National Review

Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. Big Stuff?

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Nope. No way. You’re never gonna get my love.

Maybe not America’s either.

Quite the debate! Good thing for “The Big Guy” — he of Delaware-lost laptop fame — that the shebang didn’t last another half hour: The gas needle was hitting “E.” Maybe that’s what happens when you rely on wind power? Where’s fossil fuel when you need it?! Analysis of how the night went, and its likely ensuing political impact, is to be found below in the cornucopia of links.

But do consider first Jack Crowe’s piece calling out the MSM for its rush to claim no there there when it comes to the abandoned laptop and its explosive contents, which imply the mansion-owning government pensioner with the beachfront home could very well have taken regular, healthy cuts of Sonny Boy’s lucrative dad-and-uncle-involved overseas deals. From the piece:

Democratic partisans hoping desperately that the rapidly unfolding story of Biden family corruption will disappear before the election thought they had found their answer in the form of a Wall Street Journal report published late Thursday night.

The report is cautiously written and appears to accurately reflect what we currently know about Hunter Biden’s attempts to capitalize on his family name abroad. But it was quickly presented as a “debunking” of a Journal opinion column written by Kimberly Strassel. The column lays out in great detail recent claims by a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s named Tony Bobulinski, who came forward this week to confirm the authenticity of email exchanges between Hunter, his business partners, and representatives of the politically connected Chinese energy firm CEFC.

In one email, on which Bobulinski is listed as a recipient, Biden business partner James Gilliar lays out the terms of a proposed joint investment venture with CEFC in which James and Hunter Biden and their business partners would seek out investment opportunities for the Chinese in the U.S.

The email reads: “10 held by H for the big guy?”

According to Bobulinski, “the big guy” is none other than Joe Biden and “10” refers to a ten-percent equity stake in the venture that would be held by Hunter Biden. (It is worth noting that Biden did not deny being “the big guy” or question the authenticity of the emails when pressed by President Trump during Thursday night’s debate.)

If you thought beak-wetting was limited to The Godfather: Part II, well, dispel yourself of such naivety, because The Big Guy may have a pitch-black belt in such unholy tithing. Sicily’s got nothing on Wilmington!

Now, about the many links below, get thee to them!

Editorials

1. We condemn the media’s shameful failure to report on the Joe/Hunter Biden debacle. From the editorial:

There is more and more reason to credit the veracity of those emails, or at a minimum, suggest that they warrant more thorough investigation. We have what appears to be a signed receipt from the computer repair shop in Delaware, demonstrating that Hunter’s laptop and hard drive were obtained legally. We know that the laptop in question is being held in connection to an FBI money-laundering investigation. The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, says that the emails in questions aren’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign and the FBI hasn’t contradicted him.

Yet, the managing editor of one of the nation’s largest publicly funded media organization believes emails possibly implicating a presidential frontrunner in having benefitted from deals involving his shady son who was leveraging the family name and proximity to power for millions are nothing but a distraction. Nobody would apply that standard to stories about influence-peddling, foreign contacts, or foreign financial interests on the part of Donald Trump’s family — nor should they. To the contrary, not only has the press properly treated Trump family business interests as newsworthy, they have frequently disregarded even the most minimal journalistic standards to issue breathless reports about them.

2. The government’s anti-trust case against Google, no matter its nefarious ways, is weak. From the editorial:

But is this a good suit, one that serves the country’s best interests? That is less clear, especially if the government eventually does pursue drastic measures such as a breakup.

American antitrust laws are broadly written, and the prevailing legal standards have changed over the years. The dominant and most economically sensible approach to enforcing these laws, however, remains the one that Robert Bork laid out in the 1970s: “Anticompetitive” behavior becomes a problem when it harms consumer welfare. In our view, officials should not pursue antitrust actions unless they can compellingly show a company is, in fact, harming consumers — not just that it is doing everything it can to attract consumers to its product at the expense of the competition.

Is it harmful to consumers for Google to pay other companies to feature its search engine as the default? That’s a hard case to make, because it’s generally easy for those who prefer other search engines to change the default, as Google and the alternative engines are all free and switching can be achieved in a few clicks; because these lucrative arrangements help to subsidize the devices consumers use; and because most users would probably choose Google anyhow, if its runaway success over the past two decades is any guide.

A Tsunami (Don’t Worry, Unless You Are a Lefty, It’s the Safe Kind) of Conservative Brilliance Is Ready to Wash Over You

1. Debate Reax: Victor Davis Hanson says Trump won. Bigly. From the Corner post:

There was a low bar for Joe Biden in the first debate, given his cognitive challenges. Because he exceeded that pessimism, he won momentum.

In opposite fashion, there was similarly an expectation that a disruptive Donald Trump would turn off the audience by the sort of interruptions and bullying that characterized the first debate.

He did not do that. He instead let a cocky Biden sound off, and thus more or less tie himself into knots on a host of topics, but most critically on gas and oil. So likewise Trump will gain momentum by exceeding those prognoses.

But far more importantly, the back-and-forth repartee will not matter other than Trump went toe to toe, but in a tough, dignified manner and beat Biden on points. Biden did not go blank — although he seemed to come close, often especially in the last tw0 minutes. Had the debate gone another 30 minutes, his occasional lapses could have become chronic.

What instead counts most are the days after.  The debate take-aways, the news clips, the post facto fact checks, and the soundbites to be used in ads over the next ten days all favor Trump. In this regard, Biden did poorly and will suffer continual bleeding in the swing states.

We will know that because by the weekend Biden will be out of his basement and trying to reboot his campaign and actually be forced to campaign.

So we are going to hear over the next week that Biden simply denied the factual evidence of the Hunter Biden laptop computer, the emails, the cell phones, and the testimonies from some of the relevant players as a concocted smear, a Russian disinformation attack. That denial is clearly a lie. It is absolutely unsupportable. And Biden will have to drop that false claim.

2. More Reax: Andrew McCarthy says the win will only get bigger post-debate. From the piece:

President Trump would be in much better shape right now if he’d campaigned and debated like the guy who showed up at last night’s debate. To use a boxing analogy, I think he won the match on points, but the margin gets better for him in the post-mortem. Former vice president Biden said some truly indefensible things. Starting this morning and continuing for the next ten days, Republicans will be whistling through the groove-yard of forgotten favorite video clips . . . or, better, GOP favorites that Biden would like to forget.

In fact, the president wasted no time: He had a killer montage up on Twitter before midnight.

Worst for Biden are the energy issues.

First, there is the true thing Biden said that his camp is now desperately trying to walk back or restate: He wants to get rid of fossil fuels, in particular oil. “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” he said. To put an exclamation point on it, he agreed with Trump that this “is a big statement.” Shortly after the debate, just how big this statement was began to sink in, so Biden went into damage control mode. He insisted he had just been talking about “getting rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.” But that was not true. As the several Biden and Kamala Harris statements in Trump’s tweet demonstrate, the Democratic ticket made their jihad against fossil fuels clear and unqualified, time and again.

Second, and relatedly, there is the false thing that Biden said: He claimed he had never indicated he would ban fracking. To the contrary, he has said he’d get rid of fracking several times; and Kamala Harris — before she started insisting, with a straight face, that Biden had been “very clear” that he would not ban fracking — was herself emphatic in proclaiming the dogmatic Democratic Party position: “There’s no question, I’m in favor of banning fracking.”

3. Still More Reax: Jim Geraghty sees Joe Biden as the guy who wants everything both ways. From the piece:

I do worry that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will get worse as the winter months arrive. People will spend more time indoors, increasing their close contact, and if infected, spread it to others in their household. People are going to have a tough time resisting getting together with relatives for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The good news is that your odds of surviving an infection are better than ever: “Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.”

Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed’s chief adviser, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, told ABC News this week that “It’s not a certainty, but the plan — and I feel pretty confident — should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunized in the U.S.” What’s more, “Moderna and Pfizer are likely to be the first to apply for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, possibly as soon as November or December. If a vaccine is authorized before the end of the year, Slaoui said approximately 20 to 40 million doses of it will be stockpiled and ready for distribution for a limited population.”

First doses for the most vulnerable by the end of the year, and everybody’s safe by June. The end is in sight, people. Between the improved treatments and the pace of vaccine development, we’re almost through with this thing; we just need to be smart and careful for the next few months.

But last night, Biden went well beyond any measure of reasonable wariness and declared, “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year.” As of last night, there were 70 days left in this year. That comes out to 2,857 deaths per day, every day, from now until January 1. Our daily rate of deaths has been around 1,000 — generally below it — since late August. If we lost 900 souls a day for the rest of the year, that would add up to 63,000 additional deaths.

The truth is bad enough, there’s no need for Biden to veer into the dire scaremongering. (Right now in the comments section, some regular readers are stunned that I, of all writers, could find someone else’s assessment to be fearmongering.)

4. Kyle Smith shares the revelations from William Voegli’s Claremont Review of Books essay on a very strange but informative Joe Biden interview with the Washington Post from days of yore. From the piece:

“Let me show you my favorite picture of her,” he told Kitty Kelley, holding up a picture of Neilia in a bikini. “She had the best body of any woman I ever saw. She looks better than a Playboy bunny, doesn’t she?” He also said Neilia was a conservative Republican when they met but became a Democrat and that “at first she stayed at home with the kids while I campaigned but that didn’t work out because I’d come back too tired to talk to her. I might satisfy her in bed but I didn’t have much time for anything else.” He exclaimed, “Neilia was my very best friend, my greatest ally, my sensuous lover. The longer we lived together the more we enjoyed everything from sex to sports. Most guys don’t really know what I lost because they never knew what I had. Our marriage was sensational.” He added, “I want to find a woman to adore me again.”

Another weird detail is that Biden referred to Neilia as “my beautiful millionaire wife.” Biden brings up money repeatedly: Kelley alludes to “the temptation to sell out to big business or big labor for financial help” because Biden admitted “that more than once he was tempted to compromise to get campaign money.” Biden added, “I probably would have if it hadn’t been for the ramrod character of my Scotch Presbyterian wife.” He had been in office for only eight months before he started complaining about being underpaid. “I don’t know about the rest of you but I am worth a lot more than my salary of $42,500 a year in this body. It seems to me that we should flat out tell the American people we are worth our salt,” he said on the Senate floor. ($42,500 is about $249,000 in today’s dollars. Biden was 30 when he made these remarks.) Biden’s evident belief that he deserves to be wealthy stood out in a 2008 New York Times story that explained how a man living on a public servant’s salary was able to live like a Bourbon king: “Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping,” the Times explained, and also rich businessmen filtered their support of Biden through other means: “the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home.” He sold the house he had bought in 1975 for top dollar to — get this — the vice-chairman of MBNA, who gave Biden $1.2 million for it. MBNA has showed its gratitude to Biden’s support in a number of ways: by giving over $200,000 to his various campaigns, by hiring Hunter Biden, by flying Biden and his wife to a retreat in Maine, etc. Mother Jones dubbed Biden “the senator from MBNA.”

RELATED: Find the Voegli CRB essay here (but you may need a subscription).

5. Jack Butler, travel reporter wanabe, follows John Kasich’s long trip from fiscal-conservative champion to All American blowhard. From the article:

Despite these controversies, Kasich managed to maintain a superficially strong political brand. He balanced Ohio’s budget on the backs of the state’s municipalities, and won reelection in 2014. Then, his White House ambitions cropped up again. On paper, he was a contender: the successful governor of a swing state with ample experience in public service and Midwestern roots. But for whatever reason, he chose John Weaver to mastermind his 2016 campaign. Weaver’s bailiwick has been Republican candidates whose greatest interest seems to be criticizing other Republicans. In 2012, Weaver’s candidate was former Utah governor John Huntsman Jr.; in 2016, it was Kasich. Right at the launch of Kasich’s campaign, he made hay of his reported “refusal to criticize Hillary Clinton” during the Republican primaries, and he stuck to the so-called moderate lane for the rest of the race.

To be sure, the Republican Party is a big tent; there are no rules against moderates winning primaries. But during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was rather conspicuously crowding that tent. There were confusing ideological signals coming from the left at the time; though horrified by Trump, many in the media loved the ratings boost he generated, and liberal partisans hoped he’d win the nomination, thinking him an easy opponent. Yet for all the Republicans Kasich was willing to criticize at the time, he was curiously soft on Trump. And while he avoided direct criticism of Trump in mawkish and grating performances during the primary debates, he stayed in the race to its end despite winning only his home state of Ohio.

Coincidentally, the 2016 Republican National Convention was also in Ohio. Perhaps buoyed by this fact, Kasich persisted despite pleas from Texas senator Ted Cruz, the party’s last best hope of heading off Trump, to drop out and make it a two-man race. He ended up exiting the race only after Cruz lost the Indiana primary and did the same. Back when Cruz still had a chance to win the nomination, Kasich had reportedly told the senator that he would contest the nomination all the way to the convention; instead, he didn’t even attend. He’d effectively played the spoiler candidate, preventing consolidation of the non-Trump vote behind Cruz and going back on his word in the process. When taking stock of his current prominence as a Republican opponent of Trump, one can hardly miss the irony.

6. Dan McLaughlin sloshes through the hogwash of Joe Biden’s proposed court-packing commission. From the analysis:

Even in the cosseted world of the Biden campaign — no follow-up from Wallace, no questions on Court-packing at Biden’s NBC town hall, no public appearances by Biden for days on end — this was unsustainable, so in a CBS News interview released this morning, Biden promised . . . a bipartisan commission to kick the can down the road for the first six months of his term. The commission would “come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system . . . . It’s not about Court-packing. . . . There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing. . . . It is a live ball.”

This is a transparent dodge. Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, and eight as the vice president, and this is his third presidential campaign. He was the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, chairing it for six. He has given speeches about the dangers of Court-packing. Unless Biden’s mental state has declined worse than we think, there is not a chance in the world that he requires a commission to tell him what to think on this issue. The reality is that Biden is terrified of his radical base, and lacks the guts to take a stand in public. That bodes poorly for his presidency across the board.

7. Rich Lowry plows into the liberal conspiracy that under every MyPillow.com lurks a Russian agent. From the column:

Hillary Clinton didn’t blow on her own a winnable election in 2016; she was undone by a Kremlin conspiracy.

Trump hasn’t said ridiculous things about Vladimir Putin because he has wildly unrealistic expectations of being able to cut a deal with him and bristles at saying whatever the media and establishment want him to say; he’s controlled by Moscow.

We aren’t a bitterly divided country, as we’ve been through much of our history; the Russians are “sowing divisions.”

And, finally, a Delaware computer repairman didn’t come into possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop through strange happenstance; it was faked and planted by the Russians.

Oddly, the Left had a relatively indulgent attitude toward Russia when it was one of the world’s two superpowers, armed to the teeth, engaged in nuclear brinkmanship with the U.S., in control of a swath of Europe, including half of Germany, and devoted to spreading revolution around the globe. But it is obsessed with Russia now that the country has a GDP smaller than Italy’s and some hackers and poorly trafficked websites spreading bad information.

This fixation drives the ridiculous magnification of small-time pro-Russia players and the belief that the Russians have a hand in nearly every significant American event.

8. The great James L. Buckley, the Apostle of Federalism, laments Congress’s abandonment of its duties as presented in the Constitution. From the essay:

So Congress has fallen into the habit of delegating ever more essentially legislative details to executive agencies that in turn produce the detailed regulations that give congressionally enacted laws their effect. In doing so, the agencies tend to resolve statutory ambiguities in ways that will meet their own objectives, which may or may not coincide with those Congress had in mind.

Over time, the effect of all of this has been the creation of an extra-constitutional administrative state that both writes and administers the rules that now govern ever wider areas of American life. Procedures are in place that are intended to subject regulations to scrutiny before they can take effect. But the administrative state can sidestep them by simply writing letters, as it did recently when it advised schools that boys must be allowed to use girls’ bathrooms if they think of themselves as girls. And the administrative state gets away with such excesses because they have become so common in current practice that Congress too rarely raises any objections.

So here we are today. Federalism is just a memory and Congress’s abdications of its own responsibilities have given us an expanding administrative state whose non-elected officials govern by regulatory fiat. As I noted in my book, an effective federalism is easily restored. All that is required is for Congress to strip the grants of federal directives telling the states how the money is to be used. This simple reform would once again allow accountable state and local officials rather than distant bureaucrats to determine how best to meet state and local needs. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far failed to follow my advice.

Restoring the Constitution’s allocation of governmental powers, however, will be a far more difficult task. Over the past generation and more, our educators have abdicated their responsibility to ground their students in the fundamentals of the American experience. As a result, far too many of our people now suffer from a peculiar form of historical amnesia.

9. Melissa Langsam Braunstein reports on the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ugly stone-busting of Orthodox Jews. From the article:

It’s clear that too much power has been ceded to Governor Cuomo. Not only have state legislators provided the governor with “nearly unchecked power,” but the media have too. Events now follow an all-too-familiar script. Consider, for example, the story surrounding the Satmar Hasidic wedding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Monday night. Governor Cuomo said something, reporters accepted it, and a negative narrative about New York’s Orthodox Jews took hold.

If you read or watch the New York Times, The Hill, New York’s NBC 4, ABC News, the Daily Beast, the Miami Herald, Britain’s Daily Mail, Australia’s Business Insider or countless other outlets, you may have heard “that upwards of 10,000 people were expected to attend” the wedding of the Grand Rebbe’s grandson. However, there are many questions that should have been asked — and indeed appear to have gone unasked — before Cuomo publicly blasted New York’s Satmar Hasidic community, and before the international media broadcast the story far and wide.

To recap, on Saturday, while Orthodox Jews were unplugged for the Sabbath, Cuomo told the media, “We received a suggestion that [an enormous wedding] was happening. We did an investigation and found that it was likely true.”

While some unquestioningly accept the governor’s remarks, I, for one, would like to know more about this investigation and the related activities.

10. Isaac Schorr sees Max Boot for the ChiCom stooge that he is. From the piece:

It is when Boot, who never much concerned himself with the plight of the unborn or pro-growth economic policies sheds his identity as a third-wave neoconservative — the one that made him relevant — that he is at his most pathetic, however. The Boot who championed an assertive American foreign policy — not only because he believed it to be practical, but because he believed it to be just — is gone, replaced by one who devotes all of his moral energy toward opposing a singular political figure. His most recent article is one of the more embarrassing examples.

“China is winning and America is losing” their respective battles with the coronavirus because the former is “following the science” while the latter is “fighting it” per Boot. And Boot has the numbers to back it up! America has had over 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 219,000 Americans have died from the novel disease — sobering statistics to be sure. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the very first country to be hit by COVID-19, reports only 91,000 total cases and, get this, 4,700 deaths, numbers that Boot is pleased to be able to parrot. That the PRC is notoriously opaque about what happens inside of it (if the Chinese told Boot no one died at Tiananmen, would he believe them?) and is presently committing a genocide against its Uyghur population is of little interest to Boot, who concedes that the numbers may not be “entirely accurate.” “But then, neither are ours” shrugs Boot, transforming into a disciple of Trump-esque “our country does plenty of killing also” moral equivalence (for an idea of just how skewed China’s self-reported numbers are, take a look at this report from Derek Scissors at the American Enterprise Institute.)

Boot quickly glosses over the PRC’s active effort to suppress news of COVID-19’s spread in such a manner that allowed it to travel worldwide, devoting only a half sentence to this before lauding it for “using tools such as lockdowns, social distancing, contact tracing, mask-wearing and isolation of patients.” I doubt that Boot would be at all pleased if Trump had adopted the more stringent practices of the CCP, such as arresting those who broke 40-day mandatory quarantines. No, in fact I’m quite sure that he would be shrieking that fascism had arrived in America.

11. Alexandra DeSanctis shares a gorgeous reflection on her dad and his influence in her life. From the piece:

Though he always worked hard, he thought it was equally important to make time for his family. He was there for nearly every one of my brother’s Little League games, and he sat through every one of my ballet recitals (although I’m told he sometimes fell asleep during the parts I wasn’t in). When he spent a few years traveling to and from Providence, Rhode Island, for business, we often went with him, staying a week at a time in a hotel as my mom homeschooled us, so we could be together as a family. He made sure that he — that we — would always prioritize the things that mattered most.

The older I get, the more I realize that my father chose to be a lawyer not out of ambition, but for us, so that we would be able to have the type of life he thought would be best for us, so we wouldn’t have to worry about having a good home, or clothes, or food. He viewed his career not as a means of personal satisfaction or glorification but as a means of providing for my brother and me the sort of education that would increase our knowledge and our ability to pursue our goals — and an education that would help us understand and internalize our Catholic faith. Though he loved history and writing, and likely would have been happy and fulfilled working as a professor, he placed his desire for our best interests above his own.

In large part because of those choices my father made, my mother was able to stay home with my brother and me, even homeschooling us for several years, which was an immense blessing that enabled me to grow in my faith from a very young age. Later, I attended a Catholic school that instilled in me a deeper understanding of what it means to be Catholic — an understanding that explains how, as an adult, I freely choose to retain and practice the faith into which I was born. That understanding informs my personal life and my work today and leads me to view my career not as a pursuit of ambition but as an answer to a call.

12. More Dan McLaughlin: He spanks the MSM flying monkeys who immediately came to the defense of Zoom-onanist Jeffrey Toobin. From the piece:

Scaachi Koul of BuzzFeed wrote a column on how “Jeffrey Toobin Can’t Be The Only Person Masturbating On Work Zoom Calls.” “I mean, who among us, you know?” she asked. Jonathan Zimmerman of the New York Daily News asked: “Why the resolute focus on this celebrity? The answer has to do with his particular transgression, of course. . . . News flash: Toobin masturbates. But I’m guessing that you do the same, dear reader. Maybe you should stop feeling weird and guilty about that. Then we can all stop making fun of Jeffrey Toobin.”

Then there were the people who just could not bear the loss of Toobin right now. His CNN colleagues Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, who glory in every foible and scandal over at Fox News, bemoaned that Toobin “has been sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election. The reason: He exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues in what he says was an accident. . . . A spokesperson for CNN said ‘Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.’. . . Ordinarily Toobin would be busy covering a controversial Supreme Court confirmation and an election that could end up being challenged on legal grounds.” While it is difficult to report fairly on a story involving your own co-workers, Stelter and Darcy could not spare even a syllable of sympathy for the women exposed to Toobin’s behavior.

13. More Andy McCarthy: He drop kicks the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats who ducked a vote on SCOTUS nominee Amy Barrett. From the piece:

The boycott was a pointless gesture because Republicans had the votes necessary to move Judge Barrett’s nomination forward. It was a radical break with democratic norms, by which we register dissent by voting nay, not by picking up our ball and going home like poorly raised children. Having crossed yet another Rubicon, Democrats will eventually learn, at some point when it really costs them (as has their eradication of the filibuster in confirmations), that what goes around comes around. And practically speaking, the boycott was self-destructive, coming only after the nominee had impressed Americans for two days with her intellect, poise, and good nature. Today, no one much missed them at a committee vote that was a foregone conclusion. Everyone, however, was watching on the two days when the Democrats deigned to show up, and Barrett reduced them to an intramural competition for coveted Ass-Clown of the Year honors.

Therein lies a telling difference between the two parties. To win, Republicans must be sound in pursuing their strategies because the media oppose them at every turn. They are thus fortunate to be led by a superb tactician, Senator Mitch McConnell. Democrats, by contrast, are cheered on by the media in pursuing their strategies, regardless of whether they are sharp or daft. They are thus spared the criticism that disciplines politicians to plan carefully.

If you’re the Democrats, and you’re willing to employ such extreme measures as boycotting hearings to try to stop Barrett, then the time to boycott is when she testifies. The point would be to prevent her from impressing the country with her temperament and legal acumen. By such a ploy, it might have been possible to delay the hearing — and delays that could defer a final vote on Barrett until after Election Day are Democrats’ only realistic shot at killing it.

14. Even More Andy: The case is made for combatting Twitter’s censorship. From the analysis:

No one sensible is claiming that Twitter’s partisan censorship is illegal. Twitter is not the government; it is a private actor. It need not enable free speech. It is perfectly free to be openly progressive in its politics, and to suppress conservative or Republican viewpoints — just as, say, The New Republic is. Twitter has not committed a legal wrong by suppressing a politically damaging story in order to help Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

But when we talk about denying Section 230 immunity, we are not talking about penalizing Twitter. Section 230 immunity is a legal privilege to be earned by compliance with the attendant conditions. If an entity fails to comply, that just means it does not get the privilege; it does not mean the entity is being denied a right or being punished.

To be a mere interactive computer service entitled to immunity from speaker/publisher liability, a platform must refrain from publishing activity — which includes suppressing one point of view while promoting its competitor. Twitter is well within its rights to censor its partisan adversaries; but in doing so, it forfeits the legal privilege that is available only to interactive computer services that do not censor on political or ideological grounds.

To analogize, think of a non-profit corporation. If the non-profit wants immunity from taxation, which is a benefit Congress has prescribed in Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, then it must refrain from supporting political candidates. If the non-profit engaged in that kind of political activism, then it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a single candidate or a steady stream of them. Refraining from all such support is the condition. If the non-profit fails to meet the condition, it has no claim on the benefit, period. That does not mean it is wrong for the non-profit to support candidates, much less that it must stop doing so or stop doing business. It just means that, by supporting a candidate, it fails to comply with the statutory condition and therefore no longer qualifies for the benefit.

15. Michael Johns exposes the Iran Lobby operating here. From the piece:

Yet there is still an American consensus on what the Iranian regime was and is. A Gallup poll released March 3 found that no country is held in as much contempt by Americans as Iran. Among those polled, an astonishing 88 percent have a “very” or “mostly” unfavorable view of the country, a negative impression exceeding even that of Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian North Korea. A 2019 poll also reflected this consensus: 93 percent of Americans designated the Iranian regime’s development of nuclear weapons as a “critical” or “important” threat, and 90 percent placed Iran’s military power as a threat rising to those same categories of urgency. It is true that Americans have reasonable differences on what to do about the Iranian regime’s threatening militancy and sponsorship of terror. But it matters that they do not disagree on the present nature of the regime itself.

Thus one might think that the possibility of the Iranian regime’s having companionable spokesmen in American politics — or, even more outrageously, having a whole Washington, D.C.-based organization with a history of echoing the regime’s positions on the most crucial components of U.S.-Iranian relations — would rightfully concern most Americans. Yet that appears to be precisely what is taking place.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) was founded in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-born dual citizen of Iran and Sweden, former employee at the Swedish mission to the United Nations, and a vocal champion of President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear agreement. Parsi has consistently diminished the magnitude of the threat of the Iranian regime while simultaneously blaming most of the Middle East’s troubles on U.S. policies in the region.

16. Daniel Mahoney scores the Wokester totalitarians on the campuses of Harvard and Middlebury. From the piece:

So where does Professor Schaub’s fault lie, according to her accuser, government major Joshua Conde? Cherry-picking passages from Schaub’s acute and sensitive analyses and offering them as though they revealed a tainted mind and soul, Conde calls her words “ignorant, and deeply concerning” if not “outright bigoted.” His principal “evidence” is a snippet from a splendid article, “America at Bat” from National Affairs (Winter 2010), which in passing laments the decline of black interest and participation in baseball, our once national sport. Writing from personal as well as common experience, Schaub notes that “the experience of things baseball is a legacy from fathers to sons (and sometimes daughters).” She then offers, in an admittedly speculative aside, her “strong hunch” that “the declining interest and involvement in baseball is a consequence of the absence of fathers in the black community,” since “80% of African-American children are raised without a father in the home.” There is nothing intrinsically “ignorant” or racist about this documented fact, nor in bringing it into the discussion, which she does with manifest regret. If it is verboten to mention such disturbing realities, then our civic and intellectual life will suffer terribly. Ignoring such facts and silencing those who bring them to bear in a relevant manner upon problems of common concern is the antithesis of healthy intellectual and civic life.

Fortunately, Harvard University has made no move to act upon Mr. Conde’s demand. Mr. Conde, a very young man (class of ’22), further demanded that Harvard abstain from hiring others “with similar unacceptable views.” This is not the voice of genuine liberalism or the search for truth. It is peremptory, coercive, and committed to closing off discussions before they begin. Mr. Conde tells us that he doesn’t want to feel “uncomfortable.” But the disinterested pursuit of truth, liberal inquiry, and civic debate itself will at times make us feel uncomfortable. That is all to the good.

Capital Matters

1. Socialism kills. Steve Hanke watches Venezuela’s state-owned oil monster circle the drain, and calls for extreme unction. From the outset of the piece:

Venezuela is in the throes of an unprecedented economic collapse. Oil, Venezuela’s lifeblood, is being mismanaged by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the country’s state-owned oil company. Faced with dwindling revenue from PDVSA, the government has relied on its central bank to finance public expenditures. To satisfy these demands, the Banco Central de Venezuela has turned on the printing presses, and, as night follows day, hyperinflation has reared its ugly head again.

In total, there have only been 62 episodes of hyperinflation in history. Venezuela, along with Lebanon, is one of only two countries currently experiencing hyperinflation. Today, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is 2,275 percent per year, the highest in the world.

How could this be? After all, Venezuela has the largest proven crude-oil reserves in the world. At 303.81 billion barrels, they are larger even than Saudi Arabia’s, which stand at 258.6 billion barrels. Considering the extent of the country’s resources, it might strike most people as surprising that Venezuela’s hyperinflation is linked to the mismanagement of PDVSA, a state-owned enterprise (SOE). But PDVSA dominates the Venezuelan economy and accounts for 99 percent of Venezuela’s foreign-exchange earnings. In a sense, PDVSA is the Venezuelan economy, and even by SOE standards, the company is grossly mismanaged.

2. Arthur Herman argues there is a national-security crisis looming over that essential item, the semiconductor. From the article:

Thirty years ago more than one third of all microchips made around the world came out of the American companies that gave Silicon Valley its name (silicon being the key ingredient in manufacturing microchips containing billions of microscopic transistors). Today that number has slipped to only 12 percent — while China is projected to dominate global semiconductor production by 2030. Americans still lead in terms of semiconductor design and innovation. But from the standpoint of making sure the chips we rely on every day, including our Defense Department, are made safely and securely, our national security and economic future hangs in the balance.

Fortunately, there’s a bill pending in the Senate, cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Mark Warner (D., Va.) that addresses some of these concerns for restoring American leadership. Dubbed the CHIPS for America Act, the bill provides an income-tax credit for semiconductor equipment or chip-manufacturing-facility (fab) investment through 2026. The bill also calls for creation of a “Manufacturing USA” institute for semiconductor manufacturing as well as a national semiconductor strategy.

But much more needs to be done. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group and the Semiconductor Industry Association calls for funding up to 19 new fabs over the next decade (right now we have 70). The association would like to see a $50 billion federal investment which it forecasts will create more than 70,000 high-paying jobs and would position the U.S. to capture a quarter of the world’s growing chip production — compared to just 6 percent if Washington does nothing.

3. Biden’s tax plan, says Kevin Williamson, is swill. From the piece:

Who actually ends up paying business taxes is a hot topic in economics, and it gets pretty complicated pretty quickly. To take one example, most economists agree that at least some of the payroll taxes that are in theory paid by employers end up being paid by employees, whose wages are reduced in order to offset the expense of the tax. Inevitably, that kind of cost-shifting falls most heavily upon low-wage employees, who, by definition, have relatively little power in the market. (That’s why they don’t get paid very much.) That’s not the case for, say, LeBron James or a top-flight AI nerd coming out of Stanford.

Just as individual employees may have more or less ability to resist efforts at passing tax costs along to them, so do companies. Many people assume that businesses simply raise prices to pass tax costs along to consumers, but that’s not really true: Businesses such as Walmart and McDonald’s have very price-sensitive customers, and if they raise their prices those customers will go somewhere else. Rolex and Tesla probably can raise their prices pretty easily, as can utility companies and, in many American cities and suburbs, landlords. Starbucks and Costco can’t.

Consumers are not the only parties to whom businesses can pass on their costs. Many businesses do that with their employees, as noted above, but they also do it with other businesses. Walmart may not be able to increase what it charges consumers for laundry detergent and flip-flops, but it can probably decrease what it pays its vendors for laundry detergent and flip-flops, or alter the terms of payment in ways that suit its interests. Because so many companies rely on Walmart for a very large share of their sales, the big retailer has shown itself willing and able to slap around some blue-chip corporate household names. The same is true of Amazon. And when those firms end up having to pay Walmart’s taxes, they do the same thing Walmart does — they look for someone to whom they can pass along the expense: workers, customers, and other businesses. And so it goes, on and on.

4. Paul Krugman is the gift that keeps on giving. Casey Mulligan reviews a summer of lefty fish-mongering. From the commentary:

Throughout the summer of 2020, Professor Krugman opined on the consequences of renewing in-person schooling. I found that remote learning in the U.S. has an opportunity cost of $1.6 billion per school day because pupils learn more effectively in person. While still in the realm of obvious economic results, Krugman agreed that “nobody knows . . . how we can educate America’s children without normal schooling.” Nevertheless, his amateur and partisan theory of disease trumped that assessment. He advised his five million followers that reopening school this fall would “be a complete disaster” that “would kill thousands” as it “disastrously reinforc[ed] the pandemic.”

Israel had an outbreak early in the summer that coincided with its reopening schools. In his opinion, that by itself justified withholding hundreds of billions of dollars of human capital from America’s children. (He showed his followers the series for Israeli cases through August 1, rather than the less alarming trend for deaths). Never mind that Sweden had not even closed schools in the spring, while several other countries reopened (without second waves) before the end of June. Never mind that already in June the American Academy of Pediatrics saw “a much smaller role in driving the spread of the disease than we would expect.” Never mind the promising results from summer camps and daycare centers here at home.

Many schools did in fact dare to open. The Mulligan children were enrolled in a couple of them, which were able to deliver thousands of pupil-days of in-person schooling without a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among students, faculty, or staff. Using a larger dataset, Brown University professor Emily Oster found that “schools aren’t super-spreaders . . . fears from the summer appear to have been overblown.” Krugman had no business stoking those fears with an improbable scenario from outside his expertise, when he knew that the human-capital costs to children of e-learning were enormous and guaranteed.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White swigs the cloying cocktail that is Sophia Coppola’s On the Rocks. A spit take ensues. From the beginning of the review:

Sofia Coppola’s best film, 1989’s Life Without Zoe, was also Francis Ford Coppola’s loveliest trifle, an emotionally buoyant anecdote featuring ecstatic visual elegance (as shot by Vittorio Storaro). That court métrage (short film) was a studio-financed daughter–father collaboration — Coppola père directed, Coppola fille wrote the screenplay — in which a wealthy artist’s only child bestows her noblesse oblige across a glitzy, post-Reagan-era New York City and around the world. The simple plot about an haute-couture schoolgirl (Fieldston private school, of course) who not only solves an international crisis but also saves her parents’ marriage was a fairy-tale distillation of all of Sofia Coppola’s leisure-class concerns. Her new feature film, On the Rocks, is, essentially, a remake of Life Without Zoe.

The similarities of Life Without Zoe and On the Rocks prove that Sofia’s sensibilities have not changed from adolescence to drinking age: Laura (Rashida Jones) is a successful writer and a mother of two daughters, ensconced in a luxurious SoHo loft with an ad-executive husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans). She goes on cocktail-fueled adventures with her father, Felix (Bill Murray), an affluent gallery owner, who urges Laura to spy on, then inadvertently reconcile with, her workaholic sexy spouse. Sexy, because that’s consistent with Sofia’s Sleeping Beauty–Prince Charming fantasy life

If there’s anybody who confirms the essentially bourgeois nature of filmmaking, it’s Sofia Coppola. She has become the icon of contemporary women in cinema ever since her breakout film Lost in Translation (made ten years after Life Without Zoe), thanks to the media’s class bias — middle-class critics who over-empathize with the lifestyle dilemmas of the rich and famous. Lost in Translation presented a meandering American screwball-comedy triangle in which the third-party husband was mostly off-screen while the heroine and a father figure flirted through fashionable alienation in Japan. It was a bourgeois bonanza for privileged feminists, even though it’s always difficult to tell exactly how “feminist” Sofia is when the oppression felt by her heroines is mostly in their heads.

2. Kyle Smith rediscovers Topsy-Turvy. From the beginning of the review:

A bluff, domineering Victorian fellow pronounces the words in a humorless, matter-of-fact tone, as though dictating a legal filing: “If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Japan.” The moment marks a painfully achieved breakthrough halfway through Mike Leigh’s delightful 1999 film Topsy-Turvy, the story of a project — The Mikado — that was not merely a hit but earned a place among the minuscule proportion of hits that endured across the centuries. One hundred and thirty-five years after its debut, Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved collaboration, the one that begins with those gentlemen of Japan introducing themselves, remains a very model of the modern musical theater and is still widely performed today.

Or it would be, if there were much performing going on in the Anglosphere, which is why Topsy-Turvy makes for especially poignant viewing today. (You can watch it free, with minimal commercial interruption, on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.)

The author of The Mikado’s libretto, William Schwenck Gilbert — incomparably portrayed by the brilliant character actor Jim Broadbent in his greatest performance — is, at the outset of the movie, huffing about a lightly damning review of his latest “opera” (today usually called an “operetta”), Princess Ida, which was later more or less forgotten. The reviewer notes that Princess Ida is pleasant enough but “words and music alike reveal symptoms of fatigue in their respective composer and author.” The critic correctly identifies a rut of predictability into which Gilbert has fallen — his topsy-turvy reliance on absurdly contrived, high-concept twists. Later in the film, when Gilbert explains to his partner, composer Arthur Sullivan (a recessive Allan Corduner) that the premise for his next work is a magic potion that transforms the person who takes it into whoever he or she is pretending to be, Sullivan scoffs, “You and your world of Topsy-Turvydom! In 1881 it was a magic coin. And before that, it was a magic lozenge. And in 1877 it was an elixir.” Pause. Gilbert: “In this instance, it is a magic potion.”

3. More Kyle: He likes American Utopia. From the beginning of the review:

David Byrne meets Spike Lee? The combination of talents sounded surprising when the director signed on to craft a television adaptation of the rock singer’s Broadway concert David Byrne’s American Utopia, which just debuted on HBO. Art rocker meets rock-thrower? Whimsy holds hand with rage, and the two go skipping down the street together? I couldn’t picture it.

But Lee turns out to be a fine choice to direct American Utopia: Putting cameras everywhere (including overhead, backstage, and in the wings) and zipping them around, he successfully avoids the trapped-in-a-box feeling of most TV versions of stage shows. Lee’s energetic camera work complements Byrne’s famous nervy, jerky kineticism as the singer leads a troupe of eleven singer-dancer-musicians through a roundup of songs from Byrne’s latest album American Utopia plus a few of his 1980s classics with Talking Heads. For a while, the show is such kooky bliss that it proves a worthy successor to the greatest rock concert film ever, Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense (1984), which like this film begins with Byrne awkwardly alone on a stage that gradually fills up, then overflows, with musicians and music. The effect is unconstrained friskiness, like a wading pool full of puppies. Byrne and Co. — all of them barefoot in matching gray suits with buttoned-down shirts beneath — carry with them cordless instruments that allow them to march, circle, sway, and shimmy in an ecstatically dorky array of moves choreographed by Annie-B Parson, who channels the nerd appeal of Talking Heads in the earlier film.

4. Even More Kyle: Borat gets drilled — in a Borat-y kind of way — for “comedy” that punches down. From the commentary:

Comedy make fun usually mean “punching up” but punching down more fun when you’re Borat-ing. Make ordinary people make foolish by being nice! I ask cake-shop lady write, “Jews will not replace us” on big cake and make smiley faces too! Cake-shop lady do whatever she being told! Maybe cake-shop lady afraid of being sued for denying of service and winding up to Supreme Court, who are knowing? America very stupid, doing whatever wacky foreigner be asking to them. I go to copying shop sending wacky facsimiles to boss of Kazhakstan too. My “daughter” ask Christian ladies can they be driving cars then ask them be dropping panties to touch Virginia! Make merry, America! Then I going synagoguery disguised as Jew with fake foot-long nose and big bag marked “$” to tell some Jews, “Use your venom on me!” and tell Holocaust survivor there was no Holocaustery! Yet Jew woman being so nice to me anyway! You are not being in on the joke? I being such comedy genius I not being sure what joke is myself! Also not for getting the joke when I cough on Forrest the Gump! Me coughing on beloved senior person Tom Hanks, such weirdness, right?

El Rushbo

The great friend of this institution and conservatism, battling Stage 4 cancer, discussed his health this week. From the show transcript:

In a nutshell, there are lots of ups and downs in this particular illness. And it can feel like a roller coaster at times that you can’t get off of. And again, I want to stress here that I know countless numbers of you are experiencing the same thing. If it isn’t lung cancer, it’s some kind of cancer. If it isn’t you, it’s somebody really close to you. If it isn’t an illness, it’s something. We’re all going through challenges. Mine are no better and mine are no different and mine are no more special than anybody else. But it can feel like a roller coaster. . . .

You know, all in all, I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible — and it’s still true.

You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment.

And every day, thus, results in me feeling more and more blessed. Hearing from you, knowing that you’re out there praying and everything else you’re doing, that is a blessing. It’s just a series of blessings. And I am grateful to be able to come here to the studio, tell you about it, and really maintain as much normalcy as I can.

I know a lot of you out there are going through your own challenges, whether it’s cancer or another medical illness or some other life challenge. Maybe even in the hospital right now. Someone told me — I think this is good advice, may be helpful — the only thing that any of us are certain of is right now, today. That’s why I thank God every morning when I wake up.

I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. Commentary turns 75. In the anniversary issue, John Podhoretz and his splendid old man, Norman, discuss what it has meant to be editors at this important bastion. From the piece:

JOHN: Let’s talk about one of the most important articles the magazine ever published, “Jewish Faith and the Holocaust: A Fragment,” by Emil Fackenheim — which has, over time, become one of the key statements about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.

NORMAN: Emil Fackenheim was a very nice man, and he was easy to work with. He knew that his English was not perfect, and he was happy to be improved upon.

JOHN: What was important in the article was its statement of principle that the key requirement for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust was for Jewry to survive. Jews, it says, are forbidden to grant posthumous victories to Hitler. I’m bringing this up because, if I remember correctly, Fackenheim didn’t write that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: You wrote that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: So this is the ultimate editor’s triumph and tragedy. I think this formulation will be quoted 250 years from now when people write about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust. Emil Fackenheim will be immortally associated with this paragraph — he is now already — and he didn’t write it, you wrote it.

NORMAN: But I wrote it on the basis of what he was trying to say. The idea, and calling it the 614th commandment, he hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but he was very happy with it, because that’s exactly what he wanted to say. I’m perfectly happy to have him get credit. I mean they were his ideas, not mine.

JOHN: But it gives you a sense of what an editor does, both at his best, and then also what this selflessness or humility that you mention as a key quality ultimately requires.

2. At City Journal, John Tierney explores the failure of lockdowns. From the analysis:

While the economic and social costs have been enormous, it’s not clear that the lockdowns have brought significant health benefits beyond what was achieved by people’s voluntary social distancing and other actions. Some researchers have credited lockdowns with slowing the pandemic, but they’ve relied on mathematical models with assumptions about people’s behavior and the virus’s tendency to spread — the kinds of models and assumptions that previously produced wild overestimates of how many people would die during the pandemic. Other researchers have sought more direct evidence, looking at mortality patterns. They have detected little impact.

In a comparison of 50 countries, a team led by Rabail Chaudhry of the University of Toronto found that Covid was deadlier in places with older populations and higher rates of obesity, but the mortality rate was no lower in countries that closed their borders or enforced full lockdowns. After analyzing 23 countries and 25 U.S. states with widely varying policies, Andrew Atkeson of UCLA and fellow economists found that the mortality trend was similar everywhere once the disease took hold: the number of daily deaths rose rapidly for 20 to 30 days, and then fell rapidly.

Similar conclusions were reached in analyses of Covid deaths in Europe. By studying the time lag between infection and death, Simon Wood of the University of Edinburgh concluded that infections in Britain were already declining before the nation’s lockdown began in late March. In an analysis of Germany’s 412 counties, Thomas Wieland of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology found that infections were waning in most of the country before the national lockdown began and that the additional curfews imposed in Bavaria and other states had no effect.

Wieland hasn’t published any work on New York City’s pandemic, but he says that the city’s trend looks similar to Germany’s. If, as some studies have shown, a Covid death typically occurs between 21 days and 26 days after infection, the peak of infections would have occurred at least three weeks prior to the peak in deaths on April 7. That would mean that infections in the city had already begun to decline by March 17 — three days before Cuomo announced the lockdown and five days before it took effect.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, the great and dear Onalee McGraw believes a little consideration of Mr. Jefferson Smith would help rebuild America’s moral community. From the beginning of the essay:

Director Frank Capra seemed to possess an unfailing instinct to make films that speak to what is universal and timeless in human experience. In Mr. Smith Capra dramatizes the concept of the “Common Good” — the idea that standards of truth and goodness transcend the personal desires and emotions of solitary individuals. Our care and dedication to the “Common Good” makes us a part of something greater than ourselves. When Jimmy Stewart as Senator Jeff Smith reminds his fellow Senators, “There’s no compromise with truth,” his words transcend partisan political battles.

The struggle between good and evil in the United States Senate that Capra depicts in Mr. Smith is clearly understood by viewers across the political spectrum as reflecting timeless truths about citizenship and living together in a free society. Even in the fractured public square we inhabit today, members of opposing political tribes can recognize our common humanity in the heroic and humble character Jimmy Stewart portrays.

Mr. Smith premiered in October, 1939, a few weeks after World War II had broken out in Europe. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st and two days later, England and France declared war on Germany. As Frank Capra said in his autobiography, The Name Above the Title: “The speed and light of Hitler’s blitzkrieg terrified the free world.”

Although Stewart did not receive the Academy Award that year for Best Actor, his performance was so compelling that the newspapers devoted more space to him than to the winner. Eighty years later, Jimmy Stewart as Jeff Smith continues to symbolize the qualities of leadership and the civic virtues that are essential to the survival of a free society.

4. More TIC: Brad “Double B” Birzer approves of the idea of declaring October “Russell Kirk Month.” From the beginning of his essay:

Alan Cornett has proclaimed October to be “Russell Kirk Month.” I’m not sure that Kirk would approve, but I do. Other special interests get special months. Why shouldn’t the Kirkites and Kirkians get one? After all, imagine (yes, “imagine” is the right word when writing about Kirk) how much good a month of studying Russell Kirk could do with America’s school children. October 1, The Conservative Mind. October 4, Prospects for Conservatives. October 12, Roots of American Order. October 18, The Conservative Constitution. October 24, Old House of Fear. The month would conclude with everyone’s favorite Feast of St. Wolfgang, October 31, and a public reading of “There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding.” I can just hear the dinner table conversations now. “Daddy, we learned about Clinton Wallace today.” “Well, Sally, that’s just fine. Fine, indeed.” And all of America’s public educators would rejoice.

Silliness aside, I’m hugely in favor of Mr. Cornett’s proposal. October is Kirk’s birth month, and Halloween was the highest holy day in his personal life. What better month exists for Kirk’s twilight struggle against the darkness?

Russell Amos Augustine Kirk (1918-1994) is one of America’s foremost and most important thinkers, especially in the desiccated and mutilated 20th century, an era and an age of horrific inhumanities and incessant blood-letting. Kirk stood for a more humane age, an age that valued the dignity and uniqueness of each human person, an age that unabashedly sought the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Kirk should not only be remembered; he should have also never have been forgotten.

5. Even More TIC: Joseph Pearce lays into the arrogant imperialism of the European Union. From the piece:

Berthold Löffler, a political science professor at the University of Ravensburg-Weingarten in Germany, in an interview for the SuedKurier website, spoke of a mindset prevalent among EU politicians from Western Europe towards the people and politicians of central and eastern Europe: “Most Western European politicians feel morally superior to Eastern Europeans and consider Eastern European culture to be backward. They therefore feel entitled to unilaterally define the common values. And they expect Eastern Europe to submit without protest. However, this expectation has met with rejection in Eastern Europe.”

Dr. Löffler, who studied political science and Eastern European history in Tübingen, southwestern Germany, and in the Polish capital Warsaw, said that “from an Eastern European point of view, the EU is a community of values, but the question is who’s supposed to define these values.” Considered an expert on the politics of central and eastern Europe, Dr. Löffler asserted that Eastern Europeans “want to live in their nation states in the future” and argued that Eastern European nations “did not join the EU to swap Moscow’s dominance for lecturing from Brussels.” Having experienced Soviet socialist imperialism, they were not willing to surrender their sovereignty to the new imperialists in Brussels. “This is understandable given their history,” Dr. Löffler added. “These countries have won their independence with great effort and are proud of it.”

Dr. Löffler argued that “the Eastern European approach is fully justified by the ideas of the founding fathers of a united Europe… who referred to the common European roots of Christianity and to the idea of a Europe of homelands, with which the current concept of the EU stands in contradiction.” He then added that “Eastern Europeans see themselves as heirs to the over thousand-year-old common European history.” The problem was that a “sense of moral superiority” prevents “know-it-all” Western Europeans “from seeing that the Eastern European ideas of what Europe is supposed to be are no less legitimate than the Western ideas.” On the contrary, “it may well be that it is Slovakia and Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia that represent the true spirit of Europe.”

6. At The College Fix, Greg Piper reports on a federal judge handing Johnson and Wales University the short end of a due-process lawsuit. From the article:

Last year Johnson & Wales University failed to knock down a due process lawsuit by a student accused of sexual assault that said the Rhode Island school put him through an anti-male Title IX kangaroo court.

Eleven months later, the parties have settled, according to a “stipulation of dismissal with prejudice” filed Tuesday. The docket shows “John Doe” and JWU had a settled conference Sept. 3. As is typical in settlements, the terms were not disclosed.

U.S. District Judge Mary McElroy rejected the private university’s motion for summary judgment just before Thanksgiving last year. That followed an extremely unusual bench ruling against Johnson & Wales a year and a half earlier, where a different judge said “I can’t for the life of me find any other explanation” than anti-male bias for John’s guilty finding.

While narrowing John’s grounds for the lawsuit, McElroy concluded that a “reasonable juror could decide that it is not ‘fair’ to require a student who knows little or nothing to figure out what s/he does not know in order to ask productive questions.”

7. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière writes about the death of free speech in France. From the article:

On September 23, two days before Mehmood’s attack, an article purporting to defend freedom of speech was published in France by 90 newspapers. The article said that “women and men of our country have been murdered by fanatics, because of their opinions… we must join forces,” it added, “to drive away fear and make our indestructible love of freedom triumph”. The article seemed deliberately vague. It did not mention who the murderers were or what might have motivated them.

