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Let’s Go Braves

Rob Manfred handing the Commissioner's Trophy to Atlanta would provide the taste of sweet, petty justice the way only sports can.

Baseball is a game best summed up by Yogi Berra’s famous lines—Yogisms. Any true baseball fan can recount a couple of them, and most Americans can recite a few without even knowing the source. As a known baseball hater, Commissioner Rob Manfred can’t recount any of them. If he could, he would know that “it ain’t over till it’s over.” 

Manfred ignited a media storm earlier this year when he perverted his role in baseball and entered the usually apolitical MLB into the election integrity debate. After Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 202 into Georgia law, the MLB moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado. The move was stunning and elicited a ferocious backlash from Atlanta locals counting on the economic payoff associated with the annual game. Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S Travel Association, estimated it cost Atlanta businesses nearly $70 million in lost tourism revenue. Some estimates placed the cost as high as $100 million.

Regardless, the cost was enormous and even caused resident voting rights hack Stacey Abrams to eat her words and express her disappointment in the MLB’s decision to heed her racial demagoguery. At the time, there was much hand-wringing over the MLB’s evident hypocrisy. The Georgia voting-integrity bill featured regulations that were not only standard, but nearly identical compared to the laws in the MLB’s replacement in blue Colorado. Politics, not justice, drove the decision to move the game. But Commissioner Manfred got his pat on the back from President Biden and the praetorian journalists at ESPN. He was surely pleased, and after a week of culture warring, the controversy faded from the news cycle. 

Baseball, however, is a game that marks the time. When America rolls by like an army of steamrollers, baseball reminds us of all that was once good and could be again. So, with the Braves set to battle for the National League Championship, let’s cheer for a good reminder. Game One of the NLCS is set for Saturday in Atlanta. Rob Manfred stole from Atlanta during the regular season. In October, the Braves can repay him ten times over by defeating liberal Los Angeles’ Dodgers and advance to the World Series. 

Forcing Rob Manfred to stand on Atlanta’s field and hand the Commissioner’s Trophy to the Braves in front of a frenzied Georgia crowd would provide the taste of sweet, petty justice the way only sports can. Writing this, I can’t help but have a sly grin thinking of the commissioner squirming as the fans let off a defiantly politically incorrect tomahawk chop. We can only hope for an additional chorus of boos and a stadium-wide “let’s go Brandon” chant.

In a nation where political recourse is hard to come by for the average American, humiliating a progressive elite on national television for his reckless political activism is a chance too good to pass up. So, at least for the next few weeks, I’m a Braves fan. Conservatives and Americans fed up with the politicization of our cultural institutions ought to be as well. 

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Up in the Air: What We Know

The media continue to smother whatever happened at the Jacksonville airport, but public opinion seems unconvinced.

What actually happened to Southwest Airlines last weekend? There’s a lot that remains unclear, but one thing that doesn’t: The media seemed determined to keep it under wraps.

Here’s what we do know. Southwest Airlines canceled more than 28 percent of its flights over Saturday and Sunday—upwards of 1,800 routes—in a snowball of problems which began with staffing shortages in Jacksonville, Florida. Just a week before the flight fiasco, the airline told its employees they had to be vaccinated by December 8 in order to keep their jobs. The Dallas-based company said the decision was due to Biden’s mandate for government contractors, yet Southwest and several other Texas-based airlines have insisted they will continue with the mandate even after Texas Governor Gregg Abbot banned any Texan entity from compelling employees or consumers to be vaccinated.

As canceled flights and stranded passengers added up, rumors spread that the delay was caused by employees and pilots protesting the vaccine mandate by calling in sick. A provocative image of the Gadsden flag flying from a Southwest jet added fuel to the fire.

On Monday, Southwest issued a press release saying the cancellations were “primarily created by weather and other external constraints.” Elsewhere, they cited air traffic control issues, but denied that the operational challenges were due to Southwest employee demonstrations. The Federal Aviation Administration told a Jacksonville paper that the large number of cancellations were “due to a combination of severe weather, active military training in the airspace, and unexpected limited staff at the Jacksonville facility,” but said that air traffic control issues were resolved Friday. Meanwhile, the media obliged the public relations people, reporting press releases and CEO’s statements without a single quote from an effected employee.

