Magazine August 15, 2011, Issue

The Week

Rahm Emanuel (Roman Genn)

‐ Mr. Strauss-Kahn seems quite well qualified to be prime minister — of Italy. 

‐ Rep. Michele Bachmann and former governor Tim Pawlenty, both Minnesotans, have been trading jabs as they run for president. Pawlenty says she has never accomplished much in government and often gets her facts wrong, and he took the opportunity to needle her over the migraine story (see below). Bachmann says he was a squishy governor who left the state with a budget mess. There are elements of truth in both sets of accusations. Pawlenty was as conservative a governor as Minnesota has had, but he did bend from time to time. Bachmann is opportunistic, on the other hand, in repeating the Democratic/liberal-Republican line that Pawlenty is to blame for the recent budget standoff. (Their indictment: He should have raised taxes.) Pawlenty has not shown grace under pressure in responding to Bachmann. These candidates clearly get under each other’s skin, so don’t expect to see any “Minnesota nice” on display.

‐ Former aides to Representative Bachmann went to the press, anonymously, to say that the presidential candidate had been hospitalized on several occasions because of migraine headaches resulting in part from stress. Bachmann then released a statement from a doctor who has seen her and who attests that her condition is well controlled. And there, barring further information, is where the story should end. Voters should know whether the candidate is up to the demands of the job, physically and psychologically. Based on the public record, Representative Bachmann is.

‐ Google “Marcus Bachmann” and the first suggested search is “Marcus Bachmann gay.” It’s going to be that kind of campaign, because his wife scares the crusty Birkenstocks off of the Left. Mr. Bachmann is a Christian (second search suggested by Google: “Marcus Bachmann Jewish”), he accepts his faith’s historic teachings on sex and marriage, and he runs a counseling center. Ergo, he is the reincarnation of Josef Mengele. Mr. Bachmann’s particular crime in the eyes of the Left is that his practice will, if requested, offer counseling to people who have homosexual inclinations from which they wish to be free. His critics began by denouncing him as a snake-oil salesman and quickly escalated to denouncing him as a closet homosexual. Among those making the accusation is Jon Stewart, the Walter Cronkite of attention-deficit Democrats. Exhibiting equal vulgarity, a gay blogger in Los Angeles has offered a $10,000 bounty for proof that Mr. Bachmann is gay. There isn’t an atom of evidence that he is, of course, and there was a time, right around the mid-1990s, when Democrats regarded inquiring into the sex lives of public figures as a species of witch hunt. But now they think they’ve found a witch.

‐ Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, a noted Democrat, believes that he has discovered the main impediment to job growth: President Obama. “The business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the president of the United States,” he said in a conference call with investors. “This administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.” Mr. Wynn might note that the administration’s chief legislative enabler is his dear friend Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, and that his continued support of Reid helps ensure that President Obama’s “weird political philosophy” becomes the law of the land.

‐ Herman Cain continues to demonstrate that his impressive skills as a corporate executive are not readily transferable to a campaign for the presidency. Weighing in on a controversy surrounding the construction of a mosque in Tennessee, Cain opined: “It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion.” But of course it is our freedom of religion that allows for the construction of mosques. Mr. Cain talks about restoring the Constitution. Perhaps he ought to give it a read.

‐ Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has paused between challenging teachers’ unions and taming the Democratic legislature to approve a plan that allows the dispensation of marijuana for medical reasons. Unlike some states’ medical-marijuana schemes, in which shady “clinics” are everywhere and declaring yourself subject to headaches or low spirits is enough to get a prescription, the New Jersey plan will distribute marijuana from six state-licensed dispensaries only, and strict medical protocols will be observed. While we favor having no limits at all on marijuana sales to adults, this could be a case where strong regulation is better than weak, because setting up obstacles to selling marijuana and then accepting virtually any excuse as medically valid merely creates a class of dishonest parasites.

#page#‐ Rupert Murdoch’s travails continue to leak into politics in Britain and possibly here. Tory prime minister David Cameron has joined the pack of Murdoch critics, because Andy Coulson, one of the News Corporation employees allegedly behind the late News of the World’s phone hacking, later worked as Cameron’s communications director. Cameron had best be nimble — as a man of no ideology, he has no base to fall back on. The glib moderate is ever prey to the ill winds of fortune. Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating whether the phones of 9/11 victims were hacked. Shame on the hackers if true. Of more interest politically, four Democratic senators asked Eric Holder to investigate whether News Corporation — incorporated in Delaware — violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing British cops for tips. Would such payments constitute “obtaining or retaining business” — the actions forbidden by the statute? Were they hidden in News Corporation’s books — a possible SEC violation? File it under Battlespace Preparation, 2012 Elections.

