Magazine | August 24, 2015, Issue

The Week

(Roman Genn)

‐ Planned Parenthood is clearly worried that this story has legs ($22/lb.).

‐ Telling a pollster you support Donald Trump, for some large percentage of those who do, is a way of telling all the forces of respectability to go to hell. A lot of Republicans think elected officials should be told more often that they are “morons,” and that our leaders should evidence some righteous anger about illegal immigration. Trump obliges on both counts, and it has won him the temporary support of a fifth of Republican voters. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the party will in the end choose a man who has never been elected to anything, has gone bankrupt multiple times, and does not appear to have believed anything Republicans believe until just yesterday. The other candidates should not panic, mock his supporters, or descend to his frequently boorish level. Some Republicans are worried that Donald Trump will go third party and hand the election to Hillary Clinton. But they can reduce that risk. Trump boasts over and over about what a winner he is. If someone else wins the Republican primaries fair and square, his support will dwindle — and he will look like a sore loser if he tries to run anyway. If Republicans give him a good case that they are treating him unfairly, he will have an easy excuse for skipping the primaries and going straight to the general election. That’s a good reason to treat him fairly: Let him make his case, and trust the voters.

‐ Joe Biden first ran, unsuccessfully, for president in 1988. Feeling his oats, he tried and lost again 20 years later. The fact that he is being seriously discussed now, seven more years later, is less a reflection of his merits than of doubts about front-runner Hillary Clinton. The aircraft-carrier tonnage of the Clinton machine, and the Democrats’ desire for a historic repeat (First Black handing the baton to First Woman), made her seem inevitable — until suddenly she seems maybe not. She has many of the vices of her mate — secretiveness, corner-cutting — and few of the skills: She is charmless, humorless, rigid. The e-mail scandal eats away at her campaign like carpenter ants in floorboards. (The latest: The inspector general for the intelligence community, reviewing 40 of 30,000 e-mails on her private server, found four — 10 percent — that contained classified information, i.e., “should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”) If not Hillary, then Sanders? Hence the Biden boomlet.

‐ The Iran deal does not poll well. Quinnipiac found 57 percent anti, with only 28 percent pro (similar numbers — 58–30 — said the deal would make the world less safe). Other polls have found softer opposition, but they too showed low support. Why aren’t Americans sold? Could they be absorbing the fact that inspections will not be “anytime, anywhere,” as the Obama administration once promised? Or was it the news that the details of inspections would be worked out by the IAEA and Iran, without American input? Was it General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that “ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the nuclear agreement is effective and sustainable”? (In other words, cross your fingers.) Or was it word of Ayatollah Khamenei’s latest book, Palestine — his game plan for the “annihilation” and “effacement” of Israel? (Not by nukes, directly: They will protect Iran as it foments long-term low-grade warfare.) The U.N. and the Democratic party have already bought it, but most Americans know a bad deal when they see one.

‐ Just when you think that the Obama administration’s policy in Syria could not get more ineffectual, it does. The Pentagon recently launched its first air strikes in support of U.S.-backed rebels in Syria. But it will offer such help only in battles against the local al-Qaeda affiliate and the Islamic State, not against the Assad regime. The rationale for this limit is that President Obama is focused on the fight against al-Qaeda and ISIS, not on overthrowing Assad. But the U.S.-backed groups themselves are focused on overthrowing the Assad regime, not defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS. In fact, nearly every rebel group has been friendly with Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, which grew strong on support from the Gulf states while moderate rebels went unaided. Not surprisingly, then, we have found only about a company’s worth of Syrians to back. This strategy is nonsense; the investment President Obama has made in it would be meaningless if it were not also embarrassing.

‐ Back when he was a candidate for president, Barack Obama declared accurately that the Ex-Im Bank was “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” As president he decided he was fine with that. So, alas, is a large majority of the Senate, which recently voted, 64–29, to attach a reauthorization of the Bank, whose charter had expired, to a highway bill. Emotions ran high during the vote, with Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) accusing Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) of first making a deal to allow it in return for passage of the Trade Promotion Authority bill and then lying about it. McConnell indignantly denied the charge, and in the normal course of things no special deal would be required to hold a vote on legislation with such strong support. To the rescue came House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who opposes the bank and said he will not take up the bill. This issue has taken on an importance beyond itself, as a symbol of Republican intentions about crony capitalism. Having taken this stand, McCarthy cannot now fold without damaging both himself and his party.

