Reason Roundup

Tulsi Gabbard Pushes Back Against Meghan McCain's 'Assad Apologist' Accusation: Reason Roundup

Plus: Will Wilkinson on "abolishing billionaires," and what's really going on with YouTube?


BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters/Newscom

"Covert regime-change war" hasn't made Syrian lives better, says Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The Hawaii Democrat and 2020 presidential contender has taken a lot of flack for sometimes deviating from Washington's warmongering establishment consensus. On Wednesday, Gabbard came under attack on ABC's The View, with host Meghan McCain calling her an "Assad apologist."

"When I hear the name Tulsi Gabbard, I think of Assad apologist, I think of someone who comes back to the United States and is spouting propaganda from Syria," said McCain. "You have said that the Syrian president Assad is not the enemy of the United States….It's hard for me to understand where you come from a humanitarian standpoint if you were to become president."

It's not surprising that McCain, daughter of a senator who seldom saw a country he didn't think could be improved by U.S. bombs, can't understand the impulse not to police the world. But Gabbard pushed back admirably at the contention that trying to disentangle the U.S. from Syria was somehow tantamount to supporting Bashar al-Assad.

"An enemy of the United States is someone who threatens our safety and our security," said Gabbard:

There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a brutal dictator. There's no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people. There are other terrorist groups in Syria who have used similar chemical weapons and other weapons of terror against the people of Syria. This is an unfortunate thing that wrenches at every one of our hearts. This is not something that I'm disputing, nor am I apologizing or defending these actions.

My point is that the reality we are facing here is that since the United States started waging a covert regime-change war in Syria starting in 2011, the lives of the Syrian people have not been improved.


"We took immediate action," says YouTube. A lot of headlines and angry tweets have been mentioning a YouTube "child exploitation controversy." The Verge describes it as YouTube failing to curb "predatory behavior on content featuring young children." Holy shit.

But the situation isn't quite as horrific (or negligent on YouTube's part) as that makes it seem. The video content in question isn't itself obscene—it's just regular vidoes of children doing regular things. The problem is people in the comments talking about these children in a sexualized way.

That's still disgusting behavior, and YouTube may be falling behind in moderating it. But it's also—thank goodness!—a far cry from some of the worst readings of the situation.

YouTube tells The Verge: "Any content—including comments—that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments. There's more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly."

New York Times


Billionaires per se aren't the problem, argues Will Wilkinson in The New York Times today, responding to a leftist meme that's been gaining ground. "Egalitarian Sweden, an object of ardent progressive adoration, has more billionaires per capita than the United States," he points out. The same applies in other more social democratic countries, too.

"So what's the problem?" asks Wilkinson.

Preventing billion-dollar hoards guards against the bad consequences of…having the best sort of polity that has ever existed? The progressive idea here is usually that people with vastly more wealth than the common run of citizens wield vastly disproportionate political power and therefore imperil democracy and the equal worth of our basic rights. It's a worry we've got to take seriously, but it's based more in abstract theorizing than empirical analysis. Inspect any credible international ranking of countries by democratic quality, equal treatment under the law or level of personal freedom. You'll find the same passel of billionaire-tolerant states again and again. If there are billionaires in all the places where people flourish best, why think getting rid of them will make things go better?

Read the whole thing here.


  • "A quarter of Latinos in the U.S. say there are too many immigrants living in the country, while about half (48%) say there are the right amount and 14% say there are too few," the Pew Research Center found in a recent survey.
  • Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
  • "Federal agents searched the Maryland home of the U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting to kill politicians and journalists in a quest for a 'white homeland,'" reports The Washington Post. The lieutenant has been arrested.
  • "Why would anyone buy legal marijuana when the state is planning to place a $42-an-ounce tax on the stuff?" asks John Crudele at the New York Post, in response to a proposal from New Jersey lawmakers.
  • Whoops: