World

There’s an Obvious Problem with Rudy Giuliani’s Spin on Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani speaks at the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

We still don’t know the details of a whistleblower complaint that is “said” to involve Trump’s dealings with the new Ukrainian government, but we are learning of alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Chris Cuomo’s interview with Giuliani last night was truly wild. You can watch it here, but Giuliani first denies then admits asking Ukraine to investigate matters related to the Bidens:

Then, later today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump himself “repeatedly pressed” the new Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” whether allegations were true or not, one of the people said. Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation.

The president’s defenders are rightly emphasizing the lack of evidence (so far) of any express quid pro quo tying vital aid to Ukraine to an investigation of Trump’s political opponents, but there’s a key detail in the story above that undermines the notion that these eight alleged requests reflect the proper exercise of presidential diplomacy. This same key detail undermines Giuliani’s spin. Here’s Giuliani, earlier today:

But is Trump “doing his job” when he’s asking the “corrupt country” to work with his own personal counsel? Is it right for the president’s personal counsel to press an allied nation to investigate the president’s political opponents? Trump’s alleged request that Ukraine work with his personal counsel raises the issue of a potential personal political favor — at the same time that vital foreign aid to Ukraine was on the line. There is not a Republican alive who would find it acceptable for a Democratic president to press a foreign country to work with his personal lawyer to investigate a domestic political rival.

There is a pressing need for lawmakers to be informed of the substance of the whistleblower’s complaint — and to seek evidence that corroborates or refutes his account. And while the Wall Street Journal report is disturbing, it’s also important to note that it’s based in large part on anonymous sourcing. While Giuliani’s admitted efforts to spur a Ukrainian investigation are now widely known, we don’t yet know the whole truth (or anything close to the whole truth).

It’s time to get to the whole truth. Congress should hear the whistleblower’s complaint, let’s have a full accounting of the administration’s actions, and let’s also get a complete accounting of the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine. The president’s potential abuses of power don’t render the former vice president or his son immune from accountability for their own conflicts of interest or any other impropriety. My colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty made the correct call today. “On Ukraine, just the facts, please.”

Religion

Embracing Liberty in No Way Means Embracing Moral Relativism

(Pixabay)

As the think-pieces continue to rain down in the aftermath of my debate earlier this month with Sohrab Ahmari, it’s been discouraging to see the sheer number of conservative thinkers who seem to confuse the embrace of First Amendment jurisprudence with the embrace of “moral relativism” or to confine the principles of the American founding to something they call “liberal proceduralism,” a form of government somehow incompatible with the “politics of the common good.” For example, here’s Hadley Arkes arguing in the American Mind that I’m “retreating to moral relativism” by defending viewpoint neutral access to public facilities:

As I’ve argued sharply, some of our friends have sought to protect religious liberty by retreating to moral relativism. They are willing enough to credit religious sentiments as religious if they are “sincerely held.” They attach this importance to sincerity precisely because they don’t wish to reach any moral judgments on the legitimacy of what any religious group purports to teach. For that reason some of our friends, litigating these issues, refuse to rule out Satanists from the circle of believers they would protect.

When David French celebrated “viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities,” I took it as a signal that he had signed on to this relativism, which has been deepened now by the accession of two other friends, Justices Antonin Scalia and Neil Gorsuch. My reading of French then is that he would not have excluded Satanists from rooms at the University of Missouri.

I have in no way signed on to moral relativism. There’s no moral relativism anywhere to be found in my approach to American constitutional law, and he’s fundamentally wrong about the role of Justices Scalia and Gorsuch. It is (and was) not their task to protect or sanction overt viewpoint discrimination from the state — especially in the face of the text and history of the Constitution. Let’s break this down, step by step.

First, the protection of individual and associational freedoms — as defined by the Bill of Rights and the Civil War Amendments — is not an act of moral relativism. It’s a powerful moral affirmation of the equal dignity and worth of citizens before the state. In other words, the protection of liberty isn’t mere relativism or proceduralism, it is — in fact — a fundamental facet of the “politics of the common good.” The disestablishment of religion is not a neutral act. The protection of free exercise is not a neutral act. The protection of due process is not a neutral act. The declaration that persons in the United States enjoy “equal protection of the laws” is not a neutral act.

