The Weekend Jolt

Health Care

One Way to Slay Vaccine Hesitancy

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in New York, May 12, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The waft of petrol this weekend carries with it a reminder of another big incentive for vaccination: freedom to travel.

Or at least, it will be an incentive provided local and international governments cooperate by easing restrictions.

Domestically, the COVID curtain is steadily lifting. See the sea of green (more of a chartreuse, really), representing no restrictions, in this AAA map on state-by-state travel rules. The organization estimates the number of Americans traveling for the Memorial Day weekend will rise 60 percent over last year, still below 2019’s level, but a clear sign of pent-up demand for new surroundings.

Foreign governments can follow. The International Air Transport Association — and granted, they’ve got skin in the game — is pressuring countries to open their borders to vaccinated travelers, no restrictions attached. Pointedly, the trade association cites such action as a “powerful motivator for vaccination.”

The inverse also could be true. This is a discussion that played out over mask mandates and other rules — the concern that leaving restrictions in place for all would suggest to the unvaxxed that getting vaxxed offers little additional benefit (beyond the core benefit). Then the CDC rolled back mask guidance for the vaccinated.

Are travel restrictions next? Europe appears to be moving to allow unfettered entry to vaccinated Americans. Not so much, Canada.

As John Fund noted earlier this week, not only does our shared land border remain largely closed, but Canada continues to restrict nonessential air travel by Americans, and their travel protocol for those allowed in is far stricter than America’s — “despite the U.S.’s comparable record on vaccinations and its better record on COVID-19 cases.”

John poses this question for the U.S. president:

When is President Biden going to jawbone his fellow liberal Justin Trudeau to open the border?

Greece, France, and Spain will all be open by early June. Last week, even the intensely bureaucratic European Union agreed to accept vaccinated visitors this summer. But there’s no sign that the U.S. is seriously pressuring Canada to reopen.

As Jim Geraghty observes, Americans are still getting vaccinated by the millions. States and countries with a crippled tourism sector should see these millions as cash-dripping, sentient pairs of swim trunks aching to convert currency into mojitos, inauthentic wood carvings, and 90 minutes of cramped parking. And provided they do, those who had been shunning the shot might see a future in which they leave the house for something other than perishables as yet another incentive to make an appointment.

On a related topic — and one that must at least be mentioned before trudging onward — it’s been one hell of a week for the COVID-origin debate. As noted in last weekend’s newsletter, the lab-leak theory has gone “mainstream,” yet not only in the media — now, the top levels of the Biden administration have come around. This item from Isaac Schorr, however, is a reminder of how, no matter how many stories you might see acknowledging the months-long media failure to take this seriously, some folks just never learn.

Oh, and there’s a brand, new issue of the magazine out, and you won’t want to miss the cover story on Fauci. Peter Navarro, for one, holds nothing back.

Catch up on the rest of the week right here.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

What John Cena’s cringey apology to China says about a great American institution’s (corroded) moral core: Hollywood’s Values Prove Flexible in China

Though he continues to waffle on the matter, Dr. Fauci’s keeping an open mind on the origins of the COVID pandemic is a welcome development: Welcome to the Party, Dr. Fauci

The Left has an anti-Semitism problem, but we’re not hearing much from Pelosi-Schumer-Durbin about it: Time for Democrats to Address Their Anti-Semitism Problem

ARTICLES

Jim Geraghty: The Considerable, If Circumstantial, Evidence of a Wuhan Lab Leak

Charles C. W. Cooke: The Lab-Theory Cover-Up: When Truth Serves Prejudice

Jimmy Quinn: Pompeo Slams Biden’s Shut-Down of Lab-Leak Probe: ‘They Haven’t Lifted a Finger’

Michael Brendan Dougherty: What if the Pandemic Was Man-Made?

Brittany Bernstein: Biden Orders Intel Officials to Report on COVID Origin Within 90 Days

Robert VerBruggen: George Floyd’s Killing: A Catalyst for Change, and for Crime

Alexandra DeSanctis: State Legislatures Work to Protect Infants Who Survive Abortion

Rich Lowry: Yes, Democrats Should Fear the Crime Wave

Dan McLaughlin: We Need Sworn Public Testimony on COVID’s Origins

John McCormack: What Did Congress Expect When It Made Unemployment Worth $15.45 an Hour?

