Dear Weekend Jolter,
Your Humble Correspondent told the Better Half that she would be featured, because of her bugaboos, the buggiest (by coincidence timely) the lefty push to forgive student loans, and while the Missus would like to give a shoutout to the hard-working Iowa dad who confronted Elizabeth Warren — about how her plan to absolve college student-loan debt makes suckers and chumps out of everyone who made financial responsibility a big factor in the college-decision process — the fact is he’s already off the pedestal.
Why? Because of the great Kat Timpf, who wrote a personal and powerful analysis as to why the dad was wrong. Yeah — fact is, the issue of chumpitude and fairness has a far greater reach than Ticked-Off / Laughed-At Pops stated.
Sorry to go whatabout on you (that seems to annoy some of my pals) but . . . what about the people who did not go to a certain college or on to law school or some graduate program because of the onus of loans necessary to make that happen? Who got into law school but ended up instead selling Fuller Brushes? (Not, as they say, that there’s anything wrong with that.) Do dashed dreams have a cash value too?
Can Fauxcahontas reimburse Kat for her having to pass on Columbia Journalism School because of a $80,000 price tag that would have saddled her with massive debt for decades? If only she’d known there was going to be a Warren bailout someday!
Mrs. Yours Truly (who decided to ixnay law-school dreams because of a financial onus) is a Timpfian. Yep, she admires the Iowa dad, but no, this Warren scheme to pay off school loans puts a lot of taxpayers in the Chump category. From Kat’s article:
I was already enrolled, but I withdrew.
It was a tough decision — and the consequences were even tougher. I didn’t want to give up on my dream, but I realized that the only way I could afford to learn broadcasting was through unpaid internships (while, of course, also working to pay my bills).
I went months without a single day off. Several days per week, I was waking up at 4 a.m. and not getting home until after 11 at night. The only time I wasn’t working throughout these long days was when I was driving from one gig to another. My later jobs as a waitress felt like a posh paradise after my first one at Boston Market.
I lived in an apartment building so dilapidated that you could effortlessly break into the front door with a credit card, so poorly run that I’d have no water without warning, and so downright filthy that I once had scabies and fleas in the same week. I slept on a yoga mat for weeks because I couldn’t afford a bed, until a friend gave me a couch that he didn’t want anymore, until I had to throw the couch away because of the, you know, flea problem. At one point, I could no longer afford my car and had to use a combination of the city’s (joke of a) public-transit system and a bicycle to get around. Then, I couldn’t afford that infested dumpster-apartment, either, and had to find somewhere else to stay for free.
Unless Elizabeth Warren can go back in time and put me in a Columbia classroom during the time I spent cleaning those Boston Market bathrooms, her plan wouldn’t be “fair.” Unless she can give me the hours of my life back that I spent sitting alone covered in scabies cream, her plan wouldn’t be “fair.” The angry Iowa father’s plan, although well-intentioned, wouldn’t be “fair” to me. Elizabeth Warren can’t “pay me back” for a loan that I decided against taking out — a decision that I’d made precisely because I did not expect that anyone else would pay it back for me.
Don’t be a chump! Be a champ! But first, chomp . . . on the great intellectual meal ready to be served in this edition of WJ. Mangia!
But Before You Pick up that Fork . . .
Do grab the last available cabin on the National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise. It’s taking place April 19–26, and it’s going to be an amazing just-us week of conservative camaraderie and discussions (and incredible sites, and sumptuous meals, and . . .). You will find complete information at nrcruise.com.
1. Boris makes a bonehead move by signing up with Huawei. Time to Eight Six the Five Gee. From the beginning of the editorial:
After months of deliberation, the U.K. National Security Council has invited Chinese telecom giant Huawei to build and operate parts of its 5G mobile-network infrastructure. American authorities had cautioned the U.K. against doing business with Huawei, citing the company’s history of unlawful activity and its potential for espionage and warfare. That led Japan and Australia to follow America’s lead in banning Huawei. But British authorities believe they can mitigate these risks by keeping Huawei out of the parts of the “telecoms network that are critical to security” and by capping the company’s U.K. market share at 35 percent. This third way between confrontation and appeasement is a fool’s errand that will jeopardize the U.K.’s national security and undermine the U.S.–U.K. relationship.
As we have previously noted, Huawei has a long and well-documented history of nefarious practices. In January 2019, the Justice Department issued indictments against Huawei for theft of trade secrets and for attempting to evade American sanctions against Iran. These findings were doubly alarming given the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) direct assistance of Huawei. FBI director Christopher Wray said at the time that “the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei represents a threat” to national security.
The British justification for this decision — that Huawei already operates large amounts of the country’s network infrastructure — in fact illustrates the Faustian bargain the U.K. is making. The more the country entangles itself with Chinese companies, the more difficult it will be to extricate itself if they prove malicious.
Three states have gone to court to get an amendment added to the Constitution. House Democrats plan a vote in support of this scheme. What the Left is attempting to do here is to subvert Article V of the Constitution — the part that spells out the proper way to amend the Constitution — in order to make it easier for liberal judges to impose their policy preferences on the nation.
The purpose of the Equal Rights Amendment is to put seemingly innocuous language into the Constitution — declaring men and women equal before the law — that could then be used to force policy changes that the democratic process will not yield. The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have issued a report that speaks favorably of using the amendment to secure paid family leave, prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the end of policies that have a disparate impact on women. (Physical standards for firefighters could be held unconstitutional, for example.) Using the amendment to shore up the alleged right to abortion also gets a positive mention, naturally. If these policies should be adopted at all, legislatures should do it openly and deliberately rather than sneaking them through.
