Mona Charen | Editorial
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  • Katy Tur, France's Riots and Panic Mode for 12/07/2018

    NBC's Katy Tur, responding to an article in the New Yorker about climate, looked into the camera and asked, "How pointless is my life? And how pointless are the decisions that I make on a day-to-day basis when we are not focused on climate change every day, when it's not leading every one of our newscasts?" It's a safe bet that not only will climate change not lead all newscasts, it will not even lead Tur's very often. And the reason is not any of those often proffered for failure to act in ways activists prefer. It won't be that she is a climate change denier. It won't be that she was bought off by the fossil fuel industry. And it won't be that she doesn't care. Updated: Fri Dec 07, 2018 […]

  • Why Are We So Sad? for 11/30/2018

    The Centers for Disease Control has delivered sober news — average life expectancy at birth in the United States has declined for a third straight year due to extremely high rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide. As The Washington Post reports, this is the longest sustained decline in life expectancy since the early 20th century. Between 1915 and 1918, a period that included the First World War and the worldwide flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans, life expectancy showed a similar decline. Today, we are at peace (with the exception of the occasional death in Afghanistan); we are experiencing an economic boom; and we face no epidemics of communicable diseases. Some might say that our problems are those of overabundance. For millennia, our species was haunted by plagues, famines and droughts. Our minds and bodies evolved to grab what nourishment we could when we could. Those years in the caves and on the savannah didn't equip us very well to cope with a world of constantly available Frappuccinos and cupcakes — to say nothing of fentanyl. Updated: Fri Nov 30, 2018 […]

  • Giving Thanks for 11/22/2018

    Our Thanksgiving family tradition is to go around the table and express gratitude for our blessings. It's such a simple exercise, and yet almost as satisfying as the feasting. Maybe we shouldn't confine it to Thanksgiving? We have observant Jewish friends who've done something like this every week at Shabbat dinners. Each person cites a "highlight of the week." It sets a tone. For me there is a spiritual dimension to giving thanks. But even from a purely instrumental perspective, there is good evidence that gratitude increases happiness. As the Harvard Healthbeat newsletter reports, a number of studies have tested this. Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami designed a study in which participants were divided into three groups. The first was encouraged to record things that had gone well for them. The second took notes on things that irritated them. And the third just wrote down matters that had affected them for good or ill. At the end of 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. As a group they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than the other study participants.Updated: Thu Nov 22, 2018 […]

  • Truth and Its Enemies: Making Acosta a Federal Case for 11/16/2018

    Question: What does CNN's Jim Acosta crave more than anything? If you said "attention," go to the head of the class. It's a mystery why the White House has given Acosta way more than that. Acosta had his "hard pass" yanked after last week's press conference. (Don't ask who was obnoxious, because they ALL were.) Acosta has literally become a federal case. CNN filed suit claiming that their reporter's First and Fifth amendment rights were violated. More than a dozen news organizations, including Fox, have filed amicus briefs supporting CNN. Even the Trump-friendly Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano has opined that Acosta has a strong case. Mr. Showboat is just where he wants to be — the center of attention — but thanks to President Donald Trump's gratuitous swipe, he is also a free-press martyr.Updated: Fri Nov 16, 2018 […]

  • Who Votes Republican? for 11/09/2018

    Exit polls aren't always 100 percent reliable. For example, in 2016, the exit interviews suggested that Donald Trump would lose Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina by small margins. He won all of them. Let's take it as given that 2018's exit polls are likely flawed in the same way. Still, they are among the most interesting polls because they reflect the views of actual voters — not "registered" or "likely," but the real McCoy. Margins of error we shall always have with us, but they shouldn't stifle all punditry.Updated: Fri Nov 09, 2018 […]

  • Thinking About Anti-Semitism for 11/02/2018

    In the days following the murder rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue, I received several expressions of grief from friends who are committed Christians. One included in her note a verse from John Donne: "No man is an island entire of itself ...Updated: Mon Nov 05, 2018 […]

  • Hyperventilating About the Caravan for 10/26/2018

    A caravan of ragtag would-be immigrants is making its way through the nations of Honduras (per capita income $4,630), El Salvador (per capita income $7,540), and Guatemala (per capita income $8,000) to Mexico. The response in the U.S. (per capita income $60,200) — panic.Updated: Fri Oct 26, 2018 […]

  • Warren Highlights the Danger of Racial Identity for 10/19/2018

    She was mocked as "Fauxcahontas" long before President Donald Trump began referring to her as "Pocahontas," and frankly, Sen. Elizabeth Warren invited the ridicule. She is a poster child for the pitfalls of basing identity on race, and reminds us of the many furies such self-definition can unleash. What people choose to call themselves shouldn't matter to outsiders. If I want to call myself a post-Jerseyite dog lover, no one would care — unless there is affirmative action for former Jersey residents who can't skip dog videos on Twitter. Updated: Fri Oct 19, 2018 […]

  • Why Do We Care About Jamal Khashoggi? for 10/12/2018

    He had an appointment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect some documents he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee — a certificate showing that he was divorced from his first wife. He entered the consulate on Oct. 2 at 1:14 p.m., asking his fiancee to wait outside for him. She did. Until 2 a.m. He never emerged. A number of news outlets, citing Turkish sources, are reporting that Jamal Khashoggi, the former editor of a Saudi newspaper, regime critic and Washington Post contributor, was murdered. The New York Times quoted sources who said that 15 Saudi agents from the security services, including one autopsy expert, entered Turkey that same day on two chartered flights. They departed that evening. The Saudis claim that Khashoggi left the consulate an hour after he arrived and have no idea what became of him. The Turks would like to send a forensic team inside, but the Saudis have refused.Updated: Fri Oct 12, 2018 […]

