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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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There’s A Better Way To Protect Democracy Than H.R. 1

When Sen. Joe Manchin announced he would oppose the For the People Act, Steve Benen of MSNBC spoke for many Democrats when he declared that "Joe Manchin is prepared to be remembered by history as the senator who did little more than hope as his country's democracy unraveled."

One can share Democrats' alarm about the state of our democracy without concluding that the For the People Act was the answer.

H.R. 1 is a mashup of sound ideas (requiring a paper record of each vote) with outdated and arguably unconstitutional measures (banning so-called dark money at a time when small-dollar donations are more important); and limiting speech, which the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, opposes.

Some are now saying the Democrats should turn to the John Lewis Act as a response to Republican efforts to curtail voting rights in the states. But the Lewis Act is off-point, too.

Look, Republican efforts to limit early and absentee voting are destructive because they ratify the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. These laws deserve the strongest condemnation, and Democrats would be justified in running ads reminding voters that Republicans were acting in bad faith.

But not all of the measures in these laws are objectionable. Requiring an ID strikes many people as simple common sense. An Economist/YouGov poll in April found that 64 percent of Americans agreed with the statement: "Photo ID should be required to vote in person." Among African Americans, 60 percent agreed. Democrats should not die on this hill.

Moreover, the far more pressing emergency is the Republican Party's loosening attachment to democratic procedures and to truth itself. As we saw in the aftermath of 2020, 147 Republican officeholders were willing to decertify the Electoral College count. A few brave local Republican officials resisted tremendous pressure to alter or misreport the results of elections. They demonstrated integrity. For their trouble, instead of being lauded and celebrated as heroes of democracy, they have been censured by GOP committees across the country as the legend of the Big Lie has seized the minds of rank-and-file Republicans.

The Republican Party is barreling toward disregarding the actual vote count in a presidential contest. The John Lewis Act does not address this.

There is something Democrats can do at the federal level to respond to the threat: They can amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Republicans would be unlikely to filibuster this law, so Democrats can pass it with a simple majority vote.

This law was passed following the contentious Hayes-Tilden election in 1876 — a contest that was so close it threatened to tear the country apart just 11 years after Appomattox. Here is a sample of its brilliant draftsmanship:

"If more than one return or paper purporting to be a return from a State shall have been received by the President of the Senate, those votes, and those only, shall be counted which shall have been regularly given by the electors who are shown by the determination mentioned in section 5 of this title to have been appointed, if the determination in said section provided for shall have been made."

It goes on and on like that. Laws should not be written to obscure but to clarify.

The law directs governors to certify their states' results and the slate of electors chosen by the voters. But it also specifies that in a case of a "failed election" (not defined) in which the voters have not made a choice, the state legislature can step in to appoint electors.

As the votes were being counted in 2020, Republican influencers like radio host Mark Levin were suggesting that state legislatures had a "constitutional duty" to reverse the will of the voters and name their own slate of Trump electors. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was asked by Sean Hannity about possibly invalidating votes, he said, "Everything should be on the table."

The Electoral Count Act decrees that if one representative and one senator object, in writing, to the counting of any state's electoral votes, the bodies must adjourn to their chambers to debate the matter.

As Ed Kilgore has recommended, Congress should amend the Electoral Count Act to clarify that only electoral votes certified by individual states will be counted and that the vice president's role is purely ceremonial. Further, the threshold for objections to state electoral vote counts should be much higher than two.

I would add that a supermajority should be required to decertify any state's electoral votes, not just a simple majority as the law now permits. Additionally, the law should be amended to eliminate the "failed election" section that empowers legislatures to substitute their preference for that of the voters. There are armies of law professors who can provide relevant language and good ideas for other changes.

Forget H.R. 1. Forget campaign finance. Don't perseverate on whether poll watchers can distribute water to voters waiting in line. It's not the vote casting but the vote counting that needs attention. Now.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

The Real Steal Is Coming — In 2024

War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength. — George Orwell, "1984"

Welcome to the funhouse world the Republican Party is building. Up is down. Black is white. Lies are truth.

The great cause that Republicans are uniting around is "election integrity." That's rich. The reality is that somebody did attempt to steal the 2020 election — Donald Trump. During the days and weeks following his loss, he brayed endlessly that the outcome was fraudulent, laying the groundwork for an attempt to overturn the voters' will.

From the White House, he made multiple calls to local election officials demanding that they find votes for him. He dialed up members of local canvassing boards, encouraging them to decertify results.

At a time when Trump's toadies were calling for legislatures to ignore the popular vote and submit alternate slates of electoral college votes, he engaged in flagrant election interference by inviting seven Michigan state legislators, including the leaders of the house and senate, to the White House on November 20. What did they discuss? You can surmise from their statement issued after the meeting: "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and, as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan's electors..."

Trump phoned a Georgia elections investigator who was conducting a signature audit in Cobb County and asked her to find the "dishonesty." If she did, he promised, "you'll be praised. ... You have the most important job in the country right now."

The then-president phoned Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 18 times. When he finally got through, he wove a tangled theory of voting irregularities that crescendoed to a naked plea to falsify Georgia's vote: "So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes."

Trump entertained ideas such as declaring martial law, seizing the nation's voting machines and letting the military "rerun" the election. He turned loose his Kraken-conspiracy nuts and his pillow man to spread lies about Dominion Voting Systems, Black-run cities like Philadelphia and Chinese bamboo ballots.

The Trump campaign and its allies filed more than 60 lawsuits challenging election procedures and lost all but one. Pennsylvania was found to have erred in extending the period to fix errors on mail-in ballots. The case was a matter of three days and a small number of votes that would not have changed Pennsylvania's outcome.

And then came the ultimate attack on election integrity — the violent attack on the Capitol and on members of Congress and the vice president as they were fulfilling their constitutional duties.

