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Up a Lazy River, How Happy We Will Be

Dear Weekend Jolters,

Not too far down, this missive is aburst with intellectual links and stimulating goodies that will leave your conservative heart-cockles warmed and aglow.

Interested in getting that same result, but greatly intensified, and prolonged? In a setting of luxury and camaraderie? Surround by a contingent of wonderful people, smart and fun and friendly? Wine and beer included?!

Yes, you say? Tremendous! And then there are also castles and cathedrals and walled cities and locks and vineyards and a boatload (literally!) of intellectual discussion.

OK, you already said yes. This is all very real, and all going to happen in April 2020 on the National Review Rhine River Conservative Cruise. There are still a few cabins available on the glorious AMA Waterways AmaMora, chartered for an NR-only experience and sailing April 19–26 from Basel to Amsterdam. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 140 lucky few — why shouldn’t that include you? It should! How happy you will be!! Contemplate the thrill of sailing up that glorious, historic, and lazy river while listening to the Mills Brothers and Dean croon, and find out how to make that happen at nrcruise.com.

Now, let’s get a-jolting!

Editorials

1. The president’s impeachment defense isn’t working. From the editorial:

True to his smash-mouth style, honed in years of litigation and tabloid wars in New York City, Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong, in fact that his call with Ukrainian president Zelensky was “perfect.” His most loyal allies have taken up this line, and supporters wearing “read the transcript” T-shirts have been arrayed behind Trump at his rallies.

The problem with this defense on the merits is that the call wasn’t perfect. It was so clearly inappropriate that most of the professionals listening in real time were alarmed. The problem as a practical political matter is that maintaining the “perfect” line allows the president’s critics to score easy points every time another insider emerges to say he was disturbed by the call.

Meanwhile, Republicans have leaned heavily on the “no quid pro quo” argument that quickly emerged after the rough transcript of the call was released. The call doesn’t include an explicit quid pro quo, but it is suggestive of one, certainly combined with the unexplained withholding of defense aid to Ukraine. Here, too, more and more evidence has emerged — EU ambassador Gordon Sondland’s revised testimony is the latest example — that the aid package was conditioned on Ukraine’s committing to investigations that Trump wanted.

Overall, the White House and Republicans have been violating the first rule of a good defense counsel, which is not to deny things that are undeniable. It erodes your credibility and makes it harder to mount a better defense on other grounds.

Celebrate Rick Brookhiser’s Give Me Liberty . . .

. . . by listening to the amazing, 13-part podcast series, featuring Rick and Luke Thompson (and in one episode, the great Jay Nordlinger), that NRO has created. You’ll find a description of it all here. You’ll find the series’ home page here. And click on the following link if you have been a bad boy or girl who has yet to purchase a copy of Rick’s acclaimed new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea.

If You Don’t Check Out These Fourteen Exceptional Pieces, I Will Be Sent to Bed without Supper. So Please Click and Read.

1. Rick isn’t the only one celebrating a new book this week: So is Rich Lowry, whose The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free is getting much and deserved attention. He shares one of its themes: that America’s national book is The Bible. From the piece:

The English became a Bible-soaked people. The availability of the Bible and the emphasis on it for direct access to the word of God put a premium on literacy, and England became a highly literate society by the standards of the day. The act of reading the Bible impressed on people their own dignity, a revolutionary spark that wouldn’t be extinguished. They were also exposed to the Old Testament notions of nationality and a chosen people, which came to have such a central role in English and American history.

On our shores, the Geneva Bible favored by Calvinists initially dominated (a version of it is sometimes referred to as the “breeches” Bible for its strikingly modest version of the story of Adam and Eve, who, having discovered their nakedness, “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves breeches”).

The first copy of the King James Bible may have been brought over by the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower. This translation won out and came to occupy an unparalleled place in the culture. Families often didn’t own any other book. It would be passed down in wills.

As the historian David D. Hall writes, “no book was read more often or in so many different ways: privately in silence, aloud in households where reading may sometimes have proceeded ‘in course’ through the Old and New Testaments, and in church services as the text for Sunday sermons.”

It wasn’t until the Revolution that the Bible could be legally published in America, and the floodgates opened to an insatiable market. By around 1800, the traveling Bible salesman and author Parson Weems (he gave us the story of George Washington and the cherry tree) could boast to his publisher of all the editions he was moving: “I tell you, this is the very season and age of the Bible. Bible Dictionaries, Bible tales, Bible stories — Bibles plain or paraphrased, Carey’s Bibles, Collins’ Bibles, Clarke’s Bibles, Kimptor’s Bibles, no matter what or whose, all, all will go down, so wide is the crater of public appetite at this time.”

2. More Nationalism: Michael Auslin reviews Colin Dueck’s Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism, and finds it a serious attempt to explain America’s post-9/11, Trump-saturated foreign policy. From the review:

Conservative nationalism, on Dueck’s view, can be traced back to the founding of the Republic. Far from a quixotic attempt to isolate America from the world around it, conservative nationalism aimed at protecting the infant country’s sovereignty while encouraging republicanism abroad, in line with American ideology. In this approach, Dueck modifies Robert Kagan’s thesis in Dangerous Nation, which argued that the ideological mission trumped a prudent focus on limitations to the American role abroad. Yet Dueck also differs from Walter McDougall, who in Promised Land, Crusader State argues that 1898 and the beginning of the American imperial moment marked the definitive break with traditional U.S. foreign policy. Dueck rather sees the change coming two decades later, with our entry into World War I and the emergence of a Wilsonian liberal internationalism that soon became the dominant foreign-policy orientation of 20th- and early-21st-century America.

There has been, however, no single Republican response to liberal internationalism. Dueck identifies three strands of the larger GOP foreign-policy tradition: noninterventionists, conservative internationalists, and hardline unilateralists. Mapping these varieties onto today’s conservatives would roughly equate the noninterventionists with the isolationist “paleocons” of the John Mearsheimer variety; conservative internationalists with the free-trade, nation-building “neocons” that ostensibly dominated the George W. Bush administration; and the hardline unilateralists with Trump. Age of Iron therefore contextualizes Trump’s differences not merely from Democrats, but from much of the Republican party, as well.

The core chapters of Age of Iron trace the history of Republican foreign policy from Teddy Roosevelt through Trump. Most of these decades Dueck characterizes as the “global versus national” approach, as successive Republican presidents and party leaders reacted to Democratic policies, especially those of FDR and Truman, and also to America’s dramatically changed position in the world after 1917 and especially 1945.

3. For all the know-it-alls, a true know-it-all, Andy McCarthy, reminds us that impeachment is unpredictable. From the article:

At this juncture, articles of impeachment based on the Ukraine scenario appear certain. There will be at least one charge of abusing the president’s foreign-relations power by encouraging a foreign government to investigate American citizens (the Bidens) for violations of the foreign government’s laws. A second article will likely allege that the president engaged in that abuse of power to further another one — specifically, to have the 2020 election influenced by the foreign power. Perhaps there will be an allegation that the president “extorted“ Ukraine, or in effect sought a “bribe,” by withholding vital defense aid to squeeze Kyiv into probing the Bidens. Almost certainly, there will be a charge of obstructing Congress’s investigation — for Democrats, it will be more effective to impeach Trump for failing to turn the over scads of information they will demand than to fight the president’s privilege claims in court, where Democrats could lose.

If the articles of impeachment are as just outlined, they would not move Senate Republicans toward removal. This is big wind, no rain. No matter what the president may have contemplated, nothing terrible actually happened. The Ukrainians got their aid. They did not have to commit to investigating the Bidens. And if this escapade has any discernible effect on the 2020 election, it will likely be to Trump’s detriment, not the Democrats’. Sure, Joe Biden’s candidacy takes a hit, but that was going to happen anyway — which is why Democrats have not shied from an impeachment push in which, inevitably, the former vice president becomes collateral damage.

But then again, we don’t know if this is all there is.

Democrats had their whistleblower held in reserve for a while before they decided it was time to pounce. Are they holding anything else? And whether they’re holding it or not, is there anything else? As we’ve seen, Trump is unorthodox (how’s that for euphemism?). His irregular behavior does not have to be materially damaging for Democrats and the press to portray it as the end of the Republic as we know it (see, e.g., Collusion, Russia).

4. David Harsanyi mocks the liberal media’s convenient love of things so-called. From the Corner post:

Not long after federal court in Manhattan blocked an HHS rule allowing doctors to refuse to perform abortions, assisted suicides, and other procedures for religious reasons, reporters began engaging in deft-defying acts of rhetorical deception.

It’s been long insinuated that concerns over religious freedom are merely elaborate schemes cooked up by bigots and misogynists. One of the ways journalists like to intimate bad faith is by placing quotation marks around perfectly factual phrases like “religious freedom” or “conscience.”

Now, it’d be another story if there were comparable journalistic standards for the usage of “gun safety” or “pro-choice,” or any of the thousands of debatable labels that have been appropriated for partisan purposes, but there aren’t. It is a standard almost exclusively deployed for “controversial” topics — which, loosely translated, means “conservative positions.”

Take, for example, this NPR headline: “Judge Scraps ‘Conscience’ Rule Protecting Doctors Who Deny Care For Religious Reasons.” If we’re handing out quotation marks why doesn’t the word “care” get them, as well? One, after all, could convincingly argue that a doctor whose “conscience” tells him to avoid harming other human beings is engaging in the very definition of the Hippocratic ideal.

RELATED: Charlie Cooke weighs in.

5. More Harsanyi: He goes after the bogus religious tolerance of Pete Buttigieg, alleged saint and POTUS wannabe. From the piece:

Take this recent interview with Adam Wren, in which Buttigieg was asked how “he would approach religious freedom broadly.”

“The touchstone has to be the idea that religious freedom, like other freedom, is constrained when it becomes a rationale for doing harm,” Buttigieg begins. “So when we talk about freedom of speech, that does not mean you can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Let’s just stop here and note for the record that you can shout “fire” in a crowded theater. This infuriating analogy — issued by Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by untold thousands of censorship apologists — was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in our history.

The unanimous Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw a bunch of socialists, some of whom had fled czarist oppression, into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. The alleged “harm” of these anti-war activists — who were, in every sense, exercising legitimate political expression — was undermining recruitment efforts for World War I.

Even if, like me, you believe that most socialists would gladly throw you in prison if they got the chance, you may also realize that a truly free society doesn’t “constrain” dissent as a matter of ideological preference.

Does Buttigieg? He wants you to know that, like freedom of speech, religious freedom is really about protecting the minorities he likes. Buttigieg went on to inform Wren that “the original doctrines and federal legislative law go back to, I think, substances in rituals among Native Americans says [sic] about freedom to undertake religious practice.”

6. Robert VerBruggen looks at the data on low-skilled / unmarried men and sees important causes, but concludes that society isn’t going to rectify them. From the analysis:

We’re nearly a year out from That One Tucker Carlson Rant: the one where he talked at length about how the American economy had left behind low-skilled men and how that was ruining their chances at marriage. There was a lot of truth in this theory, as evidenced by the decline of the manufacturing sector, slow wage growth for the less educated, and growing numbers of men opting out of the labor force entirely, not to mention studies showing that women really do prize breadwinning in their mates.

But a new academic paper, from University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate Ariel J. Binder, asks us to remember that causation can run in the opposite direction too: The decline of low-skilled men’s marriage prospects could cause them to stop pursuing work. Binder shows this by looking at two major social changes that made low-skilled men less important as breadwinners. Combined, these shifts could explain 28 percent of the ten-point decline in the labor-force participation of young, non-college-educated men between 1965 and 2015.

Carlson said that “male wages declined” and added that “when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.” Binder adds that even when men have a decent job, many women aren’t interested in them. And “when work is less likely to win a desirable marriage contract, why bother?”

7. Don’t let the door hit you in the . . . Jim Geraghty says gedowdaheer to Beto. From the analysis:

Last year I wrote that “the endless glowing profiles of O’Rourke in every publication from Vanity Fair to Spin to Rolling Stone to Town & Country represent the national media’s worsening challenge in differentiating between what it wants to see happen and what is actually happening.” Left-leaning writers and editors and producers across the country desperately wanted to see a Democrat who could win in Texas and convinced themselves that O’Rourke was that guy. To his credit, he came closer than any other Democrat has in a generation. That is still about 215,000 votes short.

What was striking about all of those 2018 profiles was how . . . surface-oriented they were, regularly mentioning O’Rourke’s old punk rock band, the skateboarding, the casual profanity which was inevitably interpreted as some sort of authenticity, the descriptions of his sweat, the inevitable reference to his Kennedy-esque looks and absence of any mention of his Kennedy-esque driving record. The tone and style of the profiles of O’Rourke weren’t all that different from the profiles of actors, musicians, and directors in Vanity Fair, GQ, and other celebrity magazines — a lot of personality and anecdotes and perfectly cinematic photo shoots. You could read for pages with little mention of anything O’Rourke had done in Congress, because as a member of the minority party, he hadn’t done much. The one race Barack Obama ever lost in his life, a congressional bid against Representative Bobby Rush, the incumbent dismantled the young and ambitious Obama with one devastating question: “Just what’s he done? I mean, what’s he done?” One could fairly put the same question to O’Rourke.

8. More Geraghty: He profiles special prosecutor John Durham, Washington’s least-known / most-important figure. From the article:

By 1991, Durham was leading the prosecution of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra. One of the most notorious gangsters of the era, William “The Wild Guy” Grasso, had been murdered, shot in the back of the neck and his body dumped in a patch of poison ivy by the side of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield. Around the same time, Grasso’s right-hand man, “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, had been shot outside an International House of Pancakes but survived. The FBI and Durham rolled in, convicting seven high-profile mobsters, including boss Nicholas Bianco for 11 years and 5 months in prison for racketeering. The Hartford Courant called Durham “an avenging angel” who had put one third of Connecticut’s mafia in jail and never lost a case. In a six-year period, Durham racked up 119 organized-crime convictions.

Durham’s foes in the courtroom weren’t just the mafia. He won a conviction of William Dodge, leader of the Ku Klux Klan in southern New England, on charges of illegal possession of firearms, silencers, and explosives. During the trial of one of Dodge’s fellow Klansmen, Scott E. Palmer, Durham had a dramatic confrontation with a Roman Catholic priest, the Reverend Mark R. Jette, who had testified that Palmer had reformed his hateful ways. “He is confident Scott Palmer has seen the error of his ways?” Durham asked, according to press accounts. He then presented two drawings Palmer had made in prison. The first was a skull and crossbones with the words, “White Power,” and a note saying, “Kill all the n*****s for Santa Claus.” The other “appeared to be an oval-shaped insignia. At the top was ‘LYNCH MOB’ and at the bottom was ‘WALLINGFORD CT.’ In the middle was a noose and a fiery cross.” The judge found Durham’s presentation of the sketches more compelling than the reverend and sentenced Palmer to the maximum 63 months on federal weapons charges.

Durham and law enforcement rounded up 42 members of the Puerto Rican street gang Los Solidos and put them all away for long sentences with convictions and guilty pleas. The Solidos’ crimes were the kind that could make hard men lay awake at night: In a case of mistaken identity, a group of Solidos mistook a gray Toyota driven a Hartford mechanic for the similar car of a rival gang member in Charter Oak Terrace housing project and opened fire. They shot the mechanic’s seven-year-old daughter, Marcelina Delgado, in the head. Every gang member charged in the murder was sentenced to life in prison.

9. John O’Sullivan says that on Brexit, Boris Johnson really must reach a deal with Nigel Farage. From the analysis:

Boris is enjoying leads in national opinion polls that range from 5 to 12 percent over Labour. That must tempt him to recklessness. But this will not be an election decided by a uniform national “swing” from left to right. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University, our premier psephologist (you’re reading Bill Buckley’s National Review — look it up), predicts that an unprecedented number of voters will cast ballots for neither of the two main parties. That alone will change the outcome in seats that might otherwise fall to a national swing. In addition, dedicated Remainers will be voting tactically in order to defeat the local Tory candidates. Already, an early poll of individual constituencies by Survation shows one Plymouth seat vulnerable to such voting where the Tory candidate, a strong Leaver, has accordingly made overtures to the Brexit party not to put up anyone against her. There will be more such cases in the next six weeks. All of this is playing out before the campaign, with its inevitable thrills and spills, has scarcely started. Boris’s deal, only now getting detailed scrutiny, is plainly open to serious attack as Howe’s article demonstrates. Nigel Farage, who is an effective campaigner, will subject it to merciless criticism around the country.

Vilifying him will not work, since voters know that he is not Jeremy Corbyn but has instead played a massive role in advancing Brexit from the periphery to the center of politics. Propaganda has to have some slight resemblance to the truth. And Farage is popular with the grassroots in both parties. In short, Boris and the Tories cannot take victory for granted. And if they fail to win this election, they will have the Brexit party on their tail more or less indefinitely and not necessarily as a minor party.

The way for Boris to handle both challenges is, oddly enough, by the same policy: reaching an electoral deal with Nigel. To remove one inevitable objection, neither man can be expected to compromise on his central Brexit platform. But that isn’t necessary since what is required is not a common policy platform but an electoral deal. Put simply, the Tories would not put up candidates in the 44 Labour-held seats in which UKIP (the Brexit Party’s predecessor) came second to Labour in the 2015 election. The Brexit party in return would not run candidates against the Tories in a specified number of seats — ranging from the 75 seats where UKIP came second to the Tories in 2015 to — more plausibly — every U.K. seat apart from the agreed 44. The practical advantages of this deal are obvious; the moral justification would be that both parties want to secure Brexit above all but accept also that conservative divisions over the best kind of Brexit should be represented in the House of Commons (and perhaps even on the government benches).

10. Daniel Tenreiro believes Twitter’s case for restrictions on political advertising make no sense. From the analysis:

Even if Twitter enacts its policy neutrally, barring political ads favors incumbents over newcomers and grassroots organizations. Lesser-known politicians and advocacy groups must now turn to television or print advertisements, which are more expensive, or try their luck gaining traction organically. President Trump, whose 66 million followers far outnumber those of any other current politician, will have a perennial messaging advantage over opponents. So will other celebrities with large followings, rendering fame a more potent force in American politics.

Not only does Twitter’s policy increase the premium on celebrity and incumbency, it incentivizes sensationalism. In Trump’s most retweeted post last year, he threatened a nuclear attack against North Korea; naturally, it drew a lot of eyeballs. Without the option to advertise, politicians and advocacy groups are forced into an arms race wherein the most shocking tweets win them followers. This might be why the American Civil Liberties Union has resorted to tweeting bold statements in all caps, repeated as many times as spatial constraints allow (see, e.g., “ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE. ABORTION IS A RIGHT”). For an organization with 100 attorneys on staff, it’s a decidedly reductive messaging tactic. On the other hand, why bother making a nuanced pro-choice argument that will be lost in a sea of similarly boring tweets?

In a New York Times op-ed supporting Twitter’s decision, tech journalist Kara Swisher wrote that “social media platforms have become hostage to all forms of abuse and manipulation, not just via political ads, and they’ve dragged us all with them into the cesspool.” Swisher takes for granted that political advertisements feed into this “cesspool,” but it’s hardly obvious. Before this policy change, Twitter maintained a public list of certified political-candidate and issue advertisers. Users knew which content was sponsored, and who was paying for it. In the case of false or misleading advertisements, watchdogs and fact-checkers could hold the sponsors responsible. The “abuse and manipulation” that Swisher speaks of is largely the result of bots built by foreign actors and unscrupulous news sites that use social media to drive traffic — as well as, let’s face it, well-meaning American citizens unaffiliated with political-action committees. In contrast to the cesspool of anonymous accounts sharing fake news, political advertisements are an oasis of transparency. At a time when shady elements have allegedly hijacked social media, should we really be targeting the Gates Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the National Parks Action Fund?

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty mocks the centrist elite and their contrived obituary-writing about the old liberal order. From the piece:

When I’m done ruminating on the depredations of the “deep state,” sometimes I wonder if there’s a dark room somewhere in which graduates from the Kennedy School of Government and the PPE programs of Oxford and Cambridge are programming bots and producing viral news sites to spread their messages across social media. From this den they amplify the voices of their resolutely centrist, establishment-oriented collaborators, creating an alternate reality.

In this reality, Brexit is already a disaster. Hungary and Poland are places of severe political repression. Donald Trump is subverting the Constitution and running a pro-Russia foreign policy. America has withdrawn from the world stage, having given up on global leadership. Angela Merkel is the “leader of the free world and the only one trying to save the seven-decade-long liberal world order that is rapidly collapsing. The message is that there’s too much change and it’s terrifying.

Commentators have been building this picture for a long time. Bret Stephens wrote a book in 2014 titled America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. Stephens was mostly concerned with the rhetorical momentum that advocates of foreign-policy restraint had made in recent years. He could not really cite anywhere on earth that the United States military had actually stopped occupying. The great sin of the time wasn’t that President Obama had refused to intervene in Syria — U.S. Special Forces had been supporting various Sunni militias there since 2012 — but that he hadn’t intervened forcefully enough. The war in Afghanistan was only 13 years old, rather than 18, then. Simpler times.

12. Pointless! Wasteful! Sexist! Madeline Kearns flushes away the idiocy of gender-neutral bathrooms. From the article:

Polling consistently shows that most Americans care most about bread and peace. They do not generally give much thought to potty policies. And so, making such a policy a priority in a political campaign is likely to come across as out of touch and self-regarding — a fact the Democrats learned a little too late in 2016.

Nevertheless, many in the metropolitan elites like to accuse the Trump administration of having targeted transgender people. By reversing Obama-era policies, they say, Trump & Co. have robbed trans people of safe and pleasant bathroom experiences. But isn’t anyone curious how it all worked before Obama? And why is no one complaining about the various presidents before Trump who held the same approach to sex-segregated bathrooms?

What’s more, it’s not like presenting as the opposite sex is particularly new human behavior. Since the 1960s, a tiny number of individuals have even made a serious surgical commitment in more closely resembling the opposite sex. Life was, and no doubt is, difficult for such people. But how might this ideally play out? That is context-dependent, naturally. But if, for argument’s sake, we presume such a person to be sincere and well-meaning — as opposed to, say, a predator — then a natural relationship of trust might ensue. One where a woman washing her hands at the bathroom sink might do a double-take, realizing that she is in the presence of a man, but after carrying out an instinctual and internal risk assessment, decide all is fine. She might even smile and say hello.

But that is her prerogative, surely. The man in this rare hypothetical ought not to have a legal right to be there.

Moreover, if his legal right to be there trumps her right to privacy, then no allowance is made for the fact that, while some men presenting as women are benign and sincere, others are malign and predatorial. Wouldn’t the woman, then, be justified in feeling unsafe?

Many accept that she would. Which is why “gender-neutral” restrooms were introduced as an attempt at a compromise. Instead of people using whichever restroom they felt corresponded with their “gender identity,” it seemed more reasonable to have all gender-neutral bathrooms for everyone (including “non-binary” people). But is this reasonable?

13. Armond White sees the woke making a joke of slavery in Kasi Lemmon’s Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo as the famous fugitive. From the review:

These sentimental, actorly ploys recall the fact that Lemmons switched from a career as an actress (Silence of the Lambs) to indie director, for a better chance at success. Her films — Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me, and now Harriet — exemplify black striver’s syndrome. They are not culturally grounded so much as they show a hustler’s desperation, using race anxiety for success — the commercial and electoral formula that Obama made popular.

Actress Lemmons’s best performance was in Rusty Cundieff’s brilliant 1993 satire Fear of a Black Hat, in which she played a clueless journalist bent on exploiting hip-hop for nominal black triumph and, above all, her own egotistic ends. As in that tirade against Douglass, Harriet adds #MeToo feminism to Tubman’s puzzlement about her mission in life.

This Tubman bio-pic, with its trite, fashionable historical revision (bits of Hamilton, including actor Leslie Odom Jr.), is part of the plan to propel the tiny dynamo Erivo into movie stardom. Erivo’s eager-beaver energy and wild-eyed intensity epitomize unpleasant aggression rather than the strength of character that Cicely Tyson conveyed when she portrayed Tubman in the 1978 TV movie A Woman Called Moses.

In Harriet, Millennial hindsight and historical revision come off as pompous and patronizing.

14. Victor Davis Hanson finds the parameters of the Trump Doctrine as deterrence without intervention. From the essay:

But the problem with American policy after the Cold War and the end of the Soviet nuclear threat was that the U.S. was not really comfortable as an imperial global watchdog, we no longer had a near monopoly on the world economy that subsidized these expensive interventions, and many of these thugs did not necessarily pose a direct threat to American interests — perhaps ISIS, an oil-rich Middle East dictator, and radical Islamists excepted. What started as a quick, successful take-out of a monster sometimes ended up as a long-drawn out “occupation” in which all U.S. assets of firepower, mobility, and air support were nullified in the dismal street fighting of a Fallujah or a Mogadishu.

The bad guys were bothersome and even on occasion genocidal, and their removal sometimes improved the lot of those of the ground — but not always. When things got messy — such as in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Somalia — it was not clear whether the American use of force resulted in tactical success leading to strategic advantage. Often preemptive insertion of troops either did not further U.S. deterrence or actually undermined it — as in the case of the “Arab Spring” bombing in Libya.

At home, in a consistent pattern, the most vociferous advocates of preemptory war usually claimed prescient brilliance, as when the American military rapidly dislodged the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. But then came the occupation and post-war anarchy. As American dead mounted, the mission mysteriously creeped into nation-building. Sometimes, in the post-invasion chaos, the once noble liberated victims became the opportunistic victimizers. Depressed, some of the original architects of preemption blamed those who had listened to them. The establishment’s calling card became, “My weeks-long brilliant theoretical preemption was ruined by your actual botched decade-long occupation.” In extremis, few kept their support; most abandoned it.

Last Call! The Webathon Shuts Down on Sunday

This is not akin to Abraham badgering God over the fate of Sodom. No, not at all. But still, not all badgering is bad. Maybe it should sometimes be called goodgering? OK, that was dumb, but when the cause is just, the need real, the case plausible, there is a need to be, shall we say, repetitious.

And so we have, and we are again, this one last time: Since October 8 we have encouraged our readers — so many hundreds of thousands who eat, drink, sleep NRO, day in and out, year in and out, walking down the hallways clenching their FREE pass, piling on the edibles in the no-charge cafeteria — to help out, just a bit. We have bills big and relentless to pay here, and we have that damned National Review v. Mann case we are fighting on behalf of the First Amendment. The piggy bank isn’t even empty, because it was cracked open and plundered of its few coins years ago (how many years ago . . . let’s just say the then-president had the nickname “Ike”), so we ask and hope for reader assistance. Somewhere in the ballpark of 2,500 (a lot of good people, God bless them each and every one . . . but on a percentage basis, geeesh, that’s tiny) have responded, and somewhere in the ballpark of $295,000 has been donated.

Our goal is to raise $325,000. Our goal could, legitimately, be $500,000, or more, given our needs. But the one we have, a stretch, yep, is the matter at hand. Reaching it between today and tomorrow is feasible. If you are part of the feasery. Would you be?

If the answer is yes, then please donate here. It earns you our love and affection (which you have, regardless . . . even if you root for the Red Sox).

The “Education” Issue of NR Is Upon Us, Off the Presses, Hot (the Piping Kind), and Awaiting Your Eyeballs

Shall we share four pieces from the November 25, 2019, issue, two from the special section on education, and two other gems? We shall!

1. How about the cover essay? Kevin Williamson pens a brilliant analysis of Kanye West and his Jesus turn. From the beginning of the essay:

Kanye West is going to embarrass the Christians who have recklessly embraced him as a mascot. That much seems inevitable. But that’s okay: There are worse things than embarrassment, and Kanye West is an embarrassing guy — needy, arrogant, compulsive. His insecurity is as epic as it is perplexing in a man who by all appearances has everything. He is fabulously rich (though not quite as much so as his wife’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, a billionaire at 22), and he is married to a woman who is widely considered (de gustibus, etc.) the great sex symbol of her generation. They seem reasonably happy, and they have four children with goofy celebrity names — North, Chicago, Psalm, and Saint. He sells truckloads of expensive sneakers in collaboration with Adidas and has designed clothes for Louis Vuitton. All that and a measure of artistic respect, too — his musicianship and his verse both are deft and accomplished, widely admired even among those of his peers not well disposed to him. And the people line up behind the critics: Kanye has had four No. 1 hits, 17 in the top ten, and 96 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. He is 42 years old.

And he is kind of a mess.

Until West’s recent foray into MAGA politics and evangelism, what people who are, let us say, outside of the rap-music–reality-show–sneakerhead demographic knew him best for was being married to Kim Kardashian and having been rude to Taylor Swift at an award presentation, making “Imma let you finish” a meme and a catchphrase and leading Barack Obama, who apparently had a lot of spare time on his hands as president, to dismiss West as “a jackass.” It was not the first time West had done something like that, in fact. After losing out at an earlier awards ceremony, he threw a fit, concluding: “If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.” He is not shy about asserting his importance: He titled one album Yeezus (another one, Yandhi, didn’t make it out) and has declared: “I’m unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” Some readers of this magazine will know him mainly for his having stood next to a very uncomfortable-looking Mike Myers at a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina and announcing: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Some of that nonsense is self-conscious marketing, a kind of grandly inflated version of the clickbait economy that keeps the gurgle churning, assembling a hectomillionaire’s fortune a fraction of a penny at a time. And that works: Kanye West’s Life of Pablo went platinum in the United States and gold in the United Kingdom on the strength of streaming alone, the first album to do so.

Maybe it is all part of a grand plan. Or maybe he just says the first thing to come into his head — which, lately, has been: “Jesus Is King.”

2. China expert Chris O’Dea hung with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and shares his views on the ChiComs. From the piece:

Signing a defense agreement between the United States and Greece during a brief ceremony at the Greek foreign ministry on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Athens, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo initiated a new American strategy of contesting China’s mercantilist commercial expansion. While the agreement did not mention China, in geopolitical terms it marks a fundamental challenge to China’s ambitions in Greece, the Mediterranean, and the European Union.

The signing took place just a few miles from the port of Piraeus, which abuts the Greek capital and is the major symbol of China’s mercantile ambitions in the West. Chinese premier Li Keqiang hailed Piraeus as China’s “gateway to Europe” during a visit in 2014. By 2016, COSCO Shipping, owned by the Chinese state, had achieved majority control of the company that operates Piraeus’s port under a concession contract from the Greek government. Under the new accord, the previous requirement for annual renewal of U.S.–Greek defense cooperation is replaced by a commitment to ongoing cooperation, setting the stage for increased utilization of the Souda Bay naval facility on the island of Crete, formalizing operational cooperation and technology transfer related to drones, and, most important, committing the U.S. to participate in developing new naval and air-force facilities at Alexandroupoli, a strategically located port in northeastern Greece.

Pompeo discussed the U.S. strategy to confront Chinese commercial expansion in an exclusive interview with National Review in Athens, shortly after signing the defense pact and delivering a speech to an audience of Greek officials and business leaders in which he criticized China’s “coercive” economic practices.

3. Leading off the education section, Sarah Schutte reflects on the way technology is affecting home-schooling, and the one thing it should never replace (parental involvement!). From the piece:

If you’d like a dictionary definition, Merriam-Webster says that to homeschool is “to teach school subjects to one’s children at home.” But this definition is being challenged, in large part because of new technologies that are making it increasingly simple to create virtual classrooms with endless possibilities.

Connections Academy is one such example. Its virtual programs “are tuition-free online public schools for students in grades K–12,” and its services are available in 29 out of 50 states. It is focused on bringing the classroom to children, giving them access to high-level education while also enabling one-on-one attention between students and their instructors. Because it is a public-school program, it comes at no cost, and it offers ease of use, facilitates parental involvement, and provides a wider community with which to connect, since students from all over the state are engaging with one another daily. Such online K–12 programs are accredited and offer access to college-prep and even college-credit courses. Connections Academy uses a program called “Connexus,” an online platform designed to host classes, schedules, chatrooms, grades, and more. Parents, coaches, teachers, and administrators have access to Connexus along with students, which enables better communication and — since parents can see their children’s grades, lessons, and assignments — greater accountability.

More-traditional forms of homeschooling generally entail parents’ creating their own curriculum, sometimes with the help of programs such as Sonlight, Seton, or St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, my homeschool alma mater. These programs pair parents with an adviser or counselor and often provide detailed lesson plans for high-school-aged students. They do not usually provide instruction, but are rather a support and guide to the teaching parent. Parents take this assistance and use it to create their own schedules and plans, teaching all or at least most subjects themselves. Extracurricular activities abound — despite the pervasive idea that homeschoolers are socially deprived — with many homeschool families forming anything from drama groups to orchestras to speech-and-debate clubs together.

A variety of technological advances are available to such traditional homeschooling families as well, and plenty of homeschoolers make considerable use of them. For example, Connections Academy advertises resources on its website that are specifically aimed at traditional homeschoolers. These are categorized by grade and subject, and include links to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetKids program, Starfall.com (a math-games website for younger children), and Stickfigurehamlet.com (an entire site devoted to telling the story of Hamlet through stick-figure drawings and humor). In my family, a Netflix subscription allows Bob Ross to teach art, YouTube provides hours of explanatory science videos, and Amazon Prime gives access to the joy that is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These sorts of resources also can be useful to families that aren’t able to practice traditional homeschooling but want to take advantage of certain of its aspects.

4. Rafi Eis reveals how NYC lefties are engaged in a complete takeover of city schools. From the report:

Two recent developments in New York City’s public schools highlight the perils of current progressive education theory and foretell a radical transformation. The first episode got close to no response from conservative thinkers, and the second received an insufficient one. Just as they do in economics, law, and politics, conservatives need to have theories about the education process. Promoting school choice, the typical conservative approach, is no longer enough. We need alternative theories about how learning occurs and what the purpose of school is.

The first incident was the revelation that the vast majority of students at more than 40 public schools in New York City had received passing report-card grades, but less than a fifth could pass the statewide math and English exams in grades three to eight. In an especially egregious school, every student received a passing grade, but only 7 percent could pass the state English exam. Even though these students, numbering in the thousands, failed the exams, they will matriculate into the next grade. In response to the public outcry over this news, the Department of Education spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said, “It’s apples and oranges to compare students’ classroom grades over the course of a full school year with their performance on a two-day state exam.” This is nothing less than an argument for invalidating all standardized test results as a measure of learning.

The more famous second development was the recommendation of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) in August 2019 to end programs for gifted students in New York City public schools. To increase racial diversity in gifted programs, SDAG proposed switching to the “schoolwide enrichment” model for gifted students. In this way, the panel claims, gifted programs can be more “inclusive” without causing anyone’s education to suffer. While the schoolwide-enrichment model is not being implemented immediately, Carranza is laying the groundwork to move forward with it. “You can’t point to a specific pedagogy or a specific curriculum,” he said on public radio, complaining that the gifted programs differ across the city. “It’s just faster and more. That can’t be what ‘gifted and talented’ is in the biggest school system in the nation.”

While the SDAG proposal received much more publicity, the policy that allows students to matriculate despite very poor test results will harm many more students. Conservatives are under the impression that the discrepancy between grade level and skill is due to grade inflation and that the attempt to end the gifted programs is based on identity politics. There is some truth in that, but both developments are primarily based on current education theory.

The Six

1. At The Federalist, Ben Weingarten likes what he sees in the Trump Administration’s renewed sense of calling out the ChiComs. From the piece:

At last week’s annual Hudson Institute Herman Kahn Award Gala, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the guest of honor, delivered a poignant and powerful address on the unfolding strategic competition between the United States and China.

In Pompeo’s speech, dubbed “The China Challenge,” he surveyed the history of American willful blindness and consequent folly toward the totalitarian regime, acknowledging that “we accommodated and encouraged China’s rise for decades…even when that rise was at the expense of American values, Western democracy, and security, and good common sense.”

He illustrated the dichotomy whereby the CCP has created a “permanent class of China lobbyists in the United States” that has manipulated U.S. leaders while exerting complete control over the flow of information into its mainland. Therefore, while the CCP’s narrative has flourished here, our counter-narrative has never entered there.

He detailed the harmful consequences for America and the world, in the way of China’s: rampant intellectual property theft; demands that those who transact with it toe the Communist Party line; asymmetric weapons development; threats to international order and commerce on the seas where trillions of dollars in goods flow; “debt trap diplomacy”—or a “loan-to-own” plan to buy power and influence around the world—memorialized by the “Belt and Road Initiative“; coercive acts eroding any semblance of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong; and persecution of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer treats readers to his reflections on C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra.” From the piece:

In the second of the three books of C.S. Lewis’s brilliant Space Trilogy, Perelandra, our beloved Cambridge philologist and hero, Elwin Ransom, travels to Perelandra (Venus) and struggles to prevent a repetition of the Fall in the Garden of Eden as it had happened, tragically, in our world. What might have happened, after all, if either Eve or Adam had resisted the temptations of the devil? What might have happened had there been an advocate for God’s position in the great cosmic struggle for the soul?

“How v. kind of you to send me Mr Groom’s remarks on Perelandra,” Lewis wrote in a private letter. “I am always like other cats glad to be stroked (I take it one shows even more pride by not liking praise than by liking it) but this was specially welcome because that is miles and away my own favourite among my books and has had a very bad reception from reviewers. Despite the preface they all will take it as an ‘allegory’ and then blame me for not making it clear.” The book, it turns out, was one of Lewis’s favorites. “The one I enjoyed writing least was Screwtape: what I enjoyed most was Perelandra–but, you see, it all comes to nothing.”

Lewis loved that Perelandra was both science fiction (though a term not yet employed) and spiritual, reflecting, he thought, some of the greatest works of fantastic speculation ever written. He wanted, very badly, to be a writer in the same vein as Plato, Thomas More, and G.K. Chesterton. More recently, he wanted to emulate his writing hero, David Lindsay. “Voyage to Arcturus is not the parody of Perelandra but its father. It was published, a dead failure, about 25 years ago,” he confided to a friend, the poetess Ruth Pitter. “Now that the author is dead it is suddenly leaping into fame: but I’m one of the old guard who had a treasured second hand copy before anyone had heard of it.”

3. More Birzer, more Imaginative Conservative: Double B gushes over J.R.R. Tolkein’s amazing short story, “Leaf by Niggle.” From the essay:

One very late night or early morning in 1939, J.R.R. Tolkien awoke, a full story ready to burst from his already imaginatively feverish brain. Contrary to his normal hesitation and typical obsessive writing and rewriting, Tolkien’s short story, “Leaf by Niggle” emerged “virtually complete in my head. It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.” If Tolkien had ever toyed with the ideas found in the novel—in terms of setting, character, or plot—he had no recollection of them or of any of it. Like Athena emerging whole out of the head of Zeus, “Leaf by Niggle” simply appeared on paper that very late evening or early morning in 1939, just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. Sometime in 1940, he read the story—presumably to an approving audience—to the Inklings. Again, the story just emerged, and Tolkien never even edited it after his initial copying it down. It was, he remembered fondly, “the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all.”

Tolkien, though, sat on the story until the editor of The Dublin Review, Christopher Dawson, Tolkien’s fellow parishioner at St. Aloysius in Oxford and the famed Catholic man of letters, requested something fictional in October 1944. Though Dawson lost his job as editor a month later due to a power struggle with the publisher, Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” appeared in the January-February-March 1945 issue of The Dublin Review, along with articles on Thomas More, the Roman Empire, England’s Christian tradition, Czechoslovakia, and Augustan literature.

Whatever its origins, “Leaf by Niggle” must rank as one of the finest short stories of the twentieth century, breath-takingly beautiful, even by the highest Tolkienian standards. As with so many of Tolkien’s writings, “Leaf” takes seriously issues of goodness, free will, destiny, subcreation, and eternity.

4. More C.S. Lewis: At The University Bookman, John Tuttle looks into the first volume of his sci-fi trilogy, “Out of the Silent Planet.” From the reflection:

Even Lewis cannot remove himself entirely from the preconceptions that culture had of the Red Planet. The responsibility for this falls primarily on the shoulders of H. G. Wells, whose War of the Worlds was published in full in 1898. Spattered throughout the text of Out of the Silent Planet, the narrator, as well as Mr. Ransom (the protagonist) himself, toy with the idea of the unknown life-forms on this alien earth and reference the Wellsian notion of creatures dark, loathsome, and utterly un-humanoid.

In this first installment of his sci-fi trilogy, however, Lewis does strive for a fresh take on the theme. One way in which he achieves this is by providing imagery of the Martian habitats that form a contrast with a good deal of the literature up to this point. Mars, as modern man’s continual probing advocates, was seen as a sandy, desolate world. Lewis does not deny such locales throughout the Martian landscape, but also throws in splashes of color—oases of abundant life—and a variety of life.

This is Malacandra—the term used by its natives in identifying their world. In this Lewisian fantasy, Malacandra’s geographical realms vary almost as greatly as those on Earth. There are woods, fields, lakes, mountains, and plateaus: a much brighter picture than the factual Mars. His roseate cliffs and purple forests offer the reader a much more romanticized rendition of the Red Planet. Furthermore, Lewis’s story upends the traditional Wellsian association with Mars, the old-school mindset that sees its inhabitants as little “bringers of war” just as lustful for blood as the Roman god had been. The several races dwelling on Malacandra are mostly removed from hostile tendencies, and it is only the diminutive minds of men that harbor fear and a nature toward violence.

Lewis turns man into the alien, the invader, the enemy of peace. In a poetic twist, humanity’s leap to an unsubstantiated conclusion turns into a crime against the universe. The ruler of Malacandra rebukes Ransom for his perpetual fear and his kidnappers for their wanton dealing of death to Malacandrians. Through Ransom, the reader’s focus is directed inward as an examination of our own morality and an inquiry into our darkest fears.

5. At City Journal, Kay Hymowitz says that America’s immigration debate needs to be about second-generation prospects. From the piece:

The New York Times has not been in the habit of publishing heartening stories about the American dream in recent years, but last week, the editors made an exception, with an article recounting the findings of a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, showing that the sons of low-income immigrants are moving up the economic ladder—as they have since the Ellis Island era. After the article appeared, the Times reporter, Emily Badger, tweeted: “There is a lot in this study tweaking talking points in the current immigration debate.” I’d put it differently: there is a lot in this study suggesting that we’ve been having the wrong immigration debate.

The study itself, “Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the U.S. over the Last Two Centuries,” won’t give any final answers to our immigration dilemmas, but it merits attention for its remarkable reach. The three authors, all economic historians, linked the incomes of immigrant fathers and their American-born sons in three generational cohorts—1880, 1910, and 1980—from 20 of the major sending countries. (They didn’t include daughters, whose economic outcomes are trickier to evaluate, given name changes and shifting employment patterns for women.) The sending countries vary dramatically over time. The 1880 group, for example, came mostly from Northern and Western Europe, or more specifically, from Germany, Ireland, and England; the 1910 cohort, meantime, hailed from Southern and Eastern Europe. Finally, the 1980 faction is dominated by exiles from Latin America and Asia. (The authors pass over the period between 1924 and 1965, when immigration was highly restricted.)

For each group, the researchers compared the immigrant pairs with native-born fathers and sons. They found that upward mobility between first- and second-generation immigrants has remained a constant in U.S. history, regardless of the sending country. As the Times put it: “The adult children of poor Mexican and Dominican immigrants in the country legally today achieve about the same relative economic success as children of poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland did a century ago.” In fact, immigrant sons were 3 to 6 percentile points more upwardly mobile than the sons of American fathers.

6. At Modern Age, Daniel McCarthy looks back at 1989, when faith took down The Wall, but secularism took credit. From the editorial:

The world of today was born thirty years ago. The same year the Berlin Wall ceased to divide Europe, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party ordered the massacre of hundreds if not thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square. Francis Fukuyama published “The End of History?” in the National Interest as the Cold War drew to a close. For more than four decades, that struggle between communism and Christianity, capitalism, and nationalism had defined much of politics—within the West as well as between West and East. But in 1989 a new era was dawning, a liberal era whose hopes were belied by the bloodshed in Beijing. Communist economics was at an end; communist despotism was not.

