National Review

It Was Just One of Those Things . . .

Dear Weekend Jolter,

. . . one of those crazy things, a trip to the moon, on gossamer wings.

More like in a hunk of metal with a firecracker in its caboose.

Like nearly all else alive that day, a half century ago, Young Yours Truly and his famiglia were hunkered down in the crowded living room, with heavy lids, fighting off sleep (East Coast, wasn’t it pushing 11 p.m.?), in the glow of the old black-and-white set, watching something remarkable and discernible being projected through the fuzz and grain. Was it really 50 years ago?

It was. And my, the things we thought, the hopes we hoped. At the time, NR was very pro-Moon (we may still be). Not Sun Myung, but the lunar one. From the August 26, 1969 issue, wondering about NASA’s encores, encouraging them, we had this to say:

Critics of the space program are jumping all over Vice President Agnew and others who have urged a go-ahead for ambitious space ventures in the Seventies and Eighties. The attacks take a familiar line: We cannot afford more space extravaganzas while there are pressing needs to be met here on earth.

But NASA’s plans for the next two decades—contingent, of course, on the necessary funding—are much less extravagant than they are awe-inspiring. They fall, as Aviation Week & Space Technology has pointed out, “into four major categories:

“Earth orbital space stations of large, eighty- to one hundred-man capacity . . . supplied by maneuverable, reusable space shuttles.

“Lunar exploration and establishment of permanent scientific bases on the moon.

“Manned exploration of Mars with a 1981 launch target date for a 24-month mission by two six-man crews in tandem spacecraft using nuclear power. . . .

“Unmanned exploration of the far planets in the solar system. . . .”

Thomas O. Paine, NASA administrator, has assured President Nixon that all these plans are feasible if the government will commit annually 0.5 to 1 per cent of the Gross National Product. This spending rate is no higher than the rate for the Sixties. NASA’s budget reached a record high of 0.9 percent of the GNP in 1966 and is now hovering just below 0.5 per cent.

With the frontier of space and its unlimited potential ahead made suddenly accessible by Apollo 11, it is hard to believe the nation will permit the liberal wailers to force it back into its earth-bound shell.

What aspirations! And what denigrations — from the Left. No, not fans of slipping the surly bonds of Earth. And we gave them what-fer for it in this editorial (titled “Flat-Earth Liberals”) in the July 29 issue (published as the heroic trio were lifting off towards that big rock):

Sometimes you can’t help getting the feeling that the liberals won’t be satisfied unless the American space program ends in disaster. Witness James Wechsler’s bubble-headed column in which he coyly empathizes with the space monkey: “I suppose a genera! lack of imagination about the general space frenzy affects these remarks. Possibly I identify with Bonny because I would be both terrified and baffled to find myself floating in space.” says Wechsler, who reminds us that amidst all this “space frenzy,” “kids are dying in Vietnam.” “Shocking and disgraceful” is how Dr. Spock characterizes the moon shot. And listen to Drew Pearson poor-mouthing Apollo 11 in a characteristically churlish comment: “At Cape Kennedy, the U.S. is about to launch the most carefully rehearsed, most expensive, most unnecessary project of this century by which man will reach a piece of drab, radioactive, lava-like real estate hitherto romantic because of distance—the moon.”

No romance in the moon for Pearson. The whole business, in fact, leads him in the same column to a consideration of his favorite subject—sewage With characteristic Drewpian logic he descends from light to muck, from the moon to the Potomac, in which flow “240 million gallons of excrement.” (Along with numerous old Pearson columns, one might add.) And what does this have to do with the moon shot? Well, it seems FDR had a dream of cleaning up the Potomac, as did JFK, but then Wicked Richard Nixon came along and shut his eyes to the sewers and decided to shoot the moon. Unromantic. For out of such stuff as sewers and sewage treatment plants arc liberal dreams of romance spun.

From sewers Pearson moves to Russia, which country, he tells us has done an exemplary job with its rivers. This no doubt, explains, following the Drewpian logic, why the Russians are still unable to send cosmonauts to the moon—one cannot have clean rivers and moon shots too. One puzzles over just how the Drewps will treat the Luna 15 caper, however, for it tends to emphasize the fact that they ignore. Space shots very definitely relied strong feelings of national pride and competitiveness, and the Luna 15 attempt not only mocks the whole pious ideal of international cooperation but demonstrates conclusively that, the U.S. is beating the pants off the Russians.) And so we arrive at the heart of the Drewpian dilemma. Long fond of thinking of themselves as the banner-bearers of human progress, the liberals find that they must not only ignore realities of national competition for the sake of abstract UN-type pieties, but must also carp peevishly about the most imaginative and progressive human adventure of all time. A final step remains. Drewps Wechsler, Pearson, Spock and Co. will soon get honorary membership in the Flat Earth Society. Meanwhile, writing as our astronauts achieve their successful launch, we wish them a successful and glorious trip, a safe and happy return.

Moon nostalgia over. Now, onward to what pulls and pushes the tides of your curiosity — the plentiful wisdom published by your favorite conservative website. But first . . .

A Little Experiment

Would you follow Yours Truly on Twitter? The scene of the crime is I will not ask for anything again, at least until Christmas.

Here Are a Score and Three More of Moongnificent Articles that Will Rocket Your Intelligence to MOONSA Levels

1. This ain’t your Father’s assimilation: Rich Lowry looks at how Leftist congresswoman Ilhan Omar has become, hatefully, part of the country that saved her. From his new column:

It’s a mistake, though, to think that Omar is anything other than on her way to total assimilation, only on the terms set out by Beto O’Rourke.

American has two assimilation problems. One is immigrants feeling only a tenuous connection to America, and getting isolated in ethnic enclaves. The other is immigrants like Omar — and some of her second-generation colleagues — assimilating into the America of identity politics and grievance.

They have learned to speak not just English, but the language of oppression. They understand our system (at least no less than the average officeholder) but hold it in low regard. They know our history, as taught by an instructor cribbing from Howard Zinn.

They may be citizens, but they are certainly outraged victims.

2. More Lowry: Our Esteemed Editor is ripped over the failure of many to understand the Grandness of the Old Flag. From his column:

Our troops have literally fought for the flag, for its physical advance and preservation. This is the story of color sergeants during the Civil War.

Color sergeants carried the flag —typically, both the U.S. flag and the regimental flag — into battle, and not a weapon. They depended for protection on the color guard, a small contingent of troops dedicated to the task. The flag, held aloft and leading the way, was important as a matter of tactics (to mark the location of the unit in the confusion of battle), of morale (to provide a rallying point for the troops), and of devotion and honor (to lose the flag to the enemy was a deep disgrace).

Needless to say, this was hazardous duty that demanded the utmost bravery and dedication. According to Michael Corcoran in his book on the flag, For Which It Stands, the 24th Michigan Regiment lost nine color bearers on the first day of Gettysburg alone.

3. Victor Davis Hanson looks at the de facto executive officers and major investors in Illegal Immigration Inc. From his piece:

America is increasingly becoming not so much a nonwhite nation as an assimilated, integrated, and intermarried country. Race, skin color, and appearance, if you will, are becoming irrelevant. The construct of “Latino” — Mexican-American? Portuguese? Spanish? Brazilian? — is becoming immaterial as diverse immigrants soon cannot speak Spanish, lose all knowledge of Latin America, and become indistinguishable in America from the descendants of southern Europeans, Armenians, or any other Mediterranean immigrant group.

In other words, a Lopez or Martinez was rapidly becoming as relevant or irrelevant in terms of grievance politics, or perceived class, as a Pelosi, Scalise, De Niro, or Pacino. If Pelosi was named “Ocasio-Cortez” and AOC “Pelosi,” then no one would know, or much care, from their respective superficial appearance, who was of Puerto Rican background and who of Italian ancestry.

Such a melting-pot future terrifies the ethnic activists in politics, academia, and the media who count on replenishing the numbers of unassimilated “Latinos,” in order to announce themselves the champions of collective grievance and disparity and thereby find careerist advantage. When 1 million of some of the most impoverished people on the planet arrive without legality, a high-school diploma, capital, or English, then they are likely to remain poor for a generation. And their poverty then offers supposed proof that America is a nativist or racist society for allowing such asymmetry to occur — a social-justice crime remedied best the by Latino caucus, the Chicano-studies department, the La Raza lawyers association, or the former National Council of La Raza. Yet, curb illegal immigration, and the entire Latino race industry goes the way of the Greek-, Armenian-, or Portuguese-American communities that have all found parity once massive immigration of their impoverished countrymen ceased and the formidable powers of the melting pot were uninterrupted.

4. Roger Scruton was smeared. The smear — instigated by The New Statesman’s George Eaton — was exposed. But the media crowd, as it is wont to do, has moved on, uninterested in repairing a reputation attacked. Kyle Smith looks for the outrage, and sees none. From his commentary:

Yet Scruton has not been made whole. He has not been restored to his post, or a similar one, though the likely next prime minister, Boris Johnson, supports the idea. Eaton remains employed by The New Statesman, albeit with the title “assistant editor” rather than “deputy editor.” A previous statement by Eaton in which he said he stood by the “accuracy” of his original story has disappeared from The New Statesman’s website.

Not until a week after The New Statesman’s apology did the government apologize, in dismal fashion and in the passive voice. Housing, Communities, and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire — the man who fired Scruton — finally said on July 15, “I regret that the decision to remove you from your leadership role within the commission [the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission] was taken in the way that it was.” Mistakes were made. Brokenshire sacked Scruton the same day the original interview was published. Why so slow to acknowledge error? It has been crystal clear since Murray’s April 25 report that Scruton was wronged and should not have lost his government post, much less suffered such a despicable public assault on his good name.

5. Chinese-Americans, fed up with being on the short end of affirmative action and other lefty racist antics, are starting to emerge as a political force, Rong Xiaoqing explains. From the piece:

With this backdrop in place, the emergence of Chinese Trump supporters in 2016 caught many people off guard. David Wang, an independent investor in Los Angeles, founded Chinese Americans for Trump (CAFT) on WeChat during the last election season. He told me it evolved from a three-member chat group that he formed in the summer of 2015 to an 8,000-member network, spread across all states but Hawaii and Alaska one year later.

CAFT members were visible in campaign rallies, they posted and reposted pro-Trump articles on WeChat, and they showed off their support for him with flamboyant displays. In October 2016, Chinese Trump supporters across the country donated money to put on pro-Trump air shows. Small planes pulled banners bearing the words “Chinese Americans for Trump” then hovered for hours, creating a spectacle that even media in mainland China vied to cover.

But, this kind of zeal did not appear out of thin air — the Chinese community had been becoming more vocal for a few years.

Some say a key moment came in 2013 when comedian Jimmy Kimmel aired a segment on his tongue-in-cheek late night show on ABC, in which he seemed amused by a six-year-old boy’s proposal to solve the problem of America’s skyrocketing national debt owed to China. “Kill everyone in China,” the boy said. The segment prompted tens of thousands of Chinese-Americans to protest in more than 20 American cities, the largest such national protest of Chinese-Americans in anyone’s memory. Kimmel apologized.

6. Oren Cass proposes that employers be paid to train workers. From his essay:

The centrality of employers to effective job training is now understood across the political spectrum. Answering the question “Why Is the U.S. So Bad at Worker Retraining?,” The Atlantic summarized the view of scholars that federal programs have been “too divorced from employers’ needs, too unrelated to workers’ interests, too light-touch, and too limited in their reach, among other flaws.” According to a bipartisan group convened by Opportunity America, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Brookings Institution, “Employers, educators, scholars and policymakers agree: there can be no effective career education without employers. . . . That’s the only way to ensure that students are learning skills in demand in today’s job market.”

But employers’ interests are not necessarily aligned behind the task. Firms face a serious problem in attempting to capture a return on their investments in training because, insofar as such training increases the productivity of their workers, those workers can command a higher wage, whether within the firm or by leaving for a competitor. Economists have proposed various ways to square this circle; for instance, if firms invest in the “specific” human capital of workers — skills that are valuable only within the particular firm — then the worker can’t command a higher wage in the market and the employer can capture the training’s value. Or, if workers are more loyal to a firm that invests in them, good training could boost retention even when the workers might be able to obtain a higher wage by leaving.

7. Senator Josh Hawley has introduced new legislation that aims to put a big chunk of the student-debt onus on higher-ed institutions. Robert VerBruggen has some thoughts about the principles and practicality of the ideas. From his piece:

His second bill requires “colleges and universities to pay off 50 percent of the balance of student loans accrued while attending their institution for students who default, and forbids them from increasing the cost of attendance to offset their liability.”

The idea of a “money-back guarantee” for college isn’t crazy; it forces schools to take responsibility for their students’ outcomes, rather than accepting students who don’t have the skills to graduate, collecting tuition for a few years, and then sending the kids along poorer, indebted, and lacking a credential.

But I’m not sold on the idea of forbidding colleges “from increasing the cost of attendance to offset their liability.” I’m not sure it’s possible to enforce such a rule — and while higher ed in general is inefficient, I’m not sure it’s possible for every college to shoulder a new liability without raising its prices at all. Further, if tuition hikes resulted from this legislation, they would basically “price in” half the school’s default risk, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

8. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the kahuna of Planned Parenthood, America’s Abbatoirs ‘R’ Us, Lena Wen, whose presidency was . . . aborted . . . due to her insufficient trans-ling wokeness, as Madeleine Kearns explains. Intersectionality is a mischievous thing. From her piece:

Wen is also right to be skeptical of incorporating gender ideology into Planned Parenthood’s mission. According to its own slogans, Planned Parenthood is America’s number one provider of “women’s healthcare,” which means it really ought to be able to define and identify the category of women.

Whatever else one may think of her, Wen is a medical doctor with a scientific approach. But gender ideology, which is profoundly anti-scientific, proclaims that anyone who identifies as a woman is a woman. The comedian Steven Crowder, of YouTube notoriety, recently tested this out. “We wanted to see just how all-in they are,” Crowder said.

Posing as a transgender woman called Stephanie, Crowder purchases Plan B at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Given that Crowder has not undergone any surgeries for this role, he is quite clearly a man in a wig. But the nurse handed it over no problem. For a man, Plan B is not only unnecessary but potentially dangerous, causing infertility, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction.

RELATED: Alexandra DeSanctis reports on the organization’s internal roilings and upheavals. Read it here.

9. Nancy Pelosi’s new in-caucus AOC & Co. foes having sparked a presidential Tweet-storm while a “national conservatism” conference was afoot in D.C. has Michael Brendan Dougherty pondering the need for, and difficulties facing, an emerging national conservatism movement. From his piece:

This controversy happens as a number of intellectuals, journalists, and activists are gathering in Washington to discuss and elaborate on the rise of “national conservatism.” And I can’t help but think we need it more than ever.

My contention is that nationalist politics will be an eruptive force in the life of Western democracies. These movements and politics emerge when the normal sense of national loyalty — the peace that exists between neighbors living under a shared law in a shared territory — becomes disturbed or agitated. War or irredentist claims can bring out extreme forms of nationalism. We have “national conservatism” because the irritants are serious, but not so extreme. America has undergone or is undergoing several trends that bring nationalist passions to the surface of politics: rapid urbanization, mass immigration, and some social dislocation that is related to economic globalization.

The projects that nationalism would take on in this environment might include promoting respect for America’s endangered traditions, providing a vision for an American nation that includes and assimilates the last great wave of immigration, a vision that restores democratic accountability in politics on issues of trade and citizenship. That is, a conservative nationalism would seek to help all Americans, of new and old stock, to feel at home in their country and with each other.

10. Senator Lamar Alexander is taking on surprise medical billing, which hits households for one out of every five in-network emergency-room visits. Small bore but targetable and fixable, yes? From his piece:

Insurance companies already negotiate with doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers to establish in-network, market-based rates. Under the bill, providers who don’t join insurance networks would be paid the median, or middle, amount set in each local market. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this approach would save taxpayers $25 billion over the next ten years. . . .

I believe the Senate’s solution, which protects patients and empowers local markets to determine the price of health care, is the best way forward.

11. If you thought either The Dance of the Cukoos or Puffin’ Billy is the greatest song ever written, Jay Nordlinger would disagree. He has other ideas.

12. Cash is proving hard to come by for the Dems’ second-tier prexy wannabes. Jim Geraghty looks at the second-quarter campaign funding reports, and finds some hopefuls that have hope, and little more in the tin cup. From his analysis:

Until the formal end of their campaigns, I’ll have a lot of fun mocking this small army of candidates known as The Asterisks. But for now, let’s pause and have a few molecules of sympathy for those “rising star” politicians who are painfully learning that their stars will rise no further. You work hard, you have success at the state level, you think you have impressive accomplishments, you think you’re charismatic and like-able, and then one morning you wake up to find you’ve got less support in New Hampshire than the Hollywood New Age guru. Politics is rough, man.

John Hickenlooper had the kind of resume that usually looks good: two-term mayor, two-term governor of what was, not long ago, a hard-fought purple state. He’s got a quirky sense of humor, which you would think would be worth something, but nope. He can’t break past one percent anywhere.

As far back as 2017, publications like Vogue gave Kirsten Gillibrand the glossy “she could be the next president” treatment. She had replaced Hillary Clinton in the Senate, cosponsored a slew of bills, voted against every Trump nominee. Her fans raved about her retail politicking skills, but apparently they’re worthless. She’s visited New Hampshire 55 times! Five of the last six polls in that state have her at one percent.

13. Kevin Williamson was in Hong Kong, watching the protests against Peking’s power grab, watching the US formally defer to the ChiComs. From the beginning of his report:

Most Americans do not know the name Carrie Lam, chief executive of the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” but her constituents here in this vivacious, sprawling city know the name of the American chief executive, and they pay close attention to his words — closer attention than he does, possibly.

Hong Kong boasts the freest economy in the world, with a Heritage Economic Freedom score of 90.2 and a first-place ranking for 24 years running. (The United States is foundering down in twelfth place with a score of 76.8.) Its 7.4 million residents conduct their daily affairs with a fascinating combination of Chinese prolificity and Swiss efficiency. In real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, its economy today is 16 times what it was 40 years ago, having grown at more than twice the U.S. rate in those years. It has low taxes and light regulation by global standards, but its freewheeling capitalism coincides with an urban public life that is remarkably orderly by comparison with American cities. (Chicago has one-third Hong Kong’s population and more than 30 times as many murders.) Hong Kong is, in short, a miracle of human ingenuity.

REMINDER: Do order Kevin’s out-next-week book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics.

14. Big families — and I do mean biggg — are the subject of Sarah Schutte’s interview with Rachel Campos-Duffy, wife of a Congressman, yes, but mother of nine kids. From the most-interesting Q & A:

SS: You’ve talked a little bit about how faith has played into your marriage — I think you and your husband have been married for 20 years now? How do you maintain your marriage in the middle of busy schedules?

RCD: So there’s ritual, right? There’s a lot of ritual and tradition around being Catholic. There are weekly rituals: You go to Mass, you pray at night, you pray around the dinner table. We do have very busy schedules, and it’s tough with Sean’s schedule in particular, but when we’re all together, that’s just part of who we are. It’s not even something we really think much about, it’s just part of what we do. I’m so happy I married a fellow Catholic because I think that marriage is tough enough — that’s one area that’s just not something we argue about. There’s no contention about it because we’re both on the same page.

My motto as a parent has always been that my job isn’t to get you into Harvard, it’s to get you into Heaven. And I think a lot of parenting can be simplified by following that motto. My daughter goes to a very liberal university, and she said that she was sitting around at night in her dorm with a bunch of other college kids, and somebody brought up the question, “Would you rather your kid be smart or kind?” And she was the only one in the group who said she would prefer to have a kind child. I thought it was a really sad commentary on our culture. But I do think that’s kind of interesting. What do you value? What’s the priority?

Every kid is going to be his or her own individual, they all have their own style of doing things, but if being a good person, being kind, being considerate of others is your priority — versus all the other things that the world is telling us that we have to do as parents in terms of extracurriculars, and showing up to this, and going to this game, or making sure they have this material object — especially for a busy mom with a lot of kids, I think that simplifying is better. At least that’s what’s worked for me.

15. More interviews: Madeleine Kearns goes Q & A with Professor Allan Josephson, who lost his job at the University of Kentucky because he refused to preach from the Gospel of Transgenderism. From their discussion:

MK: You mentioned earlier about the politicization of this particular field of medicine more generally and gave the example of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which last year issued a widely criticized policy statement endorsing “gender affirmation” [psychological, medical, and surgical sex-change treatments for minors]. You said something very interesting: that for people who aren’t familiar with this process, this could seem like there’s a medical consensus, when actually, it is a very small number of people driving this change.

AJ: It’s a political process: correct. And the way committees are formed, various people who have various interests get on them. They do intense work, and sometimes very good work, but it often doesn’t meet the scrutiny of a scientific statement. An organization affirming a position is not necessarily science, but it is a group of people agreeing to say something.

16. Armond White is liking Barbarians. From the beginning of his review:

Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude (Aferim! and Scarred Hearts) always deals with the artist’s responsibility to portray history and morality. The lead character of his latest film is a female stage director, Mariana Marin (Ioana Iacob), tasked with mounting the reenactment of a historical event that includes disgraced national figures such as Deputy Prime Minister Mihai Antonescu (1904–1946), a dictator whose 1941 speech gives this new film the most startling title of the year: “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians.”

Jude is in super-allegorical mode. Barbarians concerns theater and the communal basis of art, but it is really about the pressure Jude feels in his obligation as a filmmaker, an art intellectual concerned about the past, and a citizen whose work addresses the public today. Exploring political and artistic folly means that Barbarians is also a comedy. (The badass title reproves egotistic boasting about “the right side of history.”) It confronts and partakes of arrogant political will — no other movie this year has a more daring subject.

17. John Hirschauer profiles the pigmentary privileged politics of Beto O’Rourke, hoisted on a multicultural petard. From his piece:

The myth of Robert-as-Beto is in its death throes, but it remained alive in O’Rourke’s home state in the not-too-distant past. Texas-based radio host Chris Salcedo told InsideSources in March that he would “still hear from Latinos who think that Beto’s Hispanic.” Political columnist Ruben Navarette told them the same: “Long before he entered the race against Ted Cruz, I was talking to a Texas lawmaker who was telling me all about Beto O’Rourke, and I said ‘Oh, he’s Latino, right?’ And he said ‘No, no, no — His real name is Robert Francis!’ And I said ‘Huh?’”

The genius of Pat’s appropriative moniker is that Robert Francis would inevitably become Beto in some essential way; even if he wasn’t Hispanic himself, the mere fact that he spoke extemporaneous Spanish and represented a majority-Hispanic area would, through a tenuous kind of osmosis, grant him minority status with none of the commensurate difficulty that entails. Stephen A. Nuño all but said so in his 2013 NBC op-ed “Why a non-Latino should be in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus;” in addition to his fluency in Spanish and the makeup of his district, Nuño reasoned, “O’Rourke is decidedly progressive on social issues and has been a vocal proponent of comprehensive immigration reform.”

RECOMMENDATION: Read John’s piece while listening to Brenda Lee sing I’m Sorry.

18. Kyle praises Seinfeld on the show’s 30th anniversary. From his essay:

Seinfeld, which debuted 30 years ago this month on NBC under the title The Seinfeld Chronicles and today streams on Hulu, blew up the sitcom by declining to pander to the supposed expectations of an audience studio execs firmly believed was barely paying attention and under no circumstances wanted to think. By the time the show really started to hum in its third season (1991–92) — the first time it dazzled me was with an out-of-nowhere parody of the conspiracy theory at the heart of Oliver Stone’s JFK, which was then in theaters — you could tell the writers were doing what they thought was funny, not serving up slop for the masses. If non–New Yorkers didn’t get it, Seinfeld didn’t care. If dumb people didn’t get it, Seinfeld didn’t care. Everyone I knew in New York was watching it in 1992 and thinking, “At last, a show set in New York that’s actually about us! They’ll never get this in the heartland.” The following season it was the third most-watched show on TV, and for the rest of its run it never finished a year below second. Along with Sex and the City, which launched in 1998, it changed the one-word perception of New York City from “dangerous” to “fun.”

If the show centered on characters, its chief subject was mores, or etiquette. Etiquette is a Sierra Nevada of comedy gold, and nobody else had staked much of a claim on it. Should a note making reference to the arrival of a baby employ an exclamation point? What is the minimum distance someone should maintain while engaging in conversation? Is it okay to sleep with the cleaning lady at work? Should you spare a square for your desperate neighbor in the adjoining bathroom stall? Can you re-gift a present? Seinfeldian misunderstandings are grounded in reality, not the contrived dumb-guy misconstructions of Friends’ Joey Tribbiani.

In an exchange related almost verbatim in episode ten of season five, one Seinfeld writer asked a Chinese postman if he knew where a nearby Chinese restaurant was, and the postman took this as a racial inference. But the writer didn’t think Chinese people knew where all the Chinese restaurants are, he thought letter-carriers knew. Such is the fractious nature of this city and its inexhaustible pool of umbrage. Seinfeld captured it beautifully, in the Talmudic spirit of tearing a situation apart from every angle, with such concision that it popularized lots of neologisms and phrases for its various embarrassments and predicaments. Close-talker! Double-dipper! Shrinkage!

19. Jimmy Quinn post-games this past week’s National Conservatism conference. From his report:

What is National Conservatism? For three days, starting on Sunday and continuing through Tuesday, an impressive group of academics, journalists, and political figures from across the American Right gathered in the ballrooms of a D.C. Ritz-Carlton to ponder that question. They aim to establish institutions guided by the sentiments that led to Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Yoram Hazony, a political philosopher who published a book called The Virtue of Nationalism last year and organized the conference, described the three-day event as “the coming together of diverse bands of conservatives.” Talks that toggled between anti-libertarians and Calvin Coolidge scholars, isolationists and defense hawks, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and long-time social conservatives put that diversity on full display.

Despite this plurality of views, or maybe because of it, a common understanding of conservative nationalism took shape at the conference: The nation is the most logical vessel for political organization known to man, and supranational entities threaten the social attachments that allow for human flourishing. Those attachments have been frayed by decades of unfettered capitalism and inattention to traditional social structures, like the family and organized religion.

Speaker after speaker called for stronger government intervention in the economy, almost uniformly rejecting libertarian principles. Tucker Carlson, one of the keynote presenters, received a warm reception for his theory of the case, evidently shared by the conference hall. “The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but it comes from the private sector,” the Fox News host said. Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) entranced the crowd with bromides against a “cosmopolitan consensus” boosted by woke progressives and conservatives with too much faith in markets.

20. Jonathan Tobin says The Donald should relish a challenge from former conservative congressman Mark Sanford, better known to some as a faux Appalachian hiker. From the column:

The conceit of his candidacy is that Sanford’s conservative credentials and favorite-son status in South Carolina could make the contest in that crucial early primary state competitive. But the logic behind this strategy is faulty.

It’s not just that an incumbent congressman who couldn’t convince fellow Republicans in his home district to vote for him is ill-suited to persuade them to topple an incumbent president. (A similar argument applies to Beto O’Rourke.) The president is enormously popular in South Carolina and won that state’s primary in 2016 by a large plurality in a multi-candidate race. South Carolina isn’t unique in terms of Trump’s popularity among GOP voters, which topped 90 percent nationwide in late June, and there’s little reason to believe that his latest controversies have done anything to change that.

Trump’s level of support within his party far exceeds that of any of the incumbent presidents who were hurt by primary challenges. And it’s why, far from hurting Trump, a serious effort by Sanford, Weld, or any other Never Trump fantasy-league candidate might actually help the president.

Without any sort of primary challenge to Trump, the Democrats will dominate the news in the first half of 2020. A contest in Weld’s New Hampshire or in Sanford’s South Carolina would allow the president to intrude into news cycles that would otherwise be about Democrats trashing him.

21. Jim Geraghty reports on the urban fact of big cities without kiddies. From the piece:

Ask a parent what kind of community they want, and they’ll probably start with three traits: to be able to afford to live there, to be safe, and for the community to have good schools.

All of those hip coffeeshops, gluten-free bakeries, and bike paths are nice to have in a city, but they’re catering to the tastes and disposable income of single people and DINKS – “double-income, no-kids” couples. Parents may like the art galleries, hip restaurants, and all of that, but they need good public schools. They also suddenly have new expenses like a crib and diapers and baby clothes and baby food, so all of a sudden, they examine the cost of living in their neighborhood much closer. They probably would prefer an extra bedroom to turn into a nursery. And as the kids get bigger, the idea of having a front yard or backyard or both starts to look really appealing. Young parents might want to stay in a city, but the cities are unaffordable. . . and some cities don’t seem all that sad to see parents go.

It’s not that there are no good public schools in America’s big cities. It’s just that you’re less certain to get a good elementary school, a good middle school, and a good high school based upon where you live. Those of us who have house-shopped in northern Virginia know that real estate prices are often directly connected to which side of the school district lines it is on. If you find a home that has good schools for your child from ages 5 to 18, you’ve hit the lottery. . . or you may need to hit the lottery to live there.

22. David French scores the BDS crowd for its illegal, discriminatory ways. From his analysis:

The fundamental truth about BDS is that while not all of its supporters are anti-Semites, the movement itself is anti-Semitic in its intent and effect. Many of its most prominent supporters are crystal clear about their purpose. The Jewish Virtual Library has collected some of the more egregious quotes for posterity:

“BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.”

“BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.”

“Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel. . . . That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

23. Armond wants to dethrone The Lion King, which he says is deceptive, PC-ridden, and a pretender to the original. From the beginning of his review:

What the 1994 cartoon treated as cute satire — in the song “Hakuna Matata” sung by warthog Pumbaa and meerkat Timon — rings hollow in this new version where those creatures possess ugliness rather than charm and promote special-group interest. None of this can be defended as a trendy political allegory as some reviewers contend. Besides, the underlying praise of monarchy is always a problem for fashionable, egalitarian, supposedly woke Afrocentricity.

Disney’s blatant cultural agenda explains the disaster of The Lion King. We can clarify the film’s deception by highlighting its production-purchase cycle and recognizing the unmistakable — not coincidental — political objectives of the filmmakers. This is how it works. It’s a Dishonor Roll:

Jon Favreau (Director): After turning Marvel’s Iron Man to visual dung, he is now Disney’s fake-reality hack and is key to understanding how this digitally rejiggered Lion King (like Favreau’s Jungle Book) continues the con job of Marvel’s Black Panther. Favreau’s unnamed African veldt might as well be New Wakanda.

Donald Glover (Simba): His dubious street cred as rapper Childish Gambino distorts the film’s bildungsroman concept, as he sells a CGI version of his ghetto-pathology TV series Atlanta.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports on Sweden’s descent into criminal violence, and, to some, war. From her piece:

On July 1, National Police Chief Anders Thornberg said that the situation is “extraordinarily serious”. He claimed, however, that the police have not lost control of the gangs and that the main task is to stop the growth in the number of young criminals. “For every young man who gets shot, there are 10-15 new ones ready to step in,” he said. Only a few days later, however, he added that Swedes will have to get used to the shootings for the foreseeable future:

“We think this [the shootings and the extreme violence] might continue for five to ten years in the particularly vulnerable areas,” Thornberg said. “It is also about drugs. Drugs are established in society, and ordinary people buy them. There is a market that the gangs will continue to fight over.”

The leader of the opposition party Moderaterna, Ulf Kristersson, called the situation, “extreme for a country that is not at war.”

2. At The American Mind, Daniel Mahoney responds to Yoram Hazony’s essay, “Has Conservative Rationalism Failed?” It is a largely supportive take, but addresses a reliance on a “narrow, abstract reason.” From the commentary:

Hazony also makes many important and necessary distinctions. For instance, liberty under God and the law, with its accompanying recognition that “all men are in the image of God,” by no means entails a false equivalence of ways of life. The dissolute and the dishonorable cannot claim that their ways of life are just as worthy of recognition and respect as those who honor the Ten Commandments or the natural moral law. Hazony rightly calls for the restoration of personal and political honor where honorable self-regard informs a freedom worthy of the name. Without honor, moral conscience (not to be confused with a poisonous subjectivism), self-respect, and self-limitation, democracy withers and inevitably gives way to the dictatorships of relativism and political correctness that we see all around us. This is even more insidious than the “soft” or “mild” despotism that Alexis de Tocqueville evoked (and feared) at the end of Volume II of Democracy in America. It is a democracy that is no longer “God-fearing.” It is also one that recklessly undermines all the inherited and precious moral contents of life. There is nothing “liberal” or “conservative,” or decent and choice-worthy, about a political and social order that endlessly repudiates sound tradition and our civilized moral inheritance.

Hazony is a sure guide on these themes. And how helpful for him to remind us that even the politically liberal Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw that the stakes of the emerging world conflict in 1939 had as much to do with the survival of religion and moral decency as with human liberty. All three were and are beholden to rich and civilizing traditions, and not just to the abstractions of “human rights” or a liberalism shorn of its historical and moral context and specificity. Churchill and de Gaulle also invoked the survival of Western and Christian civilization in their great wartime addresses (see, for example, the peroration of Churchill’s great “Finest Hour“ speech of June 18, 1940). One could not combat the vicious nihilism of the totalitarians of the Left and Right without appealing to the rich and capacious traditions of a Western civilization rooted in reason and revelation, sound tradition, and a hearty and decent patriotism.

3. More response to Harzony in The American Mind: Charles Kesler says conservative rationalism is not “Enlightenment” rationalism. From his essay:

Yet the target of Hazony’s critique is not really Enlightenment rationalism, it is “conservative rationalism,” the futile, foolish, and self-defeating efforts by Catholic natural law thinkers and Straussian scholars, among others, to appeal to “universal reason” themselves and for conservative purposes. In general, he writes, “conservative rationalism has failed,” both by not making things better and indeed by making them worse. By “endorsing the methods and assumptions of Enlightenment rationalism, conservative rationalism has contributed something to the calamity,” leaving once-healthy traditions “largely without defenders.”  These conservative theorists didn’t see that any appeal to “universal reason” would play into the Enlightenment’s hands. But why? Is there no other kind of reason besides universal or Enlightenment reason? Hazony does not quite say.

His long quotation from John Selden, the 17thcentury English jurist and expert on the Hebrew scriptures and polity, does not prove what he means it to prove. Selden is not criticizing “Enlightenment rationalist claims,” he is objecting to the ancient philosophers’ varying opinions on the nature of good and evil, just and unjust. This variety was well known to the ancients, and formed the subject of several of Cicero’s dialogues. Variety is not chaos, however, and Selden exaggerates the extent of these philosophical disagreements. Even the teachers and schools of thought that denied any form of natural justice or right (Carneades being a prime example) did not deny the naturalness, and reasonableness, of other virtues like courage, moderation, and, above all, wisdom. But again, it is the faculty of reason itself, taken alone, not “Enlightenment rationalism,” that the Englishman criticizes.

4. At The College Fix, Jessica Resuta reports on lefty academics’ hostility to math because . . . racist! Maybe it’s got something to do with the chalk being white? Not sure. From the beginning of her story:

“Math equity” doesn’t mean 1 + 1 = 2.

The term refers to the growing insistence among educators that teaching math in the classroom comes with some inherently biased methodology that must be addressed.

Proponents of “math equity” also stress the importance of social justice issues such as race, diversity and gender in math education — a trend that’s catching on.

More professors and educators are tweeting under the hashtag #MathEquity to share strategies on the topic, and webinars and other pedagogical sessions on it abound.

“Equity-based mathematics teaching requires more than implementing new curriculum or using specific practices because it involves taking a stand for what is right,” the website for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics states.

“It requires mathematics teachers to reflect on their own identity, positions, and beliefs in regards to racist and sorting-based mechanisms. It involves noticing students, learning about the worlds they live in, and building mathematics that comes from these worlds. And finally, it involves engaging other educators in partnerships to build equity-oriented communities.”

5. You’re more apt to commit suicide if you’re unchurched — so informs new studies, and so reports our former NR colleague, Ericka Andersen, in the Wall Street Journal. On a positive note, Ericka writes, “startup churches” are providing an alternative in those American areas where there is a real suicide epidemic. From her piece:

Church attendance rates have fallen considerably in recent decades. That’s partly the fault of the faithful. Religious leaders have sometimes alienated those who might be receptive to their message, barking from the pulpit without humility, grace or love. For some prospective parishioners, church elicits thoughts of judgment and doom.

“Startup churches,” also known as “church plants,” are turning this narrative on its head. Such bodies are usually made up of only a few dozen attendees. They meet in rubbery middle-school gyms or local businesses after hours. They’re planted strategically by committed faith leaders in vulnerable geographic and demographic populations. Think of places where suicide rates may be higher than average—rural, poverty-stricken and isolated communities.

Some 42% or more of church-plant attendees have not been to church in many years, or ever before, according to a 2015 study by Lifeway Research. It’s not that startup churches are necessarily more effective at helping attendees than established mainline Protestant or Catholic congregations. Rather, these new churches are more effective at simply getting more vulnerable people through the door.

6. At The Daily Signal, the great Lee Edwards — a historian of communism — provides a wonderful rundown of NR’s recent special “Against Socialism” issue. From his summary:

National Review’s analysts believe that such dreams will inevitably become nightmares as they have in the 40 some nations that suffered under socialism.

The record of failure without exception is clear. It remains for conservatives to expose the impossible promises of the socialists, drawing on the conclusions of National Review’s experts:

Socialism is not compatible with the Constitution. . . .

Socialism is very good at generating vast shortages of the essential things in life.

Socialism can never know enough to plan all our lives every day.

Socialism tries to make all of us equal to one another.

Socialism is very good at promising all the benefits we’ll never see.

Socialism in Great Britain had one outstanding success—Margaret Thatcher.

Socialism was responsible for making Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union the most polluted and degraded places on earth.

Socialized medicine as practiced in Great Britain and Canada is bad for people’s health.

American socialism is on the rise because of widespread social and cultural poverty in America.

What is to be done? It rests with you and me. We must get to work exposing socialism for the fraud and failure it is and taking back our culture and our country.

EVEN MORE MAHONEY BONUS. The Hungarian Review published Dan’s excellent remembrance of Cardinal József Mindszenty, the great Hungarian churchman who was imprisoned by both the Nazis and Soviets (the latter tortured him) and who served as a symbol for anti-Communists in conservatism’s early years. Now advancing in the process for becoming a Catholic saint, the renewed attention results in reflections on what he meant for his native country, and for international relations. From the piece:

Even before the detestable Mátyás Rákosi and the Hungarian Communists came into uncontested power in Hungary in 1948, subjugating the centrist Smallholders’ Party once and for all, Mindszenty had fully earned his anti-totalitarian credentials. As the new Archbishop of Esztergom, the Prince Primate of Hungary (to use a traditional title he insisted on preserving), he had no illusions about either Bolshevism, as he freely called it, or Nazism. As he put it so well in his Memoirs: “Both Nazism and Bolshevism insisted that they had to penetrate our country in order to replace a faulty past by a happy new world. The Communists, in keeping with their doctrine, announced that the past had to be uncompromisingly liquidated.” Against such insane Promethean impatience and such full-fledged totalitarian mendacity, Mindszenty told the Hungarian people that he would fearlessly defend “eternal truths […] the sanctified traditions of our people”. Mindszenty, who thought of himself as a historian of sorts, had closely studied the persecution of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches in the Soviet Union, as Document 68 in his Memoirs (“Communism and the Russian Orthodox Church”) attests. As the Cardinal wrote in that 1948 document, “all the Church’s efforts at peaceful coexistence and humiliating cooperation [with the Bolshevik state] were in vain. A kind of inner compulsion, something akin to fear of the spirit and the soul, drives it to struggle against religion.”


Earlier this week, Twitter lit up, as it does, with news that the great Bob Gibson has pancreatic cancer. This lousy news comes on the heels of the death of Jim Bouton, another hard-throwing righthander. Both men starred in the dramatic 1964 World Series: both won two games, but Gibson took MVP honors courtesy of his complete-game triumph in the deciding Game Seven. Three years later, he won the same award with an epic three-victory performance over the Red Sox, again prevailing in the deciding Seventh Game.

A year later, now facing the Tigers, it almost happened again. Alas, in the seventh inning of that World Series final game, with two outs in a scoreless duel against eventual MVP Mickey Lolich (who took his turn with an epic post-season performance, beating the Cardinals three times and even clubbing the only home run of his 16-year career), Curt Flood misjudged a fly ball, leading to a two-run triple by Jim Northrup and an eventual 4–1 Detroit victory.

But what a complete career, before and during October. Bob Gibson was a true warrior — he once pitched with a broken leg! — who won 20 or more games five times, won 19 games twice, had over 3,000 career strikeouts, 255 complete games, and 56 shutouts. And his 1.12 ERA in 1968 — Damn! He also smacked 24 home runs and hit .206 for his career — not too shabby. In a pitcher’s era, he was, along with Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal, the best. We wish for him God’s mercy as he deals with this latest test.

A Dios

This missive is filed from Las Vegas, where the Weekend Jolt author is attending the amazing Freedom Fest conference, here waving the NR flag. Some people salute. On East Coast time, a descent into the hotel lobby at 4:00 AM finds lots of people awake, doing the kinds of things, Yours Truly (never been here before) assumes, that are only doable here. At 4:00 AM. Returning to the room to pound out this missive, the tomfoolery gets sidetracked because of an email from a dear NR pal who is enduring cancer, à la Gibson, likely unbeatable. Please, if you can, offer a prayer for him, for his comfort. It will not be without purpose or consequence.

God bless You and Yours and the Brave Who Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth,

Jack Fowler

Who can be reached at, no matter if the tide is coming in or going out.

National Review

Mob Story

Dear Weekend Joltarian,

The mob always wants its Barabbas, its burned books and broken windows, its pound of flesh, its deaf justice that stretches from the Praetorium to Ox Bow, from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room to . . . Twitter. Our colleague Kevin Williamson was the plaything of a mob, as you might recall, and his experience, and that of others (both people and events) has informed him and his forthcoming (July 23rd) new book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, which you can and should pre-order here, from Amazon.

More on his book below.

We begin this missive also by recommending attention to a particular piece, by an early NR Washington editor, Neal B. Freeman, who remains a most astute political observer. There at the founding, often at the right hand of Bill Buckley, he has seen it all, and now finds we conservatives are reliving it all. Following the current state of affairs — which I will let Neal explain — there may not be a return to anything that smacks of the Good Old Days, of movement cohesiveness and collegiality, of advancement. And there are harsh verdicts as to just what is the state of this movement. Here’s a slice from his commentary:

Buckley had earned that contempt. When he announced his challenge to the established order, the incumbent powers did not say, “Oh, you’re the new guy and you want some of our market share and some of our media attention and some of our grant revenue? Well, why don’t we all just scoot over and make a place at the table for you?” That’s not the way it happened. That’s not the way it ever happens. The new guy must make his own place at the table. There can be some pushing and shoving. Elbows can fly. Lawsuits can fly. As John Quincy Adams famously recalled, he had become a warrior so that his grandson might become a poet. Buckley’s remarkable achievement was that, over the span of a single lifetime, he had evolved from a young warrior to an old poet. We remember the poet. Who could forget? But we celebrate the warrior.

My sense of the current moment is that, once again, our cause needs warriors even more than poets. The long run of Buckley conservatism — from the bang of Goldwater’s nomination to the whimper of Romney’s — is now over. The cycle begins again. And even poets must take up the sword.

Doubtless, there are more than a few readers of this page who in 2016 ranked Donald Trump as their 17th-favorite candidate for the GOP nomination. Rarely have so many people gotten so lucky. Trump’s performance on the big issues — the issues of peace, justice, and the American way — has been astonishingly strong. He has, as of this writing, held firm in his support for the right to life, in his pledge to nominate conservative judges, in his aversion to discretionary wars, and in his commitment to lower taxes and looser regulations. It’s all good.

Melancholy: They are not long, the days of wine and roses. Anyway, please read the entire piece. Be forewarned: The article is no in toto POTUS homage. If it were, I don’t see how this line — If we conservatives thus find ourselves passengers on a runaway Trump bus, and I think we do, and if we are political hostages to a new party orthodoxy, and I think we are, then what is to be done? — came off Neal’s typewriter.

Now, there is so very much more which follows. This may be the longest Jolt in history. For those who can’t get enough of this weekend missive, you may find yourself quite challenged. On the bright side, there are worse things than saying I can’t eat another bite.

Update: Our Petition to Have SCOTUS Hear Mann v. National Review

Our petition for a writ of certiorari has been filed and has resulted in a number of amicus briefs supporting the petition, including one from 21 Senators, and another from former U.S. attorneys general. Find our update, and links to these briefs, here.

If You Like Having Your Breath Taken Away, These Links to 20 Amazing NRO Pieces Are Sure-Fire Ways to Achieve That

1. Sometimes reliable election indicators are right under your nose. David Bahnsen overlays stock-market performance with presidential fates, and finds that a Wall Street on the rise presages four more years for Donald Trump. From his take:

If Trump were a more “normal” president, his reelection chances would likely hinge on his record. The strength of the economy on his watch, the quality of the judges he’s placed on the bench, and the campaign promises he’s kept (withdrawing from the Paris Accord and the Iran deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem) would all be enough to see him reelected. But Trump is not a normal president. His erratic behavior and temperament are at the heart of a persona that turns off significant numbers of voters in key demographics. So 2020 will pit his policy achievements vs. his persona. Therein will lie the rub.

Or that’s one way of looking at it, anyway. Here’s another: In the last 100 years, the stock market has actually proven a rather pristine indicator of an incumbent candidate’s or party’s chances of reelection.

Let’s start with one indisputable fact: Those who dismiss the stock market’s health as a mere indicator of “how the 1 percent are doing” only do so when the other party is enjoying a strong stock market or their party is suffering through a bad one. Those now arguing that Trump shouldn’t get credit for the strength of the market on his watch are the exact same people who credited President Obama for the market’s recovery on his watch and ridiculed President George W. Bush for the market’s decline on his. They should be ignored, and the historical evidence should be heeded.

2. Proving that the word “conservative” is rather elastic, the wanna-be-tree-huggers behind the “Climate Leadership Council” are proposing a “conservative” carbon tax, which Benjamin Zycher considers and finds to be very much a non-starter. From the outset of his analysis:

Various news reports and self-serving political pronouncements would have us believe that imposition of a tax on “carbon” — emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) — now enjoys growing support among Republican policymakers and conservative observers, a political premise advertised at a decibel level vastly higher than actual political reality would support. That reality is straightforward: Any policy to reduce GHG emissions by definition must increase energy costs, and policymakers endorsing such policies would have to describe the benefits that supposedly would redound to the electorate.

And that is a very serious political stumbling block: The most prominent “conservative” proposals for a carbon tax would reduce global temperatures in the year 2100 by about 0.015°C, as estimated by the EPA climate model under a set of assumptions exaggerating the temperature effect of GHG reductions. That effect would not be measurable, as it is an order of magnitude smaller than the standard deviation of the surface-temperature record. A complete elimination of U.S. GHG emissions, envisioned by supporters of the Green New Deal, would yield a temperature reduction of 0.173°C under the same favorable assumptions. (An international policy vastly more aggressive than the Paris agreement, and thus utterly unachievable, would have an effect of about 0.5°C.)

3. And Then There Were 25: Tom Steyer, billionaire greenie, tosses his biodegradable hat in the ring. How does Jim Geraghty feel? He’s thrilled by the “beautiful madman.” From his Morning Jolt observation:

Tom Steyer, you beautiful madman. You’re about to turn the Democratic primary into an expensive demolition derby: “Billionaire Tom Steyer announced Tuesday that he will join the crowded field vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and promised to commit at least $100 million of his personal fortune to the campaign.

Steyer will not be the 2020 Democratic nominee. But with $100 million, he can do a lot of damage to anyone he deems an obstacle, and it’s worth remembering that Michael Bloomberg just overwhelmed every opponent with a tsunami of ad money when running for mayor in New York City three times. Steyer has limited name recognition now, but a nearly unlimited television advertising budget will change that fast. He can promise anything and accuse anyone else of being a “Washington insider.”

Steyer’s probably not quite a threat to overtake Biden or Harris or Sanders or Warren. But everybody below that might as well call it quits.

4. Didn’t the Nazis destroy art? Anyway, Brian Allen goes after the San Francisco education politicos who have decided to destroy a major high-school WPA mural (painted by a Trotskyite, depicting the life of George Washington). From his exceptional diatribe:

Evidently, in San Francisco, the bohemian yahoos run free. They even put them on the school board.

Arnautoff is a fascinating artist. He was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest and trained as as an artist until the outbreak of the First World War. During that war, he served as a cavalry officer in the Russian army. He was a witness, like Dr. Zhivago. He fought, first in the Russian army, later as a White Russian, lived in China after the Bolsheviks won, and came to the United States in 1925. He taught art at Stanford for years. Richard Diebenkorn was one of his students. He did the murals decorating Coit Tower in San Francisco. He was countercultural and fit in no box. When his Russian-born wife died in 1961, he retired from Stanford and returned to the Soviet Union. He never belonged to the Communist Party but considered himself a Trotskyite.

The board voted deliberately to destroy the murals. Covering them, which is what the staff recommended, wasn’t good enough. Someone might uncover them. Board member Mark Sanchez said that destroying them was worth the cost, estimated at as much as $825,000. “This is reparations.” I call it vindictive. It’s official vandalism.

5. Pride Month saturation has Madeleine Kearns looking into LGBTQ activism and its endless overreach. From her article:

Writing for the New York Times about the general leftward lurch of the Democratic party, David Brooks noted:

American progressives have a story to tell, and they are not afraid to tell it. In this story global capitalism is a war zone. Free trade is a racket. Big business and Big Pharma are rapacious villains that crush the common man.

But how do progressives square this with LGBTQ activism? Big Pharma has a significant monetary interest in transgender transition treatments — especially for children — that make patients dependent on cross-sex hormones for life. In Buying Gay, the historian David K. Johnson makes a convincing case that the gay political movement was the direct result of consumer capitalism. As for big business, Pride month has seen a whole host of corporate sponsors from Wells Fargo to T-Mobile. Even Google maps and Uber joined in, having rainbow-colored pins and cars on their apps. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a political movement with comparable corporate investment.

6. Who’d a thunk it? Daniel Payne reports on the unsurprising happenstance that older pervs are lusting after pre-teen drag princess Desmond Napoles. From the piece:

Desmond himself has quite obviously figured out what’s going on here, even if his handlers claim ignorance. His drag performances are patently sexual: What else would one call gyrating one’s hips in a crop-top while grown men throw dollar bills into the stage? In one appearance, he even performed a quasi-striptease, throwing off a dress to reveal a bared midriff underneath — all to raucous cheers from the audience. Of course pedophiles are going to love this sort of thing. It is so tiresome to pretend otherwise.

Wendy Napoles has discovered, in public and humiliating fashion, the John Hammond fallacy. Named after the dinosaur magnate of Jurassic Park fame, the John Hammond fallacy is one in which a person believes he can impose strict controls on complex systems to any real degree. In Spielberg’s film, Hammond insists that the doomed dinosaur park, having already failed catastrophically, can be properly managed “when we have control again,” to which one of his guests responds: “You never had control.” Hammond eventually accepts, abandoning his island to the dinosaurs he foolishly created.

Desmond’s mother did not, of course, genetically engineer dinosaurs. She did, however, convince herself that she could control the consequences of publicly and gleefully sexualizing her young son. She was wrong. Speaking of the convicted pedophile who described her son as “hot,” Napoles noted that what he said was “out of our control.”

That is true — but the behavior of her eleven-year-old son is firmly in her control. He does not have to be up on stage acting out a sexualized caricature. You can, with minimal effort, protect your child from the sick and twisted gazes of perverts and predators; not letting your eleven-year-old perform cross-dressing cabaret is a start.

7. “Parody has become impossible,” Kat Timpf laments as she reacts to the NBA’s PC ban on calling team owners . . . owners. From the end of her piece:

Yes — people owned slaves, and yes, that is an unspeakable horror. But the thing is, people have owned, and continue to own, lots of things. For example, I (not to brag) own a toothbrush. Is it offensive to say I’m a toothbrush owner? If I own a home someday, can I call myself a “homeowner”? Or do I have to call it something else? I guess I could say “person who has a home,” but I don’t know if even that would work. Other than it being stupidly wordy, wouldn’t the word “has” be offensive too, according to the NBA logic about the word “owner”? After all, there can be all sorts of horrific things that a person “has” — like cancer, for example. If “owner” is offensive because there have been people who owned slaves, wouldn’t “has” be offensive because there have been people who “have had” (and continue to “have”) things like cancer? Words can mean different things to different people at different times, and as long as you’re not using them in an offensive way, you shouldn’t have any problem using them.

In any case, I am truly terrified to see how stupid this could get. After all, just when I think it couldn’t possibly get any more stupid, I’m usually proven wrong. All I can do is hope that no one reads my parody-like example about the word “has” and decides that this word actually is offensive. But, after what happened with my 2017 example of using the word “owner,” it wouldn’t be the first time that what I thought was parody turned out to be reality.

8. Henry Payne, the Detroit Free Press icon who knows a thing or two about the auto industry, reflects on the late Lee Iacocca, industrialist and Trump precursor. From his remembrance:

His personal-brand development was a template for Trump’s successful presidential run in 2016, and the groundswell of support for Iacocca as the Democratic candidate reflected the enduring urge on both sides of the aisle for a populist businessman as president.

After a successful Detroit career that spanned the launch of the 1960s Ford Mustang and the 1980s Chrysler minivan, Iacocca became a national figure when he persuaded a Democratic Congress in 1979 to help bail out Chrysler.

His turnaround of the automaker (paying back federally guaranteed loans ahead of schedule) vaulted him to a 1980s symbol of America on the rebound. Chrysler turned a $1.7 billion loss in 1980 into a $2.4 billion profit by 1984.

The first-generation Italian immigrant’s subsequent autobiography, Iacocca (1984), cemented his brand — reigning on the New York Times best-seller list for 88 weeks, 37 more than Trump’s own The Art of the Deal, published three years later.

Chapter 28 of Iacocca was titled “Making America Great Again.” It might have been written by The Donald.

9. Douglas Murray high-fives the crowdfunding campaign on behalf of Andy Ngo. The campaign aims to bankroll a legal effort against the Antifa thugs who attacked him and the public officials who let it happen. From his Corner post:

The first relates to the case of Andy Ngo, the young Portland-based journalist whom I wrote about here last week. Ngo, readers will remember, was recently assaulted by so-called “Antifa” in broad daylight as the police stood aside. In the hospital afterwards it became clear that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage, among other injuries. Another journalist immediately set up a crowdfunding site to try to help pay Ngo’s substantial medical bills and to replace the equipment that the Portland Antifa thugs had broken or stolen from him. The goal of that crowdfunding appeal was reached (and indeed exceeded) in a matter of days by American citizens and others horrified at what had been allowed to happen on their streets.

Now another crowdfunder has been set up, this time to launch legal proceedings against those responsible for assaulting the journalist. Among those who may be in the firing line of legal proceedings are not just the thugs who the authorities have allowed to run rampant through an American city, but also the authorities themselves. A link to the legal appeal can be found here.

I hope that this appeal goes as well as the first. It should. Because this is one of those rare moments when a meaningful blow could be struck. For, alas, what people do not do by moral impulse alone often has to be willed by a combination of punishment and incentive. To date there seems to have been little incentive to stop the thugs of Antifa and a considerable punishment for the people like Ngo who even try to record — let alone oppose — what they do. The risk ratio should be inverted here, and this crowd-funding effort seems a perfect way to start doing so.

10. It may seem like a joke, but it’s not: There’s a Cold War emerging in the Arctic. Christopher Tremoglie explains. From his report:

The new intensity of the jockeying over the Arctic stems from the increased rate of melting sea ice, which has created new trade routes through the region and increased accessibility to the vast resources it contains. Various studies have shown that the Arctic “encompasses about six percent of the Earth’s surface and an estimated 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered fossil fuel resources,” according to a paper by two scholars at Webster Vienna Private University. Additionally, it is estimated that around “90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is located under the region’s disputed international waters.” These factors have the potential to change  “the regional geopolitical landscape” between Russia and the United States as each strives for Arctic hegemony.

In June, the Department of Defense released its Arctic Strategy. The report updates the 2016 DOD Arctic Strategy. It identifies America’s desire for “a secure and stable [Arctic] region in which U.S. national security interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is defended, and nations work cooperatively to address shared challenges.” The report expresses particular concerns about the Northern Sea Route, which seems to be one key source of the regional tensions between Russia and the U.S. The route, which lies in Arctic waters off Russia’s northern coast, is the quickest sea passageway linking East Asia with the European part of Russian Federation. “In the Northern Sea Route, Moscow already illegally demands that other nations request permission to pass, requires Russian maritime pilots to be aboard foreign ships, and threatens to use military force to sink any that fail to comply,” Pompeo told Reuters.

11. Declan Leary believes “Latinx” is a stupid word. He’s right. From his piece:

The word’s defenders will then go on to claim that “Latinx” did come about as a result of a genuine need: a gap in our lexicon created by the evolution of decent society beyond the so-called gender binary, or at least our desire for gender-neutral language. There’s a whole syllabus of errors that feeds into this interpretation.

Most fundamental is the basic misunderstanding of what gender means as a grammatical concept. (Of course, until the 1950s, gender was never seriously considered as anything other than a grammatical concept.) It isn’t fundamentally dependent on biological sex or sociocultural expressions of sexual differences; it’s just one of the many types of inflections used to clarify the relationships between words in synthetic languages. That a word is grammatically masculine or feminine is not necessarily to say that the thing it signifies is substantively masculine or feminine. Incidentally, the very word “masculinity” is feminine in more than a few gendered languages, and I doubt any German would feel emasculated if you commented on his Männlichkeit — quite the opposite, in fact. Likewise the fact that, say, the word for “poet” in Latin is masculine does not mean that Sulpicia was not properly a poeta; it simply means she was a poeta bonus rather than a poeta bona. It is, at its base, just a grammatical tool meant to identify modifiers with nouns.