Leaving no doubt about his intentions for the riot, Trump told a crowd in February that the only thing that prevented the violent mob from successfully hijacking the official tally of the Electoral College votes was the "cowardice" of Mike Pence.

Today, we stand on the precipice of the House Republican conference ratifying this attempt to subvert American democracy. They are poised to punish Liz Cheney for saying this simple truth: "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system." In her place, they will elevate Iago in heels, Elise Stefanik, whose claim to leadership consists entirely of her operatic Trump followership.

Let's be clear: The substitution of Stefanik for Cheney is a tocsin, signaling that the Republican Party will no longer be bound by law or custom. In 2020, many Republican officeholders, including the otherwise invertebrate Pence, held the line. They did not submit false slates of electors. They did not decertify votes. They did not "find" phantom fraud. But the party has been schooled since then. It has learned that the base — which is deluded by the likes of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin — believes the lies and demands that Republicans fight. As my colleague Amanda Carpenter put it, the 2024 mantra is going to be "Steal It Back."

If Cheney must be axed because she will not lie, then what will happen if Republicans take control of Congress in 2022 and are called upon to certify the Electoral College in 2024? How many Raffenspergers will there be? How many will insist, as Pence did, that they must do what the Constitution demands? How many will preserve any semblance of the rule of law and the primacy of truth?

With this sabotage of Cheney, House Republicans are figuratively joining the January 6 mob.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense." To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Biden's Doing Very Well — But Here’s How He Might Do Better

Among right-wingers, there has been some delight about polls showing that Joe Biden's popularity at the 100-day mark is the lowest of any president since World War II. Oh, if you exclude Donald Trump. Undaunted by this detail, they note with satisfaction that Biden's approval rating, according to multiple polls, is somewhere between 52 and 57 percent. At this point in his presidency, Trump's approval was 40 percent.

Americans were far less partisan in the era of Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush and even Clinton than they are now. Large numbers of Democrats were willing to give high marks to Eisenhower when the economy was thriving, or to George H.W. Bush when we had just won a quick war, and a not insignificant number of Republicans approved of Clinton when we enjoyed balanced budgets and booming markets. But in recent years, negative partisanship has curdled our perceptions. One symptom of negative partisanship is the sharp decline in ticket-splitting. As the Cook Political Report's Amy Walter noted:

"After the 1992 election, for example, there were 103 split-ticket House seats; 53 that voted for George HW Bush and a Democratic member of Congress, and 50 that voted for Bill Clinton and a Republican member of the House ... Post-2020, there are only 17, or just four percent of the House."

Starting with the presidency of George W. Bush, the partisan divide in presidential approval ratings went through the roof. Some 80% of Republicans expressed approval for Bush, but only ten percent of Democrats agreed, and it was the reverse for Barack Obama.

The same pattern has been apparent in the past year. A Washington Post poll found that 49 percent of Democrats say the economy is doing well now versus only 18 percent who said that before the election. Among Republicans, 35 percent give the economy high marks today compared with 69 percent in September of 2020. Partisanship similarly colors peoples' perceptions of health care, race relations, and other issues.

So, in this environment, Biden's approval ratings are quite an accomplishment. That 33 percent of Republicans give him high marks for this handling of the coronavirus is a testament to something — maybe reality can sometimes penetrate our epistemic bubbles?

Biden ran on unifying and healing the country. His inaugural address hit all the right notes, and his low-key handling of the office has served to relieve the national migraine that the Trump years caused.

Biden is clearly gambling that putting vaccines in people's arms and deposits in their checking accounts will be enough to transcend whatever kulturkampf the Fox News ecosystem is currently spinning up. And that may work out for him.

On the other hand, since he ran to be a national healer, there are some pitfalls he might want to avoid. Several observers I spoke to cited Biden's race rhetoric, for example, as unhelpful. David French, a conservative who wishes Biden well, recalled that verbal excess on this subject has been a weakness for Biden. In 2012, he told an African American audience that Republicans wanted to "put y'all back in chains." His recent comment on Georgia's election law as "worse than Jim Crow" was ridiculous (though the Georgia law was passed for bad faith reasons and did impose some new burdens while lightening others).

Biden is passionate about racial justice and has included a racial element in many of his proposals, including clean energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and small business loans. His heart is in the right place, but is it politically savvy?

David Frum, citing a newly published study by Micah English and Joshua Kalla, agrees that toning down the racial appeals is advisable. English and Kalla tested whether pitching reforms as attempts to atone for past discrimination were effective or ineffective, compared with class-based or neutral appeals. Their results showed that couching reforms in the language of racial justice did nothing to increase support for the proposals even among Blacks and Democrats, but did provoke a backlash among Republicans. A class frame, by contrast, increased the likelihood that white voters would see the policy as "benefiting people like me." A class appeal was also linked with more respondents of all subgroups saying the policy was "fair."

There is no denying that racial discrimination has stained American history, but that doesn't mean that explicitly racial appeals are good politics. It wouldn't cost Biden anything to signal openness to Republican ideas. He could incorporate some of Sen. Tim Scott's police reform ideas for example. That might defuse some Republican resentment. (And even if it doesn't pacify Republicans, it's the right thing to do.)

Ben Wittes also stressed to me that the Biden administration should be meeting "on a weekly basis" with Republicans "if only for show." Biden met with a group of Republican senators to discuss the COVID-19 relief bill but has essentially disregarded Republican counteroffers. Negative partisanship may be at a boil, and yet 60 percent of Americans told The Washington Post that the president ought to be willing to make "major changes" to his proposals to gain Republican support, versus only 30 percent who thought he should try to push through his legislation as is.

Biden inherited a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Whatever criticisms one can lodge about this or that, he deserves our lasting gratitude for restoring decency, normal order and sanity to the business of governing. Whether it will be enough to reverse the slide into chaos remains uncertain, but defusing our deep mutual loathing, to the degree he can, should be a high priority.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Sidney Powell Admits It Was All A (Very Big) Lie

The Big Lie is starting to unravel. One of Donald Trump's disinformation stars, Sidney Powell, is backing down. But while we're considering the matter of truth and lies, let's recall when conservatives cared about truth (or seemed to).

