The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Borders on Insanity, or Insanity on Borders

Dear Weekend Jolter,

My esteemed colleague, the friendly and brainy Reihan Salam, has written an important new book that will be published in fewer than two weeks. It’s titled Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, and if you know what’s good for you (I am in Nagging Dad Mode) you will pre-order a copy. Make that copies!

Of course you want to hear what some other Big Brains are saying about Melting Pot of Civil War?, so let me treat to you but three of many praisings for Reihan’s efforts. We’ll start with Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance:

“Tackling a complex and emotional subject with thoughtfulness and charity, Salam has issued a clarion call to everyone who cares about the American nation and every person who calls it home. Melting Pot or Civil War answers the question of how we can have an immigration policy that is beneficial, humane, and fair to everyone — from ninth-generation Americans to new immigrants.”

Now batting, Thinker of Big Thoughts, Peter Thiel:

“Should we lock people out of the middle class, or should we lock people out of the country? That is what is really being asked when we debate whether American immigration policy should be open or closed. Thankfully, Reihan Salam reveals this dichotomy to be a false choice. We can live in a middle class country that welcomes newcomers — if we can live with middle-of-the-road limits rather than absolutist extremes.”

And let’s wrap up this Salamfest with conservative Wise Man Yuval Levin:

“For far too long, advocates of open immigration have dismissed their critics without even bothering to answer them. Reihan Salam should make that impossible. He offers a smart, informed, humane, and powerful case for an immigration policy that better serves all Americans. This is essential reading for understanding our country and its future.”

You have your instructions . . . now get Reihan Salam’s Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders. Then mow the lawn. By the way, I am betting the image attending this epistle doesn’t necessarily reflect the content of Reihan’s book . . . I’m just a sucker for a vintage on-topic political picture.


1. Their assault at the hearings were a bust, so Democrats have taken to smearing SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a perjurer. We consider the charges as ten pounds of rutabagas in a two-pound bag. From the editorial:

Simply put, there is simply no credible argument that this was anything other than truthful testimony. It’s a partisan smear spread to partisan hacks who either don’t know or don’t care about the governing legal standards.

And so is the next perjury claim, that he lied about his knowledge of “memogate,” an old and largely forgotten controversy from George W. Bush’s first term. A former Republican Senate staffer, Manuel Miranda, took confidential Democratic documents from a shared server. As Above the Law founder David Lat explained in an invaluable Twitter thread, Miranda exploited a “glitch” to gain access to Democratic communications and Democratic strategies. At issue is the classic Washington question: What did Kavanaugh know, and when did he know it?

RELATED: Remember to check out Bench Memos for a relentlessly wise analysis of the Kavanaugh nomination process and all things judicial.

A Baker’s Dozen (Plus Three . . . Do the Math) Satisfying and Delicious Pieces from the NR Website that I Still Insist on Calling ‘NRO’

1. Norm Macdonald can be incredibly naughty and hysterical comedian — that last word is important — but he now finds himself in the cross-hairs of a leftist #MeToo jihad. Teddy Kupfer comes to the funnyman’s defense. From his piece:

Don’t get the wrong idea: Macdonald is not one of those comedians whose brand is “politically incorrect,” and his own politics remain somewhat mysterious. In fact, his comedy is generally apolitical, which is to say that it shuns the notion of politics as an absolute matter of obvious right and risible wrong and rejects the point-and-sneer approach. In rare moments when he expresses a sincere opinion, it is wrapped in humility and disavowals of his own expertise.

But this, of course, is at odds with the current environment, and Macdonald is paying the price. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he addressed the Me Too movement, expressing the view that damning the accused removes the possibility of forgiveness, and lamenting what he described as the new model of “admit wrongdoing and you’re finished.” Referring to Louis CK and Roseanne Barr, whom he considers personal friends, he said he put them in touch and has sympathy for their situations. “Of course, people will go, ‘What about the victims?’” he said. “But you know what? The victims didn’t have to go through that.”

2. More Norm. Kevin Williamson says he should stop with the apologies. From his piece:

Here is some unsolicited advice for Norm Macdonald: Stop apologizing. Once was enough.

At some point, maybe in a few weeks and maybe in a few years, this current fad of serial mass hysterias — driven in part by social media and amplified by the news media and entertainment media — will pass. Some people will look back on it and be embarrassed, but most people will not, because they do not have the intelligence or the moral depth to be embarrassed by it. It will go the way of hula hoops and screaming at the Beatles with religious fervor. This is mostly a game, not a moral panic, and Macdonald and others should mediate with equanimity on the truth that this is not really about them. They are convenient piñatas in this early 21st century backyard birthday party of the damned. It doesn’t matter what Norm Macdonald says. He isn’t the point of the game; he’s just the ball.

3. David French strikes back at the character assassination of Brett Kavanaugh. From his piece:

There are people who think the ends justify the means, and it is just fine to destroy a man’s good name to keep him off the High Court by spreading falsehoods. So, yes, malice is part of the explanation, but it’s only part. In my experience most partisans aren’t intentionally malicious. Rather they believe Kavanaugh’s philosophy is ipso facto proof of his low character. They look at a person who may overturn Roe, who voted to overturn Washington D.C.’s assault-weapons ban, and who has written opinions that they believe empower religious bigots, and they think, “This is a bad man.” Thus, when they see a former clerk make an “Ok” sign, or watch Kavanaugh turn away when a Parkland father extends his hand, or listen to his testimony, they immediately interpret each experience through the prism of their distaste.

That’s negative polarization at work. You see it all the time. The very idea that Kavanaugh was appointed by Trump means that he’s “lost the benefit of the doubt.” The very notion that he thinks the original public meaning of the Constitution may not include federal protection for a right to an abortion means that he hates women. Heck, even originalism itself (in the telling of the truly blinded activist) is believed to be a ruse — a philosophical disguise for naked partisanship and outright bigotry.

In other words, in their minds, they’re not engaging in character assassination so much as character revelation.

RELATED: Katrina Gulliver looks into the Online Left’s fetish for conspiracy theories.

4. Andy McCarthy poses an important question to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: What the hell is the legal basis for the Mueller special-counsel investigation? Here’s his piece, and here’s how it begins:

For precisely what federal crimes is the president of the United States under investigation by a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department?

It is intolerable that, after more than two years of digging — the 16-month Mueller probe having been preceded by the blatantly suspect labors of the Obama Justice Department and FBI — we still do not have an answer to that simple question.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein owes us an answer.

To my mind, he has owed us an answer from the beginning, meaning when he appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller on May 17, 2017. The regulations under which he made the appointment require (a) a factual basis for believing that a federal crime worthy of investigation or prosecution has been committed; (b) a conflict of interest so significant that the Justice Department is unable to investigate this suspected crime in the normal course; and (c) an articulation of the factual basis for the criminal investigation — i.e., the investigation of specified federal crimes — which shapes the boundaries of the special counsel’s jurisdiction.

5. Jonah galley-slave Jack Butler takes on Matthew Hennessey over the charges in his new book, Zero House for Gen X, that the young’uns need to be spanked by the Millennials. En garde! From the piece:

It is this portion of the book, as Hennessey embarks on a bracing, thorough, and tech-skeptic rant against the encroachments of technology in their modern forms, that most inspires. He offers horror stories about the “Internet of Things” — hacked baby monitors, digital assistants laughing inexplicably — and serious explorations of how the more everyday use of tech is changing us: shortened attention spans, reduced human interaction, decreased intelligence. And he leavens it all with a recollection of his tech-free childhood, personalizing his jeremiad, even if there might be some romanticizing nostalgia involved.

But what does any of this have to do with Millennials? Still committed to the notion of us as villains, Hennessey tries to render us willing accomplices to the Silicon Valley “conspiracy” (his term, not mine, though I endorse the word choice). “Encouraged by Silicon Valley’s string of tangible technological successes, not to mention its utopian promises, few millennials will admit a downside to moving every form of human interaction onto the web or disrupting every established way of doing business,” he writes. He calls us, variously, “digital natives,” “digital junkies,” and “digital Maoists.” We are essentially the shock troops of the Digital Age.

6. Rich Lowry’s very worthwhile new column explains the blue-collar recovery.

7. The consequences of random hookup-ery is the subject of Kyle Smith’s latest cultural yom-peeping. From his excellent piece:

Joining their numbers now is Courtney Sender, who published in Friday’s New York Times a hurt-feelings epic about how a man she had sex with two hours after meeting him via the Web subsequently ghosted her following a second tryst. Apparently he wasn’t deeply invested in the relationship, or indeed shallowly invested in it, or even of a mind to bear any more responsibility for Sender’s feelings than he would have with a prostitute after conclusion of business. Unlike a prostitute or a porn performer, though, neither Sender nor any of the others has even a few dollars to show for her efforts, hence the need for these women to seek the retribution of humiliation via the sickeningly detailed tell-all. (Sender’s website is headed by the legend, “Hell hath no fury . . .”)

Given the uniformly dismal outcomes of all of these sex stories, my question is this: Would these women, or the many supporters cheering them on in social media, counsel their daughters to behave as they do? You wouldn’t loan 50 bucks to someone you had known for two hours. Why yield your body so indifferently? What did you think you were likely to gain from such wild-kingdom behavior? Even in the most febrile, Looking for Mr. Goodbar days of the 70s disco scene, having sex with someone you had known for two hours would have been considered a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. In the days when Donna Summer ruled the dance charts, a young couple might have spent at least a few hours on the dance floor, likely with inhibitions loosened by various substances, before retreating to the satin together. The ages of first herpes and then AIDS dampened animal spirits. A certain level of prudence returned.

8. Ted Cruz campaign foe Beto O’Rourke pines for taking advantage of “unguarded moments.” What’s the meaning of this jibber-jabber? Graham Hillard explains. From his piece:

“Unguarded moments”? That’s what the Left wants?

On a purely rhetorical level, the phrase makes no sense in the context in which O’Rourke used it. Who, exactly, has been “unguarded” — the protesters staging their dissent? their political opponents? the millions of Americans who don’t give a damn? Moreover, it’s difficult to conceive of anything less probable than widespread unguardedness in an age when progressives have defined “intolerance” down to the molecular level, weaponized it, and trained the resulting laser beam on any conservative who dares to express dissent. “Please,” one can almost imagine O’Rourke thinking, “tell us exactly how you feel about the day’s pressing social concerns. Better still, why not email your thoughts directly to your boss, your co-workers, your professors, or your potential romantic partners?”

“Unguarded moments,” you say? No, I’ll be keeping my guard up, thank you.

9. Kathryn Jean Lopez does her Q-and-A thing with Elise Italiano about a new outfit, the GIVEN Institute, which is intent on helping young Catholic women develop their God-given gifts and bring them to bear on the Church and the wider culture. From this inspiring interview:

Lopez: Why are mentors so crucial?

Italiano: Young people learn what it means to become an adult by watching others live as adults, and they also learn what it means to live as a Christian by watching others live as Christians.

But in recent decades, many young people — including those who count themselves as engaged Catholics — have lacked the consistent presence of adults in their lives to show them what it means to be a mature Christian. They’ve also been starved for instruction in how to tackle the general expectations and demands of adulthood as well as how to navigate today’s complex moral questions.

Families — nuclear and extended — used to be reliable and consistent “schools of love.” They were the context in which emerging adults could learn how to make lifelong commitments and discern God’s will. But decades of divorce and a changing economy that has scattered people far and wide in search of work have weakened the family’s foundation as a critical place of instruction for those coming of age.

And the weakening of what were previously ubiquitous centers of communal support — parishes, neighborhoods, and civic associations — have left young adults looking for adults who can help them understand and meet the expectations and demands of adulthood. Mentors play a critical role in helping to fill this gap.

10. The Deep State, paid off by the Ashtray Industrial Complex, is gunning for e-cigs, which has vape aficionado Kat Timpf standing athwart bureaucrats yelling stop. From her piece:

Even though e-cigs may have some health risks, they’re better than regular cigarettes. In fact, according to Harvard, “e-cigarettes are almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes.” What’s more, they don’t smell bad. As someone who used to smoke on occasion but has been able to leave that behind thanks to vaping, I can say that I for one don’t miss the stink that cigarettes would leave on my clothes. And that taste I’d wake up with in my mouth in the morning? Yuck. These little robot-cigs are a blessing sent from heaven to save me from that hell, and I am glad that I have found them.

On top of the fact that they’re a better alternative than smoking, e-cigs have also helped many people quit tobacco entirely. There are vapes available in which you buy the liquid separately, and you can taper down the nicotine content of the liquid as time goes on in order to quit. I know several people who have done this successfully, people who used to smoke like chimneys who currently do not smoke or vape — and it was all thanks to e-cigarettes. A Juul-sponsored study of 19,000 users found that smokers who had switched to vaping outnumbered vapers who had switched to smoking by a huge margin. In fact, only 2 percent of the respondents who said they had not smoked before trying Juul were smoking when the survey was taken. The FDA keeps freaking out about vaping being some kind of gateway drug to smoking, but it seems that in reality that’s actually not a huge problem.

11. More on the new Vape Jihad: Kevin Williamson says this isn’t a health issue, it’s a class issue. From his piece:

Smoking correlates very strongly with poverty and low educational achievement. People below the poverty line are about 60 percent more likely to smoke than people above the poverty line. Marginalized minorities such as Native Americans smoke at much higher rates than do nice white liberals in the suburbs, and people with GEDs smoke at nine times the rate of people with graduate degrees. People in rural areas and small towns in the South smoke at much higher rates than do people in Santa Monica.

Think of it this way: Smoking is a problem for people who shop at Walmart, but our public policies are made by the people who shop at Whole Foods. (Or who have their servants shop at Whole Foods.) And those people do not want to see young people in their communities doing something that even looks like smoking.