12. How unbeatable is Boris Johnson, who is on the cusp of prime ministership-ing? John O’Sullivan thinks very, and to the ever-growing outrage of Remainers who, as we used to say, hate his friggin’ guts. From his analysis:

With less than two weeks to go before by the 22nd of July, when the votes will be counted, it’s starting to look like Boris may try to beat himself, but he won’t come near to succeeding.

That’s because Boris is the firm — no, undislodgeable — favorite of most Tory activists. And that in turn is not only because they have long liked his deceptively Bertie Wooster-ish public persona, but because he has become a progressively firmer Brexiteer in the three years since he declared for Leave in the 2016 referendum. And, finally, achieving Brexit is what the Tory leadership election is all about.

For exactly the same reason, Boris is deeply disliked — loathed, despised, horribly murdered in their dreams — by Remainers everywhere.

13. CNN, getting all documentary on us, has produced a series — The Movies — which Armond White says is another example of the cable entity’s “signature fashion of making everything prejudicial.” Oh yeah: and “a moronic fanboy’s view of movie history.” From the essay:

Before the rise of aggregating, mob-friendly, group-think websites, movie culture used to be esteemed for plurality; its history being the legacy of the great democratic audience informed by mainstream artists. Those were the terms that inspired the Charles Dickens-Matthew Brady-Bible-based pop narratives of D.W. Griffith which John Ford brought forth from Griffith into modern Americana and that Steven Spielberg borrowed from Ford and, for a time, charmed the world.

That’s only the American lineage, but CNN — via doc producers Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and HBO — compound the partiality by stealth, suggesting that movie history only means Hollywood (ignoring cross-cultural influence). The doc series highlights the same usual suspects repeatedly featured in American Film Institute TV specials and clueless Oscarcasts but with superfan celebrity interviews.

Strange how, in this period of extreme polarization, CNN pretends to “democratize” an industry that’s turned divisive. CNN’s daily habit — disguising opinion as journalism — has turned to promoting Hollywood mythology.

14. More Armond: This time he goes after a New York Times effort to stage a woke-whites’ pity party for black movie directors. As usual, our critic takes no prisoners. From his piece:

In the manifesto “‘They Set Us Up to Fail’: Black Directors of the ’90s Speak Out,” the New York Times’ art section revealed a strategy to agitate black political unease by relating cultural ambition to social grievance. The article, by Reggie Ugwu, was built around a teleconference about Hollywood racism — a gripe session featuring six directors who shared the media limelight 18 years ago and who are brought out of the shadows now to seek new attention and pity from woke Millennials.

Ugwu’s headline quotes Darnell Martin, whose good reason to be bitter starts with film culture’s neglect of her astute film Cadillac Records, which she wrote and directed in 2007. It is an incisive, superbly acted account of personal and commercial conflicts at the fabled R & B music label Chess Records. But Ugwu’s agenda emphasizes Martin’s subsequent regrets — alongside complaints from Ernest Dickerson (Tales from the Hood), Theodore Witcher (Love Jones), Leslie Harris (Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.), Matty Rich (Straight Out of Brooklyn), and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust). Martin’s account of film-industry injustice fits the current fashion of political protest and restitution through media. This form of rebellion journalism makes Martin seem an accusatory ingrate rather than an artist with a personal vision whose endeavors are worthy of respect. It sets us up for chaos.

Putting protest above art shows Ugwu’s naïveté about each of these filmmakers. His limited knowledge of their individual histories does a disservice to their cultural backgrounds. Assorted independent movements and personal goals converged to occasion the arrival of young black filmmakers outside the Hollywood system, but Ugwu’s advocacy journalism caters to a generational ignorance that is superficial and uninformed.

15. Plots by Democrats (spearheaded by Maryland senator Chris Van Hollen) to turn the estate tax (increase the tax, lower the exemption) into a bonanza that will fix Social Security, say Travis Nix and Rachel Greszler, are a boomer- waiting to -rang. From their analysis:

Raising the estate tax’s exemption also increases the compliance cost of filing the tax for a lot of mourning families. The tax is extremely complex, and before the 2017 tax cuts raised the exemption, Americans spent nearly 2.1 million hours annually trying to comply with the tax, with many of those hours billed at high hourly rates.

Senator Van Hollen’s legislation would return many Americans to a highly complex system that costs the United States over $100 million a year in lost economic activity. Instead of trying to calculate the value of a deceased loved one’s assets, Americans could be working, spending time with their families, or carrying on their loved one’s legacy by operating and growing his or her business.

Besides being unable to cover the costs of Social Security, the plan also radically transforms the nature of the program. Since its inception, Social Security has been funded exclusively from the program’s own payroll taxes, but this proposal would sever that link. Social Security would become just another welfare program.

16. President Trump and North Korean madman Kim Jong-un have now met three times, and the falling-short-of-expectations affair has Jack David, and plenty of others, wondering, from here, where do we go. From his analysis:

Trump’s goal hasn’t changed: to persuade Kim and the rest of the North Korean leadership that their abandonment of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapons programs in favor of aggressive development of their country’s economy offers a path to greater personal wealth, popular support from the North Korean people, and favorable recognition in history. The administration’s effort, including the offer of U.S. development aid, to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat by peaceful persuasion  is admirable. But just as the first two summits fell short of achieving that goal, so too the meeting to be held among nuclear experts from the two sides, as agreed at the DMZ meeting, will probably fall short.

Like Trump, Kim has not wavered in his objective: to remove the United States as an impediment to the achievement of the ultimate strategic goal sought by his grandfather, his father, and himself. That goal is the conquest of South Korea by force and the unification of the Korean Peninsula under his tyrannical rule.

As they conduct diplomatic discussions at the highest level, both sides continue to pursue their respective goals. For North Korea that has meant and, from all we can see, will continue to mean, the continuation of its annual military exercises, aimed at readying its army to invade South Korea through the tunnels it constructed under the border of the two countries; maintaining its vast array of artillery to the north of the southern border, within range of Seoul; and continuing to develop and strengthen its ability to fabricate nuclear weapons and deliver them by missile, or by other means, to locations as far away as cities in the continental United States.

17. Down Memory Lane: National Review and our old, late colleague, William Rickenbacker, made a federal case — yep, a real one — over the snoopiness of the 1960 census. For the sake of Ye-Olde-Days-reminiscing about what is again a timely matter, Yours Truly penned a remembrance piece. You’ll find it here.

18. Does your head not spin at the mere premise of “intersectionality”? Nate Hochman explains how it cannot help but run amok. From his analysis:

One of the purposes of intersectionality, then, is to fight discrimination that exists beyond the reach of our legal and political framework. Even when society and its laws do not explicitly discriminate against any one group, Crenshaw argues, discrimination and oppression are still pervasive, sown into the very fabric of society itself. The merits of this argument aside, the inherent difficulty in moving from fighting objective discrimination to fighting subjective discrimination is that the latter is identified largely through one’s personal “lived experience”: one of the biggest subjects of intersectional scholarship.

Thus we begin to encounter the limits to intersectionality theory, which lie not necessarily in the truth of its assertions, but rather in the fact that its abstraction of social life leaves much to be desired and unavoidably leads to a number of corrosive outcomes when put into practice.

For instance, in assigning certain experiences to certain groups, intersectionality’s advocates often, in effect, assert a monopoly on the experiences of those groups. But intersectional feminists do not speak for all women and critical race theorists do not speak for all black people; indeed, many members of what intersectionality deems to be a victim class are not convinced that they are as systematically oppressed as they are supposed to be.

19. Jonathan Tobin figures Joe Biden’s woke apology tour may kill his electability. From the beginning of his column:

Once again, former vice president Joe Biden is very, very sorry.

Biden seems to have spent much of the time since he declared his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination apologizing. He has tried to make amends for his habit of touching women in ways that made many of them uncomfortable. He’s done countless mea culpas for his role in questioning Anita Hill. He’s apologized for his role in shepherding the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act to passage. And lately he’s been making the rounds among African-American leaders, accounting for his comments that some Senate segregationists were not only civil but people with whom more-enlightened people like himself could do business.

That last apology is perhaps the most significant. Biden’s initial reaction to being beaten up by Cory Booker over his cordial relations with such senators was to point out indignantly that that is how democracy works. But after being ambushed by Kamala Harris during the first round of Democratic presidential debates over his opposition to forced busing in the 1970s, Biden folded. Rather than defend what were, by any reasonable standard, unexceptionable remarks, the Democratic front-runner said that he was “wrong” to say it, expressed “regret,” and said he was sorry for the “pain” he had caused to those who think being cordial to political opponents nearly a half-century ago is an intolerable offense.

20. Alexandra DeSanctis draws a bead on the insanity of boys competing in high-school girls’ sports, and on one school that is fighting back. From the beginning of her piece:

Three young female track athletes in Connecticut have submitted a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, asking for an investigation of allegedly illegal Title IX discrimination against them. Due to a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) policy allowing biological males who identify as women to compete in girls’ sports, these young women — along with many of their fellow female athletes, they say — have been deprived of opportunities to win competitions, and even to qualify for competition in the first place.

Meanwhile, just last month, the Catholic, all-girls middle and high school from which I graduated announced that it would withdraw from the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC) in the District of Columbia area after the conference adopted a policy like the CIAC’s, allowing students to compete in sports according to gender identity rather than biological sex.

For Oakcrest School, the choice to leave the conference was made regretfully, and not on the basis of Catholic teaching about human sexuality, though upholding the school’s mission was at the heart of the decision. “The safety-and-fairness issue for us was the biggest,” Miriam Buono, an administrator at Oakcrest, tells National Review in a phone interview. “Our mission is deeply rooted in the natural law and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and certainly we really understand that girls are girls and boys are boys, and that’s a beautiful thing. But we weren’t going to impose our mission on other schools.”

Hail Fellow Well Applied

Yes, the deadline is nearing for NR Institute’s fall “Regional Fellowship Program” in Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco. Find complete details here.

The July 29, 2019 Issue of National Review Beckons, and Here We Serve Some Items from Abundant Buffet of Conservatism It Offers

As is our custom, here are four items from the new hot-off-the-press issue.

1. Kevin Williamson’s essay — also the cover’s — is adapted from his forthcoming book. Here’s a generous slice:

War and peace, taxing and spending, crime and punishment, detonating munitions on the heads of goat-bothering savages in Panjshir until all that’s left looks like a hot-yoga class following a PTA meeting in Greenwich, Conn.: None of these can be addressed in a way that does any real political work without a political culture that not only tolerates genuine discourse — meaning genuine disagreement — but also understands what discourse is for, which is not petty advantage-seeking, cultural gang-sign flashing, and cheap partisan opportunism. But we do not have that kind of a political culture, or, in some ways, any culture at all, properly understood. What we have is Instant Culture, which is to culture what stevia is to sugar, what masturbation is to sex, what Paul Krugman’s New York Times vomitus is to journalism, what Monday’s dank memes are to the English language: a substitute that replicates the real thing in certain formal ways but that remains nonetheless entirely lacking in the essence of the thing itself.

And that is why the desire for popularity is the original sin of the American intellectual: When he subordinates his independent mind to the demands of the herd, he ceases to perform any useful function. He abandons culture for Instant Culture, discourse for antidiscourse, and truth-seeking for status-seeking.

Culture, as Michael Oakeshott characterized it, is a conversation: “As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves.” Because it is characterized by crude signaling rather than by conversation as such, Instant Culture differs from culture properly understood in that it includes no meaningful connections across time, having the character of a spasm rather than that of a continuity. It is the Jacobin herd stampeding through G. K. Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead,” and like any stampeding herd it is both terrifying and terrified, a directionless and hysterical moral panic on the digital hoof.

2. Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru weigh into the raging “liberalism” (Ahmari v. French) fight. From their essay:

The tendency on the part of most post-liberal writers to eschew necessary distinctions is compounded by an unwillingness even to attempt to spell out their alternative vision.

The few half-hearted gestures toward policy proposals point toward a populist economics. In an interview in Vox, Ahmari said an example of his ideal order is working mothers’ not having to return to work eight weeks after giving birth. The editor of First Things, R. R. Reno, plugged pro-family tax policy, “industrial policies” to raise wages, the break-up of Big Tech, taxing university and foundation endowments, and curtailing the tax-deductible donations of billionaires.

Outside of the merits of these ideas, it’s worth nothing that there’s been a robust intra-conservative debate about policies such as paid family leave, a child tax credit, and wage subsidies for going on ten years now, and none of the post-liberals to this point have made any meaningful contribution to it. Besides which, condemning the liberal order because you want, say, a larger earned-income tax credit is rather over-saucing the goose.

The overall vagueness of the post-liberals leaves it an open question what they want. Some of the current critics of liberalism may harbor no desire to repudiate Madison, or free elections and an impartial judiciary. They merely believe that conservatism has been too influenced by libertarianism and wish to pull the two some distance apart. That kind of intramural argument on the right has a history coterminous with that of the modern conservative movement. Conservatism has never simply been Milton Friedman’s libertarianism or even Frank Meyer’s fusionism. It has always had room for Russell Kirk as well.

3. In a honey of a piece, Joseph Epstein reflects on the aged poem, The Fable of Bees, and its current relevance. From his column:

Reading “The Fable of the Bees,” one naturally thinks of the United States, which, with all its flaws and frauds, remains the most interesting and ultimately satisfactory country in the world. And one thinks of all the American politicians of the current day who wish to change it, not incrementally but radically. Listening to Elizabeth Warren rattle on about income inequality, corporate power, corrupt politics, or to Bernie Sanders’s harangues about the injustices of our health-care system, our educational institutions, our economic arrangements, one is reminded of the English essayist William Hazlitt on the dissenting ministers of his day who took “pleasure in believing everything is wrong in order that they may have to set it right.”

The Democratic party in particular, when it is not preoccupied with impeaching our current president, is just now stuck on radical reform. On its nightly national news show, NBC is currently running a series called “What’s Your Big Idea,” in which Democratic politicians seeking the presidency are asked to say, in justification of their running for the office, what their “biggest idea” is. In the few segments of the series I have seen, John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, claims his big idea is to reform education so that the young will be fit for the new digital, robotic work that lies ahead; Jay Inslee, currently governor of Washington, worried about climate change, proposes to eliminate the use of coal within ten years and by 2030 have only electric cars on our streets; Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., owing to what he claims is his thirst for fairness, wants to eliminate the Electoral College.

4. David French declares the South to be a pro-life stronghold. From his article:

But in the national battle over America’s second sin, the geography is flipped. The moral virtue is reversed. The geography of the Civil War is repeating itself, but this time with the American South affirming the promise of the Founding — that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights, first among them a right to life. The key states of the American North are rejecting that truth, granting a woman the right to hire a doctor to kill her child right until the moment of birth.

In the first six months of this year, the core of the Old South passed a wave of bills protecting unborn life. There were heartbeat bills in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. Alabama passed an abortion ban. Tennessee passed a “trigger bill,” a law that will severely restrict abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Add to this southern bloc of states Ohio, with its heartbeat law, and there now exists an immense American region, spanning part of the Midwest and virtually the entire Deep South, that has united and declared with one voice, No more. They are opting out of the culture of death.

And what of the North? What of the righteous and courageous protagonists in the fight against slavery? New York and Illinois have led the way, liberalizing their abortion laws to such an extent that even viable unborn children can be killed on demand. Maine’s governor just signed a bill requiring public and private insurance policies to cover abortions, and Massachusetts lawmakers are considering expanding abortion access in their commonwealth.

We Have Not Given Up on Connecticut

It’s been home for some 26 years, a period that saw it fall from being one of the nation’s most prosperous states to Number 50 or thereabouts in so many economic-indicator categories. We remaining residents are grateful that Obama was wrong about there being 57 states, because if there were, well, 50 would be surely prove aspirational for this still-plunging New England small fry.

So into the reigning despair blows a wind of hope, courtesy of a new undertaking known as the Charter Oak Leadership Program, which, in its own words, will “develop, strengthen, train and equip emerging leaders to reach new heights in public policy and the political process,” and identify and bring together “emerging leaders from the legal, economic, business, political, nonprofit and civic professions to learn how visionary, principle-centered leadership can positively impact their community.”

That’s a mouthful, sure. But it’s a true sign of hope. And damn, do we need hope in these parts! And do we need to get the conservatives here reengaged in two of the Program’s key goals: Defending the Declaration and defending capitalism. Nutmeggers interested in participating in the program should apply now (the deadline is August 2).

The Six

1. Making the world safe for Leftism: At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports on the UN’s war against free speech. From the beginning of the piece:

In January, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, tasked his Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to “present a global plan of action against hate speech and hate crimes on a fast-track basis”. Speaking at a press conference about the UN’s challenges for 2019, Guterres maintained, “The biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is to show that we care – and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with answers . . .”

One of those answers, Guterres appeared to suggest, is shutting down free speech.

“We need to enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today – and, in particular, to tackle the rise of hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance. We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past” Guterres said, “Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting the mainstream. Let’s never forget the lessons of the 1930s. Hate speech and hate crimes are direct threats to human rights . . .”

Guterres added, “Words are not enough. We need to be effective in both asserting our universal values and in addressing the root causes of fear, mistrust, anxiety and anger. That is the key to bring people along in defence of those values that are under such grave threat today.”

2. More expert analysis from my pals at Gatestone Institute, this time Con Coughlin’s excellent report on Iran’s new global terror network. And I do mean global. Here’s a slice:

As Iran intensifies its efforts to establish a global terror network, new evidence has emerged that highlights the regime’s attempts to establish a terrorist infrastructure in Africa.

Western security officials claim the Iranian initiative in Africa has been launched in response to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the controversial nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the world’s leading powers in 2015.

The objective of the African-based terror network, Western security officials say, is to establish a group of so-called “sleeper cells” that can be activated to attack Western targets if tensions between Iran and the West result in a serious escalation in hostilities. US, British, French and other Western bases in the region are the most likely targets for future terrorist attacks, and a number of Western governments are understood to have responded by ordering their military and diplomatic missions in the region to upgrade security arrangements.

3. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, from Krakow and discussing a new book he is writing, takes on the “new civil religion” that is filled with hate for the old God-ish one. From his blog:

The new book I’m working on is not a religious work, per se, not like The Benedict Option. But it will be a good companion work, in that it regards the religion of Social Justice we’re now confronting as a form of soft totalitarianism, aided and abetted by technology. In the book, I’m asking those still alive with memories of the old, hard Communist totalitarianism to tell us how they resisted, so that we younger people can incorporate that wisdom into our own responses to the soft totalitarianism we’re faced with today. One message that I’ve been getting from younger Christians in every formerly Communist country I’ve visited to research this book: older Christians, the ones leading the resistance, are mostly out of touch with the social realities that the young deal with. Consequently, the forces of religious and social conservatism are losing, and losing badly, despite their political victories. People my age and older, we have to start listening seriously to the young who share our convictions, but who have a greater sense of social reality than most of us do.

We are not fated to lose this war! One lesson I hear over and over from anti-communist dissidents: almost none of them expected Communism to fall in their lifetimes, or in several lifetimes. They figured it would fall eventually, because it’s based on lies about human nature. Still, they thought that it would take a very long time for it to collapse finally. In fact, Soviet communism lasted fewer than 50 years in Eastern and Central Europe.

4. In First Things, Peter Hitchens scores Anshel Pfeffer’s new Netanyahu biography a “cool and just assessment.” From the review:

If Netanyahu were a conventional figure, governing a conventional country in the left-wing tradition that academics, journalists, and diplomats tend to admire, he would be feted for his many positive characteristics. Alas for him, he is, at least at the time of this writing, Prime Minister of Israel. (I am cautious because Israel’s political system, apparently designed by the country’s enemies, cannot be relied on to leave anyone in office for long.) In most elevated circles, his name is pronounced with a sneer. In Israel itself, where the academy, newspapers, and broadcasting are dominated by the self-indulgent left, the elite more or less assume his fundamental unsuitability for high office. The accusations of corruption levelled against him are treated as self-evidently true.

Yet he successfully plays and repeatedly wins the electoral game, as well as the absurd coalition game under which nobody can come to power without making a deal with at least one mad faction. There are, it seems, quite a lot of Israelis who are not pacifist liberals—especially the many recent Russian immigrants, schooled in pessimism from birth, who are basically the opposite of the old kibbutzniks. Yet, despite their support, Netanyahu can hardly be described as a warmonger. Just as Israel’s herbivorous left almost always seemed to be in charge in time of war, the carnivorous Netanyahu has not gone to war all that much. Apart from some nasty violence in Gaza, he has had a surprisingly peaceable record so far. The evidence suggests he suffers from caution, hardly a terrifying vice in the leader of a nuclear power in a zone of permanent tension. And his own military experience makes him less, not more, susceptible to the urgings of generals. They cannot befuddle him with the glamour of uniforms, big guns, fast jets, and surgical strikes. He knows there is no such thing as a surgical strike.

5. At The Spectator USA, Daniel McCarthy reflects on the late H. Ross Perot, and remembers a populist who in fact betrayed populism. From his commentary:

Perot’s allergy to social conservatives was one of the things that would doom his populism and prevent it from becoming a movement at the time when American most needed a national alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, twin parties of free trade, mass immigration, and foreign conflicts. But in ’92, he and Stockdale took nearly 20 percent of the popular vote, a success outstripping anything that a candidate outside the major parties had achieved since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. Perot could have widened that success into an institutional force in American politics, if he had been willing to build a coalition with figures such as Pat Buchanan who agreed with him on most of his signature issues. Perot instead turned the Reform party that he built after his 1992 run into a personal plaything. He frustrated activists and organizers in the party in 1996 by giving mixed signals about his willingness to run again, and when he finally did so he disappointed at the ballot box. (Perot had shown flaky tendencies even in ’92, when he withdrew from the race at one point, only to re-enter it in time for the election, having, however, made himself look ridiculous by his vacillation.)

Buchanan had bloodied George H.W. Bush in the 1992 primaries and, having won the New Hampshire primary, came close to knocking Bob Dole out of the race for the 1996 nomination. But when Buchanan showed interest in running for the Reform party nomination in 2000, Perot worked behind the scenes to block him. The result was to turn the party into a farce, with a faction of Transcendental Meditation enthusiasts aligned with the fringe Natural Law party contesting the nomination with Buchanan. The Republican renegade won, but by the time he did so, not only was the nomination worthless, so was the Reform party itself. Had Perot backed Buchanan or simply stood aside and let him succeed, the Reform party very easily could have been the determining factor in the 2000 election—which of course came down to a handful of votes in Florida, or, depending on your perspective, a single vote in the United States Supreme Court. The Reform party could not have won the 2000 election, but it could have shown that populism was a force neither party could afford to ignore. Instead, thanks to Perot’s hostility to Buchanan’s social conservatism, Perot made his party and Buchanan both seem like proof of populism’s irrelevance. The upshot was eight years of Bush Republicanism in the White House characterized by exactly the sorts of policies Perot had entered politics to run against.

6. Seattle, reported the local Times, has had a hate-crime epidemic. Except, writes Wilfred Reilly in Quillette, it hasn’t. From his report:

In the Times piece, headlined “Reported Hate Crimes and Incidents up Nearly 400% in Seattle Since 2012,” reporter Daniel Beekman suggests that the problem continues to get worse, estimating that since 2017 alone, hate cases have jumped 25 percent. He also reports that “community organizations say hate crimes are a serious issue,” and cites sources claiming that “more support from the city” is needed to battle hate crime. Beekman’s tone is relatively measured. But others have delivered more alarmist takes, creating fear that minority residents may be swept up in an “epidemic” of hate.

A look through the data that has been made available from Seattle’s office of the City Auditor reveals that there is little basis for panic. First, most of the situations contained in the 500-plus documented incidents for 2018 turned out not to be hate crimes at all. Out of 521 confrontations or other incidents reported to the police at some point during the year, 181 (35 percent) were deemed insufficiently serious to qualify as crimes of any kind. Another 215 (41 percent) turned out to involve some minor element of bias (i.e., an ethnic slur used during a fight), but did not rise to the definition of hate crime. Only 125, or 24 percent, qualified as potential hate crimes—i.e., alleged “criminal incidents directly motivated by bias.” For purposes of comparison: There are 745,000 people living in Seattle, and 3.5-million in the metro area.

Even that 125 figure represents an overestimate, at least as compared to what most of us imagine to be the stereotypical hate crime (of, say, a gang of white racists beating up someone of a different skin color). Seattle’s remarkably broad municipal hate-crime policies cover not only attacks motivated by racial or sexual animus, but also those related to “homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age and parental status.”

Indeed, if there is a single archetypal Seattle hate incident that emerges from this data, it would seem to involve a mentally ill homeless man yelling slurs at someone. According to the City Auditor, 22 percent of hate perps were “living unsheltered” at the time of their crime, 20 percent were mentally ill, and 20 percent were severely intoxicated.


One hundred years ago today, Carl Mays walked off the mound after catcher Wally Schang, allegedly throwing the ball to second on an attempted steal, actually tossed the sphere into the hurler’s head. In the next inning, an irate Mays refused to take the field because he had had enough of his fellow Red Sox’ uprising — mutiny? — against their quite unliked teammate. The walk-off and de facto one-man strike brought down the wrath of American League president Ban Johnson, who . . . banned Mays. Within two weeks the defiant Red Sox traded their former ace to the Yankees, who sued Johnson to overturn his ban. A court backed the Yankees, and Johnson’s institutional defeat over his Mays’ dictat, combined with the Black Sox scandal of that year’s World Series, resulted in the MLB soon hiring a commissioner to run baseball’s affairs. Such are the consequences of a tantrum.


Back to Mays: A “submarine” pitcher who many believed intentionally threw at batters’ heads, he killed Indians shortstop Ray Chapman with a beanball in a 4–3 loss at the Polo Grounds on August 16, 1920 — Mays denied the pitch was intentional, claiming the wet ball got away from him (and there is much evidence that the league at the time, pressed by penny-pinching owners, allowed the use of tattered game balls). But his reputation, bad as it was, got worse, and for decades has stayed that way.


What also got away from Mays, for posterity, is a place in the Hall of Fame. His 207–126 career record and lifetime 2.92 ERA (and, not too shabbily, he hit .268 in his 15 seasons and went 3–4 in four World Series) are worthy numbers, and he was one of three pitchers — the others are Grover Cleveland Alexander and Roger Clemens — to win 20 or more games for three teams (Clemens, with 18 victories for the Astros in 2004, almost did that for four teams). But it is more likely that Clemens, and a unicorn, will get the Hall first before Mays.


Meanwhile . . . RIP Jim Bouton. Hoping God calls it, “Ball Four, take your base.”


A Dios


There is an interesting conference occurring next week in D.C. on “National Conservatism.” Pray it is a gathering that results in some thoughtful ways forward, to protect the principles of our movement, and that it not be a circular firing-squad.


God’s Graces and Blessings on You and Yours,


Jack Fowler

Who will receive your accolades and brickbats at

National Review

My Love For You Ain’t Flagging, Betsy

Dear Weekend Jolters,

Life is good, the dog is napping, God is in His Heaven awaiting us, we enjoy the blessings of liberty, and yet . . . Betsy Ross now joins Kate Smith under a bus, tossed there by a corporate America that is in the clutches of multiculturalism, susceptible to any claim that even the most innocuous thing might be racist. This diminishing of another once-revered figure, a Founding Mother (who lost two husbands in the War of Independence), makes it feel as if we may now indeed be, completely, in some new era. Or, that an old era has passed away. Was it a natural death, or a death by . . . strangulation?

What happened, in case you did not hear, was this: Nike, maker of footwear that impoverishes, was set to release a Fourth of July sneaker that portrayed Betsy’s 13 Stars and Stripes, which by lore she sewed for George Washington, thereby making what we hold to be America’s first official flag. And no nation loves its flag like America does, right? Right! So even uber-PC Nike was set to make many a buck off a limited-edition clodhopper emblazoned with the Oldest of Glories.

And then serial kneeler and instigator Colin Kaepernick told the kicks-maker that the Betsy Ross-crafted symbol — that iconic image whose progeny of accumulating stars led men into battle to end slavery and defeat fascism — was, yes, racist. And so Nike, taking time from sucking up to Red Chinese officials attacking Hong Kong protesters, kyboshed the “Air Max 1 USA,” its corporate mouthpiece uttering blah blah blahs for an explanation.

Yours Truly rarely wears a tie not adorned by our Grand Old Flag, so I’d be hard pressed to condemn it on other wear, although on a shoe, hmmm: not the greatest of ideas. Still, the heel of the Air Max 1 USA is now a cultural battleground. Allegiances are commanded. So, fix bayonets . . .

But first, do break out the popcorn: In 1927 MGM released The Flag, about George, Betsy, needle, thread, an old petticoat, and history. Part One can be watched here. Part Two, here.

Also, in the post-4th glow, as for flags: The final battle scene in The Red Badge of Courage is a wonderful piece of cinema. The great Audie Murphy, playing Henry Fleming (a.k.a. “The Youth”), his fears disregarded, his blood up, grabs Old Glory from a dying comrade and leads a charge on the Confederate lines, John Brown’s Body blaring, capturing the Stars and Bars from a dying Reb, the wind blowing so that the banners seem to be in a brief ballet. Watch it here.

A Limited-Edition WJ, So the Editorial Kids Can Play on the Beach, But a Goodly Amount for Your Enjoyment and Edification

WJ was locked and loaded early in the week, so that Editor Phil and the other NR wunderkinds who are tasked with sweeping up after this elephant would be free to spend the 4th and 5th shooting off bottle rockets and firecrackers and drinking sodie pop on some sunny beach. We offer up eight mouth-watering NR pieces for you.

1. More about Nike: Kevin Williamson looks at the company’s B.S.-explained decision to kill a venture because it made the Chi-Coms unhappy. From the beginning of his piece:

Nike, the athletic shoe giant, has pulled a product off the shelves in response to a storm of social-media protest. The product was a sneaker collaboration with sportswear brand Undercover, whose principal designer, Jun Takahashi, published these unspeakable words on Twitter: “No extradition. Go Hong Kong!”

Nike says it made the decision “based on feedback from Chinese consumers.” Just so.

The context is this: Hong Kong, a free, liberal, democratic, self-governing city was handed over to the powers that be in Beijing — a clutch of corrupt, brutal, dishonest, organ-harvesting, gulag-operating murderers — as part of an agreement with the United Kingdom, who once had sovereignty over Hong Kong as a colonial power. Beijing wants Hong Kong to be more like the rest of China, and the people of Hong Kong do not. They recently took to the streets to force the reversal of a decision that would have subjected Hong Kong residents to extradition to the so-called People’s Republic of China for certain crimes rather than be tried in Hong Kong under Hong Kong law. Because the junta in Beijing has no compunction about drumming up charges for political purposes, this would have represented a noose around the neck of every dissident in Hong Kong. Jun Takahashi tweeted his support for liberal democrats against mass-murdering national socialists.

And Nike sided with the mass-murdering national socialists.

Swoosh: There goes your soul.

2. Declan Leary reports on NYC’s Pride March and finds queer cannibalism and mainstream angst amidst the capitalism wokeness. Here’s a slice.

The kitschy capitalism that runs rampant at the official Pride March has actually sparked a countermarch this year. It’s called the Queer Liberation March, and it’s organized by a group called Reclaim Pride. Their whole hook is that they don’t accept major corporate sponsors (while NYC Pride welcomes them). Horrified at the mainstreaming — sellout, in their eyes — of their once-radical movement, these queer activists have decided that the next enemies to be vanquished are . . . queer activists. Bored with victory, they’ve turned on their own. It’s a strange bit of cannibalism.

On sidewalks and street corners along the route itself, spectators are packed in tight — definitely millions, as expected. After some balloons, the first major contingent is the Gay Liberation Front. The organization was founded in immediate response to the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, and it shows. Packed into the backs of two big, flatbed Penske rental trucks, many of them have to sit and the rest lean on the railings or on canes. The first truck is full, probably two dozen septuagenarians squeezed in there. The second, the same size, holds only two. One sits on the far side facing away from me; the other is standing at the railing, smiling from ear to ear and waving to the crowd with both hands. I think at first that the scene reminds me of Queen Elizabeth. But Nixon is a better comparison.

The older demonstrators — who definitely constitute a disproportionate percentage of the attendees — seem to be reliving the glory days (as it were) of the ’60s, when being radical was actually radical, and being a cross-dressing lesbian Marxist actually meant something other than fitting in on campus. The revolution is over, but they’re not ready to admit it. Their senses of community and meaning have been formed for decades by their self-conception as rebels. Just like the members of Reclaim Pride, they can’t stand the thought of being mainstream. They can’t stand the thought of success.

3. Like it or not, Iran has been at war with the US for four decades. Andy McCarthy says our policy there must be clear, and it must be . . . regime change. From his analysis:

The president was probably right to practice restraint when Iran downed our drone — an MQ-4 Global Hawk — as it conducted surveillance over international waters on June 20. Significantly, this was not a one-off. As recounted by Bill Roggio (Tom Joscelyn’s partner at the Long War Journal), it was the third attack on an unmanned U.S. aerial vehicle in the last three weeks. That is in addition to Iran’s multiple attacks on tankers near the Persian Gulf, as well as attacks on American forces and civilian targets in Iraq.

Trump called off a retaliatory military strike after the June 20 attack. That, however, was not restraint in a vacuum. It was restraint within the context of an ongoing economic pressure campaign that is gradually strangling the regime. Plus, there may well have been a retaliatory strike by U.S. Cyber Command — not as patent as a missile attack, but enough to get Iran’s attention. The president did not lash out with more deadly force because he understood that this is what the mullahs wanted him to do. They are not worried about the killing of a few hundred Iranians (persecuting Iranians is what they do). Their hope is that an American military attack would incite protests in the U.S. and Europe, which would pressure Trump to relent and thus free Europeans to resume lucrative commerce with Tehran.

The president did not fall for it. That’s the good part. The bad part is the way he aborted the missile attack. He offered a specious explanation that a retaliatory strike that killed scores of Iranians would be “disproportionate.”

This misconstrues the concept of proportionality. It is not a tit-for-tat comparison of attacks by each side of a conflict. It is a weighing of the military benefit of an operation against the likely collateral damage. There is no doubt that the planned attacks on radar and missile batteries, which would suppress Iran’s capacity for lethal attacks, were proportionate. Iran, moreover, kills massively and indiscriminately. In any event, the president will only hem himself in if, in effect, he allows the mullahs to define the permissible scope of any responsive strike.

4. Dan McLaughlin breaks out the calculator, the charts, and the Crayolas: His analysis of both the SCOTUS gerrymandering decision and the (mathematical!) political impact of partisan district-making is surely worth a read. Here’s a slice:

While some countries use proportional-representation systems, the American way has always been to pick one winner for each election. Winner-take-all systems have important merits, as they encourage the building of majorities or broad pluralities rather than just the pursuit of small, dedicated factions. More to the point, even in a world where courts or nonpartisan agencies abolished partisan gerrymanders, winner-take-all elections would still be the American rule. Much of the deviation from statewide popular-vote totals in individual states thus results from factors other than partisan district borders:

Winner-take-all elections mean that a candidate who wins 50.1 percent of the two-party vote gets 100 percent of the seat.

Some states have only one seat.

A party that gets below 40 percent of the statewide vote in a larger state can easily lose 100 percent of the races no matter how the districts are drawn.

Democratic voters tend to be more geographically concentrated, in urban areas, than Republican voters.

The Voting Rights Act is sometimes read to require certain districts to be “majority-minority” (i.e. majority non-white) which makes it hard even for nonpartisan districts to be drawn wholly impartially. Some of the same factors would come into play if you were analyzing state legislative districts, rather than congressional districts.

5. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, makes the case for why conservatives need not be pessimistic about free-speech threats on college campuses. From his article:

Consider the major threats to free speech on campus that we at FIRE had on our radar as recently as 2011: The prevalence of campus speech codes, the Obama administration’s wrongheaded federal regulations, and the refusal of much of the media, the general public, politicians, and even universities themselves to take threats to free speech on campus seriously.

On all three fronts we have made tremendous progress. The percentage of colleges that maintain severely restrictive speech policies declined from 74.2 percent in 2009 to 28.5 percent in 2018. The problematic Department of Education regulations that began appearing in 2011 have been repealed or revised in recent years. And the issue of free speech on campus has gone from one that struggled mightily for public attention to one that is publicly discussed everywhere, from mainstream-media outlets to state and federal legislatures to campuses themselves. University presidents and top university lawyers now discuss the issue openly and, while dozens of colleges across the country have adopted a new and strong commitment to freedom of speech, often based on the “Chicago Statement.”

6. Joe Biden isn’t sufficiently woke; don’t be fooled by how the plastic surgery makes his eyes look. Matt Continetti watched the infamous Dem debates, and found a flat-footed front-runner. From his piece:

Biden has encountered the Great Awokening, and he doesn’t know what to make of it. His instinct seems to be to go with the flow. Maybe you noticed the weird way he responded to questions where the moderators asked the candidates to raise their hands. In each case Biden was tentative, uncertain, looking at the competition. At one point he asked the moderator to repeat a question, highlighting his age.

If you had been dropped into this debate from Mars, you would have thought Kamala “for the people” Harris was the Democratic frontrunner. She brought down the house several times. She got Biden tangled up on the issue of busing. She clearly represents the future of the Democratic party. She’s fourth in the national polls, stuck in single digits. But she went toe to toe with the frontrunner — something that was studiously avoided for most of the two nights of debates. And she won.

Something is happening to the Democratic party. It’s been moving left for years. Since Howard Dean’s insurgency in the 2004 campaign, the number of Democrats who have embraced liberalism, progressivism, and now socialism has been steadily increasing. The reason is partly generational. My cohort, the Millennials, embraced the left position on the issues of Iraq and gay marriage, and if anything, Generation Z seems to be more left-wing still. The number of liberals is not an overwhelming majority of the party — not according to polls — but it is a majority. And the number of lefties is so great that it determines the nature of the interest groups that dictate the party’s agenda and talking points. It might even determine the nominee.

7. Kyle Smith should be praying to Saint Hey Jude, because Yesterday comes off as a hopeless cause. From his review:

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a failing British singer-songwriter who, during an unexplained 12-second worldwide blackout, gets hit by a bus. Recovering with the aid of his best friend Ellie (Lily James), he makes a joke about whether she’ll still need him when he’s 64. Why 64?, she asks. Google searches reveal that the Beatles don’t exist. Tentatively, Jack starts singing “Yesterday” and some other Beatles songs to small groups of friends, and when he does one on a local TV show, it catches the eye of Ed Sheeran, who invites Jack to be the opening act for his tour. An L.A. talent agent (played as more grating than funny by Kate McKinnon) introduces him to what Orson Welles once called the standard rich and famous contract. The unresolved questions are: Will Jack confess that he isn’t the author of the Beatles’ songs? And will he and Ellie realize they should be together?

To the second question the only conceivable answer is “Duh.” She’s Lily James. She is to charm approximately what West Virginia is to coal. We’re supposed to believe this chump is going to let her get away? Or to flip it around, once he turns out to be not only the sweetest guy she knows but also the single most talented songwriter in the history of planet Earth, do we really believe she’d rather date a small-town nobody? A romantic comedy has to put considerable ingenuity into the question of what is keeping its lovebirds apart. Curtis and Boyle put none whatsoever into it. How did the author of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and About Time bungle this? It’s like watching Gordon Ramsay try and fail to figure out how to turn on the stove.

8. Tête-à-tête Time: Justin Shapiro (Rich Lowry’s research assistant, please pray for him!) pens this thoughtful analysis of America’s history and the role of POTUSes and other Big Shots (Ben F!) engaging in diplomacy with despots and other uncomfortable types. From his analysis:

Despite the fact that Donald Trump has served as commander in chief of the armed forces and the diplomatic corps for two and a half years, the return of the leader-to-leader tête-à-tête as the hallmark of American foreign relations has been something that the media has struggled to accept after eight years of covering a president who disdained the “buddy-buddy” approach: “Personal relationships are not his style,” as one Middle East peace envoy said of Obama in 2015.

As we approach the 243rd anniversary of the founding of the American Republic, it is worth noting that personal diplomacy, often with unsavory leaders of nations whose values did not align with our own, was instrumental in the founding of this nation and has been paramount in its rise to global power and prestige. It was one thing for Thomas Jefferson to proclaim that “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth . . . a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” It was quite another thing for that dissolution to be brought about and for that new power structure to be formed.

Without French assistance to the colonies during the American Revolution, the British would surely have won. From the French government’s decision to arm the rebels with shipments of Charleville muskets to the decisive intervention of the French navy at Yorktown, the American Revolution was to an undeniable extent a proxy war between two rival European monarchies. Regardless of how one characterizes this assistance, though, it was the result of the personal diplomacy of Benjamin Franklin at the court of Louis XVI.

There is a certain tension to the notion that a newly formed republic made up almost entirely of Protestants that had just declared independence from a limited constitutional parliamentary monarchy would send its leading diplomatic figure to the capital of an absolute Catholic monarch to beg for assistance, but such was and such is the nature of international politics. Had it not been for Franklin’s willingness to engage with a government whose values were at odds with the one he hoped to form, there would have been no French recognition of the United States in 1777, no French fleet in 1781, and no United States today.

The Three

Just for this week, The Six is taking half a vacation.

1. In Commentary, Christine Rosen asks the big question about how America should deal with Facebook. This is a tremendous piece of reporting and analysis. From the essay:

Taming Facebook is a bipartisan challenge, because Facebook’s downstream negative effects are shared across the ideological divide. Whatever fixes Facebook made after the 2016 election to prevent foreign agents from using its platform to undermine elections don’t seem to be working. In late May, for example, Facebook announced that an outside cybersecurity firm called FireEye had alerted the company to potentially nefarious activity on the site by foreign agents. Facebook announced that it had removed “51 accounts, 36 pages, 7 groups, and 3 Instagram accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran.”

Although Facebook didn’t mention it in its statement, FireEye issued its own report that noted the accounts used “fake American personas that espoused both progressive and conservative political stances” and that some “impersonated real American individuals, including a handful of Republican political candidates that ran for House of Representative seats in 2018.”

Facebook offered its standard sorry-not-sorry defense: “We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.” Saying you “don’t want” your services to be used to manipulate people isn’t the same thing as taking responsibility for the mistake and committing to successfully preventing it from happening in the future. Hospitals “don’t want” patients to get sick in the hospital, but if the way a hospital is administered puts patients at greater risk of complications, it’s reasonable to assume the hospital would change its practices.

But Facebook’s priority is protecting its business model and profits, not protecting its users from attempts at manipulation by adversarial foreign governments trying to undermine our democracy. This is why Zuckerberg continues to talk about his creation with Dr. Frankenstein–like obliviousness, as if Facebook is merely the inevitable manifestation of a progressive new vision of technology-enabled global connectedness that he has created and that everyone should agree is all for the good. Meanwhile, his creation, now full-grown, lurches around frightening the villagers, and all Zuckerberg can say in response is that he’s excited to see that villager “engagement” is high.

2. Some Rust Belt hubs seem to be thriving, but the growth may be coming at the expense of smaller cities and towns. At City Journal, Aaron Renn considers the numbers and the effects. From his piece:

In short, population growth in the old industrial heartland appears to consolidate within a limited number of successful metro regions, while the rest of the Rust Belt shows weak to negative demographic trends. Since 2010, Iowa and Ohio—outside Des Moines and Columbus—have lost population. Indianapolis accounted for 77 percent of Indiana’s population growth.

The population shift into successful major cities—or at least a state’s largest city—makes sense considering economic trends. Metro regions of more than 1 million people have added jobs faster than other areas since the recession. These larger cities have bigger agglomerations of college-educated talent, sizable labor markets for today’s dual-career families, connectivity to the global economy through major airports, and the urban amenities attractive to knowledge-based workers and firms.

The shift may be difficult to stop, creating challenges for smaller, stagnant places—but also masking some long-term challenges for the growing cities. As the populations of Rust Belt states decline, especially among younger cohorts, the inbound flow of people also decreases. A demographic boost driven by in-state migrants won’t last forever. Also, the superior national draw of Sunbelt boomtowns creates an advantage with marquee employers. Amazon’s plan to locate 5,000 jobs in Nashville is a good example, as is Apple’s large expansion in Austin. These companies know that even if the talent they need isn’t located in these cities, they can recruit from anywhere.

3. Pervio, ergo sum. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher dives into the enormity of the Sexual Revolution’s social-restructuring. From his piece:

We are living through a version of this, in real time. This is what I mean by “soft totalitarianism.” It’s not about learning to be more compassionate towards sexual minorities. It’s about re-ordering reality. Already they — academia, media, Woke Capital, and others — are breaking down the habits of thought which survived from before the Sexual Revolution. They are abolishing man.

It’s funny, but if Pat Robertson’s CBN had broadcast the same material as in the Times piece today, it would have been denounced as engaging in homophobia, for drawing negative attention to people the network regarded as freaks. You see here an example of what I call the Law Of Motivated Noticing: You may only take note of sexual perversity if you are prepared to affirm it as progressive.

For example, Katie Bishop describes herself as “perverted,” which she certainly is. You can only use that word if you are doing so to approve of Katie Bishop’s perversity, or perversity in general. If you call her, or people like her, “perverse,” but mean it pejoratively, well, then you are a thought criminal.

Another example: if you read the Times story, and say, “How wonderful it is that society is changing to notice and to affirm all these gender identities and sexualities, and how marvelous that the Times is finally paying attention,” you have not committed crimethink. But if you read it and say, “How terrible it is that society is deconstructing itself, and embracing a form of madness, and how bizarre it is that mainstream media like The New York Times writes about this stuff constantly, in total advocacy mode” — well, then you must be a bigoted right-wing obsessive.

One of the most totalitarian aspects of this stage in the Revolution is that it demands that you not notice how radical it is. This is what Orwell meant by doublethink, which he said is a form of “reality control.”


This past week’s 30-run power-fest in London — in MLB’s first-ever regular-season game in Europe, with the Yankees outlasting the Red Sox 17–13 — raised the obvious wonderments about runs scored in the game: Most ever, by one team, etc. Well, for sheer accumulation of runs, that distinction belongs to the Friday, August 25, 1922, battle between the Cubs and Phillies, played before 7,000 at Wrigley Field (then known as “Cubs Park”), with the home team prevailing, 26–23. The Cubs scored 10 runs in the second and 14 in the fourth, and the Phillies brought home 14 runs in the last two frames. They had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the 9th when centerfielder Bevo LeBourveau struck out to end the wild contest.

The Phillies only used two pitchers: Starter Jimmy Ring (he won and lost a game in the infamous 1919 World Series, shutting out the “Black Sox” in Game 2), who gave up 16 runs in 3 1/3 innings, and Lefty Weinert, who gave up 10 runs in 4 2/3 frames. Thanks to four errors, 12 of the Cubs’ runs were unearned. Their starter, Tony Kaufmann, pitched four innings, giving up six runs (three unearned) to take the win. Of additional note: Cubs right-fielder Marty Callaghan got up to bat three times in the 14-run 4th inning.

The most runs scored by one team in a game is 29, which was achieved twice (and remember, in these-here parts we generally stick to pre-expansion): once by the Red Sox on June 8, 1950, in a 29–4 drubbing of the Browns at Fenway Park, and on April 23, 1955 at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. Playing in only its sixth home game since moving from Philadelphia, the As were shellacked by the White Sox, 29–6. One man played for both winning teams: Walt Dropo, the pride of UConn. He had four hits (two of them homers) and seven RBIs in Boston’s 1950 beatdown of the Browns (Ted Williams also had two homers, and second baseman Bobby Doerr smacked three) and three hits (yep, one a homer) and three ribbies in the As’ 1955 pulverizing.

Also of note: The day before they brutalized the Browns, the Red Sox demolished them, 20–4 (and in four of the five games prior to that, Boston scored 11, 11, 17, and 12 runs). And the day after they were humiliated by the As, ace Alex Kellner held the White Sox to five measly hits and blanked them, 5–0.

Editor Phil, MLB Expansionist, makes note of the Texas Rangers’ 30–3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles on August 22, 2007, at Camden Yards.

Readers Write

The previous WJ commenced with a rant by Yours Truly about water. That prompted reader Bob to write:

Right you are, Jack, about water — especially in the agricultural parts of the West. Unfortunately, it is subject to a numbers game, like it is here in Colorado, where the vast majority of people are consolidated around metropolitan Denver and along the front range from Ft. Collins to Pueblo. (And you know what the political leanings of these urban dwellers are.) There is a huge disconnect for them between the produce aisle at Whole Foods and parched land just beyond the city limits. It’s nearly impossible to have even a discussion about increasing water storage (building a reservoir) even though our mountain geography is particularly inviting. Meanwhile, the cities have increasing demand to hydrate the rapidly rising populations, so more and more agricultural water rights are snarfed up, drying up ever more formerly bountiful farm ground.

Drives me nuts!


A Dios

The glow of America’s 243rd birthday no doubt carrying through into the weekend, pray with gratitude for our special nation, this greatest of political experiments, and reflect on those who signed our Declaration of Independence, considering the courage of its final sentence:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

May we live up to that bravery.

God’s blessings and Graces on You, All Those You Love, and Our Republic

Jack Fowler

Who can be sent patriotic sentiments and derisive expressions, whatever suits your mood, at

National Review

Nary a Drop to . . . Irrigate?

Dear Weekend Jolter,

This week’s missive is penned from the road; Yours Truly has the great fortune of meeting with readers and supporters, part of a very successful NRI traveling show in California, with fellows Andrew McCarthy and Victor Davis Hanson. Rising early on Wednesday in Coalinga at the famous Harris Ranch Inn, the picture above is not the kind of sign one sees on a Connecticut roadway.

Water? That’s the thing you get when you turn on the faucet, endless and plentiful, but an issue? Back East, the only “issues” about water is if it is hot or cold enough, and who left the sprinkler running.

But for plenty of the rest of our big, beautiful country, water is indeed an issue, if not the issue: an obsession of the Left, which seems hellbent on preventing its flow from hill and mountains in the Golden State to the Central Valley, which is the world’s greatest producer of . . . produce. The greens, who seem to prefer brown, are intent on keeping it scarce, and if that means preferring fresh water heading into the ocean rather than letting it flow south so farmers (leftspeak: “billionaire landowners”) can grow the food you . . . take for granted . . . then so be it. To forgo the employment of thousands upon thousands of farmworkers, who find themselves outranked by the delta smelt, an invasive fishy whose “endangered” status is the excuse for water politics — again, so be it.

The Sacramento Left would rather take tax dollars and use them for trains (an insane project now mostly derailed, but not completely) and union goodies than for the substance that ensures life’s basic necessities. And the substance that can suppress these catastrophic fires that are now a regular feature of life in California.

More reservoirs? A new one might displace an ant colony! More on Western water in WJ? Yes. When? Soon. Right now, the author needs a drink.


1. Bernie proposes that hard-working stiffs who chose plumbing and welding pay for the college debt of those who went to Amherst and Yale. We call his plan daft. From our editorial:

Like a similar proposal from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Harvard), Sanders’s program is a giveaway for relatively well-off people, i.e., those who went to college, who on average earn tens of thousands of dollars a year more than those who did not attend college. The median amount of student-loan debt is less than $10,000 — about 100 months’ worth of the average cable bill — and most borrowers pay 5 percent or less of their monthly income in loan payments. A third of all student debt is held by those in the highest income quartile, whereas those in the lowest quartile hold only 12 percent.

The majority of all student-loan debt is held by people with graduate degrees. What this means is that relatively low-income people who never went to college are being taxed to subsidize the careers of people who went to law school or who took other advanced degrees. Poor people are not as important to the Democratic coalition as they once were.

Worse, Sanders’s plan creates permanent perverse incentives for young Americans to take on even more debt. For one thing, it may create the expectation that this giveaway will not be a one-time thing. More concretely, it would fix interest rates on student loans at less than 2 percent. With the U.S. inflation rate hovering around 2 percent, it would make more financial sense for students to borrow 100 percent of their education expenses — indeed, to borrow all the money they can — rather than see their families dip into their own pockets. Which means that if the Sanders plan were passed, then the most likely result would be that we would see record student debt just a few years down the road.

2. SCOTUS got it right on gerrymandering, and wrong on the Census, where Chief Justice Roberts seems more interested in being a shrink than a judge. From the editorial:

The truth in the decision is that the administration’s process was chaotic and unprofessional, leaving behind a trail of evidence that the government’s stated justification for the citizenship question (that it would aid enforcement of the Voting Rights Act) may have been a pretext (critics charge the true intention was to reduce immigrant response rates on the census, and thereby reduce congressional representation in immigrant-heavy blue states). As the Court notes, the secretary of commerce’s “director of policy attempted to elicit requests for citizenship data from the Department of Homeland Security and DOJ’s Office of Immigration Review before turning to the VRA rationale and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.”

But as Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito spelled out in separate opinions, it is not the Court’s job to play psychoanalyst, and the decision paves the way for courts to scrutinize policymakers’ motives much more broadly. The president has much discretion when it comes to census questions, discretion freely given him by Congress. The census has asked about citizenship numerous times stretching back about two centuries. The Court’s job was to make sure the administration had an adequate explanation for adding the question back in — as Roberts conceded it did — not to look behind that explanation for ulterior motives.

RELATED: At Bench Memos, Carrie Severino smacks the Court’s “unforced error” on its census ruling. Read her analysis here.

3. We condemn what the Democrats have become – the party of illegal immigration. From our editorial:

If there were any doubt that Democrats want to welcome illegal immigrants and treat them like U.S. citizens, seeing every single candidate on the stage last night promising to provide government health insurance to illegal immigrants removes it. This, obviously, would be even more of a magnet to illegal immigration, and would erode the difference between U.S. citizens and people who literally showed up the day before yesterday in violation of our laws. Besides, the U.S. government is under enough fiscal strain providing promised benefits to citizens and legal residents without, in effect, extending the safety net to some percentage of the population of Northern Triangle countries.

The Democrats’ radicalism on immigration is certainly a political mistake that will give President Trump ready fodder next year. We’d say it’s impossible for Democrats to get any further out on this limb, but the next round of debates is only a month away.

Godfather, Forgive Me, I Knew Not What I Didn’t Do

Or something like that. WJ has always considered itself the godchild of Morning Jolt and its esteemed author, Big Jim Geraghty, who is not only the author of that acclaimed daily missive, but of a new novel, Between Two Scorpions (The CIA’s Dangerous Clique), which was published on June 11, and of further whichly WJ has made no mention.

Lemme tell you something about BTS: It’s not only really good as a 24-style thriller, it’s got mucho of what you like about Jim’s NR writing — not exactly the kind of material you find in thrillers. The characters grapple with matters of faith and spirituality in a fallen and dangerous world. The fact that Americans are currently so angry and eager to scapegoat one another plays heavily into the villains’ plot; almost every setting is bizarre and otherworldly but actually exists in the real world. And yeah, Big Jim being a funny dude, the characters in BTS are hilarious, in a Dennis Miller kind of way. It’s a rollicking ride. As for the novel’s president . . . well, he sounds like this guy from Queens.

The president’s voice resonated through the speakers in Ward’s truck.

“Today, I ordered our great military forces to launch a targeted military strike of fire, fury, and ferociousness. Our target was camps in a remote region of Turkmenistan, camps where Atarsa’s leadership planned the recent terror attacks against Americans,” the president declared in prepared remarks from Camp David. “It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to decimate terrorists wherever they operate.” He deviated from his prepared remarks. “Just terrible people, these guys. Total animals. We’re better off with them dead. Totally and completely dead.” He returned to the script. “This is only one of many ways we are bringing the full wrath of the American arsenal to our enemies.”

And the never-named Secretary of Defense, maybe sounds like a certain . . . Mad Dog:

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The air strikes were conducted by a combination of US air assets based out of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and part of the NATO training operations in Tbilisi Soganlug Air Base in Georgia, as well as a variety of Tomahawk missiles launched from sea assets.

REPORTER: Mister Secretary, what was the most important objective of the air strike?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: To wipe the camp off the face of the earth.

REPORTER: And when you say, “our actions were successful,” do you mean—

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The face of the earth has now been thoroughly wiped.

Now do two things: One, forgive me for not alerting you about Jim’s terrific novel sooner, and Two, get yourself to your local bookstore to pick up your copy, or click here so you can order one.

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer Made Even Better with Soda, Pretzels, Beer, and Twenty One Cool Articles from National Review

1. Andy McCarthy watches Nancy Pelosi try to thread the impeachment / censure / 2020 needle. From his analysis:

Why? The speaker is trying to protect her vulnerable members. Constituents in Trump-friendly districts see such votes as unduly hostile to the president. They are increasingly irritated by the Democrats’ mulish persistence in an anti-Trump impeachment gambit at the expense of dealing with pressing national problems. Why force members who will have to face these voters to go on record — knowing the base will fry them if they resist the Resistance?

Ditto censure. Some members of Congress are attracted to the notion of formal legislative censure of the president, in lieu of impeachment. We learned this in the Clinton impeachment. Censure is classic Washington: It would enable lawmakers to register disapproval of presidential misconduct yet avoid an accountable vote on whether the president should be removed.

Pelosi is shrewd enough to see salient differences between the Clinton and Trump scenarios. There was no doubt that Clinton violated the law and engaged in condemnable personal misconduct; nor was there doubt that most Americans (including many who did not like Clinton) did not want him removed from office. Therefore, the idea of censure was popular among Democrats (and some Republicans) who were pro-Clinton and saw it as an escape hatch from the Constitution’s impeachment remedy for presidential misconduct.

