Immigration

In Trump’s First Two Years, Border Deaths Declined

President Donald Trump answers questions on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 15, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

A tragic photograph of the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, who drowned attempting to cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Texas, renewed outrage about the border crisis. Politicians expressed their indignation at the image while, predictably, blaming the Trump administration.

Several Democratic presidential candidates tweeted their outrage. Senator Kamala Harris, tweeted: “Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying. This is a stain on our moral conscience.” Beto O’Rourke tweeted: “Trump is responsible for these deaths.” Senator Cory Booker, tweeted: “These are the consequences of Donald Trump’s inhumane and immoral immigration policy.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden also tweeted about the tragic photo: “This image is gut-wrenching. The cruelty we’re seeing at our border is unconscionable. History will judge how we respond to the Trump Administration’s treatment of immigrant families & children — we can’t be silent. This isn’t who we are. This is not America.”

But the reality is that deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border decreased after Donald Trump became president, according to data from the United States Border Patrol. During the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years they averaged 291 per year, down from 372 during the Obama/Biden administration and 382 under Bush.

Granted, data also show that President Trump benefited from a longer-term downward trend of illegal border crossings that started during President Bush’s second term (based on border-apprehension data). All else equal, the fewer the border crossings, the lower the number of people who die. But the fact remains that the totals from 2017 (298) and 2018 (283) are two of the lowest since 1999 — and there was no mass outcry in earlier years with much higher numbers.

President Trump’s focus on immigration policies has certainly made him a target for political opponents. The demagoguery of left-wing politicians and media pundits created a false narrative that the policies of the Trump administration have resulted in these types of border deaths even though they have existed for nearly two decades. Americans deserve to know the truth about this topic.

Culture

Our Cities Are Growing Childless. . . and Quite a Few Urbanites Prefer It That Way

(Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Derek Thompson’s essay in The Atlantic, “The Future of the City Is Childless,” is really good, and spotlights the currents underneath some of our big political and cultural divisions:

In high-density cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., no group is growing faster than rich college-educated whites without children, according to Census analysis by the economist Jed Kolko. By contrast, families with children older than 6 are in outright decline in these places. In the biggest picture, it turns out that America’s urban rebirth is missing a key element: births.

Some of this reflects larger trends that are not so city-focused: couples getting married later, having children later and smaller families, and so on. But it’s hard to believe this trend has no tie to the ideas of Richard Florida and like-minded urban planners and their recommendations in the 2000s, contending that a thriving city had to cater to the “creative class” with art galleries, hip restaurants, luxury condominiums, and so on. (By 2012, Richard Florida backtracked somewhat, saying he hadn’t foreseen how bringing super-affluent creative tech workers into cities would make neighborhoods unaffordable for blue-collar workers.)

Ask a parent what kind of community they want, and they’ll probably start with three traits: to be able to afford to live there, to be safe, and for the community to have good schools.

All of those hip coffeeshops, gluten-free bakeries, and bike paths are nice to have in a city, but they’re catering to the tastes and disposable income of single people and DINKS – “double-income, no-kids” couples. Parents may like the art galleries, hip restaurants, and all of that, but they need good public schools. They also suddenly have new expenses like a crib and diapers and baby clothes and baby food, so all of a sudden, they examine the cost of living in their neighborhood much closer. They probably would prefer an extra bedroom to turn into a nursery. And as the kids get bigger, the idea of having a front yard or backyard or both starts to look really appealing. Young parents might want to stay in a city, but the cities are unaffordable. . . and some cities don’t seem all that sad to see parents go.

It’s not that there are no good public schools in America’s big cities. It’s just that you’re less certain to get a good elementary school, a good middle school, and a good high school based upon where you live. Those of us who have house-shopped in northern Virginia know that real estate prices are often directly connected to which side of the school district lines it is on. If you find a home that has good schools for your child from ages 5 to 18, you’ve hit the lottery. . . or you may need to hit the lottery to live there.

America’s big cities cater to two groups: non-parents and wealthy parents, who can opt out of the gamble of the city’s public schools by sending their kids to private school. Many big city mayors talk a good game about supporting public education and touting the quality of their city’s public schools. . . and then they send their kids to private school. Rahm Emanuel’s children attended the private University of Chicago Lab School — the same school president Barack Obama’s daughters attended before their move to Washington. (The head of Chicago Public Schools sent his child to a private school, as well.) In Washington D.C., Adrian Fenty sent his children to private school.

(You know which mayor actually had his child attend a public school? Bill de Blasio, whose son Dante went to Brooklyn Technical High School — one of the best public schools in the city. Words you have never seen in National Review before and may never see again: “Good for you, Bill de Blasio.”)