‐ Just as Jon Stewart surrendered his Daily Show chair came word that he had had two unannounced White House meetings with President Obama over the years. Darren Samuelsohn of Politico, who broke the story, put it best: “And Obama — from their perspective, they [saw] it as an opportunity to work one of the umps.” Precisely. In an era when Millennials and other low-information voters got their news from TV hosts Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher, a left-of-center president wanted to butter Stewart up. Not hard, since Stewart et al. are also left of center. Oh, they claimed only to be comics, and sometimes they went off the reservation (Maher most conspicuously on Islam and its discontents). But their act was an intra-party nose-rub, minus the truth-in-labeling that MSNBC or, on our side, Rush and Hannity, afford. With Colbert moving to The Late Show, and Stewart moving on to directing, an era that was sometimes lively, but inherently duplicitous, ends.

‐ In order to encourage companies to think for the long run, Hillary Clinton proposed raising capital-gains taxes on short-term investments. Experts left, right, and center have explained why it is unlikely to work. For one thing, as one of them pointed out, “less than half of corporate stock is held by taxable investors.” Pension funds wouldn’t see any change in their incentives, for example, and therefore wouldn’t influence companies to operate with a long-term orientation. Clinton is also overlooking a very serious bias toward the short term that the government itself imposes on the economy. The multiple layers of taxation on capital encourage consumption today overconsumption tomorrow. That’s a problem to which there is a simple solution, but probably not one that interests her.

‐ Bernie Sanders is a protectionist, and admirably carries the logic of his protectionism over to immigration. Even more admirably, he was forthright about it at a recent appearance before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He attacked “open borders,” describing it as a plot of capital against labor. His reasons for opposing large increases in low-skilled immigration are not exactly the same as ours. But in recognizing that the interests of large employers are not the same as the national interest with respect to immigration, the socialist presidential candidate is ahead of nearly all Democrats and quite a few Republicans.

‐ On his MSNBC show, Chris Matthews asked a very good question. He asked it of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who heads the Democratic National Committee. “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? What’s the difference between you and a socialist?” This question was asked in light of Bernie Sanders’s presidential run. The Vermont senator is a self-declared, straightforward socialist. The head of the Democratic National Committee would not answer, or could not answer. She laughed off the question and instead said she wanted to talk about the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. (Her answer: Democrats are good people while Republicans are “extremists.”) Later, on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Wasserman Schultz the same question: “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” Remember that the next time Republicans are criticized for not seeing the difference either.

‐ President Obama was in Kenya, and he gave the government a lecture on gay rights. Fair enough. Protections of homosexuals in Africa are abysmal. But would Obama give the same lecture to the Iranian dictatorship? Or to the rulers of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas? Obama’s stance on gay issues seems to vary as much by location as it does by time.

‐ When protests erupted concerning a Confederate flag flying over a Confederate memorial on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol, our Kevin D. Williamson suggested that the Democrats were going to have to rename their annual fundraising gala: the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. And it comes to pass: The Democrats are now involved in an intramural debate about renaming the dinners held annually to celebrate the party’s supposed founders, slaveholders both. Connecticut, Missouri, and Georgia already have forsworn the Jefferson-Jackson appellation, and the Democratic party in Tennessee — where sits Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage — is considering its options. That’s a tough nut for Tennessee, given the quality of its Democrats: What the hell would you serve at a Gore Day Dinner? We shudder to think. Republicans, rejoicing in their Lincoln Day celebrations, face no such dilemma.

‐ Get the “For Sale” sign out: The federal government may soon be taking over a neighborhood near you. The “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) regulation, published in July by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, requires any local jurisdiction receiving HUD funding to conduct a detailed analysis of its housing occupancy by race, ethnicity, national origin, English proficiency, and class, among other categories; to catalogue “community assets,” such as good schools, parks, and transportation hubs; and then to rectify “disparate” access to those assets via a plan subject to HUD approval — all under the aegis of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. It’s an egregious federal overreach, predicated on the conflation of disparate impact and intentional discrimination — unfortunately, a confusion a liberal majority of the Supreme Court institutionalized in a June decision. It’s also likely to produce a mess à la Westchester County, N.Y., strong-armed by HUD in 2009 into spending $50 million of its own money to build 750 low-income housing units in 31 predominantly white communities, and now in a protracted legal battle with the feds. But, most important, the AFFH rule is destined (indeed, designed) to undercut local self-government, which, Tocqueville reminded us, “constitute[s] the strength of free nations.” But that’s a small price to pay for equal access to the Park-and-Ride.

