1. Juggling with CHIPS, By Dominic Pino, National Review, August 3, 2023, 2:38 PM, Opinion An article in Roll Call reports on how the CHIPS Act is going so far. The headline says, “Officials juggle several US goals as they award CHIPS money.” I’ll say. The story begins: [“]Armed with $52 billion, a team of experts drawn from the worlds of finance, science and technology, national security, economic policy, trade and the environment have assembled at the Commerce Department to attempt to reverse a decades-long decline in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.[”] That’s $52 billion of your money that this “team of experts” is disbursing. If you don’t remember electing these experts to spend your money, that’s because you didn’t. When I think of successful industries in the United States, heavy involvement from the Department of Commerce in deciding how resources are allocated and investments are made does not come to mind. As Veronique de Rugy has written, most of this money will end up going to large firms such as Intel that were not in financial trouble and could have raised capital privately. But fear not, the “team of experts” is on it.  From a national-security perspective, it doesn’t really matter whether Japan, Canada, or the EU — all close American allies — produce semiconductors. But then politicians don’t get to attend fancy ground-breaking ceremonies in front of factories in Ohio or Arizona or brag about “creating” new American jobs. And Department of Commerce bureaucrats don’t get to decide which conditions are attached to grants or ensure the employees have government-approved child care. And who knows whether other countries meet every EPA standard? Juggling is very difficult. The world record for most balls juggled at once is eleven. The jugglers implementing the CHIPS Act are going to have to do a whole lot better than that. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/juggling-with-chips/__________________________________________________________ 2. Remembering — and Missing — Calvin Coolidge, By Jack Butler, National Review, August 3, 2023, 3:20 PM, Opinion One hundred years ago this morning, Calvin Coolidge became president of the United States. The circumstances were unusual but somehow fitting. President Warren G. Harding had died suddenly the day before. Vacationing at a deliberately primitive abode in Plymouth Notch, Vt., Vice President Coolidge awoke and, by kerosene lamplight, was sworn in as president by his father John, a notary public and justice of the peace. Then, he returned to bed, taking a second oath in Washington the next day to resolve any procedural ambiguities. In the latest issue of National Review, Amity Shlaes, author of Coolidge and the chairwoman of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, has a lovely tribute to the reticent president marking the occasion. “Conservatives pigeonhole Coolidge as a kind of pre-Reagan, a Morning in America leader who demonstrated that slashing tax rates promotes both strong revenues and prosperity,” she writes. There’s truth to this perception, but it “fails to capture the scope of Coolidge’s achievement.”   The whole thing is worth reading. To Shlaes’s account of Coolidge, I would add Paul Johnson’s. Coolidge features prominently in “The Last Arcadia,” a chapter in his magisterial history Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties (1983) that details how America remained cheerfully immune to the devolving world situation in the 1920s. Here is a portion of Johnson’s description of Coolidge: [“]Coolidge was the most internally consistent and singleminded of modern American presidents. If Harding loved America as Arcadia, Coolidge was the best-equipped to preserve it as such. He came from the austere hills of Vermont, of the original Puritan New England stock, and was born over his father’s store. No public many carried into modern times more comprehensively the founding principles of Americanism: hard work, frugality, freedom of con-science, freedom from government, respect for serious culture (he went to Amherst, and was exceptionally well-read in classical and foreign literature and in history).[”]  Coolidge is, as Shlaes puts it, a great example of a “a recent president who consistently and successfully applied the Founders’ principles in our modern high-tech polity.” And the idea that what Coolidge believed in and embodied might be obsolete is something the man himself refuted in a speech he gave on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: [“]About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. [”] If it were true that our politics no longer welcomed someone like Coolidge, perhaps the problem would be not with Coolidge but with our politics. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/remembering-and-missing-calvin-coolidge/__________________________________________________________ 3. Hunter Sought ‘Credit’ with Burisma Execs for Then-VP Biden’s Ukraine Trip, Cited Dad’s Speech as Evidence of Influence, By Jack Crowe, National Review, August 3, 2023, 6:15 PM Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer pitched then-Vice President Joe Biden’s official April 2014 visit to Ukraine — and the contents of a speech he delivered while there — as evidence of their influence and value to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, according to emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee. Writing to Archer ahead of his father’s scheduled visit to Ukraine, Hunter argued that they should characterize the trip as the result of their influence in conversations with Burisma executives who would, days after the emails were exchanged, appoint each of them to the company’s board at a rate of $83,000 per month each. Not wanting to set expectations too high, Hunter stipulated that they should make sure their Burisma colleagues understood that they did not have direct control over the vice president’s actions or speech. “The announcement of my guy’s upcoming travels should be characterized as part of our advice and thinking — but what he will say and do is out of our hands,” the younger Biden wrote to Archer, referring to his father. “In other words, it could be a really good thing or it could end up creating too great an expectation. We need to temper expectations regarding that visit.” On April 16, two days after the email was sent and roughly one week before then-Vice President Biden left for his trip to Ukraine, Archer and Hunter met with the vice president at the White House, the Senate Homeland Committee revealed in a report on Biden-family corruption. One week later, on April 22, Hunter emailed Archer comments that his father had made that day while addressing Ukrainian presidential candidates and legislators in Kyiv. “Imagine where’d you be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas. It would be a very different world you’d be facing today,” Biden said during the Kyiv speech, in comments Hunter shared with Archer. “It takes some difficult decisions but it’s collectively in your power and the power of Europe and the United States. And we stand ready to assist you in reaching that.”  As Zlochevsky’s legal troubles mounted, Burisma executives became concerned that the perception of corruption would prevent the company from cashing in on a U.S. IPO. When the concern was raised in a meeting, Zlochevsky, the Burisma CEO, replied something to the effect of, “Don’t worry Hunter will take care of all of those Issues through his dad,” a businessman who attended the meeting told the FBI, according to a record of the FBI’s interview with the informant released by Senator Chuck Grassley. During his next trip to Ukraine, in late-2015, then-Vice President Biden threatened then-Ukrainian president Poroshenko that the Obama administration would withhold $1 billion in congressionally approved U.S. funding unless Kyiv fired Shokin. Biden later bragged about the threat in a 2018 interview at the Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/hunter-sought-credit-with-burisma-execs-for-then-vp-bidens-ukraine-trip-cited-dads-speech-as-evidence-of-influence/__________________________________________________________ 4. The foremost legislative priority, By Charles McElwee, The Charleston Gazette Mail, August 3, 2023, OpinionArticle XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution directs “The Legislature [to] provide … for a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” The key noun in this constitutional mandate is “system” meaning “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done” (such as in this instance, that the referenced schools are to be free to the attendees, and that they are to be thorough and efficient). The adjective “thorough” that modifies “system” denotes that the “system of free schools” in West Virginia must be “complete with regard to every detail, not superficial or partial” and the adjective “efficient” that modifies the “system of free schools” denotes that the “system of free schools” in West Virginia must achieve its thoroughness with “minimum wasted effort or expense.” There have been multiple decisions from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals over the years interpreting the constitutional mandate imposed upon the Legislature wherein the Court has ruled that the directive:

  • Manifests the “people’s clear mandate to the legislature that public education is a prime function of the state government” therefore, we the Court, “must not allow that command to be unheeded” meaning to be disregarded.
  • “Make[s] education a fundamental, constitutional right in this State.”
  • “Makes education funding second in priority only to the payment of the state debt and ahead of every other state function.”

