Dear Weekend Jolter,
We thank the Creator for the innate and undeniable efficiency of government! As this missive is typed some 35 million vaccines have been administered in the U.S; and per our Jim Geraghty — please do read his important piece of reporting — only 20 million doses are missing. That’s all. Not a bad percentage for screwing up!
What else? Again per Jim: Tens of millions of doses are just sitting there in a warehouse. Don’t rush Uncle Sam — in lockdown we’re keeping busy reading reports about new mutant strains. And of course reading the obituaries (lots to read there).
What else? The new Capital Record podcast has only chalked up its third episode, but Your Humble Correspondent suggests you give a listen, as David Bahnsen and author Jerry Bowyer discuss Jesus-is-a-Socialist malarkey. It’s quite good.
What else else? The deadline for National Review Institute’s acclaimed “Burke-to-Buckley” Program spring sessions (in Philly and NYC) is February 10th, so chop chop with the applications. If you’re geographically challenged, you may know a son, daughter, grandchild, whatever, who would find this the WFBees knees, so make with the PDQ recommendations. Here’s where Your Aggravating Pitchman explained the whole kit and kaboodle last week. Or cut out the middleman and head straight to the appropriate NRI webpage, right here.
And then, before the meat and potatoes are served, there is this fat and tasty appetizer, courtesy of Armond White, he of the always brilliant pen, who here reflects on the reflecting-on the death of the great actress, Cicely Tyson. His point: Her death and her legacy have been exploited by many with a superimposing agenda, many ignorant of her artistry and true accomplishments. It’s such a great bit of cultural analysis that this missive’s author, claiming a point of personal privilege, seeks to draw your attention to it from the near-outset. From the beginning of Armond’s piece:
The late Cicely Tyson is getting the Chadwick Boseman treatment. Mainstream media bow to her memory with overstated obits and one piddling night of two films on Turner Classic Movies. All this, pretending to respect the artistry of her 60-year-plus career, simply in order to make Tyson an exemplar of Black Lives Matter significance.
Dark, lovely, and clearly intelligent, Tyson was certainly an extraordinary figure during the late 20th century, but like other black American performers who personified the social advances of that time, her reach into the millennium saw her achievements used as political fodder by media, politicians, and a new generation that was unaware of the qualities that defined Tyson’s exceptionalism. Tyson’s ageless beauty (she was nearly 50 when she made her breakthrough in Sounder) recalls how Celia Johnson portrayed average women with extraordinary forthrightness.
Racial esteem recently has degraded into political necromancy. Once a black cultural figure passes, they get more love dead than when alive. (The ultimate example is the 2018 Aretha Franklin funeral that became a Democratic Party platform.) Black artists who’ve enriched the culture are fitted with the same death masks as lawbreakers Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and George Floyd — a form of honor peculiar to our suspiciously politicized era. When we no longer learn from artistry, its value gets twisted into outlawry.
Please do read the entire piece. And now, as promised (maybe even as feared) is another Weekend Jolt.
NAME, RANK, AND LINK
Pradheep J. Shanker: Andrew Cuomo Was a Villain All Along
Rich Lowry: Don’t Quit on the GOP
Michael Brendan Dougherty: Populism Driven by Errors, Arrogance and Corruption
John Yoo and Robert Delahunty: The Impeachment Trial’s Stacked Deck
Therese Shaheen: Don’t Trust Beijing, Because You Can’t Verify
Doug Bandow: China’s Terrifying Returns to Maoism
Madeleine Kearns: Scotland’s Government Slashes Away at Liberty
Dalibor Rohac and Ivana Stradner: Germany’s Armin Laschet Is Bad News for Biden Administration
Cameron Hilditch: European Union Disgraced, Brexit Vindicated in Vaccine Blockade Dispute
More Cameron: Honest Abe Canceled by Dishonest School Board
Alexandra DeSanctis: What the Media Won’t Tell Us about Abortion
Kaj Relwof: Dark-Money — Democrats’ Self-Defeating Crusade
Andy Pudzer finds an old motive that works: COVID-19 Vaccines: Profit-Seeking Businesses Developed and Delivered
Tate Williams explores the POTUS’s fantasies: Biden Administration Regulations Undermine Wind Energy
Alexander William Salter reviews advances beyond the stratosphere: Space Policy & Private Sector: Trump Administration Made Real Progress
Jarrett Skorup on those who cut off the ladder’s first rung: Minimum-Wage Hikes Will Mean Fewer Entry-Level Jobs
Veronique de Rugy sees little return: Coronavirus Stimulus Overkill
From the February 22, 2021 Issue of National Review
David Harsanyi takes on a ghoulish governor: COVID Cuomo’s Deadly Nursing Home Mistake
Charles C.W. Cooke records the consequence of our virtue dearth: Our Illiberal Moment
Joseph Epstein writes an obituary: What Killed Humor?
Brian Streeter explains the urban fed-ups: Looking at Trump’s Electoral Performance in Big Cities
LINKS BUFFED UP WITH EXCEPTIONAL EXCERPTS
Articles, and Plenty of Them
1. It may be news to most of the MSM, but as Pradheep J. Shanker explains, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a pandemic-politicizing villain from nearly the outset. From the article:
This was likely the worst possible decision Cuomo could have made. First, although many feared the hospitals would be overwhelmed, field hospitals and military-hospital ships quickly became available, but were underutilized. As for COVID itself, we now know that patients needed around ten days to be totally free of the virus. Furthermore, some patients who were never symptomatic were nonetheless infectious, and they were still returned to nursing-home facilities. There, they could quietly infect other patients and staff. We may never know the true number of people who were infected, or even died, from the governor’s orders.
This too, could have been excused, if Andrew Cuomo had simply been forthcoming and admitted it was a mistake. But if he had done that, he wouldn’t be Andrew Cuomo. In July, his own New York State Health Department report denied any wrongdoing relating to its March 25 order that homes be forced to accept COVID-positive patients — though 323 facilities had no reported infections until they took in such patients from hospitals. Even worse, this report still didn’t provide statewide data on the matter. The report was a clear attempt to hide data and whitewash the repercussions of Cuomo’s ill-considered order. This has led to outside groups, such as the Empire Center for Public Policy, to file lawsuits demanding the Health Department release these data.
The simple reality is that the governor’s orders led to more deaths. How many can be argued, and likely will be an area of vigorous debate in public-health-policy academic circles for decades to come. But Cuomo then compounded his mistake by purposefully lying and deceiving the public about it, all the while having the machinery of the New York state government cover for him as well.
2. In the face of claims of its death and certain demise, Our Esteemed Editor, Mr. Lowry, makes the case for the Grand Old Party’s future. From the piece:
There will inevitably be an overwhelming controversy in the Biden administration or a crisis that moves us beyond the politics of the Trump presidency and the immediate aftermath.
New issues will emerge, and there are plenty of talented, ambitious Republican politicians who think they are better suited to win a presidential election and serve as president than Donald Trump 2.0. The incentives are for them to slipstream behind Trump for now, but that won’t always be true.
The temptation to splinter from the GOP might be alluring to elements of both the populists and the Republican traditionalists, but this is a dead end.
The Republican Party is the only plausible electoral vehicle for any sort of right-of-center politics in America. It is worth fighting over, and it will be.
That struggle is sure to be toxic and unpredictable — except for the fact that at the end of the day the Grand Old Party will still be standing.
3. Populism is not exiting the room, writes Michael Brendan Dougherty. From the article:
If the virus is stomped out by summer, though, populist energy could ebb substantially and normal life might return in a giddy rush as we all race back to entertainments and head toward full employment once again. The Fed’s book may be a mess, but stocks are high, and household balance sheets tell us that spending and splurging are on the way.
But I doubt that populism is going away for long.