As several on Twitter pointed out, the weather and other factors seemed only to target Southwest. Odd. Neither Southwest nor any official statement offered an alternative explanation for the staffing shortages, if it wasn’t due to the mandates.

Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told the New York Times Monday that sick calls from pilots remained at a normal rate over the weekend, and those who stayed home did not do so to protest the company’s vaccine mandate. Yet in a typical day, according to Murray, about 10 percent of pilots are reassigned from the flights they are scheduled to operate; on Saturday, 71 percent of pilots were reassigned, and on Sunday that number reached 85 percent. For this, he offered no causal explanation.

Murray’s union has asked a Texas court to prevent Southwest from enforcing the vaccine requirement, however, saying the mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions for employment. The union filed the request last Friday, four days after Southwest announced to its staff that further employment would be dependent on their vaccine status, and right before the debacle—one of the many reasons the internet rumors have seemed plausible, at least. Hundreds of American Airlines employees staged a protest outside the company’s Fort Worth headquarters last Thursday, too, so the move would not have been unprecedented.

United Airlines, the first to impose a mandate on its employees, put those who did not comply on unpaid leave. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Texas blocked the airline from continuing in this tactic for anyone who requests a religious or medical exemption from the mandate, after the airline was hit with a flurry of employee lawsuits. Meanwhile, Delta remains the only major airline to decline to mandate the vaccine, and instead found a way to profit from the situation, charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month in healthcare.

One news outlet did get a comment from a Southwest pilot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. According to him, the shortage wasn’t an organized protest, but rather a loss of goodwill toward the company after the mandate was announced.

That newfound ill will manifested itself over the three day weekend, not with an organized strike, but with many disgruntled employees calling in sick, or not signing up for overtime to help the airline fulfill the increase in flights typical for a holiday weekend.

Regardless, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly came out Tuesday to clarify that no employees would be fired over the vaccine mandate, making it a good deal less toothless, at least. Whatever actually happened over the weekend, Kelly knows where the wind is blowing.

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Football and America’s Religion

The resignation of Raiders coach Jon Gruden shows us once again what the high priests of liberalism really care about.

Last night the Las Vegas Raiders forced out legendary football coach Jon Gruden after a slew of his private emails containing “homophobic” and “misogynistic” language were leaked.

The story is the same as thousands that precede it. Gruden is just another scalp on the woke culture warriors’ walls. The New York Times is proud of their reporting that brought down the Super Bowl-winning coach. There’s nothing new to these cancellation tactics, and we’ll see the cackling hyenas in the left-wing press pursue more scalps in the near future. This story does, however, reveal the warped moral structure the secular-woke left has adopted to replace America’s Christian tradition. 

The NFL is an unscrupulous business. It has long been an institution that hides the health impacts of football, engages in predatory behavior against competition, and tolerates cheating. Worse, it is a business that tolerates abject criminality. Ben Roethlisberger, Tyreek Hill, and Antonio Brown are all active players in the NFL. Each of them, like Gruden, has won a Super Bowl. Unlike Gruden, they have all been credibly accused of sexual assault or domestic violence. Unlike Gruden, they won’t be pushed out by the NFL. The complete list of active NFL players with violent criminal histories would fill the entirety of TAC’s next print edition. It’s appalling. 

Tellingly, the New York Times won’t be investigating those players or the league that enables them to make millions of dollars playing a sport. That’s not the Times’ job. The charlatans who work for the gray lady are not tasked with reporting on men who harm women but with reporting on men who make distasteful jokes about women. Sexual assault harms women, but Gruden’s language is an affront to feminist ideology. To the woke press and the NFL, the latter is much more egregious. 

The NFL’s Gruden saga is a lesson for the right and for the broader set of Americans who still hold fast to decency. Shoplifting, drug possession, rape, and all other crimes law-abiding people understand to be wrong go unpunished under the woke regime’s policeless dystopia. In this anarcho-tyranny you might even be rewarded with a Super Bowl ring if you’re athletic enough. But thought crimes against the secular catechisms of LGBT tolerance and third wave feminism? Prepare for a public flogging and a scarlet letter. 

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Woman in Charge

Sinema is sticking to her guns, and good for her.

Joining the ranks of bathroom protesters, the New York Times has written a fresh new editorial scolding Kirsten Sinema for betraying the more progressive wing of her party. The onetime Ralph Nader campaign volunteer senator is now “cocooning” herself, ready for a big transformation into a full-blown Republican, according to the Times.

The gray lady certainly picked the right metaphor to describe the transformation from radical social justice warrior to woman, regardless of whether it accurately describes Sinema’s own story. In the process of becoming the butterfly of the smaller chamber of Congress, the Arizona senator has been the subject of countless media attacks, as well as personal ones, because if they won’t join you, beat them, seems to be the party’s mantra of late. Among her greatest sins, aside from defending the filibuster, Sinema has stood between the Senate Democrats and Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which includes a wad of progressive social policy and quite radical immigration changes, to the tune of $3.5 trillion. Amid all this, the left seems determined to break Sinema, more to prove a point than anything else.

It’s unlikely Sinema actually becomes a butterfly; she still votes, by and large, with her party, despite her strong stance on Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package. And yet, the Arizonan has shown some political virtues of late that make the moderate Democrat look more principled than some of her colleagues across the aisle.

Most notably, she has stood her ground amid a storm of opposition from her own party—at least so far. The Times speculated this has to do with appeasing her donors or, heaven forbid, following the wishes of the purple state’s more moderate voters. To which anyone still sensible of the purpose of the functioning roles of our elected officials would respond, “Yes.” That is quite exactly the point. She won her U.S. Senate seat by styling herself as a would-be collaborator with then-President Donald Trump; if those voters’ voices are as loud in her ear as the progressives’, she’s firmly in her lane of bipartisanship by stopping the record-breaking appropriation.

The same goes for the filibuster. Sinema was mocked and derided for her op-ed defending her decision to favor keeping the relic of parliamentary procedure because, she argued, the temporary victory would not be worth the long term loss of keeping some power in the minority party. To end the filibuster is to remove the guardrails, she wrote, and to do so just to ram through once piece of legislation would be bad for the long term success of the democratic process. Republican? Just barely. Radical? Only in the sense that she isn’t hardly, in a party of fringe boundary-pushers.

Sinema also voted to cut defense spending back in July 2020, joining the more progressive wing of her party and opposing most Republicans. (Again, it’s unlikely she transitions all the way to the other side of the aisle, as progressive scare-mongerers have suggested.) Beyond mere bipartisanship, it seems moderating Congress’s spending habits is a principle for her, regardless of who promotes it.

And for that alone, at least, Sinema deserves a respectful nod for sticking to her guns. There’s a lesson in that, if Republicans would take it.

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Republicans’ Big Break Up

Republicans just kicked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce out of the House.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Have you ever had a friend who is in a toxic relationship with a not-so-great person, but the pair just keep on dragging it on and on until the wheels completely fall off. And, once they do break up, you’re finally able to have a candid discussion with your friend about the lessons learned from that relationship, and they admit it wasn’t good for them, the other person, and the relationships they have with their friends and family?

This happened to me just this week, actually. You might know the two involved in this intimate relationship: Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Somehow, Punchbowl News was able to steal this juicy scoop out from underneath TMZ’s nose when they wrote Monday that, after cohabitating for decades, Republicans finally mustered up the nerve to kicked the U.S. Chamber of commerce out of the House… Republicans’ budget reconciliation strategy meetings.

When I informed Helen Andrews, The American Conservative’s magazine editor, that the two had finally broken up, she remarked, “it’s about time.”

Helen is exactly right, because, for years now, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been coming home late with the smell of Democrats’ perfume all over them. They didn’t even bother trying to cover the scent of Bleu de Démocrate, but still expected Republicans to serve them up a piping hot dish of savory subsidies and tasty tax cuts when they returned from their entanglement. Over the past year, it’s gotten brazenly worse.

Just days after the 2020 election, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley did an interview with the Washington Examiner in which he opposed Republican efforts to fully reopen the economy and was fully deferential to Dr. Fauci and public health bureaucrats. “We all want to open things,” Bradley said, “But being open in the midst of a pandemic requires that certain public health measures be taken. It starts with masks. If it’s a choice between mask requirements and shutting down the economy, I would hope everyone recognizes that mask requirements are the common sense choice.”

