World

Putin’s Conscription Fiasco

Loading...
Russian law enforcement officers detain a person during a rally after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, September 24, 2022. (Reuters Photographer)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The call-up of hundreds of thousands of Russian “reservists” is not going well.

Protests have erupted in recent days in the region of Dagestan, and elsewhere, over Vladimir Putin’s conscription decree, with videos showing women demanding answers from police and crowds clashing with the authorities. Russians have gone beyond protesting to attack recruitment offices. Thousands have been arrested across the country since last week.

The Economist, in explaining Putin’s predicament, noted that the Russian dictator could not order “mass conscription” without threatening his own regime, and so he opted for the “partial mobilization” of roughly 300,000 troops. Yet 300,000 appears to be significant enough to have sparked a new backlash against his war, and the social-media amplification of forlorn scenes of young men being called to fight gives the impression of mass conscription all the same. Reports indicate that the real number of troops sought could be higher and that even men without military experience have been ordered to fight. Penalties for not complying are severe.

The class divide is making it worse: As videos emerge of angry recruits arguing with officers and of families giving tearful goodbyes, the New York Times reports that those with certain white-collar jobs will be spared. “Stories like this can only fuel that swirling discontent that might eventually induce the Russian street to rise up over the unfairness of this situation and threaten Putin’s regime,” Mark Antonio Wright notes. The mobilization rollout has gone so poorly for the Kremlin that Putin this week did a thing he never does. Here’s Mark, again:

Putin was today forced to admit “mistakes” — not his, of course! — during Russia’s mobilization, telling a televised meeting of the security council that “those who were called up without proper reason should be returned home.” As has been widely reported, the Kremlin’s commissars were drafting completely untrained or ineligible men into the army when, at least officially, they were only supposed to be calling up reservists, men who already had military training. The fact that Putin was forced to admit error here goes to show the breadth of the anger that was touched off by the incompetence of Russia’s very Russian mobilization.

Other indicators speak to the palpable resistance inside Russia to the war, or at least to the mobilization. In the aftermath of Putin’s announcement, demand surged for flights out of Russia, especially to destinations where Russians don’t need a visa. “How to leave Russia” was a top Google search. Tens of thousands of men reportedly have fled. Peter Spiliakos wrote on NRO that Putin is paying a price, in many ways, for his Ukraine campaign; he cited the mobilization as another sign of how events have turned against him:

This was a step that Putin had resisted taking for six months, until the successful Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv area forced his hand. It was also an admission that his professional military of contract soldiers has failed. From now on, more and more of the Russian fighting and dying will be done by troops who had refused to join up for reasons of either patriotism or money until now, and more and more of the mourning will be done by the families of those same Russian conscripts. It’s not hard to see why Putin resisted such a mobilization for so long.

Conscription may solve Putin’s manpower problem, somewhat. It creates more domestic political problems. While Putin was busy granting citizenship to Edward Snowden and possibly or possibly not bombing the Nord Stream pipeline this week, his country was turning into a tinderbox. He shows no compunction about cracking down on dissent, and, as this piece in Politico Magazine notes, autocracies are stubborn things even in the face of draft protests. But a rushed and rowdy conscription could fuel an equally ineffective effort to turn the tide in the war, thus emboldening the opposition further. In another inauspicious sign of how it’s going, prominent Putin critic Bill Browder tweeted a photo purportedly showing a list sent to draftees asking them to supply their own gear.

Since February, Putin has visited horror after horror upon Ukraine. His “partial mobilization” visits horror upon more ordinary Russians. The rank-and-file appear to realize this. The New York Times just published audio of intercepted calls Russian soldiers made to family and friends. They complain about their mission and their commanders, and the slaughter they’re being ordered to carry out. “Putin is a fool.” “F*** the army.” “They gave us the order to kill everyone we see.” “The stupidest decision our government ever made.” “We were f***ing fooled like little kids.”

These were from March. Imagine what those phone calls sound like today.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

The protest movement in Iran deserves unfettered American support, and the regime unfettered condemnation: The Butchers of Iran

We are shocked, shocked that Manchin’s “deal” with Schumer didn’t work out: Joe Manchin Did Not Get Played on Permitting Reform

A Republican governor in Oregon? It’s not out of the question: Oregon’s Republican Hope

ARTICLES

Jimmy Quinn: Taiwan Has Ruled Out Wet Market as Covid Origin, Official Says

Jimmy Quinn: Amazon Provides Cloud Technology for a Chinese Military Company

Charles C. W. Cooke: The Case for Dismantling the FBI

Will Swaim: California Über Alles?

Rich Lowry: Democratic Trans Hypocrisy Is Cynical and Dishonest

Senator John Barrasso: Biden’s Political Abuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Pradheep J. Shanker: Fetal Heartbeats Are a Scientific Fact

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Giorgia Meloni’s Election Isn’t about ‘Fascism’

Diana Glebova: Lawyer for Pro-Life Protester Arrested by FBI Says Client Offered to Surrender, Claims DOJ Trying to ‘Intimidate People of Faith’

Ryan Mills: ‘Clearly Illegal’: Pfizer Stockholders Demand Company Stop Discriminating in the Name of Diversity

Brittany Bernstein: Mandela Barnes’s Soft-on-Crime History May Haunt Him in Wisconsin Senate Race

Caroline Downey: National Math Conference Trains Teachers to Push Anti-Racism, Social Justice in Classrooms

Nate Hochman: Federal Judge Vows to Stop Hiring Law Clerks from Yale Law School

Jack Butler: Justice Alito’s Call to Action

CAPITAL MATTERS

Here’s Dominic Pino, with more bad economic news (don’t blame the messenger): Transportation Woes Warn of Recession

And one more from Dominic, on why you should hate the Jones Act too: Biden’s Support for the Jones Act Illustrates His Economic Incoherence

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

“How was such a dishonest film ever green-lighted?” Armond White wants to know: Don’t Trust Don’t Worry Darling

FROM THE NEW, OCTOBER 17, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Andrew Stuttaford: How Europe Invited Its Energy Crisis

Christine Rosen: Kamala Harris Finds Her Level of Incompetence

Michael Brendan Dougherty: DeSantis Is Painting Florida Red

Ryan Mills: The Herschel Walker Wager

Luther Ray Abel: The Great Partisan Divide, in Dairyland     

YOU LOOK LIKE YOU COULD USE SOME EXCERPTS

Christine Rosen diagnoses the problem that is the veep, in the newest issue of NR:

In late August, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it had to cancel the launch of its Artemis I rocket. A spokesperson for the space agency told the Associated Press that the delay had been caused by a “cascade of problems culminating in unexplained engine trouble.”

Substitute “political trouble” for “engine trouble” and you would have an apt description of the vice presidency of Kamala Harris, who was at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch as chairwoman of the National Space Council. It was yet another missed opportunity for Harris to look competent and statesmanlike.

Some of her previous, more disastrous efforts to do so include “Get Curious with Vice President Harris,” a video in which she meets with children to mark World Space Week. “Momala” (as Harris styles herself on Twitter) tries to turn on the charm, but even the hired child actors can’t feign enthusiasm for her stilted efforts to connect. It looks like a hostage video. 

Harris’s efforts at public speaking have been similarly torturous: At a speech in Louisiana in March, she rambled about “the significance of the passage of time,” repeating the phrase four times while failing to say anything of substance. In another speech at a climate summit, she claimed, “We will work together, to address these issues, to tackle these challenges, and to work together as we continue to work operating from the new norms, rules, and agreements that we will convene to work together on to galvanize global action.” Somehow her public performances always end up sounding like they were delivered by glitchy AI. 

Kamala Harris ranks among the worst vice presidents in modern memory, with historically low approval ratings. How did this happen? She was supposed to be the perfect liberal hero: a woman of color with experience as a prosecutor, a state attorney general, and a U.S. senator. Having been picked as a running mate and an energetic counterpart to the ageing Joe Biden, she was determined not to fade into the background of what early on was promoted as the “Biden-Harris administration.” 

But Harris’s seemingly perfect identity-politics résumé is perhaps the main reason she has proven to be unsuited to the task. Having risen to power in deep-blue California, she has rarely been seriously criticized or forced to defend herself to voters or colleagues who weren’t already on her side. As a result, she has never had to develop the charisma, persuasiveness, and eloquence of a successful politician. She was chosen as VP only after Biden had dramatically narrowed his criteria by declaring he would choose a woman of color for the position. When pressed in interviews to explain something, Harris often retreats to her identity. Asked on 60 Minutes whether she brought a socialist or progressive perspective to the Democratic ticket, a clearly annoyed Harris said: “It is the perspective of — of a woman who grew up a black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India. Who also, you know, likes hip-hop. Like, what do you wanna know?”

ICYMI, John McCormack and Brittany Bernstein debuted a new midterm-campaign newsletter this week, the Horse Race, which you can and should check out here. They look at the Wisconsin Senate race and much more — and Brittany breaks off a separate deep dive on that race here:

U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes’s history of being soft on crime as Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor could prove a defining factor in a close race against incumbent senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.).

Barnes has come under fire in recent weeks over reports that his campaign did not actually receive endorsements from two law-enforcement officers, as he previously claimed. One day after a La Crosse County sheriff’s captain denied endorsing the Democrat, a second sheriff’s office official from Racine County came forward saying the campaign made a “mistake” in including him on the endorsement list as well.

The lieutenant governor’s attempts to tout support from law enforcement come as his opponent has repeatedly sought to bring Barnes’s cloudy past on the “defund the police” movement to light.

Barnes officially came out against defunding the police in January. Yet Heather Smith from Wisconsin’s John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy says Barnes is trying to rewrite history and “gaslight” the public on the issue.

Barnes, whose campaign has received funding from five groups that support defunding the police, tweeted in July 2020: “Defunding the police only dreams of being as radical as a Donald Trump pardon.”

Jimmy Quinn (who is in Taiwan right now, and whose work on the trip can be found here) digs up disturbing details about Amazon’s China ties:

Amazon’s business relationships with two Chinese surveillance giants, Hikvision and Dahua, may violate a law prohibiting federal contractors from doing business with certain Chinese firms, a joint investigation by National Review and IPVM, a surveillance and security research group, reveals. While lawmakers are calling out these practices, Amazon has defended them and maintains that it is in full compliance with the law.

Specifically, the Seattle-based tech giant might be running afoul of a provision in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act barring contracts with firms that use certain Chinese surveillance hardware or software. One potentially significant issue is that Amazon Web Services simultaneously provides cloud Internet services to the U.S. National Security Agency and Hikvision, which the U.S. government designated as a Chinese military-industrial complex company last year.

“Facing a clear threat to federal networks, Congress drew a line in the sand for its contractors: if you do business with Hikvision or Dahua, you can’t do business with the federal government,” said Conor Healy, IPVM’s director of government research. “Amazon seems determined to do the opposite. It is actively facilitating and incubating the very threat Congress sought to mitigate.”

Even absent the NDAA ban, enforcement of which is spotty, the record of the two Chinese surveillance firms — neither of which responded to NR’s requests for comment — should be cause for concern. In 2019, Hikvision and Dahua were both blacklisted by the Commerce Department for their extensive work with the authorities in Xinjiang, as the Chinese Communist Party built out a sophisticated police state to systematically target ethnic minorities in the region.

Dahua sells cameras that can identify Uyghur faces, with an alarm that goes off when they are in view. The company characterizes this as a smart-policing feature to detect “real-time Uyghur warnings” and “hidden terrorist inclinations.” Hikvision, in addition to providing cameras used in Xinjiang prison camps, sells “tiger chair” torture and interrogation systems, among other things. Hikvision also has a well-documented relationship with the Chinese military, providing the People’s Liberation Army air force with drone jammers, and pitching its technology as key to improving missile and tank systems.

Nate Hochman delivered a scoop this week in the college-campus-cancel-culture wars:

Judge James C. Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit announced Thursday that he would no longer be hiring law clerks from Yale Law School and urged other judges to follow suit. In a keynote address to the Kentucky Chapters Conference of the Federalist Society, titled “Agreeing to Disagree — Restoring America by Resisting Cancel Culture,” Ho cited a number of high-profile examples of speakers being shouted down or otherwise censored at law schools across the country but singled out Yale Law as “one particular law school where cancellations and disruptions seem to occur with special frequency.”

“Yale not only tolerates the cancellation of views — it actively practices it,” Ho said, according to prepared remarks exclusively obtained by National Review. “Starting today, I will no longer hire law clerks from Yale Law School. And I hope that other judges will join me as well.”

Ho has made waves in the past for his outspoken criticisms of left-wing campus culture. In February, in the wake of Georgetown Law’s suspension of Ilya Shapiro, the judge surprised the audience at a Federalist Society–organized event on Georgetown Law’s campus by giving a resounding defense of Shapiro during a speech that was initially intended to be about originalism. At the time, Ho acknowledged that he “was scheduled to talk” about originalism but said he’d “decided . . . to spend my time today talking about Ilya Shapiro.” In those remarks, which garnered significant public attention, Ho delivered blistering criticism of the campus attitudes that had led to Shapiro’s ouster, arguing that “cancel culture is not just antithetical to our constitutional culture and our American culture,” but “to the very legal system that each of you seeks to join,” and declared: “If Ilya Shapiro is deserving of cancellation, then you should go ahead and cancel me too.”

Ho’s half-hour address to the Kentucky Federalist Society conference sounded similar notes, arguing that “all too often, law schools appear to be run by the mob — whether out of sympathy or spinelessness.”

Honorable Mentions

• National Review Institute honored Larry Kudlow and Young America’s Foundation at the Buckley Prize dinner in Simi Valley, Calif., earlier this week. You can catch up on how it all went down, thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez’s dispatch. (And you can catch Kudlow on David Bahnsen’s Capital Record podcast here.)

• The successor to Mad Dogs & Englishmen is now fully operational. The Charles C. W. Cooke Podcast rolled out Episode One this week, starring . . . well, that part might be obvious. Even under threat of hurricane, Charlie managed to bring the new thing to the Internet. Listen in, as he explains the format, interviews author Troy Senik on Grover Cleveland, and talks baseball with Dan McLaughlin.

• Some new books of note are hitting the shelves: Fred Lucas, over at the Daily Signal, is out with The Myth of Voter Suppression: The Left’s Assault on Clean Elections; for a taste, see the adapted excerpt we ran at NRO last weekend. And a former colleague and boss (well, boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s . . . he was a Fox jefe), John Moody, is out with a new novel, The World We Wish, a timely thriller about modern China, the metaverse, Uyghur persecution, AI, and other assorted uplifting things.

Shout-Outs

Armin Rosen, at Tablet: A Hate Crime a Day Keeps the DOJ Away

A. B. Stoddard, at RealClearPolitics: Are Progressives Nearing a Reckoning With Their Party?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, at UnHerd: What Western feminists can learn from Iran

CODA

Dan recently wrote about the new Creedence documentary, which makes me think about how another country could use a culturally overpowering war-protest movement, today. “Fortunate Son” must capture what the non-elite Russians being called from the countryside to the front lines of a pointless war must be thinking. They ain’t no senator’s son.

White House

The Magnificent Meaninglessness of Biden Administration Rhetoric

Loading...
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, D.C., September 13, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

A week has passed since the president of the United States ended the pandemic, committed U.S. forces to defend Taiwan from China, and assured us that inflation is basically fine.

Feel that? The oppressive burden of uncertainty lifting? Me neither.

The weight of the president’s words is on a reliable course toward helium’s. As Jim Geraghty observes, his statements and his administration policies frequently “are no more than distant cousins,” and the disconnect was made all the more clear the last few days as the above pronouncements amounted to nil IRL. The loosey-goosey loquacity that made Joe Biden a model senator turns out to have hurt his effectiveness as a head of state. His words take up space, they kill time, they parry the occasional tough question — but they are footnotes in his own presidency, while events fill the chapters. His statements don’t pass muster with administration staff, let alone voters.

Biden said Sunday on 60 Minutes, for the fourth time, that the U.S. would send American troops to defend Taiwan if China attacks. As before, White House staff walked it back and said U.S. policy (which reflects no such commitment) has not changed. A Biden official then denied this amounted to a contradiction and claimed the administration has shown consistency.

More trademark consistency: Biden said on the same program that the pandemic is over. Charles C. W. Cooke quickly pointed out that the declaration undermined the administration’s stated legal justification for mass student-debt relief. He wasn’t the only one to notice. The Washington Post editorial board countered:

Mr. Biden has not ended the official pandemic emergency. When the official emergency ends, some 15 million will lose Medicaid coverage; the reason for a student loan repayment pause will end; the rationale for Trump-era border restrictions, still held in place by a court, will disappear. All this policy transition must not be done carelessly or hastily.

It so happens many of us here agree with the president’s statement, in the sense that the period of official emergency should be over. But elected Democrats don’t actually want that, and, indeed, Biden did not move to convert his words into actions. His press secretary instead clarified on MSNBC that the president was merely trying to convey we’re “in a different time” now that the pandemic is “more manageable.”

If Biden runs again, Charlie offers a winning slogan: “Joe Biden 2024: He Didn’t Really Mean That.”

Biden had also described, in Dominic Pino’s characterization, an alternate universe on the economy. While justifiably touting job creation, Biden downplayed inflation, on the grounds that the month-over-month figure did not surge in August (it was 8.3 percent on an annual basis, similar to July’s reading).

“It’s the highest inflation rate, Mr. President, in 40 years,” Scott Pelley pointed out.

“I got that. But guess what we are? We’re in a position where for the last several months it hasn’t spiked . . . it’s been basically even,” Biden replied.

I feel your pain, meet: Your pain is imaginary.

Don’t expect these assurances to change much in the way of public perceptions about the economy, or the underlying reality. Karine Jean-Pierre clarified in the same MSNBC interview that the administration understands how people feel and then touted as an all-fronts panacea the Inflation Reduction Act, the law analysts say has an impact on inflation statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

That President Biden’s staff routinely clean up for him, and sometimes muddy the waters further, isn’t new. Dan McLaughlin noted back in June that the walk-back is becoming the patented dance move of this administration. Biden might say what he thinks, but his tolerance of the mop-up conveys how serious he is about it. He’s also saying things, for instance on the deficit, that aren’t true, without intervention from staff.

Nor should we be shocked. Biden, despite his lemme-give-it-to-you-straight persona, historically has struggled to iron out the fabulist folds whilst giving it to us. His predecessor was worse, having normalized the idea of the post-truth president whose words are subject to insta-revision — indeed, having made this attitude the model for a new generation of Republican office-seekers. “We’ve now had successive presidencies of policy vacillation and inconstancy,” Buckley Fellow Luther Ray Abel laments.

But the words of the U.S. president should carry weight. When they don’t, it augurs real trouble. Reporter Hedrick Smith, in 1988’s The Power Game, wrote that credibility and trust are the most important qualities “in the intangible chemistry of power,” above the yardsticks of money and people. Without them, the ability to persuade others disappears. “[Credibility] lies at the heart of political authority,” Smith concluded.

And so the power vacuum in Washington grows.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

The governor of Virginia, with a new education-department policy, says what needed to be said: Youngkin Gets in the Fight

The House has acted; the Senate should go next: Time for the Senate to Vote on Electoral Count Act Reform

ARTICLES

Dan McLaughlin: The Pollster Who Thinks It’s Happening Again for Republicans

Charles C. W. Cooke: Elizabeth Warren Is Trump in Professor’s Clothing

Andrew McCarthy: Trump Concedes Possible Indictment

Rich Lowry: What’s Wrong with Illegal Immigrants?

Jack Fowler: Antisemitism Runs Amok at CUNY as Teachers Fight for Janus Rights

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Who’s Using Whom in the Migrant Wars?

Caroline Downey: Inside Student Activists’ Cancel Campaign against a Youngkin Appointee to UVA Board

Jim Geraghty: The World Loses a Good One in Greg Pollowitz

Diana Glebova: Father Arrested for Protesting Daughter’s Rape in Loudoun School ‘Relieved’ after Democratic Prosecutor Dismissed

Senator Todd Young: In England and in America, It’s Time for the Next Generation of Conservatives to Step Up

Ryan Mills: Wastewater, Not Climate, Fueled Massive Algae Bloom in ‘Epicenter of Supposed Environmentalism’

Jimmy Quinn: U.S. Diplomats Required to ‘Advance’ DEI to Receive Promotions

Mark Antonio Wright: What Would a Russian Mobilization Look Like?

Jerry Hendrix: Putin Approaches the Nuclear Red Line

CAPITAL MATTERS

Kevin Hassett provides the roadmap for stagflation (depressing contextual note — we’re at Step 6 now): The Ten Steps of Stagflation

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White, with the review you’ve been waiting for: The Woman King Is Bad News

Even art critics sometimes reconsider their own opinions. Brian Allen does so as it pertains to a long-cherished institution — don’t miss the quoted passage toward the end: Is the Clark Art Institute the Latest Anti-Art Museum?

Dan strongly recommends the Creedence doc, a tribute to the band whose songs “sounded as if they’d always existed”: The Most American Band

EXCERPTS ON DEMAND AND AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Does the name Trafalgar ring a bell? It’s the polling firm that’s put out some heterodox — and often accurate — readings of voter sentiments in recent years. Dan McLaughlin talks to its founder about his 2022 data reflecting a big year for Republicans:

One pollster who has dissented from the pack since 2016 remains bullish on Republican fortunes and skeptical of his competitors: Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar. As I and others at National Review have detailed previously, Trafalgar has racked up a string of polling successes in recent years by talking to the very sorts of voters that other pollsters have missed, many of whom have responded to Trump and Trumpish candidates.

Trafalgar was ahead of the curve in Virginia in 2021, and alone in seeing a tight race in New Jersey in 2021. In 2020, even when Trafalgar got the outcome wrong in projecting narrow Trump victories in some states, his forecasts were often closer to the result than competitors who projected comfortable wins for Biden in states that Biden carried by his fingernails. Trafalgar has also turned in strong performances in this year’s Republican primary polls. There are no infallible oracles in the businesses of polling or poll analysis, as anyone could tell you from the ups and downs of the careers of John Zogby, Nate Silver, and Sam Wang. Trafalgar has had the occasional clunker, such as projecting a tight race in the 2021 California recall well after other pollsters showed it breaking hard for Gavin Newsom. The very nature of polling counsels us that even the best polling methodology will sometimes produce outliers. But, as is true of analysts such as Silver or Sean Trende, Trafalgar’s track record commands respect, especially compared with pollsters who have faced persistent problems and not corrected themFiveThirtyEight, which gave high marks to Trafalgar for its accuracy in 2020, currently gives the firm an A- rating for polls conducted within 21 days of an election, ahead of the vast majority of pollsters rated.

Trafalgar is out on a limb once again, projecting good news for Republicans across the board compared with what other pollsters are reporting. . . .

My natural skepticism of too much good news from a single source leads me to ask: Is this for real? So, I caught up with Cahaly and asked why he’s getting different results from other pollsters. His answer is straightforward: Polling is broken, it is not contacting a representative sample of Americans, and other pollsters aren’t doing enough to fix it.

The Bay Area might not be walking the walk on environmentalism. Ryan Mills reports:

It was late July when San Francisco Bay Area residents first grew concerned: The water in a channel near Oakland was turning a murky, tea-colored brown.

Scientists in the region tested the water and found a bloom of algae, Heterosigma akashiwo, that causes a form of what is known as “red tide.” By the end of August, the bloom had spread throughout San Francisco Bay. Observers who flew over the bay saw that most of the water had turned a reddish brown. And then came the fish kills: dead sharks, sturgeon, stiped bass, minnows, and other sea life washed up and covered local shores.

The algae bloom was the worst in the San Francisco Bay in almost two decades.

Warm water is typically one of the key ingredients algae blooms need to grow, so many people likely assumed that scientists, environmental activists, and mainstream media outlets would point at climate change as the primary cause of the San Francisco Bay bloom. But that’s not the case. In a report earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed that what fueled the bloom was not a mystery, and it wasn’t the warm weather. Rather, the bloom was fueled by excessive nutrients in the wastewater, or effluent, pumped into the bay by the region’s 37 sewage plants.

“Either you’re treating the effluent to standards that are safe for the receiving waters or you’re not. It doesn’t have anything to do with the climate. Either you have working infrastructure or you don’t. You’re either overflowing raw sewage or you aren’t,” said Kristi Diener, a California clean water advocate, who is also an advocate for the state’s farmers and ranchers.

Diener said the algae bloom and the fish kills, which have since dissipated, caused the Bay Area’s eight million residents and its leaders to wake up to the long-brewing problem. San Francisco Bay has among the highest nutrient levels of any bay or estuary in the world.

“The irony is this is happening in the epicenter of supposed environmentalism,” she said.

Diana Glebova details developments in the disturbing case out of Loudoun County that has received national attention:

Scott Smith was arrested in Loudoun County last year after confronting members of the local school board about his daughter’s assault in a school bathroom by a male student who was wearing a skirt at the time. Smith was charged with disorderly conduct after resisting arrest, and has been appealing for months to have Democratic prosecutor Buta Biberaj removed from his case on the grounds that the prosecutor can’t be impartial, since she initially let his daughter’s rapist go free, allowing him to assault another girl at the school he was transferred to.

Smith was “relieved” to hear that Biberaj, who “seemed to want to make his case into a political prosecution,” was replaced by a special prosecutor last week, his lawyer, Bill Stanley, told National Review.

Biberaj had pushed for Smith to serve a longer jail sentence, and asked that he receive mandatory anger management training and pay a fine. Biberaj had previously campaigned against mass incarcerations, but wanted Smith to have an “active jail sentence . . . as part of his punishment,” according to Stanley.

Biberaj also participated in a Facebook doxxing group that exposed parents “who stood up to the school board against the dangerous policies that they were trying to pass,” Stanley added, saying those policies “resulted in the harm that happened to Mr. Smith’s daughter.”

After Biberaj’s dismissal, Smith’s “faith in the judicial system and his belief that he can get a fair trial has been restored,” Stanley added, noting that Smith “is confident” that he will be found not guilty, and that “this has been a political prosecution from the very beginning.”

Biberaj did not respond to National Review when asked if she believed her actions were indicative of a conflict of interest that would prevent her from handling Smith’s case in an impartial manner.

Andrew McCarthy flags an interesting turn in the Trump case:

Former president Donald Trump has acknowledged that he could be indicted for mishandling classified information. The concession came in a letter his counsel submitted Monday evening to Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master appointed to conduct a privilege review of documents seized by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Trump has been cornered into admitting his criminal exposure because of an issue he has gratuitously raised: the claim that he declassified the documents bearing classification markings that he retained at Mar-a-Lago. Dearie, a senior federal judge in Brooklyn who was appointed last Thursday by Florida federal judge Aileen Cannon, has directed Trump to provide details.

Publicly, Trump has insisted that he declassified the documents. Yet he did not provide an affidavit to that effect in the lawsuit he filed seeking the special master. Clearly concerned about being accused of misleading the court, Trump’s lawyers have taken pains not to make a positive claim of declassification. Nevertheless, they have intimated that the documents may not be classified.

Shout-Outs

Batya Ungar-Sargon, at UnHerd: America doesn’t want a civil war

Suzy Weiss, at Common Sense (more on this here):  ‘Crime Is a Construct’: My Morning With the Park Slope Panthers

Lara Korte & Jeremy B. White, at Politico: Rising homelessness is tearing California cities apart

Caleb Davis, at Reuters: Flights out of Russia sell out after Putin orders partial call-up

CODA

“And now for something completely different.” Kevin Antonio writes in with a bowl of ear candy, a poppy, hooky little number called “What’s Your Sign?” by California band the Hot Toddies. The bubblegum jaunt conjures scenes of beaches and tiny umbrellas, just as summer fades; it also sounds like it belongs in a Tarantino film, to me. It’s okay to like it.  

Thanks for reading.

World

Putin’s Next Move

Loading...
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the State Council Presidium on the development of the national tourism industry in Vladivostok, Russia, September 6, 2022. (Sputnik/Valeriy Sharifulin/Pool via Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

“Revisionist powers that start to worry that they are peaking . . . sometimes do some fairly rash things.”

Hal Brands, at Johns Hopkins, issued this warning during a think-tank talk last month promoting his new book on China with Michael Beckley. Their premise is that rising powers are most dangerous when events turn against them and they see their window of opportunity narrow, and that we are witnessing such a moment. Brands loosely applied the description to Russia as well.

Ukraine’s ground-gaining counteroffensive over the past week certainly raises the question of what a cornered dictator, seeing his chance to assert hemispheric dominance fade, might do. As Jim Geraghty observed, “A Russia that is utterly defeated in Ukraine is a wounded dog — desperate, angry, irrational, and capable of lashing out in unpredictable ways that could turn out badly for everyone.”

This is not to suggest we do anything less than celebrate Ukraine’s hard-won gains and pray for a swift and complete victory — one that deters Vladimir Putin from future revanchist adventures and encourages him to while away his twilight years at a Black Sea dacha with aging lieutenants whom he forces to let him win at Risk. Jim’s point is that the West should take nothing for granted and prepare for anything — from Putin’s possible use of tactical nukes or other unconventional weapons, to an all-out energy war against Europe.

Rising criticism on Russian media from pro-war factions, a byproduct of the Ukrainians’ battlefield momentum, presents another destabilizing force inside the country. The BBC’s man in Moscow detailed the pressure emanating from hawkish circles, cautioning against any confident predictions of Putin’s plans and noting, “The Russian president rarely admits to making mistakes. And he rarely makes U-turns.”

From NR’s editorial:

What comes next will be critical. The long history of warfare has shown that an army is at its most vulnerable in retreat. The Russians find themselves at a moment of crisis. . . .

Rumors are swirling of dissatisfaction in the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s credibility rests on his aura of competence and the propaganda of Russian victory. Gambling to save face, he may not follow the most prudent course of action. But battlefield defeat could reveal Putin’s regime to be very brittle indeed.

Whatever the Russians do, the path forward for America is clear. We must redouble our efforts to support a Ukrainian army with a demonstrable will to fight and that has once again proved itself capable of taking the war to the enemy. We must warn Moscow — in public and private — that tactical nuclear weapons would foreclose Moscow’s options and the West’s ability to negotiate, and would amount to an enormously dangerous gambit whose result cannot be foreseen. And the Biden administration must make clear to wobbly Europeans that they cannot allow a weakened Kremlin — armed only with energy hostage-taking and nuclear saber-rattling — to bully them into surrendering.

Robert Zubrin has similar advice, writing that Putin “must not be given the time” to essentially raise a new army. As for what this year’s still-fresh history has taught us, Rich Lowry concludes it’s that there’s no substitute for hard power, which America has helped provide:

Ukraine’s cause hasn’t gotten any more just or inspiring over the last couple of months; it’s gotten better armed.

Ukraine couldn’t win a straight-up artillery fight with the Russians, and in fact it was losing one in a grinding war of attrition. A HIMARS, or high-mobility artillery rocket system, versus artillery fight, though, is a different matter.

There may be no way to predict what Putin will do next — making the best course of action to limit his options as much as possible.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

A thorough recounting of how the Ukrainians gained the upper hand: The Tide Turns in Ukraine

California is doing it wrong: The Left’s Power Shortage

NR’s editorial on Senator Lindsey Graham’s abortion proposal generated robust internal debate. The editorial is here; dissents can be found here, here, and here; and a concurrence, of sorts, can be found here, as well as here.

ARTICLES

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Question for DeSantis

Yuval Levin: The Constitution and National Unity

Kenin Spivak: The Biden Administration Is Engaged in a Massive Censorship Campaign

Nate Hochman: The GOP Race for House Majority Whip Heats Up

Nate Hochman: America Really Is an Outlier on Abortion

Brittany Bernstein: Democratic Kansas Governor Makes ‘No Apologies’ for School Lockdowns after Teachers’ Union Endorsements

Ryan Mills: The Right’s Answer to the ACLU Takes on Leftist Racial Discrimination

Charles C. W. Cooke: Biden Can’t Pretend Inflation Away

Dan McLaughlin: The Shape-Shifting Evan McMullin

Caroline Downey: Morse Concedes to MAGA Army Vet Don Bolduc in New Hampshire GOP Senate Primary

Jay Nordlinger: Ukraine and the Right

Isaac Schorr: Atlantic Writer Angers Museum Curator with ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Unethical’ Inquiry

CAPITAL MATTERS

Joel Zinberg breaks down how Covid is driving historic declines in longevity: Life Expectancy in the Covid Era

The inflation report doesn’t get any better on closer inspection. From Jack Salmon: Under the Hood, August’s Inflation Numbers Are Ugly

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White breaks down the “making history” trope: Making and Breaking Emmy History

Dan McLaughlin, from downtown, with the fact-check: The Woman King and the Real History of Dahomey

Brian Allen looks for silver linings at a New York show (and has a bit of fun with emojis): Nice Art If You Can Find It at New York’s Armory Show

FROM THE NEW, OCTOBER 3, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

John McCormack: If the Dems Win It All

Matthew Continetti: The Woke and the Restless

Ari Schulman: The Dirty War over Covid

John O’Sullivan: The Queen Lays Down Her Burden

Madeleine Kearns: Truss Takes Office, a New Era in British Politics Begins

WE’VE INCLUDED SOME WRITING SAMPLES

The new issue of NR is out, and you’ll want to read, among other offerings, the features by Continetti and McCormack on the possibility of a Democratic upset in the midterms, and its implications. I quote from the latter’s:

One-party Democratic control of the federal government — unchecked by the Senate filibuster and West Virginia senator Joe Manchin — is now an unlikely but plausible outcome of the November elections. And it’s time to start taking seriously what the consequences of that election outcome would be for the country on a wide array of issues in 2023 and beyond. . . .