First, because there is always a populist streak in American life. We are a people who routinely cook up new religions, quack cures, and strange theories. Our modern media just make these more visible. But what’s mainly driving populist energy today are the errors, arrogance, corruption, and intransigence of our leaders.
The continued breakup of traditional institutions and the segmentation of news media into enterprises that focus on serving a dedicated customer base rather than “the public” have driven trust in the media to an all-time low. Not a surprise when all media are seen as a commercial scam, led by a cliquish, self-protecting bevy of insiders. Journalists are becoming the new lawyers — despised by the public for serving themselves even before their customers.
4. John Yoo and Robert Delahunty find that the setup for Donald Trump’s second Impeachment is missing a fair chance. From the analysis:
As the Senate launches its second impeachment trial of Donald Trump next week, its members must confront the deep unfairness of the proceedings.
The Senate rashly claimed jurisdiction over a former president, fumbled on the selection of a presiding judge, and ignored the constitutional — not political — standards that should prevail. Further, it has given Trump’s depleted legal team little time or means to present a full defense — the only guarantee that the American people will accept the verdict as fair. Trump’s lawyers will have to accept these unfair conditions, though might conceivably be able to appeal directly to the federal courts to stop a show trial (more on that later).
In part, of course, Trump has only himself to blame. He presented challenges to the 2020 election beyond all reason, he stoked an angry mob on the day that Congress gathered to count the electoral votes, and he did not call on law enforcement and the military to protect the Capitol until too late. He has compounded the problems by parting ways with his first defense team less than a week ago and allegedly insisting that his lawyers focus on election fraud, rather than the unconstitutionality of trying an ex-officer. Such chaos might make good fodder for the Mar-a-Lago reboot of The Apprentice, but it only makes his defense all the more difficult.
Nevertheless, the Senate has ignored the constitutional limits on its powers and refused to follow principles of fairness in the trial. As we have argued earlier, the constitutional text — read in light of the understanding held by the Framers — does not appear to permit the trial of executive officers after their terms have ended. If the Framers had wanted to provide for the Senate trial of an impeached former president, they could have said so explicitly, as did several state constitutions of the Founding period. Days ago, 45 senators supported proceeding with a losing motion by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to dismiss the impeachment on this constitutional ground alone.
5. Therese Shaheen explains that bipartisan China hands are admitting that decades of Ameircan daydreaming policy has been a flop. From the article:
The hope that China, as it developed economically, would glide into democratic-capitalist norms guided the policy of every U.S. administration since President Carter granted U.S. diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979. The approach was based on the belief that Deng Xiaoping, who had consolidated his power by 1978, at heart was a market-driven reformer and that political liberalization would follow market liberalization.
That has not happened. That this approach was erroneous is now accepted by Democrats and Republicans, by elected officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and by U.S. allies across Asia and Europe.
Even more remarkable than the acknowledgement that the policy was wrong — something policy-makers and politicians don’t like to admit, even in hindsight — is the increasingly popular view that not only were assumptions about Communist China and regime intent wrong, but also that there was enough evidence for successive administrations after Carter’s to have known at the time that they were on the wrong track.
There were certainly American analysts and policy-makers whose service in earlier administrations reflected a more accurate assessment of Beijing’s true intentions. But the typical reaction to that minority view tended to be derision at the “failure” of those analysts to understand the more nuanced, artful statecraft of the people executing the broader policy.
6. Doug Bandow repeats what’s worth repeating: Red China’s return to Maoism is terrifying. From the article:
The economy remains a socialist-market hybrid, while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made little effort to limit personal autonomy except where politics intrudes. However, just a hint of ideological disobedience now brings down the full weight of a vast domestic-security regime that spends more money than the People’s Liberation Army.
There are no easy policy answers for Washington. Repression is an essential part of today’s Chinese political system. It’s how current officials, starting at the top with Xi Jinping, retain their power, perquisites, wealth, status, and everything else that sets them apart from normal people. If there is an existential interest for the Chinese state, it is maintaining repression. The regime isn’t going to yield, irrespective of sanction, since its elites prefer power to anything else.
Violations of human rights are the norm in the PRC. In practice, civil liberties, free speech, and political freedom simply don’t exist there. China has essentially returned to the era of Mao Zedong, one of the CCP’s founders, who emerged atop the party after unceasingly brutal power struggles that shaped the party’s evolution.
The rungs on the CCP ladder were slippery indeed, as many once-dominant figures missed a step, plunging into the political netherworld below. Even Mao’s rise was sometimes interrupted. But he mixed determination, skill, and ruthlessness and ultimately outshone his rivals. He famously announced the creation of the People’s Republic of China in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949, and was responsible for virtually every brutal step taken by the CCP in its early years.
7. Fred Fleitz recommends how the Biden Administration needs to fix the Iran nuke deal. From the analysis:
First, Iran has never been in compliance with the JCPOA. Israel proved massive Iranian violations of the agreement in 2018, when it revealed documents stolen from Iran’s “nuclear archive.”
Second, even if Iran had been complying with the JCPOA, the deal would still be fatally flawed, since it allowed Iran to continue nuclear-weapons-related work — including uranium enrichment — for as long as it remained in effect. We know from plentiful past experience that Iran will often use holes in such agreements to advance parts of its nuclear-weapons-program that they don’t cover, such as warhead-design work. And we know from both previous IAEA reports and the Israeli-retrieved archives that such warhead-design work has been done since the JCPOA was signed, and never fully accounted for as the deal requires.
Finally, Iranian officials have made clear that they will never agree to negotiate the kind of follow-up, improved nuclear agreement Biden seeks.
8. Scotland considers draconian “hate crime” legislation. Madeleine Kearns considers the endgame for liberty. From the article:
As the Scottish Police Federation neatly summed up last year: “The bill would move even further from policing and criminalizing of deeds and acts to the potential policing of what people think or feel, as well as the criminalization of what is said in private.” Free to Disagree — a Scottish free-speech campaign representing writers and academics, atheists and Christians, liberals and conservatives alike — warned that their concerns are “wholly unresolved” after the government’s latest intervention.
Given that Scotland (and, indeed, the governing Scottish National Party) is in the midst of a heated debate about whether to rewrite sex-based rights and protections for women to include men who present as women, it is not reassuring that one side might be breaking the law merely for articulating its argument in strong and uncompromising terms. Just days before the committee met and decided to abandon the free speech amendments, the first minister posted a video on Twitter lamenting the rise of “transphobia” within the party, and an outspoken critic of transgender activism, Joanna Cherry, was sacked from the SNP’s Westminster front bench.
9. Globaloney, Cut Thick: Itxu Díaz finds the elites’ preening at Davos exposes a “vast disconnect between people’s desperate needs and their leaders’ preposterous prescriptions.” From the essay:
Here’s what he finds out, at a glance, are the priorities of the Davos divas, according to the information provided by TV news: combating carbon emissions (he tells me that the closest thing he has to carbon emissions in the bar right now is the tonic water); war against a cyber pandemic (he shrugs); elimination of borders and total globalization (thanks to which, EU countries don’t have vaccines and the U.K. does, he comments); and a CEOs’ alliance on climate change (this doesn’t look like it will make his rent any cheaper); along with the fight against systemic racism and more. The icing on the cake: In Davos, they present and applaud a study that claims compulsory confinement and enclosures have generated positive changes in about 80 percent of people. I imagine they are referring to 80 percent of the survivors.
