Magazine | May 9, 2016, Issue

The Week

(Roman Genn)

‐ Is there anything insulting we can say about New York?

‐ The New York Post, for decades a conservative opinion leader with a brash, Gotham accent, endorsed Donald Trump for president. The quick reaction (short enough for the wood) is: Who else? Trump has been a mainstay of the Post, especially its gossip columns. Not to have endorsed him would have been fratricidal. And Trump did indeed sweep the New York primary. The long reaction (suitable for the paper’s often thoughtful commentary) is: What were they thinking? The Post says Trump has “electrified the public.” Just like the third rail. It calls him “a do-er” with a “can-do approach” who “gets things done.” As many bankruptcies and frauds, alas, as buildings. “He’s slammed the system for being rigged” — when the system’s peculiarities (e.g., winner-take-all primaries) have benefited Trump as often as not. Then, as if rethinking its own decision, the Post urges Trump to rethink his positions on trade, border control, and pulling troops out of Japan and South Korea. That’s a big rethink. Well, when the dust settles, we’ll still have the op-ed page, sports, and Page Six.

‐ John Kasich, speaking in Watertown, N.Y., was asked by a female college freshman how he might help her feel “more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape.” Kasich imparted a bit of fatherly advice (Kasich has twin teenage girls): “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.” Whereupon the roof fell in. A DNC flack accused him of “insulting women every day . . . by blaming victims of sexual and domestic violence.” ThinkProgress called it “the latest in [his] long line of tone-deaf comments to and about women.” Angelina Chapin in the Guardian: “the latest in a long tradition of Republican victim-blaming.” Great minds think alike, do they not? Which helps explain the rise of Donald Trump: When the concern swarm descends on him, he gives it all back with a flip of the bird. Crudely? Yes. Inaccurately? Often. But how liberating it feels, if for only a moment, when the drum starts beating, for someone to kick the drumhead in.

‐ Spending one year in a dorm with someone can be trying. But with due respect to the trials of residential-college life, there are genocide survivors less traumatized than Craig Mazin purports to be. In 1988, the former Walt Disney executive, Hollywood screenwriter, and Princeton alumnus was the freshman-year roommate of then-17-year-old Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz — and he has never let the world forget it. Since Cruz’s ascent to the national stage in 2012, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas, Mazin has been waging a Twitter crusade against him. Cruz has “no principles, no moral center, no values,” he tweeted in March. He is “devious, hypocritical, unethical, pointlessly ambitious, valueless.” He’s “creepy, unfunny, mean, boring.” He’s a “jackass,” a “d***head,” and “garbage.” As of this writing, more than 96,000 Twitter users follow Mazin, who has wondered what he ever did to deserve nine months in a dorm with Ted Cruz. We wonder what Ted Cruz ever did to deserve Craig Mazin.

‐ Cruz now stands accused of supporting a ban on sex toys. The charge stems from Cruz’s work as solicitor general of Texas. In 2007, while Cruz did that job, Texas was sued over a 1970s law that prohibited certain “obscene” items from sale. By his own account, Cruz considered the offending statute to be “ridiculous.” Nevertheless, his office was obligated to defend it in court. This he and his team did, drawing on legal precedents that had been established in the 1980s and advancing the wholly defensible argument that there is a difference between good public policy and constitutional public policy. Where the Constitution is silent, Cruz argued, it must not be used to override the popular will. Fealty to the rule of law, though, can’t compete with a cheap shot at the height of the political season.

‐ Hillary Rodham Clinton wants a $15 minimum wage. Or a $12 minimum wage. Possibly a $12.50 minimum wage. Or a minimum wage scheduled to go from $12.50 to $15 subject to review by the great minds who made Albany Albany. It really depends on the venue. Her tormentor in the Democratic presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders (S., Further), is fixed on $15 — he’d take $25, if that were on the table, because that is his model of politics: Take whatever you can now and then get ready to start asking for more. Mrs. Clinton is, in this context, the conservative, though her conservatism is rooted in politics rather than in prudence. Many economists (including many progressives, such as those at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth) worry that a $15 minimum wage will provide a nasty reminder about the interaction of price, supply, and demand, with employers simply eliminating many low-wage jobs rather than paying $31,200 plus benefits a year for them. But the only job that Mrs. Clinton cares about, or ever has cared about, is the one she wants.

