New York Times Endorses American Exceptionalism

by Stanley Kurtz

The battle over the College Board’s AP U.S. History framework brought it home to me just how distressing the concept of American exceptionalism now is for the increasingly globalist American left. When I challenged the College Board’s transnationalism and argued that American exceptionalism needs to remain front and center in any proper treatment of our history, liberals objected. And when the College Board floated a bogus fix for the problem by merely inserting the phrase “American exceptionalism” in its framework, while changing little else, the left went nuts.

So imagine my surprise to see the front-page top-of-the-fold “News Analysis” story in today’s New York Times explaining, and implicitly defending, the decision by the Times to publish leaked intelligence material from the Manchester bombing. The headline of the web-based version of this story is: “Leaks: A Uniquely American Way of Annoying the Authorities.” Here’s the crucial passage: “To sum up what distinguishes the United States in a nutshell: It’s the First Amendment…The concept of a free press has been integral to the American idea since its inception. That’s not true even of other democracies.”

Hmm. So how exactly did this uniquely American emphasis on liberty come about? How is it sustained? Can we teach about it? Can we be proud of it? Or should we pretend it doesn’t exist until we need it? And about how long will that work?

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]

Tennessee Free Speech Bill Not Primarily Goldwater Based

by Stanley Kurtz

On today’s homepage, Frederick Hess and Grant Addison have a piece arguing that while state-level legislation is necessary to confront the campus free-speech crisis, such bills are insufficient remedies by themselves and can even be abused by administrators if their application is not carefully monitored. Taking off from the recent passage of a campus free-speech bill in Tennessee, Hess and Addison point out that weak-kneed administrators may refuse to enforce discipline and may apply it unfairly when they do. Hess and Addison conclude that after Tennessee-style free speech bills are passed: “the next challenge is to monitor whether campuses honor these protections, find ways to challenge the culture and blind spots of university leaders, and ask what more might be done to ensure that campuses are bastions of free inquiry and not hothouses for ideological thugs.”

These are important points. It needs to be said, however, that the campus free speech bill recently passed in Tennessee is not, as Hess and Addison claim, chiefly based on the Goldwater proposal. Hess and Addison cite a report from Chronicle of Higher Education which treats the Tennessee bill as one of many “broadly based” on the model legislation I co-authored with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizona’s Goldwater Institute. Yet while the Goldwater proposal may have had some influence on the Tennessee bill, that legislation is in fact quite different overall from the Goldwater model.

In particular, the Tennessee bill lacks critical provisions from the Goldwater model that press administrators to enforce sanctions on students who shout-down visiting speakers, and that set up an oversight system to ensure that such discipline is neither shirked, on the one hand, nor abused and misapplied, on the other.

Of course I agree with Hess and Addison that legislation by itself is only a first step. Even if a bill closely based on the Goldwater model should pass, administrators would have to be monitored, and the broader cultural problems that lay behind the campus free speech crisis would need to be addressed. I merely note that the Goldwater proposal was crafted with these larger concerns in mind. In fact, I pointed out yesterday on the Corner that the Tennessee bill and several others currently being considered lack the Goldwater model’s enforcement and oversight mechanisms, and that this is a problem.

The full Goldwater model includes a provision that mandates suspension for any student twice found responsible for interfering with the expressive rights of others. This is designed to prevent administrators from repeatedly handing out meaningless slaps on the wrist. At the same time, the Goldwater model establishes an oversight system based, not in the administration, but in state university boards of trustees. A trustee committee must submit an annual report on the administrative handling of discipline to the public, the trustees, the Governor, and the legislature.

Since the trustees have the power to replace the university’s leading administrator, and the legislature holds the power of the purse, a negative report could have serious consequences for administrators who shirk or abuse the disciplinary powers set out by the new law.

Trustees will be more inclined to criticize administrators in some states than in others. But in states where trustees whitewash bad administrative decisions, the annual oversight report can serve to focus public criticism of both administrators and trustees. In general, the Goldwater model’s annual report is designed to draw trustees and the public more fully into the oversight process. Of course this vindicates Hess’s and Addison’s point about the need for public to stay watchful lest administrators shirk or abuse their powers. My point is simply that the Goldwater model anticipates this need and includes mechanisms to encourage it. The Tennessee bill cited by Hess and Addison, however, lacks these mechanisms precisely because it is not closely based on the Goldwater proposal.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]

Trump in Europe, Festivus in May

Gianforte Wins, Continuing GOP Stranglehold on Montana House Seat

by Jim Geraghty

Two servings from the last Morning Jolt until Tuesday:

Gianforte Wins, Continuing GOP Stranglehold on Montana House Seat

Republican Greg Gianforte won the special U.S. House election last night, and… er… body-slammed the competition?

Addressing supporters, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he had an altercation with, as well as other journalists who witnessed the event. He also apologized to Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

… Democrats viewed the seat as one they could possibly flip, and Republicans grew more wary as the race wore on that they might not be able to find a path to victory in a state that’s generally viewed as red but has a strong independent streak.

Jeremy Johnson, a professor at Carroll College in Helena, said Quist under-performed in key swing counties of Cascade and Yellowstone.

“Many of the strong Republican rural counties stayed strongly Republican, although Democrats had hoped a non-politician identified with rural Montana could make inroads,” he said.

The Missoulan newspaper offers a photo of a young voter with the caption: “Cherokee Nevin arrives at the Gallatin County Courthouse to drop off her vote for [Democrat] Rob Quist as voters go to the polls in Bozeman. Nevin didn’t know about the assault charge against Greg Gianforte and said, “I’m not a big fan of capitalism.’”

No matter how big the news is, and no matter how extensively it’s covered in print, on radio, on television and on the Internet, some voters are just unreachable in that last twenty-hour period until Election Day.

The good news for Democrats: Donald Trump’s presidency is off to a stumbling start with no major pieces of legislation signed into law. The Trump administration is constantly surrounded by controversy and allegations of scandal, extraordinarily hostile coverage from the media, and low approval ratings. The polling in Virginia’s gubernatorial election looks good, as does the polling on congressional generic ballot.

In the special House elections so far this year, Democrats outperformed their 2016 finishes by 23 points in Kansas, ten points in the first round of voting in Georgia, and ten points in Montana.

The bad news for Democrats: They still haven’t, you know, won anything at the Congressional level. The political world doesn’t gift-wrap twists of fate like Gianforte’s last minute assault charge often, and they still couldn’t turn that into a win.

Yes, they flipped a seat in the New York state assembly and in New Hampshire’s state House. Yes, they still have a decent shot at the runoff in Georgia. But Democrats have good reason for frustration. When does this combination of energized Left and flawed GOP candidates translate into an actual electoral victory?

‘There Is Total Weirdness Out There.’

“There is total weirdness out there,” Rep. Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina said. “And, like I said, he’s unearthed some demons, and people can feel like if the president of the United States can say anything to anybody at any time than I guess I can too, and that is a very, very dangerous phenomenon.”

Allahpundit scoffs at the idea that Trump has somehow created the impression it’s okay to assault people out of differing political beliefs or inspired Gianforte to attack a reporter.

The Gianforte incident is shocking because it’s unusual. Candidates don’t behave this way, even in the age of Trump; Trump hasn’t behaved this way, despite his endless kabuki theater about hating the media. It’s a strange “climate” that affects so few people.

Question: If Trump has normalized behavior like this, why did Team Gianforte rush out a whitewash account of what happened that made it sound like he was merely defending himself from the reporter and was dragged to the ground as the reporter fell? Gianforte’s spin is proof that he doesn’t think “if the president of the United States can say anything to anyone at any time then I guess I can too.” You can hate candidate Trump’s loathsome wink-wink incitements to violence at rallies last year without blaming him every time some guy snaps, which is what it sounds like happened to Gianforte yesterday. Not calculation, not grandstanding for the benefit of media-hating Republican voters. He snapped, and he was sufficiently embarrassed about it afterward to have tried in a half-assed way to cover it up.