With a House majority and 52 Senate seats, Democrats would have the votes to gut the Senate’s legislative filibuster — the long-standing 60-vote rule for passing most legislation. They would no longer need to seek bipartisan support on any matter, and they would no longer be constrained by the moderating influence of Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Without needing the votes of Manchin and Sinema, “we could repeal the filibuster and then pass Roe v. Wade into law, voting rights into law,” Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren told me recently in the Capitol. “We can get universal child care, tax reform, and more-meaningful gun-safety regulation. . . . Fairer taxes, like the wealth tax on the very richest, become a real possibility.”

The moderate credentials of Manchin and Sinema are somewhat exaggerated. They both voted for the $2 trillion “Covid relief” bill passed in March 2021 — after the pandemic shutdowns were mostly over and vaccines were available — which is widely recognized to have exacerbated inflation. And Manchin inked a deal with Chuck Schumer to spend an extra $600 billion on Obamacare subsidies and green-energy subsidies in the “Inflation Reduction Act,” which will not reduce inflation. But Manchin and Sinema have constrained the Democratic agenda in some meaningful ways. As Manchin correctly pointed out in December, the real ten-year cost of the Democrats’ House-passed “Build Back Better” social-welfare bill is $4.5 trillion. So the rest of Build Back Better — the extra $3.9 trillion in spending Manchin and Sinema stopped in 2022 — is probably the minimum that Democrats would pass in 2023 if they held the House and picked up a seat or two in the Senate. How much farther Democrats would go beyond Build Back Better on spending and taxes would depend on the willingness of senators to the left of Manchin and Sinema to pump the brakes on the full Bernie Sanders budget.

Senate Democrats wouldn’t even need to scrap the filibuster to spend that extra $4 trillion — they could do it under existing rules with a simple majority — but they have made it clear they would get rid of the 60-vote rule if they held 52 Senate seats and a House majority in 2023. In January 2022, every Senate Democrat but Sinema and Manchin voted to override Senate rules in an attempt to pass a sweeping voting bill with a simple majority. Now, congressional Democrats and President Biden are campaigning on scrapping the Senate filibuster to enact a radical federal abortion bill. It’s simply untenable for Democrats to carve out exceptions in two areas of policy without effectively doing away with the 60-vote rule for all legislation.

By the time this arrives in your email inbox, it will be Constitution Day. In honor of the occasion, Yuval Levin has an exposition on how the Founding document is, in fact, the solution and not the problem in the struggle for societal solidarity. His conclusions:

Conservative constitutional thought should champion the republican cause as an appealing organizing principle more generally. It points toward the shape that a constitutional restoration ought to take: the reinvigoration of Congress as a genuinely legislative body enabling cross-partisan negotiation; the prioritization of steady administration in the reform of the executive branch; an assertive role for the courts in requiring the elected branches to step up to their responsibilities rather than having judges take those over; a restoration of meaningful federalism rooted in a commitment to communal self-rule that balances majority will with minority rights; and an emphasis on responsible citizenship and civic virtue in our engagement with politics. That is what it would mean to pursue a restoration of republicanism to its proper prominence in America’s civic vocabulary.

And this kind of approach to constitutional restoration stands to offer not only political and administrative benefits but also a practical path toward greater national unity. The Constitution was intended to help our fractious society address its divisions. It offers proven and plausible means for doing so. Yet we have lost sight of those means, and indeed of the possibility that meaningful national unity can be forged at all.

That Americans have come to see themselves as hopelessly divided is both a cause and an effect of the constitutional crisis we confront. Today, that hopelessness demands that we call upon the resources of our political tradition. Too many thoughtful Americans now dismiss that tradition as morally hollow. But they have mistaken crude caricatures of our political heritage for the real thing, and so risk denying our society the capacity for recovery.

At the heart of our republicanism is an idea of the human being and citizen rooted in the highest traditions of the West: that we are each fallen and imperfect yet made in a divine image and possessed of equal dignity; that individuals are social creatures meant to live together; that living together requires a commitment to pursue the common good; and that this pursuit in a free and therefore diverse society requires of the citizen selflessness, accommodation, restraint, deliberation, and service.

That ideal should be the starting point of any constitutional restoration. It calls upon not only our institutions and our elites, but upon every one of us to take on the responsibility of citizenship, and to accept the duties that come with the high privilege of calling ourselves Americans. It gives us each something to do, and gives us all a lot to do together. And we will need to take it seriously if we mean to preserve the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Dan McLaughlin does a deep dive on independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin’s long trail of flip-flops:

It’s not just abortion. Instead of emphasizing his commitment to originalism, McMullin now says that he is “concerned about the politicization of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court. It’s threatening the rule of law and basic rights like voting. We need to move past the old partisan litmus tests and support judges who 1) are qualified and 2) will impartially uphold the law.” He backs the Democrats’ power grab in the Senate: “I support filibuster reform. I think the threshold for overcoming it should be lowered and that Senators should be required to speak on the floor for the length of their filibuster. We cannot allow the filibuster to prevent the protection of essential rights like voting.” McMullin blasted [Mike] Lee for opposing new federal gun legislation: “The gun bill is historic, bipartisan legislation that’s supported by a majority of Americans. Not only did Mike Lee vote against it — he actively tried to sabotage it.” By 2018, McMullin was deriding “the silly wall” on the border. He even enthused about Joe Biden’s inaugural address.

He’s also flip-flopped on federal involvement in education and come out against conservatives on education, again via the Salt Lake Tribune: “The federal government also has a role to play in getting money to underfunded schools, he said. McMullin, who has described himself as a conservative, also dismissed right-wing claims attacking ‘critical race theory’ in schools, saying people are being misled by ‘extremist conspiracism’ about school curriculum and ‘it’s creating problems for everyone.’” He’s now for “investing in renewable energy,” and when asked how he would cut spending, he highlighted “by ‘avoiding unnecessary wars’ and helping Medicare to lower health care costs by enabling it to negotiate prescription prices and other health care reforms.” Politico noted that McMullin said he “would probably have supported Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson plus bipartisan bills on infrastructure, gun safety and microchips.”

There is a reason why I and so many other 2016 McMullin voters now openly regret choosing him as a vehicle for our protest votes. He has not kept faith with us; he has not acted honorably. He is simply another opportunist who turned his 15 minutes of fame into a gravy train.

Following up on last weekend’s venting about the absence of remorse over Covid school closures, Brittany Bernstein notes a textbook case of this in Kansas:

Kansas governor Laura Kelly recently said she makes “no apologies” for Covid-19 school closures shortly after several pro-lockdown teachers’ unions endorsed her reelection campaign.

Kelly announced last Wednesday that several education advocacy groups had endorsed her, including Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), Kansas American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and United Teachers of Wichita (UTW).

Later that day, Kelly spoke at a Kansas Chamber of Commerce Candidate Conversations event where she defended the state’s school lockdowns.

“We in Kansas had to take a look at what do we know, what do we have, and what we need to do to make sure we keep our people safe,” Kelly said.

“So, when I look at what we did, I know everybody thinks about the sort of dramatic decision to close our schools and to be the first governor to close them for the entire year,” she added. “I’ll make no apologies for that.”

Shout-Outs

Stephanie Slade, at Reason: Both Left and Right Are Converging on Authoritarianism

Gabriel Debenedetti, at Politico: ‘You Believe This S–t?’ Biden’s Complicated Friendship With Obama

Susan Crabtree, at RealClearPolitics: Canada, Not U.S., To Resettle Some Afghan Religious Minorities

John Sailer, at Tablet: Higher Ed’s New Woke Loyalty Oaths

Honorable Mention

Rich Lowry has a new video series out called “Reality Check,” and we humbly suggest you check out the pilot episode here, in which Rich thoroughly dismantles the Biden administration’s legal argument for mass student-debt erasure.

CODA

What’s that? You’re looking for recs in the field of Australian prog rock? Well, it’s mighty convenient you read all the way to the bottom of this newsletter, where a compact song called “Tungsten Blues” was hiding. It’s by a Tasmania-based band called the Third Ending, and it gets a little Dream Theater-y, if you’re into that kind of thing.

It is remotely possible that you were not, in fact, looking for this subgenre. If that is the case, please, do send alternative recs (alternative, as in “other,” not Collective Soul) this way, to jberger@nationalreview.com, for sharing with this list. Maybe some country, or a little R&B, or a concerto; also accepting klezmer and zydeco. No judgment here.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Politics & Policy

Adding Insult to Learning Loss

Loading...
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The kids are back in class — and facing a learning deficit far deeper than your typical summer slide.

Just before the holiday weekend, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that math and reading test scores for elementary-school students plummeted to the lowest levels in decades. This, of course, was only the latest evidence for the already-unassailable conclusion that pandemic-era school closures drove historic learning loss.

Yet the infuriated parents and policy-makers who saw this coming won’t get so much as an apology. Not a note of contrition, nor a qualified admission.  

Instead, those responsible for this education catastrophe are pretending to have done everything in their power to avoid it — to be leading America’s children out of it — while their allies emit a smoke screen intended to cloud an otherwise clear view of the very recent past.

Staggering audacity” is how Walter Blanks Jr., of the American Federation for Children, described teachers’ union honcho Randi Weingarten’s response to the learning-loss report. She had tweeted: “Thankfully after two years of disruption from a pandemic that killed more than 1 mil Americans, schools are already working on helping kids recover and thrive.”

Walter writes:

It is true that countless teachers in schools across the country are hard at work trying to help struggling students recover. Weingarten failed to mention that teachers and parents are cleaning up the mess she and her union left behind.

Despite gaslighting from unions and their allies, it’s no secret that the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates fought tooth and nail to ensure public schools remained closed. When information about Covid-19 was scarce, closing schools was a reasonable response, but keeping schools closed when the evidence showed it did more harm than help to children was an extreme blunder. While most schools in Europe were open as early as April or May 2020, the unions were hard at work fighting to keep U.S. schools closed long after any point of reasonable concern.

By October 2020, 90 percent of private schools across America were open, providing instruction without the devastating Covid outbreaks unions predicted. Meanwhile, Weingarten and the unions lobbied the CDC to keep kids out of public-school classrooms. This effort continued even after teachers in many states were given priority for vaccines and an overwhelming majority were vaccinated.

More audaciously, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued that Democrats managed to reopen schools “in spite of Republicans.”

This was high-level gaslighting indeed. Sean Spicer could learn something. The thread fiber holding that claim just barely together was that Republicans opposed the (inflationary) American Rescue Plan (ARP), which designated billions for school reopening via Covid mitigation, among other things. Fox News fact-checked the assertion and calculated that, though schools reopened on Biden’s watch, states and local districts tapped into only about 12.7 percent of the funds under that program. Was the ARP the key to reopening this whole time? Doubtful. There’s also the nettlesome detail that red states reopened schools more readily than blue states did, and everybody knows this. Once upon a time, Democrats attacked Republicans for it, as Brittany Bernstein recalls here.

Yet Senator Patty Murray (D., Wash.) was on CNN last weekend praising fellow Democrats for getting kids back in school by way of the blessed American Rescue Plan. “No second thoughts?” Dana Bash asked. Nope, not one.

So . . . what? To quote one prominent hearing witness: What difference, at this point, does it make? Deflection is to be expected, especially in an election year. We should focus on closing that learning deficit above all else, recriminations included. Still, after parents and other reopening advocates for months were advised this position was fundamentally racist, the new narrative that all this could have been avoided with a ventilation upgrade in the cafeteria is not just insulting but untenable. Mary Katharine Ham wrote recently about why some measure of accountability is called for on this failure; namely, because to skip that step “is to give tacit approval for those same mistakes to be made again.” Journalist Anya Kamenetz, who openly roots for the Democrats, also called for a party “apology tour” in order for them to reclaim the education issue with voters, stressing that parents aligned with Democrats “sorely want it acknowledged that they were right all along.”

Parents are not, however, helpless, as Dan Lips explained in the most recent edition of the magazine. And parents have eyes to see who has been working against their interests. They don’t do a very good job hiding it.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

R.I.P.: Queen Elizabeth II: An Extraordinary Life of Extraordinary Service

Democrats figure out how to make the nation’s most expensive child care even more expensive: The D.C. Day-Care Debacle

What’s behind the worker shortage? The Missing Laborers

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: John Fetterman’s Fitness for Office Is a Legitimate Issue

Charles C. W. Cooke: Queen Elizabeth II, R.I.P.

Charles C. W. Cooke: Biden’s Pointless Presidency

Ryan Mills: Disabled Portland Residents Sue City for Surrendering Sidewalks to the Homeless

Michael Brendan Dougherty: I’m a New Yorker, Governor Hochul

Luther Ray Abel: How to Fix the SEALs’ Training

Amity Shlaes: What’s Wrong with Siding with Unions?

Kevin Williamson: A Clear and Present Danger

Nate Hochman: Chile’s Constitution Flop a Win for Basic Sanity

Andrew McCarthy: Judge Throws Mar-a-Lago Probe into Chaos

Diana Glebova: Irish Teacher Imprisoned for Continuing to Teach after Refusing to Use ‘Gender-Neutral’ Pronouns

Diana Glebova: U.K. Lawyer Takes a Stand for Children Harmed by Gender Ideology

Sharon Supp: With Gender-Transition ‘Sanctuary State’ Law, California Declares War on Parents in All 50 States

Dan McLaughlin: Don’t Apply Different Speech Rules to Libs of TikTok

Dan McLaughlin: Joe Biden Can’t Decide What ‘MAGA Republican’ Means

CAPITAL MATTERS

Daniel Pilla provides helpful history for taxpayers who might get caught up in the next wave of audits: The IRS Commissioner’s Warning of Audits to Come

A bubble is about to burst. From Desmond Lachman: China’s Property-Market Party Is Over

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White finds this fairy tale falling flat (and check out the first installment of his new series on the media here): Why Three Thousand Years of Longing Is Unacceptable

Brian Allen reviews a museum that shows true vigor (though look out for the flip side of this review this weekend): Atlanta’s High Museum, Looking Good and On the Move

NOTHING BUT A-SIDES

What made Queen Elizabeth II special, from NR’s editorial:

The monarchy is powerful as a result of its formal powerlessness. It transcends the political fray, partly because it cannot (except, theoretically, in extraordinarily rare circumstances) play any material part in it. As such, it can play an invaluable unifying role, which is reinforced by the living link it represents with the past, a link that was only reinforced, in Elizabeth’s case, by the length of her life and, in an increasingly fractious United Kingdom, her close connection with, and fondness for, Scotland (her mother was of partly Scottish descent and was brought up there). It is somehow appropriate that Elizabeth died in Balmoral, a place that she loved.

The last serving head of state to have served in the military (she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945) during the Second World War, Elizabeth stuck with the standards expected of Britain’s wartime generation, standards also reflected in the advice on the role of a modern constitutional monarch that she was given by George VI, the father she adored, a king profoundly shaped by the wartime years. Conscientious, hardworking, and self-disciplined, and with a life apparently free from scandal, Elizabeth rarely put a foot wrong. She did her best to ensure (with occasional, discreetly phrased exceptions, such as over Scottish independence) that she kept clear from revealing anything about her political views, exercising a discretion that, like so many of her other qualities, has not been so apparent in her successor, King Charles III.

The queen’s qualities, her generally careful adjustments to modern times, and, as the years passed, her seeming permanence have helped Britain weather turbulent and rapidly changing times. Almost perpetually popular (we should pass over the brief period of hysteria that followed the death of Princess Diana), in her later years she had become, if not quite the nation’s grandmother or great-grandmother, something akin to it, with a position in British minds and, often, hearts that is itself a tribute to a life very well lived. R.I.P.

Sharon Supp, of Alliance Defending Freedom, sounds the alarm about a far-reaching California proposal:

The California legislature just passed S.B. 107, a dangerous bill that undermines the fundamental right of every parent in every state to direct the upbringing of their children. It allows California courts to strip custody from parents — even parents who don’t live in California — who have legitimate concerns about a young child undergoing irreversible medical procedures to appear as a different gender.

California wants to become a “sanctuary state” to which minor children from around the country can flee (or even be taken by someone else) to obtain on-demand puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries to remove healthy body parts . . . without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Assuming Governor Gavin Newsom signs S.B. 107 into law, California courts will have “temporary emergency jurisdiction” over any child in, and any person who may bring the child to, California for the purpose of obtaining harmful interventions on children’s minds and bodies. Ignoring the growing body of medical evidence demonstrating the damage caused by those medical and surgical interventions on children, California wants to reach into homes across state lines and offer such interventions to all children in America even if — perhaps especially if — their parents object.

In reality, California offers no “sanctuary” to American children. No, like the Pied Piper, California under S.B. 107 would entice children nationwide to leave their families and run away into the arms of California bureaucrats who believe that harmful drugs and sterilizing surgeries should be freely available to anyone who asks regardless of age, mental health, or legal capacity. And those courageous parents who oppose the coercive corruption of their child’s mind and body will be met with the full force of the courts, police, and child-protective services.

Charles C. W. Cooke asks what it’s all for:

President Biden says that he is engaged “in a battle for the soul of this nation.” The trouble is, he doesn’t seem quite sure what that means.

It is not unfair to ask: What is the Biden administration? What is its purpose? What, besides a haphazard rehashing of Absolutely Everything Progressives Have Ever Thought Of, is its program? Joe Biden became president because the alternative was reelecting Donald Trump, and, much to his detriment, Joe Biden has never managed to transcend that elementary fact. Eighteen months in, his presidency still lacks a theme, a focus, a narrative. The most pressing issues facing the country — inflation, debt, energy — all seem to bore him. His foreign policy is non-existent. His domestic priorities are determined by the transient concerns of Elizabeth Warren’s emissaries to the White House and by the trending bar on Twitter. “Who is really in charge?” Biden’s critics like to ask. The question assumes too much. Nobody is in charge, because there’s nothing to be in charge of. One might as well ask who is in charge of a feather floating in the wind.

Around and around Biden spins — smiling here, glaring there, emitting sparks without kindling, telling stories without meaning, gesturing without function, striding purposelessly back and forth in search of something, anything, that might reverse his slide toward irrelevance. Rudderless, he motions momentarily toward tackling inflation, and then moves on to something else. Desperate, he forswears responsibility: Gas prices are up? That’s the oil companies’ fault. Hopeful, he snatches responsibility: Gas prices are down? That’s Dark Brandon’s doing! Impotently, he yells and intones and lectures, flitting between ersatz solemnity and peremptory ire with no perceptible loss of vim. We have a crisis in this country, he says, in whispers. What is that crisis? It’s Trump and his friends. Or, maybe, it’s everyone in the Republican Party, or pro-lifers, or apologists for Wall Street, or people with bad policy ideas. It’s something; he just hasn’t quite decided what yet. He’ll get back to you on that.

And ICYMI, from Labor Day, Amity Shlaes reviews the historical record on what tends to happen when conservatives try making nice with the unions:

A few takeaways for your Labor Day, whatever your music: siding with unions out of political expedience generally doesn’t work for Republicans. That’s because Republicans rarely can deliver more to unions than Democrats, for whom organized labor is embedded DNA. Workers, whether unionized or not, spot the intellectual hypocrisy in such a Republican endeavor. So do other voters. The hero Republicans and Democrats of this story are men and women who responded to voter needs rather than styling themselves as architects of a presidential coalition.

Last, and as important, is to recognize the fallacy upon which the whole political discussion is based: “union = workers.” Workers, like anyone else, are individuals, some unionized, and some not. To build up unions as workers’ proxy is to worsen the possibility of the kind of cronyism our political commentators spends so much energy bemoaning. Union-boosting often ignores the basic need of workers, such as training and employment. Seen from the vantage point of recent decades, U.S. union history looks like a tragic and unnecessary imposition of a primitive class warfare cartoon upon a powerhouse of growth. The fundamental trouble with our union culture is that it forces people to take sides and themselves become those cartoon caricatures.

Which side are we on? Well, not that side.

Shout-Outs

Chuck Ross, at the Washington Free Beacon: FBI Official Accused of Shutting Down Hunter Biden Probe Was ‘Running Point’ on Key Witness

Fred Bauer, at City Journal: Mixed-Term Elections

Thomas Fazi, at UnHerd: The lab-leak theory isn’t dead

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Police arrest county official in reporter’s stabbing death

CODA

I was in Chicago last weekend, a trip that fortuitously coincided with the city’s Jazz Festival. My family indulged a couple swings by the grounds, including to see guitarist Bill Frisell, who was headlining last Friday night.

Frisell is a legendary and long-toiling bandleader and player. His body of work is relatively new to me (this recent Journal article is a helpful primer), but he’s a musician I was curious to see in action — judging by the size of the crowd, I was not alone. His style is spare and precise, deliberate and, in its own way, experimental. A taste, from his most recent album, Valentine. And from the show.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Politics & Policy

Unity, Sweet Unity

Loading...
President Joe Biden speaks in front of Independence Hall at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pa., September 1, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

I’m not sure what proportion, exactly, of those of you reading this would be considered semi-fascist by President Biden, but I am sure it’s no negligible amount.

On Thursday, the commander-in-chief stood behind a podium — and in front of a backdrop that gave the impression he was addressing the Galactic Empire — to call a segment of his constituency (“MAGA Republicans”) a threat to “the very foundations of our republic.”

It was a shocking speech, and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at this transcript:

Blood alone moves the wheels of history! Have you ever asked yourselves in an hour of meditation, which everyone finds during the day, how long we have been striving for greatness? Not only the years we’ve been at war, the war of work, but from the moment as a child when we realized that the world could be conquered. It has been a lifetime struggle. A never-ending fight. I say to you, and you will understand that it is a privilege to fight! We are warriors! Salesmen of north-eastern Pennsylvania, I ask you once more: Rise and be worthy of this historical hour! No revolution is worth anything if it cannot defend itself! Some people will tell you salesman is a bad word. They’ll conjure up images of used car dealers and door to door charlatans. This is our duty: to change their perception. I say salesmen… and women of the world unite! We must never acquiesce for it is together, TOGETHER, THAT WE PREVAIL! We must never cede control of the motherland!

I’ll admit to not being the first to make that joke, but I’ve found it amusing every time I’ve seen it made.

In all seriousness, the speech represented an escalation in America’s already divisive political conflict. Of course, Donald Trump raised the ante more than a few times during his own stint in his office, but this publication’s stance on the former president is well-established by now and a predecessor’s mistakes are no excuse for Biden’s.

As Jim Geraghty observed in Friday’s Morning Jolt, the whiplash in Biden’s speech — and his presidency to this point — has been the stuff of a nasty, head-on collision. On the one hand, he campaigned on uniting the country and preempts half of his tweets with a faux-folksy “Folks.” On the other, he has called his mainstream political opponents proponents of “Jim Crow on steroids,” and intentionally conflates social conservatives with the lunatics who stormed the Capitol Building last January.

Now, it would be condemnable for any president to use his perch to disparage his fellow Americans as wannabe authoritarians. But it’s especially galling when that president has been more than happy to take unilateral, illegal action on a near-weekly basis. And it’s downright insane considering his party’s temeritious effort to nominate more extreme Republican candidates who will be easier to defeat in general elections.

As Charlie Cooke put it, the Democrats have “transcended those specific criticisms and talked itself into the idea that its entire agenda is synonymous with ‘democracy.’ In Biden’s mind, he didn’t make one speech about the Constitution and then another speech about his presidential aims; he made a single speech about democracy, which, in his estimation, is inextricable from Democracy.”

In other words: Give us a break and get over yourselves.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

President Biden is intent on repeating the mistakes of his old boss: Biden’s Looming Giveaway to Iran

Remembering, if not celebrating, Mikhail Gorbachev: The Good Loser

Another day, another embarrassing scandal for the FBI: Our Political FBI

Post-Dobbs, pro-life attorneys general should redouble their focus on the abortion issue: Attorneys General Need to Step Up to Defend Life

The GOP must not be a shapeless opposition party come November: The Missing Republican Agenda

Let’s not bite the hands that built us: Canceling Thomas Jefferson

ARTICLES

Russ Latino: How the Jackson Water Shortage Happened and How It Can Be Solved

Philip Klein: Blake Masters and the Limits of Fight Club Conservatism

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Vatican Is Wasting Its Authority

Jimmy Quinn: How the Biden Administration Moved to Soft-Pedal the China Threat

Charles C.W. Cooke: Save Our Political System: Impeach and Convict Joe Biden

Charles C.W. Cooke: Donald Trump Is Still a Lunatic

Kevin Williamson: Biden’s Student-Loan Wipeout Sticks It to the Poor

Rich Lowry: Republicans Can’t Run and Hide on Abortion

Rich Lowry: All Things Considered, It’s Better Not to Be under FBI Investigation

Dan McLaughlin: Jungle Primaries and Ranked-Choice Voting are Bad. Combining Them Is Worse

Andrew McCarthy: Trump Brings Out the Worst in His Enemies, as He Undermines Himself

Jim Geraghty: Who Really Wins Under Ranked-Choice Voting?

Mark P. Mills: The First Energy War of the 21st Century

Ryan Mills: ‘They Want Them Dead’: One Year after Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal, Thousands of U.S. Allies Remain in Peril

CAPITAL MATTERS

Democrats can’t decide if the Inflation Reduction Act is a climate or economic bill. Amanda Griffiths says it will worsen the condition of both: The Inflation Reduction Act Will Hurt the Economy and the Environment

Dominic Pino takes aim at an erstwhile U.S. trade representative: Robert Lighthizer Is Not a Conservative Hero

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Brian Allen observes that “nothing keeps mischief-makers in line better than a handy supply of missiles” in his review of an Alabamian art museum: Ethel Waters in Oil and Sea Critters in Silver, Starring at the Huntsville Museum of Art

In Funny Pages, Armond White sees a valid critique of modern American society: The Subversive Humor of Funny Pages

FUN READS FOR NON-FASCIST READERS

Blake Masters and the other Fight Club Conservatives’ professed highest values are already being set aside for political expedience’s sake, observes Phil Klein:

To be clear, it is perfectly defensible to make the argument, as his defenders have, that the goal of conservatives should be to support the most pro-life policies that are politically feasible in each state — and perhaps the sorts of restrictions Masters is now talking about represent the ceiling in Arizona. However, there is a tension between advertising Masters during the primary as the “bold” candidate who isn’t going to sit silently like the previous generation of weak-kneed Republicans and then trying to argue that he’s pursuing the prudent approach by soft-pedaling his defense of human life.

For several years now, whenever traditional conservatives have pushed back against the current shift in the GOP (warning against embracing the Left’s view of expansive executive power, using the force of the state as a tool to reward friends and punish enemies, emphasizing the importance of constitutionalism and free-market economics), they are not only greeted with disagreement, but contempt. They have been pilloried as people who don’t understand the stakes and who want to surrender the culture war. Criticizing Trump and his refusal to accept defeat in the 2020 election, both on the merits and in terms of the atrocious politics of making an entire party subordinate to the bruised ego of an unpopular former president, triggers accusations of weakness, cuckery, and cowardice. And yet a leading light of this crowd, who declared, “It’s time for Republicans and conservatives to wake up and realize we’re in a culture war,” has climbed down on the most important culture-war issue, and the response from this same crowd is, “Well, that’s just pragmatic politics!”

Sorry, it doesn’t work this way. If the refined position among the Fight Club Conservatives is that it’s important to balance ideological goals against prudent political considerations, they don’t get to police who and who isn’t a real, manly, conservative.

Jimmy Quinn reports that under Tony Blinken, the State Department is cracking down on . . . those who tell the unvarnished truth about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party:

In a document issued last August, the State Department asked U.S. diplomats to soften their use of certain language condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s broadly damaging behavior — its “malign influence.” The document, experts tell NR, marks, at least, a critical yet quiet watering-down of Washington’s rhetoric toward Beijing.

News of the document’s existence comes at a critical juncture for the Biden administration’s handling of China, as Beijing ratchets up its military provocations in the Taiwan Strait and President Biden reportedly plans to see General Secretary Xi Jinping for a potential in-person meeting in November.

Notably, the six-page cable, approved by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and marked sensitive but unclassified, was circulated widely within the State Department and cleared by two White House offices, according to a copy recently reviewed by National Review. Titled “Guidance on PRC Messaging and Nomenclature in Department Products and Communications,” it instructs officials on how to use specific language when discussing China-related topics.

“The Department aims for precise and specific language that reflects this Administration’s policy approach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” it begins. “This requires the Department’s written products and diplomatic engagements focus explicitly on the PRC government’s actions and conduct — e.g., making clear U.S. criticism is not directed toward PRC nationals, the global Chinese diaspora, or U.S. citizens of Chinese descent, as well as citizens of other countries who are of Chinese ethnicity or heritage.”

It continues: “These principles serve as a guide to ensure the Department avoids conflating ethnicity and heritage with the negative political decisions and actions of the PRC government or the Chinese Communist Party; they are not meant to constrain cable reporting or messaging in other languages where there may be imperfect translations of these terms.”

While Blinken and other officials briefly acknowledged its existence — and the goal of encouraging specificity — last October, the document’s contents have not previously been reported. It effectively demonstrates the administration’s unwillingness to grapple with the very nature of the Chinese regime, experts told NR.

The president ought to get the early boot, argues Charlie Cooke:

There is not a single person in America who believes that what President Biden has done is legal — and that includes the people who penned the contrived legal justifications for him. His order is a ruse, a scheme, a hijacking — the product not of genuine ambiguity in the law, but of a preference for brute force. I know it. You know it. We all know it. President Biden knows it. This is why, in almost taunting tones, the president’s apologists have begun to remind the dissenters that, under the current standing rules, there may be no person in America who can sue. “Well,” they ask, gleefully, “Whatjagonnadoaboutit?”

I’ll tell you what I’d do about it: I’d impeach and convict the president, and end this trend for good. In this country, Congress makes the laws. In this country, Congress appropriates the funds. In this country, Congress sets immigration policy. In this country, as Barack Obama liked to remind us, the president is not a dictator or an emperor or a king. In this country, there is a path to getting things done, and that path is through Congress.

And if the president doesn’t like that? Then the president can go home. Among the many scars that Woodrow Wilson left on the American system of government, we can count the notion that the three branches of government are “co-equal.” They’re not. Congress is prime. Congress can pass laws without the president; the president cannot pass laws without Congress. Congress can remove the president; the president cannot remove Congress. Along with the states, Congress can amend the Constitution; the president cannot. Look at any part of the American order, and you’ll find that Congress has the power either to veto the other branches or to change the status quo via other means.

Last January, Congress should have used this power to impeach and convict President Trump for engaging in what Senator Ben Sasse appropriately described as “one of the most egregious Article II attacks on Article I in all of U.S. history.” A decade ago, Congress should have used this power to impeach Barack Obama for relentlessly explaining that he wasn’t an emperor, and then taking the very action he had deemed a usurpation of legislative authority. Today, Congress should use this power to remove Joe Biden from office for repeatedly breaking his oath in the most transparent way imaginable. And if we don’t — because it’s too hard or too divisive or harrowing — then we’ll deserve the system we’ll inevitably end up with, which, at this rate, seems destined to bear an uncanny resemblance to the system we once fought a revolution to pull apart.

Ryan Mills, capping off a year of excellent reporting on Afghanistan, writes about the plight of American allies left in Taliban-land by the Biden administration:

Rabah is still sure the Taliban wants him dead.

Taliban warriors recently stormed his home looking for him — the fourth time this year. They beat his wife and knocked out her teeth, the former interpreter for U.S. Special Forces said.

National Review first highlighted Rabah’s case in April. U.S. Embassy staff destroyed his family’s passports last summer as they prepared to evacuate the country, leaving Rabah stranded. Rabah paid for new passports, but they were confiscated by the Taliban.

He has since applied for a third set of passports, telling the local passport office staff that he lost them again. But they are skeptical, he said, and if the Taliban finds out, they’ll again confiscate his documents.

In the meantime, Rabah remains on the move, surviving on the money he made when he sold his house, and on donations from family and an American handler who is helping him. On Saturday, Rabah paid $2,000 to illegally cross the border with his family into Pakistan, where he believes they will be safer. He said he’d learned the Taliban were planning to kidnap his young daughter. He’s scared, he admitted, but he is trying to stay strong.

“I have to never give up,” he said. “I have to fight and keep my family safe.”

