The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Busting Up America’s Chifforobe

Dear Jolter,

Your Correspondent is not sure how perfectly apt the subject line of today’s missive is or ain’t. But the inspiration for it, as represented by the attending image, is Rich Lowry’s brilliant column this week: Atticus Finch Was on the Wrong Side. It soooo catches the hypocritical Left in the hypocrisy that cannot be helped if you are an acolyte of the Alinsky School of Public Mayhemery.

Rich takes a sharp look at what was, to liberals (who somehow claimed ownership of To Kill a Mockingbird), their American novel, and sets it against the backdrop of the Kavanaugh Affairs and the Left’s decree of New Rules of Political Speech and the Reordering of Jurisprudence. You know: where the accuser and the accusation outrank and overrule the fundamental American principles of due process and the innocence (until proven otherwise) of the accused. And now where the accuser is to be untouched and unquestioned (and the questioner vilified).

“Poor Tom,” you say? What about poor Mayellah, eh?! She should have played that card against Atticus, who questioned her and her despicable dad about facts . . . alleged ones. In other words, allegations. From Rich’s column:

It is revealed that Ewell is lying. She had made an advance on Robinson and gotten caught by her vicious, racist father. The charge of rape against Robinson was a cover story, although the bigoted jury convicts him anyway.

To Kill a Mockingbird stands firmly for the proposition that an accusation can be false, that unpopular defendants presumed guilty must and should be defended, and that it is admirable and brave to withstand the crowd — at times in the story, literally the lynch mob — when it wants to cast aside the normal protections of justice.

Exactly what has made Atticus Finch such an honored figure in our culture would make him a very inconvenient man at many college campuses today, where charges of sexual misconduct are adjudicated without the accused being allowed to confront the accuser or make use of other key features of our system of justice. Finch is a rebuke to the shift from a presumption of innocence toward a presumption of guilt that now attends accusations of sexual harassment and assault. He didn’t believe that someone’s being accused of something is enough to establish his wrongdoing, or accept that a category of people were, by definition, to be under a pall of suspicion.

What won’t the Left stand on its head, or just plain bust up. Power, not institutions, is what matters. And if these United States of Chifforobe get turned into kindling in the process, well, too bad for you and your White Male Privilege. Anyway, Rich exposes this hypocrisy brilliantly, as do many other NR writers, always, but especially these last weeks of Verdun-like politics.

By the Way . . .

In particular to those of you who live and breathe and wine and dine and luxuriate in NRO — in these past contentious weeks you have seen, or been reminded maybe, of just how vital this journalistic child of Bill Buckley is, just how critical its presence and endurance matters to America. We’re having our fundraising webathon. Charlie Cooke has made a most literate and wise case for why your support is something we truly need. Now. Your Correspondent would like to think he can expect and count on all who 1. read this, 2. have a conscience, and 3. agree with NR’s indispensability, that you will 4. make a kind contribution. Done safe and sound, here.


1. ‘Twas reading this while humming Tom Dooley, which might not have been a good omen. Anyway, we say, Do the Right Thing, Jeff Flake. From the editorial:

Democrats are, predictably, complaining that the FBI investigation was too limited in duration and scope. But since there is no evidence for Ford’s account beyond her own memory — and she herself testified before the Senate last week under oath — there wasn’t much for the FBI to probe. Flake specifically said he wanted the FBI to talk to Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, and it did. Flake today said he considers the probe thorough. Despite what Democrats say now, Flake’s idea last week wasn’t to undertake a weeks-long investigation into whatever is the latest Democratic assault on Kavanaugh, from college drinking to the meaning of slang terms.

Flake’s own convictions should move him to vote for Kavanaugh — not just his constitutionalism (as Flake has said repeatedly, he’s a conservative inclined to support the conservative Kavanaugh) but his concern about our political norms. If he votes against Kavanaugh, he will reward a disgraceful campaign of character assassination that is a low point in our recent politics and in the history of the U.S. Senate. If Flake wants our political debate to be more elevated, he can’t join the lynch mob that has accused Kavanaugh of everything from lying about the term “boofing” to helping run a gang-rape ring as a teenager.

2. Kavanaugh onslaught: The ever-changing focus of charges against the nominees took on claims earlier in the week that he had committed perjury. As we have with many of the other inane political charges made, NR said . . . farce. From the editorial:

None of the people Ford identifies as witnesses to her story say that they recall the party. (Another perjury charge against Kavanaugh is that he exaggerates how exculpatory these witnesses are, but this makes him guilty of slight error, not deceit.) As a report outlined by Judiciary Committee outside counsel Rachel Mitchell makes clear, Ford has repeatedly changed some key details of her account and cannot remember others. (If Kavanaugh had similar slip-ups, the critics would be crying “perjury” about that too.) Mitchell argues that Ford’s allegation does not meet even a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.

The case against Kavanaugh is constantly changing, but one thing has stayed the same: Democrats will make any argument, no matter how implausible or over-the-top, to try to sink him.

