The Weekend Jolt

NR Webathon

Attack! Attack! Attack!

Dear Weekend Jolter,

No way to do this with subtlety: Get ready to make a donation. This fact we count on: You are neither a summer soldier nor a sunshine patriot.

Our movement is the champion of The Founding — that thing of 1776, promoted of late in the Commission that the Discombobulated Man from Delaware kyboshed as soon as he wandered into the Oval Office (likely while searching for the basement). It is being sorely contested, truly threatened, on fronts foreign and domestic, on matters cultural and fiscal and spiritual, on the sovereignty of borders and the meaning of “states,” on delusions scientific (pay no attention to the chromosomes hiding behind the curtain!) and biological (are there really more genders than Baskin Robbins’ flavors?) and pigmentary. If only to combat the insane but real threat of “H.R. 1” to the Republic, the dangerous but real threat of Red China to the same (and to the whole wide world), the ghastly but real threat of the “Equality Act” to civil rights, your help is needed, right now, to provide material assistance to National Review while it makes the case for reason and right and traditional and heritage and decency. While we charge into the enemy lines.

We cannot — no way in Heck — do this minus your real help. Not interested? Go in peace! But if you do contend, as we do, that facing us is a battle that requires the efforts of all conservatives, we ask you to consider this: We are in the first days of a webathon, seeking to raise $250,000 — to bring ammunition and support as we fight this epic fight (never mind a contrived court battle in defense of the First Amendment with Michael Mann, now plodding towards its ninth year of contrivance and sloth and seven-figure expense). We seek this on behalf of our mutual beliefs. On behalf of this last best hope on earth. On behalf of National Review’s beliefs, which also happen to be your beliefs.

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Bully Boy Veering into comeuppance: A Whole New Dimension to Andrew Cuomo’s Disgrace

Pushing Back Silicon Valley: A Conservative Technology-Policy Agenda Should Begin with the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act

Labor pains: PRO Act: Democrats’ Labor Union Giveaway Bill An Anti-Worker Nightmare

Suicide of the west: Democrats’ Voting Rights “For the People” HR 1 Bill Is a Scandal

Borders on insanity: The Biden Crisis that Dare Not Speak Its Name

What’s the antidote for this poison: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: Democrat Police-Reform Bill Would Not Advance Justice


Manyin Li: China’s New World Order Revealed in Translated Speeches

Ralph Norman and Joe Wilson: China’s Confucius Institutes Threaten American Educational Institutions and National Security

Kevin Williamson: China Present Ideological Challenge to American-Led Global Order

Andrew A. Michta: Globalist Empire and the ‘Liberal World Order’

Andrew C. McCarthy: Cuomo’s Water Gets Hotter

Ingrid Jacques: Governor Whitmer Is the Andrew Cuomo of the Midwest

Andrew Roberts: Winston Churchill’s Woke Critics Engage in Falsehoods

Alexandra DeSanctis: Amazon and Ryan Anderson: Company Says It Won’t Sell Books Framing Transgenderism as ‘Mental Illness’

Kyle Smith: Dr. Seuss & Jake Tapper: Left’s Cancel Culture Slippery Slope

David Harsanyi: Biden Prepares to Strip College Students of Due-Process Rights

Devon Westhill: When Academic Achievement Means ‘Acting White’

Dan McLaughlin: Clarence Thomas Delivers Decisive Win for Religious Free Speech

Rich Lowry: H.R. 1 Is a Partisan Disgrace

Kaj Relwof: The Left Launches a Two-Pronged Assault on American Democracy

Isaac Shorr: Civil Asset-Forfeiture Reform: Congress Must Act Now

Brian T. Allen: The Frick Collection and Modernism — Perfect Together


Robert P. O’Quinn finds an absolute disconnect: COVID Relief Bill Wastes More Than a Trillion Dollars

Wayne Crews sees through the lack of transparency: Tyrannosaurus Regs and Regulatory Dark Matter: Biden’s Accountability Deficit on Regulation

Donald Devine thinks they’re gaming the market: Managing the Economy: More Than the Federal Reserve Can Do

Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena want to turn back the clock: Daylight Saving Time: Unpopular Standard Should Be Ended


Armond White sees a duds’ dud: Khaite FW21 — Sean Baker’s Fashion Week Faux Pas

More Armond: Coming 2 America: Eddie Murphy Sequel a Comic Triumph

Kyle Smith not raving for Raya: Disney’s Droopy Dragon Tale Puts Inclusivity above Story

More Kyle, who wades into Oliver’s memoir: Oliver Stone’s Cinema of Excess

Even More Kyle, and more Oliver, and more confliction: Filmmaker Oliver Stone’s Career Shows Fierce Commitment and Craziness



1. The case against Andrew Cuomo, governor and tomcat: From the editorial:

Needless to say, if the rules Democrats applied to Brett Kavanaugh were still operative — a mere accusation, if even vaguely plausible, and sometimes not even that, is enough to sink someone — Cuomo would be gone yesterday. His accusers, without any apparent coordination, several of them his own former aides rather than political enemies, are describing a consistent pattern of behavior that doesn’t require any wild leaps of faith to believe. What’s more, in the case of Anna Ruch, we have an actual photo of the behavior — and Ruch’s facial expression makes clear that she is not welcoming Cuomo’s hands on each side of her face.

Andrew Cuomo is an impulsive, temperamental, sometimes-raging, often-bullying egomaniac prone to spectacular failures of self-awareness, and it’s notable that no one who knows the governor is exclaiming, “Talking to female underlings about their sex lives and pressuring them for a relationship? That just doesn’t sound like the Andrew Cuomo I know!”

Some of Cuomo’s denials have been carefully couched, or he’s claimed that his attempts at friendly banter or, incredibly enough, mentorship have been misunderstood.

By his own standards, too, he should also be gone yesterday — he was eager to get in front of the “me too” parade when it was politically convenient, and he even changed New York’s law to make the standard for harassment lower in a way that might come back to bite him now.

2. We argue that proper response to Big Tech’s disruption of media should be the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act. From the editorial:

It’s no secret that conservatives have been divided over what to do about this situation. Some want to tighten regulation of tech companies or even to break up the biggest players. Others believe that the cure of government intervention would be worse than the ills we have now. While that debate continues, though, conservatives should consider a bipartisan proposal to foster a healthy market for news through a bit of deregulation.

The bill is called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. Its sponsors include House antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D., R.I.) and his Republican counterpart Ken Buck (Colo.). In the Senate, it is sponsored by John Kennedy (R., La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.). It is one of the rare pieces of legislation that both Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) support.

It would allow news publishers to band together to negotiate with Google and Facebook over compensation for the use of news content. The publishers would have a limited exemption from antitrust laws for this purpose. The federal government, note, would not be providing news outlets with taxpayer money or requiring the tech companies to pay them specified terms. It would simply be getting out of the way while they reached a deal on a more level field. Given that the main purpose of antitrust law is to help consumers by promoting competition, it is perverse to apply it in a way that aids behemoths while reducing the quantity, quality, and diversity of news offerings.

3. The “PRO” Act is a con on the American people: From the editorial:

Why would a worker want to avoid joining a union? Wouldn’t they prefer to have someone looking out for their interests? That might be the case — if American workers were naïve enough to believe that the Teamsters and the other unions are looking out for their interests, rather than looking out for the interests of, say, a union boss’s brother getting paid a $42-an-hour wage on a New York City construction site while operating a coffee concession. There are, as it turns out, a great many blue-collar workers not much interested in paying for the privilege of enriching politically connected labor leaders who do no real work.

Beyond the corruption and the desire to be free of union politics, other workers have practical, bottom-line reasons for wishing to remain free of union entanglements. For instance, owner-operators involved in long-haul trucking cut their own deals with their clients, working on their own terms rather than on terms set by a union boss. They can do that even where a union already is present. Under the PRO Act, some of these independent operators would risk being reclassified as employees — meaning reclassified out of business. That is because of the second prong of the ABC test insists that independent contractors must be engaged in incidental work rather than core business activities — owner-operators who do drive for trucking services (as opposed to contracting with a farm or a construction company) wouldn’t pass the test to qualify as independent contractors.

4. It took less than two months for Joe Biden to create a crisis on America’s southern border. From the editorial:

The Biden administration has opened up one tent city and is planning more. And it has eliminated the social-distancing guidelines that had limited how many migrants could be kept in shelters.

