National Review

Grant. One Wish.

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

If the Genie presented himself to Your Proud Jingoist Correspondent with an offer to grant one wish, the response would be: Make the flannelmouths and dimwits admit that Marxists and other America–hating ideologues are engaged in a culture war intent on destroying this grand and great thing we have been bequeathed, a thing bought and paid in blood — this land of the free, home of the brave and e pluribus unum, of sacred unalienable rights, of Old Glory waving o’er the ramparts and purpled mountain majesties and fruited plains, this house I live in where, as Frank Sinatra crooned, one has the right to speak your mind out.

Mobs send messages, not in the way Old Blue Eyes was defending but more like Ignatz communicating with Krazy Kat. The mob aspires to chaos and anarchy, it intends the destruction of beliefs and of our civilization. It calculates that the abyss is the opportunity to claim power and wield it, to death do we swiftly part. The mob seeks no honest discussion — your abject supplication and subjugation will do just fine. The mob’s motto echoes the demented hiss of Ahab: From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

About honest discussions: Indeed, we need one. Let’s keep it short. Not one about how to contain it, nor how to diminish it, but one about calling out this mob and rabble for what it is — a revolutionary enterprise, a Marxist undertaking. And let us end the discussion by confirming our obligation to the More Perfect Union to which we are indebted: It now needs our courage and direct action.

Would that we fix bayonets and charge at the orders of a General Grant. The bronze one has been toppled — but the memory of the real one has been polished nicely by Dan McLaughlin. You really need to read his piece, In Defense of Ulysses S. Grant. Here’s a slice:

Grant was a great man, if a flawed one. He was, moreover, a humble man who needed great events to uncover his strengths. Understanding both his flaws and the context of his life underlines the greatness of his accomplishments. Reading history requires empathy. People in the past believed different things than we do, sometimes for very good reasons. Things that appalled them as immoral then do not scandalize us now, and things that appall us as immoral now did not scandalize them then. Ideas and tactics that would succeed today would fail miserably then.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize–winning 1619 Project author, waved away efforts to put Grant in context in a since-deleted Tweet: “Hitler was a man of his time, Osama bin Laden was a man of his time.” This is an obscene parallel: Hitler was not the norm among veterans of the First World War, and bin Laden was not the norm even among Saudis born in the 1950s. It is also not how history works. To say that figures of the past were men of their time is not to exonerate them from all judgment but to recognize that judgment requires perspective as to what things were hard, what things were possible, and what things required courage.

Grant always believed that slavery was wrong, though, as with many Americans of his day, it took time for him to be convinced to act on it. He was from the free state of Ohio, and his father was a vocal abolitionist. (Grant’s father was too vocal about a lot of things for the tastes of the soft-spoken, reserved Grant). Yet Grant fell in love with a Southern woman, whose wealthy family owned slaves. His father-in-law remained an unreconstructed Confederate even while living in Grant’s White House literally in the middle of Reconstruction. Was Grant wrong to marry her? Was he wrong, as his critics imply, not to impose sterner patriarchal discipline over his wife and her “property,” and a more unforgiving posture toward his father-in-law? Perhaps he was. But their marriage was long and happy, and Julia Grant was essential to keeping him sober when he needed her help. Dealing with the intransigence of his ultra-Yankee father and ultra-Rebel father-in-law gave Grant a unique appreciation for the nation’s divisions and the careful work needed to accommodate and overcome them.

Grant knew a real rebellion when he saw it. And he defeated it. Inspiring, no? Now, onto the Jolt!

Editorials

1. The President’s decision to cut U.S. troops in Germany is ill-advised. From the editorial:

If it is being undertaken to punish Germany for its trade policies and defense spending, as Trump has said, it’s unlikely to bring results. Trump was right to call Germany “delinquent” for consistently failing to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense, the NATO target. Germany’s disregard for its commitments to the transatlantic alliance is disgraceful, but unfortunately, unlikely to fundamentally change, notwithstanding a minor increase in defense spending last year. Germany has also pressed ahead with Nord Stream 2, a natural-gas pipeline that will run between Russia, and Germany and render our allies beholden to the Kremlin for their energy needs.

Regardless, the reason to keep our forces in Germany isn’t as a favor to Berlin, but because it serves our interest in a stable Europe. And there are better ways, including economic measures, to thwart EU–Russia collaboration.

If it is being undertaken as a slap at Chancellor Angela Merkel for saying that she would not attend a G-7 meeting Trump had wanted to host in Washington this month, it constitutes a substitution of personal pique for military strategy. (Administration officials have claimed that the withdrawal announcement had been in the works for months.)

If it is being undertaken to save money, as some have suggested, it’s not going to work because it will also cost money to house the troops removed from Germany in, say, Texas.

2. We condemn the rabble’s statue-toppling. From the editorial:

Alas, too many of our institutions seem to believe that the answer is “Easier.” The Pulitzer prize-winning lead essayist of the New York Times’s “1619 Project” has suggested that it would be “an honor” if all this vandalism were called “the 1619 riots,” and, separately, has expressed indifference toward the destruction of statues of Ulysses S. Grant. Given that the central premise of the 1619 Project is that the Founding was predicated upon a lie and that white supremacy has always been the nation’s animating value, this makes a perverted sort of sense, and yet we cannot help but notice how absurd it is that, by flattening American history into a single unexceptional lump, the supposedly “anti-racist” position is rendered indistinguishable from the position that was held by the Confederacy. As ever, the death of context leads inexorably to the death of understanding.

And, if left unchecked, it leads to the death of history itself. Every great figure from America’s past has been flawed in one way or another; the salient question is whether those flaws were incidental, or whether they were central, to their celebration. Thomas Jefferson is remembered primarily for setting into aspic what Abraham Lincoln described as an “abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times” and what Martin Luther King described as a “promissory note.” George Washington is remembered for his role throwing off the colonial yoke and then setting an unprecedented example of republican leadership as the nation’s first president. Lincoln saved the Union and helped to bring an end to slavery; Churchill identified the Nazis as having created “a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime,” and helped rally the world to their destruction; Gandhi pioneered and practiced a form of non-violent protest that has been exported worldwide and used to remarkable effect. A full understanding of each man requires the imposition of a “but . . . ”. It does not require the wholesale destruction of his memory.

3. We applaud the President’s executive order with broad immigration restrictions. From the editorial:

We wish Congress would not delegate its powers so extensively. But it has, and therefore it falls under the president’s purview to decide whether the pandemic has temporarily changed America’s immigration needs. Seeing the jobless rate elevated throughout the economy, he has decided, correctly, that yes, it has.

The new rules apply to a broad swath of legal immigration. They extend a previous order restricting new green cards. They also cut back on the H-1B visa, a favorite of tech companies both because it allows them to bring in rare talent from abroad and because it allows them to replace American workers with lower-paid foreigners acquired through outsourcing firms. Also affected are visas for temporary low-skill workers, au pairs, exchange students, and employees whom companies wish to transfer from foreign offices to American ones.

More notable, however, is what the order does not affect. It exempts everyone who is already in the country — so it will not disrupt the lives of people who have come here, only stop additional immigrants from arriving while the economy is struggling. It also exempts workers crucial to the nation’s food supply, those treating or researching COVID-19, and several other categories, including a catch-all of immigrants whose entry, in the administration’s judgment, “would be in the national interest.” And visa processing abroad has already slowed to a halt thanks to the pandemic, further limiting the proclamation’s impact.

4. We unabashedly reject the idea of D.C. statehood. From the editorial:

Friday’s D.C. statehood vote in the House is also entirely symbolic. Only a constitutional amendment can convert the seat of the federal government into a state. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gave Congress plenary local lawmaking power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District” — the broadest power Congress exercises anywhere. The 23rd Amendment, passed by Congress at the urging of Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy in 1960, gave D.C. the votes in presidential elections that it would have as a state. But it defines D.C. as a permanent constitutional entity of its own, outside of statehood. The Justice Department has repeatedly concluded, under administrations of both parties, that D.C. statehood requires amending the Constitution. That isn’t going to happen. The last time an amendment was tried, in the 1970s, only 16 states signed on.

On the merits of the proposal, it is difficult to see how the people of D.C. are oppressed, easy to see how their influence is already disproportionate, and easier than ever to see why the federal government would be imperiled by subjecting its physical security to District authorities. True, the Founding Fathers did not anticipate a time when the federal district would have more residents than Vermont. But early Americans also never conceived a time when the federal government would spend 4.5 trillion dollars a year and employ more people in D.C. alone than the entire populations of Syracuse or Dayton.

A Goodly 20 Examples of the Conservative Brilliance Served Up This Week Past by Your Favorite Conservative Website

1. When chaos ensues. . . advantage: Country Mouse. Victor Davis Hanson profiles the upside of bumpkinhood and the downside of city slickerage. From the essay:

For many liberal urban dwellers, all the violence, filth, dependency, plague, incompetence, and sermonizing were no longer worth the salaries earned from globalized high-tech and finances. Even the city’s retro, gentrified neighborhoods, its internationalism and sophistication in food, drink, and entertainment, its cultural diversity, and its easy accessibility to millions of similarly enlightened liberals with superior tastes and tolerance began to wear. When stores go up in flames, or the 58th floor comes down with the coronavirus, or Mayor de Blasio plays “Imagine” to illustrate why there are no police on the streets, then who cares about the intellectual stimulation that supposedly comes by osmosis from the nation’s tony universities anchored in cities or their nearby suburbs?

Increasingly over the past four months, millions of city folk have discovered that the police are as essential as water, food, sewage, and gasoline. Without them, life reverts not to a summer of love but more often to the Lord of the Flies and Deadwood. The urban hipster and marketing executive discovered that a spark somewhere 2,000 miles away can ignite their own neighborhood, and all the kneeling, foot-washing, and social-media virtue-signaling won’t bring safety or food.

For the boutique owner, whose store was looted, defaced, and burned, the existential crisis was not just that capital and income were lost, and a lifetime investment wiped out, after the earlier one-two-three punch of plague/quarantine/depression.

Instead, the rub was that the urban store owner and his customer grasped that all that mayhem could easily happen again and on a moment’s notice — and the ensuing losses would once again be written off as the regrettable collateral damage that is sometimes necessary to “effect social change.” When the mayor and police look the other way as the mob carries off Louis Vuitton bags, and CNN reporters assure us of peaceful protests while flames engulf our television screens, why rebuild or restore what the authorities and the influential deem expendable? Why live in Detroit in 1970 when a constant 1967 repeat was supposed to be a tolerable cost of doing business there?

2. In reality, says Conrad Black, the attack on statues is an effort to topple Western Civilization. From the piece:

There is only a weak argument for removing the statues of great generals such as Lee and Stonewall Jackson. There is no argument whatever for removing from the front of the Museum of Natural History in New York the splendid statue of Theodore Roosevelt, which is being done preemptively, according to the director, because statues now attract controversy. (That one is accompanied by a Native American and an African American beside a mounted TR — he was a supporter of both communities). They should retain TR’s statue and get rid of the director. She represents precisely the sort of cowardice that feeds and is exploited by the extremism that quickly gets to the head of these apparently well intended movements. There is no earthly excuse for taking down the statue of General (and President) U. S. Grant in San Francisco, or for defacing the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London. Compare Confederate leader Jefferson Davis’s views of black people to those of Farrakhan’s hero and Churchill’s arch-foe, Hitler, on the same subject. The first person who advocates the removal of General Sherman’s statue in New York’s Grand Army Plaza by St. Gaudens, should be pitilessly mocked and chastised.

The Democratic Party has left the back door open to these anti-democratic extremists and has been infiltrated. It has morally atrophied and is ambiguous between mob rule and sensible law enforcement. The Democrats have a phantom presidential candidate who is clearly unequal to the office which he seeks and have left their campaign to the biased and unprofessional national political media, since the candidate can’t make the race. The Democrats are trying to avoid the issues, profit from the coronavirus, and hope for a referendum on Trump stacked by the Trump-hating media. Jefferson, Madison, FDR, Truman, and LBJ were Democratic presidents who importantly strengthened the foundations of American liberty. Those who would remove a statue of Robert E. Lee because he led the Army of Virginia, no more realize that they are facilitating the work of those who would tear down statues of Lincoln and Churchill than those who peacefully protested the criminal death of George Floyd realized their efforts would be hijacked by those who burned and pillaged the businesses of thousands of decent Americans.

3. On the idiocy of threatening the Emancipation Memorial, Jack Butler says hands off. From the commentary:

Lincoln Park’s typical quiet was broken on Tuesday by an increasingly familiar sight: a crowd seeking a statue to tear down. The more such groups deviate further from anything resembling legitimate protest against the unjust death of George Floyd, the more one questions their historical literacy. Indeed, it seems clear at this point that any old-looking statue will do: Figures of everyone from the Union general and racially progressive president Ulysses S. Grant to the abolitionist Hans Christian Heg have gotten the treatment. But if the protesters knew anything about the history and a character of the Emancipation Memorial, they would abandon their stated promise to tear the statue down.

It’s worth starting with an aspect of the statue that those who recently flocked to it in the hopes of consigning it to oblivion have the least excuse for not knowing. The man who appears to be leading these efforts on the ground proclaimed on Tuesday that he sees them as part of a campaign of consciousness-raising. “We are going to show up and wake these rich white people up,” he said while standing in front of the statue. If he had turned around, he might have noticed a plaque at the statue’s base that reads as follows:

In grateful memory of Abraham Lincoln, this monument was erected by the Western Sanitary Commission of Saint Louis MO: With funds contributed solely by emancipated citizens of the United States, declared free by his proclamation, January 1st A.D. 1863. The first contribution of five dollars was made by Charlotte Scott, a freed woman of Virginia, being her first earnings in freedom and consecrated by her succession and request on the day she heard of President Lincoln’s death to build a monument to his memory.

So, just to make it absolutely clear: The statue in question here owes its existence not to “rich white people,” but to newly freed slaves, the first of whom contributed to it her first-ever earnings as a free citizen of the United States. To tear it down would be a grave insult to the memory of those who created it.

4. Statuary Jacobinism: The topplings of bronzed Francis Scott Key, Father Junipero Serra, and Confederacy defeater Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park draw the ire of Greg Weiner. From the commentary:

That brings us to Grant. In the spirit of charity that those who destroyed a bust of him lack, set aside the patent absurdity of celebrating Juneteenth by deplatforming the general whose victorious troops read the Emancipation Proclamation and the president who subdued the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. Grant’s unforgivable and all-defining sin was having owned a slave, William Jones.

That is true. So is the fact that Grant was raised in an abolitionist family and went to court in 1859 — in St. Louis, hardly an oasis of political calm or racial enlightenment — to free Jones, whom he could instead have sold to relieve his serious financial troubles. The least generous and nuanced interpretation that can be imposed on Grant’s life is that he was a slave owner who saw the error of his ways and proceeded to destroy slavery. Even that much requires caricature, but as caricatures go, it is an admirable one. Still, it requires a time-elapse photograph rather than a snapshot. It also requires that such an image be placed in context and understood in subtle terms.

In the Golden Gate strain of protest, the rejection of memory and complexity in favor of a bastardized version of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence — that is, live in and for the now alone — has overtaken an initial and noble opposition to racism and police brutality. It will not turn out well for its adherents.

There are conservatives who dispense “Jacobinism” as a casual epithet, but here it genuinely applies. Edmund Burke defined the essence of Jacobinism as “the destruction of all prejudices.” In today’s climate, it is necessary to specify that, by “prejudice,” he referred not to racial animosity but rather to moral habit. The new Jacobins compress past, present, and future into the almighty now.

5. More Statuary Madness: Rich Lowry hails Teddy Roosevelt, kaputed from the entrance to the American Museum of National History. From the article:

As president, he enhanced the country’s role on the world stage. He sent the Great White Fleet (surely, another count against him) on its 43,000-mile trip, with 20 globe-spanning ports of call. The voyage is regarded, as an account by naval historians relates, as “one of the greatest peacetime achievements of the U.S. Navy.”

He brokered the peace in the Russo-Japanese War, becoming the first U.S. president to win a Nobel prize.

He negotiated a settlement of a dispute between France and Germany over control of Morocco.

He extended the 1823 Monroe Doctrine from its original formulation that warned against European intervention, adding a corollary that made the United States the “policeman” of the Western Hemisphere and asserting the right to intervene in the affairs of Latin American countries so misgoverned that they might invite European meddling.

In 1906, he became the first president to travel out of the country, to visit Panama at the time of the construction of the canal that he had done so much to promote, taking the controls of a steam shovel for a jaunty photograph. The largest building project in U.S. history, the canal linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, boosting commerce and easing American naval operations by cutting the trip from San Francisco to New York by 8,000 miles. It was yet another sign of the arrival of the United States as a world power.

Roosevelt clearly understood the role of America in the 20th century. “Whether we wish it or not,” he said in his “big stick” speech, “we cannot avoid hereafter having duties to do in the face of other nations. All that we can do is to settle whether we shall perform these duties well or ill.”

6. Davis Harsanyi checks out an example of progressivism’s fact-challenged efforts to rewrite history. From the piece:

In the progressive retelling of history, the role of both victim and oppressor is predestined according to the hue of a person’s skin. Everyone involved is stripped of agency. And every injustice is retroactively framed in the light of contemporary racial grievances.

This week, a bunch of people decided that it was time to portray Jesus, an ancient Jew living in Roman Palestine, as a man subjugated over his skin color. The activist Shaun King says “white Jesus” was a symbol of white supremacy. Jesus, he argued, fled to Hellenistic Egypt rather than “Denmark” so he could blend in with the African population. No amount of evidence will dissuade him, I’m sure.

“Wasn’t Jesus a person of color brutalized by an oppressive colonial regime? Jesus is a symbol of victims of violence, not of authoritarians who erect statues,” explained New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to his two million Twitter followers.

If Jesus was “a person of color,” then so were the crowds that pleaded with Pilate to “crucify him.” So were the members of the Sanhedrin who convicted him of apostasy. As, most likely, were the Roman soldiers — pulled from all over the Empire — who drove the nails into his hands and feet.

When confronted with these facts, Kristof pivoted to moral truth, noting that “one of the points of Christianity is to apply a basic lesson of Scripture” and “Jesus spoke up for the poor and marginalized.”

Well, yes. But the initial point, of course, was to depict Jesus as a man crucified over the color of his skin; just another victim to fall to the perpetual evil of racism. There is no historical basis for this claim. Though I’m not a theologian, I’m relatively certain that the “point” of Jesus is that he is the Son of God and died for the sins of all mankind, and not that he is a prop for your preferred public-policy initiatives.

7. John Yoo condemns the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling. From the analysis:

Suppose President Donald Trump decided to create a nationwide right to carry guns openly. He could declare that he would not enforce federal firearms laws, and that a new “Trump permit” would free any holder of state and local gun-control restrictions.

Even if Trump knew that his scheme lacked legal authority, he could get away with it for the length of his presidency. And, moreover, even if courts declared the permit illegal, his successor would have to keep enforcing the program for another year or two.

That incredible outcome is essentially what happened with the Supreme Court decision last week in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California (the latter being my employer, I might add). Regents blocked President Trump’s repeal of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which halted the deportation of aliens brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and a parallel 2014 program that suspended the removal of their parents (DAPA). Until the Trump administration goes through the laborious result of enacting a new regulation to undo DACA and DAPA, approximately 6 million aliens can remain in the U.S. in defiance of federal immigration statutes.

While supporters of broader, more humane immigration policies (among whom I count myself) may have welcomed the result, they may well regret the Court’s disruption of executive power. President Barack Obama could issue his extralegal visa programs for children and their parents aliens by simple executive fiat, according to Chief Justice John Roberts and four liberal Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan), but President Trump had to pretend the order was legal and use the slow Administrative Procedure Act to reverse them. “Even if it is illegal for DHS to extend work authorization and other benefits to DACA recipients,” Roberts found, DACA “could not be rescinded in full without any consideration whatsoever of a” non-deportation policy other than on the ground of its illegality.

According to Chief Justice Roberts, the Constitution makes it easy for presidents to violate the law, but reversing such violations difficult — especially for their successors.

8. More Gorsuch comeuppance, this time from Josh Blackman and Randy Barnett. From the analysis:

Through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress took momentous steps to eradicate prejudice and bias in the workplace. Title VII of that landmark law made it unlawful for employers to “discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Despite how some critics characterized Bostock, all nine Justices agreed — at least for purposes of this case — that “sex” referred to the “biological distinctions between male and female.” The meaning of the word “sex” did not evolve, and the majority did not “update” or “rewrite” the statute. What fractured the Court was the relationship between two critical terms: “discriminate against” and “because of.”

Let’s start with the first term. How was the phrase “discriminate against” understood in 1964? Justice Gorsuch cites the definition of “discriminate” from Webster’s 1954 New International Dictionary: “To make a difference in treatment or favor (of one as compared with others).” But that’s not the entire phrase used in the statute. Title VII refers to “discriminate against.” And the additional word “against” modifies the meaning.

To define “discriminate against,” Justice Gorsuch relied on a 2006 decision by Justice Breyer, which stated “no one doubts that the term ‘discriminate against’ refers to distinctions or differences in treatment that injure protected individuals.” However, Justice Breyer was interpreting a different provision of Title VII that governed retaliation. Moreover, Justice Breyer made no effort to understand how “discriminate against” was understood in 1964. Instead, he relied on a 1989 decision by Justice William Brennan. But this decision did not turn on the meaning of “discriminate against.” Rather, Justice Brennan considered the phrase “because of.” Justice Gorsuch’s research trail slammed into a brick wall. Yet despite this incomplete analysis, Justice Gorsuch concluded that the phrase “to ‘discriminate against’ a person, then, would seem to mean treating that individual worse than others who are similarly situated.”

9. David Bahnsen warns that prolonged low-interest rates are some day going to bite. From the analysis:

The cost of capital is an important component of macroeconomic reality. When the cost of capital exceeds the return on invested capital, recessions result, businesses retreat, and jobs are lost. Ideally, given that there will be recessions from time to time, I would rather see volatility in the ROIC (which is market driven) than in the cost of capital. That said, interest rates (the price of money) are subject to market forces, too, like any other price. Unlike many other prices, the price of money is what enables price discovery of everything else. But the cost of capital is not determined by market conditions alone. In a society with a central bank it is hugely influenced (although not fully controlled) by the interventions of that bank. Different central banks have taken on different levels of intervention throughout history, but their ability to change the cost of money is not up for debate.

The problems with distorting the cost of capital above and beyond those periods of emergency intervention are many. They begin with the way that emergency interventions never seem to stay “emergency interventions.” Temporary government programs become long-term government solutions, as Milton Friedman taught us, and central banks have not been immune to this in Japan, the U.K., the European Union, or the United States, at least in the last quarter century or so. During “normal” periods, emergency provisions are at best not accelerated further — only very rarely are emergency provisions actually removed or reversed.

And it’s all the more dangerous when the emergency provision is one that strikes many as benign: low interest rates. Who wouldn’t want a lower cost of funds to finance both consumption and production? It is one thing if we are talking about Fed facilities to buy corporate bonds — surely, we all see that as an outlier of aggressive accommodation; but low interest rates? Who could possibly find fault with such a thing?

10. Jimmy Quinn exposes an effort by bought-and-paid ChiCom errand boys to prevent the publication of a book about Beijing’s western influence. From the beginning of the piece:

The release of a forthcoming book on the Chinese Communist Party’s influence in Western democracies was put on hold in Canada last week following a British trade association’s threat to sue for what it says are defamatory allegations.

The book in question, Hidden Hand, is a comprehensive account of the CCP’s “global program of subversion, and the threat it poses to democracy,” according to the London-based Oneworld Publications, which owns the book’s English-language rights in the Northern Hemisphere.

Last week, Oneworld received a notice from lawyers representing the 48 Group Club, a British trade association, and its chairman, Stephen Perry. In the book, authors Clive Hamilton, an Australian academic, and Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Asia Program, characterize the 48 Group Club as a conduit of CCP influence in elite British circles. Perry and his organization take issue with several sentences, which they say are incorrect or defamatory. Druces Law, the firm representing Perry, did not return National Review’s request for comment.

Oneworld tells National Review that it disagrees with Perry’s defamation claims. It is currently taking legal advice, but the publisher’s plans to launch the book in the U.S. and U.K. on September 8 will “go ahead as planned,” said Novin Doostdar, publisher of Oneworld. The book was released in Australia last week and was previously released digitally in Germany.

11. More Quinn: The ChiComs are furious over an Aussie think tank’s report. From the piece:

This month, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute — a Canberra-based think tank focusing on defense issues — published groundbreaking reports on Chinese genomic surveillance, disinformation on Twitter, and united-front influence operations in Western democracies. Just in June, ASPI’s work has boosted public understanding of the mechanisms by which the Chinese Communist Party clings to power at home and seeks influence abroad.

Impactful as these studies may already seem, they’re actually far more important than you’d expect. Why? Well, the Chinese government is bringing its weight to bear on discrediting ASPI’s work — the research center has struck a nerve in Beijing.

Take this piece published by Xinhua News Agency yesterday. Citing a pro-Beijing former Australian foreign minister, the director of an institute with which that former foreign minister is associated, a Chinese foreign-ministry spokeswoman, and others, the state-owned media outlet paints the picture of a hopelessly pro-American puppet organization manipulated by the defense contractors that fund it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said earlier this month that with such strong ideological bias, the institute is actually spearheading anti-China forces and its academic credibility has been seriously questioned . . . 

The institute has fabricated reports on policies in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which the Chinese government has repeatedly refuted.

“Refuted.”

12. Kyle Smith says that the usually honest Dave Chappelle is punking out on the truth. From the rebuttal:

‘Trayvon Martin,” says Dave Chappelle, “was murdered by George Zimmerman.” No, he wasn’t.

Taking exception to the points made by a standup comic can be obtuse: “Relax, I’m only joking” usually ends the discussion. Comics use hyperbole, anecdote, and cherry-picked facts to drive laughs, sometimes hiding behind a naive or moronic alter ego.

None of that applies to 8:46, Chappelle’s 30-minute YouTube special inspired by the death of George Floyd, whose title evokes the time Floyd’s neck spent under a police officer’s knee before he died. Chappelle’s latest isn’t a comedy routine at all; he makes no attempt to shape his outrage about police brutality into comic bits. Nor does he hide behind a character. 8:46 is a 30-minute monologue on current events frankly delivered by Chappelle in his own voice — an address, not an act. For the duration of this special, Chappelle isn’t a comic but a political commentator. He therefore opens himself up to the same kind of scrutiny as any political columnist, who can and should be criticized for conceptual errors and misstatements of fact.

Moreover, since Chappelle commands a much larger audience than virtually any political commentator (the new special, which is streaming on YouTube, has racked up 25 million views since it dropped June 12) his errors are more, not less, worrying than Tucker Carlson’s or Rachel Maddow’s. If you are concerned about “fake news” or “misinformation campaigns” in which, say, five million Americans get nudged to believe things that didn’t happen — and you should be — how concerned should you be about the false assertions of a man whose views engage tens of millions of viewers?

13. Cameron Hilditch castigates Amazon’s footsie-playing with the despicable Southern Poverty Law Center. From the report:

The next time you buy something from Amazon (I say “the next time” because there’s really no point using the conditional tense anymore when it comes to our collective patronage of this company as a species), you’ll be asked if you want to make a donation to a charity under the auspices of their “Amazon Smile” program. This donation won’t cost you a thing. Amazon themselves donate 0.5 percent of the cost all eligible products to the charity of your choice if you opt into “Smile,” and over $160 million has been raised so far through this program for various charities across the world. The only shortcoming of this otherwise laudable venture is that Amazon have outsourced the decision-making process for which nonprofits are eligible for Smile to the extremely dubious Southern Poverty Law Center.

For those who do not know, the SPLC is a legal-advocacy organization that tries to police the Overton Window of acceptable discourse in the United States. They are notorious for their famous list of “hate groups,” which names nonprofits like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam. The SPLC’s promiscuous proclivity for damning any group or individual to the right of Samantha Bee on social issues now restricts the ability of Amazon’s customers to donate to nonprofit organizations of their choice. It’s somewhat baffling that Amazon would choose to place their flagship charitable enterprise under the yoke of the SPLC given that its reputation has been in free-fall for some time, and not only in the eyes of those on the right. The nonprofit watchdog CharityWatch gives the SPLC an F, its lowest grade, on account of the fact that it has over six and a half years worth of available assets in reserve.

14. More Dan McLaughlin, this time giving a New York Times claptrapper an education in American history. From the piece:

According to New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, “Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves.” Instead, “the slaves freed the slaves.” Emancipation “was something they took for themselves.” The most that can be said of Lincoln and the nation’s political leadership is that they “helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment” (emphasis added). Of the Union Army, Bouie allows only that it “delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation.”

It should not be necessary to defend the proposition that Lincoln, the Republicans, and the Union Army played a major role in ending slavery, but here we are. The very act of casting their role aside so blithely is a species of gaslighting. As is the case with most deliberately distorted history, there are elements of uncontroversial truth to Bouie’s narrative, yet its most sweeping claims are false — and the true parts are merely tools for advancing the falsehood.

Bouie is right that black Americans played a significant role in contributing to the abolitionist movement, the escalating sectional tensions that led to secession, the transformation of the Civil War in the North from a war for the Union to a war of liberation, and the Union’s victory. He is wrong to claim that those contributions in and of themselves were enough to bring about the end of slavery, and that Lincoln, the Republicans, the Union Army, and the majority of the American population were merely passive conduits, bobbing like a cork on the unstoppable streams of history.

Bouie skips the crucial step. All the abolitionist agitation in the world only mattered because the people with real political, military, cultural, and economic power in America — the federal government, Northern state governments, the military, the churches, the leaders of the economy, and ultimately, the voting public — eventually chose to side with the abolitionist movement.  It was not a given that they would; in the 1820s and 1830s, they had chosen not to.

15. Tobias Hoonhout is all over the New York Times’ new brand of doxx-your-enemies journalism. From the report:

The popular pseudonymous blogger behind Slate Star Codex claims that he’s been forced to delete the blog after a New York Times reporter threatened to reveal his identity. It is the latest example of the paper’s willingness to grant anonymity according to inconsistent, ideologically self-serving criteria.

In the only post remaining on the site, Slate Star Codex founder “Scott Alexander,” who claims to write under his real first and middle names while withholding his last name, reveals that he recently spoke to a Times technology reporter who expressed interest in writing a “mostly positive” article about his blog.

Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications for the Times, told National Review in a statement that “we do not comment on what we may or may not publish in the future. But when we report on newsworthy or influential figures, our goal is always to give readers all the accurate and relevant information we can.”

Slate Star Codex is a popular blog in the “rationalist” subculture with an active community of readers. It began in 2013 and became famous for technical deep-dives into a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, medicine, psychology, politics, and social science. Among other topics, Alexander has questioned “progressive” conventions around the mutability of intelligence in his writing. He also noted the threat posed by coronavirus well before many mainstream publications began devoting extensive coverage to it.

Perhaps the Times intended to cover this blog and the broader subculture it inhabits. But Alexander, who did not return a request for comment, writes that the supposedly flattering article would come with a catch — the Times had “discovered” Alexander’s full name and planned to reveal it in the story. When Alexander pushed back, the reporter told him “it was New York Times policy to include real names, and he couldn’t change that.”

16. Armond White has issues with Miss Juneteenth, but then he also sees things he likes about the new flick. From the review:

Except for one scene that tours a modest, amateurish museum in Fort Worth devoted to the history of the Juneteenth celebration, the movie Miss Juneteenth focuses on the personal, emotional life of a black Texas woman, Turquoise Jones (Nichole Beharie), and her efforts to win an ethnic-beauty-pageant crown for her 14-year-old daughter. Miss Juneteenth is not about trendy politics — despite its novelty title — so it may seem out of joint. But debut director Channing Godfrey Peoples and producer David Lowery deserve credit for avoiding the opportunistic occasion.

Miss Juneteenth refuses the political correctness that suddenly overtook the nation last week, exemplified by New York governor Andrew Cuomo officially declaring Juneteenth (a local Texas event) a state holiday and the media forcing the public into commemoration mode in order to promote Black Lives Matter dissent. Instead, Miss Juneteenth was made by Texans Godfrey Peoples and Lowery, and made without guile, showing how Turquoise passes her history — and her values — on to her daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze), who boasts a teen’s very relaxed ideals.

Blackness and womanhood mean different things to this Gen Y mother and Millennial daughter. Neither Turquoise nor Kai is particularly political, and in this way, Miss Juneteenth gently reproves the current enthusiasm that all black generations experience the same social conditions — a notion that’s imposed on blacks by activists, media, and pandering politicians. The pageant scholarship means less to Turquoise than her own memory of winning. That experience “made me feel like I had a chance,” she says — while holding a straightening comb, Godfrey Peoples’s perfect image of a certain black female’s ego and striving.

17. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn makes the case for human exceptionalism in the age of artificial intelligence. From the piece:

In 1980, philosopher John Searle crafted a thought experiment in his essay Minds, Brains, and Programs that aimed to disprove the hypothesis that machines could truly have understanding. Searle imagines himself in a locked room, with men standing outside the door and feeding him a story in Chinese characters through a slot. The men receive Searle’s “questions” about their story (also in Chinese) through the same slot and conclude that he must understand the Chinese language. However, unbeknownst to the men, Searle has a large sheet in front of him on which instructions are printed for receiving certain combinations of characters and returning others in response. Searle is mindlessly receiving sequences of characters, following his sheet’s instructions, and returning other sequences of characters. He need not understand the story, or even know that the characters are Chinese, to feign comprehension. In representing a computer through his parable, Searle shows that a program-running machine does not really understand — it only shuffles symbols mechanically.

In the same way, AI lacks the understanding of what it means for sound to be emotive. There is no concise value that can be assigned to the passionate ardor one feels at the opening of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1, nor to the tristesse one undergoes in the Funeral March of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2. And even if we could train AI to produce motifs that sound pleasant and authentic — as we have started to — the stretch from short phrases to a long work imbued with an underlying artistic message is vast. There seems to be something unquantifiable and ineffable about the artistic license displayed by the greatest composers, something we can understand only by virtue of having a mind that feels emotion and grasps sound beyond the mechanical plane.

Yet we have been wrong about AI before. It is not unimaginable that, through the brute force of its computing power, machine intelligence will find a way to surpass humans someday even in creativity. Still, our fierce pride would be left with some consolation.

18. The Sino-Indian border strife is something that should concern us all, write Helen Raleigh. From the analysis:

In 2013, Xi rolled out a major foreign-policy initiative called “One Belt and One Road” (OBOR). The initiative consists of building infrastructure projects across continents and expanding China’s economic and geopolitical influence. Xi deemed the OBOR initiative “the project of the century.” At least 157 nations and international organizations have signed up to be part of it.

India has a good reason to feel threatened by some of the OBOR initiatives. One is an oil and natural-gas pipeline from Kunming, a city in southern China, to Myanmar’s Arakan coast in the Bay of Bengal. The pipeline would not only give China easier access to cheap oil, but would also enable China’s ships, commercial as well as military, to establish a presence close to the Indian Ocean, right in India’s backyard.

Another OBOR initiative troubling to India is the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor, a signature OBOR project, which passes through Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. India views this project as China’s taking a stand on Pakistan’s claim to Kashmir. Some in India, such as Chintamani Mahapatra, a professor at the School of international studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, have even called this OBOR initiative “a new kind of colonization.” Consequently, India refused to send a high-level delegation to China’s OBOR summit in May 2017. At the time, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said, “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Then, in June 2017, India and China arrived at their first serious border dispute in more than five decades, when Indian soldiers stopped a Chinese-army construction crew from building a road in a pocket of land in the Doklam region. Since this land lies between Bhutan, China, and the Indian state of Sikkim, all three countries had claimed ownership of it. China treats the region as part of Chinese-controlled Tibet. India claimed it was intervening on behalf of both India and Bhutan, because both have historical claims to the disputed land, and Bhutan is a tiny country that relies on India for security protection. The standoff between the two nations lasted about ten weeks before both sides agreed to deescalate. Although Beijing did not continue its road construction, it has kept Chinese forces in Doklam since then.

19. Leslie Ford commends the president for his executive order on foster-care reform. From the piece:

This week, President Trump signed an executive order to help kids like Anthony and David. The order, which will decrease the time that children spend in foster care and help them find loving families, is desperately needed to give some of America’s most vulnerable kids a better shot at a better life.

The foster-care system is full of despair. Of the more than 437,300 children currently in care, over 125,000 are waiting for their forever family. More than 50 percent have been in foster care for two years — or more. The kids left behind are usually those who need love the most: children over the age of nine, siblings who want to stay together, and kids with disabilities.

Worse, every year, around 20,000 young people age out of foster care without any legal connection to a family. The results for these young adults are terrifying: Researchers who have conducted longitudinal studies find that four in ten will experience homelessness; more than 25 percent will end up incarcerated; and 71 percent of the young women will be pregnant by age 21.

20. Madeleine Kearns high fives the 2019 film Mr. Jones, about the Soviet’s mass starvation of Ukrainians and the American journalist — the New York Times’ Walter Duranty — who covered for Stalin’s depravities. From the review:

Duranty, meanwhile, supped with Franklin Roosevelt (then governor of New York) and wrote of Stalin’s experiment in the New York Times (“all the news that’s fit to print”) that “to put it brutally — you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” Sally J. Taylor’s 1990 biography of Duranty, Stalin’s Apologist, details how in addition to his inaccurate reporting, the correspondent participated in Satanic orgies as well as heavy drug and alcohol abuse. Taylor documents “the bitter, ironic story of a man who had the rare opportunity to bring to light the suffering of the millions of Stalin’s victims, but remained a prisoner of vanity, self-indulgence and success.”

While Mr. Jones accurately characterizes Duranty, Gareth Jones’s family complains that the same is not true of him. Jones’s niece, Margaret Siriol Colley, published her uncle’s notebooks in the 1990s, which are now exhibited at his old Cambridge college next to memorabilia belonging to fellow alumnus Isaac Newton. Jones’s family complained of the “multiple fictions” in the Mr. Jones screenplay. His great-nephew told the Sunday Times that Jones “didn’t witness any dead bodies or cannibalism, let alone take part in any.” Nevertheless, Andrea Chalupa’s thoughtful screenplay is more about the truth Jones exposed. And in that regard, the script is in alignment with scholarship. Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands recounts how in desperation people would eat the dead, including family members. Anne Applebaum candidly discusses cannibalism within families in her book Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. As for the scene in Mr. Jones in which a crying baby is tossed with its mother’s corpse onto a cart of dead bodies, that is taken from a survivor of the Holodomor, Chalupa’s own grandfather, whose memoir she interweaves in her book Orwell and the Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm.

In Mr. Jones, Jones briefly meets Malcolm Muggeridge, a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, who also managed to smuggle stories about the famine out of the USSR, publishing them anonymously. Back in England, Jones also meets George Orwell, a socialist writer, whose mind he seems to change about Stalin’s experiment. It is not clear that, in reality, the two ever met. But there is a symbolic truth here, too.

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, Daniel J. Mahoney reflects on the 80th anniversary of the Fall of France. Expect the usual brilliance. From the essay:

What were the principal sources, or causes, of the French calamity? In the English historian Julian Jackson’s thoughtful, informative, and competent account in The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940, a serious effort is made to put the death throes of the French Third Republic in some perspective. Jackson argues, for example, that the English political elite was deeply corrupt in its own ways, and had supported appeasement of the Nazi regime, partly out of cowardice, and partly because the appeasers preferred to deal with an anti-Bolshevik Nazi Germany rather than attempt a defensive alliance with a Soviet Union they (rightly) abhorred. Because of this, the majority in Churchill’s own party still distrusted him for months after he became Prime Minister of Great Britain on May 10, 1940.

Jackson also argues that France had made serious progress in rearming by the time the Second World War broke out in September 1939. In some sense, Jackson argues, France was “ready for war,” at least in terms of the requisite number of tanks and guns. Jackson acknowledges the eloquence and forcefulness of Charles de Gaulle’s critique (in his 1934 book Vers l’armée de métier, published in English in 1941 as Army of the Future) of an outmoded approach to national defense that left all initiative to the enemy, hid behind the series of defensive fortifications known as the Maginot Line, and that gave France little or no ability to strike the enemy if and when war broke out. France massively, and unwisely, over-relied on short-term conscripts and reservists. The French had better tanks than the Germans but could only conceive them as supports of infantry. But despite de Gaulle’s discernment, Jackson faults him for combining a “prescient” technical argument for the use of tank formations in a dynamic and offensive manner, with “the politically sensitive issue of the professional army.”

But de Gaulle’s argument was never an essentially “technical” one. In Vers l’armée de métier the French military intellectual was calling for nothing less than a renewal of France and her army. The old republican and revolutionary dogmas, the ideological reliance on civilian armed forces at all costs, were inadequate to confronting the needs of the time or the immense danger posed by Berlin after Hitler’s ascendance to power in January 1933. This was indeed a moment “that changed everything,” as we are too keen to say today. Jackson faults de Gaulle for having written a book “suffused with a romantic and almost mystical celebration of the military vocation and the role it could play in national regeneration.” “This,” he adds, “was not the best way to win converts.”

2. More Law & Liberty: The eminent George Nash looks at the work of master historian Bernard Bailyin. From the piece:

Bailyn was also fascinated by—and repelled by—a Hegelian philosophy professor at Williams whose lectures were dazzling but whose “aphoristic, metaphysical talk” seemed to be “beyond criticism and beyond validation.” Reacting against this and against the “philosophical chatter” of some of this professor’s student acolytes, Bailyn was drawn to a “tough-minded” professor of history at Williams whose skepticism and “devotion to the facts” Bailyn found “entirely congenial.” The doorway to his becoming a historian had begun to open.

After just two and a half years at Williams College, Bailyn was drawn into the U.S. Army in 1943, in the midst of World War II. During his service in uniform, he was eventually placed in a German language-and-culture immersion program as preparation for possible duty in Occupied Germany after the war. He learned German and became “extremely interested” in German history. Bailyn never returned to Williams, which awarded him his BA in 1945 while he was still in the Army. After his discharge in 1946, he entered Harvard University as a graduate student in history.

During the chaotic opening weeks of the Fall 1946 semester, on a campus overflowing with war veterans and other students, Bailyn struggled to find his bearings. Which specific subjects and problems did he wish to study? He did not yet know. But he did have an idea of the “general principles” and “connections” that interested him, and one day he wrote these down on a page detached from a calendar. First, he would like to study “the early modern period of Western history” and “the connections between a distant past and an emerging modernity.” Second, he wished to examine the “connections” between ideas and “reality.” Third, he wanted to investigate “the connections between America and Europe, in whatever sphere.” He could not know it, but he had just sketched the contours of his entire career. “In retrospect,” he now writes, “everything I have done in history can be seen as following the principles of my main interests as I had defined them in 1946.”

3. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern provides an essential look at the breadth and depth and history of Antifa. From the piece:

The ideological origins of Antifa can be traced back to the Soviet Union roughly a century ago. In 1921 and 1922, the Communist International (Comintern) developed the so-called united front tactic to “unify the working masses through agitation and organization” … “at the international level and in each individual country” against “capitalism” and “fascism” — two terms that often were used interchangeably.

The world’s first anti-fascist group, Arditi del Popolo (People’s Courageous Militia), was founded in Italy in June 1921 to resist the rise of Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, which itself was established to prevent the possibility of a Bolshevik revolution on the Italian Peninsula. Many of the group’s 20,000 members, consisting of communists and anarchists, later joined the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39).

In Germany, the Communist Party of Germany established the paramilitary group Roter Frontkämpferbund (Red Front Fighters League) in July 1924. The group was banned due to its extreme violence. Many of its 130,000 members continued their activities underground or in local successor organizations such as the Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus (Fighting-Alliance Against Fascism).

In Slovenia, the militant anti-fascist movement TIGR was established in 1927 to oppose the Italianization of Slovene ethnic areas after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The group, which was disbanded in 1941, specialized in assassinating Italian police and military personnel.

In Spain, the Communist Party established the Milicias Antifascistas Obreras y Campesinas (Antifascist Worker and Peasant Militias), which were active in the 1930s.

The modern Antifa movement derives its name from a group called Antifaschistische Aktion, founded in May 1932 by Stalinist leaders of the Communist Party of Germany. The group was established to fight fascists, a term the party used to describe all of the other pro-capitalist political parties in Germany. The primary objective of Antifaschistische Aktion was to abolish capitalism, according to a detailed history of the group. The group, which had more than 1,500 founding members, went underground after Nazis seized power in 1933.

4. More Gatestone: Kern provides a second part of his Antifa history, this focusing on its US operations. From the report:

American media outlets sympathetic to Antifa have jumped to its defense. They argue that the group cannot be classified as a terrorist organization because, they claim, it is a vaguely-defined protest movement that lacks a centralized structure.

As the following report shows, Antifa is, in fact, highly networked, well-funded and has a clear ideological agenda: to subvert, often with extreme violence, the American political system, with the ultimate aim of replacing capitalism with communism. In the United States, Antifa’s immediate aim is to remove President Trump from office.

Gatestone Institute has identified Antifa groups in all 50 U.S. states, with the possible exception of West Virginia. Some states, including California, Texas and Washington, appear to have dozens of sub-regional Antifa organizations.

It is difficult precisely to determine the size of the Antifa movement in the United States. The so-called “Anti-Fascists of Reddit,” the “premier anti-fascist community” on the social media platform Reddit, has approximately 60,000 members. The oldest Antifa group in America, the Portland, Oregon-based “Rose City Antifa,” has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook followers, not all of whom are necessarily supporters. “It’s Going Down,” a media platform for anarchists, anti-fascists and autonomous anti-capitalists, has 85,000 Twitter followers and 30,000 Facebook followers.

Germany, which has roughly one-quarter of the population of the United States, is home to 33,000 extreme leftists, of whom 9,000 are believed to be extremely dangerous, according to the domestic intelligence agency (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV). Violent left-wing agitators are predominantly male, between 21 and 24 years of age, usually unemployed, and, according to BfV, 92% still live with their parents. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most Antifa members in the United States have a similar socio-economic profile.

In America, national Antifa groups, including “Torch Antifa Network,” “Refuse Fascism” and “World Can’t Wait” are being financed — often generously, as shown below — by individual donors as well as by large philanthropic organizations, including the Open Society Foundations founded by George Soros.

5. Because . . . Conservative. At Commentary, Steve Hayward recounts his cancel-culture experience with the SJW harpies and cowering administrators at Berkeley. From the reflection:

If mainstream liberal academics find today’s campus climate tricky, imagine what it’s like for the increasingly rare conservative academic. The story of my time at the University of California at Berkeley offers some guidance.

When I was appointed a visiting (and non-tenured!) faculty member at Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies in the fall of 2016, friends and observers wondered how such an unlikely thing came to be—and how long it would be before I was “canceled” and run off campus. How I ended up at Berkeley is a circuitous story, but the relevant fact is that even many liberals at Berkeley knew that the campus was ideologically unbalanced, and I was warmly welcomed and encouraged to teach classes in political science and at the law school.

I never used to declare my ideological leanings to a class, and then as now, I teach the subject matter in a deliberately neutral fashion that in the past has sometimes prompted students to ask mid-semester whether I am a liberal or a conservative. But over time I have come to embrace being a conspicuous conservative and telling students of this fact on Day One. This ironically may provide me a greater degree of safety than would be the case for someone who concealed his opinions and was then “outed” as a conservative. Berkeley’s student newspaper, the Daily Cal, ran a news story and an editorial when I first arrived in 2016 about what a horrible human being I am, but the adverse publicity had the predictable effect: I had a long waiting list for my first course, which included a lot of liberal and even far-left progressive students telling me they were interested in hearing something different. (They were terrific, by the way, as have been the smart Berkeley progressive students in all of my subsequent classes.)

It was perhaps naive to think this constructive circumstance could last indefinitely, even at an institution as large as Berkeley. I wondered whimsically at times what I was doing wrong. Maybe I wasn’t testing the limits, or I was being too timid.

I wonder no more.

6. Idiocy on the March: The College Fix’s Greg Piper reports on how the word “Freedom” has the knickers twisted of dimwit SJWs at Robert Morris University. From the report:

A private university named after a founding father has changed the name of student identification cards following a petition that said their nomenclature was harmful to minority students.

A spokesperson for Robert Morris University disputes, however, that the two-week-old Change.org petition was the impetus for the change from “Freedom Card” to “RMU ID Card.”

Student Melanie Hall created the petition, which claims racial minorities are 24 percent of the student population at the Pittsburgh school. Like many names on campus, the Freedom Card refers to the American Revolution.

“This poorly named form of identification has made minority students (black students in particular) feel like we are being dehumanized,” the petition reads: “Gifting us with IDs that grant us our ‘freedom’ is of extremely poor taste.”

It drew just 130 signatures before Hall, a rising senior, posted an update Tuesday morning that said Dean of Students John Michalenko told her both the card name and design would be changed.

BONUS: At Spectator USA, Chadwick Moore looks into the Marxist occupation of gay rights. From the article:

Everything you know about gay history is a lie. The history of homosexuality is constantly in flux, rewritten by whoever is in power at the time. There’s no guarantee the stories we tell ourselves today will still be true in five years. Naturally, transgender women of color hurled the first bricks at Stonewall, the uprising outside of a gay bar in 1969 that sparked the modern gay rights movement. Except they didn’t. This little bit of historical revisionism appeared about 10 years ago and has been completely digested as fact by the entirety of the LGBT Industrial Complex, for one simple reason: LGBTQAI+ is no longer interested in gay individuals, or equality, but has been transformed into yet another vehicle of social Marxism, their specific target being to confuse and chip away at norms surrounding gender, sexuality, and relationships.

To drive their new, fake narrative home, Big Gay deified two non-white, self-identified ‘cross-dressers’ who were regular fixtures around the gay scene at the time, Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. I didn’t need to unearth the video interview with Silvia Rivera where he admits he wasn’t at Stonewall when it started. And I didn’t need to look at all the historical accounts that show Marsha Johnson was passed out on heroin, 30 blocks north in Bryant Park, when it happened and arrived at the scene two hours later. My friend Willson Henderson told me all that.

‘Silvia Rivera stunk so bad, we used to call her Skunk Rivera,’ Willson says to me over martinis at a restaurant just up the street from the Stonewall where, on the weekend of June 28, 1969, he was among the 22 people arrested during the uprising. ‘Last year when the mayor’s wife said something about “whitewashing” Stonewall, I’ve never in 50 years heard of such a thing. Stonewall was a white, gay club. Next they’re going to say the Founding Fathers were black trannies in white face,’ he says.

BONUS BONUS: At City Journal, Thom Nickles regards the lefty tag-team of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and district attorney Larry Krasner may bring the City of Brotherly Love to its knees. From the piece:

South Philadelphia no longer registers as a safe space for public monuments. Shortly after the Rizzo statue’s removal, leftists across the U.S. began beheading and removing Christopher Columbus statues, which, during the twentieth century, were erected in communities to celebrate Italian heritage and the immigrant experience. In South Philadelphia, word spread that Kenney, to placate leftists, wanted to remove Columbus from the neighborhood’s Marconi Plaza. In response, residents—many living in multigenerational brick rowhomes built by Italian ancestors—formed an armed militia to guard the monument.

Kenney, a South Philadelphia native and a product of its political machine, jumped into the fray. Noting “groups of armed individuals ‘protecting’ the Columbus statue,” Kenney tweeted, “All vigilantism is inappropriate, and these individuals only bring more danger to themselves and the city.” District Attorney Krasner added: “Prosecutors and police will uphold the law in Philly, consistent with their oaths, against criminal bullies. So save your bats for a ball game. And save your hatchets for chopping wood. We remain the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

This so-called affection, however, was nowhere to be found during days of looting, worsened by what the Philadelphia Inquirer called the police department’s “critical mistakes.” In fact, last week, despite the need for police as Philadelphia’s crime rate spiked, the city council voted to cut the department’s 2021 funding by $14 million. And while the local press vilified the Columbus statue’s protectors, it withheld criticism of vandalism elsewhere—including the defacing of a statue of Matthias Baldwin, founder of the city’s famed Baldwin Locomotive Works and an abolitionist who funded the education of black children. The Baldwin statue’s defacers—historically illiterate—only saw a white man on a pedestal.

Before You Grill That Steak, Apply to Be an NR Institute Regional Fellow in Dallas, San Francisco, or Chicago

Granted, you don’t want to be thinking about the fall, the newly minted summer providing barbecue opportunities and other plentiful welcome distractions, but folks, you have to face facts like this: now is the time to consider, and apply for, National Review Institute’s terrific “Regional Fellows” program.

Let’s restate that in officialese: National Review Institute is seeking applicants for its Fall 2020 Regional Fellowship Programs in Dallas, San Francisco, and Chicago, and we urge you to apply.

“You?” Who is this you who should apply? Glad you asked: The ideal applicant for the program — which helps participants develop a deeper understanding of the foundations of conservative thought — will be a mid-career professional (ages 35-50ish), with an interest, but not professional experience, in policy or journalism. Past fellows have represented diverse industries and professions ranging from oil and gas, finance, real estate, medicine, sporting industries, law enforcement, education, nonprofits, and the arts.

The program takes place over eight moderated dinner discussions. The 2020 class will run from September to November. Moderators include popular NR writers and leading academics at local universities. The rewards of participating are plentiful and will last a lifetime. The deadline to apply is July 15, but we encourage interested conservatives, libertarians, and the curious to apply as soon as possible.

Do that pronto. You’ll find more information about the program here. What if you don’t live in one of the three program cities, but know folks who do and who might be NRI fellow material: Go ahead and please share with them this link. Good. Now I’d like mine well done! And where’s the bug spray?

Podcastapalooza

1. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the current monument-defacement frenzy and the ridiculous media circus around Trump’s Tulsa rally. Catch it here.

2. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, Victor discusses statue-toppling; the self-cannibalizing appetite of cultural revolutions; Juneteenth; President Trump’s new immigration order; chaos; John Bolton’s book; favorable winds that Donald Trump needs to harness to prevail in November; and an attack of his criticism of retired generals. Listen here.

3. On Radio Free California, Will and David discuss state lawmakers ordering the century-old statue of Cristoforo Colombo removed from the capitol, the FBI’s cracking of widespread corruption in LA City Hall, the real John Sutter, what causes homelessness (a brief survey), how Oakland’s mayor sees lynching where others see sports equipment, Vallejo’s real-time experiment in “defunding” police, and the Cal State faculty union’s dumb teaching of American history. Listen here.

4. On The Great Books, John J. Miller is joined by Haley Stewart to discuss Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Listen here.

5. And then on The Bookmonger, JJM is joined by J. Todd Scott to discuss his book, Lost River. Listen here.

6. On Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss the reworking of Splash Mountain, muse over Tina Fey’s takedown of her own shows, and consider Europe’s ban on U.S. travelers thanks to our COVID response. Listen here.

Baseballery

Could it happen? Did it happen? Did a team with 100 or more losses ever beat a team with 100 or more victories? Sure you’ve been wondering that, and so has Your Humble Correspondent, whose curiosity prompted a search of the National Pastime’s records (admittedly limited — we prefer to keep our affairs here pre-expansion and/or pre-division; i.e., up through 1968). The answer: Yes, it has happened, but with the rarity of the hen’s tooth.

The rarity makes sense: There are not all that many teams registering 100-plus seasons for either wins or losses, a threshold that can only be achieved very late in the season. Layer onto that the long, long odds that a team with 100 wins is by coincidence scheduled to play a basement dweller in the season’s final days. Stars must align.

And they have. Thrice!

Yankee Haters will be pleased to learn that the Bronx Bombers were on the losing end of this trio on each occasion. The first time this happened was in 1932, when the Yankees, already achieving 108 wins under their pinstripes, and destined for a brutal four-game World Series beatdown of the Chicago Cubs, found themselves on the last day of the regular season at Fenway Park, where they had just taken two games from the dead-last Red Sox, who were experiencing the franchise’s worst-ever season. They stood at 42–111 as righthander Gordon Rhodes, who had started the season in The Bronx, took the mound for Boston, hoping to keep the Yankee bats quiet. He did, sorta — Rhodes held a 2–1 lead into the top of the fifth, when he was replaced by Ivy Andrews — who had also been traded to the Red Sox earlier in the season from the Yankees. He had his stuff that day and held Babe and Lou and the boys to just 2 runs over the next 5 innings. Andrews took the victory as the Sox put 8 runs up on the scoreboard (thanks in part to five Yankee errors). There would be no 112th Red Sox loss.

And then lightning struck twice at the end of 1954, as the second-place Yankees — having a terrific year, but not as terrific as the AL champ Cleveland Indians (with 111 victories) — were sporting a 102–49 record while awaiting a season-ending three-game series against the visiting 49–102 Athletics. Of note: These would prove to be the final Big League games for the As while calling the City of Brotherly Love home — in the offseason they were sold and relocated to Kansas City, where the Athletics would play for the next 13 seasons before rebooting in Oakland.

