Magazine | May 28, 2018, Issue

The Week

(Image by Roman Genn)

• We propose a total and complete shutdown of New York attorneys general until we can figure out what the hell is going on.

• Rudy Giuliani began his service on President Trump’s legal team by dousing the smoldering Stormy Daniels affair with gasoline. First he admitted that Trump knew about the payments former lawyer Michael Cohen made to hush up Daniels before the election. This contradicted a string of Trump’s denials, and was itself contradicted by Trump, who said Giuliani should “get his facts straight.” Giuliani then said that Cohen might have made similar payments to other women, and that $130,000 — the amount given Daniels — was not real money anyway, merely a “nuisance” payment. Everyone knows Trump is a cad; his enemies claim to be shocked by it, his supporters don’t care. Everyone also knows that Trump blusters and lies whenever he feels his amour-propre is threatened. What we did not know was that Team Trump could be so feckless in self-defense, especially when its new point man is both a former prosecutor and a longtime friend of Trump’s. Saddest is to see Giuliani ending a sometimes heroic career as a vaudevillian. Trump should admit he paid off bimbos, pay the fine for not declaring it as a campaign expense, and end the legal and media circus.

• Robert Mueller finally has a skeptic he can’t afford to ignore: federal judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Mueller and his nominal but seemingly passive supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, have long dodged questions about Rosenstein’s non-compliance with regulations: vesting Mueller with apparently limitless jurisdiction, failing to articulate the crimes he has authority to investigate. But in a tense hearing on Mueller’s prosecution of Paul Manafort, Judge Ellis posed those questions, putting prosecutors in the hot seat. A Reagan appointee known for impolitic bluntness, Ellis observed that the charges against Manafort, which deal with shady work for a Kremlin-backed Ukrainian political party going back over a decade, have nothing to do with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election; hence, the judge tartly noted, the prosecutor is squeezing Manafort to get his cooperation with an eye toward impeaching Trump. Ellis was especially ornery over prosecutors’ refusal to show him an unredacted version of a classified memo in which Rosenstein purports to have spelled out Mueller’s jurisdiction. He indicated he may dismiss the indictment if the special counsel does not relent. We suspect that Ellis will not do that, but that Mueller is in for a tough go.

• As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt has been a champion of deregulation and the rule of law. He has also, it increasingly appears, been exploiting taxpayers for his enjoyment. The Washington Post claims that four sources say that when he took office, he “drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel.” If that and similar reports are true, President Trump should arrange for him to see the world as a private citizen and be replaced by someone with the same policies and better ethics.

• Vice President Mike Pence, in Arizona to address a pro-Trump group, called out former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was in the audience, as “a great friend of this president” and a “tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” Arpaio should be a great friend of this president, who pardoned him for criminal contempt. But “champion of . . . the rule of law”? When he was sheriff of Maricopa County, Arpaio wrongfully arrested or prosecuted political enemies, causing the public to spend millions in settlements. The county gave millions more to the families of prisoners who died at the hands of his deputies while in custody. Arpaio talked about “strong borders” often enough, but maybe he should have spent more time doing his job. Pence should not be willing to swallow any toad to appease the worst passions of Trump’s base.

• Don Blankenship, a disgraced coal magnate, briefly seized the national spotlight in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary with his lunatic attacks on Mitch McConnell, a.k.a. “Cocaine Mitch,” and his “China family,” a reference to his wife, Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan. Republicans feared that the likely unelectable Blankenship might ride a tide of infamy to victory in the three-way race, but Trump helpfully slapped down Blankenship on Twitter, and state attorney general and NR-endorsed candidate Patrick Morrisey prevailed. Morrisey is a hard worker and a rock-solid conservative, and he’ll have a decent chance of beating Senator Joe Manchin, who has to be nearly as disappointed at Blankenship’s third-place showing as Blankenship is.

