National Review

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

She’s no Bette Davis, that’s fer darn-tootin’ shure. But as Kyle Smith made clear shortly after the California Senator was announced as Basement Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris packed her maiden Veep-picked speech with fibs. A curious sort, Kyle wondered how the MSM was covering the mendacity. He found the Fourth Estate ignored the forked-tongue display. Surprising? Nope. More on Harris below. But first, no lie, you must endure this . . .

Quoting the archetypal Old Man: “Don’t make me have to come over there and ask you . . .” Usually the threat ends with “to take out the garbage.” And maybe there’s something to that, with our 2020 Summer webathon. Fact is, there’s a ton of mounting cultural garbage that needs to be thrown out, and that’s precisely the difficult task that NR has taken on. Since Bill Buckley launched this rocket in November of 1955, we have been fixated with calling malarkey and baloney and other nasty things on the Left and its institutional indoctrinators (in the media, the academy, corporate America, and heck, even professional sports) and sweeping up what debris there is. It’s destination: History’s dustbin.

Sometimes the infamous dustbin has a Pandora’s Box quality to it. For example: Lenin’s enterprise may have gone kaput, but Marx’s didn’t, and it is back. (Of course, it never straight-lined in Red China, where Mao’s insatiable bloodlust has found 21st-century stylings with the high-tech Xi Politburo.) That’s why one of WFB’s top sidekicks, the great James Burnham (a major influence on Orwell), considered this to a “protracted conflict.”

Don’t make me have to come over there ask you . . . Drat! OK, we will ask: We need you — yes, you — to help underwrite this effort by making a donation, so will you please make one? Any amount of loose change, from $10 to $10,000, will do, and no matter the amount, your selflessness will be received here with deep appreciation. About “here”: You’re right to think NR is a magazine and a website. But it is more than that. It is a cause. Being a conservative one, we’ve known for decades how corporate America (“don’t you guys get advertising revenue?”) applies the “cooties” label to right-of-center undertakings.

Our readers are our recourse. And by recourse we mean friends and fellow combatants in this epic struggle. We few, we happy few . . . the “few” could stand to get a little bigger. Join it. This webathon of ours ends in 72 hours. Your support now means NR will stay in the thick of this battle for American Civilization and for the principles you cherish. Sustain our efforts please. Donate here.

Let’s Jolt!

Editorials

1. The sell is that Dem Veepstakes’ winner Kamala Harris is a “moderate.” We, moderately, are not buying. From the editorial:

Senator Harris is a moderate autocrat. During the Democratic primary debates, she vowed to ban so-called assault weapons by executive order. When Joe Biden pointed out that the president has no such power and is obliged to follow the Constitution, she laughed in his face. As attorney general in California, she abused her investigatory and prosecutorial powers to harass conservative-leaning policy groups and was part of an alliance of Democratic attorneys general that tried to make a crime out of “climate denial,” effectively seeking to criminalize dissent by pretending that it amounts to securities fraud, of all things. She seeks to incarcerate the parents of truant children, and in California worked overtime to uphold unjust convictions obtained through official misconduct and the fabrication of evidence.

Senator Harris is a moderate anti-Catholic bigot. Together with Senator Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), Harris argued that Brian Buescher, currently on the U.S. District Court for Nebraska, was unfit to serve on the bench because he is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic social-service organization — “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” as Harris and Hirono put it. Senator Harris demanded: “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” As though that were distinct from what the Catholic Church teaches at large.

Senator Harris is a moderate monopolist on health care, one who promises to abolish all existing health plans in favor of a single government-administered system. We are not sure what that is “moderate” in comparison to, inasmuch as it would create in the United States a statist system far more centralized and regimented than what is the case in Switzerland or Germany. We are squinting to see a definition of “moderate” in the American context that is “only slightly to the left of Norway.”

2. The Trump Administration has engineered a major peace breakthrough in the Middle East. It deserves high praise. From the editorial:

This is a historic accord, and the UAE is the third Arab state to consummate this normalization with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Crucially, the UAE is the first Gulf state to take the plunge, which is not surprising in light of the two countries’ unofficial years-long cooperation on a range of issues. It’s hard to imagine that the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed took this courageous step without first consulting the Saudis, who themselves have been predisposed to quietly work with Israel against Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region. With any luck, more dominoes will fall — Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia could follow.

The Trump team deserves praise for recognizing that the strategic environment was ripe for a deal. It took Trump’s unconventional strategy for Middle East peace, which Kushner heads, to bring the agreement to fruition.

For more than three years, the naysayers brayed that the Trump administration’s moves in the region would hinder the peace process and potentially lead to conflict. At every turn, they have been proven wrong.

3. We find the President’s executive orders on COVID relief to be abuses of his authority. From the editorial:

The constitutional issue these moves raise is the same one that Republicans rightly invoked against President Obama’s executive amnesties for illegal immigrants: Regardless of their policy merits, they were legislative acts that should not have been implemented without a joint decision by Congress and the president, in keeping with the constitutional structure. Even if there is a statutory basis for these acts, they are still an abuse. They warp the separation of powers to accomplish presidential goals, which is a violation of our system even if the president thinks Congress is being unreasonable — even if Congress is being unreasonable.

A deal on COVID relief measures remains necessary. Legislation — proper legislation — should provide for an extension of the heightened unemployment benefits but also for their gradual tapering off as the economy recovers. The legislation should at the same time undo the president’s abusive orders. Congress should for once bestir itself to defend its constitutional prerogatives.

4. We extend kudos to the President for his pushback against ChiCom exploitation of technology. From the editorial:

And on Thursday, the president laid the groundwork to follow through on his threat of a TikTok ban, unveiling two executive orders. The first bans anyone subject to U.S. jurisdiction from transacting with ByteDance and its subsidiaries after September 20. The second one does the same, but it applies to the Chinese messaging app WeChat and Tencent, its parent company.

Does the president actually have the power to force a TikTok spinoff? He does. In the recent past, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has ordered Chinese investors to divest from American companies (although Trump’s comments about making the parties to a TikTok acquisition deal pay the Treasury were ludicrous). There is also legal justification for potentially banning the apps under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act and a May 2019 executive order. In any case, it’s hard to imagine ByteDance and Tencent exposing themselves to discovery during future litigation.

The Trump administration has drawn criticism for undermining Internet freedom, but the true danger to such freedom would be to let these apps continue to operate unimpeded.

5. A GOP conspiracy theorist has won a House primary. We are troubled by the “QAnon” beliefs of Marjorie Taylor Greene. From the editorial:

QAnon achieved a break-through on Tuesday night. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been an avid promoter of the deranged and elaborate conspiracy theory, won a House GOP primary runoff election in Georgia.

There is no mistaking Greene’s deep interest in so-called Q. You can watch her delve into the details of the anonymous Internet author’s allegations in a 30-minute video on YouTube.

As Greene explains at length in the video, supposedly Q is a high-ranking government official who is posting messages that cryptically reveal how Robert Mueller and President Trump may be secretly working together to take out a “global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles” that includes prominent Democrats.

It’s not surprising that Greene would be drawn to Q, given that malicious stupidity is apparently one of her calling cards. Her complaints about an “Islamic invasion into our government” after the election of two Muslims to Congress in 2018, among other foolish musings, earned her rebukes from House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise as she advanced into the runoff.

An Ides-of-August Smorgasbord of Sumptuous Conservative Brain Food. Go Ahead: Heap High Your Plate!

1. Jonathan Ward presses for a Red China policy that centers on economic containment. From the piece:

If America’s pro-growth policies and private- and public-sector innovation can increase the gross domestic product to $30 trillion from $21 trillion over the next decade, we can expand the U.S. share of worldwide GDP — and develop a winning global strategy. But the key is simultaneously leading a robust economic containment strategy against China.

The Communist Party’s quest for dominance is built on the premise that China is destined to become the leading economy. Industrial strategies such as Made in China 2025 make clear that Beijing plans to dominate the most important 21st-century sectors and technologies from aerospace to artificial intelligence. Chinese programs such as Civil-Military Fusion mandate that its industrial and technological capabilities be converted into military power.

But these prongs of China’s economic offensive can still be blunted. Beijing knows that its ascendency depends on continued economic engagement with the United States and other leading industrial democracies. It relies on access to the world’s democracies as export markets, sources of capital, and harvesting grounds for cutting-edge technology that China is unable to produce.

A robust economic containment strategy that reduces China’s access to technology, capital, export markets, and the intellectual property of leading U.S. and multinational companies could make the decisive difference in this long-term competition. Time, however, is running out because this is the decade in which China could surpass America economically. The United States must act now.

2. Our old amigo Jibran Kahn goes after Sarah Jeong for having Red China’s back when it comes to putting Uyghurs into concentration camps, amidst other horrors Peking has dealt the ethnic group. From the piece:

Apparently, it will come as news to Jeong that the Uyghurs are the victims of an ongoing genocide. They are being shaved, blindfolded, and loaded into trains that take them far away from their homes to “reeducation camps.” Those who are not killed are tortured, raped, and brainwashed, the women among them forced into abortions and sterilized. The Uyghurs, who are Muslim, are made to chant denunciations of God and to loudly proclaim their commitment to Marxism, Maoism, and Xi Jinping Thought. They are also used as slave labor for local and foreign companies. The policy of the Chinese Communist Party is to extinguish them, once it’s gotten what use it can from them.

The Uyghurs are native to “East Turkestan,” called “Xinjiang” or “distant province” by the Chinese state. The Chinese Communist Party is importing Han Chinese men to the region and forcing Uyghur women, whose husbands have been taken away to the camps, to share beds with them. The Verge itself reported last year on the Party’s hacking of Windows, iOS, and Android to target Uyghurs, both in China and abroad. I know Uyghurs in America who for years have been unable to determine whether their parents are alive. The CCP cremates the bodies of those whom it kills, both to make the death count less clear and to inflict a form of psychological abuse on those who survive. (Muslims, like Jews, are required to bury their dead.)

3. Jimmy Quinn salutes the Trump administration’s ChiCom sanctions — they’ve got real bite. From the analysis:

The latest sanctions, announced July 31, apply to the XPCC and two officials associated with it: Peng Jiarui and Sun Jinlong. The move effectively blocks all of the XPCC’s activities and property at all tied up in the American financial system. The authority for the sanctions derives from the U.S. government’s previous designation of Chen Quanguo for human-rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act. Chen, who oversees the mass detention and political-reeducation program in Xinjiang, serves many roles in the messy, overlapping nexus of Chinese political institutions: First Political Commissar of the XPCC, Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang region, and a member of the Politburo. Here, the U.S. government has used his stewardship of the XPCC to target the organization, which plays a significant role in the repression of the Uighurs.

Nury Turkel, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom and a prominent Uighur-American lawyer, says that these latest sanctions are huge. “On behalf of the Commission, I welcome this decision,” he tells National Review, describing it as a “long overdue recognition of this menace.” He also notes that the paramilitary group is responsible for many of the mass-detention facilities and forced-labor camps in Xinjiang. And it was not lost on him that the sanctions came during Eid, the Islamic holiday, giving the predominantly Muslim Uighurs a significant reason to celebrate.

The XPCC — also called the Bingtuan, which is Chinese for “the corps” — is a long-standing part of the Chinese Communist Party-State’s efforts to pacify and develop the Xinjiang region for settlement by Han Chinese individuals. The history of the organization stretches back to the end of the Chinese civil war, when trapped nationalist troops were assigned to participate in regiments to defend and develop the Chinese frontier. They formed a crucial buffer in the 1960s, when General Secretary Mao Zedong feared an invasion by the Soviet Union.

4. Civilization’s veneer is thin. Victor Davis Hanson warns of the consequences when it is scraped away. From the essay:

Polls show that Americans by overwhelming numbers now believe that the media are hopelessly biased. NBC and other networks and cable outlets are laying off employees. The no-holds-barred arenas of the Internet and social media are replacing newspapers and televised news as sources of public information — not because they are more accurate or less biased, but because consumers can access their bias and inaccuracy at far cheaper prices. Woke journalists have bragged that they no longer need to be anachronistically disinterested in the age of Trump. So why pay a marquee reporter $200,000 when you can get a comparable flack to write the same stuff online for a tenth of the price?

The Sixties generation is going out as it came in: gross, loud, and cowardly, destroying the very institutions for others that it so selfishly consumed for its own benefit. If we wish to know why America’s veneer of civilization was so thin, and this year so easily scraped away, revealing barbarism beneath, look to a generation’s architects in the university, the media, sports, corporations, and politics who long ago seeded their cultural IEDs and are now giddy they are at last going off, though terrified that the ensuing blasts are reverberating ever closer to home.

5. Cameron Hilditch gives the Lincoln Project buffoons a lesson in Lincoln. From the essay:

There is, however, a danger that accompanies speaking about Lincoln in this register. We are liable to forget the thoroughly earthly dimensions of his sojourn among us. He was, for instance, a very skilled politician. His career is furthermore full of salutary lessons in the art of rough-and-tumble politics and practical persuasion that we are often blinded to by the light of his halo. The Lincoln Project, for example, a political action group attempting to unseat the current president and obliterate the Republican Party, has attempted to make the Great Emancipator’s moral credibility their own as they pursue their objectives. It’s clear, however, that they have only a passing acquaintance with their mascot. There are, in fact, few political actors in the United States whose approach to electoral politics is less Lincolnian than that of The Lincoln Project. The irony of this phenomenon is indicative of how little is actually known about our greatest son by the latter-day heirs to his Republic.

6. More Lincoln Project: Did ya hear it praised Joe Biden for being a “devout Catholic”? Alexandra DeSanctis prefers the truth. From the article:

On marriage, gender, and religious liberty, as on abortion, Biden has studiously moved to the left along with his party. As Barack Obama’s vice president, he joined the administration in coercing religious employers, including Catholic universities and an order of charitable Catholic nuns, to subsidize contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, which violate Church teaching on human sexuality and the dignity of the human person. In so doing, he disrespected not only the religious freedom of the groups involved but also some of Catholicism’s most fundamental teachings.

When the Supreme Court decided last month that the Trump administration had the authority to grant religious orders such as the Little Sisters of the Poor an exemption from that contraceptive mandate, Biden issued a statement promising to undo those exemptions if elected. He is so wedded to the progressive agenda, in other words, that he would authorize his administration to haul nuns who care for the elderly poor to court when they follow the precepts of the very faith he himself claims to embrace.

But these glaring contradictions have done little to stop the media, including self-identified Catholic outlets, from heaping adulation on Biden for his supposed dedication to Church teaching, most often in an attempt to draw a contrast between him and Trump.

7. Kamala One: David Harsanyi looks into her relentless pursuit of power. From the piece:

It was Harris who promised that if elected president, she would give Congress 100 days “to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action.” Where would Harris derive the power to ignore the Supreme Court and simply ban the import of certain guns — which she has promised to do — or even pass euphemistic “gun safety laws” without the consent of Congress? When Biden brought up this quandary, Harris answered, “I would just say, ‘Hey, Joe, instead of saying no we can’t, let’s say yes we can!’”

Harris isn’t joking. If Congress fails gets its act together on progressive environmental policy, the California senator promises that “as president of the United States, I am prepared to get rid of the filibuster to pass a Green New Deal.” What’s worse? That Harris believes she can get rid of the filibuster, or that she supports a policy that calls for the banning of all fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, and meat-eating, among many other nonsensical regulations, within the next decade?

In addition, Harris supports the partisan packing of the Supreme Court to circumvent constitutional oversight as well as religious tests for public office, once suggesting that now District Court judge Brian Buescher was unfit for office because he was a member of the charitable Knights of Columbus, “an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men.”

8. More Kamala, More Harsanyi: If she’s a “centrist,” it’s of the imaginary variety. From the analysis:

According to GovTrack, Harris’s record in the Senate, in fact, is more liberal than that of self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. Harris was, apparently, least likely of all Democratic senators to join in any bipartisan bills. Then again, we don’t really need a tracker to inform us that Harris has taken a host of positions that sit well outside the traditional political agendas — outside even traditional Democratic Party agendas. Is there a single issue in which Harris has not staked out a stance to the left of Barack Obama?

Now, obviously, everyone operates under the notion that the Democratic Party has a historical imperative to “evolve” leftward. Even considering this trajectory, there is no compelling case to be made that Harris is a “moderate” in either her political manner or her ideological disposition. As the National Review editors noted, Harris is at best a “moderate autocrat.” She is, by her own account, an anti-constitutionalist. Literally laughing at the Constitution as a restraint of political power is just the start. Setting aside her long record of investigatory and prosecutorial abuses in California — including against ideological opponents — Harris will likely be first candidate on a major presidential ticket to support gun confiscation and the creation of a gun registry. At one point, Harris promised to ban private health insurance. She supports ending all restrictions on state-funded abortion. She supports banning all fossil fuels within a decade. She supports the partisan packing of courts, in an effort to corrode checks and balances of American governance. And she has promised to pursue a number of these policies by circumventing the legislative branch if Congress doesn’t take orders from her.

9. Itxu Díaz mocks NASA’s political correctness. From the article:

Although the Eskimo Nebula is a terribly perverse nomenclature, the same galaxy NGC 2392 is also known as the Clownface Nebula. That does not seem to worry NASA. But it is certainly an outrage to clowns, to people who tell jokes, to those who like to wear colored wigs, to those with red noses, and to anyone who likes to wear oversized shoes.

The universe is full of horrible and clearly discriminatory places. The name Skull Nebula, in the Cetus constellation, clearly encourages murder and insults anyone with a skull. The Horsehead Nebula harasses people who have long necks. The Spirograph Nebula makes a mockery of all those people who have no idea what a Spirograph is. But there is more.

A few days ago, a NASA news bulletin celebrated the arrival of the Sturgeon Moon, so called because in the old days, fishermen managed to catch more sturgeon in August, when this lunar phenomenon is visible. According to my own research, this spectacle, which makes the space agency very happy, deeply saddens the sturgeons, who for years have lost their sons, mothers, and brothers in this wild month of marine massacres. NASA’s website also announces recent advances in research into black holes. It is indeed difficult to concentrate more racism in a single term than in this one. A black hole is something that captures and retains anything that comes close, a description that can only be interpreted in derogatory and clearly racial terms.

10. Alyssa Farah makes the case for reopening schools. Safely. From the analysis:

The Trump administration recognizes that many parents are concerned about sending their children back to school. These concerns, while understandable, must be weighed against two things: the facts about how the coronavirus affects children and the consequences of keeping children out of school this fall.

First, children are less likely to become sick than adults. We’ve known this for months. The CDC found that between February 12 and April 2 this year, only 1.7 percent of cases were in children under 18 years of age. The CDC also found that most COVID-19 cases in children were not severe. This does not mean that our nation’s leaders are not concerned for our nation’s children, but rather that we are confident as we reopen the country that we can safely reopen schools, in part because children are handling the outbreak better than adults.

Additionally, experts from inside and outside the government are very concerned about the dangers and drawbacks of keeping schools closed this fall. The American Association of Pediatrics, for instance, noted that lengthy time away from school makes it “difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.” An article in Psychology Today similarly noted that “empirical studies suggest that keeping children and adolescents less physically active and disrupting their routine activities have negative impacts on child and adolescent mental health and physical health.”

11. Shawn Regan and Tate Watkins laud the Trump Administration’s landowner-incentive approach to protecting endangered species. From the piece:

Last week, in response to a 2018 Supreme Court decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Services proposed a definition of habitat that seems long overdue. Despite criticism of the definition, it could reduce conflicts surrounding the far-reaching and controversial law and pave the way for more effective approaches to protecting endangered species.

The new definition would mandate that “critical habitat” for a species — more or less the areas “essential” to the species’s conservation — must actually be habitat for that species, by stipulating that only “areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species” are eligible for the designation. Until now, lacking a clear definition of habitat, the federal government could declare private lands “critical habitat” for an endangered species even if the species didn’t or couldn’t live on those lands. And once landowners’ property was so designated, they could be saddled with burdensome red tape and land-use restrictions.

That’s essentially what happened to Edward Poitevent when his family’s Louisiana property was declared critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog in 2011. The Fish and Wildlife Service made the designation even though there had been no documented sightings of the frog in the state for half a century and the land was no longer suitable for the species; it had been a dense commercial tree plantation for decades, and the frog needs an open-canopied landscape of longleaf pine to survive.

In its ruling in the resulting lawsuit, the Supreme Court offered up a grammar lesson: “According to the ordinary understanding of how adjectives work,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in a unanimous opinion, “‘critical habitat’ must also be ‘habitat.’” The Court sent the case back to a lower court, and now the Trump administration is seeking to define the term with that lesson in mind.

Critical-habitat designations on private land have long been controversial and counterproductive. They can burden landowners with restrictions on the way property can be used, and have the potential to decrease property values given the risk and regulatory uncertainty they bring with them. A study published this year by U.C. Berkeley economist Max Auffhammer and his colleagues found that critical-habitat designations in California decreased the value of vacant lands by up to 78 percent. In the dusky-gopher-frog case, the federal government acknowledged the designation could decrease the value of the Poitevents’ land by up to $34 million.

12. John Berlau tells the wonderful story of George Washington, Moses Seixas, and religious freedom once unknown to the world. From the essay:

Soon after Washington arrived in Newport in August 1790, Seixas presented him with a letter from the members of Congregation Jeshuat Israel. Accounts differ as to how Seixas delivered the letter. An entry on Founders Online, a digital repository of letters maintained by the National Archives and University of Virginia, speculates that “Seixas probably presented it to GW on the morning of 18 Aug. 1790 when the town and Christian clergy of Newport also delivered addresses to the president.” Yet articles in the authoritative Mount Vernon Digital Encyclopedia say Washington actually visited the synagogue during that trip.

What is undisputed, however, are the powerful messages of religious freedom and equality under the law from the Jewish congregation’s letter and Washington’s swift response. The letter dated August 17 states: “Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now (with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events) behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship.” The letter implicitly asks Washington to affirm that the views of the promise of the new nation held by Seixas and the congregation were correct.

Washington did indeed affirm this in a letter replying to the congregation dated one day later. And in that letter, Washington promised even more than the religious liberties the Jewish congregation had asked for: that Jews would be full citizens of the new republic. Echoing some of Seixas’s phrasing, Washington replied, “For happily the Government of the United States . . . gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Washington was quick to add, though, that the U.S. Constitution goes beyond mere religious toleration and explicitly grants religious freedom and full citizenship to people of every creed. “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights,” he wrote in the letter to the synagogue.

13. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn gets his jingo on about American cars (and, America). From the commentary:

The main point of all this is that Caddies are pretty cool, even if they don’t sell quite as well as BMWs and Mercedes. And there’s no reason to think other American premium brands couldn’t have similar success were they actually to commit to designing quality sedans. But they aren’t, so they’re missing an opportunity not only to connect to a diminishing but loyal base of luxury-sedan buyers but to secure themselves against the possibility that oil prices will rise to the point where it’s no longer logical to buy gas-guzzling SUVs.

There’s also the question of tariffs and general trade policy. I want to dissociate myself somewhat from others who might write an article such as this one to advocate for trade protectionism. Indeed, none of what I have written is a dog whistle for protectionists and mercantilists. Basic economic theory on the specialization of labor teaches that, if we have any desire for economic advancement, we should eschew restrictive trade policies and avoid tariffs on foreign products — especially on ones from free nations such as Germany and Japan, upon whom it is not a dangerous thing to rely. Nevertheless, Chris Havey, the affable manager of the dealership I visited, made a great point: When the EU puts a 10 percent tariff on U.S.-made automobiles, it makes sense for us Americans to consider responding in kind even if we would ideally wish for all nations to reject protectionism.

In any case, as American consumers, we surely have the right to make the aesthetic — perhaps irrational — decision to voluntarily purchase the fruits of American design, ingenuity, and labor, whether they be those of Cadillac, Tesla, or Chevy. Not that we need to be No. 1 at every little thing. We’re on top where it counts: at providing freedoms firmly protected by an ingenious Constitution, at attracting talented immigrants, at winning Nobel prizes and Olympic gold medals, and so much more. Still, why not see how far our exceptionalism can take us and use our consumer dollars to try to boost American sedans and SUVs, luxury and mass-produced alike, over their competitors? I mean, come on: a two-front victory over the Germans and Japanese is as American as apple pie.

Capital Matters . . . Plenty

Capital Matters editor Andrew Stuttaford and right hand Daniel Tenreiro co-author a wonderful, informative daily (Monday-through-Thursday) piece, akin to Big Jim Geraghty’s “Morning Jolt,” dubbed “The Capital Note.” Do get in the habit of reading it: You’ll find The Capital Note archives here. And then there is the weekly email missive, “The Capital Letter,” the serves up a feast of news and analysis. Do get it. Subscribe here. That said, here are four CM articles published in the last few days:

1. Benjamin Zycher makes the case for natural-gas investment, and slaps the polluted ideas of its environmental foes. From the analysis:

The “environmental-protection” rationale for that opposition to investment is silly, a reality demonstrated by only one observation: New energy-infrastructure investment by definition replaces older facilities and provides alternatives that are cleaner, environmentally safer, and less dangerous for workers and communities. The shutdown of older infrastructure without replacement incontrovertibly leads to a reduction in the stock of productive capital, a reduction in the supply of energy and the economic value of the natural-resource base, and less aggregate wealth. How a poorer society can protect environmental quality more effectively than a wealthier one has never been explained, except for the incoherent argument that the substitution of utterly inefficient, unreliable, and expensive “clean” (actually, very dirty) wind and solar electricity in place of fossil-fired power will effect that end.

In light of these realities, continued investment in infrastructure for the production and transport of conventional energy is an absolute necessity both economically and environmentally. That is why the ideological opposition to new pipeline investment is perverse, a central component of the larger political opposition to fossil fuels. Recent examples of this resistance include opposition to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, as well as the Atlantic Coast and Northeast Supply Enhancement gas pipelines. An environmental-safety comparison of alternative-transport systems — pipelines, railroads, and trucks — is complex, but there is substantial evidence that pipeline transport is safer under a broad range of conditions.

2. Andrew Stuttaford provides a must-read update of the Business Roundtable’s virtue-signaling — seems like most CEOs forgot to ask their boards. From the piece:

Last year the Business Roundtable issued a grand-sounding ‘Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’, which basically rejected the quaint idea that a company’s primary duty was to its owners (the shareholders) and replaced it with a commitment to ‘stakeholder capitalism’.

Stakeholder capitalism? In essence it’s an expression of corporatism, an idea with a distinctly mixed intellectual and political history, but which, very broadly, means that the running of the country is, to a greater or lesser extent, the business of large interest groups, all, of course, subordinated to the state, an organizing principle that leaves little room for the individual.

Turn to the ‘Statement’, which is signed by a large number of CEOs, quite a few of them prominent, and we find this:

While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.

A list of stakeholders then follows including customers, suppliers, employees, and “the communities in which we work.”

Good deeds too are promised, including, inevitably, embracing “sustainable practices across our businesses.”

Last on the list of those to be looked after are shareholders, although their role in providing “the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate” is acknowledged.  Thanks for the money!

3. Some Fed bankers are calling for a six-week lockdown. David Bahnsen is calling for Fed bankers to shut up. From the commentary:

But even if I am willing to understand their need for emergency liquidity measures, hundreds of billions of dollars of swap lines, trillions of dollars of bond-buying via quantitative easing, and all the other components of Fed interventions that have become commonplace in the new post-2008 experimental vision for central banking, there is at least one line I would like to draw:

Fed governors telling the American economy when it can and cannot be open around a viral pandemic.

Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, has hit the morning talk-show circuit to argue for a six-week nationally mandated lockdown of the most draconian variety. He has called for a “stringent and uniform lockdown in every state” and for the economy to stay on pause until this happens. He has stated that this “short-term pain” is necessary before we can reopen and called for a lockdown much more severe than the one imposed in March/April/May across the country. . . .

A common criticism of central bankers is the god-like complex that being in charge of the world’s money supply can create. The arrogance required to believe one can make judgment calls on the price of money that supersede other natural market indicators comes, perhaps, with the territory, but I would suggest that this territory should not extend to issues such as national health and pandemic mitigation. Kashkari may have co-written a major article in the New York Times describing the “stringent” measures he would like to see taken with an epidemiologist, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, but from Dr. Fauci to Dr. Birx to Dr. Gottlieb to the present leadership of the CDC and NIH, no public-health professional managing this crisis is calling for anything remotely close to what he and his co-author have advocated.

4. Marianne Wanamaker says the future is work has shown up early. It’s here. From the piece:

It is now clear that the Future of Work is here, having arrived in the form of a pandemic. The lowest-paid and lowest-skilled Americans have been displaced from work at heightened rates. A significant number will need to be retrained as the economy realigns. And while workers are at home awaiting a vaccine or other mitigation for the public-health disaster, employers are rapidly automating their tasks with robots that have evolved faster than anyone imagined. Robots don’t need child care, can’t catch COVID, won’t sue, and can even appear remarkably human. The order is backwards (supply shock sidelines workers and makes them costlier, then robots arrive), but the result is the same — except instead of a slow drip, the dam broke.

For many American workers, the pandemic has been a disaster. For public policy, it has been attention-focusing. Is there a congressperson in Washington who thinks labor-market policy is not the most important question on the table right now? Let’s hope not.

So let’s call the $600-per-week unemployment insurance (UI) debate what it is: a shadow debate over a national policy about income guarantees that will define the arguments for years. Conservatives have long argued that a universal basic income will have detrimental labor-supply effects. Why work when the returns to not working are so high? In Tennessee, where I live, a two-earner household earning $15 per hour each would earn roughly $60,000 in labor income over the course of a year, but earned nearly $90,000 in annualized income under the CARES Act.

To the surprise of American employers struggling to fill jobs, quantitative evidence published so far shows negligible labor-supply effects. But economists know, or should know, that these are highly unusual economic conditions. Whatever the labor-supply effects of our current generous UI system, they do not imply effects from UBI. For one thing, there are four times as many unemployed workers as available jobs; as the labor market recovers, the labor-supply effects may intensify. Moreover, any worker reluctance is not only about the generosity of UI, but also about health risks. Economists are documenting that the pace of exit from UI is not remarkably different across workers with high and low income-replacement rates from the UI system, and suggesting this means there is no labor-supply effect of generous UI. But if health concerns are driving decision-making, then the lack of a replacement-rate effect is not terribly surprising. And in the absence of a pandemic, the effect would likely reemerge.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White finds beaucoup that’s cliché and predictable in Summerland. From the beginning of the review:

Summerland, an indie love story about marginalized people, is a typical example of how movies employ cultural indoctrination. Though set in England’s past, first in 1975, then the 1940s and then back during World War I, every phase of writer-director Jessica Swale’s story uses contemporary methods of social conditioning.

The film’s characters are Millennial types: aloof feminist authoress Alice Lamm (Gemma Arterton); Frank (Lucas Bond), a biracial youth, survivor of London’s Blitz, separated from his parents and relocated to Kent where he’s entrusted to Alice’s care; and Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is Frank’s mother and Alice’s former lover. Each of these characters trigger politically correct sentiment, so this isn’t a “spoiler” as much as a simple statement of what we should by now expect from progressive filmmaking.

Swale, who was celebrated for her work in London theater (as author of 2015’s Olivier Award–winning play Nell Gwynne, which starred both Mbatha-Raw and Arterton in successive productions), makes her film directorial debut practicing all the fashionable conventions: female independence, gender parity, racial sensitivity. These issues are foremost in a narrative so awkwardly contrived that the characters’ behavior doesn’t make sense: Alice’s turning hermit; Frank’s total lack of class and racial awareness; Vera’s vacillating between homosexuality and the desire for motherhood don’t represent early 20th-century social norms. They are purely Millennial stock figures.

2. Kyle Smith finds Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle to be a dilly of a film. From the review:

His latest, the generally hilarious An American Pickle (debuting on HBO Max), starts out like a silly comedy about a Rip van Rogen who wakes up in 2019 Brooklyn after being preserved in pickle brine for 100 years. But it’s really about preserving Jewish heritage and respecting ancestors, especially those who are dead. An aggressively secular Jew, Rogen is starring in a startlingly forthright tale of Jewish pride. The movie is at first funny in a way that’s like a cross between Fiddler on the Roof and The Jerk, then more cuttingly political, and finally, in its third act, a bit sappy and beholden to a stale Hollywood formula from a generation ago, when high-concept, feel-good movies like this rang up big numbers at the box office. (This one was originally planned as a theatrical release.)

Rogen plays Herschel Greenbaum, a beleaguered ditch-digger in a Cossack-terrorized Eastern Europe who comes to Brooklyn, where the only job he can get is on the floor of a pickle factory in 1919. He falls in a vat of pickle brine and is perfectly preserved for 100 years, when he is discovered and guided to his only surviving relative, his great-grandson Ben Greenbaum, a hipster Brooklyn app developer who — what a coincidence! — is the same age Herschel was when he got pickled. That way Rogen gets to play both parts.

Herschel, whom Rogen plays with a thick shtetl accent and a bushy beard that is as common in today’s Williamsburg as it was in the Pale of Settlement, is politically incorrect, physically violent with those who dishonor his people, and outrageously reactionary. He’s hilarious and lovable and he completely dominates the picture, with Ben reduced to playing his flustered straight man. Picture a Jewish Archie Bunker, or a 135-year-old Ron Swanson, who keeps administering one rhetorical noogie after another to Ben, the kombucha-drinking Brooklyn normcore techie dipwad who says things like, “Let’s go to Smorgasburg, they have jackfruit nachos.” Ben invites Herschel to move in with him, thinking he’s going to introduce the old man to cool modern stuff. Instead, Herschel immediately adjusts to his surroundings and schools Ben about the importance of ancient values such as honor, family, faith, and loyalty.

3. More Kyle: He checks out an oldie, the 1974 assassination thriller, The Parallax View. From the review:

Only one film that I’m aware of really captured the feel of those beleaguered years, and it does so with breathtaking and unnerving skill. “Some nut,” says Warren Beatty in The Parallax View, “was always knocking off one of the best men in the country.” How did this keep happening? What if there was connective tissue that explained the age of assassination?

A flop at the time, director Alan J. Pakula’s creepy, unsettling conspiracy thriller (available on Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and several other streaming services) was overshadowed by three other films from the era that are far better remembered. Chinatown (released the following week in June of 1974 — summer movies were different then, eh?), a pastiche of Bogart detective movies livened up with lurid R-rated details, was the acclaimed noir thriller of the year. Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) approached the politics of the era satirically, and Pakula’s followup, All the President’s Men (1976). delivered a message that finally liberal good guys were right about a conspiracy theory, but they could uncover it and obtain punishment. Those three films combined for 24 Oscar nominations, which is 24 more than The Parallax View got. Yet it’s superior to all of them.

Unlike Chinatown, whose nudge-nudge channeling of pre-war shamus stories like The Maltese Falcon flattered the sorts of film buffs who are fascinated by movies about other movies, The Parallax View (written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Giler, from a novel by Loren Singer) is an original that lives completely in its chilling, baffling, conspiracy-minded moment, opening with a political assassination that evokes both Kennedy assassinations and the Warren Report, which declared only Lee Harvey Oswald responsible for John F. Kennedy’s murder. (Younger readers may not be aware of this, but for years liberals chided that report as a contemptible coverup of an obvious conspiracy. Woody Allen used to do a joke about reading “a nonfiction version of the Warren Report.” A penchant for conspiracy theorizing knows no party.)

4. More Armond: He invades the rap video WAP and finds “black and female self-abnegation.” As you can imagine, no prisoners are taken. From the review:

All those media hacks trumpeting “Kamala Makes History” got it wrong. Again. Seeing everything through a race-gender lens (the better to control the thinking of the masses) and categorizing routine actions as historic milestones, our media masters predictably missed the week’s real cultural event: WAP, the profane music video from Megan Thee Stallion (Megan Jovan Ruth Pete) and Cardi B (Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar).

WAP is a strip-bar extravaganza in which Megan and Cardi, today’s top-ranking rappers (both ex-strippers), explore a lavish Playboy Mansion–style estate landscaped with licentious, large-breasted, lactating statuary. Overly costumed like drag queens, they tip-toe through its cartoon corridors, T&A implants swaying like helium floats in a parade. They fake wide-eyed, Little Annie Fanny surprise — like peeping at the secret rooms of a brothel. Then, in further prurient fantasies, they imagine being brightly costumed factory workers doing industrial twerking and Kegel exercises. Colin Tilley, who also directed racialized fantasies for Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, and others, decorates WAP’s pastel whimsy with digital symbolic privates that recall Jean Cocteau surrealism and Baz Luhrmann garishness, both made salacious.

We’re a long way from Public Enemy’s “Revolutionary Generation,” with its proclamation of Mary McLeod Bethune’s insight: “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its women!” We’re also decades past LaBelle play-acting hookers in “Lady Marmalade.” WAP doubles down on the 2001 strip-club cover version to show us Megan and Cardi’s self-commodification. Rapping wickedly to the beat of Frank Ski’s 1993 “There’s Whores in This House” (an in-joke of the gay house-music genre), they trade energy and enterprise for licentious indolence: “I don’t cook / I don’t clean / But let me tell you how I got this ring.” They are joined by a bevy of apprentice harlots, including a Kardashian. These businesswomen are exhibitionists; they make no Kamala pretense of representing “the people.”

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Claremont Review of Books, Christopher Caldwell finds that America’s decades-long legal obsession with race is at the core of its madness. From the essay:

First, although it had been presented to the public as the solution to a decidedly local problem, there was nothing in the Civil Rights Act that confined its powers to Dixie or to Jim Crow. This was effectively a body of emergency law that existed alongside regular law, and could be used to end-run democracy whenever any question of minority rights piqued the conscience (or fired the ambition) of a bureaucrat or judge. Normal budgetary stuff still required an elaborate and sometimes difficult vote. But anything that involved liberalizing race or gender norms, anything that could be cast as a civil rights problem, could be dealt with without consulting the people.

The result, naturally, is that political activists sought to turn everything into a civil rights problem, in order that it might receive a fast-track enactment from their allies in the bureaucracy and on the bench. The entire governing culture of the United States came to be oriented around civil rights, the only topic on which the government spoke without ambiguity. The United States has become a race-focused and race-obsessed state — something it never previously had been in its history, not even at the height of the clash over slavery.

Second, while the Civil Rights Act succeeded in ending segregation, it did not fulfill the extravagant hopes and promises of Lyndon Johnson and others to end poverty, achieve equal outcomes, and so on. In the private sector, integration seemed not to budge. So courts prescribed ever-stiffer doses of the same medicine, with ever-more-severe constitutional side effects: The busing of schoolchildren for racial balance set sharp new limits on Americans’ rights to build and control their own community institutions. “Disparate impact” doctrine, arising out of Griggs v. Duke Power Co. in 1971, overturned neutral exams and anything else that could be shown to constitute a “headwind” for minorities. An employer, that is, no longer had to do anything racist to be punished as a racist in the courtroom. Affirmative action, with its elusive goal of “diversity,” passed Supreme Court muster in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978. Such decisions placed all corporations and universities under permanent suspicion of bad faith, making all of them legitimate targets of federal surveillance and micromanagement, which they could avoid only by devising quota systems under other names to favor their nonwhite employees over their white ones and their female over their male ones.

2. More CRB: The great Daniel J. Mahoney introduces a selection from the second volume of Between Two Millstones, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s memoir of his 1978-1994 “exile” in America. The selection recounts the great writer’s visit in London with Margaret Thatcher. From the introduction:

The last five paragraphs of the lecture succinctly, and movingly, express Solzhenitsyn’s credo in a balanced form that speaks to modern men and women, returning to his richly recurrent theme: “the primary key to our being or nonbeing resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil.” In doing so, Solzhenitsyn affirms human free will against every form of sociological and historical reductionism and determinism. He calls on moderns to “redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all.” And the Russian writer reminds his listeners (and readers) that human life ultimately consists “not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth.” It is folly for men and nations to spurn “the warm hand of God” — yet Solzhenitsyn never assails political liberty or solicits any privileges for the Christian religion.

A final observation. This excerpt ends with Solzhenitsyn’s vivid description of his conversation with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1983 trip to London, a statesman and world leader he much admired. Such a meeting with Ronald Reagan never occurred, for unsettling reasons described elsewhere in the book; but this did not undermine Solzhenitsyn’s fundamental admiration for Reagan. Upon the former president’s death, Solzhenitsyn wrote in the pages of National Review (June 28, 2004),

In July 1975, I concluded my remarks in the reception room of the U.S. Senate with these words: “Very soon, all too soon, your government will need not just extraordinary men– but men of greatness. Find them in your souls. Find them in your hearts. Find them in the breadth and depth of your homeland.” Five years later, I was overjoyed when just such a man came to the White House. May the soft earth be a cushion in his present rest.

3. Even more CRB: Our old NR colleague, Richard Samuelson, ponders if New York — named after the slave-trading Duke — merits renaming, along with the titles of leftist newspapers (The New York Times perchance?) that echo the nomenclature. From the piece:

That brings us back to New York. It pains the native New Yorker in me to say it, but if names have to keep up with the times, then, surely, the Times has to change its name. New York State, New York City, and the New York Times ought not to glorify James, Duke of York, notorious slave trader that he was. Do woke New York Times reporters really want to work at an institution named for such a man? Isn’t it a trigger just to walk into a building bearing that name? Apparently, New York City is finally going to remove the tiles in the Times Square subway station that may or may not represent a Confederate Flag. Surely it’s time the paper itself followed suit.

What might replace “New York”? One option for New York City would be to adopt the city’s nickname, “Gotham.” As Gotham is an old English term for the village of idiots (the English used to tell humorous stories about “the wise men of Gotham”) there’s a certain logic to that. But perhaps that’s beyond the pale. Why not turn to DeWitt Clinton, the man who truly made New York the “Empire State”? Clinton served as either the city’s mayor or the state’s governor for most of the quarter-century from 1803 to 1828.

Clinton’s vision and skill were crucial to completing the Erie Canal. By connecting New York City with Buffalo and the Great Lakes, it linked America’s East Coast with the Mississippi River. If one single thing made America’s large, republican union functional as a polity it was the Erie Canal. What’s more, it symbolizes what made the North stronger than the South. Thanks to Clinton’s work, slavery was responsible for only 5% (not the 50% some leftists claim) of U.S. economic activity. Clinton’s importance used to be more recognized: in the 19th century, his picture was on our currency (a $1,000 bill). His name is worth honoring again. So let New York State and City be re-christened “Clinton.” Then the New York Times would be known forever by the name it could have adopted during the 2016 presidential campaign: the Clinton Daily.

4. Maybe the time has come, writes Jonathan Leaf in Spectator USA, for Kamala Harris to pay reparations. From the piece:

What do Stokely Carmichael, Harry Belafonte, Colin Powell, Sidney Poitier and Busta Rhymes have in common? And how are Beyoncé, Ava DuVernay, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris alike?

None of the first set is descended from American slaves. All of the second are descended from slave-owners. Much of the media and the political establishment is pushing the idea of reparations for black Americans. But, as these lists show, it isn’t obvious who should get paid and who should pay.

Consider the case of Kamala Harris. Should her Indian mother pay reparations to her Jamaican father for his partial ancestry from slaves? Should she foot half the bill? Or should her father, whose ancestors also owned slaves, be taxed based on his degree of descent from slave-owners? Or should he, born a Jamaican, pay reparations to Native Americans, or take his reparations suit to the Spanish and British governments, as Jamaica was never American territory?

To determine my debt to Kamala Harris, will we first calculate her slave-owning ancestry and then subtract her enslaved ancestry? Should my assessment be based on the year when my ancestors arrived? None of my ancestors lived in America in 1861. Neither did her ancestors. Should I be asked to recompense Kamala Harris, the daughter of recent immigrants?

5. At Quillette, Professor Robert Frodeman recounts his Orwellian Title IX ordeal — faceless allegations, hostile administrators, career ruination. From the story:

In retrospect, there were warning signs of what was to come. A year before my troubles began, my department met to discuss the two new faculty positions we were filling. Our chair opened the meeting by announcing that “we will be in deep shit if we don’t hire two women.” In response, I pointed out that we all agreed on the goal: greater faculty diversity would attract students and contribute to our departmental life. But that shouldn’t be our sole criteria. For one, only 27 percent of new PhDs in philosophy were women, and many places wanted to hire them. If two candidates were close in our evaluation, I suggested, we ought to hire the woman or person of color. But our central goal should be to hire the best candidates.

The looks around the room made it clear that these remarks had not been well received. Other attempts to introduce divergent viewpoints into discussions drew a similar response. It was announced that an upcoming departmental workshop on feminism would only be open to female faculty and students. Was this desirable? I asked. Or even legal? Would it be acceptable to hold a workshop that was limited to men?

Inconvenient inquiries like these have traditionally been central to the philosopher’s trade. Questioning ought to be non-denominational, and I ask equally pointed questions in conversation with liberals and conservatives, theists and atheists. My colleagues, however, now viewed matters differently. A growing list of issues was no longer open to debate, and my questions stamped me as a defender of repudiated points of view.

The department was becoming a less congenial place. But professors largely operate on their own, and I had a sabbatical coming up. We met as a group on only a couple of occasions in the fall of 2017, and I would be out of town for nine months beginning in December. Perhaps things would be better by the fall of 2018.

6. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer loves him a mountain. From the piece:

When we arrived at Mount Rushmore this time, I had already fallen in love with the state of South Dakota, yet again. Being a native Kansan, South Dakota strikes me as Kansas, but on steroids. With a similar cultural makeup as well as similar landscapes, South Dakota is Kansas, but with extensive badlands and mountains! From the moment we entered the state — perhaps, America’s ideal republic — my family and I took it all in, loving it in our souls and hearts. As such, by the time we arrived in Rapid City and, then, Mount Rushmore, we were in a mood to be impressed and even overwhelmed.

We had also, as a family, prepared for our visit to South Dakota by re-watching Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece of suspense and false assumptions, North by Northwest, much of which takes place in Rapid City and on Mount Rushmore.

The day we visited, it was really cool, in terms of temperature, and there was a steady drizzle and sprinkling of rain throughout our explorations. Not enough to deter us, the precipitation did, it seems, prevent the vast crowds that normally make up a day at Mount Rushmore from forming. My best guess is that there was roughly 10% of the crowd that there had been back during my second visit, in 2010. Those who attended two weeks ago, we

7. At Commentary, Abe Greenwald condemns the self-delusions and warns that this is indeed a revolution. From the essay:

And yet, we seem to be treating the great unraveling as something less than a revolution. Apart from the boasts of the revolutionaries themselves, we are apt to hear characterizations of the moment as either “an opportunity for change” or, among those who are wary of it, a “fever” that will blow over in time. But what we are living through now is more consequential than any period of recent unrest, and it’s not just another leftist wave destined to roll on until it loses strength. Indeed, a revolution’s ultimate power comes from its being underestimated, tolerated, or accepted by those outside its ranks. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has adopted the language of the revolution, calling federal agents “stormtroopers.” For New York Representative Jerry Nadler, anarchist violence in Portland is but a “myth.” And the media’s abiding sympathy for the revolutionary cause has become mainstream journalism’s new North Star. The great unraveling has won the tacit approval of the press, influential policymakers, and a great many ordinary Americans. It is, therefore, already remaking the world.

We tend not to recognize the revolution for what it is — first of all because it seems to lack a proper paramilitary element. Popular notions of insurgency involve images of AK-47s, organized bands of armed men, and the general flavor of war. But in truth, the current revolution has drifted much further into this territory than the media care to admit. The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), the anarchist territory formerly established in Seattle, boasted a provisional armed “security” force. Weeks after CHAZ was dismantled, Seattle police responding to a riot uncovered a cache of weapons including explosives, bear spray, spike strips, and Tasers. Antifa members not only routinely dress in similar black garb but have come to rely on a crude but dangerous arsenal of improvised fire bombs, fireworks, rocks, bricks, and frozen water bottles. In New York, three rioters were arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails at police vehicles. Revolutionaries in cities around the country have shown up to “protests” with rifles and assorted arms.

The revolution lacks martial discipline but not a body count. Three weeks in, some 20 people had been killed during riots alone. The number has climbed steadily since. Within the brief life of Seattle’s CHAZ, there were four shootings and two deaths. You can add to these the hundreds dead (overwhelmingly African-American) in major cities due to new policing restrictions. And this is to say nothing of the multitude of nonfatal injuries, including hundreds suffered by law enforcement. Among these is the likely permanent blinding of three federal agents in Portland whose eyes were targeted with high-power lasers.

The cost of revolutionary violence in destroyed property and ruined livelihoods has been gargantuan, somewhere in the billions of dollars and climbing ever higher. And if you don’t think vandalism is a sufficiently revolutionary act, you’d do well to note that the term “vandalism” itself was coined during the French Revolution to describe the ruination of the country at the hands of the sans culottes.

8. At The College Fix, Sarah Imgrund reports on UConn spending taxpayer bucks to peddle self-hate snake oil. From the report:

The University of Connecticut is slated to pay “white fragility” scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 to lead a three-and-a-half-hour workshop this fall for administrators during their professional development retreat, according to a copy of the contract provided to The College Fix by the university.

The contract also states that the public university will reimburse the diversity consultant who argues that whites are inherently racist up to $2,000 in travel expenses.

“Systemic oppression has been a feature of our society since the first Europeans arrived on this continent, and this colonial legacy won’t disappear overnight,” stated President Thomas Katsouleas, Provost Carl Lejuez, and Chief Diversity Officer Frank Tuitt as they recently announced DiAngelo’s upcoming talk as part of a suite of racial justice initiatives to be launched at the university.

“We are committing ourselves to the hard work of listening, understanding, and working to make the changes needed to build the kind of society where the promises of equity and justice so foundational to our nation are finally shared by all,” they added.

The contract stipulates that DiAngelo “does not consent to having her presentation filmed, whether for archival purposes or later broadcast,” but it does allow for an unrecorded live-streaming to accommodate larger audiences.

9. At The Daily Signal, Jarrett Stepman looks at race virtue-signaling best sellers by Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi. From the analysis:

According to both DiAngelo and Kendi, there really are only two paths any person may take: racism or anti-racism. Being “not racist,” as Kendi writes, is not good enough, nor does it mean one isn’t a racist.

DiAngelo defines “white fragility,” the topic of her book, as a process whereby white people return to “our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy.”

“Though white fragility is triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement,” DiAngelo writes. “White fragility is not weakness per se. In fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage.”

Essentially, if a white person is uncomfortable talking about race or denies his fundamental whiteness, as well as his racism, he is guilty of white fragility.

In fact, according to the arguments of both DiAngelo and Kendi, even a denial of racism can be construed as evidence of racism.

As several other writers, including Mark Hemingway at The Federalist, have noted, this is what’s called a Kafka trap, a rhetorical device “where the more you deny something, the more it’s proof of your guilt.”

DiAngelo and Kendi promote a racial variation of common oppressor versus oppressed narratives, seen in many traditional left-wing ideologies. Marxist economic ideology revolving around class is more or less replaced by race in a scenario where there are only winners and losers.

10. At Gatestone Institute, Lawrence Franklin discerns Red China’s war preparations. From the piece:

Chinese military journalists are publicly urging the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to prepare immediately for an attack by U.S. forces in the South China Sea. One expert at Zhejiang University’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Shi Xiaoqin, claims that the U.S. is deliberately trying to provoke China. They also suggest the regime reinforce Chinese installations on reefs claimed by China.

If this analysis gains traction by Chinese political and military leaders, U.S. military commanders in the South China Sea should plan for the possibility that China might initiate hostilities in keeping with its doctrine of preemptive retaliation, a seeming attempt falsely to claim “self-defense.”

One writer suggests that the PLA should immediately move fighter aircraft to Chinese air bases in the Spratly Islands at Fiery Cross, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef. He also boldly claims that the augmented presence of U.S. naval and air assets in the South China Sea is no longer just a show of force by America.