In the 1990s, Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu was a phenomenon. Of Mayan descent, she offered harrowing testimony about the conduct of the Guatemalan military during that country's civil war. Her 1983 as-told-to memoir, I, Rigoberta Menchu was a sensation. In 1992, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

When it came to light that Menchu had distorted key aspects of her autobiography, right and left responded very differently. David Stoll, an anthropologist, learned through archival research and interviews with more than 120 people that some of her tales were false. A younger brother she said had died of starvation never existed. Another brother, whom she claimed had been tortured to death in front of her parents, died in completely different circumstances. A New York Times investigation confirmed Stoll's findings.

Liberals tended to excuse Menchu, on the grounds that her story revealed a "larger truth." Some argued that while details of her story might not have been strictly true, the overall narrative remained valid because it "raised our collective consciousness" about the Maya people.

Conservatives were appalled that Menchu's Nobel Prize was not rescinded, and galled that some liberals defended Menchu's invocation of "my truth." There was no "my truth" or "your truth" they countered. There was only the truth.

The Menchu story comes to mind because this week we've witnessed further evidence of just how corrupted the right has become. The assault on truth is Donald Trump's most damaging legacy.

It's not good for Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic that allies of the president grossly defamed them, but it may turn out to be good for the country that they are availing themselves of legal remedies.

Powell, a key propagandist in Trump's big lie about the 2020 election, has issued a response to Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit. Let's review some of the statements Powell made after the election:

Appearing on Newsmax on Nov. 17, Powell said she had a video showing Dominion founder John Poulos bragging, "I can change a million votes, no problem at all." The video did not exist.

At a press conference with Rudy Giuliani and others, Powell said Dominion had been "created in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election." She said the machines had an algorithm that automatically flipped votes, and that George Soros' "No. 2 person" was "one of the leaders of the Dominion project." Also false.

Her tone has changed.

The reply Powell's lawyers issued to Dominion's complaint is a climb down. After challenging the court's jurisdiction and venue (standard lawyer maneuvers) and adding the claim that her comments were First Amendment-protected political speech, they get to the substance and things get truly mind-bending.

Sure, Powell's reply acknowledges, she made a series of claims about the election being stolen, but because she was clearly speaking in a political context, her comments must be construed as standard political exaggeration.

The election truther's argument, then, is that any factual claim, no matter how false, is insulated from consequences under defamation law if it is connected to politics. This is worse than "my truth." This is the claim that any politically motivated lie is fine.

But Powell takes it to another level. She next argues that the very outlandishness of her false statements is a defense. Sure, her reply acknowledges, Powell had said, "Democrats were attempting to steal the election and had developed a computer system to alter votes electronically." But "no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact."

So, that's it. The great lie that has poisoned our politics and inspired an attack on the Capitol and bids to become the incubus of future extremism and violence was such absurd bilge that "no reasonable person would believe it."

Of course, millions of Americans did and do believe it. The crazed mob that stormed the Capitol believed every word. Polls have found that between two-thirds and three-quarters of Republicans believe the election was fraudulent.

This is not about Powell or even about Trump anymore. It's about the complete abdication of integrity by leaders on the right — Republican officeholders, conservative opinion leaders, right-wing TV and so forth. At first they countered Trump's lies. Soon after, they began to avoid them. Next, they pretended to find them amusing. Then they shrugged. Finally, they joined. When enough people in authority tell lies, they cripple their audience's capacity for reason. A few meritorious lawsuits cannot repair that.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

J.D. Vance Joins The Jackals

The question of what will become of the Republican Party in the post-Trump era seems to be on everyone's lips. A New York Times survey found that Republicans themselves have five distinct views of Donald Trump, including 35 percent who are either "Never Trump" or "Post Trump." But 65 percent fall into the "Die-hard" camp (27 percent), the "Trump Booster" faction (28 percent), or the "InfoWars" segment (ten percent).

Whatever the future of the Republican Party will be, the shape-shifting J.D. Vance sheds light on the dynamics of how we got here and where the Republican Party is headed. This week, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel announced that he is donating $10 million to a super PAC supporting Vance's potential run for the United States Senate seat from Ohio.

Vance today is a fixture of the Trumpist right, but that isn't the way he debuted. Not at all.

Rarely does a nonfiction book make the kind of splash Hillbilly Elegy did in 2016. I was part of the cheering section. Vance emerged as an authentic voice of the working class — a self-styled "hillbilly" no less — to declare that the problems of many working-class people were largely self-inflicted.

Or perhaps a better way to say it is that their problems are a matter of personal choices. Drug abuse, welfare dependency, domestic violence, irresponsible spending, and family disintegration were all omnipresent in Vance's family and community. The stories of his upbringing are harrowing. He described his home life as "extraordinarily chaotic." His grandmother once attempted to murder his grandfather by dousing his bed with gasoline and lighting a match (he survived).

In a 2016 interview, Vance told Rod Dreher that his mother probably cycled through 15 husbands/boyfriends during his childhood. Family disintegration was the greatest handicap Vance and others like him were saddled with. "Of all the things that I hated about my childhood," he wrote, "nothing compared to the revolving door of father figures."

His depiction of working-class life wasn't a complete rejection of his origins. He stressed that he loved his family, and that a majority (even if a bare majority) of his community does work hard. For children trapped in dysfunctional homes, one can have nothing but sympathy. And he believed that elites did fail to evince much understanding for people who were struggling. On the other hand, he was keen to counter the pervasive sense of helplessness in the community he was raised in. "There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself."

In a sense, Vance was the anti-Trump. He was a true son of Appalachia striving to lift his community, in contrast to the faux populist from Manhattan seeking to flatter and exploit them. Vance felt that they needed hope and a generous dose of honesty. Trump offered fantasies and cunningly curated hatred.

