National Review

The Palindrome of ‘Bolton’ Would Be ‘Notlob’!! It Don’t Work!!

National Security Advisor John Bolton watches as President Donald Trump gives a news briefing at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada June 9, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolters,

No, we’re not in Ipswich. And as for Bolton . . . our friend John don’t work no more, at least not for this White House. Which makes one want to run away and hide in Notlob.

On Monday past the author of this prattling tweeted that he slept well at night knowing John Bolton was on the job and had America’s back. The day following, the Good Ambassador was no longer a member of the Trump Administration. This is not a caution about the Curse of Fowler Tweeting. It is a sincere lament. As Rich Lowry wrote following what was supposed to have been a Taliban Weekend Retreat at Camp David:

This intense internal fight over Afghan policy is why there have been a spate of anti-Bolton stories in the press lately. He wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers speaking forthrightly about why this course was a mistake, even when the decision seemed to be going the other way. It’s important that this president—any president—get unvarnished advice from his aides, and Bolton is always willing to provide it.

We hope John Bolton continues to provide it, in some way, through his pen and via the small screen and however else he can sound the alarm about America’s true and determined enemies. For too many there is a need to explain repeatedly that the parrot is indeed ex and deceased.

Also: As Jim Geraghty wrote, it should concern us that murderous dirtbags from Iran to North Korea are thrilled by the Ambassador’s departure. That said, the train for Ipswich is departing on Track 2.

But First . . . a Sidetrack to Some NR Job Opportunities

The NYC headquarters of NR and National Review Institute needs an Office Assistant. “Describe that, Fowler, so I can inform my job-seeking granddaughter living in Brooklyn!” Your wish being my command, this future colleague will be responsible for assisting office operations and management. Applicants should be self-starters who can anticipate the needs of a busy office and who enjoy working in a professional, fast-paced environment.

And also enjoy the occasional croonings and ukulele outbursts that punctuate the day as the NR / NRI team stands athwart. Get more information about this gig here.

Now, to quote the late, great Billy Mays, I’m not done yet. National Review is seeking 1. an executive assistant to Rich Lowry, leader of the vast right-wing conspiracy, 2. a print/ web editor, and 3. a content manager / web producer. What do those jobs entail? The interwebs will tell you all about them, right here.

Editorials

1. There is daft. And then there is Elizabeth Warren–grade daft. As the prexy wannabe is on fracking. From the editorial:

Those are the environmental challenges. The environmental benefit is this: In the first two decades of this century, the United States substantially reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions, more so than in many Western European countries pursuing active national programs of carbon-dioxide reduction. This happened because the abundant production of natural gas drove down prices and made it attractive to substitute that relatively clean-burning fuel for such relatively high-emissions sources as coal and heating oil for purposes such as generating electricity and heating buildings. The United States achieved these reductions while emissions were climbing in most of Asia and Europe. And it did so without any heavy-handed regulation or federal bullying.

The fundamental issue here isn’t methane or carbon dioxide or climate modeling: It is gullibility. On the one hand, the Democrats offer a pie-in-the-sky “Green New Deal” through which greenhouse-gas emissions might be radically reduced at no real cost to anybody and no meaningful economic disturbance . . . at some point in the future . . . by giving today’s Democrats a great deal of money and power and by implementing a bunch of things that look for all the world like the longstanding Democratic policy wish-list, many of them only remotely connected to energy or climate change. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to substitute — right here and right now — relatively clean sources of energy for relatively dirty ones, and to do so mainly by relying on the fact that producers and industry will do so on their own simply by responding to ordinary economic incentives — incentives rooted in abundance and in the emergence of a world-beating U.S energy industry that creates millions of good jobs in the process.

2. Mamma mia did we ever not like the idea of Taliban dirtbags being hosted at Camp David. From the beginning of the editorial:

The best thing to be said for the planned Camp David meeting with the Taliban is that it didn’t happen.

President Trump has a weakness for the grand gesture. Hosting the leadership of a vicious, terrorist insurgency that aided and abetted September 11 and is trying to kill Americans as we speak certainly would have been . . . memorable.

The invitation was part of the effort to bring to a conclusion negotiations that were close to a deal, although not one favorable to the interests of the United States.

The deal envisioned the U.S. reducing its current troop presence of roughly 15,000 down to zero about 16 months from now, at which point any commitments the Taliban had made would be worthless. We understand the frustration with a war that has lasted 18 years, but it would be foolish to end the “endless war,” or our part of it, with the Taliban once again in position to threaten Kabul and harbor international terrorists who mean us harm. We’ve had recent experience with a president following through on campaign pledge to end a war no matter what — and, of course, Barack Obama had to order troops back to Iraq when ISIS took over a swathe of the country.

3. We are against the trend of cancelling GOP primaries. Let the voters vote. From the editorial:

Four states so far have canceled their Republican primaries: Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina (which means Sanford won’t be able to vote for himself). The president says he has nothing to do with these decisions, but also that holding primaries he is sure to win would be a waste of money. The susceptibility of this argument to abuse by a ruler ought to preclude its being made.

The vast majority of Republicans approve of what Trump has done on taxes, judges, regulation, and most other issues, though they also support electoral competition. Trump would be likely to win the primaries handily, demonstrating his strength among Republicans while the Democrats tussle. His allies should want to see that, rather than make it seem as though he is too weak to face competition. But regardless of how it works out for him, Republican primary voters are capable of making the decision among Trump and the others — who so far include William Weld and Joe Walsh as well as Sanford. They deserve to be able to do so.

4. And then there is Beto daft. His gun-running-at-the-mouth exposes and confirms what we all knew: His party wants to confiscates those things you have a right to bear. From our editorial:

At the Democratic-primary debate in Houston last night, Beto O’Rourke formally killed off one of the gun-control movement’s favorite taunts: The famous “Nobody is coming for your guns, wingnut.” Asked bluntly whether he was proposing confiscation, O’Rourke abandoned the disingenuous euphemisms that have hitherto marked his descent into extremism, and confirmed as plainly as can be that he was. “Hell yes,” he said, “we’re going to take your AR-15.”

O’Rourke’s plan has been endorsed in full by Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and is now insinuating its way into the manifestos of gun-control groups nationwide. Presumably, this was O’Rourke’s intention. But he — and his party — would do well to remember that there is a vast gap between the one-upmanship and playacting that is de rigueur during primary season, and the harsh reality on the ground. Prohibition has never been well received in America, and guns have proven no exception to that rule. In New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, attempts at the confiscation of “high capacity” magazines and the registration of “assault weapons” have both fallen embarrassingly flat — to the point that the police have simply refused to aid enforcement or to prosecute the dissenters. Does Beto, who must know this, expect the result to be different in Texas, Wyoming, or Florida? Earlier this week, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was unable to marshal enough votes to pass a ban on the sale of “assault weapons” — let alone to mount a confiscation drive. Sorry, Robert Francis. That dog ain’t gonna hunt.

A Dozen and Then Some Conservative Mallomars, Chocolatey Delicious and In Season

1. Putting the ban in Taliban: Andy McCarthy hollers to the thugs being accepted at Camp David. To say our comrade supports the kill-or-capture alternative is an understatement. From the piece:

President Trump is antsy because he promised his base an end to “endless wars.” Alas, in the real world of hard choices, removed from rally-hall rhetoric, war does not come with an end date. The “endless war” trope betrays that, for all the president’s claims to a new realism regarding “radical Islamic terrorism,” he is missing the point. Afghanistan is not the war. The war is against the jihadist forces of sharia supremacism. We have to fight them wherever they work to stage attacks against the United States, our allies, and our interests.

For the foreseeable future, that will be an endless duty of American presidents. It is a modest commitment compared with past American wars. For example, if we just take Afghanistan-related operations, there have been approximately 2,400 military personnel killed since 2001. Obviously, every life is precious, but this total over 18 years is a thin fraction of the more than 58,000 American military personnel killed in nearly 20 years of the Vietnam War, to say nothing of the more than 400,000 killed in World War II.

2. Victor Davis Hanson looks at James Comey and his FBI posse, who were hellbent on kneecapping a new presidency. From the article:

In other words, Mueller most certainly would not be looking into any other sort of collusion between the U.S. government, foreigners, and Russia in 2016 — such as Hillary Clinton’s hiring of British national Christopher Steele, who relied on conniving Russian sources to create dirt on the campaign of Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump. Much less did the Mueller team examine Steele’s prolonged efforts to seed his wild and unproven allegations into a quite receptive Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA.

Comey’s leaks, and the subsequent outrage they incurred, did not just ensure a new independent investigation of Donald Trump, his nemesis, who had ended Comey’s long Washington career. It also had the effect of guaranteeing that Comey’s own unethical role in hiring Steele and the FBI’s leaking of his salacious findings to news outlets before the election — acts that defined real foreign interference in the 2016 campaign — would never be examined by Mueller and thus would never enter the media-crazed narratives about foreigners colluding with presidential candidates to damage their opponents.

Yet despite taking more than 22 months and costing over $30 million in costs, the Mueller team’s investigation found no collusion and no grounds for indicting Trump on obstruction of the non-crime of collusion. So, many months and millions later, Mueller ended up exempting the real Russian collusion while chasing in vain the fake collusion.

3. Kevin Williamson nails the progressive belief — make that certainty! — that any opposing view is illegitimate, and anyone holding such merits is targeting. From the essay:

The American polity, like a magnet, is polarized because it has two poles, for which the Republican and Democratic parties are rough proxies. Why does the United States have two political poles? Because it has two major political tendencies. Goldberg and Greenberg write of polarization, but they do not believe in it. They do not understand the United States as having two legitimate competing political camps but as suffering from a kind of infection in the form of the Republican party, which inhibits the normal and healthy — meaning Democrat-dominated — political life of the United States. They believe that something they call the “New America” has an unquestionable natural moral right to rule and that the Republican party is not a competing pole but a blockage. To write as Greenberg does that the Democratic party is to be liberated by the practical elimination of the Republican party, and hence able to operate unencumbered, is to embrace not only the end of the GOP but the end of ordinary political opposition.

It is not beyond imagining that the Republican party should decline into corporate incoherence and irrelevance: Its leadership is self-serving and feckless, and many of its subdivisions (including many state and local Republican-party units) are corrupt to varying degrees, and too often stupid where they are not corrupt. (This is not a universal condition; some of them are both corrupt and stupid.) But imagine the GOP being vaporized tomorrow by the political equivalent of a kind of neutron bomb in reverse, eliminating the infrastructure and real estate but leaving the people. What would be left behind? For one thing, there would remain an American electorate that was almost evenly divided (+/- 2 percent) about whether Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a more desirable president — with the pro-Trump side comprising a majority of the people in a majority of the states. It would include a country in which there are more Americans who believe that immigration should be reduced than who believe it should be increased; in which a large majority of the population supports restrictions on abortion and more than 80 percent support a ban on late-term abortion; it would include a country in which work requirements for welfare benefits are overwhelmingly popular; it would be a country in which about half of the people still oppose the Affordable Care Act.

4. The oversold hurricane/climate-change nexus is part of an agenda and, says Judith Curry, distracts from giving attention to shoring up vulnerabilities to the impact of these storms. From the analysis:

Last month, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Task Force, consisting of eleven international experts on hurricanes and climate change, published two assessment reports. Unlike the IPCC’s, which focus on consensus statements, the WMO reports discussed disagreement among the authors, distinguishing the issues on which there was substantial agreement among the authors from those on which there was substantial disagreement owing in part to limited evidence.

Any convincing claim that man-made climate change has altered hurricane activity requires identifying a change in hurricane characteristics that can’t be explained by natural climate variability. The only conclusion on which there was high agreement among the WMO Task Team members was that there is low-to-medium confidence that the location of typhoons in the North Pacific has changed as a result of climate change. The team members disagreed as to whether any other observed alterations in hurricane activity could be said to have been discernibly influenced by man-made climate change.

The WMO reports discussed a number of more speculative statements about the relationship between hurricane behavior and climate change, which could very well be false and overstate the influence of man-made climate change. There is some evidence suggesting contributions from man-made climate change to: an increase in the average intensity of the strongest hurricanes since the early 1980s; an increase in the proportion of hurricanes reaching Category 4 or 5 in recent decades; and the increased frequency of Hurricane Harvey–like extreme precipitation events in the Texas region. There is also evidence suggesting a decrease in how fast hurricanes move, but that has not been attributed to man-made climate change with any confidence. The WMO Report states that there is disagreement among the authors about whether these trends reflect the influence of man-made climate change.

5. John Hirschauer finds that Howard Husock’s new book, Who Killed Civil Society?, asks and answers a vital question. From the beginning of the review:

If civil society is dead — and evidence of its decay abounds, from the derelict exurban brownstones that were once home to orphanages and industrial schools to the ever-dwindling numbers of community organizations — Howard Husock’s question is one worth asking. In his new book Who Killed Civil Society? he explores the confluence of cultural, political, and economic developments that destroyed the “mediating institutions” that once imparted “middle-class values” to the poor and destitute.

It is a story told through anecdote, first through the eyes of Husock’s orphaned father, on whose behalf “a private organization called the Juvenile Aid Society, staffed in large part by volunteers, stepped in and provided a solid foundation for his life.” The Juvenile Aid Society “sought to shape his values — to inculcate the norms that are sometimes mocked as ‘bourgeois.’” These norms have been abandoned, in his eyes, to the great peril of the poor.

The book chronicles the evolution of social services from the late 19th century to the present, using emblematic figures — philanthropists, reformers, and ideologues — as vehicles to chart its development. This is Husock’s means of personalizing what is, in part, an impersonal plot: Whatever the role of individual social-service agents, it was the whirlwinds of legislative and cultural revolution that would destroy value formation and civil society in turn.

6. Rich Lowry wonders if Bernie Sanders, getting his Malthus on while campaigning, has ever met a person who he thought the world would be better off without. From his new column:

At least Bernie Sanders is an equal-opportunity misanthrope. He doesn’t like rich people, and it turns out he doesn’t necessarily like poor people, either.

At the CNN town hall on climate change, a questioner asked the socialist senator if he’d be “courageous” enough to endorse population control to save the planet. Sanders answered “yes,” and then, after referring to abortion rights, endorsed curtailing population growth, “especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies.”

He’s looking at you, sub-Saharan Africa.

The Sanders riff is the latest instance of a rising anti-natalism on the left, which has gone from arguing that carbon emissions are a problem to arguing that human beings are a problem. They release carbon emissions, don’t they? Q.E.D.

7. Brian Allen thinks the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon cuts the mustard for its housing of weird and fantastic modern stuff. From his commentary:

The nicest surprise was in Dijon. I wrote about the gorgeous Museum of Fine Arts in this lovely, small city, once the seat of the Dukes of Burgundy and, yes, the place that launched a thousand mustard shops. The museum’s smashing collection of Old Masters is located in the old ducal palace, just renovated at only €60 million, a feat of fiscal prudence that made my tightwad Vermont heart swell with awe and admiration.

My local museum, the Clark Art Institute, spent twice as much for a so-so result. New York City’s Museum of Modern Art wins the prize for biggest behemoth, though, with a $400 million renovation about to open on top of the $800 million expansion a few years ago. In New York style, if it’s not expensive, it can’t be any good. That thinking, of course, seems bizarre to Vermonters like me. We unreconstructed Yankees abhor spending a ton of money. American museums tend to spend too much and to spend it on shops, restaurants, people-processing spaces, and introductory video spaces, each more related to public relations than art. The French would call it gauche.

Dijon puts its money where its art is. The Museum of Fine Arts is a superb museum in the center of the city, but it also has a small contemporary art museum called the Consortium. I knew only its barebones story. It opened in 1977, before the Pompidou Center in Paris, and still is the place in France to show bleeding-edge art. It’s in an unglamorous neighborhood near the center of town, in a modern, purpose-built, but entirely unobtrusive building. It gave Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince their first solo shows. Jenny Holzer, Maurizio Cattelan, Daniel Buren, Lari Pittman, and Lynda Benglis had revelatory, early shows there. Its building is minimal in style — very Japanese — but the museum itself is maximalist in intent and ambition. It shows good art, period.

8. Huey Long was a bona fide turd who wasn’t assassinated, unlike his “assassin.” Ellen Carmichael serves up some long-overdue justice. From her piece:

Long’s proclivity for payback extended far outside the state legislature and into the lives of thousands of ordinary Louisianans. Because so many relied upon civil-service employment during the Great Depression, Long effectively controlled the most secure jobs in the state. State workers, even janitors, were forced to pledge fealty to Long, and those who did not soon learned that they had been fired. Meanwhile, small-business owners who refused to sign loyalty oaths would lose vital contracts with state hospitals, schools, and prisons.

Though many people were hurt at the hands of Long and his cronies, perhaps none suffered more gravely than the Pavy and Weiss families. Benjamin Pavy was an anti-Longite judge in St. Landry Parish whose judicial district Long gerrymandered in hopes of preventing him from winning reelection. Judge Pavy had planned to retire, but for insurance, Long allegedly began spreading a rumor that Pavy had “Negro blood,” hoping to delegitimize him in the eyes of voters.

9. And you thought it was about the shareholders! Matthew Continetti investigates Corporate America’s weakness for wokeness. From his piece:

Time was, CEOs of mighty enterprises shied away from politics, especially hot-button social and cultural issues. They focused instead on the bottom line. They maximized shareholder value by delivering goods and services to customers. Some businessmen still operate by this principle. In doing so they provide not only for their employees and CEOs and board members but also for the institutions — pensions, individual retirement plans, index funds, hospitals, philanthropies — that have invested in their companies.

That is no longer enough for many of America’s richest and most powerful. Suddenly, corporate America has a conscience. Every week brings new examples of CEOs intervening in political, cultural, and social debate. In every instance, the prominent spokesmen for American business situate themselves comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum. Shareholder capitalism finds itself under attack. Not just from socialism but also from woke capitalism.

These outbursts are not just virtue signaling. Nor is the left-wing tilt of corporate America merely a response to the “rising American electorate” of Millennial, Gen Z, and minority consumers. What is taking place is not a business story but a political one. What is known as “stakeholder capitalism” is another means by which elites circumvent democratic accountability.

10. Joseph Loconte calls for a revival in Lockean liberalism. From the outset of his essay:

In the summer of 1704, English philosopher John Locke began writing a response to a critic of his controversial treatise on religious freedom, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). It was, in fact, the third letter from Locke addressed to Jonas Proast, a chaplain at Oxford University, who insisted that government coercion in religious matters was necessary to preserve social order. Locke fired back: “Men in all religions have equally strong persuasion, and every one must judge for himself,” he wrote. “Nor can any one judge for another, and you last of all for the magistrate.”

Locke died before finishing the letter, but his revolutionary voice is being heard once again. A manuscript titled “Reasons for Tolerating Papists Equally with Others,” written in Locke’s hand in 1667 or 1668, has just been published for the first time, in The Historical Journal of Cambridge University Press. The document challenges the conventional view that Locke shared the anti-Catholicism of his fellow Protestants. Instead, it offers a glimpse into the radical quality of his political liberalism, which so influenced the First Amendment and the American Founding. “If all subjects should be equally countenanced, & imployed by the Prince,” he wrote, “the Papist[s] have an equall title.”

11. Brexit One: Breaking just after our last WJ, here is on-the-scene Kyle Smith ratting out the Brexit saboteurs. From his report:

Any hopes that the British government might actually go ahead and achieve Brexit, after more voters supported it than have ever voted for anything in the entire history of this formerly great country, were pretty well dashed this week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a spectacular series of defeats in the House of Commons, capped by the utterly humiliating departure of his own brother Jo, a Remainer, who quit both his brother’s government and his seat in the Commons rather than be an ally for the Brexit Johnson has repeatedly promised would occur, “do or die,” on October 31. Jo Johnson said he was putting “the national interest” ahead of party and family.

After many in his own party deserted him, and, more to the point, deserted the country, by joining the pro-EU coalition in Parliament, a bill set to become law on Monday will require Johnson to go on bended knee to the EU to seek a second extension. After that outcome is secured, a general election looms.

In proving that it is terrified of a no-deal Brexit, Parliament has effectively stripped the United Kingdom of all its negotiating leverage and made it probable that nothing like a clean break with the EU will occur. What Britain will wind up with will evidently either be continued EU membership or some sort of sham Brexit like the one that was repeatedly rejected when Theresa May tried to sell it to the Commons.

12. Brexit Two: Madeleine Kearns gives the lay of the political land back in the UK. From her piece:

In short, [Boris] Johnson’s campaign strategy is to speak over and above the noise of Parliament and directly to the people. As outlined above, his message is straightforward enough. And as far as optics go, he has the advantage of being the polar opposite of Theresa May, who, readers will remember, was badly punished by voters in the 2017 general election for having the approximate charisma of a wet blanket.

To summarize, Johnson’s deliberately confrontational parliamentary strategy involves: 1) Purging the parliamentary party of MPs he deems disloyal; 2) continuing preparations for a no-deal Brexit; and 3) bringing about a general election.

As for Johnson’s theatrical campaigning strategy, it involves: 1) The political persona he has been creating for himself since childhood, that of a fun and bold guy. 2) The political narrative that he has been attempting to forge over the past few years, that he is a true statesman, prepared to do whatever needs to be done during a time of national crisis, like Churchill. 3) The fact that he is neither Theresa May (who failed to offer her own party, let alone the country, a vision of Brexit) nor Jeremy Corbyn.

13. Brexit Three: Michael Brendan Dougherty handicaps the reasons to be for or against Brexit becoming a reality. From his analysis:

The case for Brexit happening boils down to this: Boris Johnson is prime minister, and his political career depends on effecting Brexit. And not just his, but the Tory party’s survival would be imperiled by the failure to Brexit. Nigel Farage is waiting with his Brexit party, ready to eat the decaying carcass of this one dominant political body. Working in Johnson’s favor is that he is significantly more popular than Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party who cannot be thrown out, but whom hardly anyone seems to want to make prime minister. When an election comes, and it must, a Johnson-led majority would owe its position to a prime minister who has a mandate to take the U.K. out. European patience for Brexit is also running short. Uncertainty threatens to bring about recession in a weakening German economy. Emmanuel Macron wants to push an ambitious vision for the European Union, and a long-term vegetative-state Brexit is a threat to them.

Then again, maybe not. Think about it. Why did Boris Johnson have to expel 21 Tories from his party? Were they not sufficiently motivated by the threat of the Brexit party to act, and act swiftly? Can they not read the polls? Of course they can. But they read their personal email, too. And overhear dinner conversations.

The structural problem isn’t just that there is a different sentiment reigning in Parliament than among the people, as if the previous election were a mere accident that will be corrected by another. No, the problem is that Britain’s political and larger metropole elite class is much more in line with Remain than with Brexit. The increased pace of defections is a sign that this class is increasingly polarized against the Brexiteers. Johnson’s demand that his party get on board with his brinkmanship in a negotiating strategy is straining the relationship of elite Tories with their social set, including their families.

14. Brexit Four: Richard Reinsch believes Boris’s hands are not completely tied. From his analysis:

The best option is for Johnson to defy the Benn-Burt bill itself by refusing its demands to obtain extension for Britain’s EU exit. The possibility of following such a course has predictably drawn the widest criticisms from members of Parliament. David Lidington, who was deputy prime minister in Theresa May’s government, remarked that “it is a fundamental principle that we are governed by the rule of law that I hope no party would question it.” An anonymous cabinet minister stated, “As a government we abide by the rule of law, or you don’t stay in office.” Sir Ken MacDonald, a Liberal Democratic MP and former prosecutor, noted that Johnson could be jailed if he refused to heed the Benn-Burt legislation. This crew, though, should be careful what they wish for. They are members of the same body that refuses to provide any means for an effectual withdrawal of Britain from the EU, the instructions they were given by the people in the Brexit vote and which everyone understood during the Remain/Leave campaign were to be conclusive on this matter. It is a bit rich.

What Johnson has understood from the moment he stepped into No. 10 Downing Street, unlike his predecessor, Theresa May, is that movement and pressure from his office are required to achieve Britain’s reclaiming of its sovereignty. He has acted as an executive leader, fully accountable and fully energized, taking the fight to his domestic opponents and his foreign enemies. To Brussels he has given every indication of a so-called “No-deal Brexit.” Such a path will inflict short-term pain on the U.K., but it will also inflict pain on its trading partners in the EU. Thus, Brussels knows that with Johnson, unlike with May, the unthinkable is now a distinct possibility: Is it time to make a better deal with the U.K.? Benn-Burt aims to cripple Johnson on this point, taking his leverage off the table by foreclosing a No-deal Brexit, and giving the initiative back to Brussels, delaying (perhaps permanently) Britain’s exit.

15. Armond White finds the new documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, politically predictable. From his review:

In Chinatown, Faye Dunaway made her first indelible impression with the line “I don’t make threats, my lawyer does.” You might expect a savvy Vanity Fair article to find use for that modish quote in a piece depicting infamous lawyer Roy Cohn as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s eager young HUAC sidekick who became a legendary fixer for Mafia figures and other rich and powerful New Yorkers. That the Chinatown quote never embellishes Where’s My Roy Cohn? is the only surprise in this stylish, politically predictable doc by former VF writer Matt Tyrnauer.

Cohn had figured prominently in Tyrnauer’s 2018 doc Studio 54 as a gay-friendly facilitator for nightclub owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, whose exploits perfectly fit Tyrnauer’s determination to make docs that flattered infamous or enviable celebrities. But this time Tyrnauer takes a different VF tactic, demonizing Cohn with straight-face, slick-page snark. Throwing shade at disgraced public figures is the new journalism.

16. More Armond: He finds JLO’s Hustler to be appalling. There is a motherload of context here — all of it delicious. From the review:

Every scene in this caper-voyeur flick lays out the greedy, heartless schemes run by a group of NYC strippers led by Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Destiny (Constance Wu), Mercedes (Keke Palmer), Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Diamond (Cardi B). They become drug dealers and extortionists to Wall Street businessmen while whining about the 2008 financial crisis. Exploiting themselves to exploit the men who exploit them is tautology that makes sense only to feminist ideologues and Hollywood panderers.

Despite Millennial blather about female agency and economic equality, Hustlers is in a familiar line of post-Madonna Hollywood procurement fantasies. Each woman’s sob story about abuse and resentment brought me back to a 1990 incident: A middle-aged female friend interrupted a group of adolescent girls fawning over Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She asked them, “What do you think about her being a prostitute?” and the teenager gaggle shot back, “She’s not a prostitute!” Hollywood passed off Roberts’s hooker as Cinderella — or maybe Eliza Doolittle. Naïveté is an easy training ground for the oldest profession.

Then, in 1996’s Set It Off, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett, and Kimberly Elise played hard-luck blue-collar women who become bank robbers to make ends meet. (The premise was later repeated by Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes in 2001’s Mad Money, corrupting the age-old wisdom of women having their own financial means.)

In 1998, rapper Ice Cube performed a tour de force of writing, directing, and acting in The Players Club, a ribald yet serious street drama about Diamond (LisaRaye McCoy), a single mother in Los Angeles who becomes a stripper, literally “working her way through college,” as a 1952 Virginia Mayo–Ronald Reagan movie promised. But Cube’s vernacular classic — and LisaRaye’s bodacious characterization — faced down moral hypocrisy and its unpleasant costs for some. Cube bluntly explored underclass economic advancement, yet liberal Hollywood typically overlooked the achievement of an unpredictable black independent filmmaker pre-Obama.

17. Alexandra DeSanctis explores the policy ideas that might make it more affordable for couples to have bigger families (or any family). From her piece:

The annual American Family Survey (AFS), released this morning, suggests that while most Americans used to consider cultural concerns the most important problem facing families, they now see economic concerns as a more pressing issue.

It’s not surprising, then, that young couples and parents report having fewer children than they’d like for economic reasons. Last summer, a New York Times/Morning Consult survey found that one in four adults ages 20 to 45 who are parents, or hope to be, said they had fewer children or expected to have fewer children than they considered ideal. Three of the primary reasons for that disparity were child-care expenses, financial instability, and general concerns about the state of the economy.

That reality has driven much of the work of the Social Capital Project undertaken by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC), a multi-year research effort spearheaded by the JEC’s chairman, Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah). The project aims to document trends in what its mission statement calls “associational life” in the U.S., a “web of social relationships through which we pursue joint endeavors—our families, communities, workplaces, and religious congregations.”

The family is first on that list for a reason. Many conservatives, especially social conservatives, acknowledge the family as the fundamental unit of a strong, flourishing society. The JEC clearly recognizes as much: On Tuesday, it held a hearing intended to explore factors affecting family affordability and policies that might encourage Americans to start and raise families.

The New Issue of NR Flexes Its Big Muscles and Man Oh Man Are Those Ever-Great Guns

So the new September 30, 2019, issue is hot off the presses and in the mail — you’ll get it soon if the mailman does his bit, or immediately on NRO (for those this side of the paywall) or if you are an NRPLUS subscriber. (You’re not? Become a member right now, right here.) It’s another very special issue — this one contains a slew of exceptional pieces on guns. Let’s recommend two of those articles, and a couple of other pieces.

1. Tim Sandefur makes the case that since quill was put to parchment, the Constitution has been seen as opposing slavery. From his essay:

The constitutional crisis over slavery erupted  in 1819, when Missouri sought admission to the Union as a slave state. Any hopes that slavery might be quarantined and extinguished were suddenly shaken. Anti-slavery figures such as John Quincy Adams, then secretary of state, immediately grasped the legal problems. First, advocates of Missouri’s admission argued that Congress had no constitutional authority to bar slavery in the nation’s western territories—and Adams found himself nearly alone in claiming otherwise. As a result, Adams wrote, slavery’s champions had “been victorious by the means of accomplices and deserters, from the ranks of Freedom.” Second, the admission of Missouri contradicted the prohibition in Article IV of the Constitution against states’ denying Americans the “privileges and immunities” of citizenship. That clause requires states to admit citizens of other states on equal terms. But Missouri’s proposed constitution prohibited free black Americans—who could be citizens in other states—from entering the state.

The outcome of that debate was the famous Missouri Compromise, which included a provision that waved away this problem with meaningless verbiage. Missouri’s constitution, Congress declared, must “never be construed to authorize the passage of any law . . . by which any citizen . . . shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled.” This was legal gibberish, given the lack of agreement over what these “privileges and immunities” were, and Adams saw through it immediately. Violating the Constitution in order to admit a new slave state, he warned, was the beginning of the end of the union.

2. That 70s Show: Vance Serchuk says Putin thinks he is Nixon and Kissinger when it comes to the Middle East. From his essay:

Even Israel, America’s closest Middle Eastern partner, has come to embrace Moscow’s role as a regional power broker, hosting a first-of-its-kind summit of U.S. and Russian national-security advisers in Jerusalem in late June. While both the Trump administration and Israeli officials were quick to portray the gathering as an exercise in isolating Iran—testing the potential to separate the Kremlin from its erstwhile accomplice in Syria— the meeting sent another message to the region: about the acceptance of Russia by the Jewish state as a coequal to the U.S. in shaping the future of the Levant.

How did Moscow pull this off? In Washington foreign-policy circles, it is generally recognized that Russia’s return to great-power status in the Middle East has somehow run through the conflagration in Syria, where the Kremlin has—to use a shopworn phrase—“played a weak hand well.” What is less appreciated is that President Vladimir Putin has achieved this feat by applying the same great-power-competition playbook that was successfully deployed against Russia by the United States during another Middle East war nearly 50 years ago.

3. Guns One: Robert VerBruggen leads off the special section with an essay clarifying the enormous use of guns by Americans engaged in defending themselves. From his essay:

One day at 5:30 A.M., a man with a machete hacked at two doors, leaving a trail of broken glass, to force his way into a DeKalb County, Ga., home. What he planned to accomplish once inside, though, we’ll never know: The home owner had a gun, confronted the in truder, and fired two shots, killing him.

This is what’s known as a defensive gun use, or DGU. It is abundantly clear that such things happen regularly in this country, which should not surprise us: We have 323 million people, at least as many guns, and plenty of crime, so periodically a person will use a gun to stop a crime. The National Rifle Association’s “Armed Citizen” report, from which this case is drawn, compiles several incidents each week from local news stories.

But exactly how many times do things like this happen each year? Often enough to provide a big potential upside to buying a gun? Often enough that we should worry about various proposed gun-control measures’ reducing the number?

4. Guns Two: Charlie Cooke explains America’s most misunderstood firestick, the AR-15. From his piece:

It is difficult to overstate just how customizable the AR-15 is. Indeed, properly comprehended, the AR-15 is not so much a type of gun—in the way that, say, the Colt 1911 or Remington 870 are—as it is a weapons platform, on top of which a wide variety of different guns can be assembled. With the exception of the “lower receiver”—the mechanical heart of the weapon, and the part that the federal government legally considers a “firearm”—every single element on the AR-15 is swappable and modifiable, which, for a beginner, can be quite bewildering, but which helps explain why the platform has grown in popularity the way that it has. Before starting assembly, I was obliged to decide upon a stock, a buffer tube, a buffer spring, a buffer, an endplate, a castle nut, a pistol grip, a magazine, a selector switch, a bolt catch, a trigger, a hammer, a trigger guard, a set of takedown and pivot pins, a charging handle, a bolt-carrier group, and, depending on how involved I wanted to get, either an already-assembled upper receiver or the various parts that make one up. And this was before I got into the optional elements, such as sights, optics, bipods, and bottle openers (no joke).

Scouring the Internet during my initial investigation, I discovered just how far some builders have taken their customizations. I found a model decked out in Seattle Seahawks colors, replete with the number 12 on its Magpul PMAG magazine. I found a model that perfectly resembled a waving American flag. I found a model that looked like the weapons carried by the imperial stormtroopers in Star Wars. I even found a model decked out in the style of the Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty. For a gun that, like the Model T Ford, is famous for being black, the AR-15 is as protean as firearms get.

5. Teddy Roosevelt. Now there, writes Declan Leary, was a man who knew his way around guns. From his piece:

And yet there was one thing about which he wrote with even more excitement than his library: his gun. Or rather, his guns—he kept quite a few, including the obligatory revolver of a ranch owner and multiple shotguns. But his pride and joy, his single most prized possession, was a .45–75 half-magazine, pistol-gripped Winchester Centennial Model rifle.

We tend to think of guns—their nature, their purpose, their dangers—as social. But they were not so for Roosevelt. To him, these guns were the line between man and beast, and more broadly between man and nature. He was of course not ignorant of the fact that one man might turn a gun against another; a decade after Hunting Trips of a Ranchman he would do just that in war and earn praise of heroism for it. But this was not, in Roosevelt’s carefully discerning eyes, what guns were for. For a thousand men to fling a thousand bullets scattershot at a thousand others in hopes of hitting one or two of them is something of an indignity to the grace and art of the weapon.

One man, deep as he can get in whatever is left of the wilderness, balanced carefully on horseback—Roosevelt’s favorite for hunting was a calm, strong animal named “Manitou”—or kneeling on the ground, buttstock pressed firm in the shoulder, one eye locked down the sights toward his mark, finger steady on the trigger—this is a man, and a gun, in full. There is none of the furor and frenzy of war. There is none of the rage or passion of crime. There is man, beast, and untamed earth; and there is the magnificent machine with which he brings both beast and earth under his dominion.

The Six

1. The House of Commons speaker is supposed to be nonpartisan, which does not describe the departing anti-Brexit, immense-ego’d John Bercow, who, writes Tim Stanley in The Telegraph, threw centuries of tradition to the wind. From his column:

John Bercow resigned from the speakership the way he ran it: with partisanship, sentimentality and a billion words when one would do. His language is impenetrable; faux-clever. He sounds like Jane Austen giving directions to a foreign tourist.

He is also a classic example of a liberal wrecker, as opposed to a radical revolutionary. I like radicals because they’re honest and pure. They try to conquer the institution from the outside; scale its walls, pull it down. A liberal wrecker embeds himself in the heart of the institution; he pretends to be in sympathy with it, takes power and then slowly dismantles it, piece by piece. Usually in the name of saving it from itself.

The wrecker is a snob and a narcissist. He wants all the respectability and authority that comes from the institution and its history, but he also wants to remake it in his own image — so that future generations will see not the tradition, but the lingering impression of his own ideals. What he doesn’t realise is that age and continuity are the great ballasts to institutions; the moment he pulls them down, the institution collapses around his head.

RELATED: The Telegraph’s Rob Wilson says good riddance.

2. At Just Facts, James D. Agresti reports on a poverty relativity, and finds the poorest Americans are better off than the typical European. From the piece:

The high consumption of America’s “poor” doesn’t mean they live better than average people in the nations they outpace, like Spain, Denmark, Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. This is because people’s quality of life also depends on their communities and personal choices, like the local politicians they elect, the violent crimes they commit, and the spending decisions they make.

For instance, a Department of Agriculture study found that U.S. households receiving Food Stamps spend about 50% more on sweetened drinks, desserts and candy than on fruits & vegetables. In comparison, households not receiving Food Stamps spend slightly more on fruits & vegetables than on sweets.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that the privilege of living in the U.S. affords poor people with more material resources than the averages for most of the world’s richest nations.

Another important strength of this data is that it is adjusted for purchasing power to measure tangible realities like square feet of living area, foods, smartphones, etc. This removes the confounding effects of factors like inflation and exchange rates. Thus, an apple in one nation is counted the same as an apple in another.

To spot check the results for accuracy, Just Facts compared the World Bank consumption figure for the entire U.S. with the one from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. They were within 2% of each other. All of the data, documentation, and calculations are available in this spreadsheet.

3. Gatestone Institute’s Judith Bergman reports on how the former PM’s think tank — the (yawn) Tony Blair Institute for Global Change — is leading efforts to suppress free speech. From the piece:

It would be up to the government to define what is understood by “spreading intolerance”, or “blaming specific groups for broader societal issues”.

Being designated a “hate group”, it is underlined in the report, “would sit alongside proscription but not be linked to violence or terrorism, while related offences would be civil not criminal”.

Unlike proscribed groups that are banned for criminal actions, such as violence or terrorism, the designation of “hate group” would mainly be prosecuting thought-crimes.

The groups that Blair’s think-tank mentions as main examples of those to be designated hate groups are Britain First and Generation Identity. Both are political; Britain First is also an aspiring political party with parliamentary ambitions. If the report’s suggestions were to be adopted into law, these movements, if designated as “hate groups” would not be allowed “to use media outlets or speak at universities”. They would also not be allowed “to engage, work with or for public institutions”.

However, the report tries to assure us, “hate designation would be time-limited and automatically reviewed, conditioned on visible reform of the group”.

4. At The Daily Signal, Nile Gardiner says the departure of John Bolton from the White House leaves very big shoes to fill. From his analysis:

Bolton was also instrumental in shaping the U.S. response to the Venezuela crisis and a host of other international issues, from confronting Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East to pressuring NATO allies to invest more in the common defense.

Bolton rightly placed strengthening the transatlantic alliance at the very heart of strategic thinking in the White House and was a powerful adversary for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. He consistently stood up to Russian aggression and threats to Europe and made it clear at every opportunity to the Kremlin that the United States would stand with and defend its allies in the face of the Russian bear.

U.S. leadership in Asia was also bolstered under Bolton, and his support for Taiwan helped lead to the best U.S.-Taiwan relationship in 40 years. And he was at the forefront of the Trump administration pushing back on Chinese designs in the Indo-Pacific in ways that strengthened America’s presence and credibility.

5. Mitchell Lambert, writing in The College Fix, discusses how SJW efforts to get him fired from his Brooklyn College professorship have backfired. Indeed, he’s thriving. From his piece:

One of the distortions in the media coverage was the implication that a large number of students supported the protests. In fact, only a couple of hundred out of 18,000 students at the college participated in the protests. About two or three percent of the college’s student-and-faculty body signed an online petition to have me fired. The other 97 percent did not spend a minute on the question. Many students were on my side, but because CUNY’s left-wing administration suppresses conservatives, these students were silent.

In thinking about how to respond to authoritarian attacks, practical concerns are important. The best defense against suppression is private resources. Back in the 1970s I knew a couple who had worked at the U.N. but was fired from the U.S. Embassy during the McCarthy era. They took their resources and founded a retail store that built on their international connections. Since I am close to retirement, I was not worried financially. Dissenters in an authoritarian climate need to strategize how to accumulate resources that enable them to remain independent.

I made one major gaffe: an apology. When I wrote the blog, I meant it as humor. A friend convinced me to write that I had meant the blog to be satirical in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” I later discussed this with a libertarian economist who had been attacked in the Las Vegas newspapers, and he agreed that one should never apologize. Apologies give the pro-Antifa media an additional wedge. (See this.) When the mainstream media attacked Stephen Moore in the context of his Fed appointment, he kept apologizing, and I wish he hadn’t.

