The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Alienable Rights

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Once upon a time in the City of Brotherly Love, great men wrote on parchment a testimony to liberty and the natural state of those living in America — and indeed of all peoples living in all places. These men declared (after all, it was a Declaration) that there was a Creator, and that He had endowed men with certain unalienable rights. The list was not exhaustive, but it noted that among these were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What a mockery these past ten days have made of this self-evident truth, now all the more despised by, and under attack by, those who yearn for power and control, those intoxicated by the exquisite thrill that comes to some from punishing and suppressing and crushing others, those born to raise Hell and to shred the Philadelphia Story.

It may only be January, but totalitarian larvae are emerging.

This missive’s mission is to provide links aplenty. Your Humble Correspondent promises the usual plethora (they follow below) but begs indulgence to inform you that he is currently reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, and recommends it to all as both a history lesson and as a survey of the Leftist soul (and, indeed, into the souls of all humans).

A further prolegomena to this missive: Down Under, in that place the Chinese Communist Party politburocrats disdain as gum on its national shoe, toils an old pal, the wise, Sydney-relocated journalist, James Morrow. From afar he observes in the Daily Telegraph what many a pontificator in our Land of Diminishing Rights can’t, don’t, or won’t: that America’s Trump-detesting Big Tech giants have commenced a PRC-style crackdown that will, at a minimum, guarantee conservatives one right — the one to remain silent. From James’s latest column:

Because what Big Tech, much of the media, and other large corporations that are closely allied with the Left are doing goes far beyond Democrats’ attempt to run a second impeachment case against Trump, just days before he leaves office or even after he leaves.

Instead, they are now proposing — indeed what is already underway — is a purge that seeks to un-person 75 million Trump voters while establishing a Chinese style Social Credit System run not by governments but “woke” corporations happy to toe the line.

Just as in China, where your every social media move is monitored for wrongthink, Facebook and Twitter have been kicking off thousands of users — not just Donald Trump — in America and Australia for, apparently, nothing more than their politics.

American libertarian Ron Paul has had his Facebook page locked, apparent revenge for a column criticising Big Tech’s censorship regimes, while plenty of Australian social media users on the Right have also found themselves locked out in recent days.

Of course, “violating community standards” is the way they put it, which brings up the questions, which community?

Whose standards?

Don’t think you can go somewhere else, either.

One more worthy distraction, if you will: The dire situation has brought Thomas Sowell out of column retirement. He penned Is Truth Irrelevant? this week. Here is a slice of his wisdom:

Unfortunately, too many American educational institutions — from elementary schools to universities — have become indoctrination centers. The riots that swept across the country last year are fruits of that indoctrination and the utter disregard for other people’s rights that accompanied those riots.

At the heart of that indoctrination is a sense of grievance and victimhood when others have better outcomes — which are automatically called “privileges” and never called “achievements,” regardless of what the actual facts are.

Facts don’t matter in such issues, any more than facts mattered when smearing Lincoln.

Any “under-representation” of any group in any endeavor can be taken as evidence or proof of discriminatory bias. But those who argue this way cannot show us any society — anywhere in the world, or at any time during thousands of years of recorded history — that had all groups represented proportionally in all endeavors.

You will find a copy of our Declaration of Independence here. Do read it and maybe even download it from the National Archives website. Some day, you may wish you had.

On now to the Weekend Jolt.

JUST THE LINKS MAM

A Copious Collection of Keen Conservatism

Victor Davis Hanson: Assault on the Capitol Has Let Loose the Electronic Octopus

David Harsanyi: Media and Capitol Riots: Dishonesty Favoring the Left

More Harsanyi: Twitter and Parler Trump Bans: Free Speech Still Harmed

Robert Maranto: Why Republicans Distrust the Media

Madeleine Kearns: The Rise of the Religious Left

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Do Smartphones Create Distemper and Make Our Politics Insane?

Jimmy Quinn: The Ridiculous Ruckus over State Department’s Taiwan Regulations

George Terwilliger: Election Integrity: Mailed Ballots Should Be Verified More Rigorously

Rich Lowry: Twitter Deranged American Politics

Frederick M. Hess: Betsy Devos and the Poisonous Politics of Malice

Fred Bauer: The Senate Tempers America’s Partisan Passions and Conflicts

Conrad Black: Donald Trump’s Accomplishments Could Not Overcome Political Opponents

Mark Mills: Peter Huber, R.I.P.

Brian Allen: A Great Curator Works Wonders at the North Carolina Museum of Art

More Allen: Visiting the Alonso Berruguete Show at Meadows Museum in Dallas

Editorials

An Impeachable Offense

Capital Matters

Kevin Hassett warns: The End of Trump Presidency Creates Economic Uncertainty

Andrew Stuttaford finds a Green movement clad in manacles: Sustainable Industry Sustained by Forced Labor?

John H. Cochrane: Free Market Beats Central Planning, Even for COVID-19 Tests and Vaccines

David Goldman says the agent is in your hand: Beijing’s Plan to Take Over the Global Economy

James Broughel and Dustin Chambers connect the deadly dots: How Joe Biden Can Reduce the Mortality Costs of Federal Regulations

Lights. Camera. Review!

Armond White says we watched the predictor of Big-Tech fascism: The Unheeded Threat of The Social Network

Kyle Smith remembers a director who laid off the ideology: Michael Apted, Non-Visionary Filmmaker, R.I.P.

More Armond: He catches a rip-off: Nomadland Transforms America into Alienation Nation

AND NOW, WE FLEX OUR BICEPS AND EXCERPTS

Count ’Em — 15 Examples of the Wisest Wisdom on the Web

1. Victor Davis Hanson surveys the Big Tech / Elite unleashing of its peculiar morality upon the unwashed. From the piece:

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri had his upcoming book — a call to clamp down on Big Tech monopolies — abruptly canceled by publisher Simon & Schuster. Hawley’s crime was apparently his quixotic persistence in questioning the authenticity of the 2020 election.

What are the new standards that now get a book or a social-media account canceled?

After all, the Vicky Osterweil book In Defense of Looting, a justification for theft and property destruction, came out last summer amid the Antifa and Black Lives Matter unrest. The author was even featured on National Public Radio in a largely sympathetic interview.

Is Madonna banned from social media? Shortly after the 2017 inauguration, she voiced a desire to blow up the White House with the Trump family in it.

Is AK-47-toting rapper Raz Simone banned from social media? He took over a swath of downtown Seattle last June and declared it an autonomous zone. For weeks, his armed guards reigned supreme without worry of police. There were at least four shootings and two deaths in or around Simone’s kingdom. He was neither prosecuted nor deplatformed from social media. The lyrics of his song “Shoot at Everyone” are full of racial slurs, stereotypes, and allusions to violence. The song is posted on YouTube, and Simone still enjoys a large social-media presence.