During his 2016 book tour, Vance was not shy about his disdain for Trump. When NPR's Terry Gross asked how he planned to vote in November, he said: "I can't stomach Trump. I think that he's noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place." And appearing on the podcast I hosted at the time, Need to Know, Vance recalled texting his editor to say that, "If Trump wins it would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales."

But a funny thing happened after the introduction of J.D. Vance, anti-Trump voice of the working class. He began to drift into the Trump camp. I don't know why or how, but Vance became not a voice for the voiceless but an echo of the loudmouth. Scroll through his Twitter feed and you will find retweets of Tucker Carlson, alarmist alerts about immigration, links to Vance's appearances on the podcasts of Seb Gorka, Dinesh D'Souza, and the like, and even retweets of Mike Cernovich. But the tweet that really made my heart sink was this one from Feb. 12: "Someone should have asked Jeffrey Epstein, John Weaver, or Leon Black about the CRAZY CONSPIRACY that many powerful people were predators targeting children."

By citing the cases of Jeffrey Epstein and John Weaver, one a convicted abuser of underage girls and the other an accused abuser of teenage boys, he is whitewashing the QAnon conspiracy.

Jeffrey Epstein was a despicable creep. John Weaver seems to have done bad things (though he has not been convicted of anything yet). But the QAnon conspiracy teaches that a cabal of leading Democrats and Hollywood celebrities sexually abuses not teenagers but little children, and then eats them. No decent human being should in any way remotely suggest, far less with all caps, that those conspiracies might not be so crazy.

I'm not sure which is worse: that Vance, who just four years ago lamented the rise of conspiracy theories on the right, is now helping to foment one of the worst, or that the Republican base is so warped that ambitious men feel the need to sink into the sewer in search of political success.

Vance's slide from path-breaking writer to Trumpist troll tracks perfectly with the decline of the Republican Party. Peter Thiel clearly believes his new incarnation will win votes. And it may. But to quote Vance back at himself, if he does win, "it will be terrible for the country."

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

It’s Time To Cancel ‘Cancel Culture’

The term "cancel culture" is rapidly losing its meaning. Just as Donald Trump adopted the term "fake news," which originally referred to the misinformation flow that was a crucial part of his 2016 campaign, and was used to disparage his opponents and critics (or even just factual reporters) in the news media, so, too, "cancel culture" is beginning to mean both itself and its opposite, depending who's using the term.

"Cancel culture" was first conceived to describe a leftwing phenomenon of imposing Draconian penalties on those who transgress woke sensibilities, even unintentionally. Reason's Robby Soave offered a good summary of what it usually includes: "(A) relatively obscure victim; an offense that is either trivial, or misunderstood, or so long ago that it ought to have been forgotten; and an unjust and disproportionate social sanction."

David Shor, a progressive who labors to get Democrats elected, lost his job at a data analytics firm because he tweeted an academic study showing that riots tend to help Republicans in election years. The study had been published in a leading journal and authored by a Black academic. No matter. Because it debuted in the midst of the first protests against George Floyd's murder, it was deemed by some progressives to be "concern trolling."

Progressives tend to anathematize. The examples are, alas, copious.

But conservatives are now hijacking the term to refer to any criticism at all, no matter how justified. Attempting to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments is "cancel culture" according to Rep. Jim Jordan. And Rep. Matt Gaetz described Trump's second impeachment as the "zenith of cancel culture." Sorry, no. When you're a conspiracy-mongering fanatic like Greene or an insurrectionist like Trump, you've got to expect a little blowback.

Certainly, intolerance of anti-Trump views has come to characterize big swaths of the right. They're practicing their own form of wokeness. So perhaps sane people can agree that both of these tendencies are stupid, narrow-minded and antithetical to the values of a free society?

But even short of that, those who wish to end the practice should desist from invoking the term. By labeling any criticism or contradiction as "canceling," they're cheapening the concept.

The new president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ryan Anderson, is the author of the 2018 book, When Harry Became Sally: Answers to Our Transgender Moment. It's a culturally conservative take on the transgender phenomenon and our society's response. I have not read the book, but if it's like Anderson's other work, I'm sure it's carefully researched and intelligently argued. This week, Amazon removed it from their online store without offering an explanation. The message of this act is clear — some points of view are beyond the pale this is one of them.

It will be a tremendous loss for our society if conservative views about this are anathematized. I wonder if Amazon would object to an article in a recent issue of The Economist. Titled "Little is Known About the Effects of Puberty Blockers," the article notes that children around the world are being treated with powerful drugs despite the lack of evidence that they are safe. Adult men who take GNRH agonists experience loss of sexual desire and energy. Adult women who take these drugs for conditions like endometriosis are plunged into chemically induced menopause. Animal studies suggest that these drugs may cause cognitive and emotional impairment.

Further, when adolescents are given cross-hormone treatment, the next stage of transitioning after puberty blockers, the risks may be significant: "One 2018 study concluded that females who take testosterone are more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, while males who take estrogen have higher risk of blood clots and strokes."

Patients who take these drugs long-term may also be at higher risk for osteoporosis. Beyond that, there is the certainty of sterility. There's a great deal to consider when a child presents with gender dysphoria. As the Economist notes, the best estimates are that about 80% of children with this disorder outgrow it after they go through puberty. They become comfortable in their natal sex.

But that progression may be more out of reach for children who are aggressively treated with puberty blockers, encouraged to dress and appear as the opposite sex, and called by a different name during crucial developmental stages. A "cascade of interventions" can wind up pushing an unhappy kid toward transitioning rather than accepting their natal bodies/identities.

Children with gender dysphoria require sensitive and compassionate care. But if it is now considered beyond the pale even to question our approach to the matter in a serious book, we are consigning ourselves to blindness, and possibly consigning thousands of children to unknown risks.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense." To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Will Trump Face The Music, Finally?