6. In City Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for more and better foster care. It’s sorely needed. From the article:

Foster parenting is hard. National estimates suggest that about half of foster parents decide to stop during their first year. Families are often ill prepared for the challenges: the behavioral problems that many children exhibit, the medical concerns, even (and perhaps especially) dealing with the frustrating bureaucracy of the child-welfare system and family courts, as well as with the dysfunction of kids’ biological families. One reason that foster kids go through so many placements—a group is now suing the state of Kansas on behalf of children with more than 100 placements—is that many foster families can’t handle the job. “If you want to adopt a child [out of foster care] and you just think that, if you love them, they’ll love you back—that doesn’t work for most kids because of their history,” says Charity Hotton, director of Treatment Foster Care for Utah Youth Village. “A lot of them engage in really confusing behaviors, like, they love you one minute, and then they hate you the next minute. It’s ‘come here, go away, I don’t need you, but I’m going to demand that you do everything for me.’ We have to prepare the family for the idea that, for a long time, this is not going to be a reciprocal relationship.”

A “disrupted” adoption—meaning that a family after months (or even years) gives the foster child back to the state—is the worst of all outcomes. A child is initially told that he has found a “forever family,” and then that family decides that they can’t deal with him, after all. According to a 2012 report from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “disruption rates . . . range from about 10 to 25 percent.” For older kids, the numbers tend to be higher.

BONUS: Back at NRO, Kathryn Jean Lopez talks up Naomi’s new AEI report on foster care. From her column:

Honor Your (Foster) Mothers and Fathers is a new report by Naomi Schaefer Riley published by the American Enterprise Institute. Naomi has made it her business over the past few years to become an expert in adoption and foster care. I often think of adoption and foster care as akin to military service — so few of us serve, so we often don’t know the intense sacrifices necessary and the critical need there is for responsible citizens to step up to the plate. Naomi has been surveying the challenges and wants to help make it possible for there to be more foster families who can stay in the system for more than a year or two, so that the 443,000 children in foster care can have stable homes.

One of the things not to do, she recommends, is to start throwing more money at potential foster parents. That’s because the money that state governments tend to give seldom covers health-care and other expenses sufficiently, especially if there are special needs involved (which is so often the case with children who might have trauma in their history). Money isn’t typically the factor that is going to recruit the kind of people who want to step into the arena — the kind of people who are moved by the call to this service of love. And it’s also because young adults who spent time in foster care often remember the money — just how much it was and what it was used for. A child who is desperate for a little “normalcy” might not exactly feel at home if he’s feeling that the people who are supposed to love him unconditionally are in it for the money.

Baseballery

On the recent NR Cruise, Dale, once-upon-a-minor-leaguer, discussed a Hall of Fame pitcher (no, WJ ain’t naming him) who doctored the ball his entire career. The premise was: Why can he be in Cooperstown, but Pete Rose and the Steroid Boys of Summer not? A very debatable question, yes? But not here and now: No, this is mentioned because it impetused the author of Your Favorite Epistle to daydream about . . . spitball pitchers.

The Baseball Gods sought to forbid the practice — legal and juicy in the National Pastime’s earliest decades — in 1920. But the practitioners of slobbering made a con man-ish case (the unalterable physiology of their muck-dependent delivery) for being grandfathered, and the wish was granted to 17 of ’em. Most were out of baseball in a few years, but a few hung on for over a decade.

As luck would have it, two of the aging coots still tossing in the 1930s played in the last game featuring opposing, once-legal spitball hurlers. It happened May 3, 1932 at the Polo Grounds, when the visiting Dodgers pulled off an epic ninth-inning comeback win over the Giants. The losing pitcher was Clarence Mitchell, who came into the game with the Giants sporting a 7–5 lead. His spitball wasn’t working: He gave up a string of hits that was central to the Dodgers racking up eight runs. Mitchell — already famous (infamous) for hitting into the Billy Wambsganss unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series (he was a pitcher for the Dodgers, then known as the Robins) — took the loss (the final score was 11–7) against the Bums, and also chalked up a blown save.

Not blowing a save in that same game was Brooklyn’s aging (48!) reliever Jack Quinn, who retired the Giants’ one-two-three to close out the contest, and earned a save, his first of the season: Quinn, who had 247 career victories over 23 seasons, led the NL in saves that season and the year prior. On that afternoon at the Polo Grounds, maybe the Mighty Quinn (take it away Manfred Mann) wasn’t juicing up the orb (the 1920 “grandfathering” ruling declared the license to toss the juiced ball was kaput if the pitcher changed leagues, which he did in 1931, when he joined the Senior Circuit), but whether he was or wasn’t, it was the last time two of Baseball’s specialized throwbacks faced off.

Back to Mitchell and that 1920 World Series game featuring his famous triple play: He was hitting because he had come into the game in relief of the Robins’ starter Burleigh Grimes, the Hall of Famer who was in fact the last of the grandfathered spitballers to play in a Major League game. That came on September 20, 1934, at Ebbets Field. Hurling for the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, in relief for fellow Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt, Grimes faced three Dodgers, and recorded three outs.

One of his victims was Tony Cuccinello, who twelve years later almost won the AL batting crown (he hit .308 for the White Sox, but lost on the last day of the season to the Yankees’ Snuffy Stirnweiss — who went 3 for 5 against the Red Sox, one of those hits believed to be an error but ruled otherwise by a friendly scorekeeper — by .000087!). And twenty years after that, at a June 6, 1965, Sunday-afternoon doubleheader in The Bronx, the little old man, then a coach for the White Sox, shook hands with a five-year-old boy at the fence along the third-base line. He is now typing this missive.

A Dios

So many died that day and since, many murdered, many in the act of defending our freedoms and protecting us from harm. Pray for the peaceful repose of their souls, and for the comfort of those left behind, and that we may all of us meet again one day in a place of everlasting peace.

God’s Blessings and Graces on You and All Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can be sent directions to Notlob at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Boris, Bad? Enough!

Dear Weekend Jolter,

It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of big stories and issues this side of the pond to merit top-of-the-fold attention (admittedly, Weekend Jolt has no “fold”) in the new edition of this Humble Missive. But let us all face the fact: British politics has been a historic concern to NR (also admittedly, our offices have always been stinking with Brits, and of course us “stinking” in the non-olfactory, good sense, although there was that one intern . . .). And then there’s this: Brexit / May / Johnson / Farage / Hannan / No Deal / EU waxball has great implications for we Vespuccians.

So: Mr. Boris Johnson, the New York-born Prime Minister, finds himself in a titanic constitutional / political battle with Remainers, some being in his own party, and many others being Britain’s Marxist-led Labourites (whose ranks include many Brexit reneggers). Our Madeleine Kearns wrote early in the week, trying to make sense of the madness and chaos. From her analysis:

Do Johnson or his aide Dominic Cummings have any tricks up their sleeves? Do they know what they’re doing? Addressing the House of Commons, Johnson said:

Everyone will know if the Right Honorable Gentleman [Jeremy Corbyn] is the prime minister, he will go to Brussels, he will beg for an extension, you will accept whatever Brussels demands, and we’ll have years’ more arguments over Brexit. And by contrast, everyone will know that if I am prime minister, I will go to Brussels, I will go for a deal and get a deal, but if they won’t do a deal we will leave anyway on 31 October.

The people of this country will have to choose.

Of course, he is not really addressing the House here. He is addressing the country. And if the latest YouGov poll figures are anything to go by, the Conservatives are set to win a general election. This is something former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, of all people, warned pro-Remain MPs about: An election could seriously backfire.

As the British constitution (paradoxically) crumbles under the weight of its non-existence, Johnson’s leadership style is one of “never, never, never give up.” One of “keep calm and carry on.” One of single-minded determination, initiated and sustained by a commitment to direct democracy. When you look to his heroes, you start to see what he’s up to.

Related: Morning Jolt author and all-hailed colleague Jim Geraghty took to his daily treat to provide a round-up of various takes on the high-stakes game Johnson has unleashed in Parliament. From his take:

One of the bigger and thornier questions is how you handle the border between Northern Ireland, which as part of the United Kingdom would no longer be part of the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which still be part of it. During “the Troubles,” the border crossings had checkpoints manned by the British military. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 started winding down the sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, and by 2005, the situation had improved enough for the checkpoints to evaporate. (Within the EU, you can travel from one country to another with no real interruptions; the trains from Germany to Austria don’t even announce when you’ve left one country and entered another. Picture taking Amtrak to Toronto.) People on both sides of the border, who have gotten used to traveling freely and easily over the past 15 years, worry about the return of customs inspectors and police and waiting in line.

But Daniel Hannan warns that if the British government takes the “no deal” option off the table, the European Union will take the country to the cleaners in the negotiations in the aftermath — after all, the U.K. would have effectively promised they would never walk away from the negotiating table. “[Members of Parliament] know that taking “no deal” off the table means taking Brexit off the table. All the E.U. has to do to keep us in is offer intolerable terms. Let’s call this what it is: an attempt by MPs, despite everything they promised, to overturn the referendum.”

Not-so-cheerio, eh? Well, if cheerio is what you want, then you need to come on NR’s 2020 Rhine River Cruise. Now, on with the Jolt!

Editorials

1. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has withdrawn the legislation that sparked the relentless, massive pro-democracy protests. We wonder, anxiously, what this drama’s next chapter will be. From our editorial:

It can be safely assumed that Ms. Lam makes no significant move without approval from Beijing. Why would Party leaders be willing to withdraw the bill? Perhaps they want calm — or less turbulence — in the lead-up to October 1, on which date the Party will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its dictatorship. Also, Party leaders may want to split the Hong Kong movement: Some elements will be satisfied with the withdrawal of the extradition bill; others will want more.

It seems that most do want more. The withdrawal of the bill might have been satisfactory a few months ago, but the movement has since broadened in scope. Protest leaders want an independent investigation of recent police abuses. They want amnesty for arrested protesters. They want Hong Kongers to have the right to elect legislators, and the chief executive herself, or himself.

Is that asking too much? In the context of the People’s Republic, almost certainly so. What will people on the Mainland think? If Hong Kongers have those privileges — rights — why not other Chinese?

Par-teee!

I want to encourage those of you who believe the Buckley Legacy is something very much worth protecting to join National Review Institute in Palm Beach this October 30 for the 2019 William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner, honoring Rush Limbaugh and Gay Gaines. The gala goes a long way towards helping NRI stand athwart the WFB legacy yelling, Enhance! So do think about being part of a certain-to-be super event. Get more information here.

Half a Score and Seven Links Ago

1. Kyle Smith, masquerading as the super-brainy Tom Nichols, expertly exposes an expert, the super-brainy Tom Nichols. From the parody:

Perhaps you’ve read my latest published piece in USA Today, an urgent plea for people to leave their shoes on when flying. I am a noted authoritarian — sorry, I meant authority! — on what other people are allowed to do when I’m nearby. This, too, is conservative. I keep a bust of Lenin on my desk in case I forget that the Kulaks can be liquidated if they get too uppity.

You may have noticed that I have many times urged Democrats not to compare Trump to Hitler, when I haven’t myself been comparing Trump to Hitler, saying he’s borrowing Hitler’s tactics, calling his voters Hitler lovers, saying Hitler would be pleased by Trump rallies, or predicting that the GOP will nominate Hitler next. Honestly, you folk of feeble minds don’t understand that when a true expert walks among you, showering the world with his golden wisdom to the tune of some 286,000 tweets, he will sometimes sound like what a person of lesser mentality might term a fool. They called Einstein a fool when . . . . I’m not sure when, but probably they did. You look it up. I’m busy.

What keeps me busy is telling everyone on Twitter that Trump is, like, a Russian asset or something. Sure, this has become harder for most people after the Mueller report kind of ruled that out, but when your brand is super-duper macho expert on all things, you can’t back down from things you said with so much manly confidence so many times. “Unfalsifiable proposition,” you say? Peabrain. I operate at a realm beyond the reach of your sissy logical fallacies. I could explain it to you, but your cranium would probably explode. (Cranium means brain.)

2. Michael Brendan Dougherty scores an act of liberal-journalism political activism (translation: twisting and torturing facts). This is the story of a tweet-contortionist — Bloomberg Law’s Ben Penn — and Trump nominee (Labor Department) Leif Olsen. From the piece:

Sometimes one suspects there is a problem of reading comprehension at work in cases like these. Certain reporters and outlets suffer from a rare form of colorblindness when it comes to conservatives who are being sarcastic or satirical. The fact-checking site Snopes has found it impossible to acknowledge that the Babylon Bee, a Christian satire news site, is, in fact, satire. Criticized for its apparent lack of common sense, Snopes has gone so far as to commission opinion surveys about paraphrased Babylon Bee stories to prove that people are mistaking its satire for real news. But of course paraphrases remove the satirical context, so any such survey is therefore useless. In other words, a fact-checking enterprise created fake news in order to justify treating obvious satire as deliberate fake news.

At other times — and this is one of them — clearly the motive is ideological hostility.

Earlier this year, New Statesman reporter George Eaton interviewed Roger Scruton on a number of topics. Scruton is a philosopher and conservative thinker of great renown, and he had been put on a government commission dedicated to the building of more beautiful public houses. Scruton had, at one time, been the wine critic of the left-leaning New Statesman. Eaton, having won the man’s trust, then butchered his quotes, put them in a different context, and created a social-media uproar that led to Scruton’s being sacked from his position.

3. Like Rodney Dangerfield with his kids, wife, and doctor, Jay Cost says the Constitution gets no respect from MSNBC young’un Chris Hayes. From the end of the piece:

I do not like it when the Constitution is attacked in this way, but not because the Constitution is perfect. It is far from perfect. Nobody understood that better than Madison, who was at first deeply frustrated by the finished product. Yet when he started to see the criticisms of it, he noticed that they were scattershot, parochial, and sometimes even contradictory. He realized that the choice facing the country was not between the Constitution and some other alternative, but between the Constitution and chaos leading toward disunion.

I think the same holds true today. We should respect the Constitution if for no other reason than that it may be the last thing still holding us together. Such respect does not necessitate that we blindly accept the institutions it bequeathed us as they are. But we should thoroughly understand it before we criticize it, because it deserves better than facile straw-man attacks — especially when, as in the case of the Electoral College, there are alternative remedies that could be pursued within its framework.

4. Andy McCarthy takes on Jerry Nadler and his Impeachment charade. From the piece:

Most of the impeachment quasi-action is in the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.). We have to qualify the word “action” because, while Nadler claims to be conducting an impeachment inquiry, his committee has never actually voted to have one.

This reflects the political needle Democrats cannot thread.

Their control of the House hinges on 41 seats that, after the 2018 victory, they hold in Trump-friendly districts. Constituents in those districts do not want Trump impeached. Even most of those opposed to Trump take the sensible position that he should be opposed at the ballot box, and the country spared a rabidly partisan, substantively scant, and inevitably futile removal effort. And because, unlike in 2018, the president will be on the ballot in 2020, the pro-Trump voters will be out in force. An unpopular impeachment push could spell electoral doom.

5. Neil Gorsuch — yeah, that guy — discusses why it ain’t a good thing to disregard the separation of powers. It affects real people, and he presents a number of such cases. From his essay:

Miguel Games-Perez. A federal prosecutor charged Mr. Games-Perez with “knowingly violat[ing]” a statute that makes it a crime to be (1) a felon and (2) in possession of a firearm. But the prosecutor failed to produce any evidence that Mr. Games-Perez knew he was a felon. In fact, at the time of his earlier conviction, the judge expressly (but erroneously) told Mr. Games-Perez that if he agreed to plead guilty (as he eventually did), he would leave the courtroom “not convicted of a felony.” Still, rather than concede its inability to prove an essential element of the crime charged, the federal government invited judges to rewrite the law. The statute would be a better one, the government essentially told the Tenth Circuit, if it required the prosecution to prove only that Mr. Games-Perez knew he was in possession of a firearm. My court, relying on circuit precedent I thought mistaken, agreed. And so Mr. Games-Perez was sent to federal prison for violating a “statute” effectively written by judges rather than legislators, one neither Mr. Games-Perez nor anyone else could have found and taken notice of in the United States Code before the conduct leading to his “offense.”

6. Madeleine Kearns shares some shero worship for the dying Magdalen Berns, a tough feminist who has been giving gender extremists fits. From the Corner post:

Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that a person’s value can be measured by their online presence. Nonetheless, Berns is a captivating and insightful speaker. And her YouTube channel — with over 30,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views — continues to be a great source of inspiration and clarity for those trying to resist gender extremism. At one point, she piqued the interest of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling who was subsequently attacked by activists for following Berns, a supposedly “proud YouTube transphobe,” on Twitter.

Berns has also exposed the bully-boy tactics of well-known gender extremists. For instance, as Berns lies dying, Rachel McKinnon — who won the women’s cycling world championship despite being a man — tweeted that Berns is “a trash human” and “maybe [should] live by the maxim whereby ‘Don’t be the sort of person who people you’ve harmed are happy you’re dying of brain cancer.’” McKinnon has previously attacked the tennis star Martina Navratilova for her views on men competing in women’s sports in similarly unpleasant terms.

Berns certainly pulls no punches on gender extremism. “You don’t get ‘assigned’ reproductive organs,” she says in one video, “males are defined by their biological sex organs. Likewise, homosexuals are people who are attracted to the same biological sex.” But she delivers her message with common decency and sense. Not to mention humor.

7. Kevin Williamson drops the remote to write a piece urging conservatives to watch more television (and less cable news). From his essay:

Margaret Thatcher famously insisted that the facts of life are conservative. Great art — even merely adequate popular art — begins with those facts of life and the timeless truths embedded in them. Hence a piece of highbrow television such as The Wire, which was created by a by-the-numbers progressive but could have been written by Charles Murray and Thomas Sowell and produced by the Manhattan Institute, exploring the serial failure of institutions (city government, labor unions, public schools, the media) in a largely black city with a Democratic monopoly on political power. The show’s creators did not intend to create a conservative critique of the failures of urban progressivism, but they could not help themselves.

The same phenomenon is observable all over our popular culture: Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy reimagining Batman as a kind of esoteric Straussian who (in a series beginning just a few years after 9/11) countenances torture and illegal extradition methods to protect a public that must be kept in the dark about how hard things get done, who faces off against an Eastern terrorist cult targeting New York City, an amped-up version of Occupy Wall Street, and, most famously and perhaps most immediately relevant, an unhappy loser who shows that he can shut down a city with “a couple of bullets.” Or consider Skyfall, with its Royal Doulton bulldog draped in the Union Jack, its conservative organizing principles (“Sometimes the old ways are the best”) and dramatic retreat to the family homestead, its unabashed invocation of “patriotism” and “love of country.” The Walking Dead ends up being an extended exploration of Mancur Olson’s “stationary bandit” and the tensions between democracy, the rule of law, and the practical necessities of physical security — with an ode to property rights and free trade thrown into the bargain. Breaking Bad was a reimagining of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a meditation on the seduction of evil, and it ends with the most forthright of confessions: “I did it for me. I did it because I liked it.” If a conservative social critic had tried to write a series about how to be an unhappy young woman, the result would have been something quite like Girls, or maybe Fleabag. The theme of Stranger Things is not so much “Winter is coming” but “Winter is already here, and always has been, if you know how to look.”

Why is it that our popular culture is at the moment so interested in such subjects as the problems of governance, democratic fragility, and institutional failure? Look around you.

8. More Williamson: He finds Joe Biden and his forked tongue unfit for POTUStry. From his piece:

Biden lies about matters great and small. He lies about his trip to Afghanistan. He lies about the death of his wife and daughter. He is wildly dishonest about his role in the Iraq War and the 1994 crime bill, landmark moments in his legislative career that later became political liabilities. And whatever the state of his brain today, he was not senile back in 1987, when he plagiarized the words of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock for his own speeches. Like his lies, his plagiarism is part of a lifelong habit: As recently as this year, he was filling out his policy papers with uncredited — stolen — material from advocacy groups.

The United States has become an empire of lies. We are governed by liars chosen on the basis of lies, and the worst partisans have begun openly to admire the lies, so long as they are skillfully constructed and delivered. The lowest among us enjoy being lied to and celebrate it. Entire political careers are based on lies — and policy initiatives, too.

But if not the serial liar Joe Biden, then whom will the Democrats choose? Elizabeth Warren, who has misrepresented her supposed Native American ancestry? Kamala Harris, who has lied about murder in order to serve her own political ends? Robert Francis O’Rourke, who cannot tell the truth for five minutes about basic and fundamental questions of public policy?

9. Frederick Hess profiles New York City’s crusade to dumb down education for smart kids by attacking gifted-student programs. Folks, this is socialism. From the beginning of the analysis:

America’s schools are today consumed by a push for “equity.” Unfortunately, it’s looking like some of those who claim to be champions for equity may be more focused on mounting an ideological campaign against educational excellence. Take last week’s development in New York City, where a panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to promote “diversity” issued a report that publicly called for the elimination of the city’s programs for gifted and talented students.

The 39-page report, by de Blasio’s hand-picked “School Diversity Advisory Group,” offers a stark reversal from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to expand choices for families by, in part, dramatically increasing the availability of programs for gifted and talented children ill-served by conventional classrooms. In New York City, students as young as four can register to take the gifted and talented assessment. Any student who scores above the threshold is eligible to apply for gifted programs.

Taking aim at gifted programs, the Advisory Group’s report thundered, “The existing use of screens and Gifted and Talented programs is unfair, unjust and not necessarily research-based. . . . These programs segregate students by race, class, abilities and language and perpetuate stereotypes about student potential and achievement.” The report called for the dropping of admissions screening tests on the grounds that they unfairly favor children whose families have more resources. The panel recommended phasing out the city’s gifted programs by placing a moratorium on new programs and not allowing existing ones to admit new students or to group by academic ability. It would bar programs from taking even student attendance into account when determining admissions.

10. The world will not abide a Moon with creepy crawly Tardigrades: Robert Zubrin reviews the . . . lunacy . . . of planet bossery and how that impedes exploration. From his piece:

At the core of the planetary protectionist prosecution’s case is the claim that delivering a milligram of dormant tardigrades to the Moon constituted “harmful contamination” of another world, which is forbidden by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. But this is nonsense, because while it is conceivable that the tardigrades might have survived the crash, and even remain revivable for several years on the Moon in dormant dehydrated form, they cannot metabolize there, as there is no liquid water on the lunar surface. So until and unless someone goes there and collects them and takes them into a lab for scientific study, they are just so much dust.

Moreover, the Beresheet mission was hardly the first time anyone delivered microorganisms to the Moon. In fact, the Apollo missions left not milligrams, but kilograms of live microbes on the Moon in bags of human feces. This was an intelligent thing to do, since by leaving wastes behind the astronauts were able to return with more Moon rocks, which, pound for pound, are worth a lot more on Earth than manure. But it wouldn’t matter if they hadn’t, because as soon as the astronauts opened the door of the Lunar Module, millions of microbes were released on to the lunar surface, millions more hitched rides outside on spacesuits, and billions more were sent back down after the Lunar Modules left behind in orbit eventually crashed onto the Moon. Furthermore, even if, at great expense, those releases could have been prevented by engineered solutions, it still would have been impossible to conduct the Apollo missions within planetary-protection guidelines since it could never have been guaranteed that the Lunar Module would not crash, an event that would have released microbes all over the landscape.

Monica Grady, a leading astrobiologist with the U.K.’s Open University at Milton Keynes, acknowledged this history, but commented, “You might say [planetary protection] was broken in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were there, which is true, but since then we’ve become much more aware of how we should preserve these planetary bodies.

11. WalMart gets woke. David French thinks the disease is here to stay. From his article:

Responding to the recent string of mass shootings — including one in a Walmart store in El Paso — the company announced that it was ending sales of handgun ammunition and ammunition for AR-style rifles. The company’s CEO also called for a debate on renewing an assault weapons ban and for strengthened background checks. Walmart had already largely stopped selling handguns and so-called “assault weapons,” and now a company born and bred in deep-red America was decisively breaking with the culture that was indispensable in making Walmart the mightiest retailer in the land.

Woke capital is here to stay, and Walmart proves it. At first glance, Walmart’s decision is mystifying. What’s next? NASCAR going all-Prius to save the planet? Even if you grant the reality that Walmart has grown far beyond its original red-state base, why would the company want to alienate half their customer base?

But that’s old America-style thinking. This is new America, and new America is in the grips of profound negative polarization. “Negative polarization” means, simply, that Americans who participate in politics are motivated more by distaste (more like disgust) for the other side than they are by any particular affection for their own. Indeed, affection for politicians on your own side is often dependent on the level of disgust they can display for your opposition.

12. Europe and the U.S., whatever their current antagonisms, needs to focus on strategic cooperation, especially, write Scott Cullinane and Dalibor Rohac, over one common threat: China. From the analysis:

As of late, European leaders have started responding in kind. Talk about Europe’s strategic autonomy is commonplace, and German chancellor Angela Merkel has, at least rhetorically, lumped the United States and China together as global rivals to Europe. The Trump presidency has played a salutary role to the extent to which it has provided an overdue geopolitical wake-up call to Europe. But the specific ways in which Europeans are responding to that wake-up call might well damage the partnership.

Yet whatever one thinks of the current U.S. administration, the interests of the United States and Europe are closely aligned on what is arguably the most important geopolitical issue of our age: China. In fact, they also coincide with the interests of other democracies affected by China’s behavior, such as South Korea, Japan, and Australia. All face the same set of challenges from an assertive China: industrial espionage and intellectual-property theft, mercantilist economic practices that are only rarely challenged at the World Trade Organization, and China’s increasingly aggressive military posture in Asia.

It is a paradox that at a time when the case for more coordination between democracies on questions of trade, energy diversification, regulating emerging technologies, promoting human rights, and other issues seems overwhelming, China has been successful in exploiting Western disunity. In Europe, the Chinese government ruthlessly targets the “weakest links” — Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic — to co-opt the political class through promises of cheap money in the form of infrastructure investment and business opportunities.

13. The Family — the five-part Netflix “docuseries” that intends to expose the Evangelical Right — doesn’t really expose all that much, says William Nardi. From the story:

Based on the book of the same title by Jeff Sharlet, the series is centered around a prominent behind-the-scenes player in the religious Right named Doug Coe, an ordained Presbyterian elder and lay minister who died in 2017. The stated goal of Coe’s organization, referred to as either “The Fellowship” or “The Family,” is to “make leaders Christians and to make Christians leaders.” Records from the group show that Coe wanted to ally Jesus’s flock with “wolf king” personalities for mutual gain. In a sermon, Coe even likened their group to a mafia and many of its members refer to it that way.

With Trump in the White House, the filmmakers portray the group as if it’s at the height of its power, well on the way to establishing a “New World Order.” The series builds as it investigates other figures associated with the group, trying to determine if there is a moral line that even they won’t cross.

Beginning with a group of young men being groomed for leadership positions at a Fellowship-owned estate, Sharlet says he joined them to learn about Christianity. Describing a lack of clear theology, and a strange cult-like devotion to Coe, Sharlet alleges that the group censured a former member who left to console his fiancée after she had been sexually assaulted.

14. Dep’t of 1619: Rich Lowry refuses to turn a blind eye to the project’s gaping problem with perspective, which might tarnish the goal of recasting the USA as a country founded on slavery. His piece, “Five Things They Don’t Tell You about Slavery,” is a must-read. From his analysis, here’s part of Number Three:

Islam was a great conveyor belt of slavery

“Long before the establishment of African slavery in the Americas,” James Walvin writes in his A Short History of Slavery, “Islamic societies were characterized by the widespread and generally unchallenged use of slavery. Indeed slavery was commonplace throughout Arabia well before the rise of Islam. But as Islam spread between the eighth and 15th centuries, and especially to black Africa, it extended and confirmed the commonplace use of slavery and slave trading.”

According to Walvin, Muslim slavers transported enslaved Africans across vast distances — via overland routes — “long before the European pioneers in the Americas began to consider the use of African slaves as laborers in the American settlements.” The routes across the Sahara, he adds, “survived from the seventh to the twentieth century, and millions of Africans were force-marched along them from their homelands to the slave markets to the north.”

This story is relevant to the nature of slavery in the Atlantic world. At first, slavery in the Muslim world wasn’t race-based, but that changed. Davis writes: “The Arabs and other Muslim converts were the first people to make use of literally millions of blacks from sub-Saharan Africa and to begin associating black Africans with the lowliest forms of bondage.”

15. More Kyle: He sings the praises of the new documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. From the review:

As she racked up platinum albums, Ronstadt never fully bought into the rock ethos. She hated the heels she was told to sing in, and kicked them off onstage. She couldn’t figure out what to wear, and settled on a Cub Scout outfit. Since she wasn’t a songwriter, some of the pressure was off her, but because she didn’t write the anthems of her generation, she never confused herself with a deity. All around her were people convinced that they were specially chosen, and they were all men. (Two of her backup musicians, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, got to like each other in the $12 motel rooms they stayed in while touring with her, and decided to form their own band.)

Seen in a 1977 interview in Malibu, Ronstadt offers an insightful tour d’horizon of the rock scene from a quizzical distance: “Rock and roll stars tend to end up isolating themselves more and more and more, thereby increasing their own feelings of alienation and anxiety,” she says. So they turn to drugs “and destroy themselves. It’s just very silly . . . they lose the ability to focus on themselves as a person, rather than as an image, and that’s very dangerous.” Yet everyone around them considers it their job to indulge every whim, which “weakens them as people and eventually it weakens them as musicians.” Five years after sharing these thoughts, she released her last rock album, Get Closer. “The nature of being a pop star,” she said, “is that you get these things that are successful and you have to sing them over and over and over again until they start sounding like your washing machine.”

16. Armond White comes out swinging for Bottom of the 9th. From the beginning of the review:

Bottom of the 9th comes to home video this week just as the new movie season begins. This second-chance paradox makes up for the neglect of film critics who failed to give the movie the attention that it deserved when Bottom of the 9th debuted. A rare, affecting baseball film, it’s also an unapologetic, unhip redemption tale — which is to say that the attempt of Sonny Stano (Joe Manganiello) to regain the baseball career he lost because of a youthful indiscretion depicts values that run counter to the behavior currently celebrated in our cynical culture.

Sonny’s predicament — and film critics’ general indifference to it — prove Bottom of the 9th’s special relevance. We see how Sonny, once a promising teenage baseball prospect, served a 20-year conviction for manslaughter, gets released and paroled, and then gradually recovers his love of the game, achieving a more mature sense of self.

Critics could have encouraged social consciousness and enticed viewers by comparing Sonny’s life to the Trump administration’s First Step Prison Reform. They didn’t. Ironically, the Trump bill (HR 6964) and its open-hearted White House signing ceremony received almost as little coverage from the #Resistance media as Bottom of the 9th itself did. But the film’s relevance goes deeper than politics.

17. Last but not least . . . WJ has given repeated short shrift to Brian Allen, the exceptional art critic. Now, if he had gone to the Museum of the Cat, you would not be reading about him today. But he rightly and recently went instead to the Museum of the Dog in NYC (at the American Kennel Club’s hq) and liked what he saw there (alas, the works of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge seem not to be up to his snuff). From the piece:

Anyone who has seen the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show — next to the Kentucky Derby, America’s oldest sports event — knows that the dog-breeding world is an intense one. Anyone who has seen the 2000 film Best in Show knows it’s idiosyncratic. Dog breeding is fascinating, with meticulous standards and aristocracies for every breed. Americans might not have a nobility but our dogs do, though the populist in all of us loves a happy, scrappy mutt.

The niche world of dog painters, until recently, was dominated by women. Starting in the 1860s, French art schools like the Académie Julian in Paris catered to women, and places like the Royal Academy in London and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts offered women’s classes. Professional success, though, was nearly inaccessible, undermined by prejudice and stereotypes. Dog painting was an exception. The field was not so much marginal as intimate and private. American and British middle-class culture embraced dogs as something more than, well, dogs. They were part of the formula for making domestic bliss, and domestic bliss was a woman’s jurisdiction. Female artists could find patrons when they painted portraits of babies but also of dogs.

Par-two-tee!

If you are pro-life, a fan of Rich Lowry, or a fan of Helen Alvaré, or of both, and in NYC on October 10, please do come to the Human Life Review’s Great Defender of Life Dinner.

And, Par-threee!

Intercollegiate Studies Institute (a close NR friend for over six decades — Bill Buckley was ISI’s first president!) is hosting its 14th Annual “Gala for Western Civilization” in Philadelphia on September 19. The honoree is Roger Scruton, who announced that he has been stricken with cancer and cannot attend — but in his place, to discuss the legendary conservative’s importance to political philosophy, with be our dear pal, NRI fellow John O’Sullivan, and philanthropist Rebekah Mercer. Do consider attending (ISI’s galas are always primo affairs). Get more information here.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Amir Taheri has guidance for Donald Trump about which Iranian leader is worth talking to, and not talking to (and it ain’t Rouhani). From his piece:

As early as 2004, both the British and the French saw Rouhani as the man capable of delivering what Rafsanjani and Khatami had promised but failed to deliver. The horse on which John Kerry put his bet was Muhammad-Javad Zarif, whose team of “New York Boys” provided Rouhani with a “liberal” varnish.

Western analysts and their imitators inside Iran missed two crucial points.

The first was that, like most revolutionary regimes, the Khomeinist outfit had no mechanism for reform in the direction desired by the Iranian middle classes and the Western powers. Thus, even if its leaders tried to introduce reforms they would be doomed to failure. Lenin tried that in the 1920s with his New Economic Policy (NEP) that, instead of liberalizing the Soviet system, produced Josef Stalin. Mao Zedong’s reform project, known as “The 100 Flowers,” morphed into the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, millions of deaths and further hardening of the Communist regime. Khomeini himself attempted a similar move with his 8-Points reform project in 1981, leading to mass executions in 1988. In the Islamic Republic, the number of executions and political prisoners has always risen under “reformist” presidents such as Khatami and Rouhani.

The second point Western powers ignore is that Iranians today are divided into two broad camps, obviously with subdivisions within each camp. One camp consists of those, perhaps even a majority today, who are disillusioned with the Islamic Revolution and seek ways of closing its chapter as soon as possible. The idea of “change within the regime” appeals to some among them but has never offered a credible political platform from which to attempt a seizure of power within the regime.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Nayeli Riano reflects on Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray’s important 1960 book, We Hold These Truths, and its continuing relevance. From the essay:

Murray’s work is hardly a tumbleweed of early-twentieth-century Catholic social thought. Though it initially helped to reconcile Catholicism and the religious pluralism that our nation champions, it is also a work that deals deeply with that taboo concept of today: patriotism. Not patriotism in the way we envision it, as pride in one’s country, but a patriotism that is locked in arms with a civic sense of duty and obligation to one’s country. This latter form of patriotism begs for a return to civic knowledge, even historical knowledge, that calls to mind the wisdom and uniqueness of the American Founding—and acts upon it to restore what I call the American civic psyche.

Murray is one writer whose work can begin to elucidate on the importance for this historical and civic patriotism, since only with this psyche are people from various backgrounds, faiths, and philosophies able to contribute to their nation’s mission without resorting to a form of “civil war.” He opens his work by reminding us that our Founding Fathers’ endeavor is not over. To paraphrase Murray, the United States of America, as it was “immortally asserted” by Lincoln, is dedicated to a proposition that sustains itself on the moral spirit of its people. In philosophic terms, a proposition needs to be demonstrated; in mathematics a proposition is often a statement of an operation to be performed. Thus, Murray wrote, “The American Proposition is at once doctrinal and practical, a theorem and a problem. It is an affirmation and also an intention. It presents itself as a coherent structure of thought that lays claim to intellectual assent; it also presents itself as an organized political project that aims at historical success.” From this assertion he concludes that “neither as a doctrine nor as a project is the American Proposition a finished thing.” We cannot take its historical success for granted.

3. At Reason, J.D. Tuccille says there is growing support among Americans for school choice. From the report:

As the father of a kid who has attended a charter school, was homeschooled for five years, and is now enrolled at a private high school, I have an obvious enthusiasm for education options beyond what’s offered by government schools. So, it pleases me to see that public support continues to grow for vouchers and tax credits that would help families pay tuition at independent schools, and for charter schools that enjoy a significant degree of independence while still being publicly funded.

Drawing on in-house polling, Harvard University’s EducationNext finds steadily rising support for both education options and public schools. But the data comes with interesting caveats that suggest affection for government schooling and its minions takes a hit the more people know.

“Support for school vouchers has shifted upward,” notes the organization, “and tax-credit scholarships along the lines proposed by the current administration now command the support of a sizable majority of adults.”

Vouchers make per-pupil funding portable so that families can use the money to pay tuition at schools of their choice. EducationNext asked respondents about both targeted vouchers, intended for low-income families, and universal vouchers usable by anybody; pollsters found increasing enthusiasm for both. Targeted vouchers win the support of 49 percent of those polled, with 55 percent supporting vouchers that would benefit all kids.

4. In The National Interest, Gordon Chang discusses what it will take for the U.S. to “win” a trade war with China. From his analysis:

Trump’s revolution has yet to succeed. It is hard to believe Chinese ruler Xi Jinping, who has made his admiration of Mao public, would ever accept fundamental economic reforms or even stop stealing. In these circumstances, therefore, decoupling makes sense.

Xi is the one who started decoupling with policies pushing foreign companies out of China, and now Trump is pulling them out with tariffs. Beijing and Washington, in what increasingly looks like a death match, are restructuring global trade.

Companies are moving factories out of China to avoid the “trade war”—each month brings additional prominent names fleeing Chinese soil—and at least at the moment, it is hard to see these businesses returning. “We’ve created high hurdles to get back to the way things were, and that means we’re probably not going to,” Scott Kennedy of Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Times. “I think the relationship now is essentially in free fall.”

The free fall worries many and angers policy elites, but an irreversible weakening of a predatory communist state looks like a good thing to everyone else. After all, why should the world help fund a Chinese system that is not compatible with the notions that underpin global commerce?

Market participants never like disruptive policies, but a reordering of global trade is now occurring and that will change history. That, for Donald John Trump, is what winning looks like.

5. At The College Fix, Anthony Kronman laments the decline of excellence at his old stomping grounds, Yale University. From his column:

In the late summer of 2015, the Yale Daily News carried a story that caught my attention.

Yale undergraduates live in residential units called “colleges.” The story reported that the “master” of one of these had decided to change his title on account of what he judged to be its offensive connotations. Some students had complained that it reminded them of the plantation culture of the Old South. The master of Pierson College sympathized with their complaints. He said he understood why black students in particular might be sensitive to the use of the term and that he wanted them to feel equally welcome at Yale, whose traditions retained many of the cultural trappings of the almost exclusively white, Anglo, male school that it had been for nearly all of its first three hundred years. To avoid even the possibility of giving offense to those who might associate his title with the racism and hierarchy of the antebellum South, the master of Pierson announced that in the future he would refer to himself not as a master but by some more neutral term instead . . .

The Pierson master who gave up his title could not possibly have thought that he might be confused with the owner of a Mississippi plantation. What really disturbed him, and his students, was not race but rank. It was the aristocratic implication, however slight, that men and women can be distinguished according to their success not in this or that particular endeavor—the study of computer science, for example, or Greek philosophy—but in the all-inclusive work of being human. This idea has been accepted by many cultures of the most varied sorts. It has been joined with other beliefs, some pernicious and others benign. But at the most basic level, it runs against the grain of America’s democratic civilization. It seems—it is—antidemocratic. Any institution that embraces the idea of aristocracy, even in the most modest and qualified terms, therefore puts itself at odds with our civilization as a whole.

6. There are many worse things than being a sucker for anything written by Helen Andrews, who in the most recent First Things pens a review of a new book, The Socialist Manifesto. From her review:

In the spring of 2019, even the staid old AFL-CIO began to dabble in guillotine imagery. The occasion was a dispute between Delta and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The airline had issued a flier reading: “Union dues cost around $700 a year. A new ­video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union.” The AFL-CIO responded by tweeting an image of a flier reading: “A guillotine only costs $1200 to build. Delta’s CEO made $13.2 million dollars last year. Get outside with your buddies, share some brews—sounds like fun.” Five days after sharing the guillotine meme, the AFL-CIO posted a video in which a self-described “marxist, roofer” gives a two-minute lecture about class and exploitation, which it tweeted with the comment: “We all need to seize the means of production.”

Bhaskar Sunkara has written a manifesto for our socialist moment, a moment he did much to create as founder of Jacobin magazine. He has not entirely succeeded in capturing the spirit of his influential quarterly between hardback covers, partly because so much of the Jacobin experience is visual. Its signature style is an eye-catching cross between an IKEA catalogue and a Brian Eno album cover. The front of the Spring 2019 issue, about the housing crisis, looks like a page of futuristic real estate listings with descriptions like “[rose emoji] comrade citizens [rose emoji] register for summer beach house cozy & sunny” and “public pool ~~~gym [arm emoji] newly expropriated.”

Sunkara preserves this whimsicality in his book’s first and most ambitious chapter, “A Day in the Life of a Socialist Citizen,” a vision of our cooperative future through the eyes of a worker at a pasta sauce plant owned by Jon Bon Jovi’s family. He describes two alternatives to capitalism. The first is a Nordic-style social democracy in which you, our factory worker, enjoy a cradle-to-grave welfare state, and “even though having children isn’t for you”—Sunkara knows his audience—you “look forward to your frequent vacations.” The second alternative is democratic socialism, which differs from social democracy in featuring worker control of firms and government control of investment. The rest of the book is a breezy tour of the history of socialism from Engels to the present day, in which Sunkara dials down the playfulness, though perhaps not enough in his chapter on “Iron ­Felix” Dzerzhinsky.