Hardly a word about the terrible economic and psychological situation in which millions of people find themselves. Or about the reduction of individual freedoms because of the pandemic. Or about the massive bankruptcies. Or on how to accelerate vaccination worldwide. And certainly not a word condemning China for having concealed the disease or the World Health Organization for its complicity with the Chinese regime in the deceptions that led to the pandemic. Nothing. All that the world’s leaders are going to offer my friend and all of us who, in one way or another, are suffering the terrible consequences of the pandemic beyond the purely health-related are: green energy, all the -isms, more taxes, and a lot of “resilience,” whatever that means. The title of the meeting doesn’t leave much doubt about the intentions of world leaders either: “The Great Reset.” The problem with this ruling elite is that they have let Big Tech convince them that we work the same as one of Bill Gates’ damn blue screens — that we are mere machines which can be shut down and then rebooted with a simple Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
10. Jimmy Quinn reports on how Pakistan is exporting its religious-bigotry policy to the U.S. From the beginning of the piece:
For decades, the government of Pakistan has relentlessly persecuted the members of the messianic Muslim Ahmadiyya sect within Pakistani borders. Although Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country, its constitution states that Ahmadi Muslims are non-Muslims, and blasphemy laws that criminalize public displays of worship of the Ahmadi faith empower courts to hand down the death penalty. U.S. officials have long spoken out against such laws, and since 2018 the State Department has added the country to its “countries of particular concern” list, comprising the world’s worst opponents of human rights.
“Despite repeated calls from the international community for Pakistan to abolish their antiquated blasphemy laws, peaceful groups like the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continue to be subjected to them,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the co-chair of the Congressional Ahmadiyya Caucus and the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement. “No individual should ever be targeted, penalized, or attacked because of their religious beliefs — Pakistan must take meaningful steps to protect the rights of religious minorities.”
Instead, in recent months, Pakistan has stepped up its campaign of repression against the Ahmadis, attempting for the first time to enforce its notoriously draconian blasphemy laws on U.S. soil.
11. Dalibor Rohac and Ivana Stradner warn Biden: He’s got a Putin-pandering problem in Berlin. From the piece:
Following nearly two decades of Angela Merkel’s leadership, Armin Laschet, premier of Germany’s most populous state, Nordrhein-Westfalen, was elected on January 16 as the new leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Barring large swings in polls before the parliamentary election in September, Laschet is on track to become Germany’s next chancellor.
That is bad news for efforts to repair the U.S.–EU relationship. The presence of Laschet at the helm of Europe’s largest economy would give a boost for those in Europe who are reluctant to take their obligations within NATO seriously and would risk tethering the EU closer to both China and Russia.
Much as Biden and Laschet are likely to see eye-to-eye on climate change and other “multilateral” issues, the presumptive German chancellor is a man of little patience with those who see the promotion of democratic values as integral to foreign policy. As such, he is likely to frustrate U.S.-led efforts to hold Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and other dictators accountable for their domestic and international practices.
For one, Laschet has a long record of pandering to Putin, or “Putin-Verstehen” as the German neologism goes. Unlike Merkel and other European figures, Laschet hesitated to condemn the recent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. More broadly, he believes that “while drawing attention to violations of human rights or developments in democracy that we regard as undesirable, we should refrain from itemizing what is going on in Russia and passing didactic judgment on each individual item.” The reason? “We need Russia for many issues in the world” — not least climate change since a Paris Accord without Russia would be only “worth half as much.”
12. The EU bureaucrats (such management and logistics experts, no?) bigly bungle COVID vaccinations, reports Cameron Hilditch. From the piece:
The whole case for the EU was that the pallid globalized benevolence of a senescent Bonapartist technocracy would be a greater boon to the human race than the liberal democratic nation-state. But the nimble regulatory freedom of a post-Brexit U.K. and the contrasting sclerosis of the emergent European superstate has brought about a state of affairs wherein thousands of vulnerable people are alive in Great Britain who would be dead if they lived on the Continent. The EU’s “founding fathers” — men like Altiero Spinelli and Jean Monnet, who sought to rescue the world from democracy — would have been appalled.
The Commission has tried to shift the blame for Europe’s vaccination failures onto the drug companies themselves. Von der Leyen pointed her finger last week at the technical problems AstraZeneca has had with the vaccine yields in their European production facilities. “The companies must deliver,” she said. When asked about Von der Leyen’s complaints during an interview with the Italian newspaper La Republica, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot was somewhat bemused. He noted that the U.K., the U.S., and Australia had all faced similar issues with yield. But “the U.K. contract was signed three months before the EU contract,” he said, “so with the UK we have had an extra three months to fix all the glitches we have experienced.” In other words, the European Union has no one to blame but itself. Von der Leyen’s decision to pause Europe’s COVID response for three whole months so as to turn it into a cosmetic staging post on the road to a United States of Europe is what is daily costing Europeans their lives.
The EU’s disastrous response to COVID and its ill-advised but short-lived flirtation with a medical blockade should, perhaps, be taken as a providential warning to those of us who’ve recoiled in horror at the populist turn in American politics. The European Union is an experiment in anti-populism. Its institutions were conceived and constructed to insulate those who wield political power from the will of popular majorities to the greatest extent possible in the modern world. If populism were the source of our present discontents, we should expect the EU to look like a shining city on a hill. But it’s clear that these people haven’t the faintest, foggiest clue what on earth they’re doing. In the last analysis, there’s simply no important political question in today’s world to which the European Union is the answer.
13. More Cameron: He weighs in on the San Francisco school board’s decision to cancel Abe Lincoln. From the essay:
When we cast our minds back to the 1850s and examine the emerging anti-slavery coalition in the United States, we discover that this coalition was extremely fragile. Millions of low-wage subsistence workers who had immigrated during that decade from Europe, and others who preceded them, made up the bulk of popular opposition to slavery.
Their motives for doing so, however, were practical rather than altruistic. In fact, most of these agricultural workers hated slaves just as much as they hated slavery. They opposed the institution in the South because the existence of slavery undercut their own job prospects. Why would southern landowners pay them wages to work in the fields when they had free labor available? However, these voters were also horrified at the idea of unilateral emancipation. They feared that freed slaves would begin migrating to the North and West and undercut white laborers by agreeing to work for lower wages.
Leading this coalition was, as one might imagine, a bit of a nightmare. The only anti-slavery policy that could garner any broad-based electoral support was one that restricted slavery to the states in which it already existed without abolishing it outright. This was the policy that Abraham Lincoln pursued during the 1850s and for most of his presidency. His idea was to put a cordon around slavery and to keep adding free states to the Union until a constitutional amendment could be ratified that would enforce abolition across the entirety of the nation.
Those who criticize Lincoln for failing to publicly pursue abolition from his earliest days in public life prove nothing but their own ignorance of the political context in which he was operating. He took the only course of public action that had any chance of marrying principle and prudence in such a way that would bring liberty to birth as the fruit of their union.
14. Rich Lowry reflects on Joe Biden’s very left-wing start. From the piece:
Biden’s obsession with fighting climate change speaks of an overwhelming hostility to fossil fuels that is something new. He has proposed a sweeping enforcement-never amnesty for more than 10 million illegal immigrants that makes past failed “comprehensive immigration bills” look modest by comparison. And his culture-war executive orders extend not just to abortion, where other Democratic presidents have signed executive orders quickly as well, but to transgender causes.
There will also be a continual focus on what Biden’s chief-of-staff calls “a racial equity crisis,” which will be a warrant for new, more aggressive identity politics.
The lesson is that the most important thing that any movement can do is influence the direction of a political party. If the center of gravity of a party moves, the entire establishment moves with it. So it is that Joe Biden, who has never been woke himself, is attempting to deliver victories to the left wing of his party that would have been almost unimaginable eight or twelve years ago — and do it quickly.
15. Zaid Jilani reports on how reducing the size in police forces results in more crime. Seems kind of obvious, if you’re not a leftist. From the article:
The role of policing in the United States is being hotly debated, with many liberal activists calling for reductions in police funding. Although advocates of defunding the police have failed to win over the general public, the political climate in certain Democratic-leaning cities, combined with the budget constraints imposed by COVID-19, has already succeeded in thinning the ranks of police departments in some parts of the country.
