Politics & Policy

Representative Gallagher: Infrastructure Is ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’ for Democrats

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President Biden takes questions from reporters at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 19, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) put out a series of videos on Twitter this morning explaining why he is fed up with the infrastructure process in Congress.

First: the price tag. The bipartisan deal would add $600 billion in new federal spending. “600 billion seems like a drop in the bucket compared to multiple multi-trillion-dollar COVID packages Congress has already passed in the last 18 months, but it is a huge sum of money, particularly considering that bipartisan negotiations during the Trump administration hovered around 250 billion in new spending,” Gallagher said.

Second: the nature of the problem. Gallagher said that Republicans and Democrats agree that American infrastructure could use modernization. “But the problem that I see isn’t that we haven’t spent enough money on infrastructure,” he said. “It’s that we created a broken system that throws good money after bad, and as a result we have the highest-priced infrastructure in the developed world.”

“So if you put aside the price tag, the actual concern should be that there’s no indication from this bipartisan group in the Senate that they’re actually going to address the many underlying problems in infrastructure financing,” Gallagher said. “In the absence of real reform, we’re again going to be faced with calls to update our allegedly decaying infrastructure in a short period of time.”

Third: the politics. “Usually, when you’re in the minority party, you negotiate with the majority on a bipartisan package because your goal is to move policy in a better direction, in this case to the right, of where you would be if the other party dictated policy on its own,” Gallagher said. “You might not get everything you want, but at least you prevented the worst case scenario. You got buy-in from both parties that would stand the test of time . . . but that’s not what’s going on here.”

If the bipartisan deal falls apart, Democrats can just take the $600 billion in new spending from that package and roll it into their $3.5 trillion partisan package they plan to pass through budget reconciliation, meaning it would only need 50 votes, i.e. no Republican votes.

“This is a heads I win, tails you lose negotiating strategy from the Democrats,” Gallagher said. “They either get to claim bipartisanship on an infrastructure deal, or if Republicans walk away from the table, they’ll just fold that plan into the gigantic bill they were planning on doing anyways.”

Fourth: the country’s long-term fiscal health. Gallagher sums up the previous COVID packages which already passed ($6 trillion), the new spending in the bipartisan deal ($600 billion), and the Democrats’ reconciliation bill ($3.5 trillion), and says that if Democrats get their way, it will be $10 trillion in new federal spending over just the past two calendar years. “Even adjusted for inflation, it’s more than we spent on World War II, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the space race, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined,” Gallagher said.

Fifth: national security. Gallagher pointed out that despite all this spending, the U.S. is poorly prepared for potential conflicts with China. “Admiral Phil Davidson, who until very recently was our top military officer in the Indo-Pacific, warned earlier this year that the Chinese Communist Party could try to invade Taiwan in the next six years,” Gallagher said.

“But instead of listening to Admiral Davidson’s urgent warning, the Biden administration is proposing an inflation-adjusted cut to the defense budget at the same time that domestic spending is growing by 16 percent. So federal spending is the highest as a share of GDP that it’s been since World War II, yet we are failing to make the investments needed to deter or if necessary win World War III,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher has made a strong, well-reasoned, conservative case against the infrastructure deal. Republicans in the Senate would do well to consider it.

Culture

There’s No ‘Deep Divide’ over Male Athletes in Female Sports

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High-school athlete Alanna Smith (Photo courtesy Alliance Defending Freedom)

Covering a new poll on whether athletes should compete against members of their own biological sex, regardless of gender identity, Axios reports that Americans are “deeply divided.”

The poll results tell a rather different story. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said athletes should compete against members of their biological sex, compared with just 20 who said they should compete against the sex with which they identify. Those numbers can’t fairly be described as “deep division” in any meaningful sense.