Such pushes from Republicans to fully reopen the country is a “stance does not appear to be coming from public health officials or hospitals or the medical community,” Bradley added, and suggested that small businesses would be happy to oblige with whatever restrictions the experts concocted to avoid full lockdown. The last point is obvious, as these small businesses have to do what they must in order to survive, but Bradley, and those like him, aren’t supporting small businesses by saying this. They’re offering veiled threats. Do as they tell you to, or we’ll help shut you down.

In mid February, shortly after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce became one of the biggest cheerleaders for the new president’s agenda. It praised Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Covid relief bill, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, and celebrated the Center of American Progress’s Neera Tanden for her nomination to direct the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which ultimately failed. Even more scandalous than that, the Chamber of Commerce defended Biden’s decision to reenter the feckless Paris climate agreement, and made the rounds saying it was open to a minimum wage hike—albeit not to $15 an hour.

In September, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dispatched their legions of lobbyists to win the hearts and minds of Republican House members and save Biden’s infrastructure package. As it is now, the infrastructure plan was being held hostage by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, seeking more “infrastructure” dollars for a number of extraneous social programs. Rather than knocking on their doors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce turned its eyes on 57 House Republicans they thought they could win over.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is progressively becoming more supportive of employer vaccine mandates as well. It has published how to guides for employers on how to communicate and enforce a vaccine mandate in the workplace, and mandates the vaccine for its own staff and visitors.

This infidelity on such key issues may have finally given House Republicans the epiphany that capital and the big business interests the U.S. Chamber of Commerce defends actually hate their voters, and would hate them just as much in the absence of tax cuts for corporations.

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Pandemic Leaders Respond To Power, Not Science

What has happened as of late in New Zealand is a lesson for conservatives and right-populists hoping to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

Nearly two months into the country’s latest lockdown, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern finally acknowledged what every regular person knew a year ago—Covid-19 is here to stay.

“We’re transitioning from our current strategy into a new way of doing things,” Ardern told members of the media at a press conference Monday. “The return to zero is incredibly difficult, and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve that quickly. In fact, for this outbreak, it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases.”

“What we have called a long tail,” Ardern said, which “feels more like a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake.” Ardern then went on to announce that New Zealand would begin to lift some lockdown measures—particularly in Auckland, the nation’s largest city—despite an ongoing spike in cases due to the delta variant. However, the current case spike in New Zealand topped out at 83 new infections in a single day.

In fact, each of New Zealand’s Covid spikes since the beginning of the pandemic pale in comparison to those experienced by most western nations. As it stands now, New Zealand has accumulated just over 4,000 cases and 27 deaths.

When Covid-19 initially made landfall in the island nation of just over 5 million, Ardern’s government acted quickly in an attempt to nip the outbreak in the bud. New Zealand’s borders were shuttered, and just four days after New Zealand unveiled the 4-tiered Alert Level System, Ardern increased the country to Alert Level 4, which placed the country in near-complete lockdown. At the time, New Zealand had just over 200 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

New Zealand’s Covid-19 containment strategy seemed to work. By June 8, 2020, New Zealand declared itself Covid free, as its last active case resulted in recovery and there had not been a new case of Covid-19 in 17 days. As of that date, there had been 1,154 cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19 in New Zealand.

At the time, New Zealand apparently bucking the China bug was certainly cause for celebration. New Zealand became the envy of the world. Journalists from corporate media outlets and Twitter blue checks—particularly in the United States, but in other countries as well—sung Ardern’s praises as a girl boss lady kween and told their readers this is what pandemic leadership looks like. They yearned for other world leaders, not least the evil orange man, to model their countries’ pandemic policies after New Zealand, or at least South Korea.

While the media continued cheering New Zealand on from oceans away, New Zealand’s era of zero covid was short-lived. By June 22, 2020, nine cases of Covid-19 were reported in New Zealand with each of those cases put in isolation upon entering the country. For a time, New Zealand was able to use isolation to purportedly keep Covid out. However, on Aug. 9, 2020, the country announced four members of an Auckland family had contracted Covid-19, despite no known overseas travel or contact with quarantine facilities. In other words, it seems New Zealand never actually reached Covid zero. Covid-19, known for its ability to infect and spread asymptomatically, did exactly that, and eventually yielded symptomatic cases.

Since then, New Zealand has added another 2,806 cases to its cumulative total and only five more deaths.