2. David Harsanyi plows into the MSM “sedition” smear, hoisted by CNN’s Jake Tapper. From the piece:

Tapper’s absurd position reminds me of MAGA fans who passionately claim that impeachment — a mechanism in the Constitution — is somehow unpatriotic. Donald Trump’s post-election behavior was deeply irresponsible, conspiratorial, unpresidential, and incited — not in the legal sense, but in the moral one — a lot of the anger we saw last Wednesday. Congress has every right to remove him. And Mast has every right to vote “no.” If his constituents don’t like it, they can find someone else to represent them. That’s democracy.

Or is it only “democracy” if lawmakers vote in a way Jake Tapper approves?

I’d say the Capitol riot has given license to liberals to smear Republicans as traitors, but Democrats have been calling them KGB foot soldiers since 2016. In a discussion with CNN personality Chris Cuomo, Tapper’s colleague Don Lemon said that the 75 million or so Americans who voted for Trump made common cause with the Klan and rioters. Not long ago, Cuomo was comparing Antifa to the GIs at Normandy on D-Day and justifying violent leftist political riots. Does Cuomo really believe the firebombing of federal buildings or the earlier murder of five police officers by a BLM activist were just “outbursts“? Fordham Law doesn’t make them like they used to.

3. More Harsanyi, who looks into the Twitter bans and Parler kneecapping and concludes that free speech is not just a right From the piece:

In the past few days, some of the nation’s most powerful corporations have engaged in a concerted effort, at the behest of a major political party, to limit the speech of millions of Americans who engaged in wrongthink. First, Twitter permanently banned the sitting president. As is its right. And when millions of his fans left and bolstered Parler, a different platform, Apple, Google, and Amazon went ahead and shut it down as well.

But if you say that targeted deplatforming, though not Stalinist, is troubling, the same people who want to compel everyone to buy state-mandated health insurance, who want to dictate how corporations compensate their employees, who want to force nuns to buy abortifacients, and who want to destroy the lives of bakers and florists who run businesses according to long-held religious beliefs will vigorously defend the value of free-association rights that allow corporations to act this way. So I’m pretty skeptical that most of these people are genuine champions of individual market choices, and aren’t just super excited about silencing people.

The violent rioting at Capitol Hill last Wednesday by a few hundred seditious MAGA yahoos spurred on by the president — sometimes referred to as a “coup,” as if the Viking Helmet Dude had nearly grabbed dictatorial powers — has given lots of people the pretext to embrace censorship, as they eagerly, and quite cynically, assign collective guilt.

Is “censorship” the right word? I’m not sure. I am sure that the inclination to shut people up is an illiberal one. Just as the defense of speech is a liberal virtue, whether the right is codified in law or not. Once dominant corporate and cultural elites — in this case, a group of Big Tech CEOs and employees who are highly susceptible to political pressure — collude to decide how people are allowed to interact, they engage, functionally, in censorship. And once we normalize the idea that corporations have an extrajudicial duty to limit speech in the name of “safety” — a rationalization as old as censorship itself — the spirit of the First Amendment is being corroded. The real thing is soon to follow.

4. Robert Maranto explains why Republicans distrust the MSM. From the article:

Lopsided coverage reflects two basic realities about journalism. First, as the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi points out, journalists at outlets from the New York Times to Intercept are now routinely shunned or even fired for reporting stories that offend the Left. So who would dare provide balance here?

Second, as documented by political scientist Tim Groseclose, American journalists lean left, which affects what they choose to report, which questions they ask, and which they choose not to ask. Leftist intellectuals such as Kendi are on their speed dials, while comparable centrist voices such as Wilfred Reilly or Roland Fryer are rarely sought. Journalists are only human. On law enforcement, reporters must try to make sense of a world they do not know, so inevitably their biases shape what they cover.

Over the long term, this leftist tilt has discredited much of the intellectual class to the point that, even where its voices are objectively right, as regarding Trump’s unsuitability for office or the generally accurate 2020 vote count, many fellow citizens simply do not believe it.

5. Madeleine Kearns finds the religious Left politically ascendant. From the article:

Religious or not, social justice is a hot commodity in the current climate. And Warnock could not have better credentials. He is the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., the former congregation of Martin Luther King Jr. As for his personal story, he grew up in a housing project in Savannah and his mother worked as cotton picker. Of course, he believes “unequivocally in a woman’s right to choose,” and is “a proud ally of LGBTQ+ rights.” But while these positions might ordinarily be off-putting to Christian voters, he has a useful decoy, handed to him on a silver platter by the Republican Party — self-identified Christian nationalists.

In his first sermon upon being elected senator, Warnock spoke of “the ugly side” of the “great and grand American story,” and recalled how the “crude and the angry and the disrespectful and the violent break their way into the People’s House, some carrying Confederate flags, signs and symbols of an old world order passing away.” Continuing the Biblical imagery, he said: “You cut the head off a snake, it shakes and moves violently, not because it is living but because it is dying.”

It would be easy to dismiss this hyperbolic oratory as mere political theater, but consider the numbers. Warnock won Georgia; so did Biden. What does that say?

6. Please read this on your hand-held device: Michael Brendan Dougherty ventures a conspiracy theory. From the article:

Let me also grant that the polarization of our politics along cultural lines is leading people to be scared for perfectly rational reasons. In the last twelve months, we’ve seen the biggest wave of riotous violence and destruction in half a century, we’ve seen a massive spike in violent crime, we’ve seen a recession that has had direct negative effects for many people and has introduced massive uncertainty about the livelihoods of many more, and now we’ve seen a riot in the Capitol building.

The novel substance in our environment is a “smartphone,” and I think it’s literally inducing people to a kind of low-level panic, and paranoia, especially in conjunction with social media.

We tend to think of the danger of social media as a disembodied one, because modern people tend to think of themselves as minds that control a body, rather than an embodied person. So the “danger” of social media is framed as ideas acting upon ideas. Maybe exposure to radical ideas slowly erodes the grip of reasonable and moderate ones. Surely, it seems something like that happens. But what I mean is more physical. And it might sound simple-minded. But hear me out. The smartphone itself is physically causing us to be stressed out, emotionally dysregulated, anxious, and fearful. It therefore primes us for radicalism.

7. Jimmy Quinn reports on the outraged liberal reaction to Mike Pompeo’s decision to reduce onerous regulation on Taiwan: From the article:

But the change in the Taiwan guidelines is not a last-minute effort to constrain Biden or further destabilize the transition of power. In fact, although it’s a positive step for U.S.–Taiwan ties that’s been hailed by Taipei, it does not amount to an earthshaking policy change at all.

“We have been working on revised contact guidance for some time now,” a U.S. official told National Review on Monday, denying that there were political motivations behind the timing of the change. “Sometimes it just takes a while to get these things over the finish line.” The official added that there had been “no change to our overall One-China Policy.”

In short, while some people sensationalized the decision, it was the culmination of a process that began long before the November election, and was undertaken on its merits rather than on the basis of domestic political concerns.