Of note, too, is the fact that the polling question was phrased with obvious bias, asking respondents whether athletes should compete against “athletes of the gender with which they identify” or “athletes of the gender they were assigned at birth,” an unscientific phrase used only by those who take as a given that a person could indeed be a woman trapped in a man’s body or vice versa. Asking a survey question with that phrasing is confusing at best and misleading at worst — and it almost certainly influenced the results in a way that a properly written survey question wouldn’t.

Even so, the poll found that a majority of Republicans (58 percent) and a plurality of Independents (35 percent) believe athletes should compete against members of their biological sex. Just 8 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Independents said athletes should compete based on their gender identity.

In fact, the descriptor “deeply divided” could best be applied to Democratic respondents, 35 percent of whom favor athletes competing based on gender identity and 25 percent of whom favor them competing against members of their biological sex.

As much as members of the media might wish otherwise, this poll and many others like it suggest that Americans don’t seem to believe it’s an imperative of social justice to force female athletes to compete against biological males.

Those Dunking On Simone Biles Should Remember Julissa Gomez

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Simone Biles of the United States at the women’s team gymnastics final at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2021. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Alexandra DeSanctis has offered a worthy defense of Simone Biles, and as Dan McLaughlin pointed out earlier, she withdrew from the women’s team gymnastics competition when it was clear she was suffering from aerial disorientation. “Toughing it out,” as some were calling for, would not be akin to, say, Willis Reed playing through a leg injury in the NBA finals. Losing track of where you are when attempting to do competitive gymnastics doesn’t just lose you points. It could be deadly. Those who have any doubt should recall the tragic story of Julissa Gomez, a young American gymnast who was

Sports

In Defense of Simone Biles

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Gymnast Simone Biles of the United States during training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

After deciding to sit out yesterday’s women’s gymnastics team final at the Olympics, Simone Biles has, on one hand, been condemned as a lousy quitter, and, on the other, been hailed as a shining example of prioritizing one’s mental health above all else.

Neither camp is quite right.

If Biles deserves praise for what she did — and I believe she does — it’s not because she “prioritized herself” but primarily because her decision was actually quite selfless, even though she describes it as having been self-focused. Although she says she withdrew because of her own mental inability to cope with the pressure or to compete safely (which, as Dan McLaughlin notes, is more than enough reason to stand aside) it’s clear that she did so at least in part because she didn’t want to harm her team.

No Olympic gymnast slaves over their sport 24/7 for years just to arrive at the final competition and stand on the sidelines. No true athlete would ever wish for that or make that decision lightly. Biles’s critics talk about what she did as if she had casually shrugged and announced, “I just don’t feel like it, and I don’t actually care about this competition.” Nothing we know about Simone Biles, and nothing she’s said, indicates that she has this attitude toward the sport, herself as an athlete, or her team.

Had Biles stayed in the contest yesterday and continued to perform as far below her usual scores as she did on that first vault, she would’ve dragged down the team score much further than anything her teammates could’ve compensated for. Her choice not to compete might’ve dealt a blow to the overall score — but only if we assume that she would’ve gone on to perform as the incredible, flawless Simone Biles we’ve all come to expect. Based on what she’s told us, there’s little reason to think she was physically or mentally capable of performing that way yesterday. Nor is it fair to criticize her as if she should’ve been able to simply snap her fingers and carry on perfectly as if nothing had gone wrong, as if she could’ve done so if she’d just had the right attitude.

By standing aside, Biles chose not to risk her team’s performance just so she could save face and avoid personal embarrassment or to avoid the hate and blame she must’ve known were coming. It was a courageous and humble thing to do, as much as we might wish she could’ve performed at her usual 100 percent, wowed the world, and brought home another gold. The fact that she admitted her weakness was deeply humanizing, a powerful reminder that even the most glorious athletes aren’t invincible.