One year ago today, the Biden administration pulled the last U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, ending the nearly 20-year war in the country with a chaotic and disgraceful withdrawal that left 13 American troops dead, terrified Afghans clinging to American planes and falling to their deaths, and tens of thousands of American allies, people like Rabah who dutifully served the U.S., abandoned, their lives in constant danger in the Taliban-controlled country. Some have been able to sneak across borders into neighboring countries or escape with the help of civilian rescue organizations. But a year later, most of those allies remain left behind, while thousands of Afghans who were evacuated in the chaotic final days of the withdrawal had never worked for or with the U.S. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Shout-Outs

Allahpundit, at HotAir: My Farewell to HotAir Readers

Tim Carney, at the Washington Examiner: Time to name names: Joe Biden campaigned in 2020 against opening schools

Kenny Xu, in City Journal: Harvard’s Affirmative Action Rationale Is Bogus

CODA

Be sure to tune into Andor when it premieres a few weeks from now. Very possible that it will be the best Star Wars content since the last time its titular character showed up.

World

Is the Ukraine War Becoming a Global One?

Loading...
Ukrainian servicemen fire a mortar on a front line in Donetsk Region, Ukraine, August 18, 2022. (Stringer/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Russia’s war in Ukraine — setting aside Vladimir Putin’s broader territorial ambitions — was never going to be limited to Ukraine. The impact on supply chains and other global economic factors made that clear in the early months. And while “Putin’s price hike” was a convenient slogan for the Biden administration and its preexisting inflation problem, the U.N. has estimated that 1.6 billion people are “exposed” to some dimension of the “cost-of-living crisis” the invasion stoked.

But the war’s reach may be expanding in other ways.

For one, it has been brought home to Russia itself. Andrew Stuttaford has tried to unpack the significance of the killing of Darya Dugina, daughter of Russian ultranationalist Alexander Dugin, in a Moscow suburb. Introducing us to the apt Italian word dietrologia, he notes the Russians will blame the Ukrainians but wonders whether there’s more to the story, perhaps the possibility of a false-flag operation to rally Russian support.

This is not an isolated incident, however. The Washington Post ran an interesting piece on the anxiety inside Russia as it becomes clear the war is not merely happening “over there” as televised drama for domestic consumption:

The killing immediately heightened a sense of vulnerability among Russia’s most elite and visible promoters of the war in Ukraine, who now realize that they might be targets and that the government is potentially unable to protect them. . . .

Saturday’s car bombing followed massive explosions in southern Russia and occupied Crimea this month, as well as mysterious fires in buildings and warehouses across the country. Suddenly, the war that still seems a world away for many ordinary Russians has hit extremely close to home. . . . “By now it should be obvious to everyone that there are no safe places,” pro-Kremlin war reporter Yury Kotenok tweeted, adding that Russians could no longer ignore the war. “Moscow is now a front-line city.”

These tensions raise the possibility of further escalation, of course. Not that the Kremlin needs an excuse.

NR’s Diana Glebova reported last week on another curious death, that of Latvian-American Putin critic Dan Rapoport, in Washington, D.C. His body was found on the sidewalk outside his apartment building. Authorities say they don’t suspect foul play in what is being reported as an apparent suicide, but those who were close to Rapoport have suspicions:

“The stakes of getting to the bottom of [Rapoport’s death] are high,” prominent Russia historian and journalist David Satter, who was a friend of Rapoport, told National Review. . . . Rapoport’s widow, Alyona Rapoport, said that her husband did not commit suicide.

This could be another dietrologia situation, in which the full story is not ever quite known. Concerns about Russia’s Ukraine war spilling over Ukraine’s borders, however, focus more on the immediate region, and are not new. They focus especially on the threat to Moldova, which has been beset by dozens of bomb threats in recent weeks; Russia has already meddled as well with the energy supply for Poland and Bulgaria, among other countries. Recent movements from the Nordic and Baltic nations reflect a state of alert well beyond the front lines: Latvia wants to bring back the draft in preparation for a feared Russian attack, while NATO over the summer invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, a step the U.S. Senate swiftly approved. This week, a damaged nuclear plant in the warzone heightened concerns of a potential catastrophe of continental proportions.

With no end in sight to the war, expect the conflict to continue to reverberate outward, in ways severe and in ways trivial but in any case noticeable. No matter how many populations are touched, this won’t dilute the suffering in Ukraine itself, now six months into this horror. Our colleague, Luba Kolomytseva, is from Kharkiv and just conducted an interview with an old childhood acquaintance. What he describes is something we should all want not just contained but stopped in its tracks — and deterred from being attempted ever again.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

The student-debt wipeout is premised on falsities: Biden’s Student-Debt Decree Wrong on Every Level

A less-than-graceful exit: Good Riddance, Dr. Fauci

The CDC is not being straightforward about monkeypox and, as a result, is not helping those most at risk: The Monkeypox Deception

The military-recruitment crisis is here: Too Few, Not Proud Enough

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: Biden’s Student-Debt Debacle

John McCormack: Top Economist for Obama Warns Biden’s Student-Debt Plan Recklessly Fuels Inflation

Charles C. W. Cooke: Biden’s Student-Debt Bonfire Is a Classist Message to the Uncredentialed: Screw ’Em

Brittany Bernstein: Majority of White House Staffers Eligible for Biden’s Student-Loan ‘Forgiveness’

Diana Glebova: Mar-a-Lago Search Affidavit Released

Kevin Williamson: The Left’s Opt-In Totalitarianism

Jack Butler: Biden’s Historians Hurt America, Dishonor Their Profession

Jim Geraghty: Who’s Not Helping the 2022 GOP Senate Candidates?

Caroline Downey: ‘It Just Works’: Progressive Educators Rediscover Power of Phonics after Failing with DEI-Infused Method

Andrew McCarthy: Could Trump Talk Himself into an Indictment?

Daniel Buck: Get Phones Out of Schools

Ryan Mills: Covid Conspiracy Theorist Rebekah Jones Wins Dem Nomination for Congress in Florida

James E. Livingston: Kabul Made Saigon Look Like a Triumph

Senator James Lankford: More IRS Audits Are Coming for Americans at All Income Levels

CAPITAL MATTERS

And another thing on the student-debt “cancellation.” Dominic Pino points out that this torpedoes those deficit-reduction claims: Canceling Student Debt Would Undo Reconciliation Bill’s Deficit Reduction

And another thing: Can Anyone Sue over Biden’s Student-Loan Lawlessness?

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Brian Allen braves the Ogunquit traffic, and he is rewarded for it: A Visit to a Historic Maine Resort Town to See Miller and Walker Exhibitions

I still can’t promise I won’t watch this, Armond: House of the Dragon Revives Fascist Art

FROM THE NEW, SEPTEMBER 12, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Yuval Levin: Republicans Need an Agenda

Charles C. W. Cooke: A Long Goodbye to Trump

Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans Must Act on a Late-Term Abortion Ban

Jason Lee Steorts: Dear Mr. Rushdie

EXCERPTS, DECLASSIFIED

NR, as glimpsed in the links immediately preceding this, is out with an expansive special issue exploring and, in spots, proposing a 2023 agenda for Republicans. Yuval Levin sketches a roadmap here, and it’s a fine place to start:

The notion that politicians vying for seats in Congress should put some set of policy ideas before voters is hardly a bold, piercing insight. People seeking to be legislators should presumably seek to legislate, and candidates who want to be elected lawmakers should probably explain how electing them could result in better laws.

And yet, for more than a decade now, Republicans running for Congress have treated the question of whether to propose particular policy ideas at election time as though it were a tangled strategic quandary. Indeed, they have often concluded that offering an agenda would be a mistake, and that instead proposing nothing would be more clever, savvy, and even principled. 

Some have made a kind of libertarian argument that Republicans should be the party that wants government to do less, and so should not dream up clever new programs but only stand in the way of bad ideas from the left. Others have argued that a Republican congressional majority should just advance the agenda of a Republican president or oppose and investigate a Democratic one, since you can’t really govern from Congress anyway.

But more often, the case is more cynical than that, and focused on saving Republicans the trouble of having to defend anything. Voters are in a sour mood, this argument suggests, so let the election be a referendum on the Democrats and the public will vote “No.” Why put a target on our own backs?

This is not a mindless view. Its most prominent advocate over the past decade has been Senator Mitch McConnell, who is nothing if not savvy and effective. But it is nonetheless profoundly wrong.

The case for passivity on libertarian grounds makes little sense given the sheer scope of the progressive administrative state. If what you want is a government that doesn’t overreach, then you want a government very different from the one we have, and you’re going to need a lot of legislation to get there. As F. A. Hayek put it, “Liberty in practice depends on very prosaic matters, and those anxious to preserve it must prove their devotion by their attention to the mundane concerns of public life and by the efforts they are prepared to give to the understanding of issues that the idealist is often inclined to treat as common, if not sordid.”

The case for focusing just on the president, meanwhile, is outright constitutional dereliction. Our system cannot function when the first branch is willfully weak and passive. And oversight of the executive does not amount by itself to an agenda fit for a legislature. What will you have achieved when you’ve spent two years really getting to the bottom of Hunter Biden’s odious corruption? At best, you might agitate your core voters enough to elect you again — but to what end? More hearings? By all means, Congress should hold the executive branch to account, but as a supplement to, not a substitute for, legislative work. And while it’s true that you can’t simply govern from Congress, you can set the parameters of governance; recent presidents have rarely vetoed bills supported by bipartisan majorities.

But the argument against giving voters something to oppose may actually be the most deficient. It runs to the heart of what has gone wrong with American politics, and what it would take for Republicans to make the most of some extraordinary opportunities for electoral success over the coming years. . . .

Republicans who want to be legislators should help voters see how they would legislate — and they should propose to legislate in ways that would be broadly popular. This means not only proposing an agenda but speaking especially to the issues that now most frustrate the electorate, and to those that might be most amenable to legislative bargaining and remediation.

For Republican candidates for Congress, that should mean, at the very least, proposing a substantive agenda that tackles rising living costs, education issues with a federal nexus, immigration, health care, and the various challenges arising around the governance of information technology. Those aren’t the only issues that matter, but they are among the ones that at this point best combine the public’s priorities and the potential for legislative action.

Charles C. W. Cooke finds the real message to the masses in Biden’s student-debt magic erasure:

President Biden announced that any American who has both college debt they vowed to repay and an individual yearly income under $125,000 (or a family yearly income under $250,000) will be given up to $20,000 by the Treasury — which means by you, and by me, and by everyone else who pays taxes in America.

Why? Well, that’s the question. . . .

It seems so arbitrary. Why does Biden not want to do the same thing for loans on trucks owned by plumbers? Why not for mortgages — which, given how heavily it subsidizes them, the federal government clearly thinks are worthwhile? Why not for credit cards or auto payments or mom-and-pop credit lines? The answer, I’m afraid to say, is disgustingly classist: Because Joe Biden and his party believe that college students are better than everyone else. Because Joe Biden and his party believe that college students are of a finer cut. Because Joe Biden and his party prefer college students to you, and they think that those students ought to be rewarded for that by being handed enormous gobs of your money.

Electricians, store managers, deli workers, landscapers, waitresses, mechanics, entrepreneurs? Screw ’em. Sure, college graduates make more money than non-graduates, and their unemployment rate is lower, too. But non-graduates don’t have access to the president, so they don’t matter. They’re tradesmen, the riff-raff, the great unwashed. They’re background noise, dirty-handed types, second-classers. They don’t deserve $10,000 in debt reduction. What would they even do with it? Go hunting? Give it to their church? Their role is to subsidize the superior people, and the superior people go to college.

Why did Joe Biden do all this? That’s why. Why was this what Joe Biden chose to break his oath to achieve? That’s why. When it came down to it, good ol’ Scranton Joe sent cash from the sort of people he cynically pretends to care about to the sort of people he actually cares about: the privileged, accredited, self-dealing clerisy that his ever-dwindling political party now calls its base.

Caroline Downey reports on the rediscovery of phonics, after an ill-advised educational turn away from it:

As a school principal in Oakland, Calif., Kareem Weaver was once called into an English classroom to pacify a seven-year-old African-American girl who was throwing a tantrum because she was struggling to decipher a word.

Frustrated, sitting with her arms folded, the child insisted that the word was “rock.” Her aggravation grew as the teacher repeatedly said “no,” urging her to remember the story from the previous day, which featured context clues of pictures of a “home” and a “bone,” to help her solve the mystery. Finding the situation hopeless, she darted away from the teacher, crawled under chairs, and stirred up trouble with other students.

The word that stumped her was “stone.” Weaver realized his school system’s literacy strategy needed an overhaul, he said. In 2015, Weaver and some colleagues had fought for a social-justice-infused reading curriculum that was less mechanical and rigid and more about humanistic story telling, Time magazine reported. But then he saw the error of their ways.

“She is in tears because the teacher has her in a guessing game. Why don’t we walk her through the vowels and consonants instead of making her play Inspector Gadget and Tic-Tac-Toe?,” he thought at the time, he told National Review.

The school wanted to suspend that first grader for the disruption she was causing, Weaver said, without considering that, perhaps, the school was failing her. While well-intentioned faculty believed they were being supportive and doing the right thing by using “whole language learning,” which builds on the premise that reading and writing develop naturally in children, the method was leaving many kids, especially minority students, out to dry.

In Oakland, Weaver helped lead the charge to implement old-fashioned explicit systematic reading instruction, using phonics, which he summarizes as: “we teach you the sounds of language to make sure you know what you’re hearing and then we will teach you how to hear them accurately.”

ICYMI, Jack Butler explores the phenomenon of #TheHistory, with an Indiana Jones reference to boot:

“We are only passing through history,” says the villainous archaeologist René Belloq of himself and his rival (and our hero) Indiana Jones near the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. “This,” he says, pointing to the Ark of the Covenant, which Jones threatens to blow up unless Belloq releases Marion, Indy’s flame, “this is history.”

Today, there is a group of historians not content merely to pass through history. Instead, they want to help make it. Toward that end, they have attached themselves to the presidency of Joe Biden, the presidency having become essentially sacralized as an office of near-spiritual significance. They have consulted with him and guided him, as recently as this month. And they presumably hope that, with their help, he can become a world-historical figure. But in this endeavor they have dishonored their profession and even damaged the country.

Even before Biden became president, one of this crew was already leveraging a historian’s knowledge of the past in service of a glorious Biden future. Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, formally endorsed Biden in March 2020. “Donald Trump won’t be the last American president,” he wrote in the Washington Post. “But history — ancient and recent — tells us that, come November, we ought to make Joe Biden the next one.” (Convenient!) He then gave a speech for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He called the upcoming contest “a choice that goes straight to the nature of the soul of America.” (Subtle.)

Shout-Outs

Megan McArdle, at the Washington Post: Biden’s student loan ‘fix’ will likely make the problem worse

Timothy Carney, at the Washington Examiner: IRS free-file will either be horrible, be run by TurboTax, or both

Sergiu Klainerman, at Tablet: Eisgruber’s Emails

Theodore Kupfer, at City Journal: Where Did Wokeness Come From?

CODA

In keeping with an incorrigible habit of crowdsourcing playlists, I sent out a flare last weekend seeking Zappa recs, this being a catalogue I don’t know nearly enough about. A common thread in the responses: appreciation from classical lovers for Zappa’s musicianship and composition.

David Baron recommends, among other albums, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, which is truly terrific. Here, here, and here, for example.

Ralph Reddick suggests several songs, among them “Cheap Thrills,” and not the Sia one. And Nick Sayer puts in a word for “Cosmik Debris,” and pretty much all of Apostrophe (’).

Thanks for sending, thanks for reading. As a programming note, I’ll be out next weekend. As usual, expect the quality to improve considerably in my absence.

World

Where Victim-Blaming Is Still Considered Okay

Loading...
People pay respect outside the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo‘s former office on the fifth anniversary of the attack in Paris, France, January 7, 2020. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Victim-blaming didn’t die during #MeToo. It thrives today, elsewhere, as it has for decades.

• Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in her memoir Infidel, recalled one instance, in 2002. She was listening to a BBC report on the deadly riots sparked by a journalist’s cheeky reference to Mohammed while covering the Miss World pageant. A British pageant organizer came on. Only “instead of blaming the violence on the men who were burning down houses and murdering people, she blamed the young reporter for making ‘unfortunate remarks.’”

The journalist’s editor blamed her too. So did the mob in Nigeria, and she was forced to flee.

• Fast-forward: When two Muslim terrorists murdered a dozen people in 2015 at the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of Mohammed, a Financial Times piece lamented that the target had a “long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims.” The writer counseled those who would “provoke Muslims” to show some “common sense.” (A variation, in other words, of “Try dressing modestly.”)

• After a man beheaded a schoolteacher on a Paris street in 2020 for showing those cartoons as part of a free-speech lesson, the Associated Press published an article asking, “Why does France incite anger in the Muslim world?”

This kind of victim-blaming remains quite mainstream, quite common, quite culturally acceptable. Wherever the honor of Islam is hideously avenged, some measure of blame is by custom apportioned to The Instigator. The one who drew the caricature. The one who blasphemed. The culture within which such “offenses” are even permitted.

The reaction is of a piece with that from the Iranian government this past week. After novelist Salman Rushdie was stabbed, the foreign ministry explained that they “do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters” — apparently faulting him, still, for his supposedly blasphemous book The Satanic Verses. Never mind the fatwa ordering Rushdie’s murder or the $3 million price on his head, all tracing to Iran, or the actions of the attacker himself. Rushdie had “provoked,” 34 years ago, and the response to this provocation is portrayed to be as natural as closing one’s eyes in response to a burst of light.

This is the view from Tehran, phrased only slightly more coarsely than by our apologists here. But there is no reason the West should continue to espouse this view. It is, among other things, condescending in the extreme to presuppose that these assailants have no alternative but to stab away once provoked on grounds of faith — that restraint would be impossible.

Ten years ago, this condescension was dripping from Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi attack and mass protests at American embassies; she repeatedly emphasized how “awful” and “reprehensible” and “disgusting” that Internet video was (you remember: this being the silly video that maybe, like, six people saw) as she also condemned the violence ostensibly linked to it.

There’s a better way. Kevin Williamson:

Against fanaticism, we have — what? Literature and music, love, friendship, humor, and, with the help of skilled doctors and our prayers, the continuing work of Salman Rushdie and other geniuses of his kind, who help to steer us away from the brutal and toward the humane, away from the ridiculous toward the reasonable.

As the coal miners’ song asked: Which side are you on?

There are of course lessons concerning the broader free-speech debate to draw from this, pertaining to alarming efforts in the West to, if not physically attack, prosecute those deemed to have caused offense with their words. But no matter how narrow or broad we might go, this issue is simple, so very simple. Charles C. W. Cooke explains:

Really, there are only two sides to it. There are the people who believe in free speech, and there are the people who don’t. The person who does believe in free speech is currently in the hospital. The person who doesn’t believe in free speech stabbed him.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Yet more evidence that Iran is not our dance partner: The Rushdie Wake-Up Call

The U.S. should heed the warning from Britain: The U.K. Turns Its Back on Transgender Ideology

ARTICLES

Dan McLaughlin: What Liz Cheney Sacrificed

Dan McLaughlin: A Year Later, Biden’s Promise of ‘al-Qaeda Gone’ from Afghanistan Looks Even Worse

Andrew McCarthy: A Surprise Turn in the Trump Search-Warrant Case

Brittany Bernstein: Liz Cheney ‘Thinking about’ 2024 Presidential Run after Losing Primary to Trump-Backed Challenger

Nate Hochman: Source Backs Bari Weiss Account That New York Times Wanted to Run Tim Scott Op-Ed by Schumer

Diana Glebova: Prominent Putin Critic Dies under Mysterious Circumstances in D.C., Friends Suspect Foul Play

Isaac Schorr: Morning Joe Enlists Peter Strzok to Defend the FBI’s Integrity

Andrew McCarthy: Trump’s Privilege Claims Are Beside the Point

Charles C. W. Cooke: Britain Must End Its Censorship Regime

Rich Lowry: Merrick Garland Is on a Path to the Abyss

Caroline Downey: The Compromised Research of Child Gender-Transition Doctor Jack Turban

Madeleine Kearns: Is Marriage an Elite Institution?

Philip Klein: Despite Trump’s Defeat, Congressional GOP Becoming More Like Him

Luther Ray Abel: Wisconsin School District’s Sex-Ed Program Goes All-In on Gender Fluidity

Ryan Mills: Great Barrier Reef Defies Doomsday Predictions

CAPITAL MATTERS

Dominic Pino weighs in once more on the protectionism debate: Free Markets Are in the National Interest

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

I’m studiously not reading this because I haven’t yet seen the final Better Call Saul season, but Phil Klein cheers the man behind two of the best shows ever to grace television, and I’m sure it’s well deserved: Vince Gilligan Pulled Off What Nobody Else Ever Has

Brian Allen visits an impressive museum built around borrowing. If you liked The Last Duel, you’ll love this: A Crash Course in Medieval Armor at Nashville’s Frist Museum

Lena Dunham outdoes the show that tried to outdo her show. From Armond White: Lena Dunham Sticks It to Euphoria

NONE OF THESE EXCERPTS WERE PRE-SCREENED BY SCHUMER’S OFFICE

Dan McLaughlin breaks down Liz Cheney’s primary loss, the choices that led to it, and how we might view them:

It was a steep fall for the former chair of the House Republican Conference. It was due to the choices she made. Was the sacrifice worth it?

There is a legitimate and respectable case to be made both for and against Cheney’s choices.

First, the pro-Cheney case starts with the fact that she lost her job entirely for telling the truth. Sure, there are other critiques of Cheney, but she won a nine-way primary race by 18 points in 2016 and has romped over primary and general-election challengers ever since. She voted with Donald Trump during his presidency more often than Elise Stefanik did, and voted against impeaching him over Ukraine. The main reasons why her support collapsed so dramatically were (1) that she voted to impeach Trump, (2) that she served on the January 6 committee, and (3) how she handled those controversies.

Along the way, she has told many truths that Trump supporters did not want to hear, and that even many Trump-skeptical Republicans did not want to speak. . . .

But there is also a case against Cheney.

First, of course, representatives are supposed to represent their constituents. Cheney plainly failed at doing so, as the lopsided result shows. She was rejected by the same voters who had previously supported her, dropping off from over 78,000 votes in the 2020 primary to just 49,000 last night. It is all too easy to dismiss those voters as “stop the steal” radicals. To understand how she alienated them, it is useful to consider how she went about her business the past year and a half.

Second, Cheney’s participation in the January 6 committee was widely seen as giving her blessing to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in all the various ways that the committee has excluded the right of Republican leaders to select committee members and generally proceeded by press leaks and one-sided presentation of testimony, some of which has not held up well under scrutiny.

Another Putin critic is dead, this time in Washington. Diana Glebova reports on the disturbing case:

A fierce Latvian-American critic of Vladimir Putin living in exile in Washington, D.C., was found dead Sunday evening on the sidewalk outside his apartment building, police said.

Authorities told National Review they don’t suspect foul play, but those close to 52-year-old businessman Dan Rapoport are raising questions about the circumstances surrounding his death, which they doubt was the result of suicide.

“The stakes of getting to the bottom of [Rapoport’s death] are high,” prominent Russia historian and journalist David Satter, who was a friend of Rapoport, told National Review.

“So much in this doesn’t make sense, that clarifying this has got to be a very, very high priority,” Satter said, adding that his death could possibly be an “organized assignation” carried out by Russia in the streets of America’s capital, but that more information needed to be released to determine how Rapoport died. . . .

The first person to report Rapoport’s death, before his case was made public by American media, his family, or the police, was Russian journalist Yuniya Pugacheva via her Telegram channel.

Pugacheva claimed on Tuesday that Rapoport had committed suicide, and had “released his dog into the park with money and a suicide note.”

She also said she had seen Rapoport, owner of Moscow club Soho Rooms, in May while in a London bar in the company of “young women” after his wife had allegedly left him.

The Russian journalist revealed that she had not consulted Rapoport’s widow before releasing the information about his death, and has since refused to disclose her source publicly, keeping quiet about how she knew the details surrounding his death before anyone else.

More from Charles C. W. Cooke on free speech and those who don’t seem to understand it:

Since news of the harrowing attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life broke from Chautauqua on Friday, the British government and its emissaries have been sure to say all the right things. “Appalled,” was Boris Johnson’s verdict. “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.” Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party and Johnson’s sparring opponent in Parliament, echoed this position. Rushdie, Starmer said, “has long embodied the struggle for liberty and freedom against those who seek to destroy them.”

Great. And how about those censorship laws of which the British still seem so fond?

I do not make this comparison tritely. Neither Johnson nor Starmer would condone stabbing British citizens who write things they dislike. But investigating? Arresting? Charging? Imprisoning? About those courses of action, they are far, far more sanguine than they should be. If, indeed, Johnson and Starmer believe that free speech is “a right we should never cease to defend” — if they believe, indeed, that it is a key part of the “struggle for liberty and freedom” — then they ought to follow up on that thought by ensuring that the ugly web of restrictions and rules that sit on Britain’s books at present are consigned to the ash heap on which they belong. Call it the Salman Rushdie Act of 2022. . . .

Rifle through the court documents from any high-profile censorship case and you will see the same language repeated ad nauseam. The speaker had to be imprisoned, you see, because he had caused “offense” or “anxiety” or “upset.” The sentence had be imposed, you understand, because it was “necessary to reflect the public outrage.” The police had to get involved, you grok, because, if they hadn’t, then someone, somewhere might have had to process their emotions without the intervention of the state. Or, put another way: The mob grew upset, so we indulged them.

In the latest issue of NR, Nat Malkus surveys the educational damage from the Covid school-closure wars:

Neither red nor blue school leaders were especially flexible in their responses to Covid. At the December height of the 2020–21 Covid threat, before vaccines were widely available, less than one in five Trump-voting school districts took the precaution of going fully remote. Before March, less than one in five Biden districts were fully open on any given week. By April, when vaccines were available and cases had fallen dramatically, only about one-third of Biden districts had fully reopened, compared with more than 60 percent of Trump districts. The first full pandemic year, the highest percentage of Biden districts that were fully in-person (38 percent in June 2021) never reached the lowest percentage of Trump districts (40 percent in January).

Disproportional Covid caution was devastating for students. A Harvard study found that students who stayed home for most of 2020–21 lost a staggering 50 percent of a typical year’s learning in math, compared with 20 percent for those who were mostly in-person.

In retrospect, extended school closures look especially flawed because schools weren’t that dangerous — they were actually one of the safest places students could be. We had evidence of this as early as October 2020. A North Carolina study found that school-related Covid transmissions were less than one-tenth of what would be expected given community transmission rates. As Duke pediatrician Daniel Benjamin summarized: “It’s safer for them to be in school than to be outside of school.” . . .

Responsible leadership is exactly what schools need more of. Covid presented an unprecedented challenge in balancing the imperatives of public health with the need of students to learn. To be sure, some leaders met this challenge admirably, but too many failed this test. If, this year, they cannot return schools to normalcy and respond to the academic and pandemic challenges that face them, students will keep paying the price.

Shout-Outs

Felix Salmon, at Axios: Afghanistan’s economic calamity

Collin Anderson, at the Washington Free Beacon: ‘Squad’ Member Expanded Her Rental Property Portfolio as She Pushed for Taxpayer-Funded Landlord Relief

Sarah Dadouch & Annabelle Timsit, at the Washington Post: Female Saudi activist gets record 34 years in prison for critical tweets

Jonah Goldberg, at the Los Angeles Times: The paradox of Trump’s charisma

CODA

Here’s a deep track: Frank Zappa’s “Blessed Relief,” off The Grand Wazoo.

Frank Zappa, a divisive performer if there ever was one. I can’t remotely call myself an expert in Zappology; his discography is so extensive that to be one takes committed scholarship. I can’t necessarily call myself a fan either. Which is not to deny his talent or that his catalogue contains many masterpieces — such as that pleasant orchestral number with a jaunty hook above.

If any Zappa scholars (or casual listeners) are out there reading this, please do send any recommendations from his archive my way, for sharing with this list: jberger@nationalreview.com.

Thanks for reading.

Law & the Courts

A Word of Caution on the Allegedly ‘Weaponized’ DOJ

Loading...
Left: A supporter of former President Donald Trump holds a flag as he and others gather outside his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., August 8, 2022. Right: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about the FBI’s search warrant served at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida during a statement at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., August 11, 2022. (Marco Bello, Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

I’d say the October surprise arrived early, except August has a history of surprising us.

Either way, the media’s love/hate relationship with a Trump-centered news cycle — a relationship that was on a break only so that the respective parties could see other sociopaths — can comfortably resume. But in the maelstrom of takes about the FBI’s not-at-all-low-key sweep of Mar-a-Lago, there is reason to question one regnant narrative: that this is a political mission driven by Democrats who have “weaponized” the DOJ.

To be sure, the department can be and has been weaponized, something John Durham’s investigation has helped demonstrate, even if the Michael Sussmann trial ended in acquittal. Andrew McCarthy has catalogued this conduct at length. Dan McLaughlin has chronicled how the Garland Justice Department at times looks like a left-wing blog come to life.

Based on Democrats’ spending in the midterms, however, we know they want to elevate and go up against MAGA-fied opponents wherever possible. Few in positions of power seem to worry about the risk that the people they decry as dangerously unfit might, then, win a general election. Given this cold calculus, it must still be the case that they would rather face Donald Trump in 2024 than, say, Tom Cotton.

Under one scenario that is the subject of much dispute, the Mar-a-Lago house-swarming party could complicate that proposal. The search reportedly pertained to the possible mishandling of classified documents (though this explanation invites some skepticism). Setting aside the possibility that this leads to a case that leads to a conviction that leads to Trump’s incarceration, there’s another — albeit rather far-fetched — way this saga could sideline the former president. Prominent Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, in the immediate aftermath of the news, noted that what makes the raid a “potential blockbuster” is a section of the U.S. Code barring anyone committing such records violations from holding federal office.

The claim touched off a heated debate among legal scholars, with others arguing this wouldn’t supersede the constitutional qualifications for president and any attempt to wield that statute against Donald Trump would lead to a fierce legal challenge, as Elias later acknowledged.

But there’s another, perhaps more urgent complication for Democrats in this raid, in the likely scenario that Trump’s eligibility holds: It has absolutely incensed Trump’s base and, if we’ve learned anything about the man since his entry into politics, hardened his resolve to reclaim what he views as rightfully his.

“If Trump wasn’t already running in 2024, he definitely is now,” RCP’s Tom Bevan remarked.

Only this wouldn’t be the wounded, 2020-obsessed Trump consumed by ghosts of the “steal” that only his most loyal adherents can see; it would be Trump in his element, battling, once more, his favorite enemy, the “Deep State.” It would be a hot war, and not the sort of Trump rerun Democrats had envisioned. While this Donald could certainly lose another general election, the environment becomes more unpredictable — and could turn on whether the feds are building a damning case or a trivial one. For the time being, Phil Klein says the FBI has reestablished Trump as the “alpha dog” among Republicans:

There was a time when having one’s home searched by federal law enforcement would trigger talk about the end of somebody’s political career. . . . But assuming Trump actually gets in the race, who could be in a better position to capitalize on outrage over the FBI searching Trump’s home than Trump himself?

If Democrats were truly looking to “weaponize” the DOJ to improve their chances in 2024, or even 2022, this could well go down as the face-palm at Palm Beach. So I’m willing to take the White House at their word that President Biden was not party to the law-enforcement hit on his old 2020 rival, or at least not behind it. Maybe this was in fact the action of the Justice Department and FBI alone, “personally approved” by Merrick Garland. That doesn’t mean that it was the right or righteous call, or that Democrats inside the DOJ aren’t acting out of personal animus. That doesn’t mean that it was the wrong call. It does mean that ultimate transparency is in order.

The AG took a step in that direction on Thursday, acknowledging his own involvement and moving to unseal the search warrant (you can find the gory details here) — while promising to release more information when “appropriate.” NR’s editorial makes the case for sunlight:

If, as it will undoubtedly insist, the federal government had no choice but to take the action it did, it will presumably feel comfortable making that case before the American public. It should do so immediately. Transparency is the bare minimum that law enforcement can provide to reassure the public that it understands the delicate balance between enforcing the law and abusing its discretion.

