For Anyone But the President’s Eyes Only

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

For Anyone But the President’s Eyes Only

You can support this president; you can even love him. But you can’t trust him.

What are we to make of last night’s Washington Post story, reporting that President Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak highly classified information, including a city in the Islamic State’s territory where a U.S. intelligence partner detected a terrorist threat involving laptops?

Let’s go through the possibilities. A lot of Trump fans will insist this is all “fake news,” that the story is made up out of whole cloth, and that none of these “U.S. official” sources exist. If so, it’s a remarkable conspiracy, as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, CNN, and BuzzFeed all claim to have “U.S. officials” telling them the same thing.

Perhaps multiple U.S. officials are making up this story and calling up multiple reporters, telling them the same false tale. Again, this is a possibility, except we would assume that one or more reporters at those institutions would do some basic due diligence. Would this source be in a position to know? If the source is Irving Schmidlap, who works as a dishwasher at the White House Mess, would the reporters be more skeptical than if it was someone on the National Security Council?

Then there’s this detail:

After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency….

Thomas P. Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, placed calls to the directors of the CIA and the NSA, the services most directly involved in the intelligence-sharing arrangement with the partner.

If this is all a made-up story to damage Trump, then some senior White House officials are really going the extra mile, making calls to U.S. intelligence agencies to perpetuate the hoax.

Wait, there’s more! “The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.” If this is all a made-up story, why would U.S. officials urge the Post to withhold the name of the city?

Wait, there’s even more! This morning a phone call between President Trump and Jordan’s King Abdullah was added to the president’s schedule. Jordan’s got a heck of an intelligence service, and they’re a usually-reliable U.S. ally. The Islamic State’s territory is just north of their country. How likely is it that this phone call is aimed to reassure that unidentified “U.S. ally” in the story?

Take a look at this detail:

“I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Does that sound… farfetched? Is anyone jumping up and saying, “oh, come now, that doesn’t sound anything like the Donald Trump I know?” Doesn’t boasting about the quality of the intelligence he receives sound exactly like the sort of thing Trump would do?

A lot of Trump fans are pointing to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s statement, “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.” But as you’ve no doubt heard argued since the story broke, the disclosure wasn’t really about “sources and methods.” The damaging disclosure was about that city, the location of the source – presumably a double agent or an ISIS turncoat – reporting to one of our allies. As the articles report, our ally didn’t give us permission to spread that information around, and this country was apparently already wary about sharing information with us. If this story is accurate, a few minutes of improvised boasting in the Oval Office just did serious damage to a relationship with a useful intelligence ally.

Keep in mind, last week Vice President Mike Pence, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the rest went out before the cameras and insisted that Ron Rosenstein’s memo was the driving force to fire FBI Director James Comey… and then Trump told Lester Holt he was going to fire Comey “regardless of the recommendation.” Just last week, Trump declared on Twitter, “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” The president will insist his surrogates can’t be expected to get everything right, and then a few days later, insist that you trust denials from his surrogates. You can’t have it both ways.

This morning, President Trump offered two tweets on the subject: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining…. …to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Again, no one who understands the law can dispute Trump’s “right to do” this; the question is the judgment and value in doing so. And missing from Trump’s comment are the words, “I did not share any location of any source or any other sensitive intelligence from our allies.”

Brian Wilson, who’s kind enough to have me co-host on WMAL some mornings, concludes the consequences of the leak must be moot by now: “I’m guessing bomb making info was tightly held info within ISIS. Any suspected snitch within its ranks has already been dealt with.”

Meanwhile, a Vice contributor screams, “an allied informant is likely being tortured to death as we speak, thanks ONLY to Trump’s big mouth.”

We don’t know if either of those scenarios are true. (There’s a good chance we will never know.) There were media reports quoting “U.S. officials” expressing concerns about ISIS and al-Qaeda testing laptop bombs for use on airplanes at the end of March. Maybe those reports spurred ISIS to start an intense search for a mole in their ranks, maybe they didn’t. (You would presume ISIS is always looking to sniff out moles in their ranks.) ISIS controls about 23,000 square miles, as of the end of 2016 – plenty of cities, towns, and villages. It’s just asinine to tell anyone who doesn’t need to know which city is home to an ISIS mole or double agent.

The bottom line is that there is absolutely no benefit to the United States to be sharing this kind of information with the Russian government – and if it alienates a friendly government helping us fight ISIS, then it is extraordinarily damaging.

It does not help that so many Democrats insist that every administration misstep is justification for impeachment, the Twitter hashtag “#Lockhimup” (the President has absolute authority to declassify information, so no law was broken) or the insane everyone’s-a-Russian-agent conspiracy theories of the Louise Mensches of the world. But the insanity of lefties doesn’t get this White House off the hook. Unless the entire story is made up out of whole cloth, Donald Trump still doesn’t understand his responsibilities.

