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.
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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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.