Charles Lipson

Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus

University of Chicago

Frequent contributor: 
Real Clear Politics,
Spectator| World, Newsweek, Discourse Magazine, American Greatness, Wall Street Journal

Filters & Sorting

Can Putin ever be stopped?

Vladimir Putin has been the most effective practitioner of Realpolitik for the past two decades. With an economy about the size of Italy’s, and just as corrupt, he has accomplished his most ambitious goal: returning Russia to the status of a Great Power. Now he’s thrown his chips on the table once more, launching a massive troop build-up on the border with Ukraine and sending still more into Belarus (for “joint exercises”), positioning them just north of Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv. Although the n

The little president who cried racism

President Biden’s wisdom and penetrating intelligence sometimes escape him. So far, they have stayed away for fifty years and show no signs of returning. They are often accompanied by wild exaggerations, invented personal stories and hyperbolic attacks on opponents. Examples are not hard to find, and the public is catching on. The latest fulmination came during a campaign-style rally in Atlanta on Tuesday, aimed at supporting his bill to nationalize election laws. Since that bill contravenes Am

The Progressive Logic of Build Back Better--and Its Dangers

“Build Back Better” is far more consequential than the earlier COVID relief packages. That’s why Democrats are so angry at those who blocked its passage and so determined to push it forward. Why is BBB more important than the COVID legislation? Because pandemic relief was essentially a massive stimulus program, with the usual smorgasbord of treats for favored groups, but little more than that. Although BBB is also a massive stimulus, its real importance lies in the permanent entitlement program

Kamala’s bad press isn’t ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’

Vice President Kamala Harris has been quoted as saying her media coverage would be better if she were a white man. She is absolutely right. She wouldn’t have bad coverage. She wouldn’t have any coverage at all. That’s because she would still be a minor senator from a big state, not the second-highest official in the Executive Branch. She was selected only because she has the identity-politics markers so important to Democrats. It should be obvious by now that Harris is a terrible politician. Wh

Why local crime hurts Democrats nationally

Preventing crime and punishing offenders is primarily the responsibility of local authorities. They have no greater obligation to the citizens who elected them and who fund the government. It is up to local police, supervised by political leaders and subject to the law themselves, to provide a safe environment for citizens to go about their lives, pursuing their own goals in peace and security. It is up to local politicians to ensure that police are adequately funded and properly trained. It is

Voters are saying ‘no’ but Biden isn’t listening

Plummeting polls are sending a clear message to the Biden administration, but the president is deaf, dumb and blind to it. And it’s not just the polls. Take congressional retirements. Democrats who chair congressional committees, reading the grim poll numbers, figure life will be a lot more comfortable as highly paid lobbyists than as powerless minority members. They are retiring in droves. Historically, retirements by well-informed insiders are strong predictors of the next House majority. Loc

Why the Border Is Such a Problem for Biden -- and America

The Biden administration is drowning on issue after issue, and many of the bubbles are coming from the Rio Grande River. The problem, which dare not speak its name, is illegal immigration. The administration, its political party, and the mainstream media refuse to say the very word “illegal.” For a while, they called it “undocumented,” pretending the migrants somehow forgot their papers in the top dresser drawer in Guatemala or Haiti. Now, even that bland phrase is deemed too clear and honest. T

Supply chain for dummies: a fairy tale

Joe Biden cheerfully told Americans that most of them are too thick to understand what a “supply chain” is. Naturally, he understands it thoroughly. You can see with your very own eyes how well he has handled it. Since, as Joe said, you must be wondering why so many shelves are empty, I’m here to explain. Following the president’s wise advice, I will use small words and a simple story. Let’s begin in the good ol’ days, not too long ago, when the shelves were magically full. The story begins in

John Durham Is Getting Close to the Jugular

Last week, John Durham’s grand jury issued its third criminal indictment in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. The person who was arrested may be obscure; the news may have been buried after Virginia’s bombshell election results; but Durham’s move is a big deal. It shows that the special counsel’s probe is methodically unraveling a huge conspiracy, seemingly engineered by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and implicating James Comey’s FBI, either as a willing participant or as utterly incompetent bo

Fright Night for Democrats

When a Republican wins in a reliably Democratic state, it’s big news. That’s exactly what happened in Virginia on Tuesday, where newcomer Glenn Youngkin defeated former governor Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin won even though McAuliffe had a well-oiled political machine and high name recognition, and was campaigning in a state Joe Biden won by 10 points only a year ago. Yet all those advantages were for naught. The Commonwealth will have a Republican governor for the first time in over a decade. It i