In Minneapolis, the epicenter of last year’s protests and riots, over 100 officers left the ranks of the city’s police, “more than double the number in a typical year.” In Seattle, another hub of protests last year, the level of police attrition is “unprecedented.”
The long-term impact of police reductions in these specific cities is at this point unclear. However, a study published in December in Justice Evaluation Journal offers some evidence that rapidly depleting the ranks of a city’s police force can in some circumstances have deadly consequences.
16. There’s plenty the MSM won’t tell Americans about the reality of abortion-on-demand. Alexander DeSanctis provides a glimpse. From the beginning of her article:
In the fall of 2019, the family of deceased abortionist Ulrich George Klopfer made a ghastly discovery. Cleaning out his Illinois home after his death, they found the medically preserved remains of more than 2,200 unborn children — evidently victims of his decades-long career performing tens of thousands of abortions, which had earned him a reputation as the most prolific abortionist in Indiana.
Later, they uncovered a stash of 165 fetal body parts hidden away in the trunk of one of Klopfer’s cars. Despite a subsequent law-enforcement investigation, we still don’t know the abortionist’s motivation for having kept these grisly trophies; whatever disturbed reasons he may have had for collecting them went with him to his grave.
Perhaps even more striking than the lack of clarity about this horrific discovery was the relative lack of public curiosity about it. Klopfer’s stockpile of corpses received relatively little national attention immediately after local news broke the story, and the entire event passed in and out of the mainstream news cycle in less than a week.
Aside from an opinion article by columnist Ross Douthat, the New York Times published just one brief report the day the news became public. Over the following week, a few major news outlets offered one or two brief articles outlining the basic facts of what had happened, but the bulk of ongoing interest and coverage came from local journalists. Hardly any reporters asked for comment on the matter from politicians, least of all Democrats who support unlimited legal abortion.
17. More MBD: The decline of the Family Sunday Dinner is bemoaned. From the reflection:
About a year ago, I began thinking about establishing a more regular Sunday dinner in our home. For us and for company. At the time it was probably asking for too much. The kids are still so young that any and every mealtime can be demanding. Still, the thought was on my mind because it was a year ago that we were finally settling into a place with a proper dining room.
One month after the dinner table made its way from storage into the dining room, the whole world shut down in a panic. It sounds so stupid now, but for a time we weren’t even letting cardboard boxes into our house without bleach-wiping them. It took almost a month before we had two friends over for socially distanced drinks in our front yard.
Though I already knew it by instinct, I learned the hard way this year that the home doesn’t function well as an island in which one nuclear family is marooned. The relationships in a nuclear family are given rest and revivified by our neighbors and extended family. Cousins, aunts, godparents, church friends, and old friends are all irreducibly unique humans themselves. And each tend to bring out something unique in us when they are present, which causes the people in our own households to see us in a different light. In essence, they help us to escape our own narrowness.
Company is also so good for our children. COVID life has been fully one half of my youngest son’s time on earth. And one quarter of his older brother’s. And all I want to do is to show them that life is not like this. We don’t surround them with fear or anxiety. But there’s nothing we can do to end the closures on all the indoor spaces where they would play, or to make them unsee the masks that are out there in public. This uninviting world is the only one they’ve known.
18. Kaj Relwof finds the Democrats’ election-reform legislation conflicting with the party’s massive dark-money junkie habit. From the beginning of the piece:
There’s more projection in Washington than in a chain of movie theaters. An excellent example of this is the Left’s relentless attack on “dark money,” cast as a distinctly conservative poison polluting American politics. So goes the hooey.
Just what it is, how much of it there is, who gets the bulk of the dark dough, and whether there is an approaching day of ruing for Democrats and their cash-flush “philanthropy” sidekicks, such as Arabella Advisors and the Tides Foundation — the Left’s superlative hypocrisy on the issue is matched by that of a supportive, echo-chamber media — are questions prompted by the legislation deemed so important, so vital and urgent, it gets the distinction of being numbered H.R. 1. The bill’s formal title is the “For the People Act of 2021” (we might suggest the “For the People Who Are Not Conservatives Act”), and it is sponsored by John Sarbanes (D., Md.). The Senate version’s sponsor is Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat to the left of whom is the Pacific Ocean.
The legislation states that its mission is “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”
Yes, and unicorns are real.
1. As if we needed another confirmation of why the ChiComs are fiends. From the editorial:
The BBC has published some of the most horrifying evidence yet of the Chinese Communist Party’s mass atrocities against the Uyghurs, detailing a disgusting campaign of systematic rape and torture.
An estimated 1 million Uyghurs — and other Turkic peoples in the Xinjiang region — are detained in the CCP’s concentration camps. The brave work of the victims of this modern gulag, as well as that of the reporters and researchers who have fought to bring their stories to light, has added granular detail to the world’s understanding of an ongoing crime against humanity. The BBC story is the latest emergency call for the world to speak the truth about what’s happening in Xinjiang, and do what it can to combat it.
The BBC story features the testimony of Tursunay Ziawudun, a Uyghur woman imprisoned for nine months in the camps. Weaving together the testimony of Ziawudun and other Uyghur detainees, interviews with teachers and police in Xinjiang, in addition to satellite and primary-source analysis corroborating their accounts, the BBC reporters show that the abuses go far beyond the regime’s aggressive program of political brainwashing.
The torture endured by these Uyghur women included rape and torture with electric batons, in addition to other unspeakable acts of sexual violence. At one point, a teacher forced to work in the camps recounts witnessing the gang rape of a 20- or 21-year-old girl perpetrated before an audience of 100 detainees; the authorities subsequently punished anyone with visibly distressed reaction. Such atrocities aren’t the work of individual sadists, but are deliberate and systematic, as dictated by China’s foul totalitarian regime and Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping.
2. The New York Governor needs to be knocked off his pedestal for nursing-home incompetence and cover-ups about COVID deaths. From the editorial:
As New York City mayor Bill de Blasio put it with uncharacteristic eloquence, “These are our loved ones we lost, you know, it’s someone’s grandma, someone’s mother or father, aunts or uncles, this is families missing someone dear to them.”
The coronavirus has represented a once-in-a-hundred-years public-health crisis that has not discriminated between red and blue states. Everyone should have some humility about criticizing anyone in authority during the pandemic, when many decisions were made with imperfect information and when most choices had agonizing trade-offs. Yet Cuomo’s Department of Health’s March 25 order directing nursing homes to accept incoming residents known to have the coronavirus, an order he did not rescind until May 10, stands out as foolish and disastrous — especially because New York was warned of the danger. Cuomo still refuses to say whose idea the order was.
So more than 12 percent of New York nursing-home residents have succumbed to the virus. In New Jersey, where a policy similar to Cuomo’s was enacted, the death toll was similar: 12 percent of nursing-home residents felled by the virus. In Florida, where nursing homes were forbidden to accept people with coronavirus, that figure is 1.6 percent.
3. Matt Gaetz tried to oust Liz Cheney from the House GOP leadership. He failed, bigly. She won. From the editorial:
The vote is heartening, in that it shows that most Republicans realize it’s a mistake to let loyalty to one man in Mar-a-Lago dictate how they conduct their affairs. It’s depressing, in that it shows many Republicans are still much more willing to air this sentiment in private — it was a secret vote — than in public.
In repulsing the leadership challenge, Cheney has passed her first political test, but she still has much repair work to do in Wyoming, where voters overwhelmingly disagree with her impeachment vote and she already has primary challengers.
She will continue to be pursued by her critics until 2022. It will be better for the party if the ultimate outcome is the same as last night.