‐ The Boy Scouts of America has voted to lift its ban on gay scoutmasters, and the social-justice Left is still unhappy. The BSA’s policy change comes with a key (and necessary) caveat: Church-sponsored troops may maintain the old rule. The displeased Human Rights Campaign declared, “Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.” If the BSA wants to remain a viable, meaningful entity, it would be wise to start ignoring LGBT activists. If it capitulates and pushes church-sponsored troops out of scouting, then it will soon find itself shrinking to the point of irrelevance. That is the path of social-conservative organizations that choose political correctness over organizational integrity.

‐ In a long-overdue move, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has directed the military to review its policies and procedures regarding force protection on military bases and at military recruiting centers. Specifically, Carter noted that existing policy allows for enhanced security and then called for military officials to suggest “additional protection measures” that could meet “evolving” threats of homegrown terror. Since 2009, gunmen have killed 34 service members and wounded dozens of others in attacks at Fort Hood, the Washington Navy Yard, and recruiting centers at Little Rock and Chattanooga. With the exception of the attack in Chattanooga, where evidence suggests that a Navy officer and a Marine may have carried and discharged personal firearms, each of the mass shootings has been characterized by agonizing, minutes-long delays in police response, resulting in trained warriors’ having to scramble for their lives or launch desperate, suicidal charges against heavily armed gunmen. Under current policies, a soldier with a concealed-carry permit is better protected while eating at a civilian restaurant than he is at his military workplace, where he’s absolutely prohibited from carrying his personal weapon or a military sidearm. There is no good reason that those Americans who are the best trained and most disciplined in the use of firearms should be denied the right of effective self-defense.

‐ The stuff that comes out of your nose when you exhale is carbon dioxide, which has been ridiculously classified as a “pollutant,” like carbon monoxide (the stuff that comes out of your car’s tailpipe) and ozone. The Supreme Court put its stamp of approval on that nonsense, and this has empowered President Obama to unilaterally declare that U.S. electricity-generating plants shall reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions by one-third by 2030. He’ll be safely retired by the time any of this starts to hurt: States don’t even have to submit their plans for compliance until 2018, and if that hurts President Sanders’s chances in the midterms, so be it. This is being done in the name of reducing global warming, which it won’t do: Reducing American electricity plants’ carbon dioxide emissions to zero will do nothing meaningful to prevent the threat of global warming in a world that has India and China in it, not to mention the very large slice of the developed-world industrial economy that is not composed of U.S. power plants. The hope is that our promised self-denial will impress these countries into following suit; this will happen only if folly proves contagious.

‐ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has devised a second, abbreviated oath of allegiance for incoming citizens whose loyalty to their new country does not extend to support of its military. They can now skip the statements that they will “bear arms” on behalf of United States and that they “will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Services . . . when required by law.” To qualify for the short form of the oath, individuals need not cite religious objections, although they may. They must only show that their opposition to the clauses in question is “deeply held.” The USCIS does not specify that their opposition must be based on a principled rejection of taking up arms in general. It is enough if someone objects to aiding the American side in an armed conflict, even indirectly, in the form of “noncombatant service.” The new oath guideline is too broad. It accommodates not only rigorous pacifists, who are rare, but a potential fifth column. USCIS has made a serious error and should correct it posthaste.

‐ Thanks to President Obama, the Castro dictatorship now has an embassy in Washington. There is little that opponents of the dictatorship can do about it. But Senator Ted Cruz had an idea: rename the street in front of the embassy in honor of Oswaldo Payá, the late Cuban democracy leader. Payá was killed three years ago in one of those car accidents that aren’t really accidents. (Stalin used to arrange these, too.) In New York, then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani succeeded in getting a street corner named for Brothers to the Rescue — the corner on which the Castros’ U.N. office sits. Brothers to the Rescue is the exile group that seeks to aid Cuban refugees at sea. In 1996, four of its pilots were killed by the Cuban air force. We hope that Senator Cruz’s effort to rename that Washington street succeeds. These gestures seem weak, in the face of totalitarian evil, but they are better than nothing.