The day after the attack, several commentators counseled that in France, the love of freedom was not indestructible. They prescribed self-censorship and ventured — unfortunately “blaming the victim” — that those who had decided to republish the cartoons were the ones responsible for the attack. “When you repost cartoons”, Anne Giudicelli, a journalist, said on television, “you play into the hands of these organizations. By not saying certain things, you reduce the risks.”

“When you shock a person”, TV host Cyril Hanouna ventured, “you have to stop. Charlie Hebdo drawings pour oil on the fire”.

The persistence of Islamic danger was not mentioned, except by the journalist Éric Zemmour. Ironically, on the day of the attack, Zemmour was sentenced to a heavy fine (10,000 euros, nearly $12,000) for remarks on Islam in September 2019. He had said at the time that “Muslim foreign enclaves” exist in France. They do. At least 750 of them. He also noted that attacks in the name of Islam have not disappeared and seem likely to increase. The French justice system decided to regard these words as “incitement to hatred”.

After the cleaver attack, no one requested tightening controls on asylum seekers, except, again, Zemmour. He said that “the uncontrolled presence of unaccompanied minors on the French territory is a very serious problem” and that “we must no longer welcome unaccompanied minors in France as long as drastic controls are not put in place”. He recalled that many self-proclaimed unaccompanied minors lie about their age, commit crimes, and turn out to be “thieves and assassins”.

8. At The American Conservative, Brian Anderson reports on the corruption of Biden Inc. From the piece:

Unfortunately, this is a play we’ve seen before. The Bidens have been doing this shady work, and ‘exiting’ from it when convenient, for a very long time.

In 2001, fresh off a plum job in the Clinton administration, Hunter Biden was named founding partner at Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLP. The lobbying firm — on whose website Biden touted his status “a presidential appointee” of Bill Clinton — quickly took on a scattershot of clients ranging from hospitals to universities and, according to Delaware’s News Journal, was known for “specializing in the sort of earmarks doled out by Sen. [Joe] Biden.”

Hunter Biden would go on to personally shape appropriations bills on behalf of clients, and in a short period donate more than $35,000 to federal candidates, including $10,000 to his father’s colleagues who were members of the appropriations committees at the time he was lobbying them.

And it was no secret why Hunter Biden’s first client chose him: Napster, the file-sharing service, was facing a barrage of attacks from Congress — a fight in which his father was expected to play a major role. Joe Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, two powerful entities with unique interests in copyright laws that Napster was under fire for flouting.

The company tapped Manus Cooney and Karen Robb to lead its lobbying efforts . . . alongside, strangely, Hunter Biden.

Whereas Cooney and Robb had extensive experience — serving as the judiciary committee’s most recent chief counsel (including during Napster’s appearance before it two months earlier) and as a staff director, respectively — the younger Biden’s only qualification appeared to be his biological tie to the committee’s former chairman. Just one month after Hunter Biden registered to lobby for Napster on the issue of “compulsory licensing,” the service’s chief executive officer appeared before the judiciary committee, of which Joe Biden was a member, and called on members “to provide a compulsory license for the transmission of music over the Internet.”

Baseballery

The Chicago White Sox suffered through a dreary second-division existence for the three decades following the infamous 1919 World Series scandals, but come 1951, and through the late 1960s, the “Pale Hose” proved to be one of the American Leagues best teams, always chasing the Yankees, and even claiming a pennant, in 1959.

They came close again in 1967, the year of a tense and historic down-to-the-wire race between the Sox, Red and White, the Tigers, and the Twins, the latter two finishing tied for second, a game behind Boston.

Chicago had held onto first place for much of the season: from June 11 to August 12 they led the AL, despite the team having an anemic .225 BA (not a single starter hit over .241!) — but then you can get away with that when your pitching staff records an ERA of 2.45 (the league’s second-best staff, the Twins, gave up 103 more earned runs that the White Sox).

Still, it was not enough to prevail, although it came close. On September 23rd, with seven games left in the season, the White Sox beat up the Indians, 8-0, to put themselves one tiny game out of first — but still in fourth place. They’d prevail again the next day, but it ended with the Sox still a game out, although now in third place.

And then the bottom fell out. Heading to Kansas City to take on the last-place Athletics, Chicago dropped a doubleheader, losing 5-2 in the opener and then dropping the second game 4-0, courtesy of a Catfish Hunter three-hitter.

Still holding a chance, the White Sox bats stayed quite when they returned home for the season-ending three-game series with the lowly, sub-.500 Senators. Skunked 1-0 in the first game on a four-hitter tossed by the Senators Phil Ortega, they could only amass five hits, and again, no runs, the next day, losing 4-0, this time to the left hand of Frank Bertaina. So died their hopes (the Sox closed out the season the next day with a 4-3 loss).

The point of this all was not to bring White Sox fans down a dismal memory lane, but to recall three pitchers from that team which, for that year, had a terrific collection of hurlers, including Gary Peters, who went 16-11 with a 2.28 ERA, and Joe Horlen, who went 19-7 while leading the league with a 2.06 ERA (plus he no-hit the Tigers on September 17th).

But the trio of interest are other guys, pitchers who remind one of endurance, a welcome thing in a game marked today marker by pitch counts: They were Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Tommy John. In 1967, Wood and John were both in the earlier part of their careers. John, who first started pitching in 1963, for the Indians, still had 22 years more to go after the White Sox’s almost-pennant. He would appear in 760 games over his 26 seasons, starting 700 of them, his rebuilt arm compiling a 288-231 record. Wood played for “only” 17 seasons, the first 11 as a reliever, and in three seasons (1968-70) the bullpen ace led AL pitchers in games (88, 76, and 77 respectively). The following season, the southpaw knuckleballer switched to starting (he would only appear in relief 10 more times in his career), and began a four-year string of 20 or more victories. In four consecutive seasons he led the league in games started, in two of those seasons in innings pitched.

In 1972, he started 25 games . . . on two days of rest — a thing unimaginable today.

And finally we come to Wilhelm. The Purple Heart-awarded WW2 vet as an MLB rookie in 1952 (he had first pitched in the minors in 1942) at the ripe age of 29. Come 1967, now 44 and wearing the White Sox uniform, he pitched in 49 games for Chicago, earning 12 saves, an 8-3 record, and a 1.31 ERA. He would still be pitching five years later, ending his storied 21-year career with the Dodgers, two weeks shy of his 50th birthday.

The trio played together in Chicago for one more season before Wilhelm was traded to the Angels after 1968. And that, as they say, is that.

A Dios

There is a little girl, half-a-year-or-so old, named Francesca, who’s pretty as a peach, her face the scene of a thousand-watt smile, but behind it, amok in her brain, is a terrible cancer. The sweet pea is undergoing chemotherapy. We have used this WJ locus before to seek prayers from those who pray, or those who need a reason to reacquire the practice, and today seek such on her behalf. This is a gut-wrenching fight for Francesca and her family, as it would be for any child and any family. One could weep for them, to know of their torments and anxieties. But let us not forget that God answers our prayers. True, maybe not always in the way we mortals desire. But then He cannot answer what is not asked, no? So, to friends Catholic, those who have not abandoned the faith yet despite the herculean efforts of Pope Francis (sorry, couldn’t help it), you are asked to pray for Francesca and her family, for a cure, for comfort, for strength. If you are open to the intercession of one who has gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, the request further asks that you please consider Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus — yes, that group so vilified by Kamala Harris. (Father McGivney will be beatified next weekend in Hartford, CT. For those not of the Roman faith, well, that means Next Stop, Sainthood.) Your Humble Author cannot help but think his soul, surely closely located to the Divine Decision-Making Authority, will amplify all prayerful petitions said on behalf of Francesca. But that said, the prayers of all people from all faiths, regardless of which side of the Tiber your soul calls home, are needed and appreciated (as is your tolerance of This Author’s serial sectarian emphases).

God’s Blessings on the Little Ones, as We All Are to Him Who Made Us,

Jack Fowler, who will share too your prayer requests if sent to jfowler@nationalrevew.com.

National Review

Shaddapp Shuttin’ Up

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Yep, they’re private companies yadda yadda herp derp durka durka . . . thank you übertarians for edjumakatin us dummies. Of course what they — Facebook and Twitter — are . . . are businesses that present and represent themselves as forums for communication, for speech, of all sorts, come one come all and bring your pictures and memes and videos too. But then, for quite discriminate reasons, with rules shady and subjective and invented on the fly, with even shadier algorithms, and neato tricks like shadow banning, these big honkin’ culture-dictating platforms (which enjoy amazingly broad First Amendment protections that come with a side order of gargantuan financial benefits) then seek to control that particular form of speech, political speech, which under our Constitution is considered (used to be, anyway) the most protected form of such.

They are also liberal and left-wing businesses which pluck many of their corporate bureaucrats from the ex-staffer ranks of Capitol Hill Democrats. These highly paid wokelings send much money (98.99 per cent in fact, which sounds like North Korean election results) in political donations to the Big Donkey.

In every which way — and this week to the “every which” was added censoring a New York Post blockbuster about the lucrative Kiev hijinx of Joe and Hunter Biden — these powerful social forces have plopped their heavy mitts and plenty more (like the chubby drunk dude at the Christmas party who sits on the copier to make, well, you know) on the 2020 scales, and have done so in a big way. By censoring. The folks in the Delaware basement, resuscitated after reading the Post slam, surely picked up the Bat Phone, cried for help, and like the good Party Protectors that they are, Twitter Jack and Facebook Mark to the Bat Poles went.

The Good Lord help you if you tweeted a link to that Post blockbuster — the angry Blue Bird of Censorship would have plopped on your noggin as your account went mute. Meanwhile, many in the media actually cheered the drawbridge going up. Whatever it takes to shut you down and shut you up.

Bugs Bunny was once told to shaddapp shuttin’ up. Taken in its sorta double-negative literally-ness, un-up-shutting sounds like something worth doing. Like standing athwart something, maybe even history, possibly yelling . . .  let’s go with Stop!

Add censorship to the things now very worth fighting (relentlessly!) against. Speaking of which . . .

We are in the midst of a major SCOTUS confirmation battle, in which NR has given its consequential all on behalf of President Trump’s exceptional nominee, Amy Coney Barrett; we are in the homestretch of a consequential presidential election, in which NR has been calling bull-doody relentlessly on the leftist Biden — Harris ticket’s 24/7malarky; and . . .

We are in the midst of NR’s flash webathon, seeking a sorely needed $150,000.

Here’s why we need your financial support: Without it, NR cannot fight, and an NR not fighting for conservative principles and against leftist schemes is like a fish that can’t swim, a banana that won’t peel, a dog that won’t hunt. National Review exists to fight. Right now, in particular, to fight for the Constitution by making sure its robed referees are originalists, to fight against partisan censors who use the First Amendment to increase their political advantages, and to fight the growing number of legal academics who have bullied our traditional views of free and unfettered speech because, well, the fettering would increase their power (my word, Charlie Cooke as a great piece on this very point).

NR can only fight with your support. Some colleagues, led by Rich Lowry, have made excellent appeals. We pray that you consider them, that you are moved to help, and that you do so help right here, of course confident of our deep appreciation.

And now . . . to the Jolt Poles!

Editorials

1. The Facebook and Twitter censors blocking for Biden-Harris are called out. From the editorial:

There is no credible reason for this kind of targeted suppression. Over the past five years there have been scores of dramatic scoops written by major media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN that were based on faulty information provided by unknown sources that turned out to be incorrect. Not once has Facebook or Twitter concerned itself with the sourcing methods of reporters. Not once did it censor any of those pieces.

Even today, Twitter users are free to share stories that rely on the Steele Dossier, which includes the Donald Trump “pee-tape” myth, despite the fact that we now know it was likely disinformation dropped into the media stream by a foreign power.

Twitter initially cited its “Hacked Materials Policy” and a “lack of authoritative reporting” as justification for censoring the Post, one of the most widely read papers in the nation. Though the reliability of the story is yet to be determined, Twitter has offered no evidence that any of the information was illegally obtained. No similar standard was applied when the New York Times published Trump’s tax returns, even though anyone who had legal access to them is likely to have broken the law in sharing them with the Times. The newspaper reports that Hunter Biden’s emails had turned up in the hard drive of a laptop that had been dropped off at a repair shop last year. The FBI is reportedly in possession of the hard drive.

2. Pathetic Democratic antics against Amy Barrett went nowhere, but still deserve our opprobrium. From the editorial:

So they used the hearings for two main purposes: to highlight issues that hurt President Trump rather than ones that are likely to cause her serious trouble, and to stroke the erogenous zones of their base. They have established that Barrett believes that some gun regulations are incompatible with the Second Amendment, that she is pro-life, and that she believes that Chief Justice John Roberts stretched the text of Obamacare in order to uphold it. All of these beliefs should be considered marks in her favor.

They have not established — they have not come within spitting distance of establishing — what they are trying to insinuate: that she would find flimsy legal pretexts for junking Obamacare, or would mow down all gun regulations, or would somehow prohibit in vitro fertilization.

Some Democrats attempted to portray Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” as a sign of hostility to gays and lesbians, an effort that fizzled, since the term has also been used, and recently, by leading Democrats and gay publications. Asked about the nontroversy, she said she had meant no offense. She should rest easy knowing no genuine offense was taken.

3. We contend the country needs additional COVID relief from Congress. From the editorial:

The House speaker called the White House proposal “insufficient,” claiming that the president “has not taken the war against the virus seriously.” In fact, the administration’s plan includes an ample $175 billion for testing, tracing, and vaccine programs. The real disagreement comes down to state and local funding, with Democrats taking advantage of the pandemic to attempt a bailout of profligate blue states.

Rather than simply seize on that issue, GOP senators have broadly opposed coronavirus-relief spending. A critical mass of Senate Republicans has come out against the White House proposal because it would add too much to the deficit. While the federal debt remains a long-term concern, it shouldn’t foreclose economic assistance during an unprecedented public-health emergency. No less so because fiscal inaction would, according to Goldman Sachs Research, cut fourth-quarter economic growth in half, reducing long-run tax revenues and exacerbating the debt issue. The protracted economic damage of widespread business closures and high unemployment far outweighs the cost of additional spending, especially at a time of near-zero interest rates.

4. Bill Barr deserves better from President Trump. From the editorial:

In “Russiagate,” the Justice Department can’t seem to find one either, at least not fast enough or high enough up the political food chain for Trump. The president ranted on Twitter last week about the “TREASONOUS PLOT,” and inveighed against Barr in friendly talk-radio interviews over the failure to indict Obama officials.

Trump’s wayward invocation of treason brings the problem into sharp relief. Besides being unhinged political rhetoric, as a legal matter — which is what Barr has to consider — it is sheer nonsense. The presidency is not the nation. A president is a public servant, and a presidential candidate a mere public figure; neither of them is the United States, on whom war must be waged to trigger treason. Under federal law, treason’s close cousin sedition, also touted by Trump supporters as a potential charge, similarly requires proof of conspiracy to use force against the nation and its government.

There’s a reason that the checks against abuses of power in our system are predominantly political, not legal. The discretion to exercise government’s police and intelligence-collection powers must necessarily be broad because the potential threats to national security and public safety are infinite. If a presidential candidate actually was conspiring with a hostile nation against vital American interests, an incumbent administration would have not only the legitimate authority but the duty to investigate, regardless of political considerations. Fear of prosecution after the fact would paralyze an administration, to the nation’s peril. If the executive’s awesome powers are abused, the Constitution arms Congress with the means to discipline an administration and even remove wayward officials from office.

A Bevy of Beautiful Articles Promenading for Your Attention, Your Edification, Your Clicking!

1. Ah yes, if Joe Biden were a Republican, Kyle Smith is sure there would be some very different questions asked of him. From the essay:

Mr. Biden, in December 2013 you took your son Hunter with you on Air Force Two to China, where he promptly introduced you to a businessman named Jonathan Li. Li’s company later gave Hunter a 10 percent stake in an investment fund that now manages some $2 billion. A White House official you worked with told the New Yorker the administration said it appeared that Hunter “was leveraging access for his benefit, which just wasn’t done in that White House. Optics really mattered.” How could you allow this to happen?

Mr. Biden, another Chinese businessman, a billionaire named Ye Jianming, was partners with Hunter on a natural-gas business in Louisiana and also gave Hunter a very large diamond. Ye’s deputy was later arrested in New York on charges of bribing government officials, charges on which he was later convicted. His first call, according to the New York Times, was to your younger brother Jimmy. He also tried to reach Hunter. Do you think you are entitled to allow your family members to profit from your name and connections?

Mr. Biden, while you were vice president in 2010 your brother Jimmy, who had no experience in the construction industry, nevertheless formed a construction company that a few months later was granted a $1.5 billion contract to build housing in Iraq. Isn’t this part of a long pattern of Biden family corruption?

2. David Harsanyi explores the social-media giants’ censorship of the New York Post. From the analysis:

Even as Twitter was banning reporters from sharing the Post’s investigation, or even providing evidence of its veracity, it was allowing left-wing outlets such as the New York Times and Daily Beast to purportedly contextualize it.

The very notion that the establishment media wouldn’t run with hacked Donald Trump emails, if they pointed to possible misconduct, strains credulity. Just a few weeks ago, nearly every reporter on social media was sharing a recording “obtained without authorization” of the First Lady complaining about Christmas decorating — a story that had almost no news value.

By the way, as of yet, no one has really disputed the veracity of the Post’s reporting. Hunter has not claimed that those aren’t his pictures or his emails. Joe Biden hasn’t claimed that he didn’t meet Burisma execs who were using his son. Politico reports that “Biden’s campaign would not rule out the possibility that the former VP had some kind of informal interaction” with the Burisma executive. One assumes that, if the vice president met with a shady oil executive who put his incompetent son on its board, it would not be on the official docket. In a healthy media environment, journalists wouldn’t be dismissing the story; they would be trying to verify it in the same way they try to verify dirt on the president.

Instead, the Biden campaign uses the Twitter ban as proof of the inauthenticity of the story. “Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false and are not true,” says one creative Biden campaign spokesperson.

3. Charles Cooke makes the case for a 28th Amendment to prevent Court-Packing. From the article:

A 28th Amendment setting the Supreme Court at nine justices would follow suit. Moreover, it would serve as a rebuke to precisely the same people and modes of thinking that the 22nd did. The idea of expanding the Supreme Court in order to neuter it was first proposed during the administration of — surprise! — Woodrow Wilson. Wilson never seriously pursued it, but, again, his heir, Franklin D. Roosevelt, did. Admirably, Roosevelt was stopped in his tracks by his own party, which, despite enjoying supermajority control in Congress, dismissed the notion as an enabling act for dictatorship. Rejecting Roosevelt’s proposal in 1937, the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed sure that the idea had been so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.” If the committee turns out to have been wrong, the states should step in and take the option off the table for good. Alexander Hamilton observed that, unlike in the elected branches, life terms represent an “excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body.” But there is, of course, no virtue in this arrangement if judges can be added to the Court at will.

It would be highly appropriate for such a rule to be placed into the Constitution, given that what we are seeing unfurl now in D.C. is not really a fight over the Supreme Court, so much as a fight over whether we should keep that Constitution at all. It is remarkable that it has taken this long to arrive. More than a century has passed since Woodrow Wilson insouciantly announced that the highest law in the land was outmoded and should be replaced, and it is only by chance that his worldview has seeped into the law gradually. FDR may have been repudiated in his attempt to blow up the Court, but, by the end of his life, he had served so long that he had appointed eight of the nine justices, and the “problem” that he was trying to “fix” had largely gone away. Since then, the desire to abolish the Court has been less pressing, either because a majority of justices has been willing to make up the law, or because enough justices have been willing to consider making up the law to give those who wish to “evolve” the Constitution into meaninglessness a shot at getting what they want. Sometimes, it has looked as if that might change, and when it has, the Democratic Party has all but lost its mind. (For examples of this, consider the cases of Bork, Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh.) But, until now, there has been no real danger that the law would be consistently read as written.

4. More Court-Packing: Michael Brendan Dougherty says the reason this has become such a national issue is the too-clever-by-half doings of Chief Justice John Roberts. From the article:

There’s only one problem. The play is running in reverse. A doubtless very different Justice Roberts has been trying to save the Court’s reputation among Democrats for a decade now. The political drama around and within the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings demonstrates that this gambit has failed. John Roberts’ attempt to shore up the legitimacy of the Court has backfired, inviting the very escalation it was calculated to avoid and making him a figure of ridicule among those who would otherwise admire him.

When the question of whether it was constitutional for the federal government to use the Affordable Care Act to compel citizens to purchase a health insurance policy or face a penalty came before the Supreme Court, it came as the chief legislative accomplishment of the first term of the first African-American president, the most popular political figure to emerge in American life since Ronald Reagan. It came with endless blogposts at The Washington Post saying that the whole structure of the Affordable Care Act depended on the enforceability of this mandate and its fines. It also came as the product of humiliating political horse-trading and promiscuous expansions of the authority of HHS over American life — rife with embarrassing drafting errors (a problem for textualists!) and backed by the curious argument that the federal government’s power to regulate interstate economic activity granted the government the power to regulate and punish a very specific form of individual economic inactivity.

Roberts wrote the opinion that vindicated the law, one that everyone else on the Court (and many outside) seemed to disdain. He rewrote the penalty as a tax. He just pretended that something the government probably couldn’t do under the Constitution — compel individuals to purchase items — was something else entirely, levying a tax. He did this to preserve respect for the Court among Democrats. And maybe he hoped that this act of “judicial modesty” would encourage Congress to take up its own constitutional role and defer fewer questions to the Court.

5. Progressives made a big deal campaigning about “nasty women.” Then, Amy Coney Barrett came along, and, as Madeleine Kearns reports, came too the flip-flop. From the piece:

In 2016, during the third presidential debate, when Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman,” progressives launched a feminist movement by the same name. (Never mind that Trump had previously called Ted Cruz a “nasty guy.”) Trump, who has indeed made a number of strange remarks about serious women (for instance about Megyn Kelly’s period) has been a gift to the pushers of the patriarchal-presidency narrative. When Hillary lost, it was claimed by countless commentators to be on account of widespread “misogyny.”

Oddly, however, when Judge Amy Coney Barret came along, the standard mysteriously flipped. As we have seen these past few weeks, there has been a peculiar focus on her personal reproductive choices, with NPR and other outlets commenting on her “large family.” There has been an even more peculiar focus on her appearance, with Katie Hill — author of the feminist book She Will Rise, as well as a former congresswoman who resigned after admitting to being unfaithful to her husband and having a sexual relationship with her subordinate — tweeting, “I hate to be someone who judges women on their clothes but I’m sorry ACB’s outfits are all the way too handsmaid-y.”

Female lawyer Leslie McAdoo Gordon, who has over 25,000 followers, wrote, “Women lawyers & judges wear suits, including dresses with jackets, for work. It is not a great look that ACB consistently does not. No male judge would be dressed in less than correct courtroom attire. It’s inappropriately casual.”

One would think that ACB, a woman who smashed the “having it all” glass ceiling, would, by the Left’s own standards, be cause for celebration. But not so. A male writer for Slate called her “a shameless, cynical careerist who believes nobody can stop her,” cast aspersions on her alleged “traditionalist wife-and-mother persona,” and stated that “what’s wrong with Barrett isn’t that she’s too pious, or that she’s submissive in her personal life. It’s that she’s bent on making herself one of the nine most powerful judges in the country, even if she has to do it in the most graspingly partisan and destructive way possible.” So, just to make sure I’m getting what you know and understand so well, sir — the problem with Amy Coney Barret is that she is too ambitious? Righty-ho!

6. More Kyle: Watching the Barrett hearings, he documents the Insane Clown Posse’s performance in the Moron Theater. From the beginning of the piece:

This week it was A. C. B. versus I.C.P.: Insane Clown Posse. Poised, graceful, unflappable, unbeatable, Judge Amy Coney Barrett sat patiently as one idiotic question after another was flung in her general direction, each time by a Democrat convinced he or she had come up with a “Gotcha!” for the ages. Pat Leahy (I.C.P., Vt.) asked whether a president must obey a court order. As though explaining this to a toddler, Barrett replied, “The Supreme Court can’t control what the president obeys.” Mazie Hirono (I.C.P., Hawaii) asked whether Barrett had ever sexually assaulted anyone and scolded the judge for using the term “sexual preference,” which has just this week been declared offensive by I.C.P. fans but had previously been used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Joe Biden, and many other members and allies of the I.C.P. movement. Cory Booker (I.C.P., N.J.) asked whether Barrett condemned white supremacy, and when she said yes, he said he wished the president would say that, although the president already has said that, and Booker’s wishes are none of the Supreme Court’s business anyway, unless he wishes the high Court to apply the Constitution, which seems unlikely.

Hey, kids! Did you know “climate change” is in the U.S. Constitution? It’s right there in Article VIII, Section 4, right after VIII.3, “White Trousers After Labor Day, Wearing Of” (punishable by life imprisonment without parole, unless you live in Miami) but before VIII.5, “How Long You Are Legally Required to Wait Before Honking Your Horn at the Guy in Front of You Who Didn’t Move When the Light Turned Green” (three seconds, except in New York City, where it’s one-tenth of a second).

7. More MBD. An amazing analysis of social-media giants assaults on the Right, and what’s likely to next come. From the commentary:

One other dead-end response conservatives will launch is to demand that Facebook and Twitter clarify their policies. Explain to us how to stay on the right side of the law. Tell us how to not be Alex Jones. But there is no predictable way to stay on the right side of Facebook and Twitter. They don’t make and stick to policy. They don’t explain changes before they enact them. For years, it has been obvious that social-media companies simply react and respond to the moral panics happening at other media companies. They are terrified of being blamed or, in Facebook’s case, blamed again for Donald Trump. Alex Jones was just a test case. You’re the real one.

Do you think they are acting this quickly, decisively, and creatively to stop the spread of misinformation in Tagalog from President Duterte? Do you think they’re putting in the heave-ho effort in Turkey to keep Erdogan honest? Think they’re putting fact checks on the Malaysian dictator Mahathir Mohamad’s tweets? Don’t kid yourselves that this is about racism or authoritarianism.

What Facebook and Twitter discovered to their horror in 2016 is that elite social-media companies are elite media companies. And there are expectations in their industry. The people they want to employ, and the people that their employees want to impress, belong to the same class as those who work for the New York Times and Washington Post.

Libertarians will tell conservatives that this doesn’t matter. “Build your own Facebook! Build your own Twitter!” But Facebook and Twitter are the most powerful media companies on earth, and most other media companies have become dependent on them. And this is not going to stop with social networks. The next frontier is payment processors. Good luck launching your next direct-to-consumer subscription product when your most passionate fans can’t promote it on Facebook and Twitter and you can’t accept PayPal, Visa, or Mastercard. 

8. Victor Davis Hanson finds civilization fragmenting, and fingers a few of those who are to blame. From the end of the essay:

To paraphrase Sophocles, 2020 saw many strange things and nothing stranger than peak Trump derangement syndrome, COVID-19, a self-induced recession, our first national quarantine, and riots, looting, and arson, all mostly unpunished and uncontrolled, in our major cities.

So we are in revolutionary times, even as we snooze about a recent systematic effort, hidden with great effort by our own government, to destroy a prior presidential campaign and transition, and now a presidency.

We are asked to vote for a candidate who will not reveal his position on any major issue of our age, because he feels to do so would enlighten the undeserving electorate and thereby cost him the election. So we continue to sleepwalk toward a revolution whose architects warped our institutions in 2016–2020, and they now plan to alter many of them beyond recognition in 2021.

Translated, that means that they don’t regret what they did in 2016–2019, only that they belatedly got caught for a brief time.

And so by changing the rules after 2020, they are vowing never ever to get caught again.

9. James Glassman argues that drug price controls will harm seniors. From the article:

A study by the House Ways & Means Committee staff last year found that the U.S. average list price of about 60 drugs was $466, compared with $153 in the Netherlands. While list prices are not what Americans or their insurers actually pay, a most-favored-nation model could easily mean reductions of one-third to one-half.

That may sound terrific for U.S. patients, but a study by the research firm Avalere of an earlier plan that applied only to Part B found that “the vast majority of seniors in Medicare would not see a reduction in their out-of-pocket (OOP) costs” because more than 87 percent of them have supplemental insurance. Big winners? Insurance companies.

The losers are America’s seniors. The best medicines might never reach them. In its own May 2018 blueprint, “American Patients First,” the administration cited a World Health Organization paper criticizing external reference pricing, which stated that index “price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing these policies.”

10. Jimmy Quinn examines how the U.N. Human Rights Council is a haven for dictators. From the article:

During the 14 years of the council’s existence, its authoritarian members have run the show. And after today’s elections to the council, many of them — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba, among others — will re-join the world’s top human-rights advocacy forum, despite their horrendous records on these issues.

It’s a stain on the U.N.’s reputation and a disappointment that the council’s reputation is sullied by these countries and their allies. Truth be told, the council can at times do important work and fulfill its mandate to promote and protect human rights. It oversees a system of U.N. rights experts that by-and-large do excellent work; in fact, this year, close to 50 of them called for an investigation into the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. And during its current session, after U.N. experts released a report detailing the Maduro regime’s “crimes against humanity,” the council held an urgent session on the situation in Belarus.

On the other hand, Venezuela is a current member of the council, with the right to vote on any of the body’s resolutions. The council has also held a special debate on racism in the United States — which is undoubtedly a problem, but one that should be addressed within a liberal-democratic system, not by some of the most openly and deliberately racist regimes in the world. And as the Western world prepares sanctions on the Belarusian government’s crackdown, a Belarusian academic holds the post of special rapporteur on “unilateral coercive measures” (which is to say sanctions). She’s taken up the PR campaign, initiated by authoritarian countries decades ago and accelerated recently, that claims Western sanctions targeting human-rights abusers are the true human-rights abuses that the U.N. system must combat.

11. More UN: It’s Hell-bent on abortion, writes Elyssa Koren. From the article:

Cooperation between the U.N. and the abortion industry is nothing new, but the coronavirus climate has paved the way for increasingly brazen and bizarre alliances. This is a new direction for UNICEF and the World Bank, for example, both of which traditionally have steered clear of overt abortion activism. Although it’s commonplace, it is essential to underscore that U.N. abortion promotion is fundamentally at odds with its institutional mandate. National governments, not the international bureaucracy, should chart the course for the U.N. system.

As long as pro-life governments exist — and there are many stalwart pro-life governments — it is inappropriate and illegitimate for the U.N. to unilaterally advance abortion on demand. In fact, the powerful pro-life voice of the United States alone renders the U.N.’s continual promotion of abortion promotion and this new partnership illicit.

As the U.S. recently articulated in a statement to the U.N.: “There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.” This has been a consistent and frequent stance of the U.S. government, one that has garnered widespread support from countries across the globe.

12. M.D. Aeschliman remembers Malcolm Muggeridge. From the reflection:

As is inevitable with truly great satire, the satirist had become a moralist. Over the four decades from 1920 to the ’60s, Muggeridge increasingly felt the pull of “transcendence and grace” (his phrase). By the ’60s he had become an independent, churchless Christian, and much of his activity and writing in the last three decades of his life were devoted to defending and resurrecting the Christian tradition. He made a series of powerful documentaries for television, including Something Beautiful for God (1970–71) on Mother Teresa of Calcutta; royalties of the book version supplied the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta with their largest source of income for many years afterward. He made a series of films entitled “A Third Testament,” on Saint Augustine, Pascal, William Blake, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, following it with a book (1976). He wrote essays on Simone Weil and Dostoevsky, books on Jesus (Jesus Rediscovered, 1969; Jesus: The Man Who Lives, 1975) and Saint Paul (first as a film with his old Cambridge clergyman friend and don Alec Vidler, retracing Saint Paul’s voyages, then the book, Paul: Envoy Extraordinary, 1972). He drew attention to the survival and prospering of Christianity in Russian and Eastern European anticommunist figures such as Solzhenitsyn, Anatoli Kuznetsov (author of Babi Yar), Svetlana Stalin, and Mihajlo Mihajlov, seeing them in the tradition of Dostoyevsky, whom he venerated and whose The Devils he thought the great, prophetic novel of the 19th century. He had searched for, found, and visited Dostoyevsky’s then-abandoned, untended grave in Leningrad on his way out of the Soviet Union in 1933.

13. Mario Loyola says that finally, there is a light at the end of the pandemic. From the analysis:

Work on a vaccine proceeds apace, and at least two different vaccines could be ready to start mass-production this month or next, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But as my colleague Dr. Joel Zinberg shows in a new report for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a vaccine cannot be relied upon to the end the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including uncertain compliance (a large number of people don’t get the flu vaccine despite the tens of thousands dead every year).

It has been clear for some time that overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic will require a broader strategy of prevention and therapeutics focused on those populations that are at greatest risk of severe disease: the elderly and infirm. COVID-19 is at least six times deadlier than the flu, but its deadliness is extremely concentrated among the elderly and people with certain comorbidities such as hypertension and pulmonary disease. In Indiana, for example, nursing-home residents accounted for 54.9 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. But in other groups, particularly children and young adults, COVID-19 is actually less dangerous than the flu.

Under auspices of the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, thousands of medical-health experts have signed a declaration that embraces “Focused Protection.” The “Great Barrington Declaration” has unfortunately proved greatly controversial, and has even been banned by outlets such as Reddit.

14. From Capital Matters, Douglas Carr offers a lesson on why deficits do matter. From the piece:

That said, deficits may be an efficient way to inject monetary stimulus into an economy. When the economy turns down, private investment is unlikely to immediately draw on monetary stimulus so government borrowing could do so, but monetary stimulus has had diminishing effects for decades, not only in the U.S., but in Japan and Europe as well.

The massive coronavirus intervention by the Federal Reserve, amounting to 15 percent of GDP, may be enough to overcome the headwinds that have made monetary stimulus less effective and is comparable to the CBO’s 2020 federal deficit forecast of 16 percent of GDP. This level of deficit is high enough to make whatever contribution it can to recovery.

Currently, private-sector investment is forecast to jump by Goldman Sachs and others. But higher government deficits could crowd this out. Retail sales are at record highs while August’s trade deficit was near its record (which preceded the great financial crisis) suggesting there is no shortfall of aggregate demand. Third-quarter growth is forecast at 25 to 35 percent annualized, shattering by 50 to 100 percent the all-time U.S. record rate of 16.7 percent. More deficit spending will just get in the way of private-sector recovery, hamper investment, and squeeze U.S. manufacturing.

The government deficit does indeed matter for both present and future generations. What we really owe ourselves and our children is to close it.

Huzzah! The New Issue of National Review Awaits Your Peepers

It’s the November 2, 2020 “Special Election Issue,” all chockablock with wisdom, insight, and debate. If you are an NRPLUS member (not? Well, become one, right now, right here) you can read the entire shebang. That said, here’s a sampler that would make Whitman’s jealous.

1. Andrew C. McCarthy makes the case, “Trump: Yes.” From the essay:

Because Trump is president, and for no other reason, there is a real chance that a solid originalist majority could steer the high court for a generation to come, guided by the vision of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia and anchored by Justice Clarence Thomas’s enduring commitment to the Founders’ Constitution. Because of President Trump’s election in 2016, Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are just two of 218 jurists — adherents to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation models of judicial restraint, rather than the lawyer-Left template of progressive activism—who have been appointed to the federal bench. This includes a remarkable 53 conservative judges added to the all-important circuit courts of appeals, which decide many more cases than the Supreme Court and largely determine the jurisprudence that decides cases throughout the United States.

Donald Trump did that. But it is a transformation that has yet to be solidified. Many of the slots filled by Trump judges were previously held by Reagan and Bush 41 appointees who took senior status or retired. That enabled a Republican president to fill the vacancies, with indispensable assistance from a GOP-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell. To make the judicial branch a bulwark against the unconstitutional overreach and stifling of liberty that a future Democratic-dominated government would portend requires reelecting the president. That is to say, Donald Trump’s candidacy is once again the thin barrier separating what remains of our constitutional order and the very different governing construct that Democrats would impose.

Trump’s candidacy is the difference between retaining the most unapologetically pro-life administration in American history, and having one that would implement a regime of abortion on demand, abortion at late term, and abortion underwritten at home and abroad by American taxpayers. Trump’s candidacy is the difference between having a Justice Department that invokes civil-rights laws to vouchsafe religious freedom, economic liberty, due process on campus, and colorblind college-admissions processes; and having one that contorts civil-rights laws to hamstring police, eviscerate due-process protections, promote the deranged notion of sexual identity as a mental state or social construct, and impose quotas and wealth redistribution based on the insidious “disparate impact” theory of implied, systematic, and institutional racism.

2. Michael Brendan Dougherty scores Joe Biden’s foreign-policy record. He finds a lot of folly. From the analysis:

Biden voted against Reagan’s defense build-up at every turn. He voted over and over to strip funding from the B-2 bomber project. While Ronald Reagan was encouraging the collapse of the Soviet Union through deft diplomacy and an increase of hard power, Biden was racking up high ratings from the Council for a Livable World, a peace-at-any-price group.

It’s not just that Biden is frequently wrong, it’s that he compounds his wrongness on foreign policy with dishonesty and exaggeration — for example, he claimed to be the sole figure responsible for ending genocide in Bosnia. But nowhere is this tendency more apparent than in his record on the Iraq War. In a 2019 interview with NPR, he tried to explain his votes that had been supportive of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. He blamed Bush for misleading him. Bush “said he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program,” he explained. “He got them in and before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’”

Except, Biden had argued since the late 1990s that Hussein would never give up his weapons program peacefully. In hearings before the war, he had openly mocked a weapons inspector, saying that “as long as Saddam is at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program.” He would go on to say that everyone knew that, in the end, U.S. troops would have to take Saddam out. By 2004, though, he was telling the Council on Foreign Relations, “I never believed they had weapons of mass destruction.”

3. Peter Tonguette shares thoughts and recollections on the great Ray Bradbury, his yearning for things simpler, his anticipation of things sterile. From the piece:

Like Kurt Vonnegut, born just two years later (1922) and one state over (Indiana), Bradbury made it his business to speculate about the future but retained a healthy appreciation for the past. Both men were Luddites; Vonnegut railed against the Internet, while Bradbury, a nondriver, declined to participate in the automobile revolution. While the moon landing had no greater fan than Brad bury, his enthusiasm for science fiction often seemed less rooted in an interest in technological advances than in nostalgia for the enthusiasms of his youth. Inter viewed for a documentary on the BBC, he referred to his basement home office as his “nest” — a womblike space filled with magic sets, filmstrips, and other bric-a-brac of a 1920s-era childhood in America. “I’m surrounded by science-fiction books,” Bradbury said. “Comic strips: Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon. All of these things which are my security blankets.”

Despite being a resident of Los Angeles since adolescence, Bradbury again and again permitted his imagination to wander to the Midwest, which he reproduced in his fiction in the form of Green Town, whose residents apparently have it all over Los Angelenos. “Well, he felt sorry for boys who lived in California where they wore tennis shoes all year,” Bradbury wrote in one of his Green Town books, Dandelion Wine (1957), “and never knew what it was to get winter off your feet, peel off the iron leather shoes all full of snow and rain and run barefoot for a day and then lace on the first new tennis shoes of the season, which was better than barefoot.”

Even Bradbury’s works of fantasy and horror, despite their moments of genuine terror and strangeness, depict small-town life as vividly as the work of Booth Tarkington; Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Bradbury said, was a key source of inspiration for The Martian Chronicles. “Wind rattled the empty trees,” he wrote in another Green Town novel, the masterly Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). “Sunlight, breaking through a small rift in the clouds, minted a last few oak leaves all gold.” In The Halloween Tree (1972), Bradbury effortlessly evoked the sheer bliss of All Hallows’ Eve — blissful not for the acquisition of candy but for the sights and sounds and smells. “Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

Some may wonder whether the man responsible for such high-flown, misty-eyed prose has anything to say to readers muddling through the confused, contentious reality of 2020. In fact I remember wondering, when the corona-virus pandemic prompted, or compelled, Americans to withdraw to their homes, whether we might collectively return to Green Town-style virtues for a season — to disconnect from our devices and permit ourselves to luxuriate, as Bradbury did, in the howl of the wind, the rays of the sun, and the aroma emanating from the kitchens of our mothers.

4. Matthew Kroenig finds Gen. H.R. McMaster’s new book, Battlegrounds, to be a gem. From the review:

This may not be the book that we want, but it is the book that we need. After just over one year, McMaster was reportedly forced out of office after clashing with the president on matters of both substance and style. Many will be disappointed that, unlike other former senior Trump-administration officials, McMaster has not written a gossipy “tell all” about his time in the White House. But that would have been a waste of his considerable intellect and experience, which are much better suited for this weightier work.

His central argument in Battlegrounds is that U.S. foreign and defense policy has too often been plagued by “strategic narcissism.” In other words, we see the world narrowly through our own prism and repeatedly view dangerous adversaries as we wish them to be, not as they really are. For example, Washington hoped that China would become a “responsible stakeholder” in the U.S.-led, rules-based international system. In 2015, the Obama administration bet that a nuclear deal with Iran would strengthen the moderates in Tehran and usher in a new era of cooperation with the West. Currently, U.S. officials see the Taliban as a potential peace partner in ending the 19-year-long-and-counting war in Afghanistan. According to McMaster, all of these views were misguided because our enemies have other ideas.

He argues that a better national-security policy would begin with “strategic empathy.” We should see our adversaries as they really are. What are their worldviews, goals, and strategies? And how does the United States fit into their calculation, not the other way around? It is only by first understanding our adversaries that we can begin to formulate effective strategies for dealing with them. He approvingly cites Sun Tzu’s aphorism that “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

This recurring theme holds the book together well without clogging the narrative. Indeed, the book is very well written, weaving in the author’s experience and analysis seamlessly with a recounting of recent history and current events.

The book is studiously nonpartisan and apolitical, as we might expect from a career military officer who swore an oath to serve any duly elected commander in chief. Indeed, in recent interviews, the general has even said that he has never voted because he does not want partisan politics to interfere with his commitment to country.

Lights. Camera. Reviews!

1. Armond White finds What Killed Michael Brown? — the new documentary by Eli and Shelby Steele — to be worth your while, even if it’s not worth Amazon’s. From the review:

Fact is, there is a Michael Brown mythology, as indicated by that Jackie Brown-style title graphic. Perhaps unwittingly, the Steele duo evokes the 1744 English nursery rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin?” This folkloric ditty, about heroism and shifting political power (honoring either the Robin Hood legend or the end of Sir Robert Walpole’s government), derived from the complex human awareness passed down through the ages as a children’s rhyme.

Although the Steeles don’t delve into the folklore of black rebellion wherein successive generations act upon the previous generation’s experience of racism, the Steeles seem keenly aware of the folkloric delusions that attach to historical accounts. Shelby Steele calls it “poetic truth, a distortion of the actual truth.”

Based on the ethics of Shelby Steele’s bootstrap black conservatism, What Killed Michael Brown? is a rare doc that opposes the media’s current trend of fabricating race and “justice.” Shelby Steele rightly suspects that term and so redefines it: “There’s already a framework of meaning in place. You don’t think so much as step into that meaning.” The new, rejiggered excuses and expectations of racialized justice are what killed Michael Brown.

Related: The cancellers at Amazon Prime has denied the Steeles’ video from being carried. David Harsanyi has the pathetic news. Read the Corner post.

2. More Armond: He gives a boo to the new socialism-loving Italian film, Martin Eden. From the beginning of the review:

Millennials need a hero, and the protagonist in the new Italian film version of Jack London’s 1909 novel Martin Eden has been expatriated to fit the bill. The film’s almost unanimous critical reception can be explained by its hero’s infatuation with socialism. Martin (played by Italian actor Luca Marinelli) scoffs at the working class’s naïve, union-based political sentiments until he formulates his own similar, self-serving philosophy.

Martin’s version of layperson urbanity, propelled by his enthrallment with Elena (Jessica Cressy), an educated yet naïve beauty from the wealthy Orsini family, matches those students who take to the streets full of benighted zeal but lacking in real-world experience. Martin reads and interprets Baudelaire his own simplistic way; he’s an autodidact and solipsist who rails against the establishment and despite the odds becomes a literary sensation and political orator. His career reflects the current fashion in ideological groupthink — also a defect of our partisan critical constabulary that has made Martin Eden a film-festival favorite.

But the film’s basic class problem is also an impediment to its popularity. Martin resembles those mainstream media stars who get their reputation from social-media sarcasm, except that the tall, intense actor Marinelli is physically different; he makes for a burly, roughneck poet strutting down the street, often with two books in his manly one-handed grip. Brimming with spleen and ideals, he makes a vow: “Turn myself into one of the eyes through which the world sees. I want to become a writer.”

3. Even MORE Armond: Our fearless reviewer is the author of a new book, Make Spielberg Great Again: The Steven Spielberg Chronicles. Your Humble Correspondent’s copy of this 400-page gathering of essential Armond’s reviews and essays (from four-plus decades of brilliant cinema-viewing) has been ordered, and you might do likewise.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Claremont Review of Books, William Voegeli asks and answers the questions, with details basic and far-reaching, about Joe Biden, The Weak, heading the vanguard of the Wokeletariat. It’s exhaustive and a must-read. From the article:

So what is the basis for these claims about Biden’s electability against Trump?

Two things: the former vice president’s personal decency and political moderation.

“Character is on the ballot,” Biden said in his acceptance speech to the party’s virtual convention, as are “[c]ompassion . . . [d]ecency, science, and democracy.” Democrats and journalists — not readily distinguishable groups — have joined in treating Biden’s decency as his defining quality. His acceptance speech “captured the romance of decency,” wrote the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson. After Biden’s Super Tuesday triumphs, historian Matthew Dallek gushed that the former vice president “exudes decency.”

Concerning moderation, Biden’s career “has been distinguished mostly by careful centrism,” in Osnos’s words. That career encompassed decades when Democrats suffered politically for the Great Society’s failures. Long before President Clinton was triangulating, Senator Biden was actively trying to accommodate skepticism about big government and social justice, skepticism which elevated Reagan and then Newt Gingrich. As a freshman senator worried about reelection, Biden became “the Democratic Party’s leading anti-busing crusader” in the 1970s, the New York Times reported last year. His commitment to this cause included collaborating with North Carolina Republican senator Jesse Helms on an amendment that reduced the federal government’s ability to withhold funds from school districts that failed to meet desegregation benchmarks. “Biden’s advocacy made it safe for other [Senate] Democrats to oppose busing,” wrote the Times.

During his first Senate term, Biden was capable of sounding more conservative than many of his Republican colleagues on the broader question of government’s capacity to effect social reforms. He rejected a full-employment bill co-sponsored by liberalism’s grand old man, saying that Hubert Humphrey “isn’t cognizant of the limited, finite ability government has to deal with people’s problems.” The socialist magazine Jacobin recently scorned Biden as “the Forrest Gump of the Democratic Party’s Rightward Turn.”

2. At Catholic World Report, the great Daniel J. Mahoney examines the Pope’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, and finds it theologically frutti. From the beginning of the essay:

Pope Francis has written an encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on “fraternity and social friendship” that is unique in the history of the genre. It is not addressed to his brother bishops or the universal Church per se, but rather speaks to universal humanity in a manner befitting its broadly humanitarian message.

A cross between an encyclical and a humanitarian manifesto, it invokes the authority of Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and the 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration at least a dozen times, as if to say that the Holy Roman Pontiff is just one religious partisan of global humanity, among others. The encyclical’s presentation of the requirements of fraternal love partakes of humanitarian ideology as much as any distinctive Christian teaching. I say this without polemical intent. In proclaiming “fraternity without borders” and a “politics of love” (#180-182) in recognizing “local flavor” (#143-145) and global humanity as the twin poles of human existence, Pope Francis seems to bypass or overlook the familial and national expressions of fraternity and social friendship, that is to say the common good of a free and decent society.

Pope Francis’s identification of fraternity with humanity as such largely ignores the naturalness of love of one’s own and the dangers of embodying fraternity or social friendship at the level of unmediated Humanity. One critic at Crisis magazine has rightly faulted the pope’s enthusiastic adoption of the French revolutionary slogan “liberty, equality, and fraternity” (#103-111) in seeming abstraction from the totalitarian import of that revolutionary slogan. Pope Francis is surely no friend of totalitarianism, but he never acknowledges that politically enforced fraternity, grounded in abstract sentimentality, can give rise to new and inhuman forms of despotism. A prominent French aristocrat turned revolutionary once famously proclaimed “Be my brother, or I will kill you.” Those words continue to chill the soul and to reveal the essence of revolutionary terror.

The lesson is clear: Brotherhood, devoid of a sense of moral reciprocity and a deep appreciation of the capacity of fallen men for evil, is capable of giving rise to the antithesis of true fellow-feeling and, indeed, to truly monstrous forms of political oppression. But sin and evil are barely acknowledged in this encyclical other than the predictable attack on the “hidden powers” that are alleged to manipulate markets and a liberal economic order. The words are barely mentioned.

3. At the Foreign Policy Research Institute, our amigo grande John Hillen scopes out the dueling visions of Trump and Biden. From the essay:

While President Obama implicitly challenged that consensus with notions such as “leading from behind” and “focusing on nation building here at home,” Candidate Trump came into office with a more forceful rejection of the American role consensus. He pointed out to the American public that the assumptions behind the old foreign policy consensus were all being called into question by outcomes, and he would vigorously re-examine and challenge them. Unconventional Republican candidates had proposed this more nationalist and populist agenda before — Pat Buchanan memorably resurrected the Taft-ian tradition of Republican foreign policy in the 1990s, but these efforts mostly ended up trying to shape the occasional plank in the party platform, not disassembling the post-WWII general foreign policy consensus.

And President Trump held to his promises. On trade, he has broken with a decades-long bipartisan consensus around free trade that has seemed to leave whole constituencies out of its benefits and fuel the rise of competitive states — at our expense in his mind. He has been more skeptical than even hardline Republicans of the past about international organizations, treaty arrangements, alliances, arms control agreements, and diplomacy in general.

While his opponents — I think fixated on his tone and style — have criticized his belligerent tone, for his part, President Trump has claimed to be the peace president and has taken an even more aggressive stance than President Obama (who came to national attention largely as an anti-war candidate) about reducing U.S. troop presence and security guarantees in the Middle East and Afghanistan — and even Europe. And President Trump has asked far more explicitly than administrations past for allies to pick up more of their share of the cost for the enduring U.S. presences overseas.

On the human rights front, presidents as different as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan embraced in their own way what might be called “the freedom agenda”— a central tenet of American policy since the beginning of the Cold War even if subjected to very different tactics by various presidents. President Trump has not shown enthusiasm for this — although it is possible he could find his own way of expressing this long-standing pillar of American policy. And finally, he shuffled the deck on the traditional treatment of allies and adversaries, sometimes seeming to apply more pressure to the former than the latter.

None of this is to say that his foreign policy has been wrong, bad, or unsuccessful. It’s simply to note his break with consensus. On some issues, his very willingness to break with a consensus has sort of unclogged some clogged pipes — and produced results that seemed suspended by the consensus approach. He correctly read not only the mood of much of the American public in 2016 about populist and nationalist themes, but he also was aided by the simple observation that this American-led liberal convergence agenda was not producing the results its architects had promised over the years.

