Our Best Stuff From the Week That April Finally Ended

We all agree we won’t miss April, right? It lasted for what felt like 100 days. When the month started, empty parking lots and quiet streets still seemed eerie. Now they are normal. Way fewer of us had gray hair—or so our friends thought. By now, almost every jigsaw puzzle in America has been completed, families have exhausted their enthusiasm for board games, and some of us have gotten to the end of Netflix.

May has many advantages over April—some extended good weather would lift our moods and let us trade the Monopoly board for hikes and bike rides—but, honestly, it doesn’t seem like much will change for many of us. Even as businesses reopen gradually in some states, we should all keep social distancing, and we won’t see big events taking place with crowds anytime soon. 

That means, of course, that many young people are missing out on cherished rites like prom, senior trips, and high school and college graduations. My own kids aren’t quite old enough to be missing these milestones, but it’s hard not to tear up a little when I see friends posting photos of their daughters in their prom dresses with nowhere to go, of athletes wearing uniforms for senior seasons that didn’t happen, and so on. It’s easy to say “it’s just a dance” or “it’s just a ceremony with some boring speeches,” but they are rituals that so many of us got to take for granted.

A drive-in theater in our area has offered to host virtual commencement ceremonies for local high schools, playing a slideshow or video presentation of all the students while they watch from their cars. Facebook groups have sprung up where parents can post photos of their kids and someone “adopts” them, sending a letter or card and a small present. I’ve read the posts, and it’s clear most parents are doing it not to get their kid a giant bag of candy or a T-shirt to the college they will attend, but for the chance to tell everyone about their child’s accomplishments.

Over at The Morning Dispatch, we end the newsletter most days with our “Let Us Know” feature. We’ll share an anecdote or pose a question and readers can respond to it in the comments or by replying to the email. I’d like to steal that concept: What are some unique things your community is doing to lift the spirits of these kids who should be celebrating their senior years and making the transition to adulthood?

Now, onto the highlights from the last week.

Doubling Down on Double Standards

It’s obvious to all but the mostly blindly loyal partisans that Democrats and many in the media have engaged in a double standard regarding sexual misconduct claims against Joe Biden as compared with Brett Kavanaugh. Jonah Goldberg raises an excellent question in his midweek newsletter (members-only): In the grand scheme of things, shouldn’t we want the media to investigate claims carefully rather than rush suspect claims into print in the heat of the moment? “If we can all agree that what the media did was wrong back then, is the complaint that they should be wrong again? Should they be living down to the crappy standard they established?” Speaking of “doubling down,” David French also tackled Reade’s allegations, and is dismayed by all of it (members only): “Joe Biden is now confronting the ‘believe women’ movement he helped build. Key media outlets and multiple media figures are now face-to-face with their own, post-Kavanaugh double standards. And, finally, the GOP is left without an arrow in its quiver against the Democratic nominee because of its own profound moral compromise.”

Our Other Looming Health Care Disaster

Much attention has been focused on how our lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have created economic hardship for small businesses and employees. We worry about the plight of those who were already economically marginalized suffering from job losses. But shutting down medical practices and elective procedures have left smaller hospitals and doctors with private medical practices on the brink of bankruptcy. Andrew Egger talked to one private-practice cardiologist in Maryland who paints a bleak picture: “If Congress replenishes the PPP fund and Dr. Barold’s loan goes through, it will buy her a couple months’ grace: the loan rules permit her to put the money intended to pay her own salary toward her practice’s lease instead. If it doesn’t, she’ll be faced with an impossible choice: spending down her own life savings just to get her staff through a couple more uncertain months or closing up shop on the practice that has been the pride of her career.”

Why the U.S. Should Move to Block Iran’s Airlifts to Venezuela

Iran is sending flights of supplies to prop up Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, and Emanuele Ottolenghi of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies explains that the gesture is not just one of goodwill. Not only are there reports that Iran is taking Venzuelan gold as payment, “direct flights from Iran to Venezuela mean that Iran can also leverage Venezuela’s ability to access sanctioned goods as payment for its services. … Iran can rely on vast networks in Latin America, many of which are linked to local Hezbollah financiers. Over the years, these networks have become involved in numerous illicit activities, including money laundering for drug cartels and gunrunning.”

Justin Amash Just Made Things Interesting

Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman who left the GOP in July, announced this week he was forming an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian party nomination for president. Declan Garvey, who did a fantastic profile of Amash in January, looks at what comes next for him. “Although the party has already held nearly 10 state primaries and caucuses, Amash’s late start puts him at no real disadvantage—delegates at the convention are not bound to one candidate or another.” Declan noted that the other Libertrian candidates “accepted him to the race on Tuesday with varying degrees of open arms.”

And here is the best of the rest of our stuff.

  • We know that coronavirus is more dangerous for people with heart and lung disease and other underlying issues. So why is that we are seeing smokers hospitalized at a lower rate than expected? It might be the nicotine. Dr. Sally Satel looks at the evidence … and advises you not to start smoking. 

  • So many fact checks, so little time: This week, Alec Dent examined whether YouTube removed a video just to make President Trump look bad, whether Trump owes millions of dollars to the bank of China, and whether the administration is selling coronavirus commemorative coins.

  • Michael Flynn is back in the news. He’s trying to withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat and his unregistered lobbying work for Turkey. Reports emerged this week that the FBI might have mishandled some of the investigation. David French (members only) notes that the evidence is indeed troubling, but it doesn’t change the fact that Flynn admitted he lied, and he reminds readers that “Flynn was paid handsomely by the Turkish government to try to force a political dissident back to his home country to face almost-certain death.”

  • On the podcasts this week: Jonah talks to Charles C.W. Cooke on The Remnant, and you’ll want to tune in for Cooke’s mellifluous accent (and everything they talk about). On Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah talk about Michael Flynn, third-party candidates and more. The gang talks about Amash, Biden, and PPP on the week’s first Dispatch Podcast, and in the second, Steve and Sarah interview Bret Baier about coronavirus, the presidential race, his town hall Sunday night with President Trump, and the deep, dark secret he shares with Steve from their timing living together back in college.

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Photograph by Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe/Getty Images.

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