The Weekend Jolt

Politics & Policy

How We Know Democrats’ Post-election Double-Down Is Crazy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) delivers remarks with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., November 5, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

It’s the inflation, stupid — this probably is the message that 2022 campaigns should be pinning up at HQ right about now.

Instead, we’re seeing Democrats go all in on more spending, which could make things worse. Their justification, in part, is that the party’s dismal electoral performance this month can be attributed to voter frustration over a lack of progress toward far-reaching ideological goals. That logic might hold — if the numbers showed a depressed turnout for Democrats.

Thing is, they don’t. Terry McAuliffe earned about 1.6 million votes in Virginia, which is up from 1.4 million for outgoing Democratic governor Ralph Northam in 2017.

As Dan McLaughlin wrote after the drubbing:

In Virginia, by any measure, turnout was very high. Over 600,000 more people voted in the Virginia governor’s race in 2021 than in 2017. Terry McAuliffe got 170,000 more votes in defeat than Ralph Northam got in victory four years earlier.  . . . McAuliffe did not lose this race for lack of turnout of Democratic voters.

The aforementioned explanation also doesn’t square with polling suggesting that if congressional races were held today, people “would vote for their GOP congressional candidate over the Democratic one by 46 percent to 38 percent,” as Brittany Bernstein of the news team reports. Turnout, for one, is a nonfactor here. And why, if voters are ticked off about a delay over the reconciliation bill, would they tell pollsters they prefer Republicans who oppose it?

Somebody call that Ockham guy. He’ll explain.

The anxiety, then, among swing-district Democrats is palpable as we head into 2022, with the party seemingly determined to take a “more cowbell” approach on Capitol Hill, having internalized the wrong lesson from November 2 — in a way that could cause more self-inflicted destruction.

This widely noticed quote to the New York Times from moderate Democrat Abigail Spanberger summed up the frustration in the ranks: “Nobody elected [Biden] to be F.D.R., they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.” Yet Congress proceeded anyway with a massive infrastructure bill (which Spanberger supported) and an even bigger social-spending package. Virginia Democratic senator Mark Warner went on to aver that McAuliffe could have won if only Congress had passed the infrastructure bill sooner. And, cue the headline: “Actually, Joe Biden Was Elected to Be FDR.”

You can practically hear the hair being pulled out of the head as another moderate Democrat, Kathleen Rice, vents to the Times that she doesn’t understand how her progressive colleagues can argue that the election proves they need to “shove even more progressive stuff in.”

So here we are. Notwithstanding this past week’s decisions by top GOP prospects Kelly Ayotte and Chris Sununu not to run for a key New Hampshire Senate seat, Republicans could be in for quite a midterm cycle if Democrats keep on in this direction. Their core congressional agenda is to keep pumping money into the economy, even as alarming inflation news keeps pumping out from the telly.

As Philip Klein notes in a nutshell, “Democrats are racing to pass trillions of dollars of more spending that will only make the problem worse.” Charles C. W. Cooke reckons the party “will pay a keen and colossal price,” citing in particular Biden’s inflation prescription of two New Deals’ worth of additional spending.

In short, Democrats are proving adept at denying reality — the political reality of what drove this month’s voter backlash, and the economic reality that might give cause for pause on their agenda.

Here’s some brake-pumping advice from NR’s editorial:

Now is not the time to take inflationary risks. Now is not the time to experiment with green-energy policies, which will drive up prices. Now is not the time to do a federal takeover of childcare, which will drive up prices. . . .

If prices keep rising and Democrats keep whiffing, the governor’s race in Virginia might look like a mild reproach compared with the wrath of the voters in elections to come.

But wait! That’s not all.

Before we seamlessly transition into the links portion of the program, please take note: NR is out with a special issue on Roe, which you can thumb through here and get a glimpse of below.

Carry on.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

That inflation editorial, again, is here: Biden’s Inflation Problem

ARTICLES

David Harsanyi: Democrats Have Only Themselves to Blame for the Inflation Fiasco

Andrew C. McCarthy: Where John Durham’s Investigation Is Heading

Andrew C. McCarthy: Trump Blasts Infrastructure Blowout? That’s a Good One . . .

Caroline Downey: Memo Confirms National School Board Group ‘Actively Engaged’ with White House While Drafting ‘Domestic Terrorists’ Letter

Charles C. W. Cooke: Biden Torches the Norms He Promised to Restore

Brittany Bernstein: A Theater Professor Suggested Students Should Have Thicker Skins, So They Demanded He Be Fired

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Will We Finally See the Faces of Children?