Let Me Persuade You.

by Jack Fowler

And if I can’t, I bet my late NR pals, Linda Bridges and Bill Rickenbacker, can. As part of our moving effort, we’ve uncovered a box containing 20 copies of their acclaimed 1993 classic, The Art of Persuasion: A National Review Rhetoric For Writers, which Bill Buckley called “sheer enjoyment,” and it was. And it was more than that: What Linda and Bill R. concocted was a truly guide on how to grab, surprise, please, amuse, and persuade the reader.

Which I hope I have done, at least when it comes to getting you to part with $12 for an in-excellent-shape copy (the out-of-print paperback is selling for over $40 on Amazon!) of The Art of Persuasion. Our price will include shipping and handling, and because we just happen to be in a certain mood, I’ll throw in a sweet and patriotic National Review lapel pin. Order at the National Review Store, here.

Jay Hawk

by John J. Miller

My latest Bookmonger podcast is with someone called Jay Nordlinger, author of Digging In: Further Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger. We talk about where story ideas come from and how he picked his book cover as well as how the great WFB influenced him. Have a listen.

Should a Chinese Ant Take Over U.S. Money Transfer Giant?

by John Fund

Today the shareholders of MoneyGram, the second largest money-transfer company in the world, will vote on a $1.2 billion deal in which it would be acquired by Ant Financial of China. If it’s approved, expect the deal to become the focus of intense national-security debate. President Trump recently got Jack Ma, the head of China’s Alibaba retail giant, to pledge more investment in the U.S. But should Ant Financial, which is 15 percent owned by the Chinese government, be allowed to buy such an important base of the U.S.’s financial infrastructure?

Two Republican senators from Kansas, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, have written to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, warning the Ant acquisition raises privacy and security concerns.They are demanding an exhaustive review of the deal by the government’s intra-agency Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. Senator Roberts says the Chinese takeover of MoneyGram “should trigger no less concern than if a Chinese company were seeking to take control of a large, well-known bank.” He added that the deal “highlights the inequity between US and Chinese companies when it comes to international acquisitions . . . there is virtually no chance that a US financial services company would be permitted to acquire a Chinese [rival].” For his part, Senator Moran notes that Moneygram has many U.S. military personnel among its clients. Handing over access to their financial data to the Chinese could raise red flags in his view. Moran notes that the Chinese economy is highly non-transparent and we should assume that any “private” Chinese company has links to the Chinese government.

Of course, patriotism is often the last line of argument for trade protectionists. It’s no coincidence that Senators Roberts and Moran are raising the alarm. They represent Kansas-based Euronet, a competitor to Moneygram, that was beaten out by Ant Financial in a mid-March attempt to acquire Moneygram. Alex Holmes, chief executive of MoneyGram, told the Financial Times that any national-security concerns are spurious given the safeguards his company has in place. He says the U.S. cannot improve its balance of trade with China without deals such as the one with Ant. “The money transfer industry in China is open to foreign competition, and MoneyGram already has a robust business in China as do other money transfer companies,” Holmes told the FT. “Thanks to President Trump’s engagement with China, our two countries are on track to building an even stronger economic relationship. Investments in the US, like the one Ant will make in our company, are critical to creating new jobs and increasing economic growth in our country.”

All that is true, and the Trump administration is justifiably proud of its efforts to encourage Chinese job creation in the U.S. But caution is advised. As the Washington Times notes “the Chinese government has been caught in the past engaging in backdoor hacks of U.S. government computer systems, including those at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It’s not exactly clear what they were looking for, but enabling ANT Financial to take over MoneyGram could enable it to search through the personal information and financial records of . . . U.S. military and law enforcement agencies.”

The Treasury-led investment review of the Moneygram deal should be both careful and fair. In the past, the U.S. has allowed most deals involving China. But there are exceptions. In 2009, the U.S. government blocked China from buying an American gold mine because of its proximity to a U.S. military base.

The proposed Moneygram acquisition raises other questions. GOP congressmen Robert Pittinger and Chris Smith, both key players in evaluating Chinese intentions from their committee perches, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which they noted financial experts have told Congress that Chinese investments in the U.S. financial sector are a part of a broader state-led strategic effort. He described those investments as “one piece of a much bigger and more complex strategic mosaic” that includes the goals of infiltrating key financial entities and “gaining control of western investment syndicates.