There has been some cheering about the ten House and seven Senate Republicans who voted for impeachment. All honor to those who took the difficult path. But, good God! The president attempted to steal the election. He launched an insurrection against Congress. That only a handful of Republicans could vote to convict him is a sign of deep rot.

It also leaves millions of Americans who thirst for justice unsatisfied. Chances of a criminal indictment for incitement to riot are slim.

What else?

Many are placing hopes in a Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney who is investigating whether Trump's call to Brad Raffensperger demanding that he "find" 11,780 votes was the crime of election fraud. New York's attorney general is investigating Trump's possibly deceptive manipulation of property values to avoid taxes, while the Manhattan district attorney is probing the Trump organizations' "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct."

Additionally, Trump could be the target of multiple civil cases arising from the events of January 6. The NAACP has filed suit on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson against Trump and Rudy Giuliani alleging that they violated the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring with white supremacist groups to prevent members of Congress from executing their constitutional duties. The list of possible future plaintiffs includes the families of the seven people who died on January 6 or immediately thereafter, the 138 Capitol and D.C. metropolitan police officers who suffered broken ribs, lost fingers and eyes, and endured concussions, burns, heart attacks and psychological injuries.

Even Mitch McConnell, after voting to acquit Trump on jurisdictional grounds, issued an unconcealed plea for some sort of accountability: "President Trump ... didn't get away with anything — yet."

We need some sense that you cannot trample norms and laws with impunity. We need a sense that truth still matters, that justice is not an illusion and that you cannot "get away with" causing the worst subversion of American democracy since the Civil War.

So, godspeed to all the prosecutors, IRS officials, and lawyers who are assembling cases against Trump. Judges and juries are less likely to be conned than millions of voters.

We know in advance what Trumpworld will say about the coming legal tsunami. They will seize upon the favorite dodge of criminal officeholders worldwide — political motivation. They will claim that every suit or indictment is part of the conspiracy against Trump and Trump followers. They will proclaim, as they have about the Mueller investigation, the dozens of women who've accused Trump of abuse and worse, and both impeachments, that they are fatally flawed because they're "politically motivated."

This is the off-the-shelf excuse for every corrupt politician, and Trump's shelf appears to be unusually well stocked. Responding to the Georgia criminal inquiry, Trump staffer Jason Miller dismissed the investigation as "simply the Democrats' latest attempt to score political points by continuing their witch hunt against President Trump, and everybody sees through it."

What everyone should see through is this feeble talking point.

Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, gained fame for corruption that exceeded even Illinois standards (his predecessor also wound up in prison). In addition to trying to sell Barack Obama's vacated senate seat, he shook down a children's hospital and threatened the owners of the Chicago Tribune. What was Blagojevich's excuse? He launched a (successful) lobbying campaign for a Trump pardon claiming that his prosecution was "unjust and politically motivated."

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted of charges of graft and money laundering. His explanation? "There was a pact between the judiciary and the media to remove us from power," Lula told a rally of his supporters in 2018. "They couldn't stand to see the poor rise up."

In 1998, the American first lady claimed that her husband was the victim of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was among the very first House members to endorse Trump, pleaded guilty to misuse of campaign funds for a variety of personal expenditures including family vacations. There was tension with Mrs. Hunter when it was revealed that campaign funds were also devoted to romantic weekends in Lake Tahoe with individuals "14, 15, 16, 17, and 18." Hunter described the investigation as a "politically motivated witch hunt." (Trump also pardoned Hunter.)

Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced to ten years in prison for racketeering, bribery and money laundering. He apparently used donor funds to pay down his son's college tuition debt and accepted an $18,000 bribe to help a friend secure an ambassadorial post. What did Fattah say about the investigation? Plenty. It was "unconstitutional" and "unlawful" and, yes, "politically motivated."Trump is no longer shielded by the Justice Department policy against indicting sitting presidents. He is no longer able to claim separation of powers when Congress asks for documents. He is no longer able to put off the IRS audit.

So, yes, he and his followers will shout "political motivation" and "witch hunt," but it rings tinny now, not just because it's so flagrantly false, but also because it's all they've got.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Liberals -- And Conservatives -- Should Back Romney’s Child Bill

It may be coincidence that the best policy idea to come out of the 117th Congress was offered by the one guy who has demonstrated the integrity to brave harassment and death threats to do what's right vis a vis former President Donald Trump. Mitt Romney has an excellent plan to reduce child poverty.

This country has a serious child problem. Our birth rates are low and heading lower, which endangers the prospects for Social Security and Medicare for our large elderly population. Also, old countries tend to lack dynamism, which has always been an American specialty. Some couples are happy with their small family sizes, but most Americans want more children (2.7) than they are likely to have (1.8).

About 20% of American kids live in poverty compared with 13% among all OECD countries. Part of the reason our kids are struggling is due to changes in family structure. Though the marriage norm has declined nearly everywhere, the U.S. holds the dubious distinction of leading the developed world in unstable adult relationships. Child Trends reports that the 2017 poverty rate for children in married couple families was 8.4%. For kids in single mother homes, the poverty rate was 40.7%.

Clearly, a return to the two-parent norm (updated to include same-sex marriages) would be ideal. But that is a complicated cultural matter that governments have limited capacity to affect — except, as the Romney Family Plan envisions, we can at least stop doing the things that penalize marriage. Our system of getting aid to children is convoluted. Because we Americans love to disguise spending as "tax policy," we offer a "child care tax credit" along with a child allowance included in the Earned Income Tax Credit. The poorest families receive TANF. The way the EITC is structured, an analysis for the Niskanen Center demonstrates, can cost couples between 15% and 25% of income if they marry. Also, the child care tax credit, which the Biden administration's proposal would expand, serves as a pass-through to increase prices for providers without helping the average family choose the kind of relative-provided or local child care arrangements that most families prefer. It also preferences paid day care over parental care.

