprised of articles by some of most prominent scholars in the field of CRT, this groundbreaking anthology is the first to pull together both the foundational writings and more recent scholarship on the cultural and racial politics of schooling. The collection offers a variety of critical perspectives on race, analyzing the causes, consequences and manifestations of race, racism, and inequity in schooling. Unique to this updated edition are a variety of contributions by key CRT scholars published within the last five years, including an all-new section dedicated to the intersections of race and dis/ability within contemporary schooling. Each section concludes with a set of questions and discussion points to further engage with the issues discussed in the readings. This revised edition of a landmark publication documents the progress to date of the CRT movement and acts to further spur developments in education policy, critical pedagogy, and social justice, making it a crucial resource for students and educators alike.

“What we’re reading,” indeed. This is what the state government of Virginia, under Ralph Northam’s leadership, endorses. This is what Terry McAuliffe wants to continue, all the while denying that it exists. No wonder Virginia parents are noticing.

Politics & Policy

Pro-Life Senators: House Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill Would Fund Elective Abortions

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Senator Joe Manchin (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin has called taxpayer funding of abortion a “red line” issue in any reconciliation bill.

On Monday evening, two pro-life Republican senators, Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma, released a memo highlighting multiple provisions in the House Democrats’ $1.75 trillion bill released last week that would fund abortion.

Daines and Lankford write that the House Democrats’ reconciliation bill: 

  • Mandates abortion funding for the Medicaid coverage gap population in the twelve non-expansion States through Obamacare exchange plans in 2024 and 2025, overriding state laws
  • Provides $30 billion for subsidizing cost-sharing and reinsurance for individual market health coverage without any restrictions on funding abortions or plans that cover abortions
  • Massively expands taxpayer funding for Obamacare exchange plans that cover abortions
  • Provides more than $18 billion in health-related grants without any limits on funding abortions 

You can read the their full memo on abortion-funding provisions in the reconciliation bill here.

As I reported on Friday, the reconciliation bill released by House Democrats’ last week drops the most glaring provision that would provide taxpayer-funding of abortion — a new “Medicaid-like” program that lacks the Hyde amendment. But other abortion-funding provisions remain in the bill: 

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.

House Democrats are expected to release the next version of their reconciliation bill on Wednesday when the Rules Committee meets.

Law & the Courts

What Kind of Conservative Are You?

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Here is a test you can self-administer.

There is no doubt at all about how any of the left-wing activist justices on the Supreme Court would vote on Texas’s abortion law. It doesn’t matter what arguments are made, what the statute says, or what the Constitution says — they are going to vote the way abortion advocates want them to vote.

There is some question about how the originalists on the Court would vote.

Are you:

  1. the kind of conservative who thinks that speaks well of the originalist justices?
  2. the kind of conservative who hates that about the originalist justices?

I’m the former. I suspect I am in the minority.

Politics & Policy

Joe Biden and the Deal That Wasn’t

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

In an earlier post, I noted how Senator Joe Manchin had raised severe concerns about the Build Back Better framework that, were he to hold firm, could mean its death knell. But given the extent of Manchin’s reservations, it raises another question: What the heck was Joe Biden talking about last week?

Before leaving for Rome, the White House released a framework that officials tried to present as some sort of breakthrough in ongoing Congressional negotiations. While Biden did not make the explicit claim that he had secured 51 votes in the Senate, the heavy impression was that there was more or less agreement on the broad strokes and they were just ironing out a few minor details.

“After hearing input from all sides and negotiating in good faith with Senators Manchin and Sinema, Congressional Leadership, and a broad swath of Members of Congress, President Biden is announcing a framework for the Build Back Better Act,” the White House release claimed. “President Biden is confident this is a framework that can pass both houses of Congress, and he looks forward to signing it into law. He calls on Congress to take up this historic bill – in addition to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – as quickly as possible.”

Biden himself spoke as if he were taking a victory lap at the end of marathon talks.

“I want to thank my colleagues in the Congress for their leadership,” he said from the East Room. “We’ve spent hours and hours and hours over months and months working on this. No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is.  That’s consensus.  And that’s what I ran on.”

He went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats in what was supposed to be a speech followed by a vote passing his infrastructure bill.

Instead, Biden took off to Rome and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed the vote yet again. Still, Democrats gave the impression that they were just working on a few odds and ends and expected to vote Tuesday. Progressives claimed they were all in and just waiting for Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema to publicly commit to the framework.

But now that Manchin has said that the framework is full of “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” to hide the true cost of the proposal, last week’s theatrics look even more absurd.

Biden had met with Manchin and Sinema a number of times in the lead up to the framework announcement. Either Manchin has changed his tune dramatically, or what we got from Biden last week was one giant bluff to make it appear that there was some progress on the framework so that progressives would support his $550 billion infrastructure bill so he could have some accomplishment to brag about.

At this point, it’s unclear why anybody would trust any announced deal that is not simultaneously accompanied by an explicit statement of support from Manchin and Sinema.

Politics & Policy

Is Ted Cruz a National Conservative?

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) questions former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who is President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 23, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo /Pool via Reuters)

Orlando, Fla. — Out of the six keynote speakers at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Fla., this week — Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Glenn Loury, Peter Thiel, and J. D. Vance — the junior senator from Texas seems possibly the most out of place. Hawley has been a champion of the kind of nationalist conservatism that this conference is dedicated to advancing since well before he was elected to the Senate, co-authoring a book on Teddy Roosevelt in 2008. Rubio was once a darling of the reform-conservative movement, championing a number of pro-family initiatives that broke with traditional GOP orthodoxy. Loury is a prominent critic of critical race theory and other campus ideologies that preoccupy national conservatives. Thiel is the nationalist movement’s foremost financial backer. Vance is his foremost political protégé. But it’s not entirely clear why Cruz, a Tea Party–backed candidate who never appeared particularly interested in the conference’s brand of right-wing politics, is here.