Let me offer a qualified defense of Sanford’s point. Put Trump’s shameless misbehavior atop the mountain of bad behavior, lies, untruths and misdeeds by societal leaders we’ve seen in the past decades. Take your pick: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” the revelation that Iraq did not have the WMD program that American intelligence expected, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal, Enron, Bernie Madoff, Jerry Sandusky, Bill Cosby, the toxic asset derivatives and the Great Recession, the VA leaving veterans dying waiting for care, telling the grieving father of a slain Navy SEAL, “we will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted”… It has not been hard to find authority figures acting irresponsibly, abusing their authority, and escaping appropriate consequence.

How many people look at all that and ask, “if they can do it, why can’t I?” Why did the argument that Trump’s character disqualified himself from the presidency fall so flat in 2016? Is it because we’ve seen so much bad behavior from other leaders in society that Trump doesn’t seem like such a dramatic step down in character? Have we decided to stop looking for good character in leaders? If they’re all SOBs, there’s no shame in supporting an SOB.

Or look to other comments from Sanford Thursday:

“Shame actually has a place in a civilized society. Remorse has a place in a civilized society,” he said, “because it causes people to rethink what they did and hopefully broach future problems in different ways. You can’t have a remorseless society and that is the problem of the president saying, ‘There are no moments over which I have remorse.’ “

“The fact of the matter is, the normal human existence is filled with many points you wish you could do over,” Sanford said. “There are some trend lines here that we should all find discouraging, or frightening … I’ve seen demons unearthed.”

Yes, Mark Sanford is far from the perfect messenger for the message that shame and remorse needs to play a larger role in how we make decisions. Then again, who is?

On and from Russia, Straight Talk

by Jay Nordlinger

Vladimir Kara-Murza is the Russian democracy leader who was poisoned. Twice. Twice, he was near death, and twice, he came back. And he is still at it: still pressing for democracy in Russia. He is exceptionally brave.

I wrote about him earlier this year in a three-part series: I, II, and III.

This week, he was at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway. I sat down for a podcast with him, a Q&A, here. We talked about some vital issues: Putin, Russia, the West, “fake news,” and so on. From Kara-Murza, you will get eloquent talk, and erudite talk, for he is deeply knowledgeable, and an intellectual. But you will also get straight talk — straight talk from someone who has put his neck on the line.

Extraordinary. Again, here.

Will No One Rid Me of These Turbulent Immigration Restrictionists?

by Mark Krikorian

In the under-appreciated film “Bowfinger” one of Eddie Murphy’s characters is a paranoid movie-star nitwit who meticulously combs through a proposed script to count the number of times the letter K is used:

Kit: The letter K appears in this script 1,456 times. That’s perfectly divisible by 3.

Freddy: So what? So what you saying?

Kit: What am I saying? KKK appears in this script 486 times!

This was my first thought when I read the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest screed attacking my organization, the Center for Immigration Studies. But rather than simply counting the Ks in my name, the SPLC’s Inspector Javerts spent what must have been weeks combing through hundreds of weekly CIS roundups of immigration-related commentary from all sides. Then they researched the hundreds of columnists and bloggers whose pieces had been included – investigating their personal lives and statements in other articles – in order to find objectionable material (some of it anti-Semitic), which we are then somehow responsible for. This is proof that we’re a “hate group.”

Interestingly, the SPLC didn’t do a similar background check on all the pro-amnesty, open-borders authors who were also linked. For instance, our most recent email included a New York Times op-ed by a progressive Austin city councilman (I’d love to see what he’s said elsewhere), a piece from the New York Daily News by some lefty politicians, and other pieces from Cato, Reason, and The Intercept.

Not that it matters, since the roundup – the opinion counterpart to a roundup of academic journal articles, government reports, and the like – is an educational exercise intended to present the range of commentary on immigration. There’s a lot on Vdare.com, for instance that I don’t like (inclusion of their links was the first thing the SPLC gumshoes sputtered about), but it publishes on immigration all the time and to exclude them because the Ministry of Truth disapproves would be to offer a false picture to readers.