• Kanye West, the mercurial hip-hop star, has shocked the world. Returning to Twitter after a self-imposed absence, Kanye began to say that he had become a “free thinker.” More specifically, he expressed some support for President Trump, conceded that he admired the prominent black right-winger Candace Owens, and quoted right-leaning figures such as Thomas Sowell. Making explicit what Kanye had left implied, his friend Chance the Rapper piled on, proposing that “black people don’t have to be Democrats.” Kanye is an eccentric, and is David Bowie–esque in the frequency of his persona changes. Accordingly, whether he is really in the midst of a transformation, whether this would be a net positive for conservatism, and whether anyone should care much remain open questions. Nevertheless, the reaction that his words provoked has been fascinating. Across Hollywood, celebrities have expressed shock and anger. Kanye’s friend John Legend has been trying to stage a slow-motion intervention. And Ta-Nehisi Coates, the celebrated Atlantic writer, has penned a florid and bizarre essay essentially accusing Kanye of “acting white.” Meanwhile, President Trump’s approval rating among black men has doubled in the space of a week. We live in volatile times.

• An undeniable achievement of Donald Trump has been the wrecking of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Over time this annual event morphed from Beltway bonhomie and charity fundraising to parody Oscars: bloated, self-regarding, liberal. Republican presidents came to don rictuses of good fellowship while being skewered; Democratic presidents came to join in the skewering. This creaky spectacle had become the target even of intelligent liberals. (See Cullen Murphy’s 2007 book Are We Rome? Murphy’s answer was, Yes, and his Exhibit A was the Correspondents’ Dinner.) Trump’s decision to skip the last two dinners deprived them of the necessary focus. Michelle Wolf’s monologue this year, both acid and limping, showed what Trump was missing: Not much. As the song says, you been a good old wagon, but you done broke down.

• MSNBC television host Joy Reid is under attack once again for inflammatory posts on her now-defunct personal political blog, the Reid Report, but this time the story has a twist. In December, online detectives found old posts that appeared to gay-bait Florida politician Charlie Crist. When the posts surfaced, she promptly apologized, and her legion of progressive fans quickly forgave her and moved on. After all, to them she’s a hero of the #Resistance, and they couldn’t let past controversy distract her from the urgency of the current anti-Trump task. The newly found posts, discovered on Internet archives, were more tawdry than the first round of controversial comments — she made a habit of insinuating that political figures she opposed were gay — and Reid quickly denied them, offering up a strange and implausible tale of an unusual hacking scheme. Even as her defense fell apart, she doubled down, lying in the present about words from the past. Eventually, she offered a quasi–mea culpa — denying any memory of writing the offensive articles but apologizing for their content anyway. Once again, most of her fans were satisfied. If MSNBC fires her, it should be for lies that have opened it up to justified ridicule.

• Paul Ryan asked for, and got, the resignation of House chaplain Pat Conroy, a Catholic priest. Liberals claimed he was ousted because Republicans objected to the public prayers he offered, such as the one urging that congressmen “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” Ryan said he had acted because of complaints about the level of pastoral care that congressmen had received. Buoyed by Democratic support, Conroy rescinded his resignation. House rules don’t allow Ryan to fire him. This incident is not going to have any effect on the next elections, notwithstanding a few efforts to use it to show some anti-Catholic tendencies among Republicans. Lost in the shuffle is that neither the Bible nor the magisterium suggests that tax laws should avoid having winners and losers. If he fills his prayers with his thoughtless opinions, Republicans ought to find a way to get rid of him.

• In December 2015, Dr. Harold Bornstein, longtime physician of Donald Trump, wrote a letter that not only gave Trump a clean bill of health but testified that “Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Healthier than Washington, the finest horseman of his age (according to Jefferson); than Lincoln, rail-splitter; than TR, Rough Rider; than Bush 41, college first baseman. Now Dr. Bornstein admits what literary stylists long suspected, that the glowing tribute was dictated by Trump himself. Granted, the man doesn’t drink or smoke. But he eats garbage, and if the theory of the humors has anything to it, his spleen must be the size of a dirigible. Better get a second opinion.

• In April, Judge John Bates issued an order that not only blocked the Trump administration from rescinding the Obama-era DACA program but required the administration to process new applications unless it can explain — to the judge’s satisfaction — that it has the legal authority to end a program that another president began. This is unmitigated nonsense. Obama created the program by issuing a memo. If that was within his authority, it has to be within Trump’s authority to withdraw the memo. If it was not within Obama’s authority, then the memo has to be withdrawn for that reason.