VIEW GALLERY: Tokyo Olympics Highlights

Politics & Policy

Donald Trump? That Guy Couldn’t Even Win a House Seat in Texas

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Politico reports:

Voters in North Texas delivered an upset Tuesday, picking GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey to fill a vacant House seat over a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Ellzey beat fellow Republican Susan Wright, the widow of former Rep. Ron Wright, 53 percent to 47 percent, when the Associated Press called the low-turnout, Republican-vs.-Republican runoff. Though Ellzey was better funded, Wright leaned heavily on her backing from the former president, who often plays kingmaker in Republican primaries.

I’ve been led to believe that Trump remains extremely powerful in the GOP. That he can’t even ensure the election of the widow of a deceased candidate, in a safe Republican seat, during a run-off between two Republicans, would suggest that this might not be as true as some think.

PC Culture

Free Speech, Safe Spaces, and the College Environment

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Should there be free speech on college campuses? Should there be safe spaces? How should colleges balance them?

Those are questions addressed by Duke University professor Michael Munger in today’s Martin Center article, which is drawn from a talk he recently gave in Raleigh.

Much sarcasm has been directed at the idea of “safe spaces” on campus, but Munger sees nothing wrong in allowing individuals and groups to find or create such places. The thing is, that means allowing them to exclude people who don’t share their values — a concept that is under attack when certain people want to do that, such as devout Christians.

On the other hand, if you want nothing but “safety” from competing ideas, you don’t really belong in college, because that isn’t what the business of learning is about. On that score, Munger quotes leftist commentator Van Jones: “I don’t want you to be safe. I want you to be strong. And there’s a difference. Nobody can pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym. That’s the whole point of the gym, to break you down and cause pain, so you can become strong. THIS (debate) IS THE GYM.”

Munger criticizes the way many colleges and universities treat students unequally, with conservatives getting tough treatment of the sort Van Jones likes, and leftists getting soft, mushy treatment where they are never challenged. It’s like teaching chess students one-move openings and leaving them to think they’ve mastered the game, Munger says.

He concludes, “In fact, academic freedom must encompass both the right to constitute a narrowly focused safe space, and the right to challenge any conclusion that is part of the general orthodoxy. This is not a contradiction, but the implication of the freedom to conduct research and foster learning.”

Politics & Policy

Trump-Endorsed House GOP Candidate Loses Texas Primary Runoff Election

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Susan Wright (FOX 4 Dallas-Fort Worth/YouTube)

On Tuesday, Jake Ellzey defeated Susan Wright in the House GOP primary runoff election in Texas 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent

Wright is the widow of the late GOP congressman Ron Wright (whose death left the seat vacant) and had the endorsement of former president Donald Trump. 

Ellzey is a Navy veteran who had the backing of Texas GOP congressman (and fellow Navy veteran) Dan Crenshaw. 

Wright’s loss is more evidence that a Trump endorsement isn’t as powerful as some people think it is. That’s good news for Texas GOP congressman Chip Roy, the staunch conservative who has drawn the ire of Donald Trump for voting to certify the results of the Electoral College. 

From my NRO profile of Roy published last month: 

“Can’t imagine Republican House Members would go with Chip Roy — he has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district,” Trump wrote in a blog post before the vote for House GOP Conference chair. “I support Elise, by far, over Chip!”

The comments from Cheney and Trump about Roy show that — as much as many Republicans say they want to move on — the 2020 election and January 6 are still major fault lines inside the Republican Party.

As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Trump has “made supporting his claims of a stolen election — or at least remaining silent about them — a litmus test of sorts as he decides whom to endorse for state and federal contests in 2022 and 2024.”

But is there any reason to believe Trump’s prediction of a Roy primary loss (which reads more like a threat) will come true? Matt McCall, who lost to Roy 47.3 percent to 52.7 percent in the 2018 GOP primary runoff, certainly hopes so.

“I have asked Trump for his endorsement to run against Chip Roy. If Trump endorses, I will run, and we will kick Chip Roy’s ass,” McCall told National Review in a phone interview. “I’ve approached [Trump’s] team. Steve Bannon, I think, is working on that for us.”