Chen Hu, a Chinese military journalist, also asserts that the U.S. is now intent on provoking a conflict and is preparing for battle. Chen claims that the return of B1 bombers to Guam and continued deployment of two U.S. aircraft carrier groups in the South China Sea, despite the conclusion of military exercises, is supposedly a sign of Washington’s aggressive intent. Chen suggests that recent U.S. “Freedom of Navigation” maneuvers and the high number of U.S. surveillance collection missions along the Chinese coast is additional proof of American attack planning. Former PLA officer Wang Yunfei and naval equipment expert suggests that flights by American RC-135, E-8c, and RC-12X surveillance aircraft equate to “pre-battle strategic technical surveillance.” As the joke goes from the children’s playground: “It all started when he hit me back.”

A Dios

There is a mother, an acquaintance, a warrior in the battle for the unborn, whose two adopted teenage sons, on the same night last week, overdosed and died, the latest victims of America’s drug pandemic. The family’s sorrow is unfathomable. If you can spare prayers — for the boys’ souls and their peaceful repose, for divine comfort finding its way to those left behind (“Jesus wept.”) in staggering woe — please do. We ask such recalling, always, this truth: There but for the Grace of God go I.

May You and Yours Enjoy Blessings, Spiritual and of Liberty,

Jack Fowler, who will accept worthwhile questions wishing the mumbled-mouthed co-host of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast to ask of the Esteemed Professor, the program’s namesake, if sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

May We Borrow Your Teeth?

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

As Cole Porter wrote for Du Barry Was a Lady, friendship means being there through thick and thin, right and wrong, night and day. Yep, here I am when you’re in a jam, happy to complain when they put that bullet in your buh-rain, and no problemo, if you ever lose your teeth when you’re out to dine, borrow mine.

May we?

There is a National Review webathon occurring right now, and boy oh boy oh girl are we ever counting on your friendship. We are going full throttle, all cylinders clicking, the pedal is on the metal, guzzling the Five Hour Energy so we can fight, without pause, without relenting, this all-out Left assault on Western Civilization, our Founding, and our safety. Our effort seeks $250,000 — we’re just the other side of being halfway towards it, and only 9 days to go.

This week, Your Humble Correspondent penned an appeal seeking your support. Not only did it ask (nicely) for such, but it also offered something. Namely: Two classic Bill Buckley essays on Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to Red China. You will want to read and enjoy them.

So, please: Read the appeal. Find and read the essays. And as The Beatles sang, Help. Because this fight is also your fight, friend. Could you spare NR $10, $25, $50? Maybe $100 or $250? Word is you won Powerball — could you see fit to sending us $1,000? Do what you can, right here. Many thanks in advance, because we know you and your help and your teeth are on the way.

And so below is a mother load of conservative wisdom. What a Weekend Jolt awaits!

Editorials

1. What’s dumber than New York’s lawsuit against the NRA? As we search for an answer, read our condemnation. From the editorial:

The specific accusations of wrongdoing against NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre are that he spent NRA funds on himself and his family, setting up a front company in order to charge personal expenses to the NRA while camouflaging that fact from the organization and from the IRS. If that were found to be the case, then LaPierre would very likely be convicted of several crimes, both state and federal. But he has not even been charged with any crime at all.

Instead, New York State Attorney General Letitia James is only working to deliver on her campaign promise to ruin the NRA legally after decades of Democrats failing to beat the organization politically. This is part of a nationwide Democratic campaign: In San Francisco, they declared the NRA a “terrorist organization”; New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to use financial regulators to deprive the NRA of access to banking services and insurance, thereby ending its ability to engage in organized public advocacy; in Los Angeles, the city demanded that any NRA member doing business with the city identify himself, an attack on the First Amendment that was almost immediately shut down by a federal judge acknowledging the “overwhelming” evidence that the purpose of this was “to suppress the message of the NRA.”

If Wayne LaPierre or other NRA executives have committed a crime, then indict them and present the evidence in a criminal court. The attempt to legally dissolve the NRA instead is pure political score-settling, and an assault on the First Amendment, the rule of law, and democracy itself.

Your Fancy Is Begging to Be Tickled by this Double Septet of Examples Conservative Brilliance

1. Rich Lowry applies ruler to the knuckles of the teacher unions, which once again are placing kids last. From the piece:

Then, there are the teachers unions.

Their approach has been a diametrically opposed to that of the everyday heroes of America. Their first and last thought has been of their own interests. They have sought to limit their labor while still getting paid — at the ultimate cost of the education of kids who may never fully make up the gaps in their learning during their time away from the classroom.

Obviously, any gathering of people has its risks, and school districts should make every reasonable accommodation to the realities of the pandemic. There are many teachers who are better than their unions — or not members of a union at all — and some are truly at high risk from the virus. All of this is true enough, and yet the unions have represented institutional laziness and selfishness at a time of incredible strain for parents across the country.

The unions have a handy foil in President Trump, who has taken up the cause of school reopening with his usual deftness, which is to say none at all.

But it shouldn’t require wearing a MAGA hat to acknowledge the benefits of in-person instruction. And the experience of other advanced countries suggests it carries low risks.

2. Andrew McCarthy makes legal mincemeat of the Democrat canard that Candidate Trump received a “defensive briefing.” From the analysis:

That “defensive briefing” lie should now be put to rest, thanks to the recently declassified FBI report about the session. Yes, one big takeaway is that the FBI used the “briefing” as an investigative operation. But don’t miss the forest for the trees. Even on its own deceptive terms, the faux briefing was neither portrayed nor conducted by the FBI as defensive to warn the Trump campaign; it was a standard counterintelligence and security briefing for presidential candidates.

Claims to the contrary notwithstanding, Trump never got a defensive briefing. Common sense tells you why: Our intelligence agencies do not give defensive briefings to someone they consider the main suspect. The main suspect is deemed the agent of a foreign power against whom others need defending. You don’t warn the main suspect that you are trying to catch him; you investigate the main suspect to try to make the case. It is the people around the main suspect who need a warning, not the other way around.

I first encountered the gambit to depict the August 2016 session as a defensive briefing a couple of years ago, as a panelist on a Fox News program. Floated by one of the ubiquitous, self-described “Democratic strategists,” it seemed out of left field. I countered that this was wrong, that the session was a standard intelligence briefing given to presidential candidates. But there wasn’t enough time to explain the difference between that and a defensive briefing.

Given all that is now publicly known, the defensive-briefing claim should be so discredited that even partisan Democrats refrain from invoking it. But no. A little over a week ago, I was invited to discuss Russiagate on Martha MacCallum’s Fox News program. The format had me following Representative Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), a slippery partisan who put so much stock in the bogus Steele dossier that he has seamlessly become one of the last of the “collusion” dead-enders. When the question of why Trump’s campaign had not been given a defensive briefing came up, Swalwell insisted that it had gotten one.

3. Wasn’t the Left always telling us that guns were only safe in the hands of cops? That tune has changed, and John Lott considers what will happen when gun-rights are further restricted at a time when police departments are defunded. From the analysis:

After a concealed-carry-permit holder stopped a shooting last December at the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, Texas, Michael Bloomberg warned that it didn’t mean we should put our faith in civilians. “It may be true that someone in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people,” he said. “But it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.”

But months later, with the movement to defund police all the rage, gun-control activists now don’t trust police with guns. The Trace, a Bloomberg-funded outlet dedicated to gun-control advocacy, is probably at odds with police in part because officers are so overwhelmingly in favor of gun ownership. Just in the last month, it’s published articles with such headlines as, “An Arkansas Cop Said He’d Shoot at Protestors. Then He Killed a Fellow Cop,” and “The ‘Warrior Cop’ Is a Toxic Mentality. And a Lucrative Industry.” And it advocates for disarming police, claiming that American officers kill civilians at higher rates than those in countries where law enforcement is unarmed.

Meanwhile, Shannon Watts, the head of the Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action, has said simply that “police violence is gun violence.” She has Tweeted that “Not only are these heavily armed secret police [sent by Trump are] a threat to the safety of Black Americans, they’re likely a precursor to what the administration is planning to try and suppress the vote in Black and Latino communities in November.”

4. As November approaches, Victor Davis Hanson senses that things of consequence, unseen and unforeseen may occur, and that they may favor the incumbent president. If he lets them. From the piece:

Joe Biden masterfully has been able to conduct a teleprompted Zoom/Skype, virtual campaign from his basement, and an occasional press conference with a few preselected questions to toadyish reporters.

He assumes there will be no convention, no stump speech, no hostile interviews — and prays for no debates. Biden may pull all that off, depending on the course of the virus over the next 90 days — and his own polls. If in such scripted appearances he appears just occasionally confused, as during the abbreviated primary season, or slurs his words, or at times goes off topic, his health will probably be a major issue, but not a deciding one.

However, if by October Biden is campaigning in traditional style, giving impromptu interviews and emulating Trump’s ubiquity, then there are real chances of deer-in the-headlights pivotal moments of utter confusion that could be determinative — given that their ubiquity could not be covered up by the pro-Biden media.

The key here is to watch Trump polls. If they linger at 42–43 positive in the RealClearPolitics averages, then Biden remains a virtual candidate. If Trump nears the 45–48 favorable range, Biden will be forced to emerge, and that could become catastrophic. Remember, Trump can be edgy, controversial, and unpopular, but selecting Biden as the nominee was the most reckless move the Democrats have pulled off in a generation. As Churchill said of the one figure in World War I who governed the fate of the omnipotent British fleet, Admiral Jellicoe: “Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.” So too Biden is the only candidate who could lose his party everything in an hour or so.

5. Cameron Hilditch surveys the lockdown wreckage and discovers another epidemic has taken place — of domestic violence. From the piece:

Across the globe, women like Rahema have suffered at the hands of domestic abusers during this pandemic. In France, reported cases of domestic violence rose 30 percent from the time a lockdown was imposed March 17 to the beginning of April. Countries as varied as Argentina, Cyprus, and Singapore saw similarly significant increases in reports after imposing their own lockdowns. Where I live, in the U.K., 16 women and girls were killed in suspected domestic homicides during the first month of the lockdown in March, over three times the number who were killed during the same time span last year — and more have died in the months since. I was ashamed to discover while writing this piece that two of those women lived no more than a few miles away from me. Elizabeth Dobbin, age 82, was found dead in the home she shared with her 32-year-old grandson in Larne, Northern Ireland, on March 30. Emma Jane McParland, 39, was stabbed to death in her Belfast home on April 30, and her son has been charged with her murder. In spite of how close I live to where these ladies died, I didn’t hear about their murders when they happened, at the height of the lockdown. I imagine that their stories were buried under the daily body-count of COVID victims on the news, and that their bodies were buried in the presence of no more than ten people, each observing the proper social-distancing guidelines, of course.

The bottom line here is that the coronavirus has exacerbated certain (in some cases mutually reinforcing) social evils that are incidental to it and that will not vanish once a vaccine arrives. Domestic violence is one such evil, and the data we now possess on it should force us to recalibrate our pandemic-response efforts accordingly.

There are several areas of public concern related to the lockdowns that need to be reframed in light of the data on domestic violence. The first is school re-openings. Teachers are some of the most frequent reporters of child abuse in the country. Given the amount of daily contact they have with children, they are often the first to spot malnutrition, bruises, or other wounds, and social workers rely heavily on their testimony when evaluating whether or not a child is in a dangerous domestic situation. With the lockdown and suspension not only of schools, but of day-care centers, clubs, and sports teams, vulnerable children now have little, if any, contact with the members of their community who would otherwise be able to spot suspicious patterns of behavior. In late March, a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, reported six physical-abuse cases involving children in a single week; the usual number is about eight a month. The National Sexual Assault Hotline saw an increase in calls from children during March, the first month of lockdown, compared with February. And yet, statistics like these simply never come up in the debate over re-opening schools.

6. Dan McLaughlin profiles Rhode Island senator, conspiracy theorist, and rule-of-law scoundrel Sheldon Whitehouse. From the analysis:

Typically of people who traffic in this sort of paranoia, Whitehouse gets even uglier after a decision does not go his way. The legal saga of Michael Flynn has faced its own torturous history, with a panel of the D.C. Circuit ordering the dismissal of the case, followed by the en banc Circuit recently deciding to rehear that dismissal. There are serious reasons why the Justice Department was right to abandon the Flynn prosecution, and difficult questions about when courts can and should demand the continued enforcement of a guilty plea when the prosecution itself wants to drop it. But for Whitehouse, channeling Donald Trump’s “so-called judge” rhetoric, the only possible explanation for an adverse ruling is a dark conspiracy; thus, he tweeted, “‘Judge’ Rao delivers the coverup she was put on the court for,” and ranted about “how flagrant ‘Judge’ Rao’s decision is, covering up Flynn scandal.” “Where you see Neomi Rao,” tweeted Whitehouse, “you can expect a lot of Trumpy dirt to follow. She’s a cartoon of a fake judge.”

Neomi Rao is, of course, the daughter of Indian immigrants and a Senate-confirmed federal-appeals judge with a stellar resume: graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago Law School, on the law review, Supreme Court clerk, white-shoe law firm, law professor, co-chair of an American Bar Association committee. But to Whitehouse, a single ruling he doesn’t like means “Judge” goes in scare quotes. Whitehouse’s particular crusade to smear Reo is longstanding. In another case, he tweeted that she was a “@FedSoc stooge . . . This is why Trump is packing the courts with political hacks. If there were more on this panel, they’d have covered up for him.”

During her confirmation hearings, Whitehouse launched an intemperate and false attack on an academic research center Reo founded, claiming that it was bankrolled, bought and paid for by his favorite Emmanuel Goldsteins: the Koch brothers and the Federalist Society.

7. Peter Jaworski and Samuel Hammond report that the miscreant hacks at WHO have also created a global blood-plasma shortage. From the piece:

Unfortunately, this is par for the course for the WHO. Take its stance on blood donation. Since adopting World Health Assembly Resolution 28.72 back in 1975, the WHO has consistently opposed compensation for blood and blood-plasma donors, pushing member countries to adopt its preferred model of “100 percent voluntary, non-remunerated” donation.

This model is rooted in the belief that paying donors will attract volunteers with risky lifestyles, resulting in less-safe blood and plasma. That may have been true in the 1970s and ’80s, and the safety of blood and plasma used for transfusions remains a complex issue to this day. But advancements in testing and other technologies have made the safety of paying donors a non-issue in the case of plasma used for plasma therapies. Thanks to advanced viral screening, removal, and inactivation techniques, every national health authority recognizes that plasma therapies derived from paid donations result in medicines that are just as safe and effective as those made from unpaid plasma donations.

Yet the WHO’s stance remains unchanged, and it has contributed to a global supply shortage that forces countries to import their blood plasma from the small number of countries who follow a paid model and thus have a surplus supply. The result has been a growing and unsustainable global reliance on the U.S. for plasma. Over 70 percent of the world’s supply of plasma, which is used to manufacture plasma-derived medicinal therapies such as immunoglobulin, albumin, and clotting factor, comes from the veins of paid American donors. Add in the other countries where donors can be paid — Germany, Austria, Czechia, and Hungary — and what you’re left with is five countries responsible for 90 percent of the global plasma supply.

8. Luther Abel is in on the scene, where he queries Portland mom Joanna as to why she is leaving the Oregon nuthouse. From the interview:

Abel: What would you say your occupation is?

Joanna: I’ve been a stay at home mom for years. My husband traveled for work 75 percent of the time, until the lockdowns from COVID. So I’ve been very involved with my children’s education. I moved them from the public elementary school to a local Catholic school in the neighborhood, for many of the reasons I was just describing.

Abel: What exactly made you switch?

Joanna: I was involved with the PTA program at the local public school when my daughter attended kindergarten and first grade and my son was in preschool. During the PTA meetings, there was constant debate and struggles with how best to spend our limited budget dollars. And we knew based on budget cuts to Portland Public Schools, that we were going to face teacher shortages, larger class sizes, and a reduction of certain elective classes like art and music. And in the midst of that, I was always trying to say, “Why don’t we find ways to use the money to benefit all students? let’s do things that are academically focused.” I always used the SMART reading program as a perfect example of an academic program that impacts all students at all levels across all grades. Academic integrity, to me, was what the school should be focused on; but, there was always a very vocal minority among the parents who were very adamant about “equity awareness” issues — things that would help support the minority student population. Compared to a lot of the other schools [we have] a higher percentage of African-American students there; and at the middle-school level, they really wanted to focus on a particular elective, a highly regarded African drumming class from a talented musician who was well respected in the community, but it was very expensive and it took a lot of dollars away to selectively impact very few. It wasn’t academic related. Every time I tried to object or provide redirection, it was viewed as insensitive or I wasn’t aware of the problem. This escalated to the point where they offered white ally trainings so that white parents could understand and learn their white privilege.

9. More Luther: He reports from the Portland Madness. From the story:

The second night I covered the ongoing Portland protests (you can read about the first night here), I decided to arrive at the hour when I had departed the night before: about 30 minutes past midnight. The crowd was significantly larger now compared with its size 24 hours before but also more dispersed. After protesters started a small fire with cardboard boxes and other random trash, people began to coalesce. The night before, I had focused on individual protesters, trying to grasp their rationale; the second night, I focused on the physical attacks on structures around Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. Three events made me reconsider my view of the protesters, especially those who are still in the streets at 2 a.m.

The first event was the tearing of plywood from the exterior of a kids’-entertainment business, Uncharted Realities, across the street from Lownsdale Square. In the video below you can hear and then see two individuals rend a sheet and a half of plywood from the face of the building and carry their acquisitions — like triumphant Viking raiders returning with pillage — approximately 100  yards, to the street in front of the federal courthouse. After the plywood is removed, one individual tries to enter the building but fails and gives up quickly. The protesters then strive to break a plywood board in half, with limited success; they finally prop it up, allowing them to apply more force and reduce the board to burnable sections, which they used to keep the street fire fueled.

10. Kyle Smith dials 911 on the Mayor de Blasio-manufactured policing crisis in New York City. From the piece:

The tangible effects of de Blasio’s approach are everywhere. De Blasio has a vision for the city, and the cops are determined to let it be realized. At Broadway and 40th Street, junkies are shooting up in plain sight, in daytime. (Around the corner from where Rent used to dazzle Giuliani-era tourists by painting a picture of shambolic life in pre-Giuliani New York). The police shrug. In a protest at City Hall park, one activist smacked a New York Post reporter in the face with a two-by-four in view of police, and the police initially yawned, making an arrest only after the Post ran a story about the matter. Compared with last year, homicides are up 24 percent, burglary is up 46 percent, and shootings are up a breathtaking 69 percent. New Yorkers sense the city, already reeling from the virus and the economic effects of the lockdown, is sinking into lawlessness. De Blasio’s answer has been not to make amends with the police but to send crime counselors out into the street to advise people not to do bad things. Step forward, “violence interrupters.” I’m sure such “community groups” will talk the thugs out of shooting babies in their strollers.

With police already jumpy about getting engulfed by angry mobs, Molotov-cocktail attacks, and having their vehicles set on fire in even the toniest neighborhoods, they see de Blasio’s policy actions and public comments as gratuitous insults. Police unions have been buying full-page ads in the Post blasting de Blasio’s disastrous leadership, and one such union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, has taken to ripping de Blasio in social media. Cops are lining up to hand in their retirement papers.

11. Therese Shaheen sheds light on the real “Two Chinas,” where a de facto caste system is very much in place. From the article:

For in truth, on the mainland today, there are two Chinas. There is the China of densely populated, modern urban centers such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing, and there is the China of everywhere else. The China of everywhere else is dollars-a-day poor, uneducated, and aging. It is also vast, containing some 600–700 million people, or about half of the total Chinese population.

The two Chinas are the direct result of government policy — and the source of a structural weakness that cannot be remedied as things stand now. The country’s internal-passport, or hukou system, requires families to register in their region of origin and entitles them only to the social, education, and economic benefits allocated to that region by the government. It extends back centuries but was enshrined as a tool of economic and social control under Mao Zedong. Designed to limit economic mobility and tilt economic benefits toward the urban elite, it has created a kind of caste system, an unbridgeable gulf between China’s wealthy city-dwellers and its rural poor.

CCP general secretary Xi Jinping is seen as an advocate for reform of the system, but his motives are not altruistic. He knows that the existence of the two Chinas has created the conditions for social unrest, as employment and income in the countryside decrease while the social safety net frays. He also knows that the import-substitution model of economic development that China has followed must eventually end if national income is to rise further. The continued prosperity of Chinese cities depends on low-cost labor, and the country has plenty of that; it’s just in the wrong places.

12. China Con’d: Jimmy Quinn is ringside for the Trump versus TikTok fight. From the piece:

For this reason, the talk of a ban made sense, if Trump’s comments Monday about making a Treasury payment for an acquisition deal sounded unserious. Thanks to a combination of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and a May 2019 executive order, the president has the necessary powers to enact such a measure, essentially forcing TikTok off Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. (He could also do this by ordering the Commerce Department to place TikTok on the Entity List, a government blacklist.) A ban could get messy, though, because the app would still remain on the phones of the 100 million Americans who already have downloaded it. Short of a U.S. government move to block Americans from connecting to the app — a drastic measure that appears not to be under consideration here — it would be at an impasse. However, Robert Chesney suggests in an analysis for Lawfare that a ban might convince creators to leave the platform, taking their audiences with them.

But such a move could still come with the potential political cost of antagonizing TikTok’s Gen Z users, many of whom are conservative. This was not lost on the Trump administration, which eventually allowed Microsoft to proceed with its negotiations to acquire TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. TikTok’s acquisition by an American company would be a victory for the Trump administration, but not just any deal will suffice. To eliminate the security risk, an agreement would need to result in all of TikTok’s operations being brought to the United States. As of now, the company’s software engineers are based in China, and ByteDance is responsible for all software decisions. Disrupting the CCP’s ability to influence the platform requires rebuilding these operations in the United States, where the app can be carefully audited. This would be a tall order — but a company with Microsoft’s resources might be up to the task.

13. Armond White mocks Beyoncé, cultural absolute monarch, and her new Disney production, Black Is King. From the review:

Now, Beyoncé encounters no cultural resistance; like her peers LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, the singer-dancer-songwriter-actress simply follows fads — the “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Girl Magic” fads — without any historical or political foundation. These uninformed “influencers” display a simpleton’s version of ethnic pride, epitomized by Beyoncé’s going full “African” in extravagant costumes, makeup, ethnographic photography, and drumbeats. It’s the same narcissistic excess and contrivance that Robert Downey Jr. warned against in Tropic Thunder when actors go “full retard.”

In Beyoncé’s Black Is King fantasy, all black people — and all Africa — are the same. It’s as if she recognizes no distinction among Ilhan Omar, Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, Miriam Makeba, Chinua Achebe, Ousmane Sembene, Haile Selassie, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Brenda Fassie, Nelson Mandela, Iman, John Kani, let alone Patrice Lumumba, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, or King Sunny Ade, or particular ideas her ancestors represented.

Black Is King’s assorted daydreams, designs, ethnicities, cosmologies, and polyglot nostrums (“Lost languages flow out of our mouths”) are sold as “a visual album.” It follows the coffee-table-book graphic appropriations of the music video genre’s peak achievements — stealing shamelessly from Hype Williams and Mark Romanek — only to illustrate how disoriented, misguided, and commercialized black identity has become. Black Is King’s faux-politics spring from Beyoncé’s agency (“agency” being a euphemism for “privilege”), yet it is insulting because Beyoncé uses the Disney cartoon The Lion King as the primal, biblical source of her pretend race consciousness.

14. Clang Clang Clang went the Dali: Brian Allen visits the Saint Louis Art Museum. It wows him. From the piece:

A hundred and one years later, the city was a metropolis, so much so that it hosted the 1904 World’s Fair, nominally in honor of the Louisiana Purchase’s centennial, and later sired the movie-musical Meet Me in Saint Louis, itself a claim to fame. This week, I’ll profile the museum, a jewel in America’s string of encyclopedic civic art galleries. Set outside Chicago, New York, and the nation’s capital, they’re icons of local pride and holders of the finest in world art. St. Louis Art Museum — it goes by SLAM, which is hip, so I tend not to like it — is a center for scholarship, too. Next week, I’ll review its solid show on Jean-Francois Millet.

I spent most of the day at the museum, which reopened with dispatch in mid-June. It’s new hygiene protocols are reasonable, easy to design and implement, and unobtrusive. For many reasons, service to the public is in St. Louis’s bones, so I’m not surprised it opened as soon as it could. In a normal year, the museum gets around 600,000 visitors. It was happily populated with art lovers when I was there.

I saw beauty after beauty, but for the subtlest cinematic magic nothing beats its Liu Cai silk scroll Fish Swimming and Falling Flowers, from around the late eleventh century. Liu is the Giotto of Chinese scroll painting. Running about eight feet, the rare colored ink scroll depicts pink flower petals drifting onto a transparent pool in which a cornucopia of fish swim. It’s both ethereal and documentary, with the precision of, let’s say, Audubon but the refinement and delicacy of angels. It’s the star of a fine collection of Asian art.

Capital Matters

1. Kevin Hassett has five questions for Trump trade honcho Peter Navarro. From the quintet, here’s one:

Have you accomplished as much as you hoped on trade? What does the agenda look like going forward?

President Trump promised during the 2016 campaign to renegotiate bad trade deals and put a big check in that box with a revamped South Korean pact and a swap of Joe Biden’s NAFTA for Donald Trump’s USMCA. We also have a Phase One deal with the CCP that addresses some of the seven deadly (structural) sins of CCP predation.

The Trump team thought we had a full and comprehensive deal with the CCP’s trade negotiators in May of 2019 — but the CCP reneged on it. Clearly, there is much more work to be done in the second term to end the CCP’s economic aggression. In the meantime, we fully expect the CCP to fully honor the terms of Phase One.

The broader mission of the Trump administration is to continue bringing our supply chains and production home, particularly for critical areas like Essential Medicines. If we have learned anything from this China virus pandemic, it is that the U.S. is dangerously dependent on the world for its medicines, medical supplies like masks and gowns, and medical equipment like ventilators. On August 6, 2020, President Trump signed a sweeping executive order to bring the production of our Essential Medicines back onshore.

When thinking about the American imperative to bring home our supply chains for critical sectors of our economy, classically trained economists must be much more mindful of the negative national-security, geopolitical, and exogenous shock externalities associated with global supply chains and build them into their models.

The world has changed. Our profession must do a better job of anticipating such change.

2. Sami Karim finds the goldbugs are happy. And probably rich too. From the analysis:

After a long decline in the 1980s and 1990s, gold began its rehabilitation on the eve of the new millennium. Had Swanson caught the gold bug in July 1999, when gold made a historic bottom at $252.8, he would have gained 677 percent from his investment, a performance that towers over the major stock indices.

Entire careers have been made in the stock market over that 21-year span, with billions of dollars flowing into the pockets of bankers and investment managers, and into their six-figure cars, seven-figure Hampton homes, and eight-figure private jets.

Yet none of these financiers’ portfolios has measured up to gold. The dumb barbaric yellow relic has trounced all of them over nearly every interval since 1999, as can be seen in the table above. The one exception to this public thrashing is the ten-year period since 2010 in which gold has underperformed only because it spiked in 2010-11, much as it is currently.

3. Mathis Bitton warns that the West must unite to offset Red China’s economic tyranny. From the commentary:

As long as distrust and animosity permeate Sino–American relations, a spiral of escalation appears inevitable. The two countries have fought over human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, over trade and tariffs, over 5G technology, over the impact of TikTok, over the Taiwan Strait, over the South China Sea, and over the Persian Gulf. From territorial disputes to economic rivalry, a multitude of tensions have set the stage for a wider conflict between the two superpowers. These clashing interests could well become the foundations of a new Cold War.

Worse still, the formation of geopolitical blocs is well underway. At the United Nations Humans Rights Council in Geneva, 53 countries — most of which were African or Middle-Eastern — signed a statement in support of China’s “security” law. The only nations to stand against it were the U.S., a few EU member-states, the U.K., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. In other words, everyone but a handful of democracies stood ready to support anti-liberal, repressive measures designed to crush peaceful and legitimate protests against Beijing. While we need not read these new political alignments as what Samuel Huntington called a “clash of civilizations,” this alarming state of affairs should make us wary of a growing opposition between, as historian Niall Ferguson put it, “the West and the rest.”

Where countries such as the U.K. have proven willing to join America’s efforts by banning Chinese 5G or offering refugee status to Hong Kong protesters, most non-European nation-states seem increasingly eager to allow — if not support — President Xi’s belligerent foreign policy. While their passivity need not mean that they applaud the CCP’s actions with enthusiasm, it may point to China’s growing economic influence — for instance, since China has invested billions in Africa, states whose survival depends upon Chinese investments are unlikely to challenge Xi Jinping’s geopolitical decisions. In fact, the CCP has shown itself capable of wielding its considerable economic power as an instrument of coercion. After threatening to impose disproportionate tariffs upon the EU if member-states refused to let Huawei control their 5G infrastructure, China cut off imports of beef from Australia because its government asked international institutions to investigate the origins of COVID-19 — thereby depriving Australians of a major source of export revenues.

4. Kevin Brady ties the Stimulus to achieving independence from Red China’s grip on the medical industry. From the piece:

However, Congress needs to include two more key elements to restore a strong, post-COVID economy that expands paychecks and increases the number of U.S. jobs: First, we must make America medically independent from China. Second, we must use pro-growth policies that will foster real prosperity beyond just getting through the next few months.

During this crisis, we have learned about America’s vulnerability to China when it comes to crucial medicines, medical supplies, ingredients, and technology. Yet Congress, despite spending trillions to deal with the fallout from that vulnerability, has not acted on this cruel COVID lesson.

Working with House Republicans, the Ways and Means Committee GOP have developed and introduced legislation to make America medically independent from China. Our approach establishes resilient supply chains anchored in the U.S. and running through reliable trading partners.

These bills include aggressive, smart tax incentives to on-shore the research and manufacturing of crucial medicines, medical supplies, ingredients, and technology. We offer new tax incentives for developing more infectious-disease drugs while cutting the corporate tax rate in half for advanced manufacturing done here in the U.S.

5. Kevin Williamson makes the case for a federal COVID-liability shield. From the article:

The coronavirus epidemic is an extraordinary event that requires an extraordinary legislative response. But the workaday problem of excessive and abusive litigation, especially against businesses, has been around since long before the coronavirus, and almost certainly will still be a problem when we have put this ghastly epidemic behind us. This is a fight worth having, and the reformers have not yet begun to fight — at least, they have not pressed the fight to anywhere near the point they must. There has been some encouraging action, notably in Louisiana. There is room for much more.

Tort reform presents a classic case of concentrated benefits vs. dispersed costs. The lawyers who get rich by suing businesses — in response to legitimate abuses or for purely mercenary harassment — have fought reform tooth and talon, and they can be counted on to continue doing so. Business leaders understand the issue from the other side, though it does not land on them with great weight until they find themselves in the crosshairs. Most of the real cost is borne by third parties, meaning consumers, meaning you and me. We pay more for food and medicine, for housing, for everything that moves in a truck, for everything that requires labor — for everything, effectively — in order to enable the nation’s trial lawyers to make the payments on their G550s.

I do not mean to suggest that the trial bar is purely parasitic. Individuals and institutions sometimes damage the well-being of others in a way that violates the law, and the trial bar, when it is functioning as it should, works as a kind of supplementary regulatory apparatus. There are even some kinds of lawsuits that we do not have enough of, notably libel and lawsuits against the likes of the Washington Post and Joy Reid. But the loosey-goosey norms of American tort action create powerful incentives for irresponsible and opportunistic litigation, which can impose very high costs, e.g. contributing to the high cost of doctors’ fees by making malpractice insurance radically more expensive than it needs to be. Texas has made some progress on that front, with the predictable result of the Texas Medical Board licensing a record number of new physicians in the years after the reforms were implemented. Fewer lawsuits means lower insurance costs means more doctors and more competition.

NR’s New Issue Takes on History’s Poster Bigot of the Left

The August 24, 2020 issue of National Review is out, awaiting your eyeballs. All of it can be read if you have an NRPLUS subscription. (You don’t? Fix that now by subscribing here.) As ever, there is much wisdom and conservative honesty found on every page between the covers, and as is our custom, we share a sampling of such:

1. Kevin Williamson’s cover essay takes on Karl Marx, enduring in nasty consequence (per the subtitle: “Man of letters, Jew-hating bigot, patron saint of Black Lives Matter”). From the essay:

Our contemporary Marxists are not as embarrassed by Marx’s racism and anti-Semitism as they should be — or, indeed, even as embarrassed as some of Marx’s contemporaries were. In an 1890 letter, Friedrich Engels chastised his collaborator for his obsessive Jew-hatred, reminding him that “anti-Semitism betokens a retarded culture, which is why it is found only in Prussia and Austria, and in Russia too. Anyone dabbling in anti-Semitism, either in England or in America, would simply be ridiculed.”

Marx was not unique in being an anti-Semite of Jewish origin or in leaning on ethnic stereotypes (e.g., he spoke of “lazy Mexicans” who would benefit by being politically dominated by the United States). He can be found abusing his rivals with ethnic slurs, sometimes practically rococo in their ornamentation. (His letter to Engels denouncing “Der jüdische N*****” Ferdinand Lassalle, which includes spiteful racial speculations about the man’s ancestry, is the most infamous example.) But Judaism was hardly an afterthought to the father of socialism. It is notable that one of Marx’s first high-profile contributions to intellectual life was “On the Jewish Question,” which is full of anti-Jewish invective: “What is the worldly cult of the Jew? Huckstering. . . . The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew.” It traffics in familiar anti-Semitic canards, including the claim that the Jews who were being persecuted in Europe in Marx’s time were secretly dominating public affairs through their financial power: “The contradiction which exists between the effective political power of the Jew and his political rights is the contradiction between politics and the power of money,” Marx writes.

(Engels again offers a corrective, writing to Marx: “In North America not a single Jewis to be found among the millionaires.”)

2. Andrew McCarthy, who knows a thing or two about the Department of Justice, analyzes the performance of AG Bill Barr. From the article:

When it comes to the Justice Department, Barr is an institutionalist — and coming from this former federal prosecutor, that’s no pejorative. Before succeeding Richard Thornburgh as President George H. W. Bush’s attorney general, Barr had been the deputy AG, and before that the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel — the “lawyers’ lawyer” post at Justice, formerly held by such luminaries as Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist.

Barr had first navigated the crossroads of law and politics as a domestic-policy staffer in the Reagan White House. Yet it was foreign relations, in all its intrigue, that drew him to government, as an analyst in the CIA’s intelligence directorate. Raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Barr initially envisioned a career as a China expert while completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia University. Even as he worked at the CIA, though, he excelled as a student at George Washington University’s law school, earning a prestigious clerkship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. With such credentials, and in that bygone time, Barr was confirmed in 1991 by a voice vote of the full Senate. In stark contrast, as Trump’s AG nominee in 2019, Barr was confirmed over the nay votes of some 45 Democrats.

This unmovable wall of opposition was unsurprising, notwithstanding Barr’s repeated testimonial assurances that “the attorney general must ensure that the administration of justice, the enforcement of the law, is above and away from politics,” that “any toleration of political interference” would be uniquely “destructive” of the Justice Department as an institution and, in turn, of the rule of law and our system of government. He took the job as the Mueller probe was winding toward its conclusion, with Democrats, Never Trumpers, and their media allies still expecting the boom to be lowered on the president — if not felony charges (seemingly foreclosed by longstanding Justice Department guidance against indicting a sitting president), then at least a roadmap to impeachment.

3. Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru explain Trump’s poor re-elect poll numbers and odds. From the piece:

The standard restrictions apply: There are around three months to go, state-level polling was off in 2016, and Trump doesn’t have to make up much ground to be within plausible range of another Electoral College victory. Still, his situation is dire by any measure. Underlying conditions have turned against him, yet even when the economy was thriving, Trump was in a notably perilous position for a president presiding over peace and prosperity. The fault is not in his stars but in his tweets, erratic behavior, scattershot belligerence, and denials of reality, which had already made him radioactive before what he sometimes calls the “Wuhan flu” ever emerged.

Trump is thin-skinned, self-obsessed, small-minded, intellectually lazy, and ill-disciplined. These never seemed to be great qualities in a chief executive, but they have caught up with Trump over the last six months in particular. They have played into his poor handling of the coronavirus crisis and the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. When times became more serious, he remained as unserious as ever.

COVID has been the main factor worsening his political condition. The damage didn’t register in the polls at first. At the end of March and beginning of April, polling had his handling of the crisis in positive territory, a kind of rally-around-the-flag effect. But the effect was smaller and shorter-lived for him than it was for other officials, in the states and abroad. As of early August, the average of the polling at the website FiveThirtyEight has his rating on the crisis at 58 percent disapprove and 38 percent approve. This is a flashing red light given that COVID is the most important issue to voters at the moment, a rare instance when the economy isn’t the top issue in a presidential election.

4. If / when the filibuster is gone, Congress will change in many ways, says Luke Thompson. Many bad ways. From the piece:

Nonetheless, pressure is building in Democratic circles to eliminate the filibuster once and for all. According to reporting in The Hill, Oregon senator Jeff Merkley, one of the chamber’s most outspoken liberals, is circulating “nuclear option” proposals to end the already attenuated filibuster. Delaware senator Chris Coons, who frequently masquerades as a moderate, made clear his support for abolishing the procedure should it prove a barrier to a hypothetical Biden agenda. When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, cautioned against filibuster reform, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow responded with a tweet reading, simply, “LOLOLOL.”

This marks a shift from a year ago, when Senate Democrats were more divided on the question. At that point, Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, was pushing for eliminating the filibuster as part of her misbegotten presidential campaign. Under pressure, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, said in July that nothing was “off the table” when it came to the filibuster, and Dick Durbin, of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, made similar noises. Yet at that point, numerous other Democrats seemed reluctant, including Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, neither of whom could be described as a “moderate.” Virginia’s Tim Kaine, who like Coons has mastered the art of getting the D.C. press corps to call him a “moderate” for little discernible reason, also expressed concern.

Now the ranks of reluctant Democrats seem to be shrinking. Many of those mentioned above are changing their tune or avoiding the question, leaving a smaller cadre of liberal senators expressing skepticism about the nuclear option. Angus King, of Maine, an independent in-name-only, has expressed discomfort with the move. Dianne Feinstein, of California, certainly no moderate, has also said that she believes the legislative filibuster serves the Senate well. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, whose overwhelmingly conservative voters would no doubt object to greasing the skids for liberal legislation, says he opposes the nuclear option in no uncertain terms. According to a Politico profile from late last year, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema likewise opposes the move.

If these four continue to hold out, Democrats will need to do much better than expected in this fall’s Senate races to have the numbers required to kill the filibuster once and for all.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. A Catholic college cancels Flannery O’Connor. Marc Guerra tells the story at Catholic World Report. From the article:

Maritain’s phrase “kneel before the world” came to mind on hearing of Loyola University Maryland’s “cancelling” of Flannery O’Connor. Confronted with a signed, two-sentence petition from students that referred to “recent letters and postcards written by Flannery O’Connor” containing “strong racist sentiments and hate speech,” the university’s president, Brian F. Linnane, S.J., announced that the Flannery O’Connor Residence Hall would be renamed for Sister Thea Bowman. Many of the students who signed the petition demanding Loyola remove her name from the hall did not know who the author of the “recent letters and postcards” was or that the author died in 1964 or even that Flannery O’Connor was a woman.

The precipitating cause of the student petition was an essay published in The New Yorker by Paul Elie in mid-June, titled “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?” Cherry-picking from Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s Radical Ambivalence, Elie’s piece credits its author with discovering and bravely bringing forth allegedly damning new evidence of the principled integrationist’s own personal struggles with the race question and her use of unflattering racial language in some of her personal writings. (Of particular concern to Elie is a 1964 letter in which a 39-year-old O’Connor states, “About the Negroes, the kind I don’t like is the philosophizing, prophesying, pontificating kind, the James Baldwin kind . . . My question is usually would this person be endurable if white”).

Despite Elie’s hyperbolic claims to the contrary, his essay does not reveal anything substantially new — either in terms of factual information or moral and spiritual truth — about O’Connor. The fact that she occasionally referred to black people using language that we find not just indelicate but morally offensive has been known by professional and amateur readers of O’Connor since the first volumes of her letters were published back in the 1970s. The deeper point is that Elie’s sensationalist charge of racism, leveled weeks after the killing of George Floyd, is both unfair and untrue (and exploits both Floyd’s death and O’Connor’s character to tap into a cultural moment). Pouring over her private correspondences and her published stories, one finds no evidence that she classified people, who she profoundly believed were made in the image of God and saved in Jesus Christ, by their race or evaluated the dignity of an individual based on his skin color. Even the remark about James Baldwin that Elie tries to make great hay out of, shows just the opposite is true. Her objection to Baldwin is that he is a blusterer, that he opines freely on subjects on which he can make no special claim to knowledge — by contrast, in the same letter, she speaks respectfully about Martin Luther King, Jr. and, believe it or not, admiringly of Cassius Clay. If anything, her remarks about Baldwin reveal a woman who was at times difficult to be around — setting the bar at whether a “person” is “endurable” does not expect too much from human beings.

2. In the new issue of National Affairs, Greg Weiner decries the dearth of prudence in politics. From the essay:

Aquinas — for whom prudence was a moral virtue — says in the Summa Theologica that “providence” is “the principal part of prudence.” He continues: “The other two parts of prudence, memory of the past and understanding of the present, are subordinate to it, helping us decide how to provide for the future.”

Burke expressed much the same sentiment when he said that “a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.” Burke’s unique contribution to our understanding of prudence was to theorize its cautious dimension as rooted in what he called “a moral rather than a complexional timidity”; that is, a timidity arising from humility in the face of our limited ability to comprehend the infinite complexity of human, and particularly of social, affairs. As such, it does not make prudent statesmen timid in action — they are often very bold. But it makes them timid in the confidence they have regarding their own knowledge.

This is the moral core of prudence, the intersection between limitation and humility. It is based on what we do not, and often cannot, know. For Burke, it leads to the assumption that the aggregated wisdom of human experience as reflected through tradition is a surer guide than metaphysical abstraction at a single moment in time. Prudence is inseparable from the rivers of tradition on which we are all borne — swimming against them without endeavoring to understand them is simply flailing — and inseparable from their relationship to the future.

Michael Oakeshott understood the rejection of history and habit in favor of reason that addresses all problems de novo to be the essence of what he called, and deliberately capitalized as, “Rationalism.” For the Rationalist, politics was “a matter of solving problems, and in this no man can hope to be successful whose reason has become inflexible by surrender to habit or is clouded by the fumes of tradition.” But this “assimilation of politics to engineering” was a chimera: “the myth of rationalist politics.” Just as progressivism’s tendency was to compress authority into a single office, Rationalism’s was to compress time into a single moment: now. Problems exist now and must be solved, mechanically and scientifically. The result is Progress, which John Stuart Mill — whose On Liberty is misread as a libertarian rather than a progressive manifesto — foresaw.

3. At The College Fix, the great Jennifer Kabbany reports on how Wright State has barred an economics professor from offering a course critical of Karl Marx. From the article:

A longtime economics professor at Wright State University who has repeatedly requested permission to teach a class critical of Marxism has been rebuffed by his bosses and peers who appear unwilling to allow the topic to be taught to the general student population.

Meanwhile, the university frequently offers courses that praise Marxism, economics Professor Evan Osborne told The College Fix.

Osborne said the “short version” of his predicament “is that we have an angry, radical-left cohort in the department, they praise Marxism in the classroom, they will not let me teach critically about it, and numerous people in the university have refused to do anything about it.”

While Osborne has recently been given permission to teach the class this fall to honors students, he is not allowed to open the class to the entire student body, he said. Only honors students may enroll in honors courses.

Osborne has been able to teach his class once before, as an honors course in fall 2014. Again, only honors students were permitted to enroll.

After the class went well, Osborne said he proposed it as an economics elective or as a special topics course that any business student could enroll in. Today, all these years later, his battle to open the course to all such students continues, he said.

“That my department is full of extremists who probably don’t belong in a business-college economics department, to be sure, is a manifestation of academic freedom,” Osborne told The College Fix via email. “And I do not want to change how economics is taught at WSU, broadly speaking. I just want my academic freedom to offer a different view to also be respected.”

4. At Law & Liberty, Emina Melonic explores the “dialogic imagination” of the late Michael Oakshott. From the essay:

Oakeshott is a philosopher who understands and takes seriously the primacy of metaphysics. This is one of the reasons why his insights into politics and political philosophy are original and valuable. Without taking into consideration a metaphysical make-up of human beings and the world that surrounds them, comprehending political life will be difficult and incomplete.

For Oakeshott, life is composed of modes of being and individual experiences. Each mode of being, be it intellectual or practical, is working toward something in a particular sphere of existences. But this does not mean that all we are is just a bunch of “modes” swarming around, unrelated to each other, free of responsibility and consequences of our choices, however big or small they may be. Rather, the spheres that are composed of both experience and reality are in constant dialogue. As Oakeshott writes in Experience and Its Modes, “. . . no separation is possible between experience and reality. Reality is nothing but experience, the world of experience as a coherent whole. Everything is real so long as we do not take it for more or less than it is. Nothing is real save the world of experience single and complete. Thus, reality is a world, and is a world of ideas.”

The last part of this passage is crucial because Oakeshott connects a philosophy of what we may call ‘experiential metaphysics’ to the fact that our society ‘runs’ on ideas. While in Experience and Its Modes, we see explorations of a variety of experiences and knowledge that is centrally focused on the metaphysical explorations, in Rationalism in Politics, we witness an interesting development in Oakeshott’s thought. It is, in many ways, a continuation of what he has achieved in Experience and Its Modes, which focuses on the way we think and judge. In this case, mode has an ontological connotation, and Oakeshott defines modes of being as ideas of the world and their representation in thought and experience.

He divides the human experience into three modes: history, science, and practice. In this philosophical endeavor, which might be best described as ‘metaphysical epistemology,’ Oakeshott shows that three separate modes of being that are constantly communicating with one another, and bridging the theoretical ideal of a particular mode with that of practice. In other words, the modes are not mere philosophical constructs but are firmly connected to reality.

5. At the Mercatus Center blog, The Bridge, Charles Lipson accuses Woke colleges of manufacturing conformists. From the essay:

Don’t be fooled by universities’ incessant chatter about “diversity.” Most are poster children for ideological conformity and proud of it. The faculty, students, and administrators know it. Indeed, many welcome it since their views are so obviously right and other views so obviously wrong. They believe discordant views are so objectionable that no one should express them publicly.

What views are now considered beyond the pale? They almost always involve ordinary political differences. We are not talking here about direct physical threats. Those are already illegal, and universities rightly deal with them. They don’t have to face neo-Nazi marches. Nor is anyone advocating such noxious ideas as genocide, slavery, or child molestation. Speech about those subjects might be legal, but virtually nobody is making the case for them. That is not what the fight for freedom of speech on campus is about. It is about the freedom to voice — or even hear — unpopular views on topics such as merit-based admissions, affirmative action, transgender competition in women’s sports, abortion, and support for Israel.

These are perfectly legitimate topics, and students ought to be free to hear different ideas about them. They are hotly contested topics in America’s body politic. That’s how democracies work. Not so on college campuses, where the “wrong views” are not just minority opinions. They are verboten, and so are the people who dare express them. Challenging this repressive conformity invites condemnation, severs friendships, and threatens careers. It is hardly surprising that few rise to challenge it.

Worse yet, university leaders seldom do. They have a fundamental responsibility to defend open discourse, and they have largely abdicated it. Shame on them. Instead of defending the free expression of unpopular views, they condemn them and flaunt their own virtue. That’s what Princeton’s president Christopher Eisgruber did when he attacked classics professor Joshua Katz, saying Katz had not exercised free speech “responsibly” when he allegedly gave a “false description” of a Black student group. Katz’s own department condemned him, too, though the university finally decided the professor would not be formally punished. They will save the ducking chair for another day.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Lawrence A. Franklin argues that containment of Red China needs to be the top goal of Western leaders. From the beginning of the piece:

After China’s many transgressions over the past 50 years — including the theft of $600 billion of U.S. intellectual property each year; Beijing’s malignant cover-up of the Covid-19 virus; the Communist regime’s attempts to blind US airmen with lasers; constructing military islands in the South China Sea, and last month sending a massive fleet of 250 Chinese fishing vessels near the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, to name but a few — the military containment of Chinese expansionism and Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping’s stated goal of world domination needs to be the highest foreign policy priority of the Free World.

The ultimate objective of this initiative would be to prevent Communist China’s aggression against the independent states of the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

China’s walk-in-the-park takeover of Hong Kong — an illegal appropriation — undoubtedly served to whet China’s expansionist appetite.

The first military containment of China could encompass a broad and multi-tiered defense perimeter in an arc extending from Japan’s coastal waters, southeast to the continent of Australia, and northwest to the Himalayan borderlands between China and India, where China has already been attempting a land invasion. Although China’s recent record of malign behavior has drawn the ire of many, China is encouragingly vulnerable. Fourteen states share sections of China’s land borders, and the Chinese already have territorial disputes with 18 countries.

The leaders of China’s Communist Party have been clear about China’s territorial claims, particularly in the South China Sea. China’s claim there, if realized, would include about 85% of the waters off China and most of the island archipelagos within the South China Sea. The United States needs to be unambiguously clear that it will physically block any Chinese effort to realize any baseless assertions of Chinese sovereignty. America’s determination also needs be transparent so that Chinese leaders do not doubt U.S. resolve, in case China might be tempted to check it by staging a violent incident.

7. At First Things, the exceptional Daniel Mahoney makes the case for considering the late political philosopher Aurel Kolnai for an intelligent critique of civilization-assaulting nihilism. From the piece:

After the war, Kolnai taught at the University of Laval in Quebec City before his final move to England and the University of Bedford in 1955. While in Quebec City, he concluded that communism, not Nazism, was the most “perfected” form of totalitarianism. In 1950, he wrote a daring and illuminating essay called “Three Riders of the Apocalypse” in which he discussed the affinities among Nazism, communism, and what he called “progressive democracy.” As we shall see, Kolnai saw much truth in democracy and in Chesterton’s “plain man,” but opposed the doctrinaire and even revolutionary democratic notions advanced in the name of the “common man.” In an essay from the same period, “The Meaning of the Common Man,” Kolnai outlined an alternative to the illusions of “progressive democracy.” A democracy worth its salt should emphasize its political continuity with Western traditions of constitutionalism and its “moral continuity with the high tradition of Antiquity, Christendom, and the half-surviving Liberal cultures of yesterday.” True democracy, informed by conservative constitutionalism and the moral law, is rooted in respect for the rule of law and a transcendental support for human liberty and dignity.

Unlike “progressive democracy,” Kolnai argued, conservative democracy respects the best of the liberal tradition and rests upon a balanced social and political order that limits “all social powers and political prerogatives” and defers “to a Power radically beyond and above Man in his social reality, in his political dignity and in all manifestations of his ‘will.’” Kolnai was a thoughtful partisan of what Tocqueville once called “liberty under God and the law.” Progressive democrats see “no enemies to the Left.” They too often indulge revolutionary regimes and destructive social movements–precisely because these “democrats” have distorted and repudiated indispensable Christian categories. At a profoundly spiritual level, Christianity set men free and “lifted [them] above the flats of his fallen nature.” Modern humanitarianism, the religion of humanity, put forth a new, utopian program whereby angry and impatient human beings “construed the automatic workings of [man’s] fallen nature into a mirage of self-made heaven.” And in the final, “metaphysically mad” epiphany, to cite a Burkean formulation, revolutionaries engage in destructive totalitarian projects that attack recalcitrant reality, “afire with the unholy rage of . . . emancipation and sovereignty.” All of this necessarily culminates in what Kolnai never tired of calling “the self-enslavement of man.”