As an aside, I love the photo of me they used to illustrate my badness; I can almost hear Homer Simpson saying, “Listen to the music! He’s evil!

SPLC hit list

But there’s a serious point here. The SPLC’s “hate group” designation is obviously part of a blacklist campaign, as I wrote in the Washington Post a while back. But the frequency of violence directed against the SPLC’s targets means it’s no longer just a tool of intimidation – it’s a literal hit list. And by now the SPLC knows it’s a hit list; it might as well be titled, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent immigration restrictionist?” After the armed attack on the Family Research Council, the assaults and attempted assaults against Charles Murray and Heather Mac Donald and Milo what’s-his-name, and the recent poisoning of Robert Spencer (of Jihad Watch fame, whom Jeremy Carl wrote about here the other day), the SPLC can no longer claim innocence.

I have always been inclined to agree with Charlie Cooke’s contention that we shouldn’t blame the acts of crazies on the responsible participants in political debate. But the SPLC is no longer a responsible actor. There will, of course, always be the demented and the fanatic who will commit evil to promote their ends, whether on abortion or guns or immigration.

But the left’s virtual monopoly of the prestige media, that media’s uncritical promotion of the SPLC as legitimate, and leftists foot soldiers’ proven record of taking their cues from the SPLC’s ”hate group” hit list mean that inclusion represents a physical threat to the safety of those listed. As Carl quoted Robert Spencer saying about his poisoning, “[t]he lesson I learned was that media demonization of those who dissent from the leftist line is a direct incitement to violence.”

I’ve received only one death threat so far, but the SPLC issued the hit on CIS only a few months ago. I anticipate more.

Friday links

by debbywitt

Hottest chili pepper in the world accidentally created by Welsh farmer.

Why Flamingos Are More Stable on One Leg Than Two.

How Model Trains Transformed From Cutting-Edge to Quaint.

If meat eaters acted like vegans.

If a T-rex were released in New York City, how many humans/day would it need to consume to get its needed calorie intake?

The Debuts and Early Performances of 20 Future Stars.

ICYMI, Thursday’s links are here, and include typewriter evolution, the un-edited photos from which classic pin-up girl paintings were made, why thinking in the shower is effective, and for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans, Towel Day.

Public Shaming Isn’t the Way to Deal With Teen Pregnancy

by Ericka Andersen

Maddi Runkles is an 18-year-old student at a Christian high school that refuses to allow her to walk in graduation because she’s pregnant. The story has made national news and many in the pro-life movement have chosen to support Maddi’s fight against the school’s decision. The school, Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, claims Maddi is being punished for breaking a pledge she signed not to engage in immoral behavior. However, Maddi says she has already been punished by being removed from leadership positions like student council — and the ability to walk at graduation is taking it too far. She also told Fox News that when other students have broken the pledge — for other “immoral” actions — they were not punished to this extent: 

“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year. The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me.”

While some have argued that Maddi should have to “suffer the consequences” of her actions, not everything is black and white. In this case, the school should be considering how their public shaming of a student might effect other students in the future. Had Maddi not gotten pregnant or instead, chosen abortion, no one would have been the wiser to her broken pledge. She’d have been allowed to walk in graduation, as are any other students in the class who have had sex before marriage that did not result in pregnancy. 

It is important for students to be held accountable but the school is walking on thin ice here, by showing students they will be publicly shamed for choosing life. Do we really want to provide incentive for teenagers to choose abortion? Like so many who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy, Maddi is vulnerable and needs love, grace and support — and we, as pro-lifers, should want more women to feel they have that in these situations.

Corbyn Draws Closer

by Andrew Stuttaford

First Brexit, then Trump, then….

Corbyn?

The latest opinion polls from Britain make unnerving reading.

The Independent:

Labour has slashed the Conservatives’ lead in the polls to just five points, the latest YouGov/Times results show. The party has made consistent gains in recent weeks as leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed his message was finally getting through to voters.

The results show a four point change since last week when the Tories were leading by nine percentage points – the first time Labour had narrowed the gap to single figures since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April.

