‐ Lindsey Graham has proven he’s willing to do just about anything to stop serving in the Senate alongside Ted Cruz.
‐ Could Paul Ryan emerge from the Republican convention with the presidential nomination? He has said that he is not interested, and that the nominee should be someone who ran the whole race. These comments are being taken to amount to less than a definitive no. We have been behind Ryan his entire career. But with the caveat that it has been a wild year in politics, a surprise Ryan nomination looks very unlikely. This scenario assumes, plausibly, that no candidate starts the convention with a majority of delegates. If Trump has a plurality, the delegates will have good reasons to withhold the nomination anyway: He is unfit for office, and there is strong evidence that he would lose badly and pull down other Republican candidates with him. But there will be another candidate with a lot of delegates and to whom neither objection applies. In an open convention, the delegates should pick an honorable, capable conservative who has — as Ryan said — campaigned for the job. That’s Ted Cruz.
‐ Donald Trump used to describe himself as “very pro-choice.” Running as a pro-lifer is not coming naturally to him. He told one interviewer that women who seek an abortion when it is illegal should be punished — contrary to what the vast majority of pro-lifers want, and to the pre–Roe v. Wade American practice. His campaign then backtracked for him. He told another interviewer that the abortion laws should be left unchanged. A spokesman said that he had meant that they would be unchanged until he became president. Pro-lifers have rightly accepted converts to the cause as their allies, but those converts have had to demonstrate that they have given that cause at least five minutes of thought. That Trump has no interest in doing any such thing is a clear message that comes through all his muddle.
‐ Trump’s version of The Federalist: 2016 now includes a drive-by hit on Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife. It began with an ad by an anti-Trump PAC on the eve of the Utah caucuses, showing a racy shot of Melania Trump from her modeling days, labeled “Your Next First Lady.” This was gutter snark. How did our would-be first gentleman respond? By tweeting, “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” Trump added a retweet from one of his followers, which paired an unflattering snap of Mrs. Cruz with a glamour shot of Mrs. Trump over the line “The images are worth a thousand words.” Ted Cruz denied any connection with the anti-Trump PAC and its handiwork — believably so, since to have colluded with it would be a federal offense. Donald Trump has no need for surrogates to do his dirty work for him, since he revels in doing it himself. Feminists dementedly applied the word “pig” to an entire sex, and yet there are pigs among men. Donald Trump has made the race his sty.
‐ Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with simple battery against former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. To anyone with even one operational eyeball, Fields’s claim — that Lewandowski yanked her by the arm when she tried to ask Trump a question as he headed for the exit after a March 8 press conference — was never much in dispute. Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who was standing beside Fields at the time of the alleged incident, corroborated her story; she tweeted pictures of the bruises on her arm; there was audio; there was video; and the Jupiter, Fla., police department released security-camera footage that clearly shows Lewandowski grabbing Fields. Over the next 24 hours, Trump accused Fields of changing her story, mused that she had grabbed him, insinuated that Fields’s boyfriend was responsible for her bruises, and suggested that perhaps Fields’s pen was “a little bomb” and that Lewandowski had been protecting him from a perceived threat. The lengths to which some people will go to avoid saying “Sorry.”
‐ Trump won Louisiana by four points but is likely to walk away from the state with ten fewer delegates than Ted Cruz and no Louisiana supporters on three key convention committees. So he took to Twitter to call the result “unfair” and warn: “Lawsuit coming.” The explanation, predictably, is not nefarious. Marco Rubio’s five delegates, now that their candidate has suspended his campaign, are likely to support Cruz, as are Louisiana’s five unbound delegates. And the committee delegates were not chosen at a “secret meeting,” as Trump adviser Barry Bennett alleged on MSNBC, but at the state’s March 12 convention — in a meeting that Trump’s two Louisiana co-chairmen attended. Apparently, the legendary dealmaker doesn’t read the fine print.