2. Brian Allen has been writing about the exhibitions of Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Four Freedom” paintings, what they meant, and what to many they now mean. Troubling. From his piece:

These pictures, based on a speech Franklin Roosevelt made, became the visual mission statement for America’s war effort. I think it’s a good time to give them a close look.

There’s another reason, though. An art-historian friend told me a few weeks ago that he used Freedom of Speech in a seminar at a high-achieving, selective college. He showed a slide of the picture, which students didn’t recognize. That’s fair. They’re young. World War II, Rockwell, Roosevelt, and bond drives are ancient history. I get that. History is badly taught, almost everywhere. That’s a very sad given. We let it continue at our peril.

What disturbed me was how students interpreted the picture, knowing nothing about it. They thought Freedom of Speech depicted a white supremacist meeting.

When I heard this, I was speechless, freedom to speak or no freedom.

In thinking about this, my take is that the students saw that the subjects were mostly plain people who worked with their hands. Even the tie-wearers in Freedom of Speech weren’t dressed by Brooks Brothers. Everyone is neat, but they’re unadorned, untanned, uncool. They’d look and feel awkward in the faculty lounge, the tech start-up, or that chic financial-services firm. These students — taken collectively, they’re our future leaders — assumed the worst about these hard-working, most unassuming people.

BONUS: You can find the first part of Brian’s reflections on Rockwell here.

3. SCOTUS punts on reigning in regulators and forcing Congress to man up (if you want, woman up and even zir up) and spell out the laws they pass, rather than empowering bureaucrats to decide such things. Kevin Williamson scores the mess that is the Gundy ruling. From the beginning of his analysis:

Conservatives typically have one of two reactions to the headlines in left-leaning publications: Ninety percent of the time, we cringe at the presumption on display, but 10 percent of the time, we wish they were true.

The Supreme Court’s Conservatives Are Ready to Take a Wrecking Ball to the Entire Federal Bureaucracy,” Slate ejaculates. If only it were so!

At issue is Gundy v. United States, a case in which Congress’s delegating a certain law-enforcement issue to the attorney general was challenged as unconstitutional. The law in question established the federal sex-offender registry and imposed prison time for failure to register. Congress left it to the attorney general to determine whether to apply the law retroactively to offenders who had been convicted before it was passed. Justices Thomas, Roberts, and Gorsuch argued in dissent that the constitutionality of such delegation needed reexamination; Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer agreed to uphold the law. Justice Kavanaugh had not yet joined the Court at the time the case was heard, and so took no part in it. Because the case was heard by only eight members of the Court, Justice Alito proceeded in an oddball manner and provided the fifth vote needed to uphold the law in spite of his broadly agreeing with the dissenters, expressing his hope that the full court would “reconsider the approach we have taken for the past 84 years” on the question of delegation. A clumsy showing all around.

Politics consists of excitement, high sentiment, and soaring declarations. Governance is boring.

4. MORE ON SCOTUS: David French zings Chief Justice John Roberts for throwing the administrative state a lifeline in its Kisor ruling. From his analysis:

While there are many cultural and political causes for the growth of the federal administrative leviathan, it could not have become so powerful without considerable assistance from the Supreme Court. The Court has created, often out of whole cloth, judicial doctrines that magnify the problem: Congress is allowed to pass laws delegating its legislative authority to the executive branch; the executive branch, in turn, is given great leeway to interpret those laws as it sees fit; similar leeway applies even when the executive branch interprets its own regulations.

The result is an interlocking system that grants the executive the powers of all three branches of government. It writes the laws, it interprets the laws, and it executes the law. One of the great projects of America’s originalist, classical-liberal judicial revolution has been to overturn this monstrously unconstitutional construct, and today was supposed to represent the first clear victory in the project — overturning the so-called Auer doctrine, the judge-made rule that requires courts to defer to agency interpretations of their own regulations.

That victory did not happen. Justice Roberts intervened and (mostly) saved Auer. The administrative leviathan suffered only the slightest of flesh wounds.

5. EVEN MORE SCOTUS: But, says David, there is a glimpse of hope in Justice Gorsuch’s Davis opinion: The High Court may be set to end Congress’s de facto lawmaking deference to regulators and bureaucrats. From his commentary:

Here’s the plain truth — if you live in a safe red or blue state, you may never in your entire life cast a single meaningful vote to influence the two most powerful instruments of modern governance, the presidency and the judiciary. You’re left with casting votes for the (unintentionally) weakest branch, a legislature that seems to want to do anything but the job the Founders gave it.

Enter Justice Neil Gorsuch, one-man warrior for the constitutional order.

Yesterday, Justice Gorsuch struck his latest blow against a lazy and ineffectual Congress with an opinion that began like this: “In our constitutional order, a vague law is no law at all.” Writing for a five-justice majority (he joined the court’s liberal wing), Justice Gorsuch declared unconstitutional a federal statute that “threatens long prison sentences” on individuals who use firearms when committing crimes “that by [their] nature, involv[e] a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

6. Big Jim Geraghty scored the first Democrat prexy debate and among his many observations was the crashing of one “Beto” O’Rourke. From his analysis:

Wow, does former congressman Beto O’Rourke look like the Lucent stock of the Trump-era Democratic party. He’s no longer in the top five, but several other candidates seemed to relish going after him tonight, particularly Bill de Blasio and Julian Castro. It’s time to call it – he’s thoroughly underwhelming as a debater and wildly overrated as a public speaker. Answering the first question in Spanish, unprompted, looked like a pandering gimmick. He had some better moments as the night progressed, but he was hit so many times by so many other candidates he must have felt like . . . a piñata.

7. The next night, Big Jim encored with a rundown of the second Dem debate. Here’s how that analysis began:

The headline out of tonight’s debate is going to be Kamala Harris starting off the second hour by turning to Joe Biden and just kicking the snot out of him on the previously long-forgotten issue of forced busing in Delaware. No older white male wants to get into a fight about racism with a younger African-American woman in a Democratic presidential primary. Biden tried to defend himself by first contrasting his work as a defense attorney with Harris’ record as a prosecutor, then moved on to a not terribly convincing, “I did not oppose busing in America; I opposed busing ordered by the Department of Education,” and then he cut himself off. Septuagenarians who have been in the Senate longer than I’ve been alive should probably avoid the term, “my time is up.” Biden would have been better off defending his stance on the merits, declaring that busing kids across town to new schools away from their homes was angering parents and exacerbating racial tensions instead of healing them.

One night won’t sink the Joe Biden campaign, but boy, did he look like he had a glass jaw, and he also seems to have aged a decade since he left the vice presidency. When asked what his first priority as president would be, Biden answered that it would be defeating Donald Trump.

8. Rich Lowry finds the appeal of prexy-wannabe Pete Buttigieg to be pretty . . . black and white. Wokeness has its limits. From his column:

The hostility of some of the black residents toward Buttigieg at the town hall underlined his lack of African-American support. In a May poll in South Carolina, Buttigieg was at 18 percent among whites and zero among blacks. An Indiana poll had him at 25 percent among whites and also zero percent among blacks.

Among whites, Buttigieg tends to run like Bernie Sanders, far behind Joe Biden but strong compared with the rest of the pack; among blacks, he runs like Kirsten Gillibrand or another laggard, hardly registering.

Buttigieg doesn’t have the long history with African Americans of Biden or the cultural connection of a Southern pol like Bill Clinton. And blacks aren’t moved by his progressivism in a technocratic guise.

9. The Trump administration’s Drill-Baby-Drill regs are driving green groups batty. They’re flailing and responding with lame safety lawsuits. Robert L. Bradley Jr. gives the play-by-play. From his report:

Recently, green groups including the Sierra Club and EarthJustice filed a lawsuit against Interior’s update. These groups claim the Trump administration is “softening” and “relaxing” safety standards.

That’s not true. The revision simply cuts redundant federal regulations, making it easier for private offshore companies to manage risks, and the department deserves applause for boosting workers’ economic opportunities.

As many as 90 billion barrels of oil and 328 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie buried in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf — the federally owned land beneath the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. To collect these energy riches, oil and gas firms use offshore rigs or platforms to drill wells into the ocean floor.

Interior’s update eliminates bureaucratic red tape around this process. The revision gets rid of redundant tests on wells and blowout preventers, the specialized valves that quickly seal wells to prevent oil spills. Without these repetitive tests, offshore workers have more time to focus on other, more effective safety measures.

10. Nations that reject the rule-of-law premise are hamstringing global economic growth and international trade and underwriting massive criminality, writes John Fund. A new group seeks to ride to the rescue. From his piece:

Across much of the developing world, the corruption of courts and other government institutions threatens the free flow of goods and capital that drives international trade. Left unaddressed, such threats can lead to heightened tensions among nations and even outright trade wars. Diplomats operate under constraints that limit how much they can call out international bad actors who violate the rule of law.

That’s why it’s refreshing that the Global Justice Foundation — a new nonprofit foundation in Washington, D.C. — is dedicated to exposing corruption in other countries, aiding innocent victims caught up in that corruption, and working with like-minded groups to promote good economic practices in countries that want to improve their economic reputation.

The Global Justice Foundation was founded by Canadian businessman Omar Ayesh, who was frustrated after he and hundreds of other victims lost their money in the largest real-estate fraud in the Middle East, the Tameer Holding scandal, a debacle valued at $1.8 billion by courts in Dubai. “I learned there is no group solely dedicated to improving the enforcement of business ethics in other countries and helping make sure people aren’t victimized by fraudsters who try to corrupt the courts and other institutions,” he tells me.

11. This week past marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the bone-headed Versailles Treaty, the creator of fascism . . . wait! Not so fast, says Joseph Loconte: Benito and the boys had already created it months earlier in Milan. From his piece:

With no sense of irony, liberals now invoke fascism as an epithet to dismiss their conservative critics. But is the echo of Mussolini more likely to be heard among the political Right? The animating spirit of fascism — its martial zeal for a statist utopian vision — seems quite welcome in the citadels of modern liberalism. The fascist negation of religious truths, by which all political choices are to be judged, has found countless disciples in progressive circles. The Fascist state “has curtailed useless or harmful liberties while preserving those which are essential,” Mussolini declared. “In such matters, the individual cannot be the judge, but the State only.”

Benito Mussolini was the first political leader to write the epitaph for liberal democracy in Europe. Yet it was liberal democracy, through a recovery of moral vigor, that managed to defeat Fascism. In the Piazza San Sepolcro in Milan, the building in which Mussolini and his followers first vowed to overthrow the established order still stands. It houses a police station. The rule of law has replaced the rule of the dictator. Once worshipped like a god, Mussolini became a pariah because of his disastrous alliance with Hitler’s Germany. He fled Milan in April 1945 but was caught and executed: Shot in the chest, his body was strung up to cheers and mockery.

12. When Roman Catholic bishops start gushing about “Mother Earth” in theological documents, as Declan Leary reports they are doing in preparation for an upcoming synod for indigenous people living in South America’s deep Amazon region, maybe it’s okay to give into the temptation to despair. From his piece:

It follows that such a radical redefinition of our relationship with God — described by Peter Kwasniewski as “decidedly naturalistic and horizontalist, at loggerheads with the supernatural and vertical character of the revealed religion of Christ” — would require, at the very least, a bit of fudging on the definition of God himself. Hence the unqualified and undefended reference to “the Father-Mother Creator God” in the working document. It is a settled question in the Catholic tradition that God is God the Father, and not God the Mother or God the Father-Mother. The identification of God as Father-Mother — and, worse, of Mother Nature as anything other than a ridiculous fiction — is clearly an attempt to make Catholic teaching more readily relatable to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

This is a justifiable pursuit, but it must be carried out within clearly defined limits. The working document calls for “a catechesis . . . that assumes the language and meaning of the narratives of indigenous and Afro-descendant cultures in harmony with the Biblical stories.” This proposal, which embodies the general spirit of the whole document, bursts through those necessary limits. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with assuming the language of indigenous cultures. But to assume the meaning of their myths is inevitably to muddle the truth of the Catholic tradition.

13. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world? Well, Hollywood has lost its touch at making it a smiling one. Kyle Smith spotlights Tinseltown’s failure to tickle the funnybone. From the beginning of his piece:

Hollywood movie studios have stopped making comedies. Thanks, Seth Rogen.

The graph of the box-office performance of Seth Rogen comedies is a dismal sight. Corrected for inflation, Knocked Up (2007) turned out to be his biggest hit, with $149 million in domestic takings. (That’s $195 million in today’s dollars.) As recently as five years ago, Rogen was still a huge draw; Neighbors, in 2014, earned $150 million, or $162 million in today’s dollars.

Since then? The Night Before and Neighbors 2 flopped. This spring, Long Shot marked his first star turn on screen in three years. It made $30 million. That’s less return to the studio than what it costs to put out a movie in wide release in the first place. Rogen’s movies are cheap and yet they’re losing a lot of money, which is why he had to release Long Shot via the mini-major Lionsgate, which, along with another mini-major, STX, and Megan Ellison’s latest plaything, United Artists Releasing, is the movies’ version of a last-chance saloon, or maybe an island of misfit toys.

14. RELATED: NR intern Nate Hochman profiles the tired elitist shtick of British “comedian” Sacha Baron Cohen. From the beginning of his piece:

“Donald Trump got elected, and I was upset by it,” said British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in an interview last week. “That anger and disappointment and revulsion. . . . I was so angry, I felt I actually have to channel it.”

Cohen’s show Who Is America?, which concluded its one-season run last year, was, he says, his attempt to do just that.

One might expect, then, that the show would be a productive, genuine attempt to reach across the aisle and better understand the political forces that elevated Donald Trump to the presidency. But Cohen clearly prefers an alternative approach: He sets out to viciously mischaracterize and ridicule those of whom he disapproves, including virtually anyone who lives outside of the coastal cities or shares a worldview different from Hollywood’s, ranging from Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney to gun-rights advocates to working-class residents of rural Arizona.

15. The campus theater at Bowling Green State University was named for the great actress Lillian Gish (here is a clip of her wonderful late-career performance in The Night of the Hunter). But: She appeared in The Birth of a Nation and cited Ava DuVernay’s propaganda documentary 13th . . . so the college’s Black Student Union had her name removed. Armond White is outraged. From his commentary:

If American art and political history were taught well and seen clearly, more names and voices would be raised in outrage. Gish deserved defense from every filmmaker and arts person in the country for the way she and Griffith distinguished human expression. They invented the expressive close-up, with its insight into psychology and memorable illustration of behavior. Gish is an integral part of America’s complex history. Understanding her work is not just a matter of being more sophisticated than DuVernay, who opportunistically misused The Birth of a Nation and spread disinformation; it’s also a matter of appreciating the moral density of human experience in art.

We see Gish’s extraordinary range as Southerner Elsie Stoneman, innocently caught up in the factional turmoil of The Birth of a Nation’s Civil War; Thomas Hardy’s updated American Tess embodying female delicacy and strength in Way Down East; her idealization with sister Dorothy Gish as siblings separated by warring forces of the French Revolution in Orphans of the Storm; a portrayal of romantic simplicity in True Heart Susie; her embodiment of American moral crisis as Hester in The Scarlet Letter; her ageless, mythic motherhood in Intolerance; and her sound-era roles as the feminine principle in Duel in the Sun; the fearless Christian matriarch in the expressionist Night of the Hunter; a realistic variation on that role in The Unforgiven; a modern confrontation with racist dictatorship in The Comedians; her complex characterization as the officious and repentant Miss Inch in The Cobweb; and finally her iconic girlish matriarch in Altman’s A Wedding.

16. It starts off slowly, but by the time our favorite webslinger gets to the second half of his new flick, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Kyle Smith says there is a lot to like. From his review:

The script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (two of the six writers credited on Homecoming) isn’t nearly as sharp as the previous effort, taking its time to come to the point. A school trip to Europe, starting in Venice, strikes Peter as his big opportunity to make a play for MJ (appealingly played again by Zendaya), who has him in such a tizzy that he keeps ignoring calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Nobody ghosts Nick Fury. But Nick Fury should know better than to put all his chips on a hormonally defined 16-year-old. One funny early scene has Peter using a gadget Tony Stark left for him to try to delete an embarrassing photo on a classmate’s phone but accidentally calling in a drone strike instead.

The first two action set pieces, though, whip up a ho-hum brand of destruction familiar from second-rate blockbusters like X-Men: Apocalypse or The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Four monsters called “Elementals” — personified earth, wind, fire, and water — are wreaking havoc, barely contained by Spider-Man along with a visiting superhero from an alternate version of Earth elsewhere in the multiverse. Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a guy who looks pretty silly with a foggy goldfish bowl on his head, though after he saves the day in Venice and Italian news media start referring to him as “l’uomo di misterio” he at least gets a cool nickname, Mysterio. Beck becomes a kind of replacement for Tony Stark as the cool mentor in Peter’s life, and after appropriate urging from Happy (Jon Favreau, who gets more screen time than usual and doesn’t waste it) and a tongue-lashing from Nick Fury, Peter Parker joins forces with Mysterio to foil the next big attack by the Elementals, this time in Prague. Prague? Peter has this big plan for kissing MJ on top of the Eiffel Tower. Who wants to go to Prague?

17. Armond White figures if you loved The Beatles, you’ll be right to hate Yesterday. From his review:

How brain-dead do you have to be to enjoy Yesterday? It requires a willed ignorance about how culture works and — even harder to fathom — a careless disregard for The Beatles and contempt for every aspect of history they represented. While one can have disdain for any of history’s great artists (you can’t please everybody), Yesterday stands out for director Danny Boyle’s and writer Richard Curtis’s special commitment to cultural revision. They turn history upside down through lighthearted rom-com: American Idol meets Love Actually.

18. Live Action founder Lila Rose explains how Pinterest, among the techs now censorship-infected, is equating pro-life images with porn. From her piece:

The whistleblower at Pinterest also revealed that Pinterest was suppressing and monitoring other pro-life and conservative accounts. According to the insider, “David Daleiden/Planned Parenthood” was added to a list of conspiracy theories that Pinterest monitors. In 2015, David Daleiden exposed executives and staff at Planned Parenthood bartering over the sale of fetal body parts. His investigative work has been used in congressional testimony and court cases, and Coalfire, one of the country’s most trusted digital forensic analysis companies, released a report in 2015 indicating that the undercover videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress are “authentic and show no evidence of manipulation.”

In addition, a “sensitive terms” list for Pinterest reportedly includes terms like “Bible verses,” which the site does not allow to “autocomplete,” instead changing the word “verses” to “versus” or combining the words into nonsensical terms like “versesinspirational.” The site also allegedly monitors commentators Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, and Candace Owens, a female black conservative, for what Pinterest considers “white supremacist” content.

Pinterest’s behavior adds to a growing pattern of censorship all too familiar to us. Both my and Live Action’s accounts have been unable to advertise on Twitter since 2015. After many attempts to contact Twitter, we were finally informed that we would not be permitted to advertise unless we deleted all tweets and any content on our website that included the following: criticism of Planned Parenthood, ultrasound images of preborn children, undercover investigations into abortion facilities, or facts about abortion. In fact, in order to “pay to play” as others do, Twitter informed us that we would have to scrub our Twitter account and our organization’s website of any of the content it deemed offensive. All this while Twitter continued to allow the nation’s largest abortion corporation, Planned Parenthood, and its executives to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting pro-abortion messages on the platform.

19. Andrew Cuomo’s obsession with hating natural gas is harming New Yorkers, and, according to Robert Bryce, most likely, will harm the environment. From the beginning of his analysis:

Thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is awash in natural gas. Since 2005, domestic gas production has nearly doubled, and American companies are now sending liquefied natural gas all over the world, including Chile and China. And pretty soon, U.S. liquid natural gas will be on its way to, of all places, Saudi Arabia.

But good luck getting that gas in Yonkers or New Rochelle.

Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s continuing blockade on new gas pipelines, New York consumers aren’t benefiting from this low-cost, low-carbon fuel. Instead, places such as Westchester County, along with parts of New England, are facing moratoriums on new gas hookups. In addition, earlier this month, with approval from Cuomo, New York legislators passed the Climate and Community Protection Act, which requires 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewables by 2030 and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

Cuomo has dubbed the CCPA “the most aggressive climate change program in the United States of America, period.” Cuomo’s energy policies may be aggressive, but they are also going to hammer the New York economy and New York consumers. They will also — get this – mean higher carbon dioxide emissions.

20. California’s lefty legislators are concocting a transgender-prisoner policy that is going to be a massive threat to women. Madeleine Kearns sounds the alarm. From her piece:

At first glance, the rationale is understandable. The bill outlines how transgender women in prisons are “particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and sexual harassment.” It cites a study noting that they are 13 times more likely than non-transgender inmates in the same prisons to be victims of sexual abuse. And it references official data collected by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics confirming that in a 2011–12 nationwide survey, nearly 40 percent of incarcerated transgender individuals reported experiencing sexual victimization while incarcerated. To be sure, life must be tough for sexual minorities in prison.

But what the bill and its supporters completely neglect to address is the vulnerability of women. The bill does not include any data, information, or even a single reference to the vulnerability of incarcerated females to violent assault from males. This is striking given that more than 90 percent of rape and sexual-assault victims are women and the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by males. No one has yet demonstrated how transgender women pose less of a risk to women than the rest of the male population does. But, at any rate, the bill as drafted fails to set forth any way to stop a male — any male, including sex offenders — who identifies as female from getting access to vulnerable women.

Speaking at the California assembly hearing yesterday, Abigail Lunetta (a self-described “Democrat, feminist, and an advocate for women’s rights”) opposed the bill: “Right now, Richard Masbruch, a trans-identified male, is currently housed with female inmates in Corona, even though he is serving time for targeting, raping, and torturing women. Under no circumstances is this morally justifiable.”

21. This Ain’t No Yarn: Michelle Malkin, columnist and knitter, takes on the Trump-haters running, which has hung up the crocheted sign, Trump Supporters Not Welcome. From her piece:

Janna S. wrote to warn that “while this may not be making waves in the headlines, there is an upswing in conservative censorship that has hit cyberspace.” A group on Ravelry called “The Bunker,” which had more than 200 members who discussed GOP politics and knitting patterns, was singled out and shut down after liberal, pro-Obama members complained about its presence. Ravelry accused the conservative crafters of a “culture of anger and “us versus them” stance.

One of the Bunker’s active members, Melissa, reported to me that Ravelry co-founder Casey Forbes had replied to right-leaning users asking how peacefully expressing their opinions violated their terms of service by “making excuses for the fact that he just doesn’t like conservative people on his website. . . . Many of our members are mothers or grandmothers and are completely harmless. We’ve all been discriminated against because we think and believe differently.”

Meanwhile, rabid leftists who promoted misogynist sweaters slamming Sarah Palin as “c—y” went unpunished. A forum titled “What Would You Do to Sarah Palin” inviting liberal members to post physical threats was allowed to thrive. “The problem here is not that the site owners decided that they didn’t want an active, vocal conservative group on their site. That is certainly their right as site owners,” Melissa noted. “The issue is the double standard and the denigration of the reputations of all members of The Bunker and the injury and/or destruction of some members’ businesses. The far-left is not only tolerated on Ravelry, they are nurtured and encouraged. Their bad behavior goes unchallenged.”

A Symposium

Once upon a time, abortion was “unthinkable.” And then came Harry Blackmun. In 1975, the Human Life Review published an essay by the great Malcolm Muggeridge, “What the Abortion Argument Is About,” and earlier this month, the Review’s editors asked a number of important writers to reflect, as did Muggeridge, on this:

Is, as Muggeridge believed, the transgression of abortion a potential threat to human survival? Could the moral law’s ancient antecedents be revived? Could the country’s traditional Judeo-Christian identity reassert itself, so that abortion might once again become virtually “unthinkable”?

The columnist William Murchison is one of the symposium’s participants. I recommend the entire thing. From his contribution:

Which is what brings us to this present moment, with Alabama and several other states writing into statute the human life protections favored, presumably, by their own citizen-electors, rather than by the semi-Solomons.

It seems hardly likely today’s high court, given the crackling tensions of the moment, would try to throw a 46-year-old revolution completely into reverse. To be sure, in older times, the justices would never have volunteered themselves as moral arbiters. In the age of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, they should have known better than to try and reframe our moral norms—given the moral law’s ancient antecedents, and its claims on democratic thought and action.

Nonetheless, inasmuch as morals and politics often intertwine and contradict each other, here we are: the semi-Solomons at odds with, as polls suggest, nearly half the populace. What a dim and destructive decision, Roe v. Wade. That much the supposedly sovereign people are beginning to figure out for themselves.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti does the forensics on “The Suicide of France.” From the beginning of his analysis:

“Regarding France in 2019, it can no longer be denied that a momentous and hazardous transformation, a ‘Great Switch’, is in the making”, observed the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, Michel Gurfinkiel. He was mourning “the passing of France as a distinct country, or at least as the Western, Judeo-Christian nation it had hitherto been presumed to be”. A recent cover story in the weekly Le Point called it “the great upheaval.”

Switch or upheaval, the days of France as we knew it are numbered: the society has lost its cultural center of gravity: the old way of life is fading and close to “extinction.” “Frenchness” is disappearing and being replaced by a kind balkanization of enclaves not communicating with one another. For the country most affected by Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, this is not a good recipe.

The French switch is also becoming geographical. France now appears split between “ghettos for the rich” and “ghettos for the poor”, according to an analysis of the electoral map by France’s largest newspaper, Le Monde. “In the poorest sector, 6 out of 10 newly settled households have a person born abroad”, notes Le Monde. A kind of abyss now separates peripheral France — small towns, suburbs and rural areas – from the globalized metropolis of the “bourgeois Bohemians”, or “bobos.” The more the French élites with their disposable incomes and cultural leisure cloister themselves in their enclaves, the less likely it is that they will understand the everyday impact of failed mass immigration and multiculturalism.

2. At Reason, Nick Gillespie looks at the polls and explains why Democrat internecinity (did I just coin a new word?) over Socialism — with the -ophiles winning — will win Donald Trump a second term. From his analysis:

On the other, more consequential hand, that same poll underscores why Trump is almost certainly going to win reelection in 2020. One of the questions asked Democratic voters whether they will vote for a candidate with a “bold, new agenda” or one “who will provide steady, reliable leadership.” Fully three-quarters of respondents want the latter, with just 25 percent interested in the sort of “bold, new agenda” that virtually all Democratic candidates are peddling so far. This finding is consistent with other polling that shows that Democratic voters are far more moderate than their candidates. Even allowing for a doubling of self-described Democrats who identify as liberal over the past dozen years, Gallup found last year that 54 percent of Democrats support a party that is “more moderate” while just 41 percent want one that is “more liberal.”

Yet with the exception of Joe Biden (more on him in a minute), all of the Democratic candidates—certainly the leading ones—are pushing a massively expansionist agenda, thus putting themselves at odds with their own base. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All would cost $37 trillion in new spending over a decade and his free-college plan would cost the federal government about $47 billion a year. He plans to spend much, much more, as does Elizabeth Warren, who is running on promises to spend $3.3 trillion over a decade in new giveaways that will be paid for by an unworkable, probably unconstitutional “wealth tax” that will at best raise $2.75 trillion.

3. Face it: Politics is part and parcel of gerrymandering. And if you think “independent” commissions — being advocated by House Democrats on H.R. 1 — can take the partisan tilt out of creating voting districts, a new study by Capital Research Center’s Michael Watson says you are sorely wrong. From the report:

Another major finding repudiates the idea that states which use purportedly independent commissions to draw Congressional districts end up more “fair”—that is, produce state delegations that are closer to the state’s proportional Democratic/Republican vote—than do states that draw their districts under a legislative, judicial, or politician‐commission system. From 2010 through 2018, states with “independent” commissions deviated no less, and in the current Congress deviate far more, from the D’Hondt proportional allocation than states that did not use such commissions.

California, long a model for left‐of‐center electoral “reforms”—including independent redistricting commissions, top‐two primaries, and extended voting periods—has been especially “unfair” for election after election, when judged by the proportional representation standard. In all the election cycles studied, California deviated by at least 9 percentage points in favor of excess Democrats (5 of its 53 seats) in each election. In its 2018 election, California produced a dramatically disproportionate result: it returned the Democrats an “extra” ten seats relative to the statewide vote proportion.

4. At The American Conservative, Adam Candeub weighs in on the social-media “Section 230” debate. From his analysis:

But what is particularly bizarre, ironic, and deeply destructive to public discourse is that, though Congress passed Section 230 to promote a free and open internet, Facebook, Twitter, and Google now use it to advocate for an open internet while at the same time justifying their censorship regimes.

On one hand, Twitter, Google, and the other internet platforms often advocate for an open and free internet with no restrictive gatekeepers who would block or throttle disfavored content—i.e., the policy generically known as “network neutrality.” However, they advocate for an open and free internet only when faced with broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast that could block their services. In 2017, Zuckerberg wrote that broadband providers should not be allowed to “block you from seeing certain content.” Similarly, Twitter’s lobbyists argued that Verizon and Comcast should not be permitted to “block content they don’t like” and/or relegate “certain content to the backwaters of the Internet in second or third-tier status.”

On the other hand, Facebook, Twitter, and Google seem to embrace a principle of “an open internet for thee but not for me” when it comes to their own platforms. And much of the country has yet to comprehend the power they seek to wield through discriminatory network practices. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained to podcaster Sam Harris that Twitter does not “optimize for neutrality” when moderating speech, despite the company’s professed support for “net neutrality.” He didn’t specify which values Twitter does optimize, but Columbia University’s Richard Hanania found that over 95 percent of high-profile bans have targeted those on the Right.

5. At the University of California, Berkeley, reports Maria Lencki for The College Fix, students are being offered ten specialized orientations. Because . . . multiculturalism. From the article:

The university also hosts an Asian Pacific Student Orientation, an event which honors Asian American, Filipino and Pacific Islander students. Similar to the black student programs, the Asian Pacific orientation “addresses the specific transitional and community needs of Asian American, Pilipinx, and Pacific Islander students.”

The Chicanx Latinx Student Development Center likewise hosts a program called “Familia Orientation” to “address specific transitional and Community needs of the Chicanx and Latinx students” through “resource fair, community building and speakers.” The orientation was designed to help students “learn how to thrive on campus as Latinx and Chicanx students.”

One of the university’s more unique orientations is the Native Student Orientation which serves Native American students. The Native American Student Development Center also has a recruitment and retention center to increase the number of native students in higher education.

That student center “exists to serve and support the diverse and changing needs of Native students in their time at Cal” and “provide relevant, accessible and engaging programs and resources, promote intertribal and cross cultural approaches to community building with a social justice lens.”

6. At American Enterprise Institute, Jay P. Greene’s paper explores the missing components — morality and religion — from social and emotional learning. From his study:

Let us consider each challenge in turn. “Social and emotional learning” may be a new term, but it represents a set of educational priorities that are as old as education itself. In the past, this has been called character education. Advocates suggest SEL is more than just character education. But it seems to me that the basis of SEL is what we’ve long considered character education.

Indeed, it would appear that advocates, perhaps disliking the moral judgment that the word “character” connotes, wish to downplay SEL’s moral and religious roots and prefer instead to rebrand the concept on a modern and scientific basis. This is a mistake. SEL’s long history has much to teach us about how these efforts succeed. And embracing the moral and religious roots helps the movement avoid reinventing old concepts by stripping them of what many people find appealing and motivational.

BONUS: At The American Spectator, Paul Kengor debunks the claim, made by Reagan biographer Paul Spit, that The Gipper impregnated girlfriend Margaret “Mugs” Cleaver when they were students at Eureka College. From his report:

Nonetheless, Spitz’s material (or lack thereof) presented on Margaret Cleaver, young Reagan’s love, getting pregnant, and possibly terminating the pregnancy illegally, has no foundation. It is speculation not only without proof but repudiated by existing evidence to the contrary.

This needs to be corrected. Mugs and Dutch eventually grew apart, in part because she was not attracted to the celebrity limelight so appealing to her beau. She married someone else, lived a quiet and honorable life as a wife and mother and grandmother, and is now past defending herself. The historical record of a future president and the reputation and good name of one of the most important people in young Reagan’s life deserve a fully accurate account.


Yours Truly recently caught the old slugger Frank Thomas, 90 years young, being interviewed by Ed Randall on WFAN, and it prompted a look at Thomas’s long career, which was noteworthy: He was a three-time All Star, clubbed 286 home runs, and, along with Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, and Eddie Mathews, set a major-league record hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back dingers in the 7th inning against the Reds on June 8, 1961. Plus, he wore the uniforms of seven teams. But his career was also somewhat uniquely dispiriting.

In his 16 seasons, Thomas was stuck on some of the worst clubs of the 1950s and 60s, beginning with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1951, a sign of terrible years to come: They had a string of epic basement-dwelling seasons. As did the New York Mets, who Thomas played for in their first three seasons. As did the Cubs in 1960 and 1961, and again in 1966. As did the Astros in 1965. Here are some of the more painful seasons (and there are plenty of them):

1951    Pirates             64-90

1952    Pirates             42-112

1953    Pirates             50-104

1954    Pirates             53-101

1955    Pirates             60-94

1960    Cubs                60-94

1961    Cubs                64-90

1962    Mets                40-120

1963    Mets                51-111

1964    Mets                53-109

1965    Astros              65-97

1966    Cubs                59-103

No matter how much of a stinker his team was, Thomas played hard and gave his all. Traded to the contending Phillies in August 1964, he went on a tear, hitting seven homers and driving in 26 runs in a month, when he broke his thumb in a September 8 makeup loss to the Dodgers. Out for two weeks, the Phillies collapsed in one of baseball’s more infamous September swoons. But for that thumb . . .

A Dios

The week ahead features the 243rd birthday of this great nation. Yours Truly was a Bicentennial Freak: On the 200th birthday, abetted by diaper pins, said freak engineered clothing — and an old cowboy hat — to create the look of a patriot, and having done that, grabbed an American flag, and ran around our Bronx neighborhood yelling “HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!” A distraught younger sibling gave constant chase, howling “YOU ARE EMBARRASSING OUR FAMILY!” Truth be told, given our record, it was a very difficult thing to embarrass. All that said and remembered, do find time on the Fourth to thank God for the blessings of liberty.

All the Very Best to You, Yours, and to These United States,

Jack Fowler

Who is happy to receive missives complementing Old Glory and criticizing his poor use of grammar at

National Review

Hong Kong Phooey

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Greetings on this first official weekend of the summer of 2019. Did you spend last night doing solstice tricks? If only to distract from global madness maybe.

Although invited several times by my former NR colleague Bill McGurn, the great Wall Street Journal “Main Street” columnist who did two tours of duty in Hong Kong for the paper’s Asian edition and for the old Far Eastern Economic Review, I never visited the former British colony, now erupting in protests for the freedoms the residents of the island-bastion of free markets once enjoyed, their liberties deliberately reduced year-by-year by the Red China promise-breaking overlords who regained control of Hong Kong (as a “special administrative region”) in 1997. Barely a memory is The World of Suzie Wong.

A staggering number of residents have taken to the streets in protest of an extradition law. We opine on such below. For want of a nail: Is little Hong Kong’s ire the light that might blow the rotten Commie system to Kingdom Come (the basement version)? That’s doubtful. But pray on it. Literally. Who knows what might happen then?

Bill’s most recent column described the scene, the good guys and bad ones, the consequences likely and far-fetched. Here’s a slice of it:

For any protest anywhere, a million marchers would be extraordinary. In Hong Kong, it means 1 out of every 7 people. Yet unlike in 2003, this time the government has reaffirmed it intends to ignore public opinion. In any halfway representative society, Chief Executive Carrie Lam would have to resign. Instead, she insists the measure will move through LegCo on Wednesday as planned.

It’s a clarifying moment. China has been moving the goal posts on Hong Kong’s freedoms ever since laying its hands on the territory in 1997. Ms. Lam has now shown the world that the interests her government serves aren’t Hong Kong’s but Beijing’s.

Feelings are running high. Sunday’s protesters carried signs declaring “no evil law.” The American Chamber of Commerce warns that “there are too many uncertainties” and questions why the extradition amendment “should be rushed through.” In the Nikkei Asian Review, Jimmy Lai, the pro-democracy chairman of the media company Next Digital, warns it invites corruption: “Even without actual extradition, any time a Communist Party official wants something from a Hong Kong business leader, the businessman will have to weigh the costs of meeting that demand against the potential of extradition to the mainland.”

Kurt Tong, the U.S. consul general to Hong Kong, has been similarly frank. In a May interview that appears on the consulate’s webpage, the American envoy took a dig at the government’s reassurances that Hong Kongers had nothing to worry about. “Fear,” he said, “is an interesting emotion because you can tell someone don’t be afraid but that’s not going to make them not be concerned.”

Lots and lots more below on China. And yes, you’ll still be hungry for NR content after consuming all of it.

But Before You Hit the Links . . .

I want to encourage you to sign up for the NR 2019 Canada / New England Conservative Cruise, scheduled for August 24–31, commencing in Montreal and visiting terrific ports before ending in Boston. Get complete information at


1. The people of Hong Kong are “doing something right, honorable, and brave.” Their demonstrations for freedom deserve more than lip service from President Trump. From our editorial:

Yet the protest in Hong Kong had a more general object. Citizens are intent on keeping their freedoms, or not letting them go without a fight.

When the British turned over the city to the Chinese Communist Party in 1997, the promise was “one country, two systems,” for 50 years. This was always chimerical. Year by year, month by month, the CCP has been chipping away at Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Party will not tolerate Hong Kong’s brash, uppity independence until 2047.

Five years ago, democratic protests broke out. These were dubbed the “umbrella movement,” because people used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray. Earlier this year, eight leaders of the movement were sentenced. One of them, Chan Kin-man, a retired sociology professor, said, “In the verdict, the judge commented that we are naïve” (naïve to believe that a protest movement can attain, or retain, democracy). “But what is more naïve than believing in one country, two systems?”

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Click Here and Expect Not-Amazing Conservative Wisdom

1. Michael Brendan Dougherty, desirous of privacy, is rightly spooked by Silicon Valley’s data-massing. And maybe, eavesdropping. From the get-go of his essay:

It at least can feel like you’re being spied on by Silicon Valley. Sometimes the ads that are served to us on our phones have a spooky quality that makes it seem like we are being tracked and even heard by advertisers, though the latter is hotly denied and may be infeasible. This weekend, my wife, the kids, and I spent time at my in-laws’ for Father’s Day celebrations. My children played on a little toy roller coaster for outdoors that their grandmother had bought for them. The next day, Amazon advertised the same product to us. We know Amazon can see the connection between my in-laws’ household and our own. It knows we have kids who are the right age to play. But was it actually serving us this ad based on a good guess from our location data and my in-laws’ purchase history that we might have enjoyed this toy?

Late on Sunday night, we were drinking a bottle of Argentine wine. For some reason, it made me think of an Australian wine, and I asked my wife if she would like to go back and live there as she did for just three months in 2006. Even though she lived then in the central business district of Sidney, she said she would prefer Melbourne. Within an hour, Facebook showed her a viral article about how Melbourne is the happiest city. Very likely it was a coincidence, but it didn’t feel that way.

2. RELATED: Jess Maga believes there is a sensible, middle-ground way to approach the protection of user privacy from Big Data. From his analysis:

Yes, the vast amounts of data collected by companies around the world should shock even the least privacy-conscious individual. How collected data is handled by these companies also largely remains shrouded in mystery, and that lack of transparency is a problem for anyone who believes in better educating consumers and letting the market correct itself. The best methods for protection are to remain aware of the permissions apps are requesting from your devices, download apps only from trusted developers, and consider installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on devices with information that you wish to keep secure while interacting with the Internet.

There still exists a legitimate need for information to be collected by companies if they are to maintain and improve the services virtual consumers use every day. Nor will there ever be a way to guarantee complete online privacy or data security to consumers; anyone who uses the Internet should recognize that doing so inevitably carries some risk. But something like Rubio’s proposal, which aims to extend pre-Internet privacy protections to the web, would be sensible. Holding tech companies accountable for the same sorts of data spillage that would violate the law if they came from a “traditional” or “analog” company seems to be a much simpler solution than a complete digital firewall designed by the oldest members of Congress and put in place to protect consumers from themselves.

3. John Fund attended the premier of Phelim McAleer’s FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers — the new play that features actors Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson reading the gooey / political texts and testimony of notorious FBI extra-marital-affairing FBI colleagues Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. From his piece:

Playing the adulterous FBI lovers, Cain and Swanson made the most of this material. Reading their text messages from binders on stage, they played the couple as smug, immature, smirking know-it alls, but Cain and Swanson also read aloud the couple’s emojis and exaggerated punctuation for added emphasis. Every reference to a text that ended with a “winky face” or “five exclamation points” was met with howls of laughter from the audience.

Cain plans to support President Trump in 2020 but told me after the play that he is a political independent who is “super liberal” on all the social issues. But he does wonder why Hollywood has so been so resistant to balancing its comic savaging of the Trump White House. “Tonight was sort of a Saturday Night Live thing,” he told the Washington Post at the play’s after-party last week. “Why aren’t they [SNL] making fun of Strzok and Page?”

Good question. Playwright Phelim McAleer, who along with his wife Ann McElhinney has produced several conservative films financed by Internet crowdsourcing, says the answer is obvious. “The Left dominates the arts to such an extent, they refuse to produce plays or movies even if they know they’ll be popular and the material is gold,” he told me. McAleer notes that the play’s original theater venue in Washington, D.C., tore up the contract with McAleer after they learned more about the content of FBI Lovebirds. “They claimed they had one angry threat and had to cancel, but we get threatening tweets by the hour.”

4. America’s Roman Catholic bishops have met to consider the scandals. Declan Leary finds them a sorry and incompetent and even ugly lot. From his report:

A procedural crackdown is necessary, to be sure. But a plan and an institution that are by nature and habit reactive cannot possibly meet the challenges that face the USCCB. Does anybody seriously believe that clearer guidelines for reporting abuse after the fact will solve the problem? Does nobody recognize the moral and cultural rot that has brought us to this point in the first place? It is probably no coincidence that the peak of the crisis (from the late 1960s to the early ’80s, roughly) accompanied one of recent history’s most dramatic shakeups in Church culture, and that abuse declined dramatically with the restoration of order and tradition after the post-conciliar dust had settled. The Church, especially in America, has progressed by leaps and bounds on this issue in recent years, but this has largely been a result of careful cultural adjustments and increased standards and formation in seminaries. The major procedural reforms (e.g., the Dallas Charter) have mostly been ineffective and highly controversial. That may be because the problem, and consequently its solution, have never been about procedure.

Nevertheless, over three days that feel as long as the two millennia these men seem desperate to forget, the bishops debate meticulously on the ins and outs of the new guidelines for reporting, investigation, and accountability. “Meticulously” is the right word, though not in any positive sense. It’s like watching the proceedings of a struggling student government or a small-time city council. They even have a parliamentarian, though he’s had trouble with his flight and has to show up late. His name is Schnurr (Dennis Schnurr, archbishop of Cincinnati), a bit of onomatopoeia that must give voice to general public feelings toward the USCCB.

Some of the questions might raise some eyebrows. (One bishop seems particularly concerned that sexual improprieties between a bishop and a consenting adult should not be treated too harshly.) Most of them are just procedural. (How will the proposal to apply the Dallas Charter to bishops work, since we can’t write letters of suitability for ourselves? Will mandating the participation of lay experts in investigations nationwide solve the problem? Are we allowed to do that?)

5. How truly demented are Red China’s leaders, who, as Wesley Smith explains, continue to “strip mine” political prisoners — especially Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic Uyghurs — of their livers, kidneys, you name it (all up for sale on the black market!)? The answer is: in the extreme. From his Corner post:

This is unspeakably evil. But the vaunted international community doesn’t have the fortitude to pressure China into actually stopping this horror, nor do countries and large companies want to lose the money that would result from taking such action. These faults and weaknesses being a given, we certainly shouldn’t expect China to do the moral thing any time soon.

Still, there has been too much reporting for too long about this profound human-rights abuse to ethically continue to look the other way. The question thus becomes: Will the U.S. specifically outlaw traveling to China for the purpose of buying an organ — just as we do participating in pedophilia tourism overseas? (Spain, Israel, Italy, and Taiwan have passed such laws already.) I can’t think of one argument against pursuing such a course.

If we don’t at least do what we can, it seems to me that we make ourselves complicit in allowing the demand for black-market organs forcibly harvested from murdered prisoners to continue unimpeded — and the blood of the slaughtered victims will also be on us.

6. Oberlin Encore. Conservatives continue to spread the word on the big boomerang that has klunked the thick skull of the Academy Left. Rich Lowry explains what happens when the Woke get Whacked. From his new column:

Now, an Ohio jury has identified an entirely new variety, woke privilege, and resolved to hold people who believe they are protected by it to account.

The jury handed down a staggering $11 million verdict against Oberlin for a smear campaign against a local business, and it awarded another $33 million in punitive damages to the targeted mom-and-pop store, Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery.

The damages will certainly be reduced, but the verdict is a shot across the bow of well-heeled institutions tempted to join social-justice mobs.

Oberlin thought that it could defame Gibson’s as racist with impunity, that the hothouse rules of campus politics applied (i.e., anyone accused of racism is ipso facto guilty of racism), and that no one would question its superior righteousness and cultural power vis-à-vis a mere local business.

7. Kevin Williamson looks at moral relativism, and absolutism, and sees where conservatism fits. From his essay:

The Right has always been comfortable with moral ambiguity, most plainly in the matter of foreign policy. That was especially true in the Cold War, when conservatives went to great lengths — often too far, and sometimes far too far — defending such characters as Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet as bulwarks against Communism. F. A. Hayek’s overwhelming admiration for the Chilean dictator was sufficient to inspire a chiding letter from Margaret Thatcher, who described the general’s methods as “quite unacceptable.” Nelson Mandela was the leader of a revolutionary Communist movement and refused to foreswear political violence, but what he was up against was not a Madisonian republic. Perhaps it was the demands of political rhetoric, but conservatives have from time to time failed to cleave to the knowledge that necessary evil is evil.

And these calculations were not limited to foreign affairs. Consider the watershed moment that was the debate over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Buckley had opposed the 1964 law, but there were few more trenchant critics of George Wallace’s racial record when the segregationist ran for president in 1968. There were — and are — legitimate concerns that the federal approach to civil rights, particularly in the matter of “public accommodations,” invited invasive micromanagement and created real constitutional problems. (It is the reason we are still having a debate over outlaw bakers.) There were political calculations at work, too, to be sure: Barry Goldwater, who had been an important civil-rights advocate in Arizona and in federal office, pronounced himself eager to “hunt where the ducks are.” But the fact was, and is, that the question is morally and politically complicated, and that there are good-faith reasons for disagreement about the legal particulars.

8. “. . . High taxes and poor social services, premodern infrastructure and utilities, poor transportation, tribalism, gangs, and lack of security.” Victor Davis Hanson is describing America’s first Third World state . . . the allegedly “golden” one: California. From his essay:

California’s transportation system, to be honest, remains in near ruins. Despite the highest gas taxes in the nation, none of its major trans-state freeways — not the 99, not I-5, not the 101 — after 70 years off use, are yet completed with six lanes, resulting in dangerous bottlenecks and wrecks. Driving the 99 south of Visalia, or the 101 near Paso Robles, or the 5 north of Coalinga is right out of Road Warrior — but not as dangerous as the fossilized two-line feeder lines such as 152 into Gilroy, or the 41 west of Kettleman City. The unspoken transportation credo of Jerry Brown’s aggregate 16 years as governor apparently was “If you don’t build it, maybe they won’t need it.”

Meanwhile the concrete carcass of the recently cancelled multibillion-dollar high-speed rail system dots the skyline over Fresno. Bureaucrats now insist that more billions must be spent to ensure that a short segment of the least traveled route will be finished, though they obviously do not anticipate spurring a new tourist or commercial corridor between Merced and Bakersfield.

High-speed-rail gurus insist on salvaging something of the boondoggle not because they have an economic rationale justifying more dollars — they would be far better invested in improving freeways, airports, and rails — but largely out of pride and shame that demand some small token rescued from a very bad pipe dream.

9. The winnowing of the Tory-leader field has happened, but it is worthwhile, even in retrospect, to examine the handicapping John O’Sullivan provides. From his analysis:

Boris will be susceptible to pressure in the few months after he becomes leader, and both Leavers and Remainers have expressed fears or hopes that Boris is so unreliable that he will turn on his current supporters and find some way to betray them and Brexit when its difficulties become apparent. Now, I don’t buy this picture of Boris nor the predictions, shaped by a Remain media, of the near-impossible difficulties of Brexit. But many Tory MPs either believe both or, to be more precise, hope that they’re true. They might gradually drift back towards the delusion Stewart embodies, that they can risk the softest of soft Brexits without electoral catastrophe.

Three factors argue not.

10. The suburbs deserve to come in for a hit, says NR intern James Sutton, for their role in the housing crises affecting California’s big cities. From his piece:

But a large source of the affordability crisis actually lies outside the purview of the city governments. Cities, after all, are not the only places where people live. California cities, especially in the north, exist within a complex ecosystem of smaller cities, suburbs, and towns. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, for example, all lie within the nine counties of the Bay Area. Los Angeles makes up the heart of the sprawling Southland, bounded by Ventura County, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.

These suburbs, from the tract-home vastness of Orange County to the idyllic small towns of Marin, are leaving cities to shoulder the housing crunch alone. While the state sets regional housing targets on eight-year cycles, enforcement is incredibly weak, and many municipalities fall far short of reaching their goals.

On top of all of this, suburban communities, having lower density to begin with, resist building housing the most. The somewhat impenetrable process by which regions assign housing targets to municipalities tends to leave larger cities holding the rope; small, wealthy suburban communities often have laughably low targets. Beverly Hills, for example, has to add only three units during the current cycle.

For all the press that urban NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) voters get, the suburbs are where NIMBYs have really conquered all before them. Towns with high rates of home ownership have seen meteoric rises in home prices since 2008, and homeowners enthusiastically organize to protect their investments. Small-town politicians live in fear of backlash from angry residents who oppose almost all new housing.

11. Jay Nordlinger has a long and deeply interesting chat with Natan Sharansky, and memorializes it. From his article:

Charles Krauthammer told me something else, concerning Sharansky: He came out of nine years in the Gulag basically untouched, unscarred — in mental and emotional balance. “It’s as though he had gone to the Caribbean to lie on the beach for nine years,” Charles said. I mentioned this to Bukovsky, when we talked several weeks ago. The same was true of him, he said (twelve years in the Gulag): “If they don’t break you, you come out all right. If they do — you don’t.”

Does Sharansky agree? Yes, he does.

I remember something from his book, Fear No Evil. For a time, he was able to study the Bible alongside a fellow zek, a fellow prisoner, a Christian named Volodya. They called their study sessions “Reaganite readings.” Why? Because they had heard that the American president declared a particular year — 1983 — the “Year of the Bible.”

Here in the coffee shop, I ask Sharansky about Volodya: What became of him? Does he know? Has he ever seen him, post-Gulag? Yes. The man was a Christian activist, and he taught French to earn a living.

Nine years in the Gulag were hard, of course — very. Almost unspeakably so. In Israel, Sharansky spent nine years in politics: 1996 to 2005. These were not easy either, he says, in their own ways. (Sharansky was the head of four different ministries plus deputy prime minister.)

I remember well that Sharansky argued against an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that it would be very bad for Israelis and perhaps worse for Palestinians, who needed to build up democratic institutions, else they would be at the mercy of extremists. Does he still believe that the withdrawal was a mistake? “Of course,” he says. “And I argued and argued with Arik about it” (“Arik” being Ariel Sharon, who was prime minister in this period).

12. Kyle Smith has seen Toy Story 4 and says the franchise, like the bread left overnight on the kitchen counter, has gone stale. From his review:

Despite the film’s quick pace and breezy good nature, the overall effect is mediocre, and TS4 is easily the weakest effort in the series so far (the correct ranking of the four is, of course, 2, 1, 3, and then 4). Most of its narrative energy is expended on a question that doesn’t matter much even within the movie. As Woody and Forky try to make their way back home, someone points out that “Kids lose toys all the time.” Quite so: Kids freak out over a lost toy, just as they will bawl nonsensically about a hundred other things (“I don’t want the blue cup, I want the PURPLE CUP!!!”). But give them 15 minutes and a snack and they’ll move on. So why should we care whether any given toy gets reunited with its kid, much less care enough to sit through a movie about it? In previous Toy Story installments, we cared because the toys had feelings and would be crushed if they weren’t played with. Here, that motive is abandoned: The suggestion is that toys can be perfectly happy, maybe even more self-actualized, living on their own. The kid, in this movie, doesn’t really need the toys, and the toys don’t really need the kid. Oh.

13. Not liking Toy Story 4, for other reasons (consumerist indoctrination), is Armond White. From his review:

In Toy Story 4, the familiar characters including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), are joined by a new creation: Forky (Tony Hale) is not an expensively manufactured doll but a doohickey handmade by Bonnie, this story’s new human child progenitor (a mixed-race girl to replace the original white boy Andy). Bonnie invests wishing into Forky, a plastic spork outfitted with pipe-cleaner arms and pasted-on eye decals. No different from a perfectly used ragdoll, Forky recalls the lonely desperation of Blade Runner’s toymaker who said he made his friends himself. But that notion is even darker and more complicated than Pixar’s nihilistic Wall-E. Thus, Bonnie’s awkward, Asperger-spectrum imagination brings unfair competition to Pixar’s toy-movie monopoly, so Forky is characterized as a snarky, neurotic outcast, an existential threat to the regular toy characters who are easily marketable tie-in products.

Toy Story 4’s unsurprising journey-home plot confirms that Pixar practices Big Tech industrial hypnotism. Fans — Pixarnoids — who don’t think outside the toy chest, or even care about the development of ideas, will settle for routine, politically correct placation. This comes in the form of Woody’s old flame Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who returns from the first film as a newly empowered woman. She even instructs Woody about “change.”

14. There’s a new HBO series called Euphoria, and Kyle has seen Episode One. Maybe you won’t want to. From the beginning of his review:

Of HBO’s new series Euphoria, its creator and writer Sam Levinson says, “There are going to be parents who are going to be totally f***ing freaked out.” There is no “but” coming. The freak-out is the point, at least if the premiere episode is to be believed. HBO needs a zeitgeist-capturing successor to Sex and the City and Girls, so Euphoria seems to have been formulated on a mission to make the latter seem quaint and the former positively Victorian. The one-hour pilot contains material beyond what is ordinarily found in even an R-rated movie, including a teen nearly perishing in a drug overdose, a shot of an erect penis and a spectacularly awful scene of a transgender girl getting sodomized by a middle-aged man. There’s also a teen slashing herself, nudity of the barely legal variety, two teens having sex in a swimming pool at a party in full view of others filming the act on their phones, a teen fooling her mom about a drug test after affixing a bottle of someone else’s urine to her thigh, a scene in which a seemingly gentle boy chokes his sweetheart during sex because that’s how he’s seen things go in porn videos, plus lots of scenes of teens being nasty, vindictive, and duplicitous. Judd Apatow’s 21-year-old daughter Maude is in there somewhere, but at least she isn’t the one getting sodomized. Whatever can Levinson be saving for episode two, airing Sunday? A montage of 17 penises, according to reports. Can’t hardly wait. Levinson has said he wanted the scene to feature “like, 80 more.” Let’s hear it for restraint! 

Sex and the City and Girls were original, witty, and astute television shows, but Euphoria seems to mistake being shocking for being interesting. After an hour of relentlessly grueling material I was reminded not of any previous HBO show but of Kids, the rebarbative, now-forgotten 1995 movie about bored/alienated/drugged youth its producer/publicist Harvey Weinstein turned into a cultural event for about ten minutes, until people actually saw the thing. (It grossed $7 million, so it sold roughly one ticket for every think piece written about it.) Like Euphoria, Kids implicitly asked the public, “Please notice how outrageous we are. Please?” Levinson is really pushing for “Conservatives in a Tizzy over Euphoria” headlines. I don’t doubt that he’ll get them. Is he trying to do anything more?

15. Armond pays tribute to the late Franco Zeffirelli, whom he dubs “an unlikely conservative hero.” From his reflection:

Zeffirelli may not appear to be a conservative’s ideal, but his film oeuvre signifies the social engagement, and a preserve of spiritual values, that conservatives have lost during the culture wars of the past several decades.

Starting with The Taming of the Shrew (1967), with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, one could dismiss Zeffirelli’s Shakespeare updates as examples of boisterous, jet-set fluff. But the classically trained Zeffirelli was one of those conservatives fully able to converse with the public on terms analogous to new Vatican rulings — he looked at tradition and convention with modern sincerity, and added Liz & Dick’s movie-star glamour.

This was the gift of Zeffirelli’s pop art, which peaked with Romeo and Juliet and then redefined itself with his surprisingly devout 1973 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, in which he appropriated a biography of St. Francis of Assisi as an allegory for the post-hippie Jesus-freak movement. The film plays out a rejection of bourgeois values through a new pair of comely performers, Graham Faulkner as Francis and Judi Bowker as St. Clare, both embodying hippie camaraderie at a precise stage of Christian benevolence — the era’s ingenuous sanctification of long-haired poverty-chic, replete with infectious songs by pop star Donovan.