The latest poll comes after the Prime Minister made an unprecedented U-turn over her “dementia tax” plans, just four days after making them the centrepiece of her election manifesto.

A separate poll, conducted after the Tory manifesto launch, found 28 per cent of voters said they were less likely to vote Conservative because of the social care package [the dementia tax, which I wrote about on this Corner here, here and here was part of that package].

There was plenty that was wrong about the dementia tax (it wasn’t actually a tax, but the shorthand will do, and for a few days at least, it did for the Tories) as a matter of policy. But as a matter of politics it seemed almost suicidal, threatening as it did the over-65s, voters who turn out in large numbers and who, at the time the election was called, heavily favored the Conservatives.

It was also a ‘tax’ almost tailor-made to revive old fears about the Tories as the ‘nasty party’ (a phrase, ironically, coined by Mrs. May many years ago in a somewhat broader context) not fit to be trusted with managing the nation’s healthcare.

It’s easy enough to put together an argument that those fears are unfair. That the Conservatives should even have to contemplate making it is a sign that their campaign is on the back foot. Making matters worse, it ought to have been obvious—to anyone paying attention— that proposing this ‘tax’ would have just this effect. May has not been well-served by the handful of advisers with which she has long surrounded herself.

To be fair, the polling gap between the two parties had been narrowing for a while. Politics is tribal. When the moment of decision comes people tend to revert to their tribe, something that may have been made easier for some in the Labour Party this time by the thought that they could cast a vote for their side without any danger that the far-left (too kind a description, really, for his extremism) Corbyn would actually, you know, win.

And returning to Labour would have been made easier by the dreadful campaign the Tories have fought so far. That manifesto, which managed to blend moments of green eyeshade brutality with fatuous sermons against the free market was perhaps the low point, but what preceded it wasn’t so great either.

Writing in The Spectator Rod Liddle notes (my emphasis added):

Jeremy Corbyn is not notably less popular in the Midlands and north of the country than [previous Labour leader] Ed Miliband…And he has had a good election so far. The Labour vote remains buoyant and is growing. Don’t forget that the populist revolution we have seen here and in the US and in Europe does not come exclusively from the right. Corbyn presents an anti-establishment populist left-wing agenda, much as did Syriza and Five Star (and the SNP, come to that) and he offers it to an electorate which has a certain appetite for such radicalism. If he changed his tune on immigration he could conceivably win.

May herself has presence, but does not shine on the stump. There has also been more presumption than precision about the Conservative campaign. Confident of what they have assumed would be an overwhelming victory, they have come across as complacent and more than a touch arrogant. 

The electoral math may also not be quite as helpful to the Tories as has sometimes been assumed.

Liddle:

The Ukip vote will migrate to the Tories en masse — but in the south, where they don’t need it. Far less so in the north and Midlands, where they do need it. There, many will remain with Ukip, especially if [UKIP leader] Paul Nuttall ramps up the anti-Islam rhetoric in the wake of the Manchester atrocity. Of the rest, a fair few will go back to the habitual berth of the Labour party….

 I had not expected the Lib Dem vote to disappear. But given that it does seem to be disappearing, it won’t turn up in the pockets of Conservative candidates. Almost anyone but — and most likely Labour.

My best guess (full disclosure: my best guesses are frequently wrong) remains that the Tories will win, although by rather less than once was assumed (with possibly interesting implications for the next chapter of Brexit). Some of the latest polling dates from before the mass-murder in Manchester, and Corbyn’s response (due today) reportedly linking the bombing to British foreign policy may infuriate voters and once again revive the many legitimate fears about his suitability for the top job.

Above all, I have to assume that these polling data will (1) persuade some voters sympathetic to Labour that a vote for Corbyn is a gesture too risky to make; and (2) scare the Tories into raising their game.

June 8 (election day) is still some way away.

Poetry

by Sally Cook

LAST BLOOMS

A vantage point for any pot

Of small, bronzed marigold

Is next to a bare, molting tree,

Where several pale green stems uphold

Odd milkweed pods that fill the spot –

They’re edible, I’m told.