When Congress originally submitted the ERA to the states for ratification in 1972, it gave it a March 1979 deadline. Deadlines have been a common feature of amendments, one the Supreme Court unanimously declared permissible in 1921. The ERA didn’t get enough states to ratify it before that deadline. Congress then, by a simple majority, purported to extend the deadline for three years — an act declared unconstitutional by the only court to review it. (It takes a two-thirds supermajority, the kind the ERA got in 1972, to submit an amendment for ratification.) The ERA didn’t get ratified by the new, dubious deadline, either. At that point, in 1982, everyone — including the Supreme Court — acknowledged that the amendment was dead.
Not 11, Not 12, But . . . 15 Mouth-Watering NRO Delectables of Wisdom and Insight.
1. Speaking of 15, that’s the number of flaws Rich Lowry found in Adam Schiff’s impeachment case against Donald Trump. From the beginning of the analysis:
Here are 15 times that Schiff related a stilted, distorted, or flatly erroneous version of events:
1. “Just as he made use of Secretary Clinton’s hacked and released emails in the previous presidential campaign.”
Schiff wanted to connect Trump to Russia’s hacking, even though there is no connection. So he said Trump “made use” of the emails. But what does that mean? That he cited them. Well, so did everyone else. As Byron York pointed out the other day, the press widely reported on the WikiLeaks disclosures. If it was blameworthy to make a big deal of information revealed in the hacks, Bernie Sanders was a major offender, calling for the resignation of then–DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz after the DNC hack.
2. “In 2016, then–candidate Trump implored Russia to hack his opponent’s email account.”
Again, this is an attempt to make Trump responsible for Russia’s hacking. It refers to a press conference where Trump made a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Russians’ being rewarded by the press if they found Hillary’s missing emails. The Russians did attempt to spearfish a domain used by Clinton’s personal office on the same day, but it’s hard to believe Russian hackers were taking their cues from Trump, and of course, they had already hacked the DNC — hence, the occasion for Trump’s riff.
3. In pushing the Ukrainians on the discredited CrowdStrike theory, Trump was “attempting to erase from history his previous election misconduct.”
Trump has been, no doubt, desperate to find someone else to finger for the Russian hacking since Russia is such a focus of his critics, but the hacking wasn’t his work, so to refer to it as “his previous election misconduct” is absurd.
2. There are hundreds of questions Andrew McCarthy could have posed to the House impeachment managers and presidential counsels, but he settled on three, one shared here. From the piece:
What is the evidence that President Trump is actively corrupting the 2020 election?
Democrats claim that the sovereign, the American people, should not be permitted to decide President Trump’s fate for themselves in the November election, just a few months away. The political class must preempt a democratic election, Democrats say, because the president, right this minute, is actively plotting with foreign powers to undermine the election.
What is the evidence of that?
The Democrats have not presented a shred of evidence that the president has threatened the U.S. voting process. They have not even alleged — much less provided a sliver of proof — that the president has asked any regime, other than Ukraine’s, to take action that could conceivably corruptly influence the U.S election in the slightest way. And, as we’ve just seen, President Trump’s cockamamie effort to prompt a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens — which was aborted without commencement of any such investigation — would have had no impact on the U.S. election.
The Democratic House impeachment managers nevertheless proclaim, as if it were established fact, that the president is actively undermining the November election. It is the central assumption of their case, the rationale for insisting that president must be removed from office immediately. Where, in the hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of testimony, is there any proof — any evidence at all — that President Trump is presently working with any foreign government to corruptly influence the outcome of the 2020 election?
We don’t impeach and remove American presidents on supposition and surmise. What is the hard evidence?
3. More Andy: Say what you will of John Bolton’s emergence in the impeachment proceedings, but it exposes a self-inflicted wound by Team Trump and its unnecessary (per Andy, foolhardy) “quid pro quo” defense. From the analysis:
For months, I’ve been arguing that the president’s team should stop claiming there was no quid pro quo conditioning the defense aid Congress had authorized for Ukraine on Kyiv’s conducting of investigations the president wanted. Trials and impeachment itself are unpredictable. You don’t know what previously undisclosed facts might emerge during the trial that could turn the momentum against you. So you want to mount your best defense, the one that can withstand any damaging new revelations.
Here, the president’s best defense has always been that Ukraine got its security aid, and President Volodymyr Zelensky got his coveted high-profile audience with the president of the United States (albeit at the U.N., rather than at the White House). Kyiv barely knew defense aid was being withheld, the very temporary delay had no impact whatsoever on Ukraine’s capacity to counter Russian aggression, and Zelensky was required neither to order nor to announce any investigation of the Bidens.
However objectionable the calculations that led to the delay may have been, nothing of consequence happened. Therefore, there was no impeachable offense. Case closed.
4. Victor Davis Hanson lays out a more scholarly account of the consequences and realities of wind-spitting. From the essay:
One of the most fascinating themes of Christopher Caldwell’s just-released The Age of Entitlement is the sad irony that 1960s federal government programs to end institutionalized racialism used the vast power of government to accentuate race and tribalism — and thereby helped ensure the current toxic obsessions of race so characteristic of woke identity politics and radical diversity movements.
The current white leading Democratic candidates should read Caldwell’s book to fathom how their own ideologies now boomerang. They might question why they — and not Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Deval Patrick, or Andrew Yang — are alone on the primary debate stage. Disparate impact and proportional representation were the federal government’s fillips to the civil-rights movement. They were embraced by the current white Democratic front-runners, without a clue that by the logic of their own ideological zealotry, about a third of them simply would have no right to be on stage and should sacrifice themselves on the altar of government-mandated diversity.
Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), and Gerry Nadler (D., Calif.) are currently furious that the Republican-controlled Senate adjudicates the rules of the trial of the impeached Donald Trump. But their appeals, whatever their merit or lack of same, fall increasingly on deaf ears. One reason is that the House impeachment proceedings started out in the House basement; they were marked by unethical collusion with the so-called whistleblower to jump-start the proceedings; they relied on selective leaks and were not symmetrical in the summoning of witnesses from both sides; and the proceedings were initially outsourced to Adam Schiff’s intelligence committee, by design, because of its greater power of secrecy, rather than the more appropriate House Judiciary Committee.