The Romney proposal would sweep away TANF, the tax credits and the rest in favor of a simplified and more generous child allowance of $4,200 per year for children up to age 6, and $3,000 per year for children ages 6-17.

Conservatives worry about the disincentive to work inherent in traditional welfare programs, which reasonable. But part of the old "poverty trap" was not the child allowance per se but the implicit high marginal tax on earnings as parents reentered the workforce. Niskanen points to Canada's experience with a direct child allowance, finding that labor force participation actually increased after their child allowance was increased in 2016.

Another benefit of Romney's approach is that it respects the wishes of parents. There's a weakness on the left for the idea of clean, bright day care centers staffed by Ph.D.s. But a quick glance at the local public school should be enough to raise doubts about the supply of "high quality" care. In fact, most day care arrangements are far from ideal. Here again, Canada's recent experience is instructive. Quebec instituted a $5 per day universal day care in 1997. The number of families placing preschoolers in care jumped by 33%. But a study published in 2015 by the National Bureau of Economic Research found some disturbing results. Compared with kids from other provinces, Quebec's kids were less healthy and less satisfied with life. Most strikingly, Quebec experienced a spike in crime among the teenagers who had been in day care as children.

The direct child allowance gives parents the flexibility to make decisions about care. Some will use professional daycare centers, others will opt for help from relatives and friends, and still others will use the extra income to permit one parent to stay at home while the kids are little.

Romney's proposal is also pro-life. Family incomes tend to decline in the second half of pregnancy, so Romney's child allowance would begin four months before a child's birth. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, some 28% of abortion patients cite financial worries as one of the reasons for terminating a pregnancy.

Poverty isn't good for anyone, but arguably child poverty is more damaging to society than any other kind. An Institute for Social and Economic research paper found that for every 1% increase in unemployment during the Great Recession, there was a 25% increase in child neglect. This effect was muted in states with more generous safety nets. Niskanen estimates that Romney's proposal would reduce child poverty by one-third and cut deep poverty in half. It would accomplish this without adding to the deficit since the proposal contains offsets (specifically, eliminating the state and local tax exemption that mostly benefits wealthy individuals in high tax states).

This is what policymaking is supposed to look like. With any luck, Romney's proposal will at least spark debate on a critical challenge for our country. A few years ago, that would have been normal. In 2021, it would be nirvana.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense." To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

McConnell Condemns QAnon — Except When He Doesn’t

So, now Mitch McConnell tells us that Marjorie Taylor Greene's views are a "cancer" on the Republican Party and on the country. Odd that he neglected to make that point when one of his preferred candidates in the Georgia runoff, Kelly Loeffler, campaigned with Greene.

McConnell is now leaning heavily on the other body to clean up its act, denouncing "looney lies and conspiracy theories." McConnell's deputy in Senate leadership, John Thune, chimed in, too, asking his colleagues: "Do they want to be the party of limited government ... free markets, peace through strength and pro-life, or do they want to be the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon?"

The party's dilemma, we're told, is captured by two members of Congress. On the one hand, you have Liz Cheney, three term, at-large representative from Wyoming and the third-ranking Republican in the House. A former deputy assistant secretary of state, she is known for her interest in national security, child protection and, until the attack on the Capitol, reliable support for Donald Trump.

Cheney is getting blowback within the party because she voted to impeach Trump after the attack on Congress. The Wyoming GOP put out a statement calling Cheney's vote to hold Trump accountable for the worst sedition in 160 years a "travesty." The execrable Matt Gaetz flew from his home district in the Florida panhandle to Cheyenne to hold a rally against her, which featured a phone-in from Donald Trump Jr. And at least 107 House Republicans have indicated that they would vote to oust Cheney from her leadership role in a secret ballot. A Wall Street Journal editorial characterized this as a "few dozen backbenchers," but it's actually an outright majority of the caucus.

And then, on the other hand, we have Marjorie Taylor Greene, representative of all that is insane in America. She believes that the Parkland shootings were staged, that QAnon is right about the pedophilic cannibals populating the Democratic Party, that Nancy Pelosi should be murdered, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that Jewish space lasers caused the California wildfires last year. (You don't think fires start themselves, do you?) Her Republican primary opponent, Dr. John Cowan, described her this way: "I'm a neurosurgeon. I diagnose crazy every day. It took five minutes talking to her to realize there were bats in the attic."

Weighing Cheney against Greene, the Republican Party is dithering. In responding to demands that the party strip Greene of her committee assignments as they did to Steve King, Andy Biggs of the ironically named "Freedom Caucus" fumed: "The Democrats' moves to strip Congresswoman Greene of her committee assignments for thoughts and opinions she shared as a private citizen before coming to the U.S. House is unprecedented and unconstitutional. ... Republicans, beware: If this can happen to Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, it can happen to any one of us."

Well, there you have it — the perfect path to discrediting all Republicans. Biggs, Gaetz, Jim Jordan and others are throwing their arms around Greene and confirming that her crazed rantings are indistinguishable from other Republicans. Fox host Tucker Carlson made a similar case recently when he mocked those who warn of Greene's vicious, contemptible conspiracy-mongering:

"This new member of Congress has barely even voted ... But CNN says she has bad opinions. ... Now if you're skeptical about any of this, our advice is keep it to yourself. Because free inquiry is dead, unauthorized questions are hate speech."

Welcome to anti-anti-QAnon. "Free inquiry is dead," proclaims Carlson to an estimated 5 million viewers. We have reached the farcical moment when even to criticize a tinfoil-hat conspiracist is denounced as "silencing." No one is fining or jailing Greene for her opinions. To deny her a seat on the House Education and Labor Committee is not exactly the Gulag.

Look, it's great that a number of Senate Republicans are speaking forcefully about quarantining QAnonism. Todd Young was refreshingly frank:

"The people of her congressional district, it's their prerogative if they want to abase themselves by voting to elect someone who indulges in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and all manner of other nonsense. But I've got no tolerance for people like that. In terms of the divisions within our party, she's not even part of the conversation, as far as I'm concerned."