Cruz may be a recent convert. People have genuine, good-faith changes of heart all the time. My own politics have shifted significantly in recent years — that is often a normal, rational response to being exposed to new information and circumstances. But the senator’s speech, which was largely a rerun of the old conservative hits — a jab at Jimmy Carter, quotes from Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech, and a reminder that Democrats were the slave-owning party and thus “the real racists” — left me with more questions than answers. 

The stated purpose of the National Conservatism Conference is to forge a new way forward for the American Right. “This conference,” as Marco Rubio said during his virtual address this morning, “is about defining what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century. Because yesterday is over; it’s never going to return. Our challenge now is to take the eternal principles of the past and apply them to the challenges of the present to chart the right course for our country.” In other words, the shared goal of the event is to build a distinctly different kind of conservatism from the one that has dominated in recent decades. 

It’s not entirely clear that Cruz understands that project. Nothing about the substance of his speech pointed to anything that different from the kind of conservatism he ran on in 2012. The definition of nationalist populism he offered in his address was “unapologetically defending the United States of America” and “standing with working men and women” — both noble goals, but far too vague to actually distinguish this ostensibly new political doctrine from anything that existed in the past. Reagan saw himself as unapologetically defending the United States of America and standing with its working men and women, too; so did both Bushes. How, exactly, is Cruz’s approach different from his predecessors’? 

Cruz offered slightly more detail when it came to the question of what nationalism and populism are not, but those details did not inspire much more confidence in his grasp of the conference that he was addressing. Nationalism is not “a recipe for right-wing big government,” “protectionism,” or “isolationism,” he argued. But regardless of what one thinks of national conservatism’s policy prescriptions on the merits, the movement’s core critiques of mainstream conservatism are that the Right is too afraid of wielding government power, too dogmatically committed to free trade, and too adventurist in its foreign policy. “Big government,” “protectionism,” and “isolationism” might not always be the best descriptions of those impulses, but neither is it accurate to say that the New Right is definitively not those things.

If it is not different on trade, foreign policy, or the role of government, then what makes Cruz’s national conservatism different from, say, his 2012-era Tea Party conservatism? The conversations I’ve had with a number of conference attendees throughout the day suggest I am not the only one asking this question. Save for the specific details — references to critical race theory, the coronavirus, and so on — very little in his remarks would have been out of place in a Republican stump speech from a decade ago. There’s nothing wrong with that on its face — neither Cruz nor anyone else is obligated to agree with the nationalist policy prescriptions on much of anything. Plenty of smart conservatives are critical of the ideas being presented at this conference. The difference is that most of them aren’t simultaneously giving keynote addresses.

How Manchin’s Attack on ‘Budget Gimmicks’ Could Be Death Knell for Biden Agenda

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters as he departs the U.S. Capitol after a vote in the Senate, June 10, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Senator Joe Manchin just effectively blew up any hopes Democrats had of passing President Biden’s domestic agenda before a potential Glenn Younkgin victory on Tuesday. But it was a point Manchin made about the use of “budget gimmicks” by fellow Democrats that could doom the Biden agenda.

Manchin reiterated his concerns about “exploding inflation,” the debt, the potential for rising interest rates, and the creation of new social spending programs. “How can I in good conscience vote for a bill that proposes massive expansions of social programs when vital programs like Social Security and Medicare face insolvency and benefits could start

Politics & Policy

Among the National Conservatives

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A U.S. flag is seen at Omaha Beach, near the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as France prepares to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, in Colleville sur Mer, France, June 4, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

The National Conservatism Conference is not your father’s right-wing intellectual gathering. The three-day event’s lineup, which includes keynote lectures from three sitting U.S. senators, one Senate hopeful, and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, features the usual bookish lectures (“The Moral and Political Foundations of the Market Order,” “Pragmatic Empiricism and the American Founding”) and appearances by respectable professors (such as Joshua Mitchell, Carol Swain, Jason D. Hill) from conventional colleges (in their case: Georgetown, Vanderbilt, DePaul) alongside a smattering of in-group Internet references (“The Laptop from Hell and the New Censorship Regime”), obscure Twitter-speak (“Trads, Cads, and Radfems”), and unorthodox figures who would be out of place in the conservative intelligentsia’s traditional institutions. Speakers include the owner of the popular Christian comedy website The Babylon Bee, a Hollywood film director, multiple tech entrepreneurs, and even the president of a major labor union.

Who are the national conservatives? According to them, they’re the future of the conservative movement. If attendance numbers are any indication, their brand of conservatism is on the rise. Since the conference was first held in 2019 — its planned 2020 sequel was skipped because of COVID — the nationalist Right has continued to gain momentum, particularly with young, intellectually oriented conservatives. This year’s conference, held at the Hilton in Orlando, Fla., is buzzing with energy — and an unusually large number of attendees are under the age of 30. 

David Brooks, oddly enough, is here. So is National Review’s Rich Lowry, and any number of other name-brand conservative writers, activists, think-tank and foundation presidents, and public intellectuals — not to mention Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and J.D. Vance. (Marco Rubio was supposed to speak this morning, but his flight was delayed.) But the Right isn’t alone in taking notice of this intellectual cohort: The woman at the press-pass table tells me that all of the major mainstream-media outlets — the New York Times, Bloomberg, Variety, Vanity Fair, and so on — have sent journalists to cover the conference this year. Many of these reporters, sitting in the press quarters with me, look distinctly uncomfortable — as if, on a casual trip to the zoo, they had suddenly found themselves on the animal’s side of the cage. But they are here because they need to be. The national conservatives are on the rise, and America’s elite institutions have started to notice.

There’s a reason that this year’s National Conservatism Conference is permeated by a sense of special gravity. In the wake of Donald Trump’s exit from the White House, the most consequential debate within the conservative movement is over the degree to which Trumpism — also referred to at varying intervals as nationalism, populism, the “New Right,” and any number of other political labels — is the GOP’s future. What that means, both in theory and in practice, is still somewhat nebulous. As with any fledgling political movement, Trumpism remains a vague and occasionally self-contradictory doctrine. Ironing that out is the central objective of conferences like this one.  