Second, when an individual uses that liberty to advance ideas we find repugnant, it is not “moral relativism” to argue that they nonetheless enjoy the same rights as anyone else to speak, associate, and proclaim their ideas. I can do two things at once — I can reach a moral judgment on the legitimacy of their ideas (and make my argument), and I can protect their freedom to disagree. That’s upholding two positive goods at once — the positive good of my own faith and the positive good of individual liberty.

Thus, the question isn’t whether we embrace “moral relativism,” but rather in what circumstances should we embrace the coercive power of the state to resolve a moral dispute. When the alleged harm in question is “exposure to repugnant ideas,” my answer to that question is going to be very close to “never.” I can condemn the repugnant idea. State officials can condemn the repugnant idea (so long as they don’t take punitive measures against its expression). The community can condemn the repugnant idea. Is that not enough?

I can’t help but think that there’s a first-principles question lurking at the heart of the modern debate over liberalism. Is liberty a blessing — a positive good — even if that liberty is exercised in ways that we might condemn? I say yes. I say that liberty is valuable even when I disagree with its exercise (so long as its exercise does not infringe on my own legally protected freedoms). I fear that some of my friends say no.

The state and its citizens possess complementary, non-delegable duties. It is the responsibility of the state (even as it pursues the common good through legislation and regulation) to pursue the common good by protecting individual and associational liberty as defined by the Constitution. It is the responsibility of citizens to exercise that individual and associational liberty in a manner that sustains and builds our constitutional republic. This is what John Adams was driving at when he wrote that our constitution was made for “moral and religious” people and is “wholly inadequate to the governance of any other.”

The history of the United States is a history of the ebb and flow of ideas. There has even been an ebb and flow in religious practice and faith. By historical standards, America isn’t as religious as it once was, but it’s still far more religious than it has been for much of its history. It remains among one of the most religious developed nations in the world, and its evangelical community may well be the single-most politically and economically powerful distinct religious community on the globe. That means that there remains within this country a truly immense amount of spiritual and moral capital to deal with the advance of despair and the challenge of secularism. It is not “moral relativism” to protect the very structures that permit the church to flourish and grant it wide access American hearts.

World

From Hong Kong

Tanya Chan at the United Nations in Geneva (Courtesy UN Watch)

She is from Hong Kong, yes — but, when I spoke to her earlier this week, she was in Geneva, where she had testified before the U.N. Human Rights Council (at the invitation of UN Watch, an invaluable organization, an NGO accredited at the U.N.). She is Tanya Chan, a legislator and democracy leader in Hong Kong. Our Q&A podcast is here.

Chan is a native of Hong Kong. I asked her a personal question: “Do you feel like a Hong Konger, or like a Chinese woman, or some blend?” Like a Hong Konger, is the answer. I asked her about the democracy movement in Hong Kong: What is its current mood? What does it want? Is what it wants obtainable? For that matter, who calls the shots in Hong Kong: the local government — we keep seeing the face of Carrie Lam — or the Party rulers in Beijing?

What about police brutality? (Every day, there are horrific reports, often accompanied by videos.) What about the presence of American flags on the streets? Are there saboteurs — people inserted into the democracy movement by the Party?

There is a lot to discuss, and Tanya Chan answers clearly, succinctly — even sweetly. She knows a lot. She has been in this city, and in this fight — this struggle, if you will — for a long time.

Earlier this year, she was sentenced to prison, owing to her support for Hong Kong rights. Her sentence was suspended, however. She had undergone a medical examination, in order to reassure her mother that she would be all right in prison — that she would survive the experience. Doctors discovered a brain tumor. She was operated on. She says she has made a full recovery.

I think you will enjoy meeting and listening to Tanya Chan, as I did. Again, the podcast is here.

U.S.

Sometimes Infants Are Born Alive after Abortion Procedures

Sign at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston, Mass. (Dominick Reuter)

Our own Mairead McArdle reported earlier today on news out of a hearing in California, where undercover investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are being prosecuted for filming abortion-industry executives discussing their contracts to sell fetal body parts to researchers.

During the hearing earlier this week, ob-gyn and long-time abortionist Dr. Forrest Smith testified that in order to obtain the body parts provided to researchers, abortionists would almost certainly have to alter the abortion procedure in a way that involves more risks for mothers and more easily leads to live births.

“There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births,” Smith said.

Smith’s testimony validated some of the information uncovered by Daleiden’s footage, most notably that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers would almost surely have to break the law and alter standard abortion procedures in order to obtain more valuable fetal organs.