8. At The Imaginative Conservative, brilliant Bradley Birzer scopes out Harry Truman’s deep affinity for Thomas Jefferson, and how he sought to weave that love, as well as the Declaration of Independence, into the fledgling United Nations. From the piece:

Truly, Truman believed, America must resolve to be the defender of the United Nations itself, the true defender of the Declaration of Independence.

Again, it should be noted, Truman had made similar points throughout his presidency. Before the struggles of the Korean peninsula became a tragic and hot reality for America, in 1947, Truman had already tied the fortunes of Jefferson and the Declaration to the United Nations. In his Jefferson Day speech of that year, he said the United States must be willing to support the United Nations, citing the case of the Monroe Doctrine and Jefferson’s support of it as evidence that he would support the UN. “We, like Jefferson, have witnessed atrocious violations of the rights of nations. We, too, have regarded them as occasions not to be slighted. We, too, have declared our protest. We must make that protest effective by aiding those peoples whose freedoms are endangered by foreign pressures.”

To be sure, Truman’s co-opting of Jefferson did not go unchallenged. Washington, in his Farewell Address, and Jefferson, in his First Inaugural, had openly and unreservedly called for a policy of American republicanism to prevent the entanglement of alliances with powers that felt no virtue or right. Washington had famously stressed an openness in commercial policy, but a reservedness (to the extreme) in foreign entanglements. Not surprisingly, Truman’s most vocal critics came from the anti-war Right. William Henry Chamberlin of The Wall Street Journal wondered aloud what Jefferson might think, had he actually attended any of Truman’s talks. What happened, Chamberlain wondered, to Jefferson’s cautions against government overreach, at home and abroad? “So the foundations of the American [Jeffersonian] idea may be summarized as follows: belief in intense distrust of any concentration of power in government, firm rejection of tyranny, whether of a monarch, a dictator or a mob, faith in equality and opportunity.”

9. At Real Clear Defense, Francis Sempa says Red China’s rise proved Douglas MacArthur right. From the article

With the benefit of hindsight, we can look back across the past 70 years and see Communist China develop into a first-rate power that threatens — with its increasingly powerful navy, its growing and more sophisticated army, and its global geopolitical vision known as the Belt and Road Initiative — hegemony on the Eurasian landmass. MacArthur, to his credit, sensed this 70 years ago. China, under Mao’s regime, he wrote in a memorandum to George Marshall in November 1950, is manifesting “increasingly dominant aggressive tendencies,” leading to the creation “of a new and dominant power in Asia.” The Chinese Communist Party, he continued, is “aggressively imperialistic with a lust for expansion and increased power.” “When [the Chinese] reach fructification of their military potential,” MacArthur warned, “I dread to think what may happen.”

Truman and his top advisers were Eurocentric in their approach to international politics. They understandably and perhaps correctly perceived the principal immediate threat to U.S. security as emanating from Europe. This may explain, in part, Truman’s disastrous policies in Asia beginning with his abandonment of the Chinese Nationalists during China’s civil war and culminating in the Korean War stalemate. MacArthur’s geopolitical view was more comprehensive, more global. He sensed that the future pivot of world politics was in the Asia-Pacific, not Europe — and he was right.

A Dios

The crazy-named tropical storm came to this part of the Republic with a sneaky fury, depositing twisters and some just-about versions of such, creating chaos, leaving behind multitudes without power, not even The Power of HooDoo. As the milk curdles and the frozen chicken thighs melt in the lifeless refrigerator, we nevertheless take confidence that God in His Heaven will provide. After all, does He not feed the birds of the air, who neither sow nor reap nor gather? Before returning to the chainsaw and gathering (the wreckage, which abounds), we remain thankful for our fortunes, and for the fact that we live in this Great Nation.

May His Graces Be Abundant and Fruitful and Available to You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who will respond to any communication, with however many fingers remain, if sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Don’t forget to support the National Review webathon. Do that here.

National Review

Why We Fight

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

There is this weekly podcast, co-hosted by Your Humble Correspondent, starring and named after Professor Hanson, and in the latest episode the eminent historian reflects on American generals — some great, some not so great, and even one traitorous. The co-host found VDH’s thoughts about the great martial qualities of General George S. Patton to be especially convincing — as was everything else said in the program. Listen and learn here.

For whatever reason, this set Your Distracted Emailer to revisit Frank Capra’s famous WW2 documentary / propaganda series, Why We Fight.

The series title bears on the present, in particular on NR’s ongoing Summer Webathon — dubbed in various versions of “Cancel the Cancelers.” As you know, we are engaged in the culture war of our lives. As you know, NR is on its front lines waging hand-to-hand combat. As you deserve to know: Why we fight. First allow this to be contended: That because we fight on various and numerous behalfs — ours, that of our principles, of our country, of our liberties, and yours — it merits us asking for your financial support, asked without believing you have an iota or shellcasing of obligation.

Second, allow this to be shared: Since this effort commenced on July 23rd, nearly 1,100 NRO readers — God love every one of them — have pitched with dinero, from $5 to $5,000. We hope that in addition, two times those supporters will join the ranks of the generous. As for the present: Our goal is seeing $250,000 raised. We are far from it. And even if reached, the books show we need twice as much (and then some).

Reaching the objective — and all that it has been established for — won’t happen without you. We argue: It should. As in: You should. For this too is your cause. This too is your fight.

Now, why do we fight? Here’s Rich Lowry’s call to arms. And that of Alexandra De Sanctis (it’s a wonderful smackdown of Andrew Cuomo). And there’s plenty more here (such as David Harsanyi’s explanation of NR’s critical role in defending the defending the Second Amendment). In summary: We fight to stop these progressive Marxist hacks — aided and abetted by a let-fly the-freak-flag media — from destroying the more-perfecting Great American Experiment, for dislocating the unum from e pluribus.

We ask nicely: Please become a donor (you can lend your support here). And we ask this too: Do you disagree with Paul C.? Earlier this week, this average / typical NR subscriber kindly gave NR $100 and explained why: “Can’t watch from the sidelines any more. This is in my streets, it’s at my office, it’s at my kids’ schools. . . . Cancel the madness.”

If you’re on the sidelines, get off. Do that by helping NR cancel the madness. Be part of why we fight.

Now all that said, if you want a pre-battle pep talk, do yourself a favor and read General Patton’s speech to the Third Army.

Editorials

1. The President’s tweeting about delaying elections was an all-around shockingly bad thing. From the editorial:

Trump obviously doesn’t have the power to delay the election. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fix the date of the election, and since 1845, it’s been the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is such an ingrained tradition that it is part of the warp and woof of American democracy.

It is a tribute to our commitment to self-government that elections have occurred as scheduled on this day during the worst crises of American history — when federal troops were in the field against rebel troops who sought to destroy the nation, when the unemployment rate was 25 percent, when U.S. forces were engaged in an epic struggle to save the West from the depredations of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Trump doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care. It is another indication of how little he’s let the institution of the presidency shape him, and how selfishly he approaches his duties.

2. It would be hard to get to the left of Joe Biden’s race- and gender-soaked political agenda. From the editorial:

The further one gets into these proposals, the clearer it becomes that the left-wing radicals who were supposedly defeated by Biden in the primary are actually writing them. The euphemisms and acronyms in Biden’s plans, in Orwell’s words, “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up the details.” For example, Biden pledges to require insurers to cover “gender confirmation surgery.” He pledges to ban “conversion therapy” — did we miss the federal government becoming the primary regulator of therapists?

The intense focus on categorizing people by race, channeling government benefits along explicit racial lines, and constructing new federal bureaucracies to obsess about race is numbing. Biden would “ensure all small business relief efforts are specifically designed to aid businesses owned by Black and Brown people,” “require publicly traded companies to disclose data on the racial and gender composition of their corporate boards,” and “establish an Equity Commission” to “focus on the unique jurisdictional and regulatory barriers that Black, Brown, and Native farmers, ranchers, and fishers must negotiate and make sure that processes are streamlined and simplified to promote new and beginning farming and ranching operations by Black and Brown farmers.”

You might think the Federal Reserve exists mainly to ensure sound money and a stable banking system; Biden proposes that “the Fed should aggressively enhance its surveillance and targeting of persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages, and wealth.” A government that puts “racial” and “surveillance” in the same job description for an unelected body should be viewed with alarm.

Voila Capital Matters

In cooperation with National Review Institute, we have launched an important new section called “Capital Matters.” The great Andrew Stuttaford, long known to NR readers, will be its Editor (he’s also writing a daily column, The Capital Note, with Daniel Tenreiro), and the as-great Kevin Hassett, who served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors (never mind that prior to that he wrote regularly for NR for two decades), and who is Capital Matters’ Senior Advisor.

Bookmark the section (here’s the link) And try catching Rich Lowry’s kick-off Zoomcast (along with Andrew, Ramesh Ponnuru, the Kevins — Hassett and Williamson — and NRI President Peter Travers) right here. And while we’re at it, to give you a taste of the big enchilada, let’s share some Capital Matters samplings. It’s all really terrific stuff.

1. David Bahnsen calls for a stimulus that truly stimulates. From the piece:

If we are going to get an expensive stimulus/relief bill, it seems desirable that it should be structured in a way that most effectively aids those struggling their way through the current crisis while facilitating economic growth. Direct payments to taxpayers, indiscriminate and untargeted, offer little in the way of “multiplier effect” to economic growth, and provide as much support to those not suffering as to those who are suffering. However much the total stimulus bill ends up costing, too much of what’s spent will be direct payments, substantially diluting the ability of the package to assist in securing the objectives I list above.

By contrast, the PPP program has been shown to deliver the sort of multiplier effect we should be looking for. PPP’s implementation was controversial in that a minuscule percentage of the total committed dollars may have initially gone to certain companies that provided media fodder for outrage and critique (e.g., large companies, public companies, name-brand companies, etc.). But at the end of the day, the PPP program successfully distributed hundreds of billions of dollars in just weeks to millions of U.S. businesses with a goal of keeping people on payrolls. Where there were deficiencies (too narrow a window to spend the funds, too high a percentage to be used for payroll, etc.), they were adjusted and corrected in subsequent amendments to the legislation. An extended PPP for companies that had already been given one bite of the apple would be a good idea under select conditions. While current talks are centering on the size of the company and the revenue hit it has taken, a more targeted and efficient PPP 2.0 would do the following:

First, reserve eligibility for businesses that can establish a clear and government-created impediment to their business. Restaurants and fitness centers that were ordered to shut down are pretty good examples. The distinction here is that general distress from the pandemic can indirectly be rationalized by every business (or nonprofit). But where there was a local, state, or federal dictate that led to the business distress, it is far more reasonable to seek a government-backed solution.

2. Charles Bowyer and Jerry Bowyer critique ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing as much riskier than advertised. From the piece:

The Department of Labor recently proposed a rule that requires pension-fund managers to select investments “based solely on financial considerations,” effectively repudiating the claim that ESG investing maximizes portfolio returns. Elsewhere, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce has been calling for more oversight of ESG-marketed funds. Among the issues one would expect regulators to examine is whether these ESG-friendly funds truly reduce risk in the way that is often claimed. Take the example provided by California utilities company PG&E, once in the vanguard for public advocacy of green causes. Sustainalytics, an ESG rating firm, put PG&E in the top 10 percent of similar companies for environmental factors in November 2018, and at one point PG&E was held by 3.7 percent of ESG funds. Once PG&E went under, the financial media featured numerous postmortems asking some variation of the question, “Wait, I thought this was supposed to avoid risk?”

The problem is that there are risks, and there are risks. The risk that PG&E may have been trying to reduce was that supposedly arising from climate change, but while it was focused on that, it seems to have been negligent (criminally, in fact) about the basics, like not having its equipment starting massive fires. PG&E has spent much of the last decade incessantly pandering to climate activists — supporting legislation mandating emission caps, focusing on renewable resources to generate power, and minimizing their own greenhouse-gas emissions. But those investing in PG&E thinking that this made it a generally less risky company have been badly disappointed.

Having steered the corporate world into alignment on climate change, activist investors are now looking to replicate that success with abortion. Recently, a group of investors managing over $230 billion in assets wrote a letter addressed to major corporations inquiring about their position on “abortion and contraception.” This is part of a broader campaign by left-wing corporate-activist group As You Sow to draft the corporate world into their war against restrictions on abortion. Abortion was not a common topic for shareholder resolutions until quite recently. That seems to be changing, but it is one thing to honestly urge a corporation to oppose restrictions on abortion as a political choice, yet quite another to pretend that this has anything to do with “risk,” even if the nature of this issue means that activists don’t have much choice in the matter. A company may be wary of taking an openly political stance, but if the matter can be sold as a matter of risk avoidance, that is an entirely different question.

3. The best paycheck protection, says R. Glenn Hubbard, is growth. From the commentary:

This critical pivot — and it is a pivot from conventional conservative reform measures — must rest on three pillars. The first is the idea that participation in the economy’s benefits requires a connection to work. Education is important, of course, but, so, too, is skill preparation for work. Elsewhere with my Aspen Economic Study Group colleagues, I have suggested a federal block grant for community colleges, with goals and outcome measures, to address this challenge. Its Morrill Act roots make it a strong opportunity-connection idea. Second, individual income advancement requires attachment to work. Work is important for earned success and dignity, and skill and earnings growth rely on work attachment. A participation agenda should strengthen work attachment for low-skilled workers through a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit or other wage subsidy, including for younger, childless workers. Such an approach offers a potent alternative to traditional welfare-state nostrums or the currently fashionable Universal Basic Income, neither of which produces the mass flourishing that classical economists rightly urged on. The third pillar is reconnection to work and the economy when one’s employment outlook is disrupted. Our current system of social insurance is not well-positioned for the economy we actually have. Newer ideas such as Personal Reemployment Accounts, which would provide income support and timing to re-prepare individuals for work when occupational needs change, are critical.

Three comments about this growth agenda are in order. First, it starts with and must be judged against a “first principle” of mass flourishing. Second, it will require investments of public funds — it is not and cannot be simply about small-government laissez-faire. Third, it needs articulation and careful implementation.

4. Viva La Dollar: Steve Hanke calls for the mothballing central banks. From the article:

The obvious answer is for vulnerable emerging‐market countries to do away with their central banks and domestic currencies, replacing them with a sound foreign currency.  Today, 32 countries are “dollarized” and rely on a foreign currency as legal tender.

Panama, which was dollarized in 1903, illustrates the important features of a dollarized economy. By joining the U.S. dollar bloc, Panama eliminated exchange-rate risks and the possibility of a currency crisis vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. In addition, the possibility of banking crises is largely mitigated because Panama’s banking system is integrated into the international financial system. The nature of the banks that hold general licenses provides the key to understanding how the system as a whole functions smoothly. When these banks’ portfolios are in equilibrium, they are indifferent at the margin between deploying liquidity (lending or borrowing) in the domestic market and doing so abroad. As the liquidity (credit-creating potential) of these banks changes, they evaluate risk-adjusted rates of return in the domestic and international markets and adjust their portfolios accordingly. Excess liquidity is deployed domestically if domestic risk-adjusted returns exceed those in the international market. It’s deployed internationally if the international risk-adjusted returns exceed those in the domestic market. This process is thrown into reverse when liquidity deficits arise in Panamanian banks.

4. Brian Riedl asks the $64 Million question: Who will fund $24 Trillion in new government debt? From the article:

Washington has easily financed this year’s exorbitant borrowing. Since March 11, the national debt has jumped by $3.1 trillion. Treasury data through May suggest that foreign borrowing has financed virtually none of this new debt. Instead, the Federal Reserve has increased its Treasury holdings by $1.7 trillion (from $2.5 trillion to $4.2 trillion), and the remaining $1.4 trillion has come from domestic savings such as banks, mutual funds, and state and local governments.

But this model may not be sustainable. Economists have long argued that rising debt is affordable because the large global economy will continue to eagerly lend America — creator of the world’s reserve currency — dollars at low interest rates. Yet international borrowing has not kept up with America’s rising debt. While foreigners held nearly half of America’s $10.5 trillion debt at the end of 2011, they have funded less than one-fifth of the extra $9 trillion in borrowing America has undertaken since. Over these past nine years, while America’s debt soared from $10.5 trillion to $20 trillion, the total American debt held by Japan and China barely increased, from $2.2 trillion to $2.3 trillion. The American debt held by the rest of the world grew from $2.8 trillion to $4.5 trillion in the same time frame, with the U.K. and Ireland driving one-quarter of the increase.

Moving forward, China — whose decisions to buy and sell Treasuries are often driven by whether it wishes to appreciate or depreciate its own currency — is not expected to embark on a Treasury-buying spree large enough to cover much of America’s exorbitant new borrowing; White House talk of defaulting on America’s Chinese debt as payback for China’s coronavirus-related behavior will only limit Beijing’s appetite for Treasuries. Japanese investors and pension funds should retain some enthusiasm for Treasuries as long as U.S. interest rates exceed Japan’s own zero (or negative) rates. But America’s interest-rate advantage in that case has fallen by 80 percent since 2018, and even a Japanese borrowing surge would cover only a small portion of Washington’s heavy borrowing needs. It is highly unlikely that other countries with much smaller economies and debt holdings can finance much of the $24 trillion in new borrowing, especially when many of their own national debts are rising.

A Baker’s Dozen of Nut-Free Buns and Pastries to Satisfy Your Conservative Sweet Tooth

1. David Harsanyi is all over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s gun myth-making. From the piece:

Studies of those imprisoned on firearms charges show that most often they obtain their weapons by stealing them or buying them in black markets. A smaller percentage get them from family members or friends.

On top of all this, federal law requires every FFL license holder to report the purchase of two or more handguns by the same person with a week to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This is one of the reasons straw purchasers — people with a clean record who buy for criminals — spread their operations to other states. This is not unique to Illinois or Chicago. It has nothing to do with strict or lenient laws. It has mostly to do with cities and states failing to prosecute straw purchases.

Lightfoot claims that 60 percent of the guns used in Chicago murders are bought from out of state. I assume she is relying on 2017’s suspect “gun trace report,” which looked at guns confiscated in criminal acts from 2013 and 2016. Even if we trusted the city’s data, most guns used in Illinois crimes are bought in-state. If gun laws in Illinois — which earns a grade of “A-“ from the pro-gun-control Gifford Law Center, tied for second highest in the country after New Jersey — are more effective than gun laws in Missouri, Wisconsin, or Indiana, why is it that FFL dealers in suburban Cook County are the origin point for a third of the crime guns recovered in Chicago, and home to “seven of the top ten source dealers”? According to the trace study, 11.2 percent of all crime guns recovered in Chicago could be tracked to just two gun shops.

The only reason, it seems, criminals take the drive to Indiana is because local gun shops are tapped out. There is a tremendous demand for weapons in Chicago. That’s not Mississippi’s fault. And Lightfoot’s contention only proves that criminals in her city can get their hands on guns rather easily, while most law-abiding citizens have no way to defend themselves.

2. Jim Geraghty shares 20 things you likely didn’t know about Dem Veepstake hopeful Susan Rice. A few items from the article:

Eleven: On July 21, 2008, she said Obama “bows to nobody in his understanding of this world.” (A particularly ironic word choice, considering how Obama greeted foreign monarchs during his presidency.)

Twelve: After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, she declared that the “aggressive,” “belligerent” actor in the situation was . . . John McCain.

Thirteen: One of Rice’s purported success stories, getting the United Nations to impose sanctions on Iran in 2010, was much less than it was touted to be, as China and Russia only supported the measures with the assurance that they would not impair ability to continue trading with Tehran.

Fourteen: A Dana Milbank column in 2012 described Rice’s interactions with colleagues as combative and sometimes unprofessional. “Back when she was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. Colleagues talk of shouting matches and insults.”

3. Rich Lowry wallops the Never Republicans. From the analysis:

‘Burn it down” is rarely a wise or prudent sentiment.

A cadre of Republican opponents of President Donald Trump is nonetheless calling for a purifying fire to sweep through the GOP in the fall, taking down not just Trump but as many Republican officeholders as possible.

Only this willy-nilly bloodletting will teach the party the hard lesson it needs to learn and mete out the punishment it deserves for accommodating Trump over the past four years. As a Soviet commissar once put it, “We must execute not only the guilty. Execution of the innocent will impress the masses even more.”

These Never Trumpers, as my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, are becoming Never Republicans. Their ranks run from the estimable columnist George Will, to Charlie Sykes of the anti-Trump website The Bulwark, to the operatives of The Lincoln Project.

Their hoped-for GOP electoral apocalypse doesn’t make sense on its own terms, and their advocacy for one bears all the hallmarks of this perfervid time in our politics — it, too, is rageful and extreme, but satisfyingly emotive.

4. More Rich: He applies the 2-by-4 to the scammy Lincoln Project. From the piece:

The idea of Republican political pros working against Trump is irresistible to The Lincoln Project’s progressive fans. But it’s not really true. John Weaver, for example, hasn’t been a GOP stalwart in about 20 years. He left to go work for the Democratic House campaign committee after John McCain’s 2000 primary campaign flamed out. He returned as the strategist to the 2016 presidential campaign of John Kasich, who will be speaking at the Democratic convention this year.

Steve Schmidt repaid John McCain for the opportunity of a lifetime running his 2008 presidential campaign by self-servingly dishing on the wreckage and making a new career among the people who hated the McCain campaign. Just last year, he was the chief strategist to prospective independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks — showing he wasn’t going to let a self-evident absurdity get in the way of a good payday.

It’s hard to maintain the fiction of The Lincoln Project as a Republican group when Weaver gave a defensive-sounding interview to the Washington Post promising to support the agenda of a prospective President Biden and attack Republicans for opposing him.

If the media didn’t share The Lincoln Project’s political goals, it might cast a more jaundiced eye on the group and simply see political consultants doing what they do best — namely, separating gullible people from their money, in this case Democratic donors.

5. Andy McCarthy expounds on AG Bill Barr’s mincemeat-making of House Democrats. From the article:

It was an embarrassing spectacle.

Some days, it just feels like we’re doomed. Today is one of those days. And not simply because this should have been an important oversight hearing featuring an important witness — one whom a serious committee would have wanted both to hear out and to challenge. It is, after all, the nature of the Justice Department’s work that there are many tough judgment calls; no one gets them all right.

What happened on Capitol Hill Tuesday was a debacle to despair over because Democrats do not act this way because they are preternaturally rude. They act this way because their voters expect and demand that they act this way.

It is not hard to understand, even if it is hard to accept. Democrats do not merely disagree with Donald Trump. They abhor him. Their supporters and media friends so loathe him that each “hearing,” each issue, becomes a contest of who can be the most indecorous and contemptuous. Who among us can spew the most bile?

Barr brings out the worst in them, which is saying something. He is learned and quick, he is prepared, and he doesn’t get rattled. Unlike many government officials, he thrives in the give-and-take of civil discourse.

6. Victor Davis Hanson profiles the revolutionaries. From the essay:

The cultural revolutionaries are a tripartite group.

On the front lines are the shock troops. For the most part, middle-class urban and suburban white kids, many of them in college, graduated, or dropped out, make up Antifa and its affiliates. They seem to organize the statue toppling, graffiti, and vandalism, as well as the violence at the demonstrations. They show up in ridiculous black-clad Road Warrior outfits, fitted out with cobbled-together hoodies, bicycle helmets, knee pads, and various sports-equipment armor, and occasionally with testudo-like umbrellas and assorted fireworks, rocks, bottle, and bats. All that is a psychodrama far more interesting than showing up at Starbucks at 5 a.m. to start the day’s machinery.

They are the new superfluous elite, in that their college investments brought them neither prestige nor money, but only debt and sloganeering memorized from the sermons of their tenured and comfortable lounge professors. History shows that when would-be, self-important elites have are in surfeit and extraneous, they grow volatile. They wake up to learn that their vaunted education and training were not appreciated and properly compensated by society.

And so they often can turn to violence and indeed revolution if it comes their way. In the profiles of the Jacobin, Bolshevik, and Arab Spring second-stage revolutions, the common denominators are frustration and the feeling that the agitators deserved honor, money, and influence that either never was forthcoming or went to undeserving others.

Antifa’s aim is to cause chaos and anarchy, in hopes of eliciting a police response that will fuel nonstop street brawling, akin to Germany’s in the 1920s, and a general sense of pandemonium that will leave the democratic capitalist state weak, directionless, and without a reply.

7. Danielle Pletka says the mini-Jacobins are intent on destruction, not reform. From the end of the piece:

Revolutionaries have their place in this world: Who could begrudge the people of Iraq tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein or the people of Romania tossing the Communist Nicolae Ceausescu from office? Who would deny the justice in the Founding Fathers’ revolt against King George? In each place there was no legal means of redress against an oppressive and unjust system. But that’s not the modern United States, which offers its citizens a pathway to reform even the most hated of institutions.

Those on either the left or right who confuse America with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Ceausescu’s Romania would do well to remember the trajectory of the original Jacobins of the French Revolution: After instituting the Reign of Terror, during which they sent thousands of their opponents to the guillotine, many of them were themselves guillotined in an orgy of self-destruction, leading ultimately to the rise of Napoleon, pan-European wars, and the eventual re-establishment of the very institutions the Jacobins set out to destroy.

8. Iain Murray warns about Socialism on the march. From the article:

Last week, several self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists defeated long-serving Democratic incumbents in New York State primaries. One of the insurgents, Zohran Mamdani, tweeted out the words, “Socialism won.” His pinned tweet on his profile page says, “Together, we can tax the rich, heal the sick, house the poor & build a socialist New York. But only if we build a movement of the multiracial working class to stand up to those who want to stop us . . . Solidarity forever.”

This is a pretty good summary of what people currently attracted to socialism think they mean by the term — tax the rich and bring down the special interests to bring about a better country founded upon an agenda of radical egalitarianism. Yet anyone who has studied the history of socialism knows that this will fail, painfully, and possibly violently. Why do people fall for this time and again?

That’s the question my new book, The Socialist Temptation, released today, tries to answer. In it, I argue that socialism has learned how to speak the language of American values. The three main American values identified by cultural theorists are fairness, freedom, and community. Socialism says it can provide all of those.

Yet when you look at just how socialism purports to do that, it is full of contradictions. Those contradictions have been in full display whenever anyone has attempted to build an actual socialist state. Whether it be the Soviet Union, today’s China, or the Britain I grew up in, we see that bureaucrats and officials gain a privileged position, rights are trampled in the name of democracy, and communities are broken apart.

9. Iddo Werneck finds an excellent case against alarmist environmentalists in Michael Shellenerger’s Apocalypse Never. From the piece:

The fact that nuclear reactors had little to do with nuclear bombs was no reason not to scare the public into thinking that they did. Using a single instance of habitat loss and extrapolating from there to planetary species extinction was justified because it drew attention to threats to biodiversity. When it comes to the dangers of climate change, propagating fear has become the main communication strategy. Shellenberger decries the culture of despair this has created and the real damage done by scaring teenagers about a grim future. This is deliberate. In the words of Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old darling of climate alarmists, “I want you to panic.”

Written intelligently and cogently, the book aims at an educated audience but does not cater to the NPR crowd. Shellenberger recoils from the elitism and disingenuousness he sees as typical in the environmental-advocacy community. He directly takes on the New York Times and The New Yorker, revealing strong populist sympathies, though he never expresses these explicitly. Citations of reputable scientific sources such as the IPCC (though he also criticizes the IPCC for being too political) as well more than 100 pages of footnotes back up Shellenberger’s argument. The ambition of the book is vast — as it tries to address the science behind environmental claims as well as the communication strategies used to promulgate them. Shellenberger weighs in on big scientific, philosophical, and even psychological questions that perhaps warrant more circumspection than certainty.

The book is crammed with personal-interest stories, told in a conversational style. We meet a farmer in Africa complaining about wild gorillas eating her sweet potatoes and having no redress, a young woman in Indonesia who moves from the farm to the city, and an NGO staffer who names what technologies she thinks should and should not be available to them. Apocalypse Never is autobiographical in that it marks the conversion of the author from a young activist who embraced the reigning anti-technology bias of environmentalism to a more mature analyst who sees how modern forms of energy and agriculture can improve the environment and the lives of billions. On the flip side, Shellenberger has become convinced of the great damage done by preventing the poor of the world from having modern amenities.

10. Kathryn Jean Lopez argues that along with the legacy of Margaret Sanger, abortion-on-demand also needs to be canceled. From the piece:

My friend Professor Charles Camosy, of Fordham University, officially quit the Democratic Party in the past year. It had long ago left him. He’s been recently sending around a petition to help the party confront its abortion extremism, to make room again for people who do not think that abortion is some kind of sacramental rite, an essential tenet not just of party membership but of respectful civil society. This virtue-signaling business leaves no room for debate over fundamentals that are becoming matters of tyrannical ascent.

In California, the Junípero Serra statues have all but disappeared — some by government decree, others by vandals, still others voluntarily — with the hope that they can come out again when the current hysteria has subsided. Serra, a Franciscan missionary, was a leaven in a brutal culture, with a selfless heart for others to whom he had no obligation other than what his Christian faith demanded of him. Would that all Christians lived like that (I say to myself as much as to anyone)! Would that we would learn from history: the good and the bad, without these frenzied surface-area denunciations!

In the case of Planned Parenthood and its political party (which extends beyond the Democrats, although the Democrats have resolutely pledged allegiance to their creed), making this Sanger reconsideration a healthy exercise would require taking a look at abortion itself and who it most affects, what it does to women and children and families. As a people, we cloak ourselves in all kinds of euphemisms when it comes to abortion — and other difficult issues. But how about talking to women about what abortion has done to them?

11. Jimmy Quinn reveals the ChiCom leadership’s lies about Red China’s concentration camps. From the beginning of the piece:

In the most comprehensive accounting of Beijing’s Xinjiang-related disinformation efforts to date, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Washington-based NGO, launched a report yesterday on how the Chinese Communist Party has worked to stall international action on its actions in the autonomous region, which a growing chorus of observers describes as a genocide.

Since 2017, Beijing has operated a network of detention facilities in China’s far West, interning what researchers say is upwards of one million Uighur Muslims. In addition to the camps, which Chinese officials describe as political “re-education” facilities, many perform forced labor for companies that sell materials to multinational corporations. The detainees are, according to reports, tortured, subjected to forced sterilizations, and, in some cases, killed. The situation in Xinjiang represents one of this century’s most widespread mass atrocities, and the CCP is covering it up.

When reports about the camps started to emerge a couple of years ago, Beijing neglected to comment on them. Eventually, though, it had to address the allegations, denying them for the first time in 2018. Starting later in the year, though, the CPP acknowledged the camps’ existence for the first time, arguing for their necessity as part of a campaign to root out terrorism and extremist activity in Xinjiang. Of course, the truth is that the detention drive is indiscriminate, sweeping up ordinary people. The evolution of this narrative has dovetailed with an increasing use of state propaganda instruments to push it. The name of the UHRP report, “’The Happiest Muslims in the World,’” comes from the CCP’s assertions that Uighurs are happy people who enjoy dancing — in other words, that Beijing has brought much-needed economic development, not egregious human-rights abuses.

12. More Quinn: Jimmy looks at the Tik-Tok kowtow to Beijing, and US media stooges playing along with the Red party line. From the piece:

Will that appease anyone concerned about TikTok’s potential security risk? Probably not. But one important constituency already buys the argument. Tech journalists at some of the country’s most influential media outlets have for weeks argued that the app is no different from its multinational social media competitors. While government officials and privacy experts have warned that China’s invasive data-privacy practices and TikTok’s lack of transparency represent a problem, some writers regularly compare it to U.S.-based companies, concluding that the risk posed by TikTok does not seem much worse than the failings of its competitors. The latest column making this point, by NYT’s Kevin Roose, goes a step further, asking, “Instead of banning TikTok, or forcing ByteDance to sell it to Americans, why not make an example of it by turning it into the most transparent, privacy-protecting, ethically governed tech platform in existence?”

The piece centers on this call to regulate TikTok alongside the other Big Tech companies, but he broaches the topic of competition in a conversation with a colleague about his Monday column. “It’s Facebook’s only real competitor, and the creative culture on the app would be a shame to lose,” he said.

That all might be true, but this needs to be balanced against other concerns, such as ByteDance’s cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party to cover up the mass internment of Uighur Muslims on Douyin, the version of TikTok that it offers in China. While ByteDance is not a state-owned enterprise, it does still operate as any Chinese company is obliged to these days. Since 2017 it has had an internal party committee, and CCP members at the company participate in sessions where they study Xi Jinping’s speeches and other facets of party ideology. Even conceding the point that other social-media companies should face more stringent regulation, new data-privacy standards will not change ByteDance’s allegiance to Beijing. As Roose admits, TikTok’s handling of user data is opaque at best — something that, due to ByteDance’s CCP ties, might not change too much, even with Mayer’s transparency assurances.

13. More Red China: Cameron Hilditch covers the NBA engaging in the world’s oldest profession. From the piece:

Uighurs in concentration camps don’t buy sneakers, but the Communists who put them there do. When push comes to shove, that’s all that really matters to the National Basketball Association, an organization led exclusively, it seems, by protoplasmic, invertebrate robber-barons who put in their work days sucking greedily on the teat of the Chinese Communist Party. There’s simply no other conclusion to be reached after reading yesterday’s excellent ESPN investigation into the NBA’s activities in the Middle Kingdom.

The red flags signaling the league’s craven propensity for self-abasement were first flown at full-mast last October, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, touching off a firestorm. Morey was forced to apologize, and a slew of basketball stars across the country rushed to profess their epistemic shortcomings with regard to Chinese history when pressed, as if a nuanced understanding of how the tributary system worked during the Qing dynasty was a necessary prerequisite for determining whether or not democracy is a good idea. I’m sure that before Joe Louis enlisted in the United States Army in 1942, he took care to educate himself about the Bismarckian unification of Germany, lest his moral evaluation of Hitler be impeded by a lack of informed historical empathy for the Nazis.

Moreygate alone sufficed to expose the NBA as an amoral money-grubbing cult. But if we needed more evidence, it has now been amply supplied by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada in ESPN’s new report, which is based on interviews with former NBA employees involved in the league’s player-development programs in China. The market for the NBA in China is worth about $5 billion, and was built on the success of the now-retired Chinese player Yao Ming. According to two of the former NBA employees who spoke with ESPN, the league’s player-development academies in China had one salient mandate from the powers that be: “Find another Yao.” Sold to the world as an altruistic, bridge-building venture that offers a holistic education and opportunities for self-improvement to young Chinese men, the academies are in fact little more than human basketball farms designed to breed the next native cash cow for NBA executives.

14. Robert VerBruggen finds that science, genuflecting to politics, is often unscientific. From the piece:

It’s too bad that this happened too late for Stuart Ritchie to discuss it in his new book Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth, because it illustrates all of his main points. Science Fictions is a handy guide to what can go wrong in science, nicely blending eye-popping anecdotes with comprehensive studies. As the subtitle suggests, Ritchie is concerned with four issues in particular: fraud, bias, negligence, and hype. He explains how each of these get in the way of the truth, and makes a number of suggestions for fixing the process.

The chapter on fraud is easily the most harrowing, because it involves scientists who deliberately mislead their peers and the public. Here we meet Paolo Macchiarini, who claimed to be able to transplant tracheas, including artificial tracheas, by “seeding” them with some of the recipient’s stem cells so the recipient’s body wouldn’t later reject them. Macchiarini published several papers touting his successes. It later turned out that his patients were dying, but it took years for the scandal to come to light and for the institutions involved to admit their mistakes.

Frauds such as manipulated images and fake data can be easy enough to catch when a critic is looking for them, but most journals and peer reviewers tend to start from the assumption that scientists are at least well-intentioned. Heck, fraudsters often are well-intentioned in a perverse sense, trying to advance theories they genuinely believe to be true and important without going through the hassle of proving them. Yet in surveys, about 2 percent of scientists admit to faking data at least once, and a review of thousands of biology papers containing “western blots” (a technique to detect proteins) found that 4 percent included duplicated images.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Everyone’s talking about Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Armond White is listening too. He hears twaddle. From the review:

Anyone who takes Swift to be merely insipid misses the proven fact that she is a pop-star demagogue selling an imbecilic moral message to a generation. And anyone puzzled by all the white kids heading the Black Lives/Antifa riots can find an explanation for it in this right-now phenomenon. Swift’s bubble-gum pop (CDB variety?) and simple-minded platitudes echo the same bland self-righteousness we hear from journalists who broadcast the latest PC buzzwords, bleating about “justice” and “peaceful protests” as if these were neutral terms.

A Taylor Swift love song such as “Invisible String” is not neutral but bratty in its bland self-glorification and self-pity. (“Bold was the waitress who told me I looked like an American singer.”) Her lyrics on this 16-track album are evidence of an education system that has dulled performers and their audiences. Swift chirps, “Isn’t it just so pretty to think there are some invisible strings tying you to me?” “Pretty,” a petty measure, voices self-satisfied inanity that is childish (formerly girlish). She marvels at the phenomena of love, existence, providence but just can’t find the right words. Such inarticulateness, not empathy, is what’s behind the nonwhite chanting by Black Lives/Antifa. Folklore is not a great personal album like Joni Mitchell’s For the Roses, but this substitution of facile emotion — shared by a mass demographic — for genuine thought represents a sea change.

2. More Armond: He assembles an Antifa Top-25 movie list. From the beginning of the piece:

Lately, many Americans have recognized that the past several generations of students have been indoctrinated into notions on history and behavior, taught by Marxism-infatuated educators, that encourage a new kind of dissidence, unrecognizable from the anti-war demonstrations of the Sixties. Blurring loose notions of anti-fascist activity and inverting the meaning of black solidarity have come to define a miseducated demographic that has itself misappropriated racial virtue and become fascist.

Movies have been part of these students’ pop-culture instruction — and their political instruction. Should bored college kids ever go back to school, hit the seminars alongside the fentanyl, they’ll get a syllabus, a course outline similar to the ones that already taught them ideas on social conduct and personal beliefs. And you need to know what it looks like. So this Saul Alinsky–style syllabus outlines the notions of history and behavior common among contemporary pedagogues (and reviewers); it explains today’s generational unrest. Here are 25 films that spoiled a generation.

The Dark Knight (2008): Comic-book culture’s subversion of heroism into nihilism took root with Christopher Nolan’s pompous seriousness. Heath Ledger’s goblin (the Face of the Millennium) joked, “Why so serious?” — turning life into Halloween and eventually taking more lives than his own.

Vertigo (1958): Hitchcock’s most obsessive love story became a how-to manual for “people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other to fit a kind of [social] ideal.” That’s Sight and Sound editor Nick James nailing the degraded use of good filmmaking to negative purposes, when Vertigo overtook Citizen Kane in 2015 as film culture’s new favorite “Best Film.”

3. Oh Melanie: Kyle Smith remembers Olivia  de Havilland. From the piece:

As it was onscreen, so it was in life: De Havilland was a luminous, delicate beauty in such films as Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, They Died with their Boots On, and the four other pictures she made with her Warner Bros. stablemate Errol Flynn. But she did something that took audacious courage. It was a breathtaking leap into the unknown when she sued Warners in 1943. This decision might well have cost her her career; the studio system was a tightly guarded oligopoly, and Jack Warner’s fury at her might well have effectively blacklisted her. Instead, she won a landmark victory and went on to make films in which her character was the lead, notably her two Oscar-winning roles in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949).

De Havilland’s victory was the first crushing blow to a studio system that limited actors both financially and creatively, forcing them to take whatever parts the studio chiefs assigned to them, at salary. Thanks in part to de Havilland, Hollywood is now a place where actors freely jump from studio to studio and share in the profits of their work to such a degree that Johnny Depp can earn $650 million from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. More important than that is the creative freedom of being able to escape typecasting. Olivia de Havilland was petite — 5′ 3″ but she proved a dauntless force, onscreen and off.

4. John Loftus considers The Duke, as both hero and anti-hero. From the beginning of the commentary:

Whether or not John Wayne’s statue ought to be removed from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Ca., whether or not the eponymous airport ought to be renamed, and whether or not Wayne’s exhibit at the University of Southern California ought to be excised from the film school’s illustrious legacy, the characters John Wayne played in his timeless Westerns ought to be defended — as symbols.

The characters Ringo Kid, Ethan Edwards, and John T. Chance are important for conservatives because they embody longstanding principles and traits traditionally defended by conservatives: masculine virtues (namely, grit and stoicism) and the Christian conception of mankind, which holds that we are fallen and flawed but capable of striving toward improvement and ultimately redemption.

Some of Wayne’s characters stumble upon their dilemmas unwittingly, seeking to capitalize on the moment for selfish reasons. They change and develop, however, to varying degrees. Ringo Kid’s character arc, for example, is more gradual and nuanced than that of Ethan Edwards, who, far, far from being heroic, changes on a dime in a single scene. Regardless, Wayne’s heroes and anti-heroes encapsulate the above-mentioned traits and serve as vessels for ideas currently under assault.

In John Ford’s Stagecoach, Wayne plays the outlaw, Ringo Kid, for his career-launching role. At first glance, Ringo seems untrustworthy — another depraved loner entangled with the law, a prison escapee. But as the story progresses, we learn that Ringo had been falsely accused and that he ditched prison to avenge his brother and father, who were murdered by the antagonist, Luke Plummer. He’s truly a figure that cancel culture would never permit to exist.

5. Jack Butler finds little to like in the Star Wars prequels. From the commentary:

But from my point of view, the prequels are terrible. Their claim to novelty is misleading at best, their story is nonsensical, and their effects and characters are ridiculous. They actively defile the movies they are supposed to precede.

To a person concerned with decadence — a kind of comfortable yet staid cultural holding pattern in which an already-existing civilization circles endlessly around its past achievements without generating anything new — novelty is high praise. To bestow upon the prequels this honor, even if they failed to achieve it properly, is a bold claim. It is also an incorrect one. It is wrong on its face, belied, in the first place, by the very idea of a prequel, which is to elaborate upon things we already know. And it is further confounded by the evidence of repetition that abounds in the stories themselves. Oh, look: A Skywalker destroys the enemy’s command ship! That’s new! Oh, look: A Skywalker loses a limb! Unprecedented. Oh, look: a younger Jedi loses his mentor! Haven’t seen that before. The whole enterprise exists in conscious, deliberate, rote relation to what came before, relying on allusion and reference and what one could charitably call “symmetry” to fill in the gaps left by vacuous storytelling. It is worth remembering, in this regard, what Lucas was content with doing in the years before the prequels came out (and what he continued to do after they were released): endlessly tinkering around the edges of what he had already made, throwing in splashes (or splotches) of CGI, making concrete changes that were often controversial and sometimes indisputably degradations of his prior work. He applied the same spirit to the prequels. It is hard to conceive of a better example of decadence.

The most frequently invoked example of the prequel trilogy’s innovation is the political narrative that forms its backdrop. Say what you will about the prequels, this contention goes, at least they tried to tell an interesting political story. Political theory is pretty far down on the list of what got people crowding into theaters in 1977; the “politics” of the original trilogy as it actually turned out were simplistic, owing more to Ming the Merciless and pulp sci-fi than any serious study of world affairs. But in Lucas’s bizarre conception, this somehow evolved both from and into a critique of the Vietnam War (American involvement, not Communist perfidy, naturally). What eventually became Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now started as a Lucas project that existed in a kind of thematic relationship with what Star Wars ultimately became. Though these two properties would evolve away from each other, the Vietnam War protest element became even more apparent by Return of the Jedi, when the mighty, tech-savvy, and numerically superior Empire was laid low by a technologically primitive, jungle-residing force — yes, that’s right, the Ewoks are the Vietcong. Lucas, then, was no stranger to injecting his superficial politics into his story and thinking this somehow profound when it was actually at best a distraction in something most enjoyed by children. Thus, when by Revenge of the Sith, an evil Anakin Skywalker is paraphrasing George W. Bush’s Iraq War declaration that “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists,” we see not novelty but the decadence of a Baby Boomer wanting to have himself another Vietnam War counterculture moment.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will offer recommendations on the twelve ballot propositions California voters will face this November — complete with time-saving tips for less ambitious voters. Listen here.

2. On the first of three ew episodes of The Editors (Episode 240), Rich, Charlie, and MBD discuss the mayor of Portland, the latest Coronavirus numbers, and the opening night of the MLB season. Listen here.

3. On The Editors (Episode 241), Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the problems that have already arisen in MLB, the likelihood of an NFL season, Joe Biden’s veepstakes, and whether the schools will open this year. Listen here.

4. On The Editors (Episode 242), Rich, Charlie, and MBD discuss President Trump’s suggestion that the election be delayed, ask whether the GOP needs to be blown up, and review Bill Barr’s trip to the House of Representatives. Listen here.

5. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the tactics of the police in Portland, Oregon, and Bill Barr’s upcoming testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Listen here.

6. On the new Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss Paul McCartney’s second band, “Zombie Reaganism,” and the Lincoln Project. Listen here.

7. On The Great Books, John J. Miller and Hillsdale prof David Whalen discuss Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. Listen here.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. In the New York Post, amigo David Bahnsen appeals to NYC business leaders to end the Big Apple’s Big Brother semi-permanent lockdown. From the article:

I am neither qualified to nor interested in commenting on the specific pragmatic ramifications of your company’s work operations. My agenda is not your company’s working efficiencies, something you are exponentially more suited to understand than I or anyone else is.

Rather, my concern is the downstream impact that will result from the city not being open for business — with people not coming to work, with New York no longer being New York again.

Who is captured in this downstream impact I refer to? The dry cleaners no longer having men and women drop off their suits for weekly press. The shoe shiners no longer seeing men sit in their chairs for a morning shine. The deli workers without people on a lunch break to order a sandwich. The coffee-shop folks not getting tips to brew up iced coffee. The busboys not getting shifts because restaurants won’t open without businesses reopened. The bartenders not serving an evening drink before someone jumps on a train back to Connecticut out of Grand Central.

This is what I refer to — not merely the effects on our white-collar jobs and industries, but the withering of the invisible hand of the New York economy, which harms those who have been disproportionately damaged by the crisis.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Stephen Brady sees Sweden winning the COVIS War. From the analysis:

If lockdowns worked, we would expect Sweden, which did not impose one, to top the mortality table, and for the pandemic curve to have risen exponentially, as predicted by the notorious Imperial College model. This predicted that without a lockdown Sweden would have 44,000 dead by now, rather than the actual figure as of July 24 of 5,676.

Significantly, about half, possibly more, of the COVID deaths in Sweden were nothing to do with the question of lockdowns. There, as in Britain and certain US states, they were caused by decanting infected old people from hospitals into care homes in the panic to avoid health systems “being overwhelmed” (which never happened there or here). As Helena Nordenstedt, clinical epidemiologist and researcher in global health, is reported as saying in the BBC article, “The strategy was to flatten the curve, not overwhelm health care capacity. That seems to have worked. If you take care homes out of the equation, things actually look much brighter.”

Additionally, in Sweden, if not in the UK, old people sick with COVID who could have recovered were, it appears, denied treatment and so died needlessly because old people with this disease were not admitted to hospitals, again because it was feared, again wrongly on the basis of panicky “models,” that there was insufficient capacity. As this article reveals, younger patients were prioritised and older ones left needlessly to die.[3]

It was this, not failing to lock down, that Anders Tegnell, the Chief Epidemiologist to whom Sweden’s politicians widely handed over policy in the pandemic, has repeatedly said he regrets. This is tendentiously reported, again and again, as Dr. Tegnell “regretting Sweden’s no-lockdown policy,” whereas he has made it clear that he harbours no such regrets.

The BBC report notes that the Swedish economy has shrunk, without balancing this by noting that it has done so by much less than those countries which shut down their economies through lockdown, nor does it acknowledge that the impact on the Swedish economy is a knock-on result of the economic implosion of the lockdown countries. Swedish exports from companies such as Volvo, Scania, and Saab could hardly escape the consequences of the collective lockdown of the countries with which they do business.

3. At The American Mind, Juliana Pilon explores the Marxist foundation of Black Lives Matter. From the end of the essay:

But what makes the Marxist narrative exponentially more powerful than its ecclesiastic rivals is the same dualist dialectic that allows it to get away with, well, murder. For whether any BLM members, sympathizers, or just fellow-marchers are even vaguely aware of the underlying millenarian sophistry, so long as they contribute to the “inevitable” Armageddon, they’re on the right side of history. Idealistic students, thugs looking for loot, pro-Palestinian .activists: the wave is inclusive.

Latest on the bandwagon are the capitalists themselves. Writes Member of the European Parliament Alexandra Phillips: “The rapid spread of protests across the West under the Black Lives Matter banner has left a political breathlessness from Baltimore to Berlin…. In a world where nothing is exempt from moral judgment, being on trend means signing up to radical political movements.” And après nous, l’apocalypse . . . .

The abolition of “class inequality” has served as the secular equivalent of Paradise for over a century, its resistance to refutation categorical. But the continuing appeal of revolutionary absolutism is evidence of a deeply entrenched need to feel virtuous by seeking an apocalyptic erasure of “systemic inequality,” by demonizing particular classes. What fellow travelers hoping to be spared fail to realize is that unless all lives matter, none does.

4. At Real Clear Public Affairs, Scott B. Nelson we are living under a tyranny of abstractions. From the commentary:

The wide berth given to the charge of racism thus allows for great flexibility, enabling Black Lives Matter movements to spread across the world. While other countries may not share America’s particular narrative about slavery, most can point to some act of discrimination in their past. Discrimination of some sort is inevitable, since every community that comes into existence does so with a shared sense of who it is and who it is not. Unfortunately, racial differences are one of many ways that groups have historically distinguished themselves from one another. It was the genius of the American Founding Fathers to lay the framework for a community based on what all humans can believe in — namely, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this shared conviction there are no masters and slaves; all humans are dignified and partake of true equality.

This clear and noble project is now being defiled by incoherence and the tyranny of ideological clichés. If both the problem and the guilty parties are unclear, then the putative solutions will be just as unclear. If the problem is the system itself, can it be reformed from within, or will the reforms themselves be tinged with racism? The Left’s inability to discuss this problem coherently is symptomatic of a deeper problem: its inability and unwillingness to think politically and tackle concrete challenges, which would require effort and commitment beyond petulance and sloganeering. For the Left, society is a homogenous mass, to be molded according to the vagaries of social justice.

The Left’s view of homogenous society is replicated in its view of history. Gone is the drama of the American narrative, with all its successes and setbacks, the struggles and triumphs of its great men and women of all races. Instead, everything has been filtered through the lens of race, and history becomes nothing but a web of injustice. Like Dante in The Inferno, the progressives witness no change, only endless punishment. Time is nonexistent. There is no ugly past triumphantly overcome, nor a bright future to hope for, only the eternal damnation of the imperfect present. There are no heroes, only villains. Progress, it turns out, is unknown to the progressive.

5. History This Ain’t: At Commentary, Noah Rothman recounts the false claims of the 1619 Project. From the analysis:

Last December, five historians — Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, and James Oakes — took issue with the 1619 Project’s central and most contentious claim: that the nation’s founding date is not 1776 but a century and a half earlier. “[T]he project asserts the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain’ in order to ensure slavery would continue,’” these scholars wrote, “This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding — yet every statement offered by the Project to validate it is false.” The Times took note and, accordingly, corrected the “original language” to reflect the facts while still defending “the basic point” of the offending essay.

But that was hardly the only source of frustration among academicians. Historians took exception to one essay’s contention that the disaggregation of the black family can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries. They balked at the Project’s exhumation of a demonstrably false assertion that slavery disproportionately contributed to the country’s wealth. Most of all, they objected to the Project’s self-aggrandizing claim that the study of slavery — both its origins and its aftermath — is an underexplored field of study and instruction.

The Pulitzer Prize Committee subversively adjudicated this dispute when it awarded Hannah-Jones the Pulitzer for the category “commentary” — not some more empirical genre like, for example, history. Nevertheless, the Times maintained that the Project’s most controversial essays remain “grounded in the historical record” and are not “driven by ideology rather than historical understanding.”

