The Left’s Citation Cartels

As Corner readers know, leftists want to win (that is, obtain power over society so they can run it according to their precepts) by controlling the spread of knowledge. Ideas they favor are endlessly touted and ideas they dislike are, as much as possible, suppressed. If people don’t know about facts and arguments that undermine their vision, they can’t become dissidents.

In today’s Martin Center article, Richard Phelps, founder of the Nonpartisan Education Group, discusses one of the insidious ways the left does this — citation cartels. Phelps explains:

This influence can be achieved through ‘citation cartels,’ where sympathetic researchers cite and reference one another and ignore or dismiss the high-quality research of others that reach different conclusions. Citation cartels belittle research they disagree with, rather than refute it.

Citation cartels are responsible for the utter one-sidedness of the research on contentious issues. As one illustration, he points to a recent book by progressive writer Anya Kamenetz, which purports to analyze standardized testing and its effects. However, she wrote the book and got it published without any references to people to are in favor of keeping standardized testing. Her research information came entirely from opponents of standardized testing. The anti-testing citation cartel evidently worked to make Kamenetz believe that there was no rational argument for such testing.

(This also indicts book publishers who increasingly let supposedly scholarly books get into print even though they are horribly slanted — such as Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains.)

I like Phelps’s conclusion:

Academic integrity and public knowledge can be threatened by ideological cartels on the left and the right. Education journalists need to hold themselves to a high standard to fight off cartel influence, and funders need to avoid funding them. In that way, truth is the final arbiter of ‘acceptable debate,’ and the public can make informed decisions about American education.


The Democrats Made Two Joe Biden Miscalculations

Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a campaign stop in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2019. (Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

I think it’s safe to say that there are many, many progressive Democrats who are more than a little surprised — and a lot chagrined — at Joe Biden’s polling dominance. Look at FiveThirtyEight’s polling roundup. Aside from a few high and low outliers, he leads the race by a solid 20 points (at least). Even better for him, he’s dominating with nonwhite voters, and after Iowa and New Hampshire — where he leads — the race is heavily weighted towards states with substantial numbers of black voters.

Look, I know it’s early. I know Hillary had massive leads in 2008 and 2016, only to lose and almost lose. I know that Biden has been a terrible campaigner in his two previous presidential races. But Biden is already demonstrating enough strength that Politico has a long piece today asking, Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary? Here’s a key paragraph:

It’s not just Biden’s rising poll numbers that suggest that the activist left is out of step with most Democrats; it’s the ideological makeup of the entire Democratic Party. Fifty-six percent of Democrats self-identify as “moderate” and 9 percent even embrace “conservative,” according to an April poll from the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. While leftist activists pine for the end of the legislative filibuster to grease the skids for partisan legislation, a December GW Politics poll found that 66 percent of Democrats said they prefer elected officials who “make compromises with people they disagree with” over those who “stick to their positions.” Only 36 percent of Republicans said the same.

NR’s own Rich Lowry made a similar observation, also in Politico:

[A]s Harry Enten of CNN, among others, has been insisting for some time, the average Democrat is older, more moderate or conservative, and less likely to have a college degree than you’d guess from following Twitter or cable TV.

These voters were underserved by the rest of the field, and Biden is taking dead aim at them with the simple message that he can beat Trump.

The Democrats didn’t just underestimate Joe Biden’s personal appeal (at least so far), but it appears they also underestimated the size of his ideological lane. As Democrats stampeded left, with even more moderate candidates like Beto arguing for tearing down existing border walls, Biden was left largely alone to position himself as the ideal candidate for a whopping 65 percent of the Democratic electorate. Which of the woke candidates is best-positioned to challenge Biden for that enormous slice of the Democratic voting public? Meanwhile, the progressive (mostly white) wing of the primary is crowded and competitive.

Moreover, key candidates have made such extreme statements in the effort to appeal to what turned out to be the Democratic minority that they’ve rendered themselves more vulnerable in the general election. It’s hard to walk back pledges to wipe away private health insurance or tear down border walls, for example. It turns out that dreams of a united, energized progressive tidal wave may well die in the face of a more-moderate electorate that mainly seeks a return to normalcy, modest reforms, and an end to daily political drama.

We’ll see, of course, and I freely acknowledge this take could age badly, but at the very least there is a real recognition that the Online Left is out of step with the bulk of the Democratic electorate. That fact alone could help diminish the power of angry online activism and the reduce the influence of Twitter tirades. If that happens, win or lose Joe Biden will have made an important contribution to American political discourse.