As apples redden, I can see

Some purple asters, bold,

Merging with goldenrod. The lot

Springs out of tangled mold T

o sing a muted symphony,

Which swells, as fronds unfold,

 

Revealing ancient ferny fans,

Hiding the withered also-rans.

 

Sally Cook

This poem appears in the June 12 print edition of National Review.
 

First Amendment Inflation

by Kevin D. Williamson

What happened with Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte and reporter Ben Jacobs is not a First Amendment issue; the First Amendment does not give reporters some extra protection against ordinary thuggery.

And it is not “Western justice,” as some of the broadcast clowns have suggested.

It is ordinary assault, something that happens every day in towns and cities across the country, and Gianforte should probably do six months in county jail for it.

There is nothing more to it, or less to it, than that.

Teacher of the Year Commits the Unpardonable Sin: Working at a Charter

by Paul Crookston

A public-school teacher who focuses on social justice won the 2017 teacher of the year award, but public-school teachers’ unions in her home state refuse to acknowledge the honor. Why? Because Boston teacher Sydney Chaffee teaches at a public charter school — and that fact is enough to designate her as an enemy of the Massachusetts Teachers Union (MTA).

In the past, the MTA has rolled out the red carpet at their convention for the winners of teacher-of-the-year awards. This year, they have the state’s first ever national teacher of the year, and in lieu of inviting her to speak and offering a stipend, the MTA refused to even approve a congratulatory letter.

Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo is a Democratic state-committee member, and she unloaded on the MTA and its leadership in her latest blog post:

President Madeloni pulled out all the stops to block the resolution from passing — forcing the item into the new business portion of the meeting when most delegates had already left instead of as pending business as it had been addressed in years past to make sure there was full participation of the body. [Madeloni] apparently even got up and lied to the membership about the Council of Chief State School Officers being a collection of “corporate sell-outs” who selected Sydney because of question 2 and their love for charter schools/Charlie Baker/Donald Trump.

Those “corporate sell-outs” include nationwide teachers’ unions, the National School Boards Association, and exactly no groups that support Donald Trump.

As I’ve noted in the past, the MTA demands absolute loyalty and stands out even among teachers’ unions for dishonest political tactics. But the president’s spreading falsehoods about the selection of the national teacher of the year is particularly shameful.

The union is evidently maintaining the anti-charter absolutism that characterized their message against Ballot Question 2 in November, which would have allowed more charter schools like Chaffee’s to open in underserved areas. Preventing those schools from opening may hurt students and families, but it keeps children inside underperforming schools that unions depend on.

The MTA makes little effort to hide how little liberal priorities matter to them. Chaffee won teacher of the year as a female teacher whose courses focus on social justice. Her school serves predominately minority students, has a black principal, and in every way fulfills democrats’ criteria for diversity, empowerment, grappling with white privilege, and so on.

The union’s obsession with power crowds out all the intersecting social concerns that the Left constantly emphasizes. It also leaves absolutely no room for the needs of students.

Medical Conscience Victory in Vermont

by Wesley J. Smith

With the attacks on medical conscience increasing, some good news. Alliance Defending Freedom has successfully obtained a consent decree that protects doctors in Vermont from having to counsel about assisted suicide to legally qualified patients if they are morally or religiously opposed. From the decree:

Plaintiffs and similarly situated medical providers do not have a legal or professional obligation to counsel and refer patients for the Patient Choice at End of Life process [e.g., assisted suicide].

Good. 

That didn’t sit well with the assisted suicide advocacy organization Compassion and Choices–formerly the more honestly named Hemlock Society.  The group had filed a notice of appeal–showing the future intentions of assisted suicide pushers toward dissenting doctors very clearly.

But lacking standing–it wasn’t a party to the case–C & C finally took their jars of poison pills and went home. 

But let’s be clear: Vermont bureaucrats and assisted suicide advocates wanted to force dissenting doctors to be complicit in the assisted suicide process. And it took a lawsuit to stop them.