‐ Asked the top three functions of the federal government on a CNN broadcast, Trump volunteered security, health care, and education. He also suggested “housing, providing great neighborhoods.” After Anderson Cooper reminded him that he has said that he wants states to handle education, Trump agreed. He attempted to smooth over the apparent contradiction by saying that “we have to have education within the country.” The federal government, he added, should “lead” health care “but it should be privately done.” Every day, the man is making traditional politicians look better.
‐ It looks like Bernie Sanders will fight to the last collegian. An early-spring sweep of Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Wisconsin gave his supporters a thrill of victory. An only-on-the-left dispute with Hillary Clinton about taking money from the fossil-fuel industry left her distinctly crabby, scolding a Greenpeace activist who was questioning her about it (though she managed not to grab her by the arm). Sanders girds for a showdown in New York, where even Bill de Blasio has lined up with Clinton, but where radicals of all stripes proliferate — just ask Bernie, he grew up there. Sanders has money from the contributions of adoring fans; as a socialist who has merely caucused with Democrats over a 25-year congressional career, he has no institutional commitment to party peace or unity. He can be a left-wing Ron Paul — old, principled, crazy — and he has every incentive to run the game out to the bitter end.
‐ “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights” under current law, said Hillary Clinton. That legal regime is consistent, she added, with doing “everything we possibly can, in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy.” And she said that she favors the right to abortion that “we’ve had enshrined under our Constitution.” She muffed the description of the Court’s jurisprudence, which no longer has anything to do with trimesters, but otherwise her language was extremely accurate. We’ve had abortion enshrined — we didn’t do it ourselves, as a people, through a constitutional amendment. Current law does not recognize rights for “unborn persons” or “children,” which is what they are. We’ll help mothers who want to make sure their children are healthy. And she’ll help those who want to make sure their children are dead.
‐ Hillary Clinton has gotten a good deal of political mileage out of her observation that the nation’s top 25 hedge-fund managers earn more money than all of the kindergarten teachers combined. Estimates vary on whether that is in fact true, but it probably isn’t far from true, as Mrs. Clinton’s son-in-law, a hedge-fund manager, could attest. The top 25 hedgies took in $11.6 billion in 2014, down substantially from $21.2 billion in 2013. (It is the nature of such enterprises that compensation varies greatly from year to year; these are not salaried workers.) Hedge-fund managers make a tremendous lot of money, and kindergarten teachers make less. What the one has to do with the other is known only to the goblins in Mrs. Clinton’s head: We have it on good authority that Floyd Mayweather and Cristiano Ronaldo make a good deal more in professional sports than they would waiting tables at Denny’s, and Mrs. Clinton, who in the political off-season earns $8,000 a minute flattering the gentlemen at Goldman Sachs, hath not a lean and hungry look. It may be that hedge-fund executives are overpaid; if so, that is a problem for their clients and the compensation committees of their firms. There is a fairly compelling argument that many public-school teachers are overpaid, too, which is a problem for taxpayers. One of these considerations is a proper political question, and one of them is not.
‐ Despite what was said to be an intense, months-long, continent-wide manhunt, Salah Abdeslam, suspected of coordinating November’s jihadist attacks in Paris, was captured only a few paces from his home in Molenbeek, a Muslim neighborhood in Brussels. Four days later, members of the same cell bombed the airport and a major train station in Brussels, killing 32 and wounding over 300. While President Obama was in the aftermath doing “the wave” with a Communist dictator at a baseball game in Cuba, GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz stressed the need to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” He was duly accused of “Islamophobia.” But he was clearly calling for increased surveillance of communities known to harbor sympathy for radical Islam. He thus reaffirmed the intelligence-based counterterrorism approach employed by American law enforcement after the 9/11 attacks. That strategy recognized that in a number of Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and community centers are hubs of radical activity, including recruitment, fundraising, and paramilitary training. It is not a perfect strategy, but it beats pretending not to know what we know.