National Security & Defense

A Debate about War Where One Side Hasn’t Shown up Yet

Flight operations aboard USS Abraham Lincoln in the Mediterranean Sea, April 25, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Amber Smalley/US Navy)

Just a quick point or two to add to David’s assessment about the high cost of a potential war with Iran.

Just as generals always fight the last war, official Washington and pundits tend to re-argue the last one, too. A lot of Democratic big names voted for or otherwise supported the Iraq War, and ended up regretting it: John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden come to mind. Having convinced themselves that they were tricked into supporting the biggest foreign policy mistake of the post-Cold War era, Democrats are eager to re-play the same drama again, but this time with their feet firmly planted on the antiwar side.

The irony is that there is not much of a pro-war side at the moment, or on the horizon. Trump says he doesn’t want a war with Iran. National Security advisor John Bolton says, “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime.” Congressional Republicans aren’t clamoring for war with Tehran. Even the most convenient bogeyman of the Iraq War, the so-called “neocons” at the American Enterprise Institute, don’t want war with Iran. Kenneth Pollack, writing today: “A war with Iran makes no sense to me and I say this as someone who would like to see the United States making a much more determined effort to push back on Iranian aggression and expansionism in the Middle East.”

Even by the standards of an administration as unpredictable and erratic as this one, the idea of starting a war as consequential as this without making the case to the public or getting congressional approval is unthinkable. Furthermore, when the United States military goes to war, it does not go lightly or quickly. The U.S. military deployed to Saudi Arabia about six months before the Persian Gulf War. Almost a month went by between the 9/11 attacks and the launch of the war in Afghanistan. And months of military buildup preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

No, the real question is not war or no war but what should the United States do if, in the near future, Iran or it proxies do something dangerous and stupid that kills Americans? The administration (and likely a majority of the the public) would like a retaliatory option somewhere in between “nothing” and “invade Iran and topple the regime.”


The Trump Immigration Plan: Well, That Was Anticlimactic

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

I’ll confess that I was mildly excited about Jared Kushner’s immigration plan, which the president finally introduced today. Early reports held that Kushner would push to reorient the legal-immigration system around skills rather than trying to reduce immigration in general, which I have long argued is the best approach.

We should be getting the highest-skilled immigrants we possibly can, rather than letting people in based on family connections. Unlike overall cuts to legal immigration, this seems pretty popular — and with Trump on board, it could serve as a foundation for a bigger compromise. Bipartisan appeal is especially important here because any immigration reform will be vulnerable to a filibuster and thus will need 60 votes in the Senate.

But the final plan doesn’t even aim to be something that both sides could pass, now or after the 2020 election.

In and of themselves, the legal-immigration reforms Trump outlined live up to the hype and might be worth pursuing as a standalone bill, if only to see how reasonable Democrats are willing to be about it. Trump is right that a point system based on employment and skills is far superior to the mess we have today, in which some green cards are literally handed out by random lottery.

But other crucial elements of a broader compromise are lacking. The president called for heightened border enforcement going forward, with a “border-security trust fund,” more wall, legal reforms to discourage smuggling, and an overhaul of asylum laws to screen out frivolous cases — all stuff that Republicans love. Yet he was silent about how to deal with illegal immigrants who are already here, including the “Dreamers” who came as minors.

In other words, there’s little reason for Democrats to jump on board with the package as a whole. Meanwhile, despite the border measures, some restrictionist conservatives will be angry that Trump backed away from substantially cutting legal immigration (which he previously endorsed via the RAISE Act). It’s not a plan with legislative potential, and it’s as likely to divide Republicans as to unite them going into 2020, though Democrats may reveal their extremism by opposing some parts of it.

I’m not mad, just disappointed.


Angela Merkel, America’s Ally (Apparently)

The “leader of the free world” has been sounding off again. Newsweek reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lumped in the United States with Europe’s other global adversaries on Wednesday, arguing that the countries on the continent need to band together against the challenges posed by Russia, China and the U.S.

“There is no doubt that Europe needs to reposition itself in a changed world…. The old certainties of the postwar order no longer apply,” Merkel told the German media on Wednesday.

“They [China, Russia and the U.S.] are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions. That is often difficult given our different interests. But we do get this done—think, for example, of our policy regarding the conflict in Ukraine,” Merkel added. “Our policies on Africa, too, now follow a common strategy, which a few years ago would have been unthinkable. So we keep putting one foot in front of the other. However, our political power is not yet commensurate with our economic strength.”