Moreover, it treats Taiwan — a COVID-era beacon of hope that’s been unjustly isolated on the international stage by Beijing — with the respect that it deserves. (There’s a good reason that official Taiwanese reaction was so positive, with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu calling the change a “big thing” and saying that “Taiwan–U.S. relations have been elevated to a global partnership.”)

8. George Terwilliger makes the case for fighting for election integrity. From the analysis:

The only way to prevent invalid mailed ballots from being accepted and counted is to screen them out on the front end of the election process. That is exactly where current procedures are wanting. No one in their right mind can conclude that a clerk’s fleeting comparison of signatures on a computer screen, if done at all, is the equivalent of checking identification in person at the polls. As a result, elections featuring large numbers of mailed ballots are highly susceptible to election-fraud allegations (and, indeed, to fraudulent practices). Leaving this as the status quo will surely produce more political exploitation of public doubt about election integrity, which carries with it the very real potential for more mob violence.

How committed can we be to election integrity when in most places it takes more identification to buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer than it does to vote? With so much now in question about the integrity of the election process, it is hard to fathom a principled reason for opposition to laws designed to ensure election integrity, such as requiring proof of identity to vote. Only 36 states require such proof, and many of those do not require a photo ID. Voter-identification opponents have time and again fought legislation to put such laws into place and filed suits challenging voter-ID requirements that do get enacted.

Political activists can exploit these shortcomings. In Georgia, for example, Democrats successfully sued to lower the standard of review of mailed ballots. Inexplicably, the state’s Republican secretary of state went along with their proposal to allow just one person to match signatures and accept mailed ballots, but to require a majority of a three-person review panel to reject such a ballot. Even then, a cure process for rejected mailed ballots requires outreach to the voter to seek to correct any balloting error. Given a choice between simply accepting a signature, on one hand, and on the other, going through a bureaucratic maze of procedure to reject it, what should one expect the default to be? That change was put in place for the 2020 election and, unsurprisingly, rejection rates for mailed ballots fell precipitously statewide compared with 2016. Did that change the outcome of the election? We will never know, and that is the problem.

9. Rich Lowry attacks Twitter for deranging our politics. From the column:

If Trump was the foremost offender, Twitter hasn’t done us any favors in this period of our national life. It has fed moral panics and enabled cancellation mobs. It has exposed journalists who once made a pretense of objectivity as rank partisans. It has enticed once-serious people into crowd-pleasing clownishness. It has made politicians dumber and cruder. It has distorted political reality for people across the spectrum.

10. Betsy DeVos hung in as Secretary of Education through four years of malicious attacks by the Left. Frederick Hess reviews the ugliness. From the assessment:

Little-known candidates for secretary of education have typically been accorded a genial reception, a norm that has much to recommend it. President-elect Biden’s selection, Miguel Cardona, has (quite appropriately) received respectful coverage. Indeed, it appears he’ll be given every chance to demonstrate his mettle. That was equally true of predecessors Margaret Spellings, Arne Duncan, and John King.

It’s true that DeVos was an outside-the-box choice and (at least for those who imagine the U.S. Department of Education to be the property of the education establishment) an “outsider.” But she had also been board chair for the Alliance for School Choice, head of All Children Matter, a board member for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, and a Republican National committeewoman. Heck, she was labeled a “pretty mainstream pick” by Democratic education heavyweight Andy Rotherham, a former special assistant in the Clinton White House.

Nevertheless, DeVos was consistently held to arbitrary double standards. Consider this: Should Miguel Cardona be held responsible for the abysmal performance of Connecticut’s urban schools? For any reasonable observer, the answer would be a resounding “no.” Cardona has only been directing Connecticut’s education bureaucracy for a little over a year, and before that he was a junior administrator in a modest school system. It would be ludicrous to fault him for the longtime struggles of New Haven or Hartford. Yet, while DeVos had never held a position of educational authority in Detroit or Michigan, she was routinely blamed by critics for the troubled plight of Detroit’s schools.

11. Fred Bauer reminds us of the Senate’s unwritten duty, to be the “cooling saucer” of hot politics. From the piece:

For another, senators tend to represent more diverse electorates than representatives. Many House districts have a strong partisan lean, which makes the demands of their constituents more uniform. Senators represent whole states, and while some states tilt toward one party, states in general contain a broader array of political interests and perspectives than House districts. This electoral diversity creates certain incentives for senators to limit the appearance of scorched-earth political warfare, whereas representatives often face the opposite pressure: Particularly in districts gerrymandered to heavily favor one party, they live in constant fear of being primaried by their own parties’ hard-liners.

And finally, there is the institution of the Senate itself. The individual powers and privileges of each senator under the body’s standing rules (including, but not limited to, the rights to unlimited debate and to offer amendments) make for a chamber that operates on consensus to a much greater degree than the House. In most circumstances, a disciplined partisan majority can block legislative action in the Senate, but actually taking legislative action requires forging alliances across factions. Having become accustomed to that kind of cooperative give-and-take, longer-serving senators might be more averse to the existential partisan conflict involved in trying to nullify a presidential election.

(Indeed, by and large, objections to counting the electoral votes last week came from those senators least habituated to the chamber’s procedural norms. Only one of the eight Senate Republicans who voted to sustain objections to the electoral votes of Arizona and/or Pennsylvania has served in the Senate for more than one term: Ted Cruz. Three of the eight had just been elected in 2020: Tommy Tuberville, Roger Marshall, and Cindy Lummis.)

12. Conrad Black looks at the accomplishments of Donald Trump and the hypocrisies of 2020. From the piece:

But the Democrats, facing a lost election due to the full-employment, no-inflation, robust-lower-income-growth economy that President Trump’s policies created, generated panic and hysteria through their parrot media. Enough of the population was screaming for an economic shutdown to make it happen. Many millions were thrown out of work, hundreds of thousands of small businesses failed, and terrible hardship was inflicted on the country, along with an unbearable strain on the Treasury and the money supply and the deficit. This was all done to reduce the chances of mortality of the 1 percent of the population that was vulnerable to the coronavirus. Their average age was 78, the life expectancy of male Americans. The other 99 percent were cured and were then immune at least until the distribution of a vaccine, which, thanks to Trump’s executive talents and superhuman energy, has been produced one and a half to two years ahead of what the scientists’ advice that we were otherwise following had predicted. The Western world’s response to the coronavirus was insane.

The most insane aspect of the pandemic was that it is clear that China knew in January the dangers of the coronavirus; that it suborned the World Health Organization, largely financed by the United States, into assisting it in disguising the effects of the coronavirus; and that it clamped down on it within China as only a totalitarian government can do, but deliberately exported the virus to the rest of the world. This technically is biological warfare, a Pearl Harbor or 9/11, and a replication of those assaults on America that has proved 100 times more costly in American lives than either of those acts of war. Yet the international commission of investigation is being stonewalled by the Chinese and no one is calling them out for what they did, except to some extent President Trump. He was denounced by Joe Biden for xenophobia when he closed off direct flights from China on January 31, and was accused by a reporter at a press conference at the time for referring to the “China flu.” Trump at least sensed what was happening and reopened the economy as quickly as he could, and he did supercharge the quest for a vaccine. He was rewarded for his trouble by widespread comment that if the vaccine was developed by him, it couldn’t be trusted and shouldn’t be taken.