‐ The FBI sought Apple’s assistance in cracking the iPhone of one of the dead San Bernardino terrorists, and the tech giant refused on spurious privacy grounds (dead terrorists don’t have privacy rights, and unlocking this one phone wouldn’t have endangered the security of all others). Now the FBI has, with the help of an unnamed third party, found a way into the phone anyway, and Apple is demanding the bureau disclose how it managed it. We don’t know if they use the word “chutzpah” much out in Cupertino, but the government shouldn’t be obliged to help Apple figure out how to foil its next terrorist investigation.
‐ Georgia governor Nathan Deal (R.) knuckled under to pressure from socially liberal businessmen and vetoed a bill that would have prevented churches from being forced to rent their facilities for purposes to which they object — read: same-sex weddings — and provided some protection for religious institutions, nonprofits, and businesses whose executives find their consciences in conflict with demands being made of them. The Georgia legislature passed the bill in response to a specific set of problems, as liberal activists around the country identify nonconformist bakers, wedding planners, and flower arrangers, targeting them for prosecution under civil-rights laws when they decline to participate in the celebration of same-sex unions. Based on the religious-liberty debate so far, finding a gay-friendly wedding planner is considerably easier than finding a Republican governor with backbone.
‐ In March, America’s public-sector unions were greatly relieved after the Supreme Court deadlocked 4–4 on the question of whether mandatory “agency fees” were constitutional. Until Antonin Scalia’s death in February, it had been broadly assumed that the challengers in the case would prevail. But it was not to be. Without a ninth vote to break the tie, the justices were unable to render a clear verdict, and, in the absence of such, the lower court’s ruling was affirmed. The teachers who brought the case had argued that, by forcing them to subsidize an organization that negotiated on their behalf, the dozens of state governments that mandate the paying of dues were undermining their First Amendment rights to free speech and free association. Hitherto, the Court had rejected this line of reasoning and drawn a distinction between explicitly ideological or political activities and the “collective bargaining” in which unions engage. The plaintiffs argued that this distinction was false: Because all negotiations with the state have political ramifications, they contended, debates over pensions, pay, and benefits are inherently ideological. At oral arguments, five of the justices seemed inclined to agree with this line of reasoning, including Justice Scalia. Events, dear boy, events.
Liberal Media Love Trump
One oft-repeated explanation of Trump’s ascendancy is that left-leaning media outlets have given a disproportionate amount of attention to Trump rather than to the other GOP primary candidates and that this coverage has in turn helped him at the polls.
There are many possible reasons some media outlets have given more coverage to Trump than to his rivals. They might have perceived Trump as more newsworthy, for instance, or thought that covering him more would boost their ratings. Another explanation, however, is that left-leaning outlets disproportionately covered Trump because he embodies what my AEI colleague Marc Thiessen terms the “liberal caricature of conservatism.”
Looking for insight into this question, my colleagues and I gathered data on mentions of presidential candidates by national TV networks. (The data come from the GDELT Project 2016 Campaign Television Tracker, which itself uses the TV News Archive.)
We classified MSNBC and CNN as the “liberal-leaning” national TV networks and Fox News and Fox Business as the “conservative-leaning” ones. We then found out how much of each network’s presidential-candidate coverage went to Trump and, for purposes of comparison, to Clinton. (We included coverage of candidates who had already dropped out.) To calculate the “conservative-leaning” and “liberal-leaning” indices, we averaged each candidate’s fraction of presidential-candidate mentions on Fox, Fox Business, CNN, and MSNBC.
The nearby chart shows the seven-day rolling average of these metrics for Trump and Clinton, as well as the difference between Trump’s seven-day rolling average of liberal-leaning coverage and his seven-day rolling average of conservative-leaning coverage (his “liberal spread”), which is represented by the shaded area near the bottom.
At least two conclusions emerge.