Indications are that parents are sending the minors — and sometimes traveling with them up to the border and then splitting up — in the belief that they will gain entry into the United States and never leave.

This is a well-founded belief. Only about 4 percent of minors who have come to the United States in recent years have been returned home. They are released to relatives in the U.S., who are also likely to be illegal immigrants, and even if they are eventually ordered removed, we don’t have the resources or the will to see that it happens.

The latest border surge is entirely Biden’s doing. That his rhetoric and policies would create a new crisis was predictable, and indeed, it was predicted.

5. “H.R. 1” is a dagger aimed at the heart of America, with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer holding the handle: From the article:

States have long experience running elections, and different states have taken different approaches suited to their own locales and populations. The federal government traditionally intervened only to prevent serious abuses of voting rights. H.R. 1 would upend that balance for no good reason, wrecking carefully refined state regimes for securing the vote. It also throws out much of the work of federal election laws passed with extensive bipartisan support in 1993 and 2002.

The first target is to wipe out state laws that allow voters to be checked against a preexisting list of registrations. H.R. 1 mandates that states provide same-day registration and allow people to change their name and address on the rolls at the polling place on Election Day, then forbids states from treating their votes as provisional ballots that can be checked later. It mandates online registration without adequate safeguards against hackers. It mandates automated registration of people who apply for unemployment, Medicaid, Obamacare, and college, or who are coming out of prison. The bill’s authors expect this to register noncitizens: They create a safe harbor against prosecution of noncitizens who report that they have been erroneously registered.

H.R. 1 bars states from checking with other states for duplicate registrations within six months of an election. It bars removing former voters from the rolls for failure to vote or to respond to mailings. Outside election observers are an important check on the system; H.R. 1 bars anyone but an election official from challenging a voter’s eligibility to vote on Election Day — thus insulating Democrat-run precincts from scrutiny.

6. The “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” doesn’t have a single thing to do with justice. From the editorial:

Consider, for starters, its declaration that any indication that law-enforcement “interviews, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, frisks and other types of body searches” have had a disparate impact on individuals of different races constitutes “prima facie evidence” of racial profiling.

This is absurd. There are bound to be disparities in such police interactions because there are disparities in crime rates. Obviously, law enforcement shouldn’t be pressured to bend to ideological demands while ignoring on-the-ground realities. Worse, the bill makes officers liable for these disparities — over which they have no control — and forces them to prove they aren’t guilty of wrong-doing if taken to court, rather than the other way around.

Disparities based on the characteristics of “ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation” too are considered prima facie evidence of profiling. The same problems that apply to race apply to each of these, but let’s consider gender in particular. Ninety-two percent of the U.S. prison population is male. That’s because men commit the vast majority of crimes in this country. To avoid potential legal action, law-enforcement officers and agencies will need to either manufacture reasons to stop, frisk, and perform more searches on more women, or stop men far less often. Both approaches would be insane and represent a step backwards from equal treatment under the law.

So Many Stupendous Articles, So Little Time

1. Attention! This is quite important. Manyin Li translates important speeches of Red China’s leaders CCP plenaries. The SOBs admit what they’re up to. From the article:

The Third Movement: Tactics to ‘Squeeze Out’ the U.S.

The U.S. asks China to share responsibilities but is unwilling to share power. We need to press the U.S. to do so. My surmise is that we are not going to have war against the U.S., but we will squeeze it out [of the South Sea and Taiwan Strait]. This is quite probable.

The U.S. is a real democracy with diversity, more democratic than any other democracies in the West. The upside is people having the freedom to express their views; the downside is the difficulty in getting consensus. For the U.S., the best situation is to have only one external enemy. If there are two, it would be at its wits’ end. That was the situation before WWII. One enemy was the black threat from Nazi Germany; the other the red threat from the Soviet Union. Americans fought among themselves on the question “Who is our real enemy?” I guess that Americans would be totally disoriented if there were three or four enemies. China’s strategy is to ensure that the U.S. has four enemies: the terrorists for a sure one; Russia, likely, but maybe there is insufficient animosity yet; Brazil is a potential one. China tried to prop up Brazil, because it has the potential to become a power. Brazil, however, is not motivated and, therefore, not supportable. One more trick is to ensure that the U.S. be trapped in debt crisis.

China used to consider itself a regional power. President Xi is the first leader who designates China a world power, hence, a nation with a global strategy. It has two pillars: The first is looking westward and called “One Belt One Road,” which will create physical connections between East Asia, West Asia, Africa and Europe by railroads, highways, pipelines, gas lines, optical cables, seaports, transportation hubs, and airports to form a huge network. The second pillar is the “Asian-Pacific Free Trade Zone.” Looking eastward, it was written into the declaration of the 2014 APEC meeting.

There are only two countries in the world with global strategies: China and the U.S. . . .

In the past 25 years since the end of the Cold War, who has gained the most substantial benefits? China, the U.S., or Russia? It is China! The one who has lost most is the U.S. After becoming the only superpower in the world, the U.S. could beat whomever it wants. The U.S. has compared itself to God. But God is a jealous old man, so He punished the U.S. How? By letting it attack two fools [Iraq, Afghanistan] without any strategic value. . . . The U.S. has been trapped in these wars with $60 trillion spent, 10,000 deaths, and ten years wasted. During this period, China has risen as a power. Militarily, the U.S. won the wars, but strategically, it lost.

2. Red China’s notorious Confucious Institute at American universities are a threat toi them, and to our national security, argue Congressmen Ralph Norman and Joe Wilson. From the analysis:

Under the direction of top officials in the CCP’s Office of Overseas Propaganda, China has established a network of 50 so-called Confucius Institutes at American educational institutions. In 2009, Li Changchun, then head of agitprop for the CCP, called these outposts “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Their M.O. is simple: China gives American host institutions cash, and CCP operatives get to teach a distorted, regime-friendly history of the Chinese state to American students. Meanwhile, those same operatives get to live in close proximity to all the resources of our modern research universities, and to important inside information about the sensitive, and often taxpayer-funded, activities of our brightest minds.

American institutions of higher education are not the only targets of the CCP’s influence, however. While Confucius Institutes are often headquartered on university campuses, their reach extends to every level of education. By offering Chinese teachers to schools around the country, the CCP has successfully built a series of ‘Confucius Classrooms’ at many K–12 schools around the country. For thousands of American schoolchildren today, the first exposure to China comes from carefully selected Communist apparatchiks.

This is the threat that our nation faces today: An attack on truth. An attack on our institutions. An attack on our children. An attack on our way of life.

3. Kevin Williamson looks through the bombsight and sees the ChiCom threat to Uncle Sam. From the article:

Here in the United States, we naturally prefer a national politics to a world politics: We are the most powerful nation. And for as long as we have been the most powerful nation, we have looked with dread and suspicion on whichever nation is No. 2: Great Britain, once upon a time, but also Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and, now, China. Americans are particularly fearful of the Asian economic superman of myth and lore, a tireless laborer who subsists on a cup of rice a day and with whom no American can compete while enjoying a decent standard of living. Donald Trump spent the 1980s complaining that Japan was about to eat our national lunch once and for all and, when that did not come to pass, he moved on to China. Before Japan, there was the Eurasian economic superman of the Soviet Union, where rapid forced industrialization produced an economic transformation that convinced a generation of America’s most gullible that Stalin had cracked the code. (“I have seen the future, and it works,” the progressive reformer Lincoln Steffens said of Soviet society.) Perhaps one day India or Korea will surpass China as the Asian economic superman of some future generation.

As the Chinese journalist and policy thinker Jin Canrong (about whom you can find some interesting material here in National Review, where Manyin Li has gone to the trouble of translating some of his speeches) sees it, second banana to the United States is a position that necessarily comes with great and unique geopolitical risk. His analysis is plausible from a certain point of view: Of course the United States does not desire to be supplanted as top dog, and things did indeed work out pretty poorly for former challengers; the Soviet Union no longer exists, having been transformed into a pathetic gangster state, while Japan has entered a long period of economic and cultural stagnation. The collapse of the USSR looms large in the thought of Xi Jinping, who understands it as the result of the ideological and moral decline of the Soviet Communist Party, while the belief that Washington is engaged in a ceaseless active conspiracy to topple the Chinese Communist Party is a commonplace of Chinese political discourse.

Beyond politics proper, commerce and culture have emigrated to the Internet, which is dominated by U.S.-based firms: The European Union does not have a single technology company comparable to Google, Facebook, or Apple. From Beijing’s point of view, an Internet dominated by Amazon and Google is, in effect, one dominated by Washington. China’s Internet companies have been mostly China-oriented, although Beijing intends to see that change — and Chinese leaders surely see U.S. efforts to police Chinese technology companies such as Huawei and Lenovo in a different light than Americans do. Americans see a democratic government in a country with an open economy protecting itself from the agents of a predatory police state; Beijing sees a hegemon deviously expanding its borders.

4. Andrew A. Michta argues that America cannot pay a terrible price for the liberal world order. From the article:

At the root of America’s decline since its victory in the Cold War lies ideological hubris that has defined the path to globalist empire that would manifest fully in the decades of post–Cold War triumphalism. In foreign and security policy for three decades now, our elites have pursued with near-religious zeal the fantasy of a “liberal global order” underwritten, presumably indefinitely, by American military power. Amidst the declarations that “history has ended” and the United States had a duty to seize its “unipolar moment,” few paused to think of the ghastly collectivist nature of the imperial project that was suddenly on offer. As our political establishment’s imperial ambitions grew, its concern over the impact at home largely dissipated, with trillions invested in overseas projects rather than spent on modern infrastructure, education, and the health of American citizens. At that moment of Washington’s triumph over the Soviet Union, the only question asked — now that America’s power was no longer checked by a superpower adversary — was what the United States could do to reshape the world in its image. Not once did it pause to ask if it should do this just because it could.

The triumph of globalist ideology was fueled by the fervent belief among our policy and business elites that America was poised to consummate the final stage in the natural order of societal evolution. Presumably the offshoring of manufacturing and transnational financial flows would lead to a final incarnation of Kantian democratic peace, while also allowing American corporations to leverage labor arbitrage in China as they moved away from the American market and into a global market, in the process shooting the corporate bottom line into the proverbial stratosphere. Meanwhile Washington’s permanent foreign-policy and national-security apparatus readied itself to preside over an unprecedented extension of its power and influence into ever-expanding geographic and political domains.

The post–Cold War American imperial project rested on an initially correct assessment of the relative power distribution worldwide. Indeed, for a fleeting moment in 1991, for the first time since 1945, America was truly paramount on a global scale by all indices of economic and military power. Briefly it seemed to have also gained an undisputed ideological license, for even Russia, its most sworn erstwhile enemy, threw itself headlong into its own democratic capitalist experiment, only to recognize within a decade that culture and deeply ingrained behavioral patterns — buttressed by the unyielding logic of geography — often define what is possible. The reality check and course correction for the Washington consensus should have been the implosion of Yeltsin’s corrupt Russian state, for the 2000 inauguration of Vladimir Putin as the new president was a clear and tangible repudiation of America’s liberal internationalists’ theorizing.

5. Geeze it’s getting awfully hot up in Albany. Andrew C. McCarthy wacthes Andrew Cuomo’s scandals-sweat. From the piece:

On Monday, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, appointed two well-regarded lawyers to investigate Cuomo’s sexual-harassment scandal. By then, as NR’s Brittany Bernstein reported on Sunday, two more women had come forward to allege abusive behavior by the governor, bringing the total to five. The lawyers are deeply experienced, one in criminal investigations, the other in harassment litigation.

Joon Kim is the criminal-law expert. He was a top assistant to Preet Bharara, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, when the SDNY conducted an extensive corruption investigation of Cuomo’s administration. Kim, who became acting U.S. attorney for ten months when then-President Donald Trump removed Bharara in 2017, was involved in the eventual prosecution and 2018 conviction of Cuomo’s top aide, Joseph Percoco, on several felony charges. Though his administration was deeply implicated in the probe, which centered on Cuomo’s shutting down of an anti-corruption commission he had established with great fanfare, the governor himself was not charged in the case.

The harassment-law expert is Anne Clarke. She is a partner at a New York City firm, where she specializes in employment litigation. The New York Times reports that she has represented several plaintiffs in sexual-harassment claims, arising in both government and private-sector contexts.

The governor will not get that warm and cozy feeling at the prospect of an investigation, ordered by Attorney General James (a fellow Democrat, but a potential challenger for his job from the progressive left), which will be run by both a former prosecutor who has already studied Cuomo through the lens of political corruption, and an employment lawyer whose clients have been very much like the women who are Cuomo’s accusers. The investigators will have subpoena power, which could be used to compel testimony from the governor himself. They will report weekly to James on their progress.

6. Out in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer has been channeling Andrew Cuomo. Ingrid Jacques explains. From the piece:

Whitmer may now regret her chummy relationship with Cuomo. Given the recent bombshell that Cuomo and his staff fudged New York’s numbers to make the state’s nursing-home deaths appear rosier than they were, it’s extremely apparent that public officials can’t be trusted to be open with citizens, regardless of how many times they say “science and data” (one of Whitmer’s favorite catchphrases) are guiding their decisions.

The Democratic New York attorney general took a close look at the numbers and found the discrepancies in reporting undercounted nursing-home deaths by more than 50 percent. The state had not included deaths of nursing-home residents when they took place in hospitals. This revelation has prompted an investigation by the FBI and Justice Department.

In Michigan, the more than 5,500 deaths in long-term-care facilities account for a third of COVID deaths in the state — as far as we know, given lack of transparency from both Whitmer and the state Health Department.

Whitmer refused to back down for months from her initial executive order instructing nursing homes and other similar facilities to take on hospital patients with COVID-19. The governor was warned early on by the head of the state’s elder-care association not to do this, but she did so anyway. And she continued the misguided policy, despite several bipartisan attempts from the Michigan legislature to alter the mandate.

It wasn’t until late September that she changed course — and not until November that she signed legislation making it official.

7. Andrew Roberts pushes back against the Churchill’s-a-Racist claptrappers at an egghead conference in Britain: From the piece:

“The British Empire was far worse than the Nazis,” claimed Professor Andrews. “It lasted far longer; it killed far many more people.” This abominable lie went entirely unchallenged at Churchill College, even though it is demonstrably untrue under any metric one cares to choose. Under the British Empire, for example, the population of India nearly tripled, whereas the population of Poland fell by 17 percent under the Nazis. Under the British Empire, life expectancy for Indians doubled, whereas the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews. Under the British Empire, education, communications, infrastructure, medicine, freedom of speech, parliamentary institutions, the rule of law, universities, economic development, and domestic peace hugely flourished in the majority of places for the majority of the time, whereas in the Nazi Empire most were all but destroyed.

The specious parallel between the British Empire and the Nazi regime was taken a step further with the claim that Churchill himself espoused views in line with the genocidal ideology that underpinned the Nazis’. Professor Andrews stated that “this idea that Jewish people get racialized into the subhumans who the Nazis then dispose of, that very much is eugenics, and that very much is the racial science which, again, Mr. Churchill was absolutely supportive of.” Of course the professor was right to assert that what the Nazis practiced in their attempted extermination of Jews as a race was based on Hitler’s profound belief in the “racial science” of eugenics. He was totally wrong, however, to present Churchill as an avowed eugenicist.

In fact, Churchill flirted briefly with the notion of eugenics, for 18 months during his time as home secretary. Having read a pamphlet about Indiana’s state-administered “sterilization of degenerates,” which seemed to him to present a persuasive and humane argument for eugenics on the grounds of mental incapacitation, Churchill in 1910 argued for the inclusion of this policy in the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. He soon realized the implications such a policy would have on civil liberties — of which he was always a staunch defender — and quickly and firmly abandoned the idea. He is also often accused of personally attending eugenics conferences, which is completely untrue.

8. Alexandra DeSanctis has the update on Amazon’s censure of science (and Ryan Anderson). From the article:

The company’s announcement came in a letter to Republican senators, who inquired of the selling and shipping giant why it had, without explanation, ceased selling Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally.

As Ryan has pointed out, nowhere in his book does he refer to those who experience gender dysphoria as “mentally ill,” nor have any of his critics bothered to explain why they haven’t identified a single passage where he does so. Nevertheless, his book was the first to go in Amazon’s new crusade to silence those who oppose leftist orthodoxy on sex and gender.