Of course people vape recreationally, and minors who are not legally able to buy vaping products get their hands on them and use them, albeit at relatively low frequency: Teen-age marijuana use, for example, is about 35 percent more frequent than teen-age vaping. And marijuana is of course much more heavily regulated than vaping.

12. More Church Rot: Michael Brendan Dougherty’s “Off the Shelf” column dives first into Jeff Pearlman’s USFL history, Football for a Buck, but it blends into a wonderful take on the ever-unfolding Church scandals, and it’s a terrific read. From his piece:

The picture of religious life and episcopal life is, as far as I can see, not improved at all. And the culture of therapeutic self-actualization remains ascendant in the Church. Weeks ago, when the revelations about Cardinal McCarrick were still pending but before the Vatican ambassador called out the pope, Cardinal Donald Wuerl gave a jaw-dropping interview in which he said that the McCarrick revelations were not some huge crisis. He then went on to talk about how bishops needed to give one another more support, implying that what they needed was more retreats together. It was astonishing. In the wake of reports about his predecessor’s systematically harassing seminarians in a beach house, Cardinal Wuerl suggested that it was nothing that couldn’t be solved with more vacation time.

Now that the Pennsylvania grand-jury report has exposed him as an enabler of abuse, and the former Vatican ambassador has accused him of being a shameless liar, Cardinal Wuerl has managed to get an audience with the pope, who told him to go home and consult with his own priests about whether he should resign. It’s not as if priests can easily jump from diocese to diocese. They have to live with Wuerl’s decision no matter what. So Wuerl has announced a six-week “season of healing.” No penitence, no accountability. Just an announcement that in six weeks, he expects his image to be rehabbed, and everyone else will have to move on. You weren’t healed during my season of healing? That’s on you, bub. As for me, it’s time for another retreat with the lads. Humanly speaking, the situation in the Church is hopeless.

RELATED: MBD’s essay links to this powerful 2003 speech by Father Paul Mankowski, a Jesuit, previewing (by over a decade) the clerisy’s looming breakdown.

ALSO RELATED: MBD’s update on Pope Francis v. Archbishop Viganò.

13. Victor Davis Hanson scores the demonization of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes. From his column:

No one so far has refuted the committee’s findings. Yet Chairman Nunes has become the subject of unprecedented venom, largely because a spate of further embarrassing scandals at the FBI, DOJ, and CIA have resulted from his committee’s findings.

Here in California’s Central Valley, progressive reporters and political activists snoop around the farms of Nunes’s relatives, eager to find any information that would be useful in discrediting his chairmanship. They have hunted down his wife, his grandmother, and his uncle in hopes of finding dirt. Reporters have even studied his family’s genealogy going back four generations to accuse him of being too loyal to Portugal.

The local newspaper, the Fresno Bee, suffers from chronic Devin Derangement Syndrome. Almost daily, the Bee runs anonymously sourced stories with headlines implying that Nunes could be treasonous, corrupt, or dishonest.

14. The Gang that Couldn’t Negotiate Straight: Matthew Continetti scores in a wonderful takedown of the Obama Administration’s clueless Iran Deal squad, using chief negotiator Wendy Sherman’s new book, Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and Persistence (did that test your gag reflex?) as a piñata. From the takedown:

“Diplomacy can test your patience,” Sherman writes. Especially diplomacy when your side — the United States — has already given up its leverage by ditching the economic sanctions the Obama administration reluctantly imposed, and, after the failure to enforce the red line in Syria, mooting the threat of military reprisal. “Every time one element of the deal changed, we had to renegotiate within the P5+1 and EU, then go back to the Iranians again.” It’s almost as if multilateral negotiations are self-limiting and the Iranians can’t be trusted. Perish the thought.

“After dinner on the 25th day, I met with Abbas Aragchi, Iran’s lead negotiator, with his partner, Majid Takht-Ravanchi to go over one final UN resolution.” Aragchi agreed. Then he backtracked. He wanted to reopen a matter previously considered closed. What happened next is the most stunning thing I have ever heard a diplomat reveal.

“I lost it,” Sherman continues. “I began to tell [sic], and to my frustration and fury, my eyes began to well up with tears. I told them their tactics jeopardized the entire deal.”

The Iranians sat there, “stunned” and “silent,” as the representative of the United States of America, the global economic and military superpower, broke down in the middle of a conference room inside a posh hotel in the Austrian capital. “Women are told early in life that it’s not socially acceptable to get angry,” Sherman laments. “And it’s a sign of weakness to let people see you cry.” Men are told that too, by the way.

15. Movie One. Kyle Smith zings The Predator. Here’s how his review begins:

First activated in 1987 (Lethal Weapon), the filmmaker Shane Black’s action-movie quip-inator (TM) has made him absurdly rich down the years of writing The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight (both flops, but whatever), and Iron Man 3. In his latest, The Predator, the quips come fast and heavy. There are about 50 of them. I’ll refrain from quotation, as they tend to begin with “Your mama’s vagina is so large . . .” All 50 of these zingers are almost funny, which means Black is sort of like a quarterback who throws 50 straight passes that almost get caught. In the NFL, alas, such a player would be cut, but in movieland, as long as you keep guys and monsters chasing other guys and monsters, with plenty of bullets flying and explosions exploding, you’re a top talent.

That was the thought behind many a 1980s blockbuster, anyway, and Black’s effort to rejuvenate the Predator franchise — whose sixth entry this is — is not a wry homage but a return to the era of the manful but cheesy. Black broadcasts his intentions right away by amping up a musical score, by Henry Jackman, that’s so comically gung-ho it sounds like a spoof from a South Park movie. This is disappointing: Black has become a specialist in self-aware moviemaking, in which characters comment sardonically on the imperatives of the genre they’re stuck in. The Predator, though, except for a line about how its titular Rastafarian aliens have been appearing on earth at mysterious intervals since 1987, isn’t self-aware. It’s just a choppy, lackluster, thinly written monster action flick peppered with the kinds of gags you thought were funny in puberty. “WELCOME PARENTS AND STDS,” reads a sign outside a school.

16. Movie Two: Armond White knocks out White Boy Rick. Get the smelling salts! What an opening paragraph:

Poor White Boy Rick can’t help being behind the times. Pop culture has already moved past the simple exoticism of filmmakers who pity blacks as socially disadvantaged creatures and then romanticize whites who imitate blacks as fascinating hipsters. In the Black Lives Matter era, blacks are encouraged to exploit their own cultural status: Political Fetish Objects Matter. Consequently, race envy is all that the barrage of street lingo and ghetto fatalism in White Boy Rick “represents,” which makes the movie totally out of fashion.

We Interrupt this Missive to Discuss an Evening of Wine, Women, and Song

Can you say that anymore? I’ll have to ask Norm Macdonald. Regardless, I am not sure about the women. Or the song. But there is beef! So to my California friends, of the Central Valley persuasion and proximity, you know the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant in Coalinga. That’s where, next Friday (September 21), you’re going for an exclusive “Winemaker’s Dinner.” Our friends at Harris and CRŪ Winery are planning an evening with like-minded people while enjoying one of the best meals you’ll have had in a long time.

If only I could be there: Executive Chef Reagan Roach will present a delicious array of wine-paired courses for this special VIP event. I’m told he loves creating seasonal dishes based on what the fields around him are producing and pairing unique flavors to complement each wine. And about those wines: They’re award-winning. And only the tastiest will do for an event like this, which is why Chef Roach is pairing his courses with glasses filled with CRŪ’s boutique-style (delicious — this I know!) vino.

Of course you’re going! Email or call CRŪ at 559-935-0717 to get more information. Tell ’em Jack sent ya, and let me know post facto how groovy a time you had.

Some Suggestions from the New Issue of NR

The October 1, 2018, issue of your favorite magazine has a special section of excellent articles in defense of that wonderful thing that needs our defending: The Constitution. Here are a few pieces from the issue which I encourage you to consider reading:

1. Charlie Cooke says the Bill of Rights never gets old. From his essay:

The idea for an American Bill of Rights had arisen as a result of the Constitution’s historically unique presumptions, which were radical for the time and remain radical to this day. As designed, the Constitution carefully listed the powers that the federal government enjoyed, and left everything else to the people and the states — a conscious inversion of the usual order of things. Typically, governments were presumed to enjoy all powers that they had not been explicitly denied; in America, the opposite was the case. On paper, this arrangement served as a solid guarantor of freedom, for if its terms were to be faithfully observed, its signatories could rest assured that only the authority they had consciously signed over would be wielded against them. Indeed, on paper, the arrangement obviated the need for any serious “parchment barriers” that might be raised against government overreach. Defending the unamended Constitution, Alexander Hamilton proposed that the addition of a Bill of Rights was self-evidently unnecessary and might even be dangerous. “Bills of Rights,” Hamilton wrote in Federalist 84, “are in their origin, stipulations between Kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince.” What use for one could the American republic possibly have?

This, of course, was an excellent question. And yet so was the answer, which came incessantly and vigorously from the Constitution’s many critics: that history teaches us how quickly government can metastasize, and confirms that a list of enumerated rights can serve as a useful rallying tool in the hands of those seeking redress against caprice. To assuage the cavilers, a compromise was struck: The Constitution would be ratified as written, and a Bill of Rights would subsequently be added, along with an explanatory note in the form of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Thus would all involved be satisfied, and would the added protections be reconciled with the ostensibly incompatible enumerated-powers doctrine.