First, liberal-leaning outlets gave Trump disproportionately heavy coverage at the beginning of the election cycle, the period spanning approximately July and August of last year. On an average day in July and August, Trump had 11.5 points more coverage by liberal than by conservative outlets. From then through March 19 (when our data end), he averaged only one point more coverage by liberal-leaning outlets. Outside this “launch” period for Trump, his coverage by liberal- and conservative-leaning outlets appears to have been highly correlated, suggesting that it reflected genuine newsworthiness more than partisanship. The coverage appears correlated for Clinton throughout.
In July and August, CNN gave Trump 11 points more coverage than even MSNBC did. Meanwhile, according to data from PredictWise, the July and August betting markets on average believed the probability of a Trump victory to be only 7.3 percent, lower than Rubio’s 15.4 percent and Bush’s 40 percent. So if any media outlet “created” Donald Trump, it was CNN. Perhaps Mr. Thiessen is on to something.
Second, the absolute level of Trump’s coverage is significantly higher than that of Clinton’s, and is truly mind-boggling. On average, he not only received more mentions than any of the other candidates — he received about the same number of mentions as all the other candidates combined. Over the sample period, Clinton was the second-most-mentioned candidate. Yet Trump still averaged about three times more mentions than she did.
Though the data are far from conclusive, they suggest that liberal-leaning media outlets played an important early role in launching Trump’s ascent.
‐ The attorneys general in California (Kamala Harris, who is running for the Senate) and New York (Eric Schneiderman) are opening cases against Exxon for holding and furthering the wrong views on global warming. Two things are at work here. The first is ordinary political persecution: Oil companies do not usually toe the Democrats’ line on global-warming policy, and progressive activists from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Elizabeth Warren have spent years working on ways to criminalize political dissent. The second factor is payday-hunting. The executives of Exxon, both in their public statements and in their communication with shareholders, have expressed more or less conventional views on whether global warming is happening and why, though they disagree with many of the popular policy prescriptions. Academics and nonprofit groups have been more critical of the science. But Exxon is one of the world’s largest companies, and seven of the world’s ten biggest corporations are energy concerns: Sure, you could sue the pants off of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but Exxon has much nicer pants.
‐ In April, Mississippi’s state house passed a bill permitting the execution of death-row inmates by firing squad in cases in which lethal injections are not available. If the measure becomes law, Mississippi will follow Utah and Oklahoma in establishing such a backup. Predictably, the move was met with cries of horror from anti-death-penalty activists. But, in truth, it was as much a product of their machinations as of anything else. Frustrated by their inability to abolish capital punishment democratically, foes of the practice have spent years trying to limit the supply of lethal-injection drugs, and thereby to prevent executions in spite of the existing law. By establishing a fallback, Mississippi is merely restoring control over the process. The people of Mississippi are within their rights to impose the death penalty, and within their rights to impose it in a way that will work.
‐ The Immigration and Nationality Act allows deportation of an alien who is “not of good moral character,” specifically including someone who is “a habitual drunkard.” Using this clause, the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered the deportation of Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, who drank a quart of tequila a day and had been arrested for drunk driving. A clear-cut case of Adios, borracho? Not to the wayward Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and its reliably mistaken Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who ruled that because alcoholism is a disease, it cannot be considered a part of one’s character, and therefore the provision in question violates the Equal Protection Clause. (No, we don’t get it either.) Never mind that many alcoholics have quit drinking through an act of will, and never mind that similar reasoning could confer immunity on just about any misconduct (e.g. chronic gambling, which is mentioned in the same subsection of the act); the law’s wording makes clear that its intent is to allow deportation of drunkards, not to craft a philosophical definition of the term “character.” We would suggest that Reinhardt stop basing decisions on his personal policy preferences, but that’s one illness that really does seem incurable.
