Do you remember those commercials for products like Ginsu knives, Slap Chops, and ShamWows? A pitchman on screen or an enthusiastic voiceover guy would extol the virtues of a product whose high quality defied its amazingly low price. And then—just before giving you the 800 number to call—you got a friendly warning: “But wait there’s more!” The offer would then expand: more knives, double the cleaning cloths, a cheese grater to go with your vegetable chopper.
As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve been offering you a great deal all week. You heard from several staffers—including the bosses—about why we believe The Dispatch is always a great deal but especially now. We are doing a limited-time 30-day free trial, giving you 13 months for the price of 12, and you can cancel whenever you want. And we are at the point in the promotion where you might be waiting for voiceover guy to break in and say, “But wait, there’s more!”
Sorry folks. We don’t have any clever gimmicks up our sleeves. Let me tell you why.
We’re not selling the journalistic equivalent of Ginsu knives: a product that looks great on the surface but is just too good to be true. Sure, on the commercial it looks like it can slice through a metal can and and still maintain enough of an edge to render perfect tomato slices. But what shows up at your house can barely cut through a stick of butter. (To be fair, I have heard that the Slap Chop “kinda slaps,” as the kids say.)
What you see with The Dispatch is what you get: insightful reporting and analysis on Congress, trade and economics, foreign affairs, and our perpetual campaign season. Thoughtful commentary from Jonah in the G-File and David in French Press. Wake up to The Morning Dispatch, and by the time you’re through your first cup of coffee you know everything you need to get through the day.
Early on, we did have a marketing campaign where we said, “The Dispatch was made for times like these.” And what a time it’s been: a couple of impeachments, a pandemic, a presidential election that was decided fairly and quickly and yet still dragged on for months. We have a new administration that has struggled to navigate the pandemic and is trying to spend trillions of dollars. I’m proud to say that we’ve risen to the challenge on all those topics and more. And I would argue that pound for pound, no one had better or more in-depth analysis of the Afghanistan debacle than we did.
We bring all of this to you without any tricks or gambits. You won’t see us writing clever headlines to draw you in only to find cheap commentary below. You won’t have to close any popup ads or figure out where the heck the autoplay video is coming from.
We believe The Dispatch is a great value, and also that it’s a worthwhile investment. And maybe it’s not quite fair for me to pooh-pooh the “But wait, there’s more!” bit. Because it’s true we are growing and will be giving you more great stuff. Over the next year we’ll be bringing you new podcasts, doing more members-only Dispatch Live events, and—COVID willing—opportunities for in-person events.
But we’re never going to cheapen our work. We’re not going to respond to every Twitter scandal-of-the-day, or regurgitate what other outlets are reporting just to say we had a “take” on a story.
We hope you’ll give us a chance. Now, there is one bit from those commercials we’re stealing. You know how they always said you had to call in the next 20 minutes? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t true. But in our case, you do need to take advantage of the offer this weekend. So sign up now!
And now, as always, here’s our best stuff from the week that was.
Iran has spent the first year of the Biden administration ramping up its uranium enrichment, building better centrifuges, and dumping on the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency. In return, all we’ve gotten is six rounds of failed talks in Vienna about restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal). And yet, the Biden administration continues to pin its hopes on a new deal. Reuel Marc Gerecht argues this lackluster response will usher in an era in which we have no actual Iran policy, at the same time the Islamic Republic will be establishing a hegemony over the Middle East. He writes: “By 2025, it’s game, set, and match. For the United States, without Israeli intervention and the possibly productive regional disturbance and uncertainties it would bring, we have likely already lost.”
What kind of problems are there with Joe Biden’s (promised but still to be written) plan to have large employers mandate vaccines or testing for employees? Just a few: In Capitolism, Scott Lincicome details concerns over the mandate’s legality, design, and practicality. And that’s before he gets into unintended consequences. He notes that the “100 employees or more” standard is both over- and under-inclusive, that employers are left hanging and unable to prepare until the rule is published in the Federal Register, and that mandating a testing regime in an environment where tests are scarce and costly (thanks to the FDA) is difficult. “It’s totally reasonable, I think, to wish more people were vaccinated and to get upset or depressed at those folks unwilling to do so,” he writes. “But just because something should be done doesn’t mean a federal government of finite, enumerated powers can or should be the one to do it—and especially not by a messy, emergency, unilateral decree.” In a related piece—with far fewer charts—Chris Stirewalt also takes the Biden administration to task for the vaccine mandate, arguing that Biden’s contempt for the Constitution puts him in good company with his predecessors.
It’s pretty obvious that America faces many challenges right now. On the domestic front, we are extremely polarized. On the world stage, we just suffered an embarrassing surrender to the Taliban that will have repercussions for years to come. It’s hard not to think we are in a time of decline. But there’s one specific type of decline that is not discussed as often as it should be, and David tackled it in the French Press: our declining birth rate. Americans just aren’t having as many babies as we used to, and some on the right are blaming “liberalism.” But David makes an important point. It’s not just us. And in fact, it’s not just in the West. It’s all over. One reason for this is actually a good thing: As countries become more prosperous, birth rates decline. Regardless, it’s a shift that creates a whole slew of problems. And governments everywhere have failed to come up with policy solutions that might put the brakes on it. “It is often difficult to discern which social developments are the result of titanic, tidal cultural and technological forces that no government can arrest, versus the product of much more temporary trends that react well to better policy, improved political leadership, or shifting cultural mores,” he writes.
Now for the best of the rest:
Andrew tackles a thorny issue pertaining to Biden’s vaccinate mandate proposal: People with previous COVID infections benefit from natural immunity that rivals that of the vaccines. Should they be subject to mandates?
How are Democrats going to pay for the $3.5 trillion wish list they are trying to pass in Congress? Tax increases. Harvest and Ryan have the details in Uphill.
In the wake of the Afghanistan fiasco, the Biden administration has claimed that Iran has cause to be concerned with the Taliban as they are natural enemies. Danielle Pletka reminds readers that, while there are fundamental divisions between the Sunni Taliban and Shiite Iran, they will engage in realpolitik as it suits their needs.
With its vaccine mandate, the Biden administration makes clear that vaccinations are our path out of the pandemic. Why, then, do we have a travel ban that is based on geography and not a country’s vaccination rate? It makes no sense, argue Oliver Wiseman and Ryan Bourne.
Dropping on the pods: A new book reports that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley went around the chain of command to speak to the Chinese in the final days of the Trump administration. The gang discusses the story on The Dispatch Podcast. David and Sarah have their say on the vaccine mandate on Advisory Opinions. And on The Remnant, Jonah and Ramesh Ponnuru have a thoughtful and thorough discussion of abortion jurisprudence.