Many mayors either don’t have children, have children that too young to attend school yet, or have children that are now adults. For a lot of elected city officials, the problem of subpar city public schools is a theoretical problem that doesn’t touch them personally.

Parents and non-parents shouldn’t see each other as foes, but in today’s era, contempt is contagious:

No issue is too small to be inflated into a clash between identity groups. There’s a Facebook page for my old neighborhood, and recently a post announced that the local day care would be expanding. A couple of residents were furious and lamented the gradual departure of most local retail establishments. (Some who had previously owned businesses on that retail row blamed the high rents, low foot traffic, and limited parking.) But it didn’t take long for the Facebook thread to turn snotty comments about how the neighborhood had been taken over by “breeders.” Somehow a small but vocal group of non-parents had concluded that the families in the neighborhood were some sort of sinister, conquering force. This isn’t mere incivility, it’s contempt, and they’re proud of their contempt.

Thompson concludes, “America’s rich cities specialize in the young, rich, and childless; America’s suburbs specialize in parents.” As long as you have that split, you’re going to have at minimum tension and at worst a furious culture war between those groups.

Culture

More Psychology Push to Validate Polyamory

Whatever happened to the virtue of self-restraint?

That’s so old school, Wesley! Just ask the psychology establishment that apparently wants to corrode the venerable Judeo/Christian moral norm of monogamy in favor of a hedonism in which people are encouraged to indulge their impulses and sexual desires with multiple partners (all consenting adults, of course) because great sex rules all!

As I noted a bit ago, a division of the American Psychological Association has boosted polyamory as just another healthy choice about which there should be no “stigma.” And now, Research Digest, published by the British Psychological Association, cheerily reports on a study cheerily claiming that “polyamory offers a ‘unique opportunity’ to enjoy prolonged passion and enjoy closeness in romantic relationships.” From the report:

“These findings have broad research implications for the study of romantic relationships,” the researchers write. “The belief that monogamy is superior to other relationship orientations is a fundamental and often unquestioned assumption underlying contemporary theories of the development of romantic relationships and intimacy.” And yet, they go on: “The findings suggest that polyamory may provide a unique opportunity for individuals to experience both eroticism and nurturance simultaneously.”

The study also claims that a spouse who allows his or her romantic partner to screw around with others “is arguably a more supportive individual in the first place,” than someone who expects, you know, fidelity.

If this ongoing push to celebrate and grant moral permission to indulge in polyamory succeeds in increasing the number of people who yield to such desires — as I suspect is the goal — it will also lead to the spread of STDs, family discord, divorce, more unwanted pregnancies, abortions, screwed up children, increases in sex and porn addiction, and a less stable society.

But on the positive side, it will mean more people will need psychologists!

Editor’s Note: The article discussed herein was originally published in Social Psychology, a journal of Hogrefe & Huber Publishers, which is not affiliated with the APA. The earlier task force was a project of an APA division, not of the national organization. An APA spokesman writes that “divisions are affiliated with APA and allowed to use our name, but they have their own members, who are not required to be members of APA.”

Education

What Has Become of Civic Education in College?

Yesterday, I linked to a Martin Center piece by Professor John Hasnas in which he argued that the college curriculum is being distorted by the supposed need for a more diverse faculty.

At the same time as colleges are offering more and more identity studies types of courses, they are giving up on the kinds of courses that used to constitute the pillars of a sound education in civics. That’s the point of today’s piece by Thomas Connor.

That helps to explain why so many college students want to hector you about “intersectionality” but know nothing about American history and government.

Culture

Why Was Richard Spencer on CNN?

Self-avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer went on CNN yesterday. What he said isn’t particularly interesting, because Richard Spencer isn’t particularly interesting.

What is interesting, at least in the sense that a multi-car pile up on the side of the interstate is interesting, is the bastard logic of the whole thing. The takeaway from the segment, to the extent that there was one, seemed to be that Richard Spencer (who is a racist) thinks that the president’s recent tweets about the “Squad” are racist.

And?

U.S.

A Eulogy No Judge Should Want

Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens died yesterday. He was a World War II veteran, a public servant, and by all accounts a gentleman. His jurisprudence had many admirers, increasingly liberal ones after his first years on the Court. But not all of his fans are content to leave it there. Slate’s obituary says he “fought tirelessly to build an America that lived up to his extraordinarily high standards.” If that’s really how he saw his job, it’s an indictment of him.

White House

House Democrats Split on Impeachment Resolution

On Wednesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives killed off (for now) an impeachment resolution introduced by Democratic congressman Al Green of Texas.