‐ What happened to Sandra Bland? That question has animated national news coverage and social-media outrage since July 13, when the 28-year-old Illinois native, arrested outside Prairie View, Texas, for failing to signal a lane change, was found dead in her Waller County Jail cell. Local authorities reported that Bland had hanged herself. The official autopsy, which noted that Bland recently had been cutting herself, concluded likewise; Bland also reported to jail officials a recent suicide attempt, following a miscarriage. There is no evidence to suggest that Bland’s death was anything other than a tragic suicide. But Bland’s untimely death, following a year of tense relations between minorities and law enforcement, has prompted conspiracy theories on social media, culminating in the charge that Bland was dead in her mug shot — that is, that Waller County law enforcement murdered her, and conspired to hide it. Sandra Bland’s arrest was unnecessary, and — for violating Texas Department of Public Safety procedures — her arresting officer, Brian Encinia, was rightly placed on administrative leave pending further review. The situation has also brought attention to Waller County Jail’s failure to adhere to the norms of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. But there is no reason to conclude from Officer Encinia’s outrageous conduct during a traffic stop, or from the jail’s incompetence, that he, or local law enforcement, murdered Sandra Bland. Alas, some in the Black Lives Matter movement have become so attached to the narrative of rampant police brutality against black Americans that they cannot accept a tragic death that does not have a uniformed villain. Black lives matter, certainly. So do facts.

‐ On July 19, Raymond Tensing, a white, 25-year-old University of Cincinnati police officer, stopped Samuel DuBose, 43, black, for failing to have a front license plate. Two minutes later, DuBose was dead. Footage from Tensing’s body camera revealed that, contrary to the officer’s claims — that he was being dragged by DuBose’s car and had nearly been crushed — Tensing reached into the vehicle with one hand when DuBose tried to start the engine mid stop, and a moment later fired his weapon with the other, striking DuBose in the head. Tensing has been charged with murder and manslaughter for what the county prosecutor says “is without question a murder.” Perhaps; that will, of course, be up to a jury. At the very least, though, it was an entirely unnecessary death, and a shameful iteration of an all-too-common occurrence: a routine traffic stop escalated by the conduct of a frustrated driver, then turned tragic by a police officer’s failure to keep the situation, and himself, under control.

‐ Uber, the car-hailing service that has been merrily undermining the monopolies and cartels that dominate the U.S. taxi business, has been having a good run of it: Sure, Uber drivers are being beaten in Mexico City and having rocks thrown at them in Paris and Seattle, but the company has just come out on top in its showdown with New York City’s Sandinista mayor, Bill de Blasio, who had threatened to put a cap on the number of new drivers the firm employs. (Because that’s New York’s problem: too many people finding work.) Uber mobilized public opinion, and de Blasio backed down; as a face-saving measure, the firm will cooperate in a congestion study, which is ironic: Uber’s hated “surge pricing” is the private sector’s successful implementation of the “congestion pricing” beloved by urban-policy wonks but rarely put into place. Meanwhile, in Nevada, where industries once dominated by organized criminal syndicates today are dominated by organized legal syndicates, Uber has prevailed over the Las Vegas and Reno business interests that sought to forbid it to operate in the state, with the state legislature going Uber’s way. Like Social Security, New York’s taxi regulations are a product of the 1930s, when politicians dreamed of “scientifically” micromanaging every aspect of economic life. But if you ask a young person to empty his pockets, you won’t see among the digital wares anything made in the 1930s. There’s a lesson in that for the youngsters, and for the conservatives who seek to connect with them.

‐ In April, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit-card-processing company headquartered in Seattle, announced to his staff that he would raise the company’s minimum salary to $70,000. It was his statement against income inequality. Many of his 120 employees were of course thrilled to get a raise. To subsidize his largess, Price slashed his own salary from $1 million to $70,000 and sank most of last year’s profit, $2.2 million, into the now-enlarged payroll. He enjoyed a few weeks of golden publicity. Then he began losing clients who, reasonably, anticipated a fee increase. Two senior employees resigned, objecting that employees who “were the least equipped to do the job” and who “were just clocking in and out” were now being paid the same as high performers. Price’s brother Lucas, who co-founded the company with him in 2004, has filed a lawsuit, accusing him of giving himself a wildly inflated salary before his recent, sudden embrace of relative asceticism; the CEO says he has taken to renting out his house to “make ends meet.” Overcompensated for so many years, he is now overcompensating for his sins and apparently taking Gravity Payments down with him, because he believes in a mistaken idea of equality.