Baseballery

Sixty years ago this coming week, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ ace reliever and forkball expert, Elroy Face, saw his spotless 17–0 record finally give way to the odds: On September 11, during a Friday night game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, in relief for starter Bob Friend, he couldn’t hold a 4–3 lead, giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth. It was his only loss of the season (indeed, counting his 1958 record, Face had 22 consecutive wins, and his defeat at the hands of the Dodgers was his first in 99 appearances), which Face finished with a historic 18–1 record, a 2.70 ERA, and 10 saves in 57 games.

Despite the record, Face considered his performance in the following season superior: In a league-leading 68 appearances, he registered 24 saves. Three of those were three of the Pirates’ four wins in the dramatic 1960 World Series, the Bucs’ first World Championship since 1925 (Face’s best season was 1962, when he led the league with 28 saves and had an ERA of 1.88).

Stumbling upon the sole 1959 loss, it was registered as a blown save, and it turns out Face had nine of those over the season, although four of them were “blown wins.” All of which got this pea brain thinking: Who had the most blown saves in a single season? Turns out five hurlers have tied with 16. The first to earn that ignominious distinction was Gerry Staley, a one-time ace of the Cardinals’ staff (he was 18–9 in 1953) who also had a stellar season in 1959: By then a reliever for the Chicago White Sox, he helped them take the AL pennant with a league-leading 15 saves (he added one in the World Series against the Dodgers, but also gave up a tie-breaking homer to Gil Hodges to lose the must-win Game Four).

Staley’s blown anti-heroics came the next year, when he chalked up an excellent 13–8 record for the Sox, plus 9 saves. But in the blown category: There were 16, two of which were blown losses. Not all the blown news was bad though: Staley did register four blown wins.

Back to Face and the epic 1960 World Series and Game Seven: Three men — Face, his teammate Harvey Haddix, and Yankees reliever Jim Coates — all blew saves in that contest. But Haddix ended up with a blown win, even though the Bronx Bombers touched him for two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Which, as The Bronx knows, was untied by Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the frame with his famous lead-off walk-off homer.

A Dios

God grant me humility (you’d think I’d have it already given the puss staring back at me from the mirror every morning!). And God grant all of you who need solace, solace, who need wisdom, wisdom, who need strength, strength, and who need your necks unstiffened . . . unstiffeningness.

The Blessings and Bounteousness of the Almighty on You and All Those You Love and Cherish,

Jack Fowler, who can be reached with diet suggestions at jfowler@nationalreview.com either before or after he breaks the scale.

National Review

Bricka Bracka Firecracka Sis Boom Bah!

Dear Weekend Joltarian,

The huts of August are once again heard bowling across the fruited plains, as modern Galloping Ghosts and Horsemen and Blocks of Granite take to the gridiron while beer-besotted and bratwurst-engorged fans and alumni straggle into coliseums and stadia midway through the first quarter, leaving behind exhausted tailgates and heaps of redeemable cans.

College football has commenced, and the pros are set for this coming week (Thursday night, the Packers and Bears: Green Bay leads this historic series, 97–95–6). Yours Truly will likely take another knee this season when it comes to watching, exhausted by the ongoing disrespect shown to Old Glory by virtue-signaling millionaires and free-ride undergrads. Still, the game is a cultural colossus.

And a cause for concerns. The brutality of it all has caused the great Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, to pack it in, an old man at 29. The news came, unexpected, and crushing. Jim Geraghty, WJ’s godfather and a man who always has pigskin on the brain, reflected. From his piece:

Right now, all over the greater Indianapolis area, there are children with Luck jerseys, who watch every game aired before bedtime, with tears in their eyes. Say it ain’t true, Andrew. They don’t realize it now, but in a generation they’ll be telling their kids about the times they watched Luck engineer an amazing game-winning drive. Sometime in autumn 2044, they’ll be watching the 8D VR holo-projection of the Indianapolis Colts against the London Beefeaters, telling their children, “You kids think Rod Schmidlap is good, and he is, but you guys should have seen Andrew Luck in his prime!”

But this is why people watch sports; it doesn’t stick to a prearranged script. (Fox Sports used to promote its baseball postseason coverage with the line “You can’t script October.”) Defeat and disappointment are inevitable, even in the most illustrious careers. Just as it is better to have loved and lost that never to have loved at all, it is better to enjoy those thrilling moments of victory and excellence, even when you know that it could all end with a sudden injury.

Meanwhile and related, there is a big push to reform college sports — isn’t there always? Maybe there should be. More below . . . on this and so much else that constitutes the Labor Day Weekend edition of the missive you surely read for penance. This one was compiled in stolen bits from the NR Canada / New England Cruise, crafted mostly in the Crow’s Nest, and submitted early because, well, Yours Truly is getting good interwebs service in Nova Scotia.

And now, before we get to all the meat and potatoes, as a service to our readers, we share our favorite stadium chant, courtesy of Mr. B. Bunny.

Editorials

We remain unimpressed with the President’s trade warring and concerned about its possible consequences to America’s economy. From the editorial:

The tariffs — along with the uncertainty created by the trade war — are obviously one reason that there are warning signs of rough economic waters ahead, including major downward revisions to recent job-creation estimates. Xi can see this as easily as anyone else. The Chinese economy is more vulnerable to the trade war than ours, and is sustaining more damage, but Xi isn’t running for reelection in 2020. Only Trump is.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Chinese have been completely recalcitrant and acted in bad faith, across the decades and during these negotiations. It wasn’t Trump who ripped up on almost-completed agreement earlier this year, but the Chinese. They struck what would have been all the meaningful constraints on their behavior and put the two counties back on a collision course.

That said, there are all sorts of ways, besides tariffs, to pressure the Chinese. We could cooperate more closely with others in the region, including by reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We could put a higher priority on concluding free-trade agreements with Japan and Britain. We could bring more cases against China through the World Trade Organization. We could use rifle-shot retaliation against specific instances of Chinese cheating. We could limit Chinese access to our financial markets and our schools. None of this would be as thunderous as announcements of new tariffs, but it’d be more sustainable and likely more effective over the long term.

Lookie Lookie at All These Tasty Goodies – Lookies Like 18! – in the NRO Pantry

1. Chart-o-philic Dan McLaughlin, looking at the stats, answers NO to the question, will the 2020 presidential election be a squeaker, and includes a terrific history lesson on America’s dozen close races, which he ranks. Pick a number, any number . . . here’s Number 3:

Gerald Ford (R), 1976: Lost

Popular vote: 48.0 percent (lost by 2.07 percent)

Electoral vote: 240–297 (44.6 percent)

The only president never elected president or vice president, Gerald Ford lost a surprisingly close race in 1976 to Democratic former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter. Ford would have won the election if he had swung either New York (which he lost by 4.42 percent after controversially refusing to bail out New York City’s fiscal crisis) or a combination of Ohio (Carter by 0.27 percent) and either Wisconsin (Carter by 1.68 percent) or Mississippi (Carter by 1.88 percent). Then again, Ford also won six states by less than 1.5 percent, ten states by less than 2.5 percent. It was a highly competitive race at the end across a broad field of states.

Ford served as vice president for only nine months and had been president for just over two years entering the fall of 1976, during which time he weathered a pair of assassination attempts. He faced a battery of factors working against him, including high inflation, the hangover from Watergate and his controversial pardon of Richard Nixon, and the collapse of South Vietnam. Carter swept the South outside of Virginia, the last time the region united behind a Democrat. Carter benefited from the youth vote, as the oldest Baby Boomers turned 30 in 1976; since the beginning of exit polling, Ford and Mitt Romney in 2012 are the only candidates to win voters age 30 and up and still lose the election.

Ford also suffered the most bitterly contested primary challenge ever mounted against a sitting president, with Ronald Reagan winning 11 of the 28 primaries, 46 percent of the vote, and 47 percent of the convention delegates. Reagan’s conservative revolt captured most of the South and West; Ford would go on to lose nine states in the general election that Reagan had carried in the primaries: Texas (26 electoral votes), North Carolina (13), Missouri (12), Georgia (12), Louisiana (10), Minnesota (10), Alabama (9), South Carolina (8), and Arkansas (6). The nomination remained in doubt all the way to the convention in mid August. Ford, for his part, had to replace his disgruntled liberal vice president, former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, with Kansas senator Bob Dole, seen then as a more conservative, western voice. Reagan in his electrifying impromptu speech at the convention formally buried the hatchet, but simultaneously convinced most of the audience that the party had nominated the wrong man.

2. John Hood thinks the “new nationalists” are making three big and speculative bets. From his essay:

Although Meyer’s “fusionism” didn’t produce a true fusion of disparate elements into a single new philosophical compound, it did provide the intellectual container for a political movement that challenged progressives and populists alike who sought to expand the size, cost, and intrusiveness of American government. Was the modern conservative movement always or entirely successful? Of course not. But it arrested government encroachments in some areas and rolled them back in others.

Now, such fusionist thinking is derided as outmoded, incoherent, ineffective, and self-destructive. So-called liberaltarians argue that the natural political and intellectual home of the classical liberal lies with the modern American liberal, the left-wing progressive with whom the libertarian supposedly shares the common values of equality and tolerance. And the new nationalists argue that the future of conservatism lies with populist economics, and with a passionate embrace of the nation-state as the organizing principle of political engagement and civil government.

It is a dramatic moment. Many Americans are frustrated — I get that. I am, too. And trying to fashion new political alliances and institutions must surely be tempting and exhilarating. But I believe both liberaltarianism and conservative nationalism to be doomed enterprises.

3. There it goes. Out of the park. That’s where Andy McCarthy knocks this piece, assessing what kind of justice canned FBI fibmeister Andrew McCabe helped preclude, and what kind he surely deserves. From the piece:

In the Obama Justice Department — as extended by the Mueller investigation, staffed by Obama Justice Department officials and other Clinton-friendly Democrats — justice was dispensed with a partisan eye. If you were Hillary Clinton, you skated. If you were Donald Trump, they were determined to dig until they found something — and, even when they failed to make a case, the digging never stopped . . . it just shifted to Capitol Hill.

No one knows the skewed lay of the land better than Andrew McCabe.

The FBI’s former deputy director is in the Justice Department’s crosshairs. His lawyers are reportedly pleading with top officials not to indict him for lying to FBI agents who were probing a leak of investigative information, orchestrated by none other than McCabe.

McCabe is feeling the heat because the evidence that he made false statements is daunting. So daunting, in fact, that even he concedes he did not tell the truth to investigators. Listen carefully to what he says about the case — there being no shortage of public commentary on it from the newly minted CNN analyst. He never “deliberately misled anyone,” he insists. Sure, he grudgingly admits, some of his statements “were not fully accurate,” or perhaps were “misunderstood” by his interrogators. But “at worst,” you see, “I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted.”

Uh-huh.

4. More Andy: He’s not a big fan of conducting foreign policy and making formal executive decisions by Twitter. From his analysis:

I doubt the president can “hereby order” anything on Twitter, even an order he has the constitutional authority to issue. There is doubt about whether the tweets even qualify as presidential records. I’m not a stickler on form; I suspect, though, that something more formal is required before the chief executive can truly be said to have executed an order.

That said, it is surprising to see such dismissive commentary about the president’s legal authority to issue directives to companies doing international business.

Now don’t get me wrong. As I tried to make clear in connection with Trump’s repurposing (for border-wall construction) of funds allocated by Congress, I do not believe a president should have legislative powers — at least in the absence of a true national-security emergency, such as an imminent attack. Alas, my druthers are beside the point.

The Constitution expressly empowers Congress to regulate foreign commerce. It is a legacy of 20th-century progressives’ erosion of the Constitution’s separation of powers that Congress has delegated much of its authority to the chief executive and a sprawl of administrative agencies.

5. Global-warming virtue signalers preened before the G-7 Summit but, once on the scene, flopped on “climate action.” Me-first nationalism prevailed, aided by The Donald’s nose-thumbing, says Robert Bryce. From his piece:

Now let’s look at the U.S., which has cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by a total of 600 million tons since 2008. For comparison, Germany has cut its emissions by about 100 million tons and the United Kingdom has cut its emissions by 169 million tons. To be clear, per capita emissions in the U.S. are far higher than they are in Germany and the U.K.; Americans drive more and live in bigger houses than their European counterparts. Nevertheless, the drop in overall U.S. emissions is nearly as large as what was achieved in all of Europe over the past decade (756 million tons).

Furthermore, the reductions in U.S. emissions were largely due not to government mandates but to the shale revolution. Over the past decade, thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, domestic natural-gas production has nearly doubled. The surge in production has encouraged U.S. electricity producers to shutter coal plants and replace them with ones fueled by natural gas. The result is that in 2018, U.S. coal consumption was at its lowest level since the 1970s. It appears that domestic coal consumption will continue falling over the next few years as lower-cost gas continues to displace coal.

6. Ox-goring: Rich Lowry tells the New York Times to stop whining about the efforts by Trump allies to unearth stupid tweets from Times employees and other journalists dogging the president. From his column:

A spokesman for CNN went further, saying that when government officials, “and those working on their behalf, threaten and retaliate against reporters as a means of suppression, it’s a clear abandonment of democracy for something very dangerous.”

MSNBC host Joy Reid tweeted (then deleted), “Welcome to the age of digital brownshirtism.”

This is the usual hysteria yoked to the usual foggy thinking. The First Amendment is an important protection of press freedom. Yet nothing in it protects members of the press from criticism, let alone criticism over things they have written. Such criticisms are exercises of free speech in response to other exercises of free speech — i.e., public debate.

If the Times and others don’t like the weaponization of foolhardy and untoward social-media postings, they can start pushing back against it across the board.

The left-wing organization Media Matters for America exists to publicize (allegedly) controversial statements by conservative media figures toward the end of getting them fired or ushered off the air. If recirculating the past tweets of employees of liberal news organizations is undemocratic, why isn’t the work of Media Matters also dangerously authoritarian?

7. Michael Gibson says if the tech whizzes and their venture funders have trouble figuring out complex things such as driverless cars, what can we expect of government bureaucrats dabbling in industrial policy. From the beginning of his piece:

The idea that the government might successfully support and steer innovation is making a comeback as wonks both left and right show a renewed interest in “industrial policy.” But faceless functionaries steering anything from D.C. should terrify us all. Even the most credible, savvy venture capitalists and entrepreneurs fail at an astonishing rate. Why would a bureaucrat with a ton of money do better?

To see how difficult it is to push the frontier, take the coming wave of innovation in the auto industry.

Over the past three years now, I have watched from my perch at the corner of Broadway and Front Street in San Francisco as a small fleet of SUVs suffers the most dreadful punishment outside my office window. Circling and circling, sometimes farther and sometimes closer, but always coming back like two-ton boomerangs, these SUVs have taken the same routes around the same city blocks, every day, day after day.

8. David Bahnsen calls out Business Roundtable weinies for the dishonest statement rendered last week that seeks to redefine the purpose of a corporation as policy gobbledygook. From the article:

One of my least favorite expressions in the public square is a successful businessperson or successful athlete referring to their desire to “give back” to their community, usually in publicly and loudly announcing a charitable donation they are making (perhaps a new statement on Matthew 6:4 is in order, but I digress). I am quite a big fan of philanthropy and view it as a vital component of civil society. But one cannot “give back” unless he first received something, and the implication in that well-meaning vocabulary is that one is returning something he took. The language matters. Sharing the fruits of your hard work is laudable and noble, for the very reason that you are voluntarily and sacrificially releasing what is yours, not returning what is not yours.

The language of the Business Roundtable’s release is problematic in the same way. The delivery of value to customers is, at its core, the source of profit-making activities in a business. Big bad shareholders do not benefit without profits, and profits do not exist without customers, and customers do not exist without, voilà — value! This axiomatic truth is the textbook definition of free markets — the alignment of interests embedded in the profit motive, where service of others paradoxically drives a better result for oneself.

RELATED: David — the Apostle of Dividends — recently had a great appearance on Steve Forbes’ popular “What’s Ahead” podcast. Listen to it here.

9. The new Netflix gig by used-to-be funnyman David Chappelle is about defending Michael Jackson and abortion and more. Kyle Smith says plenty of marks are missed. From his review:

If there weren’t an audience primed to laugh at everything Chappelle says in his new set — people even chuckle at his mention of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide — the act would probably be better described as a monologue than a standup routine. Chappelle is a thoughtful guy and he no longer has to worry about whether there’s a laugh every 30 seconds. Even so, he comes across as more aggrieved than funny in a bit on how Kevin Hart was dumped as an Oscar host for having written homophobic tweets many years previously. I expected Chappelle to deliver more on the subject, especially given the thunderous denunciation he gives his audience near the start of the show: “Y’all n*****s is the worst motherf*****s I’ve ever tried to entertain in my f***ing life. Goddamn sick of it. This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity.”

Even in his best bits, as when he mocks Jussie Smollett’s ludicrous hate-crime story, the material isn’t as strong as you’d have expected. Chappelle says that when Smollett first reported his claims, “African Americans, we were like oddly quiet. . . . The gay community started accusing the African American community of being homophobic for not supporting him. What they didn’t understand is that we were supporting him with our silence. Because we understood that this n***** was clearly lying.” That seems a bit off; Al Sharpton and many other prominent black Americans publicly backed Smollett. The dividing line was between the crusading social-justice types and those who dismiss identity politics as a power play.

10. The New York Times’ “1619 Project” relies on the failed Confederate economic theory of “King Cotton,” says Philip Magness. From the outset of his essay:

‘I say that cotton is king, and that he waves his scepter not only over these 33 states, but over the island of Great Britain and over continental Europe!” So thundered Senator Louis T. Wigfall of Texas in December 1860, as an intended warning to those who doubted the economic viability of secessionism. Like many southerners, Wigfall subscribed to the “King Cotton” thesis: the belief that slave-produced cotton commanded a controlling position over the American economy and indeed the world’s commercial engines. Developed in the 1850s by political economist David Christy and championed by the radical pro-slavery politician James Henry Hammond, that argument was to be the nascent Confederacy’s trump card — an engine of global wealth in which all other economic activities were intertwined. Indeed, no nation would dare make war upon plantation slavery, for if the South suspended its production, in the words of Hammond, “we could bring the whole world to our feet.”

The strategy failed. The secessionists effectively self-embargoed what remained of their export crop in the wake of the war’s physical destruction and the Union’s blockade, and attempts to draw the European powers into the war on the Confederacy’s behalf were unsuccessful. King Cotton, in practice, proved nothing more than part self-delusion and part racist propaganda to rationalize the supposed economic necessity of chattel slavery. Modern empirical analysis has similarly debunked its claims: As Harvard economist Nathan Nunn has demonstrated, a strong negative relationship exists between the historical existence of slavery in a county or state and its level of income, persisting to the present day.

Yet despite its historical untenability, the economic reasoning behind King Cotton has undergone a surprising — perhaps unwitting — rehabilitation through a modern genre of scholarly works known as the new history of capitalism (NHC). While NHC historians reject the pro-slavery thrust of Wigfall and Hammond’s bluster, they recast slave-produced cotton as “not just as an integral part of American capitalism, but . . . its very essence,” to quote Harvard’s Sven Beckert. Cornell historian Ed Baptist goes even further, describing slavery as the indispensable causal driver behind America’s wealth today. Cotton production, he contends, was “absolutely necessary” for the Western world to break the “10,000-year Malthusian cycle of agriculture.”

11. More on NYT’s 1619: Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on the project’s packaging and the usual suspects’ strident defenses of it. From his reflection:

Conservatives have not been caught dumbfounded by the 1619 Project, dropping their picture books of George Washington and his cherry tree, mouths agape at the idea that the journey of black Americans from enslavement, to emancipation, and through Jim Crow and civil rights is central to the American story. We merely stand against the revisionists in emphasizing a fundamental conflict, rather than congruence, between the Revolutionary generation’s work in our founding charter and ideals and the reality of slavery. This is reflected in some of that generation’s personal and political hypocrisy regarding slavery, almost universally recognized. And it was expressed almost immediately in the growing political conflict over slavery and the attempted exit of the Slave Power from the United States. Some historians also object the project’s reliance on a distorting school of anti-capitalist history.

If the aim is to tell the history of our country “truthfully” for the first time, we have to include everyone and everything and seek the right proportion. The 1619 Project has something to offer. It fails when it falls into mere generalities and convenient elisions.

12. Max Eden scores NYC’s allegedly “value neutral” curriculum — dubbed “Social and Emotional Learning” — that is anything but. From his piece:

SEL isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Schools have always been in the business of character education. And as University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene pointed out, there is a nearly one-to-one match between the classical virtues and the “competencies” outlined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): “prudence” is rendered as “responsible decision-making,” “temperance” as “self-management,” etc.

So, why not simply assign students William J. Bennet’s The Book of Virtues? Because, as SEL advocates will privately admit, progressive pedagogues can’t abide the word “virtue.” Too conservative, too wrapped up in the idea of human nature and teleological ends.

SEL is an effort to promote means shorn of ends, to stress value-neutral methodological “competencies” while remaining outwardly agnostic about the particular or universal good toward which those competencies are directed. Because promoting a value-neutral notion of human conduct is itself a value-laden enterprise, the confused result is a technique-driven approach to social and emotional engineering that teeters between ideologies of relativism and progressivism.

13. Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Mary Eberstadt about her important new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. From the interview:

Kathryn Jean Lopez: At one point in the book, you write: “The crisis over identity is part and parcel of a larger unraveling. . . . Foreboding saturates the politics and societies of the West today. . . . It is not impossible to hear in today’s secular jeremiads a displaced panic for a pandemic no one saw coming: the diminution of the human story itself.” How is that not overly dramatic, and if it’s not overly dramatic, well, shouldn’t we panic?

Mary Eberstadt: Sometimes the truth is dramatic. Ours is one of those times.

As chapter two of Primal Screams spells out, we’re now surrounded by evidence that something about the way we live has run amok. Psychiatric problems are rising, life expectancy is falling, and many people in public life are at each other’s throats. So-called “loneliness studies” have become a fixture of sociology not only in the United States, but across all of the materially advanced nations. There’s also new evidence that loneliness has exploded at the other end of time’s telescope — among the young. And of course there is multiplying confusion of all sorts related to gender identity, ethnic identity, and much more.

In other words, we live in a time when a great many people are struggling to answer the most basic human question, “Who am I?” How did it ever come to pass that so many of us don’t even know who we are? It’s hard to think of a more dramatic turn of events than that existential erasure. I wanted to address that confusion, to see what’s really driving it.

Lopez: What does the sexual revolution have to do with identity politics?

Eberstadt: A lot. In part, it’s simple arithmetic. Think of all the post-revolutionary phenomena that are quotidian facts of life. Abortion, fatherlessness, divorce, single parenthood, childlessness, the shrinking family, the shrinking extended family: Every one of these developments has the effect of reducing the number of people whom we can call our own. And since we are relational creatures, the result is a great vacuum. That’s a lot of what the increasingly panicked flight to collective identities is about.

14. Exposing Iran’s in-the-shadows tactics is Israel’s intentional strategy in dealing with Tehran, writes Seth J. Frantzman. From his analysis:

What is Israel’s strategy in all this? The goal is to draw Iran and its allies out of the shadows. Over the past decade, inflamed by the 2015 Iran deal, Tehran has increased its weapons transfers to Hezbollah, sent thousands of advisers to support the Syrian regime, and helped mobilize a network of militias in Iraq. Some of this was used to fight ISIS, or enemies of Bashar al-Assad. But with the ISIS war and Syrian conflict winding down, these groups are turning their threats toward Iran’s adversaries. Tehran is obsessed with destroying Israel, as can be seen in its frequent statements and militaristic parades. It has launched drones from Syria into Israel in February 2018, rockets in May 2018, and a rocket in January 2019. Hezbollah threatens that its 150,000 rockets can strike all of Israel.

Air strikes on Iran’s network of proxies force the network out of the shadows. It can’t hide in villas in southern Syria, or launch drones at night, or stockpile ballistic missiles in Iraq if it is looking over its shoulder and increasingly making mistakes through its aggressive and open threats. Iran is used to playing a double game of moderates and hard-liners, sending its smiling foreign minister to the recent G7 while boasting of its allies’ drone technology striking Saudi Arabia.

15. The Left’s push to delegitimize the Constitution (well, some hard-right Catholics are into this too) as an act of slavery permission is addressed by John Hirschauer in his take on an important book. From the beginning of his piece:

Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s 2018 book No Property in Man is a sober account of the relationship between the United States Constitution and slavery. The book readily acknowledges that it was a relationship marred by hypocrisy and half-measures; “the Constitution’s proslavery features,” Wilentz concedes, “were substantial.” But he asserts that it was the antislavery delegates at the Constitutional Convention — from avowed abolitionists to pragmatic incrementalists — who sketched a path for future abolitionists to eliminate slavery altogether.

That the book stops short of endorsing William Lloyd Garrison’s view of an irredeemable Constitution, “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,” has been sufficient for younger historians to question its author’s credibility. In his review of No Property in Man, Nicholas Guyatt, once a student of Wilentz’s at Princeton, accused his former professor of being primarily interested in “politics rather than history.” Guyatt claimed that Wilentz’s book “has a narrow understanding of antislavery politics, focused principally on Congress and debates among white elites” rather than those “who struggled to establish pathways out of slavery via the Underground Railroad” or others more directly impacted by the economy of human bondage. That Wilentz’s book is explicitly an examination of the antislavery politics of Congress, which necessarily involved exploring “debates among white elites,” is never considered. Ultimately, Guyatt claims, Fredrick Douglass and others were “acting not as historians, but as activists” when they expressed an antislavery constitutionalism. “Wilentz, while approaching us as the former,” Guyatt laments, “is as much the latter as any of his subjects.”

This, and other critical reviews like it, give short shrift to Wilentz’s treatment of the fraught relationship between slavery and the Constitution. His is a balanced case: While he resists the impulse to exonerate the Founders, who granted key concessions to pro-slavery southern delegates that fortified the practice of chattel slavery, he likewise rejects Garrison and his modern exponents who would deem the Constitution exclusively pro-slavery. By refusing to codify the notion of “property in man” in the Constitution, Wilentz argues, the Framers left open the possibility that a future Congress would abolish the practice outright, though they themselves had neither the votes nor the fortitude to do.

16. We are spending our grandchildren’s money, warns Michael Tanner. A reminder that never gets old. A snippet of his piece:

“Oh Lord, give me chastity,” St. Augustine is reputed to have said. “But don’t give it yet.” So it is with Republicans who have vowed to show some fiscal discipline — sometime during President Trump’s second term.

But while we are waiting, the Congressional Budget Office has announced that this year’s budget deficit will top $960 billion, $63 billion more than predicted in May of this year. And next year’s deficit will almost certainly exceed it. After that, the era of trillion-dollar deficits is here to stay. By 2029, CBO reports our $22 trillion national debt will top around $34 trillion.

President Trump may accomplish the truly Herculean feat of becoming a bigger deficit spender than President Obama. And he’ll do it without a catastrophic recession to deal with.

How did we get here? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it wasn’t the Republican tax cut. In fact, when compared to 2018, tax revenues went up 3 percent in the first nine months of fiscal year 2019. Would they be even higher in the absence of those cuts? Maybe. But the real problem, as usual, is out-of-control spending.

17. Jed Rubenfeld is open to regulating Big Tech, but isn’t cool with the idea of busting them up as monopolies. From his article:

No matter the motivation, it’s a terrible idea.

The incompetence, inflexibility, lack of creativity, short-termism, capture, and corruption endemic to government-controlled projects bode poorly for the shape-shifting Internet, where innovation is crucial and new technologies emerge every week. Bureaucrats can’t get high-speed rail to America; our public schools are among the worst-performing in the world, measured in dollars per outcome; our infrastructure is crumbling nationwide. Do we really want the Internet run by government too? As Nobel-prize-winning economist Jean Tirole points out, the classic public utilities (railroads, electricity) involved technologies that changed relatively slowly for long periods; with the Internet, government intervention is likely to be “obsolete by the time it is implemented.”

The public-utility model didn’t even work for AT&T — which managed to overcharge consumers anyway, and which leveraged its monopoly on the telephone wires into predatory control over new products and services. Which brings us to the second much-advocated strategy for reining in Facebook and Google: using antitrust law to break them up, as AT&T was finally broken up in the 1980s.

If the goal is protecting privacy and speech, this is another poor idea. To begin with, it’s not clear that even the biggest Internet behemoths are actually illegal monopolies (as opposed to just very successful businesses), so this strategy is guaranteed to be fought in court for years and years, wasting resources, paralyzing the industry, and possibly failing in the end. Second, one thing you can’t say about Facebook and Google is that they overcharge consumers (at least in money). Finally, the AT&T break-up, complex though it was, was relatively easy to operationalize through regional segmentation, which doesn’t work online. Having ten regional Facebooks makes no sense at all, and no one is seriously proposing it. Instead, the most popular idea is to hive off functionally separable platforms, like Instagram from Facebook, or YouTube from Google, or to prevent platforms such as Amazon from offering their own products. This might help combat the sheer size and power of Big Tech and limit some anticompetitive practices, but apart from potentially reducing cross-platform data aggregation, an antitrust break-up would leave the core businesses intact and leave the core problems of privacy and speech unsolved.

18. Armond White finds Blinded by the Light to be over-caffeinated wokeness. From the beginning of his review:

In Blinded by the Light, a Pakistani-British teenager, played by Viveik Kalra, becomes a Bruce Springsteen fanatic. The supposed irony of a brown-skinned kid’s hero worship is so shallow that it’s insulting — part of the Great Awokening, the cultural hoodwink already seen in Black Panther and Into the Spider-Verse.

Although set in the Eighties, this saccharine film misrepresents the contemporary phenomenon of celebrity-worship as a means of political complacency (extract Springsteen, insert Beyoncé, Jay-Z, or Taylor Swift).

Blinded by the Light is titled after a 1973 Springsteen track that was itself an imitation of Bob Dylan’s mythologizing, borrowing the Bard’s messianic, struck-by-lighting revelation. Springsteen’s attempt at self-invention mixed social self-consciousness with narcissism in ways that were overwhelmingly romantic and, at best, profoundly so. At worst, it was also phony and ultimately delusional, although the media sold it differently. This movie continues that con.

Springsteen’s deification — his establishment respectability and current status as a venerable liberal — confirms that “rock-and-roll rebellion” has become the safest kind of conventionality. Javed takes Springsteen as an icon of the personal and social goals he seeks for himself. But through Javed’s supposedly enlightened infatuation, director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) also misrepresents the history of pop diversity. Blinded by the Light actually avoids everything that is interesting about cross-ethnic pop culture.

Ol’ Man River Knows Something

He knows you need to consider coming on the National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise, scheduled for April 19–26. It’s a go, but our big fear is it’s the morning of August 18 and you — yes, you! — are kicking yourself because 1. You had wanted very much to come, 2. You sure as heck were going to reserve a cabin, and 3. You even started filling out the application, but 4. For some unknown reason (well, you know it — that Wallflower Gene kicks in and whispers “you won’t fit it” and “you won’t know anyone” and “they’ll all look at you like you have broccoli stuck in your teeth” — damn that is a mean Wallflower Gene!) you chicken out.

Don’t. Sign up at www.nrcruise.com/rhine. Be confident that for a week or more you’ll be hanging with 140 cool and groovy and friendly folks — including ace speakers such as Daniel Hannan, Amity Shlaes, Charles Kesler, Sally Pipes, Seth Lipsky, and NRniks Rich Lowry, John O’Sullivan, David Pryce-Jones, Jay Nordlinger, and Kevin Williamson.

Where will they — you! — be heading? You’ll embark the AmaMora in Basel on the 19th, and (there’s an optional two-night pre-cruise stay in sweet Zurich and Lucerne), along the merrily-down-the-streaming sojourn of locks and bucolic sights, visit Strasbourg, Cologne, and the riverports of Rüdesheim, Ludwigshafen, Breisach, and Lahnstein, before arriving in Amsterdam on the 25th (and staying on the AmaMora overnight).

In each port, numerous expert-led tour options will be available (they are all part of the cruise package!), and while we’re sailing to the next destination, we’ll be holding our panel sessions — that’s when our invited speakers will consider the day’s most pressing issues (from politics and the 2020 elections to policy and the future of Europe).

Your stateroom, the tours, all meals (sumptuous!), port fees, gratuities, and taxes are included in the cost (prices start at only $4,299 a person) and in addition to that are the exclusives, which are part of NR’s popular cruise-event program (honed over 25 years and 40+ voyages!):

  • seven scintillating seminars featuring editors and guest speakers;
  • two fun-filled “Night Owl” sessions;
  • three revelrous pool-side cocktail receptions;
  • intimate dining on two or three evenings with a guest speaker or editor (with complimentary, unlimited wine and beer served with every lunch and dinner);
  • one late-night smoker featuring cigars and cognac;
  • numerous tours and excursions in every port;
  • complimentary high-speed Internet / wi-fi in each stateroom.

Great discussions, great speakers, great ship, great sites — Great Caesar’s Ghost why haven’t you signed up yet?!

The Six

1. Former Oberlin prof Abraham Socher takes to Commentary to lament the conduct of his former employer. From his article:

In August 2017, nine months after his arrest, Jonathan Aladin pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft, aggravated trespassing, and underage purchase of alcohol. His friends pled guilty to the first two charges. All three students read statements to the court acknowledging that Allyn Gibson had been within his rights to detain them and that his actions had not been racially motivated. On the sidelines of the court, the director of Oberlin’s Multicultural Resource Center and interim assistant dean of students, Antoinette Myers, texted her supervisor, Dean Raimondo. “After a year”—that is, after the students were eligible to have their criminal records expunged—“I hope we rain fire and brimstone on that store,” Myers wrote.

The fact that the students’ guilty plea was the result of a plea deal, as most criminal convictions are, and that the students’ allocution was compelled by the court (a feature of criminal justice with deep roots in common law) encouraged many students and faculty to believe that somehow this had still been a racist incident. How, exactly, was never made clear. What should Allyn Gibson have done with an underage customer who had just shown him a clearly fake I.D. and now had two bottles of wine under his shirt? Perhaps if Gibson had said something like “Come let us reason together: I can’t sell you wine, but I can share a nice cold Snapple with you while we discuss my family’s exceedingly thin profit margins and how we are both oppressed under neoliberalism,” things would have been different. They might even have found out that they had something in common, since Jonathan Aladin was the student treasurer at Oberlin, which also has thin margins.

2. At the J. G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Anthony Hennen considers the latest efforts to reform college sports, on both the academic and student-health fronts. From the conclusion of his commentary:

The current incentives of college sports don’t favor student-athletes or education. “I really think the conversation starts with the NCAA putting education at the forefront and having the decisions that they make indicate that. It’s really setting that example that we are first and foremost educational institutions, and we as a policing body prioritize that,” Colin Williams wrote.

The NCAA often claims self-reform, but rarely enacts anything beyond minor changes. In 2004, then-NCAA president Myles Brand proclaimed that “landmark legislation marks the beginning of a sea change in college sports” after new academic standards meant to improve graduation rates were announced. But lackluster academic achievement remains a problem, as the University of North Carolina’s scandal showed.

“The issue, or the challenge, is something must be put in place to establish true governance to protect the welfare of our students,” Fritz Polite said.

That challenge, though, might only be met by outside politicians driving reform, an outright boycott by the public, or a refusal from student-athletes themselves to play in the current system. Until then, most athletic reforms will remain ideas without force, stymied by university officials and compliant politicians.

3. More Oberlin: The college’s anti-male bias, reports Lexi Lonas in The College Fix, has percolated in an important lawsuit. From the beginning of the piece:

Can colleges openly discriminate against male students accused of sexual misconduct, “so long as they masked their bias in any particular proceeding”?

That’s the question at stake in a Title IX lawsuit against Oberlin College, now before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the accused student, “John Doe.”

The liberal arts college found John responsible for sexual assault based only on his sex partner allegedly saying “I am not sober,” then expelled him.

Unlike the much higher profile defamation lawsuit filed against Oberlin by a local bakery, which received a multimillion-dollar jury award, the college won John’s Title IX lawsuit at the trial court last month.

The judge found that John failed to show that the allegedly incorrect finding against him was the result of gender bias.

John’s brief to the 6th Circuit argues that this is not a credible reading of his evidence, particularly the comments of then-Title IX Coordinator Meredith Raimondo, who is now the dean of students.

4. At Law & Liberty, Douglas Rasmussen answers the question, “what is the state of liberty?” From his essay:

The defense of liberty as classical liberalism or libertarianism understands it is very much in intellectual disarray, because the appeal to a reality that is both the source and standard for truth has been rejected by many philosophical schools to which many contemporary classical liberals and libertarians adhere—such as constructivism and conceptual pragmatism. Further, many classical liberals and libertarians act as if metaphysics is not important, but they do so at their intellectual peril. As I think of it, that peril may turn out to be not only intellectual. For if there is no basis in reality that supports their championing of liberty, and if such a view does not comport to the demands of so-called public reason, then not only are classical liberals or libertarians without intellectual support but they are also seen as a threat to the prevailing Zeitgeist. Indeed, they are candidates to be shouted down or possibly silenced.

Yet, there is also here a second point that should concern free-market economists. Economics is simply being ignored by many thinkers, and, of course, by politicians, because there is no nature to human action for economics to describe and hence no laws of economics that capture natural necessities. The alleged negative effects of regulations, such as minimum wage law or tariffs, are not seen as anything that must result. Rather, economic laws are only intellectual constructions that derive their necessity and cogency from themselves and not from the real world. They do not describe “facts” to which public policy must conform. Instead, they are seen as a projection of a neo-liberal ideology that is really nothing more than a disguise for the rich and politically powerful. To put it crudely, and in classical Marxian language, economists are seen just as apologists for certain class interests.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim recounts the persecution of Christians in June 2019. I wonder what I was doing June 9 while far away, the carnage was plentiful. From his report:

Mali: On June 9, Islamic Fulani gunmen massacred at least 95 Christians — including women and children. During their rampage in a Christian village, they set it ablaze before leaving; several of the slain were burned alive. “About 50 heavily armed men arrived on motorbikes and pickups,” a survivor recalled. “They first surrounded the village and then attacked — anyone who tried to escape was killed. . . . No one was spared — women, children, elderly people.” Security sources confirmed that the raiders also randomly killed domestic animals in the village. It was “virtually wiped out.”

Burkina Faso: Islamic terrorists slaughtered 29 Christians over the course of two separate raids. The first took place on Sunday, June 9, in the town of Arbinda; 19 Christians were slaughtered. The next day, another ten Christians were murdered in a nearby town. An additional 11,000 Christians fled the region and were left displaced; they feared if they were to remain in their villages they would be next. “There is no Christian anymore in this town [Arbinda],” said a local contact. He added that “It’s proven that they [terrorists] were looking for Christians. Families who hide Christians are [also] killed. Arbinda had now lost in total no less than 100 people within six months.” These June attacks follow a string of Islamic terror attacks in the West African nation over the preceding six weeks that left at least another 20 Christians dead.

6. In the Telegraph, the great Andrew Roberts defends the US/UK “Special Relationship” while calling out the shame-attempting Emmanuel Macron, who seems obtuse to his positioning France as Germany’s valet. From the article:

For Macron, whose own country has been the junior partner – one might almost say historic vassal – of Germany for six decades now, to sneer at Britain is utterly hypocritical. Of course describing a British prime minister as an American president’s puppet or poodle has been a staple of European caricaturists going back to Harold Macmillan and JFK. It was even suggested of Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with Ronald Reagan.

In fact, however, the strength of the Special Relationship is that the leaders of Britain and America are able to disagree strongly, but can do so as friends. Boris Johnson was therefore firmly in the mainstream of history when he took a divergent stance on the China trade war, telling President Trump at Biarritz: “We are in favour of trade peace on the whole. The UK has profited massively in the last 200 years from free trade.”

Being able to disagree in a friendly way with American presidents – as Thatcher did with Reagan over the invasion of Grenada, and Winston Churchill often did with Roosevelt over the grand strategy of the Second World War – is part of a British premier’s job, and that is why I have read so many obituaries of people who have prematurely written the obituary of the Special Relationship.

With the bromance between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, we are seeing yet another golden age of the Special Relationship, which is good news for both countries and for the world.

BONUS: Our dear pal, Robert Agostinelli, gives permission to print this letter-to-the-editor submitted to the Telegraph. It is an unvarnished response to Andrew Robert’s op-ed, a no-holds-barred assessment of Monsieur le Président. You may want to read with your asbestos spectacles. Here it is, in toto:

Often bullies come from the smallness of being if not outright cowardice. President Emmanuel Macron fits the bill in both regards.

No student of history but well steeped in the tyrannical throes of the socialist dogma he so covets he has been a sad failure since his “invention” as a leader.

His hatred run deep. First for the remnants of the enlightened Christian ethic of his very own nation which he systematically serves to undermine. A devout secularist who inspires tribalism and is explicitly responsible for the accelerated soft jihadism currently enveloping every major French Ville. While striking a pose as a reformer, tinkering at the edges of the rigid “contract sociale” he has lit the flame of insurrection by the gilet jaune in turn castrating any hope of economic growth under the false deity of climate change.