That means the acquisition of Moneygram and its 2.4 million U.S. customers cannot be viewed in isolation and must be looked at as part of an overall review of U.S. strategic and financial vulnerability in the years ahead. The shareholders of Moneygram who vote on the takeover of their company by Ant Financial today should be prepared for a lengthy security review and a decision that is predicated not just on investment flows but national-security concerns.

Trust But Verify

by Jonah Goldberg

So what to make of the latest mess?

I don’t know if the Washington Post story is accurate, but I do think its entirely plausible. Put aside whether the story is properly sourced and all that. When you heard the news, did you think it could be true?

If your answer is yes, think about that for a moment. That right there is a problem.

No, I don’t think for a moment that Trump deliberately divulged to the Russians classified information at an event covered by Russian media (but not American media) the day after he fired the FBI director for not doing more to end the investigation of his campaign’s alleged involvement with the Russians. That’s “resistance” paranoia stuff.

But the idea that Trump — with his irrepressible need to boast to the point of narcissistic incontinence combined with his lackadaisical approach to the nuts-and-bolts demands of the job — somehow just let something slip is utterly and completely believable. It was apparently believable to various members of his own administration.

What’s harder to believe, however, is the idea that H. R. McMaster lied tonight. McMaster is a heroic figure with credibility and integrity to burn. But if you put aside McMaster’s reputation and just listen to what he said, his statement tonight was pretty thin. He denied things not alleged in the Washington Post story “as reported” and then, after 60 seconds, walked away without taking a single question.

The folks insisting that McMaster’s statement settles the issue should wrestle with a few questions:

Why not take any questions?

Why not address the details of the story?

Why deny things not alleged?

Why did intelligence officials urge the Post to withhold key details if this is “fake news”?

There are three basic answers to these questions:

The Washington Post story is entirely false and McMaster’s denial isn’t lawyerly at all.

The Washington Post story is largely or entirely accurate and McMaster’s denial was intended to limit the damage to the country and to national security.

The Washington Post story is largely or entirely accurate and McMaster’s denial was intended to protect the president of the United States.

The last two have some overlap. But neither is reassuring about what the president allegedly did.

I have a lot of faith in and respect for McMaster. But it’s worth recalling that just last week, the White House insisted that the president fired James Comey on the recommendation of the deputy attorney general. The vice president repeatedly said as much. Within 24 hours that storyline was discredited. Within days, the president himself threw the vice president and his communications team under the bus in his interview with Lester Holt. Donald Trump’s track record of screwing people who vouch for him is truly impressive. So is his ability to put honorable people in no-win situations.

You’d think that people would at least be somewhat chastened by this fact and take a wait and see, or even trust-but-verify, approach.

In other words, I get why you don’t trust the Washington Post. I don’t get why you trust the Trump administration.

Krauthammer’s Take: ‘It Seems as if Trump Has a Recurring Cold and the Russkies Are Involved’

by NR Staff

Charles Krauthammer said during a previous segment that Trump would probably not be affected by the reported intelligence slip during a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, but in this clip he pointed out that incidents with Russia are a recurring problem for the administration:

Nobody thinks that the president actually sat down with the Russkies and said, “Look this is exactly how we collect information from al Qaeda in Yemen and ISIS in Syria.” Of course he didn’t. It would have been a slip in which he might have mentioned an ally in place, and that would not be good. I am sure the ally is understanding. I don’t think this is going to cause a rift as a matter of principle, but out of perhaps concern and prudence, they may want to pull back for a short while. Again, if the story is true and if they were compromised.

You have got to ask yourself: Why do the Russians keep turning up every three days in the Trump administration? It seems as if Trump has a recurring cold and the Russkies are involved in that. I mean, of all the countries, it didn’t have to be Russia.

Lois Lerner, IRS Bully: ‘Too Dangerous’ to Testify in Public

by Ian Tuttle

The chutzpah of these folks will never cease to amaze:

Details about tea party bias claims against the IRS could remain secret because current and former agency officials say their lives are in danger if they publicly testify about the case.

Lois Lerner and Holly Paz both have argued in recent court filings that the threat to their lives outweighs the public’s right to hear their testimony about how IRS employees in Cincinnati and Washington D.C. handled applications for tax-exempt status from tea party groups. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

No.

I have no doubt that Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz have experienced no little amount of unfriendly mail. (Welcome to the Internet Age, gals!) But let’s recall precisely what led to the present situation: In the lead-up to the 2012 election, agents in the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division systematically harassed conservative nonprofit groups, or groups critical of President Obama. Their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed or denied. Their members had their Facebook posts scrutinized, their family members’ political ambitions questioned, the content of their prayers examined. Some groups were audited. The National Organization for Marriage had its donor list leaked to political opponents. Then, when this scheme was discovered, IRS agents stonewalled Congress and federal investigators, hard drives mysteriously went missing, and the IRS destroyed tens of thousands of pertinent e-mails under congressional subpoena.

