Hey, I’m in Commentary Magazine: Liner Notes

Another week, another column, but this time in Commentary magazine: “The Curious Case of Andy Ngo.” I want to thank Commentary EIC John Podhoretz for asking me to write it, and The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, for hooking us up.

It’s longer than I usually write, but plenty got left out for space, and the piece does not contain my usual copious hyperlinks.

For example, my very first draft, which ran 50 percent over budget, noted this about Portland, where Ngo is based:

“By one estimate, Portland has 54 strip clubs, more than Las Vegas and second only to Houston (a city four times larger than Portland by population). Like San Francisco, Portland’s “smart growth” policies led to skyrocketing housing prices and an exodus of its working-class residents. Some of the city’s massive influx of newer residents are well-to-do; others, similar to the hippies drawn to Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, are less interested in living stable lives.

“In particular, Portland has tolerated decades of sometimes violent conflict between gangs of the far-right and the far-left. In 1988, skinheads recruited and trained by the White Aryan Resistance murdered an Ethiopian immigrant with a baseball bat. In response, anti-Nazi skinheads in Portland formed a chapter of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) and similar groups. On New Year’s Day of 1993, the singer for a white-power band was killed by a member of SHARP. “

There’s even more about Portland in this 2017 piece in The Atlantic, “The Rise of the Violent Left.” I also cut an August 2018 incident in which Antifa brutally clubbed a man carrying an American flag among counter-protesters to a right-wing rally, leaving him in a pool of his blood; the man was a progressive Democrat who had supported socialist Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries. There was also a more detailed breakdown of how the establishment press reacted to Ngo’s beating by apparent Antifa members.

Ngo’s seeming biases are a convenient excuse for the establishment press to dismiss the left-wing violence committed against him. But the article notes all of other cases in which left-wing violence got downplayed in the media, even absent absent Ngo. And in the currently toxic political environment, this double-standard is particularly corrosive of our political discourse, not to mention trust in the media.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

College-Educated White Dems Are an Outlier: Liner Notes

New week, new Federalist column: “How College-Educated Whites Are Polarizing And Fracturing The Democratic Party.” Prior studies suggested as much among Democratic elites, or white liberals. A new study breaks it down further among the rank-and-file. There is a lesser effect, but college-educated white Democrats are an outlier within the party, helping elites drive the party leftward and increasing the disunity within the party on many issues.

Interestingly, while this is only one survey, the results suggest even college-educated white Democrats are less woke on racial issues than the elites, white liberals, or Dems of color. These results may be in tension with the prior studies of white liberals in particular. NPR has a story up today, titled “How White Liberals Became ‘Woke,’ Radically Changing Their Outlook On Race,” which gets around to a story I’ve been writing about for close to a year (ahem).

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

How Hard Are Democrats Trying to Lose in 2020? (Liner Notes)

New week, new Federalist column: “How Hard Are Democrats Trying To Lose In 2020?

Inasmuch as the column is ultimately a dig at Elizabeth Warren, please note that The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, has a case to make for her:

National Review’s Dan McLaughlin disagrees:

I may be somewhere in between. My column talks about swing voters from a policy perspective, but I also have come to believe that policy is “overrated” in presidential campaigns. Warren’s policy problems happen to be on health care and immigration — both of which are salient issues and ones where Warren’s unpopular positions are easily understood.

I agree with Ben about Warren’s populism being a source of her current rise; I’ve even written about it. But if we wind up in a recognized recession before election day, Trump would probably lose to either Biden or Warren. Biden could pitch himself as an experienced hand, talk about how he and “Barack” saved the economy during the financial crisis, etc.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Is Populism the Real Story of 2020? (Liner Notes)

End the week with my latest column at The Federalist, which asks”Do Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Preview A Democratic Populist Crack-Up?” In the tradition of people > events > ideas as what a mass audience wants to read, the piece begins with the two left-wingers in the top tier of the Democratic presidential campaign, but eventually broadens to consider the medium-term risks of populism for the party.

Things got left out of the column, though more for clarity than space. The genesis of the piece was the anticipated (though possibly not happening) conflict between Warren and Sanders. The story about New York’s Working Families Party endorsing Warren over Sanders (whom they endorsed in 2016) caught my eye as perhaps a flashpoint, as did the Democratic Socialists of America lining up behind Bernie.

As often happens, I ended up collecting a sort of cloud of links around this nexus, and it was Warren’s NYC speech that crystallized the thought for me that the role of populism in the 2020 campaign was probably being underplayed. (Odd when you consider how big a topic it was in 2016.) And I recalled writing about the concerns the right had about the (ultimately unrealized) potential of Organizing For America. Putting those elements together, along withe the major political parties declining in significant part due to populist reforms, allowed me to look at that longer-term danger.

The shorter-term risk is enhanced by the fact that the top three candidates’ core supporters have notably different demographic profiles. Getting into that would have taken the focus off my main thesis, but it shouldn’t be ignored by you when thinking about the campaign.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Elizabeth Warren’s Evasions: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist today, “Elizabeth Warren May Have Plans, But She Does Not Want to Discuss Them On Television.” I think most of the traffic today will be going to dissecting the new book attacking Justice Kavanaugh, but Sen. Warren seems like a potentially larger problem in the medium term.