• Senator Marco Rubio caused a stir by questioning aspects of the new tax law. On balance, he says, it is a good law. But he also says that Republicans have exaggerated how much it is already raising wages, and that it could have been designed better. He would have cut the corporate tax rate a bit less, for example, while doing more to let companies write off the cost of investment in the U.S. That policy mix, he argues, would increase the likelihood that the benefits of the tax bill will accrue to Americans. Some of Rubio’s points are clearly correct. We would expect the lower corporate rate to spur investment and thus raise wages, but only over time. Most of Rubio’s colleagues are, understandably, hyping and sometimes overhyping short-term effects instead. Other points are arguable — and should be argued, rather than treated as heresies against conservatism. Out of that debate could come the next iteration of conservative tax reform. That the tax code we have now, even after the law, falls short of perfection should be a point of agreement.

• Iowa governor Kim Reynolds (R.) has just signed a bill banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy. No state offers unborn children more legal protection. A handful of states have already attempted to enact heartbeat bills of their own, but most failed to make it through the legislature, and those that were signed into law have been struck down in court. It is difficult to see how this bill will survive the inevitable legal challenge, but pro-life lawmakers are hopeful it — or another abortion regulation like it — will eventually serve as the basis for the Supreme Court’s overturning of its decision in 1973’s Roe v. Wade. Regardless of the outcome, this bill is an important reminder of the undeniable science of fetal life.

• In 1999, after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras, the U.S. granted Hondurans Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which blocks deportation for aliens from countries with catastrophic conditions. That “temporary” status was renewed for 19 years, until President Trump finally revoked it on May 7. The Trump administration had earlier revoked TPS for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Nepal. The 86,000 Hondurans holding TPS visas have 20 months to return home voluntarily before they are deported. Predictably, the decision drew outcry from many on the left. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called it “a cowardly assault” and alleged that it fans the flames of “bigotry, racism, and xenophobia.” She must be using those words as loosely as “temporary.”

• Arizona granted its striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise, phased in over the next two years. This was not a problem in itself, as the state’s teachers are some of the lowest-paid in the nation. But the educators’ tactics here, as in Oklahoma before, were troubling: The teachers went on strike despite being promised the 20 percent pay hike from the start, and during their six-day walkout made a variety of partisan demands involving education policies unrelated to their own compensation, and even the state’s income-tax rates. None of the additional demands were met — and neither were the teachers’ obligations to their students for those six days.

• Whatever happened to the Logan Act? The 18th-century law purporting to make it a crime for Americans to conduct unauthorized diplomacy with foreign governments has never been used to successfully prosecute someone. Yet it became the Obama Justice Department’s favorite felony when a pretext was needed to investigate and interrogate Michael Flynn over his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Obama veterans seem remarkably untroubled by John Kerry’s rallying of foreign governments against Trump’s Iran policy, particularly the deep-sixing of the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry, of course, is no longer secretary of state. He has no foreign-relations portfolio and no authorization to engage in diplomacy: the way it always should have been.

• “Iran lied!” Those two bald words will ever after conjure up the ninth prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. On camera, he stood before the world with behind him the mock-up of a purloined Iranian nuclear archive containing no fewer than 55,000 relevant documents. The mind boggles. Mossad, the Israeli secret service, located this archive in a run-down warehouse in Tehran and lifted it away and out of the country in a fell swoop that tests the imagination to its limits. Rumor has it that right now unfortunates are being arrested and tortured in prisons throughout Iran. European powers maintain that they have learned nothing new from the archive. Though true, that says more about them than about it.

• Nothing good comes from yearning for a Nobel Peace Prize for its own sake. In the matter of North Korea, the Trump administration deserves credit for departing from Barack Obama’s misbegotten policy of sitting idly by (otherwise known as “strategic patience”) while the DPRK advanced toward its goal of developing nuclear-armed ICBMs. Now the North Koreans famously want to talk (even releasing U.S. hostages ahead of negotiations), and chatter about a Nobel Prize is in the air. Yet it is nothing new to get the North Koreans to the negotiating table — and that’s the problem. The North’s diplomatic strategy of the last few decades has been to pretend that it will make major concessions, only to renege on those promises after pocketing economic benefits. The real test of Trump’s mettle isn’t getting the North Koreans to the table, but being willing to walk away from it as necessary.