Apparently, Nikole Hannah-Jones disagrees.

“I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history,” she recently averred. “It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory.” Hannah-Jones continued: “The crazy thing is, the 1619 Project is using history and reporting to make an argument. It never pretended to be a history.” Indeed, when it comes to primary education, “the curriculum is supplementary and cannot and was never intended to supplant U.S. history curriculum.” That is, indeed, quite reasonable. Even if we assume K-12 students are equipped to “interrogate” the “narrative” of America’s Founding, which they are not, such an enterprise amounts to indoctrination if the student has not yet internalized the basics. You cannot “critically deconstruct” a narrative with which you’re unfamiliar.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti sees a dying Christianity, and of the nation’s essence, in the cathedral fires of France. From the report:

The fire at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of Nantes is believed to have been started deliberately. It was only a year ago that a massive blaze nearly totally gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. After that, the historic Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris caught fire, as well as the Basilica of Saint Denis (the same depicted in the painting posted by Christiansen).

“The fire in Nantes Cathedral, after Notre-Dame de Paris, should make our elites reflect on the great disorder and the great change, decivilization is underway”, Philippe de Villiers, the author and former French minister commented.

“In France there is a low-noise destruction of the Christian roots”, said the philosopher Michel Onfray. “There are about one or two anti-Christian acts a day and it takes a burning cathedral to start talking about it”.

Six major French cathedrals and churches have caught fire during the last year and a half: Notre Dame, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Sulpice, Lavaur and Pontoise. Perhaps that is why historian Rémi Brague called the fire at Notre Dame “our 9/11”. The Observatory of Religious Heritage listed a total of 20 French churches that caught fire in just one year.

Little publicized and less condemned, attacks against Christian places of worship in France are multiplying and reaching alarming proportions. The Nantes fire was simply the latest in a succession of church destructions that have been going on for years and have apparently not scandalized anyone.

Four years ago, the Saint-Nicolas Basilica in Nantes was almost destroyed by fire. It had completed a renovation in 2014 and was in perfect condition. The first reports in the French media about the vandalism of churches were published ten years ago. Last year, there was one week in which four French churches were desecrated.

7. This Guy’s Gonna Need an Asbestos Coffin: At The College Fix, Matt Lamb reports on the UC Santa Barbara teaching assistant who tweets about going back in time to “assassinate Jesus.” From the article:

A UC Santa Barbara teaching assistant recently tweeted about killing Jesus Christ.

Tim Snediker, who is also a doctoral student in religious studies at the public university in California, tweeted late Sunday night that he would “assassinate Jesus of Nazareth” if he had a time machine.

In a follow-up tweet, he said he would also consider “murdering him before his baptism.”

Both tweets have since been deleted along with Snediker’s Twitter account. Before deleting his account, he changed his profile to say “Tim has repented, now he wants to save Jesus.”

The tweets drew quick criticism on social media.

Rod Dreher, a conservative writer, tweeted screenshots of the tweet and wrote “If you go to his faculty page, you’ll see the department statement backing BLM. It says that the study of religion teaches that ‘human life is holy because God is holy.’ Hmm. . . .”

8. Our Katie Yoder, writing for Townhall, goes after Vanity Fair reporter Sonia Saraiya’s bizarre claim that Hollywood is too soft on conservative women. From the article:

Saraiya’s stereotypical assumptions that approach sexism and are ones that conservative women tire of correcting. There’s the implication that women, because they are women, should prioritize “women’s issues” above, say, the economy or a Supreme Court pick. Then there’s the assumption that all women should support so-called “women’s issues,” like abortion, when many conservative women recognize that abortion destroys women in the womb and targets baby girls with sex-selection. There’s also the assumption that women should vote for a woman because she is a woman, when, in reality, they vote for whom they consider the best candidate.

Still, Saraiya concluded that “When Hollywood takes on conservative women, the empathy often feels grafted on.” For example, she said, “The Iron Lady” portrayed Margaret Thatcher like a saint.

“Imagine a liberal female politician being treated to this kind of hagiography — Hillary Clinton, say,” Saraiya said. “Imagine the vitriol.”

Instead, conservative women “get to have it both ways,” she complained.

“Thanks to feminists laboriously pushing society into the modern era, they have the advantage of being a protected class,” she wrote. “Yet conservative white women in particular also have an ideology that elevates them over women from other racial or socioeconomic backgrounds.”

In other words, “They believe they’re superior to the rest of their gender” and “become honorary men.”

Baseballery

The daydreams take us to long ago, when there was no pitch count or designated hitter or COVID or Astroturf . . . or the St. Louis Browns or Philadelphia Athletics. What trauma: that spurt — in the early 1950s — when baseball’s original franchises headed for hoped-for greener pastures. The Browns played their last game in St. Louis in 1953 before becoming the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, and a year later the As were calling Kansas City home. The Boston Braves started it all when they headed for Milwaukee in 1953.

So, consumed by franchise frivolities and oddities, one ponders: What was the first game played between two relocated baseball teams?

That occurred on May 3, 1955, as the last-place (5-13) on-the-road Baltimore Orioles faced the 7-9 Kansas City Athletics at Municipal Stadium for a Tuesday-night game before 15,953 fans. The home team prevailed, 4-3, courtesy of centerfielder Bill Wilson’s three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th.

The man who threw the first pitch in the first-ever MLB regular season game between relocated franchises was the A’s rookie southpaw, Art Ceccarelli. It was his premier career performance — he would compile a 9-18 record over five seasons with the A’s, Orioles, and Cubs (his greatest moment came in 1959, when the then-Chicago starter blanked the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax, 3-0) — and he went seven innings, giving up six hits and two runs, earning no decision. The starting pitcher for the Orioles was former Dodger bullpen ace Erv Palica, who gave up all four of the A’s runs, earning him the loss. The game’s very first batter was Palica’s former Brooklyn teammate, infielder Billy Cox, playing in his last season. He popped up to first.

We make special note of this game because of the thrill when we saw the name of Art Ceccarelli, who hailed from the Constitution State parts in which Your Humble Correspondent now abides. His nephew, Barry B, is a fan of this missive, and earlier this year he introduced his widowed aunt, the lovely and truly beautiful Mrs. Ceccarelli, to Editor Rich and Yours Truly.

Hail Uncle Art!

A Dios

Stand up for your beliefs. It’s less of a conservative thing to do than it is a lefty habit, no? We — many bona fide members of the Leave Us Along Coalition — don’t go around giving relentless de facto morality tests, particularly on social-media platforms, used as a tactic to flush out political foes (i.e, racists!) and to project moral superiority for all to see.  But there may come (it may have already) a point where you can no longer remain on the sidelines. The girl in the song said “Billy, keep your head low,” but the reality is circumstances often don’t cooperate. Such as when they’ve brought the fight to you. Pray then for wisdom, for courage, for strength. You’re going to need all of that.

Blessings and Abundant Graces on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who takes on all comers at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Do make that NR donation please. It’s done securely here. If you prefer to show your support by check, please make it payable to “National Review” and mail it to National Review, ATTN: Summer 2020 Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036. Many thanks in advance.

 

National Review

Cancel Your Own Go**am Sedition

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

One can imagine the volt-crammed thunderbolts Bill Buckley would be hurling today at the new-fangled Marxists whose great grandpas and grannies he first engaged in battle back in the early 1950s. The author of some five dozen books, one of the best was one of his last, the 2007 collection Cancel Your Own Go**am Subscription (asterisks provided by Your Third Commandment-Sensitive Correspondent). The title clearly lends itself to the roiling cultural revolution turning American cities into places of mayhem and anarchy.

Bill was a realist. Convinced conservatism’s central battles — against the indoctrinating Left, against radical Islamofascism — would never be a thing of the past, he planned for National Review, his prized creation (approaching its 65th anniversary this November) to be in it for the long haul, to fight battles even Bill might not have foreseen: for example, that the liberal-biased media would itself become, institution-wide, a thing of hard-core ideology, of fabrication, of madness, of canceling.

Bill founded NR in the company of ex-Communists who knew all too well that in places Soviet, the truth was an enemy of unmitigated power. The original NR crew knew well the practices under Uncle Joe — that the enemies of the vanguard (which always included former members of the vanguard) were not only to be eliminated from the planet, but from history (of course, after first pleading guilty). Cancelling — whether through the old ways of a bullet in the back of the head, document forgeries, photo retouching, or the new ways of social-media stonings — is and always has been a critical Marxist tool.

From its 1955 origins, this was the very kind of history National Review was tasked to stand athwart, to yell STOP at, to battle and beat back with truth and wisdom and smart-a**ery. Rich Lowry and the current crew have been bequeathed this duty, have embraced it, and are diligent and unafraid to carry it out, now, a month hence, a year and a decade and a century hence. This is, after all, in the term used by great James Burnham, a “protracted conflict.” Were truer words ever spoken?

About that hence: There is no hence without you. NR operates under a fiscal-year structure which concludes soon, which prompts us to embark on a webathon. We seek to raise a sorely needed $250,000 (twice that and then some is the true deficit, in case you were wondering) from fellow conservatives who are keen to see NR stay strong during this exhaustive fight against these agents of sedition — against these incendiary ideologues who lie about America and about Americans, these twisted malcontents who deride our core beliefs and the blessings of liberty, these caustic hypocrites who seek the destruction. We ask this: that you lend NR material aid to stay in the thick of it, of this fight that is our fight and your fight, so we do not falter because of lack of funds, so we continue to grow because of the confidence that NR is a reliable source of real news, of sane analysis, of sharp criticism of the foes of liberty.

Will you help us . . .  cancel this sedition?

That’s a direct request. What might be your response? If you need more incentive to lend support, perhaps Rich Lowry’s appeal will sway you. If you need no persuasion, then donate here.

Speaking of Our Esteemed Editor . . . he finds official Portland (fun fact: George H. W. Bush’s term for the long-time rioter haven was “Little Beirut”) to be a disgrace, and he’s right to contend the hotbed of destruction and Antifa theatrics and Pelosi-backslapped mutineers is such. From Rich’s piece:

Although the federal courthouse has done nothing to provoke protesters and has been standing at the same spot since 1997, it has been a constant target. Protesters have smashed its glass doors, covered its exterior with graffiti, and repeatedly attempted to light it on fire. This has been happening since at least early July.

True to form, protesters over the weekend took down fencing and lit a fire at the building’s entryway. As a statement from the Portland police put it, “dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats, and hockey sticks approached the doors” of the courthouse — but surely it was just a misunderstanding that led the federal officers to believe they had to repulse them with tear gas.

This isn’t hard: It is the people attacking federal property who bear moral responsibility for what’s happening in Portland. In all the cities around the country where nihilistic mobs aren’t trying to burn down symbols of our justice system, there’s no enhanced presence of federal officers.

The feds haven’t been wearing badges with their names and have been using unmarked cars — for fear of retaliation against the officers involved and mob actions against vehicles. Both are unquestionably legal tactics. According to DHS, the officers are wearing the insignias of their agencies and unique identifiers; they are arresting only people suspected of involvement of attacks on federal property; and they are identifying themselves to arrestees, although not to crowds.

Perhaps these officers should be more clearly identified, but there’s no case whatsoever for calling them, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, “stormtroopers” who are “kidnapping protesters.” The arrest of a man named Mark Pettibone has gotten a lot of press attention. He says he did nothing wrong and was arrested by federal agents, who took him to the federal courthouse and read him his Miranda rights, before releasing him.

Andy McCarthy, at FoxNews.com, weighed in on Portland’s lunacy, arguing what should be the perspective from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In his piece, Andy argued that the President has a means of responding, one based in his Constitutional duty / obligation as POTUS to enforce federal laws, pinhead mayors and do-squat governors be damned. From the commentary:

Back in June, in the mayhem that followed George Floyd’s death after being arrested by Minneapolis police, there was a raging public debate about whether the president should deploy the National Guard and perhaps other U.S. military forces to stabilize cities and reestablish order.

As a matter of law and history, the commander-in-chief has such authority; there are, however, certain circumstances in which the Constitution calls for waiting until the state government has asked for federal military assistance.

Law enforcement is a completely different matter.

Enforcing federal law is an independent obligation of the chief executive. Consequently, the president and the Justice Department never have to wait for a state to ask for federal intervention.

Federal law enforcement agencies may and routinely do take investigative and enforcement action within the territorial jurisdiction of the states.

They need not provide notice to, much less a request for permission from, the state government and its police agencies.

Andy explores POTUS alternatives further at The Hill. Check it out. All that asked, all that recommended, there is so very much in this edition of the WJ. Do enjoy the smorgasbord of conservatism that awaits you.

Editorials

1. John Lewis passed away. The civil rights hero deserved to be recognized for such. Also worth remembering: his partisan hackery. From the editorial:

Lewis was beaten 40 times by cops, state troopers, or hostile mobs; he spent 31 days in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm prison. He was the first chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a post he was ousted from by Stokely Carmichael, who was eager to use other weapons. After his years of activism, he entered politics, contesting a primary in 1986 for a congressional seat against another young black leader, Julian Bond. Bond was polished, lighter-skinned. Lewis told primary voters they should pick a work horse, not a show horse. He beat Bond narrowly, then won and held his Atlanta seat ever since.

And his congressional career was . . . almost indistinguishable from any other left-wing black Democrat. He voted against wars, and for programs that often distressingly failed to deliver their idealistic promises. In 2010, he was one of three congressmen who claimed that Tea Party members screamed racial epithets and spat at them as they walked from Capitol Hill. The charge of spitting was withdrawn, and no tape was ever produced that captured the epithets.

Yet in that aged form, encrusted by partisanship and reverence, that brave young man could still be discerned. His fellow Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich was wont to remind conservative, white audiences that Lewis bore literal scars from the fight for civil rights — rights that were promised in the post–Civil War amendments, but took a century, and the efforts of the brave, to make real. R.I.P.

2. President Trump’s COVID performance — magnified on his interview with Chris Wallace — is harming his presidency and chance to be reelected. From the editorial:

His responses on COVID in particular were characteristic of his posture through much of the crisis. He blamed testing for the recent increase in cases — partly true, but positivity rates have soared in the states with major spikes in cases. He claimed, falsely, that other countries don’t do tests. He complained that no one talks about Mexico and Brazil, which aren’t really material to what’s happening in, say, Florida. He argued over our mortality rate, not quite accurately. And so on.

The overall sense was of the president trying to litigate his way out of admitting any U.S. failures or the seriousness of the crisis (although he did at one point say, in the midst of all the fog, “I take responsibility always for everything”).

Given that the virus had reached our shores and begun spreading in communities earlier than first thought, and given the understandable hesitation of authorities around the country to take the extreme step of locking down, it was inevitable that we would get hit hard like many other advanced Western countries. After initial stumbles on testing, the administration’s substantive response has often been adept and energetic; any fair-minded observer should admire, for example, Admiral Brett Giroir’s work supporting the testing supply chain.

The administration is often criticized for not nationalizing the overall response, but this would have required more in-depth knowledge of on-the-ground conditions in various localities than the federal government is ever going to have. As for pushing for reopening, the president was right to want to do it — lockdowns are a blunt-force instrument that have considerable downsides — but the way he went about expressing that view contributed to the unsteadiness of his leadership.

3. We have some thoughts as to what should be left out of the COVID relief bill. From the editorial:

Senate Republicans have made a good start by ditching two bad ideas. One is President Trump’s demand for a big reduction in the payroll tax. Under the right circumstances, cutting that tax would be a very good idea. It does not, however, fit the needs of the moment very well. The millions who are out of work would not receive any direct benefit from it, while many people who don’t need help would. Federal revenue, meanwhile, would drop. Deficits will unfortunately have to rise over the short term, but they should do so only for good reasons.

The other abandoned idea is Senator Chuck Schumer’s demand for the return of an unlimited deduction for state and local taxes. Republicans capped it in the tax law they enacted in late 2017. They were right to cap it; if anything, it should be eliminated. The deduction makes it easier for state governments to increase their spending and taxes. Even if the Democrats had the better of the argument over the policy, however, it would not bear any relation to the country’s needs during the COVID pandemic. The people who would benefit from the expanded deduction — high earners in high-tax states — overlap very little with the people in dire straits.

Expanded unemployment benefits made sense at a time when our national anti-COVID strategy included temporary lockdowns. Those higher benefits were, among other things, a way to maximize the effectiveness of those lockdowns by enabling compliance. But the increase was much too large in many cases, with people getting more money for not working than they had gotten on the job. As a recovery gets underway, we want work to resume — which means those benefits should be tapered off.

The Cancel Counter

National Review has run a regularly updated account of the most absurd acts of cancellation. Honcho’d by Zach Evan and John Loftus, it can be found here. Here, as a sample, is Item #82:

Emory & Henry College in Virginia has announced that the school will consider changing its wasp mascot, because it is indicative of the acronym WASP, which might foster an exclusive and discriminatory environment for students who are not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

Do visit the Cancel Counter (like voting in Chicago) early and often.

We’ll See Your Dozen and Raise You a Half More Examples of Unmitigated Wisdom Published This Week Past by NRO

1. More on Portland: David Harsanyi fingers the problem. It’s not as the Law, but the lawlessness. From the commentary:

If it were up to me, I’d leave Portland to the anarchists and their political accomplices. But federal law enforcement — including agencies such as the DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, Department of Homeland Security, and Marshal Service — regularly operate across the country. Sometimes they make arrests, and sometimes they do so after going undercover. This happens under every administration, every day, and it often happens for far less compelling reasons. As far as we know, cops haven’t broken any laws in the streets of Portland. The protesters who cover their faces have broken tons.

With this in mind, it’s been instructive watching many of the same characters who cheer on governors who take undemocratic emergency powers and shut down houses of worship without the consent of the people — and who sometimes arrest Americans for playing Wiffle ball, attending church, or cutting hair — act as if policing portends the end of democracy. The same people who incessantly clamor to empower the federal government when it suits their purposes now act as if protecting a federal courthouse is the Reichstag fire.

MSNBC’s John Heilemann says that Trump’s sending federal police into Portland is a “trial run” for using “force” to “steal this election.” In a piece titled “Trump’s Occupation of American Cities Has Begun,” Michelle Goldberg, somehow still allowed to freely opine at the New York Times, says that “fascism” is already here. House speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the police “stormtroopers” who are “kidnapping protesters.”

All of these contentions are ugly conspiracy theories, hyperbolic allegations meant to fuel partisan paranoia before an election. Even if we accept the criticisms of law enforcement, the driving problem, and it’s been happening to various degrees in a number of major cities, is that mayors are allowing “protesters” to trample on public and private property. They allow it because they share the same left-wing sensibilities. But protesting should never be a license to anarchy.

2. Rich Lowry offers another take on the Northwest madness, and charges the federal response to the mayhem is legal and proportionate. From the piece:

As Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, put it at the press conference, “We’re not going to allow somebody to walk up to the federal property, assault a federal officer, or agent, and then, because then they walk off federal property, then we’re going to say, ‘Oh, we can’t go arrest you,’ that doesn’t make sense. Of course, we’re going to arrest you, and we have the authority to make that arrest, and we will continue to do that. What this means is, we are not patrolling the streets of Portland, as has been falsely reported multiple times in the past few days.”

In an interview, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of DHS, describes the viral video from an arrest late last week that jump-started a lot of the outrage: “The video starts one or two blocks after a foot pursuit where the officers in question had approached an individual who appeared to match the description of someone who had assaulted two federal officers about an hour beforehand. So it wasn’t a day ago, it was an hour before. And [they] identified themselves as federal agents verbally. And of course they’re wearing the same uniforms they’ve been wearing for weeks with . . . Department of Homeland Security indicia on both shoulders and ‘police’ on front and back, and the guy took off running.”

“So they ran after him,” he continues, “and he stopped running. Ironically, he ran to the courthouse, and at that point they caught up with him, detained him.”

These aren’t rogue arrests, but are made in keeping with all relevant procedures. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is consulted on every engagement that our officers are doing,” explained Kris Cline, the principal deputy director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) at the same press conference. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is also at our roll call every evening to make sure that officers and agents are aware of the use of force, rules of engagement, authority, jurisdiction. They spend a lot of time on that.”

3. Steve Stampley finds the Lincoln Project to be a thing of grifting. From the piece:

The four founders of the Lincoln Project — Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, George Conway, and John Weaver — introduced their new venture to the world in a New York Times op-ed in which they described their aims as to prevent President Trump’s reelection by “persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states” to vote against him and to take down as many Republican members of Congress as possible.

But the project is a scam — little more than the most brazen election-season grift in recent memory. And it is working. As the ragtag band of three otherwise unemployed strategists plus one lawyer hoped, the allure of Republican-on-Republican violence has proven irresistible to the MSNBC set. Per their most recent FEC filing, the group has raised $19.4 million since its inception this past November.

The gap between the group’s rhetoric and its actions is enormous. The Times op-ed declared that “national Republicans have done far worse than simply march along to Mr. Trump’s beat. Their defense of him is imbued with an ugliness, a meanness and a willingness to attack and slander those who have shed blood for our country, who have dedicated their lives and careers to its defense and its security, and whose job is to preserve the nation’s status as a beacon of hope.” And yet the group’s focus thus far has been on vulnerable Senate Republicans, notably the moderate Susan Collins and the mainstream Cory Gardner, who haven’t exhibited any such behavior. Neither has Joni Ernst, another target.

The Lincoln Project’s ads don’t attack these GOP senators for supporting profligate federal spending, contributing to explosive debt, or enabling feckless foreign policy, nor do they bash President Trump for his incoherent trade policy or his failure to tame an ascendant administrative state. Rather, they attack Republicans from the left, in terms that please the Lincoln Project’s predominantly progressive funders. Rarely, across dozens of ads, is a political principle recognizable to anyone as center-right to be found. Is the Lincoln Project aware of who Abraham Lincoln was?

4. More Lincoln Project: Dan McLaughlin provides the body-slam. From the analysis:

First up, the “Lincoln Project,” a political action committee founded by three former Republican campaign consultants — Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, and John Weaver — and former Republican lawyer George Conway. You may know Schmidt mainly as John McCain’s 2008 campaign manager and for helming Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 reelection campaign as California governor. Weaver was instrumental in McCain’s 2000 campaign (the 2008 campaign only took off after ditching Weaver), and the 2012 Jon Huntsman and 2016 John Kasich campaigns. In between, he theatrically left the Republican Party once before over George W. Bush. His Huntsman and Kasich campaigns veered heavily into sneering-at-Republican-voters-for-media-plaudits territory. In 2019, Weaver registered as a foreign agent for a Russian state-owned energy company.

Still, these men are entitled to their view of Trump. They are entitled to their idiosyncratic strategy of running ads aimed primarily at getting Trump’s attention and trying to hurt his feelings so that he lashes out, rather than ads aimed primarily at persuading voters. They are perhaps less entitled to present themselves as disaffected Republicans while catering to a donor base of Democrats — much less the questionable, murky financial transactions that Steve Stampley’s piece this morning details.

Where the Lincoln Project leaves behind any pretense at being a Republican or conservative project at all is in concentrating its efforts heavily on mainstream, moderate, and otherwise very not-Trumpy Republican Senators — Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst, Martha McSally, and Thom Tillis — and doing so mainly by running ads attacking them from the left, not the right. Some of these folks hold seats that, if won by the Democrats, would be extremely hard to win back. And if your claim is that Republicans need to be defeated to learn some sort of lesson, there is no evidence that burning down the Republican caucus on Capitol Hill by removing its more moderate and temperate members will make it less Trumpy. As I predicted in 2018, that was not the lesson taken by House Republicans from losing power, and it is not how the Republican Parties of California, Virginia, or New York have responded to losing power. What moderates the party is the need to pursue the building of majorities, not the experience of the wilderness, where performative rage is more lucrative.

Also, stocking the Senate with Democrats while Joe Biden builds a lead in the polls is a recipe for removing checks from the Democratic agenda rather than building checks on Trump. Does that concern the Lincoln Project? Quite the contrary. In an interview with the Washington Post’s left-wing writer Greg Sargent, Weaver not only pledges to support the Democrats’ election-law agenda after Biden’s election, but to demand that Republican senators back the Democratic policy agenda more broadly.

5. Victor Davis Hanson lambasts the woke-ness of the NBA. From the essay:

During the COVID-19 epidemic, the national quarantine, and the demonstrations, violence, and cultural revolution that has followed the death of George Floyd, the NBA has not been shy about political activism. Players, coaches, ex-players, and obsequious sports writers have all virtue-signaled the nation about America’s supposed sins.

Indeed, part of the NBA woke/hip/cool/edgy brand is to trash the “establishment” that has ensured the foundations of its multibillion-dollar-empire. In scary marketing fashion, NBA players, current and retired, and their acolytes in popular culture have veneered their 1950s-style corporate fealty with woke talk about BLM, the “Jews,” eugenics, Farrakhan, and the usual totems of “resistance.”

Their basic message for young consumers is that you can hate the man and still wear $400 sneakers — the same way that you can wear a jersey with an edgy logo during the game and then retire at night into your Malibu compound. In the spirit of medieval indulgences, paid to help the sinner enter heaven, the more that the players become corporate cut-out pitchmen, the more they voice left-wing boilerplate to square the circle of being privileged rich people who nonetheless cling to street cred for the sake of advertising.

No one knows how long this 30-year disingenuousness can continue. It may come to a head this fall, when the league will soon deal with some players’ plans to kneel during the national anthem next season. The NBA has approved of individual players wearing politicized slogans on their jerseys — politicized in the sense of trashing the U.S., but not offering an ill word about Chinese Communist atrocities. The message is, “Ridicule your own democracy all you want, but censor your incorrect thoughts about racist and totalitarian China.”

Joe Fan at home is supposed to watch all this and say, “That’s right! We sure do need more multimillionaires to trash of our flag, anthem, and country! Sign me up for more cable ESPN.”

In other words, the NBA and lots of its players are both athletes and social activists — but with very selective agendas, given that the league is as critical of America as it is silent about China’s monstrous behavior. During the COVID-19 epidemic, few NBA players noted that Chinese businesses were turning away African students and workers, as the government singled them out for forced COVID-19 testing.

The hypocrisy over China has become a touchstone for lots of long-known but taboo subjects in the NBA. Despite all the virtue-signaling about diversity, the league, like the NFL, is one of the most nondiverse institutions in America. 

6. Kevin Williamson finds America’s medical associations are increasingly interested in and activist on political agendas . . . to the harm of their own credibility. From the article:

There are a lot of people making a lot of bad decisions in regard to COVID-19. I wish they would make better decisions. But if some people do not seem to believe that they are getting a straight answer from the medical community about the pandemic, it may be because they remember not having got a straight answer from the medical community about gun rights, climate change, population control, abortion, and much else. If some people believe that the doctors and their organizations are playing politics with the pandemic, it may be because they remember the doctors and their organizations playing politics with a lot of other issues before.

For example: The efforts of the American Medical Association and similar organizations to medicalize the debate over gun control, part of a larger effort from progressives to pathologize dissent, is typical of the pattern. Doctors, like scientists, enjoy a great deal of prestige, much of it well-earned. That prestige is rooted in expertise that is specialized. But like the businessman-politician who argues that what’s needed is to run the IRS or OSHA as though it were a business, physicians mistakenly generalize their actual expertise and experience. It’s the same thing behind Michael Jordan’s baseball career: “I’m good at this, so I must be good at that.” And so a guy who belongs to a professional association in which there are other people who treat patients for gunshot wounds comes to believe that he has special knowledge about the questions of regulation and constitutional jurisprudence related to gun control, and that he has special moral and intellectual standing to speak on these questions.

And so it is, “Gun control is a public-health emergency,” “Population control is a public-health emergency,” “Climate change is a public-health emergency,” etc. But when the AMA speaks about climate change, it does not speak about the actual medical questions related to climate change; instead, it engages in simple, ordinary political activism, e.g., endorsing changes in the electricity-generating industry as though the world’s physicians collectively knew the first thing about operating utilities. Physicians are entitled to their opinion on this as citizens; but as physicians, they have a responsibility to invoke their medical authority only where it is actually applicable. To do otherwise is to damage the credibility of their profession — with the results that can be seen all around us right now.

7. There was supposed to have been an “Automation Revolution.” Daniel Tenreiro checks out a study that wonders what came of it. From the piece:

Not quite, say economists Keller Scholl and Robin Hanson. In a paper published last month, they found that over the past 20 years, both the level and growth rate of job automation have been more or less flat. According to their analysis of 1,505 expert reports published by the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), while many workers are losing their jobs to machines, they are doing so at roughly the same rate as in the past.

Among the 261 occupational characteristics reported by O*NET — such as the degrees to which jobs require creativity, physical strength, or numeracy — two stand out in predicting automation: the importance of machinery and the importance of routine tasks. Unsurprisingly, assembly-line workers and data-entry clerks are particularly vulnerable to automation.

But factory work has seen a trend of automation going back several decades. Those sounding the alarms on AI have warned that not only factory workers but also skilled “knowledge” workers would face competition from machines. Indeed, algorithms are said to be capable of customer service, medical diagnostics, and news writing, among numerous other tasks. Yet the analysis of Scholl and Hanson indicates that workers are far more likely to be displaced by relatively dated technologies: manufacturing machinery, word processors, and spreadsheets. In other words, the types of jobs being automated haven’t changed much, despite technological advances.

The study also considers the vulnerability of jobs to automation by computers and machine-learning algorithms in light of two metrics devised by academics, called “computerizability” and “machine-learning suitability.” While the potential of digital technologies and AI to replace a given occupation appears to be a strong predictor of automation, its significance disappears when other factors, such as routineness, are taken into consideration. Which is to say that the “threat” posed by artificial intelligence is more or less the same as that posed by older technologies.

8. John O’Sullivan assesses the main reactions critics of the Harper’s letter. From the analysis:

The first dismisses the authors’ concerns for free thought and free speech as almost eccentric interests at a time when a pandemic is raging and mass social protests for racial justice are spreading through America. That invites the retort: If that’s so, why are you taking an equal amount of trouble to sign a counter-petition or write a column questioning their set of priorities? Why are you not taking up nursing or handing out Black Lives Matter petitions on street corners? They might be doing those things, to be sure; but so might the signers of the Harper’s letter. Considered coolly, moreover, the objection is a silly one: a claim that you can’t defend freedom and chew gum at the same time. Its intent, though, is more sinister. It hints that some discreditable motive prompted their letter. What might that be?

Well, the second theme is that the Harper’s authors are protecting their own positions and ability to write what they wish rather than helping lesser-known writers from disadvantaged social groups, including some who have been blocked or persecuted, to gain access to good jobs in literature or journalism. But the principles advanced in the letter, if they were generally accepted, would go a long way to achieving those ends. Protection of free speech is more important to striving newcomers than to established authors or scholars. For the writers who are least likely to be subject to cancellation in practice are those who are wealthy and popular enough to defy Twitter mobs and corporations nervous of Twitter mobs — i.e., writers like those who signed the Harper’s letter. In defending free speech, they were acting altruistically at least as much as selfishly and giving greater protection and opportunities to others.

That’s so even though there’s no obligation on someone entering a trade or profession to demand its reordering to create jobs for applicants from particular social groups, let alone make personal sacrifices to do so. That might be a virtuous thing to do. And there are in fact any number of prizes, scholarships, and special programs for young, minority, and women writers in publishing and the media. But it might also be a quixotic enterprise if the group is less represented because most of its members aren’t particularly interested in working in that trade. You don’t find many Norwegian-American hip-hop artists, for instance, and a special recruitment program would probably either fail to recruit any or encourage worse hip-hop. Just so when it comes to getting and keeping a writer’s job: It’s not enough to be young, a member of a minority, a woman, a trans person, or a radical progressive; you should have talent too.

The third theme is, quite simply, that there’s no such thing as “cancel culture” and no threat to free speech except the failure of the mainstream media to provide more employment to minority, female, and radical voices. Charles Blow of the New York Times gives it straight: Anyone is free to write what he wishes, and if he voices conservative views, his disgusted readers quite properly have the right to stop reading him. Sure, he’ll have to go into another line of work — but that’s accountability.

9. More Dan McLaughlin: He mocks the “stutter” defense of Joe Biden. From the Corner post:

In Biden’s case, one of the things that is really noticeable lately is how often he stumbles verbally even in taped advertisements shot and paid for by his campaign. The defense newly raised in 2019-20 for this is to point out that Biden overcame a youthful stutter in the early 1950s, and that this still infects his speech patterns today. Here’s the thing, though: Nobody had to make this argument for Biden when he ran for the Senate in 1972, or when he ran for president in 1988 and 2008, or when he chaired the Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill hearings in 1990, or when he ran for vice president and debated Sarah Palin in 2008 and Paul Ryan in 2012. The Biden we saw throughout those years was a gaffe machine, in part for having a reputation for running his mouth far faster than his brain could keep up with. His penchant for never-ending opening statements at Senate hearings was legendary. He prevailed over Ryan in debate entirely by the force of his verbal ability to shout over Ryan’s answers, cutting him off whenever he called Biden out on anything. In the 2020 debates, Biden repeatedly cut off his own answers to comply with time limits and avoid interruptions. Biden was always hard to fact-check because of his ability to generate newly-minted fabrications on the fly at high velocity, many of which were new to the listener . . .

10. John Loftus has spent time in Hollywood, and advises those we seek a career there to be especially woke in the era of Lefty McCarthyism. From the piece:

Meanwhile, distinguished filmmakers preach hiring practices that discriminate — but in the ‘right’ way. Selma director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter, “Everyone has a right to their opinion. And we — black producers with hiring power — have the right not to hire those who diminish us.”  She goes on to say: “So, to the white men in this thread . . .  if you don’t get that job you were up for, kindly remember . . .  bias can go both ways. This is 2020 speaking.”

Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, articulated the sentiment as bluntly as DuVernay. “I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes. But I’ve seen that movie before.” Responding to Peele’s statement anonymously in the Daily Mail, one executive quipped, “If a white director said that about hiring a black actor, their career would be over in a heartbeat.”

As someone who has spent time in Hollywood offices, I can attest to the environment. Almost everyone assumes you are woke. If you aren’t: Good luck. To have a career one must fake it — and fake it well. Or else buy into the ideology, wholeheartedly. Dropping a hint, however harmless, that you stray from the progressive culture is like dipping your leg into a bathtub full of sharks. You cannot escape unscathed. When some of my ‘friends’ and peers discovered I held conservative views, they soon after ignored me. One friend said I had committed “social suicide.”

In addition to this more straightforward hostility, there are also many in Hollywood who simply embrace woke ideology to get ahead. They will do or say whatever they can to rub elbows with producers, talent agents, C-list stars, single-parent SAG members — anyone who can help their careers.

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty profiles the fake-news reality of the modern American (fake)newsroom. From the piece:

Last week, the Times ran a story about a 30-year-old Texas man who believed COVID-19 was a hoax and contracted the disease at a “COVID party” before dying. Every detail of the story was uncorroborated, which made it exactly the kind of urban legend that moral panics produce. Though it was viral on social media, because it confirmed all the prejudices of the Times’s energized liberal readership, the Times began to edit the story as it was criticized here in National Review and in Wired. The entire tone of the story went from credulous to skeptical, but you wouldn’t have noticed the difference if you hadn’t been paying close attention, because no editor’s notes were appended to it announcing the changes. The Times has begun “stealth editing” its stories in this manner more and more lately, effacing the traditional journalistic ethic that seeks to keep an intact record not just of the news, but of how the reporting of the news evolves.

Also last week, The Atlantic ran an essay, “How I Became a Police Abolitionist,” that roots the activism of its author in a heart-rending story of a 16-year-old gunned down by the police in a rec center for failing to put his name on a sign-in sheet. Christopher Bedford, at The Federalist, a conservative web outlet that has far fewer resources than The Atlantic, rather conclusively showed that the story as told was full of holes and likely never happened.

In recent months, the Times has failed to report properly even on its own internal controversies. Take the publication of an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, which called for the use of the U.S. military to quell rioting while taking pains to separate rioters from peaceful protesters. The piece caused a freakout among Times staffers that ultimately cost editorial-page editor James Bennet his job. The news desk at the Times, in its own navel-gazing story on the controversy, falsely described Cotton’s op-ed as a call “for the federal government to send the military to suppress protests against police violence in American cities.”

12. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn explains the dreadful state of free speech on American college campuses. From the commentary:

Anecdotally, I can speak to a disturbing event that happened over this past month at Harvard. A friend of mine recently posted a comment to a group chat for the Harvard class of 2023: “UPenn seems to be letting the majority of students come back.” A perfectly innocuous thing to say. But a harsh response immediately followed: “The way in which you all have the privilege to ignore the crises that are affecting the world right now. Coronavirus. White Supremacy and Anti-Blackness. . . . It actually sickens me that you all perpetuate and participate in these asinine conversations when you know we aren’t going back to campus.” My friend attempted to defend herself, asking, in essence: How can you think to shame me for asking a perfectly innocent question? You know nothing about my background, what I’ve been through, or my beliefs.

But the ball was already rolling. Activist bullies started chiming in, shaming my friend for speaking up. When others tried to defend her or to make a broader point about the state of free speech on college campuses, they were drowned out by mindless slogans: “Human rights are not your thought experiment.” “Civil discourse is the language of the oppressor.” Another friend of mine argued that we live in a free country; he, like my first friend, went on to be shamed on Twitter for being “problematic.”

College campuses are in the middle of a cultural cascade. Educators can face massive backlash for even slightly deviating from the activist manifesto, such as by suggesting that the police should not be defunded or by refusing to give special treatment to minorities enrolled in their courses. Students don’t fare much better: A UNC survey finds that 68 percent of college conservatives report needing to self-censor to avoid backlash. And administrators, far from drawing the line at the most egregious instances of speech suppression, pander to the loudest activists, thereby undermining a healthy culture of discourse and inquiry.

13. More Dmitri: He lauds the Hong Kongers who keep at the cause of freedom, despite the consequences of imprisonment from the brutal Commie overlords. From the article:

After the oppression bill became law for Hong Kongers, a chilling effect spread throughout the commercial hub: Pro-democracy activists quieted down, faced with the once-unthinkable reality of being arrested for standing peacefully in public places and voicing their desire for freedom. Shopkeepers were compelled to remove customers’ protest artwork and pro-democracy sticky notes from their shops lest the government punish them for endorsing the democracy camp’s message. Protesters deleted their social-media accounts, as speech that had been legal just days previously was now a potential crime against the government. Members of the press in Hong Kong began to feel as though they could not write freely and objectively without punitive consequences; the New York Times, over the next year, will relocate a third of its staff to Seoul.

These many fears are warranted: The oppression law outright bans any activity that the Chinese government arbitrarily deems subversive, secessionist, or terrorist, as well as what it deems collusion with foreign forces. Indeed, on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to its status as a Chinese territory — a day that would normally be marked by mass demonstrations — only a few thousand brave souls took to the streets. Police wielding pepper spray and water cannons nevertheless promptly forced the small crowd to disperse. Almost 400 protesters were arrested, including a 15-year-old girl who was simply waving an independence flag. It is perhaps only a matter of time before the authorities start handing out life-imprisonment sentences for their political enemies — such harsh punishments are permitted under the oppression law — or even worse.

But if there is any silver lining to Hong Kong’s terrifying condition, it is the resilience with which Hong Kong’s democracy activists have met the restrictions of the CCP. Like true Darwinian specimens adapting to adverse conditions, Hong Kong’s protesters have switched up their tactics, bending the measures of the oppression law without breaking them. Since colorful posters with pro-democracy slogans have become synonymous with “subversion” — a big red target for authorities on the prowl — activists have begun to display crafty signs that appear, when seen from afar, to convey pro-democracy messages, but that, on closer inspection, are nothing but squiggles and odd shapes. At least a few activists have already stumped police with such signs, evading arrest. Others have begun to hold up blank white signs, or to put up blank white sticky notes in their shops.

14. More China: Jimmy Quinn profiles the ChiCom botched of its attempts to coverup the imprisonment of Uighur prisoners. From the piece:

The Chinese Communist Party has lied about its concentration camps since it started building them three years ago. It initially denied their existence, but that became an untenable line as satellite imagery and news reports demonstrated otherwise. These days, state media and Chinese diplomats use Western social media to argue that China’s Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims do in fact enjoy a high quality of life, sharing strange propaganda videos of smiling, dancing Uighurs in Xinjiang. Party officials say that the existence of the facilities is part of a counterterror strategy, and they contest the particulars of Western allegations about Xinjiang, such as the number of people detained and whether its slave-labor scheme runs roughshod over human rights. (It does.)

Chinese officials also play offense, though. Earlier this month, the Global Times reported that Beijing was considering a lawsuit against Adrian Zenz, the expert who wrote the forced sterilizations report, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which has published a series of groundbreaking studies on Xinjiang. The lawsuit threat is, of course, laughable: The research produced by Zenz and ASPI is impeccable and all but certainly libel-proof. Instead of substantive criticism, CCP propaganda traffics in ad hominem attacks. Zenz, a well-regarded China researcher, is known in the Chinese state press as a far-right zealot, while ASPI is described as a puppet of American defense contractors. The CCP’s few attempts to actually debunk their research are pitiable. The real purpose seems to be to deter future research and to isolate Zenz and ASPI from others looking into Xinjiang. It remains unclear whether this will work, but the researchers have clearly struck a nerve with Beijing. Zenz recently told Radio Free Asia that the lawsuit threat means that the CCP is “losing the battle” to contest the genocide claims.

Chinese envoys in Western capitals add a more polished gloss to the genocide-denial campaign, but this has also backfired. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the U.K., had trouble refuting the drone footage when asked about it by the BBC’s Andrew Marr this weekend. He also failed to reassure viewers that China is not working to lower the Uighur birthrate in Xinjiang, asserting that it has doubled over the past 40 years. Liu’s colleague in Washington, Cui Tiankai, made a similar claim during an interview with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. Like Liu, though, Cui failed to account for the sharp drop in the birthrate that started a few years ago, coinciding with the advent of Beijing’s most draconian policies in Xinjiang. By appearing before Western audiences, China’s ambassadors have actually called more attention to the CCP’s mass atrocity crimes and failed to sow any doubt about the evidence.

15. Jianli Yang reports on a fed-up India throwing down the gauntlet with its adversarial neighbor, Red China. From the analysis:

China may be a powerful adversary to India, but its bluffs can be called. And that is what India has done in the last two weeks, making a host of decisions that, seen in the perspective of the stand-off with China, represent its resolve and constitute a sustained effort on several fronts — military, diplomatic, economic, social — to make China pay.

Previously, India had never taken sides with or against China on the Hong Kong protests. But this time around, it took a strong stand on the passage of the new security law, which is an attempt to stifle the city’s pro-democracy movement.

It has also blocked Chinese firms from investing in India under the free FDA route, taken several initiatives to force a global probe into the source and origin of COVID-19, and, as mentioned above, banned a host of Chinese apps.

That’s not all. India’s railways ministry has canceled a signals and telecom contract with a Chinese company for a mammoth freight corridor project in Uttar Pradesh. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) have decided to exclude Chinese firms from providing telecom equipment and cancelled their plans for upgrading 4G services. The roads department has announced that no highway projects will be awarded to China. The power ministry is looking to curtail imports from adversarial nations, including China. The move is aimed also at reducing the ability of adversarial nations  to cripple India’s power infrastructure through cyber attacks.

Several Indian states have followed up on the national government’s moves. A push to deny a Chinese firm, Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co Ltd, a contract for the construction of a critical section of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor, is ongoing. The state of Maharashtra is on the verge of cancelling three agreements with Chinese firms. It includes an agreement with China’s Great Wall Motors (GWM) to set up an automobile plant near Pune and produce electric vehicles there. However, the state is going ahead with nine other agreements signed with the U.S., Singapore, and South Korea, indicating to China what’s to come.

16. Paul R. Michel ad Matthew J. Dowd sound the alarm: America needs a course correction or it will lose out to Red China’s technology offensive. From the piece:

What has been the U.S. response? We do not have a master plan, nor a strategy to concentrate on advancing the key technologies vital to economic and national security. In fact, rather than increasing government support for critical research and development (R&D) funding, we have reduced it. In the 1960s, U.S. government funding for R&D equaled 1.8 percent of GDP; now it is only 0.6 percent — a two-thirds drop.

Private funding by venture capitalists is also increasingly moving overseas, with the United States’ share of global venture capital shrinking from 84 percent in 2004 to around 50 percent in recent years. China and Europe, with stronger patent protections, have benefitted. U.S. private investments have also disturbingly shifted away from hard technologies, such as computer chips, to lower-risk commercial activities such as entertainment and hospitality.

There are a number of factors contributing to this shift in technological leadership. First, China subsidizes favored firms in key areas, such as Huawei, its leading 5G company. The United States does not. Our strongest 5G company, Qualcomm, must compete against Huawei and the Chinese government, while also contending with legal and regulatory challenges from our own government. For example, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched an ill-advised antitrust enforcement action against Qualcomm, shrinking the revenue that the company needs to fund its R&D.

China has also notably boosted private investment incentives by strengthening patent protections in the country. It has upgraded its patent office, repeatedly modernized its intellectual property (IP) laws, and created new IP courts trained in technology, providing fast, cheap enforcement with routine injunctions against infringers.

17. Michael Washburn rekindles interest in the late great D. Keith Mano’s dystopian novel, The Bridge, which he said foreshadowed the current madness. From the article:

The country has decided, in essence, that it simply doesn’t deserve to go on, that there’s nothing at all worth upholding and preserving, that it would be better if people killed one another off or died of disease, hunger, or despair.

Much of this vision is disturbingly familiar to Americans in 2020, even if a few of the particulars don’t yet apply at this point in time. Yet the fictional scenario described above is of a somewhat earlier vintage. How remarkable that a novelist way back in the early 1970s set forth a dystopian vision whose accuracy, whose sheer uncanny prescience, will amaze readers today.

That wordsmith is D. Keith Mano (1942–2016), a prolific writer, journalist, and National Review contributor, and the novel is The Bridge, a dark, gripping, brilliantly written book published in 1973 and now out of print but not hard to find a copy of online. The Bridge is the story of Dominick Priest, a denizen of the decaying East Coast of the United States who makes his way out of Manhattan and through parts of the tri-state area in the hope of meeting up with his pregnant wife.

He’ll need luck. A mysterious official body known as the Council has decided to end life as we know it. The country is in ruins following an official decree of the Council’s Emergency Committee on Respiration, passed on July 7, 2035, that people are too destructive of the natural and microbial environment to have any right to go on with their careers, relationships, and lives.

It’s not just pollution and forgetting to recycle that has led to this decree. Even the act of breathing, you see, destroys microscopic organisms in the air. Who are we to say that our accomplishments, our civilization, our lives, have more value than those microscopic beings? Relativism has won. To live, let alone take pride in living, in America is unthinkable and impermissible.

“We of the Council, convened in full, have decided that man in good conscience can no longer permit this wanton destruction of our fellow creatures, whose right to exist is fully as great as ours,” the decree states. “It is therefore decreed that men, in spontaneous free will and contrition, voluntarily accede to the termination of their species.” The operative word is contrition. Guilt is a force eating people from inside. Citizens are too cowed, too stricken with guilt, to mount any organized resistance to the Council’s diktat. Although not all have chosen to give up on life, everything is in ruins and life expectancy for citizens is low indeed.

18. Kyle Smith find a paucity of “Redskin” hate. From the piece:

Yet the public shrugged. Only 29 percent say the name should be changed, because most people see no slight in the Redskins name. A 2016 poll found only nine percent of American Indians thought the name was offensive; 90 percent were not offended. A poll taken just last summer and published in the Post, the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper published in a city named after a slaveholder whose name National Review is withholding so as to express its opposition to racist nomenclature, showed that most Indians are “proud” of the Redskins name, which has in the past frequently been used by tribal members themselves. The [name of city redacted] Post didn’t publish the actual results of the survey, apparently because the data didn’t align with its staffers’ views on the matter, but this strangely elliptical story on the poll said respondents (500 American Indians) were given a slate of 40 different adjectives to describe how they felt about the name, and “most” of them said “proud.” (Other options included disappointed, empowered, embarrassed, appreciative, and hopeless.)

It is beyond obvious that the hubbub over the name Redskins was an obsession whipped up by politically correct white liberals for whom language is a sort of disgusting crumb-strewn carpet to which they daily take a magnifying glass, then ritually attack with the Roomba of good intentions in an effort to clear it of all specks of prejudice. We may not be able to solve the problems associated with the actual police, but it tickles the amour propre to deputize oneself as a member of the language police and to set about righting the most comically irrelevant alleged wrongs.

The New Issue of National Review Is Unleashed and Bearing Much Brilliance

The August 10, 2020 issue is scorching hot off the presses, ink put on paper, paper bounded into a magazine, now in the hands of the United States Postal Service – except for that read-it-immediately digital version, whose contents are now awaiting your very eyeballs, and from which we share a sampling of five pieces. Enjoy!

1. Christopher Caldwell’s cover essay scores the Let’s-Discriminate Prophet of Anti-Racism, Ibram X. Kendi. From the beginning of the essay:

It is a measure of how deeply our culture is fragmented that some of the best-read people in the country have never heard of Ibram X. Kendi. Most Wall Street Journal readers would probably have to Google him. But Kendi now has four books at or near the top of the best-seller lists, including Stamped from the Beginning, which is a history of American racism that won the National Book Award in 2016, and two books on racism for younger readers. Racism is Kendi’s thing. His newest, How to Be an Antiracist, reappeared at the top of the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list this summer after having spent several months on the list last fall and winter. For many of the protesters who poured onto America’s streets in June in the wake of the videotaped killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the book has been a conceptual road map. As the first fires were being lit in Minnesota, Boston University announced it would offer Kendi, 38, the most prestigious tenured chair at its disposal, making him only the second holder of the Andrew W. Mellon Professorship in the Humanities. The chair has been vacant since the death of the novelist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel four years ago. BU will also host the Center for Antiracist Research, which Kendi founded at American University.

The “antiracism” of which Kendi is the most trusted exponent is not just a new name for an old precept. It is the political doctrine behind the street demonstrations, “cancelings,” Twitter attacks, boycotts, statue topplings, and self-denunciations that have come together in a national movement. Anti-racists assume that the American system of politics, economics, and policing has been corrupted by racial prejudice, that such prejudice explains the entire difference in socioeconomic status between blacks and others, that the status quo must be fought and beaten, and that anyone not actively engaged in this system-changing work is a collaborator with racism, and therefore himself a legitimate target for attack.

Under anti-racism, the private sphere becomes a battlefront. In Denver, ACLU organizers push people to “raise kids who ‘see color.’” The English department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has instituted quotas to increase its BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) hiring until all its senior positions are 15 percent minority. In California, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a Caution against Racially Exploitative Non-emergencies (CAREN) Act that would make it easier to prosecute those whose calls to 911 appear motivated by racial prejudice.

The anti-racism movement may sometimes be misguided: While the Floyd killing was affecting, for instance, there is still no evidence that it was an instance of racism. And the movement may be smaller than it looks, drawing primarily on those within the universe of activist foundations (such as the ACLU), the Bernie Sanders campaign (whose members fill the ranks of Showing Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ), and university ethnic-studies departments. Still, social media have broadened the networks from which each of these groups can recruit, and the anti-racism movement has grown to the point where Ibram X. Kendi can be said, for better or for worse, to be changing the country.

2. Well, David Mamet is at it again, the lockdown prompting a search for old books, which he recounts, combined with some sharp analyses of current contentions. From the piece:

I tried again, the website of my neighborhood “Airport Books” emporium. They are jam-packed with volumes denouncing Trump; but they (and I must use that saddest of words, “still”) have the carousel of Penguin Classics, and one never knows. (I found Nella Larsen’s Passing there last year.)

Well, their webpage reports, to my joy, that they have opened. It also says that they offer their support to the community in the midst of this wretched pandemic, which, they go on to say, is of course the centuries-old plague of Systemic Racism.