I’m not presenting these numbers as a form of schadenfreude. If I was, I’d be no better than the corporate media journalists hunting for unvaccinated Trump supporters to shame while they’re on their deathbed. Nor does it give me any source of joy to admit that Covid-19 has moved from a pandemic to an endemic.

The numbers show that New Zealand has weathered the disease aspect of the pandemic very well, which is why Ardern and her Labour Party won by a considerable margin in the October 2020 general election. But, as neighboring Australians are learning all too well, the pandemic goes well beyond the virus. After Covid-19 resurfaced in New Zealand, Ardern and her government continued doing what they could to prima facie return to Covid zero with occasional blips of success. All the while, the National State of Emergency declared back in March 2020 meant New Zealand continued to fluctuate between different levels of lockdown.

The latest round of strict lockdowns have essentially remained in place since Aug. 17, when the country moved from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 4 overnight. Despite going back into harsh lockdowns, cases continued to spike. Alert Level 4 was dropped Aug. 31, but the country has since oscillated between alert levels two and three.

Now, even New Zealanders, who have been generously compliant to their government’s wishes and respectful of its mandates, have reached their breaking point. On Saturday, thousands of Kiwis broke Ardern’s stay-at-home order and protested the government’s Covid-19 containment strategy. The demonstration was New Zealand’s largest anti-lockdown demonstration since the pandemic began, which makes Ardern’s Monday announcement all the more interesting. It wasn’t a new scientific study, revelation, or innovative therapeutic that changed Ardern’s mind about lockdowns.

Nor was it the proliferation of the Covid-19 vaccine. Because New Zealand’s level of Covid-19 infection has been (and remains) low, the government did not start diligently pushing the vaccine until last month. Right now, just over 40% of the country has received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and to completely buck Covid-19 pandemic controls, Ardern’s government says that number must go way up.

Rather, it was a show of will and force by some fed-up Kiwis that finally bent Ardern’s ear. It is power, not science, that our Covid rulers respond to.

The pandemic situation in New Zealand is clearly different than in the United States. The media’s use of New Zealand as a model for the United States’ Covid-19 policy early on was ridiculous then as it is now. But, perhaps Ardern was willing to abandon Covid zero more readily because of New Zealand’s parliamentary system. One of the advantages of the parliamentary system is that it makes politicians more keen to respond to public demonstrations in times of crisis. I’m not suggesting the U.S. should consider scrapping the Constitution and adopt a parliamentary system, but the U.S. has had its fair share of anti-lockdown protests in various states with little such effect. Because Ardern could face an ousting at anytime (although that remains highly unlikely right now), she’s constantly concerned about maintaining her position. In the U.S., where if you elect a septuagenarian with failing mental faculties, voters have to wait a full four years to vote him out, or rely on elected representatives to find a clear and extreme reason to impeach and remove them from office.

Neither New Zealand’s Covid-19 policies nor its parliamentary system should serve as a model for the United States. However, what has happened as of late in New Zealand is a lesson for conservatives and right-populists hoping to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror. The pandemic will never be over until we force our leaders to admit it is.

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Merck’s Money Moves

Merck may have lost its bid to be the vaccine golden child, but the Covid pill might give it a fresh new chance to fill its coffers.

There’s a new drug in the wings to treat Covid, an at-home treatment called molnupiravir. Merck Pharmaceutical’s new “Covid pill” will supposedly be accessible medicine to treat coronavirus infections—not to replace the vaccine, of course, but to be another tool in your tool belt.

The experimental new drug showed promising results in late-stage clinical trials, in which 775 patients who had tested positive for Covid-19, were unvaccinated, and had at least one comorbidity, received the drug twice a day for five days. While 14 percent of the patients who received a placebo instead of the drug were hospitalized or died, only 7 percent of the patients who received the drug had been hospitalized by the end of the 29th day of the study.

While we await further information and studies on the effectiveness of the new pill, it’s hard to ignore the eager superlatives which surround the drug: the only at-home treatment option on the market. The first accessible drug for the elderly and at-risk, since monoclonal antibody infusions require a doctor visit. A medical miracle has arrived on the scene, at last, and only $49.95 per bottle, or something.

