Our Best Stuff on Uyghurs, Kyrsten Sinema, and China

Happy Sunday! While I was perusing the news yesterday, I came across an interesting item in The Daily Beast: “Elephant Takes Revenge, Kills Suspected Poacher in South African National Park.” It’s just a brief post that summarizes a longer article from ABC News, and that article is a little tamer, saying that investigators believe the poacher was killed by an elephant but not ascribing revenge as a motive. But it got me thinking, and I realized it’s almost a theme for the week. 

If you read our articles and newsletters even only occasionally, you know that we’re concerned about our polarization and the nastiness of our discourse.  (In fact, I have to be careful not to plagiarize myself from just a week ago.) The extremes of both parties can be loud and demanding and suck all the oxygen out of the room,  making it hard for the rest of us to get a word in. So today I’m going to highlight some accounts of pushback.

Progressives have been enormously frustrated with Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for their refusal to go along with the $3.5 trillion spending package that would provide free community college and universal childcare along with many provisions to fight climate change. I summarize our coverage of Sinema below, but one of my favorite (non-Dispatch) stories of the week came from Axios, which reported on a meeting between Senator Bernie Sanders and Manchin. Sanders has long complained that the spending package is too small and that we should be spending $6 trillion. Manchin is having none of it: “”I’m comfortable with zero,” he reportedly told the Vermont senator.

And in Jonah’s midweek G-File  (🔐), he writes about David Shor. Shor is, to quote Jonah, “an avowed socialist and data geek.” Shor gained a measure of fame, or rather infamy, in the summer of 2020 when he sent a tweet calling attention to a study from Princeton that showed that peaceful protests effect change but violent protests can create a backlash that hurts the protesters’ cause. It cost Shor his job, but he hasn’t backed down. He has continued to speak out about how young “woke” progressive elites are out of touch with mainstream Democrats to the detriment of the party. 

There’s not quite as much to be excited about on the right, but I’ll point to one hopeful moment. The select committee investigating the events of January 6 subpoenaed Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and Bannon has refused to cooperate, citing “executive privilege.” The House voted 229-202 to hold Bannon in contempt and refer the issue to the Department of Justice. Nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes. Granted, it’s mostly the same group that voted to impeach Trump and it would be nicer if the number was higher. But those who stand for the rule of law should be celebrated. 

Thanks as always for reading, and have a great weekend.

U.S. Admitted Zero Uyghur Refugees in Fiscal 2021

We broke a little news Thursday evening: The U.S. admitted exactly zero Uyghr refugees during  fiscal year 2021. The Biden administration has vowed to increase the number of refugees admitted after Donald Trump reduced the refugee cap during his term, but overall numbers are still low. It is extremely difficult for Uyghurs to leave China, and the public-private partnerships that drive our refugee resettlement suffered during the Trump administration, which has reduced resources. But even refugees who made it out and are living in the U.S. for now can’t get help. Harvest and Haley share the story of Tahir Hamut Izgil, a Uyghur poet and activist, who managed to make it to the U.S. with his family in 2017. “Some Uyghurs in the United States have been waiting for asylum status for seven or eight years,” Izgil said. “Although some Uyghur Americans are living in safe conditions and have work opportunities in the United States, many have not been granted legal residency status and they are going through many hardships and anxieties.” 

Sinema Saving Seats of Silent Dems

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been equally vocal and adamant in their unwillingness to go along with the massive reconciliation spending package that Democrats want to pass, but Sinema is the one taking most of  the heat. What gives? Stirewalt dives in. He writes that some of it may be that she’s a woman, and young, and so activists have different expectations of  her than Manchin. But also: it makes no sense to push Manchin because West Virginia has no progressive base to speak of. But Stirewalt also notes that all the attention on Sinema provides cover for senators who might not want to actively speak out against the bill but are also skeptical. And in French Press, David explores Sinema’s journey from “former progressive activist who once famously wore a pink tutu” to a senator who’s drawn the ire of progressives. He writes:  “If disgust at factionalism and identity-based politics is truly her ‘guiding principle,’ then she may well be one of the first senators for America’s exhausted majority.”

Why China’s Hypersonic Missile Tests Are So Concerning

The Financial Times reported last weekend that China conducted successful tests of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile system. Hypersonic missiles, despite what the name might imply, aren’t as fast as traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles but they have a big advantage over them: they can change their flight path while still traveling very fast, making it much easier for them to evade missile defense systems. Klon Kitchen, from the American Enterprise Institute, explores what this means for U.S.-China relations: Whether you want to call this a “cold war” or not, the clear reality is that the United States and China are assuming increasingly adversarial postures toward one another, and this is driving a new technological and military arms race,” he writes.

And now the best of the rest:

  • Danielle Pletka catches readers up on the latest developments in Lebanon, where tensions are high and there’s considerable mystery surrounding the investigation into the 2020 port explosion that killed more than 200 people. Why should Americans care? Because, as she writes, what happens in Lebanon doesn’t stay in Lebanon.

  • In Capitolism (🔐), Scott Lincicome tackles the labor shortage, and he has some bad news. While many issues can be blamed on the pandemic and the disruptions it created, we could very well be looking at a long-term problem.

  • There aren’t many big races in an off-year election, so all eyes are on the gubernatorial race in Virginia. Audrey writes about how, even though GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin has tried to distance himself from Donald Trump, Democrat Terry McAuliffe keeps trying to make the race about the former president.

  • The pods! David and Sarah dig into the report from the commission to reform the Supreme Court on Advisory Opinions. On The Remnant, Jonah and David Drucker of the Washington Examiner discuss the state of the GOP. And on the Dispatch podcast, Steve and Sarah talk to Klon Kitchen about those Chinese missile tests.

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