Capitalism, perversely, would give communist rule in China a new lease on life. In the West, intellectuals celebrated liberalism as the victor of the Cold War, with religion and patriotism discounted steeply. Pope John Paul II and the faith of his fellow Poles had made a contribution to the downfall of European communism in the 1980s. And, yes, the fact that Germans and Hungarians and the rest did not want to be ruled from Moscow was important. But as far as the intelligentsia of Western Europe and the United States was concerned, these facts had little meaning for us: our freedom did not depend on faith or national loyalty; it depended rather on secular universal ideals, those of liberalism and democracy. If capitalism was the salvation of communism in China, in the West a liberalism that shared communism’s scientific pretensions and disregard for religion and national boundaries became the new orthodoxy of the elite. The Cold War ended with irony, not a storybook finish.

BONUS: At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman shares the grim story that the E.U.’s Court of Justice has just set free-speech limits. From the report:

The ruling “essentially allows one country or region to decide what internet users around the world can say and what information they can access,” said Victoria de Posson, senior manager in Europe at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, an industry group that includes Google and Facebook as members.

The judgment does indeed appear to be opening up a Pandora’s Box for the ever-shrinking space for free speech in Europe and potentially worldwide, although it is still unclear at this point, how the judgment might affect free speech worldwide.

Government efforts in Europe to censor free speech have long been ongoing: in Germany, the controversial censorship law, known as NetzDG, which came into effect on October 1, 2017, requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.

The new judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union, presumably, could mean that a German court could order what it deems to be illegal content, or its equivalent, under NetzDG to be removed in other EU member states that do not have a similarly draconian censorship law.

France is looking to adopt a similar law to that in Germany: In early July, France’s National Assembly adopted a draft bill designed to curtail online hate speech. The draft bill gives social media platforms 24 hours to remove “hateful content” or risk fines of up to 4% percent of their global revenue. The bill has gone to the French Senate. Again, if the bill becomes law, the judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union could mean that French courts would be able to demand that Facebook remove what the courts consider illegal content or its equivalent under French law.

Baseballery

Bob Hendley, the southpaw who pitched in the early 60s for the Braves, Giants, Cubs, and Mets, may not have been baseball’s greatest pitcher (his record was 48–52, with a career ERA of 3.97), but he may have pitched in what many consider its greatest pitching duel. It took place on the night of September 9, 1965, a lightning-fast contest of just 1 hour and 43 minutes at Dodger Stadium. That night, Hendly was wearing a Cubs uniform, and pitched brilliantly against the team that would go on the be that season’s World Champs: he gave up one measly hit, and one measly unearned run (a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, an error).

But too bad for Hendley, because hurling for the Dodgers that night was Sandy Koufax, and he was, well, perfect. The Dodger ace faced 27 batters, and not a one reached first. 14 Cubs struck out. It was his fourth career no-no, and his one career perfect game. A game where both teams combined for just . . . one hit.

Of note: Five days later, this time at Wrigley Field, the two southpaws faced off again (the game crept along, taking an exhausting 1:57 to complete!). This time, Hendley prevailed, in a 2–1 complete-game victory, Koufax having given up a two-run homer to fellow Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams in the sixth inning.

Of even notier: With two on and two out in the seventh, with the abysmal-hitting Koufax due up, manager Walter Alston pulled him for pinch-hitter . . . Don Drysdale. That year, the Dodgers’ other ace was hitting .300 — he slapped a single and drove in LA’s sole run. But Big D (who won 23 games in 1965) did not take the mound in relief in the bottom of the frame.

A Dios

Our friend and board member, Allen Sidor, passed away. I had asked for your prayers, and appreciate those who uttered them and brought him peace in is final hours. We remembered him in the current issue of the magazine:

You could find Allen Sidor at home on an NR Cruise, sitting back quietly and cheerfully, people-watching, puffing a fine cigar. There was a gentleness and humility to the California entrepreneur, a selfless man, ever generous with his means and his friendship. Sooner rather than later, seafaring editors, writers, fellow cruisers, cigar aficionados were drawn to him: His company was warm, his camaraderie very real. Eventually, the directors of this institution, aware of his business acumen, asked Al to join the board. He agreed immediately and happily: This coincided with a desire to start a new chapter in his life, of passing leadership in his company to his beloved son Ryan and helping put NR on a sounder business footing. And then too there were socialism and socialists to beat back, and boy oh boy did Al ever want in on that. But coinciding was a slow-growth cancer that last year turned aggressive. And fatal. There was a prolonged, determined fight, a brutal one of high-grade chemo, of severe pain and sleepless nights, waged against impossible odds, aided by the care and compassion of his son, his former wife, and his close friends. Through it, his sweet nature held, but in his last days Al tried to resign his NR position. He claimed he was not contributing. The gesture was refused. Al passed away on October 27, age 63, we expect into God’s comforting arms, which he prayed would be open to him. As do we: Dear friend, R.I.P.

Pray for Al’s soul. Pray for the Republic.

God’s Ample Blessings and Graces Showered Upon You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can be accused of bad manners, bad breath, and bad judgment via hectoring emails sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

It Tolls for Thee, Babycakes

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Put down the KitKat, drop the Mounds, and pay heed.

Today is All Souls Day, and Your Humble Correspondent appreciates this brief tolerance of spiritual anxieties before we get to the ensuring Thanksgiving Feast of NR links. This (fascination) cannot be helped, having stumbled onto, and then becoming fixated with, sites about mystics and apparitions and accounts of tormented souls from Purgatory (there is a museum!), and . . . well, how about you just read Dante.

Still, it’s no laughing matter. Nor is Brexit, which represents another situation where souls are trying to leave some oppressive situation — although it cannot be said that the EU is some means of purification on the way to holiness. It is, as Kevin Williamson points out, the Hotel California:

When the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union — rightly or wrongly, intelligently or meat-headedly, however you see it — that should have been that. But British sovereignty has become so entangled in European protocols as to render Brexit difficult if not quite impossible without the cooperation of the European Union itself. And that cooperation has not been exactly forthcoming. Brussels has worked to make Brexit as difficult, painful, and expensive for the United Kingdom as it can. It has even gone so far as to demand the creation of what amounts to a national border for goods within the United Kingdom, in effect permanently ceding a portion of British sovereignty to the European Union.

And that is the way in which the European Union indentures British liberty and democracy. There is more to liberty than simple unrestricted freedom of action. Liberty includes rights embedded in a particular political regime and legal context, meaning liberty under British government and British law of British making. The British people might legitimately have chosen another course of action — but they did not. And while majoritarian democracy is an instrument of limited legitimacy and applicability (which is why we Americans have a Bill of Rights — “unalienable rights” cannot be voted away), when a question is put to the people, either the result must stand or the people must conclude that they no longer enjoy sovereignty, liberty, or democracy.

What else? Oh yes, Kate Smith beat the Yankees. And kudos to the Nationals for taking the World Series, and to pound home this point, Phil the Editor, who rarely offers two cents about this missive’s contents, corresponds thusly: “I know you don’t like post-merger ball facts for the Jolt, but this is the first World Series in MLB history in which every game was won by the away team. And it’s now been 6 years since a team won the series at home (last, Sox).”

Editorials

1. Our national debt mounts. We declare this to be nuts. From the editorial:

The news that the budget deficit has returned to a point just a hair shy of the trillion-dollar mark is dispiriting. The Trump administration is rightly proud of its economic record of modest but steady growth accompanied by strong employment and very good growth in wages. But if we cannot get government spending under control during the good times, what hope do we have for the more challenging times? And there will be more challenging times.

Congressional Republicans did make some real progress on spending controls during the Obama years, but it is very difficult to resist revenue-hungry special interests — especially when those interest groups represent big blocs of voters.

And budget reform without presidential leadership is more difficult still. The major drivers of federal spending are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid (along with other health-care subsidies), and national security. President Trump has ruled out pursuing Social Security and Medicare reform out-of-hand. These are very popular entitlements, and particularly popular among some sensitive Republican constituencies. Likewise, military spending is very popular among Republicans, and some conservatives argue, not without reason, that we are not spending enough on the armed services.

We are all for negotiating an extra nickel off every case of pencils the federal bureaucracies order, but the U.S. government is not going to be able to put its fiscal situation on solid footing without addressing the major drivers of spending — meaning entitlement reform. Even if Republicans were willing to countenance the radical tax increases put forward by some leading Democrats, these almost certainly would prove insufficient to cover spending if it continues on its current trajectory. We would need to roughly double federal taxes to make that happen.

2. Parliament’s December 12 election is a choice between sanity and the abyss. From the editorial:

Both the Blair and Cameron governments contributed to the institutional logjam and crisis of the recent Parliament. Cameron’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was supposed to copper-fasten a Tory–Liberal Democrat majority. Instead, the result was to create a novel situation where a majority of parliamentarians opposed to the government’s negotiating strategy with Brussels attempted to puppeteer the executive and undermine the prime minister rather than bring his government to an end and face an election. Separating power and responsibility in this way had the predictable result of sowing chaos and confusion in Westminster. The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, was supposed to be a neutral referee and guardian of parliamentary custom. He became a wild innovator and occasional usurper, undermining the executive on behalf of those committed to reversing Brexit.

These novelties were blessed by yet another. When Johnson made the perfectly normal political decision to suspend Parliament and call for a Queen’s speech, the Supreme Court that was invented by Tony Blair’s government jumped in to declare that what had heretofore been a royal prerogative was now an illegal act. This was an astonishing act of constitutional transgression that, if unchallenged, will resound in history until the days when the memory of a European Union is as distant as the Crimean War. A new Tory government must begin putting recommitting the institutions of British governance to their proper roles.

And so the Tory campaign Johnson leads is on the side of democracy, national sovereignty, the union, Britain’s traditional allies, and constitutional restoration. Prevailing means sanity. Failure leads to the abyss. Good luck to him.

3. Elizabeth Warren has cunning health-care plan that may cost the equivalent of the entire world’s GDP. Or a hell of a heck of a lot. We find her scheme to be textbook fanaticism. From the editorial:

For what purpose does Warren ask Americans to risk reduced national income and declines in access to specialty care? Why should they be prohibited from having private health insurance? It can’t be in order to cover the uninsured: There are many ways — good and bad, conservative and progressive — to expand coverage without forcing everyone into a government-run system. Is it because Americans, even those who are well-off, must be saved from having to pay deductibles and co-payments? That hardly seems like a crisis demanding a sweeping governmental response.

Warren’s plan, heavy as it is on taxes and controls, is alarming in its own right. Still more so is the ideological fanaticism it expresses.

See Miss Virginia

Your Humble Correspondent acknowledges that NR — in its triple threat of Kyle Smith, Armond White, and Ross Douthat — has America’s premier assembly of movie critics. But even Zeppo got crowds in on his brothers. So herewith a recommendation: See the new flick, Miss Virginia, which may be difficult to catch at the local Cineplex, but is to be had: I caught it on Amazon Prime.

Watch the trailer here.

This is the story of single mom Virginia Walden Ford (played by Uzo Aduba), who led the determined and successful fight to have Congress pass legislation to create “opportunity scholarships” for District of Columbia students desperately in need of an alternative to their expensive hellhole schools. Matthew Modine plays the fictional Congressman Clifford Williams, who proved to be Miss Virginia’s Capitol Hill champion.

The flick is a project of The Motion Picture Institute, which is, well, not liberal — it’s determined to make entertaining, inspiring, educating movies and videos about human freedom. So I was rooting for it when the “WATCH” arrow was clicked, but frankly, braced for disappointment. Not so! The movie is very entertaining, yes, educational, with some terrific bits of acting, and a happy (and true!) ending offset by some prior bits of sorrow.

You want a great movie review? Read Armond, Kyle, or Ross. You want to watch an enjoyable / educational movie with the family? Watch Miss Virginia.

Here Is Your Big Basket of Delicious Conservative Halloween Candy — Get Chewing!

1. Rachel McKinnon, says Madeleine Kearns, is not only a cheat, she’s a bully. And this too: She’s a he. Or is it her’s a him? Anyway . . . from the piece:

So, what’s this got to do with the culture at large? First, by pretending that McKinnon is not a man, we have allowed him to cheat at sports at the expense of his female competitors. Because McKinnon being a man is directly relevant to the argument that he should not compete against women, in calling him something other than a man, we obfuscate that argument — and all for the sake of a very recently invented set of blasphemy norms (e.g. “misgendering” and “deadnaming”) that don’t apply to us non-believers.

Second, by pretending that McKinnon is not a man — but rather a vulnerable woman — we have forsworn all expectations of accountability and decency. The most egregious example of this, and the precise moment I decided to stop lending McKinnon special courtesies, was when he lauded the terminal illness of a young woman, Magdalen Berns, whom I held (and still hold) in great esteem.

Berns believed strongly that men cannot be women. As she lay on her deathbed in Scotland, at the age of 36, surrounded by her loved ones, McKinnon tweeted that he was “happy” when bad people died, that this feeling is “justified,” that Berns is a “trash human,” and further advised his followers “don’t be the sort of person who people you’ve harmed are happy you’re dying of brain cancer.” By contrast, here is a characteristically civil, clear and courageous quote from Berns: “it’s not hate to defend your rights and it’s not hate to speak the truth.”

Men can be so rude sometimes.

2. Armond White says Jesus Is King — Kanye West’s new documentary and album — will have a long-lasting impact. From the review:

West’s gospel revival coincides with his political independence. So far, this is West’s most powerful statement since supporting President Trump and wearing a MAGA cap in public. By reviving his faith in the word of God and the independence of black Americana gospel, he forces others to remember the moral foundation of the civil-rights movement, which has been forgotten and deliberately disregarded by fervent secular liberals. (It was at a high pitch during the funerals that turned the spiritual transitions of Aretha Franklin and Elijah Cummings into shameless political rallies.)

Throngs of fans and worshipers taking part in West’s various Sunday Services concerts across the country over the past year are vividly documented in the 38-minute film Jesus Is King. (The IMAX visual emphasis on land, sky, and clouds evokes George Stevens’s 70 mm The Greatest Story Ever Told.) When worshipers sing the lyric “He walked with my mother / I want Him to walk with me,” the song’s emotional resonance recalls the faith of generations — from before the sea change of black politics’ bitter alignment with the tenets of Communist atheism.

The beautiful essence of Jesus Is King is its non-bitterness. Despite private struggle and public pushback (“Before the flood, they did the same to Noah”), West has realized a way to avoid and confound liberal media’s trap: the promotion of black bitterness as the core of African-American self-realization. Jesus Is King is a spiritual work thanks to its deep feeling — pure expression brought to today’s calamitous social condition. The album rejects any recourse to political solutions. West’s personal movement, and the public convocation of his Sunday Services, is clearly against the politics of division.

3. More Kanye: Andrew Walker believes his conversion could be a “cultural wrecking ball” (hopefully not the kind Miley Cyrus rode). From the Corner post:

But in the media rollout of West’s album, it’s worth paying attention to other statements he’s made. He’s criticized abortion and believes that the African-American community is getting played by Democrats. He remains defiant in the face of political correctness. A man of evolving identities who has struggled with mental illness in his past, he told Zane Lowe during a two-hour long Beats 1 interview that during the planning of the album, he insisted that those around him fast and abstain from premarital sex. In the interview with Lowe, West has the anthropology of C. S. Lewis, the economics of Wilhelm Röpke, the cultural mood of Wendell Berry, and the defiance of Francis Schaeffer. In Jesus Is King and in interviews, we see a Kanye West upholding what Russell Kirk referred to as the Permanent Things.

He’s rejecting the hyper-sexualization of culture that he admitted he helped create. In an ode to the Niebuhrian Christ-and-culture typology, he said he’s now living his life for Christ and ostensibly against culture.

In a word, Kanye West is now a cultural reactionary by the standards of our society, and could be, in time, a cultural wrecking ball that dislodges so much of the assumed, comfortable, and unchecked cultural liberalism that dominates the most elite sectors of our country and mocks anything resembling traditionalism and social conservatism. In an age of libertarian sentiment, when the currency of American society appear to be glamorization and the notion that consent is the only reasonable moral standard, West is calling for restraint and limits.

4. Andy McCarthy eyeballs the House impeachment inquiry resolution, and, among various observations, finds a flawed proposal and a questionable process. From the analysis:

With that as a concrete example of what’s at stake, we should pause to deal with the central procedural issue. Republicans continue validly to complain about the rigged process. Whether it will be rigged going forward, though, depends on how committed Schiff and, ultimately, Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) are to open proceedings that both are and appear to be fair. It is not frivolous for Republicans to grouse that the future open proceedings with due process are tainted by the month of closed proceedings without due process, which has made impeachment a foregone conclusion. But the procedural argument won’t win the day, and Democrats still have to make their case to the public, no matter how one-sided things have been to this point.

I am not without hope that there will be real due process in the public hearings — not because hardcore partisans Schiff and Nadler will suddenly transform into paragons of fairness, but because it is in their interest to be fair.

The court here is public opinion, and — because the president is highly unlikely to be removed by the Senate — the verdict will come in November 2020. If the House Democrats have an impeachment case against the president, the Democrats have a strong incentive to let the process play out with deferential due process befitting the seriousness of the matter. If the case is thin gruel and the process is manifestly skewed against the president, with disclosure withheld, cross-examination slashed, exculpatory witnesses denied, etc., it will look like a partisan hit job — i.e., Democrats determined to impeach a president they never accepted, not spurred by egregious misconduct.

The public will judge the House impeachment inquiry on the finished product, not the dodgy start. In this vein, Republicans are seizing on the broad discretion and control that the resolution vests in Schiff. This is a sensible strategy: Schiff has conducted himself disreputably, theatrically reading an absurd caricature of the Trump-Zelensky transcript, concealing his staff’s coordination with the so-called whistleblower (and earlier, championing the discredited Steele dossier). A former prosecutor, Schiff is a very able interrogator; he is also hyper-partisan, sneaky, and erratic.

All that said, congressional inquiries are adversarial political proceedings, which means someone has to be in charge of them. Elections have consequences, so the someone is a Democrat. Since we are in a very partisan time, Republicans and Democrats tend to vote in antagonistic lockstep. Where there are disputes, Democrats will win because they have the numbers. That doesn’t mean the process has to be rigged. That will be up to Schiff. If Republicans make reasonable requests, Schiff would be well advised not to turn them into disputes; if he denies them, Democrats will look terrible. If Republicans make outlandish demands that appear designed to delay or derail the proceedings, there will be sympathy for Schiff. A lot rides on how he presides — and how Nadler does in phase-two.

5. The Vatican holds a long and circusy “Amazon Synod,” and Michael Brendan Dougherty wonders if false gods were worshipped in St. Peter’s. From the piece:

John Henry Newman was canonized a saint a few weeks ago by the Catholic Church. His essay on the development of doctrine laid out stringent criteria by which to judge new expressions by Churchmen. Chief among them, they must not violate the law of non-contradiction. “A true development is that which is conservative of its original, and a corruption is that which tends to its destruction,” he wrote. What would he think today?

I often think of Badiou and Mao, and Orwell’s Winston Smith, when I read documents authored by the au courant prelates of my Catholic Church, or apologetics on behalf of the new way of doing things. In 2018, a Canadian priest and Catholic media maven, Fr. Thomas Rosica, wrote that Pope Francis “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments.’” One hears in this the same line about thinking in infinities. It turned out that Fr. Thomas Rosica had plagiarized this effulgent passage from an ex-Catholic turned fundamentalist, and reversed its meaning by doing so. The original author had meant it as a criticism, the latter as flattery. The latter’s use required stupidity and intelligence. On his grave, it should say, He loved Big Jesuit.

The recently concluded Synod of the Amazon has been dogged by the principle of contradiction. A scandal broke out about a statuette of a pregnant figure. Some authorities in Rome called it an image of the Blessed Virgin — a veritable Our Lady of the Amazon. Others, including Pope Francis himself, called the statue “Pachama” after the South American fertility goddess. Some activist Catholics, having been told this was an idol of a false god being erected in their Churches, took the statue and threw it into the Tiber. But Francis clarified that the display of the statues was “without blasphemous intent.” There’s a certain athleticism of mind at work.

6. As Jack Crowe and Tobias Hoonhout find out, the drive-by media has no problem straight-facing it when they sit on news that might hurt a liberal Democrat. From the report:

A reporter who now works for the New York Times failed to report on public records which he obtained in April that cut against Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) claim that she was fired from a teaching position in 1971 due to pregnancy discrimination.

Reid Epstein, who was then working for the Wall Street Journal, filed an open-records request with the Riverdale Board of Education on April 2 seeking “to inspect or obtain” copies of public records relating to Warren’s time teaching at Riverdale during the 1970-1971 school year. In response to his request, Epstein received school-board minutes on April 10 that challenge Warren’s story, according to documents obtained by National Review through the New Jersey Open Records Act.

Epstein, who moved to the Times on April 19, never broke the story. Reached for comment, a Times spokeswoman said that the “records were inconclusive” and the potential story required further sourcing.

7. Nicholas Phillips checks out lefty journalist Andrew Marantz’s new book, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of American Conservatism and sees things of which George Orwell made mincemeat 80-plus years ago. From the review:

One senses Marantz’s fear of any angle that could be seen to soft-pedal or both-sides the problem of the far Right — the author repeatedly frets about being morally compromised by merely covering them. The sole time the online Left appears in Marantz’s book is, I kid you not, when he contrasts the Left’s “sincere aspirations to virtue” with the Right’s cynicism — as if being progressive made you immune to social-media outrage incentives.

The next thing Marantz says we need is a new appetite for regulating Internet speech. He treats the need for online gatekeeping as embarrassingly obvious yet is largely silent on how it would work, resorting to metaphor (social media is a party, and sometimes you need to bounce misbehaving guests — something hardly anyone would disagree with) rather than the language of policy and law, which demand concrete line-drawing. He claims this is intentional; it’s also convenient. Marantz takes us inside a Reddit war room where employees make ad hoc, but mostly reasonable, decisions about which communities to ban, suggesting that censorship is easy enough if we deploy the common sense of the average Silicon Valley tech mogul. The problem will go away if we change the rules of the digital conversation, which is an especially attractive solution when the people who control those rules are highly educated fellow elites.

This is why Marantz’s account is ultimately a feel-good story, even though he goes to great pains to reject arc-of-history optimism. For him, dealing with extremism doesn’t mean changing anything about how our society is ordered. Not once does he attribute extremism to social or economic causes that exist outside of the Internet. He acknowledges that extremism is more attractive to people who are “alienated” or “lonely” or who lack “a strong sense of self,” but he doesn’t ask why more Americans than ever seem to feel this way. Instead, he chooses the solutions — a different moral vocabulary and the will to enforce it online — that involve no sacrifice for the class of which he is a member. Indeed, it’s a new privilege — who do we suppose will be teaching us this new vocabulary? Who will enforce its rules? Probably the kinds of people who become New Yorker staff writers.

8. Alan Hawkins and Betsy VanDenBerghe consider the new figures showing divorce rates in decline, but counsel against cheering. From the analysis:

While a decline in the divorce rate merits a parade that we’re loath to rain on, two other trends deserve a less triumphal reception.

First, the specter of divorce continues to haunt young adults in ways that discourage marriage and encourage cohabitation. While the passage of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s made ending harmful marriages easier, it also contributed to a wholesale legal and social rejection of a strategic pillar of marriage: permanence. Divorce rates skyrocketed in the 1970s and then stabilized in the 1980s. They have receded somewhat over the past 30 years. Today demographers estimate that about 40 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages will end in divorce. But the divorce rate, while no longer in the stratosphere, never quite came back down to earth either.

And rates remain high enough that the specter of divorce still hovers in the public consciousness. The divorce phantom especially affects younger men and women, many of whom lived through their parents’ break-ups, in a way aptly phrased by NR’s Kyle Smith: “Warning: Do. Not. Get. Divorced. But since you can never be sure your partner won’t dump you, really, you shouldn’t get married. Or fall in love in the first place. Best bet: Don’t be born.”

While divorce angst and its accompanying postponement of marriage paradoxically contributes to today’s lower divorce rates, it doesn’t keep young adults from romantic relationships. Instead, viewing marriage as fragile and divorce as a common and random accident waiting to happen, younger Americans, a recent study found, were more likely to remain unmarried and cohabit, a scenario that researchers have linked to increased odds of a future divorce. For younger adults, high expectations of divorce significantly decrease their odds of being married, yet the odds of divorce are hardly fixed. Relationship skills that significantly increase chances for marital success help even those with risk factors for divorce achieve healthy marriages.

9. Lindsey Burke and Jonathan Butcher investigate the Johnson Administration’s “Great Society” spending spree and find it did bupkus for America’s poor and needy. From the analysis:

Head Start, the federal pre-kindergarten program for low-income children launched under Johnson, has had no lasting learning gains for enrolled students. What’s more, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found Head Start centers inflating enrollment numbers by doctoring student applications. Taxpayers have spent more than $240 billion on the initiative since its launch in 1965.

Washington has spent $2 trillion on K–12 schools since 1965, yet there has been no improvement in actual student learning for disadvantaged students compared with their peers. The achievement gap between children from low-income families and wealthier students was the equivalent of four years of learning decades ago and remains that size today. There has, however, been a notable increase in the bureaucracy. The number of administrators has increased 137 percent since the 1960s.

Today the federal government originates and services 90 percent of all student loans, spending $150 billion annually on loans and grants. Tuition at public four-year universities has increased 213 percent (after accounting for inflation) since 1987. Meanwhile, a slightly smaller proportion of students from families in the bottom quartile of the income distribution graduate from college today, the very students Johnson’s loan programs were supposed to help.

By any measurable indicator, the Great Society has been a bust for students.

10. The Golden State goes dark. Rich Lowry uses the flashlight to see that California can’t keep on the lights. From the piece:

California governor Gavin Newsom, who has to try to evade responsibility for this debacle while presiding over it, blames “dog-eat-dog capitalism” for the state’s current crisis. It sounds like he’s referring to robber barons who have descended on the state to suck it dry of profits while burning it to the ground. But Newsom is talking about one of the most regulated industries in the state — namely California’s energy utilities, which answer to the state’s public utilities commission.

This is not exactly an Ayn Rand operation. The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?

Meanwhile, California has had a decades-long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

11. Victor Davis Hanson chimes in (even referencing Dante!) and sees his home state becoming pre-modern, courtesy of idiocies inflicted by progressives. From the piece:

Californians know that to venture into a typical municipal emergency room is to descend into a modern Dante’s Inferno. Medical facilities are overcrowded. They can be as unpleasant as they are bankrupting to the vanishing middle class that must face exorbitant charges to bring in an injured or sick child.

No one would dare to connect the crumbling infrastructure, poor schools, and failing public health care with the non-enforcement of immigration laws, which has led to a massive influx of undocumented immigrants from the poorest regions of the world, who often arrive without fluency in English or a high-school education.

Stores are occasionally hit by swarming looters. Such Wild West criminals know how to keep their thefts under $950, ensuring that such “misdemeanors” do not warrant police attention. California’s permissive laws have decriminalized thefts and break-ins. The result is that San Francisco now has the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation.

Has California become premodern?

Millions of fed-up middle-class taxpayers have fled the state. Their presence as a stabilizing influence is sorely missed. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California. Millions of poor newcomers require enormously expensive state health, housing, education, legal, and law-enforcement services.

California is now a one-party state. Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. Only seven of the state’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans. The result is that there is no credible check on a mostly coastal majority.

12. More CA / MBD: Michael finds the floperoo prexy candidacy of Kamala Harris tracks California’s increasing failed-state trajectory. From the commentary:

Now it’s obvious that Harris is not a top-tier candidate. Gabbard had attacked Harris for laughing at the idea of smoking marijuana herself, while compiling a record as a draconian drug warrior and a dodgy prosecutor willing to do what’s unjust if it advanced her political career. The attack is effective as a symbol of Harris’s hypocrisy and opportunism, and it points to the fundamentally dysfunctional political culture of California: The rules are applied vengefully to the peons, the rules are rewritten or ignored for the privileged.

California is one of the most unequal states in our society. California has more superrich than anywhere else in the country. It also has one of the highest poverty rates. There, the rich are indulged, protected, and cosseted, while the poor are punished, humiliated, and cast into chaos. The parts of the middle class that haven’t fled the Golden State for Boulder, Colo., Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., Columbus, Ohio, or Atlanta are now subjected to semi-regular preemptive power outages. Which means school closings, lost days at work, and spoilage at grocers and restaurants.

What strikes most visitors to Los Angeles and San Francisco these days is the obscene wealth and squalor in close proximity: billion-dollar work campuses at one edge, but human feces in the old neighborhoods. California’s infrastructure is among the worst in the nation, despite the fact that the state could be counted as one of the five largest economies in the world. The infrastructure that has been built out in recent years has mostly served the tech giants in Silicon Valley. It has connected the enclaves of the superrich and facilitated their travel. California is leading the country in building new lanes for high-occupancy vehicles and those willing to pay a toll for reduced travel time. Even the highways can be made to resemble gated communities.

13. Kyle Smith checks out The Rise of Jordan Peterson and finds the documentary about the accidental movement leader pretty fair. From the review:

The doc gives plenty of airtime to his ideological opponents, who in interviews say things such as “I was in danger of vomiting all over my keyboard,” as if their inability to control their own digestive tracts is Peterson’s responsibility. “You hurt my feelings, so I get to lock you up” is an idea that gains traction every day, and Peterson deserves praise for being the rare campus figure to call this absurd. The raving hordes who want ever more restrictive speech codes come off poorly in this movie, but that’s because the movie quotes them fairly.

Co-written and directed by Patricia Marcoccia, The Rise of Jordan Peterson (which is playing in a few theaters and available via video on demand) makes an effort to pierce the increasingly outsized public persona of its subject and “unpack” him, to use a very Peterson-y verb. Courtly and polite, Peterson speaks with a mild, Muppet-y voice, yet can’t resist being nettlesome: Kermit the Firebrand. At times this gentle soul seems like an unlikely candidate to be whipping up opposing armies. He might have preferred to remain focused on his academic work on belief systems, myths, and archetypes. But like many others on the right, Peterson is ultimately motivated by an inability to let bunkum prevail unchallenged. A daughter gives him a psychological test in which Peterson is asked to rate himself in various categories. “You have no idea how irritated I actually am,” he says, in one revealing moment. He also says he isn’t as eager to quarrel as people think: “They agitate the hell out of me, but I won’t back away from one [dispute].” There’s an element of fun to it, of course: “I figured out how to monetize social-justice warriors,” he says with a gleam in his eye.

14. Something Fishy Here: Brian Allen eyeballs the work of James Prosek. From the beginning of his review:

James Prosek (b. 1975) is the Audubon of fish. John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, published between 1827 and 1838, is an amalgam of science and art. Audubon’s renderings of hundreds of birds, mostly in watercolor, were elegantly engraved in volumes that informed ornithology for generations. The art’s gorgeous and cinematic. Whenever I see an Audubon bird, I think of close-ups of movie stars. For most of his career, and he’s a mid-generation artist, Prosek has done the same thing with fish.

Prosek is a modern man. He’s a fascinating, fine artist but a master of today’s media. He makes documentaries, writes, teaches, and promotes conservation initiatives. A few years ago, he retraced the first book on fishing, The Compleat Angler, written by Issak Walton in 1653. His documentary on Walton is unusually good.

I’ve been writing about outside-the-box artists off and on all year. Angela Lorenz makes artist’s books. Sheila Hicks is a textile sculptor. Henri Broyard is a young African-American painter. I planned to write about Prosek this month, mostly because he defies boundaries and thinks about art and science. Then, Harold Bloom died last week. Prosek and I were Bloom students at Yale, though of different generations. Bloom taught me about Shelley, Southey, Byron, and Wordsworth.

Bloom called Prosek “an original.” He thought Prosek was the best artist of his — Bloom’s — era. What did he mean?

15. Jack Butler is gnawed at by the persistence of the superstitious and its kin, and explores why. From the essay:

We can turn to two resources for guidance: Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin, and The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. These books, published in 1967 and 1971, became iconic horror films whose 50th and 45th anniversaries, respectively, came last year. The books have several superficial similarities: main characters who are actors, deaths by falling that set their plots in motion, dream sequences, fictional books-within-books about devil worship, rearrangements of words as key plot points, and a reliance on the agnosticism and skepticism of main characters for evil to succeed.

The far more important similarity, however, is that both books, as well as their subsequent film adaptations, were not merely thrilling supernatural yarns told in decidedly modern settings (Rosemary’s Baby largely in New York City and The Exorcist mostly in Washington, D.C. — the twin capitals of modernity). They also mix in with their supernatural horror a heavy helping of contemporary anxieties. Taken together, they suggest a frightening answer to the question of why the supernatural seems to cling bitterly to the supposedly rationalist present.

On its face, Rosemary’s Baby is merely a modern adaptation of a frightening gothic tale: a newly expectant mother who begins to suspect that others have dark designs on her unborn child. But beneath this lurid surface, much of the contemporary anxiety of the 1960s creeps. Rosemary, though trying to live happily in New York City with her striving actor husband Guy, does not belong there. Describing herself as a “country girl at heart,” Rosemary is, in fact, a lapsed Catholic who “escaped” from her big family in Omaha, Neb., among whom she considered herself “the black sheep.” Like many urban refugees from a purportedly oppressive heartland, she has cut herself off from this family . . . and yet retains many of the modes, manners, and folkways of her kin: crossing herself on instinct, chafing against her husband’s insistence against children because he “wasn’t ready yet,” desiring to see in person the visiting pope and reflexively defending him against irreligious neighbors.

As the plot against Rosemary’s child becomes clear to her, however, she confronts another aspect of urban life. Her fellow apartment residents, whom she comes to suspect are devil-worshipers, have expertly manipulated her social circle so that she is essentially alone in confronting them. Atomized city life becomes itself a fearsome foe, as does the lure of the world itself: When Rosemary’s husband reveals his complicity in these devil-worshipers’ plot, he justifies it on the basis that “we’re getting so much in return . . .” Many misguided souls, across place and time, have found gaining the world but losing that soul an attractive bargain. All these phenomena are amplified by conspiracy and dramatic effect, but draw from real-world urban dislocations.

Mandatory NR Webathon Plug and Your Ensuing (Deserved?) Mandatory Guilt Trip

We here touch on the idea of reparations for the sin of gluttony — per Dante and his Purgatorio, it is the vice handled in the Sixth Level in that un-Heavenly place. This lecture might be a bit too high-handed, abusive, and counter-productive. Smart-arsey. But there is a fact: There are a gazillion NRO readers who camp out on the site, day in and out and all the live-long, who stuff their brains and engorge their intellects courtesy of the Endless Feast we publish. We serve, we bus the trays, we wash the dishes. Yes, it’s all free, but really, you can’t tip?

Of course, as every good conservative knows: There is no such thing as a free meal. All that wisdom you are consuming? Someone is paying for it. If not you, then it really is about time you ponied up, especially if you never have. OK, Nervy Me is telling you that, but Nervy Me is only repeating what your conscience is telling you, although maybe you cannot hear it from all the mandible mastication you are enjoying.

Who is and has been paying are generous souls (it’s official: this is also All Generous Souls’ Day), selfless peeps who accept the importance of NRO and its existence and its megaphone for propagating the conservative faith, who acknowledge that we do need the kindness of strangers to persist, who want this sucker to survive and even thrive. So they have donated, cash that is cold and hard, like that Dove Bar you just inhaled, when we have appealed. Which we are doing right now with our 2019 Fall Webathon.

Purgatory Boy just wrote a persuasive (we’ll see about that) entreaty for all, especially the long-time moochers, to donate. Where to read it, to be persuaded as promised? Right here. Where to donate if only to ease your conscience? Here.

Now, how about another slab of lasagna and a slice of pie?

The Six

1. At The Catholic Thing, Michael Pakaluk reflects on the writings of (newly canonized) John Henry Newman and the idea that we have lost the sense of what the true purpose of a university is. From the piece.

The basic idea of John Henry Newman’s great work, The Idea of a University, is one of those brilliant arguments that take your breath away for its simplicity and power. A university, he says, as its name implies, is a place of universal learning. Therefore, an institution that failed to teach about God, the central reality, the origin and end of everything else, whatever its other merits, simply could not be called a university. It would be a sham university, like a dodgy place that on principle excluded chemistry or physics. With devastating logic, Newman then traces out the disorders that must afflict an academic community that has plucked out its very heart.

It’s an audacious idea, that our most prestigious universities are, most of them, not genuine universities at all.

Trouble is, there’s a second and different idea in Newman’s work. He also describes a university as a place where the distinctive beauty of the intellect is imparted, just for its own sake:

There is a physical beauty and a moral: there is a beauty of person, there is a beauty of our moral being, which is natural virtue; and in like manner there is a beauty, there is a perfection, of the intellect. . . .The artist puts before him beauty of feature and form; the poet, beauty of mind; the preacher, the beauty of grace: then intellect too, I repeat, has its beauty, and it has those who aim at it. To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression, is an object as intelligible. . .as the cultivation of virtue, while, at the same time, it is absolutely distinct from it.

This too is an audacious idea. Sure, we’re used to the argument that a university should emphasize the “liberal arts,” not simply offering specialized or pre-vocational disciplines. But Newman’s critique is much broader. If you are thinking about a university in terms of grades, programs, and majors, he is saying, and not (so to speak) the intellectual personalities you are forming, then you are missing the mark entirely. It’s not clear whether any existing university at all has the right goal, on Newman’s view.

2. Greg Piper, doing his thing at The College Fix, reports on how University of Michigan administrators have run afoul of this thing called the First Amendment, and are shutting down a formal “Bias Response Team” that was little more than a home for campus SJWs. From the piece:

Speech First’s inaugural lawsuit against a university bias response team was not looking so good in the summer of 2018.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the UMich team, saying it does not have “a lot of teeth” and accused students aren’t compelled to talk to the team.

More than a year later, the 6th Circuit ordered her to reconsider a preliminary injunction. “Even if an official lacks actual power to punish,” as the university repeatedly claimed about the BRT, “the threat of punishment from a public official who appears to have punitive authority can be enough to produce an objective chill,” the majority opinion said.

Some of the main targets of “verbal bias grievances” at UMich were classroom discussions and faculty in particular, according to public records The Fix obtained covering spring 2018.

The settlement binds the university to not reinstate the definitions of “bullying” and “harassing” that it removed in the wake of Speech First’s lawsuit, and to not reinstate the BRT.

Though the university encourages “anyone who feels they have been harmed or negatively impacted” to report a campus climate concern, both the settlement and CCS page emphasize that the replacement team is “not a disciplinary body, cannot impose discipline, and does not require participation in any aspect of CCS’s work.”

3. At Law & Liberty, the eminent scholar Daniel J. Mahoney expounds on the 30th anniversary of the collapse of European Communism. From the essay:

For all their differences, and they were often significant, it might be said that Havel, John Paul II, and Solzhenitsyn all succumbed to a (very qualified) “utopia” of their own. They dreamed of a new kind of society, where freedom was accompanied by “repentance and self-limitation” (Solzhenitsyn); where the Catholic spirit informed a Polish democracy that valued persons as persons (John Paul II), and defended an understanding of free politics rooted in moral judgment and a civility that went much deeper than good manners (Havel). Solzhenitsyn knew that evil could never be expunged from the soul and the world and fully appreciated that all ideological revolutions (which he also called “bloody, physical ones”) only lead to tyranny, coercion, unprecedented mendacity, and a cruelty and fanaticism that ignored the inescapable drama of good and evil in the human soul.

But Solzhenitsyn hoped that democratic man might learn to pay more attention to his soul and overcome, at least in part, “the excessive engrossment in everyday life” in modern, democratic societies that he lamented in the Harvard Address of 1978. Havel speaks for all of our heroes when he wrote in his chapter “Politics, Morality, and Civility” from 1992’s Summer Meditations that a call for a conception of liberty and human dignity that does not ignore the concerns of the soul has nothing to do with some naïve hope that the internal struggle in each human soul between good and evil may one day come to an end. There will never be a heaven on earth, Havel insisted: such projects, always ideological in character, have been forever shattered and exposed by the evil, utopian enterprises of the twentieth century: “The world has had the worst experiences with utopian thinkers who promised all that.” And as Solzhenitsyn wrote in 1993, fraternity can never be imposed politically, through soul-crushing despotism. We need to return to the great anti-totalitarian wisdom of the twentieth century so that we don’t lose sight of these essential truths. Human nature can never be fundamentally changed, all three would agree. But while firmly and unequivocally castigating utopian and ideological “bloody and physical revolutions,” and their accompanying “socialist projects” that led to violence and lies on an unprecedented level, Solzhenitsyn holds out hope for a “moral revolution” over the historical horizon, that might elevate our souls while adding moral content to our precious political and civil liberties. But he concedes that this is a “new phenomenon which we have yet to discover, discern, and bring to life.” One might speak of the bon usage of utopia that at the same time acknowledges that theocracy and despotism do nothing to protect and promote the things of the spirit. Solzhenitsyn always insisted that there could be a despotism in the name of the soul just as an inordinate attention to material concerns could distort human freedom and well-being. He was a partisan of mesure or moderation, an equitable balancing of material and spiritual concerns. This is, of course, faithful to the best classical and Christian wisdom. And it has nothing to do with religious fanaticism.

4. At Gatestone Institute, Andrew Ash is all over the BBC Thought Police, petrified at the potential of a single lifted Muslim eyebrow. From the story:

Celebrated interfaith activist Lord Indarjit Singh has sensationally quit BBC Radio 4 after accusing it of behaving like the “thought police”. He alleges that the corporation tried to prevent him discussing a historical Sikh religious figure who stood up to Muslim oppression — in case it caused offence to Muslims, despite a lack of complaints.

The Sikh peer, who has been a contributor on Radio Four’s Thought For The Day programme for more than three decades, is also accusing Radio Four bosses of “prejudice and intolerance” and over-sensitivity in relation to its coverage of Islam, after he says he was “blocked” from discussing the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, under the Mughal emperors in 17th century India.

The 87-year-old peer’s resignation comes as a blow to the show’s flagship segment, that has been a part of Radio Four’s Today programme since 1970, and has been described by Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, as “one of the last remaining places in the public square where religious communities are given a voice in Britain.”

The segment, originally aired on November 28, 2018 — and in spite of Singh’s script containing no criticism of Islam — is the latest in a long line of suspect BBC decisions enforced by seemingly over-zealous producers. “It was like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews,” Singh said. There were, however, no complaints about the segment reported to OFCOM, the government approved broadcasting watchdog.

5. USAID policy has subsidized “smallholder” farmers in Africa and elsewhere, on the premise that targeted support will create economic growth. It’s not working, say American Enterprise Institute experts John Beghin and Vincent H. Smith, who argue that the time has come for a paradigm shift. From their paper:

The prevailing paradigm for aid heavily relies on improving smallholder subsistence farmers’ productivity to generate growth and development in the agricultural sector. Here we identify and evaluate this paradigm’s shortcomings in terms of the modest outcomes that have been achieved and those that appear attainable. These include the impacts of programs based on the smallholder paradigm on productivity and their substantial limitations as mechanisms for fostering region- and countrywide economic growth and development.

For smallholder farms, market participation and adoption of commercial inputs and technology are difficult because of inadequate scale and size. This conclusion is based on a body of new evidence showing that midsize farmers in developing countries, especially in Africa, are more productive and have more human capital than smallholders. These midsize farms adopt mechanization, use commercial inputs, and enable labor to flow out of subsistence agriculture into more productive farms and other sectors of the economy.

The smallholder and subsistence farmer paradigm is a cornerstone of USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative and other agricultural development projects. USAID is not alone. Many development agencies in other countries, and several international organizations, have adopted the same paradigm. As a result, those agencies also generally pursue agricultural development policies based on smallholders and their potential to produce more food.

However, the premise that the smallholder is the vehicle for widespread agricultural productivity growth is flawed or, alternatively, has hit its limits. Unequivocally, the focus on smallholder agriculture has contributed to greater food security for subsistence households by mitigating their vulnerability to the consequences of adverse weather, health, and other shocks. However, it is the wrong linchpin if the objective is to increase sector-wide agricultural output and agricultural productivity growth. Benefits from economies of scale and size are multiple, especially in marketing and adopting commercial practices and technologies. The prospects for agricultural output and productivity growth based on small-scale and subsistence farmers are essentially limited because of the resource constraints they face.