3. As WJ was wrapping up, Senator Susan Collins was speaking on the Senate floor, sticking a fork in the Democrats’ turkey with a speech making the case for Justice Kavanaugh. We find her particular action commendable. From the beginning of our editorial:

We are not prone to praising Susan Collins. But we are delighted to make an exception for her impressive speech on the Senate floor this afternoon explaining why she’ll vote “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh. A process that has often been disgusting—exposing the bottomless bad faith of Senate Democrats and the hysterical partisanship of much of the mainstream media—reached the beginning of the end with a careful, thoughtful, and persuasive presentation by Senator Collins.

She rightly excoriated the last few weeks as akin to “a gutter-level political campaign.” She was appropriately angry over the charges surfaced by guttersnipe attorney Michael Avenatti that Judge Kavanaugh was allegedly part of a gang-rape ring as a teenager—a charge that, lest we forget, was taken seriously by the press and Democrats. She blasted whoever on the Democratic side leaked to the press Dr. Ford’s letter to the committee.

For Posterity’s Sake, as this was a Generational Struggle, We Suggest These Wise and Essential Pieces on The Battle of Kavanaugh, and Then Some

1. More from Rich Lowery, this time on how the claims that Kavanaugh lied are bogus. From his column:

Kavanaugh never denied going to keg parties, or — to cite the recent reporting — enthusiastically planning his high-school friends’ excursion for beach week, or getting in a barroom scuffle at Yale. If Kavanaugh had been asked about any of these specifically and denied them, his critics would have a case for dishonesty that simply doesn’t exist.

They object that Kavanaugh put too much emphasis on the “choirboy” parts of his record, but what obligation was he under to talk about, say, the Ralph Club over and above his academic and athletic record, when he was being fiercely pressed by opponents determined to assassinate his character?

2. Victor Davis Hanson weighed in with a brilliant analysis, that the Left’s antics and tactics polluting America’s campuses have now come to Capitol Hill. From his piece:

On campus, all can present equally valid narratives. What privileges one story over another is not necessarily any semblance to reality, at least as established by evidence and facts. Instead, powerful victimizers supposedly “construct” truths based on their own self-interests. As a result, self-described victims of historical biases are under no obligation to play by what they consider to be rigged rules of facts, evidence, or testimony.

This dynamic explains why Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J) insisted that Dr. Ford told “her truth.” In other words, evidence was not so relevant. Ford’s story of events from 36 years ago inherently would have as much claim on reality as Kavanaugh’s rebuttal — and perhaps more so, given their different genders and asymmetrical access to power.

There was little interest in discovering the ancient idea of “the Truth.” To do that would have required the messy work of taxing the memories of teenage behavior nearly four decades prior.

Truth-finding would have required difficult, time-honored examinations of physical evidence, the testimony of witnesses, and even unpleasant cross-examinations about the time and place of the allegations. Feelings might have been hurt. Motives might have been questioned, as they are under constitutional norms of due process.

Also on the campus, the race and gender of people now increasingly determine who we are.

3. The women who have known Kavanaugh all his life came out swinging on his behalf. Alexandra DeSanctis recounts some remembrances of a decidedly decent guy. From her report:

Julie DeVol is also one of the women Kavanaugh referenced in his testimony, and she tells National Review they became best friends after they met in 1980 through a group of high-school friends. “We used to get each other dates to dances and different events, but he and I never went to dances together because we were like brother and sister,” she says.

DeVol said several times throughout our conversation that Kavanaugh was always the patient, responsible one in their friend group. “He was always there taking care of us,” she says. “I was a year younger, and he was like my big brother. He wouldn’t let any guys mess around with you. If anybody was drinking, he would be the one taking care of you. Not everyone in his friend group was like that, but he always was.

And that was true all the time, not just when their friends were spending time together on weekends or at parties. “He used to always help me with my homework over the phone,” DeVol adds. “My mom would say we couldn’t talk on the phone until I had done my homework, so he’d walk me through my math problems and other work so that we could talk.”

4. Jonah Goldberg says lefties should be thrilled that a “strict constructionist” such as Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to SCOTUS. From his column:

Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative to the core, hated flag burning just as much as those on the right who favored banning it, but he ruled it constitutionally protected free speech all the same. On criminal procedure, he was often the defendant’s best friend on the Court. Neil Gorsuch, appointed by Trump, is another conservative in the Scalia mold, and in one of his first decisions he joined with the four liberals to deliver a defeat to the Trump administration in Sessions v. Dimaya, an immigration case. Kavanaugh himself threw out one of the first Obamacare lawsuits — hardly the act of a rank partisan.

Progressives have won so many policy battles by relying on activist courts to do things they could not achieve at the ballot box, they’ve come to see an activist Supreme Court as a birthright. As a result, the Court has been politicized far more than it should be. Progressives have convinced themselves that nothing could be worse than a Brett Kavanaugh on the bench. But they could do far worse, and they should count themselves lucky that conservatives such as Kavanaugh still believe the Court belongs to no faction save the Constitution itself.