The head of the Tax Exempt Division through most of these shenanigans was Lois Lerner, who walked away from it all with a $129,000 bonus and a pension. Her second-in-command was Paz, who as head of the Office of Rulings and Agreements oversaw determinations of tax-exempt organizations.

Everyone who is so concerned about our constitutional republic turning into a banana one might consider that for years the federal government’s revenue-collecting agency used its considerable powers to bully the president’s political opponents — then covered it up, with the help of an unconcerned White House and an incurious media. Now, facing a class-action lawsuit brought by more than 400 groups, the people centrally responsible for this inarguable malfeasance are — incredibly — trying to play the victims. 

Lerner and Paz are pretending like they’re testifying against the Mob; if what we know is true, for thousands of Americans they were the Mob.

Field Workers Suing the DNC as Executives Receive Huge Bonuses

by Paul Crookston

After championing the $15 minimum wage in their party platform, Democrats are facing a class-action lawsuit over failure to pay overtime. Field workers in various states are suing the DNC and state Democratic parties on the grounds that their 80-90 hour work weeks in the heat of the campaign qualify them for overtime payment, rather than their agreed upon salary of $2,500-$3,000 per month.

Field workers are plentiful and cheap, so Democratic operatives are naturally arguing that the plaintiffs don’t have a case because the supply of inexpensive labor allowed the party to pay them so little. “The number of young people who want to work on campaigns is infinite,” Democratic consultant Neil Oxman said. “The kids are working on campaigns because they love Michael Nutter, or they love Hillary Clinton, or they love Bernie Sanders. Pretty much everyone who works a campaign knows it’s not the best-paying job in the world.” His statement inadvertently explains why the Democratic “fight for $15” is economically ridiculous.

If a multitude of people are willing to work at what Democrats call a “starvation wage,” then it makes sense for the DNC to pay them just that. (Whether their motives are “love” for Democratic candidates or connections and resume enhancement is another topic.) However, attorney Justin Swidler, who is bringing the case, called that move “obscene.”

According to the suit, the lack of overtime pay violated labor laws, and many on the anti-establishment Left side with the plaintiffs. “There is no question that campaign organizers performing the duties described in the lawsuit are not Exempt from overtime provisions of the FLSA,” said progressive writer Amy Sterling Casil in a lengthy Medium post. She also blasted the DNC over news that its host-committee executives were paid bonuses as high as $310,000, figures that have many on the far left melting down.

All this is happening even as the DNC deals with a lawsuit over their primary process, which they argue was not fraudulent on the grounds that they have no legal obligation to treat candidates fairly. The left wing of the Democratic coalition has a growing list of grievances against the party establishment.

These field workers’ “love” for Hillary Clinton may be cold comfort while they’re waiting for their lawsuit to make its way through the courts, but the executives who just got six-figure bonuses are probably seeing the grieving process get much easier.

Planned Parenthood’s Tone-Deaf Mother’s Day Celebration

by Alexandra DeSanctis

Planned Parenthood has a lot of bad habits — most notably, of course, its explicit mission of exterminating hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year in the name of “women’s rights.”

But in the age of social media, the group’s rabid pro-abortion agenda has become increasingly apparent, as its Twitter account overflows with “reproductive rights” advocacy delivered in utterly ironic 140-character catchphrases.

This ill-advised tendency was on full display yesterday. As it does every year, Planned Parenthood’s marketing department determined it’d be a superb strategy to use Mother’s Day as a chance to fundraise, and the group’s president, Cecile Richards, tweeted the following message:

As if that message — with its veiled intention of supporting abortion — weren’t incongruous enough, the Time article she authored somehow managed to get even worse: “This Sunday, mothers across the country will spend Mother’s Day worried about the health of women and families — especially if they’re opening their gifts in front of the morning news,” Richards wrote.

It’s safe to say Richards is one of perhaps five mothers in the U.S. who devoted their Mother’s Day celebrations to fretting over politics. This message showcases the disjointedness of Planned Parenthood’s marketing campaigns, which consistently ignore the fact that most Americans didn’t sob in the shower and break out in hives or collapse in despair and throw up bile after Donald Trump won the presidency.                                                                      

But not to worry. Richards’s article concluded with some advice that’s surely much easier for the average mother to relate to:

So this Mother’s Day, instead of taking your mom out to brunch or sending chocolate, commit to fighting for a government that recognizes that women deserve basic human rights and protections — including the right to decide when and whether to become a mom. After all, nothing says “I love you, Mom!” like adding your members of Congress to your contacts, and letting them know you’re counting on them to stand up for women and families everywhere.