16. More Kyle: FX has a #MeToo-enhanced show called Fosse/Verdun that Kyle argues should really be called (and conceived as) Fosse. It is a most-illuminating rant. From the review:

How, the creators and their bosses wondered, should they work #MeToo into the show? Correct answer: They should have ignored it and carried on as planned. Actual answer: Just as #MeToo morphed almost instantaneously from a movement about punishing sexual misbehavior in men to an affirmative-action reparations/hiring policy for Hollywood women, the makers of Fosse/Verdon decided they had to apply a sort of retroactive affirmative-action admittance policy to the genius club, or at least to the important-figures club. Hence Gwen Verdon, a forgotten hoofer whose work barely survives anywhere unless you count the memory of elderly Broadway veterans, had to be sanctified and made the equivalent of Fosse, a larger-than-life figure who directed Sweet Charity, Pippin, and Chicago on Broadway and the films Cabaret, Lenny, and All That Jazz. Sure, the series tells us, Cabaret was a revolutionary screen musical unlike anything ever seen before on screen and won eight Oscars (including one for Fosse over Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather), but did you know Verdon picked the gorilla costume used in the “If You Could See Her from My Eyes” number? Clearly the whole movie would have fallen apart with a lesser costume.

I’m wondering how far #MeToo feminism is going to take its logic. Maybe next year we’ll get a show called Rembrandt/Mrs. Rembrandt. No! Foolishness. What am I thinking? It would have to be Mrs. Rembrandt/Rembrandt. Still not enough. She had a name, you know. Saskia van Uylenburgh/Rembrandt. Actually, who cares about Rembrandt? Men’s stories have been told for too long. Time for some herstory. Coming soon on FX: Saskia. Do we know enough about Saskia to fill up eight hours of television? Never mind. We’ll just imagine her being suffering yet proud, suffused with unrecognized brilliance, a woman ahead of her time. It’ll sweep the Emmys. Get Michelle Williams on the phone; she’ll play it to the hilt. (You think I’m joking: The New Republic’s television critic Rachel Syme wrote “Fosse/Verdon is a pas de deux. . . . Part of me wishes it was a solo.” Guess which character she considers expendable?)

17. What is the point of having a border, wonders Mark Krikorian, if there are no consequences to defying it. And more than wonder, he backslaps President Trump’s announcement to deport illegals. From his Corner post:

But it isn’t just bloviation, despite claims to the contrary (CNN, for example, called the tweet “a populist launchpad for his reelection campaign”). What Trump was referring to is a plan by ICE to find and remove recent illegal-immigrant families from Central America who have gone through the whole asylum process, failed to win their cases, were ordered deported (i.e., received a “final order of removal”), but are still here. As the Washington Post noted, “According to Homeland Security officials, nearly all unauthorized migrants who came to the United States in 2017 in family groups remain present in the country.” In fact, virtually none of the “unaccompanied” minors and families who’ve infiltrated across the border since Obama sparked the border crisis in 2012 with his DACA decree has been removed, despite that fact that only a small share of them actually managed to get asylum.

So Central American illegal aliens need only to bring a minor with them across the border, turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, say they fear return, and they’ll not only be released into the U.S. but if they lose their asylum case (or never bother to apply at all, which is true about half the time), they’ll get to stay forever anyway? A more powerful incentive to rush northward cannot be imagined.

The New, July 8, 2019, Issue of National Review Is Hot Off the Press. Here Are Four Pieces That Will No Doubt Monopolize Your Attention and Thoughts.

As ever, we remind readers that there is an instant way to have access to these magazine pieces, which appear on our website days — if not weeks — before the Mail Man sticks them through the slot in your front door. That way is thisaway: Become an NRPLUS member. There: You’ve been told.

1. Chris O’Dea scores the cover with an excellent essay on how Red China has weaponized — yes, weaponized — the global supply chain. Logistics is power. From his essay:

The first vector of weaponization is a physical network of ports under Chinese control in locations that provide China with various forms of economic leverage: access to minerals, energy, or food; ability to deploy cyber-surveillance; and potential to deny access to U.S. naval vessels. Having built the ports that enabled China to become the world’s manufacturing platform, and having completed the artificial islands China needed to secure its claims over the South China Sea, Chinese state-owned port-construction companies are projecting Chinese maritime power with projects in the European Union, Latin America, East and West Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. Much attention is focused on large greenfield projects in developing nations, but China has built its network largely by acquiring control of up-and-running assets that play an essential role in developed economies.

The second component is the introduction of Chinese cyber-capabilities, including the installation of digital networks at Chinese-controlled sites, typically by Huawei, and a subsea cable network being built by Huawei’s marine unit that will nearly encircle the globe by the end of this year. Chinese state-owned companies are leading a rapid, digitally enabled consolidation of the logistics sector—bringing together supply-chain functions that had previously been performed by separate companies, adopting centralized IT systems to control distribution from the doors of factories in China to the doors of consumers in America, and developing a wide array of technologies that can be used for both commercial and military purposes.

The most threatening aspect of China’s commercial triad is that the physical network of ports, ships, and terminals serves as a force multiplier for China’s cyber-aggression. From drones that monitor operations to facial-recognition technologies that control access to container yards, port facilities provide nearly perfect cover for cyber-espionage. There’s a lot going on in a seaport, and all of it is controlled and monitored by technology that feeds information over digital networks to buyers, sellers, regulators, financial institutions, and transportation companies. In short, ports are power. Power over imports and exports, power over economic-development policies, construction, shipbuilding, land transport, and electricity grids—and power over the digital information needed to move goods through global supply chains that originate in China and Southeast Asia. These critical supply lines have increasingly come under the influence or control of a handful of Chinese state-owned companies.

2. David Mamet (yeah, him!) suggests works of American women who deserve to be “in the canon.” From his article:

Fashions in literature, of course, change. When I was young, Willa Cather was out of print, and generations of schoolchildren have had their interest in reading destroyed by The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.

But here is a list of women authors not “out of favor,” but, today, forgotten and unread. Their works should be cherished. Among the earliest American novels is Charlotte Temple, by Susanna Rowson (1762–1824), a romance of the early colonial period. See also The Linwoods (1835), by Catharine Maria Sedgwick. Miss Sedgwick wrote here of the Revolutionary War and the battle between the colonials, based in Boston, and the royalists in New York. For anyone interested in Washington and that war, this is as close as you’re going to get and a smashing yarn.

She wrote at the same remove (50 to 60 years) as did Tolstoy from the Napoleonic wars, Margaret Mitchell from the Civil War, and, for that matter Mario Puzo from the Mafia turf wars. That is, they, and Sedgwick, wrote of the Grandparent Stories, which they had heard at the kitchen table and which had become part of family lore.

Imagine, in The Linwoods, one reads the impressions of people who actually knew Washington.

The great novel of the antebellum South is Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Mrs. Stowe wrote the hell out of it. It is an indictment of slavery, which, as Lincoln said, “started the Civil War”; it has been overlooked and, indeed, excoriated (by those who cannot have read it), as the phrase “Uncle Tom” has come to mean an appeaser. But his character is nothing of the kind; he is a Christian trying to live a godly life in the midst of human horror. (See also Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.)

3. Hal Brands and Peter D. Feaver make the case for why the Iraq War was a mistake, why its defenders were wrong, and why its critics were too. From their essay:

There are no two ways about it: The Iraq War was a tragic mistake. The war was waged on premises that proved to be faulty or false: that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs was growing and urgent, that the post-war stabilization and democratization of Iraq could be accomplished quickly and on the cheap, and that taking down Saddam’s regime could cause a democratic chain reaction throughout the Middle East. It was also informed by a hubris that resulted from the unexpectedly quick and seemingly decisive victory over al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, which led the Bush administration to dismiss many warnings from outside observers about the impending showdown with Iraq. As these premises and illusions collapsed following the invasion, the United States found that it had stumbled into a conflict in which the benefits were lower than expected and the costs were far higher. Those costs, in lives and treasure alike, made punch lines of the Bush administration’s pre-war optimism. Matters only got worse for years after March 2003, as the administration’s failure to adequately prepare for or rapidly adapt to the challenges of stabilizing Iraq left American forces stuck in an intensifying maelstrom.

In fairness, not every post-invasion decision was wrongheaded or disastrous. Against formidable odds, U.S. officials managed to keep the prominent Shia ayatollah Ali al-Sistani from urging his followers to violently oppose the American occupation, which would have made matters in Iraq vastly worse. And some of the decisions that backfired most severely by alienating the Sunnis— such as disbanding the Iraqi military and pursuing aggressive de-Baathification—were rooted in an understandable need to appease Iraq’s majority Shia population. But the mistakes were numerous, and debilitating in their cumulative effect.

4. Daniel J. Mahoney reviews an important new book by Richard Reinsch and Peter Lawler, A Constitution in Full: Recovering the Unwritten Foundation of American Liberty. From the review:

As Richard Reinsch and the late Peter Augustine Lawler, two remarkably talented students of American political thought and Western political philosophy, argue in their thoughtful and provocative new book, our country’s appeal to natural rights was indispensable in the effort to “discredit the communist or fascist reduction of the particular person to nothing but an expendable cog in a machine.” And rights are certainly not arbitrary or groundless, given to us capriciously by a state that can take them away at will. They do indeed have real roots in human nature and the order of things. The problem, as Lawler and Reinsch see it, is that these rights are increasingly disconnected from the traditions that gave rise to them and from the ends and purposes of human freedom. Many libertarians and soi-disant classical liberals, and almost all progressives, ignore or explain away the essentially relational character of human existence in the name of an ever more unconstricted view of personal liberty. This conception of liberty is severed from the moral foundations of democracy: loyalty to country; the love, support, and discipline of the family; and the eternal verities conveyed by traditional religion. These are among the precious “moral contents of life,” as the French political philosopher Pierre Manent calls them, without which liberty degenerates into a nihilistic form of self-assertion or, at best, an indifference to human excellence or to the primordial distinction between good and evil. Without its conservative foundations, liberty withers and turns against itself.

Lawler and Reinsch are fully committed to the dignity of the relational person and to the defense of the American republic. They believe that human beings should never be “civic fodder,” as was often the case in the classical republics; species fodder, as with the preferred understanding of our dogmatic Darwinians who subordinate the person to the “survival of the fittest”; or “History fodder,” as happened in the totalitarian democides of the 20th century. Following Alexis de Tocqueville and the great 19thcentury American Catholic thinker Orestes Brownson, Lawler and Reinsch defend “liberty under God and the law” (the admirable locution is Tocqueville’s). For the authors, the Founders are best understood as wise and gifted statesman and not theorizing revolutionaries. They were “conservative revolutionaries,” men of principle and prudence, who appreciated, or at least took for granted, the moral and cultural inheritance, what the authors call the “providential constitution,” that made possible a humane and ordered liberty in the United States.

(By the way, you can order the book here.)

5. Heck, let’s toss in a bonus link: El Jefe Rich Lowry’s review of Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, by Paul Goldberger. If it is one thing our esteemed editor loves besides this here magazine, it is the National Pastime. From his review:

Goldberger relates the history of baseball through its physical facilities and the business, real-estate, and design considerations that created them. You couldn’t do this with any other major sport. It’s rare that a football stadium or basketball or hockey arena becomes memorable in its own right. The experience of baseball, in contrast, is caught up in its surroundings.

Even watching a game on TV played at Trop in Tampa Bay, the SkyDome in Toronto, the Coliseum in Oakland, or the New Comiskey (ridiculously called “Guaranteed Rate Field”) is less appealing than at a place with some character.

Ballpark is a lovely book that is oversized but still manageable to hold and read, and it has enough drawings and photographs to illustrate Goldberger’s points about each park. He catalogues the journey from ballparks shoehorned into city streets, to the wrong turn into monochromatic dual-use forms, before an unexpected, triumphant return to the traditional.

(And you can order Ballpark here.)

NR Institute Seeking Regional Fellows in Dallas, San Francisco, and Chicago

We’ve established that Summer is here. So you are thinking . . . beach. As you should. But think past that a smidge, because it will be October before you know it, and the question will be . . . will you be an NRI Regional Fellow? Amigos and amigas, now — now! — is the time to consider, and apply for, this terrific program. Let’s get to the formal lingo: National Review Institute is seeking applicants for its Fall 2019 Regional Fellowship Programs in Dallas, San Francisco, and – brand-spanking new this fall — Chicago.

Who should apply? 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 35-50), 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 2019 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, but we encourage interested conservatives, libertarians, and the curious to apply as soon as possible.

Do that pronto. 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. Now get the suntan lotion!

The Six.

1. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports on how Red China has become the perfect high-tech totalitarian state. Big Brother is watching, and then some. From her piece:

Physically persecuting religious minorities, however, does not suffice for the Chinese Communist Party. It also seems to have campaigned against Christianity in schools throughout the country. It has, for instance, forced students to swear an oath to resist religious belief. Teachers were also indoctrinated to “ensure that education and teaching adhere to the correct political direction.” Classics taught in schools have been censored: In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, references to the Bible were deleted, and references to Sunday service or God in stories by Anton Chekhov and Hans Christian Andersen were expunged.

Additionally, the use of ‘sensitive’ words related to religion, such as ‘prayer’, are not allowed in the classroom.

In both the oppression of religion, as in the censorship of free speech, the Chinese Communist Party is utilizing high-tech means to achieve its goals. There are reports that Xinjiang is being used as a testing ground for surveillance technology: Uighurs in Xinjiang, according to a report published in the Guardian, are “closely monitored, with surveillance cameras mounted over villages, street corners, mosques and schools. Commuters must go through security checkpoints between all towns and villages, where they undergo face scans and phone checks”. China uses facial recognition technology that matches faces from surveillance camera footage to a watch-list of suspects.

2. Daniel Pipes, in the Washington Times, considers the opportunities a leader like Matteo Salvini — who has severely reduced Italy’s illegal immigration — presents to the debt-ridden country’s future. From his piece:

On the other side stand those who wish to celebrate not just the nation of Italy and its glorious national culture but also its many distinctive regions, with their long histories, mutually-unintelligible dialects and renowned cuisines. Venice, for example, enjoyed independence through 11 centuries (697-1797), developed a unique method of glass-making (Murano), and has its own school of music composition. Civilizationist pride in this heritage stands in direct contrast to universalist attitudes.

The person of Matteo Salvini, 46, drives the civilizationist impulse to preserve. A career politician who joined the then-marginal Northern League at age 17, he became a Milan city councilor at 20 and rose through the party ranks, finally taking on and defeating the party’s longtime boss in 2013. As the new leader, he quickly turned a regional party into a national one (dropping “Northern” from the name) and made control of immigration his central message.

Mr. Salvini so dominates the League and drives Italy’s politics that the country’s future course depends in large part on his priorities, skills, depth, vision and stamina. Should he succeed in turning the ports closure into a long-term solution to the problems of immigration and Islamization, his current electoral success presages a watershed for Italy. But if he fails in this attempt, Italians will not soon again have an opportunity to control their borders and assert their identity and sovereignty.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer gets all gooey over the Articles of Confederation. From the beginning of his essay:

The Articles of Confederation have been denounced for so long that no one bothers to denounce them anymore. Almost every American and almost every single person around the world who studies American history at any level considers the Articles a failure. The failure of the Articles is as sure as the sun rising tomorrow. It’s just an accepted “truism” that they did not work and that we Americans needed something to replace them.

Even those who take seriously the criticisms of the Constitution by the anti-Federalists typically believe the Articles a disaster.

A close examination, however, reveals that Articles were quite successful at several things, including: 1) keeping the peace (overall); 2) securing as well as keeping our independence; and 3) passing the most powerful piece of legislation in the history of republics, The Northwest Ordinance.

4. It’s the 25th anniversary of the publication of Henry Kissinger’s Diplomacy, and at Claremont Review of Books, Francis Sempa thinks that the milestone should prompt a reassessment. From his reflection:

Kissinger identifies two persistent philosophies in America’s approach to the world: Rooseveltian (Theodore, not FDR) and Wilsonian. He describes Theodore Roosevelt as “the first American president to insist that it was America’s duty to make its influence felt globally, and to relate to the world in terms of a concept of national interest.” America’s security, T.R. understood, depends on the global balance of power.

Although Kissinger clearly identifies with Roosevelt’s global realism, he also understands that Woodrow Wilson’s global “moralism” has great appeal to American elites, especially those intellectuals and analysts who often influence U.S. foreign policy. The Wilsonian approach to the world seeks to spread American values and institutions throughout the world. As Kissinger describes them, Roosevelt was “the warrior statesman; Wilson was the prophet-priest. Statesman, even warriors, focus on the world in which they live; to prophets, the ‘real’ world is the one they want to bring into being.”

For Kissinger, Wilsonian moralism has had at least two negative impacts on American foreign policy. First, it has resulted in the United States intervening in international disputes in which no concrete national interests were at stake. Second, it has sometimes resulted in America sacrificing national interests on the altar of high-sounding universal ideals. Too often, idealism has trumped realism with unintended but disastrous consequences. Kissinger’s Diplomacy, like Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality, was intended to persuade democratic statesmen, as Mackinder put it, to “adjust…ideals of freedom to [the] lasting realities of our earthly home.”

5. At Law and Liberty, Paul Seaton considers Trump and Political Philosophy: Patriotism, Cosmopolitanism, and Civic Virtue, which sizes up POTUS from the perspective of history’s great political philosophers. From his essay-review:

On the Right are two sorts of analysts: pro-Trump and anti-Trump, each dividing into subgroups. Among the pro’s are the (almost) unqualifiedly and the qualifiedly so.  Another division among the pro’s is those who defend the man directly and those who do so contextually—that is, as the lesser of two evils. Among the anti’s are those who are adamantly against him and those who are more mixed in their negative assessment. On the right, the pro’s invoke Aristotle, Hamilton, and Lincoln to appreciate Trump, while the anti’s invoke Aristotle and Lincoln to criticize him. The Republican divide between Trump supporters and Anti-Trumpists is thus reproduced at a rarefied intellectual level.

Both sides are aware of the need to justify invoking these august points of reference, more so with Aristotle, but the American giants as well. As a result, one hears about the relevance of historical perspective and philosophical learning. In some important respects, this is borne out. I will speak of these at the end. But the significant disagreements in judgment dividing these learned writers who appeal to the same authorities also indicate what the medievals knew: that Authority has a wax nose. Or more seriously, that learning needs to be complemented by other intellectual and moral qualities, dispassion and judgment.

6. Connecticut circles the drain, writes ace economist Daniel J. Mitchell at his International Liberty blog. You’ll find all the grim facts here.

2020 with KLO

Annually, Saint Benedict Press publishes these beautiful soft-leather (OK, imitation, but still suh-weet) spiritual books, “A Year with . . . ,” which offer daily reflections on that year’s primary focus. Well, I am happy to inform WJ readers that SBP’s 2020 book — A Year with Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living — will be available soon, and has as its author our pal and colleague, Kathryn Jean Lopez. You can pre-order her book (I am very happy for KLO!) at the link above, but here is a snippet from the publisher’s promotional copy. I think it might appeal to a lot of people:

There’s so much noise. Everything can seem like a distraction. Distraction, in fact, seems our oxygen. When was the last time you saw people talking on an elevator? We seem to plug in everywhere. We have earphones and screens and don’t evenlook up, never mind find time for silence. Our hearts need quiet. How are we ever going to pray otherwise? How could we ever possibly know God’s love and will, and the truth about ourselves and the world without resting in Him?

Resting in Him. What does that even mean? In A Year with the Mystics, popular National Review journalist and commentator Kathryn Jean Lopez, who writes and speaks frequently about faith and public life, and prayer and the Church, offers readers a tour of the magnificent variety of mystical writing in the heart of the Church. Featuring reflections from both household and contemporary names like Saint John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Edith Stein, as well as titanic historic figures such as St. Catherine of Siena and John of the Cross. The words of these holy men and women of prayer are presented in accessible doses ideal for daily prayer amidst the seemingly all-consuming busy-ness of life.

Each page is an invitation to enter more deeply into the life of faith. What does the road to union with God look like? What is a dark night? What is true love of the Trinity? What is this Church as bridegroom business?


Is there a doctor in the house? How about a vendor? A paid attendee? Could there have been a less anticipated, actual baseball game than the one played in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park on Friday, June 10, 1938? It featured two of the National Pastime’s iconic basement-dweller franchises, the 18–26 Philadelphia Athletics and the 15–27 St. Louis Browns. It was witnessed by . . . 154 people. Shibe’s capacity was 33,000. There may have been more ushers and vendors than fans.

To make the home town fans’ loneliness worse, the Browns’ ace, good old Bobo Newsom, pitched a complete-game, 8–4 victory (and even smacked two hits, scored two runs, and drove in one).

The E-Mail Man Cometh

Per the previous Weekend Jolt, in which Yours Truly expressed disdain for the papal desire to translate the Lord’s Prayer, this missive was prompted:

I was raised a Lutheran in a church not at all sympathetic to Catholicism, but we were taught in confirmation class that God never leads us into temptation. I’m still not a Catholic, but I’m with the Pope on this one.

God bless,


Thanks Emil, and our rejoinder will refrain from heresy jokes and all other jocular comebacks and comments except to say your position here is duly noted.

A Dios

Enjoy this summer day, mindful of the glory and beauty of creation, of the divine beneficence that surrounds us. But that Wesley Smith item haunts me and urges me to in turn urge that we be mindful of this too: It’s likely that right now, in China, a person is being murdered and his organs harvested . . . because he was a Falun Gong practitioner, or for some other reason that mystifies and dispirits. For the soul being brought this moment to Our Maker, even by the hands of depravity, pray — because your prayers do matter — that the suffering is swift and over, that it ends immediately with an eternal, comforting embrace by the Redeemer.

Sorry to end on such a grim note, but be of good cheer: The barbeque and the cold one will still be there waiting for you post-prayer.

God Bless You and Yours, and All Who Cry Out in Torment,

Jack Fowler

Who can be reached, à la Emil, for reactions and rebuttals and even nasty wisecracks at

National Review

Lead Us Not Into Translation . . .

Dear WJers,

To those of you who are fathers, Happy Father’s Day (tomorrow). Yours Truly happens to be one. Poor kids — imagine having me for The Old Man?! But, I thank them for making me that, and yes, thanks too to Mrs. Yours Truly, who was, shall we say, indispensable to the entire shebang.

My kids (five) refer to me as “You,” “Hey You,” “He,” “Him,” sometimes “Daddio,” and in the Latin, “Pater” (pronounced in a clipped way pah-tehr). I self-refer as “The ATM.” When I call one (and, one answers!) on the phone the salutation, regardless of gender, is “Luke, I am your father.” (For the record: None are named Luke.) What is wonderful about this June Sunday at Casa Truly is my encouraging them to have at me with the mockery, and after a very brief eruption of snorts and catcalls and eyerolls, the imitations come like a tsunami (they have so much material with which to work). It is all wildly funny, and often ends with me playing the ukulele and dabbing. Admit it: You’d pay to see that!

Now, before we get to the essential purpose of this missive . . . It was surprising, but no one wrote on NRO this week about the Pope’s decision to approve a translation of the Our Father. You know, that prayer that is one of the few things that bind we papists and other Christians. So looking elsewhere . . . Msgr. Charles Pope’s explanation of why this is an act worthy of Mr. Bacciagalupe was published in the National Catholic Register in 2017 (when the translation train left the Stazione Vaticano). Read it here. A snippet:

First, “lead us not in temptation” is the most straightforward and linguistically accurate rendering of the Greek καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν (kai me eisenenkēs hemas eis peirasmon). Almost every commonly read English Bible renders it as “lead us not into temptation” or “do not bring us into temptation.”[**] The Latin Vulgate translation is et ne nos inducas in tentatione.

The Greek text is not complex and its accuracy is not disputed. Eisenenkēs is an aorist subjunctive in the active voice. “Lead us not” is simply the clearest and most accurate translation of me eisenenkēs. To instead render it “do not allow us” is to read into the text an extended meaning that is not there. While the intention may be to assist the reader to understand that God does not tempt us or directly cause us to fall, the effect is to imply that the inspired Greek text is inadequate.

Oremus. Now on to the usual fare.


1. The “pissant totalitarians in Colorado” continue to make a piñata of Jack Phillips, vilified Christian cakebaker. From the editorial:

Autumn Scardina, who was the complainant in the second action against Phillips, is now pursuing a third, having asked for a birthday cake to celebrate a gender transition.

That is three legal attacks on a man for the purported offense of conducting his bakery business in accordance with his own views and values. We are reminded of William F. Buckley Jr.’s observation: “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” American liberals have almost entirely abandoned liberalism, with its tenets of generosity and tolerance, and now insist on conformity and homogeneity — to be enforced at the point of a government bayonet, if necessary, or through financial ruination, or whatever other means of coercion is near at hand.

The legal doctrine of “public accommodations” first came to prominence as a civil-rights matter in the case of racial segregation at a time when African Americans could hardly travel in much of the country as a practical matter. The exclusion of black Americans from public life, when piled on the legacy of slavery, severely circumscribed the lives and opportunities of African Americans. While there is still rank bigotry directed at homosexuals, the situation of gay Americans in the 21st century is not very much like that of African Americans in the 1940s. To accommodate the religious principles of those with traditional views of marriage in this matter requires only a trivial and largely symbolic concession: It is a lot easier to find a gay-friendly caterer in Colorado in the 21st century than it was to find a hotel open to African Americans in Alabama in 1937. These are not of equal moral weight.

2. Hasta la vista, babies: President Trump’s mix of tariff threats and border control demands has had the desired effect on Mexico. It’s a bigly win. From the editorial:

President Trump evidently knows something about the art of the tariff threat. His unorthodox Twitter diplomacy has gotten Mexico to make potentially important public commitments on immigration enforcement.

Trump said he was going to slap steadily escalating tariffs on Mexico unless it did more to help with the border crisis, a threat with huge downside risks. If implemented, the tariffs would have been disruptive at a time when U.S. growth is perhaps slowing, been an economic gut-punch to an allied country whose stability is important to us, and probably precipitated a congressional revolt against the policy. Instead, Trump has a win that is likely more than a mere PR victory.

Mexico is devoting 6,000 troops to attempting to better police its own border with Guatemala. It’s unclear what this will produce, although it can’t hurt. More important is the extension of the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “remain in Mexico” policy. Under this arrangement, we can return asylum-seekers to Mexico while their claims — almost always ultimately rejected — are adjudicated. This avoids one of the biggest problems of our current policy, which allows asylum-seekers into the country, never to be removed, even if their claims are rejected and they are ordered deported.

3. Unicorn Time: Congressman Dan Lipinski is the last of an ancient people — liberal Democrat pro-lifers. Congress used to have plenty. Now it has . . . him. And party Leftists once again have him in their primary cross hairs. From our editorial:

The eight-term congressman faced his first serious assault from the left in a 2018 primary, when challenger Marie Newman and the energized progressive base came within two percentage points of defeating him. Newman is running again to finish the job in 2020. Taking out Lipinski makes perfect sense to pro-abortion activists: Democrats have no fear of losing a general election in Lipinski’s district, which Hillary Clinton carried by 15 points in 2016 and Barack Obama carried by 13 points in 2012. Yet the anti-Lipinski effort does carry risks for the Democratic party. No single seat in the House is worth very much in terms of political power. The odds are very low that a crucial piece of legislation will advance by a single vote in the House. Purging Lipinski is more about sending a message than it is about gaining one more vote.

The message that the anti-Lipinski campaign is sending is that dissent will not be tolerated and pro-lifers and even those with moderate views on abortion are unwelcome in the Democratic party. Newman’s last campaign even carried a whiff of anti-Catholicism to it. She attacked Lipinski, a practicing Catholic, for believing contraception is morally wrong. Newman falsely suggested Lipinski wanted to ban contraception, when he has in fact voted for federal funding for it but also supports religious-liberty protections.

Show Up California!

Here’s hoping our Golden State friends, sun-kissed misses and all others will be joining us – and the hundreds of NR pals who have registered to date — for the big National Review Institute shindigs at the end of this month, when fellows Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew McCarthy will headline a trio of forums, in Newport Beach (June 24), Fresno (June 25, and actually, at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga), and San Francisco (June 26).

Andy will speak about the Mueller investigation — the topic of his forthcoming book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency — which he has written about extensively over the past two years. Victor, whose 2019 book The Case for Trump has proven a big bestseller, will speak about the current administration from a classicist’s perspective, drawing on Western literary and historical traditions to understand our contemporary politics.

Each forum begins at 5:00 p.m. with a welcome reception and registration, followed by the moderated discussion between VDH and Andy, and then . . . another reception, winding down at 7:30 p.m. But then that is followed by an exclusive dinner with our fellows for NRI event sponsors. Be one! Join us! Get complete information here.

We Cannot Help Ourselves Because There Is So Much NRO Greatness to Share. If You Can’t Eat It All Now Save Some for Later.

1. Andy McCarthy goes to Capitol Hill and testifies to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report, and lays eight main points on Adam Schiff’s thick skull. Here are the first two:

ONE: Volume I of the Mueller Report draws three principal conclusions: (a) the Putin regime perceived advantage in a Trump victory and conducted its operations accordingly; (b) there is evidence the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about the opponent; and (c) there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. The first two of these are more in the nature of political assertions than prosecutorial findings. If there is insufficient evidence that a conspiratorial enterprise existed, a prosecutor has no business speculating on motives in a politically provocative manner. Moreover, I do not believe the assertion is borne out by the evidence. The report shows that agents of Putin’s regime expressed support for Trump’s candidacy. That is entirely consistent with a motivation to incite divisions and dissent in the body politic of free Western nations, which is Russia’s modus operandi. Russia’s goal is to destabilize Western governments, which advantages the Kremlin by making it more difficult for those governments to pursue their interests in the world. Putin tends to back the candidates he believes will lose, on the theory that an alienated losing faction will make it harder for the winning faction to govern. Putin is all about Russia’s interests, which are in destabilization. It is a mistake to allow him to divide us by portraying him as on one side or the other; he is against all of us.

TWO: There is no reason to doubt that the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about Secretary Clinton. That is what campaigns do. It is not an admirable aspect of our electoral politics that campaigns seek negative information — euphemistically called “opposition research” — wherever they can find it. Candidate Trump’s opposition hoped to benefit from the theft of his tax information. The Clinton campaign took help from elements of the Ukrainian government, and, through its agents, it hired a British former spy to tap Kremlin-connected operatives for damaging information about Trump. The First Amendment makes it difficult to regulate this sort of thing; our guiding principle is that good information will win out over bogus information. We can debate how well that works, but we shouldn’t pretend that the Trump campaign is the first or only one ever to play this game.

2. Just when, wonders Victor Davis Hanson, did FBI careerists begin to believe that they were above the law, and permitted to pursue political agendas? From his piece:

We are told, however, that the FBI’s culture and institutions are exempt from the widespread wrongdoing at the top. Such caution is a fine and fitting thing, given the FBI’s more than a century of public service. Nonetheless, many of those caught up in the controversies over the Russian-collusion hoax were not recent career appointees. Rather, many came up through the ranks of the FBI. And that raises the question, for example, of where exactly Peter Strzok (22 years in the FBI) learned that he had a right to interfere in a U.S. election to damage a candidate that he opposed.

And why would an Andrew McCabe (over 21 years in the FBI) think he had the duty to formulate an “insurance policy” to take out a presidential candidate? Or why would he even consider overseeing an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of emails when his wife had been a recent recipient of Clinton-related PAC money? And why would McCabe contemplate leaking confidential FBI information to the press or even dream of setting up some sort of operation to remove a sitting president under the 25th Amendment? And how did someone like the old FBI vet Peter Strozk ever end up at the center of the entire mess — opening up the snooping on the Trump campaign while hiding that fact and while briefing the candidate on Russian interference in the election, interviewing Michael Flynn, preening as a top FBI investigator for Robert Mueller’s dream team, right-hand man of “Andy” McCabe, convincing Comey to change the wording of his writ in the Clinton-email-scandal investigation, softball coddling of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, instrumental in the Papadopoulos investigation con — all the while conducting an affair with fellow FBI investigator and attorney Lisa Page and bragging about his assurance that the supposedly odious Trump would be prevented from being elected. If a group of Trump zealots were to call up the FBI tomorrow and allege that a member of Joe Biden’s family has had unethical ties with the Ukrainian or Chinese government, would that gambit “alarm” the FBI enough to prompt an investigation of Biden and his campaign? How many career-professional Peter Strozks are still at the agency?

3. James Sutton absolves San Francisco’s high-tech companies from responsibility for the municipality’s homeless crisis. If blame is needed (and it is!) he suggests looking at the city’s nightmarish regulations and zoning (and lefty politicos). From his piece:

The other piece of the puzzle is that San Francisco has some of the worst housing-creation statistics in the country. Huge swathes of  the city are zoned only for single-family housing, and projects are regularly delayed for years or cancelled because of extensive regulations and local opposition. What’s the end result? Starting in the 1980s, when San Francisco joined many other cities in seeing renewed population growth, the city should have averaged 5,000 new housing units a year, according to CityLab. It built 1,500. In short, the city has abysmally failed to meet growing demand with adequate supply.

But instead of facing the brute fact that a nightmarish regulatory system has intensified the housing crisis, progressives blame the influx of tech workers. In short, they lament that well-paying jobs are flowing into the city.

Progressives also resent tech firms for not paying more taxes — in San Francisco, of all places! — which is why the Twitter tax break was so controversial. But again, firms don’t exist to pay taxes. And without the tax break, Twitter and the other companies might well have left the city or never located there in the first place.

4. Ben and Jerry and ding dongs from 179 other companies have their knickers in a twist over some states adopting abortion restrictions (but not over those states which have adopted de facto infanticide laws). John Hirschauer looks at the twisted leftist businessmen who’ve signed a public declaration which casts them standing athwart history, yelling abort! From his analysis:

That they consider unborn children to be “bad for business” is a standalone indictment of all 180 companies, but none so much as the insufferably left-wing ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry’s has no moral authority to lecture consumers about campaign finance so long as it feeds the unborn to Moloch in the name of “business.”

The letter goes on, in spite of itself, and admits that pro-life measures might hamper the “ability” of signatories “to build a diverse and inclusive workforce”: Anti-abortion legislation “impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.”

What does this paragraph mean? The entire document is, of course, intentionally imprecise; as one becomes more literal about abortion, it grows increasingly likely that the quiet parts will be said out loud. There seem to be three divergent and similarly heinous interpretations that emerge from this paragraph; first, that abortion is the only means by which women can be adequately “included” in the workforce. That to me seems the most plausible, if only because it has been a staple of the pro-choice argument for a generation. The second interpretation, not altogether unrelated to the first, is that “women of color” procure abortions disproportionately and that therefore, given the logic of the first assertion, the implementation of abortion restrictions would unduly burden racial minorities. This is an impossible thing to say out loud, not least because to do so is to tacitly cheers along as racial minorities kill their unborn children, but it’s quite possible that this is an intentional part of the paragraph’s subtext. A third, much more remote possibility is that the signatories consider injections of intra-amniotic digoxin a means for the unborn to join “diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines.”

5. Matt Continetti notes that Fareed Zakaria’s criticism of America’s global standing — in decline, per his assessment — blames various U.S. presidents, but goes AWOL on that Obama guy. From his Corner post:

Fareed Zakaria has a major essay in the July / August issue of Foreign Affairs on “The Self-Destruction of American Power.” His thesis is that U.S. global hegemony “died” “sometime in the last two years.” How? “There were deep structural forces in the international system that inexorably worked against any one nation that accumulated so much power,” Zakaria says. “In the American case, however, one is struck by the ways in which Washington — from an unprecedented position — mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies.” Making matters worse, he continues, is the America First foreign-policy of President Trump.

Standard stuff. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that a certain someone is conspicuously absent from Zakaria’s catalogue of foreign-policy errors. Zakaria criticizes George W. Bush for the Iraq War (which he supported at the time). He chides Donald Trump for a supposed “absence” of foreign policy. Yet Barack Obama goes entirely unmentioned. If you were to read this essay with no prior knowledge of American history, you would come away thinking the Obama presidency never happened.

6. Stars and Stripes beats Rainbow, says Kevin Williamson. From the piece:

This is Pride Month, during which organized homosexuality does its very best to remind the nation that some people have nonstandard sexual proclivities, that for some reason some people choose to organize both their personal identities and their communities around this fact, and to demand . . . well, that turns out to be a moving target, as surely is understood by anybody who remembers how fast we went from “Nobody is talking about gay marriage, you hysterical ninnies!” to “Gay marriage is a constitutionally mandatory thing, as James Madison obviously intended!” In the pre-Lawrence era, the urgent question was whether states could (and would) enforce the sodomy laws that made a crime of certain consensual sexual acts.

In 2019, the urgent question is whether U.S. embassies around the world will run the rainbow flag up the pole and see who salutes it.

Mike Pence said no. Not that anybody asked him, really. The matter was resolved within the State Department, through the usual processes. A few ambassadors asked for permission to fly the pride flag, and State declined to grant that permission. Others simply flew the flag on their own authority, acting in accord with the proverbial wisdom that it is easier to beg forgiveness than secure permission. But NBC News asked the vice president about the situation, and he affirmed that he believed the decision to have been correct. His argument contained no reference to scripture or moral theology, but rather relied on the straightforward belief that where sovereign U.S. diplomatic outposts are concerned, the only flag that should be flown is the one with the 50 stars and 13 stripes.

7. David French is thrilled by the move in many states to enact laws protecting free speech on college campuses. From his analysis:

There is substantial overlap between the states that are passing heartbeat bills and other abortion restrictions and states that are taking decisive steps to protect free speech on campus. For example, late last week Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed into law a campus free-speech act similar to the Texas bill. The result is an entire American region that is attempting to preserve and expand access to two of the three unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence — rights to life and liberty. In many ways, these are the South’s better days.

While there should be no reason for blue-state legislatures to shun campus free-speech bills, current political reality dictates that red states are the most fertile ground for protecting individual expression, and with with the vast majority of legislatures under unified Republican control, there is no reason for this quiet free-speech revolution to slow down. There should exist a vast zone of liberty on red-state public campuses.

8. China is mooning over the moon, and everything else beyond the stratosphere. Jack H. Burke says we had best take this ambition, and reality, seriously. From his analysis:

The Chinese space program has, in short, become a force to be reckoned with.

The Chinese government is increasingly determined to expand China’s space capabilities. President Xi Jinping in 2016 declared his intention to make China a “space giant.” Beijing views “long-term space investment” — specifically, the goal of wealth creation, obtaining resources, and establishing a permanent human presence in space — key to what Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin People’s Liberation Army has called “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” And the moon is at the heart of China’s plans.

In the 2016 white paper on space activities, released by the Information Office of the Chinese State Council, the government outlined how its space program is oriented toward “economic and social development,” as opposed to NASA’s model, which remains, to this day, more focused on “space exploration” and “scientific discovery.” China views space exploration as a way to expand its economy and encourage national development. As the technology for extraterrestrial mining develops and the permanent human occupation of space becomes more feasible, Beijing is devoting more effort to the space-based economic opportunities just on the horizon. The moon, especially, offers vast opportunities for mining and the production of space-based solar-power installations, which have the potential to increase the national energy output exponentially and give China an immense advantage in what Ian Morris in Real Clear Defense recently called the “new space race.” As opposed to the original “space race,” dedicated largely to scientific exploration and technological “firsts,” the rapidly unfolding new space race is about making space profitable. Participants to in the new space race look to establish a long-term, strategically and economically salient presence beyond Earth — in cislunar space, on the moon itself, and, ultimately, beyond.

9. Sahil Handa, ace summer intern who hails from London, pens a brilliant piece on how Brexit is playing out as “Britishness” fades. This is just a terrific reflection. From his essay:

When David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership in 2016, nobody could have anticipated our current cultural and constitutional quagmire. The vote was carried out without an agreed plan for implementation — lies on both sides and a question that promised to ask more questions that it answered. The result was a gridlocked Parliament set in opposition to a popular majority. MPs reluctantly agreed to implement the result, and Theresa May’s team went off to negotiate with Brussels.

What ensued was two years of distinctly unapologetic chaos: An unexpected election, a weak minority government, a revolving door of Brexit ministers, 43 government resignations. Delay. Delay. Delay. Delay.

In the wider country, Brexit found a series of deeply buried divides in the sand. Young versus Old; Scotland versus England; London versus just about everywhere else. The vote brought to light the country’s crisis of representation: Just as the parliamentarians in each of the two major party coalitions were fractured on the issue, so were their voters — and not always along the same lines.

10. You need not listen too hard, writes Telly Davidson, to hear the echoes of O.J.’s murder trial, marking its 25th year of warped justice. A lot has happened since then. From his essay:

But the true significance of O.J. to today’s society — and in particular, to the evolving differences between liberals and conservatives — runs much deeper. Conservatives in the Clinton years usually claimed to deplore situational ethics, though perhaps they should have stopped a minute to notice that their most effective players in the modern halls of power (Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove) were ruthlessly realpolitik political actors. In the “Flight 93 Election” of 2016, by contrast, Republicans mostly united behind Trump. What changed?

For all of talk radio’s fulminations against Loony Leftists, in the ’80s and ’90s, American conservatives’ adversaries were liberals — not the true hardcore Left. When Ron and Nicole died, the most acclaimed filmmaker in America was Martin Scorsese. The most prestigious small-screen auteur was Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue). Courtroom thrillers by John Grisham and Scott Turow about conflicted, formerly idealistic Boomer children of the ’60s trying to navigate today’s thorniest issues flew off the shelves. In other words, the intellectual, cultural, and academic zeitgeist tilted towards the liberal fetish for “fine lines” and “gray areas.” No wonder conservatives, particularly social and religious ones, felt free to take the hard line in response.

Today is different, with the recent revival of uncompromising and doctrinaire leftism, “identity politics,” and socialism, and as a result many conservatives have learned to stop worrying about personal ethics so much. In the so-called “Flight 93 Election” of 2016, voters knew there was a strong chance that Trump would appoint judges and regulators who oppose abortion and infringements on the religious freedom of social cons, and that there was absolutely zero chance that President Hillary would do anything but the opposite. It wasn’t about the individual case anymore; it was about the big-picture.

11. Martin Scorsese makes a lefty mockumentary with a title that goes into next week. Armond White takes no prisoners. From the beginning of his review:

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese is a cumbersome title owing to Scorsese’s tortured attempt to distinguish this patchwork about Dylan’s 1976 ragamuffin touring show from his hagiographic 2005 documentary, No Direction Home.

Yet this Revue is still hagiography. Scorsese competes with the mythmaking of the already overworked Dylanolatry industry by constructing an elaborate mockumentary ruse around this 43-year-old pop-music footage, which doesn’t need it.

The musical performances of Dylan and entourage masked in white face paint, as in his 1976 fantasia Renaldo and Clara, are rousingly intense. Dylan frees himself from his own mystique. The masks hide nothing. Musicianship and fierce singing defy Nobel laureate Dylan’s sanctified-philosopher status. His gift for condensing complex feelings and social reflection into revelatory lyrics is turned back into entertainment — from before rock criticism “hallowed” it out. When Dylan coos “Oh, Sister” or bangs out a piano version of “Simple Twist of Fate,” he’s a showman, not a shaman.

Here’s the problem: Scorsese, whose moralistic ethnic thrillers or genre fantasies are politically evasive, picks up the usual leftist cant. Dylan’s slippery social pronouncements, mixing personal philosophical evolution with celebrity gamesmanship, ought to be seen in the Rolling Thunder concert as acts of individual sensibility. The voice-of-a-generation routine is not helpful to a new, politically disingenuous era.

12. Meanwhile, Kyle Smith thinks Scorsese has pulled off a deadpan lampoon with the Netflix Dylan film. From his review:

The new work is billed as Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Story, not documentary. The film isn’t to be taken at face value. At least two characters in this yarn about Dylan’s 1975–76 concert tour are fictional, one of them offering yarns about Jimmy Carter. Then again, was Carter real? Did he actually say, “I grew up as a landowner’s son. But I don’t think I ever realized the proper interrelationship between the landowner and those who worked on a farm until I heard Dylan’s record, ‘I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More.’”? [sic]

Well, yes. Yes he did, in 1974. Wow: This was a trippy time. The mid-70s were far out, man. Never, before or since, in any era, ever, have human beings draped themselves in such hideous clothing. Only images actually taken in the period can properly convey the horror; whenever filmmakers (such as Scorsese) make something set in the mid-70s, they have to tone down the clothes, otherwise the costumes will devour the movie.

The clothes were part and parcel of the hungover mid-70s, a period that looks now like a gaudy muddle, a filthy rainbow. Jimmy Carter, the saint of the South, heralded a fresh start as America was gearing up for a massive spiritual renewal, the Bicentennial. The culture seems to have utterly forgotten this moment. Maybe the only film that gets it is Robert Altman’s 1975 piece, Nashville.

13. More Kyle: If his review of The Dead Don’t Die was a body movement, it might be a this-side-of-befuddled shrug. From his review:

The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch tends to apply his stone-faced sense of humor to low-energy stories, but what if he shook up his usual M.O.? What if he even went so far as to make a zombie movie? You could call it The Walking Deadpan.

Jarmucsch’s title, though, is The Dead Don’t Die. Intermittently amusing but resolutely trifling, this zom-com finds Jarmusch bringing in his frequent collaborator Bill Murray and Adam Driver, the star of his film Paterson, to play a pair of rural cops who are puzzled, maybe even mildly perturbed, to discover that the dead are rising from their graves. Once the undead are up and about, in between meals of human entrails they revisit the same obsessions that enslaved them in life. I particularly enjoyed seeing the armies of the reanimated lighting up their mobile phones and mumbling, “Wi-Fi . . . Wi-Fi . . .,” given that I coined the term iZombies in a piece entitled “The Texting Dead” six years ago. (Jim, you can send the royalty checks to 19 West 44th Street.) Jarmusch has a very small, very mild point to make, delivered in a summing-up at the close: We’re all fixated on something and hence are all zombies. Zombie Carol Kane, whose corpse has been lying around the police station while the cops figure out what to do with her, gets only one line, but it’s a funny one: “Chardonnay!”

There is a Trump joke to be made here, but Jarmusch doesn’t make it. (Really, half the country has one concept on its mind 24/7. I wonder what it’s like to walk around brain-dead.) Instead Jarmusch makes a different one: Steve Buscemi plays a truculent farmer who wears a hat that reads “Keep America White Again,” which doesn’t even make sense. Tom Waits, wearing a beard like Charlton Heston’s Moses, plays a crazy hermit who sees the truth. Tilda Swinton plays a samurai Scot who is completely prepared for zombie apocalypse. The comedy is essentially a series of variations on one joke: Things are going apespit and Murray and Co. barely react. “Oh, that’s bad” is what Driver’s character says, spotting friends with their guts ripped out. Iggy Pop is in there, playing a coffee zombie. Jarmusch even lands a few jokes aimed roughly in his own direction: When the corpses of three young people are found in gory circumstances, Murray says, “They’re just dead hipsters from Cleveland.”

14. More Armond: He finds The Dead Don’t Die to be a climate-changey dud. From his review:

The Dead Don’t Die laughs at “total destruction of the earth” — and the slow but inevitable dissolution of human relations — as a consequence of middle America’s non-sophistication. Centerville may as well be Hicksville (or Mayberry, to non–New Yorkers) because it personifies banality: It has no Starbucks, and no one reads the New York Times.

But in a barista mood, Jarmusch serves up doom for characters who are indifferent to “climate change.” Partly repeating the hip nihilism of his vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, Jarmusch moves on from that alienation to post-2016 election disapproval. News reports warn that “polar caps are shifting,” and so the fragile ecology of civilization gets flipped. Tom Waits as Hermit Bob, a long-hair dropout resembling Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, is a homeless scavenger and community pet who embodies the oxymoron Democratic Socialist. He steals chickens from right-wing farmer Frank Miller (comically querulous Steve Buscemi) who wears a red baseball cap bearing the motto “Make American White Again.”

That MAWA cap reveals Jarmusch’s failed humor. It’s lazy political animus compared with Nelson DeMille’s recent pop novel The Cuban Affair, in which a character’s T-shirt logo — “Guns Don’t Kill People. I Kill People” — signifies a personality and political type without simple demonization. But MAWA not only defames the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, it mischaracterizes national dissatisfaction and virtue-signals to hipster filmgoers that Jarmusch is on their ill-considered side. In indie film culture, making enemies is more important than brotherhood — or citizenship, or entertainment.

15. Even More Kyle: Our man sticks a fork in it and yes, Jussie Smollett is done. From the beginning of his report:

Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie Twitter account has ten followers. Smollett’s boss on Empire, showrunner Lee Daniels, now says he is “beyond embarrassed” that he rushed to defend the actor when Smollett first started telling that badly scripted story about his staged attack by a pair of supposed Trump fanatics who at the time seemed to be the only people in America who even knew who he was.

A funny thing happened during Smollett’s victory lap: Chicago reporters obtained communications from police and prosecutors after a judge unsealed the case file. These records included texts Smollett sent that were obtained by police. The picture of Smollett that has emerged is considerably more detailed now: He had himself a rip-roaring good time while he was planning to make himself look like the victim of a nasty assault. He is brazen. He is smug. He is without doubt a liar, and a liar who preys on Americans’ natural sympathy for racial and sexual minorities. In the church of identity politics, what Smollett did is the equivalent of  stealing from the widows-and-orphans box.

Smollett’s phone records show that for months he repeatedly bought cocaine, Ecstasy, and marijuana from the brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, which he paid for via Paypal and Venmo, and that he wanted to meet with the brothers “face to face” to discuss “planning,” presumably for the fake attack. “N***a you still got a molly connect,” Smollett texted one of the brothers last September. “Hahahaha… Imma need a good fo pills Haha.”

16. Even More Climate Change: In his new column, Rich Lowry says the alarmists’ alarming, like a big fat glacier, is going nowhere. Slow. From his piece:

The politics of climate change will be problematic for the duration, for several reasons. The voters most opposed to the costs of climate action tend to be “deplorables” most easily dismissed by center-left parties at their own peril: voters in rural Queensland in Australia, economically distressed residents of unfashionable rural and semiurban areas of France, working-class voters in the Rust Belt in the U.S.

The real felt urgency of climate change will not, anytime soon, match the rhetoric of the advocates. There’s currently an effort to make every natural disaster in the U.S. a symptom of an alleged climate emergency. This approach may pay some dividends, since there’s always extreme weather, but it hardly reflects a careful accounting of the data.

Bearing real costs for the sake of the climate will always be a sucker’s game for any one country so long as there isn’t a global regime mandating emission reductions (and, thankfully, there isn’t anything remotely like the political will for such a regime).

17. Progressive whites who wear their big-and-brash minority-championing badges for all to see are, writes Mona Charen, often so blankety-blank condescending. Case in point: NYC mayor Bill De Blasio. From her piece:

De Blasio is the variety of progressive who racializes everything. His administration is spending $23 million on “implicit bias training” for city employees. If you’ve never had to submit to these indoctrinations, they feature elements such the “white privilege exercise.” It guides the subject through questions such as “I can be pretty sure that when I ask to speak to the person in charge, I will be facing a person of my race” and “If a police officer pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.”

There is little doubt that most white people will respond differently to being pulled over by a police officer than African Americans, and with good reason. But regarding the first question, it is whites who ought to be less confident, if that’s the right word, about the race of supervisors. According to New York City’s own Workforce Profile Report, 61 percent of the city’s employees are members of minority groups, and only 39 percent are white. Not that it should matter. And it wouldn’t if de Blasio and his allies were not so keen to fetishize racial distinctions.

De Blasio’s pick for schools chancellor was Richard Carranza, who decries “white supremacy culture.” Carranza has inaugurated a training program to teach supervisors to “disrupt the power structure and dismantle institutional racism.” The workshops are run by Courageous Conversations, a division of the Pacific Educational Group. Their fee? $775,000. Extirpating whiteness can be good business.

18. While he’s not dabbling with the text of The Lord’s Prayer, The Pope, writes John Hirschauer, has been pulling the theological rug out from underneath the ancient Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. Is anything sacred? From his commentary:

Given the unique and divisive teaching about the substantive nature of the consecrated bread and wine, Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians provided what would become the scriptural grounds for selective admission to the sacrament. Paul told the Corinthian church that those who received the Eucharist “unworthily” would be counted as “guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord,” a bold and forceful instruction that established a scriptural basis for future Church guidelines on admission to the sacrament.

The early Church took Saint Paul’s instruction and sought to outline criteria for admission to the Eucharist. Saint Justin Martyr (c. 100–165), for instance, insisted that the Eucharist be open only to those who believe “that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.” The Eucharist was always considered to be an expression of unity with the Church, not a tool to display ecumenical zeal or a means to “break down barriers” among the masses.

Popes throughout the centuries were undivided in their opinion on the subject. Particularly before the Second Vatican Council, popes were stark in their indiscriminate opposition to intercommunion, considering it a profanation and an abject evil to be avoided. Pope Pius IX put it rather precisely in his encyclical Amantissimus (1862), where he proclaimed that “whoever eats of the Lamb and is not a member of the Church has profaned.”

19. On the Oberlin College verdict, David French explains why the massive $33 million judgment against the college is going to make some SJW college administrators think twice before they engage is defamation of innocent citizens and their mom-and-pop businesses. From his Corner post:

Students immediately launched protests of the bakery and created and disseminated flyers declaring the bakery “a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” and that a member of the Oberlin community “was assaulted” by its owner. These claims were false. The evidence at trial showed that employees and administrators helped publish and distribute the false flyer, including by disseminating it to the media. The college also suspended its business relationship with the bakery.

Anyone who’s spent any time dealing with campus controversies knows that activist administrators often help, support, and even direct the activities of radical students. Some administrators seem to view campus activism as part of the educational process itself, a rite of passage that helps prepare them for a lifetime of political engagement. In my litigation days, I’ve seen multiple instances where administrators help activists formulate messages, plan protests, and provide university resources to favored activists.

When activists are engaged in constitutionally protected speech, there is absolutely no legal problem with this kind of university engagement. When, however, student activists are spreading outright lies and violating the law, university engagement becomes extraordinarily risky.

The Six.

1. Fret not for capitalism, says AEI’s Michael Strain in The Guardian. It’s healthier than ever. From his piece:

To be clear, I am more concerned about the absolute condition of low-income workers and households, as well as the opportunities available to them, than I am concerned about relative inequality. But if we are going to analyze inequality it is important that we base our analysis on the latest and best statistics.

Here, the US economy is delivering even better results. Since 2016, weekly earnings for the bottom 10% of full-time workers have grown more than 50% faster than for workers at the median. The unemployment rate for adults without a high school degree is further below its long-term average than the rate for college-educated workers.

Vulnerable workers are also benefiting from today’s economy. Employment rates are increasing for workers with a disability. In our low-unemployment environment, employers have become much more flexible about which applicants they will interview and which candidates they will hire. Some evidence and anecdotes suggest firms are less likely to require criminal background checks on applications, for example.

To repeat: an odd time, then, to be debating whether capitalism is a fundamentally broken economic system. Yet debating it we are, and not just in this newspaper. In the US, some Trumpian populists and their sympathizers are downplaying the importance of economic growth, warming to protectionism, and becoming comfortable with the damage the president is doing to the post-second world war liberal order. Some populists on the political right are stepping back from the traditional conservative emphasis on the importance of personal responsibility. Bizarrely, some are even questioning the merits of dual-earner families.

2. At Mainebiz, the young Conner Drigotas shares the reasons (too much business-crippling government) why his native Pine Tree State son will not be returning. From his piece:

Maine is hemorrhaging young people. The situation is dire for the nation’s oldest state. Maine needs youth to stay in or return to Vacationland. Maine needs to attract 158,000 workers by 2025.

I have looked for jobs in Maine many times. Maine does not have the job base to keep young people at home and is not doing enough to bring people back.

By that I mean Maine’s government is impeding job creation and stifling economic growth. The initiatives currently in place are simply more big government short-sightedness. We don’t want flashy government programs; we want Augusta out of our wallets.

The job market is being suffocated by the way Maine treats businesses. If Maine were a more attractive place to operate a business, more businesses would choose Maine. More businesses in Maine would create more jobs, attracting a younger population to live here. Augusta’s anti-business policy agenda prevents companies from choosing Maine and is holding citizens back from prosperity.

3. The great Lee Edwards has been penning a series for Intercollegiate Review on “unsung heroes” of the conservative movement. His first profile is of sociologist Robert Nisbet, author of the seminal study, The Quest for Community. From his piece:

Man’s desire for community, Nisbet wrote, springs from some of the most powerful needs of human nature, including “a clear sense of cultural purpose, membership, status, and continuity.” Aristotle had recognized this fundamental desire more than two thousand years earlier when he wrote that man is by nature a social creature, “a political animal.”

Nisbet noted that the traditional sources of community included the family, the church, the neighborhood, and the civic association. Writing in the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America had praised the amazing variety of associations he saw throughout the United States—commercial and industrial, religious and moral, general and particular, immense and small. Tocqueville wrote, “Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.”

But by the mid-twentieth century, the powerful modern state had eroded these sources of community. Collectivism and centralization manifested themselves not only abroad—in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Communist tyrannies of the Soviet Union and China—but also in the rapidly expanding federal government at home.

In fact, Nisbet observed, the human impulse toward community helped explain the rise of centralized regimes. As the traditional ties that bind fell away, people had to seek community somewhere. With nowhere else to turn, they looked to the government itself for meaning and a sense of community. The quest for community thus allowed statism—even totalitarianism—to flourish.

4. At Legal Insurrection, Daniel McGraw, who covered the Oberlin College case and trial, penned an excellent assessment as to why the uber-Lefty institution went on a jihad against a local bakery. From his piece:

There are two things about this case that are very important, of which some of the commenters and tweets I read are missing.

