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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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Big Apple is Watching

Users will soon be able to prove their vaccine status with a QR code in Apple Wallet, but don't worry, this isn't a vaccine passport.

The vaccine passport alarmists were wrong, and thank goodness. Turns out you will not have to carry around a state-issued identification card to prove your purity, because big Apple is already working with big pharma to make a digital one. Praise God for the free market.

About a month ago, The American Conservative‘s Helen Andrews drew attention to a snarky tweet from a senior member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, in which the bureaucrat insinuated a more standardized, coordinated effort was in the works to verify Americans’ vaccine status. A vaccine card is too easily fabricated, some have argued, so someone should find an invulnerable way to verify your status in the new normal world order. We can’t allow scofflaws in the same places as the rest of us.

We’re in luck. Medical marginalization is finally imminent, and at least visibly, the government remains out of the picture. Last week, Apple announced that a pending iOS 15 update will include a vaccine card function for the Wallet and Health apps, presumably in collaboration with health care providers, so restaurant owners can ensure patrons’ shot status is verified by your favorite independent third party in Cupertino, California. The simple update to the software already installed on your best digital friend will allow you to upload a QR code from the physician who administered your shot straight into a convenient and cheerfully-colored app. With your personal, machine-readable code easily accessible from your iPhone or Apple Watch (everyone has one, right?), you can now enter a bar, restaurant, movie theatre, gym, or concert almost as easily as you could in the pre-Covid era. Just scan your digital papers at the door to prove you’re not a moron. Trust, but verify.

We should be grateful, really. Apple is so selfless to look out for our health and safety in this way. They took time out from preparing their 13th line of products for planned obsolescence just to make sure grandma doesn’t catch the flu. Not to mention, as a private company they’ll, by definition, be better stewards of our private health information than the federal government would, duh. The tech companies have reassured us that your personal health information is safe, and they certainly have the track record to prove their definition of “safe” is the same as yours. They’re more efficient, too, which is what really matters. Ah, the beauty of competition.

Some are concerned Apple’s move is the first step on a slippery slope that takes us far closer to China’s social credit system than any sane person would like to go. They say requiring proof of vaccination is a de facto “vaccine passport,” and that once Americans are accustomed to having to present their papers to be permitted in public, it’s a far smaller step to add other qualities—like whether your activity online meets the current standards of political correctness—to the docket that determines your fitness to engage in society.

Such claims are alarmist. This isn’t a vaccine passport; Apple is just trying to help us get out of the pandemic, and we should submit to the minor inconvenience willingly, to ensure we’re all safe. For those who still aren’t sure about the shot, they can simply go to a different restaurant—or state, or job—that doesn’t require them to show their papers. Separate but equal!

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We Won’t Be Fooled Again

They don't want what you want; they just want more war.

House Republican Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney (By vasilis asvestas/Shutterstock).

Over the past six months, Americans have been shocked by the U.S. military’s embrace of the left’s new woke secular religion. General Mark Milley’s comments on “white rage” opened an inquiry, leading to an avalanche of new reporting exposing everything from critical race theory to flirtations with coups in the armed forces. Now, with Congress preparing to forcibly conscript females into selective service and ongoing preparations to rename key military installations across the country, the institution is all but lost.

Republicans are eager to cast the blame for these developments on the left. By doing this, they are correctly identifying the source of the rot. But they are also covering for those who enabled the rot: so-called conservatives who ran for office with socially conservative platforms but used their power to bolster the wokening of the military. 

The suspects are usual. Congresswoman Liz Cheney confirmed the depths of her cynicism on 60 Minutes this past weekend. After reversing her stance on gay marriage, she gave a soft endorsement of the trans agenda. Her significant ideological influence, Bill Kristol, lamented the inclusion of the pro-life movement in his otherwise pro-death campaign just earlier this month. They both, per usual, blindly followed George W. Bush’s lead. Bush officiated a gay wedding in 2015. Never mind his proposed Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a key component to his reelection win in 2004. 