Because what mom doesn’t feel most appreciated when her kids choose not to call her or even send a card, but instead spend Mother’s Day on hold with their congressman’s office, waiting to speak with a staffer about the continued availability of employer-funded birth control and taxpayer-funded abortion? And how better to laud our mothers than ensuring that all women can escape motherhood by denying life to their children already alive inside them?

Planned Parenthood echoed Richards’s baffling sentiments by sharing an article intended “to recognize and celebrate moms who have had abortions,” telling the stories of women whose ability to be successful mothers supposedly required that they abort their unwanted pregnancies.

In Planned Parenthood’s deranged playbook, the best way to mark a day intended to glorify the beauty of motherhood is by cheering for women who, for one reason or another, rejected motherhood. And not only that, but the group wants us to ignore our own mothers in favor of advancing the movement to further enshrine abortion rights as a cornerstone of our society.

Yesterday’s distasteful marketing campaign is another reminder that Planned Parenthood and abortion are all but inseparable, so much so that the group is willing to commandeer Mother’s Day to rake up donations and crusade for “reproductive rights.” Its social-media gurus should at least have the decency to recognize how tone-deaf they sound.

Union Leaders Earn More than Most CEOs

by Austin Yack

Last week, AFL-CIO, the largest trade union organization in the U.S., released the results from its annual Executive Paywatch report: CEOs at S&P 500 companies earned on average $13.1 million in 2016, and “this greed of corporate CEOs” has caused a “CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 347 to 1.”

“It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said, “and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

But the AFL-CIO report neglected to include the average salary for all CEOs in the U.S. in 2016, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $194,350. These same union leaders who criticize the salaries of CEOs earned on average $252,370 in 2016 — nearly $60,000 more than their private-sector counterparts.

The Center for Union Facts, the union watchdog that unveiled the average presidential salary from nearly 200 unions, found that some union leaders are earning lucrative salaries north of $700,000.

“Timothy Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, earned more than $775,000 last year,” wrote Luka Ladan, the Center for Union Facts’s communications director, in a column for the East Bay Times. “International Brotherhood of Boilermakers President Newton Jones came close at $756,973, while Laborers’ International Union President Terence O’Sullivan made nearly $718,000 in total compensation.”

Even AFL-CIO’s president Richard Trumka made nearly $300,000 in 2016, as he championed the narrative that corporations are attempting to “rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run.”

‘Rape Culture’ in Baltimore

by Heather Mac Donald

More actual rape culture that campus feminists will never recognize: At a Northwest Baltimore middle school on Friday, three boys grabbed a 13-year-old girl who was skipping class and shoved her into a janitor’s closet, reports the Baltimore Sun. Two of the boys, both 14-years-old, performed sex acts on her, according to the police. The school is 93 percent black and 5.5 percent Hispanic. If we believed the civil-rights activists in education departments and the former Obama administration, any discipline imposed on students in this anarchic school will be the result of bias on the part of teachers and administrators, if similar measures are not imposed on white students. Those same liberal critics would move mountains to make sure that their children did not have to attend the school.

The New York Times Faces Facts About the Gender Pay Gap

by David French

Despite decades of indoctrination and career-worship, there are many millions of parents who will desperately want to either stay home with their children or spend as much time as possible with them even as they pursue a career. Despite decades of specifically feminist indoctrination and career-worship, women will disproportionately want to make that choice. They find full-time mothering (or most-time mothering and part-time jobbing) to be far more fulfilling and meaningful than any career – even the most high-achieving jobs in law, medicine, and the marketplace.

This is only a problem if you’re one of those zealots who believes that immersing yourself in a career is the highest and best use of every human on the planet, regardless of their preferences and talents. If you’re not one of those zealots, then you realize – as a matter of common sense – that leaving the workforce has economic consequences. You also realize that choosing jobs with fewer hours and fewer demands also has economic consequences. And if you’re honest, you tell that truth.

This weekend, the New York Times published a blast of refreshing honesty — a piece called “The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood.” It begins:

When men and women finish school and start working, they’re paid pretty much equally. But a gender pay gap soon appears, and it grows significantly over the next two decades.

So what changes? The answer can be found by looking at when the pay gap widens most sharply. It’s the late 20s to mid-30s, according to two new studies — in other words, when many women have children. Unmarried women without children continue to earn closer to what men do.

And why is this?

The big reason that having children, and even marrying in the first place, hurts women’s pay relative to men’s is that the division of labor at home is still unequal, even when both spouses work full time. That’s especially truefor college-educated women in high-earning occupations: Children are particularly damaging to their careers.