That’s why there is such palpable excitement here at the Hilton Orlando. There is a sense that a whole new world of possibilities has opened up. Conference-goers are united by a broad feeling that something has gone horribly wrong in America, and in the West more broadly, over the course of the last few decades — a conviction that is particularly palpable among the mass of my young peers who have flown in from around the country to hear their intellectual heroes speak. But for many of these young right-wingers, national conservatism feels like an opportunity — finally — to do something about it. 

Elections

McAuliffe Was Five Points Ahead of Youngkin When Early Voting Started in Virginia

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Republican Glenn Youngkin (left) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe (right) on the campaign trail for the Virginia governorship. (Evelyn Hockstein and Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

While all signs point to Glenn Youngkin as the one with momentum in the Virginia governor’s race, the one thing that continues to give me pause in predicting he’ll win is the wildcard of early voting.

Over 1.1 million early votes were cast — that represents nearly 44 percent of the total number of votes cast in the 2017 gubernatorial election. While overall turnout could be higher this year, it’s clear that a significant portion of the electorate has already voted.

Even though polls show the race close — some with Youngkin having the edge — when early voting began on September 17, Terry McAuliffe was up five points in the RealClearPolitics average. Back then, it was a totally different race. The infamous McAuliffe debate line, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” didn’t come until September 28. It wasn’t until last week that Youngkin started to overtake McAuliffe in some polls.

It’s impossible to know whom the early votes went to. The firm TargetSmart estimates that 53 percent of early voters were Democrats, 31 percent were Republicans, and 16 percent were unaffiliated. If the partisan voting preferences followed a recent Washington Post–Schar School poll that showed McAuliffe up one point, that would imply that McAuliffe enters Tuesday with about a 58 percent to 41 percent lead among the universe of early voters.

Even if this very back of the envelope calculation were accurate, however, it may not ultimately matter. Democrats tend to like voting early more than Republicans and it’s possible that McAuliffe’s early voting operation merely turned out his most dedicated voters and thus will cannibalize his Election Day totals.

So, while we don’t have enough information to say for sure, at a minimum, the size of the early vote should give prognosticators pause as it is weighed against the growing signals that the race has moved in Youngkin’s direction.

Immigration

Hey, Whatever Happened to That Investigation of Those Border Patrol Agents?

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A U.S. Border Patrol officer grabs the shirt of a migrant trying to return to the United States along the Rio Grande River after having crossed from the U.S. into Mexico to buy food, seen from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, September 19, 2021. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

President Biden, discussing a purported image of U.S. Border Patrol officials allegedly whipping Haitian migrants, September 24:

It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay. They will be — an investigation is underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment. But beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous; it’s wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world.

On September 21, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas appeared on Joy Reid’s program on MSNBC and declared that, “We need this resolved swiftly. I anticipate that the results of the investigation will be available by the end of next week and I’ve committed to making the results public.”

The next day, Mayorkas told Congress the investigation would be completed within days.

Mayorkas told the House Homeland Security Committee that an undisclosed number of agents had been placed on administrative duty as investigators examine confrontations in which some mounted agents appeared to use their reins as whips against migrants who have been surging into Del Rio, Texas.

“I want to assure you that we are addressing this with tremendous speed and tremendous force,” Mayorkas said. “The facts will drive the action we take.”

“It will be completed in days – not weeks,” he added.

Today is November 1. In the past five weeks or so, the Department of Homeland Security has not released any results of their investigation. DHS has not resolved the investigation swiftly, nor have they made the results public, nor have they provided any updates on the status of the investigation. The lack of information from DHS makes sense if, as the photographer states, there was no whipping of the migrants, and that the entire controversy stemmed from people misinterpreting what was happening in a photograph. However, if that is the case, DHS has a responsibility to correct the record and clear the names of the Border Patrol agents who are falsely accused of cruel and criminal behavior. The president of the United States would also want to apologize for his role in spreading a false accusation.

But I would not hold my breath waiting for that apology.

NR Webathon

‘Now More Than Ever’

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National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. (National Review)

With just hours to go in National Review’s fall webathon, readers like you pushed us past $150,000. Thank you, friends, thank you.

These funds will go towards supporting the most essential, fearless conservative journalism in America. For 66 years, NR has pointed the way towards a better culture, a better society, and a better politics.

If you haven’t yet contributed, I invite you to join the hundreds of other readers just like you who have helped us continue the long fight towards advancing conservatism in America.

  • One anonymous reader sent in $500, adding, “This contribution is given to honor Jim Geraghty. My life has been enriched for over forty years by learning from the pages of National Review. Jim Geraghty’s daily updates on the coronavirus have been beyond valuable: this political writer, writing for a political audience, has done the entire world a service in his relentless pursuit and synthesis of the science and other facts about the pandemic.”

We couldn’t agree more about Jim’s groundbreaking work covering the pandemic these last 18 months. As our friend Peter Travers has said, Jim deserves a Pulitzer Prize for his analysis of the  “lab leak” theory, among his many other reports on the virus.

  • Joanne writes. “Now more than ever, we need National Review for facts and sane commentary.”

Thank you, Joanne. We appreciate your support and encouragement.

  • Michael puts a 50 dollar note into the hat and writes, “ATHWART, MY FRIENDS! ATHWART!”

Michael, we are very grateful for the generosity of our readers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that without the readers, subscribers, and contributors just like you, we couldn’t have kept this ship afloat for 66 years.

Will you help us push forward? Put wind in our sails by subscribing to NRPlus and contributing to the final hours of National Review’s fall webathon.

Politics & Policy

Correct — Edexit Is a ‘Crisis’ We Must Not Let Go to Waste

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Writing for Law & Liberty, Harvard history professor James Hankins provides much hopeful news about the weakening grip of the K-12 education establishment on American families.

Here’s a slice: “Not only have parents discovered that getting a high-quality private education for their children is much less expensive than they had imagined. They are also discovering schools that teach a traditional curriculum much more in harmony with their own values. Some parents who themselves began in high school to love great art, literature and music don’t want their own children to miss out on these experiences. Yet now they have learned that the public schools no longer teach such things, or are banning classics once seen as vital to a liberal curriculum and a tolerant society.”