Dov Hikind: The Left’s Watered-Down Condemnation of Attacks on Jews

Madeleine Kearns: USA Today Finds the Word ‘Male’ to Be ‘Hurtful’

Kevin Williamson: Biden’s DOJ Should Release the Trump-Case Memo

Stephen Richer: The Madness of the Maricopa County Election Audit

Ryan Mills: ‘The Battle of Tinhorn Flats’: One California Bar Resisted Newsom’s Lockdown Orders at All Costs

Phil Klein: Woke Capitalism and Its Threat to Fusionism

Jim Towey: Reject the Smears against Mother Teresa

CAPITAL MATTERS

Jon Hartley is a firm “no” on this tax proposed in Congress: Financial-Transactions Tax: An Idea Whose Time Has Passed

Jakob Puckett argues there’s a better way to boost clean energy than the status quo: Give Clean Energy a Hand Up, Not a Handout

Paul Gessing shows some tough love to his home state of New Mexico: Stagnant New Mexico a Case Study in Why Economic Policies Matter

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Kyle Smith sees 101 problems with the “glitzy but witless” origin story few cared to see written: Cruella Redefines Hollywood Decadence

Armond White laments the rise and cultural power of “trauma porn”: George Floyd and Trauma Porn: A History

And in case you missed it, Brian Allen recaps one of his fav fairs, diving into the (for now, still virtual) world of prints: The Fine Art Print Fair Delivers Old and New Beauties

FROM THE NEW JUNE 14, 2021 ISSUE OF NR

Michael Brendan Dougherty: The Fall of Saint Anthony Fauci

Daniel Foster: The F U Power

Andrew Stuttaford: Meat and Its Enemies

Jay Nordlinger: Marvin Kalb at Home and Abroad

Kevin Williamson: Here Come the Electric Rednecks

ONCE YOU’VE CULTIVATED A SERIOUS SCROLLING HABIT, THE LINKS ARE NEVER ENOUGH. ALLOW THESE EXCERPTS TO SLAKE THE THIRST

In a guest column, Dov Hikind provides a thorough accounting of how and why certain Democrats feel the need to pair any condemnation of anti-Semitism with condemnation of Islamophobia and other types of prejudice:

What’s really going on here is obvious to any keen observer: These members of Congress equate the documented rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes with a rise in Islamophobia because the criminals behind the recent pogroms were almost all non-white pro-Palestinians. An unequivocal condemnation of the violence would force these members to wrestle with the existence of a particularly pernicious strain of anti-Semitism that cannot be attributed to white supremacy. . . .

A quick search of these same folks’ Twitter history drives this point home. Whenever there was an attack on Jews and the culprits were white supremacists, they condemned antisemitism while calling out white supremacy, too. Clearly, they understand the need to name the source of hatred — except when it isn’t white supremacists to blame, but “people of color.”

This conflation of antisemitism with Islamophobia is more malevolent than it appears. For not only do those attempting this rhetorical trick wish to avoid pointing fingers at anyone who can’t be called a white supremacist. Their goal is also to deny outright that there is a particularly hateful strain of anti-Jewish ideology in pro-Palestinian advocacy.

Did you catch Mike Pompeo’s interview with Jimmy Quinn? He comes down hard on his Biden admin successors for shuttering part of that lab-leak probe:

“They haven’t lifted a finger, as I understand it,” he told National Review in an interview on Wednesday, regarding the U.S. government’s efforts to investigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin. “They haven’t even raised it with Xi Jinping, and I don’t know that it was raised when National-Security Adviser Sullivan and Secretary Blinken were in Anchorage. I don’t know that they laid down their demands, nor do I know if they told them in the case that you don’t comply with these demands, here are the costs we’re going to impose on you.”

MBD also examines what might be the appropriate response if, in the end, the COVID lab-leak theory proves true:

If COVID-19 is a man-made disaster, searching for the people, the institutions, and the governments that authored this disaster is not scapegoating, it’s necessary fact-finding before doing justice.

What might justice look like in practice? It might include global bans on gain-of-function research. This one measure alone would constitute a kind of quiet revolution, an admission that not every kind of scientific research is in fact beneficial to humanity. The reputation of the entire scientific enterprise itself would suffer immensely from the fallout.

If it was a gain-of-function research project gone wrong, then the public-health officials who supported and authorized it will meet a dramatic fall from the stature they attained in the past year.

And if subsequent research and investigations can show that actions of the Chinese government — its stonewalling, and its manipulation of the World Health Organization at the outset of the pandemic — contributed to an overall worse global outcome, it might be time to bring up the word “reparations” in international affairs again.