Now, I don’t know what Systemic Racism is, but neither does anyone else. Like Social Justice, any communicable meaning is destroyed by the adjective. Both terms are indictments of Human Evil; its perpetrators are easily identifiable: They are those who request a definition.

So much for that bookstore.

My second errand was to the shoe shop, also right around the corner from my house.

Here’s a joke. A bank robber was arrested in Chicago last week for refusing to wear a mask. I put up my bandana as I entered the shoe store. I’m saddened to have to go along with the farce, but I have heard, and intermittently practiced, “Don’t go looking for trouble, till trouble comes looking for you.”

3. Victor Davis Hanson assesses Trump’s foreign policy. From the essay:

No one knows what the balance of power will look like after the end of the COVID-19 epidemic. Yet at least now the world recognizes that Beijing’s systematic deceit and corruption of transnational organizations were exactly what the U.S., alone since 2017, had been warning about. The lessons of 2020 were not that America had unduly taken on China, but that America had ripped off the veneer of Chinese intentions, which now were revealed as unapologetically imperialist and bellicose, without the prior dissimulating claims of furthering world harmony.

One reason that the Middle East has ceased being the world’s hotspot is current U.S. foreign policy. The decision to accelerate fracking and horizontal drilling has crashed oil prices, robbing the Middle East of billions of dollars in U.S. importation revenue and making its oil optional, not essential, in American strategic thinking.

The Obama policy of championing Iran over both Israel and moderate Arab states — and by extension Iranian terrorist surrogates, such as Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government, Hezbollah, and Hamas — is deservedly in shambles. It was destroyed by the Trump administration’s departure from the flawed Iran deal, its leveling of tough “snapback” trade sanctions on Tehran, and the forging of a new de facto tripartite alliance of America, Israel, and moderate Arab states against Iran. The effort to bleed Iran economically through sanctions and boycotts, and the retaliatory strikes on its military aggression abroad — most notably the killing of Soleimani, the arch-terrorist-architect — put Iran in an especially vulnerable position. Its position became even worse when oil prices crashed in February 2020 and Tehran clumsily tried to hide the fact that its Chinese patron’s imported coronavirus had reached epidemic proportions throughout Iranian territory.

Obama’s failed multiyear effort at a reset with Russia (2009– 2014) only whetted the appetite of Vladimir Putin to absorb eastern Ukraine and Crimea and to carve out an imperial zone of operations in Syria — given that the Putin regime has often seen American outreach not as magnanimity to be repaid in kind but as timidity to be leveraged. John Kerry, the Obama administration’s secretary of state, invited the Russians back into the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus, ostensibly to become a stabilizing influence in controlling Syrian weapons of mass destruction. They have never left, although the cost of their presence suggests it may ultimately prove as unwise as other such Mideast interventions have been for a long array of Western nations.

4. Ramesh Ponnuru finds that John Roberts is intent on the High Court on having a love affair with itself. From the piece:

When the Supreme Court sets aside a law that contradicts the Constitution, its authority to do so is clear enough. If the Court must choose between the permanent will of the people, as expressed in the higher law, and the transient will of their elected representatives, as expressed in a mere statute, there is no true choice at all. That’s the basic argument Chief Justice John Marshall made in Marbury v. Madison (1803); and while it has often been described as a cunning political maneuver on his part, it is hard to gainsay. On what basis, though, can the justices deprive the people of duly enacted laws when those laws cannot plausibly be said to conflict with the Constitution? That’s the question that moved the Casey Court to talk about broken faith and lost national identity.

It’s the same question raised, but hardly answered, by Chief Justice Roberts’s controlling opinion in June Medical this summer. Roberts based his decision on a precedent (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) from 2016 that he explicitly said was mistaken. The people of Louisiana are to be denied a law that their elected representatives (in both parties) consider just and right, that is consistent with the text and original understanding of the Constitution — and that a majority of the Supreme Court recognizes to be consistent with the Constitution. Rather than resort to the grandiloquence of Casey, he justifies this denial in the name of legal stability. This stated rationale fits the legal materials poorly: His opinion in June Medical departs from the reasoning of Whole Woman’s Health, which he acknowledged at the time had misapplied Casey, which itself reworked Roe. If the foundations of your house were so stable, you’d seek better lodging.

If the actual rationale was the pursuit of the Court’s institutional interests, as is widely speculated, perhaps it is best that it was left unstated. But it should not be surprising that the attempt to burnish the Court’s reputation should involve its accretion of power — or that a strong doctrine of precedent in constitutional cases should lead to the Court’s exercising power in ways ever more detached from the source of that power.

5. While the world is fixated by a virus, Nina Shea reports the ChiCom crackdown on Christians gets amped up. From the piece:

Now China is doubling down on the sinicization of Christianity. As the coronavirus spread, Beijing took new measures to sharply curb the knowledge and practice of Christianity within its borders and to enlist remaining church institutions in the tasks of party indoctrination and propaganda. In recent years, scholars have argued that, given the rate of growth of Christianity in China, the church there would become the world’s largest church by 2030. That projection needs recalibration.

Chinese authorities started by making examples of two internationally renowned underground Christian leaders. On December 30, as news about the coronavirus circulated on social media, Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church, a Protestant house church, was sentenced to an unusually long prison term, nine years, for “inciting subversion.” (More typical for Christian leaders in recent years have been detentions of four or six months.) On Easter Sunday, his church’s leadership were jailed for praying online.

Under the Vatican agreement, Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin of Mindong, Fujian Province, had been demoted to the position of auxiliary bishop, to make way for a bishop preferred by the government. Guo was pushed out of his home on January 15, the day that China initiated its highest-level emergency response to the virus. This time, the 61-year-old prelate was stripped of his human dignity and forced to sleep on the doorstep of the church administrative building for rejecting membership in the PCA. After international criticism, he regained access to his apartment, but with its utilities shut off.

In the ensuing months, 20 underground Catholic priests, followers of the bishop, disappeared into detention after rejecting the PCA pledge of “independence, autonomy, and self-administration of the Church in China” — meaning independence from Catholic teaching and any degree of Vatican governance. One was Father Huang Jintong, tortured with four days of sleep deprivation. He signed the registration to join the PCA but not before trying, in keeping with a Vatican suggestion in June 2019, to add his intent to “remain faithful to the Catholic doctrine.” On June 19, 70- year-old Catholic bishop Augustine Cui Tai, of the underground church in Xuanhua Diocese, Hebei Province, was reported detained. Meanwhile, the state has yet to disclose information on Bishop James Su Zhimin, about whom nothing is known since his 1996 detention in Hebei, for unauthorized praying. Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus, had been right to warn that the Vatican’s silence on the rights of its faithful, unregistered churches in its 2018 agreement would allow China to “succeed in eliminating the underground church with the help of the Vatican.”

Podcastapalooza

1. At the Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the reasons and consequences of keeping America’s classrooms locked, free speech on campus, the NFL and NBA prioritizing woke, Donald Trump’s interview with Chris Wallace, and what 2021 might look like in Joe Biden’s America. Listen here.

2. On Radio Free California — the new “Oakland’s Dog Diaper Day Afternoon” edition — David and Will discuss food fights over McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, and foie gras, Governor Gavin Newsom’s cynical handling of COVID-19 data, the racist impact of teachers unions walking out of classrooms, and the return of Major League Baseball — now with pumped-in crowd noise. Listen here.

3. On Episode 239 of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Luke discuss the legalities of federal law enforcement tactics in Portland, the hypocrisy of the Lincoln Project, and more. Listen here

4. On Political Beats, Super Cool Scot and Jim Jam Jumpin’ Jeff play host to guest Dan “Baseball Crank” McLaughlin for Part One (there will indeed be a Part Two!) of DM’s opinionating on Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Listen here.

5. At The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by the great Brad Thor to discuss his new thriller, Near Dark. Listen here.

6. At The Great Books, JJM is joined by Nicholas Basbanes to discuss Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. Listen here.

7. On Mad Dogs and Englishmen (Episode 273) Kevin and Charlie discuss weddings, funerals, Kanye West, and the situation in Portland. Listen here.

Lights. Cameras. Review!

1. Armond White checks out 2020 The Movie. He finds it devastating to the D.C. cast of characters. From the review:

It looks like one of those typical Hollywood promotional ads, using the kind of video clips that actors make at press junkets, talking to an off-screen interviewer (usually a studio flack or one of the hoard of shills assigned to provide showbiz content for the entertainment segments of news programs around the world — a light industry in itself). The product being hyped in 2020 The Movie is an imaginary film about this election year, featuring popular franchise actors discussing their roles as familiar figures in the news. It teases us about how these politicians enter our imagination.

Switching the real for the pretend is the basis of the spot’s genius: Chris Hemsworth, frequently seen touting his role as Thor in the Marvel movies, is identified discussing his portrayal of President Trump. (“Whether you’re playing a god or a human or whatever, you just make it real.”) Jessica Walter, of TV’s Arrested Development, talks about impersonating Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (“She’s just so self-involved. She has no social graces, let’s put it that way, and she does a lot of horrible things.”). Kathy Bates, Oscar-winner for Misery, explains her imitation of Hillary Clinton. (“This crazy character — I wanted her to be a really despicable, and not very nice woman, definitely.”) Alan Cummings, Nightcrawler in the X Men franchise, breaks down his characterization as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. (“It was all a kind of a mistake that he believed in something that wasn’t actually true. He’s this kind of angry, nasty, scary person who lives in this horrible old boggy place.”)

Each skit (including seven others) does triple-duty. First, the facial resemblance between actors and politicos is uncanny. Then there’s the satire of movie-promotion blather that italicizes talking-point clichés. Plus, the speakers’ facile-sincere tone mocks 60 Minutes–style pseudo-interrogation. (This pomposity also infects the TV gossip format of Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Inside Edition, and TMZ, which all lately include political commentary.)

2. Kyle Smith is watching the new series, Brave New World, and wishes it were better. From the review:

Brave New World, an hour-long series whose first nine episodes just debuted on Peacock, the new streaming service from NBC Universal, is temperamentally so right-wing that I wish it were better. As it is, the series (created by David Wiener, whose last show was Homecoming) is merely tolerable, hampered by a lead-you-around-by-the-nose quality that is more in keeping with the network-TV ethos than with top-shelf cable drama. The writing is mostly superficial, albeit with some clever satiric touches. The characters are flat.

Still, the setup is rich with possibility. The author of the 1932 novel, Aldous Huxley, was a curious chap, an Englishman who borrowed themes and a title from The Tempest and filtered them through what he perceived to be the most disturbing tech advances of 1920s America, particularly mass production and Hollywood talkies. Huxley, who found that the U.S. was where “all the resources of science are applied in order that imbecility may flourish and vulgarity cover the whole earth,” wrote a dystopian satire taking American culture to a logical endpoint — and then moved to California five years later and spent the rest of his life in America. The way disgust and envy commingled in Huxley’s American vision will be familiar to any American who has ever been to England and observed how loudly the captives of that soggy island proclaim America’s faults before meekly admitting, five drinks later, that they’d love to move here.

Brave New World takes place centuries in the future, when the world has united under one government and the swells live in cool, serene, bored London, now called New London. It’s a sanitized-for-your-protection Tomorrowland full of whizzing transportation options, digital gimcrackery, and limitless sex and drugs. Babies are grown in pods, monogamy is forbidden, everyone is programmed to be a happy member of an assigned caste before birth (managerial Alphas through Epsilon worker bees), and the fear of death has been extinguished from the human mind. Even these exquisitely calibrated humans find their life sterile, so they pop lots of soma pills to balance their moods and, for thrills, take rocket rides to “Savageland,” the last corner of earth that didn’t sign up for the new world order and is now preserved as a theme park where the attractions are stage shows based on garbled histories of 20th-century American habits like shotgun weddings and “the day of Black” — Black Friday at the superstore.

3. More Kyle. He watches The Painted Bird and finds it high-brow torture porn. From the review:

There is so much grim knowledge about the Holocaust available to us, that sticking close to the factual record is the obvious and perhaps best choice. Still, we have all absorbed a lot of Holocaust material over the years, and it’s intriguing when an artist approaches the topic via allegory, fantasy, or even comedy. The Painted Bird, a black-and-white three-hour film written and directed by the Czech Václav Marhoul, seems promising at first: a successor to the ambiguous and strange allegories of the Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky, perhaps?

Not really. The Painted Bird is instead a picaresque three-hour litany of child abuse that practically comes with a neon sign flashing “MAN IS CRUEL” at all times. In any given ten minutes, the hapless, silent boy at the center of the movie, Joska (Petr Kotlár), may get beaten, raped, tortured by animals, or all three. What’s the point of ramming home the same point in a hundred sickening ways?

The Painted Bird is based on the novel that made the name of the Pole Jerzy Kosiński, who was later revealed to be a fraud and a plagiarist and committed suicide at age 57. Among those who initially believed that this made-up story was based in memory was Elie Wiesel. Published in 1965, the book was for many years revered as a classic, though it is semi-forgotten today.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. Since Portland is on the brain, how about we resurface the late Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s historic Portland Declaration? Ok you say? Good. It’s available at the website of the good folks at The Philadelphia Society. From the beginning of the essay:

The Free World today is menaced not only by hostile armies, but by sets of ideas which either reduce man to a purely materialistic animal, or present a philosophy of doubt if not despair. The effect of these ideologies, if they are not opposed, must be to crush us, or at least to undermine our will to resist.

The Free World has to rise to this challenge and declare a firm, coherent, and consistent belief in its values, values well grounded and anchored in a great tradition, for which we ought to be ready to make sacrifices, to fight, even, if necessary, to die. Such a belief might be called a philosophy, a world view, or indeed an ideology; whatever we call it, we cannot hope to survive without it.

Webster’s Second International calls “ideology” (under 4b) a “systematic scheme of ideas about life.” Outstanding thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic have insisted that man, for better or worse, is an ideological creature distinguishing himself from the beasts by having, besides reason and religion, a coherent and logical view interpreting his personal and social existence.

Yet since, for many, this comprehensive view tends to be incoherent and indistinct, traditional thinkers in the Free World have a duty to give it a more precise profile, form, and color. Carefully, though: what can be said critically about utopias can also be stated about ideologies: as concrete visions set in the future, they can be thoroughly unrealistic, achievable only by unreasonable sacrifices out of all proportion to their value to mankind. Or they can be legitimate goals.

Finally, we must have before us a guiding vision of what our state and society could be like, to prevent us from becoming victims of false gods. The answer to false gods is not godlessness but the Living God. Hence our ideology must be based on the Living God, but it should appeal also to men of good will who, while not believers, derive their concepts of a well-ordered life, whether they realize it or not, ultimately from the same sources we do.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce reports on the whimpering death of the American university. From the commentary:

Take the situation at Vanderbilt University, for instance.

A petition being circulated this summer accuses the school of racism for not having had enough black students and faculty over the past decades. This implies that black students had actually applied and were denied admission due to their race, whereas, in fact, black students and faculty have been highly sought after, as part of the policy of affirmative action which Vanderbilt, like most institutions, actively pursues. In spite of the university’s best proactive efforts to attract black students and faculty, relatively few have been forthcoming. The few who did apply were accepted over more qualified students and were often given full-ride scholarships. The petition seems to demand that Vanderbilt waves a magic wand to change the demographics, not understanding that you can only accept people who have actually applied and that you can’t accept those who haven’t.

Further signs of this race-obsessed mania can be seen in demands that Vanderbilt’s music department practice “equality” by ensuring that all faculty and student recitals and large ensemble concerts be required to program 50% of their music by black and women composers. Perhaps we should sacrifice quality for equality, limiting the performance of Bach or Beethoven to make way for unknown pieces by unknown composers, purely on the grounds of their sex or skin colour, but the bottom line is that there are simply not enough compositions by black composers to make this possible, even were it desirable. There is no music written by black composers for certain instruments and there are not enough living black classical composers to write new music quickly enough to provide the requisite quota of compositions for those instruments. The fact is that these agenda-driven fanatics expect the square peg of their ideological dogmatism to fit into the round hole of actual reality.

This sort of post-rational madness could indeed signal the final demise of the American university. It has, however, been a long time dying, and many would say that it has been a long time coming. Those who saw the Academy’s abandonment of the rational foundations on which it was built knew that its collapse was inevitable. In losing its reason, it has lost its reason to exist. In affirming that all is ultimately meaningless, it confessed that it is itself ultimately meaningless. In condemning the corpus of Western civilization, it was condemning itself. In betraying the corpus, it becomes the corpse. After the “woke” comes the wake; and after the wake, the whimper.

3. At Commentary, Noah Rothman holds that if you are interested in understanding authoritarianism, the ChiCom actions in Hong Kong are worth your attention. From the piece

After more than a year of unrest, mass demonstrations, and extrajudicial violence from both uniformed and unidentifiable executors of state power, the Chinese government has essentially stripped the city of Hong Kong of its special status within Beijing’s orbit. The Chinese Communist Party wasted no time imposing its will on the unruly city — ferreting out the leaders of the pro-democracy movement and intimidating anyone around the world who had aided their efforts to keep Hong Kong free. “If you haven’t tasted what tyranny is, be prepared, because tyranny is not comfortable,” warned Bao Pu, one of the city’s few remaining independent publishers. He wasn’t kidding.

The instant that Hong Kong’s new national-security law (which criminalizes forms of political expression regarded as a threat to Communist rule) came into effect, officials loyal to Beijing began executing mass arrests and violently dispersing crowds of dissenters. Pro-democracy literature has begun disappearing from the city’s book stores and libraries. School teachers who were among the millions of Hong Kong residents who took to the streets in 2019 and 2020 to protest this new law have been reprimanded or, in some cases, dismissed and rendered persona non grata. Independent and foreign-owned media organs are abandoning their presence in a city they can no longer cover objectively. Liberal activists have fled Hong Kong’s shores, fearing the real and tangible consequences that are now associated with their political beliefs.

The heavy hand of the CCP has not limited its reach to within the confines of the so-called “special administrative region.” A chilling Reuters report indicates that a number of multi-billion-dollar global wealth-management firms are responding to Chinese pressure and scrutinizing their ties to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators. The goal, it would seem, is to transform these liberal activists into living shadows — barred from successfully navigating the international commercial environment as a result of their pro-democratic political convictions. “The designation, called politically exposed persons, can make it more difficult or altogether prevent people from accessing banking services,” Reuters reported. Some banks are reportedly engaged in background checks on their clients that go as far back as the 2014 “umbrella movement” demonstrations against Beijing. To maintain access to Chinese capital, these firms — many of them Western — are more than willing to throw their enlightened political inheritance to the wolves.

4. At The American Conservative, Addison del Mastro does squat thrusts on the “fitness-industrial complex.” From the article:

It is not the class itself or the instructor that I find objectionable — and I’m happy to report that both male and female instructors irk me equally — but the entire phenomenon and style of the workout program. I bristle, for example, at its seamless and Orwellian slide from literal descriptions of exercises to mushy pseudo-metaphysics and cut-rate inspirational cant; its plain talk of doing the work and eschewing gimmicks while heckling anybody who misses a rep or a day in an exquisitely gimmicky program; its uniquely American marriage of the crassly commercial and the cheaply transcendental, one part used car salesman and one part Christian Scientist.

More substantively, workout culture is individualistic in the most corrosive and shame-inducing sense, pretending that the individual exists in a vacuum, and that socio-political problems like obesity, sedentary jobs, automobile dependency, and subsidized junk food, either do not exist or are merely wholesome opportunities to exercise self-restraint. Workout culture admits no possibility of societal sickness or policy solutions to the problems of being unhealthy or overweight. It is a sort of glossed-over eugenic ideology, a cult of self-improvement in a broader society which is deeply and perhaps terminally inconducive to self-improvement. The gym rat is social Darwinism made flesh.

Every workout regimen, often a scammy mix of videos and chemical simulacra of food, bills itself as the holy grail, the One True Faith for the acquisition of a beach body. To question whether a beach body should in fact be our primary earthly obsession would, of course, be rather gauche. Nothing will turn you into a body-positive feminist like a dip into this gross commercialization of body shame. Consider, for example, the contempt hurled at Planet Fitness, a self-styled “Judgement Free” fitness chain with the temerity to acknowledge that it is possible to get physical activity and enjoy a slice of pizza. The problem, which no gym or fitness instructor can remedy, and in which few seem to have any interest, is that modern society provides few opportunities for real physical activity. They must be sought out, and that is the real work of physical self-improvement. The more integrated into actual living (gardening, fishing, hiking) the better. Working out, an abstract kind of self-punishment at cross-purposes from almost every other modern sedentary activity, quite simply fails very often to deliver.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Majid Rafizadeh contends that continued pressure might break the mullah’s hold on power in Iran. From the article:

The Iranian regime is facing an unprecedented level of pressure, which, if it continues, can threaten the ruling mullahs’ hold on power. Iran’s currency, the rial, which has been in free fall in the last few weeks, has plunged to a record low. As of July 18, 2020, a US dollar is now worth approximately 250,000 rials. Before the current US administration imposed a “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran, a US dollar had equaled nearly 30,000 rials.

People, as they see the value of their money depreciating by almost ten-fold, have been rushing to get foreign currency. Last month, Iran’s oil exports also sank to a record low. Three years ago, Iran was exporting roughly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. According to the latest reports, Iran’s oil export is now around 70,000 barrels a day — a reduction of nearly 97%. The country’s budget heavily relies on selling oil.

The political deputy of the province of Bushehr, Governor Majid Khorshidi, told a gathering on July 14 that they should not ignore US sanctions: “We used to see this approach [of ignoring US sanctions] from the previous administration [Ahmadinejad] and unfortunately it still continues,” he added. “But I have to say that sanctions have broken the economy’s back”.

While the US “maximum pressure” policy has played a crucial role in putting economic pressure on the regime, the mullahs’ widespread financial and political corruption and their chronic economic mismanagement are also key factors in the country’s dire financial situation.

For almost four decades, the regime has been squandering the nation’s resources on terror and militia groups as well as its nuclear program. It is also estimated that the regime has spent more than $100 billion on its nuclear program.

6. At Law & Liberty, John O. McGinnis asks if America is ready for the next Cold War. From the essay:

If the previous policy toward China failed, are we in for a new Cold War, as suggested recently by Rep. Mike Gallagher in the Wall Street Journal? The original Cold War was a great success, though fraught with peril. It helped defeat the Soviet Union and liberate subject nations under Soviet domination. Except for the imprudent intervention in Vietnam, it was fought through legal mechanisms, international institutions, military build-up, and ideological assertiveness. Ultimately, we won because we had a more prosperous and otherwise attractive society than the Soviet Union: the evil empire could no longer command even the modicum of allegiance needed to survive.

It seems sadly clear that the United States is not in nearly as good a position to wage a successful Cold War against China today. Let us begin with some of the institutions that helped win the Cold War for the United States. One was freer trade, like that constituted by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This institution increased economic growth and strengthened the bonds between the nations that opposed the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, however, the United States gave up on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017. This agreement would have created a free trade zone among nations of the Pacific, many of which are crucial allies against a rising China. Donald Trump refused to ratify the agreement, but the failure was bipartisan. During the campaign, Hilary Clinton came out against an agreement she herself had helped negotiate! The United States now cannot make important new trade agreements even when the reasons are as compellingly geopolitical as they are economic.

Immigration policy was also a powerful tool of the Cold War. Congress passed the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, making trade relations with the Soviet Union dependent on permitting emigration from the Soviet Union to the United States. It also granted refugee status to Jewish emigrants. Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson thought that “if people could vote with their feet, governments would have to acknowledge that and governments would have to make for their citizens a life that would keep them there.”

Today, one such method of ideological combat would be to offer refugee status to those fleeing Hong Kong. In addition, we could permit the many Chinese students at our universities to stay on, should they choose, so long as we scrutinized them for any possible ties to Chinese security agencies. One aspect of a modern cold war is the battle for talent. But it seems doubtful that the United States could pursue such bold immigration policies, mired as we are in debates over illegal immigration.

7. At Quillette, Erik Terzuolo believes COVID will force a reinvention of the American university. From the piece:

First, we should acknowledge that the traditional image of the American college experience — years of intimate classroom instruction and rewarding social experiences, all on beautiful, well-manicured campuses full of historic buildings and spreading chestnut trees — was mostly a fantasy to begin with, and was becoming progressively more obsolete even before COVID-19 hit us.

In 2018, according to the Digest of Education Statistics, 5.7 million of America’s 16.6 million undergraduate students attended two-year institutions. Another 6.3 million were part-time students. Total enrollment, including post-baccalaureate students, in for-profit institutions seems to have peaked in 2010 at slightly over two million. But in 2018, the for-profits still had close to one million students, almost 740,00 of them undergraduates. Figures for 2017 detailing student age cohorts indicate that almost eight million undergraduate students were aged 25 or older, with 3.1 million of those over 35. In fall 2018, over 35 percent of students already were taking at least some of their courses through distancelearning methods. Few undergraduates actually live on campus. All in all, less than a quarter of American undergraduates are college-age teenagers or young adults experiencing the ideal of full-time study in a four-year program at a private school. Increasingly, that’s an experience reserved for the sons and daughters of America’s elite, even if Hollywood has conditioned us to imagine it to be a near-universal undergraduate experience.

For historical, cultural, and political reasons, Americans imagine their country to be a land of opportunity. As a result, we have placed overly higher expectations on education as a means for Americans of humble means to advance themselves. The reality is that few of the Americans who need education the most are able to access the most desired programs. Till now, it has been difficult to re-engineer higher education as an instrument of social equity and justice, because the system wasn’t originally designed for that purpose. And so it would benefit America if the pandemic caused the emergence of a more multi-faceted approach to achieving greater equality (or, at the very least, preserving social stability). A more accessible and affordable education model might be better for the country in the long run, even if students are denied some of the atmospheric trappings that the best schools will continue to provide.

As a student at a large public university in the Midwest, I had many classes with hundreds of students, where the professor’s only responsibility was to lecture, and actual contact with undergraduates was mostly delegated to graduate teaching assistants who were reasonably expert in the subject matter. Did I like this way of learning? No. Did I learn a lot? Yes.

8. At Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, Heather Mac Donald derides the recent “four months of government malfeasance,” unparalleled in our nation’s history. From the essay:

Never before had public officials required millions of lawful businesses to shut their doors, throwing tens of millions of people out of work. They did so at the command of one particular group of experts — those in the medical and public health fields — who viewed their mandate as eliminating one particular health risk with every means put at their disposal.

If the politicians who followed their advice weighed a greater set of considerations, balancing the potential harm from the virus against the harm from the shutdowns, they showed no sign of it. Instead, governors and mayors started rolling out one emergency decree after another to terminate economic activity, seemingly heedless of the consequences.

The lockdown mandates employed mind-numbingly arbitrary distinctions. Wine stores and pot dispensaries were deemed “essential” and thus allowed to stay open; medical offices were required to close. Large grocery stores got the green light; small retail establishments with only a few customers each day were out of luck. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer notoriously used her red pen within megastores to bar the sale of seeds, gardening supplies, and paint.

It was already clear when these crushing mandates started pouring forth that shutting down every corner of the country was a reckless overreaction. By mid-March, two weeks before the Imperial College model was published, Italian health data showed that the coronavirus was terribly lethal to a very small subset of the population — the elderly infirm — and a minor health problem to nearly everyone else who was not already severely ill. The median age of coronavirus decedents in Italy was 80, and they died with a median of nearly three comorbidities, such as heart disease and diabetes. The lead author of the Imperial College model has admitted that up to two-thirds of all coronavirus fatalities would have died from their comorbidities by the end of 2020 anyway.

Three months later, this profile of coronavirus casualties still holds true. Public health interventions could have been targeted at that highly vulnerable population without forcing the American economy into a death spiral.

A Dios

Of the young cancer-bereft father for whom I sought prayers, his elated mother writes that his “markers” have fallen dramatically. All around, family and doctors find this result shocking and amazing and yes, believe it is rooted somewhat in the power of prayer. Never underestimate it, and exercise it — while you may. Someday soon the New Commissars might find it a capital offense.

God’s Graces for Courage, to Speak Truth in the Face of Evil and Hostility,

Jack Fowler, who stands ready to receive your hectoring and unsolicited advice at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Cancelled Saints

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

Another week, another stockpiling of political, cultural, and scientific absurdities to further frustrate a people who truly believed they were enjoying the Blessings of Liberty — only to be told (via screech) by furious scolds and silver-spooned demagogues that no, all along they had been cashing in on the Pigmentation-Favoring Byproduct of Slavery, that the Spirit of ’76 was a coverup of the Calumny of 1619, that saints were sinners, that monasteries were concentration camps, that heroes were villains, and that you — you in all your excuse-mongering ignorance of all this — are complicit in the whole filthy affair, no matter when grandma hit the beach at Ellis Island.

Has the madness reached the crescendo? Have we experienced Peak Leftist? Victor Davis Hanson has a better term for it: “Peak Jacobinism.” Along with a question mark, it’s the title of his latest NR piece, which catalogues signs that the insanity might have crested. From the article:

The lines are thinning a bit for the guillotine. And the guillotiners are starting to panic as they glimpse faces of a restless mob always starved for something to top last night’s torching. Finally, even looters and arsonists get tired of doing the same old, same old each night. They get bored with the puerile bullhorn chants, the on-spec spray-paint defacement, and the petite fascists among them who hog the megaphones. For the lazy and bored, statue toppling — all of those ropes, those icky pry bars, those heavy sledgehammers, and so much pulling — becomes hard work, especially as the police, camera crews, and fisticuffs thin out on the ground. And the easy bronze and stone prey are now mostly rubble. Now it’s either the big, tough stuff like Mount Rushmore or the crazy targets like Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

There are only so many ways for adult-adolescents to chant monotonously “Eat the Rich! Kill the Pigs! Black Lives Matter!” blah, blah, blah. And there are only so many Road Warrior Antifa ensembles of black hoodies, black masks, black pants, and black padding — before it all it ends up like just another shrill teachers’-union meeting in the school cafeteria or a prolonged adolescent Halloween prankster show.

Some 150 leftist writers and artists recently signed a letter attesting that they are suddenly wary of cancel culture. They want it stopped and prefer free speech. Of course, they first throat-cleared about the evil Trump, as if the president had surveilled Associated Press reporters, or sicced the FBI on a political campaign, or used CIA informants and foreign dossier-mongers to undermine a political opponent. And some petition signers soon retracted, with “I didn’t know what I was doing” apologies. Nonetheless, it was a small sign that not all of the liberal intelligentsia were going to sit still and wait for the mob to swallow them.

By the way: Kathryn Jean Lopez was at the Vatican in 2015, writing for NR about the upcoming canonization of Junipero Serra by Pope Francis. The calumnies against the missionary are many, and have been debunked by serious scholars. Such truth has failed to stop the toppling of statues and the arson of churches by the hellbent, but do read KLO’s piece for a dose of reality.

Now, let us get to the conservative horn of plenty that follows.

Editorials

1. We find the commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence indefensible. From the editorial:

The media and Democrats are incandescent with outrage over the commutation for someone they say covered up Trump’s treacherous dealings with Russia in 2016. But the indictment of Stone and subsequent trial definitively established that Stone had no inside knowledge of Russian hacking or WikiLeaks’s role in disseminating stolen DNC emails; instead, he tried to parlay media gossip and what he heard from an intermediary into a sense that he knew more than he did. Never before has an alleged spy been such a fatuous figure and ridiculous braggart.

There is no doubt, though, that Stone was guilty of perjury and a laughably ham-handed attempt at witness tampering. He was justly convicted of these charges and deserved to go to jail; in our system of justice, self-parody is no defense.

Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly opposed the commutation and was right to do so. The act of clemency is made worse by the fact that Stone repeatedly argued that he was owed it for his loyalty to the president.

Again, there is no reason to believe that Stone actually knows more damaging information about Trump’s dealings with Russia. Mueller’s investigators interviewed, subpoenaed, and searched hundreds of witnesses and prosecuted a couple of dozen Russian operatives and entities, and concluded that the Russians neither got help nor were looking for help from the Trump campaign. Even if Stone’s talk of omerta is a pose, it is grotesque and alone makes him unworthy of clemency.

2. The White House’s blame-game with Anthony Fauci is a ridiculous gambit. From the editorial:

One of the memo’s more legitimate criticisms is that Fauci advised against wearing masks early in the pandemic. He thought that scarce protective equipment should be reserved for health-care workers, which makes sense, but he also pooh-poohed the effectiveness of masks for the public, which was ill-advised. (That the experts so flagrantly contradicted themselves on masks surely has played a role in the resistance to wearing them — although Trump’s reluctance to being seen wearing one hasn’t helped, either.)

All in all, the assault on Fauci is a sideshow that distracts from the very real question of how states should proceed as COVID-19 spreads in new places, as the economy continues to limp, and as the public tires of endless COVID-19 restrictions. Fauci himself has acknowledged that his role is to assess the public-health side of the equation, not to evaluate the many tradeoffs that lockdowns pose. As director of NIAID, he is best understood not as a cable-television personality but as the leader of the public research enterprise that is developing treatment and vaccine protocols to fight the virus. Assuming he has no intention of going anywhere, he should continue to do that to the best of his ability, whether it annoys the president or not.

As for Trump, one reason that his ratings are so low on the handling of COVID-19 is that he has been unwilling, with exceptions at times, to frankly acknowledge the seriousness of the virus. Warring with Anthony Fauci over the scientist’s sincere judgments about our policy failures and the continued threat of the virus is just another way of avoiding the matter at hand — namely the resurgence in cases that puts at risk the partial reopenings in much of the country.

3. Amen, it cannot be said enough: Andrew Cuomo is no COVID hero. From the editorial:

You would never know from listening to Cuomo’s glowing press notices (with the honorable exception of CNN’s Jake Tapper) that more than 32,000 New Yorkers have died from the coronavirus — over twice as many as in any other state. Brooklyn and Queens each lost more than 5,500 people, compared with 4,521 thus far in the entire state of Florida. On a per capita basis, New York’s COVID-19 death rate has been a third higher than any nation on earth, and higher than that of any state besides neighboring New Jersey. Italy, an early epicenter of the pandemic, lost 561 people per million; New York lost 1,667.

This is not just a random occurrence. New York’s authorities were reassuring the public to go on as normal until well past the point where the coronavirus had spread pervasively throughout the community. They had let languish the city and state stockpiles of emergency equipment. Most disastrously, Cuomo and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy both ordered nursing homes to take back patients who tested positive for the virus, unleashing catastrophic death tolls in both states’ nursing-home populations.

Cuomo’s claim for success is that the state’s infection, hospitalization, and death rates have come down, which is rather like if New Orleans had celebrated the water level coming down after Katrina. And just this week, it was reported that infection rates are rising again among young adults and in affluent neighborhoods; New York may not be entirely out of the woods.

Nearly Two Dozen Pieces, Alone and Collectively Examples of Conservative Brilliance, Herewith Offered in Sampling Form to Tempt Your Intellect’s Ravenous Appetite.

1. Jim Geraghty takes on the media’s swooning for the governors, in particular New York’s Andrew Cuomo, whose coronavirus tactics filled morgues. From the piece:

Strictly by the numbers, if a political journalist wanted to praise Democratic governors as doing a terrific job, that writer would start with Hawaii’s David Ige. Hawaii’s low numbers came at enormous cost, however. Ige implemented a 14-day quarantine for all visitors and residents returning to Hawaii, back on March 21, more or less killing the state’s tourism industry. (Few travelers can afford to fly to Hawaii and then spend two weeks in a hotel room before enjoying themselves.) A year ago, the Hawaiian unemployment rate was 2.8 percent; now it is above 22 percent, which is down from 23.8 percent in May.

After Ige, the Democratic governors whose states have been most successful at containing the virus, according the available raw data, have been Bullock, Oregon’s Kate Brown, Maine’s Janet Mills, Kentucky’s Andy Beshear, and Kansas’s Laura Kelly. My guess is that unless you live in or near one of those states, you’ve heard little about these governors, compared with what you’ve heard about New York’s Andrew Cuomo, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, California’s Gavin Newsom, and New Jersey’s Phil Murphy.

No governor has been more ostentatiously praised than Cuomo, who a little while back was joking around with Jimmy Fallon about his fanbase of fervent “Cuomosexuals.” The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote of “the Newsom the outside world sees: a calm, confident and intelligent (and verbose) governor handily guiding his massive state through an unprecedented crisis, informed by science and a sincere desire to protect the public’s health” — but at least acknowledged that Newsom hasn’t always lived up to the image he aims to project. A largely gushing New York Times profile described Whitmer as “approaching it all with the same practical mind-set and vocabulary she brought to more manageable governmental challenges like fixing potholes.” The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that Murphy “channel[s] his inner technocrat at hour-plus news briefings. He comes armed with graphs and projections of the virus’ spread, saying he’s determined ‘to break the back of that damn curve.’”

The personality, the pugnaciousness, the presence, the poll numbers . . . these governors have assembled all of the ingredients for a classic success story — except for the actual record of success.

2. Madeleine Kearns scrutinizes the Cuomo Poster and finds it depicts fantasy. From the beginning of the piece:

Have you seen Andrew Cuomo’s poster? The New York governor’s pandemic-themed design was apparently intended as a celebration of the state’s effort against coronavirus. It’s difficult to describe, but there’s a mountain in the middle labeled “111 Days of Hell,” a rope around it labeled “Pulling Down the Curve Together,” a river marked with dollar signs and labeled “economy falls,” a plane captioned “Europeans,” a wind-blowing devil titled “winds of fear,” and overhead, a banner positioned above a rainbow that reads (what else?) “love wins,” as a sun smiles and a blonde man on a crescent moon says, “It’s just the flu.”

I don’t have anything nice to say about it, except that it’s a helpful insight into a singularly incompetent and disorganized mind.

Without the labels, the design would be utterly incoherent, though with them, there’s a certain child’s logic. Nevertheless, it must remain one of the weirdest political stunts to come out of a crisis. But then, perhaps diversion is the point. For while the governor was getting ready to wow the nation with his 19th-century-style propaganda (did I mention there is a table at the bottom of the mountain labeled “New York State Leads Again”?), the rest of the country has been noticing that, in the wake of coronavirus, conditions in New York are getting worse, not better.

3. David Harsanyi finds the MSM’s Cuomo-gaslighting to be shameless. From the commentary:

By any standard, the New York tristate area’s numbers are the worst in the country. By most measures, the numbers are some of the worst in the world. As the New York Times noted in May, New York City seeded the wave of outbreaks across the nation. Some of the carnage was likely unavoidable, but we can attribute the high number of nursing-home deaths, at the very least, to Cuomo’s ineptitude.

Yet, even as his state was failing to meet its most serious challenge since 9/11 — it wasn’t until May 6 that cleaners began disinfecting the subway system, for example — Cuomo was busy taking softball questions on national cable news from his obsequious brother, Chris. On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon marveled at how “smart” and “honest” Cuomo was as the two discussed the governor’s global popularity and “Cuomosexual fans.”

For those who tell you the media don’t matter, Cuomo now has among the highest approval ratings of any governor in the nation, almost all of whom have governed far more capably. As I write this, the coronavirus death toll in New York stands at 166 people per 100,000 (even if we exclude New York City, the rate is 78.5 per 100,000), while it is still only 30 per in Arizona, 20 per in Florida, 17.7 in California, and 11.1 in Texas. Will Florida governor Ron DeSantis be heralded as a great governor should his state end up with a fraction of the deaths New York experienced? If there had been widespread testing in New York in March, April, and May, those numbers likely would have dwarfed what we’re now seeing elsewhere in the country.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, after more than 32,000 deaths, Cuomo and his fans are now celebrating a victory over coronavirus.

4. Andrew McCarthy explains, again, the consequences of the Supreme Court becoming an increasingly political institution. From the beginning of the commentary:

Whither the Electoral College?

The Supreme Court had its say on the matter during the always-eventful last week of the term. To repeat a contention often made in these columns, the High Court has evolved into an essentially political institution, robed in the judiciary’s apolitical veneer. Given that we are a deeply divided nation, that the late-term cases are usually the most controversial, and that the four left-leaning justices — those appointed by Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama — tend to vote as a bloc in these cliffhanger rulings, one doesn’t expect many 9–0 decisions when the calendar reaches late June (let alone July).

Yet there it was on Monday: Chiafalo v. Washington. At issue was the question of “faithless electors.” Specifically, may a state enforce the pledge it compels electors to make to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote? The Court’s holding that states have the power to do so was unanimous. Significantly, though, the Court was not of one mind about why.

The case is worth our attention because of what’s been going on under the radar.

Among the Left’s many transformative projects is the drive to have presidents elected by a national popular vote. The project, known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, would effectively eliminate the Constitution’s Electoral College system. It would reduce the College to a nullity by requiring a state’s electors to vote for the candidate who wins the national popular vote — regardless of whether that candidate loses the state’s popular vote. As Hillary Clinton and Al Gore could tell you, that would radically change how presidents are elected, and ultimately how we are governed.

5. Only in America! Kyle Smith looks into the capitalist genius of race-industry gurus. From the beginning of the essay:

You, there. Yes, you, white person. Ever attended a wedding at which only white people were present? How about an all-white funeral? Ever watched as a black person mopped the floor? You, I’m afraid, are racist.

Lists of billionaires? Racist. Lists of top-grossing movies? Racist. Unselected Jeopardy categories? Racist. Today’s successor to the Ludovico technique has been ingeniously engineered by the White Fragility author, and America’s Race Whisperer, Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo is a white lady who has gotten very, very rich speaking to litigation-averse corporations, campus groups, self-flagellating white progressives, and black allies joining the cause of white guilt, which is apparently like the rain in Blade Runner, a mephitic poison that is forever soaking everyone to the bone.

People have been mocking DiAngelo. We should be in awe of her instead. She’s the absolute master of this, a P. T. Barnum for our time. As detailed in a New York Times Magazine piece (from which the six examples I mentioned above are drawn), DiAngelo is a great American capitalist marketing genius, up there with the inventor of the pet rock or the people who figured out how to get rich by creating prestige brands of water. Like them, she didn’t invent anything useful, didn’t do any noteworthy work whatsoever. She simply exploited an opportunity. Someday there will be a wing devoted to her in the Marketers’ Hall of Fame. No, they’ll rename the whole institution for her. She’s that good.

6. Not content with burning down missions, lefties want to change the names of cities. Such as . . . St. Louis. Kevin Williamson wonders if the saintly French king would want the Missouri murder hotbed to be named after him. And there’s plenty more. From the essay:

The American city began as a French settlement in Spanish Louisiana. The French fur traders who set up shop there named it for Louis IX, the sainted French king whose Christian zeal and personal integrity caused him to be regarded by his contemporaries and many who came after as an ideal monarch. But the saints are fallen creatures like the rest of us, and Louis IX had pretty ugly attitudes about Jews and Muslims, along with the usual assortment of human failings. And so there is an effort under way to knock down the statues of St. Louis and — naturally enough — to change the name of the city.

This is an excellent idea. Having St. Louis’s name on the city is an intolerable wrong, and it should be corrected.

The city named for him became part of the French possessions in the New World in 1800 and then came under U.S. sovereignty with the Louisiana Purchase. St. Louis once was famous as “the gateway to the West,” an important commercial center on the Mississippi River, the young nation’s most important commercial waterway. At its apex, it was one of the most important American cities. In 1904, it both hosted the World’s Fair and became the first city outside of Europe to host the summer Olympics.

In 1950, St. Louis was the eighth-largest city in the country, more populous than Boston or Washington. Today, it is the 65th-largest U.S. city, with fewer residents than the Dallas suburb of Arlington or the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. It has the highest homicide rate of any major American city: At 66 homicides per 100,000 residents, it is almost twice as murderous as Detroit, more than three times as homicidal as Philadelphia, and 25 times as dangerous as Austin. Its high-school dropout rate is twice New York City’s (New York City cannot boast of a particularly low rate itself), and in some schools nearly half the students fail to graduate.

7. Washington and Lee University is ground zero for the culture war. Institutional name-changery is in the air. Alum Garland Tucker has a thing or two to say about it. From the reflection:

Like countless other W&L graduates, I have linked my formative college years not just to blissful memories of life in Lexington, to lasting college friendships, and to memorable professors but also back to the character of two men: George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Although both were military leaders of rare ability, it was their character — their integrity — that has permeated life at W&L and provided the moral compass for the institution and for students like me.

Henry Lee (Robert E. Lee’s father), Washington’s contemporary, pronounced the most definitive accolade about America’s founding president: “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” It was a reverence for Washington that guided R. E. Lee as well. Historian Paul Johnson concluded that “Lee was a noble and virtuous man, like Lincoln. . . . Honor was the key word in Lee’s life and vocabulary. It meant something very special to him.” Lee once said, “‘Duty’ is the most profound word in the English language.” It was his sense of duty and honor that led him to Washington College and enabled him to become a post-war leader in education and a force for national reconciliation.

The current rush to “reimagine” American history is focused more on Lee than Washington, but both men are clearly in the sights of radical revisionists. Statues of Washington have already been pulled down. When President Trump delivered his speech at Mt. Rushmore, the weekend of July Fourth, CNN dismissed Washington as merely “a former slaveholder.” The lives of Washington and Lee have been reduced to one insurmountable flaw: racism as defined in the 21st century. Where will this attempt at ethical cleansing end? In pronouncing both Lee and Abraham Lincoln “real heroes,” Paul Johnson wrote, of Lincoln: “He freely admitted an attitude to blacks which would today be classified as racist.” History should whitewash neither the past nor present.

8. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn investigates the expertise of one Paul Krugman, who may be unrivaled when it comes to . . . selective fault-finding. From the piece:

So perhaps a hand-waving, one-size-fits-all, nationalized approach to the virus is not appropriate. COVID presents more danger to some regions of the country than to others. Then, contra Krugman, Republican voters are not mindless zombies “presumably taking their cue from the White House and Fox News” on reopening (though they are sure to note Krugman’s patronizing tone and to keep it in mind at the ballot box this November). Rather, these voters often have their own valid reasons for wanting to reopen their communities, which tend to be safer to reopen than, say, Seattle or Philadelphia: jobs, income, mental health, access to religious services, quality of education, quality of social life, etc. But even focusing solely on the coronavirus at the expense of these factors, it is rank intellectual dishonesty not to acknowledge the role that Democrats such as Andrew Cuomo have played in the virus’s spread and fatality — most egregiously, by allowing COVID-19 patients to be admitted to nursing homes fresh from the hospital.

It should come as no surprise that Krugman falls short in politics and public health. Even in economics, his supposed area of expertise, the good doctor has been pitifully wrong through the years. In 1998, he predicted that by 2005 the Internet’s impact on the economy would prove “no greater than the fax machine’s.” He also predicted a rapid end to the Great Recession, deflation in the years following 2010, dire consequences from the sequester of 2013, the death of the euro, the crash of the world economy from Trump’s election, and positive economic consequences from Trump’s impeachment. None of these came true. True, Krugman has admitted the inaccuracy of many of his predictions. But, far from being discouraged, the man continues to put forth his biweekly partisan tirades, arrogantly dismissing large numbers of Americans as stupid all the while. One can only wonder what fantastical headline will come next out of Krugman’s quill.

9. Has SCOTUS created a “CHAZ” for religious believers? Michael Brendan Dougherty has some thoughts. From the piece:

The First Amendment and the religious-freedom legislation that was used to bolster it were designed to give the entire American polity — believers and non-believers alike — the character of a free nation. And that is a problem, because as we unpack the “T” and “Q” in LGBTQ, we find gender theories that are rejected by at least as many secular Americans as religious Americans. The Bostock decision elides this issue by obliging employers to treat trans women as women. But for many in the sexual-identity wars, “fluid” and “non-binary” identities are part of the cause too. How will those work?

For several centuries, the Christian Church has been denounced by liberals as a hothouse of oppression, shame, and guilt, a place where people go to be told the rules and ordered around by clerics spouting unprovable metaphysics. But in a curious way, what the Supreme Court has done has marked the church as a zone of freedom — the Calvary Hill Autonomous Zone, if you will. Don’t want to be dragooned into a social project of “disrupting the nuclear family” or overturning cisgender privilege? Want to live in a world where women and only women become mothers, and where you’re free to say there is a “male and female”? Then I’d suggest you find faith, because the Court has made being free to live in nature contingent upon the acknowledgement of nature’s God. The “secular” is now marked as a zone of taboos and superstitions, and the church as a house of freedom from ideological cant, metaphysical impossibilities, and bullying.

10. John McCormack scopes out the state of religious freedom in the wake of the Bostock and Our Lady of Guadalupe decisions. From the article:

Although Guadalupe was a clear win for the First Amendment, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about whether the Bostock decision will impinge on religious freedom in the years to come.

One outstanding question, for example: Does the “ministerial exception” apply to high-school teachers at a religious school who teach a particular subject — say, math or computer science — and don’t explicitly instruct students in religion? It’s not clear.

Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation thinks it would. “Even if you’re the math teacher, the logic of this opinion [in Guadalupe] is that if the school asks you to embody the faith, that you’re a minister,” he tells National Review. Anderson points to several passages from the majority opinion, including the fact that Alito noted the schoolteachers were “expected to guide their students, by word and deed, toward the goal of living their lives in accordance with the faith.”

But University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock disagrees with that interpretation of the majority opinion. “I don’t think the Court will expand this to say that those who teach only secular subjects are ministers, even if they are expected to be role models,” Laycock tells National Review in an email. “Time will tell, of course. But if I’m right about that, then most teachers in religious elementary schools may be ministers, because they teach the whole curriculum, including religion. But most teachers in middle schools and high schools will not be, because they each teach a particular subject, and most of those subjects are secular.”

11. Lewis Farrakhan continues with the persistent Jew-hate. Jonathan Tobin decries the poison. From the piece:

At a moment in American cultural history when even a hint of opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement can result in jobs being lost and people hounded out of the public square, the muted reaction to open expressions of anti-Semitism is striking.

When Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted fake Adolf Hitler quotes about Jewish perfidy and praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan last week, he was criticized and eventually apologized. But the outrage was nothing compared with that encountered by Drew Brees, the star quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, when he spoke last month of his opposition to fellow National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem. While many NFL players condemned Brees for preaching respect for the flag, few of Jackson’s fellow players responded to his calumnies, and, among those who did, expressions of support outnumbered criticisms.

A week later, another Farrakhan-related flap has hit the news, and the public reaction has been strikingly similar. Over the weekend, it was revealed that television personality Nick Cannon, the host of Fox’s The Masked Singer, had spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and praised the Nation of Islam leader on his YouTube channel. Like Jackson, Cannon was caught repeating a popular NOI claim that African Americans are the “true Hebrews” and the real “Jewish people.” He also ranted about the power supposedly held by “the Illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds.” Yet Fox was silent in the face of the news about his anti-Semitic diatribes, and there’s been no indication that it’s reconsidering its relationship with him.

12. More from Big Jim G: College sports is facing an apocalypse. From the piece:

For a long time, even fans of college sports wondered if it was a good idea for so many institutions of higher education to turn their sports teams into de facto developmental programs for the NFL and NBA. It’s easy to see why so many schools did so, of course. At the highest levels, college football and basketball offer fan experiences on par with the NFL or NBA. They stir campus enthusiasm, provide hours of free advertising, and of course, bring in enormous amounts of money each fall and winter, helping cover the costs of other college sports that don’t bring in enormous revenues.

More than a few observers noted, however, that the entire system was built upon young men, often from poor backgrounds, who chose to risk a career-ending injury in exchange for a college scholarship and, maybe, a chance at a lucrative career as a professional. Some schools took educating student athletes seriously; others, not so much. As collegiate basketball and football scandals piled up, it became less and less absurd to ask whether big-time athletic programs existed to serve the needs of universities or universities existed to serve the needs of big-time athletic programs.