In essence, the House impeachers are now furious that the Republican Senate might prove as partisan in exonerating Trump as the House was in impeaching him.
5. You really gotta admire the pretzel-ean qualities of these climate demagogues who propose policies that would . . . harm the environment. Well, if you’re like David Bahnsen, no, you don’t have to. From the piece:
The contribution of natural gas to carbon emissions relative to its share of U.S. energy consumption is 22 percent less than crude oil, and 85 percent less than coal. This measurable fact monitored year over year by the Environmental Protection Agency (and not disputed by leftwing environmental groups) is a by-product of the science of burning these respective fuels: natural gas releases 50 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than coal and 30 percent less than crude oil. These cleaner burning properties have made it the ideal choice for electricity generation but also a growing source for powering transportation fleets. Natural gas is cheaper than electricity as a power source in the home, and it is a cleaner source than coal as a means of producing electricity. Its price advantages are in direct proportion to our improved supply capacity, a supply capacity Warren is campaigning on ending.
Elizabeth Warren’s climate policy makes Barack Obama look like a Republican, and that is something every Democrat ought to consider. Her environmental agenda has not been as widely panned as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” which Warren herself endorsed, but it is perhaps more dangerous. Cortez’s plan represented the utopian fantasy of a freshman congresswoman elected by 14,000 people in her district. Warren is a Harvard Law professor with the potential to become the president of the United States.
RELATED: Right now, stop what you are doing and order David’s new book, Elizabeth Warren: How Her Presidency Would Destroy the Middle Class and the American Dream.
STILL RELATED: Visit the book’s special website, elizabethwarrenthreat.com, to catch David talking up the book’s themes on CNBC, Fox News, and others, and likewise lend an ear as he discusses the same with the likes of Hugh Hewitt, Brian Kilmeade, Dennis Prager, Eric Metaxas, and many more. If you have only 90 seconds to spare, listen to this.
6. David Harsanyi says the Trump Administration’s Israeli–Palestinian peace plan is light on the fiction and heavy on the reality. From the commentary:
Likewise, Israelis will never pull back to pre-1967 lines, giving up its claims to the West Bank, because no sane nation would reinstitute unsecure borders next to an unreliable potential terror state. The vast majority of Israelis (“settlers”) who now reside in towns (“settlements”) built in historically Jewish areas (“the occupied West Bank”) aren’t going to be displaced because the United Nations, John Kerry, or Ben Rhodes has declares Judea and Samaria a no-Jew zone. Those towns are part of a de facto border whether Palestinians agree to a deal or not.
And finally, there is no way that Israel, a liberal democracy responsible for the security of its citizens, can hand over the Jordan Valley — an area with immense strategic importance irrespective of the Palestinian situation — to a newly created state that allies itself with unsavory nations and entertains the idea of entering into a unity government with Hamas, the theocratic terror group. Perhaps after peaceful coexistence for a few decades this could change. But right now, that’s the status quo, whether Israel officially assumes sovereignty over the Jordan Valley or not.
The Trump deal would simply codify these realities while allowing Palestinians to finally have a startup state. Trump’s plan is the first to offer a map laying out what the final borders of the Palestinian nation might look like. In it, Israel cedes around 70 percent of the disputed territory in the West Bank to Palestinians, but doubles its existing territory overall. “The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine,” the plan states, would be the city of “East Jerusalem.”
In return Palestinians would recognize the existence of Israel, agree to solve their refugee problem through integration in their new state and in host Arab counties, and renounce terrorism. In other words, Palestinians would be asked to conduct themselves as does any normal, functioning state. The U.S. would also infuse $50 billion into the new Palestinian state.
7. Kevin Williamson applies the usual cold water on government schemes to support family structures and working moms (and the stay-at-home variety too). From the piece:
The fact that it is so economically difficult for most families to have one stay-at-home parent sometimes is presented as evidence that the economy isn’t working the way it should. Looked at another way, that’s exactly backward: Families find it much more difficult today to have a stay-at-home parent mostly because the labor market now values women’s labor much more highly than it once did.
Economic justice is here, ladies. Enjoy it!
In the Eisenhower-era economy, a working woman could expect to earn something on the order of 59 cents for every $1 earned by a male counterpart, according to census data. The wage gap was actually a bit larger in the early 1970s. But in 2020, that has changed: Women’s real wages have risen about 60 percent since 1980, whereas men’s wages have risen about 6 percent. Among married couples, two out of five wives outearn their husbands. Women in their early 20s earn more than men in the same age cohort. All of this points to a labor market that no longer discounts work done by women.
Naturally, a lot of women are unhappy about that. A lot of men, too.
Think of it this way: If you want to have a stay-at-home mother (stay-at-home fathers are a thing, too, but let’s not pretend that this is a sexually neutral question), then dear old Dad has to earn enough to do two things: 1. Provide the desired standard of living for the family, and 2. Buy Mom out of the labor force on behalf of the firm of Family, Inc.
8. The coronavirus outbreak is yet another blow to Red China boss Xi Jinping, writes Matthew Continetti. From the analysis:
The epidemic is the latest blow to the legitimacy of China’s ruling Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping. When the party’s Central Committee ended term limits in March 2018, Xi emerged as China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong. He ruled an authoritarian AI-powered surveillance state that global media hailed as the wave of the future. Or so it appeared.
The years since have not been kind to Chinese autocracy. Trade war with the United States slowed the Chinese economy and exposed divides within the nomenklatura. In March 2019, pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong. They have not abated. Last November the New York Times published a stunning exposé of China’s prison-camp system in Xinjiang Province. Last month China lost face when it agreed to some of President Trump’s demands as part of a “Phase One” trade deal. A few days later Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-Wen, won reelection in a landslide.