6. Related: At The American Conservative, James Bovard explains how USAID bucks makes democracies more kleptocratic. From the analysis:

Transparency International, which publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, shows that corruption surged in Ukraine during the late 1990s and remains at obscene levels (though recent years have shown slight improvements). Taylor was ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, when corruption sharply worsened despite hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid. Ukraine is now ranked as the 120th least corrupt nation in the world—lower than Egypt and Pakistan, two other major U.S. aid recipients. What Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is to the NFL, Taylor appears to be to the anti-corruption cause.

Bribing foreign politicians to encourage honest government makes as much sense as distributing free condoms to encourage abstinence. Rather than encouraging good governance practices, foreign aid is more likely to produce kleptocracies, or governments of thieves. As a Brookings Institution analysis observed, “The history of U.S. assistance is littered with tales of corrupt foreign officials using aid to line their own pockets, support military buildups, and pursue vanity projects.” And both American politicians and bureaucrats are want to continue the aid gravy train, regardless of how foreign regimes waste the money or use it to repress their own citizens.

If U.S. aid was effective, Ukraine would have become a rule of law paradise long ago. The country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, may be sincere in his efforts to root out corruption. But it is an insult to both him and his nation to pretend that Ukraine cannot clean up its act without help from Donald Trump. The surest way to reduce foreign corruption is to end foreign aid.

BONUS: The ChiComs are utter, utter barbarians. In Haaretz, David Stavrou tells the story of Sayragul Sauytbay, who reveals the atrocities inflicted daily upon the Uyghur minorities imprisoned in the Red China government’s “reeducation” camps / hellholes. From the piece:

STOCKHOLM – Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 A.M. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread.

Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.

Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.

I met with Sauytbay three times, once in a meeting arranged by a Swedish Uyghur association and twice, after she agreed to tell her story to Haaretz, in personal interviews that took place in Stockholm and lasted several hours, all together. Sauytbay spoke only Kazakh, and so we communicated via a translator, but it was apparent that she spoke in a credible way. During most of the time we spoke, she was composed, but at the height of her recounting of the horror, tears welled up in her eyes. Much of what she said corroborated previous testimony by prisoners who had fled to the West. Sweden granted her asylum, because in the wake of her testimony, extradition to China would have placed her in mortal danger.

Baseballery

What do Eli Grba (“Pat, I would like to buy a vowel”) and Vaughn Eshelman have in common? If you thought, expansion drafts, you’d be right. And for having particular places in them.

Grba was the first man drafted in baseball’s first-ever expansion draft, which took place on December 14, 1960. The spot starter and relief pitcher for the Yankees (he had a 6–4 record with a 3.68 ERA in 1960) was picked up by the new Los Angeles Angels (the particular selection suggested Casey Stengel, who had been recently fired as the Bronx Bombers’ manager) and started the franchise’s first game, hurling a complete-game 7–2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on April 11, 1961 at Memorial Stadium. He’d go on to compile a 20–24 record over three seasons for the Angels, making his last Major League appearance in August of 1963, followed by a few more years tooling around in the minors and the Mexican League.

One odd claim to fame: Grba was on the Yankees’ roster for the 1960 World Series, and appeared once — as a pinch runner. He was the only Yankee pitcher who did not actually pitch in the Series.

As for Eshelman, his distinction is that he was the last player ever selected in MLB’s six expansion drafts. That occurred on November 18, 1997, when the newbie Tampa Bay Devil Rays grabbed as Pick #70 the southpaw pitcher, who in the previous three seasons had compiled a 15–9 record for the Boston Red Sox, appearing in 83 games (he started 30 — none ever a complete game) and racking up a chubby 6.07 ERA. He never pitched for Tampa Bay, or in another MLB game (he kicked around in the minors until 2001).

But let’s give Eshelman a little hurrah: In his first two appearances for the Red Sox — May 2, 1985 at Yankee Stadium and May 7, 1995 at Tiger Stadium — the rookie pitched a combined 13 scoreless innings, and if you add the first five frames of his next appearance (May 13, 1995 at Fenway, which proved a 6–4 win over the Yankees), his first 18 innings of MLB action were scoreless. And not many people can make that claim.

A Dios

On this day, especially, as the old line in the old song goes, pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you. You have been warned.

Also, taking advantage of your captive audience state, my boy Andy is running for the Board of Education in Milford, CT (First District) and if you vote there, please do so, for him, if not early, then surely often. If you don’t vote there, and have no relatives at the Milford Cemetery who you can convince to back my offspring, then consider praying for his victory.

God’s Blessings on You and All Souls Who Can Benefit from Our Prayers,

Jack Fowler, who believes that he will be lucky if he catches the last train to Purgatory, and can be told why he will miss it at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Dear Weekend Jolter,

It might come to that. To Uncle Sam or his Cousin Columbia telling you what you can and cannot say (next comes  . . . think!). Folks, I kid you not, the First Amendment is under duress, under assault, from determined punks and jackasses who think the Constitution is nothing more than fading ink on a piece of old, dead tree. Its words, its utterances, its protections — these are the things and thoughts of dead slaveholders.

Rights? Yes, we have them, but they are of the Piehole-Shuttage variety. More akin to Miranda than anything James Madison promulgated. Leftists are Heck-bent to prevent you (yes, you) from sprechen die conservative. The manifestation of this is found in National Review v. Mann, which may be headed to the Supreme Court. We’ll know in early November if SCOTUS will take up this pressing case, about which you can be briefed here.

Here’s the message, and the ask: NR is defending itself against this amazingly funded leftist assault — and in doing this NR is also defending your right to free speech. This prompts us to ask our besties and BFFs to sing a song of sixpence — well, since that might only be worth 50 cents US, think 100 or even 1,000 times sixpence.

Our 2019 Fall Webathon seeks to raise general funds, much of which will be allocated to our legal costs in National Review v. Mann. The drive’s goal is to raise $275,000. So far, over 1,600 people have contributed a total surpassing $165,000. God bless each and every one of them. But we could use double that number, frankly. Which is where you come in.

Before you get to all the goodies below with which this missive will thrill you, I ask, directly: Make a contribution. Especially if you have been an NR — I think the correct term is junkie — all these years, your uneasy conscience uneasily sidestepping these twice-yearly appeals, knowing down deep, and not so deep, that NRO is functioning because good people have made it a cause and provided material relief, which in turn has made your ability to enjoy NRO a reality.

That in turn makes you know, down deep, and not so deep, that the right thing to do is to follow their lead and example and make a donation. Shall we say, finally? We shall. Do that here. Don’t do that . . . here. Whatever you do or don’t do, God bless. Now, away we go . . .

Editorials

1. The Syria pull-out, empowering Turkey madman Erdogan, was an ignominious retreat, engineered for President Trump. From our editorial:

The process was atrocious. Trump didn’t consult with the military and foreign-policy professionals around him or those on the ground, leading to a chaotic U.S. response as events unfolded. More important, cutting loose the Kurds who had recently sacrificed so much to be our front-line fighters in the successful campaign against the ISIS caliphate was dishonorable. Turkish and Turkish-allied forces immediately pushed civilians from border areas and engaged in atrocities, most notably the assassination of the Kurdish politician and activist Hevrin Khalaf.

The defenses made of Trump’s pullback don’t hold up very well. One is that we only had about 100 troops on the Turkish border, not enough to stop an invasion. True, but such minimal trip-wire forces have stayed the hand of much more formidable adversaries, namely the Eastern Bloc at the Berlin Wall and North Korea on the DMZ. Another is that Turkey is a NATO ally that we didn’t want to skirmish with on the ground. Yes, but this logic would have acted even more powerfully on Turkey, which would have had much more to lose if it killed any of our troops. The fact is that Trump could have held the Turks back if he hadn’t been motivated by a long-standing desire to begin liquidating our commitments in the Middle East — even the smallest, safest, and most useful commitments.

Baker, One of Your Dozens Please, Tasty and Hot and Covered with Sprinkles and Pleasing to the Conservative Palate!

1. As if problems on the Number 7 train aren’t enough, Bernie came to Queens on Saturday. Kyle Smith profiles his Weekend at Bernie’s Rally. From the piece:

Sanders’s speech was characteristically Sandernista stuff: Droning, badgering, meandering, enervating, needlessly, endlessly long. Sanders is the kind of guy who could promise every American free Netflix for life and still make it sound like a shut-up-and-take-your-medicine speech. The man is pure Castro oil. As his brillo-pad-on-sandpaper voice flayed the eardrums, the Bernie signs drooped. Even his most ardent fans looked at each other like they were ankle-deep in a bear trap. Whether Sanders was being uselessly vague (“Our legislation. Will hold. The fossil-fuel industry. Accountable.”) or issuing absurdly unrealistic blue-sky promises (“Our program will eliminate homelessness in America!”), he sounded completely irrelevant to 2019. Five years older than the oldest Baby Boomer, already ten years past the average life expectancy of a man born in 1941, he is not the man to lead America through the 2020s. He’s the man at the deli who wants his tuna-on-rye special RETOASTED, THE RIGHT WAY THIS TIME.

To give some sense of how detached from actual American reality Bernie Sanders sounded, one of his introducers was the beach-ball-shaped remnant of the Beach Boys era Michael Moore, who made multiple references to Franklin Roosevelt as if the 3.7 percent unemployment rate and roughly 50 percent bump in the stock market since Donald Trump was elected mean that it’s 1932 again. “They say Bernie’s too old,” Moore bellowed. “Oh yeah? Well, here’s what’s too old: The electoral college is too old!” Sick burn, Mike. Any bets on which of those two old things lasts longer?

Moore at least stayed on message, unlike Tiffany Cabán, the “queer, Latina” (her words) who narrowly lost the Queens D.A. race last year and on Saturday declined to indulge the crowd when it chanted, “You were robbed!” Cabán’s parents grew up in a socialist wonderland: New York City public housing. As the Bernie rally was staged right across the street from the largest public-housing project in the Western Hemisphere, the Woodbridge Houses, the attempted messaging was muddled. The New York City Housing Authority, dreamed up by liberals and socialists and run by them more or less continuously ever since, has been so poorly managed by the Che Guevara-quoting mayor of New York City that a judge turned over management of it to . . . the administration of Donald J. Trump. An examplar to the world, it is not. Just ask Cabán! “My parents,” she said, “grew up in public housing in the Woodside Houses [nearby in Queens]. . . . They grew up with mold, chipping paint, asbestos, crumbling ceilings, nameless serious health risks, and my parents had to live with it. . . . Early on our family learned that government didn’t really care about us.” Do go on about why we need more of it, then.

2. Kevin Williamson argues that Elizabeth Warren would treat the wealthy like penned-in sheep, there to be milked and shorn. Ewe are going to want to read this. From the piece:

The class-warfare dreams of the American Left do not have a great deal to do with its professed desire to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state here. The U.S. tax system already is much more progressive than is typical of Europe, including the Scandinavian countries, and by some measures is the most progressive in the developed world. The northern-European welfare states do not differ markedly from the United States in how they tax the wealthy; they differ in that they also tax the middle classes heavily, which the United States does not. There is in fact much about the Swedish tax regime that a billionaire might prefer: There is no inheritance tax, no gift tax, very little property tax (it is capped at about $800 a year), relatively low and straightforwardly administered business taxes, etc. Because Sweden is well-governed, it treats its tax regime as a question of revenue rather than a question of so-called social justice, which is why the inheritance and gift taxes so beloved among American class warriors were scrapped: They generated practically no revenue (about 0.2 percent of total tax income), they were difficult to administer, and they created all sorts of perverse incentives that were not in Sweden’s long-term social interest. And so it is no more: That is how intelligently administered countries do things.

But not the United States.

The basic tax situation is similar in the United States, with inheritance taxes producing barely measurable federal revenue, about one-half of 1 percent of the total. They are of very little concern to most families, but they are of intense concern to a few families with lots of property, often in the form of a business. These families will sometimes take extraordinary steps to avoid paying the tax, though many of those near the threshold for paying the estate tax stay under by relying on the simpler alternative of maxing out their allowance of tax-free gifts to children, children’s spouses, grandchildren, etc., every year for the last several decades of their lives. That won’t do much for the hectomillionaire and billionaire set, but they have options, too.

3. Roman Catholicism continues its Francis-led free-fall, says Dan Hitchens. From the piece:

In the last 48 hours there have been two big Vatican stories. First, revelations about the Holy See’s financial crisis; second, and more bizarrely, a furious dispute over statues being thrown into the Tiber. But really it’s all one story, the big story of contemporary Catholicism: a disastrous failure of leadership at the top of the Church.

Vatican finances may not usually be a subject to set the pulse racing, but the last month has been dramatic: Vatican police raided offices and confiscated computers, after finding — to quote a leaked search decree — “serious indications of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, money-laundering, and self-laundering.” Other leaks suggested that as much as $560 million of Catholics’ donations to the Vatican were invested in speculative deals that Vatican investigators described as “reckless.” The pattern, even at this early stage of the inquiry, is familiar: The faithful have trusted a leadership class that has done little to deserve their trust.

Indeed, donations are already falling — partly because of the abuse crisis, where once again the Vatican has been less than transparent. In 2017 it emerged that Pope Francis had reduced sanctions against some abusers. Then last year, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the U.S. made a set of spectacular accusations, claiming there had been a concerted effort, featuring many senior figures up to and including the pope, to protect Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from numerous allegations of abuse. A letter from the Catholic Women’s Forum, bearing almost 50,000 signatures, asked for a Vatican response to the ambassador’s claims. None came.

Silence and confusion have recently become Vatican trademarks, not least where doctrinal questions are concerned. For instance, an ambiguous papal document was used to claim that the Church now blesses divorce and remarriage; instead of clarifying that the Church could never do so, the Vatican allowed the confusion to grow, and when the pope did speak, he piled ambiguity on ambiguity.

4. President Pence? Rich Lowry calls out the idiocy. From the column:

A lot of Trump supporters are going to want to blame the Republican establishment even if Trump loses in 2020 with the backing of the united party apparatus. Imagine what they will think if a couple of dozen Republican senators decide to deny him the opportunity to run for reelection, without a single voter having a say on his ultimate fate. It’s hard to come up with any scenario better designed to stoke the populist furies of Trump’s most devoted voters.

Trump himself isn’t going to get convicted by the Senate and say: “Well, I’m a little disappointed, to be honest. But it was a close call, and Mike Pence is a great guy, and I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to serve in the White House for more than three years.”

He won’t go away quietly to lick his wounds. He won’t delete his Twitter account. He won’t make it easy on anyone. He will vent his anger and resentment at every opportunity. It will be “human scum” every single day.

And it’s not as though the media are going to lose their interest in the most luridly telegenic politician that we’ve ever seen. The mainstream press would be delighted to see Trump destroyed, yet sad to bid him farewell. The obvious way to square the circle would be to continue to give Trump lavish coverage in his post-presidency. He’d be out of the White House but still driving screaming CNN chyrons every other hour.

In other words, Trump’s removal wouldn’t be a fresh start for Pence and the GOP; it would be more like getting stuck in the poisonous epilogue of the Trump era, awaiting the inevitable advent of the Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, or Pete Buttigieg era.

5. Brexit madness prompts Dan McLaughlin to deep dive into UK’s history of political coalitions. From the piece:

All political coalitions evolve naturally over time; issues come and go, and so do constituencies. But it can be perilous to change a party’s stripes too abruptly. For a political party or movement, there’s both an identity and a community formed from the combination of the voters it pursues, its positions on issues, the nature of its leadership, and the way it presents itself to the public. It is always easier to kick out politicians and chase away voters than it is to bring new supporters into the community and develop new leaders with a new identity. The experience of the British Tories in the mid 19th century offers a vivid illustration, one that carries cautions for today’s conservative parties, from American Republicans to the Conservative party of today’s U.K.

The British Parliament before 1832 was in only the vaguest sense a democratic or representative institution. High property-owning thresholds for voting, unevenly distributed districts, and the division of power between the elected House of Commons and the hereditary House of Lords all combined to dilute its democratic character. Still, from the time it began meeting regularly in the early 1700s, Parliament was a legislature with two principal factions — the Tories and the Whigs — that had distinct constituencies and points of view.

The Whigs, as defenders of parliamentary prerogatives against the throne, were the dominant faction for the bulk of the 1700s, but by the end of the American Revolution, the Tories had surpassed them. Between 1783 and 1830, including the entire quarter-century of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath, the Tories ran every ministry but one, in a unity government that lasted barely a year. The prestige of wartime leadership attached to men such as William Pitt the Younger, and war heroism to the Duke of Wellington. Their status as a long-governing majority party fostered a diversity of views within the party, elevating men such as George Canning and Robert Peel who were not orthodox Tories.

6. Mark Mills says the Nobel Committee has batteries on the brain. From the analysis:

Today, Asian nations are furiously building new battery factories, with a forecast 400 percent increase in output within the decade. But even that still won’t dent humanity’s energy=storage needs, not even if we limit our focus to cars and grids, which account for roughly half of all energy use. And that says nothing about costs.

Using today’s Nobel-class lithium magic, it still costs over 100 times more to store energy in a battery than it costs to store the same amount of energy as natural gas or oil. Even a twofold improvement in lithium technology won’t come close to closing that cost gap and bring us any closer to a “rechargeable” and “fossil fuel-free” world.

Storing consumables — for weeks, not just a few days — has been central to civilization since pre-history, whether it’s water, materials, food, or fuel. Most are easy to store, but not so electricity. Electrons, as one may recall from high-school physics, are like-charged and vigorously repel each other. Clever physics and engineering are required to convince huge quantities of electrons to “cohabit.”

Innovators have been trying, since ancient times, to “catch lightning in a bottle” — an expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin. While archaeologists at the Baghdad Museum discovered a Mesopotamian battery dated to 250 b.c., the modern battery dates to 1800 (Italian physicist Alessandro Volta) and to 1859 with the lead-acid battery (French physicist Gaston Planté). The 1970s discovery of a lithium option (by a physicist and two chemists) was a huge leap, but far from enough to meet planetary aspirations.

7. Victor Davis Hanson finds America is engaged in an untenable alliance with Turkey, the pal of so many of our enemies. From the column:

Under Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has become NATO’s only non-democratic nation. It’s also NATO’s only Muslim-majority member. Erdogan has been trying to re-create Turkey as a new Ottoman imperial power. He feels no allegiance to Western-style democracy.

During the Obama administration, Erdogan snubbed the obsequious American attempts to promote Turkey as the cornerstone of America’s Middle East policy. President Trump should remember that and perhaps reconsider his own sometimes appeasing outreach to Erdogan.

Turkey opposes, if not detests, almost every American ally in the region, and befriends almost every U.S. enemy.

It despises Israel, aids its enemies and hopes for its dissolution. Turkey is currently attacking the U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria. It works against the pro-American Sisi regime in Egypt. Turkish violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean are a common occurrence, as are aggressive simulated attacks on Greek aircraft.

8. Jon Lerner argues that troop presence does not translate to “endless war.” From the analysis:

We keep troops in Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Cuba, and the Persian Gulf region for a reason. It is not to prolong “endless wars” that are in no sense actual wars. It is to protect American interests in preventing future wars.

What about Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

We have roughly a thousand troops in Syria, about the same as in Cuba. It’s true that there is active combat in Syria, but it hasn’t much involved Americans. In the entire eight-year Syrian civil war, there have been a total of eight American service deaths. While even one death is tragic, more U.S. troops are killed in training accidents every year than in our entire time in Syria. This low level of U.S. participation doesn’t seem to fit the “endless war” thesis any more than our presence in Cuba does.

Beginning in 2003, we had a major war in Iraq. There have been over 4,500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. Of those, 81, or fewer than 2 percent, occurred in the last seven years. The U.S. troop level in Iraq peaked at 166,000. Today, it’s around 5,000. So, if our presence in Iraq constitutes an “endless war,” then we are 97 percent of the way toward ending it.

Afghanistan might be a clearer example of an “endless war.”

9. John Hirschauer writes about Kentucky’s crazy and dangerous law regarding those “incompetent” to stand trial. From the beginning of the report:

In February of this year, Cane Madden of Kentucky was released after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. Per arrest records, Madden was accused of biting the victim and “removing a large chunk of [her] face.”

Face-ripping is the sort of behavior that you imagine wouldn’t elude the grasp of the prosecutor’s office. Not, it seems, in Kentucky.

Madden was arrested — his sixth arrest, with a rap sheet including burglary, assault, and threatening to kill a child — but soon after his arrest, a clearly deranged Madden was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC), the state’s competency restoration facility, for the entirety of the 30 days allowed by statute. Still unable to aid in his own defense at the end of 30 days, Madden was placed by Judge Annie O’Connell on an additional 60-day hold, the longest extension permitted by Kentucky law.

The 60-day extension came and went, and Madden was still unable to stand trial. Judge O’Connell said, since he was “unlikely to regain competency in the foreseeable future,” the sexual assault charges against him would be dropped. The burden then fell on the prosecution to civilly commit Madden —an obvious danger to the community — to one of Kentucky’s psychiatric hospitals for treatment. They succeeded.

Later, however, the hospital released Madden, insisting it had no legal standing to hold him. Why? He didn’t meet the state’s strict standards for involuntary commitment.

10. Daniel Tenreiro reads Andrew McAfee’s More from Less and concludes that yep, capitalism will save the world. From the review:

Last month, Greta Thunberg, the Messiah of the environmental movement, told delegates at the United Nations Climate Summit that addressing climate change was at odds with “fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” This view is not confined to teenage protesters. The same case was made in a 2017 New York Times opinion piece titled “The Climate Crisis? It’s Capitalism, Stupid.” Prominent thinkers such as Naomi Klein and George Monbiot have spent years arguing that free enterprise and environmental protection are fundamentally incompatible. Indeed, recent policy proposals such as the Green New Deal concede as much. Rather than curbing pollution, climate activists have set their sights on the capitalist system as a whole.

But they’re wrong, says MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee. In his new book, More from Less, he details how decreasing resource usage has coincided with economic growth. Until roughly 1970, American GDP grew in lockstep with energy consumption. Increasing output required more raw inputs, thereby harming the environment. However, since 1970 — and, coincidentally, the inaugural Earth Day — economic growth and resource usage have decoupled entirely. Whereas real GDP has nearly quadrupled, energy consumption has barely budged.

This is the result of a process McAfee calls “dematerialization,” which refers to two general phenomena. First, goods require less raw material. Aluminum soda cans, for example, have decreased in weight from 85 grams in 1996 to 12.75 grams in 2011. Buildings and cars have also gotten lighter. Second, and more significant, technological advances obviate the need for increased material output. In the 1990s, the features now available in a smartphone would have required numerous distinct gadgets (e.g., camera, calculator, clock radio, tape recorder). Now, an eight-ounce handheld device suffices. As a result, American consumption of steel, copper, fertilizer, timber, and paper has decreased — not just per capita but in absolute terms. As we get richer, we consume less.

11. Armond White says a lousy civics lesson is in store for those who see Black and Blue. From the review:

Every scene of Black and Blue teaches a progressive civics lesson. Example: The film begins with rookie New Orleans cop Alicia West (Naomie Harris) jogging-while-black when she is stopped by white patrolmen who are stunned to discover: “She’s blue!”

West’s harassment and the suspicion of her are the point of this scene and of the entire film, which exploits public distrust of police — and even distrust by one of their own. The background of black cops’ social expectation and racial indoctrination, detailed by Charles Burnett in The Glass Shield (1994), is ignored.

Set in a post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans of dilapidated, still-unrenovated neighborhoods — the result of natural catastrophe, local ineptitude, and government corruption — Black and Blue bruises the image of modern urban America. In addition to furthering the bad reputation that cops have suffered since the 2014 Ferguson protests, the film perpetuates civilian negativity. It’s a thriller that sells cynicism: skepticism as entertainment.

Heroine West is an Afghanistan war veteran who came home and joined the force, looking for a purpose. (“I want to help,” she explains. “Food banks and inner-city programs help,” she is told.) West’s ideals are shaken when she discovers systemic corruption among a squad of narcs. The only new gimmick is that West’s body cam — standard issue after Obama’s response to Ferguson — records dirty cops executing several black drug dealers. This ignites a subplot in which West’s former disenfranchised homies also turn against her. Behaving like enraged activists, the lawless New Orleans blacks fight against the cops, leaving West in the lurch. Is she more blue than she is black.

12. Next month the voters in Washington State will face a referendum on racial preferences in government. Heather Mac Donald has the down-lo on the confusing choice voters have. From the article:

Voting in Washington has begun on a ballot initiative to overturn that state’s ban on racial preferences in government. Voters outlawed racial preferences in 1998, as part of a mini-wave of eight such state initiatives, led by California anti-preference crusader Ward Connerly in the 1990s. The momentum behind that push for color-blindness in government has long since petered out, as identity politics became ascendant. The advocates of race-neutral government hiring, contracting, and college admissions are now on the defensive, fighting relentless efforts to undo their work.

In April 2019, the Washington state legislature hurriedly passed Initiative 1000 to bring preferences back into government policy. Now voters are facing a confusing choice. Though the referendum currently before them, Referendum 88, was instigated by racial-preference opponents, overwhelmingly Asian, to overturn Initiative 1000, a yes on the referendum would confirm passage of Initiative 1000 and reinstate preferences, and a no vote would preserve the pre-Initiative 1000 color-blind status quo.

Initiative 1000 has adopted the specious rhetoric of “holistic” college admissions, rhetoric that the Supreme Court, to its discredit as a supposedly rational jurisprudential body, has embraced. Race cannot be the “sole qualifying factor” in awarding or denying a public benefit, according to the initiative. This requirement allegedly prevents racial preferences from turning into quotas. These are the same claims made on behalf of “holistic admissions,” a supposedly real and definable practice that is meant to keep racial admissions preferences constitutional by avoiding a quota system. We are supposed to believe that admissions offices in a “holistic” regime make highly individualized decisions about applicants that award only the slightest “tip” to candidates on the basis of race. We are supposed to believe that the admissions office has NO idea what number of minorities it is shooting for, even though the racial percentages of any class remain stable from year to year, as was shown in the ongoing litigation over Harvard’s racial preferences.

13. Senators Chuck Grassley and Bill Cassidy believe there is a way to make pharmaceutical prices more affordable. From the piece:

The drug Duexis is an example of this. Duexis is a combination of famotidine (trade name Pepcid) and ibuprofen (Motrin). A 90-day supply of over-the-counter Pepcid costs approximately $20, and 100 tablets of Motrin cost approximately $12. Yet when these two are combined into the drug Duexis, the price rises to approximately $2,600 for a 90-day supply. Congress must ensure that regulators of the industry use the proper metrics when determining what constitutes innovation.

The status quo presents too many opportunities for manufacturers to game the system. Until Congress acted at the end of September, manufacturers could introduce “authorized generics” — drugs that are produced and sold bnby the same manufacturer as the brand-name drug — to the market in a way that reduced the amount of money they were required to rebate back to Medicaid programs. This practice ripped off taxpayers and kept prices artificially high. In the funding bill passed at the end of September, Congress included a portion of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) to end this practice.

The trick is to rein in gimmicks and abuses while maintaining incentives for true innovation that advances science and leads to discovery of new cures. There mustn be a system that facilitates breakthrough treatments and miracle cures, but it needs to be sustainable for patients and taxpayers.

PDPRA, which passed the Senate Finance Committee in July, begins to restore the balance between incentivizing new drugs and returning true market forces to protect the interests of patients and taxpayers. Too oftennn we see the same drug receive year-after-year, double-digit price increases without the justification of innovation, shortages, or other market forces. No matter how high the cost arbitrarily increases, Medicare pays the bill. By requiring manufacturers to rebate the increased amount by which drugs covered under Medicare Part D exceed the rate of inflation, we protect taxpayers from bad actors exploiting Medicare and taxpayers. Manufacturers can still set the price at the amount they want, but the taxpayer will not automatically pick up the tab.

Excerpts of Some Great Forthcoming Books Are Front and Center in the New November 11, 2019 Issue of National Review.

Served up here are four tempting selections from the new issue. What more does one need to say?

1. Admitted Douglas Murray fan-girl Madeleine Kearns checks out The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity, his new book. From the review: 

The book wades into four thorny issues—“gay,” “women,” “race,” and “trans”—marking new territory for the author, whose last book was about Islam and immigration. No tidy resolutions are found in its pages. Rather there are questions—precisely the right questions—giving the reader permission to think, without telling her what to think. “I hope that this book will help clear some terrain across which afterwards other people may more safely pass,” he explains in his introduction, invoking as a metaphor the Great Viper, a mine-clearing device used by the British army during the Second World War.

Our culture is a much longer, more sprawling river than is often imagined. Murray treks upstream to the polluted waters of contemporary philosophy, before heading back down to pop culture’s shallower pools. Near the source of these waters, Murray discovers Foucault’s “perverse” and “dishonest” obsession with power, as well as his disregard for charity and forgiveness. He finds latent Marxism, its anti-capitalist formula applied to new structures of “privilege,” ones that relate to identity. The new formula insists that “the power of the patriarchal white males must be taken away and shared around more fairly with the relevant minority groups.”

In the academy, Murray encounters deconstructionists—perhaps more accurately labeled destructionists—and, nearby, social constructionists and others who have breathed life into some staggeringly mad ideas (e.g., that gender is entirely a “performance” untethered to biology). The new “disciplines” are fool’s gold. Queer studies, black studies, gender studies, whiteness studies—all explore new “interlocking oppressions.” Murray observes wryly that no accompanying “map of utopia” has ever been (or, presumably, ever will be) provided. So what do we nourish ourselves with in the meantime, while awaiting salvation? Shame, anger, confusion, and despair— all force-fed to the young, whom the author advises us to pity.  The absurd cannot be explained

2. Kevin Williamson ain’t just riding along in his automobile: He has his kesiter on the seats of some big-honkin’ SUVs, and tells of its myth and magic and uber-conveyance. From the piece:

This is the golden age of the SUV. The truly modern American SUV appeared in 1984 with the introduction of the Jeep Cherokee, which was preceded by the more straightforwardly truckish Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer, among others, but the species’ genetic antecedents go back much further than that. Like wristwatches and khaki pants, the SUV has its origins in the military, which is probably why it still remains associated with a little jolt of virile swag, even as its main purpose is cocooning suburban mommies in aluminum and steel as they fetch a load of 2 percent and Honey Nut Cheerios from Albertsons. After the Great War and its muddy horror of trench warfare, the idea of mounting station-wagon bodies on four-wheel-drive chassis caught on around the world—the utility end of “sport-utility” was obvious enough.

Chevrolet sold its first Carryall Suburban in 1935. It was a commercial truck with three rows of bench seats surrounded by a big squared-off body with windows, basically a cargo van for human cargo. As Dave Cole of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., told Automotive News, it was a people mover, “something to haul the miners to the mines.” All utility, no sport. It cost $675, or under $13,000 adjusted for inflation—not too bad, really. (No AC, no GPS, no USB port, no backup camera, no bumpers . . .) The pieces were all there: the passenger-carrying capacity of the station wagon, the off-road capabilities of the Willys military-derived civilian vehicles, the shape and utility of a pickup truck with a camper shell over the bed—that, and the great American delusion that we’re all just one split-second decision away from lighting off for the territories, that we need the capability to load up our vehicles with a half-dozen passengers and a whole lot of gear—and any gear will do, really; it’s not the hobby that counts, but the gear—and go off-roading to wherever it is we’re going on the other side of where the asphalt ends.

The Jeep Cherokee quickly gave rise to that great delicious contradiction, the luxury SUV—rough-’n’-ready, rustic, rebellious, utilitarian, eminently capable, and swathed in fine Corinthian leather.(Ricardo Montalbán, the man whose eminently refined Mexican accent made Chrysler upholstery sound so very sexy, was a dedicated NATIONAL REVIEW reader.) The luxury SUV was inevitable: Land Rover’s association with the fancy English country-house set all but ensured its vehicles would end up with London-club interiors, and Toyota’s Landcruiser— which began as a knockoff Land Rover, right down to the name—was sure to follow suit, because that’s what it did. In the United States, both Jeep and Lincoln have a claim for pioneering the luxury SUV, though Bigasstruckus americanusas a species reached its apex with the Cadillac Escalade.

3. From Rick Brookhiser’s new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea, comes this essay on the New York Manumission Society and its role in paving the road for liberty for slaves. From the essay:

On January 25, 1785, nineteen New Yorkers met in the house of John Simmons, innkeeper. The American Revolution had been particularly harsh on New York, which the British had conquered in the grim fall of 1776. Washington’s prudent generalship, and the help of Britain’s longtime enemy France, had won victory by 1781. Yet the enemy had not evacuated the city until the end of 1783. A third of it had burned; all its trees had been cut for firewood. Commerce had only just revived.

The men gathering at Simmons’s house looked to a civic and moral revival. Most of those present were Quakers, many of them interrelated. Robert and Thomas Bowne were descended from an old Quaker family in Flushing. John Murray Sr. and Jr. gave their name to a hill north of the city. Elijah Cock, Effingham and Lawrence Embree, Samuel Franklin, John and William Keese, Edward and Joseph Lawrence, Willet Seaman, and William Shotwell were additional Friends, as Quakers were known. Others in attendance were veterans — James Cogswell, William Goforth, Melancton Smith, and Robert Troup. The meeting was called to order by Troup, a 28-year-old lawyer who had been both a British prisoner of war and a general’s aide at one of America’s great victories, Saratoga. Troup was an amiable young man whom everybody liked; one friend would call him “a better antidote to the spleen than a ton of drugs.” This January meeting had the serious purpose of forming a “Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, and Protecting such of them as have been or may be Liberated.”

In the chaos of the American Revolution, many slaves in and around New York had freed themselves simply by disappearing. Slave catchers, known as man-stealers or blackbirders, hunted for runaways and scooped up free blacks if authentic runaways were not to be found. In November 1784, city authorities had foiled an attempt to spirit away a group of free blacks on a ship bound for either Charleston or the Bay of Honduras.

This was the immediate stimulus for the New Yorkers to meet, but they had larger ends in view. A committee of five — Embree, Franklin, Murray Sr., Smith, and Troup — was appointed to draw up the society’s regulations and bylaws for approval at the next meeting, February 4. This time the society met at the Merchant’s Coffee House, the city’s largest. This was a larger meeting, attended by George Clinton, James Duane, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton.

4. And from Rich Lowry’s forthcoming triumph, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free, we are treated to his strong arguments. From the piece:

It’s not just the intellectuals. American elites are enmeshed in the world of globalization—the enhanced travel and contacts, the multinational corporations, the NGOs. This inclines them to the view that the world is and should be ever more interconnected, and they are often fired by a near-messianic certitude that this trend is associated with the spread of all that is true and good. As [Samuel] Huntington points out, in the 19th century the growing sophistication and continental scale of American business promoted the nationalism of American elites over and against localism; now they promote the transnationalism of American elites over and against nationalism.

Globalization is real and the market a powerful force, but utopianism about trade and technology—supposedly driving us toward a borderless world and inevitable progress—has proven as facile and wrong as any other utopianism.

No, trade with China didn’t radically transform its regime. The general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, has effectively made himself president for life, centralizing power and writing authoritarian “Xi Jinping thought” into the constitution.

No, social media haven’t promoted liberalization. Once upon a time, leaders in tech boasted that, in the words of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Internet is a “force for peace” in the world. That was before it became clear that tech was a powerful tool in the arsenal of Russia and China, that Facebook had played a role in ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and that white nationalists and other extremists use social-media platforms as a tool of radicalization.

And no, the nation isn’t fading away, contrary to what has been constantly predicted by observers who wish it were.

Amity’s Next Book Looks Like It Will Be Her Fifth NYT Bestseller

Our dear pal Amity Shlaes has a big, new, and yep, important (understatement!) book coming out in mid-November: Great Society: A New History. It couldn’t come at a better time: As a new generation of Americans preach Socialism, Amity’s 500-page juggernaut takes us back to the 1960s, when this idiocy wasn’t only advocated: It was tried, and implemented by the old New Deal-loving president, Lyndon Johnson, and even in part by Tricky Dick. The experiment failed: Amity gives a thorough accounting of the economic devastation. Here’s a slice from the book’s terrific introduction:

The reforms of the 1960s nearly always made the federal government the shepherd. Because they were ambitious, and because they demanded selflessness, the reforms sounded great. And the federal shepherd worked hard to make the reforms look as great as they sounded. Ambitious reforms needed time to succeed. It would be a shame if a project aborted because early results didn’t look good. So, for display purposes, presidents emphasized inputs, not results. Congress, too, as the Hoover Institution’s John Cogan has put it, “measured success by labels and dollars attached to legislation”—not by results. The political success of a project mattered more than empirical success. Occasionally, the effort got a new name. The “New Frontier” of Kennedy became Johnson’s “Great Society,” which became the “Great Nation,” and then the “Abundant and Just Society” of Richard Nixon. All the efforts were, however, of a piece in their effort to get to “great.” One can include all three presidencies in a description of a what may be called the Great Society era. In that era, the federal government also redefined its role in the arts, on television and radio, and in public schools. Washington left no area untouched.

In its Great Society endeavor, the country relegated the private sector to the role of consultant, workhorse, and milk cow. And, at first, business went along. Soon enough, however, businesses came to find the 1960s intrusions by the federal government too much of a burden. Federal rules squelched innovation. Federal law made labor too expensive. The 1960s reforms first impinged upon, then violated, what a 1966 candidate for governor of California, the actor Ronald Reagan, called the “creative society.” And soon enough states and towns also grew disturbed. Local authorities discovered that under the polite letters, official visits, and federal funds from Washington operated a competitor that threatened to weaken the states and towns permanently. The New Deal had expanded the federal government so much that for the first time, Washington had surpassed the towns and cities as a presence in the economy. The 1960s reforms seemed designed to finish the job, to squeeze the states and towns out of government altogether. This was true even when the reforms bore names that suggested towns had nothing to fear from Washington, such as the “New Federalism.” Often, the business executives and the mayors noted, these great reforms did not seem to be achieving their goals. Their suspicion mounted as they observed that the incessant rebranding concealed the questionable results of a reform. When an extant index or measure delivered disappointing results, the authorities tinkered with the measure or blithely abolished it altogether. The cooperation of the early 1960s morphed quickly into a public contest. On the one hand stood the federal government and its allies, most often labor unions. On the other hand stood the rest of the nation. This book chronicles that epic clash.

Do get it. Order your copy of Great Society now: Here’s the Amazon link.

And Do You Know Where You Can Discuss the Book with Amity, Face to Face?

Yes, on the National Review 2020 Rhine River Conservative Cruise. She’s one of our speakers! Do check out this cool ad about the sojourn (it takes place April 19–26 on AmaWaterways’ luxurious AmaMora). Of course, you can visit nrcruise.com (it lacks that très cool ad) for complete information.

The Six

1. In City Journal, our old colleague Tracy Lee Simmons investigates a collection of ancient wisdom. From his review:

Back in the 1940s, C. S. Lewis remarked on a trend that he saw gaining steam even among some of his better pupils at Oxford: a belief that books penned by the greatest minds of the previous two or three millennia could be grasped only by credentialed professionals. This instinct steered them away from the satisfactions of primary literature and into the swamps of secondary works expounding upon the original sources. “I have found as a tutor in English Literature,” Lewis wrote, “that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said.” Lewis was not denigrating commentaries; he wrote some formidable ones himself. He was merely making the point that most great writers of the distant past wrote to be read and apprehended by curious minds, not merely to provide fodder for exams and dissertations.

Princeton University Press has recently made the task of heeding Lewis’s admonition to return ad fontes a good deal easier with its Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers series of compact, handsomely bound, pocket-sized translations of a handful of the major works of Greek and Roman authors—works that, as each brief introduction testifies, remain applicable to the lives of thoughtful readers. And they all come with a refreshingly sparse amount of explanatory material interposing itself between authors and readers. These are not school editions; they’re to be read on airplanes and by the fireside with a stiff drink. And they can change lives. Like a truly liberal education of the kind they enrich, these books are eminently useful.

The author choices are sensibly predictable: Cicero, Thucydides, Seneca, and Epictetus, three of whom were active men of affairs as well as deeply reflective thinkers who wrestled with eternal questions, and even dared to answer a few. Those who read these small books thoughtfully will be making a second draft on their education. If your liberal arts curriculum didn’t pass along much of the wisdom encased in these books in return for your tuition dollars, you were cheated. By now, sadly, that includes most of us.

2. At VoegelinView, Daniel Mahoney sees wonderful things in Roger Scruton’s novel, Notes from Underground. From the commentary:

Roger Scruton’s Notes From Underground is in keeping with a small group of classics that truly get to the heart of the totalitarian negation of the real. These are works that deftly combine literature and philosophy, and sometimes theology, too, and speak to the soul as it confronts the demons of modernity. These books include Solzhenitsyn’s magisterial The Gulag Archipelago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and Alain Besancon’s The Falsification of the Good, which gets to the heart of the totalitarian and ideological project to falsify the Good with the help of George Orwell, the author of 1984, and Vladimir Soloviev, the great Russian Christian philosopher and theologian. All of these memorable books confront, with rare philosophical depth and a literary art that captures the greatness and misery of the human soul, the capacity of life and truth to resist a nothingness that is surely demonic. To resist the ideological lie is thus to restore truth—and hope—to their central places in the economy of human things. Notes From Underground is an achievement of the first order.

3. At Law & Liberty, Lee Edwards reflects on Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson, and what their 1964 clash portended, but really meant. From the piece:

It is difficult to imagine two politicians more opposite in their political philosophies than Senator Barry Goldwater, the uncompromising apostle of conservatism, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a true believer in New Deal liberalism.

Goldwater came to Washington, D.C., not to pass new laws but to repeal old ones. Johnson never met a federal program he didn’t like.

The Arizona Republican’s favorite President was Thomas Jefferson; his favorite thinker was Russell Kirk, who ghost-wrote speeches for him. The Texan Democrat’s favorite President was Franklin D. Roosevelt; the political thinker he most resembled was Niccolo Machiavelli. Former LBJ aide Eric Goldman called his boss “Machiavelli in a Stetson.”

Goldwater believed in individuals. Johnson thought in electoral blocs. Goldwater swore by the Constitution, Johnson by the New Deal.

4. More Law & Liberty! Our dear pal Hadley Arkes sees the so-called “conservative” Supreme Court as being a source of downward-spiraling relativism. From his essay:

Last days in the term for the Supreme Court have been days for releasing decisions on the most controversial cases, so watchers of the Court have become used to bracing themselves for some of the worst decisions that the justices can deliver up. Amid the wreckage produced in that culminating week last June, the Court managed to resume its role as the Chief Engine at work in the coarsening of the culture. One of the most notable first steps came years ago in gradually sweeping away the restraints on pornography, applied in a rough but overall useful and salutary way by the States and cities. And now, the Court took another critical step: It struck down the laws that have long worked to bar the use of obscenities in the titles of corporations. A seasoned lawyer in New York pointed out to me many years ago that, if those restraints were not in place, the telephone directories would be filled with names such as the Amherst F–ing Coffee Company.

The case was Iancu v. Brunetti. Erik Brunetti sought a trademark for a brand of streetwear he would call “FUCT”—Friends U Can’t Trust. Close enough to the F-word that the Federal Trademark and Patent Office refused to register the trademark. During the oral argument on the case, Chief Justice Roberts was willing to voice the concern that would spring up at once for ordinary folk: that these kinds of advertisements would be posted in malls where children could see them; but even apart from children, the case raised the question of whether the government should be “facilitating this kind of vulgarity.”

Roberts did not recede from his concerns here even as he concurred with the main opinion written by Justice Kagan, striking deeply at any laws that would impose moral restraints on the names of corporations. The remarkable thing was that Roberts’s concern for opening the floodgates on vulgarity was expressed in terms even more vibrant and fearful in the liberal wing of the Court by Justices Sotomayor and Breyer. In registering those deep qualms, these three judges were described only as “dissenting in part.” And there we find the true puzzle of this case: Virtually all of the justices writing separate opinions revealed their keen awareness of the further, corrosive damage in the culture that this decision was certain to license. Each one of them voiced the wish that Congress would replace the current law with a measure more narrowly focused to deal with vulgarity, obscenity, and lewdness. And yet, each one of them fell in line to strike down the law as it was, finding it too broadly phrased to cover things “immoral” and wrongful. So convinced they were that the law was too vague to be sustained that it somehow failed to count for them that the administrators applying the law applied it precisely as these justices would have wished.