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Saving Us from the Gospel of the Woke

Mark Morgan: Cash to Illegal Immigrants Is the New Low in Biden’s Open-Borders Push

Kevin Williamson: The Archbishop Has Spoken

Rich Lowry: An Abysmal Child-Care Proposal

Ryan Mills: White Students Not Allowed at Pennsylvania School District’s Drone Camp

Philip Klein: What Democrats Have in Common with Robert Moses

Jimmy Quinn: State Department Suddenly Uneasy Using the Term ‘Malign Influence’ to Call Out China

And if you didn’t get a chance to read this lovely post on life and Labs from Mark Antonio Wright, here’s another shot at it: R.I.P. Boomer

CAPITAL MATTERS

Kevin Hassett takes a closer look at the true cost of government spending sprees: The Real Cost of Building Back Better

Alexander William Salter suggests that the rebirth of socialism in America has been greatly exaggerated, thankfully: That’s Not Real Socialism!

David L. Bahnsen is out with a new book, There’s No Free Lunch: 250 Economic Truths; you can find a piece of it here: Sound Economics Enables Human Flourishing

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White takes a whack at the new Princess Diana movie: Spencer — A Poor-Little-Rich-Girl Fairy Tale

Brian Allen absorbs a too-sprawling show at the Whitney but plucks out some highlights for your enjoyment: Jasper Johns Show: A Good Idea That Fizzles

Kyle Smith is quite taken by Belfast: The Year’s Best Film to Date

FROM THE NEW NOVEMBER 29, 2021, ISSUE OF NR

Matthew J. Franck & Robert George: Roe Undermines the Supreme Court’s Legitimacy

Charles C. W. Cooke: The Secular Case against Abortion

Hugh Hewitt: John Roberts v. Roe

Ramesh Ponnuru: The Corruption of History

Erika Bachiochi: Women Do Not ‘Rely’ on Abortion

THESE EXCERPTS ARE FULLY PAID FOR; THEIR TRUE COST IS ZERO DOLLARS

In NR’s special Roe issue, Hugh Hewitt contributes a bold prediction — and a message for Chief Justice Roberts. (The last line makes sense in context, promise):

When the Supreme Court turns to the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this fall, I believe that six justices will vote to overrule the combined doctrines of 1973’s Roe v. Wade — the original and sweeping intervention by the Supreme Court in the organic development of state statutory systems regulating abortion — and its 1992 “do-over” in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The entire cobbled-together façade of jerry-rigged, ad hoc, and incoherent abortion case law will be swept away, and the half century of strained readings and outright judicial inventions overruled. The repeated attempt by the Supreme Court to legislate at one remove from representative state and federal elected legislatures will, blessedly, end. Abortion will be legal in many states — even late-term, “partial birth” abortions — and, in other states, almost never allowed after a heartbeat is detected in the unborn baby. The Court will walk away from the now obviously failed effort to forge a national consensus by diktat where none can be had. The issue will return to the political realm to be decided, and after an initial burst of emotional reactions, the Court and the rule of law will be better for it. And the near-uniform chorus of elite media claiming a republic-ending departure from the doctrine of stare decisis will be largely ignored, the media discredited as they are on this issue by their relentless, decades-long effort to disappear half the country’s deeply felt beliefs on the subject. . . .

Time to jettison Roe and Casey. Chief Justice Roberts wrote most of the necessary portion of the opinion in 2010.

Andrew McCarthy reads the prosecutorial tea leaves — he’s quite good at that kind of thing — pertaining to John Durham’s Russiagate probe, in the wake of the latest indictment:

If special counsel John Durham has cracked the core of the Russiagate case, if he has established that the Steele dossier on which the FBI substantially based its spy warrants was fraudulent, does that mean he is nearing a sweeping conspiracy indictment? Will there be criminal charges that target the real 2016 collusion — not between the Trump campaign and Russia, but between the Clinton campaign and U.S. officials who abused government investigative powers for political purposes?

Almost certainly not.

All signs are that Durham will end his investigation with a narrative report. It has looked that way for a long time. There are reasons why then-attorney general Bill Barr appointed then-Connecticut U.S. attorney Durham as a special counsel shortly before the Trump administration ended.

Unlike ordinary federal prosecutors, who either file charges or close investigations without comment, special counsels are required by regulation to write a report for the attorney general. As we saw with special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in 2019, there is typically great outside pressure on the AG to make such reports public (though doing so is not required). Barr obviously knew enough about Durham’s investigation to grasp that there was unlikely to be a grand, overarching criminal-conspiracy case; there had, however, been rampant malfeasance and abuse of power that might never come to light absent a comprehensive investigative report.

Durham’s indictment of Danchenko and his mid-September indictment of Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann appear to confirm that he is building toward a final report, not wide-ranging criminal charges.

I am not saying there will be no more indictments. There could be. But if there are, they will likely be similar to the indictments of Sussmann and Danchenko — who, you no doubt noticed, were separately charged, and are not alleged to have conspired with each other or anyone else.

Caroline Downey has another important installment in her coverage of what prompted the infamous DOJ memo aimed at protesting parents:

Internal documents released Thursday confirm that the National School Boards Association coordinated with the White House before formally sending a letter to the Biden administration requesting federal intervention to probe and potentially prosecute parents for threatening school administrators.