McCall, a businessman who did not challenge Roy again in 2020, says he’s interested in running in 2022 because of Roy’s response to the 2020 election and his comment that Trump had committed an impeachable act. McCall believes that the elections in every state where voting procedures were changed without the approval of the legislature — including his own state of Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott added six days of early voting — were unconstitutional, and that the U.S. House of Representatives should have decided the presidential election.

McCall, who looks to Texas congressman Louie Gohmert as a political role model (“I think he’s a very, very sharp man and very conservative”), can be more than a little rough around the edges. This showed up again when he began speculating on why Cruz endorsed Roy.

“I have no idea why [Cruz] went to so much trouble to put Chip into office,” says McCall. “Maybe he intends to run for president and they’ve got dreams of running Chip for Senate.”

“Maybe it was blackmail, that’s what a lot of people say — you know, there’s pictures with Ted and sheep,” he adds. “I don’t know.” McCall did not offer evidence Cruz had been blackmailed about anything. “I’m not trying to pick a fight with Ted Cruz,” he says.

While McCall is committed to running if Trump backs him, he also says he’s happy to endorse any other Republican Trump might endorse: “If [Trump] picks somebody else, I will back him. I’m with Trump.”

Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the GOP of Travis County, home to Austin, dismisses McCall’s primary threats as bluster. “Would I bet any amount of money Chip’s going to lose a primary in 2022? No, I wouldn’t,” Mackowiak tells National Review. “I think he’s got a 95 percent likelihood of being renominated.”

It might be too early to be quite that confident about Roy’s prospects. Redistricting is bound to make the district (which Roy carried by 6.7 points in the 2020 general election and 2.6 points in the 2018 midterms) more Republican and more Trump-friendly, and it was Roy himself who suggested he may have signed his political death warrant when he voted to certify the election.

But there are many reasons to believe Roy remains the heavy favorite heading into 2022. Roy was an unknown staffer when he defeated McCall by five points in 2018; by 2022 he’ll have served four years in D.C., and it’s still very difficult to unseat incumbents. Trump might not throw his support behind a challenger if Roy seems likely to prevail, and even if he did, a Trump endorsement isn’t all-powerful: See, for example, the 32-point loss by Trump-endorsed House candidate Lynda Bennett in a North Carolina open primary in 2020. And, again, Roy has been highlighting and focusing on issues that appeal to Republican voters.

 

Impromptus

Oh, Kay!

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Alabama governor Kay Ivey speaks to the media after being sworn in in Montgomery, April 2017. (Marvin Gentry / Reuters)

That was the name of a Gershwin musical, of 1926: Oh, Kay! It is largely forgotten now, but some songs aren’t: “Clap Yo’ Hands,” “Do, Do, Do,” and “Someone to Watch over Me.” I’ll get to the governor of Alabama in a minute.

My Impromptus column today is devoted to the Olympics, largely — a variety of issues, a variety of points. Also, I have a music post, here, with some good stories: part of the lore.

A little mail? In a column on Monday, I quoted Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama, who is at her wit’s end, when it comes to vaccination — when it comes to encouraging her constituents to get vaccinated. I said she reminded me of the title of a Truman biography: Plain Speaking.

A reader writes,

Dear Jay,

. . . I fell in love with Susana Martinez even before your cover story in NR. Now I may be falling for Kay Ivey. Governor Ivey. . . . I had a boss once who accused me of “not acting right.” She got right to the point. I never miss an opportunity to praise her. Some people didn’t like her style, so they convened a meeting. I wasn’t invited. She and another plainspoken person retired. They’re probably on Golden Pond somewhere. But they planted a seed.

In a column last week, I wrote of Shirley Fry Irvin, an American tennis champion, who died recently. When she was a kid — like ten years old — she traveled all over the country, competing in tournaments. I mean, she traveled alone. You could do that in those days. Kids did.

A reader sends me an article headed “The Astonishing Ride of the Abernathy Boys.” It begins,

Louis “Bud” Abernathy, 10, and his brother, Temple, 6, inherited their father’s spirit of adventure and set out in 1910 to ride their horses more than 2,000 miles from Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City.

