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Pelosi on Packing Supreme Court: ‘Idea that Should Be Considered’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) attends her weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 15, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly press conference on Thursday that she has “no plans” to have the whole House vote on a new bill to pack the Supreme Court with four additional justices, but she thinks the proposal “should be considered.” 

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea or a bad idea. I think it’s an idea that should be considered, and I think the president is taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing,” Pelosi said. “It’s a big step. It’s not out of the question. It has been done before.”

New York Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is introducing a bill that would increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court from nine to thirteen (with the hope of giving Democratic appointees a 7-6 majority).

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Ezekiel Emanuel Pushes National Vaccine Mandate

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, professor of Health Care Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in Washington, D.C., April 1, 2014 (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Ever the autocrat, Obamacare architect and Biden health-care adviser Ezekiel Emanuel has co-authored a call in the New York Times for vaccine mandates. From, “These People Should be Required to Get Vaccinated:

We need to sharply reduce coronavirus infections to turn the tide and quell the pandemic. The best hope is to maximize the number of people vaccinated, especially among those who interact with many others and are likely to transmit the virus.

How can we increase vaccinations? Mandates.

Vaccines should be required for health care workers and for all students who plan to attend in-person classes this fall — including younger children once the vaccine is authorized for them by the Food and Drug Administration.

Employers should also be prepared to make vaccines mandatory for prison guards, E.M.T.s, police officers, firefighters and teachers if overall vaccinations do not reach the level required for herd immunity.

Has Emanuel been asleep the last few months? Doesn’t he not know that the erratic performance of public-health officials has cost them the confidence of a large percentage of the population? Does he want greater discord than we are already experiencing?

I can think of nothing likely to breed greater distrust in the vaccines — I received the Moderna jabs — than coercing people to take them. And how, precisely, would that mandate be accomplished legally? An executive order? Rule-making by the CDC? Fiats from state governors? That would only lead to further division among the liberal and conservative jurisdictions.

No, the real muscle would be the private sector, a way to avoid constitutional questions and checks and balances. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube might block those who argue against the mandate. In other words, more building of the corporatocracy that this way comes, further tearing at our bonds of affection.

Emanuel concludes:

All colleges and school districts should mandate that students who are authorized to receive Covid-19 vaccines get them. All 50 states already require certain vaccines for children to attend school. A Covid-19 vaccine should be no different.

Tens of millions more Americans would be vaccinated as a result, pushing the country closer to herd immunity. This approach would also ensure vaccination equity by getting shots to all children, including poor children. Religious or philosophical exemptions should not be allowed.

This is not the American way. We allow conscientious religious objectors to avoid military service in time of war!

Besides, COVID is different. Youth are at far less risk of serious disease and are not major spreaders. Those at most peril, the elderly and people with comorbidities, are already well along in obtaining protection. Good grief, we never had such a general national vaccine mandate for smallpox or polio!

Emmanuel is the fellow who argued that people should want to die at 75. He once wrote in the Times that he wanted every child in the country required legally to take a flu shot every year, he believes in health-care rationing, and he wants doctors forced to provide abortions. He is also the fellow who urged that the country be shut down for 18 months at the beginning of the pandemic, and indeed, wanted complete mandatory lockdowns put in place last summer — so his mandate advocacy is of a piece.

I don’t think Emanuel is someone millions of freedom-loving Americans will want to march behind. But the elites love him. What does that tell us?

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There Is Absolutely No Evidence That Kristen Clarke’s Racist Letter Was Satire

Kristen Clarke, President Biden’s nominee to be assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, speaks in Wilmington, Del., January 7, 2021.
(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Yesterday, Texas senator John Cornyn asked Kristen Clarke, Joe Biden’s nominee for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, about a letter she wrote promoting pseudoscientific racist theories in The Harvard Crimson back in the 1990s. Clarke claimed she was merely “holding up a mirror” to the “racist theory that defined the Bell Curve book.”

“But this was satire?” Cornyn asked.

“Absolutely, senator,” said Clarke.

Cornyn moved on quickly, but was still skewered by the usual characters. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked: “Why can’t Texas senators hire staff who save them from their public idiocy?” Vox’s disinformationist, Aaron Rupar, mocked Cornyn for being “seemingly oblivious to the fact it was satire.” Cornyn had “performed a spectacular ‘‘Gotcha!’ fail,’ a reporter at Mediate noted.

All of this mockery was contrived, of course. Yesterday, a New York Times editorial-board member already declared that “the letter was a satirical response to ‘The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.’” Weeks ago, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin argued that Clarke, was “attempting, in Jonathan Swift fashion, to mock race-based claims to superiority.”