5. The “gang-rape” claims levelled against Kavanaugh — and instantly legitimized by an activist media — get a deserved smack-down from David French. From his piece:

While we should dismiss Swetnick’s claims as lacking credibility, we cannot allow this incident to disappear from public consciousness. The furious response to those who questioned Swetnick’s claims, and the credulousness that led even Senator Dianne Feinstein to ask about them at a Senate hearing says something disturbing about the extent to which “believe women” — combined with partisan hatred so intense that we’re willing to believe the worst about our opponents — can sometimes morph into “believe anything.”

And it’s not just “believe anything”; it’s “believe the wildest of claims while also insulting anyone who dares dissent.”

In the face of intensely emotional topics such as alleged sex crimes (or, really, any crime that violates the human body), it’s vital that we slow down, drain our response as much as we can of partisan bias, and consider not our own experience but rather the evidence in front of us. And we also have to consider that other people of good will can consider the same evidence and reach different conclusions. We can honor the pain of victims (and honor the pain of the wrongly accused) without allowing that pain or injustice to dictate conclusions about guilt or innocence in any case.

6. More French: David scores the contempt the Ivy League Left has for conservatives who may share their habits but not their beliefs. From his piece:

It turns out that it’s not just hard to escape high school, it’s hard to escape your freshman dorm. If you never really get over your insecurity at prom, you also don’t truly get over your insecurity at belonging to a perceived out-group at Yale.

If you haven’t attended an Ivy, these resentments look ridiculous. If you have attended an Ivy, you know these resentments are ridiculous. The social battles of the elite college represent the squabbling of men and women at the tip of the privilege spear in the most powerful nation in the history of the planet.

But as real as these petty resentments were and are, they pale in comparison to the most important thing. They miss the real roots of Ivy rage. Brett Kavanaugh’s true sin isn’t his connections, his popularity, or his prep school. His true sin is that he’s a conservative. And now he’s a particular kind of conservative — a conservative who matters, a conservative who will have the power (and might actually have the convictions) to threaten one or more of the most sacred elements of progressive jurisprudence. He can potentially affect the law and the culture in a profound way.

7. The gossip-mongering MSM comes in for a comeuppance from Charlie Cooke, who takes on The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer for their “journalism” on an evidence-free claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself in college to a fellow Yalie. From the end of his piece:

As if to add insult to injury, Farrow and Mayer then descend into lazy high-school gossip-mongering. Having left Appold behind, they quote “two high-school acquaintances of Kavanaugh’s,” whose anonymous case against the judge seems to have been that he was a football jock. (How far we have come from the topic of sexual assault.) Throughout, the words of the acquaintances are couched in cop-out phrases such as “the impression I formed” and “seemed to be,” while Farrow and Mayer’s descriptions carry heavy caveats such as “while he might not be remembering the rhyme word-for-word.” The accusations, likewise, are heavy on implication and light on detail. “He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh physically attacking another student,” one reads, “but he recalled him doing” nothing to stop it. He also may have laughed once when someone around him said words.

And therefore . . . what? Oh, yes. Therefore it is a disgrace that the FBI is not rushing to get these oracles onto the record.


RELATED: Last month Charlie had also slammed The New Yorker with its weaselly, fact-less piece on Kavanaugh.

8. The polygraph hoopla brought on by Ford’s accusation of Kavanaugh gets a dose of reality from Jibran Kahn. From the start of his piece:

Recent weeks have seen various forms of evidence, rightly discredited by reformers for their tendency to mislead, being rehabilitated in the hopes that they might “get” Brett Kavanaugh. Politics has always featured cheap tricks and sloppy expressions of principle, but the sheer scale and promotion of these techniques in the coverage of the Kavanaugh case signal a dangerous trend. My point here is not to argue for his innocence or for his guilt, but to correct some misconceptions — the truth of which our political classes have seen fit to blatantly ignore. This is important because the legal system does not confine itself to one person at a time. Ideas and policies made popular here will have a ripple effect.

Polygraphs have featured heavily in the discussion because the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, took one (albeit with a very unusual set of questions). And why shouldn’t they? We’ve all seen spy films and crime dramas with truth-detecting polygraphs, the scourge of the guilty, which only psychopaths have a chance to thwart; their efficacy is broadly accepted, much like the harmlessness of sugar or the fact that lightning never strikes the same place twice. The power of the polygraph is widely believed, and on a bipartisan basis. Jeff Sessions has called for their use in the White House as a way to catch leakers, and Kamala Harris highlighted Ford’s polygraph and Kavanaugh’s lack of one. There is, however, a hitch. Despite the senators’ endorsement, psychologists have argued for decades that polygraphs are built on pseudoscience, and the Supreme Court was aware of this consensus by 1998.

9. Matthew Scully looks at great men past (Robert Casey) and present (Brett Kavanaugh) and wonders about honor, courage, and if the son might be up to his father’s standards and decency and manhood. From his piece:

A little more wishful is one final thought. There is another dramatic “yes” vote a lot of us would like to see — from the Democratic senator who, more than anyone in the chamber, should understand the stakes: Robert P. Casey Jr. Everything to be admired in yesterday’s Democratic party was summed up in the figure of the senator’s late father, remembered as a gallant champion of life, a man of unshakable conviction, and the last guy his party’s leadership would dare try to push around.

The governor would have seen right through the smear on a superbly qualified nominee, and he would not have stood for it. Surely the senator sees through it too. And if so, then perhaps the scene is set for his own moment of greatness. A senator who works in the very office space once occupied by the author of Profiles in Courage should need no further prompting. A reckless and arrogant political mob has forgotten that there is such a thing as honorable dissent. Who better to remind them than a Pennsylvania Democrat named Casey?

10. Seriously . . . a SCOTUS nomination debate fixated on a synonym for fart? Robert VerBruggen sniffs out the “boof” sleuthing.

11. The Kavanaugh outrage is deeply rooted in the Left’s abortion obsession, explains Kevin Williamson. From his Corner post:

The Left’s meltdown over Brett Kavanaugh — which will be born again in an even bigger and more hysterical form if President Trump and a Republican Senate have the opportunity to nominate another justice or two — is a reminder that the abortion-rights movement and the gun-rights movement are in many ways mirror images of one another. . . .

The gun-rights movement has an advantage: the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment is right there in black and white (or black and parchment) explicitly recognizing the right of the people — not the state, not the National Guard — to keep and bear arms. The abortion-rights movement doesn’t have a plank in the Bill of Rights: It took an act of extraordinary judicial activism to invent one for them.

And that is what terrifies the Left about the current direction of the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade represents ill-gotten political gains. While the NRA got a big win in the courts a few years back — one entirely in keeping with the actual text of the Constitution as it exists, not as progressives wish it were — it mainly has advanced its agenda and defended its agenda and defended its gains through ordinary democratic politics. It is not, contrary to the myth, a particularly big political donor or spender (not even in the top 100 last I checked) that gets things done by throwing money around. Until its recent (and, in my view, ill-advised) metamorphosis into a full-spectrum culture-war outfit, the NRA was a very disciplined and narrowly focused single-issue outfit, which made it truly bipartisan: Harry Reid may have been a train wreck on 99.99 percent of the issues, but he was solid on guns, and the NRA credited him for that.

12. More Kevin: Of late NR has written and editorialized about the imprisonment of Frank Fuster, a.k.a. Janet Reno’s last victim, from the contrived “Satanic” day-care abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s. KDW considers the fits that prompt such mass hysterias. From his essay:

Our public-policy discourse is dominated by members of our elites and hence tends to reflect elite interests and, at times, elite hysterias. A great deal of attention has been paid in recent years to the epidemic of rape on our nation’s college campuses. That epidemic is a fiction — it simply does not exist, and the data suggest that women in college are less likely than women in the general population to be raped. We are not having a national discussion of rape on Indian reservations, in remote communities in Alaska, or in poor urban areas — i.e., in the places where the incidence of rape is in fact elevated. During the Satan-ritual-abuse panic — and at this minute — one of the most likely places for a child to experience sexual abuse is in the home, especially in “blended” families in which minors cohabit with adult men to whom they are not biologically related. Mothers’ live-in boyfriends and stepfathers commit a great deal more sexual abuse than do the nefarious minions of Satan in underground cults.

But of course the reality — that this world is the mess we make of it — is too painful to accept.

There are legitimate concerns about how American police operate, but there isn’t an epidemic of police shooting unarmed black men. Mass killings on the Columbine model are neither a new phenomenon nor a uniquely American one. The administration of justice in the Dallas suburbs is not being handed over to imams operating sharia courts. Occult powers are not behind our current state of affairs: not Satan, not Moloch, not “white privilege,” not “patriarchy,” not “toxic masculinity,” not capitalism, not the Koch brothers, not George Soros, not the “International Jew,” not the NRA, not Brett Kavanaugh.

13. Going, going, going . . . gone? Not yet? From the Tory Conference, John O’Sullivan scopes out the Long Goodbye (PMExit?) of Theresa May. From his piece:

Theresa May did not actually lose the 2017 election — she led Labour by two points in the popular vote — but she lost her party’s parliamentary majority in an election that was generally expected to produce a Tory landslide. That near-defeat was plainly attributable both to her own robotic campaign performance and to her policies — such as the so-called “dementia tax” that alienated older voters, a natural Tory constituency. She should have been defenestrated then.

May was able to hold on as PM because Conservatives thought she would unite the party in support of implementing Brexit, after which she would smilingly resign and be given the credit for a historic achievement. That was naïve, of course: What political leader resigns after a great achievement? But what no one then expected is that May would pursue a policy designed to ensure that Brexit never occurs — or that what does occur is Remain lightly disguised as Brexit, or worse.

Worse than Remain? Well, yes. May’s Brexit proposals — now known as “Chequers,” after the PM’s country house, where they were imposed on a surprised cabinet days after May had personally assured the secretary of state for exiting the EU that she had no such intentions — would effectively keep Britain inside the EU’s single market (i.e., by accepting its current and future regulations) and its customs union, and keep it subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice while forfeiting its votes in all EU institutions.

14. Conrad Black praises Trump Triumphant as only Conrad can. It will be hard to find a more praiseworthy assessment of POTUS. Here’s how it ends:

If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed and the Republicans hold both houses of the Congress, it will be the greatest and swiftest ascension to comprehensive power in all branches of American government in history. A measurement of how the tide has shifted is the disappearance from public consciousness of the Mueller inquiry. The number of Trump-haters who are still clinging to that waterlogged life-vest is statistically trivial. It was just six weeks ago, when Michael Cohen’s plea bargain was announced and Paul Manafort was convicted (of offenses that occurred a decade before he knew the president), that Trump’s enemies ululated their triumph and proclaimed, in the words of one often-published Trump-hater, that “The fat lady is singing; it’s almost over.” She wasn’t and it isn’t. It has only just begun, and it will get better. Trump isn’t an aberrant interlude; he is a sea change. He has a mandate to clean up Washington and he plans to fulfill it.

15. The second of Michael Knox Beran’s two essays on the elite’s “gospel of cyber-utopia and globalist conformity.” Here is how it commences:

Today’s elites portray themselves as champions of community.

Mark Zuckerberg invokes the power of Facebook to help “one billion people” build “meaningful communities.” The World Economic Forum, sponsor of the Davos conference, persuades itself that the “common denominator” of the young talent it is grooming for planetary leadership “is a desire to act and meaningfully contribute to the public good.” In fact our classes supérieures are committed to a dehumanizing brew of globalist conformity and cyber-utopianism, one that is destroying older forms of common life and the places in which they flourish, with unhappy consequences for the soul.

To be sure, the moguls insist that their cosmopolitan vision of multiculturalism and online solidarity promotes tolerance and respect for different cultures and communities. But in reality it is producing an appalling sameness hardly less corrosive than discrimination itself, as what is distinctive in particular traditions is boiled down in the global melting pot to an insipid uniformity.

The bankers and tech magnificos who in the Alpine councils of Davos sip Veuve Clicquot with regulators ensconced in supranational organizations are in thrall to perhaps the most subtle and dangerous prophet of global regimentation and lowest-common-denominator humanity, Alexandre Kojève, the enigmatic Russian philosopher who as a civil servant under de Gaulle drafted the blueprint for the European Union.


1. The Editors does double duty. In the new episode, Rich, Charlie, Reihan, and MBD review the Kavanaugh onslaught and the recent NAFTA overhaul. Ya gotta listen, and ya gotta do that here.

2. But wait . . . there’s more. The National Pastime beckons, so Rich, Dan McLaughlin, MBD, and Jason Epstein talk playoffs and World Series for a special “All About Baseball” episode of The Editors. Batter up, here.

3. As we approach the centennial of the birth of Russell Kirk, John J. Miller has the sense to make the new episode of The Great Books an homage to his classic, The Conservative Mind, from Burke to Eliot. Kirk expert James E. Person, Jr. does the honors of appearing with John. Hear here.

4. JJM next dons his Bookmonger chapeau to discuss with our esteemed colleague Reihan Salam his new book, Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Aaginst Open Borders. Heady stuff. Catch the podcast here.

5. On the new edition of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich focus on Kavanaugh, the New York Times’ story on Trump’s taxes, and Rod Rosenstein. Listen here.

6. The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg celebrates its first year with a new episode featuring Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, co-authors of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. Two guests means stereo wisdom, so put on the good headphones and listen here.

7. Jaywalking finds Brother Nordlinger discussing bees and politics and sports. It’s a honey of a listen. Do that here.

8. On the new episode of Ordered Liberty, David and Alexandra talk about three things: Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh. Go on, listen. You know you want to.

9. Capital Times reporter Jessie Opoien joins Scot “Snow Miser” Bertram and Jeff “Heat Miser” Blehar on the new episode of Political Beats to discuss the band Old 97s. Grab a cold one, crank up the volume, and listen. Do it here.

10. On the new episode of Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke delve into the Second Amendment: Where did it come from, what did it mean, how was it implemented, and does it still make sense? Well-armed militiamen and all others should listen here.

11. Last but never ever least, my beloved Radio Free California compadres Willie S and Davey B focus on how California lawmakers are spinning out new laws and hoping for epic battles in the political Resistance that dearly wishes to make Sacramento its epicenter. Live, learn, listen.

The Six

1. Asked, by the writer “thehistorian” at the UK blog Public Policy and the Past: Is the Labour Party institutionally racist? Here’s how the answer begins:

Is the UK Labour party institutionally anti-Semitic? Almost unbelievably, that has become a real live matter of public debate over the last few months – a development that previous generations of Labour activists and members could scarcely have imagined. Once upon a time, Labour seemed like the natural choice for Britain’s Jewish community. Labour was of course a rallying-point for all Britain’s non-Anglicans, as the Conservatives represented Deep England’s Established Church; it was an anti-racist Party that welcomed all-comers; it was friendly towards Israel, or at least sympathetic to that country’s situation. Most (though by no means all) Jews thought of Labour as their home.

Not so today, after more than three years of mounting tension between Labour and the Jewish community. This year’s local elections showed that Jewish communities in (for instance) Barnet have had enough of Labour — and will boot out their councillors where they live in enough numbers to make that choice. What we know from opinion polling is that Labour’s vote has crashed to almost nothing among Jews — and that for instance 85% of them regard the Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as quite simply an anti-Semite. There are some dissenting voices, to be sure: but that’s the picture taken as a whole.

Why has this happened? Well, let’s just take a look at the whole sorry farrago. To be honest, it’s exhausting just trying to give you a list, but here’s an initial reckoning with these frankly astonishing events. Over the past few years, it’s become clear that a minority of Labour members and office-holders — a group of very hard-to-determine size, though perhaps it amounts to some thousands or tens of thousands — hold very worrying views about Jews. We’ve had councillor after councillor, officer after officer, member after member, repeating the same awful hate speech as if they think it’s okay. Apparently ‘Zionists’ run the world’s press. Or the banks. Or the ‘deep state’. Or the whole international economy. Apparently they’ve organised themselves into a sinister cabal biased against the Left, determined to prevent real people taking a real leading role in public life. Apparently they’ve got money and they’re influencing our politics behind the scenes. Apparently some Jews have divided loyalties as between the UK and Israel. And so on. And on. This sort of thing has become such a constant drumbeat of low-level fear and loathing that it’s often forgotten amidst the shrapnel storm of Labour’s unending civil war — though it shouldn’t be.

2. In 2017, New York voters passed, overwhelmingly, a referendum amending the state constitution to permit stripping corrupt and convicted lawmakers of their public pensions. The amendment’s language required Albany elected officials to pass an implementing law . . . which they have conveniently failed to do. For City Journal, James Coll reports on how some guys can splurge at the prison commissary. From his piece:

Sheldon Silver was due to begin his seven-year sentence this week for violating the law, the public trust, and the responsibilities of his office as assembly speaker — a position he occupied for 21 years. Though a federal judge has stayed his entry date while Silver appeals his conviction, many New Yorkers are justifiably pleased to see Silver heading off to jail, viewing his conviction as a long-overdue draining of the Albany swamp. With recent convictions of other top players in state politics, it appears that New York may have begun to clean itself up.

But while Silver is eventually going to prison, he won’t lose a single taxpayer-funded pension paycheck of $6,602 per month, even while serving his time behind bars. And in spite of his own federal conviction, former New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos also continues to receive a $95,831 annual pension, courtesy of New York taxpayers. If this makes you angry — as it should — it might further upset you that these ill-gotten pensions could have been eliminated if our elected lawmakers had done their job properly during the most recent legislative session.

3. At The American Conservative, the bail-bond system — and reforming it — is the subject of a very interesting essay by Lars Trautman. From his piece:

With law enforcement making over 10 million arrests every year in the United States, a growing number of Americans regularly face the prospect of a money bail. For example, the percentage of felony defendants required to post bail rose from 37 percent in 1990 to 61 percent in 2009. Numbers this large have ensured that commercial bail bonds remain a multi-billion dollar business that impacts hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

Furthermore, while large scale data on bail remains elusive, the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report estimates that 38 percent of defendants in the nation’s largest counties and cities were detained prior to trial, and that nine in 10 of these defendants had a money bail set but were unable to post it.

The negative ramifications of even a short pretrial detention extend well beyond the loss of freedom for the individual. A jail stay can be personally traumatic; it can put a person’s job and housing in jeopardy and throw family and childcare obligations into chaos.

And let’s not forget that all of these circumstances are being visited upon an individual who is still considered legally innocent until proven guilty.

4. Cardinal Idea: Crux reports on the formation of the “Better Church Governance” group, underwritten by wealthy Catholics to fund audits of “all 124 current papal electors.” Organizers say the “Red Hat Report” dossiers will be . . .

conducted by a team of, to date, nearly 100 researchers, academics, investigators, and journalists, with the aim “to hold the hierarchy of the Catholic Church accountable for abuse and corruption, and to develop and support honesty, clarity, and fidelity in Church governance.

5. Academic-journal hoaxers James Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and new instigator Helen Pluckrose are at it again, unmasking “grievance studies.” Greg Piper at The College Fix has the amazing story. From the article:

The trio’s first publishing success came in April with the journal Fat Studies. “Who Are They to Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat Bodybuilding” argued that only “oppressive cultural norms” have convinced society that building muscle is more admirable than building fat.

It suggested that “fat bodies” be displayed in “non-competitive ways as a part of professional bodybuilding” to benefit both “fat activism” and bodybuilding, according to the project summary.

The trio wanted to show that journals will accept arguments that are “positively dangerous to health if they support cultural constructivist arguments.” One reviewer praised the paper for presenting “fat bodybuilding” as a “way to disrupt the cultural space” of bodybuilding.

Next was Gender, Place and Culture, a “journal of feminist geography” that accepted and published the dog-park paper in May. It argued that dog parks “become rape-condoning spaces in which human rape culture plays out by the moral permissiveness we extend to animals.”

Studying the rape culture of dog parks can “provide insights into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone,” they wrote in the project summary. “Arguably our most absurd paper.”

6. NRI Buckley Journalism Fellow Madeleine Kearns follows up on her recent NR piece on transgender-mania with a piece in The Spectator on how the U.K. and Scottish school systems are training teachers to cut mommy and daddy out of their dealings with kids. From her piece:

It’s not just in Scotland. A trainee teacher in England who took part in a compulsory class on transgender issues last week told me it was run by the mother of a trans child on behalf of Mermaids, a charity which ‘raises awareness about gender nonconformity’. Teachers were told that gender is a spectrum and shown a graph with Barbie at one end and GI Joe at the other. They were asked to consider where they and their students would fit on this chart. Posters and stickers encouraged children to contact Mermaids directly if they didn’t feel they could talk to their teachers about trans issues.

Where are the parents in all of this? They are often not told if their child is worried about their gender. During my training, we were told to avoid ‘outing’ potential transgender children to their families. If the child so wished, we might want to keep mummy and daddy out of the loop. Un-believably, this is in line with Scottish government guidelines.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the clinical term gender dysphoria. This is a well-established medical diagnosis for when a person experiences a strong incongruence, and accompanying distress, between their perceived gender and their biological sex. Gender dysphoria is on the rise. The NHS’s leading specialist clinic, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, has seen an increase of over 400 per cent in the number of young people referred to its Gender Identity Development Service in the past four years. That’s 2,519 children (more than two-thirds of them girls) potentially put on powerful hormone treatments with the intention of delaying puberty and allowing full surgical reassignment in future.

BONUS: Good old pal Gerald Russello, who is the editor of University Bookman, reviews Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero, by Christopher Di Spigna, for the Wall Street Journal. Here’s how the review begins:

Before George Washington, before Thomas Jefferson, even before Alexander Hamilton, there was Joseph Warren. A British commander once called him “the greatest incendiary in all America.” Warren stood at the center of the colonial intrigue against the British in Boston, yet his story has largely been obscured by history. The future of America’s nascent revolution was still in doubt in 1775 when Warren, at the age of 34, was shot and killed during the Battle of Bunker Hill. At the time, he was still considered a rebel and traitor to the King: There was not yet a Declaration of Independence, no Articles of Confederation, no Constitution, no United States. Warren and his allies set the groundwork for these milestones of independence during a period when the majority of colonists were still opposed to armed rebellion.

In “Founding Martyr,” Christian Di Spigna has produced a gripping biography of one of the American Revolution’s earliest activists. This is no whitewashed version of the Founding. Mr. Di Spigna’s Boston is a rough place, with violence on all sides and a growing suspicion of British rule. The British army physically abused its soldiers; colonists tarred and feathered those thought sympathetic to the crown; public executions were grisly social occasions; slave markets, with their normalized brutality, still existed. And over it all lingered the constant fear of disease.

Lights. Cameras. Punditry.

1. Hollywood is on its fourth iteration of A Star is Born (I prefer the 1954 remake with Judy Garland, James Mason, and the always terrific Jack Carson). Of the new version, with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, Armond White says it has been remade . . . the wrong way. You’ve got to read the whole review but this one paragraph is Armond at his Armondiest:

But Gaga’s Ally, a girl of great confidence (and anger), is vulgar and foul. She pretends “innocence” by presenting “goomara” toughness as an ethnic- and gender-based essence. But confidence alone could not make Madonna into an actress, and something harsh and brazen in Gaga thwarts the movie-musical fantasy that desire and sincerity bloom and naturally burst forth during the “Far from the Shadows” number that is staged as the film’s star-making moment. But it doesn’t work. Gaga’s over-singing lacks the crucial emotional release. Ally’s reticence about her looks, lamenting her large nose, is unconvincing since Streisand forever erased that ethnic insecurity from showbiz. Instead, bug-eyed Gaga seems anomic and never conveys emotional depth. She has already internalized too many personality shticks and takes the stage as an already fully formed performer (pointing a tyrannical finger at new adoring fans), part of her post-postmodern Cindy Sherman act. It’s laughable that Ally’s makeover into a bump-and-grind redheaded vamp is supposed to certify her rise. What this characterization needs is a meat dress.

2. Kyle Smith sees the same film and also cannot find nice things to say. From his review:

Cooper never explores how horrifying alcoholics can be because, like most actors directing themselves, he doesn’t want to come off too repellent or abusive. He never comes across as the truly hollowed-out soul that March’s and Mason’s Norman Maine so memorably were. Cooper, who shot this film at the same age Elvis Presley was when he died, looks nothing like end-stage Elvis (who turned down the lead in the 1976 version): He looks cool. Ruggedly handsome. Athletic. Even when he lashes out at his lady, it’s only because she insulted his dad and is betraying her talents.

As Ally, whom Jackson first meets when he stumbles into a drag bar desperate for a drink, Gaga plays a character much like Streisand’s, and she shares with Streisand a generous nasal endowment. Her performance is stellar, particularly in the early going, when she seems fragile and uncertain and goes easy on the makeup and hair for a change. But Ally is also a thing of cliché: Innocent and eager and never sullied by the demands of the business, she also comes from one of those stereotypical working-class Italian families in which everyone talks about Frank Sinatra at all times. Her arc is simplistic as well; the main change that comes over her is cosmetic. As time goes on she looks more and more like . . . Lady Gaga. Jackson chides her for losing touch with her folky singer-songwriter roots, but that isn’t much of a conflict. It’s hard to fault Ally for abandoning a style that, these days, accounts for record sales in the tens when she can master the kind of meretricious gyrational dance-pop that makes you a global sensation. I doubt most viewers of this film will think “Nah, getting gigs on Saturday Night Live and the Grammys makes her a sellout.”