‐ Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Jacob Lew’s Treasury Department, and Thomas Perez’s Labor Department have issued a report bemoaning that occupational licensing has grown out of control, that one in four Americans today needs a license to practice his occupation, that this pernicious regulation is a drag on growth and employment, and that it undercuts economic opportunity. Next they’ll be quoting Milton Friedman — no, goodness gracious, the report cites Friedman in its argument. It characterizes the licensing impulse as a competition-restricting mechanism organized by “concentrated benefits (for the licensed practitioners) and diffuse costs (for consumers and would-be practitioners).” It feels as if the White House is punking us, but conservatives should pounce on this report and get to work reforming occupational-licensing laws in every state, waving the presidential imprimatur in the faces of any holdouts in Sacramento or Albany.

‐ Stanley Nelson’s new PBS documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is one of many recent histories of the Black Panthers. But in reality, it is neither history nor journalism — it is hagiography. As Michael Moynihan pointed out at the Daily Beast, you don’t have to guess that the Panthers were “ideological fanatics”; they will tell you, in their own words. According to the Black Panther newspaper, the organization looked for inspiration to “the revolutionary works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Comrades Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, and other great leaders of the worldwide people’s struggle for liberation.” Panther leaders often explicitly praised and cited Stalin, and were infatuated with North Korea’s attempts to imitate Stalin’s murderous regime. Vanguard of the Revolution mentions little of this, nor does it mention the Panthers’ rampant male chauvinism or their view of abortion as eugenic. Instead, as we so often are today, we are told a fairy-tale history, in which the Panthers (and other left-wing ideologues) are freedom fighters when the facts lend themselves to that treatment, and little more than unruly children when they don’t. Isn’t radical chic getting a little long in the tooth?

‐ Rarely has a book been greeted with more rapturous praise than Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. Coates is so alienated from his country that he viewed the police and firefighters who died on 9/11 as “not human” — feeling this contempt even as he watched the Twin Towers burn and fall. He calls his fellow Americans “majoritarian pigs” who would rather “live white than live free.” He blames white America for the black-on-black violence he experienced during his tough childhood, and he’s still filled with rage against white America for the death of a friend of his from college, who was shot by a black cop from a county with majority-black leadership. Coates is undeniably a powerful and eloquent writer, and anyone who experienced the level of fear he experienced as a child would be shaped by that forever, but his rage seems impervious to the objective facts of America’s changing racial landscape. This nation is hardly perfect, and racism stubbornly lingers, but African Americans live profoundly different lives from those of their ancestors who struggled under slavery and Jim Crow. In other words, the news is not all bad. It is, however, a testament to the current state of our racial discourse that the Left seems to be falling all over Coates, not so much because he is the most reasoned prominent voice, but rather because he is the most radical.

‐ Bill Bennett is fond of referring to the national education bureaucracy as the “blob,” but occasionally it does react to stimuli. When the College Board, which runs the SAT and the Advanced Placement system, released a new version of its AP U.S. History curriculum last year, it was slammed by conservatives (even the Republican National Committee) and many thoughtful scholars of a less political bent, organized by the National Association of Scholars. Broadly, the new guidelines explained most of American history as racial and class conflict, with much more emphasis on American sin than on American idealism; more narrowly, they barely made mention of our founding documents, lionized LBJ, caricatured Reagan, and so on. The new standards are much better — the sometimes anachronistic potshots about race and gender, for instance (Manifest Destiny was “built on a belief in white racial superiority”), are gone. The guidelines are not perfect: They still underplay the liberal philosophical underpinnings of America and lean too heavily on economic determinism. But the revision is a vast improvement.

‐ George Washington University has become the latest institution of higher learning to do away with the SAT. The university says it wants to take a “holistic” approach in admitting students. “Holistic” can be another way of saying, “Keep students of certain races and ethnicities out, while letting students of other races and ethnicities in.” Jewish Americans well knew this approach, and now Asian Americans know it too. Standardized tests are not perfect, and university officials should have wide latitude in running their own institutions. But the abandonment of the SAT is another abandonment of objective standards when those standards lead to disagreeable results.