Now comes this nasty bug. Chinese officials, in classic authoritarian fashion, responded to the outbreak by downplaying its significance and hiding its magnitude. “Partly because the government covered up the epidemic in the early stages,” writes Nick Kristof, “hospitals were not able to gather supplies, and there are now major shortages of testing kits, masks, and protective gear. Some doctors were reduced to making goggles out of plastic folders.” The bill for this negligence and corruption was paid in lives lost.
9. In the first round, the academic Left took on religion, and, as Stanley Kurtz explains in his powerful essay, the “second secularization” took on high culture and the humanities while ushering in the nightmare of multiculturalism. From the essay:
The process began in earnest in the 1960s. Western Civilization courses were swept away, along with most other requirements, by students who rejected such constraint. The faculty was reluctant to make the case for the requirement, in part because it was losing its own faith in the West. At Stanford and some other schools, Western Civ had returned by the 1980s, setting up the next great battle. By then, Sixties radicals had joined the faculty, helping to kick-start identity politics on campus. Now Western Civilization would fall under attack on overtly ideological grounds. American multiculturalism was about to be born.
Just before the Stanford dustup of 1987–88, Allan Bloom literally picked up where Buckley had left off. Waiting until the very last paragraph of his survey of Yale’s antireligious curriculum, Buckley finally mentioned “the substantial contribution to secularism that is being made at Yale and elsewhere by widespread academic reliance on relativism . . .” Bloom, for his part, eschewed Buckley’s concern for religion and began instead with the following sentence, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” Bloom worried that abandonment of the search for truth would bring neglect of the Great Books and the fundamental life-choices they made possible. His target was the second secularization, not the first.
The nascent multiculturalist left at Stanford quite consciously viewed their attack on the Great Books as a form of secularization. The radicals charged campus traditionalists with treating the canon as a collection of sacred texts. Traditionalists replied that a list encompassing the Bible, Locke, Marx, and Darwin could hardly purvey a uniform orthodoxy. Yet the critics had a point. Insofar as the canon constituted a distilled repository of the fundamental alternatives in life, the fruits of a long civilizational struggle, it carried an air of the sacred about it. Even a glint of such sanctity was more than the radicals could bear.
10. When it comes to Pete Buttigieg and abortion and party positioning, writes Alexandra DeSanctis, there’s no room in the inn for millions of pro-life Democrats. From the piece:
During Sunday evening’s Fox News town hall, Buttigieg demonstrated not only that today’s Democratic party has no time for members who dissent from the party line on unlimited abortion but also that he has little idea how to justify his dismissive position without dodging the question.
Kristen Day, president of the long-suffering interest group Democrats for Life, was given an opportunity to address a question to the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., an occurrence that almost certainly would not have been permitted at a town hall operated by any mainstream outlet aside from Fox. (It is important to ensure that the public never knows of the existence of the elusive “pro-life Democrats,” voters who comprise about one-third of the party’s membership.)
“Do you want the support of . . . pro-life Democratic voters?” Day asked. “There are about 21 million of us. And if so, would you support more-moderate platform language in the Democratic party to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion really does include everybody?”
11. Somewhere in Hell, Joe Stalin is smiling: Itxu Díaz writes about how Spain is being taken over by a Commie / Socialist political alliance. From the beginning of the report:
Spain is now the only European country of our day to have Communists in the government. The minister of consumption claims that his economic model is Fidel Castro’s. The minister for equality became a militant with the Communist Youth at the age of 16 and has made Communist politics her livelihood. Her husband, the Spanish vice president, communist Pablo Iglesias, is Chavez’s political offspring and Maduro’s protégé.
The last to face this electrifying Communist experience were the Greeks, in 2015, when Alexis Tsipras reached power with a leftist coalition, after promising citizens an easy solution to the ongoing debt crisis. At that time, many Millennial journalists found Tsipras’s solution appealing. His plan was to freeze privatization, impose universal health care, and grant aids to the poor and special benefits to pensioners. It was an inarguable failure: Pensioners found their benefits cut 23 times in eight years, salaries fell 40 percent, youth unemployment grew to 40 percent, and Tsipras fled to the opposition, leaving Greek society in ruins commensurate to those of the Parthenon. P. J. O’Rourke’s famous statement summed it up (and not for the first time in history): “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”
Spain is now facing a scenario worse than what hit Greece then.
In the run-up to last November’s general elections, socialist leader Pedro Sánchez declared that he would not be able to “sleep easy” if he allowed Communist ministers such as Pablo Iglesias into his cabinet. Naturally, a mere 24 hours after the elections, Sánchez and Iglesias jointly announced an agreement to place Communists in power. It’s not hard to imagine sleeping-pill manufacturers beaming as their shares rocketed on the stock market. Welcome to 21st-century socialism in Spain.
12. John Hirschauer discusses Created Equal: Clarence Thomas In His Own Words. With the film’s producer, Michael Pack. From the interview:
Hirschauer: Race is a central theme in Thomas’s life. Your film chronicles his experience as a black boy in the segregated South, as well as the “Uncle Tom” caricatures that followed him for much of his life. One moment that stuck out to me was Thomas’s reaction to school-busing efforts in Massachusetts during the 1970s. After watching the discord and division wrought by the Massachusetts busing policy, Thomas said: “I knew one thing. Nobody was going to have a social experiment and throw my son in there.” What did that statement reveal to you about the way that Thomas views and understands race relations in America?
Pack: Justice Thomas, after the quote that you just cited, goes on to say, “It was like they had a theory and then added people. Like instant coffee. Have the instant coffee, add water.” And that’s what he doesn’t like. I mean, he believes in things that work, that enable African Americans to succeed, not just theories. He felt strongly that the — I mean, at the moment you cited, he still thinks of himself as a liberal, you know, voting Democratic, and I think he saw that these liberal theories weren’t actually helping in practice. And in the case of busing, as he says in the film, they were busing poor blacks who were going to failing schools to other failing schools where poor whites live. So, what’s the benefit for poor black kids? He said to us in parts of the interview that we didn’t use, that when he was at the — I think it was at the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], he asked for more research and data on what was the effect of busing, and he discovered that, really, the point of busing was not to benefit the educational achievement of these young African-American kids, but was to help speed integration. Make white people more comfortable living with black people. As he said, “that isn’t how it was sold. These parents of these poor black kids wanted a better education for their kids.” And, as he also said, he cited his grandfather, who did not like busing either, saying, “Now these kids are spending more time on a bus, and no one ever learned anything on a bus.”