I mean, geezum.

In that column earlier this week, I mentioned Bob Dole, who has just turned 98. I was a college intern in his office, way back. A lady who once worked for Dole has written me, saying, “I remain a huge fan and visited him for several hours at his apartment last month.” Despite health struggles, “he was sharp and funny and involved as always.”

So good to hear.

Somewhere along the way, I mentioned that I was a born-and-bred Tiger — Detroit Tiger, Detroit Piston, Detroit Lion, and Detroit Red Wing. A reader writes,

Mr. Nordlinger,

. . . I just read today in your Impromptus column you are a fan of all sports Detroit. I grew up in Wisconsin, so I can’t say I am too sorry about the Lions’ state of affairs. The Tigers, however, are a different story. My son was drafted by the Tigers last week, and he just started his professional career. I hope to see him in a Tigers uniform someday, and you can root for him as well. I am a biased source to be sure, but he’s easy to root for.

Fantastic!

Finally,

Jay,

Listened to your Q&A with Kevin D. while driving today. Your discussion of the phrase “there are two kinds of people in the world” made me laugh out loud. It reminded me of something my dad would say: “There are three kinds of people in the world: those that can count and those that can’t.”

He grew up in rural Mississippi in the ’30s and ’40s, and he had a hundred old country sayings like the one above, and, “Don’t let your mockingbird mouth overload your hummingbird butt.”

Good advice! Thanks to all. Again, today’s Impromptus is here.

Education

The Urge to Punish

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Students raise their hands to answer a question at Kratzer Elementary School in Allentown, Pa., April 13, 2021. (Hannah Beier/Reuters)

Less than an hour after the CDC released its guidelines, my local school district sent out a letter preparing parents for the probability that school — even school for very young children — would be conducted with the same requirement of cloth masks as last year. One wonders if the plexiglass will come back, too!

Because children are not efficient transmitters of COVID, transmission in schools that were open last year tended to remain at a level one-third of that of the surrounding community. Nothing has changed the consistent assessment of epidemiologists that COVID-19 is less of a mortal peril for children than influenza, a disease for which we do not install “pods” around children. Children don’t get “long COVID.”

Everyone with the slightest acquaintance with the history of pandemics knows that there is always an overwhelming urge to scapegoat during them. Pandemics aren’t “fair.”  And someone is to blame. New York’s mayor Bill De Blasio seemed to single out Orthodox Jews for special opprobrium.

But the news of the recent APA and CDC recommendations was greeted by a weird shrug in many quarters. We wouldn’t have to do this if everyone got vaccinated. Or, if people were focused on ending vaccine disinformation, this wouldn’t have to happen. Somehow, our sins caused this.

The problem is — there’s no connection between masking children under 12 and vaccination uptake. The CDC and APA didn’t even bother to indicate that there was some level of adult vaccination at which we could stop masking kids. Because there is no logical connection between them. Why is there no logical connection between them? Because kids don’t get seriously ill from COVID or become serious transmitters of it.

Because there is no logical connection between these things, there is also no sense in which masking kids can be seen as a “sacrifice” made by parents because of the irresponsibility of others.

Forcing a medically dubious intervention on children cannot be “deserved” either individually — to get at the minority of irresponsible parents — or corporately, as a form of revenge on a nation that . . . has a really high rate of vaccination compared with peer nations. Unlike a sacrifice, it has no redemptive value; this intervention is just something that makes young kids feel unsafer at schools (and in the world) than they really are and which is unhygienic for the very young. This was not a decision forced on our public-health authorities by a badly behaved public. It was a needless and unjustified decision — taken in the face of what we know, and what we can reasonably speculate, having seen this wave peak and begin to fall in the United Kingdom.