I love the use of negative language like “damaging.” I don’t know a single mom who decided to stay home with their child who said, “I’ve decided to damage or destroy my career.” Instead, they proclaim overwhelming love for their child and a sense of gratitude at having the choice (along with a sense of sorrow that many other women don’t have the financial resources to stay home.)

The cult of the career is very strong within modern feminism – as if every woman is inches away from becoming chair of the English department but for their tyrannical husband making them clean toilets. In reality, women are often choosing between staying home with a child they absolutely adore and a returning to a grueling job they don’t love. For this very reason many women want their husband to be the breadwinner and make marriage and relationship decisions accordingly.

Moreover, when comparing men and women, it’s pretty plain that women often form a different kind of bond with their children in part because they have a different kind of experience. At the risk of being transphobic, I’d just note that men don’t carry or birth children, and they’re notoriously bad breastfeeders. I’ve known many professional women who were simply shocked at the level of love they felt for their child and contemplated career changes they once mocked and derided. This isn’t a problem, it’s a healthy blessing of freedom of choice.

Modern feminism is less concerned with giving women a choice than in telling them which choices to make. But if the choice they’re selling is cubicle over child, that’s a choice many millions of women will never make.

Assad’s Regime Builds a Giant Crematorium

by Jim Geraghty

If you thought Bashir Assad’s regime in Syria couldn’t possibly get worse… well, it’s worse:

 The Syrian regime has built a crematorium 45 minutes outside of Damascus where the U.S. government believes they are burning the bodies of the thousands of prisoners executed inside the walls of the Saydnaya military prison — an institution nicknamed “the slaughterhouse”.

The prison is believed to kill at least 50 detainees a day often by mass hangings, acting assistant Secretary for Middle Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones briefed reporters on Monday. Jones also presented aerial photos of the prison complex showing the crematorium’s construction in 2013.

The international community previously believed that the bodies were being disposed of in mass graves. The building of a crematorium allows the regime to cover up the extent of mass murders they undertake while leaving behind little evidence, Jones said.

Granted, before the Syrian Civil War, it wasn’t crystal clear that Bashir Assad would become one of the globe’s bloodiest and most ruthless dictators. But his regime’s awful brutality and callous mass executions aren’t exactly stunning, either. In 1982, the dictator’s father, President Hafez al-Assad, leveled a city and killed anywhere from “10,000 to 25,000 Syrians, mostly civilians.” The apple did not fall far from the tree.

It’s never a bad time to look back at all of the Western officials and opinion leaders who assured us that Assad was the kind of leader who deserved America’s extended hand of friendship and trust.

The above photo is from 2007, when Pelosi traveled to Damascus and declared, “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” Pelosi told reporters after her talks with Assad. Good call, ma’am. Good call.

Also that year, then-Senator Barack Obama said he was willing to meet with Assad “without preconditions.” For all of the other flaws of his foreign policy, Obama never met with Assad.

Starting in 2009, then-Senator John Kerry visited Assad several times, and in 2011 he said Assad was “very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had. . . . My judgment is that Syria will move; Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West.” 

And then, of course, there’s Vogue magazine:

In February, Vogue magazine published, for the benefit of its 11.7 million readers, an article titled “A Rose in the Desert” about the first lady of Syria. Asma al-Assad has British roots, wears designer fashion, worked for years in banking, and is married to the dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has killed over 5,000 civilians and hundreds of children this year. The glowing article praised the Assads as a “wildly democratic” family-focused couple who vacation in Europe, foster Christianity, are at ease with American celebrities, made theirs the “safest country in the Middle East,” and want to give Syria a “brand essence.”

Finally, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, met with Assad earlier this year and came back with nothing critical to say about him, and in fact accused the United States of “supporting terror groups.”

Great job, everybody. Take a bow.

Why Don’t Germans Laugh?

by Jonah Goldberg

Over at The Weekly Standard, Joshua Gelernter has an interesting and light hearted piece on why Germans have trouble laughing. It’s an intriguing topic. As I’ve written before, Germany was a special breeding ground for envy and resentment, and envy and resentment are not good wellsprings for mirth and jocularity. Gelernter concludes by noting:

What makes the Germans the way they are? Perhaps all the light-hearted, benevolent ones emigrated to the United States and founded Wisconsin. Or else they were murdered by the Nazis. Robin Williams used to tell a story that a German reporter asked him why Germany wasn’t known for comedy, and he answered “Well, you killed all the funny people.” Times change and peoples change with them. Remember, in the 19th century, everyone knew that Germans were most notable for their composers and philosophers, and that the most fearsome warriors in Europe were the French.