Back to 1954: In the first game, played on Friday, September 24, before a measly Yankee Stadium crowd of 2,032, the As’ rookie righthander Arnie Portocarrero held the Yankees to 5 hits as Philadelphia prevailed 5–1. The As would pick up their 103rd loss the next night, courtesy of a 10–2 drubbing, but on the season’s final day — and the last time the Philadelphia Athletics would ever play a game — the 103-loss visitors defeated the 103-win home team by an 8–6 margin. Former Yankee Bill Renna was the last man to bat for the Athletics (flying out in the top of the ninth), rookie pitcher Art Ditmar started, went seven innings, and earned his first career victory, and righthander Marion Fricano threw the As’ last pitch and took the save.

A Dios

A man named Moses once said “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Amen to that.

God Grant Courage to All and Especially to Those Called to Confront the Wicked,

Jack Fowler, whose snare can never capture you but who can be tempted via missives sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Seattle Slewerage

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Dear Joltarians,

It’s a jolly film, Passport To Pimlico, one of those Ealing Studios comedies so well done it might melt an IRA stooge’s hardness toward Things English. The plot (the synopsis is here) concerns the London neighborhood’s locals, who are attempting to set themselves up as rations-dodging citizens of the foreign soil of the ancient Duchy of Burgundy (a take-a-few-years-to-explode Nazi bomb revealed some subterranean chamber containing Ye Olde Burgundian historic documents establishing etc. etc.). Hilarity ensues.

Hilarity ain’t ensuing in the Emerald City. Your Humble Correspondent finds Seattle’s Kingdom of CHAZ/CHOP to be the Mad Max version of the 1949 comedy. Let’s admit that the CHAZ/CHOP citizen-beasts did have a head start: Last year Yours Truly wrote about the documentary Seattle Is Dying, an account of the city’s Fathers/Mothers/Others providing the handbasket for the journey to Hell — rampant vagrancy, streets running with whiz and its cousin, thieves assured that they will not be prosecuted. In other words, lawlessness.

In other words, CHAZ/CHOP. Its glories, and the many other such glories of this city under siege, aided and abetted by the nasty Leftists who run the show, are best seen on the Facebook page dubbed Seattle Looks Like Sh**.

In other other words, Jason Rantz reported from the madness. From the article:

Inside, it’s an overwhelmingly white crowd, but organizers and speakers are represented by people of color. In the daytime, it’s become a tourist attraction. Locals lounge on the artificial turf of the nearby field eating or playing frisbee. Behind the park, a loosely organized group has set up a camp of tents and several small gardens. A mobile medical unit is parked near the community square where activists deliver speeches, and a No Cop Co-op hands out free snacks to anyone who wants them (except, of course, the cops).

On the other hand, CHAZ is also a spot where self-proclaimed Antifa members and anarchists hang out, and clashes are all too common. This past Saturday, a white man started a fight on stage as black women were set to speak about their experiences. The man, who later claimed his cell phone was stolen, was immediately taken to the ground by organizers and CHAZ security. One of the organizers grabbed the mic to ask for “white people who have experience in security” to help because “it really isn’t the job of the black people to handle this situation.” Cops would have made an arrest. Without them, the man was released, only to start a fight five minutes later with a new set of activists.

Once the sun goes down, CHAZ sees more frivolity (e.g. dodge-ball games), but also more skirmishes. Last week, one man was falsely accused of stealing and almost beaten by what appeared to be a CHAZ security member with a bat. And over the weekend, there were tense fights over disagreements on changing the name from CHAZ to the Capitol Hill Organized (or Occupied) Protest (CHOP). (Indeed, protesters still haven’t decided what the “O” stands for in CHOP, or who made the decision to push for the name change.)

When fights break out, nearby activists caution you not to record them for posting online, as it may bring the wrong kind of attention to the commune they’re portraying as peaceful. When I recorded the Saturday afternoon fight, one of the CHAZ security members repeatedly bumped into me to try and prevent me from doing so. He used the same strategy to stop a colleague from another outlet trying to film the fight. And on Twitter, self-proclaimed Antifa groups and other CHAZ activists post the photos and names of people in the crowd so they can be targeted for possible harassment or watched in case they cause trouble.

Folks, as The Thing might say, it’s clobberin’ time. Almost. Right now, it’s time for the Jolt. Enjoy!

Editorials

1. Gorsuch leads the SCOTUS Left to redefine sex in Bostock. We castigate. From the editorial:

To begin with, this is an unhealthy way to make law in a democracy. The law is now read to mean something different in 2020 from what even the most liberal Justices would have said in 1964. Congress for years has been debating bills to amend the statute to cover these topics; the Court just did its work for it, and without any of the compromises or conscience protections that legislators typically debate. We understand what the Court’s liberal justices were up to, but a decent respect for democratic lawmaking should have cautioned Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice Roberts against going down this path.

The decision steals a number of bases without admitting what it is doing. Men must get the same treatment as women, says the Court, but who is a man and who is a woman? In the transgender case, that is itself effectively the question, one better resolved by the people’s representatives if the law must decide it. The Court says that a man cannot be fired for marrying a man if a woman would not be fired for marrying a man — but this is not discrimination on the basis of sex at all, it is discrimination on the basis of behavior. The Court says that it is not (yet) abolishing bathrooms and dress codes that distinguish by sex, but it is difficult to see how its rigid, ahistorical logic of “all must be the same” does not lead that way.

We think Justice Alito had the better of the argument: The law has long understood that sexual orientation and identity are distinct concepts from sex. When the military banned gays and lesbians alike from serving, or the immigration laws banned homosexuals from entering the country, the response was to change the law, not to pretend that the question was one of gender discrimination.

2. And then in its DACA ruling, SCOTUS comes to the aid of illegal immigration and the violation of the law. From the beginning of the editorial:

For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court has allowed liberals to enact one of their longstanding legislative priorities without the consent of Congress or the president. Conservatives could be forgiven for wondering why liberals need win only one election — or none — to have their choices made permanent, while President Trump’s voters could not even accomplish the modest goal of seeing the executive branch stop acting illegally to protect people who broke the law.

At issue this time was President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which let illegal-immigrant “Dreamers” stay in the country and receive federal benefits if they had been brought here as children by their parents. The DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, extensively debated during the 2006 and 2013 immigration fights on Capitol Hill, and voted on in 2007 and 2010. While reasonable minds may differ on the merits of that proposal, nobody disputes that this is an important public-policy question on which Congress has the power to legislate. When Congress did not deliver the answer Obama liked, he used his “pen and phone” to make DACA the law of the land by executive fiat. The Court’s decision rejected Obama’s legal arguments for having that power, yet it told the Trump administration that it needed better reasons to repeal DACA than the fact that it breaks the law.

Justice Thomas got it right in his dissent: In a nation of laws, no federal agency should ever need more reason to pull an unlawful regulation up by the roots. The Court’s flimsy rationales — that the Department of Homeland Security should have addressed whether people relied on DACA and whether there were alternatives to complete repeal of DACA — might be a fair critique on a job evaluation of DHS staffers, but they are no basis for ordering the president to enforce a policy that exceeds the president’s legal power. Meanwhile, thanks to a nationwide injunction, the “resistance” has managed to run out the clock for nearly four years.

3. Google, aided by NBC, bites the First Amendment via The Federalist’s ankles, then says it didn’t. We stand up for free speech. From the editorial:

On Tuesday, NBC News published a story claiming that Google had “banned” the Federalist, a right-wing news and commentary site, from its advertising platform. The Federalist, according to NBC News, was being “demonetized.” Google shortly thereafter asserted that no such thing had happened with the Federalist; Google took issue with some of the content in the Federalist’s comments section and worked with the publication to resolve the issue.

This was all generally related to criticism of the recent protests originating in Minneapolis and Black Lives Matter, an organization of which the Left intends to permit no criticism.

NBC News did what looks like some bad reporting. But NBC News also was at the heart of the story: A complaint from NBC News is what started off Google’s review process to begin with, at least according to a report from NBC News, which, apparently, is not to be trusted here.

The Federalist may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but NBC’s campaign against the publication looks like the new rabid normal in journalism. Adele-Momoko Fraser, the NBC journalist at the center of the story, festooned her tweeting gloating about the Federalist’s fictional demonetization with the Black Lives Matter activist hashtag and described her work as “collaboration” with left-wing activists.

Collaboration, yes. Journalism? No.

4. John Bolton’s White House memoir proves a dispiriting thing. From the editorial:

That said, Bolton is facing legitimate questions about the propriety of taking a sensitive, high-level job in an administration and then immediately turning his experience into a best-selling book when back out of office. He’s also getting dinged for having information that he believed would have made the case for impeaching the president more compelling, yet not sharing it while impeachment proceedings were ongoing (although there would have been complications — including disputes over what material was classified or privileged — and nothing he said would have changed minds in the Senate).

The White House has done everything in its power to delay the release of the book, and the Department of Justice has filed an injunction against its scheduled publication early next week on grounds that it contains classified information and violates various non-disclosure agreements.

The government’s motive is clearly pretextual. The president hates Bolton and the book is damaging, so Trump wants it buried. Squashing the publication on this basis would be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment. Besides, the book has already been reviewed by and reported on by major publications, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal, and sent to bookstores. The cat is out of the bag.

20 Pieces of Sanity to Provide a Life Raft During this Spate of Amok Leftism

1. Zach Evans and John Loftus continue to update the chock-full “Cancel Counter.” You’ll find Numbers 42 and 43 right here:

42. A Catholic chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was made to resign after sending an email to the school’s catholic community on June 7 noting that George Floyd had “not lived a virtuous life.”

“While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused,” archdiocese officials said.

Moloney agreed to step down just two days after sending the email, which noted that Floyd’s killing was unjustified, but questioned whether it was motivated by racism, the Boston Globe reported.

“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism,” Moloney’s email read. “I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is a major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

Suzy Nelson, dean of student life at MIT, characterized Moloney’s comments as “deeply disturbing” in an email to the student body.

“By devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character, Father Moloney’s message failed to acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism,” Nelson wrote.

Moloney said he felt his email was misunderstood in a statement to the Globe.

“I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus,” Moloney said. “The whole thing went down in a way that I wish were otherwise.”

43. San Diego Gas & Electric fired an employee after a stranger accused him of making a “white power” symbol.

Emmanuel Cafferty was photographed driving his SDG&E truck with his hand hanging out the window in what appears to be an “OK” symbol made with the first finger and thumb, a symbol that has been used by white supremacists but does not carry that connotation for most Americans. The stranger who photographed Cafferty uploaded the picture to Twitter, and while the post has since been deleted, SDG&E has fired Cafferty.

“When my supervisor said that I was being accused of doing a white supremacist gesture, that was baffling,” Cafferty told the San Diego NBC affiliate. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over this, but to lose your dream job for playing with your fingers, that’s a hard pill to swallow.”

2. Kevin Williamson checks out the class war, and the squalor it creates, and the hypocrisy it screams. From the essay:

There is no revolution in these United States by the poor and the excluded against the rich and the powerful. Instead, there is a civil war among certain members of the broad affluent class against the adjacent affluent cohorts. There is no hatred in this world quite like the hatred of a $100,000-a-year man for a $200,000-a-year man, except maybe the hatred of a $200,000-a-year man for a $200,002-a-year man.

The class war in our country is business class vs. first class; in automotive terms, it’s E-Class vs. S-Class. Everybody’s comfortable. And that produces some odd outcomes: Nobody’s going to do one goddamned thing about how they conduct business in Philadelphia or Chicago or any other corrupt, Democrat-dominated city, but there are going to be some “new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility,” and we are going to be treated to — joy of joys! — a deep national discussion on whether some Broadway stars don’t have it quite as good as other Broadway stars. The bloody-snouted hyenas have looked up from the kill just long enough to announce the creation of the Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity.

It’s always the same thing: Our newspapers are full of intense interest in Harvard’s admissions standards but have very little to say about New York City’s dropout rate. People can’t help being fascinated with themselves and their peers. If you want to know what is on the minds of the leaders of the American ruling class, it’s no secret. They’ll tell you, if you ask — and if you don’t.

George Floyd is still dead. Jacob Frey is still mayor of Minneapolis. Medaria Arradondo is still the chief of police. More than a third of black students will drop out of high school in Milwaukee. But Forbes has announced a change in its in-house stylebook and will henceforth honor the woke convention of uppercase Black vs. lowercase white. And George Floyd is still dead. Jacob Frey is still mayor of Minneapolis. Medaria Arradondo is still the chief of police.

3. Victor Davis Hanson considers the fate of cultural revolutions, the current one in particular. From the piece:

Mao cracked down on supposed Western decadence such as the wearing of eyeglasses, and he made peasants forge pot iron and intellectuals wear dunce caps.

Moammar Qaddafi’s Green Book cult wiped out violins and forced Libyans to raise chickens in their apartments.

The current Black Lives Matter revolution has “canceled” certain movies, television shows, and cartoons, toppled statues, tried to create new autonomous urban zones, and renamed streets and plazas. Some fanatics shave their heads. Others have shamed authorities into washing the feet of their fellow revolutionaries.

But inevitably cultural revolutions die out when they turn cannibalistic. Once the Red Guard started killing party hacks too close to Mao, it began to wane.

4. More VDH: Why the military-intelligence complex assembling to confront Donald Trump proves troubling to the body politic. From the essay:

The point, then, is that we either ignore these technical regulations that apply to high-ranking military officers, or we do not. But we do not pick and choose, for political purposes, when to apply them — in the manner that the Obama Justice Department began its harassment of incoming national-security adviser Michael Flynn on grounds that he had violated the ossified and never successfully prosecuted Logan Act.

After all, it was not as if Trump without precedent had ordered thousands of troops into the streets to quell violent protestors, the way President George H. W. Bush did, following long-accepted precedents, in 1992. In that year, Bush characterized the racially sensitive riots in Los Angeles, over the beating of Rodney King, as mob-like: “What we saw last night and the night before in Los Angeles is not about civil rights. . . . It’s not a message of protest. It’s been the brutality of a mob, pure and simple.”

5. The Trump administration did not have a COVID-19 testing strategy, right? Wrong. Rich Lowry shares the facts the MSM won’t. From the article:

The Trump administration’s general approach was to catalyze and support the private sector while working with the states to identify the testing capacity available to them and to secure the necessary supplies to meet their goals. The FDA worked to approve new tests and technologies as rapidly as possible, which was enormously important to nearly every aspect of testing. The Defense Production Act was used, but sparingly, and as way to buttress companies rather than take them over.

The emphasis was on improvisation and innovation. “It was very clear that the normal institutions of government under any administration wasn’t going to solve this and could not solve it, particularly in a country as vast as America,” says Giroir.

In early March, the White House called leaders of the diagnostic manufacturers and the commercial labs to talk about scaling up. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus-response coordinator, describes it as “really a call to action by the president and vice president to say very clearly, ‘We need enhanced and greater diagnostic laboratory capacity. You are the private sector that have the technical ability to do this.’”

It coincided, weeks later, with the first big bump in testing.

Scott Whitaker, the CEO of the medical-technology association AdvaMed, explains the progression, from the first lift in numbers in March to the plateau in April to the recent sharp increase: “You get a handful of companies that were quick to the gate, and you started running all those tests on the machines that they had available with the labs. The next round comes in and scales up even more dramatically on the high-throughput machines,” machines capable of running a lot of tests quickly.

6. Sam Ashworth-Hayes says the pandemic has made the case for deregulation. From the piece:

In normal times, regulations dissuade innovation, hold back production, and raise prices. The coronavirus pandemic handed the U.S. a stark reminder that these costs are not merely financial.

And yet these costs are often invisible to us. They’re things that don’t happen rather than things that do, and an absence of change is hard to notice. If we could witness the destruction of wealth, then we would have a far sharper sense of the burden of red tape. As it is, the counterfactual of cheaper food or better testing is generally something of which only insiders are aware.

A silver lining of the coronavirus outbreak is that it is stress-testing government systems across the board. The need for industries to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances highlights the difficulties added by red tape. And with the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow estimate showing an annualized drop in GDP of 48.4 percent (or about 15 percent for those of us who use sensible numbers), any competent regulator would be looking to cushion the blow to businesses and workers.

The best way of doing that is to scrap the regulations.

7. Andy McCarthy predicts that Lindsey Graham’s Judiciary Committee hearings will produce little more than collusion theater. From the analysis:

Given that Graham has no power to send any good candidates to jail, and the real investigative work either has already been done by the Justice Department’s inspector general, or is in the process of being done by prosecutor John Durham, one can’t help but ask: What is the objective of this scattershot production?

This is a pressing question now that Graham, on a party-line vote of his committee, has been authorized to carpet-bomb Obama-world with subpoenas. Dozens of them: the Trump–Russia Who’s Who, to be hauled in for what we’re supposed to believe will be hours of grueling testimony. Sure, it may take Senate Republicans a year or four to get around to historic Democratic abuses of the government’s awesome law-enforcement and foreign-intelligence apparatus for political purposes, but man oh man, do they mean business now . . . even though, um, there are only 50 business days left in the Senate’s calendar before Election Day, the Senate has lots of other pending business, and the pendency of Durham’s probe renders the notion of significant congressional testimony a pipe dream.

Welcome to Senate Collusion Theater — Season II: “The Investigation of the Investigators.”

8. More Andy: In Atlanta, he finds prosecutorial cave-in to the mob. From the analysis:

No one, including the police on the scene that night, wished death on Brooks. In fact, bodycam footage shows Rolfe performing CPR on the wounded Brooks, saying, “Mr. Brooks, keep breathing, keep breathing for me.”

But Brooks is very far from the Black Lives Matter media’s depiction of a devoted husband and friendly father of four who was murdered by racist cops after he had just a tad too much to drink.

Brooks was passed out drunk in the car he had been driving while at a Wendy’s drive-thru. This was a violation of his probation conditions. Yeah, he was on probation. As recounted by Britain’s Daily Mail (it is hard to get such information from American media sources), Brooks had been convicted in 2014 for felonies committed against his family: multiple battery charges, false imprisonment, and cruelty to children. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. But, as often happens in the criminal-justice system you’re supposed to see as institutionally racist and just spoiling to let black men rot in cages, the seven-year sentence wasn’t really a seven-year sentence. He served just one year and was released on probation.

As frequently happens with probationers, Brooks repeatedly violated the terms of his release. You’re supposed to look the other way on that, too. We’re supposed to prefer alternatives to prison for violent criminals; then, when the criminals habitually flout the conditions under which they are spared incarceration, we’re supposed to ignore that, too, since … well, we’d otherwise have to admit that criminals belong in prison — and that’s such Cro-Magnon thinking.

Brooks actually was sent back to prison after his first probation violation, but not for the remainder of the seven-year term. Again, the system is geared to minimize, not maximize, the incarceration of convicts. So Brooks was out in just twelve months. He then violated probation yet again, last year. This time, the system deemed the infraction minor (leaving the state without alerting his probation officer), so the violation was simply dismissed as if it never happened.

9. Dan McLaughlin lays into the Bostock ruling. From the commentary:

The Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County decision today held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it “unlawful . . . to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s . . . sex,” applies to discrimination based not only on sex but also on sexual orientation and transgender status. The logic of Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, however, breaks down completely in the transgender case, in a way that is likely to lead to unanticipated consequences. The Court should have had the decency to admit what it was doing.

Justice Gorsuch’s reasoning goes back, over and over, to the same logical syllogism: If a man and a woman do the same thing and only one of them would get fired for it, that’s discrimination on the basis of sex. So, for example, if a woman and a man both bring a male spouse to the office Christmas party, and only the man gets fired, that’s sex discrimination.

10. Those rushing to reform cops should, say John Yoo and Horace Cooper, maybe first consider reforming America’s cities. From the essay:

None of these reforms truly addresses the Floyd killing, and many of the proposals circulated are repackaged and stale ideas from well before. Progressives reveal their actual agenda with their proposals to beef up spending on existing social programs. “Biden supports the urgent need for reform — including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing,” a campaign spokesman said.

This spend-first, assess-later approach will only repeat the mistakes in social policy from the time of the Great Society. According to some estimates, the federal government has poured anywhere from $15 trillion to $22 trillion into these welfare programs. Meanwhile, problems in the cities have not improved or have even gotten worse. Our urban K–12 public schools are a disgrace, homelessness runs rampant, and a permanent underclass has developed that cannot escape the inner cities. Academic studies show that while the Great Society programs have transferred trillions of dollars of income to alleviate poverty, they may have also actually harmed communities by creating incentives against family formation, work, and personal responsibility.

Liberals at the state and local levels are pursuing changes that will do even worse than those of the Great Society. Minneapolis, home to the Floyd killing and some of the worst riots, has voted to eliminate its own police department. “Defund the Police” has become a rallying cry at protests in many of the nation’s largest cities where, it must be said, liberals have enjoyed political dominance for a half century. Several left-wing mayors and city councils, such as in Los Angeles and San Francisco, have voted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from police budgets to social programs.

11. The blithering author of this epistle noted a 2016 study that clarifies BLM as more of Marx and Engels than civil-rights giants. From the post:

Key to BLM’s strategy is suppressing free speech and dissent, by means of force and intimidation if necessary. And so it has come to pass that if you stand on the sidewalk to oppose a protest, you will get a concrete shake bounced off your head, (the assailant will not be charged) and a tweet of repute will result in a pink slip. The Orwellian media — a force multiplier for BLM’s messaging — seems not to notice the suppression of free-speech rights. Heck, they don’t see riots and fires before their cameras. From the report (again, keep in mind it was written in 2016):

The Black Lives Matter movement is wholly against dissent and freedom of speech and their success rests upon the silencing of dissent, but they are savvy enough to accomplish this through other means than solely legal. First, Black Lives Matter has created an atmosphere where forces more emotionally compelling than “truth-seeking” encourage fealty through the threatened stigma of being an outsider, and discourage diversity of opinion. Through our research, we found that both the Activists and the Allies were united by the fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community and clung to the community they were provided by publicly supporting Black Lives Matter. 

Black Lives Matter frequently uses shows of force – either by seeking them from university administrators or through aggressive demonstrations – to silence dissent, as well. Activists recounted to us that they found it appropriate to ask administrators to step in and stop perceived “hate speech,” although they considered themselves to be supporters of free speech. Finally, by portraying criticism of their cause as an attempt to stifle their speech, they in effect demand freedom from criticism.

Somewhere through the flames, Saul Alinsky is smiling.

12. David Harsanyi covers how the Left is fully supportive of science — as long as it is ideologically correct. From the piece:

Then came the marches. Science-based absolutism was quickly shelved. Today, liberals are mobilizing to preemptively dismiss the notion that Black Lives Matters protests could possibly trigger a spike in cases. New York mayor Bill De Blasio, who’s ineptly presided over the epicenter of the disease, is instructing city contact tracers not to ask infected New Yorkers if they attended marches or rallies.

How long have we been assured that testing and contact tracing were the keys to controlling the spread of the virus? New York City tracers will reportedly ask citizens about “close contacts” — which is defined as standing within six feet of another person for at least ten minutes — but not if a person attended a Black Lives Matters protest where, need it be said, tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens were marching shoulder to shoulder, chanting for more than ten minutes — and often without any mask.

13. Jim Geraghty gives John Bolton what-fer. From the piece:

Bolton was approaching 70 years old when he took the job as Trump’s national-security adviser. Bolton didn’t need to stay on good terms with anyone for future career prospects.

Four things can be simultaneously true:

One: The anecdotes from Bolton, describing Trump as erratic, uninterested in details, easily flattered by foreign leaders, and far too credulous when listening to their pledges and explanations, are disturbing. Of course, the Trump that Bolton describes is not all that different from what we have seen and heard from him in public. The president has colossal confidence in his own persuasiveness and ability to make a deal, and once negotiations start, Trump always wants to believe that any agreement reached represents a grand step in the right direction.

Two: Bolton’s steadfast refusal or reluctance to testify during the impeachment hearing does not reflect well on him. Bolton apparently believes that what the president says behind closed doors, when the cameras aren’t watching, in negotiations with foreign leaders is vital and shocking information of utmost importance to the future of the country that the American people need to know . . . after they’ve paid $32.50 hardcover.

Three: Bolton’s refusal to testify probably had little or no impact on the outcome of the trial in the Senate. People who believe his testimony would have convinced 19 Republican senators to remove Donald Trump from the presidency are fooling themselves.

Four: A White House national-security adviser writing a denunciatory tell-all book and releasing it the summer before a presidential election, as payback for policy and personal disagreements, sets a terrible precedent for future presidents. Whether or not you think Donald Trump deserves loyalty from his staff, the President of the United States deserves to have his conversations within the White House about policy and decisions — and his conversations and negotiations with foreign leaders! — not blasted out for the whole world to evaluate.

14. Armond White dethrones The King of Staten Island. From the review:

Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island, a semi-biopic starring Saturday Night Live comedian and celebrity screw-up Pete Davidson, never gets its act together. As in all Apatow products, from TV’s Freaks and Geeks to the movies Knocked Up and Trainwreck, the main character’s underlying social and psychological issues are avoided. Apatow’s Gen X-, Y-, and Z-indulgent comedy specializes in a particular kind of identity politics — trash narcissism.

Pale, skinny, pop-eyed Davidson, flaunting his real-life Illustrated Man body tattoos, meanders through the arrested-adolescent frustrations of his alter-ego Scott Carlin, a 24-year-old from Staten Island’s working-class enclave who still lives with his widowed mother (Marisa Tomei). He pouts, “I need that safety net!” but talks about opening a tattoo parlor/restaurant — an idea that recalls Adam Sandler’s zaniness minus the whimsy. He mostly smokes pot with his ne’er-do-well friends who play video games and idly plan to rob a pharmacy. Scott/Davidson’s lifestyle, scoffing at other people’s ambition, resenting his sister’s college choice and his mother’s attempt at middle-aged dating, which causes Oedipal angst, isn’t a new form of rebellion but a new form of privilege.

15. Yuck Yucky: Aaron Zubia catches Hannah Gadsby’s comedy and finds that woke doesn’t invoke knee-slapping. From the review:

Portraying comedy as a tool of the oppressor, Gadsby turned the tables on comedy itself, or rather, her audience. In Nanette, which was supposed to be her parting shot before retiring from comedy, she exacted vengeance on her audience by lecturing them on how they, by laughing, have participated in the systemic injustice of a comedy-club-industrial-complex designed to crush the self-esteem of historically marginalized groups. Isn’t that funny?

Perhaps not. But laughter is not the point of Gadsby’s performance. Her whole schtick, rather, is highly theoretical. And that is the problem. Gadsby often incorporates art into her routine, and an art analogy might be the best way to describe her approach to comedy.

16. Michael Auslin whips out the crystal ball and sees a terrible thing: the 2025 Sino-American War. From the piece:

The Littoral War began with a series of accidental encounters in the skies and waters near Scarborough Shoal, in the South China Sea. Beijing had effectively taken control of the shoal, long a point of contention between China and the Philippines, in 2012. After Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who had steadily moved Manila toward China during the late 2010s, was impeached and removed from office, the Philippines’ new president steadily moved to reassert Manila’s claim to the shoal, and by the summer of 2025 sent coastal-patrol boats into waters near the contested territory. When armed People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) vessels pushed out the Philippine forces in early July, Manila appealed to Washington under its security treaty for assistance.

Prior Philippine requests for U.S. help in dealing with China had been largely shunted aside by Washington, even during the Trump administration. However, new U.S. president Gavin Newsom, who had been dogged during the 2024 campaign by allegations that Chinese cyber operations had benefited his candidacy, saw the Philippine request as an opportunity to show his willingness to take a hard line against Beijing. Newsom increased U.S. Air Force flights over the contested territory, using air bases made available by Manila, and sent the carrier USS Gerald Ford, along with escort vessels, on a short transit. On two occasions in late July, U.S. and Chinese ships came close to running into each other due to aggressive maneuvering by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and a U.S. Navy FA-18 operating from the Gerald Ford was forced to take emergency evasive action to avoid colliding with a PLANAF J-15. Despite the increasing tensions, the U.S. Navy ships returned to Japan at the beginning of August, yet no diplomatic attempts were made to alter the trajectory of events. The fact that both sides knew some type of armed encounter was increasingly possible, if not probable, yet seemed to ignore the risk, led pundits to call the events surrounding the clash an example of a “gray rhino,” unlike the complete surprise represented by a “black swan” occurrence. Ironically, CCP general secretary Xi Jinping himself had warned about the dangers of “gray rhinos” back in 2018 and 2019.

17. More China Martial: Daniel Tenreiro analyzes the deadly flare-up on the Sino-Indian border. From the piece:

On May 5, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in fisticuffs and stone-throwing on the banks of Pangong Lake, and on May 12 a similar clash broke out in the Naku La region near Tibet. In the subsequent days, the PLA mobilized at least 5,000 troops to the region. According to Ajai Shukla, a former Indian colonel, the PLA also deployed artillery guns in six locations in Ladakh.

The mobilization of artillery violates protocols that effectively demilitarized the border in 1993. Two subsequent agreements that solidified those protocols have helped limit casualties in the long-simmering conflict. While the last death in the region occurred in 1975, confrontations have periodically flared up since Xi Jinping rose to power in China eight years ago. Most recently, in 2017, China’s construction of a road through Doklam, near Bhutan, set off two months of brinkmanship, ending with a Chinese retreat and heightened caution on both sides. Before that, the Chinese twice encroached on Indian territory in Ladakh, in 2013 and 2014.

Monday night’s fatalities mark a turning point in the conflict, calling into question the ability of military protocols to prevent hostilities. While the skirmish did not include the use of weapons, the recent military buildup has positioned both sides to escalate the situation rapidly. Jaishankar says that Chinese and Indian leaders frequently point out that they have “found a way to be responsible and make this a peaceful, if unsettled, border.” But that uneasy status quo may no longer be sustainable.

18. Home Depot founder Ken Langone says free enterprise was not a victim of Covid-19. From the article:

When it came time to attack the virus itself, businesses around the country showed the same decency and ingenuity, quickly repurposing to meet demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns for frontline medical workers. Apparel company Brooks Brothers and MLB uniform tailor Fanatics switched their stitch to make masks. So did hockey company Bauer and retail stores David’s Bridal and Jo-Ann Stores. A NASCAR team, North Carolina-based Stewart-Haas Racing, helped its neighbors by putting idle racing transports back on track, delivering 2 million medical masks to Novant Health facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Whiskey and vodka distilleries, especially small, locally owned ones, switched to making bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Cutting-edge manufacturers used 3-D printers to make PPE. Charlottesville-based women’s shoemaker OESH made a mask that had soft edges, making its seal as strong if not better than what would be provided by N95-rated masks. There wasn’t time for FDA approval (which is a question we should take up later), but the skillful engineering made the mask a success.

One Delaware company, ILC Dover, worked with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to shorten the regulatory review process from one month to a week. That way the company could make its new Powered Air Purifying Respirator hood, which provides 100 times the protection of an N95 mask, available to health-care workers attending to patients with COVID-19.

National big-box stores, corner-store pharmacy chains, and delivery services really stepped up in hiring temporary workers. Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, Costco, 7-Eleven, Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Instacart, FedEx, UPS, and grocery chains around the country all upped their hiring to meet demand and provide opportunities to the recently unemployed.

19. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn says police reformers could learn a thing or two from Russell Kirk. From the piece:

Radical reform, whether through the abolition of police departments or through their dramatic attenuation, may be said to be the “devil we don’t know.” How, after all, are we even to imagine a society in which no one may be there to answer the call when a theft, rape, or murder is occurring? We would be right to prefer our current devil to this unknown one. But take even the case of budget cuts, which are somewhat less radical: Assuming that the funds drawn away from police departments and given to minority communities result in long-term crime reductions, we are still left with an interim period of many years during which the police will be less able to do their job. Certainly, this will be the case whenever we speak of fully dissolved crime units or nine-figure budget cuts. This is another unknown devil: an unstable period of power vacuums that might well lead to unforeseen social disorders.

Rather, those changes for which we should strive are the prudent, measured ones: The restriction of the power of bad-apple-shielding police unions, the rigorous teaching of deescalation techniques, and the administration of thorough psychology tests to all aspiring officers, for example. Dallas, Seattle, Baltimore, New York, and Las Vegas, for instance, have pioneered deescalation training and have subsequently enjoyed fewer civilian complaints. There is no contradiction between the desire for such reforms and the adherence to conservatism, as Kirk teaches. “By proper attention to prudent reform,” he writes, “we may preserve and improve [our] tolerable order.” Nevertheless, Kirk exhorts us not to abandon the greater principles: “If the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are forgotten, then the anarchic impulses in man break loose: ‘the ceremony of innocence is drowned.’” It is all well and good to reform policing. But to abandon the institution of policing, to suppose that relying on a man or woman to answer the call when danger lurks is permanently outdated — or that, through proper social engineering, it will become outdated — is to embrace anarchy.

20. Jimmy Quinn reports that the UN Human Rights Council is a thugs’ club pushing America hate. From the piece:

In the wake of Floyd’s death and the upheaval that has followed, an “urgent debate” was requested last week in a letter to the council written by Burkina Faso’s U.N. delegation on behalf of 54 African countries. Their intention was to examine “racially inspired human rights violations, police brutality against people of African descent and the violence against the peaceful protests that call for these injustices to stop.” The request for a debate was also backed by more than 600 non-governmental organizations and Floyd’s family. And so, it began yesterday and ended Thursday morning. The council will vote on a resolution Friday or Monday.

The United States was notably absent, having quit the council in 2018. The Trump administration withdrew after an unfruitful attempt to reform the body’s handling of Israel and its conciliatory stance toward a number of human rights–violating countries. Some opponents of that move claimed vindication this week, arguing that the vacuum left by the withdrawal has enabled authoritarian regimes, leaving America with less sway on the international human-rights body. “This situation is the end result of a series of catastrophic miscalculations of the Trump administration in its relations with the U.N.,” Marc Limon, a former diplomat, told the New York Times.

He and other experts might say that the way this week’s debate unfolded supports their view. The act of convening an urgent debate on the United States’ human-rights record makes it only the third such country at the center of one — a session on Israel’s raid on a Gaza flotilla in 2010 and three concerning the Syrian civil war round out the list. Perhaps this could have been avoided with American membership on the council. On the contrary, though, this week reprises significant questions about the council’s ability to effectively and fairly promote universal human rights.

The July 6 Issue of Your Favorite Magazine Is Flapping on the Flagpole, Awaiting Your Salutage

As is our quaint custom, here are four recommendations of excellence, chosen from the cover-to-cover excellence that greets you in the new issue of National Review.

1. Jerry Hendrix finds U.S. military systems and carriers are in great need of a strategic overhaul. From the essay:

According to the most recent National Defense Strategy, the U.S. military exists to “provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation. Should deterrence fail, the Joint Force is prepared to win.” To implement this strategy, the Joint Force needs to be able to strike quickly at specific enemy military, economic, and even political centers of gravity in increasingly contested environments. Today’s military, using air-based and space-based surveillance assets, has ever-increasing abilities to identify targets, but dwindling capacities to strike them. To remedy this situation, the Navy should invest in new air wings—much as it did in the years immediately following World War II, when it effectively replaced its entire naval-aviation inventory—that can operate effectively from outside the range of a prospective adversary’s “anti-access/area denial” networks to credibly put key targets at risk.

Such an air wing would necessarily retain some legacy components. It would make sense, for example, for each wing to have combat-search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopters; a squadron of four E-2D Hawkeyes to provide airborne surveillance and command-and-control in carrier-controlled airspace; and a squadron of six EA-18G Growlers to provide jamming and spectrum control around the carrier and its strike group. The new air wing might also have one squadron of ten F-35Cs to perform combat air-patrol missions as well as airborne-coordination roles. Only one squadron should be necessary, since the carrier would be positioned far out to sea, beyond the immediate range of enemy short-range fighters and escorted by cruisers and destroyers capable of providing air and missile defense. Shifting the carrier’s area of operations farther from the enemy’s “anti-access/area denial” forces would make it possible to reverse the modern naval bias towards defensive “anti” missions within the carrier strike group (anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine) and move back towards offensive operations, including power-projection ashore.

2. Kyle Smith is in North Carolina and sees an amazing display of white guilt. From the article:

Amidst nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, a black man and woman are seated on a park bench while a white woman wearing a sweatshirt that reads “LOVE” takes to her megaphone. “We repent on behalf of, uh, Caucasian people,” she says. A small crowd of white people comes to kneel before the two seated black folks, who are co-pastors of a local church. Some of the kneelers wash the feet of the black people. A white man with an English accent solemnly intones, “It’s our honor to stand here on behalf of all white people, . . . repenting, Lord, for our aggression, Lord, repenting for our pride, for thinking that we are better, that we are above.” Police officers join the ritual. Several people start audibly weeping, or keening, as the speaker continues. Roughly a dozen people join in the gesture and kneel before the black couple. “We have put our necks, put our hands, our knees, upon the necks of our African-American brothers and sisters, people of color, indigenous people,” says the English man. “Lord, where we as a church, a white church, have used you as a persecution towards black people, Lord, as we’ve burnt crosses, as we’ve burnt churches, . . . we’ve used it as a weapon against people of color.”

It’s been coming for some time, this transmutation of white guilt into a cult, a religion that borrows from and intersects with Christianity but substitutes its own liturgy. In the Nineties, liberal white Hollywood filmmakers began to nourish a fantasy that black people were imbued with magical powers, and they built stories around angelic or Christlike black redeemers who stood apart from and above this fallen race we call humanity. Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance, Cuba Gooding Jr.in What Dreams May Come, and Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile served as spiritual and/or actual caddies to troubled white men, guiding them toward salvation.

Today those “magical negro” films, as Spike Lee dubbed them, get ridiculed by the critical intelligentsia, but the same impulse is visible in different form. White people continue to have difficulty perceiving blacks as individual human beings, instead conferring on blackness a holy quality. Fallen white people can get closer to the divine by showing due deference in any way they can. Books that promise to assist white people with the project of metaphorically scourging themselves—White Fragility, How to Be an Antiracist—bounded up the best-seller lists. Black Americans report, with more annoyance than appreciation, that white friends are calling them nervously, seeking absolution.

3. Ramesh Ponnuru and Michael Strain find the China tariffs have been an economic flop. From the essay:

The emerging consensus holds that opening U.S. markets to China was part of a naïve policy of engagement. Elites in both parties, on this view, held the utopian expectation that liberalized trade with China would enrich us and them while also making them more responsible, peaceful, and democratic. But the Chinese government refused to follow the script. It continued to act as a predatory and mercantilist power, notably by refusing to protect American intellectual property and by practically requiring American firms to transfer their technology to Chinese ones to do business in the country. It acted aggressively in the South China Sea, launched a genocidal campaign against Uighurs, curtailed the liberty of Hong Kong, and threatened Taiwan’s de facto independence. Instead of exporting our values to them, we started importing their values: The National Basketball Association responded to protests in Hong Kong by closing ranks against the protesters.

What we got from trade with China—again, on the view of the regnant school of critics of that trade—was, at best, short-term efficiency gains that came at the expense of our society’s cohesion and resilience. A much-discussed recent essay goes further than that: “For the benefit of a few billionaires, Western societies have immiserated their voter base, dramatically weakened themselves, and helped shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands of their own people.” Learning during the pandemic that we are now dependent on China for everything from medicines to masks has added humiliation to our losses.

It follows that we should be much more willing to use tariffs and government subsidies to bring the manufacture of critical goods home. Beyond that suggestion, though, the new consensus gets fuzzier about what practical steps should be taken. Additional tariffs to “make China pay” for the coronavirus have been mentioned. And President Trump’s preference for bilateral negotiations over global trade deals is seen in some quarters as a template for the future of trade policy. Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has urged a U.S. withdrawal from the World Trade Organization to pursue this new path. Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s advisers on trade, told CNBC viewers in May, “If we don’t learn from this crisis that the only way this great country is going to prosper is by making the stuff we need as much as possible, then we will have learned nothing and we will sink into the abyss.” The president himself has mooted another option: “We could cut off the whole relationship” and thus eliminate our $500 billion trade deficit with China.

4. Graham Hillard checks out the deluge of corporate anti-racist pronunciamentos and finds that they’re truly about . . . profits. From the article:

In fact, corporate race missives are no more harbingers of conservative defeat than corporate ethics codes are heralds of a forthcoming moral paradise. To read them is to observe not the fruit of leftist persuasion but the cold-eyed realism required of actors in a market economy. To the extent that such statements mean anything at all, they merely affirm a truth that conservatives needn’t fear and ought rightly to celebrate. In a free society—in a nation that is capitalist not only in its laws but down to its marrow—profit-seeking organizations will do whatever is necessary to maximize their profit.

For most of the firms attempting to weather recent storms, whatever is necessary has been modest indeed, a state of affairs that should surprise no one given how dependent the Left has become on support from the cultural heights. At corporations such as Salesforce and Twilio, for example, assuaging the revolution has thus far required nothing more than an anodyne tweet featuring the message “We stand with the Black community.” (Actual meaning: “Please leave us out of your news cycle.”) At YouTube and Disney, rhetorical support has been accompanied by social-justice donations, but the sums in question have amounted to less than an hour’s revenue. (The companies have pledged $1 million and $5 million, respectively.) While Netflix’s tweeted assertion that “to be silent is to be complicit” is close to the despicable rallying cry du jour, even the corporate home of the Obamas can’t bring itself to declare that “silence is violence.” And these are the signifiers that American businesses are securely in the pocket of the activist Left?

The Mahoney Special

Why? Because the trenchant Daniel J. Mahoney always offers conservative brilliance, that’s why, and that’s what you’re looking for in these here parts, right? Right! Now at Law & Liberty’s “Law Talk” podcast, host Richard Reinsch chats with Dan about the sober liberalism you can believe in during a time of widespread unrest, anger, and sadness. Do listen here.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling, and what’s going on as states begin to reopen. Hear here.

2. And then, on a special episode of The Editors, Rich interviews the president of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips. Listen right here.

3. On the new episode of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the emerging, partisan Military-Intelligence Complex; statue-toppling and base-renaming; the ironies and paradoxes of revolutions; Senator Graham’s planned Judiciary hearings on Flynn and collusion; BLM being a Marxist front; media madness; and the Seattle CHAZ scene. Hear ye here, ye.

4. On the new episode of The Great Books, John J. Miller is joined by Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College to discuss Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. Wizen up right here.

5. Then JJM takes to The Bookmonger, where he is joined by Daniel Halper to discuss his and Alana Goodman’s book, A Convenient Death. Strap on the ear buds and listen here.

6. I Would Like to Buy a Vowel: On Political Beats, radio guru and Townhall columnist Mark Davis talks Lynyrd Skynyrd with Big Bad Scot Betram and The One and Only Jeff Blehar. Get in the grove here.

7. On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will find that California Democrats are suddenly BFFs of states’ rights, and then discuss politicized police reform and Golden State pension-investing madness. Listen, learn, and prosper, right here.

8. On the new episode of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss the Downton Abbey movie and propose that National Review take on a society columnist. Listen here.

9. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the attempts to stop the publication of John Bolton’s book, what’s going on in Atlanta, and two recent Supreme Court cases. Hear here.

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple expounds on moral thuggery. From the essay:

In London, there have been large demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death, mostly but not entirely peaceful. These were allegedly to protest against racism, but in reality, they reinforced and propagated an obsessive interpretation of the world through the lens of race and racial discrimination. As a strange illustration of one of the three supposed laws of dialectical materialism—the interpenetration of opposites—racists and modern anti-racists are united by the importance they ascribe to race, though they are divided by their explanation of why race should be so important. The racists believe that it’s because of biology and the anti-racists believe it’s because of socially-sanctioned racism.

They are united too in their totalitarian (or at least bullying) tendencies, though in this respect the modern anti-racists are now more dangerous, not because they are worse people than the racists, but because racism as a doctrine is mostly, if not entirely, discredited. Racism is truly opposed not by anti-racists, but by non-racists, that is, people who do not judge or behave towards others according to their race.

2. At The Pipeline, John O’Sullivan investigates when science kisses the can of politics. From the piece:

And in the last seven days, this argument—that Black Lives Matter protests are uniquely aimed at improving public health, damaged as it is by racism—has spread to Britain where large crowds turned out for BLM rallies accommodated by the police who were otherwise fining people for meeting in “crowds” of more than six—and to partisan politics in the U.S. where public health professionals were critical of the GOP for pushing ahead with plans for a Republican Convention while tamely hoping that BLM protesters will wear marks.

The public reaction to these medical self-contradictions has been stronger in Britain than in America, partly because the lockdown regulations have been more stringent and more toughly enforced (with police handing out thousands of fines) than in the U.S. Allowing some people to protest and (not incidentally) to indulge in violent rioting in a self-righteous frame of mind, but fining others for attending a parent’s funeral has created a lot of free-floating anger. And one side-effect is a rise in skepticism towards other claims of both medical scientists and their brethren in other disciplines.

Take the Covid-19 claims first.

Britain’s media and opposition have been strongly critical of the handling of the Covid-19 crisis by the Boris Johnson government, suggesting that Ministers had ignored the advice of its SAGE committee of scientists and demanding that the minutes of SAGE now be published. Well, the minutes have now been published, and they show that Ministers followed the advice of SAGE more or less to the letter. If mistakes were made, they were scientists’ mistakes more than ministerial ones (though Ministers have to take responsibility for them on the proper constitutional grounds that “advisors advise, ministers decide.”) Well and good.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Daniel Pipes whips out the enigma machine in order to decipher the utterances of Joe Biden. From the article:

There is a brand-new game: decipher the rhetoric of Joe Biden, former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

American politics has never had a top politician who (apparently suffering from dementia) makes such wandering, incoherent, garbled comments. The game he has inspired has two simple rules: (1) prune the gibberish and (2) add what is needed to make sense.

Here is an example on an important topic, taken from a long interview with New York Times editors on December 16, 2019. Speaking about Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Biden said:

“He has to pay a price for whether or not we’re going to continue to sell certain weapons to him. In fact, if he has the air defense system that they’re flying F-15s through to see how they can try to figure out how to do it.”

Come again? Sure, read a second and even a third time. I’ll wait. A bit murky, no? But with the magic of the above two rules, it does make sense. I dropped the fluff and added the implicit bits (in square brackets), resulting in an intelligible new version:

He has to pay a price for [acquiring Russia’s S-400 missile system and we must decide] whether or not we’re going to continue to sell certain weapons[, in particular, our most advanced F-35 aircraft,] to him. In fact, if he has the [S-400] air defense system that [the Turks are] flying F-15s to [test how well it works, we must not sell F-35s to Turkey].

Condensed: Erdoğan purchased the S-400, so we must not sell him F-35s.

4. Down Under, at Quadrant, Peter Smith calls out the fear of institutions to challenge the Left. From the commentary.

Those calling the shots in Black Lives Matter (BLM), in Antifa, in GetUp! in MoveOn and in other Marxist organisations, and also numbers of academics, commentators and journalists sympathetic to their cause, are far from silent or dumb. They know the facts and are not morons. But like their authoritarian Islamist cousins they practice taqiyya. Lying is their second nature and they are not shy about it because they are not called out.

No ordinary person of any decency or sense would buy their bill of goods so they hide its horror behind mindless slogans. And that seems to work among many of those who should be leading the counter charge. It is easy to find so-called conservatives, like Soames, going along with the fiction that protecting black lives is a laudable part of the BLM agenda. In truth, BLM doesn’t give a fig about black lives or anybody’s lives. They are interested in power.

5. At The College Fix, Troy Sargent reports on Harvard professor Roland Fryers’ study, which finds that defunding the police will result in many black violent-crime deaths. From the article:

“Pattern-or-Practice” investigations are used by federal and state governments to mitigate unconstitutional police activity including, but not limited to, excessive force and racial bias.

According to the Harvard scholars’ working paper on the impact of these investigations into police activity on homicide and crime rates, published in early June, the investigations resulted in “almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.”

This spike in the crime rate occurred over the course of two years in the five cities where those deaths and viral incidents occurred: Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

While the underlying cause of this dramatic spike is unknown, Fryer and Devi hypothesize that it is caused by a substantial decrease in proactive police activity.

6. At City Journal, Paul Starobin says that America must save the marketplace of ideas. From the essay:

More voices in the working press—voices outside the tenured precincts of academia, voices without bestselling books to their names, especially younger voices—need to join this resistance. It is the younger ones who have been reared on the notion that the marketplace of ideas is a “myth,” a “confused argument that promises the triumph of good ideas while delivering ordinary and unproductive provocation,” as suggested by Aaron Hanlon, an assistant professor of English at Colby College, in a 2017 article for The New Republic.

Sharp questioning might lead to strained relations in the workplace. A challenge to a claim like the one put forward by some Times staffers—that publishing Cotton’s op-ed put black staff “in danger”—would require a thick skin on the part of the dissident. Nevertheless, any claim merits scrutiny. Of course, news organizations must take seriously workplace-safety concerns posed by journalists responsible for gathering the news in dangerous situations, whether on the streets of Minneapolis or in the mountains of Afghanistan. But should such concerns guide what appears on opinion pages? To say yes is to jeopardize the autonomy of the opinion section—to collapse the wall that separates newsrooms from opinion departments.

BONUS: At The Imaginative Conservative, Andrew Garnett makes the case for being right to be wrong. From the essay:

I began teaching in the spring semester of 2017. It was a strange time and I expected our campus climate to be increasingly divided as a result of the election in 2016. What I found in my philosophy courses was not so much division as something else. I would throw questions that were deliberately controversial to the class in order to spur debate, dialogue, and through them the activity of the mind: the use of reason. My questions would at best elicit a hand from a student or two and some a talking-point based answer or other. When challenged as to why they held such a position, more often than not, the reasoning or support would evaporate. It was feelings that were often cited. No student ever took a risk or offered anything out of the ordinary.

Having not been out of school for very long, I could not lie down and simply accept that this was the way college students acted: the “new normal,” if you will. I knew that something had changed. Something was broken. I have spent some time reflecting on what has caused this change and on the effects that the silence that it produces has had on our young people. The most obvious is that our culture has stifled these students’ spirit, their drive for scholarship, for excellence, for responding to the deep questions. It has coaxed their minds into a quiet coma: It has made them ready repeaters of the popular opinions of the masses. What is true, they believe, is what I am told and what is convenient. What is false is what challenges what I am told: that which may cause me to change or grow. The students are made into utilitarians. They reject change and growth. They are usually painful.

What we need to reclaim is our students’ drive, their spirit, their thirst for knowledge—real knowledge—and to give them the tools with which to engage their awesome gift of reason.

BONUS BONUS: At Reason, Robby Soave says 1619 holds nothing when compared to 1793, because the need for “safety” has the requirement of terror. From the essay:

Recent events at The New York Times are an almost perfect demonstration of how this is playing out. Staffers angry about an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) claimed that its publication threatened their very lives. They specifically chose “running this puts black Times staff in danger” as their mantra because it invokes workplace safety. When the authority figure—the boss, the principal, the government—is responsible for ensuring safety, and safety is broadly defined as not merely protection from literal physical violence but also the fostering of emotional comfort, norms of classical liberalism will suffer. (One activist told me that for him, safety requires other people to affirm him.) The Times conflict ended with opinion page chief James Bennet out of his job.

He’s not the only one. UCLA recently suspended a lecturer, Gordon Klein, after he declined a demand that he make a final exam “no-harm”—that is, it could only boost grades—for students of color traumatized by the events in Minneapolis. Klein refused, in accordance with guidance from UCLA’s administration not to give students much leeway on exams. In response, the activists launched a change.org petition to get Klein fired, and the school suspended him. His irritated reply to the activists—that he would not give preferential exam treatment to students because of their skin color—has prompted UCLA to investigate him for racial discrimination.

University of Chicago economist Harald Uhlig, who had the temerity to criticize some of the more radical demands the protesters have made, is now being pressured to resign as editor of the school’s Journal of Political Economy. In this case, it’s not random students doing the pressuring, but some of the biggest names in economics: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, University of Michigan professor Justin Wolfers, and even former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, who told the Times that “it would be appropriate for the University of Chicago, which is the publisher of the Journal of Political Economy, to review Uhlig’s performance and suitability to continue as editor.”

The Times article is a master class in guilt-by-insinuation. The authors could not find a single fact to support the notion that Uhlig is a racist or that he has used his position to thwart black scholars. But he holds some views that would be in conflict with the more progressive Black Lives Matter protesters—he doesn’t approve of rioting, and he criticized NFL players for kneeling—and that apparently is suspicious enough.

Baseballery

Its fortunes over the decades — through 1960 — in the team’s original incarnation in the nation’s capital proved bleak. Yes, there was that one World Series championship (The great Walter Johnson winning the 12-inning Game Seven against the New York Giants in 1924), but in toto the Senators were a hapless franchise (pre-Twins), with a .465 win-loss percentage in a smidge over 9,000 games. The worst of many worses happened early on in the Senators’ history — the last-place 1904 squad had a 38–113 record. Few teams ever fared more poorly.

And few ever had as many pitchers who lost 20 or more games: The Senators had three such hurlers on their anemic-hitting (.227 team batting average) staff. Southpaw Casey Patten, who lost 22 games the year before, and who would lose 21 in 1905, was the Senators’ ace at 14–23. It was slim pickings after that: Righthander Happy Townsend posted a somewhat sad 5–26 record (for his six-year career he was 34–82), which was little better than that of rookie Beany Johnson, who posted a 5–23 record.

Could there have possibly been another team with as many, if not more, 20-plus losers? If you thought “yes,” you’d be right — the 1905 Boston Beaneaters (precursor to the Doves, Rustlers, Braves, Bees, and once again Braves) had four hurlers with an aching amount of losses. And so did the 1906 Boston team, doing so with an almost entirely new starting rotation.

The seventh-place (51–103) 1905ers were led by southpaw Irv Young, mis-nicknamed “Cy the Second.” He topped the staff with a 20–21 record (he’d also lose 25 for the Beaneaters in 1906, and another 23 in 1907, on his way to a career record of 63–95). Young was followed by Chick Fraser, who went 14–24. Fraser had lost 24 the previous year for the Phillies, and after the 1905 season, when the Beaneaters traded him to Cincinnati, he would lose 20 for the Reds. Quite the multi-franchise feat. The man he was traded for, Gus Dorner, would drop 25 games for Boston in 1906. And then there was Kaiser Wilhelm. He had lost 20 games for Boston in 1904. In 1905, he would put up a horrific 3–23 record. And baseball wasn’t done with him: Sold to the minors, Wilhelm next popped up in the big leagues in 1908, when he would go 16–22 for the Brooklyn Superbas.

But the 1905 cake-taker was surely future Hall of Famer Vic Willis: He set an MLB record for single-season losses, going 12–29 for Boston (worse than his 1904 performance of 18–25). Life would improve though: Traded after the season to Pittsburgh, Willis would win more than 20 games each season for the Pirates between 1906 and 1909.

As for the 1906 Boston team, it finished in last place with a 49–102 record: In addition to the aforementioned Young and Dorner, the Beaneaters starting staff also included Big Jeff Pfeffer, who went 13–22, and rookie Vive Lindaman, who went 12–23.

Of interest: This was not the era of relief pitching. In 1905, the four Beaneater starters pitched 125 complete games, and the 1906 quartet tossed 131.

A Dios

The unjustly accused deserve our prayers, and in the faith of Your Sinful Yet Humble Correspondent, in which is held as a matter of faith a thing called “the communion of saints,” we address five such holy souls — English Jesuits John Fenwick, John Gavan, William Harcourt, Thomas Whitebread, and Anthony Turner — who may serve to hear your supplications and act on them, given their spiritual proximity to the Almighty.

It was on this very day some 341 years ago when, falsely accused of treason against the Crown, part of the infamous Popish Plot, these priests were hung to death. King Charles knew of their innocence but, having the courage which so many today seem to have, which is none, refused clemency. Although, quite sporting of him, he allowed that they not be drawn and quartered, the usual ghastly English way of creating martyrs. May the quintet do their Heavenly service as intermediaries, as force multipliers, for your petitions, and gain those of us here below a modicum of sanity as the fevered brains of the Left (including many a 21st-century Jesuit, ignorant of the hundreds of members of their order who died for their faith) prowl about the world and social-media platforms, seeking the ruin of careers. And souls.

God’s Empowering Graces Be upon You and All Those You Love and Protect,

Jack Fowler, who is ready to receive theological lectures from modern Reformationists at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

The Big Red Machine

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Friends, acquaintances, readers, be not delusional: There’s no hiding. Oh, you may try it, but you’ll soon be in a to-no-avail world of not-good-enoughery / calling-out / grovel-demanding / mantra-dictating / abasement-expecting / spousal-under-the-bus-throwing by the morally superior Jacobins brandishing their superior moralities. These Red Guards 2.0 — those sensitive, wealthy, brick-throwing, Ivy-pedigreed brats who were so scared on campus that they needed Play Dough and bubbles and puppies to safe-space their started-a-non-profit-when-I-was-12 tuchuses from being triggered by a calmly expressed differing opinion — will rummage through their cell-phone contacts and Facebook “friends” and find you and text you and commence demanding of you a statement of affirmation, a retweet of a hashtag, a signature of a petition, and a videotaped mortification about your sorry racist self.