The decision is troubling enough as a standalone matter, as several writers have already written here at NRO. Are we to take this as a sign that questioning society’s wholesale adoption of sex-reassignment surgery and hormonal gender “transition,” even for young children, is henceforth anathema? Even though “detransitioning” is a very real phenomenon, even though most children who experience gender dysphoria later desist, even though some have found Ryan’s book helpful in their struggle with gender dysphoria?

But perhaps more troubling is what this move portends for a host of cultural issues. How long until the social-justice mob, or its acolytes within Amazon, decide it’s harmful to women to insist that abortion kills an innocent human being or to defend religious freedom in the face of secular bigotry?

9. Kyle Smith recasts Jake Tapper as the Cat on the Aluminum Hat. From the article:

It has become a commonplace to Tapper and the rest of the left-wing media to conflate “racist” and “racial.” But there is a difference here, and that difference is the element of hatred. Theodor Geisel’s WWII-propaganda cartoons of Japanese troops can fairly be described as racist: There’s hate in them. However, given that the U.S. and Japan were at war, it seems safe to say that mean cartoons were the least salient variety of 1940s hostility. When two cultures are engaged in mass-slaughtering one another, I think we can take it as a given that they’re not thinking kind thoughts.

As for the images in Geisel’s kids’ books, some are clearly outdated. The cartoon most likely to give offense in the six de-published books, from If I Ran the Zoo (1950), depicts goofy creatures from “the African island of Yerka” who look like upright pot-bellied monkeys with rings through their noses. Since many Dr. Seuss characters are non-humans, this could be a way of anthropomorphizing animals in a silly way, but to many contemporary readers it looks more like the reverse: animal-izing humans by making a hateful comparison between black men and monkeys. Certainly it’s the kind of image that a cartoonist would shun today; parents reading the book to children today might skip that page.

The other two images Geisel’s detractors most often cite involve Asian features. Another drawing from If I Ran the Zoo shows a cartoon of three proud-looking Asian men (who “wear their eyes at a slant”) carrying on their heads a cage containing a bird-beast. “Empirically racist”? I see no hatred in this image. It’s a caricature, and caricatures are by their nature unfair, reductive, and disproportionate, but there’s no obvious malice in this one. In To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street — notable both for being the first Dr. Seuss book and for being the only one (as far as I know) whose title refers back to Geisel’s proud hometown of Springfield, Mass., and hence an emblem of regional pride — there is (or was) “a Chinaman who eats with sticks” (yellow skin, traditional Chinese dress, an eye rendered as a slash mark, chopsticks). “Chinaman” became offensive long after the book was written and was replaced in recent editions with “Chinese man,” but the image isn’t clearly hate-driven. A reasonable person might describe it as racist. Another reasonable person might see it as moderately offensive. Another reasonable person might see it as mildly offensive.

10. David Harsanyi sounds the alarm as Joe Biden (remember — he’s also a constitutional law professor!) is preparing to strip accused college students of due-process rights. From the piece:

It was only in 2011 that the Obama administration instituted fewer due-process rights through the force of law, denying the accused the ability to question accusers, the right to review the allegations and evidence presented by their accuser, the right to present exculpatory evidence, and the right to call witnesses. Basically, the right to mount a defense.

It was the Obama administration that asked schools to institute a system that empowered a single investigator, often without any training and susceptible to the vagaries of societal and political pressures, to pass unilateral judgment on these cases. Also, under the Obama administration rules, colleges were allowed to adjudicate sexual abuse and assault cases using a “preponderance of evidence” rather than a more stringent “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

Now, Jennifer Klein, the “Gender Policy Council” co-chair and chief of staff to First Lady Jill Biden, says “everybody involved” in a sexual complaint, “accused and accuser,” should be entitled to due process.

11. Devon Westhill takes on the destructive mindset that an “A” grade means “acting white.” From the piece:

As the debate over curricula rages on, the approach in Oregon and other math departments to engage students of color focuses not on what is taught but instead on how it is taught. It should face the same scrutiny and similar condemnation as the 1619 Project.

In the 1980s and 1990s, when I was a youth in the American South, there existed an unfortunate element in the subculture of poor blacks — within which I was a member. To show a desire to learn or to do well academically was criticized as “acting white” or considered effeminate for boys and men. I remember it well.

I didn’t live in what now are called “predominately communities of color”; my family always lived in solely black communities. In the neighborhood that I spent my adolescence and teenage years, I remember my mother being the only white person in the community.

This destructive part of southern poor black subculture meant that nearly all of the black boys in my neighborhoods — including me — shunned schooling or, at least, did well to pretend they disliked learning. At that time and place, appearing to be a race traitor or homosexual were two of the worst sins one could commit. I’m confident this element contributed to many of the black youths I knew turning to more culturally glamorized delinquency and ultimately, to trouble with the law, drugs, and the many other problems reflected in statistics on young black men.

12. Clarence Thomas drops the hammer in favor of religious free speech. Dan McLaughlin hears every word of it.: From the analysis:

Judicial conservatives have long taken a hard line on standing to sue where injury and traceability are not pleaded and proven, precisely to prevent activist judges from expanding their lawmaking writ beyond cases where somebody was actually harmed. And they have also joined the judicial voices that caution against novel extensions of redressability. In Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26 (1976), for example, the Court held that indigents who had been denied medical treatment by nonprofit hospitals had suffered an injury (because the hospitals were required to provide medical services to the poor), but that they did not have standing to sue to strip the hospitals of nonprofit status, because they had no personal stake in the hospitals’ tax benefits. In Sprint Communications Co. v. APCC Services (2008), Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, joined by Justice Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Samuel Alito, against the majority’s finding that a plaintiff’s economic injury was redressable where the plaintiff had assigned all the benefits of the judgment to another party. Justice Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch have begun arguing as well that the question of how much of a federal statute to strike down should be a matter of what parts of a statute the court needs to invalidate in order to give relief to the plaintiff in the case, rather than a matter of “severability.” But a historically and analytically proper analysis of redress and mootness does not always mean turning away cases or limiting relief. Justice Thomas, in the recent Pennsylvania election case, criticized the Court for using the mootness doctrine to duck issues of ongoing importance in election law.

Today, in Uzuegbunam, Thomas wrote the majority opinion in an 8–1 decision finding that a suit for nominal damages for a violation of noneconomic constitutional rights can be maintained in federal court. Much of the decision, in originalist fashion, traced the common-law history of nominal damages, which were originally disfavored but gained acceptance in the English common law after a 1703 decision by the House of Lords (Britain’s highest judicial body) in a case involving the denial of the right to vote. As Justice Thomas wrote, the Court rejected “the flawed premise that nominal damages are purely symbolic, a mere judicial token that provides no actual benefit to the plaintiff.” Chief Justice Roberts dissented alone (a rare sight), arguing that the history was less clear and that the Court should not exceed its modest role.

13. Rich Lowry slams H.R. 1 for being disgraceful and partisan. From the piece:

According to advocates of the bill, anything to tighten up or maintain good practices regarding ballot security is “voter suppression” worthy of the old Jim Crow South.

By this way of thinking, Republican efforts at the state level to, say, reduce the days available for early voting — Iowa is reducing its early-voting period from 29 days to 20 days — will disenfranchise millions, never mind that deep-blue New York State allows only about a week of early voting.

Voter-identification laws, a bogeyman of supporters of H.R. 1, were recommended by a 2005 bipartisan commission jointly led by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, neither of whom will ever be mistaken for Bull Connor. Not too long ago, it was a feature of big bipartisan voting bills to require states to periodically clean up their voter rolls, another commonsense measure that is now considered tantamount to wielding billy clubs and police dogs.

There may be many problems besetting American democracy, but people turning out to vote isn’t one of them. Turnout exploded in the 2018 midterms before the pandemic, and turnout exploded in 2020 during the pandemic, with both Democrats who availed themselves of early voting and Republicans who voted same day showing up in historic numbers.

In response largely to a non-problem, Democrats want to trample on the prerogatives of states to conduct elections, mandating their electoral priorities throughout the land.

14. The Left is hellbent to destroy America as we know it, via a two-prong attack on the Electoral College and state-election integrity. From the beginning of the piece:

A full-out assault on our election system — a two-pronged project of the Democratic Party and the vast and crazy-funded left-wing conspiracy — is underway, threatening a radical transformation of our republic, making mincemeat of the notion of states (those things currently considered “united”), and erasing our Declaration’s assurance that America operates via “the consent of the governed.”

Can this actually come to pass?

Well, can Joe Biden be elected president? So, yes — fret.

This effort’s success may prove dependent upon a passive, dispirited, and divided conservatism. Our movement’s central tenet — to protect the Founding — demands a rousing, a call to arms, and forceful and determined counterattack that gives no quarter and allows for no sunshine patriots.

When you’re a bull, and when you’re trying to gut the last best hope of earth, two prongs are better than one. The one of more immediate concern protrudes from Capitol Hill, where Democrats have unleashed the “For the People Act.” Granted the legislative prestige of being designated “H.R. 1,” the massive proposal would dismantle our election system by federalizing election laws, appropriating the constitutional rights of states to oversee the ballot box, hampering protected political speech, exposing and intimidating donors, making hash of voter verification and restrictions on voter registration, and burying once and for all the notion of an Election Day. It is nothing less than a partisan assault on our democracy.

15. Civil-asset-forfeiture remains a big problem. Congress needs to fix it, says Isaac Schorr. From the piece:

To understand the way that civil asset forfeiture works in this country is to be shocked by it. Law-enforcement agencies, if they have probable cause to believe that property — be it cash, a vehicle, or anything else — has any connection to a crime, can seize it. Then they need only charge the property, not its owner, with such a connection in order to keep it. Property owners are not entitled to representation in such cases and are forced to sink money into proving they had no knowledge of their property’s connection to a crime. Oftentimes, those legal costs exceed the worth of the property forfeited.

Putting an end to this practice should be an easily agreed-upon priority when it comes to criminal-justice reform. The civil asset-forfeiture process in Arizona and many other states around the country assumes an owner’s culpability without asking the state to prove it, replacing a pillar of the American legal system — “innocent until proven guilty” — with its opposite. This injustice may be obscured by the fact that owners themselves are not charged with a crime, but their guilt is nevertheless an assumption that must be overcome for them to recoup their property. Moreover, the incentive structure is a pernicious one: Law-enforcement officers are provided with motivation to be overzealous in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, since police departments are allowed to supplement their budgets with the property they seize, while property owners have motivation to cede their property without putting up a fight, given the burden of proof they must meet and the substantial legal costs they might incur by pursuing the matter.

16. What the Frick?! Brian Allen says, yes. From the review:

There were already two mood makers, though, just steps from the elevator. Jean Barbet’s Angel, from 1475, four feet tall and bronze, is alone, erect, and frosty, and about as angelic as Mrs. Danvers welcoming Rebecca to Manderley. The first painting I saw was the small, ghostly, arresting grisaille, Three Soldiers, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I’d never noticed it before in my hundreds of visits to the Frick. Immediately, in the next space, are the Holbeins.

The arrangement of art is Spartan throughout. Mostly, it’s one painting per wall. Two Hals portraits in the next space were a respite. They might not be laughing, but they look hearty and happy, and we can assume the burgomaster in one didn’t send the old lady in the other to the chopping block. Then the Rembrandt Self-Portrait, from 1658, the Portrait of Nicolaes Ruts, from 1631, and The Polish Rider, from around 1655, are together in their own niche.

That’s a jaw-dropping trio. At the old Frick, the art wasn’t arranged by country but by Henry Clay Frick, with tweaks here and there. It was never hodgepodge. Things just weren’t hung via art history. Now that it’s by country, “Dutch School” here, we see Rembrandt’s evolution from young to old painter.

Frick bought lots of portraits, so we can see the same changes in style in van Dyke and Gainsborough over time but also the tactics of, say, Gainsborough and Reynolds. In the two late Rembrandts, it’s not only the subjects that stop us in our tracks. Every sweeping, thick brushstroke coaxes from brown every nuance a color can have.

Capital Matters

1. Biden’s honkin’ stimulus project is a staggering waste of taxpayer money, says Robert P. O’Quinn. From the piece:

The bill would provide $350 billion to state, district, territorial, tribal, and local governments. Despite the COVID-19 recession, state and local tax revenues were down only 0.7 percent, or $7.6 billion, comparing the first nine months of 2020 with the first nine months of 2019. State and local tax revenues have fallen less than in previous recessions because (1) job losses have been concentrated among low-wage workers who pay less in state income taxes, (2) stock and housing prices have increased, boosting state income tax revenues from capital gains, and (3) the CARES Act maintained consumption, which supported income and sales-tax revenues. Last year, the federal government provided state, district, territorial, tribal, and local governments with $535 billion. While a few states and localities face severe financial challenges, most do not. Combined, the idea is to send state government almost a trillion dollars, even though their shortfall was virtually nonexistent.

The bill would provide another $170 billion to schools, colleges, and universities on top of the $113 billion that Congress has already provided. This is not stimulus — less than 8 percent would be spent during this fiscal year — but rather, a payoff to teacher unions. The bill would provide $86 billion for bailing out a CBO-estimated 185 “critical and declining” union-negotiated multi-employer pension plans that have more than 1.5 million participants. Without requiring any reforms to make these pension plans sound, Democrats are simply shoveling cash so that these plans, including the 18 plans that have suspended paying benefits, can pay full benefits for the next 30 years. Since most of these plans are in the entertainment, manufacturing, mining, and trucking industries, unions such as the American Federation of Musicians, the Bakery and Confectionary Union, the United Mine Workers, and the Teamsters would benefit from this Democratic generosity.

2. It’s time, Says Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena, to dump Daylight Savings. From the piece:

Daylight saving time, along with time zones, is a major contributor to what’s known as “social jet lag.” Social jet lag occurs as a result of the difference between one’s biological clock (read: circadian rhythm), which is determined by natural phenomena such as when the sun is up or down, and one’s social clock, which is determined by man-made schedules and time structures such as the 9–5 workday, time zones, and daylight saving. Daylight saving’s contribution to social jet lag exacerbates the difference between our biological and social clocks by an additional hour, causing a mismatch between our sleep and awake rhythms and our body’s other physiological functions. In short, with the annual rejection of our natural circadian rhythm, our body clocks are thrown out of whack, resulting, among other things, in serious damage to our health.

Because our body clocks don’t adapt to the artificial construct of daylight saving time, there is an associated increase in the risk for metabolic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions, as well as higher blood pressure and breast cancer. In addition to these long-term health effects, DST contributes to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes. Social jet lag also contributes to an increased likelihood of depression, lower productivity, and a diminished level of performance in the classroom. And, in keeping with the common negative effects associated with a sudden loss in sleep, the switch to DST contributes to an acute increase in workplace accidents and emergency-room visits. In the U.S., fatal car crashes increase by as much as 6 percent in the week following the switch to daylight savings time.

3. Wayne Crews finds that Biden’s clean-out of Trump regulations have demoed transparency. From the analysis:

As of late 2020, I found that over 73,000 documents had been included in agencies’ portals. It is these commonsense disclosures that Biden is eliminating.

There is some time to correct course, if Congress takes note. As part of his order, Trump also directed executive agencies to issue a final rule on guidance — we’ve taken to calling them “FROGs” — and specifically to set up internal procedures for their creation and posting. Thirty agencies issued FROGs, all of which provided for searchable disclosures, by the time Biden took office.

Since these “rules on rules” are part of the Code of Federal Regulations, Biden cannot strike them out with his pen as he did the underlying Trump order. Nonetheless, Biden has directed agencies to “promptly take steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies, or portions thereof, implementing or enforcing” the Trump orders that he rescinded.

When asked at a briefing why President Biden rescinded an order aimed at transparency, White House press secretary Jen Psaki ducked and accused the Trump White House of erecting “unnecessary hurdles and cumbersome processes for agencies.” That is a clear signal that the Biden White House prioritizes the convenience of bureaucrats over the public’s right to know about the rules they are being told to follow.

4. Donald Devine argues that the market run-up is less about suppl-and-demand economics and more about betting on government fiscal screw-ups. From the beginning of the article:

What happens when the task is more complicated, such as managing the entire national economy? The champions of bureaucratic rationalization claim that it is superior to pluralist capitalism because it can make the market work better than simply allowing it to seek its own levels. But let us see.

Consider the Federal Reserve System, which has been the top expert manager of the U.S. economy since President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act in December 1913. The Fed’s prestige is so high that Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist, Ruchir Sharma, called it “the central bank of the world.” There is near-universal agreement among finance experts that the Fed’s most powerful tool — manipulating the federal funds rate — can keep the U.S. financial system in balance, and through it the whole global system.