Patton Oswalt has a slightly different take. He thinks that Germans clamp down on any joke because they’re afraid it will lead to mockery of Germans over the Holocaust. It’s a very funny bit. 

But I think the real reason has to be that the Germans understand that laughter can kill:

 

Anti-Anti-Anti-Anti-Trump

by Dan McLaughlin

I have an enormous amount of respect for Charlie Sykes, the recently retired dean of conservative talk radio in Wisconsin, who was one of the most outspoken and principled anti-Trump voices during the 2016 primary and general elections. Sykes has since dedicated himself to rooting out the moral and intellectual rot in much of right-wing talk radio and TV, and his latest New York Times essay makes some excellent points. Sykes is appalled at how many people have abandoned conservative principles and policy goals out of a combination of the tribal instinct to circle the wagons around President Trump and the sheer glee that comes from seeing how angry he makes liberals. I particularly object to the view that Trump must be doing something right every time he gets liberals mad at him, or that any other Republican would be in exactly the same hot water, when in fact he has repeatedly picked battles on the least defensible turf for the worst reasons, guaranteeing failures.

But I must also object that Sykes is painting with a bit of a broad brush here, as are many of the people sharing his piece:

[M]uch of the conservative news media is now less pro-Trump than it is anti-anti-Trump. The distinction is important, because anti-anti-Trumpism has become the new safe space for the right.

Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

I’m in agreement with Sykes that those of us writing and speaking in conservative media have an obligation to criticize Trump when he goes astray – either by betraying conservative policies or principles, or simply by doing things that are objectively wrong (at the same time, we should praise him when he does good things). As I said in the immediate aftermath of the election, the Republican challenge is to be the Party With Trump without becoming the Party Of Trump. What I object to is the suggestion that we have some sort of obligation to do nothing else but criticize Trump – to get out of the business of reminding people how bad his critics still are or how inaccurate or overwrought many of their attacks on him are. We shouldn’t be only anti-anti-Trump, but there is nothing wrong with being anti-anti-Trump, because politics didn’t begin with Trump, it doesn’t consist solely of Trump today, and it won’t end with him, either.

Trump doesn’t respect the proper limits on his power, and neither do the Democrats. But ultimately, Trump is an amateur at the business of expanding power, bending institutional norms, and erasing the lines of constitutional separation of powers; Democrats are professionals. His entire ham-handed handling of the firing of Jim Comey is almost certain to lead to more, rather than less, vigorous investigations of the Russia 2016 story. There are well-worn formulas for working the system in DC to your own ends, which Obama and Clinton mastered, and which Trump disregards, inevitably reducing his effectiveness. Trump has power, but let’s not pretend that his opponents to his left are powerless – besides a significant redoubt in the Senate minority and many places in the courts, the bureaucracy, and the legal profession, they still run multiple state governments, many municipalities, most of the mainstream media, the universities, Hollywood, and plenty of other institutions. And they will be with us, and entrenched in power, and unalterably opposed to all the things principled conservatives hold dear, long after Trump is gone from the scene.

Conservatives and Republicans who saw Trump for the threat he was to our movement were in a difficult place during the election, and it has only grown more uncomfortable since then. But for us to give up the fight against the permanent opponents of everything we stand for is perilously short-sighted. Right is still right, and wrong is still wrong, and the presence of Trump should give wrong no holiday.

 

Trump Seems Incapable of Defensive Politics

by Charles C. W. Cooke

During the election, Rich Lowry noted that Donald Trump is incapable of basic “defensive politics.” Unsurprisingly, that deficiency has followed him to the White House.

Arguendo, let’s assume that Trump fired James Comey for appropriate reasons — he wanted a fresh start, say, or he didn’t believe that Comey was doing a good job, or he was concerned that trust in the F.B.I. was at a dangerous low. Even given this assumption, Trump still screwed it up. A good politician would have anticipated and parried the attacks. Trump did not. Had he been smart, he would have spoken early and often to the leaders of both parties, and taken care to ensure that the meetings were recorded. In addition, he would have consulted some well-respected figures — people with solid reputations and roles outside the fray — who could subsequently vouch for his authenticity. When it came to doing the deed, he would have explained his thinking to Comey and thereby ensured that he knew it was coming. And perhaps, given the likelihood of uproar, he would have made a speech or given a televised address in which he justified his move to the public. “I understand that this is unorthodox,” he might have said, “but this question of James Comey continues to hang over the country, and I think it’s time to move on.” And then, having made his apology, he would have announced a bipartisan panel charged with picking the replacement.