His embrace of the tyrannical failed concept of the EU is a logical extension of his flawed belief system. Like all failed nation state leaders pointing to external culprits is a tried and true path of tactical misdirection here he is in league with his heroes from Stalin, Mao,Castro, Maduro et al.

Andrew Roberts has used his usual laser scope to slice through the charade and hustle by “dear Emmanuel”. As clear minded as he is brave Mr. Roberts throw the curtain aside on this would be wizard and his make believe Oz.

His smug disregard for the hopes and aspirations of his own people, the fairest of which have in turn colonized both England and America in search of a better life marks him as an enemy of good by any other name.

Instead of his seething resentment for the will of the English people and his extended denial of the traditional power and goodness of the resilient “special relationship “ he should show a modicum of gratitude to our nations. A simply reading of the history he rejects would demonstrate the real vassal is his and the boot of tyranny he so embraces would be far greater had we not the will to collectively show up in Normandy to take back freedom for all of Europe and in turn remain a friend despite the insult on injury received.

His bluster will soon turn on him with hurricane force in his sad meltdown to the oblivion whence he belongs.

For Later This Coming Week: A Day I’ll Always Remember

It was the Third of September . . .

Baseballery

Reader Phil wrote and thought this article would have me shouting “Amen!” and he was right, about how the National Pastime is played today — how even to some of its once stars (Lou, Goose, the guy who tried to kill Ray Fosse) it is proving unwatchable, its strategies dying in order to feed the home run beast. Sayeth The Goose:

I can’t watch these games anymore. . . It’s not baseball. It’s unwatchable. A lot of the strategy of the game, the beauty of the game, it’s all gone. It’s like a video game now. It’s home run derby with their [expletive] launch angle every night.

About the home run: rummaging through the statistics of years gone way by, it is remarkable how few dingers were dinged in the mid 40s in the AL. Take 1944: the league’s eight teams hit a combined 459 home runs. That’s an average of 57 per team. In 1945 it got worse: 430 homers for a per-team average of 53. Particularly incapable of putting the ball over the fence were two teams, the Chicago White Sox, which hit but 22 homers in 1944 and 27 in 1945, and the Washington Senators, whose un-Ruthian players hit 33 and 22 homers in the same years. Amazingly, the punchless Nats still nearly pulled off the pennant in 1945, trailing the Tigers by a game and a half in a battle that lasted from mid-August until the season’s final day.

Why the paucity of home runs: Was the ball dead, courtesy of WW2? A challenge for those who are fanatics and know the answer and are thrilled to share it with this ignorant correspondent. My secret agent friend at the Hall of Fame sent along this 2013 Bleacher Report article that is a history of America’s favorite white ball.

A Dios

We have such good supporters and friends. This 40-somethingth NR cruise that is now in the Zaandam’s rear-view mirror — it was a wonderful week — was another special opportunity to spend time with them. To amend Bismark, God protects the United States of America . . . and National Review. We thank Him for this.

God’s Blessings and Graces and Tender Mercies, May They Shower Upon You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who is quite ready to receive tips on combatting sea legs and any other messages and recipes at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Don’t forget to come to Palm Beach in October and help National Review Institute as it awards the 2019 William F. Buckley Jr. Prizes, this year honoring Rush Limbaugh and Gay Gaines.

National Review

What a Rootin’ Tootin’ Six Gun-Shootin’ Country

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Give a mighty cheer for it. Maybe even sing along with Ray Bolger (who was a subscriber to NR!) about the Americanness of this unique and grand place. The scope and breadth and depth (and purple mountain majesties’ height) and fun and mystery of this place named for Mrs. Vespucci’s son — that enchilada is the subject of a very special new issue of your favorite conservative magazine. More below.

We publish it just as a bunch of NR writers and readers head to . . . Canada! For our 2019 cruise. Which to us always means there is next cruise. You should be on it: Check out our 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise, scheduled for April 19–26 aboard AmaWaterways’ sweet new AmaMora. True, we’ll not be visiting America on this trip — just places America saved. Or conquered. Or conquered and then saved.

Before we dive into this week’s fare, look at that image. Even our lemons are patriotic!

On with the Jolt!

The Freezer Door Opens and Out Cascades 14 Colorful, Delicious, and Refreshing Ice Pops of Conservative Intelligence that Will Not Cause a Brain Freeze If You Eat Them All Quickly

1. There’s a very interesting piece by Jakub Grygiel on American foreign policy and the role “values” plays in it. From his reflections:

A conservative foreign policy has to recognize that there are limits to our domestic consensus on “values.” We have deep internal disagreements on the substance to put into this term. For instance, we diverge on fundamental questions of life, marriage, and death. We can discuss and vote on them as citizens within an ordered republic, but we do an enormous disservice when we pursue an activist foreign policy driven by an expansive view of rights. A polity that internally does not agree on the existence and meaning of many rights should not promote only one version of these values abroad.

Pushing controversial values abroad weakens our national security. Not only does it turn our allies and other states against us, opening windows of opportunity for our rivals, but it also severs U.S. foreign policy from the support of a large, if not the largest, segment of the American electorate. As a result, it weakens the long-term sustainability of the strategy and, most important, puts in question its legitimacy. A conservative foreign policy, in other words, has to reflect the limits of what we, as a nation, agree upon.

Moreover, the limits of what is desirable to promote abroad are drawn by truth, elucidated by reason and inlayed in tradition. There is nothing conservative in promoting a wholesale reengineering of society abroad as well as at home by undermining the key institutions that underwrite political order. Political order is not kept by a law or a Constitution, however important those are. It arises slowly from within the nation, united and ordered by its foundational institutions — family, friends, churches. To redefine family and marriage as the satisfaction of self-preferences — a flagship objective of the progressive Left — both in the United States and abroad is a recipe for large-scale geopolitical instability, a goal that is antithetical to U.S. interests.

2. With the incoming attacks on Kamala Harris from several directions, it’s no surprise, reports John McCormack, why she is slipping in the presidential polls. From his analysis:

First Harris indicated at a CNN town hall that she supported abolishing private insurance, as Medicare for All proposes. Then Harris said she didn’t support abolishing private insurance: She tried to hide behind the fig leaf that Medicare for All allows “supplemental insurance,” while obscuring the fact that “supplemental coverage” would be legal for only a very small number of treatments not covered by Medicare for All, such as cosmetic surgery. And cosmetic-surgery insurance doesn’t even exist.

Harris thought she’d finally figured a way out of the Medicare for All mess in July: She introduced her own plan shortly before the Democratic debates. It tried to split the difference: She promised to transition to a single-payer plan in 10 years (as opposed to Sanders’s four-year deadline). This was meant to reassure progressives that they’ll get there eventually while also reassuring moderates that there will be at least two more presidential elections before the country goes through with anything crazy.

Harris’s provision of Medicare Advantage–type plans was also supposed to reassure moderates, but the second debate demonstrated that she still wasn’t ready to respond to the fact that her plan would eventually abolish existing private health plans for everyone, and she has no serious plan for how to pay for single-payer.

Then there were Joe Biden’s and Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s devastating attacks on Harris’s record as a prosecutor at the second Democratic debate. “Biden alluded to a crime lab scandal that involved her office and resulted in more than 1,000 drug cases being dismissed. Gabbard claimed Harris ‘blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until she was forced to do so.’ Both of these statements are accurate,” the Sacramento Bee reported after the debate.

3. The problem with Trump’s trade critics (from the legion of Democrat presidential wannabes), writes Michael Tanner, is that they offer no better options. From his column:

Nor is it just the TPP that Democrats oppose. Like Trump, most of the major Democrats oppose NAFTA. But, with the exception of Beto O’Rourke, they also oppose Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA (renamed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, or USMCA). Most Democrats have also opposed other, bilateral trade deals, such as those with Korea and Colombia.

The left flank of the Democratic party is even more anti-trade. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, wants the focus of trade to be on labor, the environment, and, ironically, consumers. She wants the U.S. to trade only with countries that have signed the Paris Agreement and meet onerous human-rights and labor standards.

This policy would fall most heavily on poor nations who can least afford costly environmental or labor upgrades. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala would be devastated, sending a new flood of refugees streaming toward our border.

And Bernie Sanders’s opinions are quite similar to Warren’s. Both of them are in favor of steel and aluminum tariffs and oppose all current trade deals. Sanders, like Warren, wants all future negotiations to be centered around labor, the environment, and human rights.

4. “BUT” is now a trigger word! Watch out IFs! Beware ANDs! Kat Timpf reports on the latest craze from the SJW-Academic Complex. From her piece:

Now, I write about political correctness for a living, but (oops!) I still have to say that this story was one that I had to read over multiple times to make sure it was actually true. I mean, how on earth is the phrase “no problem” offensive? Ballbach’s suggestion that saying “no problem” might actually make people think that they are a problem makes absolutely no sense based on what words mean. It clearly means the opposite, because putting the word “no” in front of “problem” makes it the opposite.

Speaking of what words mean, it’s completely ridiculous to say that you can simply replace the word “but” with “and.” They are totally different words; they mean totally different things. Do things sometimes come after the word “but” that might bum you out? Sure! For example: “I love you, but I don’t want to be with you anymore.” That hurts. The thing is, though, approximately zero people would say that the word “but” was the part of the sentence that hurt them, and about the same number of people would probably say that the sentence “I love you, and I don’t want to be with you anymore” would make them feel any better. The only difference it would make is that it would make less sense.

5. Kaj Larsen makes the case against U.S. forces disengaging in Nigeria, where they are helping the fight against the Boko Haram madmen. From the beginning of his piece:

On Thursday, August 15, the international terrorist group Boko Haram attacked a military base and community in Nigeria, killing three soldiers. This comes on the heels of an even deadlier attack three weeks ago, when armed members of the group rode motorcycles into a funeral in northern Nigeria and opened fire on the procession, killing 65 mourners.

For many, these are just forgettable attacks by Boko Haram. But for me, this story hit close to home. A few years ago, I was an investigative journalist reporting from where the carnage occurred. And years before that, I served as a Navy SEAL in Africa trying to prevent such carnage from taking place at all.

In today’s era of trade war with China and potential hot wars with Iran and North Korea, it’s easy to overlook the threat posed by Boko Haram, and conflicts in Africa more broadly. But I believe we ignore the continent and terrorist groups such as Boko Haram at our peril — and we’d better pay attention now before events force us to pay attention later.

6. If you detest other Americans, can you love America? Kevin Williamson wonders about the possibility of patriotism. From the beginning of his essay:

Is patriotism possible?

Is it possible for, say, Robert Francis O’Rourke? The Dave Matthews Band of Democratic presidential candidates put this into writing: “This country was founded on racism, has persisted through racism, and is racist today.” If by patriotism we mean simply to indicate love of country, would it be unfair to ask: How could a man of conscience love such a country? O’Rourke here is neither writing about the state nor any particular administration nor any of our nation’s many episodic failures to live up to its own ideals, but about the nation per se.

One cannot love a hateful country the way one might love a racist uncle in spite of his shortcomings, because the love of country cannot survive the contempt and condescension one unavoidably feels toward doddering old men who should have learned better by now but are too old to be taught. You might cut your dotty uncle some slack, but love of country assumes a certain minimum of respect for it and confidence in it that are precluded by the kind of eye-rolling indulgence that in the South is accompanied by the exclamation “Bless your heart!”

If you believed, as Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib believe, that the United States is fundamentally wicked, a force for injustice and oppression at home and abroad, and that this was not the result of ordinary human failure but by design, how could you in good conscience love such a country? If you believed, as Bernie Sanders and Patrick J. Buchanan do, that the United States is an oppressive empire, and that this empire must be disbanded, that it is a cultivator of “undemocratic, repressive regimes, which torture, jail and deny basic rights to their citizens,” as Senator Sanders put it, how could you love it? Not aspects of it — not the Grand Canyon, or the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches — but the whole thing itself?

7. More Beto: Rich Lowry goes after the Latinfaux for throwing America under the bus. From his column:

Of course, in crucial respects, the Constitution was indeed a compromise with slaveholders. It’s not clear why it would be considered better if, in the absence of such a compromise, slave states had possibly gone their own way to create a rump nation-state wholly devoted to slavery and not yoked to a North that became more anti-slavery over time.

Rather than enhancing the moral standing of slavery, the Founding tended to undermine it. “The Revolution suddenly and effectively ended the cultural climate that had allowed black slavery, as well as other forms of bondage and unfreedom, to exist throughout the colonial period without serious challenge,” the historian Gordon Wood writes. In his view, it set in motion the “ideological and social forces” that eventually led to the Civil War.

In the broadest gauge, it’s a mistake to treat the United States as an outlier in terms of its racial attitudes, when it was really an outlier in its embrace of liberty, however imperfect.

8. Another history twister, Peter Buttigieg, is scored by John Hirschauer for his campaign-trail right-side-of entreaties to conservatives who support traditional marriage. From his piece:

At a Pride festival in June, Buttigieg tacked the same line. “There are millions of Americans,” he began, “who today are not proud of what they believed yesterday about us, but we ought to make them proud of the fact they came on to the right side of history.”

What did “they” believe “about us”? Bad things, probably — maybe that marriage is between a man and a woman, or that scripture isn’t Pete Buttigieg’s malleable plaything that he can simultaneously invoke and dismiss as he finds expedient — but “what they believed” or didn’t believe “about us” is not the point. The ritual of redemption is: renounce your old beliefs, be born again, and expiate your guilt by condemning the avatar of that which you used to be. That self might have been any number of Buttigieg’s bogeymen: the “conservative Christian,” “older people,” those “brought up in a certain way,” or any other strata of the “they” who think bad things about “us.” Part of the condemnation is instructive, to shame the relics of the old consensus. The other is sacramental — the sneering and condescension toward traditionalists is itself a sort of ceremonial purge. We’re good people, you’re not.

9. Victor Davis Hanson scopes out the field of one-time self-declared centrists in the Dem prexy field who have veered ever leftwards as 2020 approaches. From his piece:

Joe Biden carved out a political career as good “ole Joe,” the glad-handing Catholic working-class, “one of us” moderates. Joe once opposed busing and argued for tougher sentencing for drug users and dealers. He was fervent in his initial support of the Iraq War, fought against federally funded abortions, and bragged that post-surge Iraq could become one of Obama’s “greatest achievements.” He has also unfortunately made a number of racist gaffes, whose thematic frequency might suggest more than just momentary lapses.

Biden’s two prior presidential candidacies crashed, partly because of his plagiarism, past and present, partly owing to his shallowness and superficiality, and partly thanks to his perceived caution, which was out of touch in both 1988 and 2008, when he posed as a centrist alternative to both liberal Mike Dukakis and progressive Barack Obama.

That was the Joe of yesterday. Today’s Joe is consumed with stamping out white privilege. He does not just wish to rhetorically castigate Trump. Rather, he has riffed on more than one occasion that he wants to smack the president or take him behind the proverbial gym and beat him up — prompting all sorts of emulative scenarios from his rivals. Cory Booker, again in the role of Spartacus, would like to knock out Trump too, albeit only when his male hormones get the better of him, he says. Kamala Harris, when asked in 2018 if she’d rather be stuck in an elevator with President Trump, Mike Pence, or Jeff Sessions, answered, “Does one of us have to come out alive?”

Joe is now for the open borders that he used to oppose, and he wants to ban the coal and other fossil fuels that he used to promote when among his hometown-clinging Pennsylvanians. Joe’s apparent challenge is to swing even harder left than a hard-left field, then win over leftist primary voters, then scoot back to the center in the general election, then wink to his former leftist supporters that he is the only alternative to Donald Trump and that his primary not his general-election self is his real persona.

10. The criminal-reform plan being promoted by Brooklyn-born, Moscow-marinated, Vermont-vented Bernie Sanders is, says Rafael Mangual, wrong in so so many ways. From his analysis:

Second, the goal of a 50 percent reduction is based on Sanders’s belief that our incarceration rate is driven “in no small part” by “extremely harsh sentencing policies and the War on Drugs.” This is simply untrue.

Drug offenders constitute less than 15 percent of state prisoners, who constitute about 88 percent of all prisoners in the U.S. Four times as many state prisoners are in for murder, robbery, rape/sexual assault, burglary, or aggravated/simple assault.

Moreover, the median term served by state prisoners is only about 16 months; and when it comes to drug offenders, about half (45 percent) serve less than a year in prison. Even 20 percent of state prisoners in for murder are out within five years.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that more than a third of violent felons had an active criminal-justice status (i.e., were on probation, parole, or out with pending charges) when they committed their offense. Coupled with the fact that a 50 percent reduction in the prison population would require releasing or diverting scores of serious, chronic, and violent offenders, it’s safe to say that the decarceration component of Sanders’s plan would actually undermine the public’s safety if implemented.

11. Mother Cabrini, the great immigrant (American naturalized!) Catholic saint gets blacklisted by NYC’s lefty First Lady. Kathryn Lopez tells the tale of how trannies now outrank a little Italian woman who built hospitals and orphanages, and tended to the poor, across the US. From her Corner post:

There are evidently 150 statues in New York City, but only five of them are of women. So Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s wife, set out to increase them by 50 percent. For direction about whom to honor, She Built NYC — the public-arts program dedicated to such projects — ran a poll to see what women people wanted to see honored. Coming in first place among 300 proposed women was Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, with 219 nominations. (Jane Jacobs came in second place with 93 votes.)

But there will be no Cabrini statue, She Built NYC decided.

Meanwhile, Cabrini, Italian immigrant and religious sister, is everything you would ever want in a role model. She was courageous — even fearless. She was a global community organizer. One of the most memorable excerpts from her diary involves her being both deeply saddened and righteously furious when she would encounter priests on the transatlantic journeys she would take with sisters to help the Italian immigrants in the U.S. who would not be prepared to celebrate Mass on the long, somewhat excruciating journey. So while a She Built NYC board, which includes Mayor DeBlasio’s wife, may see “Catholic nun” and turn away for fear of awkward encounters on the neuralgic issues of the day, they could also find some feminist and anti-clerical common ground! Instead, those who will be honored include an abortion-rights advocate (who mercifully was against forced sterilization) and cofounders of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

12. Cesar Conda contends that a cut in the payroll tax is the way to protect against an economic slowdown. From his article:

Despite the much-needed income-tax and corporate-tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the payroll tax continues to impose a heavy economic burden on workers and small businesses. The maximum Social Security payroll tax for a single-earner family is now a whopping $7,960 annually. Moreover, payroll taxes are highly regressive, with the bottom fifth of households paying 6.9 percent on average while the top 1 percent pay 2.3 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

It would be a mistake for President Trump to waffle on his administration’s reported consideration of cutting the payroll tax. A reduction would increase take-home pay for millions of workers, shrink the cost of labor for businesses (especially smaller businesses), and provide insurance against a downturn: According to economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics, every $1 reduction in payroll taxes would increase gross domestic product by 80 cents.

President Trump should propose exactly what President Barack Obama did in 2011: a temporary reduction in the Social Security portion of the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. This would provide significant tax relief for the average worker while counteracting the economic toll imposed by the administration’s tariffs on U.S. imports from China, which cost the average American household $600 annually, according to an estimate by JPMorgan Chase.

13. Armond White finds the reaction to the Netflix release of American Factory prompting a media rejoicing over the new ministers of propaganda, aka Barack and Michelle Obama. From the commentary:

The Netflix-Obama nexus is stranger and more significant than American Factory itself. Calling their curator unit “Higher Ground,” Netflix and the Obamas remind us of Michelle’s fraudulent 2016 campaign boast “When they go lower, we go higher.” What could be lower than an ex-president and his mate perpetuating a counter-offensive to the successive administration? Could Juan and Evita Perón, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu have matched the divisiveness — or such wealth and potency — implicit in that lofty moniker? The Hollywood-Obama collusion was first apparent when Michelle made an Oscar telecast speech in 2013.

Articles about American Factory breathlessly quoted bombast from a Higher Ground PR video featuring the Obamas and the filmmakers. Michelle says, “You let people tell their own story. American Factory doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial.” This is actually the opposite of how the film works, so her comment is either disingenuous, or ignorance disguised as praise.

Obama’s own orotundity was smoother:

Let’s see if we can all elevate a little bit outside of our immediate self-interest and our immediate fears and our immediate anxieties and kind of take a look around and say huh, we’re part of this larger thing. And if we can do that through some storytelling, then it helps all of us feel some sort of solidarity with each other.

Cunningly pairing the words “self” and “solidarity” is union-leader talk.

14. Howard Husock reviews Harvard’s knuckling under to lefties demanding the firing of fellow Rick Snyder, Michigan’s former governor, over contrived claims related to the infamous Flint water problem. From the beginning of his piece:

Incompetent local officials in Newark have followed in the footsteps of their counterparts in Flint, Mich., and failed to prevent lead from tainting the city’s water supply. Don’t hold your breath waiting for liberal criticism of current mayor Ras Baraka (or his predecessor, Cory Booker) for their indifference to the health of black children. But perhaps this should be the occasion for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to revisit its cowardly decision to withdraw its fellowship offer to former Michigan governor Rick Snyder for what’s falsely portrayed as his venal indifference to the plight of Flint.

Here’s the background. The Kennedy School did not formally rescind its appointment of Snyder to be a fellow at the school’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government. Instead, in the wake of the public backlash over his role in the handling of the infamous — though exaggerated — lead-poisoning crisis over the Flint water supply, Snyder took the high road and withdrew. But Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf effectively threw Snyder under the bus by saying, in the wake of a petition drive against the appointment, that “having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended.” The school, said Elmendorf, must study both successes and failures of government — but would look elsewhere for a study of failure, notwithstanding Snyder’s openness to discussing what he’s publicly called a failure of government at all levels.

Harvard — both Elmendorf and students — might have looked more deeply into the Flint situation before rushing to judgment. There is no doubt that Flint children were exposed to more lead than desirable in the city’s drinking water — but, as Drs. Hernán Gómez and Kim Dietrich, specialists in toxicology and environmental health, wrote in the New York Times, that is no reason to conclude they were “poisoned.” Who knows but that the situation in Newark — which is receiving far less notoriety — might not turn out to be worse? It lacks, however, the storyline of a Republican governor and a majority-African-American city.

. . . Land That I Love! Stand Beside Me as I Guide You with Recommendations from the New Special Issue of Your Favorite Conservative Magazine

Here are five of the 31 contributions (in addition to “The Week” and the always super “Books, Arts & Manners” sections) from the new September 9, 2019, issue of National Review, a special issue indeed.

1. The crack of the bat, the vendor hawking peanuts, the ump’s bellow. When heard via the transistor radio, is there a more delightful, more American sound? Not to Rich Lowry. From the beginning of his piece:

We live in the age of video, but radio still has its uses, broadcasting baseball foremost among them.

Baseball on the radio remains an iconic American sound. One hopes that if— God forbid—archaeologists generations from now ever have to strain to recover what American civilization was like, they will stumble upon a recording of at least a couple of innings called by Mel Allen or Jon Miller.

During night games in July and August, the murmur of the crowd—just like the sawing of cicadas, the chirping of crickets, the calling of frogs, and the clatter of innumerable other critters— speaks of the delicious languor of an American summer, of long days and hot nights, of drives to the beach, of talking on the front porch, of the yells of kids running in the yard after dinner, of carefree, seemingly endless hours.

Oh, how I adore that sound!

2. Terry Teachout loves the Western, with no spaghetti. From his piece:

What is it about westerns that keeps Mrs. T and me coming back for more? Part of the pleasure they give arises from their clarity of conception. George Balanchine, the great Russian-American choreographer, also loved westerns, a taste that puzzled his highbrow admirers, to whom he replied that he liked them because “there is nothing superfluous in them. Simple things without pretensions. . . . You watch a western and think, Ah! There’s something to this.”

But that “something” also has to do with the moral clarity of the Hollywood western. I’m talking not about black and white hats, but about the fact that the characters in every great western are forced to make moral choices that are always clear but rarely easy, especially since they live in a world in which sheriffs and jails are few and far between. In a world without laws or lawmen, we must all choose between the moral integrity of the old-fashioned hero and the moral cannibalism of the self-willed villain. Such stark choices are the essence of the classic western, which is why the genre and its three brightest stars, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne, continue to retain their near-mythic hold on the imaginations of American moviegoers. I just used the words “mythic.”

3. Jay Nordlinger digs that certain brashness that is part of the USA DNA. From his piece:

I like being an American abroad—you can get away with a lot. In Austria, a pedestrian waits at the intersection if the sign says “Don’t walk.” It doesn’t matter if it’s two in the morning, with no car for miles. He waits. My American feet won’t do it. I figure I will be excused, as the American who doesn’t know better.

In Salzburg, where I do some annual work, the concert halls are very, very hot. Most people are dressed to the nines. I always take off my jacket. Then something happens. The men around me look at their wives as if to say, “Well, if he’s doing it . . .” The wives will shrug, and the men will remove their jackets, in grateful relief.

That’s American leadership, baby.

4. It’s summer, and for Katherine Howell, that means . . . ice-cream stands. From her piece:

You can find the ice-cream stand on the side of the road as you return from a hike in the mountains, or on a warm weekday evening in your hometown, or on the boardwalk by the beach. Usually you go in a group, as a family or with friends. Making a selection can be serious business, especially for a child. Mint chocolate chip or double-fudge moose tracks? Dish or cone? Sugar cone or waffle cone? A cone has the advantage of being edible and delicious, but it could end with a toppled-over scoop in the dirt or sticky rivulets of chocolate running down your arm. I’m risk- and mess-averse. I usually go with the dish, and multiple flavors to hedge my bets. But once in a while, a cone feels right.

An array of options, the freedom to choose, to feel passionately (or not) about your preferences, to envy the flavor your neighbor went with, to take risks, to overindulge, to live with the consequences—what could be more gloriously American?

5. Rick Brookhiser pays homage to Satchmo and When You’re Smiling, just one of the master’s masterpieces. From the piece:

Armstrong’s performance makes this as obvious as fireworks. He played the song throughout his career; what Terry gave me was his first, 1929 recording. The tempo is fox-trot. He sings, there is a saxophone break, then he plays.

I played trumpet in middle and high school, so I know the difficulty of what follows. But anyone can hear it. Armstrong is stretching his instrument to the limits. He got the idea from a trumpeter he had heard at Roseland, the New York City ballroom, who played everything an octave higher than it was written. We have an eye- (and ear-) witness description of Armstrong applying this technique to the song the year his record came out. “He really got into playing ‘When You’re Smiling.’ He had a great big Turkish towel around his neck, and perspiration was coming out like rain water. When he got to the last eight bars, he was getting stronger and stronger.” Afterwards a stunned fellow trumpeter asked to inspect his horn, thinking he had used a trick instrument, maybe a piccolo trumpet in disguise, moonlighting from Messiah. He hadn’t. He was determined to hit those notes, and he did. Fearlessly? Hardly that—he wasn’t a moron, he knew the risks. But he applied himself confidently, and made a joyful noise. Call it heroic optimism.

Help Honor Our Fearless Leader

No, not that one. The reference is, of course, to Mr. Lowry, who will be receiving the Human Life Foundation’s “Great Defender of Life” Award this October 10th in NYC at the Human Life Foundation’s annual dinner. Also being honored: the great Helen Alvaré. Come. Buy a ticket, a table, a journal ad. And get this: Yours Truly is the master of ceremonies, so if that isn’t a reason to show up, what is? Do all the getting here.

The Six

1. Apologies for skipping this a couple of weeks back, but Dan Hanna’s Telegraph column on MP Theresa Villiers, the “Unsung Heroine of Brexit,” introduces us to a rare elected official. From his piece:

Who do you reckon is the most Eurosceptic member of the new Cabinet? Dominic Raab? Andrea Leadsom? Boris Johnson himself? Here’s one name that I bet you won’t have considered: Theresa Villiers, the Environment Secretary.

Theresa is one of only three members of the entire government to have voted consistently against the previous PM’s withdrawal terms. You didn’t know that? I’m not surprised. After all, she tends to keep it to herself.

Back in 2010, as Minister of State in the Transport Department, Theresa’s first act was to have the EU’s 12-star flag removed from departmental buildings. I found out about her decree by the merest chance via a civil servant. How many politicians, I remember wondering, . . .

2. In USA Today, Jessica Prol Smith nails the leftist Southern Policy Law Center for being a fundraising scam outfit that nearly caused her to be murdered. From her column:

Jobs and years have passed, and I work now for Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF ranks among “the top performing firm(s]” litigating First Amendment cases, the “Christian legal powerhouse that keeps winning at the Supreme Court.” And yes, my new employer has also attracted one of the SPLC’s spurious hate labels. The label easily peels and fades away when one actually does the research and listens to truth before deciding to troll.

If the SPLC thought that their hate would intimidate or silence me and my colleagues, they’re sadly mistaken. I’m lucky — blessed, really — that I didn’t take a bullet for my beliefs back in 2012. But the center’s ugly slander and the gunman’s misguided attack have sharpened my resolve and deepened my faith in my Savior, who commands my destiny and shields me from the schemes of man. The same is true for my colleagues.

Fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fell to an assassin’s bullet. The SPLC pretends to carry his legacy but weaponizes hate labels instead. Unlike SPLC’s name-calling, Dr. King’s words and vision stand the test of time. “Injustice anywhere,” he warned, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”

3. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti decries the extinction of Christians in the Middle East. From his report:

Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians.”

This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.

Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over.

4. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce sings the praises of Jane Austen and her feminine genius. From the essay:

Like Shakespeare, Jane Austen can be said to be not of an age but for all time, and yet, as with Shakespeare, it helps to know something of the age in which she wrote in order to understand the fullness of what she is saying in her work. Shakespeare was almost certainly a believing Catholic living in anti-Catholic times; knowing this about him helps us to understand the subplots of The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet, and the angst and anger that animates Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello. Similarly, knowing that Jane Austen was a devout Christian living in an age in which Romanticism was at war with faithless rationalism helps us understand her way of seeing the world and the ideas that were shaping it. This being so, let’s look at the lady and her age.

Born in 1775, Miss Austen entered a world which was ripe for, and would soon be rife with, revolution. The American Revolution was ushering into existence a new sort of nation, bereft of both monarchy and aristocracy, and enshrining the principles of the Enlightenment in its Constitution. Then, in 1789, the French Revolution brought down the ancien régime, replacing it with a secularist tyranny, the darkness and terror of which laid the ideological foundations for future communist tyrannies. Against these new ideas, Edmund Burke sounded a sagacious and cautionary note, especially in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, which was published at the end of 1790, when Jane Austen was fifteen-years-old. Many of Burke’s views can be seen to be represented in the character of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, suggestive of Austen’s own sympathy for Burke’s anti-revolutionary position, though it might be a stretch to suggest that the hero’s name, Edmund Bertram, is a phonetic allusion to Edmund Burke himself, which would indicate that Burke had been a mentor to the young Miss Austen as Bertram had been a mentor for young Miss Price.

5. At Reason, Robby Soave checks out the kiddies’ love of Socialism. From his essay:

Essentially, Sanders has done for democratic socialism what Ron Paul did for libertarianism in the late ’00s: make it an exciting, cool, radical alternative to the mainstream parties’ staid orthodoxies. Just as Paul challenged other Republicans’ commitment to waging increasingly unpopular wars, Sanders slammed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her Wall Street ties, her hawkish foreign policy, and her general lack of left-wing bona fides. Clinton won the nomination, but Sanders put up a much better fight than expected—a testament to the popular appeal of the ideas he was proposing.

Those ideas included a single-payer health insurance system, free tuition for all college students, a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour, and a more progressive tax system that confiscates wealth from the richest 1 percent and redistributes it to everyone else. Such proposals are particularly popular with younger Americans. According to a 2018 Harvard Institute of Politics poll, 55 percent or more of 18- to 29-year-olds support a $15-an-hour federal job guarantee, free college tuition, and Medicare for All. In a Harris Poll this year, 73 percent of millennial and Gen Z respondents thought the government should provide universal health care, and about half said they’d prefer to live in a socialist country. While Americans overall have a much more favorable view of capitalism than socialism, Americans between 18 and 24 do not: 61 percent have a positive reaction to the word socialism, compared to 58 percent for capitalism.

One reason for this is that people like Sanders have studiously worked to get a softer definition of socialism into circulation. Throughout the 20th century, the word evoked either the working class directly seizing the means of production or the government nationalizing industries, setting prices, and reducing or abolishing the right to own private property. The latter was much more common in practice, and the countries that took that route—the Soviet Union, mainland China, the Eastern European states, etc.—had horrific human rights records. Socialist regimes found it necessary to negate a whole host of individual rights and to arrest or murder dissidents in order to realize their ends.

6. In the new Claremont Review of Books, Chris Caldwell explores the maddening question: Why hasn’t Brexit happened yet? From his essay:

It was reasonable to assume that in Britain’s heart of hearts, absent peer pressure and government scare tactics, sentiments were even more pro-Brexit than the impressive majority at the ballot box could convey, and that the change of regime would be almost self-enacting. “The Government will implement what you decide,” leaflets distributed during the referendum had promised. So the Brexit forces disbanded. The beery wiseacre Nigel Farage, whose U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) had focused single-mindedly on discontent with the E.U., retired from politics. The Tories returned to business as usual. Upon Cameron’s resignation, members chose as his successor the former home secretary Theresa May, who had not even backed Brexit herself. That seemed not to matter. “Brexit means Brexit,” May dutifully intoned. It was government policy. Brexit would be a bureaucratic sideshow to the real business of her premiership, which May laid out when she devoted her first major speech to “Seven Burning Injustices,” most of them involving race, class, and gender. On March 29, 2017, Parliament activated Article 50, which fixed the date for Britain’s departure from the E.U. exactly two years later. Now Brexit seemed locked in beyond the shadow of a doubt. May then called (and was nearly ousted in) a general election, on which the Brexit question had hardly any effect, because her Labour foes treated the matter as settled. And then, two years later…

No Brexit. It has been postponed. Yes, Britain will regain its independence on October 31, if Brexit’s adversaries do not find a way to block it. But those adversaries include almost the whole of Britain’s political, economic, and journalistic elite, and they have been ingenious in finding ways to block it thus far. The largest and highest-stakes exercise in democracy that the country ever engaged in—the culmination of decades of soul-searching, in which the country insisted on its independence, its national identity, and the primacy of its constitutional system—is at risk of simply being ignored.

May left office in disgrace and in tears, burbling about “race disparity audits” and “gender pay reporting” and fair treatment for gays. Perfectly legitimate subjects for another time, but not for a moment when the country’s sovereignty hung in the balance. Her inability to understand the stakes of her three-year premiership made her the country’s most significant political failure since Neville Chamberlain. What does this mean for Boris Johnson? To the alarm of all Remainers (many of whom despise him), and even a good number of Brexiteers (many of whom envy him), it places him in the most Churchillian situation of any incoming premier since Margaret Thatcher after the strike-ridden “Winter of Discontent” in 1979, or possibly since Churchill himself in 1940.

Hong Kong

A little kudos here to a dear old NR colleague, Jillian Melchior, now with the Wall Street Journal and spending a lot of time in dangerous places in Hong Kong (not her first stint there) covering the democracy protests, running the kind of risks never dreamed of by the armchair general who pens this WJ. Consider these two articles:

1. Adapting tactics to stymie police crackdowns, demonstrators opt for smaller flash mobs. From her report:

Not long after I left Kwai Fong, officers stormed the metro station and fired tear gas, the first time they’ve deployed it indoors. Later I saw video from another metro station, where police beat protesters as they tried to board an escalator and fired pepper-spray balls at close range Sunday night.

The protests may be leaderless, but they’re well-organized. Many demonstrations feature a special brigade to combat tear gas. They scoop canisters up with oven mitts and drop them in water-cooler tanks, suffocate them with a wok lid, or lob them back at police with badminton or tennis rackets. It’s become popular to pop a traffic cone over the canisters. It acts as a chimney to prevent the gas from dispersing, and protesters pour water down the chute until it’s extinguished.

Christian groups or elderly protesters try to defuse confrontations. Other protesters administer first aid or deliver messages. There’s often even a cleanup squad. Demonstrators sometimes wrap their skin in cling wrap to protect against tear gas and pepper spray, and I spoke to one protester who was meticulously pulling the serrated edges out of empty boxes. He worried that police would accuse him of possessing a weapon when he dropped off the boxes for recycling.

Beijing is making ominous noises. On Monday, a government spokesman said “the first signs of terrorism are starting to appear” and wrongdoers would be punished “without leniency, without mercy.” On Tuesday Ms. Lam said protesters risked pushing Hong Kong “into an abyss.” China has staged flashy shows of force across the border in Shenzhen. Hong Kong police showcased water cannons this week. Protesters are brainstorming how to respond if officers use them. So far the only advice they’ve come up with is: Run.

2. If you are demonstrating or dissenting, your job is at risk. From the analysis:

Some protesters have sustained serious injuries at the hands of police and plainclothes thugs. More than 700 demonstrators have been arrested to date, and some face charges of “rioting,” which can carry a 10-year sentence. And protesters’ livelihoods may be on the line too, owing to Beijing’s pressure campaign on corporate employers.

The most notable target is Cathay Pacific , one of Hong Kong’s flagship companies. The airline needs 3,200 employees for daily operations, but some 1,500 were absent during a general strike, said Carol Ng, a veteran flight attendant who is chairman of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

China’s aviation authority announced that any Cathay employee involved in the protests would be forbidden to staff flights to or from the mainland, which account for about a fifth of the airline’s trips. Rupert Hogg, Cathay’s chief executive, resigned late last week after saying employees “who support or participate” in protests—even on their own time—could face discipline. The airline has fired at least four people. Cathay’s chairman, John Slosar, personally declined my interview request via a LinkedIn message.

Ms. Ng sums up the message from Beijing: “Go back to your job, keep your mouth shut.” If a major company was “required to back down in front of the political pressure, what’s next? A medium- or small-sized company will be forced, or will be instructed, to take sides, and more and more dismissal cases you can imagine happening across the city.”

Baseballery

It proved to be the last game for the man considered the National Pastime’s premier clown, Nick Altrock, the jug-eared once-ace for the White Sox (between 1904 and 1906 he racked up 62 wins, and one in the 1906 World Series, for Chicago). He eventually became the Washington Senators’ official home-field fool (and coach!) for decades. While Altrock essentially retired after the 1909 season, the allure of money and hijinx-performing from the first-base coaching box kept him in the stadium daily, and even on the roster — during the next 35 years he appeared for the Senators in 17 games, strung over 1912, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 24, 29, 31, and 33, when he played his final game, at the tender age of 56. It was also the last game of the pennant-winning season for the Senators, who lost 3–0 to the Philadelphia Athletics. The play-by-play has vanished, but the box score shows Altrock pinch hit for Second Baseman John Kerr. He made out.

(Of note: In his penultimate at-bat, in a late-season 1931 4–2 loss to the Red Sox, Altrock, age 54, walked. And then was caught stealing.)

Also on the field for Altrock’s last game was the Senators’ teenage infielder Cecil Travis (a wonderful picture of the two can be found here). Travis is one of baseball’s many forgotten stars who deserves remembering. Over 12 seasons (all for Washington), he would compile a lifetime .314 batting average. From 1934 to 1941, he hit over .300 all but once (in 1939 he was ill twice with the flu, but still batted .292).

In 1941, when Joe DiMaggio compiled his 56-game hitting streak, it was Travis who actually led the majors in hits with 218, and his .359 batting average was second only to Ted Williams’ amazing .406. And that’s where the greatness ended.

At 27, peaking, in the midst of what could have been a Hall-of-Fame career, came World War 2. Travis was gone for three seasons (he served in the Army in Germany, post-Bulge) and much of a fourth. Discharged, he came back to Washington in late 1945, but the zing was gone. His last full season, 1946, saw his batting average drop to .252, and in Travis’ final season, 1947, he pinch hit and played sporadically. His last appearance came on September 23 at Yankee Stadium, the first game of a doubleheader (which the 7th-place Senators lost, 2–0). There were no grand theatrics: Travis went hitless in three at-bats.

Interesting: Also on the field that day was a young Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra. Travis wasn’t only a great ballplayer, but he was a bridge between baseball generations: In his first season (1933) Travis played with Altrock, a man who had pitched in 1898 (with Louisville) and counted among his teammates Honus Wagner and his foes Cy Young. And in his last game in 1947, Travis played against a man, another of baseball’s great characters, who would still be playing the beloved game in 1965, managing teams into the mid-1980s, and even coaching through 1989.

A Dios

Pray — that people pray. Creation could stand more of it. And while you’re at it ask the Creator for His mercies — they are endless. And then share a prayer for good ol’ NR, that it continues to stand athwart history as tasked by our founder. We haven’t missed a Weekend Jolt yet, and don’t intend to, but this week we’re sailing on the Good Ship Lollipop up in Canada and on call 24/7 — but we’ll find time to patch together something.

God’s Blessings on You and Yours, and this America which We Love,

Jack Fowler, who can receive your thoughts on why you love America at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

You Broke My Heart. You Broke My Heart.

Dear Kraut-Mick Weekend Jolters,

And all others. Of course Your Correspondent finds the Chris Cuomo diatribe of a troll irresistible. Not so much the diatribe but the claim that calling someone “Fredo” — the older irritated brother of questionable intelligence (“I’m smart. Not like everybody says, like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!”) who was prone to dabble in familial treachery — was some obvious slur to Italian Americans.