5. In the Era of Immediate Diss, Matt Purple, in The American Conservative, smacks back at the clap back. From the piece:

Clapbacks tend to be both short (though not pithy) and ad hominem, little hit-and-runs that eschew substance in favor of cheeky personal attacks. That should sound familiar: it’s exactly how Twitter operates. Over on everyone’s favorite free speech psychomanteum chamber, the character limit makes punchy insults more effective than actual argument. That clapbacks are now being heard off a presidential stage should be evidence enough that real life is aping Twitter rather than the other way around. And sure enough, there was Warren’s quip, liked and retweeted and GIFed endlessly by people who probably can’t list a single other thing she said during that town hall.

The problem isn’t that politicians are suddenly getting sassy with each other: Ronald Reagan’s “youth and inexperience” line against Walter Mondale is all anyone remembers from that 1984 debate. And even the gold standard of political argument, Lincoln-Douglas, once saw the former call one of the latter’s arguments “as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death.” The problem is that we’ve now confused clapbacks with the meat and potatoes of political discourse. Rather than leave insults and punchy remarks where they belong, nestled within larger arguments, we’ve seized on them, torn them out of context, and treated them as arguments themselves. Warren’s remark is hardly the worst example of this. Many people seem to think Kamala Harris is qualified to command the largest military in the world solely on the basis of her ability to clap back against President Trump.

Why has this happened? Because we’re all exhausted. Deluged with endless opinions in this Misinformation Age, we seek shortcuts through it all, and snappy lines that allow us to dismiss opposing points of view without actually engaging them work perfectly. Both sides of our politics are guilty of this—Donald Trump’s Twitter vitriol can be viewed as an even less artful form of the clapback—but there’s no question the left has the advantage when it comes to clapback culture. This is because it also has the advantage when it comes to the culture in general. Left-wing nostrums are so hegemonic, so taken for granted, that countervailing points can be made to look ridiculous simply by holding them up against the common backdrop. That makes clapping back easy, almost effortless, because so many others begin from the same assumptions that you do.

6. The very liberal Church of Sweden is exposed by Nima Gholam Ali Pour at Gatestone Institute for supporting “Christian” entities that cannot get enough of Israel Hate. From the piece:

The majority of the board members of the Swedish Jerusalem Society have been, or still are, employed by one of Sweden’s largest institutions, the Church of Sweden – and reciprocally, the Church of Sweden has an official representative on the board of the Swedish Jerusalem Society. That an association hostile to Israel has a close relationship with the Church of Sweden is not a surprise: this author has previously chronicled how the Church of Sweden supports the false, highly distorted Kairos Palestine Document.

The main activity of the Swedish Jerusalem Society in the Palestinian territories now seems to consist of raising financial support for Good Shepherd’s Swedish School in Bethlehem. Although the school, which offers education from the first grade in elementary school through high school, is officially a Christian school, 98% of its students come from Muslim homes.

Although Good Shepherd’s Swedish School is marketed by the Swedish Jerusalem Society as a school that promotes peace, Tobias Petersson, director of the think tank Perspective on Israel, has revealed that the textbooks used by Good Shepherd’s Swedish School have jihadi content that encourages holy war against the State of Israel.

The textbooks celebrate the Palestinian terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who was one of a group of 11 terrorists who murdered 38 civilians in Israel, including 13 children, on March 11, 1978. Also, in those textbooks, Jews are described as liars and corrupt. Petersson has reviewed the contents of the school books with Arabic translators living in Sweden. He has also verified the translations by getting second opinions to confirm their accuracy.

Maps in the schoolbooks and on the walls of Good Shepherd’s Swedish School do not show the State of Israel; instead the outline of Israel had been displaced by the identical outline of the “State of Palestine”. The school has opened its arms to controversial Palestinian Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, who is known for his praising of terrorists and hateful words against Israel.

BONUS: At a conference, I bumped into good pal Jennifer Kabbany, editor of The College Fix, and pledged to highlight a TCF piece by reporter Brittany Slaughter on Republican students (in Connecticut) starting to fight back again partisanship-based discrimination. From the article:

University of New Haven student Timothy Anop will never forget the day he went to class wearing a Trump shirt. He says his professor promptly berated him, telling Anop point-blank his opinions do not matter because they’re conservative.

That was in 2016, and Anop has not forgotten that experience. In fact, it’s part of what fuels his burgeoning effort as chairman of the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans to demand he and his like-minded peers have the right to be heard — and respected — on campus.

The federation recently rolled out an initiative called “Take Back the First” that calls on campus leaders at Connecticut’s colleges and universities to add political free speech protections to their anti-discrimination policies.

“There are roughly 22 other colleges in Connecticut that do not include political ideology in their discrimination policy,” Anop said. “We’ll be lobbying them to hopefully amend their discrimination policy to include political ideology to make it a protected act on campus.”

Baseballery

The Boy, a possible son-in-law, was over, discussing cool team logos of legend, and we both agreed that the Houston Colt .45s, as the Astros were know in the first three years of their franchise, was nifty, with the revolver’s smoke forming the “C” of the “Colt.” Do check it out. “I wonder,” said the boy, “if anyone ever wore the Number 45 while playing for the 45s?”

And so we checked that out, and indeed there was, and it’s all pretty melancholy. Jim Umbricht was a little long in the tooth for a rookie when he broke into the Big Leagues, finally, at the ancient age of 28, the Pittsburgh Pirates giving him a crack at starting a game in late 1959. What an entry: The first batter he faced that Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati was the Reds’ All-Star second baseman, Johnny Temple. He hit a home run. And in short order so did Frank Thomas and rookie Buddy Gilbert, the first of his tiny seven-game MLB career (Gilbert would only appear in one more game after that, and he’d hit a dinger in that one too).

To recap: The first three career hits Umbricht gave up (all in the first inning of his first appearance) were solo dingers. That might be a record.

After two more years with sporadic play in the Big Time, Umbricht was one of the last selections (the 35th) in the National League expansion draft in 1961, picked by Houston. He took Number 45, and appeared in 34 games for the newbies, posting a 2.01 ERA and earning a perfect 4–0 record, all the victories in relief (including an important late-season win over the collapsing first-place Dodgers, who would go on to lose a tiebreaking playoff game to the Giants). Things looked good for the 32-year-old righthander.

But between seasons, Umbricht discovered that he had malignant cancer. He had radical surgery, trained with determination, and . . . the hurler was in uniform for the Colt .45s on opening day. Now sporting Number 32 in 1963, Umbricht appeared in 35 games (he started in 3) and earned a 4–3 record with a 2.61 ERA. He had proven to be a bright spot on the Colt .45s’ staff in its initial two seasons. There wouldn’t be a third: The cancer returned, the category — incurable. A few days before the 1964 season began, Umbricht passed away. He was 33.

In 1965, Houston’s team, now the Astros, retired his last number, 32. The only Colt .45s player to wear Number 45, other than Umbricht, was aged rookie pitcher Don Bradey, who appeared in just three games in his career, all in 1964. On his 30th birthday he started against Los Angeles — it was the final game of the season — and the Dodgers blew out his candles: Bradey lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 earned runs. He took the loss.

A Dios

We know not the hour. Came the news from Claire that her brother, Greg, a.k.a Vhan (a self-imposed nickname with a hint of teenage secret-agent coolness in 1975 — marvelously, it stuck), had passed away on Saturday, his heart giving out at the age of 59. It had almost given out three years earlier, but he had the “widowmaker” in his doctor’s office. Location, location, location, as the saying goes — he survived. Then came . . . borrowed time? We all live on it. We were pals from the second day of high school, college roommates, vendors at the House that Ruth Built, mutual stonebreakers and wiseacres, occasional combatants, movie fans (he named an intramural basketball team Klaatu Barada Nikto and thrilled to nearly everyone’s ignorance of the reference). He leaves a young daughter. I beg you, if you have a prayer in you, to pray for his soul’s peaceful repose, and comfort for his mother, sisters, and child. And I beg another prayer: this one for Al, Big Al, so dear to NR, so tormented by his illness. His affairs in order, he is ready to meet God, Who we hope has open arms of true comfort. Pray that Al’s last days are merciful and happy (his last few months have been a passion), and a small preview to the eternity he richly deserves.

God’s blessing on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, champion of heroic failure, who can be told that and much more if you email him at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Shaddap Shutin’ Up

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Imagine if basketball had been invented 50 years earlier: The tall-walking Rail Splitter (pictured with Sun Yat-sen on this 1942 “China Resistance” stamp) would have been the sport’s George Mikan (“Starting at center for the Springfield Stovepipes, Number 16, Abraham Lincoln!”). Nowadays, Mr. Basketball is LeBron James, the multimillionaire icon, much less uneducated than moi et toi, who shot an airball when he positioned himself in opposition to the current China Resistance — the kind that is supportive of Hong Kong freedom lovers who take umbrage at their Beijing overlords (masterminding another round of reneging on the terms of the 1990s deal that returned the former British protectorate and financial powerhouse to the Reds).

Several NR writers have stuffed Mr. James’ kowtowing. For example, Kat Timpf, the Calvin Murphy of NR, soared as she rejected the Lakers’ capitalist star. From her piece:

Allow me to explain: James has tried to brand himself as someone who uses his platform as a damn good basketball player to advance what he believes politically. He’s taken stances on a whole host of social-justice issues, ranging from the killings of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Philando Castile, to what he sees as the need for gun regulation. Many people, particularly in conservative circles, have had a problem with this. Some have said that it isn’t his place to weigh in on these issues, that he should simply play his sport and leave it at that.

I have never been one of those people.

Yes — I do happen to agree with him on many of his past stances. For example, I believe that our criminal-justice system does have a disparate impact on people of color and have repeatedly used my own platform to educate people on this and fight against it. I didn’t agree with everything he said, sure, but to me, my agreement was never even the point. In fact, even if I had agreed with none of it, I was still never going to tell someone to stop using his hard-earned platform to be politically active. When many athletes, including James, were facing exactly this sort of backlash, James said: “It’s about the equality and the freedom to speak about things they feel are unjust” — and I agreed with him.

Now, I’m starting to question my support. Why? Because, although his words may have championed “the freedom to speak about things [you] feel are unjust,” his choices in recent days make me think he should have then added the qualifier: “unless it interferes with me making even more money.”

And then there is WJ godfather Big Jim Geraghty, who laid out the Warriors’ sanctimonious coach Steven Kerr with a very legitimate pick. From his analysis:

Hypocrisy is almost always worth calling out. But calling it out isn’t really enough; it doesn’t really do much to address the underlying issue.

During the Me Too controversy, there were quite a few conservatives who liked pointing out what they saw as glaring hypocrisy from Democrats, particularly regarding Bill Clinton or Hollywood figures. Indeed, that was some pretty pungent and obvious hypocrisy . . . but now what? Do we point at the hypocrisy and then walk away, concluding, “Our work here is done”? Hypocrisy’s a part of the story, but it’s not the sum total of the story or even necessarily the most important part. Yeah, a lot of Hollywood figures turned a blind eye to appalling behavior by powerful figures for a long time; when they pledge to try to the change the culture, should we applaud and try to reinforce that new, better stance, or is it enough to snicker that it will never change?

Perhaps a bunch of conservative China critics were slow to recognize the value of professional athletes speaking out about issues that matter to them most, and they’re conveniently forgetting their past “Stick to sports” arguments when the topic turns to China. Fair hit, lesson learned. But the reversal undermines Kerr’s position.

While in China, Kerr offered familiar criticisms of President Trump and American gun laws, and then made an appalling reference to “our human-rights abuses,” referring to the United States. Kerr is really comfortable speaking truth to power in Washington, and really uncomfortable speaking truth to power in Beijing. His argument about the hypocrisy of his critics is ultimately an excuse for his own hypocrisy.

Let’s move on, but not before sharing wise advice for Mr. James and his money-grubbing fellow hoopsters. It comes courtesy of Mr. B. Bunny: Shaddap, and Shaddap Shuttin’ Up.

Before We Get to the Main Course, You Need to Get Some Give Me Liberty

Rick Brookhiser’s new book is terrific. I should know: The galleys are in my hands. But the real thing — an actual copy of Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea — should be in yours, and will be in two or so weeks, if you’re as smart as I believe you are. More about that (the book-getting, not your intelligence — that’s very real and not debatable!) in a moment. As for right now . . .

. . . permission has been secured to give you a taste of this latest example of Brookhiser Brilliance. Here is a decent and telling slice from the books’ introduction:

The unique feature of America’s nationalism is its concern for liberty. We have been securing it, defining it, recovering it, and fighting for it for four hundred years. We have been doing it since we were a floundering settlement on a New World river, long before we were a country. We do it now on podiums and battlefields beyond our borders.

Our concern for liberty shapes how we live in society and what we know ourselves to be in the order of things: how we relate to each other and what God has made us. Americans are free and equal men and women, marked for liberty at birth. Ignorance and vice may obscure and sometimes even steal our birthright, but we work, stolidly or heroically, to reclaim it.

American liberty is liberty of the person. If liberty is applied to collections of persons, its meaning changes. When a country liberates itself from a colonial or imperial overlord (as dozens have since we did), it wins independence. When the machinery of the state liberates itself from incompetence or customary restraints, it may achieve efficiency or despotism. When a mob liberates itself from habits of good behavior, it produces chaos.

American liberty is about Americans—you, me, her, him. But this liberty is plural; it cannot be experienced alone. If one person living in a tyrannical state were somehow freed from all its supervision and punishments, he or she would experience the immunity of an alien or practice the duplicity of a spy. That person would not enjoy liberty. My liberty as an American is also yours; ours is others’.

We claim it for no other reason than we are persons, and America recognizes the sovereign importance of this fact. We enjoy liberty not because we are people and: people who have the right ancestors, people who practice the approved creed, or people who spend the most money. We enjoy it because we are men and women.

As Americans we claim to have a uniquely clear understanding of human nature and to act in accordance with it. But a desire for liberty asserts itself in other countries, too. The two with which our history is most bound enjoy elements of liberty, as we understand it. We inherited much from our mother country, Britain, and France’s revolution and republics have mirrored, and fun house–mirrored, our own. But Britain’s liberty is deeply rooted in a mold of custom, while France’s is buffeted by storms of passion. Britain still has a crown and classes; France every so often produces a new constitution. This is not a book about almost liberty elsewhere; it is a book about the real thing, here in America.

What follows Rick’s set-up are essays on 13 profound documents, instances, and events — from the ye olde “Minutes of the Jamestown General Assembly” and the “Flushing Remonstrance” to FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy Fireside Chat” and The Gipper’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech — which, ensembled, make the case for this very real, very American hallmark of we the people (to whom this book is dedicated, by the way).

Now I ask: Doesn’t all this make you want to run out and buy a copy? And I’ll answer for you: Yes. But — Give Me Liberty is not in bookstores until November 5. Your immediate running-out will be not be a mission-completed experience. But 2 — You can order Give Me Liberty right now at whatever online bookseller rings your bell (preferably Liberty): Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books.

A Baker’s Dozen Dollops of Creamy-of-the-Crop Conservatism

1. Victor Davis Hanson asks, is America being ‘sinisized’? From the column:

If in the past Chinese Communism impoverished its own citizens but left the world mostly alone, now it has enriched more than a billion people at home and terrified six billion abroad.

Far from a newly rich China becoming Westernized politically, the West and the rest of the world are more likely to become politically repressive like China.

Westerners, who apologize when Islamists kill cartoonists and journalists for supposedly insulting Islam, do not say a word when China puts a million Muslims into re-education camps, bulldozes Islamic cemeteries, and shuts down mosques.

Loud human-rights lions in Europe turn into kittens when it is a question of Chinese organ-harvesting, forced abortions and sterilizations, and the jailing and execution of dissidents.

American environmentalists demand a radical shutdown of the current fossil-fuel-based U.S. economy. They say little about greenhouse-gas emissions from China, the biggest polluter in the world by far.

Outspoken NBA athletes and hip Hollywood celebrities damn the Second Amendment, curse their president, and boycott states they find politically incorrect. But they become abject cowards when it comes to China.

2. Lee Edwards reminds us that three countries went down the Socialist path, bigly, and then U-turned, back to sanity and prosperity. From his essay:

Israel, India, and the United Kingdom all adopted socialism as an economic model following World War II. The preamble to India’s constitution, for example, begins, “We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic . . .” The original settlers of Israel were East European Jews of the Left who sought and built a socialist society. As soon as the guns of World War II fell silent, Britain’s Labour Party nationalized every major industry and acceded to every socialist demand of the unions.

At first, socialism seemed to work in these vastly dissimilar countries. For the first two decades of its existence, Israel’s economy grew at an annual rate of more than 10 percent, leading many to term Israel an “economic miracle.” The average GDP growth rate of India from its founding in 1947 into the 1970s was 3.5 percent, placing India among the more prosperous developing nations. GDP growth in Great Britain averaged 3 percent from 1950 to 1965, along with a 40 percent rise in average real wages, enabling Britain to become one of the world’s more affluent countries.

But the government planners were unable to keep pace with increasing population and overseas competition. After decades of ever declining economic growth and ever rising unemployment, all three countries abandoned socialism and turned toward capitalism and the free market. The resulting prosperity in Israel, India, and the U.K. vindicated free-marketers who had predicted that socialism would inevitably fail to deliver the goods. As British prime minister Margaret Thatcher observed, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

3. Frederic Hess exposes the metastasizing academic hostility to free speech. From the analysis:

Free inquiry on campus has come under fire. Survey data make it clear that many students (especially conservative ones) are hesitant to speak up in class. Faculty at schools ranging from Portland State to Sarah Lawrence to Northwestern University have been castigated by campus mandarins for the sin of challenging the regnant groupthink regarding such issues as the legacy of colonialism, the role of campus support staff, and Title IX. In light of that, one might expect academics to man the ramparts of academic freedom in the name of self-preservation.

Even as faculty have been investigated and intimidated for questioning campus orthodoxy, however, the academy has stood mutely by. And yet campus apologists have felt obliged to insist that concerns over attempts to encroach on academic freedom are exaggerated or overstated. For all the hypocrisy and obfuscation, this has at least suggested a professoriate that thinks it’s supposed to defend free inquiry.

That’s what makes a recent turn so disturbing. Some in the academy increasingly argue that the whole notion of free inquiry is a reactionary blemish rather than a bedrock principle. Indeed, in a new book published by Oxford University Press, New York University professor Ulrich Baer has done a signal (if disheartening) service in articulating this ominous new stance.

NYU’s Baer, a professor of comparative literature, German, and English, and author of What Snowflakes Get Right, told Inside Higher Education last week that “the urge to block speech, which is really a reminder that the university’s purpose is to vet ideas and regulate speech so that teaching and learning can proceed, is related to a new generation’s realization that free speech has become a weapon for conservatives to undermine equality and the university itself.” He explained that free speech “is neither a blanket permission to say anything without consequence . . . nor identical with academic freedom.”

4. The Red China hissy fit over the NBA is a microscopic concern when compared to Beijing’s global maritime strategy. Douglas Feith and Adm. Gary Roughead have the concern-worthy details. From the piece:

President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative involves huge infrastructure construction projects around the world. China uses the initiative to link itself to useful facilities and also to promote its own information-technology standards and e-commerce platforms, aiming not just to obtain commercial clout but to give Chinese officials access — clandestine as well as overt — to vast quantities of technological, commercial, personal, and other information — all of which is exploitable economically and strategically.

A major element of Belt and Road is a globe-girdling network of maritime ports. China owns, operates, or has plans to own or operate ports in scores of places, including Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The Chinese government integrates commercial and strategic activities to a much greater extent than do Western governments. One of its most important national-security initiatives is what China calls the Military-Civilian Fusion Policy. President Xi boasts of China’s commitment to taking advantage of civilian business activities to strengthen China’s military power.

5. President Trump’s Syria pullout is a blunder, says Rich Lowry. Of Obama proportions. From the analysis:

The pullback has managed, astonishingly enough, to alienate both the Kurds and Turkey from the United States. Usually, given the historic enmity between the two, it’s possible to alienate only one at a time. After we dumped them, the Kurds have fallen into the arms of the Assad regime, while Turkey will be as hostile to the U.S. as ever once Congress gets done trying to punish it for its invasion.

Just like Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq, Trump’s pullback in Syria is a belated reaction to the Iraq War. Obviously, there is no political support on the right or left for invading and occupying a Middle Eastern country with tens of thousands of troops again. But there’s a vast distance between the height of the occupation of Iraq, when we had 150,000 troops fighting a war of counterinsurgency, and our minimal commitment in Syria aimed at creating and supporting a proxy force to do the hard fighting against ISIS.

To throw both the Syria and Iraq interventions together under the rubric of “endless war” is to fail to make distinctions. It’s senseless to oppose a relatively cost-free action in Syria that has succeeded in its own terms (the ISIS caliphate has been defeated) because the Iraq War was fought for years at a high cost with dubious results. It’d be like opposing the invasion of Grenada because the invasion of Normandy required so much blood and treasure.

6. Smollet, thy name is Warren. So sayeth Kevin Williamson. From his piece:

Elizabeth Warren has long pretended to be a person of color — a “woman of color,” the Harvard law faculty called her. (That color is Pantone 11-0602.) What Senator Warren has in common with Jussie Smollett turns out to have nothing to do with skin tone. Smollett, you’ll recall, regaled the nation with the story of a couple of violent, Trump-loving, MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacists who just happened to be cruising a gay neighborhood in Chicago on the coldest night of the year, who also just happened to be fans of Empire, who also just happened to have some rope at hand. Who happened, as it turns out, to be a couple of Nigerian brothers and colleagues of Smollett’s.

Fiction, yes. Deployed, as we are always told when these lies are exposed as lies, in the service of a larger truth, a truth of which such habitual and irredeemable liars as Warren, Biden, Smollett — and Lena Dunham, and the so-called journalists of Rolling Stone, and the perpetrators of a thousand phony campus hate-crime hoaxes — are the appointed apostles.

“Does anybody seriously believe it was not as everyday as sunrise that employers made pregnant women leave their jobs 50 years ago?” CNBC’s John Harwood demanded in defense of Warren. Perhaps it has not occurred to Harwood, who purports to be a journalist of a kind, that the relevant question is not whether this sort of thing happened in the past to a great many women but whether this particular thing actually happened to this woman, which does not seem to be the case: The minutes of the local school-board meeting quite clearly document that Warren was offered a contract for further employment, which she declined. She was forthright in her account of the episode at earlier points in her life. She seems to have suddenly remembered the discrimination sometime between when she began advertising herself to the Ivy League as a Cherokee and the day when the Cherokee finally shamed her into knocking it off.

7. Madeleine Kearns reveals the origins of the transgender movement. From her piece:

Let’s start with medicine. When sex-change surgeries became surgically possible in the post-war period, it was understood to be something of a euphemism. Of course, a person couldn’t literally change from one sex to the other, it’d be more accurate to call it genital surgery, but people were trying to be euphemistic. These procedures were highly controversial, in part because they weren’t always that successful.

You might’ve seen the movie The Danish Girl, and you’re familiar with the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson’s book, in which he talks a lot about Paul McHugh, the psychiatrist who had to put an end to the surgeries in the 1970s at Johns Hopkins University, which he described as “collaborating with madness.” That’s how he called it. People who wanted to change their sex back then were called transsexuals. That was a term popularized by an endocrinologist, Harry Benjamin. Demand was fairly low; it was mostly males wanting to become females. It’s complicated, but sexologists realized there were two types of male-to-female transsexuals.

There was the homosexual transsexual. That’s the person who feels inconspicuously feminine and uncomfortable as a man and is actually a deeply sympathetic figure, I think. Then there’s the person with autogynophilia. That’s the person who finds the thought of themselves as a woman to be sexually exciting. Studies of interviews with such individuals, conducted by sexologists like Ray Blanchard or Anne Lawrence, suggest that it’s anything ranging from a man who’s turned on from the check assistant’s calling him “ma’am,” to somebody who likes to urinate on sanitary pads and to pretend they’re menstruating, and many other things that I think many of us would find too unpleasant to dwell on so early in the morning.

In my friend Douglas Murray’s new book, The Madness of Crowds, he explains that the struggle for defining things turned into this hardware versus software issue. So, intersex for instance, is very much a hardware issue. You can’t exactly get concerned about somebody who has a hardware issue because that’s not their fault. Of course, the reality with homosexuality is that it’s most likely some kind of combination of the two. People may be predisposed to certain proclivities, then there’s environment and so forth, but in any case, like Martin Luther King’s point, don’t define people by that.

8. Michael Brendan Dougherty warns that Facebook cannot become a President Warren’s Ministry of Truth. From the commentary:

Warren says that “Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once through negligence.” This is not knowably true, though liberals and progressives have done their best to claim otherwise since Trump’s election. In 2008 and 2012, Democrats were thrilled that Barack Obama was able to use Facebook very effectively, often exploiting the same techniques they deplored and viewed as conspiratorial when used on a smaller scale by groups aligned with the right. A decade ago, progressives fantasized about social-media-powered revolutions of the young across the world. In the years since, the median age of a Facebook user has gone up dramatically and now resembles the median age of a Donald Trump voter. Trump won the election, and we know that voters and his campaign interacted across Facebook during the campaign that preceded it. But it is still difficult, if not impossible, to determine how much Facebook caused his election to happen and how much it simply reflected his ascent.

One thing that’s certain is that the resulting controversy has not helped either our politics or Facebook’s public image (and thus its bottom line). Warren’s standard would have the potential to make future such controversies even more intense. Facebook’s certification of political ads would involve the company in more controversial political judgments and events, not fewer. To progressives who believe history’s arc bends in their direction by right, it would make Facebook appear more guilty when democracy threw up a surprise result. And it would arguably make the platform more powerful and desirable as a political ad space, which is an odd goal for an avowed opponent of corporate power to pursue.

9. James Sutton finds San Diego’s GOP mayor, Kevin Faulconer, worthy of observation and maybe emulation. From the report:

In an interview, Faulconer attributes his ability to win elections in a city where only 22 percent of voters are registered Republicans to a political brand that is “not about partisanship, but leadership.” This may sound like a boilerplate talking point, but it contains a lesson that Republicans seeking a toehold in blue states could learn from: Mayors are simply not subject to the same partisan pressures as legislators and other elected officials. If they eschew divisive, bomb-throwing bombast in favor of a focus on competent, productive governance, voters will reward them.

Faulconer’s rise and tenure is a case study in this dynamic. He was elected in the wake of the resignation of scandal-ridden Democratic mayor Bob Filner, with San Diego’s finances in deplorable shape. He promised to fix the city budget and did, establishing a low-key, technocratic image that helped him easily win his bid for a full term. It helped that he made an effort to reach out to voters who wouldn’t typically vote for a Republican. His campaign headquarters was located in a historically black city neighborhood, and he stressed throughout our interview how important that physical presence was in connecting with local residents. The result was that people knew him not “as a Republican,” he said, but as a competent mayor.

If Faulconer’s success were just a matter of personal temperament and a concerted effort to transcend party labels, other California Republicans might be forgiven for assuming he doesn’t have much to teach the struggling state party. But as he closes out his second term, Faulconer has zeroed in on an issue that the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic leadership has failed to address: the homelessness crisis. Though the issue is not his only his policy focus, he trumpets it as one that Republicans should zero in on.

At the recent California Republican party convention in Palm Springs, Faulconer devoted the bulk of his keynote address to discussing the explosion in the state’s homeless population. It is, he said, “not merely an issue in California, but the issue,” one that offers California Republicans a golden chance to present themselves as a viable alternative to their Democratic rivals. In our interview, he highlighted San Diego’s recent efforts to grapple with the crisis. Most crucially, he has committed the city to offering every homeless person services and housing. San Diego can now offer any persons living on the street housing, and compel them to enter it if they refuse. It’s a real accomplishment, though he is quick to caution that “housing first” cannot become “housing only.” If the goal is to keep people off the streets long-term, he argues, it is just as important for shelter services to connect homeless people with treatment and counseling as it is to give them a place to stay.

10. Douglas Murray takes on the game and consequences of Internet-shaming and www-schadenfreude. From the article:

In February 2018, only a few months before Sarah Jeong’s appointment to the New York Times editorial board, the paper had announced another recruitment, that of a 44-year-old tech journalist called Quinn Norton. The Internet immediately went to work, and — as they later would with Sarah Jeong — analyzed her Twitter feed. Again they found tweets that were, in the language of social-justice campaigners, “not good.” Among the things that were found were a number of tweets from 2013 in which Norton had used the word “fag.” As in “Look, fag” and (on one occasion with another Twitter user with whom she was rowing) “you s*** eating, hypersensitive little crybaby fag.” On another occasion — back in 2009 — Norton was found to have used the most unacceptable word of all. In 2009, in a row with another Twitter user, she had replied, “If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have would have [sic] made him president. Oh, but wait . . . Um.” Just seven hours after the New York Times had announced its new hire, it backpedaled by saying Norton would not in fact be joining the paper.

 

In a subsequent piece in The Atlantic Norton explained what she thought had happened. She acknowledged that many things she had written and tweeted in the past had been ignorant and embarrassing. She also explained what it felt like to, in her words, have a “doppelganger” version of herself swiftly emerge online. In common with other people who had been the subject of online shaming this version of her that people were railing against was not “who she was” but a hideous, simplified, out-of-context version of tiny parts of herself.

She explained that she believed herself to have been the victim of what she referred to as “context collapse.” This is another term for the collapse of the divide between private and public language, where a conversation meant for an in-group becomes known to an out-group with no knowledge of the original context of the discussion. Norton said that her use of the “n” word had been in the context of an online row in which she was “in support of [President] Obama.” Since Norton had been in friendly as well as unfriendly rows with various white racists it was possible that she was using vile language to mirror back at someone who was also using vile language. Elsewhere her engagement with “Anons” (members of the activist collective “Anonymous”) was explained to be the reason for her use of the word “fags.” Such language gets used in such groups, but clearly does not transfer well to the world of the New York Times. The two worlds met, Norton was history there, and the world stampeded on.

11. Hare Trigger: Armond White takes in Jojo Rabbit and, frankly, hates it. Dig the review:

Bad ideas are in vogue, which makes Jojo Rabbit a candidate for this week’s zeitgeist movie. It’s a two-ton whimsy about Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a ten-year-old German cherub during World War II, so fascinated with Der Führer, the leader of his country’s ideals, that he envisions Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend.

As played by Taika Waititi, Funny Adolf behaves childishly and runs alongside Jojo with gangly, clown-like gestures during an outing with Hitlerjugend troops. Although given to making angry-face speeches about Aryan superiority and silly anti-Jewish pronouncements, Funny Adolf represents Jojo’s ignorance of Third Reich ideology and his pre-adolescent hero-worship.

But don’t worry, writer-director Taika Waititi, best known for the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok, hasn’t made Hitler a superhero on the right side of history; instead, Waititi’s calculated political correctness lampoons political idolatry as immature, low-information folly. Jojo Rabbit ought to expose the projection of fears and self-loathing that’s become the common feature of far-left ideology, but it avoids that realization and settles for being a zeitgeist satire that targets the political infatuation of others, not your own.

No wonder Jojo Rabbit won over award-season shills at the recent Toronto Film Festival, where it took the same audience prize as last year’s Green Book. Award-givers have become as obtuse as little Jojo in conflating political self-righteousness with artistic excellence. This foolishness recalls what Pauline Kael ridiculed as “Nazi junkie” movies; only now it happens with flicks about identity politics.

12. Springtime for Hitler? Kyle Smith, brimming with anticipation, saw Jojo Rabbit and — wanting so much to gush — thought it . . . unfunny. From the review:

Hitler provides rich potential for comedy, yet despite trying really hard, I didn’t laugh once in Jojo Rabbit. Do two or three half-chuckles count? Not really. Johannes, or Jojo (a wide-eyed kid named Roman Griffin Davis), is a fully indoctrinated Hitler Youth, complete with the uniform suggesting Fascist Cub Scouts and a ridiculous fear of Jews. Early scenes having him romping through training exercises with his fellow Aryan middle-schoolers under the watchful gaze of a dissolute German officer (Rockwell is ideal for this part) who lets slip that the war is about to be lost, so nothing much matters. It’s Berlin in 1945. Assisting him is a Teutonic wench (Rebel Wilson) who reminds me of the lady concentration-camp commandant in Seven Beauties. Things get a bit confusing for Jojo when he’s asked to demonstrate his master-race cruelty by wringing the neck of a rabbit. He can’t do it. The kids mock him as a timid, frightened little thing — Jojo Rabbit. He’s so frustrated that he blows himself up with a grenade, because playing with live hand grenades is the kind of thing Nazi kids do, I guess. It’s 1945, anything goes.

Jojo recovers slowly, thanks to his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, played by the writer-director of the movie, Taika Waititi. Hitler is (mostly) a genial sort who pops out behind beams and has dinner with Jojo to offer fond advice and reminders about the perfidy of the Jews. Jojo and his mom (Scarlett Johansson in hausfrau mode) are making do without the man of the house, who is off fighting in Italy but hasn’t been heard from in two years. To add to all of his sources of confusion, Jojo discovers there’s a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) living in a secret room upstairs.

By the time this setup is established, though, the movie, adapted from an obscure 2006 novel called Caging Skies, is running on fumes.

13. Shuffle Off to Albright-Knox: Brian Allen is in Buffalo and digs “a wonderful, idiosyncratic collection” located at “an unusual architectural campus.” From the article:

I visited this week before the museum’s closure in early November for a big, new building project. It now has two great buildings. Its neoclassical 1905 building is an elegant gem, cool, columnar with Edwardian flash. It’s not big. It’s gracious and welcoming, but it’s a temple of art. The Saint-Gaudens caryatids on the entrance frieze — they’re the best visitor-services people — suggest you enter with a clear, disciplined frame of mind. You take a breath when you walk through the museum. You leave feeling the experience is unique to you. Caryatids don’t ask for money and don’t tell you where the bathroom or shop is. They suggest you think. Sculpture is so good at that, especially when it’s 30 feet in the air.

The 1962 building addition by Gordon Bunshaft is a spare modernist box. It pulled the architecture of the Gilded Age — the 1905 building — toward the Space Age, still leaving the original building with a place of pride. It’s a fake one.

The Bunshaft building is a passive-aggressive space. It wins by pretending to lose. It’s squat and brown, and could be the executive building of a big business. It’s anonymous, but, when it opened in 1962, it was, all of a sudden, the new entrance. The steps to the old entrance were blocked by a Berlin Wall–type thing. The 1962 building has exhibition space, in corridors, with the art lined up, like the shops at Penn Station.

On November 4, construction starts on a third building, and that pulls the place into the 21st century. It’s a 30,000-square-foot new building designed by Shohei Shigematsu and OMA America. OMA is an international firm with roots in Japan. The new building will be transparent, with lots of glass and big, naturally lit spaces for art. It’s not passive-aggressive. The big box will loom and direct. It will win by winning. I think it will be beautiful, but I think this with reservations.

The Six

1. Elizabeth Warren pledges a President Warren would appoint impartial judges, and then, as Greg Weiner notes in Law & Liberty, promises a SCOTUS spot for a labor advocate. From the analysis:

Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Harvard Law School, has a plan—of course she does—for guaranteeing an “impartial and ethical judiciary” based on “the basic premise of our legal system,” which is “that every person is treated equally in the eyes of the law.” Shortly before its unveiling, she tweeted a promise to nominate “a demonstrated advocate for workers” to the Supreme Court.

In other words, she seeks a justice who would violate Canon 3 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which requires jurists to disqualify themselves from cases in which they have “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.” The Code does not apply to the Supreme Court, but buckle up: The aforesaid “plan for that” would extend the ethical rules to the Supreme Court, which means Warren is promising to appoint justices whose conduct she will seek to classify as unethical.

This tangle of contradiction—as to her plans, Warren likely wants us to behold the magnificence of the forest, not the individual trees—illustrates the outcome-based constitutionalism that has infected American jurisprudence. It may be true, as Chief Justice John Roberts has said, that we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges. But we are apparently supposed to have worker judges or employer judges, abortion judges or gun judges.

Conspicuously lacking from Warren’s plan for an impartial judiciary is any sense of what that means for the judge’s role in the constitutional order. The bulk of the plan seeks to root out among judges the corruption Warren sees lurking around the corner of every disagreement. Judges retire to escape ethics inquiries; take away their pensions. “Ban judges from owning or trading individual stocks.” Supreme Court justices would have to explain recusal decisions. She would apply to Supreme Court justices the judicial code of conflict. She would fast-track impeachment of judges by changing the rules of the House of Representatives.

2. More Weiner: This time in the new issue of National Affairs, he explains the difference between morality and moralism. From the essay:

One of the most striking features of contemporary American politics is that political rhetoric is increasingly moralistic while the actual ability of governing systems to achieve moral ends is in decline. These are related phenomena: Moralistic politics is prone to stalemate because it disdains such instruments of effective political practice as barter and compromise. Its insistence on its own correctness, elevated to the urgency of the moral plane, makes compromise not merely imprudent but indefensible. Because of its tendency toward monomaniacal focus on single issues to the exclusion of all others, it cannot engage in horse-trading.

Where the politician sees shades of gray and operates in a world of contradictions and tensions, the moralist, hostile to nuance, perceives only darkness and light. This has a dual effect. First, it limits what is often the very value being proclaimed — liberty — since the moralist denies the variety of moral concerns and forecloses options other than his own. When moral questions are oversimplified, there is no room for liberty and the responsibility that should attend it. When imperatives are categorical, prudence is impossible. This dissolves liberty in favor of a one-dimensional and allegedly unimpeachable moral truth.

Second, cautious, partial steps toward moral ends cannot satisfy the moralizer because he operates in an environment in which more of the object in view is always better than less. Moralism cannot tolerate the fact, evident to James Madison in Federalist No. 10, that disagreement is “sown in the nature of man.” The moralist thus has neither the capacity nor the desire for intellectual empathy, the ability to see an issue from another’s point of view.

In short, for the moralist, unlike for the statesman, to “let justice be done though the heavens fall” is an acceptable tradeoff, for the options are identical: The pursuit of justice may bring down the heavens, but so will the persistence of injustice. The issues are always ultimate. The stakes of success and failure are the same.

3. In the new issue of Commentary, Josef Joffe refuses to genuflect for the religion of climatism and its apostle, Little Miss Thunberg. From the essay:

For the believers, the debate is closed, and exhortation has segued into excommunication. No more catty humor, like that on display in the unforgettable bumper sticker from the 1970s: “Save the Planet! Kill yourself!” Those who reject the faith are “climate-change deniers,” as in “denying the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:23). Relate Climatism to Judeo-Christianity, and the psycho-structural analogies abound.

First, you need a prophet like Isaiah who rains damnation on the wayward. “Woe to a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers! They have forsaken the Lord and turned their back on him” (Isaiah 1:4). Greta, and Gore before her, replicates the language of the Good Book. Today, penitence demands renouncing the obscene material pleasures that doom our planet with megatons of noxious gases.

Second, invoke the apocalypse, as in the Revelation of St. John (Revelation 13:13), where God will “make fire come down from the heavens.” Religion, pagan or monotheist, is shot through with cosmic angst attacks. The Deluge goes back to the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic (1800 b.c.e.). Sodom and Gomorrah are incinerated for their debaucheries. Egypt is punished with the Ten Plagues to force Pharaoh to “let my children go.” Hardly had they fled when God wanted to slay them all for praying to the Golden Calf. In a brilliant plea, Israel’s greatest prophet, Moses, manages to stave off extinction. God reduced the death sentence to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

Today, the harbingers of doom are armed with assumptions, models, and data. Melting ice will raise sea levels, swallowing coasts and islands. What the floods spare will be devastated by droughts or hurricanes. The most recent sign from up high is the darkened skies over the Amazon’s rain forests, the “lungs of the world,” which presages collective death by asphyxiation. For the first iteration of this threat, one need only go back to Revelation 6:13: “The sun became black, and the whole moon became as blood.”

4. Erdogan was planning this ethnic cleansing all along, reports Malcolm Lowe at Gatestone Institute. From his report:

It is now clear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intended the annihilation of the Syrian Kurds already two years ago. Moreover, his plans became evident to the US military by the beginning of 2019 and were conveyed to President Trump at that time.

In order to disguise his plans, Erdogan revealed them stage by stage, by making first lesser and then greater demands on the US military, to which Trump agreed — sometimes in the course of telephone conversations with Erdogan. So Erdogan was able to hoodwink the US military up to January 2019 and to hoodwink Trump up to the current invasion: Trump resolutely defied contrary advice from the military (and from everyone else).

At first, Erdogan demanded the removal of Kurdish militias only west of the Euphrates river. This was the proclaimed aim of his so-called Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch (the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Kurds from the Afrin area). With that accomplished, he began demanding a Turkish-controlled “security zone” east of the river, to be 32 kilometers deep. The US responded by agreeing to joint US-Turkish patrols in the area. Erdogan demanded that the Kurdish towns in the area should dismantle the fortifications that they had raised to defend themselves from the Islamic State (ISIS). The Kurds agreed, reassured by the US military that this step would remove any excuse for a Turkish invasion.

Finally, in October 2019, Erdogan asked Trump in a further telephone call to remove US troops from the patrols and Trump agreed, believing that by threatening Turkey on Twitter, he could deter a Turkish invasion. The invasion started forthwith. It has been stalled, maybe, now that the Kurds have invited the army of the Assad regime to deploy throughout northeastern Syria up to the Iraqi frontier. If so, the beneficiaries will include Iran, America’s arch enemy, which can now see its yearned-for highway all the way from Tehran to Quneitra on Israel’s border.

5. More Gatestone Institute: Guy Millière checks out the case of journalist Érik Zemmour and the continuing diminishment of free speech in France. From the speech:

Zemmour’s speech describes a situation already discussed by various writers. Zemmour is not the first to say that the no-go zones are dangerous areas the police can no longer enter, or that they are under the control of radical imams and Muslim gangs who assault and drive out non-Muslims. Zemmour is not the only writer to describe the consequences of the mass-immigration of Muslims who do not integrate into French society. The pollster Jerome Fourquet, in his recent book, The French Archipelago, points out that France today is a country where Muslims and non-Muslims live in separate societies “hostile to each other”. Fourquet also emphasizes that a growing number of Muslims living in France say they want to live according sharia law and place sharia law above French law. Fourquet notes that 26% of French Muslims born in France want to obey only Sharia; for French Muslims born abroad, the figure rises to 46%. Zemmour merely added that what was happening is a “colonization”.

Zemmour had been hauled into court many times in the recent past and has had to pay heavy fines. On September 19, he was fined 3,000 euros ($3,300) for “incitement to racial hatred” and “incitement to discrimination”, for having said in 2015 that “in countless French suburbs where many young girls are veiled, a struggle to Islamize territories is taking place”.

In a society where freedom of speech exists, it would be possible to discuss the use of these statements, but in France today, freedom of speech has been almost completely destroyed.

Writers other than Zemmour have been hauled into court and totally excluded from all media, simply for describing reality. In 2017, the great historian Georges Bensoussan published a book, A Submissive France, as alarming as what Zemmour said a few days ago. Bensoussan, in an interview, quoted an Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, who had said that “in Arab families, children suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk”. Laacher was never indicted. Bensoussan, however, had to go to criminal court. Although he was acquitted, he was fired by the Paris Holocaust Memorial, which until then had employed him.

6. Something Queer Here: The College Fix’s Maria Lencki reports how at the University of Alabama, “LGBT Month” celebrated plenty of “queer identities” — gay men not among them. From the article:

A public university is hosting programming for LGBTQIA+ History Month in an effort to educate students about different spectrums of sexuality, with the school offering program on half a dozen queer identities. Conspicuously absent among them: Gay men.

The University of Alabama marks October as LGBTQIA+ History Month and as part of its monthlong programming is hosting talks for students about various types of LGBT “identities and their histories,” according to the school’s website. The programming covers well-known LGBT variants such as lesbianism and bisexuality, as well as more avant-garde sexualities and identities including asexuality, aromanticism, pansexuality, transgenderism and gender non-conformism.

Yet the university’s scheduled list of LGBT talks does not include a presentation on gay men, a demographic that forms a significant percentage of the LGBT community.