4. At First Things, Kenneth Craycraft explores the hard-core anti-Catholicism of Kamala Harris. From the piece:

Harris’s animus toward Catholicism is not limited to inquisition of Catholic nominees for federal courts, but also extends to harassment of public organizations whose missions are consistent with Catholic moral theology. In using her public offices to advocate against such institutions, Harris has earned broad financial support from pro-abortion individuals and groups.

For example, in 2016, when the Center for Medical Progress exposed evidence that Planned Parenthood was illegally trafficking organs and tissues from aborted children, then California attorney general Harris authorized a raid on the home of CMP’s David Daleiden, seizing video footage substantiating the evidence. Subsequently, Harris’s office conspired with Planned Parenthood, one of her generous political supporters, in drafting bill-of-attainder style legislation against CMP.

Similarly, in 2015, Harris was an enthusiastic advocate of California’s so-called Reproductive FACT Act, which forced pro-life pregnancy centers to inform their clients where they could obtain free abortions and to advertise abortion clinics. Claiming to have “co-sponsored” the FACT Act, Harris praised then California governor Jerry Brown for signing it into law. (In 2018, the Supreme Court struck the law under the First Amendment’s speech clause.) And in 2015, she used her power as California attorney general to put six Catholic hospitals out of business on behalf of another of her political patrons, the Service Employees International Union.

As a U.S. senator, Harris introduced the Orwellian “Do No Harm Act,” the purpose of which is to force religious individuals and organizations to engage in activities that directly violate their firmly held religious beliefs. And she is a co-sponsor of the “Equality Act,” which would force Catholic hospitals, for example, to perform gender transition surgeries, open women’s restrooms to men, and force girls and women to compete against boys and men in athletic competitions.

5. More Claremont Review of Books: John O’Sullivan explains what it’s like to be unfriended by Anne Applebaum, done in her new book, Twilight of Democracy. From the review:

If Applebaum can’t quite identify the causes of upheaval, she’s still more puzzled over why some friends ended up on the wrong side of the barricades. “What, then, has caused this transformation?” she asks. “Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades?”

The rest of her book is an attempt to discover the explanation mainly by interrogating the careers and opinions of those of her friends who have transformed so mysteriously. These interrogations are interrupted from time to time with her own reflections on politics and political theory that may throw some light on the problematic biographies. For example, she sees parallels to some of the new “authoritarians” in the French intellectuals of the interwar years whom Julien Benda criticized in his classic study, The Treason of the Intellectuals (1928), for subordinating the love of truth and beauty to partisan ideologies. These reflections are interesting, and I generally agree with them (though I have always thought Benda could have made a good living using a steamroller to crack Brazil nuts), but they don’t seem to fit, let alone explain, the very different personalities who are the mainstays of the narrative.

That is especially true of the chapter describing the writers, columnists, and politicians around the London Spectator, where Applebaum was their colleague for some years, many of whom were also active supporters of Brexit. They are an exceptionally distinguished bunch, as it happens, including Boris Johnson, Simon Heffer, Roger Scruton, and, ahem, me. I can’t really complain about the portrait of me which suggests a combination of boulevardier (jovial, witty, fond of champagne) and James Bond villain who emerges from behind the scenes occasionally to cast Scotland aside unsentimentally or to move Viktor Orbán around on the international chessboard. But the glaring difficulty about my assistants, Johnson, Heffer, and Scruton, is that there doesn’t seem to be an iota of evidence that they are in any way “authoritarian.” Or that Brexit was an essentially authoritarian idea or development in British politics. Quite the reverse. It was plainly a campaign to restore Britain’s status as a self-governing democracy.

6. At The Red Line, Red Jahnke, the All Things Connecticut guru, lays out the Constitution State’s dismal future, courtesy of the public-employee unions’ chokehold on taxpayer dollars. From the analysis:

No one really knows where the state and the country are headed economically. The good news is that the state’s rainy day fund has grown to $3 billion since 2017. Lamont said he would use most of the fund to close the budget gap.

Just days before, the governor announced his hiring of Boston Consulting Group to find $500 million in annual state savings, primarily from workforce attrition. The goal is to automate or eliminate many job functions, so that the expected retirement before mid-year 2022 of an estimated one-third of the state’s 49,000-person workforce will require the fewest possible replacements.

Of course, Lamont could have saved one-quarter of the savings target by using his emergency powers to cancel the $135 million state employee pay raise last July 1st.

That would have caused employees little pain, as demonstrated by a recently released Yankee Institute study, which found that Connecticut’s state and municipal employees (excluding teachers) are paid about $20,000 per year more than their private sector counterparts. That translates into an aggregate annual premium of almost $1 billion for 49,000 state employees, assuming they and municipal employees enjoy equivalent pay.

This enormous pay premium has persisted for well over a decade. If, during the past decade, state officials had followed a hiring policy of pay parity with the private sector, Connecticut would have saved billions, helping to close much of the huge gap between the $13 billion currently in the State Employee Retirement Fund (SERF) and its estimated future labilities of $34 billion.

7. At Real Clear Politics, Mark Mitchell explores the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters, and finds it revolutionary. From the piece:

Black Lives Matter and other revolutionary groups have gained significant rhetorical advantage by claiming that racism is “systemic.” They insist that racism is embedded “in the DNA” of all American social, cultural, and political systems. If that is the case, then individuals who affirm the moral equality of all people and seek to live their lives according to that standard are nevertheless deeply entwined in racist structures. They are racists and don’t even know it. They have benefited from racist “systems” and therefore are guilty. They must be punished and re-educated. Racist systems must be destroyed. The rhetoric of “systemic” racism makes race guilt unavoidable and revolution increasingly possible. Race guilt is antithetical to reconciliation, peace, or justice. It provides a rhetorical cudgel with which to dominate opponents, and revolution is the means to destroy the current order and usher in a Marxist-utopian paradise.

The modern sophist is adept at constructing jingles and pithy phrases that take hold of the imagination and come to be seen as profound truths even if they are utter nonsense. In recent protests, the phrase “silence is violence” has been employed as a means of coercing individuals to bow to mob pressure. It sounds profound — after all, it rhymes — but it is a vacuous claim masquerading as deep truth. Its purpose is to compel an individual to join the chants of the crowd lest one be accused of condoning, or even participating in, the violence that, we are repeatedly told, is ubiquitous. There is no interest in engaging in rational debate. Modern sophists have no time for such diversions. They have no interest in the truth or in better understanding the complexities of human affairs. They are too busy dismantling the world.

8. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on the Saudis’ exhaustion with the Palestinians. From the beginning of the piece:

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz’s scathing and unprecedented attack on the Palestinian leadership, during an interview aired by Saudi Al-Arabiya television station on October 6, adds Saudi Arabia and its citizens to the growing list of Arabs who regard the Palestinians as “ungrateful.”

During the interview, the prince, a former Saudi ambassador to the US, said that “the Palestinian cause is a just cause, but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust, but its advocates have proven to be successful.”

He accused the Palestinians of cozying up to Saudi Arabia’s foes, Iran and Turkey, and criticized them for accusing the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of betrayal for agreeing to establish relations with Israel.” He also accused the Palestinians of “ingratitude or lack of loyalty” toward Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that supported them for decades.

After the interview, many Saudis and other Gulf citizens expressed support for Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz’s criticism of the Palestinians, with some saying the time has come for a new Palestinian leadership that prioritizes its people’s interests and does not pocket the financial aid sent to them by the Arab countries and the West.

“I believe that the time has come to form a permanent Arab committee under the umbrella of the Arab League to manage the Palestinian issue and conduct face-to-face dialogue with Israel,” said Emirati columnist and political analyst Abdullah Nasser Al-Otaibi. “Today, after this very revealing and frank talk (by the Saudi prince), I strongly believe in the need for the Arabs to find a way to manage the Palestinian issue.”

9. At The College Fix, Kat Mouawad reports on Duke University professors creating a minor in “Inequality Studies.” From the article:

The minor would cover several different courses from the Cook Center, which focuses on taking a “cross-national comparative approach to the study of human difference and disparity,” in conjunction with Duke courses in a variety of fields, according to the center’s description.

However, some professors raised objections about how the minor would balance the minor’s “coherency” with diversity and the “breadth of study,” according to the Chronicle. Others raised questions about the proliferation of minors and overlap with other minors.

The College of Arts and Science currently offers a variety of minors, including minors in African and African American Studies, cultural anthropology, cultural studies and sociology.

Duke University is not the only institution to offer a minor in inequality.

For example, Cornell University offers an Inequality Studies minor. The school described it as “appropriate for students interested in public and private sector employment, policy, and civil society,” and “those who wish to pursue graduate and professional degrees in a variety of fields.”

Baseballery

They have come fast and furious these last few weeks, the deaths of baseball greats, Tom Seaver, Joe Morgan, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Whitey Ford. Rest in peace all.

The Chairman of the Board and the mainstay, along with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, of the Yankees’ amazing pennant-run from 1949 through 1964, local boy Edward Charles Ford first took the mound from the Bronx Bombers in 1950, and registered an impressive rookie record of 9-1, with a 2.81 ERA. His career record — he threw his last pitch on May 21, 1967 in Detroit, with the Tigers’ Jim Northrup earning the distinction of being the last batter faced as Ford’s dependable arm, troubled by circulation problems, finally giving up after 16 seasons — was 236-106, with a 2.75 ERA. His .690 winning percentage is the best in baseball history for pitchers with over 200 wins.

Ford pitched in 11 World Series, earning a 10-8 record for six Yankee world championship teams. His passing prompts thoughts that frequently consume the limited imagination of Your Faithful Author, about how some players serve as special links to quite past and quite future times. We hereby contend that Whitey Ford was one such bridge.

In his rookie season, pitching at Comisky Park on July 30, 1950, in what would have to rate as one of the earliest and indeed worst outings of his career, Ford started but only got one out in the First Inning before being relieved, as the White Sox pounded the rookie for three quick runs on four hits (Ford earned no decision as the Yankees would go on to win the game, 4-3). One of those hits came from future Hall of Famer Luke Appling, who smacked a run-scoring triple off Ford. It would be the only time the two greats would face each other — Appling’s 20-year career, all spent with Chicago, mostly at shortstop, and which never included a World Series appearance, would end that October.

Appling first made it to the Big Leagues in 1930 in mid-September, when he started six straight games for the Pale Hose, gathering a hit in each of them — he’d accumulate 2,749 over his two decades with the anemic Sox, which included two seasons as the AL batting champion (he hit a monster .388 in 1936) and a .310 career average.

The Appling-Ford sweep accounts for 36 seasons. On the back end: Whitey’s last MLB win, a complete game, came on April 25, 1967 against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. In an 8-hitter, the Bronx Bombers defeated Chicago 11-2. The losing pitcher: A young Tommy John. Only 24, he was already in his fifth MLB season, and would have 21 more to pitch by the time he hung up his spikes in 1989. In two of those seasons, 1970-71, while John was still pitching for Chicago, Appling was back in the White Sox dugout, this time as a coach. In the small and childish mind of your Humble Correspondent, that brought full-circle the connection between two Hall-of-Fame greats and one oughta-Hall of Famer.

A Dios

Tip generously. Write and mail a thank-you note instead of an email. And remember that none of the Ten Commandments includes your name with an exception clause.

Would that God Aid Us from Screwing Up of this Last Best Hope of Earth,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your mash notes at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Packing History

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Nope, they didn’t hear from Hill 24 (it’s a pretty good movie, pray TCM shows it again someday), nor did we hear from Kamala Harris when asked directly by Vice President Mike Pence (debate moderator Susan Page couldn’t trouble herself to perform the important task) if she and ticket-mate Joe Biden would say yes or no to court packing. Harris took the opportunity to write a new chapter in history: Contriving a Lincolnian imprimatur for the Democrats’ opposition to Amy Coney Barrett, she time-traveled to 1864, when Honest Abe, we’re told, delayed a SCOTUS nomination to allow for a presidential election.

Too bad it didn’t happen that way. Moderator Page (lacking any Candy Crowley gumption) did not tell the California Senator, “Umm, that’s baloney. And your pants are on fire too.”

Dan McLaughlin — who has emerged as the guru of SCOTUS-Election-Year-nomination history — did see the flames. As he recounts with impeccable authority, the facts from 1864 were quite different from Harris’ . . . fiction (our headline writer dubbed it dishonesty). Here’s Dan’s post from The Corner:

It was impossible to miss how Kamala Harris, like Joe Biden, refused to answer questions about their plans to expand the Supreme Court. But she also misrepresented history.

Harris claimed at the VP debate that Abraham Lincoln refused to nominate a candidate for Chief Justice in October 1864 because “Honest Abe said, it’s not the right thing to do” and wanted the people to vote first.

Lincoln, of course, said no such thing. He sent no nominee to the Senate in October 1864 because the Senate was out of session until December. He sent a nominee the day after the session began, and Salmon P. Chase was confirmed the same day. And Lincoln wanted to dangle the nomination before Chase and several other potential candidates because he wanted them to campaign for him. Lincoln’s priority was winning the election, which was necessary to win the war — and he filled the vacancy at the first possible instant.

Kamala Harris is simply inventing history.

Sorry to mansplain, Senator.

So, why is mum the word when it comes to Biden-Harris admitting to their desire to see SCOTUS packed? Because, as Andy McCarthy analyzes, that media, which postures itself as the guardian of our Republic, won’t call them on it. It’s all quite purposeful. From Andy’s piece:

Why do they do this? Because they are sympathetic to the radical Left. They believe, with good reason, that they need the energy of the radical Left to get elected. They understand that balancing act: They will have to accommodate the radical Left to some degree once in office . . . and if they do that a hair too much, their time in office will be short.

But mainly they remain mum because they know they can get away with it. They know the media, which would hound a Republican non-stop over the most mundane political dodges, or even hound them over ground already trod again and again — Have you condemned white supremacy in the last ten minutes? Yes or No! — will not challenge them in a serious way.

For two straight 90-minute debates, it’s been comical to watch Vice President Biden and Senator Harris not answer the court-packing question. Biden did it peremptorily, on the patently ludicrous rationale that, if he answered the question, it would become an issue. (Note how confident he is that, if he doesn’t answer the question, the media will prevent it from becoming an issue.) Harris tried the smooth-talk approach — Okay, let’s talk court-packing . . . and then blather on about courts but not about packing them — but she is no Obama, so it came off as amateur hour.

Note, however, that Biden and Harris have employed what should be futile stratagems with a decent amount of success: It’s been three weeks now, and they still haven’t had to answer. Why? Because only Republicans and conservatives are pressing the question. Mainstream journalists have not pushed the issue at the debates or on the campaign trail.

Do read the whole thing. If you can’t, because you’re not an NRPLUS member, well, isn’t it high time you became one? The answer is — yes. Fix that here. Now, let us avail ourselves of the bounty that awaits below in this Columbus Day Weekend Jolt.

Editorials

We argue the American people deserved transparency from the White House about President Trump’s COVID condition. From the editorial:

At this sensitive moment, it is of the utmost importance that the White House convey accurate information about the president’s condition. People tend to doubt official assurances about a sick leader’s health status in the best of circumstances, and the White House had limited credibility to begin with. It is now clear that the initial talk of the president having “mild” symptoms was misleading, and the White House physician Sean Conley compounded the offense in his press briefing Saturday at Walter Reed hospital by dancing around to avoid disclosing that the president had received supplemental oxygen. On Sunday, he admitted that he was trying, as he put it, to give an upbeat assessment to match the president’s positive attitude.

This won’t do. The guy in the white lab coat should simply give the public the facts about the president’s condition and treatment and leave the spin to the usual suspects. Meanwhile, the president needs to make it clear that he wants his doctors to be transparent, and waive HIPAA and other doctor-patient protections so they can do so.

Trump’s positive test, and those of the First Lady and a number of close aides, immediately raised questions about White House protocols around the virus. There is no doubt that the president has had a cavalier and disdainful attitude toward masks. He mocked Joe Biden for wearing one so often at last Tuesday’s debates.

Masks may be annoying, even more so because some promote them with such religious zeal, but wearing them, especially when indoors or in close proximity to others, is a low-cost way to at least diminish the spread of the virus. The White House believed that it could dispense with masks because it has a regime of daily testing. We now know the virus can slip through even frequently administered tests (and it turns out the tests used by the White House were prone to false negatives).

A Slew and Smattering of Sharp Stories and Savvy Studies for the Sanity-Seeking

1. Boy oh boy, Alexandra DeSanctis b*tch-slaps “mansplaining” debate commentary. From the Corner post:

Lots of progressives, especially left-wing feminists, suddenly have lots of thoughts to offer about the not-so-secret sexism that apparently motivates men every time they interrupt a woman. The fact that almost the entire media immediately fixated on this line of attack says a lot about how (badly) they thought Harris performed. It’s also evidence of how facile and superficial woke identity politics is.

What could possibly be more condescending than to say to a successful female politician, “You won because the man you were debating interrupted you a few times, and it made me feel bad for you”?

Pence interrupted both Harris and the moderator a few times. He shouldn’t have. Harris herself also interrupted Pence on more than one occasion, and she interrupted or spoke over the moderator. She shouldn’t have. None of this was evidence of sexism. It was, after all, a debate, where there’s generally a bit of back and forth and tension, and everyone expects the candidates to be contentious when attempting to make their point.

Mike Pence treated Harris exactly the way he would’ve treated a Democratic vice-presidential candidate who was a man, exactly the way he treated Tim Kaine in 2016. Harris’s cheerleaders should have more respect for her than to use this foolish argument in her defense.

2. About Joe Biden’s claimed record of defying dictators, David Harsanyi says — it’s invisible. From the article:

It was Obama who capitulated to Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization. “President Obama has made Russia’s W.T.O. membership a top priority for U.S.-Russia relations in 2011,” an administration official explained at the time.

Biden led that effort, telling the Russians in 2009 that it was “time to hit the reset button” after eight years of U.S. antagonism (George W. Bush, who had once looked into Putin’s steely eyes and perceived a “very straightforward and trustworthy” person, had reversed course.) Biden told Medvedev that accession to the WTO was “the most important item on our agenda.” His tough talk included things such as: “For my entire career, when I sat with a Russian leader, I was sitting with one of the most powerful men in the world, and that’s how we still think of you — I mean that sincerely.” Considering the “reset” was based on the notion that Russia was no longer a superpower, I think maybe Biden wasn’t being entirely sincere.

Obama’s famous 2012 debate quip about how “the 1980s are now calling” to ask for Romney’s foreign policy back didn’t merely trigger some gentle mocking on Twitter. The entire Obama foreign-policy crew sought to make a detailed case for why appeasing Putin was important.

Every foreign-policy issue during the Obama years was predicated on a false choice: war and appeasement.

3. Jeanne Mancini highlights Kamala Harris’s radical record on abortion. From the article:

So what can those who respect life expect from a Biden administration? The truth is found in the positions of his opportunistic running mate, Senator Harris. On Wednesday, she should be quizzed and made to take a clear stand on issues that Biden has dodged, including abortion and court-packing.

In September, Senator Harris bragged on a video call about “a Harris administration, together with Joe Biden as the president of the United States.” Days later, at a campaign event, Biden also talked of a Harris/Biden administration. Clearly, Harris would have more power than a typical vice president, making it especially critical for the American people to know where she stands on important issues.

No matter how you slice it, electing Biden and Harris would mean four years in which the unborn are under relentless attack. Unlike Biden, who changed his position on abortion out of political expediency, Harris has used her positions to further the abortion industry and hurt the weak and vulnerable. As California’s attorney general, she took an extremely aggressive approach to this issue, attacking pro-life pregnancy-care centers and citizen journalists looking to expose the barbarism of Planned Parenthood. This fealty to the abortion lobby continued after she was elected to the U.S. Senate, so much so that after she was named as Biden’s running mate, Planned Parenthood spent six figures on an ad proclaiming her “our reproductive health champion for vice president.”

4. Andrew McCarthy reports on once-upon-a-Commie and prominent hoaxer John Brennan’s role in promoting the Russia collusion narrative. From the piece:

I argued in Ball of Collusion that the Trump-Russia probe was not just an FBI investigation. It was based on several strands of intelligence, much of it from foreign intelligence agencies, that came into the CIA. In the early stages, Brennan was the main driver; the FBI’s role became more consequential in the latter stages (particularly when FISA warrants were sought).

By Brennan’s own account, outlined in his congressional testimony and public statements, he played the role of a clearinghouse. That is, he took information from foreign services, put his own analytical spin on it, and packaged it for the FBI. As Brennan put it in House testimony:

I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion — cooperation occurred.

I further explained in the book that, among the vehicles by which Brennan funneled information to the bureau, was “an interagency task force, comprised on the domestic side by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department, and on the foreign-intelligence side by the CIA, the NSA, and the Office of National Intelligence Director James Clapper,” with the Obama White House also kept in the loop. Brennan was the catalyst, and the main FBI player in this arrangement was Strzok.

5. Jimmy Quinn reports on how an “Asian NATO” — comprised of Japan, Indian, Australia, and the U.S. — should be giving Red China the willies. From the analysis:

Pompeo, unsurprisingly, was blunt during the talks in Tokyo. During a speech in which he assailed the Chinese regime’s cover up of the coronavirus and its authoritarianism, he said, “As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion.” But the secretary of state’s counterparts declined to join him in explicitly naming the chief threat to the values that they share.

But while the others preferred to focus on their commitments to the freedom and inclusivity of the Indo-Pacific, that did not obscure the actions that their governments have taken of late to push back against CCP misconduct: India, which has seen a flare up in its Himalayan border dispute with China, recently banned dozens of Chinese apps that it claimed were vectors of influence for the Chinese party-state. Australia has in recent years rooted out foreign interference on its soil — and it provoked Beijing’s ire when it called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. And Japan’s Abe, of course, championed the very concept of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” before it became a staple of American policy planning documents.

Although these U.S. partners remain reluctant to make the Quad primarily and exclusively about combating Chinese influence, the four countries nonetheless seem poised to push forward on these talks with more regularity.

But if the Quad is unwilling to cement this partnership in a more institutionalized way, and if the group champions shared principles but not an explicitly anti-CCP message, what good can it actually do? Quite a bit, actually.

6. Because newspapers are so toadying to the Democrat Party, Isaac Schorr finds their candidate endorsing to be a pointless ritual. From the piece:

Part of the problem is that there was never any doubt as to which candidate would secure the Times and Post’s support. The former has not endorsed a Republican since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The latter has never backed a GOP candidate for president. Their endorsement announcements come not as products of well-reasoned debate among an ideologically diverse group of thinkers, but as stagnant inevitabilities from an insular class of left-wing crusaders. Consequently, the endorsements are not dependent upon who the major party candidates are, what experience they bring to the table, or the policies they espouse. It’s a ritual, not a choice.

And the quality of their editorials on these matters suffer as a result. Honest appraisals of the Republican and Democratic visions are nowhere to be found, replaced by vapid wish-casting and villainizing. The Times asserts that Biden will re-instill the American people with confidence in our institutions, but he won’t even commit to opposing partisan court-packing efforts. He respects science, but supports on-demand abortion at any and every stage of development while demurring that there are “at least three” genders. He’ll purportedly entrust powerful positions in his administration to competent, qualified people, but he invited Kamala Harris — who aspires to become, as my colleague Cameron Hilditch put it, “queen of the post-constitutional remnants” of America — to join him on the Democratic ticket and promises to put perennial candidate Beto “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” O’ Rourke in charge of his administration’s gun-confiscation efforts. They say he has an impressive record of accomplishment in the Senate, but the only accomplishment that merits a mention is the Violence Against Women Act — parts of which were thrown out as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And that’s to say nothing of their aforementioned whitewashing of his abysmal foreign-policy record.

For its part, the Post parrots the Biden campaign’s talking points by deeming him “deeply empathetic” and rewrites history by calling Harris — who has not yet spent four full years in the Senate — the most qualified pick possible. In fact, it was made quite clear by Biden’s primary-season promise to pick a woman and Senator Amy Klobuchar’s pleas to pick one of color that Biden valued not qualifications but rather the “right” identity when choosing a vice president.

7. Pat Toomey will not seek reelection to the Senate in 2022. Jim Geraghty pays tribute to a great conservative. From the Corner post:

It’s hard to begrudge Toomey the decision to hang it up after two six-year terms. He turns 59 later this year. He’s done a lot of what he wanted to do in his ten years in the Senate, and the longer-term prospects for shrinking the size and spending of the federal government don’t look terrific, whether it’s a second-term of Trump, President Biden, or President Harris at some point in the future.

Toomey chased Arlen Specter out of the GOP early in the 2010 cycle, won two extremely hard-fought Senate races in a state that is purple at best, and is probably about as fiscally conservative as they come. (With one exception, Toomey was a full-spectrum consistent conservative, particularly considering he represented a swing state.) Lots of folks adopted the Tea Party as an identity to get elected; Toomey was for controlling spending long before it was popular and long after everyone abandoned it. Toomey doesn’t have a bad relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell or other GOP Senate leadership, but he doesn’t always agree with them, either. He’s wonky, cerebral, serious, and data-driven in a political era that doesn’t reward any of those traits. Much has been made of the Republican’s troubles in the suburbs in recent years. Back in 2016, Toomey carried Bucks County, 52 percent to 46.5 percent. His buttoned down, calm, even-keeled style reassured the soccer moms and white-collar commuters.

8. The trio of Jay W. Richards, Williams M. Briggs, and Douglas Axe find that the lockdowns had an effect that may be best described as bupkus. From the analysis:

How long? New infections should drop on day one and be noticed about ten or eleven days from the beginning of the lockdown. By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).

To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.

The lockdowns can’t be the cause of these transitions. In the first place, the transition happened even in places without lockdown orders (see Iowa and Arkansas). And where there were lockdowns, the transitions tended to occur well before the lockdowns could have had any serious effect. The only possible exceptions are California, which on March 19 became the first state to officially lock down, and Connecticut, which followed four days later.

9. Trey Traynor finds there will likely be unintended consequences that will catch short vote-by-mail advocates. From the piece:

Make no mistake, if the 2020 election continues beyond Election Day into litigation to determine a winner, the primary focus of all the parties will initially be the elimination of mail-in ballots that do not meet the numerous statutory requirements to be counted. Mail-in ballots are the low-hanging fruit in an election contest and the easiest way to put the true outcome of an election in question and thereby allow the courts to determine the winner. This situation is easily remedied by Americans simply showing up at the polls and voting in person.

Real-life examples from congressional primaries in the past few months forecast the many failings of mail-in voting. Note that mail-in voting is different from legitimate absentee and military/overseas voting, although recent reports show that even those votes are subject to mistreatment and potential loss.

On the surface, “vote-by-mail” sounds like a quick and easy way for every registered voter to participate in our democracy. In reality, it opens the U.S. to fraudulent elections on a massive scale that will probably result in invalid results, contested elections, and delays lasting weeks, if not months.

For example, New York State’s congressional primary was held on June 23. One congressional district did not have an official winner until August 4, and several competitive races took almost a month to finally settle. The delay in results is entirely the result of mail-in ballots. Similar problems have occurred this year in Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, and Georgia. Nationally, more than 500,000 mail ballots were rejected during this year’s primary season alone.

10. Court-packing, argues Charles C.W. Cooke, is a form of tyranny. From the commentary:

It is almost impossible to convey in words the monstrous enormity of what is being proposed, and yet it cannot be the case that our journalists lack the vocabulary with which to discuss it. For four years now, almost everything that President Trump has said and done has been met with language of the utmost urgency. We have heard about “shredded norms” and “threats to democracy” and “creeping fascism.” We have been warned that we are flirting with “totalitarianism” and “dictatorship” and even “concentration camps.” We have heard comparisons to Reichstag fires and the “secret police.” We have been told “This is not normal.” We have been informed that political parties that “ignore the law” are to be shunned. We have been regaled with lurid accounts of how nations decline. Often, this has been deserved, and, even when it has not, it has been justified on the grounds that free people remain free by acting prophylactically against encroachments. Now that it is the Democratic Party doing the threatening, however, the prose has become tentative, prosaic, and dull. Has there been a national recall on thesauruses?

Equally unlikely is that the lack of interest is the product of a lack of concern for the courts, for, when President Trump has criticized judicial decisions — or, worse, individual judges — he has been rightly lambasted. In a typical piece in The Atlantic, Garrett Epps described Trump’s verbal attacks as part of a “sordid war,” lamented that “the independent judiciary hasn’t faced such a direct attack since the Jeffersonians,” warned readers that we’re headed toward “mortally dangerous constitutional territory,” encouraged Americans to fall into “uproar,” and asked whether Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch would see fit to stand up against Trump’s rhetoric. If not, Epps inquired, “who will speak up for them when their time comes?”

One might now ask the same question of The Atlantic, which has started running pieces in favor of Court-packing, and of everyone else who has refused to engage. If, as Epps proposes, it was crucially important that John Roberts denounce Trump’s rhetorical provocations, surely it is utterly critical that the media and the legal profession assail the Democrats’ concrete threat until it is no more? We now have a series of prominent political figures who are not merely criticizing the Supreme Court but promising to destroy it, along with a presidential candidate who refuses to say whether he is on board — and still the matter is covered as if it were a minor dispute. Why? There is no honest calculation by which it can be more alarming for a president to rail impotently about judicial decisions than for the core of a political party to threaten to destroy the entire settlement.

11. More Court Packing, More Harsanyi: David argues the Democrat scheme — which has deep roots in the party’s progressive DNA — will destroy the judiciary. From the article:

Today, every instance in which Democrats are denied a political victory is immediately transformed into a national “crisis” in which the public has “lost faith” in a system that worked perfectly fine when they were in power. Not that long ago, self-interest was a motivation for defending deliberative politics and republican order. But these days, undeterred by reality, partisans have convinced themselves they’ll be in power forever.

It’s not merely the progressive fringe that demands Democrats blow up the courts. It is the partisan, self-proclaimed defenders of “norms.” In a recent piece in The Atlantic, the nation’s leading periodical of intellectual anti-constitutionalism, Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey argue that “if Republicans continue the smash-and-grab approach to confirming Barrett,” court-packing “may be the only way for Democrats to save the Court.”

The duly elected president and the duly elected Senate are observing the constitutionally stipulated guidelines for placing a highly qualified jurist on the Court. Someone will need to do a better job of explaining how dismantling the Court will “save” it. Now, perhaps if you’ve lost the ability to differentiate between ends and means, the idea makes intuitive sense to you. Perhaps you nod along as Biden spuriously argues that Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is nothing more than the exploitation of a “loophole” to undo the Affordable Care Act, ignoring the fact that we don’t know how she’ll rule on the Obamacare lawsuit (and the fact that either way, Obamacare isn’t some untouchable edict handed down from Mount Sinai). But back here in the real world, we know that court-packing would be far more destructive to our political order than anything Donald Trump has done, Barrett’s nomination very much included.

12. California is a place of embers, but, as Victor Davis Hanson writes, its governor is focusing on . . . reparations. From the column:

When fires raged, killed dozens, polluted the air for months, consumed thousands of structures, and scorched 4 million acres of forest, the governor reacted by thundering about global warming. But Newsom was mostly mute about state and federal green polices that discouraged the removal of millions of dead and drought-stricken trees, which provided the kindling for the infernos.

When gasoline, sales, and income taxes rose, and yet state schools became even worse, infrastructure remained decrepit, and deficits grew, California demanded that federal COVID-19 money bail out its own financial mismanagement.

In a time of pandemic, mass quarantine, self-induced recession, riot, arson, and looting, the California way is to borrow money to spend on something that will not address why residents can’t find a job, can’t rely on their power grid, can’t drive safely, can’t breathe the air, can’t ensure a high-quality education for their children, and can’t walk the streets of the state’s major cities without fear of being assaulted or stepping in excrement.

So it is a poor time to discuss reparations, even if there were good reasons to borrow to pay out such compensation. But in fact there are none.

13. Woke staffers at the Guggenheim Museum, reports Brian Allen, has gone batty. From the report:

“A Better Guggenheim” describes itself as a “collective of Guggenheim staff, past and present.” It’s got a website and an Instagram account, publishes a newsletter, offers job guidance, and, more to the point, demands that the trustees of the museum fire the museum’s director, chief curator, and chief operating officer.

Richard Armstrong, the director, “nurtures a culture of racism, sexism, and classism” at all the Guggenheim branches, the collective tells us. He has endorsed a work environment that’s “fundamentally unsafe” to employees. He has breached the museum’s and the Art Museum Directors Association’s code of ethics. He’s “atavistic.” Fred Flintstone, they’re coming after you next. Lucky for Tarzan, he’s not a museum director.

Armstrong said two exhibitions about Hispanic women artists had “a lot of Latina flair,” suggesting he believes that too much of a good thing is, well, too much. He prioritized new bookcases for his office while the lowest-paid curatorial staff worked in cubicles. That’s classist, I guess. That’s life, too, kids. Suck it up, he’s the director.

The collective is “dismayed by the Guggenheim’s failure to affirm the most basic fact: Black Lives Matter.” This statement is linked to BLM’s website, which continues to be cleansed of its most extreme positions, such as support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement, abolishing police departments, limitless immigration, racial quotas, and a socialist economy.

14. Cameron Hilditch contemplates J.R.R. Tolkien, sorta-anarchist. From the Corner post:

According to Tolkien, the main malady afflicting political language is euphemism. Orwell made a similar point in “Politics and The English Language,” but he didn’t fasten onto the issue of names the way Tolkien does. “Government” is nothing more or less than a huge apparatus built to threaten and inflict violence upon people within a given locality. In democracies, we elect the people who threaten and inflict this violence upon us, but it’s still violence all the same. Tolkien is making the point that our thinking about politics would be a lot clearer if it reflected this fact; that government is, at bottom, a process whereby certain individuals wield coercive power over others.

Euphemisms such as “the state,” “the government,” “public spending,” and “public services” mask this fact by drawing a veil of impersonal and lofty neutrality over the state that obscures what it actually does. That’s why getting “back to personal names” is so important. If, instead of saying “I’m filing my tax returns,” Americans were in the habit of saying “I’m forfeiting my property to Donald, Nancy, and Mitch at gunpoint,” we might start to think about taxation, and government in general, a lot differently.

15. The stakes are high, says Rich Lowry, so is it too much to ask President Trump to rise to the seriousness of the challenge? From the column:

The warnings from the right about the potentially existential stakes of 2020 often inveigh against Republican pundits critical of Trump yet never get around to urging any correction on the president’s part. Indeed, even as Trump, too, talks in dire tones about the consequences of a Biden victory, he doesn’t seem to have absorbed the message.

If the existence of the country itself is on the ballot, why not prepare better for debates? Why not use Twitter exclusively for messages that advance his cause rather than detract from them? Why waste any time on petty animosities and distractions? Why not write down a health-care plan and a COVID-19 plan to blunt Biden’s most potent issues?

Why not, in short, do a few things that are uncomfortable or unnatural in the cause of, you know, saving the country from imminent political destruction?

Of course, by this point, even asking these questions seems naive, although there were times in 2016 when Trump modulated his behavior enough to make a difference.

16. The headline of the analysis by Ed Haislmaier and John Goodman says it all — “Public Option Health Plans Haven’t Lowered Premiums.” From the article:

As these examples show, when competing on a level playing field, public option insurers offer little or no savings relative to private insurers. For a public option insurer to enjoy a significant price advantage the government would need to rig the market in its favor not only by requiring doctors and hospitals to participate, but also by forcing them to accept lower fees than those charged to its competitors. Indeed, such provisions are included in the public option bills sponsored by congressional liberals.

Yet all the benefits of competition begin to vanish if government tilts the scales in favor of one rival over another.

Some lawmakers tried to make a public option part of the original Affordable Care Act. Although they failed in that effort, they succeeded in including something similar: non-profit co-operative health plans with boards that did not include representatives from the conventional health-insurance industry.

The experience of the co-ops has been one failure after another, even though they initially received generous government subsidies not available to their competitors. Of the 23 co-op plans created under Obamacare, only four still survive — a 79 percent failure rate.

17. This Missive’s Author penned a piece on The Corner, recommending a most-worthwhile video/podcast from the Napa Institute featuring the great Hong Kong dissident, Jimmy Lai. Find the links here.

Capital Matters

1. Because we need to be retaught this time and again, Christos Makridis says that regulations are the enemy of the middle class and job-creation From the article:

Using data spanning every occupation over time, we show that a 10 percent rise in regulatory restrictions is associated with a 5.3 percent rise in STEM employment. Increases in regulatory restrictions are also associated with declines in lower- and middle-skilled jobs. That’s important, given that non-STEM jobs have historically served an important role for the middle class, creating opportunities for upward mobility and family stability. This marks one of the important unintended consequences of greater regulation.

Unlike prior studies that have sought to quantify the effects of regulation, our analysis uniquely isolates the responsiveness of STEM employment, relative to its non-STEM counterparts, to changes in regulation within the same sub-sector over time. This helps avoid concerns about spurious factors like overall changes in technology or a growing demand for the digital workforce.

What explains the link between regulation and STEM employment? Not surprisingly, we show that increases in regulation are associated with greater compliance costs. In this sense, the data suggest that firms, especially in financial services, hire STEM workers at least in part to automate more of their organizational activities, which reduces the scope for human error and raises the overall value of the business. In fact, according to some estimates, the market for regulatory technology (or “RegTech”) is expected to grow from $4.3 billion in 2018 to $12.3 billion by 2023.

In sum, the surge in regulation accelerated the shift toward STEM employment in financial services, adversely impacting many lower- and middle-skilled workers who traditionally relied on these jobs.

2. Mike Watson warns that electric vehicles will drive America’s manufacturing economy off the road. From the beginning of the piece:

Electric cars are quickly attaining a status in American culture previously reserved for mothers, Marvel movies, and apple pie: Everyone likes them. As the first presidential debate showed, Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on hardly anything, but they set aside partisanship when it comes to electric vehicles. Tesla’s stock has skyrocketed 400 percent this year, and Wall Street is showering even obscure brands with money. But danger lurks beneath the glowing headlines. China’s industrial policy prioritizes electric autos, and many Americans fear that the United States will lose out in this sector.

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) just released their plan, titled “The Commanding Heights of Global Transportation,” to regain the lead. The authors of the plan, which was signed by former Pacific Command chief Admiral Dennis Blair, lay out a comprehensive roadmap for winning the competition with China over our energy future by subsidizing electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, 5G internet and rare earth minerals. In doing so, they illustrate exactly how hard industrial policy will be going forward.

Their primary objective is to preserve the American automotive and truck-manufacturing industry. This is a worthy goal: Although fond reminiscences of old Chevys and Fords can lead discussions about the auto industry into unenlightening nostalgia fests, auto production is important for the United States. Millions of Americans owe their jobs to car manufacturing, which contributed over $500 billion to GDP last year.

3. Daniel Tenreiro explains why the Coronavirus-Relief legislation talks collapsed on Capitol Hill. From the piece:

So why would Republicans refuse the deal? It all comes down to the main sticking point: federal assistance to states and cities. Pelosi’s bill provides $500 billion in state and local funding and an additional $225 billion to public-school systems — more than double what Republicans are willing to agree to. And as with previous rounds of negotiations, Democrats have attempted to avail themselves of the recession to eliminate the cap on state and local tax deductions included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. National Review’s Kevin Hassett, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, estimates that the amount of assistance in the bill totals five times the revenue lost by states and localities from the COVID recession.

Cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are starting to feel the squeeze. New York’s bonds just received a downgrade from credit-rating agency Moody’s, even after the city cut $1 billion from the police department. California is facing a deficit as high as $54 billion, in addition to the seemingly insurmountable holes in its public-pension system — all while growing numbers of residents leave for low-tax states such as Texas and Arizona. Whereas tax hikes might have been feasible in the days of unlimited SALT deductions, they would now have the effect of accelerating the exodus from coastal cities.

It’s a nightmare scenario for Democratic governors long cleared of fiscal responsibility by the SALT deduction, mortgage deductions, and a handful of other backdoor subsidies to high-income states.

4. Charles Bowyer and Jerry Bowyer argue that Netflix’s production of Cuties merits shareholder activism. From the article:

Leaving aside for a moment the immorality of featuring this film — particularly in the way it was marketed — it was clearly a bad decision on Netflix’s part purely from a business perspective. According to data research company YipitData, Netflix saw a dramatic spike in cancellations after the story broke. Over the course of September, when the controversy over Cuties was particularly fervent, Netflix underperformed the NASDAQ technology sector, dropping by 5.6 percent compared with -3.7 percent for the NDXT.

As for how it happened, given that these decisions are likely made internally within Netflix’s marketing department, it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure, but it does illustrate the necessity of viewpoint diversity at big-tech firms. Would Netflix have designed a marketing campaign in this way if there were, say, some conservative Christians involved in the decision-making process? The lack of any programs to promote diversity of viewpoint at Netflix, or big tech generally, is at least partially to blame here. The reaction to this film has largely been one of outrage and disgust across the political spectrum, so care should be taken not to uniformly blame “the Left” for Netflix’s marketing of Cuties. But the campaign was using a political angle, by casting the child dance crew as a release from conservative family traditions. To be clear, the “conservative family traditions” in the film are those of traditional Islam, such as polygamy, but Netflix opted to use vague and politically charged language that conjured up orthodox religious values in general. Evidently, some employees at Netflix thought they could increase user engagement by portraying the sexual exploitation of minors as simply another bold act of defiance against conservative traditions as a whole. It is a reasonable assumption that a conservative marketer would not have gone down the road Netflix’s current team did.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Kyle Smith finds Red, White and Blue “biographically inaccurate and unsatisfying as drama.” From the review:

In effect, Red, White and Blue, which is based on a true story, is a remake of Serpico with race rather than corruption creating the dividing line between one idealistic cop and all the others. As Al Pacino’s Frank Serpico did in the Seventies, Boyega’s Leroy finds groups of chattering cops falling silent when he walks into the room, gets left nasty anonymous messages, and learns that the loneliest of men is a cop who calls for backup but finds none forthcoming. McQueen paints a vivid portrait likely to resonate widely in this season of anger with the police, but, as with Mangrove, the film is more of a polemic than a story. At an hour and 20 minutes, it seems to end before its third act. As it is, Red, White and Blue merely reaffirms a depressing reality: When an entire system is sick, no single individual, no matter how brave or well-intentioned, is likely to be able to make much of a difference. Casually racist remarks in break rooms, supervisors who urge Leroy to think of the community he supposedly serves as “a jungle,” and unnecessarily harsh treatment of suspects clarify what Leroy is up against. As we’ve seen in many previous honest-cop movies, the hero must choose a side: Either try to police the police or learn not to raise a fuss at departmental misconduct. If you do the former, you won’t last long as a cop. Moreover, you’re putting your life in danger.

2. Armond White watches Antebellum and finds the screen filled with race-hustling. Oh yeah: He drops the hammer on Janelle Monae. From the review:

Monae told a Variety podcast, “I didn’t know if this film [Antebellum] was life imitating art or art imitating life,” adding the usual prattle about “white supremists [sic]” and “systematic oppression.” Her facile political stances are as superficial as her cosmetic ruses and cartoonish costumes. She sings and dances in that narrow space between hip and histrionic — on the verge of moral schizophrenia. That’s the state of mind belonging to race hustlers who stave off the guilt of their success. They feel entitled to it, telling themselves it is for the good of the race, then demanding that the white world bow down to them. And guilt-ridden whites, in both the craven music industry and Hollywood, comply with the neo-blackmail.

Monae’s persecution complex directs everything she does and has ruined her showbiz potential. (She was almost inspiring in Hidden Figures.) It could be a generational thing, or it could also just be an affectation. But the proliferation of rotten movies like Antebellum tells us this repugnant self-righteous pop movement isn’t over yet.

Consider: Janelle Monae is not Josephine Baker, the legendary Negro performer who left behind American prejudice to become the toast of European exoticism — the Beyoncé of the Roaring Twenties. Monae epitomizes dime-a-dozen Black Lives Matter types like that program’s sexually disgruntled black female founders whose acrimony is based in deep-seated bitterness, an angry response to not-belonging. Baker made her way out of an enervating world into a different one, but Monae represents a new brand of race celebrity who, no matter how much acclaim and acceptance come her way, operates from a stance of resentment (unlike Kanye West’s singular mode of imaginative defiance).

3. More Armond: He finds in the rubble of David Byrne’s American Utopia a ruined pop icon. It’s the price of collaborating with Spike Lee. From the beginning of the review:

David Byrne’s American Utopia repudiates the beloved Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. In that 1984 release, director Jonathan Demme pared down the preppy New Wave group’s dance pop to its aural and visual art-rock essentials, revealing the discrete elements that make up pop music and heterogeneous American culture. Band leader David Byrne was able to combine his intellectual humor and his fascination for funk tribalism with Demme’s humanist worldview. Demme’s self-effacing cinematic sophistication transcended the sociological embarrassment about white funk that American Utopia puts full frontal.

The repudiation that occurs here owes to the white guilt and shame that has overtaken Millennial liberals — to the point that Byrne has rethought his past cultural globalism. Borrowing beats and rhythms from international cultures make the American Utopia project (album, Broadway show, and, finally, film) a post-Trump oddity. Although the president, formerly a hip-hop icon, goes unmentioned, American Utopia nevertheless responds to the fact that his 2016 election rattled liberal confidence — Byrne explicitly apologizes to Black Lives Matter during the film’s climactic musical number.

This qualifies as self-repudiation because for the first time in Byrne’s career, he stoops to make blatant political commentary in his art. The opening overhead shot of a starkly decorated stage with a desk and a chain-link curtain demarcates the performance space for an ensemble of diverse prancing musicians. All barefoot, dressed in unisex pantsuits like Byrne himself, the self-abnegating gray motif serves to blend — and not offend — racial and sexual difference. The minimalist décor in Stop Making Sense was stripped down, this is stripping away.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Quillette, Samuel Kronen reflects on Shelby Steele and his prescience. From the piece:

In Steele’s view, the explanation of black underachievement has its origins in the moral fall from grace of the 1960s when racism was first stigmatized out of polite society. For the first time, a critical mass of whites became conscious of their historic privilege and complicity in racism in ways that transformed the larger culture, while a critical mass of blacks came to identify with their historic victimization. It can be difficult for modern sensibilities to appreciate just how new this development was at the time. It started a perpetual motion machine of white guilt and black power politics that set the terms of America’s implicit racial contract. Ever since, both whites and blacks have developed unconscious patterns to guard their sense of racial innocence. A significant strand of white American culture projects a sense of guilt about the plight of blacks to dissociate themselves from the stigma of racism, and a significant strand of black American culture compels an angry militant pose to win concessions from white society and dissociate from the stigma of inferiority. White guilt is black power; they are the same phenomenon.

Steele argued that this mutual need to feel innocent of history keeps Americans stuck in the past and prevents race relations from making real progress. The guilt-complex of many whites prevents a frank conversation about issues afflicting segments of the black community, reflexively blaming racism for everything from homicide rates to fatherless homes to academic achievement gaps. Meanwhile, Affirmative Action and other diversity programs are introduced, not to help their ostensible beneficiaries, but to dissociate institutions from the stigma of racism. It’s about innocence, not uplift. On the other hand, the victim-complex of many blacks encourages them to keep whites “on the hook” for racism and ultimately mitigates the need for personal responsibility or cultural change. If racism is everywhere, always, what’s the point of trying? It’s an excuse for failure. The upshot is that both groups have a vested interest in the continuing existence of racism to justify their own moral identities. This helps explain the fanatical obsession with elevating any incident or event that carries the whiff of racism into the national spotlight.

To move beyond this racial impasse in our culture, Steele contends, race must be rejected as a means to innocence and power. Indeed, the whole effort of the civil rights movement was to reject identity as a means to power. What passes for anti-racism today accepts the basic premises of white supremacy by injecting melanin with moral meaning. What we need, according to Steele, is a revitalization of individualism in our society — an emphasis on black autonomy as against the historical determinism of the cultural Left, and an American humanism that appreciates our common bonds as citizens over racial and ethnic differences. This means discarding all forms of race essentialism and separatism.

2. At Law and Liberty, Daniel J. Mahoney and Richard Reinsch discuss the new Liberty and Justice for All” project. Listen to the podcast here. From the From the transcript:

Well, they did overshoot because they engaged in what the political theorist, Gerhart Niemeyer once called a total critique of the West and a total critique of America. And total critiques are always tied to totalitarianism because total critiques, demand negation and destruction. So they did overshoot and people have begun to notice. Now, I don’t for a second believe Nikole Hannah-Jones and the ideologues as the participants in the grievance industry around her have changed their minds at all. It’s just that they are worried that their project will be less the source of a new orthodoxy if the more egregious ideological claims remain. But look, when Charles Kesler early on during this revolution published a piece in the New York Post called “The 1619 Riots,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, tweeted that she was proud of that. In other words, this is the same woman who said when we destroy property we’re not committing violence.

We know the amount of property damage and the violence that accompanies that, it is a form of violence but other even more incendiary forms of violence accompany it. They are stepping back a bit I mean again, the trained Marxists, the ideologues who inspired and lead BLM are still trained Marxists, are still committed to the deconstruction of the family, still hate capitalism, still believe in an ideological Manichaenism where blacks and LGBTQ people are all innocent by definition and forever, and where whites and others I suppose Jews are forever guilty. So nothing has changed. But I think after four months of audacity, violence, mayhem, and the utter silence of the political class and of the Democratic party, a good part of the country is waking up. You could see it in the declining support down from 66 to 44%, I think for BLM, people are now making distinctions we made four months ago between an affirmation that all black lives matter and all lives matter, and the claims of the BLM movement.

So I think we’re in a better place now, even than when I wrote my “Culture of Hate” piece in July or late July I felt very alone and I really was stunned by the whole silence of the conservative political class, even more so the Republican party. And I think people are beginning to see, and they’re beginning to see in part, because the idealogues push so hard so quickly, so boldly, so nihilistically that it’s almost impossible not to see despite the censorship by the mainstream media. You know, if you just watch MSNBC and CNN, you would not know that our city was on fire. You simply wouldn’t know.

3. At The Spectator USA, our dear friend David Pryce-Jones pens a gorgeous reflection on his once-home, as war approached: Royaumont. From the piece:

A year or so ago, I went back to Royaumont, together with Helena Bonham Carter, the actress and the daughter of my first cousin Elena. A film company had selected Helena among others to make the point that their grandparents had lived in more dangerous times than they did. I was part of the family wartime story of escape that Helena was about to tell. The sun was shining when we arrived, and it seemed improbable that I could ever have lived in this grandiose and genial setting.