All that while, the re-educators, echoing their ChiCom cadres from Cultural Revolutions past, prepare your dunce cap. Well, that’s the SOP right now, anyway. Groupthink demands membership. Do read Alexandra DeSanctis’ piece, “Your Silence Is Not Enough.”

From it:

But the Left’s view of speech is growing more insidious even than that. As the current social unrest has unfolded, vast numbers of Americans have taken to the streets to peacefully protest the unjust killing of George Floyd — a laudable choice, if a bit surprising in light of the global pandemic — or to engage in vandalism, looting, and arson. Many more have taken to social media to promote Black Lives Matter and fundraise for bail funds to release rioters from jail. Almost uniformly, these culture warriors have begun parroting the troubling notion that “silence is complicity,” demanding that we all vocally sign on to their agenda.

According to this view, if you fail to use your platform to speak out about the progressive issue du jour, you are guilty of perpetrating injustice against the oppressed. It is our civic responsibility and obligation to “educate ourselves” — by which they mean accepting and memorizing the prevailing progressive dogma — and then to repeat what we’ve learned, faithful comrades in their holy war.

On one hand, then, progressives work to ensure that contrary beliefs are disallowed in polite discourse. On the other, they insist that we are compelled by the demands of justice to speak publicly about every social-justice issue. If we articulate a view that challenges the progressive creed, they will drum us out of polite company. If we do not speak at all, we are guilty of sinning by omission.

Friends, acquaintances, readers, we can cower and fret that this is what they mean by “the new normal.” Or we can fight this like the dickens.

Let’s opt for the dickens!

Editorials

1. We blast the hysterical debate over the use of federal troops to quell riots. From the editorial:

Tom Cotton led the charge for the “Send In the Troops” position in a much-debated op-ed for the New York Times. Cotton is right that federal law gives the president the authority to use military force against domestic disorder. That authority is explicitly laid out in the Constitution, has been invoked and incorporated in federal legislation dating all the way back to George Washington’s presidency, and is currently governed by the Insurrection Act passed in 1807 and signed into law by Thomas Jefferson. Abraham Lincoln used the army to restore order in New York’s draft riots in 1863, dispatching combat veterans directly from the battlefield in Gettysburg. In modern times, the Insurrection Act has been invoked by Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson against resistance to racial integration, and by George H. W. Bush to restore order in the Los Angeles riots in 1992, whose origins were similar to today’s crisis.

There is nothing un-American or “fascist” about such a longstanding backstop against chaos. Our constitution itself was written in response to a rebellion in Massachusetts that had to be suppressed solely by state authorities because the federal government was too weak to help. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were not fascists for using military force when it was necessary to end rebellions and riots.

Reaching for the Army, however, should be a last resort. Prudence counsels against Cotton’s proposal, for now. Where police are unable to handle riots, states can call up the National Guard. Minneapolis, the center of the storm, has done this, with some success. Bill de Blasio has refused to do so, and New York City has paid the price. Only where the Guard proves inadequate to the task should the regular military be called in.

2. The Cancel Culture Red Guards need to be stopped. From the editorial:

There are a few different things at play here. One is the free-floating desire to punish, the glee that certain awful people get from simply taking the opportunity to hurt someone, even an obscure and basically inoffensive someone. (Remember “Has Justine Landed?”) Some of this is cynical young staffers at prestigious institutions such as the New York Times who believe that they can clear room for their own advancement by chasing unhip elders out of the corner offices. Some of this is programmatic and political: There is no aspect of culture that is not to be commandeered by the rioting black-masked socialists — they have attempted to commandeer the protests against police brutality for their own ends, and they will commandeer Paw Patrol, too, if they can. They are vicious totalitarians who will use any means at their disposal, from ruining the lives of obscure fast-food managers to engaging in organized political violence.

It is particularly depressing that institutions ranging from the New York Times to the universities to Franklin Templeton have refused to stand up for themselves, for their employees, and, in the case of the Times and other media, for the principles of free expression and open dialogue that they purport to serve. They believe that they can pacify the mob by throwing it a sacrificial lamb or two. In that, they are mistaken. We hope that Corporate America is neither too stupid to understand that nor too cowardly to act accordingly, but, at the moment, we see little cause for encouragement. We are recreating East Germany’s culture of informers without even having a Soviet-backed dictatorship to blame it on.

The Cancel Counter

NR reporter Zach Evans and NR summer intern John Loftus are honchoing a “Cancel Counter” — you know, toppled statuary and deep-sixed shows (so long Cops) — to keep on top of the Left’s culture bloodletting. Here’s Number 9 from the growing list:

Christene Barberich, editor and co-founder of women’s lifestyle magazine Refinery29, resigned after current and former staffers alleged that they faced discrimination in the workplace.

“I worked at Refinery29 for less than nine months due to a toxic company culture where white women’s egos ruled the near nonexistent editorial processes,” writer Ashley Ford wrote on Twitter. “One of the founders consistently confused myself and one our full-time front desk associates & pay disparity was atrocious.”

“I will be stepping aside in my role at R29 to help diversify our leadership in editorial and ensure this brand and the people it touches can spark a new defining chapter,” Ms. Barberich wrote in a post on Instagram.

Nancy Dubuc, head of Vice Media, which acquired Refinery29 in October, said Barberich’s exit was “an acceleration of a conversation Christene and I have been having since Vice’s acquisition of R29 and she asked that we make the change immediately over the past few days.”

Filling the Void in a World of Intellectual Scarcity, Here Are a Score of NRO Scores

1. When did law and order become a sign of fascism? Rich Lowry attacks the attack. From the column:

Law and order, a favorite Trump theme, is not fascism.

Consider Cotton’s op-ed. The senator called for federal troops to assist in subduing rioters and stipulated that “a majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.” If this is fascism, any effort to stop people burning down buildings now has to be considered dangerous.

Trump’s Rose Garden speech calling for an end to the disorder and for using federal troops if necessary got a similar reaction.

“The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said.

The New Republic warned of “an authoritarian gangster state.”

Masha Gessen of The New Yorker wrote of Trump’s subsequent photo-op with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church: “Perhaps he had seen a picture of Hitler in a similar pose” (a photo of Hitler in a similar pose that circulated on social media afterward was a fake).

Trump, like Cotton, distinguished between peaceful protesters and rioters, and surely one purpose of his tough talk on federal troops was to prod governors and mayors to get a better handle on the situation on their own.

2. Dan McLaughlin makes the case for conservative law-enforcement reform. From the analysis:

Small government has never meant “no government.” Conservatives have long argued that governments that try to do too many things end up doing more of them badly. That should apply to policing as well. The core of criminal law is predatory behavior: murder, rape, robbery, fraud, arson, vandalism. The further we get from those things, the less we should involve the cops. Historically, the laws that have been most easily abused in racially disparate ways are vague, low-level crimes: loitering, jaywalking, disturbance of the peace. On the other hand, a great deal of disturbance of public order comes from the homeless population, many of whom are mentally ill and should be locked up not as criminals but for their own protection. Reducing criminalization of some of these offenses is more workable if cities are not teeming with disturbed street-dwellers.

Policing should also focus on protection, not raising revenue for the government. The broad use of civil-asset forfeitures that were meant to be confined to major criminal cases, busting people for selling single cigarettes, and other forms of “revenue policing” would all have been recognized by the Founding Fathers as excessive uses of government power.

Then there’s drugs. Rolling back the laws on hard drugs would be a mistake, but it’s reasonable to rethink the amount of money, time, and manpower that police departments devote to low-level drug crime. And at a minimum, Congress should give states more leeway to experiment with decriminalizing marijuana, given the thorny conflicts that have developed between state and federal laws on the issue.

Proposals to “demilitarize” the police should be on the table, but they should be carefully designed: There is a big difference between police departments’ having military vehicles and cops wearing riot helmets. Riot gear is, after all, designed to discourage police officers from seeing their guns as the only line of defense against death or severe injury from thrown bricks and bottles.

3. David Harsanyi considers how pick-a-knee rings hollow. From the piece:

‘Pick a knee,” says CNN’s S. E. Cupp, “The one that knelt on a neck or the one that knelt to try to prevent it.” This kind of ugly false choice — either you adopt my favored form of political protest or you support murder! — is meant to bully you into participating in groupthink. Worse, it’s meant to shame the target of Cupp’s exhortation into taking ownership of racism, an evil that may have nothing to do with him.

I find the abuse of black civilians — or, though this is apparently a provocation, any civilians — by the police abhorrent. More than any other group in American life, cops, empowered by the state to use force, have special responsibility to protect life and adhere to the law. But I am no more liable for the actions of Derek Chauvin than is S. E. Cupp or Al Sharpton. I have nothing to confess. The color of my skin is not an indictment of my morality, nor does it strip me of my agency.

If senators want to kneel for nine minutes as an act of contrition, that’s their choice. It is my choice to be embarrassed for them. There is a yawning difference between having a desire to fix the wrongs of the past and taking responsibility for them. Kneeling in front of your fellow citizens in cult-like displays of self-flagellation, the kind we saw in Bethesda and North Carolina, where white people begged for absolution while washing the feet of their black neighbors, is antithetical to the egalitarian ideals we should be striving to achieve.

4. Andy McCarthy makes note of the obvious: Washington can’t handle its own law-enforcement responsibilities but is prepped to tell the rest of American just how to reform the Thin Blue Line. From the analysis:

The FISA court recently found federal intelligence agencies guilty of an “institutional lack of candor” in dealing with the tribunal. That conclusion has only been bolstered by Justice Department reports outlining stunning abuses of power by the FBI, serial lying and leaking by top officials, fabrication of evidence, and investigations launched on a dearth of predication and furthered by entrapment tactics and perjury traps. We never did get to the bottom of the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which the ATF allowed illegal firearms transfers into Mexico — evidently hoping to fuel a political narrative against the Second Amendment but succeeding only in fueling violent Mexican gang crime that claimed the life of a border-patrol agent. A federal appeals court echoed a district judge in New Orleans, who was appalled when Obama Justice Department lawyers anonymously led a race-baiting press campaign to undermine the trial rights of indicted police officers and then misled and stonewalled investigators who tried to find out what happened. And speaking of misleading and stonewalling, they explain why we never got accountability for the bare-knuckles tactics the IRS used to harass conservative groups.

That’s just a thumbnail sketch. We could go on. I’d rather not go on, because these incidents sully the reputations of thousands of agents who go about their work honorably, day in and day out. But these incidents represent management failures, misfeasance and malfeasance at the high echelons of federal law enforcement. It is thus doubly important to highlight them because, in the wake of the George Floyd killing and the uproar that followed, the federal government is now presuming to dictate how state and local police forces must do their jobs.

5. Drew Brees’ seven-act apology for offending the woke by citing patriotism was tough to watch. Kyle Smith looks at the groveling that empowered his detractors. From the commentary:

Much of this has been nearly as senseless, emotion-driven, and inane as the actual burning, looting, and destroying of urban neighborhoods. Attacking Drew Brees for expressing widely held patriotic beliefs was about as rational as setting fire to a gas station. Brees should have realized this, taken a deep breath, and reacted in the following way: by doing nothing. Brees should have let his original statement stand. “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America,” was what he said, adding that thinking about the flag and the national anthem “brings me to tears thinking about all that’s been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.” Brees said paying respect to the flag “shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution.”

Stirring words, and nothing inflammatory about them. Tony Dungy chimed in, “Drew Brees can’t be afraid to say that and we can’t be afraid to say ‘Okay, I don’t agree with you but let’s talk about this.’ We can’t just say anytime something happens we don’t agree with, ‘Hey I’m done with that and this person.’ That doesn’t make sense.”

Brees made his situation worse by apologizing for these remarks, which only turned up the outrage. The quarterback’s ritual groveling simply made his detractors more powerful. They demanded further groveling, and he complied. Now he has stamped himself forever as an antagonist to both sides of the culture war. The radical Left will never forgive him for his original statement for daring to question woke wisdom, while the majority who love this country and its symbols can never unsee his pathetic, craven cringing in the face of the mob.

6. Victor Davis Hanson calls out the POTUS attacks by retired and politicized generals. From the essay:

So the issue of proper military conduct versus First Amendment rights for retired generals remains nebulous. Perhaps in such a void, a confused public could at least expect four rules of general decorum and common courtesy when our top retired military leaders go on the attack against a sitting president.

One, a retired general need not under any circumstances stoop to invoke Nazi Germany, Hitler, or Fascism to criticize the current commander in chief.

Two, any disparagement should not hint at any active resistance to, much less the removal of, an elected president other than through constitutionally mandated elections.

Three, the condemnation should rest on clear factual evidence, not emotive anger or partisan disagreement.

Four, there should be no semblance of coordination among retired military officers. They should avoid even the inadvertent appearance of a sudden chorus of like-minded retired military officers acting in concert to attack the policies of their current president with whom they disagree, and whom they disparage in personal terms.

Indeed, to do otherwise, whether by intent or inference, would suggest a harmonized effort to nullify the authority of an elected president — a dangerous escalation to extra-legal efforts that would be a first in American history.

Unfortunately, in this age of dissension, a number of our most esteemed retired generals and admirals, many of them heroic combat veterans, in their fury at President Trump, have not met these modest ethical expectations. However well-meaning, they seem to have little inkling of how their advocacy and speech have only further polarized a divided country whose streets are currently in chaos.

7. Mackubin Owens seconds the VDH motion on the expectations of military leaders.

Concerns about the politicization of the military require some unpacking. High-ranking military positions are inherently “political.” Military officers are expected to offer their advice on matters of strategy and policy. That advice may be accepted or rejected. But the military has no right to “demand” that its advice be accepted. Accordingly, it is inevitable that military leaders will be linked to the policies that they advocated and/or executed, whether they agreed with them or not. General William Westmoreland will be forever linked to Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy. General David Petraeus will always be inextricably bound to George Bush’s Iraq policy.

The act of resignation by a senior military officer, furthermore, is itself a political act. The idea that officers should resign when their advice is not accepted is based on a misreading of H. R. McMaster’s Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, a misreading that is common in the military, reinforcing the belief that officers should advocate particular policies rather than simply serve in their traditional advisory roles.

According to this misreading, the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have more openly voiced their opposition to the Johnson administration’s strategy of gradualism in Vietnam and then resigned rather than carry out the policy. But the book argues no such thing. Instead, it contends that the Joint Chiefs should have: (1) spoken up forcefully in private to their superiors and candidly in testimony to Congress when asked specifically for their personal views; and (2) they should have corrected misrepresentations of those views in private meetings with members of Congress. He neither says nor implies that the chiefs should have obstructed President Johnson’s orders and policies by leaks, public statements, or by resignation.

8. Robert VerBruggen checks out the studies and finds that when the police stop policing, the body count skyrockets. From the Corner post:

In a piece last week, I mentioned a forthcoming study by Tanaya Devi and Roland Fryer about what happens when cops stop doing their jobs, specifically in the wake of viral incidents such as the one in Ferguson, Mo., a few years back. That study is now available in its entirety.

Basically, it looks at what happens when federal or state authorities investigate police departments accused of having a “pattern or practice” of violating civilians’ rights. The good news is that these investigations usually lead to a measurable decrease in crime, including homicides.

The bad news is that, after five of the 27 investigations Devi and Fryer looked at closely, crime went up instead. And it turns out that those five investigations were the ones “preceded by ‘viral’ incidents of deadly force,” specifically “the deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, MD, Laquan McDonald in Chicago, IL, Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, OH, Tyisha Miller in Riverside, CA, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.”  The authors “estimate that these investigations caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.” For comparison, American cops kill about 1,000 civilians — in total, throughout the country — each year.

9. Madeleine Kearns profiles author J.K. Rowling’s refusal to genuflect to the Trans Gods (Or Goddesses? Or Godx?). From the piece:

It’s amazing what passes for news these days. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, suggested that only women menstruate and then, when prompted, clarified that she wasn’t fully on board the trans train. “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she tweeted. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans.” But apostatizing sex? No can do — no apologies.

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.

As she no doubt fully expected, Twitter talking heads soon descended in faux outrage as progressive outlets competed for the most question-begging headline. Vanity Fair: “J. K. Rowling Faces Backlash After Transphobic Tweets.” The New York Times: “J. K. Rowling Tweets Seen as Anti-Transgender Prompt Backlash.” NBC News: “J. K. Rowling accused of transphobia after mocking ‘people who menstruate’ headline.” But “backlash” from, “seen” by, and “accused” by whom?

Certainly, the answer is not the general public, who tend not to have such a strong reaction to an assertion of material reality. But activists are different. Consider, for instance, Ben O’Keefe, a senior creative producer for the Elizabeth Warren campaign — whom you’ve probably never heard of — who wrote of Rowling:

This woman is complete scum. Shut the f*** up you transphobic f***. You don’t know or love any trans people if you won’t even acknowledge their existence. Thanks for ruining the books of my childhood. Just stop talking. We know you’re a TERF. You don’t need to keep doing this.

BONUS: Maddy doubles down and back and collects some examples of support for Rowling. From the piece:

Since the mainstream media is intent on reporting only one side of the reaction to Rowling’s essay, I have collected testimonies from those who have similar concerns and who are grateful to her for taking a stand.

First, trans people. Debbie Hayton, a trans woman, told me of the “need to listen” to Rowling. “Trans activism has overreached with endless demands, always taking and never giving,” Hayton said. “The time has come for us to stop and start thinking about others as well as ourselves.” Scott Newgent, a trans man, told me of his agreement as well. “Medical transition creates an illusion of the opposite sex and some find comfort in that. What it does not do is change biology. We cannot get to a place in our society where feelings trump facts, and that is currently what is happening within the transgender debate,” Newgent said.

Second, women and feminists. In her essay, J. K. Rowling reiterated her support for Maya Forstater, a tax expert, fired for tweeting her belief in biological sex. Forstater told me, “I am immensely grateful to J. K. Rowling for her courage and her voice. . . . It is lonely and scary to stand up on your own.” In her essay, Rowling mentions Magdalen Burns, a lesbian feminist based in Scotland who sadly died last year, and who co-founded the grassroots movement For Women Scotland, which fights to hold the Scottish government accountable for relentlessly attempting to erode women’s sex-based rights and protections. A spokesperson for the organization told me their work is often “exhausting and demoralizing” and cited the draft Hate Crimes bill” introduced in April which “could see women imprisoned for speaking biological truths if someone claims to find it offensive.” (Yes, you read that correctly.) The women at For Women Scotland were “so grateful” and “a little tearful” reading her contribution as well as “incredibly touched that she mentioned [Magdalen] in such a personal essay.”

10. Dmitri Solzhenitsyn reports on spousal consequences in the Cancel Culture. From the Corner post:

If things weren’t already chaotic enough, Serbian soccer player Aleksandar Katai was released from the Los Angeles Galaxy last Friday following a day of indignant protests by fans outside Dignity Health Sports Park. What was Katai’s great offense? Being married to Tea Katai, who made Instagram posts comparing police-brutality protestors to cattle, called for violent action against them (“shoot the s***s”), and captioned an image of a supposed looter carrying off a pair of sneakers with “Black Nikes Matter.” Days before releasing Katai, the LA Galaxy had requested the removal of his wife’s posts and had made a statement condemning “racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of social equity.” Mrs. Katai subsequently took down the posts, and Mr. Katai issued a personal apology in which he rebuked his wife’s insensitivity. But these actions were not enough; Katai was still booted for his wife’s transgression.

To be sure, Tea Katai is a grown woman, and she should have thought twice before engaging in a national controversy in such a bloodthirsty and insensitive manner. And one may certainly argue that irresponsible actions should be met with harsh social consequences. But since when do we punish people so dismissively — LA Galaxy president Chris Klein stated: “the decision … was not a difficult one” — due to actions which are not their own? It would come as a great surprise if an athlete were released because his wife committed assault, or even murder. But being married to someone who has offensive opinions? Woke culture has decreed: “Pack your bags, bud.”

11. Sally Satel straightjackets the public-health professionals et al who declared riots and protests trumped COVID-19 fears. From the piece:

Overnight, the risk calculus changed. Instead of expert advice on the danger of exposure to coronavirus when, say, riding a subway, sending your kid to camp, or dining out, now the social value of the undertaking became part of the public-health equation. The risk of thousands of marchers wedged together (many masked but many not) spreading the virus by singing and chanting was suddenly acceptable in the eyes of outspoken members of the public-health establishment.

Flashback to April, when public-health experts were quick to criticize Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Brian Kemp of Georgia for easing lockdowns. Apparently, the two politicians’ values of salvaging the economy and relieving social isolation, both causes of significant emotional distress, failed to “greatly exceed the harms of the virus.” Compared with marching for social justice, they weren’t deemed as worthy.

But the problem goes deeper than a double standard. It belies a pernicious mission creep whereby public-health experts project their own social values onto risk assessment. The origins of the mission, however, are less confused. They recall the spirit of the 19th-century German pathologist, physician, and statesman Rudolf Virchow. He called physicians the “natural attorneys of the poor.” But it was the effects that social conditions such as poverty and squalor had on fitness and health that concerned him as a pathologist and doctor.

12. The great Eric Grover sings the praises of the e-buck. From the commentary:

Rather than seeing digital dollars as a threat, economic policymakers should embrace them as a means of expanding access to the greenback globally. With 2.6 billion users, Facebook is well-positioned to encourage the use of Libra dollars on and off its platform. Visa, the world’s largest retail-payment network, could support electronic dollars issued by banks and facilitate use worldwide. These coins would work in tandem with rather than against the dollar.

Since the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement, the dollar has been the world’s preeminent currency. It dominates foreign-exchange reserves, foreign-currency-denominated debt, foreign-exchange turnover, and cross-border interbank payments.

The dollar accounted for 61 percent of the world’s foreign-exchange currency reserves as of the fourth quarter of last year, far surpassing the euro’s 21 percent share and the Chinese renminbi’s paltry 2 percent. A whopping 74 percent of the $16 trillion in foreign-currency debt is denominated in dollars, and most international trade, including oil, is invoiced in dollars.

13. Public-school czars are demanding federal billions because of Coronavirus, but Frederick M. Hess and Matthew Rice hear the boys crying wolf. From the analysis:

And yet, given how familiar these complaints are, it’s difficult to take at face value the catalogue of demands — or the threats of dire consequences. More than a year before the coronavirus crisis, United Teachers Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl was urging his teachers to strike in order “to get the basics for [Los Angeles] students.” Of course, Caputo-Pearl neglected to mention that the Los Angeles Unified School District was spending $18,788 per student, average teacher pay in Los Angeles was $78,962, and many of the district’s frustrations were due to UTLA’s unwillingness to adjust employee benefits, which had grown an astounding 138 percent between 2001 and 2016.

In 2019, the American Federation of Teachers launched their “Fund Our Future” campaign, promising to take on “years of disinvestment [that] have hurt our students and faculty and led to overcrowded classrooms . . . and unhealthy, unsafe environments.” Taxpayers might have been surprised to learn that a 27 percent increase in real (after-inflation) per-pupil spending between 2000 and 2016 constituted “years of disinvestment.” (While 2016 is the last year for which national data are available, a robust economy and historically low unemployment during 2017-2019 meant that those were good years for state budgets.)  Meanwhile, the U.S. today boasts a teacher for every 15 students, and a school staff member for every eight — none of which suggests classrooms are “overcrowded” (unless it’s because staff keep bumping into one another).

In May, New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza decried the state of New York City’s education budget, telling city-council members, “We are cutting the bone. There is no fat to cut, no meat to cut.” Carranza failed to mention that New York City is one of the highest-spending school systems in the country — spending an extraordinary $28,900 per student in 2019, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. Shortly after Carranza’s histrionics, it was reported that the administration had added 340 positions to the central bureaucracy and borough offices in 2019.

14. Jimmy Quinn — covering the release of a massive report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Alex Joske — clues us in on Red China’s concerted effort at infiltrating democracies. From the piece:

United Front groups also exert influence in higher education through Confucius Institutes and Chinese student groups. Chinese Students and Scholars associations, writes Joske, “are the primary platform for United Front work on overseas students. Most CSSAs operate under the guidance of Chinese embassies and consulates.”

Illegal technology transfers are facilitated by the United Front’s Thousand Talents Program and professional associations overseas. And United Front–linked civil-society groups report back to UFWD with the names of public figures, students, and scientists abroad.

The challenge to Western democracies is twofold. As the report shows, the United Front network enjoys a reach that spans foreign countries, including every Five Eyes member. Tracking down and containing these groups is a difficult task. At the same time, attempts to curb CCP influence must respect the rights to which people in these countries are entitled.

Joske recommends that policymakers take care to distinguish between the CCP, Chinese citizens, and members of ethnic Chinese communities as they work to cast a light on United Front groups. He urges governments protect students and ethnic Chinese individuals from surveillance and harassment by United Front groups, not alienate them. Still, measures targeting Chinese students and researchers remain a topic of fierce debate and often elicit accusations of racism.

RELATED: Here’s the ASPI report.

15. Therese Shaheen tells the story of Canada’s diminishing attitude toward Red China. From the piece:

Aside from mishandling COVID-19, Canadians also are fed up with China over another specific matter. In a high-profile case that has seized the nation, two Canadian expatriates are being held in prisons in China as hostages of the government, in reaction to the arrest on December 1, 2018, at Vancouver’s airport of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom behemoth Huawei.

The United States government had indicted Ms. Meng for fraud and other charges connected with Huawei’s alleged dealings with Iran to contravene U.S. sanctions. The U.S. seeks her extradition from Canada to face those charges, which are just one element in Washington’s global campaign against Huawei on national-security, intellectual-property, and other concerns. In addition to being a senior Huawei executive, Ms. Meng is a daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei.

Ten days after Ms. Meng’s arrest, Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who had been posted to Hong Kong and Beijing and who now works for the International Crisis Group, was detained in Beijing. On the same day, the Chinese government detained Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who has lived and worked in North Korea and now runs a tourism and cultural exchange service at the China–North Korea border.

“The two Michaels” as they have come to be known across Canada, have captured the public’s attention. The men have been charged with espionage, they are being held incommunicado, and they have not been able to receive visitors or spend any meaningful time with their families. Media organizations are keeping hostage watch calendars in the same way U.S. media did during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979–1980.

16. Insanity at the Poetry Foundation, you say? We do. Kyle Smith explains. From the piece:

On June 3 the Poetry Foundation announced on its website that it and its periodical Poetry magazine “stand in solidarity with the Black community, and denounce injustice and systemic racism.” Allowing that poets have not yet succeeded in eradicating “institutional racism,” it added, “We acknowledge that real change takes time and dedication, and we are committed to making this a priority.” It concluded on a helpful note: “We believe in the strength and power of poetry to uplift in times of despair, and to empower and amplify the voices of this time, this moment.”

If you’re thinking that no one could possibly disagree with any of that, you’re underestimating just how disagreeable people are right now. Capillary-exploding fury greeted the statement above, via an open letter dated June 6 and signed by 1,800 people you’ve never heard of. Scores of them are remarkably ungrateful previous or current recipients of the foundation’s largesse. This virtual mob of versifiers, subscribers to Poetry magazine, and assorted random worked-up individuals inveighed against the foundation’s brief note for being wholly inadequate to the task of ending racism, calling it “an insult to the lives and families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other victims of the racist institution of police and white supremacy” as well as “an insult to the lives of your neighbors who have been targeted, brutalized, terrorized, and detained by the Chicago Police.” Further, the letter proclaimed that “the watery vagaries of this statement are, ultimately, a violence.” Threatening to withhold its submissions from Poetry magazine, the mob of signatories issued a list of five demands, not counting its call for the immediate resignation of President Henry Bienen and board of trustees chair Willard Bunn III.

In the course of denouncing the Poetry Foundation for not “creating a world that is just and affirming for people of color, disabled people, trans people, queer people, and immigrants,” the authors of the letter offered a hint that the ideal way to placate them would be to turn over all of its money to them: “Ultimately, we dream of a world in which the massive wealth hoarding that underlies the Foundation’s work would be replaced by the redistribution of every cent to those whose labor amassed those funds,” read the letter. Failing that, the angry poets suggested they might settle for “large contributions to organizations” of which they approved, together with “redistribution of wealth toward efforts fostering social justice.”

17. Fred Fleitz proposes next steps for the Trump administration’s Iran policy. From the beginning of the analysis:

President Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration with Iran appears to be a significant success.

This success is seen in several ways: The withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has isolated Iran and has denied the mullahs the revenue they had been spending on their military, missile development, and the nuclear program. U.S. sanctions reinstated as a result of the withdrawal are also denying the Iranian regime funds to support terrorists and proxies, and may be forcing Tehran to pull its troops from Syria. Further, U.S. withdrawal has given the administration leverage to negotiate a new agreement that addresses the full range of threats Iran poses to the Middle East and the world. While Iran is currently refusing to discuss a new agreement, mounting evidence of Iranian cheating on the JCPOA plus a surge in regime-sponsored violent provocations against U.S. forces in the region have driven once-panicky European states closer to Trump’s approach.

Contrary to the evidence, the president’s critics insist his JCPOA withdrawal has been a failure. They do so on the grounds that there has been no movement on negotiating a better deal and that Iran’s belligerent behavior worsened after the U.S pulled out of the agreement. Many critics, already apologists for the mullahs, have become more open about it, claiming that the regime was in compliance with the nuclear deal and blaming Trump for provoking the ayatollahs to ramp up their nuclear program after the U.S. withdrawal.

Claims that Iran has complied with the JCPOA are inaccurate and false. Moreover, the regime’s reactions were expected consequences of Trump’s decision and do not discredit the withdrawal.

18. As statues of Lincoln and Churchill are defaced and those of Southern generals toppled, Cameron Hilditch deciphers the theology of the “New Iconoclasts.” From the essay:

The public controversy concerning the statues is, essentially, a theological problem. In the Church of Grievance-Driven Collective Identity, there is original sin, but no mechanism for atonement. Nothing separates this new religion from the old more clearly than the words attributed to Christ on the cross in John 19:30: “It is finished.” According to the canons of the new faith, there is no point at which the sinner is released from the claims of the victim. For after all has been conceded to the aggrieved party, we will be told, as surely as the night follows the day, that we “still have a long way to go.” That is to say, unless and until the oppressed decide of their own volition that their oppressors have been obedient enough to receive absolution, they should enjoy a monopoly on speech and violence. As to what qualifies a person for absolution in any final sense, this is never made clear. There is no limiting principle on the wrath of the afflicted, no criterion for forgiveness to circumscribe the boundaries of destruction.

This is why statues are problematic to such people. Building a statue is an act of forgiveness. When we build a statue, we cannot help but bring the whole life of the subject into the public square for examination. We ask our compatriots to remember the person long after their death and to think upon their deeds long after most of our own have faded into the mists of time. But clearly not every deed is pleasant to remember. Who, after all, would choose to have all his actions and his likeness carved into stone for posterity to inspect and interrogate? The praise of any person who lived under the microscope of history necessitates a passing over of their sins. A line must be drawn to limit the claims of public outrage, as bright and red as the blood on the doorposts of the Hebrews in Egypt. Some acts and undertakings, we decide, are so great that they mark a definite point at which mocking and scorn must give way to simple gratitude. This idea is anathema to the iconoclasts. There is no cross they could nail their opponents to that would ever cleanse the guilty of their impurity; nothing in the lives of the Last Lion or the Great Emancipator that make up for the fact that, like countless others, they once ate of the tree of the knowledge of black and white. Fall once and damnation is unavoidable. Dante placed a sign above the entrance to Hell bearing the words “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” The new iconoclasts, not content with family-run businesses and grocery stores, have seemingly looted the underworld as well, stealing his sign and placing it over Earth. If you can rid the world of the Nazis or the Confederacy and still be denounced as a moral failure, abandoning hope might be your best option.

19. Robert Cherry wonders how Black Lives Matters to blacks who depend on neighborhood police presence for safety. From the piece:

Building effective community-police relationships is crucial to lowering homicide rates and reducing the significant racial bias in nonlethal use of force. Despite the current rhetoric, many recent reforms have been quite effective. While police misconduct (and biases) can never be completely eliminated, we can learn from cities where police-community relations are strong.

Criminologist David Kennedy guided Pittsburgh’s launching of a new initiative that better modeled the focused deterrence approach he pioneered and implemented in a number of cities, including Boston. Through community leaders and other neighborhood informants, Pittsburgh’s Group Violence Intervention Unit (GVI) identified more than 500 high-risk offenders. Once a high-risk offencer is identified, an officer will visit the offender as well as his or her parents or grandparents. At the meeting, the visiting officer says, “We know what’s going on. You — or your son or grandson — is a shooter.”

If the offender continues to commit crimes, Pittsburgh deals with him harshly. However, if he wishes to turn his life around, services are provided. The GVI unit works with job-training and placement programs, local faith-based organizations, mental-health experts, and multiple family- and housing-related services to help suspects change their lives — “to leave the life.” GVI volunteer coordinator Cornell Jones noted that tattoo-removal services are also offered if needed, because “it’s hard to get any job if you have ‘thug life’ tattooed on your forehead.”

20. Zach Evans finds the mindset of his alma mater, the uber-lefty Oberlin College, to pervade in America’s principle institutions. From the essay:

All across the country, graduates of elite colleges with monolithic progressive politics — such as the one I attended — have finally grown up. The progressive children of the overclass have found their professional footing and brought their “Oberlin mentality” into the workplace. Unfortunately, that mentality has spread far beyond the Times. The “trigger” was the death of George Floyd, killed by a police officer during his arrest. Floyd deserves to be remembered as a victim, even a symbol, of police brutality. He also deserves better than to be remembered in bouts of virtue-signaling by countless corporations, nonprofit institutions, and ordinary Americans.

Corporations and other institutions seem to be combining such gestures with some actions that could actually do some good. LEGO, for example, is donating millions of dollars to charities and nonprofits that focus on helping disadvantaged African Americans. At the same time, however, LEGO has announced it will stop advertising for LEGO sets that include any figures related to police or the White House, but without taking those sets off store shelves. This insults the intelligence of the children for whom LEGO sets are made, not to mention that of police officers and anti-police activists simultaneously.

Lights. Camera. Pundit!

1. Armond White knocks the attempts to cancel Gone with the Wind. From the piece:

Thirties Hollywood was so much more richly imaginative than today’s that dramas such as Gone with the Wind and Make Way for Tomorrow could also be constructed like screwball comedies. Viewers of mature intelligence and life experience appreciated the distinction. Only fools think Gone with the Wind glorifies the Confederacy. Scarlett, the greatest female character in American movies (unforgettably portrayed by Vivien Leigh), is so apolitical that she’s both likable and identifiable, which makes her an astonishing and instructive figure. When her romantic match Rhett Butler rousts the Ku Klux Klan, she couldn’t care less; she wants money and comfort — whatever it takes, which makes her exercise of liberty quintessentially American. She’s appealing and appalling, a fascinating, recognizable mirror.

In an essay praising GWTW as her favorite movie, Ellen Willis, the singular feminist writer, once wrote, “Fascination with movie heroines was part of female culture when I was growing up. I learned about being a teenager from rock and roll, but I learned about being a woman from the movies.” Millennial culture rarely teaches audiences about being human; media indoctrination is only about being a political functionary. To deny Scarlett is to deny ourselves, our human, national truth. And Mammy (given vivid depth by Hattie McDaniel) always sees right through her — and says so. Mammy’s moral consciousness is a more edifying contribution to American culture than the miseries that Ridley’s 12 Years inflicted upon filmgoers, debasing them while creating a culture of strife and inconsolable anger. (We all should respect McDaniel’s moving Oscar acceptance speech, apparently made under stress but coming from her heart. McDaniel knew more than any BLM poseur.)

2. Kyle Smith catches The King of Staten Island and finds Pete Davison still charmless. And worse. From the review:

Childish and manic on SNL, Davidson plays a sullen depressive in the film, which repeatedly seeks to find comic mileage in scenes built around other characters trying to be nice as he responds with uncalled-for nastiness. He’s meant to be anarchically funny, but instead he’s a typical narcissistic adolescent bore. The King of Staten Island, which is being released via video on demand in lieu of a theatrical rollout, is the worst of the six films directed by Judd Apatow (who, along with Davidson, is one of the three writers of the script). Apatow’s instinct to dig into people’s life stories looking for material is a good one, but this movie is merely the dung in the bildungsroman.

Davidson plays Scott, the aimless 24-year-old son of a New York City firefighter killed in action (and named in honor of the actor’s own father Scott, himself a firefighter who died helping others on 9/11). Scott’s body is covered with tattoos that make him look like a survivor of a paintball attack, and his extremely modest goal in life is to become a tattoo artist himself, although his own efforts at design are so awful that only his dumbest friend will let Scott practice on him. A drab and rubbishy Staten Island is the objective correlative of his misery; we’re told it’s the only place New Jersey looks down on. Has anyone involved with this film heard the way New Jerseyans talk about the South, the Midwest, upper New England, the Southwest, or the Great Plains states? Staten Islanders, being New Yorkers, look down on all those places, too. S.I. and N.J. share a tendency to be cocky and aggrieved at the same time, and it’s not necessarily a winning comic attitude.

Save the Date Buckley Fans

The National Review Institute’s annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner will take place this October 5th in NYC, with James Buckley and Virginia James being honored. To found out more click here.

Podcastapalooza

1. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the many ideas that have sprung up around police reform, the latest developments in the Flynn case, and more. Listen here.

2. On Radio Free California, David and Will scope out California Democratic leaders scrambling to appease public outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, proposing “solutions” that neatly avoid touching the Left’s unbridled affection for government unions, including police unions. Plus they discuss how Californians are lifting the COVID lockdown without permission. You gotta listen, right here.

3. On a special episode of The Editors, Rich interviews well-known writer and author Heather MacDonald about policing policies and much more. Listen here.

4. On the “regular” weekly episode of The Editors — Number 225 if you are keeping track — Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the calls around the country for disbanding police forces, the New York Times revolt, and the eerily religious quality of the recent protests. Get the wisdom here.

5. On Episode 20 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the media coming out unabashedly Left, the nexus of riots and coronavirus, the generals versus Trump, China — No More Mr. Nice Commie, and much more. Plug in the headphones and listen here.

6. On the new episode of The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by Zena Hitz to discuss her book, Lost in Thought. Catch it here.

7. And then on The Great Books, JJM is joined by Dutton Kearney of Hillsdale College to discuss James Joyce’s Ulysses. Do listen, here.

8. On Episode 268 of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss police slashing tires and Guitar Center’s hypocritical new boycotting stance. Catch the program here.

9. On Radio Free California, David and Will scope out California Democratic leaders scrambling to appease public outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, proposing “solutions’ that neatly avoid touching the Left’s unbridled affection for government unions, including police unions. Plus they discuss how Californians are lifting the COVID lockdown without permission. You gotta listen, right here.

Fight House Comes to Your House

Our pal Tevi Troy’s new book, Fight House: Rivalries in the White House, from Truman to Trump, will be the subject of a virtual discussion on June 17, and if you’d like to catch Double T talking up his opus, Register here.

(Check out Rachel Curries’ review of Fight House in the May 20 issue of NR.)

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, William Smith considers the essence of Antifa. From the essay:

With Rousseauism, we see a window into the modern progressive revolutionary mindset and Antifa. Like the Jacobins, who were so much influenced by Rousseau, Antifa objects to institutions that, they believe, are repressing the downtrodden. “Institutional racism” must be overcome, they say, by attacking those who protect it, such as the police.  Antifa does not offer a platform of positive change. In the fashion of Robespierre, they seek to overthrow “the privileged” and they assume that this violence and destruction will inflame an uprising that will usher in a pure democracy of equality.

Revolutionaries of this type are persuaded of their own innate virtue, justifying violent antinomian acts because they are tearing down artificial and conspiratorial institutions. Western civilization itself is a gigantic conspiracy against “the people.” In the view of Antifa, traditionally powerful groups, such as white men and capitalists, conspire to suppress the natural nobility of underrepresented citizens.

Where once virtue was bound up with self-control, virtue is now found in humanitarian rioting against traditional institutions.  Therefore, a signature feature of this revolutionary outlook is the worship of rogues. Society is broken down into two groups, one virtuous and one retrograde: criminals willing to attack and destroy are sublime while those who defend tradition or the status quo, such as the police, are wicked. The gangster regalia and black outfits of Antifa signal their virtue, not their vice.

In his time, Rousseau pointed to the monarchy, clergy, and aristocracy as the conspirators against the popular will. But modern progressives view traditional institutions as illegitimate because they view Western history as a tyranny of race, gender, and class. Even non-violent progressives generally accept the revolutionary premise that traditional hierarchies need to be torn down and replaced with rule by “woke” underrepresented groups. California Governor Gavin Newsom was a pitch perfect Rousseauist when he recently said that the violent riots were not caused by individuals; instead he insisted, “Our institutions are responsible.” Many progressives are ambivalent about criticizing the violence of Antifa because they retain this sympathetic worldview. While all on the left are not active in violent revolution, many liberal mayors and governors struggle to condemn it outright. Might that be because of shared sympathy

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, the prolific and wise Bradley Birzer treats us to a lesson of that oddest of entities, the American Whig Party. From the article:

Senator Daniel Webster offered the swiftest and most comprehensive response to Jackson. The president had abused his executive power, as he should only veto legislation that sought innovations; the bank had already existed twice, and it had become a part of the American tradition, not a thing created upon a blank slate. Further, he stressed, Jackson’s self-identification with “the People” was one of the most dangerous assertions yet made in American history. Nothing Webster said, he himself realized, could exaggerate this point enough. If the president truly represented the People, the executive branch would soon overwhelm the other two branches of the federal government, thus destroying two generations of delicate work and balance. Only the House could rightly speak for the People.

The President is as much bound by the law as any private citizen and can no more contest its validity than any private citizen. He may refuse to obey the law, and so may a private citizen; but both do it at their own peril, and neither of them can settle the question of its validity. The President may say a law is unconstitutional, but he is not the judge. Who is to decide that question? The judiciary alone possesses this unquestionable and hitherto unquestioned right.

Webster decided not to address the specifics of Jackson’s arguments against the bank, justified, he thought, by the unworthiness of the arguments. The bank, Webster claimed, served the common good and thus served properly the republic. Finally, he noted with cutting sarcasm, Jackson must see himself as a new Louis XIV: “I AM THE STATE.”

3. At City Journal, Thom Nickels reports on the riots in the City of Brotherly Love. From the article:

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, 378 fires were set in the city and 246 commercial burglaries were committed during the unrest. At first, Mayor Jim Kenney and new police commissioner Danielle Outlaw blamed the fires and looting on a small group of outsiders, but they later had to eat their words. In fact, official arrest data showed that 181 of the arrested were from Philadelphia, while 46 came from outside the city (with 30 having no address). The worst of the rioting and looting occurred over three days, long enough to call into question Kenney’s contention that the agitators and looters were just a small band of troublemakers. Occupying a city and rendering police helpless are feats beyond the capacity of ragtag rejects.

I live on the outskirts of Fishtown, a section of the city touted by the New York Times several years ago as a revitalized urban paradise with chic restaurants, art galleries, grooming shops, and soy vegan cafes. Before its resettlement by migrating millennial Brooklynites and real estate moguls, Fishtown was home to working-class Irish, Italian, German, and Polish families who worked in nearby factories. Today, the factories are converted condos, but the children and grandchildren of those early factory workers still live in the rowhouse neighborhood and mix freely, if not always ecstatically, with their wealthier new neighbors.

On June 1, Fishtown made national headlines when a group of men carrying baseball bats and clubs opted to protect their neighborhood from the looters and anarchists who had trashed Center City. This vigilante group emerged following three days of media reporting that the “protest” was moving into neighborhoods like Germantown, Kensington, and West Philadelphia, along with reports of fires, blown-up ATM machines, blocked traffic, burned buildings, and threats of more violence. For three days, Philadelphians watched scenes of police officers running from rioters as patrol cars were destroyed or set on fire. One report even showed police officers scattering out of the looters’ way, appearing frightened.

4. At The American Conservative, Joanna Williams observers the Thought Police coming to arrest J.K. Rowling. From the commentary:

How did we get here? Let’s begin at the beginning. In March last year, researcher Maya Forstater lost her job at a London-based think tank for having expressed the view that people cannot change their biological sex. When the case came to court in December, the judge upheld her dismissal and described her views on sex and gender as “absolutist” and “incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others.”

It’s incredible that a woman can lose her livelihood simply for stating biological facts. Yet hardly anyone challenged this unprecedented attack on Forstater’s freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. J.K. Rowling was one of the few to speak out. The author tweeted: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.

This one tweet, this one small act of sisterly solidarity with a newly out-of-work woman, sparked a Twitter meltdown. Rowling was labelled a “TERF”—Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist—the go-to insult hurled at women who transgress new social norms established primarily by men. Not that long ago, it was considered grossly offensive to insult women by calling them derogatory names. Now, the hierarchy of victimhood has been transformed, and women—females—can be subjected to no end of abuse if it’s for the greater good of protecting males who, complete with penis, chest hair, and stubble, demand the world acknowledges they are women.

5. At Quillette, Jonathan Kay investigates the media’s social-justice meltdown. From the essay:

There’s a reason why it’s poets, writers, and editors who’ve gone into cancel-culture beast mode over the last week, and not, say, carpenters and plumbers. Unlike a table or a sink, the things we wordsmiths sell—political postures, controversial opinions, artistic styles, insights, purported moral truths—have no set value. Sometimes we publish things that get declared “stunning and brave,” while a colleague’s very similar offerings sink quickly into obscurity. Or vice versa. In the pre-social-media age, readers typically consumed our writings privately, often through longstanding print subscriptions. But that has now changed: The materials we write, read, edit, and publish act as personal brand signifiers whose moral value fluctuates wildly on the daily stock markets known as Twitter and Facebook. Even at the best of times, it’s an unstable system—because a single bad tweet can set off the equivalent of a bank run. So the temptation is always there to hype your own stock, or downgrade someone else’s, as a means to rally followers and punish enemies.

The reason the Times has lost its editorial moorings isn’t that social media is crazy and tribalistic. Social media has always been crazy and tribalistic. What’s changed is that the firewall between social media and real life has now broken down completely thanks to the pandemic lockdown. Since we’re all working from home, and dealing with co-workers only through digital means, the line between colleague and troll has blurred to nothingness.

It was one thing when Times staffers had to co-exist in a world of cubicles, water fountains, lunchrooms, and elevator chit chat. We all say we’re exasperated by office life, but the annoying rituals of communal work help remind us that our colleagues are actual human beings who tell stories about their dogs and put stick-it notes on their Tupperware. Canceling James Bennet, Real Human Being, would have been a lot harder than canceling @James_Bennet, the Slack-channel avatar. Certainly, it’s no coincidence that the Times’ descent into full-blown progressive cancel-culture social panic happened to coincide with the only period in the newspaper’s history when people who once rubbed elbows daily suddenly never saw each other for many months—just as it’s no coincidence that the editor of Bon Appetit magazine now has been forced to resign because of a Halloween photo from 17 years ago—that people already knew about.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim reports on Turkey’s ratcheted-up war against Christians. From the piece:

Threatening and defacing churches is especially common. In early 2019, hate-filled graffiti — including “You Are Finished!” — was found on the Armenian Church of the Holy Mother of God in Istanbul. Commenting on it, an Armenian activist tweeted, “Every year, scores of hate attacks are being carried out against churches and synagogues.”

In late 2019, while shouting abuses and physical threats against Christians gathered at the Church of St. Paul in Antalya, a man said he “would take great pleasure in destroying the Christians, as he viewed them as a type of parasitism on Turkey.”

Most recently, on May 8, 2020, in Istanbul, a man tried to torch a church that had been repeatedly attacked with hate-filled graffiti, among other desecrations.

Rather than threaten or attack churches, Turkish authorities have the power simply to confiscate or close them (here, here, and here, for examples). In one instance, police, similarly to the marauders mentioned above, interrupted a baptismal ceremony while raiding and subsequently shutting down an unauthorized church. “Turkey does not have a pathway for legalization of churches,” the report noted.

When pretexts cannot be found, assailants sometimes resort to other tactics. In an apparent attempt to conceal the online presence of at least one church, for instance, authorities labeled its website “pornographic,” and blocked it. The ban was “horrible,” a church representative responded. “It’s a shame. It really pains us at having this kind of accusation when we have a high moral standard.”

Baseballery

Tomorrow (June 14) being Flag Day, and assuming that it is still legal and not a macroaggression to display and laud the Stars and Stripes, let this space be used to take note of one Robert James Monday, a.k.a. “Rick,” who graced Major League outfields for some 19 seasons, adorned by the uniforms of the Athletics, Cubs, and Dodgers, twice named to All Star teams (he was the NL’s starting centerfielder in 1978) and thrice playing in World Series. He compiled a solid .264 career batting average, with 244 home runs.

Monday made what many consider the greatest play ever made. It came on April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium, where Monday’s Cubs were playing a Sunday afternoon game disrupted in the bottom of the fourth inning — you have to love that it’s Vin Scully calling the game . . . “Wait a minute, there’s an animal loose, two of them, all right . . .” — by two dunderheads trying to burn an American Flag in the outfield. But it was not to happen: Before the punks could light a match on the lighter-fluid-soak material, Monday, a former Marine, swooped in from his centerfield position to save Old Glory. Watch the video, which includes Monday’s reflections on the event decades later. Monday had three hits and an RBI that day, but the Dodgers prevailed in 10 innings, 5–4.

A few non sequiturs, because we enjoy frivolity in these precincts: Monday was the last man to ever score a run on the home field for the Kansas City Athletics. That came on September 27, 1967, before a measly 5,325 fans at Municipal Stadium, as the As — bound the next season for Oakland — beat the White Sox 4–0. Monday scored the final run in the bottom of the sixth inning, scampering home on a passed ball by Chicago catcher J.C. Martin. He also scored the first run ever for the Athletics at their new home in Oakland in 1968, a solo homer in a 3–1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Monday’s greatest hit was likely his top-of-the-Ninth, two-out home run off Expos righthander Steve Rogers in the deciding game of the 1981 NL Championship Series, won by the Dodgers 2–1.

A Dios

Who’d have thunk that a liberal kids’ book author, J.K. Rowling, would emerge as the exemplar of courage in this current cultural meltdown, this orgy of mea culpary? Pray maybe for God’s grace, for strength, so that more will be like her — including maybe the person in the mirror. It may not be a fight or a challenge you asked for, but it might be one you cannot avoid. There are far worse things than taking a social-media punch, than being unfriended.

God’s Blessings for the Preservation of this Nation as One Worthy of Him,

Jack Fowler, who can be told that he is being unfriended, and even unacquaintanced, via missives sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Chaos Cheering, Decision Dithering

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

What is there to say that you don’t already know? History has once again been repetitious and doomed.

We know this: The means of containing agitations to prevent their evolving into riots has been well-documented. And this: The preventative methods are proven! Indeed, it was the late Gene Methvin, the influential and renowned Reader’s Digest journalist, who penned a number of important pieces for NR in the early 90s in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots explaining how riots were born, and how they could be aborted. In the June 10, 1991, issue, NR published his remarkable piece, “A Riot Primer.” Its wisdom holds true three decades later. The great Chris McEvoy has made the essay PDF-linkable so we can share it with you. Here’s a slice from the piece:

In a nutshell: Riots begin when some set of social forces temporarily overwhelms or paralyzes the police, who stand by, their highly visible inaction signaling to the small percentage of teenaged embryonic psycho­ paths and hardened young adults that a moral holiday is under way. This criminal minority spearheads the car­ burning, window-smashing, and blood­ letting, mobbing such hate targets as blacks, or white merchants, or lone cops. Then the drawing effect brings out the large crowds of older men, and women and children, to share the Roman carnival of looting. Then the major killing begins: slow runners caught in burning buildings and—as civic forces mobilize—in police and National Guard gunfire.

The books are on the shelf: let the responsible authorities in city hall and police headquarters check them out.

The time to halt a riot is right at the start, by pinching off the criminal spearhead with precise and overwhelming force. The cops will usually be caught flat- footed (no pun intended) by the initial outbreak. But they need to spring into a pre-arranged mobilization that should always be as ready in every major city as the fire-department or hospital disaster-response program.

A year later, the LA riots having caused so much death and destruction — courtesy of police officials ignoring established rules of riot control — Methvin again wrote for NR. The 1992 piece was called “How to Hold a Riot.” From that article, also now a PDF:

Los Angeles was still burying its dead (58 and counting), nursing the 226 critically wounded (including Denny), clearing rubble from 3,700 fires, and trying to help thousands whose jobs were destroyed in the holocaust. As always after such social hurricanes, the debate rages: Why? Whose fault was it? What are the causes—proximate causes and “root causes”? How can we prevent recurrences? The causology of riots is not simple, and like the nine blind Hindus debating the shape of the elephant, people with different vantage points dispute furiously. Most black spokesmen yell “racism.” White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater blamed LBJ’s “Great Society.” I’ll nominate as my prime scapegoat Daryl Gates, and will prove it to you anon. But first, some basics.

Riots are analogous to avalanches in the Alps. A gentle breeze, a cracking limb, or a zestful yodel shakes loose a tiny handful of snow. Within minutes a thunderous avalanche may bury an entire town. What follows bears no relation in magnitude to the tiny triggering event. We could argue that the heavy winter snowfalls months before “caused” the avalanche. Or we could trace the cause back to the earth’s movement around the sun, or whatever force gave our planet a tilted axis, or even to the Big Bang that launched the universe. (And what came before that?)

But the practical Swiss don’t go back that far. They have studied the chain to discover where they can most expediently interrupt the process to minimize damage.

We have such specialists for riots. They are called cops. When family, church, and school fail, they are civilization’s last line of defense. But sometimes they do not do their jobs, and we need to understand why.

They’re very much worth reading. It might prove enraging: All of this madness was preventable. But for . . .? But for the weak, afraid to be portrayed as racist in the twisted moral calculus the Left uses on any and all occasions; but for the fools, too preoccupied with idiocies to see the bricks being stockpiled; and but for the evil, who cheer on the chaos because it serves their purpose. Which is? The destruction of America as we know it.

On to the WJ!

Editorials

1. The top priority is and will remain restoring order. From the editorial:

Restoring order should be the first priority. The dynamic of riots is always that if the police don’t show up, if they hold back, or worse, if they retreat, the disorder gets more intense and destructive. Violence must be met with overwhelming (and, obviously, lawful) force. Authorities in Minnesota evidently finally figured this out after a couple of nights of letting things spin out of control, and implausibly blaming outside agitators for the mayhem.

It’s certainly true that “Antifa” extremists have taken a hand in the destruction around the country (and sometimes been rebuked by black protesters opposed to their tactics), but there are plenty of others breaking things and looting who clearly are local residents and not members of any ideological splinter groups. Regardless of the argument over who is most responsible for the riots, state and municipal authorities must resolve to bring peace back to their streets, with the assistance of the National Guard as warranted.

As for the matter underlying all the protest and chaos, police work involves violence, and there is no getting around that. Americans have for a long time understood this and made allowances for it, which is why a questionable police shooting is investigated in a way that is different from that of a questionable private act of self-defense. But it is worth exploring the protections bad cops get from union rules, and the level of deference that prosecutors afford the police in questionable cases, among other things. It’s not true that the police are a racist, occupying force in American cities, but we have to be cognizant of the fact that they have lost the confidence of many of the communities they serve.

2. Iowa Republicans have had enough of Congressman Steve King. We shed no tears. From the editorial:

Iowa Republicans began to wonder what King’s peculiar and troubling enthusiasm for an Alt-Right Internationale had to do with their priorities. Given the chance to vote for a viable alternative who is a mainstream conservative, they took it. Soon-to-be-representative Randy Feenstra may not generate as many headlines as his predecessor. But being a more effective, and decent, congressman should be feasible.

3. We have mixed feelings about the president’s call for the use of U.S. troops to quell riots. From the editorial:

Invoking this law would not constitute imposing a dictatorship or waging a war on the American people any more than when George H. W. Bush did it during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, when Lyndon Johnson did it during riots in 1968, or when Dwight Eisenhower did it to enforce federal desegregation law in 1957. There is no justice and no liberty without order and the rule of law.

That said, it’s hard to see how Trump could, as a practical matter, invoke the Insurrection Act over the objections of state and local officials. Having hostile and competing authorities trying to police the same out-of-control streets is not a formula for success. The main utility of talking of the Insurrection Act may be in prodding states to be more forceful in their response.

Minnesota called out the National Guard, and Minneapolis, the first city to get hit by these disturbances, has been relatively calm for three straight nights. New York has avoided calling the Guard, and New York City was a shameful festival of rioting and looting Monday night. Cities need to impose early curfews, vigorously enforce them, and call out the National Guard if they have any doubt that the police can’t do the job on their own.

If Trump’s language about “dominating” the streets is inflammatory, the basic point is correct. But the president has failed to rise to the moment with his incendiary tweets and insulting commentary on the performance of local officials.