13. Mark Mills remembers the late Peter Huber. From the obituary:

Peter was a pioneer in tort reform, focusing on what he called “junk science,” a phrase we cooked up in one of our earliest brainstorm sessions. (I’ll credit him with that locution, though if he were still with us, his memory of that discussion would be far clearer and, well, we’d argue about it and the debate would zig and zag, and lead to other interesting insights, and new locutions.) He wrote four books on tort reform: Liability (1988), The Liability Maze (1991), Galileo’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom (1993), and Judging Science (1999). Then there were his pivotal insights into the technical and legal domains to unleash telecom competition: The Geodesic Network (1987), The Geodesic Network II (1993), Federal Telecommunications Law (1992), Federal Broadband Law (1995), and Law and Disorder in Cyberspace: Abolish the FCC and Let Common Law Rule the Telecoms (1997).

Peter’s writing about environmental issues started back in his clerkship days. (That was the subject of an essay that sparked our first meeting some four decades ago.) His book and manifesto on that topic, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (2000), was a scalpel-like dissection of the business of environmentalism while simultaneously, vigorously supporting the movement’s true goals. The book Peter and I co-authored, The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy (2005), has stood the test of time, published as it was contemporaneously with peak hype over peak oil.

It was in these City Journal pages some 14 years ago that Peter wrote “Germs and the City,” about the historical, regulatory, and scientific architecture of pandemics. In that essay he warned that “one way or another, germs will contrive to horrify us again, in some very nasty way. A society’s only real defense is to stay horrified, well ahead of the curve.” And he correctly predicted that a cure, a vaccine, would come much faster using the “codes” in both genetic and computational machines, hence the title of the last book in his canon, The Cure in the Code: How 20th-Century Law Is Undermining 21st Century Medicine (2013).

14. Brian Allen visits the North Carolina Museum of Art and likes what he sees. From the beginning of the review:

Last week, keeping my pledge to write about art between the two coasts, I swung not cowboy-but road-trip-style from Houston to Dallas, Fort Worth, Tulsa, and Bentonville in Arkansas. In the next few weeks, I’ll write about some new museum architecture, Rothko, Miro, Twombly, Homer, Remington, Nefertiti, Native American art, and the thrilling, inspirational Crystal Bridges Museum. My hors d’oeuvre was Saturday’s story about the Berruguete exhibition at the Meadows Museum in Dallas. The show is an essential prequel to Spanish aesthetics from El Greco to Ribera.

I have one more story about my North Carolina tour in late October, during which I spent an afternoon at the very nice North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh (NCMA). It’s a rare bird in that the museum is owned and run by the North Carolina state government. It’s not unique. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the property of the Commonwealth. San Francisco has a superb city-owned museum system, and, blessedly, it’s not run by nuts. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is indeed owned by the county government.

Different systems of governance make for different trajectories, and that helps our museum system stay fresh and inventive. The museum in Raleigh has a fine collection and admirable history driven by devoted, visionary volunteers, smart leadership, and public officials with taste and aspirations far above the brutish norm for such people.

15. And then Brian visits the Meadows Museum in Dallas, and sees wood worth looking at. From the review:

It’s a beautiful show visually and, like the best museum exhibitions, interprets complex and new ideas with cogency and without fear. Many museums seem anxious when they tackle unusual or unfamiliar subjects, and Spanish art often seems strange, so they dilute content until it’s flavorless and spoon it to visitors as if they were babies. The Meadows isn’t afraid of hard or big ideas. Rather, it has the skill to immerse us in these ideas so we leave informed and exhilarated rather than bewildered.

Berruguete is best known in Spain as a sculptor working in the medium of painted wood and as a designer of huge, multi-part, multi-figure altarpieces, or retablos. His figures, culture critic Cristóbal de Villalón wrote in 1539, “seem on the brink of speaking, as though Nature had given them a soul.” This was the revolution the artist created. A single sculpture, The Sacrifice of Isaac, from between 1526 and 1533, in the Meadows show, is Berruguete in top form. It was part of a retablo that Berruguete did for a Benedictine monastery. The creature called a “retablo” is the Spanish altarpiece. More on this unusual, sometimes scary thing later.

The figures, about four feet tall, show Berruguete’s emotional style. Abraham stands, tense and unstable, his mouth open in anguish. We’re not sure if he’s struck dumb or wailing or beseeching God either to order him to stop or to explain why he’s meant to kill his son. Isaac crouches in terror. Drapery, the son’s hair, and the father’s hair and long beard quiver. The painted surface evokes sweat, and the gilding sparkles. The figures have volume and arms and legs that look elastic.

Editorials

1. We find he President’s actions related to the Capitol Building attacks unconscionable. From the editorial:

House speaker Nancy Pelosi is nonetheless proceeding with an immediate vote to impeach today. This might make sense if Trump’s term could plausibly be ended early. Since it can’t, Pelosi is short-circuiting every established procedure around impeachment — fact-finding, hearings, a report — for no good reason. She’s also advancing a flawed article that will provide Trump’s defenders with easy rejoinders. The use of the word “incitement” invites legalistic objections, and it’s not necessary to make the debatable claim that Trump encouraged and foresaw the lawlessness to capture what was so wrong about what he did.

Still, this impeachment is different from the first time around. Some Republicans in the House, most notably the No. 3 Republican, the impressive Liz Cheney, are supporting it. According to press reports, Mitch McConnell is pleased at the prospect of impeachment. If he were to come out in favor of conviction, it’d be a seismic event that would potentially bring a Senate conviction within reach.

But it remains more likely that the Senate won’t convict. This means that Trump would not be disqualified from holding federal office again, one of the main rationales for pursuing a post-presidency impeachment, and he would be able to claim victory after another Senate trial ending in acquittal.

Capital Matters

1. Ace economist Kevin Hassett warns that the end of the Trump presidency, and the monkey wrench that the reactions have thrown into market predictors, might pose unsettling economic outcomes. From the analysis:

[W]e have entered a world, as we did back in the 1970s, when economist Frank Knight’s theories suddenly find themselves front and center — a world where uncertainty rather than risk dominates. In his 1921 book Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit, Knight argued that “risk is present when future events occur with measurable probability, uncertainty is present when the likelihood of future events is indefinite or incalculable.” Since the publication of Knight’s great work, economists have developed sophisticated models that distinguish between risk and uncertainty, and when uncertainty is high, the smooth functioning of markets can collapse.