But these senators might want to consider the elephant in the room. Who phoned Marjorie Taylor Greene to express support after her "Rothschild space laser" comments became public? Who called her a "rising star" of the GOP? Who said QAnon people "love their country"? And who is it that all of the aforementioned senators seem poised to acquit again?

Greene is the easy target for these newly fastidious Republicans. They opened the tent long ago to the villains, liars, and conspiracists when they welcomed the ringmaster. With one side of their mouths, they denounce the looney haters, but with the other, they seize a fig leaf to disguise their fear of convicting Trump. If they want to cleanse the Republican Party of the poisons that are rapidly killing it, they can vote to hold the man who first infected it with QAnon, "election fraud" and much more, accountable. That, not restraining Greene, is the lustration the party needs.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense." To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

A Conservative Proud Of My Vote For Biden

I've been getting a lot of mail from critics lately asking if I'm happy with the Biden administration. They point to some of the new president's executive orders — the one about the Keystone XL pipeline, or the one rescinding the "Mexico City" policy withholding funds from international organizations that perform or advocate for abortion. They ask, snidely, whether I'm proud of my vote for the Democrat.

My answer is a resounding yes. It's not because I think Joe Biden will pursue a policy agenda I will agree with most of the time. It's because we just came within a whisker of losing our democracy, and this presidency is a chance to rebuild it. We may yet blow it. Matters like the Keystone pipeline and even the Mexico City policy are trifles by comparison.

My correspondents won't understand this. Rightworld is in the process, once again, of bending reality to serve their leader, and in so doing, they are compounding the moral abdication that brought us Jan. 6.

The immediate reactions to the attempted coup sound strangely mature and responsible now that the right has regrouped and settled back into its accustomed posture of Trump-excusing. The new narrative is that an impeachment trial would be 1) unconstitutional, 2) divisive, or 3) helpful to Trump because it gives him a platform. How quickly they have capitulated. It's a mistake in this febrile era ever to assume you've taken the national temperature.

In the days immediately following the attack on the Capitol, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said the president had committed impeachable offenses and was unfit to serve. "I want him out," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told the Anchorage Daily News. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he would "definitely consider whatever articles" of impeachment the House might move. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed his disgust on the Senate floor: "Count me out. Enough is enough." Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Trump provoked the mob by feeding them lies, and McConnell signaled that he might be open to impeachment. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Trump was responsible for the storming of the Capitol, and warned his caucus not to criticize members who voted for impeachment because it might endanger their lives. National Review published pro-impeachment articles, and The Wall Street Journal called for Trump to resign. Ten House Republicans, including a sulphuric Liz Cheney, voted to impeach. Even Ari Fleischer said: "At this point, I won't defend him anymore. ... He's on his own."

Oh, but he's not. Just a few days later, Fleischer was retweeting a Wall Street Journal editorial suggesting that we really ought to move on, and that "Democrats and the press are addicted to Trump." The Oregon GOP's official position is that the assault on the Capitol was a false flag operation, mounted to "discredit" Trump. Graham was back onside in a matter of days. Having weathered harassment by Trump fanatics at National Airport, he skittered back to the boss, telling Fox News that "I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you're wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you're gonna get erased."

Like dominoes, the old gang began falling into line. Prof. Jonathan Turley, who's been saying that impeaching a non-incumbent is unconstitutional, was invited to the Senate GOP luncheon. All but five Republicans (Utah's Mitt Romney, Sasse, Murkowski, Maine's Susan Collins and Toomey) voted for a resolution introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) echoing the Turley view. Trump loyalists circulated a petition to remove Cheney from her House leadership post. National Review published a John Bolton piece arguing that the second impeachment was as "flawed as the first." Too partisan. Too hasty. It will give him a platform. You know the drill.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the impeachment is "stupid." Oh, and did he mention "divisive"?

The infinitely flexible Nikki Haley asks not whether former Trump attempted to steal the election, but how low the base would like her to sink. Appearing on the Laura Ingraham show, she offered up the expected persecution narrative: "They beat him up before he got into office. They are beating him up after he leaves office. I mean, at some point, I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on."

See how this works? It was Trump who was beaten up, not Officer Sicknick.

The persecution complex is eternal — the sense that Democrats and "the media" are willing to do anything to "get" Trump and that therefore they must be ready to respond in kind. We've run the experiment and gotten our answer. There really is nothing Trump could do that would forfeit the support of the GOP. He didn't literally shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, but he sabotaged Americans' faith in elections, attempted to intimidate the secretary of state of Georgia into altering the election count, and set a violent mob against the Congress (killing one officer and four others). He has blood on his hands. But in the words of his No. 1 toady, Lindsey Graham: "He's going to be the most important voice in the Republican Party for a long time to come."

So, no regrets about voting for an honorable Democrat. I only pray that, with the reprieve we've bought, we can repair the awful breach in this country before it's too late.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense.To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Republicans Must Confess Complicity In Trump’s Big Lie

If you missed the retraction from the right-wing online magazine The American Thinker, it's one for the ages. Noting that they had received a warning from lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems, the editors admitted that they had published pieces that "relied on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories ... These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact. ... We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion's track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error."

Fox News has issued similar retractions. This is the beginning, not the end, of the story. Dominion has sent letters to 20 other entities and individuals, including One American News Network, Newsmax, Lin Wood, White House Counsel Pat Cippolone and Rudy Giuliani. Sidney Powell, the "Kraken" lawyer in Donald Trump's orbit, got more than a warning. She was slapped with a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit for her outrageous and outlandish claims including that Dominion's voting machines were designed by Hugo Chavez to help him rig elections; that the machines contained secret algorithms to change Donald Trump votes into Joe Biden votes; that Dominion had bribed Georgia officials to obtain its contract with the state; and that she had a video showing the company's founder bragging that his system "could easily change a million votes, no problem."