‐ Boston has decided not to bid to host the Olympics. The Chinese Communist Party is happy to host them — and the International Olympic Committee is happy to oblige. The IOC gave the Summer Games to the CCP for 2008. Now they have given them the Winter Games for 2022. As a rule, the Olympic Games should not be held in police states: not in Nazi Germany, not in Soviet (or present-day) Russia, and not in Communist China. You don’t have to be an idealist about the Olympics to see the perversity of police-state Games.

‐ Left-wing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, to the consternation of his more centrist colleagues, is making a strong bid to lead his party. His success is a reminder of the persistence of the hard Left and the timeless appeal of sticking it to the establishment. How bad is Mr. Corbyn, a politician often praised for being “principled”? Very: His principles blend old-style command-and-control economics with a lifetime of useful idiocy for thugs abroad (and in Northern Ireland, too). Naturally, he wants Britain out of NATO. Some Tories are welcoming the prospect of a Corbyn victory, thinking he will ensure a Conservative victory in 2020. That’s dangerously complacent: Whatever is being said now, Labour would unite behind Corbyn, in which case he could be just one ill-timed recession away from 10 Downing Street.

‐ “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature,” said Laurent Sourisseau, editor of Charlie Hebdo, explaining the French humor magazine’s decision to no longer caricature Mohammed. The magazine’s caricatures, it will be remembered, got eleven staff members murdered in an Islamic terrorist attack on an editorial meeting in January. (Sourisseau, who was wounded in the massacre, survived by playing dead.) Who can blame him? He, and his colleagues, paid at the office. But if all follow suit, then murderous zealots will have won their point. A faith that cannot survive inquiry, criticism, and even mockery is a religion of the cowed and the stupid. A society that subjects itself to those strictures is — cowed.

‐ Kim Jong-un, the North Korean tyrant, has received the Sukarno Prize, given in Bali and named after the late Indonesian dictator. The selection of Kim was announced by Sukarno’s daughter. Previous recipients include Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi — and Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of the North Korean psycho-state. In China, the Party gives a Confucius Peace Prize, whose current laureate is Fidel Castro. Maybe the Sukarno people and the Confucius people should pool their resources?

‐ The Oxford Union is the chamber in which to debate the lost causes for which Oxford University is so famous. The general opinion there is that everything and anything done by our forebears must be bad. The latest debate repeated the familiar old self-reproach, “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.” In favor, Shashi Tharoor, a parliamentarian from Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party, spoke about British governance of India as a purely criminal enterprise of killing and looting. He carefully didn’t mention the introduction of the rule of law, the rescue of the Hindu masses from the tyranny of the Mughal Muslim elite, or the fact that Oxford English (exquisite in his case) unifies the country and brings it into today’s world. A video of his speech has been a hit in India. Narendra Modi, leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata party and currently prime minister, told parliament that Tharoor had effective arguments, “saying the right things at the right place.” It turns out it isn’t money they’re after, but atonement, something the Oxford Union makes sure to keep in stock.

‐ Ninety-five-year-old George Weidenfeld, a publisher with an international reputation and a seat in the British House of Lords, has launched a new venture, the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund. When Weidenfeld was a young and penniless refugee fleeing from Hitler to England, Christians of the Plymouth Brotherhood looked after him and helped the start of his career. Christians at that time, he declares, saved thousands of Jews all over Europe from certain death, and now there are Christians in the Middle East in desperate need of rescue. The Syrian Christians used to number at least a million, but in the civil war two-thirds have fled and the remainder are exposed to daily Islamist brutalities — including murder, sometimes by crucifixion. Jewish institutions and donors are repaying “a debt of gratitude,” in Weidenfeld’s words. The first airlift of 150 Syrian Christians has reached Warsaw, and all are permitted to settle in Poland. Some thousands more will follow. The fact that we can’t help everybody, in another Weidenfeld verdict that goes to the heart of the matter, doesn’t mean we should help nobody.