Sports

When You Understand What Happened to Simone Biles, It Makes Sense

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U.S. gymnast Simone Biles in action on the vault during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2021. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

Today’s biggest sports news was U.S. gymnastics superstar Simone Biles withdrawing from the team competition. She says she will still plan to compete in the individual events. The individual events are the bigger prestige and payoff, so it is not unheard-of for a star to pull out if there is an injury scare during the team competition, but that alone is a lousy break for her teammates, who are left in the lurch.

Biles is physically 100 percent. Initial reports, even the more detailed explanation that Dominic Pino was working from this afternoon, suggested that Biles was just mentally stressed out, in part from the sky-high expectations. That seems inadequate, and I thought it sounded pretty lame when I heard it. Athletes have to walk it off and gut through injuries a lot. That’s true of mental as well as physical problems.

But in each case, there are things you can play through, and things you shouldn’t. Once I saw what her actual problem was, I understood. Biles got “lost in the air,” as you can see from the video:

It was even clearer on the full broadcast that Biles essentially fell prey to aerial disorientation — she lost track, in midair, of where the ground was. You could see it in her eyes when she walked off. Gymnasts, like pilots, can die from that — you land the wrong way, you break your neck. Like a baseball player who suddenly can’t stand in against a pitch, it’s a thing you can’t play through. You might get reoriented in practice, and hopefully Biles will. But she walked off and left the event because she simply could not go on. Critics piling on her based on the initial press reports should watch what actually happened and listen to veteran gymnasts before lighting her up.

VIEW GALLERY: Tokyo Olympics Highlights

20 Things That Caught My Eye Today: Med Schools Reject Biological Sex & More

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1. Katie Herzog : Med Schools Are Now Denying Biological Sex

“Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone. The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive.” 

His offense: using the term “pregnant women.” 

2. Stephanie Slade: Judges Say Web Design Is ‘Pure Speech’ and That the State Can Compel It Anyway

The wildest thing about the decision is that it says giving a conscience-based exemption to a web design firm would “necessarily relegate LGBT consumers to an inferior market because Appellants’ unique services are, by definition, unavailable elsewhere.” The fact that “LGBT consumers may be able to obtain wedding-website design services from other businesses” is irrelevant. “The product at issue is not merely ‘custom-made wedding websites,’ but rather ‘custom-made wedding websites of the same quality and nature as those made by Appellants.’ In that market, only Appellants exist.”

And she quotes our friend Ed Whelan. 

3.

4. New Bill Would Defund Public Universities That Provide On-Campus Abortions

“This abortion regime is dangerous for women,” Jeanne Mancini said, adding there are “psychological ramifications” to “being your own abortionist.” 

5. Chuck Donovan and Angelina B. Nguyen: U.S. abortion policy shouldn’t emulate China or North Korea. We should be more like Europe.

The question the court will face this fall is whether the Constitution allows any effective limit on abortion before the 1973 definition of viability (“usually placed at about seven months,” the Roe court said), though advances in science and medicine over the past 50 years continue to allow babies to survive outside the womb at a younger and younger age.

Mississippi lawmakers did not advance this law with the intention of achieving an international happy medium. Rather, legislators in Mississippi and in states across the country have passed abortion limits with the intent of recognizing the reality that human life exists in the womb. At 15 weeks, unborn children respond to touch, have fully functioning hearts that pump 26 quarts of blood per day, have the ability to feel pain, can suck their thumb and undergo lifesaving and life-altering treatment.

Full report from the Lozier Institute here

6.  Mary Margaret Olohan: Government Stimulus, Remote Work May Have Fueled A Baby Boom

“Conceptions plummeted during the lockdowns of March, April, and May, but as reopening began in June, conceptions rapidly normalized,” IFS researchers Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone reported. “Conventional stories about fertility don’t fit well here: employment was still extremely suppressed in the summer of 2020 and excess death rates were very high. It was not, in conventional terms, a good time to make a baby.”