The talks are sponsored by the university’s Spectrum organization, the stated goal of which is to provide “understanding and education within the university and its surrounding communities of LGBTQIA+ individuals and (prevent) discrimination against them.”

The College Fix reached out to the school’s Spectrum group, university media relations and the school’s Safe Zone club to ask why the presentation subjects excluded gay men and if the school is planning on hosting any events specifically for or about that demographic. The Fix also inquired about how LGBTQIA+ History Month started at the university and how well-attended the events are. None of these organizations responded to multiple emails.

R.I.P. Mike Uhlmann

The former aide to Senator James L. Buckley, Claremont professor, philanthropy guru, expert on the electoral college (here’s a still-important NR piece he wrote in 2004), champion of the unborn (he helped President Reagan author Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation for The Human Life Review in 1983), and so much more, especially a friend to many, passed away early this month.

We remembered this important figure in the history of conservatism in The Week in the current issue of NR:

Michael Uhlmann was a friend of this magazine and a servant, and quiet leader, of American conservatism in politics and academe. An alumnus of Yale, Virginia, and Claremont, he served as assistant attorney general in the Ford administration and as an assistant to President Reagan. Between his jobs in the executive branch, Uhlmann presided over the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, where he was guided by the insight that “the consumer is, in fact, a much more complex animal than dreamt of by those who have put his personal stamp on a lot of regulation.” (Translation: Ralph Nader didn’t speak for everyone.) He taught at Claremont and George Mason and was a senior scholar at the James Wilson Institute, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center claimed him as a senior fellow. He allied with the pro-life movement, arguing especially against euthanasia and assisted suicide — his book about them is titled “Last Rights?” He died on October 8, at age 89. With gratitude for his lasting intellectual contributions: R.I.P.

Among Others: At The American Mind, Ryan P. Williams offered a warm tribute. Steven Hayward bids farewell to his pal in Power Line. And at Law & Liberty, Michael Greve fondly remembers an old friend. As does the great Hadley Arkes at James Wilson Institute.

Baseballery

My old pal Jeremy Beer has a new book coming out in mid-November: Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player, about the Negro League legend considered by many to be the greatest-ever ballplayer who never wore a Major League uniform — Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Tris Speaker rolled into one, per his teammates and foes — and who had a profound role in the game’s integration.

Charleston, a true superstar, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1976. Here’s his Hall of Fame page. And he gets his due in Jeremy’s book, which Publishers Weekly gushes over. From the review:

In the 1940s, Charleston caught Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey’s attention as a scout for the organization, work he performed up through his death, having recommended several outstanding players, including catcher Roy Campanella. Beer’s evenhanded narrative makes a convincing case for Charleston as the greatest baseball player who never played in the majors. This is a solid hit for baseball historians and fans alike.

National Pastime junkies are going to love this book. Here’s a slice I cut (with permission!) from the first chapter:

Baseball’s integration wasn’t complete—the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox had yet to field a black player—but with Mays, Irvin, Doby, Robinson, Newcombe, Campanella, Aaron, Minnie Minoso, and Ernie Banks the Major Leagues now had a cadre of established and rising black stars. What reason was there, in October 1954, to dwell on the old days? To revisit the era in which men like Charleston had excelled? To do so was embarrassing and painful. The wound of baseball’s segregated history was still fresh, progress stupefyingly slow. Black civil rights activists’ eyes were focused on the needs of the present, including implementation of the desegregation order handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court just a few months earlier in a case called Brown v. Board of Education. The erstwhile defenders of baseball’s and society’s racial status quo had no interest in being reminded of the talented players they and their predecessors had ignored. Everyone seemed to agree: let the dead bury the dead.

When news of Charleston’s passing came, then, it did not spark curiosity among those outside the diminishing Negro Leagues community about this man known as an—if not the—all-time Negro Leagues great. It amounted to little more than the fact that another old black ballplayer had died. He was said to have been incredible, but who could tell? Even if you were curious to learn more, there were no reliable statistics, no audio or video evidence, no books, no reference materials, nothing with which to substantiate virtually any claim made about Oscar Charleston or any other player whom you hadn’t seen with your own eyes.

Charleston’s death gained only the briefest mention in non- black sources. The Sporting News ran a one-paragraph notice. Charleston’s hometown Indianapolis Star ran a short obituary. The Philadelphia Inquirer ignored his death completely, even though he had lived in the city for nearly fifteen years. Thus did Oscar Charleston enter an afterlife of persistent, and entirely unmerited, obscurity.

For the rest of the 1950s and 1960s Charleston’s name was rarely mentioned outside the black press. That was true, of course, of virtually every Negro Leaguer who never played in the Majors. But even those black players who became big league stars during the postwar period generally refrained from name-checking Oscar. Jackie Robinson, the African American with the biggest public platform in the 1950s and ’60s, never mentioned Charleston in his various autobiographies and articles, even though Charleston was closely involved with Branch Rickey’s plan to break baseball’s color line. For Jackie as for most others—including Hank Aaron—who made their names in the post–1947 world, the Negro Leagues were something about which to be embarrassed. Jackie’s teammate Roy Campanella attempted to credit Charleston for helping to scout him, but in his 1959 autobiography either he or his ghostwriter mistakenly devoted a paragraph to “Oscar Robertson” rather than Charleston. Suffice to say that the Cincinnati Bearcats basketball star, although he grew up in the same Indianapolis neighborhood as Charleston, had nothing to do with Campanella’s entry into the National League.

It took the opinionated and iconoclastic Ted Williams to puncture the imaginative barrier segregating pre-integration black players from their white contemporaries and the black stars who came later. “The other day Willie Mays hit his 522nd home run,” said Williams from the podium during his 1966 Hall of Fame induction speech at Cooperstown, New York. “He has gone past me,” Williams continued, “and he’s pushing, and I say to him, ‘Go get ’em, Willie.’ Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”

It was the first time any inductee had such a thing. Williams’s speech spurred the Hall of Fame to begin seriously considering pre-integration black players for induction. But note that Williams only called for Paige’s and Gibson’s election specifically. Earlier stars like Charleston remained absent from his, and everyone else’s, radar.

Pre-order directly from the publisher (University of Nebraska Press) and get a 40% discount (here’s the order link, and use the code 6AS19). You want Amazon? Fine, here’s the link.

Now Jeremy is no dope: Averse to shoveling snow, he lives in Phoenix. And that’s where, on November 14, there will be a groovy book-launch event (at Changing Hands Bookstore), where Jeremy will be interviewed by Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro, who has the Diamondbacks beat. Info about the event is here. Go if you can.

A Dios

This is typed at my daughter’s home. She is a school nurse, something is being delivered, someone had to be there, Mr. Someone can bang out WJ here just as well as anywhere. Sadie, the beloved rottweiler, whines the whole time, feet away, wanting attention. She loves Mr. Someone. The feeling is mutual. Whining or not, dog spelled backwards . . . Pets come and go. When they go, they take a piece of our heart with them. For those who ache right now over a Fido, called home to play catch with Abraham, lend a prayer. And on a more human level, pray for brave souls in Hong Kong who risk life and limb for the rights many of us, this side of Mr. James, continue to believe to be unalienable.

God’s blessings on You, Your Family and Your Loved Ones, Even the Four-Legged Kind,

Jack Fowler, who can be shocked and awed by your thoughts if conveyed to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

It’s a Wonderful . . . Strife

Dear Weekend Jolter,

This past Tuesday, NR launched its 2019 Fall Webathon, the second of our twice-annual online fundraisers seeking help to keep the USS Buckley supplied with depth charges to drop on America’s lefty enemies.

You are permitted to translate that as a request for general support — and if you read it as an entreaty for your personal support, well, you’d be on to something. But know this before you scroll away: This appeal is about more than keeping on the lights. It’s also about our real need to fund the nation’s most important legal fight, Mann v. National Review.

We should know within two weeks about the future of this pressing strife, really not so wonderful: Will the United States Supreme Court take up the case (here is NR’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed in May, asking for such), or will a jury trial proceed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, where we may find a dozen residents of the Capital deciding policy on global warming? Either way, there will be a terribly hefty tab.

Back in 2012, Penn State professor Michael Mann sued NR. The D.C. Court has repeatedly refused to toss his claim, despite the Supreme Court’s numerous rulings broadly protecting free speech, and this year ordered the case to go trial. Mann v. National Review in this venue has so far cost millions. Much of that has been paid by our insurer.

But a lot hasn’t. It needs to be: This has become America’s premier battle for free speech, and it involves not just NR’s rights, but those of every American.

Your Humble Correspondent figures that when it comes to speech, the folks on the Left are very much in favor of conservatives’ rights — as long as they are limited to our Miranda rights. They want us to be silent. We refuse. So do you. That’s why we ask for, and need, your financial support to help defray the legal costs. Provide that help and you will be defending, literally, a fundamental liberty. Donate here.

By the way, in that picture above, there are two folks who were donors to NR: Ward Bond (Bert, the cop) and Jimmy Stewart, George Bailey himself. If you look closely at the image, it’s a donation scene. Hint. Hint. Tell us you are inspired!

Entreaties and hints having been made, let us get on with the Weekend Jolt.

Editorials

1. We find President Trump’s decision to hand over to Turkey the matters of ISIS and northern Iraq, where America’s Kurdish allies — despised by the Turks — are sure to face new terrors. From our editorial:

The Trump administration is making a serious mistake. Late Sunday night, it released a statement declaring that Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria” and that American forces “will no longer be in the immediate area.” The practical result of this statement is obvious: Turkey now has an American permission slip to conduct an invasion into Kurdish territory, kill American allies, and carve out a zone of dominance that will further inflame and complicate one of the world’s most dangerous regions.

There are no easy answers in Syria. While the ISIS caliphate is in ruins, ISIS itself is still potent and active in both Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Civil War grinds on, and the conflict between the Turks and the Kurds has festered for decades. American forces are in a perilous place, but their presence not only helps maintain momentum in the fight against ISIS, it also deters further genocidal bloodshed in northern Syria. The United States should have an exit strategy, but one that neither squanders our tactical gains against ISIS nor exposes our allies to unacceptable retribution.

Trump’s action, unfortunately, raises the risk of both bad outcomes. As Kurds reposition to confront a potential Turkish invasion, they’ll invariably pull back from the fight against ISIS, and while Trump seems to believe (based on Sunday night’s statement) that “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States,” the more likely outcome is a loss of control of ISIS detention camps.

2. In the midst of the Ukraine Circus, we advise POTUS to can the antics and strategize for revenge to come in a reelection next November. From the editorial:

President Trump has reacted to the controversy by, as is his wont, filling the airwaves and Twitter timelines with haymaker counterpunches and wild charges. Much of this hasn’t been helpful to his cause and has been unworthy of his office. The president shouldn’t troll the press and his domestic opponents with theatrical calls for China to investigate the Bidens, nor should he ridiculously accuse his critics of treason. Utah senator Mitt Romney’s denunciations of Trump’s statements are sincere and shouldn’t be met with presidential abuse and derision. Trump always acts like he’s one of his own surrogates and, in this case, has often sounded like one of his anonymous supporters on Twitter.

The truth is that, absent some radical change in the dynamic, the House is inevitably going to impeach Trump and the Senate is inevitably going to acquit him. What we’re essentially arguing about is how this impeachment and acquittal will be regarded in the run-up to 2020 by independents and persuadable voters. The president — if he’s capable of it — should pitch his defense to those voters, with the understanding that, from his perspective, the best revenge would be making himself the first president to be impeached and reelected.

3. We call a flagrant foul on the NBA. From the editorial:

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, it’s that the NBA (and ESPN and Apple and Blizzard) have united Americans across the political spectrum. Progressives and conservatives alike are repulsed by the rank opportunism and venal censorship of allegedly “woke” American corporations. Each new progressive corporate foray into American politics should be met with an immediate follow-up: “Thank you for your thoughts on pro-life laws in Georgia. Do you care to comment on the concentration camps near your basketball camp in the People’s Republic of China? Do you care to comment on your decision to silence Americans who dissent from Chinese repression in Hong Kong? Do you have any thoughts on aiding Hong Kong police by deleting an app that helps protesters avoid physical beatings?”

While exposing corporate hypocrisy is useful, the much deeper issue remains. American companies seeking access to the Chinese market risk being conscripted into the Chinese system of repression.

But for now, the NBA is exposed. When push comes to shove, it is not progressive. It does not love liberty. It’s a crass commercial enterprise masquerading as a value-laden league. Its “bravest” voices — those who are ready, willing, and eager to uncork angry screeds against domestic political foes — have trouble making the mildest of statements against truly horrific human-rights violations. How “complicated” are concentration camps, exactly? Keep this up, and the NBA may well find that its craven appeasement of 10 percent of its revenue market will cost it dearly with the 90 percent who truly pay its multi-billion dollar bills.

4. Beto O’Rourke, not heading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but wherever he is going, to cheers he is attacking the roots of American civil society. We condemn the claptrap. From the editorial:

Other candidates have not yet echoed O’Rourke. But the crowd applauded. And his position has not come out of nowhere. President Obama’s solicitor general suggested to the Supreme Court that the tax exemption of religious colleges that oppose same-sex marriage might have to be revisited. Six of the presidential candidates, including leading contender Elizabeth Warren, have co-sponsored the “Equality Act,” which specifically states that religious believers could not invoke the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to ask to escape its new restrictions on private conduct. It would be the first congressional limitation of the religious-freedom law since it was enacted, nearly by acclamation, in 1993. Several of the candidates have also endorsed another piece of legislation that is specifically directed at shrinking the reach of that law.

Put on Your Shades Because You Are about to See a Dozen Examples of Brilliant Conservatism

1. Rich Lowry takes on “1619 Project” distortionist Nikole Hannah-Jones. From his essay:

Hannah-Jones’s account of American slavery is justly excoriating but is careful to leave out anything that might even slightly complicate her story or might prove discomfiting to the Left.

“They were,” Hannah-Jones writes of the first slaves brought to colonial America, “among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean.” She doesn’t say who kidnapped them. She refers later to “people stolen from western and central Africa.” Again, she doesn’t say who first stole these people so they could be sent across the Atlantic in chains.

Why not? Like it or not, it was Africans who captured other Africans, and marched them to the coast to be sold to European slavers. African slavery existed before Europeans showed up, and it persisted after they left. This, of course, doesn’t make the Middle Passage, so excruciatingly awful it’s difficult to even read about, any better. But it cuts against the impression that she wants to leave that slavery was a uniquely European, and especially American, phenomenon.

Indeed, you might get the idea from reading her essay that colonial Americans were the ones who came up with the idea of racialized slavery. Sadly, it had a long history before Thomas Jefferson showed up on the scene.

2. Andy McCarthy believes the US / Kurd / Turkey situation is a little more complicated than it seems. From his commentary:

Some U.S. military officials went public with complaints about being “blindsided.” The policy cannot have been a surprise, though. The president has made no secret that he wants out of Syria, where we now have about 1,000 troops (down from over 2,000 last year). More broadly, he wants our forces out of the Middle East. He ran on that position. I’ve argued against his “endless wars” tropes, but his stance is popular. As for Syria specifically, many of the president’s advisers think we should stay, but he has not been persuaded.

The president’s announcement of the redeployment of the Syrian troops came on the heels of a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This, obviously, was a mistake, giving the appearance (and not for the first time) that Trump is taking cues from Ankara’s Islamist strongman. As has become rote, the inevitable criticism was followed by head-scratching tweets: The president vows to “totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey,” which “I’ve done before” (huh?), if Turkey takes any actions “that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits.” We can only sigh and say it will be interesting to see how the president backs up these haughty threats now that Erdogan has begun his invasion.

All that said, the president at least has a cogent position that is consistent with the Constitution and public opinion. He wants U.S. forces out of a conflict in which America’s interests have never been clear, and for which Congress has never approved military intervention. I find that sensible — no surprise, given that I have opposed intervention in Syria from the start (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The stridency of the counterarguments is matched only by their selectiveness in reciting relevant facts.

I thus respectfully dissent from our National Review editorial.

3. Helen Raleigh savages corporations for kowtowing to Commie China. From her piece:

Early last week, we learned Apple pulled a popular app, HK Map Live, from the App Store. Hong Kong protesters have been relying on this app to track police activity on the streets of Hong Kong and to avoid trouble spots. The app also helps bystanders plan their routes to their daily lives without getting caught up in increasingly violent confrontations between the police and protesters. Given the fact that Hong Kong police shot an 18-year-old protester on October 1, China’s National Day, this app could be life-saving for many.

Yet Apple decided to pull the app right after one of the bloodiest clashes between the Hong Kong police and protestors. The company informed the app developer that “Your app contains content — or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity — that is not legal. . . . Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement.”

It’s hard to believe this is the same Apple whose most iconic ad was a rebel throwing a hammer at the image of a “Big Brother,” or the same company that fought against the FBI’s request to build a backdoor access to an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

4. Hans von Spakovsky and John York take on the Democrats’ demand that Facebook “fact check” political speech. From the piece:

With political discourse, as with sports, Facebook’s “let ’em play” approach is for the best. Attempts to tightly referee political discourse often devolve into partisan point-scoring.

As peer-reviewed academic studies show, so-called media “fact-checkers” have a strong track record of partisan bias. Indeed, one very popular fact-checker, Politifact, rated Republicans as more deceptive than Democrats at a rate of about 3 to 1, with no rational justification explaining that discrepancy.

Even the most well-meaning effort to fact-check political statements is likely to be hamstrung by subjectivity. When researchers look at the way mainstream fact-checkers rated the exact same statements by politicians, they found very low agreement. It is difficult to explain that disagreement as due to anything other than the differing personal political opinions and biases of the fact-checkers.

5. Donald Trump received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. After three years of a relentless MSM he’s-a-racist barrage, a new poll has him at . . . 15%. Peter Kirsanow says this should have Democrats in a panic. From the Corner post:

It’s conceivable that the current 85 percent support for the Democratic candidate may increase once the Democrats settle on a nominee ( of course, it could also decrease). Nonetheless, Trump’s 15 percent support among black voters is astonishing given the relentless assertions by Democrats and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) over the last three years that Trump is a racist and white supremacist. Indeed, before the incessant accusations of racism began, Trump received 8 percent of the black vote, yet despite that barrage, his black support has nearly doubled. Most of the increase appears to come from black males, 32 percent of whom prefer him over any Democratic candidate. That’s a major opportunity for Trump, and a troubling prospect for Democrats.

6. The U.S.–China trade war is a slog, with another negotiation chapter occurring this week past. Progress might really happen, says Daniel Tenreiro, if the White House knew what it wanted. From the analysis:

It is unlikely that a deal will be reached at this stage. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Riley Walters, neither the Chinese nor the Americans feel sufficient pressure to make meaningful concessions. For the Chinese, removal of all American tariffs is a precondition for a deal, but the White House does not want to give up the leverage provided by tariffs until it can confirm that China is complying with the requirements of an agreement. The upshot: a continued standoff, with tariffs harming both economies.

At present, trade uncertainty has cost the U.S. up to 0.8 percent of GDP, according to Federal Reserve Board research. The good news is the American economy is resilient enough to continue growing despite tariffs. But with a gauge of American manufacturing health showing its lowest reading since 2009, the repercussions of the trade war are clear, the benefits less so.

At the outset of this trade dispute, administration officials argued that tariffs would impose short-term costs in exchange for the long-term benefits of a liberalized Chinese economy. Two years in, such an outcome appears increasingly fantastical. Instead, both sides eat the costs of tariffs and refuse to budge.

7. John Hirschauer looks at the big heap of political correctness on the Cancel Culture warpath over Atlanta Braves’ fans continued use of the “Tomahawk Chop.” From his piece:

The postseason provides the requisite pretext for an otherwise athletically illiterate pundit class to dip its toes into the world of professional baseball. So, naturally, the “tomahawk chop” chant has of late drawn the ire of those wont to have their ire drawn. Amid a growing swell of Twitter outrage, a reporter with the St. Louis Dispatch asked St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher and Cherokee Nation member Ryan Helsley what he thought of the chant. Helsley, who had just pitched against the Braves in the National League Division Series, said that he found the chant to be “a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” one that “depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual.” He lamented that Natives are “used as mascots” by the Braves and other teams.

While some in the press have since disseminated Helsley’s view as if it were representative of all Native peoples, among Native Americans themselves there has long been a diversity of opinion on the merits of Native iconography and mascots. Indeed, the lack of consensus among tribes and Native people on the issue continues to stymie the efforts of activists who want to eliminate all Native-themed mascots from the sports world. To take but one example of the frequently surprising results pollsters get when they ask self-identified Natives about the issue, a Wolvereye poll from earlier this year found that the adjective such respondents most commonly associated with the Washington Redskins’ team name —a brand far more fraught and controversial than that of the Braves — was “proud.”

8. Terf Wars: OK this a two-parter, because Madeleine Kearns saw and heard so much at a recent D.C. LGBTQ rally outside the Supreme Court that trying to cram her brilliant observations into one article would not suffice. From the first part:

Wandering through the crowds I then came across a group of four 18-year-old girls. They had just started as freshmen at American University and this was also their first rally. I asked what brought them out here today. To celebrate their queer and lesbian identities and to offer support to other LGBT people! Why all the labels? “Because it gives us a name to how we’re feeling,” one explained. None of them knew what the cases being heard at the Supreme Court were about, but they had a vague idea. They were about discriminating against LGBT people. Which they’re obviously against. How did they hear about the rally? “We found out about this event at our [college’s] center of diversity,” one explained. What’s that? “It’s a really good community for LGBTQ people and their allies.”

Like the first young man, I put the Martin Luther King idea to them. They considered it. “But it doesn’t hurt to respect someone else’s identity,” one said. I agreed but gave a handful of scenarios — real scenarios — in which overlooking a person’s biological sex has hurt people, mostly women and children.

“Well, I don’t know how much we can read into these kinds of one-off cases,” one said. I then walked them through some of the feminist arguments about redefining sex (which they had never heard before). “Are you talking about terfs?” [trans-exclusive radical feminists] “Because terfs are really problematic for a number of reasons,” one said. I gave an example of a “terf” I know, a lesbian who is not attracted to trans women because, though it’s considered impolite to say, trans women are men. Is it transphobic for her not to want to date a trans woman? “A woman with a penis?” At this, the girls became visibly uncomfortable. “Oh, we’re only 18,” one said. “We don’t know so much about the sex stuff. You’d need to ask someone older.”

And from Part Two:

Where did I leave you? Oh, yes. I was sitting on a wall, waiting for the cops to move, and two men had just finished telling me about the nasty “terfs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) who hold the bigoted view that women can’t have penises — “ever!”

After the cops gave us the greenlight, the LGBTQ protestors — accompanied by yours truly –charged down First Street. I never did learn how to count crowds in journalism school, but my guess, as I mentioned earlier, would be that the LGBTQ activists outnumbered the “terfs” & co at a ratio of around ten to one.

9. Maybe daddy and mommy didn’t hug you enough, but Kevin Williamson, bouncing off all the recent Joker psychobabbling, says the cause-hunting is easy; it’s confronting the existence of evil sans explanation that deserves some storytelling. From the essay:

The problem of evil has bedeviled Christian thinkers from the beginning. Men of faith and men struggling to keep their faith alike have found themselves paralyzed by the question: “How could it be that God, being both good and omnipotent, allows evil in the world?” Often this is asked in relation to some private tragedy: “Mr. Smith was a good man — why did he get cancer?” Denis Leary was covering the same moral territory in his standup act back in the Nineties: “John Lennon takes six bullets in the chest. Yoko Ono is standing right next to him, not one bullet! Explain that to me, God!” This is the adolescent form of moral theology, based on the presumption that God owes us an explanation, that we are entitled to have Him justify Himself to us. The existence of evil requires no more divine justification than the existence of anything else, but we keep trying, because we would rather believe almost anything, no matter how absurd — consider the intellectual careers of Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, or Michel Foucault — rather than face the terrifying facts of the case.

10. Kyle Smith thinks that Gemini Man cuts the cheesy. From the review:

Billy Lynn was a notorious catastrophe, yet Lee is giving it one more go with the Will Smith vehicle Gemini Man, a much more expensive film that has a third gimmick to go with the 3D and the high frame rate: Will Smith plays both a 51-year-old character and a 23-year-old version of the same. Watch Will fight himself! This is a pretty cheesy idea in itself but, together with the tech and the 1990s-style screenplay, it’s as if Cheddartown blew up and landed on Gorgonzolaville. The filming style makes all acting look bad and all action look contrived. It’s as if we’re watching a live Disney World stunt show; it’s impossible to get lost in the story because everything seems like it’s being staged right in front of you. The clarity of the images is a paradox: Because it strips away the veneer that makes illusions work, it plays as both hyper-real and hyper-fake. Even if Gemini Man weren’t clotted with dated tough-guy banter that’s strictly out of a Rainer Wolfcastle flick (“We need a missile and YOU are the missile” is the kind of thing the super-assassins tell each other), it would come across as a two-hour cringe of a movie. It’s baffling that Lee is doubling down after Billy Lynn was so soundly rejected, but after this movie flops, I expect the question of high-frame-rate filmmaking to be settled.

Smith’s character Henry Brogan is a hit man working for one of those secret spy agencies within the spy agencies. He is heading for retirement when he gets double-crossed by the spook (Clive Owen) in charge of the new Gemini project and is forced to go. On. The. Run. While a team of expert killers gives chase, in Georgia, Henry joins forces with a marina worker named Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is actually an undercover super-spy herself. Yes, this is one of those movies where a 93-pound woman lays waste to a series of expertly trained 200-pound men and yet we’re not supposed to laugh.

The fastest, sharpest killer on Henry’s trail is Junior, the 23-year-old Will Smith. Young Smith looks fantastic. Hollywood’s latest obsession is digitally de-aging older actors, and we all marveled at this effect when it appeared just three years ago in Captain America: Civil War, which de-aged Robert Downey Jr. Now the technology is all but finished, pretty much seamless. I’d hate to be starting out as a young actor today.

11. Martin Scorsese disses comic-book flicks . . . from America’s basements a million cries of outrage are heard . . . and Armond White reports on the cultural tides coming in and out. From the piece:

Scorsese has taken an essentially conservative position, and the backlash it has raised is analogous to fiscally conservative but culturally liberal variations in social policy.

It felt like betrayal to those Roger Ebert lemmings still worshipping Scorsese as America’s greatest filmmaker simply on the basis of his love of visual extravagance and violence. MCU worshippers are encouraged to enjoy action and violence for its fantasy, not the shocking realism of the bar fights in Mean Streets, the surreal gunplay in Who’s That Knocking?, Harvey Keitel’s aggressive masculine threat in Alice, the self-punishment in Raging Bull, or the sociopathy in Taxi Driver.

Scorsese was reacting against the degradation of cinema’s artistic purpose more than against Hollywood practice itself. That his personal gangster-movie franchise suggests little more than a mob-violence theme-park ride is ironic; the repetitions of Raging Bull, GoodFellas, Casino, and The Departed have contributed to the modern viewer’s reliance on overwrought, impotent machismo and a thirst for irresponsible vicarious thrills. In other words, comic-book movies.

When Scorsese said, “I don’t see them. I tried, you know,” his apologetic demurral indicates exhaustion with formula — not excitement with visionary voluptuousness as seen in the Zack Snyder films that belong to the mythological mode of Scorsese’s hero John Boorman.

12. Love Thy Neighbor, Low-Cal: Robert VerBruggen does his analytical stuff and sees that there is tension between diversity and trust. From the piece:

To prepare readers to be underwhelmed, the authors point out that only 5 to 10 percent of the variation in people’s trust levels stems from differences across contexts like neighborhoods, as opposed to differences among individuals within those contexts. In other words, it’s common for someone to be much less trusting than his neighbor, but comparatively rare for a whole neighborhood to be much less trusting than another one. Further, diversity levels are just one feature that differentiates one context from another, alongside more directly pertinent ones such as crime rates.

On average across all the studies, diversity accounts for . . . something like 0.7 percent of the variation, above and beyond what we can explain with other variables. I don’t think a finding that small should play much of a role in the immigration debate. But the paper also notes some interesting patterns within these results and suggests avenues for further research.

For one thing, the effect of diversity on trust is most apparent at lower levels of geography. Diverse neighborhoods see lower levels of trust much more reliably than diverse countries do. Presumably this is because the demographics of someone’s neighborhood affect his day-to-day life a lot more than the overall demographics of his country do.

For another, different types of trust have different relationships with diversity. Trust in neighbors is most clearly lower when diversity is high. Interestingly, trust in members of out-groups is least clearly affected, suggesting that the phenomenon here is not just about racist backlash to immigration, though some people may hesitate to admit to survey-takers that they distrust out-groups specifically.

There are other interesting complications to this research as well. Different ethnic groups often have different levels of trust, so if you control for the ethnicities of the people who answer a trust survey, you separate out two different effects. You might find, as Caplan summarized Putnam’s results, that “‘diverse’ communities have low trust, but the reason isn’t that diversity hurts trust; it’s that non-whites — especially blacks and Hispanics — have low trust.”

Another Edition of Your Favorite Magazine Is Out: You Will Find the October 28, 2019, Issue of NR . . . Energizing!

This is the annual issue in which we provide a special section on energy, and then there are a bunch of terrific articles and profiles elsewhere, so howzabout we share six links so you can have a real conservative hunker-down?

1. The cover essay is by Douglas Murray, and in it he looks at the Brexit knot and the constitutional problem facing England. From the essay:

For almost three years May tried to untie the knot. Her government initiated Article 50, the previously unused mechanism by which member states are supposed to be able to leave the EU. That set the Brexit clock ticking, for the departing country is meant to leave the EU two years after the Article 50 process is initiated.

As we survey the resulting problem it is worth remembering that all of this was done with the approval of Parliament. Now that the opposition parties are resisting efforts to leave, they and some segments of the governing Conservatives like to pretend that Parliament is representing the people against the government’s injudicious wishes. But this is to assume that the British public has no memory as well as no voice.

For all the major parties in the British Parliament voted to approve the holding of a referendum on the EU. Some—such as the Liberal Democrats—had made it party policy to hold such an in/out referendum before David Cameron’s Conservative party promised the same. Parliament also oversaw the initiating of the Article 50 process, a process that Cameron and other “remain” campaigners in the 2016 referendum had described many times and very plainly. If after two years the U.K. and the EU could not agree on the terms of the separation, then the U.K. would leave the EU without a deal. Which would mean, among other things, trading on World Trade Organization rules.

Yet sharp-eyed observers will have noticed that the two-year deadline came and went (in March) and then again (in June) after extensions were requested and granted. And so Britain remains in the European Union. And it was here that Prime Minister May came across the most intransigent portion of the national knot.

For Parliament had always been of a different view than the people. Though the public had voted by a majority to leave, around two-thirds of members of Parliament had been in favor of Britain’s remaining in the EU. And so as the deadlines came and went, MPs came up with ever more objections to the deadlines that were hurtling towards them. Most popular among them was their decision that “no deal” Brexit would be a disaster and that the public had “never voted for ‘no deal.’” And while it is true that the public had not been asked any such specifics in the simple in-or-out question, it had voted “out,” and the potential consequences of this had been explained. Yet a Parliament that wanted “in” attempted to persuade itself and the public that the Brexit knot was just too complex for any mortal to undo. Meaning—reluctantly or otherwise—that it really made much better sense to remain “in.”

2. Charlie Cooke visits Justice Neil Gorsuch in his SCOTUS chambers, where they talk Constitution, “originalism,” and much more. From the piece:

Of particular concern is the delegation of legislative power to the executive branch—a development that trades a “very public, very raucous process” in which “minority rights . . . play a special role” for “lawmaking by one person.” The U.S. Constitution, he explains, “put the legislative power in a branch full of all sorts of checks and balances within itself. Two houses, responsive to different electorates at different times, have to concur, and then get the president’s agreement, or override his veto. . . . Forget about the Senate rules! That alone puts minorities at the fulcrum of power. That’s what’s going to protect your rights at the end of the day: the vulnerable, the unpopular, the pariah.”

What happens if this system is bypassed? “You’ve bought yourself a king. Or maybe worse yet: What if the president can’t even control the executive-branch official? You’ve bought yourself an unelected king—an unresponsive-to-anybody king, who may be subject to capture, because, as you know, federal agencies can be captured by those they regulate. . . . What happens to the average person? They can’t capture the agency. So you wind up with an awful lot of law, and some of it protects interests that don’t need protection, and makes life particularly difficult for the people who can’t protect themselves on K Street.”

3. And then John McCormack grabs a beer and talks GOP turkey with Nebraska’s incumbent conservative senator, up for reelection in a conservative world amok-running. From the profile:

Why does Sasse, who has publicly mused about leaving the Republican party and who is so plainly conflicted about the Republican president, even want to serve another term in the Senate?

That question has been raised by many of his critics, but especially by those who say the Nebraska senator is a show horse, not a legislative workhorse. New York magazine columnist Josh Barro wrote that Sasse “ran for office as a ‘healthcare expert.’ Then, where was he during the health law debate? Even setting Trump aside, he seems to have no interest in all the non-commencement-speech aspects of the job.” During his first term, Sasse wrote two books, but he never put any sort of comprehensive alternative to Obamacare into legislation.

The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare was a collective failure of the Republican party—with leaders in Congress and the White House deserving an extra share of blame—and there’s no reason to think one Senate freshman could have changed the outcome. But Sasse, a former assistant secretary of health and human services, in the Bush administration, did indeed run for the Senate as a candidate uniquely qualified to go after Obamacare. NATIONAL REVIEW even put him on the cover, as “Obamacare’s Nebraska Nemesis.” In 2015, he introduced a bill to temporarily provide tax credits in the event the Supreme Court invalidated Obamacare, and earlier this year he introduced a bill expanding health-savings accounts, but he really wasn’t in the thick of the Obamacare-repeal debate in 2017. Why not?

4. Mario Loyola, in the special section’s lead piece, takes on the political threats to America’s shale-gas revolution. From the piece:

The new numbers beggared belief. Official estimates had put North Ameri ca in its last decades of recoverable oil and gas. Suddenly the U.S. and Canada each had 500 or 600 years or more of recoverable reserves. It was like discovering the huge Texas fields of a hundred years ago all over again. By the time Obama’s Clean Power Plan was released, the fracking boom was already on its way to creating a million jobs in U.S. manufacturing as a result of much cheaper electricity, a boon for which Obama promptly took credit. Last year, America surpassed every country in OPEC to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas.

In a comical irony, fracking may be reducing carbon emissions more than all the world’s climate policies put together. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. carbon emissions from energy production are down 11 percent from the historic peak of 2007, largely thanks to the displacement of coal by natural gas in electricity generation. By contrast, Europe’s draconian climate measures have reduced carbon emissions by only about 8 percent in that time, while in the Asia-Pacific region carbon emissions have jumped more than 40 percent.

But shale formations brimming with oil and gas can be found all over the world. So why did the fracking boom happen only in North America? The answer is simple: Canada and the United States are the only countries whose energy producers are private companies, and the only ones where subsurface minerals can be privately owned. So North American companies have an incentive to innovate that no government could have: competition.

By tapping into shale, fracking has unleashed a historic revolution. And American natural gas can reshape the world energy market—if we can transport it. Besides rapidly tilting the trade balance in America’s favor, exports of liquefied natural gas (or “LNG”) from the United States will make Europe and Asia less dependent on Russia and the Middle East for natural gas, increasing America’s global influence.

5. Mark Mills is shocked by America’s woeful electrical grid. From the analysis:

If America, say, tripled its wind and solar capacity, matching Germany’s share from those sources, we’d still be a long way from a hydrocarbon-free grid. Germany’s massive Energiewende policy hasn’t come close to achieving its stated goal of radically lowering carbon dioxide emissions, but the nation now has Europe’s highest electricity rates.

More relevant in our digital age are implications for reliability, as subsidies and mandates impose on grids more electricity from wind and solar, energy sources that are inherently “variable,” a term-of-art that the Department of Energy uses. “Variable” because, unlike conventional power plants, the output from wind and solar machines is dictated by the vicissitudes of nature. Obviously there’s the diurnal variability, but the greater challenge for reliability is that both wind and solar experience unpredictable episodic declines as well as wide seasonal swings.

Building a 100-megawatt solar or wind farm instead of a combustion-based 100-megawatt power plant has consequences. Conventional plants produce the same amount of electricity day or night, summer or winter, anytime required. A solar or wind machine varies from 100 megawatts under peak conditions to half that during the off-season and, with daily regularity, falls to zero.

6. Speaking of energy, the supercharged Kat Timpf takes a turn writing for the magazine, and it is a terrific account of comedian Dave Chappelle’s pushback against political correctness. From her piece:

The truth is, out in the Real World, humor that isn’t afraid to push boundaries has always been popular. South Park (a show that has joked about subjects ranging from Mohammed to the Virgin Mary to Caitlyn Jenner to the death of Trayvon Martin) was just renewed through a 26th season. At the end of September, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will begin its 14th season, even though the last one featured comedic episodes on topics that the Woke Warriors would certainly say you may not joke about, such as the transgender-bathroom debate and Me Too.

There’s empirical evidence suggesting that the people who support extreme levels of political correctness are the ones who are, as Martin put it in his review of Chappelle’s special, “out of touch with today”—not the other way around. A study released last year by the international research initiative More in Common, titled “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” found that 80 percent of the population believes “political correctness is a problem in our country,” including 61 percent of traditional liberals. Like a beautiful but mean high-school bully after losing the Student Council election, the PC Police have learned they are not as popular as they thought they were.

How, then, did they get so powerful? It’s simple: Cultural censorship through fear. The social-justice crowd has become the dominant voice on cultural affairs not because their views are actually the most popular, but because they are so good at silencing the others.

For many Americans, the prospect of being called “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” or otherwise “problematic” has become more terrifying than death itself. People are afraid of being “canceled”; the Thought Police know hat. They don’t have to worry about finding silly things such as “logic” or “facts” to prop up their positions—they have a much easier route: your fear.

We Three Books of National Review Are . . .

So before we get to the main course, let’s recommend three books — one out, two on the cusp of release — that no true conservative can be without.

Uno: Andy McCarthy’s best-selling Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency is an exceptional work of history and judgment, and since the colluding never seems to end, a must-read.

Due: Coming out on Election Day (that’s November 5) is Rich Lowry’s already-much-talked-about The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. It is impossible to resist serving you a whistle-wetting slice:

When abstracted from his combative rhetorical style and more idiosyncratic policy enthusiasms (e.g., taking Iraq’s oil), the rudiments of Trump’s nationalism should be hard to oppose, or would be in a more rational time than one we live in.

In his widely panned Inaugural Address, Trump said that “a nation exists to serve its citizens” and that “we are one nation,” sharing “one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.” What is the alternative to this vision, one wonders? Serving the citizens of other countries? The nation as a collection of tribal and other interest groups that doesn’t share a common destiny?

On foreign policy, Trump was considerably more grounded that his predecessors. In his 2005 Inaugural Address, George W. Bush, a champion of universal freedom, quite seriously promised to spread freedom everywhere around the world. In 2009, Barack Obama, in his more soaring moments a self-styled “citizen of the world,” predicted how “as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself,” and averred, “America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

Trump simply left it at, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

This, too, should be uncontroversial. Where, historically, many nationalists around the world have fallen down is not recognizing the right of other people to self-government. Trump has repeatedly made it clear that his nationalism is broadly applicable.

Hey: If you pre-order the book, go to this Google Docs thingy, input the requested info and proof of purchase, and the Sons of Warvan or some other galactic force will send you a real, honest-to-goodness Rich Lowry–signed bookplate that you can slap on that sucker!

Tre: Wait a moment . . . November 5 is also the official publication date of Richard Brookhiser’s new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea. Rats! There’s no slice to offer now, but next week we’ll rectify that by offering a slice and a scoop of ice cream. The delay should not keep you from pre-ordering a copy now.

By the way, here is what Kirkus Reviews has to say about Give Me Liberty: Brookhiser “grounds his spirited argument for American exceptionalism in the idea of liberty. . . . An engaging history of admirable episodes from America’s past.”

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, our old pal David Frisk reviews Nicholas Buccola’s new book, The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America. From the review:

Nonetheless, the Buckley position would in fact have maintained more white domination of the South for longer. In the same year as the Cambridge debate, Louis Waldman, a prominent liberal labor attorney, published in the New York State Bar Journal an essay called “Civil Rights-Yes, Civil Disobedience-No,” a case against mass lawbreaking for higher moral purposes. Buckley’s skepticism of the civil rights movement went further than Waldman’s non-racial discussion, and further than arguments against the federal government’s constitutional authority to enact a sweeping civil rights law. The title of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s short book Why We Can’t Wait perfectly expressed his movement’s moral urgency. In stark contrast, Buckley can be said with little exaggeration to have held that African-Americans—although ultimate justice was, he conceded, on their side—must wait.

That position is indefensible in decent discourse today. But although it’s a true description of Buckley’s view as far as it goes, it is only a partial description, because he also believed and urged that the white South act in the interest of its large black minority, not merely its own. It must, he said, begin working toward fair treatment and full citizenship for African-Americans and must conscientiously persist in this. Its apparent self-interest should not stand in the way of that goal. Buckley’s total position was still a world apart from King’s “why we can’t wait,” which by 1965 had become the mainstream view, at least as publicly expressed, in American politics. As such, it is easy to mock or condemn. Yet it also had something in common with the militant Baldwin’s perspective: This is such a deep human problem, both said, and it’s ultimately about the heart and soul. It should also be noted, again, that the book ends in late 1965. Buckley certainly accepted the civil rights revolution that was completed, legally speaking, by the end of the decade. Buccola shows that in 1964, and again this probably isn’t well-known, he had sympathized with the segregationist Alabama governor Wallace’s candidacy in the Democratic presidential primaries. In 1968, Buckley publicly and privately denounced Wallace, then a third-party presidential candidate.

2. It’s troubling to entrust Turkey’s leadership with anything but spreading misery and brutality, and at Gatestone Institute, Burak Bekdil has some apt comparisons to Uncle Joe from Georgia (the other one). From the analysis:

More recently, on September 22, a Turkish man received a record-breaking prison sentence for insulting Erdoğan. Burhan Borak, a resident of the predominantly Kurdish province of Van in eastern Turkey, was sentenced to 12 years and 3 months in jail, for seven social media posts in 2014. The sentence was the severest punishment for cases of insult against the president, according to Borak’s lawyer. (Between 2010 and 2017, 12,893 cases of insulting the president were filed, according to Professor Yaman Akdeniz, an academic and cyber rights activist.) With that, Erdoğan holds the title of the world’s most insulted president — a title he could have lost to Stalin if the Soviet dictator were still alive.

Instead of Stalin’s gulags, Turkey has its courts. On September 20, a Turkish court held its first hearing of a case against two Bloomberg reporters accused of “trying to undermine Turkey’s economic stability.” The allegations against Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç are based on a 2018 story they wrote about how Turkish authorities and banks were responding to the biggest currency shock in the country since 2001.

“They’ve been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events,” said Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. “We are committed to them and to press freedom and hope that the judiciary will do right by acquitting them.”

Thirty-six other defendants, including prominent economist Mustafa Sönmez and journalist Sedef Kabaş, are also on trial for their social media comments on Turkey’s economy and banks.

The pro-Erdoğan media are full of joy over the trial. “This [Bloomberg’s report and social media accounts] is an economic coup [d’état],” wrote Ali Karaasanoğlu, a columnist for the Yeni Akit daily and a staunch supporter of Erdoğan. “You [addressing the defendants] are suspects of a serious crime of aiming to appreciate the U.S., British and EU currencies.”

3. Author Pew Ewert may be the guy who inspired brat Great Thunberg to hector us internationally on climate change. But writing at Acton Institute’s Transatlantic Blog, Ewert has some advice for the globe-hopping Swedish teen, who may be an in-the-making revolutionary. From his piece:

To be sure, climate and environment are important topics. However, their solution is not found in panic, but in well-conceived plans. In her speeches Greta has repeatedly, and apparently with growing frustration, declared that politicians do nothing, and that the causes behind the climate threats are found in the capitalist system. But both claims are untrue. Instead, the climate situation calls for skilled and bold entrepreneurs who can invent, and market, climate-benefitting tools for the twenty-first century. The solution lies in making such decisions that would make a real change, instead of sending general accusations against those who are making a positive impact.

