The Weekend Jolt

National Review

From a Feint into a Slip, and Kicking from the Hip

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Let us get right to the red meat. As in Red meat. Zach Evans this week penned a marvelous exposé of the former Democratic senator from Montana, Max Baucus, who followed his years of liberal legislating by being Barrack’s Man in Beijing. Oh, the friends Ambassador Baucus made there, and oh, the friends he maintains there: Max is now doing the ChiComs’ dirty work on the Wuhan Virus, telling PRC state television that Donald Trump is akin to . . . wait for it . . . Adolf Hitler. There’s a word for what Baucus is, and it ain’t shill. (Not that, to quote Joe Biden, he ain’t.) From the piece:

The media appearances raise the question of why an American citizen with a long and distinguished career in government has gotten cozy with Chinese propagandists. An answer is hinted at in a 2013 comment by Russ Sullivan, a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Finance Committee that Baucus chaired, who at that time told the Wall Street Journal that the senator held a kind of fascination with the country.

“There were times when I said, Senator, I know you love China, but we need to allocate appropriate time vis-à-vis the time you spend on China and trade issues versus what you spend on [other issues],” Sullivan said, adding that Baucus did not heed his advice. Sullivan said that Baucus’s interest in China was noted in other quarters: “If you were in the multinational business community interested in China, you knew Max Baucus was going over there.”

In the wake of his long political career, Baucus has parlayed his familiarity with China into number of lucrative business roles. According to Baucus’s biography on the website of the University of Montana’s Max Baucus Institute, the former senator sat on the Board of Advisers to Alibaba Group until May 2019. He currently runs a consulting firm, Baucus Group LLC, which advises American and Chinese businesses. (The firm does not appear to have a website or readily available contact information.) The former ambassador also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Ingram Micro, an information technology company based in Irvine, Calif., that in 2016 was acquired by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. Amid financial woes in 2018, HNA director and founder Chen Feng said the company would “consciously safeguard the Communist Party’s central authority with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core” and “unswervingly follow the party.” The conglomerate has been completely taken over by the Chinese government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Baucus has managed to keep one foot in government: until July 2019, he served on the External Advisory Board to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Baucus’s sympathy for Beijing surfaced often during his political career. In the mid 1990s, he was among the leading Democratic supporters of increased trade with China, and he advocated delinking the issues of human rights and trade in American policy on China. At the time, the U.S. gave most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status to China, meaning it considered China one of its top trading partners, but Washington annually threatened to revoke the designation because of the Chinese government’s human-rights abuses. Baucus argued that revoking MFN status for China would be counterproductive, because tariffs on Chinese goods would immediately rise and trade with the country would be curtailed.

Now, if you thought this missive’s subject line was from “Kung Fu Fighting,” you’d be right. And yes, the ChiComs are kicking the people of Hong Kong. And worse. They merit our attention and support. More on that, and on much more else, is to be found below.

Editorials

1. America needs to do whatever it can to help the people of Hong Kong push back against Red China’s brutish and brutal regime. From the editorial:

We obviously also need a strategy to combat Chinese belligerence elsewhere. Control of Hong Kong is only one step in China’s quest to “occupy a central position in the world,” as Chinese president Xi Jinping has put it. The Hong Kong security law coincides with increasingly aggressive naval exercises in the South and East China Seas and a sudden military buildup on the Sino–Indian border. The Chinese have also made clear their intention to annex Taiwan, and show no signs of rolling back their programs of industrial espionage and anti-competitive trade practices. The White House must resist China on all fronts.

The administration should mobilize our allies in the fight. As Pompeo made his announcement, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the European Union has a “great strategic interest” in cooperating with China. Neither have the British, who designed the transfer of Hong Kong, shown much interest in pushing back on Chinese aggression. European leaders are enticed by the economic benefits of cooperating with Beijing, and it will require a deft diplomatic touch to persuade them to take a more strategically sound posture.

Hong Kong is the last redoubt of freedom and decency in China’s contiguous territory. The White House should do everything reasonably within its power to try to safeguard it.