‐ One thing went right for the world in Parliament’s grilling of Rupert Murdoch over the hacking scandal: When a “comic” named Jonnie Marbles threw a plate of foam at him, Marbles was smacked by Wendi Deng, the victim’s tiger wife, and reviled by fans of decorum and enemies of Murdoch (who felt the tycoon had been made to seem sympathetic) alike. There can be a place for the clever heckle. But throwing objects, even as lightweight as cream pies or foam, crosses the line, however slightly, to violence, dishonestly disguised as humor. A comic would have thought of a clever jibe, but that would have left him open to a retort — which Marbles would have been even less able to deal with than he was with Wendi Deng’s hook.

‐ Texas governor Rick Perry (R.), noting that New York has enacted a law recognizing same-sex marriage, said, “That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the Tenth Amendment, stay out of their business.” Nobody disputes that New York has the legal power to redefine marriage within its borders. But there is a powerful contingent that disputes whether Texas has the power to deny legal recognition to same-sex marriage: that seeks to use the courts to force all states to provide such recognition. President Obama is in this camp. Even though he claims to oppose same-sex marriage himself, he also seeks the repeal or judicial invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to preserve the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Governor Perry may be, as his supporters insist, a fine federalist and an impeccable social conservative. But taking the right side in a battle is useless unless you know where the battle lines are.

‐ Opponents of same-sex marriage have long argued that if legal sanction is extended to such unions, it will be impossible in principle to resist demands for recognition of bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, and incestuous unions. Sure enough, here is eminent law professor Jonathan Turley, in a New York Times op-ed, arguing that the polygamous Brown family of Utah — Mr. Brown, his four wives, and their 16 children — should be left alone by state authorities, who have been bothering them. “They want to be allowed to create a loving family according to the values of their faith.” Professor Turley is lead counsel for the Browns in a challenge they have filed to their state’s criminal law. Yes, it’s a slippery slope. At the top of that slope is the traditional conservative conviction that heterosexual pairing is the only arrangement conformable to natural law and therefore the only sure foundation for social stability. At the bottom of the slope is the libertarian view that the state has no business in our private lives beyond enforcing their legal-contractual aspects, and the needs of children can be addressed ad hoc. Which of these positions prevails will determine the moral landscape of 21st-century America.

#page#‐ Details continue to trickle out regarding Fast and Furious — the bizarre sting operation in which federal agents allowed Mexican drug cartels to purchase firearms from American gun shops and then waited for the weapons to turn up at crime scenes. Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, met with congressional investigators on Independence Day, and the details of that meeting emerged in a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) to Attorney General Eric Holder. Melson at last conceded that agents allowed trafficked guns out of their surveillance, and accused the Obama administration of trying to deflect blame for the program away from political appointees. It also seems that at least one of the people the misbegotten operation had in its sights was actually an FBI informant. Further, news broke that two targets of the program had been arrested for felonies in the past — and yet these suspects managed to buy more than 350 guns before being arrested. The Justice Department, meanwhile, continues to avoid answering simple questions, such as: How was this program supposed to work, and who within the Obama administration knew about it?

‐ Minnesota governor Mark Dayton (D.) thought he could bully the Republican-led state legislature into approving his state budget. Instead of planning to spend just the $34 billion the state was expected to receive in the next biennium, as Republicans wanted, Dayton demanded a $37 billion budget, funded by a more “progressive” income tax on individuals making more than $1 million. When Republicans refused, Dayton forced a 20-day government shutdown, the longest in state history. Two weeks into it, however, he caved, jettisoning his call for tax hikes. In exchange, Republicans surrendered their plan to cut 15 percent of the state workforce. It’s not hard to see why compromise was reached: When MillerCoors’s liquor license expired, the paper pushers at the licensing agency were on furlough. The brewer, which supplies 38 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota, almost had to take its products off state shelves, and the public was less than pleased. Now, the state budget will spend only about $35 billion. It will pay for the $1 billion increase with accounting gimmicks and new debt, but, by stopping a tax increase, Republicans have shown voters the value of having given them control of the legislature last fall.