Before We Get to the Main Course, Hear Our Appeal and Know that We Count on Your Helping

From time to time, NR especially proves why we are essential, not only to the debate of ideas, but to the fight to protect them. Right now, our principles are under assault. Under literal attack — from thugs, from complacent and cheerleading admiring ideologues who hold public office.

Over the weekend we are seeking to raise $50,000 (an understatement: it’s sorely needed) from good people, such as yourself, to support NR’s editorial efforts on behalf of our principles. Your principles. NR El Jefe, Rich Lowry, hits the bulls-eye with his accounting for NR’s role in this fight:

Over the past two weeks, we’ve witnessed an ongoing battle in the streets, with cops and National Guardsmen working to restore order before more livelihoods and lives are heedlessly destroyed.

All honor to them. And yes, sometimes they will make mistakes and even commit crimes, for which they should be held to account — justice demands no less.

But there is another dimension of the fight for peace and order that falls to us who write and argue for a living.

We must resist the corruption of our moral and intellectual culture from a strain of radicalism not seen since the rise of the New Left in the 1960s, a radicalism that was accommodated by a timorous liberal establishment.

We must insist that words have meaning.

That lawlessness is always wrong.

That order is the foundation of our society, without which there is no liberty or prosperity.

And I’m proud to say, we have been intensely waging this fight since the first brick was thrown in Minneapolis.

Read Rich’s powerful appeal here. Pray you are motivated by it. It’s hard to imagine you couldn’t be. If you are, please donate here. Our flash effort expires on Monday. But come Tuesday, we’ll still be engaged in hand-to-hand combat, in a furious fight for the truth, for our beliefs, for our civilization, refusing to retreat from our enemies’ blows, and drawing from our support to fix bayonets and counterattack – we will continue fighting as long as every writer at NR draws a breath.

Don’t Touch the Safety: This Thing Is Locked and Loaded with 15 Rounds of Conservative Must-Reads

1. Charlie Cooke says that the madness makes the case for why we need guns. From the reflection:

In any case, the idea that the existence of police officers in some way negates the right to bear arms has always been a ridiculous one. Police are an auxiliary force that we hire to do a particular job — there to supplement, not to replace, my rights and responsibilities. Every time we debate gun control in the United States, I am informed that the Sheriff of Whatever County is opposed to liberalization. To which I always think, “So what?” My right to keep and bear arms is merely the practical expression of my underlying right to self-defense. That, as a polity, we have decided to hire certain people to take the first shot at keeping the peace is fine. But it has no bearing on my liberties.

And how could it, given that I do not live in a police station? The old saw that “when seconds count, the police are minutes away” is trotted out as often as it is because it is unquestionably true. Whether the average police department is virtuous or evil is irrelevant here. What matters is that no government has the right — and in America, mercifully, no government has the legal power — to farm out, and then to abolish, my elementary rights. It would not fly if the government hired people to speak for me and then shut down my speech; if would not fly if the government hired people to worship for me and then restricted my right to exercise my religion; and it will not fly for the government to hire a security agency and then to remove, or limit, my access to weaponry. This is a personal question, not an aggregate question: I have one life, and I am entitled to defend it in any way I see fit against those who would do me harm. If there is a single principle that has animated this realm since the time of the Emperor Justinian, it is that.

2. Hard to believe it has to be said, but David Harsanyi says it: Riots are violence. From the piece:

Riots may excite the keyboard revolutionary, but they won’t bring racial equality. The opposite, in fact. Not only are the anarchists who burn and loot stores subjecting many of their neighbors to a dehumanizing experience, they are destroying poor and minority neighborhoods.

Big businesses might be able to afford to fix the smashed windows and ransacked supply room, but family-owned ones are going to struggle. Chain stores have insurance, but the individuals and smaller manufacturers who depend on them for their livelihoods also are threatened. The big stores themselves will be paying higher insurance rates, and some of them may decide to never come back to these poorer neighborhoods.

Because the forest doesn’t always grow back.

3. Hard to disagree with Kyle Smith’s diagnosis that cities are committing suicide. From the Corner post:

Trust in the government to provide basic services was already shaky and will tumble further. People who don’t trust the government to provide for them vote Republican. There will be an increase in homeschoolers. Homeschoolers vote Republican.

The involuntary experiment for telecommuting, particularly among white-collar workers, has proven that workers can be relied upon to work from home. People don’t trust the New York City subway anymore but those who don’t need to come into the office can live anywhere. This is especially true of some of the most successful people — lawyers, people in finance. High-income people will be disproportionately among those leaving.

The balance of cities, already hit by a fiscal hurricane because of the duration of the lockdown, will tip toward heavy consumers of government services and away from high earners. Cities will be forced to raise taxes. The taxes on high earners and corporations will seem punitive. Even more of them will flee as taxes go up. The things successful people like about cities, such as high-end restaurants and culture, will follow them out to the suburbs. Corporate office parks in the suburbs will see a resurgence.

4. Andrew McCarthy takes on the racial canard of white cops killing black men. From the piece:

As Heather Mac Donald relates in an insightful Wall Street Journal op-ed, blacks make up only a quarter of the total number of people killed in police shootings annually, a ratio that has held steady since 2015. The reigning canard, however, is that this 25 percent figure proves racism since African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Ridiculous as this syllogism is (as we’ll see, it conveniently elides more consequential factors), it still puts the lie to the slanderous narrative that police are hunting down black men. Even if we ignore the fact that an increasing number of police officers — obviously including those involved in encounters with black suspects — are themselves African Americans, the percentage of black deaths from police shootings would be much higher if blacks were being targeted.

Police do not go looking for people to shoot. In shooting situations, police are confronting crime suspects, the majority of whom are armed. But given that George Floyd was unarmed, let’s consider unarmed people killed in such encounters. Such unarmed decedents, too, were twice as likely to be white as black in 2019 — i.e., 19 unarmed whites, nine unarmed blacks. As Ms. Mac Donald observes, this ratio is not stable (and there is some looseness in what the media define as “unarmed”): In 2015, it was 38 unarmed blacks to 32 unarmed whites.

5. Peter Kirsanow tells how the left’s article of faith is not supported by the facts. When it comes to policing and race, false narratives rule for the MSM. From the piece:

The indefensible killing — captured on video — of George Floyd, following closely after the release of video showing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, triggered the riots, looting, and conflagrations that have engulfed scores of cities across the country. As horrific as these killings were, it’s questionable whether, in isolation, they would’ve prompted riots on the scale and in the numbers that have occurred in the last week. Demonstrations, sure. On a visceral level, the videos almost compel them. But nationwide riots would be unlikely.

Rather, the riots are a result of the narrative that the Floyd and Arbery killings are but the latest of increasing examples of innocent blacks being disproportionately shot by white cops and targeted by racist white civilians. The narrative is played hourly on cable news shows. It’s embellished by major newspapers across the country. Cynical and opportunistic politicians advance it every election cycle. Hollywood perpetuates the narrative in television and theaters. It’s a mantra of high-school teachers and college professors, regardless of academic discipline. Major corporations apologize for their nebulous complicity. The narrative is a staple of diversity and inclusion offices. It’s ubiquitous on social media.

The narrative has been repeated so frequently, so universally, that it’s an unassailable given, a fact not to be challenged. Indeed, it’s an article of faith which, if questioned, exposes the heretic to rage, venom, and ostracization. Some fear losing their jobs. Best therefore, not to even consider questioning the narrative.

The narrative is false. In fact, it’s not just false, it’s upside down. And it’s been false for quite some time. There are racist cops in a nation of 330 million. But 2020 America isn’t 1965 Selma.

6. Rich Lowry takes on the vogue of minimizing violence and destruction. From the piece:

Forced to choose between criticizing the George Floyd protests when they get out of hand and defending the indefensible, activists and writers on the left have been tempted into the latter.

Their inventive, if completely absurd, contention is that the destruction of property doesn’t qualify as violence, and, at the end of the day, isn’t such a bad thing, maybe even a salutary thing.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning architect of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, argued in an interview: “Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things is not moral.”

The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, favorably quoted a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network, who explained: “We don’t have time to finger-wag at protesters about property. That can be rebuilt. Target will reopen.”

An article in Current Affairs asserted that applying the word “violence” to the destruction of property risks “making the term conceptually incoherent and — much more important — conflating acts that do very serious physical harm to people with acts that have not physically harmed anyone.”

7. Officer Jack Dunphy tells how the riots went down in The City of Angels, and how they were intensified by the LAPD’s lousy leadership. From the first-hand account:

During my time with the LAPD, efforts were often made to prevent such people from being in charge during crucial incidents. They were relegated to positions from which they could cause little harm or compound confusion. This was not done last weekend, and the LAPD’s performance suffered for it. For example, on Saturday afternoon and evening, as officers struggled to contain looting in the Fairfax district, I monitored radio traffic from the scene in which an officer in a circling helicopter asked for more personnel to supplement the cops on skirmish lines and those chasing looters. No more officers were available, he was told. At that very moment, about 200 officers were waiting for instructions in a staging area miles away. They remained in that staging area for four hours before being dispatched to the trouble zone, by which time the looting had all but ended.

But it hadn’t ended completely, and I spoke to officers who had the maddening experience of waiting for orders at a command post while watching live news programs on their cell phones. A television-news helicopter was filming looters as they ransacked a computer store about a mile away, and the officers, who were among at least 200 at the command post at the time, could look up in the sky and see the helicopter hovering over the scene as it broadcast the images. The spectacle continued for 45 minutes as carload after carload of looters arrived and carried off computers and other merchandise, presumably until there was nothing left to steal. “I don’t know why anybody in the C.P. wasn’t watching the same thing I was,” one of them told me. “My partner and I could have walked there and handled it ourselves, but they didn’t send us. They didn’t send anybody.”

Perhaps some of those in charge were so preoccupied with demonstrating their solidarity with protesters that they simply forgot to do their jobs. Last weekend we were treated to scenes like this one, in which LAPD commander Cory Palka spoke to a group of protesters and promised to take a knee with them if they committed to remaining peaceful. It was a made-for-Twitter moment, and it surely endeared Palka to the group he was addressing, but the gesture was a pointless one, as the group consisted largely of aging hippies and young hipsters, some with young children in tow. An honest assessment of his audience should have told Palka that, even without the pandering showmanship, none of them would have been among the window-smashers and looters who did indeed rampage through the area later that night.

8. NR summer intern Dmitri Solzhenitsyn checks out the left’s violence-excusing rhetoric and warns of unintended justifications. From the commentary:

I do not wish to argue directly against the morality of this stance, nor to make an empirical argument as to the negative economic repercussions of lawless protest. Instead, I’d like to undertake a thought experiment: What if certain members of the Right took these anarchist, morally permissive sentiments to heart? Certainly, this is the last thing that any leftist — or any reasonable conservative — would want.

While the modern Left tends to emphasize the prevalence of oppressive systems, many on the right hold uncompromising beliefs of their own. For instance, conservatives are prone to believe that life is inviolable from the moment of conception, and that abortion therefore constitutes a form of murder. Others insist that the U.S. Constitution is immutable and must be protected at all costs.

Radicalized members of the Right have, in rare instances, already acted on these beliefs in extreme fashion: the 2014 Las Vegas Shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and various attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics all come to mind. Significantly, all of these events involved fringe right-wing individuals and groups acting independently — without a mainstream justification for their actions. But how many more Robert Lewis Dears and Timothy McVeighs might we see, were the Left’s stance on violent protest to become widely adopted on the Right?

9. So, what happened to social distancing? John Hirschauer asks and answers. From the piece:

Those who protested the lockdown regime were ridiculed. Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan said that anti-lockdown protests came “at a cost to people’s health.” Michigan nurses stood in front of protesters’ cars with folded arms, leering on in contempt. As hordes of looters and rioters turned to the streets, however, NPR informed us that “dozens of public health and disease experts have signed an open letter in support of the nationwide anti-racism protests.” Nurses in New York stood outside a hospital and cheered as protesters, some of whom were unmasked, packed together like sardines and marched through the streets to protest police brutality. The chair of the New York City Council’s health committee, Mark Levine, says that “if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks,” we ought not to “blame the protesters. Blame racism.”

If we shouldn’t “blame” them, then we ought not “blame” the regular people who break quarantine to mourn their dead. If it’s true, as the experts told us, that the virus does not discriminate, and does not care how trying your personal circumstances are, then the virus certainly does not care about how unjust the Minneapolis police department may be. If no “open letter” of apology from the “medical community” is forthcoming to the bereaved who stared at their casketed relative on an iPad, the least that those officials can do is admit that they never really cared about the lockdowns at all.

10. Yuval Levin scores the evils of mobocracy and lawlessness. From the essay:

In recent days, my mind has turned to Abraham Lincoln—maybe the greatest of the great-souled Americans. I’ve thought of him not only because he thought and acted with such moral clarity regarding the evil of racism and the inhumanity of slavery, but also because he understood that no just society was possible without respect for basic social order. He knew there was an ideal of justice above the law, and he knew that it could only be respected and put into effect through the law, not around it. Early in his life, he raised the alarm about what he called a “mobocratic spirit”—and he laid out its meaning in terms that help us to see its dangers not only in rioting and looting but also in lawless policing and in failures of leadership that undermine our solidarity.

In 1838, when he was 28 years old, Lincoln delivered a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, on “the perpetuation of our political institutions,” in which he expressed alarm about the dangers of mob rule. “Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times,” he said. “They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana.”

We incline to worry about angry mobs out of fear that they will harm the innocent, but Lincoln argued that even when their cause is understandable (even when, as in one of his examples, they are rightly livid at “the perpetration of an outrageous murder”), their lawlessness is a grave danger, because they ultimately liberate “the lawless in spirit…to become lawless in practice,” and then leave good citizens with no choice but to become lawless in their own defense. “Such are the effects of mob law; and such as the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order,” Lincoln said. And then he reached for his core concern:

By the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the People.

11. Hong Kong ain’t dead yet, argue Yang Jianli and Aaron Rhodes. From the analysis:

With China facing its worst economic performance in 50 years, the CCP’s unforced errors have crippled China and the markets upon which it depends. In a corner, like a defensive wild beast, the regime has reacted with irrational aggression, confirming that its leadership exists in a bubble of denial. Xi Jinping thinks China’s post-modern, narrative-bending propaganda can reverse the pandemic’s damage to China’s legitimacy in the minds of both its own people and the world’s. He believes China can silence its critics by threats. And he thinks China’s illegal crackdown will force Hong Kongers into submission, rescuing his legacy.

But it won’t. Hong Kong is not dead, and we need only look back toward Tiananmen to see why. After 1989, heroes such as Liu Xiaobo and many others emerged despite an arbitrarily enforced “National Security Law,” revealing by their courage and sacrifices the immorality and fraudulence of the Chinese Communist regime. The people of Hong Kong are better equipped, spiritually, politically, and materially, as well as internationally, than the 1989 generation of human-rights dissidents (including one of us, Yang Jianli).

Unlike the mainlanders, the people of Hong Kong have lived in freedom, under the rule of law, and in a polity close to a democracy. They have a better understanding of, and treasure more, a life of freedom and dignity. Backing down before Chinese Communist Party pressure would mean the end of their way of life, the end of their unique and cherished identity and community, and indeed, a kind of spiritual death. They are ready to sacrifice their lives to avoid this.

12. Rong Xiaoqing explains why some Tiananmen protestors are supporting Donald Trump. From the commentary:

The deep anger and resentment directed at the CCP is generating Trump support among the Tiananmen protesters. Many support his trade war against China and his attempts to punish Beijing for concealing information about the coronavirus when it first emerged. They also defend his description of COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus,” saying the moniker is reasonable given the provocative claim by Chinese government spokesperson Zhao Lijian that the American military brought the virus to Wuhan.

“Many American politicians are too close to Beijing. Finally, we got Trump, who is vehemently anti-the Communist Party,” said Chen, 62, who voted for Trump in 2016. She had voting for Obama in 2012, soon after becoming an American citizen. “Trump represents my values better.” She said that she’ll vote for him again this year even though she is living on welfare payments as a disabled person and might typically expect to have more protection from a Democratic president.

Wang Juntao — labeled by Beijing as one of the “black hand” masterminds behind the Tiananmen student movement and sentenced to 13 years in prison — has also been gravitating toward Trump, though he is still not a U.S. citizen and therefore cannot vote. “I wouldn’t have voted for him in 2016, but I would now,” said Wang, who was released and came to the U.S. after pressure on Beijing by the Clinton administration in 1994.

Now 62 and armed with a master’s degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia, he is still campaigning for democracy in China from his base in New York. He is concerned, though, that some dissidents are relying too much on Trump. “They need a hero to fight against the Communist Party. And they project their hope on Trump. But the American president’s job is not to fight against China,” he said.

13. Victor Davis Hanson lays out the paradoxical Joe Biden’s ten “Jiujutsu Commandments,” From the article, we share two:

I may show cognitive disabilities during the campaign, but therein I am allowed to dish it out without commensurately being dished. If you think it is cruel and insensitive to caricature or even note my mental confusion as I go on offense, then please keep quiet while I continue my attacks.

Overlook my handsy habits, gaffes, biographical lies, and racialist commentaries because I, at the eleventh hour, am the only vehicle left by which progressive ideas can take over the White House.

14. When lefty governors and mayors get around to slowly undoing the lockdown, left out in the cold are churchgoers. Alexandra DeSanctis reports on the nefarious actions happening in Madison, Wis. From the piece:

Religious leaders in Madison, Wis., have written to local officials, calling its reopening policy unconstitutional and a “discriminatory restriction.” The letter asks that the City of Madison and Dane County COVID-19 regulations be revised to apply to houses of worship the same way they apply to other organizations and businesses.

In a letter on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Madison, several attorneys outline how local authorities are applying reopening rules unequally in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns, targeting places of worship with stricter policies than those applied to other public activities. This, they argue, “treats religious interests unequally and unfairly.”

The letter notes that the local reopening plan subjects “the routine operations of houses of worship—and of no other category of organization—to a ‘Mass Gathering’ limit of 50 persons.” Meanwhile,

retail stores, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, offices, factories, gyms, salons, tattoo parlors, spas, dog parks, contact sports, trampoline parks, movie theaters, museums, hotels, community centers, car washes—the list goes on—are all permitted to open and conduct “everyday operations” at 25 percent of their certified occupancy but without a generally applicable and blanket numerical cap.

15. Is the Universal Basic Income here? Jerry Bowyer and Charles Bowyer urge conservatives not to fool themselves about what we’ve just done under the name of stimulus. From the piece:

In a few short months, we went from UBI (the idea of giving almost every adult citizen a check) being an idea favored only at the margins to its being the official policy of a Republican administration backed by a Republican-controlled Senate.

The counterargument is clear. These are extreme times. This is not UBI but merely a temporary support measure for working families in exceptional circumstances. It is an argument that might have more force had not conservative political parties in the Western world found it so difficult to rein in an expanding welfare state that can no longer be afforded, something that became all too obvious in the battles over “austerity” after the European debt crisis.

Since America’s current “UBI” was promoted as an essential element in a stimulus program, it seems reasonable to assume that, whatever is being said to the contrary, it will be more difficult to end it until the economy gets strong enough to no longer need stimulus. The list of temporary spending programs instituted during a crisis but later discontinued is distressingly short.

Fearing the electoral consequences of challenging this regime, many conservative parties of the Western world seem to have given up on the task of decreasing the size of government. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has made protecting the U.K.’s public health-care system one of the cornerstones of his government.

The Trump administration has signed relief plans totaling over $2 trillion, in an environment where were already spending $4.45 trillion a year. The small-government that once defined conservative politics appears to have fallen out of fashion.

The June 22, 2020, Issue of Your Favorite Magazine Has the Red China Threat in the NR Crosshairs

It is off the presses and, as we speak, in the mail (although, we really aren’t speaking are we?), but each and every brilliant word of it is available to you right now if you have an NRPLUS membership. As is our custom, we share four pieces from the June 20, 2020, issue that we’re confident will put more snapper in your whipper. Or is it whipper in your snapper?

1. Oh my. It is a colossal and brilliant analysis — a “Special Report” by Nicholas Eberstadt and Daniel Blumenthal — of the threat Red China poses to the international order, and how America has spent the past four decades empowering this Communist state. From the essay:

As is increasingly understood in the United States and abroad, the Chinese government and its agents bear a terrible and immediate responsibility for conduct that turned a localized contagion into a global pandemic. But the COVID-19 disaster could not have devastated America and the world as it is now doing if China were still an impoverished, isolated Maoist The world is suffering a planetary plague because China today is deeply integrated into the world economy, and into the institutions of global governance as well—even though it is ruled by a dictatorship whose values, priorities, and objectives are fundamentally incompatible with those of the liberal international order.

It was not by accident or happenstance that China became a major player in the world economy and, more broadly, in the liberal international order that the United States was instrumental in fashioning. That outcome, rather, is largely a result of concerted American policy.

For four decades, the United States has pursued a deliberate and explicit strategy, reaffirmed by innumerable public and private decisions under both Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses, to “engage China” and enmesh that enormous country in “globalization,” the free world’s great webs of commerce, communications, travel, education, research, and culture.

For many long years, this strategy, though not without critics, was widely regarded as a triumph of American statecraft. For a generation and more, the policy of “engaging” China paid handsome and obvious dividends, both financial and geopolitical. Indeed, the engagement policy appeared to be a monumental win-win. Not only did China turn away from the revolutionary hostility that had characterized its international conduct in the Maoist era, but its outward-oriented economic policies and more pragmatic domestic practices unleashed an extraordinary domestic boom. China’s remarkable economic transformation not only dramatically reduced poverty at home. It also generated prosperity for trading partners around the world.

2. Kevin Williamson looks at the history of American riots in the last half century, and sees destruction and sanctimony. From the end of the piece:

If the riots we are seeing now are meant to effect positive change for African Americans in Minneapolis and other cities, they are unlikely to succeed. Governor Brown’s free school lunches are not going to get it done. In Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, etc., Democrats and progressives have had something very close to an unbroken monopoly on political power for decades. Minneapolis hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the Eisenhower years. There are no Republicans on the Minneapolis city council, and there hasn’t been one in decades. Democrats have unimpeded political power in Minneapolis and many other cities, and it shows. They may have added free breakfasts to the free lunches, but the blood on the streets suggests that progressivism isn’t getting it done.

If the riots are not about poverty and police procedures—if John S. Hampton had it right back in 1967—then they should be understood mainly as expressive. If there is a cure for the “powerlessness which black people feel in an alien white society,” it is not to be found in legislation or in more-generous health-insurance subsidies. How much worse are the rioters willing to make things for—if not themselves, exactly, then the communities they purport to represent? The answer in the 1960s was: a lot worse. Detroit and Newark were more or less ruined and have never really recovered. New York City was essentially bankrupt and literally powerless (the looting of 1977 was occasioned by a blackout) and foundered for years until the administration of Rudolph Giuliani, who used to be known as a successful mayor before he signed on as Donald Trump’s very dull hatchet man. Reducing Minneapolis to a smoking ruin is not going to improve the life of a single black family—but if it makes some college kids feel better . . .

3. Jay Nordlinger rides out the pandemic in the belly of the beast — Manhattan. From the essay:

Trader Joe’s, like other stores, allows only a small number of people in at a time. There are long lines outside Trader Joe’s, made all the longer by social distancing: The standers are six feet apart. I thought of GUM, the old department store in the Soviet Union, outside of which people spent huge chunks of their lives, standing, waiting.

I was in another store—Jubilee Market Place—in the checkout line. I was keeping my distance, I thought. But the elderly woman in front of me turned and said, with a shaky, urgent voice, “You’re too close.” I apologized and backed off (way, way off, so you could hardly tell I was in line). I try to cut people slack. There is a lot of fear in the air. And people, for the most part, have been patient and kind.

“That’s when you have to worry,” said a friend of mine. “When New Yorkers are being patient and kind, there’s serious trouble afoot.”

I have come to love the young cashiers at Rite Aid, Pinkberry, and other places. I see them almost every day. They are behind plastic partitions, working their tails off, scrubbing their hands, putting up with all manner of customer weirdness and nervousness. We have formed something like a bond. I feel quasi-parental toward them.

In the beginning, the only restaurant open, within blocks of me, was a pizzeria. You could not dine in, but you could take out, or have the pizza delivered. The place was operating 24/7. As I watched them, the workers seemed well-nigh heroic. Were they foolhardy? Were we, who patronized them?

Come to think of it, the McDonald’s next door to the pizza place never closed either. At least I don’t think it did. Maybe for a week or two, max. You can sooner take down the Statue of Liberty than you can the Golden Arches.

4. Daniel J. Mahoney reviews the Andrew Bacevich–edited Library of America collection, American Conservatism. He finds an overall good assemblage, but with undeniable issues. From the review:

Fitting selections from William F. Buckley Jr. and Whittaker Chambers are also included in this anthology. Chambers’s “Letter to My Children,” the opening section of his great 1952 memoir Witness, beautifully evokes the existential choice that modern man must make between human self-sovereignty, or self-deification, and deference to the sovereignty of the living God. No conservative or true ex-Communist, and Chambers was both if anyone was, can accept the Communist “vision of man without God.” To reject Communism, to truly reject it, is to recover the truth of the soul. For Chambers, the soul had its own logic, its own needs, its own integrity. The Communist who heard screams emanating from the secret-police torture chambers in Moscow in the 1930s broke with Communism because its logic of history and class consciousness could no longer efface the truth and needs of his soul. Chambers famously remarked that political freedom finally depends on “interior freedom,” on the soul as the defining mark of human dignity. For Chambers, political freedom is in the end “only a political reading of the Bible,” as he tells us near the beginning of Witness. Like the great Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn a generation after him, Chambers rejected a false humanism, an anthropocentric humanism, that warred on man even as it showed contempt for the divine ground of human existence. To reject totalitarian mendacity is to vindicate both God and man.

In his charming 1963 essay “Notes toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism,” Buckley credits Chambers with driving Ayn Rand and her Objectivist followers out of the conservative movement. Chambers saw a different kind of godlessness at work in Rand and her followers: a “materialism of technocracy” and limitless self-assertion, a contempt for charity and kindness toward the weak and vulnerable. Most strikingly, Buckley speaks of Rand’s “hard, schematic, implacable, unyielding dogmatism that is itself intrinsically objectionable, whether it comes from the mouth of Ehrenburg [a liberal but ultimately loyal Soviet writer], or Savonarola, or Ayn Rand.” Perfectly said. Buckley makes clear that the conservative need not be a religious believer. But active disdain for the religious sensibility, or the intimations of transcendence and the natural moral law available to human beings, are hardly compatible with a conservatism whose tenets certainly include an acute recognition that “man is not God.” Atheistic dogmatism, or what the 19th-century American Catholic man of letters Orestes Brownson called “political atheism,” has no place in conservatism, rightly understood.

Lights. Camera. Links!

1. Armond White reflects on the hits and, mostly, misses and legacy of Spike Lee’s 1989 film, Do the Right Thing. From the end of the piece:

Spike Lee has not yet made a film that comes close to explaining the festering anger that may define individual character. (Black Americans’ different ways of coping and persevering is August Wilson’s contribution to American literature.) Lee’s stump-speech movies merely specialize in the surface of complicated experience, which, as we now see, political opportunists can easily exploit. In light of recalling Do the Right Thing, one Twitter sage added: “Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians.”

Do the Right Thing’s legacy is based on exploiting racial disharmony and political disaster, which befits a misconceived cri de coeur. Today, Lee’s ideological knot puts a knot in one’s stomach. Looking for answers in that film does not help clarify this exasperating moment. For the liberal politicians who boast that they “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with protesters,” the advisory title Do the Right Thing proves to be an impossibility.

2. Jack Butler has made it his mission to defend the honor of LOST. From the piece:

Some of what the creators hoped for in LOST they simply could not do. One reason was its sheer popularity. In its first two seasons, LOST was one of the most-watched shows on television, helping to revive ABC’s reputation. Network brass would try to keep that going for as long as they could, forcing the showrunners to strike a tricky balance between keeping the network happy and satisfying their creative vision. As Lindelof said in a 2006 interview, “If we told them we could only do the show if we ended it after 100 episodes, they never would’ve agreed to it. And who could blame them?” LOST fans — and detractors — can see this tension most clearly during the third season, much of which is aimless in a way that lives down to criticism. But it also comes to reflect the finality the writers eventually procured from the network concerning how long the show would go, drawing to an exciting and propulsive climax. Even so, this forward momentum eventually confronted the television-wide Writers’ Guild strike of 2007–08, an exogenous event that resulted in a shortened fourth season. To the end, external factors inhibited the show. It seems unfair to knock a show excessively for such things.

It is more fair to knock it for what it did make up along the way. But even some of the things that were improvised made the show better. The character of Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) was originally written as a bit role but expanded as Emerson made the role his own, lasting until the show’s very end. Ditto the role of Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), who became one of the most important characters in the series. Likewise, the famous “Smoke Monster,” a malevolent, literally nebulous force that first appears in the very first episode, was originally planned to be a kind of mechanical creation; instead, it developed into an evil entity at the heart of the island’s significance. That some of these developments occurred over the course of LOST is not in itself a strike against them, as some helped the show become better than it otherwise might have been.

Podcastapalooza

1. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss Keith Ellison’s appointment to the George Floyd case, the new charges brought against the former police officers involved in his death, Tom Cotton’s New York Times op-ed, and much more. Listen here.

2. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the nationwide riots and lootings, the president’s poor performance during these outbreaks, and the hypocrisy surrounding the media’s coverage of the chaos. Listen here.

3. And then on another episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss James Mattis’s denunciation of Trump, the ridiculous outrage provoked by Tom Cotton’s NYT op-ed, and the double standard of health officials when it comes to the recent protests. Catch it here.

4. On The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by Paul Matzko to discuss his new book, The Radio Right. Slap in the ear buds and listen here.

5. Changing costumes, JJM is joined on The Great Books by Jessica Hooten Wilson of John Brown University to discuss Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Listen here.

6. Keeping with the one-term theme, on the new episode of Constitutionally Speaking, Luke and Jay consider POTUS 8, the “Red Fox of Kinderhook,” in the first of a two-part look at Martin van Buren. Put the kids to bed and listen here.

7. On Radio Free California, David and Will discuss California’s problem with bad cops (it isn’t that they’re racist, it’s that they’re protected), the push for affirmative action, and the slow coming of justice for an Orange County assemblyman who offered political favors in exchange for sex. Open up that Golden Gate . . . listen here.

8. On Episode 19 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses with his dimwit of a co-host his thoughts on Donald Trump’s announcement of military force to counter riots, the president’s lack of focus, the paradox that is Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo’s latest failures, Tucker Carlson’s clobbering of conservative morality lecturers, America’s standing in the world, and lefty media sanctimony. Find it here.

The Six

1. Heather Mac Donald at City Journal finds the collapse of the rule of law to be terrifying. From the piece:

The attacks on local law enforcement were already happening out of sight of TV cameras before the most photogenic scenes of arson and the stomping of squad cars started showing up on network and cable news. On Tuesday, May 26, and Wednesday, May 27, Chicago residents surrounded and threw bottles at Chicago Police Department officers trying to arrest gun suspects. One suspect was the likely perpetrator of a shooting that had just hit a five-year-old girl and two teenage boys. The other had just thrown his gun under a car; the cop-haters tried to free him from the squad car. No surprise that Saturday night, downtown Chicago was plundered.

This pandemic of civil violence is more widespread than anything seen during the Black Lives Matter movement of the Obama years, and it will likely have an even deadlier toll on law enforcement officers than the targeted assassinations we saw from 2014 onward. It’s worse this time because the country has absorbed another five years of academically inspired racial victimology. From Ta-Nehisi Coates to the New York Times’s 1619 project, the constant narrative about America’s endemic white supremacy and its deliberate destruction of the “black body” has been thoroughly injected into the political bloodstream.

Facts don’t matter to the academic victimology narrative. Far from destroying the black body, whites are the overwhelming target of interracial violence. Between 2012 and 2015, blacks committed 85.5 percent of all black-white interracial violent victimizations (excluding interracial homicide, which is also disproportionately black-on-white). That works out to 540,360 felonious assaults on whites. Whites committed 14.4 percent of all interracial violent victimization, or 91,470 felonious assaults on blacks. Blacks are less than 13 percent of the national population.

2. At The American Conservative, Ryan Girdusky looked into the White House’s weekend of dithering while mayors let their cities burn. From the report:

President Trump and many other Republican leaders condemned the murder of Floyd and demanded action against the police officers involved. In the days that followed, however, the White House felt absent in the national conversation. Protests turned to riots and cities like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta turned into war zones, yet the president was nowhere to be found. Outside of Twitter and the few remarks given by Trump during the SpaceX launch, the silence from the White House was deafening.

Sources inside the administration said that throughout the tumultuous weekend, the White House was running on a skeleton crew. Advisors Jared and Ivanka Kushner were celebrating a Jewish holiday, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was at his daughter’s wedding, other key members of the administration were out of state. While Washington burned, Trump was ushered into a bunker with the few aides that were by his side, including Dan Scavino.

On Thursday, Kushner and his allies, Brooke Rollins and Ja’ron Smith told the White House and the campaign that they shouldn’t discuss the riots in overtly negative terms because it could harm the campaign’s efforts at coalition-building with the black community. They insisted the whole thing would eventually blow over.

With no team and no plan, Trump took to Twitter, demanding that mayors and governors take more action. Writers and media personalities from nearly every conservative outlet tweeted, “where is Trump?” Presidential sycophants, many of whom campaigned against the president in the 2016 primary, tried to calm the growing chorus of concerns. Their reasoning ranged from there was nothing he could do, the optics would be bad, and this will help him in November. Yet as the days mounted and the riots spread to every major American city, it became glaringly obvious that the situation was only becoming worse and the president was missing in action. It seemed that the president was just tweeting as America burned.

3. On his blog, Matt Taibbi documents the left’s censorship attack on Michael Moore for his calling–B.S. documentary, Planet of the Humans. From the piece:

Environmentalists denounced the film as riddled with “lies” and “misinformation,” claiming among other things that Moore used old data to discredit green technology. A campaign to remove the film from circulation immediately took shape.

“Within 24 hours of it going out on YouTube, people got to work on trying to take the film down,” explains Moore. He immediately started hearing about emails denouncing the film that were being circulated to what seemed like “everyone on the left.”

An “action letter” composed by environmentalist Josh Fox was circulated, describing the film as “dangerous, misleading, and destructive” and demanding an “immediate retraction.” Films for Action, an online archive of progressive movies, initially bent to Fox’s demands by taking the film out of its library, only to put it back up a half-day later out of a desire to avoid a “messy debate about censorship.”

An intense campaign of editorials followed, and a roughly month later, YouTube actually removed the film. The platform cited a four-second piece of footage shot by filmmaker Toby Smith that supposedly was a copyright infringement. Moore, who says all his films are “heavily lawyered,” insists the footage was legal under Fair Use laws, which allow the use of portions of copyrighted work without the permission of the owner. (In one of many ironies, Fair Use laws have long been celebrated by progressives as an invaluable tool for journalists and artists).

The significance of the Moore incident is that it shows that a long-developing pattern of deletions and removals is expanding. The early purges were mainly of small/fringe voices on either the far right or far left, or infamously fact-challenged personalities like Alex Jones. The removal of a film by Moore – a heavily-credentialed figure long revered by the liberal mainstream – takes place amid a dramatic acceleration of such speech-suppression incidents, many connected to the coronavirus disaster.

4. In Public Discourse, Carson Holloway considers Pierre Manents’ important new book, Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason. From the review:

As Manent observes, the origins of the modern idea of human rights can be traced back to the radical and daring intellectual experiment undertaken by the sixteenth and seventeenth century pioneers of modern political philosophy. This experiment was performed with the greatest clarity, consistency, and ruthlessness by Thomas Hobbes, to whom Manent pays special attention. Human beings, as we ordinarily and perhaps even universally encounter them, live under some system of law. Nevertheless, modern political philosophers, such as Hobbes, finding the then-prevailing system of law confused and inadequate, undertook to tear law down and rebuild it from the ground up, so to speak. They postulated a “state of nature,” a pre-political state in which all human beings are equal and free, and they sought to base their political teaching on that allegedly original and natural human condition. In other words, according to Manent, they tried to strip law entirely away from man and then restore law on a more solid foundation, or on what they thought was a more solid foundation—the desire of each person to be safe from the personal danger that necessarily accompanies the lack of law.

Such a radical undertaking was bound to have momentous and grave consequences. The modern theorists of the state of nature wanted to correct a source of confusion and instability in the law of their time—the conflict between political and religious law. They ultimately succeeded, however, only in introducing a new and perhaps worse form of confusion and instability. Having taught human beings that they are by nature utterly free, that there is no natural law constraining their naturally limitless “rights” to freedom of action, what do you get?

If you teach human beings to assert their rights, but deny any natural standards by which to judge the rightness of their actions, you unleash an endless quest for rights not governed by any intelligible principle—a quest that sows confusion at all levels of society. You get governments that try to advance and regulate the explosion of rights, but with no clear conception of any authoritative common good for their citizens. You get social institutions that can no longer regard their purposes as in any way authoritative and therefore have to succumb to demands for individual rights that are not compatible with the flourishing or even the existence of such institutions. Finally, you get individuals who seem to be free, and who demand ever more freedom, but who have no idea what to do with their freedom and who in fact end up lacking the truest kind of freedom. They are dominated by their passions, because they have no conception of an authoritative practical reason in light of which they can judge some of their passions as more worthy than others. They are free to the extent that the external obstacles to their passions have been removed, but they are not free to act responsibly in light of their reason—which is to say that they lack the freedom to lead an authentically human life.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern explains how the EU places a higher principle on trade with Red China than on the freedom of Hong Kong-ers. From the article:

Germany, which takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1, has announced that it will prioritize relations with China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is particularly determined to proceed with a major EU-China summit to be held in the German city of Leipzig in September. She is reportedly under intense pressure from German automobile manufacturers, who are concerned about maintaining their access to the Chinese market.

The continued cowardice of European leaders is a reflection not only of Europe’s geopolitical weakness and economic overdependence on China, but also of a moral vacuum in which they refuse to stand up for Western values.

In April, European officials caved in to pressure from China and watered down an EU report on Chinese efforts to deflect blame for the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks later, the EU Ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapuis, allowed the Chinese government to edit an op-ed article signed by him and the 27 Ambassadors of EU member states, to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China.

The EU authorized the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remove references to the origins and the spread of the coronavirus from the article, published in China Daily, an English-language daily newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China.

6. At First Things, George Weigel says the Vatican has to make a choice, between (Catholic!) Hong Kong businessman and freedom activist Jimmy Lai or Red China regime boss Xi Jinping. From the piece:

In mid-May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping unveiled a plan to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and impose draconian new “national security” laws on the former British colony. Putatively intended to defend Hong Kong from “secessionists,” “terrorists,” and “foreign influence,” these new measures are in fact designed to curb the brave men and women of Hong Kong’s vibrant pro-democracy movement, who have been aggravating the Beijing totalitarians for a long time. With the world distracted by the Wuhan virus (which the Chinese government’s clumsiness and prevarication did much to globalize), the ever-more-brutal Xi Jinping regime evidently thinks that this is the moment to crack down even harder on those in Hong Kong who cherish freedom and try to defend it.

This latest display of Beijing’s intent to enforce communist power in Hong Kong coincides with the most recent persecution of my friend, Jimmy Lai.

Jimmy and I have only met once. But I have long felt a kinship with this fellow Catholic, a convert who first put his considerable wealth to work in support of important Catholic activities and who is now risking all in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Arrested in February, and then again in April, Jimmy Lai has been charged with helping organize and lead “unauthorized protests.” That he was in the front ranks of pro-democracy demonstrations is true. The question is, why do the Chinese communists regard peaceful protest in support of freedoms Beijing solemnly promised to protect as treasonous?

BONUS: At The American Spectator, my pal Anne Hendershott bemoans the meaning behind NYPD officers forced to take a knee. It ain’t about solidarity. From the piece:

Taking the knee was always a protest against the police. This is why it is so disturbing for the many good police officers who know that their fellow officers are equally committed to protecting and serving the public. Taking the knee to protest their fellow officers is anathema to good police officers. They understand that the horrific treatment afforded to George Floyd was an aberration and they are disgusted by it. But to take a knee that suggests systemic racism within the NYPD is a bridge too far for many in the rank and file.

Unfortunately, the status degradation ceremonies for police officers continue to escalate throughout the five boroughs of New York City and in other parts of the country. On Sunday in Foley Square, hundreds of protesters chanted “NYPD, take a knee” until the uniformed NYPD police officers gave in to their demands. Those officers unwilling to participate in the new street theater are derided while those who take the knee are cheered.

Much of this recalls Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities — a satirical novel of racial politics in New York City in the 1980s. Often described as that decade’s defining novel, it offered a scathing portrayal of the racial power struggles permeating the city at the time. Wolfe’s brilliant satire skewered the rich, portrayed a corrupt legal system that was up for sale, and presented a cast of pandering politicians and community activists more interested in helping themselves than helping the poor. The police officers in the novel are portrayed primarily as good men just trying to do their job, but their police department was also held captive to craven politicians and prosecutors. One of the main characters in the book, Reverend Bacon, spends most of his time shaking down rich white power brokers and philanthropists — telling them that money going to his organization is an investment in “steam control” of black anger.

BONUS BONUS: At The Spectator, Damian Thompson figures that BLM is a religion for woke whites. Read it here.

Baseballery

Seventy years ago this week, the Boston Red Sox engaged in one the National Pastime’s great expositions of offense, worth remembering because, well, that’s what we do in this here section. 1950 was, of course, a Yankee year — part of the Bronx Bombers’ 1949–1953 arch of pennants and World Championships — but it was a close thing as they battled Boston and Detroit down the stretch for the pennant.

The Red Sox may have finished in third place, four games behind the Yankees, but when it came to run production, Boston ruled the American League: The Bosox scored 1,027 runs, clobbered 161 home runs, and had a team batting average of .302.

Of those runs, a tenth came in that one-week stretch in early June, with the Sox taking two games each from Cleveland, Chicago, and the St. Louis Browns, scoring 104 runs as they took six of seven games.

It all began with a fury on a Friday night game at Fenway Park, with Indians ace Bob Feller facing Ted Williams and his comrades. It did not go well for Rapid Robert: He pitched but 2/3 of an inning and gave up 6 runs and took the loss as the Sox prevailed, 11–5.

The offensive muscle flexing continued, the next day, this time against Cleveland righthander Mike Garcia: Like Feller the day before, he could not get out of the First, and indeed, could not even get an out, as six Red Sox crossed home plate on the way to an 11–9 victory.

Exit Cleveland, enter Chicago: To Fenway came the White Sox, who on a June 4 affair found their Sunday prayers falling on deaf divine ears. Unable to quell the Boston bats, a quartet of White Sox pitchers gave up 21 hits and 9 walks, and Boston enjoyed a 17–7 victory. More home-team double digits followed at a packed Fenway the next night: A crowd of 29,372 saw Mickey McDermott relieve sore-shouldered starter pitcher Ellis Kinder with one out in the top of the First, and hold Chicago to four measly hits and no runs, while another quartet of White Sox pitchers allowed a dozen Red Sox runs — all but one at the expense of starter Billy Pierce.

But the White Sox refused to be swept: On a June 6 afternoon contest at Fenway, White Sox starter Ken Holcombe pitched a complete-game 8–4 victory, behind four Chicago home runs.

Then came the St. Louis Browns, who would take the greatest of whuppings. In fact, two whuppings. It began innocently enough: On Wednesday afternoon, the Browns notched two runs in the top of the first off Sox starter Joe Dobson. In the bottom of the frame, the Red Sox did the Browns one better, and then in the third came the deluge: seven more runs. And another ten after that, thanks to 23 hits, five of them homers, and seven walks. When Dick Kokos flied out to end the beatdown, the final score stood at 20-4. If you didn’t think it could get worse for the Browns, well . . .

The next day — a Thursday afternoon, before an impish crowd of 5,105 Boston fans, in a game that took but 2 hours and 42 minutes to cram in all that would be crammed — the Red Sox lashed 28 hits, took eleven walks, banged seven home runs (two each by the Splendid Splinter and Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo, and three by Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, who had eight RBIs to Dropo’s seven). The final score was 29–4.

That set an MLB record for most runs in a game by one team. Soon enough it was tied: On April 23, 1955, in Kansas City, the White Sox would pummel the Athletics, 29–6.

Cool facts: Dropo, now playing for Chicago, would hit a homer in that game too, while Sherm Lolllar, who caught for the Browns in the epic 1950 game, went five for six, with two homers and five RBIs, for the White Sox.

Back to 1950, and of double-digiting note: Its capacity for bullying having been spent, the Red Sox lost the ensuing two games after their 29-run performance. Badly. The Browns would take the third game at Fenway by a 12–7 margin, and then the Tigers pulled into Boston for a three-game set, which they swept, with the first victory an 18–8 drubbing.

A Dios

Your Humble Correspondent had asked for prayers recently for a young man, ravaged with cancer – the report on initial treatment is quite good, the doctors saying to family, whatever you are doing, keep doing it. Extending that directive to WJ friends who care enough to read until the end of this eyeball pilgrimage, please, if you can spare such, add another prayer for his cure.

And then a prayer maybe not only for the protection of America, but also for the confounding of its enemies, foreign and domestic, of which there are many, driven by their hatred of our Republic’s principles.

God’s Love and Blessings on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who awaits mockery and castigations directed to his inbox, can be reached via jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: The production values are, to say the least, minimal, but Panic in the Year Zero in not a bad way to spend an hour and a half (Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, and Frankie Avalon headline the cast). You can watch it here.

National Review

From a Feint into a Slip, and Kicking from the Hip

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Let us get right to the red meat. As in Red meat. Zach Evans this week penned a marvelous exposé of the former Democratic senator from Montana, Max Baucus, who followed his years of liberal legislating by being Barrack’s Man in Beijing. Oh, the friends Ambassador Baucus made there, and oh, the friends he maintains there: Max is now doing the ChiComs’ dirty work on the Wuhan Virus, telling PRC state television that Donald Trump is akin to . . . wait for it . . . Adolf Hitler. There’s a word for what Baucus is, and it ain’t shill. (Not that, to quote Joe Biden, he ain’t.) From the piece:

The media appearances raise the question of why an American citizen with a long and distinguished career in government has gotten cozy with Chinese propagandists. An answer is hinted at in a 2013 comment by Russ Sullivan, a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Finance Committee that Baucus chaired, who at that time told the Wall Street Journal that the senator held a kind of fascination with the country.

“There were times when I said, Senator, I know you love China, but we need to allocate appropriate time vis-à-vis the time you spend on China and trade issues versus what you spend on [other issues],” Sullivan said, adding that Baucus did not heed his advice. Sullivan said that Baucus’s interest in China was noted in other quarters: “If you were in the multinational business community interested in China, you knew Max Baucus was going over there.”

In the wake of his long political career, Baucus has parlayed his familiarity with China into number of lucrative business roles. According to Baucus’s biography on the website of the University of Montana’s Max Baucus Institute, the former senator sat on the Board of Advisers to Alibaba Group until May 2019. He currently runs a consulting firm, Baucus Group LLC, which advises American and Chinese businesses. (The firm does not appear to have a website or readily available contact information.) The former ambassador also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Ingram Micro, an information technology company based in Irvine, Calif., that in 2016 was acquired by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. Amid financial woes in 2018, HNA director and founder Chen Feng said the company would “consciously safeguard the Communist Party’s central authority with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core” and “unswervingly follow the party.” The conglomerate has been completely taken over by the Chinese government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Baucus has managed to keep one foot in government: until July 2019, he served on the External Advisory Board to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Baucus’s sympathy for Beijing surfaced often during his political career. In the mid 1990s, he was among the leading Democratic supporters of increased trade with China, and he advocated delinking the issues of human rights and trade in American policy on China. At the time, the U.S. gave most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status to China, meaning it considered China one of its top trading partners, but Washington annually threatened to revoke the designation because of the Chinese government’s human-rights abuses. Baucus argued that revoking MFN status for China would be counterproductive, because tariffs on Chinese goods would immediately rise and trade with the country would be curtailed.

Now, if you thought this missive’s subject line was from “Kung Fu Fighting,” you’d be right. And yes, the ChiComs are kicking the people of Hong Kong. And worse. They merit our attention and support. More on that, and on much more else, is to be found below.

Editorials

1. America needs to do whatever it can to help the people of Hong Kong push back against Red China’s brutish and brutal regime. From the editorial:

We obviously also need a strategy to combat Chinese belligerence elsewhere. Control of Hong Kong is only one step in China’s quest to “occupy a central position in the world,” as Chinese president Xi Jinping has put it. The Hong Kong security law coincides with increasingly aggressive naval exercises in the South and East China Seas and a sudden military buildup on the Sino–Indian border. The Chinese have also made clear their intention to annex Taiwan, and show no signs of rolling back their programs of industrial espionage and anti-competitive trade practices. The White House must resist China on all fronts.

The administration should mobilize our allies in the fight. As Pompeo made his announcement, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the European Union has a “great strategic interest” in cooperating with China. Neither have the British, who designed the transfer of Hong Kong, shown much interest in pushing back on Chinese aggression. European leaders are enticed by the economic benefits of cooperating with Beijing, and it will require a deft diplomatic touch to persuade them to take a more strategically sound posture.

Hong Kong is the last redoubt of freedom and decency in China’s contiguous territory. The White House should do everything reasonably within its power to try to safeguard it.

2. A horrible thing happened in Minneapolis, with more terrible things in response. We decry the destruction — of a life, of property. From the editorial:

There is no sign that the authorities are dragging their feet. The day after Floyd’s death, all four officers were fired, and the FBI launched an investigation. The mayor and the chief of police denounced what happened. If the facts are as bad as they appear in the videos, the officers — or at least the lead officer — would seem to have little defense.

Yet, while the wheels of justice are moving swiftly, that has not prevented opportunists from erupting into riots, looting, and arson. Sacking a Target for televisions and burning down local businesses is no way to get justice for anyone. It is, instead, likely to add to the misery of people living on the margins and already hard-hit by the shutdown of the economy. It is also not recommended social distancing. No excuses should be made, or accepted, for theft and destruction. The police and the National Guard can and should restore order, which is itself a precondition of justice.

3. The President’s conspiracy tweets about Joe Scarborough are grotesque. From the editorial:

Trump is clearly driven by his desire to say the most malicious and painful things he can about Scarborough, to take revenge for the former congressman’s now obsessively anti-Trump morning program. The president maintains he doesn’t watch, although this is plainly untrue. The collateral damage is the family of Lori Klausutis, who had to endure her sudden loss and now watch helplessly as the president pushes a deception about her death for his own petty purposes.

It’s unworthy of a partisan blogger, let alone the president of the United States.

4. If there is a cure for the President’s accusatory tweets (or anything similar from anyone else), it’s not to be found in regulations or in diktats but in an individual’s control of behavior. From the editorial:

Not one of these courses of action is desirable. Twitter is a medium, not a message, and it should decline to inject itself into the middle of America’s political debates. President Trump cannot “close down” social media, and he should not idly threaten to do so. And, pace Senator Hawley, user-driven websites are not being “subsidized” by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the “provider or user of an interactive computer service” from being treated as the “publisher” of opinions whether or not he has not reviewed them. It is Section 230, by way of example, that prevents Joe Scarborough from being able to sue Twitter when one its members engages in a libel. Section 230 has been maligned lately, but we have yet to see any proposal that would be likely to improve it.

Time was when the obvious response to reprehensible behavior was admonition. The root cause of the mess we are witnessing today is not Twitter’s bias or legislative favoritism, and it is most certainly not that the president lacks the power to suspend the First Amendment. Rather, it is that the president lacks the power to control his own urges. What needs changing is the behavior of the man who sits at the heart of all of our national conversations, both good and ill.

5. The Republican to take Oregon’s senatorial primary is one Jo Ray Perkins, a “Q-Anon” advocate. Yikes. From the editorial:

QAnon originated on an anonymous message board in late 2017 amid the uncertainty surrounding the Mueller investigation. A person calling himself “Q” and claiming to be a high-ranking official in the Trump administration began posting cryptic messages that weaved together numerology, close readings of Trump Twitter posts, and vague talk of a coming “storm.” It was said that Robert Mueller was secretly working with the president to conduct an investigation into a sinister cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles led by Democrats and elite business figures. It was predicted that martial law was imminent, and that Mueller would soon hand down indictments against Hillary Clinton. The theory took on a life of its own and attracted hundreds of thousands of adherents. It eventually crossed that fateful conspiracy-theory threshold past which absence of evidence for a claim becomes proof of a coverup.

QAnon is a story of exploitation, in which some digitally literate person (or group of people) strings along the gullible with a fanciful story, inviting them to work together to decode clues and discuss lore. It is also a story of radicalization, in which skepticism about the Mueller investigation or distrust of political institutions mutates into a fantasy world where the American elite is full of Jeffrey Epsteins. We don’t know whether Perkins is a cynic or a true believer, but whatever the case, she should be shunned and repudiated.

A Score of Essential Reads, So Get Clicking and Get Reading. Oh, We Forgot to Say . . . Please.

1. Bump this guy to the head of the line: Our old colleague Nat Brown shares thoughts on Hong Kong’s ominous future. From the piece:

From the day the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which stipulated the terms of the handover, was signed in 1984, Hong Kong’s fate as a future Chinese territory was already a settled fact, even if July 1, 1997, was over a decade away. When the handover did happen, and the Union Jack was lowered in the territory for the last time, the city knew its SAR status, which guaranteed freedoms of speech, assembly, the press, an independent judiciary, and other rights that didn’t exist for citizens on the mainland, also came with an expiration date — this time in 2047, when Hong Kong’s autonomous status was set to end.

Of course, far fewer than 50 years would elapse before Beijing and its loyalists in control of the local government began attempts to chip away at these rights and the autonomy supposedly protected under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the portion of Chinese law that functions as the city’s de facto constitution. Although the details of the new national-security law have yet to be revealed, most analysts believe it to be a variation on the national-security bill the Hong Kong government introduced in 2003. That legislation was intended to fulfill the controversial Article 23, the so-called National Security Provision of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which stated that the city would, of its own accord, pass legislation to “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, [or] subversion against the Central People’s Government.” The bill introduced into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council would have criminalized all the above acts and allowed warrantless police searches of those suspected of them. With fears that the law would be used to punish legitimate political dissent, the proposed legislation triggered massive protests, was quickly withdrawn, and until now, neither the Hong Kong nor mainland government had ever attempted to introduce it again. That Beijing has now done so is the culmination of a troubling acceleration over the past two years of the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, to the point where the situation on the ground seems to change day by day.

For Western readers looking to get caught up on the political struggle for Hong Kong’s future, a good place to start is Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, a short book published in February. In fewer than 100 pages, Wasserstrom, a professor of History at UC Irvine, deftly takes the reader through a concise history of the territory, beginning with the British acquisition of Hong Kong Island in 1841 and continuing with the subsequent additions of surrounding territory to the colony, all the way through to Hong Kong’s post–World War II boom as a center of international finance and its status as a SAR of China today. His focus, however, is on the protests of 2019, and to a lesser extent on the Umbrella Movement protests of 2014. Core to both was the question of the nature of the city’s relationship to Beijing.

2. Michael Brendan Dougherty says that the time has come for America to mount the ramparts on behalf of the freedom-lovers of Hong Kong. From the piece:

From the Belt and Road initiative across Eurasia, to Huawei’s efforts to muscle in on 5G networks across Europe and the world, to China’s privileged position in Apple’s supply chain, Beijing consistently forces some version of this choice between material comfort and political freedom on others. Try to convince yourself that Chairman Xi doesn’t smile knowing that Apple CEO Tim Cook freely criticizes religious-freedom laws in the United States, but remains silent while the Chinese government rotates persecuted and interned Uighur Muslims into the factories of Apple’s subcontractors.

Hong Kongers have fought Beijing’s efforts valiantly. They turned back previous CCP attempts to consolidate power in 2003, in 2014, and last year. So we shouldn’t accept that Beijing’s subversion of Hong Kong is a fait accompli.

Well-intentioned proposals to open our countries to Hong Kongers and inflict brain drain on Hong Kong are premature and perhaps unwise. They would hurt those left behind in the city as much as dramatic trade actions would. Diplomatic efforts, meanwhile, need to focus on detaching European leaders from their long-standing hopes that China could serve as a welcome geopolitical counterweight to the U.S. Prime Minister Boris Johnson should be prodded — even shamed, if necessary — into doing his duty and standing by the terms of the 1997 handover. Angela Merkel and others should be reminded of the costs to native industry and political independence that deals with China carry. Coordinated efforts to stand up and even recapture key industries should be made by Western leaders so that their successors don’t have to make as many economically painful decisions in an effort to protect national sovereignty and political freedom.

3. Department of Sanctimony: David Bahnsen nails CNBC host Andrew Sorkin, virtue monopolist. From the commentary:

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s frustration over having missed so much of the post-COVID realities in markets and economic life boiled over this morning in one of the more outrageous outbursts I have ever witnessed on financial media. Perhaps this outburst was rivaled only by his behavior during the March COVID market swoon, in which he — on a daily basis — worked hard to terrify viewers, making the most outlandish predictions one can imagine — when he wasn’t defending billionaire hedge funders who had gone on the network to say “hell is coming” with a massive short bet on the market.