The comments hinted at the fact that at least some European leaders no longer view the United States as primarily an ally of the European Union. Merkel, for example, pointed to the U.S. dominance of technology as a challenge for Europe…

We are currently hearing a lot about some of Europe’s rougher political parties, and not always without reason, but these comments from Merkel are also worth noting.

As a reminder, there’s this, via Politico (from March):

Defense spending by NATO’s European members hit a five-year high last year, as measured by a proportion of GDP, but still only six countries, plus the United States, met a U.S.-driven target of spending 2 percent of economic output on defense, according to the alliance’s latest annual report released Thursday.

Overall, European allies spent 1.51 percent of GDP on defense, with only Britain, Poland, Greece and the three “frontline” Baltic nations — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — hitting the 2 percent of GDP goal that is being pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The NATO allies pledged five years ago to spend 2 percent of annual GDP on defense by 2024.

Germany, the wealthiest of the European allies, spent $50.2 billion on defense last year, an increase of more than $4.6 billion on 2017, but still only equal to 1.23 percent of its GDP, unchanged from the previous year….

Just how reliable an ally is Merkel’s Germany?

Law & the Courts

Personhood Confusion in the New York Times

(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The central error in Mary Ziegler’s op-ed comes in its second sentence: “By passing bills that would severely restrict abortion, lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia have in effect asked the Supreme Court not only to overturn Roe v. Wade immediately, but also to recognize the personhood of the fetus.” This is simply untrue, and all the argumentation she builds atop the premise is therefore structurally unsound.

There is no prospect that the Supreme Court is going to rule that human beings in the fetal stage of development are “persons” for the purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. (My views on the subject of whether they are constitutional persons, and what the answer entails for the justices, are outlined here.) No justice has ever taken the position that they are.

Neither the Alabama nor the Georgia law requires the Supreme Court to declare that a human fetus is a constitutional person for its upholding. A ruling that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion, and that Roe and its progeny are overruled, would allow them to be upheld even in the absence of such a declaration. Nearly every legislator who backed those laws would be overjoyed by such a ruling.

The words “in effect” do not convert a false statement into a true one.

P.S. Adding to the confusion, at one point the op-ed purports to quote the Alabama law but renders the statutory text’s “abortion advocates” as “abortion opponents.”

Law & the Courts

Some Very Odd Claims about Abortion Politics

Reading Wired’s Virginia Heffernan on abortion politics, I am reminded of how little people who write about abortion politics seem to know about abortion politics. Here is what I have written about the matter of criminalizing abortion. I do not think it has anything at all in common with Heffernan’s characterization of my views, which are, to be it delicately, fanciful.

I do not think what Heffernan has written is intellectually honest, or even defensible.


‘What if Trump Has Driven Democrats Sane?’

It’s still very early, but Biden’s initial strength should force us to contemplate a disturbing possibility, as I wrote for Politico today:

The Joe Biden polling surge has raised the frightful specter of Democratic rationality.

What if Donald Trump hasn’t driven Democrats insane, sending them into a spiral of self-defeating radicalism, but instead made them shockingly pragmatic?

Biden’s early strength suggests it may be the latter, that the reaction to Trump is so intense that it has crossed some sort of event horizon from fevered fantasy of his leaving office early via resignation or impeachment to a cold-eyed, win-at-any-cost practicality.

If this is true, one of the exogenous factors that could appreciably increase Trump’s odds of reelection — a zany Democratic nomination contest leading to a nominee much too far left for the American electorate — may not materialize.

Law & the Courts

Canada Court: Doctors Must Euthanize, Abort, or Refer

(Mark Blinch/Reuters)

The culture of death brooks no dissent. In Canada, doctors have been ordered to bend the knee.

Here’s the story: The Canadian Charter (Constitution) guarantees freedom of conscience and religion— a stronger and more explicit protection of religious liberty than our First Amendment. After the Supreme Court created a right to euthanasia, Ontario passed a law requiring doctors to kill legally eligible patients who want to die or provide an effective referral if they have moral objections — i.e., procure a doctor known by the dissenter to be willing to euthanize patients.

Catholic and other religious doctors sued to enforce their Charter liberties. Referring equals complicity, the doctors argued, and thus the law forces them to violate their religious beliefs and consciences.