‐ President Obama took to Fox News Sunday in April to defend Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state. “Here’s what I know,” Obama told Chris Wallace: Hillary “would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.” Moreover, the president insisted inscrutably, “there’s classified, and then there’s classified. There’s stuff that is really top-secret top secret, and there’s stuff that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state.” Presumably, Clinton was pleased to hear that the White House is backing her in public. But, substantively, Obama’s defenses were irrelevant. Per 18 U.S.C. 1924, if Clinton became “possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States . . . with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location,” she’s guilty of a crime. That Obama does not consider the information she possessed to be “classified classified” is immaterial. Likewise, Obama’s insistence that Clinton “never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy” is legally beside the point. Under 18 U.S.C. 793(f)(1)–(2), it is a felony to transmit information “relating to the national defense” through unapproved channels, and the applicable legal standard is not “knowledge” but “gross negligence.” Not for the first time, the president has a tenuous grasp on the law — and his appropriate role as chief executive.

‐ This time last year, Bill Clinton was largely repudiating the 1994 crime bill that, in the dubious historiography of the Black Lives Matter movement, is responsible for a phenomenon of “mass incarceration.” But when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted Clinton during a campaign speech for his wife in Philadelphia, the former president offered a full-throated defense of the bill, arguing that it helped bring about a “25-year low in crime.” He even accused the protesters of defending “the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children.” Left-wing pundits hammered Clinton, accusing him of “historical amnesia” and “white mansplain[ing].” Both Clinton and his critics exaggerate the effects of the crime bill — crime was already beginning to drop when it passed, and the trend toward greater incarceration had taken hold in the 1980s. But Clinton is right that not all the lives that matter are captured by the Left’s slogans.

‐ The Inner Circle is a journalists’ club in New York. It’s like the Gridiron Club in Washington. Every year, the Inner Circle puts on a comedy show for charity. This year, Hillary Clinton was a special guest. She was onstage with Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, and Leslie Odom Jr., an actor in the Broadway hit Hamilton. In a skit of sorts, Clinton said, “Thanks for the endorsement, Bill. Took you long enough.” De Blasio answered, “Sorry, Hillary. I was running on CP time.” Here, Odom broke in. (The actor is black, and “CPT” has long stood for “colored people’s time.”) He said, “I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.” Hillary set him straight: “Cautious politician time.” The world reacted with its usual excitement and stupidity — this despite the fact that de Blasio is married to a black woman and has half-black children. Message to the world: Lighten up. And, no, that is not a racial remark.

‐ Bernie Sanders held a rally in front of the Brooklyn apartment building where he lived as a boy. The neighborhood (Midwood), once solidly Jewish, is now home to many Russians. An enterprising New York Times reporter interviewed one of them, in the apartment two stories above Sanders’s old one. “I hate him!” said Farida Lazareva, 57. “If you lived under socialists, you’d hate them too. They make everyone poor. . . . If it will be Sanders, we will have the same here. Everybody who comes from a Communist country, Russians, Eastern Europeans, even Latinos from Cuba, feel this way. When you know what will happen, when you see it — you’re Republican.” Immigrants: doing the intellectual work that American socialists won’t do.

‐ In an interview with the New York Daily News, Sanders claimed that in the Gaza war, Israel killed “over ten thousand innocent people” (almost five times what Hamas itself claims). In a Brooklyn debate with Hillary Clinton, Sanders spoke at length about Gaza’s devastated apartment buildings and infrastructure. Sanders’s Palestinian advocacy is doubly unfortunate. Unfortunate on substance: Palestinians lead wretched lives because they are governed by gangsters and terrorists, ever picking fights they intend to lose (because casualties will earn the sympathy of leftists like Sanders). Unfortunate politically: Sanders’s stand allows Hillary Clinton to position herself as a friend of Israel, when she has in fact followed the policies of the Obama administration, her former employers (e.g., Benjamin Netanyahu is “a chickensh**”). Sanders has moved the window of campaign discourse on the sufferings of Palestinians — and let in a cloud of distortions and lies.

