The Morning Jolt

Film & TV

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: The Celebrity Conservatives Need

5-Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: $124 million (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes a full-throated defense of freedom of speech and jabs at “generation snowflake,” (SEE UPDATE BELOW) all the ways an emergency declaration to build a border wall would violate the U.S. Constitution; and a harder look at the easily overlooked Julian Castro.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Argues ‘Generation Snowflake’ Is ‘Putting Us Backwards’

(Update: Monday, January 14: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson declared on Instagram that the entire interview was fabricated and that he never said anything quoted in the article.)

In May 2017, National Review put Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the cover, with a piece by David French arguing Johnson was “The Celebrity We Need.” More than a few folks chortled that we were turning into People or Us Weekly.

But think about how much courage it takes for a guy as active in Hollywood as Johnson — currently with a reality competition show on NBC, a drama series on HBO, and possibly as many as ten future movies in the pipeline — to come out and make a full-throated defense of freedom of speech, declare that people are too easily offended, and use the term “Generation Snowflake.”

I don’t have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think, but I will back their right to say or believe it. That’s democracy. So many good people fought for freedom and equality – but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended. If you are not agreeing with them then they are offended – and that is not what so many great men and women fought for.

He continues in his brief interview with the Daily Star over in the United Kingdom:

We thankfully now live in a world that has progressed over the last thirty or forty years. People can be who they want, be with who they want, and live how they want. That can only be a good thing – but generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards.

Before you think, “Big deal, The Rock offers a bit of criticism of the PC outrage brigade,” notice that he’s willing to do what a lot of seemingly big and powerful institutions won’t do. Condé Nast won’t stand up for their writers, Netflix censors content when foreign governments complain, and a member of Congress professed that he “would love to be able to regulate the content of speech.”

You Can’t Ignore the Constitutional Separation of Powers in Pursuit of a Policy Goal

It was explained to me years ago by a wise man that the difference between a conservative and a right-wing radical is that a conservative cares about how he achieves a goal as much achieving the goal; a right-wing radical wants what he wants and doesn’t care what has to be done to get it.

As many have observed, if President Trump declares an emergency, and just transfers funds appropriated to the military or disaster relief to building the wall, a future Democrat will make similar moves to take away funding from congressional priorities and enact policies that Congress did not support.

The editors:

It’s an offense against the spirit of our system for a president to fail to get he wants from Congress — in a dispute involving a core congressional power, spending — and then turn around and exploit a tenuous reading of the law to try to get it anyway. We know this seems increasingly quaint, especially after President Obama’s pen-and-phone governance in his second term, but we believe presidents have an obligation to honor the role of the respective branches of government, even when it’s not in their political interest, even when there seems to be a clever workaround.

Yuval Levin, taking aim at Lindsey Graham:

For members of Congress in particular to fail to do so, let alone to encourage the president to go around Congress and spend money that has not been appropriated, is a dereliction of Congress’s duty. It is unfortunately the latest of many.

Remember Illinois Democratic Congressman Phil Hare saying during the debate about Obamacare, “I don’t care about the Constitution”? Remember how we seethed about that? Remember how we argued, correctly, that his statement was virtually a violation of his oath of office? (Members of Congress swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”) This is not that different!

As Charlie Cooke lays out in a new video, this is separate from the argument about merits of the wall. The emergency provisions are in there for genuine emergencies, like nuclear war or a 9/11 style attack, where Congress cannot be consulted. Cooke points out that this should spur Congress to start removing these emergency provisions from the law — because otherwise this amounts to tearing up the Constitution and ignoring the entire concept of checks and balances.

Separately, if President Trump takes away federal funding for recovery from Hurricane Michael and uses it to start building a border wall in the southwest, he makes it way less likely that he will win the state of Florida in 2020. Cotton farmers, timber farmers and the oyster industry were wiped out, with projected losses adding up to $4.9 billion.

But in the end, how many Americans — and how many erroneously self-described “conservatives,” “Republicans,” and “patriots” — are happy to live under a dictator, as long as the dictator shares the goals they do?

Castro, Convertible

My NR magazine profile of Julian Castro — the former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary now likely to run for president — is now available on NRPlus. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss Castro as an also-ran or never-was in a crowded field. But he’s probably going to be the only Latino on that crowded Democratic debate stage, and one of the painful surprise lessons for Democrats from 2016 is that Latinos are not guaranteed to come out in huge numbers to vote against Donald Trump. But considering the enormous hype that surrounded Castro when he made his national debut at the Democrats’ 2012 convention, he feels like the candidate of tomorrow who became the candidate of yesterday without ever really being the candidate of today.

The article only briefly delves into a topic that will likely come up in Castro discussions — his plan at HUD to double the value of Section 8 housing vouchers, aiming to bring those living in public housing in cities into the suburbs. The New York Post’s Paul Sperry noted that a similar program was tried in 1994. In 2011, 15 years after the program started, HUD studied the program’s effectiveness and saw surprisingly grim results: no detectable effect on the employment or welfare dependency, no detectable impacts for either male or female youth in academic achievement, and “male youth were slightly more likely to report using marijuana, scored higher on an index of behavioral problems (which includes acting out and aggressive behaviors), and were more likely to be arrested for property crime.”

ADDENDUM: Thanks to the hundreds of people who’ve listened to this week’s pop-culture podcast — with Antonio Brown apparently on the way out in Pittsburgh, football fans may particularly appreciate our discussion about how to live with a super-talented but consistently discontented wide receiver.

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