‐ Schools will be fined for “egregious or persistent disregard” of this or that provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a.k.a. Michelle Obama’s Bland, Stingy Cafeteria-Food Edict. That’s according to a new regulation issued by the Department of Agriculture. The rule is bad news for schools: The exacting dietary rules of the HHFK turn out to be costly, making it harder for schools to balance their books. Participation in the National School Lunch Program has declined by 1.4 million students, or 4.5 percent, since the new rules went into effect. Revenues have declined accordingly. Many school districts have laid off food-service employees or cut their hours. Food-service directors talk of impending bankruptcy. One tells the Washington Free Beacon that “teachers are throwing more pizza parties to make sure kids have enough to eat.” You can lead a child to broccoli, but you can’t make him eat.
‐ California governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for 2016–17 allots $2.3 million for Medicaid to provide lethal drugs for assisted suicide. That comes to an estimated $5,400 per patient. Last fall, Brown signed the End of Life Act, which makes it legal for doctors to prescribe deadly doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who request them. Note that the state’s Medicaid program gives patients no access to palliative care, the obvious antidote to suicidal longing in people who suffer excruciating pain. Cancer treatment and second opinions are also stinted under that program, which runs a deficit. The government of California appears more eager to aid its citizens in dying than in living.
‐ Six-year-old Lexi Page has lived most of her life with a foster family in California, who gave her a loving and stable home and wished to adopt her. An ideal outcome, one would think, for a child whose first two years were marred by abuse and abandonment. But Lexi is not merely a child; she is an “Indian child” under the law. That is, she is one-64th Choctaw through her biological father, enough to make her subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act. So the California courts determined that she must be sent to live with distant relatives of her biological father in Utah, because this was the preference of the Choctaw tribe, which views Lexi as a potential member. In March, Los Angeles County social workers came to take her away. She clung tearfully to her foster father, who has vowed to continue appealing the decision in the courts. The Choctaw Nation issued a defensive statement saying that it “desires the best for this Choctaw child.” Better that it, and the law, should look to secure the welfare of children irrespective of race.
‐ In March, Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old undergraduate at the University of Virginia, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for stealing a political poster from the wall of his hotel room during a visit to the country late last year. The conviction occasioned one of the most scurrilous op-eds we can remember. At the Huffington Post, blogger La Sha openly rejoiced in Warmbier’s sentence, suggesting that he had “learned that the shield his cis white male identity provides here in America is not teflon abroad” and contending that his “reckless gall is an unfortunate side effect of being socialized first as a white boy, and then as a white man in this country.” She likened Warmbier’s plight to the situation of black women in the U.S.: “The hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering even as they are complicit in maintaining the power structures which ensure their supremacy at my expense.” Deplorable, from beginning to end — and a reminder that you don’t have to operate a gulag to be wicked.
‐ Fifty-five presidents and prime ministers met at a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. The United States has signed an ambiguous deal with nuclear-aspiring Iran. North Korea, with its own little chest of nuclear weapons, is working on a new ICBM. Britain’s David Cameron warned that ISIS is hoping to launch “dirty” nuclear materials over Western cities with drones. Yet the big news from the conclave was that Barack Obama flashed a peace sign during the summit’s group portrait. Alfred E. Neuman, clean out your desk: We have a replacement.
‐ The United Nations has a Commission on the Status of Women, which issued a report — which criticized one nation, only. Iran? Saudi Arabia? Sudan? Oh, come on. It’s a little sliver of a nation on the Mediterranean below Lebanon. Lots of Jews live there. Along with a million and a half Arabs. Additional Arabs flee there, when facing persecution by the likes of Hamas. Say what you will about the U.N., about some things it is certainly consistent.