*    *    *

Back to things that are not Trump: NR is out with a special issue on education, which you can dig into right here. There’s lots and lots and lots to digest. How schools are wasting Covid cash, the “reading wars,” sex ed in the classroom, campus censorship . . . and a guest essay by Betsy DeVos. Check it out, you’ll be glad you did.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Details, please? Americans Deserve an Explanation on FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search

These are not trustworthy negotiating partners: Iran Targets Bolton as Biden Courts Tehran

Hmm, turns out the Inflation Reduction Act wasn’t about inflation: Democrats’ Tone-Deaf Spending Bill

ARTICLES

Andrew McCarthy: The FBI’s Mar-a-Lago ‘Raid’: It’s about the Capitol Riot, Not the Mishandling of Classified Information

Dan McLaughlin: How to Prosecute Donald Trump

Charles C. W. Cooke: Bored to Death by Trump

Isaac Schorr: ‘A Wall of Flame in the Women’s Restroom’: Why Starbucks Is Closing Stores across the Country

Isaac Schorr: Peter Meijer Reflects on Trump’s Hold on the GOP after Primary Loss

John Bolton: What We Can Learn from Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit

Caroline Downey: FBI Investigations into Wave of Pro-Life Pregnancy Center Vandalism Stall

Rich Lowry: No, Joe Biden Still Isn’t a Good President

Kevin Williamson: Big Lies Matter

Ryan Mills: Colorado’s Offender-Centered, Anti-Cop Policies Blamed for ‘Crime Tsunami’

Jimmy Quinn: Taiwanese Official Warns of ‘Possible Invasion’ as China Ramps Up Military Activity

Roger Wicker: A National-Defense Renaissance

CAPITAL MATTERS

Andrew Stuttaford reports on a “dilemma” that’s not really a dilemma: China and an ESG ‘Dilemma’

Daniel Pilla explains who is likely to suffer when the IRS gets billions more for enforcement: Expect the IRS to Turn the Dogs Loose

Kevin Hassett flags the danger in recession denial: Recession Deniers Will Give Us a Depression

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Steven Spielberg tries something completely different. From Armond White: In Cannibal, Spielberg Returns to Realism

If you’re not reading Brian Allen’s art reviews regularly, remedy that. I learn something new every time: for instance, that Nashville has the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the world. The backstory has a real Devil in the White City vibe to it: The Parthenon in Nashville Brings Temple Ruins Back to Life

FROM THE NEW, AUGUST 29, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Ryan Mills: Schools Are Wasting Covid Cash

Madeleine Kearns: Sex Talk

Betsy DeVos: Classroom Disruption

Nat Malkus: Covid Costs for Kids

Jay Nordlinger: One Ukrainian’s Life

Jessica Hornik: Chuck It

THE ONLY PLACE YOU’LL FIND EXCERPTS FOR UNDER $3 A GALLON

Andrew McCarthy sorts out the Mar-a-Lago mess:

There’s a game prosecutors play. Let’s say I suspect X committed an armed robbery, but I know X is dealing drugs. So, I write a search-warrant application laying out my overwhelming probable cause that X has been selling small amounts of cocaine from his apartment. I don’t say a word in the warrant about the robbery, but I don’t have to. If the court grants me the warrant for the comparatively minor crime of cocaine distribution, the agents are then authorized to search the whole apartment. If they find robbery tools, a mask, and a gun, the law allows them to seize those items. As long as agents are conducting a legitimate search, they are authorized to seize any obviously incriminating evidence they come across. Even though the warrant was ostensibly about drug offenses, the prosecutors can use the evidence seized to charge robbery.

I believe that principle is key to understanding the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday. The ostensible justification for the search of Trump’s compound is his potentially unlawful retention of government records and mishandling of classified information. The real reason is the Capitol riot.

The Justice Department is not ready to charge Trump for the riot. It lacks proof that he is criminally culpable for the violence. As for the non-violent potential crimes it is investigating — obstruction of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the government — these are based on disputed theories that Trump and his apologists could persuasively frame as a partisan weaponization of the Justice Department against the likely 2024 GOP nominee. Consequently, the DOJ does not want to suggest that Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation related to the Capitol riot. Nor does it want to be perceived as having told a court it has probable cause tying Trump to Capitol riot crimes.

Nevertheless, prosecutors investigating did want to search Trump’s premises for potential evidence of Capitol riot crimes. The former president’s apparent violations of government records and classified information laws gave the DOJ the pretext it needed.

Charles C. W. Cooke, for one, has reached peak Trump exhaustion. Surely, he is not alone:

I am inordinately bored of Donald Trump.

I’m bored of the man himself. I’m bored of his opponents. I’m bored of his supporters. I’m bored of the manner in which every last question that animates our politics is eventually plotted onto a graph that has his face at its center. You name anything Trump-related, I’m bored of it. . . .

“Trump broke us,” people say. Indeed. We used to talk about ideas, rules, positions, consequences. Now we talk about him. Previous generations argued about slavery or tariffs or free silver or the interstate commerce clause. We argue about Donald Trump. And even when we don’t, we end up referring to him obliquely, as if he were the Earth’s core. “What do you think of the governor of Maryland?” someone will ask, and, immediately, it’s back to Trump. What do you think of the decision in Dobbs? Because, you see, Trump did that — or didn’t do that, if you prefer. Nothing can ever be about what it’s actually about; it has to be about Donald Trump. A few years ago, someone told me that my opposition to Trump’s position on American libel law was “actually” driven by my snobbish dislike of his “Queens accent.” Me! A guy who was born in rural England. Does that really seem likely? Never mind.

Ryan Mills, in the latest issue of NR, details how schools are blowing Covid cash:

Presented with more than $139 million in Covid-19 relief money, J. A. Gonzalez, the superintendent of the McAllen Independent School District in South Texas, vowed last year to spend the unprecedented sum creatively, strategically, and appropriately.

Speaking on his SuperTalk videocast in June 2021, Gonzalez called the federal funding “very special” and told parents that he and his staff were working hard to develop a spending plan focused on closing pandemic-related instructional gaps and providing teachers and students with the resources they needed to “get back to the level that we were at pre-pandemic.”

Not surprisingly, the district attracted scrutiny earlier this year after it released a spending plan that devoted millions to projects that some see as unrelated to those goals.

The 46-page plan dedicated $12 million to build intimate, multipurpose fine-arts theaters at the district’s three high schools; $4 million to construct educational pods at a city-owned nature sanctuary; $7.7 million for athletics, including new turf fields and gym equipment; and $1.75 million for an e-sports video-game center.

McAllen is not the only school district that has faced pushback for how it plans to spend its Covid-relief dollars. School districts across the country, finding themselves in the unusual position of being flooded with cash they need to spend fast, have found scores of questionable uses for the money.

Sewing machines, batting helmets, security cameras, band risers, T-shirts, and floor polishers are all among the items that school districts around the country plan to purchase with their Covid money, according to news reports. There are lots of proposals for new playgrounds and updated weight rooms. In Whitewater, Wis., the school district used $2 million in pandemic-relief funding to free up local dollars to install synthetic-turf sports fields. Another Wisconsin school district is paying the superintendent’s wife $130,000 to promote an online-learning tool to district parents, according to a local news report. A Michigan school district proposed spending $120,000 on a food truck for its culinary-arts program and $10,000 for a “nutrition room” to make smoothies for student athletes, Chalkbeat Detroit reported in April.

The questionable spending is just one troubling, though entirely predictable, outgrowth of the haphazard way Congress doled out more than $190 billion in Covid relief for schools. The money came with few guardrails, little guidance about what, exactly, it was for and how to spend it appropriately, and virtually no direction for how to measure success.

Isaac Schorr provides the crime stats — as well as the on-the-ground perspective — that help explain why Starbucks is closing stores:

Amelia Jones worked at the now-closed East Olive Way Starbucks in Seattle for about three years until this spring, and described her experience in an interview with National Review.

Jones acknowledged there is “a high number of houseless people in the neighborhood,” but pushed back on the idea that that represented a threat in and of itself, calling “most of them . . . quite polite.”

But there were exceptions: “Either late winter 2019 or early 2020, we had a lady come in and actually set fire to the women’s restroom,” recalled Jones. “One of my coworkers noticed a smoke smell and he’s like, ‘Hey, is that bathroom on fire?’ And we open the door and there’s like a wall of flame in the women’s restroom.”

“There was a guy who would routinely come in and threaten people. Either he would have a weapon on him — he carried around a broomstick, without the broom part, basically, and he’d threaten people and call people names,” she continued. “But that’d maybe happen once a month.”

A review of crime data from those urban centers confirms that Jones’s experience was not unique to her Seattle location.

A National Review analysis of statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department found that between January 1 and July 20 of this year, 1,777 crimes — including only vehicular break-ins, assault, burglary, vehicular theft, robbery, larceny, arson, and homicide — were committed within a radius of 1,500 feet of the six closing stores.

That includes 326 assaults, 141 robberies, 17 instances of arson, 173 stolen vehicles, and 452 vehicles broken into within an area of the city spanning less than two square miles.

Shout-Outs

Miranda Devine, at the New York Post: FBI searched Melania’s wardrobe, spent hours in Trump’s private office during Mar-a-Lago raid

Christopher Rufo, at City Journal: Soldiers for the Gender Revolution

Geoff Edgers, at the Washington Post: How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire

Bar Niazov, at the College Fix: CUNY group wants Jewish students to ‘unlearn’ support for Israel

CODA

We’re all starting to feel it, and there ain’t no cure for it. Here’s the Who, singing it. I type, of course, of the “Summertime Blues.”

White House

Is Biden Really on a Winning Streak?

Loading...
President Joe Biden reacts as he takes his seat before delivering remarks on the economy at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2022. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

You’ll probably guess before reading too much further into this newsletter that we think the answer to the question above is “Not really, no.”

But President Biden should get credit, of course, for the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri is no longer here (courtesy of the bladed “Flying Ginsu,” it seems, he’s there, and there, and there, and, oh look, some more over there . . . ).

It was one of a few things going right for this administration — heck, the country — at a time when everything else seems to be going wrong. Jim Geraghty rounds up the Biden “W’s” here:

Joe Biden ordered the strike against Zawahiri, and the al-Qaeda leader assumed room temperature on his watch, so Biden gets to take a victory lap. Shocking as this may seem to some people, Biden really is having a good stretch, particularly compared to the rest of this year’s cavalcade of disasters.

He got a superconductor chips bill through Congress, and Joe Manchin came around on a smaller version of Build Back Better, as long as it was called the “Inflation Reduction Act.” There are some signs that the Democratic enthusiasm for the midterms is picking up a bit and that Republican Senate candidates are underperforming in some key states. And now, he’s overseen the Zawahiri strike.

So the president is having a good stretch. Add to that a pro-choice victory in Kansas this week.

But a “winning streak,” as Axios’s Mike Allen terms it, seems charitable given (a) economic conditions that are of far greater concern to voters and (b) the devilish details of the “wins” themselves.

The Inflation Reduction Act appears to be moving forward after the pivotal Senator Kyrsten Sinema signed on. But even if it passes, it’s unlikely to do much about the thing that’s in the title of the bill. Per an analysis produced by the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the impact on inflation is “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

Not encouraging.

As NR’s editorial notes, “Voters want to see inflation actually come down, not their member of Congress vote for the words ‘inflation reduction.’” Rich Lowry calls the bill a “non sequitur,” meeting the challenge of inflation with new spending and the threat of recession with new taxes. His assessment:

The bill isn’t going to remake Biden’s foundering presidency, but it will make Democratic activists feel a little better.

To the backdrop of these developments is the heavily debated news that GDP seemingly shrank for two consecutive quarters, meeting the commonly accepted definition of a recession (though the administration and allied economists dispute it), and, more importantly, inflation, which at last read was a hair-singeing 9.1 percent. In Gallup’s measure, Biden’s approval rating just dipped below 40 percent for the first time.

Will the accomplishments above move the needle much? Skepticism is warranted. What this really is, Jim concludes, is a “false dawn”:

A week from today, the new Consumer Price Index numbers come out, updating our sense of how bad inflation is. Once again, we don’t know what the precise figure is going to be, but we know the number isn’t going to be good. One projection is 9.2 percent, and Kiplinger expects inflation to remain near 9 percent for the rest of the year. . . .

When inflation is raging at a 40-year high, and gas and food prices are skyrocketing, the incumbent party is going to get thrashed.

Jim also points out, as we approach the ignominious anniversary of the Afghanistan pullout, that the Zawahiri strike underscores that Kabul, where he was killed, was hitherto a safe place for him in the wake of the American departure and Taliban takeover.

The asterisk here is that the fate of Biden and his party could be guided in the near term more by what the Republicans do to themselves. Tuesday was not a great night for sane congressional/gubernatorial candidates. Incumbent Republican congressman Peter Meijer lost to John Gibbs in Michigan after committing the apparent sin of voting to impeach Donald Trump. Democrats crassly poured money into boosting Gibbs (more on that below) — but they didn’t force anybody to vote for him. Republican voters, exercising democratic rights and free will, chose the guy who likes to call Trump’s 2020 election loss “mathematically impossible.” Election conspiracist Kari Lake days later secured a win in the Arizona gubernatorial primary. Meanwhile, Dr. Oz is not doing great as the celebrity Republican nominee in Pennsylvania’s Senate race.

All this said — correct, the answer is “Not really, no.”

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Pelosi’s brave trip to Taiwan should be followed up with meaningful action against the CCP: Pelosi’s Courageous Trip to Taiwan

For pro-lifers aiming to persuade the voting public in the wake of Dobbs, some specifics will be required:  The Lessons of Kansas

Bravo, Mr. President: Zawahiri Deserves to Rot

ARTICLES

Jimmy Quinn: Top Chinese Diplomat Vows ‘Reeducation’ of Taiwan after ‘Reunification’

Luther Ray Abel: The Prius Has Been Wronged

Caroline Downey: Buffalo Pregnancy Center Firebombed by Pro-Abortion Extremists Reopens after Spending $100,000 on Security

George Leef: The Absurd End to the UNC–Nikole Hannah-Jones Furor

Brittany Bernstein: Arizona AG Investigation Debunks Claim That Hundreds of Dead Voters Cast Ballots in 2020

Andrew Follett: China’s Space Ambitions Just Came Crashing Back Down to Earth

Diana Glebova: One NYC Council Member Criticized Drag Queen Story Hour. She Faced Threats So Severe She Requested Police Protection

Kevin Williamson: Signs of the Times

Andrew McCarthy: Grand Jury Subpoenas Pat Cipollone, in Signal DOJ Is Weighing Trump Indictment

Ramesh Ponnuru: The Pro-Life Defeat in Kansas

Dan McLaughlin: Vin Scully: A Personal Remembrance

Charles Hilu: Peter Meijer Lost His Race; Democrats Lost Their Moral High Ground

Philip Klein: There’s No Denying Trump’s Enduring Power within the Republican Party

Ryan Mills: Are Minneapolis Democrats Sane Enough to Dump Ilhan Omar, Elect Don Samuels?

CAPITAL MATTERS

Joel Zinberg sees health authorities drawing the wrong lessons from Covid in dealing with monkeypox: WHO Is Fighting the Last War

Steve Hanke & Matt Sekerke are out with a scorching crypto takedown. Give it a read: What’s Next for Crypto, Winter or Extinction?

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

The sustained effort to jam everything, everywhere, all at once through the prism of racism, colonialism, imperialism (let’s call it the “ism, schism game,” with apologies to Bob Marley) is getting quite tiresome. Brian Allen writes on the latest instance: In the Met’s Crosscurrents Show, Great Homers Can’t Hide Shoddy Scholarship

Armond White dissects the new Bey release: The Madonna-fying of Beyoncé

KIDS, WE’RE GOING OUT FOR EXCERPTS TONIGHT

More on the Peter Meijer loss, and Democrats’ role in the whole thing, by Charles “Mr. Michigan” Hilu:

A mere week before [Meijer’s] primary for the Republican nomination in Michigan’s third congressional district — which he lost to MAGA challenger John Gibbs on Tuesday — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ran a TV ad in the district, calling Gibbs “too conservative for west Michigan.” Though the ad was critical of Gibbs, the intent behind it was clear. Republican voters would likely gravitate toward the candidate whom Democrats hated the most. The DCCC knew this, and that is why it spent $435,000 to boost Gibbs in the race. . . .

There is no shortage of lamentable actions from the GOP in relation to the events of January 6: the effort to object to the 2020 election’s certification, Senator Josh Hawley’s raising his fist to the crowd of protesters that would soon become marauders, and Trump’s wishy-washy condemnation of those who illegally entered the Capitol. Additionally, Republican voters are the ones who have the final say in the election, and the moral blame of nominating Gibbs ultimately falls on them. But in terms of party leadership in the present moment, it is hard to see how Democrats are not doing markedly worse damage to democracy than Republicans. The GOP is bound by its voters. If the people want to nominate a “stop the steal” candidate, Republican leaders have no choice but to go along, lest America return to a “King Caucus” system, in which the party establishment chooses a candidate without a popular vote. Democrats, on the other hand, could have chosen not to aid an effort, which, by their own admission, is antithetical to the Constitution. Unlike Republicans who have a duty to follow their constituents’ wishes, they have no obligation to give monetary assistance to Gibbs and others. With these efforts, they have gone out of their way to prop up the people they have told voters to ostracize. . . .

The United States Constitution is durable, and it has endured more menacing threats throughout American history. But if MAGA Republicans somehow do destroy our system, Democrats will have been complicit.

Caroline Downey follows up on a pregnancy center that was firebombed, and the costs that attack imposed:

A Buffalo pro-life pregnancy center that was firebombed and vandalized by pro-abortion extremist group Jane’s Revenge in June has re-opened its doors to patients after rebuilding for 52 days and incurring over $100,000 in new security expenses.

After the arson attack against Compass Care in Buffalo, N.Y., Jane’s Revenge claimed responsibility in an online memorandum. It also threatened to unleash a rampage of violence against pro-life clinics nationwide following the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

The day after it was firebombed, Compass Care relocated so it could continue offering its services to distressed pregnant women, CEO Jim Harden told National Review. “This is the generosity of the people of Buffalo; we were offered three different alternate locations,” he says. The one he settled on was left undisclosed for safety reasons.

While the organization’s Buffalo operation, which Harden claims doesn’t receive a “dime of state or federal money,” quickly repaired the damage and rebounded, it’s in a financially disadvantaged position now. The center had to implement all kinds of expensive security measures, including armed guards at the undisclosed location and a secured perimeter and entry points, he says.

“Security alone at all three of our sites has cost $150,000 this year. In the next budget it will probably cost us an additional $80,000 every year,” he adds. Harden even had to temporarily move his family due to doxxing from pro-abortion activists.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the attack have still not been caught, he says.

In the most recent issue of the magazine, Andrew Stuttaford explains the full scope, and telltale signs, of Putin’s genocide:

Putin’s tirades have been echoed by incendiary commentary in Russia, none of which, presumably, has appeared without some degree of official approval. This has included the dehumanization of Ukrainians — another characteristic of genocide — as, in a peculiarly perverse historical twist, “Nazis.” More-usual fare, such as comparisons with insects, has not been neglected but clearly was not thought to be enough. Some of this appears to have been internalized by the invading forces, with effects — such as the mass killing, torture, and rape of civilians in Bucha, not far from Kyiv — that have been as horrific as they were predictable.

Some of the ruin that the Russians have left in their wake has been of Ukraine’s cultural heritage. Perhaps the destruction of museums, such as one dedicated to a prominent pre-revolutionary painter from Mariupol and another, near Kharkiv, to an 18th-century Ukrainian philosopher, was collateral damage. Perhaps. And perhaps, in Borodyanka, the shots into a bust of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s national poet, who was persecuted under the czars for favoring something dangerously close to an independent Ukraine, were merely the result of malicious high spirits of a type not infrequently displayed by occupying armies. Perhaps. But as early as April, Ukrainian officials were talking of the destruction of dozens of churches, monuments, and other sites of cultural significance in what looks disturbingly like a repeat, sometimes improvised, sometimes more carefully targeted, of the wholesale destruction of, to quote one prominent Stalinist apparatchik, “historical junk” in Kyiv after the effective abandonment of indigenization in the 1930s. Meanwhile, Russian history books, those endlessly rewritten devices for the propagation of an invented past, have been arriving in the schools of occupied Ukraine.

More sinister still, well over a million Ukrainians have been forcibly “relocated” across Russia, among them hundreds of thousands of children, including, reportedly, orphans — some young enough to forget their identity and their language and thus prime candidates for assimilation. Those who remain in Ukraine’s occupied cities are increasingly being taught in Russian, while Ukrainian is . . . discouraged.

On any commonsense understanding of the word or, for that matter, of a reading of Lemkin, there can be little doubt that what is occurring in Ukraine is genocide. Unsurprisingly, given their countries’ own decades-long sufferings, the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian parliaments have declared the war in Ukraine to be genocidal, in each case unanimously. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has joined in arguing that it is “hard to deny” that genocide is under way. President Biden has also applied the term, explaining that he “called it genocide because it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian.” The State Department has, however, stressed that the president’s comments should not be read as a formal declaration that that threshold had been crossed.

A famous sports broadcaster died this week, and America lost an icon. Dan McLaughlin lost a family member too. Read his moving tribute to his uncle, Vin Scully, here:

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. The larger-than-life hero in my life was Vin Scully. For millions of people, he was like a member of the family. For me, he was. He was my mom’s brother, and it was just the two of them. How could he not be my hero? He died Tuesday at 94, just shy of the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. He lived as rich and meaningful a life as any man could hope for, yet he endured many tragedies. We shall miss him deeply, as will the whole world of baseball. . . .

As a cop’s son growing up in the New York suburbs in the 1970s, I treated a visit from Uncle Vin as something on the order of having Batman drop by the house. Any other time, we were ordinary people, but he was a Star. He got us down on the field to meet Tom Seaver and Don Sutton and the rest at my first baseball game, when I was four. We’d hang out by the front window trying to guess what color rental car he was driving. But then, we’d go to a nearby diner, because it was where my grandmother liked to go. I have a vivid memory from those years of Vin and my dad, both in shirt and tie, changing a tire in the parking lot at Hogan’s Diner.

The greatest moment, of course, was his Hall of Fame induction in 1982, when I was ten, for which we got to stay in the Otesaga Hotel with all the Hall of Famers. One morning at breakfast, the table behind us was all the oldest guys: Bill Terry, Bill Dickey, Charlie Gehringer. It was a card collection come to life. I sat with Warren Spahn on the bus ride to the induction.

It was a brutally hot day, and we all came home cursing Happy Chandler, who spoke endlessly. Hank Aaron, who went last, must have thrown out his prepared text (we could see his parents, who had been sharecroppers in Alabama, suffering in the sun) and mostly thanked people. Vin’s speech, which had the advantage of being early in the day, was a masterpiece of concision, humility, gratitude, faith, and awe.

I do not give too much away, and likely will not surprise anyone, in saying that the private Vin was exactly the same as the public Vin. He was generous and even-tempered and in every sense a gentleman. When he called the house, he broadcasted: you could hear his voice coming out of the phone halfway across the room. In later years, a voicemail from Vin was a small treasure in itself, with a beginning, an anecdote, and a conclusion.

Shout-Outs

Mariam Memarsadeghi, at Tablet: Iran Is About to Murder Another Journalist

Sarah Ellison & Jeremy Barr, at the Washington Post: The Murdochs and Trump aligned for mutual benefit. That may be changing.

Amanda Mayer, at Campus Reform: ‘Angry White Male Studies’ course comes to campus this fall

Byron York, at the Washington Examiner: The dam breaks, and key Dems run away from Biden ’24

CODA

Among his famous quartet’s many, many albums, Dave Brubeck and company released several records in the ’50s and ’60s titled as “impressions” of the various locations they’d played. Jazz Impressions of Japan is one I picked up years ago and would highly recommend. It features some memorable up-tempo impressions reflecting surely the bustle of that country, but the serene “Fujiyama,” with its airy sax serving as tour guide, stands out. Dave recalled in the liner notes, “I tried to imagine a pilgrimage up the slope of [Mount] Fuji,” in explaining the theme.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Elections

The Trump Enchantment

Loading...
Former President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the America First Policy Institute America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2022. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Donald Trump, granted, could yet win in 2024 given that Democrats have strategists who spitball terms like “ultra-MAGA” and “Trumped-up trickle down” and then think, “Yes. Perfect. That.”

Say what you will about the tenets of Trumpism, at least the man can brand.

Of course, he also can dither and scorn executive duty while a mob hunts for his vice president.

The workings of the January 6 committee — which, as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out, is essentially building the impeachment case the House should have brought from the start — have helped establish what already was clear to many: This is not a man who should ever again hold public office. Do Democrats want to use the committee drama as ammo in a recession-stained election year? Sure they do. Are Democrats proving their words hollow by boosting pro-Trump candidates as part of a crass political play? You bet. That ickiness does not alter the truth. As the New York Post’s editorial board observed of Trump, “He was the only person who could stop what was happening. He was the only one the crowd was listening to. It was incitement by silence.”

Yet cults of personality are stubborn things, and Trump enjoys sustained enthusiasm from his base and the devotion of organizational machinery. A straw poll from a Turning Point USA summit last weekend showed him crushing the hypothetical GOP competition by nearly 60 points. Trump fired up a D.C. audience on Tuesday as he teased a possible 2024 run. And the House Republican apparatus continues to defend the former president in real time against the dread — *checks notes* — Liz Cheney, former director of the House Republican apparatus.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Unlike the Democrats’ perma-gerontocracy bench (more on that from Kevin Williamson here), the GOP roster is brimming with talent. Ron DeSantis, Mike Pompeo, Tim Scott, Tom Cotton, Nikki Haley, Kristi Noem . . . the list goes on. And not one of those people treated the vice president’s pulse like a poker chip. (Mike Pence, while we’re at it, goes on that list too.)

Dan McLaughlin wrote recently for the magazine about how the 2012 election “deranged” America, the thesis being that Barack Obama discarded the conventional strategy of winning the center that year in favor of pursuing enormous base turnout. Dan recalled:

While weak in the center, Obama rolled up colossal margins at the edges: 93 to 6 among black voters (96 to 3 among black women), 76 to 22 among LGBT voters, 73 to 26 among Asians, 71 to 27 among Hispanics, 67 to 31 among unmarried women, and 63 to 31 among nonreligious whites.

Polling suggests, however, that this will be a difficult strategy for Democrats to replicate today, given that Hispanics are abandoning Biden and that other groups thought to be part of their expanding base are similarly drifting away. At the same time, Republicans should consider the opportunity these changes present and seek a nominee who won’t turn back converts. Fox News polling indicates Trump is just as unpopular as Biden among independents, and less popular than Biden among Hispanics.

Trump World, meanwhile, is serious about its return to power. Jonathan Swan at Axios has published a fascinating look at allies’ preparations for an “administration-in-waiting.” They’re not deluded in making them. As Jim Geraghty notes, the “default setting” for many Republicans right now is still Trump. If he is indeed nominated again, Jim forecasts, “the 2024 general election will be dominated by arguments about January 6, and Trump’s insistence that he was the true legitimate winner of 2020, and the cockamamie theories of Sidney Powell and Lin Wood and Venezuelan hackers and Chinese bamboo in the paper ballots of Arizona.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Fred Bauer offers a slightly more optimistic view, noting Trump is no longer the only viable populist on the stage and suggesting he’ll face significant obstacles in a reboot. Dan specifically puts the onus on Ron DeSantis to figure out a way to disarm Donald 2024 without leaving his base dispirited. But, as Jim wrote this week in regard to another race, “Republicans have a choice.”

The Democrats’ base is shrinking, yet the party is incapable of reaching beyond it. The Republicans don’t have the first problem. Why induce the second?

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Congress should not let this moment pass: Time to Pass Electoral Count Act Reform

Spending gobs of money will reduce inflation, right? Right? Manchin’s ‘Inflation Reduction’ Deal Won’t Save Democrats

We don’t say this often but, Go, Nancy: Pelosi Must Go to Taiwan

ARTICLES

Jim Geraghty: Who Saw This Recession Coming? Lots of People

Isaac Schorr: Now It’s a Recession, Now It’s Not: Media Parrot White House Talking Points on Economy

Ryan Mills: Guilty until Proven Innocent: Biden Title IX Changes Mean Return to ‘Dark Ages’ for Falsely Accused Students

Stanley Kurtz: How Stacey Abrams Hijacked Civics

Abigail Anthony: American Academy of Pediatrics Accused of Censoring Concerns about ‘Gender-Affirmative Care’

Abigail Anthony: The Sexual Experiment at the Ivy Leagues

Charles Hilu: The University of Michigan’s Cancel-Culture Problem: ‘It Has Real Consequences’

Jack Fowler: Republican Attorneys General March into Battle

Alexandra DeSanctis: How Every State Pro-Life Law Handles Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage

Jack Wolfsohn: What Happened to the Supreme Court Leaker Investigation?

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Republicans Need to Investigate the Pandemic Response

Brittany Bernstein: Clarence Thomas Will No Longer Teach Law Seminar at George Washington University

Kevin Williamson: The White House Can’t Weasel Its Way Out of a Recession

CAPITAL MATTERS

Dominic Pino spots a potentially troubling sign for energy prices: Oil-Tanker Orders at a Record Low

Just how inflationary is Biden’s term to date? Joseph Sullivan does the historical comparison: Biden Sets a New Inflation Record

David Bahnsen has a reality check, and a podcast, on the ESG trend: The Bankruptcy of ESG Is Being Exposed

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White praises a film — which is not a Frozen installment — about a lover lost in the woods: The Grace and Wisdom of My Donkey, My Lover & I

Brian Allen continues his streak of highlighting the best exhibits and museums in Washington, including this newcomer: Planet Word Wows in D.C.

FROM THE NEW, AUGUST 15, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Kevin Williamson: The Nuclear Heresy

Andrew Stuttaford: Putin’s Genocide in Ukraine

Madeleine Kearns: Marital Clash

Jimmy Quinn: The Department of Woke

THE PLATINUM PACKAGE INCLUDES EXCERPTS. YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU WENT WITH THE PLATINUM PACKAGE

Michael Brendan Dougherty urges congressional Republicans to prioritize a pandemic-response audit:

The Covid era saw us take utterly extraordinary steps with monetary and fiscal policy. The word “lockdown” entered our normal political vocabulary — as if the measures used to quell a prison riot were just the sort of thing that governors or the federal government could impose on free citizens. An odd private–public partnership for censorship emerged in which government information became the basis for mass editing of America’s most important public forums: digital social media.

And the history is being rewritten as we speak. Dr. Anthony Fauci this week has said two astonishing things. First, to the Hill’s Batya Ungar-Sargon he said, “I didn’t recommend locking anything down.” He continued: “I have always felt — and go back and look at my statements — that we need to do everything we can to keep the schools open and safe.” In the exact same interview, he said that if he could go back, he would recommend a “much more stringent” response. . . .

Scores of millions of parents figured out that their children weren’t at serious risk and by the summer of 2020 could read credible science showing their kids at school did not pose serious risks to others. Yet they were shut down.

These millions of people have reasons privately to feel vindicated. But they deserve to have someone in public life affirm the fact that they weren’t crazy, that in fact public health did mislead them, shaded the truth, and occasionally abused the trust placed in them.

All the other issues — including inflation, the youth mental-health crisis, and the cultural battles over education in schools — flow out of our pandemic response, and the mistakes we made in it. Auditing the pandemic response should be a prerequisite for Republican governance after the 2022 election and for any Republican hoping to represent the party in 2024.

Alexandra DeSanctis comprehensively addresses the misinformation clouding the abortion debate when it comes to ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. What follows is her introduction to a state-by-state guide to what pro-life laws say on the issue:

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, supporters of legal abortion have leveled the false accusation that pro-life laws threaten pregnant mothers facing medical emergencies. In particular, abortion advocates claim that laws prohibiting abortion will make it more difficult or even impossible for women suffering from an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage to receive necessary treatment.

In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants somewhere outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. In the absence of emergency treatment, ectopic pregnancy will cause severe and life-threatening health consequences for the mother, because there isn’t room for the child to develop. Miscarriage management, meanwhile, involves caring for a pregnant mother whose unborn child has died spontaneously. The standard of care for post-miscarriage treatment differs depending on how far along the pregnancy is.

Abortion supporters have argued that state abortion limits aren’t clear about whether these types of health care are permitted — and they have argued that, as a result of this supposed lack of clarity, doctors have declined to perform necessary and potentially life-saving procedures out of fear of reprisal from officials enforcing state pro-life laws.

This is simply not the case. If doctors are doing so — and abortion supporters have offered little evidence of a systemic problem in this regard — it is the fault of the doctors themselves, not the fault of the pro-life laws, which are eminently clear. The pro-life worldview has always held that both lives matter, that of the mother and that of her unborn child. It is always permissible to act to care for a pregnant mother whose life is at risk.

Jack Fowler chronicles the progressive capture of a supposedly bipartisan organization, and the backlash to it:

“All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.”

Those interested in watching O’Sullivan’s First Law play out in real time should pay attention to the ways and means of the allegedly bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General, a.k.a. “NAAG,” whose ideological-trending ways have forced a growing number of Republican members to head for the exits.

How wise this craze is for America is a matter for consideration.

NAAG’s membership — attorneys general from the 50 states, plus AGs from Guam, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — has been depleted by five members since early 2021. All departures are by Republicans. All cited serious concerns with the institution’s ideological trajectory, its practices, and its thrall over money as their reasons for leaving.

Alabama AG Steven Marshall jump-started the walk-out in April 2021. “I can’t justify spending taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that seems to be going further and further left,” he explained. “With the money we will save, I can add a young lawyer to my consumer protection division and yield a far better return on the taxpayer’s investment.”