Several people have called Greta Thunberg a modern prophet. Uncompromising as she may be in challenging authorities, she does not fill the role of an Old Testament prophet. She does not pretend to be the voice of God. On the contrary, her message reflects a hope for earthly salvation, whereby mankind can save itself from the evil forces behind the climate threat. This view has its deficiencies as well; the real culprit in this drama is not the market economy, but rather the ego-centred, short-sighted philosophy which appears all over the field of human activity: among individuals, politicians and yes, even radical youth movements.

Here is also where Greta’s message may turn downright dangerous. Her concluding words to the UN—“Change is coming, whether you like it or not”—ring uncomfortable historical bells. The same applies to her words which were highlighted on the UN building some days earlier, that it is no longer good enough for the politicians to do their best: “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.” Such revolutionary phrases have swept over the world before, rarely with good consequences.

4. At The College Fix, editor Jennifer Kabbany talks up Mary Eberstadt and her new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, which declares feminism has proven self-defeating. From the piece:

“When this all started out, feminism looked like a jubilant, bra-burning liberation movement, but as the decades have rolled on it’s become something very different, which is this masculine, snarling, angry entity — and again this swagger is just a form of looking tougher than one is in a world where the risks are higher,” Eberstadt said.

“I think we see this in the #MeToo movement, there is a lack of social knowledge about the opposite sex, and that is why students arriving on campuses are arriving primed to believe the most outrageous lies about the opposite sex, like all men are rapists, or like the kind of lies that all men embrace by watching pornographic narratives and having those be their source of information about the opposite sex,” she said. “So we have a lot of people in both sexes who don’t know the other side well at all.”

With that, today’s university administrators now act like parents and umpires, but the trend’s explanation runs deeper, she said.

“You throw out the Christian rule book and it turns out people will try to reconfigure relations between the sexes with some kind of rule book,” Eberstadt said. “So now we’ve got the consent rule book, these Draconian codes on campus, all meant to substitute for what the traditional family and the traditional religion did, which is to rein men in with rules.”

5. At The American Mind, Robin Burk worries about an American Collapse, and believes there is a “rethink” that will prevent it. From the essay:

Networks, and in particular adaptive networks, impact our lives today at every level from the local household to the increasing inability of transnational structures and agreements to provide stability and well-being to the citizenry of the West.

And not only of the West. Globally-oriented trade and other agreements have destroyed traditional communities and societies elsewhere as well. Radical Islamist terror networks and violent groups like Antifa are only two examples of the response such disruption triggers—and those networks are themselves enabled and empowered by modern technologies, financial networks, and other networked systems originally devised in the West.

If political thinking is to be effective in the face of the progressive Left’s collectivist juggernaut, it must address the centrality of complex adaptive networks in our lives today. Such networks have deeply disrupted the status quo economically, socially, and geopolitically. Anodyne talk of free markets (while corporations cozy up with regulators) and of the primacy of the individual (while ignoring the physical and virtual community contexts within which we all live as individuals) has deeply failed. The current populist wave that elected Donald Trump to the White House is one evidence of that.

But what can we say about complex adaptive networks? Political theorists are not, for the most part, prepared to delve into the mathematics of modern network science. Fortunately, they don’t need to be. What follows are a few insights that can already be gained from this new discipline. They present a challenge and opportunity for new political thought.

6. The Hotel California seems to be the model for the EU’s position on the UK and Brexiting. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce laments over the Euro Elites’ relentless hypocrisy. From the reflection:

How many times do the British people need to “check out” of the European Union before they are allowed to leave? When will the political establishment practice the democratic principles that it claims to advocate?

The answers to these questions appear to lie (in both senses of the word) in a surreal reliance on Orwellian doublethink and newspeak. Thus, for instance, the pro-EU lobby claims that Boris Johnson is betraying democracy and being undemocratic in trying to expedite the will of the people. At the same time, the pro-EU lobby supports the egregiously undemocratic shenanigans of the political establishments of both London and Brussels to thwart the people’s will. This is made manifest in the Machiavellian meddling of British politicians and the refusal of the draconian EU to accept any “deal,” however conciliatory. And then, when all deals are stonewalled by the Brussels monolith, Boris Johnson is condemned as an extremist for pursuing a “no deal” Brexit.

In similar Orwellian fashion, the popular will of the people is treated with contempt and condemned for being “populist.” Take, for instance, the contempt expressed by spokesmen for the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-EU of the UK’s mainstream parties, who argue that it was a mistake to have offered the British people a vote on whether they wished to remain in the European Union (clearly, according to the Liberal Democrats, the people should be made to stay in the EU whether they like it or not); or take the lament of David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, confessing that he had agonized about his role in allowing the referendum, regretting his decision and feeling that it was a mistake. What Mr. Cameron seems to have forgotten is that he and his party only offered a referendum because it was the only way that the Conservatives could steal back the necessary votes from those who had voted for UKIP, without which he and his party could not have won the election. It was, therefore, a cynical move on his part, made necessary by the realpolitik which is the only ethical principle that career politicians follow. It was presumed by Cameron and the Conservatives that the overwhelming one-sided pro-EU propaganda during the referendum campaign, peddled by the unholy alliance of mainstream media and mainstream politicians, would ensure that the British people would vote “politically correctly,” i.e. that they could be frightened and bullied into accepting the chains of their slavery in fear of something worse.

About That Mann Suit

For the legally curious, here is a timeline and list of SCOTUS filings, mainly amicus curiae briefs on behalf of NR’s petition asking the Court to take up the case. Have at it!

July 19, 2019: Petitioners Reply in Support of Certiorari

July 5, 2019: Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and the Individual Rights Foundation as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 5, 2019: Brief of Amici Curiae former United States Attorneys General Supporting Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 5, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Stephen McIntyre in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 3, 2019: Amicus Brief of the American Center for Law and Justice in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 3, 2019: Brief of 21 U.S. Senators as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 2, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Dr. Judith A. Curry in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June 20, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Judicial Watch in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June 20, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Mark Steyn in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June, 2019: Motion for Leave to File Brief of Amicus Curiae Southeastern Legal Foundation in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

May 21, 2019: National Review Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to rule on Mann v. National Review.

Baseballery

As the National Pastime’s 2019 playoffs progress, we’ll drop a timely name here: Ralph Branca. What an awfully nice man. Best known for giving up that famous home run to the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson in the 1951 National League playoffs, he also found himself the unlikely starting pitcher in baseball’s first-ever playoff game. That took place in 1946, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals ended the regular season tied for first place — the NL settled matters by extending the season to a best-of three additional games (so, technically, they are considered regular season games).

On October 1st at Sportsman Park, Branca — who had a mere 3–0 record coming into the game, with two of those wins September shut outs — faced off against Cardinals ace Howie Pollet, who that season led the NL in wins (21) and ERA (2.10). It wasn’t a good outing for the Dodgers’ righthander — he lasted 2 2/3 innings and took the loss. Two days later, the Dodgers, back in Brooklyn, lost 8–4 as the Cardinals took the pennant (the Birds would eventually win the World Series against the Red Sox).

No, the playoffs were not made for Ralph Branca. Back to that 1951 series against the Giants: Branca also started and lost the playoff’s first game, 3–1, with Thomson also tagging him for a two-run home run.

Ah well, Ralph Branca — Mr. Branca, as he was known — was a great guy. He worked with the Old Man selling insurance, and every once in a while would come over to the house and toss the baseball around with the kids on East 235th Street. What a thrill that was.

A Dios

Do check out Kevin Williamson lauding a governor’s call for a day of prayer and fasting.

ISI Fellow Wonder William Nardi hails from Central Massachusetts, in the neighborhood where Thomas Aquinas College — the doctrine-loyal institution that has been a happy enclave for over four decades in California — has now established an East Coast campus in nearby Northfield. He tells a great story about this expansion, occurring in the face of New England’s rising secularism. Read his account here.

Then pray for the success of our webathon. And after you pray, donate!

God Bless You and Yours, and Tiny Tim,

Jack Fowler, who wrote this article in the new issue of the magazine, will read your criticisms, which can be directed to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Vote for Lowry, Early and Often

Dear Weekend Joltarians,

Nearly three years back, Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru co-authored an NR essay, “For Love of Country: A Defense of Nationalism.” Did you read it? If not, you should — you’ll find it here. Consider it an appetizer to the very big main course coming out on November 5 — the official publication date of Rich’s forthcoming The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. It’s going to spark a huge round of debates within the conservative movement — debates that will engross and engage you — so be prepared.

You can do that by voting early and often for Rich’s book (after all, November 5 is Election Day!): Order The Case for Nationalism right now at Amazon, or, if you prefer, Barnes & Noble, or even that Books-a-Million joint. Of course you can wait until November 5 and drive to the local bookstore — but why not have it shipped to your home to start reading that day?

Speaking of “start reading,” Your Humble Correspondent is probably defying the publishers, but . . . a swiped passage from Rich’s introduction is included below for your enjoyment, and for you to get a small-but-excellent sample as to this book’s clarity and strength.

All that said, let us get on with the Weekend Jolt!

A Dozen and Then Some Marvels of Conservative Wisdom, with Attending Links Deserving of Your Clickage

1. Andy McCarthy asks the Mother of All Questions (this week, anyway): Do Republicans see the strategy to discredit the Barr Investigation? From the analysis:

Of course, the media-Democrat complex became apoplectic at any suggestion of impropriety in Mueller’s appointment. On pain of ostracism, its legitimacy was never to be questioned. Case closed.

Naturally, Trump’s opponents did not want to articulate the actual, nakedly political reason for their defense of Mueller — namely, that he was the best hope for bringing down Trump’s presidency. They thus couched their defense in legal terms. The special-counsel regs make clear that the Justice Department’s failure to adhere to them is not actionable. Consequently, as long as DOJ had a plausible basis to investigate some of their subjects — such as Paul Manafort, who had committed crimes unrelated to Russian “collusion,” and George Papadopoulos, who hadn’t “colluded” but had allegedly lied to investigators — the then–acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, undeniably had the power to bring a special counsel in from outside the Justice Department to conduct the investigation.

Regardless of how blatantly politicized the Mueller probe appeared to be, then, it was an official, legitimate federal investigation — one that was commissioned by the Justice Department, which lawfully resorted to the powers of the grand jury, and the obstruction of which (or lying to which) was actionable.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.

2. Well, if there was ever anyone whose employment history would prove especially entertaining and eye-opening, it would be Hunter Biden, and mamma mia does Jim Geraghty lay out the comprehensive details. From the beginning of the report:

Late Summer 2006: Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, purchase the hedge fund Paradigm Global Advisors. According to an unnamed executive quoted in Politico in August, James Biden declared to employees on his first day, “Don’t worry about investors. We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden.” At this time, Joe Biden is months away from becoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and launching his second bid for president.

The unnamed executive who spoke to Politico charged that the purchase of the fund was designed to work around campaign-finance laws:

According to the executive, James Biden made it clear that he viewed the fund as a way to take money from rich foreigners who could not legally give money to his older brother or his campaign account. “We’ve got investors lined up in a line of 747s filled with cash ready to invest in this company,” the executive remembers James Biden saying.

Both James and Hunter Biden have denied to Politico that James had ever made these comments.

Related: And then Big Jim had a follow-up.

3. Ramesh Ponnuru takes on the conservative critics of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. From the beginning of the commentary:

During the debate over Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a 1998 law-review article she co-authored came under scrutiny. The Alliance for Justice, a left-wing group, used the article to suggest Barrett’s religious views made her a threat to the rule of law. Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously encapsulated the point by saying, “Dogma lives loudly within you.” Barrett was nevertheless confirmed in 2017. Ever since then, she has been discussed as a potential Supreme Court nominee.

And so the criticism has been revived — but this time it is taking a more extreme form, and is coming from the right. John Zmirak is, like Barrett, a Catholic. But he believes the law-review article demonstrates an understanding of church and state both false and dangerous. He argues that Barrett cannot be trusted to rule in line with the Constitution, might make decisions that instead follow the faddish dictates of a pope, and would render any ruling overturning Roe v. Wade illegitimate. He concludes that unless she renounces her “weirdly theocratic” views, she should not be nominated and senators should vote against her if she is nominated.

Zmirak has drawn several responses (here and here for example). As the respondents note, he ignores comments by her, including comments at her confirmation hearing, that contradict his argument. He ignores her record as an appeals-court judge, which includes none of the lawless imposition of papal views that he warns against. And the article is more than two decades old; she wrote it with a professor while she was a law student.

4. How the hell can we be congratulating these Commies for seven decades of massacre and depravities? John McCormack recounts who high-fived the ChiComs (Trump!) and who didn’t. From his report:

President Donald Trump marked the 70th anniversary of the “People’s Republic” with the following congratulatory tweet: “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!”

But Senate Republicans have marked the anniversary with condemnation of the regime.

Missouri senator Josh Hawley: “Seventy years ago, the Chinese Community Party seized power from the Chinese people. Since then, its ruthless rule has resulted in the deaths of millions of its own citizens.”

Arkansas senator Tom Cotton: “To see the price of the PRC’s anniversary celebration, look no further than what’s happening in Hong Kong: a ceaseless war against those who wish to live in freedom. From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”

Nebraska senator Ben Sasse: “Today Chinese tyrants celebrated 70 years of communist oppression with their typically brutal symbolism: by sending a police officer to shoot a pro-democracy protester at point-blank range. The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”

5. Rich Lowry sees that Russia has immersed itself into America’s political brain. This Ukraine thing . . . it’s really a Russia thing. From the new column:

There will be lots of comparisons to the 1990s as the House moves toward impeachment. Yet the vitriolic politics of the 1790s might be the more apt predicate. Back then, at the outset of the republic, each nascent political party was consumed with the idea that the other was a tool of a foreign power (either France or Britain), and believed that the other was a fundamental threat to American democracy.

Today, the Democrats still haven’t gotten beyond the idea that Trump is somehow a tool of Russia, while Republicans point to Democratic coordination with shadowy foreign forces to get the Russia investigation rolling. Books fly off the shelves about Trump being an alleged fascist, and Republicans are gripped by a Flight 93 mentality that fears if they lose a presidential election, they will never win another one again.

The Russia story contributed to and fed off this feverish atmosphere. For the longest time, it offered Democrats the hope of deliverance from a president whose election they never truly accepted. When Mueller didn’t have the goods, House Democrats were briefly at sea, until Trump’s call and the whistleblower complaint brought impeachment deliciously back into play.

Ukraine is more an epilogue of the Russian investigation than the beginning of a new book.

6. Brexit One: John O’Sullivan gives a brilliant report, woven with exceptional analysis, on the ongoing theatrics in Parliament and Boris’s infuriating the stilton-cheese-eating surrender monkeys. From his piece:

Not that everyone was restrained — or intended to be restrained. Former Tory prime minister John Major, an old Europhile, denounced Boris’s robust rhetoric in, er, extremely robust terms: “Words such as ‘saboteur,’ ‘traitor,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘surrender,’ ‘betrayal’ have no place in our party, our politics, nor in our society.” He also thought they were un-Conservative.

Of course, as now often happens in the age of the Internet and Google, anyone who strikes a noble pose of opposition to lies and obscenity is almost immediately presented with evidence of his own wicked words or bad behavior on tape or film. Major was soon reminded that he had described his former cabinet colleagues who defied him over the Maastricht treaty in the 1990s as “bastards.” Nor did it help that the Sunday Telegraph serialization of the final volume of Charles Moore’s Margaret Thatcher biography, just out, depicts him as scheming to replace her while affecting to support her. A particularly nice touch was that he signed Mrs. Thatcher’s nomination papers for the second leadership ballot on condition that they be given to her campaign team only if she decided not to run. They would then be useless except as evidence of his loyalty.

I would call that low cunning of a high order, but perhaps such words have no place in our elevated and sanitized political life.

The attacks on Boris Johnson’s rhetoric — in particular those that traced the murder of Jo Cox forward to his use of “surrender” and “sabotage” — were meant to make it impossible for the Tories to wage a vigorous and effective campaign against MPs who had promised to support Brexit but had since done all they could to obstruct and prevent it. (A secondary bonus is that Labour MPs will be positioned to blame the Tories if any physical attacks do occur.) Naturally, if you’re secretly aiming to obstruct something, you will loudly condemn the pejorative use of the word “obstruction” as offensive, dangerous, or inflammatory. The solution is to back off from deceptive obstruction, however, rather than to police language

7. Brexit Two: More from Johnny O and his ongoing analysis of the scene Over There, where Boris’s enemies may be just as stymied as he is. From the beginning of the piece:

After delivering a Tory conference speech that knocked off the nation’s socks yesterday and presenting a new U.K.–EU Brexit deal today that might conceivably be endorsed by Parliament, Boris Johnson should perhaps be enjoying a good press. But the message of most media commentary is that Boris is stymied yet again, or still, or maybe forever — the Prisoner of Downing Street kept confined by a slim majority of MPs united on nothing except their opposition to him, to Brexit, and to holding a new election.

So Paul Goodman’s epigram that Boris and the Tories can’t win an election without getting Brexit and they can’t get Brexit without winning an election remains the only significant truth as other events related to Brexit come and go. What is less noticed, however, is that Boris’s enemies in the anti-Brexit coalition (henceforth the ABC coalition) are equally stymied. They can’t win an election if they vote Brexit down and they can’t vote Brexit down without winning an election. That’s because most of the signs are that Boris would win an election in which Brexit was at issue.

Indeed, the longer-term prospects for the ABC coalition are even more discouraging. Even if they manage to halt or reverse Brexit, they would have to hold an election not long afterward, which Boris would be heavily favored to win. If elected, he could then simply cancel their cancellation and bring in whatever kind of Brexit he wanted. He would then have five years in power to make Brexit work.

In these circumstances, the interests of the ABC parties favor keeping Boris in power (i.e., by not passing a vote of no confidence in him) but tying his hands ever more securely so that he can do little or nothing to obtain either Brexit or the election he craves. Their device for doing so is the so-called Benn bill, which instructs the prime minister to request an extension of U.K. membership in the EU to next year, to avert the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

At least their interests did favor that. But in the past few weeks the ABC parties have thoroughly frightened themselves with a new Project Fear: They have convinced themselves that Boris might produce a rabbit from a hat that would finally get Brexit done — or, rather, two rabbits from a hat.

8. At her alma mater, Alexandra DeSanctis finds Notre Dame’s progressive ungrads intimidating fellow students because . . . they believe in their faith. Meanwhile, school administrators clam up. From the Corner post:

All is not well at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. A couple of weeks ago, anonymous students put up unauthorized posters on campus that read “There’s queer blood on homophobic hands,” suggesting that Notre Dame students, faculty, and alumni were responsible for violence. Here’s more on the signs from Notre Dame’s independent student newspaper the Irish Rover (for which I was once executive editor):

The sign contained many articles from the Irish Rover and the Observer which reflect Catholic doctrine regarding human sexuality, implying that the authors of these were responsible for the deaths of “queer” people nationwide.

Most shockingly, the sign’s message was painted in blood red, and the names of the articles’ writers were all circled in blood-red paint, drawing hostile attention to individual members of the Notre Dame community. Among the names circled in red paint were those of current students, faculty, and alumni of the University.

The signs were taken down by campus police, but that wasn’t the end of it. Next, a student letter to the editor appeared in The Observer student newspaper, bearing the same title as the sign. The poem listed student groups Young Americans for Freedom, [Students for] Child Oriented Policy, and the Irish Rover, along with Catholic alumni group the Sycamore Trust, as being responsible for “homophobic discourse.” Among several violent images, it included suggestions that those groups had “slit my loved ones’ throats” and “lobotomize[d] me with a crowbar.”

9. Daniel Lee considers the propaganda poster girls who over the decades have played the useful idiot for the Left. From the beginning of the piece:

As the world follows the activities of young environmentalist Greta Thunberg, it’s a good time to recall another young activist who was once at the center of the world’s attention — and to give a thought to the role of young people in matters of international concern.

Samantha Smith was a ten-year-old American who in 1982, at her mother’s suggestion, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov — a former KGB chief and agent who took part in the brutal takedown of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and, later, suppression of dissent in Russia — about her fear of nuclear war between the USSR and the U.S. “I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country,” she wrote.

Of course, Andropov wrote back quickly — and publicly — to let her know that the peace-loving people of the Soviet Union had no such intention. He invited her on a “fact-finding” mission to his country to prove it.

Smith’s trip fit neatly with the Nuclear Freeze and No First Use movements of the time — Andropov explicitly endorsed the latter in his response — and was covered exhaustively by an international press eager to make her the spokeschild of youth desperate to stop adults from destroying the world with nuclear weapons. Today, Greta Thunberg plays that role. She is the new spokeschild for young people who believe that they’re battling to save the earth from the cupidity of grownups.

Samantha was photographed everywhere in Russia: a sweet-faced girl in the regalia of the Soviet Young Pioneer. She smiled out at perhaps puzzled Russians from Soviet TV shows and posed in traditional Russian garb for the cover of the English-language publication Soviet Life.

10. Kevin Williamson reflects on gatekeepers, tribes, majorities, and minorities. From the essay:

Because of the increasingly sacramental character of the American presidency, it is not only American politicians who must endure the ordeal of the quadrennial cycle and the anguish of periodic sojourns in the wilderness. The United States has split into two tribes, and one of them must always feel itself to be subjugated and humiliated while the other’s chief occupies the highest office in the land. The American people are, in this age of politics as personal identity, always running for election, too. And it is not enough for them to win — they want to be popular, too, and to have their positions be popular. Hence the twin fictions on either side of the aisle that the other side really represents only a tiny minority whose voice and power is amplified through illegitimate means.

This is caught up in complicated ways with our national political superstitions. One of the deficiencies of American political culture is our national tendency to decoct moral absolutes out of what are really something closer to “best practices” for self-governing republics. “One man, one vote” is a practical measure, not a guarantee of decent or prudent decision-making, which is why so many important concerns (such as freedom of speech, the right to due process, the prohibition of slavery) have been put beyond the reach of mere plebiscite and the whimsies of transitory majorities. That situation is at the heart of the basic contradiction of American progressivism, which in practice consists of various political, business, and academic elites deputizing themselves to speak on behalf of the masses whose constituents generally do not exhibit especially progressive views on most things. For example, neither the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas (overturning sodomy laws) nor that in Engle v. Vitale (prohibiting mandatory school prayer) enjoyed the support of a majority of Americans at the time of those decisions. (Surprisingly, Brown did.) Progressives put a great deal of stock in Boumediene v. Bush, but two-thirds of the people were against them. Conservative populists are hobbled by a similar situation: They exhibit a shocking degree of arrogance in purporting to speak on behalf of “We the People,” as they like to put it, but only occasionally consult the people about what they actually believe. For example, right-wing populists are very fond of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United — and they are right to be; if the First Amendment means anything at all, it was the right decision — but We the People don’t think much of it. Only 17 percent of the public supported the decision at the time. A majority still opposes it.

11. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., released its report on the clerical sex-abuse scandal. Michael Brendan Dougherty has a thing or two to say about the report, and about the diocese’s late and former leader, Cardinal Edward Egan. From the conclusion:

Still, the rationale is odd. Egan’s own brother cardinals may care about the bottom line when considering appointments to the curia in Rome or to the real big chair in Rome. But Egan was never very well liked. And no American during his career could possibly expect to become pope. Ultimately, the property never belonged to Egan personally. If the number of offending priests was less than 1 in 20, if the worst of the worst were just ten in all, why tolerate them?

I can only speculate that Egan and his predecessors wanted to protect something even more dear to them than property. Perhaps their own secrets were embedded into a network of moral blackmail. The report is unsatisfying because the phenomenon of clergy sexual abuse and its tolerance by bishops can’t be treated separately from the larger moral culture of the clergy. It can’t be separated from other tolerated phenomena: alcoholism, sexual impropriety with parishioners and other priests, financial wrongdoing, a general “bachelor” culture of laxity and indulgence. It can’t be separated from pride, gossip, wrath, and envy. It can’t be separated from loneliness, boredom, and spiritual aridity. In the case of priests it can’t be separated from right belief and worship, either. The report says that Egan feared scandal and financial setbacks for the corporate body of which he was merely a manager. The report cannot say the other truth, that he plainly did not fear the judgment and wrath of God.

12. Kyle Smith finds Joker to be one of filmdom’s creepiest-ever stomach-turning performances. From the review:

More than any comic-book movie to date, Joker, directed with a fierce commitment by Todd Phillips, eschews entertainment and dares to repel a sizable proportion of the potential audience. With an awful foreboding, it drills into the psychic pain of Arthur Fleck — failed clown, failed standup comic, failed human. Joaquin Phoenix gives one of the creepiest performances ever put on film as Arthur, a product of the manifold breakdowns of 1970s New York City, here barely disguised as Gotham City. Phoenix’s rancid torment jangles the nerves and turns the stomach.

Set in a 1981 urban hell piled with garbage and overrun by rats, Joker channels the notorious misfits of the era, including fictional ones: Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley, Bernhard Goetz, Travis Bickle (whose actions inspired Hinckley, the failed assassin of President Reagan), and Rupert Pupkin (an entertainment-industry isotope of Bickle). The presence in Joker of Robert De Niro, as a talk-show host much like the one who obsessed Pupkin in The King of Comedy, signals that Phillips wishes to re-create a bleary vision of urban squalor that inspired a singular period of cinema, perhaps the bleakest and most potent one ever.

Though Phillips has previously specialized in comedies such as The Hangover, he has made the least funny of the DC or Marvel movies. Joker is brilliantly done, searingly filmed, and so drenched in its seamy milieu that you can practically feel the roaches skittering under your feet. The score by Iceland’s Hildur Guonadottir and production design by Mark Friedberg are spectacular. But a word of caution: Many viewers will find it more nauseating than enthralling. Women in particular are likely to find Phoenix and Phillips’s relentless nastiness too much to take. Although the Bruce Wayne family makes several appearances, there is none of the usual comic-book movie catharsis, none of the leavening jokiness of a Marvel movie, no roguish charm, no Joker delightedly sticking his head out the window of a truck like a golden retriever. Phoenix’s Joker is merely a greasy, mentally unbalanced loser of the kind best avoided on trains or a dark urban block, the kind that women in particular want nothing to do with, maybe not even in a movie.

RELATED: Armond White finds Joker to be “a sociopolitical mishmash.” Read the review here.

13. Armond is liking Pedro Almodoar’s Pain and Glory. A lot. From the review:

Salvador Mallo, a middle-aged Spanish filmmaker played by a sensitive, charmingly grizzled and gray-haired Antonio Banderas, is celebrated for his folk-punk audacity. The poster for Mallo’s best-known film, Sabor (Taste), boasts a strawberried tongue sticking out of lubricious lips like the Rolling Stones logo. Mallo is from the counterculture generation, yet he has risen to respectability. Note that in Chinatown, John Huston averred, “I’m old. Politicians, public buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.” Almodóvar taunts that truism with Mallo’s rebel tendency toward recreational drugs and lassitude whenever possible.

Not simply autobiographical, this portrait of personal indulgence points toward honesty, benevolence, and forgiveness — virtues missing in most counterculture egoists who look back on the indiscretions of their halcyon past as merit badges. Mallo remembers the people who graced his life and agitated it: old lovers, first desires, a sacrificial mother who becomes judgmental. He also confronts his own vain egotism. (The title must nod to John Boorman’s Hope and Glory. If so, then an Almodóvar version of Boorman’s follow-up, Queen and Country, will be exquisite.)

With Pain and Glory, Almodóvar has made a self-critical film in an era lacking self-awareness. No wonder some critics dismiss it as “soft.” They never understood Almodóvar’s bemused permissiveness. In 1987’s Law of Desire, it was buoyantly humane. In that film, Almodóvar’s perspective on a promiscuous gay filmmaker, his transsexual sibling, and a psychopathic lover made the ingenious mix of sex farce and thriller joyful, not merely shocking. In the era of “soft power,” Almodóvar’s humanity avoids pushing a political agenda. In Pain and Glory, compassion and forgiveness are more important than any radical progressivism for understanding Mallo.

14. David French finds Joe Biden’s gun-control plan to be a Constitutional disaster. From the piece:

Taken together, Biden’s bans on the sales of assault weapons and the magazines that come standard with millions of popular rifles and handguns would create the perverse result of placing law-abiding Americans at a distinct disadvantage in defending themselves from criminals. With hundreds of millions of magazines already in circulation, the foreseeable threat comes from a criminal armed with just such a magazine. That’s one reason why police officers carry equivalent weapons. It’s one reason why bans on standard-capacity magazines tend to contain exceptions for law-enforcement officers. But if police can protect themselves from common domestic threats, why can’t my family?

Biden wants to give existing assault-weapon owners a choice: Sell your weapon to the government or register it with the government. But we know registration is a failed policy, one that’s routinely met with massive public indifference. It’s estimated that as many as 1 million New Yorkers have defied the Empire State’s assault-weapon-registration law, and as many as 85 percent of Connecticut assault-weapon owners have flouted the Nutmeg State’s registration requirement. A California registration requirement has had compliance rates as low as 3.6 percent. If states are the laboratories of democracy, then registration is a lab experiment that’s failed.

Biden’s proposal also contains now-standard calls for universal background checks and his own hobby-horse, so-called smart guns that present enormous technological and practical challenges, including challenges that could hamper their use in self-defense, when innocent lives are on the line. And while I support properly drafted “red flag” laws, I have little confidence in the due-process protections that a Biden administration would endorse.

15. Victor Davis Hanson lays out five principles President Trump should follow in dealing with Iran. Here’s one from the piece:

Fourth, we should remember the fate of the last major U.S. intervention into the Middle East. When Saddam Hussein’s statue fell, 70 percent of America deified George W. Bush for apparently doing to the hated genocidal Baathists what he had just done to the murderous Taliban — destroying such monsters in a matter of weeks.

What followed, however, was not just years of unrest and spiraling costs in blood and treasure, but a strange attitude from many of those who had been the most pro-war, some dating back to the 1990s and the founding of the Project for the New American Century, which had called for a preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein during the Clinton administration.

Summed up best, the Iraq 2.0 take was “my brilliant victory, your screwed-up occupation” — best seen in the 2006 Vanity Fair article “Neo Culpa,” in which many of the architects of the preemptive war blamed the very administration they had once lobbied to go to war.

Critics of the “occupation” forgot that the U.S. Congress, in bipartisan fashion, had voted to authorize the war on 23 writs, few of them having anything to do with WMD, and that thousands of American soldiers were abroad at war while its promoters were blame-gaming one another at home. Nor did the critics see that an impending surge, undertaken against much of their advice, would eventually restore stability to Iraq.

I supported the war to remove Saddam Hussein and went to Iraq twice in 2006 and 2007 to write about U.S. deployments. And what was apparent was that those in the thick of it wanted support back home, not pronouncements from its promoters that all was lost and futile. Apparently, most of those who were fighting thought that the only thing worse than a bad war was losing it.

The idea that Trump is weak and blustering for not bombing Iran is nuts. He took a courageous step in canceling an asymmetrical Iran deal that guaranteed a bellicose enemy would receive billions in cash now and, later, a nuclear weapon. That he does not wish to abort such progress is a sign of strength, not timidity. A strapped Iran hates the sanctions far more than it would hate losing an air base or a refinery as the price of destroying the Trump presidency.

The Right That Dare Not Speak Its Name

This coming week, the Human Life Review bestows its Great Defender of Life award on Rich Lowry, who pens an excellent essay in the new issue of HLR on how critical lying is to the Roe-concocted right. From the piece:

The opposition lacks this clarity, even though abortion is at the heart of contemporary progressivism. Roe v. Wade is liberalism’s Great Writ. Nancy Pelosi considers the supposed right to abortion more sacrosanct than the First Amendment. She would never tamper with or restrict the former, whereas she has sought to amend the latter to permit more campaign-finance regulations.

The evasion of the pro-abortion advocates speaks to a fundamental weakness. The other side knows how difficult it is to say out loud that it considers abortion a positive good that should never be restricted in any circumstance, and that health or any other considerations have nothing to do with it. Consider the “historic” pro-abortion statement signed by nearly 200 CEOs that ran in a full-page ad in the New York Times in June. The CEOs defined abortion as “equality” (“Don’t Ban Equality,” declared the headline) and referred to it as “comprehensive reproductive care,” a term that has the advantage of sounding nothing like what it is describing.

The pro-abortion stylebook demands that abortion be called “health” or, more specifically, “reproductive health,” even though it is the opposite of reproduction and (for one party involved) the opposite of health.

The idea that abortion is necessary for the health of women is one of the most misleading pro-abortion clichés. Comprehensive data from Florida last year shows that three-quarters of abortions were elective, and another one-fifth were for social and economic reasons. A small percentage involve a threat to the mother’s life or health, and pro-life laws account for such cases—even the sweeping Alabama law has a health exception.

Hey New Yorkers!

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks that WJ spread some news — we are happy to do such. National Review Institute has some upcoming events at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in New York City, and the premier coming on Monday night (October 7), the first in a series on Virtue in America, and specifically, the virtue of hope. A bipartisan panel will consider the problem of looking to politics for things politics can’t give us. A great event is in store — come!

More information on all of NRI’s fall collaborations can be found here.

The Six

1. Gordon Chang takes to Gatestone Institute to discuss why telecom giant Huawei hopes to be a trojan horse that benefits the ChiComs. From the analysis:

A refusal to grant a third waiver to the Chinese company, the world’s largest telecom networking equipment manufacturer and second-largest smartphone maker, would be the right move for the United States. After all, why should President Trump allow our companies to help Beijing steal the world’s data and remotely control devices connected to the internet?

In May, the Commerce Department, effective the 16th of that month, added Huawei to its “Entity List.” The designation meant no American company, without prior approval from Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, could sell or license to Huawei products and technology covered by the U.S. Export Administration Regulations.

Beijing has continually demanded the withdrawal of the designation and has made such a climbdown one of its preconditions to a comprehensive trade deal with the U.S.

Since then, the Chinese have, in addition to threats, also tried to get off the Entity List with sugar. This month, in a conversation with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said he was “open to sharing our 5G technologies and techniques with U.S. companies, so that they can build up their own 5G industry.”

2. More Gatestone: Con Coughlin says Iranian bossman Hassan Rouhani’s antics at the UN General Assembly confab has exposed the futility of European diplomacy. From the piece:

The reality of the delusional approach adopted by Mr Macron and other European leaders was, though, brutally exposed the moment Mr Rouhani arrived in New York. Instead of showing any sign of seeking to repair Tehran’s strained relationship with the West and its allies, he instead indulged in an orgy of self-justification in which he sought to portray his country as an innocent victim of Western aggression rather than accepting, as is really the case, that Iran was the primary instigator of the latest escalation in tensions.

Not even the charm offensive applied by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose presence in New York was no doubt a welcome distraction from his domestic political woes, was able to make much impression on Mr Rouhani’s demeanour. Mr Johnson briefly raised a laugh from the Iranian leader when he suggested he make a return visit to Glasgow — a city Mr Rouhani knows well from the time he studied there in the 1990s — while remarking, “As you know, Glasgow is lovely in November” — a reference to the city’s notoriously cold and wet climate at that time of year.

The atmospherics — to use the diplomatic jargon — might have appeared promising during Mr Johnson’s one-to-one with the Iranian leader, but reality soon set in the moment Mr Rouhani took to the UN podium and embarked upon an extraordinary exercise in self-justification, one in which the US and its allies were the villains and Iran was portrayed as a nation wronged.

The prime target of his attack was, unsurprisingly, the US, which he accused of engaging in “merciless economic terrorism” following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and impose a new round of economic sanctions against Tehran.

3. At Issues & Insights, Tom McArdle argues that the push to release transcripts of presidential communications will cripple every future POTUS. From the piece:

So as Schiff and House Democrats push hard to discover and disclose something more convincing than the Zelensky nothingburger, Trump has the defense of executive privilege within a landmark, unanimous Supreme Court ruling on his side.

And he has something more: a solemn responsibility to preserve for future presidents the ability to conduct candid discussions with foreign allies, friends — even enemies. A president must be able to engage in “persuasion, badgering, flattery, threats, reminders of past favors and future advantages,” as the Washington Post’s Mary McGrory described Lyndon Johnson’s no-holds-barred style of leadership even before becoming president. And it can’t work when it’s in the public eye.

Imagine not being free to discuss coordinating the fight against terrorism, or the details of classified intelligence, with other free countries. Or a president being unable to pick up the phone and personally warn a hostile power of the consequences of its actions against the U.S. or our allies. Trump or any other president allowing Congress to fish around in classified White House computer systems would be a direct threat to future presidents’ ability to use the office to protect the country.

4. At City Journal, Robert Henderson warns about the backlash of “Cancel Culture.” From the piece:

Cancel culture allows people to identify who is loyal to their movement. Highlighting the supposed wrongdoings of others forces people to respond. Targets of cancel culture usually commit acts suddenly deemed out of fashion. This is perfect for social coordination because it creates disagreement about whether the person should be exiled. If everyone agreed that the target should be denigrated, then there’s no way to identify friend from foe. But if some agree while others disagree, committed group members can be distinguished from adversaries. Those who ask for evidence of the alleged wrongdoing, question the severity of the transgression, or debate the propriety of cancel culture risk revealing themselves as unfaithful to the cause. Rallying around a morally ambiguous transgression and seeing how people react permits recruitment of assenters and targeting of dissenters.

Cancel culture is thus likely here to stay. The social rewards are immediate and gratifying and the dangers too distant and abstract. “You could be next” does not register for most people because it’s just a set of words. But the social rewards of status and in-group camaraderie instantly resonate. The desire for instant social rewards over distant and uncertain disaster is not a quirk of any particular group—it’s common to all of us.

The term “cancel culture” may be new, then, but the human impulses propelling it are old. When you see groups target an individual for exile, you’re witnessing a foundational ritual. Without understanding such atavistic impulses, we are more, not less, likely to enact them without consideration.

5. At First Things, Thomas Guarino looks at the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2002 “Dallas Charter” plan to address sexual abuse by clergy et al. He sees a dark side. From the essay:

A significant problem attending the zero-tolerance policy is that most accused priests have not actually been found “guilty” of abuse—even though that is the word usually invoked. Most often, a priest is found only to have had a “credible accusation” lodged against him. But “credibility” has no clear and distinct definition. It has come to mean “not impossible” or “could have conceivably occurred.” A “credible accusation” offers nothing like the firm standard of clear and convincing evidence, or even preponderance of evidence, which is expected for a guilty verdict in civil society. Priests are declared unfit for ministry on the basis of standards that trade in dangerous generalities.

Under the Dallas Charter, a credible accusation must also be “substantiated.” But by whom? Not by a court, but by a committee, whose members’ identities and professional credentials are often unknown to the priests who are being surreptitiously judged. Who are these faceless judges? Are they, like diocesan lawyers and PR flacks, simply concerned with protecting the reputation of the bishop as “tough on abuse”? And precisely what evidence “counts” in determining that an accusation has been “substantiated”? The vagueness and ambiguity surrounding the entire process ensures that priests do not enjoy justice. And all this occurs in a country that insists an accused person has the right to come face-to-face with both his accuser and his judges. And in a Church in which bishops trumpet their commitment to “transparency.”

Local prosecutors have declined most accusations against priests because they fall well outside the statute of limitations. Such statutes, of course, date back to the ancient world; they were instituted precisely because memories become clouded with time. But on the basis of a single accusation from thirty or forty years ago, priests are suspended from ministry with their reputations destroyed and their lives in tatters. They must forever wear the scarlet letter of abuse pinned to their garb. Do bishops realize that such actions veer closely toward rash judgment, calumny, and slander, all condemned by the eighth commandment? Is it any surprise that we are now treated to the spectacle of priests suing their own dioceses for libel in civil court?

6. At Quillette, Coleman Hughes makes the case for Black Optimism. From the analysis:

Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. From 2001 to 2017, the incarceration rate for black men declined by 34 percent. Even this statistic, however, understates progress by lumping black Americans of all ages together. When you look at age-specific incarceration outcomes, you find two opposing trends: Older black Americans are doing slightly worse than previous generations, but younger black Americans are doing better—so much better that they more than offset, in statistical terms, the backslide of their elders. To put the speed and size of the trend in perspective, between my first day of Kindergarten in 2001 and my first legal drink in 2017, the incarceration rate for black men aged 25–29, 20–24, and 18–19 declined, respectively, by 56 percent, 60 percent, and 72 percent. For young black women, the story is similar: a 59 percent drop for those aged 25–29, a 43 percent drop for those aged 20–24, and a 69 percent drop for those aged 18–19.

As a result of the divergent generational trendlines, the black prison population is not only shrinking; it’s aging too. In 2017, nearly three in ten black male prisoners were 45 years of age or older, up from one in ten in 2001. That may not seem like good news, but it is. The incarceration trendline for young blacks in the recent past predicts the trendline for all blacks in the near future. So the fact that the post-2001 incarceration decline for blacks in general was entirely caused by the plunging incarceration rate for young blacks in particular suggests that, as generational turnover occurs, the black prison population will not only continue to shrink, but will shrink at an accelerating rate. To paraphrase the economist Rick Nevin, our prison system may be overflowing today, but the “pipeline” to prison is already starting to run dry.

BONUS: At The College Fix, our old pal Jennifer Kabbany reveals the results of a new poll which shows a dearth of America Pride amongst Democratic college students. From the beginning of the analysis:

The vast majority of Republican college students compared to a small number of Democratic college students say they are very proud to be an American, according to the results of a new College Fix survey.

The poll asked 1,000 college students: How proud are you to be an American: very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud, or not at all proud?

The vast majority (74%) of Republican college students, compared to a small number of Democratic college students (8%), and less than one-third of independents (30%), said they are very proud to be an American.

On the flip side, 2 percent of Republican college students, compared to 22 percent of Democratic college students, and 11 percent of independents, say they are not at all proud to be an American.

The Swiped Lowry Passage, Titled “Civic Nationalism Is an Illusion”

Thus spakes our Esteemed Leader in The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free:

Another distinction that anti-nationalists sometimes make is between civic nationalism, which they consider roughly another term for patriotism, and ethnic nationalism. The liberal writer Michael Ignatieff calls the civic nation “a community of equal, rights-bearing citizens, united in patriotic attachment to a shared set of political practices and values.” Ethnic nationalism, in contrast, entails “that an individual’s deepest attachments are inherited, not chosen,” and “it is the national community that defines the individual, not the individuals who define the national community.”

It is certainly true that different forms of nationalism can be more or less inclusive and democratic. But no nation has ever been entirely civic in this sense.

Not France, which is often cited as a leading example of civic nationalism. It undertook an intensive, far-reaching campaign to wipe out distinctive regional cultures and dialects to forge the common national culture that is the basis of its civic nationalism. In 1863, about a quarter of the population spoke no French. As one French observer put it, “France is a deliberate political construction for whose creation the central power has never ceased to fight.”

And certainly not the United States. Our cultural nation was extremely important at the outset, and remains so today. At the time of the Revolution, the colonists were eighty percent British and almost entirely Protestant. As John Jay wrote in Federalist 2, “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.”

The fact is that culture is seeded with ideas. Would America be the same if it spoke Russian, the language of a country that has never effectively supported property rights, the rule of law, or limited government, rather than English? Would our political culture as we know it have emerged if practically every home in America a couple two hundred years ago had a Koran on the bedstand rather than a King James Bible? Of course, not.

At the beginning, this was a country not necessarily for Englishmen, but by Englishmen, including their notions of liberty that defined the American experience from the outset. Tocqueville famously wrote that America was the Englishman left alone. If the Eastern seaboard had been settled by Spaniards, you could have “left them alone” for a very long time and marinated them in all the Enlightenment philosophers, and they still never would have come up with the American Founding.

Even today, when America largely fulfills the standard of a civic nation, it still has a cultural basis. The English language remains a pillar of our national identity (language is often considered a foundation of exclusive ethnic nationalist states). Our rituals and holidays reflect the dominant culture. Christmas is a national holiday; Yom Kippur is not. And they reflect our national identity. Independence Day is a holiday; Cinco de Mayo is not.