By a vote of 332 to 95, the House tabled the measure. Republicans casting votes unanimously supported tabling it, and a solid majority of Democrats sided with Republicans, but the majority party was split 137 to 95.

Green’s resolution did not allege that President Trump had obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. It focused entirely on Trump’s comments about immigrants and his recent tweets telling four Democratic congresswomen, three of whom were born in the United States, to “go back” to the countries from which they came.

Politics & Policy

No One Is Ever Woke Enough

Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen speaks at a protest at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

Indeed, Madeleine, and what’s particularly striking is that the issue of “trans-inclusive” language is the only one that seems like the kind of issue that could have forced Leana Wen’s departure.

It’s pretty rare to see an organization dump its president after just eight months, as Planned Parenthood just did with Wen. Most New York Yankee managers lasted longer under the notoriously fickle and impatient George Steinbrenner.

It’s not like Wen has run Planned Parenthood into the ground or mismanaged it to irrelevancy.

On the policy front, Planned Parenthood’s past eight months have been mixed.  “Fetal heartbeat laws” passed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and Kentucky. Meanwhile Illinois repealed late-pregnancy restrictions and a ban on partial-birth abortion, and expanded insurance coverage for abortion and contraception. Vermont declared abortion a “fundamental right.” New York lawmakers removed anything in state law that could have been interpreted to limit abortion or to extend any protection to a child before birth. Maine passed a law allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just doctors, to perform abortions, and required insurance companies to cover the procedure.

This is not a difficult pattern to discern: Republican-dominated states are moving laws in a more pro-life direction, Democrat-dominated states are moving laws in a more pro-choice direction. It’s hard to blame or credit Wen for that.

The complaints about Wen in that recent BuzzFeed article were mundane, with one glaring exception. Fundraising was down, but that shouldn’t be surprising when an organization changes from Cecile Richards – the longtime political activist, former deputy chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi, daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, who had run Planned Parenthood for twelve years – to a much less well-known medical doctor. Anonymous sources complained to BuzzFeed that Wen and her new hires had a lot of friction with the old staff, but that’s pretty common when leadership changes in any organization.

But then there’s this: “Two sources told BuzzFeed News that Wen also refused to use ‘trans-inclusive’ language, for example saying ‘people’ instead of ‘women’ and telling staff that she believed talking about transgender issues would ‘isolate people in the Midwest.’”

Was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Wen: her refusal to use “trans-inclusive language”? If so, that would be a remarkable illustration of how powerful the forces of political correctness and wokeness have become. If enough people in leadership of an organization either subscribe to the philosophy or fear standing against it, then no one is progressive enough to earn an exception or indulgence under the New Woke Order. No one’s deviation from the linguistic requirements can be ignored, overlooked, accepted, or forgiven. Not even the president of Planned Parenthood!

U.S.

WFB and the ‘American Dilemma’

William F. Buckley Jr. with President George W. Bush in October 2005 (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about race — when is there not? — and the talk has been occasioned by President Trump’s tweets, and the reaction to them. Which tweets, which reaction? I don’t think it matters much. There’s always something, isn’t there?

The recent talk has included plenty of comments on race and the American Right. Some of these comments have been directed at National Review — and at William F. Buckley Jr. in particular. He has come in for some rough treatment. I don’t want to get into a long history — Kevin (Williamson) is better at that than I am, anyway — but I would like to relate two things. A couple of personal memories.

In Bill’s last years, I was on a platform with him, a platform that included Jeff Greenfield, the longtime Democratic journalist. (He was also a longtime friend of WFB’s.) Jeff was pressing him on the Right and civil rights, and I made an intervention or two, saying that Goldwater was worried about the faithful application of the Constitution, etc. — you know, all the things we’ve always said.

Bill would have none of it. He shut me down. He said the Right, including himself, had been wrong on civil rights, and that’s all there was to it. He regretted it keenly.

Flash forward to the last conversation I ever had with him — at least, the last in person. It was in February 2008, the month he died, and I was just about to go off to India. He was reminiscing. With the most pained expression, he recounted an incident that occurred in Camden, S.C., in the home of his mother. A friend of hers, a leading lady in town, had come to visit. She had just interviewed a maid — a black woman — who introduced herself as “Mrs. Sullivan.” The leading lady was aghast: Imagine someone like that, wanting to be called “Mrs.” Somebody!

Why Bill was reliving this, I don’t know. But it was on his mind, and he hated the inhumanity of that little episode. (Of course, everyone first-names now. But it was different then. Bill wanted this lady — Mrs. Sullivan — to have had her dignity.)