D'oh Biden

So much has gone wrong so quickly, it’s hard to remember we are only nine months into Joe Biden’s presidency. Less than one-third of the country now thinks America is “on the right track,” according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. That’s a dramatic deterioration since last spring, and a disturbing one, not only for the Biden and his party but for the country. Three developments are driving this collapse in confidence. First, Biden is pursuing a self-proclaimed strategy to “transform”

Trump’s never-ending ‘stolen election’ story damages America

Enough is enough. Yes, there were problems with last November’s election, but they have been litigated and audited for months. We know the outcome. To continue questioning those reviews and continue challenging the election outcome does lasting damage to our country. It’s long past time to stop. It is perfectly proper for candidates to demand recounts, audits and judicial review, as former president Donald Trump has done. We need those safeguards to assure the public, especially those who voted

It's Not the Top-Line Number -- It's the Bottom-Line Goal

The news from Washington is all about back-room negotiations, divisions among Democrats, and their failure to reach a spending deal, so far. It’s an easy story to tell, but the focus on dollars and deals obscures a larger question: What’s really at stake in these negotiations? First, let’s consider the bargaining and betrayals. Those begin with bipartisan agreement to pass a “roads and highways” bill, which will cost over $1 trillion. To pass it, President Biden explicitly promised Senate Repub

The Democrat 'squad' will regret shooting down Israel's Iron Dome

America’s left-wing progressives won a victory this week in their long-running battle with Israel. They managed, at least temporarily, to block $1 billion in U.S. funding to replenish the missile inceptors Israel used to shoot down the latest barrage of terror rockets from Gaza. The funding was initially included in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stopgap spending measure to raise the debt ceiling and fund the U.S. government. The victory was short-lived since House leaders stuck the funding into another

The Stain of Afghanistan Will Stick to Biden

President Biden’s supporters are hewing to one message since the disastrous Afghan exit: “Voters won’t remember it.” That analysis—or hope, really—could well be wrong because the evacuation left Biden with so many problems. None are going away soon. The most consequential is that many independent voters are deciding that Joe Biden is simply incompetent. This “buyer’s remorse” is new, and it’s growing. Although Democratic voters are still backing the president, he is now deeply underwater with i

The Deep Politics of Vaccine Mandates

The debate over President Biden’s vaccine mandates has focused, understandably, on the tradeoff between individual rights to make medical choices and the potential harm the unvaccinated pose to others. That tradeoff is unavoidable. It is simply wrong for Biden to say, “It’s not about freedom.” It is. It is equally wrong for some Republican governors to say it is all about freedom. It’s also about the external effects of each person’s choice. To pretend that tradeoff doesn’t exist is demagoguery.

Joe Biden Marches Through History, Checking His Watch › American Greatness

The most solemn and painful duty any president faces is standing silently, head bowed, watching the men and women he sent to war come home in caskets. He sees the terrible cost of war firsthand in those flag-draped coffins and the tears of loved ones there to meet them. Last week, Joe Biden tried to fulfill that duty—and stumbled badly. When he should have waited with patient dignity for the caskets to be transferred from the plane, he furtively glanced at his watch. When he spoke to the famili

Joe Biden’s victory lap around Afghan defeat

President Biden walked to the White House podium on Tuesday and proclaimed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan an ‘extraordinary success’. He relied on the unanimous advice of military leaders and strategic advisers for these wise decisions. If there were any failures, they were due to Donald Trump. Never in history, he said, had there been such a successful airlift. Of the Americans who wanted to leave, we got out an amazing 90 percent. Surely that’s a success all around, despite the collapse of

The cost of the terrible tragedy at Kabul airport

America’s frantic, confused exit from Afghanistan was a humiliating shambles even before today’s terrorist attack. Now, it is something much worse. It is a deadly tragedy, leaving victims dead and injured and trapping thousands of Americans and friendly Afghans in a lethal environment, where terrorists roam free. There will be a huge political price to pay for this unfolding disaster, and President Biden will pay it. This deadly fiasco didn’t just happen on his watch. It happened because of his

Who Wants Biden to Fail?

Oh, for the days when trolls were mythological creatures, living in Nordic caves. Today, they live online, poking us with bitter invective instead of intelligent arguments. That’s what some of President Biden’s defenders are doing, now that he is struggling. With only a weak defense to offer, most are in hiding. The few who venture out in public have turned to a last resort: trolling anyone who dares to criticize the president. Their favorite taunt is “Do you want the president to fail?” The po
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