Our national heroes, our ancestors, are afforded a prized place of honor in our collective life. The ascension of George Washington to a quasi-sacred status in our country began almost immediately. Today, he’s still visible in a fresco inside the U.S. Capitol dome, dressed in purple, and surrounded by the gods of mythology. (Upon the centennial of Washington’s birth in 1832, the statesman Edward Everett was part of a movement to disinter him from Mount Vernon and bury him at the center of the Capitol: “The sacred remains are…a treasure beyond all price, but it is a treasure of which every part of this blood-cemented Union has a right to claim its share.”)

We bear the stamp of our national character wherever we go. “The Americanism of American culture,” Azar Gat writes, “is deeply felt around the world, regarded either with approval or disapproval, and Americans become very conscious of it whenever they encounter the outside world. This common American culture far transcends the political-civic culture that many theorists have posited, naively, as the exclusive binding element of the American nation.”

The devotees of the idea of civic nationalism, at the extreme, make it sound as if a country is a voluntary association of individuals who have decided to live together under a certain set of political institutions and ideas. This is a fantasy. Nations are thicker than that. They are homelands that are felt as such by the people who live there and are connected by a web of associations and memories.

If political institutions were all that mattered, Americans would be just as comfortable living in any major English-speaking country. Canada or Australia don’t have our Constitution, but they are liberal societies with ample protections for the freedom of the individual. Yet, after every election, when famous people on both sides of the political divide threaten to move to Canada if the result goes the wrong way, no one actually moves.

The French intellectual Ernest Renan gave expression to the voluntarist idea of the nation in his oft-quoted 1882 lecture: “A nation’s existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual’s existence is a perpetual affirmation of life.” But Renan also cited the importance of “a rich legacy of memories,” and thought that “the nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion.” Just so.

Baseballery

Oddities enthrall us, such as — the 1936 All-Star Game, played at Braves Field in Boston. The National League won, 4–3. What amuses is that the starting third basemen for both squads were Philadelphia Pinkys (or is it Pinkies?). The Senior Circuit’s hot-corner man was Pinky Whitney, in what would be his sole All-Star appearance in a dozen years playing for the Phillies and the Braves (in six of those seasons, his team lost 100 or more games). He was one of the game’s great fielders, and pretty good with the bat: In four seasons he knocked in over 100 runs. For the Junior Circuit, the starting third baseman was the Athletics’ Pinky Higgins, who was playing in the second of his career’s three All-Star appearances. Higgins was best known for two feats: One was that he tied a record with twelve consecutive hits in 1938 (actually, 12 hits in 2 at bats — there were two walks in the mix), when he was then playing for the Red Sox. The other was a little more ignominious: The Red Sox, under his managerial leadership in the 1950s, were the last baseball team to have a black man on its roster — an outcome that seemed intentional and was covered with Higgins’ fingerprints.

In other Pinky news, Pinky Whitney found himself on the Boston Braves’ roster in 1933 playing with Pinky Hargrave. And back with the Phillies in 1939, Whitney’s teammate was fellow third baseman and future “Pepper Pot” all-star Pinky May.

Next week, we’ll talk about Rollie Fingers and Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown!

A Dios

Let us remember the scores of millions of Chinese who died — by starvation, deprivation, the bullet, the torture chamber, the abortionist’s scalpel — or were broken (or pilfered, their very organs cut out of them!) at the hands of Chairman Mao and his followers and their insane programs and plots — the Great Leaps Forward and Cultural Revolutions and A Hundred Flowers Blooming insanity — that are the curse of our times, and yet unremarked or even excused by so many who know so much better. Rest in Peace!

May God Have Mercy on Their Souls and on Ours,

Jack Fowler, who can be sent but-you-don’t-understand spins at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

I Wanna Easter Egg!

Dear Weekend Jolter,

From the deep recesses of the cartoon archives inside this fevered brain is located that famous Bugs Bunny story of the insufferable toddler who wanted an Easter egg. It’s recalled courtesy of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, a modern-day Stinky who — with the aid of family members and various human prop-makers — has emerged as the new prototype for a brat. Surely she’s the girl who, if they could get another chance at being 16, Hillary and Elizabeth and Alyssa Milano would emulate.

Our Fearless Leader, Mr. Lowry, urges readers to pay no heed to the bopper’s beratings. From his column:

Kids are powerful pawns. The catchphrase “for the children” has a seductive political appeal, while kids offer their adult supporters a handy two-step. The same people who say, “The world must heed this 16-year-old girl” will turn around and say to anyone who pushes back, “How dare you criticize a 16-year-old girl?” (I can feel the tweets filling up my mentions right now.)

There’s a reason that we don’t look to teenagers for guidance on fraught issues of public policy. With very rare exceptions — think, say, the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who was a child prodigy — kids have nothing interesting to say to us. They just repeat back what they’ve been told by adults, with less nuance and maturity.

Much of the climate advocacy of young people boils down to the plaint that all parents know well: “I want it, and I want it now.” As one headline on a National Geographic story put it, “Kids’ world climate strikes demand that warming stop, fast.”

Behind the foot-stomping is the idea that a long-running global phenomenon could be quickly stopped, if only adults cared as much as the kids did. This fails to account for such recalcitrant factors as costs and complexity, but when do children ever think of those? (And who can blame them? They’re children.)

Instead, the youthful climate activists claim they’ve been sold out by their elders. Greta Thunberg put it with her usual accusatory starkness at the U.N.: “You are failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”

And then Kyle Smith, who is awfully good at these things, finds the Swedish high-schooler to be a cross between Lisa Simpson and . . . Bane. Wow. From his piece:

At any given moment tens of millions of teens are throwing tens of millions of tantrums about tens of millions of things — I want the iPhone 11XC3PO! I want a hot-pink Mustang! — yet the one CNN deems worthy of being taken seriously is the one who says, “I want to restructure the world economy, and I want it done yesterday, you jerks!”

Thunberg — think Lisa Simpson crossed with Bane — told the United Nations, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Nah. On the contrary, Thunberg’s life has coincided with what are almost certainly the 16 best years in the entire history of humanity. If she wants to talk hard times, wait till she hears about my childhood, when grown-ups thought it was perfectly fine to move millions of machines around that spewed lead into their kids’ lungs. And mine of course, was the luckiest of all generations to that point.

Thunberg sailed to the U.S. on her famously eco-friendly yacht Publicity Stunt, which we later learned required two Europeans to fly over here to retrieve it. In the gonzo math of climate change, two flights plus a water crossing produce fewer moral emissions than one flight. The Thunbergians declared she would make up for this by buying climate credits, which is also what Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio say when they’re getting on a Gulfstream to fly to their next conference. If she just wanted to deliver a speech, though, why didn’t she spend the time it takes to cross the Atlantic planting trees instead and then speak unto us all from her bedroom? Maybe because “teen uploads YouTube video” is a stretch for even CNN to label BREAKING.

(Question never to ask: Hey Kyle, who am I a cross-between of?) Moving along, quickly now because we have so much awaiting, send the author of this missive your favorite nagging / scolding / haranguing scene from a movie and it will be featured in the next edition of WJ. Which this week just so happens to be brought to you by . . .

The National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise!

Cabins are going like hot cakes. As in best-selling hot cakes . . . sold at the Hot Cake Convention. You need to be there, so visit nrcruise.com for complete information.

Editorials

1. We argue that the president’s pressing of Ukrainian officials to investigate sweetheart deals by Hunter Biden is wrong. From the editorial:

Most Trump news cycles pass faster than a summer storm, but this one will last a while.

After initially denying it, the president has conceded that he encouraged Ukraine’s president to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate running against his reelection.

To have done so was wrong, plain and simple. American political campaigns should be American affairs. Yet a presidential act can be wrong, even blatantly wrong, without justifying impeachment. Democrats in the grip of an anti-Trump fever currently are ignoring that distinction.

Of course there ought to be scrutiny of Vice President Biden’s actions. On a level media playing field, that would long ago have been on the front burner. It is one thing for politicians to apply different standards to scandals depending on which party they affect. The supposedly neutral press should ask itself how it would be reacting if Trump had squeezed a foreign government by threatening to withhold public funds unless a prosecutor investigating a company tied to one of his sons were fired — regardless of the merits.

There Are a Mere 39 Days . . .

. . . until the formal publication of Rich Lowry’s new book, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. Why might you want to order a copy, pre-publication? Because it is a terrific work. Not interested in taking my word? How about the word of Tom Cotton? The Senator from Arkansas has this to say about the book:

America is an idea, but it’s not only an idea: America is also a nation with flesh-and-blood people, particular lands with real borders, and its own history and culture. Rich Lowry’s learned and brisk The Case for Nationalism defends these unfashionable truths against transnational assault from both the left and the right while reminding us that nationalist sentiments are essential to self-government.”

You can order the book from Amazon, right here, and expect its delivery on pub day (which will be November 5).

Ripe and Juicy, We’ve Plucked 14 Red Delicious Apples from the National Review Orchards. Enjoy!

1. Professor Victor Davis Hanson knows something about lectures, and he’s not a fan of privileged scolding coming from the likes of Warren, Beto, and their fellow Democratic presidential wannabes. From his essay:

Socialist Bernie Sanders is now a newly minted multimillionaire. He owns three homes. His wife, a former president of a small college left her campus in such financial shambles that the FBI was called in to investigate how it was that she had done so well while her college was forced to shut down owing to the insurmountable financial difficulties that had accumulated under Mrs. Sanders’s leadership. (The FBI declined to recommend charges.) Sanders flies in private jets around the country to campaign stops, preaching the virtues of socialism, the need to significantly raise taxes on both the income and the existing wealth of the affluent, and the sins of burning so much carbon. One wonders whether he stayed in a Crimean seaside dacha on his honeymoon to the Soviet Union.

Joe Biden has a long-checkered history of plagiarism, intellectual theft, allowing his offices to be leveraged by his family to profit, and occasional bizarre racialist outbursts, ranging from idiotic discourses on African-American dialects and hygiene to the ubiquitous and growing non-white customer base of Delaware doughnut shops. So naturally Biden now runs for president on the themes that we are a racist nation, that integrity such as his own is needed in the Oval Office, and that greedy wannabe-rich people like his brother or son need to be called to account. In between boasts that he’d beat Trump like a drum or that he’d like to take Trump behind the proverbial gym for a whipping, Joe lectures Americans on the loss of civility and bipartisan respect.

2. More VDH: He predicts the efforts to impeach the president will likely strengthen his political chances. From his Corner post:

The VP emeritus had the temerity, in Biden signature mock-heroic style, to boast of his intervention — he was impressing a foreign-policy symposium with his seasoned clout. “Well, son a b****, he got fired,” he bragged, prompting laughter from symposium attendees. Note that he was also emphasizing his own absolute exemption from any legal repercussions for such a blatant and explicit quid pro quo gambit.

Not just Trump supporters but the public is baffled by the apparent asymmetry in the application of the law, or at least the intention to apply the law. The Biden-Obama experience between 2009 and 2017 apparently had set a de facto precedent of what does and what does not constitute collusion.

It is apparently not improper for the president of the United States, caught in a hot-mic exchange with the Russian president, to offer a quid pro quo deal in which the United States suggests it will pull back from missile-defense agendas in exchange for good Russian behavior designed to help the president and hurt his opponent in the forthcoming reelection. And such a deal, from what we can tell, was then more or less carried out, as subsequent events suggest.

3. Andy McCarthy provides the knowledgeable guide to the Whistleblower Frenzy. From his analysis:

In conducting foreign affairs, the president may make commitments to other foreign leaders (subject to the Constitution’s treaty clause). The president, unlike his subordinates, also has the power to disclose any classified information he chooses to disclose. Like all presidential powers, these may be abused or exercised rashly. When there is a credible allegation that they have been, that should cause all of us urgent concern.

To take one example, President Obama misled Congress and the nation regarding the concessions he made to Iran in connection with the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The Obama administration, moreover, structured the arrangement so that commitments to Iran were withheld from Congress — as if what were at stake were understandings strictly between Tehran and the U.N.’s monitor (the International Atomic Energy Agency), somehow of no concern to the United States. Representative Schiff’s skepticism about Iran became muted when a Democratic president cut the deal. Yet these cloak-and-dagger arrangements with a jihadist regime that proclaims itself America’s mortal enemy, in which a U.S. president willfully end-ran the Constitution’s treaty provisions and congressional oversight, were and remain urgent concerns for millions of Americans and most members of Congress.

So how should we evaluate the current controversy?

4. Robert VerBruggen slams Harvard’s admissions program and its “legacy” preferences as a disgrace. From the piece:

The lawsuit against Harvard claiming it discriminates against Asian applicants may or may not succeed. But even if it fails, it has done the great public service of revealing how the school’s admissions process works behind the scenes.

The school was forced to turn its admissions data over to an expert witness for the plaintiffs: Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, who analyzed the data and found that Asian applicants are far less likely to be admitted than white applicants with the same academic credentials. And now, using numbers the suit has made publicly available, Arcidiacono and two co-authors have written a disturbing report laying out how legacy, athlete, and similar preferences warp the Harvard admissions process. Much like race-based affirmative action, these policies admit hundreds of students each year who would not be accepted on the basis of their academic records. And each of Harvard’s preferences twists the school’s racial balance in a different way.

The report is a compelling illustration of how a prestigious, progressive institution departs from meritocracy to reward the wealthy and connected. There may be little the government can do about non-racial preferences, considering Harvard is a private school and there’s no law against these forms of discrimination. But healthy doses of public shame are warranted, especially given how strongly Harvard and similar Ivy League schools control the pipeline into the top echelons of American society.

5. John-Paul Pagano whales on the persistence of the anti-Semitic “blood libel.” From the article:

Despite its lethality, anti-Semitism is the form of racism most often erased, excused, and even encouraged by people who identify as “antiracist.” One explanation for this phenomenon, increasingly dangerous as harassment, vandalism, and violence against Jews rise across the West, is the failure of Holocaust education to emphasize the importance of conspiracism in Nazi ideology. For their part, soi-disant American antiracists render Jews “white” and “privileged” through a limited lens of race and power, taking an approach that is an allotrope of anti-Semitism and disqualifies Jews from concern.

So when U.S. representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar resolved to visit Israel in August to showcase to the world its peculiar evil, and it emerged that Miftah, the Palestinian non-governmental organization co-sponsoring their trip, had published on its website that Jews bake Christian blood into their matzoh, most major media ignored it. For them the story was the erosion of liberal democracy by the tag team of Trump and Netanyahu, who had barred entry to the congresswomen. There is little indication that the blood libel stirred concern on the left where just a month earlier “Never again” was intoned relentlessly about Trump’s “concentration camps” at the border.

6. Arthur Herman is adamant that America prevail in its battle with China for 5G supremacy. From his piece:

But if China becomes the 5G hegemon of the 21st century, America will be increasingly relegated to the past, rather than the future, of advanced technologies.

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board released a report this year that stated, “Carriers to date have not demonstrated deployment capability that would deliver high speeds to large parts of the U.S. population.” The DIB warns, “The country that owns 5G will own” future innovations such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things. Under today’s policies, “that country is currently not likely to be the United States.”

China and its hand-picked 5G corporate colossus, Huawei, are poised to bestride the globe with Huawei’s version of 5G technology. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February, Huawei had more than 64 countries signed up to either use or test its 5G networks — this despite the long history of allegations that Huawei is a serial cyber and IP thief and tool of the Chinese military and intelligence services.

Today that number has grown to more than 90. More than 60 percent of Huawei’s contracts are on the European continent (some countries have more than one carrier using Huawei technology), including many leading U.S. allies.

7. Brexit: Michael Brendan Dougherty dissects the Remainer Coup. From the analysis:

That Remainer majority is imprisoning Boris Johnson as prime minister. Its continued course of voting against the executive while keeping it in place is a symbolic rejection of the political sovereignty of the British people.

An understanding of the United Kingdom’s constitution in continuity with what came before would have forced the courts to rule along the lines that Lord Doherty did in Scotland, before higher courts intervened: that the issue was non-justiciable. “In my opinion, there has been no contravention of the rule of law. Parliament is the master of its own proceedings,” he wrote. “It is for parliament to decide when it sits. Parliament can sit before and after prorogation.” Doherty noted that the prorogation was a “matter of ‘high policy’ and political judgement” that “could not be measured by legal standards.”

Instead the court invented a limit to prorogation where there was none in the statutes, thus reintroducing perhaps ten days of parliamentary debate to the longest sitting Parliament in living memory — and one of the least accomplished (see: constitutional crisis, above). Effectively, this supreme court, which is barely a decade old, has invented for itself the right of judicial review, meaning Parliament is no longer an unencumbered legal sovereign.

8. Kat Timpf is smoking mad about how Rep. Rashida Tlaib — who is “willfully lying or totally stupid” — performed at an anti-vaping Congressional hearing. From the piece:

But the stupid doesn’t end there. No, elsewhere in the interview, Tlaib literally said that secondhand smoke was “worse than directly smoking cigarettes.”

Again: What? Now, not only is that obviously not true, I am also having a hard time understanding how anyone could ever (ever!) even possibly think that it were. I mean, if that were the case, doctors would be advising children in households with parents who smoke to just start lighting up themselves, because puffing on cigs directly would at least be better for their health than just breathing it secondhand.

Oh, and Tlaib also seemed to suggest that vaping is just as harmful as smoking in the following exchange:

Porter: “The truth for me is that I quit smoking with e-cigarettes and so did eight million other people.”

 Tlaib: “You’re still smoking, ma’am. You’re still smoking.”

Hey, Tlaib? No, she’s not, and suggesting that she is is just as ridiculous as claiming that secondhand smoke is worse than smoking. Although I’m sure it’s not good for you, the expert consensus is that it is, at least, better. A study conducted by (known den of conspiracy theorists) Harvard found that vaping is “almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes,” and a Public Health England study found that it is 95 percent less harmful. (For more information on the actual facts on vaping safety, click here.)

9. Armond White checks out Socrates, another attempt by the Left to use kids to promote political agendas. From his review:

Using children to push political agendas, the most shameless form of propaganda, characterizes the new movie Socrates, a Brazilian coming-of-age film in which a suddenly orphaned black 15-year-old ironically named Socrates (Christian Malheiros) learns how the cruel world works at the same time that he realizes he is “different.”

Socrates, set in Sao Paulo’s teeming slums, combines poverty porn with identity politics — imagine an unhysterical version of Precious. Director Alexandre Moratto pushes all the social-justice warrior buttons, but the film’s primary tool is Socrates himself. Malheiros’s innocence and clearly readable passions are spotlighted as an idealized form of human experience — the more pathetic, the better. An impoverished black, a social cast-off and virginal romantic, a disenfranchised teen, Socrates has a purity that’s meant to convince us that his aspirations, as well as the fears he feels, all derive from innate wisdom that cannot be questioned.

Just as Socrates is full of pathos, is it also humorless. We’re meant to feel pity and then repent of our own shame. But while watching the handsome kid’s suffering, I also noticed the filmmaker’s tendency to sanctify his experience as somehow more virtuous than that of other, older characters (especially a bovine, maternal janitoress and the defensive gay youth who becomes Socrates’s first inamorato, a heartbreaker who initiates the teenager’s rite of passage). Like so many youths, Socrates’s most damaging pathology is being convinced that he is pathetic.

10. Another university speech code gets a judicial haymaker, which makes David French happy. From the analysis:

Last year, a group called Speech First filed an important lawsuit against the University of Michigan, challenging the content of the university’s bullying and harassment policy and its bias-response team’s procedures. The district court denied Speech First’s request for an injunction, holding in part that the group lacked standing to challenge the policy. Under the law, a court will not grant standing to a plaintiff in the absence of what’s called an “injury in fact,” and the question was whether the members of Speech First had suffered an “objective chill” to their free-speech rights or a mere “subjective chill.” For the chill to be objective, there must be proof that a “concrete harm” (enforcement of a statute or regulation) “occurred or is imminent.” If the plaintiff is concerned merely with the defendant’s “data-gathering activity,” and can’t meet the “concrete harm” standard, then the chill is subjective.

Make sense? To put it as plainly as possible, Michigan argued that the courts should move along — that there was nothing to see here because the bias-response team itself couldn’t punish anyone. Speech First said that actually, there was a problem, because the bias-response process itself could act as a form of punishment, and the team could still refer incidents to those with power to explicitly punish students.

Yesterday, in a decision with national implications, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Speech First, reversed the district court and ordered it to reconsider the group’s request for an injunction. Its ruling recognized the obvious power of the bias-response team:

The Response Team’s ability to make referrals — i.e., to inform OSCR or the police about reported conduct — is a real consequence that objectively chills speech. The referral itself does not punish a student — the referral is not, for example, a criminal conviction or expulsion. But the referral subjects students to processes which could lead to those punishments. The referral initiates the formal investigative process, which itself is chilling even if it does not result in a finding of responsibility or criminality.

11. Madeleine Kearns takes on the lefties’ anti-straw (and plastic bag) jihad. From her piece:

Did you know, for instance, that the life cycle of pulp and paper is the third largest cause of air, water, and land pollution in the United States, releasing over 100 million kilograms of toxins per annum? Or that around 10 percent more energy is required to create a paper bag than a plastic one, and around 4 percent more water? Paper is also made of trees, as you well know — which play a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide.

Despite this, Seattle banned plastic straws in July 2018, as have many corporate greens. Starbucks is phasing out plastic straws by 2020. MacDonald’s is moving to ban them in the U.K. and Ireland. Alaska Airlines is also ditching them. Will this change the weather and restore the climate to harmony? Not if the ban on single-use plastic bags are anything to go by.

When California banned single-use plastic bags in 2016, the state saw a reduction of 40 million pounds of plastic per year. However, a social scientist who researched that in 2019 found that it had inadvertently eliminated in-house recycling (i.e., using a plastic bag a second or third time for another purpose). That, in turn, resulted in the increase of trash bags by 12 million pounds. The study’s author added that to overlook this fact was to “overstate the regulation’s welfare gains.”

Similarly, after the Scottish government brought in a plastic-bag tax, it conducted a two-year investigation, published in 2005, comparing the life cycles of a single plastic bag with that of a paper bag. The conclusion was that a “paper bag has a more adverse impact than a plastic bag for most of the environmental issues considered.” A better response, evidently, would have been to try to encourage consumers to use plastic bags multiple times. In 2002, Ireland managed to do precisely that, reducing plastic-bag use per person per year from 328 to 21.

Billy Mays Time: But Wait, There’s More. Kevin Williamson offers the rebuttal that real men don’t need to suck their drinks through a tube.

Straws, like shorts in public if you are not actually in Bermuda, are for children.

You know what kind of grown man uses a straw? The guy who is watching something loud and obnoxious on his phone in public without headphones. In shorts. Like it’s normal. Like he shouldn’t be murdered on the spot.

Don’t be that guy, is my advice.

The Final Straw: To which Maddy rejoinders (is that a verb?) from the female perspective.

First, Kevin does not wear lipstick. For if he did, he would know that straws play an essential role in preventing the smudging and smearing, not of one’s character (since, in fairness, he does know about that), but of one’s facial polish.

Second, Kevin does not drink smoothies. For again, if he did, he would know that an unwanted purple mustache would probably accompany his — what was it? — pledge to “drink like a functional adult who can lift a glass to his face.”

12. To quote the great Gomer Pyle, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! John Fund checks out Justin Trudeau, an identity-politics hypocrite. From the beginning of his column:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is desperately trying to apologize for the multiple times he appeared in blackface. He has asked for forgiveness, blaming his behavior on the fact that he comes from “a place of privilege.” But now, he adds, “I have to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot.”

Karen Wang, of Vancouver, British Columbia, doesn’t come from a place of privilege. She emigrated from mainland China in 1999 at age 23 and has built a respected day-care business. Last January, while running for Parliament as a candidate representing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a special election, she was suddenly accused of racism. The Liberal Party panicked and within 24 hours forced her resignation, leaving her reputation in tatters.

What was Karen Wang’s sin? One of her campaign volunteers wrote and posted a WeChat message in Mandarin that translates as:

If we can increase the voting rate, as the only [ethnic] Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes, I will easily win the by-election, control the election race, and make history! My opponent in this by election is the NDP candidate [Jasmeet] Singh of Indian descent!

Convinced that she was a victim of a misunderstanding, she asked Prime Minister Trudeau, who is her party’s leader, for a second chance. He spurned her, and the party filled the slot with another candidate who went on to lose the February 25 race by 13 points.

13. Kevin Williamson drills down and reveals a clear alternative to war: Fracking. From his piece:

If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.

The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as “fracking” — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.

When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand — and more realistic options — when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world.

14. Brian Allen finds the Winslow Homer exhibit at Harvard’s Fogg Museum is pretty good, and discovers that “fake news” was alive and well in Civil War America. From his review:

Whenever you look at art by Homer, it’s worth remembering that he became famous as a newspaper and magazine illustrator from the late 1850s through the 1870s. He was a star illustrator of the two marquee news magazines, Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Monthly, before the technology of mass producing a photograph was developed. And what made him more famous is his coverage of the biggest news story in America: the Civil War.

The show is a good balance of illustrations, watercolors, paintings, and photographs, and they’re not only separate media but reinforcing ones. News from the War, a Homer illustration that appeared in June 1862, is one of the early works in the show. Yes, Homer was covering a grisly war, but the eternally narcissistic news business — reporters like nothing more than a story about themselves — could take time to celebrate its own acumen in getting good stories from the battlefield to the hearth.

Homer is a designer of genius. It’s seven vignettes, so it’s complicated. He organizes it through effective black and white contrasts and a cunning talent for using passages of symmetry and asymmetry to keep things both lively and moving in a coherent way. News comes by letter, bugle, word of mouth, the new technology of railroads, and, emphatically, via the gutsy reporter, who happens to be Homer himself.

Is Elizabeth Warren the New Baldrick? The October 14, 2019, (Special!) Issue of National Review Takes on the Prexy Wannabe Who Has a Plan for Just about Everything.

She reminds one of Blackadder’s sidekick and his penchant for announcing cunning plans, no? So, the editors of your favorite magazine have assembled a dozen pieces investigating the many ways the presidential hopeful wants to remake America and spend trillions in the process of doing so. Shall we highlight four of those efforts? Yes!

1. Kyle Smith leas off the shebang with a profile of the shifting identities of the “Indian from Outer Space.” From the beginning of the piece:

“Fauxcahontas” and “Lieawatha” are serviceable enough as one-word descriptors for Elizabeth Warren. But her decades-long phony insistence on Cherokee identity, which is to identity politics what stolen valor is to military service, is just part of her oleaginous, changeling habit of cycling through one persona after another. She’s Chief Spitting Bull, the lady with a J.D. in B.S.

Whether she’s claiming her white parents had to elope because of racism or, five years after the matter was litigated, falsely asserting that Michael Brown “was murdered” in Ferguson, Mo., or stating she was the “first nursing mother to take a bar exam in the state of New Jersey,” as though anyone kept tabs on such strange details (“Excuse me, madam, are you lactating at the moment? I’m making a record book”), Elizabeth Warren is always ready with a load of bull. Warren will say whatever is convenient for her ambitions of the moment. “I am not running for president of the United States,” Senator Warren said last March on Meet the Press. “I am running for the United States Senate in 2018 in Massachusetts.” The month after she was reelected she announced she was forming an exploratory committee to mull a presidential run.

And note the false, strained way she did get in the presidential race, in that in famous video. She starts recording. Then—hello, soon-to-be-conquered Earth people, I understand you like brewed malt beverages on this planet—she immediately takes a break to get a beer. Her programmers in the Nebula 235X star system have told her that ordinary Earthfolk are intimidated by proper grammar, so she phrases this entirely natural and spontaneous decision like this: “Hold on a sec, I’m gonna get me, uh, a beer.” Then she follows up with this classic: “Hey! My husband Bruce is now in here!” Her husband was in her house? Where does she normally keep him, in the shed with the lawnmower? Warren isn’t just phony, she’s creepy and alien and able to change form to play on your nightmares: She’s It of the Charles. Occasionally she lets the mask slip, as when, in Greenwich Village, she positioned herself as the candidate opposed to half the population. “We’re not here today because of famous arches or famous men,” she said. “In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.” Huh? Warren must be the first candidate in history to think that winning the working class means deriding the sex that does most of the grunt labor in this country. Should she make it to the general election, and advisers somberly inform her that she is losing the men’s vote by 97 points and that all of her male supporters wear Capris and live in Brooklyn, I wonder what her Dukakis-in-a-tank response will be. My guess is it’ll involve a mis begotten attempt to imbibe tequila during a show at Bada Bing’s, where she somehow mis pronounces the word “bro.” Someone will ask who her favorite member of the New England Patriots is and she’ll say something like “Eli Kaepernick.”

2. Bradley Smith and Luke Wachob see proposals by the self-proclaimed anti-corruption advocate as limiting the ability of citizens to hold government (of, by, and for . . . the bureaucrats?) accountable. From the piece:

In 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing legislation that would restrict, tax, regulate, and otherwise impede the activities of Americans who want to advocate public policies, just as she herself did ten years ago. She calls it a plan to end corruption. It won’t work; in fact it will hurt the very people it is supposed to help, and will establish deeply rooted government bureaucrats who can shut down—or even jail—Americans who speak out or support groups that speak out. Whether or not it becomes law, the proposal offers a window into the way all too many progressives (and even some conservatives) approach the regulation of politics and political speech.

Senator Warren frames her measure as an attack on the influence of the wealthy, but it is really an attack on the influence of anyone outside government. The proposed law would regulate as lobbying virtually any activity intended to influence any government action. It would tax any organization, no matter how large, that spends more than $500,000 per year on “lobbying.” Anything more than that is “excessive,” she writes.

Does that look good on paper? It won’t in practice. For comparison’s sake, note that the federal government spent over $4 trillion in 2018 alone. Federal regulations impose additional costs on Americans each year amounting to trillions of dollars. Major government projects are enormously expensive: The Trump administration recently diverted $3.6 billion in military funds for the construction of a border wall, and that only scratches the surface of the wall’s total projected cost.

3. American energy independence will go up in smoke, warns Shawn Regan, if Warren’s threatened what-the-frack attack on the great boon to our economy and self-sufficiency takes place. From the piece:

If there were any doubts about the particulars of Elizabeth Warren’s energy-policy plans after the recent CNN climate town hall, she cleared them up in a single tweet. “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands,” she wrote. “And I will ban fracking—everywhere.”

Throughout her campaign, Warren has made her plan to end new federal fossil-fuel leases well known. With that tweet, she also became one of only a few candidates— including Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris—to call for a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing, a technique, used to extract oil and gas from shale formations, that has revolutionized America’s energy industry.

Presidential candidates often put forward fanciful policy proposals knowing full well that Congress will be unable or unwilling to pass them. Behold, for example, the climate-policy arms race of the Democratic presidential primary. Nearly every candidate in the crowded field has proposed some form of a multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal—including everything from carbon taxes and federal job guarantees to massive new spending programs—that almost certainly would not pass in the 117th Congress.

But executive action is different, which is why pledges such as Warren’s are cause for concern. For the moment, set aside that presidents lack the authority to singlehandedly outlaw an entire industry such as fracking, which mostly occurs on private lands. Presidents do have significant authority to shift federal energy policy, especially on public lands and waters. So let’s drill down on—er, gently ask—what Warren’s anti-fracking, anti-drilling plan would mean in practice.

4. Carrie Lukas finds Warren’s day-care plan — which emphasizes strangers and centers over traditional help (from family and relatives) — is expensive and harmful. From the piece:

Yet the economic problems aren’t the main reason to oppose the plan. Far more important would be its harmful impact on families and communities.

By making day-care centers free or very low-cost, Warren’s plan would induce more families to rely on formal child-care providers. Currently, while most families with young children have child-care needs, only a minority of them use formal daycare centers. As of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60 percent of mothers with children under age six worked outside the home. But Pew Social Trends reported that just shy of half (48 percent) of children under age six with working parents were enrolled in preschool or day care as of 2015. Nearly as many (45 percent) depended on family members other than parents to take care of them, and a nanny or babysitter looked after 16 percent.

Many of these extended-family caregivers were likely living in the same home as the young children they were helping to raise. That’s an underdiscussed reality of today’s family life: Pew Research Center reports that just 12 percent of households were multigenerational in 1980, but that number has risen across all racial groups. Today, an estimated one in five Americans live in a multigenerational household.

There are many reasons that different generations end up living in the same household, and not all are positive: a parent’s addiction problem that leaves grandparents caring for young children; adult children’s inability to find employment that enables them to leave home; an elderly family member’s disability that requires extensive care. But Warren ought to know firsthand that these multigenerational living situations can also be beneficial, both for young families that benefit from having more caregivers and for the older caregivers, who remain more engaged and engrained in family life than they would be on their own. Such relationships would

Lest We Forget, Adios Kevin

This from The Week in the new issue. It’s just a graf, but of our friend, a book — volumes — could be written. Hmmm, maybe some day . . .

One of NR’s strengths is the long tenure of many colleagues. Such comes with a downside: When one moves on, it comes as a blow. Kevin Longstreet, longtime ad salesman, life of any party, joy of any office scrum, leaves us after 30-plus years to seek new ventures. He was a favorite of Bill Buckley, who had competition from his wife. Scene from an NR cruise: At the port in Harwich (U.K.), Pat Buckley—steamed that WFB had gotten them onto the wrong bus (to the Tower of London)—emerged from a frustrating sojourn and, before scores of gang-planking subscribers, loudly faux-raged that she would seek a divorce . . . to be followed by marriage to Young Kevin. Never refusing a company task, Kevin expressed his willingness. There was always a new NR duty for him: Over the decades, the former NR mailroom jockey and colorful, caper-pulling, street-smart, ready-to-rumble Yankee fan had roles as the right hand to publisher Ed Capano, first mate on scores of NR cruises, successful ad salesman, friend to all. No matter the station of those he encountered, Kevin shared his nature and rogue’s humor, generously and equally, and got the same in return. The anecdotes are legend. Another from an NR sailing: Kevin picked up cruise speaker Karl Rove from a Mexican airport, after which gun-toting cops surrounded and stopped their car, from which sprang Kevin, firing expletives and brandishing intimidation and threats. The federales backed down. On the ship, an admiring Rove regaled the crowd about his new BFF with a talent for getting things done. Deep friendships remain, as do heavy hearts. We wish him godspeed.

The Six

1. Mes amigos at Babalú Blog published Dr. Jose Azel’s essay, “Why I am an Exile and not an Immigrant.” From the piece:

For exiles, returning is not an option ruled by personal conditions or motives. It is an action centered on the conditions affecting their countrymen. Going into exile is a political statement against collective injustice. When a political exile surrenders to his personal melancholy by returning without a fundamental change in the conditions that brought about his exit, he relinquishes the label of political exile and becomes an immigrant.

This is not a critical judgement; it is a definitional one. Often, return is the case for some Cuban exiles that, after decades of valiantly opposing oppression, have elected to visit their homeland. Many are motivated by humanitarian reasons; to share once again, perhaps for the last time, in the company of a loved one, or to bring comfort to one in need. Consequently, the Cuban community has shifted, in some measure, from a community of political exiles to one of immigrants.

I left Cuba in 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan -at that time the largest exodus of unaccompanied children in the history of the Western Hemisphere- and began life in the United States with an indelible, if juvenile, idea of our individual freedoms. I vowed then never to return, until Cuba was once again free. And so, I have not returned to my birthplace, and I have never been able to visit my parents’ grave in Havana’s Colon Cemetery. This is why I am not an immigrant.

Viva Cuba Libre!

2. At City Journal, Joel Kotkin wonders if Silicon Valley’s useful idiots have sold the rope that will hang them to the California Democratic Party. From the piece:

California governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the recently passed Assembly Bill 5, which will effectively turn many contractors into employees. AB5 codifies the California Supreme Court’s unanimous May 2018 ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles that many contractors should be treated as employees. The legislation’s prime backers are the state’s unions, which see it as an ideal way to organize now out-of-reach workers.

The new measure is potentially devastating, though, for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, all built around part-time employees, and none yet profitable. Many other tech firms—including profitable ones—use contractors for everything from app development to catering to cleaning. As many as 2 million Californians are employed in so-called gig work. If AB5 passes, job losses won’t just be felt by the ride-hailing firms but also by many other businesses, including newspapers, small trucking firms, some medical providers, and even franchise owners.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Silicon Valley, like many industries, placed its bets on both political parties. Moderate Republicans like Pete McCloskey, Ed Zschau, and Tom Campbell routinely won congressional elections, as did similarly minded members of the state legislature. But over the past few decades, the Valley has become politically monochromatic, with virtually no elected Republicans. Almost all contributions from Silicon Valley tech owners and employees in the 2016 and 2018 elections went to Democrats. Tech money helped Newsom outspend his GOP rival by three to one—with major contributions from former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Lauren Jobs (widow of the Apple founder) at the top of the donor list. Former Google chairman Eric Schmidt heads data efforts for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and arch-populist Elizabeth Warren. Tech employees are, if anything, more progressive-leaning in their political contributions than their corporate masters.

3. Over There: The great historian, Andrew Roberts, writing in The Daily Mail, thinks Boris Johnson must break a bad law (the “Benn Act”) for the greater good of Brexit. From his article:

The Benn Act was a very English form of coup d’etat, orchestrated by an anti-Brexit faction in Parliament to subvert the clearly expressed will of the people. It is, therefore, necessary for Boris to break it to restore the proper constitutional relationship between Government, Parliament and people.

If he has the courage to do so, he will be following a distinguished path. In 1635, the MP John Hampden refused to pay the Ship Money tax – a levy collected by Charles I for outfitting his Navy – because it had not been agreed by Parliament and was unlawful. The row led to a revolt that overthrew the Stuart monarchy.

On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty – a group opposed to colonial rule in America – broke into ships owned by Britain’s East India Company to destroy a shipment of tea by throwing it into Boston harbour.

They were protesting against a British levy on tea because they believed there should be no taxation without representation. Their actions led directly to the rebellion that overthrew the colonial government in America.

Both Hampden and the Sons of Liberty were ultimately successful because their law-breaking was supported by the will of the people.

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi broke the law by leading a march that ended with him picking up a small amount of salt from marshes on the India coast in contravention of Britain’s Salt Act, which prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt. The protest was a turning point in the fortunes of Indian nationalists. Seventeen years later they won independence from the Empire. There, too, the will of the people was behind Gandhi.

4. Daniel Payne at The College Fix reports on Harvard University’s instituting a policy requiring a “moderator” to be present when a high-profile speaker comes to campus, and plenty more. From the beginning of the article:

Harvard University this year has instituted a new policy regarding campus speakers, stating that certain speaking events may require a moderator to be present if the orator is controversial or “high-profile.”

Harvard College’s Dean of Students Office added language to the school’s resource guide this year stating that “groups bringing high-profile, controversial, or ‘VIP’ guests to campus must notify the DSO at least a month in advance, and that a moderator may need to attend events if the DSO finds it necessary or if a group requests one,” The Harvard Crimson reports.

These moderators, which will be drawn from either the dean’s office or from faculty and administrative personnel, will have the power to employ a “two-strike policy” at speaking events, removing any audience members who grow disruptive during an assembly.

5. You are alive in America in 1775 and . . . just who and what are you? At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer says fecund, and other things too (if there was time for it!). From this excellent piece:

Third were the thousands upon thousands of Quakers who sought an escape from the Puritans as well as the Anglicans, hoping peaceably to live their own lives as they saw fit in the 1660s and 1670s. They, of course, settled in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Fourth were the thousands upon thousands of Scots-Irish who sought an escape from all things not Scottish during the hundred years leading up to the American Revolution. They, of course, settled almost anywhere that was devoid of governmental authority. Only nominally Presbyterian, they were the least religious of the free migrants who came to the American colonies. They were also the least concentrated, coming, more often than not, clan by clan.

Fifth were the thousands upon thousands of Africans, captured as prisoners of war, and sold in the Americas. Though only involuntary indentured servants for their first fifty years in the English colonies, black Americans soon found what few rights they enjoyed narrowing and narrowing. The slave owners began, slowly at first, to change that forced indentured servitude into chattel slavery, beginning sometime around 1669.

Thus, by 1763, free Americans were, by and large, Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and very Protestant. They were also, by profession, almost exclusively involved in agriculture. It must also be noted, of course, that there were other groups living on American soil, including some Swedes, some Dutch, and a few Germans. There was also a sizeable, if dwindling, population of American Indians.

6. In The New Atlantis, Brendan Foht says that society is approaching baby manufacturing while ethicists are occupied by frivolities. From his essay:

With their schemes for human enhancement, transhumanists are bound to pay attention to any new biotechnology, and stem cell–derived gametes are no exception. A good example of a human enhancement scheme inspired by stem cell–derived gametes is the “iterated embryo selection” proposed by transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom in his 2014 bestseller Superintelligence.

His proposal is to use stem cell–derived gametes as part of a strategy for conducting eugenic selection for intelligence on dozens or hundreds of generations of embryos. (As the book’s name suggests, intelligence is the trait Bostrom is interested in, but the strategy could work with whatever heritable traits the eugenicist wants to propagate.) The in vitro eugenicists would first make embryos, either from stem cell–derived gametes or through old-fashioned IVF, and then do genetic diagnosis to find the embryos with genes for intelligence. Instead of allowing these embryos to grow into intelligent babies, the embryos would be destroyed to make stem cells, which would, in turn, be used to create gametes from which a new generation of embryos could be created, which could then be once again selected for intelligence. This process could go on for dozens of generations and would be akin to the old dream of the eugenicists — controlling human breeding the way farmers control the breeding of their animals, and with the same dramatic results.

The old eugenicists tried to do this with humans, but they were unable to succeed — most people don’t want their own reproductive choices made for them by government scientists, even if too many in the twentieth century were happy enough to see the state sterilize thousands of women and men who were deemed unfit or undesirable. Some writers, like ethics professor Nicholas Agar, have argued that reproductive technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis could allow for a “liberal eugenics” that “will allow prospective parents to look to their own values in selecting improvements for future children.” But for Bostrom the appeal of the technology of iterated embryo selection is more about its vastly greater efficiency, making it “possible to accomplish ten or more generations of selection in just a few years.” His goal is not to expand human procreative choice, but to enhance the intelligence of biological human beings so that we will stand a chance against the super-intelligent robots of the future — a scenario that makes the usual concerns accompanying reproductive technologies, like the desire of parents for genetically related children, seem rather secondary.

Bonus: We celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of National Affairs with a little attention paid to the essay by Eli Lehrer and M. Anthony Mills about the need to revitalize the American science “ecosystem” that once produced so much innovation. From their piece:

The most important factor contributing to America’s innovative success, however, is somewhat underappreciated by scholars of technology: permissionless innovation. The fact that new inventions often disrupted existing orders, and sometimes even resulted in bona fide negative externalities, rarely concerned policymakers in the 19th century. That is to say, the U.S. government didn’t regulate innovation pre-emptively. Samuel Slater, an early-19th-century textile magnate who memorized the designs of English mills, and Hannah Wilkinson, his wife and also an inventor, did not have to acquire permission from the U.S. government to build their own mills in America or deal with a guild that would stop them from replicating British mill designs. Likewise, Slater was able to dam rivers and, in some cases, create whole new villages because nothing in the law stopped him from doing so. Later in the century, Thomas Edison, America’s most famous inventor, benefited from a legal environment similarly conducive to experimentation and innovation: He could patent innovations but did not have to seek permission to develop them.

Permissionless innovation did not mean anarchy. In fact, it was possible in part because it existed within a legal framework that rewarded innovation. America’s patent system required disclosure of inventions in return for limited monopoly rights. This had the effect of expanding knowledge rather than allowing it to remain the property of certain guilds. In the process, it contributed to what economic historian B. Zorina Khan calls the “democratization of invention”: the “offering [of] secure property rights to true inventors, regardless of age, color, marital status, gender, or economic standing.”

Nor did permissionless innovation mean externalities went entirely unheeded. Eventually, Slater’s mills were regulated in several ways, as were the fruits of Edison’s electrical inventions, along with the railroad and telecommunications industries. But the initial innovations that sparked these new sectors of the economy took place without “permission.” Regulation, for the most part, remained a step behind technology; laws to regulate new technologies were implemented only after externalities became apparent. America’s permissive regulatory regime helped it become one of the most innovative countries in the world for its first century or so, even though it was decidedly inferior (in all but a few cases) to Europe when it came to producing cutting-edge science.