‐ Sanders met Pope Francis in person the other day at the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives and Sanders was staying. They might have met earlier in your imagination: If the secular Jewish socialist from New England were a South American Jesuit who spoke rough Italian, he could be mistaken for Papa Bergoglio’s twin brother, gabby and grandfatherly and charming in his dottiness. Sanders was in town to speak at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. With some justification, he thinks that the pope shares his sentiments, those Sixties pipe dreams that he mistakes for ideas on economic policy. Francis makes the parallel error of confusing the Peronism of his youth with Catholic social teaching. Suffer fools gladly, Saint Paul tells us, and so we do. We just try not to vote for them.

‐ Eagle Forum, the conservative organization founded and for many years run by Phyllis Schlafly, is in the midst of a civil war: Schlafly has reportedly asked six members of the board, one of whom is her daughter, to resign; the board has tried to remove the group’s current president. The proximate cause of the turmoil appears to be presidential politics. Schlafly has endorsed Trump, which is in keeping with her longstanding support for protectionism and related causes if not with her longstanding commitment to social conservatism and good character in leaders. The board members prefer the consistent conservatism of Cruz. Eagle Forum has historically combined a lot of useful work with some kookery. (Schlafly has, for example, sounded the alarm against a North American currency, the “amero,” that nobody is seriously proposing.) We hope the group comes through with its best traditions intact.

‐ During Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Anita Hill charged that he had made lewd remarks to her as her boss. HBO is airing a dramatization of the story that takes her side and omits key facts. Journalist Stuart Taylor Jr., writing in the Wall Street Journal, puts them back into the record. Hill had followed the alleged creator of a hostile work environment to a new job, even though she had job security as a federal employee. There was evidence she had friendly relations with him even after she stopped working with him. She changed her testimony. Two FBI agents contradicted her account of a conversation they had had with her. For these reasons and more, most Americans did not believe Hill at the time of the hearings. As the details receded from memory, her account became more widely accepted. HBO is doing its part to keep those details forgotten.

‐ It took a while, but the academy has finally realized that the musical Hamilton praises a Federalist and the creator of the first Bank of the United States. In a New York Times round-up, Annette Gordon-Reed (Harvard) said the show gives a “rosy view of the founding era.” Sean Wilentz (Princeton) noted that Alexander Hamilton was “a man for the 1 percent.” Lyra D. Monteiro (Rutgers) said the Founders “really didn’t want to create the country we actually live in today.” Rosy? The show depicts strenuous debate, up to the dueling ground, about politics and policy. Among the topics debated are whether Hamilton served the elite (the view of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) or the country as a whole (the view of George Washington). While the Founders would no doubt be dismayed by many aspects of modern America, from Obamacare to the Kardashians, that we still have a republic that, in its rush for happiness, took time to interest itself in them and their ideas would move and gratify them.

‐ It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it is right out there in the open: There was a press conference and everything. Democratic attorneys general, frustrated by the Left’s inability to get its way on climate change as a matter of national policy, promised to use their prosecutorial powers “aggressively” and “creatively” — because aggression and creativity are what you want in police agencies — to achieve through civil and criminal prosecution that which they could not achieve through ordinary political channels. Al Gore, green entrepreneur, was on hand when the self-proclaimed “Green 20” announced their plan, and, shortly thereafter, the investigations and subpoenas started: Prosecutors in the U.S. Virgin Islands, New York, and California have opened cases against Exxon, broadly organized around the notion that the firm’s involvement in political activism on the question of global warming is legally actionable fraud to the extent that the company’s claims are at variance with Democrats’ beliefs. The libertarian-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is critical of global-warming scholarship, has been served with a subpoena by the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose attorney general demands a decade’s worth of the institution’s correspondence. This is one part political campaign and one part extortion, Exxon being the world’s most valuable firm by market capitalization. Prosecuting companies and think tanks for political activism is strictly brownshirt stuff, irrespective of one’s view on the question of anthropogenic global warming. The Obama administration, naturally, is considering parallel federal action. This is unconstitutional, illegal, and wildly unethical.