2. Michael Stokes Paulson makes the emphatic case for the sanctity of originalism. From his essay:

This single correct method of constitutional interpretation travels under many names. I call it “original-public-meaning textualism,” emphasizing the text and the requirement that it be taken in its known, original sense. A convenient (if imprecise) shorthand term is simply “Originalism.” It contrasts, sharply, with any of a variety of progressive theories under which the Constitution’s meaning shifts, morphs, evolves, or otherwise transmogrifies to suit the needs or circumstances of the moment — and, typically, to serve the interpreter’s desired political agenda.

There are many good arguments in favor of Originalism: It is less subject to manipulation, produces greater clarity and consistency, better preserves democratic decision-making, and frequently yields better results than any other method. All of these points are true and important.

But the strongest argument for Originalism is simply that it is the method prescribed by the Constitution itself. It is the only method consistent with taking the Constitution on its own terms, as a binding, written document intended to function as supreme law. It is the only method consistent with the terms on which the Constitution claims to be authoritative. It is the only method consistent with the very idea of written constitutionalism. If what one is doing is interpreting a written constitution intended to serve as governing law, as opposed to engaging in some other project, one must take that constitution (literally) on its own terms.

3. Rob Long stumbles upon a transcript of Cory Booker’s 911 calls. Very funny stuff.

4. Jay Nordlinger has a love affair, with state fairs. From his article:

I think it’s extraordinary that state fairs are still going, in this age of screens, large and small, and whiz-bang entertainment. Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote their musical State Fair in 1945. It seemed old-fashioned, tinged with nostalgia, even then. Yet all 50 states have a state fair, and Washington, D.C., does too. Yes, D.C. . . .

New York’s state fair is the oldest one in the country. It began in 1841, right here in Syracuse. Among the activities was a plowing contest. For the next 50 years, the fair moved around to other cities in the state, including Poughkeepsie, Elmira — even New York City itself. In 1849, a proto–Ferris wheel was introduced to the world at the New York State Fair. Before long, the Civil War came, but the fair was held every year nonetheless. In 1890, the fair made Syracuse its permanent home.

They have every farm animal you can think of, and many animals you probably can’t think of. Cavies? Never heard of them. Conies, yes, from the Bible (they are bunnies, I gather). I look up “cavy” on my smartphone: “any of 14 species of South American rodents.”

Hey! Don’t forget to subscribe to NRPlus!


1. On today’s episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, Luke, and Michael discuss the president’s recent poll numbers, the anonymous (and disgraceful) New York Times op-ed, and the long-term effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Catch it here.

2. Haven’t listened yet, but on the new episode of The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg, the return guest (after quite a spell of an absence) is corn-pee prankster Senator Ben Sasse, who discusses with the program’s renowned host the Republican Party, the state of our government, and . . . cats. Enjoy the podcast purrrrfection.

3. Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a lead pipe: On the new “Where’s the Crime?” episode of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss developments in the case of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page and analyze ongoing FISA abuses. Collect the evidence here.

4. Piano Keys! On the 88th episode of Ordered Liberty, David and Alexandra take on the Left’s smear campaign against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and consider the Tucker Carlson question, “Is diversity really our strength?” Inquiring minds want to know, and can, here.

5. Shusaku Endo’s Silence is the subject of the new episode of John J. Miller’s The Great Books podcast, which features this week as its guest Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior. Enjoy the sounds of Silence here.

6. And JJM is joined on The Bookmonger by Hillsdale prof Brad Birzer to discuss his book, In Defense of Andrew Jackson. If you want to get your Old Hickory jollies, you can get them here.

Hey! Listen to Johnny Horton croaking The Battle of New Orleans.

7. Tough stuff on the new Mad Dogs and Englishmen as Charlie and Kevin discuss the Texas cop who entered the wrong apartment and shot her neighbor dead. Listen here.

8. Siding with California Democrat state officials, the federal Ninth Circuit orders conservative charities to hand over the names of donors; housing prices are killing Golden Staters before they’re even conceived; and the place where each morning birdie sings becomes the first state in the nation to end “cash bail”: That’s the issues lineup for the new episode of Radio Free California, featuring Will and David. A sun-kist miss says listen here.

This Week Past

My brother Jim recommends, and I agree, that WJ make reference to a particularly brave man who died in New York City on September 11, 2001. He knew it would happen, he prepared, and thousands survived that day because of him. I’m talking about Rick Rescorla. 