We have a tremendous opportunity here to turn the modest “edexit” into a stampede. Let’s do it.

Economy & Business

Now More Than 100 Container Ships Are Waiting outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

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Shipping containers sit on the dock at a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach-Port in Los Angeles, Calif., April 7, 2021. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Reuters, October 7: “More than 60 container ships carrying clothing, furniture and electronics worth billions of dollars are stuck outside Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals, waiting to unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Pre-pandemic, it was unusual for more than one ship to be in the waiting lane at the No. 1 U.S. port complex, which handles more than half of all American imports.”

President Biden, October 13:

I know you’re hearing a lot about something called “supply chains” and how hard it is to get a range of things from a toaster to sneakers to a bicycle to bedroom furniture. . . .

After weeks of negotiation and working with my team and with the major union and retailers and freight movers, the Ports of Los Angeles — the Port of Los Angeles announced today that it’s going to be — begin operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This follows the Port of Long Beach’s commitment to 24/7 that it announced just weeks ago. . . .

By increasing the number of late-night hours of operation and opening up for less-crowded hours when the goods can move faster, today’s announcement has the potential to be a gamechanger. . . . The commitments being made today are a sign of major progress in moving goods from manufacturers to a store or to your front door.

The Associated Press: “As of Friday, there were 153 ships at anchor, berthed or “loitering” — cruising while awaiting dock space — and more than 100 of those were container ships, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which monitors port vessel traffic. Ships anchored at the complex have well over a half-million containers on board, officials said. They hold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of toys, electronics, clothing and furniture.”

From “more than 60” container ships waiting offshore to “more than 100” in a three-week span? So much for 24/7 operations being a “gamechanger.”

In other news, this morning the Secretary of Transportation urged his Twitter followers to think about how “free preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds would change things for your family.”

Politics & Policy

Did Southwest Pilot Say ‘Let’s Go Braves’?

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Grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft at Victorville Airport in Victorville, Calif., March 26, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Did the Southwest pilot who has inspired this week’s firestorm actually say “Let’s go Brandon”? Probably. But . . . maybe not. Have a listen here. It’s not at all clear.

It’s hard to tell because, for some reason, the recording cuts off at the key moment. But it certainly seems possible that the pilot actually said “Let’s go Braves” (a reference to the Atlanta Braves baseball team, which is currently playing the Houston Astros in the World Series); that the ridiculous AP reporter on the plane who just happened to be writing about the phrase “Let’s go Brandon” heard what she expected to hear; and that the passengers who apparently “gasped” did so because, being from Houston, from which city the plane was leaving, they’re Astros fans.

UPDATE: It seems that the New York Post story I linked to is conflating two “Let’s go Brandon” sightings — both on Southwest. The story the Post is referring to is from October 29, but the audio the Post features to support it is actually from October 12, well before the story it’s referring to actually happened. As such, while the pilot in the Post‘s audio could well be saying “Let’s go Braves,” the sequence of events I suggested above couldn’t have happened.

Politics & Policy

Can Either Party Set Priorities?

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President Joe Biden meets virtually with governors, mayors, and other state and local elected officials, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 11, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Both the process and the substance of the legislative effort the Democrats are now pursuing suggest they have lost the capacity to rank their aims and set priorities. What particular goal could be attributed to the Build Back Better framework they are advancing? If they were to describe what it offers the American public, where would they start? If to govern is to choose, they are failing to govern.

But that failure doesn’t mean their legislative efforts won’t bear fruit. I actually think that last week’s embarrassing fiasco brought the Democrats significantly closer to passing their reconciliation bill, even if their inability to prioritize will mean that bill won’t amount to much.

It was still an embarrassing fiasco: Speaker Pelosi’s failed attempt to manufacture urgency left her looking weak. President Biden’s insistence that his presidency was on the line, only to have senators Manchin and Sinema decline to endorse his reconciliation framework and House progressives decline to vote for the infrastructure bill left him looking foolish. The whole exercise left everybody frustrated.

So why do I think it brought the Democrats closer to enacting their agenda? Because the response of House progressives to the dramatically pared down reconciliation framework that the White House proposed suggests they now have no particular policy objectives, but only procedural objectives. The bill would spend about half of what they have insisted they want, removes (on the basis of guesses about what two senators want) many of the policies progressives had championed, and amounts to a patchwork of mostly temporary, strikingly under-developed, and largely unworkable schemes. It’s full of the sort of stuff that the writers of The West Wing always tried to end sentences with, but devoid of the sort of stuff that the writers of legislation normally try to do. It spends enough to let Republicans attack it next year without yielding enough concrete benefits that voters might appreciate, and it wouldn’t be easy to say what question it’s trying to answer.

But House progressives generally took this framework as a win. There was some carping about the absence of ambitious immigration provisions, which were never a realistic possibility in the Senate. But otherwise their main complaint was that it wasn’t clear if senators Sinema and Manchin supported this new framework.

That suggests that what House progressives now want is the same as what senators Sinema and Manchin want: namely, a version of the Build Back Better bill that senators Sinema and Manchin can support, almost regardless of what it contains. The progressives have declared their willingness to surrender, and are now devoting their energies to getting Sinema and Manchin to define the terms of that surrender. That seems like an achievable project even for the narrowest congressional majority in American history. It could still fail. But passage of something they can call Build Back Better, alongside the infrastructure bill that already got through the Senate, seems more likely, not less, in the wake of what last week revealed.

The trouble for Democrats, though, is that the failure to prioritize substantive policy ambitions has characterized not only the process but also the substance of putting the reconciliation bill together. The more ambitious, more progressive earlier versions of Build Back Better were always a case study in indecision. Rather than outline one or two serious national problems that they proposed to take on, the Democrats projected an amount of money to spend, and then stuffed everything that every Democratic interest group desired into one package until they reached that number. They never gave the public any sense of what mattered to them. And the internal debates about the scope and contents of the package almost all involved arguments about its overall size — about how much to spend and tax rather than what to do or how to do it.