‐ Commissioned salesmen do not always have your best interest at heart. The Obama administration, eager to bring every aspect of the investment business under maximum federal oversight, has declared that certain financial advisers are — presto change-o — “fiduciaries,” meaning people with a legal responsibility to act in the best economic interest of their clients, even when that conflicts with their own self-interest, a legal standard generally applied to senior corporate managers and trustees acting on behalf of minors and charitable foundations. The fiduciary rule doesn’t prohibit financial advisers from earning commissions for selling particular financial products — that would be too easy — or set comprehensible limits on those commissions, on fees, or on other forms of remuneration; rather, it simply (simply!) requires that such compensation be “reasonable.” Reasonable according to whom? That’s the point. By creating an open-ended police power at the point of sale, the Obama administration attains a power over financial institutions that can be wielded with little or no oversight, a handy cudgel to use against politically noncompliant firms and institutions. If you’re wondering why Congress empowered the president to do this, it didn’t. There is no new enabling law. While taking a loosey-goosey approach toward “reasonable,” the rule defines “advice” broadly enough to include Jim Cramer’s television program and Ric Edelman’s radio show. That vagueness isn’t by accident, either.

‐ The economy wobbles, the debt soars, jihadists whet their beheading blades, and the nation’s attention is rapt, commanded by the question of which toilets people use. Activists wept — and filed lawsuits — after North Carolina enacted a law providing that bathrooms, locker rooms, and the like in the state’s public schools and government facilities be single-sex facilities if they are shared facilities. For the purposes of the law, a person’s sex is the sex on his or her birth certificate. In the case of transgender people, North Carolina offers the very reasonable accommodation of single-person facilities. But that accommodation is insufficient for the LGBT* (seriously; they want that asterisk in there) activists, who demand that people who believe themselves to be a member of the opposite sex be not only tolerated but recognized in law. The usual miscreants threaten the usual boycotts. That’s the state of American bigotry: Men who believe they are women are instructed to use private facilities instead of the girls’ locker room at Podunk Junior High.

‐ Agents from California’s Department of Justice raided the Orange County home of David Daleiden and seized all his video of Planned Parenthood officials wheeling and dealing to get good prices on their sale of fetal tissue and body parts from unborn children who had been aborted at their facilities. A Texas grand jury that had convened to look into Planned Parenthood ended up indicting Daleiden and a colleague of his for forging California driver’s licenses and for misdemeanors related to their assuming false identities in their undercover videos. Their guilt or innocence notwithstanding, their work was valuable documentation of the dark underbelly of the nation’s largest abortion provider. Kamala Harris, the state attorney general and a Democratic senatorial candidate who has received campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood, has floated the risible suggestion that her actions would help her determine whether Daleiden’s organization has violated state charity-registration requirements. What it has truly violated is Democratic orthodoxy, and Harris’s treatment of that fact as illegal is sufficient evidence of her fitness for both the office she holds and the one she seeks.

‐ Indiana enacted a set of anti-abortion policies, including a ban on abortion based on the race or potential disability of the unborn child and a requirement that fetal remains from an abortion or miscarriage be cremated or interred. The main response of supporters of abortion has been to charge that Indiana Republicans have an unhealthy interest in women’s menstrual cycles, to celebrate their own wit in making this response, and to say that they are raising an extremely serious point with it. If the point is that they are unable to think maturely about what we owe nascent human life, they are certainly right.