But it also undercut an argument that abortion-rights advocates made earlier this year in their pushback against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a federal bill that would require doctors to provide the same standard of care to infants who survive an attempted abortion procedure as they would to any other newborn of the same gestational age.

Supporters of legal abortion insisted that the born-alive bill was anti-abortion fear-mongering used to restrict women’s health-care options and claimed that infants are never born alive after abortion, let alone left to die from lack of medical care. If they were so sure about this, one would think it wouldn’t be difficult to vote to outlaw such a gruesome practice. (They didn’t. Forty-four Democratic senators voted against the bill in late February, and Democratic leadership in the House has blocked more than 80 efforts by GOP representatives to bring the bill to the floor for debate.)

But Smith’s testimony suggests that, at the very least, the alteration of abortion procedures undertaken by providers who wish to profit from fetal tissue would result in live births. And if, as Smith believes, those births happened in clinics that had contracts to provide fetal organs to researchers, it isn’t difficult to imagine what happened to those newborn infants next.

World

What Happens to Saudi Arabia When the World Doesn’t Need Its Oil?

A man looks out over central Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from the Faisaliah Tower in 2003. (Peter MacDiarmid/Reuters)

Over on the homepage, our Kevin Williamson writes a really great, thought-provoking essay laying out how to synthesize the competing instincts of idealism and realism in the world, and particularly in the Muslim world. Read the whole thing; it’s difficult to summarize, but the gist is that if the United States really wants to prevent bad outcomes and increase the odds of good incomes, we need to be doing a lot of non-military intervention and relationship building with all kinds of forces for civil society in every country that matters to us. He concludes, “We can do better. But we can’t do it easily, we can’t do it on the cheap, and we can’t do it in a week.”

Whatever your worldview, you probably don’t believe that everything will turn out okay for the Middle East in the years and decades to come. Whether your big worry is an Iranian nuke, climate change, neo-nationalism, entropy, new aggression from China or Russia, cyber-warfare, or kaiju emerging from the sea, something’s probably going to come along to give us and our allies a bad day. “Be prepared” isn’t just a good motto for the Boy Scouts.

Back in George W. Bush’s second term, you heard a lot of Democrats, and quite a few Republicans talking about the importance of “ending our dependence upon foreign oil.” Democrats liked it because it meant spending more on alternative energy, Republicans liked it because it meant more drilling for oil and gas on U.S soil, and nobody liked being in a position where we needed to try to play nice with regimes in the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, and elsewhere.

But at the time, I remember having this nagging feeling of what would happen after America reached energy independence. Would we really tell the Saudi Kingdom, “you’re on your own, good luck?” (We sent a couple hundred troops back to Saudi Arabia in August.) Because if the Saudi government ever collapses or is overthrown, the regime that replaces them probably isn’t going to be nicer. No, the new bosses are probably going to be openly anti-American and jihadist, and that regime could get control of Mecca and Medina. And as difficult as our current troubles are, an ISIS-like regime running the Arabian Peninsula would be worse.

Fracking made those hopes of the mid-2000s come true. Here we are, in 2019, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, we should become a net exporter of oil by the end of 2020. This is amazing and a major accomplishment.

But there’s still that question of . . . what happens when we no longer need Saudi Arabia’s oil, and perhaps fewer and fewer people around the world will need it in the years to come? Yes, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest countries, but they can see the days of lucrative petroleum exports are coming to an end, sooner or later. One of the traits of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that had the international elites swooning back in 2017 was his plan to diversifying the country’s economy. A world that no longer needs Saudi Arabia’s oil means it changes from a wealthy and reasonably stable basket-case to a poor and unstable basket-case that administers the two holiest sites for a religion of a billion people. We might not like the Saudi kingdom, but we have an interest in what happens to them.

There are lots of Americans whose current instinct is to say, “who cares, they’re far away, and their culture is nothing like ours, let them sort out their own problems.” That was more or less the American response to the Syrian civil war, Rwanda, the Balkans throughout the first half of the 1990s, and the Taliban before 9/11. In many corners of the world, “sorting out their own problems” means mass bloodshed and genocide.

World

On Ukraine, Just the Facts, Please

Just want to draw more attention to Jim Geraghty’s great work in this morning’s Jolt on Donald Trump, Hunter Biden and Ukraine.