In one of the world’s most important medical conscience rulings, a trial judge admitted the doctors’ Charter rights were indeed infringed. But he ruled that a right (nowhere mentioned in the Charter) to equal and equitable access to legal and government-funded medical interventions trumped doctors’ freedom of religion.

Now a Court of Appeals has affirmed, ruling that doctors must not only euthanize or refer, but also abort or refer, and provide any other controversial legal service that a patient might want or refer — their religious freedoms or moral consciences be damned. From, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario:

The medical procedures to which the appellants object (an objection shared
to varying degrees by the individual appellants and members of the appellant
organizations) include: abortion, contraception (including emergency
contraception, tubal ligation, and vasectomies), infertility treatment for
heterosexual and homosexual patients, prescription of erectile dysfunction
medication, gender re-assignment surgery, and MAiD [medical aid in dying, i.e. lethal injection euthanasia]. It is impossible to conceive  of more private, emotional or challenging issues for any patient.

When it comes to taking human life in abortion and euthanasia, it is impossible to conceive of a more private, emotional, or challenging issue for religiously and morally opposed doctors –particularly when the physician would consider it a grievous sin impacting her immortal soul to have any part in it. And those beliefs are supposed to be protected explicitly by the charter!

Not only that, when most doctors got into medicine, euthanasia was a felony! But who cares? Times change and doctors must change with them because patients are vulnerable:

The vulnerable patients I have described above, seeking MAiD, abortion,
contraception and other aspects of sexual health care, turn to their family
physicians for advice, care and, if necessary, medical treatment or intervention.
Given the importance of family physicians as “gatekeepers” and “patient
navigators” in the health care system, there is compelling evidence that patients
will suffer harm in the absence of an effective referral.

Baloney. The real issue here is the message dissenting doctors send when they refuse to participate in a controversial intervention because it is wrong, which the court ruled is stigmatizing” to patients.

The point of opposing medical conscience is to drive pro-life and Hippocratic Oath-believing doctors out of medicine. The Court goes there, telling doctors who don’t want to euthanize, abort, facilitate sex change, etc., they can always get into hair restoration:

[In] the following areas of medicine…physicians are unlikely to encounter requests for referrals for MAiD or reproductive health concerns, and which may not require specialty retraining or certification: sleep medicine, hair restoration, sport and exercise medicine, hernia repair, skin disorders for general practitioners, obesity medicine, aviation examinations, travel medicine, and practice as a medical officer of health.

So, an experienced and skilled oncologist who doesn’t want to kill can implant hair plugs instead of curing cancer. Brilliant.

And if they won’t do that, get the hell out of medicine.

The appellants have no common law, proprietary or constitutional right to practice medicine. As members of a regulated  and publicly-funded profession, they are subject to requirements that focus on the public interest, rather than their interests. In fact, the fiduciary nature of the physician-patient relationship requires physicians to act at all times in their patients’ best interests, and to avoid conflicts between their own interests and their patients’ interests.

Forcing doctors to be complicit in the taking of human life or face potential civil/professional consequences is despotism.

It is also worth noting that this case illustrates the high moral cost associated with socialized medicine–and indeed, as I have noted, the Medicare for All proposals filed in our Congress would destroy medical conscience rights too.

The good news is that the newly elected provincial administration ran on a plank of protecting medical conscience. Hopefully, the Ontario Parliament will soon right this injustice. In fact, it is my understanding that a bill is already in the hopper to do just that.

Otherwise, the USA has a doctor shortage and we should welcome these dissenters of conscience to move here where they can practice their profession in peace without being forced to act contrary to their religious beliefs — at least for now.

PC Culture

‘He Was Pregnant’

“When a man arrived at the hospital with severe abdominal pains, a nurse didn’t consider it an emergency, noting that he was obese and had stopped taking blood pressure medicines,” the Associated Press reports.

“In reality, he was pregnant – a transgender man in labor that was about to end in a stillbirth.”

He was pregnant?

Writing in Wednesday’s New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Daphna Stroumsa of the University of Michigan explains that “He [the patient] was rightly classified as a man . . . but that classification threw us off from considering his actual medical needs.”

Which is nonsense, of course. The patient was incorrectly classified as a male. Because, evidently, men don’t get pregnant. And, evidently, in this case, the result of this misclassification was avoidable harm to both the patient and her unborn child.

In medicine, there’s no saying where the abandonment of objective sex classifications might end. Let’s imagine, for instance, that this patient — a pregnant female identifying as a male — donated blood which is later given to a male. Research suggests that males who have blood transfusions from females who have been pregnant could be a higher risk of premature death.