It took a while, but the following May, a trio of Republicans — Ken Paxton (Texas), Eric Schmitt (Missouri), and Austin Knudsen (Montana) — wrote to NAAG’s Democrat chairman, Tom Miller, Iowa’s long-serving attorney general, to announce that they were following Marshall out the door.

An excellent piece of reporting on the impact of Title IX changes, by Ryan Mills:

While the woman who’d accused him of rape appeared before a Columbia University panel in June 2017, Ben Feibleman was in another room watching it on Zoom.

Feibleman was not allowed to cross-examine his accuser during the hearing to determine if he would be expelled from the school, potentially scarring his personal and professional life permanently. He wasn’t even allowed to be in the same room with her.

During the hearing, Feibleman was also barred from discussing a medical report that found his accuser was likely not impaired or unable to consent to sexual activity the night of the alleged assault. He was barred from discussing his accuser’s behavior that he said eventually caused her friends to doubt her. If Feibleman mentioned any of it, he’d be removed from the hearing.

Feibleman’s written statement to the three-member hearing panel was heavily redacted, according to court records. The panel took no testimony. Members refused to ask questions of Feibleman or his accuser that Feibleman had repeatedly begged them to ask about evidence he’d submitted in his favor — hundreds of photos, videos, and a damning audio recording.

And then the panel found Feibleman guilty. He was expelled and denied his diploma.

“Nobody had any interest in my version of events,” Feibleman told National Review.

Feibleman’s experience with a less-than-fair quasi-judicial university hearing was not unique in the years after the Obama administration issued Title IX guidance documents directing the nation’s colleges and universities to crack down on sexual harassment and sexual violence cases on and off campus. The Obama-era guidance essentially tipped the scales in the direction of the accusers, typically women, with millions of dollars of federal funding for schools on the line. . . .

During the Trump administration, former secretary of education Betsy DeVos pushed back, issuing more-balanced regulations requiring schools to offer basic due-process rights to both the accuser and the accused in sex-assault cases. Accused students were presumed innocent until proven guilty. They had the right to a live hearing with cross-examination and the right to see the evidence. Schools could again use a stronger clear-and-convincing standard of evidence.

But in late June, President Joe Biden’s administration proposed sweeping new regulations that would roll back many of those protections, fulfilling a promise he’d made during his campaign. The right to a live hearing? Gone under the Biden proposal. The right to cross-examination? Also gone. Schools could launch sexual-assault investigations without a formal complaint. The single-investigator model would be back on the table.

Shout-Outs

Jonathan Swan, at Axios: A radical plan for Trump’s second term

Robby Soave, at Reason: Anthony Fauci Says If We Could Do It Again, COVID-19 Restrictions Would Be ‘Much, Much More Stringent’

Christian Datoc, at the Washington Examiner: Biden staffers left White House in year one at higher rate than Trump and Obama

Jessica Chasmar, at Fox News: Joe Biden met with at least 14 of Hunter’s business associates while vice president

CODA

Time for a reader rec: A couple weeks back, this newsletter put out the call for a ’90s throwback. Kevin Antonio writes in with Suzanne Vega’s bossa-nova-inspired “Caramel,” from 1996. It is impossible to remark on this song without use of the word “sultry,” so I won’t try.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Law & the Courts

A Travesty of Criminal Justice

Loading...
A video screengrab of Minneapolis mother Arabella Foss-Yarbrough confronting Black Lives Matters protesters at a rally. (FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul/Screengrab via YouTube)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Sometimes you have to scream to be heard.

Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, a Minneapolis mother, proved that last weekend as she confronted Black Lives Matter activists gathered in support of the man who allegedly shot into her apartment while she and her kids were inside.  

Viral video of that encounter, if you haven’t seen it, captures better than almost any on-camera moment the primary obstacle for the progressive criminal-justice project: the visceral frustration and anger on the part of people whose real-world experience clashes daily with the abstract vision of activists and policy-makers.

In this case, the Minneapolis mother had to shout at activists milling around that “this is not a George Floyd situation,” after Tekle Sundberg — a black man who allegedly had been firing inside the building — was shot dead by police during a long standoff. Somebody can be heard telling her that “this is not the time or the place.” When an activist approaches the mother and an argument ensues, Foss-Yarbrough loses all control — understandably.

“My black kid is in the car! . . . He tried to kill me in front of my kids!” she screams as loudly as a person can scream, enunciating and slamming her chest, desperate for those words to be understood by the protesters demanding body-cam footage, since released. She screams it again, and again, hammering her own body, as the activist says whatever it is one says to explain how the account of the mother with bullet holes in her kitchen isn’t instantly dispositive.

Municipal leaders and the activists who pressure them would be wise to study this tape, as well as other signs from the universe that the constituency for inverting the treatment of victims and criminals — for treating culpability as something fluid — is diminishing.

Take Chesa Boudin, the erstwhile San Francisco district attorney who was recalled last month, rebuked by otherwise sympathetic residents fed up with social decay. As Ryan Mills reported at the time:

[Boudin] ended cash bail, stopped prosecuting drug-possession cases stemming from “pretextual” traffic stops, stopped using “enhancements” to extend prison sentences for convicted gang members, and stopped prosecuting so-called quality-of-life crimes — things such as prostitution, public camping, public defecation, and open-air drug use. Supporters of the recall say that sent a message that San Francisco was a consequence-free place to engage in low-level crimes, which simply encouraged more crime in the city generally.

Such lawlessness is affecting daily life for shop owners and residents well beyond the Bay. Isaac Schorr reported on a string of 7-Eleven robberies that prompted the company to encourage Los Angeles stores to briefly close. Starbucks, meanwhile, plans to permanently shutter 16 city locations over safety concerns, Brittany Bernstein reports, with “many” more to follow. Explaining this, CEO Howard Schultz accused government leaders of having “abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental health.” Few might shed a tear for the Starbucks CEO. But the experience of your average barista or store clerk resonates — which is why the warped justice on display this month in New York City struck a chord. The Manhattan DA faced an immense backlash from bodega workers after he tried to prosecute one of their own who fatally stabbed his attacker in apparent self-defense. Afflicting the afflicted, again, has a small, if cruel, constituency. On Tuesday, Alvin Bragg at last backed off the charges. (“Best news of the week,” Rich Lowry noted.)

More introspection is required in tackling crime, and the infectious culture of crime. America, it is true, has a mass-shooting problem; revisiting gun laws and mental-health policies should be part of that solution. More fatally, yet receiving less attention, America has an unrelenting violence problem, one that law enforcement is best equipped to confront. You’ll find no objection here to demanding accountability and transparency from those entrusted with extraordinary power. As seen in the case of George Floyd, or the catastrophe in Uvalde, police officers sometimes do the patently wrong thing. But not every police-involved killing is George Floyd all over again. And not every effort to ease penalties for criminal offenders — or turn them into martyrs — is a blow for justice. Ask San Franciscans. Ask Arabella Foss-Yarbrough.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

The most important aspect of the Hunter Biden probe should not be the president’s son: Hunter Biden Investigation Must Look at Joe

A brewing Obamacare deal seems to lean on the sort of budget gimmicks the chief dealmaker once decried: The Joe Manchin Obamacare Expansion

ARTICLES

Nate Hochman: Farewell, Sweet Pandemic Prince

Isaac Schorr: Pain Beyond the Pump: Democrats’ Climate Agenda Threatens to Destroy State Budgets

John Fund: Jefferson and Madison Homes Seized by ‘Woke’ Detractors of the Founding Fathers

Ryan Mills: Bureaucrats Sue Moms Fighting for Transparency in School-Reopening Fight

Charles C. W. Cooke: Why Isn’t Hunter Biden Facing a Federal Gun Investigation?

Jack Wolfsohn: Merriam-Webster Changes the Definition of ‘Female’

Brittany Bernstein: Media Promote AOC, Omar Fake Handcuff Stunt

Diana Glebova: Trump-Backed Candidate Wins Maryland Gubernatorial Primary, Besting Hogan’s Chosen Successor

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Expertise Blinds Us

Jay Nordlinger: Cannon on Reagan, and Life

Kevin Williamson: The Dog Ate Their Accountability

Andrew McCarthy: Steve Bannon Turns His Trial into a Soapbox

Luther Ray Abel: Why My Ship Was Blown Up

Caroline Downey: Poll Shows Biden at 19 Percent Approval among Hispanics

A joint report: Telling the Truth about the 2020 Election

CAPITAL MATTERS

Thomas Hogan, with a Fed playbook: What Can the Fed Do about Inflation?

And Desmond Lachman, with a Fed excoriation: The Economic Consequences of Jerome Powell

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White unpacks Morrissey’s controversial new single: Morrissey’s ‘Bonfire of Teenagers’ Exposes Pop Treachery

Brian Allen on an exhibition that is pure Vermont and all things good: Lucioni Lights Up Vermont’s Shelburne Museum

In which Armond White’s assessment of the new Jordan Peele movie is the same as the movie’s title: Nope Continues the Castigation-as-Entertainment Trend

ALL LINKS AND NO EXCERPTS WOULD MAKE THIS A DULL NEWSLETTER

NR’s editorial on what the Hunter Biden investigators should be investigating:

The major question is whether Hunter is a vehicle by which his father, the now-president of the United States, indirectly cashed in on his political influence.

It’s certainly true that Hunter Biden has major tax problems. His ex-wife acknowledged in divorce proceedings that they owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS, the revenue agency slapped a $112,805.09 lien on the formerly married couple in 2019, and the District of Columbia added a $453,900 lien in July 2020. Kevin Morris, a wealthy Hollywood lawyer and Joe Biden booster, has reportedly extended a $2 million loan to Hunter, in order to pay his back taxes and other debts — obligations he can apparently not yet cover through his latest new career as an artist (or, rather, his newest shady arrangement for huge paydays with no disclosure of where the money comes from and where it goes).

The issue is much bigger than taxes, though. . . .

The [Hunter] laptop yielded information about a 2017–18 Biden family venture with a conglomerate known as CEFC, which was patently a Chinese intelligence operation. But it’s not just the laptop. After the New York Post broke the story, a witness came forward: Tony Bobulinski, an entrepreneur the Bidens and their associates recruited to build the corporate structure for a joint liquified-natural-gas venture with CEFC. Bobulinski has publicly stated that he had two face-to-face meetings with Joe Biden about the CEFC negotiations, as well as numerous meetings with Hunter and with Jim Biden, the now-president’s brother. . . .

President Biden continues to insist that he knew nothing of any of this and never discussed his son’s foreign business dealings. Even without Bobulinski’s contradictory account, that assertion was already risible given the mounting evidence that, while vice president, Biden met with some of Hunter’s associates from China, Ukraine, Mexico, and elsewhere. It is even more ridiculous now, given the recent revelation — reportedly due to the hacking of an encrypted back-up of a Hunter cellphone — that Biden left a voicemail for his son on the evening of December 18, 2018, after the New York Times published an article about the CEFC debacle. “I thought the article released online, it’s going to be published tomorrow in the Times, was good,” Biden said. “I think you’re clear.” Joe Biden knew CEFC was a big problem, and he was worried about it.

That, and not Hunter’s taxes, is why the Biden investigation matters. And there’s still more beyond CEFC. Hunter and his longtime partner Devon Archer (who was convicted in a federal fraud case in June 2018) were paid a combined $4 million to sit on the board of the shady Ukrainian energy company Burisma, beginning in 2014. The State Department raised the obvious problem with then-Vice President Biden that the arrangement was frustrating the administration’s anti-corruption message, but Biden took no action and Hunter kept getting paid.

In 2013, Hunter hitched a ride to Beijing with his father on Air Force Two to strike an investment partnership deal with another group of Chinese regime–connected financiers, including the Bank of China, an arm of the communist government whose investments are guided by its objectives. Hunter introduced the then-vice president to Jonathan Li, the point man on the China side of what would become Bohai Harvest RST. China licensed the venture days later, and suddenly Hunter had access to $3 billion in funds and investment opportunities in China unavailable to the unconnected.

This venture worked against American interests.

As more damning accounts emerged this week of former President Trump’s January 6 conduct, a collection of prominent conservatives has scrutinized the “stolen election” claims and reached a clear conclusion. From the findings:

Continuing allegations that the 2020 election was “stolen” are roiling our politics and dividing our country. Indeed, now a significant percentage of the American public doubts the legitimacy of our system.

That caused us, political conservatives who have spent most of our careers working to uphold the Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it is based, to delve deeply into those charges and gauge their accuracy. All of us have either worked in Republican Party politics at multiple levels and in various capacities or worked in the government as a result of Republican appointments. Indeed, one of us, Theodore B. Olson, successfully represented George W. Bush in a Supreme Court case that ended Al Gore’s unmerited challenge to the results of the 2000 presidential election. We have no affiliation with the Democratic Party. In our opinion, the most fundamental principle of our constitutional system is that the will of the people expressed through elections must prevail, whether “our side” wins or loses.

The source of the charges is not in dispute. Because allegations of fraudulent and rigged elections are so seriously affecting public opinion, especially among Republicans, we conducted an open-minded examination of the many claims by former president Trump and his supporters and allies who agree with him about the 2020 election and attempted to act on their beliefs. We take such claims seriously. Many of us have worked at polling places on Election Day as Republicans guarding against the kinds of fraudulent voting activity that Trump alleges occurred. Such a task is an important one in our system, yet is too often falsely derided as “voter suppression.” If, in fact, we had found evidence of the sort that has been alleged, we would be at the vanguard of those demanding corrective measures.

Therefore, we painstakingly surveyed each of the 187 counts in the 64 court cases brought on Trump’s behalf contesting the results of the 2020 election, the state recounts and contests brought in the name of the former president, and the post-election reviews undertaken in the six key battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) to determine whether there is any fire amidst all the smoke.

Our review has led us to conclude that there is simply no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election of the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, not even a single precinct’s outcome was reversed. Our report, “Lost Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election,” shows that only in one Pennsylvania case, involving far too few votes to overturn the results, could Trump and his supporters claim even a technical victory where a judge granted a demarcation of vote-counting that Trump wanted but that the state had already begun.

From Nate Hochman, a love letter to Fauci as he plans for retirement:

What is there to say about Saint Anthony that hasn’t already been said in oozing puff pieces from star-struck journalists? How are we to express our deep and abiding gratitude better than the “Thank You Doctor Fauci — We Will Wash Our Hands” yard signs, the devotional Fauci candles, and the Fauci figurines (mask included, of course) touted by, among others, elected Democratic legislators? Skeptics will argue that the man who presented himself as the flesh-and-blood embodiment of science itself, and who regularly accused his critics of attacking The Science — “they’re really criticizing science because I represent science,” he told Face the Nation last November; “I’m going to be saving lives, and they’re going to be lying” — is not well-positioned to “repair the national bonds that the pandemic shredded.” But we know better. In Fauci we trust.

Okay, so Fauci may have had a few slip-ups here and there. Yes, he initially argued that masks don’t “really do much to protect you” and then subsequently insisted that he had never denied the efficacy of masks but only advised against buying them, because of fears of a shortage among medical workers. Cut the man some slack — that was early on in the pandemic, and uncertainty abounded. Sure, he consciously lied about vaccines: “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” he told the New York Times in December 2020. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.” But that was out of a sense of paternalistic duty — it’s just that Americans weren’t ready to hear the truth. You can’t end a pandemic without telling a few fibs here and there.

Shout-Outs

Toby Green & Thomas Fazi, at UnHerd: The return of Covid fearmongering

The Economist: The Democrats need to wake up and stop pandering to their extremes

Alexandra Steigrad, at the New York Post: Disney fans outraged after ‘fairy godmother’ ditched for gender-neutral titles

Sean Trende, at RealClearPolitics: Republicans Are Favored to Win the Senate

CODA

I’m from Jersey — the Shore, no less — so you’ll have to allow a certain amount of ignorance on the topic of country music: My colleague Molly Powell recently informed me that Smokey from The Big Lebowski is in fact a well-known country musician, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

How about that.

I was delighted to find out his singing voice retains the character of his speaking voice (something that’s not always the case). Here’s a lovely cover, by him, of “Ripple.” Enjoy, have a fine weekend, and thanks for reading.

Education

The Total Devastation of Covid School Closures

Loading...
An employee cleans tables in an empty classroom in a closed primary school in Nice, France, April 22, 2020. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

“Children are resilient.” The line, used to excuse pandemic school closures that lasted far longer than they should have, has become something of an ironic creed memorializing the folly of lockdown extremism.

Those of us who have met children were dubious anyway of the claim. (My preschooler’s despondent reaction when I end bath time before he prefers is not what I’d call rolling with the punches.)

What children are is absorbent. They take it all in, they retain information and memories we adults discard almost immediately, they pick up new skills and lessons every day. But if a sponge sits in a tray, it doesn’t absorb much: We are only now, owing to the work of various organizations that sought to quantify the true devastation from those Covid-19 closures, beginning to see how desperately parched the minds of the world’s children became over the last two years.

With the pandemic nominally back in the news (“Hey, Remember Covid-19?” Jim Geraghty asks), it is a fitting time to revisit the policy disaster it spawned in the world of education. What follows is a mere snapshot of those organizations’ findings:

  • The current generation of students could lose $21 trillion in lifetime earnings, as a result of closures. (Joint report by the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, U.K. government, USAID, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
  • In low-to-middle-income countries, the percentage of ten-year-olds unable to “read and understand a simple text” has risen from 57 percent before the pandemic to about 70 percent. (Aforementioned joint report, the Economist) Put another way: Most of the kids in the countries that house most of the kids cannot read.
  • The impact is not limited to the developing world: “Even in high-income countries able to quickly organize real-time online instruction, learning losses appear substantial. . . . Data from an 8-week school shutdown in the Netherlands show a learning loss equivalent to 20 percent of a school year. . . . Evidence from across the United States mirror the situation in Europe, with significant learning losses in math and reading. In Texas, only 30 percent of third graders tested at or above grade level in math in 2021, compared to 48 percent in 2019. Similar learning losses have also been observed in California, Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland.” (World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF joint report)
  • “Immediate transitions” from high school to two-year colleges declined 16 percent, and 6 percent for four-year colleges, which “could signal a reduction in future college credentials.” (Brookings)
  • Students in more than 80 percent of countries “have fallen behind in their learning.” A total 2 trillion hours of in-person schooling were lost during closures. (UNICEF)
  • “Less than half of countries [in a recent study] are implementing learning recovery strategies at scale to help children catch up on what they’ve missed.” (UNICEF)

Global disaster” is how the Economist described the situation, citing much of this data. The report included estimates that schoolchildren globally may be “eight months behind where they would normally be.” As for the argument that remote schooling served as an adequate substitute, a recent Atlantic piece noted how closures often translated to “no school—literally none at all, for days and even weeks on end.” Many students turned truant; others simply did not participate regularly over Zoom. Poor kids suffered the most.

Ronald Reagan, on more than one occasion, said freedom is “never more than one generation away from extinction.” The same is true of knowledge. The task ahead will be to implement catch-up plans aggressively, of course resisting the urge to shutter schools again but also focusing lesson plans on the crucial, must-know material and offering additional help to those who need it. With great effort and no small amount of good fortune, our educators may yet be able to minimize the damage from what the World Bank and its partners described as “the worst shock to education and learning in a century.”

*    *    *

Before turning to the week in review, we also would like to thank all the many readers who contributed to our webathon and helped us reach, and surpass, our $100,000 goal. The donations help sustain us financially, but the accompanying comments we’ve received help sustain us in other ways. So many kind and encouraging words — they mean the world.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Once again, we must insist. Do not pass massive spending bills that will exacerbate the biggest economic problem facing the nation: Inflation Still Rages

Sri Lanka’s collapse is a warning, and policy-makers — especially those in the developing world — should heed its lessons: Collapse of Sri Lanka Is a Failure of Leftism

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: For the Good of the Country, Biden Shouldn’t Run Again

Kevin Williamson: Down with First Ladies

Charles C. W. Cooke: Democrats Prepare to Throw Biden Overboard

Dan McLaughlin: Joe Biden Hits a New Polling Low: 20 Below

Stanley Kurtz: PolitiFact’s Failed Attack on DeSantis, over Civics Education

Brittany Bernstein: Majority of Democrats Support Abolishing Supreme Court, New Poll Finds

Diana Glebova: Loudoun County School District Fails to Halt AG’s Probe into Bathroom Sex Assault

Jay Nordlinger: Against Numbness

Abigail Anthony: How Universities Weaponize Freshman Orientation

Abigail Anthony: Hearing Witness Claims Hawley Inciting Anti-Trans ‘Violence’ by Asking if Women Get Pregnant

Nate Hochman: What Happened to Alyssa Farah?

Michael Brendan Dougherty: We Must Go on Offense against Transanity

Isaac Schorr: 7-Eleven Encourages Los Angeles Franchises to Close amid String of Armed Robberies, Murders

Jim Geraghty: Inflation Is the Five-Alarm Fire Burning Down the American Economy

ICYMI, Jack Fowler — you know Jack Fowler, Jolter Not-Really-Emeritus, who still holds the master key to all things NR and, I am told, knows with satellite-based accuracy the locations of every last one of the bodies — has kicked off a series on post-Janus fights, so watch this space, as they say: How a Liberal State Defies the First Amendment

CAPITAL MATTERS

Brian Riedl explains what rising interest rates mean for the federal budget, and it’s not pretty: Washington Isn’t Ready for Higher Interest Rates

Jonathan Lesser on New York’s unworkable climate plan: New York’s Climate Virtue-Signaling Will Condemn Millions to Energy Poverty

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

“Enough hues to make a rainbow feel drab.” Brian Allen talks up a dazzling exhibition of pottery known as majolica: Call It Madness, Call It Mania, Call It Magic, but Majolica Comes to Baltimore

Armond White, with a rave: Marx Can Wait: A Haunting Documentary from a Truly Great Filmmaker

Kyle Smith goes deep into the Kubrick oeuvre: Stanley Kubrick’s Most Influential Movie

FROM THE NEW, AUGUST 1, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Andrew McCarthy: Biden Is the Confounder in Chief

Dan McLaughlin: How the 2012 Election Deranged America

Mary Eberstadt: What the Nurses Knew

Ramesh Ponnuru: In Defense of Dobbs

I FEEL THE NEED, THE NEED FOR EXCERPTS

Jill Biden’s taco tribulations prompted much discussion this week in the chattersphere — this website not excluded — about cultural terminology and also breakfast food. Kevin Williamson, as he often does, took things a step further:

First Lady Jill Biden is an embarrassment, but there is a prior question: Why is there a First Lady Jill Biden at all? Why does this person exist?

Previously, Jill Biden’s great contribution to American public life had been providing regular opportunities to mock education doctorates and the habit of people who hold such degrees of affecting the title “Doctor,” as Mrs. Biden does. But now she is ready to make a real and lasting contribution to American public life by dint of her example.

We have to get rid of first ladies.

First ladies are the worst. All of them, even the ones I like.

We live in a republic, not an elected monarchy, and the fact that a woman happens to be married to the president ought properly to mean absolutely nothing for her role in American life. Of course, it is a curiosity. But that we have made it a position and a rank — first! — smacks of the kind of formal aristocracy that we fought a revolution to liberate ourselves from.

And, inevitably, the “first lady” begat the “second lady,” or, perhaps even more nauseating, the “second gentleman” in the case of Douglas Emhoff, a poor dumb bastard for whom I legitimately feel sorry. Imagine putting in all that hard work being evil at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and ending up as an accoutrement to an accoutrement to such a nullity as Dr. Jill Biden’s husband. That is practically purgatorial.

If there is a “second lady,” then there must be a “third lady.” I know who the third lady was in the Trump administration — Melania — but who is the third lady/gentleman now? Paul Pelosi, I guess.

We don’t need a “first lady.” I don’t know if IBM CEO Arvind Krishna is married, but I guarantee you that if he is, nobody calls his wife the “first lady” of IBM. Karen S. Lynch’s husband isn’t the “first gentleman” of CVS Health. Surely the government of the United States of America can manage to be at least as republican in its manners as the Fortune 500. Patty Smyth is the woman who sang “Goodbye to You,” not some special weird minor figure ceremonial in the tennis world because of her marriage to that lunatic John McEnroe. Dr. Jill Biden is a lightly accomplished, half-educated Ed.D-holding numbskull who sees the locals in San Antonio and thinks: “Tacos. What these people remind me of is tacos.”

Nobody would care if she weren’t married to the president. Nobody should care, even though she is.

Amid rising interest rates, Brian Riedl exposes the foolishness of so many Washington policy-makers who embraced borrowing on the premise that it would cost next to nothing:

Washington, perched for now on top of a mountain of debt, can ill afford higher interest rates. For the past few years, short-sighted lawmakers, economists, and columnists have demanded that Congress take advantage of low interest rates by engaging in a massive borrowing spree. Indeed, President Biden’s enormous spending agenda was often justified by the low interest rates on government borrowing.

This case never made sense for two reasons. First, Washington was already projected to add $100 trillion in baseline deficits over the next three decades due primarily to Social Security and Medicare shortfalls. Even with low rates, interest costs were projected by the CBO to become the most expensive item in the federal budget and consume half of all tax revenues within a few decades. Additional borrowing would deepen the hole.

Second, Washington never locked in the recent low interest rates. In fact, the average maturity on the federal debt has fallen to 62 months. If interest rates rise at any point in the future, nearly the entire escalating national debt would roll over into those rates within a decade. Consequently, continued federal borrowing means gambling America’s economic future on the hope that interest rates never rise again. And there is no backup plan if rates do rise.

We are now getting a taste of the cost of higher interest rates. The latest CBO budget baseline conservatively assumes that the average interest rate on the federal debt rises to 3.1 percent over the decade, which is just 0.7 percent above what it projected last year before inflation and interest rates began growing. Even that modest forecast shows that, a decade from now, the $1.2 trillion cost of annual federal interest payments will exceed the defense budget, and represent a record 3.3 percent of the economy. And that is the rosy scenario of a strong economic recovery, low inflation, no new spending expansions, and the 2017 tax cuts expiring on schedule.

And what if interest rates surpass the CBO’s projected 3.1 percent rate a decade from now? Each additional percentage point would cost the federal government $2.6 trillion over the decade, and $400 billion annually by 2032.

College has changed. Abigail Anthony explains how:

I arrived at Princeton University in September 2019. I had looked at Princeton online and thought, “one day . . .” Suddenly, I was experiencing day one. My eager arrival on campus was emotionally amplified by bright smiles, copious pamphlets, and dormitory supervisors dancing in tiger suits. Orientation innocently began with introductions of names and hometowns — then descended into divisive lectures and panels. The intention of these programs was not to assimilate us into our new (and intimidating) surroundings, but rather to coerce students into accepting and affirming a resident orthodoxy.

We often hear about how college students are indoctrinated in the classroom. But the brainwashing begins on move-in day.

Ideally, freshman orientation should be a procedural, social assimilation to familiarize students with the resources the university offers and how to access them. However, Princeton University undertook a mission to present incoming students with sexual, moral, and political guidance, wholly omitting widely held perspectives and effectively insulating progressive views from intellectual trial. Moreover, attendance at these events was compulsory, thus constituting an ideological hazing.

The mandatory “Safer Sexpo” event series within orientation provides condoms, lube, and other sexual products; in 2020, the university provided unspecified “sex toys” to students and emphasized “solo sex.” Each year, freshmen are given a “You’re So Sexy When You Aren’t Transmitting STI’s” comic book with crude pornographic drawings, complete with a condom attached to the back; the author’s website clarifies that “the ideal target audience for this book is college campuses and sex positive organizations that are involved with young people and adults.” Students are informed where they can obtain contraception, abortifacients, and abortions, but there’s no mention of local pregnancy centers. There is a mandatory LGBTQ+ panel, which provides flyers of “The Genderbread Person” diagram. The Gender + Sexuality Resource Center Peer Ed Training Terminology handouts include a “primer on trans inclusive feminism” which explains that “trans women are women” and “there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.” . . .

During my freshman orientation, in 2019, all the new students (totaling just over 1,300) filed into an auditorium for the “Reflections on Diversity” presentation. A moderator announced statements relating to identity, and students were prompted to stand whenever a given statement resonated with them. Pronouncements related to socioeconomic status (“I am from an owning-class family”) and sexuality (“I do not conform to a binary gender”). The presenter said “this is your community” after every identity, as if students of wealthier backgrounds inherently shared a community. As naïve freshmen, we were pressured into revealing intimate details about our lives, yet it was wholly impersonal because we were reduced to whatever categorical boxes we fill by chance. It was public atonement for supposed sins.

Continuing with some themes from last weekend, Charles C. W. Cooke writes about the next phase in Democrats’ (and the media’s) steady separation from Biden:

“President Biden,” the New York Times reports today, “is facing an alarming level of doubt from inside his own party.” And so, as night follows day, President Biden is facing an alarming level of doubt from within the national media, too.

The crucial statistic in the Times’ roundup was not that Biden’s approval rating is at just 33 percent, or that “more than two-thirds of independents also now disapprove of the president’s performance,” or that “only 13 percent of American voters said the nation was on the right track,” or even that, post-Dobbs, “abortion rated as the most important issue for 5 percent of voters.” The crucial statistic in the Times’ roundup was that “only 26 percent of Democratic voters said the party should renominate [Biden] in 2024.” Why? Because therein rests the permission that the press needed to retreat to its pre-2019 assumptions. Après cela, le déluge.

Apologists for Joe Biden — and for the media’s coverage of him — like to insist that his shortcomings have been covered amply since he first announced he was running for president. But that isn’t quite right. It is true that Biden was frequently cast in a negative light during the 2019 primaries: Back when there was a chance that someone else might be the nominee, Biden was often said to be too old, or too gaffe-prone, or too racist, or too law-and-order-ish to be the nominee. It is not true, however, that these criticisms continued in earnest once Biden had secured the Democratic nomination. Remember those SNL skits that showed Biden as a confused, mendacious, out-of-touch, geriatric has-been? Remember how they stopped once he represented the only chance to beat Donald Trump? The same thing happened in the press. In December 2019, Joe Biden was ancient and ineloquent. By the summer of 2020, he was the experienced survivor of a debilitating stutter. . . .

Yet the fact that Biden seems so old and so confused and so chronically out of touch has provided progressives with a valuable opportunity nevertheless: They can argue that the problem isn’t their policies, but the man selling them. “Oh, all that mess?” they can tell voters, if they manage to persuade Biden to make way for new blood in 2024. “Don’t worry about all that. Our new guy is young — and he’s on it.”

Shout-Outs

Megan McArdle, at the Washington Post: A Berkeley professor’s Senate testimony didn’t go how the left thinks it did

Noah Rothman, at Commentary: How to Leverage a Murder

Adam Wray, at RealClearEducation: College Enrollment is Down – But There’s a Silver Lining

Elle Reynolds, at the Federalist: Kamala Harris Quotes As Motivational Posters

CODA

This sign-off has leaned on Soul Coughing for contributions before, but upon reading Andrew Follett’s piece in the last NR issue, I found “So Far I Have Not Found the Science” to be apt. Another one from Soul Coughing, then (you can take the boy out of the ’90s, but you can’t, well . . . you know the rest).

Got a tune you want to share with this list? From the gnarly ’90s, even? Shoot it this way: jberger@nationalreview.com. Thanks for reading.

White House

As the Left Turns

Loading...
President Joe Biden departs Air Force One as he returns from NATO and G7 summits in Europe at Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 30, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Democrats haven’t abandoned someone this quickly since Donald Trump decided to run for president as a Republican.

Persistently paltry poll numbers combining with a string of defeats at the Supreme Court, economic pressures that refuse to bend to the will of tweets, and the associated gloomy prospects for Democrats in the midterms are cracking the coalition that helped get President Biden elected.

Politico warned back in November 2020 that this coalition was “broad but unstable,” comprising minorities, young people, women, independents, and some Republicans. He’s now underwater with all of them (save for minorities, who are evenly split on the job-approval question) in the latest Monmouth University poll. As progressives and others bolt the Wilmington zeppelin, the tableau conjures the spectacular evacuation scene from Spaceballs in which, as troopers scramble for safety, Mel Brooks’s President Skroob grabs his subordinate’s shirt and barks, “You gotta help me, I don’t know what to do, I can’t make decisions — I’m a president!”

Michael Brendan Dougherty sums up the mess:

The giant sucking sound you’re hearing is the panicked divestment of elected Democratic politicians, progressive activists, and the mainstream media from the Biden administration. The word is definitely out that the president’s stock is going to zero — and it’s time to get out while you still can.

Two weeks ago, in a foreboding sign for the White House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — with a finger to the political winds blowing on Instagram — announced that she wasn’t ready to support Biden in 2024. Then came California governor Gavin Newsom, asking “Where’s my party?” as Republicans and conservatives continue to score political wins. Newsom’s question sparked 2024 speculation for him, and then he stoked the flames even higher by buying ad time in Florida, demonstrating that he could identify and take on the real Republican threat, who is sitting behind a desk in Tallahassee: DeSantis.