Except the only superlative molnupiravir has actually earned is the title of the only politically correct at home Covid-19 treatment. Safety and effectiveness aside—because the results of one study are limited, though certainly promising, for molnupiravir as well as other at-home Covid treatments—this is the first home remedy that hasn’t been mocked, canceled, and disappeared from the internet. Because, well, you know. It’s the repurposed old standbys—and not the experimental new drug—that we should regard with special suspicion. Zinc and vitamin D shortages notwithstanding.

It might be funny, if it weren’t so painful, the way the media have already lauded Merck’s efforts. They’ve been sure to insist you still need a vaccine, but also, Merck is a ray of sunshine in the dark world of this full-blown pandemic that we are still absolutely in the middle of. Another option for symptom treatment is great, sure, but really? Where’s the skepticism levied at ivermectin, for example? Molnupiravir also hasn’t been FDA approved for the treatment of Covid-19, so why is it somehow more promising and not a quack cure? I’m the conspiracy theorist, and have probably downed bleach and horse de-wormer, if I suggest that maybe, perhaps, the motivation for silencing the cheap, known solutions in exchange for a fresh round of pharmaceutical product has more to do with that old crone who is the root of all evil than with saving lives.

The pharmaceutical company, which lost its bid to produce a vaccine option earlier in the pandemic, is already seeking its fast-tracked FDA approval through the Emergency Use Authorization that permitted the use of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. The company expects to produce 10 million treatment courses of the drug by the end of 2021, according to Politico, and has already licensed the drug to five Indian manufacturers to produce doses for India and more than 100 low- and middle-income countries.

And the global homogenous medical state glides on…

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Right Liberalism Loses In Germany

The preliminary results of the German elections reveal how a political party devoted to right liberalism is unsustainable in the end.

Last Sunday, German voters went to the polls to cast their votes in the Bundestag election. The preliminary results reveal how a political party devoted to right liberalism is unsustainable in the end.

As it stands now, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has captured the highest percentage of the vote share at 25.7% and amounting to 206 seats in parliament. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who decided not to run for a fifth term as chancellor, captured 18.9% of the vote. The CDU’s partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), captured another 5.2% of the vote, granting CDU/CSU a total of 196 seats—50 fewer than they were given in 2017. After briefly taking the lead in the polls in the spring, The Greens came back to earth. However, The Greens grew their vote share by nearly six points and their caucus by 51 seats, securing their best ever election result. Alternative for Germany (AfD), Germany’s right-wing populist, Eurosceptic party founded by CDU defectors, got 10.3% of the vote, 2.3% less than it did in 2017, and lost a total of 11 of its 94 seats.

Just a few months before the election, the SPD seemed to be drawing dead with little chance of controlling the post-Merkel years. Polls as late as July 28 showed the SPD was in a double digit hole to the CDU and a few points behind The Greens. Surely, massive rains that caused flooding and other disasters that killed well over 200 people and a series of blunders from Armin Laschet, the CDU’s new leader and a relatively unpopular figure compared to the exiting Merkel, played their part in the undoing of the CDU. 

However, this telling of the election results in Germany is incomplete. For those not familiar with German politics, it’s analogous to the narrative that emerged shortly after the U.S. presidential election in 2016 when the American left claimed Donald Trump would not have won had then-FBI Director James Comey not held a press conference about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails days before the election. This version of the 2016 presidential election ignores policy decisions from both parties, such as “free” trade deals, high levels of immigration, and wars of choice, that hollowed out the American heartland and resulted in Trump’s victory. Chalking up the CDU’s loss to flooding and a poor candidate is myopic, and leaves out fundamental flaws prevalent not only in center or center-right parliamentary parties across Europe, but is also prevalent among some members of the Republican caucus in our two-party system at home.

The CDU was founded in the immediate aftermath of World War II, seen as a successor to the Catholic Centre Party of the Weimar era. In those early days, the CDU defined itself as a classically liberal party with center-right economic tendencies, pro-European and anti-nationalist sentiments. Since then, the CDU has enjoyed fair amounts of control over the country, as five of the eight German chancellors in the post-war era have been members of the CDU. 

Meanwhile, imperializing forces of liberalism have taken a stronger hold over the party’s direction. This has been especially true over the course of the Merkel years.