That’s not all. Jim, who has been sounding the lab-leak alarm longer than almost anyone, takes this moment to meticulously explain the evidence here:

The lab-leak theory requires us to believe that SARS-CoV-2 is either a mutated version of the strain that attacked the miners in 2012, another virus found in the bats living in that copper mine, or a version of one of those viruses altered through gain-of-function research. It fits with the remarkable coincidence of an outbreak of a pandemic of a coronavirus found in bats beginning in a city with two facilities researching coronaviruses found in bats. It explains why no cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Yunnan Province until late January. It might even explain why cellphones went dark within the lab for several weeks, if that NBC News report is accurate.

This lab-leak theory would at least partially explain the Chinese and Wuhan government’s secrecy, the regime’s initial lies about the contagiousness of the virus, the sweeping efforts to cover up the truth about the virus, including threatening doctors with arrest, the persistent refusal to cooperate with the World Health Organization and its teams, the withholding of data about the initial patients, and the Chinese foreign ministry’s laughable accusations that COVID-19 is a U.S. bioweapon.

Which scenario makes more sense to you?

China’s role in COVID-19 remains under investigation. But its influence over Hollywood is in plain sight. From the editorial:

The movie business fancies itself a fierce opponent of racism, sexism, and excessive carbon emissions, even as it habitually prostrates itself before a regime that subjugates Muslims, perpetuates female infanticide on a breathtaking scale, and burns so much coal that its carbon emissions are more than double those of the U.S. Every Academy Awards ceremony bristles with disgust for the supposed pervasiveness of injustice in America, and at any given moment, Hollywood is threatening to boycott this or that state over some allegedly intolerable legislative act. Yet it’s hard to picture just what level of obsequiousness Hollywood might not consider in exchange for the right to continue to claim one out of every four dollars its movies generate in China. Last year, in the credits of the remake of Mulan, Disney thanked the “security agency” that persecutes Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

RVB offers a balanced look-back at the year since George Floyd’s killing:

The case has been, at once, a story in itself, a major contributor to a nationwide rise in the murder rate, and the impetus for policy responses across the country. . . .

The act triggered a wave of justified protests — that far too often spilled over into rioting, and pushed the country into another wave of violent crime as police backed off of enforcement.

The riots did immense damage, destroying property and killing people who never became household names. More broadly — from Minneapolis to New York to Los Angeles — police activity declined and serious violence rose. By May, 2020 was already not off to a good start in terms of homicides in big American cities, but killings shot up especially dramatically after Floyd’s death.

Homicides have remained high into the current year. In 32 cities with data, the first quarter of 2021 saw 24 percent more killings than the same period in 2020, and 49 percent more than the same period in 2019. Liberals are starting to get antsy that high crime could drive voters back to the right, endangering Democratic chances in general and soft-on-crime reform initiatives in particular.

We’ll close with this — Ryan’s account of a father-son duo who went to great lengths to keep their California saloon open in the face of Governor Newsom’s lockdown orders. The opening quote is an American inspiration:

On a Monday night in early December, Baret Lepejian called his son Lucas: He wanted to know what he thought about California governor Gavin Newsom’s newest order re-shuttering the state’s beleaguered bars and restaurants as coronavirus cases climbed across the country.

Lucas Lepejian, who has been managing the family’s saloon, Tinhorn Flats, while his dad is overseas for business, didn’t agree with it, but there wasn’t much he could do but wait it out.

“I go, ‘It’s Monday night for you, right?’ He’s like, ‘Yep.’ I’m like, ‘Thursday morning, you’re reopening,’” Baret Lepejian recalled in an interview with National Review. “He started laughing. He thought I was joking. He’s like, ‘You know there are 30,000 restaurants in L.A. closed?’ I’m like, ‘100 percent fully aware, and I said there’s going to be 29,999, and there’s going to be one motherf***er that’s going to be open, and that’s going to be us.”

Shout-Outs

Stephen L. Miller, at the Spectator: Don’t let the media get away with U-turning on the lab leak theory

Sarah Westwood, at the Washington Examiner: Small towns reap rewards of urban police exodus

Lela Gallery, at the College Fix: University rejects student vote to defund campus police of $2 million

Lee Edwards, at Law & Liberty: Confucius Institutes: China’s Trojan Horse

Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal: The Revolution Comes to Juilliard

CODA

But what about Bob? you might ask. Seeing as we marked Dylan’s 80th birthday this past week, yes, it would only seem appropriate to close with him. Dan McLaughlin and Kyle Smith both published tributes this past week to the master singer-songwriter. Please do read them.

Being forced to pick just one Dylan track is enough to induce a mild panic, but space is at a premium, so we’ll have to do so. From his Freewheelin’ days, “Girl from the North Country” possesses a certain haunting resonance that cuts through time. Don’t you agree?

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

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