So, Justice Thomas’s feeling, I think, is to look at programs that work and not just the theory behind them.
RELATED: Catch the video of Pack’s interview with Eric Metaxas here.
13. If you’re wondering why Purgatory just emptied out, it’s because Kyle Smith suffered through four hours of Hillary. From the review:
Hillary is an episode in its subject’s never-ending project to convince the public that we were all wrong about her in every particular and that she therefore should be president. A typical rationalization: “I take responsibility for the unfortunate relationship I have with the press.” Oh? Here come the qualifiers. “I was too quick to be defensive. I didn’t play the game well enough. I knew there was a game to be played and I was striking out all the time.”
Let’s break this down. First, she is begging the critical question, which is whether the press was actually biased against her. It wasn’t. As Times reporter Amy Chozick revealed in her book Chasing Hillary, the full-time press corps covering Clinton consisted entirely of women who were excited about the prospect of covering the first woman president. These reporters were jazzed about taking a picture with her and many of them wept openly when she lost. The hostility to her opponent, though, was meanwhile completely without precedent and crystallized in a front-page column in the Times that exhorted reporters to oppose Trump with everything they had. In Hillary there is a shot of Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, telling her that he has just had a call from then-president Obama, who told him, “This is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House.” The press shared and continue to share this attitude. The film, by the way, omits any mention of the moment in the third Clinton–Trump debate when Trump suggested he might not accept the outcome of the election, and the immense outrage in the media that followed, because Clinton has for three years been suggesting the outcome was illegitimate.
Note also how Clinton pretends there was no substance to negative information that appeared about her in the media; it was merely an exercise, a “game.” But it wasn’t a game. She couldn’t neutralize the adverse information about her because it was true. She couldn’t wipe it off, like, with a cloth. When pressed on such things, she reverts to an argument that isn’t quite straw-manning but mischaracterizes opposition to her as rooted in craziness: “People still believe weird, wacky things about me because they’ve been told [laughs in spasmodic, Arthur Fleck mode] that, you know, I kill people, I rob people, I mean who knows what the heck they’ve been told?” Well, we’ve been told that it’s a felony to remove classified information from secure channels but also told that it was okay when you did it, Madame Secretary. But do go on about how the system is rigged against you.
14. Nyet! Armond White isn’t liking The Beanpole. From the beginning of the review:
When squeamish media liberals talk about “the Russia dossier,” they don’t describe its content — pretending some kind of discretion. But squeamish liberalism is also a contradiction in terms. Director Kantemir Balagov confronts this hypocrisy in the new film Beanpole, Russia’s entry for this year’s Best International Film Oscar, now playing at Film Forum.
Balagov’s story takes place in 1945 in Leningrad, after Nazi Germany’s four-year siege of the city, but his focus on two women who fought together in World War II — and their post-war personal and social readjustment — has a modern, nightmarish feel. It is clearly a response to contemporary spiritual crisis and sexual upheaval. Balagov’s anguished facial close-ups and stark nudity show Russian womanhood — sexual attraction, reproduction, marriage, and survival issues — with a combination of horror-movie intensity and art-movie flourish.
15. Less Is More: Brian Allen hits the big antique show at the Park Avenue Armory, where the exquisite dwarfs the age of gigantism. From the piece:
The tiny Calcagni Book of Hours was finished on September 7, 1508, by Attavante degli Attavanti (1452–1520s), the most celebrated illumination in Renaissance Florence. Giorgio Vasari, the Mannerist-era author of the world’s first art-history survey, called Attavante the best illuminator of his age.
Books of Hours are breviaries, or a selection of prayers and psalms taken from long prayer books used by monks. They’re meant for laypeople. The Calcagni book illustrates three scenes: the Raising of Lazarus, King David in Prayer, and the Annunciation and Nativity. The detailed narrative scenes are framed by vermilion, emerald, and azure-colored borders packed with gold tendrils, cartouches, putti, and portraits of saints and prophets. It’s a bit less than four inches and a tad more than two inches closed. It’s $95,000.
Elle Shushan specializes in miniatures. She’s a connoisseur of the highest order, and her booth is always a beguiling treat. She’s passionate about these precious, hypnotic paintings, normally made on ivory or enamel by tiny brushes. Their detail is crisp and precise — there’s no room for sweeping brushstroke — and the smooth, reflective base gives them luminosity. Like illuminated manuscripts, they’re personal and intimate. They’re often set in a locket so the admirer could carry the likeness of the admired. The artists, such as Henry Bone (1779–1855), were usually specialists. Bone was the master enamel painter to William IV and Queen Victoria. His father was a miniaturist, too.
BONUS: Just before filing this missive, another terrific Armond White piece, this one on the new Italian flick, The Traitor, was sprung, and it is a beaut. From the review:
Imagine The Irishman done right — made by a filmmaker whose reputation has not overrun his artistry. That would be Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor (Il Traditore), which chronicles the true story of Sicilian mafia boss Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), who exposed the workings of the Cosa Nostra in Italy’s 1986 Maxi Trials, the country’s largest round-up of the criminal organization. The trial becomes The Traitor’s remarkable centerpiece.