Over her tenure, Merkel increasingly bought the lie espoused by right-liberals that if the right wants to remain politically relevant in a world where the arc of progress is ever-rising, demographics are rapidly, and religiosity is declining, then the right must dump the parts of their platforms devoted to upholding tradition and cultural values.

Thus, Merkel moved the CDU towards the center of the German political spectrum, and formed coalition governments with Social Democrats for three of her four terms. This shift was reflected in Merkel’s policies over her tenure, such as Germany’s response to the 2015 migrant crisis, the Nord Stream projects, climate change and energy policy, trade and investment deals she struck with China, and her favorable attitude towards the European Union.

Overtime, Merkel changed the CDU into a party for secularism, consumerism, and big business. This alienated members of the CDU’s base like Christian families, blue collar workers, and members of rural communities, which can partially explain the rise of AfD—founded by CDU defectors.

What the CDU lost from its traditional base, it gained in support from lukewarm liberals, which is why Merkel was able to retain power for herself and the CDU for four consecutive terms. But, this “big tent” version of the CDU has proven to be more of a house of cards. Its success, it seems, has more to do with her own popularity than the popularity of the modern CDU platform. Without her, “The C.D.U. is hollowed out: it has no leadership and no program,” author and German political scientist Herfried Münkler told the New York Times. “The essential ingredient has gone — and that is Merkel.”

When Merkel’s name did not appear on the ballot Sunday, the aforementioned lukewarm liberals, known for their propensity to cave from social pressures from the hard left, defected from the CDU by the millions. Two million voters switched from CDU to SPD, and another million defected to an even further left party in The Greens or an even more pro-business party in the Free Democrats.

The election results “ha[ve] raised a question about our very identity,” Norbert Röttgen of the CDU told ARD Monday. Rightfully so.

The great irony of Merkel’s CDU, as with other right-liberal parties, is their quest for relevance ends with their irrelevance. I don’t want to overreact and say the CDU is done for. It’s not. But, when the CDU does return to power, it won’t be because the CDU has rediscovered the importance of culture, family, and tradition—it will be because it finally sheds its pretenses of being on the right at all.

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Terry McAuliffe Understands Our Schools

We handed education and child-rearing over to the state a while ago. Terry McAuliffe was just the latest to endorse it out loud.

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Thus spake Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, in a moment of rare political candor during Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate. The former governor and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman went on to clarify that he’s “not going to let parents come into schools, and actually take books out, and make their own decision,” because that would just be too much for the man to whom Bill Kristol is the “leading conservative in America.”

Of course, the usual round of conservative Twitter types and websites issued their takedowns of the comment, and of course McAuliffe didn’t change course, but the whole hubbub was one of those atypical moments when politics actually gets close to the heart of a major question, and it merits consideration. Why does it really matter that parents have a say in their child’s education, beyond mere prevention of indoctrination by way of critical race theory? Why was this one line so striking?

An honest glance at recent history suggests what McAuliffe is promoting is not avant garde at all, if still inherently radical. Parents have been handing over the reins—excuse me, the whips—for their children’s education and even upbringing for decades, since the creation of the Department of Education told them in a soft, bureaucratic whisper, “We’ll take it from here.” While nannies and tutors are hardly modern, the total subject matter and orientation of a child’s rearing and reading has never been so divorced from the parents and never so willing to flaunt its stateside adultery as in the 21st century. Conservatives were just shocked because McAuliffe actually said it out loud.

We saw a flashpoint in the fight against Common Core curriculum, and again with critical race theory, as parents fought and discovered in desperation how little control they still held over their child’s education. But after each battle, the majority of parents exhaled and went back to work, assuming these big-name issues were lone wolves rather than Trojan horses. Parents have let their children slouch toward an arrangement in which they receive more from the public school system than from themselves—from lunchtime meals, transportation to and from school, and extended childcare before and after hours, to the very structure of the system which can take children from the home at the age of two. They’re never too young to start.

Parents really aren’t involved much at all. Sure, they attend the school functions (though in Fairfax County, Virginia, unvaccinated parents cannot). They certainly send plenty of emails to their child’s teachers, as my friends and family members working in the public school system attest, but these often focus on means, not ends—whether a certain grade was appropriate, if the student should be considered for special education allowances, or making sure the requirements of an assignment are clear. Concerns about pedagogy and purpose are few and far between. But this late in the game, even the parents who want to be involved are barred entry, as Terry says they should be.