Continue reading “20 Things That Caught My Eye Today: Med Schools Reject Biological Sex & More”

Media

Around the Media

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I had the pleasure of two great conversations recently. One was with our old friend Jonah Goldberg at The Remnant podcast this morning, talking about January 6 and where conservatives fit in the Republican future. The other was with Pete Turner and Joe Posnanski on the Break it Down Show podcast, discussing Posnanski’s forthcoming book on baseball’s 100 greatest players:

Elections

Larry Elder Is Heating Up the California Recall Vote

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Larry Elder at the 2016 FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nev. (Gage Skidmore)

Gavin Newsom’s reign of idiocy may be nearing an end. He exhibited grotesque displays of hypocrisy during his California lockdowns, when he held fancy dinner parties while Californians were forced out of work and onto the dole. He has overseen total mismanagement of Californian forestry, which has played a role in the worst wildfire seasons in state history. Under his regime, California has experienced record crime, homelessness, and drug deaths. Just this Monday, 80-year-old former U.S. senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) was attacked during daylight. Unfortunately, there were no “social workers” or “mental health workers” on the scene. California may have the highest income tax in the country, but the state’s budget surplus is not helping to address any of the problems faced by everyday residents. No, these problems don’t matter to Governor Newsom. Instead, he has decided to enact sanctuary-state policies. Instead, he has visited and promised to fix El Salvador. The most populous state in the union is truly in capable hands. 

It should come as no surprise that a potential disaster for the California Democratic Committee is brewing. While California may be a state of little political virtue, it is the only state in nearly a hundred years to successfully replace a governor via recall, when Gray Davis was replaced by none other than the Republican Terminator in 2003. Recent polling also indicates that Californians, likely voters in particular (47 percent), are growing more open to replacing Newsom. Republicans, despite making up barely a quarter of registered voters, amount to a third of all likely voters, which is a very good sign for turnout.

The shifting electoral landscape is also a cause for hope. Shockingly, a California judge has sided with radio pundit Larry Elder, and he has been added to the ballot. He has since rocketed into the front-runner position among challengers with a considerable lead, and his energized base may help catapult him to victory. It is also worth mentioning that, despite the disproportionate media coverage, only 3 percent of voters are interested in putting Caitlyn Jenner into office. Thank goodness. Who among anti-Newsom voters would seriously consider electing Jenner? 

Can you imagine the uproar if this succeeds? Gavin Newsom — the rich, white, progressive San Franciscan — defeated by Larry Elder, a hard-line black conservative who grew up in South Los Angeles. In California. The media would short-circuit. It would also provide an immense advantage in the 2022 midterm elections, should Republicans finally attain statewide office.

So keep up the great work, recallers, and get out and vote, California! Now is your best chance in a decade to finally attain some semblance of good governance. Enough is enough.

Culture

Why They Hate Ben Shapiro, and Us

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Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2018 Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Dallas, Texas. (Gage Skidmore)

Laura Miller of Slate recently had an interesting interview with Eric Nelson of Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. Broadside publishes conservative books within a major publishing house. A good deal of the interview is Nelson making his pitch to Slate’s liberal audience for why liberals should not want to use contract-canceling campaigns to drive conservative book-publishing entirely out of mainstream publishing and into an ideological ghetto of right-wing publishers. The conclusion of the interview talks about Ben Shapiro and why he is so hated:

Broadside publishes Ben Shapiro’s book. What has the response to that been?

His new book is called The Authoritarian Moment, discussing deplatforming. And he is a very well-known guy who is not going to be invited on anything mainstream. We already know all the media that could possibly be willing to have him. It would be nice to think that you could get him on a morning show, even for an unfriendly interview, and they’re just not going to do it because there’s not enough upside.

Plenty of people think Ben Shapiro shouldn’t be invited on any kind of show.