One of the things that made CNBC so good coming out of the dotcom bust was the unleashing of their on-air personalities to express market and even political viewpoints. Larry Kudlow and others frequently voiced a center-right, pro-markets view, while David Faber and others held a center-left, market-skeptical view. The interactions for years were mostly mature, professional, and well-reasoned, even as they exposed different approaches and economic worldviews.

What Sorkin did on CNBC throughout the COVID pandemic was not merely ideological — it was sensationalism taken to a level I never thought I would see on business media. And it proved to be divorced from reality.

4. Was there ever a cabal so self-righteous, so above the law? Victor David Hanson reflects on the Obama administration, and the former POTUS, reputations a tatter. From the essay:

The Obama-administration appeasement of China is over and in retrospect seen as disastrous. “Reset” with Russia was as mythical as Russian “collusion.” The much-heralded Asian “pivot” is a forgotten divot.

No one defends the Iran Deal much anymore, as Tehran struggles with sanctions, bankruptcy, a hostile Middle East, a suspect Chinese patron, the death of its terrorist master General Soleimani, popular unrest, and a COVID-19 mess. The idea of empowering the Iranian terrorist state and its appendages in Syria as a legitimate balance to Egypt, the moderate Gulf States, and even Israel was always unhinged. It was largely dreamed up by failed novelist Ben Rhodes, the organizer of the resistance foreign-policy shadow government that no one hears much about anymore.

Even the Arab world is relieved that Obama’s estrangement with Israel is over with. Whatever the Obama policy toward North Korea was, it was a prescription for nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. America met the Paris climate accord more effectively than most signees to the agreement, and through hated natural gas and not beloved wind and solar. The world did not end when the Golan Heights was not going to be given back to Assad’s Syria, or as the American Embassy moved to Jerusalem.

The epidemic put an end to lots of Obama lore. Secure borders are now the unquestioned consensus, not caravans blasting through rusty cyclone fences. Globalization is a synonym for Chinese hegemony. China is no longer a helpful partner in American efforts to address climate change and epidemics, as Obama once waxed. The interior of the country is no longer written off, and jobs will come back without a magic wand, and more so due to fear of current Chinese monopolies of essential U.S. goods. Obama hollowed out the U.S. military and saw it rebuilt by Donald Trump.

5. More MBD: He mocks the Orbán Haters, dead wrong on their charges of a Hungarian dictatorship. From the analysis:

It was on March 30th that the Hungarian Parliament approved a state-of-emergency law to deal with coronavirus that gave power to Viktor Orbán’s government to pass laws by decree, and instituted severe-looking restrictions on the dissemination of fake news. Several European countries had already passed enabling acts of this sort — France has seemed to go in and out of such states of emergency regularly in the last decade. That the emergency powers were a feature of Hungary’s existing constitution, limited by that constitution not to touch fundamental rights and subject to a parliamentary check, troubled none of these analysts.

At the time of this great panic for Hungarian democracy, Hungarian opponents of Orbán spread ludicrous and easily-checkable claims about the legislation, saying that the parliament itself had been suspended and elections cancelled, a claim spread by people as eminent as Anne Applebaum. Other experts told us confidently that these powers were gathered by Orbán for the purpose of suppressing the inevitably disastrous performance of his nation’s health-care institutions. American political strategists predicted extravagant things, such as: “He’s going to wind up putting Gypsies in permanent detention . . . ”

I predicted that Orbán would return the emergency powers back to Parliament roughly around the same time as France. This week, Hungary began the process, and all powers will be restored by June 20th. Currently, France’s emergency powers last until July 10th, but could be extended.

How did the predictions pan out? Hungary has seen just under 500 deaths out of slightly less than 3,500 cases, which, while serious, is nothing like the horrors visited upon Italy or Spain in recent months. Its hospital system, though far behind richer nations, did not break down.

6. Y’all Ain’t Better Not Read This: Kevin Williamson deciphers Joe Biden, pigmentation expert. From the essay:

When it comes to black voters, the best thing the Democratic Party has going for itself is the Republican Party. But coalitions change. It was not that long ago that rural whites were about 102 percent Democratic. It was not that long ago that struggling industrial workers in declining Rust Belt communities were among the most reliable Democratic voters there were. That changed.

There is a difference between working in a political coalition for mutual benefit and subordinating oneself or one’s community to the exigencies of party electioneering. The Democrats may have worked to represent the interests of rural whites as they understood them (that certainly was the view from New Deal, Texas, for a generation) but as the character of the party changed in the postwar years, the Democrats began to discover that the people on whose behalf they presumed to speak were no longer listening to them and no longer interested in having Democrats presume to act as their self-appointed tribunes. Republicans, for their part, watched suburb after suburb after suburb slip away from them as affluent and educated professionals turned their backs on a party that seemed to them too white, too Southern, too rural, too Evangelical, too bumptious. (As a matter of cynical and ironic political calculation, the real problem with the Republicans’ bad reputation on race is not the black votes it has cost them but the white votes it has cost them.) The Republican Party once had a home in the cities and suburbs, and thrived in such places as Southern California, now considered a lost cause for the GOP.

Today’s Democrats believe that it is impossible for them to lose the black vote. Republicans once believed precisely the same thing.

7. Dan McLaughlin has some perceptive observations on George Floyd’s death and the riotous reaction. From the analysis:

Riots, arson, and looting, however, are not, especially when they are just an excuse for heisting a television. As I wrote about the Ferguson riots in 2014, the people who try to excuse them are typically unwilling or unable to say openly what they are advocating. Our country was founded on the idea that there’s a time and a place when armed revolution against the government is justified. But violent protest is legitimate only in that situation. There remains a vigorous debate about whether John Brown was justified in trying to start a revolution over slavery; there are still some extremists in the anti-abortion movement who see nearly a million deaths a year as a high enough bar to justify revolutionary violence. But those are the extreme cases, and I remain skeptical even in those examples that the violent destruction of civil order could be justified. A society ruled by law, with civil order and a democratic process for seeking change, is a valuable and fragile thing, and societies that throw it away often find it cannot be rebuilt.

Moreover, in terms of media coverage, we should insist on a clear distinction between peaceful protest and violence, and we should insist on that distinction no matter what side or faction the violence comes from. When right-wingers engage in violence, the media conflates the two in order to delegitimize protest; when there are race riots, the media conflates the two in order to legitimize rioting. Only when you have left-wing assassination attempts such as the congressional baseball shooting or the Family Research Council shooting, or violence by Islamist radicals, will the media really hermetically seal the two. Let us be consistent. Free speech, even angry, overheated, and misguided speech, is not violence and is not responsible for violence. Speech that calls directly for violence can be responsible, but it is still not violence. Violence is not speech, it is violence.

8. More McLaughlin: Dan delivers another body blow to the 1619 Project. From the beginning of the essay:

I’ve previously covered the factual problems with the New York Times’ 1619 Project’s Pulitzer Prize–winning lead essay. The factual inaccuracies are important, but so is the narrative project that required them. Let’s answer two questions: What narratives are at stake in the 1619 Project, and why do conservatives care so much about the whole thing? The two are intimately connected questions.

There are five major narratives about the founding and development of America and its ideas, particularly as it concerns slavery and the place of African Americans in American history. What follow are, of course, simplified versions of these narratives, but they capture their essential thrust. While all five narratives contain some grain of truth, they are by no means equally accurate.

First, there is the Heroic Narrative. The Heroic Narrative is, basically, “only the good parts.” It’s the story of America’s triumphs and virtues with everything else left out or scrubbed into the margins. There is, however, virtually nobody who argues for teaching the Heroic Narrative above the level of introducing very small children to the highlights of the story first.

Second, we have the Lost Cause Narrative. The Lost Cause Narrative is the child of the Confederacy and its partisans. In academic history, it is most associated with the Dunning school of historians, who were particularly influential between the 1910s and the mid 1950s and left a lingering mark thereafter. It derives originally from the openly pro-slavery history and philosophy of antebellum figures such as John C. Calhoun, Thomas Roderick Dew, Roger Taney, Alexander Stephens, George McDuffie, and George Fitzhugh. In their own time, the Calhounists proclaimed that slavery was a positive good and a necessary component of the American economic and social system. They argued that the Constitution was explicitly intended to promote slavery and white supremacy. They urged that it was legitimate and even necessary to exercise federal power to defend slaveholders’ property rights, expand them into the territories, and acquire new lands for them.

9. Kyle Smith checks out the Central Park / Dog affair and hears the strong echoes of Covington. From the piece:

Possibly it was an overreaction for Ms. Cooper to call the police. Then again, when citizens feel threatened, calling the police and letting them sort it out is what is supposed to happen. What Mr. Cooper said to her was unmistakably a threat. It was reasonable for her to be scared. “I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it”? That’s a menacing thing to say. He then called the dog over while offering it a treat. He meant her to think he was going to poison her dog to motivate her to leash the animal. By his own admission, he said something calculated to frighten her. Apparently, he does this all the time; he carries dog treats while birding “for just such intransigence.” If there were no threat linked to his offering the dog a snack, he would not have prefaced this action by saying, “You’re not going to like it.” He didn’t say, “Look, let’s be reasonable here, I’ll even give your dog a nice snack to show I mean well.” Mr. Cooper intended to scare Ms. Cooper, he succeeded, and in her fear she called the cops.

Ms. Cooper would probably have been wise to leash her pet and walk briskly away, but when a stranger threatens to poison your dog in Central Park, that is bound to cause consternation. It’s not unreasonable for her to have felt herself (as well as the dog) personally threatened by Mr. Cooper’s saying, “I’m going to do what I want, and you’re not going to like it.” She later told CNN, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying, right?” A question for the mobs denouncing her: Would you abjure the right to call the police if you were alone in a park with a stranger who said to you, “I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it”?

10. Daniel Tenreiro scopes out Red China’s tough-guying of India. From the piece:

Of late, though, the Sino–Indian border has again become a flash point. Before the 2017 Doklam standoff, Chinese forces twice encroached on Indian territory in Ladakh, in 2013 and 2014. Those confrontations, coinciding with visits by Chinese leaders to India, represented attempts by the PRC to establish its superiority to India. A strengthening U.S.–India relationship has made Beijing cautious of its regional rival, increasing the strategic importance of the Sino–Indian border. Indeed, since the 1950s, the PRC has settled all its land-border disputes except for those with India and Bhutan. China has also strengthened ties to Pakistan, in a bid to put pressure on India.

While the recent trend indicates that the confrontation will end without casualties, each round of brinkmanship increases the likelihood of war. “The two sides’ ability to patrol these remote areas has increased significantly, leading to more clashes and run-ins,” Jaishankar says. For now, Indian and Chinese officials are attempting to settle the dispute diplomatically. Both governments have been relatively muted about the standoff, suggesting that neither side plans to escalate the standoff in the near future, but negotiations over the weekend ended without a settlement.

Whatever the outcome, the standoff highlights the challenges to China’s bid for regional hegemony. Ongoing disputes with Taiwan and Hong Kong have escalated just as the diplomatic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic materializes. Japan is now paying its businesses to leave China, a measure also under consideration by the U.S. Reuters reported that an internal memo presented to Chinese national-security officials recommended preparing for war with the U.S., citing a spike in anti-China sentiment to its highest level since the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. Surrounded on all sides by foes, Xi faces mounting obstacles to his goal of “national rejuvenation.”

11. Jerry Bowyer and Charles Bowyer offer instructions for conservatives to combat “woke” shareholders. From the article:

Special-interest groups buy shares, write proposals, show up at the conference, and slowly remake the corporate world in their image. Much of this is now being institutionalized under the heading of “ESG investing,” a notion that has found wide support among the large proxy ‘advisory services’ companies that vote on shareholders’ behalf on topics that can include divisive social issues, often without much input from the shareholders themselves. For the most part, large blue-state pension funds are also fully on board with ESG, as are some of the largest money managers in the world.

But this new status quo may finally be seeing the first signs of rebellion. With organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Center for Public Policy Research taking the lead, the politicization of the boardroom is being challenged. Amongst all the shareholder proposals designed to advance a particular ideological line, a few stand out from the pack. One, intended to challenge Amazon’s partnership with the largely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, will be voted on at Amazon’s meeting on the 27th. Amazon still relies on the SPLC’s “hate-list” for their “Smile” program, which allows customers to give small amounts to a charity “of their choice,” but, in practice, that choice is policed by the SPLC. Customers can only actually give to the charities that do not fall foul of the SPLC’s standards. This is a troubling thought, given that the SPLC once labeled moderate Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz an “anti-Muslim extremist” — until legal action compelled it to apologize to Nawaz, and to pay a settlement of over $3 million. The SPLC routinely smears conservative, Christian charities such as the Family Research Council as “hate groups” for promoting the traditional Christian understanding of sexual ethics. To regard it as a neutral mediator standing above the fray of partisanship is absurd.

Amazon, unfortunately, has played along with the SPLC and, to take one example, removed the Family Research Council from its Smile program after the SPLC labeled it as a hate group. This is what a resolution, to be voted on by shareholders at Amazon’s AGM on the 27th, aims to remediate. It calls for Amazon to issue a report “evaluating the range of risks and costs associated with discriminating against different social, political, and religious viewpoints.” As is the case for many shareholder resolutions, the expectation isn’t for it to pass as much as it is to gain traction and attention, showing Amazon’s board that conservative shareholders have a voice, too.

12. The Wuhan Virus is killing more men than women, but as John Hirschauer explains, such facts get hip-checked by a growing genre of journalism determined to find women as bearing the pandemic’s brunt. From the story:

The story of women’s COVID oppression is told half by anecdote and half by data. We are enjoined to pity the women who, confined to their homes by statewide stay-at-home orders, are engaged in more housework than their husbands. NBC News speaks with a think-tank official who presents a five-step plan “to reset the unfair division of labor at home during COVID-19;” NPR goes further than “unfair,” quoting a source who says that the pandemic has laid bare the “grotesque” gender inequalities in America’s division of household labor.

There is an entire genre of articles devoted to the supposedly benighted women of COVID-19, whose disproportionate attendance to childcare during the pandemic could, in Vox’s words, “harm women’s long-term career prospects.” The fact that the unemployment rate among women is about three percentage points higher than among men has been presented as evidence that between housework and economic misfortune, women are “bearing” the proverbial “brunt” of the pandemic — even as men are shown to be far more likely to die from the coronavirus.

These unemployment disparities and unequal divisions of household labor have been a subject of myopia among the nation’s most unpleasant media guild — “gender reporters” and “equity correspondents.” The very existence of their jobs, of course, is premised on there being sexism to fight, rampant discrimination to overturn, and looming forces of reaction eager to reinstall — if it was ever uninstalled — the patriarchy.

13. David Harsanyi finds Donald Trump’s social-media speech-policing to be illiberal. From the piece:

After all, when was the last time government intervention made speech more free or fair? Have conservatives forgotten that Citizens United was a decision sparked by bureaucrats who used existing election laws, passed in effort to ensure more “fairness,” to ban political speech? Have they forgotten that how easily IRS officials tasked as arbiters of that fair speech can abuse their power?

Maybe they’ll remember when Attorney General Kamala Harris is overseeing the White House Office of Digital Strategy and regulating online speech.

14. The Paris Agreement has a big problem, says Jordan McGillis. It’s Communist China. From the article:

In 2018, China added roughly 30 gigawatts of new coal-fired power capacity — about 60 power plants’ worth. In fact, China is in the process of building more coal-fired electricity generation capacity than the United States currently has in operation. By 2030 it is expected to have 1,300 gigawatts of coal power available to its grid. The U.S., by comparison, has 229 gigawatts of coal capacity. Though China’s new plants are of the more efficient supercritical and ultra-supercritical varieties, their cumulative emissions profile is enormous. Even if every Chinese plant were to emit 35 percent less than its American counterpart per unit of energy, as coal backers claim is possible, the total effect would still be staggering.

What’s more, China’s emissions-intensive investments do not stop at its borders. Just as crucially, China is constructing and financing hundreds of infrastructure projects and coal-fired power plants in countries across the developing world as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Through BRI, China has committed to building more than 200 coal-fired power plants in more than 24 countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Serbia to Zimbabwe. The endeavor is an infrastructure expansion such as the world has never seen, requiring gargantuan volumes of steel and concrete, two industrial products as carbon-intense as any. “While China has imposed a cap on coal consumption at home, its coal and energy companies are on a building spree overseas,” Yale Environment 360’s Isabel Hinton wrote last year.

According a 2019 World Bank Group working paper on BRI, “the potential for indirect effects of land‐use change and deforestation from BRI road and rail construction, as described above, could not only profoundly affect forest cover and ecosystem health but also generate a significant impact on the global climate.” These potential impacts are hidden when policy within China’s borders is evaluated in isolation. As Hinton describes, BRI will ensure that China’s partners develop in the carbon-intensive patterns that China itself has pledged to curb.

15. The EU is gunning for Israel. David Wurmser calls out the hypocrites. From the beginning of the piece:

Sometimes events provide clarifying moments. The European Union’s response to the prospect of Israel’s annexation of parts of the Jordan Valley, in which several almost entirely Jewish settlement blocs are located, is such a moment. By dressing up cynical political calculations as “the rule of law,” Europe in fact risks undermining Jewish rights and violating the very body of international law EU leaders claim to defend.

According to the EU, the lands Israel seized in 1967 are covered by the acquisition-of-force provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore Israel is to be considered an occupying power of the territories with all the legal obligations the convention imposes on such powers. Those include the nontransfer of populations, the prohibition on revision of borders to cede land to the occupier, and a variety of measures to protect the human and cultural rights of the populations, including the provisions not to change the cultural or religious nature of the occupied lands. It also establishes legal rights of the populations, including the prohibition on putting an inhabitant of that territory on trial in the occupier’s territory. As a result, the EU claims that any changes to the 1967 border are Geneva Convention violations. It further claims that Israel commits many more violations with its settlement and other policies. Even bringing an accused terrorist from Jerusalem or Hebron to stand trial in an Israeli court would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the EU. Annexations of land would constitute yet more violations.

Therefore, to maintain the rule of law and fulfill the EU’s rule-of-law ethos, the EU presidency and many of its members are seeking to punish Israel if it continues to build settlements, continues archaeological projects across the 1967 lines, or seeks to change the 1967 lines — which annexations would effectively do.

16. Ryan Young explains how regulation reform can help the pandemic battle and also help revive the American economy. From the piece:

Politicians do not make medical supplies. Entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers do — when they can get the right permits. Politicians will not lead an economic recovery, either. Washington can best help by getting out of the way — though doing so will take considerable effort.

Waiving regulations can take months or even years, even when they are clearly harmful. Trump’s new executive order is a start. It encourages agencies to use whatever emergency powers they have to speed along the cleanup process. Unfortunately, many drastic regulations are passed during emergencies, from unconstitutional national-security and surveillance policies to bailouts for favored big businesses. But fortunately, regulations can also be removed that way. We have a choice. The famous “ratchet effect” of government’s grabbing power during a crisis and keeping it afterward does not have to be an iron law.

The executive order directs agencies to use discretion in enforcing rules they keep and to “decline enforcement against persons and entities that have attempted in reasonable good faith to comply.” It also directs agencies to issue rulings and clarifications in a timely matter where possible. This would be a welcome change. People have more important things to worry about during a pandemic than filling out forms in triplicate.

17. Conrad Black says that the Obama administration / FBI–Trump–Russia scam requires full exposure at all levels. From the piece:

A criminal investigation into former holders of national office would be a momentous and disturbing development. As one who disputed at every stage (and has continued ever since its sorry completion) the judicial persecution of President Nixon, objected to the Walsh investigation of Iran-Contra and President Reagan and its unjust findings, and opposed the impeachment of President Clinton for the reasons that caused it to end in acquittal, I feel particularly strongly that there should be no criminal investigation and certainly no publicity of such an investigation of President Obama or Vice President Biden if there is any other less disruptive and less potentially abusive method of determining the facts that Barr has many times rightly stated must be ascertained. He wishes to get to the bottom of what seemed to him an unprecedented and unconstitutional assault upon a presidential campaign and a president-elect that continued more than halfway through the first term of the Trump presidency. This will require some examination of what role Obama and Biden played in that skullduggery, without prejudging it.

If Mr. Barr’s comment was tactical, it has been successful, in that the Democratic national political media (about 80 percent of the media) have been offloaded from Barr’s back and have ceased to revile him as a Trump lackey, as that would be unbecoming of the last protector of the threadbare Obama legacy. This cannot have been his purpose, but he may have been addressing only current probabilities. It is inconceivable that there were rogue directors of the FBI, CIA, and NIA, and officials in other senior echelons of government, plotting to frame or mousetrap a three-star general and former intelligence chief and mislead the FISA court with false requests for domestic espionage on a presidential campaign, without anyone consulting or informing President Obama. His role must be investigated, fairly and promptly. If he and Biden were engaged in illegal acts, the country must be enabled to make an informed decision on Election Day. If they were not, the country must know that, and they must not be stigmatized by the almost certain crimes of some of Obama’s appointees.

18. Andrew Foxall charges that the dependence of the U.S. and Western nations on Red China for important goods is dangerous. From the analysis:

Yet the pandemic has highlighted something that Trump’s National Security Strategy identified three years ago. Instead of becoming a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system — a term coined by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 to describe the role that the Bush administration hoped China would play following its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) — China has instead “expanded its power at the expense of others.”

This is a point emphasized in the Trump administration’s report on “United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China,” published last week. The report argues that the Chinese Communist Party has “exploited” the advantages of WTO membership to advance a Marxist–Leninist political and economic system that is fundamentally at odds with the United States’s — and the West’s — free and open society. The wealth it has generated permits a full-spectrum approach to foreign policy that combines economic coercion, military saber-rattling, a mammoth state-sponsored media empire, and cohorts of witting and unwitting accomplices. The CCP has also plowed huge amounts of money into controlling global trade routes and stolen intellectual property on a massive scale.

All of this is undertaken to achieve Xi Jinping’s goal for China: to make it the world’s most powerful country by 2049. And there has already been some progress toward this. China has the world’s second-largest economy, a military-industrial complex and high-technology sector second only to those of the U.S., and the world’s largest population. Despite embracing capitalism to facilitate China’s rise, the CCP believes that it is engaged in an existential ideological–political battle with the West and that Communism will — and must — win out.

19. Jonathan Horn reminds us of POTUS 1, Father of Our Country, Pandemic Leader. From the beginning of the article:

The plan the president proposed for venturing back out so soon after the worst of the epidemic worried his advisers. If he followed such a course, they warned, he would go against the instructions of doctors and, worse, give fellow citizens license to do the same. Nevertheless, into the city the next day rode George Washington.

In search of parallels to the coronavirus, much has been written about the yellow-fever epidemic that chased the fledgling federal government from its then-capital of Philadelphia in the summer and fall of 1793. But the courage and independence that President Washington showed by returning to the city have gone largely overlooked — perhaps because the story does not conform to the mantra that medical expertise should always override political judgment during crises.

With the death toll mounting — eventually about 10 percent of the city’s population would perish — Washington had reluctantly joined the exodus from Philadelphia on September 10. Sensitive to symbolism, he would have delayed his departure, which he knew would demoralize the city. But he realized that his wife would insist on staying for as long as he did. “I could not think of hazarding her . . . any longer by my remaining in the city,” he wrote.

20. Brian Allen calls for museums to open. From the essay:

Most curators would be shocked to hear they have a public-service mission. And there’s management that caters to every fear of every neurotic on the staff. Museums can’t stay closed to accommodate any of these people. It’s irresponsible. The key job of museum director now is to reopen. The key job of every trustee is to ask “why not” when faced with navel-gazers.

People have been needlessly frightened by politicians and public-health bureaucrats who think we’re too dumb to be moved by anything more subtle than fear, and this terrible governance is bad for society, which, I think, has to get back to normal.

Here, again, I’m unorthodox among art critics. I think about jobs, tax revenue to pay for programs, and whether or not our children have a healthy attitude toward risk. I like risk-takers in the arts. We won’t enjoy cultural vibrancy if the public is a bunch of safe-space blobs. States and cities are already cutting grants to the arts. Art lovers are angry but, duh, where do they think the money comes from? Trash the tax base, we trash programs getting tax money. Trash the economy, we give philanthropy a kick in the butt.

After months of Black Death propaganda, and what we’re seeing is a form of atrocity propaganda, people need to be coaxed back to public spaces and communal living. Museums have a responsibility to do their part in advancing the irrefutable fact that Dracula, Freddy Kruger, and Jaws aren’t hiding behind every Giacometti bronze, or every dress rack or hot dog stand, or under every beach blanket, or next to us, in every seat at every concert, play, or lecture.

BONUS: Don’t worry Lana Del Ray, because Madeleine Kearns has your back. From the piece:

This (entirely pointless) controversy began when Del Rey argued for “the need for fragility in the feminist movement.” She pondered in an Instagram post why it was that other artists — women she admires, she later clarified — such as “Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé” all achieved praise and success with “songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f***ing, cheating, etc, [sic],” and yet her own work “about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect,” had resulted in her being “crucified” (perhaps a slight exaggeration) and accusations that she was “glamorizing abuse.”

Del Rey’s crime was that she had failed to notice that her list of comparators were all women of color. Teen Vogue’s Danielle Kwateng-Clark deplored “the Caucasity of it all.” Slate columnist Jamilah Lemieux tweeted: “I don’t know who was giving Lana Del Rey a hard time but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Black women. Girl, sing your little cocaine carols and leave us alone.” (Which is funny, at least.) Jezebel writer Ashley Reese wrote: “The optics of Lana, a white woman, complaining about feminism lacking space for her while critiquing the acclaim allotted to several black pop artists is mortifying.” Another writer for BuzzFeed called her “arrogant and ahistorical.”

But wait — who said anything about race? Del Rey is adamant that this was not at all her point. “The fact that they want to turn my advocacy for fragility into a race war is really bad,” she said. I’ll say! Further, she’s adamant that racializing feminism says more about her critics than it does about her. “I’m sorry that a couple of the girls I talked to, that I mentioned in that post, had a different opinion of my insight,” she wrote. Still, an experience such as this “makes you reach into the depth of your own heart and ask, ‘Am I good intentioned?’ and of course for me the answer is always yes.” Always? The saintly celeb then unwittingly continued to stoke progressive rage by making yet another comparator to an artist of color. “When I get on the pole, I get called a whore, but when Twigs gets on the pole, it’s art.”

Lights. Camera. Action!

1. Armond White thinks Young Ahmed is a dud. From the beginning of the review:

Young Ahmed (Le Jeune Ahmed), by Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, presents a perfect lesson in the folly of liberal sentimentality. It takes a clear-eyed look at 13-year-old Muslim Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) and his self-radicalization without blaming politics or religion. The Dardenne brothers avoid blame entirely through their now-familiar Cannes Film Festival multiple-award-winning approach to sociological drama.

The fear and compassion that convulses contemporary Europe are remote in the story of Ahmed’s giving up video games and pop-culture posters to study under a duplicitous Imam (Othmane Moumen), perform daily ablutions, read the Koran, and say his prayers. Ahmed seems a typical teenager in the way he gives over to a new fad, even if his zealous commitment causes him to insult his mother (Claire Bodson), then plan to kill his math teacher (Myriem Akheddiou), whom the Imam has identified as an infidel.

Ahmed is almost embryonic. Curly-haired, bespectacled, with a baby-fat face impassive with confusion, he is also dyslexic and awkward. The man in him is unformed. When defending the imam, a substitute father figure, Ahmed lies on purpose. Walking like a dork as he contemplates meeting and killing his teacher, he is potentially dangerous. His intelligence is expressed in deviousness, not exactly innocence (although he looks harmlessly innocent, like a young Tony Kushner).

2. Kyle Smith gets into the time machine and reconsiders the 2008 Coen Brothers film, Burn After Reading. From the review:

Twelve years ago Joel and Ethan Coen’s wack comedy Burn After Reading didn’t strike me as anything much, with its random and grotesque plot twists, but today it looks like it so perfectly understood how Washington works that it provided the template for how L’Affaire Mueller would play out. (Spoilers follow; the film is streaming on Starz.)

At the end of the movie, a disbelieving C.I.A. chief played by J. K. Simmons contemplates the 90 minutes of total insanity we’ve just seen, with several lives violently ended and others permanently damaged because of a misunderstanding on the part of a pair of idiotic gym rats, and says, “I’m f***ed if I know what we did.” Somewhere out there in Mueller land some earnest career public servant must be saying the exact same thing. People were interrogated by the FBI, lives were ruined, jail terms were sternly handed down, Michael Flynn was stripped of $5 million and demolished. All of this happened . . . why? Because of a . . . rumor about a pee tape? Disbelief that Donald Trump could have been legitimately elected president without some nefarious foreign interference? Anger about John Podesta’s emails leaking out because he fell for a dopey phishing scheme? Fretting about Russian Facebook memes featuring Jesus arm-wrestling Satan?

Can wise, dedicated, highly trained public servants really have allowed themselves to get torched in this moronic inferno? “You’re part of a league of morons,” says the Princeton-educated career CIA analyst Osbourne, played by John Malkovich, when he thinks he has sorted out all of the fallacies that have led him to train a pistol on a lovelorn gym manager in his basement. But the joke’s on “Ozzy,” as colleagues call him. He’s the biggest moron of all because his miscalculations are what got the whole thing going. If he had accepted a transfer from the CIA to the State Department rather than making his wife furious by quitting his job in a huff, and if he hadn’t taken to writing his memoirs as a self-deluding form of payback against the Agency, he wouldn’t be facing the fate that awaits him, which is getting shot to death in his bathrobe. Personal trainers, Treasury Department security officers, the Ivy League WASP aristocracy at Langley: They’re all part of the Washington League of Morons.

3. Itxu Díaz says that The Duke is the hero we need. From the piece:

Over the years, Wayne developed an extraordinary nose for detecting Communists. On one occasion, during a shoot in the middle of the Cold War, he asked the film director Edward Dmytryk, “Are you a Commie?” Dmytryk answered: “If the masses of the American people want Communism, I think it’d be good for our country.” “Well, to me,” said the Duke, later recalling the exchange, “the word ‘masses’ is not a term generally used in Western countries, and I just knew he was a Commie.”

Wayne’s anti-Communism is no outdated sentiment. The coronavirus crisis is reviving the worst ghosts of Communism’s dehumanizing ideology: an overdose of regulations, massive surveillance, the presumption of guilt, venomous state paternalism, and economic aids that, although sometimes necessary, turn millions into passive citizens clinging helplessly to the public treasury. Don’t forget that in any crisis there is always some enlightened person saying, “Let’s give the whole world a salary and end poverty.” And then there’s always some damned party-pooper-son-of-a-hyena innocently asking, “And who’s going to pay for that?” More often than not, that damned party-pooper-son-of-a-hyena will be yours truly.

Wayne got it right; he drew no distinctions between liberals, socialists, and Communists. What separates Biden from Sanders is little more than a couple of bouts of sniffing a young girl’s hair and the occasional whoop. But the whole Left is marching toward the same precipice. Look at Venezuelan Chavism, Spanish socialism, European social democracy, or Cuban Communism. They are different degrees of the same project to annihilate individuality and strengthen the state. A brilliant P. J. O’Rourke wrote years ago (and it’s still true today), “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

John Wayne abhorred the masses, even his own following. This set him free to be critical, even of his own people. And there lies the difference between conservatives and progressives: individual thought. The conservative tends to value his own thought. The progressive believes in collective thought, ignoring that, in human nature, such a thing simply does not exist. There are global fevers, such as the gold rush or tulip mania; there’s widespread blindness, like the one afflicting so many Biden-loving reporters; there can also be a feeling that many people share, such as (in my case) an infatuation with tennis player Maria Sharapova. But there is no such thing as collective thinking.

Podcastapalooza

1. On Episode 83 of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the death of George Floyd, the scuffle surrounding Judge Sullivan, and look at the insider-trading case against Senator Burr. Court’s in session, here.

2. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the emptiness and diminished legacy of the Obama administration, and his gilded-Socialism cashed-in post-presidency; the ACLU’s foray into fighting due process on campus; Stanford colleague Michael Levitt’s told-you-so warnings about pandemic predictions and the deadly impact of lockdowns; India’s standing as a U.S. ally; and Joe Biden’s expectations of Black Americans. Catch the wisdom here.

3. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss Trump’s tweets aimed at Joe Scarborough, Biden’s awkward exchange on The Breakfast Club, and how reopening is happening whether the experts think it should or not. Pay heed, here.

4. And on yet another episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the Minneapolis riots. They also have an extended conversation concerning the president’s uncalled-for tweets about Joe Scarborough and the spotlight this has thrown on Section 230. It’s all happening here.

5. Bully! On the new episode of The Great Books, John J. Miller and Thomas Bruscino of the U.S. Army War College discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s The Rough Riders. Listen loudly and carry a big set of headphones, here.

6. JJM then does his switcheroo and on The Bookmonger talks with Senator Tom Cotton about Cotton’s new book, Sacred Duty. Listen here.

7. On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will spend too much time on Trump vs Twitter, and then consider the Ninth Circuit’s decision declaring the Bill of Rights a “suicide pact” to be suspended by judges “with a little practical wisdom.” Catch the wisdom here.

8. On the new Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss libel law, the Minneapolis riots, and more. Listen and learn here.

9. On Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke consider the life and career of John Quincy Adams, one-term POTUSes, and the last Jeffersonian. Hear ye, here.

The Six

1. In Commentary, Noah Rothman bemoans the always-inconsistent mandates that made the NYC-area quarantine a despondent affair. From the article:

The contradictions associated with the lockdown were enough to drive you insane. The seamless transition public officials made from advocating extraordinary measures designed to spare the health-care system from catastrophic collapse to the unceasing perpetuation of those measures until the risk of new infections became negligible was just the latest exasperation.

Don’t leave your house unless it is absolutely necessary, we were told. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy,” Dr. Deborah Birx advised the public on April 5. But, if it is necessary, you should feel free to stock up on food and medicine. And make sure you support your local businesses as much as possible. They’re hurting.

You should not wear face masks, we were informed. They do not help prevent the spread of this infection and can provide wearers with a false sense of security. But sometimes, they do help. In fact, they’re now mandatory, even though they were long ago sold out and are available only on backorder. Don’t go out without one.

Whatever you do, we were notified, don’t go to a hospital. “If you are sick, don’t walk into a doctor’s office or an ER without calling ahead,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asserted on March 20. “Only leave your home if directed to after a #telehealth consultation.” All elective and preventive medical services were put on hold for the foreseeable future. That is, unless you’re homeless. In which case, you have the option of either going to a shelter or the hospital, and you should probably choose the latter.

It’s important to get exercise, we were instructed. The last thing you want to do right now is become sedentary and risk the associated health complications. But with the parks closed, you’ll just have to walk down the middle of the street. And we hope you got one of those masks, because you could be criminally liable if you’re seen without one. At the very least, make sure you get a mask ahead of your municipal court appearance.

And, most important, it’s critical that you preserve your sanity. After all, extreme stress is an immunosuppressant.

2. France has adopted a law to ban “hate speech.” At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman finds it to be a threat to free speech. From the commentary:

Having acknowledged that online “hatred” is tricky to prosecute under the existing laws because “few complaints are filed and few investigations are successful, few convictions are handed down”, but nevertheless determined that censorship is the panacea to the perceived problems, the French government decided to delegate the task of state censorship to the online platforms themselves. Private companies will now be obliged to act as thought police on behalf of the French state or face heavy fines. As in Germany, such legislation is bound to lead to online platforms exhibiting overzealousness in the removal or blocking of anything that might conceivably be perceived as “hateful” to avoid being fined.

The purpose of the law appears to have been twofold — not only to achieve the actual censorship of speech by the removal or blocking of online posts, but also the (inevitably) chilling effects of censorship on online debate in general. “People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet said in what sounded ominous for a government representative to say in a country that still claims to be democratic.

From the beginning, when French President Emmanuel Macron first tasked the group led by Laetitia Avia with preparing the law, the proposal was met with criticism from a number of groups and organizations. France’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights criticized the law proposal for increasing the risk of censorship, and La Quadrature du Net, an organization that works against censorship and surveillance online, warned that, “Short removal times and large fines for non-compliance further incentivize platforms to over-remove content”. The London-based free speech organization Article 19 commented that the law threatened free speech in France.

3. In City Journal, James Copland recounts the real-life costs of bad regulation. From the piece:

With cases and deaths growing exponentially, federal regulatory authorities can be expected to fast-track new approaches. The agencies were much less willing to afford latitude to the private sector just weeks ago, though—and the United States is now much more vulnerable as a result. Chinese authorities uploaded the SARS-CoV-2 genome onto the Internet on January 10. The CDC developed its own testing protocol by January 21; international scientists developed a different test by the same date, which was soon disseminated en masse by the World Health Organization.

The U.S. testing process failed. The day that the CDC announced it had developed its testing protocol, January 21, was the date of the first documented American case of coronavirus. South Korea documented its first case the same day. But by March 17, the United States had administered only 125 tests per 1 million people; South Korea had administered more than 5,000 tests per 1 million over the same time span. By aggressive testing, South Korea was able to trace viral spread and contain it. Without it, the U.S. was left with little choice but the draconian measures that have shut down much of American life.

As has been widely reported, the CDC’s in-house testing design was flawed, thus compromising early testing results. Mistakes happen, but the impact of the test-design flaw was much greater than it should have been—owing to the U.S. bureaucracy’s tightly controlled process. Even had the CDC test worked perfectly, not nearly enough tests would have been available for wide-scale testing on the South Korean model.

4. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera reflects on Patton, a great movie about a great general. From the review:

Patton was as necessary in the European war as MacArthur was in the Pacific, and was likewise a figure we compare to demigods rather than ordinary officials in government institutions. But he was also needed in 1970, when the movie revived his reputation, and he is needed again 50 years later—because we are constantly in danger of forgetting what kind of men we need to deal with our crises, when the nation seems resigned to paralysis and suffering.

Coppola understood this very well and he therefore concentrated on revealing character—what does it really mean to be a captain in the ancient sense, to rule armies in order to save your country? The movie neglects the technical side of Patton’s career and only hints at his lifelong study of history, but it simply assumes skillfulness to be part of his character.

Only when we see a man of such ability, who commands by excellence, do we really understand an army’s purpose. At least since World War II, we have placed too much faith in technology and institutions, and not enough in the power of individual character or the capacity of great leaders to make order out of chaos.

Character is the hardest thing for us to study and so Coppola insistently presents the mysterious, romantic part of Patton’s character over the more calculating, contemplative side of his character. The film predominately shows us the man who wrote “Through A Glass Darkly,” rather than the one who painstakingly composed tactical manuals and combed history for lessons in command. It is true, though, that he believed in reincarnation and longed to have lived and fought glorious ancient wars. He never wanted to be anything but a soldier—his every interest was aristocratic. Patton belonged to the Romantic side of America—his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

5. At The American Conservative, Christopher Shaw makes the right-of-center case for the U.S. Postal Service. From the piece:

For decades, a sizable contingent of congressional Republicans who represent rural states and districts could be depended on to reject postal reforms that threatened their constituents’ mail delivery. Back in 1967, Senator Frank Carlson (R-Kans.) acknowledged the deep affection his constituents felt for the nation’s postal system. “There’s such a feeling of warmth between the local postmaster and the people,” he observed. When Trent Lott (R-Miss.) served in the House in the late 1970s, he stressed that “the Postal Service goes into rural areas and provides a lot of services that the people probably would not [otherwise] receive.”

The noted Chicago School economist Milton Friedman reached the same economic conclusion, stating that “local delivery subsidizes mail for remote areas.” Yet the political backing rural Republican members of Congress have long provided the Postal Service may be weakening. Although the Pew Research Center reports that rural Americans are 12 percent less likely to have broadband internet than those living in cities, Mississippi’s Republican delegation in the House turned its back on the position Lott once insisted upon when they all voted against eliminating the pre-funding requirement this past February.

A precarious Postal Service has national security implications. Although too rarely acknowledged, as a core component of our nation’s infrastructure, the Postal Service plays an important national security role. Its extensive network of processing centers and post offices give its employees the unique ability to rapidly deliver physical items to every address in the country. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services have developed plans that can harness this capability in the event of a catastrophic biological incident. When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, it may arrive at Americans’ doors via postal letter carriers accompanied by law enforcement or military personnel. Many postal workers themselves have prior military service, with veterans constituting nearly 15 percent of the agency’s workforce.

6. At Quillette, Robert Cherry asks why American women of all racial backgrounds are marrying less. From the piece:

Many commentators have also pointed to the inability of many black women to partner with similarly educated black men. Among black people aged 25 years and older, 42 percent of women and 52 percent of men have no more than a high school degree; and while 33 percent of black women have at least an associate’s degree, the comparable figure for black men is only 25 percent. The mismatch is even greater when you take into account that interracial marriage rates among newlyweds are also substantially higher for black men (24 percent) than for black women (12 percent), with the gap increasing as educational attainment rises. By contrast, Latinas and Asian women are more likely to intermarry than their male counterparts. Thus, disparate educational attainment and out-marriage rates, it is argued, have created further obstacles for unmarried black women.

The discussion concerning the white community is more muted. Between 1995 and 2010, there were significant family formation changes. The share of 12 year-old children born to and still living with married parents declined from 63 to 52 percent, while the share in cohabitating relationships increased from five to 14 percent. However, child stability was still much greater for white than for black children. In 2010, only one-third of black children were living with both biological parents compared to almost three-quarters of white children. At age 12, only one-fifth of black children were born to biological parents who were still married. This may be one reason we haven’t heard as much about the destructive effect of the declining marriage rate among white people as we have about the impact of the opioid crisis.

Looking at the educational attainment of men and women can shed some light on marriage market dynamics. Using composite data for 2008 – 2017, economists Lichter, Price, and Swigert compared the characteristics of currently married men to those of unmarried men aged 25 – 45. They found that the income of married men is 58 percent higher, employment rates are 30 percent higher, and married men are 19 percent more likely to have a four-year college degree than unmarried men. These disparities point to the shortcomings of unmarried men, forcing many women to make compromises if they wish to marry.

Baseballery

Of occasional subjective interest in these parts of the WJ is the connection between two players, old and young, and the span of decades the two have experienced on big-league ball fields. Your Humble Fogey suggests a duet of duos today.

The first involves two men who faced each other on a Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park in 1959, the season’s last game for the two sub-.500 teams, the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox. The home team prevailed that day, 6–2. On the mound for the visiting Senators was the tall rookie southpaw, Jim Kaat, in his third career game. From his perspective, it wasn’t a pretty outing: In just 1 1/3 innings, he gave up five hits and six earned runs. Two of those hits (a single and a double, accounting for two RBIs) were had by the 40-year-old Ted Williams, the AL’s reigning batting champ, in the penultimate season of a career that had begun in 1939 (in his first MLB game, against the Yankees in the Bronx on Opening Day, he played against Lou Gehrig, who would call it quits just seven games later).

As for Kaat, he had miles to go: He pitched another 24 seasons, donning the uniforms of the Twins, Yankees, White Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals, for whom he ended his career in 1983, having compiled a 283–237 record and a 3.45 ERA (and 16 Gold Glove awards). The Williams-Kaat span of 44 seasons is a thing of wonder, for those who like to wonder over such things.

Kaat — but for Tommy John and the essentially blackballed Roger Clemens — has the most career wins of a non-Hall-of-Famer.

Speaking of that Tommy John: He began his 26-season career (spent over 27 years, one lost to a famous surgery) in 1963, a fresh-faced 20-year-old southpaw added late-season to the bullpen staff of the second-division Cleveland Indians. Sitting alongside him on the bench was one of the game’s great pitchers, the 43-year-old Early Wynn, who had first pitched in 1939 as a Washington Senator. That first game was a complete-game 6–4 loss to the White Sox, before a measly home field crowd of 500 at Griffin Stadium. Wynn’s last MLB appearance came 24 years later to the day: a brief relief appearance against the Angels.

Wynn, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1972 and won the Cy Young award at the tender age of 39 in 1959, sported a 300–244 career record, with a 3.54 ERA, in 23 seasons (he spent 1940 in the minors, and 1945 in the military). Alas, Wynn and John never pitched in the same game in 1963 — John actually started and lost the game following Wynn’s final appearance — but they were active teammates, if only for a few weeks.

John’s final appearance came in 1989, against the same Angels: He started and took no decision in an 8–6 Yankee win in The Bronx. The two former Indian hurlers’ careers bridged 50 years — it might be the National Pastime’s greatest such combo.

A Dios

Wisdom is there to be had. So is peace. And mercy. And even the defeat of enemies (communists!) hostile to creation and the Creator. If we but ask. Maybe pray for such — for yourself, for leaders, for the scandalized and angry. There is so much for us to pray for this weekend. A humble suggestion: Get on your knees and do it.

May the Ancient of Days Bring Peace to You and Yours and All,

Jack Fowler, who will employ his rosary for your requests, tendered to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Fear Not that Ye Have Died for Naught . . .

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

The silk/paper poppy flowers sold at this time of year, as we approach Memorial Day, always seemed . . . holy. Hallowed in their simplicity, beautiful in their symbolization, conveying the message: We honor, we revere, we do not forget. Moina Belle Michael initiated this tradition soon after World War One, and over the decades the sales of poppy flowers have raised massive amounts to support disabled war veterans and related programs. Michael, a Georgia teacher, was inspired by Canadian field surgeon John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields, which famously begins:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row. . .

Miss Michael was so moved by the words that she wrote a poem in reply, We Shall Keep the Faith, which ends:

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Let us pray that we do.

Now, as it does every year, Turner Classic Movies will be hosting a Memorial Day Marathon, from May 23 through May 25, showcasing 31 movies. The marathon commences with John Ford’s 1939 flick, Drums Along the Mohawk. Once upon a time, Hollywood paid fitting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Kudos to TCM for doing this every year.

Well, the Jolt awaits, but before we get cracking, it’s a fact that if you are reading this, you are receiving the daily missive by our Jolt Eminence, Big Jim Geraghty. So you likely have read his May 21 filing titled, “Quarantine for Thee, But Not for Me.” On the off chance you have not, you are encouraged to do so, and will find it here.

Editorials

1. The ACLU figures that the time has come to turn on due process. Disdain needs to be expressed. And is. From the beginning of the editorial:

That the ACLU is suing the federal government in the hope of altering its due-process standards is not headline news. That the ACLU is suing the federal government in the hope of weakening its due-process standards is headline news for the ages. Once more, the line between parody and reality has been blurred.

The targets of the ACLU’s suit are the Department of Education; its secretary, Betsy DeVos; and its assistant secretary for civil rights, Kenneth Marcus. Their offense? To have made it easier for the accused to defend themselves. As NBC News explains, the changes that Secretary DeVos has spearheaded “effectively bolster the rights of due process for those accused of sexual assault and harassment, allowing for live hearings and cross-examinations” — two elementary provisions that, as NBC notes, were “lacking during the Obama administration to protect all students under Title IX.”

Which, per the ACLU, is a problem. DeVos’s changes, the group claims, will make “it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations and needlessly comes amid a global pandemic.”

Remind us again what the C and the L stand for?

2. That America is fixated on hydrowhatevertheheck is idiotic. From the editorial:

Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, is a well-established medicine for other purposes, and its potential has been worth exploring. Some promising early results led Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo and Gretchen Whitmer to join the White House task force’s cautious optimism. Too many of the president’s critics instead dug themselves into actively rooting for the treatment to fail.

The responsible thing to do with a clinically untested treatment is go where the evidence follows. The president, however, has responded to the barrage of criticism with his trademark relish for a fight. He now has publicly declared that he is taking hydroxychloroquine himself, as if his personal confidence in the drug is all that matters.

This marks a new chapter in a stupid sideshow that no one needs. It will embroil the White House and the Republican Party in defending hydroxychloroquine for the same reason his critics loathe a drug they hadn’t heard of before a few months ago — simply because it is a thing Trump favors. The vice president has already felt it necessary to state that he is not taking it.

3. America needs to stand with the people of Hong Kong. From the editorial:

China’s move against Hong Kong is likely dictated by propitious circumstances. Democracy protesters in Hong Kong may be fatigued. And while the rest of the world deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little appetite to expend the diplomatic energy or engage in the trade actions that could protect Hong Kong.

At the time of the treaty, little Hong Kong accounted for nearly 20 percent of China’s overall economy, and it was a crucial engine of China’s economic growth. Companies that wanted to do business in a liberalizing China headquartered in Hong Kong. Financial markets still prefer it. Why? Because it has inherited a property-rights regime and a judicial system from the Anglo tradition. One could make a case in a Hong Kong court and expect a fair hearing, rather than a political judgment dictated by a party boss.

Abrogating the two-systems settlement is an injustice, and a foreseeable one. Hong Kong now represents less than 3 percent of China’s economy. And so Beijing senses it can strike a new bargain, renege on its treaty obligation, and put to death any notion that Hong Kong’s style of government will ever win out by persuasion.

No Sunscreen Needed: Conservative IQ Summer Fun Awaits!

National Review Institute is pleased to announce that registration is now open for a new virtual “Burke to Buckley” Summer Course! While this program is normally designed for mid-career professionals who live within the six cities where programs are offered, the virtual Summer Course will give all individuals around the nation the opportunity to participate in discussions about the foundations of conservative thought.

Participants will meet via Zoom meeting for a series of six weeknight seminars taking place on Wednesdays between May 27 and July 1 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Participants are expected to attend all sessions and complete 25 to 30-page reading assignments, which they will discuss with a leading conservative thinker.

There is a suggested contribution of $250 in order to cover program costs and to support the non-profit Institute. Click here for more information.

As Many Links as There Are Stars on the Star-Spangled Banner

1. Rich Lowry profiles good coronavirus-fight news that nevertheless results in MSM Trump-Hate. From the piece:

Any government response to a once-in-a-generation crisis is going to be subject to legitimate criticism, and there’s no question that almost every major government in the Western world, including ours, should have acted sooner. But to read the press, there is basically nothing good that the Trump administration has done over the last three months.

This is manifestly false. In a briefing for reporters last week on FEMA’s work securing PPE, FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor laid out the raw numbers: FEMA, HHS, and the private sector have shipped or are currently shipping 92.7 million N95 respirators, 133 million surgical masks, 10.5 million face shields, 42.4 million surgical gowns, and 989 million gloves.

According to Admiral John Polowczyk, head of the supply-chain task force at FEMA, we manufactured roughly 30 million N95 respirators domestically a month before the COVID-19 crisis. He says we are on a path now to ramp up to 180 million N95 respirators a month.

None of this happened by accident. At a time of unprecedented stress on the supply chain and a yawning gap between supply and demand in the market, it required considerable clever improvisation and determined hustle. This was not your average bureaucratic response. It was a partnership between the public and private sector to get supplies to the United States on an urgent basis and ship them to the places that needed them most, and then begin to ramp up manufacturing here at home.

A team around White House adviser Jared Kushner and the supply-chain task force under Admiral Polowczyk worked to fly supplies from overseas to the U.S. quickly, to vet leads for additional PPE (the work of volunteers from the business world mustered by Kushner’s team), and to build a cooperative relationship with 3M, the country’s most important manufacturer of N95 respirators.

The story of what they’ve done is a key part of the administration’s response, even if it has been obscured by a press that has an allergy to anything that has worked.

2. More Rich: He wants to know where media-mugged Florida governor Ron DeSantis goes to get back his reputation. From the piece:

An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freak-out about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”

DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

Perhaps more understandably, The Villages, the iconic senior community, was a focus of media worries. According to DeSantis, as of last weekend there hadn’t been a single resident of The Villages in the hospital for COVID-19 for about a week. At one point, the infection rate in The Villages was so low that state officials were worried that they were missing something. “So I got the University of Florida to do a study,” he says. “They did 1,200 asymptomatic seniors at The Villages, and not one of them came back positive, which was really incredible.”

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data, and trying to learn the lessons of other countries.

3. Kyle Smith runs down the laundry list of Andrew Cuomo’s deadly choices. From the commentary:

In New York, the public is today the victim of Cuomo’s longstanding, bizarre, petty, counterproductive hostility toward his fellow Democrat de Blasio. Though de Blasio publicly stated on March 17 that a shelter-in-place order might be necessary, and said so gingerly so as not to poke the bear, Cuomo fired back that it wasn’t necessary and that only he had the authority to give such an order. Privately he derided de Blasio as offering a scenario more befitting a nuclear apocalypse, according to ProPublica. Five days later, as the virus roared across the state, things had become so bad that Cuomo finally shut down the state, as usual without acknowledging that de Blasio had been correct.

The state and the city continued to work at cross purposes behind closed doors. “The state Health Department broke off routine sharing of information and strategy with its city counterpart in February,” ProPublica reported, citing both a city official and a city employee. “Radio silence,” said the city official. Even today, according to the city employee quoted by ProPublica, the city has difficulty getting basic data such as nursing-home staff counts from the state “It’s like they have been ordered not to talk to us,” the person said.

4. More Kyle: Some websites can writers, their industry colleagues bemoan, but our guy weeps no tears and reminds us — journalists ain’t heroes, so put away the hankies. From the piece:

It could happen to any of us, of course, myself very much included. I readily concede that many if not most if not all of the people laid off by Buzzfeed, Vice, Condé Nast, and (certainly!) The Economist are more talented, harder-working, and better at television/podcasting/pontificating at conferences than I am. The profession of journalism hangs by a thread, and capricious Fates are awfully snippy with the scissors.

Yet journalists are fundamentally misstating what’s going on. Let’s be honest: We’re not heroes. We’re not firefighters. We’re not selfless public servants. Don’t mistake us for a cross-breed of self-flagellating monks and fired-up paramedics. We’re in this game because it’s fun, because of what it does for us, not because we’re saints who defend the defenseless and give a voice to the voiceless. Those of us who are taking down bad guys, digging through court records, and exposing the nefarious doings of men in suits are not doing so primarily to benefit others but because it pleases us. It’s delightful to expose wrongdoing. It gives you the greatest feeling in the world — the glow of self-righteousness. — It wins you awards, it wins you fame, it wins you money. If the public winds up slightly better off, well, that’s a nice added benefit. But picture a world in which crusading journalists are required to work in total anonymity — no bylines, no prizes, no television appearances, no campus speaking tours — and you’re picturing a world in which interest in doing investigative journalism plummets very nearly to zero.

And the group of journalists I’ve described are the tiny minority who come closest to being public servants. The rest of us? City reporters are in it because they love to tear around town. Entertainment reporters are in it because they are beguiled by celebrities and everything they do. Science reporters are fascinated by science, sports reporters are fascinated by sports, gender reporters are fascinated by pronouns. Washington reporters know they can generate national news for 12 hours just by saying something bitchy in a presidential briefing, and if all else fails, they know that millions will mistake them for important people if they gravely intone clichés while standing in front of the White House.

5. Ramesh Ponnuru has the backs of the Little Sisters of the Poor, once again attacked by New York Times abortion-ballyhooing writer Linda Greenhouse. From the piece:

Linda Greenhouse, a longtime legal correspondent and current columnist for the New York Times, is back with a new article opposing the legal claims of the Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s not the first time she has written such an article. It’s not even the first time she has used a pointless metaphor about storytelling to make her case. That’s alright: The case has been dragging on for years, and we’re all running out of new things to say. What’s less excusable is that it’s not the first time Greenhouse has made a simple, easily-checked mistake about the case in the course of accusing other people of misrepresentations.

Back in 2014, Greenhouse maintained that all the Obama administration was asking the Little Sisters to do was submit a “one-page form” noting that it had religious objections to covering employees’ contraception. She declared herself “baffled” that the nuns considered this requirement a violation of their conscience and that all nine justices of the Supreme Court had taken their complaint seriously. Maybe if she had read on to the second page of the “one-page form,” she would have solved the mystery: Page two proclaimed the form to be the “instrument” that triggered the requirement that a third-party administrator provide the coverage. The nuns didn’t want to be forced to take any action, including signing a form, that caused such coverage.

None of this information is a state secret. You can look up the form, as it stood when she wrote in 2014, on Wikipedia. I pointed out Greenhouse’s error at the time

6. More MSM BS: David Harsanyi slaps around GQ for its bogus history of the pro-life movement. From the beginning of the piece:

According to a new documentary, Norma McCorvey, a.k.a. “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, made a deathbed confession that her pro-life conversion and activism was all an act, funded by anti-abortion organizations. I had a few off-the-record conversations with McCorvey over the years, and nothing in those chats felt scripted to me. You can never really know, I suppose. My guess is that McCorvey was a troubled woman, thrown into the middle of one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in history, who shifted her positions in search of public approval.

Whatever the case, her later stances have no bearing on the debate over abortion. The fact that pro-life groups paid McCorvey to speak is not a big revelation nor a big deal. Nor do her vacillating claims tells us anything valuable about the constitutional validity of Roe v. Wade or the morality of dispensing with human life for convenience.