That Newsom ad, going after Florida’s governor on his state’s airwaves, was a particular display of chutzpah. Perhaps it’s a play to reverse the traffic pattern of California residents leaving for Florida. Or, as Jim Geraghty notes, it could be a “not-so-subtle hint to Democrats across the country that if they want to reconsider their presidential options for 2024, he’s available and interested.”

This CNN article captures the frustration on the left toward the Biden presidency in its 18th month. “Debra Messing was fed up” is the first line, and one that should be preserved in amber so that future generations might understand the American political-power dynamics of 2022. The piece describes what are really two sets of complaints. One is that Biden is not meeting the “moment” with urgency, after the Dobbs ruling and other setbacks and amid persistent inflation. The other is that Biden and his team aren’t performing the basic work of running an administration:

Multiple Democratic politicians who have reached out to work with Biden — whether it’s on specific bills, brainstorming or outreach — often don’t hear anything back at all. Potential appointees have languished for months waiting to hear if they’ll get jobs, or when they’ll be done with vetting. Invitations to events are scarce, thank you calls barely happen. Even some aides within the White House wonder why Biden didn’t fire anyone, from the West Wing or at the Food and Drug Administration, to demonstrate some accountability or at least anger over the baby formula debacle.

Jim lays some blame on the staff. It’s not just insiders harboring these doubts. A recent Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey found 71 percent of Americans don’t want Biden to run again, numbers that roughly align with the percentage viewing the country on the “wrong track.” This, from Brittany Bernstein’s news story, is astonishing: “Just 30 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Biden in a Democratic presidential primary.” In fairness, the survey did not present this as a binary choice and allowed respondents to name a variety of potential candidatesbut that’s a troubling number for an incumbent president who hasn’t even weathered his first formal shellacking.

So what now? Democrats have a couple not-negligible factors that could redound to their political benefit. We have yet to see how Dobbs and subsequent state-level abortion restrictions might motivate voters, and the revelations of the January committee could continue to stoke anti-Trump (and by extension, anti-Republican) sentiments. But there’s little indication that either of those issues overpowers inflation. Ditching Biden for someone with better hair — someone who “fights!” — might be a wallpaper-over-the-mold solution.

As Michael notes, this is about much more than Biden:

For now, cutting ties with Joe Biden doesn’t just mean the beginning of a desperate search for a new future leader of the Democratic Party and a potential president. At this moment, progressives are casting about for the means, the will, and the talent to effect a revolution against the features of the Constitution that allow Republicans to hold power at all.

Upending the Constitutional Order will make for one heckuva campaign platform.

*    *    *

Before I turn this newsletter over to the highlight reel, may I submit a gentle reminder that we are running a webathon in the post-Dobbs stretch, which you can donate to here. If you’re a long-time Jolter, then this won’t be the first webathon you’ve come across; what makes this one a bit different, though, is that a generous supporter is matching gifts dollar for dollar up to $100,000. So even if you give a little, it becomes a lot. These donations — along with subscription fees, digital-ad revenue, and the like — help keep this humble operation humming. If you are reading this, you are playing a part. So thank you.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

A farewell: Goodbye, Boris

Another mass shooting, another set of questions about what could have been done to stop it: When Gun Laws Don’t Prevent Gun Crime

Not exactly “pro-choice”: Elizabeth Warren’s War on Pregnancy Resource Centers

ICYMI, we published this to mark Independence Day: America the Awesome

ARTICLES

Jim Geraghty: A Pointless Horror in Japan

Isaac Schorr: What to Make of America’s Military-Recruitment Problem

Kevin Williamson: Lessons from the Left’s Implosion

Stanley Kurtz: DeSantis Blasts Fake Civics Bill

Jimmy Quinn: Huawei Launches New Surveillance ‘Corps’ in Creepy Military-Style Rally

Brittany Bernstein: Nate Silver Calls Pelosi Fundraising Email ‘Straight-up Misinformation’

Rich Lowry: Biden’s Shameful Gas-Station Attack   

Marco Rubio: Expect Biden to Beg Beijing for Gasoline

Ryan Mills: Exclusive: Jeff Sessions Calls On Prosecutors to Crack Down on Gun Crimes

Ryan Mills: Brooke Jenkins Selected to Replace Former Boss, Chesa Boudin, as San Francisco DA

Dan McLaughlin: Boris Johnson Fell Because Character Matters

John McCormack: Video: Blocking Traffic Is a Cruel and Counterproductive Form of Protest

CAPITAL MATTERS

Robert H. Bork Jr. warns of a new phase of U.S.–European regulatory collaboration: Why Are U.S. Regulators Helping the EU Hobble Top American Companies?

A new kind of West Coast/East Coast rivalry is starting. Dominic Pino explains: Avoiding California, Shippers Clog East Coast and Gulf Ports Instead

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Brian Allen writes about a reunion, and dishes on what museum elites really think about the next generation: What Williams Reunion-Goers Think of Covid Lockdowns and Museum Turmoil

Kyle Smith reviews a documentary about a famous NYC building and its eccentric residents: The Shabby Magnificence of the Chelsea Hotel

Armond White’s midyear movie roundup puts Hollywood on notice: 2022 Midyear Reckoning

MORE CONTENT, YOU SAY?

Jimmy Quinn’s reporting offers a powerful example of how China’s Huawei is not a normal company, folks:

During a bizarre, military-style ceremony that highlighted Huawei’s ties to China’s security state, the tech company launched a new internal business unit focused on developing artificial-intelligence-powered surveillance technology. The new unit will be focused on streamlining the embattled Chinese company’s efforts to become a worldwide leader in cutting-edge AI surveillance technology that can be deployed by cities around the world.

The ceremony puts the lie to Huawei’s global public-relations and lobbying campaigns that strive to dispel the well-founded notion that its ultimate loyalties are with the Chinese Communist Party. . . .

Last year, amid the international restrictions, Huawei’s revenue continued to decline, though its profitability grew as it pivoted to other sectors. Part of the effort to transform Huawei in response to Western bans is a reorganization of the company into various “corps,” each focused on a different emerging industry.

During the aforementioned ceremony on May 26, Huawei inaugurated its corps for “machine vision,” an AI-based computer analysis of images. This corps is key to the company’s efforts to enter the surveillance-technology market. What stood out from the event was the pugilistic way in which the company presented its work.

According to a Chinese security-media report, which the video-surveillance trade group IPVM shared with National Review, the ceremony featured a row of uniformed Huawei employees doing a raised-fist CCP salute onstage. Behind them was a banner that read:

“Application integration, Cloud coordination, Build a leading competitor! Deepen channel distribution to help customers succeed on the frontline. Stay focused and competitive to live and die with the Corps. Machine Vision Corps, Victory! Huawei, Victory! Victory! Victory!”

Rich Lowry explains exactly why Biden’s gas-station demands fall so flat:

For Joe Biden, the buck stops with small independent business owners trying to make ends meet.

Over the holiday weekend, the president slammed gas stations for the purported sin of not passing along declining oil prices to motorists.

Biden took to Twitter to urge “the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump” to heed his message: “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product.”

Yes, sir, whatever you say, Mr. President!

The United States Oil and Gas Association mockingly recommended that the intern who posted the tweet should sign up for Econ 101, but it’s worse than that. Biden has hit the gas stations before on the same grounds. It’s hard to know where the economic illiteracy ends and the shameless demagoguery begins. Regardless, it’s another indication that the president’s approach to inflation is to cast about for scapegoats and villains, no matter how implausible.

So-called jawboning, or stern rhetoric directed at industries to get them to bend to the presidential will, is nothing new. The most famous example is from John F. Kennedy, who blasted U.S. Steel for raising prices in 1962. JFK’s tack was questionable, but at least he was targeting an enormously influential industry that had breached an agreement to hold the line on prices brokered by his administration.

Biden, by contrast, is going after the proverbial Liberty Gas Station and Uni-Mart down on Route 134 started by an immigrant couple hoping to send their children to college for the first time. These small-time entrepreneurs have done nothing wrong, except remain in business at a time when the president’s anti-oil-and-gas policy has backfired spectacularly.

Important news from California, courtesy of Ryan Mills:

Brooke Jenkins, a one-time San Francisco prosecutor who resigned from the district attorney’s office last year to support the recall of her former boss, Chesa Boudin, was named Boudin’s replacement on Thursday.

San Francisco mayor London Breed officially announced during a p.m. PDT press conference that she had selected Jenkins, 40, to be San Francisco’s next district attorney. Breed said she considered several candidates for the position, but that Jenkins “stood out the most.”

“She sacrificed her career to fight for the people in this city, to fight for victims who needed a voice in this city,” Breed said of Jenkins, a political novice, who became a leading voice of the Boudin recall.

Jenkins, a one-time Boudin supporter, quit her job in protest after she said Boudin pressured prosecutors in his office to give lenient plea deals and that he acted more like the public defender that he had been than a prosecutor. During an introductory speech Thursday, Jenkins said the “paramount mission of the district attorney’s office is to promote public safety.”

Jenkins vowed to “restore accountability and consequences to our criminal-justice system.” She said hate crimes will not be tolerated, and “violent and repeat offenders will no longer be allowed to victimize our city without consequences.” She said a top priority will be ending open-air drug markets in the city and enforcing drug laws, “so that we can take back our streets.”

John McCormack flags a video that everyone should watch — as an example of how certain protest tactics, no matter the cause they’re meant to advance, blatantly hurt ordinary people:

It’s worth watching the first 30 seconds of this viral video of a parolee pleading with environmentalist protesters who blocked traffic outside of Washington, D.C., on July 4.

“One lane! I’m asking one lane!” pleads the man, who says he will “go to prison” if he can’t make it to his job. The environmentalist ideologues are unmoved.

The video is enough to infuriate anyone with an ounce of sanity and an ounce of sympathy. And it should make it clear that there is never a good reason for protesters to block traffic. There will always be parolees and average people who just need to get to work to support themselves and their families. Sick people will always need to be taken to the hospital (and so will pregnant women who need to deliver their babies). That’s true even if a particular protest doesn’t yield a viral video.

So it really does not matter what the protest is targeting — climate policy, vaccine mandates, or even abortion — blocking traffic is a cruel and counterproductive policy because it hurts innocent people.

Shout-Outs

Josh Mitchell, at the Wall Street Journal: Red States Are Winning the Post-Pandemic Economy

Eric Felten, at RealClearInvestigations: Biden’s ‘Whole of Government’ Climate Spending Spree

Matthew Goodwin, at UnHerd: Boris changed the Tories forever

Snejana Farberov, at the New York Post: Chicago cops barred from chasing people on foot who run away

CODA

I initially meant to respond on the Corner to Kyle Smith’s unwarranted denunciation of OK Computer, but even that would be too dignifying. “Suicide rock,” “ear poison,” “mild projectile vomiting” . . . these were among the gratuitous terms used on his canvas of kvetch to describe an album that, honestly Kyle, only sometimes portrays all humanity as caught in the double vice grip of isolation and despair. Maybe Kyle would prefer something cheerier. That’s fine. I’ll take “Climbing Up the Walls.”

NR Webathon

America Needs an Advocate

Loading...
A person in an Uncle Sam hat watches the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks in New York City, July 4, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Earlier this year, National Review published a statement on America’s “crisis of self-doubt.” It was signed by dozens of prominent conservatives, endorsing views — we would argue truths — that should not be controversial yet are increasingly so, in the face of a relentless smear campaign against the country’s fundamental character:

No matter the fashion of the moment, we believe that America is a fundamentally fair society with bountiful opportunity; that its Founding was a world-historical event of the utmost importance and established governing institutions of enduring value; that its original sins have been honorably, if belatedly, repudiated; that it came to be wealthy and powerful primarily through its own internal strengths, not via expropriation and conquest; that its model of ordered liberty is a boon to human flourishing; that its people are a marvel and its greatest resource; that its best days needn’t be behind it, and that it remains a beacon to mankind.

The statement issued a call to “revivify” these notions. It is something National Review does daily, and we hope you will consider supporting this work, this Independence Day weekend, by donating as part of our webathon. Anyone who does should know that we have a force multiplier in play: Thanks to a generous donor, any contribution made will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.

We launched this webathon at the conclusion of a momentous Supreme Court session, out of which NR’s coverage — on the Dobbs decision and much else — has been unmatched. Dan McLaughlin, Alexandra DeSanctis (read more about Xan’s work here), Kathryn Jean Lopez, Philip Klein, John McCormack, Andrew McCarthy, and many others are providing crucial context for today’s debates.

But in honor of the holiday, I’d like to broaden the scope a bit. Among the many causes NR has championed over the years, perhaps the most fundamental is that of this country. And lately, she really needs an advocate. After all, the erasure of the American story in ways big and small shows little sign of abating, most recently with Cornell’s bizarre removal of a bust of Lincoln and a plaque of the Gettysburg Address after “someone complained.”

You won’t find that kind of tosh (as my colleague Charlie Cooke might say) here.

Earlier this year, the magazine devoted an entire issue to refuting the slanders about the American Founding. We’ve published essays on the case for American optimism. Jim Geraghty just penned a characteristically informed and honest holiday-weekend ode. And even with new revelations about the shameful events of January 6, 2021 — which NR does not sugarcoat, even if this brings us some heat — we have stressed the hero’s role played by the U.S. Constitution in preventing a terrible episode from spiraling into an existential crisis. Further, we followed up that aforementioned statement with others by the signers, urging a restoration of American confidence.

To be sure, these are difficult times. They call not for denial or defeatism (even CNN has noted a “malaise” flavor lately to President Biden’s rhetoric), but what Washington described in his farewell address, in reference to his own service to country, as “upright zeal.”

We’ll be here, sporting zeal, and appreciate any support you can spare. In the meantime, peruse in patriotism the week’s highlights below.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Taking stock of all that has happened before the Court this year: A Historically Great Term

ARTICLES

Kevin Williamson: Will Dobbs Matter in November?

Charles C. W. Cooke: Sorry, Progressives, No One Is Coming to Save You

Charles Hilu: White House’s Fourth of July Cookout Tweet Did Not Age Well

Dan McLaughlin: Supreme Court Lets High-School Football Coach Kneel in Prayer

Kathryn Jean Lopez: With the End of Roe, Let’s End the Violence

Ryan Mills: California School District Fires Superintendent for Divisive Comments about Asian Students

Andrew McCarthy: Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony against Trump Is Devastating

Rich Lowry: No, the Conservative Justices Didn’t Lie

Luther Ray Abel: Timeline of the Uvalde Shooting: A System Failure

Brittany Bernstein: Swing-State Voters Still More Concerned with Inflation Than Abortion Post-Roe, New Poll Finds

Isaac Schorr: Former USA Today Editor Recounts Witch Hunt Triggered by ‘Anti-Trans’ Tweet

John McCormack: Every Abortion Law in America Protects Women with Ectopic Pregnancies

Madeleine Kearns: Dave Portnoy and the ‘Bro-Choice’ Crisis

CAPITAL MATTERS

Brad Weisenstein at the Illinois Policy Institute explains an exodus: A Company That Moves the Earth Couldn’t Move Illinois

Dominic Pino reports that the striking spirit is alive and well: Unions Have No Qualms Making Supply Chains Worse

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Kyle Smith recognizes Beavis and Butt-Head as oracles of our time: To Stupidity, and Beyond

Brian Allen writes about the AAA — the other AAA, that is: the Archives of American Art — seeing as he’s been dwelling there lately for research on a biography he’s doing. It’s part of that constellation of D.C. archival treasures that many visitors, and residents, might not know existed. Read on: The Archives of American Art: The Ultimate Gold Mine in Culture Studies

Armond White cheers an action flick with depth: Ambulance Rescues Michael Bay’s America from Propaganda

THESE EXCERPTS BURN HOTTER THAN A ROMAN CANDLE

John McCormack fact-checks a misleading viral claim:

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade, there has been a lot of viral misinformation spread on social media that women with ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions may not be able to be treated in states with laws limiting or banning abortion. . . .

In fact, no abortion law in any state in America prevents lifesaving treatment for women with ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions. That was true of abortion laws in 1972, and it’s true of abortion laws in 2022. “All states had at least a life of the mother exception before Roe v. Wade,” Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, told me in an email. See, for example, the language in the Texas abortion statute struck down under Roe v. Wade in 1973 that said nothing in the law applies to an abortion performed “for the purpose of saving the life of the mother.” The other lie in Ali’s tweet is the idea that women undergoing abortions will be prosecuted. As Forsythe wrote in 2006, states prosecuted abortionists, not women, under pre-Roe laws. Every state abortion law triggered by the overturning of Roe includes an exception at least to save the life of the mother, but that didn’t stop Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer from falsely claiming at a May 10 press conference (emphasis added): “If the MAGA Republicans get their way, pregnant women could lose their lives because there will be no exception for the life of a mother if there’s a dangerous complication in the pregnancy.” . . .

Many state laws, including the law in Texas, explicitly exclude treatment for ectopic pregnancies from the definition of abortion. On this matter, Planned Parenthood, anti-abortion Republican doctors, and the Catholic Church agree.

Planned Parenthood’s official website states that treatment for ectopic pregnancies “isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion.”

Even with some details of Cassidy Hutchinson’s January 6 committee testimony in dispute, the account she provided is damning (see more here and here). Andrew McCarthy explains, and provides a comprehensive overview of her claims. Here’s the scene upon Trump’s return to the White House that day:

Whatever happened in the SUV, Trump returned to the West Wing incensed, especially at [Mark] Meadows, whom he blamed for preventing him from going to the Capitol. [Cassidy] Hutchinson said she did not witness whatever conversation first occurred between the president and his chief of staff. When she found Meadows in his office, though, he seemed catatonic. The television was on, the rioters were closing in on the Capitol, and Hutchinson tried to snap Meadows out of it, asking if he’d spoken with Trump. No, Meadows said, Trump wanted to be alone right now. Feeling like she was watching a slow-motion trainwreck, she pressed him, bringing up Meadows’s friend, Congressman Jim Jordan: Mark, do you know where Jim is? Rioters seemed poised to enter the Capitol. No, Meadows indicated that he hadn’t heard from Jordan, but the thought at least seemed to get his wheels spinning.

Just then, [Pat] Cipollone came racing down the hall. “Mark,” he thundered, the rioters had gotten to the Capitol. “We need to go see the president right now.” Meadows fecklessly replied that Trump was aware of what was going on but didn’t want to do anything at the moment.

Cipollone was incredulous. Things had already turned violent. “Mark, something’s got to be done right now.” If it wasn’t, “blood will be on your hands.”

That, Hutchinson recalled, happened sometime around 2:15 to 2:25. Cipollone browbeat Meadows into going to see Trump.

As Hutchinson waited behind, Jordan called, desperately seeking Meadows. Hutchinson ran with the cellphone over to the dining room off the Oval Office. The door was closed. After confirming with the valet that Meadows was inside, she stepped into the room and got Meadows’s attention. As she handed him the phone, she could hear chaotic background noise, including the now-infamous “Hang Mike Pence” chants. Hutchinson then left Meadows and Cipollone to their tense discussion with Trump.

Moments later, the dejected pair came back to Meadows’s office — Hutchinson believed they might have been accompanied by associate White House counsel Eric Herschmann. She remembered Cipollone continuing to light into Meadows: “We’ve got to do something, they’re calling for the vice president to be f***ing hung.” Referring with resignation to the conversation they’d just had with Trump, Meadows told Cipollone, “You heard him. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

The case of David Mastio, which Jay Nordlinger also recounted here, should make your blood boil. Isaac Schorr has an interview:

When David Mastio, then the deputy editorial page editor at USA Today, tweeted that “people who are pregnant are also women” last August, it put a target on his back that would send leadership at the paper scrambling to concoct a case against him that could justify a demotion and $30,000 pay cut.

In response to the tweet, opinion editor Kristen DelGuzzi and editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll sent Mastio a memo, obtained by National Review, in which they lambasted the veteran editor and asserted that his decision to question the orthodoxy of gender ideology “calls your judgment into question.”

“There have been other times when we’ve discussed lapses in judgment,” continued DelGuzzi and Carroll. “In 2018, an op-ed from President Trump that you handled was not thoroughly vetted, resulting in deserved criticism and requiring a column from our standards editor as well as a fact check to be paired with it. In 2017, you wrote in an editorial that President Trump was ‘unfit to clean toilets,’ a comment disparaging to an entire segment of workers.”

As a result of his position, they argued, “your lapses in judgment have impact, not only on you and your career but also on your colleagues and on the reputation of USA TODAY. Each of these instances outlined resulted in negative – and avoidable – attention, all of which can call into question our integrity and trust and relationship with our readers.”

“As of Aug. 20, in your new role as opinion writer, you do not have supervisory responsibilities, nor do you have an editing role. If you bring in content, it must have an editor… This is a written warning that any further instances of unacceptable conduct will lead to additional disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of your employment without further warning or notice to you,” concluded the memo.

In an interview with National Review, Mastio described that memo as the culmination of an effort to go “back through my career” in search of reasons to sanction him for the tweet.

“They just kind of made it up,” said Mastio.

Charles C. W. Cooke identifies a trend:

The most famous scene in Peter Weir’s hit movie, The Truman Show, depicts Truman Burbank’s wife, Meryl — who, unbeknownst to him, is an actress — growing alarmed by her husband’s behavior, breaking the fourth wall in a panic, and shouting, “Do something!” to the producers of the titular show, who are hidden off-set. Obliging her request, the producers immediately dispatch a neighbor — also an actor — to show up at Truman’s front door, deus-ex-machina–style, and defuse the situation. “Who were you talking to?” Truman asks Meryl before the neighbor arrives.

“Who,” indeed.

For more than seven decades now, America’s boundary-pushing progressives have chosen to behave like Meryl: Whenever things have gone south, they’ve cried, “Do something!” And, sure enough, the powers-that-be have usually sent someone over to fix the problem.

At long last, in 2022, this pattern may be changing. . . .

For the first time in a century, a majority on the current Supreme Court is more interested in the law than in political freelancing, and, better still, it seems to be uncowed by activist pressure. Having reached a fever pitch of wokeness during the presidency of Donald Trump, America’s corporations are now slowly learning to stand up to internal and external agitators. Exhausted by the neo-Puritans that are destroying them from within, a growing number of universities and media outlets are rediscovering their spines. Rogue prosecutors are being recalled. Referenda are being honored. Executive overreach is being reversed. At Netflix, at the University of Chicago, and even in the city of San Francisco, the progressive movement’s calls to “do something” are starting to fall on deaf — or indifferent — ears. For a while, this will yield disbelief, chatter about “illegitimacy,” and more than a few tears on the left. And then, when the realization has fully sunk in, it will prompt the sensible there to do the slow and hard work from which they have been shielded for so long.

Shout-Outs

Aaron Sibarium, at the Washington Free Beacon: Inside the Investigation of Axed Princeton Prof Joshua Katz

Melissa Klein & Larry Celona, at the New York Post: Hundreds of NYC prosecutors quitting woke bosses and onerous reforms

Paul Best, at Fox News: Uvalde mother who got out of cuffs to rescue kids from shooting is now being harassed by police, lawyer says

Jennifer Kabbany, at the College Fix: Cornell library removes Gettysburg Address, Lincoln bust

CODA

Something holiday-appropriate is in order. So, from the best Springsteen album (author runs for cover . . . ), the Jolt jukebox would spin “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”

There’s a timeless quality to the Jersey shore — so wild and innocent — and this song’s portrait of boardwalk adolescence endures, even if the “greasers” no longer “tramp the streets.” It conjures childhood memories, for me, of gawking at fireworks a few miles north of Asbury, sand spilling across the beach towel. Happy Fourth, and thanks for reading.

Politics & Policy

Earthquake at the Court

Loading...
People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., June 24, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

First the tremor, then the earthquake.

At last, the seismic shock to America’s political system hit Friday, nearly two months after the draft decision in Dobbs leaked (read the final decision here). Abortion policy-making will be returned to the legislatures, where the battle shifts next.

From NR’s editorial:

Decades of work, the efforts of tens of millions of Americans, and persistence through many disappointments were necessary to bring us to this day of correction. Overturning Roe does not guarantee justice for the unborn: Pro-lifers know the work must continue. What the Court has done is give pro-lifers the chance to make their case and prevail in democratic fora. Our fundamental law will no longer effectively treat unborn children as categorically excluded from the most basic protection that law can provide. It is a mighty step forward for the rule of law, self-government, and justice.

While the decision is momentous, its audacity is being overstated by some. Zachary Evans rounds up here the more over-the-top reactions, including from Congresswoman Maxine Waters: “The hell with the Supreme Court—we will defy them.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurrence offers perspective for the Twitter class suggesting this was a coup requiring institutional purging:

The issue before this Court, however, is not the policy or morality of abortion. The issue before this Court is what the Constitution says about abortion. The Constitution does not take sides on the issue of abortion. The text of the Constitution does not refer to or encompass abortion. . . . The Constitution is neutral and leaves the issue for the people and their elected representatives to resolve through the democratic process in the States or Congress—like the numerous other difficult questions of American social and economic policy that the Constitution does not address.

Vote, persuade, advance your agenda. That’s how policy is made. As Kyle Smith suggests, the Court should not be viewed as a dependable backstop absent those steps.

The democratic process will continue, and President Biden, to his credit, called for the inevitable protests accompanying it to remain peaceful in the days and weeks ahead. Let’s hope those words are heeded.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Once more, NR’s editorial on the Dobbs ruling: A Stain Erased

The January 6 hearings are making it only more evident that Donald Trump was not and is not fit for office: The January 6 Show

More evidence that the president is out of ideas: Biden’s Gimmicky Gas-Tax Holiday

On the Court win for religious education: The Fall of the Wall around Religious Education

ARTICLES

Dan McLaughlin: We Lived to See It

Alexandra DeSanctis: What Comes after Roe?

Caroline Downey: Washington Women’s Prison Sponsors Violent Male Inmate’s Gender-Transition Surgery

John Fund: Desperate Democrats Meddle in GOP Primaries

Kevin Williamson: Here Comes Fiscal Armageddon

Kevin Williamson: Joe Biden Should Take More Vacations

Charles C. W. Cooke: Progressives’ Grunts Are Growing Desperate

Charles C. W. Cooke: The Supreme Court Strikes a Historic Blow for Second Amendment Rights

Nate Hochman: Against QR-Code Menus

Rachelle Peterson: Beware the Confucius Institute Rebrand

Jay Nordlinger: Before We ‘Move On’

Kyle Smith: The CDC Just Pushed Fake News on Covid Child Mortality

Kyle Smith: Reservoir Progs

Brittany Bernstein: San Francisco School Board Votes to Return Elite High School to Merit-Based Admissions

CAPITAL MATTERS

Kevin Hassett has a plan: How to Fix Inflation

Andrew Stuttaford highlights a challenge for the European Central Bank: Jitters in the Euro Zone

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Kyle Smith explains the appeal of, and the remarkable box-office response to, the new Top Gun: America Is Craving a Reset

Armond White praises a movie-star documentary that serves to correct a myth: Monty Clift and the Art of Distraction

Brian Allen takes us on a tour of the best of the big art show in Venice. There will be tapestries: Forget What the Chatterers Say. These Are among the Best Pavilions at the Biennale

FROM THE NEW, JULY 11, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Shawn Regan: Running Dry in the American West

Dan McLaughlin: Lessons from the January 6 Hearings

John McCormack: Scorched Earth in Arizona’s GOP Primary

Andrew Follett: Too-Political Science

WE’RE TOLD WE’VE GOT TIME FOR A FEW MORE

Dan McLaughlin reflects on Roe’s demise:

We lived to see it. Many of us never thought we would. This day should be celebrated for generations to come.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a momentous milestone in American history. It is the largest single step forward for human rights in America in well over half a century. It is the largest stroke against the arbitrary taking of human life in America since the abolition of slavery in 1865.

True, by overruling Roe, the Supreme Court did not ban abortion; it only restored power to the elected governments to do so. State governments will have to take the next step. So will the federal government, to the extent permitted within its enumerated powers. But they have been denied that power for 49 years.

This morning’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization swept away those restrictions just as abruptly as Roe erected them. But whereas the seven men behind Roe assaulted our system of democracy and the rule of law, wiping out long-standing laws in nearly every state without a shred of legitimate basis in the written Constitution ratified by We the People, Dobbs restores the supremacy of the democratic Constitution and the sovereignty of the American people.

Shawn Regan’s cover story in the latest issue of NR grapples with the on-the-ground reality behind the stunning images you might have noticed in recent months of a parched American West, and examines how the region can adapt:

The western United States is in the grip of a deep and prolonged drought, causing unprecedented water shortages. The Southwest has just experienced its driest two decades in 1,200 years, according to one recent study. This year is more of the same, if not worse. California just had its driest first five months on record. Ninety percent of New Mexico is in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst categories on the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of press time, the city of Albuquerque had gone 75 days without measurable rainfall.

The drought is especially pronounced in the Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people across nine states and irrigates 4 million acres of farmland. Water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the basin’s two largest reservoirs, have dropped to their lowest levels since they were filled in the early to mid 20th century. In response, the federal government recently issued its first formal “shortage” declaration for the river, triggering mandatory water-delivery reductions to Arizona and Nevada. Additional cutbacks are likely coming soon.

The region’s water supply has plummeted to levels unanticipated even just a few years ago. At the start of the 21st century, Lakes Mead and Powell were nearly full. Now both are below 30 percent capacity. If water levels drop much farther, officials warn, the dams’ turbines will no longer be able to generate electricity, creating additional power-supply challenges for a region already at elevated risk of rolling blackouts this summer because of extreme heat and increased reliance on intermittent wind and solar energy. And if they decline farther still, the reservoirs could reach “dead pool” conditions, in which water is unable to flow downstream from the dams.

The consequences of the drought are being felt throughout the West. In Utah, the Great Salt Lake dipped to a historic low last year, exposing the lakebed to windstorms that pick up dust containing arsenic and other toxic elements and blow it to nearby cities on the Wasatch Front. New Mexico’s parched landscape is fueling the largest wildfire ever recorded in state history. And in California, a lack of surface water is accelerating groundwater pumping that is depleting aquifers and causing the land itself to sink in some areas. . . .

There are more water rights on paper than there is actual water to go around, and everyone is lawyered up with arguments for why cuts should fall on others instead of themselves. But if the arid West is to adapt to its even drier future, it’s going to have to find ways to use its limited water resources more effectively through cooperation instead of litigation, and nearly everyone is going to have to do with less.

Charles C. W. Cooke observes how remarkably unadaptable the progressive narrative is in the face of a changing electoral reality:

Confused, alarmed, and unbalanced by the changing world around them, America’s erstwhile progressive class has been eventually reduced to the grunt. The proximate stimulus doesn’t matter a great deal, for, whatever the question, the answer is always the same: “Racism! Sexism! LGBT!” . . .

In May of this year, Ron DeSantis’s reelection campaign spent $5 million on Spanish-language commercials in Florida, the purpose of which was to capitalize on the ongoing shift of Hispanic Floridians toward the Republican Party. In 2020, Donald Trump won a majority of Florida’s 1.5 million Cuban Americans, a majority of Florida’s one million Colombian Americans, and a majority of Florida’s 100,000 Venezuelan Americans. Trump improved on his performance in Miami-Dade County, losing it by seven points in 2020 compared with 29 points in 2016, and he won two-thirds of the vote in Hialeah, the most Hispanic city in the United States. The last time Florida had a midterm election, in 2018, the Washington Post predicted that the election would be a battle between “older white voters” and “the state’s rapidly diversifying youth.” Instead, DeSantis gained 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in the governor’s race, and Rick Scott won 45 percent in his Senate race — a touch shy of the 48 percent that Marco Rubio won in 2016. This time around, DeSantis aims to win Hispanic voters outright.

But what use are all these facts when there is tribal wittering to be indulged? We are dealing here with a habit so impervious to reality that it is able to transmute the news that an immigrant from South Africa has voted for a Mexican-born woman to represent an 84 percent Hispanic district into a story about “white supremacy and authoritarianism.” “When the facts change, I change my mind,” John Maynard Keynes once said. Increasingly, progressives try to change the facts. After Trump outperformed expectations with Hispanic voters in 2020, they simply recast Hispanic voters’ role. “These days,” the Washington Post’s Eugene Scott submitted a few days after the election, “you do not have to be white to support white supremacy.” “Latino,” wrote the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones, “is a contrived ethnic category.” “Cubans,” offered up activist Andrea L. Pino-Silva, “have been sold a narrative that they have a guaranteed path to whiteness, and many will sell out every other minority to get it.” To avoid introspection, anything goes.

More from NR’s editorial on the January 6 committee:

For all the problems in its design and operation, the committee has done important work. The January 6 Capitol riot and the associated “stop the steal” effort to prevent Joe Biden’s election from being certified is an important moment in our history, and there remains value in documenting it for posterity with evidence and testimony under oath. The subject of what the president did after the riot started, and why the Capitol was not secured more swiftly and decisively, was under-explored in the second impeachment, and has produced some revealing testimony.