Exactly. Shapiro is thought of by the right as moderate in many ways, basically the way that maybe Ezra Klein is thought of on the left. But the difference is, if Ben and Ezra each decided to have each other on as guests, Ben’s audience would say, “Oh, man, you really showed it to Ezra!” And Ezra would lose 100 percent of his audience if he didn’t then spend at least two weeks on a listening tour of the people he had hurt and expressing profuse apologies for allowing Ben the platform of speaking with Ezra.

The left is continually saying, all these people over here are too far to the right. They’ve been carving those people off for so long that now they’re carving off Matt Yglesias and Glenn Greenwald. And the right is embracing them. Ben Shapiro is such a frequent target because he’s the farthest person to the right that the left is willing to pay attention to. So while there are people on, you know, Newsmax and OAN with far more controversial opinions, liberals would much rather go after someone fairly mainstream and conservative than someone pretty far to the right.

So what you’re saying is that people who are seen as fairly centrist in the world of conservatives tend to become the bêtes noires of the left media?

The more things you have in common with the left, the easier it is for them to find you and be mad at you.

I’m not sure “moderate” is exactly the right word here, but certainly Shapiro’s willingness to take a metric ton of flak for not being intellectually all-in for Donald Trump marks him as a different animal from, say, OAN. But Nelson’s point, especially his last line, applies more broadly, and not only to commentators as sharp-elbowed as Ben Shapiro. If you pay much attention to the Left’s pundit and intellectual class, the people they hate more than anyone — the targets that really raise their blood pressure — are conservatives who are educated, conservatives who are well-spoken and/or well-read, conservatives who speak the language of the upper middle class. In other words, the sorts of people who write at National Review. A lot of these folks have a deep-seated need to mock the idea that a conservative could ever be any of those things. You could see this, for example, in how much more viscerally many of them hated Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio than they ever hated Trump. Trump, after all, flatters their self-image; he presents a face of conservatism that marks conservatives as uninformed people with crude vocabularies who belong to a lower social class.  But anyone who threatens the idea that all the smart people know to be on our side, that is who really raises their ire.

Politics & Policy

Apparently David Chipman Isn’t Crazy About the First Amendment, Either

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David Chipman testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, September 25, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

So it turns out that Joe Biden’s anti-gun nominee for the ATF, David Chipman, also has problems with the First Amendment, telling BBC in 2019 (hat-tip to The Federalist) that there is “frustration” in the United States over “freedom of speech” and the ability of people “to say things is that largely cannot be regulated.”

No, not, “largely.” Words can’t be regulated, period.

Chipman, like most would-be censors, frames speech restrictions as a public-safety issue. “The FBI, other federal agencies, have a tough job responding to these threats when they don’t currently have the authority to remove weaponry just because people are saying hateful things,” he explained.

First off, thousands of Americans have had their guns taken from them via red-flag and other laws — usually after police and courts determine that the owners are putting themselves or others in danger. Just today, Florida’s agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried stripped the concealed-carry licenses of 22 people who have yet to be convicted of any crime. Authorities already have too much leeway in limiting Second Amendment rights.

Most mass shooters offer few, if any, clues about their plans. Most of them don’t even have a criminal record. Even if they had, there’s a big difference between threatening imminent violence and saying “hateful” things. Yet, Chipman seems to believe that cops, using their “precrime” clairvoyance, should be empowered to unilaterally determine what constitutes “hate speech” before seizing guns from people who have done nothing illegal — an authoritarian twofer.

There’s of surplus of historical evidence demonstrating why such power should never be afforded the state. And one need only listen to Chipman conflate conservatism and “white supremacy” — and exaggerate the prevalence of gun violence and domestic terrorism — during his BBC interview to understand how quickly that power would be abused.

Maybe I’m an outlier on this issue, but I’ve gone my entire life without ever feeling “frustrated” about the right of others to publicly express opinions — even reprehensible ones. It’s not as if they’re going to stop believing or feeling stupid things simply because the ATF director threatens them. Of course, Chipman is free to believe whatever he likes, as well. It’s appalling, however, that someone with such disdain for the Constitution has been nominated for a position that is charged with upholding the law.