Powell has yet to grovel as The American Thinker did, but she would be wise to start. Dominion is not backing down. CEO John Poulos told The Washington Post that he would prefer to take these cases to court rather than settle, because "We feel that it's important for the entire electoral process." The company did not rule out suing Trump.


It seems that the only means we still possess as a society for holding people to account for vicious and democracy-endangering lies is the tort law system. The only acknowledgment of wrongdoing in the most destabilizing crisis of the past 160 years was that extracted from an obscure website by a private company whose reputation and income took a severe hit. I wish Dominion every success against the other defendants, but what of the country that has taken a severe hit? Can Dominion also sue Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, The Federalist, the 17 state attorneys general who joined the ludicrous Ken Paxton lawsuit challenging the election results in four states, Kevin McCarthy, the 121 House Republicans and six Senate Republicans who voted to reject the Electoral College ballots of Arizona? Because until we hear confessions and corrections from conservative media, we will continue to inhabit a dark cave as a country.

The 20,000-plus National Guard presence in Washington, D.C., along with smaller forces arrayed in state capitals may, God willing, get us through the inauguration without any further spasms of violence. But unless the propagandists of right-wing media confess and correct the record — unless they forthrightly admit that they spread lies about the election being rigged — the fury they've incited among a huge swath of Americans will continue to endanger the lives of public officials and crack the foundations of this republic.


The lie they propagated is what propelled those deluded people to storm the Capitol. Of course, the perpetrators of the violence are fully responsible for their decisions, and some of them were clearly mentally unbalanced or extremists or criminals of various stripes. But there were also thousands of otherwise normal people who were deceived into believing that their democracy had been fatally compromised, and millions who now harbor doubts about our system's legitimacy.

Nearly 75 percent of Republicans believe that Trump was the legitimate victor of the election. They couldn't have gotten this idea entirely from Facebook posts or YouTube videos (though those platforms bear responsibility, too). No, without the imprimatur of prestige conservative media like Fox and Limbaugh, and the support from official Republican Party organs, and the complicity of actual Republican office holders like Ken Paxton, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, it's doubtful that Trump's big lie could have led where it did. The guilt is corporate.

The goons who defiled the Capitol and smashed poles into the heads of police thought what they were doing was righteous. They think of themselves as patriots. The cynical liars like Hawley and Levin and the rest, who took advantage of their ignorance for their own purposes, drape themselves in the flag, too. How dare they? Their little game, which began by indulging the base's attraction to stories like the birther conspiracy, has matured into stoking insurrection. Is there no point at which they question their complicity? Is there no point at which they say to themselves, "For the good of the country, I need to correct this"?

Dominion Voting Systems may get its reputation restored through the courts. The damage to the nation must be repaired by a chastened Republican Party.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

The Ruinous Cruelty Of Our Media Culture

When did we become so merciless? I'm not talking about the 18-year-old kid, featured in a New York Times article, who elected to torpedo a fellow student over a three-year-old video clip — though what he did was cruel. No, I'm talking about all of the supposed adults who created the world these kids navigate through.

The outline of the story is as follows: Mimi Groves, a 15-year-old high school freshman in Leesburg, Virginia, posted a Snapchat video when she got her learner's permit. Speaking into the camera, she said, "I can drive, n——-."

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How The Party Of Lincoln Became A Danger To The Republic

Off and on for 25 years, I participated in National Review cruises as a speaker. I met lots of wonderful people who were intelligent, curious, and great company — but there were always cranks and conspiracy theorists, too. Once, during the Clinton administration, people at my dinner table were repeating the story that Hillary Clinton had killed Vince Foster. I choked down my bite of chicken Kiev and responded, as equably as possible, "Well, for that to be true, she would also have had to transport his body to Fort Marcy Park without the Secret Service or anyone else noticing." Several people at the table blinked back at me. Yeah? So?

In later years, I noticed that cruisers weren't citing mainstream publications for their information. They were getting their news from email lists and subscription newsletters.

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To Dispel Trumpism, Begin By Restoring Truth

The photo looks faked. It's so heavy-handed. A grinning Australian soldier, his insignia clear as day on his helmet and arm, stands on the Australian flag holding a small, barefoot Afghan child in front of him. He grasps a bloody knife to the child's throat. The caption reads "Don't be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!"

This not particularly well-disguised piece of propaganda (it's the work of Chinese graphic artist Fu Yu, aka Qilin) was posted to Twitter by the government of China, part of a broad-based campaign China is waging against Australia. Why? Simple: Australia has told the truth.

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To Explain Voting For Trump, Conservatives Offer Feeblest Excuses

Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal. — Robert Heinlein

Among many lessons learned over the last excruciating four years is this: Partisanship is a more potent drug than heroin. I consider myself to be in recovery but by no means cured. After decades of Republican loyalty, I now devoutly desire a Republican loss.

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Authentic Conservatives Have No Political Party Now

Kelly Loeffler looked like a standard-issue Republican when she was appointed senator from Georgia in December 2019. She came from a super-rich family (like plenty of Democrats as well), she was pro-gun, anti-immigration, and pro-business. Originally pro-choice, her position on abortion evolved in time for her to be accepted by pro-life gatekeepers.

Once in Washington, D.C., though, Loeffler quickly got with the program. She described the impeachment of the president as a "circus" and lambasted Mitt Romney for even voting to call witnesses, whom she was sure would "slander @realDonald Trump." Now, she's encouraging hero worship of Trump, tweeting: "COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump."

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Why This Is A 'Broken Windows’ Presidency

President Donald Trump is a broken windows president.

Let me explain. In 1982, The Atlantic published an article that became legendary in conservative circles. Authored by George Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson, "Broken Windows" argued for better community policing. Police walking a beat, they urged, tended to reduce the quality of life crimes that degrade city life — public urination, aggressive panhandling, turnstile jumping. "Disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked," they wrote. "If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken."

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