Where does the collapse come from? Uncertainty can generate widespread inaction. Suppose you are trading orange juice and have carefully modeled the impact of weather on juice production and prices. If you see a warm, wet growing season, you know oranges will be bountiful and prices will drop. But suppose a rumor spreads that an asteroid might hit Florida, but nobody knows what the odds are. Would you be willing to bet all your money on the price of orange juice a few months from now, or might you take your chips off the table?  The latter seems more likely.

Can we reenter a normal world where the models that set out the range of possible events and assign reasonable probabilities to them can again be relied upon? Or (as occurred prior to the storming of the Capitol) are political leaders going to put kindling on fires that risk leading to a conflagration? In the former scenario, with vaccines on the horizon and stimulus in place, there is much to be optimistic about. In the latter scenario, risk aversion could skyrocket as Americans peer warily at one another and worry about what’s next. If that occurs, the trip out of the hole we have dug will take years.

2. Andrew Stuttaford relays reports on how the solar-panel industry finds its energy in ChiCom forced labor. From the beginning of the post:

“Sustainability” has become a mantra of “stakeholder capitalism,” an expression of corporatism that has been around for longer than often realized but is clearly now having a moment. Well, more than a moment: Its new ascendancy is not going to pass any time soon.

Companies now tell anyone who is willing to listen about their plans to operate in a sustainable manner. Others, better still, like to boast of how their products will be assisting in the fight against climate change or otherwise are helping the planet “heal,” a positioning that makes them the darlings of “socially responsible” investors, as well as attractive plays for investors who aren’t too bothered by the environment but like the look of a bandwagon, especially when it is being pushed along by government, regulators, and institutions wanting to green their portfolios.

It’s a commonplace that not all such investments are quite as ecologically friendly as they might at first seem, and nor are they as virtuous.

3. John Cochrane tells us what every conservative should suspect: That when it comes to COVID-19 tests and vaccines, the free market is beating Big Brother. From the piece:

Private companies would have developed tests quickly and would have worked to make them faster, better, and cheaper. Why? To make money! Lots of people, businesses, schools, and universities are willing to pay for good, fast testing. Medical companies, knowing they could make a lot of money so long as they beat the competition, would have raced to develop and sell tests. We would have had $5 or less at-home paper-strip tests by late spring. And that would have enabled much of the economy to reopen.

Why does the FDA forbid businesses from telling you what’s inside your own body? Unlike a drug, a test result cannot harm you. Sure, the test might not be perfect, but it would be a lot better than relying on thermometers. Even if you catch only half of the sick people, you can cut the virus’s reproduction rate in half and end its spread. Sure, companies and the FDA should evaluate tests and disclose their false-positive and negative rates. But why forbid companies to make and sell us tests?

Would it be perfect? No. People might ignore positive results and go out anyway. People might not take tests. But did the government do better than the market would have done? Not by a long shot. “The market is not perfect” does not mean “the government is better”!

The first two vaccines were invented in a weekend in January. Then we waited an agonizing 11 months for the drug companies to conduct clinical trials on a small number of volunteers, and for the FDA to grant emergency-use authorizations. Yes, this is the emergency fast track. Approval normally takes years.

In a free market, as soon as the drug is safe, everybody becomes part of the clinical trial. If you want an untested drug, and understand the risks, we won’t put you and the drug company in jail for trying it. We gain experience much more quickly with what works and what doesn’t. In a free market, this pandemic would have been over by midsummer. Yes, some people might have been hurt by bad vaccines. Others might have caught COVID-19 thanks to ineffective vaccines. But the hundreds of thousands who died from COVID-19 would be alive, and so would the economy. Should 200,000 die and many millions lose jobs and businesses to save 100?

4. Excerpting David Goldman’s new book, You Will Be Assimilated: China’s Plan to Sino-Form the World, we find the PRC is intent on controlling our lives and bending our wills. From the piece:

Let’s invent a genre-bending script for a new James Bond movie, with a sci-fi angle. A global corporation turns all the world’s smartphones into data collectors in every aspect of human existence. It starts with a health-care app that tests toddlers for congenital eye disease and uploads the data to the Cloud, and soon adds remote testing for blood chemistry, metabolism, and lung function. It adds an environmental app that listens to bird calls to check the stability of avian populations. It allows you to pay for any sort of purchase with a tap of your phone, and transmits every purchase record to the Cloud in real time. It analyzes retail payments and business supply chains, urban traffic patterns, social-media posts, stock-market movements, currency fluctuations, crop yields — every detail of everyday life. This gigantic global brain maintains a profile of every country in the world, with broadband coverage, download speeds, cost of service, physical infrastructure, and smartphone penetration. It plans to assimilate most of the whole world’s seven billion people into its web.

This deluge of data is transmitted to servers through broadband connections at hundreds of times today’s speeds, and analyzed by a gigantic array of high-speed servers designed to detect the significance of minuscule patterns in the data. The global corporation provides the smartphones, the apps, the sensors, the broadband, the servers, and the artificial-intelligence software to mine the data. It links its servers to industrial robots that learn to create their own assembly lines, to shipping terminals, to air-freight fleets that move goods, and to millions of driverless cars and trucks that ferry workers and goods to jobs, stores, and factories. The broadband networks track the location, spending habits, and online posts of every person on the planet, and high-definition cameras installed at hundred-yard intervals verify that the smartphone under surveillance is being carried by its registered owner. Billions of medical records are matched to billions of genetic profiles, while computers use machine learning to identify genetic flaws and invent new pharmaceuticals.

Do you think we could sell it to Hollywood? The movie moguls would advise us not to quit our day jobs. There’s no James Bond villain to boo at — just a vast, persistent, patient, and relentless intelligence that absorbs the people of the world into a network too incredible for moviegoers to imagine.

But we’re not talking about science fiction. Everything I described in our film script is happening now, or scheduled to happen within the next ten or 20 years. China has a plan to assimilate most of the world’s population into a virtual empire dominated by its telecommunications, computation, manufacturing, and logistics. You can read all about it on Huawei’s English-language website, and hear it streamed in the main presentations at Huawei’s Connect 2019 mega-conference in Shanghai. There are no secrets here. China is proud of what it has accomplished at home and what it proposes to accomplish globally.

5. James Broughel and Dustin Chambers believe Joe Biden has the power (but what about the will?) to stop deadly federal regulations in their tracks. From the article:

Examples of life-threatening policies are more common than you may think. Consider fuel-efficiency regulations, which can increase mortality for several reasons. First, auto companies predictably respond to these rules by making some cars lighter. A lighter vehicle can go farther on the same tank of gas, but is also far more dangerous in the event of a crash.

Second, research also finds that people respond to having a more fuel-efficient car by driving more miles in what is known as the “rebound effect.” In addition to offsetting some of the environmental benefits of fuel-economy standards, this effect also offsets some of the health benefits of reduced air pollution. Indeed, because driving is one of the deadliest activities people engage in on a routine basis, when people drive more miles, some fatalities occur that would not have otherwise.