The political question is important, because the answer is the difference between a populace that believes in family and one that does not. But that’s just the “who”; the “what” which it determines is whether the children will learn of things like beauty and heroism, or if they will be taught to read all history in terms of personal persecutions and sexuality.

So yes, the assertion that parents should be excommunicated from the schoolroom was outrageous—but it has been flaunting itself under every spreading tree for a while now. What’s really outrageous is that it took Terry McAuliffe to alert us, when it may now be too late.

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Pioneers Over Public Health Officials

Residents of Cody, Wyoming have been able to keep a common sense alive that our nation’s credentialed elites have not.

Breaking news from the frontier! It has, for the most part, returned to normal.

I spent the past week in Cody, Wyoming, at the foot of the Yellowstone wilderness attending a family reunion on my girlfriend’s mother’s side. My main takeaway from the trip is that Americans should turn to the American West and the vestiges of the pioneer spirit to navigate the post-pandemic world. Yes, the American frontier is disappearing, and the parts that remain are much more tame than it once was. But, to this day, the people of Cody, Wyoming, and places like it still retain their dual senses of self-reliance and communal duty to maintain their way of life in spite of the impediments mother nature puts in their path—something our educated urbanites have completely lost.

My girlfriend and I touched down after dark last Tuesday at the small airport in Cody. One of those airports where the clerk who checks you in for the flight also helps guide the plane in and help load checked bags into the hull of the plane. Family picked us up and drove us to the house we’d rented just a few miles down Route 14 that runs through the center of the small city of around 10,000 people. Streetlights and flickering neon signs advertising motel vacancies lit the road and its adjacent buildings.

It wasn’t until the next morning when I would first lay my eyes on the natural wonders the darkness had covered. Cody sits on the Shoshone River at the bottom of a basin created by the Absarokas Mountains to the west, the Owl Creek Mountains to the south, and the Bighorn Mountains in the east. As I strolled through the main strip of town with a backdrop that Hollywood westerns could only hope to recreate, it felt as if I could breathe freely for the first time since that pesky bug from Wuhan, China, began to infect our bodies and minds 18 months ago.

We popped in and out of a number of ma-and-pa shops from ranch suppliers and wilderness outfitters to candy shops and Yellowstone souvenir vendors without wearing a face covering that signaled our adherence to the religion of Science. As we walked in, we were greeted with a “hello,” or better yet a “howdy,” and a big smile. A smile we didn’t just have to deduce based on the way the store owner’s eyes wrinkled. We could see teeth and all, and we were happy to return the gesture.

Remnants of the pandemic were still present. Some of the stores had small signs recommending masks for unvaccinated patrons next to a stand where you could swipe a pump of hand sanitizer and a new surgical mask, and other customers made the personal decision to do just that. But, the decision to wear a mask was theirs, and not on the authority of some far away public health official or a deranged white-wine liberal mother who happens to be shopping at the same store.

And, if it’s social distancing you desire, then there’s ample room to get it all around you. The residents of Cody, Wyoming, and towns like it across the American West, have known this and have taken advantage of it for the better part of two centuries.

During our stay, we ventured into Yellowstone National Park. The massive flora and fauna that surround the geysers, steam vents, and mud pots bubbling with primordial ooze, seem to transport you back to the end of the last ice age. However, by entering Yellowstone, we had also entered a place where the federal government retained complete jurisdiction over pandemic precautions. Posters with icons of people wearing masks hung in the windows of every building to remind park guests that wearing a face covering was mandatory—regardless of how many Fauci-ouchies you’ve gotten in the arm. Many of these buildings were vast in size, and had large, open doors or no doors at all. They were more like glorified shade structures than confined, indoor spaces. Nonetheless, if you wanted that souvenir sweatshirt, you better pull those straps around your ears and shut up. A gaiter also worked as a “face covering” for these establishments, even though The Science tells us that gaiters actually aerosolize the spittle that spreads Covid-19. Thank goodness the public health authorities are truly looking out for us.

Not two years ago, sharing a smile in a small-town store wouldn’t have had such a profound impact on me—or anyone else for that matter. But, in these exceptional times, the average—yet extraordinary—Americans of Cody, Wyoming, have been able to keep a common sense alive that our nation’s credentialed elites have not. 

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