Happy Saturday! For most of the year, if I’m in charge of the remote in our house, ESPN is on. College Gameday for college football, whatever college basketball game is on, SportsCenter to fall asleep to. Now that it’s December, though, it’s often Christmas Vacation. We start at Thanksgiving, because you can’t cook a turkey without someone saying “Save the neck for me, Clark” and carry on through Christmas Day—“Welcome to our home. What’s left of it.”
Even if you haven’t seen it (is there anyone out there who hasn’t? I find that hard to believe!), Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold invited the whole family to spend Christmas. Meanwhile, his big reveal for the holiday is that he’s putting in a pool, but he needs his Christmas bonus to cover the check he wrote for the deposit. He’s increasingly stressed out until a messenger arrives on Christmas Eve.
As it happens, his boss had decided to cut out bonuses. The messenger delivered a letter telling Clark he’d been enrolled in the Jelly of the Month Club, which would definitely not help him pay for a pool. Before he totally loses it, Cousin Eddie tells him, “That’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.”
That movie came out in 1989. Fortunately, gifting options have improved since then. Why spend $300 for 12 months of jelly (it’s a real thing) when you can give someone a year of The Dispatch for $100? (You saw this coming, right?)
We really appreciate having all of you as members and readers. And we’re pretty proud of the work we’re doing. You’ve probably heard our spiel more than once by now, so I don’t want to rehash it—time is short and if you have as much left to do before the holiday as me, you’re pretty busy. But we do think a membership is a great value, and we hope you do too.
So if you’re wondering what to get for your parents, kids, favorite aunt or best friend, we hope you’ll consider giving the gift of The Dispatch.
Now, on to our best stuff from the week.
Jonah has largely been quiet about his departure from Fox News, which he and Steve announced last month. But earlier this week, the January 6 Select Committee released records provided by Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Those records included texts sent to Meadows during the Capitol riots from lawmakers and Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Brian Kilmeade. In their messages to Meadows, they begged Meadows to have Trump stop the violence. On air, over the following months, they sent a totally different message, downplaying the riot and defending Trump from responsibility. Jonah’s response? “Screw it.” He writes: “As a conservative who passionately believes the conspiracy-mongering, demagogic, populist, personality cult nonsense that defines so much of prime time Trumpism is not conservatism rightly understood, or even conservative in any meaningful sense, I felt I couldn’t associate myself with it.”
David also had some thoughts on the texts to Meadows from Fox News hosts. He honed in on a message from Laura Ingraham that read ““Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.” He writes: “It speaks explicitly to the symbiotic relationship between Fox News and the president. In many ways, the Trump administration and (especially) Fox prime time represented a joint venture. They shared a message, a mission, and purpose. Together, they unleashed the whirlwind, and key Fox hosts were with the president right until things went too far.” For more on the Meadows texts, read Chris Stirewalt here, and to understand the problems with Meadows citing executive privilege as his reason for ceasing cooperation with the January 6 Select Committee, read Gregg Nunziata here.
Last week, President Biden hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy. This past week, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin had their own little get together. They talked a good game about democracy, but—as Tom Joscelyn writes—the real purpose was to show the strength of their alliance: “Putin listed the ways in which they’ve become integrated, saying the two nations will continue to bolster their economic and trade ties, including cooperation in the ‘oil and gas, finance … aerospace and aviation’ industries, as well as by working on ‘major projects of strategic importance.’ Putin said he will also ‘promote greater synergy between the Eurasian Economic Union,’ a Moscow-led economic project intended to aid post-Soviet countries, and Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
And now for the best of the rest.
Almost two years into the pandemic, a lot of us are still wearing masks. It’s a hard question to ask, given that masking has become as politicized as everything else, but it’s important: Do they even work? Cato’s Tom Firey reviews some studies and finds that the science is ambiguous. It’s not that there’s evidence of an absence of efficacy. It’s that there’s an absence of evidence.
The Build Back Better Act might be shelved for now, but it’s worth examining what might be included if the Senate takes it up in the new year. Gregg Girvan looked into the long-term care provisions and argues that the legislation doubles down on failed policy.
Should lawmakers be allowed to trade individual stocks? It can create a conflict of interest, or at least the appearnce of one. In Uphill (🔐) this week, we looked at bipartisan efforts to create rules that would limit how members of Congress handle their investments.
It’s Christmas cookie season, so Scott Lincicome is thinking a lot about sugar, and how federal policy distorts the market and creates a whole bunch of other problems.
On the pods: On The Dispatch Podcast the gang talked about–no surprise!–the Mark Meadows texts. Jonah had a great conversation about social justice creeping into medical care with Sally Satel on The Remnant. And on Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah spoke with Virginia’s solicitor general about the Equal Rights Amendment and whether the commonwealth’s ratification means it’s now part of the Constitution. Speaking of the podcasts, we’ll have one episode of all three pods next week, but then we’ll be taking a break for the holidays. Think of how much everyone will have to talk about in January!