‐ San Francisco has enacted a new and cumbrous family-leave policy. Under existing California law, workers needing time off to care for a newborn or an ailing family member are paid 55 percent of their salaries out of a fund sustained by a dedicated payroll tax; under the new rule, San Francisco workers will be entitled to 100 percent for up to six weeks, with the additional 45 percent being paid directly by employers. San Francisco has fewer children per capita than any other large American city, and local practices (a zoning regime that makes housing unbearably unaffordable for people of ordinary means) make it one of the most hostile places in the country in which to raise a family. The San Francisco rule, like the state policy, applies only to firms with 50 employees or more, and relatively few workers avail themselves of the benefit — most California workers, according to a recent survey, have never even heard of the program. Like the woefully misnamed Affordable Care Act, the policy creates one more reason for small firms to keep their headcounts down and to keep part-time workers part-time. It also creates a reason for growing firms to cross the city limits. San Francisco is home to a great many innovative and wildly profitable companies, which compete ruthlessly with one another for the best employees. But not every company is a successful app maker, and standardizing benefits packages through force of law is ill advised.

‐ If anyone doubts the Left’s intolerance, witness its temper tantrum in response to Tennessee legislation that would protect counselors or therapists from being forced to counsel clients “as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors” that conflict with the counselor’s religious beliefs. For most people, this is common sense (who wants counseling from a person who believes your lifestyle is immoral?), but for the Left it is “discrimination,” and they at once summon the ghost of Jim Crow. This is preposterous. There is no shortage of counselors ready and willing to counsel gay clients or any others in distress. If counselors don’t enjoy rights of conscience, who does?

‐ Puerto Rico does not have the money to pay its debts. We could soon face a humanitarian crisis or a bailout by federal taxpayers. House Republicans are trying to avert those dangers with legislation that allows those debts to be restructured, creates a fiscal control board to put the island’s budget in order, and lets businesses in Puerto Rico pay a lower minimum wage. The bill isn’t perfect. It should be strengthened to include more pro-growth elements, such as relief from the Jones Act, a protectionist measure governing shipping to and from the mainland that raises costs for Puerto Rico. Changing the rules regarding debt retroactively, though precedented, is obviously not ideal. Short of time travel, though, we have no ideal solution. The question congressional conservatives need to ask is whether they prefer the likely alternative of a bailout.

‐ What is in the 28 pages? The pages, for those not immersed in the story, are a portion of Congress’s 838-page report on 9/11. The 28 may be read by members of Congress but remain classified. Former senator Bob Graham (D., Fla.) wants them released to the public. They reportedly suggest that support was extended to 9/11 hijackers by Saudi businessmen and government officials. Does this mean the Saudi state ordered 9/11? No: But Saudi Arabia is a family business run by a huge clan with different agendas and byzantine interconnections. Broadly speaking, the Saudi state supports global jihad by encouraging its homegrown extremists to go abroad and by propagating the most aggressive forms of Islam through oil-funded mosques, madrassas, and lobbying groups. We have cooperated with Saudi Arabia for years on a number of issues, from fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan to driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. We have cooperated with worse (Stalin, World War II). But we should know what we are doing. Let the sun shine in.

‐ Russian fly-bys and simulated attacks against American warships and aircraft represent a dangerous but fitting conclusion to the Obama administration’s failed Russian “reset.” Obama pursued a thaw throughout his first term, even to the point of taunting a wary-of-Russia Mitt Romney (“The Eighties are calling. They want their foreign policy back.”). Then, in Obama’s second term, Putin dropped the hammer. He invaded Ukraine, he rescued his Syrian allies with overwhelming air power, and he’s rearming Iran. We’re reliving the bad old days of military brinkmanship. Obama did in fact reset the American–Russian relationship — all the way back to the Cold War.