The public record of Trump’s conduct has been damning, and his inability even to this day to let go of his false claims about the 2020 election claims by the official constitutionally sworn to uphold the laws, claims that deluded and enraged his supporters, inspiring the more unhinged among them to storm the Capitol are further evidence that he shouldn’t hold any public office again. Trump was warned in no uncertain terms by people who had long been loyal to him that, in seeking to overturn Biden’s electors, he was pursuing an unlawful strategy based on lies. Too deeply invested in his own delusions, he ignored them all. . . .

Amidst all of this, however, there have also been heroes. Mike Pence stands out for his principled refusal to cooperate in Trump’s scheme to object to Biden’s electors, a stance that was painful for Pence to take and put him in the crosshairs of an angry, threatening mob that came within 40 feet of coming upon him. Pence admirably stood his ground, refusing to leave the Capitol so long as the electoral-vote count remained unfinished. . . .

Moreover, say what you will of Liz Cheney’s political judgments; she has shown great courage in taking on this role at great cost, ending her tenure in House Republican leadership and quite possibly resulting in the loss of her seat.

Shout-Outs

Christine Rosen, at Commentary: The Mainstream Media Damaged Our Children

Michael Hartney & Renu Mukherjee, at City Journal: The Asian Recall

Tom Rogan, at the Washington Examiner: Did Russian hackers blow up a Texas LNG pipeline on June 8?

Andrew Solender, at Axios: Oz drops Trump branding in general election shift

Honorable Mention

From our friends at NRI:

Calling all mid-career professionals! National Review Institute’s fall 2022 regional fellowship program is headed to Chicago and Dallas.

The Burke to Buckley Program is an eight-week, graduate-level series designed for mid-career professionals to gain a deeper understanding of conservative thought and to build a network of talented, like-minded individuals who can assist one another professionally and personally for years to come. Each class will be composed of 20–25 participants who represent a wide variety of professions and industries. Candidates should have between ten and 25 years of professional work experience and ideally be between 35 and 55 years old. This program is not intended for recent graduates or people working in the fields of public policy or politics.

The fall programs generally run from mid-September to mid-November of each year. Accepted participants will gather over dinner to discuss foundational conservative texts. Each week, an expert (often an NR writer or fellow) will guide the discussion, providing a unique opportunity for participants to engage with, and to learn from, one another.

Does this sound like something that might interest you or someone you know? Check out the Burke to Buckley webpage for more information and applications. Apply by July 15.

CODA

For jazz people: Did you ever wonder what it would sound like if a few of the guys (well, one of them anyway) from the Bitches Brew sessions snuck into a small studio in the back and kept playing? That’s the sense I get listening to the title track on guitarist John McLaughlin’s debut album, “Extrapolation,” an old copy of which I recently found at a Philly record shop. The reality, it turns out, is the inverse of that timeline — McLaughlin and a few other musicians recorded it in early 1969, months before he participated in that historic album with jazz giants. This debut contains the seeds of what was to follow. Neat.

White House

Woe Is Biden

Loading...
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the monthly U.S. jobs report in Rehoboth Beach, Del., June 3, 2022. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Who could have predicted the job of U.S. president would involve compounding challenges arising simultaneously on a global scale?

Not Biden, it seems, despite his prior eight years of intimate familiarity with the position. Based on press accounts and the president’s own public laments, he is dismayed at the following: bad hands he’s been dealt by the universe, the sheer number of problems he’s called upon to do something about, inadequate messaging from staff, aides who correct his gaffes, insufficiently positive media coverage, insufficiently supportive Democrats, those damn Republicans, and on it goes.

As is typical with those occupying high public office, nowhere on that list is evidence of self-reflection beyond the idea that he should have communicated better how incredible he is.

It is true, as pieces on this website have pointed out on occasion, that challenges ranging from the supply-chain mess to inflation are not primarily of the president’s making and involve forces outside his control (the Fed plays a bigger role in the latter and belatedly is trying to correct course). But it is not true that the buck stops everywhere but there.

Isaac Schorr, who moonlights as a Jolt writer, riffs on this theme here, and Kyle Smith provides a reality check:

Unpopular presidents tend to complain that they were dealt a bad hand, and then grouse that the media are making things look worse than they are. But Biden was dealt an excellent hand; he has no excuses for the mess he’s in. . . .

By the time Biden took office, the economy had rebounded energetically, growing 33.4 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, in the last two quarters of 2020, and it was already roaring along at a 6.4 percent growth clip for the first quarter of 2021. Yet Biden pushed for more stimulus and got it, pouring $1.9 trillion worth of kerosene on the fire. And then he pushed for even more of the same, spending the rest of the year advocating trillions in infrastructure spending (which he got) and trillions more in spending on the so-called Build Back Better agenda (which he didn’t). Gasoline prices are not as directly linked to Biden’s actions as inflation, but he can hardly blame exogenous forces for the spike in the cost of fossil fuel when disrupting its supply has been a nakedly stated objective of the bureaucracy he put in place. . . .

Biden is the primary author of the humiliating retreat from Afghanistan that first caused his approval ratings to sag. His softness on illegal immigration is the obvious cause of the ongoing border crisis. And his inability to get through even a heavily stage-managed appearance without looking as clueless as Grandpa Simpson is the reason Americans doubt his fitness to lead.

On inflation, the Biden administration’s responses have been a tapestry of denial and misdirection and projection. The president often blames Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that prices were rising for months before the invasion of Ukraine. This week, Biden also blamed Republicans for — try and follow this — stopping him from tackling inflation by pumping more money into an overheated economy.

To that point, nowhere do we see an acknowledgment that big-spending policies at least could have played a role or that it might be wise to reconsider those policies in light of events. As Charles C. W. Cooke has noted, the modern Democratic agenda amounts to an “inflation machine,” including the goal to “increase the discretionary income of middle- and upper-middle-class Americans by writing at least $10,000 off the student-loan debt they owe taxpayers.”

Yet, what we hear is the world’s smallest violin playing “Wail for the Chief.”

A recent NBC News story captured this dynamic:

“I’ve heard him say recently that he used to say about President Obama’s tenure that everything landed on his desk but locusts, and now he understands how that feels,” a White House official said.

Amid a rolling series of calamities, Biden’s feeling lately is that he just can’t catch a break.

From the New York Times comes the news that some Democratic insiders are starting to wonder whether they’d be better off cutting Biden loose in 2024. The piece, however, honors the conceit that a big part of the problem is his inability to pass “big-ticket legislation” and the “refusal” by congressional Democrats to “muscle through the president’s Build Back Better agenda or an expansion of voting rights.”

A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll showed inflation, the economy, gun violence, and abortion to be top issues for Americans, and Biden’s approval rating on the first was 28 percent.  Perhaps the president’s problem is not his inability to pass his panacean agenda but the growing realization that he doesn’t have one.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

For Democrats, a warning from the Rio Grande Valley: An Earthquake in South Texas

Don’t worry, Biden is sending sternly worded letters about gas prices: Biden’s Oil Tantrum

Enough with the “Putin’s price hike” — there’s much more to this crisis: Inflation Is Here to Stay

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: The Kamala Harris Problem

Kevin Williamson: The January 6 Hearings Are a Story without a Hero

Robert Stein: The 60-Plus-Seat Senate Agenda

Zachary Evans: Eastman Admitted Bid to Reject Electors Would Lose 9–0 in Supreme Court, Pence Counsel Testifies

Caroline Downey: Mexican-Born Texas Republican Flips House Seat in Special Election

Caroline Downey: ‘Open Season’: Pro-Abortion Terrorist Group Vows to Ramp Up Violence against Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Abigail Anthony: Who Are People with Uteruses?

Ryan Mills: Experts Sound Alarm on Heightened Threat to Judges after Foiled Kavanaugh Assassination

Ryan T. Anderson: In the Transgender Debate, It’s Language vs. Reality

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Zombie War against Covid

Isaac Schorr: College Republican Chapters War with National Org as Allegations of Incompetence, Corruption Fly

Jimmy Quinn: Senior Ukrainian Officials Think Biden Has Begun ‘Process to Lay Blame’ on Them

CAPITAL MATTERS

Dominic Pino explains why the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is not the cure-all the president suggests it is: Biden Misses the Boat on Shipping

Wayne Crews & Ryan Young have a novel idea for responding to — rather, preparing for — the next crisis: The Case for Letting Crises Go to Waste

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

By the time this newsletter goes out, Paul McCartney will have turned 80. Kyle Smith honors the artist and all his achievements: McCartney at 80

To borrow the language of Jeopardy!, Brian Allen has a potpourri column this week. His highlights include an exhibition of haunting Nordic art: Centaurs and Reindeer Transfix at the Venice Biennale

Armond White does not buy into the buzz on Lightyear: Lightyear Is Consumerism for Kids

EAT PRAY EXCERPT

MBD lets it rip upon the occasion of New York’s mask-optional decision for little kids. Preach:

Not a single elected official in New York City or Los Angeles has ever even attempted to demonstrate with data that the policy of masking two-year-olds was achieving a public-health goal for the city that other people in their states, or in Europe, were foolishly forgoing. They don’t have to do this, because when you are trusting the science!, you don’t have to think or reflect on what you’re telling others to do.

Covid is now becoming something like red meat. It is a thing public-health officials wish they could eliminate entirely, but in the absence of this power, they just make absurd recommendations about it that nobody follows. You might say that this is “traditional public health” — the enterprise where progressive MDs vainly try to normalize wickedly unhealthy things, like puberty-blocking drugs and refined carbohydrates, while at the same time casting as evil normal, healthy things, like dried sausage or childhood innocence about sexuality. The CDC says never to eat medium-rare or rare steak. Nobody frets about this. Similarly, New York City’s public-health office recommends that every single person in New York City remain masked indoors. Nobody pretends to follow it.

But we haven’t gotten all the way there.

There are still places in America where Covid remains a source of restriction, shame, coercion, and collecting a full-time check for doing a crappy job. Places like the Newark School District. Or certain prisons and jails that have banned all inmate visitations since the beginning of the pandemic. Or maybe your school still has ridiculous, parent-morale-destroying rules about exposure. A local science-truster tests their second-grader every twelve hours and reports a positive test, and now your child has to stay home for five days, or ten days, or two weeks leading up to graduation, even though nobody has so much as coughed or popped a fever.

The pandemic was a legitimate public-health crisis, at one point. But along the way, as more people became vaccinated, and more people became infected with less-severe strains, it stopped being a public-health crisis and instead became a crisis for public health itself.  We road-tested universal house arrest and the mass use of “emergency use” drugs, and began talking about entire countries as if they were wings of a universal human prison, entering and exiting out of “lockdowns.”

The last remaining restrictions on normal life are a national embarrassment. We should be ashamed that any American children are being told to wear their cloth masks for their moving-up ceremonies. Lunatic people were often more right than the experts. And I’m ashamed I didn’t join the lunatics earlier. I’ll never forget it.

Setting aside concerns about the structure of the January 6 committee, its public proceedings have served to expose just how cockamamie the schemes of Donald Trump’s inner circle were, by their own admission. From Zachary Evans at the news desk:

One day before the January 6 riot, lawyer John Eastman privately admitted that his proposal for then-vice president Mike Pence to reject electoral votes that were unfavorable to President Trump would not have survived a challenge in the Supreme Court, former Pence counsel Greg Jacob testified on Thursday.

Jacob revealed the admission during testimony to the House Committee on the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday.

Jacob said that in a meeting with Trump and Pence on January 4, Eastman said that Pence could either reject the Electoral College results outright, or that he could suspend the certification of results and demand that certain states reexamine their election results on the grounds that they were tainted by fraud. During a subsequent meeting on January 5, Eastman requested that Pence reject the Electoral College results, according to Jacob.

However, Jacob said Eastman also admitted on January 5 that his proposals to nullify the results would be rejected by the Supreme Court, although Eastman also contended that courts would not hear the issue in the first place.

“When I pressed him on the point, I said, ‘John, if the vice president did what you are asking him to do, we would lose 9-to-nothing in the Supreme Court, wouldn’t we?’” Jacob testified.

“And he initially started it, ‘Well, I think maybe you would lose only 7-2,’” Jacob said, “and after some further discussion acknowledged, ‘Well, yeah, you’re right, we would lose 9-nothing.’”

Abigail Anthony examines the assault on a once-popular word:

The Daily Wire produced a documentary that features conservative commentator Matt Walsh traveling worldwide to ask a simple question: “What is a woman?” The responses are both shocking and unintelligible. The diverse interviewees include professors, female athletes, African villagers, and random pedestrians. The movie’s initial comical tone grows sinister, as eminent doctors offer absurd explanations of gender as a social construct isolable from biological sex, then proceed to justify genital mutilation, castration, and sterilization for minors. Scholars in the movie condemn the pathologizing of gender dysphoria but praise its medical treatment. Those arguing that gender is independent of sex simultaneously encourage surgeries so that embodiment and gender identity correspond.

Walsh refrains from debating and does not attempt to change his interlocutors’ minds. Instead, he asks direct questions, and in response, progressives disgrace themselves repeatedly by failing to defend their own ideology with substantive arguments. The irony is profound: The people who earn degrees in women’s studies apparently do not know what they are studying. It is troubling when the “experts” in the film provide definitions for “woman” that are wrong, but it is astounding when they cannot provide any definition and resort to the circular explanation that a woman is a person who identifies as a woman.

I applaud the documentary as another valiant achievement in the effort to combat gender ideology, a ridiculous — and dangerous — thought experiment pervading virtually every aspect of American culture. Yet it neglects an important linguistic, sociopolitical phenomenon that deserves attention. The film operates on the premise that proponents of gender theory employ the word “woman.” Increasingly, they don’t. Progressives are crippled by a commitment to inclusivity, which demands abandoning the term “woman” in favor of gender-neutral language or phrasal substitutes such as “people with uteruses.” . . .

Examples are endless. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has used the phrase “menstruating persons.” The menstrual-product company Callaly argues that “not everyone who menstruates is a woman (periods can be experienced by trans men, and intersex and non binary people too) just as not all women menstruate (for a range of reasons including contraception, menopause, health conditions and trans gender)”so “‘women’ is therefore not the most accurate word to use when we’re talking about the people who use our products.” Tampax tweeted: “Fact: Not all women have periods. Also a fact: Not all people with periods are women. Let’s celebrate the diversity of all people who bleed!” NPR tweeted that “people who menstruate are saying it’s hard to find tampons on store shelves across the U.S. right now, as supply chain upsets reach the feminine care aisle.” Evidently, “feminine care” is not experienced by females but rather by “people who menstruate.”

An overview on inflation, what’s causing it, and how long it might be with us, from NR’s editorial:

As an expression of optimism about the current economy, “peak inflation” has had a far shorter shelf life than “transitory.” May’s headline inflation number of 8.6 percent put an end to hopes that surging prices had peaked with March’s 8.5 percent (in April, the year-on-year increase had declined to 8.3 percent). There is little in the immediate future to suggest that things will cool down any time soon.

There is more to this than Putin’s price hike™.  The price of oil and of various foodstuffs, such as wheat, was increasing long before the war was on the horizon. To be sure, even these increases had only a limited connection to U.S. policy (thus unfavorable weather conditions made a significant contribution to the run-up in the wheat price). While those price increases are problems in their own right, they are still only relative prices and do not on their own represent a general increase in the price level. Much of our current inflation is homemade — by the Fed and, to a lesser extent, by reckless fiscal policy — and is now showing worrying signs of becoming entrenched. . . .

The administration should demonstrate that it is determined to set this country back on the course of living within its means and that its intent is that this should be achieved by discipline on the spending side rather than higher taxation. This is a course correction that will take time, even in the unlikely event that the Democrats wish to make it. However, in the spirit of not making things even worse than they already are, plans to revive Build Back Better or, for that matter, to embark on an expanded student-loan-forgiveness program should be scrapped. Pressing forward with either will only reinforce Americans’ perception that Washington is not serious about inflation, further increasing the risk that this bout of inflation will feed upon itself.

Shout-Outs

Andrew Kerr & Jerry Dunleavy, at the Washington Examiner: LISTEN: The moment Hunter Biden says his father will do anything he tells him to

Eric Boehm, at Reason: Why Biden’s Claim of Cutting the Deficit Is False, in a Single Chart

Austin Williams, at UnHerd: Zero Covid has radicalized Shanghai

Reid J. Epstein & Jennifer Medina, at the New York Times: Should Biden Run in 2024? Democratic Whispers of ‘No’ Start to Rise.”

CODA

A number of you responded to last week’s solicitation for some lively (almost) summer live acts, with anecdotes and recs. With absolutely no ado . . .

Here’s the Mavericks doing “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” courtesy of John Shelton Reed. Here’s Rare Earth doing “I Just Want to Celebrate” back in 1974 (there’s a story there), courtesy of Kevin in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kevin Antonio sends along Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets, and John Wilsford gives appreciation for the cross-generational appeal of Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos, live.

Enjoy the weather, and thanks for reading.

Energy & Environment

Gas-Stove Bans Are Starting to Look Racist

Loading...
(bgton/Getty Images)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The headline above might be harsh. (I pulled punches when I last posted about the burning topic of natural-gas bans.)

But if we adopt the view that disparate impact demonstrates the inherent bias of the policies that lead to it, then the ever-multiplying city-level restrictions on gas stoves are at least discriminatory. A move by Los Angeles to zero out gas lines in new buildings is bringing these concerns to the fore.

Now, the outrage factor here probably simmers at around medium-low, compared with that over inflation, Supreme Court drama, the border, Ukraine . . . which is proper. Still, it represents yet more municipal misjudgment that tends to backfire with voters (see Boudin, Chesa). Why does Los Angeles matter? While dozens of U.S. cities have gone in this direction, the presence of so many Asian restaurants in the sprawling coastal metropolis (which includes America’s largest Koreatown) highlights how these policies harm, even inadvertently, certain cooking cultures that depend on live fire.

The Los Angeles Times, with Korean BBQ on the brain, recently published candid quotes from Asian restaurateurs concerned that any switch to electric would compromise their cuisine. To some, electrification is assimilation:

Leo and Lydia Lee, owners of RiceBox, a Cantonese BBQ restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, use gas to cook the entirety of their menu, with the exception of rice. Gas powers the stoves used to cook dishes in a wok and the custom barbecue oven used to prepare the restaurant’s signature char siu Duroc pork, roasted low and slow with a sweet honey glaze.

“The wok itself is really essential to Asian cuisine,” Leo said. “By taking gas away, you’re telling us we cannot use woks anymore, essentially taking away our identity and heritage. It forces us to adapt to American culture.”

This is Los Angeles, and some chefs are conflicted, torn between wanting to combat climate change and stay true to their culture.

One such individual, Bryant Ng, emphasized the importance of using natural flame when cooking with a wok, telling the L.A. Times, “You can’t really replicate that with something electric without an actual flame.” He described the switch to electric or induction as hard but possible — yet also costly.

“It may be prohibitive for many restaurants,” Ng wrote. “And would discriminate against restaurants owned by POC.”

Hope is not lost for these restaurants, as the rules would apply to new construction, not existing establishments, and some are pushing for restaurant exemptions. But those home cooks and professional chefs who do occupy no-gas buildings would feel something amiss without the flame, as Phil Klein noted, and it’s hard to get past the reality that Asian and Latin American cultures are uniquely impacted by these rules.

Every policy involves trade-offs, of course. I happen to believe climate change is a problem worth addressing. But the trade-offs should involve clear benefits, and it’s not evident these bans produce them. Moving new buildings to all-electric will require more electricity generation, only a fraction of which is powered by renewables today. In fact, natural gas remains the biggest source of electricity generation in the U.S., followed by coal. Los Angeles endeavors to clean up its electric grid over the next decade (watch out for an “overstretched grid,” Andrew Stuttaford warns). But until that mix changes, electrification may be more health than climate policy, cutting down on indoor fumes without slashing emissions generally. Where stoves are concerned, that seems to be a trade-off that chefs, not governments, should weigh.

The California Restaurant Association, which is fighting a similar Berkeley measure in court, is beginning to amplify the point that minorities are disproportionately affected. In circulating that same L.A. Times article, the group tweeted this quote from its president: “With the sheer number of restaurants in L.A., this will have a massive impact on the future of the restaurant industry and how many diverse cuisines are offered.”

Translation: Absent needed exemptions, these bans threaten to turn the country’s rich culinary melting pot into one big bowl of Progresso.

*    *    *

But enough about soup. A new issue of NR is out, and you can find its digital likeness here. There is also much to say about the alarming threat on Justice Kavanaugh’s life this past week, and about the role political rhetoric plays in creating this environment. You can read more on that here, and below.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

It’s time to start taking security for Supreme Court justices seriously: The Frightening Threat to Brett Kavanaugh

About those gas prices: Biden’s $5 Gallon

Called it: Chesa Boudin Must Go

The double standard of justice is getting old: The Biden Justice Department’s Shameful Pandering to Bomb-Throwing Rioters

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: Biden Is an Old Man Overwhelmed by Events

Rich Lowry: The United States Has an Epidemic of Gang Shootings

Alexandra DeSanctis: Abortion Supporters, End the Violence

Andrew McCarthy: The Threat on Kavanaugh’s Life Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum

Dan McLaughlin: Democrats Need to Call Off Targeting Supreme Court Justices after Armed Assassin Arrested at Kavanaugh’s House

Dan McLaughlin: Ilya Shapiro Resigns from Georgetown Law School

Caroline Downey: Schools Reopened after Covid — But the Kids Never Returned

Kyle Smith: Hollywood’s China Breakup Is Long Overdue

Ryan Mills: Recall Organizers Say Incompetence, Not Politics, Drove Boudin Ouster

Jim Geraghty: Ultra-Progressive Politics Rebuked in California

Charles C. W. Cooke: Progressives Have a Twitter Problem

Brittany Bernstein: January 6 Committee Shows Previously Unseen Footage of Capitol Riot

Kevin Williamson: Of Course Haircuts Have Genders

CAPITAL MATTERS

Joseph Sullivan reads the digital tea leaves on inflation: Has Inflation Peaked? Google Trends Data Say No

Dan McLaughlin explains why Democrats can’t fix it: Why Democrats Can’t Handle Inflation

Dominic Pino calls foul on Biden’s latest use of the Defense Production Act: Biden’s Flagrant Abuse of Emergency Powers Must Be Stopped

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Jack Wolfsohn talks to Matt Walsh about his new documentary: Matt Walsh Stumps the Left with One Simple Question . . . And Madeleine Kearns tackles that doc here: Is the Truth Transphobic?

Top Gun: Maverick has Armond White pondering another classic: Tom Cruise’s Hit Revives Sternberg’s Last American Film

Brian Allen heads to the home and studio of the Lincoln Memorial sculptor for some monumental history: Exploring Chesterwood, Home of Lincoln Memorial Sculptor Daniel Chester French

FROM THE NEW, JUNE 27, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Christine Rosen: Ban Kids from Social Media

Andrew McCarthy: Russiagate Misunderstood

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Modest Burden of Life

Mario Loyola: What Is the Ukraine Endgame?

AT RISK OF PROVIDING TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING . . .

NR’s cover story by Christine Rosen poses a very fair question:

Why don’t we have a legally enforceable age requirement for the use of social media? As a society, we long ago agreed upon age-restriction laws governing a range of behaviors (driving, voting, enlisting in the military, smoking, drinking alcohol, getting a tattoo). Why do we treat social-media use differently?

A recent survey by Common Sense Media of social-media use found a significant increase in the number of children ages eight to twelve (so-called tweens) using social-media platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram. “The huge number of kids using social when they’re so young — it makes me want to cry,” Diana Graber of Cyberwise told the New York Times. “These social-media apps are not designed for children.”

And yet for far too long we’ve effectively acted as if they were, because we’ve done little to prevent children from having access to them. The age limit of 13 that currently governs social-media platforms was arbitrarily chosen as part of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which came into effect in 2000 (four years before Facebook was created). It was meant to restrict how companies could use children’s data as well as requiring “verifiable parental consent” for those younger than age 13.

As anyone who has ever stumbled across an eleven-year-old’s Instagram account will tell you, however, the system never worked. The request to verify one’s age is merely a suggestion, with no real effort at verification. There are no financial or legal repercussions for the companies that fail to confirm the ages of their users and every incentive financially for them to look the other way as underage kids create accounts. You could call it an honor system, but there is little that is honorable about the goals these social-media companies have set for drawing ever-younger users to their platforms.

America is in trouble on inflation, and Dan McLaughlin succinctly explains why:

There are only two fixes for inflation: reduce the supply of money, or increase the supply of goods and services. How do you reduce the supply of money? There are four ways to do this:

  1. Slash public spending, so the government is injecting less money into the economy.
  2. Raise interest rates, which puts recessionary pressure on the economy.
  3. Raise taxes without raising spending, so the government is extracting more money from the economy.
  4. Incentivize a shift from spending to savings, which reduces the amount of money chasing goods and services.

Increasing the supply of goods and services can really only be done by government by lowering the cost of supply — either by reducing regulatory burdens, eliminating environmental roadblocks to drilling and other development, cutting business taxes, reducing trade barriers, or pursuing other efforts to get government out of the hair of business.

Nowhere on this list is anything Democrats prefer to do, with the arguable exception of tax hikes — and when Democrats promote tax hikes, they almost always do it in conjunction with even larger increases in spending. They can’t make it easier for business to drill for oil or build stuff. They can’t cut spending. They can’t rework the tax burden for more consumption taxes and fewer taxes on investing (to incentivize more savings and investment and less spending). . . .

Inflation might get marginally better on its own as global supply chains continue to recover, but so long as Democrats and progressives are in charge, no solutions will be on the menu.

From the editorial on the alleged assassination attempt on Justice Kavanaugh:

As disturbing as this news is, we cannot say it is surprising. In the weeks following the leaked Justice Samuel Alito opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, pro-abortion protesters have vandalized and firebombed pro-life organizations, harassed churchgoers, and shown up at justices’ homes. Leading up to the incident at Kavanaugh’s house, justices received a flood of death threats. Even after news broke of the foiled assassination attempt, protesters gathered Wednesday evening to picket outside his home.

Biden has tried to thread the needle by not opposing protests at justices’ homes as long as they were peaceful. When former White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked last month about activists posting a map of justices’ homes, her response was, “I think the president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document.” While saying that Biden wanted the protests to be peaceful, she added, “I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest.”

The Left mostly shrugged at this problem. Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz argued that protesting in front of justices’ homes was justified because fencing had been erected in front of the Supreme Court building. One opinion piece from NBC’s Noah Berlatsky, which aged particularly poorly, was headlined, “Brett Kavanaugh is not in danger — unlike the abortion precedent he’s ready to overturn.” . . .

The time for playing games is over. The prospect of the assassination of a Supreme Court justice linked to the outcome of a pending case poses such a significant threat to our republic that it should send chills down the spine of every American. The House should pass the Supreme Court security bill immediately, Biden should stop equivocating about intimidation efforts by his own side, federal laws against protesting at judges’ homes should be enforced, justices should receive all the protection they need, and we should all pray for their safety.

Kyle Smith asks Hollywood, somewhat rhetorically, whether all the pandering to China is worth it:

Hollywood is coming to the sad realization that pursuing Chinese money is not worth the creative and moral cost. Disney effusively thanked several different arms of the Chinese police state in Xinjiang Province — gracias, Gestapo! — in the credits of 2020’s Mulan, a movie built to appeal to China, and the Communist Party banned it anyway. China demanded that Sony censor Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood for its unflattering portrayal of Bruce Lee — and Lee was not even a Chinese national. (He was born in San Francisco and raised in British Hong Kong.) Tarantino refused, and Sony properly told China to stuff it. The same movie could easily have been banned for a different nonsensical reason: It starred Brad Pitt, whose movies were banned from China for years because he had starred in Seven Years in Tibet.

China banned The Dark Knight (the problem was a scene with a Hong Kong money launderer), Ghostbusters (no ghosts allowed), Deadpool (too violent), Noah (Christian prophecy is a no-no), and Joker (too dark? Who knows? R-rated movies generally don’t get released in China unless they are cleaned up).

Meanwhile, American consumers are beginning to be disgusted by Hollywood’s partnership with an evil empire and to notice the double standard. Appeasing China will cost Hollywood some brand value. This spring, as Disney was making a fuss about a Florida law that bars teachers from bringing up sexuality among little kids, Warner Bros. was mollifying China by removing gay references from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — whose title character is gay, at least in the original version. The Warner statement was classic corporate doublespeak: “We’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s censors are now the “integrity safeguarding” lads. The movie went on to gross $28 million in China, only $7 million of which goes back to WB. Was it worth it? China has made itself a cultural pariah, and Hollywood doesn’t need to continue grinding its principles to dust to be its partner.

Honorable Mention

Consider this your weekly reminder that National Review cruises are back. You can find details on how to join National Review Institute on the next one here: http://nricruise.com/

Shout-Outs

Nate Hochman, at the New York Times: What Comes After the Religious Right?

Ilya Shapiro, at the Wall Street Journal: Why I Quit Georgetown

Josh Barro: Are There Any Adults at the Washington Post?

Sean Trende, at RealClearPolitics: The Senate Seats Most Likely to Flip in 2022

CODA

I recently returned from a too-brief visit with family to New Orleans where I got to swing by a couple of the great clubs on Frenchmen Street, which is always a treat. We caught Dominick Grillo & the Frenchmen Street All-Stars, aptly named, at the Spotted Cat. I will share the only video I can find on their YouTube page, but it gives you a taste of the swing they bring. I overheard the bartender on a Sunday night talk up their drummer as the best in the city. A little bit of salesmanship? Sure. But not necessarily hyperbole.

Seen any lively live acts lately? It is the start of the summer concert season, after all. Share with this list, send me a song: jberger@nationalreview.com.

Thanks for reading.

Politics & Policy

Setting the Record Straight

Loading...
Attorney Michael Sussmann (at left) departs the U.S. Federal Courthouse after opening arguments in his trial in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2022. (Julia Nikhinson/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Fair is foul and foul is fair, say some.

“Michael Sussmann is innocent!” Except that he’s not. “The Second Amendment guarantees no individual right!” Except that it does. Race-blind is racist. Spending is not inflationary, and on and on and on it goes.

We’re here to set the record straight, not that you Dear Jolter, are likely to be in need of any such straightening. Nevertheless, it’s nice to be reminded you’re not alone in the land of the sane, right?

Yes, Joe Biden is far too old to be president. No, critical theory is not a substitute for phonics. Yes, Ilya Shapiro’s being reinstated at Georgetown Law was a victory. No, we should not feel much better about the state of our culture so long as mousy men like Georgetown Law dean Bill Treanor remain in positions of power.

Much of this would be a bore to go over, were it not for the talent of our stable of writers for finding unique angles to decry and fisk and explain and even comfort, when necessary. I’ll keep this short and allow you ample time to learn, eye-roll, and fist-pump from, at, and to the goodies below. Enjoy!

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Corporations are people, my friend: The Supreme Court Should Protect Social-Media Free Speech

Red Flag laws have merit, but only on the state level: Say No to a National ‘Red Flag’ Law

On inflation, President Biden has tried nothing and is all out of ideas: Joe Biden’s Out of Ideas about Inflation

John Durham has demonstrated the worth of his work, even in failure: Durham’s Work Must Go On, despite Sussmann Acquittal

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and the willingness to act: The Uvalde Outrage

ARTICLES

Kyle Smith: Norm Macdonald Killed before He Died

Charles C. W. Cooke: Stop Lying about the Historical Understanding of Gun Rights

Madeleine Kearns: A Reckoning for MeToo

Ari Schaffer: Georgia Republicans Flip the Script on Stolen Elections

Jack Crowe: UPenn Med School Leaders Turn on Former Dean over ‘Racist’ Affirmative-Action Criticism

Rich Lowry: The Blowhard-in-Chief

Jim Geraghty: Could Los Angeles Elect a (Relatively) Conservative Mayor?

Jeff Eager: Does the GOP Actually Have a Shot in Oregon This Year?

Dan McLaughlin: We Don’t Have to ‘Do Nothing’ on School Shootings

Alexandra DeSanctis: Understanding the Human Cry behind the Pro-Abortion Cause

John McCormack: Do Americans Really Want an Octogenarian in the Oval Office?

CAPITAL MATTERS

Ben Sperry gives yet another example of what’s wrong with the everything-is-everything mindset: Broadband Internet Isn’t a Social-Justice Issue

Do you have too much money in your pocket? Is that the problem? Ryan Ellis thinks not: The Left Is Wrong: We’re Overspending, Not Undertaxing

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Only Armond White could cause you to want to drop everything and run to the theaters for a poet’s biopic: Terence Davies’s Magnificent Benediction

Kyle Smith is grateful for an indefatigable Maverick: Thanks, Tom Cruise

Brian T. Allen writes in praise of Donatello, and a new exhibition in Florence: Donatello, the Renaissance Genius on Whose Shoulders Other Geniuses Stand

THE CHARGE: GREAT COPY, THE PLEA: GUILTY

A jury may have found Michael Sussmann innocent, but the Editors remain sure of Special Counsel John Durham’s purpose:

The usual suspects are taking the acquittal of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann as proof that Special Counsel John Durham never had a real case to investigate. Instead, it should put a spotlight on what really needs investigating: the FBI’s role in the Trump–Russia “collusion” farce.