The Trump administration took the rare step of acknowledging some of these unintended consequences when it finalized new fuel-economy standards last year. While some may disagree with the administration’s exact numbers, few would argue that consideration of such impacts is not a worthwhile exercise when there is hard evidence to back it up.

In fact, economists have long had tools to do just that. Economists and risk analysts long ago developed models for estimating fatalities caused by government-mandated expenditures. As it turns out, most regulations can be expected to increase risk along some dimensions. When resources are spent in one area, they naturally incur an opportunity cost (i.e., the resources aren’t spent in some other area, such as on health and safety).

In a new Mercatus Center research paper, we find that binding federal regulations are associated with higher levels of mortality across the 50 states. Using a novel dataset of federal regulations from the Mercatus Center and combining it with an index of mortality across the states, we find an effect that is economically and statistically significant and stands up to a variety of different modeling assumptions.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Kyle Smith pays tribute to the late movie director, Michael Apted. From the piece:

What is the opposite of a visionary filmmaker? Perhaps it’s a curious one — a director who is interested in learning rather than imposing his pre-decided views on the material. In his most notable project — a landmark in cinema — he demonstrated that fidelity to the nature of the material can steer a filmmaker in surprising directions. The Up series is a collection of films that tracks a selected group of British children starting at age seven, checking in on them with a new film every seven years thereafter. Apted was a researcher on the first installment, Seven Up! (1964), and then directed every subsequent episode at seven-year intervals through 63 Up (2019). The aims of the project were clear from the opening moments: By casting a cross-section of Britons from different classes, the series of TV productions set out to obtain documentary proof of class determinism. The firmly held notion among progressives of the day was that the British class system had built tall and unbreachable walls, and that these barriers trapped people in place. As Apted put it, “The class system needed a kick up the backside.” Reality turned out to be much more complicated than Apted expected, though, and instead of massaging his material to fit the predetermined narrative — the editor of a documentary can depict more or less any reality he chooses — he simply stood aside and let the evidence prove him wrong.

Contra its own intentions, the Up series stands as a monument to the importance of character in determining outcomes, not to class as destiny. “What I had seen as a significant statement about the English class system was in fact a humanistic document about the real issues of life,” he wrote in 2000. He also cheerfully admitted failure in trying to impose his liberal vision of feminine self-actualization on the women in the Up series (five out of the original cast of 14) and found them pushing back. “I keep saying there’s a big world out there, beyond going to dances and having babies and beer money,” Apted once said, “and they just have a go at me on camera.” A liberal’s idea of how to direct the masses for their own good runs aground on people’s actual preferences.

2. Armond White believes The Social Network revealed a decade ago the fascist tendencies of Big Tech. From the piece:

That self-congratulatory, bravura screenwriter’s fantasy foretold those pointless Capitol Hill hearings in which every tech giant breezes past naïve questions. This portrayal makes Zuckerberg the smartest guy in the room rather than the sheepish-looking, alien-eyed dissembler we would eventually see address Congress. Here’s where Fincher and Sorkin betray their obsequiousness and #resistance cynicism. Both are habitually infatuated by the manipulations of the arrogant and famous, as also seen in Mank and The Trial of the Chicago Seven.

It’s almost Ayn Randian, but, notably, only Zack Snyder understood this when he cast Eisenberg as the villainous Lex Luthor in 2013’s Batman v Superman. That’s where Eisenberg’s fast-talking genius not only made patsies of the Senate but literally obliterated it. Snyder’s sense of myth spotted a demiurge, while The Social Network made excuses: “You’re not an asshole, Mark,” concludes a flirty law clerk played by Rashida Jones. “You’re just trying so hard to be.”

Sure, Fincher and Sorkin admire high-rollers and brash young entrepreneurs. They whirl viewers through a new La Dolce Vita with special guest-star portrayals of Sean Parker, Peter Thiel, the Waspy Winklevoss twins, even Larry Summers (Harvard’s president and the secretary of the Treasury and future head of Obama’s Economic Council) to glamorize it. If this is how Hollywood whitewashes a buttoned-up figure like Zuckerberg, one shudders at how it would apotheosize Jack Dorsey. (Perhaps replace Trent Reznor’s surprisingly neoclassical Social Network music score with Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails tune “Head Like a Hole,” for its Democratic Socialists’ fascist lyrics: “Head like a hole / Black as your soul / I’d rather die than give you control / Bow down before the one you serve.”)

3. More Armond, who zings Nomadland for ripping off America’s class struggles. From the review:

Nomadland’s protagonist Fern (played by Frances McDormand), is a white Nevadan widow who, after losing employment when the local sheetrock plant shuts down, wanders the back roads of gig economy America in her RV. Her latest, temporary job was as an anonymous Amazon worker who fulfills society’s materialist greed.

Is Fern a vagabond, a nomad, a pioneer, or just a hermit? Her bobbed hair looks monastic, as if rejecting sexual attraction, doing penance as she takes us on a tour of American devastation. (“I’m not homeless, I’m houseless,” she says.) She avoids family and domesticity, yet she’s not as compelling as Sandrine Bonnaire was in Varda’s film — she’s just an embodiment of the political self-righteousness of Beijing-born Zhao.

It is unfortunate that McDormand, last seen troweling politicized anger onto the screen in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, plays Fern with such excessive, noble sympathy. McDormand now specializes in high-minded standoffishness, blending in with the pale or sunburnt faces of “real” people. (She urinates on the land just before Zhao flashes the film’s title.) This passive-aggressive sanctimony has become the driving force of crusading filmmakers such as Zhao. Nomadland is part of the current glut of politically correct anti-entertainment.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. In the Wall Street Journal, Christopher DeMuth reminds us that the 2020 presidential elections made the case for the virtue of the Electoral College. From the commentary:

Election by national popular vote would dispense with the need for continental diversification. Campaigns would focus on large, voter-rich metropolitan areas and media markets, and on appeals to national demographic and occupational groups. Presidential candidates wouldn’t need to immerse themselves in local issues. States, battleground or not, would disappear from the electoral calculus. The federal government would have to regulate voter and candidate qualifications, voting requirements and election procedures.

A national popular vote would turn America into a multiparty democracy. The two-party system, which took form as soon as Washington left the stage, is an artifact of the Electoral College and the states’ winner-take-all rules: Third parties have no chance of winning the electoral vote, and symbolic parties (the Libertarians) and personal crusaders ( Ross Perot, Ralph Nader ) hurt the major-party candidate closest to their own views. To achieve real influence, issue-driven groups make peace with one or both of the major parties, knowing that their candidates will need to compete for the nation’s political center in the general election. With a national popular vote, ideological movements and ambitious personalities would seek independent electoral mandates through distinctive, unmuddled parties. Incentives for party creation would be reinforcing: Each additional party would reduce the popular plurality needed to win the White House.