The first is that Oberlin College, in the minds of the jury, wasn’t guilty only of what they did, but also what they didn’t do. They had opportunities early on to see the bullshit flying in their faces — thrown by the social justice warrior students — and didn’t have the good sense to see a basic problem and recognize the simplest of solutions.

What happened here is that Oberlin College and many universities have lost the understanding of their identity and basic purpose, and when that happens with most of us, when we don’t know who we are, we tend to do stupid things. That’s what happened here.

A few years ago, they had students saying they wanted finals cancelled because they were protesting minority men being shot by police in nearby Cleveland; in Dec. of 2015, the school’s black student union published 14 pages of racial accusations against the school with 58 demands to fix them; and the school had students thinking that the sushi in their cafeteria was “cultural appropriation” and unfit for eating because of that.

Instead of the school telling their students, “You are all crazy, and get back to studying,” they took on the “these poor snowflakes need our support” attitude.

It was the tail wagging the dog in the end, and ended up how most things like that do.

5. Elizabeth Warren has Big Ideas. Which have become Big Bills. And as Ramesh Ponnuru reminds us in his Bloomberg Opinion column, they have one Big Problem: They’re impractical. From his piece:

The Corporate Executive Responsibility Act, a Warren bill, would lower the standard for criminal liability. Executives of large companies could be thrown in jail for mere “negligence” – even, that is, if they didn’t realize their companies were doing anything potentially illegal. That change would, as she says, make it impossible for corporate wrongdoers to “escape the threat of prosecution so long as no one can prove exactly what they knew.” By design, though, it would also make it possible to prosecute people who hadn’t knowingly done wrong.

Warren wants to ban foreigners from buying farmland, complaining that “Foreign companies and countries like China and Saudi Arabia already own 25 million acres of American farmland.” Her ultimate source for that figure is a Department of Agriculture report about land holdings as of 2011. She makes it sound ominous, but it turns out that Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and the U.K. are “countries like China and Saudi Arabia,” accounting for more than 16 million acres of that total. Portugal alone owned six times as much farmland as the Saudis. (A more recent iteration of the report tells the same basic story.)

From Bill Clinton’s administration onward, voters have been much more likely to punish than to reward presidents for pushing ahead with bold ideas. In practice, they seem to understand something about the limited ability of government officials to change the world for the better, and the risks of their trying – something that Senator Warren and her fans don’t.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière finds the recent European elections tell a mixed story, and that populists will still be second fiddle to the national establishment parties; weakened but still in charge. From his piece:

In many European countries, however, the results of the “populists” were mixed. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally finished first, but with 23.3% of the vote: only 0.9% more than The Republic on the Move, created three years ago by Emmanuel Macron. The extreme unpopularity of the French President apparently did not cost him much. In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats received only 15.4%, or two percent less than in the 2018 Swedish general elections. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) received 11%. In Belgium, the Vlams Belang received 11.2% of the vote. In Spain, Vox, with 6.2%, had to deal with even more disappointing results. In the Netherlands, the Forum for Democracy got 10.9% and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, which fell to 3.5%, no longer has a seat.

The “populist wave” often mentioned in recent weeks did not overwhelm Europe. “Populist” parties will have only a little more than twenty percent of the seats in the European Parliament: enough to be heard, but not enough to exert influence.

The parties that have ruled Europe for decades obtained weak results, but, with rare exceptions, did not collapse — and will continue to dominate the European Union. The crushing defeat of the British Conservative Party (8.9%, the lowest in its history) seems to have been the result of Theresa May’s inability to deliver Brexit. In France, the sharp downfall of The Republicans (8.5%) and the Socialist Party (6.2%) can be explained by most of their leaders (Republicans and socialists) having joined Macron’s The Republic on the Move party two years ago. In Germany, the CDU-CSU alliance obtained only 28.9% of the vote, but it was enough to win nevertheless. The socialist SPD received an honorable score, 15.8%.

In several Western European countries, socialist parties prevailed, indicating that apparently socialism is not losing ground. The Spanish Socialist Party triumphed (32.8%), as well as the Portuguese Socialist Party (33.4%). In the Netherlands, the Labor Party (18.9%) finished first. In Italy, socialists obtained 22%; in Denmark, 21.5%, and in Sweden, 23.6%.


We’ll stipulate the obvious and true: At least Charles Richard “Dick” Bates got to play in the Majors. On the ignominious side: He was a “cup of coffee” for what may have been the saddest expansion team / franchise in baseball history: The 1969 Seattle Pilots. Hard to qualify for immortality in a less impressive way.

Bates’ one performance came on a Sunday afternoon in the Emerald City, at the home-field shack known as Sick’s Stadium, before 5,802 fans watching the expansion team’s 16th contest, this one against the Oakland As, developing into the powerhouse that in a few years would win a trio of World Series. With the As leading 5–0 in the top of the 6th, manager Joe Schultz (made famous in Ball Four) yanked starter Mike Marshall (yeah, that Mike Marshall!) and brought in the rookie Bates to relieve. If you can call it that. He immediately walked Danny Cater and then Rick Monday clobbered a home run. An inning later, Cater and Monday smacked doubles resulting in three more runs. And that was it for Bates, who left the game with the As ahead 10–0. He’d never step on a Major League mound again and started and ended his career with a 27.00 ERA.

A Dios

For our fathers, real and spiritual, who have gone before us: May they be in the sweet eternal embrace of The Father, the one Who, until the translators get their mitts on the verbiage, still Art in Heaven.

God Bless You and Yours,

Jack Fowler

Who art at for those of thee who doth seeketh to communicate.

P.S.: What dad really wanted was a cabin on the NR 2019 Canada/New England Conservative Cruise. There’s still time to reserve one. Do that at What a gift!

National Review

Birdies Sing and Everything

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Looking ahead, and westward, Yours Truly encourages our Golden State friends, sun-kissed misses and all others, to whip out the calendar and pencil in some dates for the big shindigs National Review Institute is planning for the end of this month. Two of its most popular fellows — local boy Victor Davis Hanson and Bronx-bred Andrew McCarthy — will be featured in a trio of forums, in Newport Beach (June 24), Fresno (June 25, and actually, at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga), and San Francisco (June 26).

Andy will speak about the Mueller investigation — the topic of his forthcoming book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency — which he has written about extensively over the past two years. Victor, whose 2019 book The Case for Trump has proven a big best-seller, will speak about the current administration from a classicist’s perspective, drawing on Western literary and historical traditions to understand our contemporary politics.

Each forum begins at 5:00 p.m. with a welcome reception and registration, followed by the moderated discussion between VDH and Andy, and then . . . another reception, winding down at 7:30 p.m. But then that is followed by an exclusive dinner with our fellows for NRI event sponsors. Be one! Join us!

Get complete information here. And remember: This may also be your big opportunity to tell me to my face everything you can’t stand about the Weekend Jolt.


1. Tariffs come at a big price — to American consumers and importers. And, yes, exporters. We are critical of the Trump administration’s call for sharp tariffs on Mexico. From the editorial:

A 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods would notionally amount to about $17 billion on U.S. imports from Mexico, touching everything from industrial components to fruit and crude oil. In reality, it is difficult to say how much money would be raised, because buyers respond to tariffs in unpredictable ways. In any case, many of those costs will be borne by American consumers and — this cannot be emphasized enough — American businesses that rely in some part on imported inputs. More important, it would cause uncertainty around a North American supply chain that has evolved organically over many years as the result of enormous investment by American companies and their business partners.

President Trump envisions a tariff that will potentially ratchet up to 25 percent.

The president here is unnecessarily complicating his own life. He has just overseen the successful renegotiation of NAFTA, which will be reconstituted as the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). But that agreement has not yet been ratified — not by the United States, and not by Mexico. Imposing punitive tariffs over a policy dispute unrelated to trade five minutes after negotiating a new trade pact makes the Trump administration — and the United States — look like an unreliable negotiating partner. Mexico is not wrong to resent it, and even Trump allies such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) are against him on this.

2. Joe Biden, as a senator, was a consistent vote against the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. In the last week, he has flipped on that. Then flopped, and then, reflipped. So much for personal conviction. We editorialize on the presidential wannabe’s repugnant politics. From our editorial:

Biden managed to enrage pro-abortion and left-wing activists just before dashing the hopes of moderates. He raised the visibility of the issue of Medicaid funding of abortion — a policy American voters oppose 58 percent to 36 percent, according to a 2016 poll conducted for Harvard — before deciding to take the unpopular side. For all the confusion Biden caused about his own position, his caving sent a very clear message that pro-life Democrats and those with moderate views on abortion will not be tolerated in the Democratic party.

As a matter of policy, Biden’s final decision to embrace extensive taxpayer funding for abortion is a moral disgrace. Before the passage of the Hyde amendment, Medicaid paid for an estimated 300,000 abortions annually. The Hyde amendment has saved the lives of more than 2 million human beings over the a last four decades, according to a recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. An earlier study from the Guttmacher Institute found that where states use their tax dollars to fund abortion under Medicaid, women on Medicaid had an abortion rate four times that of women not on Medicaid. (In states that do not fund abortion, women on Medicaid were 1.6 times as likely as women not on Medicaid to have abortions.)

Twenty Rowdy, Relevant, and Rocking NRO Articles of Import and Intellect that Will Require Your Full Reading and Thereby Result in an Even Higher IQ!

1. YouTube gives conservative funnyman / wise guy Steven Crowder, targeted by Vox writer Carlos Maza, the Pontius Pilate treatment. Kevin Williamson explains the rage that has become part and parcel of American social media. From his essay:

The Crowder episode is not quite as dramatic as that, but it unfolded along the same lines. When Maza lodged his complaints about Crowder — whose actual offense, it should be noted, was occasionally vivisecting Maza’s purported acts of journalism — the powers that be at YouTube did their best impersonation of Pontius Pilate. They found no fault in the man — or not fault sufficient to show he had broken the terms of service. Crowder’s content “did not violate our Community Guidelines,” YouTube said.

And then, predictably, it changed its mind and caved to the mob, “demonetizing” Crowder’s programming. And YouTube amended its views: “Even if a creator’s content doesn’t violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action.” Which is to say: It doesn’t matter if Steven Crowder follows the rules if the mob hates Steven Crowder. Dennis Prager, a mild-mannered Jewish talk-radio host who does a weekly segment on happiness, has discovered the same thing: Because he takes a traditionalist view of family, religion, sex, and community life, his “PragerU” videos have been restricted on YouTube and removed by Facebook, while his advertisements have been prohibited by Twitter.

(These episodes of conservative-leaning writers and broadcasters making themselves highly dependent on the whims of California-based technology companies attest, I think, to the wisdom of National Review’s business model.)

2. More Crowder: David French sizes up the options conservatives have if the movement wishes to end Silicon Valley’s bias. From his piece:

But to say that there is no easy way to combat the challenge of social-media censorship is not to say there is no way at all. Persuasion, engagement, and market pressure are preferable to attempts to recruit the government to erode First Amendment protections that, in other contexts, stand as a firewall protecting conservative causes and conservative speakers from the emerging culture of coercion.

To rebuild a culture of liberty online, conservatives have to engage two audiences, first and most directly the small audience of men and women who hold the levers of corporate power. Do not presume bad faith. Do not presume that every key executive in every social-media company has closed his or her mind. In fact, we’ve seen persuasion work. We’ve seen accounts reinstated and apologies issued. It happens.

3. Want to get kidnapped? Try being a journalist in Venezuela. Annika Hernroth-Rothstein tells a terrible tale of what happened to her, just one of many stories of some brave souls trying to tell the world about the chaos created by Maduro and his regime of socialist thuggery. From her account:

It’s explained to me that I will be left under Jorges’s supervision and be allowed to spend three hours at my hotel, under constant surveillance by the armed men and their associates, in order to raise the $20,000 and wire it to an account that will be provided by the man with the braces. As a sign of good faith, $1,000 will be collected immediately upon arrival to the hotel and handed over at a drop-off point by José in one hour.

“Can I trust you? Is it wise of me to tie my fate to yours? I am doing this for you now but I need to know you understand the consequences.” Francisco Jorges stares at me and I nod, once again, because I have no real words for what is happening.

When I get out of the car, the man with braces grabs my hand to shake it. “When you’ve done this, when the money is paid in full, you won’t hear from us ever again — your problem is solved.”

4. The “Frenchism” fracas / debate has led Matthew Continetti to map the Right, with its shifting 2019 boundaries. From his analysis:

Ideas matter. But the relation of ideas to political action is difficult to measure and often haphazard. The line between shaping a politician’s rhetoric and decisions and merely reflecting them is awfully fuzzy. The conservative intellectual movement, in addition to generating excellent writing, has had seven real-world applications since its formation after the Second World War: originalism and supply side economics in the 1970s; welfare reform and crime policy in the 1980s and ’90s; educational choice and reform over the last two decades; James Burnham’s anti-Communist strategies that found expression in the Reagan Doctrine; and the counterinsurgency plan known as the “surge” that prevented the defeat of American forces in the second Iraq war. There have been other successes, for sure, but also plenty of setbacks. What’s important to remember is that liberals as well as Republicans, conservative activists, and conservative intellectuals contested every single one of these policies.

The story goes that, for many years, American conservatives adhered to a consensus known as “fusionism.” Economic and social conservatives put aside their differences. Freedom, they decided, was necessary for the exercise of virtue. The struggle against and ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union was more important than domestic politics or intramural disagreements. Conservative intellectuals eager to privilege either freedom or virtue like to attack this consensus, which they often describe as “zombie Reaganism.” The truth is that the strength of fusionism always has been exaggerated. The conservative intellectual movement has been and continues to be fractious, contentious, combustible, and less of a force than most assume.

5. Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on classical-liberalism purists. From the beginning of his reflection:

Are classical-liberal principles sufficient for conservatives and their political action? Or are they insufficient? Do conservatives need to employ or cultivate something beyond them in politics? And what might that be? This is the heart of a debate running fitfully through the American Right. It’s a debate that we’ve had before. But it’s worth having it now, trying to depersonalize it, and moving forward.

First we have to clarify what we mean by classical liberalism. In the little series of essays, volleys, and personal attacks about the future of the American Right, there is a kind of intellectual shortcut at work. It goes something like this: The best of America’s founding principles are modern Enlightenment principles, a body of thought that could be called “liberalism.” And people who declare themselves classical liberals today, whether they be centrists who defend a “liberal world order” or libertarians and conservatives, are the true bearers of this tradition. One often hears them say that because the American Constitution is a liberal one, the work of conservatism is the preservation of a liberalism, “classically understood.”

6. Frank Lavin looks dismally at the U.S.–China trade negotiations, and finds they offer nine lessons. Here are two:

Five. Communications and positioning drive behavior. When the U.S. publicly signals that progress had been made, we might see that as a sign of goodwill while the Chinese might infer that they could game the process. Their (inaccurate) conclusion: The U.S. was so wedded to an orderly finish that there was no chance Trump would respond as he did. Yet Trump had shown for over two years that he is not concerned about being a disrupter and he is comfortable with turmoil.

Six. Economic rationalism is subordinate to economic nationalism. Most or all of what the U.S. is seeking in these talks is in China’s interest. Lower tariffs, more competition, reduced government subsidies, lower inflation. China frequently praises the value of market economics, but when it is asked to move in that direction, nationalism combines with bureaucratic inertia and fear of the unknown to dominate.

7. Helen Raleigh reflects on the 30th anniversary of the PRC’s brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown. The Commies still continue to lie. From her piece:

On the fateful day of June 4, 1989, we woke up to the news that Tiananmen Square had been cleared out, without any official explanation of what had really taken place. In the following days, there were rumors about innocent people being killed in the square, but the government insisted that no one had died. People who participated in the protests were quietly being persecuted. Family and friends whispered that many university students who graduated in the summer of 1989 were sent to work in remote areas as a punishment for their participation in the protests. But the biggest question on the minds of everybody who wasn’t in Beijing on that fateful day was: What truly happened in Tiananmen Square?

Only later, when I came to the U.S., did I learn the answer: Armed troops had fired indiscriminately on crowds made up of unarmed students and civilians. I saw photos, including the famous image of the Tank Man, a lone figure standing in front of rows of tanks. I read eyewitness accounts and news reports, and learned the estimated death toll was in the thousands. Thousands more were persecuted afterward. I was shocked and felt sick to my stomach.

8. More China, plus some Russia: Jim Geraghty looks at a new book by ABC’s Jim Sciutto and finds a former Obama minion critical of his old boss’s foreign policy. From the beginning of the piece:

At the end of 2011, Jim Sciutto moved to Beijing to become chief of staff and senior policy adviser to U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, after spending a decade as ABC News senior foreign correspondent. After his two-year stint in China, Sciutto returned to the world of journalism and was named CNN’s chief national-security correspondent. This move from a position in the Obama administration to a major cable-news organization led to familiar complaints that Sciutto was biased, and that he would be unlikely to assess his former colleagues and bosses fairly.

But anyone who wanted Sciutto’s new book, The Shadow War: Inside Russia’s and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America, to offer a flattering portrait of the Obama administration will be deeply disappointed. In fact, anecdote by anecdote, chapter by chapter, Sciutto assembles a stinging indictment. (He’s also not all that impressed with most of the Trump administration’s moves, although he credits it for “aggressively calling out Chinese theft of U.S. secrets.”)

It’s easy to forget just how stubbornly naïve the Obama administration could be in its dealings, particularly with Russia. It began with Hillary Clinton’s infamous “reset button” ceremony with Russian foreign minister Sergi Lavrov and continued with the president’s 2012 debate comment that “the 1980s are now calling to get their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Obama declared at the G-7 summit in 2014 that Russia was a “regional power” and that its territorial ambitions “belonged in the 19th century.” But Obama’s 21st-century worldview had no effective response to those ambitions.

The Shadow War isn’t merely Sciutto’s personal assessment. Many of the most stinging passages quote Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2013 to 2016. Pyatt describes a meeting early in his time in that post with European Union official Stefan Rule during a conference in Yalta, Crimea: “It was the first time I had ever met him, and he came on very, very strongly and said basically, ‘Where the hell are the Americans? Don’t you realize that there is a great struggle that’s going on right now to define the future of the European periphery? We need an engaged America.’”

9. A guy makes a goofy video about Nancy Pelosi, and the MSM police at the Daily Beast hunt him down, expose him, and proudly pound their chests. Rich Lowry sees shabby journalism at its 2019 best. From his new column:

Widely criticized for its decision to name the man — or in online parlance, “dox” him — the Daily Beast defended its story as a way to show “that disinformation isn’t the purview of Russia alone.” But who ever believed this?

The Left is so obsessed with the idea that Russia, after its desultory social-media campaign in 2016, pulls the strings of our democracy that it assumes every noxious piece of content on the Internet might have been cooked up in a Russian troll farm.

Even if it’s relevant that someone in the Bronx rather than St. Petersburg produced the video, that didn’t require naming the man — let alone citing an Instagram post of his using an abusive term to refer to a woman who allegedly kicked him on the subway, detailing his employment history, talking to his ex-girlfriend, or delving into his guilty plea to a domestic violence charge and an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a probation violation. (The man denies many of the details of the story.)

All of this was completely gratuitous. The balance, which any responsible publication should have considered, between the public benefit of naming the man (none) and the personal harm that might be done by naming him (considerable) isn’t even close.

Of course, it matters that he is a Trump supporter. Outlets like the Daily Beast don’t make a routine practice of hunting down trolls who are producing the vast sea of anti-Trump material online, because they don’t consider spoofing or maligning Trump to be a threat to democracy or at all undesirable.

10. Cory Booker has a housing-subsidy proposal. And Robert VerBruggen exposes it for its stupidity. His analysis.

11. Joe Biden has a “Clean Energy Revolution” plan. Deroy Murdock looks at the price tag: It’s $1.7 trillion. From his column:

Former vice president Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution exploded on the launch pad Tuesday. Large, now-attributed passages of his manifesto against so-called global warming initially were lifted from other publications. Biden’s plagiarism recalled his flat-out theft of a speech by far-left British parliamentarian Neil Kinnock in 1987.

But Biden’s plan is far worse than just partially stolen. It confirms that the “centrist” Biden is just another big-government leftist, hooked on high taxes and reckless spending.

Biden’s Revolution is a $1.7 trillion tax hike. It enshrines his pitch to voters in South Carolina and elsewhere: “First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts.” Biden pledges to rescind the tax relief that has resuscitated U.S. industry, revived 3.2 percent GDP growth, and reduced unemployment to 3.6 percent and historical or near-record lows for blacks, Hispanics, and women.

After siphoning $1.7 trillion from America’s productive sector, Biden would follow the liberal playbook: Assign Washington-based experts to redistribute this bounty more wisely and justly than the bedraggled American people ever could.

12. Percolating through the courts is a case with massive destructive potential, writes Joel C. Peterson: It’s Love Terminal Partners v. United States, and when it comes to confiscating property, if you thought Kelo was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. From the analysis:

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates that private property cannot be taken for public use “without just compensation.” But this clause was eviscerated by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Love Terminal Partners v. United States, which held that any property not earning a current positive cash flow can be taken by the government without a dime of compensation. Unless this ruling is reversed on appeal, it will have a devastating impact on the value of millions of properties with excellent prospects for appreciation but no current tenants. And it will put all real-estate investments not earning money at risk of being stolen by the government.

The case has its roots in the Wright Amendment. This anti-competitive law was designed to protect Fort Worth’s interest in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by sharply restricting flights out of Love Field Airport in Dallas. Sponsored by the late House speaker Jim Wright, this artificial restriction on competition created a business opportunity at Love Field, where a group of investors poured millions of dollars into building a state-of-the-art air terminal. For a while, the investment paid off: The new Lemmon Avenue Terminal earned revenues from an anchor tenant, Legend Airlines, and from Delta Airlines. But Legend went bankrupt in 2000, just before the whole industry was devastated by the events of 9/11. Industry leaders American, Delta, and United subsequently declared bankruptcy, and eight legacy carriers became four.

13. Kat Timpf researches the researchers’ research, and reports on the woke conclusion that Dodgeball is a form of oppression. From her article:

I know that these researchers would probably say that I just don’t get it, that they’re just smarter than I am, that I just haven’t thought about it enough or learned enough. The truth is, though, there’s a such thing as thinking about something so much that you lose track of how simple it really is in reality. Too much thinking can often make things more complicated than they really are, and this is definitely an example of that.

Yes, dodgeball encourages competitiveness. Yes, the stronger, more athletic kids are going to be more successful at it than the weaker ones, but what game doesn’t have winners and losers? I mean, seriously, this is so ridiculous. If we thought about all children’s games through this kind of social-justice lens, kids wouldn’t be allowed to play any of them. After all, couldn’t you say that a game like musical chairs just isn’t “inclusive” enough, that it actually promotes exclusion? Couldn’t you argue that games like tag and hide-and-seek encourage stalking behaviors? Or that Simon Says teaches women that they have to do what men say? Like, why isn’t it “Sara Says,” patriarchy?

14. Matt Continetti finds much to praise in President Trump’s D-Day speech. From his piece:

The address deserves a wide audience not only for its content but also because it fits into the larger themes of this presidency. Speaking from what he described as “Freedom’s Altar,” Donald Trump once again made the case for reviving America’s national spirit, sovereignty, and strength.

Trump told the story of D-Day and of some exemplary GIs before an audience that included more than 60 veterans of the landings themselves. Adding to the poignancy of the scene was the knowledge that the Greatest Generation is slowly fading into posterity. “When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a Great Crusade — one of the greatest of all times,” the president said. “Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil.”

15. How I love ya, how I love ya, my dear old . . . Armond White sees the Tate Taylor-directed Ma as the kind of cliché black-mammy stereotype Hollywood would create, and that Tinseltown deserves. From his review:

Taylor, who directed the sickeningly sanctimonious The Help in 2011, doesn’t seem to get that Ma operates as a black-mammy stereotype. It is played by The Help’s hard-staring Octavia Spencer, first seen dressed in pink slacks and print scrubs, walking a three-legged dog from her job as a veterinarian’s assistant. This perverse matriarchal figure turns mammy stereotypes upside down: Not benevolent in the Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, Butterfly McQueen tradition, she’s sneakily malevolent, a woman who takes service employment to mean subservient. And her resentment is lethal.

[John] Waters is so outré that he stays ahead of the progressive curve. He would understand Ma to be a comedy of revenge (like his slatterns in Female Trouble), while Taylor lags behind in Hollywood’s race-and-gender sweepstakes and directs for pathos.

Spencer’s post-Obama Mammy indulges the underage teens in her small town — buying liquor for them and inviting them to use her basement as a place to party. She concocts a scheme to get back at their parents who had, a generation before, subjected her to unforgettable humiliation. (And it continues when the circle of cruel, fickle teenagers text “Everybody block Ma for good!”)

16. Kyle Smith praises Denis Do’s animation film about the madness of communist Cambodia, Funan. From his review:

Funan is a human drama, not a history lesson, and yet Do nails both the specific and the general horror of collectivization. The Communist Party, Angkar (literally, “the Organization”), is on a demented crusade to create “new people” out of the Cambodian citizens. The family’s Western-style clothes must be turned in and replaced by loose black unisex two-piece garments: the People’s pajamas. “We’re all the same now,” a revolutionary says, exultant. Women’s hair gets chopped off, and women and men work side by side in hard labor. Everyone lives off rice; to shake fruit out of a tree is to risk execution by the regime. The people don’t dare eat the People’s fruit.

The script doesn’t attempt to capture the big picture of what happened in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, but by exploring a single family’s plight as it gets sucked into the maelstrom, it makes for a profoundly insightful exposé of how collectivism actually works. Funan isn’t merely first-rate for an animated movie, it’s important by any cinematic standard, and implicitly it shames the world’s leading film hubs for almost completely ignoring this bloody chapter in history. The Khmer Rouge killed, via starvation and mass execution, nearly a quarter of the population of their country. What has Hollywood had to say about this in the last 44 years? Well, there was The Killing Fields, back in 1984. That was pretty much it.

17. More Kyle: He . . . glows . . . about the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. It’s a “brilliant” indictment of socialism. From the review:

I can scarcely praise Chernobyl enough. Creator Craig Mazin’s five-part miniseries, which just wrapped Monday night, is a masterful suspense tale directed with nerve-shredding gusto by Johan Renck: a whodunnit looking backward in time as the characters try to figure out the cause of the 1986 catastrophe but also a mystery moving forward, as the specialists try to figure out how to save millions from dying. It’s a terrifically stimulating lesson on the details of nuclear energy that artfully weaves in reams of expository and technical dialogue without ever disrupting the drama. Around the edges it courses with Kubrickian black comedy: The phrase “It’s only 3.6 roentgens” ought to enter the language as shorthand for any absurd effort to downplay bad news. Chernobyl is an exceptionally compelling human drama: The soot-faced leader of a company of miners is an archetype for all of the brave and suffering working men down through the ages who have had to put their backs into the job of correcting mistakes made by their educated betters. The way Mazin distills the complexity of the situation into potent dialogue is a marvel. Overarching all of the above is Chernobyl’s most vital quality: Its devastating exposure of gigantic political failure.

18. Even More Kyle: Ron Howard’s documentary, Pavarotti, is “unspeakably beautiful.” Mamma mia! From the review’s conclusion:

Pavarotti developed a mania for charity and dragged U2’s Bono with him. He demanded that the Irishman write a song for him and leverage it to benefit the children hurt by the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. Bono blanched at the prospect, plus he was busy recording in Dublin. Pavarotti kept calling. “Is God at home?” he would say. He chatted up the Italian housekeeper so she would hound Bono as well. “The technique is humility, which is of course a very mischievous trick,” Bono recalls. Then the great tenor showed up on Bono’s doorstep, with a camera crew, or rather, in Bono’s words, a “f***ing camera crew.” The resultant hostage-video style footage of Bono is priceless: He grudgingly commits to a charity performance with Pavarotti in the latter’s hometown of Modena later that year. On, er, what date? “September 12,” his captor dictates. “September 12,” says Bono. The song finally created, by Bono and his fellow son of a tenor, the Edge, was the gorgeous “Miss Sarajevo,” which uses Pavarotti’s voice like an appeal from heaven.

As Pavarotti devoured life, however, he left some around him emotionally famished, and to Howard’s credit he spends a considerable portion of the film weighing the damage of philandering. Adua Veroni, the tenor’s wife from 1961 to 2000, reflects on dealing with Pavarotti’s many affairs, and his children were aghast when he took up with Nicoletta Mantovani, a woman 34 years his junior. Yet towards the end there was reconciliation if not quite forgiveness. Terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, which claimed his life in 2007, Pavarotti explains his deepest regrets: He wishes he had been a good husband and father. A man who had millions in the bank and the adulation of the world neglected the most basic duties, and that’s a life lesson as well.

19. Mexico, which promotes a liberal “asylum” policy, is in reality a free rider, says Mark Krikorian. From his piece:

Of course, Mexico has little incentive to agree to take back third-country nationals once they’ve crossed into the U.S.; in the game of asylum hot potato, we’ve lost. Hence the tariff threat, to try to change the Mexicans’ incentives.

But as a matter of principle, the U.S. demand that Mexico sign a safe-third-country agreement is stronger than it looks. It’s not just that Mexican authorities often look the other way — or even provide assistance — as hundreds of thousands of foreigners pass through its territory on the way north. Rather, the possibility of asylum in the U.S. serves as way for Mexico to avoid the consequences of its own very expansive asylum laws.

Mexico is a signatory to the 1951 Convention (and the 1967 Protocol, which expanded the refugee treaty from just Europe to the whole world). Under that treaty, the definition of a refugee is anyone outside his country who is unwilling to return because of a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” This definition has been added to U.S. law.

20. A Dutch girl is brutally raped by two men. She becomes so depressed that she wants to die, and three years later, at the age of 17, with the complicity of her parents and doctors, she starves herself to death. This, write Maddy Kearns, is how the mentally struggling are treated in the Netherlands. From her commentary:

In her short life, Pothoven had endured horrific sexual abuse. In her award-winning autobiography, she explained that she was assaulted at the age of eleven and then raped by two men at the age of 14. After this, she developed depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia. She underwent psychiatric treatment and attempted to take her own life multiple times. Pothoven told De Gelderlander of the “humiliating” and “degrading” experience of involuntary procedures.

None of this should be taken lightly. But neither should the fact that she was a deeply traumatized teenager who might have changed her mind, as teenagers often do.

One of the biggest objections to euthanasia is that, once you okay it in certain circumstances, it is very difficult to keep the gates “narrow.” Those who seek to introduce assisted dying in Britain, for instance, argue that it ought to be for adults who are terminally ill. But in other countries this position was soon after extended to those who are chronically ill, or — as we have seen in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland — to children. Besides, what about the mentally ill? Or those who, after some tragedy or trauma like Pothoven, want to call it quits?

Critics often dismiss this “slippery slope” argument, suggesting that it is overwrought. It isn’t. But to be fair, it is — or at least it should be — a secondary point. The primary objection to euthanasia is philosophical, not pragmatic: Absolute autonomy is not sufficient as a justification for state-sponsored suicide, because every member of society is inexorably connected. And so, when a given member desires to kill herself, much is at stake for all of us in how we respond.

Won’t You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise?

Inspired by Frankie Ford, I want to urge you to join us this August, from the 24th to the 31st, on the National Review 2019 Canada/New England Conservative Cruise, a Montreal-to-Boston beaut that is going to be an amazing week of great sites and discussions of current events. Get complete information at

While we’ve got water on the brain . . . how about a potential European riverboat charter? One is in the works: NR is looking to charter AMA Waterways AmaMora for an April 2020 journey from Basel to Amsterdam. We will be making a final decision on the trip on Friday, June 15, so there is still time be part of it. Get complete information and reserve one of the AmaMora’s beautiful staterooms at

The Brand New June 24, 2019 Issue of NR Magazine Is a Treasury of Wisdom, and Here Are Four Precious Gemstones of Brilliance

The new issue sports a Roman Genn cover (it’s been a while!) and numerous exceptional essays. We’ll highlight these four:

1. Kevin Williamson’s cover essay scores the Trump tariffs’ blowback on American farmers. From his essay:

So, here’s the thing about soybeans. Americans produce beaucoup soybeans. Brazil and Argentina, being in the Southern Hemisphere, produce gigantic crops in the U.S. off-season. China has a powerful hunger for soybeans, albeit a mostly indirect one. Two kinds of creatures walking this earth really like eating soybeans: pigs and hippies. Chinese people do eat soybeans, too, but what the nouveau riche Chinese palate has a real taste for just now is pork and, to a lesser extent, chicken. That’s a pretty predictable thing following a pretty familiar pattern: When poor countries become less poor— though with a per capita GDP of less than $9,000 a year, down there with Cuba and Kazakhstan, China is by no means a rich country—the first thing the people usually spend their newly disposable income on is more and better food, which in much of the world means more and better animal protein.

The world is hungry for protein, and the American Heartland is the Saudi Arabia, the de Beers, and the Fire Creek gold mine of protein, including soy protein. Kevin Scott’s soy protein comes out of the ground, goes into the hopper and then down to the silo, rides the rails from South Dakota to the Pacific Northwest or the Gulf of Mexico, is loaded into shipping containers or massive PANAMAX bulk carriers, some of which are specially outfitted for carrying grains or soybeans with their hulls sloped at 45 degrees to make stevedoring easier, and then continues on to ports around the world, Chinese ports such as those at Dalian and Nantong prominent among them. At some point along the way, the beans get ground into meal, and that meal goes into animal feed—down the gullets of Chinese chickens or, more likely, into the monogastric digestive tract of a Chinese pig. And thence into the butcher’s case at whatever the Chinese answer to Piggly-Wiggly or Whole Foods or Albertson’s is. That’s what used to happen. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

And along came Trump.

2. Andy McCarthy gives chapter and verse about the bull doodie that is the main ingredient of Christopher Steele’s infamous (shoddy!) dossier. From his analysis:

Nevertheless it’s worth asking: Just how reliable was Christopher Steele?

Steele was a virulently anti-Trump partisan. The media Democrat encomia therefore hail him as a meticulous former British intelligence officer with a formidable record. So highly regarded was he that MI6 put him in charge of the investigation of the Putin regime’s brazen murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian-intelligence operative who had defected to Britain. Less often mentioned is that Steele had been Litvinenko’s handler when he was poisoned in 2006. Steele, we’re further told, was so well connected that he was chosen to run MI6’s all-important Russia desk. Well, yes . . . but he ran it from London. In the late Nineties, through no fault of his own, his cover in Moscow, along with that of scores of other spies, had been blown. When he was retained to pen the dossier reports, he hadn’t been to Russia in nearly 20 years. His recruiter and collaborator was the self-professed “journalist for rent” Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. Simpson had co-founded a so-called intelligence firm, Fusion GPS, which had been contracted to do anti-Trump research for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee by Perkins Coie, their law firm.

3. John J. Miller profiles the “Tea Party” governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, fresh from a tough GOP primary contest (he won) and heading into a reelection battle this November. From his piece:

Now Democrats are dreaming of a big upset in a deep-red state. If they can beat Bevin in November, they’ll create a sense of momentum on the eve of the 2020 election. Kentucky is one of three states to elect a governor in the odd-numbered year before a presidential contest (the others are Louisiana and Mississippi). This quirk of the political calendar means that Kentucky stands to receive an outsized share of attention this summer and fall as reporters and pundits watch Bevin’s race, pick apart what happens, and search for signs of what’s to come. In a profession prone to gasbaggery, they’ll gather a scarce resource: new data. On the night of November 5 and in the days that follow, they’ll use it to opine on what the fate of Bevin reveals about the reelection prospects of Trump.

The political class may be especially disposed to overinterpret Kentucky’s results in 2019, because four years ago it arguably underinterpreted them: Few saw Bevin’s come-from-behind performance in 2015 as foreshadowing the surprise of Trump in 2016. “It’s easy in hindsight to make these connections,” says the governor on the short flight to Somerset. He ticks off the similarities: Like Trump, he has a background in business. He was running for what would become his first political office. Much of his party’s establishment opposed him. Trump’s campaign, he says, “was a scaled-up version of what I had done in 2015.”

Whatever Bevin’s story teaches about Trump, however, it may say even more about the future of conservatism at a time when the word’s very meaning is up for grabs. His governorship has tested the viability of an agenda of labor-market and entitlement reforms, and his victory or defeat later this year will help answer the question of whether a tea-party upstart can shift from populist protester to accomplished government executive.

4. Viva Warren G. Harding! David Harsanyi uses the “Happy Warrior” column space to reflect on list-makers who love to rank presidents, and the qualifications they should use, but don’t. From his column:

Take C-SPAN’s Presidential Historians Survey, in which nearly 100 “historians and biographers” rated 43 presidents on ten qualities of leadership to tally their scores. The categories used in this pseudo-historical assessment—public persuasion, crisis leadership, moral authority, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision and setting an agenda, equal justice for all—are all useful, but mostly political considerations.

It rarely occurs to our list-makers, it seems, that presidents can be supremely talented politicians, wielding power with great skill and gravitas, and still do great damage to the office and the nation. Never do these historians evaluate presidents on their most difficult, and often most precarious, political decision: not to use their power.

The president’s charge isn’t to create intergenerational welfare programs, or to placate journalists with platitudinous sound bites, or to engage in friendly bipartisan relations with Congress, even if those acts seem to be most admired by historians. The oath of the presidency doesn’t even read “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and exhibit great moral authority.”

Though, speaking of moral authority, the two top-ranked presidents are almost always Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and really, who are mere mortals to quibble? After that, however, we see an unhealthy adoration of power, which speaks to a misunderstanding of the presidency itself.

Also in the issue: A special section on The Law, with pieces by David, who opposes federal district court judges making nation-binding decisions; Charlie Cooke, who writes on the liberal culture’s growing antagonism towards free speech; Dan McLaughlin, who unpacks the Democrats’ terrible idea of court packing; and Jonathan Adler, who attacks the High Court’s horrendous Chevron precedent, which empowers the bureaucrat over the legislator.

The Six.

1. Father George Rutler, this side of the confessional, takes to Crisis to lambast the mendacity of public officials, focusing on presidential wannabe Kirsten Gillibrand, eager to rewrite Catechism. From his piece:

While experience cautions theologians against the quicksand of politics, politicians frequently rush into theological matters where angels fear to tread, as Senator Gillibrand did on May 29 in a broadcast on National Public Radio. She announced that the Church is wrong about abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and the male priesthood. This puts her at odds with all the saints and doctors of the Church, and Jesus Christ. The latter sent his Holy Spirit on Pentecost to lead the Church into all truth, and it is hard to believe that he reversed himself in the recent years of our Republic. Since it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), the Lord would be at a disadvantage were he to run for the Senate from New York. This would be a trifling matter were it not for the fact that Senator Gillibrand tells Catholics that she is a Catholic. Nevertheless, she seems certain that the Church’s teaching on essential dogmas are quixotic, as she put it: “And I don’t think they’re supported by the Gospel or the Bible in any way. I just—I don’t see it, and I go to two Bible studies a week. I take my faith really seriously.”

On various issues, Gillibrand has boasted about her “flexibility.” This was evident in her positions on gun ownership. Running for Congress in 2008 from a district populated by hunters, she wrote: “I appreciate the work that the NRA does to protect gun owners’ rights, and I look forward to working with you for many years.” After enjoying a 100 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association as a Representative, she became a supple Senator and soon switched mental gears, earning an “F” from that same NRA which she then described as “the worst organization in the country.” Such flexibility reminds one of Ramsay MacDonald whom Churchill likened to the Boneless Wonder of Barnum’s circus: “A spectacle too demoralizing and revolting for my young eyes.”

This mendacity became bolder on June 2 in a televised Fox News “town hall” forum when she said that “infanticide doesn’t exist.” Thus she ignored the “late-term” abortion bill signed by Governor Cuomo on January 22, as he sat next to a smiling Sarah Weddington, counsel to the lying, and later repentant, plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case. In his own Senate days, Mr. Obama led the way as a paladin of infanticide. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, who knows what he is talking about as a pediatric neurologist, admitted with insouciance: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

2. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh exposes the Iranian–Palestinian plan to hamstring President Trump’s efforts at a Middle East peace conference. From his analysis:

As the US administration prepares to roll out its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” Iran appears to be increasing its efforts to help its allies in the region try to thwart the plan.

Recently, Iran seems to have stepped up its political and military support for radical Palestinian groups that are staunchly opposed to any peace agreement with Israel. These groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and are publicly committed to its destruction and replacement by an Iranian-backed Islamic state.

Iran, of course, has long shared the same ambition of destroying Israel and has never hesitated to make its position known to the world. In several statements during the past few decades, Iranian leaders have been frank about their wish that Israel be “a one-bomb country.”

3. At College Fix, Christian Schneider checks out the very active doings of the Speech Police at the University of Illinois. From his report:

But while many universities have bias response teams, what seems to set the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana apart is that its team has a sort of punitive arm to it, the lawsuit alleges. Many campus officials who run the bias response teams say they simply collect the data, but UICU appears to take it a step farther by either foisting educational conversations on students or barring them from talking about certain subjects or even contacting other students.

Among bias complaints fielded during the 2017-18 school year, Resident Assistants reported that they saw the word “retarded” and a drawing of a penis on a bulletin board while they did rounds. In response, there was a floor meeting and a floor email about this incident.

In another case, an RA in University Housing reported that when on rounds she noticed a white board that asked passersby to rank the “best language.” The list included several languages, both real and fake, in addition to some programming languages. One option was “Mexicanese.” The housing staff met directly with the affected parties and held an educational program for students, according to the university’s report.

Other complaints dealt with professors. In one instance, a student emailed a professor asking about taking a history class and the professor responded by giving the student information about African Studies when she didn’t ask about African Studies. In response, a “member of the team met with the student and followed up the Chair of the department, who followed up with the professor,” the report stated.

4. Marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the great Mackubin Owens takes to Law & Liberty to honor Operation Neptune, the naval operations that were central to the overall Operation Overlord. From his essay:

The landings at Normandy on that Tuesday morning in the spring of 1944, and the campaign to liberate Europe that followed, are among the great enterprises in human history. For Americans, Operation Neptune, and especially D-Day, ranks among the country’s most epic campaigns and battles, alongside Gettysburg, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Iwo Jima. It deserves to be studied—and remembered—by generations. When we look back on great events, there is a tendency to assume that success was somehow preordained. But as the example of D-Day shows, the actors in this great drama had to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The invasion’s failure was a distinct possibility. What would have been the consequences? It would certainly have changed the course of history. To begin with, the war would have been lengthened and the strategic position of the United States and Great Britain in Europe weakened vis a vis the Soviet Union, which might well have ended up dominating not only Eastern and Central Europe at war’s end but also Western Europe. Even a stalemate between Germany and the Soviet Union would have meant a whole Continent condemned to live under totalitarianism. A lengthier war would have given Nazi Germany more time to carry out its policy of destroying European Jewry.

Hence D-Day can be understood on several levels. As noted, at the strategic and policy levels, success on 6 June required successes in other theaters: the Eastern Front, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific. Fortunately, despite the fact that the Allies were at odds ideologically—the Soviet Union on the one hand and the United States and Great Britain on the other—they operated in concert, albeit not perfectly. The Axis, although composed of countries with similar ideologies, failed to cooperate or coordinate their efforts. Thus the Allies were free to deal with the three Axis powers separately.

5. More from Law & Liberty, as Titus Techera revisits the great fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and says its rebuilding must also initiate a conversation amongst the French elite about reevaluating their embrace of secularism. From his piece:

The status of Notre Dame and the purpose of its rebuilding will reopen the theological-political problem people believe to have been settled by the laicization of 1905 and will thus renew a great political quarrel in France. How Catholic is France? Macron spoke in his usual empty words, saying the history of France and the destiny of France are more or less the same, and they require this rebuilding, and it shall be done—the people want it. We must hope he will now become more thoughtful about why Notre Dame matters to the French, beyond tourism or a vague sense of pride.

The theological-political problem I mentioned is itself part of the history of Notre Dame. Before it was laicized by the Third Republic along with all French churches built before 1905, it was desecrated with great energy during the First Republic soon after the French Revolution. Nevertheless the French celebrate both the Revolution and Notre Dame.

The question concerning rebuilding Notre Dame thus points to the massive political conflict in France in our own times. The Fifth Republic itself is in crisis. On the one hand, Macron is the favored son and champion of the France of the prospering cities and the upper classes. But his supporters are far fewer than his great victory in the second round of balloting might suggest—far fewer than polls themselves may suggest, which nevertheless reveal his unpopularity.

On the other hand, the opposition to Macron is united only in disliking him with various degrees of intensity. Much of the population, perhaps a majority, doesn’t really believe he has their best interests at heart. It would be very difficult to persuade them they are wrong.

6. At the James G. Martin Center, Daniel Kline looks at the firing of witch-hunted researcher Noah Carl by Cambridge University’s St. Edmunds College, and deciphers the lefty playbook when a witch-hunt is the play called for. From his analysis:

I was the external examiner on Dr. Carl’s DPhil from Nuffield, Oxford, so I am familiar with his work. It is a data-intensive investigation of cognitive ability (or intelligence) and its correlates, including ideological views, trust, and self-rated happiness. He wrote a report for the classical liberal Adam Smith Institute on why British academics lean left, and argued that intelligence does not work as explanation. He has published several analyses of the Brexit vote. He follows the scientific literature in recognizing that both “nature” and “nurture” affect the development of cognitive ability. He has not conducted research on race or ethnicity as factors in cognitive ability, but he has written a courageous and thoughtful essay about the ethics of preemptively shutting down such research.

Dr. Carl, then, is a serious and highly accomplished researcher who simply does not conform to leftist ways of interpreting the world and who is not cowed by leftist taboos. As such, he has been singled out as a miscreant. Disgraceful means have been used to take him down. The charges are defamatory.

I read about the rescinding in a May 1 article in Varsity. No less than three times does the article quote Dr. Carl’s former employer saying that he had “collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views,” without naming a single such individual. It notes that Dr. Carl attended a conference on intelligence research. Many enemies are quoted, calling him a racist, etc., but not a single friend or defender.


Intrigued as we all are by the question, I wonder how Lou Gehrig performed when the Yankees first called him up in 1923? Your Truly took to to find the info. And lo and behold, interesting things were stumbled upon.

Yes, about Lou, but not so much about him. The Iron Horse (who didn’t become a full-time Major Leaguer until 1925) dabbled in the minor leagues in 1923 and 1924, playing for the Eastern League’s Hartford Senators, and was called up on occasion by the big team in The Bronx. Gehrig’s first truly great game came late in 1923, in a September 28 contest at Fenway Park, in which the Yankees beat the begeebers out of the Red Sox, 24–4. Gehrig got four hits, three of them doubles, and drove in four runs. (Babe Ruth slapped five hits, including a home run, and catcher Wally Schang also got five hits and drove in as many runs.)

The truly amazing thing about the beatdown can be found in the Boston side of the box score. Howard Ehmke is best remembered as Connie Mack’s surprise starter in the first game of the 1929 World Series, in which the veteran, gangly “slowball” hurler pitched a 3–1 complete game victory over the Chicago Cubs — 13 of whom went down on strikes. Ehmke would also start Game 5, but lasted just three and two-thirds innings (the As would win the game and the series in dramatic fashion with three runs in the bottom of the 9th).

Back to that Fenway Park game in 1923: Ehmke, then playing for the Red Sox, and figuring as the staff’s ace, started that game. He went six innings. He gave up 21 hits and 17 runs — 16 of them earned. (Reliever Clarence Blethen gave up nine hits and seven runs in the game’s three remaining innings.) Ehmke’s performance — the opportunity for Gehrig’s first great performance — has to be one of the worst outings in MLB history.

A Dios

So many years later, oremus: For those who died on the beaches and amongst the hedgerows, for those who fell from the skies, let us pray for the peaceful repose of their souls, and ask the Creator for assurance that their wounds, real and spiritual, are eternally healed.

God’s Blessings and Graces on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler

Who is the willing recipient of your gossip and grammatical nit-pickerry via missives sent to

National Review

Just Minutes to Spare

Dear Weekend Jolter,

May is in the rear view mirror, Mr. Mueller has deposited something into the punchbowl as he left the building (plenty of that below), and — of a much more parochial matter — the NR 2019 Spring Webathon approaches its very end this weekend. Indeed, there may be just minutes left, hence the urge of HURRY! to those having a sincere desire to contribute.

Should you? Our original goal of $175,000 has been revised and extended — we are hoping now to reach maybe $200,000 in kind contributions by midnight on June 2. The goal is amended in good conscience, as the true needs of NR are double even that amount. Help us reach it.

Our siren song to get you to reach for the wallet has been NR’s energized efforts to combat the reemergence of socialism — our readers’ generosity helps us do much more to confront this true evil, this threat to the free markets which have saved billions from impoverishment. Our writers have help us with the appeals, and our final such entreaty comes from Michael Brendan Dougherty, who rats out Socialism as a power grab, not a means to freedom or equality. Here’s part of his pitch:

We see how this perverted instinct cares little about dismantling the power of Google and Facebook, and not at all about redistributing their wealth, because socialism never was about equality, but about power and subjection. Our modern socialists see these behemoths as tools that can be used to build socialism together. Digital technologies and publishing disruption have destroyed most of our local newspapers. These companies have essentially brought the public square under their own control. And this culture is bidding them to censor voices like ours, and yours.

NR stands athwart this malign spirit of censorship. And you must do so as well. We have to be strong. It is in the storm that a ship’s crew comes together, doing their various jobs and proving themselves. You have a role to play in these stormy times.

We know you want to give, so please — HURRY! — and do it. Here. With our deep gratitude.

Speaking of MBD

In Michael’s Webathon appeal, he embraces his broader writings, about how the tech gurus have been riding roughshod over social-media platforms, employing a double standard that allows Leftist judge-and-jury geeks to silence conservatives in ways that can be considered arbitrary. But they are indeed quite intentional. He’s just written an important NRO piece, “Silicon Valley, America’s De Facto Censor,” that amplifies his argument. From his commentary:

Let’s stipulate right from the start that Silicon Valley is making up the rules as it goes along. And it is terrible at the job of censorship and political management. It responds to one set of panicked demands in Germany, then another in America. It goes from one publicity crisis manufactured by the mainstream press to another. And we know which direction those cut. The left-winger who was arrested ahead of a plan to bomb Trump Tower bragged on Instagram about donating money to Hamas, an organization deemed terrorist by most Western governments. Facebook, the parent company, did nothing to restrain his behavior. But the weirdos of the online Right — even the fringes — get banned for doing acts of journalism.

Google banned advertising in the run-up to Ireland’s national referendum on abortion rights last year for fear of “meddling,” a claim that it did not substantiate. The campaign looking to introduce legal abortion welcomed the ban, because it plainly helped them. Facebook also censored an ad, by the conservative Iona Institute, that featured a computer-generated image of an intact fetus. It had to reverse that decision later.

The problem goes beyond the large social networks. Banks, credit-card companies, payment processors, fundraising sites, Internet-hosting sites, and registrars have all been pressured to apply some political tests against users. Looked at from a certain angle, left-wing activist groups have asked that tools and tactics developed by the military and private companies to combat the rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda be deployed against conservatives on the home front.

Vitamin Sea

Happy to announce that Mark Janus, the man whose diligence led to the Supreme Court’s powerful 2018 decision upholding the First Amendment rights of government workers — protecting them from engaging in and paying for speech-compelled government-union bosses — will be joining us as a guest speaker on NR’s 2019 Canada / New England Conservative Cruise, scheduled for August 24–31 on Holland America Line’s beautiful Zaandam. Do you want to come? Sure you do! Doctor’s orders: Gotta get you some “Vitamin Sea.” Get that beautiful stateroom at, where you’ll find complete information about this wonderful trip.

One Big, Beautiful Score (Plus Three!) of Exemplary Wisdom from NRO’s Remarkable Writers

1. Andy McCarthy paints a picture of a media in panic over AG Barr executing the President’s order to declassify documents that might very well embarrass the Obama Administration. From the beginning of his analysis:

Last week, President Trump conferred on Attorney General Bill Barr the authority to declassify documents relevant to his inquiry into what we can collectively call “the Russia investigation.” This includes not only “Crossfire Hurricane,” the counterintelligence probe formally opened by the FBI in late July 2016, but all of the relevant investigative threads, including those pursued by other intelligence agencies — such as the CIA’s collaborations with foreign intelligence services, beginning in 2015.

In other words, the public is about to learn a lot more about decision-making during the Obama administration. As night follows day, the Democrat-media complex went apoplectic. Gone are the days when the press always wanted more information because it perceived its role, vouchsafed by the Constitution, to be the public’s eye on government.

Much of the mainstream media is now in an all but openly declared partnership with one of our two major political parties. Consequently, when a Republican administration is in power or being questioned, classified leaks are the order of the day. When a Democratic administration is under the microscope, we get lectures on the wages of compromising intelligence secrets, especially methods and sources.

2. Andy Encore: This time he reflects on the up-to-his eyeballs dossier dodgery of former CIA director John Brennan, the one-time Commie-voting ever-bureaucrat, equipped in all the latter’s dark arts. From his analysis:

As is typically the case when Brennan and the CIA have a problem, there’s a big New York Times story putting their spin on it. It has to be parsed exactingly. And there’s some glossary you’ll need, or else you’ll miss the sleight of hand. The two words at issue are informant and source. In common parlance, they are often used interchangeably. But they are saliently different, especially in a story about spycraft. An informant is a cooperator who intentionally provides information to government agents. A source is whom or what the information comes from — often a person, sometimes an operation (like a wiretap). A source can be witting or unwitting. A source can also be the informant (which is why the terms are often conflated), but very often a source’s information is communicated to an informant through one or more intermediaries. An important example: Christopher Steele, who is often referred to as a source, was actually an informant, whose sources were multiple layers of hearsay removed from him.

3. And Take Another Bow: Andy reviews Mueller’s exit speech. From his analysis:

Mueller, after all, did decide there was insufficient evidence on collusion, so he obviously did not understand the guidance to forbid him from rendering judgments on the sufficiency of the evidence. (By the way, that’s why I continue to believe it was a dereliction of duty for him to fail to decide whether there was a sufficient obstruction case.) Moreover, Mueller elaborated that if he could confidently have said there was insufficient obstruction evidence, he would have. That means he thought hard about the sufficiency of the evidence, not that he avoided the issue in his analysis. Plus, if his default position was that the OLC guidance prevented him from doing the prosecutor’s job — which is to decide sufficiency-of-the-evidence questions — he should not have accepted the appointment.

A much more straightforward interpretation is that Mueller believes there is enough evidence to indict, he decided he could not do so under the guidance, and he intentionally left the matter for Congress to resolve — with the advice that felonies may have been committed. That is significant because Congress does not need a prosecutable criminal offense in order to impeach. High crimes and misdemeanors can be felonies, but they need not be. If Congress believes an abuse of power is egregious enough, it may file articles of impeachment.

I would be surprised at this point if House Democrats press ahead with their attempt to call Mueller as a witness.

4. Charlie Cooke smacks the premise that “not exonerated” is somehow a legitimate legal standard in the USA or any allegedly “free” country. From his Corner post:

That’s not how it works in America. Investigators are supposed to look for evidence that a crime was committed, and, if they don’t find enough to contend that a crime was a committed, they are supposed to say “We didn’t find enough to contend that a crime was committed.” They are not supposed to look for evidence that a crime was not committed and then say, “We couldn’t find evidence of innocence.”

RELATED: Charlie’s position drew fire. He returned it.

5. Sahil Handa finds that scientific studies show there are strong benefits to psychedelic drugs, and conservatives need to rethink their position. From his piece:

If conservatives are concerned about the harms caused by hard drugs, psychedelics should be their friend, not their foe. The annual Global Drug Survey reported that mushrooms are the safest drug used recreationally — and crucially, they are better able to break addictions to nicotine, alcohol, and cocaine than all available forms of rehabilitation. They have even been shown to reduce rates of recidivism among criminals, making them a potential salve for our ailing criminal-justice system.

The implications become more interesting when applied to the level of culture. There has long been disagreement within conservatism regarding the proper role of the free market, the question of whether or not the excesses of our economic system commodify that which ought to provide us with meaning. Traditionalists often argue that capitalism requires a spiritual framework to moderate rampant consumerism, and evidence suggests that psychedelics could be of tremendous use in the formation of such a framework.

Mental activity under these substances is similar to that seen in long-term meditators, where the brain’s default mode network — the area responsible for the ego — becomes less active. Attempting to articulate the lived experience of these brain states is similar to articulating any transformational religious experience; mysticism goes beyond the reach of language. In the words of Michael Pollan, the author of a bestselling book on the topic, “‘God’ is sometimes the biggest word we have to describe big experiences.” People are often led to religious fulfilment through moments that seem to go beyond the point of materialist explanation —encounters with the unknown that convince them that reality defies conventional categorization.

6. The SAT folks are trying to cook the books, creating a new “Diversity Score” to pump up the numbers for minority test-takers. Declan Leary grades the effort — it gets an “F.” And that’s graded on a curve. From his analysis:

In a column for Business Insider, Leigh Patel argues that correlation between high SAT scores and high family incomes “undermines any claim that the SAT is objective.” Her complaint is patently absurd. The fact that standardized tests do not produce identical results for different people is evidence not that the tests are flawed but that different people are . . . different. It makes a fair amount of sense that a student from a stable family who has spent eleven years in a well-functioning school district might outperform a child of absentee parents who has been stuck for those same years in schools that barely manage to keep their doors open. This is not a failure of the test, and it can’t be fixed by a simple numerical adjustment for circumstances — it is a function of the circumstances themselves. A comprehensive 2011 study by Sean Reardon, an endowed professor of poverty and inequality at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, indicates wide achievement gaps correlate with family income across the academic board.