The Court has gone on to say that “Implicit are supportive services” which, undoubtedly would include selective standards for entry into teacher education and teacher-preparation faculties in authorized state colleges and universities. In order to qualify as a teacher in a free or public school in West Virginia, a person must complete an approved program leading to educator licensure issued by the state Department of Education. The Department of Education has approved 18 colleges and universities in the state to provide one of the more traditional preparation programs in order to become a professional educator in the public school system of West Virginia. Ten of them are public and eight of them are private. The approved programs are in terms of grade levels and in subject matter, such as general science, mathematics and social studies. The 18 teacher-preparation programs in the State’s public and private colleges and universities need legislative attention with respect to the number of them, student admissions to the programs and the quality of the programs, including the credentials of the faculty in those programs.  Finland’s success is attributable in part to improving its education system by taking decisive steps over the years, including closing down 80% of its schools of education, retaining only eight universities to provide traditional education programs (and those eight are associated with the best universities in the nation). Note that Finland has only eight universities, compared to West Virginia’s 18 public and private colleges and universities, preparing students to teach in the free schools of the state even, though Finland’s population is well over three times greater than West Virginia’s population. The Legislature in fulfilling its constitutional mandate should also seek to develop a world-class teaching force as will be described next week. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/charles-mcelwee-the-foremost-legislative-priority-opinion/article_5352fc53-8801-59cb-9113-0022d0d819e7.html__________________________________________________________ 5. Here’s Why Congress Won’t Ban Members from Stock Trading, The public overwhelmingly supports this reform, but they won’t vote out their representatives because of it. And so the scam continues, By Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast, August 1, 2023, 4:37 AM, Opinion How is congressional stock trading like the weather? Everyone complains about it. Yet nobody ever does anything about it. Almost exactly one year ago (on July 29, 2022), then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested he would support this reform, saying, “What I’ve told everybody, we will come back, and we will not only investigate this, we will come back with a proposal to change the current behavior [stock trading].” We’re still waiting, Kev. And I’m not the only one who has noticed his lack of action. “Speaker McCarthy needs to put a stop to the culture war nonsense his party is pushing and deliver on the promise he made last year–common sense, bipartisan reforms that a majority of Americans support,” said Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) in a statement. Craig is one of six members, which include Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who signed a letter on the one-year anniversary of McCarthy’s promise, urging him to honor his commitment this week. Keep in mind, this proposed reform is wildly popular. According to a survey conducted in May by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, 87 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats favor banning members of Congress (and their spouses and dependents) from trading individual stocks. You couldn’t get 87 or 88 percent of Republicans and Democrats to agree on Dolly Parton’s music or their favorite pizza. And this survey result is merely the latest in what is a steady drumbeat of support for banning congressional stock trading. On July 19, Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced bipartisan legislation to do just that. If you’re keeping score, (a) the American public overwhelmingly wants to do this, and (b) there is interest in both chambers of Congress and both major political parties. Shouldn’t this ban be a slam dunk for a political leader looking to score a legislative victory? Apparently not. And McCarthy isn’t the first House Speaker to be accused of merely feigning interest in the subject. In December 2021, in response to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio‐Cortez’s tweet saying, “It is absolutely ludicrous that members of Congress can hold and trade individual stock while in office,” then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on efforts to ban stock trading for Congress, replying, “We are a free‐market economy.” Pelosi ultimately caved to pressure from her own party. But rather than embracing an existing bill that might have passed, such as the one authored by Spanberger, Pelosi tapped an ally, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D‐CA), to write a new bill. The results left reform supporters accusing her of opening the door to “fake” blind trusts.“The Speaker has accomplished something I’d have thought impossible,” lamented Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration. “She has produced a congressional stock trading ban I must oppose.” Spanberger characterized the debacle as “a failure of House leadership.”  Fast forward ten months, and we seem to be witnessing another failure of House leadership, at least as it pertains to this issue. Only this time, Republicans are running the show. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?  So how could this change? With all due respect to Democrats like Reps. Craig and Spanberger, they don’t really matter to McCarthy, who only has one real priority: remaining the Speaker of the House. What really matters in the short term is whether a few Republican politicians—such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) (who supports banning stock trading)—makes this a priority for McCarthy. Just as it took AOC to light a fire under Pelosi, only Republicans can influence McCarthy’s priorities. Unless or until that happens, reform will remain merely a popular idea to champion. https://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-why-congress-wont-ban-members-from-stock-trading__________________________________________________________ 6. Conversations with Consequences: Talking Faith, Fatherhood, and World Youth Day with Knights of Columbus!, Hosted by Maureen Ferguson, Ashley McGuire, Leigh Snead, and Dr. Grazie Christie, The Catholic Association, August 4, 2023, PodcastAs the Knights of Columbus convened in Orlando this week for their annual convention, Dr. Grazie Christie talks about all the fruits of World Youth Day and their incredible humanitarian efforts in Ukraine with Szymon Czyszek, director of International Growth in Europe. We also talk with Damien O’Connor about faith formation and building strong fathers and families. Dennis Gerber also joins discussing the incredible fundraising the Knights do for so many vital programs and issues important to Catholics today. Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily to prepare us for the Feast of the Transfiguration this Sunday as thousands are in Portugal for World Youth Day. Catch the show every Saturday at 7amET/5pmET on EWTN radio! https://thecatholicassociation.org/podcast/ep-224-talking-faith-fatherhood-and-world-youth-day-with-knights-of-columbus/__________________________________________________________ 7. EWTN News In Depth: Former Vice President Mike Pence discusses his presidential run, Hosted by Montse Alvarado, EWTN, August 4, 2023, Show Former Vice President Mike Pence discusses his presidential run and hopes for the future of the U.S.   Plus, hundreds of thousands of Catholics fill Lisbon to celebrate World Youth Day. And insights into a food and supply blockade impacting 120,000 people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPTdjLlVBC4__________________________________________________________ 8. Trump’s triumph over the GOP remains incomplete, By Ramesh Ponnuru, The Washington Post, July 31, 2023, 3:15 PM, Opinion Ohio’s government, with Republicans in charge of the legislature and the governor’s office, has cut taxes. It’s a dog-bites-man story, which is why you probably haven’t heard about it. But it’s worth noting because it runs counter to a common claim about Donald Trump’s Republican Party. According to that argument, Republicans are well along in the process of jettisoning their old free-market orthodoxy. Trump buried Ronald Reagan’s party, with its fixation on limiting government and slashing entitlements. Among today’s conservatives, we’re told, all the energy is behind raising tariffs, breaking up big companies and establishing government-led industrial policies. Except, Republican legislators keep doing what they always do: cutting taxes. Alabama is the only Republican-controlled government with an income tax that hasn’t cut it in recent years. It is cutting the sales tax on food and is sending out tax rebates. Five states — Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa and Mississippi — are adopting flat taxes. We’re often told that the Republican embrace of Trumpism has put Reaganism in the ash heap of history — along with the associated idea of “fusionism,” which seeks to pursue free-market and social-conservative goals simultaneously. There is no more fusionist policy idea than school vouchers. Libertarian economist Milton Friedman first popularized them, and religious conservatives have been among their strongest supporters. And now this Reaganite alliance between libertarians and social conservatives is making faster legislative progress in the states than ever. In the past two years, eight states have passed expansive school-choice programs that include private and religious schools. Ohio’s new tax-cutting budget includes such a program. Even Pennsylvania, with a Democratic governor, has come close to enacting one. Republicans’ major victories during the Trump administration also fit neatly within the old fusionist paradigm. Trump cut taxes, restrained regulation and appointed conservative judges. The continuity with previous Republican policies could perhaps be dismissed as the result of Trump’s having been outmaneuvered by old-school Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. But even now, with Ryan out of Congress and Trump well ahead in the Republican primary race, much of the old consensus endures. Some of the advocates of a less market-oriented conservatism think Republicans should go easier on labor unions. Meanwhile, the percentage of workers in unions keeps declining, and Republicans keep cheering the trend — and helping it along. The Republican governments of Arkansas and Florida have, for example, stopped deducting union dues for state workers. Why, then, has the notion of a great Republican transformation on limited government become so entrenched? Partly because Republicans really have moved on some issues. These days, they sound less deferential to business (which also, not coincidentally, has a different political slant than it once did). The party has a stronger protectionist wing than it used to, and it has cooled on trade with China especially. The new economic plan from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis largely sticks to the script of cutting taxes, spending and regulation, departing from it just long enough to endorse new restrictions on imports from China. The purity of the party’s past free-market convictions has also been exaggerated. Reagan-era conservatives were, if anything, more in favor of restricting trade with the country’s main adversary of the time, the Soviet Union, than today’s are of restricting trade with China. Republican politicians have almost always been skittish about reforming Social Security and Medicare. Ryan had to overcome a lot of resistance to get the party to consider such reforms nearly a decade ago. When Republicans shy away from the issue now, they aren’t reflecting a new Trump-era consensus. They’re reverting to type. Nearly everyone in politics has an interest in not seeing this continuity. People who want Trump to have actually turned Republicans into a workers’ party play up the idea of a revolution; so, too, do former Republicans who left the party out of disgust with Trump, and Democrats who want to court them. But the biggest changes in the party since the 2016 presidential campaign don’t have to do with how it thinks about the size and scope of government. They can be found, rather, in the party’s tolerance of conspiracy theories and its view of the importance of character in officeholders. It’s true that Trump’s rise has been sufficiently disorienting to Republicans that they are not always sure what they stand for. But when Republicans act, the old instincts are as strong as ever. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/07/31/trump-republicans-reagan-policies-free-market/__________________________________________________________

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