• In Armenia, something rare happened, a peaceful revolution, or revolt, which some are calling another “velvet revolution,” after Czechoslovakia’s in 1989. President Serzh Sargsyan tried a power grab, to extend his rule, Putin-style. Armenians poured into the streets, ultimately securing Sargsyan’s resignation. “I was wrong,” he said, remarkably. Days later, Putin’s opponents rallied across Russia, in advance of his most recent “inauguration.” Some of them said they had been newly inspired by the Armenians. About 2,000 Russians were arrested, some of them violently. Among those arrested were children or adolescents — resulting in some shocking photos. The spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Heather Nauert, said, “Leaders who are secure in their own legitimacy don’t arrest their peaceful opponents for protesting.” Exactly right.

• The White Helmets are one of the most remarkable groups in the world. Formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, they are volunteers who pull people from the rubble, thus saving lives. Hundreds of them have lost their own lives in the act of trying to save others. The Assad dictatorship and its Russian patron revile them, of course — portraying them as aggressors. The White Helmets are dangerous to Assad and Putin because they are witnesses to war crimes and have proof of them. The State Department has long praised and funded the White Helmets. But now funding has been cut off as part of an overall freeze on humanitarian aid to Syria. This puts the White Helmets in jeopardy. Surely the United States can save pennies elsewhere.

• A man on a motorcycle blew himself up in central Kabul at the top of a guarded street behind which is the U.S. embassy. Responders, police, and reporters rushed to help. Also arriving at the scene on a motorcycle some 40 minutes later, and gaining admission by posing as a photographer, a second suicide bomber set off a bigger explosion. All in all, this horrific attack killed 25 men, nine of them journalists, and wounded 49 but still counting. In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen shot dead a young Afghan working for the BBC. Islamic State and the Taliban both see themselves as diehard enemies of the United States and most likely coordinated this double suicide. Their interest is to show Afghan president Ashraf Ghani that Western allies are ineffective and Western ways punishable, with death if need be. A general election is due in September. These serial murders, especially of journalists, mean that campaigning is already under way.

• Basques are a people living on both sides of the border between Spain and France. For the last 50 years and more, all concerned have had to deal with ETA — the initials stand in the Basque language for Homeland and Freedom. Influenced by exemplars such as Mao Zedong and Herbert Marcuse, ETA turned to terror in the manner of others at the time, including the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang, the IRA, and the Weathermen. ETA killed 853 people, one of them Spanish prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco, wounded 2,600, kidnapped 86, and intimidated all and sundry. Previously the group had acknowledged its responsibility for failing to resolve the Basque “political conflict” and had declared a “definitive end” to its armed campaign. Going further now, the group has put out a statement that it has “dismantled its organizational structure.” The Spanish authorities are saying that ETA has fewer than 50 activists, most of them scattered abroad, and in any case the security forces will “continue to pursue the terrorists wherever they may be.” Which seems to suggest a suspicion that ETA’s claim to be dead and buried is too good to be true.

• Beijing sent a letter to 36 foreign air carriers, telling them not to suggest that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are destinations apart from China. The White House responded, saying, “This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.” Further, “We call on China to stop threatening and coercing American carriers and citizens.” It’s bad enough that the Chinese Communist Party bosses all of China; it ought not be allowed to boss the rest of the world, too.

• The British have a long and glorious history of clockmaking. The timepiece that made accurate determination of longitude possible, greatly increasing maritime safety, was made by a Briton, and the most familiar visual symbol of the nation is Big Ben. But among British schoolchildren, reading traditional clocks is going the way of calculating shillings and pence: Digital time displays have become so ubiquitous that there’s no reason to learn the old-fashioned way of telling hours and minutes. Now many British schools are removing their analogue wall clocks from classrooms because so few students know how to read them. So much for clockwise and counterclockwise, putting your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, or fighter pilots’ “checking six.” A nation whose lawyers still wear wigs in court can surely do a better job of keeping alive this anachronism. George Orwell started Nineteen Eighty-Four with the clocks striking thirteen; even more disorienting will be having them not strike at all.

• The killing of ten Torontonians by a van-driving misogynist has elevated to public view “incels,” the involuntarily celibate: men who, in an age when anything goes, have not found anything going their way, and are enraged as a result. Could their need, and hence their wrath, be stanched by economic arrangements — sex bots, or sex workers? NR contributor and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat was hammered online for saying so, when all he actually wrote was that “the logic of late-modern sexual life . . . in liberal societies” tends in that direction. He noted that like much late-modern logic, this too would be mistaken: Prostitution has coexisted, for millennia, with violence against prostitutes, and against women generally. The heart (Jeremiah 17:9) is desperately wicked. Law and religion, chivalry and love are our only alternatives.

• Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, the 23-year-old black men arrested while waiting to begin a business meeting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last month, have settled with the city. It will pay them one dollar each and spend $200,000 on a pilot program for high-school students who want to become entrepreneurs. “Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process,” the two men “approached the city and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Mayor Jim Kenney explained. A separate settlement with Starbucks was announced in a calmly worded joint statement between the company and the two wronged patrons. In an interview on national TV, Robinson and Nelson, serious and soft-spoken, discussed their experience in measured tones. Throughout, their response to the controversy has been restrained and public-spirited when the temptation to vent rancor must have been great. Emulate them.

• Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, for having drugged and molested Andrea Constand, director of operations for women’s basketball at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple. Cosby admitted that over the years he gave his paramours Quaaludes, but claimed that his adulterous sex was always consensual. In the aftermath of his conviction, his ever-loyal wife Camille compared him to Emmett Till, the 14-year-old lynched in 1955 in Mississippi for allegedly making a pass at a white woman (who admitted years later that her testimony was false). Too soon, cry audiences when comics joke about recent disasters. Too much, we say now. Instead of violating the dead,  both the Cosbys might better reflect on their conduct; they will have ample time to do so.

• Paige Patterson, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says that a woman should separate from an abusive husband “only in the most serious of cases” and that divorce is “always wrong counsel.” After that commentary from 2000 was discovered and called out by a Christian blogger last month, Patterson reaffirmed his view. In an open letter, hundreds of Southern Baptist women have denounced him, calling attention as well to a sermon, four years ago, in which he dwelt on and smirked about the appearance of a teenage girl he called “built” and “fine.” Patterson has said too much that is distasteful and wrong and discredits the SBC’s traditional teachings about “the roles of men and women in the family and in the church,” which the women who signed the protest letter affirm. They serve their church well. Patterson doesn’t.

• Eight decades after it was written, Zora Neale Hurston’s first book, Barracoon, sees print. Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance writer trained as an anthropologist, interviewed Cudjo Lewis, who had been born in Benin in the 1830s. In 1860 he was captured by African raiders and sold from a barracoon — a coastal stockade built to serve the slave trade — to an Alabamian who smuggled him into the United States. He was thus, when Hurston met him, the last living African to be brought in bondage to this country. The extraordinary book-length interview in which he surveyed his life could not find a publisher in the 1930s because Hurston would not rewrite his words in standard English; black intellectuals were also leery of admitting the role of Africans in the trade. Hurston, who died in obscurity in 1960 (she had become a conservative Republican), has been experiencing a revival. A keen American writer memorializes a great American crime.

• Trenton McKinley, 13, fell off a dune-buggy trailer near his home in Mobile, Ala., in March. He landed hard on the concrete. The trailer crashed onto his head, and he sustained seven skull fractures. His mother reports that in the hospital, USA Medical Center, he was dead on the table for 15 minutes before doctors revived him. They told her that he would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life and that in any case his days might be few. Soon, they declared him brain dead. He was barely breathing. His parents, stricken, arranged for his organs to be donated. The day before doctors were going to remove his life support, his vital signs began to spike. Then he began to speak — in full sentences. He can walk, although his full recovery is still a work in progress. Trenton calls his survival a “miracle,” a thing to marvel at. Who would dare to disagree? Enter this unforeseen medical event in the catalogue of cautionary tales against hastening the death of patients with conditions declared to be terminal. Then return to the sheer wonder of it all, and continue marveling.

• Keziah Daum, a teenager in Utah, tweeted photos of herself in her prom dress, with the comment “PROM,” a seemingly normal thing for a high-school student to do. Not in these times. Daum had unwittingly committed the crime of “cultural appropriation” by wearing a traditional Chinese-style dress without being of Chinese descent, so she was subjected to an outpouring of fury and denunciation. “My culture is NOT your goddam prom dress,” one young man tweeted in response, a sentiment that received more than 150,000 “likes.” Daum, to her credit, refused to apologize or remove her post, saying that she had meant no disrespect to Chinese culture and had worn the dress because she thought it was beautiful. If only more adults showed as much backbone in the face of unreasoning malice.