Or let’s imagine a different case. Let’s say a male who identifies as female takes a pregnancy test, and it shows up as positive: That male isn’t pregnant, but he may very well have testicular cancer. What treatment would he receive from doctors if they were treating him as a female?

This is to say nothing of how wasteful all this is. Britain’s National Health Service, which costs around £130 billion (approximately $166 billion) per year to run, routinely invites males who are registered as females for cervical screenings — despite the fact that they don’t have cervixes.

That’s “progress,” apparently.

NR Webathon

Our Webathon Needs Your Participation

National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr.

A mere third of the way to our goal of $175,000, let’s begin this urging with a note of gratitude to the 500 folks who as of this morning have seen fit to contribute to the 2019 Spring Webathon, which seeks your material support so we can buys some brass knuckles and blackjacks for our battle with socialism. Who are these happy-few 500, and why have they reached for their wallets? For the sake of inspiration, we share a few examples:

• Old pal Peter spots NR 500 smackers and makes with the praise and the lingo: “Here’s a McKinley for you. Thank you for arming us with words and ideas to debate our socialist friends with. And yes, I left a participle dangling.” There was a $500 dangling fee . . . consider it paid. And thanks!

• Hot diggity dog, Jeffrey sends us a grand. Grand of you, literally! And this sentiment: “I enjoy having the option of where to spend my money and have never been disappointed when giving it to National Review.” And we are never disappointed receiving it. You are always there for us J Man!

• Ryan has got only a five-dollar bill to his name. But it comes to us, attended by this: “As millennials, we learned that socialism was a failed governmental model in all of my history and civics classes growing up. Unfortunately, for my generation, it appears that not many of us were paying attention. Life, Liberty, and Property.” Means a lot to us Ryan.

• William spots a C note and another great bumper-sticker comment: “Keep athwarting.” Love it!

• Also with a C note is Randall, who staples to it encouraging words: “I enjoy reading NR every day. I don’t always agree, but that’s good — I don’t (always) want to read pap that simply reinforces my biases. I generally feel that conservative outlets are not as well supported as left-ish ones. I don’t know whether that feeling comports with reality, but it’s a motivation!” Would that others feel the same.

• Ditto for Stephen. We love his generosity, and his discourse: “In reading the little debate raging between the donors and donee as to whom to thank, I’m torn — donors thank the mag, and the mag returns those thanks. But I come down on the side of being grateful to the other donors who have subsidized my conservative education these past many years. So here is to my now fellow donors, and a small effort in paying it forward.”

• Leslie doubles that, and her $200 signifies the kind of assessment that we find truly meaningful: “I may read about something on a different website, but I come to yours to find out how I feel about it, or to find out if it’s even legitimate. You are the only conservative source I can trust to exercise caution and use intellect to parse the nonsense that is daily news.” Thanks so much.

• Another $200 comes from Jagannatha, who seems intent of being generous and swelling select heads: “With gratitude to, and in honor of all, at the National Review. And in particular, a grateful thanks to Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Williamson, and Charles C. W. Cooke.” You are so kind.

• One last comment: Bill sends $50 and a marketing lecture that . . . damn, hurts! “Please try not to make your donation pleas sound like the Republican National Committee. That promotes a ‘they are the enemy culture.’ National Review is classier than that (though some of your non-staff writers are not).” As one of the non-classy writers, I am weeping from the shame of being exposed. But through my tears I moan . . . thanks.

We need many more Bills, Jagannathas, Leslies, and Peters to step up. Our task — combatting socialism — is very real. Our financial needs are also that — very real. Would you please make a very real contribution — from Ryan’s $5 to Jeffrey’s $1,000 — to help us get to our goal of $175,000 so we can knock the stuffing out of socialism? Donate to the 2019 Spring Webathon here. And if you wish to send your selfless kindness by check, here’s the drill: Make it payable to “National Review” and mail it to National Review, ATTN: Spring 2019 Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036. Thanks terribly much.



Defendants in the dock at a Nuremberg trial (Wikimedia Commons)

With some regularity, my critics will say to me, “Today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union, you know!” I say, “I know. But does Putin? Are you sure?” He murders his critics, invades foreign countries, sows discord in the democracies … It’s as though a KGB man were presiding in the Kremlin.