Bellocchio reports the story of Buscetta’s awakened conscience through feverish chronological memories of his sons and family members killed over heroin trade feuds. Unlike The Irishman’s totally fabricated historical fantasies, these drug wars evoke historical terror. They’re staged like cinematic opera — a pageant of bullet-point, documentary-style massacres that verges on existential comedy. The title alludes to Verdi’s Il Trovatore, but this is anti-romantic. Buscetta’s complicated moral sense (unlike the cipher DeNiro played in The Irishman) never hides behind the quasi-Catholicism that has become Scorsese’s dubious routine.
Modern Italian Catholicism, a consistent Bellocchio subject (In the Name of the Father, My Mother’s Smile), contributes to his understanding of how culture works. He sees religion and politics as means that sustain people’s beliefs as well as their illusions. Buscetta’s survival instinct and sense of guilt drive him to Brazil, away from the warfare, watching the hostilities from afar yet unable to escape the long reach of law and treachery. When Buscetta gets extradited, he returns to Italy as a state’s witness. The narrative deepens with Buscetta’s interrogation by Judge Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi); each man lays out his personal ethical dilemma. An unexpected but fateful brotherhood develops. . . .
See EU Later
1. Yesterday (January 31), John Bull departed Brussels. As the deadline approached, Madeleine Kearns contemplated that Brexit will prove to be the end of the beginning. From the piece:
At this point, it is worth recalling what all the fuss was about: The Leave campaign of 2016 was fought and won on a promise to “take back control.” This was in part a question of national identity. And also, one of sovereignty.
After two failed attempts to do so, Britain in 1973 joined what was then called the European Economic Community (EEC). The condition of freedom of movement resulted in mass immigration, which, by 2010, saw the British population increase by 4.5 million people per decade. The failure of politicians to engage seriously with the problems associated with this — offering only vague promises to do with “multiculturalism” — alienated especially working-class communities. However, while much attention has been given to immigration, other political concerns have proved just as important.
Anti-EU feeling had been growing for years, on both the left and right of British politics, and for a variety of reasons. After the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EEC became the European Union, the name change signifying the entity’s transformation from an economic to a political body. Of course, one of the ironies was that it was unpopular on both the left and the right of British politics: the former suspecting the EU of peddling crony capitalism, while the latter was concerned it was really a thinly veiled socialist superstate.
2. The Remainers’ Chicken Little act flopped. Michael Brendan Dougherty recounts the promises of mayhem that never came to pass. From the piece:
We were told by former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major that the peace process of Northern Ireland was at risk from Brexit. In fact, the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement fell into dysfunction and disuse in 2017 owing to an environmental credits scandal and disagreements over an Irish-language act favored by Irish nationalists. And one of the first acts of Johnson’s government was to help restore the power-sharing arrangements of the Northern Irish executive.
The Union of Great Britain itself was under threat, we were told. And in fact the Scottish Nationalist party came roaring back in 2019. However, it is unclear whether this bounce is due to a marked increase in secessionist sentiment or reflects both the more general collapse of the Labour party and the emergence of the SNP as Scotland’s party of the Left. And of course the departure of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland from the EU means that Scot secession is a much taller task. Do Spaniards want to encourage the secession of Catalonia by rewarding Scotland for the breakup of the U.K.? How does Belgium tell Scotland yes while telling Flanders no? And what currency would Scotland use while it is waiting for accession? If you thought the Irish border posed a problem for Brexit, what does the border of England mean for Scotland?
David Cameron said that Brexit risked war. “Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our Continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt?” he asked. “Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash as to make that assumption,” he answered.
3. Nigel Farage makes his final speech (“ . . . the British are too big to bully . . .”) as a member of the European Parliament, and, as is his way (of great political flare and eye-poking) he ridicules the bested apparatchiks, and causes a scene by instigating a Union flag-waving. You gotta love it! Watch the video.
BONUS: Nigel’s greatest EU hits.
4. Our good pal Daniel Hannan was a tireless voice and principle instigator of the entire Brexit project. His style is pretty distant from Nigel’s, but it has been consequential. Here is his final speech to the EU parliament.
1. Is there a more decent man than the great historian, George Nash? Our friend, the acclaimed biographer of Hoover, was asked by the institution that bears that name to write a piece for Hoover Digest to mark its centenary, and he has done so, in his wonderful way. From the essay.
By the end of World War II, the Hoover Library was universally recognized as one of the foremost repositories in the world of priceless documentation on the First World War and its consequences. It was also on its way to becoming what it remains today: the leading repository outside of Russia of documentation on the Russian Revolution and the rise of world communism.
Increasingly, as the Cold War era began, Hoover sought ways to exploit what he saw as his library’s tremendous potential for the civic education of the American people. Hoover had never wanted it to be what he called “a dead storage of documents.” Instead, he told a friend in 1944 that he wanted it to become a “research center upon the most vital of all human questions—War, Revolution, and Peace.” He was delighted in 1957 when the university trustees gave his creation the name it still has today: the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Now it would be similar in title to the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Institution, as Hoover himself observed.
But Hoover’s groping for an explicit corporate rationale for his prestigious institution soon ran into fierce ideological headwinds. By the late 1940s Stanford University’s greatest living benefactor was no longer so widely perceived, as he had been in 1919, as a great humanitarian and nonpolitical figure. He was now a controversial former president of the United States, an outspoken critic of Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy, and the strenuous conductor of what Hoover himself called a “crusade against collectivism.”
Meanwhile, like most of American academia after World War II, the university that hosted his war library had begun gliding toward the political left. As the Cold War with the Soviet Union intensified and the McCarthy era roiled the nation, the ideological chasm between Stanford and its most famous alumnus widened.
2. The Papal squawking about inequality, says Alessandra Nucci in The Catholic Thing, has little to do with economic reality. From the beginning of the piece:
Pope Francis’s headline-grabbing words last year – “inequality is disastrous for the future of humanity” – reflected the long doctrinal dialectic following Vatican Council II. At the Council, the focus of social justice increasingly shifted from the tenets of Rerum Novarum – which recognized “the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses,” but opposed State control of wealth. Pope Leo’s earlier encyclical specified that to give to the indigent “is a duty not of justice (except in extreme cases) but of Christian charity.” The Council, by contrast, focused on guaranteeing equality and, therefore, emphasizing wealth distribution over wealth creation.
Yet there is little correlation between poverty rates and inequality. Experience has shown that reducing economic inequality does not of itself lead to reducing poverty. On the contrary, since 2008 the worldwide recession has reduced inequality by reducing the wealth in the hands of the rich, without benefiting the poor.
This was confirmed in 2018 by a study conducted in the UK (“Living standards, poverty, and inequality”), which showed that inequalities were few in the poorer areas of Britain, while in places where the poor are better off there are also greater inequalities.
3. Gatestone Institute’s Giulio Meotti is on top of the “slow-motion war” against Nigerian Christians, massacred without ceasing while the world averts its gaze. Maybe if their pets were killed, too? From the article:
While Christians were murdered in Nigeria, the global media ran a story of a pig being tied up and shoved off a bungee tower at a new theme park in China. The story went viral on BBC, The Independent, The New York Times, Sky News, Deutsche Welle and many other mainstream media outlets. The Chinese pig got more media coverage than any of these murdered Christians in Nigeria. You often have to search for these martyrs on local African sites. “Pig Bungee Jumping Stunt In China Prompts Global Outcry”, wrote the Huffington Post. Where has been the global outcry for the serial butchering of Christians just because they are Christians?
The killing of a gorilla in a Cincinnati zoo, committed to save a child’s life, triggered more emotion and media coverage than the beheading of 21 Christians on a beach in Libya while they invoked the name of Jesus in Arabic and whispered prayers. ABC, CBS and NBC devoted six times more coverage to the death of one gorilla than they did on the mass execution of Christians.
“The world prefers to worry about pandas rather than about us, threatened with extinction in the land where we were born”, said Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul as well as a refugee in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, home to many of the Christians who fled jihadis. When the Archbishop said that four years ago, it looked as if it were just provocation to shock Western public opinion. But Archbishop Sharaf was right.
The French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf also noted “threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to Christians.
4. Fix Knitting Bayonets! At The College Fix, Christian Schneider reports on the big battle taking place amidst the gender stew at the University of Michigan. From the piece:
Last spring a newly formed crafting group began posting flyers around the University of Michigan campus seeking members. The Ann Arbor-based group, “Lez Get Crafty,” limited its membership to lesbians that wanted to “express their creative side.”
But the group quickly ran into trouble. The flyers indicated Lez Get Crafty was exclusively for “lesbian Womyn-born-Womyn,” excluding transgender women born male.
The group was soon reported to the University of Michigan’s “Bias Response Team” by a student offended by the membership requirements.
Saying they had received “multiple complaints” from an LGBTQ rights group on campus, the student wrote that “women in our community feel targeted by this kind of exclusivity.”
“It is my belief that students should not be subjectified [sic] to discriminatory language of groups such as Lez Get Crafty,” the student wrote.
5. You know what modern feminists hate, explains Kelly Marcum in The American Conservative? Yes, womanhood! From the piece:
“But wait!” Defenders of feminism cry. “We want women to be able to choose how they pursue fulfillment. We want them to be able to choose whether they want to work or be mothers.” This defense has proven effective at silencing many would-be critics of feminism. No one—least of all a man!—wants to suggest that women should remain in traditional roles. Alas, the protestations are a lie.
Modern feminism does not want a choice for women, because then women might choose the “wrong” thing. The celebrated feminist Simone de Beauvoir famously told Betty Friedan, “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
Feminism can only survive if women continue to hate the very elements of their nature that differentiate them from men. If women are excited to bring new children into the world, and even worse, if they choose to step away from their careers to raise said children, how will they ever muster enough self-loathing to force themselves to become more like men?
It is this contempt for womanhood that causes modern feminists to demean and deride all women who refuse to play along.
6. At Law & Liberty, Mark Pulliam slams the effort by a scrum of federal judges to suppress The Federalist Society. From the beginning of the piece:
As has been widely reported, a recently-released draft advisory opinion of the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the Judicial Conference of the United States—a 15-member group of judges responsible for fashioning and interpreting ethical rules applicable to the federal judiciary—concluded that membership in the non-partisan Federalist Society by judges, law clerks, and staff attorneys is improper because the group’s ideological orientation would call its members’ impartiality into question. The draft ethics opinion, which was reportedly leaked, is subject to internal discussion within the Committee during a 120-day comment period ending on May 20. For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a longtime member and supporter of the Federalist Society.
The draft opinion included the American Constitution Society, a liberal counterpart to the Federalist Society, in the membership ban. For inexplicable reasons, the draft opinion did not extend the ban to the American Bar Association, even though that left-leaning organization—unlike the Federalist Society—advocates political causes, engages in lobbying, files amicus briefs, and adopts resolutions on a broad range of public policy topics. The ABA essentially serves as a liberal special interest group, but judges are still permitted to be a member while serving on the federal bench.
Many commentators have criticized the draft opinion, which reverses the Committee’s 2007 position which treated the ACS as indistinguishable from the ABA. Critics of the draft opinion include the Wall Street Journal (in a pair of hard-hitting editorials), Carrie Severino and Ed Whelan in National Review, and Erielle Davidson in The Federalist. The Wall Street Journal called the draft opinion “political mischief masked in high-sounding rhetoric.” Attacks on the Federalist Society are not new. Over two decades ago, former ABA president Jerome Shestack (who, while serving on the ABA’s judicial appointments committee, joined the minority in rating Robert Bork “not qualified” for the U.S. Supreme Court) condemned the Federalist Society in the National Law Journal as an “extremist right-wing group.”