Those concerns have become more pressing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and a day of reckoning may now be coming for college sports. If Stanford, with the fourth-largest endowment in the country, cannot sustain its less-prominent sports programs, how many other colleges will end up making similar cuts? How many students will lose their athletic scholarships in the process? If, as seems likely, the answer to both questions is “many,” the NCAA landscape will soon look dramatically different, with fewer sports, fewer teams, fewer scholarships, and fewer student-athletes.

13. The pros aren’t in any better shape. Victor Davis Hanson finds a woke NFL may also be on the brink. Offended fans can change the channel after all. From the column:

Racial issues are often virtue-signaled in the NFL — but almost never in an honest way. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently objected to players not honoring the flag. But he quickly caved when a media mob damned him. In contrast, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets last week, even falsely attributing a quote to Adolf Hitler. That disconnect posed a bizarre question for the NFL: Is it worse for a player to be pro–American flag or anti-Semitic?

NFL owners and head coaches are almost all white. But nearly three-quarters of the players are black. Those who play the game obviously want to see more diversity in coaching and ownership.

In a culture so obsessed with identity politics, is it the players or the owners and coaches (or both) who do not “look like America”?

Given that about 13 percent of the U.S. population is black, and given that the Black Lives Matter movement embraces concepts such as proportional representation, today’s NFL teams hardly qualify as diverse. Social activists might argue that the league should mentor and recruit more Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans to better reflect their percentages of our diverse national population.

Perhaps an NFL compromise could ensure that 30 percent of coaches and owners are nonwhite, thus reflecting current U.S. demography. But then, in reciprocity, the players would match such mandatory demographic diversity — leading to Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, whites, and those of mixed ancestry accounting for 87 percent of the player population. The NBA might also take note.

14. President Erdogan has decreed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia is now a mosque. Cameron Hilditch contends this deserves a strong Western response. From the commentary:

The global response to Erdogan’s move has ranged from indifference to outrage. The Turks have close ties with Moscow, and the Russian deputy foreign minister said last Monday that changing the status of the church to a mosque was the internal business of the Turkish government. (Given the way in which the Kremlin has sought to blur the lines between Orthodox Christianity and Russian Nationalism, its acquiescence to the desecration of an iconic, non-Russian Orthodox church is perhaps unsurprising.) By contrast, the Greek culture minister called Erdogan’s move an “open provocation to the civilized world” in a statement on Friday, and the Greek government is pushing for the European Union to impose diplomatic sanctions on Turkey. The leader of the Italian Northern League, Matteo Salvini, has also criticized the decision, citing it as evidence that “the pre-eminence of Islam is incompatible with the values of democracy, freedom and tolerance of the West.”

The Turkish government’s response to the criticism has been positively schizophrenic. Erdogan and his deputies tend to rhetorically oscillate between the language of national sovereignty and the language of Islamic expansionism. On the one hand, a deputy chairman in the governing party told a local publication that “estranging a structure, the property of which belongs to Turkey, was going against our sovereignty.” On the other, Erdogan himself said in a public address that “the resurrection of Hagia Sophia [as a mosque] follows the express will of Muslims throughout the world” and will serve as a first step towards “the liberation of Al Aqsa” in Jerusalem. Even before his speech, crowds had gathered outside Hagia Sophia chanting “Onward to Jerusalem!” In what will come as a shock to absolutely no one, it seems that many Turks do not believe that national sovereignty obtains for Israel. Hamas was quick to endorse Erdogan’s decision.

The religious vision of pan-Islamic civilization that appears to drive Erdogan’s attempts to dismantle the secular constitution of Turkey, a document of which many Turks are still very proud, does not stand up to any kind of scrutiny. In historical terms, there is vanishingly little evidence of Islamic civilization to begin with. Most of the great achievements attributed to Islamic cultures have been those of conquered peoples, or dhimmis, to use the theological term, whose work has been co-opted by their conquerors. Hagia Sophia is a case in point. The dome that was so ingeniously designed by Anthemius and Isidore has been used as the model for mosque architecture ever since. Indeed, when Caliph Abd el-Malik commissioned the Dome of the Rock, now considered one of the great masterpieces of Islamic art, to be built in Jerusalem, he employed Byzantine architects and craftsmen, which is probably why the structure looks so much like the same city’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. “To the extent that Arab elites acquired a sophisticated culture, they learned it from their subject peoples,” the sociologist Rodney Stark has noted. The much-vaunted “Arabic” numeral system is in fact Hindu in origin, based on the concept of zero, which had theretofore eluded the Muslim overlords of Hindu populations. The earliest scientific text that appeared in Arabic, the holy language of Islam, was translated by a Jewish physician from the work of a Syrian Christian priest in Alexandria, which would have surprised no Arabian Muslim of that time. As Stark notes, “‘Muslim’ or ‘Arab’ medicine was in fact Nestorian Christian medicine; even the leading Muslim and Arab physicians were trained at the enormous Nestorian medical center at Nisibus in Syria.” It was the Nestorian Christian Johannitius who collected and supervised the translation of Hippocrates, Galen, Plato, and Aristotle into Arabic. Furthermore, a Muslim writer of the eleventh century, Nasir-i Khrusau, reported that “the scribes here in Syria, as is the case of Egypt, are all Christians. . . . It is [also] most usual for the physicians . . . to be Christians.”

15. Seth Cropsey and Harry Halem make the strategic case for a strong U.S. Navy. From the analysis:

But a recognition of strategic uncertainty also has implications for conventional forces, particularly at sea. Naval power is the ultimate strategic enabler. Only ground forces can hold territory and physically impose one’s will upon the enemy. Modern ground combat is inseparable from air combat — whatever other roles an air force plays, coordination with ground forces through close air support or battlefield air interdiction will always remain a core mission. However, seapower provides a flexibility and depth unlike land power and airpower, and today “space power” and “cyberpower.” Particularly for a great power like the United States, seapower’s effects go far beyond direct warfighting. Of course, warships are built to destroy other warships. But the “sea control” that they obtain through fleet actions or amphibious assaults in turn facilitates all other military operations. More broadly, naval power allows its user to pressure the enemy’s economy through blockade in peacetime or wartime, transit forces between theaters unimpeded, communicate with — and by its presence, demonstrate support for — far-flung allies, and in modern contexts mount strikes against exposed targets inland. The U.S. understood this essential fact from its founding through most of the 20th century, although as America’s defense budget flattens while China’s continues its precipitous rise, the clarity of the U.S.’s understanding about the purpose of naval forces is diminishing.

The maritime domain is unique, with its own geography and logic as compared with land power. Indeed, land and sea are the two fundamental human geographic domains: The Greeks distinguished between maritime and terrestrial powers for this very reason. Understanding sea power — and, one must note, land power and arguably air power — therefore requires significant military and strategic specialization, stemming from the domain’s unique defining factors.

These unique factors make maritime power the most naturally political of military domains. Thus, it undergirds conventional deterrence in any great-power struggle. Major-power naval forces must operate forward. The natural constraints of maritime geography make the sort of “surge” capacity that airborne ground and air forces rely upon during conflict impossible because maritime transport takes time. The large-surface combatants, capital ships, and submarines that define blue-water naval power are by physical necessity relatively slow. Moreover, naval forces are naturally more expensive than their ground and air counterparts. They are flexible, versatile platforms designed to fulfill multiple missions, and built with the capacity for upgrades.

16. Itxu Díaz ventures into the world of hair-triggered nerves, increasingly defining what he calls our “Fearful Society.” From the beginning of the essay:

I’ve been shopping at the supermarket. In the chocolate aisle, I recently saw a dear old grandma dressed in some kind of diving suit (for a moment I wondered if she was fishing for octopus), accompanied by her granddaughter, who wore a giant mask that covered her belly button. The girl was looking for her favorite chocolate. Suddenly, the grandmother covered her face with her hands as if she had just seen the devil himself and shrieked, “Let’s go!” But the girl kept on looking for the chocolate. The old woman, already pale, grabbed the girl by the arm and tugged her violently, screaming, “We have to get out of here, a girl without a mask just entered the supermarket!” The covered girl resisted, and the dear old lady finally resorted to stunning her with a couple of well-placed slaps before carrying her out of the store, saying, “I’m sorry, honey, it’s for your own good!”

The scene has left me with a strange feeling. Of course, it is a bad idea to go to the supermarket without a mask, and it is better to stay away from whomever does so. But I find it worrying that grandma reacted as if the woman without a mask were a jihadi armed with a Kalashnikov. You have to ask yourself what could make a sweet old grandmother behave like that.

Back home, still in shock, I decided to relax and read the papers. Let’s see. New swine flu virus with global potential. The possible return of bubonic plague causes alarm. A cat dies from an unknown virus after biting its owner. Waves, outbreaks, and tsunamis of COVID-19. The coronavirus is also transmitted by air. The second wave of the pandemic will be devastating. Oh my God!

I have also read that sea levels will engulf us in a few years if we don’t vote for the Democrats, that the U.N. warns that illegal species trafficking causes an infinite number of unknown diseases, and that a large meteorite is expected to fall to Earth this year (it doesn’t matter when you read this) — which explains why nine out of ten dentists recommend that during the next few months we walk the streets with our mouths shut.

It’s even worse than what grandma thought.

17. Armond White is calling the match between Dolly Parton and Iris Dement. Jesus is way ahead on points. From the beginning of the piece:

Dolly Parton’s “There Was Jesus” rebukes Iris Dement’s “How Long.” These peak country/folk/pop artists are not in competition, yet their latest recordings offer contrasting responses to America’s current spiritual turmoil. Dolly keeps the faith while Iris follows the mob. If the truth lies somewhere in between, note that “There Was Jesus” just became Parton’s first song to enter Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay charts, while Dement’s release went nowhere — except the uncharted territory of progressive ingrates.

Parton clings to the rock of gospel tradition while Dement seems unsure, grasping a weaker tradition that currently dominates the culture.

“There Was Jesus” is Parton’s collaboration with the song’s composer Zach Williams, the Christian-rock artist from Arkansas writing about his religious conversion, realizing God’s presence in all stages of his life. Her stirring back-up vocals raise the song’s testimony from an individual statement to wider affirmation. Parton’s irresistibly sweet, soaring notes connect to cultural memory, making this a pop record — no longer the subgenre of a minority group that, ironically, has been marginalized by the mainstream media.

Dement has always performed on the margins, despite a brief major-label stint in the Nineties, but her new release is what insiders call “a pop move.” She joins the moment of political piety in which the radical Communist origins of Black Lives Matter are confused with sentimentality about racial prejudice. Dement’s lonesome voice on “How Long” echoes an old folk-music trap; her political conversion, unlike Williams’s gruff realism, is rapt with self-righteousness. This serious error demands clarification.

18. Dan McLaughlin offers a history of “Redskins,” scalped by the Thought Police. From the piece:

Is “Redskins” a bad word? Even today, many schools in Native-American communities use Native-American team names, so perhaps some judgment is called for. My own gut instinct is that “Redskins” is quite different from “Braves”; the former is a racial distinction that sounds like a racial slur — and has often been used as one. Braves, by contrast, designates the Native-American warrior with all the martial virtues that conveys, and is no different in that regard than teams naming themselves Warriors, Vikings, Cavaliers, Knights, Crusaders, Rangers, Patriots, 76ers, or other names that identify with some particular military or nationalistic tradition. Nobody would insult a man — to his face or behind his back — by calling him a brave.

The history of the word redskin, however is somewhat more complex. It remains much in dispute where, when, and how the term “redskins” first began to describe Native Americans, but it is clear that the term was in use as far back as the final third of the 18th century. Even the Washington Post’s effort to trace the etymology finds it in use as much by the tribes as by whites. “Oklahoma,” for example, was introduced by a Choctaw missionary in one of the 1866 treaties establishing the territory; the term is generally regarded as combining two Choctaw words, “okla” meaning people, and “humma” meaning “red.” (There are those who dispute this, too.)

“Redskins” acquired more of the nature of a slur in the second half of the nineteenth century, as Americans advanced across the frontier and came to see Native Americans less as equals and more as obstacles. Words, of course, have traditions of their own; while it is important for historians and lawyers to understand the language of the past, it is not of much cultural relevance today what a term meant in 1815, if that meaning no longer lives. The odor of a slur is hard to dispel. If any sports team deserves a name change, it is the Redskins.

But does it actually harm anybody today, or even offend many people who aren’t going looking for offense to take? It depends on whom you ask, and how. Widely cited polls conducted in 2004 and 2016 found little sentiment among Native Americans for demanding a name change.

19. The New York Times Gail Collins sucker-punched the Little Sisters of the Poor, fresh from their SCOTUS win. Kathryn Lopez hit back. From the piece:

The Collins op-ed was an insult to these remarkable women, and it was also an insulting dismissal of one of the most powerful images in Christianity. She begins with a hypothetical about a group of nuns whose devotion to the Sacred Heart was such that they created gods out of the human heart, essentially. What a cartoonish caricature. To see the Heart of Jesus as the prism through which you love is a transformative reality.

And, as it happens, there is a group of women religious founded with a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And instead of making an idol out of the human heart, they, with their foundress, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, started some of the first Catholic schools, orphanages, hospitals in the United States.

Some of our heroes of American history are missionaries who came here out of love of God and were trailblazers. This weekend, a California mission founded by Franciscan priest Junípero Serra was burned. And as the Little Sisters were given protection of basic religious freedom at the Court, hostility to these essentials of civil society certainly seems to be growing.

It, of course, doesn’t help that the Church wasn’t considered an essential service during the beginning weeks and months of pandemic shutdown. An accomplished woman treating these women who could help us all see God in the world more clearly as malicious simpletons should not pass without pushback. The Little Sisters of the Poor have been fighting for a most basic freedom, when they had plenty of others things to be doing. Among them: showing us how to love our elderly brothers and sisters — and family members.

20. As did Alexandra De Sanctis, who sent a knuckle sandwich Times-ward. From the piece:

But to Collins, what these nuns do outside the courtroom doesn’t even bear mentioning. Instead, she focuses her entire column on painting an entirely unsubstantiated picture of the Little Sisters as a mask for the real actor: Donald Trump and his hatred of female autonomy.

“You have to admit the anticontraception forces were brilliant to get the Little Sisters of the Poor as their star in court,” Collins writes, insinuating that the Trump administration, hiding behind the Little Sisters, is waging a war on birth control. But the fight at the heart of the Little Sisters case and the Trump exemptions isn’t a fight over contraception itself. (Though in my opinion it ought to be, as the fight over this mandate will never end until we address the Obama administration’s flawed presupposition that subsidized contraception is a necessary component of health care.)

This legal fight has been dragging on for nearly a decade now because the Obama administration and progressive state governments have refused to allow religious believers to operate businesses or their religious orders without underwriting birth control and abortion-inducing drugs, things that many faithful Americans find morally objectionable.

21. And then Ramesh Ponnuru threw a haymaker. It connected. From the piece:

Collins begins by spinning a hypothetical in which a group of nuns had a religious objection to cardiac care and refused to cover it for their employees. It would be absurd, she suggests, to allow this refusal.

In the past, people on Collins’s side of this argument have conjured hypothetical employers who refused to cover blood transfusions in line with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses or refused to cover health care at all following Christian Science tenets. No such actual cases have ever materialized, either in the pre–Obamacare mandate decades or in the years since the Supreme Court’s pro–religious liberty ruling in Hobby Lobby (2014). Perhaps that’s why we’ve moved on to wholly made-up religious beliefs.

But let’s take Collins’s hypothetical example more seriously than it deserves and think through what else would need to be true for it to be truly parallel to the cases we’ve actually been arguing about for the last eight years. In the full hypothetical, we would have had no mandate that cardiac care be covered for all of our history until recently. Then an administration would introduce that mandate but exempt the employers of tens of millions of people from it, often for reasons of administrative convenience, explaining to the Supreme Court (see p. 65) that these people would have plenty of sources of contraceptive coverage other than their employers. But it would simultaneously insist that the nuns who have a religious objection to the mandate should not get an exemption. And it would find no employee of theirs, in years of litigation, who expressed any concern about losing access to cardiac care.

Under these circumstances, it is hard to see how it could reasonably be maintained that making the nuns provide the coverage was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest — as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires. So even these hypothetical nuns might win their case, and deserve to.

22. Castro-smooching Wasp Network is dishonest and deceptive say Roberto González and Zoe Gladstone. From the review:

Although the director delivers a thrilling narrative, he deceives viewers unfamiliar with Cuban history. The film portrays the spies as courageous heroes who were just defending their homeland and the members of Cuban exile organizations, along with some of their leaders, as terrorists. Not only is this approach devoid of nuance, it’s a move that attempts to rewrite history in an irresponsible way. At the time, the Cuban Five were universally understood as a spy network that produced actionable intelligence enabling the Cuban government to commit extrajudicial killings.

The film falls short of being accurate in several ways. First, it does not contextualize the relationship between Cuban exile leaders — many of whom were forced to flee as refugees — and their homeland, nor does it show why certain members of the Cuban diaspora chose to establish civil-society groups abroad. These individuals were driven from their home country largely owing to their own government’s ruthless repression.

The Cuban Revolution pushed millions of people to leave the country as Fidel Castro proceeded to persecute and punish those who engaged in dissent. Fundamental freedoms were suppressed, and thousands of Cubans were imprisoned, beaten, and executed. Yet the director of Wasp Network has no qualms about letting his characters refer to legitimate political dissidents with the official label of “worm” in Spanish (which the English subtitles translate as “traitor”).

Many Cubans in exile began establishing organizations like the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and Brothers to the Rescue — both depicted in the movie — that were dedicated to a democratic transition on the island. Their activities did not go unnoticed by the Cuban regime, which suspected these organizations of planning to conduct guerrilla warfare against the government and even plotting terrorist attacks. Subsequently, the Cuban interior ministry commissioned several agents and tasked them to infiltrate some of these organizations in Miami as well as U.S. government facilities. The exact number of spies that operated in Florida is still unknown. Ten were arrested and tried in the U.S.; five of them pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. The remaining five are the ones Havana later lionized as the “Cuban Five.”

23. Phillip Magness sees the Constitution as a roadmap destined for racial equality. From the beginning of the piece:

A stunning legal drama unfolded before the King’s Bench in London in early 1772. James Somerset, a slave brought to England from the American colonies, petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus, which would free him from confinement on his enslaver’s ship. Lord Mansfield, the judge reviewing the case, granted the writ in a stinging rebuke of Somerset’s captors: “The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political; but only positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory.” As no such law existed in England proper, Somerset was to be freed.

The judgment’s narrow construction intentionally limited its immediate implications. When word of the case crossed the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote his abolitionist friend Anthony Benezet to denounce “the hypocrisy of this country, which encourages such a detestable commerce by laws for promoting the Guinea trade; while it piqued itself on its virtue, love of liberty, and the equity of its courts, in setting free a single negro.” Somerset’s case would nonetheless put the first chip in the legal edifice of plantation slavery, and with it set the foundations for a neglected tradition of anti-slavery constitutionalism.

When mentioned at all today, Somerset’s case often suffers from the political distortion of our present moment. The New York Times’ 1619 Project attempted to repurpose Mansfield’s ruling as evidence that the American colonies revolted some four years later in response to the existential threat that the case supposedly created for the colonial slave system. In reality, the British Empire still remained a half century removed from emancipation — a cause that found its earliest parliamentary support among Charles James Fox, Edmund Burke, and other Whig supporters of the American revolutionaries. And while the Times grudgingly walked back its claim that protecting slavery provided a primary impetus for the events of 1776, the paper offered no indication that Somerset’s brand of anti-slavery constitutionalism took root in the nascent United States.

The Six.

1. The Hungarian Review provides the second part of Daniel J. Mahoney’s important analysis of conservative French political philosophers taking on Communism and Western self-hate. From the essay:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago had a dramatic impact on French public opinion and intellectual life, when the first of its three volumes was published in France in early 1974. The scales of ideology, and ideological justification for criminality and tyranny that posed itself as progressive and emancipatory, seemed to massively fall from individual and collective eyes. But that positive reception to the greatest anti-totalitarian work of the 20th century was, in retrospect, rather misleading. Many French intellectuals turned almost immediately to an ideology of “human rights” as the alleged alternative to the totalitarianism that had deformed so much of the 20th century. They thus received Solzhenitsyn through the lenses of a modified version of the “thought of 68” — opposition to domination, to “heteronomous” institutions, to power in all its forms, was the effectual truth of anti-totalitarianism as they understood it. As Raymond Aron and the political theorist Marcel Gauchet both wrote almost simultaneously in 1980, such an anti-political understanding of human rights does not make for an effective or viable politics. It is another form of utopianism that tends to confuse authority as such with “totalitarian domination”. In this new understanding, rights have no ultimate ground and no recognisable limits, and thus become a form of self-assertion that limits true political deliberation and a reasonable articulation of a civic common good. This has also been a major theme of the recent political and philosophical reflection of Pierre Manent, most recently in Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason, published in English translation in early 2020. When human rights are affirmed in contradistinction to the goods of our nature, they eat away at those authoritative institutions (the nation, the Churches, the army, the family, the university) that once exercised salutary authority in free and decent societies. True anti-totalitarianism thus demands an affirmation of the moral law and legitimate authority and institutions. Moral anarchy is an invitation to lawless tyranny, and not its opposite or antidote.

Aron, who had always been reasonably but adamantly anti-totalitarian and anti-Communist, drew exactly the right lessons from his reading of The Gulag Archipelago. It might even be said that his engagement with Solzhenitsyn deepened his understanding of, and opposition to, Communism. He came to see that the “idealism” undergirding Communism was in fact as criminal and monstrous as the open brutality and cruelty heralded by National Socialism. A humanism, such as Marx’s, without any acknowledgment of unchanging moral principles above the human will, could not support ordered liberty or liberty under law. Far from it. As Aron wrote in 1976, in a lucid and passionate reflection on Solzhenitsyn and Sartre, Solzhenitsyn taught all of us committed to authentic liberty and human dignity that there is no other “defence against the raging of fanaticism” and “no other hope for the future than in respect for moral laws and the rejection of ideological knavery”. Liberty without an acknowledgment of the sempiternal distinction between good and evil was a dead end, one that provided no ground for opposition to modern tyranny and no support for a principled recognition of the inherent dignity of the human person. In an interview with the radio network France Culture in 1975, Aron declared himself, like Solzhenitsyn, “essentially anti-revolutionary”, since revolutions of an ideological stamp “cost very dearly and finally cause more evil than good”. Aron added that since personally witnessing the barbarism of Nazi totalitarianism unfold in Germany in the winter and spring of 1933, he had always tied together opposition to totalitarianism with the firmest rejection of the allure or illusion of revolution. Ideological revolution was both inherently nihilistic and an invitation to the most inhuman tyrannies in history. These lessons, affirmed in distinctive but complementary ways by Solzhenitsyn and Aron, are among what the distinguished French political theorist Chantal Delsol calls “the unlearned lessons of the twentieth century”. Too many intellectuals and activists associate hope in history with the revolutionary transformation of human nature and society. But as Aron often pointed out, the rejection of messianic illusions was a precondition for true politics, and in no way a reason for despair. Authentic politics has a dignity all its own.

The publication of The Black Book of Communism in France in 1998 was a revelatory moment. Even some of its contributors rejected any affirmation of moral symmetry between National Socialism and Communist totalitarianism. But all of them saw Communism as a grave threat to the lives, liberties and inherent dignity of human beings. But as Alain Besançon has pointed out, far too many intellectuals, journalists and politicians in France and abroad insisted in response to this great work that 85–100 million deaths at the hands of Communist regimes (and this estimate is a conservative one), and political and intellectual tyranny on an unprecedented scale, “did not in any way tarnish the Communist ideal”. One could not be a Nazi in good conscience after Auschwitz, and surely that is a very good thing. But one could be a Communist in good faith despite the Gulag, murderous collectivisation, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the Killing Fields in Cambodia. Emancipatory ideals justified every crime, every murder, as well as endless, soul-destroying mendacities. Like the decorated historian Eric Hobsbawm in the United Kingdom, these apologists for the unjustifiable would do it all over again if given the chance. And for the 22 years since the publication of the Black Book, esteemed intellectuals such as Badiou and Žižek have continued to applaud the “Communist idea” as the only real hope for humanity. That ideal, it appears, is never capable of being falsified or rejected. It is immune to moral and political judgement. It has the right to what Pierre Manent has called “human extraterritoriality”.

2. More from The Hungarian Review: John O’Sullivan reflects on cultural revolutions, of the Red Chinese and current Western varieties. From the essay:

As for almost all other Westerners in 1966 and later, we looked at the theory-intoxicated antics of the cultural revolutionaries with amazement and thought “it could never happen here”.

Well, it is happening here now, of course, at least in Britain and the United States, and even in parts of Western Europe and the Anglosphere, though less aggressively. The scenes of crowds burning cities, attacking the police, looting small businesses, and then in an illogical but somehow understandable progression, pulling down statues, destroying national symbols, and doing their best to erase familiar signposts and symbols of their (and our) own past leave little doubt about what is going on. It is a revolution against our culture, our history, our countries, and ourselves. Its immediate cause was the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman. That immediately became the worldwide symbol of racism against Black Americans, especially at the hands of the police, and it led in turn to a metastasising directionless anarchy.

We can explore many speculations about why this spread was so swift, dramatic, and largely un-resisted. People are bored and angry after eight weeks of lockdown. They are afraid of the economic consequences of COVID-19 which may bring about a sharp fall in their own standard of living, when the pandemic finally ends. They want to blame someone for their own anxieties, preferably the government which, as it happens, really deserves blame for its handling of the pandemic. A large body of unemployed graduates, some unemployable, others employable only in non-graduate jobs — in other words, the traditional cannon fodder of revolution — already existed and will inevitably soon be joined by others as the post-COVID economy sheds jobs made uneconomic by the lockdown. All of these things have combined to foster a climate of febrile discontent, free-floating anxiety, and distrust of authority that coincidentally distrusts itself.

All these help to explain the spread of anarchy once it has started. None explains why the murder of one man, George Floyd, in one country should start a revolution against the cultural symbols and identities of several nations which do not have the social evils that the murder supposedly symbolises. It is not as if the murder is being justified or covered up. On the contrary, it is universally condemned; it seems likely to be punished with remarkable speed (by the standards of American justice); and it is not even one particular example of a general war on Black America by racist police because, though it is dangerous to say so, there is no such war.

Black Americans suffer many serious social disadvantages, but they are the result of many causes most of which are unrelated to the racism of cops and other Americans. The figures for fatal shootings of men by the police show that about two thirds of such victims are white and one third black — amounting to nine people last year. In addition, such shootings have been falling for several years. Admittedly, police shootings of black men are disproportionately high in relation to the Black percentage of the population, but they are disproportionately low in relation to Black involvement in crime. And they are very few in comparison with the overwhelming majority of murders of Blacks committed by other Blacks. Even though racism plays a part in the social problems of Black America, it is not the main explanation of those problems, let alone a complete one.

3. The great George Nash marks the 60th Anniversary of the late Russell Kirk’s dynamic quarterly, The University Bookman. From the reflection:

Volume I, number 1 of the University Bookman appeared in the autumn of 1960. The journal’s subtitle — “A Quarterly Review of Educational Materials” — defined its sphere of interest. Its opening editorial, written by Kirk, defined its purpose: “To restore and improve the standards of higher education in America” (italics in the original). In keeping with his sponsor’s roots and raison d’être, Kirk announced that his “bulletin” would concentrate on reviewing college and university textbooks and engage in “sensible criticism” of contemporary educational theory and practice. “The return to first principles of liberal and scientific study,” he added, “and the imaginative betterment of state and private institutions in this country,” would be “our objectives.” Twice he promised that the bulletin’s approach would be “temperate”: a subtle distancing, perhaps, from the controversies in which Mrs. Crain had become embroiled while editor of the Educational Reviewer. As if to underscore the loftiness of his ambition, the bulletins’ cover contained a Latin motto: “Ex Aequo et Bono” (“According to the Right and the Good”).

On one subject Kirk was unyielding: “As president of The Educational Reviewer,” he said of himself, he was “wholly his own master, and can criticize without dread of publishers, college administrators, professors, or business managers.” He did not intend to endure again the unpleasantness he had experienced at Michigan State College and Modern Age.

In some ways the launching of the University Bookman was unusual, particularly in 1960. What other new magazine in that era would have announced itself to the world with a Latin motto and a sketch of a Greek Doric column on its cover? The bulletin was not flashy in appearance. It contained no advertising. Its size was small: only twenty-four pages at first (and eventually just forty). The pages themselves were barely 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches. Rarely, in its early years, did a quarterly issue contain more than a handful of articles. In content, tone, and self-presentation the publication seemed almost defiantly countercultural, evoking an earlier era.

Yet Kirk had one unique advantage: because the University Bookman was distributed free to National Review’s subscribers, the little bulletin debuted in 1960 with a circulation of more than 30,000 — more than nearly every academic and literary periodical in the United States. As National Review’s circulation increased, so, too, did the University Bookman’s, until, sometime in the Age of Reagan, it exceeded 100,000.

4. At Gatestone Institute, Burak Bekdil analyzes the roots of Erdogan’s decree turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. From the report:

Erdoğan comes from the ranks of political Islam, which made its debut in Turkey in the late 1960s — and was not then on the global radar. In the 1970s, Islamists of all flavors, including Erdoğan’s mentor, Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, made the “Hagia Sophia Mosque” a symbol of the completion of Istanbul’s conquest. The iconic church also became a symbol in the Islamists’ fight against Atatürk’s secularism.

Why now? Erdoğan possibly thought the move could reverse the ongoing erosion of his popularity due, among others, to a looming economic crisis. All the same, it appears to be wrongly timed, as presidential and parliamentary elections are three years from now and Turks are notorious for not having a good memory. Praying at the Hagia Sophia Mosque will not turn a hungry man into a happy man.

The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque has once again underlined the insane racism of the majority in Turkey against the sanity of a dwindling minority.

One Muslim theologian, Cemil Kılıç, argued against the decision: “This is against the Quranic commandments,” he said. “Prophet Mohammed never converted a Jewish or Christian house of prayer into a mosque.”

5. At The College Fix, Greg Piper has the pathetic story of UCONN’s just-elected student government leaders resigning because they are . . . white. From the article:

It’s a view also embraced by the president and vice president of the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government, who spurned the students who voted for them four months ago by resigning their elected positions.

Their rationale is both ludicrous and probably genuine: White people shouldn’t lead.

VP Alex Ose was the first to go last week, according to The Daily Campus. She cited “the climate and incidents of racial injustice across the country and at the university” without elaborating on what’s wrong at UConn (or why she can’t address the perceived problem as an elected official):

I feel that it is my duty to step down from my position to make space for BIPOC (black, indigineous and people of color) voices to truly rise and be heard. It is my responsibility to make space, not to create an echo.

Ose is also pressuring the remaining white members of the student government to resign, asking them to consider their “intent” in student leadership (to lead?) and whether they “truly” believe “they are making space for the voices that need to be heard right now” — the aforementioned BIPOCs.

President Joshua Crow didn’t go that far when he announced his own resignation prompted by white guilt two days later.

“It is important in this time to ensure that marginalized groups have the platforms they need,” he said, according to The Daily Campus. (Their paralyzing white guilt makes a little more sense when you consider that Crow and Ose beat a nonwhite ticket, Jase Valle and Guymara Manigat.)

6. At Quillette, Canadian journalist Margaret Wente recounts her cancellation. From the story:

Massey College was created in the early 1960s by Torontonians eager to evoke the genteel old Oxbridge days. And it remains a charming place, though a bit precious. It is made up of senior fellows (distinguished professors from the university, as well as luminaries from the city’s intellectual elite) and junior fellows (graduate students), who don their gowns to dine together, and perhaps mingle over a glass of port. The senior fellows are overwhelmingly white; the junior fellows increasingly multicultural. Until recently, the head of the college held the anachronistic title of “Master”, after the British style. Yet despite these antiquated trappings, Massey College prides itself on being a vibrant forum for high-minded debate and liberal ideals.

The college has an appendage called the Quadrangle Society, which is basically a jumped-up book club. Its members, of whom there are hundreds, are drawn from the non-academic world. Although membership is by invitation only, it is not terribly exclusive, and nobody is quite sure of its purpose. It is a WASPish take on what once might have been called a “salon” — back in the days when words like that could be used unironically without provoking eye rolls.

Last winter, I was asked to join. I said yes because I have several friends who belong to the Quadrangle Society, and I thought this would be a fun excuse for us to have lunch together in Massey’s great hall. Two Quadranglers wrote too-kind nomination letters for me. I was assured that the approval process was a mere formality. And sure enough, in due course I received a call from the recently appointed head (whose title now has been changed to “Principal”). She was delighted to inform me that I’d been accepted. And there my troubles began.

I am a journalist, now mostly retired, who for several decades served as a senior editor, and then an opinion columnist, for the Globe and Mail, the closest thing Canada has to a New York Times. Some of my opinions were controversial — or at least what passes for controversial in this country. My specialty was deflating Canada’s numerous liberal pieties. I did it rather well. Among Canada’s liberal elites, who take their pieties very seriously, I was an abomination.

Baseballery

Once upon a time, back when teams named the Robins and Browns and Senators played, the “save” was not a formal concept, nor did it carry statistical bragging rights. Yes, the save was real: The infamous 1927 New York Yankees, with 110 wins, had 22 of them.

In the era of the complete game, saves were nothing like they are in modern times. Freg’sample: Even the lowly 2019 Detroit Tigers, with a painful 47-114 record, registered 31 saves.

It all prompts the meaningless-yet-entertaining curiosity: Who were the last single-digit leaders in saves for the AL and NL? It must have been once upon a time, and it was: The answers are two interesting hurlers who pitched mostly in the 1940s. As regards the Junior Circuit: Bob Klinger actually broke into the majors as an aged rookie — he was 30 when he earned a 12-5 record for the 1938 Pittsburgh Pirates (in first place in the season’s last week, the Bucs dropped 6 of 7 games and finished two games behind the pennant-winning Cubs). Used as a starter over the next few seasons, war interrupted Klinger’s career, and upon returning to the Pirates after World War Two service in 1946, he fond himself released without ever playing a game. It turned out to be a lucky break: In May the pennant-bound Red Sox signed him as a free agent, and assigned him to the bullpen. There Klinger performed well, becoming the Red Sox top closer, with his 3-2 record accompanied by a league-leading 9 saves. That was the last time an AL saves leader would be in single-digit territory.

Klinger appeared in one game in the classic 1946 World Series against the Red Sox, and it involved him in one of the National Pastime’s greatest moments. Brought in to relieve in Game Seven in the bottom of the 8th, the contest knotted at 3-3, he gave up a single to Enos Slaughter, then got two outs, but then served up a textbook single (later ruled a double) to Cardinals outfielder Harry Walker. But Slaughter was off with the pitch, and scored from first — his famous mad dash — to give the Cardinals the lead and the victory. Klinger took the loss. He would pitch in 28 games for the Bosox in 1947, then kicked around the minors for a couple of years before hanging up the spikes at the age of 42.

Sitting in the Cardinals bullpen that October day in 1946 was a 30-year-old righthander named Ted Wilks, known as “Cork,” and like Klinger, he appeared in the Majors as an old rookie (28) in 1944, also like Klinger debuted with a splash: His 17-4 record — earned mostly as a starter — for the NL pennant winners made him the league leader in winning percentage (.810). Within two years though, Wilks was a full-time reliever, and in 1946 he was 8-0 for the Birds. In that year’s World Series, he had one appearance (in Game Three, giving up an unearned run on two hits in a 4-0 loss to Boston).

That wasn’t Wilks first Fall Classic: He was the starting and losing pitcher in Game 3 of the 1944 Series against the St. Louis Browns (the last and one of only two post-season games the Browns would ever win), and he was on the mound to earn the save in the final game, throwing 3 2/3 innings of hitless ball to secure the Cardinals’ championship.

Wilks led the NL in saves in 1949 with 9 — the last time the league ace in that category was ever so measly. He also led the NL in saves in 1951 (13–1 coming for his Cardinals, and then, having been traded in June to the Pirates, registering another dozen for the Bucs). He went on the pitch for the Indians, retiring as a player after the 1953 season having earned a career 59-30 record.

It’s been 37 years since anyone led either league with fewer than (or is it less than?) 30 saves.

A Dios

Speaking of saves . . . may the Creator of us, the Ancient of Days, save this country — a thing unto itself but also a beacon to all mankind — from the malicious thugs intent on eradicating our history, and promising a tormenting future. Seriously: Ask the Alpha to boot them beyond the Omega.

Abundant Graces and Blessings and All Things Holy that Will Sanctify You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can be scolded by pitch-count nerds at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Now that Editor Phil has escaped, the Humble Correspondent, being on his own — not only to assemble this weekly conservative cornucopia, but to get it all website-inputted (a verb?) and then e-mail-readied for its Saturday deliverance by the Interweb Postal Service — will put this sucker to bed on Friday mornings. Alas, content that is published on NR in the ensuing hours will have to wait another week for it to get Jolt-ified.

National Review

Happy 23rd of Messidor

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

If the Gregorian calendar still holds, the French national holiday falls this coming week, and while Francophiles may celebrate with baguettes and ratatouille and a bottle of Bordeaux with a Cointreau chaser, it’s worth remembering that the original Bastille Day triggered events and enormous bloodshed — never mind the crazed changes of calendars (today is the tridi of the third décade of “Messidor,” just a few jours away from “Thermidor”) and clocks (decimal time!) — and a revolution, quite unlike the American one. No surprise then that it inspired Marxism and other wicked ideologies that place murder and mayhem atop Page One of the S.O.P. manual.

The Terror’s echo has been heard throughout the centuries, and here and now in the Land of the Free, whose destruction is the stuff of Antifa dreams. And practices. Since our last missive, it seems President Trump may have found some footing and launched a counterattack to the madness: His Mount Rushmore speech has been judged a triumph by Our Esteemed Editor. Mr. Lowry’s column had this to say in part:

It would be difficult to get a more textbook expression of the American civic religion than the speech at Rushmore. It would be difficult to get a more wide-ranging appreciation of the warriors, inventors, adventurers, reformers, entertainers, and athletes who have made the country what it is. It’d be difficult to get a more affirming account of the greatness of America and its meaning to the world.

And, yet, the speech was tested and found wanting.

Trump’s attacks on what he called “a new far-left fascism” and a cultural revolution “designed to overthrow the American Revolution” were indeed hard-edged, but who can doubt the basic truth of the claims?

There’s a fear afoot in the land, as a merciless authoritarian spirit informs a spate of firings and cancellations. The day before Trump’s speech, a Boeing executive resigned over something he had written . . . in 1987.

To be found below: more on America’s current troubles and their French influences. And praise for Editor Phil, who leaves us this week. And before we engorge ourselves on the smorgasbord of wisdom awaiting, let us note that our colleague Ramesh Ponnuru realized this Thursday past that it was the 25th anniversary of his joining the NR staff. Here’s betting he will register another 25. Kudos comrade.

Now . . . on with the WJ!

Editorials

1. A Hosanna for Independence Day. From the editorial:

Today, Adams’s augury is in jeopardy — but not from pedants and quibblers obsessed with dates, but from unreconstructed Jacobins who have taken square aim at the Founding itself. Abraham Lincoln believed that alongside its contingent grievances the Declaration of Independence contained an “abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times,” and served as “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” America’s 21st-century skeptics contend, on the other hand, that the American Revolution was, at best, superfluous, and, at worst, a malicious lie. In this telling, Jefferson’s magisterial words are little more than a dazzling awning that obfuscates and distracts from the rotten ground below. July 2nd, 1776? July 4th, 1776? Who cares? For them, the crucial moment came a century and a half earlier, when the first slave ship arrived. If we are to reflect upon any date “Time forward forever more,” they insist that it should be from then.

We firmly reject this view, which is built upon falsehood, elision, and misunderstanding, and which represents the very opposite of a healthy historical review. Despite the most ardent hopes of Thomas Paine, the American Revolution did not “begin the world over again” and return man to Eden. But it did represent an extraordinary step forward — a step that crystallized into a handful of crisp sentences the unalienable rights of man; a step that prompted a reevaluation of the sin of slavery, which had marred man’s virtue since he first stepped out of the caves; a step that led to the crafting of the most ingenious Constitution yet devised; a step that inspired George Washington, the man who could have been king, to relinquish his power not once but twice and, thereby, to set a world-changing example of the primacy of law over ambition. Unlike their counterparts in France, whose project descended swiftly into terror, dictatorship, and then various flavors of monarchy, the American Founders understood that they could not reset the clock to zero, but do as much as was open to them and leave the rest to the future.

That future would, of course, be bitterly contested. But, ultimately, the spirit that animated the Founding would prevail. Faced by a movement that sought openly to reject the Revolution and the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln concluded in 1859 that “it is now no child’s play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.” Child’s play it most certainly was not, but the principles were saved, just as, a century later, they were vindicated again by a man who held them aloft as the “promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” The “bank of justice,” Martin Luther King insisted, was not “bankrupt” and should not be assumed to be.

2. Sometimes having principles means you have to do things such as . . . defend contemptuous blowhards like Matt Ygelsias. From the editorial:

We can think of a dozen reasons to criticize Yglesias, but the Vox writer currently is under fire for signing a letter critical of “cancel culture.” For criticizing cancel culture, Yglesias might very well end up being canceled.

It begins, as these things do, with a tiny little voice squeaking about being made unsafe by the expression of contrary opinions. Emily (formerly Todd) VanDerWerff, a critic at Vox, is incensed that Yglesias would sign his name alongside that of such great monsters of our time as Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling and other “prominent anti-trans voices,” a letter that allegedly contains “many dog whistles towards anti-trans positions.” Such an outrage, VanDerWerff wrote, “makes me feel less safe at Vox.” What else? “I don’t want Matt to be reprimanded or fired” — Mr. Chekhov gently lays down his revolver — but “I do want to make clear that those beliefs cost him nothing.”

This is, of course, dishonest drivel. VanDerWerff no more felt threatened by Yglesias’s name on a letter than Amy Cooper felt threatened by that Ivy League bird-watcher in Central Park. This is simply the weaponization of victim status by vindictive, sophomoric busybodies who cannot bear the fact that someone else sees the world in a different way.

“Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial,” the letter begins. “Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.” It is very difficult to credit the honesty of someone who claims to be threatened by such sentiments.

Final Call for Applications for NR Institute Regional Fellows in Dallas, San Francisco, and Chicago

Procrastinators have been warned: National Review Institute has announced the last call for applications for its Fall 2020 Regional Fellowship Programs in Dallas, San Francisco, and Chicago. We urge you to apply.

“You?” Who is this you who should apply? Glad you asked: The ideal applicant for the program — which helps participants develop a deeper understanding of the foundations of conservative thought — will be a mid-career professional (ages 35-50ish), with an interest, but not professional experience, in policy or journalism. Past fellows have represented diverse industries and professions ranging from oil and gas, finance, real estate, medicine, sporting industries, law enforcement, education, nonprofits, and the arts.

The program takes place over eight moderated dinner discussions. The 2020 class will run from September to November. Moderators include popular NR writers and leading academics at local universities. The rewards of participating are plentiful and will last a lifetime. The deadline to apply is July 15 — which is coming at us like a freight train — so we encourage interested conservatives, libertarians, and the curious to apply right now. Because yes, in a few days, it will indeed be too late.

You’ll find more information about the Program here. What if you don’t live in one of the three program cities, but know folks who do and who might be NRI fellow material? Go ahead and please share with them this link. Many thanks.

Nearly a Score of Exceptional Articles that Storm the Bastille of Leftism to Free the Captives of Ideology

1. Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that cultural revolutions, like the French version of 1793, seem to alter time and history, yearning for a Year Zero. From the essay:

In the exhilaration of exercising power ruthlessly and unchecked, the cultural revolutionists soon turn on their own: poor Trump-hating Dan Abrams losing his cop reality show, the two liberal trial lawyers armed on their mansion lawn in St. Louis terrified of the mob entering their gated estate community, bewildered CHOP activists wondering where the police were once mayhem and death were among them, the inner city of Chicago or New York in the age of police drawbacks wondering how high the daily murder rate will climb once shooters fathom that there are no police, and inner-city communities furious that the ER is too crowded with shooting victims to properly treat COVID-19 arrivals.

Do we now really expect that the Wilson Center in Washington will be cancelled, the Washington Monument cut down to size, and Princeton, Yale, and Stanford renamed?

The logic of the revolution says yes, but the liberal appeasers of it are growing uneasy. They are realizing that their own elite status and referents are now in the crosshairs. And so they are on the verge of becoming Thermidors.

And what will the new icons be under our new revolutionary premises?

Will we say the old statues were bad because they were not perfect, but the new replacements are perfect despite being a tad bad in places? Will we dedicate more memorials to Martin Luther King Jr., the great advocate of the civil-rights movement, or do we focus instead on his plagiarism, his often poor treatment of women, and his reckless promiscuity? Gandhi is gone, but who replaces him, Subhas Chandra Bose? Will Princeton rename their school of diplomacy in honor of the martyred Malcom X, slain by the black nationalist Nation of Islam? Malcom may now become ubiquitous, but he said things about white people that would have made what Wilson said about black people look tame.

2. Red China’s loan-shark diplomacy in the South Pacific needs to be countered by the US, writes Therese Shaheen. From the analysis:

President Xi’s Jingping’s regime uses debt and related pressure to trap a range of low-income countries into doing its bidding. The main vehicle for this tactic is Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar program meant to project Chinese influence through a string of investments abroad. The basic idea is to invest loads of Chinese cash in countries that can’t afford to turn it down, and then leverage the resulting debt to secure control of strategically important infrastructure in those countries. It has worked swimmingly in Sri Lanka, where China now controls a major strategic port, and in Djibouti, where it now controls a port and a military installation.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is currently attempting to repeat the same pattern in the South Pacific. Take Tonga, a Polynesian nation of 106,000 that spans an archipelago of nearly 170 islands in the South Pacific, only one in five of which is populated. In 2018, the country’s GDP was about $450 million, or roughly what Texas A&M spent to renovate its football stadium a few years ago. It is a tiny, impoverished nation. It is also one of several countries caught in the PRC’s diplomatic debt trap: It owes China about $125 million, a little over a quarter of that GDP total.

Tonga’s plight is instructive. In 2006, anti-government, pro-democracy riots nearly destroyed the capital, Nuku‘alofa. The riots capped years of internal frustration with the Tongan royal family and its crony-capitalist government. After the unrest died down, Beijing stepped in to “help.” Between refinancing and interest, an initial $65 million loan had nearly doubled in cost by 2018, when Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva organized several other South Pacific nations to seek debt relief from Beijing. By then, eight South Pacific nations had accumulated more than a billion dollars in debt to China over the prior decade.

At the time, Pohiva expressed concerns that debt forgiveness would come at the cost of strategic assets, as it had in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Yet he had no choice: Tonga ended up joining the Belt and Road Initiative in exchange for a five-year deferment of the debt. China has its hooks in his country, and there’s no telling what concessions it could extract in the future.

3. Red China’s refusal to engage with the U.S. in arms talks raises concerns, writes Rebeccah Heinrichs, that Beijing might be planning to supersize its nuclear arsenal. From the analysis:

We know that China maintains the most diverse missile force on the planet. And we know that China has a nuclear-weapons program that it claims is purely for defensive purposes. We also now know that the Chinese are growing their nuclear stockpile.

At the Hudson Institute in May 2019, Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said publicly what had until that point been highly classified. He stated: “Over the next decade, China will likely at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile in the course of implementing the most rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal in China’s history.”

Of course the DIA director was unable to explain how he knew that, lest he reveal his sources and methods. But his inability to say more frustrated and downright angered some people determined to keep their heads firmly fixed in the sand. It is less taxing and more pleasant, after all, to choose to believe that the nation with the second largest economy on the planet has no intention to threaten the United States with the worst kind of weapon man has invented.

Some analysts and commentators insist that even if it’s true that China might one day grow its arsenal, its supposedly relatively small number of nuclear weapons and delivery systems that can carry them to the U.S. mainland are not menacing. The insistence is not an argument, nor is it compelling on its face.

The size of the Chinese economic engine and its nuclear program’s opacity should cause us to conclude that if the CCP decides to dramatically expand its nuclear forces, it certainly could without warning. Indeed, in May of this year the Global Times, a propagandist megaphone for the CCP, stridently said: “China needs to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time. It needs to have at least 100 Dongfeng-41 strategic missiles.” That isn’t exactly undermining General Ashley’s public assessment about the direction of the CCP’s program.

4. More ChiCommie Stuff: Joseph Sullivan charts the staggering amount of Peking’s intellectual-property theft. From the piece:

But how much, really, does Chinese theft of American intellectual property amount to? The question matters. If the actual number is relatively small, the U.S. should not be willing to incur too many costs in an attempt to sort this matter out.  If, on the other hand, the costs of the larcenous status quo are large, the U.S. should be willing to go to considerable expense to remedy the problem.

One answer, based on information from a 2017 report by the U.S. Intellectual Property Commission, is between 0.87 and 2.61 percent of annual U.S. GDP. The commission estimates that IP theft worldwide costs the U.S. between 1 and 3 percent of its annual GDP. The report, citing data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also indicates that 87 percent of the counterfeit goods seized by customs officials come from China (including Hong Kong). If you then assume that China’s share of seized counterfeit products (87 percent) corresponds to its share of the economic cost to the U.S. from IP theft, this range provides upper and lower bounds for China’s share of these costs.

This assumption leads, if anything, to an understatement of China’s share of the cost. As Director Wray laid out, China’s “diverse and multi-layered approach” to IP theft utilizes a plethora of tactics, from “outright physical theft” to cyberhacking. China’s true share of the damages is therefore likely to be, if anything, higher than its footprint in the market specifically for brick-and-mortar counterfeit goods.

5. The media is waging a war on words. David Harsanyi is calling out the bull doodles. From the article:

The recent assaults on the English language have consisted largely of euphemisms and pseudoscientific gibberish meant to obscure objective truths — “cisgender,” “heteronormativity,” and so on. Now we’re at the stage of the revolution where completely inoffensive and serviceable words are branded problematic.

CNN recently pulled together its own list of words and phrases with racist connotations that have helped bolster systemic racism in America. Unsuspecting citizens, the piece explains, may not even be aware they are engaging in this linguistic bigotry, because most words are “so entrenched that Americans don’t think twice about using them. But some of these terms are directly rooted in the nation’s history with chattel slavery. Others now evoke racist notions about Black people.” Or, in other words, the meaning of these phrases and words are so obscured by history that the average person wouldn’t even know to be offended if it weren’t for CNN.

The term “peanut gallery” — as in “please, no comment from the peanut gallery” — is racist because it harkens back to the days when poor and black Americans were relegated to back sections of theaters. Now, I hate to be pedantic, but “peanut gallery” isn’t “directly rooted” in the nation’s history of “chattel slavery.” As CNN’s own double-bylined story points out, the cliché wasn’t used until after the Civil War. For that matter, few of the words and phrases that CNN alleges are problematic are rooted, even in the most tenuous sense, in the transatlantic slave trade.

6. What can a president do to quell violence permitted by reckless local officials? Andy McCarthy looks at the options. From the piece:

That kind of enforcement approach can make a difference. And to give the president’s point its due, while the feds do not need to be invited in, things work a lot better for the public when there is cooperation between the Justice Department and the locals.

With non-drug street crimes, it is not as easy for the feds to make an impact. The FBI investigates lots of murders and violent crimes attributable to organized crime groups (which commonly traffic in illegal drugs, too). But what federalizes these groups is their tendency to be interstate “enterprises” (to borrow the salient term in racketeering law). Mafia “families,” to take the best example, operate throughout the country. It is rarely much of a challenge for prosecutors to show an effect on interstate or even foreign commerce, the jurisdictional hook that justifies federal prosecution.