2. A horrible thing happened in Minneapolis, with more terrible things in response. We decry the destruction — of a life, of property. From the editorial:

There is no sign that the authorities are dragging their feet. The day after Floyd’s death, all four officers were fired, and the FBI launched an investigation. The mayor and the chief of police denounced what happened. If the facts are as bad as they appear in the videos, the officers — or at least the lead officer — would seem to have little defense.

Yet, while the wheels of justice are moving swiftly, that has not prevented opportunists from erupting into riots, looting, and arson. Sacking a Target for televisions and burning down local businesses is no way to get justice for anyone. It is, instead, likely to add to the misery of people living on the margins and already hard-hit by the shutdown of the economy. It is also not recommended social distancing. No excuses should be made, or accepted, for theft and destruction. The police and the National Guard can and should restore order, which is itself a precondition of justice.

3. The President’s conspiracy tweets about Joe Scarborough are grotesque. From the editorial:

Trump is clearly driven by his desire to say the most malicious and painful things he can about Scarborough, to take revenge for the former congressman’s now obsessively anti-Trump morning program. The president maintains he doesn’t watch, although this is plainly untrue. The collateral damage is the family of Lori Klausutis, who had to endure her sudden loss and now watch helplessly as the president pushes a deception about her death for his own petty purposes.

It’s unworthy of a partisan blogger, let alone the president of the United States.

4. If there is a cure for the President’s accusatory tweets (or anything similar from anyone else), it’s not to be found in regulations or in diktats but in an individual’s control of behavior. From the editorial:

Not one of these courses of action is desirable. Twitter is a medium, not a message, and it should decline to inject itself into the middle of America’s political debates. President Trump cannot “close down” social media, and he should not idly threaten to do so. And, pace Senator Hawley, user-driven websites are not being “subsidized” by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the “provider or user of an interactive computer service” from being treated as the “publisher” of opinions whether or not he has not reviewed them. It is Section 230, by way of example, that prevents Joe Scarborough from being able to sue Twitter when one its members engages in a libel. Section 230 has been maligned lately, but we have yet to see any proposal that would be likely to improve it.

Time was when the obvious response to reprehensible behavior was admonition. The root cause of the mess we are witnessing today is not Twitter’s bias or legislative favoritism, and it is most certainly not that the president lacks the power to suspend the First Amendment. Rather, it is that the president lacks the power to control his own urges. What needs changing is the behavior of the man who sits at the heart of all of our national conversations, both good and ill.

5. The Republican to take Oregon’s senatorial primary is one Jo Ray Perkins, a “Q-Anon” advocate. Yikes. From the editorial:

QAnon originated on an anonymous message board in late 2017 amid the uncertainty surrounding the Mueller investigation. A person calling himself “Q” and claiming to be a high-ranking official in the Trump administration began posting cryptic messages that weaved together numerology, close readings of Trump Twitter posts, and vague talk of a coming “storm.” It was said that Robert Mueller was secretly working with the president to conduct an investigation into a sinister cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles led by Democrats and elite business figures. It was predicted that martial law was imminent, and that Mueller would soon hand down indictments against Hillary Clinton. The theory took on a life of its own and attracted hundreds of thousands of adherents. It eventually crossed that fateful conspiracy-theory threshold past which absence of evidence for a claim becomes proof of a coverup.

QAnon is a story of exploitation, in which some digitally literate person (or group of people) strings along the gullible with a fanciful story, inviting them to work together to decode clues and discuss lore. It is also a story of radicalization, in which skepticism about the Mueller investigation or distrust of political institutions mutates into a fantasy world where the American elite is full of Jeffrey Epsteins. We don’t know whether Perkins is a cynic or a true believer, but whatever the case, she should be shunned and repudiated.

A Score of Essential Reads, So Get Clicking and Get Reading. Oh, We Forgot to Say . . . Please.