‐ Rahm Emanuel, elected mayor of Chicago this February past and formerly Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, is not best known for restrained diffidence in dealing with adversaries. In an interview with NBC’s Mary Ann Ahern, Emanuel was asked which Chicago school he would be sending his kids to. He got testy, telling the interviewer it was none of her business. When she persisted he unclipped his lapel mike, dropped it on the floor, and headed for the door. Ahern later reported that when the cameras had stopped rolling, Emanuel came back: “The Mayor of Chicago positioned himself inches from my face and pointed his finger directly at my head. . . . How dare I ask where his children would go to school!” A politician’s desire to shield his loved ones from the coarse combat of his job is commendable. For a left-liberal politician of the Democratic persuasion who would rather his children not attend the public schools whose employees’ union dues fund his party, and whose virtues he is therefore obliged constantly to praise, family privacy is also a mighty convenient trapdoor through which to escape charges of hypocrisy.

#page#One for the History Books

The National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee has collected data on every American recession since the 1850s. These data make clear that America has experienced economic calamity many times. The Great Recession that began in December 2007 was a much longer recession than Americans had grown used to, but our grandparents and great-grandparents saw far worse.

The latest recession lasted a painful 18 months, more than double the length of the two previous ones. But if we look back to 1854, that duration seems relatively short. Between 1865 and 1885, there were three recessions that lasted more than 32 months, and since 1854 there have been twelve recessions (out of 33 total) that lasted at least as long as our “Great” one.

Which means that there was ample historical opportunity for a president to preside over a terrible economy, and there are many possible candidates for the worst presidential economic record in modern American history.

Perhaps the most commonly relied-upon metric of economic well-being is job creation. The nearby chart draws on job-creation data that go back to 1890, spanning a period with seven recessions that were at least as long as the Great Recession. The chart provides the job-creation records for the five worst presidents over that period. In order to adjust for the changing size of the workforce, job creation is measured in terms of percentage change, and the change is calculated over the first two and a half years of a president’s term in order to allow direct comparison with President Obama.

Source: 1890–1947 from David R. Weir’s “A Century of U.S. Unemployment, 1890–1990”; 1948–2011 from BLS

It is perhaps no surprise that Herbert Hoover’s job-creation record is the worst, since his first two and a half years encompassed the dawn of the Great Depression. But it is surprising, given how terrible recessions were before World War I, that Barack Obama is solidly entrenched in second place. During his first two and a half years, employment has dropped about half a percentage point. Other than Hoover and Obama, no modern American leader has presided over negative job growth for a comparable period.

Obama’s supporters might suggest that the jobs picture would have been far worse without the president’s big-government, high-regulation policies. But past presidents were far less ambitious in hard times, and saw far better results. To put that in perspective, consider that government spending has increased relative to GDP by 3.1 percentage points under President Obama. In 1900, total federal spending was 3.1 percent relative to GDP.

Our great-grandparents may have seen worse recessions than we have, but they did not see a worse president.

#page#‐ To what degree should bad parenting concern the public authorities? Plainly there is some point at which it should. Opinions differ, naturally, on just where. Obesity specialist Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston (which is affiliated with Harvard University) recently editorialized in the Journal of the American Medical Association that morbidly obese children with serious obesity-related health problems should be placed in public care. His case is not a contemptible one; but expansions of state power over the private lives of citizens, however disorderly, should be resisted. Should children addicted to computer games likewise be placed in care? Children whose parents smoke? The state may validly, via public-service announcements, inform and encourage us, but it cannot make us good. Nor can it remedy every possible instance of the immemorial principle that the sins of the parent must, in some measure, be visited upon the child.

‐ Quick action by Senate Republicans (and Joe Lieberman) thwarted an administration plan to release the Hezbollah commander who built Iran’s Shiite terror network in Iraq. U.S. forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq in Iraq shortly after his network abducted and murdered five American soldiers in Karbala in 2007. They also captured two of the terrorist ringleaders, Qais and Laith Khazali. The Obama administration transferred the Khazali brothers to Iraq for release in a prisoner exchange for five British hostages (four of whom turned out to be dead) — a reckless departure from U.S. doctrine against negotiating with terrorists. In May, Obama’s Justice Department provoked congressional ire by signaling that it would bring Daqduq to the U.S. for a civilian trial. With a looming year’s-end deadline for transferring prisoners to Iraq, and seeking to avoid another debacle like the DoJ’s failed effort to give 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial, the administration apparently decided to release this enemy to return to the jihad against our troops rather than anger the president’s base by sending him to Gitmo for military detention and trial. A letter from the senators to the Defense Department embarrassed the administration into calling off the plan — for now.