In an October 12 memo, obtained by the nonprofit Parents Defending Education, NSBA president Viola Garcia stated that the organization had been “actively engaged” with federal departments including the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, before sending their letter to the president.

Chip Slaven, NSBA’s interim executive director, wrote in a September 29 email that the letter, which characterized parents as potential “domestic terrorists,” was revised to include details of “specific threats” at White House staff’s urging. As a result, the NSBA letter cited 24 local news outlet items detailing “threats” parents leveled against school board members, the vast majority of which did not constitute criminal threats.

In response to the letter, which the NSBA has since apologized for, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a Department of Justice order mobilizing the FBI to coordinate with federal law enforcement to target parents deemed to be engaging in “threatening” behavior against school board members.

ICYMI, this Brittany Bernstein piece from last weekend is well worth the read:

Coastal Carolina University (CCU) recently bowed to a woke mob of theater students who demanded professor Steven Earnest be ousted from his role after 16 years at the university — because he suggested that a misunderstanding on campus was not a big deal.

The controversy began with a September 16 incident in which students discovered a list of names on a classroom whiteboard. The students, realizing that the names all belonged to students of color, quickly assumed that racial foul play was behind the list, and they organized a protest.

However, a prompt investigation by the university revealed that the list had come out of a discussion between a visiting artist and two students of color who said they were hoping to connect with other non-white students on campus. The trio wrote down the names of other students of color who might wish to form a group to discuss their shared experiences.

The committee explained the misunderstanding in an email to campus but wanted to make clear that the investigation — which revealed the whole to-do had been over nothing — “in no way undermines the feelings that any of you feel about this incident.”

“It should have never happened and the DEI committee will be discussing with faculty and students the gravity of the situation and how to handle these requests in the future,” the email said.

Earnest dared to question that pandering attitude, writing back: “Sorry but I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Shout-Outs

Arvin Bahl, at City Journal: Coalition of the Sane

Frederick Hess, at The Dispatch: Defend Gifted Education. And Then Do Much More.

Tom Rogan, at the Washington Examiner: Why Kirsten Gillibrand’s UFO amendment deserves bipartisan support

Hailey Fuchs, at Politico: The political war around daylight saving time takes a nasty turn

Honorable Mention

Do you live in or can you travel to Miami, New York, or Philadelphia? National Review Institute is opening a new round of Burke to Buckley Programs for this spring in those cities. In the words of LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the 411 from NRI:

NRI is seeking applicants for the Burke to Buckley Programs in Miami (NEW in ’22!), New York, and Philadelphia.

The primary goal is to prepare Fellows to better communicate first principles and other foundational ideas in their workplace, community, and family. Over eight dinner sessions that are led by notable conservative thinkers and National Review writers, each class of 20 to 25 Fellows gathers to learn and engage in spirited and respectful debate. The ideal candidate will be a mid-career professional with at least ten years of professional experience in medicine, finance, the military, arts, education, law enforcement, or the law, among other fields. He/she will have an interest in exploring key texts in the canon of conservative thought and American ideals. This program is not for recent graduates or people working in the fields of public policy or politics.

Are you qualified or do you know someone else who is? Applications are open now through November 15 and can be accessed on NRI’s website here. Please note that there is a $500 fee for accepted fellows, which partially offsets the cost of the eight dinners and the program. Please contact program manager Lynn Gibson at lynn@nrinstitute.org if you have questions or would like additional information.

CODA

Beto O’Rourke is back in the news amid speculation over a possible run against Texas governor Greg Abbott. His perennial re-emergence always brings to mind — for me, anyway — his association with the Mars Volta singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, with whom Beto played in a band in the ’90s. Beto’s Biden endorsement was too much for the Bernie-backing Cedric to bear, so we won’t expect a reunion of those old mates, but having the Mars Volta’s catalogue is enough.

For some time, this font fiddler cultivated an unhealthy obsession with the group before losing track of their career. But every listen is a reminder of how talented they are. Here’s a Spanish-language, mostly acoustic number off their Amputechture album: “Asilos Magdalena.” As with many of their tracks, it offers several minutes of gorgeous songwriting that is bracketed by . . . other sounds, in this case the intrusion of psychedelic atmospherics, distorted horror vocals, and some electric-guitar chatter. You get used to it. Maybe. For something slightly more conventional, but still unique, the De-Loused in the Comatorium album is a fine introduction to this band.

Meanwhile, this Coda blurb would be remiss if it didn’t mention NR’s tribute, by Jack Butler, to Led Zeppelin IV, marking 50 years on our turntables. Are radio stations still doing “get the Led out”? Those segments were required listening for teenage me. Good times, those (bad times as well, of course).

Got a tune? Want to share? Send a link to jberger@nationalreview.com. Thanks for reading.

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