• “If your dress does not meet our formal dance dress requirements — no problem!” read the note attached to Divine Child High School’s modesty poncho. “We’ve got you covered — literally.” With prom just days away, the high school in Dearborn, Mich., had displayed the pink shawl-like “poncho” as an aide-mémoire for students to conform to the Catholic school’s rules. But, of course, controversy ensued. Radical feminists complained about the onset of a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia; talking heads tut-tutted; and a junior told the Detroit Free Press that it was “a very stressful time.” “To be clear,” principal Eric Haley wrote in a letter to parents, “the poncho will not be passed out at Prom. It was on display to proactively remind students of our dress code policies and eliminate any confusion prior to this special event.” But, Haley’s statement continued, “if necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years.” This cover-up is not a crime.

• When a rumor began to circulate that the Boy Scouts of America were changing their name, headquarters issued a stern press release to clarify matters. The organization’s name is and will remain Boy Scouts of America, but starting next year, it will include girls at all levels. The Cub Scouts, currently all boys, will become co-ed, with single-sex dens; the next level of scouting, currently called Boy Scouts, will change its name to Scouts BSA (the letters don’t stand for anything, and no suggestions, please) and will be co-ed, with single-sex troops; and for those who go on to scouting grad school, Explorers, Venturers, and Sea Scouts will continue to be co-ed, though sometimes single-sex. Got all that? To be sure, the Boy Scouts do a huge amount of invaluable work, and we suppose anything involving both gender and adolescence will be inherently confusing. We just wish that “Scouts BSA” didn’t sound so much like someone’s final project for the Corporate Branding Image Consultancy merit badge.

• Ichiro Suzuki debuted in Nippon Professional Baseball in the last year of the George H. W. Bush administration. Over 27 seasons — nine in NPB, 18 in Major League Baseball — Ichiro, the consummate leadoff hitter, has compiled a combined record that reads like a celebration of small ball in a long-ball era: He has stolen more bases than Joe Morgan, scored more runs than Willie Mays. He’s banged out more base hits than anyone. “I’m looking to get the ball in play,” he says. A student of the game, he has visited the graves of Wee Willie Keeler and George Sisler, Hall of Fame hitters after his own heart. Ichiro moved from the active roster of the Seattle Mariners to a front-office position earlier this month. The club did not use the word “retirement” in its official announcement. Next spring the Mariners will open in Tokyo. There Ichiro could return to the lineup briefly, capping his professional playing career by going home, like the successful baserunner he has been for longer than most active ballplayers have been alive.

• Seven months old, Alfie Evans was taken by his parents to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool in December 2016. There doctors diagnosed him with a rare neurodegenerative disorder and sought to withdraw life support. His parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, objected. While the dispute was being argued in court, they sought second and third medical opinions. Bambino Gesù, by some accounts the largest children’s hospital and pediatric research center in Europe, offered to treat Alfie, but the Liverpool hospital wouldn’t release him. British judges, backed up by the European Court of Human Rights, ruled in favor of the Liverpool doctors, citing Alfie’s “best interest,” an elastic term that medical and legal authorities invoked in logic-chopping exercises to overrule his parents and the Italian pediatricians into whose care they wished to place their son. The similarities with the Charlie Gard case in London last year were striking. Charlie’s parents have been working with doctors and lawyers in Britain to draft a much-needed reform of the relevant law. Alfie lived for five more days after doctors removed him from artificial ventilation on April 23. He died two weeks shy of his second birthday. R.I.P. 

• Gerald O’Reilly was a smart and likeable Brooklyn boy and Dodgers fan who was a sophomore at Notre Dame when World War II disrupted his life and those of millions of other young Americans. He enlisted and eventually found himself part of the Army’s elite 10th Mountain Division, tasked with the brutal job of removing entrenched German soldiers from the snowy and bloody cliffs of Italy’s Apennine range. Twice wounded in combat, he was cited for heroism and awarded the Bronze Star, which he accepted with humility. The war over, the veteran returned to South Bend, graduated, commenced a long and successful career in the Procter & Gamble universe, and fell in love with one Maureen Buckley, the sister of this journal’s founder, and herself a onetime editor. They married in 1958, and the happy couple had five young children when, in 1964, Maureen died suddenly. With God’s grace, and his own, the young widower prevailed. He remained a cheerful friend of National Review over the years, which were many: 95, to be precise. Surrounded by family, the happy warrior, father, grandfather, husband (he remarried in 1971, to Seton Lindsay), and business leader passed away. Gerry O’Reilly was indeed one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation. We pray he rests in peace: It is richly deserved.