The Phony War lasted for the first five months of 1940. Nothing was happening: perhaps tomorrow there’d be no war. My father, already in the British intelligence services, had to attend a course at Cambridge, and my mother wanted to be with him. She had been brought up by a nanny who had stayed on at Royaumont. Born in 1872 in the village of Horspath, now virtually incorporated into Oxford, Jessie Wheeler had been my mother’s nanny and took charge of the four-year-old me. She had much the same determined look as Queen Victoria in old age, and her opinions were the same as Churchill’s.

Also in the house were its owner, my uncle Max, his and my mother’s elder sister Helene, and Helene’s husband Eduardo Propper de Callejón, a secretary at the Spanish embassy in Paris. Their two children, Philip and Elena, were a little older than me.

In the middle of the night, Max arrived with dramatic news. As I describe in my autobiography Fault Lines, we had to leave. There was no time to lose, the Germans had broken through and would soon be here. The government had fled from Paris to Bordeaux. In a car flying the Spanish flag, we joined what came to be known as the ‘great exodus’, as most of the population from the north of France took to the roads in cars, on bicycles, even on foot carrying suitcases. For a while afterwards, mothers were advertising for their child that had gone missing. The nation had collapsed. Quite why the French proved unwilling to fight is still unclear, but the shame of it conditions the national psyche.

Helena hardly knew her grandfather Eduardo. It was strange — to say the least — to be sitting drinking coffee in one of the downstairs rooms of the Palais in order to analyze what sort of a man he must have been, just as we might have done if there had been no war and we were only gossiping.

4. At The Wall Street Journal, William McGurn was right about underestimating Veep Mike Pence. From the column:

Our opinion-shaping class appears to expect that Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, will wipe the floor with the mild-mannered vice president. Don’t bet on it. Yes, in the first Democratic primary debate Ms. Harris put Mr. Biden on the ropes. But she never matched that dominating performance in subsequent debates, and she had a hard time answering questions when Mr. Biden started firing back. After an explosive start, she flamed out and withdrew from the race before a single vote had been cast.

Unlike Ms. Harris, Mr. Pence’s advantages are all the understated ones. And unlike Mr. Trump, the words most often used to describe the vice president are “calm” and “measured.” Those who have watched him know his aw-shucks Midwestern demeanor serves him well in debates.

This is how Mr. Pence prevailed the last time he was on the debate stage. In 2016 Hillary Clinton’s veep pick, Sen. Tim Kaine, took more or less the same approach Mr. Trump took last week, badgering and interrupting Mr. Pence to try to make him answer for Mr. Trump’s more provocative comments. It didn’t work. Even the New York Times conceded in a headline that “Commentators Give Edge to Mike Pence.”

What one observer called Mr. Kaine’s “over-caffeinated” style, the Times article suggested, had backfired against Mr. Pence’s Hoosier imperturbability: “Commentators and critics said Mr. Pence successfully played defense for 90 minutes, dodging, denying and ultimately appearing more stately as he handled an unenviable challenge with remarkable steadiness.”

5. At The College Fix, our old paisan, Christopher Tremoglie, explores the hypocrisy of law school profs when it comes to Amy Barrett. From the beginning of the article:

When Mitch McConnell stonewalled President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee four years ago, 350 law professors signed a letter urging the Senate majority leader to give Merrick Garland a “prompt and fair hearing and a timely vote.” The Senate was failing its “constitutional duty” otherwise.

Now that President Trump has nominated another jurist for the high court in an election year, how many of those law professors will publicly stick by their analysis with a Republican administration?

Four, it turns out.

The College Fix reached out to all 350 professors from Sept. 23 through Oct. 1 to ask if they would similarly call on the Senate to hold a hearing and vote on Amy Coney Barrett, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Thirty-six responded, with the vast majority giving similar explanations of why Barrett doesn’t deserve the same treatment they sought for Garland.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Lawrence Franklin makes note of Red China’s latest efforts at “assimilation” of oppressed minority populations. From the beginning of the piece:

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping doubled down on his professed policy of ethnic assimilation on September 26 at a two-day party conference on Xinjiang.

In reality, the CCP policy in Xinjiang of “assimilation” resembles more the forced unity of cultural genocide. There is ample evidence that these same repressive policies are being applied in several other Chinese territories where ethnic minorities are prominent. Similar “assimilation” programs presently are being implemented in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China’s northeastern province of Jilin.

These “assimilation” projects were kept under wraps until they were abruptly revealed upon the opening of the new school year on September 1. The principal feature of the “assimilation” program in ethnic areas is the eradication of native languages as a medium of instruction. All courses in minority regions are now taught in Mandarin, the principal language of Han Chinese who comprise about 92% of the population.

Inner Mongolia, about twice the size of California and home to approximately 4 million Mongols, exploded into unrest when parents discovered that their children would no longer be taught in their native tongue. Parents forcibly entered schools to remove their children. Protests engulfed the regional capital, Hothot, with about 300,000 students boycotting classes; some of the students joined the demonstrations and security forces arrested thousands of protestors. The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRISC), a New York-based Mongol human rights organization claimed that nine teachers and students committed suicide to protest the new regulations. Many students fled into the remote plains and mountains and were pursued by security search teams. Students who were caught have been separated from parental care. Many supporters of the boycott were fired from their jobs.

7. At the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Jay Schalin recounts the activities of cancel culture warriors targeting Portland State University’s Bruce Gilley. From the piece:

One such situation is occurring at Portland State University in Oregon. The political science department has rewritten its by-laws to distance itself from professor Bruce Gilley. Among the changes is the creation of a process for making statements of condemnation against department members whose work offends a consensus of the department.

Gilley, who is tenured, is no stranger to controversial research. In 2017, he published an article titled “The Case for Colonialism,” in which he suggested that European colonies in the Third World were both beneficial and legitimate, as they generally increased the local standard of living and were often supported by a significant portion of the local population.

Obviously, such a hypothesis goes against the academic zeitgeist; it was considered deeply offensive and decried throughout academia and elsewhere. The editor of the journal that published it, Third World Quarterly, even resigned his position out of fear for his physical safety.

However, Gilley was neither cowed nor chastened by the criticism and threats directed at him. He has continued to write articles questioning the accepted orthodoxy in his field — and has added activities such as defending free expression on campus, calling for the reform of university governance, and speaking out on matters of public policy. As can be expected, these pursuits are not ingratiating him on campus and off any more than his 2017 article did.

But the question of whether an author is deserving of academic freedom does not rest on whether people like the idea expressed; unpopular opinions are an important reason why free speech and academic freedom protections exist in the first place. Rather, academic freedom is afforded to scholars because their work meets standards of rationality and method. Or, in some cases, it may be denied because their claims are unnecessarily venal.

Baseballery

Many a pitcher has had a great a season, but who was the best in that legendary Year of the Pitcher, 1968. In the NL, the Giants Juan Marichal, may have had more wins (26), and in the AL, Detroit’s Denny McLain thrilled the baseball world with his 31 victories (accompanied by a 1.96 ERA), but most would regard the king of the mound that year to have been the great Bob Gibson, the ferocious and competitive righthander who passed away this September.

Truth be told, 1968 did not begin all that smoothly for the future Hall of Famer. Gibson didn’t earn his first win until the end of April, and a month later, despite a devastating 1.52 ERA, his record stood at 3-5. Then came an amazing tear: Gibson won his next 12 starts, each of them a complete game, 8 of them shut-outs. Only 6 earned runs were allowed during the stretch. Come July 30, his record had ballooned to 15-5, and his ERA fell to a microscopic 0.96. When the season ended, his record was 22-9, with a 1.12 ERA. In September, he picked up 3 losses — all of them one-run decisions (including a 1-0 loss to the Giants on September 17th, a no-hitter dealt the Cards courtesy of Gaylord Perry).

That year Gibson would earn the first of two Cy Young Awards. But there was a low pointamidst the glory, and it came on the season’s last day, when Gibson, the MVP of the 1964 and 1967 World Series, and contending for a third, with two brilliant wins already in the 1968 Series against the Tigers. But the Baseball Gods frowned that day: He was the losing pitcher in Game 7, as Mickey Lolich picked up his third victory and a championship for Detroit.

Back to the regular season: In his June run, Gibson pitched five consecutive shutouts. But for a few inches, there could have been a sixth: On Monday, July 1, in a night game at Dodger Stadium, in which the Cardinals prevailed, 5-1, the only run that Los Angeles scored was courtesy of a Gibson wild pitch.

On the mound that night for the Dodgers was another Hall of Fame hurler who helped 1968 earn its special distinction for pitchers: Don Drysdale. The intimidating and towering righthander set a MLB record that spring with six consecutive shutouts, starting with a 1-0 squeaker on May 14 at home over the Cubs, and ending on Tuesday, June 4th, again at home, when he three-hit the Pirates in a 5-0 victory (one of the shutouts came against Gibson and the Cardinals on May 22nd).

It’s worth noting that Gibson’s second Cy Young was earned in 1970, when he led the NL with a 23-7 record (and a 3.12 ERA). Not too shabby (as pitchers go) handling a bat (Gibson was a lifetime .206 hitter), that year he hit an impressive .303. He also won yet another Golden Glove (Gibson earned nine over his career).

By the way, Drysdale could hit too: He smacked 29 home runs over 14 years.

We pray they are both together, in a happier place, a field of dreams, having a catch then resting in peace.

A Dios

A loyal reader of this weekly undertaking contacted the Author to admonish him. Why? For not seeking prayers for POTUS and FLOTUS and all others who work at or visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and picked up COVID. Well, maybe not admonish. But there was a healthy dose of (deserved?) disappointment delivered, despite an explanation: It was a timing thing. It was. Alas, the mustard was not cut. Penitent, let us end this week’s missive with a heartfelt request for their continued recovery.

Would that The Almighty Bestow on You and Yours Penetrating Graces,

Jack Fowler, who will accept admonishments on all sorts of matters if emailed to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Xi-sus, Mao-ry, and Chou-seph!

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

Smokes of Holiness, the Chinese Communist Party has translated that once-forbidden book, The Bible, and in doing so has taken more liberties than the crew of an aircraft carrier that’s been at sea for a year.

Cameron Hilditch reports on the Monstrosity of All Re-Writes. We’re confident that you will most definitely not confuse it with the King James version of the Word of God.

In the new Commie edition, of which we know little, we do know this of a famous parable: Jesus himself casts the first stone to clobber the adulteress:

The CCP “translation” reproduces the story more or less word for word — up until the point at which Jesus is left alone with the woman whom the Pharisees had dragged before him. Events then take an altogether bizarre and diabolical turn:

When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.”

You read that right: In this telling, Jesus gets rid of the crowd so he can have the pleasure of bashing the woman’s skull in himself.

Needless to say, this alteration is blasphemous and offensive to Christians, but we would do well to understand why the CCP has decided to make it. The story of Jesus and the adulteress is clearly impermissible to the Party in its original form. Though everything up until Jesus is left alone with the woman can be assimilated, their final exchange is disqualified, replaced by something not just tolerable but useful to the CCP. Such points of divergence between the CCP Bible and its source material tell us a lot about what the Politburo sees as the irreconcilable differences between Western and Chinese civilization.

Imagine what He does with the money changers at the Temple — Xi’s flunkies at the Ministry of Truth have probably slipped the Lord an Uzi and some flash grenades. Loaves and fishes? Who’s taking bets that, in Mao fashion, the crowd is allowed to starve. The Wedding Feast at Wuhan?

The ChiCom Bible. Now, nothing is unfathomable. Other than Your Humble Correspondent rooting for the Red Sox. It’s been a wild week and is getting wilder, and speaking of getting, let’s be getting on to the Jolt.

Editorials

1. Biden refuses to unpack his position on SCOTUS-packing. We say the voters have a right to know. From the editorial:

We suspect that if Donald Trump were proposing to amend the 1869 Judiciary Act in order to install a set of friendlier judges on the nation’s highest court, the problem with the idea would be evident to almost everyone. But one does not have play “imagine if” in order to grasp just how appalling a notion this is. Up until now, it has been tried only once in American history, by a newly reelected Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite Roosevelt’s party controlling 74 of the 96 seats in the Senate and 334 of the 435 seats in the House, it failed. The Chairman of the House Rules Committee called it “the most terrible threat to constitutional government that has arisen in the entire history of the country.” This “measure,” wrote the 1937 Senate Judiciary Committee, “should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.”

From Joe Biden, a simple “no” would suffice.

Why does Biden not offer that answer up? After all, if he were to reject the idea, there would be no “issue” to discuss.

2. Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptional SCOTUS nominee. From the editorial:

The Barrett-specific arguments against confirmation are, if anything, weaker. When Barrett was up for her current appellate judgeship in 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein attempted, notoriously, to portray her as a religious extremist who could not be trusted to apply the law without bias. At that time Barrett said, “I see no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.” As a law student more than 20 years ago, she co-authored an article arguing that a judge who opposes the death penalty on religious grounds might have to recuse himself in certain cases. Note, however, that even in that theoretical case, her view was that the judge should not try to force the law to comply with the dictates of her faith. And she has not seen any need to recuse herself from death-penalty (or abortion or immigration) cases.

Some progressives are trying to portray Barrett’s views on the force of precedent as radical, but this effort depends on willful misreadings of her work. Justice Clarence Thomas has made a strong case that the Supreme Court is too stubborn in sticking with mistaken precedents. Judge Barrett has not said that she agrees with him, that she thinks the Court has it right, or that her view lies somewhere in between. Moreover, this complaint rings hollow coming from progressives who want the Court to overturn its precedents on free speech, religious liberty, and the right to bear arms.

3. Republican trust-us claims on Obamacare reform don’t quite cut it. From the editorial:

Republicans now have three basic choices in answering the question of how they would help people with pre-existing conditions if they replaced Obamacare or courts invalidated it. The first would be to promise that they would reenact Obamacare’s stringent regulation and provide subsidies for those who need it to afford the high premiums it necessitates — essentially re-creating a lot of Obamacare. The second would be to promise to enact continuous-coverage protections of the type they proposed in 2017. And the third would be to do nothing, telling people with pre-existing conditions that they are on their own (even though the paucity of cheap, renewable catastrophic policies is largely the result of government policies).

Our preference would be the second option. The Trump administration, unable to decide among these options, is instead, effectively, promising to choose among them at some future date when the courts have struck down Obamacare or Republicans have unified control in Washington. That refusal to choose lets the Democrats hang the third position around Republican necks while also doing nothing to dislodge Obamacare. It also lets Democrats say that Republicans are dodging the question instead of leveling with the voters. Which is, unfortunately, true.

Gloryoski! Another Bundle of Brilliant Articles to Fire Up the Ol’ Conservative Intellect

1. Like Antifa? David Harsanyi believes Joe Biden is an idea. A terrible one. From the piece:

Instead, we hear how Biden’s feckless opportunism is moderation. Biden himself likes to drop a prefabricated line contending he was the one who beat Bernie Sanders, signaling to moderates that his candidacy prevailed over extremism. Why would someone whose campaign stemmed the scourge of collectivism co-sign a 110-page Menshevik-Bolshevik Unity Pact? (I exaggerate only slightly.) Maybe when Chris Wallace is done digging into the vital right-wing militia matter, he will investigate.

In the past when candidates made outlandish promises to their base during the primary, they would move back to the center. There is no center anymore. There is only Trump. And because of the press’s abdication of basic professionalism, Biden, the empty vessel, can concurrently hold any position that suits you.

It was Trump, for example, who brought up the Green New Deal during the first debate — the massive multi-trillion-dollar attack on, yes, cars, airplanes, your food, your house, and modernity in general. Biden casually claimed that it is “not my plan,” though it says, quite unmistakably, in his “Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice” that the Green New Deal is the “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” Instead of fact-checking Biden, the same Washington Post that once ran a headline that read, “Joe Biden embraces Green New Deal as he releases climate plan,” corrected Trump, asserting that, “Biden has never supported the Green New Deal.”

Rinse and repeat on fracking and “defunding the police.”

2. More Harsanyi: A reflection on the oft-mocked “But Gorsuch . . .” mindset. From the piece:

Was the Trump presidency worth it for conservatives? History will tell. Considering the accelerating radicalism of the modern Left — evident in the feverish reaction to Barrett’s nomination — the Court is clearly going to be more important than it has been in years.

Will it help Trump win in 2020? I’m no prognosticator, but politics has to be about more than always situating the party for the next win. Occasionally you’re going to have to fulfill promises. These justices fulfill the wishes of the vast majority of the Right, sans a handful of Trump-obsessed former conservatives.

Nor should it be forgotten that, if Barrett is confirmed, Mitch McConnell will have become one the most effective and consequential conservative politicians — nay, politicians, period — in American history. Call him a hypocrite if you like, but the risk of denying Obama another Constitution-corroding justice in 2016, widely seen as politically self-destructive by Washington commentators, was worth it. His constitutionally kosher position turned into three justices, who, one hopes, will abide by their stated originalist and Scalia-like disposition. Their rulings will long outlast any fleeting partisan squabble.

3. Andrew C. McCarthy explains Joe Biden’s court-packing fudgery. From the analysis:

Biden was in the Senate for 36 years. He knows how to count. Assuming that this array of Democrats is on the up and up, there is no way the Left has the votes it would need to pack the Court. So why not just oppose court-packing? Given that Democrats don’t have the numbers to make it happen, why would Biden risk the appearance that he is just a placeholder for the extreme Left — that he is remaining noncommittal to hoodwink voters into electing him, after which the true believers controlling him can push radical change?

Surely, Biden fears the wrath of the hard left. He doesn’t want to put up with what his old pal Feinstein has had to endure recently, or, even worse, end up feeling the heat that has been turned up on Democratic mayors who have strayed even an iota from the Change! line in places such as Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis.

But even more, Biden is worried about losing the energy of his base. It is still a tight race in the states where the election will be decided. The last thing Biden can afford is a revolt from the Bernie Bros. and AOC’s “squad.” He knows Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election in its last couple of weeks, mainly by taking the Democratic base for granted. He is not going to repeat that mistake. (And, of course, no FBI director is going to announce the reopening of a criminal investigation against him just days before voters go to the polls — so he’s got that going for him.)

4. Morgan E. Hunter makes the case for the 490 B.C. Project. From the piece:

One cannot seriously study Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar or Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra without knowing something about Roman history and Greek tragedy. One really cannot study any European or American philosopher of the past 400 years without knowing Plato and Aristotle. However, many American school districts currently employ a chronological straitjacket that confines general study of the ancient world to middle school. (Those that teach it in high school usually do in a “World History” class that devotes only two or three weeks to the classical world.) Further teaching of the classical world is pursued only in specialized Latin courses at a few, mostly private, schools. Since college-level study of the humanities requires a good understanding of the ancient world and its authors, the classical world ought to be taught in high schools. These classical foundations are just as important to the humanities as algebra or high-school chemistry are to STEM. Learning Latin or ancient Greek can remain a requirement for those who wish to major in the classics, but they shouldn’t be the only way to study the classical world.

The educational system in Britain is rather different from the U.S. In America, students are required to select a specialization (their major) for only the last two years of college. In Britain, students are admitted to college in order to “read” a particular course of study, e.g., mathematics or history. Thus college in Britain corresponds to the last two years of American colleges (and perhaps also the first year of graduate school). Consequently, the last two years of British high schools (the “sixth form”) are when students take the introductory courses that Americans typically take in their college freshman or sophomore years. These pre-college courses culminate in tests called Advanced Levels or “A-levels.” College-bound students typically take three A-level courses in subjects preparatory to the course they intend to study in college.

5. Alexander DeSanctis explains why Lefties hate SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett. From the piece:

Empowered by technology and medicine that grant them the illusion of control over their childbearing, women can dabble in sex and family life only insofar as they fit into the grander plan of climbing the ladder, reaching the corner office, and perhaps pausing once or twice along the way to get married or have a child.

This conception of gender equality has been popularized by high-powered career women such as Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and public-policy leader Anne-Marie Slaughter. Their vision, sometimes called “lean-in feminism,” consists of benchmarks such as filling the boardrooms of every major company with an equal number of men and women.

In a 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College, Sandberg popularized her now-famous notion of “leaning in,” by which she meant prioritizing career success and workplace ambition as an antidote to the supposed fact that men run the world. “A world where men ran half our homes and women ran half our institutions would be just a much better world,” Sandberg told the graduates.

Slaughter echoed this idea in her viral 2012 article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” arguing that “only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women.”

6. Rich Lowry and John McCormack provide the backstory on how the GOP lined up quickly behind the Barrett nomination. From the piece:

There hasn’t been any such surprise yet in the Senate. When Republicans voted to change the rule for confirming Supreme Court justices to require 51 votes in response to the 2017 Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, McConnell “built support over many weeks, and did it in a lot of settings,” says the first Republican senator.

The RBG vacancy didn’t require any such campaign. “Over the last year, McConnell laid the foundation about what to expect if this were to occur,” says one Republican strategist. “There wasn’t an 11th-hour staff meeting. They already had a pretty good idea of where they’re going to end up.”

In September 2019, McConnell told reporters that Senate Republicans would “absolutely” fill a vacancy if it arose in 2020 — which would occur with the Senate and White House under the control of the same party, unlike the 2016 vacancy following the death of Justice Scalia. In 2016 there hadn’t been a consensus within the Republican caucus about what blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland meant. Most spoke at the time about the need for the voters to decide. A few senators explicitly said they’d hold open an election-year vacancy even if Republicans were in control of the Senate and the White House — although several simply said they were exercising their constitutional right to withhold consent. In 2016, McConnell had repeatedly emphasized the point about divided government. In 2020, there would be no deadlock for the voters to break.

7. Ellen Carmichael profiles the partisan-based, public-health-menacing attacks on COVID vaccines. From the piece:

On August 27, 2020, CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., announced in a letter to governors that they should be prepared for medical facilities to administer a coronavirus vaccination as early as November 1, 2020, explaining that the agency had contracted with pharmaceutical distributor McKesson Corporation to deliver upwards of hundreds of millions of doses in the fall. The letter did not indicate that federal officials had already greenlit the administration of the vaccine to the general public, nor did it say that McKesson would be allowed to subvert robust testing requirements before bringing it to market.

Outlining how the existing approval systems could create a slowdown that poses “a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,” Redfield simply asked state agencies to do their part in aiding a “public health effort of significant scale” by expediting the processing of “permit applications for the new McKesson distribution facilities,” including those for “related business and building permits.” But, Redfield insisted, breaking the bureaucratic logjam would “not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed.”

After the news broke of Redfield’s letter, the political Left began promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine, arguing the president would rush an untested vaccine to market in time for the election but before it was safe to administer it. Some reporters have given credence to such baseless claims, including CNN’s Gregory Krieg, who wrote that Trump’s “coronavirus delusions risk corrupting the search for a vaccine,” while ironically asserting Trump was setting off a “vicious circle that could undermine public confidence in a vaccine that credibly meets the strict, long-held standards set by scientists and public health officials.”

8. When Kevin Williamson looks at BLM, he sees an emerging knock-off of the PLO. From the piece:

Because Democrats run the most troubled cities, they are desperate to either change the subject from the performance of the municipal agencies in Minneapolis, Louisville, San Francisco, etc., to something more general and more politically malleable, hence the vapid, empty talk about “white privilege” and “systemic racism.” It’s bullsh**, and everybody knows it’s bullsh**. Even the president of Princeton more or less admitted his bullsh** was bullsh** when the Trump administration had the uncharacteristic wit to actually call him on said bullsh** and threaten a civil-rights investigation into the school after he denounced its “systemic racism.” A vague problem vaguely related to the vaguely racist actions of vaguely identified vaguely Republican people elsewhere is a much more comfortable discussion for the powers that be in Minneapolis than the question of how Minneapolis is run, who runs it, how they run it, who benefits from that, and who pays the worst social costs. One suspects that Democrats in such cities actually prefer the riots and arson to having that uncomfortable discussion. Remember when the Minneapolis city council vowed to defund the police department? More bullsh**, as the New York Times reports. Of course they never meant a word of it — they just feel obliged to make certain noises with their faces and perform histrionic pantomime of moral seriousness.

We see this kind of thing all the time. San Francisco doesn’t need to abolish capitalism or eliminate “inequality” to alleviate its affordable-housing problem, but it does need to reform its zoning and land-use laws — something that Nancy Pelosi’s rich San Francisco friends have been fighting tooth and talon for decades. And so San Francisco pretends that San Francisco’s problems are not of San Francisco’s making, that the problem is “white privilege” or some other comfortable abstraction.

BLM could be using the Democratic Party to pursue a reform agenda; instead, the Democratic Party is using BLM to prevent the pursuit of a reform agenda. It’s always the same question: Who, whom?

9. Kyle Smith finds defund the fuzz fizz gone. From the piece:

Yet the idea was so fashionable among the radicals, columnists, and talking heads who don’t live in high-crime areas that, for a moment, even Joe Biden was momentarily beguiled by it. Asked by a left-wing activist, “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the [police] funding?” Biden replied, “Yes, absolutely.” (Biden had been musing about how “the last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood. It’s like the military invading,” as though Americans had spent the month of June debating the wisdom of police Humvee usage. As president, Joe would handle the difficult questions by answering different, easier questions.) Yet, when Biden came to his senses he emphasized that he didn’t want to defund the police.

It’s now clear that the coast-to-coast conflagrations of the summer were not an urgent call for police reform but merely an extended temper tantrum. A serious look at police reform would begin with the question: Why do American police kill so many citizens — black, white, and other — and what can we do to reduce the violence? Few expressed any interest in that matter, though the papers decided to capitalize the adjective “black” and the Poetry Foundation and Princeton volunteered that they were white supremacists, at least until a government inquiry forced the latter institution to admit that this was meaningless posturing for woke points, not to be construed as an admission of race discrimination because that would be illegal.

“Defund the police” got rolling in Minneapolis, and that’s where it . . . stopped rolling, fell over, and got trampled by the billion-footed beast of reality. A New York Times report sadly informs us that the Mini Apple is “a case study in how idealistic calls for structural change can falter.” Because it would have been ideal for residents of black neighborhoods to wake up one morning and discover they no longer had police protection from criminals thanks to the efforts of parlor radicals.

10. Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Michael McCaul say it’s time the U.S. got deadly serious about the ChiComs. From the piece:

House Republicans on the China Task Force have put forward policies to end America’s dependence on the PRC while protecting Americans’ safety and well-being. Our comprehensive recommendations mobilize strategic U.S. government action in six areas: ideological competition, supply chains, national security, technology, the economy and energy, and competitiveness.

Without question, we must strengthen our military, and stop both CCP theft and its influence operations here at home. We begin by giving the Department of Defense the resources it needs to modernize the force and close the capability gap in specific areas, such as research and development. We also focus on providing the Department of Justice the resources it needs to investigate and prosecute visa fraud.

Beyond strengthening our national-security capabilities, we must also fortify our position on the commanding heights of the economic battlefield. Our plan doubles research and development funding for artificial intelligence and quantum computing across the federal government over the next two years, and ensures that both international 5G standards and the fabrication of advanced semiconductor chips are led by America. But just as American companies need to understand the stakes, CCP-affiliated companies need to face consequences. That is why our plan protects homegrown innovation by imposing sanctions on PRC entities that engage in industrial spying, including hacking U.S. researchers who are developing a vaccine for COVID-19.

11. Helen Raleigh reports on Red China upping its game on attacking non-lickspittle foreign journalists. From the article:

In August, Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen of Chinese descent who worked for the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN), was detained by Chinese authorities. No charges were filed, and Cheng simply “disappeared.” China’s foreign ministry waited until early September to announce that she was suspected of “criminal activity endangering China’s national security.” Her family and friends still do not know her whereabouts, and it is unclear if she has any legal representation.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s announcement of Cheng’s detention came after the Australian government was forced to mount a frantic mission to extricate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) Mike Smith from the country. Both had been questioned by Chinese authorities regarding their dealings with Cheng, and both sought help from the Australian consulate. They were allowed to leave China only after a five-day diplomatic standoff. Birtles’s former boss, the ex-ABC China bureau chief Matthew Carney, recently disclosed the threats and interrogations that he and his family, including his 14-year-old daughter, had to endure from Chinese authorities back in 2018, which eventually led them to leave the country, too.

Early this month, a Los Angeles Times reporter was detained by Chinese police in Inner Mongolia while investigating the central government’s push to teach Mongolian children key curriculums in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. Many parents and students have been protesting that effort, which they view as Beijing’s latest attempt to erase their cultural identity. The Times reporter said plainclothes men “took her to a police station, where she was interrogated and separated from her belongings, despite identifying herself as an accredited journalist. She was not allowed to call the U.S. Embassy; one officer grabbed her throat with both hands and pushed her into a cell.”

12. Peter Rough compares Donald Trump’s Middle East foreign-policy successes with French bossman Emmanuel Macron, who wants to call les shots. From the article:

Unlike in the Middle East, where the Abraham Accords brought together U.S. allies under Washington’s direction, Macron envisions a European architecture more free from American influence. Thus Trump’s attempts to run his playbook in Europe — by expressing ambivalence to collective defense and initiating a troop drawdown from Germany — have given Macron an opening to pursue his own vision.

In May 2017, Macron celebrated his presidential victory with the European Union’s anthem and flanked by EU flags. Ever since, he has sought to advance a vision of so-called European strategic autonomy, which enlists German economic power in the service of French strategic leadership at the EU. Paradoxically, the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU brought relatively little heartache for Macron because it removed a powerful opponent to his vision of continental freedom.

That leaves NATO as the most serious impediment to Macron’s designs. Unsurprisingly, he alone among Europe’s leaders has regularly criticized the alliance, memorably diagnosing its “brain death” last November. Trump’s capricious and contemptuous view of Western Europe has been central to Macron’s argument, but the French leader cannot openly challenge the United States, anchor of the West, and hope to succeed. Instead, he has sought to weaken American influence by quarreling with Turkey in its place. Macron regularly trumpets Turkey’s transgressions in part to send a message to Europe: NATO is an unreliable alliance; better to build an EU alternative. In the months to come, look for tensions between France and Turkey to flare time and again.

13. Victor Davis Hanson pushes back on the attacks against Scott Atlas. From the piece:

After COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., Atlas consistently warned that government must follow science, not politics, in doing the least amount of harm to its people. He has reminded us that those under 65 rarely die from COVID-19, and that those infected who are younger than 20 usually do not show any serious symptoms.

Accordingly, Atlas has urged the states to focus more resources on the most vulnerable — those over 65, who account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths — and allow younger Americans to reenter schools and the workforce with appropriate caution.

Atlas has also warned that the available test data on COVID-19’s infectiousness, spread, and morbidity must be handled with care, given that those who feel sick are more likely to get tested. He argues that those with some natural protection from the virus, either through antibodies from an asymptotic past infection or through T-cells, may be a far larger group than previously thought.

But most importantly, Atlas has warned that government must be careful not to endanger Americans with Draconian lockdowns that curtail needed medical examinations, procedures, and treatments.

Just as dangerous as the disease may be quarantine-related spikes in mental illness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, and depression from lost livelihoods. Children may be suffering irreparable harm from being locked down and kept out of school.

14. Maxford Allen explores Joe Biden’s Big Labor agenda. It would make Bernie swoon. From the analysis:

Further, Biden proposes to reinstate a legally questionable, and morally indefensible, Obama administration regulation allowing states to deduct union dues from Medicaid payments to home caregivers serving functionally disabled adults.

The Trump administration repealed the regulation in 2019, which brings in about $150 million per year for unions such as AFSCME and SEIU, though unions have filed litigation to preserve the old rule.

The heart of Biden’s policy platform for private-sector unions calls for adoption of the PRO Act, an expansive union wish-list that would end any pretense of allowing workers to make up their own minds about unions. Among other things, the law would require employers to allow their internal communications systems to be used for union organizing and force them to turn over employees’ personal information — including home addresses, cell phone numbers and personal emails — to union organizers. At the same time, the bill would restrict employers’ ability to speak with employees about the implications of unionization.

Perhaps most concerning, the PRO Act would ban right-to-work laws, which have so far been adopted by 28 states and which protect the rights of workers to choose for themselves whether to surrender part of their paychecks to unions.

15. Cody Wisniewski argues that Second Amendment supporters need to bring their guns to the knife fight. From the piece:

The entirety of the “gun control” movement is really an “arms control” movement. This movement has always focused on unpopular weapons, since banning or limiting their use was least likely to meet with legal or political resistance.

Initially, the open carriage of arms — including Bowie knives, swords, and dirks — “to the terror” of the public was prohibited. These laws had their roots in the English common-law tradition, and in our early republic. In the mid-19th century, the state of Georgia became the first to try completely banning possession of certain bladed weapons. That attempt was quickly struck down by the state supreme court. A century later, more states began implementing total bans on specific arms that politicians and the public associated with criminals.

That’s how we arrived at the knife bans many states have today, which often cover switchblades and butterfly knives. There is no question that these knives are inherently less dangerous than guns. And yet they are completely banned in a number of jurisdictions, from Hawaii to New Jersey.

Due to a lot of bad action movies, a lack of public understanding, and a media campaign surrounding juvenile delinquency, politicians were able to pass complete bans and Draconian restrictions on many different types of knives at both the state and federal levels.

Thankfully, much as modern efforts to ban or limit gun ownership have spawned a potent, organized political backlash, people and politicians are starting to come to their senses about knife bans. A number of states have already repealed their antiquated switchblade bans, as Colorado did in 2017. Other bans were successfully challenged in court. Some states have already repealed their bans on butterfly knives, and Hawaii’s ban is currently the subject of a lawsuit. We at the Mountain States Legal Foundation have filed a brief in that case, Teter v. Connors, arguing that Hawaii’s ban violates the Second Amendment and is thus unconstitutional.

16. Brian Allen bemoans the ongoing lockdown of many a college-based museum and the culture behind it. From the article:

Fighting Crimson has turned Fleeing, Frightened, Hiding Crimson. I don’t think Harvard cares that much about its undergraduates — it’s all about the faculty’s research and, to a lesser extent, its graduate students. And Harvard certainly couldn’t care less about the people living in Cambridge. Still, the Fogg is one of America’s great museums. It’s a shame it’s closed. I hope donors take note and steer their gifts to Yale, which is open for teaching and whose venerable art gallery is open to the public.

The Rhode Island Institute of Design museum is open only to RISD ID-holders. The Hood, the art museum at Dartmouth, is closed to the public, as is the very good Smith College Museum of Art. This is wrong. These three museums, like Yale, are not only the museum for students and faculty at their schools. They’re the local civic museum. The Yale University Art Gallery has always had a high public profile. I grew up near New Haven, so I know this and benefited from this.

The RISD museum is the civic museum for people in Providence. The Hood serves the Upper Valley, the hundred or so towns along the Connecticut River and inland in western New Hampshire and eastern Vermont. The Smith museum serves Northampton and dozens of towns surrounding it. Their public profile is part of the negotiated tranquility between Town and Gown. The schools, in keeping their museums closed, have jettisoned the deal, flipping the public an Ivory Tower bird along the way.

I’m not troubled by the Williams College Museum of Art’s decision to serve only students for the time being. It’s a modest place and mostly serves Williams students under any circumstances. The locals go to the Clark Art Institute or Mass MoCA. I do find it strange that students wanting access to the museum have to give the place 48 hours’ notice.

If I were paying $70,000 a year for my kid to go there, I’d expect snap-to, on-demand access. You can’t even pop into the museum! You need to have a class assignment. Why does the staff need 48 hours’ notice? “Holy moly, a student’s coming. . . . We need 48 hours to get into our germ-proof bubble.” Is that what they’re thinking? It’s another example of museums forgetting who they serve. It’s not about the staff. And, by the way, there’s no COVID-19 in rural northwestern Massachusetts.

17. We remembered John Dos Passos on the 50th Anniversary of his death by republishing his initial writing for NR — a two-part 1956 essay on his lefty youth. From the piece:

How hard it is to write truthfully. Reading over the articles I wrote that summer I keep remembering things I forgot to put in. Why did I forget to put in about the enlarged photographs of Lenin as a baby I saw in the ikon corner in the peasants’ houses instead of the Christ Child? Why did I neglect people’s hints about Stalin? There was a very pleasant actress whom I’ve called Alexandra who had worked with the Art Theater I sometimes took evening walks with in Moscow. She came of the old revolutionary intelligentsia. I shall never forget the look of hate that would come into her face when we’d pass a large photograph of Stalin in a store window. She never spoke. She would just nudge me and look. As the years went on I understood what she meant. Of course in 1928 Stalin had not shown himself yet. He was working from behind the scenes. Trotsky was in exile but there were still people around the theater in Moscow whom their friends introduced half laughingly as Trotskyites. The terror that English journalist was trying to tell me about still lurked in the shadows. It was not yet walking the streets.

And yet, I remember that for absolutely no reason I fell into a real funk for fear they wouldn’t let me leave the last few days I was in Moscow attending to the final passport formalities. Just like every other American, I’d done my best to see the good, but the last impression I came away with was fear, fear of the brutal invisible intricate machinery of the police state. No fear was ever better founded.

Warsaw in those days was no paradise of civil liberties, but I still remember how well I slept in the sleazy bed in the faded hotel I put up at in Warsaw after piling out of the Moscow train. Warsaw was Europe. My last month in Moscow I’d been scared every night.

There’s a Great Russell Kirk Shindig Looming

The Russell Kirk Center is featuring a first-ever virtual walking tour of Russell Kirk’s library –where America’s conservative mind wrote his influential books and welcomed students for nearly 40 years — during its 25th Anniversary Gala. Join Annette Kirk for a free, livestream event on October 21 at 7 p.m. ET. Historian George Nash will speak about the ongoing significance of Russell Kirk’s work and the Center’s role in continuing that legacy. The 60-minute presentation will conclude with a toast of Dr. Kirk’s own creation called “Mecosta Fruit Punch.” Please register here for a reminder notification.

The October 19, 2020 Issue Hearkens — Sample the Exceptional Fare

The new issue of National Review is out, replete with wisdom and sanity, all available to those who have NRPLUS, some available to those who have yet to exhaust their this-side-of-the-paywall freebies. We provide, as is our custom, five random pieces:

1. Dan McLaughlin’s cover essay shoots down the idea of D.C. statehood. From the essay:

Madison and the other Founders worried, as well, that the federal government’s independence of action in the national interest would be imperiled by subjecting its physical security to state and local authorities. This was not a hypothetical problem. In June 1783 a drunken mob of unpaid Continental Army soldiers surrounded the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. State and local authorities in Pennsylvania refused Alexander Hamilton’s desperate pleas to defend the Congress. Led by Hamilton and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, its members fled across the Delaware River into New Jersey and took up temporary housing in Princeton. Hamilton spent the time in New Jersey exile drafting a resolution calling for a constitutional convention. The Framers of the Constitution that was drafted at that convention (conducted in secrecy from the Philadelphia crowd) understood that a government with more permanent quarters could not so easily pack its bags.

With the events of 1783 fresh in mind, Madison warned that, without federal control of the capital, “the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity. . . . A dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence” to the detriment of other states. In 1812, as president, Madison saw the capital burned by an invader when the Maryland militia could not protect it. His insight proved prophetic in 1861, when Maryland teetered on the verge of joining Virginia in seceding. Federal authorities needed to subdue angry mobs in Baltimore and send a young Andrew Carnegie at the head of a military and technical crew to keep the District connected by rail and telegraph to the North. The next four years of war centered heavily on the physical defense of the capital, and of the Confederate capital in Richmond.

Today, that threat is back out in the open. In June, after President Trump deployed federal authority to protect the White House and federal property against unruly mobs in Lafayette Square, Washington mayor Muriel Bowser lobbied for statehood precisely because it would expand her authority at federal expense: “I think what we saw from this president is something that we haven’t seen in our city, and that was federal troops on the ready, federal police, policing a local city, National Guard troops hauled in from all over the country. So I decided, when we saw those federal police out on D.C. streets, that we had to push back.”

2. Rong Xiaoqing finds anti-Asian educrats in northern Virginia at the center of a growing trend to squash merit-based K-12 schooling. From the piece:

But while the Asian parents were pouring their energy into these few high-profile cases against Ivy League institutions, “desegregation” became a buzzword in many local school districts, and affirmative action has trickled down from colleges to K–12. The concern among many on the left is that the top selective public high schools consist almost entirely of Asian and white students because they test well. Black and Hispanic students have difficulty competing.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan in the summer of 2018 to get rid of the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT), the sole criterion for admissions to the city’s top three public high schools. The plan has been stymied, at least for now, after tenacious resistance from Asian parents. In the same year, a new admissions policy for merit-based magnet programs for middle-schoolers in Montgomery County, Md., was put in place to reduce the emphasis on test scores. In Virginia, not long before the TJ admissions plan was announced, parents in neighboring Loudoun County filed a lawsuit against a similar plan for the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology that was adopted in August of this year.

And in California, Proposition 16, which if passed would allow race to be considered in public-education decisions, is on the ballot this November, a year after Asian voters in Washington State helped thwart a similar referendum.

The trend is accelerating as Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism movement gain momentum. “Everyone talked about racism. No one talked about improving the quality of education for K–8 students anymore,” said Kwok Chien, a New York parent, giving his impression of the more than a dozen meetings of various community education councils that he attended in the city this summer.

3. Madeleine Kearns finds that #MeToo feminists have killed the distinctions between seduction and coercion. From the essay:

In the same year as Greer, Kate Millett, in her seminal feminist text Sexual Politics, noted that “sex has a frequently neglected political aspect.” (The same can obviously not be said in 2020.) Millett’s work, which began as a doctoral dissertation, focused on the ways in which feminine characters were subjugated by masculine characters in the sexually explicit fictional works of Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, D. H. Lawrence, and Jean Genet. Unsurprisingly, given that the excerpts under study were mostly pornographic, she found most of the depictions of women to be objectifying and degrading. What is surprising is where feminism went next.

Twisting their ideology in all sorts of self-sabotaging knots, feminists attempted to convince themselves and other women that the answer to the sort of passivity that degradation induces is to try to own it, to do to themselves (and perhaps also to men) what is done to them by men. Camille Paglia, for instance, a leader of this school of thought, continues to insist that strip clubs, prostitution, and pornography — which benefit men, not women — all have the potential to unleash the paganistic power of “woman as goddess.” Look where it’s gotten us. If we’re not celebrating the big-bootied rapper Cardi B’s offensively unmusical video “Wet A** P***y,” in which she calls herself a “whore” and writhes around half naked, we’re cheering on Shakira’s stripperesque Super Bowl routine. The point, I think, is meant to be this: If a woman appears to have freely and enthusiastically chosen degradation, then it’s actually empowerment.

4. Craig Shirley reminds us why the 1980 presidential elections were so consequential. From the retrospective:

greatest presidents. The election of 1980 was also about war — the Cold War — and a fundamental change in national policy. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter came to rhetorical blows over everything. They were diametrically opposed on every point of policy. They agreed on nothing. They really did not like each other. Reagan thought Carter was in over his head, and Carter thought Reagan was a lightweight. During the campaign, Reagan confided to a reporter that it’s not enough for a candidate simply to want to be president: “There is more of a feeling that one should be president.”

In 1980, by any metric, the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War and the West was losing. The USSR had invaded Afghanistan one year earlier; Southeast Asia had fallen to communism; Angola had fallen to communism; Nicaragua had fallen to communism; Fidel Castro was running amok; Soviet subs were in Cuba; but all Carter cared about was his precious SALT II treaty. He said as much. The invasion of Afghanistan be damned, he wanted a signed treaty with the Soviets. Suffice it to say, the Soviets played Carter for four years like he was holding a busted flush. In the 1980 campaign, Carter said Reagan would divide the country and that “Americans might be separated, black from white, Jew from Christian, North from South, rural from urban.” Reagan told his convention in Detroit in July, “Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense, and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity. . . . You know, there may be a sailor at the helm of the ship of state, but the ship has no rudder.” Reagan’s longtime aide and friend Stu Spencer once told me that he thought Reagan regarded Carter as “a little sh**.” Reagan really had no use or respect for the Georgian peanut farmer.

5. We give not enough attention to James Lilek’s ever-delightful “Athwart” column, which this time fails to soft-soap. From the piece:

Showering — for that matter, basic bathing — is bad for you and unnecessary. NPR had an interview with the author of Clean: The New Science of Skin, Dr. James Hamblin. He hasn’t bathed since Obama was in office, lest soap and water disturb his personal “microbial ecosystem.”

Says the NPR piece: “Skin has long been considered to be our first line of defense against pathogens, but new studies suggest that the initial protection may come from the microbes that live on its surface.” Loofahs are like razor blades to a vein! B

e that as it may, the good doctor seems to have the usual modern motivation: knocking down all those ridiculous bourgeois notions we believe because, you know, brainwashing.

“We’ve gotten a lot better, culturally, about not judging people about all kinds of things, but when people smell or don’t use deodorant, somehow it’s okay to say, ‘You’re gross’ or ‘Stay away from me!’ and it gets a laugh,” he says. “I’m trying to push back against the sense of there being some universal standard of normalcy.”

Well, smelling like a dead goat is normal. A cultural preference for not reeking is also normal. It could be that the culture oppresses people who don’t want to bathe, or it could be that the culture encourages bathing because it makes the public sphere a less disagreeable place. Or is that somehow racist and gendered? It’s NPR, so you can guess. Here’s how the interviewer gets to the pith of the nub:

“How did your identity as a cisgendered white male influence your reporting on this subject?”

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White finds the new Netflix take on The Boys in the Band to be a concerted effort to concoct the usual liberal cultural claptrap. From the beginning of the review:

When playwright Edward Albee objected to his drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? being performed by an all-male cast, his injunction prevented the catastrophe now on view in Netflix’s The Boys in the Band. It’s a film version of a stage play in which nine men gather for a birthday party that collapses into funny-bitter clashes showing off their insecurities. As a Millennial version of the 1968 play that Mart Crowley already slyly derived from Albee, this film doubles down — four-fold — on the too-obvious idea of gay men bitching among themselves. Albee knew that would grossly politicize the exploration of human illusions in his theatrical landmark.

Ironically, Netflix’s The Boys in the Band is conceived to be a landmark like the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, using Crowley’s Albee knock-off to make superfluous, overly knowing political commentary on Millennial gay consciousness. The cast, headed by Jim Parsons as the party host Michael, Zachery Quinto as birthday honoree Harold, and Robin de Jesus as their most effeminate friend Emory, go about promoting the film by acknowledging their own experience as gay men (ethnically diverse, too). Their idea of art as psychotherapy (“I feel seen,” says Parsons) adds little to the film’s dramatic meaning but, instead, works as cultural intimidation. Netflix inflates Crowley’s subculture curio, insisting that it be given the same dominant culture reverence as Albee’s masterpiece.

This modernized Boys in the Band is yet another example of Netflix’s political program. It emphasizes the spectacle of a stigmatized group acting out its oppression to sustain the progressive social engineering practiced by Netflix and other competing streaming services. But it’s also cultural engineering from a now-privileged group of industry professionals, starting with producer Ryan Murphy, who adds this adaption to his unsavory brand: TV’s Glee, American Horror Story, Feud: Bette and Joan, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and the miniseries Hollywood.

2. Kyle Smith thinks people will want to make a date with the new French romance film, The Salt of Tears. From the beginning of the review:

Nobody does a simple, disarming love story like the French. France’s The Salt of Tears, with its black-and-white photography and its quiet, unforced naturalism, is a charmer about how young people meet, get to know each other, and form a deep bond. It’s a lovely, enchanting little tale. For the first 20 minutes, anyway.

The Salt of Tears doesn’t yet have a U.S. release date but is coming out in France next month. Meanwhile it is a standout offering from this year’s New York Film Festival; in an unforced and unassuming way, it says a great deal more than it depicts on its surface. Philippe Garrel, the 72-year-old French writer-director who has been making films since the 1960s, has devised a romantic odyssey that has a timeless quality and yet seems fully apprised of the alarming details about how the game works today; he doesn’t use American terms like “ghosting” or “kidult,” but he doesn’t need to. Garrel wonders what contemporary dating conventions are doing to young people, particularly vulnerable women, and so should we all. Restrained and low-key as it is, The Salt of Tears gradually opens up to become a powerful moral tale on a par with the great films of Eric Rohmer, with a hint of François Truffaut.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. President Trump signs an executive order banning federal involvement with “Critical race theory” scape-goating. From the order:

Today, however, many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual. This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.

This destructive ideology is grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world. Although presented as new and revolutionary, they resurrect the discredited notions of the nineteenth century’s apologists for slavery who, like President Lincoln’s rival Stephen A. Douglas, maintained that our government “was made on the white basis” “by white men, for the benefit of white men.” Our Founding documents rejected these racialized views of America, which were soundly defeated on the blood-stained battlefields of the Civil War. Yet they are now being repackaged and sold as cutting-edge insights. They are designed to divide us and to prevent us from uniting as one people in pursuit of one common destiny for our great country.

Unfortunately, this malign ideology is now migrating from the fringes of American society and threatens to infect core institutions of our country. Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist are appearing in workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors. For example, the Department of the Treasury recently held a seminar that promoted arguments that “virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism,” and that instructed small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid “narratives” that Americans should “be more color-blind” or “let people’s skills and personalities be what differentiates them.”

2. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher spotlights the insanity — the evil — that the Left has brought to mixed-race adoption. It is mostly long quotation from an email. It deserves to be read in total, and it begins like this:

You have seen, maybe, Ibram Kendi raise questions about Jesse and Amy Coney Barrett’s adoption of black children from Haiti. I did not realize how serious, and how inhuman, the movement within adoption circles is to destroy families composed of white parents and adopted kids of non-white backgrounds.

3. At The College Fix, Jeremy Hill reports on a Catholic college hiding its statue of Saint Junipero Serra. From the beginning of the piece:

A Catholic university does not appear to have any plans to return a statue of St. Junípero Serra to a public place on campus.

The University of San Diego removed the statue in July after other statues of the 18th-century California priest were vandalized. Critics accuse Serra of mistreatment of Native Americans during his time running missions in California, though religious leaders have disputed this characterization.

Now the university will not say when, if ever, it plans to publicly display the statue.

University officials told the Catholic News Agency in July that it was moved to “temporary storage” after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ bishop published a letter criticizing the vandalism against statues of Serra. The university is not within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese.

“Faced with the possibility of vandalism, we are taking increased security precautions at the historic missions located in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” Archbishop José Gómez wrote on June 29.

4. More College Fix: Its great editor, Jennifer Kabbany, reveals the results of a poll on college students saying yea or nay to “controversial” campus speakers. From the beginning of the piece:

The vast majority of college students are opposed — in some cases by wide margins — to allowing speakers on campus who promote controversial topics, such as the idea that Black Lives Matter is a hate group or that abortion should be illegal.

That according to the results of a massive new poll of nearly 20,000 college students nationwide.

“The results were ominous for supporters of free expression on campus,” according to a report on the results released Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and RealClearEducation, which commissioned the survey.