As I noted yesterday, if her contentions were Swiftian, it was certainly odd that Clarke not only invited notorious anti-Semite and black supremacist quack Anthony Martin — whose racist theories happen to comport perfectly with the ones she presented in her letter — to speak at Harvard, but also praised his intelligence and the veracity of his work. In her letter, Clarke specifically points to a doctor named Carol Barnes to claim “melanin theory” is what gives “Blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.” In those days, bigoted pseudo-intellectuals such as Martin and Leonard Jeffries were quite popular on campuses.

Indeed, there is not a single shred of contemporaneous evidence that the letter was satire. Quite the opposite. Subsequent pieces in the Crimson specifically point out that Clarke refused to concede that she wasn’t serious. The Harvard Crimson staff, in fact, demanded a retraction and noted that it had “searched in vain for a hint of irony in Clarke’s letter.” In another response, a columnist argued that “Clarke refuses to explicitly deny the theories” and accused her of “disseminating racist theories.”

Again, believing stupid things when you’re young is no crime. (Though Clarke still supports the occasional Farrakhanite.) But it seems quite likely that Clarke lied to Congress — with the help of a number of people in the media.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun


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Daunte Wright Shooting: Kim Potter Prosecution Faces Legal Difficulties

Kim Potter, the officer who killed Daunte Wright by shooting him with a firearm when she apparently meant to use a Taser, is being charged with second-degree manslaughter. This strikes me as a morally appropriate charge, but it could be legally difficult to prove.

Why? Because of the way Minnesota’s homicide statutes are worded. There doesn’t seem to be a charge that clearly captures what Potter did.

Here’s the second-degree-manslaughter statute, in relevant part:

A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for

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Afghanistan Withdrawal: David Petraeus Warns Cost Could Be a Terrorist Attack Against America

“Frankly, we’re also going to lose that platform that Afghanistan provides for the kind of regional counterterrorism campaign,” he said. “I’m really afraid that we’re going to look back two years from now and regret the decision and just wonder if whether we might not have sought to manage it with a modest, sustainable, sustained commitment that could have ensured that al Qaeda and the Islamic State would not re-establish sanctuaries from which they undoubtedly will try to figure out over time how to conduct operations that go after the us, our allies, and our partners.” […]

Petraeus also said he felt Biden overestimated the public’s desire to leave. “It’s an unforced error,” he said, arguing that the public cares mostly about high battlefield casualties, of which there have been none in more than a year.

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Kristen Clarke Nomination: She’s Unfit for Office

Kristen Clarke, Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant attorney general of the United States, once promoted racist pseudoscientific quackery, arguing that the human brain was structured in a way that makes black people superior to white people, and that “human mental processes” in the brain have chemicals that imbue one race with “superior physical and mental abilities” and “spiritual abilities.”

Rather than owning up to a youthful relationship with radicalism, Clarke, who made these comments in the Harvard Crimson as a 19-year-old, claims that her racist diatribe was a merely a parody mocking the controversial book, “The Bell Curve.” “What I was

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Inflation Debate — The New Republic Oversimplifies

(Kritchanut/Getty Images)

For the last eleven years or so, I’ve been writing that monetary policy is too tight. During this period, it has sometimes been a little too tight, sometimes a lot. I’ve been skeptical of claims of impending inflationary doom, and my skepticism continues to this day.

So I’m on board with the starting point of Bruce Bartlett’s New Republic article: that worries about inflation are exaggerated. I don’t agree, however, with where he takes this idea. He thinks inflation hawks are self-interested capitalists and their conservative lackeys, all of them deathly afraid that wage-earners will see raises. A looser policy would have better served both capital and labor over the last decade, in my view, and it’s been mistaken ideas that have kept it from being adopted. Those ideas are not merely stalking horses for narrow economic interests. Bartlett explains that he has revised his view of Karl Marx’s thoughts on political economy upward. I don’t think the shift has improved the quality of his analysis.

Bartlett has a stray reference to me that is a little odd. His readers might think, based on the surrounding context, that I am one of the conservative inflation fearmongers he has in mind. Perhaps he is himself under the impression that I am one, in which case he is mistaken. (Whether I am a running dog of capital, I’ll leave for others to judge.)

The context for the reference is Biden’s suggestion during the 2020 campaign that the Fed, which has a statutory mandate to promote stable prices, high employment, and moderate interest rates, should also “aggressively target persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages and wealth.” As Bartlett notes, I wrote a column saying this was a bad idea. There’s not much the Fed can do directly about these gaps, and it would be a mistake to compromise the objective of macroeconomic stability to try to affect them.

Bartlett counters that racial discrimination reduces our potential economic output, and that Fed governors could give the issue a lot of publicity. I am less persuaded than Bartlett that this would be a useful exercise. But in any case, it’s not what Biden was talking about, or I was writing about, last year.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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American Rescue Plan: Yes, It’s a Gigantic Trojan Horse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer display the “American Rescue Plan” during the enrollment ceremony following passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 10, 2021. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

President Biden and his congressional allies say that they’re “building back” the weakened American economy with their huge spending bills. The notion that having Washington ladle money into “the economy” to strengthen it is foolish enough, but little of what happens in the spending splurge is about that. As Nikolai Wenzel argues in this Law & Liberty essay, the objective is to transform the nation’s economy.