Trump did none of these things. Instead, he unleashed chaos. By refusing to manage the announcement, he guaranteed speculation and panic. By failing to inform the firee, he made sure that there would be more leaks. And by declining to involve the Democrats, he prompted a new and lucrative fundraising drive. Over the next few months, we will see where this story goes. It could fizzle out, as it becomes clear that Trump’s primary crime is caprice. Or it could get worse and worse, ’til a smoking gun is uncovered. Either way, the president would do well to understand that he is often the author of his own falls. In politics, defense matters. Trump seems not to grasp that.

Happy Days Were Here Again

by Jack Fowler

We have ten copies, in excellent condition, of the hardcover copy of Bill Buckley’s 1993 collection of his best columns from the previous decade — Happy Days Were Here Again: Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist. Big and beautiful (498 pages), these are from WFB’s private stash. You can have a copy for $30. That will include postage and handling. Get yours from the National Review Online Store, here.

How Do You Keep False Information Away from the President?

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

How Do You Keep False Information Away from the President?

At the climax of the movie version of The Sum of All Fears, Jack Ryan has learned that Baltimore was just nuked by a weapon stolen from the Israels, not by the Russians. At a check point in the Pentagon, Ryan desperately pleads with a general to let him past a check point, needing to stop the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia, who are inching closer to a full-scale nuclear exchange: “General, the President is basing his decisions on some really bad information right now. And if you shut me out, your family, and my family, and twenty-five million other families will be dead in thirty minutes!”

I thought of that when I read this in Politico this morning:

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a stern warning at a recent senior staff meeting: Quit trying to secretly slip stuff to President Trump.

Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.

What’s really egregious about this hoax is that it’s completely unnecessary. No, there was no Time magazine cover about a coming ice age. But the other newsweekly ran an article with the same general theme:

On April 28, 1975, Newsweek published a provocative article, “The Cooling World,” in which writer and science editor Peter Gwynne described a significant chilling of the world’s climate, with evidence accumulating “so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.”

Right now, the president may be making “basing his decisions on some really bad information.” Of course,  we should recognize that even the world’s finest intelligence agencies can be fooled by elaborate efforts to sell a lie – i.e., when Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister is secretly recruited by Western intelligence, and he believes his country has an extensive program to develop weapons of mass destruction, our spies will believe him. But at least the intelligence agencies have their own methods for attempting to sort out truth from misinformation.

Even if you’re a fan of K.T. McFarland, keep in mind this informal system of giving President Trump unverified information can be used by the advisors you don’t like:

Priebus and White House staff secretary Rob Porter have tried to implement a system to manage and document the paperwork Trump receives. While some see the new structure as a power play by a weakened chief of staff – “He’d like to get a phone log too,” cracked one senior White House adviser—others are more concerned about the unfettered ability of Trump’s family-member advisers, Jared Kushne and Ivanka Trump, to ply the president with whatever paperwork they want in the residence sight unseen.

“They have this system in place to get things on his desk now,” the same White House official said. “I’m not sure anyone follows it.”

What are Americans supposed to do when Trump’s inner circle is feeding him Internet hoaxes?

‘Outside the Liberal Consensus’

by John J. Miller

Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth is a liberal who means well. He’s concerned about the virtual eradication of conservative ideas from America’s campuses. Over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal, he even called for “Affirmative action for the study of conservative ideas” (according to a subhead in the print edition). In his essay, he also wrote this:

Another new initiative for intellectual diversity, launched with the support of one our trustees, has created an endowment of more than $3 million for exposing students at Wesleyan to ideas outside the liberal consensus. This fall, our own academic departments and centers will begin offering courses and programs to cover topics such as “the philosophical and economic foundations of private property, free enterprise and market economies” and “the relationship of tolerance to individual rights, freedom and voluntary association.”

That’s nice, but look what he’s saying: private property, free enterprise, market economies, individual rights, and voluntary association are outside the liberal consensus.

What exactly does that leave inside the liberal consensus?

We’re Going to Knock Down a Wall, and the Germans Are Going to Pay for It

by Jack Fowler

As mentioned here sporadically, National Review will move its offices this Fall, so the commenced weeding-out process has uncovered hidden boxes. One, from what was Bill Buckley’s private stash, contains 20 copies of his acclaimed 2004 book, The Fall of the Berlin Wall. I haven’t read it in over a decade, but my strong recollection is that I thought Bill had done a masterful job: This book is really an excellent work of history, explaining not only why the infamous Wall fell, but why it was built, and what its consequences were.

So, the book was written by Bill. The actual books (softcover, but in perfect shape) – they were Bill’s. Good conservative karma! And now they can be yours for just $10 each, which includes shipping and handling. If you’d like a copy, then chop chop! – order directly now from the National Review Store. Dilly dally and you’re going to find the sad notice: sold out.