Yet Laura Basset at GQ would have her readers believe that McCorvey’s deathbed admission tells us everything Americans need to know about the pro-life movement.

Basset’s baffling and ahistorical central claim is that pre-Reagan Republicans were pro-abortion because they were racists and post-Reagan Republicans were pro-life also because they were racists — which is quite convenient.

7. More Ponnuru: He doubles down on the GQ pummeling. From the analysis:

Bassett tries to suggest that the pro-life movement originated because white Evangelical Christians were upset about racial desegregation. But her own story undermines the indictment. Desegregation upset Jerry Falwell Sr., she writes. But then she quotes someone else noting that white Evangelicals could not be mobilized based on that issue, and she says that Paul Weyrich tried a number of other issues to get them involved. Abortion worked. In other words, a lot more Evangelicals were fired up to fight abortion than were fired up to defend segregation. That’s supposed to reflect badly on them?

Bassett claims that Ronald Reagan did not genuinely oppose abortion, since he signed a liberalization law as governor of California. “Then as president, he said he regretted that move and suddenly opposed all abortions except to save the life of the mother.” Her chronology is wrong — Reagan had switched positions in public by at least four years before his presidency, and reportedly expressed private regrets a dozen years before it — and makes no sense given the rest of her narrative (which treats the pro-life stance as key to his becoming president in the first place, rather than a sudden post-election development). She provides no evidence for thinking that Reagan was lying when he said he had changed his mind.

8. Australia is taking on Red China. Therese Shaheen says it is critical that the U.S. stand lockstep with its Down Under ally. From the reflection:

China’s bullying and threats toward Australia go deeper than the trading relationship. Just behind beef, barley, and other commodities that Australia exports to China is education. PRC nationals as a percentage of all foreign nationals in Australian universities have doubled to more than 30 percent in the past 20 years. In the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra and surrounding communities, six in ten foreign students are from the PRC.

This influx has created a microcosm of broader tensions within the region in the Xi era on Australian university campuses. Last year during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Australian universities were venues for both Hong Kong–sympathetic demonstrations and counter-protests by pro-Beijing students. Violence requiring police action occurred at several locations, reflecting, as the New York Times put it, the degree to which “Australian universities have come to depend on Chinese donors, students and organizations that are often loyal to Beijing and intolerant of dissent.”

More worrisome is China’s alleged involvement in Australia’s political system. Late last year, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) — the domestic counter-terror, counter-intelligence agency — acknowledged an investigation into allegations from 2018 by a Melbourne car dealer that a businessman with links to Norinco, a Chinese state-owned defense company, offered him $1 million or more to run for Parliament from the suburban Melbourne community of Chisholm. The car dealer, according to press reports, was heavily in debt and was later found dead in a Melbourne hotel room. The man who made the alleged offer denied it, and the circumstances as well as the details of the investigation remain cloudy. But the pattern is one that Western intelligence agencies, including ASIO, take seriously. Certainly, Beijing attempted to undermine the recent presidential election in Taiwan and remains active in influence operations against the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. A Chinese defector to Australia late last year created a stir with his detailed descriptions of PRC activities in Taiwan and Hong; he had participated in operations in both places.

9. Kevin Williamson believes that the coronavirus lockdown may have infected the cause of socialism. From the essay:

We may not yet have a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, but we are well on our way to extracting from that virus a vaccine against a far deadlier plague: socialism, which in the 20th century alone killed more than three times as many people as HIV did in the same time, which has killed about twice as many people as the Black Death killed in the 14th century, and which continues to afflict victims around the world from Cuba to North Korea to Venezuela.

Every way of organizing community life (and that’s what “the economy” is — one important part of community life) brings with it certain advantages, certain disadvantages, and certain risks, and the disruptions caused by the coronavirus epidemic have exposed some of the weaknesses in our way of doing things. Those weaknesses are, as far as the current evidence will show, pretty modest. The low-inventory “just in time” model of production and distribution that characterizes so much of American business saves businesses and their customers money by reducing such carrying costs as warehousing, but it also means that retailers and distributors typically do not have a great deal of product on hand to see them through an interruption in deliveries.

It was, for a minute there, hard to find toilet paper in some places. Because the epidemic has been especially punishing for workers in meat-processing facilities, there have been some local shortages of meat, accompanied by such Captain Obvious headlines as: “Meat shortage prompts price hike.” A price hike is exactly what you want in a shortage. Before you start whining about “price gouging” (“price gouging” is what happens when the ordinary operation of free markets reflects real-world conditions that politicians wish were other than what they are) consider the alternative: the so-called paradox of gasoline in Venezuela.

Gasoline is very cheap in Venezuela. You could buy all you wanted — if you could buy any at all.

The government sets the price of gasoline at almost $0.00 (on paper, about a penny for 26 gallons) and rigorously controls production and distribution of the stuff — and so, of course, it is virtually impossible for an ordinary Venezuelan to legally purchase gasoline. Instead, Venezuelans buy gasoline, if they can buy it at all, on the black market, where they pay some of the highest prices in the world, well over $10 a gallon in a country in which most people earn less than $10 a month. In local terms, the average monthly salary in Venezuela will not pay for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef. In the United States, a month’s work at the minimum wage would buy about 300 pounds of beef; in the United Kingdom, a month’s work at minimum wage would buy more than 600 pounds of beef, as Max de Haldevang runs the numbers in Quartz.

As for our brief toilet-paper drought — Venezuela’s has been going on for a decade. Similar shortages have hit everything from rice to medicine to soap.

10. Dan McLaughlin does a thorough deep-dive into the known facts about Tara Read. From the piece:

Reade’s account would be more credible if she could place the alleged assault in an identifiable location. This was a point of contention in Christine Blasey Ford’s story: She never identified an address or whose house the alleged assault occurred in, or how she got home. This is not necessarily decisive, however, so much as it is a reminder that memories in general are untrustworthy at a distance of a quarter century or more.

The Capitol and Senate building complexes are full of twists and turns and alcove-like places that can be secluded, even during business hours. Senators have their own little hideaway offices, which the NewsHour piece conspicuously ignores. If Reade took the direct route described by Biden staffers, she would not have encountered the kind of alcove she describes. But if we consider that she may have misremembered where the incident took place in the complex, her account is no longer implausible; it is just wrong on one detail. That detail is important, but by itself, it does not settle anything.

When: Reade is able to narrow down the timeframe only to a two-month window in April or May of 1993. Reade says that she was removed from her duties supervising interns after that, and two (unnamed) interns told the New York Times that she abruptly stopped supervising them in April. They knew the date because spring internships on the Hill typically ended at the end of April, and she was removed from supervisory duties before they left. This is the part of her story that is most directly corroborated by other witnesses, albeit anonymous ones.

The date range and corroboration are more specific than anything Blasey Ford offered. In that case, we had nothing to go on but a range of years in the early 1980s. Nonetheless, it still puts Biden in a position similar to that of Kavanaugh: He can’t really be expected to provide an alibi without a more specific time period.

What she wore: Reade says that it was a warm spring day, and she was wearing no stockings due to the heat, and crotchless panties because she was meeting her boyfriend later. Young finds the latter detail odd, though it seems broadly consistent with Reade’s recollection that she was sometimes “told to dress more conservatively” after “she later complained to others in the office that Biden would put his hands on her shoulder, neck, and hair during meetings in ways that made her uncomfortable.” She told Megyn Kelly that Marianne Baker, Biden’s assistant for three decades, specifically instructed her to wear longer skirts and button up her blouses more, but Reade also insists today that there was nothing unusual or objectionable about her regular attire.

11. When it comes to the corruption and criminality behind the Obama administration’s contrived case against General Flynn, and so much related to that, Victor Davis Hanson is naming names and creating categories. From the analysis:

Samantha Power testified to Congress that she could not remember her own requests to the NSA for the identities of more than 300 redacted American names swept up in government surveillance. In response, Congressman Trey Gowdy described her as “the largest unmasker of U.S. persons in our history” — a curious obsession with espionage and intelligence for a U.N. ambassador. Did Power have sudden memory loss while testifying under oath, or was her office a de facto clearinghouse for dozens of lower-level operatives who sought her pro forma signature to allow them to request unmaskings of such redactions? Or was the Harvard-trained lawyer simply lying under oath? Did she assume that no one of her stature who lies to Congress — compare the exemptions given congressional prevaricators such as James Clapper and John Brennan — is ever held to account? Apparently not in Power’s mind, when in March 2018 she warned Donald Trump about the reach even then of former CIA director John Brennan: “Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

James Comey on 245 occasions could not remember or did not know the answer when asked factual questions by the House Intelligence Committee. Did the FBI stickler for memorializing presidential conversations and taking notes nonstop simply have an unplugged moment like Power, or is he suffering some of the same cognitive issues that now challenge Joe Biden?

Robert Mueller on 198 occasions told House members while under oath that he could not answer their questions because he didn’t know, he couldn’t remember, he couldn’t speculate, or he couldn’t get into such matters. He seemed oblivious to the role that the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS had played in the entire collusion mythography — as Congress was left to speculate whether Mueller was either lying or non compos mentis, or a figurehead who knew nothing about the basic facts and nomenclature of his own 22-month investigation.

12. Related: Peter Kirsanow has 20 questions for Barack Obama about his buck-stops-here role in the FBI Follies. From the piece:

On August 15, 2016, Strzok texted page, “I want to believe the path you threw out there in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Since the White House was “running this,” and given the recently released House Intelligence transcripts show your administration’s top officials had no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, what, precisely, constituted the “insurance policy?”

On September 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok, “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Did you tell Page and/or those directing her you wanted to know everything they were doing?

If so, what were you told?

Did they tell you about the “insurance policy”?

The FISA applications? 

The Steele dossier?

13. Joshua Kleinfeld and Rachel Kleinfeld propose a way to have secure elections in November, even with expanded absentee voting. From the proposal:

First, recognize that we risk a Wisconsin-style election debacle if we don’t act. Last month, Wisconsin insisted on going forward with in-person voting in the middle of the pandemic. The result? Turnout in some counties dropped by over 40 percent relative to 2016. Poll workers, who tend to be elderly, stayed home, forcing Milwaukee to close 175 polling locations (leaving just five) and Green Bay to close 29 (leaving just two). That meant absurdly (and dangerously) long lines at the few polling stations that stayed open. Meanwhile, absentee voting spiked by 70 percent compared with the 2016 primary. Since the state wasn’t prepared for the additional million absentee requests it received, thousands of absentee ballots weren’t mailed in time, weren’t counted, or were simply lost in tubs. (One of the illusions in this debate is the notion that absentee versus in-person voting is completely up to politicians. It’s not. Tens of millions of voters already have the legal right to vote absentee at will. Their states just aren’t ready for the numbers they’ll see in November.) Finally, confusing last-minute litigation marred the sense of certainty that elections are supposed to provide.

In the end, Democrats came out ahead, picking up a key state-supreme-court seat. That fact alone should spur Republicans to reconsider whether insisting on in-person voting is good for the party, at least during an election that has liberals fired up and the elderly inclined to stay home. But the larger story in Wisconsin was an election “almost certain to be tarred as illegitimate.” All Wisconsinites lost that day. All Americans will lose if similar dysfunction happens nationwide in November. Legitimacy questions are bad for the country in the best of times. They can be catastrophic during a medical and economic crisis.

Second, realize that this election is a matter of national pride and international power. American elections matter beyond U.S. borders. China and the United States are competing for influence in the world today. Prior phases of the competition were about economic productivity and military might. The present one is about which political system can deal more effectively with a pandemic. The world is watching, and the results could affect the future prospects of democracy itself.

14. C’zar Bernstein defends Constitutional originalism from its new detractors. From the essay:

Correct interpretation, then, consists in discovering what a text originally meant. If this linguistic rule does not suddenly change when legal texts are the object, then one who wishes to interpret them correctly must be open to the possibility that they will not always endorse views with which one morally agrees.

But principled originalism is not merely a thesis about linguistic meaning. It is in addition the view that those charged with interpreting legal texts, including our Constitution, ought to do so in accord with their original meanings, at least in part because the linguistic thesis is true. These two theses are logically distinct. For example, one can consistently acquiesce in the general linguistic theory but for consequentialist reasons believe that judges ought to interpret legal texts to yield good outcomes. So there is a gap between originalism’s linguistic thesis and its moral command, one that originalists must bridge.

One way in which originalists have sought to bridge that gap is called the Oath Theory. Article VI of the Constitution provides that “all . . . judicial Officers . . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution” (emphasis added). According to the Oath Theory, the constitutional oath generates a moral obligation for officeholders to give legal effect to, or abide by, the Constitution’s original meaning. That is of course controversial. What ought not be controversial is that at a minimum, the constitutional oath requires judges to make a faithful attempt to correctly interpret the Constitution and to give correct interpretations legal effect. That is, correct legal interpretation is part of faithfully discharging the duties of the judicial office, and to say that some constitutional provision means what one knows it does not mean is to fail to support this Constitution.

15. Andy McCarthy puts on the hiking boots to lead us through Susan Rice’s famous email, unredacted. From the analysis:

Try not to get dizzy. Rice has gone from claiming to have had no knowledge of Obama administration monitoring of Flynn and other Trump associates, to claiming no knowledge of any unmaskings of Trump associates, to admitting she was complicit in the unmaskings, to — now — a call for the recorded conversation between retired general Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to be released because it would purportedly show that the Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about Flynn (y’know, the guy she said she had no idea they were investigating).

Naturally, we have now learned that Rice was deeply involved in the Obama administration’s Trump–Russia investigation, including its sub-investigation of Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate who was slated to replace Rice as national-security advisor when President Trump took office. Last night, I did a column for Fox News, analyzing the newly unredacted paragraph from Rice’s previously reported email memorializing a White House meeting on these subjects.

The meeting took place on January 5, 2017, and involved Rice, Obama, and Vice President Biden, the administration’s top political hierarchy on national-security matters, along with Obama’s top law-enforcement and counterintelligence officials, deputy attorney general Sally Yates (soon formally to take the acting AG role she was already performing), and FBI director James Comey. Prior redactions had already demonstrated that the meeting’s central purpose was to discuss the rationale for withholding intelligence about Russia from the incoming Trump national-security team.

Lights. Camera. Action!

1. Armond White takes on two Obama-pandering displays. From the review:

Booksmart, the critically acclaimed girl-power comedy, featured the most egregious high-school commencement speech ever sponsored by mainstream media until former president Barack Obama’s spiel on last weekend’s all-network broadcast Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.

Both the film and the telecast are products of media indoctrination, the none-too-subtle political programming that eludes notice — and alarm — by posing as cultural remedies. Graduate Together, a one-hour spectacle, pieced together shelter-in-place videos of teens whose high-school commencement exercises were cancelled because of the COVID-19 restrictions. And the teen flick Booksmart pandered to the same adolescent group-think, using comedy tropes familiar from Animal House, Porky’s, American Pie, and Superbad.

This style of coercion results from new marketing cynicism. Pretending to console students for missing out on what Obama listed as “proms, senior nights, graduation ceremonies, and, let’s face it, a whole bunch of parties,” Graduate Together used the media’s stock methods of flattery and condescension, turning isolated web-cam and video-conference teens into temporary celebrities alongside actual showbiz and sports celebrities, going for that uniquely Millennial feeling of solidarity: instant fame.

Trouble is, that false sense of community (you too can be a Jonas Brother or one of Broadway’s lesser-known Platt brothers) is predicated on thinking alike, sharing the same political perspectives that are relentlessly propagated by movies, TV shows, and media events that push a rote liberal agenda.

Graduate Together made this dread fact unavoidable as its faux celebrations led up to Obama’s climactic smiley appearance as the ultimate commencement celebrity speechifier. Obama was billed as if he was still the actual, functioning president of the United States.

2. More Armond: He is liking Josh Trank’s Capone. From the review:

In his extraordinary 2012 debut Chronicle, Trank played out the dangerous extremes of youthful zeal in dreamlike genre tropes from sci-fi to monster flicks. (Hormonal excess and spiritual confusion was the subtext.) His follow-up, Fantastic Four, was awkwardly told and less poetic; its failure was a setback, although its major fault was that the poignant Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) subplot simply came before the Black Panther sensation.

In Capone, Trank takes on the gangster-movie vogue. He forces Capone himself and generations of his admirers entranced by such movies as The Godfather, Scarface, even TV’s The Sopranos, into unexpected moral confrontation. Karma hits the killer-bootlegger with a vengeance: Haunted by regrets, he can’t control his bodily functions, and the family hanging on at his palatial Florida estate live like deposed royalty in exile.

The hip-hop generation, which took gangster movies to heart, channeling their crack- and Reagan-era social frustration, identified with revenge and bravado but was not big on consequences. Scarface’s explosive finale worked aberrantly and was enjoyed for its explosive self-destruction, like Cagney in White Heat, while the increasingly secularized culture rejected the ethnic and ethical reckoning of The Godfather, Part III. TV’s The Sopranos came along to confirm this moral abandonment. Decadent hipster Luca Guadagnino has just announced that Scarface will be his next remake; luckily, Capone is streaming at the same time.

Podcastapalooza

1. Kudos to John J. Miller, who records Episode 300 of The Bookmonger, interviewing Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash to discuss his book, The Living Presidency. Listen here.

2. More JJM: On The Great Books, Dedra “Mrs. BB” Birzer joins John to discuss J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Listen here.

3. The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast may have a nitwit cohost, but the show’s star overcame the prattle this week and discussed how the “best and brightest” have destroyed evidence, altered documents, lied, leaked, and pled amnesia; the inspirational lessons an America emerging from a pandemic lockdown might take from WWII; woke billionaires lecturing; how America cares for the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice; and about his dad and his namesake — two WWII warriors who endured hell, one of whom lost his life on Okinawa. Listen here.

4. And in a special Memorial Day Weekend edition of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, guest co-host Rich Lowry talks warfare, battles, and generals with the esteemed military historian, VDH. Listen here.

5. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss Trump’s statement that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, and who is right when it comes to wearing a mask. You gotta listen, and can do that here.

6. And then on a special edition of The Editors, Rich and David Bahnsen discuss the state of the economy, unemployment, and how he thinks the U.S. will emerge from this crisis. Catch it here.

7. At Radio Free California, Will and David confirm that Elon Musk’s battle with regulators reveals everything about the late, great state of California. Hear here.

8. On the new episode of Political Beats, Scot and Jeff discuss Crowded House with Notre Dame Law prof Jeff Pojanowski. Get in the groove here.

9. On the new episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Charlie and Kevin discuss musical genius. Tune in here.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin says that it’s time to ditch and replace WHO. From the piece:

China’s deliberate attempts to obfuscate the origins of the pandemic has provoked an outcry, with a number of nations, such as the U.S. and Australia, calling for a truly independent international inquiry to be held into how the pandemic started, as well as China’s lack of transparency in alerting the rest of the world to the potential impact of Covid-19.

A total of 122 countries, including the U.S. and most European governments, have given their backing to an Australian proposal to set up an impartial, independent and comprehensive investigation into the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. But the move has been bitterly opposed by Beijing, which claims the initiative is nothing more than a “political manoeuvre”. The Chinese are particularly incensed by the lead role Australia has taken in orchestrating calls for an independent inquiry, and have responded by banning imports of Australian beef.

Mr Xi’s offer, therefore, to support an inquiry by the WHO into the pandemic amounts to little more than yet another attempt by China’s communist rulers to avoid proper scrutiny about Beijing’s culpability for spreading Covid-19 throughout the rest of the globe.

The only problem for Mr Xi and his communist comrades is that the WHO, through its slavish devotion to Beijing, now finds itself hopelessly compromised by its close association with China’s leadership, with the result that no one beyond the confines of Beijing believes the organisation has the credibility to undertake an investigation that is truly independent.

This is certainly the view of the Trump administration, which has responded to the WHO’s total failure to hold Beijing to account for causing the global pandemic by threatening to withdraw its support from the organisation altogether.

2. In the new issue of Modern Age, Daniel McCarthy takes on a society of scolds, and the progeny of Thomas Hobbes. From the beginning of the essay:

Fear was a natural enough response to the arrival of the coronavirus on America’s shores. The novel virus from Wuhan is highly infectious and had already caused thousands of deaths in China and Italy by the time hotspots of infection began to appear here. What was remarkable, however, was not that Americans were alarmed to the point of panic-hoarding toilet paper, or that officials responded with such sweeping policies as “shelter in place” orders, but that activists on social media reacted with fury toward anyone who failed to be fearful enough—anyone who, for example, questioned the wisdom of shutting down the consumer economy virtually overnight, with predictably dire consequences for the millions of cooks, waiters, drivers, bartenders, retail clerks, hotel workers, and others who do not enjoy the luxury of being able to work from home.

A clash over policies and the trade-offs involved would be one thing, and, given the stakes, such a clash would inevitably involve powerful emotions. But even where there were minimal policy differences, those who were deemed by social media activists to be insufficiently affrighted were subjected to vitriolic hostility—standing accused of callousness or rank stupidity, a deficiency in morals or intelligence or both. Being a good person came to mean not just staying indoors and washing your hands and doing everything necessary to minimize your chances of catching the virus or infecting others, but also following self-appointed opinion leaders up to the right pitch of anxiety. Nothing practical depended on doing so, but something of the highest importance for social psychology did.

The professional opinion media played its role in all of this. An illustrative example was the reception that met R. R. Reno’s essay “Say ‘No’ to Death’s Dominion,” published on March 20 in First Things. Reno, the magazine’s editor, asked whether the concern for minimizing the risk to life at the cost of all else was not a form of “disastrous sentimentalism”: “Everything for the sake of physical life? What about justice, beauty, and honor? There are many things more precious than life,” he wrote. And for that he was pilloried by right-thinking persons in the mainstream media and in much of the Christian and conservative press, too. Bare life, and not life in the service of any higher ideal, was the supreme object, and death the greatest evil imaginable.

There was a philosopher once who placed fear and death at the heart of the social order. His name, of course, was Thomas Hobbes. The commentators and activists who police our attitudes toward fear and death today are not his disciples, but they are his children. Their liberalism—including in the case of many who identify as conservatives but identify their conservatism as “classical liberalism”—is conditioned and made possible by his philosophy, rebellious though they may be against the harsh truths of their father. Though liberalism explicitly prizes any number of lovely ideals, from freedom and equality to dignity and self-determination, at root it is an ideology of negation: “freedom from,” whether freedom from political control, from religious authority, or from fear itself. And the sort of character that would disregard death, and is moved by feelings stronger than fear, has to be negated before liberalism becomes possible. Hobbes tried to achieve that negation through a revolutionary philosophical framework, and liberalism today thrives only in his system’s shadow.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, the inestimable Bradley Birzer looks at the history of the First and Second Banks of the U.S., and their roles in creating America’s political parties. From the analysis:

When President Washington approved the chartering of the Bank for twenty years, it immediately (again, for better or worse) created debt on which private banks could borrow and it also put the United States—at least on paper—on par with other great powers in the world who also relied upon debt and financial manipulation. Of the twenty-five governors, only five would come from the U.S. government, with the rest coming from private industry. The United States enjoyed immense prosperity during the years of the First Bank, but its prosperity—fueled by trade with warring Britain and France—might very well have been in spite of the Bank rather than because of the Bank.

The First Bank, however, influenced much more than mere economics, and many scholars believe that divisions caused by the Bank—whether the constitution should be interpreted broadly or strictly—led to the creation of the first real political divisions in the country.

When the First Bank expired in 1811, interestingly enough, no one seriously considered re-chartering it.

In the overwhelming rush of post-war nationalism, however, President Madison in 1816 wanted a Second Bank of the United States. From its opening moments, the Second Bank of the United States (SUSB) was a disaster for the country, economically and politically. Even Madison’s appointment of William Jones as the first president of the SUSB was pathetic, as Jones had been Madison’s Secretary of the Navy and a failed businessman. The appointment had been a mere political favor, and Jones had absolutely no clue how to run a bank. Worse, Jones was corrupt, and he used his position as president of the Bank to increase the wealth and prestige of his friends. The Bank quickly became an efficient means to shift wealth from the political nobodies to the politically-endowed. Hoping to avoid too much criticism—especially for the obvious political corruption—the Bank offered easy loans on easy credit, and, as a consequence, initiated one of the greatest eras of debt (proportionately) in the U.S. In 1815, for example, a year prior to the Bank’s creation, there was only $3 million in debt on the purchase of public lands. Two years after the creation of the SUSB, public debt on public lands stood at $17 million, and it reached $22 million a year later, in 1819. The number of banks—fueled by easy credit—expanded rapidly as well. In 1816, the year the SUSB came into existence, there were 246 banks in the U.S. Three years later, in 1819, there were 400. A committee of the Pennsylvania legislature reported: “The plenty of money, as it was called, was so profuse, that the managers of banks were fearful that they could not find a demand for all they could fabricate, and it was no infrequent occurrence to hear solicitations urged to individuals to become borrowers, under promises of indulgences the most tempting.”

4. How the vulnerable were hung out to dry, and die. At The Hill, Red Jahnke tells the ugly story. From the piece:

What leaps to mind is that, in trying to protect everyone, we left the highly vulnerable few tragically exposed. A central precept of medicine in the context of scarce resources is triage. God knows, we had scarce resources as the pandemic broke out. When everyone can’t be saved, triage means focusing policy, effort and resources in a manner designed to maximize survivors — in the case of this virus, to protect those most clearly vulnerable.

The economic fallout of the shutdown has been catastrophic: more than 36 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. The unemployment rate has hit 14.7 percent, and is expected to exceed 20 percent. GDP has collapsed, falling by 4.6 percent in the first quarter, which included only two weeks of the shutdown; economists project a 30 percent GDP drop in the second quarter. We have added $3 trillion to our national debt just in the fiscal “stimulus” already dispensed. The Federal Reserve Bank has extended about $2.3 trillion in monetary support, even before launching several planned new programs. Income tax revenues will evaporate as businesses sustain losses and many individuals suffer massive declines in income.

In contrast, a targeted approach would not have required such a costly economic shutdown, quite simply because it would have focused almost exclusively upon people of retirement age.

There’s a pernicious canard circulating that focusing on the economy is “putting money before lives.” Does anyone seriously believe that these apocalyptic numbers do not spell extreme pain and decreased life expectancy for the vast majority of Americans?

5. At The College Fix, Christian Schneider squeals on the memo about school administrators trying to keep their Red China ties on the down low. From the article:

Attorneys for universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education are trying to block Congress from obtaining records that detail the schools’ ties with China, according to a May 19 letter exclusively obtained by The College Fix.

The letter, written by the Education Department’s General Counsel Reed Rubinstein, tells lawmakers who requested the documents that the universities’ lawyers “claimed Freedom of Information Act exemptions and legal privileges to block record production to Congress.”

Rubinstein wrote that some schools may be overly aggressive in marking some documents “confidential” or “privileged.”

Nevertheless, he added, staff will contact each school under investigation and let them know which records will be provided to Congress. To block a document being handed over, an objecting school “must provide written specification of the records designated for withholding and specific supporting legal grounds,” the letter states.

The letter does not explicitly state which schools lobbied the department to keep their records confidential.

Rubinstein’s memo is a response to a May 4 letter from several top House Republicans asking the Education Department to turn over documents on all findings or reports detailing gifts from China to U.S. colleges and universities, citing China’s infiltration of the American higher education system and concerns over theft, spying and propaganda.

6. At Law & Liberty, F. H. Buckley says there is more to life than rule-following. From the piece:

Finally, my problem with natural law is a problem with law itself. That’s not to say that laws don’t matter. They’re the first cut at a moral answer, and in many cases that’s all you need. “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t admit of too many exceptions. But rules are not enough. We might think that we’ve followed all the rules, but still wonder whether something more is wanted of us. The moral life is more than the rule-driven life.

Lawyers understand the limits of rules from their efforts at drafting long-term contracts. The goal in such cases is to assign rights and responsibilities for everything that might happen thereafter, and the problem is that this is impossible. A perfectly specified contract would tell the parties what to do in every conceivable future state of the world, completely covering every possible contingency. But there are just too many things that might happen. A “complete contingent contract” can never be written, and the best one can hope for is that, when the unexpected happens, we’ll find a good judge who’ll interpret the contract the way the parties would have written it had they addressed their minds to the possibility.

A complete contingent set of moral rules isn’t feasible either. Too many things can happen for anyone to prescribe what to do in each of the countless possible future worlds. That’s what Christ taught, in His answer to the rich young man in the Synoptic Gospels. The young man said he had followed all the commandments and wondered if anything more was required of him. Indeed yes, said Christ. If you want to be perfect, sell all you own and give to the poor, then come and follow Me. No wonder the disciples were dismayed. Who then can be saved, they wondered? (The answer is no one, absent grace.)

BONUS L&L: Lee Edwards makes the case for capitalism. From the essay:

Millennials urgently need some remedial history to fill the gaps left in their education. Many young Americans sympathetic to socialism mistakenly believe that capitalism is a relatively modern concept, first seriously examined in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, published in 1867. However, as the Harvard historian Richard Pipes wrote, private property—an essential ingredient of capitalism—has been an integral part of Western civilization since ancient Athens, which had “a highly developed system of private property.”

In the Politics, Aristotle accepted private property as inevitable and “ultimately a positive force,” asserting that people who hold things in common tend to quarrel more than those who hold them individually. Thomas Aquinas, the most influential theologian of the Middle Ages, emphasized that possession of private property was not just lawful but necessary for peace and order: “Quarrels arise more frequently where there is no division of things possessed.”

In 1776, two documents were published that shaped America and the rest of the world. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith analyzed how a market system can combine the freedom of individuals to pursue their own objectives with the widespread cooperation needed to produce “our food, our clothing, [and] our housing.” Smith described how an individual who “intends only his own gain” is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention….[B]y pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually.”

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, states that all men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As the political historian Matthew Spalding wrote, the founders understood that life, liberty, and property were closely connected, as expressed in the 1780 Massachusetts Bill of Rights:

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberty; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Baseballery

Back in the day, before the practice was hijacked by the MLB, the august Sporting News gave annual “Comeback Player of the Year” awards to the AL and NL players who had, well, come back. There must be something to come back from — depths, which would have been preceded by heights.

It would be harder to get to deeper depths than had Oakland Athletics righthander Matt Keough in 1979. His early years fated him to be with a dismal As squad, which lost an average 100 games in his first three seasons. In Keough’s rookie 1978 campaign, he was the As sole representative to the AL All-Star team, having put together a 6–4 record, with a 2.16 ERA, come the mid-season break.

That was the height. Then came the plunge: For the remainder of 1978, Keough went 2–11, with a season ERA of 3.24.

But further depths were waiting. In 1979, Keough had one of the worst-ever seasons of any MLB pitcher (since, in fact, the 1916 Athletics duo of Tom Sheehan and Jack Nabors, who — as discussed in our recent Leap Year edition of the WJ — chalked up respective records of 1–16 and 1–20). In Keough’s first 25 sophomore-year appearances — 23 of which were starts — his Win–Loss numbers stood at 0–14, the worst-ever start of any pitcher in modern MLB history. Keough’s first victory came on September 5, 1979, in a complete-game 6–1 triumph over the Milwaukee Brewers. He’d end the season with a gruesome 2–17 record.

With Oakland under new leadership in 1980 — Billy Martin began his post-Yankees term at the helm of Athletics — an inspired Keough went 16–13, with a 2.92 ERA and 20 complete games. It was a legitimate comeback, and the Sporting News award was clearly deserved. Keough would hurl through 1986, pitching for the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, and Astros. His career record was 58–84 with a 4.17 ERA.

Rest in Peace: Keough died earlier this month at the age of 64. He is survived by his dad, Marty Keough, an outfielder and first baseman who played for the Red Sox, Indians, Senators, Reds, Braves, and Cubs from 1956–1966.

We Remember this Weekend: Eddie Grant, who was killed in the Argonne Forest while leading his men searching for the Lost Battalion.

A Dios

At the conclusion of the Memorial Day parade in the old neighborhood, at the monument at the corner of Oneida Avenue and Van Cortland Parkway, an elderly man — sadly, his name is lost in the fog — would sing My Buddy (made famous by Bing Crosby, but this short version by Ray Charles tugs the heartstrings). Some would softly join him, and others tear up. The melancholy was lost on the Little Boy. Lost too: that in the crowd were siblings of a brother who breathed his last in the hills of Korea, a mother whose son had been cut down in the hedgerows of France, that there remained for many a piercing sorrow that had to be endured for decades. We take hope in this: that grief will be dissolved in the Kingdom of Heaven, when the fallen and honorable dead are whole, and will embrace those left behind. Let us pray this weekend for their souls, and if you seek fitting words, this is recommended:

Loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace.
Let the sounds of strife, the cries of battle, the wounds of war
be calmed for all eternity in Your loving and endless grace.
Let these great warriors find rest at last,
Ever reminded that we who are left behind
Cherish their spirit, honor their commitment,
Send them our love,
And will never forget the service that they gave.

The Ancient of Days’ Enduring Graces Be Upon You and All Those Your Love,

Jack Fowler, who can be emailed at jfowler@nationalreview.com, and followed on Twitter at twitter.com/JackFowler.

National Review

Welcome Sulfur Dioxide, Hello Carbon Monoxide

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

Before too long an uber-woke, granola-and-hemp aficionado, emerging from the throes of a prolonged ecstasy occurring deep inside the recycled-material interior of her off-the-grid tiny house, weeping bulbous tears of joy on her vegan-nourished pure-bred retriever, swooning with glee over humanity’s deserved abuse at the hands of a pathogen, will milk her schadenfreude and write an essay for The Atlantic extolling the 37 climate benefits of this glorious pandemic, then setting off a Twitter barrage in the midst of which one will find this tweet: “Benefit Number 17: By suppressing the greedy capitalist economy, we garaged the world’s CO2-spewing cars and planes and trucks and made the air CLEAN AND BREATHABLE! #GoGreen #PandemicUpside #ItsOurAir #MakeMineACorona”

You’ve surely already heard that claim, and surely also wondered — this is just another case of liberal smog, n’est-ce pas? Oh, my good conservative friend, do trust those instincts of yours — they’re so correct! And if you need some facts to back them up, well, there is a Todd Myers piece calling bull-doodles. Breathe deep from the wisdom NRO provides! Catch a big whiff:

In my hometown of Seattle, one environmental activist told the local paper that people can “physically see that difference in the cleaner air.” The air-quality data tell a different story.

According to the EPA’s air-quality monitors, levels of particulate matter — known as PM 2.5 — are not lower now and have, in fact, been higher recently than the median level of the last five years. Consisting of particles smaller than 2.5 microns, PM 2.5 includes natural sources such as smoke or sea salt, as well as human-caused pollution from combustion.

In Philadelphia, a city health commissioner said, “I would expect our air pollution levels will probably go down because the number of vehicles in the streets are less.” Recent particulate-matter levels, however, have been close to the five-year average.

In Dallas, the levels of PM 2.5 are higher than average. In Boston, they are slightly lower.

This counterintuitive result could be due to a number of influences, including weather. The key factor, however, is that in most places, human-caused pollution is small relative to natural sources. Even a significant reduction in the human contribution makes only a small difference.

So, why do so many activists claim the air is ‘physically cleaner’ in the United States?

Do consider reading the entire piece while listening to “Air” from Hair.

Meanwhile, the skies of jurisprudence were polluted this week by federal judge Emmett Sullivan, heck-bent to render unconstitutional diktats in order to keep the case against General Michael Flynn festering. More below.

In fact, much more below! Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy Jolt!

Editorials

1. In Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, we urge SCOTUS to stand by chromosomes and biology. From the editorial:

In October, the court heard oral arguments from the ACLU that Aimee Stephens, formerly Anthony, who had worked for six years at a funeral home in Detroit area, had been discriminated against on the basis of “sex,” prohibited under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Representing the funeral home, attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom argued that Stephens had not been unfairly discriminated against, but rather was fired for refusing to comply with the company’s sex-specific dress code.

The funeral home has the stronger case. There can be no dispute that, in 1964, the original public meaning of “sex” was anatomical and biological. Senator John Tower, who opposed the Act, stated the following during Senate debate on the topic of definitions at the time: “These terms are not defined. The term ‘sex’ is not defined, but I believe we can probably reason that that means an applicant is a man or a woman.” It is difficult to believe that the prohibition on discrimination “on the basis of sex” extended to the kinds of differentiation between the sexes that remain standard practice in millions of workplaces (e.g. separate restrooms and dress codes). Nevertheless, activists in originalists’ clothing, the ACLU attorneys have adopted a twofold strategy of sophistry, using “sex” interchangeably with “gender identity,” and kicking up dust with a secondary argument regarding sex “stereotyping.”

Boiled down, the ACLU’s argument goes like this: “But for” the fact that Stephens was born male, Stephens would not have been fired for adopting the female dress code. Surely, the correct comparator here is not a female employee fired for keeping the female dress code, but a female employee fired for breaking the female dress code. The funeral home’s justification for firing Stephens was simply that Stephens, a male employee, ought to have dressed like other male employees. As for stereotyping, as the feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), wrote in its amicus brief in support of the funeral home, “Stephens’ desire to wear clothing designed for women out of a desire to ‘live. . . as a woman’ [is] simply an enshrinement of the discredited . . . sex-based stereotypes, which Title VII. . . . intended to abolish.”

If You Wanted Only a Dozen NRO Links, You Will Be Sorely Disappointed, Because, Bubs and Bubstresses, We’ve Got 20 Coming at You

1. Everything you wanted to know about Judge Sullivan’s wildly partisan decision, but were afraid to ask, courtesy of the expertise of Andrew C. McCarthy. From the analysis:

There is no complex legal issue to be resolved. DOJ’s dismissal motion may be politically controversial, but legally it is pro forma. The only branch of government constitutionally authorized to proceed with a criminal prosecution is the executive. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute. There is nothing for the judge to do besides the ministerial task of ending the case on the court’s records.

Lest we forget, the primary function of the federal judiciary is to protect the accused from overbearing government action, not to agitate for the prosecution of Americans. Even if he’s convinced Flynn is as guilty as the day is long, one might expect Judge Sullivan to be disturbed by the FBI’s perjury trap, by its editing of and misrepresentations about the “302 report” of Flynn’s interview. By the prosecution’s withholding of exculpatory evidence and concealment from the court of its threat to prosecute Flynn’s son. By the derelictions of Flynn’s original counsel, who took the case notwithstanding a deep conflict-of-interest, and who appear to have counseled Flynn to plead guilty without ever reviewing rudimentary discovery — we know they never inspected the 302 (which is mind-boggling in a false-statements case); did they ever demand that Mueller’s prosecutors produce the recording of the Flynn–Kislyak “sanctions” conversation that is the heart of the case?

Those are the kinds of questions a responsible judge would be posing, not, “How do I sentence this guy if DOJ won’t prosecute?” Regardless of what the DNC and CNN have to say on the matter, Flynn is supposed to be presumed innocent as far as Judge Sullivan is concerned.

2. Yes indeed, says David Harsanyi, the Obama administration was engaged in serious corruption. From the commentary:

Democrats and their allies, who like to pretend that President Obama’s only scandalous act was wearing a tan suit, are going spend the next few months gaslighting the public by focusing on the most feverish accusations against Obama. But the fact is that we already have more compelling evidence that the Obama administration engaged in misconduct than we ever did for opening the Russian-collusion investigation.

It is not conspiracy-mongering to note that the investigation into Trump was predicated on an opposition-research document filled with fabulism and, most likely, Russian disinformation. We know the DOJ withheld contradictory evidence when it began spying on those in Trump’s orbit. We have proof that many of the relevant FISA-warrant applications — almost every one of them, actually — were based on “fabricated” evidence or riddled with errors. We know that members of the Obama administration, who had no genuine role in counterintelligence operations, repeatedly unmasked Trump’s allies. And we now know that, despite a dearth of evidence, the FBI railroaded Michael Flynn into a guilty plea so it could keep the investigation going.

What’s more, the larger context only makes all of these facts more damning. By 2016, the Obama administration’s intelligence community had normalized domestic spying. Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, famously lied about snooping on American citizens to Congress. His CIA director, John Brennan, oversaw an agency that felt comfortable spying on the Senate, with at least five of his underlings breaking into congressional computer files. His attorney general, Eric Holder, invoked the Espionage Act to spy on a Fox News journalist, shopping his case to three judges until he found one who let him name the reporter as a co-conspirator. The Obama administration also spied on Associated Press reporters, which the news organization called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” And though it’s been long forgotten, Obama officials were caught monitoring the conversations of members of Congress who opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

3. For a while, it seemed like a New York governor would have a doctor arrested if he didn’t admit an elderly coronavirus-sufferer to infect a nursing home. Victor Davis Hanson considers the strange case of Andrew Cuomo . . . and Brother Christopher. From the piece:

Much like today, the virus not only sickened the civilian population but also ravaged the U.S. servicemen, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack. During the Battle of New York City in 1776, the smallpox epidemic grew so dire that Commander-in-Chief George Washington described it as more dangerous than “the Sword of the Enemy.” And he was correct — for every soldier killed in battle, an estimated ten others died from disease.

Also like today, there were concerns that adversaries might use disease against us. The British intentionally sent infected prisoners back to American communities to spread the scourge. In fact, one British officer recommended, “Dip arrows in matter of smallpox and twang them at the American rebels.” (Guns and bullets were almost universal at this point; this measure was intended specifically to injure and infect.) Whether actively spreading the virus or merely taking advantage of its natural spread, Washington’s enemies sought to leverage America’s weakened state.

Despite being centuries of technological advancement behind us, our first commander-in-chief’s approach to the epidemic parallels today’s: Washington first moved to seal off his troops from foreign entrants, then he checked for symptoms within his camp and quarantined anyone suspected of being infected.

In the end, however, the quarantines proved difficult to enforce and ultimately unable to stop the spread, so inoculation emerged as the only real solution. But Washington faced fierce opposition. Inoculation was a grotesque procedure that involved first scratching the patient’s arm and inserting pus from a smallpox victim into the healthy person’s wound. This would cause the patient to contract a case far milder than if he were to inhale the virus or otherwise catch it more naturally. But he would enjoy lasting immunity.

4. Zachary Evans reports on the bipartisan effort of College Republicans and Democrats to call for the end of ChiCom-funded Confucius institutes polluting many an American college campus. From the article:

In its first official act, the Athenai Institute released a letter on Wednesday calling for the closure of Confucius institutes at U.S. colleges and universities, as well as for “full and public disclosure of all ties, both financial and academic, between centers of higher learning and all Chinese state agencies and proxies.”

The letter has been signed by the leadership of both the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America, as well as numerous human rights groups committed to protecting Uighur and Tibetan minorities from persecution in China.

“The Chinese government’s flagrant attempts to coerce and control discourse at universities in the United States and around the world pose an existential threat to academic freedom as we know it. It is a civic and moral imperative that we protect that freedom,” the letter states. “In the fight against authoritarianism, universities can continue to benefit from the largesse of an emboldened authoritarian state, or they can stand on the right side of history. They cannot do both.”

China has funded Confucius institutes at universities throughout the world, ostensibly to promote knowledge of Chinese language and culture. However, U.S. officials have warned that the institutes essentially serve as propaganda outlets.

5. Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes have a few questions for Qui Tiankai, Red China’s disinformation-spreading Ambassador to the U.S. From the piece:

Why has China, to date, refused international requests, including from the WHO, to undertake on-site investigations into the origin of the virus?

The Wuhan lockdown was declared on January 23, and Wuhan residents were prohibited from traveling to other parts of China. Why were many thousands still allowed to travel to other countries?

Xu Zhiyong, Chen Qiushi, Fangbin, and Li Zehua are journalists, activists, and businesspeople. All have disappeared after their critical reporting about responses to COVID-19. Is your government investigating these disappearances? Why are state authorities investigating tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, who raised legitimate questions about how COVID-19 has been handled? Why has scholar Xu Zhang Run, whose concerns have been aired in this publication, been silenced? Was Dr. Ai Fen pressured by authorities after her reports on COVID-19?

6. Congressman Mike Gallagher wants the U.S. to have Taiwan’s back. From the piece:

It’s hard to have a more high-quality friend than Taiwan — a vibrant democracy under intense pressure that deserves our full support.

Unfortunately, support for Taiwan has been inconsistent. Unlike NATO’s crystal-clear Article V collective-defense commitment, the U.S. commitment to Taiwan has been muddled. Since the Carter administration, the United States has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity.” Once upon a time, proponents of this strategy may have told themselves that they were calming tensions by deterring both sides from precipitous action: Beijing could not count on our restraint if they opted for invasion, while Taipei could not count on our support if they declared independence.

Yet while Taiwan has embraced restrained, responsible statecraft, Beijing has poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, used economic leverage to punish Taipei, and engaged in dangerous military provocations with growing frequency. At a broader level, the cross-strait balance of power has shifted in Beijing’s favor thanks to a rapid rise in military spending, and General Secretary Xi Jinping has made clear his intent to annex Taiwan by whatever means necessary. The Chinese military threat to Taiwan is no longer a long-term hypothetical scenario. Rather, it is a dangerous course of action that gets more likely the less we stand up to CCP aggression.

7. There’s nothing heroic about Nancy Pelosi’s latest multi-trillion-dollar pandemic-relief bill, says Kevin Williamson. From the analysis:

The so-called HEROES Act — and, please, please, please, can we finally stop with the sophomoric acronyms? — is another wish list from the House Democrats. It contains the usual Democratic wish-list items, one of the more expensive of which is a proposal to shunt vast streams of federal revenue into badly managed states and cities in order to buy them out of their self-inflicted financial troubles. More than $1 trillion of the $3 trillion package would be in the form of aid to state and local governments, with almost all of that money — $915 billion of it — in unrestricted cash. This will be a great boon to states and cities (largely but not exclusively Democratic) that have hamstrung themselves financially by promising government workers fat pensions and retirement benefits without actually spending the money necessary to fund those programs. States and cities generally cannot go into debt to finance regular operating expenses such as salaries (they do borrow money for infrastructure projects and the like), but they can effectively borrow from their pension systems by promising benefits in the future but using the cash today for other purposes.

That creates real problems. But those problems have almost nothing to do with the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent economic shutdown. The cities and states have taken on some extra expenses during the public-health emergency, but the biggest effect on their finances will come from lost revenue. There is a case to be made (a reasonable one if not a completely persuasive one) for helping cities and states backfill some of that lost revenue in these extraordinary times, though leaders in states with more responsibly managed finances and well-maintained rainy-day funds object to subsidizing their spendthrift neighbors. That’s a question of “fairness,” which, in politics, means . . . whatever anybody wants it to mean.

The basic problem is financial, not ethical. Many states already are spending more on their retirees than they are on current priorities such as higher education. So out of whack are the state pension systems that the Pew Trusts estimated their 2018 liabilities at more than $1.5 trillion. That doesn’t mean that $1.5 trillion would solve the states’ pension problems — it means that $1.5 trillion would get them to the point where their pension systems are broke rather than laboring under $1.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Even with those liabilities gone, the states would be required to continue to make ongoing pension contributions that are heavy today and only getting heavier. The question is: How much do you want to shortchange today’s first-graders and college freshmen in the service of tomorrow’s retired DMV clerks? Round your answer to the nearest trillion dollars.

8. Madeleine Kearns looks at the Connecticut trans athletes’ lawsuit and sees a need for chromosomal honesty. From the beginning of the piece:

In the latest installment of our dystopian black comedy, Biological Sex v. Gender Identity, using the scientifically accurate term “males” to refer to boys who “identify” as girls is enough to land you in contempt of court.

District Judge Robert Chatigny, during an April 16 conference call, chastised the attorneys who are contesting Connecticut’s transgender sports policy on behalf of three female high-school athletes. During the call, as reported first by National Review’s Jack Crowe, who obtained a transcript, Chatigny said that using the term “male” to refer to — well, male athletes — was “very provocative,” tantamount to “bullying.” Thereafter, in his court, it would be unacceptable, he warned.

Never mind that the two transgender athletes in question were born male and lived unambiguously as such until several years ago, when, in their late teens, they began socially “identifying” as females and competing with girls. Enabled by their state’s athletic conference, the pair have, between them, claimed 15 women’s state-championship titles and deprived countless more girls of the opportunity to participate in races and compete for scholarships.

How can you parse such blatant injustice? How can you view perpetrators as the victims? The only way to do this is to believe, as the ACLU attorneys claim to believe, that the boys — declaring themselves to be female — are female. In this instance, the person they are required to convince is not the average American, but the presiding judge. Luckily for them, he has already decided in their favor.

9. The cold facts, as Jerry Hendrix explains them, all make the case for why the U.S. Navy must keep the Arctic Sea open. From the beginning of the piece:

Last week, the United States Navy sent ships into the Barents Sea for the first time since 2010. The U.S. Naval Forces Europe announced that the exercise was intended “to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies.” This was a good first step. But four ships operating in an ice-free Barents Sea will not reverse the decades of neglect and lack of investment in the types of ships necessary for the United States to protect its interests and those of its allies in the Arctic region. Currently, its lack of investment in icebreakers and other types of ships that can operate consistently and safely in ice-laden seas is freezing the U.S. out of conversations about the Arctic Ocean. This lack of investment has translated into U.S. diplomatic and military reluctance to push back against Russia’s expanded maritime Arctic claims. As a result, the historic principle of mare liberum (freedom of the seas) — a bedrock of international norms since the Dutch jurist Grotius conceived it — may yield to a maritime “Iron Curtain,” as Russia restricts who and what can travel through its near waters. To reverse this trend, the U.S. must immediately begin conducting consistent Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the high north.

Since 1983, U.S. policy has been to exercise U.S. ships to assert its navigation rights and freedoms in a manner consistent with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), even though the U.S. is not a signatory to the convention. Since that time, according to a Department of Defense website, the United States Navy has conducted well over 400 FONOPs, countering the excessive maritime claims of some 60 nations. The reasons stated for these FONOPs have ranged from rejection of requirements that foreign warships not enter a territorial sea without prior authorization, to rejecting baselines not drawn in accordance with current laws and norms and attempts to restrict transit or innocent passage through international straits. More recently the U.S. Navy has used FONOPs to push back on new attempts to limit foreign vessels from entering exclusive economic zones, or attempts by China to create artificial islands and then use these illegal constructs to serve as justification for territorial sea claims. As might be expected, a large proportion of FONOPs have been conducted against authoritarian nations, such as China and Iran, which reject a free sea, or freedom generally.

10. A CNN poll had some good news for Donald Trump . . . so the grave-diggers were called in. Kyle Smith noticed. From the piece:

Only after all of this stuff did we learn that CNN has a new poll out, under the headline, “CNN Poll: Biden tops Trump nationwide, but battlegrounds tilt Trump.” Polls are expensive, news organizations tend to hype them breathlessly to generate headlines in rival media outlets, Wednesday was (obviously) a slow news day, and politics is one of CNN’s core topics. Yet CNN seemed oddly unenthused about its own poll. And the story to which the homepage linked doesn’t mention that Trump had never scored higher in a CNN poll. True, there are lots of noisy data in the piece, most of which cut against Trump. But on the other hand the single most surprising and hence most newsworthy detail of the poll was that Trump holds a seven-point lead over Biden in the battleground states. The CNN story doesn’t even tell us what that figure is — seven points seems like a pretty big number — and downplays its own finding by noting, “Given the small sample size in that subset of voters, it is difficult to determine with certainty whether the movement is significant or a fluke of random sampling.”

11. Allen Guelzo whales on The 1619 Project. From the essay:

The follies of The 1619 Project begin with its title. Most of the time, when we think of how the United States began, we think of 1776 — the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. What The 1619 Project asked us to do was to dial that beginning date back to 1619 — the year the first African slaves were deposited on the shore of what was then the English colony of Virginia. As The 1619 Project’s lead writer, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, insists, this was the real moment of America’s beginnings. “No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed,” wrote Hannah-Jones. “Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day.”

For that reason, the purpose of The 1619 Project has been “to reframe American history” by placing “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.” And through the articles and artistic contributions that compose The 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones and her collaborators have presented us with a totally new vista of America: not a land of hope, but one of misery; not a land of independence, but a land whose founders staged their revolution against Britain in 1776 to protect slaveholding; not a land of economic freedom and entrepreneurial capitalism, but a land where capitalism is modeled on plantation slavery; not a land that fought a great Civil War under a Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, to free the slaves, but a land where a racist Lincoln actually plotted to deport freed slaves; a land where (in Kevin Kruse’s essay, “How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam”) even modern urban traffic scrums are the product of racially segregated city planning.

I have been a teacher of American history virtually all my life, and if there is one lesson I have learned from all that, it’s to beware of historical explanations that come down to one single cause. Human events and motivations, like human relationships, are always more complicated than that, and a cause that claims to explain everything usually winds up explaining nothing. In the Middle Ages, people tried to explain the movement of the stars and the planets by putting the earth at the center. When the stars and the planets didn’t behave according to that, they invented more and more elaborate explanations of why the earth had to be the center, until finally all the elaborate explanations broke down of their own weight, and we were ready for Copernicus. Of course, not every all-purpose explanation ends with a whimper. In 1903, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion offered a similar one-cause anti-Semitic explanation for global misery, and that, as the history of the 20th century attests, ended very, very badly.

12. George Nash, the conservative historian, puts the pandemic in perspective. From the piece:

For a time in the summer of 1918, the pandemic seemed to peter out. Then, in late August — in Europe, the eastern United States, and a section of Africa — it returned in mutated form. This second wave was far more deadly than the first, and it spread like a silent tornado. Striking first at U.S. sailors in Boston Harbor on August 27, it soon found its way inland. According to the New England Historical Society, on September 8 it reached Camp Devens (about 40 miles from Boston), where 50,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed. By September 23 more than 10,500 of them were sick with the influenza. By the 29th, they were reportedly dying at the rate of 100 per day.

Along the Atlantic seaboard and beyond, the pandemic spread with incredible speed and ferocity, assailing more and more of the civilian population. In Philadelphia, where the disease arrived via a visiting ship in September, hundreds of workers in the Navy Yard quickly became infected. Despite this warning sign, the city’s public-health director refused to cancel a scheduled Liberty Loan parade designed to raise money for the war effort. At least 200,000 people jammed the parade route on September 28. Within a week 45,000 residents of the city were stricken with the influenza. Within six weeks, 12,000 Philadelphians expired from it, the highest death toll for any American city.

By the time the pandemic’s second wave subsided in early 1919, at least 45,000 residents of Massachusetts had succumbed. By the time a third wave of the epidemic ended in the spring of 1919, an estimated 500,000 to 675,000 Americans had died of the disease, in a period when the U. S. population was less than one-third of what it is today. In the U.S. Army, which sent more than a million soldiers to fight overseas in World War I, more personnel perished from the influenza than from combat wounds.

13. Logan Beirne tells of The Father of Our Country, fighting a war and a contagion. From the article:

Much like today, the virus not only sickened the civilian population but also ravaged the U.S. servicemen, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack. During the Battle of New York City in 1776, the smallpox epidemic grew so dire that Commander-in-Chief George Washington described it as more dangerous than “the Sword of the Enemy.” And he was correct — for every soldier killed in battle, an estimated ten others died from disease.

Also like today, there were concerns that adversaries might use disease against us. The British intentionally sent infected prisoners back to American communities to spread the scourge. In fact, one British officer recommended, “Dip arrows in matter of smallpox and twang them at the American rebels.” (Guns and bullets were almost universal at this point; this measure was intended specifically to injure and infect.) Whether actively spreading the virus or merely taking advantage of its natural spread, Washington’s enemies sought to leverage America’s weakened state.

Despite being centuries of technological advancement behind us, our first commander-in-chief’s approach to the epidemic parallels today’s: Washington first moved to seal off his troops from foreign entrants, then he checked for symptoms within his camp and quarantined anyone suspected of being infected.

In the end, however, the quarantines proved difficult to enforce and ultimately unable to stop the spread, so inoculation emerged as the only real solution. But Washington faced fierce opposition. Inoculation was a grotesque procedure that involved first scratching the patient’s arm and inserting pus from a smallpox victim into the healthy person’s wound. This would cause the patient to contract a case far milder than if he were to inhale the virus or otherwise catch it more naturally. But he would enjoy lasting immunity.

14. Michael Brendan Dougherty sees occasional tough talk, but no real tough action, in Donald Trump’s dealings with the ChiComs. From the beginning of the piece:

How much of what we hear from day to day is really just meant to please the Chinese Communist Party? When LeBron James said that Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong comments were “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation,” had he engaged in a direct conversation with a Chinese dignitary or had the NBA merely relayed its concerns to him on China’s behalf? Did some officious CCP official get a pat on the head when the World Health Organization kept praising China’s response to the emergence of a new coronavirus in Wuhan before it declared a global health emergency? When Governor Andrew Cuomo started bizarrely referring to the coronavirus as the “European virus,” was he hoping to preserve Chinese investment in New York?

It’s no longer paranoid or irrational to ask these questions. This week, an op-ed signed by the EU’s ambassador to China and his counterparts from the 27 EU member states was revealed to have been censored and edited by the Chinese government, apparently without the permission or foreknowledge of many of the authors. How common is such chicanery?