This problem has been a perennial stumbling block for national popular vote advocates. Their standard solution is a runoff election between the top two candidates. But a second national election would be costly and polarizing. Candidates would differentiate themselves with adamant appeals in the first election, and then, in the period before the runoff, bargain with the two frontrunners for support in exchange for cabinet appointments and policy commitments. But without a runoff, we are left with the miserable prospect of presidents with narrow parochial pluralities in elections with large majorities voting for others.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Habi Zhang looks at America, lockdowns, and institutionalized obedience. From the beginning of the essay:

This year, against the backdrop of pandemic, the level of obedience manifested in many Americans stunned me: Why do Americans, the rugged individualists, obey edicts issued at the whim of “King” Newsom or “His Majesty” Cuomo, without a questioning of the legitimacy of those mandates? They remind me of my fellow Chinese who have been tamed under decades of totalitarian rule of the Communist Party. What accounts for this commonality shared by two peoples who were nonetheless nurtured in distinctive political cultures?

In a small effort to unpack the puzzle, the following words explore the challenge freedom faces in an age of institutionalized obedience — a peculiar obedient behavior that is contextualized in modernity and reigns supreme over all fields of life.

The essence of institutionalized obedience consists in an abdication of the individual responsibility of making one’s own moral judgments. On the way of executing commands from a bureaucratic office that is abstract but appears to be absolute, the individual stops thinking for himself. Rather, he obeys and conforms without questioning what is right or wrong. I worry that institutionalized obedience, in tandem with a sheer thoughtlessness (in Hannah Arendt’s words), will serve a totalitarianism that may have not passed into a distant memory in the Western hemisphere.

The subject of obedience didn’t gain much scholarly attention in social sciences until Stanley Milgram’s 1961 Obedience Experiment, which observed and measured humans’ capability to obey authority in an experimental setting. The Obedience Experiment proves the great capacity of humans to harm an innocent person even in the absence of hostility on their part.

3. At The Guardian, Gulbahar Haitiwaji tells the story of returning to her Uighur homeland only to be put into a Red China prison and torture camp. From the powerful account:

Our exhausted bodies moved through the space in unison, back and forth, side to side, corner to corner. When the soldier bellowed “At ease!” in Mandarin, our regiment of prisoners froze. He ordered us to remain still. This could last half an hour, or just as often a whole hour, or even more. When it did, our legs began to prickle all over with pins and needles. Our bodies, still warm and restless, struggled not to sway in the moist heat. We could smell our own foul breath. We were panting like cattle. Sometimes, one or another of us would faint. If she didn’t come round, a guard would yank her to her feet and slap her awake. If she collapsed again, he would drag her out of the room, and we’d never see her again. Ever. At first, this shocked me, but now I was used to it. You can get used to anything, even horror.

It was now June 2017, and I’d been here for three days. After almost five months in the Karamay police cells, between interrogations and random acts of cruelty — at one stage I was chained to my bed for 20 days as punishment, though I never knew what for — I was told I would be going to “school”. I had never heard of these mysterious schools, or the courses they offered. The government has built them to “correct” Uighurs, I was told. The women who shared my cell said it would be like a normal school, with Han teachers. She said that once we had passed, the students would be free to go home.

This “school” was in Baijiantan, a district on the outskirts of Karamay. After leaving the police cells, that was all the information I’d managed to glean, from a sign stuck in a dried ditch where a few empty plastic bags were drifting about. Apparently, the training was to last a fortnight. After that, the classes on theory would begin. I didn’t know how I was going to hold out. How had I not broken down already? Baijiantan was a no man’s land from which three buildings rose, each the size of a small airport. Beyond the barbed-wire fence, there was nothing but desert as far as the eye could see.

4. Ben Weingarten, writing at The Federalist, finds the New York Times is acting as a Red China-propaganda vendor. From the article:

Imagine, that during the height of Nazism, as Adolf Hitler worked to exterminate the Jewish people, an American publication consciously downplayed and buried coverage of the Holocaust?

The New York Times did precisely these things. Now, it appears it wants to complete the trifecta of effectively shilling for the world’s most monstrous regimes by glorifying that of Communist China as it seeks to supplant the United States as the world’s preeminent power.

“The [coronavirus] pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom,” wrote columnist Li Yuan in the Jan. 4 article. While Chinese citizens “don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship or freedom from fear — three of the four freedoms articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt,” she continued, unironically, “they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life.”

The idea that the Chinese people have the “freedom to…lead a normal day-to-day life” might be news to the Uighurs laboring in Xinjiang’s modern-day gulags, the Falun Gong practitioners facing forced organ harvesting, and the Christians seeing the BibleSinicized“ while their churches are demolished and their pastors are detained. It might be news even to prominent CCP members like Jack Ma.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin says China and Iran will prove the biggest tests of the Biden Presidency. From the analysis:

Tensions are already running high between Tehran and Jerusalem following reports earlier this week that Israel is deploying one of its submarines to the Persian Gulf, a move that prompted an angry response from Abolfazl Amouei, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, who described the Israeli move as “an act of aggression”, and warned that Iran reserves the right to respond.

While many military observers regard the Israeli move, which is being taken in conjunction with an increase in US naval activity in the Gulf, as a purely precautionary measure as the Trump administration draws to a close, hostilities between Israel and Iran can never be ruled out, a prospect that President-elect Joe Biden would be well-advised to take on board as he considers his foreign policy options.

There is eager anticipation among many of Washington’s foes that Mr Biden’s inauguration will result in the new president adopting a less confrontational tone with the outside world than his predecessor.

China’s communist rulers, for example, are hopeful that Mr Biden will engage in the kind of meaningless trade deals so beloved of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

These are the trade deals where Washington agrees to improve trade ties with Beijing on the understanding that China addresses the unfair trading relationship between the two countries, knowing full well that China’s communist rulers have absolutely no intention of fulfilling their end of the bargain.

6. At First Things, Gerald Bradley puts the spotlight on Joe Biden’s plan to codify Roe v. Wade, a.k.a. abortion on demand. From the beginning of the analysis:

It is finally settled that Joseph Biden will become president of the United States on January 20 at about noon. His party, in its presidential platform, has promised to “codify the right to reproductive freedom.” At an October campaign event, Biden made the promise his own. Asked what he would do about abortion in light of Amy Coney Barrett‘s nomination to the Supreme Court, Biden noted the “expectation” that Barrett would vote to overrule Roe. He then declared: “The only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.”

Democrats control the House of Representatives. As vice president, Kamala Harris will possess the tie-breaking vote in a Senate equally divided between the parties. In 2019, she co-sponsored the proposed Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified Roe. At least a couple of Republican senators (Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski) are also reasonably likely to vote to “codify” Roe.

The question is not if but when Congress will consider a bill making abortion on demand up until the third trimester — and possibly throughout pregnancy — the law of the land. When that time comes, the bill will probably become law. It would mean that even if the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, abortion would be just as available the day after the decision as it was the day before.