4. We say the Capitol cannot be turned into a fort. From the editorial:
Also, we should punish those responsible for January 6 appropriately. That means both those who failed to prevent what happened, including heads of security personnel (some of whom have already resigned), and those who carried out the violence and who unlawfully entered the Capitol. Our political and judicial systems making absolutely clear that such behavior represents an intolerable transgression are a way to deter future attempts.
It’s hard to see, though, why extra security, including perimeter fencing as necessary, can’t be added for high-profile events and when threats are high without making it a permanent feature. Whatever enhanced precautions take root in the Capitol Hill area after all of this has concluded should strive, as best as possible, to maintain the historically accessible nature of America’s seat of government. The Capitol Hill riots ought to be condemned as an un-American spectacle, and we should act to prevent anything like them from happening again. But it would also be un-American, and a change with worrying symbolic power, if the locus of popular government were forever visibly separated from the people themselves.
5. Marjorie Taylor Greene should be denied committee assignments. From the editorial:
It’d be a mistake to kick her out of Congress. Republicans in her district duly nominated her and then the voters elected her. This is a sign of very bad judgment, but the democratic will shouldn’t be overturned lightly, especially when the voters will have a chance to reconsider in two short years (assuming the Georgia GOP doesn’t redistrict Greene out of her seat).
House Democrats are pushing for a vote to deny Greene committee assignments. This will only raise the hackles of Republicans, who aren’t in a mood to be lectured by the Democratic party of Maxine Waters and Ilhan Omar about how to police members of Congress who make incendiary comments. Also, it’s a bad precedent for the majority to deny committee assignments to members of the minority it finds objectionable.
That said, the GOP should act under its own power, just as it did with former representative Steve King. Greene’s conspiracy-laden malevolence is poison to the electoral prospects and moral standing of the GOP. There’s no reason that the party needs to give her committee assignments, and she’s unlikely to have much useful to contribute to the House Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee anyway.
6. What is not needed in response to the GameStop stock rally is more government regulation and interference. From the editorial:
For all the complaints of lawmakers, though, it was the retail brokerages that took away the punch bowl, not the regulators. For a few days, it looked like the market had broken. The rally in GameStop, AMC, Blackberry, and other stocks handpicked by Reddit was based on nothing more than sentiment. In a functioning market, smart money should correct overvaluation driven by dumb money.
Although it took a few days, that’s exactly what’s happening. Robinhood and other brokerages halted trading not due to some shady desire to help Wall Street, but because they could not afford to shoulder the risks their customers were taking. A sizable portion of retail traders’ speculative investments in “meme stocks” were made with money borrowed from brokerages on margin. In response to increased volatility, Robinhood twice issued “margin calls,” decreasing the amount of borrowed money customers were allowed to invest in GameStop — first to 20 percent, then to zero.
In the meantime, the brokerages had to wait for customers to put up cash while their trades were settled by central clearinghouses. Like the brokerages, the clearinghouses did not want to take the risk of lending to speculators, so they increased the amount of collateral required to settle transactions in high-risk stocks. But Robinhood and other brokerages wouldn’t have that cash until their many millions of customers met margin calls. They faced the choice of either putting up their own cash, and exposing themselves to the risk of a meme-stock meltdown, or pulling the plug. Though the Reddit rally is far from over, it began to unravel in a matter of days thanks to the rational decisions of market participants.
1. Andy Pudzer says it was the profit motive that instigated the historic delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. From the article:
That Pfizer and Moderna were able to develop, produce, test, and begin administering such effective vaccines in less than a year is a testament to what profit-driven corporations can accomplish when government cooperates.
The capitalist Cinderella story here is Moderna, a small biotech corporation listed on the NASDAQ exchange. While Moderna received U.S. government support of about $2.5 billion for development and purchases of vaccines, Moderna exists because of investors who expected it to make a profit. There may well be executives and employees at Moderna who worked altruistically to find a cure for COVID-19. But they had jobs enabling them to do so because of Moderna’s profit-oriented investors.
Moderna developed and shipped the first batches of its vaccine to the National Institutes of Health for human testing on February 24, 2020, an incredible 42 days after China released the coronavirus DNA sequence. Its stock spiked from $18.59 to $21.57 on the announcement and closed at $131.02 on the day I received my shot.
That’s a good thing. The potential of businesses to produce those kinds of results is why people invest. It’s also what motivates the kind of research that results in cutting-edge advances such as the Moderna vaccine, which relies on “a novel mechanism that is not used in any existing vaccine,” according to the staff of Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center.
Of course, to survive, Moderna had to cover the costs of researching, developing, and producing its products. It also has to turn a profit. Fortunately, the Trump administration understood this.
2. Tate Williams reports on the lame-o offshore-wind fantasies of the Biden Administration. From the beginning of the piece:
Last week, President Biden signed an executive order that set the goal of “doubling offshore wind by 2030,” as a part of his administration’s aim to boost renewable-energy production. Environmental reporter Timothy Cama nicely summed up the audacity of that goal, writing: “So from seven turbines to fourteen?”
Doubling offshore wind production would mean advancing our current capacity of powering 0.0143 percent of 140 million American homes to a new capacity of powering 0.0286 percent of them. There are currently no utility-scale wind farms in operation in the U.S. The five turbines of the pilot project Block Island Wind Farm, actually in state waters off Rhode Island, came online in 2016 and generate 30 megawatts, enough energy to power 17,000 homes. The two-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, with 12 megawatts of capacity, was completed last year and can power up to 3,000 homes.
Nearly a full decade should be plenty of time to double the current 42 megawatts, but given regulatory and logistical barriers, setting such a low bar was likely purposeful. The new administration’s offshore wind approach highlights how it’s pushing a few policies that may be good politics but make little economic sense — and at times conflict with each other.
3. There were out-of-this world law and economics policy advances — in space — engineered by the Trump administration, reports Alexander William Salter. From the piece:
Few have been as optimistic about the prospects for private enterprise in space as I have. But even I must admit that this is a long-term goal. The global space economy currently totals only about $366 billion. For comparison, global GDP is over $80 trillion. Furthermore, 76 percent of the space economy comes from satellites and satellite services. The remainder is almost entirely government spending. In other words, the space economy is still barely a drop in the sea of the global economy, and the public sector is still the biggest player.
But there are signs things are changing. Superstar launch-provider SpaceX, a private company, is now the go-to source for rides to low-earth orbit. And SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, has ambitions to travel much deeper into space: Initial tests of his Starship super-heavy rocket have been far more promising than the over-budget, underperforming NASA equivalent.
In addition, NASA announced that it’s paying for moon rocks, establishing a precedent for harvesting and transferring ownership of space resources. And the Artemis Accords explicitly allow for “the extraction and utilization of space resources,” an important step for securing international buy-in to a property rights regime.
4. Jarrett Skorup contemplates the minimum-wage hikers and there drive to cut off the employment ladder’s first rung: From the beginning of the piece:
The first paying job I ever had was at age seven — I picked up trash at a construction site where my dad was working. I recall making $2 per hour. It wasn’t much. From there, I went to deck construction, asparagus picking, being a camp counselor, and then to roofing. Those jobs were too difficult, so I went to college and now work in public policy.
My first jobs were entry-level and low-paying. I didn’t need a specific degree or skill to do them. But they were valuable nevertheless. They taught me important life lessons, such as the importance of showing up on time, getting the little things right, communicating openly with my boss, and establishing priorities. I also learned what I was good at, what type of work I really enjoyed, and the pleasure of a job well done. Without those lessons, I could never have climbed the ladder of opportunity.
Most people I talk to think about their first few jobs the same way. They may or may not remember how much they made. But they definitely remember gaining experiences and skills that last for life. Moreover, they want everyone to be able to find their best path upward, which usually starts with those early jobs.