Even if accommodation for economic inequality did make sense, though, the College Board’s new metric doesn’t actually offer any, because it takes into account only broad factors such as the median income of the student’s geographic area. Thus it penalizes low-income students from high-income areas simply for living in decent neighborhoods. And it has the potential to encourage gentrification, as it incentivizes wealthy families to move into low-income neighborhoods to give their kids an advantage in the admission process. (The absurd bribery scandal that broke this spring is proof that this should-be-ridiculous hypothetical is more than plausible in 2019 America.) On income inequality, the program will almost certainly do more harm than good.

RELATED: Jason Richwine says the SAT scheme dumbs down the merit-based program. From his piece:

If advocates of affirmative action in college admissions couched their arguments entirely in that social-justice framework, I would find their position more respectable. But giving preferences to lower-achieving students is in no way compatible with a merit-based system. When college administrators favor lower-scoring applicants, with no evidence that their scores underestimate their future success on campus or in the broader world, they have prioritized redistribution over merit. Why not acknowledge that?

7. White, white, white . . . is the color of our carpet. It’s also the pigmentation of who mostly benefits from Washington State’s progressive policies. And yep, writes Nicholas Kerr, those policies also stick it to black Washingtonians. From the article:

Democrats also dropped a provision that would have ensured that charter schools would receive any increases in local school funding along with traditional public schools. Minorities are overrepresented in most Washington charter schools — the percentage of blacks in these schools is often two or three times the percentage of blacks in the communities in which they operate. Minority parents know all too well how traditional public schools have failed their children, and they are lining up to get their kids in: Almost all have waiting lists.

Further, ever-increasing property taxes in Washington have hit low-income minorities the hardest. My family used to live in Seattle’s Central District, where many of our neighbors were retired black homeowners on fixed incomes. As property-tax demands inexorably rose, these families were forced out of the neighborhood. Simultaneously, rising property values have shut out younger minorities from purchasing their own first homes in Seattle. As Gene Balk reported, in 1970 King County had a 49 percent black-homeownership rate, well above the national average, but now it has the fifth-lowest black-homeownership rate in the country among the 100 U.S. counties with the largest black populations.

8. The Assange case challenges standings on the First Amendment: Kevin Williamson rejects the notion of the press being a protected caste, which makes journalists vulnerable to pretty straightforward U.S. espionage laws. From his commentary:

The dissemination of classified documents is illegal in many circumstances. It is, under what seems to me the plain meaning of the law, precisely the felony of espionage in at least some cases. To decline to prosecute those crimes in the interest of enabling journalism is to create exactly the kind of professional caste privilege that Greenwald rightly warns against. We cannot simultaneously hold that the problem is “empowering prosecutors to decide who does or doesn’t deserve press protections” and then try to solve that problem by empowering prosecutors to decide who does or doesn’t deserve press protections.

I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to speak authoritatively about the Assange case, but the language of the federal criminal code appears — to my great surprise — clear enough about this matter.

And that is the fundamental issue: The government has too broad and sweeping power when it comes to classifying information, it uses that power too eagerly and too thoughtlessly — and too arrogantly, and too corruptly — for that power to be fully compatible with a free and open society. The solution to bad laws is to repeal or reform the law, not to construct a supplementary social theory to support its selective application.

9. Kamala Harris has a plan — maybe a . . . cunning plan? — to close the gender-pay gap. Ryan Bourne, being charitable, calls it “misguided.” From his article:

Take workers who stock shelves in supermarkets and their warehouses. Shelf-stackers in both locations ostensibly do “the same job.” If a supermarket chain gave them the same job title, and all other experience and performance were equal, this legislation would mandate that workers in both locations be paid the same. Yet it is plausible that working in a warehouse may simply be less pleasant than working in a supermarket, if the warehouse is colder or in a more isolated area or those who work there have less agreeable hours. If men have a greater willingness to accept these unpleasant conditions in return for the “compensating differential” of higher pay, this again would show up as a pay gap, with the company being liable for fines under Harris’s legislation. Yet paying both sets of workers the same could create severe shortages of warehouse workers, or surpluses of supermarket employees.

To avoid such fines or outcomes, businesses would likely revise job titles to ensure that people were labeled uniquely. That could lead to hierarchical disputes within companies and presumably to legal challenges, but it would be a solution. The alternative is to face the prospect of running complex regressions and aggregation calculations to determine whether, on net, men and women are equally paid. That would require the intrusive collection of data on employees’ work history or a more rigorous evaluation of employee performance, either of which itself might have undesirable consequences for workers.

10. You want a big, fat, smart, post-vote analysis of the EU elections? And you want it from the expert, John O’Sullivan? Sometimes wishes come true. From his article:

Where the center retreated, however, the populist Right did not always occupy the abandoned position. National populists (which is the approved non-hostile term for describing them) advanced moderately and consolidated their previous gains substantially in the elections. Victor Orban’s Fidesz won 52 percent of the votes in Hungary. Poland’s Law and Justice party held off a multi-party attack from an organized left-wing coalition and won a majority that suggests it will win the forthcoming national elections. France’s National Rally — the latest name for the populist Right party led by Marine Le Pen — narrowly defeated the populist-centrist party of President Macron in France. (Populist-centrism may be a novel concept, and it may prove to be an unsuccessful one, but it’s the best description yet coined of Macron’s ambiguous politics.) The political success of Italy’s populism we outlined above. And in the United Kingdom, the populist Euroskeptic party, titled with stunning simplicity the Brexit party, went from its foundation five weeks ago to become the largest U.K. party in the European Parliament, with 32 percent of the national vote and 29 MEPs. But it hopes to be leaving Parliament soon.

Populism suffered no major defeats anywhere — unless you count (and you shouldn’t) Denmark, where the People’s Party share of the vote was halved because the more respectable social democrats adopted their tough migration policy. On the other hand, populism didn’t win as many votes as the populists had hoped and as the Left and the media had feared. In particular, populists fell well short of taking control of the European Parliament or, as we shall see, even weakening the control of it exercised by the reigning centrist duopoly of Christian and Social Democrats.

11. Ian Murray believes the big winners were the Greens. And he wasn’t referring to romaine lettuce and brussels sprouts. From his analysis:

Yet, less appreciated has been the direction of the left. As I argued in my 2008 book, The Really Inconvenient Truths, environmentalism has replaced social-justice Christianity as the driving force of the Western left. And, with the emergence of globalism, an ideology based around tackling global problems such as climate change has accordingly risen to prominence. Rather than socialists coopting environmentalism, the reverse has started to happen. The Green Parties of Europe are in the process of overtaking the Social Democrats and hard-left parties alike.

Britain provides a great example. The Labour Party, currently hard-left under its leader Jeremy Corbyn, is being squeezed in both its heartlands from different directions. In the urban northeast of England, which has reliably voted Labour since the party’s founding, voters deserted en masse to the nationalist Brexit Party. In the south, with a more highly educated and cosmopolitan population, a substantial number of Labor voters went for the Greens this time, and many said they did so because of policies other than Brexit. While most say they will return to the Labour Party at the next general election, Labour will face continual pressure from the Greens going forward.

12. Douglas Murray exposes the spin of the aghast British press over the election results. From his piece:

By any honest analysis the night belonged to Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit party, which won 31.6 percent of the overall vote, winning 29 seats. The next-largest party was the Liberal Democrats, just over 20 percent of the vote and 16 seats, which is quite a lead for Farage. The runners-up of Labour (ten seats), the Greens (seven seats), and the Conservatives (four seats) struggled to make their performance look like a success. But the most striking thing about the reaction to the results was the effort to claim them as evidence that Britain wants to remain in the EU.

For instance, the BBC was caught claiming that the night was a wild victory for Remain parties. In full-on Pravda mode, the BBC reported that the night had seen “Anti-Brexit” parties out-perform “Pro-Brexit” parties. Indeed, it claimed the Anti-Brexit had beaten Pro-Brexit 40.4 percent to 34.9 percent — a figure arrived at by, among other means, including the Conservative party as an “Anti-Brexit” party. The Conservative party has certainly had its problems of late. And there is very little reason to trust them with anything in terms of promises or delivery. But the party’s stated stance remains that it is committed to ensuring Britain leaves the EU. It is certainly not an explicitly “Anti-Brexit” party.

13. Jonathan Tobin reminds all that a forgotten reason for the increase in European anti-Semitism — often blamed on popular movements — is massive Muslim immigration. From his piece:

Earlier this month, a New York Times Magazine story titled “The New German Anti-Semitism” reported that “police statistics attribute 89 percent of all anti-Semitic crimes to right-wing extremists.” But the same article went on to question that statistic. According to the Times, when German authorities can’t directly attribute a motive for an attack on a Jewish target (and they often cannot), they ascribe it to the Right. But a European Union survey of German Jews conducted last year showed that a plurality of Jews who say they experienced anti-Semitic harassment said the perpetrators were Muslim extremists. Yet, as the Times noted, the German government has been insisting that country’s anti-Semitism problem has not been imported from the Middle East.

The German government, as Klein’s controversial statement on kippahs made clear, is far from indifferent to anti-Semitism, whatever its source. The Bundestag recently voted to condemn the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement against Israel. Yet the government seems far more focused on the threat from the right and the growth of what it describes as Islamophobia in response to the massive influx of Syrian refugees who arrived after Merkel opened up the borders to them.

14. Titus Techera finds Paul Cantor’s new book, Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream: Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies, an excellent look into the American soul. From his article:

Cantor sees tragedy and popularity combine in the American dream. Work hard, be honest, apply yourself to your work and you will, sooner rather than later, get what you want, which is a private middle class life: marriage, kids, and a couple of cars in the garage, plus the knowledge that you’re part of the greatest nation in the world, indeed, in world history. Being middle class means above all being respectably productive and honestly loving the country. It certainly means being law-abiding. That is not a bad bargain at all, which is why many people, including Cantor himself, want it and get it.

When it doesn’t work out, it’s not always a matter of some people being too weak for it—others might be too strong and, instead of simply missing out on the American dream, turn out to be villains. Americans find it easy and not unpleasant to look at stories about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the unlucky, and the victims of catastrophes. Suffering is a very attractive spectacle, as we know from TV, but it’s also an opportunity for us to act as moral creatures of a loving God. These are the undeservedly poor or wretched; we are the most charitable nation on the planet because we don’t want to share their fate.

But life is not all morality and piety. Normal people like you and me not infrequently become angry or contemptuous. Indeed, if the Internet is any evidence, there is a lot of hatred inside of us. Internet behavior signals a certain dissatisfaction with our American dream, a suspicion that it’s not as true as we want it to be. Maybe we need to work harder to get it right, which is why we have religious awakenings, political reforms, civil-rights struggles, and even a Civil War. We are capable of being less ordinary—even of becoming violent.

We are tempted now and then to look beyond our condition of social equality and think about what is possible for human beings other than the middle-class lifestyle. This is why, Cantor avers, we all loved Westerns once and now, deprived of them, are obsessed with medieval Romances that turn violent or with the doings of the English aristocracy. Here, we see people above our stations and below our morality. They are not decently productive people—but their passions have a shocking splendor to them, since in love and in cruelty they are far less restrained than we are.

15. Conrad Black pens an excellent R.I.P. of the late, great historian, John Lukacs. From his remembrance:

He once told me that when he appeared at the federal building in Valley Forge during the Korean War to hand in his income-tax return, the official who received it said that of all the scores of people who had appeared in the last couple of days for the same purpose, John Lukacs was the only one who was smiling, and asked the reason for that. John replied that he was a refugee from Hungary, that he knew what the United States had done for the defeat of Nazism and fascism and the deterrence of international Communism, and that he calculated that his modest income might yield enough tax revenue to buy one shell for the main armament of an Iowa-class battleship and he was proud to provide it.

John’s particular hero was Winston Churchill, an eminently worthy subject of such admiration, even if he tended to ascribe to Mr. Churchill more of John’s own views than the great British prime minister actually espoused. One of the last times I saw John Lukacs was when he was accompanying Sir Winston’s daughter, Mary Soames, to Budapest for the dedication of Churchill Square in that city. He believed Winston Churchill was the preeminent European statesman of the 20th century, and we had many lengthy and entirely cordial exchanges in which I suggested that Churchill tried to straddle between Europe, the Commonwealth, and the United States in a way that was beyond Britain’s strategic post-war competence, though I yielded nothing to him in my admiration of Sir Winston. As a Roosevelt biographer, I had, to some degree, a natural rivalry with him in the attribution of credit for the deliverance of the West in World War II; there was plenty of credit for both.

16. Netflix threatens to boycott Georgia, woke about the state’s pro-life “heartbeat,” but Kyle Smith is betting that the likely outcome is that money will talk, and Hollywood BS will walk. From his piece:

Hollywood has threatened boycotts in Georgia before. When the producers of Gone with the Wind wished to hold the premiere in Atlanta, Clark Gable was outraged that black cast members would not be able to attend the event with the white cast owing to the Jim Crow laws then in effect. Did Gable, or anyone else, actually boycott the event, though? Nah. When Hollywood’s moral values collide with dollar values, it’s usually no contest. Neither Gable nor anyone else important connected with Gone with the Wind was willing to go to bat against racism if they felt it might cost them.

Which was why it was so amusing when George Clooney, in accepting his 2006 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Syriana, cited the treatment of Gone with the Wind costar Hattie McDaniel as an example of Hollywood’s courageous liberalism. He bragged that Hollywood was “a little bit out of touch” in that “We’re the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects, we are the ones — this Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters.” Clooney either didn’t know or didn’t care that McDaniel was not allowed to sit in the main part of the room with the white Academy Award nominees. Even at the Oscar ceremony itself, then held in a hotel ballroom, blacks were effectively forced to sit in the back of the theater.

17. HBO documentary Running with Beto gets smithereened by Kyle Smith. Medic! From the review:

The speediest bong-rip-to-hangover moment comes when O’Rourke is captured answering a question about the NFL’s national-anthem protesters — posed by a voter who disagrees with them — by supporting them unequivocally and even saying, “I can think of nothing more American.” We watch the Facebook meter excitedly clocking up millions of hits. Beto is viral! Ellen DeGeneres wants to meet up! So does Stephen Colbert! The Washington Post says O’Rourke has conquered the Internet! The morning after arrives with campaign chief David Wysong: “So the Cruz campaign, they’ve got their negative hit. It’s what they wanted. . . . Beto’s favorabilities have gone downward.” Maybe there are some things more American than insulting the American flag.

Campaign field director Zack Malitz, rallying legions of campaign volunteers who have that eerie Children of the Damned glow, is shown announcing that “Tuesday, November 6, is the day the world ends.” (Rrrrrrrrip!) “There is no day after that.” (Exhale.) “Elections are a matter of life and death!” (Rrrrrrip!) “This is possibly the most important thing that most of us will do with our lives.” (Exhale.) How does everyone feel about this the day after? Two minutes earlier, we watched one of Beto’s forlorn sons lamenting that, while he is used to his dad being away, “my mom’s gone, like, three days a week now, and so for half the week there’s, like, no one there.” The kids are so desperate for contact that they’ve resorted to writing letters to Dad. I doubt the sequencing here is meant to remind us that raising children is possibly the most important thing most of us will do with our lives, but that’s the takeaway for everyone who isn’t such a political zombie that he lives only for the netherworld of knocking on strangers’ doors and telling them the fate of a single Senate race is going to make a big difference in their lives. As it turned out, even if O’Rourke had won, the Senate would have remained in Republican hands. His candidacy really didn’t matter very much at all.

18. Even More Kyle . . . which today means Even More Kyle Not Liking Something. Which in this case is Rocketman. Not much liftoff for this Elton John biopic. From the review:

Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, a dutiful biopic with music that was free of dancing, Rocketman is a musical that uses its tunes as fancies to illustrate John’s various triumphs and tribulations, complete with Broadway chorus boys whirling in the background. A problem with this approach is that the lyrics, which John did not write, don’t much fit his life story. So “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” gets shoehorned in as a description of what it’s like playing in quarrelsome pubs. This is the kind of contrivance that kept happening in Rock of Ages, the disastrous 2012 jukebox musical about 1980s rock.

Also unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman ditches the classic original recordings in favor of inferior recreations. Taron Egerton does a decent job as Elton John, but for a guy who shows up for work dressed as a glitter-jumpsuit batboy or a disco gladiator chicken, he’s awfully glum. He enters the movie dressed as Satan from the South Park movie, then sits down for some anger, confession, and healing with a twelve-step group whose sessions create a boo-hoo framing device around the movie. Egerton does set a record unlikely ever to be equalled by performing “I’m Still Standing” for a second time on the big screen; the last time he did it as a gorilla called Johnny in the animated Sing, and that scene was far better than anything in this movie.

19. The first words of Armond White’s review are “Ava DuVernay’s Netflix propaganda series When They See Us . . .” So you might have a clue about the tone of what follows. Great stuff, as ever. From the review:

You’d be mistaken to think that DuVernay’s title is a sequel to Jordan Peele’s Us, addressed to black viewers who are woke to the African-American phenomenon of distrust in “the white gaze,” or that she examines the perpetual anxiety of living in a suspicious, punitive culture. Fact is, DuVernay’s latest prank (after the insipid civil-rights epic Selma, her obtuse constitutional-amendment doc 13th, and her fantasy/box-office flop A Wrinkle in Time) is designed to appease her benefactors. She plays to the empowered white media elite, her film- and TV-industry sponsors, who enjoy the self-reproach that comes with being reminded of their own privilege. It’s clever career shtick: DuVernay specializes in white guilt and feeling helplessly culpable in the racism committed by others of their class.

Through hindsight awareness, DuVernay’s draining, four-part saga repeatedly touches on bureaucratic insensitivity — the indifference of district attorney Robert Morgenthau (Len Cariou); the vengeful, careerist obsession of prosecutor-turned-crime-novelist Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman); and the helpless dutiful peoples’ attorney (Vera Farmiga). Their apathy toward the five youths converges into the straw-man figure of Donald Trump, whose peripheral ruling-class commentary at that time (presented in TV-news flashbacks) is routinely condemned. It’s as if, even back in the day when citizen Trump was a hip-hop music idol regaled for audacity and bling, he was singularly responsible for New York racism. DuVernay’s political animus (“That devil wants to kill my ,son” scoffs a mawkish Harlem Five mom) makes for blinkered history.

20. What is squat? Kat Timpf says that’s what AOC knows about the First Amendment. From her piece:

See, when Ocasio-Cortez asks: “For those who believe in ‘free speech’: whose free speech do you believe in?” she completely misses the point of the First Amendment. She completely misses that you absolutely cannot “believe in . . . free speech” and also want to give that right to only a specific group of people. In that situation, it is bound to be the case that only the elite, only the people in power (whom she has made a career railing against) will have that right. The people who have power over you will also have the power to determine what you do and do not say about it.

Let me be clear: You either stand for free speech or you don’t. You either stand for the First Amendment or you don’t. You either believe that every citizen has the right to speak freely (with, as I mentioned, the exception of direct, credible threats), or you want the government to be able to have the power to decide which opinions are or are not acceptable. Which opinions are or are not imprisonable.

I myself choose freedom.

21. Matt Continetti wonders if Biden is the new Hillary. From his Corner post:

Biden is vulnerable on foreign policy. His credentials and standing in the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment may reassure Beltway insiders and voters looking for experience and an internationalist outlook. This same resume, however, makes him vulnerable to the charge that the policies he supported for a generation did little to create peace and prosperity. Trump made that argument both in the Republican primary and in the general election in 2016. It worked.

As I write, Biden has a large and stable lead over his Democratic opponents. He beats Trump in a head-to-head matchup by 8.1 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Remember, though, that Clinton’s advantage was even greater in the summer of 2015. After 16 months of Trump attacks, 77,000 voters in three states denied her the presidency. The same could happen again to a nominee easily caricatured as the epitome of Beltway cluelessness. What looks like Joe Biden’s greatest strength — electability born of experience — may also be a debilitating weakness.

22. Senator Josh Hawley tees off on judicial nominee Michael Bogren, who dabbled in what many find to be anti-Catholicism. From his article:

Michael Bogren is a nominee for a judicial seat in Michigan. He is currently defending the city of East Lansing, Mich., in a lawsuit brought by Steve and Bridget Tennes. The Tenneses are a faithful Catholic family who operate Country Mill Orchard and Cider Mill. After they stated publicly that they believe in the Bible’s teachings on marriage and adhere to those beliefs for their business, the city barred them from participating in the local farmers market. They were then forced to sue the city to defend their rights.

Mr. Bogren responded with a scorched-earth strategy in his litigation against the Tennes family. He wrote, “Plaintiffs attempt to dress their arguments up in a shimmering gown of First Amendment and religious righteousness and parade it down the runway of moral superiority. When stripped of its costume, however, what lurks beneath is simply this: discriminatory conduct.”

He compared their Christian beliefs about marriage to the racism of the Ku Klux Klan, arguing that following the teachings of their faith by not celebrating same-sex weddings on their farm was “no different than the ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.” He also attacked the sincerity and the consistency of their beliefs, arguing that they only “selectively” apply their faith to their lives.

23. Ramesh Ponnuru artfully schools Hawley’s conservative critics. From his piece:

Would conservative senators be obligated to look past a judicial nominee’s past work for Planned Parenthood — arguing, let’s say, for a constitutional right to subsidies for abortion — because everyone has a right to a lawyer? Would a conservative White House be so obligated? What if the nominee had spent much of his career providing such representation? Or — if the social-issue context is too much of a distraction — would conservatives be obligated to say it’s perfectly fine for a Republican administration’s nominee to have argued for Obamacare’s individual mandate while working for health insurers?

We want to foster and protect a culture in which clients’ views are not automatically imputed to lawyers and nobody is so unpopular or politically controversial that he cannot get legal representation. Hawley’s critics are right about that, and indeed Hawley claims to agree with that goal. Embracing an absolute principle to further that goal is a more dubious matter.

NR Institute Seeking Regional Fellows in Dallas, San Francisco, and CHICAGO!

Summer is coming and you’re thinking . . . beach. As you should. But think past that a smidge, because it will be October before you know it, and the question will be . . . will you be an NRI Regional Fellow?

Amigos and amigas, now — now! — is the time to consider, and apply for, this terrific program. Let’s get to the formal lingo: National Review Institute is seeking applicants for its Fall 2019 Regional Fellowship Programs in Dallas, San Francisco, and — brand-spanking-new this fall — Chicago.

Who should apply? 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 35-50), 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 2019 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, but we encourage interested conservatives, libertarians, and the curious to apply as soon as possible.

Do that pronto. 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. Now get the suntan lotion!

The Six.

1. Hell Hath No Fury Like a Union Hack Scorned: At Yankee institute for Public Policy, the great conservative think tank of Connecticut, run by the as-great Carol Platt Liebau, writer Marc Fitch reports the tale of Hartford parents who find the authorities knocking on the door after they publicly criticize teachers who don’t teach. From his report:

An April 16 Hartford Board of Education meeting attended by state representative and Hartford teachers’ union vice-president Joshua Hall, D-Hartford, turned rowdy when Hartford parent, Jessie Pierce Jr., confronted the board saying teachers were failing to educate Hartford’s students.

Two days later, the Department of Children and Families opened an investigation into Pierce regarding his 8-year old son, a student in Hartford’s Parkville Community School.

Pierce claims a second investigation was initiated regarding his 97-year old father who lives with him.

Pierce says the DCF worker informed him the investigations were launched by an anonymous complaint originating from the school.

Reached by phone, the DCF investigator assigned to Pierce’s son confirmed the anonymous complaint originated out of the school and was lodged on April 18.

“I feel like it was retaliation for me saying the teachers are not doing a good job,” Pierce said in an interview.

2. At City Journal, Troy Senik returns to his old native stomping grounds in Southern California. Something happened in the eleventh minute. From his piece:

Visiting a familiar place after a long absence is a bit like seeing a friend’s child for the first time in years: you can perceive changes invisible to those who experience them incrementally. My sense of Southern California, a place known throughout the world for its dynamism? That it was in the early stages of succumbing to entropy.

Not all the signs were novel—for as long as I can remember, Los Angeles has been a city where people buy ridiculously fast cars only to drive them 8 mph on clogged freeways—but some were strikingly new. Years of drought-driven water-rationing left the landscape receding to its natural brown. A failure to build new housing yielded outrageous rents for buildings well into their senescence. Stopping into a Target in a middle-class part of Long Beach, I saw no fewer than four homeless men camped out inside the store, the clerks studiously avoiding eye contact with them. It was that little behavioral tell—the passive acceptance of decline—that unnerved me. I had seen it before, a decade earlier, in San Francisco’s notoriously disordered Tenderloin neighborhood. At least there, it came with a patina of bohemian chic. This was surrender in the suburbs.

3. More Golden State: At California Policy Center, Ed Ring expounds on the state’s Homeless Industrial Complex. From his essay:

Here’s how the process works: Developers accept public money to build these projects to house the homeless – either “bridge housing,” or “permanent supportive housing.” Cities and counties collect building fees and hire bureaucrats for oversight. The projects are then handed off to nonprofits with long term contracts to run them.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? The problem is the price tag. Developers don’t just build housing projects, they build ridiculously overpriced, overbuilt housing projects. Cities and counties don’t just collect building fees, they collect outrageously expensive building fees, at the same time as they create a massive bureaucracy. The nonprofits don’t just run these projects – the actual people staffing these shelters aren’t overpaid – they operate huge bureaucratic empires with overhead and executive salaries that do nothing for the homeless.

An example of wasteful spending can be found in the homeless shelter being built in Venice Beach, where a permanent population of over 1,000 homeless have taken over virtually every public venue, including the beach. Because their tents are now protected by law as private space, they not only serve as housing, but as pop-up drug retailers and brothels. To get these folks off the streets and off the beach, a 154 bed shelter has been approved by the Los Angeles City Council. It will be a “wet” shelter, meaning druggies and drunkards will be able to come and go as they please. The estimated cost for this shelter so far is $8 million, which equates to over $50,000 per bed. Why doesn’t anyone ask why?

4. At The Imaginative Conservative, Mark Malvasi considers the Progressives’ ideological lust for The Great War. From his essay:

Reluctant to intervene in Europe, Wilson had delayed as long as possible before committing American troops. “It is a fearful thing,” he told Congress, “to lead this great peaceful people into war, in the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to hang in the balance.” He described his obligations as commander-in-chief as “distressing” and “oppressive.” Wilson also feared the consequences that entry into war would have for the future of his domestic program. “Every reform we have won will be lost if we go into this war,” he told the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels. Other Progressives shared his apprehension. Jane Addams proclaimed that military preparation and involvement would distract from reform efforts at home and “will set back progress for a generation.” Entry into the war, it seemed, threatened disaster for the Progressive movement.

Other Progressives were more optimistic. For them, the war presented unique opportunities to remake American society. Mobilization would require extensive government intervention into the economy. Among the casualties of war, the Progressives were eager to count their old nemesis: individualism. “War necessitates organization, system, routine, and discipline,” intoned the journalist Frederick Lewis Allen. “We shall have to give up much of our economic freedom. . . . We shall have to lay by our good-natured individualism and march in step.” The philosopher John Dewey saw in war inestimable “social possibilities” sure to constrain “the individualistic tradition,” to afford “an immense object lesson as to the absence of democracy in most important phases of our national life,” and to instruct Americans in “the supremacy of public need over private possessions.” In time, even many Progressives who had initially doubted the wisdom of American entry into the war came to ignore the grim realities of a conflict that had been raging in Europe for three years and chose instead to focus on the social, political, and economic benefits that they convinced themselves the war would bring. To the dismay of Randolph Bourne, there had emerged “a peculiar congeniality” between the Progressives and the war. “It is as if the war and they had been waiting for each other. One wonders what scope they would have had for their intelligence without it.” What scope, indeed? For there was nothing at all “peculiar” about the Progressives’ embrace of war.

5. At Quillette, Eoin Lenihan exposes Antifa’s cheering section: journalists. From the piece:

Christopher Mathias, a senior reporter for the Huffington Post, applies the same cynical approach. Like Wilson, Mathias’ byline seems to pop up whenever Antifa stages violent protests—and he always can be counted on to deliver a play-by-play that favors Antifa. But he goes even further than his Guardian counterpart. Unlike Wilson, Mathias actually doxes individuals whom he suspects of being right-wing extremists. His doxing sources for an article about suspected extremists in the U.S. military included Unicorn Riot, an anarchic Antifa journalist collective, and other shady sites that exist as a sort of in-house 4chan for the Antifa movement. (Mathias cited similar sources when he published identifying details of a Texas schoolteacher, and of a Virginia police officer.)

Mathias’ apparent modus operandi is to gather doxes of individuals whom Antifa or Antifa-friendly groups suspect of being right-wing extremists. He (or a colleague) at Huffington Post then reach out to the target’s employer asking for comment, leveraging the media outlet’s name to ensure the individual is called out. Then Mathias posts the doxes in his column while investigations are ongoing. As with Emily Gorcenski’s First Vigil site, Mathias broadcasts detailed personal information whose release seems designed to destroy the reputation of the accused, no matter the results of any subsequent investigation. It’s unclear how this behavior differs from ordinary, everyday Antifa-style online activism.

6. Smear by Association: At Gatestone Institute, Douglas Murray looks into an egregious and contrived double standard. From his piece:

One of the favourite tactics of the far-left in the West today is to carry out hit-jobs by utilising the tool of ‘adjacency.’ This is the new only slightly fancy term for what has usually been known as ‘guilt by association’. Where there was once an agreement that people should be held responsible for their own views, now they can apparently be held responsible for the views of anyone beside whom they once stood.

So for instance, last month Jordan Peterson was denied a visiting fellowship at Cambridge University because he had once been photographed (at a post-speaking event meet-and-greet) with somebody wearing a T-shirt saying ‘I’m a proud Islamophobe’. Activists who wish to take decent people out of the parameters of legitimate discussion no longer merely smear them by trying to claim that their opponent is an extremist. Instead, they hint that even if their opponent might not be an extremist, here – for instance – is a photograph of him standing beside someone better able to be described as an extremist. Thus has the smear machine found a happy pastime and a fairly useful tool in its game of political warfare.

This tactic is rarely used by the right against many on the left. Or if it is, its legitimacy is denied. For instance when the British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, for instance, is endlessly pictured with Islamist extremists or a whole range of anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, it is agreed that he is not ‘adjacent’ to these people, but merely to be pursuing his often strangely uncredited role as the international community’s informal peace-keeper-in-chief. His proximity to the worst people is never evidence of ‘adjacency’: merely of saintliness at best, and bad luck at worst.


If only there were a playoff for last place! The National League in 1916 could have used one. As the season entered its last month, one team, the Cincinnati Reds, was solidly in the deepest part of the basement, trailing the Cardinals and Cubs by nine games, and the Pirates by 10 ½. And then Saint Louis (whose line-up star was rookie Rogers Hornsby) lost 25 of its last 30 games. The Reds, meanwhile, went on what was for them a tear: taking 14 of its final 30 contests.

On the season’s penultimate day, Cincinnati was still in sole possession of last place, a game separating them in the standings from the Cards. It disappeared: On October 1 at Redland Field, the home team’s ace, Fred Toney, blanked the Pirates 4–0 while St. Louis lost its 13th consecutive game, a 6–3 stinker to the Cubs.

And that’s how 1916 ended: No team in 8th place, but two tied for 7th, with equal 60-93 records.

Of related interest: The great Christy Mathewson, traded late in the season from the Giants to Cincinnati as player/manager, pitched in just one game for the Reds. It came on September 4 at Weeghman Parks, as Wrigley Field was originally known, a complete-game victory over the Cubs. It was the last game of the future Hall of Famer’s career.

And: The Reds’ lineup was a classic of names. On the roster were Greasy Neale (who became a great football coach and is in the NFL Hall of Fame), Ivey Wingo, Heinie Groh, Baldy Louden, Limb McKenry, and “cup of coffee” Twink Twining.

A Dios

Yours Truly is road-warrioring this week past and trying these final words of drivel with a head about to slam into the keyboard. How about we stick a fork in this week’s missive? But not before urging prayer for those who have gone before us, old souls — the lady down the block who was so nice to you when you were a tyke, the old grouch who wasn’t, a spinster cousin long dead — you know, the kind of folks now forgotten, but who may be needing your prayers to push them over that finish line. That’s me getting all Roman Catholic on you. Don’t go and start a Reformation though. Find another way to petition the Creator for a sprinkling of his graces and goodness on a person or situation that so sorely needs such.

God Bless You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who will accept your dad jokes, grammar policing, full-throated bellyaches, and IOUs at

National Review

The Battle for Free Speech Just Got Intense

Dear WJ Reader,

It has come to this, and so we make our case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

After seven years of arguing and sparring before the extremely liberal D.C. Court of Appeals, we’ve now reached a critical point — a point we believe is critical not only for this institution, but for the First Amendment. And, therefore, for you. Indeed, most legal experts believe that Mann v. National Review is the most important free-speech litigation now before any American court.

The ramifications are so serious we believe the case should not be before just . . . any court. The time has come for this case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. This week, National Review’s counsel filed a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the SCOTUS justices to agree to hear this case in its next term. Free speech must be protected and vindicated, as we argue in a new NR editorial:

At stake in this fight is nothing less than the integrity of the First Amendment — and, by extension, the right of all Americans to engage in robust political debate without being dragged into court by the frivolous and the hypersensitive to be bled dry of their time, effort, and money. That, after seven years, National Review has not yet been freed from this frivolous claim is bad enough. But that inconvenience, real as it is, pales in comparison to the damage that would be done to America’s broader debate were the indifference of the D.C. Court of Appeals to become a chilling national precedent.

A quick refresher is in order: Michael Mann sued National Review for libel over a 270-word blog post that was critical of his now-infamous “hockey stick” graph and its role within the global-warming debate. Naturally, National Review resolved to fight the suit, which represents one of the worst attempts to bully a press organization in recent memory. As our petition for certiorari notes, Mann’s lawsuit presumes that a “subjective, value-laden critique on a matter of public concern can be construed as a provably false fact.” Worse still, it presumes that such critiques can — and should — be litigated in the courts, rather than in the public square. Should Mann prevail, our petition concludes, “the result would be to insert courts and juries into every hot-button political and scientific dispute, to allow politicians to sue their critics at will, and ultimately to chill and deter the robust debate that is the lifeblood of our republic.”

As a Weekend Jolt reader, you know that NR is in the midst of its 2019 Spring Webathon. We have been urging your financial support based on NR’s particular aggressive efforts to combat reemergent socialism. But as you can imagine, our needs are vast, and as you also might imagine, this lawsuit, now in its seventh year, has incurred NR significant out-of-pocket costs. Yes, we have insurance that pays most of the costs of this ongoing threat, but there are also many costs not borne by our insurer. So we ask: If you are thinking about responding to our appeals to battle socialism and to support NR, consider too that your support will help NR literally defend your right to free speech.

Read the editorial and know that this right is under duress. You stand up for it when you stand up for us in this critical matter. Please donate here, knowing you have our deep appreciation.


1. It’s no cure-all, but the skills-heavy immigration-reform plan proposed by President Trump deserves plenty of kudos. From the editorial:

Instead, the emphasis would be on a point system and higher-skilled immigrants with extraordinary talents, professional vocations, and academic accomplishments.

The plan also includes an array of welcome enforcement measures, although it’s not clear yet if it includes the most important of all, an E-Verify system for employers that would do much to turn off the jobs magnet drawing illegal immigrants here.

There is a lot to commend in the plan. It would be a significant step toward making our immigration system more rational. With so many people around the world desperate to come here, it is insane that we aren’t choosing the immigrants who best serve our interests. Under the plan, we would favor the immigrants best-suited to thriving in a 21st-century economy, and English and civics tests would select for immigrants with the best chance of easily assimilating.

2. Australia’s elections, gotten soooo wrong by pollsters, result in triumph for conservative PM Scott Morrison. The elite are aghast that the working class has spoken. We are applauding the opportunity to change the country’s political dynamics. From the editorial:

Morrison has thus earned the right to shape a political strategy in his own image. Until now he has been hemmed in by Malcolm Turnbull to his left and by Tony Abbott to his right. Turnbull fell from power largely because his quixotic policy of driving conservatives out of the main conservative party was leaving the party becalmed. As law professor James Allan noted, most of Morrison’s close allies then opted to leave politics, because they were convinced that Labor would easily defeat a post-Turnbull Liberal party. Their happy absence frees Morrison on the left — and in particular allows him to shape conservative policies on energy, taxation, immigration, and much else without having to appease the cultural gods of the media and the progressive middle class. He was given elbow room on the right because the entire Australian Left organized a massive campaign to oust Tony Abbott, an early patron of Morrison’s when he was prime minister, from an affluent middle-class constituency that had been moving leftward for some years. It succeeded and Abbott lost. But he will have gained admirers by the grace and generosity with which he accepted his inevitable fate. For the moment, he will not have direct access to government power.

If Morrison is now his own man, however, he has his work cut out. Labor’s defeat was narrow last week. The Left’s determination to press ahead — in particular with its global-warming extremism — will be undeterred by such a temporary setback. (In that respect it has a “cultish” character, as Peter Smith argues in Quadrant Online.) And Morrison’s victory this week was rooted in a kind of commonsense caution rather than any deeper analysis of why Labor’s and the wider Left’s solutions are dangerously mistaken. If Morrison is to continue to win victories and to navigate the new politics of class realignment, he will need advice, help, and support.

RELATED: John Fund provides election analysis.

3. Crazy Uncle Bernie has a proposal to defund charter schools. Because, socialist. Also because, idiocy. From our editorial:

Some background: Charter schools are a class of public schools operated with some degree of independence from the school bureaucracy and, in some cases, from the public-sector unions. They are the product of a Clinton-era compromise between conservatives pressing for genuine school choice (including vouchers to support families of modest means who, like the Clintons and the Obamas, prefer private schools for their children — but who cannot afford the tuition at Sidwell Friends) and progressives who for political and ideological reasons defend the monopolistic character of the public school systems, no matter how deeply or comprehensively those schools are failing their students, particularly the poor and the nonwhite.

The public-sector unions have soured on that compromise, and so have the most left-leaning Democrats. And so Senator Sanders, the Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate and who currently is seeking the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong, has proposed to eliminate federal funding for charter schools operated by for-profit enterprises (about 15 percent of charters) and to prohibit federal funding for all new charter schools, including nonprofits, indefinitely. Here, Senator Sanders is displaying his comradeship with another Brooklyn socialist, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who also is seeking the Democratic nomination and who also has made every effort to gut certain public schools that are very popular in low-income minority communities.

We can appreciate the allure for these ascendant socialists: The public schools are, after all, one of the few critical enterprises in American life in which the state does in fact own the means of production. Those familiar with the history of this kind of system will not be surprised to learn that it works relatively well for the politically connected — and works barely at all for the least powerful.

A Delicious Stew of National Review, Made from 14 Remarkable Ingredients, that Will Satisfy Your Conservative Appetite

1. In the mounting war-talk tensions between Iran and Uncle Sam, writes Seth Frantzman, the Trump administration’s bluster seems to be checking Tehran. From his piece:

In the complex game of wits being played between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, it appears that the U.S. temporarily checked Iran’s usual behavior. Iran prefers bluster in rhetoric with a careful strategy of extending its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, knowing that any real battle with U.S. forces will result in Iranian defeat. Tehran can’t risk massive retaliation against its allies or the regime at home for fear that it will lead to instability and the destruction of all it has carefully built up in the last years. Iran is suffering from the effects of recent nationwide floods and from shortages due to sanctions, so it can’t afford a total war, and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon are in sensitive positions of power. In the past, Iran benefited from its opaque system of alliances and its ability to threaten western powers and attack U.S. forces with proxies, even seizing U.S. sailors, without fear of reprisal. It learned in the past that the U.S. preferred diplomacy, but the current administration appears to have put Tehran on notice.

2. Jim Talent takes on the Administration’s Iran critics and points out that there is a policy, a strategy, and success against an enemy of America. From his analysis:

Ever since the Trump administration came into office, it has been seeking to isolate and pressure Iran, for two reasons. The first and most basic reason is that the Iranian regime presents a direct threat to the safety of the United States. That’s why everyone, across the political spectrum, believes that it would be a disaster if Iran acquired nuclear weapons. People disagree about how to prevent that from happening, but they all agree it must be prevented.

Think of the current tension with North Korea. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, Iran would be North Korea on steroids.

3. Matthew Continetti zings the MSM’s “warmonger canard” on Iran and our mustachioed pal, which is simply an effort to “save President Obama’s nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.” From his piece:

It’s a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, “I don’t think [Trump] wants war,” but “that doesn’t exclude him basically being lured into one” by Bolton. On May 14, an adviser to Rouhani tweeted at Trump, “You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead. That’s what happens when you listen to the mustache. Good luck in 2020!”

And now this regime talking point is everywhere. “It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on “Trump’s potential war with Iran is all John Bolton’s doing. But it might also be his undoing,” says the pro-Iran Trita Parsi on “Is Trump Yet Another U.S. President Provoking a War?” asks Robin Wright of The New Yorker. Guess her answer.

4. Andy McCarthy explains how that “verified application” so critical to the get-Trump FISA warrants wasn’t verified and discusses the emerging Comey/Brennan blame-gamery. From the start of his piece:

Here’s what you need to know: In rushing out their assessment of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Obama-administration officials chose not to include the risible Steele-dossier allegations that they had put in their “VERIFIED APPLICATION” for warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) because . . . wait for it . . . the allegations weren’t verified.

And now, the officials are squabbling over who pushed the dossier. Why? Because the dossier — a Clinton-campaign opposition-research screed, based on anonymous Russian sources peddling farcical hearsay, compiled by a well-paid foreign operative (former British spy Christopher Steele) — is crumbling by the day.

As I write, we mark the two-year anniversary of Robert Mueller’s appointment to take over the Russiagate probe — which is fast transforming into the Spygate probe. Special Counsel Mueller inherited the investigation seven months after the Obama Justice Department and FBI sought a FISC warrant to monitor former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. By then, it was already acknowledged that dossier information was “salacious and unverified,” to quote congressional testimony by former FBI director James Comey.

That was problematic on a number of levels.

5. John O’Sullivan warns the Tories that Nigel Farage and the new Brexit Party pose a very existential threat. From his analysis:

Even before the election results are known on Sunday, therefore, there’s a growing sense that the Brexit party may be a permanent factor in British politics. Opinion polls on how people would vote in a general election show that the party would do less well than in European elections but still run about level with the Tories and Labour. There are deep divisions on policy apart from Brexit that have allowed critics to argue that the party would fall apart once its main goal had been achieved. But the divisions don’t seem deeper than those of other parties, and power or its prospect is itself a unifying social glue. Farage’s rallies around the country are hugely successful — packed, good-humored, more diverse socially and politically than those of the other parties, full of confidence and optimism, and notably without rancor. As with Trump’s election rallies, people seem to find them enjoyable as well as genuinely serious. A kind of Brexit party spirit already exists with many different types of people happy to be together on the bandwagon. It seems less class-bound than any of the existing parties.

And if the Brexit party wins one-third or more of Britain’s votes this week from a standing start, it will change British politics. Such a result would have the effect of a second referendum victory for Leave. It simply would not be possible for Parliament and the mainstream parties to push through a Brexit that doesn’t get the effective consent of Farage and his party. If such a thing is attempted, it will be seen to be anti-democratic and will have to be abandoned quite quickly. It would force the EU to confront the fact that there is little chance of getting a deal like May’s withdrawal deal accepted, and that even if one were to make it into the statute book, it could never be effectively implemented. In those circumstances the EU might simply throw up its collective hands and declare that the U.K. has left without a deal.

6. With May announcing she is stepping down as Britain’s PM, the field of replacements is being handicapped, the front-runner being former London mayor and U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who new NR editorial intern Sahil Handa reports may prevail in Trumpian fashion, despite the efforts of opposing Tory elites. From his piece:

Trump and Johnson are proof that voters warm to a politician who speaks his mind — even if he does not always understand what he is saying. The former’s well-documented Twitter account is a mixture of hilarious outbursts and incoherent ramblings. Politicalspeak is replaced by spontaneous thought, leaving critics and followers enraged and enthralled. Johnson’s eloquence is a match for any British swot, but he too can be made to look remarkably inept. A 2017 policy interview with the BBC saw the charming campaigner reduced to a bumbling mess. Though he is not yet active on Twitter, his penchant for politically incorrect blunders suggests the platform would suit him well.

A stream of similar gaffes have led many to write Johnson off as a harmless, innocuous fool, more concerned with publicity stunts than with the nuts and bolts of political reform. He has a reputation for being terrifically late, he once bulldozed a ten-year-old Japanese boy in a game of rugby, and he’s the only London mayor to have fallen into a river in spectacularly public fashion. Amid the Brexit campaign, Remainer Amber Rudd, the former Home secretary, offered a live television audience the following character assessment: “Boris is the life and soul of the party, but you wouldn’t want him driving you home.”

7. Michael Brendan Dougherty found a lot that appeals in the prominence-rise of Senator Josh Hawley. From his piece:

And after promising new ideas, Hawley started to unveil a legislative agenda. His willingness to attack Silicon Valley is — in my view — smart politics. Silicon Valley’s leaders have basically spent the last two years apologizing to the “arrogant aristocrats” that conservatives, some of them social-media users, have won elections and other democratic contests in the Western world. Their response has been a suite of political-management tools. The New Jersey man who planned to bomb Trump Tower openly bragged about his financial support of Hamas on Instagram. But populist conservatives are often banned from these platforms, just for the content of their views.

Hawley’s argument against Silicon Valley is rather sophisticated. He charges this industry with diverting talented and ambitious American minds into building socially useless, or destructive, products. It’s a version of the argument Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel has made, that we were promised technological marvels, and we got tweets instead. Maybe you don’t believe that it is Washington’s business to decide which businesses are socially harmful. I’m not sure I’m convinced. But Hawley can charge correctly that social-media companies were advantaged by regulations that treated them as open platforms — like the Internet itself — but given this advantage, social media has destroyed socially useful competitors such as local newspapers. And now, having destroyed these potential rivals for advertising dollars, the social-media companies are acting like publishers, which are subject to entirely different standards.

8. Big Jim Geraghty runs down the 24 Democrats who are presidential wannabes. And no, this isn’t the Kiefer Sutherland countdown. A slice from his piece:

Tim Ryan: Congressman from Ohio. The Democrats’ ambassador to blue-collar America, Ryan is closest to the demographic that most Democrats believe they must win back in order to win Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. But because Ryan echoes Trump in some ways — opposition to free trade, talk about “forgotten Americans,” opposes the Green New Deal and Medicaid for All — most Democrats won’t give him a second look.

Eric Swalwell: Congressman from California. Perhaps no candidate has done more to pitch himself to the Twitter Left, touting himself as the “guns and Russia” candidate. But despite relentless focus on these issues, he’s still extremely little-known. He’s not even listed in the 16-candidate RealClearPolitics national polling average.

Mike Gravel: Former senator from Alaska who left office almost 40 years ago. He’s 89, which makes Bernie Sanders look young. His campaign manager is an 18-year-old high-school senior. This is a good setup for a Hollywood comedy, not an actual presidential campaign.

9. I . . . can’t . . . get . . . no . . . sat-is-fac-shunn: Then maybe church is the answer. A new study, writes David French, shows religious married couples are having a wonderful time. From the end of his article:

As someone who has spent my entire life in religious communities, I’ve always rebelled against the cultural stereotypes. I’ve grown up in communities that often struggled with the exact same moral maladies that inflict the rest of the world but always included systems and networks of encouragement and support. I did not grow up around emotionally stunted prudes. I don’t live around such people now.

There are certainly people who flee religious communities for good reason. There are terrible churches, and there are abusive religious figures, including fathers, husbands, and pastors. But I fear that in our pop culture and in our academies, the anecdotes have overwhelmed the data, and therefore our cultural elites have all too often missed the real story of the meaning, satisfaction, and virtuous purpose in America’s faithful families.

10. Austria’s government is shaken, stirred, and spilled as Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces a coalition split with the scandal-tagged Freedom Party. Summer intern Declan Leary — in his first-ever NR article — provides an in-depth analysis. From his piece:

The other parties currently holding seats in the National Council (the Greens, with ten, and NEOS, or the New Austria and Liberal Forum, with 7) are both too far to the left and too inconsequential to form a governing coalition. Kurz’s only other chance, then — and it’s a terribly slim one — is for the ÖVP to win a strict majority in the legislature, thereby eliminating the need for coalition. But the jump from 61 to 92 seats would have been a near-impossibility even before this most recent shake-up. Now, the ÖVP will consider itself lucky if it just manages to avoid massive losses.

The FPÖ, on the other hand, finds itself at its highest point of influence in decades. It has seen steady rises every cycle since winning just 18 seats in the 2002 elections, culminating in a 51-seat victory this last election — just one less than the Social Democrats. Especially now that the immensely popular Norbert Hofer, who very nearly became president in 2016, has replaced Strache as party leader, the FPÖ could very well prove a formidable force going forward. This could be bad news for Kurz, given how forcefully he has just condemned them, and how forcefully they have responded.

If Hofer’s FPÖ and Kurz’s ÖVP can mend fences, they may very well grow into one of the most effective movements on the right to govern in Europe in recent memory. Their model could in turn serve as a template for conservatives across the EU to win elections and effectively govern afterward. Kurz’s only other choice is to accept near-certain defeat and watch his country be governed by a new coalition of any of the parties to his left, a coalition almost certain to undo the significant accomplishments of the last two years. There is only one path forward for a conservative Austria, and Kurz was already on it before Saturday’s announcement. It may not be a pretty one, but it’s better than any of the alternatives.

11. Thanks to the monolith of academic leftism, Dennis Prager believes there is a good chance Junior will come out of college giving America and your beliefs the stink eye. From his column:

Those who still believe that one of the primary purposes of American public (and most private) schools is to Americanize students should know this is no longer the case. On the contrary, most American high schools now celebrate every identity except American identity (which the Left brands a euphemism for white supremacy).

Meanwhile, at its commencement next month, the City University of New York will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Al Sharpton.

12. Steven Waldman looks at the Founding Fathers and religion, and views Madison as having a better understanding of religious freedom than did Jefferson. From his analysis:

The Protestant Reformation did not reform much, according to Jefferson. John Calvin’s idea of predestination — that God chose some to be saved and that their actions couldn’t alter their fate — disgusted him. By detaching salvation from behavior, it undermined morality. “Calvinism has introduced into the Christian religion more new absurdities than its leader [Jesus] had purged it of old ones,” he explained. Driven by the conviction that history had obscured the moral teachings of Jesus, Jefferson created his own Bible by cutting out all the miracles, including Jesus’s divine birth and resurrection, rescuing the “diamonds” of Jesus’s true teachings from the “dung” that littered its pages.

For Jefferson, spirituality was primarily an individual quest, while Madison believed that organized religion, too, was valuable and must, for the sake of the republic, be purified and strengthened. Jefferson wanted religious freedom in order to end persecution and remove limitations on intellectual creativity; Madison believed that liberty would lead religion to flourish. Jefferson emphasized the freedom to think; Madison, in effect, the freedom to pray.

13. Al Jazeera cranks out some rank anti-Semitism, reports Marlo Safi. From her piece:

While Al Jazeera’s English-language channel is known in the U.S. for its progressive bent and seemingly fitting slogan “Experience. Empower. Engage,” the outlet’s flagship Arabic channel showed its true colors last weekend, in a since-deleted video that denied the magnitude of the Holocaust.

The 17-minute video, featuring a female narrator, was published on May 18 on Facebook with the Arabic caption, “Gas chambers killed millions of Jews, this is what the story is. What is the truth of the #Holocaust and how did the Zionists benefit from it?” The video, according to the BBC, claimed that the toll of the Holocaust had been exaggerated and “adopted by the Zionist movement,” that Israel was the biggest winner from the Holocaust, and that Jews use “financial resources and media institutions” to “put a special spotlight” on Jewish suffering.

Al Jazeera’s statement following the video’s deletion said that the post had “violated the editorial standards of the network” and that two journalists were suspended over its content. But what editorial standards, exactly, is the network referring to? It’s been churning out such anti-Semitic tropes — not to mention Islamist extremism, anti-Shia rhetoric, and Qatari propaganda — since its inception.

14. ABC airs a live staging of episodes from All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Kyle Smith finds the shows tell us a lot about then — life before PC — and now — awash in it. From his review:

ABC’s live presentation reminds us that The Jeffersons was the more interesting show, which in this iteration begins with a snappy take on the gospel-soul theme song, “Movin’ on Up,” this time sung by Jennifer Hudson. Her fellow Oscar winner Jamie Foxx turns out to be very funny mimicking Sherman Hemsley’s nervy-bantam performance as George Jefferson, a child of no means who climbs the ladder and comes to own a dry-cleaning chain and an expensive apartment on the posh Upper East Side. Wanda Sykes plays Louise, his ever-reasonable, slightly exasperated wife. Will Ferrell (stealing the show for the couple of minutes he’s there) and Kerry Washington play Tom and Helen, a deliriously well-heeled interracial couple whose composition irks George. “I’m gonna fix myself a drink — mixed,” George says, when they visit.

George is much more complicated than Archie, and much funnier. George has issues. Archie’s just a racist. Why does Foxx, like Hemsley before him, have so much humming energy? The man pulses and fumes. George has moved on up, and yet he’s still full of frustrated resentment. He’s got money, but the world around him still feels wrong. He’s earned respect, so why is everyone always insulting him?

The slight in this episode is his wife’s friendship with a maid, Diane (Jackée Harry). Consorting with domestics is to George unacceptable. “Some people got to be the Ma’ams and the rest are the mammies,” he reasons. Louise tells George he’s forgetting where he came from. “It’s not a question of where I came from; it’s a question of where I am,” he says. When he suggests hiring Diane, though, Louise objects: She’d rather hire someone else, because it would be unthinkable to hire a friend to be a maid. Diane, when she learns this, is appalled: “I’m glad everybody ain’t as friendly as you are. My kids would starve to death.” No smug sermonizing here.

Commercial Time! But It’s Worthwhile.

Brent Bozell, founder and president of Media Research Center, is a dear pal. And in case you didn’t know it, he’s a nephew of WFB. In two weeks his new book, Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump, co-authored with Tim Graham, will be out in two weeks, and I want to encourage one and all to get a copy (order it “pre-publication” via Amazon at the link above).

The book’s motivation is pretty much summed up as this: There is no fairness or balance. There is only aggression.

I got a review copy a couple of weeks back and was looking through it and found its analysis to be dead on, and its marshalling of facts to be truly impressive. Here’s a passage (I hope I am not violating any embargo!) from the chapter “Defining Our Terms”:

Since they first developed a taste for their own power in opposing the Vietnam War and forcing Richard Nixon to resign in the Watergate scandal, our national news corporations have become increasingly bold in picking winners and losers, explicitly telling voters who they must elect and what “landmark” legislation they must support. When the people fail in their election choices, they are compared to toddlers throwing tantrums. To repeat Peter Jennings’ 1994 quote in its entirety, “Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week.”

The media then try to run the country between the elections, to enlighten obstreperous citizens, the “poor, uneducated, and easy-to-command” types. If they fail in stopping a man’s cause, they cock the trigger and then fire the final bullet: character assassination. The goal is for your values to become as radioactive in the court of public opinion as the man or cause you supported.

As the media became more aggressive in their pursuit of a liberal agenda, with equal passion conservatives who saw through this plastic propaganda rushed to embrace alternative forms of media as they emerged. First it was Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. The left’s hostility to these uppity conservatives has never waned. Then Fox News emerged on television and overnight became the number one cable news network, so Fox News became Fake News. Leftists wore T-shirts with the Fox News logo and “Faux News” painted on them, along with the slogan “We Distort, You Comply.” They also sold shirts that read “I don’t watch Fox News for the same reason I don’t eat out of the toilet.” They wanted people to cast a strange look at their relatives at the Thanksgiving table when they offered “news” that hadn’t been mentioned on ABC, CBS, NBC, or CNN. News wasn’t “reality” until the preposterously titled “mainstream media” gave it their stamp of approval.

For conservatives there is neither fairness nor balance, nor do the elites believe there should be. These journalists sit on the far left of the ideological spectrum, but they declare themselves centrists, and so virtually all things conservative are “far right.” They even delude themselves into thinking the left — they — are always right and the “Right Is Wrong,” as Arianna Huffington titled one of her silly books. The Huffington Post types dismiss conservatives as a “lunatic fringe” that threatens to “hijack” America.

Conservatives are neither to speak nor to be heard.

Somehow our First Amendment rights are getting a Miranda layering and twist. Anyway, this book will be a great read. I’m very happy for Brent and Tim. Wait until June to get a copy at your bookstore, or order a copy of Unmasked on Amazon, here.

Game of Thrones Finale Geekout

1. David French found the last season “was true to the ethos of the series.” From his take:

But the thing that truly stood out to me — and indeed, stands out across the entire sweep of the series — is the power of a single father, Ned Stark. It was his fate in the first season (and first book) that signaled that there was something different about Game of Thrones. If you’d read fantasy fiction at all, you would have thought that Thrones was Ned Stark’s story. He was the righteous man who would triumph. Instead, he was the righteous man who lost his head. Then we spent the next seven seasons trying to discover the true hero. We thought it was Robb Stark. He was betrayed. We thought it was Dany. She turned. We thought it was Jon Snow, and he was certainly a hero, but was he the hero?

2. Jonah Goldberg thought it was a bust. From his take:

Look, I share David’s love of Game of Thrones. But I thought the finale was largely a bust, for failings David mostly acknowledges in passing (but does not allow to dampen his ardor). The problems with the finale were largely the problems of this entire season. Characters that had been carefully developed over the years, were turned into almost allegorical plot-advancement devices. Subplots that had been teased for just as long were relegated to the dustbins of “Whatever happened with . . . ” “What was the point of . . . ” and “Aw, just forget it.”