The free speech poll asked college students a variety of hypothetical questions, including whether they would support or oppose their university allowing a speaker on campus who promotes various hot-button topics.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh warns about the new Turkey-Iran-Qatar-Hamas Axis. From the article:

Abbas has already damaged the Palestinians’ relations with some Arab countries by condemning the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain for signing peace treaties with Israel. Abbas and his senior officials have accused both Gulf countries of “stabbing the Palestinians in the back” and betraying the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque by signing normalization accords with Israel.

A sign of the growing rift between the Palestinians and the Arab world surfaced on September 22, when Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki announced that the Palestinians decided to “relinquish” their right to preside over the Council of the Arab League at its current session, in protest of the decision of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel. “Since the decision to rush after [normalization] was taken in Washington, it does not serve any purpose to exert any more effort to sway [the Arabs] against normalization, particularly since they are not the decision-makers, regretfully,” Malki explained.

The decision marks the beginning of a divorce process between the Palestinians and the Arab world. The Palestinian leadership has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017, when President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians have also suspended their ties with Israel, including security coordination.

The Palestinians have, in addition, lost the support of several Arab countries because of their recurring condemnations of Arab governments and leaders who want to make peace with Israel.

Now it appears that the Palestinians are also headed toward ruining their relations with Egypt because of Abbas’s decision to make peace with Hamas and appease Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

6. At Quillette, Charlotte Allen delves into the strange case of wanna-black Jessica Krug. From the story:

Until her recent resignation Jessica Krug was an academic superstar. GWU’s history department hired her onto its tenure track as assistant professor even before she collected her PhD degree from Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. This was a feat in itself, because the academic job market for newly minted doctorate-holders in History has been depressed for decades. According to the American Historical Association, there were only about half as many full-time four-year-college teaching job openings either on or off the tenure track for history PhDs in 2012 as there were new doctoral degree-holders. The situation in the highly specialized, thinly populated sub-field of African history was slightly better but not much. But Krug nonetheless landed at GWU, a high-tuition, lavishly appointed campus in downtown Washington not far from the White House while many of her fellow PhDs in History struggled as poorly paid part-time adjunct professors hoping that full-time openings might show up down the road. And then, in 2018, GWU rewarded Krug with tenure and a promotion to associate professor — lifetime job security.

All this was on the basis of Krug’s 260-page book Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom, published in 2018, the very year she attained tenure. It was a reworking of her doctoral dissertation and, as she explains in a preface, at least one seminar paper she had written in graduate school. The publisher was the Duke University Press. The Duke Press is famous, or infamous, for its booklist of trendy but nearly unintelligible — because thick with impenetrable postmodernist jargon — academic writings on such voguish subjects as gender and post-colonial theory. One of its publications is Social Text, the deconstructionist journal that in 1996 published New York University physics professor Alan Sokal’s hoax paper claiming, among other things, that the force of gravity was a fiction constructed by power-seeking scientists. (Social Text is still going strong, with a current issue devoted to the “biopolitics of plasticity.”)

Krug’s book is no exception to the Duke Press norm of inscrutable jargon that skeptics might prefer to call pure mush. Its theme is Kisama, an arid region of present-day Angola (it’s a wildlife preserve today) that, according to Krug, was a center of “resistance” to Portuguese colonizers and slave traders over the centuries, inspiring “global iterations of the Kisama meme” as “maroons” — fugitive slaves — in the New World engaged in their own periodic “violence” against “state power.” Krug paints Kisama as a kind of anti-state collectivist utopia that sent its “widely circulating” meme of resistance on a “remarkable odyssey” across the Atlantic. Her biggest problem is that, as she admits, “neither oral nor written records” in Africa or anywhere else provide any evidence that this occurred — beyond the fact that many Latin-American slaves were of Angolan origin, some of them apparently from Kisama. Another problem is Krug’s inability or unwillingness to write chronologically straightforward history. In order to find a coherent account of what actually happened with the slave trade in 16th and 17th century Angola you need to consult Wikipedia.

7. At The Imaginative Conservative, Michael De Sapio ponders the possible destructiveness of art. From the beginning of the essay:

As conservatives we often undertake to argue for the importance and necessity of beauty. But it is common in discussions of aesthetics not to distinguish clearly between beauty and art. This can be a fatal mistake, and a strong reminder comes from the great cultural historian Jacques Barzun in The Use and Abuse of Art, a series of lectures given at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Barzun, with his biting Gallic wit, brilliantly charts the shift in Western culture from art to aestheticism. Considered from one vantage point, art has replaced religion in the life of man (one of Barzun’s chapters is entitled “Art in the Vacuum of Belief”). A signal of the change was when the word “creative” was first applied to art and artists, where it never had been before. Liberated from being servile craftsmen, artists were now creators. By the twentieth century, artists were popularly regarded as gurus possessing the deepest secrets of life and second only to scientists on the social scale.

The shift occurred in the nineteenth century when Romanticists first started talking explicitly of art in quasi-religious terms. Of course, there were earlier roots to this, as the bonds between art and religion had been gradually loosened since the Middle Ages and through the humanist Renaissance. Disenchantment with the industrial age and with scientific rationalism made many 19th-century people yearn again for transcendence and mystery; but for many of the intelligentsia who could not return to orthodox religious belief, art became a natural religion-substitute. It was around that time that Romantic art was emulating qualities of the infinite, the absolute, eternal longing, and similar emotions and aspirations that are traditionally evoked by religion. The boundaries between art and religion began to be blurred, so that one could, for example, make a “pilgrimage” to Wagner’s opera house at Bayreuth as to a religious shrine.

Previously it was understood that art was not completely autonomous; there were higher values to which it was responsible. During the ages of faith, art was the handmaiden of religion, illustrating the Christian mysteries in fresco and stained glass. By contrast, the aestheticist or “art for art’s sake” movement of the Victorian era tended to see art as answerable only to aesthetic standards. Barzun describes the strategy of many aestheticist writers and artists as one of representing art as “the core reality, by which all other things were shown false and artificial.” This involved the divorce of aesthetic and moral values. Artists were a special caste who lived by a different code, one far removed from “bourgeois morality.” While ordinary people lived by moral values, artists lived by aesthetic values. Arguably, it’s a small step from this attitude to dismissing the validity of value judgments in art.

Baseballery

With accumulated rainouts, a Senior Circuit battle for third place (which team possessed it would earn a larger slice of forthcoming World Series’ receipts), and the end of the season at hand, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds — on this day, October 2nd, 100 years ago — squared off for MLB’s only triple header.

Had the Pirates — in fourth place at this late date, but with a shot at overtaking the third-place Reds — swept the triple match (all legitimate make-ups of scheduled games that had been cancelled due to rainouts), third place would be theirs. An appeal to the league for the never-before — and, never since — trio of same-day games was approved. And so it came to pass.

The drama that might have been ended sometime around 2:03 PM on that Saturday afternoon at Forbes Field, when Pirate second baseman Cotton Tierney ground into a double play to close out the Ninth. That handed Reds starter Ray Fisher his 100th (and final) career win, as Cincinnati punched out a 13-4 victory. The team’s third-place status was ensured.

But there were still — a double header? — to play. It would prove a race towards the early Fall sunset. It was now mid-afternoon, as the Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the Seventh Inning of the middle contest. It didn’t hold: a combinations of six hits, two walks, and two errors allowed the Reds to score seven runs off Bucs starter Jimmy Zinn (considered one of the greatest-ever minor league pitchers — he collected 288 wins in 22 seasons, and was still tossing in 1939 at the age of 44). The affair ended somewhere around 4:00PM, the Reds prevailing 7-3.

The triple header came to its dusky conclusion in the approaching-nightcap, the final game of the day earning the Pirates a speck of dignity: Rookie righty Johnny Morrison, in only the second appearance of his career, tossed a 6-0, six-inning shutout. Oddly, the Pirates batted in the bottom of the Sixth, and scored three runs — adding to three scored in the First — before Reds starter Buddy Napier got shortstop Pie Traynor to ground out to close out the frame. Traynor would be the last man to ever bat in triple header. Admittedly, that was not as important a distinction as his being inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, when last we wrote we mentioned the passing of Carroll Hardy, noted by baseball historians as the only man to have ever pinch-hit for Ted Williams. Not so. Reader Jerry T puts Your Humble Correspondent in his place:

In your Baseballery section you repeat an error that I have seen before. Carroll Hardy was not the first player to pinch hit for Ted Williams. I knew of at least one instance where Ted was pinch-hit for. In 1951, on June 17 in the second game of a double header [here’s the box score] , Tom Wright [his Baseball-Reference.com stats can be found here] pinch-hit for Williams. . . . Scrolling through Ron Bernier’s Replay Guides (www.baseballsimresearch.com) I could find no other time but the Hardy and Wright pinch hit appearances for Ted. I don’t know why he was pinch hit for in the 1951 game but can only surmise it may have been due to either an injury or fatigue. It was the eighth inning of the second game of a double header and the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead with no one on base.

We appreciate the correction Jerry.

A Dios

Your Humble Correspondent, picking up a new brother-in-law this weekend, has been asked to offer grace before the feedbags are strapped on at the celebratory lunch. “No speeches,” surely the Better Half will warn. OK then — a sermon! Maybe one referencing The Wedding Feast at Cana. That is, unless we’re using the new ChiCom Bible, which rumor has it speaks of the Wedding Feast at Wuhan. Insert bat-related joke here. Anyway, if you might spare a prayer for new husband and wife, it would be most appreciated.

God’s Blessings to You and to All Things Bright and Beautiful,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your broadsides, and recommends they be fired at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Once in Love with Amy . . .

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

. . . always in love with Amy, no? Those are the words that Ray Bolger crooned (while hoofing) in Where’s Charley? back in the day. We’ll see between the time this missive is published and the time you actually read it (bless you!) if President Trump has gone ahead and nominated Amy Coney Barrett, considered by most the frontrunner for the nod, to the Supreme Court. Many a conservative is in love with the idea.

Whether or not President Trump nominates her, your favorite conservative magazine and website, through the efforts of Dan “Baseball Crank” McLaughlin, seem to have played a quite important role in kneecapping the argument — one that is said to have browbeat scaredy-cat Republicans (always in ample supply) — that any SCOTUS nomination, and the ensuing confirmation process, must occur after the November elections, followed by genuflections and the litany St. Merrick of Garland, pray for us while they demand of the GOP-run Senate what Dan has rightly labeled “unilateral disarmament.”

The facts are plentiful, and Dan marshalled them all in a prescient analysis published by NR in early August, showing that the deathbed wishes of dying Justices are out of sync with history. Indeed, wrote Dan, “History supports Republicans filling the seat.” Here’s how the article (in typical McLaughlin style, it deployed colorful charts that would exhaust a box of Crayolas) commenced:

If a Supreme Court vacancy opens up between now and the end of the year, Republicans should fill it. Given the vital importance of the Court to rank-and-file Republican voters and grassroots activists, particularly in the five-decade-long quest to overturn Roe v. Wade, it would be political suicide for Republicans to refrain from filling a vacancy unless some law or important traditional norm was against them. There is no such law and no such norm; those are all on their side. Choosing not to fill a vacancy would be a historically unprecedented act of unilateral disarmament. It has never happened once in all of American history. There is no chance that the Democrats, in the same position, would ever reciprocate, as their own history illustrates.

For now, all this remains hypothetical. Neither Ruth Bader Ginsburg nor any of her colleagues intend to go anywhere. But with the 87-year-old Ginsburg fighting a recurrence of cancer and repeatedly in and out of hospitals, we are starting to see the Washington press corps and senators openly discussing what would happen if she dies or is unable to continue serving on the Court. Democrats are issuing threats, and some Republicans are already balking.

They shouldn’t.

More facts, per Dan:

Nineteen times between 1796 and 1968, presidents have sought to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential-election year while their party controlled the Senate. Ten of those nominations came before the election; nine of the ten were successful, the only failure being the bipartisan filibuster of the ethically challenged Abe Fortas as chief justice in 1968. Justices to enter the Court under these circumstances included such legal luminaries as Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo. George Washington made two nominations in 1796, one of them a chief justice replacing a failed nominee the prior year. It was his last year in office, and the Adams–Jefferson race to replace him was bitter and divisive. Woodrow Wilson made two nominations in 1916, one of them to replace Charles Evans Hughes, who had resigned from the Court to run for president against Wilson. Wilson was in a tight reelection campaign that was not decided until California finished counting votes a week after Election Day. Three of the presidents who got election-year nominees confirmed (Benjamin Harrison in 1892, William Howard Taft in 1912, and Herbert Hoover in 1932) were on their way to losing reelection, in Taft’s and Hoover’s cases by overwhelming margins. But they still had the Senate, so they got their nominees through.

As said, this piece in particular seems to have provided spinal support to certain Senate Republicans — and it drew nasty attacks from lefties who knew its influence. You’ll find his response to those critiques here.

(A suggestion: You’ll find NR’s repository of pieces on SCOTUS and nominations and confirmations and all other such stuff at our Law & the Courts feed.)

SCOTUS matters aside, there are POTUS matters — 45 takes on Wanna-46 this coming Tuesday at a debate in Cleveland. It’s likely the reality of what’s ahead might dwarf any antics that even the late Andy Kaufmann could conjure up. We do encourage you — assuming that you will be watching — to do so with your laptop at hand, set to The Corner, where your NR Favorites will be commenting live-time and, as they say, Live Tweeting.

See you there, yes? And now, let us to the Jolt be on-getting!

Editorials

1. Justice Ginsburg is dead. We argue there is no reason to delaying seeking a new SCOTUS member. From the editorial:

The argument from 2016 is unavailing. Our own view was that the Republicans’ point about acting in an election year was secondary to the imperative to advance constitutionalism on the Court. But the most careful articulations of the Republican position in 2016 held that when a Supreme Court vacancy arose while the White House and Senate were controlled by opposite parties and a presidential election was coming soon, the vacancy should be filled by the winner of that election. In short, the voters should be asked to break the deadlock between two branches they elected. That condition does not apply today, as Republicans have won a Senate majority in three consecutive elections. (It is tempting, because it would be useful for conservatives, to say that Democrats should be held to what many of them said in 2016: that the Senate had a constitutional obligation to proceed with any nomination the president made. But that argument never had any grounding in the Constitution.)

The notion that Republicans should calm troubled waters by standing down is a little more beguiling. But it should also be rejected. Supreme Court nominations have become incendiary events because the Court has strayed so far from its proper constitutional role. There is no need to be coy: What we have in mind most of all, just like progressive activists, is abortion. In Roe v. Wade, the Court swept away the laws of 50 states and trampled on the most fundamental of human rights, and it did it without any justification in the text, original understanding, logic, structure, or history of the Constitution. Even legal scholars who approve of the policy result have admitted as much. A Court that claims that power for itself can commit many other enormities. And the Democratic Party, very much including its current presidential nominee, maintains a litmus test that any Supreme Court nominee must pledge fealty to that anti-constitutional ruling.

2. We laud President Trump for creating the “1776 Commission.” From the editorial:

America’s proud history is worth defending, and it is worth defending through government and politics. There are fair arguments about how best to go about that task consistently with a duly conservative skepticism about the proper powers of federal and local government, but conservatives should not shy away from conserving the core of our national history, ideals, and culture — a goal that not so long ago was neither partisan nor ideological.

The current lines of battle are joined around the teaching of the New York Times 1619 Project, Howard Zinn’s 1980 screed A People’s History of the United States, and other fact-challenged efforts to supplant the story of America, its ideals, and its exceptional history with critical-race and gender theory and leftist agitprop. It is wrong to fill the heads of children with falsehoods, or to subject them to outside-the-mainstream theories until they are old enough to learn to evaluate them critically. It is right and important to commemorate what makes this nation great and special.

3. The idea that there will not be a peaceful transition of power, should the elections result in turmoil and confusion, is un-American and worth condemning. We do so. From the editorial:

President Trump is not alone in his shameful rhetoric. Since he won in 2016, large swathes of the Democratic Party have insisted that he is “illegitimate,” which he is not. Former senate majority Leader Harry Reid has argued that Russia quite literally changed the vote totals, which it did not. And Hillary Clinton, who has said publicly that she actually “won” the 2016 election, recently suggested that “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances,” which he should. None of these people, however, is the president of the United States. None issue words that carry the extraordinary weight of that office. None bear the responsibility that Trump does. We applaud the Senate for unanimously passing a resolution reaffirming its commitment to “the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution.”

It should be a source of enormous national pride that, for 223 unbroken years, American presidents have handed the reins to their successors without bloodshed or complaint. Nothing has interrupted this tradition — not war, not economic calamity, not pandemic — nothing. We are not worried that President Trump intends to bring this streak to an end. That choice, after all, is not his to make. The system is set forth in the Constitution, and it is administered not at the president’s will, but by the states and by the people. Nevertheless, all systems rely upon buy-in, and every demurral helps to chip away a little at the rock on which the country has been built.

A Baker’s Dozen Neato Torpedos Aimed at the Hulls of Leftist Pirate Ships Attacking this Great and Grand Republic

1. Ramesh Ponnuru takes on Barrett critic and Massimo Faggioli for his epically dishonest call for investigating the Judge’s religious beliefs. From the critique:

What actually caused objections — and not just from conservatives — was Feinstein’s sneering comment to Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Feinstein’s office went on to object to Barrett for saying, e.g., that Christians should be mindful of their role in God’s plan to redeem the world. None of this was just raising questions.

Senators are well within their rights to ask any nominee, whatever their religion or lack of it, whether they have any commitments that would interfere with their obligation to apply the law. They are not justified in insinuating, with zero evidence, that someone’s (reported) membership in a religious organization creates a special obligation for that question to be asked and answered. They would, similarly, be wrong to ask an atheist nominee if he could really be trusted to protect religious liberty.

Barrett has already testified under oath to the Senate on the relevant point: “I see no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.” The key question has been asked and answered.

2. Related, from Alexandra DeSanctis, who toils in these very vineyards: She nails the partisan religion-hyperventilating over Barrett as a stand-in for the High Court’s decrepit Roe ruling sanctifying abortion on demand. From the piece:

As I wrote at the time, it seemed clear that Democrats were using Buescher’s nomination as a test run in someday preventing Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. If media coverage is any indication, now that the moment has arrived, Barrett’s opponents are prepared to make her Catholic faith the central component in their crusade against her.

This strategy not only exposes the sinister anti-Catholic bigotry of far too many public figures, but further confirms that our judicial-nomination process is now entirely about Roe and subsequent abortion decisions.

Evidently some number of progressives are motivated in part by suspicion of — or disgust for — religious faith as such, but what really troubles them is a person of faith who opposes abortion. In other words, they’re concerned not about anyone who calls themselves Catholic, but about any Catholic who actually believes what the Church teaches about abortion, the high sacrament of the progressive creed.

And so they say, “It’s all well and good to be religious, just keep it to yourself. Your private morality doesn’t belong in the public square.”

3. Rich Lowry whips out the crystal ball and finds that Court-packing is a political no-go. From the column:

For the Democrats, court-packing would be a murder-suicide. It would end the Supreme Court as we know it, and almost certainly bring a swift and decisive end to Democratic congressional majorities. There’s a reason Republicans aren’t taking the threat seriously in their calculations.

No matter how infuriated a party is, the rules of political gravity still apply. A president is at the high point of his power at the outset, steadily losing juice over time.

Would Biden spend precious capital on court-packing early in his presidency? If so, voting, green-energy and health-care legislation would take a back seat.

If, instead, all that legislation went first, court-packing would be pushed toward the back of the line, when Biden would have diminished clout for the political fight of a lifetime.

4. Michael Brendan Dougherty investigates the stamina of the Democratic nominee and how it echoes 2016. From the commentary:

 If Biden blows it, the basement-campaign strategy will look like an obvious culprit in his defeat. Usually, a party tries to avoid making the same mistakes that recent losing campaigns made. But Biden’s operation seems to be leaning into dangers that should be obvious. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was dogged by conspiracy theories about her health, ones that were dismissed by her cheerleading journalists until the very moment she seemed to collapse at a public event, and was thrown into the side of a van by her handlers. This surely hurt Clinton. Furthermore, she was criticized in the aftermath of the campaign for not campaigning enough in Wisconsin and for not putting in the work. Compared to Biden, she looks like a workaholic. Biden only visited Wisconsin after the riots in Kenosha.

What if the campaign should be, uh, campaigning more? Why isn’t it? Close Biden watchers have started tracking how many times and how early the Biden campaign calls a “full lid” on their day, signaling to the press that there will be no more public events, or questions answered. The day after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the “full lid” was called before 9 a.m. On about a quarter of the days in September — real campaign season — the lid was on before noon.

The presidency can be a very demanding job, and one shouldn’t (and often can’t) just call the day over before noon every other day or so. Donald Trump is notorious for his long bouts of “executive time” and even revealing how many hours he watches Fox News consecutively. This level of distractedness has not served his administration well.

5. Kyle Smith lays out the Andrew Cuomo record: The staggering COVID death count has much to do with the Governor’s obsessing over petty New York politics and his hatred for Bill de Blasio. From the analysis:

Throughout January and February, far too many leaders at all levels downplayed the Wuhan virus, but by March 17, New York City’s mayor had seen enough. Schools had shut down the day before, and de Blasio said in a news conference that New Yorkers should prepare to “shelter in place” to slow the spread of the virus. The governor’s team immediately jumped in to tell de Blasio this idea sounded “crazy.” “Phones were ringing off the hook,” de Blasio’s then-press aide Freddi Goldstein told the Wall Street Journal in an exhaustive, damning tick-tock of Cuomo’s horrific decisions. Cuomo’s officers told Goldstein’s crew in City Hall that “de Blasio was scaring people. You have to walk it back. It’s not your call.”

Five crucial, lethal days went by before Cuomo decided de Blasio was not crazy. As he has done on many other occasions, such as hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour (de Blasio proposed this, Cuomo opposed it, then Cuomo enacted it and bragged about it), Cuomo furiously opposed de Blasio, then switched sides while calling himself the true author of the idea. Millions of New Yorkers went to work, packed into mass transit, and otherwise crowded together. Yet “if everybody had done exactly what they did one week earlier, more than 50% fewer people would have died by the end of April,” Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and co-author of a study on the matter, told the Journal. Shaman pegs the number of lives that could have been saved by acting one week earlier at 17,514 in the metropolitan area or 36,000 nationwide. Cuomo’s March 25 order that nursing homes must accept those infected with coronavirus was a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe; and Cuomo has sternly resisted all efforts to launch an independent investigation into how much damage the virus did within such long-term care facilities. Cuomo’s claim that only about 20 percent of the state’s 33,000 deaths from the virus were linked to nursing homes is risible given that the percentage is far higher in other states; the true death toll in New York nursing homes is likely to be something like 11,000, maybe more. Cuomo’s continuing refusal to allow an independent look at this is simply a coverup. “I think you’d have to be blind to realize it’s not political,” Cuomo has said, as he prepares to publish a book celebrating his stewardship of the crisis. A bipartisan bill to authorize such an investigation is pending.

6. More Kyle: He takes on the arguments of knicker-twisted erstwhile conservatives who say Donald Trump should make no SCOTUS nomination. (But do remember folks hat we are told repeatedly — there is no such thing as “Never Trump”). From the piece:

The Republicans have the authority to seat Trump’s nominee. French calls this state of affairs “Machiavellian simplicity,” Will calls it the “cold logic of formal powers,” and Goldberg calls it “the doctrine of ‘do whatever you can get away with.’” I call it continuing with the way things have always been done. Twenty-nine times in American history there’s been a SCOTUS vacancy in an election year, and 29 times the president has nominated someone to fill it. Senators usually reject those nominees if the Senate and White House are controlled by different parties, as was the case in 2016, and nearly always confirm them if the two are controlled by the same party.

So why is this time different? I gather that Will finds the character of President Trump to be so reprehensible that he believes Trump should not be granted the privilege of seating another justice, even one Will would deem a superb choice if it had been made by, say, President George W. Bush. Will, French, and Goldberg are also bothered by what they see as the hypocrisy of several Republican senators on the question of whether nominees should be confirmed in the final year of a presidential administration. But hypocrisy isn’t a legal or constitutional matter; it’s a character issue, and thus a political matter. There is no anti-hypocrisy clause in the Constitution. Lawmakers are free to vote down sin one year and support it the next. (Indeed, Republican lawmakers who crack down on spending when a Democrat is president but open up the coffers when a Republican is in the Oval Office have a long history of doing just this. It would be intellectually consistent, but unwise, of them to declare that nobody should fret about overspending. But because they are hypocrites, they act wisely at least some of the time.)

If voters feel that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are hypocrites, they can complain about it, and work to bounce both men from the Senate this November. I suspect the public understands that, whatever nonpartisan principles anyone felt badgered into declaring in 2016, the reality is that Graham and McConnell and every other senator are partisans, and so they act accordingly. There would have been no shame in any Republican senator’s stating, in 2016, “I do not want Merrick Garland confirmed, or even allowed a vote, because I think his judicial philosophy is wrong.” Which happened to be the truth.

7. Mario Loyola checks out Donald Trump’s surprising appeal with Hispanic voters. From the article:

What has really surprised Democrats, especially given the media’s persistent portrayals of Trump as racist and anti-immigrant, is that Trump has only increased his support among Hispanics since 2016. He won 28 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016 and is polling around 36 percent now, according to Quinnipiac, after reaching 38 in May. That’s more than any GOP presidential candidate in modern history except George W. Bush, who captured 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Far from alienating Hispanic Americans, Trump has actually reversed much of the drop in Hispanic support that the GOP suffered during the acrimonious and often ugly debate over comprehensive immigration reform between 2006 and 2008.

Though prominent Democrats have been sounding the alarm for months, the growing strength of Trump’s support among Hispanics has shocked many of them. But they have mostly themselves to blame. They have for too long ignored both their own failures and the strengths of Trump, creating what could prove to be their Achilles heel.

8. Scott Turner bemoans the decline of the Science and the Academy, and finds it’s all very self-inflicted. From the essay:

Once the war was won, the federal foot-in-the-academic-door was not withdrawn but jammed more firmly in place. This drew the academic sciences into an expanding and richly funded enterprise — the “Big Science ecosystem.” The federal government is now the dominant funder of academic research.

The academy’s fulminating pathology lies in a set of perverse incentives built into the funding model for Big Science. This model fatally commingles the conflicting interests of academic researchers (intellectual independence) and the institutions that employ them (managerial and financial), while leaving all political power vested in institutions. The legislation that set the federalization of science into motion tried to reconcile these competing interests. This complicated compromise, never stable, is now completely undone.

The result? After seven decades, Big Science has become a deeply entrenched cartel, drawing in to its Jovian orbit universities, government research agencies, academic publishers, politicians, and more. The cartel is organized not around soybeans, cocaine, or oil, but around maximizing the flow of federal-research dollars. By this measure, the Big Science cartel has been spectacularly successful: Since 1950, federal expenditures in academic research have doubled every seven years, to more than $80 billion currently. By the measure of protecting the core values of science and scientists, however — intellectual independence, freedom of inquiry, etc. — it has been a spectacular failure.

9. Andy McCarthy analyzes the charges in the Brianna Taylor death and finds the outcome to be just. From the piece:

Much of what we’ve been told about the case turns out not to be true — another “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” urban legend of police brutality. Most prominently, Attorney General Cameron explained that the police did not execute a “no knock” warrant before entering Ms. Taylor’s apartment. They knocked and announced themselves as police before forcing entry shortly after midnight.

How they came to be at Ms. Taylor’s home, with a search warrant based on probable cause that evidence of narcotics crimes would be found, is the part of the story the social-justice warriors would have us omit. It needs telling.

When she was killed, Breonna Taylor was 26, a hospital emergency-room technician who hoped to become a nurse. But over the years, she had gotten involved with Glover, a 30-year-old twice-convicted drug dealer. Though she was never a targeted suspect, the New York Times reports that Ms. Taylor was entangled in the frequent police investigations of Glover. Taylor remained romantically involved with him though he had spent years in prison.

In fact, after they first became a couple in 2016, Taylor agreed to rent a car for Glover and, for her trouble, ended up interviewed in a murder investigation. A man was found shot to death behind the steering wheel of that car, and drugs were found in it. Glover was connected to the decedent through an associate but was not charged in the case.

10. Arizona Governor and NR pal Doug Ducey praises efforts to return civics to our classrooms. He’s taking a bow and yep, we’re happy to provide that forum. From the piece/:

A law I signed in March (the “Civics Celebrations Day bill“) requires schools to dedicate the majority of today’s classroom instruction to civics. That means that, from our littlest kindergartners to high-school seniors, students across Arizona are spending today learning the importance of our constitutional system.

These types of intentional interventions can help turn back the tide of years of disappearing civics curriculum. As an example of how far we’ve fallen, the same NAEP report card showed that just 22 percent of eighth-grade students have teachers with a primary responsibility for teaching civics to their classes.

It’s no wonder that we’ve seen appreciation for our government and its institutions replaced by apathy and alienation.

Another way to make sure that civics gets back into the classroom is to test it. After all, what gets tested gets taught.

That’s why I was proud to make the first bill I signed the American Civics Act, legislation that requires graduating high-schoolers to pass the same test given to new citizens. Today, 34 other states have followed Arizona’s lead by passing similar legislation.

11. More Civics and American History: Stanley Kurtz lays out a take-back plan. From the piece:

The White House Conference on American History helped to introduce a new solution to the decline of history education in this country. American Achievement Testing (AAT), a new non-profit company, has formed an alliance with the historian Wilfred McClay, whose extraordinary new American history textbook, Land of Hope, is unlike any text currently available. In partnership with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), AAT recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to design instructional materials for K–12 U.S. history courses, with Land of Hope as their core text. Theodor Rebarber, CEO of AAT, Wilfred McClay, author of Land of Hope, and Peter Wood, president of NAS, all spoke at the White House Conference on American history, as did Jordan Adams, who supervises history instruction at the system of charter schools associated with Hillsdale College, where Land of Hope is used as a text. (Other presentations less directly related to AAT’s project are well worth watching.) President Trump touted the NEH grant during his speech and asked Rebarber, McClay, and Wood to stand and be recognized. (You can see a video of the conference, with talks by Wood, McClay, Rebarber, Adams, and others here, and video of the president’s remarks here.) AAT’s U.S. history course materials — and the way they will be adopted — hold the key to the president’s new education reform plans.

AAT’s strategy for reforming American history education — and eventually other subjects — represents a sharp break with the failed approach of the national education reform movement supported for years by the conservative education establishment. Instead of attempting to impose a de facto national curriculum (think Common Core, the College Board’s AP U.S. history framework, and plans for new national civics standards), AAT hopes to return our education system to the principles of federalism, competition, and local control. Before unpacking AAT’s reform strategy and explaining why it represents a better way than the quest for de facto national standards, let’s have a look at the unique features of AAT’s approach to American history instruction, beginning with Land of Hope.

12. Daniel J. Mahoney amplifies the reasons why the spirits of religion and liberty are central to an America that fulfills the potential of its Declaration and Constitution. From the essay:

Liberals once applauded religion, at least as an instrument for justice and as a reminder that everyone, including the highly placed and powerful, remained subject to the judgment of God. Abolitionism, the Social Gospel, and the civil rights movement were peopled by ministers and people of faith who freely appealed to moral conscience informed by the Gospel. Today’s left, with a few notable exceptions, appeals to a highly moralistic conception of social justice and doctrinaire equality. Their conception is shorn of any real emphasis on human sinfulness as a universal attribute, or on humility — and with it, the concomitant need for repentance, forgiveness, and mutual accountability. Those accredited with “victimhood” are said to be without sin, thus having no need for humility and self-limitation. Victimizers, ever more arbitrarily defined, are condemned as guilty for who they are rather than what they have done.

In this worldview, aggressive secularism and moralism go hand in hand with the reckless condemnation of whole groups and peoples. “White privilege,” for example, plays the same role that “kulaks,” Jews, and class enemies played in the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. (If the practice is not yet totalitarian, the theory most certainly is.) The deification of alleged “victims” and the demonization of the police and the majority population invites ostracism and “canceling” of many imperfect but decent people. Such acts of “woke” despotism are made possible by an arbitrary repudiation of common morality, religious humility, and the awareness of shared imperfection, all of which make repentance and forgiveness possible.

It is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the anarchists and proto-totalitarians among us in Antifa and Black Lives Matter (the movement, not necessarily the slogan) mock biblical religion, common morality, and the traditional family. BLM’s statement of purpose is a series of aggressive and predictable ideological clichés, rooted in a blatant repudiation of the moral and religious heritage of the West. These self-proclaimed “trained Marxists” do more than speak a wooden ideological language. Their adherents publicly assault innocents, burn Bibles, attack statues of historical figures and religious icons, and publicly display guillotines — guillotines! — while swarming the homes of prominent Americans, including liberals, whom they seek to threaten and humiliate. Politicians, corporations, and churchmen shamelessly apologize for, and even underwrite, these repulsive revolutionaries. Such self-destructive indulgence of totalitarian nihilism is evidence of just how deep our current crisis has become.

13. Jim Talent warns about ChiCom investment in U.S “greenfields.” From the Corner post:

Two years ago, I wrote about Congress’ efforts to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the interagency body that vets acquisitions of sensitive U.S. assets. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), which Congress passed in August of 2018, expanded the powers CFIUS has to review, and potentially block, investments by foreign entities that could pose as a threat to U.S. national security. Among its expanded powers, CFIUS now can review small investments, particularly in the technology, data, and infrastructure industries, that do not result in foreign control, and acquisitions of real estate near sensitive ports or military bases.

However, one important category of foreign transactions was left out of the bill — “greenfield investments,” particularly by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Greenfield investments result in the control of newly built facilities in the U.S., and they were not addressed inf the reform bill mostly because governors and state governments embrace them. That is understandable; they typically bring the promise of creating American jobs.

However, greenfield investments by Chinese SOEs pose a unique threat, and should be met with the highest scrutiny by all levels of government. This was certainly front of mind when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the National Governor’s Association’s winter meeting this past February.

Capital Matters, Which Is So Very True

1. Casey Mulligan says the numbers do not lie as they dispel Keynesian economics. From the beginning of the piece:

July was the final month of the historically disproportionate unemployment bonus of $600 per week. The termination or reduction of benefits will undoubtably make a difference in the lives of the people who were receiving them, but old-style Keynesians insist that the rest of us will be harmed too. They’re wrong.

Referring to the bonus sunset, Paul Krugman explained in August that “I’ve been doing the math, and it’s terrifying. . . . Their spending will fall by a lot . . . [and there is] a substantial ‘multiplier’ effect, as spending cuts lead to falling incomes, leading to further spending cuts.” GDP could fall 4 to 5 percent, and perhaps as much as ten percent, which is almost $200 billion less national spending a month.

Wednesday the Census Bureau’s advance retail-sales report provided our first extensive look at consumer spending in August, which is the first month with reduced benefits (reduced roughly $50 billion for the month). Did consumer spending drop by tens of billions, starting our economy on the promised path toward recession?

2. Steven Hanke argues that it is time to say hasta luego to Argentina’s peso. From the beginning of the piece:

In addition to facing an acute COVID-19 crisis, Argentina’s deadbeat economy is collapsing, and, as usual, the inflation noose is around Argentines’ necks. Argentina’s official inflation rate for August 2020 is 40.70 percent per year. And, for once, Argentina’s official rate is fairly close to the rate that I calculate each day using high-frequency data and purchasing-power-parity theory, a methodology that has long proved its worth when compared with official statistics. Today, I measure Argentina’s annual inflation rate at 37 percent, but probably not for long — the noose is generally followed by the trapdoor.

As Milton Friedman put it in his 1987 New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics entry “Quantity Theory of Money” (QTM), “The conclusion (of the QTM) is that substantial changes in prices or nominal income are almost always the result of changes in the nominal supply of money.” The income form of the QTM states that: MV=Py, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the price level, and y is real GDP (national income).

Let’s use the QTM to make some bench calculations to determine what the “golden growth” rate is for the money supply. This is the rate of broad money growth that would allow the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) to hit its inflation target. I calculate the “golden growth” rate for the past decade.

3. Eric Grover wants the Fed reined in. From the analysis:

The Fed isn’t independent or the policymaker. It is an instrument of Congress, which by statute directs it to conduct monetary policy to achieve “stable prices,” maximum employment, and moderate long-term interest rates. Stable prices mean inflation hovering around zero, not prices doubling every 35 years. If a 200-pound MMA fighter’s weight increased 2 percent every year to 244 pounds after a decade, nobody would suggest his weight was stable.

Shame on the Fed for “redefining” its role under the law. But shame on Congress for not insisting the central bank hew to statute.

If Congress wants inflation, it should pass legislation changing the Fed’s mandate to that effect, which President Trump or Biden would likely sign. But while many congressional cravens may want inflation, few want to go on record voting for it.

4. Brad Palumbo does the deep dive into the Biden Tax Plan and finds it’s going to bite any and all. From the article:

The GOP’s 2017 tax-reform bill reduced the U.S. corporate tax rate from 31 percent to 21 percent. This made our tax environment more competitive internationally, as our 31 percent levy was significantly higher than those of most other developed countries.

Biden, however, wants to mostly undo this reform and raise the corporate tax rate back to 28 percent. The Democrats’ narrative here is that they simply want businesses to “pay their fair share.” Who could oppose that?

There is just one problem: Corporations don’t actually pay the corporate tax. You do.

Yes, the government can technically send the tax bill to the corporate boardroom. But big businesses largely respond to higher taxes by increasing prices, holding back their wage bills, and reducing job creation, rather than eating the cost themselves.

Corporate-tax increases also incentivize off-shoring. It’s easy to see why: The more expensive the government makes it for multinational corporations to do business in the U.S., the more likely they are to move operations overseas — taking economic activity and jobs with them.

5. Ace reporter Jimmy Quinn investigates how the Trump TikTok ban can work. From the article:

Trump has a deal on his desk that could — if TikTok sticks to its promises — create over 20,000 jobs in the United States. It would require, though, the president’s acquiescence to Beijing, which has prohibited ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, from selling its algorithm. The Oracle bid “blessed” by the president is a bad deal from the standpoint of U.S. national security: ByteDance would retain majority control over TikTok, and although Oracle could inspect the app’s algorithm, that code would not come under U.S. ownership. It meets none of the criteria that Trump set out during the negotiations, and China hawks in the administration are lobbying him to turn it down.

Should he decide against the deal, the president has a solid way forward in Commerce Department guidelines issued last week that outline a how a ban would work.

“We have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement last Friday, announcing the guidelines that will implement Trump’s executive orders to ban TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese messaging app beholden to Beijing’s censorship and surveillance.

6. Andrew Stuttaford checks out the global wreckage from our lockdowns. From the commentary:

While brief, early lockdowns could be justified; what should have been done thereafter was devising protocols to live “with” the virus, combining more modest restrictions, focused above all on the most vulnerable, with extensive test-and-trace programs on the South Korean and German models, all the time remembering that (as Germany is now demonstrating) the latter is no panacea.

Instead the U.K. (but not just the U.K.) reinforced panic-mongering with coercion — lockdowns that were too late, too prolonged, and too draconian. Making matters even worse was the way the residents of care or nursing homes were treated, and again, not just in the U.K. Infamously, New York State sent recovering COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, with predictably disastrous consequences. For its part, Sweden was reluctant to dispatch care-home residents for hospital treatment, something that undoubtedly contributed to the higher death rate seen there (particularly when compared with its Nordic neighbors, a number that may have been further boosted — the ”dry tinder” thesis — by lower rates of flu in Sweden than elsewhere in the region in the immediately preceding years), and thus provided ammunition to those who were either genuinely opposed to Sweden’s less heavy-handed approach (which, incidentally, owed quite a bit to protections contained in the country’s constitution) or fearful that its success might represent a massive political embarrassment.

Sweden is Sweden, a society that still operates in an unusually cooperative manner. What worked in Sweden — low levels of compulsion combined with high compliance with advisory guidelines — would not work everywhere. Nevertheless, its record bears examining even if the Swedish authorities have stressed that their methods cannot be properly assessed until the end of the pandemic, an argument that implicitly rests on whether Sweden avoids a significant second wave.

Lights. Cameras. Review!

1. Kyle Smith finds some marvelous things in Nomadland. From the beginning of the review:

Throughout the entire history of the Academy Awards, the Best Picture trophy has never gone to a film primarily about the economic plight of white working-class Americans. On the Waterfront probably comes the closest, although that is more of a Mob drama about tribal loyalty.

And On the Waterfront came out 66 years ago. As the white working class turned away from the Democratic Party, Hollywood lost interest in the white working class, even as three of the last seven Best Picture winners have covered the sufferings of black Americans. So it’s surprising that perhaps the leading Oscar contender of the year so far, Nomadland, depicts the WWC with poignance and sensitivity, albeit with a left-wing spin. It walks the line between art and propaganda, which is why it’s an Oscar picture.

Nomadland, which is showing at the New York Film Festival ahead of a December theatrical release, opens with a somber title card reading, “On January 30, 2011, due to a reduced demand for Sheetrock, US Gypsum shut down its plant in Empire, Nevada, after 88 years.” So wholly abandoned was the town that the Postal Service shut down its zip code. People were dislocated as though by a Dust Bowl–sized calamity, but this nightmare is man-made. The film is a successor to John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath for the age of singletons, and like Ford’s masterpiece, it sprinkles sentimentalization into grit so deftly that it’s a marvel.

2. Kajillionaire wearies Armond White. From the beginning of the review:

“Most people want to be kajillionaires; that’s how they get you hooked,” explains Robert Dyne (Richard Jenkins) in Kajillionaire. Con artist Dyne heads a small clan of grifters that include his wife Theresa (Debra Winger) and daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood). They dress like hobos while pulling scams in modern Los Angeles that include slinking past the landlord of a cubicle-style apartment where they must perform an abstract-art chore collecting soap suds that ooze from the ceiling.

That’s right, Kajillionaire is an art thing — a movie by mercurial performance and gallery artist Miranda July. That also means that Robert Dyne’s statement is not exactly a political critique. July doesn’t satirize greed; she exhibits the same privileged relationship to capitalism as most independent “artists” who scam their way through the grant and foundation system yet disdain the mundane workaday existence of others. It’s a peculiarly class-based, bohemian ideology that Kajillionaire expresses with a perfectly oddball plot — the dreaded heist movie taken to philosophical extremes.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. More Mahoney: The eminent scholar takes to Public Discourse to tell the world of the greatness of Rod Dreher’s new book, Live Not by Lies. From the review:

As Rod Dreher demonstrates in his vitally important new book, Live Not by Lies, no such soul-searching or chastening of progressive illusions followed the anti-totalitarian revolutions of 1989, or the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later. Instead, democratic euphoria was combined with a continuing erosion of the pre-modern moral capital that gives modern liberty a more elevated appreciation of the meaning of life, as well as of the purposes of human freedom. In the last half century or so, a therapeutic culture has replaced the “reality principle” with the “pleasure principle,” as Freud called them. Respect for transcendent principles has also given way to a new cult of the autonomous self.

As moral self-limitation gave way to hedonism and hyper-individualism, and as civic spirit declined, democracy became more and more associated with an assault on all institutions and traditions that connected freedom to spiritual elevation and humanizing self-restraint. New and ever more militant ideological currents demanded social justice (i.e. doctrinaire egalitarianism of the most aggressive sort), cultural emancipation (e.g. same-sex marriage and gender ideology, with more and more exotic forms of “emancipation” to come), and the denial of objective truth. All of this is done in the name of the social construction of human nature and the linguistic construction of social reality. Social-justice warriors, gender theorists, and postmodern theorists of various stripes deny the very idea of a natural order of things and wish to silence or cancel all who continue to affirm its reality.

The demands of the Woke have become increasingly coercive, including the curtailment of the speech — and even employment — of those who question their reckless social and cultural agenda. Dreher speaks freely of an increasingly ascendant “soft totalitarianism.” In the present circumstances, such an appellation does not strike this reader as particularly hyperbolic. Like the totalitarians of old, the new totalitarians wish to erase historical memory and to rewrite history according to the willful ideological demands of the moment. They are cruel, vindictive, and moralistic, and thus incapable of acknowledging human frailty and fallibility. Their worldview in principle has no place for forgiveness, repentance, and civic reconciliation. Politics for them is war by other means — and perhaps not just other means.

2. At The American Conservative, Fr. Benedict Kiely lands a harsh critique of the Vatican’s footsie-playing with Red China. From the article:

Yet that is exactly what is happening at this moment as the Vatican and the Communist leaders of China prepare to renew a secret accord which was first agreed two years ago. Officially due for renewal on September 22, many reports indicate that it has already been agreed, in fact, at a September 14th meeting on, of all things, Ostpolitik, Cardinal Parolin stated that the agreement would be renewed by October. The Communist regime in China has persecuted the Church with various levels of attrition since coming to power in 1949. Like Hoxha’s regime in Albania, one of the particular concerns of the Chinese Communist government is that the Catholic Church is a “foreign power,” with foreign leadership, and hence must be brought under the control of the regime. As in other countries, the Communists created the “Patriotic Church” to control every aspect of Church life, in particular appointing bishops independent of the Vatican. A parallel “underground” Church emerged, loyal to Rome, and subject to many kinds of persecution.

The accord, signed in secret, in theory allowed for some kind of unity between the “official” Patriotic Church and the underground Church, especially focusing on the appointment of bishops with both Vatican and government approval. However, it seems to most knowledgable observers that the agreement gave most of the power to the regime and, two years later, more than half of China’s 98 Catholic dioceses are still without bishops. Meanwhile the official doctrine of the Communist party is to “sinicize” every aspect of religious life in China, not only Catholicism. Persecution of the underground Church has continued, with bishops and priests being arrested; just a few days ago, Fr. Liu Maochun, of the Catholic diocese of Mindong, was arrested by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the Communist State and disappeared for seventeen days.

According to the charity Open Doors USA, “every facet of persecution” of religion has increased in China in recent years, with the persecution of “Church life” — parish activity, religious education, social action — at what they measure as “90% persecution.” The world is only just beginning to realize the extent of the persecution of the Chinese Uighur Muslims, according to some experts reaching the level of genocide, with conservative estimates of more than 1.5 million Uighurs in “re-education camps.”

3. At Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Juliana Gerard Pilon explores the history of black radicalism’s blatant Jew Hate. From the article:

Though nothing new, the vicious antisemitism of radical Black leaders is especially painful considering the long history of joint advocacy among the Black and Jewish communities. That may explain at least in part Jewish reticence to confront the insults and calumny dished out in massive doses by their ideological brethren. There was, for example, very little outcry when, under the guise of protesting the death of George Floyd, gangs of thugs recently ran amok in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Los Angles shouting “f — ing Jews,” and targeting Jewish businesses and institutions with violence. One prominent community leader said unambiguously: “The Jewish community is in denial. The fact that synagogues got tagged and Jewish businesses were looted with [signs saying] ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Kill the Jews,’ is not a coincidence.” Some of the Jews who suffered material losses said that while they could empathize with the cause of the protestors, they could not condone the use of violence or understand why their businesses had been attacked.

Writing on the phenomenon of Jewish timidity in the face of Black antisemitism almost 30 years ago, even über-radical Rabbi Michael Lerner, who in the sixties headed the Berkeley chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was incensed. Perhaps since most Jews are white, many of them are afflicted with the prevailing mood of “white guilt,” perceiving themselves as benefiting from privileges denied to African-Americans.

4. At The Catholic Thing, Hadley Arkes explores the ways in which government reactions to the COVID pandemic have harmed unalienable rights. From the article:

When it comes, say, to laws imposing controls on wages and prices, the reflexive response has been: the right not to suffer those restrictions of freedom was never reserved against the government in the Bill of Rights, and so the authority to impose those laws must be part of the deep powers of the government.

In one of my books, I sought to pose the problem by offering two different laws or regulations. The first one bars obscene phone calls in the middle of the night. The second orders people to stay in their homes until given permission by their government to leave. One involves “speech” and so some would try to bring it under the First Amendment. The other involves a freedom never mentioned in the Bill of Rights.

And so the question: Would we actually allow the government to bear a much lesser burden of justification when it restricts our freedom to leave the house and move about in the outside world?

Who would have thought? Thirty years since I wrote those lines, we’ve had the question actually posed in the courts, as governments in the States have imposed lockdowns in the effort to deal with the contagion of COVID. In their duration and severity, those orders have run well beyond any precedents we have known in this country. But the powers of government to deal with the emergency have been assumed to be as large as the powers needed to deal with the crisis.

5. At Spectator US, Daniel McCarthy mocks the myth that the US Supreme Court is not a thing political. From the piece:

Yet elections and the Supreme Court do matter, and if one of the persistent myths of American politics expects the arrival of the Antichrist in the Oval Office any day now, another persistent myth is that of a non-political Supreme Court.

Roe v. Wade, the refrain goes, sparked these desperate battles over SCOTUS. When pressed, those who say this — often they’re centrists of a somewhat leftward tilt, but I’ve heard it from certain conservatives, too — will reluctantly admit that, yes, other decisions had this effect, not just recent decisions on ‘social issues,’ but Brown v. Board of Education too. And before that there was Dred Scott v. Sandford.

Depoliticizing the Court and sending contentious questions back to states, where they vanish in a puff of benign localist consensus, is simply not possible. It hasn’t been since the Civil War, whose outcome required the passage of constitutional amendments to guarantee that states couldn’t continue to deny black people their rights as Americans. The amendments, however, turned the Bill of Rights upside down. What had started out as restrictions on the federal government — hence ‘Congress shall make no law . . .’ — became, thanks to the interpretations of the 16th and 17th Amendments, restraints on every level of government, with the federal judiciary deciding what those restraints would mean in legal reality.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and rights of contract at every level of American society are tied into the Supreme Court through the incorporation doctrine. Roe or no Roe, Brown or no Brown, this always had political implications and was sooner or later bound to lead to increasing politicization of the confirmation process.

6. At Law & Liberty, Shanon Fitzgerald and Thomas Koenig are enjoying how the Department of Education has called Princeton’s “anti-racist” bluff. From the essay:

Rather than defend the real merits of the institution which he heads, President Eisgruber has chosen to drift with the prevailing winds of unfriendly, uncharitable, and unreasonable criticism. He has with his actions and words bought into — by failing to challenge — the ridiculous premise that Princeton is in any significant way contributing to or responsible for the injustices, unrest, and frustrations surrounding the issue of race that still plague our nation. In facing his woke critics, President Eisgruber chose the easy lie, and now his institution will suffer the consequences.

How will this end? First of all, we should note that when we report that Princeton doesn’t have a racism problem, we do have one caveat in mind. President Eisgruber’s public hand-wringing was obviously meant to speak to concerns, irrationally endemic within the University community, that the University in systemic fashion engages in anti-black racism and adverse discrimination against people of color. Based on our experiences living, studying, and otherwise existing within Princeton over the past four years, we expect that very little of this will be found. What the DoE might well find, however, and what they might truly be searching for, would be real discrimination on the basis of race, but of an altogether different sort. See the current federal civil rights cases regarding admissions practices at Harvard and Yale, over allegations of bias against Asian-American applicants.