‐ If you could resist a smile when hearing this news, you’re a better man than we: President Obama’s ratings in the Arab world are now lower than those of George W. Bush, when he left office. We could cite many examples of Obama’s conceit and hubris, but take just one, from the ’08 campaign: “I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated . . . not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently.” The candidate continued, “The world will have confidence that I am listening to them, and that our future and our security is tied up with our ability to work with other countries in the world.” Not so easy, is it, Mr. President?

‐ Often, Europeans and American liberals ask why American conservatives have so little respect for the United Nations. Next time they ask, you could tell them this: North Korea is chairing the Conference on Disarmament. If that’s not good enough, you could add this: Iran is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. That should answer their question.

‐ In Sweden, 46-year-old Roger Tullgren has been collecting income-support payments from the state ever since his obsession with heavy-metal music was declared a mental disability. (Bear in mind, this is a land where enthusiasm for Abba and lutfisk is considered normal.) Tullgren’s condition, first diagnosed by a Swedish psychometallurgist in 2007, also gives him the right to skip work so he can attend concerts, and to wear heavy-metal gear to his job (as a kitchen porter — surprisingly high-skilled for a metalhead). It is easy to call this a case of socialism gone wild, or to say that Sweden’s disability policy is to genuine concern for mental health as Slayer is to Mozart, but the same thing could easily happen here. After all, British headbangers have been asked to list their religion as “heavy metal” on this year’s census by no less a personage than Biff Byford, whose preppie-sounding name belies his occupation as frontman for the durable band Saxon. So an American metal fan could easily exact similar concessions under the First Amendment doctrine of “reasonable accommodation” for religious practices. As Oscar Wilde should have said, these days people are religious about everything except religion.

‐ While President Obama’s job-approval rating hovers stubbornly in the mid-40s, he can take comfort in the fact that God Himself barely commands majority support. According to a survey conducted in late July by the Democratic polling company Public Policy Polling, 52 percent of respondents felt that “if God exists” they approve of “its performance.” (PPP explained that “because not everyone who believes in God believes God to be male,” referring to God as “it” was “more inclusive.”) Majorities also approved of God’s handling of the issues apparently falling within His purview: the creation of the universe, natural disasters, and — inexplicably — animals. No word from the pollsters on what God thinks of us.

‐ At this writing, Al Sharpton is set to host a show on MSNBC. Apparently, his days of inciting riots and making false accusations of rape are over. He’s Mainstream Al now. But if ratings are stubbornly low, maybe MSNBC will ask him to revert?

#page#‐ In other MSNBC news, Contessa Brewer has done it again. This beautiful anchorwoman’s career has been a joy to follow. In the summer of 2009, she said, “There are questions about whether this has racial overtones.” She was talking about a pro-gun rally outside a hall where President Obama was giving a speech. “I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns.” Her network was showing a man packing heat. They were showing only the middle of his body. Then it turned out the man was black. Oops. A couple of months later, she introduced Jesse Jackson as . . . Al Sharpton. Do all the reverends look alike to her? A conservative would have been impaled. Now she has had an exchange with Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican. She was trying to educate him about economics, telling him that, without the Democrats’ massive spending, we would be in a depression. Brooks said he disagreed. Brewer asked, sniffily, “Do you have a degree in economics?” With calm courtliness, he replied, “Yes, ma’am, I do. Highest honors.” Every once in a while, watching MSNBC is a pleasure.

‐ Johann Hari made a reputation for himself by flooding the columns of the Independent (London) with maximum political correctness. (He also wrote a sneering account of a National Review cruise.) In 2008, judges appointed by the Media Standards Trust — as the name implies, it is somewhere between a busybody and a toothless watchdog — awarded a “George Orwell Prize” to him. Orwell’s integrity had marked the world in his day, and Hari enjoyed association with it. But not so fast. Attentive readers spotted that he has the habit of splicing into his articles quotations taken from elsewhere without attribution. As if the charge of plagiarism were not enough, it also turns out that he has gone in for exaggeration in his reportage, and deception in blogging against his critics under a false name. His editor at first expressed confidence in Hari, but later was obliged to suspend him as the evidence of malpractice mounted. An internal investigation is now under way. Whatever the newspaper comes up with, the Trust people have let it be known that they will be withdrawing their prize from what Orwell’s famous Newspeak would reduce to doubleplusungood Hari.