Geraghty is doing the work all of us need to be doing, which is not losing our heads in the partisan to and fro. It’s totally improper for President Trump to use (or even talk about using) the offices of state as if they were the RNC’s opposition research team. At the same time, it’s pretty clear that Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine looks shady as all get-out.

There’s video of Joe Biden bragging about threatening the withholding of promised American funds to Ukraine unless they got rid of prosecutor Viktor Shokin. There may have been good reasons for getting rid of this prosecutor, but the fact that he was, at this time, investigating the firm on which Biden’s son sat as a board member just stinks.

U.S.

What’s the Matter with Minnesota?

Jason Lewis, a Republican who served one term in the House and is now running for the Senate, has said that his party is controlled by “the Israeli lobby,” and that policymakers in the George W. Bush administration were dual citizens of Israel and the U.S. He specifically and falsely identified John Bolton as one of these dual citizens.

Republicans in Minnesota have been trying to make the state’s Democrats pay a political price for standing behind Rep. Ilhan Omar for her own comments about Israel and its supporters. They may have to repudiate Lewis if they wish to continue those efforts.

Energy & Environment

Federalism and the California Waiver

Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles at a Toyota dealership in El Cajon, Calif., in 2010. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

There has been a fair amount of notespeciallythoughtful commentary about the supposed conflict between conservatives’ support for federalism and the Trump administration’s attempt to stop California from setting air-pollution emissions standards for cars sold in the state.

It’s true that conservatives have often used simplistic rhetoric about federalism, speaking as though “states’ rights” should be maximized. But nobody — left, right, or center — truly believes this. Nobody truly believes that every state should be able to set product standards even if it meant that we could not have nationwide markets or had to have standards for those markets set by the strictest large state. Nobody believes that states should be able to have the right to regulate the air traffic above them however they see fit.

Nobody even believes that every state should be able to set its own emissions standards. The law at issue right now allows a waiver only for one state, California. The Trump administration’s critics aren’t clamoring to change the law to put all the other states on the same plane as California.

The law has given California a special status above that of the other 49 states for political and historical reasons, not because our federalist Constitution requires it. Arguably, the actual theory of the Constitution pushes in favor of having Congress and the courts protect national commerce from being carved up by the states. The waiver is a permissible, but not obligatory, exception to that rule.

Culture

Friday links

For Firefly fans — today is Unification Day.

Who Invented Rock, Paper, Scissors and What’s the Best Way to Win Consistently?

Tunnel Of Samos – how did the ancient Greeks dig a 4000-foot tunnel from both ends and meet exactly in the middle in the 6th century BCE, 200 years before Euclid?

Awkward Russian Food Art.

What country owns the North Pole?

The Evolution of the Typewriter.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include Dr. Samuel Johnson’s birthday, a bacon vending machine, the science of jumping from a moving train, and, from 1803, the Ottoman Empire’s first map of the new United States.

Elections

Story Time with David Brooks

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, September 12, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

His latest column imagines a future in which Elizabeth Warren wins the next presidential election.

Warren won convincingly. The Democrats built a bigger majority in the House, and to general surprise, won a slim Senate majority of 52 to 48.

After that election, the Republicans suffered a long, steady decline. Trump was instantly reviled by everyone — he had no loyal defenders. Only 8 percent of young people called themselves conservatives. Republican voters, mostly older, were dying out, and they weren’t making new ones. For the ensuing two decades the party didn’t resonate beyond its white rural base.

It could happen! But is it plausible? At the end of October 2008, President George W. Bush had a 25 percent approval rating in Gallup, well below anything Trump has recorded as president. The Republican party was associated with an economic meltdown and a foreign-policy disaster. Eight years later, it won elections for the House, the Senate, and the White House.

Brooks’s column goes on to imagine a recession that starts in 2021 and Democratic infighting that sinks Warren’s agenda and culminates in her losing the party’s nomination in 2024. Under those circumstances, the Republican party would probably take back one or both chambers of Congress in 2022.

Elections

Good Riddance, Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks with the media after meeting with president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City, November 16, 2016. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Bill de Blasio ended his presidential campaign today. If you’ve forgotten which candidate he was, he was the tall, abrasive one who didn’t make the third debate and who in the previous one kept trying to take shots at other candidates and interrupt the moderators. He’s also the mayor of New York City.