Hey, assa me! Paisans and wanna-paisans, the charge that “Fredo” is an ethnic slur comes as complete news to this soul. “It’s like the n-word for us!” educated Chris.

Huh? Fact is, there is no “n-word” for us cousins of Amerigo Vespucci. Mamma mia what a contrivance!

Since the “Fredo” reference is birthed in The Godfather, Cuomo’s ethnic-victim tantrum immediately reminded me of Jack Woltz, the movie producer (brilliantly played by actor John Marley, in one of the film’s best small roles) determined to prevent “Johnny Fontane” from a career-reviving role. Don Corleone sends consigliere Tom Hagen to Hollywood to convince Woltz to do the Godfather’s godson a solid. Barely into their studio-lot conversation, Woltz barks at Hagen:

. . . Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don’t care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!

Hagen’s emotionless interruption to that insult cluster bomb — “I’m German-Irish” — proved one of moviedom’s greatest set ups. Woltz, not missing a beat, editing on the fly, rendered the epic response:

Well let me tell you something, my kraut-mick friend, I’m gonna make so much trouble for you, you won’t know what hit you!

That is professional-grade, creative, on-a-dime-vectoring slurring. Watch the scene here. (You’ll have to look elsewhere for Khartoum’s noggin.) Anyway, Assa Me Truly found the instant ferocity and improvisational talent of Woltz akin to Cuomo’s creativity — conjuring up on-the-spot a factoid, that Fredo equals n-word — and to the CNN anchor’s Defcon One threatening of his troll: I will f***ing ruin your sh** followed by a promise to toss the f***ing punk down the stairs.

Happily: Some NRO writers weighed in on the subject of contrived Italian-bashing. See below. They are but two of the many links that will escort you to tremendous NRO pieces published this past week. Abbondanza! Or as Granny used to say, and I repeat it here phonetically, mangia fai grossa. Which was her way of saying, dig in. But first . . .

Celebrate the Buckley Legacy

On October 30 in Palm Beach, National Review Institute will be holding its Sixth Annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Gala, which will honor Rush Limbaugh and Gay Gaines for their efforts and service on behalf of our beliefs, and for their conservative leadership. This will be a particularly special night, so do join us. Consider being a dinner sponsor: Get information here.

Momma Has Set the Table, and You Had Best Take A Heaping Spoonful from Every One of the Fifteen Lip-Smacking Courses or She Will Not Be So Happy

1. Fredo-n’t One. Our new Collegiate Network fellow, William Nardi, calls bullashoota on Chris Cuomo’s claim that “Fredo” is an insult — “N-word” class — of Italian Americans. From his take:

Even the most derogatory term for Italian Americans, “Guido,” shouldn’t be considered the Italian-American equivalent of the N-word. Without question, Italians faced persecution when they first immigrated in numbers to America, but they weren’t enslaved or subject to the indignities of formal segregation either. The suffering isn’t comparable. Wikipedia, which accepts suggestions from its users, lists eleven other slurs besides Guido: Dago, Eyetie, Ginzo, Goombah, Greaseball, Greaser, Guinea, Polentone, Terrone, Wog, and Wop. None of these are nice. None of them are equivalent to the N-word.

I’m half Italian, and despite growing up in an Italian-American community, I’ve only ever heard a handful of these terms. Which tells us something: The prejudice against Italian Americans does not persist in any meaningful way. For years, Italian Americans were “portrayed in parts of the media as ignorant, insular, superstitious, lazy, prone to crime, ignorant of the law, ignorant of democracy and prone to righting wrongs with personal vendettas and acts of violence,” writes Christopher Woolf for Public Radio International. “Police arrest records indicate nothing unusual in the number of Italians involved in crime. And yet they faced discrimination in housing and employment, police brutality and so on.”

The issue was that 80 percent of immigrants were from impoverished Southern Italy and Sicily, and only 50 percent were literate. Men came to find work with the hope of returning to buy their own farm back in Italy. Those who stayed eventually learned to fit in and had kids.

2. Fredo-n’t Two: Joseph Loconte finds a lot of stunad in Cuomo’s bogus slur-claiming. This is a wonderful read. From his piece:

And there is the lyrical mezza stunad, a Loconte family favorite. It is derived from the Italian stonato, “out of tune.” It means you have your head in the clouds, or you’re not paying attention to reality: “Hey, mezza stunad, you walked right past me and didn’t say hello.”

My father was born in southern Italy, near Bari, and my mom’s family (Aiello) emigrated from an island off the coast of Naples, and so these were everyday expressions in the Loconte household.

I should add that throughout the years of the Clinton administration, my father became very fond of the word bugiardo, which means liar. Which brings us back to Chris Cuomo. There is nothing racist about being called Fredo. It means you are dimwitted and insecure, if sometimes well-intentioned. It was a lie to pretend otherwise — a race-baiting slander that has become the immoral reflex of the disciples of modern liberalism.

Although Cuomo has shown a glimmer of regret for his unhinged, violent outburst, he has revealed himself fully for what he has long appeared to be: a teppista, a thug in a thousand-dollar suit. Cuomo is the ugly embodiment of what is happening in elite circles in America — in politics, in the academy, entertainment, and journalism. Rational debate is being replaced by self-righteous rage, the citizen displaced by the stormtrooper.

Fredo, in fact, would be an improvement.

3. John Hirschauer body-slams Wokeservative Max Boot for another of his Washington Post columns that fan the flames of racial hatred, claiming whites have no grounds for making any complaints for . . . anything. From John’s piece:

Boot’s central contention is that whites in America are beset with a victimhood mentality, one that “can justify everything from a public temper tantrum to a shooting spree.” In the wake of the El Paso tragedy, Boot can make a plausible case that racial grievances (real and imagined) facilitate discord and violence, because, of course, they do. Instead, Boot denounces white-grievance politics (a politics well worth denouncing) while simultaneously granting other grievance groups a blank check to raid the expansive store of imputed guilt and collective punishment. As a matter of course, he favors any repatriation for injustices to which racial minorities and their ancestors may (or may not) have been subject — as long as it’s in an effort to “redress past wrongs,” as he puts it.

His ultimate prescription to the “white people” he instructs to “get a grip” is something like “Stop whining.” And that’s fine; we could certainly stand less whining in the United States. In effect, however, Boot sets up a Faustian choice for “white” readers: Side with the white supremacists and their detestable program, or sell your political soul to Max Boot and become one of the self-loathing whites so paralyzed by intersectional deference that they can hardly advance an argument without first reciting that neutered prelude: “As a straight, white, cisgender man with privilege, I . . .”

If Boot believes what he is saying — and I’m not sure he does — and assumes that “many” Trump supporters believe “that white supremacy is the natural order of things,” then he’d do well to provide them with a better set of options than white nationalism on the one hand and political impotence on the other. Surely there is a third way between a full-throated embrace of white identity and a supine adoption of the politics of self-hatred.

4. Of course Boot opened the Virtue Signal playbook and — aided and abetted by MSM fellow travelers — smeared Hirschauer as a “white supremacist.” John fired back. From his piece:

It only poisons public debate for Boot to pretend that any defection from his ex cathedra declaration of what constitutes a legitimate “attempt to redress past wrongs or foster equal treatment” is a form of white supremacy. No serious or respectable person has any objection to fostering “equal treatment” for all races and ethnicities, but there are basic political disagreements over what an “attempt to redress past wrongs” ought to look like. Should Cory Booker receive reparations from a first-generation Lithuanian immigrant? Should prospective Asian students be discriminated against in college admissions to increase the admission rates of black students? Will we demand that the descendants of American Indian slaveholders pay reparations, too? To assert that any disagreement with Boot on those questions reveals a “fear [of] losing [one’s] privileged position to people of color” or is reflective of white people’s broader “cluelessness” is to do an end-run around a sober argument about what the “redress of past wrongs” means. But I suspect that’s the point.

Mr. Boot proceeded to caricature my work in other places on Twitter. He called a piece that I wrote about the childless Candace Bushnell’s self-described loneliness an attack on “women who don’t produce babies.” The piece makes no such “attack.” It highlights and reflects upon Ms. Bushnell’s own sentiments about the loneliness she has found in her childless golden years. If that piece is an attack on all “women who don’t produce babies,” every critique of Max Boot must be a proximal attack on all men with self-important fedoras and a penchant for smearing their political opponents as racial bigots.

A category that is, thankfully, quite small. In fact, it is limited to Max Boot, who lately, to paraphrase the famous slam of Rudy Giuliani, argues with a noun, a verb, and white supremacy.

5. Dropping the Other Shoe: And then Charlie Cooke weighed in and lambasted Boot for his dishonesty and libeling. From his Corner post:

Those who wonder why so few writers are willing to pen long, thoughtful, descriptive pieces that grapple seriously with the opposing arguments and incorporate honest appraisals of what voters actually want need look no further than this incident for their answer, which is: because bankrupt toadies such as Max Boot use their work as launching pads for calumny. In a sensible world, the editors of the Washington Post would have looked at what Boot has tried to do over the last couple of days, and tattooed “hack” on his forehead. But we are not operating in a sensible world.

Boot’s approach over the last couple of days has not only been at odds with both honesty and honor, it has been at odds with the reputation he had developed as a serious and rigorous thinker. Such as it is, Boot’s newfound modus operandi works as follows: First, he scans entirely innocuous pieces for sentences that he can willfully misconstrue; second, he presents those misconstrued sentences as evidence of a deeper flaw with a person or outlet or institution; and, finally, he submits the conclusions he has drawn as confirmation of why he, Max Boot, convert to truth and light, is on the Right Side of History. Because Twitter is an echo chamber and the Post is one-tracked, he does this safe in the knowledge that those whom his mendacity incites to outrage will never read the primary sources he is corrupting — and that, if they do, they will never comprehend them.

And thus the feedback loop is completed. In return for being so flattered, Boot’s readers provide him with wild, conspiracy-laden confirmations that the target he has chosen is indeed perfidious — confirmations that allow him to backfill his story on the fly, to flesh out any subsequent columns he feels compelled to write on the topic, and to insist that any pushback he receives is affirmation of his original critique. By this discreditable process did Boot’s nasty little lie about John Hirschauer’s original criticism become first an “attack”; then a “white supremacist” or “alt-right” attack; then a sign of the institutional decline of a magazine he once admired; then a sign of how awful that magazine has always been; and, finally, an indictment of the entire conservative movement in America that is apparently worthy of a prime-time appearance on CNN. Would that Boot had a sober friend who, early in his spiraling, could tell him, “Max, you messed up here.” Evidently, he does not.

6. Various Dem prexy candidates are marking the Ferguson riots’ 5th anniversary by repeating the lie — blatant — that Michael Brown was murdered. David French takes on PolitiFact, gutless in its refusal to call out the Dems Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren) for lying. From his piece:

Let’s now turn to PolitiFact’s extraordinary analysis. It starts out promising, with an early confession that “in discussing the case with legal experts, however, we found broad consensus that ‘murder’ was the wrong word to use — a legal point likely familiar to Harris, a longtime prosecutor, and Warren, a law professor.”

But hold on, says PolitiFact, we shouldn’t necessarily be focusing on, you know, actual words. That could be problematic. No, really, that’s where this “fact-check” goes next:

That said, experts who have studied police-related deaths and race relations said that focusing too much on the linguistics in controversial cases comes with its own set of problems.

And what are those problems? Well, according to these “experts,” examining the “linguistic distinction” at issue feels “like an attempt to shift the debate from a discussion about the killing of black and brown people by police.” Consequently, “rather than discussing the need for de-escalation tactics and relations between police and communities of color,” the “experts” claim, “this has become a conversation about legal terms. Quite frankly, it’s a distraction that doesn’t help the discussion.”

And whose fault is that? It’s the fault of senators who didn’t just engage in “linguistic distinctions” but rather made legally and factually false assertions.

Don’t tell PolitiFact, however. It said that because “the significance of Harris’ and Warrens’ [sic] use of the word is open to some dispute, we won’t be rating their tweets on the Truth-O-Meter.”

7. Helen Raleigh bemoans Hong Kong’s tragedy. From her piece:

As Hong Kong is losing economic importance, Beijing has sought to exert a greater degree of control over the city, sending police from the mainland to Hong Kong to arrest city booksellers and a Chinese tycoon without regard for the city’s own judicial system. City authorities, meanwhile, have shown that they’re more than willing to suppress Hong Kongers’ freedom in order to please Beijing: Human-rights activists and foreign journalists, including Victor Mallet of the Financial Times, have been denied visas, while the city’s courts sentenced nine leaders of the last big protests, 2014’s Umbrella Movement, to prison. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover in 2017, the Chinese Foreign Ministry declared “now that Hong Kong has returned to the motherland for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as a historical document, no longer has any realistic meaning,” essentially abandoning any pretense that they would keep the promises they made to Britain and Hong Kongers when the city was handed over.

In short, Beijing is no longer committed to the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. The extradition bill was a trigger and a final wake up call for Hong Kongers. Once Lam’s government showed that it had no interest in defending residents’ cherished political freedoms and independent judicial system, they knew that they had to act. What started as an effort to defeat the extradition bill has since turned into a broader anti-government protest movement that demands more political freedom, including universal suffrage. In a way, this is the protesters’ Alamo, their Battle of Thermopylae. They refuse to lose their freedom without a fight.

8. Whether or how the U.S. can help a post-Brexit U.K. — a matter which has great implications for Irish relations (which are a keen interest to many a Capitol Hill lawmaker) — is laid out by Chris Gavin in this worthwhile analysis. From the piece:

Regardless of whether Britain leaves the EU, and with or without a deal, peace across the island of Ireland and ongoing enforcement of the GFA remain essential. The PM recently made clear that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britain will not enforce a hard border, border checks, or physical barriers; furthermore, he reiterated Britain’s commitment to the Union and the GFA, as well as a restoration of the devolved assembly in Belfast. The separatist Sinn Féin party, predictably, has called for a referendum on Irish reunification in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but no serious official thinks that no-deal could return Northern Ireland to The Troubles, the sectarian strife that plagued the region until the adoption of the GFA in 1998.

Unfortunately, Ireland and the EU have used the border question as a cudgel against London, insisting the backstop must stay in any withdrawal deal, and have used the specter of The Troubles to raise doubts even in Washington. Nevertheless, public support in Ireland for PM Leo Varadkar’s hardline Brexit stance has dropped dramatically, and senior officials in Dublin are similarly beginning to question his approach. Given this growing dissatisfaction and Ireland’s heavy economic ties to the U.K., the negative impact of a no-deal Brexit could force Varadkar and the EU’s hands over the backstop.

Ultimately, both Britain and the U.S. can take steps to allay some of the concerns over Northern Ireland and its role in trade negotiations. First, Britain’s new ambassador in Washington will have the ability to restructure the embassy’s operations in the U.S. The Irish embassy has been extremely influential on Capitol Hill, and the British should emulate Ireland’s impressive congressional engagement efforts to build enduring personal relationships with key members on the various armed-services, foreign-affairs, and trade-related committees. Along with frequent engagement by high-level British officials during visits to Washington, the embassy’s regular efforts to keep U.S. policymakers informed of goings-on in London could help reassure weary members of the U.K.’s commitment to the GFA and bolster Anglo–American legislative ties.

Second, since his appointment in 2017, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain Woody Johnson has been a strong advocate of U.S. interests in government circles across London and rural areas alike. The new British ambassador should take advantage of his/her new role and promote British interests across the U.S. Diplomacy should be more than just a heavy presence in Washington and New York. Frequent engagement across the country, from Phoenix to Philadelphia, can remind everyday Americans and government alike of Britain’s commitment to every facet of the special relationship.

9. Leftist Democrats are intent on exposing and vilifying conservative political contributors, and Jeremy Carl makes the case for why donor-privacy laws are more needed than ever before. From his piece:

But even disclosure of only the largest donors, bundlers, and fundraisers has underrecognized downsides. Democrats and Republicans alike have used big-money disclosure requirements to compile lists of politically active corporations and political-action committees, indicating that they had to pay up to play. At other times, nongovernmental organizations have culled lists of major donors to the opposition to send them threatening letters, an action similar to Representative Castro’s.

Such tactics are used most effectively against those supporting unpopular or controversial political causes — and the ability to preserve the privacy of supporters of such causes has long been legally recognized as a public interest. For example, in the unanimous decision in NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the Supreme Court upheld the NAACP’s rights to keep its membership rolls (and therefore its donors) private and to withhold them from the state of Alabama even in the face of a state subpoena.

In an excellent critique of disclosure laws in City Journal, Bradley Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and arguably the leading conservative scholar of campaign finance, argues that the fetishizing of disclosure “has added to a political climate in which candidates are judged by their funders rather than their ideas.” Furthermore, as Smith contends, the notion that these smaller donors “need to be publicly disclosed to prevent corruption is a proposition that can scarcely be stated with a straight face.”

Disclosure laws are particularly useful to punish those whose ideas differ from those of elites. Even though Proposition 8 (against same-sex marriage) in California commanded majority support from the electorate, several donors to the campaign for it lost their jobs when their donations were disclosed. None had given at a level at which they meaningfully affected the election. All had their personal privacy invaded when there was no compelling public reason for their political donations to be made public.

10. Clean and efficient: nuclear power is reliable, and, says Jonathan Lesser, needs to be embraced. From his piece:

That means the next hurdle is making the nuclear-power industry viable — a technological and political challenge. First, there is cost. Small modular reactors (SMRs), 50 megawatt (MW) in size, promise lower costs thanks to standard designs and modular construction. The most advanced design is by NuScale Corporation, which will provide a complete “nuclear plant in a box” (albeit a 76-by-15-foot, 700-ton box). The first NuScale SMRs are slated to be installed at the Idaho National Laboratory and operational by 2026. Small modular units, if successful, will be small enough to be installed as electricity demand increases, while avoiding the whale-like financial commitments of the current crop of 1,000 MW reactors.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, is permanent storage and disposal of spent fuel. For nuclear power to remain a viable energy technology, this issue must be addressed. In fact, 14 states, including many with nuclear plants currently operating or retired, have prohibitions or restrictions on construction of new plants until a permanent repository for high-level waste has been identified.

Nuclear-waste disposal is not a technological issue, as some critics contend. Rather, it is a political one. Spent nuclear fuel, which remains radioactive for thousands of years, can be disposed of safely. Finland has taken the lead on the issue and is constructing a permanent underground depository. The project has been supported by the government and, most importantly, by the local community. And for good reason. The science supports the safety of their approach. Spent fuel can be safely stored deep underground in stable rock formations, such as the granite bedrock in which the Finnish site is being constructed.

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty takes on the upscale-lefty wagon-circling over service jobs that attend to their particular lifestyles. From the beginning of his piece:

Do you have good help? Are you good help? In the past week, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson wrote about the rise of “wealth work,” the explosion of service jobs in which a larger share of Americans help their richest neighbors look and live better. Thompson writes that there is “something queasy about the emergence of a new underclass of urban servants.”

The article occasioned a slight back-and-forth between policy gurus on Twitter. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff, Mike Needham, sardonically observed, “We are going to be so proud to leave our children a nation of manicurists, massage therapists, and barre instructors.” This led to some tut-tutting by liberal pundits who believed that Needham was disrespecting service workers. One former member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers retorted, “Children—would you rather teach barre, give therapeutic massage, or assemble screens on a line all day?”

In turn this led Oren Cass, a former Romney adviser and author of The Once and Future Worker, to respond, “It’s remarkable, the instinct to defend a labor market drifting toward service work for the rich. As I keep saying, the left-of-center won’t be vindicator of workers’ interests, its platform will be built around upper-class priorities and redistribution.”

Cards on the table: I’m with Needham and Cass. There’s nothing wrong with being a barre instructor. There’s nothing wrong with detailing cars. But we should be wary of the social and political effects of an economy that encourages the creation of these types of jobs instead of others.

12. Kyle Smith applauds lefty comic Ricky Gervais’s disdain for his co-ideologues’ penchant for jumping into the PC time machine in order to punish. From his analysis:

Gervais is an atheist, but even he takes note of how efforts to enforce dogma now come primarily from the woke and secular Left. “If you say the wrong pronoun it’s a blasphemy. . . . They stick ‘phobia’ on the end of a word and then you’re racist if you don’t agree with an idea. It’s like me getting offended by someone making fun of maths. Doesn’t change it. Science doesn’t care about your feelings.” He sounds a more optimistic note than I would about where all this is heading when he avers that we’re coming out of the Dark Ages of wokeness: “There are blips, but I think truth is too strong in the end.”

I’m not convinced there’s much of a market for blunt truths anymore, but I’m grateful that there are comedians such as Gervais who are willing to tell it.  Intermediaries are making it difficult, though. He made The Office for the BBC, but he detects a chill in the air at the Beeb and elsewhere. He says broadcasters are “scared of saying something that offends anyone. So they don’t defend it, they just go, ‘Don’t do that.’” When Gervais explains the joke to them, “they go, ‘Yeah, but we’ll have to write letters and people will think we’re bad.’ So it’s not what’s right and wrong anymore, it’s, ‘Ooh, I don’t want to write any letters.’” So maybe the Dark Ages aren’t exactly ending. “They’re winning,” Gervais says. “The people who bully people, saying ‘you can’t say that,’ they’re sort of winning. Because a lot of people go, ‘Oh, I’m not going to say it anymore; my wife’s scared to go out.’ And that’s like terrorism, it’s verbal terrorism.”

13. More Kyle: He has nice things to say about The Peanut Butter Falcon, which stars Zack Gottsagen, striking a blow for our Down Syndrome brothers and sisters. From the review:

Though this is a formula picture that occasionally ventures into hokey territory (notably in its climactic moments), it’s engaging and warm throughout. The odd-couple road movie is one of many sturdy formats in which the major Hollywood studios have lost interest, but as with other genres (such as soapy dramas and rom-coms), low-budget indie filmmakers have filled the gap. The main difference is that such movies no longer command large marketing budgets, so they may escape your attention.

As its mismatched pals splash through the tidelands, The Peanut Butter Falcon fairly glows with local color and oddball characters, such as the blind backwoodsman who first threatens to shoot the boys but then gives Zak a full-immersion baptism to underline his rebirth away from his minders at the nursing home. All he wants is a little help finding his way to a training camp run by his professional-wrestling idol, Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), whose routines he knows from ancient VHS video tapes. Bonding drunkenly with Tyler over a campfire, Zakc dreams up his pro-wrestling persona: Peanut Butter Falcon. Zak has never learned to swim, but that’s because he has simply never been taught that, or much of anything else.

The subtext is the shameful way people with DS have been dismissed or abandoned, sometimes in the name of protecting them. Zak’s caregiver from the nursing home, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), tracks him down with the best intentions, but she is the personification of the smothering embrace of the feminine, the maternal, and the statist instincts, the impulse to bubble-wrap everyone, especially those labeled vulnerable. When she catches up to Zak, she fusses with his shirt, to Tyler’s disbelief: “He can put his own shirt on, he’s 22 years old,” Tyler says, not mentioning that thanks to him, Zak also has learned to handle a shotgun.

14. Armond White finds Good Boys an act of confused adolescent smut-peddling by Hollywood hipsters. From his review:

Good Boys is a step down from Freaks and Geeks and Superbad (the latter recently celebrated in a Times lifestyles piece), differing mainly in the title’s half-baked profession of innocence. Max, Thor, and Lucas talk like the most obnoxious children (“We’re not kids, we’re tweens!”). Actually, they’re the worst example of media brats — pop-culture sponges who can’t comprehend the meaning of what they soak up from Fake News and Public Service Announcements, which amount to the same thing thanks to the media’s social engineering.

That’s the film’s conceit, revealed as writer-director Gene Stupnitsky and co-screenwriter Lee Eisenberg listlessly present the boys’ run-on malaprop gags, especially by flaunting the outrageousness of children dropping the F-bomb, eagerly imitating teenagers who are titillated by hip-hop obscenities. Yet these tweens are also confused by the culture’s mixed messages. (“You should never call a woman a ‘skank’!”) The irony — or hypocrisy — starts with smut-peddlers Stupnitsky, Eisenberg, Rogen, and Goldberg always trading on immaturity and irresponsibility. (They also shamelessly steal from Eddie Murphy’s hilarious highway sprint in Bowfinger, betting on the audience’s cultural ignorance.)

These Hollywood hipsters have the gall to sentimentalize their impudence: The Bean Bag Boys are ethnically diverse, like an Animaniacs version of the Freaks and Geeks cast; they’re intimidated by bullying; sensitive to the specter of parental divorce; and constantly perplexed by influences they don’t understand. The film begins with a choice anachronism: As Max prepares for a moment of juvenile self-abuse, the soundtrack blasts Chakacha’s 1970 soft-core moaning disco “Jungle Fever” then shifts to modern trap music, Lil Pump’s “Multi Millionaire.”

15. Thomas Massie and John Lott take big issue with “red flag” laws being recommended in the wake of recent mass shootings. From their analysis:

During the first nine months after Florida passed its red-flag law last year, judges granted more than 1,000 confiscation orders. In the three months after Maryland’s law went into effect on October 1, more than 300 people had their guns confiscated. In one case in Arundel County, a 61-year-old man died when the police stormed his home at 5 a.m. to take away his guns. Connecticut and Indiana, which have had these laws in effect for the longest time, have seen increasingly large numbers of confiscation orders.

Little certainty is needed. Initial confiscations often require just a “reasonable suspicion,” which is little more than a guess or a hunch. When hearings occur weeks or a month later, about a third of these initial orders are overturned, but the actual error rate is undoubtedly much higher. These laws make no provisions to cover legal costs, and many people facing these charges do not retain counsel.

These laws let the government take firearms away from people who are arrested but not convicted of crimes. Even simple complaints without arrests have been enough. That is quite a violation of due process, and hopefully the courts will strike down this provision. Gun-control advocates have resisted making this rule explicit in the laws, presumably out of fear that it would create problems in the courts, but presentations before the State Uniform Law Commission make it clear that these actions are quite common. Also, courts frequently take into account other factors, such as gender and age, in predicting the chances that someone will commit a crime or commit suicide. This can be seen as a discriminatory practice.

It has always been possible to take away someone’s guns, but all 50 states have required testimony by a mental-health expert before a judge. Under red-flag laws, however, expert testimony will no longer be used. Gun-control advocates argue that it’s essential not even to alert the person that his guns may be taken away. Hence, the 5 a.m. police raids.

About Next April

Hey, you: Come on the NR 2020 Rhine River Cruise. You’ll find tutti informazzione here. And share no acida about bogus Italian.

Andy’s Book Opens Big, and Rush Limbaugh Sings Its Praises.

Andy McCarthy’s new book, Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency, saw its official publication this week, and the book has roared to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. On release day, Rush Limbaugh spent a lot of time discussing the book. Here’s a slice from the transcript:

But let me tell you what’s unique about this one, ’cause I just told you there have been a lot of books about. I’m not saying that those previous books missed the point. They all had their own premise. They all had their own objectives. This context — the context of Ball of Collusion — is something that I haven’t seen that book yet. It starts with the premise that Obama politicized the intelligence agencies of this country, that Barack Obama and the hierarchy of his administration politicized law enforcement for eight years.

McCarthy demonstrates that none of this could have happened were it not for figures in the Obama administration, high-ranking figures in the Obama administration. This was the politicization of the Department of Justice by a sitting president of the United States. So why should anyone be surprised that they needed to manufacture a political narrative based on cooked-up intelligence and oppressive law enforcement processes? They had to do what they did.

There was no evidence! There was no evidence ever suggesting Trump had ever colluded with Russia, and yet look what happened: 2-1/2 years every day in the shameful New York Times, the incompetent Washington Post, not to mention all the cable networks spreading one lie after another in the form of anonymously sourced leaks “from current and former government intelligence officials,” “former and current law enforcement government officials,” what have you. The media was complicit in this.

The media knew full well what this was all about, and the media became active participants in it rather than unattached agencies doing actual journalism. They needed to manufacture a political narrative based on made-up intelligence, based on oppressive law enforcement processes, and they didn’t think twice about doing it. They never had a single doubt. This was the overall weaponization and the politicization of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and intelligence agencies for the express purpose of overturning the results of an election that was legal and duly constituted in 2016 — starting from the beginning.

Leaving no stone unturned and answering every question you would have. You ever read a book and an allegation is made or a point is made, and you have a question about it? “Where would that coming from?” Every question that you ask, every question that will be raised reading in this book is answered in this book. It is meticulously footnoted, meticulously evidentiary. It leaves nothing to chance and nothing to doubt. But the most important thing about it is that it is readable.

It’s not esoteric, and it’s not published for a select few who have a certain level of legal or law enforcement background. It’s written for everybody to be able to understand it because it is paramount that this not happen again. It’s paramount that the American people learn exactly what happened here, how it happened, why it happened, who was responsible for it in hopes that it never does happen again. Even though it is continuing to this day with these ginned up so-called impeachment hearings that Nadler has admitted are taking place now.

Related: We’re celebrating Andy Week with book excerpts. Here’s one: Hillary Ruins the Plan.  Here’s another: A Brief History of Election Meddling. And here’s another another: The Election Is Legitimate Only If the Democrats Win.

The Six

1. In The National Interest, Mark Rosen finds a cold setting for the Cold War. From his piece:

The Arctic is a growing market for bilateral economic activity but worldwide trade is growing rapidly between Russia and China. In June 2019, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin signed deals valued at US $20 billion in various sectors including nuclear power, hi-technology, e-commerce, 5G communications, etc. This came on the heels of a more than 20 percent increase in bilateral trade in 2018 and projections by the Chinese Commerce Ministry assert that bilateral trade will increase to over US $200 billion per year. A large portion of that increase will almost certainly involve Arctic natural resources.

What should be of greatest concern to U.S. and allied navies are recent reports of Russian requests that China help finance and develop Russian ports and infrastructure along its Northern Sea Route. These press reports are fully consistent with China’s unabashed discussion of China’s wishes to “work with all parties to build a “Polar Silk Road” by “encouraging its enterprises” to “participate in infrastructure construction” for polar routes, including (by name) the Northwest Passage (NWP) and NSR. There have also been sporadic reports of China expressing an interest in developing the route and some Canadian academics have been promoting it as a way to jump-start the route’s commercial viability.

The implications of China owning a large “stake” in what will likely become strategic Arctic waterways is concerning since China could use its economic leverage to deny passage to U.S. or allied ships or those ships that threaten its interests. To be clear, this has not happened and China has not declared that this is one of their strategic goals; but, money talks! It is also not that far-fetched for China to use its investments along these routes as the premise for building or financing ports and infrastructure. According to Becker, Downs, et. al., this nationalist investment pattern has followed in South Asia and West Africa with mostly State Owned Chinese Enterprises (SOEs). With those actions (commercial on their face) came the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, which began using the facilities to support their vessels’ routine deployments and also started threatening those that might interfere with China’s right to make investments and use military force to protect Chinese nationals and their property interests. China’s July 2019 white paper, “China’s National Defense in a New Era,” makes very clear that it will develop bases and overseas logical facilities to address current “deficiencies” in the ability of the PLA to protect its citizens residing overseas and their interests (including commercial enterprises). By contrast, the U.S. National Security Strategy (December 2017) and the National Defense Strategy (2018) are silent on the point of whether U.S. defense investments and military power will be used to protect U.S. citizens abroad or U.S. overseas commercial investments.

2. Better watch what we say on the NR cruise: at Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports that free speech is being strangled in Canada. From the piece:

Canada already has hate speech laws in its criminal code, according to which anyone who publicly “incites [or willfully promotes] hatred against any identifiable group” commits an indictable offence”. The “identifiable group “includes “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.” Section 318 prohibits advocating or promoting genocide.

To some, however, the criminal code on hate speech is apparently not enough. In June, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in a report titled “Taking Action to End Online Hate,” recommended that the Canadian government establish a “civil remedy” for those who claim that their human rights have been violated. After hearing a large number of witnesses, the majority of the Committee suggested that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act – or something similar to it – be reinstated.

Section 13 was a very controversial provision, repealed in 2013 under the Stephen Harper government after being criticized by free-speech advocates for enabling censorship on the internet. Section 13 stated that it was discriminatory for people to communicate via computer or on the internet “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination”. [Emphasis added]

3. Peter Wood reflects on Myron Magnet’s book, Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution, for The University Bookman. From the review:

A significant stretch of Magnet’s short book is a chapter—“Who Killed the Constitution?”—that provides deep background on how the U.S. Supreme Court, step by step, shifted from interpreting the Constitution to what we laymen might call making stuff up. No doubt it is more complicated than that. Making stuff up usually involves a lot of dignified chin pulling and circumnavigation of common sense. And making stuff up isn’t some newly discovered human faculty that emerged on Woodrow Wilson’s birthday or when Justice Owen Roberts weighed FDR’s Court-packing plan and decided he liked the extra-Constitutional New Deal just fine. Making stuff up is what powerful, self-interested people always do when they can. Absent a strict division of legislative, executive, and judicial powers and a system of checks and balances, rule by fiat is inevitable.

Magnet takes us back to the post-Civil War era during which the Supreme Court eviscerated the Fourteenth Amendment in its Slaughter-House Cases (1873) and Cruikshank decision (1876). The Slaughter-House Cases stripped Southern blacks of most of the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. It did so by “interpreting” their rights as citizens to be only their rights under federal law, and excluding their rights under state law. The individuals who brought the case lived in New Orleans, which allowed Louisiana to return its black citizens to a position of peonage. In the Cruikshank case the Supreme Court allowed the perpetrators of a racial mass murder (the Colfax Massacre) to walk away scot free because the Court interpreted the Bill of Rights as only guaranteeing that the U.S. Congress wouldn’t abridge those rights. But if Louisiana wished to abridge them, so be it.

Step by step, the Supreme Court created the tools that allowed the South to unwind the Constitutional protections created by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, thus bringing Reconstruction to an end. Magnet doesn’t allow indignation to get in the way of his building out the story of the Court’s transgressions. His prose is mercifully free of the muse of crankdom that dooms so many attempts to explain the errant ways of the Court from the New Deal through the Warren years. A cool head makes this chapter a perfect set-up to explain Thomas’s unusual jurisprudence.

4. A British university is banning meat in order to fight climate change, but The College Fix wonders, with sarcasm, why stop at rib roasts? From the editorial:

Shoes. Shoes, when you think about them, are rather unnecessary. Human beings already come pre-built with shoes—they’re called feet. There’s no reason we need to use up precious fossil fuels manufacturing these redundant consumer goods. Any shoes that make it onto campus should be burned. If students truly feel they need feet covers, they can be issued a complementary set of post-consumer 100 percent recycled brown paper bags, as well as several hanks of twine for tying them around their ankles.

Knives and forks. Flatware makes up a considerable amount of the dirty dish stream in dining halls. But—again—human beings already possess these devices: They’re called hands and fingers! Indeed, your human appendages are better tools for eating than a flimsy piece of fashioned metal could ever hope to be. All flatware should be decommissioned, smelted and re-cast into a statue commemorating the unjust colonial expropriation in which all universities are complicit. Anyone caught bringing personal flatware onto campus should be sentenced to thirty years hard labor.

5. Hokey, Not Hokey: College-freshman orientation is a woke-athon on many a campus. At The Federalist, Penny Nance describes what she saw of her son’s official howdy-do this week at Virginia Tech. From her commentary:

What followed went from slightly bothersome to downright alarming. The college filled the next two hours with speaker after speaker who introduced themselves with not just their names and titles but also preferred pronouns — as in, “Hi my name is Penny Nance, and I identify as she and her.” At first, parents were slightly surprised; by the end, they were mad.

Every person on the stage looked exactly as you would expect them to identify. At that point, I noticed all the new students’ badges contained not just their names but also their preferred pronouns because the school had made it part of registration. The heavy-handed diversity lecture that followed seemed rather tame in comparison. Parents left the venue in shock. . . .

At one point, after dinner, they sent parents off to oblivious sleep while they lectured students on not making assumptions about each other’s gender or sexuality. Were they suggesting students ought to be fluidly “exploring” their gender and sexuality, as if it were some expected adventure? In the era of “Me Too,” that seems off message.

The school constantly defined and showcased identity group politics, but certainly not all identities. It’s apparently way cooler to be a minority trans woman with food allergies than simply to be an American college student. Interestingly, the university offered Halal food but no certified kosher meals. Religiously observant Jewish students, tough luck, but if you are vegan, you’re in business.

6. In Modern Age, Glenn Ellmers assesses the state of the battle for America’s soul. From his essay:

The two most obvious targets for whittling down the oligarchy’s haughtiness are social media and the elite universities. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have become shockingly open about their censorship of conservative viewpoints. The Ivy League and its companion schools such as Stanford and the University of Chicago provide the credentials, indoctrination, and network of connections that support the regime’s singular claim to rule: the supposedly objective—but in fact deeply illegitimate and self-interested—authority of specially trained experts.

The power of technology and education to cultivate loyalty to the regime is perhaps a more potent force even than the vast bureaucracy of the government. No corrective action can hope to succeed without bringing under prudent direction the technological innovation that Aristotle warned against, the Founders too blithely accepted, and the Progressives endorsed. Likewise, education—to which Aristotle devotes the entire last book of the Politics as “the object above all” for a healthy polity—must be wrested back from the control exercised by the left ever since John Dewey penned Democracy and Education in 1916.

Thinking like traditional conservatives rather than Aristotelian legislators, some on the right will bristle at such interference in “private” institutions. But these entities long ago ceased to operate as merely private agents; they are political actors, serving political agendas as the propaganda and ideology arms of the regime. We can—to satisfy the sticklers for the letter of the law—observe some legal niceties for now. The social media companies are natural monopolies akin to public utilities; and their terms of service abuse traditional contract law. (Why can Twitter, for example, use arbitrary standards to destroy the content I created by deleting my account without warning?) The universities rely heavily on federal funding, which creates an obvious opening that the Trump administration, to its credit, seems to be using to protect freedom of speech.

Baseballery

Baseball’s rhetoric unfolds over the years. High heat, dingers, gone yard, and such were terms likely never heard by Babe, Lou, and Ty in the era of can of corn and the eephus pitch and folly floaters. Never heard in the youth of Yours Truly was “walk off.” Normally a new baseball phrase or obsession (bat speed!) gets the curmudgeon juices flowing, but this one is actually a good term: It 1) describes a worthwhile fact that 2) contains inherent drama and the fulfillment of dreams. What little guy didn’t imagine swatting the come-from-behind game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth?

Of course, if your team is on the losing end of that drama, the dream is more like a nightmare. One week in 1961, the Minnesota Twins — newly resettled having shed its Washington Senators location and name — had a heap of them. Despite a great start to the season (the 18–14 Twins were in second place on May 20), by early August they were in 8th place, looking at 9th, and found themselves 20 games behind the league-leading Yankees.

Of which: Having dropped two games to the Orioles, the Twins headed to the Bronx, for a four-game series. The Walk Off gods were waiting.

On Friday night, August 2, before 24,109 fans in the House that Ruth Built, the Twins lost 8–5 in the bottom of the 10th when reliever Bill Pleis served up a three-run homer to Johnny Blanchard. The next day the Twins lost 2–1, albeit not via walk-off (though it was close: Mickey Mantle’s triple in the bottom of the 8th broke up a 1-1 tie.)

Then came three consecutive walk-off defeats. In Sunday’s doubleheader before a crowd of 39,408, the Twins’ Bill Tuttle broke up a 5–5 score with a 10th-inning solo homer off Whitey Ford, but Blanchard kyboshed a victory when he led off the bottom of the frame with his own solo shot to tie the knot again. It wouldn’t be broken until the Yankees batted in the 15th, when a bases-load ground ball by Yogi Berra handed the Bombers a 7–6 victory. In the nightcap, a single by the Yanks’ Clete Boyer secured another walk-off win, driving home Mickey Mantle in the bottom of the 9th to earn the Bombers a 3–2 victory, and a series sweep.

But the misery had one final chapter: Off to Boston the next day for yet another doubleheader, in the first game, the score tied at 4, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, rookie Carl Yastrzemski singled home the winning pitcher, Mike Fornieles — who had doubled off Twins’ starter Don Lee. It was the Twins’ fourth walk-off loss in five games. Hard to have had a worse week.

A Dios

Do say your Hail Marys, but not while fishing in the middle of a lake with the enforcer of the brother you tried to have killed doing the rowing. That said, pray for a pal of NR now enduring grueling chemo. God’s will be done, of course, but shoot for stars and ask for a miracle.

God Bless You, and All Those You Love, and Even Those You hate,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your elaborations on (or direct descriptions as) insulti Italiani at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

A Crazy Idea

Dear Weekend Jolter,

It’s possible that the great 1952 film, The Snake Pit, for which Olivia de Haviland (still alive and well at 103, albeit in Paris) was one of those straws that, when enough were accumulated, broke the back of what used to be called “institutions.” If you haven’t seen the movie, do. Even as a work of fiction, it is hard to contemplate someone living at — and getting better in — a place where his or her cohabitants can be dealing with great psychological traumas and where there is an odor of menace.