Today, we publish the final installment of my series on, and with, Vladimir Bukovsky, the great Soviet-era dissident. Here. One of my questions is, “How should the West deal with Putin?” Bukovsky says, in part: He engages in brinkmanship, just like his predecessors. He is an excellent bluffer. Don’t fall for it.

People like to emphasize the discontinuity between the Soviet Union and modern Russia. But there are also continuities to consider. I find that I have not considered them enough. Twenty years ago, David Pryce-Jones and others told me that the tragedy of the formerly Communist nations was that they had not had Nuremberg trials. There had been no equivalent of denazification. Everyone wanted to “move on” and sweep under the rug.

I always understood this concept, of course. I’m not sure I grasped the full importance of it.

Bukovsky is convinced that, without Nuremberg and denazification, the Nazis would have been back in Germany — not with the swastika, not with “The Horst Wessel Song,” but under some guise. Look at parties that are on the rise today, by the way: in Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, and elsewhere. Examine their roots. They are nasty, those roots, and it would be foolish to pretend they have nothing to do with what’s above the soil.

Toward the end of my installment today, I ask Bukovsky about heroes. There are obvious heroes of Soviet times, such as Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, and himself. What about less known ones? He gives an answer I did not expect.

“There was an extensive group of Old Bolsheviks who completely disagreed with Stalin and went against him. Lots of them were murdered — killed, executed, tortured. I was privileged to know several of them who survived. They were great people. I did not agree with their philosophy at all.”

He mentions, in particular, Sergei Petrovich Pisarev — “a guy who was tortured so severely, they broke his backbone, and the rest of his life he had to wear a special corset. But he didn’t sign any papers, he didn’t sign any false accusations, and they couldn’t break him. He was an Old Bolshevik, but, in all humility, I have to admit he was a great man.”

Politics & Policy

Slate on Abortion and Democracy

At Slate, Lili Loofbourow has a long indignant cry about those terrible pro-lifers and how they’ve trampled on democracy by . . . passing legislation through democratically elected legislative bodies: cheating . . . a simple procedural violation . . . disenfranchising half the country . . . denatured process that got us here . . . We’re long past democracy working, even if many have yet to realize it, because so much of its dismantling has been invisible to the public . . .  You get the gist.

At no point does it occur to Loofbourow that the point of her argument is to bolster a legal regime that nobody ever voted to put in the Constitution, that overturned the democratically enacted laws of every state to impose an extreme policy with which many Americans disagreed, and that prevents democratic majorities from protecting what they (rightly) see as an important civil right still. Her subject is grim, but her self-satisfied cluelessness manages still to be amusing.

PC Culture

Watch: Kat Timpf on the School that May Erase George Washington Art

In a new video for National Review, reporter Kat Timpf asks viewers how Americans should handle the more unfortunate aspects of U.S. history — including parts of George Washington’s legacy.

A school district in Northern California may remove a mural of George Washington from George Washington High School over concerns that it traumatizes students and community members,” she begins. “So I’m asking: How do we handle the tragedies of the past?”

Politics & Policy

The U.S. Is Right to Reject the Christchurch Pact

President Trump boards Air Force One from Joint Base Andrews, Md., May 14, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

The Washington Post reports:

The United States on Wednesday broke with 18 governments and top American tech firms by declining to endorse a New Zealand-led response to the live-streamed shootings at two Christchurch mosques, saying free-speech concerns prevented the White House from formally signing onto the largest campaign to date targeting extremism online.

. . .

A day earlier, as negotiations progressed, White House officials raised concerns that the document might run afoul of the First Amendment.

Because Donald Trump is president, this decision will presumably attract some outrage in some quarters: See, this just proves that . . .  But, as it should be, it is standard practice for the U.S. government to decline to sign these things. In 2016, while Barack Obama was president, the United States refused to become party to a a U.N. resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. This, naturally, was not because President Obama was indifferent toward Nazism, but because the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from taking part in any censorship efforts, and because the country’s robust culture of speech renders it unseemly for its leaders to sign anything to that effect, even in such cases as it is not technically binding. There is no reason for President Trump to take a different approach, and it would be rather odd if those who believe that he is a wannabe dictator were to take a different, narrower view.

Most Popular

National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More

The Democrats Made Two Joe Biden Miscalculations

I think it's safe to say that there are many, many progressive Democrats who are more than a little surprised -- and a lot chagrined -- at Joe Biden's polling dominance. Look at FiveThirtyEight's polling roundup. Aside from a few high and low outliers, he leads the race by a solid 20 points (at least). Even ... Read More