In the case that Durham unwisely brought, the FBI played the part of the victim. And there is no serious question that Sussmann lied to it. He conveyed an allegation that Donald Trump, at the time the Republican presidential candidate, had established a communications back channel with the Kremlin through servers at Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the allegation was based on misleadingly mined Internet data, the lie at issue in the trial was Sussmann’s claim not to be representing a client. At the time, he was in fact representing both the campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the tech executive who had compiled the data, Clinton partisan Rodney Joffe.

We have smoking-gun proof that Sussmann lied: a text message he sent the night before his September 19, 2016, meeting with the FBI. Sussmann — a former Justice Department cybersecurity lawyer — assured his old friend James Baker, then the FBI’s general counsel, that he wanted to bring the “sensitive” information only to “help the Bureau,” and not on behalf of any client.

At the time of the indictment, though, Durham did not have the text. Inexplicably, he did not obtain it until a few weeks before the trial, which was after the five-year statute of limitations had elapsed. The jury was thus told it could not find a false statement based on the text standing alone. Given that the one-on-one meeting between Sussmann and Baker was not recorded, and that Baker has given conflicting accounts of what was said when questioned about it over the years, Durham had a weak case.

Still, the principal impediment to conviction was the FBI itself.

Baker’s claim to have accepted Sussmann’s cover story rang hollow. The FBI knew exactly who Sussmann was. He was well known for representing top Democrats along with his then–law partner, Marc Elias (the main lawyer for the Clinton campaign). Moreover, the DNC had retained Sussmann earlier in 2016 to deal with the FBI in connection with its allegation that Russia had hacked its servers. Under Sussmann’s guidance, the DNC had resisted surrendering its servers to the FBI for forensic examination — instead hiring a private contractor, Crowdstrike. The notion that, just six weeks before Election Day, a top Democratic lawyer had no partisan motivation in bringing the FBI derogatory information about Trump, and that information just happened to support the Democratic smear of Trump as a Putin puppet, was laughable.

And sure enough, in the Sussmann trial’s most notable testimony, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook admitted that Hillary Clinton had personally approved leaking the Trump–Putin back-channel tale, which the campaign knew to be dubious, to the media. Once the media began running with the Alfa Bank story, just days before the election, Hillary Clinton herself (along with her aide Jake Sullivan, now Biden’s national-security adviser) amplified the news in tweets that anticipated an imminent FBI investigation.

Charlie Cooke has had it up to here with those who would have you believe the Second Amendment guarantees the only constitutional right not extended to individuals:

If it will please the court, I will happily fall onto both my knees, throw my arms up into the air, shake my head plaintively, and plead with America’s journalists, in the name of all that is good and right, to stop doing this:

The interpretation that the Second Amendment extends to individuals’ rights to own guns only became mainstream in 2008, when the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark gun case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, that Americans have a constitutional right to own guns in their homes, knocking down the District’s handgun ban.

This claim was made yesterday in the Washington Post, by a staff writer named Amber Phillips, under the tag “Analysis.” It is, of course, a ridiculous, contemptuous, malicious lie, a myth, or, if you prefer to use a phrase that has become popular of late, disinformation. It has never — at any point in the history of the United States — been “mainstream” to interpret the Second Amendment as anything other than a protection of “individuals’ rights to own guns.” The decision in Heller was, indeed, “landmark.” But it was so only because it represented the first time that the Supreme Court had been asked a direct question about the meaning of the amendment that, for more than two centuries up to then, had not needed to be asked.

Three months before Heller was decided, 73 percent of Americans believed that “the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns,” with just 20 percent contending that it “only guarantees members of state militias such as National Guard units the right to own guns.” That 73 percent supermajority (we might call it the “mainstream”) included a majority of non-gun-owners — which, well, of course it did, given that the alternative interpretation represents a preposterous conspiracy theory. To be within that 20 percent minority, one must ignore all of the history before the Second Amendment’s passage; all of the contemporary commentary as to its meaning; James Madison’s intention to insert it into the Constitution next to the other individual rights in Article I, Section 9, rather than next to the militia clause in Article I, Section 8, clause 16; the 45 state-level rights to keep and bear arms, many of which predated the Second Amendment; the meaning of “the people” everywhere else in the Bill of Rights; the fact that it would make no sense at all to give an individual a “right” to join a state-run institution from which the federal government could bar him; and all evidence of what the United States was actually like prior to 2008.

Writing in 1989, the progressive law professor Sanford Levinson explained in the Yale Law Journal that the theory that Amber Phillips is now laundering “is derived from a mixture of sheer opposition to the idea of private ownership of guns and the perhaps subconscious fear that altogether plausible, perhaps even ‘winning,’ interpretations of the Second Amendment would present real hurdles to those of us supporting prohibitory regulation.” Or, as Adam Liptak put it in the New York Times in 2007, the theory that Phillips has shared is based on “received wisdom and political preferences rather than a serious consideration of the amendment’s text, history and place in the structure of the Constitution.” Once one undertakes that “serious consideration,” one recognizes immediately that the “collective right” claim is, and always has been, a cynical, dishonest, outcome-driven farce. There is a good reason why even Barack Obama responded to the Heller decision by confirming that he had “always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms”: The alternative is a joke.

Ari Schaffer, formerly of Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger’s office, takes a well-deserved victory lap over conspiracy theorists of all stripes:

While much of the coverage of the victories by Kemp, Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr has focused on what they mean for the Republican Party, what they mean for the general election deserves more attention: Georgia’s Democrats will finally have to answer for their own stolen-election claims.

Kemp, Raffensperger, and Carr all stood up to the baseless stolen-election claims pushed by Trump and his supporters. Raffensperger took the brunt of the heat and refused to back down, touring the state and appearing on even the most Trump-friendly media outlets time and time again to answer questions. He launched around 250 investigations related to the 2020 elections, around 130 of which dealt with the November general election specifically, but never found enough evidence to put in doubt the results of the presidential race. In a now-famous phone call, Raffensperger stood up to Trump himself in defense of Georgia’s elections.

Kemp has likewise repeatedly pushed back against allegations that the November 2020 election was stolen, and Carr fought for the integrity of the vote in the courts, working to beat back the false claims of Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and other Trump-affiliated figures.

Indeed, instead of bowing to pressure and leaning into Trump’s stolen-election claims, or even letting them fester unrefuted, Raffensperger, Kemp, and Carr stood up for Georgia’s elections.

On the other side of the aisle, Georgia’s Democratic ticket will be led in November 2022 by Stacey Abrams, who has become a national name by making stolen-election claims of her own.

In November 2018, Abrams refused to concede to Kemp after he defeated her in the state’s gubernatorial election, though her margin of defeat would end up being four times as large as Trump’s was in 2020. She claimed thousands of votes were suppressed and immediately filed a since-rejected lawsuit against Georgia’s election system. She later launched Fair Fight Action, which raised more than $66 million in the 2019–2020 election cycle in part through repeating her stolen-election claims. In the years since her defeat, she has used some of the very same language to cast doubt on the results of her 2018 gubernatorial bid that Trump used to question the results of his 2020 presidential bid.

The 2020 election and its aftermath notwithstanding, Abrams has still refused to concede that she lost in 2018, parroting the stolen-election claims she and Trump have made for years.

The top vote-getter in the Democratic primary for Georgia secretary of state, Bee Nguyen, recently received Abrams’s endorsement in the runoff. In December 2018, Nguyen shared on Twitter an article that claimed that because of “Georgia’s outdated, hackable voting machines,” and “merciless purging and blocking of minority voters . . . Georgia voters will never know who veritably won the [2018] gubernatorial and seventh congressional district races.”

Him?” asks John McCormack:

If Biden, at the age of 79, is registering poll numbers like that in 2022, how much more will the issue of his age weigh on the minds of voters should he seek another term in 2024?

Americans will not merely have to be comfortable with the fitness of the man they vote for in 2024 — they will have to confident that he’ll remain fit to serve as president through January 20, 2029, when Biden would be 86 years old. Attacks on Ronald Reagan’s age obviously didn’t hurt him in 1984, but at the end of a second term Biden would be nearly a decade older than Reagan was when he left office at the age of 77.

Voters do not need to play the role of armchair psychiatrist to see that Biden has lost a step. Despite all the attempts in the mainstream media to recast Biden’s troubles speaking as a lifelong battle with a stutter, it is plain to anyone with eyes and ears that the president who now struggles to make it through a speech is not nearly as sharp as the vice president who debated Paul Ryan in 2012.

It’s far from clear that the issue of age will sink Biden if he runs again in 2024, but it is clear that Republican primary voters could do a lot to help protect Biden from age-related attacks if they nominated Donald Trump for a third time. Trump’s worst mental deficiencies are his erratic personality and his conspiratorial mindset, but he’s also very old: If he ran and won in 2024, he’d be 82 by the time his term ended in January 2029.

Both Biden and Trump are giving every public indication that they will indeed run in 2024, and there’s no sign that they are saying something different behind the scenes. As New York magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti reported last week, Biden “has said in private that he sees himself as the only thing standing between the country and the Trumpian abyss and has instructed his aides to redouble their planning for a rematch.”

Shout-Outs

Noah Rothman, at Commentary: Biden’s Anti-Saudi Campaign Made Little Sense and Cost You Dearly

Erika Bachiochi with Ezra Klein, on a podcast at the New York Times: Sex, Abortion, and Feminism, as Seen From the Right

The Editorial Board, at the Wall Street Journal: The Supreme Court’s Mail-Ballot Mulligan in Pennsylvania

CODA

I know we’re supposed to be angry at Disney — and I am — but if you’re boycotting, I highly recommend breaking your fast for the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which has proven me oh-so-very right and Jack Butler oh-so-very wrong. Same as it ever was.

White House

The ‘Lifeline’ That Wasn’t

Loading...
President Biden signs the American Rescue Plan in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 11, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The case for the American Rescue Plan Act was dubious from the start. Why, when the economy was coming back to life, vaccinations were being distributed, and Covid cases were declining, was a nearly $2 trillion “relief” package necessary?

Early-stage government spending on this crisis was doubtless vital, given the obligation to tackle the pandemic and cover the lost income of workers forced to stay home. Rich Lowry warned at the time, however, that the March 2021 package was poorly (and politically) targeted:

Take public education, where Democratic-allied teacher unions dominate. It’s not clear why any additional spending is necessary, given that tens of billions of education funding from prior COVID-relief bills still is unspent, even as many districts have already begun to reopen for in-person instruction.

Nonetheless, the bill spends roughly another $130 billion on K–12 education, which will be spread out over years.

Meanwhile, $350 billion in aid went to states and localities despite questionable need.

Fast-forward a year, and, sure enough, those districts have more than they required on any emergency basis, so the money either is going unspent or being directed to other purposes. Kyle Smith highlights the, um, creativity of Providence, R.I.:

The city of Providence, R.I., has hit on a seemingly new reason for spending the money: reparations for black and indigenous people. . . . Providence is spending a $124 million federal grant on housing, infrastructure, and other things that have nothing to do with the pandemic, plus $10 million on reparations, via a yet-to-be-determined method.

Providence is not the only city finding other uses for pandemic-relief cash. Meanwhile, those school districts that received funds are still “struggling” . . . wait for it . . . to spend the money they received. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that they have yet to spend 93 percent of it. They face a September 2024 deadline to use it or lose it. (Charles C. W. Cooke has an idea for what to do with the money.)

Looking at another tranche, the Washington Post examined an estimated $163 billion in improper unemployment-related payments from prior pandemic aid, finding most of it has not been recovered. “In many cases, the criminals stole the unemployment funds using real Americans’ personal information,” the paper reported.

Fraud and mistakes that add up to large sums are unavoidable when administering programs of this size, though $163 billion is hardly a rounding error. As Dan McLaughlin laments, “If you just start shoveling big gobs of money out the door in a hurry, a lot of it will go to people who are gaming the system or outright robbing it.” Let’s assume the need to pump aid into the economy outweighed the risk posed by predatory fraudsters early on. But when, a year later, the clear downsides of another surge overwhelmed the attenuating benefits, Democrats prioritized The Win. Any justification served. Upon Senate passage of the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten pretended metaphors don’t exist and called it “quite literally a lifeline for an economy that desperately needs one,” citing the need to make schools safe for in-person instruction. Well, schools are open, and most of that money wasn’t spent during the crisis.

Plenty of ARP money, of course, did stream into the economy. Rather than a lifeline, it became an accelerant for inflation; even Vox acknowledges the connection. It compounded the debt crisis, also. These are among the reasons the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl, months ago, called the program a “textbook case” of economic malpractice. We’re only beginning to find out how deep the dereliction went.

*   *   *

The Texas school shooting this week is a tragedy beyond words. The pain of the parents is unimaginable. We try not to imagine it, but every few years, an exhibition of evil raises the fear. This is an American problem, and one we should work to solve. The political debate to follow is a familiar one, but we should set one goal — policies that can reduce murders, and especially of children, as if it needs to be said. I don’t have the answers but would recommend a couple of thoughtful pieces, linked at the bottom of this newsletter, by NR alumni Robert VerBruggen and David French. Some of their ideas involve gun laws, though not all; RVB mentions raising the purchase age for some long guns, as does NR’s editorial. We should explore these ideas, and beware magic fixes. But the solution, as Dan McLaughlin suggests, also involves something more fundamental, difficult, and sustained, which is to fix ourselves. A culture within which turning a weapon on a classroom is on the menu of options for the alienated is a culture that needs curing.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

A closer look at what could make a difference in preventing school shootings, and what probably would not: There Is No Magic Fix for School Shootings

Cue Nelson Muntz laugh: A Bad Night for Lies

The shocking SBC report should not just sit on a shelf: Southern Baptist Report on Sexual Abuse Demands Action

The crackdown on a now-fired Princeton prof doesn’t smell right: Academic Freedom under Threat at Princeton

ARTICLES

Rich Lowry: The Big Lie about Georgia Voting Has Been Shredded

Kevin Williamson: It’s Time to Boot Turkey from NATO

Ryan Mills: Record Gas Prices Crush California Small Businesses

Caroline Downey: State Farm Abandons LGBTQ Children’s-Book Program after Whistleblower Email Leak

Nate Hochman: Princeton Rejected Professor Joshua Katz’s Offer to Resign, Lawyer Confirms

Jim Talent: Why Ukraine Matters

Isaac Schorr: Top FBI Officials Hid Sussmann’s Identity from Agents Working Trump-Russia Case, Agent Testifies

Isaac Schorr: FBI Leadership Was ‘Fired Up’ over Trump-Russia Evidence, Demanded Investigation Despite Rank-and-File Agents’ Doubts

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Supervillains Gather in Davos

Dan McLaughlin: 2020 Is Over

Madeleine Kearns: The Increasing Importance of Trans-Skeptical Comedy

CAPITAL MATTERS

Kevin Hassett addresses an increasingly common question: Is the Housing Bubble About to Burst?

David L. Bahnsen finds a common thread — reflecting an important lesson for the business world — in three streaming series: The Well-Deserved Death of ‘Stakeholder Capitalism’

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

A pop genius proves once more his intellectual and artistic independence. From Armond White: Van Morrison’s Songs of the Free

Is Gervais losing his edge? Kyle Smith investigates: Ricky Gervais vs. the Trans Mob

ICYMI last weekend, Brian Allen’s latest from Italy: An Unorthodox Take on the Venice Biennale’s Milk of Dreams Show

FROM THE NEW, JUNE 13, 2022, ISSUE OF NR

Ramesh Ponnuru: The Fed’s Half-Hearted War on Inflation

Rachel Lu: Can We Raise Birth Rates?

Jim Geraghty: Blue-Dog Democrat, Endangered Species

John Bolton: America’s Exceptional Conservatism

THIS FLOOD OF FREE COPY INTO THE ECONOMY CAN’T BE HELPING THE INFLATION SITUATION, EITHER

More from NR’s editorial on Uvalde:

Certainly, it is more complicated than pointing to a particular sort of gun and shouting “ban!” As has now become customary in such attacks, the shooter in Uvalde used an AR-15, which he bought legally on his 18th birthday. It is true that, over the last decade, this particular model of rifle has become the weapon of choice for many deranged mass shooters, even as it has remained statistically insignificant within the broader landscape of crime. (Each year, more Americans are killed by hands and feet than by all rifles put together.) It is not true, by contrast, that to remove it from the shelves of America’s gun stores would do anything useful at all. The worst mass shooting on a college campus in all of U.S. history — the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech — was carried out with a couple of handguns. The attack at Columbine High School in 1999 occurred while the Biden-written “assault weapons ban” was in place. Even today, handguns are more commonly used in massacres than are rifles. . . .

But there are a few avenues that seem promising as first steps toward addressing the mess.

We would encourage the careful consideration of “red flag” laws by states (but not at the federal level). Conversations held after mass shootings typically tend to focus on background checks, but, given that mass shooters almost always pass those checks, this represents a chronic misallocation of effort. Far too often, mass murderers convey obvious warning signs to those around them, even though they have neither the established criminal records nor diagnosed mental-health problems that would show up when trying to buy a gun from a stranger. We are sympathetic to fears that “red flag” provisions could be abused, but we would note that states such as Florida have shown that it is possible to balance effective interventions with the rigorous due-process protections to which all Americans are entitled.

Second, we would recommend that states bring their age-of-majority rules into harmony. There is no obvious reason why non-enlisted Americans should be able to buy a handgun at age 21 but to buy long guns at age 18, and if there is solid evidence that raising the age of the latter will help prevent mass murders, states should seriously consider doing so (as Florida did in 2018), or at least imposing more requirements — such as waiting periods and affirmative parental consent — in order for those under age 21 to purchase and carry firearms. Several perpetrators of recent massacres were 18-year-old males who purchased rifles at a store. Conservatives correctly complain that none of the proposals that gun-control activists tend to offer seem tailored to the problem they are hoping to address. This one would be, and it would pass constitutional muster.

Finally, we ought to make it tougher for madmen to gain access to our schools.

Dan McLaughlin looks for lessons in the primary elections of recent weeks:

For media obsessives, the big questions in the 2022 Republican primaries are all about Donald Trump, his claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and the January 6 riot. If you look at the results, however, it turns out that Republican voters have a lot else on their minds, and aren’t particularly stuck in 2020.

At first glance, it would seem difficult to tease out a trend. If you want to make the case that this is still Donald Trump’s party, marching to the beat of Trump’s endorsements, and full of Stop the Steal obsessives and a menagerie of rough-edged candidates, you’ll have plenty of evidence to point to. In Ohio, Trump-backed J. D. Vance won a five-way race for the party’s Senate nomination over four other candidates, three of whom had vied for the MAGA label. In North Carolina, Trump-backed Ted Budd beat former governor Pat McCrory. In Georgia, Trump-backed Herschel Walker stampeded his primary opponents like they were so many broken tackles. Dr. Oz is still clinging to a tenuous lead in Pennsylvania in a race where an even-more-MAGA (but not Trump-endorsed) candidate finished third. Formerly Trump-endorsed Mo Brooks made the runoff in Alabama. In Arkansas, John Boozman, with Trump’s backing, fended off a primary challenge from the right. . . .

If you want to make the case that Trump fever is broken, there is also plenty to work with. In Georgia, Trump invested heavily in defeating Governor Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr, and Insurance Commissioner John King. Yet despite recruiting heavyweight challengers to Kemp (former senator David Perdue) and Raffensperger (Representative Jody Hice), Trump failed to unseat any of the four incumbents, who all trounced the field en route to victory. In North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn was defeated. In Pennsylvania, Oz may yet lose. In Alabama, incumbent governor Kay Ivey beat back primary challenges encouraged by Trump, although he did not formally endorse a candidate, and Brooks was left for dead until Trump publicly un-endorsed him, after which he surged again in the polls to ultimately finish in second, 15 points behind Katie Britt, whom he’ll face in a runoff. A Trump-backed primary challenge to Idaho governor Brad Little failed, as did Trump’s candidate (Charles Herbster) in the open race for Nebraska governor. Trump stayed out of Dan Crenshaw’s House primary in Texas, which Crenshaw won easily.

What does it all mean? The most obvious conclusion to draw is that Republican primary voters are no longer so caught up in the Trump Show that other factors don’t matter in competitive races.

On a related note, Rich Lowry has penned the definitive fact check on all those claims that Georgia’s voting rules amounted to voter suppression:

The surge in the early vote in Georgia shows that all the smears about the state’s new voting law, repeated by everyone from the president of the United States on down, were complete nonsense — a fevered fantasy that the credulous and fanatical believed because they didn’t know better, and the cynical and opportunistic believed because it served their purposes.

On the Republican side, according to the secretary of state’s office, there were 453,929 early votes and 29,220 absentee votes so far this primary season (the absentee votes will keep coming in through Election Day on Tuesday). This is compared with just 153,264 early votes and 14,795 absentee voters during the last, pre-pandemic midterm, in 2018.

The Democrats have seen a similar surge. In 2022, there were 337,245 early votes and 31,704 absentee votes so far, compared with only 134,542 early votes and 13,051 absentee votes in 2018.

As Jim Geraghty has pointed out, the early vote among minorities in particular is up markedly.

It never made sense that the Georgia law was going to stop anyone from voting. The provisions that the Left complained about were clearly innocuous.

The rule against third parties providing food and drink to voters standing in lines at the polls was merely meant to stop electioneering at polling places (and the law attempts to address long lines, typically a problem of large, Democratic-run jurisdictions). The law limited drop boxes, but they hadn’t existed prior to 2020. It moved from signature match on mail-in ballots to the more reliable driver’s license or state-ID number — not a sea change. And it expanded hours available for early voting.

Now that a tsunami of early voting has shown that, indeed, there’s no voter suppression in Georgia, the disinformation scolds are nowhere to be seen; the fact-checkers aren’t swinging into action; the major newspapers aren’t preparing tick-tocks on how the president was led down the path of promoting misinformation about the legitimacy of our electoral system; the Sunday shows didn’t do long segments devoted to the theme of how democracy in Georgia, once claimed to be hanging by a thread, has remarkably revived — praise God, and hallelujah.

Michael Brendan Dougherty’s piece on Davos this week is peak MBD:

The World Economic Forum is a perennial subject for conspiracy theorists and QAnon people, having long since eclipsed the Trilateral Commission, the Bildeberg Group, and Bohemian Grove. The 2020 confab at Davos was billed as “The Great Reset” and promoted the ideas of German industrialist Klaus Schwab for rebuilding society and the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s from the creepy WEF promotional videos making “8 Predictions For the World in 2030” that the menacing phrase, You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy, emerged.

The other predictions were that there would be new climate taxes, and you will get 3D printed organs rather than organ donations, migrants will be welcomed, and you probably won’t be eating much meat. The word “reset” started making its way into speeches by Joe Biden, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern. You’ve seen resistance to the way of life depicted by the Great Reset whenever some young conservative says, “I will not live in a pod. I will not eat the bugs.”

Davos is an invaluable networking opportunity for its participants. It allows CEOs a nice chance to lobby the U.S. government for help and warn the Irish prime minister about raising taxes all over the same lunch. But Schwab’s obsessions with global political cooperation, environmentalism, and “the fourth industrial revolution” — his idea that the next great leap in capitalist productivity will come from integrating technology with the human person itself — guarantees that the presentations will be a mix of utopian globalism that somehow combine visions of global austerity (to reduce carbon) with nightmares about a handful of corporate and political leaders having direct access to your amygdala. . . .

One would think that a technology-powered future with 3D printing would finally increase the productivity of great artisans and craftsmen, which has remained stagnant for centuries and become so prohibitive that these arts and trades are being lost to the prefab altogether. Such a breakthrough would allow the physical environment to be rebuilt in the most glorious Georgian, Tudor, or Spanish Colonial styles, but available to the masses. Farms and pastures could practically run themselves, making food better, making it cheaply, and delivering it fresh. The greatest educators would run classes for all those who wanted to take them. And new technological breakthroughs would clean up the atmosphere.

But that’s not what they imagine at all. For the Davoisie, the future is your guts wirelessly reporting you truant and then a text message buzzing on every device in the house, warning your pets to exit the room while it is flooded with gas to sedate you into compliance with Pfizer. Afterwards a Chinese multinational informs you that the gas-flooding and Pfizer SWAT-team incident have brought about serious penalties to your carbon score, thereby deferring your long-awaited meat ration by several more years. As a help in the future, Microsoft’s cognitive copilot will be taking over even more duties and tasks previously assigned to you.

Shout-Outs

David French, at the Dispatch: Pass and Enforce Red Flag Laws. Now.

Robert VerBruggen, at City Journal: How to Respond to Uvalde?

Joshua Katz, at the Wall Street Journal: Princeton Fed Me to the Cancel Culture Mob

John Sudworth, at the BBC: The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps

Honorable Mention(s)

Isaac Schorr, a.k.a. NR’s official Michael Sussmann trial correspondent, will be handling Joltian duties next weekend in my absence. How does he do it? Nobody is quite sure.

And another thing: a reminder on something oh-so-casually mentioned in last weekend’s note, that National Review cruises are back. You can find details on how to join National Review Institute on the next one here: http://nricruise.com/

CODA

I put out the call last weekend for some uplifting — even jubilant — music and received a flood of responses.

Brooks Eason (who is an author) writes in with “12th of June” by Lyle Lovett, the title track off his new album. I will quote from his note, which elegantly sets the scene:

Lyle Lovett, a kind gentleman and wonderful singer/songwriter, had an experience five summers ago that is unusual for a man approaching his twilight years. At the age of 59, for the first time, he became a father. His wife April gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, on June 12, 2017. Lyle’s song, 12th of June, is the title track of his new album. Watch and listen to the video and be lifted up.

But wait, there’s more: David Edwards sends in some Clash. Kevin Antonio, some Sinatra. Dave Morefield, some Wynton Marsalis. And Cathearine Jenkins-Hall, some Schubert, specifically his “Trout” Quintet.

Oh, and this from Alex Hollis in Carlisle, Pa., of a thousand musicians playing “Learn to Fly” to entice the Foo Fighters to visit their town in Italy, is remarkable.

Thanks for the lift, all.

Economy & Business

Corporate America Finds Its Spine

Loading...
Left: Pro-abortion demonstrators march to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home in Alexandria, Va., May 9, 2022. Right: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia’s attack on Ukraine in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., February 24, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters, Martin Barraud/Getty Images, Leah Millis/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

There’s something amusing about watching cowed corporations finally summon the nerve to swim against ideological tides that never should have overpowered them. Like the bully standing up to his tormentor, the spelling-bee champion.

Charles C. W. Cooke weighed in recently on Netflix’s having discovered “the magical healing power of ‘No,’” with updated guidelines telling staff, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

Which is . . . a completely normal piece of advice for a person working at a company. In this climate, however, articulating it takes a certain degree of mettle. Netflix, it appears, is not the only corporate voice rediscovering this quality, and in arenas beyond the culture wars. The Biden administration’s inflation gaslighting, too, is eliciting boardroom rebukes. 

Jeff Bezos, granted, is a difficult man to root for, what with his army of robot dogs — but in calling out President Biden’s nonsensical claim that corporate taxes are the way out of inflation, he is taking a necessary swipe at the “greedflation” theorists distorting this policy debate. Hooray for Bezos? Feels kinda dirty, but — yeah.

His Twitter reply to the president reads: “The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead. Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection.”

Woof. For Bezos, this level of sass was downright Muskian. As the White House hit back, he reminded his 4 million-plus followers that the administration had attempted to spend another $3.5 trillion which would have further exacerbated inflation.

NR’s editorial elaborates on what is agitating Bezos types so much:

As Bezos was quick to acknowledge, there is a case to be made for raising corporate taxes (we are not persuaded by that case, but there is a good-faith argument there), and certainly there is a crying need for an anti-inflation policy — but to pretend that these are the same thing is economic illiteracy. . . .

The administration’s suggestion that Bezos’s criticism is only a cover for his disinclination to pay taxes is cheap demagoguery and deserves to be regarded with contempt. It is only the latest in a long line of contemptible inflation dodges: First it was “transitory,” until it wasn’t, and then it was the “Putin price hike,” even though the inflation started long before the war in Ukraine, and now it is Republicans or Jeff Bezos or — give it a couple of days — systemic racism. Anything other than the obvious: flooding the economy with money during a worldwide supply-chain disruption and keeping Covid-era emergency economic policies in place long after the economic emergency has passed.

The related effort by congressional Democrats to point the finger at “price gouging” ignores that the purported gougers also are hurt by inflation, as the editorial notes. Andrew Stuttaford flags that Walmart just missed its quarterly earnings expectations, bigly, followed by Target. Veronique de Rugy highlights here the growing bipartisan dissent to this faulty narrative, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO recently pushed back at Senator Elizabeth Warren & Co.’s corporation-blaming by telling CNN, “They’re just plain wrong.” Meanwhile, a Morgan Stanley analysis bluntly blames “excessive” government stimulus for the inflation surge, echoing Bezos’s concerns.

Speaking of Muskian — the other billionaire brazenly amassing a robot-dog mercenary force (pray that PAW Patrol is only dystopian fiction, folks) has sided with Bezos on inflation, too, while assailing the mentality of endless spending and speaking quite freely about his views toward the Biden administration. “The real president is whoever controls the teleprompter,” he quipped on a podcast interview Monday. (He also says he plans to vote Republican.)

None of this is to herald the demise of “woke capitalism” or the rekindling of the GOP–Big Business relationship. As Michael Watson writes, it’s been difficult to follow the allegiances of American business in recent years. Those shifts were not arbitrary, however: Dan McLaughlin offers a sensible theory here on the strategy that has enabled progressivism to prosper in influential institutions.

Which brings us back to Netflix, and the significance of that company’s message to staff. Play us out, Charles:

Small though it may be, Netflix’s move portends a broader shift in corporate America and beyond — a shift that, once completed, is likely to alter our politics for the better. For nearly a decade now, American progressivism has been engaged in an all-hands-on-deck attempt to brute-force its way to the political change that its most vocal adherents desire. . . . Given the right levers of power, progressives can force Americans to do all sorts of things. Netflix cannot — which means that if Dave Chappelle is popular and Meghan Markle is not, and if shareholders start sending warning signals about the company’s creative direction, the company must adapt. Eventually, even America’s stubborn progressives will be forced to adapt, too.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

NR published a number of posts this week explaining how the Buffalo shooting doesn’t fit into neat political narratives. That aside, a consistent condemnation of violence would be preferred to the current practice of highlighting only those acts that superficially implicate one’s ideological opponents: The Buffalo Massacre

Congress made the right move on Ukraine: Senate Was Right to Pass Ukraine-Aid Bill

Choose wisely, Georgia voters: Yes on Kemp, No on Greene

More on the Bezos–Biden tiff: Jeff Bezos Is Right about Joe Biden and Inflation

ARTICLES

Dan McLaughlin: How to Capitalize Politically on Mass Murder

Charles C. W. Cooke: Democrats Can’t Fix What’s Wrong with Joe Biden

Kyle Smith: Biden Calls for More Cowbell

Isaac Schorr: Durham Team Accuses Sussmann of Lying to FBI as Part of ‘October Surprise’ Plot to Bring Down Trump

Isaac Schorr: Hillary Clinton ‘Agreed’ to Leak Trump-Alfa Bank Allegation to Media, Ex-Campaign Manager Testifies

Andrew McCarthy: Durham’s Biggest Challenge: The Jury

Jim Geraghty: The Georgia Law Biden Compared to Jim Crow Leads to Record Early Voter Turnout

Naomi Schaefer Riley: How We Can Actually Help Native Americans

Jack Butler: UFOs Return to Congress

Jimmy Quinn: Federal Retirement Fund Poised to Allow Investment in Xinjiang Genocide-Linked Firms, Lawmakers Warn

Brittany Bernstein: Parent Says Walter Reed Pediatrician Questioned Teen about Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation

Sean Nelson: A Christian Stoned to Death for ‘Blasphemy’ in Nigeria — When Will It End?

Nate Hochman: R.I.P., Disinformation Governance Board, 2022–2022

CAPITAL MATTERS

Benjamin Zycher looks at what the Biden Interior Department’s lease cancellations are really about: Canceling Federal Oil and Gas Leases Isn’t about Climate Change

As a long-suffering Metro rider, I found this from Dominic Pino to be cathartic: Why More Americans Don’t Ride Public Transit

Marc Joffe poses a hopeful question: Have We Reached Peak China?

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Kyle Smith has some helpful, additional advice for Netflix: The Other Netflix Problem

Armond White praises a gospel doc: How They Got Over — A Miraculous Documentary

Brian Allen pops by an exhibition of ceramicist Simone Leigh’s work in Venice, but some semblance of coherence is lacking: The Dud American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

EXCERPTS: LIKE A TIME-SHARE, FOR ARTICLES

ICYMI, Isaac Schorr and Andrew McCarthy have tag-teamed for some top-notch trial