Mona Charen | Editorial
22024
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  • 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 […]

  • Imperial Me for 08/24/2018

    An avid fan of President Trump, she carried a red Make America Great Again hat in the backseat of her car. But when she was asked to render a verdict on Paul Manafort, she voted guilty. Juror Paula Duncan told Fox News that "Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me. I wanted him to be innocent. I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn't. That's the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did." Duncan also revealed that 11 members of the jury were convinced that Manafort was guilty of all 18 counts, but one holdout forced a hung jury on 10 counts. Duncan is a rare spirit in our polarized age. She adhered to values higher than partisanship, namely the truth. Duncan believes that Manafort's criminality would never have been prosecuted had he not been connected to the Trump campaign (which is probably true, but irrelevant to guilt or innocence). She goes even further and echoes Trump in labeling the Mueller probe a "witch hunt." And yet, she would not discount the evidence before her eyes. Updated: Fri Aug 24, 2018 […]

  • Define 'Historic' for 08/17/2018

    Tuesday's primary results were hailed as "historic" by a number of media outlets. "Vermont Democrats made history Tuesday," declared the Burlington Free Press. NPR framed the matter with the same word, "historic," as did The New York Times, ABC and others. Most were pealing the bells for Vermont's first "openly transgender" candidate for governor, Christine Hallquist. Hallquist was born male but now prefers to dress as a woman. Her success in the Democratic primary is being celebrated as comparable to the breakthroughs of African-American candidates. (Here is The New York Times video trumpeting a "night of firsts.") The words "history" or "historic" in the mouths of progressives are always laudatory. They are honorifics, not descriptors. After all, lots of things are firsts — a Holocaust-denying, Nazi sympathizer made it onto the ballot on the Republican ticket in Illinois's 3rd congressional district. That doesn't get described as historic. Donald Trump is the first person to be elected without any previous governmental service. That's not historic. No, progressives have a proprietary feeling about history. They are convinced that it "bends toward justice," as Barack Obama was fond of quoting, and that it will inevitably trend their way. I've always found this an inexplicable fantasy, since among other things, the world witnessed within living memory one of the most progressive nations on the planet (Germany) descend into barbarism within the space of a few short years. Where was history's benevolent guiding hand then? And where was it when those tribunes of history, the Soviet commissars, starved and enslaved and shot upward of 20 million people? Or when Venezuela transitioned from the richest to the poorest country in Latin America?Updated: Fri Aug 17, 2018 […]

  • Summertime Is Puppy Time for 08/10/2018

    "Have any big plans for the summer?" people sometimes ask by way of small talk. I reply literally: "Yes, housetraining a new puppy." Our newest family member is a 12-week-old Labrador retriever mix — jet black from the top of his nose to the tip of his slightly odd long tail. When I phoned the local vet to make his first appointment, the receptionist asked his age (he was then 8 weeks), his sex (a choice of just two when it comes to canines) and his breed. I replied, "He's a mutt." She corrected, "We say mixed." She was kidding ... I think. Updated: Fri Aug 10, 2018 […]

  • There's More Than One Kind of Corruption for 08/03/2018

    When people think of corruption in high places, they tend to think of elites feathering their own nests. Bill and Hillary Clinton monetized political power into a personal fortune of hundreds of millions, and played the system better than any couple since Napoleon and Josephine. Paul Manafort is alleged to have sold his services to sketchy foreign powers (including a Putin puppet in Ukraine), pocketed multiple millions, evaded American taxes and, according to evidence presented in his trial, spent up to a million dollars on cashmere suits and ostrich jackets (being rich doesn't mean having taste). President Donald Trump is defending his former campaign chairman: "Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!" The president might answer a few questions too. Why didn't he do any background investigation of Manafort? His career representing tainted foreign leaders such as Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi was public knowledge. Allegations that he received off-the-books payments from overseas interests were also only a click away. In 2016, Manafort flatly denied the allegations: "The simplest answer is the truth: I am a campaign professional. ... I have never received a single 'off-the-books cash payment' as falsely 'reported' by The New York Times, nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia." That didn't age well. Updated: Fri Aug 03, 2018 […]

  • Can Feminists Cure What Ails Men? for 07/27/2018

    "Boys need feminists' help too," declares Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti. Writing in The New York Times, Valenti worries that while women "protest, run for office, and embrace the movement for gender equality in record numbers, a generation of mostly white men are being radicalized into believing that their problems stem from women's progress." Valenti cites the "manosphere," the network of websites that peddle misogyny, and she's right that it is disturbing. But Valenti undermines her case by citing the popularity of Jordan Peterson as more evidence of woman hatred. On the contrary, Valenti and other feminists would do well to remove their women-centric blinders and examine the situation of young men more sympathetically. Valenti imagines that girls are doing great because when the mainstream culture gets them down, they can always repair to "feminist blogs and magazines" while "female college students who have critical questions about how gender shapes their lives can take women's studies courses." Actually, it's very much an open question as to whether feminist interpretations of life make women happier. In my new book, "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense," I argue that in many respects it has made them less happy. Certainly, polls such as the General Social Survey suggest that women have become steadily less happy every year since 1972.Updated: Fri Jul 27, 2018 […]

  • Putin Speaks Code. Does Trump Understand? for 07/20/2018

    Back when word first leaked that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Russian lawyer and others offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, President Trump seemed to think he was supplying an exculpatory cover story. Flying home from Germany on Air Force One, Trump reportedly instructed Don Jr. to claim that he and the Kremlin-linked lawyer had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." There is apparently some debate about whether that misleading statement places the president in any legal jeopardy, but there is another aspect to the story that has received less attention. It came up again during the Helsinki debacle: Putin, the world's richest man and most successful thief, is obsessed with the Magnitsky Act. In fact, the very mention of Russian adoptions was a tipoff that the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was probably representing Vladimir Putin. Whether Trump knew this at the time is unclear. After all, he could not say what the nuclear triad was and endorsed "Article XII" of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe he thought mentioning that they discussed Russian adoptions was the most anodyne-sounding explanation for the meeting.Updated: Fri Jul 20, 2018 […]

  • What the Cave Boys Teach Us About Abortion for 07/13/2018

    Twelve boys and their adult coach trapped in a dank, oxygen-deprived cave in Thailand riveted the world's attention for two weeks. Why, people ask at times like this, are we so focused on these individuals when half a million Rohingya refugee children are in danger of starving on the Bangladesh border, or when 400,000 Yemeni children are severely undernourished? The answer is drama. We saw images of these particular boys crouched in that cave. We learned of the long odds against a successful rescue — their debilitated health after so many days without food and water, the sharp rocks, narrow passages and nearly complete darkness of the cave, and waters that challenged even experienced divers (as the death of a Thai Navy SEAL underscored). Some of the boys didn't even know how to swim, far less scuba dive. Updated: Fri Jul 13, 2018 […]