Could it really end up making no difference whether the Supreme Court finally overturns Roe v. Wade? Unfortunately, yes — unless the Court’s conservatives alter what they mean by “reversing” Roe. This would require a significant change in their constitutionalism — more specifically, in their understanding of how moral truths intersect with their job of faithfully applying the Constitution.

7. At Spectator US, Daniel McCarthy thinks we are at America’s “Yeltsin Moment.” From the beginning of the article:

Trump was never a danger to America. He was the only thing that could keep the system from devouring itself: the control rod forestalling an out-of-control nuclear reaction. The fact that Trump could be so personally outrageous should not distract from the real political outrages of the past 30 years. We have become the planet’s policeman even as leftists at home demand the defunding of police who keep our cities safe. From Kandahar to Chicago, American liberalism fails to establish self-sustaining order. What it has created, however, is an oligarchy whose share of national wealth only expands in good times or bad.

Along with the oligarchs of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, latter-day liberalism has empowered a clerisy of social-media censors with the power to restrict what you may see, hear or say. At the end of the Cold War, cyberspace was an open frontier. Today it is enclosed, even as legacy media are held hostage to the emotions of their newsrooms’ junior staff — young graduates left angry and narrow-minded after four (or more) years of highly expensive liberal education. So repellent is American Yeltsinism to its own offspring that they look to socialism for salvation. Soaring violence, chasmic inequality and class hatred mixed with racial identity amount to a formula all too familiar in other parts of the Americas. These are the wages of a liberalism that will not reconsider its oligarchic, globalist ways.

From Joe Biden to Nicolás Maduro is a long way. So is the path from our prolonged Yeltsin moment to a truly authoritarian reaction. America is not Russia: we are far richer, with a wider margin to indulge our ruling class’s excesses before the backlash. And yes, we also have more choice; that, too, is a luxury we can afford thanks to the security and prosperity handed down to us by the generations that prevailed in the Cold War and America’s earlier conflicts.

8. Critical Race Lunacy: At The College Fix, Greg Piper reports on a woke Catholic school’s race-based intimidation of a white student. From the beginning of the article:

The day before a Nevada mother sued her son’s charter school for forcing him to take a class that promotes hostility against whites as a race, a Missouri family sued a Catholic girls school for its heavy-handed implementation of critical race theory, at least administratively.

Villa Duchesne subjected the unnamed white plaintiff to 90 minutes of “false imprisonment” in the principal’s office, in order to “coerce, intimidate, and threaten” the senior, who is now 18, “into adopting a specific political doctrine,” according to the lawsuit.

The school also encouraged and facilitated “race-based aggression” against the student, identified only as “Daughter Doe,” that was “promulgated by African American fellow students,” the lawsuit says. It has refused to investigate Doe’s detailed claims about their behavior, which allegedly violated school policy.

The dispute started with a false allegation that the white girl told a black classmate “Black lives do NOT matter,” which prompted verbal and physical threats against Doe, the family claims.

They said video evidence of the class disproves the allegation, and teacher Theresa Wiss also knew the claim was false. Wiss and Principal Jeannie Steenberge (left), both defendants, also “acquiesced in” the black classmate’s verbal abuse of the white girl in their meeting with the students.

Villa Duchesne may have boxed itself in with a “Student-Parent Handbook” that obligates the private school to punish students for “words, gestures, and actions” that may only have “potential” to “hurt” others. The provision would seem to apply to students who accuse others of racism, even if the accusation is genuine.

9. At Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple sees totalitarian emerging in Scotland. From the article:

The loss of freedom of expression as a political value is clearly exhibited in the official documents about the Scottish government’s proposed Hate Crime and Public Disorder Bill. ‘Hate has no place in Scotland’, claims one of these documents, as if not merely the control of illegal emotional behaviour but the control of emotion itself were the business of a government. Perhaps one day the Scottish government will propose not a Two Minute Hate, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but a Two Minute Love, when citizens will be required to express, in unison and in public, their love for someone or something formerly despised.

Come back Queen Elizabeth I, who famously said that ‘I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls’! What a retrogression in understanding do we now suffer!

The government minister in charge of the legislation, Houmza Yousef, said that he would consider outlawing behaviour that expressed antipathy, dislike, ridicule or insult — but of course, only of certain protected groups. The rich, for example, would not be a protected group, even though hatred of the rich probably was at the root of more mass killing than practically any other hatred in the 20th century. There is even an economic interpretation of the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutu in Rwanda in 1994: and certainly there is documentary evidence that the killers often rejoiced in the appropriation of their comparatively prosperous neighbours’ economic assets, even if they were not impelled to kill at the outset by the conscious desire for loot.

Baseballery

It’s a somewhat rare baseball event — hitting a home run in the final career at bat. There is a list of some four dozen achievers, on which appears the name Clay Van Alstyne, whose miniscule career consisted of six games in 1927-28 pitching for the Washington Senators.

His name shouldn’t be on that list. Yes, he did hit a dinger on during the May 7, 1928 beatdown provided by the St. Louis Browns at Griffin Stadium: The final score was 15-2.

About the game: Van Alstyne was called in to relieve in the top of the Second Inning, the Browns having already mounted a 9-0 lead. In the bottom of the Third, Van Alstyne — who tossed the contest’s final 7 2/3 innings — got the Senators first hit, and his sole career home run, off Lefty Stewart, cutting the score to a mere 11-1 laffer. Van Alstyne would get up two more times that day, gathering another hit in the Ninth while scoring the Nats other run (he was driven home by future Hall of Famer George Sisler).

The point here is not to correct the mistaken last-at-bat claim, but to note a thing — indeed, an amazing thing — that Your Humble Correspondent stumbled over in the game’s box score: Before the Number 7, 8 and 9 batters in the Senators lineup even got up to bat once, the Browns great left fielder — also a future Hall of Famer — Heinie Manush, gathered three hits: a double in the First, another in the Second, and a single in the Third (he’d also add a single in the Fifth).

The virtue of Baseballery, if there can be a virtue, is the Adolescent Author’s curiosity. It is certainly not  omniscience. And so he will continue to wonder: Was Heinie’s doings that day a unique feat in MLB history?

A Dios

Yes, yes again, do pray for this country, that its foundations are protected, that the sense of its essence — of the gift of unalienable rights from Nature’s God, of the mission Lincoln specified (Earth’s last best hope), of its e pluribus unum historical hallmark — become apparent to those have been taught and propagate the opposite. Pray too for your own strength, for courage — that if called upon you will stand in opposition to those who seek our nation’s destruction. Pray too that the Benevolent One might grace wisdom to those None So Blind who live lives unmoored from the truth that America’s success requires a citizenry that adheres to a real and transcendent morality.

So much to pray for.

God Bless America, and You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, a sinner and fool too who may be told such via emails sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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