‐ A very familiar part of the British urban scene is the corner store, more often than not run by Pakistanis. One among these shopkeepers was Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim — that is to say, a member of a minority sect widely regarded by other Muslims as heretical. Immigrants in the 1990s, he and his family had settled in Glasgow, where the Ahmadis number about 500 and have a mosque of their own. Neighbors and customers speak of him as humble and friendly. Last Christmas, Asad Shah used Facebook to send love to “my beloved Christian nation.” A subsequent posting ran, “Good Friday and very happy Easter especially to my beloved Christian nation X!” — presumably Scotland. That night, he was found in a pool of blood near his store. A witness said that a bearded Muslim man wearing a long religious garment had spoken angrily to Asad Shah in his native language before stabbing him up to 30 times. The police have traced that a cab abandoned nearby came from Bradford, 200 miles away and a stronghold of Muslim-majority Sunnis. According to the police, this is a “religiously prejudiced death,” which is their way of saying that Muslim sectarian violence has now spread to Britain.
‐ Glasgow is famous for its rough-and-tumble culture and its high levels of violent crime. But one wouldn’t know that by listening to the local police. In March, the social-media department of the Greater Glasgow division expressed its determination to crack down on the real villains in their society: people who are rude online. “Think before you post,” one tweet warned, “or you may receive a visit from us this weekend.” To clarify, the missive proposed that Scots should decline to write anything on the Web before they had determined whether it was “true, hurtful, illegal, necessary or kind.” Refraining from doing things that are unnecessary is a good rule, for governments especially.
‐ A low-budget independent movie called “Ten Years” has won the top prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards. The movie depicts Hong Kong in 2025 as a dystopian place where child guards boss their elders around (as in the Cultural Revolution). One of the movie’s directors said, “‘Ten Years’ exposed the fear of Hong Kong people.” The movie is banned on the mainland. An organ of the Chinese Communist Party labeled the movie a “thought virus.” May the virus spread.
‐ For decades, New Zealanders have been debating proposals to change the nation’s flag, chiefly on the grounds that (a) its Union Jack/Southern Cross design is too similar to that of Australia’s flag and (b) the Anglophilic iconography does not fit an increasingly multicultural New Zealand. Finally a referendum was called, and as a first step, some 10,000-plus suggested replacement designs were winnowed down to 40, most of them juxtapositions of the Southern Cross, the koru (a Maori spiral design), and/or the silver-fern leaf (a common Kiwi symbol). The final choice for the challenger, a lackluster fern/Cross combo, was announced last year, and now it has been soundly rejected in favor of retaining the incumbent flag. We applaud our antipodean brethren for their wise choice. Happy indeed is the country whose greatest dispute concerns graphic design.
‐ Deep in the archives of Zurich’s central library, doctoral student Matthias Wessel unearthed an original German manuscript of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, one of the great novels of anti-Communism, perhaps second only to the works of George Orwell and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Scholars had considered this urtext lost, a literary casualty of the Second World War. Darkness at Noon became famous by way of a 1940 English translation, made in haste by Koestler’s lover and a London editor. Even German editions of the novel are based on it, rendering them translations of a translation. A new and more authentic version of an old book now becomes possible. In the April 7 edition of the New York Review of Books, Michael Scammell described its significance: “For readers, it will be like seeing a cleaned oil painting for the first time after the old and discolored varnish has been removed.” It may even offer fresh insights. Koestler wrote Darkness at Noon to unmask the wickedness of the Soviet show trials of the 1930s, when party apparatchiks confessed to crimes against the state and surrendered to execution. Orwell, however, knew that the book’s importance was about not only Stalin’s perfidy but also leftist psychology, as he wrote in a 1941 review: “What was frightening about [the Moscow] trials was not the fact that they happened — for obviously such things are necessary in a totalitarian society — but the eagerness of Western intellectuals to justify them.” The enablers are still with us, making excuses for tyrants everywhere from Havana to Tehran, and Darkness at Noon remains pertinent, shedding its light on our own time.