‐ Few public personalities have taken the fate of Muslim refugees to heart as openly as Pope Francis. A couple of years ago he visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of illegal immigrants were being held. He has sheltered some Muslims in the Vatican, washed the feet of others, and spoken of Muslim suffering in addresses to worshippers in St. Peter’s Square. On the Greek island of Lesbos are some 8,000 refugees, many of them Syrian; and three families, a total of twelve people and all of them Muslims, were selected by lots. Pope Francis flew in his private plane to greet them and bring them back with him to Rome, where a charity will look after them. They speak of him as their “savior.” An increasing number of Christians escaping from the Middle East would like him to be their savior, too.

‐ Jan Böhmermann is a German satirist who specializes in going too far, and then some more. In a late-night comedy show on television, he read a skit of his aimed at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The accusation of repressing minorities, “kicking Kurds and slapping Christians,” is all too true, but Böhmermann mixed in a fantasy about amorous relations with a goat. A furious Erdogan wanted to prosecute. Under an obscure and virtually lapsed law of 1871, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave consent to the state prosecutor to start proceedings. Critics argue that the deal just reached with Turkey to exchange refugees gives Erdogan the whip hand over Merkel. Besides, this self-proclaimed sultan is in the habit of obtaining prison sentences for journalists whose opinions he dislikes. Merkel appears to be on an increasingly slippery slope, and, as befits a satirist, Böhmermann may very well have the last laugh.

‐ Haiti has been plagued by many forms of misery-inducing calamity over the past 100 years, but cholera was not among them — until six years ago. In 2010, following a catastrophic earthquake, a cholera epidemic began that has so far taken some 10,000 lives and infected nearly one in ten people in the country. The source of the outbreak turned out to be a U.N. peacekeeping base, where the contaminated feces of U.N. soldiers from Nepal were unceremoniously dumped into an open pit near a major river system. The Obama administration’s Centers for Disease Control has worked assiduously to suppress this politically inconvenient fact, as the journalist Jonathan Katz has documented. The U.N. itself has likewise declined to take responsibility. “From our point of view, it really doesn’t matter” what the source of the outbreak was, said a U.N. spokeswoman. Really? It matters enough to obscure.

‐ A yearning for freedom beats in every human heart, and the same thing applies to mollusks, it seems. In New Zealand’s National Aquarium, Inky the Octopus climbed up the wall of his tank, squeezed out through a gap in the glass, and then slid down a 150-foot drainage pipe that led to the waters of Hawke’s Bay, his former home. When the story got out, he became a Kiwi folk hero. A slippery character with a talent for getting out of tight spots, Inky may have a future in politics back in the bay.

‐ Lily Parra’s parents were advised by their doctors to consider having her killed in the womb because she would probably die shortly after birth. They chose not to, and their now four-month-old baby is in need of a heart transplant to survive. Her doctors decided, however, that she should not be on the list to receive a heart if one became available — not because of her chances for survival, but, the Parras say they were told, because she may have an intellectual disability. Apparently they view a potentially cognitively impaired life as less worth saving. Lily’s mother has started an online petition to appeal the decision. She knows that her daughter faces many obstacles to procuring life-saving surgery; she simply asks that unjust discrimination not be one of them.

‐ Celebrated British novelist Ian McEwan gave a speech to the Royal Institution in London on the representation of “self.” The author of Atonement said that identity politics are reaching the point where anyone can now pick his preferred “self” off the “shelves of a personal-identity supermarket.” Anatomically normal males are identifying as women, he lamented, and demanding admission to women’s colleges and access to women’s locker rooms. “Call me old-fashioned,” McEwan said, “but I tend to think of people with penises as men.” You can imagine what happened next. After several days of Sturm und Drang, McEwan recanted: “Biology is not always destiny.” But bowing to the sexual-identity inquisitors apparently is.

‐ A generation ago, in one of the early signs that liberals had ceded control of American higher education to leftists, Stanford University dropped a requirement that its students take a course on Western culture. This came in the wake of protests led by Jesse Jackson, who appeared on campus in 1987 to lead a group of buffoons in a notorious chant: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture’s got to go!” And so it went, ejected by a faculty that no longer cared about transmitting a glorious heritage to young people. Earlier this year, a group of undergraduates connected to the Stanford Review, the conservative student newspaper, tried to revive this area of study, proposing that it replace a watered-down humanities requirement. They gathered enough signatures to put their non-binding proposal on the ballot for a student election in April. Despite their gallant effort, the measure lost — by a margin of six to one, guaranteeing that Western culture will remain dead and gone at one of the country’s great schools.