But it seems to me that policymakers have forgotten the importance of entry-level jobs. How else can I interpret the growing calls for minimum-wage hikes? Whatever else those policies do, they always cut off the lowest rungs of the ladder of opportunity. It’s almost like our elected leaders don’t want entry-level jobs.
5. Veronique de Rugy runs the numbers and finds them un-stimulating. From the piece:
Here is another point to observe with the latest $380 billion output-gap estimate, in light of proposed ($1.9 trillion) “stimulus” spending.
If the case for more stimulus is to close the output gap (return to pre-pandemic economic fundamentals), then a $1.9 trillion stimulus to close the gap would imply a fiscal multiplier of 0.2. But progressives have been telling us for years that the spending multiplier is 1.3, 1.5, or higher (which would imply the need for just $250 billion). With the CBO’s multiplier estimate of 0.58 for the CARES Act, stimulus totaling $600 billion (as proposed by the GOP) would close the gap fully in 2021. Which one is it? You can’t have it both ways.
At this point, I still think zero dollars is the correct amount of stimulus. Based on past experiences, we close the gap by encouraging growth in the private economy, not encouraging growth of government.
A Conservative Quartet from the February 22, 2021 Issue of National Review
1. Charles C.W. Cooke looks at the decline in virtues and America’s “Illiberal Moment.” From the essay:
Voltaire’s apocryphal maxim “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is in the process of being turned squarely on its head. Today, a more suitable rendering might read: “I disapprove of what you say, you are exiled, goodbye.”
To be adequately maintained, classical liberalism demands three key virtues. Humility, so that each of society’s competing factions might comprehend that it will not always hold power. Tolerance, so that the habitual reaction to a difference of opinion is the shrug rather than the bayonet. And forbearance, so that the immediate rush of victory can be subordinated to longer-term ambition. Little by little, we are losing all three and, as they go, forgetting the good practices that have built, sustained, and improved our remarkable society for generations.
Thus far, these losses have been primarily limited to our culture. For now, the Supreme Court continues to stand athwart, especially in defense of free speech. But, with culture sitting upstream of the law, and with the institutions that are supposed to be the most committed to liberalism rapidly becoming the institutions that are the least committed to liberalism, we cannot expect that this will remain true forever. The New York Times is, of course, within its legal and institutional rights to issue craven apologies for the crime of having irritated its readers’ sensibilities, just as the paper’s staff is within its rights to pretend that a given column has meaningfully put them in “danger.” But it matters when it happens. Behavior breeds behavior, and every time the employees of Politico revolt because Ben Shapiro edited Playbook for a day, or the crew at New York magazine decides that it “can’t even” with Andrew Sullivan, or the team at The Atlantic insists that the appearance of Kevin Williamson’s byline represents a mortal threat, or CNN’s Oliver Darcy proposes that the competitors to the cable network for which he works should be shut down, our hard-won customs are damaged a little more. Read a piece about a contretemps at a major American press outlet and you will invariably learn of a split between the “old guard,” which is committed to free speech and pluralism, and the “woke young,” which is not. That old guard was a young guard once, though. And, one day, the woke young will be the woke old.
2. David Harsanyi knocks an Emmy-winner and policy ghoul off a pedestal. From the article.
For nearly a year, Cuomo’s preternatural ineptitude was enabled by national media. A person might get irritated by watching Cuomo discuss his global popularity on The Tonight Show or by listening to him explore the phenomenon of “Cuomosexuals” on Ellen. Then again, those interviews seemed like enhanced interrogations compared with the treatment he received from various cable-news networks covering his press conferences, or from CNN, where his obsequious brother kibbitzed with him night after night after night.
Cuomo would go on to win an Emmy Award “in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” A litany of celebrities — Robert De Niro, Billy Joel, Ben Stiller, Spike Lee, and others — showered the governor with hosannas. Billy Crystal noted, “In the darkest days of the pandemic, your daily briefings live from New York gave us hope, gave us clarity, gave us the truth, and gave us something that we were not getting from Washington: leadership.”
Conservatives roundly mocked Cuomo’s Emmy win, but it was perhaps his most deserved honor. Cuomo’s well-produced pressers might have been a Potemkin village, but the façade of confidence, scientific certitude, and proficiency was a useful juxtaposition with President Trump’s frequent and incoherent ramblings and antagonistic COVID updates. One of the nation’s great political mediocrities proved that winning over pundits and reporters was more vital for one’s reputation than saving lives. If you allowed yourself to be used as a cudgel against Republicans — not just Trump, but Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas — all the better.
3. There is an anti-progressive bloc forming in our cities. Ryan Streeter checks it out. From the piece:
Trump gained in every borough of New York City except Staten Island (where he was already a favorite) compared with 2016, recording a gain of 12 percentage points in his share of the total vote in the Bronx and 9 points in Queens. He improved his margin by more than 18 points in largely immigrant and working-class assembly districts encompassing Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights. New York City as a whole swung toward Trump by 7.6 points between 2016 and 2020, more than any single state swung in the election, as Trump picked up support in 58 of the city’s 65 assembly districts. Compared with 2016, he gained votes in cities such as Philadelphia and Detroit, the latter of which gave Trump 5,000 more votes than in 2016 and Biden 1,000 fewer than Hillary Clinton won. As pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson has noted, even though Joe Biden won major metros as expected, closer scrutiny of a number of blue cities reveals blue doughnuts: As Democrats increased their command of the suburbs, their hold on inner cities weakened.
No one expected this, and there certainly isn’t much about Donald Trump’s policies on trade, immigration, tax cuts, or conservative judges that explains it. It seems obvious instead that in the age of COVID and violent protests, progressive cities overplayed their hand. When you ask your residents to pay too much for subpar housing, pledge to defund the police as crime soars, and force parents to do things they thought their taxes paid teachers to do, you shouldn’t be surprised at the backlash.
4. It’s nothing to laugh about: Joseph Epstein searches for the answer to an important question — what killed comedy? From the essay:
More comedians seemed to be at work in that day. But, then, there were more places for them to display their talents. Television no longer offers what were once known as variety shows, the most popular of which at the time was The Ed Sullivan Show, which ran from 1948 to 1971 and introduced innumerable stand-up comics, among them Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Flip Wilson, Alan King, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason, Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin, and others. So big was comedy that some comedians had their own shows — Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Carol Burnett, Steve Allen, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis — on which still other comedians appeared. Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, was so popular and so amusing that people stayed home on Saturday nights to watch it. Johnny Carson was known for introducing new young comedians on his late-night talk show and having older established comedians — Jonathan Winters, Don Rickles, Shecky Greene, Dangerfield — as fairly frequent guests.
The range of comedy was in itself fairly impressive. Rickles did insult humor, Winters went off on wild imaginative flights, Burnett did pleasing physical humor, Mason did heavily Jewish material, and Wilson riffed on black culture, while both Rivers and Diller worked the veins of female vanity, sensibility, and resentment, and Steven Wright played off the comedy of literalism (“Went into a restaurant whose menu said ‘Breakfast Anytime,’ so I ordered French toast in the Renaissance”). The Dick Van Dyke Show and, later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show were what today would be called “must-see TV.” I’m not sure anyone noticed at the time, but it was a golden age of comedy.
An entire branch of comedy, now quite gone, was that done by (mostly) men known as “impressionists.” They did imitations of famous movie stars and occasionally of politicians. Two of the better known among them were Frank Gorshin and Rich Little. Gorshin’s caricatural impressions of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster made it impossible for me ever again to watch the movies of either of these actors without inwardly giggling. The standard repertoire of the impressionists included imitations of James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, John Wayne, and others. So far as I know, no impressionists are at work today. Of whom, after all, could they do impressions? Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Adam Schiff, Leonardo DiCaprio? Personalities, whether in movies or public life, no longer exist who seem worth imitating.