‐ Marquette University professor John McAdams wrote a blog post about a violation of academic freedom over in the philosophy department. There a conservative student was invited by his instructor to drop her class after he dissented from her assertion that “there is no need to discuss” same-sex marriage, which “everyone agrees on,” she said. The university suspended McAdams and banned him from campus in December 2014 because his public criticism of the instructor made her “subject to a stream of hate and threatening messages,” as Marquette president Michael Lovell described them in a recent statement explaining his demand for an apology. “I’m not asking for Professor McAdams to be responsible for all the vitriol from the lowest of the Internet” — though if that is not what he is asking, then he is punishing McAdams for embarrassing a colleague. But that colleague deserved to be embarrassed, as Marquette does now.
‐ Social-justice activists at Stanford are “demanding” that the university’s next president be nonwhite and either female or transgender. The Who’s Teaching Us Coalition, hoping to “break both the legacy of white leadership and cisgender male leadership,” is also agitating for ten new ethnic-studies professors, racial quotas in the student body, and mandatory faculty “comprehensive identity and cultural humility training,” among other demands. The editors of National Review have no wish to see discord afflict the good people of Palo Alto, so we offer a suggestion in good faith that should placate all involved: Condoleezza Rice, currently a professor in the Graduate School of Business.
‐ “All lives matter,” read a handwritten flier left anonymously on the door of a faculty member of the American University law school. Word spread. Other faculty complained, saying that the slogan meant white supremacism. Students organized a forum. The dean sent a message to faculty and students, decrying the horror of it all. Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent him a letter. “What is wrong with your faculty and staff members?” they asked. “That the lives of all members of the human species are valuable” is “an obviously true statement,” they noted, adding that they are not aware “of any cases in which white supremacists” have used the slogan. The stakes of campus politics are famously low. And sometimes they are just made up.
‐ In recent weeks, supporters of Donald Trump have been writing his name with chalk on walls and sidewalks on college campuses. This is perhaps the least offensive thing one can imagine Trumpkins doing, and if any response is needed, the most effective one would be to add an editorial comment. Instead, students from Emory to Michigan to UC Santa Barbara have responded with protests, marches, demands for action, and chants of “We are in pain!” Emory’s president, James W. Wagner, did his best to soothe the hyperventilating students who “voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation,” saying he “heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.” After all, what’s the point of going to an expensive private college if you can’t keep out the riff-raff? In the end, though, Wagner showed his students the right way to react, by kneeling down with a piece of chalk and writing Emory stands for free expression! next to the pro-Trump slogans. Chalk one up for supporters of open debate.
‐ Microsoft developed an artificial-intelligence “chatbot” named Tay and programmed it to build up its verbal skills by trading remarks with users of Twitter. This is like teaching your child to talk by taking him to the cheap seats at a Rangers hockey game. As soon as the bot made its debut, white nationalists, Gamergaters, conspiracy cranks, and other assorted cybergrouches began peppering it with tweets. Tay imitated their speech patterns, and pretty soon the chatbot’s Twitter feed was indistinguishable from the Breitbart.com comments section. Alan Turing would surely have been impressed, but Microsoft pulled the plug on Tay and apologized, while noting defensively that “in China, our XiaoIce chatbot is being used by some 40 million people, delighting with its stories and conversations.” It doesn’t take much to be the most interesting thing on the Internet in China. The company says it is revising Tay’s programming to make its patter less inflammatory, and that’s certainly a good thing: Artificial unintelligence is the last thing the Internet needs when the real thing is already so abundant there.
‐ Chief executive and then chairman of Intel Corporation, Andrew Grove was one of the select few who have shaped today’s high-tech world. Choosing him as its man of the year in 1997, Time described Grove as “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips.” Born András Gróf in Budapest, he survived the Holocaust, escaped from Communist Hungary in the 1956 revolution, and began as a refugee in New York by learning English. His autobiography could well have been retitled “The American Dream Come True.” Dead at 79. R.I.P.