‐ Harvard has a Board of Overseers, composed of alumni. Five new members are chosen each year. Ron Unz, a conservative software entrepreneur, has formed a five-man slate. Besides him, it includes Stuart Taylor Jr. (mentioned above for correcting the record of an HBO film about Clarence Thomas) and Ralph Nader. They are running on a platform summarized as “Free Harvard / Fair Harvard.” They favor free tuition for all — saying that the university has more than enough money to cover that. And they favor transparency in the admissions process. For example, what are the racial criteria? Are there racial quotas? Do these quotas disadvantage Asians? We aren’t so sure about the free tuition, but we’re sure about the transparency. We endorse the slate. So, there you have it — a historic event: National Review for Nader.

‐ Believe it or not, there are places even more PC than Dartmouth. The New Hampshire college was founded by the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, who — according to the lyrics of a still-popular campus anthem usually described, somewhat redundantly for Dartmouth, as a “drinking song” — “set forth into the wilderness to teach the Indian.” A similar backstory is attached to Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Wash., named for a pair of missionaries who came to the Northwest in the 1830s to teach and convert the Cayuse tribe. Until recently, the college was proud of its history; for the last century or so, Whitman’s athletic teams have been called Missionaries, and the student newspaper has been the Pioneer. But on today’s more enlightened campus, everyone knows that missionaries were racist imperialists and that pioneers turned pristine wilderness into strip malls. So now the teams and the paper are looking for new names. May we suggest Diversity Officers and the Undocumented Migrant?

‐ Perrie Edwards, of the British female pop group Little Mix, went online and posted a picture of her favorite footwear, a beaded pair of American Indian–style moccasins that she’d had since she was 13, and from the reaction you’d think she had tomahawked Elizabeth Warren: “If you’re not Native American you have no business wearing these. . . . It’s silly and wrong and disrespectful.” “Someone’s culture isn’t a fashion statement.” “Moccasins are a part of a traditional Native American regalia and something like that is earned, not just given to you.” So we guess that walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is no longer on the agenda.

‐ James Levine is one of the most important classical musicians in the world, and one of the best. A conductor and pianist, he has been music director of the Metropolitan Opera since 1976. He first conducted the company in 1971. Now, at age 72, he will step down from the music directorship and take on emeritus status. In recent years, Levine has been plagued by health problems. He has set musical standards for the whole world: discipline, wisdom, precision, integrity. His conducting is unmistakable. There are many stories about Levine, but here’s one: When he was a teenager, he was conducting an orchestra in Aspen. A very senior conductor observed this. He said to a bystander, “Who’s that?” The bystander said, “That’s Jimmy Levine, from Cincinnati. He’s going to Juilliard next year.” The conductor asked, “Why?”

‐ Born in an abandoned boxcar in Oildale, Calif., in the valley of the Great Depression, Merle Haggard attempted robbery 20 years later and landed in San Quentin. He knew privation. Johnny Cash performed at the prison and inspired him to become a songwriter and musician. Ten years after Haggard’s release in 1960, nine of his recorded songs, some of them about the trials and woes of incarceration, had topped the country charts. In 1972, Governor Ronald Reagan formally pardoned him of his past crimes. Haggard’s lyrics oozed a compelling mix of dignity and poignancy. The poor mother’s “hungry eyes” he painted in words and music are instantly memorable. He was proud to be an “Okie from Muskogee,” where no one bought the radical chic of the 1960s, or so he sang. Some critics thought the song was ironic, but it became an anthem of a kind of counter-counterculture nonetheless. He continued to perform until his death, on his 79th birthday. R.I.P.