3. Kevin Williamson’s take is less about thumbs up or down than it is about seeing Game of Thrones as instructive to the thoughts of political men and women considering either small mercies or utopias. From his article:

There is nothing more dangerous than “vision” in a politician, nothing as hateful to the peace and prosperity of the realm as grand ambitions. The state, as George Washington knew, is at best a necessary evil, and it tends away from necessity and toward evil the less it attends small mercies and the more it attends grandeur and dreams of perfected men in a perfected world. Men are difficult to perfect, which is why utopians have murdered so many of them. They believe they are “on the right side of History.”

That is a story that, like Game of Thrones, always ends where it began.

Lights. Cameras. Critics!

1. There’s a new documentary soon to be playing on HBO, The Cold Blue, about the unthinkable bravery of American airmen in the Eighth Air Force, bringing the war to Germany, few somehow avoiding the ultimate sacrifice. Kyle Smith has high praise for it (Bonus: there’s a nice potshot at George Clooney). From the review:

The new documentary The Cold Blue is thick with such details, surprising and strange and funny but above all horrifying. The level of everyday heroism on offer almost surpasses our capacity to absorb it. The variety of ways by which men could get killed was vast. What men were expected to do was merely to throw themselves in a storm of lethal fire, go to bed, rise, and repeat.

Even the genesis of The Cold Blue is hard to reconcile with today’s sensibilities. In 1943, William Wyler was already among the most distinguished Hollywood directors, having made Wuthering Heights and Mrs. Miniver. (He would go on to make The Best Years of Our Lives, Roman Holiday, and Ben-Hur and remains the only person to direct three films to win the Best Picture Oscar.) Wyler, a Jew from Alsace-Lorraine who came to America in 1921, volunteered to join the Army in 1942, spending three years as a major and joining bombing missions over Europe to film the 45-minute documentary The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. Wyler’s extraordinary footage was damaged under difficult conditions, but a team led by director Erik Nelson pored over 15 hours of celluloid Wyler and his team of three cinematographers shot. Nelson assembled The Cold Blue by  combining restored footage shot by Wyler with new scenes and voiceover narration from veterans of those B-17 missions. The resulting document of courage is playing a single night in theaters (May 23) ahead of an HBO debut on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

2. Armond White digs folk-rock documentary Echo in the Canyon in part because it’s about music, and not about politics! From his review.

Jakob Dylan (son of the bard) and former Capitol Records exec Andrew Slater made the film as background to their 2015 concert that celebrated the 50th anniversary of folk-rock. The genre was created by a coterie of white counterculture musicians drawn to Laurel Canyon, a hilly, wooded section of Los Angeles, where they were close to Sunset Strip clubs yet still got the feel of living in the country.

That history has sociological significance, but Jakob and Slater resist the PBS and foundation-grant tendency to make a doc that exploits politics as its substance. (It’s nearly impossible to find a recent documentary that doesn’t at some point name-check Obama as proof of the makers’ bona fides.) Echo in the Canyon pays tribute to Laurel Canyon creativity and social license from a Millennial perspective that is politically neutral. And that makes it unique.

Both Jakob and Slater cite a remarkable inspiration: Jacques Demy’s 1969 film Model Shop, an unsuspected time capsule of the folk-rock era’s look, feel, and musical vibe, and of Laurel Canyon itself. Clips from Model Shop intersperse interviews with Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, and Michelle Phillips, while Model Shop extracts complement the concert scenes performed by Jakob and such contemporaries as Beck, Cat Power, and Fiona Apple.

3. Kyle dubs Disney’s new live-action Aladdin a “textureless, humorless, anodyne cinematic gift-shop souvenir.” I don’t think he likes it. From his review:

As the street rat-turned-prince Ali, Mena Massoud is so aggressively bland he could be a missing member of NSYNC, except he can hardly sing. Naomi Scott, as Jasmine, is unspeakably beautiful, but she doesn’t make the audience love her; she just passively expects us to. Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar is too cute to be scary. All of them are out-acted by the magic rug, though none is quite as annoying as Smith, the only star in the show.

Smith does not grasp that he is not Robin Williams and we don’t want him to be Robin Williams. The original was the first movie that figured out how to build around Williams’s frenetic stand-up act, and did it ingeniously. I’m not just saying that because I love Williams’s legendary WFB spoof — “There are a few provisos, a couple of quid pro quos.” Williams was funny and freewheeling. Smith isn’t a stand-up and doesn’t earn laughs, yet the CGI wizards keep altering his look as if he were Williams doing rapid-fire impressions. Nor is he a singer. To observe what he’s doing here is a toothache. Do it a different way, Will. You’re an actor, for heaven’s sake, and a good one.

4. OK, I know you are going to want to read an Armond review titled “Will Smith Goes from Genie to Uncle Remus in Aladdin.” From the review:

Smith’s stardom makes it possible for the Millennial market to tolerate the sort of stereotyping exemplified by James Baskette’s Uncle Remus in Disney’s now verboten Song of the South (1947). That original mixture of live action and animation used Joel Chandler Harris’s Br’er Rabbit tales from the post-Reconstruction era to suit Hollywood’s enlightened taste with respect to American society’s changing race relations after World War II. For several generations, Song of the South has been suppressed by p.c. hypocrisy while less congenial black stereotypes outside the Aesop/Uncle Remus African moralizing tradition gained popularity. James Baskette’s performance of the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” won him an honorary Oscar decades before the Motion Picture Academy mandated its annual tokenism. His role should be understood as being in the spirit of informed social benevolence, much like Smith’s.

Eye Candy

1. Kat Timpf claws Alyssa Milano over her #SexStrike campaign. Catch the video.

2. More Kat: She goes off on those who say opposition to dull prexy wannabe Kirsten Gillibrand is somehow a form of sexism. Catch Kat’s video.

3. Rich Lowry shares 5 Reasons why Roe v. Wade is a travesty that needs to be overturned. Watch his video.

4. Charlie Cooke thinks Mitch McConnell’s proposal to raise the smoking age is a violation of federalism. He has a number of other problems too. Stick that in your pipe! Watch it here.

5. Marlo Safi won’t be dunking her doughnuts in “cold brew” java, and finds the redefinition of a rightly hot liquid is . . . Orewellian! And don’t call it “coffee.” Watch it here.

The Six.

1. In the new issue of City Journal, Heather Mac Donald spotlights the Left eating its own in woke NYC law firms that are hardly promoting minorities to partners. Why? From her piece:

Despite the numerous support programs that corporate firms offer for “diverse” attorneys, this academic skills gap is infrequently overcome. Black lawyers at big firms report fewer assignments and less responsibility for major cases. Sander calls this under-assigning “benign neglect.” While most of the attorney quotes in the New York Times story represent a serious misreading of the work environment, the statement about white males getting better opportunities and client contacts is undoubtedly true. The reason for that disparity is not invidious discrimination but partners’ contact with the result of racial preferences.

The retired big-firm partner describes the dynamics created by preferential hiring. “There’s a lot of resistance to working with black attorneys on big cases. No one says: ‘I don’t want this black associate.’ Instead, it is: ‘Jerry can work with him.’” These reluctant supervisors are not racist; they simply know from experience that a significant portion of the black associates are less competitively qualified. (Meantime, those black attorneys who are competitively qualified operate under the stigma of a quota system.) The skills gap shows up most in legal drafting, whether litigation briefs or financial instruments. Preference beneficiaries’ writing is less clearly reasoned, with more analytical gaps, according to the retired partner—who happened to be one of two attorneys in his firm who affirmatively tried to help diversity hires with their writing. A poorly drafted bond indenture can cost the issuer a few hundred million dollars if there is a dispute over the indenture’s financial covenants. Partners are therefore acutely concerned about the quality of work that their clients get.

The liberal partners, the strongest advocates for “diversity,” rarely practice what they preach, instead funneling the results of diversity hiring whenever possible to someone else’s case. In private conversations, they acknowledge the diversity sham but shrug their shoulders: “What choice do we have?”

2. The American Conservative’s John Rodden pays a fitting tribute to the late historian, John Lukacs. From the beginning of his piece:

On May 6—just two days short of V-E Day, as he surely would have noted—we lost our nation’s greatest living historian of modern Europe. The Hungarian-born John Lukacs had for some time suffered from congestive heart failure. He died in his home in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, at the age of 95.

As a young émigré scholar, Lukacs published his first book, The Great Powers and Eastern Europe (1953), at the age of 29. He quickly went on not only to write provocative studies of World War II and the Cold War, but also several biographical portraits featuring the two dominant figures of 20th-century Europe, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler.

Drawing on his talents as a narrative historian with an almost cinematic feel for pacing and character development, Lukacs repeatedly cast this pair in starring roles as his dueling dramatis personae, the war’s titanic hero faced off against his diabolical nemesis. Lukacs’ most famous book, Five Days in London, May 1940 (1999), in which he portrayed Churchill’s heroic resolve to forswear surrender to Hitler’s Germany during the Dunkirk crisis, was brandished in September 2001 by then-mayor Rudy Giulani as a story comparable to that of his intrepid fellow New Yorkers in the aftermath of 9/11. (Five Days in London was also the chief literary source for 2017’s The Darkest Hour, in which Gary Oldman captured an Oscar for his portrayal of Churchill.)

Lukacs’ international distinction as a scholar of 20th-century Europe has been widely honored in recent weeks. Ultimately, I believe he will rank as a historian alongside such towering 19th-century European predecessors as Jakob Burckhardt and Johan Huizinga. Less well known than Lukacs the eminent historian and outspoken public intellectual, however, was Lukacs the man and teacher, and a word here about those aspects of him is apposite.

3. American Spectator publisher Melissa Mackenzie finds the #MeToo campaign to be, in a word, stupid. From her piece:

How does this bell get unrung?

The vast majority of men are decent. They don’t deserve to be tarred for being men. And women don’t deserve abuse. Women also deserve face time with their superiors. They deserve to be seen as individuals, just as men do.

The #MeToo Movement didn’t do that. The feminists leading the charge and their Hollywood helpers created insulting messages that make normal male behavior seem wrong. Boyhood is portrayed as being wrong.  The Gillette video illustrates the sweeping #MeToo generalizations, generalizations that in reverse, would be viewed as misogynist.

Group identity is antithetical to a fairness because it is bigoted. The solution to a a few men acting badly isn’t to portray every man the same way and punish every man for the actions of a minority of men.

4. Ben Weingarten, in The Federalist, looks at the Democratic Party’s anti-Semites and its leaders who have crude political reasons for not quashing them. From his piece:

The more narrow reason the Democratic Old Guard is leaning into Tlaib and Omar is that they can be used as faux martyrs to score political points: The more provocative their comments, the bigger the backlash from Republicans and thus the larger the cudgel the left can wield against Republicans for “pouncing” and “seizing” on hapless minority women.

Since the provocateurs are Democrats sitting atop the identity politics hierarchy, any attacker must be evil. While Democrats have screamed “racist” and “bigot” so frequently and in such inapt circumstances as to have depreciated such charges, their backing of Tlaib and Omar enables them to continue virtue-signaling and framing their political opponents as deplorable.

Also, by judging critics based on the identity of those being criticized, rather than on the merits of the criticism, the left seeks to render debate in America impossible. Democrats have argued that scrutiny of Muslim congresswomen represents “Islamophobic” “incitement.” This fits the European anti-free speech paradigm whereby “hate speech”—as defined by enlightened progressive leaders—somehow equates to violence, and is criminalized.

5. At Quillette, Zachary Snowdon Smith goes to the University of Melbourne’s Masters in Journalism program and discovers that something has “gone awry at Australia’s best university.” From his piece:

Another peculiar class was Terror, Law, and War, ostensibly a survey of legal and military responses to terrorism. In practice, the class focused almost exclusively on American, European, and Israeli misbehavior, and on the perceived ridiculousness of Australian anti-terrorism measures. Islamist terrorism was left unconsidered except as a hallucination of xenophobic Westerners. As if to drive the point home, one presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict referred to Palestinian suicide bombings as “terrorism,” in scare quotes.

We spent a period discussing a televised interview with Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. During the interview, Lateline host Emma Alberici took a combative stance, demanding that Doureihi either clearly denounce the Islamic State’s tactics or admit that he condoned them. Doureihi refused to cooperate, instead pushing the conversation toward Australian mistreatment of Muslims.

The subsequent class discussion became something like a rally: we unanimously acclaimed Doureihi’s dignity and courage and took turns mocking Alberici’s hypocrisy and ill-concealed racism. The teaching assistant declared with apparent pride that she was friends with Doureihi and that he had confided in her that the interview was a trying experience, but necessary. Some of the students who rose to voice their support for Doureihi were so agitated that their voices shook. Somehow, throughout this bacchanal of self-righteousness, the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir is an explicitly anti-democratic organization that supports the killing of apostates and whose leaders describe Jews as “the most evil creatures of Allah” escaped mention. Evidently, one can’t take sides between liberalism and totalitarianism without knowing the pigmentations of those involved.

6. In Commentary, John Podhoretz looks into the Jewish roots of . . . Marvel. From his piece:

Americans may be full of anxiety about the erosion of our national standing and power, but there is no sign of that erosion when it comes to global mass culture. A century after the man in tramp garb all but invented celebrity, the most popular cultural figures in the world today are a dozen Americans in very different sorts of garb—costumes that were first sketched half a century ago by royalty-denied, day-laboring schleps, mostly Jewish, working for slave wages in the slapdash midtown Manhattan offices of a penny-ante publishing company called Marvel Comics.

Like so much of 20th-century pop culture, the comics business was the creation and handiwork of first-generation and immigrant Jewish businessmen, writers, and artists whose outside-inside position in America gave them a peculiar and useful vantage point. As a character in Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay notes: “They’re all Jewish, superheroes. Superman, you don’t think he’s Jewish? Coming over from the old country, changing his name like that. Clark Kent, only a Jew would pick a name like that for himself.” The Jews who made the comics told contemporary folktales about powerful people often forced by circumstance to pretend to be relatively powerless even as they contested with external evils that wished above all else to destroy them and the society around them—the very society that these stiff-necked people sitting in the culture’s cheap seats felt hard-done-by.

The creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were kids from Cleveland who sold their intellectual property for $130 to a company called DC run by two immigrants named Jack Liebowitz and Harry Donenfeld. DC’s chief rival was a company that would eventually be called Marvel; it was the property of one Martin (né  Moe) Goodman, who brought his nephew Stanley Lieber on board to help out. Lieber eventually changed his name to Stan Lee and became the public face of the business—and, in his own prose contributions to the comic books he wrote and edited, introduced the self-mocking jokey tone of the Borscht Belt to boys across America and helped form their understanding of what humor was.


While discovering the life and times of Elmer Valo during the composition of the prior WJ, the name of teammate Alfred Lovill “Chubby” Dean jumped off the page, “literally” as Joe Biden might say. In the late 30s, there were Dean ballplayers named Dizzy and Daffy . . . who remembers Chubby? WJ does! He’s interesting. Stay with me here.

As we know, Babe Ruth started his career as a pitcher and then found his essence as an outfielder. But who goes in the other direction? Few. Of some distinction in this rare area is Indians Hall of Famer Bob Lemon. Famously moved from the outfield to the mound, Lemon earned a career record of 207–108, leading the AL in victories three times and complete games five times. At the plate, he had a career .232 batting average, bopped 37 dingers, and even in his last season (1958) he was being used as a pinch hitter.

Early in his career, Lemon found himself playing alongside Chubby, who started his career in 1936 as a first baseman for the Philadelphia As, tossed a few games in 1937-8, and then found himself a full-time As hurler in 1939 (that year he hit .351!). Picked up off waivers in 1941 by Cleveland, Dean mixed starting and relief roles for the Indians. A lifetime .274 hitter, he also found himself pinch-hitting plenty. (In the last two games he ever played, both ends of a 1943 doubleheader against the White Sox on September 5, Chubby wasn’t tossing, but was pinch-hitting. Lemon echoed that in his last-ever official appearance on a major league ballfield, July 1, 1958, against the White Sox in Chicago, when he was called on to pinch hit for catcher Dick Brown).

And so one wonders: Did these two fielders-turned-pitchers, Lemon and Dean, ever play together in the same game, as batsmen? And the answer is: Yes. Sorta. Come September 12, 1942, in a Saturday afternoon game against the Red Sox in Cleveland, both were called on to pinch hit. In the 5th, Lemon hit for the great Jim Hegan. He whiffed. In the 9th — two on, none out, trailing by 3 — Chubby was called to pinch hit for journeyman hurler Tom Ferrick (btw: He won Game Three in relief for the Yankees in the 1950 World Series) and then, before he even got into the batter’s box, Dean himself was pinch-hit for by Buster Mills. A plate appearance for Chubby? No. But did he officially play in the game? Yes!

A Dios

There is a piece on bravery that George MacDonald Fraser, a British combat veteran of World War 2 (his war memoirs, Quartered Safe Out Here, is a powerful book) and author of the beloved “Flashman” series, authored in 1998 that NR published. It is titled, “A Remembrance of Heroes Past.” And as it will be a fitting read for this weekend, we make it available to you here.

May I encourage that this weekend you remember in prayer those who died? And why they died? And our obligations to them? As to the latter, Mr. Lincoln so rightly put it:

. . . from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

God’s Blessings on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler

I can be emailed recipes, lamentations, and chidings at

National Review

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

Dear Joltarians,

More on Elmer Valo and others below, in Baseballery, which, despite having nothing to do with conservatism and having started as a lark, has acquired fans who demand weekly entertainment and (gulp!) vow bodily harm if disappointed.

Speaking of fans, if you are a fan of NR, especially if you are like the kind who watches the game freebie style, I’ve got ask you, maybe just this once, to buy a seat. It can be in the bleachers if your means are slim, good seats if the means are corpulent, or maybe a luxury box if you are in the mood to splurge bigly. The “game,” if you will, is watching NR take on socialism, which is the theme of the magazine’s new special issue (much more on that below). The tickets, to seventh-inning stretch this analogy, are the Spring 2019 Webathon, during which NR is trying to raise $175,000. We’re 40 percent of the way toward our goal. That’s good, but that means there is still a long, long way to go.

The way this webathon is playing out, it looks like we’re playing small ball, which is fine. So maybe you can help by working out that $25 walk, laying down that $50 sacrifice, slapping that $100 single. But do surprise us if you can with a home run, or load the bases and smash that grand slam. (Now we have you playing instead of being spectators!) It will help us win, and when we win, you win, because . . . socialism loses.

Morning Jolt (the daddy of this Weekend edition) author Jim Geraghty cast our webathon as a plea to help NR fight the “socialist zombie resurgence,” and while that doesn’t fit into a baseball analogy, the fact is, there is a resurgence, and another fact is, NR is the best means of beating it back. Another fact: We can only do that with your selfless help.

We’re the home team. Root for us. Heck, as the song goes, root root root for us. Donate to the Spring 2019 Webathon, today. Please. And thank you. And now, let’s play ball!


1. The markets and policy wonks are roiling about the Xi–Trump / China–U.S. trade standoff. A trade war is not in America’s interests, and a return to the table is. From the editorial:

Trump responded to the setback in talks by raising tariffs, and China reciprocated. The escalation of the trade war poses increasing risk to our economy, as stocks have been signaling. The best course for the U.S. now would be to reach a swift resolution in the current talks — getting back to the deal that seemed to be on the table before China miscalculated — and then switch to a strategy for changing Chinese behavior that does not depend so thoroughly on possibly backfiring tariffs.

The president has already hinted at what such a strategy would look like when urging companies to move their supply chains from China to other countries such as Vietnam. That suggestion was doubtless glib, overlooking the costs of re-siting and the distinctive advantages that can accompany investment in China. The intuition that trade with other countries in the region can be useful in exerting pressure on China is, however, correct. It is the same thought that underlaid the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The president took the U.S. out of it, in part because he did not focus on its utility in reshaping the economic environment in favor of our economic model rather than China’s. But the other countries involved are moving ahead with the idea, and we should find a face-saving way to revive our participation. Trump has reportedly been open to this suggestion.

2. The spate of abortion restrictions emerging from state legislatures has spurred a discussion of pro-life tactics and strategy. We counsel against counterproductive efforts. From the editorial:

Today’s Supreme Court should acknowledge that it failed to settle the national debate on abortion. It should restore the right of the American people to enact laws protecting the lives of human beings who haven’t been born. It should finally act on the conclusion of Justice Scalia’s Casey dissent: “We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining.”

All Americans who support the Constitution and the rule of law should favor dismantling an unjust and unconstitutional legal regime that imposes a policy of abortion-on-demand in all 50 states. The ultimate goal of all pro-life Americans goes beyond overturning Roe and Casey and merely returning the question to the states, of course: We work toward a society in which every child is protected by law and welcomed in life.

Lawmakers in both Georgia and Alabama were acting upon this sound principle, but because lives are at stake, sound principles and pure motives aren’t all that matter. Pro-life Americans should think long and hard about whether their righteous impatience is leading them to make imprudent mistakes that will ultimately set back the cause of protecting life.

3. The president’s executive order drops the hammer on Red China over tech security. We say kudos. From the editorial:

The Trump administration took two major actions this week against Chinese telecom companies. First, the president signed an executive order declaring a national emergency over threats to American information technology and giving himself the power to block transactions with telecom companies that are “subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary” — a phrase left undefined but which has been widely interpreted to target Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. Then, the Commerce Department added Huawei to its “entity list,” barring it from buying American technology without the approval of the U.S. government. These are bold, and justified, assertions of executive power.

Huawei and its Chinese counterpart ZTE have a large and growing worldwide presence manufacturing both consumer technology — phones, laptops — and networking equipment. Huawei is the world’s leading manufacturer of base-station equipment for 5G networks. Everything from driverless cars to consumer technology to critical infrastructure will soon depend on such technology, making telecom networks something of a strategic asset.

 “Against Socialism,” the Second of Twin Special Issues, Is Out, and Here Are Four Examples of the Brilliance It Contains

There’s not a bad piece in the lot of articles comprising the new issue of National Review, the tremendous encore to our May 20 magazine dedicated to defending markets. I encourage you to try on for size one or all of these four recommendations.

1. In “Preserved in Their Poverty,” Theodore Dalrymple explains how socialism destroys the human character. From the beginning of his piece:

True socialists do not want a better world, they want a perfect one. That is why they so often view piecemeal amelioration with disdain or even hostility, and why they are willing to sacrifice the happiness of a present generation for the imagined bliss of a generation to come in the distant future. To adapt the Fool’s words in Twelfth Night very slightly: Present mirth hath no laughter. What’s to come is very sure. In delay there lies plenty . . .

If you tell a socialist that hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in the last few decades by means the very opposite of those of socialism, he will immediately retort that many millions have also not been lifted out of poverty, as if there had ever been, or could ever be, a time in which all people benefited equally from improving economic conditions, or as if poverty were the phenomenon that needed explanation rather than wealth. Until everyone is lifted from poverty, no one should be. Oscar Wilde, in “The Soul of Man under Socialism” (1891), wrote that “it is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property.” The only real solution to the problem of poverty, according to him, was the abolition of property itself; and until it was abolished, the person who used his money in this way was the very worst and most dangerous kind of exploiter, for he disguised the fact of exploitation from the exploited by rendering the exploitation bearable.

2. In one of the issue’s big essays, Avik Roy focuses on how socialized medicine is . . . unhealthy. Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) tells all. From his analysis:

But the NHS is no paradise. Open a random edition of a British daily newspaper and you will likely encounter an article about some egregious problem that the NHS has failed to solve. For example: NHS doctors routinely conceal from patients information about innovative new therapies that the NHS doesn’t pay for, so as not to “distress, upset or confuse” them; terminally ill patients are incorrectly classified as “close to death” so as to allow the withdrawal of expensive life support; NHS expert guidelines on the management of high cholesterol were intentionally not revised after be coming out of date, putting patients at serious risk in order to save money; when the government approved an innovative new treatment for blindness in elderly patients, the NHS initially decided to reimburse for the treatment only after patients were already blind in one eye—using the logic that a person blind in one eye can still see, and is therefore not that badly off; while most NHS patients expect to wait five months for a hip operation or knee surgery, leaving them immobile and disabled in the meantime, the actual waiting times are even worse: eleven months for hips and twelve months for knees (compared with a wait of three to four weeks for such procedures in the United States); one in four Britons with cancer is denied treatment with the latest drugs proven to extend life; those who seek to pay for such drugs on their own are expelled from the NHS system for making the government look bad, and are forced to pay for the entirety of their own care for the rest of their lives; and Britons diagnosed with cancer or heart attacks are more likely to die, and more quickly, than citizens of most other developed nations—Britain’s survival rates for these diseases are, according to an OECD survey, “little better than [those] of former Communist countries.”

3. Kevin Williamson’s article, “The Ignorance that Kills,” nails central planners for never knowing enough and usually causing mayhem courtesy of their ignorance. From his piece:

The socialists of Hayek’s and Mises’s time believed that a properly empowered bureaucracy overseen by a committee of disinterested experts could comprehend the entirety of an economy—within an industry, within a country, or around the whole globe—given sufficient resources and scope of action. This was rooted in what was contemporary scientific thinking. In 1814, around the same time that Charles Fourier was writing his utopian socialist blueprint The Social Destiny of Man, Pierre-Simon Laplace published A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, in which he posited what came to be known as “Laplace’s Demon,” which he described as “an intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed.” In Laplace’s thought experiment, “if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.” This is the idea of scientific determinism, which holds that if one could know the exact location and momentum of every atom in the universe (Werner Heisenberg had uncertainty), then the future of the universe and everything in it could, in theory, be calculated according to the laws of physics.

The socialists themselves were quite taken with the idea, hence the strange history of “Soviet cybernetics,” by means of which the central planners in Moscow imagined that they might develop a computer system so powerful that it could consider every variable in society at once and spit out scientific maxims about how many acres of potatoes to plant, and when and where to plant them. The prestige of science in the middle of the 20th century was enormous, and such dramatic scientific advances were being made so regularly—in the Soviet Union as elsewhere—that this did not seem entirely implausible.

4. Last but not least, John O’Sullivan pens a terrific essay, “Of Socialism and Human Nature,” discussing why the ideology fails, and succeeds. Here’s a slice:

Much the same is true of apparently high-minded defenses of socialism, often coming from Christian leaders, as a system that is morally superior to materialistic and selfish capitalism. In reality, the scarcity of everyday goods in a socialist economy makes people even more materialistic than they are in the logo-obsessed West. Corruption flourishes to meet de mands that socialism denies. In the later stages of Soviet Communism, a woman would sell herself for a pair of jeans; in Venezuela today, people exchange family heirlooms for a little food. But there are always hard-currency stores for socialist elites—and more than that for Politburo members. When I asked a Mont Pelerin guest in 1974 about his day job, he replied that I must understand why he could give me only the sketchiest account: “I manage the private hard-currency accounts of Soviet leaders in the West.”

Such contradictions and hypocrisies are hidden only from those who don’t wish to know about them. When their existence becomes undeniable, most comfortably off foreign admirers of socialist regimes condemn them only formally and then carry on as before. Their admiration for leftist despotisms is really a roundabout neurotic rejection of their own societies and as such not to be taken seriously. It’s the political equivalent of a society hostess’s dressing like a dominatrix: It’s intended to show contempt for dull middle-class virtues. Hard-core progressives are a different matter. They are serious revolutionaries and either invent contorted justifications for socialist scandals—virtues are transformed by theory into vices and vices into virtues—or simply deny the plain evidence of their own senses: As each socialist paradise is shown to be a kleptocratic hellhole, the caravan of Sandalistas simply moves on to the next one without apology.

Do I Hear Nine . . . Nine . . . And Do I hear Ten . . . Yes, Ten, Thank You and . . . Twelve! Yes, a Dozen NR Pieces, Sold to the Reader in Front of the Computer Screen!

1. Madeleine Kearns’ interview of sexologist Ray Blanchard about transgender orthodoxy, the cost of calling a mental illness a disorder, and much more, is a must. From the interview:

Kearns: As a lay person on this, it seems to me that the sort of vast range of treatments have now been channeled into a narrative of “affirmation” versus “conversion.” How do we make sense of this?

Blanchard: Well I think the use or the application of the words “conversion therapy” to the situation where you are just trying to see if the child can be made to accept his or her biological sex was a deliberate cynical strategy on the part of trans activists to piggyback on the success of the gay-rights movement and say, “What you’re trying to do with children, in getting them to accept their anatomical sex, is the same as what we used to do with gay people and lesbians.” It’s a deliberate attempt to try and piggyback issues that pertained to transsexualism to issues that had pertained to homosexuality, and I think the comparison is specious. It’s a deliberate attempt to confuse the two issues.

Kearns: Yes, it’s been very successful in the mainstream media and so on and so forth.

Blanchard: That’s for sure.

Kearns: Why do you think that is?

Blanchard: That’s a good question. Educated people in general have a sympathy for the downtrodden or the unfortunate that’s built into liberal-arts education in the Western world — and I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing that people should get some kind of built-in bias towards the underdog and towards the suffering. But I think in this case, that tendency and that bias on the part of liberal media has been misused by trans activists to influence treatment of cases of those who would actually do better in the long term if they could simply accept their anatomic sex, and here I’m talking about the young kids, 60 to 80 percent of whom are going to normalize in gender identity even without any clinical intervention.

2. The state abortion battles have raised, as they always do, an outcry over Roe’s possible overturning. Kevin Williamson explains what that will mean. From his piece:

If you doubt that, try this: Rather than starting with the conclusion that the right to abortion must be protected and then searching the Constitution for support, try doing the opposite: Read the document itself with a little bit of intellectual honesty and see whether the right to abortion is sitting there so plainly that the laws made by the nation’s lawmakers on behalf of the people who elected them should be nullified. There are many abortion-rights supporters who have concluded that as a strictly legal matter, Roe is somewhere between mistaken and preposterous. Almost no one honestly believes that the case was decided on the constitutional merits — and very few abortion-rights advocates honestly expect it to be endlessly affirmed on its constitutional merits, either. This fact is often implicit in their writing, and in their sputtering vitriol.

But the question of what is legal is separate from the question of what should be legal. It is very strange (if you are unused to enduring such great concentrations of stupidity) when a figure such as Representative Brian Sims angrily defends abortion on the grounds that it is legal. Of course abortion is legal. Abortion opponents intend to change the law. It was legal in the United States to own slaves, once. It was legal in Germany to work toward the complete extermination of Jews as a people. The abortions that are performed in the United States are, mostly, legal abortions. That is what abortion opponents propose to put an end to.

3. More on the abortion wars: David French says kudos to Georgia and Alabama for threatening Roe. From his piece:

Both Alabama’s abortion ban and Georgia’s heartbeat law contain a key provision — they declare the personhood of the unborn child. This is a vital measure that is aimed directly at a key portion of the Roe v. Wade opinion. Late last week, I had a lengthy phone conversation with state representative Ed Setzler, sponsor of Georgia’s legislation. He said his bill wasn’t “waving its fist at Roe; it’s answering Roe.”

Specifically, he pointed at a provision in Part IX of Justice Blackmun’s opinion, where Blackmun states that if the “personhood” of the baby is established, then the pro-abortion case “collapses.” The late Supreme Court justice was of course discussing the definition of personhood under the federal constitution. Setzler, however, notes that Supreme Court doctrine has long allowed states to expand constitutional liberties. They can establish standards of religious freedom, free speech, or due process, for example, that go beyond the First and Fifth Amendments. They cannot be more restrictive than the federal Constitution.

4. Even more: Mona Charen clears her throat to give attention to the fact that yeah, there are plenty of pro-life women, that they are ignored by Democrats, and that a Roe reckoning is coming. From her column:

Since the vote making abortion illegal in Alabama, Republican members of the Alabama senate have been targets of accusations — mostly that they are male and white. A number of outlets pointed to the fact that all 25 votes in favor of legislation were white, male Republicans. Okay. But the Alabama house has lots of Republican women. The bill’s sponsor in the lower chamber was a woman, as was the governor who signed the bill.

Those who fixate on the “problem” of whiteness may think this is some sort of knock-out blow, but the truth is that these senators are accurately representing the views of their constituents, including women. A 2018 PRRI survey found that 60 percent of Republican women agreed with the statement “Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned.” This compared with only 47 percent of Republican men. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake notes that women tend to be more religious than men, and this aligns with more conservative views on abortion.

5. At our expense, says Victor Davis Hanson, China has built up an emerging and insidious economic, military, and technological superiority. From his piece:

In military terms, China’s naval strategy is somewhat reminiscent of the ideas of Nazi admiral Karl Dönitz, the sometime genius of Hitler’s U-boat fleet, who argued with varying degrees of success that it was idiotic to repeat imperial Germany’s former failed and bankrupting efforts to match the battleships of the superior British navy ton for ton, when German submarines more cheaply and effectively could tie up the Royal Navy’s assets and deny its ships easy transit in the Atlantic.

The threat of China is not that it will in the near future match America’s eleven carrier battle groups, but that it will, in an effective cost-to-benefit manner, deploy small and more numerous submarines, frigates, and shore-to-ship batteries to create storms of sophisticated anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles that would ensure that key areas of the South China Sea were no-go zones for the fossilized multibillion-dollar flagships of the American navy.

6. Kat Timpf brings her distinct perspective to Alyssa Milano’s #SexStrike foolishness. From her article:

Although Milano may not realize it, her attempt at progressive activism was actually the opposite of feminist. Let me be clear: Calling for women to go on a “sex strike” isn’t “woke” or cool, it is sexist and harmful. Why? Because it promotes the antiquated narrative that women have sex only as a concession or gift to men, not because they enjoy sex for its own sake. This is not feminist; it’s patriarchal.

All too often, we women grow up hearing things that suggest it is somehow wrong or bad for us to want sex. I remember a friend in college telling me that her mom had taught her that “it’s the man’s job to want it; it’s the women’s job to say no.” These kind of colloquialisms can stick with a woman for a lifetime, making her feel dirty or wrong for wanting to engage in normal, healthy human behavior. We’ve certainly come a long way in terms of seeing women as being equal to men, but we are unfortunately still in a place where women who enjoy sex a lot are called “sluts,” while the same kind of desires and behaviors are not only accepted, but also celebrated, when we’re talking about men. It’s stupid, it’s unfair, and Milano is not helping.

If Milano is really as concerned about women’s “bodily autonomy” as she claims to be, then maybe she should start by not telling other women what to do with theirs. I mean, seriously — the irony is so obvious that I can’t believe that she still doesn’t see it and that she actually continues to defend her awful idea.

7. Although the victim of decades of commuter-train torture, I will nevertheless give a nod to Michael Auslin for paying tribute to the choo-choo on the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. From his piece:

It is hard to overstate the importance of the Transcontinental Railroad in American history, yet it must stand near the top of the achievements that helped define the country as one capable of the greatest of endeavors. It also was in some ways the most important event in bringing American into permanent contact with the Pacific world. Begun in the depths of the Civil War, in 1863, it was driven forward not only by the foresight of President Abraham Lincoln, but the near-messianic fervor of men like Theodore Judah, the main architect of the endeavor. The unprecedented undertaking was completed by three railroad companies in just six years, stretching 1,900 miles from Omaha Nebraska, on the Missouri River, to Oakland, Calif., on the San Francisco Bay. The Transcontinental Railroad did not, therefore, actually stretch across the entire nation, but since the eastern half of the continent had already been linked by a web of rail lines, once Omaha was connected to Chicago, the entire country was spanned by iron rails.

It was by no means assured that the path of the railroads would cover the lands they ultimately did. Many argued for lines farther south or north, and the great bulk of the Rocky Mountains had to be avoided. Meanwhile, the challenge of passing through the Sierra Nevada Mountains was considered by some to be near insurmountable, given the terrible trials of the covered wagon pioneers who had struggled up and down those granite chasms just a few decades before. It is mind-boggling to remember that the entire line was constructed without nearly any mechanical machinery: laborers used dynamite to blast through solid rock, and wielded picks, shovels, axes, and hoes to level the ground, lay the beds and ties, and connect the rails. The conditions faced by the Central Pacific’s Chinese laborers (referred to as “Celestials”) were especially hazardous, and despite the racism they faced, they also won the admiration and respect of many on the project for their skill, bravery, and ability to withstand the brutal work.

8. Kyle Smith says goodbye to Veep. From his Corner post:

The final season was somewhere in between, really funny but without the frantically increasing pace of the fifth. Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) continued to be the funniest character on the show as he stumbled close to the presidency from a Congressional seat on a platform of hating Muslims, math teachers, and vaccines. The finale comes up with plenty to do for my second-favorite character, the unflappably pleasant and self-effacing staff-nerd-turned-accidental- politician Richard Splett (wife: Annette Splett), who as played by Sam Richardson had a sunny agreeableness that made him hilariously orthogonal to the back-stabbers around him. (Idea for a spin-off sitcom: Splett. I’d watch.)

The bottomless cynicism and self-interest of the political class on the show makes it a sort of seven-year comedy dissertation on public choice theory. Nobody is out to make hope and change. All anybody wants is to secure advantage for himself, destroy the other guy and stomp on his bloody corpse. In service of its LOL-nothing-matters theme, every other minute the writers came up with a mot that would have been the proudest quip of the year coming from the average political columnist. Take this explanation of the meaninglessness of party platforms: “It’s just the party platform. It’s like a to-do list of things were not gonna do. I mean, ‘restore faith in democracy’? We couldn’t do that even if we wanted to.” The insults were explosively funny: “Right now, you’re about as toxic as a urinal cake in Chernobyl,” “He’s the Pol Pot of pie charts.” Of all the shows ending on HBO this spring, the one I’m going to miss is Veep. Also, the only one I watched was Veep.

9. Harvard lawyers / spouses Stephanie Robinson and Ronald Sullivan got the boot as deans because of lefty students protesting their decision to join accused lech Harvey Weinstein’s legal team. Jonathan Tobin asks, when did the left stop believing in the right to counsel? From his analysis:

Sullivan clearly expected students to understand that even the most repulsive defendants are entitled to legal representation. But he underestimated two factors.

First, the presumption of innocence has been undermined by the #MeToo movement that took off in the fall of 2017 — a movement catalyzed by the accusations against Weinstein. The increased attention paid to all forms of sexual harassment and assault was long overdue. But #MeToo brought with it the idea that one must simply “believe accusers.” Crowd-sourced accusations, such as those on the so-called Sh***y Media Men list, trafficked in unsubstantiated charges of misconduct and threatened to end careers with no due process whatsoever.

10. Wow. The per-family cost of the Trump tariffs is $767, says Michael Tanner, and the burden falls more heavily on the poorer voter. And, it’s going to get worse. From his column:

Trump’s insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, most of the cost of tariffs is paid by American consumers (through higher prices), not by the countries being sanctioned. For instance, it is estimated that the president’s latest round of tariffs on China will cost the American family an average of at least $767.

But that cost does not fall equally on poor and rich alike. To state the obvious, $767 means a lot more to a poor family struggling to pay its bills than it does to a wealthy one. Moreover, tariffs are more likely to fall on goods and services that the poor depend on, daily necessities of which they often lack a reserve supply.

Consider that among the companies that have announced they will be most impacted by the China tariffs are Walmart, Target, and Costco, none of which are known as the store of choice for global elites.

Studies show that the lower your income is, the harder you’ll be hit by tariffs. Tariffs imposed by Trump last year have already cost poor families 0.33 percent of after-tax income, as opposed to 0.28 percent for wealthy families, and hurt single parents even more than they hurt families. Trump’s latest tariffs will likely be even more regressive. And while each new tariff’s impact is relatively small, they cumulatively take a big hit out of poor people’s income.

11. Bill de Blasio looks in the mirror and sees the next president. Jonah Goldberg looks at Bill de Blasio and sees . . . Ferris Bueller. From his new column:

The same dynamic isn’t at work with de Blasio. He didn’t grow up poor, but he didn’t grow up rich either. Politically, he is the consummate example of someone born — or in this case elected — on home plate who can’t understand why no one in the stands is cheering his home run. When he was poised to win reelection, he was asked by New York magazine why he wasn’t more popular. He admitted that he was somewhat mystified. Given the strength of the economy and the low crime rate, “You’d assume they’d be having parades out in the streets” in his honor, he said.

They’re not, because he is a Ferris Bueller. In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) jumps out in front of a parade and acts like he’s leading it. De Blasio inherited the successes of Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, two mayors who wrestled the city back from the brink of social and economic collapse.

12. (Warning to Malthusians!) Kevin Williamson makes the case for . . . being born. From his essay:

An interesting fact about our political discourse is that Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich is still a part of it, commanding some attention in spite of his having been spectacularly wrong about every single major claim of his long public career. Erhlich has been delivering homilies on overpopulation since before I was born. Population Bomb, published in 1968, garnered a great deal of attention (and brisk sales!) for its claims that overpopulation made it inevitable that hundreds of millions of people would die of starvation in the 1970s. He was awfully sure of himself, as progressives so often are — “science says!” and all that — writing: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date, nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

What happened, of course, was the opposite. Extreme poverty worldwide has been reduced by more than half in the past few decades; to the extent that famine exists at all in the world today, it exists almost exclusively as a political phenomenon, the product of failed states rather than failed crops.

But the cult of overpopulation takes no notice of the facts. Abortion advocates such as Representative Sims habitually present their case in Malthusian terms: He demanded of the elderly woman he was bullying whether she herself would provide for the material needs of the unwanted children who were being chopped to bits and stuffed into medical-waste containers inside the Planned Parenthood facility. Never mind, for the moment, the fact that there are far more American families looking to adopt children than there are abortions performed or children eligible to be adopted — the imbalance is so great that Americans go all over the world looking for children to adopt — and just consider the implicit argument there on its own merits, which is this: “If we think that there might be some inconvenience involved in seeing to the needs of these children, then it would be better to put them to death.”

Lights. Cameras. Critics!

1. If you prefer your violence amazing and amusing, then Kyle Smith recommends you catch John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. From the review:

At the outset, this sequel promises to be an entire movie of chasing and fighting, an especially sanguinary response to Elmore Leonard’s famed storytelling dictum: leave the boring parts out. A team of screenwriters focuses almost exclusively on cool ways one man might murder another — with, say, a volume of Dante or a blade to the eyeball. One superbly staged fight takes place in an aisle full of display cases stocked with sharp instruments, another in a horse stable, another in the stacks of the New York Public Library’s main branch. The director, Chad Stahelski, is a former kickboxer. He wasn’t hired to faff around with character arcs.

Following a few smashing fight scenes that combine martial arts with an inventive array of props, though, the film settles down in a more conventional and not particularly compelling middle. After a visit with a Russian ballet instructor (Anjelica Huston) who is part of the hidden-in-plain-sight secret society, Wick slips away to Casablanca for some more chatter, with an old frenemy named Sophia (Halle Berry), also part of the network, and a so-so fight with uninteresting thugs who look like extras from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sophia is thrown in for no reason except to check the box marked Bada** Female Character, and the writers give us no cause to take any interest in her because they themselves aren’t interested in her.

2. Armond seconds that motion on John Wick. From the beginning of the review:

It’s a great pop-culture moment when the title character of John Wick 3: Parabellum (Keanu Reeves) is asked, “What do you need?” and straight-faced Reeves, in the lanky hair and facial scars denoting underworld conflict, responds, “Guns, lots of guns.” Finally, the “gun violence” cliché favored by hack politicians and robotic media spokespeople becomes the butt of a joke.

Reeves’s answer repeats his 1999 futurist hit The Matrix, but it also defies moralizing pundits of all persuasions who repeat that “gun violence” malapropism as if screaming for redundant gun-control laws will get to the core of an American social problem. Their hypocrisy ignores the popular, real-world use of weaponry for self-protection and Second Amendment license.

John Wick 3: Parabellum is impudent fun precisely because it exults in all-American freedom from victimhood. The title comes from the Latin Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you desire peace, prepare for war). Wick, a crime-world renegade, defends himself however possible — with guns, fisticuffs, martial arts, any object at hand used as slapstick.

3. I’m thinking Armond doesn’t hate Pasolini. If you are into film history, there’s a lot to learn in this piece. From the review:

“Is sex politics?” In the biopic Pasolini, that question is posed to legendary Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (played by Willem Dafoe), who responds, “In life, everything is politics.” His answer brings this movie close to understanding the discord now roiling American public intercourse. For Pasolini, sex was a metaphor for spiritual dysfunction, the anguished expression of human desire and its opposite, vengeance — that is, politics.

This ambitious biopic, directed by the renegade American filmmaker Abel Ferrara (whose films Bad Lieutenant, King of New York, The Funeral, and Welcome to New York make him something like an American counterpart to Pasolini), arrives just as unfathomable gamesmanship and political theatrics have frustrated the current administration and discombobulated American society. Pasolini (now playing at Metrograph) explores a filmmaker’s personal and public responsibility in an era when political society races to the bottom. It asks, as did Pasolini himself, How low can we go?

4. From the new issue: Ross Douthat caught Meeting Gorbachev. I kinda think he likes it. From the review:

I am surprised to be writing this review, because I am surprised that the movie I’m reviewing, Meeting Gorbachev, even exists. Not because of its subject, Mikhail Gorbachev’s remarkable career and peculiar ghostly afterlife, which is certainly a worthy subject for a documentarian. But because that subject seems such an unlikely one for this particular director — who is Werner Herzog, existentialist documentarian, Teutonic pessimist, the most instantly recognizable narrative voice in nonfiction film. (André Singer is his co-director.)

Herzog has made movies over the years that touch on politics, but only glancingly and incidentally. His familiar topics are the pitiless grandeur of nature (Antarctic, Amazonian, subterranean) and the human being in isolation and extremis — whether a conquistador going mad in the jungle, a bear-whisperer meeting his demise in wild Alaska, or a POW escaping from a prison camp in Vietnam. I always imagined him regarding politics as somehow beneath his notice, its substance as mere ephemera compared with geologic time, its personalities as vain and strutting figures unaware of their animal nature, their foredoomed mortal state.

Yet here he is, sitting across from the 88-year-old Gorbachev and asking him respectful questions about glasnost, looping in Lech Walesa and George Shultz to comment on the Cold War’s final years, weaving together footage both familiar and unexpected from one of the 20th century’s most important, most unusual, most simultaneously admirable and pitiable political arcs.

The Six

1. At First Things, my dear old amigo Hadley Arkes warns against a risky way of protecting religious freedom. From his essay:

We have just come through a year with the Supreme Court in which the defenders of religious freedom racked up a string of famous victories. Famous, at least, to those who rejoiced in the outcomes and hoped that they foretold something lasting. But there are grounds to be less than cheered when we consider the principles articulated in these decisions. The most notable case here, eliciting the deepest relief and yet triggering a deep bewilderment, was the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips. Phillips’s offense was that he declined to make a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding. The laws in Colorado at the time had no recognition of that form of marriage. Nevertheless, Phillips was charged with a violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which barred, among other things, the withholding of services in places of “public accommodation” on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “marital status.”

To the relief of many, Phillips won his case at the Supreme Court. But then we found people surprised and shocked that the same activists, armed with authority in Colorado, had come after Jack Phillips yet again. This time his offense lay in refusing to bake a cake to celebrate transgenderism. (More recently, the authorities have made a public disavowal of their plans for pursuing Mr. Phillips. But that change seemed to spring from avoiding a needless embarrassment, rather than confessing a serious moral error.) The possibility for pursuing Phillips remained because the governing majority of the Court never challenged the ground of the law in that case. They never challenged the claim that the laws in Colorado were on unassailable ground when they condemned discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation,” when they affirmed the rightness of same-sex marriage, and then condemned as wrongdoers, deserving punishment, those who would deny the rightness of same-sex marriage. If those laws are treated as justified and rightful, Justice Kennedy suffered not a trace of doubt that they would override any religious claim based merely on “belief.” His concern—and the decisive point for the judgment—was that the commissioners in Colorado had been gratuitous in their expressions of contempt for the convictions held by Jack Phillips.

2. In the Claremont Review of Books, Christopher Caldwell looks at Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s premier and the boogie man for scads of EUphiles. This is a big and meaty and juice analysis. From the beginning of the essay:

No English-language newspaper reported on it at the time, nor has any cited it since, but the speech Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán made before an annual picnic for his party’s intellectual leaders in the late summer of 2015 is probably the most important by a Western statesman this century. As Orbán spoke in the village of Kötcse, by Lake Balaton, hundreds of thousands of migrants from across the Muslim world, most of them young men, were marching northwestwards out of Asia Minor, across the Balkan countries and into the heart of Europe.

Already, mobs of migrants had broken Hungarian police lines, trampled cropland, occupied town squares, shut down highways, stormed trains, and massed in front of Budapest’s Keleti train station. German chancellor Angela Merkel had invited those fleeing the Syrian civil war to seek refuge in Europe. They had been joined en route, in at least equal number, by migrants from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. For Hungarians, this was playing with fire. They are taught in school to think of their Magyar ancestors as having ridden off the Asian steppes to put much of Europe to the torch (Attila is a popular boys’ name), and they themselves suffered centuries of subjugation under the Ottomans, who marched north on the same roads the Syrian refugees used in the internet age. But no one was supposed to bring up the past. Merkel and her defenders had raised the subject of human rights, which until then had been sufficient to stifle misgivings. In Kötcse, Orbán informed Merkel and the world that it no longer was.

3. Retired Supreme Court coot John Paul Stevens, author of a new memoir, gets roasted by Reason’s Damon Root for his persistence in defending the dreck majority opinion in the Kelo eminent domain ruling. Yeah, it got personal. From his piece:

John Paul Stevens has had it rough. In 2005, Stevens, then an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, authored one of the worst SCOTUS decisions of the past 50 years. Kelo v. City of New London let a local government bulldoze a working-class neighborhood so that private developers would have a blank slate on which to build a luxury hotel, a conference center, and various other upscale amenities. The city’s goal was to erase that existing community via eminent domain and replace it with a new commercial district that would (maybe? hopefully?) fill the local coffers with more abundant tax dollars.

Stevens, the poor soul, has been catching hell for this lousy ruling ever since. Kelo is “the most un-American thing that can be done,” declared Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, an outspoken liberal. Her ideological opposite, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, has said that Kelo “bastardized” the Constitution. “Government can kick the little guy out of his or her homes and sell those [homes] to a big developer,” Limbaugh objected. Hating Kelo would seem to be the one thing that can bring a divided America together.

In 2011, about a year after he retired from the Supreme Court, Stevens apparently grew tired of the controversy and decided to respond to his critics. “The Kelo majority opinion remains unpopular,” Stevens acknowledged in a speech at the University of Alabama School of Law. “Recently a commenter named Damon W. Root described the decision as the ’eminent domain debacle.” In my defense, I only described Kelo as an eminent debacle because that’s exactly what it is. The destructive ruling paved the way for atrocious real world consequences. It also further mangled the Takings Clause, which forbids the government from using eminent domain for anything less than a legitimate “public use,” a concept that has traditionally been understood to apply to things like roads or bridges—not to swanky redevelopment schemes run by for-profit enterprises. But that constitutional requirement was lost in the eyes of Stevens. “The disposition of this case,” he wrote in Kelo, “turns on the question whether the City’s development plan serves a ‘public purpose.'” Critics like Root, Stevens grumbled in 2011, “mis-described” the case.

4. Somebody send John Horvat a corn dog and a Slurpee. At The Imaginative Conservative, he makes the interesting case for the link (not sausage) between cultural decline and the lack of a true “national” food. It’s an interesting read that goes well with fried chicken or hot dogs. From the piece:

At the same time, I am thankful that American cooks are bringing this world to us. Indeed, they are even saving some of these pastas from extinction as Italian culture decays. We are fortunate that we have the opportunity to appreciate this great culture.

However, just having 500 different kinds of Italian pasta is not enough. We need to express and celebrate our culture.

So much of our cuisine involves enjoying other people’s culture. The restaurant scene is booming nationwide. Our globalized society allows us to experience an enormous and rich variety of truly delectable cuisines. However, so many have no connection with our heritage.

I acknowledge that some American places have excellent local cuisines. However, the cultures that sustain them are dying as in Italy. We are losing our connection with the roots of cuisine because our culture is shattered, fragmented, and undermined by globalization.

I long for an American cuisine that would express our regional cultures on the scale of Italian pasta. How wonderful it would be to have an amazing world of our own “pasta”—national and regional dishes with hundreds of variations—that would speak to us of ourselves and our lands. I would love to see very localized versions of these foods prepared in family homes and restaurants—to the extent that we might know where we are by tasting the different foods. We could then celebrate these great expressions of who we are.

5. From the New York Times, the obituary for George Kelling, who, with the late James Q. Wilson, authored the “broken windows” policing theory that, when implemented, lead to massive reductions in crime in American cities. R.I.P.

6. In the Palestinian Authority, the benefits package for murderers of Jews is trumping health care for the common man. At Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil reports on the hate-based standards. From the beginning of his piece:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided that Palestinians will no longer be able to receive medical treatment in Israel. Last March, the PA Ministry of Health in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, announced that it was halting medical transfers to Israeli hospitals and promised to find alternatives for Palestinian patients in private and government hospitals.

The PA says that it took the decision in response to the Israeli government’s deduction of payments the Palestinian government makes to families of security prisoners and “martyrs” from tax revenues the Israelis collect on behalf of the Palestinians.

A new Israeli law allows the government to impose financial sanctions on the PA for its “Pay for Slay” policy, which encourages terrorists to carry out attacks against Israelis because they know they and their families will be receiving salaries (from the PA government) for the rest of their lives.

One report estimated that the PA spent no less than 502 million shekels [USD $141 million; 126 million euros] of its 2018 budget on salaries and payments to terrorist prisoners and released inmates. At least 230 million shekels [$65 million; 58 million euros] were paid in salaries to terrorist prisoners, while another 176 million shekels [$48 million; 44 million euros] were paid in salaries to terrorists after they were released from prison, the report revealed. The remaining 96 million shekels [$27 million; 24 million euros] covers additional salary payments and other benefits to the terrorists and their families.


This week righthander Edwin Jackson took the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays, his 14th different team, setting a new major league record.

Back in the good old days, when there were but eight teams in each league, piling up numerous multiple-franchise experiences was obviously more difficult to pull off. Still, Yours Truly is prompted to search for someone who just might have played for all teams in one league. The results so far: The great Eddie Robinson, a four-time All Star first baseman, played for seven of the AL’s eight franchises from 1942 to 1957. He never got to take the field for the Red Sox. And Robinson is still kicking: The former general manager for the Texas Rangers will celebrate his 99th birthday in December.

Of course, Bobo Newsom would seem a likely suspect for the distinction, but he never played for the White Sox or Indians (he did pitch for the Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers, so . . . nine of the original 16). Bobo did have plenty of separate tours for the same teams: Twice for the As, three times for the Browns, and five times for the Senators.

A related oddity: Journeyman outfielder Elmer Valo, whose career began in 1940 with the Philadelphia As and ended in in 1961 with the Phillies, was part of three team relocations. He was with the As in 1954 (he pinch hit — a fly out — in the last As game played at Connie Mack Stadium, a 4–2 loss to the Yankees on September 19), and in 1955 he played for the Kansas City As’ first game (a 6–2 at-home win over Detroit on April 12 in which Valo, pinch-hitting, drew a walk with the bases loaded, breaking the 2–2 deadlock and driving in the game-winning run). He was the next-to-last Dodger to bat in that team’s final game (September 24, 1957) at Ebbets Field (he grounded out in the top of the 9th in a 2–0 win over the Pirates; Gil Hodges, the last Dodger to bat, struck out swinging), and then played in 65 games for the Dodgers in 1958 in their new home town of Los Angeles. Finally, Valo got a pinch-hit single for the original Washington Senators in the teams’ penultimate home game at Griffith Stadium, a 3–2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles; the next season saw the 40-year-old — now used as a pinch hitter — sporting the franchise’s new Minnesota Twins uniform.

Released mid-season, Valo signed on with the 47–107 Phillies as a free agent, and played in a dozen of the team’s MLB record-setting 23 straight losses (the first, a July 29 loss to the Giants, and the 23rd, a 5–2 loss to the Braves on August 20). During that span Valo was 0 for 12 in pinch-hitting appearances. Yikes.

By the way, Valo was involved in another cringe-worthy streak: Just before heading off for Army service in 1943, he played in the first two games of the Philadelphia As’ then-AL-record-tying 20 consecutive losses. But let’s end this on a happy note: Elmer has the MLB record for career walks as a pinch hitter (91)!

Vitamin Sea

Join us in August on the NR 2019 Canada / New England Conservative Cruise. Visit for complete details.

A Dios

Mickey the dog keeps having seizures (some, truly epic), despite all the meds, and when he starts, Mrs. Yours Truly will hold and comfort him, for long periods. Her compassion is complete and utter, almost unifying. There is a purity to it. It is hypnotic. This is recounted here not for sympathy about the pooch (a good boy, a little bit stonato, but then the brain is beaten up by the episodes), but to recognize the capacity we have for loving, even for a pup. Surely this is a reflection of, an echo of, God’s infinite and incomparable love. He comes to us in whispers (Kings: “. . . and after the fire a still small voice”) and even through a woman embracing and petting a troubled pup. All that rambled, do pet your pup if you have one. Or even a cat. And yes, Meredith, a gerbil.