This episode has broader cultural and political implications as well. President Eisgruber’s wish to avoid conflict with constituents to his left has made this yet another missed opportunity to advance productive dialogue concerning issues of race. The anti-racist rhetoric we’ve seen splashing across op-ed pages, Twitter feeds, and streetscapes this past summer has many excesses, and is desperately in need of a strong dose of reality and good-faith grappling with criticism. By engaging with his institution’s influential and vocal anti-racist bloc rather than kowtowing to them, President Eisgruber could have provided that faction — and our national discourse — with a strong dose of the medicine they so badly need. A real reckoning with truth about race would entail factual nuance and debate — not relentless dogma.

7. At The Human Life Review, Drew Letendre tries to keep up with the Cuomos, Father and Sons. From the essay:

Andrew Cuomo may be slightly less narcissistic than his brother. Admittedly, it’s a tight race. But Americans got a big dose of overweening self-regard in his nationally covered daily press conferences this spring. Cuomo’s public profile is second only to the president’s, and it positively towers over those of his fellow governors. Like his brother, Andrew is not without a temper. His prickliness, kept in check earlier on, was on full display as the weeks went by. To be fair, it could be that his composure began to buckle under the weight of the pandemic. Still, in my view, two episodes from those press conferences define the man.

The first was on March 23, when a Don Quixote-like governor took up arms against a straw man. Ventriloquizing for President Trump, who had speculated about when the country might get back to work, Cuomo erected a false opposition between saving human lives and saving the economy: “My mother is not expendable,” the governor intoned, “and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable and we’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable and we’re not going to put a dollar sign on human life.”

To hold these ends — economic flourishing and public health and safety — in some kind of fragile equipoise; to wager momentous bets while understanding the inevitable risks; and to try to anticipate the complex “caroms of the ball” with so much at stake, is not only the high calling of political leadership, it is unavoidable in a crisis like the pandemic. But according to the governor of New York, those who expressed concern about national economic implosion — that is, the president and his fellow Republicans — were people who had essentially lost their humanity and were going to end up killing other people, lots of other people, including Cuomo’s 88-year-old mother.

The irony — both gross and grotesque — was not lost on us. This much-publicized paean to “non-expendable” life came from the same man who signed into law an abortion liberty virtually without limit. Adding insult to injury (and death), Cuomo ordered the 1,776-foot tall Liberty Tower in lower Manhattan to be lit from tip to toe in pink, in lurid celebration of legislation securing the right to physically stab, decapitate, or otherwise dismember a living human being in utero, and then perhaps recycle her “parts” for profit. This for any reason, including motivations arising from the anticipated economic stress that the birth of a child could bring. So much for not putting dollar signs on human life. (In fact, according to a Planned Parenthood website, the value of a single human life is set somewhere between $435 and $955, contingent on the method of execution.)

8. At Quillette, Phillip W. Magness reviews the New York Times revisionists editing the 1619 Project. From the piece:

Discovery of this edit came about earlier this week when Nikole Hannah-Jones went on CNN to deny that she had ever sought to displace 1776 with a new founding date of 1619. She repeated the point in a now-deleted tweet: “The #1619Project does not argue that 1619 was our true founding. We know this nation marks its founding at 1776.” It was not the first time that Hannah-Jones had tried to alter her self-depiction of the project’s aims on account of the controversial line. She attempted a similar revision a few months ago during an online spat with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

But this time the brazen rewriting of her own arguments proved too much. Hannah-Jones’s readers scoured her own Twitter feed and public statements over the previous year, unearthing multiple instances where she had in fact announced an intention to displace 1776 with 1619.

The foremost piece of evidence against Hannah-Jones’s spin, of course, came from the opening passage of from the Times’s own website where it originally announced its aim “to reframe the country’s history” around the year “1619 as our true founding.” When readers returned to that website to cite the line however, they discovered to their surprise that it was no longer there.

The Times quietly dropped the offending passage at some point during the intervening year, although multiple screencaps of the original exist. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine suggests the alteration came around late December 2019, when the 1619 Project was facing an onslaught of criticism over this exact point from several distinguished historians of the American founding.

Baseballery

We note the passing of some Boys of Summer. Some true greats: Lou Brock and Tom Seaver. One an unfair butt-of-jokes symbol for the end of the Yankee Dynasty: Horace Clark (a pretty darned good second baseman, by the way). Rest in peace all. And now let us wish the same for two others.

The first: Howie Judson, who passed away in August at the age of 95. The former right hander for the White Sox and Reds pitched from 1948 to 1954, compiling a miserable 17-37 record and a lifetime 4.29 ERA. But that was done, essentially, with one eye — a high school accident severely and permanently damaged his left peeper. Still, we make note of his 1949 season — it would hard for a pitcher to have a worse one. Judson’s began on a high note, the only one of the season: In his first start — against the Tigers, in Detroit, on April 23rd — he pitched 6 2/3 innings, gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, and earned a win. It was to be the only one of the season. Without much offensive support (the White Sox ended the season at 63-91), Judson’s next 14 decisions were all losses.

He pitched in the Big Leagues a few more years, his best being 1951, with a 5-6 record and 3.77 ERA. Hs last victory came in 1954 against the Pirates: His two-run single in the bottom of the 7th broke a 1-1 tie and earned him the W.

Also passing away in August was Carroll Hardy, an outfielder who played for the Indians, Red Sox, and Astros before ending his MLB career in 1967 in a short stint as a pinch-hitter with the Minnesota Twins, in the thick of one of baseball’s best-ever pennant races (he went for 8, including a two-run pinch home run off of Yankee starter Fritz Peterson.

Hardy did have one of baseball’s singular distinctions. Two in fact. In 1960, playing for the Red Sox, he replaced Ted Williams in his final game on September 28th, taking left field in the top of the 9th after the Splendid Splinter hit his 521st and last home run in the previous frame.

A week earlier, in Baltimore, the two Red Sox made baseball history when Williams fouled a ball off his foot in the First Inning and had to be taken out of the game (the Orioles would prevail, 4-3). Hardy was tagged to pinch-hit — it was the only time in his storied career that anyone ever pinch hit for Williams (Hardy hit into a double play).

Hardy also played in the NFL prior to his baseball career, and started a few games for the San Francisco 49ers in 1955, catching four touchdown passes that season from the great Y.A. Tittle, including two in one game against the Green Bay Packers. Rest in peace.

A Dios

Months backs Your Humble Correspondent asked you to pray for a man, a father and husband and son of a friend, near death from cancer. That is no exaggeration. Many did pray. His mother, ecstatic, this week wrote: His primary tumor is gone. Gone. Something that is miraculous has happened here. To those who asked He Who Binds Our Wounds for mercy on this young man, thank you. He remains in some woods, and with God’s help — and if you might say another prayer — he will emerge from them soon.

God’s Graces on All, Even Those Who Do Not Seek Them,

Jack Fowler, who was lectured that he had used thusly when thus would have sufficed, thus and even thusly is able to receive other lectures on things grammatical and fantastical if sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Arson by Government

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

The West is ablaze. Tens of millions of dead trees, left to become mulch per bureaucrat order — except many have become ashes first. So too, the toasted homes of thousands, and the bodies of many a trapped and outflanked soul who could not escape the conflagrations. Victor Davis Hanson abides in the thick of the madness, with a home miraculously saved from the nearby (and still largely uncontained) Creek Fire, courtesy of some common-sensical old pros. He talks about this at the outset of the new episode of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast. Catch it here.

On the keyboard, VDH calls it the same old, same old California suicide. He offers yet another terrific analysis of a leftist-run state whose leaders seem to prefer flames to middle-class residents. From his essay:

Over the past 40 years, a small coastal cadre became the nexus of trillions of dollars in global income from high tech, computers, finance, tony universities, and Hollywood. As the middle class fled the new Hell of California, the poor of Mexico and Latin America discovered that what others called a wrecked state, broke from soaring social services and state pensions, nevertheless seemed to be heaven on earth compared with Oaxaca or El Salvador.

So the rich got really rich, the poor came in and got a little less poor, and the middle fled either out of state or to the Sierra and coastal foothills that are now aflame. So California’s destruction can be summed up in the hypocrisies and paradoxes of its bankrupt elite, who believe that their money insulates them from their own toxic ideology, and their virtue-signaling squares the circle of feeling guilty that they want nothing to do with the millions of poor they invited in and are relieved that they drove out millions in the middle classes.

Governor Gavin Newsom not long ago ordered shutdowns of non–Napa Valley wine-tasting rooms — the winery he owns conveniently being located in Napa and thus escaping the lockdown orders. A hyper-capitalist made rich by his inherited “white privilege,” he brags that the virus will provide the necessary fear and confusion to allow “opportunity for reimagining a [more] progressive era as it pertains to capitalism.”

Welp, as this puppy goes to press, the news has broken that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has passed away. Better pull up your asbestos BVDs, because there is going to be a political inferno that may make the last six months seem like roses and lollipops.

Enough! Let us to the Jolting get.

Editorials

The management of California’s forests has been not only a disgrace, but a major reason for the serial infernos. From the editorial:

In California, the upshot was a reduction in annual burning by 95 percent, and an attendant increase in the state’s vulnerability to fires. Dead trees and overcrowded forests became literal tinderboxes. Add to the decades of mismanagement a recent spike in tree mortality, due primarily to drought, and you get frequent, desolating fires.

The solution is simple in principle if not in practice, but a web of interests has held back progress in the Golden State. As a recent ProPublica investigation points out, “burn bosses in California can more easily be held liable than their peers in some other states if the wind comes up and their burn goes awry,” but they face no consequences for allowing overgrowth. Federal legislation requiring environmental reviews for the simplest of forest-management projects makes it doubly difficult. Meanwhile, homeowners strenuously oppose the inconveniences that come with controlled burns in their neighborhoods.

Better forest management would go a long way toward making California safer, but given Newsom’s response, we won’t hold our breath. Instead, we should make room for businesses and households to solve the problem on their own by incentivizing private burning and clearing.

National Review Brilliance — More Fun Than Two Barrels of Monkeys! — Awaits

1. Rich Lowry says the expert’s Middle-East mockery was incredibly wrong, and Jared Kushner . . . right. From the column:

One of the administration’s projects was crafting a $50 billion economic plan for the Palestinians, then holding a conference in Bahrain promoting it. A piece in the progressive publication Mother Jones was titled, “Highlights From Jared Kushner’s Bizarre and Fantastical Middle East Peace Conference.”

When the administration prepared to follow this up with a peace plan, an expert warned in Foreign Policy: “Trump Must Not Let Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan See the Light of Day.” When the plan was released, another expert wrote an analysis for The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “I’m a Veteran Middle East Negotiator. Trump’s Plan is the Most Dangerous I’ve Ever Seen.” A column in the Washington Post declared, “The Trump administration’s new Mideast ‘peace’ plan is absurd.”

Vox opined, “Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get it.”

Vanity Fair ridiculed a Kushner criticism of the Palestinian leadership as, “Jared Kushner: Palestinians Have Never Done Anything Right in Their Sad, Pathetic Lives.” It noted there was video: “Don’t worry, there’s footage of Kushner making this statement, so it can be played back for all eternity.”

It seems pretty unlikely that anyone is going to go back to it now.

2. Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe have launched an inspirational 1619 Project counterattack called “1776 Unites.” Mairead McArdle has the story. From the piece:

Two black leaders are launching “1776 Unites,” a new high school curriculum that aims to combat victimhood culture in American society by telling the stories of black Americans who have prospered by embracing America’s founding ideals.

Civil rights veteran Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe, a charter school leader, gave remarks Wednesday on the new curriculum and what they hope it will accomplish for young black students and students of all races.

The curriculum’s goal is to “let millions of young people know about these incredible stories, African-Americans past and present, innovative, inventive, who faced adversity, did not view themselves as victims, and chose pathways to be agents of their own uplift,” said Rowe, who is also a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The curriculum says it will present “life lessons from largely unknown, heroic African-American figures from the past and present who triumphed over adverse conditions” and aims to help young people of all races “be architects of their own future by embracing the principles of education, family, free enterprise, faith, hard work and personal responsibility.”

3. David Harsanyi recounts the Secret Li(f)e of Joe Biden. From the piece:

Now, don’t fret. Biden is no stranger to peril. During a presidential primary debate in 2007, he told viewers about the time he had been “shot at” during a trip to the Green Zone in Iraq.

In any event, the naval officer in question would not let Biden pin the medal on him. “God’s truth, my word as a Biden,” the former senator said. “He stood at attention, I went to pin him, he said: ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me sir, please. Do not do that. He died. He died.’”

The only problem with this moving tale was that Biden never visited Kunar province as vice president nor did he ever pin a silver star on any Navy captain, much less one who refused to accept the honor. Nor, incidentally, had Biden ever been “shot at” by anyone.

The media dug up some vaguely similar tale — an Army specialist who had a medal pinned on him by Barack Obama at the White House — so they could claim that Biden had “misremembered” and “conflated” details. But he’s been doing this kind of thing for decades.

It was Biden whose “soul raged upon seeing the dogs of Bull Connor,” who claimed to have marched in the civil-rights movement. “When I was 17, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses,” Biden told audiences in his first presidential bid. In 2014, he was still going on about how he “got involved in desegregating movie theaters.”

In the real world, Biden was 17 in 1959, and it is exceptionally unlikely, nor is there any evidence, that he had participated in any sit-ins at the local Wilmington cinemas, or anywhere else.

4. More Harsanyi: Mattis is no hero when it comes to Trump. From the article:

That Trump’s political choices aren’t favored by Washington’s entrenched foreign-policy elites — people who have been wrong so often that they make the Congressional Budget Office look like Nostradamus — is unsurprising. But it’s worth noting that Mattis’s record here is hardly spotless. Mattis alleges that he no longer could stomach Trump’s “disdain” for the allies. On Tuesday, Trump held a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Arab countries that have normalized agreements with the Jewish State. This alone is a bigger foreign-policy victory than anything accomplished by Obama — who had great “disdain” for long-standing allies such as Israel.

Perhaps the retired Marine Corps general, who’d “buried too many boys,” was genuinely concerned that Trump would escalate violence. Nevertheless, there’s a strong argument to be made that more “boys” would have been buried if Trump — the first president who hasn’t gotten us into a new conflict since Jimmy Carter — had taken Mattis’s advice on Syria. (Trump now claims Mattis also dissuaded him from assassinating Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.)

It’s only fair to point out that Mattis alienated himself from the Obama administration, too, by taking an aggressive stance on Iran after the Islamic regime murdered hundreds of American soldiers, and that, in those days, Mattis wasn’t portrayed as an “esteemed” military man of indisputable integrity, but rather as a saber-rattler who was undercutting Obama’s alleged peacemaking efforts.

5. Alexandra DeSanctis explains the Trump administration’s expansion of its Mexico City policy. From the analysis:

The policy has been followed by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan enacted it in 1984, and undone by every Democratic president over the same period. But when President Trump came to office, rather than just reinstating the policy, he broadened it to apply not just to the State Department and USAID but also to the Office of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and the Defense Department.

When it applied only to the State Department and USAID, the Mexico City policy covered about $600 million in U.S. aid directed to international family-planning programs. The Trump administration’s original expansion, dubbed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (PLGHA), covers nearly $9 billion in federal aid money. And now, the administration has proposed further broadening the PLGHA so that it covers global-health-aid contracts and subcontracts awarded by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

6. Joel Zinberg finds that cancel culture has come to medicine, looking for the scalp of Scott Atlas. From the beginning of the commentary:

Cancel culture has come to medicine. Dr. Scott Atlas, who was chairman of neuroradiology at Stanford’s medical school until 2012 and more recently a senior fellow at the university’s Hoover Institution, has been singled out for professional erasure by 98 of his former Stanford medical, epidemiological, and health-policy colleagues because he had the temerity to join President Trump’s coronavirus task force and advocate rational measures for safely reopening the economy. Their criticisms are unfair, yet typical of today’s political and academic climate.

Atlas’s one-time colleagues published an open letter to other medical-school faculty accusing him of “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” that “run counter to established science.” The letter — written on Stanford Medicine letterhead that falsely suggests the imprimatur of the medical school — does not cite any publications or specific statements by Dr. Atlas and does not specify exactly what “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” he allegedly made. But it insinuates that his “failure to follow the science — or deliberately misrepresenting the science — will lead to immense avoidable harm.”

The letter lists five statements supported by “the preponderance of data” and implies that Atlas disagrees with them. The first says that face masks, social distancing, and handwashing reduce the spread of Covid-19. The authors do not cite anywhere where Atlas made claims to the contrary. A recent New York Times article claiming Atlas doubts the efficacy of mask wearing miscites an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson in which Atlas actually said people need not wear masks when they are alone but should wear masks when around others and unable to socially distance.

7. Nate Hochman cites the rise of Latino Republicans. From the article:

What’s most notable is that Trump is now leading Biden by a point or so with the area’s Hispanic voters, who make up 70 percent of Miami-Dade’s total population. Polling in a single county is insufficient evidence for sweeping political conclusions, of course. But Trump’s surprisingly good performance with Hispanic Floridians is mirrored by a number of different polls that suggest a national rightward movement among Latinos. In spite of his hardline rhetoric on immigration, Trump won nearly 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016, and may well be on track to win a larger slice in 2020: As of June, only 59 percent of Hispanic voters said they plan to back Biden over Trump, a step down from the 66 percent that Hillary Clinton won four years ago. And by most metrics, Trump’s approval rating with Hispanics — currently hovering around 40 percent — has been steadily climbing since his inauguration.

These numbers challenge a core assumption shared by both major party establishments: the idea that nonwhite, immigrant voters are predestined to vote Democratic. For Democrats, this assumption manifests in revealingly eager rhetoric about the inevitability of progressivism’s political triumph in a diversifying country. Meanwhile, for Republicans, the fear that “demographics are destiny” — that a less-white America is necessarily a more left-wing one — often drives the increased propensity for immigration restrictionism.

8. Food for thought: Cameron Hilditch serves up some interesting perspective on Abe Lincoln as contentious with the thrust of Madison’s Constitution. From the essay:

Lincoln could not have disagreed more strenuously. In his speech at Peoria in 1854 he declared that he hated Douglas’s Nebraska bill because it enabled “the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites, . . . and especially because it forced so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil-liberty — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principal of action but self-interest.”

This should not be taken as a simple moral objection to the law in question. For Lincoln, public opinion on matters of morality was of the utmost importance to practical politics. He wrote that “our government rests on public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.” He further observed that “public opinion, on any subject, always has a ‘central idea’ from which all its minor thoughts radiate. . . . The ‘central idea’ in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be ‘the equality of men.’” For Lincoln, the preservation of the republic depended upon the presence of certain convictions in the hearts and minds of the people rather than their proclivity to pursue their interests. The debates with Douglas were about nothing less than the question of which idea would be the “‘central idea’ from which all . . . minor thoughts radiate” in the United States of America.

9. The Swiss want out, says Kevin Williamson, of an EU they’re not even in. From the article:

While the United Kingdom flounders through its divorce from the European Union, Switzerland is holding a national referendum that would sever key parts of the Swiss-EU relationship. Independent-minded Switzerland has never become a formal EU member, but it is as a practical matter economically integrated into the union, and, to an extent, socially integrated as well.

That integration is the result of Switzerland’s being a member of the Schengen area, which facilitates the free movement of people across European borders. Swiss people generally do not need a visa to work or reside in an EU country, and — more to the point of the upcoming referendum — most citizens of EU countries do not need a visa to live or work in Switzerland. Switzerland’s ruling Swiss People’s Party (SVP) opposes deepening ties with the European Union and strongly desires to reduce immigration to Switzerland. In 2010, the SVP successfully campaigned for a popular initiative calling for the mandatory expulsion of foreigners convicted of serious crimes. In 2014, the SVP successfully campaigned for a referendum to limit immigration by imposing numerical quotas.

That quota system would have conflicted with Switzerland’s obligations under its existing relationship with the European Union, and so the government imposed an alternative (requiring Swiss employers to favor Swiss applicants in hiring in areas with above-average unemployment) that opponents criticized, not unfairly, as a refusal to implement a duly passed popular initiative — and such initiatives are an important feature of Swiss democracy. The current referendum debate is a continuation of that fight.

10. Madeleine Kearns catches Nancy Pelosi and her hairdo interfering with Brexit. From the beginning of the piece:

Nancy Pelosi is a busy lady. When she isn’t out and about on the streets of San Francisco, ducking into a salon to get her hair done, she is — I can only presume — reading up on the ins and outs of European international law. If you, like countless others, are having difficulty following the notorious complexity of the Brexit-induced Irish border debacle — worry not! Nancy, top Democrat and a master of EU talking points, can be relied upon to illuminate.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.–U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” Pelosi said in a statement last week. Funny that for someone so confident (“absolutely no chance”), her fears (“violates” and “undermines”) are so vague.

Daniel Hannan, a former member of the European Parliament, argues convincingly in the Telegraph that the fearmongering over the Good Friday agreement is merely a continuation of the same cynical politicking that Brussels has been up to since Britain’s former prime minister, Theresa May, lost her parliamentary majority three years ago. “Only in late 2017 did Eurocrats come up with the outré notion that they might somehow keep Northern Ireland within their grip,” Hannan writes. While Boris Johnson acquired a strong majority (in last December’s general election), Hannan notes that he initially “inherited [May’s] minority and her draft Withdrawal Agreement,” and with it “her dilemma.”

11. More Kearns: She checks out the Trans-detractors of J.K. Rowlings’ new novel. From the piece:

It’s strange which lessons you remember from childhood and which you forget. For example, I do remember being told not to judge a book by its cover. I don’t remember being taught not to judge a book by three words used by one reviewer in a newspaper that I don’t normally read. I don’t remember being taught not to seize on three such words to proclaim that whoever provoked them ought to be dead. Whether I have my parents, teachers, or creator to thank — I somehow managed to acquire this pearl of wisdom.

The Daily Telegraph’s Jake Kerridge wrote that J. K. Rowling’s new book, Troubled Blood, written under the male pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is about a “transvestite serial killer.” The novel’s moral, he avers, “seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.” Reading these words, I thought, Hmm, you know, I think I’ll read it and decide what the moral is for myself, thank you very much. Only two days before, I had lost confidence in the Daily Telegraph reviews section when I saw that another writer there enthused that Cuties — a film that blatantly and indefensibly sexualizes preteen girls — had “pissed off all the right people” in an “age so terrified of child sexuality.” (Maybe in the interest of the Telegraph, the young should be taught not to judge a paper by its reviewers.)

In any case, whatever Kerridge’s shortcomings as an interpreter of moral lessons in crime novels, the usual miserable cretins at Pink News — a pathetically sloppy LGBTQ+ propaganda website, which never fails to out-embarrass itself — seized on the three words “transvestite serial killer” and reported that Troubled Blood (a book they had not read) was “about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims.” This immediately prompted the Twitter hashtag #RIPJKRowling, signifying that the author responsible for this “transphobic” work — a work of fiction — ought to be treated as if she were dead, which obviously she ought to be.

12. Biblical ignorance is reaching biblical proportions warns Luther Ray Abel. From the piece:

A student attending college in the humanities should know who Noah was and what made his boat better than most. The student need not believe that Noah existed, or that his animal magnetism was as great as is said, or how long-lived his children were. Yet he ought to at least be aware of the fact that, say, the image of the dove returning to the vessel with the olive branch in its beak repeats as a symbol of peace and salvation throughout the Bible and Western literature.

When schools, and the parents whose voices influence said institutions, balk at the thought of their children being exposed to the Bible — not as a religious text but as an affecting collection of stories — the kids are deprived of the groundwork necessary to approach the Great Books with any level of background understanding. I am not asking for seminarian depth here. I’m simply suggesting that the mention of Ruth should make the reader immediately recognize she is a figure of import in the Bible and that researching her story will help to better understand Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

While Christianity has been on the wane in the West for some time, there seems to me to be a generational difference in religious familiarity. The older generations, while eschewing organized religion, still recognize and trade in biblical metaphor routinely. Those my age and younger, on the other hand, have entirely secular replacements. The Harry Potter series is often the choice for simile for many my age or younger. No longer is an evil man “the devil” or “anti-Christ,” but a “Voldemort.” An agnostic college student 60 years ago would have been more likely to recognize many of the Catholic virtues and allegories in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s fantasy stories, respectively. Today I very much doubt the same could be said.

The October 5, 2020 Issue of NR Is Red Hot about the Blue Left

Volume LXXII, No. 18 is flying out of the printing plant and getting into the hands of that old Postal Service, destined for many a conservative-sanity-hungering mailbox. Of course, all the contents are available right now on NRO. (If you have an NRPLUS subscription then eat up . . . if you don’t, well, watch out for that paywall!) Every piece published (oh yeah — the issue carries our annual education special section) is a delight, but here are four suggestions for you Jolters:

1. Joel Kotkin, in the cover essay, explains how our Blue-run cities have failed the working class and minorities, and cautions — they’re going to get even bluer. From the essay:

The political base of blue America comprises dense, big core cities. In New York, San Francisco, and other major urban centers, Democrats often win upward of 80 percent of the vote. The Democratic convention paraded a bevy of former and current mayors, from Michael Bloomberg (who governed New York as a Republican and an independent) to San Antonio’s Julián Castro to Senator Cory Booker (formerly Newark, N.J., mayor) to Atlanta’s Keisha Lance Bottoms, as exemplars of the kind of leadership the country needs.

Yet embracing the core cities as role models for America’s future is increasingly problematic. Even before the pandemic, big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were losing population, with migration shifting to suburbs and lower-cost metros. The blue strategies — affirmative action, higher taxes, expanded social programs, more regulation — certainly have not slowed poverty’s spread; in the years between 1980 and 2018, the number of high-poverty metropolitan census tracks doubled in population while the wealth gap between these areas and affluent areas grew. Incomes in these poor areas grew in the 1980s and 1990s but have not grown since 2000.

The coronavirus has been particularly brutal for the urban poor. Some of this reflects the impact of density: Counties with 25,000 people per square mile suffered a fatality rate roughly five times that of areas with typical suburban densities. Overall, counties with densities over 10,000 per square mile constitute less than 4 percent of the nation’s population but have suffered nearly 15 percent of the deaths associated with the pandemic. By comparison, in the most typical suburban areas (urban densities of 1,000 to 2,500 per square mile), where 53 percent of the population lives, the COVID fatality rate is approximately one-fifth of that. In largely rural counties (urban densities of under 1,000), it’s one-sixth.

Dense urban areas generally have suffered more in the pandemic because of what the demographer Cox labels “exposure density” brought on by insufficiently ventilated places such as crowded housing, transit, elevators, and office environments. The most vulnerable to infection and fatalities have been those living in minority urban communities with higher rates of poverty and household crowding, such as in New York’s outer boroughs, East and South Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago’s huge South Side and West Side ghettos. In comparison, dense but affluent areas — upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and Chicago’s Gold Coast — have suffered fewer fatalities and less economic dislocation.

2. The great historian Allen Guelzo investigations the myths about Robert E. Lee, a man usually, but not always, in control of himself. From the essay:

The pursuit of redemptive perfection lies behind much of the fierce uprightness that met so many people’s eyes, and it was Lee’s determination to be Not-Light-Horse-Harry that fired his impatience and eventually his ferocious outbursts of temper at his own and others’ imperfections. That did not mean that Robert would enjoy the shackles of perfection, and it came as a shock to Ann Carter Lee when in 1824 Robert announced his desire to attend West Point. “How can I live without Robert?” she wailed, “He is both son and daughter to me.” She would have been more disturbed still if she could have sensed how much Robert, for all his uncomplaining self-sacrifice, longed to be unencumbered of his mother as much as of his father. “I thought,” he wrote, “& intended always to be one & alone in the World.” “I am fond of independence,” Lee wrote, and that, as he explained in 1851, was linked to his perfectionist impulse. “It is that feeling that prompts me to come up strictly to the requirements of law and regulations. I wish neither to seek or receive indulgence from anyone. I wish to feel under obligation to no one.”

The problem with the longing for independence is that it does not guarantee security, and security was precisely the most damaging subtraction that Light-Horse Harry made in Robert’s life. So, as much as Robert Lee longed to be his own man, he was also aware that the independent man could very well be the impoverished, neglected man, and security was one of the major attractions of a career in the U.S. Army. For the tiny cadre of officers who commanded the pre–Civil War army, there was no mandatory retirement age, and once in, many stayed in, at paid rank, until their last breath. To be sure, the Army was not generous, but it was one of the few professions in the republic that guaranteed a roof over one’s head.

3. Stanley Kurtz blasts the call for 1619 curriculum. From the article:

The 1619 Project uncorked an agitated bottle of champagne. The imprimatur of the New York Times granted permission for a wholesale repudiation of our past to a generation long taught to devalue America and the Founding. After a quarter century of Howard Zinn’s distortions of American history, leftist textbooks, and the College Board’s revisionist AP U.S.-history curriculum, the civic collapse conservatives have warned of since Buckley’s God and Man at Yale is finally upon us. The 1619 Project laughably implies that slavery and racism are given short shrift in today’s American-history classes. To the contrary, slavery and racism have been major themes of history textbooks for decades. The 1619 Project takes that focus to another level — singling out slavery, and its aftermath, as the essence of American history and dismissing the remainder of the story as dross. There is more at work here than decades of Zinn and his leftist progeny, however. The collapse of traditional forms of family, community, and religion has helped to bring on the woke revolution. A generation for which family breakup is rife, family formation delayed, loneliness endemic, and secularism on the rise is ill-disposed to feel gratitude or loyalty to a shared community, nation, or civilization. There is little left to believe in beyond our moral bottom lines.

4. David Mamet gives a history lesson, which is what you might expect from a piece titled Hamlet and Oedipus Meet the Zombies. From the beginning of the article:

Revolutions begin with mutual discovery of the ideologues and the Jacobins: the first happy to have come upon compatible souls, the second to have found dupes.

On accession to power, the ideologues become apparatchiks, thrilled with their ability to control events. This brief phase culminates with their murder by their former partners.

The ideologues, in their brief illusion of authority, are happy to invent new names for themselves (Citizen, Comrade), and for every other thing under the sun (his-her-ze-they-them); they are let free to run through the big-box store of culture, effacing and changing the labels, that is, controlling speech.

The penalty for opposition, as we see, rises almost on the instant. First as the expression of opinion is characterized as dissent, then calumniated, and dissent (now called “aggression”) is re-identified as lack of active assent.

Those seeking to avoid, first, discord, then censure and the loss of income, find, quickly, they have nowhere to hide and must choose active endorsement of ideas repulsive to them, or blacklisting.

After the inevitable Night of the Long Knives, the threat of blacklisting is up – graded to that of imprisonment or death.

Capital Matters

1. Christopher Barnard finds the private sector is shaping the future of nuclear energy. From the piece:

Last week, the future of nuclear energy got an immense boost. U.S. officials greenlit America’s first-ever commercial small modular reactor, to be constructed in eastern Idaho by a company called NuScale Power. The first will be built by 2029, with eleven more to follow by 2030.

Nuclear energy already provides 20 percent of American energy production, representing 60 percent of all clean energy in this country. Yet nuclear energy has stalled for several decades now, having fallen by 9 percent in terms of global energy generation since 2006. Of the 60 plants in operation in the United States, nine have already announced that they are closing, 16 are “at risk” of closure, and five are already gone. Together, this represents 15 percent of all carbon-free energy production in America.

Yet NuScale Power’s recently approved design marks a landmark achievement for the future of nuclear energy: the move towards smaller, more high-tech nuclear reactors — a type dominated by private-sector competition. These small modular reactors (SMRs) represent a real chance for energy innovation in the United States, and an opportunity to lead the world. As we increasingly seek to move away from fossil fuels and toward carbon-free forms of energy, SMRs will play a crucial role. We simply cannot rely on renewables such as solar and wind energy alone yet, meaning that competitive, new-generation reactors can fill that gap and reverse the trend of nuclear decline.

2. The benefits of hydraulic fracturing, writes Jon Miltimore, are something that even Kamala Harris cannot deny. From the article:

In a recent interview with CNN correspondent Dana Bash, the Democratic nominee for vice president said she supports Joe Biden’s official position on fracking, which would freeze out new fracking permits but not ban the practice altogether.

“Joe is saying, one, those are good-paying jobs in places like Pennsylvania,” Harris said, before adding that Biden also supports renewable-energy alternatives.

It’s no accident that Harris mentioned Pennsylvania, and not just because the state has 20 electoral votes and is currently considered a tossup by RealClearPolitics.

Natural gas produced by fracking has been instrumental in the revitalization of the Keystone State’s economy. It has become to Pennsylvania what cheese is to Wisconsin, corn to Iowa, and oranges to Florida.

Natural-gas production in Pennsylvania surged by nearly 50 percent between 2014 and 2018, government statistics show. The 6.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas produced annually in Pennsylvania ranks second in the U.S., trailing only Texas, a state that could soon be displaced by Pennsylvania as the country’s largest energy producer. The Energy Information Administration says Pennsylvania’s production of dry natural gas, a clean-burning hydrocarbon, is growing faster (and in greater volume) than that of any state at any time in American history since the agency began recording figures in 1951.

3. Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann warn that the learning losses of COVID-closed schools will mean permanent economic setbacks for the education-deprived student. From the piece:

We found that the economic future of the current cohort of K–12 students has been compromised by the school closures that occurred in spring 2020. If schools miraculously returned immediately to their 2019 performance, these students can on average expect some 3 percent lower income over their entire lifetimes. More distressingly, nobody believes that the reopening policies currently in motion will actually get students back soon to the learning pace of the past.

While the precise learning losses are not yet known, estimates suggest that the students in grades one through twelve affected by the closures might have already lost the equivalent of one-third of a year of schooling. Unless schools actually get better than they were in 2019, existing research indicates this will lead to permanently lower future earnings.

These learning losses will have lasting economic impacts both on the affected students and the nation unless they are effectively remediated. Estimates in our recently released paper indicate that the lower long-term growth for the United States that is related to such learning losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century. Our best estimates are that the already accrued learning losses will amount to $14.2 trillion in current dollars (present value over the remainder of the century). These economic losses would grow if schools are unable to restart quickly.

4. James Broughel makes the case for regulation reform as a driver of economic growth. From the article:

Are regulations bad for the economy, such that removing them will boost economic growth? You might be surprised to learn that until not that long ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of solid empirical evidence on the question either way. Sure, economic theory offered sound reasons to believe that regulations stunt growth by displacing business investments and misallocating resources and talent away from their most productive uses. But few statistical studies had the data to back up that belief, because historically it’s been hard to measure regulation’s economic impact. And in economics, what gets measured tends to be what gets studied.

Thankfully, this state of affairs has begun to change in recent years. Since around the turn of the century, the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have put together indices of regulation that measure its extent across countries. By now, we have several decades of data accumulated, and they are informative.

Recently, Robert Hahn and I reviewed studies published in the peer-reviewed academic literature that rely on these indices to explore the extent to which regulations affect economic growth or productivity (which is a proxy for growth). Virtually every study in our sample pointed in the same direction: Regulation that restricts entry into an industry or imposes anti-competitive restrictions on product or labor markets has a negative impact on growth. This held true across a variety of countries, industries, and time periods, and across studies employing a variety of methodologies and statistical techniques.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. He’s Armond White, hear him roar — and not with praise for the Helen Reddy biopic, I Am Woman. From the review:

Fact is, “I Am Woman” exemplifies one of most blatantly craven acts in pop-music history. Actress Cobham-Hervey, who resembles a tall, wily Mia Farrow, accurately conveys Reddy’s defensive, tomboyish stance (while Chelsea Cullen expertly dubs the singing), but it’s husband Jeff who explains the song to record execs: “What my wife is saying is she’s tapped into something.” This cynicism, followed by footage of women’s-lib street protests, is confirmed when Reddy wins the Best Pop Vocal Grammy (beating out Roberta Flack and Barbra Streisand) and gives an acceptance speech that taunted the FCC: “I’d like to thank God because She makes everything possible.”

The women’s-rights movement has a different, harsher tone today. I Am Woman exploits that change without coming to terms with it. Australian director Unjoo Moon (wife of cinematographer Dion Beebe) and screenwriter Emma Jensen justify Reddy’s careerist opportunism — her restless housewife’s intimidation and sense of entitlement. Scenes of showbiz ruthlessness are left to the man who is brutish enough to unscrew that bottle of ketchup. Pure-heart Helen recalls the ambitious fashion model Hannah Schygulla played in Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972), whom scholar Peter Matthews described as a woman “who unapologetically exploits her natural capital to grasp the main chance.”

2. More Armond: Nope, he doesn’t like director Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock. From the review:

McQueen’s phony nostalgia for the pre-hip-hop era when blacks were more culturally unified (“Put a smile on everybody’s face, no frowns!” urges the rotund DJ), inspires this film’s segregated visual scheme. The colorfully dressed partiers waft through a ganja haze, warm hues keyed to a blue-vinyl record placed on the turntable — a Gauguin touch. But these roving tableaux, also borrowed from Harlem photographer Roy DeCarava and Ernie Banks’s cover art for Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album, cannot be entirely trusted. The exoticism satisfies those self-aggrandizing political poseurs who pretend identification with black culture but have hijacked and perverted it in the political world.

On screen, Claire Denis employed black Parisian exoticism without condescension in 35 Shots of Rum, but the exoticism of Lovers Rock is sinister (prelude to an upcoming series of political tracts under the title “Small Axe”). McQueen is the celebrated turncoat revolutionaries used to condemn as a “native informant.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At The American Conservative, excerpting from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s memoirs (Volume 2 of Between Two Millstones), the great writer recounts how the oath of citizenship is a real thing that demands the consent of the conscience. From the piece:

We went home and now I did read the form and, at the same time, the text of the oath — it turned out to have been sent us as well.

“. . . I absolutely and entirely renounce . . . allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate — (they’ve kept that since the eighteenth century) — state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen . . .”

But to which state was I renouncing fidelity? The Soviet state? My Soviet citizenship had been taken away eleven years ago. And there’s no Russian state on the planet.

But all the same, it jarred. I didn’t feel right.

“. . . I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. . . .”

Well now, I’ve been trying to warn you about your domestic enemies, about the loony-left press and crooked politicians for years, but you never picked up on it.

“. . . that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States . . .”

There it was. I’d have to fight against my own country. And yet you’re not even capable of waging war on the Communists as such, you’ve already declared it a war on the “Russians.”

“. . . and I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion . . .”

Ah, there’s the rub. Of course I did have a reservation: I wouldn’t go fight Russians.

But so what? Hadn’t we told plenty of lies at Soviet meetings? Hadn’t I once taken an oath of allegiance when I was in the Red Army, without identifying myself with Stalin’s top brass? And wasn’t it water off a duck’s back?

True enough, but it still jarred. An oath is laughter to the foolish and terror to the wise.

2. At The American Mind, Newt Gingrich — shut down on a Fox News program when he condemns George Soros’s role in electing pro-criminal DAs — pushes back. From the article:

Soros and his organizations spent $1.7 million to help get Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner elected in 2018. Before being elected, Krasner earned a name for himself by suing the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times. Since he took office, dozens of experienced prosecutors have either been fired or resigned. Criminal prosecutions have plummeted and crime has risen. Philadelphia now has the second-highest murder rate among large cities in the country.

Former Hugo Chavez advisor and current San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was also funded by Soros and his groups. Boudin has called prison “an act of violence” and has refused to prosecute a slew of illegal acts, from public urination to the public solicitation of sex, which he deems to be “quality of life crimes.” By the way, Boudin is the foster child of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, of terrorist group Weather Underground fame. His birth parents were convicted and imprisoned for their involvement in an armed robbery-turned-homicide.

One of Soros’s favored PACs spent $402,000 to support a failed San Diego County District Attorney bid by Geneviéve Jones-Wright.

In 2016, a Soros-funded super PAC donated $107,000 to benefit Raul Torrez in his Bernalillo County District Attorney primary — which he won by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, Soros’s huge funding prompted the Republican running to bow out because it was just too expensive to run against Torrez.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh writes that Gulf State Arabs, even before the Trump administration helped forge new peace accords, had come to believe that Israel was not their enemy — but that Iran and Turkey may indeed be. From the piece:

Until recently, it was unimaginable to see Arabs openly admitting that they had been mistaken in their belief that Israel was the enemy of the Muslims and Arabs. Now, Arabs seem to have no problem saying that they were wrong all these years about their attitude toward Israel. These Arabs now are saying out loud that Iran and its proxies in the Arab world, and not Israel, are the real enemies of Arabs and Muslims.

Until recently, most Arab writers, journalists and political activists avoided any form of criticism of the Palestinians. Such criticism was considered taboo in the Arab world: the Palestinians were considered the poor spoiled babies who were suffering as a result of the conflict with Israel. Now, however, one can find in Arab media outlets more criticism of the Palestinians and their leadership than in Western media, or even in Israeli media.

Until recently, for most Arabs, the terms peace and normalization (with Israel) were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat and shame. No longer. Many Arabs are openly talking about their desire for peace with Israel. These Arabs are saying that they are looking forward to reaping the fruits of peace with Israel and that it is time that Arab countries prioritize their own interests.

4. At The College Fix, Stephen Baskerville uncovers the new and contrived ways colleges have developed to suppress politically incorrect professors. From the article:

Two methods, both exploiting innovations in business law, protect institutions from negative publicity, professional censure and even legitimate oversight. They enable and conceal conduct widely regarded as unethical, aiming to trap scholars in legal liability and even criminal punishments.

Even private and conservative colleges, not only “liberal” state universities, are purging their faculty.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship seminary used budget cuts related to COVID-19 to get rid of a few conservative faculty this spring. Last month’s dismissal of Jim Spiegel from evangelical Taylor University — for nothing that can remotely be considered improper — shows how skittish Christians institutions have become and how little backbone they show in the face of pressure.

Such visible cases are certainly only the tip of the iceberg, because new methods of concealment prevent us from knowing. Some Christian colleges seek to quietly eliminate divergent views by using a deception known as “Christian Conciliation,” promoted by the Institute for Christian Conciliation.

More than academic freedom is at stake. This facilitates the takeover of cultural institutions, using the public justice system as leverage. Scholars must understand what is taking place, both to defend their profession and alert the public to an unexpected new tyranny.

5. At Commentary, Christine Rosen says if you think the Re-Education Police aren’t coming for you, you’ve got another thought coming. From the piece:

But until relatively recently, most ordinary Americans could largely avoid participating in these culture-war skirmishes. People could get through high-school or college without being exposed to the more extreme forms of identity politics masquerading as scholarship, particularly if they steered clear of more politicized fields in the humanities or specialized fields such as feminist theory or African-American studies. Efforts to impose strict speech codes on college campuses generally met healthy resistance from free-speech advocates, although some campuses succeeded in narrowing the terms of debate. In the workplace, diversity-training seminars lined the pockets of “diversity consultants” and robbed employees of valuable time, but rarely demanded more than attendance and, for the most part, didn’t threaten people’s jobs.

That time is over. We have moved beyond miseducation into an era of reeducation. Schoolchildren across the country are taught not that diversity is the country’s great strength, but, through historically questionable curricula such as the New York Times’ 1619 Project, that their nation is irredeemably racist. Calls for diversity on campus have given way to claims that airing speech with which you disagree is tantamount to inflicting physical harm; speakers are de-platformed and faculty removed for failing to adhere to the new standards of correct thinking about race and sex. In the workplace, mandatory diversity training now requires not merely attendance, but expressions of agreement and obeisance to a set of ideologically radical ideas — that all white people are inherently racist and that the goal of the workplace should be racial “equity” rather than racial equality. These ideas undermine rather than reinforce the principles of freedom and equal opportunity.

6. At The Imaginative Conservative, Lipton Mathews argues the 1619 Project sends the wrong message to African-Americans. From the piece:

There is an assumption that white Americans benefited from intergenerational wealth created in slavery; so, they are in a better position to amass wealth than African Americans. On the surface, this explanation appears insightful, but it is not corroborated by evidence. Economic analysis indicates that affluent households invest aggressively in risky assets generating higher rates of return. Compared to whites, black Americans display a lower appetite for risks; this aversion to risk, research finds, elucidates why African Americans possess less wealth. Similarly, one study suggests that there is little evidence to indicate that black households yielded lower returns when they invest in the same assets as white households. Nevertheless, the report imputes that investments held by blacks were more predominant in low-yielding assets.

Likewise, researchers also do not find “sizeable racial differences in the inheritances of business.” Irrespective of race, few people receive sufficiently large inheritances to drive the racial wealth gap. Race is rarely a universal cause of income disparities. For example, more African Americans are acquiring degrees, but the income gap persists; many usually attribute this to racism. Deeper scrutiny, however, reveals this argument to be a fallacy. According to the Center on Education and Workforce at Georgetown University, African-American college students are more likely to target majors that lead to low-pay jobs, thus trapping them in a vicious cycle of indebtedness and underemployment. Racism and slavery are merely easy answers to complicated questions.

In short, the 1619 Project is an instrument of propaganda whose insidious subtexts aim to promulgate the narrative that not only is America uniquely racist, but the nation cannot evolve beyond its history of slavery. Taking proponents of the 1619 Project seriously would force us to believe that America has made no strides pertaining to race. Even more abhorrent is the idea that the success of African Americans has been marginal. Therefore, if America is to truly ascend, then the fatalism of the 1619 Project must be rejected.

7. More from TIC: The great “Double B” Bradley Birzer replays Robert Nisbet’s 10 conditions for revolution. From the article:

So, according to Nisbet, what are the conditions of real and true revolution? He laid them out in his typical, succinct fashion. And, at times rather blatantly, he relied upon the language and the ideas of the great Anglo-Irish statesman, Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

First, a real revolution must follow a dramatic change in the economic or societal order. Something drastic has to have happened, though it might very well have happened so gradually in the social frame that it went unrecognized as an “event” that can be defined and understood in isolation.

Second, authority — or the understanding of authority — must collapse, leading to “if not a breakdown, at least a confusion of authority.” By authority, Nisbet meant not power (which is presumed and assumed), but a mutual and consensual understanding of respect both given and earned. An example would be a professor who earned the respect of his students and thus has established his authority by teaching well, knowing his subject, and treating the students with dignity. Opposed to this, as an example of power, would be the professor who wields grades over his students as a weapon.

Third, society must have become, relatively recently, wealthy or wealthier than it had been. One of the most tragic mistakes observers — historians, sociologists, political theorists, and social commentators — have made was claiming that revolution occurs when a people are in poverty. Revolutions occur when the people have recently left a condition of poverty and have seen what affluence is possible. “There must be enough feel of possessions,” Nisbet argued, “enough sense of affluence, to make the sense of what hasn’t been achieved a galling one.”

Baseballery

This place seems to have a preference for the oddball, the spitball, the misfortune — but ever with the admission that the World Series goat can always say he played in the Majors.  Take that Little Leaguer! The prequel stated, Yours Truly pondered, as he is wont to do, about the situation: a pitcher hitting a walk-off home run. If you believed such is rare, you’d be right. It’s happened only a handful of times in MLB history, but wouldn’t you know it: One pitcher — pitching — served up two of those dingers to his mound foes.

That man was Wally Burnette, who toiled for three seasons in the late 1950s with the Kansas City Athletics. It began with a bang: In his first appearance, the rookie righty started against the Washington Senators and shut them out, scattering 6 hits and earning an 8-0 win. It was the sole shutout of his career, which tallied at 14-21 with a 3.56 ERA.

Of note are two losses in 1957. At Briggs Stadium in Detroit, brought in to relieve in the bottom of the 9th with one out, two on, and holding a 5-3 lead, Burnette promptly served up a game-tying double to left-fielder Charlie Maxwell. The A’s threatened in the top of the 10th, but couldn’t score, so to the bottom of the frame they went, and Detroit reliever Lou Sleater, a journeyman southpaw, led off. As pitchers go, he wasn’t a bad hitter. And he wasn’t a bad hitter this Thursday afternoon: He smashed a Burnette piece over the right-field fence, gaining the win via his walk-off RBI.

Somewhat of a replay happened months later, on Friday, September 6, a night game at Comisky Park against the White Sox. Leading 3-1 going into the bottom of the 8th, reliever Virgil Trucks gave up two game-tying runs. The Athletics threatened in the top of the 9th, but came up empty. And then Burnette was handed the ball to keep the Sox from scoring. Third baseman Bubba Phillips led off by popping out. One down.

There would be no second. Chicago’s aging righthander Dixie Howell had pitched the 8th and 9th innings for the Sox. And yep, he could hit. And yep, he did: Over the rightfield wall went Burnette’s pitch, and onto his career record — Howell was 19-15 in six seasons (played over 18 years!) with a batting average of .243 — went the win and the walk-off, game-winning RBI dinger.

More about Howell, one of MLB’s more interesting creatures: Soft-spoken and respected, he pitched his first game in September, 1940 as a 20-year-old rookie for the Cleveland Indians (he held the Boston Red Sox to one walk and no runs). After two more appearances, and no decisions, Howell would not be in another MLB game for nine seasons, the next time sporting the cap of the Cincinnati Reds (in between, he had fought in World War 2 and spent several months in a German POW camp). There were a mere five early-season outings for him in 1949. His only start resulted in a two-inning shellacking and a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back to the minors he went, but the persistent hurler had value, and at on June 25, 1955, now a reliever for the White Sox, Howell registered a classy 6-inning performance that earned him his first victory. It proved to be a record: Between a first appearance and his first win, 15 years had passed.

Come 1957, the year of his walk-off, well, let’s crib from the this wonderful SABR profile by Jack Smiles:

Howell also has two other weird major-league records — as a batter. Both came in 1957. That year he set the single-season mark for most base hits without a single: five (three home runs, a double, and a triple in 27 at-bats). Two of those homers came on Father’s Day, June 16, at Comiskey Park. One of the blasts went into the upper deck. Howell became the last relief pitcher to go deep twice in a game (it had been done twice before).

After the 1958 season, now 38, Howell pitched for the White Sox AA team, the Indianapolis Indians, and was making a spring training go of it in 1960, but collapsed from a heart attack after a workout and died. He left behind a most colorful baseball career.

A Dios

Pray, pray, pray for this Republic. Your prayers will be answered. And Your Humble Correspondent could not help but want to share this, heard last Sunday at Roman Catholic Mass, the First Reading, which opened with this from the Book of Sirach, 27:30-28:1, apropos of what reigns in the streets of many an American city:

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.

The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail.

Scary!

May The Alpha and the Omega Encompass You in His Infinite Graces,

Jack Fowler, who is eager to read penitential fasting recommendations if shared via jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Some of Us Do Not Forget. Nor Will We Ever.