1. Bump this guy to the head of the line: Our old colleague Nat Brown shares thoughts on Hong Kong’s ominous future. From the piece:

From the day the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which stipulated the terms of the handover, was signed in 1984, Hong Kong’s fate as a future Chinese territory was already a settled fact, even if July 1, 1997, was over a decade away. When the handover did happen, and the Union Jack was lowered in the territory for the last time, the city knew its SAR status, which guaranteed freedoms of speech, assembly, the press, an independent judiciary, and other rights that didn’t exist for citizens on the mainland, also came with an expiration date — this time in 2047, when Hong Kong’s autonomous status was set to end.

Of course, far fewer than 50 years would elapse before Beijing and its loyalists in control of the local government began attempts to chip away at these rights and the autonomy supposedly protected under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the portion of Chinese law that functions as the city’s de facto constitution. Although the details of the new national-security law have yet to be revealed, most analysts believe it to be a variation on the national-security bill the Hong Kong government introduced in 2003. That legislation was intended to fulfill the controversial Article 23, the so-called National Security Provision of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which stated that the city would, of its own accord, pass legislation to “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, [or] subversion against the Central People’s Government.” The bill introduced into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council would have criminalized all the above acts and allowed warrantless police searches of those suspected of them. With fears that the law would be used to punish legitimate political dissent, the proposed legislation triggered massive protests, was quickly withdrawn, and until now, neither the Hong Kong nor mainland government had ever attempted to introduce it again. That Beijing has now done so is the culmination of a troubling acceleration over the past two years of the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, to the point where the situation on the ground seems to change day by day.

For Western readers looking to get caught up on the political struggle for Hong Kong’s future, a good place to start is Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, a short book published in February. In fewer than 100 pages, Wasserstrom, a professor of History at UC Irvine, deftly takes the reader through a concise history of the territory, beginning with the British acquisition of Hong Kong Island in 1841 and continuing with the subsequent additions of surrounding territory to the colony, all the way through to Hong Kong’s post–World War II boom as a center of international finance and its status as a SAR of China today. His focus, however, is on the protests of 2019, and to a lesser extent on the Umbrella Movement protests of 2014. Core to both was the question of the nature of the city’s relationship to Beijing.

2. Michael Brendan Dougherty says that the time has come for America to mount the ramparts on behalf of the freedom-lovers of Hong Kong. From the piece:

From the Belt and Road initiative across Eurasia, to Huawei’s efforts to muscle in on 5G networks across Europe and the world, to China’s privileged position in Apple’s supply chain, Beijing consistently forces some version of this choice between material comfort and political freedom on others. Try to convince yourself that Chairman Xi doesn’t smile knowing that Apple CEO Tim Cook freely criticizes religious-freedom laws in the United States, but remains silent while the Chinese government rotates persecuted and interned Uighur Muslims into the factories of Apple’s subcontractors.

Hong Kongers have fought Beijing’s efforts valiantly. They turned back previous CCP attempts to consolidate power in 2003, in 2014, and last year. So we shouldn’t accept that Beijing’s subversion of Hong Kong is a fait accompli.

Well-intentioned proposals to open our countries to Hong Kongers and inflict brain drain on Hong Kong are premature and perhaps unwise. They would hurt those left behind in the city as much as dramatic trade actions would. Diplomatic efforts, meanwhile, need to focus on detaching European leaders from their long-standing hopes that China could serve as a welcome geopolitical counterweight to the U.S. Prime Minister Boris Johnson should be prodded — even shamed, if necessary — into doing his duty and standing by the terms of the 1997 handover. Angela Merkel and others should be reminded of the costs to native industry and political independence that deals with China carry. Coordinated efforts to stand up and even recapture key industries should be made by Western leaders so that their successors don’t have to make as many economically painful decisions in an effort to protect national sovereignty and political freedom.