God’s blessings and graces on you and yours, two- and four-legged,

Jack Fowler

Who will receive late-payment notices, motions to appear, and orders of protection at

National Review

You Better Remember Mama (and NR Too)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

For the record: Irene Dunne was a big fan of NR. A subscriber, she was on the sponsor committee of this esteemed institution’s Tenth Anniversary celebration in 1965. Trés coolio. She was nominated for five Academy Awards, all for Best Actress (alas, she never won). Dunne’s most beloved role (to many, including this fan) was in the 1948 classic I Remember Mama, as Marta Hanson, the matriarch of a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco at the turn of the century. It’s a warm and beautiful film, which TCM will be airing tomorrow (Mother’s Day) at 8 p.m. Eastern. Do watch if you have never seen it.

(Her most National Review–y film was Penny Serenade, written by the great Morrie Ryskind, who was an original editor of the magazine and helped Bill Buckley secure funding for its launch.)

’Tis a dangerous game, but if the dead could speak I would wager nonetheless that Subscriber and Supporter Irene (echoed by Editor Morrie) would be encouraging her fellow NR fans to be responsive to the current 2019 Spring Webathon, in which NR seeks to raise $175,000 (we’re not even a quarter of the way there!) to combat the growing popularity of Socialism.

I Remember . . . Ma(o)ma: Hey, you remember socialism, which is having renewed success wooing the young and witless, ignorant of the scores of millions this evil ideology has left dead (starved during the Holodomor, the Povolzhye famine, the Great Leap Forward — which claimed as many as 45 million Chinese!). And today, in plain sight, it has left once-prosperous Venezuela devastated and its people starving.

Socialism needs to be relentlessly countered. Exposed. Pummeled. Defenestrated. Starved, turnabout being fair play. We can do it. We have to do it! And by “we” I mean us and you: This requires your material help. Moolah. Boodle. Scratch. Loot. One donor to our webathon effort echoed our webathon’s primary contention: “The battle for individual freedom never ends.” We know that at NR. So do many of our readers. We are counting on those folks who recognize the seriousness of the task at hand to assist NR, so we can persist, by making a generous, selfless donation.

Mom said!

1. Outflanked politically, presidential wannabe Cory Booker rolls out an outlandish gun-control proposal that he hopes will win the hearts and minds of Democratic primary voters. We say he’s shooting blanks. From our editorial:

Having thus far failed to break through in the Democratic primary, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is seeking to gain an edge in the contest by advancing the most extreme package of gun-control proposals to be touted by any presidential aspirant in two decades. In addition to the usual laundry list — “universal” background checks, a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” the prohibition of standard-capacity magazines — Booker hopes to establish not only a federal registry of guns, but a federal registry of gun owners, too. Under the terms of Booker’s plan, Americans wishing to exercise their Second Amendment rights would have to apply to Washington for permission — not just once, but every five years — and to inform the executive branch of each weapon they own in their home. Exit, Spartacus; enter, Big Brother. As Orwell might have said: He who controls the records, controls the people.

As anyone who has watched the Venezuelan government’s recent confiscation drive can attest, registries of guns and of the people who own them are dangerous and illiberal per se, which is one reason that they remain illegal under federal law. It should be spectacularly obvious that a registry of firearms and their owners is, in effect, a giant map that can be used by its keeper to locate who is armed and how, and, thus, to make their disarmament possible. If that sounds alarmist, look no further than to Senator Booker himself, who continues to argue that the government should use the “terror watch list” — that is, the sprawling, error-ridden list of mostly innocent people that the federal government keeps in secret — to disarm “suspicious” Americans who have been accused, charged, or convicted of no crimes whatsoever. Edmund Burke once wrote that Americans were unique among the people of the world in that they did not wait for an “actual grievance” but instead “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Once again, that tainted breeze has arrived.

2. Jerry Nadler, the Florenz Ziegfeld of the Theater of the Political Absurd, has declared a constitutional crisis. We believe something, or someone, should be declared. From our editorial:

Nothing in the regulations required Attorney General Bill Barr to release any of the report, let alone release it in its entirety. He did anyway with minimal, entirely defensible redactions that the DOJ worked through with Mueller. He then testified for hours in public before a Senate committee about his handling of the report, while declining to appear for more voluntary testimony before a House committee the next day over a process issue (the committee wanted a counsel to question Barr; the attorney general objected, likely because he didn’t like the optics).

Collectively, then, and often working at cross-purposes, the Trump administration has done Congress an enormous favor the last two years. It appointed a special counsel; not only let him finish his work, but cooperated with him (despite Trump’s ineffectual scheming against the investigation); didn’t object to his writing a narrative for public and especially congressional consumption; and with only a brief delay handed the full report, signed, sealed, and delivered, over to Congress to potentially to use as a roadmap for impeachment. (And, oh yeah, the report has been published as a book and is being sold on Amazon.) Most of Jerry Nadler’s work has been done for him.

For the New York Democrat to turn around and have his committee vote to hold Bill Barr in contempt is truly bizarre. Barr’s alleged offense is the redactions. But he has made an almost entirely un-redacted report available to top Democrats to review. They have refused to do so, boycotting the further information that they say they so desperately need.

A Dozen Roses of Wisdom (Another Dumb Flower Analogy) from the Bouquet of Conservatism (Ouch!) We Have for Moms and All Others
1. Andy McCarthy nails it: The Left and its bureaucratic allies are continuing to elevate this smear as an acceptable practice of “justice,” presumption of innocence be damned. From the beginning of his piece:

In gross violation of Justice Department policy and constitutional norms, a prosecutor neither charges nor recommends charges against a suspect, but proceeds to smear him by publishing 200 pages of obstruction allegations. Asked to explain why he did it, the prosecutor says he was just trying to protect the suspect from being smeared.

This is the upshot of the Mueller report’s Volume II. It might be thought campy if the suspect weren’t the president of the United States and the stakes weren’t so high.

The smear-but-don’t-charge outcome is the result of two wrongs: (1) Mueller’s dizzying application of Justice Department guidance, written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), holding that a president may not be indicted while he is in office; and (2) the media-Democrat complex’s demand that only laws they like — those that serve their anti-Trump political purposes — be enforced.

2. More Andy, this time on the FBI’s use of false pretenses to launch the entire collusion shebang. From his analysis:

As I have previously detailed, after the hacked DNC emails were published, Steele (whose sources had not foretold the hacking by Russia or publication by WikiLeaks) simply folded this event into his preexisting narrative of a Trump–Russia conspiracy.

Prior to early July, when the FBI began receiving Steele-dossier reports (which the State Department would also soon receive), the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, under the direction of its hyperpolitical director, John Brennan — had been theorizing that the Trump campaign was in a corrupt relationship with Russia. Thanks to the Steele dossier, even before Downer reported his conversation with Papadopoulos to the State Department, the Obama administration had already been operating on the theory that Russia was planning to assist the Trump campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Clinton. They had already conveniently fit the hacked DNC emails into this theory.

Downer’s report enabled the Obama administration to cover an investigative theory it was already pursuing with a report from a friendly foreign government, as if that report had triggered the Trump-Russia investigation. In order to pull that off, however, it was necessary to distort what Papadopoulos had told Downer.

3. Department of Piehole-Shutting: Rich Lowry claims that we have heard enough already from Robert Mueller, who continues to trash the doctrine of innocence until proven guilty. From his column:

On obstruction, Mueller reached no such decision, and he didn’t write a confidential report, either — his report was clearly meant for public consumption. Besides that, he’s a stickler for the rules.

“Mueller’s action,” Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School writes at the website Lawfare, “seems inconsistent with what the regulations tried to accomplish, which was to prevent extra-prosecutorial editorializing.”

Worse, as Trump’s special counsel Emmet Flood set out in an excoriating letter, by stipulating that the evidence prevented him “from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred,” Mueller stood the presumption of innocence on its head.

By Mueller’s standard, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove guilt — the target has to prove innocence. And if the target doesn’t, he will be disparaged in a long-form quasi-indictment spelling out why he’s not exonerated.

If anyone not named Donald J. Trump were subjected to this new prosecutorial standard, it would occasion widespread comment and — one hopes — consternation.

4. David French says that the AG is being persecuted by Democrats. From his piece:

This isn’t a “constitutional crisis.” It’s standard legal sparring that is amply grounded in past precedent and past practice. It would be unlawful for the attorney general to provide Congress with protected grand-jury information. It would be similarly unlawful for the attorney general to provide information subject to validly asserted claims of executive privilege. It would be reckless and irresponsible for Congress to continue to demand wide dissemination of at least some of the classified information in the report and the supporting evidence and at least some of the information and supporting evidence that bears directly on ongoing investigations.

So, if we’re witnessing standard negotiations between Congress and the Department of Justice and standard, competing legal assertions, then why the overheated rhetoric? Why the claims that the “crisis is here.” Aside from the fact that we live in an overheated age, we cannot separate the current proceedings from the lingering fury generated by Barr’s initial rollout of the Mueller report. Democrats are livid that he created his own summary of the report rather than reproducing some version of Mueller’s summaries, and they’re livid that he and Rod Rosenstein issued their own legal opinion that Trump did not obstruct justice.

5. Jim Geraghty fingers five fruitcake pieces of legislation your Friendly Neighborhood Socialist Congressman has drafted to plunder the treasury and make a far less perfect union. From his analysis:

Finally, over in the House, Democrat Frederica Wilson of Florida introduced the Jobs Now Act of 2019, which is interested in creating only one kind of employment: government jobs. Her bill would authorize $1 billion in new spending to be directed to “local government or community-based organizations” to “retain, employ, or train employees providing a public service for a unit of general local government.” Why require localities to come up with the funding for their own government programs and employees, when Washington can send a check? The text of the legislation specifically states that more than half of the grants must be used to “retain employees who are providing a public service and who would otherwise be laid off as a consequence of budget cuts.” The grants would be a get-out-of-consequences-free card for local lawmakers who have chosen to spend more than their tax revenues can cover and more than their local taxpayers are willing to pay.

6. Kevin Williamson gives a refresher course on federalism. From his piece:

The president represents, in theory, some 327 million Americans. Because there is so much lumped into the presidency, it is very difficult to keep presidents democratically accountable. Consider that, for the moment, purely as a technical issue. A member of the House of Representatives typically represents about 747,000 people, not 327 million. (Because of vagaries in the census and single-member states, there is some variation at the extremes: Montana has nearly 1 million in its lone House district, whereas Rhode Island has about 528,000 in its.) If you are one of 747,000, you have a better chance of making your voice heard than if you are one of 327 million. Even better, a member of the New York state legislature represents about 128,000. A member of the Nebraska state legislature represents about 38,000. A representative can get to know and understand a community of 38,000. He is not alien from them, a remote power in a remote place — he is their neighbor.

If the real power in this country rested where it should — with the state legislatures — the political scene would be radically different. A world in which most of the laws that affect your life, most of the taxes you pay, and most of your interactions with the state are overseen by a representative personally known to you is very different from the scene in Washington, that Roman triumph as imagined by P. T. Barnum. If the state legislatures had the sort of power over the Senate and the presidency that they were intended to, ordinary citizens would in practice have more access to political influence rather than less, even though it would be mediated by state-level officials. The direct election of senators creates the illusion of powerful participation, as would the direct election of presidents (and as does the quasi-direct presidential elections we have today). But in important ways, those elections leave people farther from the relevant centers of power — literally. More than half of all Americans have visited only ten states or fewer, and many of them will never set foot in Washington, D.C.

7. More KDW: He lowers the boom on one of the more colossal political jerks of our time: Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims, a terminology junkie. From the article:

How to explain Brian Sims? None of the three most likely possibilities — that he is not very bright, that he is insane, that he is a fanatic — speaks very well of the Pennsylvania state representative, who for some reason decided to accost an elderly woman praying silently in front of an abortion facility, to film the attack, and then to boast about it on Twitter.

It is tempting to lean toward stupidity as an explanation for Sims’s shenanigans, if only because that is the most statistically likely scenario when the subject in question is a member of the Pennsylvania state legislature, as witless a collection of moldering goofs and ravening mediocrities as you will find in any of our state capitals.

But let’s not give short shrift to the insanity option. Sims — who holds elected office and previously worked for the Philadelphia Bar Association — offered a cash bounty to his social-media followers for identifying information with which to “dox” three teenage girls who were praying outside the same clinic. Mentally normal adult men do not go around photographing teenaged girls and then trolling for their names on social media in order to facilitate harassing them. Generally speaking, adult men who go around taking photographs of teenaged girls are considered creeps; Representative Sims is a homosexual, which may spare him the charge of lechery in this matter, but his behavior is still pretty weird.

RELATED: Forthcoming NRI Buckley Journalism fellow John Hirschauer describes how the big leftist creep portrayed himself as courageous while bullying the little lady fingering her rosaries. Read his account here.

8. The Left is ramping up its anti-Semitism, cloaked as support for Palestinians. Victor Davis Hanson calls out the progressives. From his piece:

The examples of progressive hatred of Jews could be multiplied endlessly, but the key question is: Why in this generation and why on the Democratic left?

There, are of course, always white nationalists who voice reactionary anti-Semitism, but most are pathetic fringe groups easily identified and ostracized. For all the invective lodged against Donald Trump, no president has proved more sensitive to Jewish issues and more committed to the survival of Israel. The anti-Semitic extreme alt-right has received no sanction from the Republican party, and it remains a tiny, mostly irrelevant group of losers. In contrast, progressive Jew-hatred is expressed at the nation’s premier institutions, such as UC Berkeley, the New York Times, and the U.S. Congress. Again, why?

The far Left is intertwined with Islamist activists. Both share a hatred of the U.S. and see the Middle East as a postcolonial victim of Western imperialism. Students and urban youth bond with radical Islamists in their shared dislike of the Western countries (such as Israel) in general and the United States in particular.

RELATED: Florida senator Rick Scott zings his intolerant congressional colleagues, who are strangely tolerant when it comes to anti-Semitic Members. Read his piece.

9. David French defends Israel’s right to counterattack Hamas, despite its nefarious tactics, which include putting the local population at risk. From his analysis:

Second, a terrorist army cannot lawfully protect itself from destruction by blending in with civilian populations, fighting from civilian structures, or using civilians as human shields. As the Department of Defense’s Law of War Manual states, the principle of distinction “enjoins the party controlling the population to use its best efforts to distinguish or separate its military forces and war-making activities from members of the civilian population to the maximum extent feasible so that civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects incidental to attacks on military objectives will be minimized as much as possible.”

This means physically separating military and civilian facilities. This means using uniforms, markings, and other measures to make sure that military forces and civilians are “visually distinguished from one another.” And this means refraining from using “protected persons and objects” — civilians or civilian structures — “to shield military objectives.”

Hamas violates every single one of these commands. It uses civilian facilities for military purposes, it tries to blend in with the civilian population, and it uses civilians as human shields. This is crucial — under the law of war none of these things in any way limit Israel’s right to defend itself. So long as Israel otherwise complies with the laws of war, the resulting civilian casualties and damages to civilian structures are Hamas’s moral and legal responsibility. It’s that simple.

10. The once-never-uttered “F-Bomb” has become ubiquitous. Heather Wilhelm asks, what the . . . heck?! From her piece:

In many ways, words can shape our very perception of reality. Edward Sapir, who helped develop the hypothesis of linguistic relativity in the 1930s, put it this way: “Human beings . . . are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. . . . The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group.”

It’s a radical idea, but what if it contains a grain of truth? What does our society’s thunderstorm of public F-bombs do to our greater sensibility, cultural or otherwise? When the worst swear word becomes commonplace, what do we use to describe the truly horrific? What happened to mystery and subtlety? For that matter, what happened to the fashion sense of people who regularly sport shirts that evoke memories of the early routines of Andrew Dice Clay?

It is no surprise, I suppose, that the F-bomb has become ubiquitous as our culture’s exhibitionism has gotten out of control. But here we can draw at least one consolation: Back at the Friars Club in the Sixties, the F-word was shocking and rare, at least when uttered in public. Today, it’s emblazoned in insouciant acronyms on the packaging of mass-produced Burger King meals.

11. A brilliant explanation (IMHO) of the driving forces that have created our current political alignments. Michael Brendan Dougherty sees friendship, or at least alliances, coming courtesy of the enemy of enemies. From his piece:

James Burnham, one of the great pillars of National Review’s early years, theorized that liberty emerges in a society only when there is a conflict within the elite. In his book The Machiavellians, he wrote:

No theory, no promises, no morality, no amount of good will, no religion will restrain power. Neither priests nor soldiers, neither labor leader nor businessmen, neither bureaucrats nor feudal lords will differ from each other in the basic use which they will seek to make of power. . . . Only power restrains power. . . . When all opposition is destroyed, there is no longer any limit to what power may do. A despotism, any kind of despotism, can be benevolent only by accident.

Heading into the next election, one of Republicans’ great strengths is that their voters seem to have imbibed Burnham’s dark vision of how power and liberty are related. These voters are willing to produce a united Republican government — across all three formal branches — because they sense that Democratic control will create a consensus between the state and our modern clerical class. One could say that voters choose Republicans because they are for the separation of church and state.

This modern clerical class is not actually composed of the ordained ministers of what’s left of the Christian church. It is made up of corporate boards, much of the media, and academia. It has its communions in ideas summits, and its occasional witch-burnings in social media. There is in the written Constitution a formal prohibition against the establishment of traditional religions. But this new clerical class understands that unprovable assertions about human nature and human society can be established, so long as they trade under the name of equality.

12. “Race norming” protocols are being used to populate magnet schools in suburban Maryland, writes Mike Gonzalez, and Asian-Americans are now getting noticeably short-changed for admissions. From the beginning of his piece:

Is a public school system in a leafy county straddling the Capital Beltway discriminating against Asian Americans? The feds next door are investigating in a case with national implications, and with good reason: The type of racial balancing that Montgomery County Public Schools is using may well be illegal.

No one questions that the changes MCPS put into effect in 2016 have led to a sharp decline in Asian-American admissions to a middle-school magnet program. In 2016–2017 the drop was 23 percent; the following year it was 20 percent. The numbers for whites, Hispanics, and blacks went up. That in itself should satisfy those who always insist that policies that have a disparate impact on members of an identity group are suspect per se, and need to be reassessed.

And these students and their parents, with the help of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, have something more substantial than mere impact on their side. Though the district insists its new approach to admissions is color-blind, there is considerable evidence that the effort was in reality an attempt at “race norming,” which is unfair and illegal.

BONUS: Hollywood kowtows to Red China, which in all its nefariousness seems to never be cast in a bad-guy role in fare on the big and little (except for Bosch) screens. This is a terrific analysis by Michael Auslin. From the piece:

Even today, films and novels about evil Nazis, menacing Soviets, and perfidious Japanese are staples of popular culture. Think of The Man in the High Tower or Red Sparrow, neither of which plumb particularly deeply into the psyche of totalitarianism or the dark world of espionage. Yet in the 75 years since Adolf Hitler took the coward’s way out in his dank Berlin bunker, Nazis have never left our consciousness. And while sympathy for elements of the Soviet Union always tinged the perception of America’s elite, the Commies continue to receive a well-deserved bashing.

Beijing, however, has used its growing economic power to shape global public opinion through sophisticated propaganda operations and the blunt use of financial clout. Much of the work of scrubbing anti-Chinese images is done through the coordinating activities of the United Front Work Department. The department, which originated in the early 1940s and was revived in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping, reports directly to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is charged with building support for the CCP and by extension for China as a whole. Overseas Chinese communities, foreign journalists, and Chinese students and professors studying overseas are all targets of the United Front. It attempts to influence or even coerce them into promoting positive images of China and the Party, or to self-censor criticism. The role of state-funded Confucius Institutes in blocking criticism of China on U.S. and foreign university campuses is finally getting attention from Congress and security agencies.

1. Belly up to the Barr: On the new episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, David, and Luke discuss the ridiculous clamor surrounding Bill Barr, the uproar over Trump’s taxes, and legalities around a social media crackdown. Strap on the headphones and get the wisdom here.

2. Assistant / Galley Slave Jack joins his boss on The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg to discuss rank punditry on Bill Barr, the Democratic field, and rank and pop-culture punditry on Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones. Catch the new episode here.

3. On the new episode of on The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the possibility of Bill Barr being held in contempt, Robert Mueller’s reliance on the OLC guidance, and much more. Hear it here.

4. Even though it’s a play, King John, by one William Shakespeare, is the subject tackled by John J. Miller and Khalil Habib on the new episode of The Great Books. Prithee, uncle, get thee to thine earphones and heareth.

5. More JJM: He’s joined by Randy Boyagoda, the author of Original Prin, on the new episode of The Bookmonger. Catch it here.

6. On the new episode of Ordered Liberty, David and Alexandra take a look at the Democrats’ attacks on Bill Barr, give quick thoughts about Trump’s finances, ask the question, “If an unborn baby isn’t a human being, what is it?” and finish by exploring why Alexandra was tempted to sign a petition condemning David. Make way, wax: listen up here.

Lights. Cameras. Critics.
1. Kyle Smith likes Tolkien. But let’s not overdo it. From his review:

Filmed in the golden hues of fond memory, Tolkien, directed by Finland’s Dome Karukoski, is a pleasing if somewhat routine bildungsroman about the disturbingly Dickensian youth and happily Dickensian rise of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. The future novelist’s father died when he was a small child, and his mother when he was a teen. He and his brother Hilary were cast into a small group home, where young Ronald (sometimes known as John Ronald) meets a slightly older fellow orphan, Edith, at the piano. (At first she seems straight out of Great Expectations; even her name recalls that novel’s Estella.) Nicholas Hoult ably portrays the adult Ronald, albeit with sufficient English reserve that will make it challenging for moviegoers to warm to him, much less fall in love with him.

It’s taken for granted that we’re here for a bit of insight into The Lord of the Rings, but as with other movies about writers, Tolkien runs into the problem of how to translate into cinematic language the process of sitting at a desk and thinking. And as with other movies about writers, it relies heavily on “Here’s where he got the idea for that” moments. On the Somme, we’re meant to think, as Ronald surveys the wreckage of the battlefield: So this is where Mordor came from. This sort of thinking is reductionist and unfair to the work that goes into creating a novel, though, and much more so for one as huge as Tolkien’s quadrilogy. Millions of men fought in France but only one of them wrote The Lord of the Rings. Ultimately a film about imagination is likely to be frustrating if it sticks to approaching writers as being merely clever about observing and reappropriating elements from what they see around them rather than creating out of nothing.

2. Armond catches the French flick, Olivier Assayas’s Non-Fiction, and sees a lot of vapid MSM heinie-smoochery. Yuck. From the review:

Non-Fiction observes ruthless publishing-industry types. Editor Alain Danielson (Guillaume Canet) resents writer Léonard Spiegel (Vincent Macaigne) for intellectual differences and for having an ongoing affair with Alain’s actress wife, Selena (Juliette Binoche). Alain’s dalliance with bisexual digital techie Laure d’Angerville (Christa Théret) parallels the same envy and deceit. The French tradition of moral relativism echoes the current crisis in which personal satisfaction contradicts our purported principles — that is, how Millennials lie to themselves.

Given this theme, Non-Fiction is neither a fun sex farce, nor a serious one like Max Ophuls’s 1950 classic La Ronde or Whit Stillman’s 1998 The Last Days of Disco (in both films, STDs showed the price paid for communicable immorality). Non-Fiction’s celebration of dishonesty is compounded by IFC, the film’s American distributor, whose changed title for the film overlooks the hypocrisy implied by the film’s original French title: Doubles vies (Double Lives).

3. Professor Joseph Loconte knows a thing or two about Tolkien, and having seen Tolkien, well, let’s just say he found the movie wanting. From the review:

It is refreshing to see a film that takes up the theme of friendship, especially robust male friendship, which was so vital to Tolkien’s life and career. Tolkien (capably played by Nicholas Hoult) establishes a rich circle of friendships at the King Edward’s School in Birmingham. Together with Geoffrey Bache Smith, Christopher Wiseman, and Robert Gilson, the boys fashion a literary-artistic club with no mean purpose: to change the world.

Yet the film devotes more time to idle bantering and boozing than it does to the group’s literary and moral purposes. It also overlooks a crucial exchange: a meeting in December 1914, dubbed “the Council of London,” which was transformative for Tolkien. “In fact it was a council of life,” writes John Garth, author of the magisterial Tolkien and the Great War. The prospect of the trenches had a sobering effect. Late into the night they talked and debated — about love, literature, patriotism, and religion. It was at this moment, and among this fellowship, that Tolkien began to sense his literary calling. “For Tolkien, the weekend was a revelation,” Garth concludes, “and he came to regard it as a turning point in his creative life.”

If the film’s writers wanted to depict such a revelatory scene — which they don’t — it would have required familiarity with an ancient source of wisdom. We no longer appreciate how the educated classes of Tolkien’s generation were schooled in the classical and medieval literary traditions. From works such as Virgil’s Aeneid, Tolkien not only read the mythic and violent story of Rome’s beginnings, but also absorbed the concept of the noble and sacrificial quest. Indeed, probably the most influential work in Tolkien’s professional life was Beowulf, which he read as a young man and considered one of the greatest poems of English literature. Declares its epic hero: “Fate oft saveth a man not doomed to die, when his valour fails not.” Tolkien taught, translated, and studied the poem throughout his career.

4. More Armond and more Tolkien: He finds it pretentious and banal. From his review:

Most bio-pics that depict how famous people achieved success are sold as inspirational, but Tolkien avoids that cliché for another: It urges filmgoers to see Tolkien’s experiences (and perhaps their own) as the source for self-mythologizing flights of whimsy. His life is a mere pretext for transforming history into unreality.

The historical details of Tolkien’s poverty, social and religious influence, individual ambition, and military service during World War I are blended into evocations of Peter Jackson imagery. Finnish director Dome Karukoski and cinematographer Lasse Frank Johannessen are not fantasists, but they work in the deluxe mode of BBC realism that used to be identified with Miramax-style Anglophilia, a distinct brand of pretentious cultural fantasy. It set the fashion for indie-movie dogma that can be seen in the ways that Tolkien follows a liberal agenda: His private imagination is unrelated to any specific belief system; Edith Bratt (Lily Collins), the boarding house occupant he loves, is a budding feminist; and his Platonic friendship with Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle) indicates open-minded sexual solidarity.

It’s all analogous to the Peter Jackson franchise, making each person a stand-in for Ring figures that fans can identify: Tolkien himself is a surrogate for Bilbo Baggins and Aragorn; Bratt, for Arwen; and Smith, for Sam. That fantasy world closes in on itself, but there’s something worse than this pop cannibalization: Tolkien’s near-death WWI experiences in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme structure the film’s flashbacks and flashforwards that subordinate everything to Ring legend. Giving priority to Peter Jackson’s blockbuster doesn’t make what Tolkien lived through profound; it distorts historical and cultural reality. On the battlefield, he envisions fire-breathing dragons as if emphasis on fantasy outweighed the experience of war itself.

5. Kyle explains why the world loves the Avengers. It’s got to do with loving America. From his essay:

Polls designed to reassure American progressives, in times of Republican presidencies, that “our image is suffering irreparable harm overseas” are really just measuring opinions about our national leadership, not our American nature. That essence doesn’t fluctuate with U.S. presidential results. It remains consistently impressive worldwide: Others admire our swagger, our friendliness, our purchasing power. During a period of what American liberals imagined must have been a difficult time for an American to be in France, I spent a lot of time in that country in the years following 9/11 and during the Iraq War and never experienced even the slightest hint of anti-American sentiment. If you want bitter animosity toward America, head for an American college campus, not France. For all of the Left’s yelping back home about anti-French propaganda and those fabled “freedom fries,” what gravely concerned the French was not Washington’s diplomatic problems with Paris but the steep drop-off in tourism after 9/11. The French love America because we come and spend our dollars there. America’s post-9/11 funk was their funk. When America sneezes, the world catches cold. The world is rooting for us.

Which brings me to The Avengers: Endgame, the world’s new favorite movie. It’s about to break the record for worldwide box-office gross (in nominal dollars, at least). The traits of the superhero all-star team are unmistakably American: Iron Man embodies America’s tech dynamism and Silicon Valley arrogance, Doctor Strange is the emblem of our amazing medical advances, and Black Panther personifies America’s long, fraught history of race animosity turned proud multiculturalism. When Tony Stark has some rude thoughts about Captain America’s derriere, Scott Lang corrects him: “As far as I’m concerned, that’s America’s ass.” Just so. Captain America has America’s ass. He’s also got America’s heart and his brawn, his impossible boy-scout goodness. What other country could give the world an equivalent to Captain America? Captain Ecuador? Captain Russia? Captain Azerbaijan? To a certain extent, James Bond is Captain England, but that example highlights the differences, doesn’t it? 007 is not a crusading knight. He is a cynic, not a choirboy. Bond is to Captain America what Humphrey Bogart is to James Stewart.

The Hulk, meanwhile, bears comparison to American foreign policy: Emotions can get the better of him. He doesn’t always think things through. When the Hulk does a lot of damage, though, it’s in the service of doing what’s right. He is a bit sloppy but he is also benevolent. You want him to be on your side, not to go away. The world would be less safe without him.

Eye Candy
1. In the new “Five Points” video, Rich Lowry explains the ridiculousness of the #AntiBarr campaign. Watch it here.

2. Seems like Columbia University has put on a play: There are character roles for Latinos and Palestinians, whites were cast for those roles, no Palestinians tried out . . . and snowflake outrage ensued. Kat Timpf calls them out. Watch it here.

3. Alexandra DeSanctis provides four arguments as to why your tax dollars shouldn’t go to Planned Parenthood. Watch the video.

4. More Kat: She hails the idea of kids running lemonade stands, without needing a government license to do so. Watch her video.

5. From Reason, I recommend this exceptional, award-winning video, which profiles the insane (or, evil) efforts by San Francisco’s lefty politicians to deprive people of their property rights. Watch it here.

The Six
1. Daniel Mahoney pens a brilliant Modern Age essay reflecting on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s writings — in The Gulag Archipelago — about politics the ascent of the soul. From the essay:

In the end, Solzhenitsyn brings together two imperatives: that of moral self-limitation and that of humane self-government. Unlike Tolstoy, who lived in a comparatively free country in the last periods of tsarist rule, Solzhenitsyn did not believe that “only moral self-improvement was necessary.” As he argues in volume 3, part 1, chapter 4 of The Gulag Archipelago, for beings with bodies as well as souls, political liberty matters, too. It is not the ultimate meaning of human existence, but it is “the first step,” a crucial prerequisite for avoiding a fundamental assault on the dignity of human persons. Without political liberty, human beings cannot breathe freely, nor can they exercise the arts of intelligence (and moral judgment) that are at the heart of our humanity.

In the last twenty-five years of his life, Solzhenitsyn became an eloquent partisan of democratic self-government, especially at the local level. He thought it indispensable for developing the civic and moral virtues of a free people. He did not want Russia simply to copy Western democracy, especially in its decayed, relativistic, late-modern forms. But he admired the cantonal and local liberties he saw at work in Switzerland and Vermont during his twenty years of Western exile. In his memoir of his years in the West, Between Two Millstones, Solzhenitsyn provides a moving description of the vigorous and morally serious self-government he saw at work in the Swiss Catholic half-canton of Appenzell in April 1975. It might be said that he admired the hardy “republican” spirit that he saw at work there. This kind of democracy “filled him with respect,” and he hoped it could provide an inspiration for the renewal of local and provincial civic forms in Russia itself. Solzhenitsyn also strikingly noted that the Swiss Confederation is the oldest extant democracy on earth, dating from 1291, and that “it did not spring from the ideas of the Enlightenment, but directly from ancient forms of political life.” Unlike left-liberals in the West, Solzhenitsyn does not identify self-government, or political democracy, exclusively with the philosophy of the Enlightenment.

2. In the new issue of Claremont Review of Books, Joseph Epstein catalogs the march of political correctness’s menace in American culture. From the essay:

If political correctness had stopped at the request for civil behavior, there would have been no difficulty in acceding to it. If homosexual men wish to be called “gay,” if blacks wish to be called “African-American,” if women prefer “Ms.” over “Mrs.” and “Miss,” there would be no problem whatsoever. But the program inherent in political correctness has evolved into something much more ambitious than that. In its current phase, it is revolutionary, seeking a utopia of complete fairness in all institutions—educational, cultural, political—which in its advocates’ interpretation means utter equality for all, excluding only those who violate political correctness’s underlying assumptions and well-known restrictions.

Political correctness attacks all that it finds discriminatory in public and social life. Any perceived discrimination against women, African Americans, or other victim groups is no longer to be tolerated. Nor, of course, should it be, but under the attack of political correctness more than mere discrimination is under attack. The least perceived differences between individuals and groups, whether inherent or acquired through upbringing, are for now to be ignored in order that they may ultimately be eradicated. Political correctness doesn’t allow leeway for differences in intelligence, talent, or strength. Not equal opportunities but equal outcomes are its monomaniacal goal, and it is not overly concerned about the punishing means required to achieve it.

3. At The Federalist, Ben Weingarten draws attention to the new documentary, “One Child Nation,” on the unspeakable barbarity of Red China’s butchering, murderous family-planning program. From his piece:

Students of history right up to present-day Venezuela know that economic central planning inevitably results in poverty and misery. A harrowing new documentary on China’s one-child policy shows that this rule holds true for familial central planning as well — but in the case of parents and their children, the devastation extends far beyond the material to the moral and spiritual realm. “One Child Nation,” a Sundance-winning film coming to select theaters this summer, asks us to stare this man-caused disaster in the face before the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) whitewashes it away.

The film is the work of two Chinese filmmakers, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, who were born in the 1980s near the dawn of the policy. “One Child Nation” is a story of life and loss, brainwashing and corruption, and man’s capacity to engage in unimaginable cruelty at the point of a government gun. It is a story in which human traffickers represent some of the only protagonists, saving the lives of babies otherwise left for dead in marketplaces and on roadsides, lest their parents face the wrath of the authorities.

4. At Gatestone Institute, Alan Dershowitz lays into Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her victim-blaming response to Hamas attacks on Israel. From his piece:

These deaths and injuries were caused by the tactic employed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad: they deliberately place their rocket launchers in densely populated areas — near schools, hospitals and mosques — in a deliberate effort to maximize Arab civilian casualties. This has been called “the dead baby” or “CNN” strategy. The goal is to have CNN and other media show the children and other civilians that Israeli counter-measures have inadvertently killed in trying to stop the terrorist rockets from killing Israeli children and other civilians.

Tragically, this strategy works, because with the media, “if it bleeds, it leads.” The visual media loves to show dead and injured children, without explaining that they are actually encouraging such casualties by playing into the hands of the terrorists.

So, too, is Congresswoman Ilhan Omar encouraging the firing of rockets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad by blaming the Israeli victims for what she calls the “cycle of violence,” instead of blaming Hamas and Islamic Jihad for initiating terrorist violence against innocent Israeli civilians.

In a tweet following the rocket barrage, Omar justifies the double war crimes committed by terrorists who target Israeli civilians while using Palestinian civilians as human shields. She asks rhetorically, how many “rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?” This implies that these war crimes are justified by what she calls the “occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

5. The College Fix’s Graham Piro assembles an expansive list of colleges which have taken down artwork and statues lest they melt snowflakes. From his article:

But beyond Confederate controversies, two consistent themes concern the depiction of African Americans and Native Americans, and how prominent figures in American history are portrayed.

Notre Dame recently made headlines for the school’s decision to cover up murals of Christopher Columbus on campus. The movement to get the murals covered began in earnest in 2017, when more than 340 members of the school’s community signed a letter asking the university’s president Rev. John Jenkins to censor the murals. Jenkins agreed.

“Whatever else Columbus’s arrival brought, for these peoples it led to exploitation, expropriation of land, repression of vibrant cultures, enslavement, and new diseases causing epidemics that killed millions,” Jenkins said of Columbus’s legacy, adding that the explorer’s arrival was a catastrophe for native people.

Pepperdine University removed a statue of Columbus in early 2017 in the face of calls to remove the explorer from campus. As a compromise, the school said that the statue would be moved to the school’s campus in Florence, Italy. Despite multiple inquiries by The College Fix, university officials refuse to say whether the statue has been set up, as promised, at its new location. For now, the statue looks like it’s been wiped off the map.

6. At Commentary, Christine Rosen delves into women’s sports getting . . . neutered? . . . by de facto, testosterone-fortified men competing (and winning, bigly). From her report:

And they are dominating their chosen sport. The same week the court ruled against Semenya, a trans woman in the U.S. named Mary Gregory broke records for women’s deadlift, bench press, and squat, as well as scoring a Masters world total record in powerlifting. As former Olympic athlete Sharron Davis tweeted, “This is a trans woman a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete . . . it’s a pointless unfair playing field.”

In Connecticut, as the Daily Signal’s Kelsey Bolar found, born-female athletes in high school are losing competitive spots (and college scholarship opportunities) to trans women. The state is one of 17 that allow trans women to compete against biologically female athletes. The first and second place winners of Connecticut’s statewide indoor track championships last year (who went on to compete in the New England regional competition) were both trans women, and their victories cost two born-female athletes a slot at the regional competition.

One athlete willing to criticize Connecticut’s new reality told Bolar that, even though many female athletes and their parents are upset that born-male athletes are being allowed to compete against women, “Everyone is afraid of retaliation from the media, from the kids around their school, from other athletes, coaches, schools, administrators.” The athlete continued: “They don’t want to draw attention to themselves, and they don’t want to be seen as a target for potential bullying and threats.” It’s a realistic (if disheartening) concern, as tennis legend Martina Navratilova discovered when she challenged trans orthodoxy on female sports. The impact on female athletics of the Democratic-sponsored Equality Act, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, became a flashpoint during hearings about the bill in April.

We note today, especially today, two professionals. One from ancient days: Mother Watson. His real name was “Walter L. Watson,” and in 1887 he appeared in three games for the second-place Cincinnati Red Stockings in ye olde America Association. Mother pitched in two of those games, stinking up the joint by giving up 18 runs (9 earned) in 14 innings. He left the Big Leagues for good, after one stint in the outfield, with an 0–1 record and a .125 batting average. Mother died on Election Day in 1898: Shot dead in a barroom brawl, he was only 33. Why “Mother?” The definitive explanation is lost, but some say it had to do with him being virtuous — which doesn’t mesh too well with Watson’s place and manner of expiration.

Not a Mother, but a mother’s mother: We also take note of Johnny “Grandma” Murphy, the Bronx-born three-time All Star who was one of the MLB’s first acknowledged ace relievers. Murphy led the AL in saves four times, and compiled a career 93–53 record, playing 12 of his 13 seasons for the Yankees (his last turn was in 1948 with the Red Sox). Murphy appeared in six World Series for the Yanks — they won every one (Grandma was 2–0 with four saves and a 1.10 ERA in eight Fall Classic appearances). He died of a heart attack in 1970, months after his Amazing Mets (he became the team’s GM in 1967) famously won the World Series. As for the nickname: Grandma’s teammates said the fastidious hurler constantly complained like an old lady.

A Dios
Should I repeat what I did last year — acknowledge that my dear mother has, in Yours Truly, a terrible son? Even though that is true, some tipped-off relation intensely agreed that indeed I was a terrible son, but that my admission of such was insufficient of said terribleness. Would it matter if I acknowledged I am in fact a terribly terrible son? Consider it done! Not that a fire and brimstone email won’t arrive.

Regardless, love you mom, thanks for having me, for your prayers (daily communicant!), for loving me, and even more so, loving Mrs. Yours Truly and our children. And thanks especially for being there that time #5 made his final weeks in utero a thriller. God bless all mothers, biological, spiritual, adoptive, fostering.

His Graces on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler

Whose picture could one day appear next to “terrible” in the dictionary, and who can be sent your diatribes and accusations at

P.S.: Ah yes, the promised Gran’s Recipe. A few weeks back, on Palm Sunday, I reminisced about my youth, and how on that day my grandmother would make a special dish, pronounced spitsad. Little did I know Cousin Mikey is a fan of this epistle, and an email conversation among cousins ensued and resulted in Sweet Sue sending snapshots of the actual recipe (in Gran’s all-caps handwriting) for Spizzato. I promised to share it, minus family complaints. None came (a miracle!) so it follows. You’ll probably get it right on the third or fourth attempt. But when you do, mamma mia!

Ab’t 2 lbs lamb, not too small pieces

Ab’t 3 lbs dandelions or chickory

Ab’t 9 eggs or enough to cover . . . with cheese (likely plenty of grated parmesan), parsley, pepper beat well


Fry meat until brown add water and let cook (same as stew)

Cook dandelions save water

Place meat in roasting pan

Spread veg(etables) add some of water, enough so that eggs will cook

Bake in 375 over until egg is settled

National Review

Can You Help a Fellow American . . .

Dear Generous Jolters,

Bogart repeatedly bothering the same kindly fellow American (played by John Huston) in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is not the exact mood we seek to strike here this week. But since we are in fact going to be asking for financial help, and since WJ is addicted to old-movie references, we’ll use it. At least enjoy the clip of his first panhandle.

We don’t beg or mooch like the notorious Fred C. Dobbs, but we do invite folks to stand alongside us on the ramparts, bayonets fixed, supplying us ammo, as we battle Socialism, which is the theme of NR’s 2019 Spring Webathon.

Our goal is to raise at least $175,000 before May runs out (and more if possible), and our rationale for inviting you to buddy up in NR’s vital derring-do is explained wisely here.

WJ has never denied you a big basket of candy in these epistles, and we freely admit the obvious: Before you get to the sweets, sometimes we have to ask you to first consider matters of institutional importance. Such as: Our respectful request for your material support (translated: your donation) to underwrite our increased and darned-vital efforts to combat the renewed adoration of socialism. You know socialism: It’s that evil ideology that has captured the heart, soul, and marrow of the Democratic party, that stands against practically all the principles you believe, that detests the Founders and the doctrines they wove into this ever-perfecting union.

This fight is real. It’s intense. It’s for plenty of marbles, if not for all of them. Your donation to NR is one way for you to be part of that band of brothers and sisters who will share scars, wounds, and the thrill of socking Socialism in its big fat gob, day in and out on NRO.

Give. Please. Here. And then celebrate your good will by booking a cabin on the NR Canada / New England Cruise! Do that at

And just for having to endure my pitch (please don’t ignore it!), here’s an editorial freebee: a PDF of a masterful James Burnham “Third World War” column from NR circa 1956, taking on Socialists and the United Front.

All right, the Weekend Jolt awaits. As Mr. Gleason said, and away we go.


1. Joe from Scranton has tossed his hat into the ring (no hair plugs were harmed). The talk of him being a “moderate” is about as accurate as is the former Veep being Botox-free. From our editorial:

The effort to win the primaries may make Biden move further left himself: He has already denounced our legal system as “white man’s law,” possibly because it respects the presumption of innocence. (Reporters may wish to get some clarity from him on this question.) Were he to get the nomination, his alleged moderation would become a key selling point.

Step outside the funhouse mirror of Twitter. Biden has for his entire career been a strong, albeit not wholly consistent, supporter of every left-wing cause from higher taxes to hate-crimes laws to liberal judicial activism. Conservatives should not let themselves be fooled into thinking he is a moderate, and neither should actual moderates.

2. Since someone needed to take a jackhammer to this $2 billion infrastructure idea concocted by the Trump / Pelosi / Schumer Triumvirate of Spending, our editors volunteered. From the editorial:

“Infrastructure” is not an undifferentiated commodity, a lump of all-purpose putty that we can just order up more or less of as circumstances dictate. Infrastructure instead consists of many thousands of discrete projects, some of which are mainly federal responsibilities, some of which are primarily state and local jobs that may or may not merit federal assistance. And that is how “infrastructure” should be dealt with: on a case-by-case basis. That is why we have this splendidly specialized array of committees and subcommittees and bureaucracies and congressional procedure. And that, not a once-in-a-generation all-in multitrillion-dollar “fix,” is how responsible adults deal with roads and bridges and the like.

We note that figuring out how to pay for this is at the bottom of the current agenda. To the extent that it’s being talked about at all, there already is fundamental and probably unbridgeable disagreement: Some of the Democrats want to undo the 2017 tax cuts, others want to raise the federal gasoline tax. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) insisted: “It is up to President Trump to work with us by identifying new revenue to support that investment.” But revenue bills originate in the House of Representatives, not in the Oval Office.

3. The worst kind of scandal is an incredibly dumb one, properly referred to as a “scandal.” Like the Bill Barr “scandal.” From our editorial:

It’s hard to know where to begin. Barr’s position was eminently reasonable. He wanted to get the basic verdict of the Mueller report out as quickly as possible, given the inherent interest in the question of whether the president of the United States had conspired with the Russians. He opposed the subsequent release of the summaries of the report, as suggested in Mueller’s letter, because he thought it better that the public get the entire report at once. Which it did. Democrats and the media are acting as if Barr engaged in some sort of cover-up, when he went further than required under the regulations to release all of the report with minimal redactions.

May Flowers, and So Here Are 12 Bloomin’ Fantastic NRO Pieces to Fill that Vase

1. Pants on fire: Jim Geraghty offers a rundown of Joe Biden’s biggest fibs. From his Corner post:

In the 2008 vice-presidential debate, he claimed that the U.S. had teamed up with France to kick Syria out of Lebanon, that the U.S. spends more in Iraq in one month than it had in Afghanistan in six or seven years, and cited recently visiting a restaurant that had been out of business for decades.

In the 2012 vice-presidential debate, he suggested that he had voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when he had in voted for them, understated the income level for the Obama tax hikes by $800,000, claimed that no one had told the Obama administration that U.S. diplomatic posts in Libya wanted more security, and claimed that Obamacare had somehow created $716 billion in new funding that was now being applied to Medicare. It had not.

2. Roger Scruton has been smeared by New Statesman hack George Eaton. Defenestration followed quickly. But Douglas Murray isn’t letting the lefty scribe, or the Scruton-ditchers, off the hook (or leaving Roger under the bus). From his report:

But three weeks ago Eaton flagged up an interview he had conducted with Sir Roger Scruton with claims which seemed suspect from the start. Eaton claimed that Scruton had made a succession of “outrageous” remarks during their interview. In addition to anti-Chinese racism, he claimed, Scruton had said awful things about Muslims, Jews, and various other groups of people. All of this had an effect. Believing that what the New Statesman’s deputy editor said was true, Scruton was widely defamed across the British media. He was then swiftly and ignominiously fired (without even being personally informed) from his position heading a government quango. This latter decision was taken by the relevant minister, James Brokenshire MP, within five hours of Eaton’s original tweets.

The malicious intent which Eaton brought to the interview was evidenced not just by the manner in which he announced its alleged contents, but in his posting on Instagram of a photo of himself swigging champagne from a bottle and saying that this was how he was celebrating the sacking of “homophobe and racist” Roger Scruton.

While everything about this seemed to me suspect, few other people seemed to think so. Indeed, almost everybody else who had an opportunity to ditch Sir Roger did so. This list included nearly all Conservative party institutions and websites as well as numerous Conservative figures. The list included (though was not limited to) former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Danny (Lord) Finkelstein, MP Tom Tugendhat, MP Johnny Mercer, and of course that terrible victim of nominative determinism, Mr. Brokenshire. Like the newspapers, to the best of my knowledge none of these people requested a transcript of the Eaton–Scruton interview. They all decided to leap to judgment, trust George Eaton, trash Sir Roger, and then just move on.

RELATED: Free definition of “quango” here.

3. The fact that whites and blacks are increasingly living in the same neighborhoods seems to have gotten the New York Times good and knickers-twisted. Kyle Smith slaps the liberals who are alarmed at desegregation. From his essay:

You might be value-neutral on this trend (since people should be judged as individuals, it doesn’t matter what demographic boxes your neighbors check), or you might read it as a positive (assuming various cultures are linked to race and ethnicity, being exposed to difference might make you a better or more well-rounded person). But it takes a crabbed and ungenerous soul to find the trend alarming, as the Times does. The paper wonders whether “the area’s sudden reinvention will erase the last remaining signs of its history,” but it cites no examples of anything of historic importance being removed from the South Park landscape. What seems to be happening is that run-down buildings and empty lots are giving way to chic modern homes. To the naked eye, this looks a lot like improvement.

“Nationwide, the arrival of white homeowners in places they’ve long avoided is jolting the economics of the land beneath everyone,” notes a subheadline. “Jolting the economics of” is a curious dysphemism for “increasing the value of.” “Gentrification” has become a loaded word, but it indicates the same phenomenon: money pouring into an area, especially an area that was previously starved of it. Gentrification is a good thing. If you happen to have home equity in a gentrifying area, you are probably getting wealthier. Maybe a lot wealthier. That is a good thing, too. Would the Times prefer that black people who own houses didn’t enjoy robust returns on their investment? To counter these happy tidings, the Times imagines that it must amount to running a sort of gauntlet to patronize a lavish new shopping and dining space: “The food hall is trying to signal that longtime neighbors are welcome, too . . . but they must walk past the new $700,000 rowhomes outside to get here.” “But they must”? I fail to see how walking past a nice house is a daunting experience, unless maybe its owner is firing cannonballs at passersby.

But I’m exaggerating. The Times doesn’t associate these houses with bombardment, merely with slaveholding. The paper sympathetically treats alarmist rhetoric from black residents such as Octavia Rainey, a 63-year-old woman whose home has appreciated considerably. She calls the new houses built by white families, “Gone With the Wind houses, beach houses, slave houses,” comparing second-story porches to “overseers’ perches,” in the Times’ paraphrase of her sentiments.

4. San Francisco is mixing school-assigning and race and, as Fred Schwarz reports, yeah, it’s a mess. From his Corner post:

Friday’s New York Times had an interesting and mostly fair-minded article by Dana Goldstein about San Francisco’s unsuccessful attempts to engineer the racial makeup of its public schools. In pursuit of this goal, some students have had to be assigned to schools that are not their parents’ first or second choice, and that means trouble. It’s hard enough trying to design a school-assignment policy that will satisfy everyone when (as is true in most cities) some of your schools are so bad that no one wants to send their kids there, but setting an additional racial-balance requirement overdetermines the problem even further.

The city used to bus children to schools outside their neighborhoods to achieve racial balance, but this was ruled unfair to Asians. Now San Francisco is still supposed to create racially balanced schools, but without explicitly using race as a factor in deciding who goes where. Good luck with that. The city’s current assignment lottery was instituted in 2011, after decades of lawsuits and litigation and policy reversals.

5. Like Franco, the ERA is still dead. Very. Paul Benjamin Linton and Clarke D. Forsythe explain. From the piece:

The argument that the ERA is still open for ratification is based upon the ratification of the 27th Amendment, which deals with congressional compensation. The 27th Amendment was proposed on Sept. 25, 1789, and ratified by the 38th state (Michigan) on May 7, 1982, more than 202 years later. Because the 27th Amendment was (presumably) validly ratified after more than two centuries, the ERA, so goes the argument, is still before the states. The fallacy of this argument is that, unlike the ERA, which had included a seven-year time period for its ratification, the 27th Amendment had no time limit. Whether the 27th Amendment was validly ratified has no bearing on the viability of the ERA, which died no later than June 30, 1982, the expiration of the extension passed by Congress in 1978.

That the ERA died is evidenced by the fact that there have been multiple efforts to resubmit the ERA to the states, as early as 1983, and as recently as Jan. 26, 2018 (H.J. Res. 35) and March 27, 2019 (S.J. Res. 15). In addition, legislation has been introduced in the House (H.J. Res. 6) and the Senate (S.J. Res. 38) to remove the time limits Congress had adopted for the ERA. If the ERA were still before the states, why would removing the time limits be necessary?

 6. It’s not the kind of One-Percenter status they aspire to: Jim Geraghty takes a WJ encore and looks at the dense back of the Democrat prexy pack. You’ll forgive him the schadenfreude in discussing the current position of Kirsten Gillibrand and her nutty “Democracy Dollars” plan. From his Corner post:

But perhaps the most delicious is New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Back in 2017, Vogue’s cover declared, “2020 Vision: All Eyes on Kirsten Gillibrand.” (Back then I laid out how the glowing profile left a very misleading impression that Gillbrand was an economic centrist, an iconoclast, and a campaigning powerhouse with cross-party appeal.) All eyes may be upon her, but she’s at four-tenths of one percent in the RCP average.

Yes, it’s early. Yes, we haven’t had any debates yet. But it doesn’t get any easier for the candidates at the bottom as they compete for attention, donors, and early support.

Gillbrand is now in the “Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” stage, unveiling a cockamamie plan “to give every voter up to $600 in what she calls ‘Democracy Dollars’ that they can donate to federal candidates for office.” Yes, she wants to take your tax dollars, give you $600 back, and then allow you to donate that money to political candidates like her.

7. Rich Lowry condemns 8chan and the right-wing hate that spawned last week’s synagogue shooting in California. From his column:

Because everything must be about Donald Trump, the Left blames him for Pittsburgh and San Diego. His critics point to his shabby response to Charlottesville (Trump actually did condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis, but posited “fine people” on their side who didn’t exist). Yet Trump was explicitly rejected by the San Diego and Pittsburgh shooters, precisely because he’s so pro-Israel.

His State of the Union address earlier this year was notably philo-Semitic. “We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed,” he said while recognizing a hero of the Pittsburgh massacre. “With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.”

At the same time that an extreme fringe on the right marinates in its own malice, a different sort of anti-Semitism, rooted in hatred for Israel, is getting normalized on the left. It can be seen in the refusal of House Democrats to forthrightly condemn Representative Ilhan Omar for her anti-Semitic posts and comments, and in the astonishing publication by the international edition of the New York Times of a political cartoon worthy of Der Stürmer.

8. David French, discussing the culture’s campaign against masculinity, looks at the synagogue madness and sees aggression — one kind that was evil, another kind that was courageous. From his commentary:

The proper response to the reality of general masculine characteristics isn’t denial or indulgence. It’s development. Last Friday, a lone gunman walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and attempted to massacre the congregants. He opened fire when he entered, and a courageous woman named Lori Kaye lost her life shielding the rabbi from the incoming bullets. As the congregation fled, a man named Oscar Stewart (we should report and remember the names of heroes) ran directly towards the gunfire. He yelled at the shooter, threatening to kill him.

The shooter was so startled that he fled, and Stewart pursued him to his car and pounded on his window until an off-duty Border Patrol officer named Jonathan Morales fired into the car.

Think about that moment. Both Stewart and the shooter were aggressive. Both Stewart and the shooter were violent. But one man’s aggression was courageous. One man’s violence was necessary.

9. Robert Joseph and Eric S. Edelman argue that any possible forthcoming nuke treaties must limit the number of Red Chinese and Russian weapons. From their analysis:

It is also important to revisit the fundamental flaws of New START. In 2010, both of us testified against ratification, highlighting the treaty’s shortcomings and providing our prediction, now proven accurate, that U.S. forces would go down and Russia would build up under the agreement. This was consistent with longstanding Soviet tactics that consistently used arms control to limit U.S. nuclear forces in a manner intended to gain unilateral advantages. We also emphasized the failure to limit theater nuclear forces, based on the fiction that nuclear attacks employing weapons with ranges less than 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) would not be strategic. For those who cared about whether agreements actually reduced the number of nuclear weapons on each side, we pointed out that the new bomber-counting rule contained in the fine print of New START allowed the deployment of more strategic warheads than the nominal 1,550 treaty limit, since it counted each bomber as one without regard to the actual weapons load. And we noted that Russia would likely deploy offensive strategic forces that were not explicitly restricted by the agreement, which it has now done. Finally, we warned that the treaty, in principle and practice, seemed to accept at least some limits on missile defenses and conventional, prompt global-strike capabilities.

10. Abigail Disney – rich, entitled lefty heiress with an important last name – attacked the company that bears her name (along with its CEO, Bob Iger) in a Washington Post op-ed, which led Matthew Continetti to reflect on why folks give a mouse’s arse as to her public squeaking. From his column:

“I like Bob Iger,” she wrote in a Twitter rant this week. “I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself.” And she has nothing to do with the company other than holding shares “(not that many).” But Iger’s compensation in 2018 of $65.6 million is “insane.” Someone has to “speak out about the naked indecency” of it all, she wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post, a newspaper owned by the richest man on Earth. The Trump tax cuts are to blame. Yes, Disney is raising its minimum wage, and gave more than half of its 200,000 employees a $1,000 bonus last year. But it has spent billions more on stock buybacks to — ohmigod — “enrich its shareholders.” And among those shareholders are such undeserving folk as Vanguard and the New York State Common Retirement Fund and CALPERS. Did the retired teacher in Bakersville produce the Emmy award–winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell? I didn’t think so. Abigail did, so talk to the hand, Mr. Mutual Fund Investor.

Abigail Disney’s stand for the proletariat is absurd and self-righteous. There is, for starters, the fact that everyone involved in this psychodrama — from Disney to Iger to the owner of the Washington Post — is a super-affluent liberal. Everyone, that is, but many Disney employees, who are not an undifferentiated mass of drones but men and women with a diversity of political views, economic circumstances, work schedules, skill sets, and personal ambitions. Some of them probably liked their tax cut and bonus — and profited from the buybacks as individual shareholders.

Iger is a great chief executive. He has brought Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century Fox into the Disney fold, while maintaining quality and preparing a streaming service that will compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime. He’s just about doubled the global revenues of the company, from $34 billion in 2006 to $59 billion in 2018. Disney had more than a quarter of the total domestic box office in 2018, almost twice as much as its closest competitor. Abigail admits that Iger and his lieutenants “have led the company brilliantly.” So what’s her problem? It’s that the world doesn’t conform to her subjective vision of social justice. And since she’s a Disney heiress known only for criticizing her family’s company — sorry, Fork Films is not yet a household name — the media can’t resist giving her publicity. It’s the ultimate man-bites-mouse story.

11. Roberto González and Liza Gellerman explain how Hayek’s teachings predicted what would become of Venezuela courtesy of its leftist economic tyranny. From the beginning of their essay: