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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.