3. Blow Winds, Crack Your Cheeks and . . . Rave: Kyle finds the new Amazon Prime movie version of King Lear, starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and a terrific cast, as “a superb way to approach the Bard in the age of the Shard.” From his review:

Crunching past and present together while pruning a three-and-a-half-hour work down to under two hours, Ricard Eyre’s exciting new Amazon Prime movie King Lear reshapes Shakespeare’s text into a fast-moving political-military-domestic thriller without abandoning its essence. Turning the play’s power-grabs into a boardroom battle, Eyre opens by imagining the Tower as a sleek locale for a cocky firm to hold high-level meetings for its executives, with Anthony Hopkins as a kind of corporate suzerain dividing up his holdings for the next generation. Then his plans go off the tracks. It’s less Game of Thrones than Succession.

4. Armond watches the revived 1974 French classic, Stavisky, and has some deep cultural thoughts. From his essay:

How will filmmakers of the future portray our ongoing period of national division? Film Forum’s revival of Alain Resnais’s Stavisky . . . (1974) gives a clue. This bio-pic (opening today) dramatizes the scandal surrounding Russian-born swindler Serge (Sacha) Alexandre Stavisky when his international financial schemes, exposed in 1933, brought chaos that destabilized France in the precarious years just before the Nazis came to power.

The Stavisky Affair’s national impact parallels our current cultural instability; Resnais shows this emotional volatility hidden within the protagonist’s personal deception about class. His swanky lifestyle (portrayed with cautious bravura by Jean-Paul Belmondo as a playboy always wearing a blood-red carnation in his lapel) is a cover for his social indifference — a rarely examined psychological aspect of political histories, no doubt inspired by Bertolucci’s The Conformist. Such class deception could determine the insight or partisanship that artists and historians apply to define or understand our own era.

Vitamin Sea

You’re clearly deficient. So get yours on the National Review 2018 Buckley Legacy Conservative Cruise. Sailing on Holland America Line’s luxurious Oosterdam, December 1-8, from Ft. Lauderdale. You have to come! Here’s where you can get complete info about the sailing:


The National Pastime’s playoffs, which we commence, were not considered playoffs per se before 1969. Pre-division, there were a mere five times when a regular season ended with two teams tied for first place. In the American League, that happened just once, in 1948: The Indians and the Red Sox were tied at 96–58, forcing a one-game tie-breaker (also considered a regular-season game for statistical purposes), played at Fenway Park. The home team lost, and the Indians tagged aging Red Sox starter Denny Galehouse for 13 hits and an 8–3 win (it was starter Gene Bearden’s 20th of the season).

And if this isn’t stated on WJ, a fan will give me acida: the Indians’ Dale Mitchell got one hit.

The NL saw four tie-breaker years, and unlike the AL, each was a best-of-three battle, and it turned out that the Dodgers, twice in Brooklyn and twice in Los Angeles, played in all of them. They lost three of them: in 1946 to the Cardinals, in 1951 to the Giants, and in 1962, again against the Giants. In both of the latter series, the Dodgers were leading going into the ninth inning of the deciding third game, only to see epic pitching collapses. In 1962, leading 4–2, a combination of walks, a wild pitch, an error, and just two singles saw the Giants score four runs. The final score was 6–4, and good old former Yankee Don Larsen, now a Giants’ reliever, got the win (he also won a game in the ensuing World Series against his former team).

The 1951 playoff was the scene of the historic “Shot Heard Round the World,” with the Giants prevailing 5–4 in the rubber match thanks to third baseman Bobby Thompson’s walk-off home run. The teams’ Hall-of-Fame center fielders, Duke Snider and Willie Mays (on deck when Thompson unleashed his dinger off of Ralph Branca, a sweet man who used to play catch with me, no kiddin’!), played in both contests. The ’62 game would be Duke’s last as a Dodger.

Oh yeah: The Dodgers did win their 1959 tie-breaker against the reigning NL Champs, the Milwaukee Braves, taking two games (no need for the third). There was some drama: Milwaukee led 5–2 going into the top of the 9th of Game 2, but the Dodgers rallied to tie — stringing together five singles and a sac fly — and in the bottom of the 12th the great Carl Furillo slapped a single, driving home the beloved Gil Hodges, and winning Los Angeles the team’s first pennant since leaving New York.

A Dios

Is there enough time in the day for us to pray for all our many enemies? Well, you all have a good weekend and please remember not to text while sauntering. Hey, it’s called a sidewalk after all, not a sidetext! Regardless, Love They Neighbor as Thyself.

God’s Mercies, Tender as They May Be, On You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can be reached for your Bible verses and other thoughts at

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