We’ve had lots of recent occasions to see China’s pettiness. The CCP made Marriott shut down its own website for having referred to Macau and Tibet as something other than part of China. The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker quickly changed Taiwan to “Taipei and environs” amid what one presumes was Chinese pressure. German-owned Mercedes is just one company that has had to ask China’s forgiveness for merely mentioning the Dalai Lama. The United Kingdom once had to read an abject statement of apology aloud to Chinese dignitaries after committing the same sin.

15. George Terwilliger has some suggestions for fixing the leadership-broken FBI. From the analysis:

The damage wrought is not limited at all to misconduct seemingly aimed at the Trump presidency. What Comey and his cohorts did has harmed the work of the career FBI and Justice Department professionals whose interests Comey now disingenuously purports to represent and protect. If he cared about protecting the ability of those good people to do their jobs in a non-politicized atmosphere, he never would have usurped the function of prosecutors when he took it upon himself to both bar prosecution of Hillary Clinton in one breath and publicly condemn her conduct in the next — all done in the heated atmosphere of an emerging presidential campaign contest in which the FBI should have been decidedly a noncombatant. The dedication and professionalism in the daily work of thousands of FBI agents and support personnel in the field offices across the country is of critical value to the nation. Likewise, the federal prosecutors who take cases to court day in and day out are the tip of the rule-of-law spear. Together, the work of these professionals is the lifeblood of the justice system, and the vast majority of them perform at exceptionally high levels still. What Comey and his cohorts wrought, however, has made doing those jobs more difficult because public trust in the FBI and the justice system is eroded and questioned. The sunshine of the work Barr has commissioned to illuminate the truth is a disinfectant, not the disease; mistaking it as such because the facts have a collateral benefit to Trump is simply another mark of the hyper-partisan mindset.

So what went wrong with the FBI is not the doing of its rank and file; it was failure of leadership. It will take both time and core changes to fundamentally alter the bureau’s orientation in the senior headquarters’s ranks. A few principles might help guide doing so.

16. German jurists have put it at odds with the EU’s supremacy. Andrew Stuttaford explains. From the beginning of the piece:

One of the reasons that the euro zone has survived for as long as it has is the impressive ability of its leaders to postpone dealing with a series of questions that are as fundamental as they are inconvenient. Is it possible to sustain a monetary union without a fiscal union? (Probably not.) Is it possible to establish a fiscal union without genuine democratic consent? (We may yet find out.) And suddenly pressing: What is the relationship between the EU’s law and Germany’s?

For half a century the conflict hinted at by this last question could mostly be treated as theoretical. Then, last week, the German constitutional court (BVG) challenged the legality of the Public Sector Purchase Program (PSPP), the $2 trillion-and-counting quantitative-easing scheme first launched by the European Central Bank (the ECB) in 2015 to prop up the euro zone’s faltering economies, and restarted in 2019. The BVG’s ruling does not concern the ECB’s Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP), a new, smaller quantitative-easing regimen under which the ECB will buy up to €750 billion in bonds to help stave off the effects of the mess that COVID-19 has left in its wake. But it may affect how the PEPP is run: Already widely considered inadequate for the task that lies ahead, the program may be hobbled by restrictions flowing from the BVG’s judgment, and that’s before another wave of German litigation tries to bring it down.

To the EU, the BVG’s intervention was both unwelcome and insolent. So far as the EU’s jurisprudence is concerned, EU law is supreme in every member state in a manner approximately analogous to the relationship between federal and state law in the U.S. In an English case from 1974, one of that country’s most distinguished — and quirkily eloquent — judges, Lord Denning, explained that the EEC Treaty (the EEC was a precursor of the EU) was “like an incoming tide. It flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back.” The treaty, he wrote, was “equal in force to any statute,” and the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) was “the ultimate authority” when it came to interpreting EEC law; even England’s highest court had “to bow down to it.”

17. In On a Magical Night, Armond White discovers a moral sex farce, French fare that beats whatever Hollywood is serving up. From the beginning of the review:

Corrupt Hollywood now specializes in remakes and reboots and has convinced the public to accept this cheat as creativity. Meanwhile, Christophe Honoré counters that nonsense with his new film On a Magical Night (Chambre 212). An homage to French cinema’s most advanced romantic comedies, it is also a wholly original film. Through the infidelity of 40-year-old law professor Maria Mortemort (Chiara Mastroianni), Honoré explores the restless itch at the heart of so many Gallic moral tales. When her 40-year-old husband, Richard (Benjamin Biolay), discovers Maria’s dalliance with a younger student, the sparring couple separate into their corners: Maria takes a room in a hotel above a multiplex cinema, across the street from their chic apartment, where, like a philosophical voyeur, she can watch Richard seething.

This premise might immediately suggest Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but Honoré, who directed last year’s deeply moving Sorry Angel, is more interested in sex-farce complications. He showcases Maria’s guilt, not suspense. As snow falls on Maria and Richard’s separation, Honoré shifts into exquisite reflection: Maria recalls Richard at age 20 (played by Vincent Lacoste) whose lustful presence sets Honoré’s film off and running.

Longing, regret, and passion materialize through different personages from the past. Every surprise appearance unpacks Maria’s subconscious — her numerous ex-lovers and, most vexingly, Irene Haffner (Camille Cottin), the piano teacher who was Richard’s first lover when he was age 15. Tellingly, even the ghost of Charles Aznavour appears as, he says, Maria’s “will.” He tells her “My role is to strengthen your resolve. Someone else handles your conscience.”

Here’s where Honoré reveals his objective: to investigate our culturally inspired desires. Hollywood’s remake mania merely cashes in on already established markets, with pre-sold properties and titles. We don’t grow from such copy-cat-ism, which means that American cinema’s ideas about morality, mortality, and existence become infantilized or politicized.

18. Now if only Jerry Seinfeld could make us laugh. Kyle Smith reviews a comedian gone stale. From the review:

Forty years ago the man was making jokes about breakfast cereal. Today he’s making jokes about . . . Pop-Tarts. People who say “It is what it is.” Portable restrooms (“I don’t know how they’re even allowed to call it a bathroom”). Cup holders. Some of this stuff is so bland it deserves to be shipped out to Vegas.

Pop-Tarts, Jerry notes, can never go stale because they were never fresh in the first place. Every person in the audience has to be shifting in his seat. Er, were Cookie Crisp jokes ever fresh in the first place, Jer? “When they invented the Pop-Tart, the back of my head blew right off,” he says. “We couldn’t comprehend the Pop-Tart, it was too advanced!” That’s how Jerry launches an ode to shelf-stable pastry that lasts about as long as Seinfeld was on the air.

Bringing things into this century, Seinfeld does a so-so bit on cell phones (“When that battery gets low, you feel like your whole body is out of power”) that culminates with Jerry hurling himself flat on the stage of the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. Jerry is 66. He shouldn’t have to throw himself on the floor to get a laugh. At another point he does some business that involves twisting himself into his mic cord. Grueling stuff.

19. Ace in the Hole 1: Kyle reflects on what he considers the nastiest-ever movie about journalists. From the commentary:

As far as I can tell, Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951) was completely ignored upon its release, and for many years thereafter. Then in 1987, when an infant who became the world-famous Baby Jessica fell down a well and the ensuing wall-to-wall media coverage came to seem a tad exploitative, even circus-like, people started to say, wait a minute, haven’t we seen this story before? The Baby Jessica/Wilder scenario inspired a 1992 episode of The Simpsons, “Radio Bart.” At the time Ace in the Hole was still so obscure that the writer of the episode, Jon Vitti, who was given the story by Matt Groening, said he had trouble locating a copy to rent. (Before the launch of Turner Classic Movies, Ace in the Hole was almost never shown on TV and the only place I could find the film, as of the mid-1990s, was the invaluable art-house video-rental shop Kim’s Video, in Greenwich Village. The place closed in 2014.)

Today Ace in the Hole must be one of the most-talked about Hollywood movies of the Fifties. It dated well because the thing that people hated about it when it was made is the thing that is contemporary about it now: It’s unbelievably nasty. Finally taste has caught up with Billy Wilder’s cynicism. (The movie is on the TCM app through May 17 and can also be found on the superb, Kim’s Video-like Kanopy app offering art-house favorites, which you can use if you have a library card from one of the many public libraries that subscribes to it. A version with commercials is showing on Pluto TV).

20. Ace in the Hole 2: And Armond has his say about this precursor to social-justice warriorism. From the review:

Billy Wilder’s 1951 Ace in the Hole, widely conceded to be the most cynical Hollywood movie ever made, brings the hammer down on journalism in a way that ought to synch with today’s rising distrust of the media — although that’s not what Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz meant when he called it “one of the great movies about journalism” during its COVID-19 quarantine broadcast.

Ironically, Ace in the Hole is a cult favorite, a dirty little secret among journalists. But there’s a catch — the insurmountable egotism of commanding-heights media — that makes the film’s cynicism part of the problem it pretends to critique.

Wilder, best known for Sunset Boulevard, The Seven Year Itch, and Some Like It Hot, turned his celebrated wit against the character of Charles Tatum, a disgraced New York scribe who lands at a small-town rag in New Mexico, where he attempts a comeback by manipulating a local man’s accident into a story that will put Tatum back in the Pulitzer Prize stakes. It is actor Kirk Douglas’s ultimate performance as a post-WWII heel, twisting the actor’s considerable talent and the force of his charisma into a spectacle of contempt. This Hollywood hoax encourages our own leering fascination that isn’t much different from Tatum’s sneering condescension.

Our identification with Tatum’s temperament and drive becomes more repugnant as the story develops. Tatum’s journalist careerism is like poker strategy. He keeps his “ace,” a Mexican-Catholic trading-post owner, trapped in a cave that collapsed when he was robbing artifacts from a Native American burial site. He plans to build curiosity for the grand, human-interest rescue story he stokes in the press.

The June 1, 2020 Issue of National Review Is in the Mail, But Also Awaits Your Eyeballs Right Here and Now on NRO

It’s a really great issue, if you can take the word of This Opinionated Fool — but you should take it. The cover brandishes the photo of John James, Michigan GOP Senate hopeful and the subject of another classic John J. Miller political profile. Let’s give you a quartet of recommended readings from the issue (Hey: You can read the whole shebang if you join NRPLUS.)

1. JJM on JJ. It’s a must-read. From the profile:

With the exception of Alabama, where voters probably will reverse 2017’s fluke election of Democrat Doug Jones, Michigan represents the best chance for a Republican Senate candidate to beat a Democratic incumbent in 2020. Polls already suggest a tight race, and James is sure to receive more attention and support than he did last time. “We’ll be there to push John across the finish line,” says Senator Todd Young of Indiana, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Flipping a Democratic seat may be reward enough for many Republicans, but the stakes in Michigan are in fact a lot higher: James could become the GOP’s next young superstar.

That’s partly because John Edward James, who turns 39 in June, is a rare political type: an African-American Republican. His great-great-grandfather was born a slave in Mississippi, and he likes to chronicle a brief family history: “In four generations, we’ve gone from a slave to a sharecropper to a mason to a truck driver and now potentially to a senator. That is absolutely remarkable, not just for our family but for our country.” His piece of the story began in 1981, when James was born in Southfield, Mich. He grew up mostly in Detroit, and although he was raised Baptist, he went to high school at Brother Rice, an all-boys Catholic school in Bloomfield Hills. (Today, he attends a nondenominational church.)

As a teenager, he didn’t think much about politics. His parents were Democrats, but he dated a girl who belonged to the Young Republicans of Oakland County. So James attended their meetings, too. As he listened to members talk about personal responsibility, a culture of life, and defending the Constitution, he kept thinking: “That makes sense to me.” He didn’t become a Republican then, he says, but “it planted a seed.”

Around the same time, he fell under the influence of Joe Anderson, a business friend of his father’s. Anderson had gone to West Point and then served in Vietnam, where he had become the subject of a French documentary, The Anderson Platoon, which won Best Documentary at the 40th Academy Awards in 1968. He encouraged James to take a look at the military academy. “The opportunity to serve others, to fight for this country,” says James, “I consider it a down payment on the debt that I owe my ancestors for the sacrifices they made for my freedom.”

2. David Mamet — yeah, that David Mamet — weaves a sterling essay on lockdowns, writing, codes, Donald Trump, and the Left’s loathing of him into a brilliant analysis of our times. From the piece:

Tragedy, to be compelling, must address a prerational experience or unity. A Hokusai painting of a wave makes us nod in recognition, as we do at a resolution of a Bach fugue. We cannot explain or dissect our experience of understanding, but it is undeniable. True art creates in us the same feeling of fulfillment, its possible description just beyond the rational mind.

The technician might explain it technically, the musician employing the cycle of fifths, or the painter some theory of color or proportion, but this merely puts the problem at one remove. For, after the technical reduction, even the expert cannot quite answer the question of why: Why, for example, is the eye so pleased by the golden mean? Like any great truth, our understanding of art must devolve into metaphysics or an assertion merely leading to an infinite regression.

The human mind will and must assemble phenomena into cause and effect. We will intuit or ascribe a causal relationship to two events that, to another, have no possible connection: Aunt Edna did not call on my birthday because she’s furious I didn’t sufficiently praise her new frock; Germany is troubled because of the Jews; we are suffering a pandemic because Trump did or did not act quickly enough, and an economic disaster because he did.

Psychoanalysis (and politics) attempts to address or capitalize on our human suggestibility, particularly on our frenzied willingness to assign our disquiets to another. Solutions offered thus flatter our ability to identify a problem, suggest its cure, and remind us to come back tomorrow for another dose.

Drama acts similarly, engaging us in the assurance that the cause of all problems is evident, and that our reason will suffice to cure them. The Bad Butler did it; Deaf People are People, Too; Love Is All There Is; and so on. If we enjoy the mixture, it must (and will) be taken regularly.

Tragedy provides not reassurance but calm through the completion of a mechanical progression. Its end is probative, for it is the disposition of all the variables (the code) stipulated at its beginning—mathematically, there is no remainder.

3. Alex Armlovich believes that conservatives should care about cities. From the beginning of the essay:

Population density is taking a beating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Urban centers from Wuhan to New York City are hot spots for the virus, and many people argue, based on plausible intuitions, that urban crowding is to blame for its spread. Not all the evidence is in yet, and reassurances that New York could have prepared like (for instance) Seoul are, especially in the heat of the present, less persuasive to many than the mobile mortuaries humming around the city or the ongoing official use of the transit system as a homeless shelter. But cities have always faced serious challenges, and the economic and other benefits of cities are such that they have persisted for 5,000 years—even in the face of serious biothreats ranging from measles and flu to smallpox and plague.

While it remains too soon to say how big a factor urban density (as opposed to urban crowding) has been, people eager to use the crisis as an excuse to reject density should think twice. Dense cities offer capitalism’s solution to many of today’s challenges, from stagnant productivity growth to environmental degradation, in a package that conservatives should rally around.

This will require some forbearance. In recent years, cities have become associated not only with standard Democratic politics but with a resurgence of socialist activism. America’s new socialists are clustered in cities, where blunt leftist “solutions” to the nation’s policy problems are taking root. These problems include slow middle-class wage growth after one accounts for the rising costs of health care, education, and housing near (increasingly urban) good jobs, along with climate change. The Left says “late” capitalism cannot adapt—and so transformation into the first phase of “democratic socialism” is nigh. Their remedy for stagnant wages and high living costs includes union empowerment, Medicare for All, free college, and bans on construction of private housing plus universal rent control. For climate change, the solution is a vaguely sketched yet massive Green New Deal. Seeing all this, conservatives may be tempted to leave cities to their own fate.

4. Madeleine Kearns checks out the rampant narcissism behind Goop. From the piece:

Similar to Markle, Paltrow was keen to discover a “point of life” that amounted to more than “making out with Matt Damon on screen, or whatever.” She began a newsletter called “The Goop Lab” in 2008. Since then, it’s developed into a $250 million company complete with a website, a podcast, a magazine, books, stores, and its own Netflix series of the same name. The Goop Lab, Paltrow explains in the first episode, is all about the “optimization of self.” Each of the six episodes explores a theme related to this: psychedelics, “cold therapy,” female sexuality, anti-aging, “energy work,” and psychic mediumship. Put simply, Goop is about “milking the sh** out of [life].”

In many ways, Goop is like any other celebrity cult. Yet it also reflects something more widespread, embodying many of the characteristics laid out in Christopher Lasch’s 1979 bestseller The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch argued that escape into grandiose self-delusion, previously deemed pathological, had been mainstreamed as normal or even desirable. He outlined a distinction between “primary narcissism,” referring “to the infantile illusion of omnipotence,” which, applied today, describes many celebrities (including the 45th president), and “secondary narcissism,” defined by psychoanalyst Thomas Freeman as “attempts to annul the pain of disappointed love.” Lasch saw the problem beginning with the decline of the family as a dominant cultural authority. Into this vacuum unscrupulous market forces and a radical progressive social agenda had flown, offering the “propaganda” of commodities and therapeutic superstitions. “What remains to be explained,” Lasch wrote in an updated edition, “is how an exaggerated respect for technology can coexist with a revival of ancient superstitions, a belief in reincarnation, a growing fascination with the occult, and the bizarre forms of spirituality associated with the New Age movement.” Goop manages this by hiding behind feminism.

BONUS: Jay Nordlinger reviews the status of Taiwan, pathogen slayer and international pariah. From the article:

In Taiwan so far, there have been 438 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and six deaths. Schools have been open since February 25—although with precautions—and professional sports are being played, without spectators.

With the country serving as a model, why does it need the WHO? According to Taiwanese officials, the country can use all the information it can get. Every scrap helps. So too, Taiwan has information, and experience, to share.

Friends of Taiwan are pushing for its inclusion in the WHO, just as they did after the SARS epidemic. The PRC, as always, is pushing back, strong-arming anyone it can. China’s hold over people and institutions is remarkable. Beijing is a master instiller of fear.

On March 27, Yvonne Tong interviewed Bruce Aylward, by video hook up. She works for a Hong Kong news program called “The Pulse”; he is a Canadian official of the WHO. A stranger interview you never saw.

Ms. Tong said, “Will the WHO consider Taiwan’s membership?” Dr. Aylward did not answer. He looked into the camera, for a long period. Finally, Ms. Tong said, “Hello?” He said, “That’s okay, I couldn’t hear your question.” Ms. Tong said, “Okay, let me repeat the question.” Dr. Aylward said, “No, that’s okay, let’s move to another one then.”

But the interviewer persisted (politely). Then Dr. Aylward appeared to sever his connection.

Persisting, the show got a hold of him again. Ms. Tong said, “I just want to see if you can comment a bit on how Taiwan has done so far in terms of containing the virus.” Dr. Aylward replied, “Well, we’ve already talked about China, and, you know, when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job.” With that, he bade farewell.

The Six

1. At Commentary, Noah Rothman bashes the Cult of Cuomo. From the beginning of the piece:

The cult of personality that’s sprung up around New York’s irascible governor is partly attributable to the trauma New Yorkers have endured. Cuomo presides over one of the nation’s hardest-hit states, and his affect has been sober enough to convey a sense of authority. But in terms of performance, the outcomes this governor has overseen are so terrible and contrast so starkly with the adulation he’s received that it’s impossible to see this phenomenon as something other than a contrivance.

The governor has somehow been spared an aggressive effort by the journalistic establishment to relitigate the month of February. What was the president doing at the time to mitigate the terrible effects the pandemic would have on American society in March? If the question was asked of the governor, the answer would be, what everyone else was doing: downplaying the pandemic. “We went through this before: Zika virus, Ebola, et cetera,” Cuomo said on February 7. “But let’s have some connection to the reality of the situation,” he continued, “catching the flu right now is a much greater risk than anything that has anything to do with coronavirus.”

By late March, with the scale of the disaster now acutely felt, the governor lashed out at President Donald Trump for suggesting that he did not believe New York would require “40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.” Cuomo called the president’s suggestion “ignorant” and “grossly uninformed,” insisting that the 4,400 ventilators the state had received from the federal government would prove disastrously inadequate. But it turned out that ventilators were of less utility for treating advanced COVID-19 cases than medical professionals initially believed, and the state’s peak caseload came earlier and with fewer overall infections than anticipated. In the end, if the president had caved to the media-driven pressure to transfer nearly all its ventilator reserve to New York, they’d have gone largely unused, and the rest of the country would have been in a precarious position as a result.

In a “historic move” on April 30, Cuomo announced that the New York City subway system would temporarily cease 24-hour operations so that cars could be disinfected. The governor himself made a conspicuous trip to New York City’s unfortunately named Corona Maintenance Facility for a tour and a photo-op. This was an important directive, but one that likely came months too late.

2. As ever, Gatestone Institute’s Con Coughlin provides exceptional analysis of Things Europe — here, concerning the EU’s ever-toadying to Red China. From the beginning of the piece:

The latest capitulation by the European Union in the face of Chinese intimidation demonstrates that, when it comes to protecting the interests of member states, the Brussels bureaucracy is no match for Beijing’s new breed of warrior diplomats.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more notable features of China’s response has been the willingness of senior Chinese diplomats to intervene forcibly in defence of China’s interests.

The interventions of these “Wolf Warrior” diplomats, so-called after a series of iconic Chinese action movies in which Chinese special forces vanquish their American foes, take several forms.

On one level, Chinese ambassadors, particularly those based in Western capitals, simply resort to blackmail, threatening to deny governments vital medical supplies to cope with the pandemic if they do not comply with Beijing’s wishes.

On another level, they indulge in disseminating fake news, using social media platforms to propagate information that is patently false.

To deal with the growing menace posed by China’s diplomatic community, it is vital, therefore, that the West take robust action to protect its interests, and to hold China to account for its role in causing the pandemic in the first place, and then trying to cover its culpability by launching a global campaign to conceal the origins of the outbreak.

3. Dear amiga Lori Kelly writes a wonderous piece for The Catholic Exchange on the faith of our fathers, literal ones, and the call to fight for it. From the article:

The year now, of course, is 2020. I am 58 years old. I live in South Boston. It is noon, and the Angelus bells just rang out from our beloved Gate of Heaven Church. As I am called to prayer, I am also again called to memory, and at the sound of the bells my heart leaps once more. Again, I am reminded of my father, my childhood, the saints and angels and even those martyred for the faith. I recollect one evening when I entered my parents’ bedroom and discovered my Father on his knees in prayer. He held his black rosary in his hands, his lips moving to the mysteries. Concluding his ave, he kissed the beads once and tenderly placed them under his pillow. To see this man, this man who I believed could fight off lions on my behalf, humbly prostrate himself before God struck me to my very core. No catechism, no teaching, no bible or homily was ever as instrumental to the formation of my faith than this image of my father and that devoted kiss.

I once traveled to Prague. So many Catholic churches there were shut down, decimated by decades of past Communist rule. I visited museums and it devastated me to see chalices, stoles and ornate monstrances all placed inside glass display cases, disposed, unused and forgotten, reduced to mere relics. It occurred to me that I had a pressing, personal responsibility to make sure that the same thing didn’t occur in my own home parish. It occurs to me, now, that there is a real possibility, if we are not careful and vigilant, that our own churches run the risk of becoming concert halls and museums.

In this age of the coronavirus, these memories of hymns, rosaries and monstrances have come rushing back to me. It all makes particular sense, now. The Church is my inheritance and my personal responsibility. Why does the Faith sometimes bring me to tears and knock me to my knees? The answer: true Beauty will do that.

4. At First Things, Algis Valiunas investigates the Russian soul and its character of suffering. From the beginning of the reflection:

The Russian soul. The phrase serves as shorthand for Russia’s national character, after the manner of American innocence, French arrogance, Italian dolce far niente, and what used to be the English stiff upper lip. Russians are reputed to feel more than the rest of us do, think deep thoughts about eternal but elusive truths, engage in fevered dispute about the meaning of it all, weep ­unabashedly and laugh balefully over the sorrowful and preposterous human lot, and drink themselves into sodden paralysis. They suffer demonstratively. They have good reason to. Russian politics have been and continue to be an abomination, and for millions of Russians daily life is an all but intolerable grind. The people’s habit of replacing one tyrannical overlord with another is regrettable, to say the least. Russian souls have long been forged, when they have not been consumed, in the fires of an earthly hell.

Yet, as Dante knew when he plunged Satan and other traitors into the frozen depths of the Inferno, hell at its worst can be extremely cold. And Siberia has become a byword for such icy torment. It is the native vale of soul-making, to borrow a phrase from an English Romantic poet. As one denizen of the Arctic region Kolyma put it, “Here we have twelve months of winter. / The rest summer.” This everlasting winter has come to be associated with the slave labor camps of Stalin’s heyday, but already under the czars Siberian imprisonment followed by exile or military service was the standard punishment for political defiance as well as more conventional criminality. As one learns from Daniel Beer’s study The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars (2016), more than a million malefactors were consigned to Asian Russia, the vast expanse east of the Ural Mountains, between 1801 and 1917. Liberals, utopian socialists of various denominations, and ­Polish patriots trying to free their homeland from imperial oppression were all heavily represented among the banished outlaws. Siberia was the proving ground for revolutionary brotherhood. Lenin and Stalin and any number of lesser incendiaries did time there. Stern wills were hardened, alliances cemented. Beer writes:

When revolution finally erupted in 1905, these exiled radicals transformed Siberia’s towns and villages into crucibles of violent struggle against the autocracy. Scaffolds were erected in the courtyards of prisons while, beyond their walls, wardens were assassinated in the streets. No longer a quarantine against the contagions of revolution, Siberia had become a source of the infection.

In due course, the prisoners became jailers and secret police, and eventually prisoners once more, as the revolution ate its own.

5. At The Imaginative Conservative, Erik Ellis asks and answers the question, what is a classical education. From the essay:

Even the strongest advocates of classical education struggle to appreciate how limited its curricular basis was. Consisting of ancient history, primarily narrated through the “lives” of its great actors, epic and lyric poetry, and classical oratory, this educational model did not aim to be comprehensive. What little direct philosophical and ethical instruction was obtained from the rhetoricians Isocrates and Cicero rather than Plato and Aristotle. The appeal was protreptic or hortatory rather than theoretical or systematic. Now almost forgotten texts like the Dream of Scipio and the Distichs of Cato served alongside Christ’s parables to furnish students with models of behavior and matter for contemplation rather than definitions and formulae. If this shocks us, we ought to remember that no less a political philosopher than the author of City of God claimed to be ignorant of Greek, and that his early philosophical training consisted almost solely of Cicero’s Hortensius, an unfortunately lost protreptic, and a few libri platonici, late antique philosophical textbooks whose synthetic mixture of Plato, Aristotle, and Stoicism the nineteenth-century historians of philosophy worked so hard to analyze, chop up, and rearrange into a logical narrative that explained the development of ideas but no longer could claim to provide guidance towards achieving eternal wisdom.

And yet, there was wisdom in this radically limited approach. Ancient, medieval, and early modern education had an oratorical orientation, recognizing that it was training leaders rather than experts. People who had been taught to imitate the classical authors, to analyze and understand their language, to construct valid arguments, and to make them persuasive, and who had committed to memory the virtuous and vicious deeds of the their noble predecessors had all the skills necessary to build civilization and inspire their peers to virtuous action. Whether we look to the Roman procurators and Chinese Mandarins of the empires of antiquity, the monks and scholastics of the medieval Church, or the bureaucrats and pioneers of more recent times, we see the constant of stable, efficient civil service carried out by leaders trained to revere a literary canon, to study it with traditional disciplines, and to see the unchanging contours of wise self-governance and prudent leadership in a constantly changing world. Although it is certainly mythical, perhaps no image more powerfully represents this ideal than that of our own frontier lawyers, who, like Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Stewart’s Ranse Stoddard, went to bring order to the Wild West armed only with copies of Vergil, Blackstone, and the Bible in their saddlebags. For all this, we cannot help but notice that the foundations of civil society rest on the spiritual products of this older form of education rather than on the material and technological advancements of our (post-) industrial economy.

6. The College Fix’s Brittany Slaughter checks out the perv-sanity at Northwestern University, where a pandemic has forced the annual “Sex Week” online. This, folks, is higher education (we apologize for what is about to be quoted on the family newsletter). From the article:

Can masturbating to the image of a pile of cash bring … a pile of cash in real life?

It’s an example of a concept advanced as part of Northwestern University’s annual student-led Sex Week observance, which has been moved online in response to the coronavirus lockdown. Northwestern Sex Week launched Monday and runs through May 15.

The “Masturbation for Manifestation” event is hosted by an affiliate with the Chicago-based sex KiKi community, described as a movement that advances sex-positive erotic arts, culture and education.

On its website, it describes masturbation for manifestation as some sort of “sex magic.” The notion is similar to the law of attraction popularized by the book “The Secret.”

“At the moment of orgasm that’s when you start to manifest and when you start to see yourself have whatever it is that you want,” the website states.

BONUS: At Reason, Veronique de Rugy finds creativity alive and well, even during (especially during) a pandemic. From the column:

It was going to be the party of the year: my 50th birthday. I rented a fantastic place, picked a great menu, and sent funny invitations designed by my hilarious friend Brooke. I was counting down the weeks. Then COVID-19 hit. Lockdowns were ordered. No party for me. Yet what replaced it was the purest expression of the best that humanity has to offer, springing from creative forces that neither this virus—nor other negative forces—can kill.

My party being canceled is, of course, a minuscule tragedy compared with the deaths and economic destruction we’ve witnessed in the last few months. Still, I was sad that what was supposed to be a great weekend spent with family coming from France and friends coming from all over the country has been postponed indefinitely. I knew my teenagers would, no matter what, make the day special—it was Mother’s Day, too—and that I would still hear from my friends.

And what replaced the party was so much more meaningful and amazing because it was fueled by my friends’ love and creativity, and by the amazing innovators who make coping with the isolation more tolerable.

Baseballery

Hurry Up and Weight: “Who,” queried Son #2, having seen a photo (now a meme) of Chris Christie in a uniform, “was the fattest guy to ever play baseball?” Your Humble Correspondent thought he had written about a contender in a previous WJ. Investigation proved he had not. Had he, he would have informed Dear Readers of the great Jumbo Brown, whose avois practically dupois’d at 300 pounds in the midst of his 12-year 1930s career pitching for the Yankees, Giants, Indians, Cubs, and Reds. On occasion dubbed “Falstaffian flinger” by sportswriters, Brown led the NL in saves his last two seasons (1940–41). He shared the moniker with another pitcher, James Thomas “Jumbo” Elliott, a husky southpaw who led the NL in victories in 1931 with 19.

Darn it: The Jumbos never faced each other, nor waged battle with the Athletics’ Chubby Dean. But on the other side of the Belly Curve, Brown did find himself sharing the mound one hot August afternoon in 1927 with Slim Harris. “Slim” was not too surprising a nickname for a guy who towered at 6’ 6” while weighing a scrawny 180 pounds. A hard-luck right-hander who played 10 seasons for the Athletics and Red Sox, Harris put up a lifetime 95–135 record. Of distinction, he twice led the AL in losses.

Back to the Jumbo Joust: Harris started the contest (indeed, he pitched a complete game and took the victory) against the Indians, whose starter, southpaw Garland Buckeye, gave up four hits to the first four batters, and, following a gut-check by manager Jack McAllister, the ball was handed to Brown. In relief, the butterballer went 3 2/3 innings, and faced Slim twice — both times the lanky hurler ground out to end innings. In his one plate appearance against Harris, Jumbo drew a walk and scored.

All that said, the grandest man to ever put on a MLB uniform was, likely, the late Walter Young, who played for the Orioles in 2005. The 6’ 5” first baseman is said to have tipped the scales at 320 pounds.

A Dios

There seems to be more time — spent not in cars, not on trains. Allowing us time to . . . pray? Let us suggest that you do such. Fervently even, and boldly: “God, You fix this.” After all, we cannot. Oh: Do consider adding please. Which Your Humble Correspondent will say as he asks you to please spare a prayer for the repose of the soul of Richard Gilder, a friend of this institution and a philanthropist to many causes. Along with our late colleague, Dusty Rhodes, he founded the Club for Growth. May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in God’s mercy.

Divine Blessings, Real and Consequential, on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who may receive late admonitions for not having mentioned Mother’s Day in the prior issue of the Weekend Jolt, securely sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Out Like Flynn

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

How delicious this all is, to see a plot, actual and nefarious and contrived, flop, to see its game plan and perpetrators exposed, to watch the shameless media enablers — in large part the same cabal found contorting about Joe Biden allegations — unclutching their pearls just long enough to tweet hackneyed outrage, to project (“injustice!”) as cheeks crack and cataracts spout rage, to cry wolf yet again.

Meanwhile, the tide turns, it comes high . . . and the sandcastles are getting washed away. Boo hoo!

Our Andrew C. McCarthy knows a thing or two about federal prosecuting, and right after the news broke that the Justice Department was dropping its disgraceful case again General Michael Flynn, he penned a summary analysis for the New York Post, which we recommend you read, and which ended thusly:

The case was troubling enough that Attorney General Bill Barr appointed US Attorney Jeff Jensen of St. Louis to review it. This has recently resulted in eye-popping disclosures: Indications that there was an agreement not to prosecute Flynn’s son (which was not disclosed to the court); the withholding of exculpatory evidence, including the FBI’s perjury trap deliberations; and evidence that the bureau improperly edited its report summarizing its ambush interview of Flynn.

With Flynn’s tireless new attorney, Sidney Powell, pressing for more discovery and pleading with the judge to throw the case out based on outrageous government misconduct, the ball was in the Justice Department’s court. On Thursday, DOJ did the right thing, dropping the case.

General Flynn can never be made whole for the financial and emotional ruin wrought on him and his family over the last three years. But the prosecution’s decision to admit its case was baseless is better for Flynn than a pardon would have been. It is justice — too long delayed, but in the end not denied.

Closer to home, at NRO, Andy commented on renewed attention paid to the partially redacted Rosenstein “Scope” Memo, the Ground Zero of this legal insanity. It’s well worth the read. Here’s a slice:

Rosenstein agitated over being made the fall guy. In his hand-wringing over how to restore his reputation as a scrupulous nonpartisan (i.e., a nominally Republican bureaucrat admired by Democrats), he broached the possibilities of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a mentally unfit president from office and of covertly recording the president in the Oval Office (if Trump ranted, recordings might convince the cabinet that he was unstable). Realizing that these were lunatic notions, Rosenstein finally settled on naming Mueller, a Beltway eminence, to be a special counsel. The appointment was made on May 17, with Rosenstein’s assurances to congressional Democrats that Mueller would have virtually boundless authority.

But the problem remained: There was no factual basis to believe that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, had engaged in a conspiracy with the Kremlin to interfere with the 2016 campaign by cyberespionage or any other criminal activity.

The failure of Rosenstein’s order appointing Mueller to specify a proper foundation for a criminal probe was not just a public-perception problem for the Justice Department: It portended legal challenges. If Mueller charged anyone, as it appeared he was poised to do to Manafort (for tax and other crimes unrelated to Trump and Russia), the defense would surely claim that Mueller’s appointment was illegitimate.

To paper over this deficiency, Rosenstein issued the scope memo. Up until yesterday, we had been permitted to see only the Manafort-related passages (because, as just adumbrated, they became an issue in Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort). But as I noted at the time, even that glimpse of the memo provided insight into the travesty that was the Mueller appointment, and the Trump–Russia probe itself.

Do read Andy’s brilliant 2019 book, Ball of Collusion. And now let’s tuck in the napkin for the weekly feast that awaits.

Editorials

1. A federal judge blocks the kick of American women’s soccer egos. We cheer. From the editorial:

Third, and most important, the women’s team made less money because they were offered the chance to play under the men’s contract terms and turned them down. This is where the case tells inconvenient truths about the labor market. The men’s team played under a “pay-to-play” contract, in which all the economic risk was borne by the players in exchange for more upside if the players made the team and the team was successful. The men’s team was not successful, so they made less money. Now, with no games being played, they are making no money at all, while the women are still getting paid.

The women’s team turned down that deal, because they valued different things: guaranteed contracts, injury protection; health, dental, and vision insurance; child-care assistance; severance pay; guaranteed rest time. In short: more security and more benefits. True, they asked for the men’s deal plus those things, on the theory that they had a legal right to both. The USSF negotiator told them, “Your proposal is basically for all of the upside plus the elimination of risk.” But that’s negotiation; what the women’s team unanimously accepted was a tradeoff of less opportunity in exchange for less risk and more benefits.

As Judge Klauser noted, both benefits and economic security have economic value, and the women’s team’s position “ignores the reality that the [men’s and women’s teams] bargained for different agreements which reflect different preferences, and that the [women’s team] explicitly rejected the terms they now seek to retroactively impose on themselves.” This is often true of the wider labor market, in which women tend – not always, but on average – to prefer jobs with more benefits and security, even when that may come at the expense of less cash or less opportunity for bonuses. Those are legitimate choices that should be respected.

2. Orange County, CA, needs a lockdown like Joe Biden needs plagiarism lessons. We say end the nutty restrictions. From the editorial:

Orange County is, in reality, faring better than much of California in the epidemic: As of this writing, it has suffered 52 COVID-19 deaths out of a population of more than 3 million, substantially fewer than nearby counties such as Riverside and San Bernardino, even though those have smaller populations. Orange County seems to have been doing reasonably well without any heavy-handed diktats from Newsom. The parks in question include, as a lawsuit against Newsom’s order points out, those under the control of the cities in question, Huntington Beach and Dana Point. (National Review Institute trustee David L. Bahnsen is involved in that lawsuit.)

We would like to see scrupulous compliance with social-distancing practices. We also believe that people are more likely to accept the legitimacy of those rules when the decisions governing them are made in a way that is reasonable and democratic rather than unreasoning and autocratic, when decisions are made at the local level and respect the genuine diversity among our communities, and when those entrusted with the extraordinary authority of emergency powers are not themselves acting out of hysteria or in response to hysteria.

We very strongly suspect that having figures such as Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot bellowing at teenagers, “We will take you to jail — period” probably does more harm than good. The hectoring and bullying style that has too often accompanied the implementation of social distancing inspires more defiance than the rules themselves do. And such threats bring with them an obvious problem: Make good on them and you are endangering lives with the enforced closeness of arrest and jail; fail to make good on them and the credibility of local government is eroded. Best not to put yourself into such a bind to begin with. There will be some noncompliance, but a domineering approach is likely to make that problem worse rather than better.

3. While Betsy DeVos feels the expected hate from liberal interests who decry due process on American campuses, we applaud her efforts to return a sense of justice where it is now AWOL. From the editorial:

And so DeVos is pushing in the right direction. But there is the deeper question of why campus proceedings are appropriate at all to handle matters of sexual assault, which is a serious crime and the business of police and prosecutors, not the business of deans of students who have no particular competency in prosecuting felonies or misdemeanors. If a college wants to maintain a policy of expelling students convicted of certain crimes (or policing lower-stakes violations of campus policies), then that is entirely reasonable. But seeing to that conviction is the business of the criminal-justice system, not the higher-education system. Sexual assault is not a matter of the campus honor code — it is a question of serious criminal misconduct.

Where police departments and prosecutors are negligent or incompetent, as they sometimes show themselves to be in these matters, then that is an occasion for reforming the police departments and prosecutors’ offices — not for handing over law-enforcement duties to professors and college administrators. Of course, victims of sexual assault may be uncomfortable talking to police and may find the prospect of doing so traumatic; universities can support these students with counseling and mental-health services, but colleges cannot substitute themselves for the criminal-justice system.

Taking the police out of the equation invites abuse, from Lena Dunham’s hoax claim of having been raped by a College Republican at Oberlin to the Duke lacrosse case to Rolling Stone’s fictitious account of a rape at the University of Virginia. Rape hoaxes are a particularly odious instance of an all-too-common phenomenon of our times, the Jussie Smollett–style hate-crime hoax. The power of such claims makes them irresistible to political partisans and others in need of handy weapons for character assassination, as in the case of Brett Kavanaugh.

A 20-Piece Maestro-Honchoed Orchestra Performing a Riveting Symphony of Conservative Brilliance (It Will Be Difficult, But Please: We Ask that You Refrain from Applauding until the Conclusion of the Program)

1. David Harsanyi watches liberal hypocrites rewrite history as Tara Reade’s claims against Joe Biden upend #MeToo theology. From the analysis:

You can believe whomever you choose in the alleged sexual-misconduct cases of Joe Biden and Brett Kavanaugh, but you can’t revise history to erase your partisan double standards.

One of the most egregious examples of revisionism can be found in a column by the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg, who employs nearly every attack Americans were warned never to use against alleged sexual-assault victims during the Kavanaugh hearings — questioning their motivations, asking why they didn’t file charges, attacking them for not remembering specifics, etc. And yet, even if we adopt Goldberg’s new standards, Tara Reade still emerges as a more credible accuser than Christine Blasey Ford.

For starters, Ford was unable to offer a time or place or a single contemporaneous corroborating witness. Ford offered no evidence that she even knew Kavanaugh. Reade worked for Joe Biden. Reade has offered a specific time and place for the attack.

2. More MSM: Jim Geraghty hammers the Fifth Estate’s coronavirus failures. From the piece:

In short, this crisis has revealed that our largest and most influential media institutions are well-prepared to cover some stories but are barely able to cover others. Events in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles are covered the most, because the most media institutions are based there. Covering a story like the unprecedented disruptions to our food-supply chain requires paying attention to what’s going on in places such as Pasco, Wash., Logansport, Ind., and Waterloo, Iowa. The national media is much more interested in celebrity chefs than in where and how we produce the food we eat.

Cable-news networks really like covering a politician’s latest pronouncement and then having a roundtable of commentators argue about what he said. This is relatively cheap, easy, and quick. Donald Trump has been a godsend to cable news, because he’s always saying or tweeting something outrageous, and it is easy to find talking heads willing to declare his daily statements or actions the best or worst thing ever. American media institutions love stories about big personalities, and stories with binary conflicts, because those stories have an instinctual, visceral appeal for viewers.

3. Rich Lowry goes after the lockdown fanatics. From the column:

It’s difficult to remember, but flattening the curve was never supposed to be about eradicating the disease. A piece by the progressive website Vox featured a widely circulated version of the flattening-the-curve graph and noted that shutdown measures “aren’t so much about preventing illness, but rather slowing down the rate at which people get sick.”

A viral Medium piece published in mid-March famously called the period of lockdowns to squelch the disease “the Hammer” and the subsequent period of living with it “the Dance.” The article didn’t deny the seriousness of the disease; if anything, it was alarmist. Yet, by the standards of the current debate, the piece is unacceptably lax.

“The time needed for the Hammer,” it said, “is weeks, not months.” After that, it predicted, “our lives will go back close to normal.” And it contemplated living in a fuzzy realm of tradeoffs between important goals — or, as it put it, “a dance of measures between getting our lives back on track and spreading the disease, one of the economy vs. health care.”

Such an acknowledgment of the need to strike a balance between the economy and public health is now considered tantamount to murder.

4. The credentialed are having their day at the expense of those with common sense. Victor Davis Hanson challenges the wisdom of leaving the pandemic fight in the hands of the “experts.” From the essay:

Unfortunately, in the present crisis, we have listened more to the university modeler than to a numbers-crunching accountant. The latter may not understand Banach manifolds, but he at least knows you cannot rely on basic equations and formulas if your denominator is inaccurate and your numerator is sometimes equally unreliable.

It seems a simple matter that the small number of those testing positive for the virus simply could not represent all those who are infected with the contagion. Yet such obviousness did not stop modelers, experts, and political advisers from authoritatively lecturing America on the lethality and spread of COVID-19.

Internet coronavirus-meters feign scientific accuracy with their hourly streams of precise data. But those without degrees wondered why such metrics even listed China, whose data is fanciful, or why the number of  “cases” is listed when it hinges entirely on the hit-and-miss and idiosyncratic testing of various states and nations.

Throughout this crisis, there has been a litany of arrogance and ignorance. The FDA early on made a hubristic and disastrous decision to monopolize testing. Neither the WHO nor the CDC could get their stories straight on the wisdom or folly of wearing masks.

5. Congressman Frank Rooney says that the time to call out China for a myriad of abuses has been long a-coming. From the piece:

How can American business and government oppose China’s outsized influence? One way is to create new supply chains and reinforce existing ones with U.S. allies in Asia, and in the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Chinese leaders do not think that our leaders and businesses have the resolve to accept higher costs in a less efficient supply chain for imported products, and we need to call their bluff. Policymakers should create new incentives for businesses to reorient supply chains away from China and disincentives for companies to invest there. A “sovereignty tax” on American investment in China, reflecting the value that U.S. companies derive from U.S. sovereignty but the damage they are doing to our strategic position by investing there, could be an example. It is worth incurring higher costs to be strategically secure.

As the pandemic abates, the U.S. and our allies should clearly and openly call out the abuses that China has perpetrated on the Western world since its admission to the WTO. The mantra of accommodation to China to mollify the PRC and slowly integrate them into existing global trade relationships has failed — or, more precisely, has worked for China but no one else. China’s leaders are repressive, they violate trade norms, and they steal intellectual property. They project hegemonic power wherever they can. We need to develop a partnership with American, European, and Asian businesses and governments to bring China’s exploitation to an end.

6. Dan McLaughlin provides a drubbing of Max Boot for his latest foolishness, this time for his excuse-mongering for the pandemic manufacturers in Beijing. From the analysis:

Second, by suggesting that the U.S. government might owe “reparations” for sending Americans abroad in 1918, Boot completely ignores both the geopolitical and the medical contexts of the era. No matter what news arrived from Kansas, the absolute last thing that Georges Clemenceau would ever have requested in the spring of 1918 was a halt to shipping American soldiers to France. The French and British had bled their nations white fighting the Germans, who — finally freed of the need to devote huge numbers of troops to the Russian and Italian fronts — launched a massive offensive in March designed to be a knockout blow. With the manpower of the European combatants virtually exhausted — the same reason for shipping in Chinese labor — the arrival of a million Americans over the course of 1918 was seen as providential. The Americans played a key supporting role in stopping the German spring offensive, which was finally brought to an end by an outbreak of the Spanish flu among the German army, incapacitating nearly half a million men in June 1918. Americans played an even more important role in the Entente’s fall offensive that ended the war. France and Britain would have hazarded any risk of disease to keep the doughboys coming “over there.”

Moreover, morale-driven press censorship was at least as extensive in Britain, France, and Germany in 1918 as it was in the United States. The reason why news came from Spain was precisely that Spain was neutral in the war. The lack of honest public reckoning with the pandemic was pervasive and hardly limited to the United States.

7. Robert VerBruggen has had it with the coronavirus modeling that would have trouble predicting if the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. From the commentary:

When modeling epidemics, scientists typically try to simulate the way a virus spreads: exponentially at first, because each infected person interacts with many other vulnerable individuals, and then slowing down as the population either gains immunity or takes deliberate steps to reduce transmission. This process can be modeled in very general terms, or by simulating the specific interactions and infections of millions of people as the Imperial College COVID-19 model does. Either way, the result’s utility is limited by the fact that researchers had to make a bunch of assumptions to arrive at it. Exactly how quickly does the disease spread when left unchecked? How much do people reduce their interactions when advised or legally required to practice social distancing? Which types of interactions are most dangerous? Different answers to these questions can yield very different modeling results.

The IHME model was meant to sidestep that issue. Rather than re-creating the underlying processes through which a disease spreads, it looked at what had actually happened in other countries during this pandemic. It “fit a curve” connecting trends in the U.S. with trends in other places, showing us where we’d end up if things worked out the same way as they had for those places.

There were some hiccups almost immediately: Early IHME estimates were of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, but the number soon dropped to 80,000 and then even lower. As I pointed out at the time, at least some of these revisions were easily justified. The researchers were getting important new data — including death trends from countries whose pandemics had recently peaked and updated information about how many Americans were hospitalized for each death that occurred. Models should change when better information comes in. That’s how they’re calibrated to make better predictions in the future.

8. Madeline Kearns explores the thinking behind Joe Biden’s “A Woman” veep commitment. From the piece:

Biden needs not just A Woman, then, but a whole bunch of women who will abandon yesterday’s principles for today’s political convenience. Fortunately, the Democratic Party is full of such people. In a tweet, Reade wrote that “those who remain silent are complicit to rape” and tagged Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michelle Obama. Perhaps one of them will be Biden’s vice president.

This strategy might be received differently if Joe Biden were a Republican. Readers of National Review will remember that moment when Mitt Romney, during a 2012 presidential debate, was asked by questioner in the audience how he planned to “rectify the inequalities in the workplace.” He answered that, as governor of Massachusetts, when he was looking to fill his cabinet, he made a concerted effort to find female applicants. He went to a number of women’s groups for suggestions, and they gave him “whole binders full of women,” he added. What Romney obviously meant was that he had binders full of women’s résumés. In other words, as an employer, he had a personal history of taking affirmative action with respect to hiring women and promoting gender equality. But because he was a Republican, the media accused him of being patronizing and a misogynist.

But Joe Biden is a Democrat and the liberal media are behaving much like Farquaad’s magic mirror, presenting their own binders full of women. A recent NBC report highlights the “unique strengths and weaknesses” of the ladies who might be picked. Insultingly, Stacy Abrams’s strengths are listed purely as things she cannot control: skin color, age, place of birth, etc. Her weaknesses, on the other hand, relate to experience and suitability: “Abrams’ highest level of government service was as the minority leader in Georgia’s state House,” and she “hasn’t been vetted nationally.” Amy Klobuchar, meanwhile, is described as “a proven winner in Minnesota,” yet is cast off as “unlikely to galvanize minority or progressive voters” on account of her being white. Biden’s policies on gender equality are even more embarrassingly superficial. This week, he pledged to cut funding to the U.S. Soccer Federation if women are not paid as much as their male counterparts.

9. And yeah, writes Isaac Schorr, Elizabeth Warren would be a terrible Veep pick. From the piece:

As the past few months have made clear, Biden has won this argument in the minds of most Democratic voters. Despite his weak performances in the first three primary contests, he cruised to victory after victory, beginning in South Carolina, leaving both Warren and Sanders in the dust. In Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, Biden won with 33.6 percent of the vote. Warren took home the bronze trophy and 21.6 percent. Presidential-primary campaigns always include sniping between candidates, and often those candidates end up on a ticket together anyway. But why would Joe Biden — a 78-year-old man with significant health questions who won the Democratic nomination handily — select a former rival with a dearth of electoral accomplishments and a radically divergent outlook to serve as his vice president?

Warren’s base, wine-track female voters, are already going to come out to support Biden in droves. Despite her progressive politics, Warren’s supporters in the primary tended to be less ideologically motivated than Sanders’s and were attracted to her campaign because of her gender, her perceived wonkishness, and the obvious contrasts of her Harvard Law–professor status and personality with President Trump. Her voters showed up at the polls in 2018 to rebuke the president, and they are going to do so again in 2020 regardless of whom the Democratic Party chooses as its nominee.

10. Rupert Darwall attacks the Lefty-Green effort to bully American corporations into adopting the capitalism-killing Paris Agreement. From the analysis:

That timeline is now being used to bully American corporations into aligning their business strategies with the Paris agreement and force them to commit to eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. In fact, the text of the Paris agreement speaks of achieving a balance between anthropogenic sources and removals “in the second half of this century.” The net-zero target has no standing in American law or regulation. Net zero is not about a few tweaks here and there. It necessitates a top-down coercive revolution the likes of which have never been seen in any democracy. This is spelt out in the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, which might as well serve as a blueprint for the extinction of capitalism.

The IPCC makes no bones about viewing net zero, it says, as providing the opportunity for ‘intentional societal transformation.’ Limiting the rise to rise in global temperature to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — an ill-defined baseline chosen by the UN because the Industrial Revolution is our civilization’s original sin — requires ‘transformative systemic change’ and ‘very ambitious, internationally cooperative policy environments that transform both supply and demand.’

11. Sally Satel contends the disruption caused by the pandemic response may lead to a mental-health crisis, but offers sound advice to prevent a dire outcome. From the analysis:

We need to think clearly about whose needs are best met by mental-health professionals and whose suffering should be “treated” in other ways.

Under lockdown, basic mental hygiene will suffice for most: Get out of your pajamas each morning, keep a routine, and get ample sleep and exercise. Also connect, connect, and (virtually) connect with family and friends, and help others do the same. A bracing dose of Stoic philosophy is also in order, to remind us that “life is what our thoughts make of it,” as Marcus Aurelius understood.

Some need more than good advice to endure the pandemic, however. Mandated isolation can be an anxiety-provoking trial. To soften or avert a “social recession,” as former surgeon general Vivek Murthy recently called it in The Atlantic, neighbors must engage with isolated elderly or disabled people and assure them that they matter and belong and that they won’t go without material reserves.

12. R. Richard Geddes and Barry Strauss come down hard on American colleges who are suckling on the Beijing teat and providing cover for the brutal communist regime. From the commentary:

China has been ruthless in its quest to steal research, control information, and gain approval. It has distributed targeted funds to strategically selected academics in American universities (as seen in this year’s allegations at Harvard University and the University of Florida), established Confucius Institutes on campuses to spread Marxist ideas, and engaged in a global propaganda campaign — a sophisticated, data-driven effort, aided by a massive social-media blitz — to portray itself as a worldwide savior, rather than a state with a lot of explaining to do.

The denunciation of Communism is left to those viewed as unsophisticates, retrogrades, or even racists by many elites and academics. Criticizing the Chinese Communist regime should not be viewed as a criticism of its people, and Communism should not get a pass because people fear being called racist.

While the Chinese regime has been credited by some for bringing hundreds of millions of people up from poverty, the credit belongs to the Chinese people themselves, enterprising and hard-working as they are. The regime merely got out of the way after decades of disastrous social engineering. Oppression still exists, particularly for Uighurs, Tibetans, defenders of civil liberties in Hong Kong, and outspoken people everywhere in China.

13. Kyle Smith checks out the new Netflix documentary by and about Michelle Obama. He sees lots of tall tales. From the review:

Obama tells us in the movie of suffering racial discomfort around Princeton, where “I was one of a handful of minority students. It was the first time in my life where I stood out like that.” She reports in her memoir that Princeton’s student body was “less than nine percent black,” but, since blacks were 12 percent of the U.S. population, Princeton was fairly representative of the country as a whole. It was her mostly black neighborhood back home that was atypical.

That brings us to the smoking gun of the movie, the one story Obama has to offer of being indisputably the victim of a racist insult. While discussing her college years, she says, “I learned that one of my roommates moved out because her mother was horrified that I was black. She felt her daughter was in danger. I wasn’t prepared for that.” The story she tells in the memoir is different: She learned in 2008, via a newspaper interview with an ex-roommate, that the reason the girl had moved out was because of the racist mom. At Princeton, Michelle Robinson didn’t suspect the reason the roommate had moved out and was evidently unbothered about it: “I’m happy to say I had no idea why,” she writes.

14. And then there is that Palestinian problem . . . the one in the Lone Star State. Steve Presley and Robert D. Johnson report on how the Union Pacific Railroad is trying to break a long-term deal that will result in screwing over a Texas city. From the piece:

When Union Pacific railroad acquired MoPac in 1982, company executives were well-aware of the 1954 agreement and openly affirmed its validity. With Union Pacific’s much larger workforce, the percentage of its employees that had to be maintained in Palestine was much smaller, but otherwise the deal remained the same. In the decades that followed, Union Pacific repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the 1954 agreement, and the people of Palestine continued to rely on it in setting their city-planning and economic-development policies.

But then, last November, on the day before Thanksgiving, Union Pacific filed suit in federal court to have the 1954 agreement invalidated. It hopes, essentially, to take the money and run — to close up shop in Palestine, increasing its own profits by laying off scores of workers and leaving the community devastated.

This is no story of a railroad that has fallen on hard times. Union Pacific is one of the most profitable railroads in the world. At most, walking out on its obligations to Palestine will save it less money than some of its executives make in annual bonuses. But it does fit a larger pattern: Underneath the media’s radar, the company has been leaving one town after another reeling from sudden terminations and layoffs in the interest of its own bottom line. From St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri to Omaha and North Platte in Nebraska to the town of Hermiston in Oregon, Union Pacific has been terminating lifelong employees and union members for years.

15. More Kearns: She gives the rundown on coronavirus modeler Neil Ferguson, personification of the Expert Commandment, “do as I say not as I do.” From the piece:

All while lecturing the public on the importance of cooperating with nationwide house imprisonment, Ferguson was conducting an affair with his married lover, who travelled across London on multiple occasions to “visit” him. The timeline provided by The Telegraph, who broke the story, leaves little room for excuses. It shows that while Ferguson briefed the country to stay put, his lover, superbly cast as the 38-year-old Antonia Staats (get it?), a left-wing activist, was traveling to and fro between her husband, their kids, and her $2 million home for her quarantine rendezvous with her favorite government scientist. As if this story couldn’t get any more bourgeois, the husband apparently wasn’t bothered by this, because the couple have an “open marriage.” It is the kind of story the British press love. Hypocrisy, stupidity, and a brilliant distraction from more pressing (and depressing) matters.