At this point, it is safe to say their opinions on these issues don’t matter anymore. Liz Cheney is condemned to fighting a primary to keep a place in the nosebleeds of the backbenches of Congress. Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard was shuttered after losing subscribers by double-digits in its final years of existence. Spiritual successor the Bulwark is unimpressive and irrelevant. As for the Bush dynasty, their humiliations have compiled. A bizarre fourth-place finish by a Bush in George H.W Bush’s congressional seat has compounded Jeb Bush’s expensive 2016 primary loss. Brother George and co.’s desperate careening for attention on national television reaches new lows every week. Luckily, the expected trouncing of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the Texas attorney general primary will likely end the Bush charade for good. 

There was a time, however, when the opinions of these actors mattered a great deal. Off and on again for 30 years, this crew of neoconservatives exercised more institutional control over the armed forces than any other faction in American politics. Their power mattered, and they used it to launch two wars in the Middle East and enforce woke, liberal ideology on Islamic populations hostile to the experiment. American sons and daughters, largely unfamiliar with wokeism, found themselves ordered to peddle woke gospel between spurts of combat.

The effort in the Middle East would result in the deaths of thousands of U.S troops and millions of civilians and the loss of trillions of taxpayer dollars. It would also result in the launch of a “Gender Studies Center” at the American University of Iraq, the protection of bacha bazi rape in Afghanistan, and a failed attempt to force the values of third-wave feminists on the Mid-East’s population. Colin Powell’s consultation with the Feminist Majority may have only harmed Afghan women. Still, it is providing the last line of defense of the neoconservative foreign policy disasters. No longer a “War on Terror”: The salesmen of war are now selling a battle to liberate Afghan girls

In this, the lust for war has been unmasked. For decades, the neoconservatives assured social conservatives they were the valued third leg of the right-wing stool. George W. Bush took great pains to run to the right of John McCain in 2000, ensuring his primary victory with the support of evangelicals. The Cheneys did their part; Liz’s cynical stance on gay marriage is forever canonized in film. Many social conservatives were fooled into believing them—myself included. We didn’t realize that domestic social issues were just part of the sales pitch. When an early-2000s center-right population was asked to support a war to promote liberty, protect freedom, and avenge 9/11, we were happy to listen to Toby Keith on the radio and support the troops. 

But America isn’t a center-right country anymore, and the war salesmen are no longer selling a patriotic war. Now, they sell a war to teach LGBT ideology in Kabul and defend feminists from the Mullahs. For the neoconservatives, the third leg of the stool was an interchangeable part from Ikea. They’ve unscrewed the traditional Christian conservatives and ordered a sturdier replacement leg from the progressive left. It remains to be seen if the secularists are as gullible as we were.

As for the remnant still battling for outmoded traditional values, it’s time we remember an old Texas (or probably Tennessee) saying. “Fool me once, shame on–shame on you. If fool me, can’t get fooled again.” 

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135 Republicans Want to Draft Your Daughters

In passing the NDAA, GOP congressmen capitulate decency to the War Lobby.

USMC senior drill instructor Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik salutes before presenting female United States Marine Corps (USMC) recruits from Lima Company, the first gender integrated training class in San Diego, their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor pin to officially become US Marines after completing a 9.7 mile hike on Edson Range to the top of a mountain called The Reaper, during The Crucible, the final part of phase three of recruit training on April 22, 2021 at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California. Marine Corps. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

In what’s now an annual rite of passage, the House of Representatives voted to approve the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week. The NDAA is a rare example of bipartisanship; the 316 total “Yea” votes to pass consisted of 181 Democrats and 135 Republicans. That the NDAA is the legislation that commands such bipartisan support says a lot about the defense industry’s enduring power in Washington.

This bipartisanship is not praiseworthy. As Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) wrote in TAC making his case for voting against the NDAA, the Biden administration’s botched handling of our Afghanistan exit alone warrants accountability from Congress. The 135 Republican “Yea” votes are especially condemnable this year, though, considering what the Biden administration has shoved into the NDAA.

The proposal to require women to register for Military Selective Service drew mild outrage from the Right when it was floated earlier this summer. In July, TAC’s Shaun Rieley analyzed why the Right might be ineffective at stopping the effort to draft our daughters. And now, we see Rieley’s analysis come to fruition. The 2022 NDAA, passed last week, includes a provision to require women to register for the draft, with 135 House Republicans lending their approval.