The Six

1. At Minding the Campus, Peter Wood profiles the SJW-instigated firing of a tenured Canadian professor, Rick Mehta, who charged that multiculturalism is a “scam.” Cue the Thought Police! From the report:

The Herald News of Halifax covered the story in “Acadia Fires Rick Mehta After Fire Storm over Comments.” To fire a tenured professor over his “comments” suggests that he must have uttered some pretty remarkable syllables. Granted that Canada doesn’t have First Amendment protections. What did Mehta do? Did he denounce hockey as a sport inferior to American baseball? Did he declare personal opposition to Canada’s tariff protections of its dairy industry?

No, rather, he described multiculturalism as a “scam.” Multiculturalism might be described as the official state religion of Canada, and Canadian universities as its schools of theology. The courage to call it out as a scam testifies that Professor Mehta must be a man of rare character. Let me say at once that I have never met him or even corresponded with him, and it is possible that he holds other opinions from which I would recoil in horror. But his stand on multiculturalism all by itself commands respect.

It is a stand that goes beyond that one word “scam.” He is accused as well of “denying the wage gap between men and women and dismissing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a vehicle for ‘endless apologies and compensation.’” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for readers below the 49th parallel, was a body created in 2008 by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to make things right with the native peoples of the country. It issued its final report in 2015, which includes 95 “calls to action” on many matters, from child welfare to indigenous languages. It is, in essence, a charter for permanent grievance by Canada’s native people against the descendants of all European immigrants. Many Native Americans in the United States look upon the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as their fondest dream.

2. Over at The Daily Signal, Danile Kochis reports on the Swedish elections — with crime and immigration emerging as the major issues — that have thrown the ever-ruling Social Democrats for a major loop. From his report:

The massive influx of migrants has come with an uptick in terror attacks and crime. In April 2017, a rejected asylum-seeker carried out a truck attack against pedestrians, killing five people and injuring nearly a dozen. Sweden has faced increasing gang violence, which is contributed to a dramatic increase in grenade attacks since 2014.

To this day, the news in Sweden is full of stories of rising crime, including 80 cars being burned in a coordinated attack in the city of Gothenburg last month. Three-fourths of Swedes say crime has increased over the past three years.

The data back this up. According to Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention, 2017 saw 4,010 more reported crimes than 2016. While Sweden has seen a decrease in some crimes like theft, other crimes — including sexual assaults — rose significantly during the same period. Rapes increased by 10 percent in 2017 alone.

RELATED: See John Fund’s NRO piece,In Sweden, the Elite Lost Touch with the People.

3. A federation of Asian-American organizations is blasting the UCal/Berkeley plan to establish racial quotas for admissions via a “Hispanic Serving Institution,” which requires 25 per cent of the student body to be Hispanic (the current numbers are nowhere close). No doubt at the expense of prospective Asian students. So Tom Joyce of The College Fix ably reports on this.

4. “Jobs for All, Not College for All” — that’s the title of a very readable and smart City Journal piece by my old pal Tom Carroll. From the piece:

President Trump, who issued an executive order on the promotion of job training in July, can do more, with congressional help, to highlight alternatives to expensive four-year degrees. New legislation could allow students pursuing apprenticeships and workforce-training programs to tap 529 college-savings accounts — set up on their behalf — to help pay for tuition and related expenses for job-training programs. Pell grants — the needs-based, federal financial-aid program for students — should be modified to allow greater choice. Presently, Pell grants can be used to cover tuition at a college or career training school, but only for long-term courses of study. These grants should be applicable as well for non-credit, short-term apprenticeship and workforce-training programs, as Tamar Jacoby of Opportunity America has suggested. The president and Congress should also embrace policies that would give federal tax credits to individuals and corporations donating money to such programs — including business- and labor-designed certification programs that lead to job offers for students on completion.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern profiles Hungary’s defense of its sovereignty and borders, and the backlash from the EU. From the beginning of his story:

The European Parliament has voted to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the European Union’s “fundamental values.” The EU has accused the Hungarian government of attacks against the media, minorities and the rule of law.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has denied the charges, and said they are a retaliation for his government’s refusal to take in migrants from the Muslim world.

The censure represents another salvo in a showdown between pro- and anti-EU forces over populism and nationalism ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019.

During a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on September 12, MEPs voted 448-to-197 — by a margin of more than two-thirds — to trigger Article 7 against Hungary. It was the first time that such parliamentary action has been taken against an EU member state; the move can ultimately lead to Hungary losing its voting rights in EU institutions.