But local street gangs are a challenge for the feds. The so-called Hobbs Act makes it a federal crime to commit an extortion or robbery; but there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a real effect on interstate commerce. This can be difficult to establish if the violent-crime victim is not a thriving business (whether legal or illegal). For example, it is not enough for prosecutors to show that stolen money had to have been minted in another state. The courts have made it clear that the Commerce Clause is not so elastic that every push-in robbery becomes a federal crime.

Congress has found federal interests in firearms, particularly their interstate trafficking and possession by prohibited persons (e.g., felons). Their use or possession in connection with violent crimes is criminalized . . . but only if the violent crime is one over which there is already federal jurisdiction (e.g., drug or racketeering crimes). A similar jurisdictional problem has hampered Congress’s effort to criminalize street gangs. Unless prosecutors can establish an effect on interstate commerce and the commission of federal crimes (that’s essentially redundant), there is no federal case.

7. Robert Doar explains why denying progress in the areas of civil rights and poverty reduction is central to the Left. From the essay:

Too often, the new voices taking over our national discussion decline to acknowledge how much America has changed since 1960. The work of the anti-racist progressives is full of false comparisons of America’s present with its past. “The popular narrative that emphasizes the death of slavery,” writes Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, “is dangerously misguided.” In his 2015 memoir, Ta-Nehisi Coates describes “police forces transformed into armies,” and “the long war against the black body.” Robin DiAngelo even suggests that “racism’s [modern] adaptations over time are more sinister than concrete rules such as Jim Crow.”

The radical culture’s rejection of the facts about change in our country is most pervasive in two important aspects of American life: civil rights and the fight to reduce poverty. In rejecting the current state of America, radical leaders don’t recognize the progress we have made in securing voting rights, improving educational opportunities, and promoting economic advancement for black and minority Americans. They likewise deny that the enactment and implementation of a long series of large and costly federal and state programs, combined with the employment offered by a thriving free-market economy, have led to a dramatic decline in poverty.

Given how our schools teach American history and what is contained in our mainstream media and culture, it is not surprising that young people buy into this rejection of history. The story of America’s racist past is just so simplified, so compelling in its portrayal of good vs. evil, that it has been adopted as the story of America’s racist present.

That is why the awful actions of individual police officers are so compelling for the Left. Regardless of their infrequency in the context of policing, these terrible incidents are a perfect fit for the misperceptions and political ambitions of activists. The story becomes not about police abuse in liberal Minneapolis (how did that happen?) but racism in conservative America.

8. George Weigel excoriates the U.S. Navy for banning personnel from attending religious services, and then hiding from the calls of a Catholic bishop. From the article:

Word of this has not, it seems, reached the high echelons of the United States Navy, for many naval commands recently issued orders prohibiting the participation of Navy personnel in religious services off base. Both enlisted personnel and officers are required to sign affidavits that they have received those orders and that they know they will be held accountable for disobeying them. Checks have been instituted to ensure compliance, and Big Brother is watching: One Catholic naval aviator who attended an off-base Mass was asked if he had done so, answered honestly, and was immediately quarantined, his naval future in jeopardy.

Weirdly, these orders were also extended to “civilian personnel, including families,” who were “discouraged from” attending indoor church services. As Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, pointed out in an Independence Day weekend statement, this was simply bizarre: “Of course, the Navy cannot legally prohibit family members from frequenting religious services off base. Those family members return home where the military member lives. What is the protective effect of the prohibition for the Navy personnel? Zero.”

The prohibition on naval personnel attending religious services off base, which seems to rest on an assumption of probable irresponsibility by men and women who are otherwise assumed to be responsible in handling nuclear-powered ships, high-performance aircraft, and all manner of lethal weapons, strikes at every believer in the Navy. It has, however, a particularly harsh effect on Catholics. Navy parsimony has pared religious-affairs budgets to the bone. Three on-base Catholic chapels at West Coast naval installations are closing, which will intensify an already serious problem: For many Navy Catholics, on-base Masses are simply not available, and the only recourse is to attend Mass off base. Now these patriots, sworn to protect the Constitution with their lives if necessary, are being forbidden to exercise their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, on pain of disciplinary action or an end to their service careers.

9. Fred Bauer explains why e pluribus unum is fingernails on the chalkboard of the Wokeatariat. From the article:

Yet men and women are not merely blank tokens in some war of ideas — that was one of the great delusions of the mass ideological movements that transfixed the 20th century (most notably Communism). Politics involves not only intellectual debates but also the cultivation of character and attention to the lived circumstances of everyday life. Faced with grave constitutional challenges, the Founders of the American republic did not rest content with an affirmation of principles but instead worked to create a certain structure of government that would help promote the institutions and practices of a more perfect union. They undertook certain measures to promote certain ends for the public welfare — from infrastructure policies to trade efforts to building a military to securing the federal debt. The success of the American republic would depend on the building of certain institutional capital. Again, the Civil War is instructive here. The ideals of the Union played an important role in securing victory and ending slavery, but railways, cannon, and the smoke-streaming factories of the North gave a crude force to those animating principles.

American policymakers long recognized the importance that these lived resources had for liberty. However, whirl of globalization obscured that understanding. The free movement of people, goods, and capital across the globe seemed an eschaton close to immanentization. The tensions and displacements of globalization then grew increasingly obvious. A string of debacles — in foreign affairs, in the economy, and so forth — and successive waves of populist backlash were testament to an increasingly strained paradigm. Yet more than a few policymakers hoped that a sufficient eloquence on behalf of certain ideas of the “open society” and in condemning various deplorable ideologies (whether populism or nationalism or some other horrible) could overcome the lived disruptions. Rhetorical ornamentation alone could create the conditions for a robust democratic regime.

10. Mark Mills finds that “green” energy suffers from a serious case of overseas dependence. And a lot of it is pretty creepy. From the analysis:

But now House Democrats propose that green-energy subsidies must be a key feature in any infrastructure stimulus — and they’ve recently been seriously considering a $1.5 trillion version of such a bill. That legislation seems unlikely to pass the Senate, or a presidential veto, but we can be sure the idea won’t go away. Ironically, this comes on the heels of the coronavirus crisis exposing supply-chain vulnerabilities that have triggered a push to on-shore many industries, not just medical manufacturing.

America imports some 80 percent of the electrical components (i.e., the key stuff other than the concrete, steel, and fiberglass) used in wind turbines. About 90 percent of our solar panels are imported. And even if solar cells were fabricated here, the U.S. produces only 10 percent of the world’s essential underlying silicon material. China produces half.

But the bigger story is in the staggering quantities of materials needed to fabricate green hardware, many of them “critical minerals,” from cobalt and lithium, to neodymium and dysprosium. Replacing machines fueled by hydrocarbons with green machines entails, on average, using ten times more primary materials for the same energy output.

For a sense of what this implies in material dependencies, consider that wind and solar, which supply less than 4 percent of America’s energy, will have to expand exponentially to replace the hydrocarbons that supply 80 percent. And while essentially all hydrocarbons we use are produced domestically, nearly all of the green “energy materials” are produced overseas. And many of those critical minerals are sourced from problematic or troubled places such as Russia, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. Chile, recently rocked by citizen uprisings, has the world’s greatest lithium resources.

11. David Seminara is worried about the decline of American patriotism From the article:

We tend to take our beautiful country for granted, focusing on its problems rather than its blessings, but millions of aspiring migrants around the world understand what a comparatively excellent place to live America is. In 2018, more than 23 million foreign nationals applied to take part in our green-card lottery. Every country has its problems, and we certainly have our fair share. Freedom of speech is under attack here like never before. Discrimination is still a problem. But these are issues that are by no means unique to us.

Mark Twain once defined patriotism as “supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” Americans have historically come together during times of crisis, but this isn’t happening now, in part because many on the left don’t subscribe to Twain’s maxim. Some are still so outraged that 62 million Americans voted for Donald Trump that they now view our country as an irredeemably tarnished place.

Those folks would do well to recognize that America is a lot bigger than the presidency. Elections matter, but presidents come and go; our country endures. As the 19th century House speaker and secretary of state James Blaine once said, “There is no ‘Republican,’ no ‘Democrat,’ on the Fourth of July — all are Americans. All feel that their country is greater than party.”

I never appreciated our country more than when I was serving it as a diplomat overseas. When you visit other countries, they’re novel and appealing in some ways. But the more time you spend, particularly in dysfunctional global hot spots, of which there are unfortunately many, the more you realize that our problems are comparatively quite manageable.

12. Bernice Lerner tells the maddening and powerful story of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, and its survivors’ plight. From the piece:

Upon entering Bergen-Belsen, Glyn Hughes found himself responsible for an unprecedented situation: Nothing had been done to accommodate hordes of inmates, most of whom had long suffered terror and depredations. With no habitable housing, no sanitary facilities, no food and no water, the camp was, in the words of a survivor, the “worst of the worst.” In his vast experience of war, Hughes had seen “nothing to touch it.”

One year earlier, Hughes, as DDMS of Britain’s 8 Corps, was preparing for the evacuation and treatment of battle casualties. From Operation Overlord (D- Day) to the fighting in Normandy, to ensuing battles in the Netherlands and finally, in Germany, he oversaw the work of medical units, commandeered hospitals, coordinated with military leaders, and tackled problems — including “exhaustion,” the World War II version of shell shock. Facing Germany’s Waffen-SS divisions — fighters who would go to the limits of endurance for the Volk, Führer, and Fatherland — inexperienced British soldiers met booby traps, surprise attacks, and the enemy’s powerful, dreaded weapons.

Beyond the battlefield, Hughes encountered horrific scenes — asylums in Venraij, Holland, where hundreds had been kept in bunkers without any provisions for hygiene; stalag (POW) and oflag (officer) camps in Germany. But nothing would compare to the concentration camp that Heinrich Himmler would — defying Hitler’s orders — formally turn over to the approaching Allied forces, ridding the Germans of a situation that threatened the local population (diseased inmates might escape), that had gotten out of control.

On the afternoon of April 15, Hughes conducted a reconnaissance of Bergen-Belsen. He estimated that of the sick and dying, he and his men would be unable to save 14,000. Wondering how to begin the rescue operation, he despaired. Second Army divisions were still engaged in battle; he had few available medical units to call upon. Feeding the starved, disinfecting and evacuating dying patients to a yet-to-be-readied hospital, and burying thousands of dead posed enormous logistical challenges.

13. Greg Weiner considers great men, flawed men, to-be-cancelled men. From the piece:

Which brings us to the nearly surreal, yet pending, cancelation of Abraham Lincoln. After the toppling of General Grant in Golden Gate Park, I predicted in this space that Lincoln’s turn in the dock would come. That was rhetorical. But if any one trend characterizes our era, it is the convergence of satire and reality. So Lincoln’s time is upon us.

The Freedmen’s Memorial, financed by formerly enslaved people and dedicated by Frederick Douglass, shows Lincoln in too physically superior a position. Lincoln signed off on the hangings of 38 Dakota warriors convicted of atrocities, including two convicted of rape. One doubts that those warriors were tried fairly, but the cancelers are not much on due process anyway: Accusation suffices for conviction. Lincoln gave clemency to more than 250 other Dakota who had been sentenced to death, a nuance that inhibits fixation on the alleged sin.

And then there are the Lincoln–Douglas debates, in which Lincoln said he did not favor full social equality for African Americans. And his famous letter to Horace Greeley stating that his priority was winning the war, not freeing the slaves.

Accused, ergo convicted: Lincoln was a racist. There is no record, to my knowledge, of him ever having treated any African-American with whom he came into contact with anything less than total dignity. He first met Frederick Douglass when the former slave showed up unannounced at the White House to upbraid Lincoln for, among other things, the Union’s inaction on retaliatory Confederate executions of African-American soldiers. Douglass left with some but not all of what he sought and pronounced himself “not entirely satisfied with [Lincoln’s] views” but “well satisfied with the man.” Receiving Douglass at the White House after his second inauguration, Lincoln told him that “there is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours.”

But for the new moralists, there is no man to be taken all in all, much less one upon whose like we shall not look again. Nor is there context: If Lincoln had not equivocated on equality, he would have had no political future. If he had not won the presidency and preserved the union, slavery would have persisted, perhaps for decades longer, in an independent Confederacy. His first meeting with Douglass took place amid a constant battle to placate border states including Missouri and Kentucky as well as northern Copperheads who would, in a moment, have cut the Confederacy loose and doomed millions to indefinite servitude.

14. Carlo J.V. Caro contends that the U.S. needs a small force in Central Asia as a check on Russian expansion. From the piece:

From 1917 onward, Moscow’s aim has been to offer the nations of the world an alternative to Western-style liberal democracy. Political and economic power are the main currency on the international stage. Moscow has always had a weak economy, so it’s been forced to pursue that aim militarily. Under Vladimir Putin, aggressive expansionism has been central to Russian foreign policy.

Afghanistan is an instructive example. For Moscow, the Central Asian republics are of vital strategic importance. Initially, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was not received with much enthusiasm by Central Asian elites, who owed their political status to the Soviet system. Suddenly faced with the possibility of their own obsolescence, these elites adopted nationalist rhetoric to stay in power. Because the Central Asian republics remained under the control of Moscow’s former clients, their relationship with Russia continued after the fall of the U.S.S.R., but the Kremlin had still taken a big hit: It no longer had claim over the republics’ vast reserves of important natural resources. One big aim of Russian foreign policy ever since has been to conserve a monopoly on the export and transportation of hydrocarbons within the post-Soviet sphere.

The independence of the Central Asian republics had another consequence: It gave the United States an opening to assert its influence in Moscow’s backyard. The republics took advantage of the new political boundaries in the region, seeking to decrease their dependency on Moscow while remaining on good terms with both sides of the geopolitical conflict. Western oil companies wanted to take advantage of the regional market and Turkmenistan wanted a pipeline built through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Washington pressured Turkmenistan to give U.S. multinational Unocal the responsibility of building the pipeline. It then took the appropriate measures to begin negotiations with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The geopolitical stakes of the gambit were high: If it succeeded, Washington would shore up its relations with Pakistan, an old ally, and maybe even gain a new, unlikely friend in Afghanistan, which had never been part of its sphere of influence. The exploitation of gas fields in Turkmenistan by an American business giant also favored the establishment of a harmonious relationship between the United States and the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

15. Amidst the chaos, Dmitri Solzhenitsyn keeps an eye on global religious persecution, and finds that the oppressed are not an afterthought for the Trump administration. From the article:

The constitutions of moderate Muslim nations hopefully suggest that there is no inherent incompatibility between strong Islamic values and respect for religious minorities. Yet clearly the religious persecution of Jews and Christians in Muslim-majority nations is a persistent evil that must be addressed. The United States Commission on Religious Freedom finds that 18 of the top 28 religiously oppressive countries are Muslim-majority, another five are Communist (these are perhaps the most impenetrable bastions of persecution, afflicting Muslims as well as Christians and those of other religions), and only three are Christian-majority (of which Eritrea and the Central African Republic nevertheless have Christians as the most widely persecuted group). The eighteen Muslim-majority culprit nations, in some cases, use the death penalty on those who convert to Christianity or Judaism. They also create structural barriers to free worship, economic opportunity, and political standing for their religious minorities. Moreover, a recent U.K.-commissioned report finds that “millions of Christians in [the Middle East] have been uprooted from their homes, and many have been killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against” and that “the overwhelming majority (80 percent) of persecuted religious believers [in the Middle East] are Christians.”

The Trump administration understands that it would be misguided to assume that fundamentalist regimes will change their ways in the absence of external pressures, or to hope that this issue can be resolved in a vacuum. Trump has been unequivocal in his demand that “all nations . . . join [the United States] in this urgent moral duty [of curbing religious persecution].” This directive has been taken up quite seriously by the members of the Trump administration and has even extended to many international summits and global initiatives. Indeed, historian William Inboden remarks that President Trump “may be the most visible and active on [the issue of religious persecution] of any president since Ronald Reagan.” This is supported by recent events. Just last month, Trump issued an executive order directing top diplomatic officials to home in on religious freedom and earmarking $50 million in foreign assistance for organizations working on the cause.

16. Tom Hanks is a necessity. Kyle Smith said so. From the reflection and review:

Why do we still like this guy who tries so hard to be likeable? I think Hanks serves a role akin to America’s town clergyman: We want him to be good. We need him to be good. It’s been decades since actors really were role models, but Hanks actually wants to be one, and his striving is admirable.

I think he takes these parts out of a kind of patriotic duty, a need to give us someone in whom we can invest our ideals about how an American man should be: kind, wise, brave, resourceful but humble. He doesn’t quite have the holy glow of Henry Fonda or the folksy magnetism of Jimmy Stewart but he carries on with their mission to personify American goodness. If WWII had happened while he was young, I think he would have answered the call of duty, as Stewart and Fonda did.

Greyhound finds our Tom having yet another rough day at the office. Putting on a captain’s hat for the fifth time, he helms the titular destroyer in a protective convoy guarding merchant ships crossing the Atlantic in 1942. Hanks’s Captain Krause is in command for the very first time, and the German U-boat commanders, who call themselves the Wolfpack, are licking their chops.

Greyhound, which Hanks also wrote from C. S. Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd, is a $75 million picture that is being released on the Apple TV+ streaming service, because COVID zapped a planned theatrical release. It’s a serviceable but unspectacular 90-minute exercise in chasing, running, and gunning that, despite its fairly generous budget, mostly has the feel of a TV movie. The director Aaron Schneider, whose only previous credit is the 2009 indie Get Low, relies heavily on an overbearing but hollow musical score, loaded with timpani, that suggests a Steven Segal–saves-the-world picture.

17. Alexandra DeSanctis defends saints and statues. From the piece:

Consider the recent case of Father Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic saint and a Franciscan friar who, as a missionary, founded the first nine Spanish missions in 18th-century California, teaching local tribes about Christianity and helping them to farm using modernized forms of agriculture.

Last month, during a riot in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, several hundred people knocked over a statue of Serra, along with monuments to Ulysses S. Grant and Francis Scott Key, before moving on to deface a bust of author Miguel Cervantes. On the same day, rioters in Los Angeles destroyed another statue of the saint.

On the Fourth of July, rioters in Sacramento attacked a third statue of Serra, burning its face before ripping down the monument and striking it with a sledgehammer while chanting “Rise up, my people, rise up” and dancing atop it.

These acts of pointless vandalism were later justified as having been carried out in the name of justice for the genocide of indigenous peoples — a genocide in which, thus far, no one has been able to implicate Father Serra.

But that hasn’t stopped leaders from hastily acquiescing to public pressure, getting the job done in places where the long arm of the mob had not yet reached. In Ventura, Calif., the city council is mulling formally removing a statue of Serra near city hall that had been deemed “toxic” by progressive brigades. The other three devastated statues of the saint have yet to be restored to their rightful places, and it seems rather unlikely that we’ll see them standing again anytime soon.

18. Armond White takes the new Catherine Deneuve flick, La Verite, and applies it to the trans-hounded and -capitulated Halle Berry (“applies” as in with a two-by-four). From the review:

Catherine Deneuve’s varied film career from sweet ingénue (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort) to tormented bourgeoise (Repulsion, Belle de Jour, Tristana), femme fatale (Mississippi Mermaid) to refined lady (her American sojourn in The April Fools, Hustle, her Oscar nomination for Indochine), and then, in her richest stage, a figurehead of contemporary moral crisis (especially those extraordinary André Téchiné films Hotel d’Amérique, Scene of the Crime, My Favorite Season, and Les Voleurs) is all prelude to her commanding presence in the new French import The Truth (La Vérité). Deneuve plays legendary actress Fabienne Dangeville, who, as the privilege of beauty and age, lords her mystique over everyone. The payoff comes when she makes this casually devastating declaration:

When actresses start getting lost in charity and politics, they lose vis-à-vis the profession. They’ve lost the battle on screen, so they dive into reality. They pretend to fight against reality, it’s not the contrary. I’ve always won that battle. That’s why I can withstand solitude.

We’re unlikely to witness such brutal honesty about the clash of art and politics in any other movie this year. Bette Davis’s lovelorn French Provincial furniture speech in All About Eve (“without that, you’re not a ‘woman’”) wasn’t nearly so tough. Fabienne/Deneuve (who boasts “I’ve never apologized to a man”) swans her way through the pretenses and shallow principles displayed by today’s crusading actresses.

That “lost the battle” speech particularly applies to the circumstances of Halle Berry’s caving in to the social-justice mobs this week with her obsequious apology for being “a cisgender female.” She prostrated herself for merely considering the role of a trans woman for an unmade film project. Critic Gregory Solman quipped, “Berry apologized for being an actress but not for her acting.” Berry’s career shift from bimbo to serious thespian happened with her degrading characterization in Monsters Ball. I recall an early 2002 screening of that film and the stunned consensus among black media folk: “What was she thinking?” (After winning a congratulatory Oscar for debasing herself, everyone suddenly decided that the movie and performance were just dandy.)

19. Brian Allen shares his Independence Day thoughts on a tour of the paintings in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. From the reflection:

The Capitol Rotunda paintings in Washington are famous for their giant — 12 by 18 feet — scenes of the Surrender of General Burgoyne, the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, the Declaration of Independence, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission, all by John Trumbull (1756–1843), the dean of American history painting.

Less known but also in the Rotunda are John Chapman’s Baptism of Pocahontas (1839), Robert Weir’s Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1843), John Vanderlyn’s Landing of Columbus (1847), and William Powell’s Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto (1853).

At some point, probably around Columbus Day, I’ll write about Vanderlyn’s picture, since Christopher Columbus is about as big a scalp for left-wingers as Robert E. Lee. Columbus is, among the early explorers, in a class by himself. Suffice to say we commemorate him as a symbol of risk-taking, adventure, and discovery, against all odds and certainly against settled science and bloated, entitled elites. He’s anathema to those who want us all to shelter in place in perpetuity, masked, supine, and quiescent.

No one gives much thought to the other three paintings. They’re good and were prize commissions. Congress wanted the work of American, not European artists, as a point of national pride, decorating the Rotunda. Trumbull had finished his Revolutionary-era scenes by 1824, when the Rotunda was finished, but they filled only half the space. Old and half blind, he wasn’t up to finishing the job.

This Truth Is Self-Evident: The New Issue of National Review is a Spectacular Defense of America

It is now off the presses, printed and on its postal way to those who love ink and paper, and electronically accessible right this very moment on the National Review website, in toto to those who are NRPLUS members, not so for those who are not such. We speak now of the July 27, 2020, issue of National Review, designated by Editor Lowry as a special issue, which indeed it is — a 17-article collection that makes a broad and wise defense of this More Perfect Union. Here is the Lowry introduction:

The last couple of months have been profoundly dispiriting. We’ve gone from the George Floyd case and a discussion of some potentially worthwhile police reforms to, in many influential precincts of our culture and in the streets, a wholesale rejection of the police and a poisonous critique of America at its roots. We’ve gone from a debate about the status of Confederate statues to the toppling, defacing, and removal of statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. We’ve gone from the 1619 Project’s appearing in an issue of The New York Times Magazine to its becoming the dominant narrative of America in many quarters. In recent weeks, demands that would have been considered preposterous a short time ago – the band the Dixie Chicks must change its name, the Florida Gators must abandon their chant – instantly became reality. It is in this context that we’ve devoted our current issue to a defense of America. The pieces range from history to data about racism to culture, and all are devoted to the idea that, despite out current tribulations, we still live in the last best hope of earth.

As is the custom here, we suggest four articles, which is a shame, as all 17 are brilliant.

1. Richard Brookhiser extols the brilliance of what Jefferson & Co. drafted to found and then improve upon this Great Experiment. From the piece:

This half paragraph affirms American liberties in the most sweeping manner. Self-rule gets mentioned (“Governments . . . deriv[e]their just powers from the consent of the governed”), as do “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Perhaps its most startling word is “among” (“among these [rights] are . . .”). The Declaration is not a bill of rights, because it won’t presume to make an exhaustive list.

The source of American liberty is the “Creator” (“endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”). Jefferson’s language can be as elusive as it is ringing. Though he esteemed Jesus as a moralist, he was personally no more religious than Ricky Gervais. But while he and Congress were perhaps fudging a theological point, settling on a formula that would embrace both him and a Calvinist nurtured in the Great Awakening such as Sam Adams, they were making a vital political point: The rights Americans enjoy come from outside history, and outside mankind. Thomas Jefferson did not confer them; neither did Congress. As no one made them, so no one can efface them. Rulers can trample them, of course (as Congress believed George III was then doing). But they are as much a part of us as arteries or imagination.

The great half paragraph begins with a clause, the first of its self-evident truths, that is as practical as it is philosophical: “all men are created equal.” This is the Declaration’s balance wheel, the limit that it places on everyone’s liberty. No man’s power may justly annihilate another’s, because no man belongs to a different, superior order of being than any other. The one-man–one-vote practice of the Jamestown General Assembly is rewritten in gold.

The new Constitution, written eleven years later to replace the Articles of Confederation, confirmed the point. Like the Declaration, it had a skillful draftsman—Gouverneur Morris, the peg-legged ladies’ man from the Bronx. (No prole he—Morris was a wealthy elitist, and proud of it.) But the Constitution was a collective document, argued into shape by 55 men over four months and then debated nationwide for a year. Four provisions and one silence established equality in America’s fundamental law.

2. Myron Magnet takes the passed baton and offers a sterling defense of Jefferson. From the reflection:

Jefferson trusted to the advance of Enlightenment to end an institution that had existed in America for more than a century before the Revolution and that the Founding Fathers couldn’t abolish at a stroke if they wanted their new nation to comprise all 13 colonies. But they blocked its spread with the Northwest Ordinance; they set a date to end the slave trade; and they foresaw that tobacco’s exhaustion of the soil would make slave plantations uneconomical and slavery unviable. But then came the cotton gin and the 1820 Missouri Compromise, extending slavery westward and giving it renewed life. “Like a fire bell in the night,” Jefferson wrote, the compromise “filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union.” It would have to be exterminating thunder, after all. In the midst of the Civil War’s bloodshed, it was to Jefferson’s immortal words that Lincoln turned to proclaim America’s new birth of freedom.

Finally: “Rapist.” The sans-culotte with the spray paint doubtless meant Jefferson’s slave Sally Hemings, the half-sister of his beloved wife, who left him a widower when he was 39. Begotten by Jefferson’s father-in-law upon a slave woman whose own father was an English sea captain, Sally was threequarters white and, according to one contemporary, “decidedly good-looking.” A teenager in Jefferson’s household when he was the American minister in Paris, she was pregnant when he was to return to the United States and, because she was free under revolutionary France’s law, would agree to come back with him only on his promise to free her baby and any others she might have when they turned 21, a promise he kept, as her son, Madison, recounted the whole story in 1873. Of other women in the normally hot-blooded Jefferson’s life after this we hear nothing. What DNA evidence exists is inconclusive. Historians have spun fantasies—that she looked like her half-sister, that he felt, . . . that she felt . . . But more we do not know.

Freedom of thought and speech; all men equal in rights, including the right to the pursuit of their own happiness in their own way; a meritocratic society: We need Jefferson’s seminal ideas, the ideas that formed the core of our American identity, now more than ever.

3. Dan McLaughlin reminds us of the history-confounding precedent America set. From the article:

America at its founding was republican, in the sense of having no king; democratic, in the sense of grounding all political power ultimately in the consent of the people; liberal, in the sense of protecting the individual, natural-law rights of the people; and constitutional, in the sense that political powers and rights were set down in a written instrument binding on the state. None of these were entirely new ideas in 1776 or 1787, but all of them had failed more often than not in the past. Trying them meant explaining why they would work this time, a question very much in doubt— then, and for a century thereafter. What was true in George Washington’s time was still largely true in Abraham Lincoln’s: Nobody had ever tried republicanism, democracy, liberalism, and constitutionalism at the same time.

Not only was this experiment novel; it was tried on an unprecedented scale. France was then the dominant power on the European continent; the original 13 states, spanning the Eastern Seaboard, covered an area a third larger than France. The Northwest Territory, ceded by Britain in 1783, expanded the new nation by a third; the 1803 Louisiana Purchase then doubled it. After Florida was acquired from Spain in 1819, the Mexican War and the settlement of the Oregon Territory between 1846 and 1848 expanded the country by a third yet again. Seventy-two years after independence, the United States was still the world’s only republican, democratic, liberal, and constitutional state, and it spanned the width of a continent. There was nothing like it on earth.

The young United States was, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed, unlike the Old World in that the building of its civilization could still be observed, rather than recalled from ancient texts and stones. Much of the nation’s westward expansion took place over land that had never been settled in the European sense, either because the Native American population was sparse in places or because the tribes eschewed European-style permanent agricultural settlements and cities. When the Spanish arrived in the San Francisco Bay area in 1769, for example, it was home to 17,000 people grouped in communities of 50 to 400, where over 7 million people live today. By the time of the American conquest 80 years later, the population of California had dropped in half again. And the non-Native populations of the territories acquired from France and Mexico were far smaller than the Native populations.

The Founding generation was painfully aware of the historical weight against it. The brief effort to remake England into a republic in the mid-17th century had been a bloody, illiberal fiasco. France’s revolution would soon provide its own grisly example. The Federalist Papers are shot through with explanations of how the new Constitution was designed to avoid the pitfalls that had felled past republics and democracies. Madison devoted three consecutive essays to discussing ancient Greek confederacies, the election of Holy Roman emperors, the Polish republic (which was then in the process of being dismantled by its neighbors), the Swiss cantons, and the Dutch republics. The corruption of the Roman republic into an empire weighed heavily on the Founders. Washington and other key Founders were devoted to Joseph Addison’s tragedy Cato, about the republican hero Cato the Younger’s failed opposition to Julius Caesar’s dictatorship.

4. Armond White finds the US of A to be the only place a Motown could have existed. From the beginning of the piece:

America’s best defense is its best export, whether material or ideological, and even a pop-culture critic specializing in film might have to admit that the foremost representative of America’s exports is its popular music—particularly the variety that issued from Detroit, beginning in 1959 and into the 1980s, by way of the Motown Record Corporation.

Beloved by and ingrained in listeners throughout the world, Motown music (the term derived from Detroit’s renown as the Motor City, the automobile-production capital of the world) still transmits American thought, language, and identity. Motown, with its distinctive rhythms and variety of local voices, uniquely personifies America by virtue of its powerfully ingratiating aesthetic substance as well as its history. The record company’s founder, Berry Gordy Jr., a descendant of slaves, came to Detroit when his parents relocated from Georgia as part of the Great Migration of job- and freedom-seeking blacks. Motown continued the course of black achievements, from Emancipation to the blues to urban sophistication, that always pointed upward.

Gordy’s advance from boxer, Korean War veteran, factory worker, and songwriter to eventual business tycoon exemplified personal initiative and entrepreneurship. And artistry. One of Gordy’s first songwriting credits was for Detroit R&B crooner Jackie Wilson, the ballad “To Be Loved,” which was much more thana romantic entreaty. (Gordy also used that title for his 1994 autobiography.) It combined a gospel appeal with a declaration of intent that defined the moral ambition of a people who struggled and overcame the hardships of Jim Crow segregation: “Someone to care, / Someone to share / Lonely hours / And moments of despair.”

That passion, welling up in Wilson’s vibrato, conveys a spiritual belief as well as a social faith, expressing the full humanity that mid-20th-century black Americans usually articulated through defiance—and the new energy of rock and roll. Gordy chose the openly dreamy elegance of pop-music vernacular, and that was his route to all-American—universal—triumph.

Podcastapalooza

1. On The McCarthy Report, Rich and Andy discuss this week’s Supreme Court decisions. Listen here.

2. On The Editors (Episode 235), Rich, Charlie, and Big Jim G discuss Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech and the ensuing media outrage. Listen here.

3. And then on The Editors (Episode 236), Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the outrage surrounding the Harper’s letter and what America is doing about reopening schools this fall. Listen here.

4. On Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss the Court’s 7–2 ruling in favor of the long-suffering Little Sisters of the Poor and talk about proper punctuation. Listen here.

5. On Radio Free California, Will and David talk about CA Democrats demanding a name change for Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, SCOTUS defending LA’s Catholic schools, Governor Gavin Newsom rewarding failing schools, and so much more. Listen here.

6. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses how Joe Biden has fared now that he’s emerged from his basement, President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech and his executive orders on monuments, universities hell-bent for obsolescence, and the Cultural Revolution’s Year Zero. Listen here.

7. On The Great Books, John J. Miller is joined by Jack Lynch of Rutgers University to discuss James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson. Listen here.

8. Then on The Bookmonger, JJM is joined by Robert R. Reilly to discuss Reilly’s book, America on Trial. Listen here.

The Six

Let’s take the unusual step of introducing this section, done to draw attention to this fact: That the always informative and educative website, The Imaginative Conservative, marks its tenth anniversary. Its founder, the happy warrior and Hillsdale professor Bradley “Double B” Birzer, offered swell birthday wishes. Read them here. And do avail yourself, without our occasional prodding, to visit TIC. Here is the home page.

1. At University Bookman, Francis Sempa shares thoughts on the great James Burnham’s views on mid-century Pacific politics. From the analysis:

Burnham understood that communism was a global phenomenon, and he wrote frequently about the Far East—what we now call the Asia-Pacific. Those writings have historical value—they were an important part of the discussions and debates, especially on the conservative side of the political spectrum, during the Cold War. But Burnham’s writings transcend the Cold War era because some of the factors he analyzed—communism, geopolitics, and the way leaders use political power—are still very much relevant to current international politics, including the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific.

Burnham first discussed Asian geopolitics in 1941 in The Managerial Revolution, where he envisioned a post–World War II world dominated by three “power centers” or “super-states,” including “the Asiatic Center.” He described the Asiatic Center as East and southwest Asia and the islands along the Pacific rim of East Asia. Those regions contained sufficient population and advanced industry to support power of global reach. The postwar world, he predicted, will see a “struggle among these strategic centers for world control.”

He described communism as a “managerial ideology” designed to enable a tiny vanguard or elite to rule over the masses and control them. Communism (and fascism) created a ruling class that monopolized privilege and power—a nomenklatura. This description perfectly describes the current leadership of China’s Communist Party.

Two years later, Burnham wrote what many of his admirers believe was his most important book, The Machiavellians, wherein he formulated a “science of power” to analyze political leaders and the exercise of political power. All Burnham’s subsequent writings manifested the “science of power” that he first explained in The Machiavellians.

In his first postwar book, The Struggle for the World (part of which was a declassified version of his 1944 OSS paper), Burnham wrote that the Cold War (which he called the “Third World War”) began in the waning months of the Second World War. In the Far East, China’s communist leaders supported by the Soviet Union renewed their struggle with the U.S.-supported Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek. “The armed skirmishes of a new war,” explained Burnham, “have started before the old war is finished.”

2. At Quillette, Michael Shellenberger apologizes for climate-scientists’ scare-mongering. From the beginning of the essay:

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as expert reviewer of its next assessment report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25 percent around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat—humankind’s biggest use of land—has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s
  • The Netherlands became rich, not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25 percent more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture.

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

3. If the Left had the cojones to attack slavery, they’d be sharing Giulio Meotti’s Gatestone Institute piece. From the article:

The United States abolished slavery 150 years ago, and has affirmative action for minorities. It is the country that elected a Black president, Barack Obama — twice! Yet, a new movement is toppling one historic monument after another one, as if the US is still enslaving African-Americans. Activists in Washington DC even targeted an Emancipation Memorial, depicting President Abraham Lincoln, who paid with his life for freeing slaves.

Today slavery still exists in many parts of Africa and Middle East, but the self-flagellating Western public is obsessively focused only on the Western past of African slavery rather than on real, ongoing slavery, which is alive and well — and ignored. For today’s slaves, there are no demonstrations in the streets, no international political pressure, and virtually no articles in the media.

“We must not forget that Arab-Muslims have been champions in this field,” Kamel Bencheikh, a Muslim poet, wrote in Le Matin d’Algerie.

“Emirs and sultans bought entire convoys of young black ephebes to make into eunuchs to guard their harems. And this continued with Ottoman emperors…. Even today, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia are still housing their own Ku Klux Klan. Slavery is still the order of the day in Nouakchott [Mauritania]. As for Riad, all you have to do is find out about young Asian girls that the potentates hire as maidservants”.

An investigation by BBC Arabic found that domestic workers in Saudi Arabia are even being sold online in a slave market that is booming.

4. At The American Conservative, Helen Andrews sees statue-toppling and debasement as a sign that society has lost an understanding of the sense of duty. From the beginning of the essay:

There once was a general who fought a war to protect slavery. That’s not how he would have described it. He would have said he was fighting to protect his way of life from a foreign invader. Whatever construction he put on it, his so-called way of life rested on the sweat wrung from forced labor on plantations and gold earned from buying and selling black flesh.

That general was Samori Touré. The West African chieftain is honored today by black nationalists for resisting French imperialism in the Mandingo Wars of the late nineteenth century, but thousands of Africans were enslaved by Samori’s raiders in the course of building up his empire. After his final defeat in 1898, for more than a decade, columns of refugees tramped into French Guinea to return to their home villages as they escaped or were liberated from Banamba or Bamako or wherever Samori’s men had sold them.

Ta-Nehisi Coates named his son Samori, after the great resister. That means that Between the World and Me, the best-selling anti-racist tract of the current century, which takes the form of letters from Coates to his son, is addressed to someone named after a prolific enslaver of black Africans.

History is complicated, isn’t it?

America is currently in the middle of one of its periodic orgies of tearing down memorials to the past. The iconoclasts always have an advantage in these fights, because their opponents have different breaking points. Some Americans were happy to conciliate the protestors until a mob in Portland defaced a statue of George Washington. Others reserved their indignation for when a mob in Golden Gate Park toppled Junípero Serra, Francis Scott Key, and (of all people) Ulysses S. Grant in one night. In New York, the city council is proposing to trash the city’s statue of Thomas Jefferson, which will at least be accomplished by an orderly vote rather than a howling crowd. Some people have persuaded themselves that that makes it all right.

5. More from The American Conservative: Peter Van Buren cautions — remember the Red Guard. From the piece:

The Cultural Revolution destroyed China’s economy and traditional culture, leaving behind a possible death toll ranging from one to 20 million. Nobody really knows. It was a war on the way people think. And it failed. One immediate consequence of the Revolution’s failure was the rise in power of the military after regular people decided they’d had enough and wanted order restored. China then became even more of a capitalist society than it had ever imagined in pre-Revolution days. Oh well.

I spoke with an elderly Chinese academic who had been forced from her classroom and made to sleep outside with the animals during the Revolution. She recalled forced self-criticism sessions that required her to guess at her crimes, as she’d done nothing more than teach literature, a kind of systematic revisionism in that it espoused beliefs her tormentors thought contributed to the rotten society. She also had to write out long apologies for being who she was. She was personally held responsible for 4,000 years of oppression of the masses. Our meeting was last year, before white guilt became a whole category on Netflix, but I wonder if she’d see now how similar it all is.

That’s probably a longer version of events than a column like this would usually feature. A tragedy on the scale of the Holocaust in terms of human lives, an attempt to destroy culture on a level that would embarrass the Taliban—this topic is not widely taught in American colleges, never mind in China.

It should be taught, because history rhymes. Chinese students are again outing teachers, sometimes via cellphone videos, for “improper speech,” teaching hurtful things from the past using the wrong vocabulary. Other Chinese intellectuals are harassed online for holding outlier positions, or lose their jobs for teaching novels with the wrong values. Once abhorred as anti-free speech, most UC Berkeley students would likely now agree that such steps are proper. In Minnesota, To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn are banned because fictional characters use a racial slur.

6. At National Affairs, Ilya Shapiro contends that the War on Drugs has proven to be a War on the Constitution. From the beginning of the essay:

Can something be legal and illegal at the same time? That may sound impossible, but it has increasingly become reality for cannabis in the United States. As more and more states legalize marijuana while Congress stands pat and the executive branch works out enforcement complexities, people across the country are asking themselves: What is this magical Schrödinger’s weed?

The answer lies not in the nature of marijuana itself, but in America’s system of dual sovereignty, which divides powers between the federal and state governments. When two overlapping sovereigns have policymaking authority, their laws and enforcement policies are bound to clash at times. Indeed, marijuana regulation is not the only policy area where state and federal laws have come into conflict, either historically or in recent years. States today are increasingly reasserting sovereignty in areas as diverse as health care, gun control, and immigration. Given the near inevitability of separate sovereigns’ adopting contradictory laws, the real question is not whether conflicts will occur, but which law takes precedent when they do.

The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law trumps any state law to the contrary, appears to resolve the matter in favor of the federal government. Yet the answer is not so simple. The Supreme Court recognizes two limits on federal supremacy. First, the federal policy in question must have a valid constitutional basis, because the national government’s powers are enumerated and thus limited. And second, even in areas where Congress can properly enact law, the Tenth Amendment prevents the federal government from using the states as instruments of governance.

The Supreme Court reiterated this latter limit — known as the “anti-commandeering” principle — as recently as the 2018 case of Murphy v. NCAA, a challenge to New Jersey’s legalization of sports betting in the face of federal law that purported to stop states from taking such legislative action. Put simply, the doctrine asserts that Congress cannot compel the states to carry out federal law. In the marijuana context, a federal ban can only be implemented, practically speaking, through the greater law-enforcement resources of the states, as the federal government is responsible for just 1% of the 800,000 annual marijuana arrests. Meanwhile, an appropriations rider prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute those who use medical marijuana in the 33 states (and the District of Columbia) where this activity is lawful. In any case, even in the shadow of the federal ban, state-level marijuana legalization has flourished, indicating that federal supremacy has its limits.

BONUS: At Religion Unplugged, Clement Lisi scopes out the possibility that the Catholic vote in four states might swing the elections this November. From the piece:

Ohio remains key. Over the last 20 years, the state has made a difference in who is elected president — with counties where predominantly Catholic voters live making the difference. In 2000, George W. Bush captured Ohio by just 166,000 votes. Four years later, Bush beat John Kerry, a non-practicing Catholic, by just 118,000 votes to clinch a second term.

In both 2008 and 2012, Obama lost the national Catholic vote, but fared well in the top 15 mostly-Catholic counties in Ohio, capturing six of them. Obama won despite lower turnout in both those elections, meaning that many Catholics decided to stay away from the polls.

Will they do the same come November? If so, Biden could very well win a plurality in those counties, riding that to the presidency. At the start of the year, Trump’s strategy was to court these voters. His campaign launched “Catholics for Trump” and Trump addressed participants at the annual March for Life, the largest gathering of anti-abortion advocates. Trump also recently visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. to promote religious freedom and did a TV interview with EWTN.

The Trump campaign — in its zeal to defend “American values” and capitalize on the desecration of monuments across the country — also hopes to highlight traditional values to motivate devout Catholics to pull the lever for him again. Trump did just that on July 3 during a speech at Mount Rushmore to coincide with Independence Day.

While Biden has surged in several national polls in recent weeks, a February poll by EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research showed Trump leading among Catholics who describe themselves as more active in their faith. That was before the events of the last few months and these Supreme Court decisions that left conservatives let down.

A Dios

The author of this Saturday Missive first walked through the doors of NR’s venerable / storied / ancient headquarters at 150 East 35th Street in 1983. He has seen many a soul come and go. It’s not fun when they go; not for most anyway (truth be told, some departed in response to a clean-out-your-desk order from This Once-Empowered Has Been). Especially not in the case of Editor Phil DeVoe, who has fed and burped this weekly communication for a quite long time. The Inevitable Day comes next week — he leaves to get married and then to attend Georgetown Law School. From there, surely, SCOTUS. Oremus.

In the nearly four decades of National Reviewing, it would be difficult to find someone for whom Your Correspondent has fonder feelings, or will miss more deeply. Phil is as decent and honest as the day is long. His parents are surely proud to claim him as their son, and the fact is, anyone would be if they had the likes of this Phil in their brood.

No one ever truly leaves NR, where conservative Cosa Nostra rules apply. Those are the mildly comical thoughts we entertain as we attempt to minimize the tears at parting. So as Phil moves on, we pray that God goes with him (and to-be Mrs. Phil), and that our colleague takes with him our deep thanks.

With Prayerful Petitions of Redemptive Grace for Those Who Denigrate Our Country,

Jack Fowler, who will abide your insults, even if hurled en français, if emailed to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Supremely Disappointed

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Point of Personal Privilege: It’s the Correspondent’s Mother’s star-spangled birthday — which by coincidence happens this same day every year — so to her, a happy birthday. The same to all others who share such with this Glorious Republic, marking its 244th year of holding and protecting and championing self-evident truths.

Will there be a 245th?

Self-evident things — like rotten legal precedent — are seemingly not so self-evident to the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Unless . . . they are. Maybe the real point of wearing the black robe — the need to declare the truth true — has proven of less importance to Mr. Roberts in his Big Kahuna capacity.

The 1955 movie was funny. The 2020 SCOTUS chief executive officer ain’t. Allowing for cinematic metaphoring, he has turned the High Court into the judicial version of the movie’s aptly named USS Reluctant. The DACA and abortion cases, the stare decisis excuse-mongering — on all this, Roberts comes into just lambasting from wise NR colleagues who find the chief justice now makes no bones about prioritizing politics over interpreting the Constitution. And then there is this takeaway by the Left, courtesy of Ed Whelan in his Bench Memos analysis: “One lesson that folks on the Left are drawing from this and other recent votes by Roberts is that bullying him pays big dividends.”

Were that happier, Old Glorying things could be noted this July 4th. Well, they will be next week, whence appears a special issue of NR that you will surely mistake for a songbook of praise to what Honest Abe rightly called the Earth’s last best hope. Meanwhile, America’s leftist chattering classes and privileged Ivy-grad street punks are sure to mark this special day by contriving new ways to spread chaos and instigate crime sprees — the ones whose hail of bullets are murdering many Black Lives that never seemed to have enough status to Matter after all.

After all: This madness is not about Justice, is it? It is about destabilizing the Republic and preparing for a leftist regime that will snuff out this historic experiment. There is a word for that: Revolution. And there is a choice for all to make between an America that is the 2020 Project or the 1776 Project. Take it away, Mr. Payne:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Choose wisely.

(N.B.: This missive was filed on Thursday to allow Editor Phil, who never gets a three-day-weekend break, to get a break, sorely needed and richly deserved. That’s the story we’re going with, anyway.)

Editorials

1. Our disappointment in John Roberts over his repeated forays into jurisprudential monkey business cannot be deep enough. From the editorial:

The Constitution does not prohibit Louisiana from requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges in hospitals near where they operate. We know this fact from reading it; from the debates over the ratification of its provisions, none of which suggest that anyone believed that it could be used in such a fashion; and from the fact that for many decades states prohibited abortion altogether without anyone’s even alleging that they were violating the Constitution. Now five justices of the Supreme Court have conceded this obvious point.

The Court will not allow Louisiana this regulation anyway. Chief Justice John Roberts is one of the five justices who do not believe the law conflicts with the Constitution, rightly interpreted. He voted in 2016 that an identical Texas law should be upheld, and his opinion in the Louisiana case says that he still agrees with his reasoning then. Nevertheless, he claims to believe that the Louisiana law is too similar to the law that his colleagues in 2016 struck down over his dissent. The force of precedent, he maintains, requires the law to be nullified. Otherwise, Americans would lack confidence in the rule of law. It is, on the other hand, wonderfully inspiring to that confidence for a justice to strike down a law that he concedes the state had the constitutional authority to enact.

It is impossible to credit Roberts’s claim that respect for precedent dictated his decision. He has been perfectly willing to overrule precedents in the past. Some of them were of much longer standing. Janus v. AFSCME (2018), on public-sector unions, overruled Abood v. Detroit (1977). Some of them involved cases that presented nearly identical fact patterns. Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) upheld a ban on partial-birth abortion of a type that had been struck down in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000).

2. And so the ChiCom crackdown of Hong Kong begins. Somewhere through the flames Mao is smiling. From the editorial:

The new national-security act is a grave violation of the terms of the 1997 Sino–British Joint Declaration, which guarantees Hong Kong’s judicial and political semi-independence from Beijing until 2047, and made the one nation–two systems settlement part of Hong Kong Basic Law.

The new national-security act sets itself against “terrorism” by which the Chinese Communist Party means Hong Kong’s democracy movement. This protest movement in Hong Kong has re-emerged to confront every challenge to Hong Kong’s Basic Law since 2003. It has proved an astonishingly disciplined and calm movement that has been able to draw nearly one third of Hong Kong’s residents into the streets for its largest demonstrations. Despite violent provocations from anti-riot police that have been subordinated by the Chinese Communist Party and Beijing-backed criminal gangs, the movement has been conspicuously peaceful; leaders of the movement issued apologies when tensions ran hot enough that a few protesters engaged in direct hand-to-hand fighting with police.

That peacefulness was deliberate and reveals Beijing’s “anti-terror” justification for the brazen lie that it is. The law is deliberately and maddeningly vague on what constitutes a terrorist organization, though it specifies the destruction of a vehicle as one terrorist act. It would punish “terrorists” of this sort with a minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum of life imprisonment. The law prohibits “collusion” with foreign governments or institutions, a measure which will be used to put international freedom organizations in the bind of not knowing whether their actions help or harm their peers in Hong Kong. The law applies to everyone — not just Hong Kongers. In the first hours after its passage, a man was arrested under the law for waving an independence flag.

3. Bigots weep as the Blaine Amendment is put to rest — a century and a half late. From the editorial:

Kendra Espinoza, a Montana single mother working three jobs, had a scholarship to send her daughters to a private school of her choice; she chose Stillwater Christian School. The scholarship was partly funded by tax credits from the state that were available for parents to choose any private school, religious or not. Then, the Montana supreme court stepped in, ruling that because the program included religious schools, the whole thing had to be shut down for everyone.

The reason was Montana’s Blaine amendment. A relic of open anti-Catholic prejudice in the late 1800s, more than three dozen states have such amendments to their constitutions banning any state funds from going to any sectarian school or institution. “Sectarian” was code for “Catholic.” In practice, these amendments often mean that state school-choice vouchers and other state programs discriminatorily exclude religious schools and institutions. The Court today called that what it is: religious discrimination. The Court did not need to get into the toxic history of these amendments — which Justice Alito recounted in graphic detail — to conclude that they discriminate on their face against believers.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion carefully focused on discrimination against “religious status and not religious use,” but Justice Neil Gorsuch reminded him that the First Amendment’s protections are broader than that: The Free Exercise Clause “protects not just the right to be a religious person, holding beliefs inwardly and secretly; it also protects the right to act on those beliefs outwardly and publicly. . . . Our cases have long recognized the importance of protecting religious actions, not just religious status. . . . What point is it to tell a person that he is free to be a Muslim but he may be subject to discrimination for doing what his religion commands” even if “deep faith . . . requires [him] to do things passing legislative majorities might find unseemly or uncouth”? For Gorsuch, who only recently expanded federal anti-discrimination protections for gay or transgender Americans, this is a shot across the bow of those who themselves would use those protections as weapons of discrimination against believers.

4. The COVID “reopenings” have not been a failure, despite the rantings of a biased MSM. From the editorial:

The reality is that Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, and Doug Ducey are reasonable, public-spirited men who never said they would insist on full reopening regardless of the consequences. Abbott has closed bars back down and further restricted the capacity of restaurants. He’s also stopped elective surgeries again in hard-hit areas and will allow counties to mandate wearing masks in public. DeSantis, too, has shuttered bars, while Florida localities are tightening up again on some restrictions. Ducey is hitting the brakes on the state’s reopening process.

All of this seems prudent. They are following the evidence and adjusting to new data. We like the local watering hole as much as the next guy, but if bars are contributing to the surge of cases, it only makes sense to close them again. Bars and restaurants also should not be allowed to flout state and local guidelines. And masks, which more Florida localities are mandating, are a mild mitigation measure compared with shutting business and telling people to stay at home.