I offer these things simply because they are true, and relevant. It’s not fair to keep Bill Buckley frozen in time, or any of us, really. WFB moved on a number of things: I think of McCarthy and McCarthyism, too. (“Set back the cause of anti-Communism by ten years, at least.”) And Israel. People ought to be allowed the fullness of their lives. Few are so fruitful and beneficent as Bill’s.

Culture

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (July 17, 2019)

1.

2. A beautiful reflection on adoption and infertility by a friend who’s participated in more than one National Review Institute event over the past few years.

3.

4. About plastic straws and the disabled

5. John Allen on Christians in Eritrea.

6. A report in the Tablet about Orthodox Jews being attacked in New York.

7. Possible third century Christian tomb found in Bulgaria.

8. Have you seen the New York Times feature on Notre Dame?

9. A 107th birthday.

10. Not only a hotel that still gives you a newspaper if you want it, but exclusively the New York Post

Plus: My upcoming Year with the Mystics is 22% off on Amazon.

A homily for today.

Ramesh’s congressional testimony today. 

Religion

Ten Things that Caught My Eye about the Ministerial on Advancing Religious Freedom

Participants at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. on July 16-18, 2019. (State Department photo/Public Domain)

A few items from the ongoing ministerial on religious freedom sponsored by the U.S. State Department in D.C. – which is really a challenging, inspiring, embarrassment of riches. It’s a good use of government, convening people from government, churches, and civil society who are on the front-lines of fighting for religious liberty and protecting religious minorities – many of these are true people of courage.

1. Shawn Taseer delivered moving remarks about his father, the former governor of Punjab, who was killed for standing up to the blasphemy law there. He pointed out that while his father specifically was killed defending Asia Bibi, who is now finally free, “there are 200 Asia Bibis in jail in Pakistan today.” He described them as prisoners of conscience who are include the elderly, sick, and illiterate. “Abandon them at your peril.”

2. The Knights of Columbus have made Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and the cradle there a priority over the past few years – they are on the ground, rebuilding towns and lives. From the end of their head, Carl Anderson’s talk today:

During a visit to Iraq earlier this year, I was told repeatedly that security is the primary concern of those trying to return home after ISIS. The Knights of Columbus along with other organizations, and the United States, and other countries including have spent millions of dollars to assist returns by targeted communities to Nineveh – the place that has been their home for millennia.

But this is being threatened by the unaccountable PMF forces, which the government of Iraq in Baghdad seems unwilling or unable to control. Reports of abuse by PMF forces is common. As a result, minority communities fear to return, and every day more slip away from Iraq.

If the destruction of these communities by ISIS is completed by the PMF, Baghdad will bear responsibility for the loss of its minorities.

Before I visited Iraq in March, I met with Pope Francis who told me that the Middle East without Christians is not the Middle East. The Iraqi ambassador to the United States often says something similar: Iraq without its minorities is not Iraq.

Keeping [Christians safe in Iraq and the Middle East] is a priority for all us, but is the particular responsibility of the national governments there. They owe it to their people to protect all of their people, regardless of the faith they profess. We stand at a critical juncture, and we urge Baghdad and the other governments of the Middle East to take the protection and preservation of their minority communities seriously.

As this ministerial makes clear, the world is watching.

3.

4. Pelosi, Wolf urge US to call out China for religious freedom abuses.

5. Survivors of massacres speak out against bigotry.

6. The persecuted on forgiveness

7.

8. FCC chairman Ajit Pai on using technology to oppress and free

9. There will be a U.S-Vatican summit on religious freedom in October.

10. To give you some idea of the scope and catch some of the livestream, here’s the website.

Politics & Policy

Watch: Kat Timpf Calls Government Move to Take Man’s Home over Long Grass ‘Enraging’

In her latest video for National Review, Kat Timpf reports that a city in Florida may take away a citizen’s home if he doesn’t hand over $30,000 in fines for his overgrown grass.

Health Care

Sorry, Men Can’t Get Pregnant

Leana Wen during a TED Talk in 2014 (TEDx via YouTube)

Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, was fired yesterday in a “secret meeting.” Wen, who has been in the position for less than a year, explained on Twitter that the decision had been “based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

What “philosophical” differences? BuzzFeed reports an example:

Two sources told BuzzFeed News that Wen also refused to use “trans-inclusive” language, for example saying “people” instead of “women” and telling staff that she believed talking about transgender issues would “isolate people in the Midwest.”

Wen, who is a medical doctor, has a different approach. “I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive rights by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who understand reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is,” she said.