This is just a small skirmish in a much bigger policy and moral conflict. Even more concerted efforts seeking to force doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to participate in morally contentious legal activities in the medical context will be forthcoming, toward the end of forcing medical professionals to surrender their consciences as a condition of licensure regarding issues such abortion, assisted suicide, Catholic religious values maintained in Catholic hospitals, etc.

Good on Alliance Defending Freedom for standing firm for medical conscience!

 

Planned Parenthood at 100

by NR Staff

Here’s the cover of the new issue of National Review, out today for subscribers, featuring Kevin D. Williamson’s cover story on the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood.

For this and more insight from the best conservative writers, subscribe to National Review’s digital magazine here.

Starting the Music Up Again After the Unspeakable Happens

by Jim Geraghty

Whether or not you’re a fan of Ariana Grande, your heart has to break at the thought of a 23-year-old trying to come to terms with the twist of fate that caused a terrorist to murder her school-age fans at her concert in Manchester. The bomber could have struck just about anywhere or anytime, but he chose this performance on this night. Her concerts were something that brought her and her fans great joy; now it’s associated with this. She’s understandably traumatized, describing herself as “broken.”

The band Pearl Jam dealt with a fatal tragedy at one of their concerts in 2000, when a stampede at a concert in Denmark led to the death of nine people. The band faced accusations that they were somehow at fault for the stampede, accusations they vehemently denied, saying no one at the event communicated to them about the dangerous situation in the audience until it was too late. The band canceled their next two shows and spent about a month in seclusion, then gradually returned to the stage, eventually establishing surprisingly close and lasting friendships with the families of the fans who died.

“To have that happen while we were playing, it was hard to continue on from there because your memories get connected to things, especially music, and that was a matter of life and death that absolutely had us thinking the band couldn’t go on,” Eddie Vedder said in 2002.

You may love Grande’s music, or you may find it to be soft-core tripe. But these unjust circumstances have brought us to the point where we all have to root for the arrival of the day she sings and performs on a stage again. To be silenced would be to concede a victory to the bomber.

“Sabotaging” Obamacare

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by ...

It’s a little odd to watch seven justices vote to strike down one of Obamacare’s key provisions–the one cutting off all Medicaid funds to states that refrain from expanding the law–and conclude that the people who won were at fault for bringing the case. If a health-care law needs that level of support from both political parties to work well, maybe it’s a mistake to enact it without that support?

After Manchester

by Andrew Stuttaford

Writing in Spiked, Alaa al-Ameri, a British-Libyan economist and writer:

Britain has a long history of (relatively gradual) immigration and, most importantly, assimilation that has been, as much as anything, the result of acceptance by host communities – mostly at the levels of the working and lower middle classes. The rise in nationalism is blamed by the chattering classes on some inherent intolerance on the part of these same communities that have been the raw material of assimilation for decades. Yet these communities understand something that is lost on their accusers.

We can have all sorts of differences in class, outlook and background, as long as there is some common thread, some notion of shared interest, history and destiny that binds us together as a community. This is what Islamists and their apologists both reject. One because it violates their claim to govern humanity in the name of God, and the other because it sounds uncouth and parochial….

Islamists, for decades, have regarded Britain not as a family, but as a place to eat and sleep on their way to somewhere else. While the privileged wring their hands and wonder what they might have done to offend their exotic guests, those to whom the house belongs are beginning to pipe up and object. Whenever they do – for example, when their kids are murdered at a pop concert – their more sophisticated relatives seem mostly preoccupied with the desire to avoid a scene.

Openly discussing Islamism is not an attack on me or any other British Muslim. We are the hostages of Islamism and its vampire preachers who weaponised Salman Abedi and used him to slaughter 22 innocents, in the midst of their joy, out of sheer spite. Speaking frankly and honestly about this horror is the only hope we have of emerging from it as anything resembling a cohesive British family.

Douglas Murray, whose new book (The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam) is one that I shall be buying soon, clearly does not expect much frankness and honesty from Britain’s political class. Yes, keeping calm and carrying on is the right thing to do and, yes, Theresa May was, of course, correct to stress that Britain would not give in, but (Murray writes in The Spectator): 

[B]eneath the defiance lie deep, and deeply unanswered, questions. Questions which people across Europe are increasingly dwelling on, but which their political representatives dare not address.