In the private realm, there is joke-telling, the act of friends telling friends jokes they have heard. When I hear what I take to be a good joke, I am eager to pass it on. In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud was quite wrong in thinking that jokes are inherently acts of unconscious aggression, but he wasn’t wrong when he called jokes “good news,” by which he meant that the creation of a joke meant someone was thinking.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. At Hoover Institution’s Strategika — whose editor-in-chief is none other than Victor Davis Hanson — the topic of Issue 70 is “The U.S.-Russian Relationship,” and the lead of the dozen-or-so articles is Seth Cropsy’s essay, “Is There a Russian Card?” From the piece:
Beneath this razor-edged surface are the long-term prospects for Russo-American cooperation as exemplified for instance by the Kremlin’s hybrid intervention in Belarus in the fall of 2020. But it is the statesman’s task to see beyond the immediate political crisis, cut through confusion and contradiction, and chart a wise course into the future. Every possibility must be reviewed. Even a partnership with an ethically repugnant geopolitical foe.
Ironically, the Belarus intervention reveals more clearly one of Putin’s core motivating factors. For all his pretentions of international strength and domestic unity — including the supermajority he commands in every presidential election — Putin still views a “color revolution” within Russia as a real possibility. Although the Kremlin gained control of Crimea, the Ukraine crisis generated significant political costs. Russia is now wholly responsible for a small enclave of Eastern Ukraine with no domestic economy. Its occupation of five percent of Ukrainian territory has earned it the Ukrainian population’s lasting enmity, both in the country’s west and its east. And while sanctions pressure has not destroyed the Russian economy, it has at least undermined it.
2. More from Strategika: Zafiris Rossidis reviews how the Ruskies and ChiComs engage in Covid Age information warfare. From the piece:
The first attempt at “weaponizing” information came from the Chinese as early as the first days of the appearance of the virus in the United States. Chinese sources claimed that the American government had deployed military forces in many cities to ensure the lockdown. Then, Chinese officials, through their personal accounts, criticized the U.S., claiming that it had introduced the coronavirus to China, using it as a bioweapon. This was reminiscent of the Cold War, as the mere mention of biological warfare, even though an old disinformation tactic, remains an effective one.
Until recently, the West regarded the network of the Confucius Institutes and Public Diplomacy as primary sources of China’s influence in the international arena. Since 2018 however, China has constructed an immense digital infrastructure using new, improved methods that do not simply manipulate the recipient’s emotions but also disorganize both smaller and larger social groups, using psychological modeling.
Russia, also, presents an interesting case. Russian services have vast experience and tradition, in disseminating disinformation and in hybrid operations. Russia is one of those countries that use the manipulation of information as a prime “weapon” to gain a larger share of power. Russia aggressively employs this form of asymmetric warfare, fully aware that today, it is social networking and not the mainstream media that exclusively provides information to citizens.
3. One More from Strategika: Josef Joffe says forget about playing a Russia Card against Red China. From the beginning of the article:
Theoretically, two superpowers — the United States and Russia — should go after China, a rising contender, to preserve the established hierarchy. But it won’t happen. For an instructive historical lesson, go back to a comparable constellation when that master of manipulation, Henry Kissinger, failed to play China against the Soviet Union. The intent was to draw a much weaker and poorer China into the American orbit in order to pressure the Soviet Union, the world’s no. 2.
In Kissinger’s words: “We opened to China … to introduce an additional element of calculation for the Soviets.” Translated: The U.S. would bribe China so that it would weigh in against Moscow and help the Nixon administration to arrange a graceful exit from Vietnam. Kissinger assumed that both “had the same objective.”1
They did not. China pocketed the gifts: the betrayal of Taiwan, a seat among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the opening of America’s markets. And China never did do America’s bidding. It did not position itself against the USSR, nor did it save the U.S. from humiliation in Vietnam. Today, Beijing is America’s worst rival in the contest over global primacy, not to speak of its predatory trade policy.
4. At California Policy Center, Ed Ring contends the AWOL legislature must take action to reopen the Golden State. From the piece:
One creative way to begin to safely unlock Californians has been proposed by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who late last year proposed that individual counties adopt a “Healthy Communities Resolution.” The intent of the resolution (read full text) is to allow each county to “respond locally to the COVID-19 virus in accordance with our local data and circumstances,” and to allow this response to be “tailored to geographically separate areas.” So far ten counties have adopted this resolution.
In Sacramento County, however, just to illustrate what Kiley and others are up against, Supervisor Susan Frost’s attempt to introduce the Healthy Communities Resolution was opposed 4-1. She couldn’t even get someone to second the motion so they could debate the topic and vote on it. Her opponents claimed that to selectively open portions of the county based on neighborhood conditions was “racist.” And with that magic word, end of discussion.
Kiley’s resolution also calls for school districts to “safely open all schools as soon as possible and provide in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible without further delay.” And it isn’t just classroom instruction, but sports, where pressure is building to reopen. Just a few days ago, San Diego high school athletes filed a lawsuit that aims to force California to join 47 other states that have already resumed active high school sports. Support for this lawsuit has grown overnight into a grassroots movement. On Facebook, the “Let Them Play CA” group has acquired over 50,000 members in less than a month and continues to rapidly add participants.
5. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports on how Vladimir Putin has shot himself in the foot. From the analysis:
Aleksei Navalny, opposition leader, anti-corruption activist and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, returned to Russia on January 17 after recovering for five months in Germany from having been poisoned with a military grade nerve agent, Novichok. It was an event widely reported to have been an assassination attempt by Russian state agents.
Upon landing, Navalny was immediately arrested on charges that he had violated the parole terms from a suspended sentence received in 2014 for alleged fraud, a conviction that the European Court of Human Rights ruled was “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.”
Upon his arrest, Navalny was denied access to a lawyer, and — after a hearing that took place in a police station, which only pro-Kremlin media were allowed to attend — jailed for an initial term of 30 days. He is due to go on trial on February 2.
“It seems,” Navalny said about the proceedings, “that the grandpa in the bunker is so afraid of everything that they demonstratively ripped apart the code of criminal procedure and threw it in the trash.”
6. At Quillette, Peter Baehr contemplates the ChiCom regime’s debasement of Hong Kong, and what the individual must do in the face of such. From the essay:
Article 38 of the PRC Constitution guarantees the “dignity” and “inviolability” of citizens. Yet “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” in Communist Party gibberish, was enough for a mainland critic of Hong Kong’s national security law, Zhang Wuzhou, to find herself in police custody, her body contorted into a human ball, hands and feet tied together in metal cuffs. “Picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” also felled the mainland citizen-journalist, Zhang Zhan, who reported on the CCP’s botched handling of COVID-19 in Wuhan. Serving a four-year sentence, she is currently on hunger strike.
In all such cases, a state’s deception and double-standards are, paradoxically, all too obvious. “Plain for anyone to see.” The constitution says one thing; the authorities do another. By contrast, the deception practiced by individuals on themselves — self-deception — is not obvious; it is all too murky. The shrewdest account of it I know comes not from a Chinese thinker, however, but from a German one: Karl Jaspers, a prominent psychologist and philosopher who lived through the Nazi years. He was forced to resign from his post at the University of Heidelberg in 1937 because of the taint attached to his having married a German-Jew. Miraculously, Jaspers and his wife Gertrud survived the war physically unharmed, not actively opposing the Nazi state but, going into “inner emigration,” refusing to collaborate with it in any way. When the war ended, Jaspers urged his fellow Germans to take responsibility for the many ways in which they had supported and participated in a genocidal regime. Though he was writing specifically about Germany under National Socialism, Jaspers’s analysis applies to conduct under dictatorships more generally.