More on the Jihad Against Fed Soc
Carrie Campbell Severino, the co-champion (along with Ed Whelan) of NRO’s cherished and vital Bench Memos blog, has penned a five-part series on the effort (noted just above by Mark Pulliam) on this brazen effort by a cabal of federal judges (the “Committee on Codes of Conduct”) who have drafted an “advisory opinion” to prohibit membership in the Federalist Society, as if it were a political organization — as opposed to the American Bar Association, which is indeed a de facto political organization, but which seems to raise no concern from these same judge.
Another circuit judge on the Committee, Mary Murguia, whom Obama elevated from the District of Arizona to the Ninth Circuit, has also been a member of the ABA and HNBA, not to mention other left-leaning affinity bar associations including the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. She has twice made Ed Whelan’s “This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism” feature here, which is not easy for a lower court judge to do.
In one case decided as a district judge, Whelan notes the “verbal somersaults” she did in 2011 to hold that there was “insufficient evidence” the defendant Elton Simpson’s false statements to the FBI about traveling to Somalia “‘involved’ international terrorism.” This despite his having “expressed sympathy and admiration for individuals who ‘fight’ non-Muslims as well as his belief in the establishment of Shariah law, all over the world including in Somalia.” Four years later, Simpson perpetrated the jihadist attack at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. In a 2012 case, Murguia joined Stephen Reinhardt’s opinion for a divided Ninth Circuit panel regarding federal habeas relief in Jackson v. Nevada. The Supreme Court followed with a unanimous summary reversal in a per curiam opinion that suggested the lower court had employed an “imaginative extension of existing case law.”
Another member, Timothy Black, served for several years as director and later president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati before his appointment to the Southern District of Ohio. On the bench, he is perhaps best known as the trial judge in James Obergefell’s challenge who held Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage unconstitutional before the Supreme Court narrowly reached the same conclusion on appeal.
Sadly, it is no surprise that the Codes of Conduct Committee would employ a political rather than a judicial process to give us its draft advisory opinion. We deserve to know the details of that process. How did the Committee arrive at its opinion? Were judges permitted to vote against it? If so, what was the margin of the vote? Were any judges allowed to file a dissenting view? Who drafted the advisory opinion itself? Does the Committee intend to sideline one of the most important organizations in the legal community without disclosing how it arrived at such an absurd proposal?
Forgotten, so it seems, in the 1964 National League pennant race, renowned for the Philadelphia Phillies’ epic fall from first in the season’s final weeks (up by 6 ½ games as late as September 20, they went on to lose 10 of their next 12 games, handing the pennant to the hard-charging St. Louis Cardinals, who took 9 of their last 11 contests, by one game) is the Cincinnati Reds’ own blowing-it antics up until the season’s very last day. When the sun set on October 4, 1964, like the Phillies, the Reds were a game behind the Cardinals, tied for second, and guaranteed to watch the World Series on TV.
It’s a story one can romanticize for so much of baseball: for want of one lousy run, one measly out. Heading into the season’s last week, the Reds were actually in first place by a game, having swept a double header against the New York Mets on September 27. They were blistering hot, on a 12–1 streak . . . but the fire died, and quick, as Cincinnati lost four of their final five games. Had they prevailed in just one of those contests — and yep, they could have — the Reds would have secured at least a playoff against the Cardinals.
Shoulda woulda: On the final evening of September, at Crosley Field, the Reds, tied for first with the Cards, faced the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the second game of a three-game series. The first game had not gone well, not for the Reds anyway: Pirates starter Bob Friend had blanked them the previous night in a 2–0 shutout.
Which, as shutouts go, wasn’t pretty: Friend gave up 11 hits and walked two. There were plenty of Reds on base, but none of them ever got home. They blew a fine performance by Reds starter Billy McCool, who had held the Pirates scoreless into the top of the 9th (but with two outs, gave up a two-run single to Bill Mazeroski).
The Reds penchant for leaving men on base continued the next night, as Pirates ace Bob Veale (entering the game 18–12 with a 2.76 ERA) and the Reds’ hard-throwing starter Jim Maloney (15–10, 2.71 ERA) dueled into scoreless extra innings, with Maloney giving up a measly three hits. Veale was not so stingy: He gave up seven hits, and a plentiful eight walks. By the time the game ended in the 16th inning, a 1–0 Pittsburgh win thanks to a Don Clendenon double and an RBI single by call-up catcher Jerry May, the Reds had left 18 men on base.
It had to have been torture to watch for the 8,188 Cincinnati fans in the stands: The Reds stranded two runners in the bottom of the 9th and 10th innings, and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, 13th, and 14th.
But — there was still a speck of hope! Two days later, still at home, and facing the Phillies, the Reds took a 3–0 lead into the 8th inning, with ace southpaw Jim O’Toole (sporting a 17–7 record and a handsome 2.66 ERA) needing just a handful of outs to return Cincinnati to first place. It wasn’t to be: The Phillies, looking at their 11th consecutive loss, went on a long-overdue rampage, ignited by hard-luck journeyman Frank Thomas’s one-out pinch-hit single. Rookie of the Year Dick Allen’s two-run triple highlighted a four-run rally, and the Reds went down in order in both the 8th and 9th innings, handing the Phillies a 4–3 win, and along with that Cincinnati’s pennant hopes. Those would have to wait a few more years until the Big Red Machine was up and operating. And conquering.
Shall we not offer prayers of thanks to the Almighty for letting a majority of U.K. citizens hang strong, for their laying low the snobs and smug elites, for seeing through the project to reclaim their sovereignty? Let it be a lesson, although as You know, the Establishment, here and abroad, is a stiff-necked people that will likely double down on their haught.
Yours So Very Truly, Wishing for You Wisdom from the Ancient of Days,
Jack Fowler, who can tearfully stomach your gut punches if thrown via the contrivance of email and directed toward firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S.: Bringing Laurel and Hardy into this edition of WJ, I’d like to suggest that maybe the theme music that could be played in the Senate during Impeachment Trial recesses — or when the House Managers entered the chambers — would be this. Fittingly.