Exactly a year ago, Greater Manchester Police staged a carefully prepared mock terrorist attack in the city’s shopping centre to test response capabilities. At one stage, an actor playing a suicide bomber burst through a doorway and detonated a fake device while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is Greatest’). The intention, obviously, was to make the scenario realistic. But the use of the jihadists’ signature sign-off sent social media into a spin. Soon community spokesmen were complaining on the media. One went on Sky to talk about the need ‘to have a bit of religious and cultural context when they’re doing training like this in a wider setting about the possible implications’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan was hauled before the press. ‘On reflection,’ he admitted, ‘we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.’

…In Piccadilly Gardens [Manchester], at lunchtime on the day after the attacks, crowds of people listened to a busker play the usual post-massacre playlist: ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’. But just like the renditions of ‘Imagine’, the buskers are wrong. We need to do more than imagine. We need more than love. Everything is not all right. We need to address this problem, and start at the roots. Otherwise our societies will continue to be caught between people who mean what they say and a society which won’t even listen. And so they’ll keep meeting violently, these two worlds.

Meanwhile the EU is taking steps to tighten up on what can appear on the Internet.

Diginomica:

The European Union (EU) has signed off on the first steps towards greater regulation of the internet with a vote to establish a universal set of video content censorship rules that companies like Facebook and Twitter would be forced to follow…. The EU Parliament wil have to give the final nod for the proposal to become law, but it seems inevitable that this will happen. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip says:

“It is essential to have one common set of audiovisual rules across the EU and avoid the complication of different national laws. We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way.”

And if you think that increasing government control over Internet content (this isn’t just an EU thing: ask Theresa May) will facilitate “frank and honest” discussion about what is going on, I have a bridge to sell you.

Another Reason Protectionism Won’t Work

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Robert Lighthizer, a longtime advocate for steel interests, is the new U.S. trade representative. He says that he wants to free America from “free-trade dogma.” But in practice, that wouldn’t open the door to a smarter economic policy. It would open the door to interest-group payoffs. The steel protectionism Lighthizer has advocated is a case in point, I argue today at Bloomberg View: It hurts the economy but has a powerful political lobby behind it.

An Obstacle to Single Payer

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Recent polls have found Obamacare to be at unprecedented levels of popularity while Republican efforts to replace it are very unpopular. My own interpretation of those polls: People don’t dislike the Republican plans because they favor Obamacare; they favor Obamacare because they dislike the Republican plans. The public’s dominant sentiment on health care is usually: Please, Washington, don’t do anything more to screw it up, especially if it could affect me.

In Slate, Danielle Ofri concludes from the Republicans’ problems that the public is ready for single payer. If I’m right about the centrality of public fear of Washington-imposed disruption in existing health-insurance arrangements, though, it’s bad news for single-payer enthusiasts too.

Polling on single payer has been mixed. In January, an AP-NORC poll found that 38 percent of Americans favor and 39 percent oppose “a single payer health care system, in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.” If the system would involve a large increase in government spending—which it almost certainly would—the numbers shift to 47 percent opposition and 24 percent support. (The 47 percent number is my history-major math applied to the information provided at the link.)

Some pollster should ask about single payer while making it explicit that it involves replacing everyone’s existing insurance plan with a government-provided one

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by Launching Unsuccessful Lawsuits Against It

by Rich Lowry

Abbe Gluck of Yale makes a singularly unpersuasive case that Republicans are responsible for the struggles of Obamacare in the New York Times, supposedly in large part by launching unsuccessful lawsuits against it. This sentence particularly stands out: “The Obama administration’s decision to allow more people to stay on their old plans than originally expected may also have narrowed the new pool of insurance customers in ways that contributed to premium hikes.” This may have some truth to it, but she doesn’t pause to note that letting people keep their plans if they liked them was a central Obama promise that helped the law get through. She is implicitly conceding that this promise so ran against the design of the law that even making a gesture toward keeping it undermined Obamacare’s implementation.