‐ Amy Winehouse sang like someone much older than she was: a 60-year-old R&B queen, perhaps. She will now never grow into her voice. Reports that she had bought a cornucopia of drugs before her death were contradicted by her family, but the damage had already been done during years of punishing indulgence. There is a respectable argument that drug legalization would cause levels of use, after an initial rise, to fall over time. Such a curve, if true, would scarcely have helped her (one of her poisons was alcohol, legal here since 1933 and in Britain forever). Drugs are a handy tool for the suicidal: a word to those with any wisdom in them. Among the reams of tabloid copy, she left a delightful album. Dead at 27, R.I.P.

‐ Nguyen Cao Ky was a 34-year-old South Vietnamese air-force officer when he took control of the country in a 1965 coup. His rise to the top ended a cycle of mid-Sixties coups and plots; when he was finally shunted aside, he went peacefully. The new government of South Vietnam was too corrupt, however, to win the approval of American liberals. Ky returned their scorn, telling journalist Oriana Fallaci that America and the white race were played out. He flew a chopper out of Saigon as it fell, and sought refuge in the United States. In the 2000s, he reconciled with the Communists and tried to boost investment in Vietnam. His style was flashy: thin mustache, black flight suit, purple scarf. Ky was a Vietnamese patriot with insufficient gifts, insufficient luck, and insufficient allies. Dead at 80. R.I.P.

‐ Lucian Freud revitalized the art of portrait painting. The work was always formal, a completely finished and realistic study in character. His models, whether men or women, were usually naked, and the frailty of their flesh, the whole pitiful clumsiness of the human being, was at the center of this artist’s disquieting vision. His view of the world and its inhabitants was as concentrated and personal as that of his famous grandfather Sigmund. Born in Berlin but escaping while still young from Hitler, he carried something of the refugee about him, as if always on the run to somewhere else. His cold eye and dismissive manner were the talk of the town. So were his bohemian habits. He is supposed to have fathered more children than could be counted and to have gambled away the immense sums his pictures brought in. He had no time for journalists or critics. How to make the next picture an immortal work of art was really all that mattered. He died at the age of 88. R.I.P.


Debt Burdens

For anyone who expected transformational changes from the fight over the debt-limit increase, Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the limit is a disappointment. But as a way to begin to control Washington’s spending, and to avoid the potential economic and political downsides should the debt fight go wrong, it is a worthy framework.

The Boehner plan increases the debt limit by $1 trillion, or a little less, immediately. At the same time, it would cap discretionary spending so that the government has to spend roughly $1 trillion less over the next ten years than it currently plans to. These caps would be enforceable law, valid unless both houses of Congress and the president decided to break them. In the second phase of the plan, a bipartisan congressional committee would recommend roughly $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction. Congress would consider the recommendations under an expedited procedure, and if they passed, President Obama could ask for another debt increase of $1.5 trillion to get beyond the 2012 election.

The advantages of the plan are that it does not raise taxes, it imposes some spending restraint, and it reduces the risk of disruption to credit markets. It could get through the Senate and, if it did, President Obama would almost certainly have to sign it — which would be a political defeat, given that the president first sought an unconditional increase in the debt limit, subsequently sought tax increases, and is now implying that he will not sign a short-term deal.

But the Boehner plan has downsides, too, which its proponents would be wise to acknowledge and, where possible, remedy. The initial savings are tiny — and will likely remain so even as Boehner scrambles to revise the plan to make it more palatable to conservatives. (The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the real cut from this fiscal year to the next would be a pathetic $1 billion.) The big numbers accrue only over time, and who knows what Congress is going to look like five, eight, or ten years from now? While the first tranche of the plan features, in theory, a one-for-one match of spending cuts to increased borrowing authority, no one can say what would happen with the second tranche. The committee the plan sets up smacks of typical Washington buck-passing, and it could become a vehicle for a tax increase along the lines of what the Gang of Six proposed. The plan might not impress the rating agencies enough to prevent a downgrade to the federal government’s credit.