This is just one example of a broader failure to prioritize that is endemic to our politics now. Neither party can quite explain what it wants, except to keep the other party from power. That problem is vastly overdetermined, but three reasons for it do stand out among the rest.

One reason is the peculiar inability of the administration to articulate domestic priorities. What matters most to the president? What does he hope to achieve? What are his cabinet secretaries working on? Which way does he want his divided party and this divided country to move?

Throughout his career, Joe Biden has tried to position himself near the center of the Democratic coalition and be a kind of generic Democrat. This is not a bad strategy for a senator with a safe seat, and it obviously worked for him. But it’s not as good a strategy for a president with an internally divided party. A president’s strength as an executive can often be measured by whether his mid-level political appointees know what he would do in their place — whether an assistant secretary in one department or another can say “If the president had my job, I know how he would make the decision I’m now facing.” This was obviously impossible on most issues in the Trump era, since President Trump’s implacable ignorance, pathological amorality, and blinding narcissism made him reactive and unpredictable. This was part of why he was such a weak president and achieved so little that will endure. But it is also practically impossible in the Biden era, because President Biden has generally refused to identify himself with any side of any dispute within the Democratic coalition. Given his history, he would seem to represent the more moderate wing of the party, but that’s not really evident in anything his administration has done, or any role he has played in any legislative process. It’s hard to say what he wants, so he isn’t helping his party tell the public what it wants either. This was painfully evident last week when Speaker Pelosi told her members that Biden’s presidency depended on their voting for the reconciliation bill immediately and then Biden himself declined to embrace that approach and tried to put himself between the moderates and progressives.

A second reason, related to the first, has more to do with Congress. The habits of polarization, which have evolved over the past generation in Washington, involve party leaders in Congress asserting themselves rather than party factions negotiating. This helps the parties confront one another more starkly, but it doesn’t help the parties negotiate internal differences. Leaders in this polarized era want to mask and submerge internal divisions, rather than to work them out, and that makes bargaining within each party pretty difficult, as both parties have learned when they have held power. The Democrats tend to respond to this problem by proposing to do everything at once — stuffing every idea they’ve ever had into one big bill. Republicans tend to respond to the same problem by proposing to do nothing — just simply nothing whatsoever. That is basically what Republicans ran on in 2020, for instance. Voters tend not to be impressed by either strategy. And this problem will only become more serious as the internal differences within the parties grow.

A third and deeper source of the bipartisan failure to prioritize in our time suggests just why those divisions will grow. It has to do with the gradual transformation of the electoral coalitions of the two parties, which has left both increasingly baffled by the nature of the internal debates they confront. Both parties are changing as the American elite is changing, and a lot of their internal fractures look like tensions between their past and their future. The Democrats are gradually taking the shape of something like a fun-house mirror version of the Eisenhower coalition — upscale whites plus many black voters. (Obviously the black vote was much more divided at mid-century than now, and it was also much more suppressed by Southern racism, but those were key elements of the self-understanding of Eisenhower’s coalition.) Republicans are gradually taking the shape of a fun-house mirror version of the FDR coalition — blue-collar whites and some blue-collar ethnic minorities who will eventually be considered white. (The latter described some ethnic European Catholic minorities for FDR, it describes some Hispanic voters for today’s GOP). Both analogies are lacking, to be sure, but they suggest something about the general course of things. This marks a significant change for both parties, and they are gradually going to have to change what they offer voters, particularly on economic issues, in order to make this work.

This is not to suggest that the Democrats will become a right-wing party or that Republicans will become progressives. History doesn’t repeat, it just rhymes. Republicans, if they can figure their way through this quandary, will remain a socially conservative party and a broadly market-friendly party, but one that tries to offer working-class voters greater economic stability alongside material help in meaningfully entering markets as consumers. The reform-conservative agenda offered a first stab at this in the 2010s, and it also focused on what I would expect will be the most potent economic message of the next few years: reducing the cost of living for working families. For all the huffing and puffing that has filled the years since, I do think that still remains the obvious framework for the future of the GOP.

The Democrats’ emerging electoral coalition, meanwhile, gives them a lot of room to remain socially liberal but it argues for a less populist economic framework (except for those forms of pseudo-populism that actually appeal to elite white voters, like forgiving student loans and the like), a more pro-business stance on taxes and regulation, and more emphasis on the elements of progressivism that speak to upscale voters — especially the technocratic managerialism.

Neither of these is really a revolutionary transformation of either party. The Democrats would remain the party of the Left and the GOP the party of the Right. But the changes involved would require a re-prioritization, and that’s what we’re seeing lots of trouble with now.

One fascinating illustration of this on the Left involves the differences between senators Manchin and Sinema themselves. In essence Joe Manchin is what moderate Democrats used to be, and Kyrsten Sinema is what moderate Democrats are going to be. In a recent profile of Sinema, the Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim and Ashley Parker gestured toward this dynamic when they noted with perplexity that, “While Sinema embraces the party’s platform on climate, she — to most Democrats — remains stubbornly conservative on corporate and individual tax rates, while Manchin has effectively been the reverse.” The same could be said about a lot of issues. Although they are both uncomfortable with the BBB agenda, Manchin and Sinema are very different sorts of moderates, and the difference is one important reason why prioritizing has been difficult for the Democrats.

These changing party coalitions have left both parties a little perplexed, and as a result also a little resistant to normal electoral pressures. Both refuse to learn from election losses, and so to find ways to adjust to changing voter demands. The Democrats narrowly lost a winnable election in 2016 and rushed to attribute the loss to Russian intelligence operations, misinformation on Facebook, and the like — forces that ranged from imaginary to marginal. Republicans just as narrowly lost a winnable election in 2020 and rushed to attribute that loss to some kind of massive conspiracy of fraud — essentially a paranoid delusion. There is obviously a lot more at work in both cases, but both parties are just not sufficiently curious about the reasons for the public’s intense distaste for them.

