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Juliette Sellgren talks with Phil Magness about an increasingly rare commodity: academic integrity, and specifically about how a Duke University ‘historian’ (so-called), Nancy MacLean, is doing so much to undermine it.

Progressive authoritarianism is turning Gabrielle Bauer – writing today in the Wall Street Journal – against progressivism that she long embraced. A slice:

As the [U.S. election] night wore on, the source of my unease became unmistakable: I couldn’t bring myself to sign up for today’s prevailing liberal movement, which has taken over, both in my homeland of Canada and in the U.S., the left-leaning parties I aligned with since my youth. It’s a movement I call the “new left.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the new left championed policies that jettisoned our most fundamental civil liberties. Whether the measures “slowed the spread” was beside the point: They threatened the foundational principles of liberal democracy and deserved public scrutiny. The new left was in no mood for scrutiny, though. Anyone who questioned its pandemic policies was branded a sociopath and a troglodyte.

Long before Covid, the American Civil Liberties Union understood the hazards of creating an emergency state. “The threat of a new pandemic will never subside,” the ACLU wrote in a 2008 white paper on pandemic preparedness. “If we allow the fear associated with a potential outbreak to justify the suspension of liberties in the name of public health, we risk not only undermining our fundamental rights, but alienating the very communities and individuals that are in need of help and thereby fomenting the spread of disease.”

Thirteen years later, in a remarkable about-face, the ACLU positioned universal vaccine mandates as necessary to civil rights: “By inoculating people from the disease’s worst effects, the vaccines offer the promise of restoring to all of us our most basic liberties.” The message comes straight from the new left’s playbook: Your rights aren’t inalienable, they’re conditional on jumping through government-dictated hoops.

My wariness with the new left goes beyond its Covid policies. For the past decade, I’ve witnessed the movement’s increasingly rigid ideology, which seeks not to understand dissent but to muzzle it. Examples abound. In early 2021, law professor Jason Kilborn was barred from his University of Illinois Chicago campus for citing slurs in an exam question about a race- and sex-discrimination lawsuit—even though he expurgated the offending words with blank space after the initial letters. A few months later, Reuters data scientist Zac Kriegman was fired for questioning whether police shootings fall along racial lines.

Writing at UnHerd, Johan Anderberg argues that “Sweden is Ron DeSantis’s trump card.” A slice:

On the 16th March 2020, Donald Trump entered the White House’s cramped press room. He stood at the podium and looked out over the assembled journalists who were sitting apart in the room, each divided by a couple of chairs.

“I’m glad to see that you’re practising social distancing, that looks very nice,” the President said. With him on the podium stood Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and others who had advised Trump on the measures he was about to announce: “very talented people,” he called them. “We’ve made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now,” Trump said.

From that moment, the U.S. government recommended school closures. Citizens were also advised to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to wean themselves off pre-pandemic social habits. The strategy was summarised on a sign positioned behind the President: “15 days to slow the spread”.

We now know that those 15 days turned into months, then well over a year. The fear of reopening society deprived children and young adults of in-person education all around the world, perhaps hitting the U.S. most: at its peak, the closures affected at least 55.1 million students in 124,000 public schools across the country.

We also know that the actions taken by the Trump White House were heavily influenced by the infamous report from Imperial College London.

A month and a half after his press conference, Trump doubled down on his lockdown position. In a tweet on April 30, he wrote: “Sweden is paying heavily for its decision not to lock down… The United States made the correct decision!”

In Florida, however, Governor Ron DeSantis took a deeper interest in the Swedish policy of keeping schools open and resisting sweeping lockdowns. Later in the summer, he even hosted a three-hour roundtable with two Stanford scientists, Jay Bhattacharya and Michael Levitt, as well as Swedish epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff. According to official transcripts, the word ‘Sweden’ came up 21 times.