When Janet Yellen became chairman in 2016, after eight years of tepid economic growth, she aimed to reassure a nervous investor class that her agency was firmly in control. Yellen announced that the Fed did not need to resort to that ultimate rate tool, but would continue relying on its more modest “quantitative easing” bond-purchasing tool for an indefinite period. At first the market shuddered, but it soon calmed down to the soothing voice of its overseer, who would scientifically control the fragile U.S. and world economies with the current program, keeping the big gun ready in case things got worse.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White squirts some WD-30 on Khaite FW21. From the beginning of the review:

Sean Baker, the NYU-trained writer-director celebrated for indie films about people on the margins of American society (Tangerine, The Florida Project), has shifted to a new far-left political move. His latest film, Khaite FW21, showcases the Fall/Winter 2021 Collection of designer Catherine Holstein’s Khaite fashion brand. Livelier and even more facetious than Baker’s feature-length films, this short celebrates the COVID social transformation that’s made America entirely marginal.

Jokingly publicized as Baker’s “all new epic film,” Khaite FW21 is a series of cinematic scraps — a continuous montage of models strutting the streets, swanning through “subterranean corridors . . . collapsing past and present to evoke a city defined by extremes — perilous yet alluring, raw yet resilient.” Baker and a gang of models reenact New York’s bad-old-days — the crime and graffiti-ridden 1970s — that look just like the city’s COVID present. Baker’s brief credit sequence imitates Walter Hill’s 1979 street-gang classic The Warriors: fake nostalgia, fake news.

The fashion industry often depends on perception and prescience. Khaite FW21 cunningly (accidentally?) depicts national urban suffering and self-loathing that the mainstream corporate media, always promoting political mandates, gussies up as “news.” The models’ tough-gal, aggressive postures, meant to be chic and entertaining, seem bizarre considering that contemporary New Yorkers have knuckled under arbitrary tyrannical mandates.

2. More Armond: He is liking Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America. From the review:

Retooling the 1988 plot about African prince Akeem (Murphy) traveling to the U.S. to find a bride, 30 years have passed. Now King Akeem, the father of three daughters, seeks his patrilineal heir via another transcontinental mission. He finds Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), his “bastard son.” That rude phrase evokes the disintegration of black family relations as normalized by the politically correct “single parent” euphemism, but Murphy’s rude, comic epithet is necessary. It corrects several recent black pop-culture regressions.

Coming 2 America’s father-son plot obviously parodies the sanctimonious sentimentality of The Lion King (Disney’s anthropomorphic spectacles and especially Beyoncé’s patronizing Black Is King iteration). Murphy’s satire is right for this era of disingenuous race consciousness. It also rejects Black Panther’s humorless self-importance about African heritage and black governance. (A #MeToo subplot is more routine than offensive, but at least it’s acted warmly.) Each rounded character — from Arsenio Hall’s majordomo Semmi and Wesley Snipe’s greedy tribal dictator Izzy to Leslie Jones’s bodacious babymama Mary and Tracy Morgan’s wily Uncle Reem — shows the funny side of either uppity Motherland pride or vulgar urban-ghetto candor.

Restoring our lost sense of humor is Murphy’s triumph in Coming 2 America. Since 2008, the nation has been forced to view everything judgmentally as race-based, whether a private achievement or a personal offense. This manipulation worsened when the fantasy film Black Panther caricatured ethnic pride and its sci-fi comic-book nonsense was taken seriously. The Black Lives Matter generation projected their political whims upon Wakanda, a nonexistent African kingdom that was a Millennial version of faux-naïf Africa (which young Murphy once equated to Tarzan movies), seemingly unaware that, before they were born, Murphy had already proposed the country of Zamunda — and had played an African king in Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time music video.

3. Kyle Smith finds Raya and the Last Dragon inclusion fare. From the review:

As the film begins, Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, who was widely but not unfairly ridiculed for the role she played in the latest Star Wars movies) is a girl whose dad, Chief Benja, (Daniel Dae Kim) is the custodian of the gemstone coveted by all five tribes. In the spirit of idealistic liberals everywhere, Benja decides to throw away stability in favor of a kind of League of Nations gambit. “We were once unified harmoniously as one,” notes this supreme king. “If we don’t stop and learn to trust one another again, it’s only a matter of time before we tear each other apart.” Not surprisingly, when Benja invites his archrivals over for soup, they instead try to steal the gem, which is barely guarded and quickly gets broken into five pieces distributed to the various tribes, unleashing the Druun again, which turns most people back to stone. To undo her dad’s idiotic decisions, Raya has to bring the five pieces of the gem together. But she has help: It turns out that Sisu the dragon is not dead, merely resting.

The opening act seems to promise a kind of Asian Lion King, with a youngster dutifully inheriting the throne after treachery destroys the old man, but whatever mythic mojo there is in that opening act fizzles out when we meet Sisu the dragon. When it comes to playing scaly sidekicks, it turns out that Awkwafina is no Eddie Murphy. I’m not sure that even a comedy genius could have done much with Sisu’s lines — “I’m wicked when I hit that liquid. . . . I slaughter when I hit the water” and so on — but Awkwafina does not generate hilarity. And her steel-wool, Patty-and-Selma voice is abrasive to the ears. As much as I was praying for better jokes, I was also hoping someone would pass the dragon a lozenge.

As Raya, meanwhile, Tran has a perfectly pleasing voice but the character is a Mary Sue. Worse, she spends most of the movie functioning as the straight man for Sisu’s dumb jokes. Disney these days operates under tweet terror: Someone out there might remark that some aspect of a minority character represents an unflattering stereotype, so the company errs on the side of making such figures irredeemably dull. The movie’s sidekicks are even less interesting than the principals: Raya’s ride is some sort of mollusk-aardvark, a boringly obnoxious little boy is thrown in as a sop to the boys in the audience (or maybe just the obnoxious ones), and there’s a mischievous toddler that amounts to a poopy diaper of writing ability. Comic interludes range from the lame (everyone has a hard time with spicy food) to the very lame (Sisu goes on a shoplifting spree because she doesn’t understand the concept of credit). Efforts to maintain an atmosphere of medieval magic and wonder collapse under all of the suburban-teen-speak (“Using your baby charm to rip people off is super-sketchy.”). Somebody says, “I’m not Dang Hai. I’m Chai. The flower guy?”

4. More Kyle, who checks out Oliver Stone’s Hollywood memoir, Chasing the Light. From the review:

Chasing the Light is a study in Stone’s fears, his frustrations, and his addictions, as he tries to put his obsessions on the screen for us to share. Throughout his career, he has composed in his own brutal, vulgar, ostentatious key, scolds be damned: “The hell with good taste!” he writes. A recurrent phrase in his book — he heard it many times from people to whom he pitched his scripts — is “too much.” Too much sex, too much violence, too much everything. It took a while for the industry to grasp that, as the Eighties roared forth, “too much” could be the raison d’être of a highly successful filmmaker. Stone started to attract allies who loved the idea of going too far, such as the gonzo San Francisco journalist Richard Boyle, who would be played by the gonzo actor James Woods in Salvador. (Woods stole the role from Martin Sheen, who was originally cast, by telling Stone that Sheen’s wariness of the profanity in the script would result in “another bull**** Hollywood picture.”) As Stone was struggling to get Salvador made after his only previous directorial effort — a piece about a murderous, creeping appendage called The Hand — occasioned more laughs than screams, producer John Daly told the director, eyes twinkling, “I hope you live up to your reputation.” What he meant, Stone writes, is “be who you are, ‘the lunatic.’ . . . John was saying, ‘I want that Oliver, not their Oliver.’”

Stone’s matter-of-factness about his many mistakes makes for lots of dryly funny episodes. He once held a pound of heroin in his closet for friends, for instance. He doesn’t remember his 1981 wedding because he was high on marijuana, quaaludes, and cocaine during the ceremony. He notes that Gore Vidal once proposed a three-way tryst with Stone and Mick Jagger. On a Scarface research trip to Bimini to chat with some wealthy gentlemen who just happened to have a lot of theoretical knowledge about how one might go about sneaking cocaine into Miami, Stone unwisely mentioned a defense attorney he knew. The lawyer had once been a prosecutor, and the mention of his name made Stone’s interlocutors wonder if their new friend might perhaps be an undercover agent. The fellows excused themselves to discuss the matter in the men’s room, and Stone believed he was about to be tortured and fed to the gators. As dicey as it was to research, though, Scarface turned out to be useful in surprising ways: When Stone went to beg right-wing Central American government officials for help making Salvador, his leftist follow-up, their affinity for vigorous anti-communist Tony Montana made them incorrectly think the director was ideologically simpatico. (It helped that Stone whipped up a phony two-page treatment that suggested Salvador was a film about brave right-wing governments battling despicable Commie insurgents.)