• Sylvia Bloom, a daughter of immigrants, was born in Brooklyn in the early 1920s, attended night classes at Hunter College during World War II, and in 1947 took a job as a secretary at a law firm, which she held until 2014. When she died, earlier this year, friends and relatives were amazed to discover that she had left an estate of $9 million, accumulated through years of astute stock-market investment. Even Ms. Bloom’s husband, who died in 2002, seems not to have known of her fortune. She left the bulk of the estate to Hunter and the Henry Street Settlement, a New York community-services center, both of which help the immigrant families of today. A life well spent — and if it’s not too NR-ish to offer policy analysis in a memorial, we will point out that one reason she had so much disposable income to invest was that the rent of her Park Avenue apartment was fixed by law at a figure far below the market rate. Normally we are not fans of rent control, but in Sylvia Bloom’s case, even the wonkiest among us cannot complain about the results. Dead at 96. R.I.P.

 

MIDDLE EAST
Out of the Iran Deal

Donald Trump is pulling out of the Iran deal. This is to his great credit. Once again — leaving the Paris accords and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem also come to mind — the president has resisted pressure from the Europeans and the great and good in our country in order to make a decision in keeping with our interests.

The Iran deal is a travesty and a boon to the regime. In short, Iran entered into years-long negotiations with the West over whether it would have a nuclear program, during the course of which it developed a nuclear program. The deal allowed it to preserve a temporarily curtailed program in exchange for the shipment of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran and relief from Western sanctions that had begun to bite.

For the mullahs, it was the deal of the century. It was less a nonproliferation agreement than a deal to paper over its proliferation.

The economic benefits of the accord were predictably poured into Iran’s expansion around the region. Rather than a new era of peace, the deal has coincided with more widespread conflict in the Middle East, at the hands of Iranian forces and Tehran’s proxies.

The Iran deal takes no account of this activity, in exchange for what is, in the best case, a pause in the Iranian nuclear program. Since the West isn’t allowed to inspect military sites, it is entirely possible that Iran is flagrantly cheating on the deal. Even if it isn’t, the deal allows the Iranians to bide their time — mustering their economic strength, cementing commercial ties with Europe — until restrictions on its nuclear program begin to lapse in less than a decade.

The president is right to recoil from all of this. The challenge, as always, is to craft something better. Much will depend on whether Trump is willing to squeeze the Europeans with secondary sanctions that make them choose between us and the Iranians. And it makes no sense to rip up the deal if Trump isn’t willing to back a comprehensive anti-Iran strategy that means staying engaged in Syria and Iraq.

Perhaps a better deal can emerge under Trump’s prodding, but it is more likely that we will need to work to contain, deter, and pressure Iran on all fronts over the long term. At least Trump, unlike his predecessor, is willing to see the mullahs for what they are.

NR Editors — NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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U.S.

G-File Mailbag: The Results of a Bad Idea

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you just standing there eating Zarg nuts), I had a bad idea. It wasn’t a terrible idea, like asking a meth addict ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Collusion Scenario

It has become an article of faith in some quarters on the right -- well, most -- that the Mueller investigation has found no evidence of collusion with Russia and has accordingly shifted gears to process crimes like lying to the FBI or obstruction of justice. Having decided that this must be true, many have ... Read More
Politics & Policy

How Democrats Can Blow It in 2020

Donald Trump probably can’t win the 2020 presidential election, but the Democrats can lose it. What I mean is that in a contest between Trump and a generic Democrat, Trump would almost surely lose if the current political climate holds through 2020. According to a Fox News poll this week, 38 percent of ... Read More
Immigration

Democrats’ Border-Barrier Flip-Flop

Is steel more moral than concrete? House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said last week that she and other Democrats consider a border wall “immoral.” But some of the same Democrats who decry President Donald J. Trump’s proposed concrete wall as a 30-foot-tall human-rights violation actually ... Read More