Here’s a key passage:

Over the past year, we have seen a bipartisan assault on constitutional and fiscal floodgates. But the reality is even worse than appearances. Indeed, ARPA is a Trojan Horse that is smuggling in tools that will be used for further power grabs—ones that would not be tolerated save for the pretext of fighting a pandemic and a recession. The educational union machine has not yet spent the manna received under the CARES Act, but ARPA is showering it with a further $130 billion—to be spent over seven years. This has nothing to do with stimulus, but is explicitly a slush fund. ARPA is smuggling in support for health insurance premiums, including for some recipients who are not unemployed and do have sufficient resources. Since traditional legislation can’t be secured, ARPA is slowly laying the foundations for single-payer healthcare. ARPA is even quietly making a shift towards Universal Basic Income by providing a monthly child credit to most parents.

Wenzel is right. The Democrats want an economy subject to their control. That is much better for them since they can extract support far more readily from a crony-capitalist economy than one based on economic freedom. And as we have recently seen, many big business leaders are happy to play along.

The fact that a managed economy inevitably wastes lots of resources, drives away ambitious people, and leads to ever increasing political bickering over the declining GDP doesn’t matter to these scoundrels. They want to enjoy power now.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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Just 6% of all U.S. Public Schools Are Holding All Classes Remotely

Fifth-grade students study in a classroom with plastic partitions at Louise Elementary School in Louise, Texas, November 20, 2020. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

Some changes occur so gradually, and away from the parts of the country that occupy much of the media spotlight, that they’re easily missed. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker, just 6 percent of all public school districts are holding all classes remotely, while 50 percent are taking a hybrid approach of in-person some days and for some students and distance learning for others, and 44 percent of all public school districts are holding all classes in person. That is the highest percentage of in-person, and the lowest percentage of fully remote since the pandemic hit with full-force in March 2020.

As recently as January 11, almost one-quarter of all public school districts were entirely remote, 48 percent were hybrid, and 29 percent were entirely in-person. The chart does not provide a breakdown of how much “in-school” days occur in hybrid programs, whether students are spending one or two days in school, or three or four. But at least with hybrid schooling, kids are less isolated and have at least some masked-face-to-masked-face socialization and interaction with their peers and teachers.

Here and there across the country, in communities like Pueblo, Burlington, Mass., and parts of Michigan, students have gone back to remote learning for a period because of higher outbreaks of COVID-19 in their communities.

But overall, policy changes are putting more and more kids back in classrooms. Nashua, New Hampshire – the state’s second-largest school district  — intends to fully open on Monday. Nearly 4,800 Pittsburgh Public Schools students returned to their classrooms last week as part of a phased reopening. New York City will return about 51,000 students back to classrooms later this month.

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Teacher Certification — What’s Wrong with Our Education Schools?

A teacher, wearing a protecive face mask, teaches to schoolchildren in France. April 2, 2021. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

The way we train teachers (most of them, anyway), has long been a problem. Writers including Rita Kramer, Thomas Sowell, and Heather Mac Donald have argued that what students learn in the education-school courses they must take to become certified is a waste of time, or worse. “Progressive” educational fads prevail. Knowledge is sneered at. Mac Donald entitled one of her essays “Anything But Knowledge.”

Another ed school critic is Professor Lucien Ellington of the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga and in today’s Martin Center article, he argues that we used to do teacher education pretty well and ought to go back to the 19th-century “normal school” approach if possible.

Our public schools are largely dysfunctional. The poor reading skills of many students should be a matter of national shame, and Ellington pins the blame on the ed schools, where few professors teach our future teachers to use methods that work.

The trouble with teacher training, however, goes back much further than the “reading wars” of recent decades. Ellington points to the malign influence of John Dewey, writing, “In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, philosopher John Dewey and his followers developed ‘progressive education,’ advocating that children’s experiences, problem-solving, and education for democracy should supplant systematic study of academic subjects, especially in elementary school.”

This approach became known as “student-centered education.” It leaves many students adrift.

That shift to “progressive” education was a disastrous mistake, Ellington argues. The older “normal school” approach served America very well.

He continues, “Normal school faculty encouraged what came to be labeled ‘the normal school spirit.’ Teaching was a calling and moral and civic education were imperative. Alexander McMurry was a prolific normal school speaker and thought leader who developed a widely used civic education curriculum using history, literature, and effective lesson plans incorporating learning facts, digesting knowledge, and absorption and reflection.”

If politicians actually cared about quality education (as opposed to currying favor with the education establishment), they would change teacher-certification and school-accreditation laws. We need to get out of the “progressive education” rut.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.