‐ Tibor R. Machan was not the founder of Reason, but he was its first house intellectual and an indispensable part of the team that launched the flagship publication of libertarianism. Born in Hungary, he fled Communism as a teenager. In the United States, he devoted his life to advancing freedom. In 1970, while a graduate student in philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he joined Manny Klausner and Robert W. Poole in buying Reason from Lanny Friedlander, when it was little more than a photocopied newsletter. Soon it became an actual magazine with a regular production schedule and a national influence. The three men went on to establish the Reason Foundation, though Machan left its board as the think tank began to favor public policy over academic interests. On Firing Line in 1982, William F. Buckley Jr. asked Machan to describe the components of the libertarian movement. “People can be utilitarians, they can be Christians, they can be Randian objectivists, and so on,” said Machan. “Liberty is indeed the prime social or political value, not necessarily the prime human value.” Dead at 77. R.I.P.
‐ Hans-Dietrich Genscher was Germany’s foreign minister for 18 years. Whether he had principles as well as the requisite deviousness to stay in office for so long was never clear. He and his party were in coalitions sometimes with the Right, sometimes with the Left. Expediency was his strongest suit. Throughout the Cold War he valued détente above confrontation. A sentimental attachment to Halle, his birthplace in East Germany, seems to have prompted him to flatter its Communist regime and to hobnob with Soviet leaders far beyond the call of duty. In the run-up to reunification, he took every opportunity to say that Germany’s future had to be in the European Union — though whether this was to be for the benefit of Germany or of Europe is also unclear. He haunted the corridors of power until his death at the age of 89. R.I.P.
‐ Rita Rizzo, a poor girl, sickly but feisty, left home in Canton, Ohio, at age 21 to join a contemplative order of nuns in Cleveland. She led a nun’s life, full of grace — and empty of obvious drama until, at the tender age of 58, she added to her list of job titles “media mogul” and “TV star.” In a monastery garage on the Feast of the Assumption, 1981, Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation gave birth to EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), which has grown to become the largest religious media network in the world. She hosted a show and set the tone for the whole operation. It was spiritual but spirited. On air, she tore into Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles for trying to neuter Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. Her tirades against liturgical abuse were passionate and unscripted. Her health failing, she largely retired from the airwaves in 2001. EWTN carried on. At last count, it was reaching 250 million homes in more than a hundred countries. Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday, at 92. Requiescat in pace.
Wisconsin: The Rallying around Cruz Begins
Throughout his presidential campaign, Ted Cruz has argued that conservatives should and would unite behind him. It finally happened in Wisconsin. Conservatives backed him over Donald Trump by 54 to 33 percent. Since they made up three-quarters of primary voters, that margin more than overcame Trump’s smaller advantage among moderate voters.
This wasn’t foreordained. Trump was leading Marquette’s respected state poll in February. And Cruz has typically done well among voters who are Evangelical Christian conservatives or who consider themselves “very conservative.” His strongest states were originally thought to be southern and have actually been western. As the anti-Trump and broadly conservative votes have consolidated behind him, though, he has broken free from those boxes.
Or at least he has done so in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker and other Wisconsin Republicans — including its intelligent, principled radio hosts — deserve considerable credit for rallying behind Cruz instead of sitting on their hands, as too many Republicans elsewhere have done. They saw where the conservative interest lay and they forthrightly advocated for it. Conservatives elsewhere should follow their lead rather than rationalizing inaction.
That applies, especially, to Republican officeholders. Some of them dislike Cruz personally. With all due respect, they should get over it. Some of them fear that he would lose a general election. All the evidence we have, though, suggests that he would be much more competitive than Trump — who, again based on that evidence, would cost Republicans the Senate and maybe even the House.
More important, the operating principle of Trump’s campaign appears to be to spend every day proving that he is unqualified, for reasons of character, temperament, and knowledge, to be president. In Ted Cruz, Republicans still have a chance to put forward a presidential candidate who is honorable, informed, and conservative. They should take it.