In terms of strategy, Wen is likely correct. According to Gallup’s most recent polling from May of this year, the majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal “only in certain circumstances.” Another poll shows that 49 percent identify as pro-life, versus 46 percent who identify as pro-choice. So, while among political elites abortion has become a tool used to entrench division, among the general public the attitude still seems to be, as the old slogan went, “safe, legal, and rare.”

Wen is also right to be skeptical of incorporating gender ideology into Planned Parenthood’s mission. According to its own slogans, Planned Parenthood is America’s number one provider of “women’s healthcare,” which means it really ought to be able to define and identify the category of women.

Whatever else one may think of her, Wen is a medical doctor with a scientific approach. But gender ideology, which is profoundly anti-scientific, proclaims that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. The comedian Steven Crowder, of YouTube notoriety, recently tested this out. “We wanted to see just how all-in they are,” Crowder said.

Posing as a transgender woman called Stephanie, Crowder purchases Plan B at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Given that Crowder has not undergone any surgeries for this role, he is quite clearly a man in a wig. But the nurse handed it over no problem. For a man, Plan B is not only unnecessary but potentially dangerous, causing infertility, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction.

Next Crowder scheduled a pregnancy test and a follow up at a different Planned Parenthood clinic. For good measure, he takes the urine of an actually pregnant woman with him to submit as his own. But while a positive pregnancy test for a woman generally means she’s pregnant, for a man it can mean he has testicular cancer. He has the following conversation with a nurse practitioner:

Nurse practitioner: Were you assigned a female at birth? Sex at birth?

Crowder: Do you mean was I misgendered by a doctor when I was born?

Nurse practitioner: Did they consider you a female when you were born?

Crowder: I was misgendered at birth, yeah.

Nurse practitioner: I mean do you have… um… ovaries? A vagina?

Crowder: Let me make it really clear that I am not a woman in a man’s body. I am a woman. I’ve always been a woman. And I’m currently living as a woman. So, they did identify me, they misgendered me as a male when I was born.

Nurse practitioner: Ok, ok.

Crowder: Are these questions that are asked of every woman who comes in here?

Nurse practitioner: Yes.

Crowder: If they have ovaries? If they take testosterone?

Nurse practitioner: Yeah. I’m asking what are the medications that you take.

Crowder points out that even this falls short of Planned Parenthood’s own guidelines related to transgender people, which states that staff must treat transgender patients in complete accordance with their “authentic gender.” Nevertheless, after his indignation, the nurse checks Crowder out for a follow-up, as if she really believed that he was a pregnant woman. No mention is made of the fact that — as a male — a positive pregnancy test could mean that he has a life-threatening disease.

As Planned Parenthood continues to overreach, firing its president who is more in step with the American public, in order to pursue and promote the progressive agenda wholesale, it may well backfire. . . Let’s hope so.

One more thing

I was recently smeared as a “bigoted writer” by a clinical activist on Twitter for referring to two biological males as “men” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. This reminded me of Ben Shapiro’s run-in with Zoe Tur on Dr. Drew On Call several years ago.

“How he feels on the inside is irrelevant to the question of his biological sex,” Ben Shapiro said of Caitlyn Jenner while in discussion with Tur and Segun Oduolowu (both of whom are journalists).

Shapiro said, “every chromosome, every cell in Caitlyn Jenner’s body, is male, with the exception of some of his sperm cells.” Zoe Tur, who is transgender (male-to-female), then accused Shapiro of being pig-ignorant about genetics.

“Would you like to discuss the genetics?” Shapiro replied, before asking Tur, “what are your genetics?”

“You cut that out right now or you’ll go home in an ambulance,” Tur responded, placing a hand on Shapiro’s shoulder.

“That seems mildly inappropriate for a political discussion,” Shapiro said.

“But to be fair, you’re actually being kind of rude,” Oduolowu said.

“I’m sorry but it’s not rude to say that a person who is biologically male is a male,” Shapiro replied.

Quite so. Whereas, baselessly calling someone a bigot or threatening them with physical violence is very rude indeed.

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
World

Who Is Boris Johnson?

By next week at this time, Boris Johnson will be prime minister of the United Kingdom. Not since Margaret Thatcher has such an outsized personality resided in Number 10 Downing Street. Not since Winston Churchill has such a wit presided over Her Majesty’s Government. Wit is actually the chief reason for ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Ohio Bans ‘Nature Rights’

Finally! After voters in Toledo granted "rights" to Lake Erie -- in a special election, it should be noted, with minuscule turnout -- Ohio has outlawed the enforcement of "nature rights" in a budget bill signed by the governor. From the legislation: Sec. 2305.011...[Definitions omitted] (B) Nature or any ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More