  • A Word on Behalf of Religion for 10/03/2018

    These have been hard times for American institutions. Over the past four to five decades, confidence in nearly every institution of American life has declined. A 2018 Gallup survey found, for example, that trust in Congress stood at 42 percent in 1973 and dropped to 11 percent this year. Only 29 percent of Americans gave high ratings to public schools in 2018, compared with 58 percent in 1973. Newspapers have lost altitude, too, with only 23 percent today expressing "quite a lot" or a "great deal" of trust in them. In 1975, 52 percent had confidence in the presidency, compared with 37 percent today. The data are similar for the medical system, TV news and banks. The only institution showing improvement was the military. (Small business was mostly trusted and held steady over the decades.) However much some institutions may seem to merit this loss of trust — and we could throw in the political parties as well — a generalized cynicism about our system and, in the end, one another, is corrosive for society. We might want to consider whether our curdled opinions are entirely merited.Updated: Wed Oct 03, 2018 […]

  • Show Trials for 09/28/2018

    Karl Marx, commenting on the ascension of Louis Napoleon, wrote, "History repeats itself: The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." The drama over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation has reversed the order. It began as farce. Protesters dressed in "The Handmaid's Tale" red capes lined the halls of senate office buildings. Senator Kamala Harris behaved like a heckler at her own committee's hearing. Senator Cory Booker invited martyrdom by claiming to break a rule that he didn't actually violate. The Democratic senators demanded documents that might have passed over Kavanaugh's desk in the Bush administration despite the fact that they had already announced their intention to vote against him. (Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons clearly didn't get the memo and conducted themselves as if they were actually seeking insight into Kavanaugh's views of the judiciary.) Then it descended into tragedy. Senator Dianne Feinstein, at the 11th hour, announced that she had referred an anonymous accusation to the FBI. She had been in possession of the information since July but held it. As Gregg Nunziata, former chief nominations counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee outlined in The Weekly Standard, such accusations are common. Procedures are in place to investigate them confidentially, sometimes involving the FBI, sometimes not. But this one was treated as an ace in the hole. Its existence was strategically leaked when it could do the maximum damage. Updated: Fri Sep 28, 2018 […]

  • Kavanaugh in the #MeToo Era for 09/17/2018

    In the wake of the revelation of Christine Blasey Ford's identity, some have suggested that her allegation against Brett Kavanaugh will be handled more sensitively than such accusations once were thanks to the #MeToo movement. That may turn out to be true, but only if at least one other woman comes forward with similar charges. #MeToo gave courage to women, and some men, to speak up about sexual harassment and abuse. It helped to clarify that gross sexual misconduct is not a perk of power. It revived a sense of shame. Whereas for too long, many women felt powerless in the face of this abuse, the movement offered strength in numbers. Once one victim of a brutish man found her voice, others summoned the courage to come forward. Updated: Mon Sep 17, 2018 […]

  • What The Times Misses About Poverty for 09/14/2018

    It's an affecting story. Matthew Desmond, writing in The New York Times Magazine, profiles Vanessa Solivan, a poor single mother raising three children. Vanessa works as a home health aide, yet she and her three adolescent children are often reduced to sleeping in her car, a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica. In the morning, she takes her two daughters and one son to her mother's house to wash and get ready for school. Vanessa has diabetes. Her work brings in between $10 and $14 per hour depending upon the health coverage of the mostly elderly patients she cares for. But because of her responsibilities to her children, Vanessa works only 20 to 30 hours per week. That doesn't provide enough to keep this family of four above the poverty line. Yes, Vanessa gets government benefits. Between the Earned Income Tax Credit and child credits, she received $5,000 from Uncle Sam last year. She also gets SNAP (food stamps), but when one of her daughters qualified for SSI last year due to a disability and began receiving $766 monthly, the family's SNAP assistance was reduced from $544 to $234 per month. Updated: Fri Sep 14, 2018 […]

  • Memo to Dems: Upholding Norms Is a Two-Way Street for 09/07/2018

    Many of the current president's critics on the left insist that they are standing up for norms of democratic conduct and for democracy itself. Some are sincere. Neal Katyal, for example, who served as principal deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration, endorsed Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Liberal feminist lawyer Lisa Blatt penned an op-ed in Politico praising Brett Kavanaugh. Her standard, she wrote, was whether the nominee was "unquestionably well-qualified, brilliant, has integrity and is within the mainstream of legal thought. Kavanaugh easily meets these criteria." But the Democratic members of the Senate judiciary committee have this week undermined the norms of decency they claim to uphold. They have contributed to the sense that things are out of control. Updated: Fri Sep 07, 2018 […]

  • The GOP Is Monkeyed Up for 08/30/2018

    There comes a point when even the most indulgent listener must doubt whether political figures deserve the benefit of the doubt. Ron DeSantis, that means you. In what should have been a celebratory interview after his victory in the Republican primary for governor of Florida, DeSantis seemed spooked by the upset win of Democrat Andrew Gillum, the black mayor of Tallahassee. DeSantis called Gillum "charismatic," and an "articulate spokesman" while also warning that he was too left for Florida. "I watched those Democrats debate," he said "and none of that is just my cup of tea, but he performed better than the other people there, so we gotta work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction." So far, so good. But then DeSantis added "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases bankrupting the state."Updated: Thu Aug 30, 2018 […]