3. Department of Sanctimony: David Bahnsen nails CNBC host Andrew Sorkin, virtue monopolist. From the commentary:

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s frustration over having missed so much of the post-COVID realities in markets and economic life boiled over this morning in one of the more outrageous outbursts I have ever witnessed on financial media. Perhaps this outburst was rivaled only by his behavior during the March COVID market swoon, in which he — on a daily basis — worked hard to terrify viewers, making the most outlandish predictions one can imagine — when he wasn’t defending billionaire hedge funders who had gone on the network to say “hell is coming” with a massive short bet on the market.

One of the things that made CNBC so good coming out of the dotcom bust was the unleashing of their on-air personalities to express market and even political viewpoints. Larry Kudlow and others frequently voiced a center-right, pro-markets view, while David Faber and others held a center-left, market-skeptical view. The interactions for years were mostly mature, professional, and well-reasoned, even as they exposed different approaches and economic worldviews.

What Sorkin did on CNBC throughout the COVID pandemic was not merely ideological — it was sensationalism taken to a level I never thought I would see on business media. And it proved to be divorced from reality.

4. Was there ever a cabal so self-righteous, so above the law? Victor David Hanson reflects on the Obama administration, and the former POTUS, reputations a tatter. From the essay:

The Obama-administration appeasement of China is over and in retrospect seen as disastrous. “Reset” with Russia was as mythical as Russian “collusion.” The much-heralded Asian “pivot” is a forgotten divot.

No one defends the Iran Deal much anymore, as Tehran struggles with sanctions, bankruptcy, a hostile Middle East, a suspect Chinese patron, the death of its terrorist master General Soleimani, popular unrest, and a COVID-19 mess. The idea of empowering the Iranian terrorist state and its appendages in Syria as a legitimate balance to Egypt, the moderate Gulf States, and even Israel was always unhinged. It was largely dreamed up by failed novelist Ben Rhodes, the organizer of the resistance foreign-policy shadow government that no one hears much about anymore.

Even the Arab world is relieved that Obama’s estrangement with Israel is over with. Whatever the Obama policy toward North Korea was, it was a prescription for nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. America met the Paris climate accord more effectively than most signees to the agreement, and through hated natural gas and not beloved wind and solar. The world did not end when the Golan Heights was not going to be given back to Assad’s Syria, or as the American Embassy moved to Jerusalem.

The epidemic put an end to lots of Obama lore. Secure borders are now the unquestioned consensus, not caravans blasting through rusty cyclone fences. Globalization is a synonym for Chinese hegemony. China is no longer a helpful partner in American efforts to address climate change and epidemics, as Obama once waxed. The interior of the country is no longer written off, and jobs will come back without a magic wand, and more so due to fear of current Chinese monopolies of essential U.S. goods. Obama hollowed out the U.S. military and saw it rebuilt by Donald Trump.

5. More MBD: He mocks the Orbán Haters, dead wrong on their charges of a Hungarian dictatorship. From the analysis:

It was on March 30th that the Hungarian Parliament approved a state-of-emergency law to deal with coronavirus that gave power to Viktor Orbán’s government to pass laws by decree, and instituted severe-looking restrictions on the dissemination of fake news. Several European countries had already passed enabling acts of this sort — France has seemed to go in and out of such states of emergency regularly in the last decade. That the emergency powers were a feature of Hungary’s existing constitution, limited by that constitution not to touch fundamental rights and subject to a parliamentary check, troubled none of these analysts.

At the time of this great panic for Hungarian democracy, Hungarian opponents of Orbán spread ludicrous and easily-checkable claims about the legislation, saying that the parliament itself had been suspended and elections cancelled, a claim spread by people as eminent as Anne Applebaum. Other experts told us confidently that these powers were gathered by Orbán for the purpose of suppressing the inevitably disastrous performance of his nation’s health-care institutions. American political strategists predicted extravagant things, such as: “He’s going to wind up putting Gypsies in permanent detention . . . ”

I predicted that Orbán would return the emergency powers back to Parliament roughly around the same time as France. This week, Hungary began the process, and all powers will be restored by June 20th. Currently, France’s emergency powers last until July 10th, but could be extended.