A striking feature of Jaspers’s moral perspective is his refusal to portray German citizens as benighted or ideologically saturated people, incapable of understanding their circumstances in a realistic light. And it was precisely this refusal that drove him to coin the concept of “false conscience” (falsches Gewissen) as a counterpoint to the Marxist idea of “false consciousness” (falsches Bewusstsein). Jaspers did so in his book Die Schuldfrage (1947), published in English a year later as The Question of German Guilt. Admittedly, “false conscience” is an odd-looking idiom, at least in English. But Jaspers had good reasons to coin it.
To describe participation in the Nazi Reich as evidence of “false consciousness,” as Marxists did, or as a manifestation of an “authoritarian personality,” as Marxist-Freudians did, actually suggests that no moral culpability can reasonably be attributed. After all, if a consciousness is false and then later becomes true, persons gifted with this miraculous transformation are essentially bifurcated beings. Only their true consciousness can (now) be morally appraised. Their former false consciousness cannot for it was determined by economic circumstances, “geographical conditions,” “world-historical situation” and the tempestuous forces unleashed by Nazi rule. Similarly, individuals subject to an authoritarian upbringing can hardly be responsible for its impact on their “personality.”
7. At Commentary, Christine Rosen explores how Betsy DeVos withstood a hostile media. From the article:
Consider the New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who made DeVos a frequent subject of her opinion columns, going so far as to sponsor a Worst Trump Cabinet Member reader poll in June 2017 that named DeVos the winner. Collins wrote approvingly of the results, which focused less on policy disagreements than on personal attacks: “Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be. . . all that bright.”
In a May 2020 column contest for “worst political person” (Collins expanded her contest franchise as the Trump years wore on), she wrote: “I want to put a word in here for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is often unfairly overlooked when it comes to counting terrible people in the current government. This is because of her general ineptitude, and you should thank God every day this woman doesn’t know how to get things done.”
But if DeVos couldn’t get things done, how to explain the fact that this January, Collins’s employer featured on the Times’ editorial page a lengthy scolding of DeVos for doing too much? “The departing education secretary, Betsy DeVos, will be remembered as perhaps the most disastrous leader in the Education Department’s history,” the editorial board wrote, adding that her “lack of vision has been apparent in a variety of contexts.”
It’s not DeVos’s lack of vision the Times objects to; it was her unwillingness to play along with the liberal narrative about federal education policy. The Times editorial page spent paragraph after paragraph criticizing DeVos for saying that state and local governments were the ones to make decisions about keeping schools closed during the pandemic, for example. They complained that Joe Biden’s new secretary of education will have to find ways to deal with the “learning loss” caused by school closures and, by implication, DeVos’s failure to use federal authority the way they believe she should have. Nowhere did the Times mention the main driver of school closures and subpar remote-learning plans, which also happens to be the interest group that constituted DeVos’s most outspoken critic for the past four years: teachers’ unions.
8. At The Imaginative Conservative, Christopher England makes the case for National Greatness. From the beginning of the essay:
As the United States muddles through a global pandemic and the aftermath of a contested election, it is hard to avoid a sense that the country is now suffused by a spirit of grievance and revenge. Donald Trump’s call to “make America great again” has given rise to the cynical response, voiced by Andrew Cuomo and others, that “America was never that great.” Even libertarians and many traditional conservatives have come to see talk of greatness as little more than a smokescreen for an aggressive foreign policy and an interventionist state. Unfortunately, none of the parties to this debate appear to fully grasp the vital role that conceptions of civic greatness play in sustaining a free society.
In this context, the legendary Harvard philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once made an unusual comment about the culture of freedom. In 1933, surveying a political landscape wracked by the Great Depression, Whitehead rather bizarrely suggested that the preservation of freedom in the West might require a public culture that could replace the religious symbolism of the Book of Revelation with political symbolism of the “speech of Pericles to the Athenians” from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Strange as this juxtaposition may appear, Whitehead had a very simple, and very timely, point to make.
He argued that Western notions of political freedom are largely an outgrowth of the Christian religious tradition that conceives of universal moral standards and insists on the equal dignity of every individual soul. This egalitarian universalism opens the intellectual space for conceptions of human rights, classical liberalism, democracy, democratic socialism, and many other forms of modern politics. So far, so good.
9. At The College Fix, Grace Bureau reports on the popularity og The Communist Manifesto as assigned reading in major American colleges. From the beginning of the story:
A new survey found that “The Communist Manifesto” is among the Top 10 most assigned books in Ivy League institutions and the top-ranked public colleges in the nation.
The book, written by Karl Marx in 1848, was ranked as the top-fourth text assigned at public colleges and universities, and the seventh-most assigned at Ivy League institutions.
The other two reading assignments that also overlapped on the top 10 lists are “The Elements of Style” and the “Tragedy of the Commons.”
The company used the Open Syllabus Project database to determine its results. The online database provides access to the syllabi of over 2,500 U.S. colleges.
The elusive doubleheader was a mainstay of the National Pastime, especially in Ye Olden Days. Traveling by trains (the Red Sox heading to St. Louis to start a road trip) was a constraint, compounded by Mother Nature and the lack of lights. Imagine this: In 1943, the Chicago White Sox played in 44 doubleheaders — 88 of its 155 games came that way. In one stretch — between a July 17th two-fer at home against the Detroit Tigers and a July 25th doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, the White Sox played 12 straight games as part of twin bills. Aa July 15th single game against the Tigers just prior to that streak followed consecutives doubleheaders against the Yankees on July 10th and 11th (the Bronx Bombers swept both).
The consecutive-doubleheaders record belongs to the lowly 1928 Boston Braves. An aside: the team’s 50-103 record would typically be good enough for last place, but the 1928 Philadelphia Phillies won it going away with a 43-109 record, one of the worst in MLB history.
Anyway . . . commencing on September 4th against Brooklyn, the Braves played in 9 consecutive doubleheaders, going 4-14. The core of that streak included four consecutive twin bills at home against the New York Giants — the visitors swept the quartet. Prior to the streak, one game (a September 2 loss to the Giants) separated two additional Braves’ doubleheaders, while on the streak’s back end, two games against the Cubs, on September 17th and 18th, were followed by four more consecutive twin bills.
The doubleheader that provided spectators with the greatest offensive fireworks took place in 1939, naturally, on July 4th, and appropriately in Philadelphia, as the Athletics hosted the visiting Boston Red Sox. The opening contest did not go over well with the 22,030 fans at Shibe Park, as the Red Sox battered the A’s 17-7. Future Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, and Joe Cronin each smacked a home run for the Sox. So did Jim Tabor, who collected three hits. It was just the beginning of a exceptional day for the rookie third baseman.
Hard to believe — when you consider that 30 runs were scored — that the second game on the twin bill took only two-and-a-half hours to complete. The Red Sox prevailed, 18-12, and Tabor provided much of the damage for the winners: He slapped three home runs, including a grand slam in the Third and another grand slam (an inside-the-park job) in the Sixth, and with his other solo dinger (in the Eighth), accounted for 9 RBIS (he also scored five runs).
When Bill Nagel scored the Athletics final run in the bottom of the 9th — registering the 54th combined tally of the afternoon — it tied a record, set in the pre-Modern Era, when on Wednesday, May 30, 1894, the Boston Beaneaters shellacked the Cincinnati Reds, 13-10 and then 20-11.
Pray for those suffering Uyghur women, for their deliverance, and maybe even that He Who We Are to Fear might render His wrath and smote those who thrill to persecution. But first . . .
May the Almighty’s Blessings Mend Hearts and Souls,
Jack Fowler, who can get messages to Kaj Relwof if sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.