Britain is currently in its seventh week of the lockdowns. In England and Wales, officials dispense a fine for breaking lockdown protocols every five minutes. Hypocrisy is the only remaining sin in secular Britain. Of course, the fact that Staats is married is neither here nor there. Brits no longer expect government officials and advisers to be faithful spouses. The infuriating part is that her first visit coincided with a public warning from Ferguson that lockdown measures were essential and would have to be prolonged. Meanwhile, her subsequent visits occurred after she had told friends that she suspected her husband had contracted COVID-19. Ferguson himself spent two weeks in “complete isolation,” having contracted coronavirus. So, here is a person instructing the country on how to live, in order to “save lives,” via the most draconian measures ever willingly tolerated in a liberal democracy, while flouting his own rules.

16. More McLaughlin: Dan expounds on the New York Times winning a Pulitzer Prize for its 1619 agitprop. From the essay:

Journalism and academia are supposed to honor, as their highest value, the fearless pursuit of truth. If you tried to parody the sad decline of prestige awards in those fields into an ideologically blinkered self-congratulatory echo chamber for progressive agitprop, it would be difficult to find a more on-the-nose example than the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times for commentary. Hannah-Jones was, according to the Pulitzer committee, honored for “a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”

“Deeply reported” is one way to describe an essay that required the Times to append a correction and a separate “Editor’s Note” regarding an incendiary assertion that was presented without factual support, and that resulted in Hannah-Jones’s eventually admitting, after seven months of defending the claim, scrambling to find scholarly support for it, and bitterly denouncing her critics in racial terms, that “in attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here.” One hesitates to think what the runners-up for the award looked like.

Technically, the Pulitzer is for Hannah-Jones’s lead essay in the 1619 Project, and not for her role as the self-described architect of the rest of the essay collection. So, we can set aside the errors ranging from American political history to basic economics that plagued other submissions and focus on the lead essay.

17. Armond White explains why the Hollywood of 2020 could never remake the classic movie Network. From the essay:

Network’s hysteria is irrelevant to today’s climate in which CBS, NBC, and ABC are more blatantly partisan than Chayefsky’s fictitious UBS. Fans of Network who cite the film as a cautionary tale ignore what really accounts for the film’s status: Chayefsky dared to bite the hand that fed him. He wasn’t aiming at some phantom ideology or faceless idiocy, even when putting down a generalized audience of boob-tube addicts. The satire is squarely aimed at powerful people who offended Chayefsky’s personal sense of morality following his early career during the 1950s, the original “golden age” of TV.

Instead of examining politics, the film aims at specific stereotypes — manic news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch), pompous network news producer Max Schumacher (William Holden), and rapacious entertainment producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway). They each represent figures made sacrosanct today, hypocrites who hide behind political correctness.

Another reason Network couldn’t be remade today is that these potentates know how to shield and defend themselves. No matter how much reality TV gluts the airwaves, we’re never shown what goes on behind the scenes of newsrooms. No one takes responsibility for the conspiracy theories that pass for mainstream media perspective — one person’s truth, another person’s “fake news.” Recall the media uproar when Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell depicted a newspaper reporter in the style of Dunaway’s Christensen, and then remember the shallow, vengeful harridans of last year’s Bombshell. The masters of media — this would include the contemptuous, censorious hipsters of Silicon Valley — do not allow criticism.

18. More Armond: He compares the flick industry’s take on First Ladies. It’s Melania vs. Michelle, and here’s a slice of the review:

Somebody at Channel 13, New York’s liberal-biased public-television channel, must have been asleep at the switch when the station recently broadcast the politically tinged rom-com Ladies in Black. It’s a movie about fashion, femininity, and courage and consequently the first film release that acknowledges Melania Trump and her unique role as our country’s first immigrant first lady since Louisa Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams.

The American premiere of Ladies in Black, a 2018 Australian film by Bruce Beresford that never opened in U.S. theaters, matched public television’s frequent emphasis on immigrant experience and female empowerment. Based on Australian writer Madeleine St. John’s 1993 novel about saleswomen working at Goode’s high-end clothes emporium in 1950s Sydney, it prominently features a character — Slovenian refugee and fashion habitué Magda, played by Julia Ormond — who brings kindliness, self-assurance, and taste to her new country, just as Melania Trump has distinctly shown. In this context, Magda edges past public television’s stubborn liberal partisanship to reflect the emigrant optimism and style that has been marginalized by mainstream media.

Programming this film had to be an accident, given the political preferences of the cultural gatekeepers in left-of-Lenin New York. But it’s a happy accident that counters the deification of former first lady Michelle Obama in Netflix’s new documentary memoir Becoming, a lesser, openly propagandistic film made, strangely, in an aggressive PBS mode.

The contrast of these two movies pinpoints the media’s failure to be fair and balanced about these two first ladies.

19. Brian Allen goads the Texas museum leaders who are proving fearful of opening their doors to the great unwashed and undisinfected. From the beginning of the piece:

The governor of Texas says museums there “can” open again, but some are dragging their feet. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, and the big museums in San Antonio want weeks, maybe even months more, before they start serving the public again.

They’re waiting for all the experts, every last one of them, and everyone’s Ouija board to agree that opening is totally, absolutely safe, but life doesn’t work that way. Life’s a risky business, but they’re catering to all the alumni of Safe Space U among their staff. Where’s the Alamo spirit?

“We’ll reopen when and if it seems safe to reopen incrementally,” Contemporary Austin announced. “When and if?” Do they think they might stay closed until there’s not a coronavirus left on the planet? If they do, they’re no longer a public institution. Rather, they are an art warehouse and don’t deserve a not-for-profit tax exemption.

20. More Kyle, who finds not one, not two, but three ways to consider Dog Day Afternoon. From the essay:

Dog Day Afternoon is possibly the most perfect entry among the dozens of great gritty Seventies movies that provided me with a durable memory library of cinematic brilliance. (It’s streaming on the TCM app through May 10.) Al Pacino’s Sonny is the scion of a long line of antiheroes reaching back to Paul Muni’s James Allen, who explains, heartbreakingly, “I steal” at the end of 1932’s I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, a film that showed us why he stole, with great tender sympathy for the plight of criminals. Sonny has a touch of Warren Beatty’s cute confusion —“Hey!” is his last word, one shirttail hanging out, one lens missing from his sunglasses — before Clyde Barrow gets gunned down without a word of warning by a hidden squad of cowardly riflemen at the end of Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Too, Sonny exhibits some of the shamelessness and peacockery of ultra-criminal Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange (1971), whose felonious acts are an assertion of human free will. All of these are Warner Bros. productions, the crime movies that plumbed the humanity of malefactors.

Sonny was also one of the lone, usually doomed truthtellers who fight the system — director Sidney Lumet’s great subject, from Twelve Angry Men (1957) to Serpico (1973), Network (1976), Prince of the City (1981), and The Verdict (1982). That’s how Lumet guides the audience to consider the situation, anyway: His and Pacino’s Sonny (who in real life was named John Wojtowicz) is an adorable, sensitive soul who obviously means no harm. Who among us has not fretted over how to pay for his lover’s sex-change operation and been forced to rob a bank as the only available means of funding? Sonny gets harangued by his shrewish wife, pleads for calm from his histrionic boyfriend, and sadly informs his moronic junior partner that “Wyoming” is not a country. These scenes go beyond humanizing Sonny. We actually love the poor guy and want him to survive his nutty ordeal. Don’t cops do a lot of awful things too, by the way? Attica! How exhilarating to side with the rebels.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Alexandra discuss Joe Biden’s response to the Tara Reade allegations, the unfair media coverage of Florida’s handling of the lockdown, and whether or not we’ll have a baseball season. Batter up!

2. And then on a special edition of The Editors, Rich and Oren Cass discuss his new group, American Compass. Learn about it here.

3. And then on yet another edition (#214!) of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Luke discuss Biden and Trump’s presidential chances and Betsy DeVos’s recent Title IX revisions. You’ll want to listen, and you can do that here.

4. On the new episode of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the Scope memo, the House Intelligence Committee transcripts, and wrap up some Flynn items from last week. Wisdom’s in session, here.

5. On The Great Books, John J. Miller and Rhodes College prof Scott Newstok discuss the Sonnets of one Bill Shakespeare. Lend us your ears, here.

6. On The Bookmonger, JJM is joined by David Ignatius to talk about his new spy novel, The Paladin. Prepare your decryption devices and then eavesdrop here.

7. On Episode 14 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the war between the credentialed class and the folks with practical experience, the love affair between America businesses and Communist China, the free-speech angle to college undergrads opting for victimhood status, the misguided panacea of coronavirus testing, and putting Joe Biden’s veepstakes in historical context. All properly credentialed conservatives may listen here.

8. On the new episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss a ridiculous criticism of National Review and Betsy DeVos’s Title IX reform. Do catch it here.

9. At Radio Free California, David and Will consider how tough-talking Gavin Newsom bows to popular pressure to ease the lockdown. And then they discuss the progressive warning — that emergency orders to shrink the prison population, house the homeless, and hand out free laptops are their proof of concept for future governance. All that and more can be heard here.

The Six

1. David Goldman’s lead essay in the new issue of Claremont Review of Books puts China at the top of the “U.S. Threats” list. From the essay:

The past year was a watershed. As matters stand the United States will be overtaken by China in the next several years. China is developing its own intellectual property in key areas. Some of it is better than ours—in artificial intelligence, telecommunications, cryptography, and electronic warfare. In other key fields like quantum computing—possibly the holy grail of 21st-century technology—it’s hard to tell who’s winning, but China is outspending us by a huge margin.

China’s first great multinational company, Huawei, is rolling out fifth generation (5G) mobile broadband across the whole of Eurasia, from Vladivostok, Russia to Bristol, England, despite a full-court press by the Trump Administration to stop it. In January 2020 Great Britain—America’s closest ally—brushed off Trump’s personal intervention and allowed Huawei to build part of Britain’s 5G network. The European Community announced it would take no measures to exclude the Chinese giant. Washington tried to strangle Huawei by slapping export controls on U.S. components for 5G equipment and smartphones, only to see Huawei continue expanding using Asian components while achieving self-sufficiency in chip production.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich deplored this as “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.” At stake are not only the sinews of the new industrial age, but scores of spinoff applications that will transform manufacturing, mining, health care, finance, transportation, and retailing—virtually the entirety of economic life—in what China calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

2. Also in the CRB, Christopher Caldwell makes mincemeat of the idea of dual citizenship. From the essay:

Political theorists used to think dual citizenship a dangerous thing because it presents occasions for dual loyalty and erodes the social compact on which all citizens’ rights depend. Under the newer understanding, that’s a feature rather than a bug. We live in an interconnected global economy in which we’re supposed to have multiple loyalties. Rights are human rights—no national authority need assert them.

There will always be a use for dual citizenship, especially in dealing with children of international marriages. But the old understanding was more right than wrong. The transformation from national citizens’ rights to universal human rights does divide loyalties and corrode sovereignties. On top of that, we are beginning to notice practical problems with mass dual citizenship that were hardly considered at all when we began dispensing it liberally at the sunny outset of the civil rights era.

Dual citizenship undermines equal citizenship, producing a regime of constitutional haves and have-nots. The dual citizen has, at certain important moments and in certain important contexts, the right to choose the regime under which he lives. He can avoid military conscription, duck taxes, and flee prosecution. When Spain, as coronavirus cases spiked in mid-March, banned all movement outside the home except for designated purposes, one of those purposes was to “return to your habitual place of residence.” A Spaniard with citizenship in a second country thus had the constitutional privilege of exempting himself from a nationwide lockdown in a way that his fellow Spaniard did not. Such special privileges do not often matter—but when they do, they matter in a life-or-death way.

You would have to be a very provincial person not to see that the problems traditionally associated with loyalty to two countries can become quite severe. A classic articulation of this worry was the Supreme Court dissent by Justice Melville Fuller in United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898. That case established so-called “birthright citizenship”—the understanding, controversial in many quarters, that the 14th Amendment grants citizenship for all people born on American soil. . . .

3. Galling: At Gatestone Institute, Petra Heldt smotes the Danish Bible Society, which publishes a rump edition of the Holy Book that frequently drops the word “Israel.” From the article:

It is difficult not to see an intentional technique that eliminates the homeland of Israel and replaces it with a home for others; and that replaces the God of Israel with the God of you.

Unlike the Bible Society of Israel presentation, the Danish Bible Society statement of April 22 exemplifies a crafty method of misleading the reader. It seems simply a further example of its technique of distortion.

The Danish Bible Society statement comes with the headline, “Fake news about the Danish Bible.” The subheading reads:

“Is the word ‘Israel’ omitted from the Contemporary Danish Bible 2020? Get your facts straight with this Q&A so you can identify the fake news.”

This sets the tone for the Danish Bible Society’s rejection of the international outcry against its version of the Bible. The Danish Bible Society seems to regard the international outcry as a gross injustice.

The Danish Bible Society, disagreeing with those who criticized it for eliminating Israel from its Bible 2020, did not “take measures to correct” its mistranslations. Instead, the Danish Bible Society doubled down and insisted upon its bowdlerization.

4. At The College Fix, Kyle Hooten reports on GOP congressional efforts to investigate the level of ChiCom influence at U.S. universities and colleges. From the article:

The lawmakers in the memo ask for the documents to be provided by May 11, as well as a staff-level briefing on the matter, noting the Committee on Oversight and Reform “has broad authority to investigate ‘any matter’ at ‘any time’ under House Rule X.”

The other six Republican lawmakers who signed on to the memo are: Virginia Foxx, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and Labor; Mac Thornberry, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security; Frank Lucas, ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a news release, Thornberry cited his concerns over China obtaining sensitive information through institutions doing research with the Department of Defense. Foxx noted that “China is now attempting to suppress academic research into the origins of the pandemic.”

5. At Commentary, Christine Rosen broils Red China’s U.S. media lackeys. From the piece:

In the past few months, many journalists have covered the coronavirus pandemic with rigor and integrity. One early warning about the danger of trusting China and the World Health Organization came in February in a well-reported piece by Jeremy Page and Betsy McKay in the Wall Street Journal. And reporters and pundits are correct to criticize the Trump administration’s inconsistent and often shambolic response to the pandemic. Even so, we must not allow the glaring blind spots in the mainstream media’s coverage of the virus in the preceding months to disappear down a convenient memory hole—in particular, their credulous approach to China and their lack of rigor in examining Chinese influence on the WHO.

From the beginning, the WHO’s statements about the emerging virus read more like Chinese propaganda than global health recommendations. On January 30, for example, when WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus finally acknowledged that the virus posed a global health emergency, he made sure to note that “this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China.” To the contrary, he added: “The WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.” Just a day earlier, other WHO officials praised China’s Xi Jinping for helping “prevent the spread of the virus to other countries,” even though by that point WHO officials knew the virus had already appeared in at least 18 other nations. And yet, with the exception of the Wall Street Journal’s report, it’s difficult to find anyone in the mainstream media who didn’t take WHO largely at its word.

Or consider the media’s approach to the numbers, which are the main story of any pandemic. Without accurate data, it is nearly impossible to get a handle on the scope and scale of a global public health crisis. And yet, from the beginning, China withheld information, silenced internal whistleblowers, and engaged in a concerted effort to stifle bad news about the pandemic.

6. At The Critic, Toby Young nails the arrogance better known as Neil Ferguson, pandemic modeler and horndog. From the piece:

More often than not, the “solutions” these left-leaning experts come up with make the problems they’re grappling with even worse, and so it will prove to be in this case. The evidence mounts on a daily basis that locking down whole populations in the hope of “flattening the curve” was a catastrophic error, perhaps the worst policy mistake ever committed by Western governments during peacetime. Just yesterday we learnt that the lockdowns have forced countries across the world to shut down TB treatment programmes which, over the next five years, could lead to 6.3 million additional cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths. There are so many stories like this it’s impossible to keep track. We will soon be able to say with something approaching certainty that the cure has been worse than the disease.

Neil Ferguson isn’t single-handedly responsible for this world-historical blunder, but he does bear some responsibility. His apocalyptic predictions frightened the British Government into imposing a full lockdown, with other governments quickly following suit. And I’m afraid he’s absolutely typical of the breed. He suffers from the same fundamental arrogance that progressive interventionists have exhibited since at least the middle of the 18th Century – wildly over-estimating the good that governments can do, assuming there are no limits to what “science” can achieve and, at the same time, ignoring the empirical evidence that their ambitious public programmes are a complete disaster. At bottom, they believe that nature itself can be bent to man’s will.

BONUS: Also in CRB, the great Daniel J. Mahoney considers Helena Rosenblatt’s The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century. From the review:

To be sure, Rosenblatt recognizes that liberalism has an important pre-history. She has intelligent things to say about liberalitas, the “noble and generous way of thinking and acting toward one’s fellow citizens” that defined liberality for Cicero and the most thoughtful Romans. And she is not wrong that this understanding of liberality has an aristocratic tinge but is nevertheless necessary for civilized life, even in modern times. Yet her rather arbitrary starting point ignores the crucial roles of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in liberalism’s development. Like many intellectual historians, she fails to see how Hobbes designed the architecture of the liberal order: the state and civil society, the primacy of individual rights, an account of appetite and desire central to modern political economy, a marked suspicion of revealed religion, and, of course, the foundational “state of nature” he invented to radically account for human origins and obligations. If Rosenblatt read Michael Oakeshott, Leo Strauss, or Bertrand de Jouvenel with care, she would see how Hobbes’s thought points toward liberalism and not authoritarianism or totalitarianism. (Whether it provides an adequate moral foundation for a liberal order is another question. I have my doubts.)

As for Locke, Rosenblatt reads him as Hobbes’s opposite. She links him to Ciceronian or classical liberality—a stretch—and writes he was convinced “[m]en in a state of nature were capable of knowing and following a moral law.” This is a far too conventional rendering of Locke’s truly audacious moral and political reflection. To begin, there is no moral law for Locke—morality is the product of “mixed modes,” constructed by human beings. Even the notion of “murder” is a linguistic construction rather than a prohibition rooted in divine or natural law. And because he jettisons the classical Christian notion of “substance,” it is very difficult to know who precisely is this being with rights (and, Locke acknowledges reluctantly, some accompanying obligations and duties).

DOUBLE BONUS: Brad Birzer at Spirit of Cecilia channels Alexander Solzhenitsyn and recounts his 10 rules of totalitarianism. We share Numbers 8 and 9 from the list:

8. Lies. “The permanent lie becomes the only safe form of existence, in the same way as betrayal. Every wag of the tongue can be overheard by someone, every facial expression observed by someone. Therefore every word, if it does not have to be a direct lie, is nonetheless obliged not to contradict the general, common lie. There exists a collection of ready-made phrases, of labels, a selection of ready-made lies.

9. Cruelty. “And where among all the preceding qualities was there any place left for kindheartedness? How could one possibility preserve one’s kindness while pushing away the hands of those who were drowning? Once you have been steeped in blood, you can only become more cruel. . . . And when you add that kindness was ridiculed, that pity was ridiculed, that mercy was ridiculed—you’d never be able to chain all those who were drunk on blood.”

TRIPLE BONUS: Gene Z sent this and believes it deserves attention, and you know what? Gene is right. So James Hartley’s Public Discourse essay encouraging renewed efforts at fusionism between social conservatives and libertarians — set before the backdrop of the American Compass launch — merits your attention. From the piece:

While not all of the problems identified by American Compass are economic problems, some are. Restricting our attention to those issues, what do we find? To crystallize the issues, let’s start with a story. Mr. Botts owns a bookstore in a small town. Ever since he was young, he wanted to own a bookstore; he loves his bookstore; his customers love his bookstore. Everything is wonderful. Then one day a new person comes into town and opens a brand new bookstore. Let’s call him Mr. Bezos. This new bookstore has a larger variety of books for sale than Mr. Botts ever had. Also, this new bookstore sells every single book at a lower price than over at Mr. Botts’s store. And, to top it all off, Mr. Bezos will deliver every book you buy to your home within two days, with no delivery charge.

You live in this town. You like Mr. Botts and his bookstore. When Mr. Bezos opens his store, do you have a moral obligation to continue to pay the higher prices over at Mr. Botts’s store? Are you committing a moral wrong to decide to give your business to Mr. Bezos? Remember, if you and the other people in your town do not continue to shop at Mr. Botts’s store, it will close, and Mr. Botts will lose his job that he loves and that gave him purpose and meaning in his life. That is not an easy question to answer. It gets worse when you discover that Mr. Walton also came to town selling everything at a lower price than all the other little shops in town had been charging. What do you owe to all these people in your town who are about to lose the jobs they love? Suppose it would cost you an extra $20 a year to allow Mr. Botts to stay in business. Even a minimal charitable impulse would convince someone to spend that much to keep this friend and neighbor from losing the ability to work at the job that brings him so much pleasure.

Baseballery

If there were ever a baseball manager who had an impossible task, it was James Thompson “Doc” Protho, the one-time dentist and third baseman who, come the late 1930s, found himself at the helm of one the consistently worst MLB franchises, the Philadelphia Phillies. From 1933 to 1945, the Phillies had a lock on seventh or eighth place — usually the latter — in the National League basement, including five consecutive seasons with 100 or more losses.

The 1938 squad was one of those disasters, chalking up a 45–105 record and trailing the World Series–bound Chicago Cubs by 43 games (and the seventh place Brooklyn Dodgers by 24 ½ games). Protho — who had had a decent stint managing in the minors — believed he could inspire the hapless, talent-free squad. It was not to be.

In 1939, the team was even worse than it was the year prior, sporting a 45–106 record. Its pitching staff included Max Butcher (who had a 2–13 record), Ike Pearson (ditto), and Al Hollingsworth (1–9). In 1940, the was miniscule improvement as the Phillies were 50–103, trailing the first-place Reds by 50 games. Talent remained sparse. And Pearson again proved symbolic, with a 3–14 record.

And then came 1941, and Protho’s Phillies put up some of the worst numbers in NL history: a 43–111 record and seven pitchers with double-digit losses. They were shut out 22 times, and in one five-game stretch in June the Phillies lost 5–0, 3–0, 3–2, 3–0, and 6–0. Pearson pulled a 4–14 record on the year. (His MLB career record, 13–50, is one of the worst ever, but Pearson did serve as a Marine Captain in WW2, so mockery is not permitted.)

After the three-year stint, Protho was done. Back to the minors he went to manage the Memphis Chicksaws for a number of years.

Of note: In 1942, hoping a name change and a new manager would reverse their sorry fortunes, the re-tagged “Phils” (they’d be the “Blue Jays” in 1944–45) under new manager Hans Lobert could only muster a 42–109 record.

Of additional note: The one masochistic man to play for the Phillies and Phils and Blue Jays throughout this stretch was future Hall of Famer Chuck Klein.

Before We Part

Our pal Amity Shlaes’ book, Great Society: A New History, has been out a few months, and has registered a slew of excellent reviews, including this recent one in NR by Fred Siegel. You really should have it. A few weeks back, Peter Robinson hosted an excellent Uncommon Knowledge interview with Amity about the book. You can watch it here. And you will find the book’s Amazon link here.

A tidbit: Here’s a slice from Amity’s Introduction to her book (the Harrington she refers to is Michael, the great liberal agitator of the early 1960s and author of the then-bestselling and consequential book The Other America):

There were not many self- described socialists in the country in the early 1960s. The Young People’s Socialist League, the premier socialist youth group, was reporting a doubling in membership across the colleges, but that increase was merely from four hundred to eight hundred members. Still, socialists such as Harrington were far from alone in their insistence on transcendent change. Many Americans ached to make American society over, whether by tinkering or rebuilding, in the name of improving life for all. In the early 1960s the groups that nursed this ambition were diverse. They were university students who hoped to fashion their own utopia— Harrington worked with a new group called Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. There were union chiefs who sought explicitly to re-create the culture and benefits of socialism like that of Northern Europe, not just for union members, but also for the nation at large. There were government officials such as Shriver who believed the right president could indeed lead the country in epic reform. There were engineers who envisioned transformation through technology. There were businesses that thought great corporations would lead in raising the standard of living for all. Typical was General Electric, whose motto was “Progress is our most important product.” There were factory workers whose lives had improved in the 1960s and who hoped to finally make it into the middle class by the 1970s. There were priests, ministers, and rabbis who sought collective spiritual renewal in aspects of life far beyond their pulpits. There were civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, who dreamed of a time when race would no longer matter.

Most Americans shared something else with Harrington: confidence. In the 1930s, the New Deal had failed to reduce unemployment. The prolonged periods of joblessness were what had made the Depression “Great.” But the memory of the New Deal failure had faded just enough that younger people liked the sound of the term. And memories of more recent success fueled Americans’ current ambition. Many men were veterans. They had been among the victorious forces that rolled across Europe and occupied Japan at the end of World War II. Compared with overcoming a Great Depression, or conquering Europe and Japan, eliminating poverty or racial discrimination had to be easy. American society was already so good. To take it to great would be a mere “mopping up action,” as Norman Podhoretz, who had served in Europe, put it.

Underlying the new American ambition was dissatisfaction with the pace of projects that had been launched in the 1950s: civil rights law that had not desegregated train stations or schools, the construction of the interstate highways that didn’t seem to help the poor, urban renewal funding that could not meet the needs of all. Now the country wanted more, faster. In the 1960s America sensed “the fierce urgency of now,” as King put it. The Magic of Thinking Big was the title of a popular self- help book. Americans wanted to see change that blasted like a space rocket. The country had to use its power to do something superlative. This good society had to become, in the words of President Johnson, a Great Society.

A Dios

The request for prayers, made in our last number, for a young man suffering from Stage Four cancer are humbly renewed and deeply appreciated. Meanwhile the padre asked Your Sinful Correspondent again to a private Mass this week, if only to discuss afterwards the parish’s closing in 2021, the church itself (a place where an actual miracle occurred) to be locked, its fate unknown. Will we be grateful if it perhaps be used on occasion to host funerals of the dearly departed? Lament as we might, it’s hard to keep open the doors when vocations are stymied and the once-faithful convince themselves that Sunday’s obligation is now to sleep in. Ah, well — God will have to fix this, and plenty of other stuff too. If only we would ask. Oremus.

The Creator’s Copious Blessings and Graces on You and All His Sheep, Lost or Not,

Jack Fowler, who awaits electronic face-slaps directed via jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

No There There

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

“Young man, you are being selfish!” Your Rebuked Scribbler can still hear the admonition of Mrs. K — (Kindergarten, 1966, P.S. 19, Katonah Avenue, The Bronx) ringing more than half a century later. Had Little Boy Correspondent asked one time too many for her to play Funny Frankie Fireman? Probably. And she may have been on to something, because Portly Old Correspondent still demands attention. So be it: We abuse the privilege of the outset of this number to ask you to listen to the Victor Davis Hanson Podcast and if you like what you hear, which we assume you will, to then subscribe to it, and if your choose to rate it on iTunes, to consider a 5-star rating, as Victor’s perma-brilliance negates any dull-wittedness of his babbling cohost. Here is the podcast’s home page.

Elsewhere, see below, on The Flynn Affair, Andy McCarthy (in print and in podcast) lets loose with analyses of crimes having been committed, likely, but by politicized G Men.

Elsewhere Elsewhere: This is being typed with fingers wet from tears. Kat Timpf leaves us to go full-time Fox. From her final NR piece:

I will forever be thankful for National Review — not only because I know that I personally wouldn’t be where I am without it, but also because of what it adds to our country’s discourse as a whole. After all, the character and integrity that I witnessed on a personal level as an employee is also reflected externally in the publication’s content.

National Review is a “conservative” magazine, sure — but the varying viewpoints that it publishes prove that it’s committed to principles over partisanship. National Review is a place where writers value truth over politics. They use logic to come to their honestly sought conclusions, rather than twisting it to fit a cookie-cutter preconceived narrative. I’m honored to have been a part of it, and I promise to approach all of my future work in the same way.

Speaking of my future, I am beyond thrilled for the new opportunities in this next chapter of my career. I hope that all of you who have enjoyed reading me here (thank you!) will continue to read my columns at FoxNews.com. (If you didn’t enjoy reading me here, but still sometimes felt compelled to do so just to tell me how much you hated it, feel free to keep that going, too.)

Thanks again, so much, NR. Thank you for taking a chance on me, for supporting me, for letting me use my desk area at the old office as some kind of bizarre storage unit — for everything.

Good-bye you sweet thing. Now wipe them tears Fatso and let these wonderful people enjoy the copiousity of the WJ!

But First . . .

. . . if you’ve yet to become an NRPLUS member, how about you fix that, right now? Sign up here.

Editorials

1. The #MeToo-propagating / Kavanaugh-detesting MSM’s deliberate ignorance of Tara Reade’s charges against Joe Biden get called out. From the editorial:

Given that the evidence is stronger in this case than it was in Kavanaugh’s — we know, at least, that the accuser and accused have met — we must ask why the same rules are not being applied in this instance. Joe Biden is hoping to be president of the United States. Might not a “cloud” follow him around, too? Biden has not only denied the charges categorically, but he has demanded that the press “diligently review” and “rigorously vet” them. What, when compared to his “I believe you” mantra, should this tell us about his character? Is a presidential election not a “job interview,” too? And if, as was the case in 2018, the venue of the alleged assault tells us a great deal about the likelihood of its veracity, might we expect to read a slate of pieces outlining what it was like to be a female intern in the Senate in the early 1990s?

We are of the same view today as we were in 2018, and as we were before that. We believe that sexual assault is a hideous crime and that we should punish only people who are guilty of it. It is monstrous when the perpetrators of evil get away with their acts. But it is also monstrous when the innocent lose their good names. Our preference for due process derives from a desire to avoid either outcome.

More practically, we believe that our political system itself benefits strongly from the presumption of innocence. If the mere introduction of an accusation is sufficient to prompt a candidate’s withdrawal, the incentives for false charges will grow legion. Joe Biden is a hypocrite and an opportunist, but that is no reason to treat him any differently than we would treat anybody else. If he has truly changed his mind on this most important of questions, we welcome him into the fold. As Biden now argues, Tara Reade’s accusations should be “respectfully heard” and “rigorously vetted.” And, if the evidence does not rise to the level, the man at whom they are aimed should be assumed not guilty. But we will not get to that point with one side throwing a blanket over the story and muttering, “well, this time he’s one of ours.”

2. And so the initial, sporadic, minimal lockdown exits have begun. Bueno, we say, in addition to other things. From the editorial:

On the other side of the ledger, the lockdowns have been too geographically sweeping. Not only are the states of our union vastly different, so are areas within states. There is no reason for rural areas of New York and Michigan, where many counties have a couple of dozen cases or fewer, to be subject to the same restrictions as New York City and Detroit. Likewise, statewide prohibitions on elective surgeries have, perversely, emptied hospital beds and idled medical workers in places that have had no COVID-19 surge. (The iconic Mayo Clinic has furloughed 30,000 staff members.) These procedures, often for serious illnesses such as cancer, need to resume.

Overall, it’s impossible to exaggerate the economic cost of the lockdowns, which have brought on a steep recession that we will probably spend years digging out of. This is why impatience to reopen is an entirely understandable sentiment, even if it is treated by much of the media as heretical. A balance obviously has to be struck. Much economic activity disappeared when people decided, on their own, to change their habits in response to the epidemic. Consumers won’t come back in full force until they believe the pathogen is under control. But we can’t stay locked down until the virus is entirely vanquished, or we will have destroyed the country to save it.

3. Own it, de Blasio! From the editorial:

Ignoring the advice and recommendations of the relevant experts in order to tend to his political concerns, Mayor de Blasio effectively became a member of that class of villain most hated by his progressive allies: a denier. His refusal to concede the facts and his desire to subordinate good policy to political expediency were compounded by his general executive incompetence, for instance in leaving city agencies without necessary guidance for implementing work-from-home policies. He insisted that the city’s hospitals were well prepared for the crisis; the actual situation in the city’s public hospitals was shortly thereafter described as “apocalyptic” by one physician.

De Blasio did manage to name his wife as head of a coronavirus-recovery panel. He always has time for that sort of thing. Mrs. de Blasio is fresh off of watching $1 billion walk out the door while overseeing a fruitless mental-health initiative. She has time on her hands and is rumored to be considering a run for elected office herself.

De Blasio moved with much less dispatch than did colleagues in California and Ohio, among other places. And then, after dawdling for so long, de Blasio flipped. We always are happy to see a politician amend his views to accommodate new facts, but Slowpoke de Blasio’s subsequent overcompensation, and the sanctimony and viciousness he brings to the effort, is something else.

De Blasio launched a broadside against “the Jewish community” after a large crowd turned out for a rabbi’s funeral in Williamsburg as though the event corporately implicated the more than 1 million Jews living in New York City, drawing criticism from the city’s ADL and other local Jewish leaders.

High-Calorie and Nutritious National Review Intellectual Goodness Awaits, But Remember to Chew Each Piece 32 Times

1. Andy McCarthy laid it out in his smashing book, Ball of Collusion: General Michael Flynn was set up. From the beginning of the excerpt:

Could anything have made the Obama administration giddier than the prospect of making a criminal case on Michael Flynn?

Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general, who made his mark on modern insurgent warfare by helping revolutionize the rapid dissemination of battlefield intelligence. He was promoted by President Obama to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is also a headstrong man who got himself on Obama’s bad side by questioning counterterrorism strategy, particularly the administration’s weakness on Iran. He was detested by Obama political and national-security officials for calling them out on politicizing intelligence. The FBI was not a fan, least of all Deputy Director Andy McCabe, because Flynn had supported an agent who claimed the Bureau had subjected her to sex discrimination.

After Obama fired him from the DIA post, Flynn became an important Trump-campaign surrogate, which gave him a national media platform from which to rip Obama’s foreign policy. When Trump won the election, Obama counseled him against tapping Flynn for a top administration job. Trump ignored the advice, naming Flynn his national-security advisor. Flynn worked on the Trump transition and incensed Obama officials by lobbying against a U.N. resolution against Israel that the Obama administration, in its profiles-in-courage style, orchestrated and then abstained from voting on. The collusion narrative notwithstanding, Russia rebuffed Trump’s entreaties on the Israel resolution.

2. More Andy: He analyses the explosive revelations in the government’s shoddy case against General Flynn. From the analysis:

This goes to the point I’ve been pressing for years. There was no good-faith basis for an investigation of General Flynn. Under federal law, a false statement made to investigators is not actionable unless it is material. That means it must be pertinent to a matter that is properly under investigation. If the FBI did not have a legitimate investigative basis to interview Flynn, then that fact should have been disclosed as exculpatory information. It would have enabled his counsel to argue that any inaccurate statements he made were immaterial.

And that is far from the end of the matter.

As I’ve noted several times over the years, it has long been speculated that Flynn — though he did not believe he was guilty (and though the agents who interviewed him also did not believe he had intentionally misled them) — nevertheless pled guilty to false-statements charges because prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff threatened him. Specifically, Flynn is said to have been warned that, if he refused to plead guilty, prosecutors would charge his son with a felony for failing to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Such a so-called FARA violation (Foreign Agent Registration Act) is a crime that the DOJ almost never charged before the Mueller investigation, and it had dubious application to Flynn’s son (who worked for Flynn’s private-intelligence firm).

3. Even More Andy: It was a political perjury trap, and Flynn needed to be caught in it, if its perpetrators were to snag the big Prize, POTUS. From the beginning of the piece:

Michael Flynn was not the objective. He was the obstacle.

Once you grasp that fundamental fact, it becomes easier to understand the latest disclosures the Justice Department made in the Flynn case on Thursday. They are the most important revelations to date about the FBI’s Trump–Russia investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane.

The new disclosures, in conjunction with all we have learned in the last week, answer the all-important why question: Why was Flynn set up?

The answer to the what question has been clear for a long time: The FBI set a perjury trap for Flynn, hoping to lure him into misstatements that the bureau could portray as lies. In the frenzied political climate of the time, that would have been enough to get him removed from his new position as national security adviser (NSA), perhaps even to prosecute him. On that score, the new disclosures, startling as they are to read, just elucidate what was already obvious.

But why did they do it? That has been the baffling question. Oh, there have been plenty of indications that the Obama administration could not abide Flynn. The White House and the intelligence agencies had their reasons, mostly vindictive. But while that may explain their gleefulness over his fall from grace, it has never been a satisfying explanation for the extraordinary measures the FBI took to orchestrate that fall.

4. Therese Shaheen recounts the ugly realities of Chicom chauvinism and its perspective on the rest of the world’s peoples. From the analysis:

That said, there is a quality to the pattern of behavior in the PRC that transcends ethnicity. Chinese racial discrimination is horrifying in its own right, of course. But it also suggests a farther-reaching chauvinism that is emerging as the defining characteristic of the Xi era.

Han Chinese make up the same percentage of the population in Hong Kong as on the mainland, and are 97 percent of the population in Taiwan. Neither Hong Kongers nor Taiwanese have suffered any less at Xi’s hands for that. Nor, for that matter, have the 400 million mostly Han Chinese living on less than $5 a day in the country outside China’s megacities, who face vicious discrimination from urban elites.

In some ways, the gulf between the rich in China’s cities and the poor in its rural areas has been institutionalized through the longstanding “hukou” system of internal registration, which hampers movement between regions and creates what amounts to an economic caste system. While Xi has made hukou reform a priority in order to create greater opportunity for urban migration and prosperity, the system continues to reinforce the divide between urban haves and rural have-nots. As the former become wealthier and more global in their perspective, the disdain they frequently show for those who are different — whether from Africa or rural China — is becoming more pronounced.

5. Scooter Libby sizes up the threat of Red China and its Mao-fascinated leader, Xi Jinping. From the essay:

Such openness and grace have not been Xi’s way. As he built up islets in the South China Sea, he promised never to militarize them, then dishonored his promise, disregarded international rulings, and dispatched ships in packs to intimidate neighboring states and expand Beijing’s writ. Pledging to protect intellectual property, he enabled ongoing theft and coercion, ineluctably undermining industries of the advanced democracies, and then pressed forward on China’s newly gained advantages. His BRI professes to aid, then exploits poor countries’ weaknesses. Citing the betterment of all in the cause of greater China, he has imprisoned Uighurs, undermined Tibetan culture, and threatened the peaceful regional order that had enabled China’s rise. He violates treaty commitments to curb Hong Kong’s freedoms. Behind an anti-corruption façade, his prosecutors ruined scores of his rivals, as he consolidated and extended his personal powers. These wrongs he continues still. Xi’s are not the ways of grace and remorse.

An angry narrative drives this man. Under his hand, the CCP highlights Chinese suffering and humiliation roughly a century ago under Western and Japanese imperialists, while eliding the democratic world’s helping hand and Japan’s benign democracy over four generations since. He slides past the Chinese millions massacred in the intervening decades by the CCP and Mao — China’s legendary leader who spread cruelty and death as he judged useful. In imitation of Mao, Xi has issued his own “little red book” of wisdom. Mao’s iconic image looms over Tiananmen still. Coveting Mao’s autocratic power, Xi strove and won it; now he dare not let it go.

The bitter recall of ancient Chinese glories; resentment of past humiliations; insecurity bred by corruption and illegitimacy; disdain, even hatred of America’s easy ways — these are the pathogens coursing through Xi’s circle. A fever for Chinese primacy burns among them. For a time, they might pander to a Western-inspired, rules-based order, a liberal conceit; but this is not their dream. A historic economic rise, technological mastery, a rapidly expanding navy, all causes to be proud of, have freed them to be brazen. Xi now bares the teeth Deng Xiaoping’s smile hid. From South China Sea islets to the New Silk Road’s arid ends, the CCP, ruthless and defiant, pounds the stakes it holds to advance its aims. For Xi’s CCP, it is the fate of small states to bend to the strong.

6. David Harsanyi scores the hypocrisy in #MeToo Biden. From the analysis:

In 2011, the Obama DOJ’s “Dear Colleague” letter directed institutions of higher learning to adjudicate sexual-assault and misconduct cases under Title IX not by a “clear and convincing evidence” standard, but by a “preponderance of evidence.” The letter also “strongly” discouraged cross-examination of alleged victims — one of the fundamental methods of determining truth — because it “may be traumatic or intimidating” to the alleged victim. After Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed new rules to reinstate some semblance of impartiality in the process, Biden, and a number of other Democrats, engaged in a smear campaign against her.

The former vice president never actually spelled out his specific criticisms of DeVos’s proposal. In a sycophantic 2017 Teen Vogue interview, in which Biden offered a number of rambling platitudes regarding sexual assault, he argued that DeVos is incentivizing assaults by proposing that colleges live by the traditional criteria of fairness. “Let me tell you,” he said, “it bothers me most if Secretary DeVos is going to really dumb down Title IX enforcement. The real message, the real frightening message you’re going to send out is, our culture says it’s OK.”

Arguing that unprejudiced hearings (and I’m still not sure why these cases aren’t adjudicated in civil and criminal court) are a tacit approval of rape is repulsive. Even worse: We now know Biden believes that allegations against him should be evaluated using the precise principles that he would deny others.

7. Alexandra DeSanctis outs CBS correspondent Kate Smith as a de facto ambassador from Planned Parenthood. From the article:

But if you believe that’s what CBS is doing in employing Smith, you’d be wrong. Kate Smith is not a reporter at all. She is an advocate for abortion rights who exploits her perch at CBS to disguise as fact the opinions of the country’s most radical abortion-rights activists. She is Planned Parenthood’s ambassador to CBS, posing as a reporter and constructing articles that more closely resemble press releases for the nation’s most powerful abortion-rights advocacy groups. She has traded her objectivity for access to these organizations, offering them the kid-glove treatment so they will permit her to be the first to publicize their PR campaigns, interview their leaders, and scoop their briefs in court cases.

Let’s review Smith’s most recent work, starting with her verbal virtuosity. She tends to hide her liberal beliefs about abortion in devious language, referring to herself, for instance, as a reporter covering “abortion access” — a euphemism wielded exclusively by the most vigorous activists for unlimited legal abortion.

Earlier this month, she was the first to report that a “coalition of abortion rights groups” had responded to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of Texas’s COVID-19 abortion restrictions. Her article noted that Texas was restricting “abortion access” and exclusively quoted pro-abortion activists, one from the Center for Reproductive Rights and one from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

8. More MSM Bias: Jack Butler examines CNN’s footsy act with Red China. From the piece:

The most brazen such efforts belong to the Chinese Communist Party, which is now reinterpreting recent events to exploit the outbreak that its own actions and inactions caused. One would think that, CNN — a news organization that declares itself fond of speaking truth to power, that likes to declare that an apple is an apple — would block the CCP’s attempts to rewrite recent history.

But one would be mistaken. In a CNN “analysis,” James Griffiths admits that China’s leaders “have not been blind to the opportunity” that coronavirus presents to flaunt the supposed superiority of their own political model. Yet Griffiths then proceeds to toe the Beijing line on China’s handling of the coronavirus, America’s efforts, and the global implications of both. It’s propaganda thinly disguised as reporting.

Griffith’s most egregious propagandizing concerns the Chinese government itself, which deserves most of the blame for the spread of COVID-19. Griffiths seems eager to whitewash that government’s conduct and undercut its critics’ valid concerns. It is “debatable how communist modern China actually is,” Griffiths offers. That may technically be true — China is no longer taking Great Leaps Forward, to be sure. But its political apparatus remains oppressive enough to send hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs, a disfavored minority, to concentration camps. And, directly bearing on the crisis at hand, China engaged in typical totalitarian behavior by suppressing early knowledge of the infection’s spread. By imprisoning whistleblowers, it delayed public awareness of the virus’s spread by several weeks (something it had done before, in the 2003 SARS outbreak).

9. Consequence Envy: Poor Max Boot, haunted by the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly, his new bête noire. John Hirschauer has the back of the late conservative who bested the ERA. From the piece:

That Boot roundly mocks Schlafly for making such “incendiary” claims leads one to wonder where she got these “far-fetched” ideas about the ERA. Did Schlafly — whom Boot taunted for her “lack of legal knowledge” — misunderstand future Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1977 report Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, in which Ginsburg claimed that the Equal Rights Amendment would require that all special alimony provisions for women and wives be “eliminated” from the federal code, and argued that “all alimony and support provisions should be recast in sex-neutral language”? What does Boot — with his apparently superior “legal knowledge” — think that Ginsburg meant by this remark?

Similarly, where could Schlafly have gotten her “incendiary” and “far-fetched” notion that women might be conscripted into the military with the passage of ERA? Did she misapprehend feminist Betty Freidan when she told Schlafly in a debate that “there isn’t any reason women should be exempt on the basis of sex” from the draft? If so, what does Boot think Freidan meant by this remark?

RELATED: Boot pulled out the Nerf gun and unloaded at John on Twitter. John returned fire, here.

10. Stanley Kurtz documents the failure that is Common Core and asks — now what? From the piece:

With six years of data subsequent to full implementation now available, the failure of Common Core can at last be decisively documented. That is precisely what Boston’s Pioneer Institute has done, in a just-released white paper by influential educator and Common Core critic, Theodor Rebarber. The title of Pioneer’s report says it all: “The Common Core Debacle.”

With trenchant analysis, buttressed by powerful, easy-to-read graphics, Rebarber shows that since the advent of Common Core, slow but steady yearly gains in math and reading have been turned into sustained national declines in student achievement. In other words, whereas America’s reading and math scores had once been headed up, Common Core has brought them down. What’s worse, declines in test scores have been sharpest for the bottom half of the student population. The whole point of Common Core was to strengthen the performance of low-achieving students relative to the top-of-the-pack. So Common Core has actually hurt the students it was most intended to help.

While Rebarber is focused on national-level results, he also homes in on some particularly revealing data from the states. Kentucky fully implemented Common Core three years ahead of most other states, yet it continues to register declines in reading and math. That means prospects for a turnaround in other states in the coming years are dim.

11. Victor Davis Hanson looks at existential efforts in American history and compares them to “Our Corona Project.” From the essay:

NASA’s various space programs probably have cost far more than the often cited $1 trillion price. But going to the moon likely more than paid for itself in a variety of ways — in spin-off industries, new technologies, invaluable scientific data, and the emergence of a new sense of increased national prestige.

Critics of the F-35 joint-strike fighter claim that it will cost in toto over $1.5 trillion in all related costs during its lifespan. We have no idea how they can come up with that number, only that the plane is far more expensive than what was initially promised. The interstate highway system’s first phases probably cost around $500 billion in today’s money — and saved hundreds of thousands of lives in its first few years.

World War II, aside from well over 400,00 American dead and the resulting generations of disability and mental-health issues, cost the U.S. in modern currency over $4 trillion, despite turning a lingering Depression-era economy into a global juggernaut. No doubt the actual related expense was trillions of dollars higher.

Few have accurate figures on recent optional wars. But general estimates put the 19-year-long Afghanistan war at $2 trillion, and the 2003-08 active war in Iraq at another $2 trillion — with more than 7,000 American deaths in action or related to both wars.

12. Kevorkian Redux. Another Harsanyi beaut — here he bemoans Joe Biden’s health-care guru, the unsettling Ezekiel Emanuel. From the analysis:

I suspect that if one of Trump’s advisers on coronavirus had once taken to the august pages of The Atlantic to reason that men who reach the age of 75 are useless to society, the press would be vigorously exploring and amplifying his position. Reporters have rarely bothered to bring it up with Emanuel, who is constantly on TV — or with Biden, who is now “sheltered in place” and trying to prolong his life.

It’s quite simple: Does Emanuel believe that Biden, aged 78 on Inauguration Day, is faltering or declining, or in a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived? Does Emanuel consider Biden to have been robbed of his ability to contribute to work, society, and the world? Does he believe that Biden will now be remembered as feeble, ineffectual, and even pathetic? Is Biden’s creativity, originality, and productivity pretty much gone? Surely a younger person, according to Emanuel’s own societal prescription, would be better prepared for the job.

While some of us believe age is catching up to Biden — time waits for no one, etc. — we still believe his life is more than political aspirations. Does Emanuel?

In his essay, Biden’s high-achieving adviser, one of the architects of Obamacare, judges the value of a life by the number of books a person can write or the number of technocratic laws they can help pass or the number of times they can climb Kilimanjaro. Did you know that the average age that Nobel Prize–winning physicists make their great discoveries is 48? Really, after that our feeble minds are “constricting of our ambitions and expectations.”

13. David Bahnsen kicks the idiotic AOC/Warren idea to ban mergers and acquisitions right in the choppers. From the analysis:

It is worth remembering that acquisitions cannot be closed without two signatures — that of the buyer, and that of the seller. To the extent that a would-be seller does not believe it is in his or her best interests to sell, a “predatory” buyer will not be able to close the deal. The principle of free exchange is still at play, as it was before COVID and will be after COVID. Now, of course, Warren and AOC may very well argue that some beleaguered companies are so bruised from the economic turndown that they lack the ability to act on what is in their best interests, particularly over the longer term. Nevertheless, the arrogance implicit in the assumption that a representative and a senator are more qualified to assess risk and reward than the principals of a business whose net worth and income are actually at stake is staggering. In fact, the cut-off from opportunistic capital for companies experiencing cash flow or strategic challenges may very well be their death warrant. The law that is supposedly designed to protect them may ensure their destruction — a destruction that trickles down to their employees, vendors, counter-parties, creditors, and shareholders.

What happens if an opportunistic buyer is legally banned from taking an equity position in a distressed company? They will move up the capital structure to an infusion of debt. Is that the result Warren and AOC are seeking — the piling on of more (and presumably expensive) debt on companies that are already struggling? Why would that be a better result for the “little guy” than a voluntary strategic equity transaction?

The unintended consequences of this bill would either be (a) more business failures, meaning more debt defaults, unemployment, and contagion effects throughout that company’s vendor network, or (b) the additional leveraging of companies that are already in distress with an almost inevitably negative effect on their future growth, and with that their ability to increase wages and hire more workers.

14. Matthew Henderson argues that the U.K. should walk away from the Huawei / 5G deal. From the piece:

Britain is the only Five Eyes partner to permit a role for Huawei in its 5G system. The others regard Huawei involvement as a serious threat to national security. The British government’s decision, taken in January, to admit Huawei came after years of intense debate at home and abroad. Britain’s allies now look on in alarm as a pillar of NATO and the rules-based international order takes a course that will likely undermine the security of its data — and of data shared by others.

The British public’s concern is shared by growing numbers of U.K. politicians. In early March, backbench MPs from the ruling Conservative Party staged a rebellion over Huawei, against their own government. More MPs have since rallied to the cause. Earlier this month, a new parliamentary group was established to review U.K.–China relations. It is led by Tom Tugendhat, an MP known for trenchant criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Despite all of this, however, there is still no sign that the prime minister will change his mind on Huawei. On April 21, the top-ranking official in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that “the government has made a firm decision to allow Huawei to have a role” and that, as far as he knew, the decision was “not being reopened.” If the official is right, unwelcome repercussions are inevitable. The American government has made its concerns plain; Australia, likewise. Kidnap diplomacy” practiced against Canada shows how aggressively the CCP guards Huawei, a key strategic asset. (Beijing has accused two Canadian officials of espionage and detained them as hostages in China, in retaliation for Ottawa’s support for the extradition, from Canada to the U.S., of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arraigned for the company’s violation of sanctions against Iran.) Britain’s capacity to resist revisionist challenges to the rules-based international order would be constrained.

15. James Robbins revisits the Iran Deal and suggests an end to it all. From the beginning of the analysis:

Is the United States still a participant in the Iran nuclear deal? Well, yes and no.

The U.S. is seeking to maintain an international conventional-arms embargo on Iran that’s set to expire in October. The embargo was included in the enabling resolutions that the United Nations Security Council passed as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. Its restrictions on small-arms sales to Iran expire this year, with its ban on the sale of missile parts and other weapons extending another three years.

The State Department is promoting a new Security Council resolution that would extend the embargo indefinitely, which is certain to face opposition from Russia or China, both of whom have veto power. It would be smarter to simply activate the “snapback” mechanism in the JCPOA, restoring the entire pre-agreement U.N. sanctions regime and killing the deal for good.

Critics might object that President Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA two years ago, so Washington has no standing to engage its snapback provision. But it’s not that simple.

16. Brian Allen has a thing or three to say about how the National Endowment of the Arts is spending its $75 million in Coronavirus relief. From the piece:

The elegant Dr. Birx and the new geriatric pop star Dr. Fauci admit that quarantining an entire country and crashing a world economy to fight a virus have never been tried before. That in itself is a big red flag. NEA’s $50,000-a-pop plan doesn’t begin to address the uncharted territory museums face.

I think museums are doing what they can to take care of their people. That said, a museum shouldn’t keep an army of guards or visitor-amenities staff on the payroll if there are no visitors and museums are closed. That’s an abuse of the philanthropy that pays a museum’s bills. The Met was very nice to protect its people for a few weeks on its own dime, but it’s got a big deficit to close. Unemployment insurance exists to help people who are laid off. If they’re upset, their beef isn’t with the museums. It’s with the knuckleheads who closed the economy in the most reckless adventure since we went all guns blazing in search of those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The Payroll Protection Plan is the oddest program. The leaders of Congress — a big red flag, as Art certainly told me more than once that politicians are sleazy — conceived and passed this $358 billion program in about the same amount of time it takes to make a good osso buco — another big red flag.

Museums are getting PPP money. San Francisco’s MoMA got $6.2 million. That’ll keep its staff on the payroll until June 30. That money is meant for small businesses, and SF MoMa isn’t a small business, but it’s a sloppy law, and the museum is entitled to the money.

17. Kevin Williamson catches Waco. He knows it intimately. From the review.

The Branch Davidian story is shocking, and it has not lost its power to alarm. For those who do not remember the 1990s (which are turning out to be a decade of our history almost as fiercely contested as the 1960s), the events depicted must seem both unlikely and grotesque: an ATF publicity stunt that turned into a bloodbath, a siege, and, finally, a horrifying fire that took the lives of 76 people trapped inside the compound, including 25 children and two pregnant women.

I was present as a young student journalist for some of that drama, although, as was true for most of the media there, what I saw was mostly other media, a fantastical display of lights out in the otherwise dark countryside, a scene having the atmosphere of a kind of grim county fair. A couple of photographers with whom I worked at the University of Texas newspaper were detained by authorities for crossing the police cordon in pursuit of a better shot. (The photographers from my college newspaper staff, a rowdy but gifted bunch, went on to collectively earn four Pulitzer prizes in photography their first few years out of college.) It was a little like an NFL game: You want to be there in person, but you really get a better view on television.

It was, above all, confusing. The confusion is with us, still.

18. Armond White checks out the Jean-Luc Godard interview. From the beginning of the reflection:

In the absence of proper new movie openings, Jean-Luc Godard’s Instagram interview by Swiss filmmaker Lionel Baier, who heads the cinema department at the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland, momentarily revives movie culture. This almost-two-hour interview has lit up the Internet.

Godard talks us through film culture’s now-paralyzed state: Owing to social-distancing shutdowns and distributors’ frozen release schedules (not just in the U.S. but across the globe), cinema is no longer a communal art. The unavoidable capitulation to television and digital streaming means we’re drifting further away from movie aesthetics and film history. The all-important spatial dimensions of bringing the world — especially the human face — intimately close are being lost, and so is the idea of larger-than-life discovery.

The Fortnight Has Arrived, Bringing with It the New Edition of America’s Leading Conservative Magazine

As is the custom in these here parts, we share four examples of brilliance from the May 18, 2020, issue of National Review. If you are allergic to thrills, be careful in how you proceed.

1. Hey, when your lead essay is Andrew Roberts on the necessity of teaching Western Civilization, you’ve got a humdinger of an issue. From the essay:

Mention of the Alhambra in Granada prompts the thought that any course in Western civilization worth its name ought also to include the Umayyad Caliphate, of which Córdoba  in modern-day Spain was the capital between 756 and 929. In the wake of the conquest of Spain and the establishment of the Muslim confederacy of Al-Andalus, Córdoba  became a flourishing, polyglot, multicultural environment in which religious tolerance, despite Jews’ and Christians’ being obliged to pay a supplementary tax to the state, produced an atmosphere of intellectual progressiveness that made it one of the most important cities in the world. Discoveries in trigonometry, pharmacology, astronomy, and surgery can all be traced to Córdoba. At a certain point, then, a very particular set of historical circumstances produced an equally particular set of intellectual ideas, which had significant material consequences. The study of Western civilization is therefore emphatically not solely that of Christian DWEMs.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson led Stanford students in the chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” The protests attracted national headlines and inspired a television debate between the university’s president and William Bennett, then secretary of education. Bill King, the president of the Stanford Black Student Union, claimed at that time, “By focusing these ideas on all of us they are crushing the psyche of those others to whom Locke, Hume, and Plato are not speaking. . . . The Western culture program as it is presently structured around a core list and an outdated philosophy of the West being Greece, Europe, and Euro-America is wrong, and worse, it hurts people mentally and emotionally.” He presented no actual evidence that reading Locke, Hume, or Plato has ever hurt anyone mentally or emotionally, and that was of course decades before the snowflake generation could proclaim themselves offended by the “micro-aggression” of a raised eyebrow.