But de Haviland’s character (Virginia Cunningham) rose from the depths and was, if you will, cured. The fact is, these institutions were vital — to health care and, frankly, to public safety (although some, like New York’s Willowbrook State School, were Dante-esque in their depravity). Liberals saw to it that big places (lots of patients) providing long-term mental-health care (and even permanent living) were shut down, their charges directed to community centers, which worked for some, but not all. Coupled with court decisions that prevented mandatory medicating, well . . . go visit the streets of a major city, why don’t you, and see what has been wrought by liberal good intentions.

This is a depressing start to WJ. True. But with the outcries related to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, our colleague, John Hirschauer, the new Buckley Journalism Fellow — who knows a ton about these institutions, and who by coincidence was writing a piece on their role in society, and the hole in society — finished his report, which we published. A timely thing.

Your missive-writer proposes you read “Yes, the U.S. Has a Mental Health Problem.” From the beginning of John’s piece:

The Dayton killer, according to his ex-girlfriend’s interview in the Washington Post, heard voices, suffered troubling hallucinations, and battled psychosis from his youth.

But there is no connection between violence and mental illness. Say it over and again if you must, at least until you disabuse your lying eyes. The experts have spoken. CNN distilled the media’s recitation of this creed in their headline Monday: “Blaming mass shootings on mental illness is ‘inaccurate’ and ‘stigmatizing,’ experts say.”

“Experts say,” as employed here, means what it usually does: a handful of ideologues get to pawn off their ideology as fact under the pretense of “expertise” to those in the media eager to toe a particular line. Whatever the “experts say,” the fact remains that the untreated, seriously mentally ill (those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, most often) are significantly more likely to engage in violence. Individuals with schizophrenia, most of whom are non-violent, still commit homicide at a rate 20 times that of the population at large. The prevailing social science on the matter suggests that at least 33 percent of mass shootings are committed by someone with a serious mental illness (even when this is narrowly defined).

What are we to do about it?

Now let’s get on with the usual fare, all assembled here for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

Editorials

1. Our response to the sickening shootings in El Paso and Dayton is to urge a full societal attack against “a murderous and resurgent ideology — white supremacy — that deserves to be treated by the authorities in the same manner as has been the threat posed by militant Islam.” From the editorial:

Addressing the problem will require a number of different approaches, some broad, some narrow. President Trump, a man who is comfortable using his bully pulpit for the most frivolous of reasons, should take the time to condemn these actions repeatedly and unambiguously, in both general and specific terms. Simultaneously, the president should work with Congress to devote more resources to infiltrating, tracking, and foiling nascent plots (during the 1940s, the KKK was partly destroyed by a radio show that weaponized insider information against it), and he should instruct the federal government to initiate an information campaign against white-supremacist violence in much the same way as it has conducted crusades against drunk driving, human trafficking, and domestic violence. Just as the government must not react to these incidents by abridging the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment, obviously the First Amendment’s crucial protections must also remain intact. But where action is consistent with the law — there is no prohibition on monitoring hotbeds of radicalism, nor against punishing those who plan or incite violence — it must be vigorously taken.

2. Amidst the outrage and hoopla and grandstanding, we come out against universal background checks. From our editorial:

The idea is unconstitutional. It requires the establishment of a de facto federal gun registry — long a no-no in American politics. It would considerably inconvenience law-abiding gun owners while doing nothing to prevent the problem, mass shootings, to which it is being touted as a response. And, as even friendly studies from Washington and Colorado have shown, it doesn’t work.

Upholding the Constitution is a task that falls to all of government’s branches, not solely to the Supreme Court. One cannot uphold the Constitution and pass “universal background checks.” By explicit design, the federal government is prohibited from acting outside of the limited set of powers that the Constitution has granted to it. None of those powers permit it to superintend private firearms transactions that take place between two residents of a single state. Because it limits its remit to the regulation of federally licensed businesses and of commerce between the states, the existing background-check system does not fall afoul of the limits that have been placed on Washington. Because they explode that remit, universal background checks absolutely do. If the federal government is able to control what two citizens of a state do with their already-manufactured and already-purchased property, the federal government’s power has no boundaries. Every election season, Republicans tell us that if they are awarded a majority they will keep the Leviathan at bay. This is a chance for them to prove it.

About Next April . . .

We are full steam ahead with the National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise. A great week (April 19 – 26) sailing the historic river, from Basel to Amsterdam (visiting Cologne, Strasbourg, and several other beautiful German ports), in the company of Rich Lowry, Kevin Williamson, Jay Nordlinger, John O’Sullivan, David Pryce-Jones, Daniel Hannan, Sally Pipes, Charles Kesler, Amity Shlaes, Seth Lipsky, and others, awaits. Get complete information, and reserve one of the dwindling number of staterooms on the AmaWaterways luxurious AmaMora, at nrcruise.com/rhine.

Did You Order Andy’s Book?

Ball of Collusion is out next week. You can order it at Amazon, right here.

Don’t Be Miserable Because This Week WJ Is Recommending Only a Baker’s Dozen NRO Pieces — Editor Phil Is on a Sorta Vacation and We Have to Lighten His Load

1. Rich Lowry weighs in on the left’s doubled-down jihad against immigration restrictions and how it is blaming Donald Trump for the mass shootings. From his new column:

For all that the language police profess to care deeply about words, they aren’t very careful about rendering Trump’s. No one notes that in his Florida rally where a rallygoer notoriously yelled “shoot them” and Trump shook his head, smiled, and said “only in the Panhandle,” the president was in the midst of saying of border agents, “Don’t forget, we don’t let them, and we can’t let them, use weapons.”

The discrediting of views that show up in the manifesto only works one way. The shooter expresses a fear of automation and support for the universal basic income. Should we hold that against Andrew Yang? The shooter fears we’re on the verge of an environmental disaster. Should Jay Inslee tone it down?

When a member of Antifa was shot dead by police while attacking an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Washington state, Democrats weren’t made to answer for their harsh attacks on immigration enforcement.

It’s even a count against Trump that the shooter, too, says that Democrats favor “open borders.” If it’s going to be unacceptable to use the term “open borders” of a party that is getting closer and closer to embracing a policy of open borders, we might as well shut down the immigration debate now.

2. Kevin Williamson takes on the advocates of illiberal democracy. From his piece:

Cory Booker, trafficker in absurd racial conspiracy theories, is a great practitioner of illiberal democracy. In response to the shootings over the weekend, he demanded that . . . Republican campaign rallies be canceled as a public-safety measure. President Donald Trump’s rallies, he insists without anything that might plausibly be described as evidence, “inspire white nationalist attacks like the one in El Paso on Saturday.” Somehow, the pursuit of public safety always ends up disadvantaging the other party’s political efforts. One might be forgiven for failing to take Senator Booker seriously, for this and for many other reasons.

Elsewhere, progressives have called for forcibly disbanding the National Rifle Association, freedom of association be damned. Democrats elsewhere have called for designating the NRA a “terrorist organization.” Democrats in New York have abused the power they have over the financial-services industry to try to shut down the rival political organization through backdoor means.

Others have called for gutting the Bill of Rights and trampling on due process, empowering government to curtail, suspend, or revoke the civil rights of Americans who have not been arrested or charged with any crime, much less convicted of one.

3. Democrats are doxing Trump donors and demanding ostracization. Jonathan Tobin looks at the roll-out of liberal scorched-earth politics. From his column:

The aftermath of the El Paso shooting shows that today, among most liberals and Democrats, it’s the norm to deride Trump supporters as deplorable.

Trump has coarsened public discourse and made abusive comments about his opponents and illegal immigrants — often in response to attacks on him — but is he a racist? Liberal pundits now state this as a fact rather than a matter of dispute. Likewise, many are taking as a given the even more dubious assertion that Trump inspired the El Paso shooter and other white nationalists. This despite the fact that Trump has repeatedly condemned such violence and that the murderer’s online “manifesto” makes clear that he was both insane and that his views were not specifically inspired by Trump. He rails against “unchecked corporations,” for instance, and frets about urban sprawl, plastic waste, and oil drilling.

But, post–El Paso, many Democrats are drawing a moral equivalence between mass murder and the stance that Trump and his supporters take toward illegal immigration.

One can be alarmed by the surge of illegals crossing the border, and one can even use the word “invasion” to describe it, without wishing to engage in mass murder. But that possibility has been thrown to the winds in the effort to demonize Trump and connect the dots supposedly connecting Republicans and atrocities.

It would be foolish to think that this kind of judgmental attitude would or could be confined to attitudes about Trump.

4. Kayla Barsch makes the case for holding non-profit colleges to the same regulatory standards — based on graduation rates, student debt levels, et al. — as have been applied to for-profits. From the piece:

Given the past sins of so many for-profit colleges, it’s hard to see why releasing them from a reasonable regulation was a top priority for the Department of Education. But at the same time, it makes little sense to regulate for-profits while leaving nonprofits with the same problems alone: If a school leaves students with lots of debt and low earnings prospects, why should being a nonprofit preserve its federal funding?

For-profit colleges are not inherently bad. They essentially pioneered the online classroom, a move that received much backlash at the time. The option to take classes online has proved immensely valuable, opening the doors to students who were unable to fit traditional classes into their schedule, such as single parents and full-time workers.

Indeed, for-profit schools are the paragon of accessibility. By definition, selective schools cannot admit everyone. While critics often assert that for-profit colleges target and prey on low-income, veteran, and first-generation students, it is quite possible that this analysis is inverted: For-profit colleges fill a gap in the education sector, servicing nontraditional, low-income, veteran, and first-generation students when other institutions will not. In addition, because most students at for-profit colleges enjoy neither financial support from Mom and Dad nor the privilege of taking time off of work to study, the low graduation rates cannot be attributed entirely to the schools themselves. They stem at least in part from the realities of their students’ lives, which the Obama regulation did not take into account.

5. A new study reveals the impact of the world wide web on . . . fidelity. Betsy VanDenBerghe, Jeffrey P. Dew, and W. Bradford Wilcox discuss the highlights. From the beginning of their analysis:

Revolutions have a way of upending not only political landscapes but also marital and family terrain. The French Revolution’s emphasis on individual rights shifted marital norms well into the post-Napoleonic era, while the Industrial Revolution took women and children out of the home and into the factories. Even today, aftershocks still reverberate from the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.

What of the iRevolution? Does the Internet’s seismic impact on our professional and personal lives portend major or minor upheavals to our sexual norms? Do rumors of screen-addicted Millennials destroying marriage, or of Facebook liaisons spawning Boomer divorces, have any basis in reality? And is monogamy — as explained by Vox on Netflix — no longer attainable or desirable?

We have just released iFidelity: The State of Our Unions 2019. Using data drawn from a survey conducted by YouGov, the study examines the links between sexual fidelity online and relationship quality among American men and women. The iFidelity report also offers the first generational overview of how Americans think about sexual fidelity in the wake of the iRevolution.

6. Some 10 percent of America’s multiemployer pension funds are in trouble. A fiasco is unveiling. Andrew Wilford says reform, and not a bailout, is needed. Form his analysis:

Multiemployer pension funds — which are responsible for the retirement accounts of more than 1.3 million Americans — grew rapidly in popularity over the last several decades but now face a crisis, with roughly 10 percent at risk of going bankrupt. The federal government is supposed to serve as a lender of last resort for these at-risk Americans, but unfortunately congressional legislation threatens to entrench the risk these Americans are facing rather than make meaningful reforms to strengthen the system.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, before leaving town for summer recess. Proponents claim that this legislation would protect the pensions of over a million private employees whose pension funds have gone insolvent. In truth, all H.R. 397 does is kick the can down the road while saddling taxpayers with the cost in the meantime.

Multiemployer pension funds grew in popularity several decades ago as a means to protect employees against losing their pensions if their employers were to go bankrupt. The basic idea is this: Businesses and employees with some factor in common (this could be geographical area, union, industry, etc.) band together to create one single, collectively bargained pension fund for all participating employees. That way, if one business participating in the fund goes under, the fund remains operational.

But what if the funds themselves are at risk of running out of money? That’s the problem that roughly 10 percent of the nation’s 1,400 multiemployer pension funds find themselves in. Through mismanagement and promising benefits out of proportion with employee contributions, these pension funds are at risk of becoming insolvent.

7. Matthew Bentley has served his country and finds that it was military open burn pits — not the Taliban — that have proven the longest (permanent for many!) threat to those who put themselves in harm’s way for our freedoms. He also finds the VA needs a complete overhaul. From this very important piece:

In March of 2007, I returned home from a six-and-a-half-month deployment at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, as an extremely fit 35-year-old Marine captain. Within a month I started coughing and developed pneumonia, which was a first for me. Once I recovered, after nearly a month, I was still coughing, and I knew something was wrong. Over the next two and a half years, in addition to suffering chronic sinus infections and bronchitis, I underwent a complete battery of pulmonary-function tests, blood work, and exams, until finally a VA pulmonologist determined that I had suffered permanent damage to the small airways in my lungs. He called it the “chronic bronchitis type of COPD” and said it was likely a result of whatever I was exposed to in Iraq. It was irreversible but manageable. I separated from the Marine Corps in 2009 and made the rookie mistake of assuming that my lung condition was included in my disability rating from the VA. It was not.

Two years ago, the issue of burn pits — used at camps and bases to dispose of anything and everything, including wood, plastics, etc. — hit my radar. I researched it, and the more I learned, the more I became convinced that the burn pit at Camp Fallujah was the source of my problems, as I’d been completely healthy before my deployment. I reached out to the VA and was told to register for the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which as of this writing has 182,282 participants. I then discovered that my lung condition, the most serious disability I have, was not covered adequately, and I filed a supplemental claim with the VA. What followed was a 15-month-long battle that I chronicled in a series of columns. (I strongly recommend you read all three, especially part 3, which outlines how veterans can get their conditions covered and the specific criteria they need to meet.)

This is an issue that doesn’t get nearly the attention or the hard work in Congress that it deserves. There are countless veterans out there right now suffering in silence, possibly dying (some already have) or having their claims denied by the VA. Once denied, they have nowhere else to go or turn to for additional help, and they just give up.

8. Oh Baby! Maddy Kearns looks (disapprovingly!) at the childless/childish culture that is giving baby-making the stink eye. From her commentary:

Ann Berrington, a professor in demography and social statistics at the University of Southampton, tells the Guardian that this is partly due to younger generations’ “changing aspirations,” the increased access to contraception, the raising of the school-leaving age to 18, as well as new pressures facing twenty- and thirtysomethings, such as the lack of affordable housing. All of this is plausible. But if Ms. Berrington were to spend an evening eavesdropping at a Manhattan bar, she might cynically add the following: the embitterment of young women who have been taught to despise masculine men (whom they evidently still desire); the psychological prolongation of male adolescence, also known as Peter Pan syndrome; screens and emojis over love letters and flowers; and a general breakdown in communication between the sexes owing — largely — to a failure to acknowledge that the sexes are, in fact, quite different.

If she wanted to, Ms. Berrington could also add climate change, though that’s more like a description of the problem than it is a plausible cause. Climate change is as useful a proxy as any for this strange and paralyzing anxiety that is preventing us from getting on with the business of living and dying — destroying the wisdom of the past, stealing the joys of the present, and spreading imaginings so dark that many of us would rather forswear sex, marriage, babies (the whole lot!).

Despite “the easing of taboos” and “the rise of hookup apps,” some are calling this phenomenon a sexual recession. There’s no easy explanation. Consider, by contrast, that the post-war baby boom was driven by people who had endured far more immediate and tangible threats to their existence than we do now. So, what’s wrong with us?

9. Woodstock 50 never got off the ground, and Nate Hochman believes it was offed by the “larger corporatization of the ’60s counterculture that Woodstock represented.” From the piece:

How does one restore the revolutionary spirit to a revolution that has already been won? The “New Left” that Woodstock embodied — a coalition of radical cultural and political movements of the time — has ascended from the streets to the universities. Its contemporary proponents are more likely to write for the New York Times than for the hand-printed underground publications of old. Along the way, they have in many cases become parodic antitheses of their former selves, warmly embracing the establishment in opposition to which they once defined themselves.

Take feminism, for example. The feminism of the New Left was radical, combative, and distinctly revolutionary in its disposition. It was also, as one might expect, vehemently anti-capitalist. Angela Davis, summing up the zeitgeist of the 1960s feminist movement, famously declared that “as long as we inhabit a capitalist democracy, a future of racial equality, gender equality and economic equality will elude us.” And yet present-day feminism has wholeheartedly backed the capitalist system that Davis and her compatriots so vocally denounced. In their quest for elusive gender equity, feminists have enthusiastically reduced women’s humanity to the sum total of their economic output. Women everywhere were liberated from the “patriarchal oppression” of motherhood and the nuclear family, only to be made cogs in the capitalist machine. Cut off from the familial structure, encouraged instead to pursue economic accumulation at the expense of motherhood, the daughters of the Woodstockian radicals are now corporate executives at Google, Facebook, and Starbucks. The patriarchy has been dismantled, it seems — replaced instead with a corporate boardroom.

10. Taylor Dinerman reports on how Japan and South Korea are in a reparations war, and how it’s not good for America’s (or the Pacific’s) security. From his piece:

Japan says the 1965 agreement reestablishing relations between the two countries covers all the laborers’ claims; the Koreans disagree. Ideally, the Korean government would, as a matter of some urgency, compensate the aging workers now, so they can see justice while they remain alive, and then seek reimbursement from Japan using international-arbitration mechanisms. But alas, political realities in both nations make such a sensible solution impossible.

To put pressure on South Korea, Japan has chosen to cut off Seoul’s access to vital elements used to make the advanced microelectronic devices at the heart of South Korea’s thriving, modern economy. Japan’s decision to escalate the dispute by removing South Korea from the so-called “Whitelist” of countries to which advanced technologies can be freely exported will, in the short term, hurt a global marketplace already wracked with turmoil. In the long term, if the conflict drags on, continuing to deny the Koreans access to such technologies might pose serious threats to regional stability and security.

In November 2016, after years of effort by the Obama administration, South Korea and Japan signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), under which the two U.S. allies agreed to share information on missile and nuclear developments in North Korea and other regional trouble spots. The agreement provides a way for data from South Korean radars, U.S. radars based in South Korea, and other sensors to be fed into Japan’s air- and missile-defense system, which protects the country and the U.S. bases there and throughout the region.

11. The new female-revenge fantasy flick, The Kitchen, is spoiled. Armond White throws everything, including the kitchen sink, at it. From his review:

Anyone who has already suffered through this familiar plot gimmick in Steve McQueen’s very similar Widows has earned the right to scoff at The Kitchen. The irony of women stepping out of their “place” and becoming ruthless criminals — Three Hillary-era Musketeers — has very quickly lost its novelty.

This repellant behavior is equally the fault of graphic-novel pretense and female-revenge clichés. The idea that women should be idolized for acting as antisocial as men derives from both the juvenile cynicism of the publishing industry and the ethical indifference of political activists. McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss brazen their way through this nonsense with an undisguised sense of justification — they think they’re defending the rights of suppressed women to get some self-respect back from a social order that has victimized them.

It is the double-entendre title that exposes The Kitchen as cartoon feminism. The social realities of the Mayor Abe Beame–era of New York City are ignored in favor of CGI-manufactured nostalgic realism. Worse is the implication that these three women, in the middle of feminist advancement, settled scores by opposing societal norms. Only a few moments show these actresses leavening their personal resentment with winning wit: McCarthy’s Kathy conveys frustrated motherhood in a dinner-table scene; Haddish’s Ruby performs sullen black resentment; and Moss’s Claire fulfills the victim’s dream of reprisal — telling a male to teach her how to be merciless and violent on her own is the film’s central theme.

12. Kyle Smith finds After the Wedding to be “so contrived it amounts to the equivalent of an exceptionally glossy episode of Days of Our Lives.” Hey, I used to watch that with my grandmother. Anyway, from the outset of his review:

Consider two kinds of mother, or rather two extreme varieties of maternal fantasy: Mother Teresa vs. Martha Stewart. Each archetype plays expertly on a tempting fancy within the female psyche. In After the Wedding, Michelle Williams plays a selfless, almost celestial being who mothers the children of the world without regard for her own comfort by running an orphanage in Calcutta. On the other side of the world, Julianne Moore is the embodiment of leaning in; she’s a rich corporate titan who provides spectacularly for her three children, all of whom seem lovely and well cared for in their elegant suburban mansion. These two mothering styles are about to collide.

Isabel (Williams), who in effect is the mother of a panicky eight-year-old boy who lives in the orphanage, is torn when she is called to New York City to give an account of herself to the benefactor who is funding the children’s home. That benefactor turns out to be Theresa (Moore), the founder of a successful ad-placement firm who is about to sell her company and make many millions in the process. How many is many? She might have an extra two, or even 20, to give Isabel for the orphans. To bring home a suitcase full of funds, Isabel will have to perform in a kind of audition, in more ways than she knows.

Isabel arrives in New York as Theresa’s oldest child, Grace (Abby Quinn), is about to get married at the posh home Theresa shares with her impossibly warm and thoughtful artist husband (Billy Crudup), so while details of the philanthropic gift are being worked out, Theresa invites Isabel along to the wedding as well. Inviting a total stranger to one’s daughter’s wedding at the last minute seems like a strange move, but things are about to get far stranger. What’s going on here?

13. The NCAA’s new rules demanding that NBA agents have college degrees gets the THAT’S STUPID treatment from Kat Timpf. From her takedown:

Sorry — but this is so, so stupid. In fact, the very reason why agents should not be required to have a degree can be found in the NCAA’s own argument that they should: “some can and have been successful without a college degree.” If it is literally proven that people do not need a degree to do this career, and to do it successfully (and I’d certainly say being LeBron James’s agent would qualify as “successfully”), then making them get one anyway makes about as much sense as also making them get a cosmetology license.

The new rule is an especially awful idea considering the current student-debt crisis. As of 2018, almost 45 million Americans collectively owe $1.56 trillion in student-loan debt. To put things in perspective, $1.56 trillion is about $521 billion more than all of the credit-card debt in the entire country. That’s no joke!

The New Issue of NR Is Out, and You Really Must Read It

Here is a generous sampler of four pieces from the August 26, 2019, on-dead-paper manifestation of the thing Bill Buckley created in 1955:

1. Madeleine Kearns’s powerful cover essay is a thoughtful and comprehensive rebuttal of efforts of legalize prostitution — efforts she says will just intensify the savagery and volume of sex-trafficking. From her essay:

On the left, politicians are increasingly responding to a global movement of so-called sex-positive feminism, funded to the tune of millions and advanced by mainstream celebrities and journalists. Its advocates maintain that “sex work” is a legitimate—even empowering—form of labor. On the right, this view is helped along by laissez-faire libertarians, who consider it a moral right to engage in market activities without state interference, and by conservatives, who maintain that regulation of legal prostitution would contain and sanitize the industry. Indeed, proponents on both the left and the right suggest that legalization would make prostitution safer for those involved while lessening the scale of sex trafficking. They are wrong on both counts.

In 2013, a study published in World Development—titled “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?”— examined cross-sectional data from 116 countries. The re searchers found that “the legalization of prostitution has two contradictory effects on the incidence of trafficking, a substitution effect away from trafficking and a scale effect increasing trafficking.” What the study’s authors discovered is that the scale effect outweighs the substitution effect. In other words, there is more sex trafficking in countries with legalized prostitution than in countries where prostitution is prohibited. An additional cross-country comparison of Sweden (where prostitution is criminalized) with Denmark (where it is decriminalized) and Germany (where it is legalized) had consistent findings.

There is a moral objection, too. While a degree of coercive influence is expected in any labor arrangement (the fear of not being able to pay rent, for example, might motivate a person to stick to an unpleasant job), many believe that prostitution— overwhelmingly female—is inherently and inexcusably exploitative. Informed by this conviction, the Swedish parliament passed a law in 1999 that outlawed pimping, brothels, and the purchase of sex—though not the sale of one’s own body; thus, pimps and johns are prosecuted, but not prostitutes. The “Nordic model,” as it’s now known, is informed by social-democratic theory; the original, post–World War II definition of human rights; and a feminism that views prostitution as a structural barrier to gender equity. In practical terms, the result has been to shrink Sweden’s prostitution market while decreasing the rate of sex trafficking. It’s been so successful that Norway, Iceland, Canada, France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Israel have all followed suit. America would be wise do to the same.

2. Christopher Caldwell considers the massive immigration threat on Europe’s southern flank. From the beginning of his essay:

Almost the entire population of Italy, it seems, spent the last week of June watching a boat arrive from across the Mediterranean. It was the SeaWatch 3, a Netherlands-registered ship funded by progressive philanthropists and captained by Carola Rackete, a 31-year-old German climate-change activist. Rackete radioed that she was carrying 42 African refugees rescued at sea who were in desperate health. Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini holds that such ships rendezvous with traffickers just off the Libyan coast, and are really less interested in rescuing sailors than in transporting illegal immigrants to Europe en masse. “Taxis,” he has called them. And indeed, Rackete had been doodling about at the edge of Italy’s territorial waters for several days, charting a course less consistent with any health emergency than with a wish to land her human cargo in the European Union, where it is easy to apply for political asylum and where even those whose applications are rejected are almost never deported. Since his Lega party began sharing power in a populist coalition a year ago, Salvini’s decision to close Italy’s ports to such ships has made him the country’s most popular politician by a mile—and arguably, though he is still only a cabinet minister, the leader of the Western European political Right.

This time Salvini failed. Rackete broke through a line of Coast Guard ships in the pre-dawn hours of June 29 and made port on the island of Lampedusa, allegedly ramming a customs ship in the process, a maneuver for which she was arrested. Italians were riveted to their smartphones and TV sets. A good number of Lampedusans even lined the docks in the middle of the night to holler their wish that she be prosecuted—and worse. But when “Carola,” as she was increasingly known to the public, was released in early July, a crowd of supporters waved signs with handmade hearts. She still faces criminal charges. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, the Social Democrat Heiko Maas, backed Rackete against the Italian authorities. “Saving human lives is no crime,” he said.

If Rome and Berlin have been transfixed by a nautical incident involving only a few dozen African seafarers, it is for a simple reason: There are a billion more where those came from. And how Europe addresses African migration is going to determine what the population of the continent looks like a generation from now.

3. Big Mikey Dougherty, opting for Burke over Locke, pens a powerful essay on why he is not a liberal (classical division). From the beginning of his essay:

Should conservatives think of themselves as classical liberals? In his new book, The Conservative Sensibility, George Will will have American conservatives only as “the custodians of the classical liberal tradition.” In Will’s telling, the alternative visions for the Right involve squalid worship of blood and soil. But this is an incomplete picture.

Because conservatism grew up as a hesitation in the liberal tradition, and because traditional conservatives and classical liberals find themselves allied so closely against progressivism and socialism, their vocabulary and self-conception are almost conjoined. Untangling them can almost sound like a riddle: A classical liberal believes man is free until the law touches him. A conservative believes he is free because the law guards him. A classical liberal guards his rights to do what he wants, a conservative protects his right to do what he must. One is a partisan of natural rights, the other of natural law. Often enough classical liberals, like Will, accept the label “conservative” proudly. And as a conservative, I still want to be thought of as possessing the virtue of liberality. The adjective suits some of us fine, but not the noun. I’m liberal, but not “a liberal.” This is not a new revelation to me in the Trump era, nor is it in service to some grand transformation of the American order, which has liberal and non-liberal elements.

We can define classical conservatism against its liberal counterpart. The classical conservative is more mindful of lived experience than of theory, is more zealous for the common goods we share than for the aggregate goods the market distributes, and sees our pre-liberal inheritance as the only source for preserving and renewing America’s liberal arrangements. Instead of getting our understanding of freedom from John Locke and his liberal theory, a classical conservative might look to Edmund Burke, or draw from a biblical worldview.

Conservatives tend to be most favorable to liberalism when it is given to us as Thomas Jefferson presented it, as the culmination and codification of the common-law tradition, as the ancient liberty of freeborn men, threatened by the engorged political authorities of modern absolute kings or tyrannical parliaments. A conservative may be deeply sympathetic to liberalism; its appeal and success are rooted in man’s desire that the law and his will should be reconciled, that an orderly and free society will arise spontaneously. But Enlightenment liberalism is not just the sum of the best medieval thinking; it is also a self-conscious break with that tradition.

4. Sam Sweeney reflects upon a Syriac Christian Renaissance in the Middle East, after decades of suppression of Aramaic and non-Arabic customs and traditions. From his article:

Before the Christian era, the dominant language of the Middle East was Aramaic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic. The lingua franca of vast swathes of present-day Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, Aramaic was spoken by Jesus himself in first-century Galilee and Judea. As the region adopted Christianity, the dialect of Aramaic spoken in Edessa (Sanliurfa in present-day Turkey) came to be known as “Syriac” and became the standard written language throughout the region. While Greek dominated early Christian scholarship farther west, Syriac was the language of learning, culture, and religion to the east. With the advent of Islam, however, Syriac lost its place to Arabic even among many Christians and survived as a spoken language in just a few small pockets of the Middle East. Genocide in Turkey against the Syriac, Armenian, and Greek communities in 1915 and 1916 reduced the Syriac presence in the region even further, and many Christians who spoke the language fled to Syria.

By the 1960s, Syrian political leadership had turned against the presence of non-Arab traditions and histories. While Syriac Christians continued to speak their language among themselves, it was not allowed as a secular language of instruction, and its place in the public sphere was limited to religious services. Few people could read it well, as school was taught entirely in Arabic, save for religion class, in which rudimentary Syriac was taught. The language was in peril of extinction. In 2011, in the spirit of the Arab Spring, many Syriac Christians saw an opportunity to revive their language.

Building on the principle that an all-encompassing movement is needed to preserve the community, Syriac organizations centered around the Syriac Union Party have emerged, dedicated to culture, education, women, humanitarian aid, and security. Not all Christians in the northeast back this movement, and many, probably most, have continued to side with the Syrian government, which still controls parts of Qamishli and al-Hasakah. But the movement is far from insignificant. It is tied to the ascendant power in the area, the Kurdish-led SDF, and even many of its Syriac Christian critics can sympathize with the desire to revive Syriac culture and identity. On a trip to northeast Syria in early April, I met many Christians who back the movement. They face significant challenges, not least of which is that many in their own community see them as the token Christian face of a Kurdish nationalist movement, puppets used to gain international support.

What’s a High-School Student to Do?

Maybe on September 13 and 14 attend the Young Americans for Freedom “Free Enterprise Leaders” conference in Washington, D.C. For only $45 (which covers seminar tuition, all materials, Friday and Saturday night lodging at the Westin Reston Heights Hotel, and four meals from Friday dinner to Saturday dinner (and yes, travel assistance is also a possibility)) your . . . son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew? . . . will experience a unique, life-changing conference (designed specifically for high-school students), which will be a de facto crash course in business and economics, taught by the likes of Steve Moore, Andrew Puzder, and others. You don’t have to be an Alex P. Keaton knockoff to participate. Fore more information and to register go here.

Okay, but What Is a College Student to Do?

Well, the next weekend (September 20–21), YAF will be hosting a “Road to Freedom” conference on “Secrets to Advancing Free Enterprise over Socialism.” The cost? Yep, only $45, and that includes everything enjoyed by the littler kids the previous week, and, yep again, travel assistance is possible. And Steve Moore will be teaching there too, along with Kristen Soltis Anderson, David Azerrad, and others. Get all the details right here.

The Six

1. In City Journal, Rafael Mangual makes the case for the imprisonment of . . . prisoners. Those that are in the hoosegow are where they belong. From the beginning of his essay:

Eight of the declared candidates contributed to a recent compendium published by the Brennan Center for Justice, titled Ending Mass Incarceration. The essays provide a useful summation of Democratic talking points on criminal justice. That the United States over-incarcerates is evidenced, reformers say, by the numbers: though it has about 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. houses about a quarter of the prisoners worldwide. America’s high incarceration rate, goes another assertion, is driven by the unjust enforcement of “low-level” and “nonviolent” offenses, particularly drug crimes. A further charge: the system is racist, given how much more likely blacks are to be behind bars compared with whites. Finally, they say that sentences have gotten way too long.

True, for a subset of America’s prison population, incarceration does not serve a legitimate penological end, either because these individuals have been incarcerated for too long or because they should not have been incarcerated to begin with. Justice dictates that we identify these individuals and secure their releases with haste. But none of the above claims advanced by the presidential hopefuls is correct—and acting on any of them would be disastrous. 

Start with drugs. Contrary to the claims in Michelle Alexander’s much-discussed 2010 bestseller The New Jim Crow, drug prohibition is not driving incarceration rates. Yes, about half of federal prisoners are in on drug charges; but federal inmates constitute only 12 percent of all American prisoners—the vast majority are in state facilities. Those incarcerated primarily for drug offenses constitute less than 15 percent of state prisoners. Four times as many state inmates are behind bars for one of five very serious crimes: murder (14.2 percent), rape or sexual assault (12.8 percent), robbery (13.1 percent), aggravated or simple assault (10.5 percent), and burglary (9.4 percent). The terms served for state prisoners incarcerated primarily on drug charges typically aren’t that long, either. One in five state drug offenders serves less than six months in prison, and nearly half (45 percent) of drug offenders serve less than one year.

That a prisoner is categorized as a drug offender, moreover, does not mean that he is nonviolent or otherwise law-abiding. Most criminal cases are disposed of through plea bargains, and, given that charges often get downgraded or dropped as part of plea negotiations, an inmate’s conviction record will usually understate the crimes he committed. The claim that drug offenders are nonviolent and pose zero threat to the public if they’re put back on the street is also undermined by a striking fact: more than three-quarters of released drug offenders are rearrested for a nondrug crime. It’s worth noting that Baltimore police identified 118 homicide suspects in 2017, and 70 percent had been previously arrested on drug charges.

2. More from Mangual, this time in the New York Post, where his opinion column explains why crime has plagued much-in-the-news Baltimore, relative to the former crime hellhole New York City. From his analysis:

Between 2007-2017, New York state and Maryland cut their prison populations by 19.5 and 22.9 percent respectively, according to a Vera Institute of Justice study. While there’s not much daylight between those figures, a big chunk of Maryland’s decarceration happened in just the last couple of years, as part of a reform package adopted in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017, Maryland cut its prison population by 10 percent, while New York’s dropped by just 0.7 percent.

Rapid, large-scale decarceration puts dangerous repeat offenders back on the street. According to Baltimore police stats, more than a third of the homicide suspects in 2017 were on probation or parole when their alleged offenses were committed.

The effective decriminalization of certain drugs has also added to the problem. Baltimore’s progressive chief prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, recently refused to charge a man found with 16 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle. And yet data show there’s a serious overlap between drug offenders and those who commit more violent crimes. In Baltimore, 70 percent of the murder suspects in 2017 had a prior drug arrest record. In New York City, that percentage was just 38 percent as recently as 2012, the most recent year for which data was immediately available.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière explains that France is in a very bad way. From his report:

France today is a country adrift. Unrest and lawlessness continue to gain ground. Disorder has become part of daily life. Polls show that a large majority reject President Macron. They seem to hate his arrogance and be inclined not to forgive him. They seem to resent his contempt for the poor; the way he crushed the “yellow vest” movement, and for his not having paid even the slightest attention to the protesters’ smallest demands, such as the right to hold a citizens’ referendum like those in Switzerland. Macron can no longer go anywhere in public without risking displays of anger.

The “yellow vests” seem finally to have stopped demonstrating and given up: too many were maimed or hurt. Their discontent, however, is still there. It seems waiting to explode again.

The French police appear ferocious when dealing with peaceful protesters, but barely able to prevent groups such as “Antifa” from causing violence. Therefore, now at the end of each demonstration, “Antifa” show up. The French police seem particularly cautious when having to deal with young Arabs and illegal migrants. The police have been given orders. They know that young Arabs and illegal migrants could create large-scale riots. Three months ago, in Grenoble, the police were pursuing some young Arabs on a stolen motorcycle, who were accused of theft. While fleeing, they had an accident. Five days of mayhem began.

President Macron looks like an authoritarian leader when he faces the disgruntled poor. He never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand or suffered irreversible brain damage from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest, the presumption of innocence and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.

4. At Minding the Campus, George Leef challenges Dennis Weisman’s essay in Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine, which claims there is no good argument against college admission preferences. From Leef’s rebuttal:

To this day, there is no proof that mixing in a quota (or, as diversity advocates put it, “critical mass”) of students from certain racial groups does anything to improve the level of education for any students, much less for all of them. There is, however, some strong evidence that by mismatching weaker students with more demanding schools, we harm educational outcomes.

In their book Mismatch, Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr. showed that many students admitted for “diversity” reasons to prestige schools would have been better off had they enrolled in a school where they were not at a competitive disadvantage with academically stronger students. Similarly, when economists Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo, and V. Joseph Hotz studied the outcomes of University of California students who had been admitted with lower academic qualifications to increase diversity, they concluded that “lesser-prepared minority students at top-ranked campuses would have higher science graduation rates had they attended lower-ranked campuses.”

So, there is evidence that “diversity” for its own sake has negative educational outcomes rather than the positive ones imagined by Justice O’Connor and many others. Strangely, however, we never hear college and university leaders express any doubt that racial preferences are beneficial, and Weisman ignores that possibility. It seems this is an issue where merely having good intentions is all that matters.

But even if racial preferences don’t lead to better education, maybe they lead to other good institutional outcomes. That’s where Weisman goes next in his essay, arguing that administrators could be acting to raise their school’s prestige level when they adopt admission preferences. “Harvard,” he writes, “would have no incentive to depart from an admissions standard that reinforces its reputation as one of the world’s foremost educational institutions.” Do the leaders of prestige universities actually know that using racial preferences makes them more illustrious? Perhaps, but Weisman adduces no evidence to support that claim.

5. At Law & Liberty, Nathaniel Peters makes the Christian case for religious liberty, which is the fruit of faith, not the Enlightenment. From the beginning of his essay:

Secular liberals and conservative opponents of political liberalism both see religious liberty as the product of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. According to the secular liberal narrative, religion—at least Christianity—is intolerant and prone to violence. Indeed, the modern state became the schoolmaster of faith precisely because its adherents had become so unruly and violent during the Reformation and subsequent wars of religion. Once religious pluralism became a fact and the state held the social monopoly on violence, European societies learned to embrace religious tolerance. Religious liberty and liberty of conscience came from enlightened reactions to religion, not religion itself.

Conservative critics of religious liberty agree, but see religious liberty’s Enlightenment roots as evidence of its cheapening of religion. They claim that religious liberty is an impossible attempt to be neutral about the highest human goods that ought to order a society; it is a cloak for religious or anti-religious commitments, or relativism.

Robert Louis Wilken argues directly against the secular liberal critique and by implication against the conservative illiberal one. In Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom, the eminent historian of Christianity shows how the idea of religious liberty present in the earliest fathers of the Church was employed in the stormy debates of the Reformation and the American founding. Wilken argues that religious liberty’s critics get the story backwards: Religious liberty is the fruit of Christianity, not the Enlightenment or later secular thought, and was present in Christian thought from the very beginning. Over time, Christian thinkers came to consider religious freedom or liberty of conscience not only a matter of toleration (a policy of restraint toward objectionable beliefs) or an accommodation from ruling authorities, but “a natural right that belongs to all human beings.”

6. Our old pal Christian Schneider, now toiling for The College Fix, pens a Wall Street Journal op-ed about the growth of college “bias-response teams,” which often spring into Kangaroo Courting when eavesdropping coeds get triggered by within-earshot unwoke-ness. From his piece:

Supporters of bias-response teams argue they are harmless, since they typically cannot formally discipline anyone. “They do not shut down free speech or charge into classrooms to stop offensive statements from faculty members or students,” two professors, two administrators and a doctoral candidate argued in a June article for Inside Higher Education.

Yet schools often investigate the complaints, and the teams themselves can call the accused in to demand an explanation in front an administrator or a panel of “diversity” specialists. At the University of Illinois, law-enforcement officers sit on the bias-response board—making the body a literal speech police. Complaints go down in permanent, often public, records, which can effect future employment prospects. Most bias-response systems don’t offer any process by which the accused can clear their names.

The reporting is often ideologically biased. A Michigan State University student reported his dorm roommate for watching a video of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. When a University of Oregon professor defended Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, a female student reported she was “deeply offended” by the “false, ignorant, biased commentary” that “completely discredited sexual assault survivors like myself and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, among countless other women.”

Baseballery

Having read that Eddie Mathews was the only man to ever play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, thoughts and curiosities stirred, such as: Did anyone play for all the initial expansion teams, namely, the Mets, Astros, Rangers (newbies in 1961 as the Washington Senators, the old team having vamoosed to Minnesota), and Angels? Actually, two did, one of them being baseball’s career strikeout leader, Nolan Ryan. Indeed, he played for only those teams.

The other was his former teammate, Darren Oliver, who played for those four teams, as well as the Cardinals and Red Sox, as well as (is there an echo here?) some newer expansion teams: the Rockies, Blue Jays, and Marlins. Is he the man who played for the most non-original MLB teams? Yours truly has to find out that, although with 14 expansion teams since 1961, seven might be short of the record.