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

This missive is published on a Friday, the 19th anniversary of the murderous Islamofascist attacks against America and Americans. The attending image here is of a memorial found aside City Hall in Milford, Connecticut. There are surely many thousands like it, in some way or form, in many other places across our fruited and blessed plains. Milford’s memorial has three sides — one each for New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. This side pictured notes the heroes of Flight 93.

One of those true heroes was Tom Burnett. He was a Junior — his dad, Senior, a subscriber (as was the son) wrote to Bill Buckley in 2002, a few months after Tom and others led the counterattack against the terrorists who had hijacked their United Airlines flight. Bill published the note, and an attending transcript, in the May 20, 2002 edition of National Review. We have republished it on NRO. You can read it here. It begins thusly:

Dear Mr. Buckley: On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank you for your tribute to my son Tom [Burnett] in your February 8 letter to subscribers. As a longtime reader and supporter of National Review, I was touched by your account of his heroism on September 11, 2001.

I thought you might find of interest the following account of Tom’s four cell-phone calls from Flight 93 to his wife, Deena, which she reconstructed from memory shortly thereafter.

It shows that Tom was instrumental in informing his fellow passengers of the atrocities that were occurring in New York and at the Pentagon and in leading them to an act of unparalleled sacrifice and courage that saved thousands of lives and spared a great symbol of our democracy from destruction. Their desire to save others’ lives even led them to wait until they were over a rural area before launching their assault on the terrorists.

Please do read it in its entirety.

Never forget, they say. We say. But: What if you cannot remember? Issac Schoor, freshly graduated from Cornell, says there nevertheless remains an obligation. From the end of his piece:

It is my cohort’s charge, then, to serve as a bridge between our elders — those who do remember where they were when the world stopped turning — and our younger brothers, sisters, friends, mentees, and, eventually, children, with no solid memory of it or its aftermath. We can never quite understand what our parents felt on 9/11, but we do know what it taught us: the fragility of our own lives and way of life, that freedom is not free, that our neighbors may very well be heroes-in-waiting. It is our obligation not only to impress upon our younger peers the significance and lessons of 9/11, but to impress upon them their own responsibility to pass on those lessons to people even further removed from it than themselves.

We can never allow ourselves to forget, even if we can’t remember.

Amen. Now, to the Jolt.

But First, A Word from Our Gala

Please join National Review Institute on October 5th for the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner Gala At Home honoring James L. Buckley and Virginia James. You are invited to put on your tuxedo or ball gown, grab a glass of champagne (Your Humble Correspondent will make do with a tumbler of black sambuca, on ice), and join us for a special virtual experience. The program will include opportunities to connect with your favorite NR writers and tune into a mix of live remarks and videos from our honorees and dinner co-chairs. We hope you will join NRI for this historic event celebrating Bill Buckley’s legacy and our esteemed honorees, James L. Buckley and Virginia James. All tickets and sponsorships are fully tax deductible and go to support the Institute’s educational and outreach programs that advance the NR mission. We hope to see you online on October 5th for NRI’s Gala At Home. RSVP today at www.nrinstitute.org.

Editorials

No, President Trump cannot defund New York. From the editorial:

The administration’s attempted defunding of disorderly cities will probably follow the course of its attempted defunding of sanctuary cities. The administration found that there wasn’t much funding it could plausibly try to cut off. Even the relatively minor grants it targeted have been caught up in the courts, which have often ruled that the executive can’t put conditions on funding that Congress hasn’t already written into law.

If the memorandum ends up being only a glorified press release, that’s better than the alternative, but it’d be even better if the president didn’t purport to have powers that he doesn’t.

A Dozen Delicious Doughnuts Bursting with the Cream of Conservative Wisdom

1. Andy McCarthy connects the dots and finds a straight line from Joe Biden to Black Lives Matters. From the piece:

Wait a second, you’re thinking. Biden’s not with that program. He even says he’s no “radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters.” He’s a moderate, right?

Well, truth be told, he’s a hack. For half a century, he’s blown with the progressive gales, trying to stay on whatever seemed to be the popular side on a given day. In favor of using force in Iraq but against the Iraq war. For the “Russia Reset” after Moscow annexed parts of Georgia, but wannabe scourge of Russia after Moscow annexed parts of Ukraine. Back in 1994, he labored to brand tough Clinton crime legislation as the “Biden Bill”; now, with the Left decrying that law as the foundation of America’s racist “carceral state,” he’d prefer to forget the whole thing, and hopes you will, too.

We could go on . . . and on. But why bother? After all these decades, Biden, most of all, is the former vice president of the Obama administration. President Obama is the only reason he’s gotten this far. Pre-Obama, Biden’s presidential runs were a joke (written by somebody else); post-Obama, his patent weaknesses made even Obama-world lukewarm to his current bid to lead “Obama’s third term.”

The problem, of course, is that Obama got those two terms because of his charisma. His personal attractiveness was always leaps and bounds more popular than his progressive “Hope and Change!” agenda. His historical significance as the nation’s first black president tapped into the longing of Americans to transcend our racial divide — even as his manner of governance exacerbated tensions.

2. When it came time to put a bullet in Osama bin Laden, Dan McLaughlin reminds us that then-Veep Joe Biden counseled — don’t. From the piece:

Joe Biden wants to run on Barack Obama’s record. Obama himself, speaking at the Democratic convention last month, glossed over Biden’s own record while reassuring listeners of Biden’s value as a wing man: “For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision.”

The single best moment of Obama’s presidency was the May 2011 raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. It only happened because Obama ignored Joe Biden when he said, “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.” Biden is all too aware that he got the biggest decision of the Obama presidency wrong, which is why he changed his story years later to claim that he had actually supported the raid. That history is important to remember today, on the 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as Biden seeks to become the next commander in chief.

Biden has four main reasons for embracing Obama’s record rather than his own. One, Obama won two national elections and remains popular with Democrats. Two, the rest of Biden’s career is as a legislator, so his years as vice president are important to evaluating how he would handle an executive job. Three, as David Harsanyi has detailed, many of Biden’s own legislative stances are now sufficiently unpopular with Democratic activists that Biden has felt compelled to renounce them. And four, the tasks Biden handled himself as vice president, ranging from overseeing “shovel-ready” stimulus projects to dealing with Ukraine, are a morass of ineptitude, favoritism, and sleaze that Biden would rather avoid. So why not run on the best thing Obama ever did?

3. Woodward has a book, the Left has contrived a new reason to whoop, and David Harsanyi says we are witnessing a major case of revisionist history. From the piece:

As Rich Lowry points out, other than the early testing blunders, Trump’s statements have been the worst part of the administration’s coronavirus response. New York’s incompetent governor Andrew Cuomo, who oversaw and aggravated the deadly disaster in New York, still enjoys high approval ratings largely because of his press conferences and other communication efforts (with a lot of help from media). What you say matters.

Unlike Cuomo, though, the Trump administration took all kinds of action relatively early. It’s fine to criticize Trump’s response, but I have yet to hear how Democrats could have contained coronavirus, much saved less saved the economy while doing so.

Yet we’ve now gone from “Trump said something stupid” to hysterical partisan accusations such as “Trump will likely shoulder the blame for at least 100,000 American deaths” and “200,000 Americans have died because neither Donald Trump nor Bob Woodward wanted to risk anything substantial to keep the country informed.”

Even ABC News wonders if the disease “might have been contained” had Trump said something different in February. This is unadulterated revisionism.

4. Victor Davis Hanson sees signs that the MSM-charged “racist” President may indeed be forming a color-blind / middle-class coalition. From the piece:

Indeed, some state polls by CNN and Trafalgar already show Trump to be near even in these purple states. The polling also suggests that, contrary to stereotypical exegeses, nonwhites of the large cities in the Midwest are not necessarily a monolithic voting bloc. So how can this be — given the Obama verdict that Trump is our generation’s Bull Connor, and the Never Trump assurances that the divisive Trump lacks the empathy and appeal of a “coalition building” John McCain or a BLM-sympathizer such as a marching Mitt Romney, and lacks as well the natural resonance the Bush family enjoys with Hispanics?

A number of things are going on that may explain some of these apparent mysteries.

One, Trump is finally beginning to reshape the Republican Party into a middle-class coalition of all races, deliberately pitted against the boutique leftist rich people in Hollywood, Wall Street, the New York and Washington media, Silicon Valley, and the Washington swamp. Trump boasts far more about lowering minority unemployment than reducing the capital-gains tax, more about reducing drug sentences than the need for unfettered global trade.

The topic of fairness across class divides resonates. Who after all wishes to listen to multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi rail about masks the same day she sneaks, unmasked, into a locked-down salon to get her hair done on the sly? Who wishes to follow the diktats of self-righteous governors such as Gavin Newsom, who pontificated about shutting down wineries only to keep his own open before being ratted out?

In that sense, many African-American middle-class voters might see Don Lemon as arrogant and foolish, much as white middle-class voters see Chris Cuomo this way. Or African Americans might disregard sermons from mansion-living, cashing-in Barack Obama the same way that white working-class voters in Ohio ignore the grifter Hillary Clinton when she offers them another homespun homily. African Americans might be as embarrassed by Maxine Waters’s rants as whites are by Nancy Pelosi’s — both women are insider, careerist politicians who are never affected by the consequences of their own soap-box ideologies. In other words, there is no reason to be locked into a racial matrix that assumes the proverbial “other” somehow always puts tribal solidarities over class affinities and society’s collective desire to be secure and safe.

5. Mike Brake looks ahead, and sees a police crisis approaching. Fast. From the piece:

We are living in a climate of animus against the police. The result is already apparent in soaring crime rates, most notably in those cities where local police are most heavily under attack with demands to “defund” their departments. It will only get worse. A growing number of cops are going to drive on by to preserve their jobs and their lives.

I know cops. I got to know them during a decade as a crime reporter for a daily newspaper. I know that they are not bloodthirsty racists looking for the next chance to shoot a black man. The ones I knew would have deplored the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I spent time with a number of police officers who had used deadly force — in every case, including two I witnessed, with full justification — and every one of them regretted the necessity of taking a human life and were never quite the same again.

But I, and they, also knew that their job was to protect the innocent citizens who might have become victims had the officers not intervened. Like the 32 children already killed by armed criminals this year in Chicago alone.

6. What may be worse than “cancel culture,” says Greg Weiner, is “conformity culture.” From the essay:

But the intent of those who seek compliance more softly is not necessarily hostile or heavy-handed. They may, on the contrary, sincerely perceive themselves as charitable. The resulting dynamic is less severe and arguably more insidious: those who police, or rather shape, speech not with an intent to suppress dissent but rather on what they view to be the benevolent assumption that everyone agrees with them.

This attitude is familiar in academia and, doubtless, beyond. It is evident in conversations that are not intended to reeducate but rather to reenforce what everyone assumes everyone else already believes. Many proponents of critical race theory — whose animating idea is that race is the one thing needful, the single lens through which all other phenomena should be viewed — are indeed trying to compel compliance. But even more simply operate on the belief that everyone agrees with them. For this crowd, that is an act of sincere charity: Reasonable people agree with me, and the people I encounter are reasonable.

One suspects, for example, that the training in critical race theory that President Trump recently suspended in federal agencies is often less intended to force every individual to comply than to reflect an assumption that everyone already does. True, that gives it a bizarre cast: uniformity in the name of diversity; education centered on what is purported already to be known. But while the tone of news reporting tends to pit proponents of critical race theory against its adversaries, the most common purveyors of the softer approach to conformity may not be social-justice warriors. Warriors relish the fight. This is less war than bureaucracy. It assumes a uniformity of opinion that requires no fight, only repetitive procedures that reflect a victory already achieved. It is a mindset likelier to be puzzled than outraged by Trump’s move.

7. Paul Kengor finds it’s always worth repeating, for the sake of reviewers of his latest book: Marx and Marxism are rank evil. From the rebuttal:

As for my insults and dismissals of an infantile, deadly ideology, I plead doubly guilty, again without apology. Let us say this candidly: Marxism is obviously unworkable and astonishingly asinine on its face. It’s about time we stop hemming and hawing and hand-wringing and say so. Why treat with kid-gloves something so ridiculous and destructive and deadly? Let’s finally admit and shout at the top of our lungs that Marx’s ideology doesn’t merely “distort markets,” but creates mass poverty, despair, and death. Let’s quit treating it like just another belief system and show it for the evil that it is.

Over a hundred million dead and counting. Had enough? I have. I’m tired of playing nice about it. Hilditch suggests that I offer “persuasive intellectual arguments in a winsome and non-sectarian way.” Been there, done that. Where has that gotten us? Answer: Over 30 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, communism, socialism, and “democratic socialism” are surging. Enough.

Hilditch writes that, “The reason that most Marxists want to see their political agenda enacted is probably not that they think it’s evil. They want to see it enacted because they think it is good. Conservatives must work to show them that they are mistaken, and that there are better means to fundamentally good and decent ends.” I’ve been doing that for decades, and it hasn’t changed Marxists’ minds. This book, as the title suggests, is meant to smack them upside the head with the truth that their ideology is evil.

8. Isaac Schorr checks out a study’s whose hogwash claims the riots have been, yep, “mostly peaceful.” From the beginning of the piece:

Has this summer’s unrest been “mostly peaceful,” as some have claimed? A new study from Roudabeh Kishi and Sam Jones at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) has been trumpeted as sufficient justification for the media’s attempt to push this line. Kishi and Jones’s partisan framing have doubtlessly contributed to this misunderstanding. “In more than 93 percent of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity,” they explain. “Violent demonstrations, meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations,” they assure us. More remarkable is their assertion that the media is responsible for the public’s increasingly negative view of the Black Lives Matter movement. They lament the “disproportionate coverage of violent demonstrations” and dismiss the claim that “antifa is a terrorist organization” as a “mischaracterization.” They advise that we not let ourselves be manipulated by “the media focus on looting and vandalism . . . there is little evidence to suggest that demonstrators have engaged in widespread violence.”

While Kishi and Jones may be surprised that the media is more inclined to cover violent riots than peaceful protests, the people living and working in the neighborhoods ravaged by those riots do not share their confusion. For widows such as Ann Dorn, whose husband, David, was killed in St. Louis by people attempting to loot a pawn shop he was protecting, it is readily apparent why the violence matters. Nineteen people had already died in riot-related violence two weeks into the protests in early June. For small-business owners already struggling to stay afloat under the pressure of a pandemic, it is similarly self-evident. In a six-day period from May 29 to June 3, rioters were responsible for over $400 million in damage across the country. As of June 9, 450 New York City businesses had been looted or otherwise vandalized. In Minneapolis and St. Paul — where riots first broke out after George Floyd’s death — 1,500 businesses have sustained damage. As Brad Polumbo has observed, the socioeconomic shadow cast by that damage will be a long one, as business owners will be loathe to invest in an area in which the government cannot guarantee that their property will be protected. Tragically, because the riots are concentrated in urban settings, they disproportionately take the lives and damage the property of minorities.

9. Black Lives Matters, writes Victoria Marshall, fails at a core aspect of Listening and Speech — the need for reciprocity. From the piece:

Chrétien, a French philosopher and devout Catholic, was a phenomenologist interested in one’s personal encounter with God — particularly as experienced through speech. In a 2013 interview, Chrétien said that “the guiding theme of all of my writings has been a phenomenology of speech as the place where all meaning comes to light and is received.”

I bring up Chrétien and his focus on speech because we’re at a point in our socio-political climate where to even question the morality of rioting is off limits if you’re white (thanks to CRT). As a white college student post-George Floyd, I am told that the privilege of my white skin means I must remain quiet and allow for black voices to permeate the national dialogue. I am told my voice is not important, needed, or warranted. To even question a particular narrative is considered a form of violence, and thus, the only way forward is to turn off my conscience and let those higher up in the intersectional hierarchy lead.

Chrétien would call these demands a subversion of listening and speech. In his seminal work, The Ark of Speech, he spends a lot of time explaining what true listening actually is. First, he conceives of listening as a form of hospitality. A hospitable person lets another person speak, listening intently without interruption. If we interrupt or try to finish the speaker’s sentences for him, we deny him the being of his existence — namely, the opportunity to speak the truth about himself. As Chrétien writes, “We do not want to talk to those who know everything all too well, long in advance; we do not want to speak if others are going to finish our sentences for us; we do not start speaking to relinquish the ground of our being. . . . If listening understands too much . . . it tends to become vision, autopsy, a perspicacity that sees through me, instead of greeting me around the hearth of language.”

10. Kevin Williamson sizes up Socialism’s effect on Venezuela: Economic destruction and poverty have won. Surely Elizabeth Warren must be thrilled. From the piece:

Venezuelans have the oil, but they don’t have the needful productive capital, so they don’t have gasoline for their cars or propane for their kitchens. Venezuelans do not have cooking fuel, but, then, they also do not have food to cook: Food moves around on trucks, and no gasoline or diesel means no food deliveries. Tractors and irrigation systems need petroleum, too — try running a farm without diesel and propane. The United States does not feed its 330 million people (and much of the rest of the world) by plowing with donkeys.

Without sufficient usable oil, Venezuelans lack necessities. They also do without the income that they would have had from selling oil to energy-hungry people around the world.

A few stragglers are still producing oil from existing wells. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the world’s most oil-rich country is set to produce about as much oil this year as Wyoming. No slight to Wyoming, but that is not a very impressive output.

What happened in Venezuela is a less bloodless version of what Senator Elizabeth Warren and her colleagues propose to do in the United States. The Chávez’s regime decided to “put people over profits,” as our Democratic friends like to say. Senator Warren proposes to put large companies under the control of the federal government by requiring them to secure federal permission to operate and by giving the government the power to dictate to corporations the compositions of their boards and to micromanage decisions from compensation to investment. You have heard the phrase, “act like you own the place.” Senator Warren does not propose that the state should own the means of production, as in the classical Marxist-Leninist model, only that it should act like it owns the means of production.

11. Tomas J. Philipson and Eric Sun look at the totality of the effects of our COVID policies. From the analysis:

The idea that America has incurred larger losses from COVID than any other nation has been widely repeated, but it’s not true. In reality, the United States has incurred smaller COVID losses than many other countries often cast as role models, once the total cost of the disease — in both lost lives and economic activity — is correctly measured and taken into account. A truly scientific approach to evaluating COVID policy relies on quantification of the tradeoffs involved, as opposed to only considering health losses.

The issue is how to measure the quantitative magnitudes of two separate strands of losses, the cost of disease prevention and the cost of the disease itself, to guide policy on minimizing the total impact. Economists routinely quantify and assess tradeoffs between health and other valuable activities to determine overall costs they impose. Doing so does not trivialize human life but acknowledges — as all of us must — that saving lives at any cost is not practical nor desirable.

Consider a somewhat extreme hypothetical example. Over 40,000 people die on U.S. roads each year, yet we don’t shut down highways. Instead of closing them — and losing all the economic benefits they provide — the government manages but does not eliminate the risks from bad drivers by regulating speed limits, enforcing DUI laws, and requiring people to have licenses to drive. Put differently, closing roads would entail a loss from prevention that would be higher than the value of the lives saved.

Tradeoffs obviously play a role in setting health-related policies. Yet some epidemiologists ignore tradeoffs when pushing for their preferred COVID prevention. They only measure one type of loss in terms of health. However, these medical scientists still drive to work like everyone else, even though their mortality would be lower if they did not. This shows how, in every other aspect of life, common sense balances the costs of prevention against its benefits in terms of lower mortality. But for COVID policy decisions, in many locales, the so-called scientists adhere to unscientific economic claims about the quantitative tradeoffs involved.

12. Jimmy Quinn pounds Disney for its willful blindness to Red China. From the piece:

Disney has apparently turned a blind eye to all of this. Even granting the company the most generous benefit of the doubt, if the crew was unaware of what was happening in 2017, it’s unfathomable that such ignorance could have persisted through the beginning of the film’s production in 2018. Those working on the film might even have seen the camps: On Twitter, Shawn Zhang notes that if the crew took “highway G312 to Shanshan desert where the filmed, they could see at least 7 re-education camps.”

Disney might be the first U.S. company to thank entities involved in perpetrating the Uyghur genocide, but it’s not the first to willfully ignore the situation. Who can forget the revelation that McKinsey held a massive corporate retreat just four miles from one of the concentration camps? Or that the NBA operated a training center in Xinjiang that, unsurprisingly, drew its own human-rights complaints? But the most lurid examples ignore the most widespread normalization of the abuses by multinational companies: Uyghur forced labor plays a massive role in the global textile industry, allegedly implicating numerous well-known brands, such as Nike, Adidas, and Uniqlo.

In each of these cases, business leaders weighed the potential downsides of doing business with Xinjiang-based entities. Disney’s decision to move forward with production shows how executives evaluated that potential tradeoff. That they are willing to accept some level of complicity in the Xinjiang genocide is not news. Just last fall, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is not “something we should engage in a public manner” because it might harm the company.

Capital Matters — You Better Believe It Does

Herewith, a suggested-reading quartet housed in the new and exciting section of NRO.

1. Kevin Hassett has five questions for Mick Mulvaney. From the Q & A:

You were chief of staff when COVID struck. The president took some pretty drastic actions, such as closing down travel with China. Walk us through those decisions.

The biggest surprise is that somehow the left-wing media has spun it as though Dr. Fauci was a sage, and all of our problems today are the result of ignoring his advice. Nothing could be further from the truth. The president followed his advice assiduously, except for when Dr. Fauci objected to the travel bans, or defended the WHO.

Dr. Fauci told me, and everyone else on the early version of the coronavirus task force, to go on TV and tell people not to wear masks. He said it was actually one of the worst things you could do. Listen, I don’t blame him. We had really, really bad information about COVID in those early months, mostly because China simply refused to act like the responsible nation it pretends to be, and the WHO, which Dr. Fauci defended and insisted was above reproach, was in on the cover-up. But I think of those meetings every time I see the replay of Dr. Fauci saying that he has “never been wrong” on COVID. Yes, he actually said that. Unbelievable. Unbelievable, and simply not true. But it does serve a political purpose.

The bottom line is that we were flying blind, again because the Chinese wouldn’t share information. We had to assume that COVID was similar to the other coronaviruses with which we had some familiarity: SARS and MERS. And it turns out that, from a public-health perspective, COVID and SARS/MERS are very different. In hindsight could we have done things differently? Sure. But the president doesn’t have the benefit of working with hindsight. Only his critics do.

2. Steve Hanke profiles the campaign against a President Trump Fed appointee Judy Shelton because she has proven to be a Fed critic. From the analysis:

Shelton is a nominee for one of the two unfilled positions on the twelve-member Fed Board. The other nominee, Christian Waller — an executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis — has attracted little attention. On July 21, the Senate Banking Committee approved his nomination by a bipartisan vote of 18-7, whereas Shelton’s nomination saw a party-line vote of 13 Republicans to 12 Democrats. The full Senate has not yet set a date to debate and vote on the nominations.

In separate open letters, dozens of former Federal Reserve employees and academic economists, including several Nobel Prize winners, have called on the Senate to reject Shelton. Assorted pundits, even here at National Review, have piled on.

The former Fed employees and economists are on the warpath because Shelton is not a member of their tribe and does not worship at their altar. She is unabashedly conservative, with a libertarian tilt, rather than liberal or centrist. Economics is not as left-leaning as other social sciences, not to mention the humanities, but conservatives, especially those associated with Trump, face a certain amount of snobbery within the discipline. Shelton has a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Utah, rather than in economics from one of the nation’s elite universities.

The Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, does not have an economics degree, either. He is a lawyer by training, but his nomination raised few hackles thanks to his reassuringly bland manner and lack of original thought on monetary policy. Shelton has written at length on monetary policy, but unlike many other American economists who have done so, she has never worked for the Fed, and it has never funded her, keeping her independent of the influence typical of those within the Fed’s orbit.

3. The great Lee Edwards worries, rightly, about the looming threat of a Socialist America. From the article:

The grassroots efforts of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and similar left-wing groups are paying significant dividends. In New York, five statewide candidates for the General Assembly who had been endorsed by DSA all won their primaries. Several had come-from-behind victories because of absentee ballots — a key socialist initiative. At least two self-described democratic socialists not endorsed by DSA also won statewide races.

They ran on platforms that included the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, criminal justice reform, housing for New York State’s 70,000 homeless, affordable housing for the poor, and new taxes on the rich and Wall Street to pay for all of it. Their goal, as set forth in campaign literature, is to “advance a vision for a socialist world.”

Socialists found receptive voters across the country. In Philadelphia, democratic socialist Nikil Saval won the Democratic primary for the state senate. Summer Lee, the first Black woman to represent southwestern Pennsylvania in the state senate, won reelection with 75 percent of the vote. In Montana, six “Berniecrats,” backed by Our Revolution, a progressive political action committee, won their primaries. San Francisco elected Chesa Boudin, son of the leftist militants, its district attorney. In the California primary, exit polls revealed that 53 percent of Democrats viewed socialism “favorably.” In Texas, Democratic voters in the primary approved of socialism by 56 percent, a 20-point margin over capitalism.

Socialism is indeed riding a wave of momentum when more Texans than Californians view it favorably.

4. The UK’s push for “net zero carbon emissions,” writes Gautam Kalghatgi, may indeed result in serious environmental harm. From the analysis:

According to PHAM News, an estimated 26 million gas boilers are installed in the U.K. These are supposed to be converted to electric (heat pumps) heating by 2050. Are there enough heating engineers and electricians in the country to implement this? Are households expected to bear the cost of conversion, or is the government going to pay for this? The enormous challenges of rebuilding the electricity-distribution network required by such changes have been discussed by Mike Travers in The Hidden Cost of Net Zero: Rewiring the U.K., a report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation. He estimates that the total cost will run up to £466 billion, much of which might have to be borne by households.

Net zero will also involve decarbonizing transport, supposedly by eliminating internal-combustion engines (ICEs). This will also require huge investments in new infrastructure (as discussed below) but is not likely to deliver significant reductions in CO2. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture would also need to be taken to zero if climate change is the real concern. Globally, livestock farming for meat and dairy contributes about 14 percent of global GHG, the same share as from all transport. The relevant percentages are likely to be similar for the U.K. Also, the steel, aviation, and cement industries, which are extremely difficult if not impossible to decarbonize, will need to be largely shut down by 2050.

Lights. Camera. Kvetch!

1. Armond White finds the new Academy Awards’ rules to be quite Soviet. From his analysis:

Classic liberal Oscar winners In the Heat of the Night (1967), Marty (1955), On the Waterfront (1954), All the King’s Men (1949), and Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947) displayed inspirational social consciousness. They were message movies par excellence, derived from post-WWII conscientiousness and All-American pride. But liberalism has changed and decayed this millennium. Hollywood’s current idea of social consciousness is scolding and authoritarian. Our culture’s aesthetics have been deranged into insipid standards based on what is considered politically absolute.

That’s why the new rules disregard artistry and instead prescribe quotas. The Oscars’ “Aperture 2025” movement insists that, starting in 2025, a movie qualifies for Best Picture consideration only if it 1) features various “underrepresented” racial or ethnic characters, 2) was made by verifiably diverse crews, 3) its production utilized internship programs marked for special social groups including LGBTQ and the disabled, and 4) must be marketed by members of special social groups.

Aperture 2025 bookends the New York Times’ 1619 Project so that film history becomes as distorted as our social history. The Oscars traditionally overlooked movies by auteurs — films that exhibit the sensibility and hard work of individual creativity, especially those films made outside the Hollywood partisan-cocktail-party trade. Now, indifference to singular artistry has warped into exclusionary hostility, under the guise of “diversity,” “equality,” and “justice” — totalitarian code words.

2. More Oscar Quotas: Kyle Smith says the wars have just begun. From the piece:

Standard B requires compliance with one of three options. One is that 30 percent of your entire crew be female or minorities or handicapped. That might be a tall order, what with all the beefy union guys on a set doing physical labor such as moving lights and driving trucks. Another option is to have six mid-level jobs, such as script supervisor, go to racial or ethnic minorities. That sounds a little easier to handle, but the third option is really easy: One department head has to be a minority, and two have to be minorities or women or what the Academy terms “LGBTQ+.” There can be overlap. These departments include casting directors, makeup designers, hairstylists, and costumers. Lots of these jobs, maybe even most of them, are already held by gay men or women, so really the requirement is merely that one of these people also be a racial or ethnic minority. If just one of your department heads is Asian or Latino, you’re covered. How hard can that be to comply with? You could hire zero black folks and you’d still get the nod. I can already hear Nikole Hannah-Jones’s teeth grinding: “Asian? Who said anything about Asian? Are Asian Americans subject to systemic racism in this country?” As for LGBTQ+ people, well, gays may be underrepresented in the National Hockey League, but not in Hollywood.

Standards C and D are even easier to meet than Standard B. One of the C standards, for instance, is: “The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups.” Internships for women or minorities? The major studios already have lots of those, so no problem. As for exterior film-financing companies, if they’ve got the millions to pay for an Oscar-caliber production, they can easily afford a few thousand for an internship or two. Not difficult. A mini-major or independent studio can qualify if it has as few as two ongoing internships, one for women and one for minorities, in any department from publicity to production. Meet that requirement, and every film your company releases meets Standard C. Again, not a problem.

3. More Armond: Mulan comes in for a beating. Deserved. From the beginning of the review:

In the live-action Mulan, a remake of Disney’s 1998 animated feature, the studio’s kiddie-inspiration brand gets literalized. The young female Hua Mulan (played by Liu Yifei) no longer moves with a cartoon’s fantastic fluid quickness or magical buoyancy but is a gravity-defying rule-breaking figure from China’s sixth-century folklore. The voice-over narrator addresses “ancestors” impiously, favoring new social-justice ideas over their ancient moral codes.

A cartoon is not enough for Disney’s latest progressive scam. Mulan’s superheroine role model connects to Tangled and Brave, overusing wuxia– and parkour-style “real” fighting to promote female agency. Mulan’s first stunts crack statuary and crockery. (You can’t have progress without breaking a few rules.) This dull realism supersedes cartoon imagination to produce what activists call “radical imagination.” Disney’s blatantly political intent accords with the trade agreement of a $200 million international production shot in China and New Zealand that can also pass muster with the Chinese Communist Party.

In the insidious “girl power” plot, Mulan rejects domestic tradition and disguises herself as male to join the imperial army and fulfill her warrior spirit. The Yentl androgyny stuff is so tired (including perverse body-odor jokes) that it’s unentertaining — impure propaganda. Female director Niki Caro imitates the ideological hype that surrounded Wonder Woman. Her action scenes bear the smudges of an F/X’s crew digital fingerprints rather than the personally inspired, visionary slapstick of Stephen Chow’s Chinese pop spectacles. By now we’ve seen too many authentic, dynamic Chinese action movies, especially Zhang Yimou’s recent Shadow and The Great Wall, to accept this dross.

4. Rich Lowry excoriates Hollywood’s kowtowing to Beijing. From the column:

It is rare that a studio or producer says “no.” To his credit, Quentin Tarantino refused to cut a comic scene featuring Bruce Lee from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Otherwise, the changes are exacting. Mission: Impossible III cut a scene where tattered clothes hung from a clothesline in Shanghai. Chinese villains are out of the question. Notoriously, Paramount changed the invaders in a remake of Red Dawn from Chinese to North Korean.

Since Beijing can delay the release date of a movie or demand that a scene be reshot, and studios don’t want to deal with the uncertainty, Hollywood preemptively accedes to Beijing’s wishes. PEN America notes that producer David Franzoni has said, “They have a lot of power so you want to try to be sure you have it all down the first time.”

Paramount removed patches with the Japanese and Taiwanese flags from Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket in the sequel to Top Gun. As PEN America points out, the changes had already been made when the trailer was released, meaning Paramount didn’t wait for Chinese censors to object.

Recommended for This Week Especially

Fox Nation has released its long-awaited four-part documentary, The Rising Crescent, about the 1993 Islamofascist attack on the World Trade Center. Our Andy McCarthy — who prosecuted and convicted the Blind Sheik mastermind — has a major role in the series. Watch Part One here.

Liberty and Justice for All

Some smart folks — like you no doubt — find America at a crossroads They demand we take a stand and fight back. Putting thoughts to paper, they have crafted a powerful “Open Letter to America.” From the letter:

Over the next several years, the noble sentiments and ideas that gave birth to the United States will either be repudiated or reaffirmed. The fateful choice before us will result either in the death of a grand hope or a recommitment to an extraordinary political experiment whose full flowering we have yet to realize. The choice will involve either contempt and despair or gratitude and the self-respect worthy of a free people who know long labors lie before them and who proceed with hope toward a dignified future.

In the name of justice and equality, those animated by contempt and despair seek to destroy longstanding but fragile American institutions through which justice and equality can be secured. Destruction of these imperfect but necessary institutions will not hasten the advent of justice and equality but rather accelerate our collapse into barbarism and degradation.

Groups of Americans who today advocate endless racial contempt, who systematically distort our history for political gain, who scapegoat and silence whole groups of citizens, who brazenly justify and advocate violence and the destruction of property invite us not to justice and equality but to an ugly future whose only certainty is fear.

Do consider becoming a signatory. Done here.

Elsewhere in The Conservative Solar System

1. At The Wall Street Journal, the great Matt Hennessey kicks the corpulent tuchus of suddenly woke comic Jim Gaffigan. From the article:

Even in the nation’s bleakest hours, our favorite entertainers have been those who could tickle our funny bone. At the height of the Great Depression, with a quarter of the working-age population officially unemployed, the Marx Brothers had the country rolling in the aisles. Abbott and Costello were Hollywood’s highest-paid entertainers during World War II. This wasn’t idle diversion or dangerous delusion. Rather it was a necessary respite from ever-present anxiety. We can’t live in a state of constant agita. We need a break. To whom shall we turn?

Not Jim Gaffigan, turns out. He and his peers have decided that the times are too serious for jokes. These show people have violated their oath of office. They’re supposed to smile when they’re down. But Donald Trump disgusts them, and I guess that makes everything a matter of life and death.

Instead of lifting a beleaguered nation’s spirits, the creative class makes po-faced videos and posts demands for systemic change. Late-night hosts no longer do pranks and punch lines. They’d rather lecture. Stand-up comics expound woke orthodoxies.

That’s. Not. Funny.

2. At Spectator USA, old pal Deroy Murdock explores The Atlantic‘s Labor Day Weekend truth-twisting Trump smear. From the piece:

The next day, November 11, 2018, President Trump’s public schedule placed him at French President Emmanuel Macron’s noon Armistice Day Centennial Commemoration Luncheon at Élysée Palace. Given what the Atlantic calls ‘Trump’s seeming contempt for military service’, his alleged rejection of America’s war dead as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’, and his supposed desperation to keep his hair dry, President Trump could have sped to Orly Airport at 12:55 p.m., boarded warm and cozy Air Force One, and jetted home.

Instead, Trump stayed in France two-and-a-half hours longer. He ventured to Suresnes American Cemetery and spoke in the rain for 10 minutes, sans umbrella.

“Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior — great, great warriors they are — who gave everything for family, country, God, and freedom,” the President said of the fallen there, from both world wars. “Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they held the line, and pushed onward to victory . . . never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones.”

Fittingly for this beach-going weekend, this flood of facts washes the Atlantic’s Trump-hate out to sea.

3. At Law & Liberty, John O. McGinnis considers the role “Modern Originalism” might play in saving American Constitutionalism. From the essay:

The modern originalist movement has the potential to restore the kind of constitution grounded in the American revolutionary experience. But its success depends on what version of originalism is employed. Some theories of originalism are very compatible with what Scruton identifies as the French version of constitutionalism. Jack Balkin, for instance, suggests that all that is binding on interpreters is the thin linguistic meaning of the Constitution, shorn of context, except as necessary to eliminate linguistic ambiguity. Thus, for Balkin, Article IV’s “domestic violence” cannot mean violence against a member of a household, but we are otherwise mostly free from original constitutional concepts. As a result, under Balkin’s originalism, rights in the Constitution become abstractions without roots in the concrete practices from the time they were enacted. They are given content in any era by social movements which generally move under some philosophical or ideological banner. It is a constitution that would be appreciated by the French revolutionaries.

But even the most mainstream academic theory of Originalism — the New Originalism — can tend in the direction against which Scruton warned. The New Originalism agrees that some parts of the Constitution have determinate meaning. But it accepts that other parts — perhaps major parts — are not clear and thus need to be constructed, not interpreted. That construction can include reading the enumerated rights at high levels of generality or purpose — so high that, again, they no longer reflect the established practice, but some grander philosophy. Using such methods, some modern originalists have found a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution or discovered that the Fourteenth Amendment protects against sex discrimination (despite the absence of a clause in that Amendment recognizing such discrimination).

4. At The Federalist, Mike Davis says the forthcoming elections will mean cementing or erasure of conservative control of federal court. From the analysis:

The situation on the federal courts of appeals is similar. Before Trump’s presidency, Republican-appointed judges were a majority on four of the 13 appellate “circuits”: the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, together covering Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and most of the Midwest and Great Plains states. Judges appointed by President Trump have “flipped” the balance of three more circuits: the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th, together covering New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and much of the South.

New data compiled by A3P shows that if President Trump and a Senate Republican majority are reelected, they could flip each of the remaining six circuits (D.C., Federal, 1st, 4th, 9th, and 10th) to conservative majorities simply by replacing Democrat-appointed judges who will be eligible to take “senior status,” a form of partial retirement. The fact that President Trump could even flip the infamously liberal, San Francisco-based 9th Circuit is monumental.

Thanks to President Trump’s record-breaking success getting conservative judges confirmed in his first term, Democrats now hold a slim three-seat majority on the 9th Circuit, down from an 11-seat lead when President Obama left office. Ten of that court’s 16 Democrat appointees will be eligible for senior status by January 2023, and President Trump would only need to replace two of them to flip the 9th Circuit — something conservatives did not dare to dream of before the Trump era.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman shows that Jew-Hate is alive and well in the Peoples Republic of Woke. From the article:

The growth in anti-Semitism comes a mere 80 years after millions of Jews were rounded up in Europe and subjected to enslavement, mass shootings, “medical experiments”, and industrial mass murder in Nazi concentration camps, for no other reason than being Jewish.

In our hypersensitive, hyper-racialized “woke” culture, where speaking obvious truths such as “all lives matter” will get you immediately cancelled, terminated from your job and classified as racist, one would assume that the rise in anti-Semitism would prompt maximum outrage. Promoting anti-Semitism, however, rarely gets anyone — apart from the occasional white supremacist — cancelled. This double-standard continues despite hate speech being generally considered completely unacceptable and dangerous, as reflected in the policies against hate speech of the social media and tech giants.

Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslim Nation of Islam, and considered by many a professional anti-Semite, has promoted conspiracy theories about Jews. He has called them “satanic” and “termites” and praised Hitler as “a very great man”. Celebrities and others who promote Farrakhan rarely ever experience the public excoriation and the accompanying cancellations that normally accompany people who exhibit such racism. His speeches and interviews are freely available on YouTube, which has dubiously declared that it stands “in solidarity against racism and violence”. Evidently, that solidarity does not extend to anti-Jewish racism. Instead, YouTube relays the message that, to paraphrase Orwell, some racism is more racist than others.

6. Anyone in for a trip to Purgatory with Tolkien? At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce explains the modern novelist’s un-Dantean take on the afterlife. From the beginning of the essay:

J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a dislike for formal or crude allegory, spurning the employment of personified abstractions in his work. You will search in vain in Middle-earth for any giants called Despair or any beautiful women by the name of Lady Philosophy. You will find no knight in shining armour named Sir Reason doing battle with a monster named the Spirit of the Age, nor will you find Sir Reason’s noble handmaid, Lady Theology. And yet Tolkien did indulge himself with this form of allegory in a short story called “Leaf by Niggle” in which he philosophizes on the meaning of life, and the purpose of art, taking the reader with him on a journey through the dark tunnel of death to the mysterious realm of purgatory.

The protagonist of the story is a man called Niggle, a word which means “irritate.” Niggle is characterized by his irritability, especially towards his neighbor, the aptly named Mr. Parish, who is always keeping him from finishing the huge landscape painting on which Niggle is working and which he needs to complete before being forced to go on an unavoidable journey.

Niggle can be seen as a personification of the Artist, in general, but also as a personification of Tolkien himself, insofar as the story can be seen as autobiographically significant. Tolkien, like Niggle, was passionate about finishing his own literary landscape, the legendarium of unfinished tales which would be published posthumously as The History of Middle-earth, and, like Niggle, he was always being pulled away from his work by the demands of his family, friends, and neighbours.

7. We kid you not: Matt Lamb at The College Fix reports that URI is taking down World War Two murals because . . . diversity. From the report:

The University of Rhode Island recently announced plans to remove two murals depicting World War II veterans because it lacks “diversity and a sensitivity to today’s complex and painful problems,” according to the university.

Kathy Collins, vice president of student affairs, told CBS 12 she received complaints because the two folk-art murals portraying life in the GI Bill era of the 1950s “portray a very homogeneous population” and that most of the people depicted in the murals are “predominantly white.”

Collins also told the CBS news affiliate that some students told the school they “didn’t feel comfortable sitting in that space.”

8. At Quillette, Baz Edmeades unpacks the distorted liberal / myth view of “Harmonious Indigenous Conservationism.” From the essay:

It seems like a long time ago. But only six months ago, pundits had convinced themselves that the great morality tale of our time was playing out in an obscure part of British Columbia. Following on an internal political fight within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation over a local pipeline project, one columnist wrote that “the Indigenous people of Earth have become the conscience of humanity. In this dire season, it is time to listen to them.”

In fact, the elected leadership of the Wet’suwet’en had chosen to participate in the controverted pipeline project. The nationwide protests against the pipeline that followed were, in fact, sparked by unelected “hereditary” chiefs who long have received government signing bonuses. It’s unclear how this qualifies them for the exalted status of humanity’s conscience.

Yet the whole weeks-long saga, which featured urban protestors appearing alongside their Indigenous counterparts at road and rail barricades throughout Canada, tapped into a strongly held noble-savage belief system within progressive circles. Various formulations of this mythology have become encoded in public land acknowledgments, college courses, and even journalism. The overall theme is that Indigenous peoples traditionally lived their lives in harmony with the land and its creatures, and so their land-use demands transcend the realm of politics, and represent quasi-oracular revealed truths. As has been pointed out by others, this mythology now has a severe, and likely negative, distorting effect on public policy, one that hurts Indigenous peoples themselves. In recent years, Indigenous groups have finally gotten a fair cut of the proceeds of industrial-development and commodity-extraction revenues originating on their lands. And increasingly, they are telling white policy makers to stop listening to those activists who seek to portray them as perpetual children of the forest. It is for their benefit, as much as anyone else’s, to explore the truth about the myth of harmonious Indigenous conservationism.

9. At Outkick, Jason Whitlock says BLM doesn’t gig a rat’s patoot about innocent black kids. From the piece:

That’s all dishonest political debate. The truth is Black Lives Matter has prioritized the lives of resisting criminal suspects over the lives of black children.

This is insanity. Look at the faces of those kids. Their names won’t be on an NFL helmet this fall. LeBron James won’t mention them. No celebrity is going to insist that you say their names.

You can’t raise political campaign donations mentioning the name of one-year-old Roy Norman. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump can’t hold news conferences demanding justice and dollars for six-year-old Ashlynn Luckett.

But Jacob Blake is a hero and martyr.

Black Lives Matter is a business strategy. It’s not a civil rights movement. Corporations are cutting checks financing racial-awareness seminars and social justice television commercials. It’s all public relations. Or it’s a tool being used by token black employees to play corporate politics. People with limited skill at their actual jobs spend their workday pretending to be race experts. They advise their white bosses and colleagues on how to play the race public-relations game.

It’s one giant shell game. Black elites using Jacob Blake to advance their careers. No one is seeking justice, an improvement in race relations or better life opportunities for at-risk kids.

Baseballery

Accepting the premise that two teams with 100 or more losses facing each other — should that event ever have happened (so rare, but it has) — might constitute what one would arguably consider the worst-ever MLB game(s), the previous edition of this weekly missive, in the Baseballery section, discussed the 1923 end-of-season doubleheader between the lowly Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves. The author claimed there was evidence of similar, prior calamities.

And so there is. As the 1905 season wound down, the National League’s two worst teams played a five-game series that prolonged the suffering for the franchises’ fans. The Boston Beaneaters (they’d be the “Doves” and “Rustlers” before settling on “Braves” in 1912) came to Brooklyn to take on the Superbas (once-upon-a-Dodgers). There would be doubleheaders on Thursday and Saturday, and a solo game on Friday. The Superbas, quite ensconced in last place (60 games behind the pennant-winning Giants), began the week in St. Louis with a set of doubleheaders against the Cardinals — and won three of four to bring a 44-103 record home for the final series. The Beaneaters were heading to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh, where a 1-0, 13-inning victory had boosted their seventh-place record to 50-99. Maybe a sweep, maybe some rainouts, would keep Boston under 100 losses.

Maybe not. In the series first game, before a measly crowd of 2,000 on a chilly October afternoon, Brooklyn battered Boston, earning an 11-5 victory, and handing the Beaneaters their ignominious 100th defeat of the season. Boston’s non-ace, Kaiser Wilhelm, went the distance and took the loss, as his miserable record declined to 3-23, which was not all that much better than that achieved by winning pitcher Mal Eason, who ended the day at 5-21. In the twin bill’s second game, which lasted only 7 innings as darkness descended, Brooklyn first baseman Doc Gessler smacked a legitimate two-run homer in the first inning, giving the Superbas all the runs they needed, or would have, as they prevailed 2-1.

The next day (both teams now holding 100-plus-loss records), before an even-measlier crowd of just 800 at Brooklyn’s Washington Park (there wouldn’t be an Ebbets Field until 1913), history was made. The Beaneaters fell again, losing 7-3, as southpaw Jack Doscher took the complete-game victory (it would prove one of only two MLB career wins) for the Superbas. But the historical event belonged to Boston’s Hall-of-Fame hurler, Vic Willis: That day he would chalk up his 29th defeat of the season, setting a single-season record for modern baseball.

Both teams’ misery would end the next day, the season’s last, a Saturday doubleheader, maybe or maybe not enjoyed by some 2,500 fans. Boston would take the first contest, a 10-4 complete-game performance by winning pitcher Chick Fraser. As the fall sun departed, the second contest would prove another 7-inning event: Brooklyn smacked 17 hits to rack up an 11-7 victory. Assured of not ending the season in last place (the day concluded with Boston at 51-103 and Brooklyn at 48-104) Beaneaters’ player/manager Fred Tenney assigned the starting-pitcher duties to left-fielder Jim Delahanty. He lasted two innings, giving up two runs on five hits. Tenney, who played first base, then took over — in the sole pitching performance of his 17-year MLB career, in two frames he gave up four runs on five hits. Then in the bottom of the fifth Tenney handed the ball to right-fielder Cozy Dolan, who gave up five runs and earned the loss. Doc Scanlan, the ace of the Superbas staff, earned the victory, closing the season with a 14-12 record.

Pre-expansion, it would be hard to make the case for a more dreadful series. But make another case if it tickles your fancy — we are happy to share it here.

A Dios

A thought: Offer a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul of Tom Burnett, and the souls of all those who died on September 11th, and of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in our response to the Islamofascist threat.

God’s Restorative Peace to All and Especially to Our Homeland,

Jack Fowler, a proud jingoist who can receive your correspondence, sent with intentions good, bad, or indifferent, at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Nancy with the Laughing (Double) Face

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

If it was ideal during colds, maybe Minipoo (please, stop being so sophomoric already) would work during pandemics too? Ah well, quelle dommage for Speaker Pelosi — they stopped making Minipoo in the late Sixties. Seemed like a viable alternative to beauty-parlor law breaking, no? About which: This missive’s godfather, Jim Geraghty, has a many be-linked piece recounting the latest flubs and fluffs of the above-the-law leader of America’s Democrats. We suggest you read it.

And then there is Kevin Williamson’s take, noting that the caught-unmasked-in the-act Speaker got her wet hackles up and turned the victimhood tables to attack that b-word of a salon owner. From his piece:

You’re always the bitch when you get in the way of a politician — or a “bimbo” or trailer trash, if the politician in question is a Clinton.

Pelosi protests that she was “set up” by the salon owner. There is nothing new in politics: Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry, caught on film smoking crack in a hotel room with a hooker, raged over and over again: “The bitch set me up! The bitch set me up! The bitch set me up!” That didn’t play as well in the courtroom as he might have hoped, but, being a Democrat in the District of Columbia, he was reelected after serving his time.

Pelosi is demanding an apology from the salon owner for allegedly setting her up. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to do something obviously sketchy and then demand an apology for being exposed. But here, too, there is precedent. When young Barack Obama was first running for president, he was criticized for belonging to the congregation of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who preached crackpot racist sermons from his pulpit. A lesser politician might have tried to wiggle around some, but Barack Obama’s political instincts are almost as on-point as Nancy Pelosi’s hair. Embarrassed by his own association with a vicious racist, Obama went on television and lectured the rest of the country on their supposed racism. This was an elevated version of “I know you are, but what am I?” and — damnably — it worked.

Enough here on hair but for this: Relating to this missive’s headline, if you want to listen to the 1942 Frank Sinatra classic which, hard to believe, was written by that Phil Silvers, about another Nancy, you can enjoy it here .

Now, on a quite serious note: NR’s former publisher, Wick Allison, passed away this week. Your Humble and Aging Correspondent, who worked with Wick back in those Days of Yore, wrote what he believes is an honest remembrance of a departed comrade. One who deserves to be remembered. It can be read here.

Now let us get a-Jolting.

A Dozen Gemstones Grabbed at Random from This Past Week’s NRO Treasure Trove

1. The PRC may seem a monolith that will be unstoppable and all-consuming, but Therese Shaheen sees a nation with brewing problems, and it ain’t about beer. From the article:

Just the same, the situation today is without recent precedent. In the past few years, Xi has centralized his personal authority to a degree not seen in a Chinese leader since Chairman Mao. In 2017, Xi took control of the country’s military and often appears in public in a military uniform. He is, in effect, the head of the National Security Council, the head of the foreign policy apparatus, and of multiple economic commissions. In recent public appearances, the state news agency Xinhua has referred to him as “People’s Leader.” Can “Chairman Xi” be far off? In additional to title inflation, in 2018, he imposed constitutional changes on the National People’s Congress that removed a term limit preventing him from seeking a third term in 2023. Xi’s moves and power consolidation mean he is responsible and accountable for both the good and the bad. And lately, there’s been far more bad than good.

Starting with the economy: However the government may have controlled the pandemic, the economy remains weak. Economic growth prior to the pandemic — according to China watchers skeptical of government numbers — was probably flat or negative, notwithstanding official statistics that had it closer to 6 percent. Government at every level and households had combined debt of about 300 percent of GDP. U.S. debt/GDP even after trillions in coronavirus relief spending is less than half China’s level, which leaves fewer levers for Beijing to pull to help stimulate the economy.

While the U.S. Federal Reserve and Congress have injected more than $6 trillion into the economy through massive purchases across many asset classes, the People’s Bank of China balance sheet has remained flat this year. The U.S. Congress provided about $630 billion in direct support to small businesses, compared with less than one-tenth that amount the PRC made available to small businesses in China. Retail sales in China for each month of 2020 are down compared with the same month the year prior. The real data are certainly worse than what the government discloses. In the U.S., retail sales in July were at all-time highs, eclipsing their pre-pandemic levels. According to economist Carlos Casanove at French insurer Coface, the PRC “recovery narrative has been overplayed.”

2. John O’Sullivan checks out the British SJWs enslaved to canceling. Their latest victim: “Rule Britannia.” From the essay:

So the Brits delivered more than “Rule Britannia” promised: It wasn’t only Brits who never would be slaves but anyone living under British rule or on the high seas. It was, moreover, a peculiarly national achievement. In order to buy the slaves their freedom peacefully, the British government raised 20 million pounds sterling in a loan on the money markets. That’s 2.4 billion in today’s money. The British taxpayer finally paid off the last instalment of the loan on February 1st, 2015.

My conclusion is that Ms. Lewis’s comparison of Brits singing “Rule Britannia” with neo-Nazis singing about being forced into gas chambers is so wide of the mark that it makes me wonder what on earth they’re singing on Songs of Praise these days. But the malady seems to be a collective rather than an individual one. Such opinions — it would be generous to call them ideas — are almost compulsory in wokerati circles inside and outside the BBC. And they seem to have become both acute and chronic in the last few years.

I blame Brexit. It has unsettled Remainers in the media so severely that they see threats, insults, and dangers in the lightest expression of contrary taste or opinion — jokes, songs, concert programs, or 18th-century drinking songs. It’s been a long time since anyone sang “Rule Britannia” with any serious imperialist intent. Ditto “Land of Hope and Glory.” The Last Night of the Proms is only half a serious concert. Its second half is a jolly end-of-term romp at which a succession of conductors — most famously Sir Malcolm Sergant (“Flash Harry” to his admirers) and Sir Andrew Davis — ham it up with closing speeches and the promenaders (i.e., the cheap standing seats) play games such as clapping against the grain in order to throw the orchestra off the beat.

“Rule Britannia” itself is a cheerful, rousing, quite unaggressive, popular song from a different age sung by an audience out to enjoy a good time. Is it sung ironically? No, there’s an edge of hostility or subversion to irony which isn’t present in the kind of pantomime atmosphere on the Last Night. Is it then patriotic? Well, it’s not actually hostile to the country, which may be why it’s irritated the BBC mandarins in ways they can’t quite explain. That may also be the reason why on a recent post-Brexit Last Night, some people in the audience turned up to wave European Union flags at the finale. They were mentally canceling Brexit as best they could, by annoying those they thought were Brexit supporters. For myself I would say “Rule Britannia” is a song of comic self-congratulation akin to a pastiche rather than a satire.

3. Victor Davis Hanson hears the sounds of silence about violence. From the essay:

The last possible reason for the silence is the most dangerous of all: Looting is simply no longer a crime but a redistributive lark. Has Biden bought into the increasingly faddish left-wing view that looting is merely an overdue redistribution of someone else’s property, not theft of one’s own? From Vicki Orsterweil’s crackpot book In Defense of Looting to the decisions of blue-state district attorneys not to prosecute most crimes of looting, the Left has created a cottage industry of redefining looting and vandalism as cries-from-the-heart social justice. Biden in his dotage either buys into these crackpot ideas or is savvy enough to realize he’s a figurehead, propped up to put a thin veneer on the state in a radical Jacobin nuthouse.

Watch Trump’s approval polls that are ever so insidiously rising. Even in the predominately left-wing orthodox surveys, they begin to near 46 percent. That suggests the rope-a-dope strategy is now inert and that Biden must leave the basement and play for a time the centrist role of a Hubert Humphrey or Bill Clinton, and he may even have a scripted Sister Souljah moment.

At some point, Biden and his handlers will finally conclude that Kenosha was not an outlier but a symptom and that, as the memory of George Floyd fades, and as the mobs of the nocturnal rioters erode, we are getting down to the proverbial Weatherman-like hardcore agitators. And that means the diminished but more venomous Antifa and BLMA remnants will try to up the ante and torch, loot, shoot, maim, and wreck all the way to the suburbs.

4. Itxu Díaz sees revolution afoot and has thoughts on what Edmund Burke would say about the riots. From the essay:

Surprise. As soon as street agitators got bored with knocking down statues, they started knocking down people. And as soon as the gunshots started ringing, the moderate Biden took off his mask and turned out to be Kamala. Be wary of the adult who bares each and every tooth when smiling. A look at history, especially at that of France and its enlightened guillotine, suggests something quite unpleasant: America is not in the throes of a simple electoral campaign but rather seems to be at the beginning of an extreme leftist revolutionary process. Perhaps the first thing the Right ought to do, if it has any intention of putting up a defense against totalitarian harassment, is to admit it. Nothing that is happening on the streets is the product of chance, unless you consider that the invasion of Poland in 1939 was just bad luck.

It all happened so fast, like a magic trick. Suddenly, there is violence, there is hate, there is fear, there is exceptionality, there are lies, there is resentment, there is division, there is chaos, there is cowardice, and there is looting. In other words, we already have all the best ingredients for baking a real revolutionary cake. The violence still seems to be residual, and that is its greatest danger: that we underestimate it. Check their Twitter accounts: Not a single one of the world’s totalitarian and extreme-Left leaders has missed his appointment with BLM, including the most despotic of them. Xi Jinping is ecstatic: First he exports a pandemic to the enemy, and now the strongest democracy in the West is about to fall into his hands by his preferred means, revolution. It’s like tweeting in capital letters for a week.

What frightened Edmund Burke most about the French Revolution was not the revolutionaries, but the sympathies they aroused among a number of English conservatives. That is what impelled him to speak out against the great farce sponsored by an Enlightenment determined to see blood spilled. Something similar is happening today on American soil. The worst thing is not the savages trying to subvert order through violence, but the complicit attitude of the Democratic Party, which makes less and less effort to hide its enthusiasm for this kind of postmodern revolution, where it makes no difference if a television set is stolen, or someone gets shot, or a Republican politician narrowly escapes a lynching. The truth is that the Left moves in chaos like a fish in water.

5. Issac Schorr checks out the Biden Agenda and finds it slim and amorphous for a POTUS wannabe. From the analysis:

His more general foreign-policy plan is called “the Biden Plan for Restoring American Leadership” and consists of three pillars. Specifically, Biden advocates “reinvigorat[ing] our own democracy” while rebuilding the alliances he contends have been weakened under President Trump, pursuing “a foreign policy for the middle class,” and “renew[ing] American leadership.”

His first pillar is, curiously, focused mostly on domestic reforms such as reforming our criminal-justice system, creating “greater transparency in our campaign finance system,” and once again holding daily press briefings in the White House. He also calls for a restoration of moral leadership by once again sending federal funding to organizations that provide or refer people to clinics that do provide abortion abroad and “revitaliz[ing] our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.” Then, “having taken these essential steps, . . .  President Biden will host a global Summit for Democracy” with the goals of “fighting corruption, defending against authoritarianism,” and “advancing human rights.” How this body will operate or ensure that its actions have any effect is left to the imagination.

The second pillar is just as domestic-policy-dominant as the first one — stressing the importance of health care, a $15 minimum wage, and infrastructure as well as of significant public investment in “clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail.” On trade, Biden declares that there “is no going back to business as usual” (a tacit endorsement of the Trump agenda without saying as much?) and questionably asserts that he will have half of global GDP — the sum of all earthly democracies — to use as leverage.

6. Mark Curran finds no good in any of the varieties of “Codes of Silence.” From the piece:

Police, like everyone else, run the gamut. The majority are good officers, serving with honor and often under incredibly stressful, difficult circumstances, but some are also bad. There are hardworking officers and lazy officers, honest officers and dishonest officers. And in today’s strong union culture, it is considerably more difficult for supervisors to deal with employees who do not reflect well on their profession. A police pension can be lucrative, and officers will understandably go to great lengths to protect it. There has, as a result, always been a “code of silence” in law enforcement — an unwritten rule that one officer should never incriminate another. This code of silence existed, and continues to exist, in countless police departments across the country. I came face-to-face with it as a prosecutor.

But there are other codes of silence equally dangerous to the public. One applies to street-gang members and the residents of the neighborhoods they terrorize. The residents are not looking to protect the gangs by refusing to identify and testify against suspects; they’re looking not to be killed in retaliation. This is a particular problem in Chicago, the largest city in my home state. Yet Democratic mayor Lori Lightfoot has rejected efforts to strengthen witness-protection programs, saying crime would best be solved by “bringing economic stability to neighborhoods.” And as we wait for that economic stability to lift up neighborhoods with failing government schools and high unemployment, the cycle of violence continues, residents live in constant fear, and children are murdered. Natalie Wallace, a seven-year-old Chicago girl, was shot in the forehead while riding her bike at her grandmother’s Independence Day party two months ago. Chicago police commander Fred Waller summed up the feelings of police and citizens alike afterward, telling reporters, “I’m tired of it, dammit.”

This summer, we’ve seen the horrible effects of a third type of silence: the refusal of elected Democrats to speak out against the violence, looting, and lawlessness that have played out week after week. What began as peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd has become an excuse for organized mobs to incite mayhem, attack police officers, engage in mass looting, and destroy large and small businesses that took decades to build. Officers who have been given explicit orders to “stand down” by the Democrats who run their cities cannot make arrests. And even if they do, prosecutors refuse to prosecute, letting criminals go on low-cost or recognizance bonds within days or, in some cases, hours.

7. Frederick Hess finds “Anti-racist” education to be the stuff of flim-flam. From the analysis:

Students are heading back to school this fall (in-person or remotely) after the longest, strangest summer on record. It’s been the summer not just of COVID but also of massive protests and rioting triggered by the police killing of George Floyd in May. Calls for racial justice have swept the land, and schools have responded by embracing the push for “anti-racist” education. This should be a wonderful thing. If there’s anything that promises to unite a divided nation, it’s joining together to advance equality and justice.

Thus, it’s no surprise that “anti-racism” has found an eager reception. It has made a television star and publishing phenom out of Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist. It’s made a best-seller out of Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility, who explains, “A positive white identity is an impossible goal. White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.” (As DiAngelo puts it, her aim is to be “a little less white” every day.)

The problem: “Anti-racism” is often little more than a crude bit of rhetorical flim-flam, akin to that unlovely old Southern habit of rechristening the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression.” In fact, much of what passes for “anti-racism” is a poisonous exercise in rank bigotry — especially when applied to education. The healthy impulse implied by “anti-racism” has been coopted by ideologues. While there are serious, practical issues to tackle, the “anti-racists” have instead declared war on the intellectual traits that equip students for personal and civic success.

8. John Shu smacks West Virginia’s conservative AG Patrick Morrisey for misusing “pubic nuisance” laws. From the article:

“Public nuisance” has a specific legal meaning, and the highly regulated business of a pharmacy legally filling a doctor’s prescription is not it. A “public nuisance” is when someone unlawfully interferes with the public’s right to use public land or water (such as a public road, park, or lake), or when someone uses his land to intentionally engage in illegal activity and disturbs the public’s access to or use of nearby land ot water.

The government sues to protect the public’s common right to access and use the land or water, asks the court to enjoin the illegal activity (such as dumping toxic waste or running an illegal gambling ring), and recovers abatement costs from the person or people who actually engaged in the illegal activity. “Public nuisance” does not include selling legal products, and only the person or people unlawfully causing or controlling the illegal activity are responsible.

For example, chemical or playing-card manufacturers are not liable under public nuisance if bad actors misuse their products to create toxic waste or run illegal gambling rings. Similarly, chain pharmacies such as Rite-Aid are not liable when individuals abuse pain medicines or commit crimes to obtain them, or when unethical doctors write pain-medicine prescriptions that they should not.

It seems that the mass-tort plaintiffs’ bar, who are primarily concerned about using state enforcement power for their own financial gain, seduced Morrisey and other state attorneys general with the siren song of huge financial settlements. The fact that Morrisey outsourced previous opioid-related, mass-tort lawsuits to Motley Rice, LLC, which is headquartered in South Carolina and is one of the largest and most infamous mass-tort plaintiffs’ firms in the country, shows this.

9. John Loftus heads to a New Hampshire airplane hangar for a Trump Rally, and finds plenty of raucus. From the piece:

It’s inaccurate, and rather silly, that the media portray the majority of Trump supporters, especially the men, as angry and bitter. Because throughout the evening, the “deplorables” seemed not just in good spirits: They were jubilant. Even if COVID-19 had taken its toll on the city’s economic activity and employment numbers, people still smiled, cheered, laughed, and took selfies with the cardboard cutout of the president. The crowd danced along to the ’70s and ’80s pop hits blaring from loudspeakers. “Macho Man” by the Village People was a favorite. Vendors sold tacky flags: Trump as Rambo or Rocky Balboa. Everything was drenched with Boomer nostalgia.

And that makes complete sense. Overall, the crowd skewed old. There were middle-aged Boomers, graying Boomers, veterans, and bikers with limps. People clutched their Pepsis with dirtied, callused hands. Their tattooed forearms were flecked with paint. Plumes of cigarette smoke made the air sour. Very few Millennials showed up, and the ones who did — many of whom were young men — clumped together in what appeared to be tight-knit social groups. They may have committed what amounts to social suicide in today’s youth culture. Nevertheless, they seemed happy to be out with friends on a Friday night, liberal co-workers on Snapchat be damned. If these young men harbored resentment at the rapidly changing world around them, it was very well hidden. Young women tended to be accompanied by a mother or a grandparent. However, one local teacher in her 30s, who had had both of her knees replaced before COVID, came to the event alone. For her, getting out of the stuffy, politically correct teachers’ lounge was nothing short of a blessing. She hobbled around on crutches, proudly displaying a picture of Trump signing her MAGA hat at rally back in 2016. Younger couples with rambunctious children brought fold-out chairs, snacks, games, and a great deal of patience. There was one mother who wore a QAnon T-shirt and had a QAnon flag draped over her shoulders much like a superhero cape. Her children were glued to their phones, as was the husband. It was an odd, even alarming, sight. But no one seemed to care about — nor did they even notice — the QAnon family. When one woman snaked through the crowd waving a cardboard letter “Q” and screaming at the top of her lungs, people ignored her antics. They were too busy grooving to the music, and before long, they were glued to the large screen above them, glued to the president, who had launched into his typical impromptu introduction at the podium.

10. Rich Lowry thinks the Democrats’ enthusiasm for mail-in voting might be an exploding cigar. From the piece:

No matter what anyone says, there is inevitably going to be more mail-in voting in the fall, but in-person voting is superior. Only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of in-person votes are rejected, whereas rejection rates of 1 percent are common with mail-in votes, and some states exceeded that during their primaries this year.

This should be a five-alarm worry for Democrats. According to polling, almost twice as many Biden supporters as Trump supporters say they’ll vote by mail this year. According to NPR, studies show “that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count.” In another universe, if Trump were urging Democrats to stay away from the polls and instead use a method more likely to get their votes discarded, it’d be attacked as a dastardly voter-suppression scheme.

There are at least three ways that mail-in voting could contribute to a 2020 nightmare. Trump could be winning on election night, and the outcome slowly reverse over time. Delayed by the volume of mail-in ballots, states could blow past the deadline for finalizing their results. And if the margins in battleground states are very close, rejected mail-in ballots could lead to protracted, high-stakes court fights.

11. Tobias Hoonhout scores the MSM’s reaction to the until-now-unseen riots, spawned by . . . Russians! And . . . White Nationalists! From the analysis:

Take MSNBC anchor Joy Reid, who warned — “without evidence,” as the pundit class has become so fond of saying — that the unrest was being “perpetrated” by Trump supporters and “white nationalist mobs.”

“The ‘riots’ are not Black Lives Matter marches gone wrong. Armed white nationalists are mobbing these cities to take advantage of protests and scare fellow white people into quietly siding with them. It’s an old, tried and true strategy: using fear & anti-blackness for politics,” Reid tweeted.

Reid’s diagnosis ignores that leftist agitators had been torching and vandalizing businesses and assaulting people at random for months in Portland before Trump supporters showed up in any significant number. She also has the cause and effect exactly backwards in the most recent instance of political violence, the one she was ostensibly referring to, in which a Trump supporter was shot and killed on Saturday by a suspect who has publicly declared his allegiance to Antifa and who has the balled fist of the Black Power movement tattooed on his neck.

Rather than accept and report on the fact that there is a growing contingent of black-bloc anarchists intent on tearing up American cities, CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, went looking for a familiar — yet conveniently distant — culprit.

Bash asked Adam Schiff — the same Adam Schiff who breathlessly claimed for more than a year that he had seen “evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion, even after closed-door hearings found none — whether Russia “is trying to fuel some of the civil unrest.” The California congressman did not bat an eye: “We have to worry about their aggravating these tensions in our cities,” he stated. While Russia is undoubtedly trying to help along the self-destructive elements now ascendant on the American left, it isn’t Russian meme-makers who are burning down city blocks.

12. Hey that Michigan Senate race (candidate John James was on the cover of the June 1, 2020 issue) is getting tight, reports Alexandra DeSanctis. From the Corner post:

According to a new internal poll conducted on behalf of the Michigan Senate campaign of Republican John James, his race against incumbent Democratic senator Gary Peters is in a dead heat.

In the new survey of more than 550 registered voters, support for Peters is at 47 percent, while James’s is at 46 percent. Three percent of voters say they’ll support a third-party or write-in candidate, while 4 percent remain undecided.

The survey was conducted by the Tarrance Group between September 1 and September 3. According to James’s campaign, the Republican has narrowly outraised Peters for the overall election cycle and outraised him in five consecutive financial periods.

James, a businessman and military veteran, ran for Senate in 2018 against Michigan’s other incumbent Democratic senator, Debbie Stabenow. He lost that race by about six points, a smaller margin than most polling of the race had predicted.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White sees the late Chadwick Bosman treated as a useable enigma. From the piece:

Following Michelle’s dictate, the Democratic media machine went to work creating various tributes to Boseman with the same alacrity as when they used the passing of other black celebrities, from Aretha Franklin to John Lewis, as pretexts for widely broadcast partisan rallies. This climaxed with ABC-TV’s Tribute to a King, an hour-long special emphasizing, as Michelle did, Boseman’s role in the ABC-Disney corporation’s Marvel film Black Panther. This show featured liberal tributes from, among others, corporate head Bob Iger, James Baldwin epigone Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Harris had already tweeted that Boseman showed “millions of black and brown children the power of a superhero who looks like them.” Her social-justice calculation ignored yellow and red and white children in the same manner as Michelle. Their objective was to limit Boseman’s effectiveness to that of a political tool in liberals’ new segregation movement.

Boseman deserved better, because he gave better. Instead, he got misrepresentation. The Boseman eulogies, like those draped over Aretha Franklin, were evidence of how the media manipulates race, politics, and the arts to control public attitudes. (The speed of such programming is astonishing, as if advance teams stand ready for rhetorical war.) Rather than probe the idiosyncrasies of Boseman’s talent, and the mystery and coincidence of his biopic filmography distinguished by impersonations of such legendary figures as Robinson, Brown, and Marshall, politicians and their media minions retrofitted his career as one based on a partisan program no different from the sinewy, forward-looking archetypes in socialist-realist art.

2. Kyle Smith says — see Tenet. From the review:

We could all use a bit of Wow right now and Tenet is Wow, cubed. I don’t consider it a great movie, but then again I couldn’t really follow it, due to my companion’s need to take several breaks and also perhaps due to its being just about the most narratively convoluted blockbuster Hollywood has yet produced. I sense some competition between the Nolan brothers; after the pair worked on Interstellar, the most recent of the five screenplays they wrote together, Jonathan Nolan saw Inception, thought, “I can make something more complicated than that,” and gave us Westworld. Christopher Nolan went “Pshaw, you call that tricksy? I’ve got something that’ll melt your ganglia, little bro . . .”

How about a movie in which the bad guys and good guys both go backward in time as well as forward? That way somebody could step through a time portal that works like a giant lazy Susan to help save a damsel who has been shot through the midsection, or to fight himself, or to be on both sides of a window that divides moving-forward from moving-backward. Could you really split yourself into two time-selves? Seems unlikely. But Nolan gets that we are living in the age of unlikely, and he tells us that the arrogance of the time masters in this movie is such that they believe they could go back in time and kill their own grandfathers without consequence.

As entertainment, Tenet certainly works on a glandular level. Whether the movie makes some kind of sense or whether the time stuff is simply the gimmick Nolan needs to set up his action tableaux, I couldn’t say, not until I’ve seen the movie about four more times. Nolan’s latest gargantuan effort to blow your mind may duly blow your mind, or it may simply bruise it, but at least it’s a whole lot of movie, and to that I say bravo.

3. Brian Allen is in Rome, catching the definitive Raphael exhibition.He digs it.  From the review:

The show is called “Raffaello: 1520-1483,” and that’s not curatorial dyslexia. It starts with Raphael’s death on Good Friday, 1520, on his 37th birthday, and goes backwards, through flashbacks, from the Rome of Leo X and Julius II, two powerhouse popes, to Raphael’s vision to disinter the buried ruins of ancient Rome, to The School of Athens, his development of ideal beauty via his many versions of the Madonna and Child, and to his relationships with Michelangelo, Bramante, Leonardo, Mantegna, Fra Bartolomeo, and Perugino. It ends with the savant’s early years in the art-savvy court of the Montefeltro dukes in Urbino.

Presenting a show backwards is a risk, and an emphatic one since it starts with a nearly life-size reproduction of Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon. His death shocked Rome and every high-end court in Italy. He was famous when he died and beloved by Leo X, who was “sunk in a measureless grief,” Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari reported. A few days after Raphael’s funeral, Rome was shaken by earth tremors the pope believed were signals from his spirit.

Starting at the end invites the show’s central questions. Why is Raphael so famous, and why does he matter now? Many of us can answer the question on one point, via Vasari. In his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, from 1550, Vasari couldn’t praise Raphael as an artist with more fervor, but he also defined him as Rome’s leading sex machine.

Wassamatta? Capital Matters!

We treat you to four selections published on NRO and written by the Big Economic Brains that cram our virtual offices.

1. David Bahnsen is at the nexus of the markets and COVID stats, and explains the Dow Jones’ performance in the face of economic shocks. From the analysis:

The market is not as hot as you think. Now, this may seem totally counterintuitive or demonstrably false after what I have just written about the market index price action since COVID lows. But not all “facts” are “brute” or immune from context. That “cap-weighting” reality in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are distortive, in that they paper over the fact that the five biggest names in the S&P are up roughly 50 percent, whereas the average stock in the index is still down on the year. In fact, 63 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are down on the year. The top five companies in the index (1 percent by number) make up a stunning 24 percent of the index by weighting. Those five names are up a whopping 42 percent more than the bottom 495 names in the index. The S&P 500 is composed of a staggering 37 percent in technology names when you add Google, Amazon, and Netflix to the S&P 500 Technology weighting.

The market is performing in line with how it has in past recoveries. But even if you do just take the disproportionate impact of big tech at face value, history has generally seen much of what we are seeing in 2020 — violent sell-offs followed by substantial rallies. In fact, this rally only represents the third quickest move to a new high following a bear-market sell-off in history (late 1980 saw a 27 percent decline followed by a 58-day move to a new high, and 1990 saw a 20 percent decline followed by an 86-day move to a new high). Even looking at the chart of this year’s recovery up against the 2009 market recovery, a striking correlation is immediately detectable. It is important to remember that the market’s significant rally in 2009 and 2010 was not led by a strong economy, either. Unemployment remained stubbornly high through both of those years, and home foreclosures would not begin to settle down until 2011. Markets were not rallying because things were good, yet; they were rallying because things had stopped getting worse.

2. Robert Zubrin fingers the FDA for stifling pharmaceutical innovation. From the piece:

By radically and continually expanding the paperwork, testing, and other legal and regulatory obstacles to bring a new drug to market or treatment to practice, since 1962 the FDA has caused the development time for new drugs to triple (from an average of four years before the amendments to twelve today), the cost to multiply 40-fold, and the number of new drugs introduced per year to be cut fivefold. Within five years of the amendments’ passage, 98 percent of U.S. drug companies (including all the small innovative ones) were eliminated from the drug-development business. Before the amendments, 50 percent of all new drugs invented worldwide were developed in the U.S. Today, it is 15 percent. Not only that, many new life-saving drugs have been kept out of the United States for as many as 20 years after they were put into use in the U.K. or Europe.

One such FDA stall was the agency’s banning in the 1980s of life-saving European anti-AIDS drugs, denying readily available treatments that could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This ban provoked underground resistance (depicted in the 2013 movie The Dallas Buyers Club) and eventual successful legislative reversal by the gay-rights movement. But sufferers of numerous other diseases without such effective political organization were not so lucky.

In fact, according to the figures assembled by Ruwart, the total number of deaths caused by FDA delay of approval of drugs for treating heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, and numerous other ailments is at least 15 million — or more than ten times the total number of American combat deaths in all of our wars since 1775, combined.

3. Brad Palumbo explains to those who need to hear it again — progressive “wealth” taxes will hurt average Americans. From the article:

“Wealth is accumulated savings, which is needed for investment,” Cato Institute economist Chris Edwards explains. “The fortunes of the richest Americans are mainly socially beneficial business assets that create jobs and income, not private consumption assets. Raising taxes on wealth would boomerang against average workers by undermining their productivity and wage growth.”

This isn’t just a theoretical downside of wealth taxes. A mountain of research shows that they don’t work. The latest evidence comes courtesy of two Rice University economists, who in a new paper studied the effects of something along the lines of Warren’s proposals: a tax of 2 percent on household wealth above $50 million and 6 percent on household wealth of $1 billion or higher.

The economists found that such a wealth tax would cause a 2.7 percent decrease in the size of the economy over the next 50 years. That may sound relatively small, but it translates to trillions of dollars in American wealth that would never get created. They further found that a wealth tax would destroy 1.8 million jobs. It’s not hard to see why. If you make your country’s policies hostile to the wealthy and successful, they’ll take their wealth — and their businesses — elsewhere. They’ll also adapt their behavior and spending decisions domestically to avoid the tax. So, it’s no surprise that the Rice paper also concluded the average household’s income would drop by roughly $2,500 as a result of this supposedly “progressive” tax’s implementation.

4. Ed Conard gives Steve Rattner’s statistics a kick in the graph. From the critique:

By that measure, the Obama administration’s polices grew employment by 7 million workers over employment prior to the financial crisis at end of 2007. His policies did so at a time when the population of 25 to 64 year-olds grew by 8.6 million people. So, after eight years at the helm, the Obama administration created 1.6 million fewer jobs than the growth in working-age adults — the supposed “new normal.”

In contrast, the Trump administration’s policies grew employment by 6.6 million workers at a time when the population of 25- to 64 year-olds grew by 1.4 million people. In three years, President Trump’s policies created 5.2 million more jobs than the growth in working age adults. Unemployment consequently fell and workforce participation rose. No honest person could compare the two administrations and conclude the Trump administration’s economic performance was inferior.

Using a similar time frame, President Obama’s policies grew the economy 1.4 percent per year from its prior peak in 2007 until the end of 2016 when he left office. Until the pandemic, President Trump’s policies grew the economy 2.5 percent per year from its prior peak at the end of 2016.

Over his eight years, President Obama’s policies cumulatively increased real private investment 14 percent over the capital stock in place in 2007. In three years, President Trump’s policies increased cumulative real investment 11 percent. Using a misleading statistic, Rattner points at only the growth rate of investment and not the cumulative benefits of a permanent increase in the capital base, which produces lasting benefits. By most every measure, the Obama administration’s policies produced anemic investment and economic growth relative to the Trump administration.

Just Don’t Stand There: The New Issue of National Review Awaits!

The September 21, 2020 issue, piping hot off the presses and in the hands of that controversial United States Postal Service, can be read right now on NRO (completely if you have an NRPLUS subscription). As is our custom, here are four recommendations, gems pulled from a treasure chest filled with the like.

1. Kyle Smith points all to the right direction of Wrong Way Joe Biden. From the cover story:

Biden has managed to be so consistently wrong about virtually everything that even the stuff he is right about he is also wrong about, at one time or another, notably the Hyde amendment, which was his sole remaining tie to the claim of being an abortion moderate. For 40 years, Biden backed Hyde, which barred federal funding for abortions. He reiterated this stance on June 5, 2019. When other Democrats reacted negatively, he reversed himself the very next day. All principles are disposable depending on where the party leads him, and these days it is venturing very far left of the Obama administration. Says a swooning admirer, New York Times editorial-board member Mara Gay, “Biden’s platform is far more liberal than Barack Obama’s was years ago. . . . We were kind of blown away about how much more similar it is to Bernie Sanders’s platform in some ways than Barack Obama in 2008.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy piece of legislation Biden ever wrote, the 1994 crime bill he drafted in the Senate, came when the party was eager to look tough on crime. Biden later told the National Association of Police Officers, “You guys sat at that conference table of mine for a six-month period, and you wrote the bill.” Today, however, Democrats worry that being tough on crime can mean locking up a lot of black men who commit crimes, so Biden’s new line is to say he was opposed to all of the stuff in his bill that’s now radioactive with the Left: mandatory minimum sentencing, a three-strikes-and-you’re out provision, federal bucks for state prisons. “I didn’t support more money to build state prisons,” he claimed in July of 2019. “I was against it. We should be building rehab centers and not prisons.” (His campaign clarified that Biden supported only $6 billion of federal money for the state prisons, not the $10 billion that was in the final bill — the bill he voted for and bragged about for many years.) When your media arm is also known as “the media,” you can get away with saying you’re against the laws you wrote.

Like Donald Trump, Biden missed the Vietnam War, obtaining five student draft deferments and later being disqualified on account of childhood asthma that apparently did not limit him in any other way; he never mentions having the condition in his memoir, Promises to Keep, in which he boasts of his high-school and college football career and his work as a lifeguard. Just two years out of law school, he began his political career, at 27, winning a seat on the New Castle County Council, and he has been slapping backs and sniffing hair ever since. The year 2020 brings us Biden’s desperate, last-chance play for the presidency, which he first sought more than 30 years ago — in that 1988 campaign that exploded in a fiveway freeway pileup of simultaneous plagiarism scandals during which we all learned that Biden had stolen material for a 15-page law-school paper, then borrowed without attribution from speeches by Hubert Humphrey, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and, notoriously, British Labour firebrand Neil Kinnock. Like a jewel thief who knocks over Grandma on his way out of the store, Biden lied at the same time he stole: Unlike Kinnock, the son of a Welsh coal miner, Biden could not claim he was the first one in his family “in a thousand generations” to go to college. Biden was so invested in lifting from Kinnock that he even claimed to be descended from coal miners, which perhaps sounds more romantic than the truth, which is that his dad was a used-car salesman and that he attended a private school that today costs $28,000 a year.

2. Jimmy Quinn makes the case for calling the PRC’s treatment exactly what it is: genocide. From the article:

For years, experts and activists have called the situation a “cultural genocide.” That label carries a blistering significance and refers to the CCP’s attempts to wipe out Uyghur culture and traditions. The CCP has razed burial sites, closed mosques, and effectively criminalized most expressions of faith. Still, cultural genocide is not recognized as a crime under the U.N.’s 1948 convention on genocide. Invoking cultural genocide rather than simply genocide has been a cautious way to speak out about the situation in Xinjiang without discrediting one’s argument through exaggeration. In light of recent developments, that’s no longer required.

In late June, Adrian Zenz, the German anthropologist who has provided most of the groundbreaking revelations on the Xinjiang mass-detention drive, published a new report detailing a systematic forced-sterilization and birth-control program to lower Uyghur birth rates. Among his findings were that birth rates plummeted 84 percent from 2015 to 2018 in Xinjiang’s two major Uyghur prefectures; that a mass campaign to sterilize 14 to 34 percent of Uyghur women in rural parts of the region was underway; and that the CCP planned to sterilize or implant intrauterine contraceptive devices in 80 percent of childbearing-age women in Xinjiang’s rural southern areas. During the same period, Zenz noted, the state worked successfully to increase the Han Chinese population in Xinjiang. He likens these population-control techniques, which are based on ethnicity, to “opening or closing a faucet.” They are reminiscent of the CCP’s rule over Tibet, where Chen Quanguo, the party official who has presided over the Xinjiang genocide, gained a reputation for ruthless competence.

This implicates one of the five acts that can be considered genocide under Article II of the convention: “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” Prior to June, there was already evidence implicating CCP officials in the four other acts: They have killed and caused “serious bodily or mental harm” to Uyghurs, two of the acts. In addition, the CCP has inflicted on the Uyghur people “conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or in part,” by deliberately failing to provide adequate living conditions to detainees. And the CCP has “forcibly [transferred] children of the group to another group,” by sending Uyghur children, whose parents in many cases are detained in the camps, to state facilities.

3. Vincent Cannato turns in an excellent review of David Paul Kuhn’s The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution. From the piece:

The hardhat riot, Kuhn astutely explains, was one skirmish in a kind of civil war within the Democratic Party that led to the breakup of the New Deal coalition and eventually to the Reagan Revolution. On one side of this divide was the traditional worker, FDR’s “everyman,” who supported the New Deal, its labor protections, modest social-welfare policies, and overall concern for the common man and woman. On the other side were more-affluent liberals, especially young people who protested the Vietnam War and pushed for civil rights and women’s rights. By the 1960s, the chasm between these two wings of the Democratic Party was proving unbridgeable.

The white lower middle class, notes historian Steve Fraser, had once “been regarded as cultural heroes standing up to the fat cat, applauded for their everyman insouciance.” By the late 1960s, he continues, “they had become culturally disreputable, reactionary outlaws, decidedly unstylish in what they wore and drank and in how they played; they were looked on as lesser beings.”

Under the mayoralty of John Lindsay, New York City had become a key battleground in this political clash. A liberal Republican who would switch parties after the hardhat riots, Lindsay was an early fashioner of the top-down political coalition that would replace the New Deal coalition. He fused together the business community, liberal reformers, the New Left, and the city’s minority community into a left-liberal coalition. Outer-borough “white ethnics” — many of them middle- and lower-middle-class Democrats — now found themselves the villains in Lindsay’s political play. A privileged WASP, he had little understanding of the lives of the working class and little patience for their complaints about crime, taxes, and welfare.

4. In a powerful essay, Michael J. Lewis contemplates the death of public beauty. From the essay:

Technically speaking, the public space is not quite dead; we still pour extravagant resources into their making. Hudson Yards — at present, New York City’s most swaggering real-estate development — set aside fully 50 percent of its site as public space, and garnished it with fountains, trees, and flower beds. It even commissioned a work of monumental sculpture, that towering and baffling honeycomb of stairs known as “Vessel.” And we still dignify our public spaces with those traditional bearers of civic meaning: columns, statuary, and the formal axis. All three are at play in the just-completed Eisenhower Memorial, in Washington, D.C., which is the work of Frank Gehry, by no means a classicist.

Whatever one thinks of these contemporary spaces and others like them, few would call them “beautiful,” not even their own authors. The official website for the Eisenhower Memorial speaks of “Gehry’s unique vision,” while Hudson Yards prides itself on offering “an immersive and varied horticultural experience.” “Immersive” happens to be a particularly fashionable term of praise at the moment, suggesting a deeper, more engaging level of experience than merely to look at something. The change in language marks a change in aesthetic values, and it helps us understand what has happened to our public spaces since World War II. For there should be no question that something has gone badly wrong.

At first glance, the monumental public spaces of the post-war era do not differ significantly from their predecessors. The Empire State Plaza in Albany, for example, is remarkably similar in composition to the National Mall: A monumental cube of a building launches a mighty axis that runs between two walls of buildings to culminate in a colossal capitol building. There is even the same reflecting pool and profusion of smaller memorials. And yet the Mall in Washington is commonly regarded as America’s noblest civic space, while the plaza in Albany is seen as a monstrous failure, vicious in its inhospitality. The same landscape devices are at play in both, and yet they are wielded to very different effect. One can make such a comparison in almost any American town, and it is between public spaces of pre-war and post-war vintage; or, to put it more accurately, between public spaces that follow the ideals of the City Beautiful movement and those that do not.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Spectator USA, Charles Lipson gets snippy with Nancy Pelosi’s hairpocrisy. From the article:

Pelosi’s visit to the hair salon encapsulates this broader problem of entitlement, hypocrisy and two-tier justice. The story won’t have legs though, because the legacy media will cut it off at the knees. Why? The country’s major news organizations are on her side, politically. Most of them reported her mistake briefly and then moved on. Almost all are now partisan instruments, loathe to dwell on anything that might hurt ‘their side’ and eager to highlight anything that hurts their opponents. Opinion shows on Fox News do the same for conservatives, but they are far outnumbered. Since viewers and readers can choose sources that reflect their views, they can avoid stories that challenge them.

This media fragmentation and the flagrant bias exhibited by so many once-reputable outlets has consequences far deeper than Pelosi’s blow dry. It means the Washington Post, which did so much to uncover Watergate, has maintained radio silence on the scandals surrounding the Obama-era FBI, Department of Justice and CIA. They are ignoring the problems now emerging with Robert Mueller and Andrew Weissmann’s investigation. Was there a proper legal basis for their work? Did they hide exculpatory evidence? Did their FISA warrants break the law? The Post, New York Times and other mainstream media are avoiding these questions, just as they avoided Devin Nunes’s serious probe of the investigators’ abuses. They were too busy repeating Adam Schiff’s worthless stories about Russian collusion, contradicted by the sworn testimony he kept hidden.

2. At City Journal, Michael Gonzalez profiles the Marxist leadership behind Black Lives Matter. From the article:

Consider the BLM Global Network. The three women who thought up the BLM name in 2013, and then added the hashtag, later founded the global network. They remain in charge. As the New York Times Magazine explained, “while much of the nation’s attention drifted away from Black Lives Matter, organizers and activists weren’t dormant.” One of the three founders, Alicia Garza, said that “the movement’s first generation of organizers has been working steadily to become savvier and even more strategic over the past seven years, and have been joined by motivated younger leaders.”

As the Times report elaborates, “One of the reasons there have been protests in so many places in the United States is the backing of organizations like Black Lives Matter. While the group isn’t necessarily directing each protest, it provides materials, guidance and a framework for new activists.” Deva Woodly, a professor at the New School, told a Times reporter that, “those activists are taking to social media to quickly share protest details to a wide audience. . . . These figures would make the recent protests the largest movement in the country’s history.”

Melina Abdullah, of BLM’s Los Angeles chapter, told an interviewer that the demonstrations in that city had been strategically planned: “We built kind of an organizing strategy that said, build black community [to] disrupt white supremacy.” Their targets, she said, were the neighborhoods where “white affluent folks” lived. “That’s one of the reasons the marches and the protests were in Beverly Hills.”

A Los Angeles Times story emphasizes the central role that the BLM organization played, saying: “The unprecedented size and scope of recent rallies speaks to how Black Lives Matter has transformed from a small but passionate movement into a cultural and political phenomenon.” Weeks after Floyd was killed, BLM members were “continuing to channel their outrage and grief over his killing into a sustained mass campaign for profound social change. The group has political sway that would have seemed unimaginable just a few months ago.”

3. At The American Conservative, Fred Bauer criticizes the continuing concentration of “woke capital,” and how it will empower the Thought Police. From the article:

The bigness of corporate power, then, plays a central role in the dynamics of cancel culture. For instance, a key beat in some media organizations now is ferreting out voices to remove from various platforms. A distinctive ecosystem has formed. Some nonprofit or activist group (often backed by wealthy interests) compiles a list of deplorable voices or problematic statements. Media figures with influential perches then amplify this negative analysis, both by publicizing it and signal-boosting movements that agitate for “cancelation.” These pressure campaigns can target advertisers or corporate sponsors. They can target a person’s place of employment. They might call for various tech companies to suspend an individual’s account or censor some problematic material.

A concentration of power accelerates this ecosystem of cancelation. In a time when a few technology companies dominate social media (especially Google, Facebook, and Twitter), proponents of mass cancelation only need to win over a few institutional stakeholders. A handful of moderators can decide to purge a voice from those platforms or block a link.

This concentration of power goes far beyond social media. Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising; for instance, Google controlled 73 percent of the $55 billion search-ad market in 2019. This dominance gives these platforms a considerable ability to shape the fates of media organizations that depend upon advertising. And these conglomerates are willing to use this might. In June, for example, Google threatened The Federalist with demonetization because it objected to some of the remarks in the comments section of stories. (Disclosure: I have contributed to The Federalist in the past.) This threat caused The Federalist to remove (temporarily, at least) its comments section. More than a few have, of course, noted the irony of Google relying on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to avoid accountability for what people say on its platforms while also holding media companies accountable for what is said in the comments section of their platforms.

4. Hudson Institute’s John Lee warns about Red Chin’s massive “wolf warrior” diplomatic efforts that are heavy on the insults and threats. Case in point: Australia. From the article:

The Chinese approach against Australia is a predictable one. State-run media delivers the insults through fiery editorials, and ambassador Cheng Jingye issues economic threats — some of which have been carried out. And yet the government — under Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison — has not blinked.

It was therefore of great interest when the deputy ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining, addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday on the topic of China And Australia: Where To From Here?

The temperament on display was calm rather than combative. The problem was not what Wang said or his manner, but what he did not say. There were four themes around which the remarks were structured: the importance China attaches to respect, goodwill, fairness and a grand vision for the bilateral relationship. All worthy aspirations. But it was as if Wang assumed the broader national audience for which it was intended had fallen into a collective amnesia about what caused the frictions in the first place.

Indeed, every principle Wang raised could be easily turned against Beijing as evidence of insincerity and malfeasance. Consider the virtue of mutual respect, which Wang describes as following basic norms of sovereignty and non-interference in international affairs. When Canberra passed legislation and took other measures to restrict the activities of the United Front from interfering in and covertly influencing Australian institutions and decisions, Beijing responded with rage. Ditto goodwill, which Wang characterises as the need to resolve differences in an amicable manner. Yet, when the Morrison government proposed an investigation into the origins of a virus that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide and caused enormous economic and social destruction, China imposed restrictions on Australian barley exports and refused to accept calls to discuss the issue.

5. More PRC: At Quillette, Aaron Sarin studies the fiendish crimes of Mao-wannabe Xi Jinping. From the article:

Today, when a Uyghur man is taken from his home by the police, his wife can expect a new man to turn up on the doorstep within days. This will be a spy appointed by the government to monitor her behaviour. Invariably, the spy will be Han Chinese, and as part of his “monitoring” he will share her bed. The Communist Party calls this the “Pair Up and Become Family” program, and the eugenicist overtones are unmistakeable. Xi wants to dilute the Uyghur genes. He is unmoved by the human suffering his program entails — suffering perhaps akin to losing a husband in battle in the ancient world and then being taken as the killer’s concubine (the fate of Andromache in myth and scores of nameless women in reality). These women are being punished for the crime of having married the wrong person.

Under Xi, familial links are always proof of guilt. When the Uyghur academic Dr. Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life in prison for “terrorism” (he had criticised some of the Party’s policies), his family saw their property and assets confiscated, leaving them destitute.2 From a purely logical perspective, this Mosaic morality makes sense. Any serious threat to the wellbeing of our wichildren would make most of us think twice about engaging in dissident behaviour. So the majority of people stay quiet, and in the absence of opposition, Xi is able to focus on strengthening China. As China grows stronger, he achieves his ultimate aim: securing the Party’s position. All very logical, but the cost to the unfortunate family members never enters into the emperor’s equations.

Xi applies the same morality outside Xinjiang and across the nation, forever punishing the sons for the sins of the fathers. He appears to lack any sense of his own absurdity: even two-year-olds have been named on government blacklists, having inherited their parents’ guilt and also their parents’ debts. On other occasions children have been used as leverage. Civil rights lawyer Wang Yu was arrested in 2015 as part of the “709 Crackdown” — the forced disappearance of lawyers across China. Charged with “inciting subversion of state power” (the Party’s favourite catch-all crime), she refused to confess. But one day her interrogators came into the cell and showed her a photograph of her 16-year-old son, labelled “suspect.” The shock was so great that Wang fainted. When she came round she was more than willing to read a prepared confession for the television cameras.4 The journalist Gao Yu had a similar experience after she was taken into custody for leaking a Party document — her child was “threatened with unimaginable things.”

6. Yep, Even More PRC: At Gatestone Institute, Lawrence Kaplan profiles Red China’s “debt-trap” diplomacy, through the nefarious “Belt and Road Initiative,”  with poor nations. From the piece:

The BRI networks clearly intend to benefit China, either by stimulating an enormous increase in commerce, or, when debts cannot be repaid, by appropriating whatever assets China selects. China, as the world’s largest importer of oil, will be able to diversify its sources of petroleum as a consequence of several bilateral BRI deals. China most likely also hopes to secure political benefits through BRI arrangements. Countries participating in China’s BRI, and generally friendly to the US and its allies, might shy away from supporting the West’s national security concerns for fear of losing large Chinese investments in their local economies.

There is already plenty of evidence concerning some BRI participating states of muting criticism of China’s poor record on human rights. Many Islamic countries, for example, remain silent on China’s near-genocidal treatment of millions of Muslim Uyghurs in its northwestern province of Xinjiang. Some Muslim states have even praised China’s domestic policies toward Xinjiang’s ethnic Uyghurs. Not one Muslim-majority state voted to condemn treatment of the Uighurs in support of the West’s UN resolution to publicly sanction Beijing.

Critics of China’s BRI program point out that Chinese loan agreements lack transparency and that contracts sometimes serve China’s interests in a racketeering way, oblivious to local concerns. Sri Lanka, for instance, after having failed to meet its debt obligations to China, ceded the port of Hambantota to Beijing. Venezuela delivers oil to China instead of its worthless currency. Ecuador, in the first full year of Xi’s presidency, already was exporting 90% of its oil to China, perhaps even below the world market price. In addition, Ecuador cannot seem to prevent the rape of its marine life just on the edge of its sovereign maritime economic zone by hundreds of Chinese fishing boats near the Galapagos Islands. “They just pull up everything!” said a sea captain who asked not to be named.

7. The College Fix’s Sarah Imgrund reports on black law-school students demanding classroom monitors. Somewhere through the flames, Stalin is smiling. From the beginning of the piece:

The Black Law Students Association at the University of San Diego School of Law is calling for campus administrators to train and post diversity officers in classrooms to observe and report bias and other “disparaging” actions against students of color.

According to an open letter from the USD Black Law Students Association, these diversity officers would be charged with watching classrooms and reporting incidents or conduct they consider questionable or discriminatory.

“As Black law students we are privileged with the opportunity to pursue a legal education and seek membership to the legal profession, however, we are not immune to the oppression that is inextricably linked to our Blackness,” the group states in their six-page letter to USD law faculty and students.

In addition to monitoring duties, the diversity officers would meet annually with professors and deans to go over how they could better promote diversity in the school’s instruction, the letter states.

8. At Law & Liberty, Hans Eicholz exposes a massive pitfall of lefty-progressive historical revisionism. From the essay:

The assertion that slavery is at the core of our modern day economic and legal “system” partakes of this very particular understanding of the systemic nature of discourse. In earlier historical debates, the tensions in logic and practice between free exchange and compulsory labor was a problem requiring historical understanding. It is what prompted Eugene Genovese’s earlier Marxist interpretation of the essentially backward-looking ideology of the Southern Planter Class. Slavery represented not a capitalist, but a re-feudalized order of society.

However, with the realization in the mid-20th century that Marx’s revolution would not occur as a matter of historical necessity, modern day revolutionaries surrendered the claim to an objective structural materialism at work in history for the idea that whatever exists, it exists as a system of thought where all aspects of current conditions become evidence of intentionality on the part of those with power, however complicated or even contradictory such ideas might at first appear.

From such a perspective, ideas and beliefs are imposed and not mediated. And unlike earlier liberal pluralism for which thoughts were formed through processes of give and take, modern progressives have no interest per se in the interplay of ideas with the genuine messiness of authentic legal, political or economic contexts, where distinct individual experiences generate genuine differences of perspective and opinion.

Even classic Marxists, like Genovese, still held that the means of capitalist production were part of a stage in economic development and were not evil in themselves. With modern discourse theory, however, evil is left open to the subjectivity of the beholder whether he or she inclines to seeing systemic machinations of sexism, racism, environmentalism or any combination of the above. All that matters is the systemic reformation of the whole.

Baseballery

Might this have been the worst day of baseball — when two teams, each with over 100 losses, faced off? Twice! It happened on the last day of the 1923 season, a freezing Saturday afternoon in Boston, where the visiting and last-place Philadelphia Phillies — starting the day with a 50-102 record — played a doubleheader against the 52-100 Braves, who, if they dropped the twin bill, would end the season tied for last.

The first game, played (on October 6th, which is somewhat late for teams to still be playing regular-season games) before 1,000 shivering Boston fans, was a 14-inning battle won by the Braves when first baseman Stuffy McInnis (who deserves Hall-of-Fame consideration) tripled, driving in right fielder Al Nixon, which handed ace Jesse Barnes a complete-game walk-off win (Of note: Barnes had four hits and walked once). Philadelphia pitcher Jim Bishop, who faced only two batters in relief for starter Jimmy Ring, took the loss. The Braves’ triumph had virtue: It at least prevented the team from sharing last-place with the Phils.

With little sun left that October afternoon, the teams agreed that the twinbill’s second game would be five innings. And so it was. The contest took only 45 minutes to play. Braves rookie southpaw Joe Batchelder, in the only start of his meager 11-game career, earned the victory, prevailing 4-1 over Lefty Weinert, who ended the season with a 4-17 record.

There was a remarkable event in the abbreviated game. The Phillies initiated a comeback rally in the fourth, and with two on and none out, the solid-hitting first baseman Walter Holke (he batted .311 for the season) smacked a line-drive right at Braves shortstop Ernie Padgett, who stepped on second to double up Cotton Tierney, and then tagged out the stunned Cliff Lee to record an unassisted triple play. A few outs later, the season was over. Not with a bang, but it wasn’t a whimper either. Maybe. . . a bimper?

Oh yes: There was a similar day of bad baseball, played over a decade earlier. But we’ll have to ruminate about it in a future Baseballery.

A Dios

Would you find time to offer a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul of Wick Allison, aforementioned? And that the Father Almighty gives his family comfort? There is another request: A dear NR friend now undergoes a serious struggle with cancer. Beatable, but a battle that will be helped by Divine Mercy. Ask and you shall receive, so says the Good Book, so . . . will you ask for that Holy Mercy for this wonderful lady? If you need a name, use Nellie — God has the Enigma to decipher. We are truly appreciative for those of you who can make it to the bottom of this weekly beast, and take to heart these pleas for spiritual