By the standards of modern American politicians, de Blasio is a really bad one, even when you put the ideological disagreements aside. He’s effectively abandoned his day job during his presidential campaign, spending a mere seven hours — less than one full workday — at City Hall during the month he launched his bid for the White House. He rarely meets with his own city commissioners.

Both as mayor and presidential candidate, de Blasio is always moving on to the next big and exceptionally impractical proposal — Ban steel and glass skyscrapers! Eliminate the gifted and talented programs from public schools! — while other, bigger problems on his constituents’ minds fester.

The city’s public housing is overrun with rats, leaks, mold, and lead paint. The number of homeless students hit a new record. The city’s bus system is the slowest in the nation, and he steers millions to poorly performing school bus companies. (The one area where you probably shouldn’t blame the mayor is the condition of the city’s subways, which are actually run by the state of New York, not the city. Blame governor Andrew Cuomo for your late trains.) His relationship with the city police started bad and got worse.

Bill de Blasio loves big, symbolic gestures that require sacrifices from other people, like instituting meatless Mondays in city public schools, more than he likes any noticeable sacrifice for himself, like not taking his SUV to the gym every day.

In July, The Onion mocked de Blasio as a man who had grown utterly oblivious to his own responsibilities and failures:

 PLEASANT HILL, IA—Shaking his head as he watched coverage of the city’s flooded subway system during a campaign stop, presidential candidate Bill de Blasio was overheard remarking Tuesday that New York appeared to be a complete and total disaster. “I can’t believe how miserable and hopeless that place looks,” de Blasio said as he visited the Pleasant Hill Diner in Iowa, observing that if he were elected president, then perhaps New Yorkers wouldn’t have to worry about such terrible things happening anymore. “How can people there stand it? I know I don’t want to live in a place like that. Somebody really ought to do something.” Before his aides ushered him to his next campaign event, De Blasio took one last look at the television and muttered that he was glad he didn’t have to deal with any of that mess.

The mayor is a particularly virulent example of a common type of elected official, the one who’s much more interested in campaigning than governing. He’s a progressive Democrat in New York City; he began his term with a city full of people who agreed with him and wanted to see him succeed. The press would have loved to have written the story of the Sandinista-supporting former David Dinkins aide and Hillary Clinton campaign manager who brought about a golden age to the country’s biggest city. But as he failed to deliver, his coverage got more critical, and de Blasio treated the press with increasingly open hostility and contempt.

Culture

Watch: Kat Timpf Explains Why It’s Not Fall Just Yet

In a new video for National Review, Kat Timpf rejects the flood of social media posts advertising fall and leaving summer in the dust. That’s because it isn’t September 23 just yet.

Culture

Twelve Things That Caught My Eye Today (September 20, 2019)

1. Indiana bishop offers cemetery for burial of aborted remains

2. One of the reasons I started focusing more on foster care and adoption is because they often only come up in the news when there something abhorrent happens or when there is a political clash (usually involving same-sex marriage, now transgender issues, too). More educational and reform efforts are needed. But, oh my goodness, what this child suffered

Naomi Schaefer Riley’s report published last week really does need to make the statehouse rounds.

3. “Ulrich Klopfer’s treatment of aborted babies is horrifying, but not shocking

4. During Brexit storm, U.K.’s efforts to protect religious freedom fly under the radar

5. Salena Zito: Repurposing ‘America’s Hometown’

6. Our John J. Miller with the Houses of Worship column in the Wall Street Journal today: “When a Mob Descended on Mass

7. Peggy Noonan on the left and Brett Kavanaugh (also, WSJ, of course)

8. Matt Continetti: “Kavanaugh and the Crisis of Legitimacy

9. A call to close Riker’s Island in New York

10. Who invented religious freedom?

11. This sounds like a needed event in NY: Old Age as a Time of Grace? A discussion about caring for the elderly in the 21st Century

12. The new book A Year with the Mystics is 10 percent off at Amazon

PLUS:

I’ll be talking about A Year with the Mystics in D.C. on Tuesday night. Details here.

If you’re in New York, join me for a conversation about the virtue of hope with Pete Wehner, Michael Wear, and Kristen Hanson.