By the way, Oliver tossed the ball for 20 years, but never once made an All-Star team. And he was the son of early ‘70s slugger Bob Oliver, who also was a teammate of . . . Nolan Ryan.

Similar-ish. One man played for the original Washington Senators, the new ones, the Minnesota Twins (rebirth of the old Senators), and Texas Rangers (rebirth of the new Senators). It was slugger Don Mincher, who also has the distinction of being one of the few men to wear the uniform of the Seattle Pilots. He also joined the expansion-ing California Angels.

A Dios

Of the archangels, Michael is the one we papists turn to in order to seek intervention against the wickedness and snares of Satan, who seems indeed to be running amok seeking the ruin of souls, more than usual. Mikey, help! Do not underestimate his powers.

God’s Blessings on All, Especially NR’s Readers and Supporters,

Jack Fowler

who communicates to you through a vertigo haze, and is set to receive any suck-it-up-candy-*** lectures at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

The WhatTheHel L Baltimore

Dear Jolters,

The author of this epistle has been through the “Charm City” (talk about contrived) and the “Monumental City” (that’s got some “Star-Spangled Banner” association, so no eyebrow-raising) plenty of times, but for work or play just twice. Playtime: While with friends at the Inner Harbor, Mr. Newlywed made sport of Mrs. Newlywed and earned himself a goodly and deserved doghouse stay. Worktime: Friend William needed a hand and vehicle to pick up a big honking thing from the Port of Baltimore, which resulted in an undertaking that, if filmed, would have been On the Waterfront 2.

Enough about my sad past. The president has spouted, and the environs of The House that Ruth Was Born In are now in the news, bigly. Back in 2015 our editor wrote about how Baltimore was symbolic as a Great Society failure. But native son Teddy Kupfer last week took some umbrage with the presidential dissing, and with Trumpaphilic spins that explained the tweets — which targeted local congressman Elijah Cummings — as an exercise in drawing national attention to an urban area (led by utterly corrupt pols) circling the drain and in need of help.

All that said, Armond White, who reviews flicks for this here website and has an utterly unique and no-punch-pulling style, happened to come to NR’s HQ this week (a rare but happy sighting) on the same day we published his essay on Baltimore and pop politics and the skewed (thanks to movies and popular tv programs) perceptions of the troubled town. It’s a history lesson that deserves your attention. Here’s a chunk:

This tendency toward Baltimore race caricature would proliferate in the bard’s work. As if to prove some kind of native loyalty, Levinson went on to produce the TV series Homicide: Life on the Streets (1993–99), an urban police drama that used Baltimore’s deprivation as fodder — normalizing urban and moral decay. Levinson followed that with the scabrous HBO series The Wire (2002–8), which introduced a roster of new-generation black stereotypes to authenticate the social fears first put into law through the 1994 Clinton crime bill. Even Obama saluted The Wire (“one of the best shows of all time”) and called the homicidal black gay villain Omar (Michael K. Williams) his favorite character.

Playwright Tony Kushner also praised The Wire, calling it the greatest television he’d ever seen. Given Kushner’s prominence (Angels in America, Spielberg’s Lincoln), this was the ultimate example of bleeding-heart liberal hyperbole, making racial awe, terror, and pity a cultural standard.

And yet, after so much self-satisfying self-delusion, we’re now meant to disregard social fact and cultural observation as racist. We’re not expected to apply our cultural experience to our political sense. The Battle of Baltimore isn’t exactly a battle of words, between President Trump’s tweet about conditions in Baltimore and Representative Elijah Cummings’s race-card-by-tweet defense, but a cultural contretemps suggestive of something more insidious: This sinister propaganda game is really a new culture war in which negative inference is used to distract from the civic issue. The legacy of all these pop artifacts proves what everyone — including President Trump — knows: that politicians have failed Baltimore.

By the way, our late and great colleague, D. Keith Mano, was a Homicide script writer. You should familiarize yourself with his exceptional talent. Here’s his archive.

Editorials

1. Nyet! The “Moscow Mitch” moniker is hooey. From the editorial:

Senate Democrats asked for unanimous consent to these bills knowing they would not receive it and pretended to be shocked when they didn’t get it. The media then gobbled up a narrative about McConnell stopping action on an issue right after being warned about how serious a problem it was.

To be clear, foreign election interference is, indeed, a serious threat. According to the recent Intelligence Committee report, while there’s no sign that vote totals have been manipulated, there have been successful efforts to access sensitive information such as voter registration.

Less well known, however, is that there’s already been immense progress on this issue. The Department of Homeland Security and the states have gotten far better at addressing it since the 2016 election; Congress provided the states $380 million for election security just last year; under McConnell, the Senate has passed bills to further deter and punish those who interfere in elections. Still, additional efforts are warranted, and some of those efforts could require legislation.

Can You Eat this Heaping Plate of 16 NRO Cannoli? Of Course You Can, and You Will. Mangia Mangia!

1. Ronald Reagan, racist? Jay Nordlinger, sparked by the revelation of a telephone-call transcript from a 1971 chat with President Nixon, digs deep into the broad record of the conservative icon, now under attack. From his report:

I hate what Reagan said to Nixon, in that phone call. It is a mark against him. I also think he was a greatly admirable man, who advanced the cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights. Was he guilty of inconsistencies and hypocrisies along the way? Of course. To say it again, he was a man. Who would ’scape whipping?

What if your phone calls, and other conversations, were recorded? Would you ’scape whipping? If so, you should not be here. You would have ascended by now.

When Reagan was elected president in 1980, I was against him. (I sent a letter to President Carter, commiserating with him.) (In 1976, I had sent a similar letter to President Ford, commiserating with him!) (Maybe I sympathize with the losing side?) In November 1980, I was in eleventh grade, age 16. My town was Ann Arbor, Mich., “a small citadel of the Left,” as I call it.

My views on Reagan began to change at the end of March in 1981 — a little more than two months into his presidency. I wasn’t with him on policy, either foreign or domestic. (What did I know, by the way?) But I took a new look at the man: because, when a bullet ripped through his chest, he handled himself with real courage and grace.

No longer was he for me a cartoon: the dunce, the Neanderthal, the bigot. The nuclear cowboy (“Ronald Ray-gun”). The B-movie actor who, with a smile and some Deaver-crafted hocus-pocus, had gulled people into electing him president. That cartoon was over for me forever.

2. Baltimore More: Speaking of racists . . . Kyle Smith feels compelled to restate the obvious: that Al Sharpton — Tweet-slobbered by various Democratic presidential wannabes — is not a Civil-Rights Hero. From the piece:

Sharpton holds the position of America’s Senior Spokesman for Civil Rights only because it’s been some time since he’s done anything so egregiously contemptible that it made the front page; the Left simply assumes short memories have sanitized Sharpton’s reputation. I almost wrote “inflammatory reputation,” but that word might be too literal given the arson attack that followed one of his most notorious hate campaigns.

After a black boy, Gavin Cato, was accidentally killed by a motorcade of Jews in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 1991, Sharpton delivered an incendiary eulogy at the funeral:

All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no coffee klatch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’.

For extra incendiary effect, he urged the crowd to think of Jews as “diamond merchants” responsible for apartheid in South Africa, and he marched at the head of an angry group of demonstrators on the Jewish sabbath. Rioters subsequently murdered Yankel Rosenbaum, a Jewish youth, in retaliation. Twenty years later Sharpton issued a watery not-quite apology in the form of a Daily News op-ed.

Four years later, in 1995, Sharpton inflamed tensions on Harlem’s 125th Street that culminated in the murders of seven people in an arson attack. The owner of the building in dispute was actually a black Pentecostal church, whose leaders had asked a Jewish tenant to evict a black subtenant, who enlisted the aid of Sharpton and other race-baiters to whip up street protests. At one such demonstration, Sharpton shouted,

There is a systemic and methodical strategy to eliminate our people from doing business off 125th Street. I want to make it clear . . . that we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.

3. And while we’re at it, Heather Mac Donald, dealing in fact rather than leftist fiction, summarizes the most recent studies that show that the claims of racist police shootings are, yes, bogus. From the outset of her piece:

The Democratic presidential candidates have revived the anti-police rhetoric of the Obama years. Joe Biden’s criminal-justice plan promises that after his policing reforms, black mothers and fathers will no longer have to fear when their children “walk the streets of America” — the threat allegedly coming from cops, not gangbangers. President Barack Obama likewise claimed during the memorial for five Dallas police officers killed by a Black Lives Matter–inspired assassin in July 2016 that black parents were right to fear that their child could be killed by a police officer whenever he “walks out the door.” South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has said that police shootings of black men won’t be solved “until we move policing out from the shadow of systemic racism.” Beto O’Rourke claims that the police shoot blacks “solely based on the color of their skin.”

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demolishes the Democratic narrative regarding race and police shootings, which holds that white officers are engaged in an epidemic of racially biased shootings of black men. It turns out that white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians. It is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer. The more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer. In fact, if there is a bias in police shootings after crime rates are taken into account, it is against white civilians, the study found.

The authors, faculty at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland at College Park, created a database of 917 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 from more than 650 police departments. Fifty-five percent of the victims were white, 27 percent were black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Between 90 and 95 percent of the civilians shot by officers in 2015 were attacking police or other citizens; 90 percent were armed with a weapon. So-called threat-misperception shootings, in which an officer shoots an unarmed civilian after mistaking a cellphone, say, for a gun, were rare.

4. Intern James Sutton pens a big analysis on why the California GOP has been in such a sharp decline, and the answer is not enraged Latino voters. Lots here to ponder, to agree with, to disagree with. From the piece:

The California GOP, then, is a loser in the Republican shift away from suburban voters and towards rural and Rust Belt voters. This hasn’t exactly hurt the party nationally, as 2016 saw historic gains for Republicans in the Senate and the creation of the most conservative Supreme Court in the modern era, serving as a rebuke to the much-derided 2012 “autopsy,” which argued that the GOP needed to pass immigration reform, among other things. But Trump’s successes came from essentially doubling down on a shrinking electoral group, the now-legendary white working class.

And if the 2016 results are anything to go by, hairs-breadth victories in the Rust Belt may come at the price of the Sun Belt. Hillary Clinton, the least popular Democratic candidate in recent memory, was competitive in Arizona and won Nevada; Texas, too, is not becoming any redder (to round out the “belt” analyses, the Bible Belt will almost certainly remain a Republican stronghold).

Becoming a battleground state in presidential elections again might be aiming too high for California’s GOP, however. But capturing merely a third of the seats in the state’s congressional delegation would increase the number of California Republicans in the House from seven to 17. A ten-seat gain is not nothing.

5. John McCormack thinks the one bright — but soon to burn out — performer at the Democratic debate was former Rep. John Delaney, who schooled Bernie Sanders on health care. From the report:

Delaney explained that Medicare for All would fund all health-care expenditures at current Medicare rates — only about 80 percent of the real cost of health care, while private insurance pays 120 percent. “So if you start underpaying all the health-care providers, you’re going to create a two-tier market where wealthy people buy their health care with cash, and the people . . . like my dad, the union electrician, will have that health-care plan taken away.”

Sanders was visibly angry at times. When Delaney noted he was the only candidate with experience in the health-care business, Sanders snapped: “It’s not a business!” Sanders’s response to Delaney’s argument about the true cost of health care was that Medicare for All would save $500 billion a year by “ending all of the incredible complexities that are driving every American crazy trying to deal with the health-insurance companies.”

“Listen, his math is wrong,” Delaney replied. “I’ve been going around rural America, and I ask rural hospital administrators one question: ‘If all your bills were paid at the Medicare rate last year, what would happen?’ And they all look at me and say, ‘We would close.’”

6. Boris Time: Kyle Smith has popped and buttered the kernels and settles in for endless entertainment from 10 Downing Street. From his piece:

Whether Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, can deliver Brexit is unclear, but never before in its thousand-year history has Britain been led by a bankable, undeniable, tried-and-tested TV star. Welcome to the BoJo Show. It’s going to be a hoot.

A superannuated political hack once told me that the weekly sparring session called Prime Minister’s Questions [PMQs] was “the greatest show in the West End.” That was during the premiership of David Cameron, the P.R. man–turned–pol. Cameron was slick, smooth, and controlled, but the difference between him and Johnson is like the difference between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Britney Spears. If PMQs is intrinsically the best show in the best theater district in all of Europe, what happens when its star is an actual showman, a guy who owes his fame and ultimately his ascent to No. 10 to his many appearances on the comedic quiz show Have I Got News for You?

It’s been more than a quarter-century of hacks, flacks, and bureaucrats guiding the United Kingdom since the Iron Lady was chased out of Downing Street. Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister, Theresa May, was so boring that the only detail the political cartoonists could work with was that she sometimes wore leopard-print kitten heels. The Johnson era, however long it may last (and it may last quite some time, indeed), promises to be a giddy romp. Dull moments are hereby canceled.

7. John O’Sullivan, on the Brexit Watch, thinks that a special parliamentary by-election taking place in Wales might have a strong influence on the outcome of Leave / Stay, and on the length of PM Boris’s honeymoon. From his analysis:

If the Tories lose, that would cast a blight on the honeymoon that Boris seems to be enjoying with the voters since he announced a new cabinet with only four of May’s Remainers in it and declared that he would deliver Brexit by October 31 with or without a deal. If the Lib Dems do indeed emerge as victors, moreover, that would freshen the winner’s laurels, which have been withering on Swinson’s forehead since she said she wanted a second referendum but would oppose Brexit even if it won. She later retracted, but most people believe she was sincere the first time, and the damage was done. A clear win would remove the memory of that.

The stakes were raised further when the Greens, the Welsh Nationalists, and the “Independent” group of anti-Brexit MPs announced they would not field separate candidates but instead ask their supporters to vote Lib Dem. The election will thus be seen as a battle royal in which Leave and Boris are pitted against Remain and Swinson. And it’s a battle in which the odds were against the Tories even before the Greens etc. decided to throw their votes to Swinson’s Lib Dems — Brecon and Radnor is a natural Lib Dem seat and is represented by them in the Welsh Assembly. The Tories have won it only twice.

In these circumstances, how should Brexiteers vote? Oddly enough, it’s not an obvious or easy choice, because there’s also a Brexit-party candidate in the mix. Brexiteers must therefore decide which is more important to them: extending the voters’ honeymoon with Boris and Leave by giving him this little local victory; or keeping the Tories committed to a Real Brexit by showing that the threat from Nigel Farage is still very much alive. If they want to extend Boris’s honeymoon, voting Tory is the way to go. It’s as simple as that.

8. Andy One: Mr. McCarthy explores the “OLC Guidance” on prosecuting a president and the fundamental dodge of the Mueller Report. From his analysis:

Because (a) the president was the principal subject of the obstruction probe and (b) the objective of such a criminal investigation is to indict wrongdoers, the pertinence of the OLC guidance is obvious. The question is: What is the effect of its application?

Until Mueller’s investigation, I would have thought this was straightforward. The president may not be indicted while in office. Notice: This does not mean the president may not be investigated while in office; nor does it mean the president may never be indicted. The investigation may proceed while a president serves his term; if the prosecutor finds sufficient evidence to charge a criminal offense, an indictment may be obtained from the grand jury as soon as a president is out of office.

That is, just as in any other case, the criminal allegation must be investigated, and a charging decision must be made. The only difference is: If the case is judged worthy of indictment, the indictment must be deferred until a president leaves office. This is key: The point of the guidance is not to give presidents a special defense that is unavailable to other Americans. Presidents are not above the law. The guidance is not of substantive significance; it is merely a matter of timing: In deference to the awesome responsibilities of the presidency, we do not permit the chief executive to be burdened during his term by the consuming effort and anxiety of defending against a criminal charge. Presidents are not spared forever from these burdens that other accused persons must bear, just while in office.

That, however, is not how the OLC guidance was construed by Mueller — or, I should say in light of Mueller’s patent unfamiliarity with the Mueller probe, by whoever on the special counsel staff was actually running the investigation.

9. Andy Two: Mr. McCarthy’s follow up looks at how the Mueller legal team spun the guidance with the goal of buttressing Congressional Democrats’ efforts to impeach the president. From the commentary:

In Part Two, we explore why Mueller’s staff of very able lawyers, many of them activist Democrats, twisted the OLC guidance. (Spoiler: Their priority was to get their evidence to Congress, intact and as quickly as possible, in hopes of fueling an impeachment drive, or at least damaging Trump politically.) We also analyze how attorney general Bill Barr deftly dealt with the Mueller staff’s gamesmanship.

As we observed at the end of Part One, Mueller’s report makes the whopper of the claim that prosecutors construed to OLC guidance to forbid them to make a charging decision on obstruction because they were trying to protect President Trump.

How’s that?

Well, Justice Department protocols prohibit prosecutors from prejudicing suspects by publicizing the evidence against them unless and until they are formally charged. The idea is that the government must refrain from speaking until it files an indictment. For at that point, the person becomes an “accused” under the Constitution, vested with all the due process guarantees our law provides: assistance of counsel, confrontation of witnesses, subpoena power — the full array of rights to challenge the government’s indictment.

10. Kevin Williamson, author of The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, appeared on Morning Joe to promote his new tome, and the Twitter reaction, well, sorta proved the book’s point. Our colleague followed the reaction. Here’s a slice:

Naturally, Twitter went ape after my appearance, which is the nature of Twitter, a place where people go to behave like chimps. (I do not exempt myself from that; social media never brought out the best in me, either, and my decision to stop using it is right up there with going to bed at 9:30 p.m. on the very short list of good choices I have made about my daily routine.) The usual banality and dishonesty were intensified this time around with the help of NARAL, which sent out a tweet claiming that I’d gone on Morning Joe and said some outrageous things about abortion and capital punishment, two subjects which did not in fact come up at all. (Here is the video. For those of you interested in my views on those subjects, here is an account of them I wrote for the Washington Post.) NARAL is of course not known for its honesty — it is a shill for the abortion industry that cannot even bear to keep the word “abortion” in its name — and neither are the rage-monkeys on Twitter.

NARAL’s lie had, as of this writing, been retweeted and liked about 5,000 times. Theater critic Adam Feldman of Time Out New York, whom I do not know and who probably does not share my politics, took the time to point out to NARAL that this lie is a lie. That was retweeted three times and liked nine times — and, of course, ignored by NARAL, which has declined to retract its libel or correct itself.

The ensuing performance-art/group-therapy Caffeine-Free Diet Maoist outrage circus has practically been lifted from the pages of my book. The lies are there, as is the stupidity: There have been calls to boycott CNN over my appearance (Morning Joe is on MSNBC) and sensitive middle-aged men have raged that they will burn their Dawson’s Creek DVDs in protest. (I use my middle initial in my byline partly as a courtesy to Kevin Meade Williamson, the gifted screenwriter behind Dawson’s Creek and much else, who must surely wish that I were named Bob. Occasionally, someone sends me a script or a treatment meant for him, and I always encourage those would-be Hollywood moguls to visit me at my office in Los Angeles as soon as possible to discuss the project. I don’t think the Scottish socialist and poetry publisher Kevin Williamson gets quite as much collateral damage.) Two reporters for Yahoo! — and it is difficult to believe that this story took two reporters — wrote the obligatory piece of lazy journalism, headlined: “Conservative commentator Kevin Williamson is in the hot seat again after an appearance on Morning Joe.” Which is to say: Two working journalists published a news article about a bunch of anonymous nobodies on Twitter sent into an emotional meltdown by an event that — in case you’ve missed this part—did not happen. The fact that there were two names on that byline — Gisselle Bances and Arjuna Ramgopal — means that Paul Krugman finally has some competition for the title of laziest man in journalism.

11. Keeping with the theme, Heather Wilhelm finds the Twitter mobbing of Mario Lopez — who dared to find trouble with little kids declaring themselves to be transgender — to be a smear, the kind that is, for her, ruining journalism. From her article:

Anyway, remember Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals? Remember that book’s detailed instructions on how to fight dirty when it comes to political warfare, including the maxim that one should “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”? That’s what a writer at Yahoo and the good folks at Twitter did to Lopez this week. It should alarm us all.

“Mario Lopez: It’s ‘dangerous’ for parents to support transgender kids,” blared an insistent headline Wednesday on Yahoo News. Not long after, a Twitter Moments headline popped up — what a coincidence! — declaring that “Mario Lopez’s comments from June on the #BelieveWomen movement and embracing gender expression in young children are receiving backlash.” Oh, wow! An online “backlash”! How very unusual! How exceedingly rare! The supposed evidence for this sweeping Twitter Moments statement, of course, was a link to the article at Yahoo News.

Here is a useful tip for navigating our bonkers new media culture, which is unfortunately dominated by a sizable group of over-educated knuckleheads who spend almost every waking hour on Twitter and wouldn’t know reality if it walked up in a clown suit and personally invited them to a Maoist struggle session: If you read on the Internet that something or someone is receiving a “backlash,” there is a sizable chance that the “backlash” in question actually consists of three or four tweets from random anonymous accounts. These accounts may or may not be run by middle-schoolers, the Russians, or the criminally insane, and they also usually have about 16 followers each.

12. Conrad Black has a theory on how the Russia Investigation will boomerang and play out. I like how this guy thinks. From his column:

What must be the ultimate step out on the limb is the media campaign to obscure to the public the fact that impeachment requires likely conclusive evidence of serious crimes, and to create the misconception that it is like a non-confidence vote in the parliaments of Britain, Canada, or Israel. It isn’t really a criminal matter at all; it’s just acute distaste, and severely unseemly behavior and utterances. This is why there is this febrile overreaction to Trump’s clever ploy of painting four new extremist congresswomen as the true face of the Democrats, and over his powerful reply to histrionic abuse of the acting Homeland Security director by the decayed 13-term relic of corrupt Democratic bossism, Baltimore [ward-heeling] congressman Elijah Cummings. The media echo chamber is shrieking “racist” from the Washington rooftops, but Trump has never been tainted with the least hint of racism. The facts are that the four congresswomen are socialists, dislike Israel, trivialize the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and compare adequate if crowded facilities for those who have crossed the southern border illegally with Nazi death camps. Trump is commendably liberating the American political vocabulary from the extreme constraints of political correctness.

All radical political movements in sophisticated countries become more and more extreme until the sensible people force a deescalation: Thermidor in the French Revolution (1794), the New Economic Policy in Russia (1921), and, in the more genteel and bloodless convulsions of Washington, the censure of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in 1954. I predict that the Democrats will not be able to sustain any public interest in this farce during the congressional summer recess, that the Senate Judiciary Committee will start lifting the rocks on Democratic skullduggery in the early fall, and that the first indictments from the special counsel investigating the spurious investigators of Trump will come in late autumn. The usual pattern will be followed: Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, already before the grand jury, will implicate Comey, who will implicate former attorney general Lynch, who will lay it on Obama. I doubt that Obama will be prosecuted, but his Mr. Clean image will not survive. And what now appears to be the only hope that Senators Sanders, Harris, and Warren have of stopping Joe Biden rests, with rich irony, on whether the new special counsel, John Durham, finds any complicity of the former vice president in this debacle. When the indictments come, it will develop unstoppable momentum and acquire a name like Comeygate. The trend has been constant from the beginning to the present: a protracted failure of the Democrats to stop the Trump phenomenon despite the employment of extraordinary dirty tricks to do it.

13. Meanwhile, Matthew Continetti finds the impeachment penchant will not go away for Capitol Hill Democrats. From his column:

But President Trump and Republicans would be wrong to assume that the Democrats’ drive to impeachment has ended. The will to overturn the 2016 election never depended on Mueller. He was merely the most likely instrument of Trump’s undoing. Democrats have called for impeachment since Trump’s inaugural. What they have lacked is the means. Maxine Waters raised the idea in February 2017, months before Trump fired James Comey and set in motion the train of events culminating in Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. Tom Steyer launched Need to Impeach in October 2017, a year and a half before Mueller filed his report. Last January, on the first evening of the House Democratic majority, Rashida Tlaib declared her intention to “impeach this m—f—r.”

The impeachment resolution the House voted on last week had nothing to do with Mueller or his report. It found Trump guilty “of high misdemeanors” and “unfit to be president” because of his “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” The measure didn’t even pretend to have a relationship with actual criminal or civil law. It received 95 votes nonetheless, all Democrats, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The same man who, after Mueller’s belly flop, argued before the Democratic Caucus that he has enough material to begin impeachment right now. Mueller’s testimony might not increase the number of House Democrats for impeachment from less than half (40 percent) to a majority. But it’s not as if that percentage is about to decrease, either.

Democrats overwhelmingly support impeachment. Forty percent of adults in the most recent Economist/YouGov survey say Congress should try to impeach President Trump. That number rises to 70 percent among Democrats. It is no wonder why. Trump is a one-man rebuke of progressivism, of political correctness, of a humanitarianism that does not recognize citizenship or national borders. Since 2016 an entire media-political infrastructure has been built to push the messages that Trump’s election was illegitimate, Trump’s actions in and out of office are criminal, and Trump ought to be excised from the government as quickly as possible. Even if Mueller and his report fade from view — and there is no guarantee they will — the president’s adversaries will continue to search for the annihilating angel who will deliver them from Donald Trump.

14. David French finds Senator Josh Hawley’s aggressive efforts to have government (the same folks who run the DMV!) oversee major social media platforms to be a threat to free speech. From his analysis:

I fully agree that social-media platforms should reform their speech policies. I also agree that too many Americans spend too much time on their phones. But there is a dramatic difference between declaring that something is a problem and believing that government should act to solve that problem. In fact, the very determination that government should act — rather than relying on a free citizenry to exercise its liberty responsibly — can be harmful to a nation and to a culture.

The SMART Act is a remarkable attempt at micromanaging the design of popular online products. It would ban, for example, “infinite scroll” (the feature that allows you to thumb rapidly through a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed), the “autoplay” of a new video after the user finishes the one he initially selected (on sites like YouTube, but not on the ultimate autoplay device in American homes, your television), and certain gaming features on social-media apps, such as Snapchat’s “streaks” (which record how many consecutive days you’ve communicated with friends).

Welcome to the Republican Daddy state. It responds to a social challenge with a blunt instrument that hurts responsible users of popular applications — which is to say, the overwhelming majority of all users — while not providing any concrete evidence that it will cure the extraordinarily complicated underlying problem it’s attempting to address: the rise of anxiety, depression, and polarization that correlates with the rise of social media and the smartphone but is caused by a multiplicity of factors.

I’m getting a strange sense of déjà vu. Remember the height of the Clinton administration, when the V-chip was going to help American parents shield their children from the depravity of television? In the years after we saw unconstitutional bans on the sale of violent video games to minors.

15. John Hirschauer commends the honesty of Candance Bushnell, in her post-fertile years now bemoaning her decision to go kidless. But he has little sympathy. Maybe even no sympathy. Who’s . . . kidding . . . who? Anyway . . . from his reflection:

It’s easy to be reductive and say that all feminists are anti-family. I’m not sure that’s fair. But there’s no question that some of feminism’s most iconic thinkers were virulently opposed to homemaking, marriage, and the nuclear family itself. Take Betty Friedan, who in her now-canonical tome The Feminine Mystique insisted that “women who ‘adjust’ as housewives, who grow up wanting to be ‘just a housewife,’ are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps . . . . they are suffering a slow death of mind and spirit.”

Feminist author and practicing witch Robin Morgan said much the same, declaring that feminists “can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” And Linda Gordon, in an (often misquoted) article in the journal Women, cautions against destroying the family outright but longs for the day that “families will be finally destroyed” as “a revolutionary social and economic organization permits people’s needs for love and security to be met in ways that do not impose divisions of labor, or any external roles, at all.”

These are but three frequently cited examples in an intellectual tradition replete with anti-familial and anti-maternity sentiments. But it isn’t merely archival feminist literature that denigrates children and motherhood. It is the dominant cultural narrative: Go to college, work in HR, sleep around, don’t get married, participate in the Women’s March, and enjoy your childless twilight years as Chelsea Handler prescribes: “binge-watch[ing] ten hours of Storage Wars.”

But as Candace Bushnell has apparently discovered, life can be lonely when you’ve made a god of yourself.

16. John and intern Declan Leary tag team to exorcise America Magazine — the house organ for US Jesuits — for its smug/woke decision to publish a “Catholic” defense of Marxism. That’s the same thing we used to call “Godless Communism.” From the beginning of their takedown:

No sensible person has, of this writing, ever alleged that Dorothy Day was insufficiently amenable to Communism. So, that the Jesuit magazine America published a piece titled “The Catholic Case for Communism” — which asserts that Day, despite her relative sympathy for the movement, ends up unfairly dismissing the compatibility of a fully-realized Communism with a Catholic social order — suggests something unfortunate about its editors.

Day’s conclusion is antiquated, in the eyes of author Dean Dettloff. “A whole Cold War has passed since her reflection,” he writes, “and a few clarifying notes are now worthwhile.” It is either a baffling display of historical illiteracy or a dazzling display of commie bravado that Dettloff presumes that the Cold War will aid him in facilitating a positive understanding of his preferred philosophy.

Apparently oblivious to the brutal realities that forced the Cold War in the first place, he praises Day for “affirming the goodness that drives so many communists then and now.” In this, she “aimed to soften the perceptions of Catholics who were more comfortable with villainous caricatures of the communists of their era than with more challenging depictions of them as laborers for peace and economic justice.” Does he honestly believe that in 1933 — 1933, when Comrade Stalin was deliberately starving millions of Ukrainians in pursuit of peace and economic justice — Westerners were unduly harsh in their “caricatures of the communists of their era”? What exactly were they supposed to think of the Holodomor?

Dettloff almost cedes this point, admitting that “communism in its socio-political expression has at times caused great human and ecological suffering.” But that Dettloff, without a hint of irony or self-awareness, invokes the “suffering” of the environment in the same breath as the 100 million human deaths that Communism cost in the past century gives the lie to his pretensions at high-minded contrition for the sins of his comrades.

The Six

1. At Acton Institute’s Powerblog, Ben Johnson goes after America Magazine’s publishing of “The Catholic Case for Communism.” From his analysis:

While author Dean Dettloff claims to own Marxism’s “real and tragic mistakes,” he downplays these to the point of farce. He admits, without elaboration, that “Communism in its socio-political expression has at times caused great human and ecological suffering.” That seems a rather anodyne way to describe decades of imperialism, censorship, and torture; the Gulag archipelago, reeducation camps designed to eradicate the victim’s entire personality, and the systematic industrial slaughter of 100 million people (and still counting in North Korea, China, and Cuba).

In this America essay, the plight of Communism’s victims is reduced to the level of “ecological suffering.”

Similarly, Dettloff obfuscates about Communism’s hatred of religion in general and Christianity in particular. He will allow only that Marxist-Leninists “were committed Enlightenment thinkers, atheists who sometimes assumed religion would fade away in the bright light of scientific reason, and at other times advocated propagandizing against it.”

Had Communists restricted themselves to propaganda, they would have failed before taking power rather than 70 years afterward. The Bolsheviks murdered 2,691 Russian Orthodox priests, 1,962 monks, and 3,447 nuns in 1922 alone. Dettloff obliquely admits Communists persecuted religious people “at different moments in history” – apparently the Marxist equivalent of “some people did something.” In reality, Communist persecution of the Church was near-universal. The same cycle unwound in Spain, Hungary, Albania, North Korea, and Xi Jinping’s China. Its boot has fallen on the necks of such luminaries as Cardinal Mindszenty, Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, and an obscure Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla.

2. More Boris: Gatestone Institute’s Con Coughlin declares that Boris Johnson’s PMship will revive Britain’s global standing. From his piece:

The appointment of Boris Johnson as Britain’s new prime minister offers the serious prospect of a radical improvement in the bilateral ties between Washington and London following the froideur [chill] that came to define the transatlantic relationship under the outgoing prime minister, Theresa May.

While, in public, Mrs May offered loyal pledges of support to Donald Trump, and professed to enjoy a warm personal relationship with the American president, the reality was that the personal chemistry between the two leaders was often awkward, with Mrs May often failing to grasp Mr Trump’s radical approach to global affairs.

The differences between the two are best summed up by Mrs May’s failure to heed Mr Trump’s advice on handling the challenging Brexit negotiations with the European Union. Mr Trump suggested London needed to play hardball with Brussels, even suggesting at one point that the UK should sue the EU as part of its negotiating strategy to demonstrate that it meant business.

This advice was completely contrary to Mrs May’s mindset, as prevarication, obfuscation and a desperate desire to avoid confrontation at all costs were the characteristics that defined her premiership. Consequently, the negotiations resulted in the EU dictating the terms of the settlement. The subsequent withdrawal agreement was deemed so unacceptable that it failed to win the approval of the House of Commons, thereby ending Mrs May’s premiership.

3. Wither the Vatican: George Weigel, in The Catholic World Report, riffs on the Clerical Left’s assault on the John Paul II Institute in Rome, its faculty of doctrine-abiding moral theologians all summarily canned last week in a historic Church purge. From his report:

So these stubborn and, it now seems, ruthless men bided their time. In recent years, they have continued to lose every serious debate on the nature of the moral life, on the morality of conjugal life, on sacramental discipline, and on the ethics of human love; and the more intelligent among them know it, or at least fear that that’s the case. So in a bizarre repetition of the anti-Modernist purge of theological faculties that followed Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi, they have now abandoned argument and resorted to thuggery and brute force in order to win what they had failed to win by scholarly debate and persuasion.

That unbecoming score-settling is why the senior faculty of the John Paul II Institute was abruptly dismissed last week, and that is why there is absolutely no guarantee that, in the immediate future, the Institute that bears his name will have any resemblance to what John Paul II intended for it. Cardinal Angelo Scola, emeritus archbishop of Milan and a former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, described what is afoot in Rome these days as “torpedoing” the John Paul II Institute through an academic “purge.” 150 students of the Institute signed a letter saying that the changes underway will destroy the institute’s identity and mission; in the present Roman circumstances, they have about as much chance of being heard as Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky had at the Moscow Purge Trials in 1937-38.

That these Stalinistic acts of intellectual brigandage against the theological and pastoral heritage of Pope St. John Paul II are being carried out by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia – who came to international attention in 2017 for having commissioned a homoerotic fresco in the apse of the cathedral of Terni-Narni-Amelia – is ironic in the extreme. Paglia was simply another ambitious cleric when his work as ecclesiastical advisor to the Sant’Egidio Community drew him to John Paul’s attention. Years of sycophancy followed, during which Paglia would brag about how he had turned the pope around on the subject of murdered Salvador archbishop Oscar Romero by telling John Paul that “Romero was not the Left’s bishop, he was the Church’s bishop.” Paglia’s appointment as Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Institute – a position for which he had and has no discernible qualifications – was puzzling when it happened two years ago. But now it, too, comes into focus: he is acting precisely like those who manipulated the Synods of 2014, 2015, and 2018, i.e., another cabal of ambitious (and, frankly, not-so-bright) clerics who continually lost arguments and then tried to compensate by brutality and threats.

4. At Intercollegiate Studies Review, Michael J. Pearce considers the matter of conservatives who want to save our culture. From the beginning of his essay:

At the heart of being a conservative there are two agreements—an agreement we make with the people of the past and an agreement we make with the people of the future.

With the people of the past we agree to sustain the efforts they made to create the world we live in today. We make an equally important agreement with the people of the future that we will pass our world and its culture along to them in better shape than we found it.

These agreements are not promises to freeze culture and repeat it. To attempt to do so would be to pervert human nature, which has always been inquisitive and inventive, always seeking out better ways to create those things that sustain us. Conservatives are not afraid of new ideas, but they are careful that the introduction of them is done mindfully, with consideration of the impact these things may have on the cherished features of our culture. Will they prove truly beneficial in the future or harm the things that we prize?

It is easy to forget this contract and to pretend that the past doesn’t matter, and some idealists even propose to destroy the old ways and replace them with Utopia. This impulse to “smash it up” is driven by awareness of the failings of our civilization. But the impulse to destroy ignores the strengths of our civilization, and we cannot surgically remove the bad things without facing the impact such an intervention would have on the good things. Sometimes change has unintended consequences.

5. John Daniel Davidson, writing at The Federalist, presses the immigration point that the U.S. needs to force Central American potentates to plug the migrant flow. From his piece:

But if we’re serious about solving the border crisis, safe third country pacts aren’t nearly as important as forcing Central American elites to tackle corruption, organized crime, and drug cartels. Corruption affects almost every area of society in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and helps fuel the violence and poverty that migrants say is driving them to seek protection in the United States. It’s long past time to stop pretending that the leaders of these countries aren’t at least partly culpable for this state of affairs, or that nothing can be done to put pressure on them.

Consider a recent article in The New York Times that chronicles the stupefying levels of corruption in Honduras, where organized crime has infiltrated the highest levels of government.

Reporter Sonia Nazario spent a month in the country earlier this year, and gives a harrowing glimpse into conditions that are driving the crisis on the U.S.’s southwest border. “There are two main ways to get rich illegally in Honduras. One is to take money from drug cartels to help them move Colombian cocaine to the United States,” she writes. “The other way is to steal from the public coffers.”

Honduran officials have been endlessly creative at stealing from public coffers. As Nazario explains, this often takes the form of nonprofits that get no-bid government contracts and do the work at inflated prices or don’t do anything and still get paid. Two nonprofits linked to the family of President Juan Orlando Hernández pocketed $87 million in such contracts between 2014 and 2017.

6. At The American Conservative, Graham Daseler tries to untangle the rat’s nest of free speech and social media, where censoring giants and opinionated bots stride. From his essay:

The trouble with the internet-as-public-square analogy invoked by Justice Anthony Kennedy is that in an actual town square the identities of the citizenry are visible for all to see. Among the many things that a public square provides is a forum for the display of personal character. (It’s no coincidence that, for centuries, the public square was the location of choice for feting heroes, pillorying reprobates, and executing criminals.) Not so on the internet. Even the sites (Facebook, Instagram, Tinder) that do attempt to impose some accountability on their users are highly depersonalizing, largely because they deprive them of the social cues—a frown, a smile, a sigh—that help them read their interlocutors’ intentions. This is one reason it’s so difficult to tell the difference between irony and bigotry on the web. The confusion is so pervasive that a term has been coined to describe it, “Poe’s Law,” which states that it’s impossible to parody an extreme opinion online in such a way that someone won’t mistake it for the genuine article. And yet there are times when the anonymity of the internet is a godsend. Political dissidents, corporate whistleblowers, and sexual minorities around the world all depend on social media to get their stories out, while keeping their names and faces hidden. Consider the consequences if we were to force gay men in Nigeria, atheists in Pakistan, or critics of Mohammad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia to walk openly through their digital town squares.

These are issues that the news industry has been grappling with for the better part of two decades. Journalism and social media have commingled so much lately that many people have begun asking whether the social media giants need to be reclassified as publishers rather than platforms. It’s an appealing idea. For years, the sites have been having it both ways, helping themselves to all the benefits of the publishing world—social influence, editorial control, and enormous ad revenue—while enjoying the legal protections that shield platforms from prosecution. Their defense, that they’re mere conduits for conversation, like the phone company, is absurd, and not only because they employ so many censors. Just as important, their algorithms give them a level of editorial control that newspaper magnates of old could only have dreamed of. That’s what makes them so appealing to advertisers: they can personalize the information flow to each and every user. Facebook even ran an experiment in 2012 in which, to field-test the effectiveness of their business model, they successfully manipulated the emotions of nearly 700,000 users by secretly feeding one group positive news and the other negative news. It was, in a way, a fascinating psychological study, proving that, in the words of the study’s authors, “emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion”—not exactly the type of thing you’d associate with a neutral platform.

BONUS: Mahoney Time! We can never get enough of Professor Daniel J. Mahoney, who joins podcast The Patrick Coffin Show to discuss how humanism has subverted Christianity. Listen here.

Baseballery

A few men have had the distinction of taking the field for four different Major League teams in the same season. Among the distinct there is another distinction: a pitcher who lost at least one game for each member of the quartet. That honor, if you will, belongs to Willis Hudlin, who performed the feat in 1940. Hudlin, known as “Ace,” was a righthander known for being the mainstay of the Cleveland Indians from the mid 1920s until the late 30s, when the baton was passed on to a teenager named Bob Feller.

Hudlin and his worn-out arm started the 1940 season in Cleveland. There, he won his first two games before getting knocked around at Fenway Park on May 6, earning his first loss. It would not be his last. After another terrible (decisionless) start against the Browns, the Indians released him. With days Hudlin signed as a free agent with the Washington Senators, and won his first victory for the them on May 26 — an extra-inning complete game against the Philadelphia As (Johnny Melaj’s inside-the-park walk-off homer settled the contest). It would be the last of his 158 career victories: In his next start, on June 1 against the Detroit Tigers, Hudlin gave up five runs in two innings, and added another loss, for a second team that year. Released soon thereafter, he was signed by the New York Giants as a free agent. In his sole National League appearance, a July 21 start against the looming World Series champion Cincinnati Reds, Hudlin gave up six runs in five innings, and took his loss with him to the Crosley Field showers. He was released later that week.

His fourth and final team for the season was the Saint Louis Browns, who acquired Hudlin in early August. In his only start for the hapless squad, pitching August 11 against his old Indian teammates, Hudlin couldn’t make it out of the second inning. He gave up five runs in what turned out to be a 12–4 shellacking. And his fourth loss for his fourth team.