Baseballery

Well, 75 years ago this week a singular thing happened in the annals of our National Pastime: The St. Louis Browns won their sole pennant. It’s an accomplishment discussed before in this space, but we try not to let October 1 pass without recalling it, for it was on that day, the regular season’s last, that the Browns and the Tigers, tied for first (the Yankees, in first place as late as September 10, were stinkers down the stretch and were to be found distantly in third place), settled their fates. On that day, the Browns took the fourth game of the homefield stand (a sweep of the Bronx Bombers) with a 5–2 win, while the Tigers lost at home to the last-place Senators, 4–1.

The pennant was managed out of the usually hapless Browns (they’d finished in second place just twice, in 1902 and 1922) by Luke Sewell.

Here in 2019, the Baltimore Former Browns just completed their final home stand. Not once all season — as has been the amnesia-plagued ownership’s standard since the team moved to Maryland in 1954 — was the Diamond Anniversary of the franchise’s premier pennant recognized.

R.I.P.: Baseball’s oldest living former Major Leaguer, Tom Jordan — he played for the White Sox, Indians, and Browns in the mid-to-late 1940s, and even caught two games (for the White Sox) against St. Louis during the Browns’ 1944 pennant run — died last month, a few days shy of his 100th birthday.

A Dios

The Old Man would have been 90 this week. Remember the departed in your prayers.

God’s Abundant Love for You and for America,

Jack Fowler, who will receive communications from any and all lingering Browns fans at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Dese, Dems, Dose . . . Dat’s Dumb

Dear Weekend Jolters,

Later in this missive, we (in the form of Madeleine Kearns, a she and her) pronounce on pronouns — and the ongoing lunacy to veto God’s decision to make man, woman, and nothing else. According to one count, thems that contrive these thar gender contrivances have manufactured 112. Curious? In alphabetical order, the list commences with

Abimegender: a gender that is profound, deep, and infinite; meant to resemble when one mirror is reflecting into another mirror creating an infinite paradox.

and ends with

Vocigender: a gender that is weak or hollow.

Neither “male” nor “female” made the cut. And so it goes. Meanwhile, Iran pushes the world to the brink of war while Brett Kavanaugh is subject of the song that never ends, as sung by the demented and determined Left and abetted by Fifth Estate fellow travelers.

That babbled, damn the torpedoes and on with the Jolt!

But Wait, There’s More: Let Me Tell You What You Are Doing Next April.

You are going on the National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise. From Basel to Amsterdam, and visiting Strasbourg, Cologne, Rudesheim, Ludwigshafen, Breisach, and Lahnstein, in the company of exceptional conservatives — Rich Lowry, Daniel Hannan, Amity Shlaes, David Pryce-Jones, Charles Kesler, Sally Pipes, John O’Sullivan, Nina Shea, Kevin Williamson, Seth Lipsky, and Adam Meyerson — it’s going to be a wunderbah week (April 19–26) on AmaWaterways’ glorious AmaMora. Get complete information at nrcruise.com.

Now, on with the Jolt? Yes!

Editorials

1. The New York Times’ smear against Justice Brett Kavanaugh was reprehensible. From our editorial:

The New York Times’s disgraceful weekend performance is a reminder that the media performed abysmally during the Kavanaugh confirmation process. Ronan Farrow had accumulated an enormous amount of capital reporting thoroughly researched and well-corroborated claims of sexual abuse that helped launch the #MeToo movement. He squandered that reputation for scrupulosity by reporting Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself in spite of the total absence of corroborating evidence and in spite of evidence that Ramirez herself was unsure of her memories.

But for sheer malice nothing can match the speed and ferocity with which reporters accepted the facially ludicrous rape story pushed by Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick. She claimed that she saw Kavanaugh “waiting his turn” for a gang rape and spiking punch to facilitate gang rapes. The story was never remotely plausible, but that didn’t stop media figures from shaming anyone who expressed public doubts on Twitter.

Perhaps the nadir of the whole affair is when Vox helped “explain the news” by publishing a piece arguing that the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles provided “important context” for the Kavanaugh allegations. In the 1980s, you see, there was a different “cultural understanding” about gang rape.

2. The emerging campaign against vaping is textbook Big Brother and overkill. And an affront to federalism. From our editorial:

These issues are best addressed one at a time rather than lumped together into a single, unitary response to the current mass hysteria about vaping.

The Trump administration is wrong to prohibit particular flavors of vaping product as a means of preventing children from taking up the habit. The obvious parallel case is flavored tobacco; in spite of the great national panic over flavored “bidis,” hand-rolled cigarettes, a decade ago, U.S. smokers, including underage smokers, overwhelmingly used cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products; a 2006 study found that less than 3 percent of U.S. high-school students smoked bidis, and just over 1 percent of those 18 to 24 did. Overall cigarette smoking among young people has been tanking since the mid 1990s, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which found daily cigarette use rates of 3.6 percent for high-school seniors and half that or less for those younger. In 1996, one in ten eighth-graders reported daily cigarette smoking; today, that number is less than 1 percent.

The states and the federal government are perfectly capable of policing the sale of vaping products to underage consumers in exactly the same way they police the sales of tobacco and alcohol. (“E-cigarette” is a misnomer for products such as those sold by Juul, which — this is important to remember — contain no tobacco.) Shut down offending vape shops, yank business licenses, and put a couple of chain-store managers in jail if necessary. There is no good reason to prohibit products that are perfectly appropriate to adults simply because a few retailers mishandle them. Punish the guilty — leave everyone else alone.

3. President Trump is seeking to overturn the influential California auto waiver to the Clean Air Act. We say, yeah. From the editorial:

Further, under the Obama administration, California leveraged the car industry’s desire for a single regulatory regime into an agreement with the federal government, under which the nationwide regulations would reflect California’s priorities. As a result, car buyers nationwide had to pay extra for vehicles meeting the state’s preferences. No single state should have such power.

The waiver needs to go. And the Trump administration should continue with the other element of its plan too: nixing Obama-era rules that required fuel economy to hit nearly 55 miles per gallon on average by 2025, a far-fetched goal that could force car companies to sell electric vehicles at a loss to bring down the average fuel economy of their overall fleets. Freezing the standards after next year, as the administration plans to do, could reduce the future price of a car by thousands of dollars — and also reduce motor-vehicle fatalities, because one way carmakers increase fuel efficiency is to make cars lighter and more dangerous.

Abbondanza! Mama Has Cooked Up a Big Plate Heaped with 17 Sausages and a Couple of Braciole

1. Madeleine Kearns opens Webster’s and finds pronoun madness. Just what in the heck are they doing?! From her Corner post:

This week Merriam-Webster added a “non-binary” definition of “they” to the dictionary to cater to individuals who identify as neither male nor female. Also this week, National Review’s Douglas Murray went on BBC Radio 4 to promote his new book The Madness of Crowds. During the interview, Douglas said “I don’t think there is any such thing as non-binary. And I think a lot of people know that too.”

The journalist Afua Hirsch disagreed. She said that Douglas’s criticism of the pop singer Sam Smith, for his recent announcement that he is non-binary and now prefers “they/them” pronouns, was akin to bullying. Smith is simply “somebody who is making an expression of his identity,” Hirsch said.

2. Then there is Maddy’s take on the bitchin’ attempt to get Oxford Dictionary bosses to remove words that patronize women. From her commentary:

So will removing the words from the dictionary help prevent sexist and misogynistic abuse? Unlikely. As it happens, I’ve recently been discussing death threats — purely academic, of course — with a number of friends and mentors. What’s interesting is that not a single one recommends altering the dictionary as a means of preventing them. No one has yet suggested taking out all the words that might spell out variations of “I am going to kill you.” That would be silly, since hijacking the English language isn’t apt to directly influence the way people behave. If someone is a sexist pig, he is still going to be a sexist pig after you’ve removed “biddy” and “bint” from the dictionary. Likewise, if someone is not a sexist pig, he probably won’t become one because he sees the words “petticoat” and “frail” in the dictionary.

But it is true that language can influence the way people think. And here is where I draw your attention to points two and three — to those cunning little Greeks, laying quietly inside the wooden horse’s belly. For this is not really about redefining women in order to protect them — it is about “enlarging the definition” of women so that it includes men.

This petition is not the first of its kind. Which is why Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, a stay-at-home mom of four from England, spent a little under $1,000 on a dictionary campaign last year in response. Keen-Minshull had the original definition of woman — “noun: adult human female” — pasted in black and white on a billboard in Liverpool. Its simplicity symbolized the obviousness of its message. It broadcast truthfulness in a time of lies.

3. Amen, Bobby Jindal, who writes that President Trump needed someone like John Bolton at his side. From his piece:

Ambassador Bolton’s resignation seems more important than previous staff departures. There was always going to be conflict between Trump’s isolationist tendencies and desire to negotiate everything and Bolton’s neoconservative desire to remake the world in America’s image. One does not have to always agree with Bolton to believe his values-based approach was a good balance to Trump’s transactional approach to foreign affairs. Many who did not want to see Bolton unleashed still appreciated him as a counterbalance to Trump. It was helpful to have someone around who was willing to remind the State Department that many adversarial regimes are nothing but evil.

Bolton made two mistakes unforgivable in the Trump administration. First, he publicly opposed Trump. Second, he was right. He argued, privately and through leaks, against the Taliban coming to Camp David to negotiate with the president. When the Taliban summit blew up and it was evident Bolton was right, Trump did what came naturally and parted ways with him. Bolton already had a history of disagreeing with the president’s more personality-based and open approaches to North Korea and Iran, and he had taken a harder stand for regime change in Venezuela.

Trump can credibly claim his disruptive approach to foreign policy fulfills the promises he made to the American voters. He differs from his predecessors not in his excessive rhetoric on the campaign trail, but rather in his seriousness in following through. Voters had tired of the bipartisan consensus that America must simply continue abiding by unfair trade deals and bear a disproportionate burden to help keep the peace. Hard-working voters were tired of making all the sacrifices to benefit the nation’s elites and other countries’ emerging middle classes. Trump promised to exit the Paris climate treaty, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership; move America’s embassy to Jerusalem; and renegotiate NAFTA. He has done these things. While he may not have succeeded in convincing Mexico to pay for his border wall, he has used the threat of tariffs to motivate Mexico to help dramatically stem the flow of illegal immigrants coming from Central America. All of these moves were considered impractical by the foreign-policy establishment ruling both parties, just as Reagan’s determination to take down the Evil Empire was also once derided as cowboy foolishness.

Related: Jim Talent finds Trump’s replacement for Bolton, Robert O’Brien, to be an excellent choice. From his analysis:

So a good national security adviser needs to do an incredible amount of work quickly, to process enormous flows of information and organize the key points for the president, and to be, and be seen as, an honest broker by the actors who run the State Department, the Defense Department, the CIA, and the other national security agencies. He must make the decision train run on time, under tremendous pressure, and keep his head when everybody else is losing theirs. Typically the NSA also defends the administration policy in the press and helps sell the policy to other actors in Washington.

Those tasks are well suited to O’Brien’s skill set and temperament. He has a prodigious capacity for work and the ability to adapt quickly to new domains and platforms. That’s why he was able to succeed as the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, where he was instrumental in bringing home a dozen American hostages — one of President Trump’s personal priorities, and no doubt what brought O’Brien’s abilities to Trump’s attention.

Like all good litigators, O’Brien learns his brief quickly and thinks well on his feet. He has a lot of experience dealing with the press and handling tough interviews, he can conduct, or manage, arguments without getting personal, and his training has acculturated him to representing the opinions and interests of his client, who in this case will be the president.

O’Brien will be criticized for having a foreign policy resume that is not as deep as some other NSAs. I think that’s an advantage. His perspective will be fresher and more independent than it would be if he was aligned with any camp, and he won’t hesitate to ask tough questions challenging the status quo on behalf of the president. I think he’ll be able to do that without embarrassing any of the big players, but if O’Brien has to expose a weakness in order to better serve his boss, he’ll do it without any qualms.

4. David French high-fives the Arizona Supreme Court for its ruling that defends free speech and religious freedom. From his piece:

Free speech and religious liberty are on a winning streak. Last month the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that Christian wedding photographers could not be compelled to use their artistic talents to help celebrate same-sex weddings. Today, the Arizona Supreme Court reached a similar holding, this time on behalf of Christian calligraphers and painters Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski. The case, brought by my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, is similar to multiple other wedding vendor cases. The plaintiffs do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (they happily serve gay customers). They merely refuse to produce art that advances ideas they find objectionable.

Duka and Koski operate a limited liability company called “Brush & Nib Studios.” The company’s Operating Agreement declares its beliefs quite clearly — stating that it will not create “custom artwork that communicates ideas or messages . . . that contradict biblical truth, demean others, endorse racism, incite violence, or promote any marriage besides marriage between one man and one woman, such as same-sex marriage.” As with all these cases, the core question is whether the custom artwork at issue constitutes constitutionally protected speech (the court was interpreting the Arizona constitution, but applied federal free speech precedents). If so, then the state’s demand that the plaintiffs produce art for same-sex marriages constitutes a form of compelled speech, among the most egregious forms of First Amendment violation. Compelled speech violates the fundamental principle that “an individual has autonomy over his or her speech and thus may not be forced to speak a message he or she does not wish to say.”

5. Jonathan Tobin goes after Bernie Sanders for making a surrogate of the notorious anti-Semite Linda Sarsour. From his piece:

Sarsour became a celebrity in the months after Trump’s election as one of the organizers of the Women’s March, which mobilized the “resistance” to the new administration even before it took office. The group gave her a prominent platform, but from the very start of the massive anti-Trump rallies that launched it on the day after Trump’s inauguration, it was clearly tainted by anti-Semitism. Some Jewish activists who were initially involved with the March have spoken about how the group’s leaders marginalized them and allowed what many had initially thought to be a mainstream movement to be dominated by radicals, who professed hard-core opposition to Israel’s existence and openness to being allied with anti-Semites such as the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan.

Sarsour was at the center of the controversy over the group’s anti-Semitic elements, and for good reason. She is an open advocate for the BDS movement, which is drenched in anti-Semitic invective, and unlike some of those who flirt with BDS, she isn’t coy about her objectives. She opposes the existence of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn and refers to all of Israeli territory as “occupied.” She has made a habit of personally attacking Jews who support Israel. And she has made it clear that pro-Israel women are not welcome in the Women’s March. She has also remained an ardent defender of other March leaders, such as Tamika Mallory, who are open fans of anti-Semitic hatemongers such as Farrakhan.

Sarsour and her apologists on the Jewish left claim that she is misunderstood. They point to gestures such as her fundraising to help vandalized Jewish cemeteries, even if it is unclear how much, if any, help she has ever actually given such causes. And they will surely cite her statement supporting Sanders, which she spoke of her pride in helping elect the first Jewish president and opposition to anti-Semitism, as further proof of their case. But her record and stated beliefs can’t be so easily waved away.

6. Jim Geraghty straps on the spelunking gear and investigates the mind of the Joe Biden voter. From his piece:

All those smart guys laughed when Biden said in the debate that kids should listen to the record player. You know what he meant, and everybody you know knows what he meant, too: that parents have to look out for their kids and pay attention to them. Everybody’s trying to jump on everything we say these days. They look back at the old busing stuff and act like Biden’s some kind of racist — he was Barack Obama’s vice president, for Pete’s sake! So, he says stuff that doesn’t come out right. Big deal; we all do that.

You loved him as vice president. That picture of him in the biker bar with the woman who’s practically on his lap? He’d get that kind of greeting at your local bar, too. Obama was great, but you could understand why some people found him a little stiff or professorial. Biden’s the backslapper who connects with everybody.

It’s funny because Biden’s probably never worked on an assembly line or in a union shop. He’s spent his whole adult life in law firms or Senate offices. He didn’t go to Vietnam. But this man knows hard times and losing it all. No man should outlive his children, and he’s lost a wife, a daughter, and, just a few years ago, one of his sons. Everyone would understand if he just wanted to become a shut-in or drunk and never deal with anybody again. But he gets up every day and goes out and fights for what he believes in, because he believes he owes it to them — and the American people — to keep going. You tear up just thinking about it. You’re not sure you’d be able to do it yourself if you were in that situation.

7. More Big Jim: He’s thrilled that Gary Larson is bringing back his retired comic strip, “The Far Side.” From his Corner piece:

In the world of The Far Side, life is not fair, and things were usually taking the worst possible turn. Hal has that bummer of a birthmark. Curiosity kills the cats, right at their research stations. William Tell’s other son Warren gets lost to history. Professor Jenkins survives the shipwreck, only to be stuck on a desert island with his old nemesis. Teenage dinosaurs’ youthful experimentation has dire consequences. If it’s Monday morning, then you know the butler committed the murder but still that doesn’t help you at all.

This lens is twisted, macabre, and absolutely hilarious — depicting scenarios that all of those comparatively nice and happy dog and cat cartoons would never dare imagine. The Far Side upset more than its share of animal-rights activists; it was politically incorrect long before the term caught on.

8. Responding to a social-media uproar, Saturday Night Live honchos fires comic Shane Gillis over Chinese jokes. Kyle Smith ain’t laughing. From his piece:

Gillis’s bit was pretty awful. He shouldn’t have said what he said. It also wasn’t funny. On the other hand, firing someone is a drastic step, particularly for someone at this stage of his career. Gillis, had he made it to the SNL cast, would have overnight become one of the most recognizable comics in America. As it is he may find himself having difficulty getting work in the future. (Indeed one or two comedy clubs have reportedly already barred him, finding his material offensive.) The stakes here for this young man are considerable. Should his life be turned around over some random dumb jokes?

To his credit, the entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, “For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.” Yet SNL is now creating a precedent: Hey, comedians, in the course of your attempts to be funny, ever said anything offensive that was recorded? This is now, according to SNL, a fireable offense. Given that a good part of comedy is devoted to feeling your way around the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable to say out loud, and given that a lot of young people routinely say dumb stuff that gets recorded, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if people currently on the SNL team have said things that are offensive. If I were a comedian on SNL or anywhere else, I’d be nervous — unless I had reached the level of Bill Burr or Ricky Gervais or Dave Chappelle, none of whom needs an employer to approve their thoughts.

SNL didn’t fire Gillis right away, which made me think the show was going to do the wise thing and not set this new standard, but here we are. Far wiser, I think, would have been for SNL to open the season with a sketch in which Gillis and his offensive comments on Chinese people were made the butt of the joke.

9. More Kyle: He explores the true reason for the new smears against Justice Kavanaugh. From his analysis:

The hope of the Democratic party and most of the media is to delegitimize Brett Kavanaugh and hence any Supreme Court decision in which he joins a 5–4 majority. The ground is being laid to make the case that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in such a manner, that decision would exist under a cloud. It’s a desperation move: The Democrats and their media allies, the Times and The New Yorker very much included, are envisioning some extralegal or extra-constitutional maneuvers to stop Roe from being overturned.

Most people can’t be bothered to master the details of a complicated news story. Most people can’t be bothered to make a serious study of how each allegation against Kavanaugh made by partisan Democrats played out, and ultimately was unsubstantiated. The Times, The New Yorker and other outlets have succeeded in creating a miasma of doubt around Kavanaugh. Should Roe be overturned, the Times will enthusiastically support the resulting melee — marchers, protesters, mobs howling in the street. It will insinuate that the ravings of the mob, not the duly lawful and constitutional process that resulted in the seating of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, are the ones that carry true legitimacy.

10. Jay Nordlinger wants us to focus attention on one man in Red China. From his piece:

The Chinese state is committing monstrous crimes against the Uyghur minority. So monstrous are these crimes, it can be hard to take it all in. To focus the mind. The state has rounded up something like 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities and put them into internment camps, or reeducation camps, or concentration camps, or whatever you choose to call them. Many have been tortured to death.

I wrote a piece about the general issue last year (a piece that, while general, cites individual cases).

Here and now, I would like to call attention to one man. Stalin is reputed to have said, “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.” Sakharov disliked talking about human rights in general. (His widow, Yelena Bonner, told me this.) He needed to talk about individuals and their predicaments.

11. Even More Kyle: What’s getting in the way of Brad Pitt making good movies, says Kyle Smith after he checked out Ad Astra, is Brad Pitt’s ego. From the review:

Ad Astra (“to the stars”) is a semi-silly low-serotonin remake of Apocalypse Now in space. A major difference is that Apocalypse Now was a director’s movie. This one, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B, is an actor’s movie. Guess which actor comes off amazing in it?

Another difference is that Apocalypse Now was a great movie. Ad Astra is merely watchable. Pitt has good instincts for scripts, but his thirst for roles that show him to be a completely implacably awesomely omni-capable hero is limiting him. In World War Z, after a sudden outbreak of sprinting zombies, he not only knew exactly what to do, but he wasn’t even surprised. In this one, he’s a pilot-soldier-spy on a mission to save the universe. He’s onscreen virtually every moment. Nobody else gets more than about two pages of dialogue, even the woman who occupies the center of his thoughts. All we know about her is that she’s Liv Tyler. She doesn’t get to talk, she doesn’t get to do anything, she doesn’t have any characteristics, she’s just His Woman. You might as well have called the film Brad Astra.

I somewhat enjoyed it as an experience, mostly because of the rich atmosphere — immaculate, detailed production design by Kevin Thompson, eye-popping photography by the cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Writer-director James Gray, whose habit it is to make prestige films that aren’t very good (We Own the Night, The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z) has imagined a near-future in which man is becoming increasingly comfortable with living away from Earth but also stricken by a hollow realization that nothing out there is going to fix what’s wrong with us. The moon is so thoroughly colonized that it’s practically become a Disney property — Year After Tomorrowland. Is outer space ultimately just another place for man to trash with his bad habits?

12. Robert Zubrin explains the brave new autonomous world where AI and robotics and drones all mix and mingle to undergird tyranny. From the outset of his piece:

In the fall of 1989, the peoples of Eastern Europe rose up against their Communist oppressors. The tyrants ruling these nations had no moral compunction about shooting their subjects down, but fortunately, they couldn’t count on their armed forces to do it. So the Iron Curtain fell, and two years later, even the mighty Soviet Union was brought down when the Red Army, sent into Moscow, refused the orders of those attempting to brutally reinstate Stalinist rule.

But imagine what might have occurred had those soldiers been not human beings but robots, lacking in any sympathy or humanity, ready, willing, and able to reliably massacre anyone the authorities chose to be their targets.

This is the threat posed by the emerging technology known as “autonomous weapons.”

For decades, science fiction has speculated on the theme of robot servants rising up to overwhelm their human masters. Such scenarios remain fantasy, because they require self-reproducing machines with a will to power and the ability and desire to cooperate with each other to carry off a grand collective design — which at this point, anyway, is still quite far-fetched. Instead what we have seen are drone weapons, most typically aircraft, under human command, executing reconnaissance and strike operations by remote control. The military advantages offered by such systems are obvious. Drone fighters, for example, cost much less than piloted fighters, can pull 20 g’s without blacking out, are utterly fearless, and can be sent on one-way missions, if necessary, without human loss. So we are sure to see more of them, and analogous systems developed for land and sea fighting.

13. Tom Duesterberg says the president’s heavy hand is imperiling the potential of his trade policy. From the beginning of his analysis:

After President Trump’s nearly three years in the White House, we can begin to decipher the general outlines of a trade strategy. While moving in the right direction, making up for years of inattention and complacency with regard to the abuse of global rules by China and others, the inconsistent and heavy-handed approach employed by the president threatens to undermine the open-trade-based global economic order and the robust growth of the American economy that has resulted from his more consistent tax, regulatory, and energy policies.

Indeed, the vacillation and unpredictability of Trump’s trade policy have raised economic uncertainty to its highest levels since the 2008 recession, which in turn has weakened investment, employment gains, and market confidence. Even though critics from Europe, former U.S. government officials, and card-carrying free-market purists pine for a return to some aspirational “liberal, rules-based order,” what is really needed is a much more determined and consistent critique of those countries most responsible for undermining the order that actually does reign, and a clearer concept of the importance of trade strategy to strengthening national security, including long-term economic security.

14. Armond White sees the new Mexican flick, Tattoo of Revenge, as a Millenia-challenging film-noir portrayal of the country’s spiritual crisis. From the beginning of his review:

At the end of Julián Hernández’s vigilante melodrama Tattoo of Revenge (Rencor Tatuado), a male heartthrob (Vicente Colmenares, played by Irving Peña), and an androgynous woman (Aída Cisneros, played by Diana Lein) come together in a passionate kiss. The symbolic merging of masculine and feminine romantic pursuits (continued from Hernández’s previous prize-winning films A Thousand Clouds of Peace, Broken Sky, Raging Sun, Raging Sky, I Am Happiness on Earth) is no mere happy ending. Its queerness represents a personalized triumph over the crime, deception, violence, and decadence roiling present-day Mexico. Tattoo of Revenge is an erotic thriller that challenges Millennial viewers with a moral and political subtext.

Hernández explores our contemporary nightmare by creating his own personal mythology: Film student Vicente is fascinated by a series of revenge attacks signed by the mysterious La Vengadora, who tattoos a large scorpion on the torsos of men accused of rape and then posts the humiliating images in the media. La Vengadora’s photos remind Vicente of avant-garde art by the radical feminist Aída Cisneros, who presumably committed suicide after being brutalized. Cisneros’s legend is exploited by talk-radio charlatan Divinidad Martínez (Itatí Cantoral), “The Sultry Voice” whose dabblings in occult superstition, broadcast on XEZ, captivate “every corner of Latin America.”

In this dizzying narrative, Hernández emulates and heightens the obsessive intensity of film noir. Tattoo of Revenge riffs, specifically, on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — as if that grotesque but popular franchise was rebooted by a conscientious art filmmaker. Vicente’s investigation (“It’s all blurry, but it’s as absurd as my life. Nobody understands their own life anyway”) plays alongside Aída’s secret missions. Deep, glowing black-and-white procedural imagery (seen in old-fashioned slide-projection frames) alternate with scenes of imagined guilt and desire in emotionally accented hues, plus full-color flashbacks.

15. Michael Brendan Dougherty thinks Jeremy Corbin is stepping in stinking absurdity with Labour’s new (incoherent!) Brexit policy. From his piece:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has treated the Brexit party as an existential threat to his Tories. When 21 members of his own party voted against his ability to threaten a no-deal Brexit in negotiations with Brussels, he expelled them from the party. Farage called it an act of leadership.

Corbyn feels less free to swat away the Lib Dems. He still insists on trying to chart a middle path that satisfies both Labour’s Brexiteers and its Remainers, and he’s making himself and the party look ridiculous in the process. Corbyn’s policy is that, if elected, he would begin renegotiating a softened Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU, perhaps considering a customs union, that he claims would be much better than the current one, or anything Johnson can put together. Once he got 27 nations of the EU to agree to this, he would turn around and hold another divisive national referendum, giving the people a final say on it. The two options would be the Corbyn “Remain Lite” deal or simply remaining in the European Union. Corbyn wouldn’t campaign either way, and likely wouldn’t oblige his party to campaign for the deal that he’d negotiated on their behalf.

This is a stinking absurdity too crazy even for the Europeanists. Foreign leaders and allies don’t want to waste time negotiating a deal with a government when that government isn’t interested in wholeheartedly supporting or implementing it.

16. Bless Me Father for I Have Strawed: As we veer ever closer to the USSR circa 1930s, John Hirschauer checks out NBC’s appeal (no doubt made from electricity-chomping, air-conditioned offices in its massive 30 Rock skyscraper) for “climate confessions.” From his piece:

The network announced that it is soliciting “climate confessions,” admissions of public and private sins against the natural environment and the climate.  The sacrament, far from the ornate wooden lairs of Catholic lore, occurs on one sordidly animated webpage, where your transgressions against Gaea are plastered for all to see, in a communal ritual of denunciation. Atop the site is a promise to uphold the seal of the confessional, assuring penitents that their “confessions” will be kept anonymous.

“Tell us,” NBC insists with ecclesial verve, “Where do you fall short in preventing climate change?” It even provides an examination of conscience in miniature: “Do you blast the A/C? Throw out half your lunch? Grill a steak every week?”

Contrite sinners were all too happy to admit their faults: “I compost at home, but not at work,” reads the confession of one offender; “I want to install solar panels but am waiting for state/federal incentives to do so!” grieves another. Like any good religion, there were apostates; one heretic nailed this to the digital door: “I run my AC 24/7. I’m not going to sweat to appease this climate religion.” Another wrote, “I eat meat every day. And won’t stop, because it’s good.”

17. Mark Mills’ fascinating take on the new craze of “flight shaming” speaks Truth to Power . . . usage. Tree-hugging keyboard jockeys have got a lot of ’splainin’ to do. From the piece:

Perhaps a more useful way to compare obvious and “hidden” energy behaviors would be to invent an entirely new unit of measure. Let’s propose, in honor of flight-shamers, something we could call a personal jet-air-mile, or “p-JAM.” A single p-JAM is the energy used by one person flying one mile on a commercial jet. One can convert the energy used for any activity, be it driving or Web surfing, from British thermal units (BTUs) or gallons of gasoline into p-JAMs.

Using the p-JAM metric, we see that trains don’t yield much energy savings. Your personal fuel use riding a fully loaded train is about 0.7 p-JAMs each mile, or a mere 30 percent less than flying. Drive a mile alone in a typical SUV and you burn two p-JAMs per mile. Car-pooling with three passengers drops per person fuel use, on average, to 0.5 p-JAMs per mile.

Meanwhile, watch an HD movie on your mobile device and, on average, you are personally responsible for burning five p-JAMs every hour. That’s not the fault of the device in your hand; it’s your pro rata share of the energy use “hidden” in the hardware of the Internet’s infrastructure. The lion’s share of digital energy use happens in the “invisible” infrastructure, the networks and the thousands of datacenters that constitute the core of the World Wide Web. Each of those warehouse-scale computers burns through some 100,000 p-JAMs every hour. For perspective, consider that a typical Empire State Building–sized skyscraper sips just 3,000 p-JAMs an hour.

Did You Ever See a Great Blue Heron in Flight?

These birds aren’t to be found in my Connecticut neighborhood, but up in Maine last week (running away for a few days with Mrs. Yours Truly), while we were sitting on a little dock at sweet Thomas Pond, two of these beautiful creatures flew just overhead, squawking loudly, flapping those massive, majestic wings, startling the bejeebers out of us.

After the surprise, the glee subsiding, the bejeebers restored, I returned to the task at hand: reading the galleys of Rich Lowry’s forthcoming book, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free, which is coming to a store near you on November 5 (but use that link to find plenty of places where you can order it, as they say, “pre-pub”).

You want to know what the book is about? Here’s how Harper Collins’ expert copywriters describe what is going to be a big deal:

In The Case for Nationalism, Lowry explains how nationalism was central to the American Project. It fueled the American Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution. It preserved the country during the Civil War. It led to the expansion of the American nation’s territory and power, and eventually to our invaluable contribution to creating an international system of self-governing nations.

It’s time to recover a healthy American nationalism, and especially a cultural nationalism that insists on the assimilation of immigrants and that protects our history, civic rituals and traditions, which are under constant threat. At a time in which our nation is plagued by self-doubt and self-criticism, The Case for Nationalism offers a path for America to regain its national self-confidence and achieve continued greatness.

I took the passing herons as an omen: Our Fearless Leader is a bird lover. I returned to the galley and immediately spied a jewel of a sentence and thought: gotta share this in the WJ. If only to give the tiniest taste of Rich’s style and tone in this opus. Sharing:

Anti-nationalists especially went to avert their gaze from our conquest of the continent or even excoriate it. But if we had remained the coastal country we were in the 18th century, we would have been a significant, but not a world-historical, nation. Size matters. The Swiss have ideals. Does anyone give a damn?

No, but I’ll give a Damn! Now go order that copy.

And by the way, Rich’s latest column takes on the anti-vaping crusade. From his piece:

About 11 million adults vape, and some percentage of them are former smokers or would be smoking in the absence of e-cigarettes. A robust study in the United Kingdom found that vaping is twice as effective as other common nicotine replacements in getting smokers to quit. The flavors, according to surveys of users, are a big draw for smokers quitting traditional cigarettes.

It’s manifestly absurd to ban vaping products and leave cigarettes, including flavored cigarettes, on the market.

Another source of the current panic is that teen vaping is way up. In 2017, 11.7 percent of teens reported having vaped over the past 30 days; in 2019, 27.5 percent did. There’s nothing to suggest that this increase in vaping is encouraging real teen smoking, which continues to decline and has fallen to less than 6 percent.

Everyone would prefer that teens not develop a vaping habit, but this presents nothing close to the health issue presented by combustible cigarettes.

The Six

1. At City Journal, Rafael A. Mangual warns that mass decarceration — increasingly advocated by liberal politicians who yearn for America to match West European rates of hooesgow occupancy — will actually lead to an increase in violent crime. From his report:

Two things are clear from the data on recidivism and violent crime: the vast majority of prisoners who get released will go on to re-offend at some point; and even during the fastest period of prison growth in America, more than one-third of those convicted of violent felonies had an active criminal-justice status when the offense was committed (i.e., they were on probation, parole, or out pending the disposition of a prior case).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conducted a longitudinal study of recidivism among released state prisoners, following a cohort of more than 400,000 across 30 states for nine years. It found that 83% were rearrested for a new offense at least once during the nine-year period. This figure is significantly higher than the recidivism rate found in some previous studies that used a three-year benchmark. As the results of the BJS study make clear, a three-year benchmark period is inadequate. Only 68% of the prisoners in the BJS study had been arrested within three years. Indeed, “six in 10 (60%) of the 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period occurred from years 4 through 9,” and 47% of those not arrested in the first three years were arrested at some point thereafter, according to the study. Even 43% of the prisoners over the age of 60 were rearrested at some point.

It is worth noting that most offenses go unreported, undetected, and unpunished. That a released prisoner was not arrested within three years of his release does not necessarily mean that he did not commit any crimes.

2. Gatestone Institute’s Denis MacEoin reveals how the United Church of Christ has produced a toxic document that favors one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Go ahead. Guess which side. From his analysis:

Welcome to yet another skewed guide on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. After a vote to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in 2015, an organization affiliated with the UCC, the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN), published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs. Titled, “Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel,” and sub-headed “A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders”, this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination’s local conferences. Its Guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church’s leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.

The Guide most certainly does not favour either justice or peace in the Holy Land, as its contents show on every page. Some delegates, opposed to the resolution, identified its one-sidedness. Joanne Marchetto, of the Penn-Northeast Conference of the UCC, said during the 2015 vote that she was “uncomfortable with how this resolution is presented… This is a great injustice to the land, and I think we need to hear both sides of the argument.” The guide produced by the church regrettably rejects any call to hear more than the Palestinian narrative and anti-Israel arguments. At the end, it has a four-page list of resources, books, DVDs, websites, a reading list, educational material, alternative travel organizations, and films. Not one of the many items on this list is remotely pro-Israel. All are hard-line pro-Palestine activist materials and links. The UCCPIN Guide does not pay even lip service to the notions of fairness, dual narratives, or a need for mutual understanding. The pro-peace Jewish or Israeli voice is silenced, while Palestinian hate speech, genocidal threats, and endless terrorism do not, at any time, come in for criticism.

3. Williams College hosts a sci-tech symposium to which white contributors are explicitly not permitted. Brittany Slaughter at The College Fix has the details. From the story:

Part of the application process asked applicants to write a couple sentences proving themselves as a member of a “historically underrepresented group.” Yet the application also provides an equal employment opportunity statement that people from all backgrounds are welcome.

Chosen scholars will receive a $500 honorarium and be hosted by Williams College as they present their papers to the audience, organizers state, adding “we aim to create an inclusive, intellectually enriching experience for all involved, including the visiting speakers and the faculty and students of Williams.”

Williams College Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of Science and Technology Studies Laura Ephraim is the point of contact for the event. For the last three weeks she has ignored repeated phone calls and emails from The College Fix seeking comment on the event.

Williams College’s media affairs office and several faculty members in the Science and Technology Studies program at the school also ignored repeated requests for comment.

The only person at the college willing to return numerous requests for comment was an administrative assistant in Science and Technology Studies who said they were unsure who could help The College Fix with its questions.

4. At The American Conservative, Gilbert T. Sewall tells the sorry tale of Modesto, Calif., dystopia. From his piece:

Unemployment is high, but more to the point, many incoming Modesto residents are not looking for jobs, incapable of holding them. Too uncouth or troubled to be employable, an army of marginal itinerants—not exactly homeless but close, without any attachment to the locale—is content with Section 8 housing and family services. It’s a life of EBT and Medicaid, of getting by tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow.

McHenry Avenue cuts through the center of town. There’s an empty shopping mall with its anchor store boarded up and peeling. Down the street, a security guard in dark glasses with a serious pistol strapped to his leg holster is vaping outside the unmarked entrance to a turquoise warehouse building. This turns out to be Phenos, a big-box marijuana dispensary. Dozens of cars sit in its huge parking lot. They come and go day and night, Mercedes SUVs and wrecks, truckers and teenagers, everyone doping up. Uptown, the handsomely built and landscaped Planned Parenthood Modesto Health Center is the place to go for quickie abortions. Close by, the Emerald Tattoo parlor pitches Tattoo Financing No Money Down on a bright day-glow green sign.

Who pays for the dope, abortions, and tattoos? That’s often hard to determine. Inked, unexercised, pasty women with greasy ponytails range from plump to morbidly obese. Unkempt, bearded men flashing angry eyes dare anyone to mess with them. Modesto’s demi-monde comes in white and color, much of it covered in florid body tattoos that reify insane slogans, fantasies, and ideations. “Drugs, homeless, your shit being stolen, with sloppy drunken fights and even someone getting shot or stabbed,” is how one resident describes low-life Modesto.

5. At Commentary, Wilfred McClay takes on the New York Times’ “1619 Project” and finds the paper distorts American history. From his essay:

But to acknowledge that slavery and its effects have been woven deeply and indelibly into the fabric of American society, and will always be a part of the American story, is one thing. To say that they represent the predominant forces shaping American life down to the present—that is quite another.

There are two fundamental sets of questions, then, to be asked of the 1619 Project.

First, are its fundamental assertions plausible? Do they rest on a solid and uncontroversial scholarly basis? Is there an evidentiary basis at all for saying that “everything exceptional about American history” rests upon slavery?

The second set of questions involves what we are to make of the New York Times’ decision to take on this project in the way that it has. Is it the proper role of a journalistic organization, especially one as powerful as the Times, to promote and advocate for a particular interpretation of American history? Do such actions constitute responsible journalism? Do they contribute to the solution of our current problems through the introduction of honest, unflinching, and fair-minded consideration of the issues raised by the American experience with slavery?

Or are they doing something far less creditable, less balanced, and more polemical, using a distorted and one-sided account of our history to intervene in our current political wars, in ways that can only broaden and deepen those conflicts, and turn them into far worse forms of warfare?

The answer to the second set of questions will depend on what we conclude about the first set. And with them the Project seems to go astray almost immediately.

6. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera finds wisdom amongst the laughs as he contemplates comedian Dave Chappelle’s broadsides at wokeness. From the outset of his essay:

Dave Chappelle’s hilarious new Netflix special, Sticks & Stones, confirms him as this generation’s most famous and daring comic in America. He’s also therefore the most strangely positioned—a black liberal who has dedicated his career to mocking the piety of the wealthy white liberals who consider themselves arbiters of taste in popular culture.

This is the most important and obvious fact about Chappelle. He’s what Americans pride ourselves on, a rugged individualist, a man who doesn’t take his opinions either from mobs or elites. Why aren’t there more like him? Why don’t we call for more like him? Perhaps it’s because he’s too independent, famously willing to walk away from $50 million because he didn’t want his studio and audience to rule him. He’s what hardly any celebrity wants to be, since celebrity depends on flattering audiences, which requires conformism, following fashions—treating the latest moral prejudices as the eternal truths of revealed religion.

Of course, his business is comedy, not a morally enlightened debate, so expect vast, unquenchable resources of vulgarity in his work. But do not be deceived therefore that vulgarity is mindless or simply deleterious. Vulgarity is unavoidable in our pop culture, but Chappelle’s includes a strong moral-political argument, that vulgarity is truly closer to our nature than moral preening. His example suggests that people who try to make careers by stoking popular indignation are not as serious as the people who laugh at such pretensions.

Baseballery

Wearing my old Boston Braves lid, visions of The Bambino dance in the thick skull underneath — it was his last team after all. His first team was the Red Sox, and in his initial four seasons in Beantown (1914–1917) The Babe did nothing but pitch, compiling a 67–34 record and becoming one of baseball’s dominant southpaws: He led the AL in complete games in 1917, with 35, and the previous year led the league in shutouts (he had nine, and the humdinger of the lot came in a 13-inning August 16 contest at Fenway Park — he scattered eight hits in a 1–0 win against the great Walter Johnson). In his final two years in Boston, Ruth kept pitching (compiling a 22–12 record) while he developed into an everyday player and slugger (he led the Majors in home runs both seasons).

Of peculiar interest are the few times when Ruth, transformed into a slugger in pinstripes, took to the mound as a lark: In 15 seasons he pitched five times for the Yankees, and, amazingly, in each game earned a victory. His last effort came at Yankee Stadium on the final day of the 1933 season, as the second-place home team beat the Red Sox 6–5. Ruth took the complete-game win, the 93rd and last of his career, giving up 12 hits. In his penultimate performance, in 1930, again on the season’s last day, Ruth pitched another complete game against the Red Sox (playing at Braves Field), winning 9–3 as he scattered 11 hits and struck out three.

1n 1921, Ruth pitched twice for the Yanks, and registered two victories, although the second one was an embarrassment: Coming into the game (a 7–6 win against the Athletics on October 1) in the eighth inning, sporting a 6–0 lead, The Sultan of Swat proceeded to give up six runs. The tie game went into the bottom of the 11th, when the Yanks scored and earned Ruth, still on the mound, his W. The previous year, 1920, in his first appearance as a pitcher for the Yankees, he started a June 1 game at the Polo Grounds against the Senators and left after four innings with the Yanks commanding a 12–2 lead (they would prevail 14–7).

Those five Yankee wins piggybacked on Ruth’s final four 1919 appearances on the mound for the Red Sox — he won three and saved another — giving him a career-ending eight-game winning streak, which was strung out over 14 years.

Very cool regarding Ruth’s last appearance as a pitcher: Playing right field that day for the Sox was Joe Judge, who had first faced Ruth in 1915 as a rookie for the Senators (he went 1-for-3 as Washington beat Boston, with Ruth pitching in relief for loser Smokey Joe Wood). In that final game, he went 0-for-2 with a walk against Ruth. And Judge was also in the lineup in Ruth’s first pitching appearance as a Yankee (Judge went 0-for-1 with a walk against the Bambino).

A Dios

Away in Maine, myself and her — or is it “they” or “them”? . . . Let’s go with “The Better Half” — saw the Milky Way, perceptible but faint thanks to a blazing, almost-full moon. The Milky Way is, again, not something seen in the home neighborhood. So the night was special.

No matter the sky views, the Creator deserves our constant praise, but sometimes the glory of it all, the immensity of it all, best seen on clear cool nights in the heavens above, makes the heart leap with joy. Thank you kindly, oh Ancient of Days, for allowing us to see this sliver of what You have wrought.

God’s Blessings on You and All You Love, May His Light Shine on All,

Jack Fowler, who can be reached by amateur and real astronomers at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Coded messages . . .  to Sarah and Tim, kudos and God’s blessings and graces upon you, . . . to Shaven Scotty, don’t blow it — you had better be funny, . . . and to the Mayor of Murray Hill, love you.

National Review

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

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

Dear Weekend Jolters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseballery

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Dios

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

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

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

National Review

Boris, Bad? Enough!

Dear Weekend Jolter,

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

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

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

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

The people of this country will have to choose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorials

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

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

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

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

Par-teee!

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

Half a Score and Seven Links Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This reflects the political needle Democrats cannot thread.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam was a great conveyor belt of slavery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Par-two-tee!

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

And, Par-threee!

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

The Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseballery

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

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

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

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

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

A Dios

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

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

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

National Review

Bricka Bracka Firecracka Sis Boom Bah!

Dear Weekend Joltarian,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorials

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerald Ford (R), 1976: Lost

Popular vote: 48.0 percent (lost by 2.07 percent)

Electoral vote: 240–297 (44.6 percent)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uh-huh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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