The good news is that in none of these places have we yet seen a spike in deaths commensurate with the spike in cases. This may simply reflect the fact that deaths are a lagging indicator. But the evidence suggests that we are seeing a younger cohort of people getting the virus. In Florida, the median age of the positive cases has drastically declined, from 65 years old in March to 35 years old now. It looks as though older, more vulnerable people have continued to be cautious about the virus, while younger, less vulnerable people are being less careful. Although not ideal, this is better than the alternative. The virus is unpredictable, but younger people are less likely to get seriously ill and die.

5. You won’t find the address for Equality Under the Law located in California. From the editorial:

California had a long struggle with race-based admissions practices in its public universities, most famously with the Bakke case, in which the Supreme Court upheld race-based policies. The 1996 amendment was an attempt to sort that out in the most straightforward fashion, by insisting that the state take no notice of race at all in its policies. That was, for some generations, the great aspiration of most good-hearted Americans, who took it to be the dream of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech.

But the Democratic Party, whether in California or in Mississippi, is not interested in high-minded liberal principle. It is interested in spoils and patronage. And in an education-driven society such as ours, there are few more attractive forms of patronage than controlling admissions to universities, handing them out on a constituency-by-constituency basis the way old-fashioned ward-heelers still hand out turkeys at Thanksgiving.

Predictably, the 1996 amendment’s largely conservative supporters were smeared as covert racists looking to keep California’s universities white. That is one of the unlovely quirks of racial politics: The people who want to encode racial preferences into law and practice are the ones who insist they are anti-racists, and the people who want to encode racial neutrality into law and practice are taken as the latest incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan.

A Yankee Doodle Dandy Compilation of 15 Star-Spangled Examples of Conservative Rockets Whose Red Glare Will Light the Night Sky of Your Intellect

1. It’s hasta la vista, suburbs, if Joe Biden becomes POTUS. Stanley Kurtz has the troubling analysis. From the piece:

Well, there’s another “abolish” the president can add to his list, and it just might be enough to tip the scales this November. Joe Biden and the Democrats want to abolish America’s suburbs. Biden and his party have embraced yet another dream of the radical Left: a federal takeover, transformation, and de facto urbanization of America’s suburbs. What’s more, Biden just might be able to pull off this “fundamental transformation.”

The suburbs are the swing constituency in our national elections. If suburban voters knew what the Democrats had in store for them, they’d run screaming in the other direction. Unfortunately, Republicans have been too clueless or timid to make an issue of the Democrats’ anti-suburban plans. It’s time to tell voters the truth.

I’ve been studying Joe Biden’s housing plans, and what I’ve seen is both surprising and frightening. I expected that a President Biden would enforce the Obama administration’s radical AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) regulation to the hilt. That is exactly what Biden promises to do. By itself, that would be more than enough to end America’s suburbs as we’ve known them, as I’ve explained repeatedly here at NRO.

What surprises me is that Biden has actually promised to go much further than AFFH. Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves. It will mean the end of local control, the end of a style of living that many people prefer to the city, and therefore the end of meaningful choice in how Americans can live. Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election?

2. Abortion-on-Demand’s new BFF: Andy McCarthy explains how John Roberts went out of his way to uphold the abortion-right legal monstrosity. From the analysis:

Roberts also elides mention of the inconvenience that none of those who first answered “the questions of yesterday” would have thought it possible that the Constitution guaranteed a right to terminate the unborn. And while, last year, he was telling us the takings precedent had to go, even though people had been inured to it for 34 years, today he said the four-year-old abortion precedent had to be preserved — even though there hasn’t been time for societal arrangements to become ingrained, and the question arose precisely because the Court’s abortion jurisprudence is so slipshod.

Note that Roberts had an out here. He could easily have decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing. As Justice Clarence Thomas explains in a withering dissent, the parties objecting to Louisiana’s law were not women whose purported right to abortion was being burdened; they were abortion providers who sought to raise the claim on the women’s behalf. A court does not have jurisdiction unless the parties before it have standing — i.e., unless they are asserting a denial of their own rights. Roberts, moreover, is typically a stickler on this point — the New York Times has described him as “the Supreme Court’s leading proponent of the standing doctrine.”

So he didn’t just protect abortion. He went out of his way to protect it.

3. More Roberts: Dan McLaughlin explains how the chief justice’s remarkable lack of courage is harming SCOTUS. From the analysis:

In the second case, Selia Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the chief justice wrote the Court’s opinion declaring that Congress in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act had violated the separation of powers by placing the CFPB’s head beyond the reach of presidents to remove at will. This is an important milestone in a longstanding fight by legal conservatives, most prominently Justice Scalia, to restore presidential control and accountability over the executive branch and constrain the growth of a “deep state” that answers to no voter. It is also an epic embarrassment for Elizabeth Warren, who designed the CFPB, and President Obama, who signed Dodd-Frank and has yet again been found by the Court to have done violence to the structure of our Constitution.

As Justice Scalia was fond of observing, separation of powers is, itself, the first of all constitutional rules: So long as we have a government of limited and divided powers, it is possible to enforce particular guarantees of individual rights, which appear in the constitutions of many nations that fail to enforce them.

But Roberts pulled up short of actually concluding that an agency created in violation of the Constitution lacked the power to compel the citizenry. That is what Justices Thomas and Gorsuch would have done here. Normally, if Congress passes an unconstitutional statute, it should be struck down as a whole unless Congress has written instructions on how to sever parts that are unlawful. Here, Congress did just that — for other specific parts of the 1,100-page Dodd-Frank Act, but not one particular to the CFPB. Relying on Dodd-Frank’s general severability clause, Roberts (joined this time by Alito and Kavanaugh) took the narrowest possible “scalpel rather than a bulldozer” to make the CFPB director removable, disregarding the question of whether Congress would really have granted such broad powers to the agency if it had been placed under direct political control.

4. And More Roberts: Ed Whelan in Bench Memos says the capricious chief justice’s thickly sliced stare decisis baloney stinks. From Part 1 of the commentary:

Roberts’s assertion that stare decisis requires his vote against the Louisiana law is difficult to take seriously.

As Justice Alito spells out in his dissent, the majority’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health was intensely fact-dependent. Indeed, it was on the basis of “changed circumstances” that the majority held that the post-enforcement challenge that it addressed did not involve the same claim as the pre-enforcement facial challenge that plaintiffs had first pursued and lost (and was therefore not barred under principles of res judicata). In June Medical, the plaintiffs were making a pre-enforcement challenge to Louisiana’s law. The district court’s factual findings were therefore little more than predictions about what the effects of the law would be, and, as Alito emphasizes, one of its key findings “was based on a fundamentally flawed test” regarding the “good faith” of abortion-clinic doctors in seeking admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. (See Alito dissent at 12-14; see also pp. 15-24 (evidence in record doesn’t show that doctors made serious efforts to obtain privileges.)

Further, even as Justice Breyer in his plurality opinion repeats the balancing test that he set forth in his majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health, Roberts devotes pages to arguing that Breyer doesn’t really mean what he says in either case and that Breyer’s opinions therefore aren’t really a departure from the undue-burden standard set forth in Casey. (Roberts opinion at 5-11.) Roberts won’t take Breyer at his word because the precedential force of Whole Woman’s Health would be much weaker if Whole Woman’s Health itself departed from Casey.

More broadly, Roberts had never before applied such a wooden view of stare decisis. Indeed, as Ilya Shapiro discusses here, Roberts’s previous decisions to overturn precedents that were “much older and more entrenched” make his “capricious application of stare decisis [in June Medical] startling.”

RELATED: Find Part 2 of Ed’s analysis here.

5. And Even More Roberts: John McCormack thinks butcher-abortionist Kermit Gosnell must be wondering how close he came to being protected by the chief justice. From the piece:

In his Hellerstedt dissent, Justice Samuel Alito took care to explain why Texas had enacted the law in the first place: to protect women from the likes of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

In 2013, Gosnell was convicted for the murders of three infants born alive as well as the manslaughter of Karnamaya Mongar, a woman seeking an abortion. “Gosnell had not been actively supervised by state or local authorities or by his peers, and the Philadelphia grand jury that investigated the case recommended that the Commonwealth adopt a law requiring abortion clinics to comply with the same regulations as [ambulatory surgical centers]. If Pennsylvania had had such a requirement in force, the Gosnell facility may have been shut down before his crimes,” Alito wrote.

Indeed, the Gosnell grand jury found that the “abhorrent conditions and practices inside Gosnell’s clinic [were] directly attributable to the Pennsylvania Health Department’s refusal to treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities.”

According to the report, the Gosnell clinic’s narrow hallways hampered efforts to help women injured there: “Ambulances were summoned to pick up the waiting patients, but (just as on the night Mrs. Mongar died three months earlier), no one, not even Gosnell, knew where the keys were to open the emergency exit. Emergency personnel had to use bolt cutters to remove the lock. They discovered they could not maneuver stretchers through the building’s narrow hallways to reach the patients (just as emergency personnel had been obstructed from reaching Mrs. Mongar).”

Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts joined Alito’s Hellerstedt dissent in 2016. But on Monday, Roberts handed a victory to would-be Kermit Gosnells in voting to strike down a 2014 Louisiana law almost identical to the Texas law at stake in Hellerstedt.

6. Despite the judicial wet-blanketing, David Harsanyi finds that “But Gorsuch” may indeed remain the best case for providing Donald Trump a second term. From the piece:

“But Gorsuch” also had immediate implications. Without Gorsuch there is no Janus v. AFSCME, and unions would still be forcing workers to pay dues to organizations that participate in political causes they do not support. Without Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — who, say what you will about Trump, was unlikely to have sustained the support of any other Republican president through such a malicious confirmation battle — states such as Colorado would still openly be destroying the lives of Americans over thought crimes.

A Supreme Court with two Hillary appointees would be whittling away the free-speech protections of Citizens United. It would be hammering the Second Amendment protections that were reaffirmed by Heller and McDonald. Roberts may view himself as a Solomonic strategist and stickler for precedent, but his liberal colleagues have little problem dispensing with it whenever convenient.

It’s understandable that conservatives feel frustrated. When Republicans take Congress, Barack Obama simply circumvents the legislative branch and create laws by fiat. When Republicans win back the presidency, Democrats refuse to accept the legitimacy of the election, and spend the entire term trying to overturn the results, while convincing their constituents that the constitutionally prescribed election process is illegitimate. And when Republican presidents attempt to overturn the previous president’s diktats, using the very same mechanisms, the Court stops them.

7. Victor Davis Hanson finds that it’s quiet in the Delaware basement, surely by intention. From the essay:

But by avoiding the campaign trail, Biden is only postponing the inevitable. He is compressing the campaign into an ever-shorter late-summer and autumn cycle. If he really agrees to three debates (he may not agree to any at all), and if he performs as he usually now acts and speaks, then he may end up reminding the American people in the eleventh hour of the campaign that they have a choice between a controversial president and a presidential candidate who simply cannot fulfill the office of presidency. And if Biden is a no-show, Trump will probably debate an empty, Clint Eastwood–prop mute chair.

Why, then, is Biden the nominee at all — other than that he leads in the delegate count and surged after Democrat back-roomers panicked when Bloomberg imploded and Bernie surged? As a result, politicos forced or enticed all the other primary candidates to vacate and unite around someone nominally not a socialist.

Is one consolation that Biden’s dementia offers a credible defense that he has “no recollection” that he was in on Obama’s efforts to surveil an oppositional campaign and abort a presidential transition?

While all Democrats know that the cat must be belled, no one wishes to step forward to do it and remove Biden — and indeed no one knows how to steal a nomination from an enfeebled winner and hand it off to an undeserving but cogent alternative. Take out Biden in August, and who knows what sort of candidate stampede might follow in today’s insane landscape?

8. David Harsanyi declares the Left’s Coronavirus narrative to be absurd. From the beginning of the piece:

To this point, 71 percent more Americans have died in New York nursing homes than have died in the entire state of Florida, which not only has a larger population but a population that skews older. To this point, New York’s death rate has been ten times larger than Florida’s. So, naturally, liberals are busy concocting a narrative that holds that the failures of the American response to coronavirus have been the fault of Trumpian nihilists in the Red States.

The “toxic imbecility” of Republicans is getting people killed, writes Max Boot. “Trumpism, not polarization, drives America’s disastrous coronavirus politics” says Ezra Klein. Some pundits who push this myth, Paul Krugman in particular, had even had the temerity to suggest that the country look to New York State for advice.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today it’s clear that NYC has been the key spreader of the infection nationally, and clear, too, that NYC was unable to flatten the curve.

9. At 90, Thomas Sowell is in the fight and taking no prisoners: Steve Hanke and Richard Ebeling take a look at the author of the important new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies. From the piece:

When analyzing race and discrimination, Sowell relishes going after one of his favorite targets: the intellectual elites, or as he refers to them, “the anointed.” The heart of his message is that men are not born with equal abilities. Contrary to the assertions of the anointed, Sowell argues that “empirically observable skills have always been grossly unequal.” Sowell also argues that not all cultures are equal contributors to world civilization. Indeed, he observes that “differences among racial, national and other groups range from the momentous to the mundane, whether in the United States or in other countries around the world and down through the centuries.” Sowell concludes that the world is culturally complex and filled with variety. We still have little understanding of the causes and consequences of that complexity. But markets tend to harmonize the interests of, or at least minimize the friction between, various peoples and cultures, while politics creates conflict, with advantages for some at the expense of others.

Much of what Sowell has to say about race is contained in his undeniably controversial Black Rednecks and White Liberals, a collection of essays. In the course of a lengthy examination of identity, culture, and its socioeconomic effects, he looks, among other issues, at what he refers to as “black ghetto culture” (something, he stresses more than once, of which “most black Americans” are not a part) and its particular language, customs, behavioral characteristics, and attitudes toward work and leisure. Sowell argues that it has been heavily influenced by earlier white southern “redneck” culture, although, as he is careful to note, this is not a matter of “simple linear extrapolation.” And indeed it is not.

Sowell traces this culture to several generations of Americans mostly descended from immigrants from “the northern borderlands of England . . . as well as from the Scottish highlands and Ulster” who arrived in the southern American colonies in the 18th century. The outstanding features of this redneck or “cracker” culture — as it was called in Great Britain before and during the emigration years — included, Sowell writes, “an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery.” It also included “touchy pride, vanity, and boastful self-dramatization.” The point to be drawn, he writes, “is that cultural differences led to striking socioeconomic differences among blacks, as they did among whites. In both races, those who lived within the redneck culture lagged far behind those who did not.”

10. More McCarthy: Andy ties together the racism narrative with the call for “police reform.” (And throws in a good look at Republican gutlessness.) From the piece:

I admire Senator Tim Scott. His life story, recently told in moving detail by the WSJs Tunku Varadarajan, is an inspiration. Yet his police-reform legislation was far from inspirational. Sure, it should have been debated. Democrats are cynical — surprise! — to block its consideration, the better to keep riding the racism wave they expect to make an anti-Trump tsunami by November (and, as usual, getting no small amount of help from the president). But the best you can say for Scott’s proposal was that it would do no real harm.

Republicans had no intention of pushing back against the slander of institutional racism. They have no stomach for trumpeting the 30-year revolution in policing that, by dramatically driving down homicide and violent crime, has saved thousands of black lives. They would not rouse themselves to a defense of police forces that, reflective of their communities, boast high percentages of African-American officers and, in many major cities, of African-American leadership. No case was made that those black lives matter, too.

Instead, Republicans accept the premise that the nation’s police forces are infected with racism and in desperate need of reform. The GOP won’t dictate to the states, as a bill passed by House Democrats’ would. But Republicans would use federal funding as the prod for state data-gathering on police uses of force. Given that policing is a state responsibility, and that the use of force is a necessary component of it, the only rational purpose of this federal scrutiny is the conceit that police violence is triggered by racism, not by the imperative of countering aggressive criminal behavior.

You might think Congress would want to test that proposition before hamstringing police in a way that will inevitably endanger American communities. Nope.

11. It’s this simple, says Robert VerBruggen: Walls work. From the beginning of the analysis:

We have a problem with people crossing the southern border on foot without authorization. But who could have guessed that putting a wall in their way would stop them?

Well, pretty much every immigration restrictionist. But a new study from American Economic Journal: Applied Economics finds that, indeed, border fencing reduces illegal immigration.

The effects are not small. “Construction in a [Mexican] municipality reduces migration by 27 percent for municipality residents and 15 percent for residents of adjacent municipalities”; it also reduces migration from municipalities that are farther away but historically have relied on the fenced area as a crossing point. Border-wall construction disproportionately deters lower-skilled workers, though it does cause some to cross the border elsewhere instead.

To reach these conclusions, the economist Benjamin Feigenberg had to assemble an impressive amount of data from numerous sources. Congress authorized the construction of nearly 700 miles of pedestrian fencing in 2006, but incredibly, there is no centralized database of where and when fencing was actually built. Pulling together the details meant searching news stories, government documents, and contracts, as well as interviewing Sierra Club staff who are tracking the fence’s progress for environmental reasons.

12. MEDIC! Wow does Matthew Scully ever knock the sanctimonious stuffing out of Republican ex-patriot Stuart Stevens. From the piece:

No matter how we regard the influence of President Donald Trump — as prime source of things gone wrong in politics or as deeply resented corrective — November 6, 2012, holds as good a claim as any date to being remembered as a turn of history and point of departure in the remaking of the Republican Party. Without Romney’s defeat, no Trump takeover. And no Republican other than Utah’s freshman senator himself had more to do with the fateful outcome on that Election Day than Mitt Romney’s sole campaign strategist in 2012, principal advertising consultant, and convention speechwriter, Stuart Stevens. Strange, then, to pick up Stevens’s new book, It Was All a Lie, to find him accusing Republican voters of all manner of sins, failures of judgment, and squandered opportunities, as if they were due the harsh accounting and he was the one left disappointed.

The book is billed as a “lacerating mea culpa,” a painful outpouring of regret by “the most successful political operative of his generation,” though in practice what the penitent mostly confesses is having for too long overlooked the faults of others, and having kept the wrong company when he should have known better. Presenting himself as the battle-weary veteran of many a campaign, with “the best win-loss record of anyone in my business,” Stevens shares his sadness and remorse at having labored so long as a Republican consultant, in service to people he now realizes are mostly frauds and to ideas he now regards as “lies” unworthy of his talents.

“If I look back on my years in politics,” he reflects, “the long-standing hypocrisy of the Republican Party should have been obvious.” But it wasn’t, and now in atonement he is prepared to testify that Donald Trump’s arrival merely revealed “the essence” of a selfish, backward, hateful, hopelessly racist “white grievance party” — defined by “the kooks and weirdos and social misfits of a conservative ideology” — our lofty Republican ideals all along just for show. As he tells us in his Prologue, “This is a book I never thought I’d write, that I didn’t want to write. But it’s the book I now must write. It’s a truth to which I can bear witness.”

Replace “book” with “review” in that bit of melodrama and it captures something of my own state of mind while reading as the author, a colleague in both the Bush campaign of 2000 and the Romney enterprise in 2012, airs his thoroughgoing contempt for the political party whose fortunes were entrusted to him just eight years ago. Nor does it quite ring true that all of this came to him as a sudden revelation during the Trump era. Though Stuart has some admirable traits and gifts, with It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump we have not the timely manifesto for 2020 that he intended but instead a valuable contribution to the historical record. The book helps to explain his own influence in the Romney campaign, which was ruinous. And it perfectly illustrates why so many Republican voters in 2012 sensed a lack of respect from the party establishment, leaving them receptive to something so dramatically different the next time around.

13. Get Your Geek On: Is there a right to . . . repair? NR intern Luther Abel conducts a most interesting interview with its advocate, Louis Rossman. From the transcript:

ABEL: You touched on this already, but I’ll ask it very deliberately: Does Right to Repair mean that every electronic item must be repairable, rather than replaceable. For instance, I had an old ASUS laptop I bought for 200 bucks. Everything was soldered in, meaning upgrading was impossible. Now it’s completely useless to me, but I paid $200. So what’s the big deal?

ROSSMAN: Right to Repair is not the concept that everything needs to be specifically designed in a manner where it’s easier for me [to fix]. So, for instance, if you’re going to solder the drive to the board, I’m not saying, “Don’t do that.” Feel free to make those decisions as a company, to make your products slimmer in any way that you see fit. But if you’re going to say, “We’re going to specifically pair this SSD to this computer, so that even if you’re able to locate the chips, they’re not going to work when you put them in,” that’s the area where Right to Repair would come in and say, ”Let’s do less of that.” So if you want to design them in a manner where you solder the charge chip in, rather than, I don’t know, having it in a socket, let’s say — this is a really silly example cause we’re going back like 30 or 40 years — if you’re going to solder the chip instead of socket it in, I don’t mind that. You do you. But, if you’re going to make it so that nobody can get the chip, that’s where Right to Repair would come in and say that that’s what we’re against.

So one example of what Right to Repair is not: The European Union, I believe, was looking to mandate that Apple use USB-C instead of Lightning, because USB-C is a standard and Lightning is not a standard. I don’t want people to think that has anything to do with Right to Repair because it doesn’t; that’s completely separate. I’m not looking to tell Apple, “You need to use this type of charge port. I want you to use micro USB. I want you to use USB-C. I want you to use this.” No, what we’re saying is, regardless of what you use to charge your phone — you could use a banana to charge it — just give us access to be able to purchase that charge port so that if the charge port in the phone breaks, we can fix it for customers rather than tell them, “Your phone is now a brick.” So I think that is a good example of what Right to Repair is not: We’re not looking to say, “You need to use this port. You need to do this.” Just don’t intentionally lock people out of the ability to fix it once you’ve chosen how to design it.

14. Is there a home-grown Anti-European Fusionism taking place on the other side of the pond? NR intern Mathis Bitton, reporting from over there, has the story. From the piece:

In fact, far from posing a threat to France’s political order, Front Populaire represents the culmination of a strange alliance that started with the birth of the fifth French Republic. In the aftermath of World War II, Charles de Gaulle united conservative and Communist members of the Résistance to form a government that would uphold national sovereignty, limit foreign interference, and celebrate French culture after four years of German occupation. A similar coalition resurrected itself in 1992 with the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, the treaty many view as having marked the beginning of European federalism. Then, a surreal partnership between convinced socialists such as Jean-Pierre Chevènement and conservative leaders such as Philippe Séguin emerged. Despite their colossal ideological differences, the two men shared the stage to fight against what they perceived to be the end of France as a nation-state.

But the most important date in the history of this peculiar alliance is May 29, 2005. On that day, and against all odds, the French people voted against the ratification of the Treaty of Rome, which extended the powers that Maastricht had already delegated to transnational European institutions. For the first time, the cause of national sovereignty had united a majority of voters, ranging from disillusioned Communists to committed nationalists. Naturally, the French government did not respect the popular vote; two years later, a repackaged version of the Treaty of Rome was signed by the French president without any form of public consultation. This betrayal of democratic norms has ever since fuelled the determination of anti-EU parties; but never have sovereignist political forces been able to unite beyond occasional referenda.

The reason for this is a simple one: Apart from their rejection of the EU, French conservatives have had very little in common with socialists, Communists, and even reactionaries. At least, until now. Onfray claims that the common enemy that is the EU is sufficient to launch a real political movement. American observers may find this development familiar. When future president Ronald Reagan and Republican fusionists built an anti-Soviet coalition in the 1960s, they brought together a panoply of libertarians and traditionalists who did not share much philosophically. What did unite them, however, was a threat so immense as to dwarf their differences. Naturally, Onfray by no means implies that the EU is somehow analogous to the U.S.S.R. But he does argue that the circumstances may be similar enough for a new kind of fusionism to arise.

15. Cameron Hilditch considers the consecration of a new Russian cathedral and what it bespeaks about the way certain powers regard themselves. From the essay:

The nation-state, properly defined, is a territory in which a single sovereign government wields the geographic monopoly on violence. Western nations have taken this idea to be fundamental and projected it psychologically, geopolitically, and militarily on parts of the world where it is a purely contingent and incidental way of manifesting and safeguarding modes of political unity that far antedate it. None of the English-speaking peoples have known any sense of political unity and solidarity apart from the development of a national consciousness. This might be because England herself developed this self-consciousness exceptionally early, during the reign of Alfred the Great in the ninth century.

Yet the nation-state is not the fundamental unit of political identity in either China or Russia. It is the topsoil over much deeper foundations. Both the history and the ambitions of these two countries put them in a category of polities that Jacques calls “civilization-states.” Whereas Westerners think of their countries as nations, men such as Putin and Xi think of their own as civilizations. The idea of the civilization-state allows a polity to extend the story of its own history back to a time before its current constitutional settlement. It allows for the possibility that different national arrangements may have prevailed at different points in the country’s history, yet without diminishing the continuity of identity that holds true through all the different constitutional permutations over the centuries. Consequently, for the Chinese, “China” as a recognizable entity of which they feel themselves to be a part is 5,000 years old. The historian Wang Gungwu asks, “Of what other country in the world can it be said that writings on its foreign relations of two thousand, or even one thousand, years ago seem so compellingly alive today?”

The role of the government in a civilization-state is therefore different from its role in a nation-state. In the former, the purpose of government is to maintain the unity of the civilization across time and space and prevent its dilution, rather than secure the individual rights of its citizens. This purpose is informed and undergirded by the people’s sense of intimacy with their own history and traditions and by the emotional power of an identity shared across millennia. The general acquiescence of the Han Chinese and the Russian peoples to their illiberal regimes makes sense when these countries are assessed according to the principles of a civilization-state.

Lights. Camera. Action! And Paintings!

1. Armond White finds Quentin Dupieux’s horror-comedy import, Deerskin, compelling. From the review:

In a French countryside town that looks recognizably vacant and free of social standards — the opening sequence features several impressionable young people following an unlikely group ritual — a stranger arrives from the city. Georges (Jean Dujardin) seeks to purchase a vintage suede hunting jacket complete with hanging fringe. The seller, an old hermit, throws in a video recorder as an ominous Brothers Grimm–style talisman. Georges tapes himself — and his jacket — like a self-taught introvert.

When Georges shoots the local scenery, Dupieux lets the footage suggest alienation. This is a place without history, where conscious social memory has mostly been erased, replaced by a madman’s attempt at expressing his own wacky and irate egotism. Dupieux observes things in Georges’s own solipsistic terms until he meets a bartender, Denise (Adèle Haenel), who coincidentally shares his lunacy. “I edit,” she tells him. “I put Pulp Fiction in order.”

That’s when Deerskin’s bizarre conceit falls into place. Combining old and new fetish objects, traditional and modern obsessions, Dupieux assesses the moral retreat that has occurred ever since Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction opened Pandora’s Box.

This slyly paranoid art film proposes what cannot be put back in order — or, as an amateur filmmaker might think, rectified by pressing a rewind button. It defies back-to-roots, back-to-nature aspirations (our roots being torn down and vandalized now) and so goes forward into murderous madness.

2. Kyle Smith believes that Lawrence of Arabia has well withstood the sands of time. From the commentary:

A strikingly modern trait of Lawrence is that it explores Thomas Edward Lawrence’s flaws and complicating aspects to a degree that was unusual for a Hollywood hero story then and for many years thereafter; even two decades later, its Columbia Pictures successor Gandhi was a strict hagiography that allowed no blemishes in its portrait (and suffers for it). Lawrence repeatedly casts its title character as vainglorious, dancing around admiring himself when he gets his splendid white sherif’s robes and twice comparing himself to Moses before he grants himself a promotion: “My friends, who will walk on water with me?” He’s not even 30 yet. Typical of a modern liberal intellectual, he is an internationalist, disdainful of his own country: He dubs England “fat country. Fat people,” anticipating how generations of Western students would talk as they roamed the earth looking for exotic folks to save, often begging to be accepted as one of them. “I’m different,” he says, and so he is. He’s a man with “a funny sense of fun,” we are told. That’s a genteel Edwardian reference to what we will observe is Lawrence’s sadomasochism.

Lawrence thinks it would be fun to lead the Arabs to seize the port of Aqaba from the Turks not for honor, adventure, or country, as in previous war epics, but as an act of allyship for people of color. His motive is to win the Arabs their independence in a pan-Arab postcolonial state. Underlying that is a semi-erotic fixation on pain, both receiving it and administering it. Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) has his number: He’s seen misery tourists before. “No Arab loves the desert,” Faisal reminds him. Arabs aren’t stupid. They like water and green things, not deprivation. Lawrence is irritated by comfort. When he is captured and whipped by the Turks, he barely reacts, though immediately after that scene he expresses dismay about his skin color, which strikes him as hopelessly limiting rather than, like other British soldiers of the Empire, a mark of superiority.

3. Brian Allen proposes that the moneybags who fund museums stop giving to those which continue to keep their doors closed. From the commentary:

Texas is saying “enough already” to public-health bureaucrats with no credibility, a news media with no scruples, and politicians with no cojones. Alas, COVID-19 is a new virus, the barn door’s flung open, and the country can’t tolerate millions of workers unemployed and millions of children unschooled. We need to end this most unexcellent, reckless, hubristic, and ruinous adventure. We’ll need to integrate COVID-19 into our lives for the foreseeable future.

Museums need to do their part. Many can’t reopen because their state and local masters won’t allow them, but many others can and won’t. They’re “preparing” and studying statistics and convening special committees, we’re told, but the truth is their shelter-in-place directors and senior staff have grown accustomed to collecting fat paychecks for the once-in-a-while Zoom meeting.

Today I read a long list of California museums that won’t open to serve the public until September. “Surf’s up,” I imagine, since I doubt more than a few among their staffs can productively “work from home” for what will be six months, with no collection, no public, no library, no shows, and no files.

Millions of unemployed, millions of mostly low-income workers who drive trucks, stock our supermarkets, and grow food, and millions working in factories and hospitals aren’t such lucky duckies. In a world of “haves” and “have nots,” right now big chunks of the museum class have it made. “Just keep scouring the papers for spikes, anywhere,” cry the lucky duckies. I suspect many want to keep the Endless Summer going. Aren’t the directors embarrassed?

4. It’s Summer! John Loftus finds Jaws middle-aged but still terrific. From the piece:

Prior to Jaws, studios dumped their B-list fare into the summer junkyard, saving the fall and winter for the big-budget, star-studded prestige releases. But Jaws was unique, deliberately crafted and marketed for a season, and thus Spielberg and Universal Studios established the summer “blockbuster.” Jaws was purposefully released nationwide in half the number of theaters usually allotted for a studio film. In cities, Americans waited hours on lines circling around whole blocks. The hype — and fear — ballooned. TV advertising, as opposed to print reviews, continually touted the film with “saturation booking.” Jaws also marks the point at which studios sought “high-concept” ideas — easy to pitch, easy to market — that prompted a string of ’80s box-office hits. Legend has it, screenwriter Dan O’Bannon pitched Alien as “Jaws in space.”

There’s the artistry and pluck, too. Unlike most summer blockbusters made today (Christopher Nolan’s movies are the exception, not the rule) Jaws is every bit as dramatic and compelling as the best Oscar-bait. Brody, Quint, and Hopper — all three idiosyncratic to the core — share a rich dynamic. Filming on boats with a mechanical shark was an unprecedented technical crucible. The cinematography, editing, John Williams score, and Spielberg’s direction built tension and suspense much like a Hitchcockian thriller. Not to mention, the script is chock full of classic lines such as “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”; “Smile, you son of a b****”; and “This shark, swallow you whole.”

5. More Kyle: He praises Mr. Jones. From the review:

Mr. Jones, it turns out, is also the name of an Orwell acquaintance who might have been an inspiration in his writing: Jones is a Welsh reporter, first name Gareth, who is our vantage point for the Stalin-engineered Ukraine famine of the 1930s that amounted to the state-ordered murder of more than three million people by seizing the region’s grain. At the outset of the film Mr. Jones (which is just out via VOD services) is seen pleading to a team of politicos led by David Lloyd George, a former British prime minister in 1933. Jones (played with a combination of determination and disbelief by James Norton) advises the Brits that Herr Hitler, whom he has recently interviewed, has already started a war on western civilization and that a similar threat is building in the Soviet Union. Guffaws greet everything Jones says, and he gets the sack from Lloyd George. “It is me you need, I’m the only one who tells you the truth,” Jones tells the grand old man, but the ex-premier isn’t interested. So Jones goes to Moscow anyway, pretending he has Lloyd George’s blessing.

The genius move of this scathing and suspenseful film by Poland’s Agnieszka Holland (who was once arrested by the Soviets, during the Prague Spring) is in whom it selects to be the menacing, dead-eyed apparatchik with a cold determination to search out and destroy any threats to the regime: He is none other than Walter Duranty, the New York Times’s man in Moscow, or rather Moscow’s man at the New York Times. Duranty is portrayed by one of the screen’s true masters of all things snaky and slimy, Peter Sarsgaard. Sarsgaard, Holland, and screenwriter Andrea Chalupa perform such a vicious act of celluloid vivisection on Duranty that Mr. Jones may restore your faith in movies.

Duranty, the one-legged Anglo-American granddaddy of fake news, was, as the film makes vividly clear, not a lazy hack who stuck with a comfy narrative because it was the easiest thing to do (like most journos) or a cynic who thinks all sides stand equal in their sins (like many other journos). He wasn’t even a useful idiot. He was, rather, an active and fervent defender of an evil regime and consequently a deeply evil man himself. Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1931 reports defending Stalin under such headlines as “Stalinism Solving Minorities Problem” and “Red Army is Held No Menace to Peace.” After he said reports of a famine were “an exaggeration or malignant propaganda,” FDR granted recognition to the USSR. This was back in the days when Pulitzers were being handed out not for advancing public knowledge but for setting fire to the facts in order to light a torch for far-left propaganda. Thank heavens that never happens anymore.

Podcastapalooza

1. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss Trump’s recent polling problems and the Supreme Court decisions handed down this week. Listen here.

2. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the cognitive challenges of Joe Biden; the former Veep’s basement strategy — and how Trump needs to get Biden up through the BILCO doors; how November will be about the Angry Voter; Blue State leaders’ “neo-confederate” approach to mayhem; John Roberts, the intimidated jurist; a Trump Second-Term agenda; recalling California governor Gavin Newsom; and reflections on the Fall of France on its 80th anniversary. Listen here.

3. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss why people should be cautious of the Taliban/Russia narrative, and condemn China’s takeover of Hong Kong. Listen here.

4. On The Great Books, John J. Miller and Spencer Klavan discuss Aeschylus’s The Persians. Listen here.

5. Then on The Bookmonger, JJM is joined by Abigail Shrier to discuss her book on trans lunacy, Irreversible Damage. Listen here.

6. On Radio Free California, Will talks with historian Robert M. Senkewicz about Junípero Serra, founder of the California missions; object of veneration, admiration, and hate. In other news, Steve Greenhut talks about police reform, Dr. Jeff Barke about how K–12 schools should open sans masks and social distancing, and California Policy Center’s Ed Ring about one city’s revolutionary approach to the problem of fire-fighting. Listen here.

7. On Political Beats, Scot and Ed are joined by legal guru Randy Barnett to discuss The Zombies and Agent. Listen here.

8. On Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke continue their discussion of one-term presidents, following up the previous episode with more on Martin Van Buren, and then on to John Tyler (skipping the skippable William Henry Harrison). Listen here.

The Six

1. At Real Clear Politics, Daniel J. Mahoney diagnoses the severe threat to this More Perfect Union and calls for a rejection of the Left’s Culture of Hate. From the essay:

True democracy presupposes mutual accountability and mutual respect. Our greatest and most noble president, Abraham Lincoln, “loathed slavery,” as Frederick Douglass, the greatest black American of the 19th century, rightly said. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” Lincoln wrote in a note to himself in August 1858. This, he said, “expresses my idea of democracy.” And in his Gettysburg Address of November 1863, he called for a “new birth of freedom” that would bring black Americans fully into the American civic community. Lincoln knew that proud black men had spilled their blood for the Union and liberty and that Americans owed them honor and due respect for their sacrifices on behalf of the republic. As Douglass said in his dedication to the Freedmen’s Monument in Washington, D.C., in April 1876 — a statue dedicated by former slaves in memory of Lincoln — one must show gratitude and appreciation to those “loyal, brave, and patriotic” black soldiers who “fell in defense of the Union and liberty.” Both they and Lincoln died at the service of a republic worthy of free men and women, one where citizens shared in rule and were neither masters nor slaves. We should be proud of that shared civic legacy, that mutual struggle for liberty and human dignity.

But now even the Freedmen’s Monument is threatened by a mob of angry thugs. These “Bourgeois Bolsheviks,” as The American Conservative recently described them, despise the mutual accountability and respect for law that undergirds true liberty and equality. They mock the greatness of Lincoln and Douglass. They are defined by ignorance, ingratitude, and envy. Their ignoble “passion for equality,” as Tocqueville called it, is a grotesque perversion of the noble moral and civic equality that underlies the American proposition. This desire to tear down, to destroy and repudiate the patrimony of our fathers, is incompatible with civilized existence.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer compares the patriots of 1776 to the Mayhemocrats of 2020. From the piece:

Finally, the protestors of 2020 have shown almost no interest in discussion. They believe their conclusions are unassailable, and, thus, they see debate as nothing more than delay toward their inevitable future. Yet, when we look back at 1776, we see an entire population that engaged in ideas at every level. Here, though extremely violent, is a typical statement from the American Revolution, a broadside that threatened bodily harm while also expressing serious ideas about the nature of God, the nature of the human person, and the dangers of a standing army:

Fellow Countrymen

be not intimidated at the Sight of Soldiers, mercenary Soldiers, who for a penny a day addition to their Wages, would serve Mustaphay 3rd as soon as George ye 3rd. You know their Number: 1000 Slaves are not to give Laws to a brave and free people. They have already began to shew their Insolence. There is now no appeal but go God. Extirpate them Root and Branch, be sure their Chiefs are the first Victims, rise my Countrymen. Throw off the first Fetter of Slavery, a Standing Army—remember your brave Forefathers, men of whom, the world was not worthy. They purchas’d this Land with much Treasure and Seas of their Blood, let them not in this day rise up and see their posterity less brave, less resolute, and less virtuous. My Countrymen we either must unsheath our Swords or be Slaves. Your understandings would be affronted were the Last to be put to you. The day is come. Strike these Invaders of your Liberty, these Enemies of your God and not let them any longer pollute this Insulam Sacram, ye that have got no swords, sell your Garments and buy one. You fear not Death, only Slavery. The Anniversary of our last Stroke to their underhand plots was the 14th August. Let our last and effectual stroke to their open Hostilities be the same. My Countrymen, be Freemen or Slaves, or die, or die.

The revolutionaries of 1776 could be just as violent as those of 2020, but they were truly a lot more intelligent and interesting.

3. At Unherd, Mike McCulloch tells the tale of how some Twitter “likes” nearly cost him his teaching position. From the beginning of the piece:

University was once a place that prided itself on freedom of thought, academic inquiry and a free exchange of ideas, but in recent years it has turned into something different. As a university lecturer in geomatics, I can attest to this: earlier this month, I received a polite email from my Head of School stating that an anonymous person had sent a list of tweets that I had ‘liked’ over a 24-hour period to the University’s Equalities Team. My supposed ‘crime’ was that I had liked posts saying ‘All lives matter’, ‘Gender has a scientific basis’ and ones opposed to mass immigration.

The complainant extrapolated from that to say that I was black-hating, woman-hating, immigrant-hating…etc, which is not true. In the complaint, this person also targeted my work by claiming that my physics papers had been blacklisted by journals, which again, is not true.

Last week, I was then told of another complaint received by the University and that there would be an investigation. A senior colleague was appointed investigator and a Zoom meeting was organised for the 1st July to decide whether a disciplinary hearing should be held that could lead to my dismissal.

4. At The Pipeline, John O’Sullivan wonders about the problematic veracity of the Green movement’s “97 per cent” claim. From the piece:

That said, it’s oddly interesting (i.e., counter-intuitive) that political partisanship seems to operate on global warming as strongly among scientists as among the rest of us. A Pew Research survey for this year’s Earth Day showed that while Democrats with a high degree of scientific knowledge were likely to have a strong belief in the human contribution to climate change, Republicans with the same level of information were much more skeptical.

These are intriguing, even embarrassing, results. The researchers plainly thought so, because they added this somewhat nervous comment on them:

A similar pattern was found regarding people’s beliefs about energy issues. These findings illustrate that the relationship between people’s level of science knowledge and their attitudes can be complex.

And maybe they illustrate something else, too. For these results seem to conflict with perhaps the single best known statistic about science and global warming, namely that 97 per cent of scientists believe in global warming. To unpack that claim, they believe that global warming is happening, it’s man-made, and it’s dangerous. That’s President Obama speaking. Former Secretary of State John Kerry added the word “urgent.” And that’s pretty much the internationally respectable orthodoxy of officialdom and the media. Anyone who dissents from it is labelled a “climate denier” and, as Herbert Spencer said of such judgments a century and a half ago, “nothing he says thereafter need be listened to again.”

But that raises a doubt. If ninety-seven per cent of the scientists you meet believe in global warming, how come that many Republicans knowledgeable about science don’t believe them?

5. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman finds slavery rampant, and wokeness silent. From the article:

In the UK itself, there is a shocking range of modern slavery, something that the local wokesters are happy to ignore as they bravely attack statues of stone and metal. According to the UK government’s 2019 Annual Report on Modern Slavery, there are at least 13,000 potential victims of slavery in the UK, although as that number dates back to 2014, it is questionable. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 136,000 people living in modern slavery just in Britain.

Slavery in the UK takes the form of forced labor, and domestic and sexual exploitation. Albanians and Vietnamese are among the groups that constitute the majority of slaves. British news outlets have run several stories about the estimated thousands of Vietnamese, half under the age of 18, who are kidnapped and trafficked to the UK where they are forced to work as slaves on cannabis farms. There, they form a small part of the “vast criminal machine that supplies Britain’s £2.6bn cannabis black market”. Those who are not forced to work in the cannabis industry are enslaved in “nail bars, brothels and restaurants, or kept in domestic servitude behind the doors of private residences”. In January, BBC news ran a story about a Vietnamese boy named Ba, who was kidnapped by a Chinese gang and trafficked to the UK, where his Chinese boss starved him and beat him whenever one of the cannabis plants failed.

BLM may not care much about Vietnamese lives in the UK — after all, they are all about black lives, so how about black slaves in Africa? There are currently an estimated 9.2 million men, women and children living in modern slavery in Africa, according to the Global Slavery Index, which includes forced labor, forced sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

6. At The College Fix, Christian Schneider reports on how the incredibly hypocritical Stanford University is addicted to ChiCom cash. From the piece:

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Stanford has accepted more funds from China since 2013 than all but three other schools in the U.S. (Harvard University, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania top the list.)

During this six-year period, Stanford reported $58.1 million in China-based gifts and contracts, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

Yet Stanford’s tightening relationship with China occurred as the U.S. government was warning colleges and universities of the growing influence of China on American campuses.

In 2018, the FBI issued a report indicating some foreign scholars on American campuses “seek to illicitly or illegitimately acquire U.S. academic research and information to advance their scientific, economic, and military development goals.”

The report noted the Chinese government “has historically sponsored economic espionage, and China is the world’s principal infringer of intellectual property.”

Specifically, law enforcement was worried about Confucius Institutes, which allow Chinese nationals access to American students and intellectual property. The institutes are largely funded by Hanban, an organization directly under the purview of the Ministry of Education in Beijing, but which also has ties to the External Propaganda Leading Group of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee.

BONUS: At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce explains how those Mean Old Hungarians — led by Victor Orbán — have resisted the Marxist madness within the country’s borders. From the analysis:

To these liberal globalist elites, Mr. Orbán’s national conservative government is anathema, pursuing policies which undermine the globalist agenda. His government has refused to accept the large “quota” of mostly Moslem immigrants that the European Union has sought to impose upon the people of Hungary, and he has outraged the elites still further with his resolute refusal to bend the knee before the Pride movement and its war on the traditional family. While the war on the family continues to wreak havoc in the United States and the countries of western Europe, Hungary has pursued a pro-family agenda which is reaping a bountiful harvest. The country has seen an astonishing 5.5 percent increase in birth-rate in the first four months of this year, a direct consequence of the pro-family legislation passed in 2019, as well as a 50 percent increase in the number of marriages. This resurrection of the traditional family has been helped by the government’s proactive pro-family policies, such as a grant of around $35,000, for married couples who have at least three children.

Mr. Orbán believes that these pro-family policies, aimed at increasing Hungary’s birthrate, is a much more socially and culturally healthy way of coping with Europe’s demographic implosion than the socially and culturally destructive alternative of mass immigration, which has been the path adopted by those countries which have conformed to the globalist elite’s agenda. “Demographic crisis must be solved by powerful state efforts, we must have a demography-focused policy-making,” Mr. Orbán declared last year. He added, in words which would infuriate the anti-family Pride advocates, that “when we talk about family and family subsidies, we support traditional families.” The alternative is national suicide and cultural meltdown, as a spokesman for the Hungarian government told Breitbart London last year: “Europe is at a crossroads. Western Europe seeks to address the problem of demography with simple solutions which only offer short-term success, but convey catastrophic consequences in the long run. What we need is not numbers, but Hungarian children: we’re not seeking to sustain an economic system, but Hungary, the Hungarian nation and Hungarian history; we want to encourage the continuation of our families.”

The “catastrophic consequences” of the short-term or quick fix solution of mass immigration were seen in the riots last week between rival Chechen and Algerian immigrant gangs in Dijon in France, the news coverage of which was largely suppressed in western Europe and the United States but was reported widely in central and eastern Europe. This follows a wave of riots across France in recent months centered on immigrant areas that have become largely no-go areas for the police. Alluding to the “gang wars being fought in the streets of the beautiful small towns of Western European countries,” Mr. Orbán remarked that the globalist elite’s “multiculturalist” ideology was not for his country. “I take a look at the countries which keep sending us messages about how to live our lives correctly, and how to govern and to operate a democracy well, and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry.”

Baseballery

As the Designated Hitter comes to the National League, completing the pervertage of the art and beauty of the National Pastime (we need to educate David Harsanyi about his dreadful beliefs in this area) it is worth considering — who was the last pitcher to get a hit back in the Good Old Days, before the DH came to the Junior Circuit?

To recount: The DH abomination appeared in 1973 — the Yankees’ Ron Blomberg having the distinction of being the first man to ever bat so designated. It came against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on the afternoon of April 6, 1973, in the top of the First: Blomberg, batting sixth, walked with the bases loaded (driving in the great Matty Alou).

In the stuffy offices of this Meandering Missive, we traipsed through box scores of the last days of the 1972 season to see what pitcher — batting regularly, as was the rule for more than a century — got the final hit of the Unmolested Era.

It was the quite young future Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven, who proved to be the only AL pitcher who hit safely on the 1972 season’s final day — October 4. Playing at home against the Chicago White Sox, before a scant crowd of 3,193, Blyleven led the Minnesota Twins to a 14–2 victory. It gave the Minnesota righthander a 17–17 record for the season, while White Sox rookie Goose Gossage, in one of the few starts in his Hall-of-Fame career, took the loss, giving up 13 hits and 9 runs in three innings.

No, he didn’t serve up Blyleven’s hit — that came at the expense of White Sox reliever Dan Neumeier — a two-run double in the bottom of the Fourth, padding the Twins’ beatdown to a 10–0 lead. Never heard of Neumeier? No surprise: this was the last of his three MLB career appearances, in which he compiled a 0–0 record, a 9.00 ERA. There’s not much to say besides that, except that he earned an awkward place in baseball history (a place possibly unrecognized until this sad moment).

A Dios

The power of prayer is f’real. Weeks back Your Humble Correspondent sought them for a young father whose body was rife with late-stage cancers. His mother writes that the last tests show significant reductions in tumors, and once-pessimistic doctors now genuinely optimistic. This is not a tale of Mission Accomplished. Praise to those who did pray — there is a general belief by family and the medical gurus that something above and beyond is happening with the patient — but we beseech once again this weekend that you might repeat petitions to the Almighty for this particular cause.

Of course, to occur in between your petitions that The Divine smite those who aim to defile and destroy this special place He created, unlike any other seen since Eden.

That the Ancient of Days Will Afford You and Yours Graces Abundant and Mercies Tender,

Jack Fowler, who would thrill to images of your Grand Old Flag displays sent safely to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Grant. One Wish.

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

If the Genie presented himself to Your Proud Jingoist Correspondent with an offer to grant one wish, the response would be: Make the flannelmouths and dimwits admit that Marxists and other America–hating ideologues are engaged in a culture war intent on destroying this grand and great thing we have been bequeathed, a thing bought and paid in blood — this land of the free, home of the brave and e pluribus unum, of sacred unalienable rights, of Old Glory waving o’er the ramparts and purpled mountain majesties and fruited plains, this house I live in where, as Frank Sinatra crooned, one has the right to speak your mind out.

Mobs send messages, not in the way Old Blue Eyes was defending but more like Ignatz communicating with Krazy Kat. The mob aspires to chaos and anarchy, it intends the destruction of beliefs and of our civilization. It calculates that the abyss is the opportunity to claim power and wield it, to death do we swiftly part. The mob seeks no honest discussion — your abject supplication and subjugation will do just fine. The mob’s motto echoes the demented hiss of Ahab: From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

About honest discussions: Indeed, we need one. Let’s keep it short. Not one about how to contain it, nor how to diminish it, but one about calling out this mob and rabble for what it is — a revolutionary enterprise, a Marxist undertaking. And let us end the discussion by confirming our obligation to the More Perfect Union to which we are indebted: It now needs our courage and direct action.

Would that we fix bayonets and charge at the orders of a General Grant. The bronze one has been toppled — but the memory of the real one has been polished nicely by Dan McLaughlin. You really need to read his piece, In Defense of Ulysses S. Grant. Here’s a slice:

Grant was a great man, if a flawed one. He was, moreover, a humble man who needed great events to uncover his strengths. Understanding both his flaws and the context of his life underlines the greatness of his accomplishments. Reading history requires empathy. People in the past believed different things than we do, sometimes for very good reasons. Things that appalled them as immoral then do not scandalize us now, and things that appall us as immoral now did not scandalize them then. Ideas and tactics that would succeed today would fail miserably then.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize–winning 1619 Project author, waved away efforts to put Grant in context in a since-deleted Tweet: “Hitler was a man of his time, Osama bin Laden was a man of his time.” This is an obscene parallel: Hitler was not the norm among veterans of the First World War, and bin Laden was not the norm even among Saudis born in the 1950s. It is also not how history works. To say that figures of the past were men of their time is not to exonerate them from all judgment but to recognize that judgment requires perspective as to what things were hard, what things were possible, and what things required courage.

Grant always believed that slavery was wrong, though, as with many Americans of his day, it took time for him to be convinced to act on it. He was from the free state of Ohio, and his father was a vocal abolitionist. (Grant’s father was too vocal about a lot of things for the tastes of the soft-spoken, reserved Grant). Yet Grant fell in love with a Southern woman, whose wealthy family owned slaves. His father-in-law remained an unreconstructed Confederate even while living in Grant’s White House literally in the middle of Reconstruction. Was Grant wrong to marry her? Was he wrong, as his critics imply, not to impose sterner patriarchal discipline over his wife and her “property,” and a more unforgiving posture toward his father-in-law? Perhaps he was. But their marriage was long and happy, and Julia Grant was essential to keeping him sober when he needed her help. Dealing with the intransigence of his ultra-Yankee father and ultra-Rebel father-in-law gave Grant a unique appreciation for the nation’s divisions and the careful work needed to accommodate and overcome them.

Grant knew a real rebellion when he saw it. And he defeated it. Inspiring, no? Now, onto the Jolt!

Editorials

1. The President’s decision to cut U.S. troops in Germany is ill-advised. From the editorial:

If it is being undertaken to punish Germany for its trade policies and defense spending, as Trump has said, it’s unlikely to bring results. Trump was right to call Germany “delinquent” for consistently failing to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense, the NATO target. Germany’s disregard for its commitments to the transatlantic alliance is disgraceful, but unfortunately, unlikely to fundamentally change, notwithstanding a