‐ Vint Lawrence joined the CIA right out of Princeton. He spent the 1960s with the agency, including four years in the jungles of Laos, where he helped Vang Pao’s guerrillas fight Communists in their own country and in Vietnam. Then he did something unexpected: He quit and turned to art, having had no formal training in it. He eventually became one of America’s great political caricaturists. He put his pen to the service of liberalism, drawing for the likes of The New Republic and The Washington Monthly. Lawrence was very good at what he did, telling stories about the figures of the day through his exaggerated renderings. Dead at 76. R.I.P.


Whine and Roses

Donald Trump is right: The system is rigged. It’s rigged in favor of front-runners. That’s why Trump, who is leading the Republican nominating contest, has a larger percentage of delegates than of votes. Unsurprisingly, Trump never mentions when the rules have helped him. He much prefers to whine and peddle conspiracy theories when they don’t.

Trump threw a tantrum over Colorado and Wyoming, states where Ted Cruz swept the available delegates. Trump called the results “totally unfair” and on Twitter asked: “How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary?” Eleven states and five territories opted for caucuses or state conventions over primaries. People nonetheless had a chance to vote. In fact, in Colorado on March 1, 60,000 Republicans attended nearly 3,000 precinct caucuses to elect delegates to the county assemblies and congressional-district conventions that convened during the following weeks. Nothing was “stolen.”

Repeatedly in recent weeks, Trump has been outmaneuvered by a Cruz campaign that has demonstrated exhaustive knowledge of the delegate-selection process, a vastly superior organization, and unflagging hustle. Cruz operatives were on the ground in Colorado eight months ago, preparing for the March 1 precinct caucuses. By contrast, Trump’s last-ditch effort to secure delegates at Colorado’s state convention — his campaign had reportedly decided not to begin working on this effort earlier because it expected to have the nomination sewn up beforehand — was so chaotic that his team ended up inadvertently directing votes toward Cruz delegates. In Wyoming, Cruz showed up to speak at the convention, whereas Trump surrogate Sarah Palin was a last-minute no-show.

The nominee-selection process has emerged from evolution more than design, and it includes different kinds of contests. That diversity respects federalism. It also means that to win the nomination, a candidate has to show demographically and geographically broad support and build an organization that can master the details. Not coincidentally, those things are related to picking a strong general-election nominee and a good president.

Trump wouldn’t be either of these, and his failure on the ground in Colorado, Wyoming, and elsewhere is yet another indication. Contrary to his endless boasts, he is not a quick learner, he does not run complex organizations well, and he does not hire the best people.

Trump may well get to 1,237, and certainly his huge delegate haul in New York helps. But if he falls short, he will wish that he had whined less and worked more.

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

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy


The attempt to better understand the complex and elusive connections between the personal and the political realms in our psyche is a worthwhile endeavor.


Politics & Policy


The VOA’s Unfulfilled Promise As a former Voice of America manager responsible for launching the VOA Ukrainian TV program hosted by Myroslava Gongadze, I applaud Jay Nordlinger for his article on ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Is there anything insulting we can say about New York? ‐ The New York Post, for decades a conservative opinion leader with a brash, Gotham accent, endorsed Donald Trump for ...
Politics & Policy


ONE FLOWER One flower stands for beauty, two for hope. More buds begin their version of cross-talk With tangled leaf and strong, supporting stalk. Subject to breeze, they sway but somehow cope. Shadows of butterflies, ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Pelosi’s House of Pain

Not so long ago — as recently as the cover of the March 2019 Rolling Stone, in fact — they seemed like the best of friends. I'm referring to Nancy Pelosi and the members of "The Squad": Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and (not pictured) Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. They shared some good ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
Film & TV

How Seinfeld Mastered the Comedy Domain

I can’t say whether Larry Charles, Larry David, Alec Berg, Spike Feresten, and the rest of the brilliant writers of Seinfeld were students of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but they might as well have been. Fitzgerald supplied the best advice for sitcom writers: Start with an individual, and before you know it you find ... Read More