‐ “No Irish Need Apply”: So, we were told, read help-wanted signs across urban America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, an era of bigotry toward immigrants from the wrong side of the Irish Sea. But the signs were a myth, argued Richard J. Jensen, a retired history professor, in the Journal of Social History in 2002: No one had ever seen one, because “they were extremely rare or nonexistent.” Popular media disseminated Jensen’s conclusion, which soon acquired the halo of received wisdom. Enter Rebecca A. Fried, a 14-year-old who, “just for the fun of it,” she says, began searching an online newspaper database. She found dozens of NINA ads. After more sleuthing, she identified the historian Kerby Miller as a possible ally and contacted him. Skeptical of Jensen’s skepticism, discerning in it a whiff of anti-Catholicism, Miller read Fried’s work and embraced it as the refutation he’d never gotten around to writing himself. He helped her work her findings into a monograph. The journal that published Jensen’s article has now published hers: She has debunked the debunker. Standing athwart historical revisionism, Fried not only made it stop — she turned it back.

‐ Robert Conquest had that priceless combination of intellectual brilliance and moral sense. He had artistry to boot. He was born in England in the middle of World War I, 1917. His father was American, his mother English. He would always hold dual citizenship. He went to Oxford, where he was a member of the Communist party, but an open one, not a secret one — which was typical of him. When World War II came, he served in the Balkans. There, he saw unmistakably what the Communists were. In 1968, he wrote his master work, The Great Terror, which catalogued Stalin’s purges of the 1930s. This book helped put the lie to Communism. In 1986, he published The Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed the Soviets’ terror-famine in Ukraine. In addition to being a historian, Conquest was a poet, of quite serious poetry, and of limericks, too — which were sometimes serious, as well as amusing. Bob and his marvelous Texan wife, Liddie, have been adornments on several NR cruises. In 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. Some 35 years before, he wrote the following about George Orwell in a poem: “Moral and mental glaciers melting slightly / Betray the influence of his warm intent.” The same can be said of Robert Conquest. In 1989, when the Soviet Union was in its final thaw, he visited that country for the first time since his student days. On the street, a man, a poet, came up to him and, without a word, handed him a rose. Bob Conquest was a great writer and a great man. He has died at 98. R.I.P.

‐ Richard Schweiker was a Republican senator from Pennsylvania when Ronald Reagan, in the home stretch of his 1976 contest with Gerald Ford, announced that he would make Schweiker his running mate if he won the nomination. The move was unprecedented, and ideologically arresting, for Schweiker was his own man: pro-gun, pro-life, pro-labor (one of his closest Senate colleagues was Teddy Kennedy). Ford won, then Jimmy Carter, and the moment sank to the footnotes. But Schweiker was more than a roll of the dice. He backed Reagan in the next cycle, and served as his secretary of health and human services. R.I.P.

‐ “I am making a pictorial record of this terrible conflict,” says photographer and freed slave Josiah Culp in The March (2005), E. L. Doctorow’s novel set during the Civil War. Culp could have been speaking for the author. In prose that was all taut lines and bright colors, Doctorow over the span of a dozen novels documented in photorealistic fashion American history as it pulsated in his head. He tended to view its grand sweep through the limited window of his Bronx boyhood during the Great Depression. In Ragtime (1975), his most popular work, Emma Goldman shines, and J. P. Morgan is put in his place. Reviewers called out the book’s heavy-handed political messaging. The Book of Daniel (1971), a sympathetic treatment of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and of the mid-20th-century American Left, was Doctorow’s first critical success. His greatest novel was probably Billy Bathgate (1989), set in the world of organized crime in New York in the 1930s. Also the author of short stories, essays, and a play, Doctorow won most of the big prizes available to American writers. He was an outspoken champion of the First Amendment. Dead at 84. R.I.P.

ABORTION

The Planned Parenthood Atrocities

If the moral and literary senses of the human race have not expired entirely, then the words “less crunchy” will live in infamy. That is how Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood’s medical directors’ council, describes the technique her organization’s abortionists employ when they have a willing buyer for baby organs and are obliged to extract them intact. Gatter had some other choice observations, explaining to the undercover investigator posing as a fetal-organ trader her financial goals: “I want a Lamborghini.”

This scene was one of several gruesome ones included in videos from the Center for Medical Progress, which has conducted an incognito investigation of the industry-leading abortion corporation. But the tragically misnamed Josh Earnest, presidential spokesmouth, has waved all of it away using the language Planned Parenthood prefers for public consumption. Planned Parenthood says the videos are “fraudulent,” and Earnest says they are “fraudulent.” Planned Parenthood protests that they are “heavily edited” and deceptive, and Earnest follows suit. Planned Parenthood complains that it is under attack by “extremists,” and Earnest bemoans the “extremists” who are turning over all those stones. When a reporter from Breitbart suggested that Earnest sounded as if he were simply repeating Planned Parenthood talking points, Earnest explained: “I’m merely repeating what I’ve seen that they’ve said.”