5. Like Post Sugar Crisps, Kyle can’t get enough of Oliver Stone and his love/hate affair with the filmmaker. From the beginning of the piece:

Ilove Oliver Stone. He’s gonzo, gung-ho, and gangsta. He breaks the rules. He spits fire. He writes from his viscera. The movies he wrote for other directors — Midnight Express, Conan the Barbarian, Scarface — go over the top and just keep going. I forgive the silly posturing about capitalism in Wall Street because it’s entertaining. Stone and Val Kilmer nailed Sixties mysticism-turned-self-destructive-excess in The Doors, he and Woody Harrelson created a chilling study of murderous American minds in Natural Born Killers, and he and Tom Cruise got close to the heart of how the moral compromises and lies of Vietnam crushed our spirit in Born on the Fourth of July. And JFK may be the most insane picture ever released by a major studio.

I loathe Oliver Stone. His movies barely make sense. His cinema is like his personal life — a senseless, ugly scramble to get to the next drug rush. His cinematic coke binge packaged as neo-noir U Turn is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. His snarky George W. Bush picture W. is a feeble, brainless caricature. His hagiographic Snowden is an embarrassing paean to anti-patriotism. Even his acclaimed Platoon is war porn, an overwrought melodrama. Stone turns the movie screen into billboards onto which he pours all his crazed contempt for America as angrily and artlessly as Jackson Pollock spattering a canvas, or maybe a horse emptying his bladder on the road. And JFK may be the most insane picture ever released by a major studio.

I feel something of a bond with Stone: We’re both sons of World War II veterans, both went to Yale, both joined the Army without being forced to, and both went to war. Our tastes and paths diverged a bit: Stone was completely indifferent to Yale and dropped out of it twice to go to Southeast Asia — the first time to teach English, the second to be an infantry grunt. I dearly loved Yale and signed up for the Army to pay for it, which resulted in my being sent, not enthusiastically, to a war in Southwest Asia.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At the Washington Examiner, Nat Brown, one-time editor of this weekly missive, reflects on the late comedian, Patrice O’Neal, canary in the cancel culture cave and subject of a new documentary. From the beginning of the piece:

In June 2011, a few months before he suffered the stroke that would eventually claim his life, comedian Patrice O’Neal made one of his last appearances on Opie & Anthony, the shock-jock radio show that had become known as a place for comics to drop in, hang out, and roast each other on air. O’Neal was a frequent guest and listener favorite, and when he sat down at the mic that day, he had a lot to be happy about. His first one-hour special, Elephant in the Room, had premiered a few months prior to rave reviews, and he would soon get even more praise for his set on the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen that fall. Twenty years into his career, it seemed as though O’Neal was finally getting recognized by a business that had neglected him for far too long.

Not that he wasn’t partially or even mostly responsible for that neglect. O’Neal was a notorious bridge burner, both with corporate executives and other comics, and he was unwilling to make any creative compromises he felt threatened his integrity. He was also the first to admit that his raw and sometimes cringe-inducingly honest style of comedy would never have the kind of audience market that, say, Dane Cook’s or Jim Gaffigan’s acts had. “There’s people that count on me to have a revolutionary attitude,” he explained, which made a new cultural dynamic he saw developing all the more disturbing.

2. At Gatestone Institute, Peter Schweizer lays out the threat posed by Red China’s “Dragon Ships.” From the piece:

Pentagon planners know this and have called out China’s work on building both capital ships and the swarms of smaller escort vessels that will project the dragon’s breath across those critical trade routes for years to come. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is building their capability to control and possibly interdict shipping from other Asian nations, mostly as an economic and political lever. China means to threaten the economic security of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and others. America must remain resolute in the face of this build-up in order to maintain freedom of commerce in the Asian seas.

In naval warfare strategy, technology has replaced sheer numbers in some ways, as the ability to project power can be achieved less by heavily armed and heavily crewed warships. and more by the development of ships that rely on artificial intelligence and remote control, or on unmanned vehicles that can deliver their ordnance of smart weapons through drones above and beneath the surface. Submarines pose a greater threat than destroyers because of their stealth, but in a direct conflict, the ability to direct air power against coastal targets and hostile warships remains the dominant mode of naval tactics.

China’s destroyer-building program reflects this. Its Type 052D Luyang III and Type 055 Renhai guided-missile destroyers are China’s most modern designs. These ships are intended for “air warfare” missions, equipped with phased array radars, air search radar, two target illumination radars, and sixty vertical launch missile silos for surface-to-air missiles. They will also carry anti-ship missiles, land attack cruise missiles and anti-submarine weapons. Destroyers protect capital ships, such as China’s two aircraft carriers and the two more that observers say are under construction or on the planning board. Chinese officials expect the PLAN will have five or six carriers in operation within 20-30 years.

In raw numbers, the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress for 2020 that China had “approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants.” The comparable number for the U.S. Navy is 293 ships, as of early 2020. What these numbers do not reflect is the strategic capabilities and ability to project power anywhere in the world that has been the U.S. naval goal since the Cold War.

3. At City Journal, Bari Weiss checks out elite and very scared parents navigating a world of woke education institutions. From the essay:

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

By normal American standards, they are quite wealthy. By the standards of Harvard-Westlake, they are average. These are two-career couples who credit their own success not to family connections or inherited wealth but to their own education. So it strikes them as something more than ironic that a school that costs more than $40,000 a year — a school with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand, and Sarah Murdoch, wife of Lachlan and Rupert’s daughter-in-law, on its board — is teaching students that capitalism is evil.

For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution” — unveiled this July, in a 20-page document — is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.

“I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.

“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?” (Harvard-Westlake has declined to comment.)

4. At The Kirk Center, the essential and influential George Nash celebrates the institution’s 25th Anniversary. From the essay:

This leads to another point worth underscoring. Russell Kirk was no academic pedant; he was a scholar with a mission. This was evident both early and late in his career. In 1952, shortly before he published The Conservative Mind, he confided to a friend that the forthcoming book was intended to be “my contribution to our endeavor to conserve the spiritual and intellectual and political tradition of our civilization; and if we are to rescue the modern mind, we must do it very soon.” “The struggle,” he said, “will be decided in the minds of the rising generation—and within that generation, substantially by the minority who have the gift of reason.”

In a conversation late in his life Kirk returned this theme. To an interviewer he told a story about a “forgotten mill pond” in the village of Mecosta, Michigan, where he now lived. Since boyhood, he recalled, he had enjoyed tossing pebbles into this pond and watching the ripples that “spread outward, circle upon circle, until they reached the shore.”

To Kirk these ripples came to symbolize his vocation as one of America’s most distinguished conservative intellectuals. From his bailiwick on Piety Hill in Mecosta, he told the interviewer, he was endeavoring “to impart an understanding of great lives, great institutions, and great works of imagination.” He hoped, he said, that these “ideas” might, like those ripples in the mill pond, “spread to distant shores” and (in words he quoted from T. S. Eliot) help to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.”

For Kirk this task of redemption entailed far more than engaging in politics. In The Conservative Mind and subsequent writings, he repeatedly instructed readers that political problems are fundamentally “religious and moral problems” and that cultural renewal requires remedies at deeper levels than economics. Tirelessly he focused our minds on the crucial realm of the value-creating and value-sustaining institutions of society. He beckoned us to ponder questions of ends and not just of means. More than any other conservative writer of his era, he elevated the tone and substance of conservative discourse and, in the process, elevated our vision.

5. At The Catholic Thing, James Matthew Wilson delves into the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and his profound concerns about ecumenism. From the beginning of the piece:

Hans Urs von Balthasar’s little book, In the Fullness of Faith first appeared in the mid-1970s and proclaimed a striking mission. Vatican II had encouraged a spirit of ecumenism within the Catholic Church, but the most common application of that spirit followed the example of American Protestantism: it recognized the legitimacy of different “denominations”; fruitful dialogue consisted of trying to find what least-common-denominator, what set of broad principles, was actually shared by all parties. Differences were to be minimized as “inessential.”