Thus we understand the skepticism of House conservatives. They should by all means work to improve the plan. In particular, they should try to make the up-front cuts and the total savings larger. If they can’t strip out the committee the plan establishes, they should push to stipulate that it may recommend spending cuts but not tax increases, and insist that Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell commit to naming the likes of Jeb Hensarling, Paul Ryan, and Scott Garrett — anti-taxers and spending hawks all — to the committee. Boehner, for his part, should be open to these changes. He wants a plan that can pass the Senate and believes his qualifies. But the Democratic Senate is bound to make some changes. So let Boehner first concentrate on getting a majority in the House and then go to the Senate with a stronger negotiating position.

What House conservatives should not do, we think, is simply work to blow up the plan in the hope that wondrous things will happen when it explodes. Some of our friends in the House seem to think that if they push the stalemate far enough that the government hits the debt limit, victory will fall into their laps and scores of Democrats will go along with a constitutional amendment that requires balanced budgets and limits spending. It is more likely that, with Republicans having openly pushed for blowing the deadline, they will be blamed for any negative consequences. Senate Republicans may cut and run even before that point, isolating the House and making it more likely that a rump of House Republicans will work along with Democrats to pass something worse than the Boehner plan. The least likely outcome is that liberals will sign a suicide note by acquiescing, in the next week or two, to the enshrinement of conservative fiscal goals in the Constitution.

The Boehner plan, even in modified form, is surely not the sort of compromise House freshmen envisioned passing when they came to Washington. But they have already made a difference. Without them, a clean debt-limit increase or a Gang of Six deal would have likely passed Congress. Without them, there would be no spending cuts at all. But a plan that does everything we conservatives think necessary to secure our fiscal future cannot be enacted in today’s Washington. The election of Barack Obama in 2008, and the Democratic retention of the Senate in 2010, had consequences that continue to this day.

The 2012 elections will have consequences, too. If Obama is reelected, the further socialization of American medicine will proceed and the modernization of entitlements will not. Taxes will very likely go up. If Republicans want to return the federal government to its proper constitutional dimensions, the legislation they advance now must do as much good as possible while also laying the groundwork for the election of conservatives, and the defeat of liberals, in 15 months. The easier they make it for Obama to blame Republicans for hurting the economy with debt-limit brinkmanship, the more they will undermine that goal.

What Republicans should do, then, is simple, albeit difficult. Cut spending. Hold the line on taxes. Avoid a fiscal crisis. Defeat Obama and Senate Democrats. And with a new mandate and additional allies, set to work bringing lasting change to Washington.


Mass Murder in Norway

Anders Breivik’s mannequin-handsome visage has gone around the world, as he hoped. The 32-year-old Norwegian killed eight people with a bomb in downtown Oslo, then killed almost 70, execution style, on a nearby island youth camp of the ruling Labor party. Everyone must sympathize with the dead, with their family and friends, and with a country rudely thrust into a violent nightmare.

Breivik is no psychotic loner, like Jared Loughner or the Virginia Tech shooter, but a politically minded mass-murderer, like Timothy McVeigh and the jihadist terrorists who have afflicted the world in the last dozen years. Breivik posted a 1,500-page manifesto online, rife with bizarre touches: He quoted long swatches from Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and showed a video-gamer’s fascination with the Knights Templar (he posed in a made-up uniform, complete with self-awarded medals).

His basic analysis seems clear enough. He feared Muslim domination of Europe and the “cultural Marxism” that enabled it. That is not an impossible prospect, and he decorated his analysis with quotations from sensible commentators on the terror war and its causes, including Mark Steyn, Rod Dreher, Daniel Pipes, and other NR writers. Unlike them and us, however, his strategy was to ignite a literal revolution against Europe’s corrupt governing class. His targets were an array of “traitors” (whom he helpfully divided into Class A and Class B), ranging from most of the Norwegian establishment to Prince Charles; he evidently hoped that Norway’s former prime minister would be at the Labor party camp he attacked. His thought-world was classically extreme: All is lost, apocalypse now. So were his methods: He took the weapons of violence into his own hands, and directed them not against his ultimate enemies but against those who failed to fight them. He said he acted alone, but he also claimed like-minded fellows throughout Europe.