I have two daughters. The thought of them fighting in whatever stupid war our elites concoct next—let alone being conscripted to do so—is repulsive. It’s a barbaric capitulation of any semblance of chivalric obligation among men, to say nothing of considerations of military readiness. A civilized society would find the very proposal offensive.

We shouldn’t underestimate the damage that drafting our daughters will wreck on a society already deeply confused about masculinity and femininity. TAC’s Carmel Richardson commented recently on viral reports that men are abandoning higher education in large numbers. She wrote:

There’s not much left for men in higher education. There’s not much left for men anywhere, for that matter, and one has to ask what reasonable means remain to try to close Pandora’s box.

One would have hoped that saying no to conscripting women to fight wars—a quintessentially masculine pursuit—would have been one of these reasonable means to try to close Pandora’s box. Apparently not.

Conservatives need to make support for drafting women a “red line” issue. We have been remarkably successful in bullying Republicans into compliance on the issue of abortion. A vote for a bill containing pro-abortion measures can be a career-ender in most districts.

Every GOP congressman who voted for the NDAA deserves to be grilled on this vote, and whether they really want their constituents’ daughters forced into battle. For now, the NDAA vote is instructive. The war lobby rules in Washington; its interests are powerful enough to override many sensible concerns about conscripting women. A civilized society requires we resist its power.

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Veganism for the Masses

The elites get the fatted calf, you get the engineered vegetable patty.

The creators of the Impossible Burger just came out with another machine-made meat alternative, the Impossible Nuggets. Produced from a combination of every expeller-pressed seed oil in the books and “natural flavor,” the catchall that leaves a disturbing amount of the faux meat’s actual makeup to your imagination, this vegan protein is, supposedly, better than the real thing. Hence the name.

A review in the San Francisco Chronicle says the engineered nuggets are slightly better than McDonald’s, which, as she points out, is not saying much. The burgers have been lauded as the most meat-like meat alternative, which is also not high praise, in a market saturated with bad options. That doesn’t seem to make a difference for Impossible Foods and its biggest investor, Bill Gates, however, who made headlines earlier this year for calling on rich nations to switch entirely to synthetic beef. He hardly needed to demand it: a flood of burger joints, from midlevel Wahlburgers and Red Robin all the way down to Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, White Castle, and even Starbucks had already added the Impossible patty to their menus the moment they hit the market. The fact that there is significantly less demand for these products than for real meat, as McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski attests, did not seem to matter. (For its own part, McDonald’s added the “McPlant,” which features a Beyond Meat patty, a slightly older vegetable offering.)

Slights about the flavor of the vegan burger and nugget alternatives aside, however, there’s something painfully ironic about the class of people responsible for the majority of the climate problems forcing you to eat fake meat to save the environment. Never mind the fact that individual consumers have never had more than a negligible impact on the climate, or the fact that said green burger likely generates a comparable amount of its own pollution as a by-product of its labyrinthine production. These arguments don’t matter to the elites who are the problem, because they’re going to make sure you own your role as the solution.

Yet no matter how you slice it, real meat is still significantly better for the human body than lab-grown alternatives. By the length of the ingredient list alone, there’s no comparison. The Impossible products rely heavily on vegetable oils, too, which have increasingly been linked to deleterious health conditions, such as cancer. Meanwhile, grass-fed beef is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3s, and only contains one ingredient: beef. Even if we were to view it as a charitable new solution to poverty, assuming such meat will be cheaper to purchase than animal products in the long run (a reasonable stipulation), we should ask then if the side effects of such creations on human health are worth the benefits. Once again, man’s attempts to outperform creation are laughably worse, at best. At worst, well, they’re Impossible.

Gates and the Impossible burger backers’ incentive, of course, has little to do with actual health or conservation, however, as anyone who has read his Old Testament has probably already begun to surmise. Kings eat fatted calves; the masses get vegetables. Capitalism, it seems, has changed the equation only slightly: If you can convince the common man that vegetables are meat, your only competition for that scarce resource is the rest of the 1 percent.

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