The column is a partial analysis and fact-check of Warren’s debate performance last week, which was effective in attracting Democrats and ineffective in being candid. Plenty got left out for space because her evasions pervaded virtually every answer she gave.

I was particularly miffed I had to cut a discussion of her answer on pulling out of Afghanistan without any peace agreement, because she had the gall to accuse military commanders of not being able to define “winning” in Afghanistan, while having no specifics about pulling out, let alone the possible consequences of doing so without any agreement. Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq without a Status of Forces agreement was a major contributor to the rise of ISIS (and in turn, ISIS-inspired domestic terror), underscoring that even those who support withdrawal (which is a reasonable position) may pay a political price later if it’s done recklessly. Warren also spoke of the need to get our allies involved, as if almost half of the NATO forces in Afghanistan do not come from our allies.

There is also a larger tension between her general non-interventionism and her nationalist trade policies on the one hand and and her belief that we’re going to solve our illegal immigration policies by re-instituting the rule of law in countries like Venezuela on the other. Her most consistent position may be that problems she does not want to address are to be addressed by others.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Whither the Trump Dynasty? (Liner Notes)

My final Federalist column this week asks, “Will President Trump Launch A Dynasty?” And I don’t really answer the question, which is probably bad punditry, but I try to stay away from predictions. Nevertheless, I offer ways for people to think about the question, which has been bouncing around online for the past week or so. Indeed, I was already working this up mentally before it became the cover story at The Atlantic.

I didn’t really leave much out for space, either. I could have elaborated a bit more on what different types of candidates Ivanka and Don Jr. would be, but I figure most people understand that without elaboration.

I also could have included a bit about how dynasties in America are generally overrated, even outside politics. The wealth and income inequality stats on this do not really stack up the way the left thinks they do. And I might have included it because at one point this was looking like a short piece, rather than a standard one. But then the bit about a potential Obama dynasty hit me and allowed me to stay within the lane of politics. I am usually big on having a column structured in my head before I start writing. But sometimes I have to just start writing and let the process tell me how to flesh out an argument.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Sanders and Warren Promote Hate: Liner Notes

Another day, another column up at The Federalist: “Warren Mimics Bernie’s Promotion Of Anti-Semite Linda Sarsour To Campaign Surrogate.” Not quite how I’d put it (the timeline is reversed), but it’s a problem either way.

Sadly, the records of Linda Sarsour and Max Berger are so copious that items were left out due to space considerations, particularly incidents that required explanation of a backstory. For example, Sarsour once wished she could take away Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s vagina. That’s bad enough on its own, but is worse once people know who Ali is and that she was the victim of female genital mutilation at age five. Sarsour was even condemned as an anti-Semite by grunge rocker Courtney Love, but again the back story would have required more explanation.

Similarly, I left out Max Berger’s 2013 tweet, “Confession: I would totally be friends with Hamas,” because the left has reason to pass it off as a joke. But when you look at Berger’s total record, how much of a joke was it? And I left out the sad fact that Warren agreed with Berger’s fellow travelers from IfNotNow about ending “the occupation,” because I felt like I’d have to explain why “occupation” is the wrong term, and one aimed at delegitimizing Israel.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Elizabeth Warren Used To Be Interesting: Liner Notes

Another brief, bleated note, this time about “How Politics Made Elizabeth Warren Dull And Less Electable.”

Longtime readers of this tiny sideblog know I believe that the mass audience generally prefers discussing people > events > ideas. Accordingly, while this piece is nominally about Warren, she also serves as a peg to discuss the difference between orthodox and heterodox candidates.

For a more literal account of how Warren became a dull, orthodox leftie, read Peter Suderman at Reason. It’s an in-depth look at a point I merely touch upon: the idea that Warren’s wonkery is not particularly well-founded.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

Jonathan Franzen’s Climate Doomsday: Liner Notes

My latest is up (in a pleasant surprise) midday at The Federalist, “Jonathan Franzen’s Crazy Climate Rant Contains A Nugget Of Truth.”

Given how quickly it was posted, I’m not in a position to write at length about it now. However, a couple of things did get left out. For example, I considered noting Franzen has had a rough couple of years professionally. I erred on the side of not delivering a cheap shot, though it might provide some context to his extreme pessimism about the state of the world.

Moreover, this is not Franzen’s first foray into climate doomsaying. He previously published a collection of essays titled The End of the End of the Earth, which spent a fair amount of space focused on saving the birds instead of humans. Like this new essay, the left didn’t much care for that, either.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.

The Electatbility Debate: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, “What Is The Electability Debate Really About?” The debate Democrats are having about it is quite different from the traditional debate about “electability,” which usually centers around experience, charisma, etc.

One thing I didn’t fully internalize until I emailed it to editorial is that the debate Dems are having is partly built into how they have been thinking about elections during this century, but also partly influenced by an era where governing experience seems less important to voters. Trump is Exhibit A of this phenomenon, but in 2008, both nominees were senators, not governors. Hillary Clinton was never a governor. And as has been observed by many, Congress is increasingly a parliament of pundits whose members are not particularly interested in building a legislative record. Although being a governor does not fully prepare someone for the presidency, it seems like the trend of preferring those without it on the resumes is probably not a good one.

The upside of realizing this belatedly is that I may be able to turn it into a column sometime in the coming months.

PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter.  Thanks for reading and sharing.