Law & the Courts

Kavanaugh Book Charges Him with Being a ‘Known Bro’

Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh (Doug Mills/Pool via Reuters)

The campaign against Brett Kavanaugh can be summarized in one word. He is or was a bro. A bro is a highly masculine, at times loutish jock, very possibly a privately educated one. Rich white preppy entitled jocks are terrible. We all hate those. Who knows what they’re capable of? They might be capable of gang rape or waggling their junk in somebody’s face at a party. Really, you should believe anything you hear about a bro. To understand Brett Kavanaugh, first think about your own bad experiences with a bro you dated, or talk to someone who has dated a bro.

Matthew Hennessey of the Wall Street Journal flags this remarkable passage from The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. “While Gorsuch was largely uncontroversial, Kavanaugh was a known ‘bro,’ a highly social animal whose proximity to powerful men had raised uncomfortable questions about his connection to their own controversial policies.”

A known “bro”! For “bro,” substitute “black” or “Latino” and you begin to see the problem. The word “bro” is a stereotype derived from invidious group assumptions. We shouldn’t do this. Is this really what decades of national soul-searching about cultural stereotypes have brought us to? Is the lesson we learned merely “turn your hateful stereotypes against a different target”? The woke clickbait mills would enthusiastically argue the latter, and their attitudes have filtered down to members of the mainstream media and the Democratic party who pay far too much attention to what people are angry about on Twitter.

Are you now, or have you ever been a bro? This is the underlying question behind all of that nonsensical chatter about Brett Kavanaugh’s teenaged yearbook jokes. Rarely has there been a more embarrassing spectacle than watching the Democratic members of the august Senate Judiciary Committee asking a Supreme Court nominee what he meant by references to “boofing” and “Devil’s Triangle” when he was a teen. It was all meant to establish a pattern: He was a bro.

If Kavanaugh was a bro — a guy who drank a lot of beer and was a member of the notorious bro fraternity DKE and once got in a dustup at Demery’s (a bro-beloved restaurant and bar on the Yale campus, as the many Yalies who have covered this story know) — we should put aside our normal skepticism about the dirt that gets thrown around when someone is nominated to a top job.  We should ignore the possible partisan motives of the people making charges against him. We should no longer be skeptical, as we ordinarily would be, of people who are unwilling to go on the record with their story or to tell it under oath. We should no longer be skeptical about the veracity of a dimly remembered 35-year-old story involving drink. All of the random stuff that reporters hear and normally dismiss because it’s too weak to print should instead be treated as a smoking gun. We should be inclined to believe all of the dubious and unsubstantiated charges against a bro. “Obviously it is of a piece with a kind of behavior,” Pogrebin said, when explaining why she printed an unsubstantiated smear. It isn’t obvious at all. No charge against Kavanaugh was credible. Christine Blasey Ford’s was the most credible one and it is not believed by her own longtime friend.

Reporters and columnists, particularly women reporters and columnists, treated Kavanaugh as a suspect rather than as someone who enjoyed the presumption of innocence. “Bro” is a term that implies someone habitually treated others badly, so it’s okay to treat him badly. It means exculpatory evidence should be downplayed or even left out of a newspaper story.

I’d be very interested to know how many women writers think what Caitlin Flanagan said aloud: That Kavanaugh was guilty because she had had a bad experience with a guy who reminded her of Kavanaugh.

Politics & Policy

What We’ve Been Reading

Today’s Martin Center article is a compilation of short pieces by staff members on interesting things we have been reading. Corner readers will probably find some ideas on books and articles worth pursuing.

My contribution, e.g., is on a recent essay in the NAS journal Academic Questions. It was written by criminology professor Mike Adams on the topic of “queer criminology.” What is that? It’s another leftist incursion into an academic field to plant the victimhood narrative.

Jenna Robinson is reading Jacques Barzun’s great book From Dawn to Decadence. It is Barzun’s survey of 500 years of Western cultural development and decline.

Jay Schalin has recently read an article on “groupthink.” That has become a key phenomenon among academics today, but the article dates back to 1971. Today’s problems have deep roots.

Anthony Hennen discusses an article on the decision by Swarthmore College to end intercollegiate football. You might think that a prestigious liberal arts college could manage that easily, but Hennen reports that it turned out to be very difficult.

And Shannon Watkins is reading Nadine Strossen’s latest book, a defense of free speech against the “progressive” argument that anything they call “hate speech” has no constitutional protection and should be censored.

Most Popular

U.S.

How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More
U.S.

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More
Education

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More
World

Iran’s Act of War

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is ... Read More