That clears that up.

There is a political question at issue in the matter of Planned Parenthood, and of course the White House and basically every Democrat is going to take Planned Parenthood’s side. So far, Planned Parenthood has prevailed, with a vote in the Senate to strip the abortionists of federal funds failing to meet the 60-vote threshold necessary for its advancement.

Congress should continue the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, and should investigate it. So should the states. And Congress should enact a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. This is a moral necessity, and one that happily entails little political risk: The public is solidly on the right side of late-term abortions and trafficking in the organs of slaughtered children.

Let the Democrats defend themselves here and try to explain that only “extremists” recoil in horror from sales agents haggling over the price of plates of tiny hands and feet and livers and brains. Let them defend “less crunchy.”

But there is a legal question, too: whether Planned Parenthood has violated federal laws related to trafficking in fetal tissue. Even though one of the relevant laws is quite permissive, an impartial and robust legal examination is in order. No sane person believes that a Department of Justice reporting to Barack Obama is going to do its duty in this matter. That is a profoundly sad commentary on the state of our national institutions, but it is nonetheless the case.

There is also a moral question here, the importance of which surpasses the legal and political questions: Planned Parenthood, whether it has violated federal law or not, traffics in human organs for recompense. If its spokesmen are to be taken at their word, it alters medical procedures in order to facilitate these business transactions. It misleads the public about the nature of its activities. It is corrupt in itself and a source of corruption in others, namely Democratic officeholders who are beholden to the butchers’ guild, and who, like Josh Earnest, repeat whatever they have to repeat — including lies — in the service of that bloody cause.

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

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Calculating Cruz

When Donald Trump’s presidential bid started attracting serious attention, it was perhaps unsurprising that Ted Cruz was the only other Republican candidate to offer kind words about his new rival. ...
Politics & Policy

Born in the U.S.A.

One of the most important questions America will face over the coming decades is how to successfully integrate the children of immigrants. As of 2013, there were 17.4 million children ...
Politics & Policy

My Tomboy Heaven

The transgender trend has reached down to children. I wonder what people would have thought of my gender identity as a child. My experience says, yes, gender identity is complicated, ...

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Sanders: Not a Nazi, Just a National Socialist In “Adventures in National Socialism” (July 6), Kevin D. Williamson conflates Senator Bernie Sanders’s “democratic socialism” with National Socialism, the system of Adolf ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Planned Parenthood is clearly worried that this story has legs ($22/lb.). ‐ Telling a pollster you support Donald Trump, for some large percentage of those who do, is a way ...
Athwart

Cecil-Justice Warriors

The Aussie voice on the other end of the phone explained that it was calling from a Melbourne talk-radio station, and could I say a few words about Cecil the ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

VASE OF ROSES The sunrise burned so bright behind and within the mists of daybreak as to overspill a radiance across the long curve of horizon, broken by the dark line of trees above the ...
Happy Warrior

Socialism for Dummies

When I first heard that Debbie Wasserman Schultz couldn’t explain to Chris Matthews the difference between what Democrats believe and what socialists believe, I chalked it up to her incompetence. ...

Most Popular

White House

The Impeachment Clock

Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry is incoherent. Given the impossibility of a senatorial conviction, the only strategy is to taint the president with the brand of impeachment and weaken him in the 2020 election. Yet Schiff seems to have no sense that the worm has already turned. Far from tormenting Trump and ... Read More
Economy & Business

Who Owns FedEx?

You may have seen (or heard on a podcast) that Fred Smith so vehemently objects to the New York Times report contending that FedEx paid nothing in federal taxes that he's challenged New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger to a public debate and pointed out that "the New York Times paid zero federal income tax ... Read More
Immigration

The ‘Welfare Magnet’ for Immigrants

That term refers to a controversial concept -- and a salient one, given the Trump administration's efforts to make it harder for immigrants to use welfare in the U.S. A new study finds that there's something to it: Immigrants were more likely to come to Denmark when they could get more welfare there. From the ... Read More