Michael Shellenberger decries the “imperialism of the apocalypse.” A slice:

Celebrities and global leaders say they care about the poor. In 2019, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wife, told a group of African women, “I am here with you, and I am here FOR you… as a woman of color.” Why, then, are they demanding climate action on their backs?

George Will looks back on the now-half-century-old effort to ratify the thankfully still-unratified Equal Rights Amendment. A slice:

Although the ERA (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged … on account of sex”) has long been dead as a doornail, it is a useful cadaver. Progressives toiling to resurrect it are expending energy they might otherwise devote to achievable mischief. And they are reminding the nation how aggressively they will traduce constitutional, rule-of-law and democratic norms to achieve their goals, however frivolous.

The ERA rocketed toward ratification: Seven states approved it the first week, 19 within three months, mostly without hearings because it was rightly regarded as a constitutional nullity, a “consciousness-raising” gesture: What would it add to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” for all “persons”? But by 1975, the momentum to clutter the Constitution with pointless verbiage stalled. So, the amendment’s supporters began their now 47-year, ever-more-sophistical campaign to rig the ratification process.

Although decades later they would assert — without evidence, of which there is none from the Constitution’s text or history — that ratification deadlines are unconstitutional, they got Congress to extend the deadline. Congress, whose members are sworn to “support and defend” the Constitution, extended it 39 months — by a simple majority vote. This, even though the deadline was a component of the amendment, which had to pass both houses of Congress with two-thirds majorities. And even though 30 of the 35 states that had ratified it by January 1977 had referred to the seven-year deadline in their ratification resolutions.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board applauds a U.S. federal-court ruling declaring unconstitutional Biden’s autocratic ‘forgiveness’ of student-loan debts. A slice:

Covid is a national emergency, the Administration claims, so it can waive the obligation to repay federal loans across the board. This is doubtful, Judge [Mark] Pittman writes, noting that Mr. Biden declared only weeks after his loan cancellation announcement that the “pandemic is over.”

Judges have often deferred to administrative agencies’ interpretation of their statutory authorities under the Court’s Chevron precedent. “In recent years, however, the Supreme Court has chipped away at Chevron—giving back ‘the benefit of doubt about the meaning of an ambiguous law to the individual’ instead of the government,” Judge Pittman writes.

He adds: “The most recent example of Chevron’s fall is the crystallization of the long-developing major-questions doctrine in West Virginia. v. EPA (2022).” This doctrine requires a federal agency to point to “clear congressional authorization” when resolving a question of major political and economic import, which the loan write-off clearly is.

Because the Administration could not, Judge Pittman held it violates the separation of powers and vacated it. The Justice Department will no doubt appeal. Meanwhile, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is considering a challenge by GOP states to the write-off. Let’s hope one or both reach the Supreme Court.

Writing in the Telegraph, Allister Heath notes about Tuesday’s U.S. election what should by now be obvious to everyone who looks at the results. A slice:

Yet the much-hyped Republican “red wave” never materialised, and the party must now face up to the reality that Trump poses an existential threat to its conservative vision for America. Far from providing The Donald with a launchpad, these elections mark the end of the Trump era. He is finished, even if he is too egotistical to admit it, and will take the Republicans down with him if they allow him to.

The party’s greatest defeats were of the Trump-backed candidates, those closest to him in terms of style and rhetoric, and who, abominably, deny the validity of the 2020 election. Mehmet Oz was defeated in Pennsylvania, Tudor Dixon and Kristina Karamo were beaten in Michigan and it is looking grim for Kari Lake and Blake Masters in Arizona. In Georgia, the mainstream Republican was elected governor, but Herschel Walker, the Maga senate candidate, is trailing.

Trump would almost certainly be routed by any semi-competent Democrat, and could even be defeated by Biden, himself an appalling farce of a president who is wreaking untold damage on America and the world. Yet Trump may be too selfish to care: politics for him is a form of self-aggrandisement, a substitute for showbusiness.

He who seeks revenge digs two graves.