This was impossible, thought von Balthasar. Catholicism is a whole, a totality. The only way for the Church to speak substantially to other Christians was for the Church to present the “Catholica,” the integral spirit that was an organic unity. From that interior unity, doctrines and practices emerge to which Protestants object. But the only way to understand those points of contention is to understand how they in fact emerge from the animating spirit of the Church.

Von Balthasar does not get very far into his discussion of “The Present Situation,” before the whole problem at stake becomes unsettling. The Church has a form. Further, the Church would imprint that form on the Christian, such that to be a Christian is to allow one’s entire life to receive a particular shape, a structure.

6. Heritage Foundation lays out the many reasons why the Democrats bill (H.R. 1, the “For the People Act”) will blow up America’s election system and cook the GOP’s goose. From the report:


Seize the authority of states to regulate voter registration and the voting process by forcing states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting.

Make it easier to commit fraud and promote chaos at the polls through sameday registration, as election officials would have no time to verify the accuracy of voter registration information and the eligibility of an individual to vote and could not anticipate the number of ballots and precinct workers that would be needed at specific polling locations.

Hurt voter turnout through 15 days of mandated early voting by diffusing the intensity of get-out-the-vote efforts; it would raise the cost of campaigns. Voters who vote early don’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day, missing late-breaking developments that could affect their choices.

Degrade the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals (as opposed to “citizens”) from state and federal databases, such as state Departments of Motor Vehicles, corrections and welfare offices, and federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services. This would register large numbers of ineligible voters, including aliens, and cause multiple or duplicate registrations of the same individuals and put federal agencies in charge of determining a person’s domicile for voting purposes (as well as that individual’s taxing state).

Constitute a recipe for massive voter registration fraud by hackers and cyber criminals through online voter registration that is not tied to an existing state record, such as a driver’s license. It would make it a criminal offense for a state official to reject a voter registration application even when it is rejected “under color of law” because the official believes the individual is ineligible to vote. It would also require states to allow 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to register; when combined with a ban on voter ID and restrictions on the ability to challenge the eligibility of a voter, this would effectively ensure that underage individuals could vote with impunity.

7. At The College Fix, Henry Kokkeler finds religion profs genuflecting before the new creed of anti-racism. From the article:

Columbia University linguist John McWhorter argues that “the new religion” of anti-racism is reconstructing America’s sense of morality, justice, education, personal expression and national identity.

In an excerpt from his new book on “Neoracists Posing as Antiracists,” published in Persuasion, the black scholar and atheist wrote that anti-racism is a nonsensical new religion “posing as wisdom” and “world progress.”

Many would argue with his assertion that anti-racism is a religion and that it poses a threat to a “Progressive America.” But an interview program co-produced with Religion News Service might only take issue with McWhorter’s second argument.

“Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice,” which is dedicated to confronting “the racist ideas embedded within ourselves,” started its second season in late January.

Hosted by Simran Jeet Singh, a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, the program draws from the ranks of anti-racist academics and activists. Guests have included Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour and religion professors Anthea Butler at the University of Pennsylvania and Jennifer Harvey at Drake University.

8. At Strategika, Mark Moyar considers how domestic disorder affects America’s standing abroad. From the essay:

For Americans more sympathetic to the police, the killing of an unarmed black man was a rare occurrence, not representative of any larger trends. Black Lives Matter and other activist groups, they contended, had blown Floyd’s death out of proportion to advance political agendas. “The claim that racist police are prowling the street searching for black men to murder is absurd on its face, and even absurder when you look at the facts,” stated Matt Walsh in the Daily Wire. In 2019, he noted, “25 unarmed white people were killed by police, compared to 14 unarmed black people, according to the Washington Post database of police shootings. That means about .0004 percent of all blacks arrested were killed while unarmed. The percentage for whites is comparable.”

The implications for America’s national defense were likewise open to debate. If one accepted the argument that the protests and riots of 2020 showed the United States to be deeply divided by rampant racism, then it could plausibly be argued that the United States lacked the national cohesion and moral authority to maintain its position as the leading global superpower. That argument was especially popular among those who believed President Trump had exacerbated matters by failing to yield to the protesters’ demands. Samuel Brannen, for instance, contended that “by painting [protesters] as violent and illegitimate” and resorting to “the large-scale deployment of military and police forces,” Trump had “created a strategic advantage for authoritarian regimes that seek to displace U.S. influence in the world.”

Those who contended that the 2020 protests did not reflect rampant racism in the United States generally foresaw much less harm to America’s standing in the world. “I don’t think there’s systemic racism,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien contended. “I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans.” American adversaries would try to make hay of the protests, O’Brien said, but they would fail.

Similar divergence of opinion emerged from the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021. On that date, hundreds of demonstrators occupied the Capitol for several hours in a vain effort to overturn certification of the Presidential election. Liberals argued that the advocates of racism, violence, authoritarianism, and conspiracy theories who took part in the riot were representative of many millions of Americans who had voted for Trump. In addition, they contended, Trump and those who voted for him were complicit in the nefarious deeds of the fanatics. Don Lemon of CNN asserted, “If you voted for Trump, you voted for the person who the Klan supported. You voted for the person who Nazis support. You voted for the person who the alt-right supports. You voted for the person who incited a crowd to go into the Capitol and potentially take the lives of lawmakers.” Congressional Democrats employed such reasoning to justify impeaching Trump for the second time.

Addendum Birzum

The great Brad Birzer, at his own website (do check out Stormfields) penned a terribly kind tribute to Bill Buckley and National Review. He says nice things about Your Humble Correspondent, which is an act of ultimate Christian charity. Mother did always say to be appreciative, though. You may find the article here.


As the American League went, before the days of expansion, the league’s eight teams boasted of three that could often be found near or at the cellar — the Washington Senators (“first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League”), the St. Louis Browns (which won one lonely pennant, thanks surely in part to World War Two, in 1944), and the Philadelphia Athletics (admittedly, a feast-or-famine franchise, with the miniscule feasting of 1910-1914 and 1929-1932 dwarfed by the epic famines in most other years).

But there was one year in which the trio proved to be the top finishers in the AL — 1925. For the second year running, the Senators, brandishing their aging ace, Walter Johnson, took the flag, and comfortably so. IN 1924, it had been a heated pennant fight against the Yankees, but the Nats prevailed, and indeed won the World Series in an epic seven-game battle against the New York Giants. Champs again in 1925, this time the Senators were on the losing end of a toughly fought seven-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When the regular season ended, it was not a repeat of the Yankee juggernaut breathing down the Senators’ neck — nope, this was the one year during the Bronx Bomber’s four-decade dynasty when they had a losing record (so bad they finished in Seventh place). Instead, trailing the Senators in Second, distant by 8 ½ games, were the Philadelphia Athletics, which was gathering talent — first-year players and future Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove, and sophomore Al Simmons, who led the AL in hits with 253 and a blazing .387 batting average) — that would turn the A’s into the league’s true powerhouse in a handful of seasons, and in Third (by a not-even close 15 games) the beloved Browns, led by future Hall of Famer George Sisler, in one of their few winning seasons while located in St. Louis.

We note one other season with a whiff of the above: 1928. Our triumvirate finished in Second (A’s), Third (Browns), and Fourth (Senators) in the AL. Of course, behind the Yankees.


A quintet of tunes for you to enjoy on the forthcoming day of St. Patrick:

1. As I was going over the far famed Kerry Mountains . . . Whiskey in the Jar

2. One pleasant evening in the month of June . . . Jug of Punch

3. Oh my name it is Nell and if truth were to tell . . . Nell Flaherty’s Drake

4. There was Johnny McEldoo and McGee and me . . . Johnny McEldoo

5. In the sweet country Lim’rick, one cold winter’s night . . . The Juice of the Barley

A Dios

There is a wideness in God’s mercy. Find it. Enjoy it. And then, imitate it.

May His Boundless Graces Soothe Your Anxieties,

Jack Fowler, who would appreciate directions to the glue factory if sent to

P.S.: Do not forget our webathon, please! Donate here. Should you prefer to use the U.S. Mails for this conveyance, make your check payable to “National Review” and send it to National Review, ATTN: Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036. God bless!


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