Leftists and radical Muslims will use Breivik as a stick to beat their own political enemies. That is par for the course. The defenders of the West say to Breivik and any potential admirers that he was as thoughtless as he is wicked. The tools of struggle in free societies are argument, politics, and war, the declaration of which is reserved to duly constituted authorities and the conduct of which is not to deliberately target the peaceable. Christians, who are assured that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against them, have additional weapons: faith, hope, and charity. The fight will be long. Good police work should be able to keep Breivik’s few fellow enragés under wraps. Jihadi violence, by contrast, is incubated in failed states, funded by rogue states and freelance donors, and propagated through a network of sympathizers worldwide.

Norway unfortunately has no death penalty. At least Anders Breivik will live long enough to see his thoughts and causes returned to a well-deserved obscurity.


Dorothy McCartney, R.I.P.

In its earliest days, National Review identified itself on its cover as “A Journal of Fact and Opinion.” For the last 36 years many of those facts were wrangled, sifted, and marshaled by Dorothy McCartney (1953–2011).

She came to NR from Smith. In short order her office at the old building on East 35th Street was on the third floor, WFB’s floor. Hers was to his left, Frances Bronson’s to his right. They were the two wings that kept him flying through the controversysphere. When the baroque fanfare from the Second Brandenburg cut out and Bill proceeded to introduce his Firing Line guest, the life story, the telling quote, the bright detail had come from Dorothy. She worked equally well with John O’Sullivan, losing not a step to his midnight dinners or his insatiable appetite for conferences. Dusty Rhodes, Jack Fowler: She served them all.

It is impossible to think of her failing to assist anyone in need. Her appearance was striking — fair skin, red hair, eyes you would have called demure except for their 22-carat flash. She saw everything, and much of it amused her — she could have written, blindfolded and standing on one leg, the Bill-and-his-world book that Sam Tanenhaus is laboring on — but she worked professionally and charitably.

She succumbed to a two-year battle with cancer, which made a second assault after seeming to relent — a test of anyone’s faith. But her Catholicism was as solid as it was unostentatious. She was cared for by her brother, the Rev. John McCartney, to whom our condolences.

R.I.P., dear colleague, dear friend.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue



Politics & Policy

Obama’s Nemesis

Washington, D.C. — Across the rotunda, Sen. Harry Reid, a 71-year-old Democrat, is grumbling about Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. The previous evening, Cantor, a boyish Virginia Republican, ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Faraway, So Close

Whether or not the late Mexican military ruler Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915) ever actually said, “Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States,” his alleged quip ...
Politics & Policy

Songs and Tanks

Last month, a singer named Ibrahim Kashush was leading crowds in Syria. They were demonstrating against the dictatorship and for democracy and freedom. Kashush entertained, inspired, and delighted them with ...


Politics & Policy


Hazardous to Your Freedom Regarding Daniel Foster’s “Smoke Alarm” (July 18): If the nanny state’s real objective is to scare a significant number of smokers into stopping puffing, let me suggest ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Mr. Strauss-Kahn seems quite well qualified to be prime minister — of Italy.  ‐ Rep. Michele Bachmann and former governor Tim Pawlenty, both Minnesotans, have been trading jabs as they ...
The Long View

TO: Studio Personnel

TO: Studio Personnel FROM: Production RE: Captain America This weekend’s excellent box-office grosses for Captain America have been incredibly gratifying. The movie is performing very well nationally, and we’re on track for another ...

Statism Down Our Throats

People who see everything as a problem to be solved by the application of exquisitely calibrated governmental force remind you of the maxim: When all you have is a hammer, ...
Politics & Policy


  ON A THEME OF D’ALIBRAY Such a fine day rides on the soft air, Laura, please pay heed to the new season, That laughs at the clear sky and sings of love: Spring is ...
Happy Warrior

How Weird How Soon?

From London’s Daily Mail: “Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.”     You don’t say. Now why would they do that? Don’t worry, it’s all perfectly legit, ...

Most Popular


First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More

Joe Biden Doesn’t Know How Guns Work

Joe Biden can best capitalize on the rioting following the death of George Floyd in the same way he can best capitalize on anything in 2020: by keeping quiet and out of sight. Unfortunately for Biden, he does occasionally show up and say things. And then this happens: He suggests that police should be trained ... Read More

Joe Biden Doesn’t Know How Guns Work

Joe Biden can best capitalize on the rioting following the death of George Floyd in the same way he can best capitalize on anything in 2020: by keeping quiet and out of sight. Unfortunately for Biden, he does occasionally show up and say things. And then this happens: He suggests that police should be trained ... Read More