Hudlin left baseball until 1944, when the same Browns — on the way to their only St. Louis pennant — brought him back. It turned out to be for one game: An at-home relief appearance against the Tigers on August 11, in the midst of a red-hot pennant race (the Tigers trailed the fist-place Browns by three games). Taking the mound in the top of the eighth, Hudlin blew a 3–2 lead. It was his last game, and the 154th and final loss of what was, all in all, a decent baseball career, which, like many, ended with a whimper instead of a bang.

A Dios

I wish the best to you and yours this first weekend in August, as we approach the end of the dog days, which still retain their bark and bite. Looking ahead, looking into the soul, my copy of Kathryn Jean Lopez’s new book, A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living, arrived this week. It’s a beautiful tome. Consider ordering yourself a copy.

God Bless One and All,

Jack Fowler, whose advice and opinions can be ignored, and who can be told so, at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Moida da Bum!

Dear Weekend Jolter,

All the juice may have been squeezed out of this latest — as Your Humble Correspondent (YHC) types, anyway — Trump-centered controversy, and its aftermath. But YHC wanted to make sure this missive up-frontally drew attention to a recent Andy McCarthy commentary, which reminded YHC of the half-hearted, beer-fortified bellowings one might hear, yesteryear, from a baseball crowd. Such as, “Kill the ump!” This side of a madman or sociopath, even the booziest lout didn’t really want to moida da bum calling balls and strikes.

Andy cuts through the vapors and pearl-clutching that followed the send her back chanting at a mid-July Trump rally, the “her” being keep-it-in-the-family Squad Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. From his piece:

The president thrives on this stuff. His supporters may chant send her back! He’s happy to have her front and center in Washington.

Of course, there has been no shortage of outrage about the chanting, which was so deplorable, as it were, that Trump himself disavowed it the next day — even if he didn’t seem too upset while it was happening. Sorry to say, I can’t get too whipped up about it. Yes, Representative Omar is a naturalized American. As a matter of law, she’s just as much an American citizen as any one of us born in this country. The suggestion that the government should send her back to her native Somalia — because she is “the Other,” because she has the temerity to criticize the president — is obscene. I get all that.

But . . . are we really taking this seriously?

In a column earlier this week, I observed that the president’s tweets suggesting that Squad members should go back home to their native countries were not racist; but they were factually ignorant, politically dumb, and all in all beneath the presidency. After all, three of the Squad are native Americans; the fourth, Omar, is a naturalized American who left Somalia when she was six years old and has been here since she was ten. America is the only home the four congresswomen have even known. Yet, because they habitually run America down, the president could not resist the urge to rail that, if they really believed it was so bad, they should leave of their own volition. Offensive outburst? Yes . . . but he never suggested that the government could or should send them away. No one believes that.

True, some crowd chants have been bloodlusty: Comes to mind, from one historic time and place, “Crucify him!” But your garden-variety crowd-thundering is a caught-in-a-moment, seems-funny, at’ll-show-’em, full-of-hot-air, don’t-hold-me-to-it . . . release. Was this Trump-crowd chant a true cause for concern? Outside! Take your base.

About Killing umpires, you can watch the 1950 movie, starring William Bendix, here.

Editorials

1. If you think that Iran is going out of its way to try to get bombed, so do we. From our editorial:

Rarely has a foreign country seemed so eager to get bombed by the United States as Iran does right now.

In its latest provocation, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. It wasn’t a subtle operation. Revolutionary Guard forces rappelled onto the tanker from a helicopter, and if you have any doubt, it was all captured on videotape.

The act raised the stakes in the regime’s confrontation with the West. After the last round, when the Iranians shot down a U.S. drone, President Trump ordered a retaliatory strike that he abruptly cancelled, citing his fears of disproportionate casualties. Our natural instinct would be to hit Iran hard for its depredations and to establish a deterrent against such attacks before they get worse. But in this case, Iran clearly wants to provoke a reaction, which suggests the administration’s more cautious, “rope-a-dope” approach may be the right one.

2. And so goes the GOP, the party of small government . . . which might be willing to buy the bridge in Brooklyn while it’s on a spending spree. Which we condemn. From our editorial:

And what does the Republican party have to say about this looming crisis? Not much at all. It was just eight short years ago that congressional Republicans almost unanimously — in a genuine act of political courage — voted in favor of Paul Ryan’s sensible plan to reform Medicare for Americans under 55 in order to tackle the debt and avoid much more painful changes to Medicare that would be necessary during a debt crisis. Republicans held the House in 2012 but failed to unseat the incumbent Democrat in the White House. They continued to push for entitlement reform and took over the Senate in 2014. But in 2016 Trump won the nomination while promising not to touch Medicare and Social Security, and entitlement reform was a dead letter when he took office with unified Republican control of Congress. The president is now implausibly claiming he will look for big spending cuts during a second term, but his track record suggests he would do no such thing unless a crisis forced his hand.

And what does the other party have to offer? Elizabeth Warren has a plan to spend $1.25 trillion to cancel most student debt and make college free. Beto O’Rourke released a $5 trillion plan to accomplish half of the Green New Deal’s main goal. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan would cost $30 to $40 trillion, and Kamala Harris absurdly claims it can be implemented without raising middle-class taxes, indeed while cutting them.

Margaret Thatcher famously observed that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. She might add today that it’s also the problem with Republicans and Democrats.

3. We find President Trump’s plan to reform the federal food-stamp program to be a good thing. From our editorial:

In recent decades, states have run wild with this language, providing trivial “benefits” for the sole purpose of making more households eligible for food stamps. This can be as little as a welfare brochure or a phone number to an information hotline. With these “benefits” in hand, food-stamp applicants no longer have to pass an asset test, and also can have incomes of up to 200 percent of the poverty level instead of 130 percent.

That this makes a mockery of the law goes without saying. The point of categorical eligibility is to eliminate redundant paperwork proving that a family is poor enough to qualify for assistance. The point is not to let states override the eligibility rules for food stamps, a federally funded program, whenever they feel like it — at the expense of taxpayers in other states.

The Trump administration estimates that once this loophole is closed, approximately 9 percent of households on food stamps, comprising 3.1 million individuals, will no longer qualify because they fail the asset or income tests. But such a trim would hardly put the program at cruelly low levels of enrollment. The number of recipients grew dramatically in the 2000s even before the recession hit — from about 17.2 million in 2000 to about 26.5 million in 2006 — and reached a high-water mark of 47.6 million in 2013. As of April of this year, it was still at 36 million, roughly where it had been in the 2009–10 period and more than double the enrollment in 2000.

4. Looks like maybe Bob Mueller shoulda stood home (as we used to say on the corner of Oneida and 235th). From our editorial about his bad day:

He stayed within the four corners of the fact and judgments already written down in his report. Rather than adding performative sizzle, he often knew less about his work product than his interlocutors on the right and on the left, and he regularly asked for questions to be repeated. He didn’t even attempt to answer what is the precedent or authority for his not-exonerated standard, even though Republicans were obviously going to press him on it. If this had been a confirmation hearing, he would have flunked

It’s just as well that Mueller didn’t perform the function that Democrats hoped he would. He’s already violated, at minimum, the spirit of the special-counsel regulations that were meant to closely tether special counsels to standard Justice Department operating procedures rather than empower them to serve up de facto impeachment referrals to Congress. This is what Mueller’s office did anyway (with Justice Department officials hesitant to exercise proper supervision lest they, too, be accused of obstruction of justice). It’s even more inappropriate for a special counsel to go and talk about the conduct of someone, in this case, the president of the United States, who hasn’t been indicted or even accused of a crime.

More about Andy . . . and His Terrific New Book

Look at that. Long-awaited and beautiful. My Bronx bro is the author of numerous books, and what may prove to be his most popular is in the on-deck circle, set for its formal release on August 13: Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is big and comprehensive, wonderfully written, and documented till the cows and cattle-futures come home.

Encounter Books, the publisher, is offering it for sale, discounted and pre-publication, here. And as a special bonus to NRO and Weekend Jolt readers, an extra 10% will be chopped off when you use the code NATREV. So use it! And enjoy this slice from the book’s Introduction, penned by Andy:

President Obama took care of undermining any classified information prosecution. He had a deep interest in doing so: he had knowingly communicated with his secretary of state through the private system, and he had misled the public about it—claiming to have learned about Clinton’s private email practices from news reports, like everyone else. All of that could be neatly buried in two steps. First, invoke executive privilege (without calling it that—too Nixonian) to seal the Obama-Clinton emails from public view. Second, ensure that the Clinton emails case would never be prosecuted: if Clinton was never accused of criminal conduct, then Obama’s role as a minor participant would not become evidence in a criminal case.

In April 2016, on national television, the president made clear that he did not believe an indictment should be filed against former Secretary Clinton, who, by then, was the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee. Obama explained that, in his considered judgment, Clinton meant no harm to national security. Plus, the intelligence involved, though technically categorized as “classified,” was not really, you know, the super-secret stuff—“There’s ‘classified,’” Obama scoffed, “and then there’s classified.” It was a classic Obama straw man. The criminal provisions pertinent to Clinton’s case did not require proof of intent to harm the United States, only that she was trusted with access to intelligence and nevertheless mishandled it, either intentionally or through gross negligence. Moreover, no one was accusing Clinton of trying to damage national security. That is a different, more serious criminal offense that was not on the table. It was as if Obama were claiming that a bank robber was somehow not guilty of the bank robbery because she hadn’t murdered anyone while committing it.

Of course Mrs. Clinton hadn’t set out with a purpose to harm the country. Her purpose, with a 2016 presidential bid in the works, was to conceal her communications as secretary of state from Congress and the public. Hillary Clinton had been under criminal investigation before—indeed, when she was first lady in 1995, she was very nearly indicted for obstruction and making false statements by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Mrs. Clinton knew that leaving a paper trail, especially one that documents conversations, is how shady characters get themselves jammed up with the law.

One Dozen (Baker’s) Deep-Fried Delicious Doughnuts of . . . Well, 13 Terrific NRO Articles.

1. Could this be the most troubling headline ever published by NR? Here’s Madeleine Kearns’ pause-inducer: “Canada’s Ball-Waxing Horror Show Is Peak Transgender Activism.” What a story of depravity. From the beginning of her piece:

Imagine this. It’s 1990. A feminist novelist is pitching her latest book to a publisher. Set in a dystopian future in which a tyrannical ideology has gripped Western politics, it features female estheticians who have been dragged before a national kangaroo court for refusing to wax a man’s genitals. The publisher worries that the story, about an outrageous affront on women’s rights, isn’t plausible. She suggests something more realistic — how about fascistic men who force women into reproductive slavery instead?

Well, it’s 2019. The Handmaid’s Tale is still fiction. While Wax My Balls, B**** is a real-life horror show.

This week, British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal (CHRC) — a self-described “quasi-judicial body created by the B.C. Human Rights Code” — held hearings on whether or not female beauticians should be forced to handle male genitalia. The complainant, known until Wednesday under the alias “J. Y.” owing to a court gag order, is Jonathan/Jessica Yaniv, a self-identified transgender woman.

Yaniv has filed 16 different complaints against estheticians in the past year. Yaniv argues that, as a transgender woman, being denied services on account of her gender identity was discriminatory.

2. Boris in in. John O’Sullivan discusses the challenges facing England’s new Prime Minister. From his analysis:

And there will be major battles to come before long. Some of the cabinet ministers who resigned rather than serving under Boris, notably Philip Hammond and Rory Stewart, are already plotting a Remainer resistance to anything that smacks of a No Deal Brexit. They will now be joined by some of the ministers he dismissed. The Remainer media — the BBC, the Times, the Financial Times, and the Economist — will support this resistance, not only because they oppose Brexit but also to protect their own reputation as forecasters. So far they have been consistently wrong on whether May’s Withdrawal Agreement would get through the Commons. Political reporters and “expert” columnists were certain it would win in the end. Now, they are reassembling to argue that if Boris can get anything like an amended May deal through the Commons, he can win an early election before its defects become clear. They assume that the former Remainers in his cabinet will join their campaign from within because there is less in their promise to support a No Deal Brexit than meets the eye: They will have decided in advance that any amended deal the EU offers will be a satisfactory one. That now looks unlikely.

Until a couple of days ago, Boris had one great card to play against this last-ditch Remainer campaign: As Tory leader, he controls the party machine, the next Tory manifesto, and the selection (and de-selection) of Tory candidates. If his Brexit policy loses in Parliament, he can take his case to the country as the Brexit supported by the entire Tory party. Nigel Farage will then be someone he has to satisfy more seriously than any Tory Remainer. Now, he has a second great card: His cabinet looks as though it will give him firm and united support if rebellious Tory MPs give him the excuse to go for an election and a Brexit-minded parliament. too. And the Pound rallied yesterday — which wasn’t supposed to be the market’s response to either Boris or the looming threat of a No Deal Brexit.

3. Conrad Black remains stymied by those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. From his column:

He was not only the first president who had never sought or held a public office, elected or unelected, or a military position. He also had no knowledge of the official procedures and attitudes in the upper approaches to the presidency. And as he had changed parties seven times in 13 years looking for his chance to try the novel theory of turning celebrity, and often rather crass celebrity, into electability, and had countered media skepticism with social-media direct contact with the people, supplemented by support on the talk-radio circuit, which generally enlists the attention of a lower-middle- and working-class demographic, he had no cadre of political loyalists to assist him. He thus had no bedrock of support in either party or any part of government, and was not treated to the traditional “honeymoon” period with Congress. He was like a threatening alien to the powers that have always been, and they reacted with almost uniform hostility. They generally hoped that he had colluded illegally with the Russians, so they could be quickly rid of him. The proportions of that gigantic fiasco have been appreciated by the president and his supporters, but the effect of it on his enemies has been the bitter embarrassment of the defeated and unconvinced.

Richard Nixon was probably cheated out of the 1960 election; at the least, we don’t know who really won, as with the 2000 Gore–Bush election. But he liked and respected John F. Kennedy, and he had come up through and respected the rough-and-tumble political system. He declined a formal contest of the election, even though President Eisenhower urged him to do it and promised Nixon that Ike’s wealthy friend would pay for it. Richard Nixon declined to put the country through such a wrenching ordeal (as he did over impeachment 14 years later, though there remains no probative evidence that he committed crimes, despite the self-serving claptrap of imperishable Nixonocides who inflict themselves on us on television with depressing frequency). Nixon respected the system. There has been almost no such acceptance of the Trump victory by Democrats. Republicans have generally noticed the side their political bread is buttered on, and many prominent Never Trumpers, such as former Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, have retired. But for most partisan Democrats, he remains a horrible, unimaginable usurper.

4. The fat lady must have sung, because the Tea Party seems over. Brian Riedl can even hear coffin nails being banged. From the piece:

With a president not focused on deficit reduction, and even Republican voters opposing many spending cuts, congressional Republicans largely surrendered on spending and deficit restraint. Instead, they passed a $2 trillion tax cut that represented solid economic policy but did not even attempt to offset the new cost with spending cuts. And in contrast to “starve the beast” rhetoric, these tax cuts led to more — not less — federal spending. Once you’ve cut taxes for corporations, it would be political suicide to turn around and tell seniors that they must now accept cuts to Medicare. Instead, all groups demand their own share of the new benefits.

By early 2018, surrendering Republicans raised the 2018 and 2019 spending caps by a staggering $296 billion, this time with less than $50 billion in offsets over ten years. An effort by conservative House Republicans in 2017 and again in 2018 to trim the growth rate of entitlement spending from 5.9 percent to 5.8 percent per year was rejected by Republican senators for being too radical. Even a rescission bill that would reduce unnecessary spending by a mere $1 billion over ten years — or 0.002 percent of the budget — was defeated in the Republican Senate. Instead, lawmakers renewed billions in new farm subsidies for wealthy farmers and considered bringing back pork-barrel earmarks. Legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare was defeated in the Republican Senate.

5. Caps off to . . . caps off. Not really, says Veronique de Rugy, who sees Uncle Sam (and the GOP) shirking fiscal responsibility in the new budget deal. From her analysis:

Let me repeat that: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would get $320 billion above the fiscal-year 2019 levels of $597 billion for discretionary spending and $647 billion for defense (plus an additional $69 billion in the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations fund), while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would not have to worry about his ability to borrow more money for Uncle Sam. Meanwhile, future taxpayers would be saddled with a phenomenally large debt increase and the corresponding promise of higher taxes and slower growth.

We are told not to worry, as some $55 billion of that spending increase will be offset with other savings, such as some Medicare cuts and Customs and Border Protection fees. But when all is said and done, if you believe that these offsets will materialize, I have some oceanfront property in the Mojave Desert to sell you. Whatever Congress and the White House agree to cut this time around is likely to go the way of the 2011 spending caps and be negotiated away in future budget deals.

When this budget deal was announced, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas rightfully noted that “this agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president. It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.” She added that “if this deal passes, President Trump will have increased discretionary spending by as much as 22 percent over his first term, and enshrine trillion-dollar deficits into law.”

6. More on Washington’s profligacy, shared by that of one Donald Trump, by Michael Tanner, who is woeful over the collective failure to rein in spending. From his column:

Yet even by these rather pathetic standards, the $1.37 trillion budget deal reached this week by President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders stands out for its total abdication of fiscal discipline. The deal throws out the last vestiges of spending caps that were put in place as part of the two-year budget agreement. Those caps have proven largely ineffective — Congress has repeatedly waived them — but this year’s agreement would exceed those caps by $320 billion over the next 2 years.

Actual total spending will rise by some $49 billion. There is no attempt to establish priorities — everyone just agreed to spend more. Defense spending will rise by $22 billion, but domestic discretionary spending will go up by even more, roughly $27 billion. And, as for addressing the urgent need for entitlement reform (the majority of federal spending), not a peep.

Moreover, the deal runs through 2021, thereby protecting politicians in both parties from having to do their jobs during an election year. At least they have their priorities in place. The deal also includes a two-year waiver for the debt limit, removing any possible leverage against future reforms.

As bad as the deal looks on its face, its even worse in context. With only 2 months left in this fiscal year, the deficit has already hit $747 billion, a 23 percent increase since last year. It will almost certainly top $1 trillion by year’s end. From here, it is likely simply to grow worse.

7. Jonathan Tobin warns against those who would poo-poo Red China’s critics. Yeah, even Steve Bannon. From his piece:

In some ways, the threat posed by modern-day China is reminiscent of the Soviet threat that so concerned the highly successful second Committee. Just as China does today, the Soviet Union of the 1970s seemed like a rising threat to a West that some on the right believed was in decline. But the analogy only goes so far. While détente with the Soviets had prominent advocates in both parties, the Soviet regime was loathed by a broad cross-section of Americans in a way Xi’s regime is not.

The decision of the Chinese Communist party to open up the country’s economy to investment from the West starting in the late 1970s created a powerful pro-China constituency in the U.S. business community and in Congress. That diluted Western opposition to the party’s retention of an iron grip on political power or the existence of the laogai — gulag — to which political and religious dissidents were sent. By the end of the 1990s, Congress decided to dispense with the annual vote on Most Favored Nation trading status for China, which had traditionally provided an opportunity to air criticisms of its human-rights record and its efforts to steal Western intellectual property.

What followed was an era in which massive Chinese investment in the United States and trade imbalances became a bigger factor in debating policy toward Beijing than American investment in China. While worries about Chinese economic tactics were aired throughout the last two decades, it was not until the election of President Trump, with his focus on American trade grievances, that growing worries about Chinese power became a major political issue.

8. Alexandra DeSanctis is there with the play-by-play at a Washington forum considering whether paid family leave can be a conservative proposition. From the report:

Republicans, meanwhile, have yet to coalesce around a paid-family-leave plan — or even to agree on whether paid family leave is a conservative idea in the first place. These issues were the focus of an event on Capitol Hill this week hosted by the Ethics and Public Policy Center: “Is Paid Family Leave Compatible with Conservative Principles?”

The event’s first panel featured a debate on the title question. Arguing in favor of paid leave were Aparna Mathur, a scholar in economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute who directs the AEI–Brookings working group on paid family and medical leave, and Kristin Shapiro of the Independent Women’s Forum, who authored the initial policy paper from which GOP politicians have drawn inspiration in crafting their paid-leave bills.

On the other side, Heritage Foundation research fellow Rachel Greszler and Mercatus Center research fellow Veronique de Rugy argued that even Republican proposals for paid leave are fundamentally incompatible with a proper conservative understanding of the federal government’s role.

Much of the opposition from Greszler and de Rugy stemmed from slippery-slope concerns, the belief that, once established, even a limited parental-leave program would eventually be expanded to cover other forms of leave, further increasing the size and scope of the federal government. Their arguments dealt primarily with Shapiro’s proposal — now embodied in two slightly different bills sponsored by four GOP senators — to allow new parents to collect some of their Social Security benefits after the birth or adoption of a child and delay collecting those benefits at the time of retirement.

9. More on Washington’s profligacy, shared by that of one Donald Trump, by Michael Tanner, who is woeful over the collective failure to rein in spending. From his column:

Yet even by these rather pathetic standards, the $1.37 trillion budget deal reached this week by President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders stands out for its total abdication of fiscal discipline. The deal throws out the last vestiges of spending caps that were put in place as part of the two-year budget agreement. Those caps have proven largely ineffective — Congress has repeatedly waived them — but this year’s agreement would exceed those caps by $320 billion over the next 2 years.

Actual total spending will rise by some $49 billion. There is no attempt to establish priorities — everyone just agreed to spend more. Defense spending will rise by $22 billion, but domestic discretionary spending will go up by even more, roughly $27 billion. And, as for addressing the urgent need for entitlement reform (the majority of federal spending), not a peep.

Moreover, the deal runs through 2021, thereby protecting politicians in both parties from having to do their jobs during an election year. At least they have their priorities in place. The deal also includes a two-year waiver for the debt limit, removing any possible leverage against future reforms.

10. Erica Thomas, martyr and . . . mythmaker. John Hirschauer finds the controversial Georgia legislator and alleged victim to have pants that are very much on fire. From the beginning of his story:

The newest chapter in that expansive compendium of progressive myth and fable: The Verbal Assault of Representative Erica Thomas.

Once upon a time, Erica Thomas, a state legislator in Georgia, roamed the aisles of a local grocery store for a handful of canned goods and snack foods. Georgia, you’ll remember, is not exactly friendly to minorities — this is the same state (per another fable in the collection) that denied Stacey Abrams the governorship by unfairly suppressing the votes of foreign nationals and Westview Cemetery interrees. Thomas is not simply courageous; she is a trailblazer. A Ruby Bridges for our time.

11. Armond White finds Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood to be his best film. Here’s his review’s summary:

Tarantino’s pop sadism vents the undigested frustration of the juvenile mentality. The hit parade of half-obscure pop tunes is a mere distraction, proof that Tarantino’s understanding of pop music — like his understanding of movies — is far shallower than we imagined. The Mamas and the Papa’s trenchant “Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)” has been used more felicitously elsewhere, as was The Rolling Stones’ “Out of Time,” which Hal Ashby scored in Coming Home so that it expressed the forgotten romance and regret behind Sixties political anxiety. Once Upon a Time gets at Hollywood’s seamy underbelly in ways I never expected. It is easily Tarantino’s best film, but we still suffer his fundamental problem of poisoned nostalgia.

12. Meanwhile, Kyle Smith finds Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood to be self-indulgent. From the outset of his review:

I love Quentin Tarantino, and it hurts to watch a loved one who just can’t stop indulging his appetites. Once Upon a Time. . . in Hollywood is a really good 100-minute movie rattling around inside a 160-minute space. It’s like one of those huge boxes you get from Amazon that contains about nine cubic yards of pillowed plastic, plus a small paperback book. The movie is a plea for cinematic gastric-bypass surgery. Whole chunks of it — hell, most of the material about one of the two principal characters — are merely decorative.

I’d still recommend the movie, barely, because the last 20 minutes are so great, but I’ll say nothing about what happens in them. Just as an otherwise good film can leave you in a foul mood if its ending doesn’t come off, a terrific last act can make up for a lot of shortcomings. I left the theater in high spirits.

13. More Kyle, this time pleased that anti-woke comedians are calling out the virtue signalerati.

If anyone is to save us from the wokescolds, it’ll be the comedians.

How alarmed the Left must be at this increasingly obvious new trend: Some of the biggest names in comedy are saying much the same things conservative columnists say, only in joke form. Standup comics are supposed to be the bought-and-paid-for property of progressivism, a means of “fighting the power,” tribunes of the counterculture and legatees of the sanctified Lenny Bruce and George Carlin.

What if the counterculture becomes the culture, though? Then comics start to sound like the counter-counterculture. What they have going for them is truth. As in a libel proceeding, truth is an absolute defense for a comedian. It makes the jokes sting and reverberate, especially when it’s a truth that no one is supposed to state aloud. Comics are some of the last people left in America who can get rewarded rather than punished for repeating inconvenient truths. You know who else is in that category? A lot of us writers at National Review. Worlds collide.

Aziz Ansari these days is sounding very interested in the most salient cultural development in American life the last few years, which is the ascent of the wokescolds. After being given a severe scourging by the social-media mob after he was targeted by a lengthy piece of revenge porn relating embarrassing details about a consensual sexual encounter, he is sounding feistier than before in his new Netflix special, Aziz Ansari: Right Now.

“The American Worker”: Here’s a Mouth-Watering Taste of the New Issue of National Review Magazine

If you have a subscription to NRPLUS (get yours here if you’re not yet a member) you can read all the wonderful pieces assembled for this very special issue, four chosen here from the dozen published, collectively looking at the challenges facing the men and women who are bringing home the bacon.

1. Robert VerBruggen says POTUS has every right to brag about the economy. From his article:

On regulation, Trump undeniably broke with President Obama’s tendency to add far more red tape to the economy than he removed. The regulatory apparatus of the Trump administration is stocked with libertarian-leaning experts, and new regulations (especially those deemed “significant” for having economic effects of at least $100 million) have slowed significantly. He’s also removed some old regulations— thanks in part to a “one in, two out” rule by which regulators must undo two regulations for each one they add— though this has been less aggressive than some had hoped.

As Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute details in the 2019 edition of his “Ten Thousand Commandments” report, Trump and Congress quickly wiped out 14 rules that the Obama administration had finalized in its closing months, and withdrew or delayed more than 1,500 more that had not been finalized. Among much else, the administration dropped the Clean Power Plan and recently finalized a replacement that’s far friendlier to the coal industry; scrapped “net neutrality”; and chipped away at Obamacare, both through executive action and with the help of Congress. Trump is also finalizing a plan to halt the Obama administration’s attempt to double vehicle fuel-economy standards by 2025.

One can argue about whether the benefits of these various pre-Trump policies were worth the costs—but one cannot argue with the reality that forcing businesses and individuals to comply with regulations does cost money. Exactly how much money is hard to say. From 2017 through the end of this year, the ad ministration’s Office of Management and Budget has put the savings of Trump’s deregulatory efforts at about $50 billion (in “net present value”), which works out to about $400 per household. Naysayers have downplayed such estimates and quibbled with the administration’s accounting, accusing it, for example, of taking credit for efforts that actually began under Obama. Future savings are even harder to estimate, but for what it’s worth, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers claims that “after 5 to 10 years, [the administration’s] new approach to Federal regulation will have raised real incomes by $3,100 per household per year.”

2. Charlie Cooke kicked off the onslaught of wisdom with his piece — echoed by a few more — that the path to the American Dream does not necessarily make its way through the campus Ivory Tower. From his essay:

Today, college has become our go-to yardstick for minimal competence. Take a look at almost any job listing for almost any desk job in any city, and you will see “college degree” listed as an essential requirement. The argument in favor of this arrangement is that if a candidate can demonstrate that he has completed such a degree, he can be assumed to be both relatively smart and capable of sticking with things to their end. Which, in some cases, is of course true. But it is telling that none of the other experiences that demonstrate capacity and tenacity tend to make an appearance in the listings. Know what else demonstrates an ability to stick things out? Military service. Running a small business. Working at a charity. Training as a plumber. Working on a farm. Learning to weld. Keeping another job for a long period of time.

Are these regarded as inferior occupations? Increasingly, they seem to be. In a 1780 letter to Abigail, John Adams wrote that he “must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy,” while his “sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” There is a great deal in this observation, and, within the context of late-18th century, mid-revolutionary America, Adams’s assessment was spot-on. Nevertheless, were his words to be taken literally, such a progression would eventually create a society without any food. That we are able to study poetry and music is a great and worthwhile luxury—a luxury of which we should be both jealous and proud. But now, as ever, it remains a luxury that is paid for by those who continue to engage wholeheartedly in the other callings to which Adams refers. No society, however smart, will last long if those who enjoy that luxury come to look down upon those who make it possible.

3. Steven Camorata shows that unskilled immigration reduces labor-force participation. From his piece:

The decline in labor-force participation is not the only troubling trend in the labor market. Wages have stagnated or declined for the less educated as well. Pew Research reports that since 2000, the bottom quarter of earners saw just a 4.3 percent real wage increase—equivalent to an annual raise of just 0.2 percent. Analysis by the Economic Policy Institute of wages for men without a bachelor’s degree shows they earned no more in 2018 than they did in 1989. Compared with 1979, they actually earn less. And low wages cannot help but undermine work incentives.

Some factors contributing to labor-force dropout and wage stagnation have nothing to do with immigration. They include “skill-biased technological change,” which means that new technology has reduced demand for less educated workers. Automation is one of the most prominent examples of this phenomenon. Opening up trade with China and other low-wage countries has also tended to further reduce demand for less educated workers here in the U.S.

Of course, if demand for less educated work in the U.S. is down because of technology and globalization, then it makes little sense to continue to let in so many less educated immigrants. Census Bureau data from the first quarter of 2019 show that 5 million adult immigrants without a bachelor’s degree have been allowed to settle in the country just since 2010. Roughly half of them are illegal.

While it is by no means the only factor, there is both anecdotal and systematic evidence that immigration is contributing to the decline in work and wages among the less educated. Some of the best anecdotal evidence comes from a series of EEOC suits brought by Americans who have been shut out of jobs by employers who prefer to hire foreign-born Hispanics.

4. Ramesh Ponnuru argues that the reality of post-secondary life requires a shelving of the college-or-bust mindset that dictates America’s high schools. Time to rethink. From the article:

But we also need to rethink what happens in high school. The assumption that everyone should go to college has by now deeply affected the structure of education for ninth- through twelfth-graders. Turning away from the college-for-all mentality will require changing, among other things, our view of the purpose of high schools, our criteria for judging them, and their academic standards and curricula.

It has come to be widely assumed that the purpose of high school is to prepare teenagers to go to college. Mistaken ideas about the necessity and feasibility of getting everyone to go to college encouraged this assumption, but there were other reasons for making it. Third grade follows second and fourth follows third. In each grade from kindergarten through junior year of high school, the point is to prepare a child for the next one; and that next one is essentially the same for all students. Moving from senior year of high school to freshman year of college appears to be the next logical part of that sequence.

The alternative is to regard the end of high school as a capable adulthood. Schools should help parents equip young people to make good decisions—to exercise choice intelligently and responsibly, rather than to make the one obvious choice of going to college.

BONUS: The issue includes the usual sections, “The Week,” and reviews and columns galore in “Books, Arts & Manners.” The lead review, by Noah Rothman, is a praise-filled one of Kevon Williamson’s just-out The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics. And here, book buyers, is a slice:

Williamson’s innovation is to treat the social-media environment as a marketplace in which the chief commodity is outrage. In his telling, social media functions as a simple economy in which attention sought constitutes labor and attention paid amounts to remuneration. The problem for consumers in the outrage economy is that the product is neither gratifying nor durable. And its by-products are severely harmful.

Social media do not encourage discourse but rather “anti-discourse,” a form of dialogue in which communication is actively discouraged. They do not augment culture but have fostered the rise of “Instant Culture.” As forums, they pretend to promote egalitarianism but instead foster social stratification and enforced conformity. And ultimately, what this marketplace produces isn’t thought but ideological struggle sessions, quick takes about late-night comedians “destroying” their targets, and memes — a form of communication only marginally more sophisticated than pheromone secretion.

Williamson sees much of the angst in this virtual public square as rooted in the desire to seek or impose social solidarity. “As it stands,” he writes, “the Party of the Masses is on the rise and the Party of the Minorities is in decline, not because the masses have more votes but because the unarticulated project of populism is the pursuit of conformity and homogeneity.” The titular “smallest minority” is the individual, and the individual is a concept that haunts the populist imagination like a specter.

The Smallest Minority is particularly relevant to the recent internecine feud on the right over the value of collegial discourse itself. Among conservatives in good standing, a heated argument rages over whether the permissive nature of liberalism’s tolerance for diversity of thought and expression sows the seeds of liberal society’s degradation and, ultimately, of its destruction. This is not a new debate. The ideas animating it can be found in the works of Herbert Marcuse and in Germany’s commitment to streitbare Demokratie — the state-sponsored suppression of ideas inimical to classically liberal thought. “The case for toleration is never more than an inch away from being suffocated by the desire to punish,” Williamson observes.

The Six

1. At the James G. Martin Center, Charles Rounds looks into the leftward rush of law-school students. From the beginning of his analysis:

Back in 2010, I wrote a piece for the James G. Martin Center entitled Bad Sociology, Not Law bemoaning the marginalization of common law doctrine in the American law school curriculum. My point then was that, increasingly, law students were just learning about legal doctrine in their classes rather than being called upon to master the prevailing legal doctrine itself in all its complexities.

Put differently, law teachers are devoting more classroom time to policy (what should be) and less to the prevailing law’s basic anatomy (what is). At Harvard Law School, for example, Agency, Trusts, Evidence, Business Associations, and Family Law are no longer required classes and have not been for some time.

Competently addressing the nuts-and-bolts needs of the middle class when it comes to the rendering of legal services has not been a serious pedagogical goal for quite some time now in most of the prestige law schools.

On the other hand, students in the first year at Harvard are required to participate in “ungraded reading groups” that “allow students to explore an intellectual interest outside the scope of the foundational first-year curriculum.” The course catalog informs us that “topics” are as “diverse” as “legal responses to terrorism, regulation of climate change, Biblical law, detective fiction, conservative jurisprudence, artificial intelligence, and bioethics.”

2. Bradley Birzer leaps into the time machine at The Imaginative Conservative, presses the PAST button, and tenders a list of the 10 primo conservative books published between 1924 and 1954. From his piece:

In 1950, Ray Bradbury published his most beautiful of novels, The Martian Chronicles. Throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, science fiction existed as a genre with little more respect than pornography. Indeed, the “pulp” releases of other worlds actually sold next to periodicals and books wrapped in brown paper on the drug store shelves. A man endowed with seemingly infinite imagination, Bradbury wrote The Martian Chronicles as a critique of western imperialism and conformity. The book, in no uncertain terms, promoted the good, the true, and the beautiful. Aldous Huxley pronounced it “poetry.”

Taken from his Walgreen lectures at the University of Chicago, Eric Voegelin published The New Science of Politics in 1952. Inspired by a footnote to a book translated and edited by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Voegelin dedicated his scholarship from the late 1930s to the end of his life to the exploration of the 20thcentury manifestations of Gnosticism. All of modernity, he feared, carried with it the wicked notions of knowledge and certainty at the expense of faith and mystery. In his drive to understand all things, man simply deconstructed the world, leaving it at the mercy of powers rather than ideals.

The eighth book, The Quest for Community, came from the hands of a Marine, a scholar dedicated to the preservation of American and western civilization, a professor of sociology, Robert Nisbet. The Californian believed one could understand the modern world as actually embodying “two worlds of allegiance and association. On the one hand, and partly behind us, is the historic world in which loyalties to family, church, profession, local community, and interest association exert, however ineffectually, persuasion and guidance. On the other is the world of values identical with the absolute political community—the community in which all symbolism, allegiance, responsibility, and sense of purpose have become indistinguishable from the operation of centralized political power.”

3. At Claremont Review of Books, Adam Rowe looks back to the 1850s and finds an America even more divided than today. From his piece:

The nativist backlash over immigration was only one of several grievances that alienated the electorate from the political parties that represented them. “Malignant distrust of politicians as self-centered and corrupt wirepullers out of touch with the people spread like an epidemic during the 1850s,” Holt writes. A series of wrenchingly abrupt cultural, economic and technological changes discredited older party issues without supplying new ones. Immense economic growth, which an ascendant class of capitalists celebrated as unalloyed progress, felt like a catastrophe to countless displaced laborers, artisan manufacturers, and small farmers.

The result was a confused combination of reckless confidence and radical despair, of boundless prosperity and unchanneled discontents. Here, too, the crisis of the 1850s echoes suggestively in the present. What an eminent historian has labeled “the Age of Capital” almost exactly coincides with the years American political historians designate as the Civil War era. A decade of unprecedented material prosperity and technological progress was also a decade of equally unprecedented political gridlock, corruption, and violence. Technological shifts that had developed slowly at the margins of American life suddenly accelerated with revolutionary momentum. Between 1848 and 1853, 17,000 miles of railroad were laid in the United States, nearly tripling the total from previous decades. The optimism this “silent revolution” inspired was almost boundless, and so too was the inchoate frustration of those who found themselves economically displaced or their communities transformed. “Popular government follows in the track of the steam engine and electric telegraph,” Lincoln’s secretary of state William Henry Seward observed. But these revolutionary technologies also destabilized existing democratic institutions.

4. Maria Polizoidou reports at Gatestone Institute about the transition of Greece from a Socialist rule. There’s a lot of damage to be undone. From the beginning of her piece:

The July 7 elections in Greece have ushered in a new era of promise, with the victory of the center-right New Democracy Party leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, over the incumbent prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, head of the left-wing Syriza coalition.

The vote represented the Greek people’s frustration and disgust not only with the failures of the Syriza-led government, which wreaked havoc on the economy and state institutions, but with the accompanying widespread corruption and anarchy that overtook the country.

The new government took office with an apparent sense of genuine purpose, seemingly intent on exacting immediate change. The new Minister for Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, for example, set to work with the encouraging pledge to reform the police force. He announced that he would make law enforcement more efficient, through better recruitment policies, backup for anti-crime units and by enabling raids into virtual “no-go” zones, such as Exarchia, a hotbed of drug-dealers, anarchists and illegal immigrants.

Speaking of which, the new government has transferred the handling of illegal immigration from the auspices of the Ministry for Migration Policy to that of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, treating the issue as a national-security threat.

5. Sickening: America magazine, the USA house organ of Jesuits, has published a piece, The Catholic Case for Communism. Read it, if only to know how demented the Pope’s religious order has become. And then go over to The American Conservative and read Rod Dreher’s blast.

6. At City Journal, Kay Hymowitz beats back the Lefty claim that “gentrification” of neighborhoods is dressed-up racism. From her piece:

For many on the Left, gentrification remains a dirty word, synonymous—or at least closely associated—with racism, oligarchic developers, neoliberalism, and even genocide. Fortunately, not all gentrification-watchers are so dystopic. Less excitable observers harbor reasonable concerns about poor residents forced to resettle in blighted areas, unscrupulous landlords, and the disruption of familiar neighborhoods.

A just-released working paper from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve could shake up the conversation. Several previous studies have already cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that gentrification causes widespread displacement of poor, longtime residents. “The Effects of Gentrification on Well Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Their Children” goes further by recasting gentrification as a potential force for income integration and social mobility.

Unlike many previous studies, the paper, by Quentin Brummet of the National Opinion Research Center and Davin Reed at the Fed, is longitudinal, giving not just a snapshot of neighborhood residents but a picture over time—comparing education, income, and employment outcomes for residents who stayed in the changing neighborhood and those who moved. The authors were able to do this by compiling census data on the residents of low-income, central-city neighborhoods of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. in 2000 and comparing findings for the same people in the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.

Baseballery

My son Andy, who works for the Knights of Columbus, has a thing about Knights who were major leaguers. Such as The Bambino. Earlier this week he texted me about a Knight, Joe Quinn, who had two particular distinctions. A hugely popular second baseman who played from the mid 1880s until 1901, Quinn was the first Australia-born athlete to don a major-league uniform (it took a century for the next man to come up from Down Under). Distinction Two: He managed the worst team in MLB history, including the pre-“Modern Era.” The 1899 Cleveland Spiders had a 20–134 record. No team has ever come close to being that bad. The Spiders drew a measly home-field attendance of 6,088 — for the entire season. After beating the lowly New York Giants on August 25, the Spiders went on a 1–40 tear, the sole interrupting win coming on September 18, when they beat the Washington Senators 5–4. The Mighty Quinn ended his career there in 1901, and after that spent his years living in St. Louis, running a successful undertaker’s business. Many joked the Spiders were a corpse on which he learned his craft.

A Dios

Thanks to those who shared prayers requested last week. If you haven’t yet, get yourself a copy of Kevin Williamson’s new book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics.

God’s Graces and Sweetness, May They Pour on You and Yours Like a Cooling Rain,

Jack Fowler, who is ever approachable for fun and profit at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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 https://twitter.com/JackFowler. 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.”

Baseballery

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 jfowler@nationalreview.com, 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.

Baseballery

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 jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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.”

Baseballery

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!

Bob

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 jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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.

Editorials

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