Republicans are on the whole in worse shape in this respect — their escapism is more deranged and more dangerous. But the more energetic portion of their coalition is nonetheless pushing Republicans in the direction of the middle of the electorate, while the Democrats’ activists are pushing the party away from the middle. Republicans therefore seem better situated to win elections and govern over the coming decade. But to make the most of the opportunity they will need to not just leave behind the psychoses of the cult of Trump (which will be hard enough) but also to prioritize internally in ways that can enable the party to offer something to its voters and to winnable voters in the middle.

The Democrats don’t have the same kind of mass psychological breakdown to overcome, but their political challenge is more daunting. They have no functional mechanisms for distinguishing good from bad ideas, and their elites are in the grip of a cultural reign of terror the forces them into saying and doing some really strange and damaging things. A party of “birthing persons” and apple pie isn’t going to win the middle of the country.

But their greatest challenge may be more mundane than that. The key economic-policy battleground of the immediate future is likely to be the challenge of rising living costs, and if the BBB legislation is any sign, Democrats are not well equipped to fight on that front. They remain committed to addressing high costs through a combination of subsidizing demand and restricting supply. This is essentially the left’s approach to health care, higher education, housing, and now (in this new bill) child-care. Increased demand and reduced supply is, broadly speaking, a recipe for higher prices and therefore higher costs. If the new swing voters are suburban parents, a program that risks drastic increases in child-care costs is a way to lose the future. If Republicans are prepared to respond, they may find themselves with an extraordinary opportunity.

But it’s far from clear if Republicans can be prepared. The failure to prioritize is a thoroughly bipartisan problem now. The first party to recognize it and find a way to overcome it — the first party to recover its ability to engage in traditional politics — could own the next few years.

Why Are We Shutting Down Firehouses over the Vaccine Mandate?

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Firefighters from the Woodbridge Fire Department rest in front of a fire truck as the Caldor Fire burns near Strawberry, Calif., September 1, 2021. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)

Does it make sense to put firefighters on unpaid leave if they refuse to get vaccinated? Does it make sense to fire them?

Does it make sense to put firefighters on unpaid leave or fire them if they refuse to get vaccinated, if they have had COVID-19 in the past year and have natural immunity?

Does it make sense to shut down firehouses if an insufficient number of firefighters are willing to get vaccinated?

The FDNY shuttered 26 fire companies citywide on Saturday due to staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to furious elected officials, who ripped the move as

World

Profiles and Pronouns

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Masih Alinejad (Courtesy of Ms. Alinejad)

That woman up there is Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and activist. She came to worldwide attention last summer for an unwelcome reason, to put it mildly: The FBI foiled a kidnapping plot against her — a plot by the Iranian government. Apparently, this was the first attempt by that government to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This is beyond brazen. And Masih Alinejad, obviously, has gotten deeply under the skin of the rulers back in her native country.

Not long ago, I sat down with Masih for an interview, and you can read the resulting piece on the homepage today: here. I would like to tell you something in addition, here on the Corner.

Before writing, I got Masih’s book, her autobiography: The Wind in My Hair (2018). I didn’t intend to read it. She and I had already talked. I wanted the book for reasons of reference, mainly — to look up spellings, dates, etc. I thought I might read the book later on, when I had the time. This particular week, I had no time.

I made the mistake of starting on page 1. Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn’t put the book down. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. I didn’t have time to read the book — but I couldn’t help it, so I did.

As usual, I’m going to publish some reader mail here, but, before I do, I’d like to link to a podcast — my latest Q&A, which is with Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher and writer. We discuss his new book, The Will to See. And various problems around the world. And “life its ownself,” as Dan Jenkins taught us (many of us) to say. BHL is ever interesting.

Okay, some mail. Recently, I interviewed and wrote about Leopoldo López, the Venezuelan democracy leader and former political prisoner. Here is a paragraph toward the end of that piece:

Venezuela, [López] points out, is not only under dictatorship, it is also wracked with hunger. Outright starving. Venezuela is the poorest nation in the Americas — even poorer than Haiti, which has suffered cruelly for generations.

A reader writes,

I had a project in Valencia — about a hundred miles west of Caracas — that had me traveling to Venezuela between 1997 and 2000. I can confirm that Venezuela was a happy and thriving place, certainly by South American standards. To hear that Venezuela is the poorest nation in the Americas, even poorer than Haiti — I can hardly get that to compute.

Talking to me, López said, “The United States continues to be, whether you like it or not, the beacon of light and hope for freedom and democracy in all the world.” Our reader writes,

Whether you like it or not?! I can’t even fathom not liking it — though I recognize that there are many Americans who, in fact, don’t like it. This is another thing I have trouble computing.

I have a lot more mail, on a range of subjects, but you need to get on with your day. Maybe I can publish one note relating to language. In an Impromptus last week, I spoke of the modern habit of saying “they” instead of “he” or “she.” A reader writes,

I work for a technology company which, like most tech companies, is absolutely steeped in wokeness. One of the more irritating manifestations of that attitude is that, in their reports on job-applicant interviews, many of my colleagues will insist on using the pronoun “they” throughout. Oftentimes I will have interviewed the same applicant — an obvious man or woman — yet the reports say “they.” All of these “they”s look ridiculous, referring as they do to a single person. Nails on a chalkboard, to me!

Oh, to me too, baby. Anyway, you will want to meet Masih Alinejad. Today’s piece, again, is here. And the podcast with BHL is here.

Education

Free Speech on Campus Keeps Eroding

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has released a new report on the state of free speech on American college campuses. They’ve done that before, and, this year, the number of schools included was significantly increased. What it showed is hardly surprising — further erosion of support for free speech.

In today’s Martin Center article, Grace Hall writes about the findings.

Here’s a most-disturbing paragraph: “Sixty-six percent of students report some level of acceptance of shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus. This is up 4 percentage points from last year. Twenty-three percent of students say it is acceptable to resort to violence in order to stop a speech on campus, up from 18 percent last year. These numbers are concerning. If students are not able to hear opinions that vary greatly from their own, how will they ever grow or learn to defend their own opinions? Disagreements are a part of everyday life, yet some college students today seem to expect to be treated with kid gloves, to never have to use reason to discuss difficult topics.”

Evidently, the idea that students hear so often from teachers and professors, that “bad” speech should be suppressed, continues to spread.

She correctly concludes, “While some schools do better than others, there is room for improvement at all of them. Colleges and universities in the US are responsible for developing the future Americans of tomorrow.”

World

Canada Pioneers One-Stop Euthanasia/Mortuary Centers

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(kzenon/iStock/Getty Images)

Talk about efficiency. Some enterprising Canadian funeral homes are offering their, er, customers, the option of one-stop death and mortuary services, renting out a room in which to be killed and then quickly prepared for final disposition. From the CBC story (first brought to my attention by Bioedge):

Wanting to meet a growing need, Needham began to offer rooms for rent at his funeral home where MAID procedures could take place.

Since early 2020, Needham has provided rooms for 23 medically assisted deaths. “Family members can be right there with their loved ones,” he said. “I suggest they can make it how they want it, bring some of your favourite music, bring flowers, bring some food or if you like, bring a bottle of wine. This is this person’s last day on Earth. You want to take everything into account and consider as many things as possible.”

Yes, watching grandma get killed, over a glass of Cabernet and some fine cheese. Perfect image for a culture of death:

Darcy Harris is a professor of thanatology —  the study of death and dying — at King’s University College in London, Ont. She also worked as a hospice nurse earlier in her career. She says the trend makes sense.

“Funeral homes are usually very nicely appointed and the staff are service-orientated and are comfortable talking about death,” she said.

Euthanasia changes society at fundamental levels — and not for the better.

Politics & Policy

The ABC/Ipsos Poll Shows That the Democrats’ Spending Bills Are Duds

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(mj0007/Getty Images)

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows that, far from being “wildly popular,” as their apologists keep insisting, the two gargantuan bills that the Democrats are trying to pass through Congress are duds:

The ABC News/Ipsos poll, which was conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, found that a plurality (32%) of Americans think the bills would hurt people like them if they became law, while fewer (25%) think it would help them. Nearly 2 in 10 (18%) think the bills would make no difference, and 24% said they didn’t know.

Even among Democrats alone, fewer than half (47%) think the two bills would help people like them. A quarter of Democrats think the bills would make no difference for people like them and about 2 in 10 (22%) don’t know how they would impact their lives. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans think the bills would hurt people like them, and so do about 3 in 10 (29%) independents.

There’s more:

The American public is evenly divided — 34% to 34% — over whether they believe these bills would help or hurt the U.S. economy if they become law. Very few (6%) think the bills would have no effect on the economy, and a quarter don’t know. Democrats are much more likely to think the legislation would help the economy if enacted than Republicans and independents, 68% compared with 7% and 29%, respectively.

This is what Joe Manchin is violating his own standards for? This is what Democratic moderates in the House and the Senate are choosing to commit suicide over? This is the cause of our months-long Washington drama?

Senator Manchin has confirmed that he is against “additional handouts,” “transfer payments,” and programs that “never go away.” He described America’s fiscal situation as “brutal.” He has stated his opposition to “spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare.” He has contended that inflation is crippling people’s budgets. He has explained that we are reaching the point at which we’ll have no leeway if we face another crisis. And he has insisted that, “at some point, all of us, regardless of party, must ask the simple question — how much is enough?” One would imagine that it would take something pretty remarkable to budge him from this position. But this bill isn’t remarkable. It’s a dud. One has to wonder when — and if — Manchin and his saner colleagues will realize that.

White House

Biden’s Big Illegal-Immigrant Payday

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My latest New York Post column looks at the rich payments that the Biden administration is considering giving to families separated at the border by the Trump administration:

This is a scandalous giveaway that would reward lawbreakers and enrich activist lawyers. There’s nothing wrong with settling these cases, but the size of the payoffs is wildly excessive. $900,000 is more than twice the $400,000 payment made to the families of American servicemen killed in war. It is more than what some families of 9/11 victims received. This, for people who knowingly broke the law…In a lawsuit, if you think you were in the wrong, you should be willing to settle. But a settlement is a compromise. Both sides look at their chances of losing at trial, and they look at what the size of a verdict might be. A good settlement discounts the likely verdict by the odds of losing and the money each side saves by not going to trial…The lawyers who brought the suits, including the ACLU, know full well that there would be challenges proving their case and more challenges proving that their clients suffered nearly a million dollars’ worth of emotional distress resulting from family separations.

Would McAuliffe Require Kids to Get the COVID Shot in Order to Attend Elementary School in Virginia?

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Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe speaks in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has put the issue of COVID mandates front and center during the homestretch of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election. As the Washington Post Fact Checker reported earlier this week, McAuliffe has been exaggerating the threat that COVID poses to children.

But even as McAuliffe hits his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin for opposing statewide mask and vaccine mandates, the Democratic candidate’s campaign won’t say if McAuliffe would require children between the ages of 5 and 11 to get the COVID vaccine in order to attend school in Virginia. 

During the first Virginia gubernatorial debate, McAuliffe said he would “absolutely” require children ages 12 and up to be vaccinated in order to attend school, and he suggested the only reason he wouldn’t support the mandate for kids under 12 is that the FDA hadn’t yet “done the analysis.” 

SUSAN PAGE: So, yes or no, would you add COVID to the list of required vaccines for students in Virginia?

MCAULIFFE: Well, above the age of 12. We don’t know—the FDA has not done the analysis for under 12—so we couldn’t do that. But I want everybody to be vaccinated.

SUSAN PAGE: So for students above the age of 12, would you support adding to COVID vaccine as a requirement—as a state requirement?

MCAULIFFE: Absolutely. You bet I would. I want everybody vaccinated. This COVID is not going away. 

In August, the FDA fully approved the vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older, while continuing to make the vaccine available for children between the ages of 12 and 15 under its “emergency use authorization.” On Friday, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to kids between the ages of 5 and 11, but McAuliffe campaign spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment from National Review on Friday or Saturday about whether McAuliffe would expand a COVID vaccination mandate to include children under 12 in Virginia. 

Youngkin opposes all statewide mask and vaccine mandates, leaving decisions about such requirements up to private businesses and local authorities. 

At an event with President Biden on Wednesday, McAuliffe said: “Last week, two 11-year-olds died of COVID. We cannot let Glenn Youngkin be in charge of our children’s education or their health.” 

For children under the age of 12, the fatality rate for COVID is no greater than the fatality rate for the flu. “In Kids, The Risk Of COVID-19 And The Flu Are Similar — But The Risk Perception Isn’t,” NPR reported in May.

The Lincoln Project Sees Charlottesville as Just Another Political Button to Press

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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)

Just adding an observation to Phil’s point about the Lincoln Project’s asinine, offensive stunt in Virginia yesterday: If you genuinely believe that the violence in Charlottesville was a dark day in recent American history, a stain on the American character, and a hideously ugly and abominable ritual openly celebrating intolerance and hatred . . . you don’t then turn around and adopt that imagery to prove a political point. If you’re willing to dress up as tiki-torch-bearing white nationalists as part of a stunt in the final days of a gubernatorial campaign, then you clearly don’t think that what happened in Charlottesville is so bad that it’s beyond ordinary partisan politics.

You don’t see people dressing up as Nazis on Holocaust Remembrance Day. You don’t see people dressing up like Japanese pilots on Pearl Harbor Day. If something is genuinely important to you, you treat it with respect. You cannot effectively fight white nationalism and hatred by choosing to dress up and pretend to be hateful white nationalists. You’re almost literally becoming that which you profess to oppose.

Something as horrible as what happened in Charlottesville isn’t supposed to be just another convenient political cudgel to use against an opponent you want to defeat. That’s what’s most disturbing about the Lincoln Project’s effort — that out of a raw hunger to ensure Terry McAuliffe’s victory, the Lincoln Project folks wanted people to believe that torch-bearing white nationalists were stomping around Virginia again. They saw fear and division as just another political button to push to get out the vote.

As Michael Wear, head of  faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 election campaign  put it yesterday, “some professional progressives just don’t take their own rhetoric seriously. Charlottesville, January 6…these were dark days in our history. They’re not fodder for your campaigns. If you really believe these things threaten vulnerable people/nation, don’t play games with them.”

Energy & Environment

The Big Climate Summit Welcomed Up to 30,000 Officials Flying in on Planes

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U.S. climate envoy John Kerry speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Do you know why lots of people think the climate change movement is all about posing and politics, and not really about concern about long-term damage to the environment?

The British and Scottish governments, serving as hosts, are expecting up to 30,000 official attendees — who will be meeting indoors, huddling in tense talks, for hours and hours a day, from Sunday to Nov. 12 and potentially longer. It will be the largest summit ever hosted in Britain. Organizers are scrambling to make sure the conference does not morph into a superspreader event.

Up to 30,000 official attendees, in person?

Sure, the representatives from the United Kingdom could go by car or train, and certain European representatives could take the train by going through the Chunnel. But the overwhelming number of government officials in attendance will fly to Scotland. Most of those flights will generate more carbon emissions for each passenger in one flight than the average American generates in two weeks: “Flying from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. There are 56 countries where the average person emits less carbon dioxide in a whole year.” That’s roughly one ton per passenger; the average American generates 20 metric tons of carbon per year.

And of course, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate change, John Kerry, travels by private jet. The average private jet emits as much carbon in one hour as the average American generates in six weeks.

For most of the past two years, almost everyone in the world had to forego in-person meetings and family gatherings to connect via Zoom and Skype and other Internet-based meeting tools. And yet those who proclaim to care the most about the environment just had to all fly to Scotland and back for their big summit? Can none of these people see the contradiction between their words and their actions?

Government officials want citizens to make sacrifices in the name of saving the planet, but they refuse to lead by example.

Politics & Policy

Twitter’s Stunning Silence about Its Suspension of a Canadian Publisher

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(Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Canadian media are picking up the story of Twitter’s weeklong suspension of six accounts that are critical of the Chinese Communist Party’s global influence, as Twitter maintains an assiduous silence about the episode.

In a column yesterday, the National Post’s Sabrina Maddeaux cited my reporting on the suspensions, which targeted accounts operated by Optimum Publishing International, a Canadian publishing house. Optimum’s main account, and profiles it uses to promote five of its books, were suspended starting in early October but later restored.

I initially reached out to a Twitter spokesperson ahead of an October 13 article I wrote about the situation but didn’t receive a response. After reading Maddeaux’s article, I sent an additional email yesterday requesting more information about the suspensions, but that, too, as of Friday afternoon, has gone unanswered.

Although the accounts have been restored for about two weeks now, Twitter still hasn’t explained whether the suspensions had anything to do with Optimum’s work on Chinese political influence or why it took over a week to restore the accounts.

In its communications with Optimum president Dean Baxendale, Twitter accused him of “operating multiple accounts with overlapping use cases, such as identical or similar personas or substantially similar content” in violation of the platform’s rules. But, as Baxendale replied, that is precisely what foreign authoritarian governments such as Russia and China do, conduct that has gone unaddressed by the social-media company.

In a study this past May, Oxford University’s Programme on Democracy and Technology catalogued “a large network of Twitter accounts that demonstrate multiple forms of coordinated inauthentic activity” intended to increase engagement with official Chinese-government accounts. The Oxford researchers noted that Twitter took down accounts they had identified as inauthentic, but the official accounts for Chinese officials and state media at the center of the scheme have still not been suspended.

By contrast, Baxendale’s accounts aren’t inauthentic; they’re clearly marked as accounts promoting specific books. After he told Twitter as much, the company restored the accounts. After all, Twitter itself operates more than one account on its platform, each of which plays a different role in its engagement with the public.

Twitter still hasn’t publicly accounted for the suspensions, its rationale for this flimsy excuse about overlapping accounts, and why it initially said that only a single account could be restored.

It’s hard not to see a double standard at play, where Chinese diplomats promoting disinformation about the origins of COVID and the Uyghur genocide are treated with kid gloves, as Twitter’s content police go after a truly egregious offender: a Canadian publisher trying to get the word out about the Chinese Communist Party’s dangerous conduct.