6. What if Custer survived? At The American Conservative, Bradley Birzer takes on that subject as he reviews Harry Crocker’s new novel, Armstrong. Looks very funny, in a Flashman way. From the review:

Crocker creates a world in which Custer alone — at least among American military — survived that day, having been protected by Rachel, a white captive of the fictional Boyanama (!) band of Sioux. She claimed Custer as her slave, but he claimed her as his ward. As part of his captivity, the Sioux tattooed his arm, drawing a picture of his beloved wife, Libby on his biceps with the motto around it: “Born to Ride.” Escaping his captors, he decides that he must remain incognito, hoping to clear his name after the disaster at Little Bighorn. During the novel, in fact, he takes many names, all of them hilarious. The most frequent name he takes, however, is Armstrong Armstrong (yes, you read that correctly), thus the title of the novel.

My Kind of Gala in My Kind of Town

And that is what Chicago is, if we are to believe Old Blue Eyes. And we do! And believe you too this: that in a speck more than a mere month, on Thursday, October 18th, there will be one heck of a gala in the Windy City — namely, National Review Institute’s fifth annual William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner. And you need to be there. The affair will be held at The Cultural Center, and the expected highlight will be the bestowing of the Buckley Prize onour close friends,Edwin J. Feulner (Leadership in Political Thought) and Karen Buchwald Wright (for Leadership in Supporting Liberty). Now, especially if you live in the Midwest, we want very much for you to join us. This is a terrific way to support NRI and its great fellows, centers, and programs. Sponsorships are available, and individual tickets are $1,000. You can find complete information, and register, here. If you have any questions do contact Alexandra Zimmern Rosenberg by email ( or phone (212-849-2858).

Oyez Oyez! Come to the Annual NRI / PLF SCOTUS Preview Forum

Amigos this will be the fourth year in which National Review Institute and Pacific Legal Foundation are co-sponsoring a popular preview of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court term (which will consider a number of blockbuster cases) with a cabal of expert constitutional lawyers, hosted by the good people of Jones Day . . . and you’re invited to see and hear all the wisdom our panelists will impart.

Here are the key particulars: The forum is scheduled for Friday, September 28th at Jones Day’s Washington, D.C. offices on 300 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. (on the Senate side of Capitol Hill). Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., the forum begins at Noon, and concludes at 1:00 p.m. And if you are thinking, “Gee, I hope they are providing lunch,” well, you and your hunger will be in luck. And the vittles will be free (everyone’s favorite word preceding “lunch”). NRI senior fellow David French will introduce the forum, which will consist of panelists Paul Clement, David Frederick, and Shay Dvoretzky.

Space is limited (this really is a popular event), but attending is simple: just RSVP to We suggest you do that right now.


He was the greatest hitter ever for . . . the Federal League. Of course, when your “ever” is two years, the immensity of the feat may be a bit diminished. But nonetheless, a feat it was!

Benny Kauff was a dashing outfielder who played briefly for the Yankees . . . err, the Highlanders, in 1912, and the Giants from 1916 through 1920. He hit two home runs in Game 4 of the 1917 World Series, one an inside-the-park job in the Polo Grounds’ endless center field. The Giants won the game, 5–0, over the White Sox, but lost the Series in six. In between his stints for New York ballclubs, Kauff, antsy playing in the minors, and said to be blessed with a major ego, jumped to the new (and short-lived and largely forgotten) third circuit in 1914, signing with the Federal League’s Indianapolis Hoosiers (which in 1915 moved East and became the Newark Peppers). While the roster included future Hall of Famers Bill McKechnie and Edd Rousch, it was the 24-year-old hotshot Kauff who was the star, leading the league in batting (.370), hits (211), stolen bases (75), doubles (44), and slugging percentage (.509). The Hoosiers finished first in the league with an 88–65 record. Kauff’s 1915 season was spent with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, where the “Ty Cobb of the Federal League” again led the league in batting (.342), and stolen bases (55). Alas, Brooklyn ended the season with a measly 70–82 record.

As for Kauff: When the league disbanded after the 1915 season, he signed with the Giants, for whom he played several solid seasons (hitting .308 in 1917 and .315 in 1918, before he was drafted into the Army for WW1 service). But never quite lived up to his Federal League glory and promise (in fact, he was picked off from first base three times in one game in 1916, said to be a Major League record). And then Kauff’s career was cut short by a scandal: Accused of involvement in a (never proven) bribery plot to throw games, which piggybacked a criminal case in New York (he was found innocent of charges he had stolen an automobile), Kauff was essentially banned from baseball by the new prig of a commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Kauff did stay involved in the game as a scout for over two decades. He died in Ohio in 1961. Hopefully St. Peter did not pick him off.

A Dios

Speaking of Heaven, pray that you get there, and that we all do, and don’t forget the souls in Purgatory who could use a boost. And this weekend let’s think about those who are struggling with the impact of this brutal storm hitting the East Coast head on — be generous too in your support for the cleanup. The Corporal Works of Mercy demand it!

God bless you and all those you love or should love,

Jack Fowler is where you can reach me.


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