How did the predictions pan out? Hungary has seen just under 500 deaths out of slightly less than 3,500 cases, which, while serious, is nothing like the horrors visited upon Italy or Spain in recent months. Its hospital system, though far behind richer nations, did not break down.

6. Y’all Ain’t Better Not Read This: Kevin Williamson deciphers Joe Biden, pigmentation expert. From the essay:

When it comes to black voters, the best thing the Democratic Party has going for itself is the Republican Party. But coalitions change. It was not that long ago that rural whites were about 102 percent Democratic. It was not that long ago that struggling industrial workers in declining Rust Belt communities were among the most reliable Democratic voters there were. That changed.

There is a difference between working in a political coalition for mutual benefit and subordinating oneself or one’s community to the exigencies of party electioneering. The Democrats may have worked to represent the interests of rural whites as they understood them (that certainly was the view from New Deal, Texas, for a generation) but as the character of the party changed in the postwar years, the Democrats began to discover that the people on whose behalf they presumed to speak were no longer listening to them and no longer interested in having Democrats presume to act as their self-appointed tribunes. Republicans, for their part, watched suburb after suburb after suburb slip away from them as affluent and educated professionals turned their backs on a party that seemed to them too white, too Southern, too rural, too Evangelical, too bumptious. (As a matter of cynical and ironic political calculation, the real problem with the Republicans’ bad reputation on race is not the black votes it has cost them but the white votes it has cost them.) The Republican Party once had a home in the cities and suburbs, and thrived in such places as Southern California, now considered a lost cause for the GOP.

Today’s Democrats believe that it is impossible for them to lose the black vote. Republicans once believed precisely the same thing.

7. Dan McLaughlin has some perceptive observations on George Floyd’s death and the riotous reaction. From the analysis:

Riots, arson, and looting, however, are not, especially when they are just an excuse for heisting a television. As I wrote about the Ferguson riots in 2014, the people who try to excuse them are typically unwilling or unable to say openly what they are advocating. Our country was founded on the idea that there’s a time and a place when armed revolution against the government is justified. But violent protest is legitimate only in that situation. There remains a vigorous debate about whether John Brown was justified in trying to start a revolution over slavery; there are still some extremists in the anti-abortion movement who see nearly a million deaths a year as a high enough bar to justify revolutionary violence. But those are the extreme cases, and I remain skeptical even in those examples that the violent destruction of civil order could be justified. A society ruled by law, with civil order and a democratic process for seeking change, is a valuable and fragile thing, and societies that throw it away often find it cannot be rebuilt.

Moreover, in terms of media coverage, we should insist on a clear distinction between peaceful protest and violence, and we should insist on that distinction no matter what side or faction the violence comes from. When right-wingers engage in violence, the media conflates the two in order to delegitimize protest; when there are race riots, the media conflates the two in order to legitimize rioting. Only when you have left-wing assassination attempts such as the congressional baseball shooting or the Family Research Council shooting, or violence by Islamist radicals, will the media really hermetically seal the two. Let us be consistent. Free speech, even angry, overheated, and misguided speech, is not violence and is not responsible for violence. Speech that calls directly for violence can be responsible, but it is still not violence. Violence is not speech, it is violence.

8. More McLaughlin: Dan delivers another body blow to the 1619 Project. From the beginning of the essay:

I’ve previously covered the factual problems with the New York Times’ 1619 Project’s Pulitzer Prize–winning lead essay. The factual inaccuracies are important, but so is the narrative project that required them. Let’s answer two questions: What narratives are at stake in the 1619 Project, and why do conservatives care so much about the whole thing? The two are intimately connected questions.

There are five major narratives about the founding and development of America and its ideas, particularly as it concerns slavery and the place of African Americans in American history. What follow are, of course, simplified versions of these narratives, but they capture their essential thrust. While all five narratives contain some grain of truth, they are by no means equally accurate.

First, there is the Heroic Narrative. The Heroic Narrative is, basically, “only the good parts.” It’s the story of America’s triumphs and virtues with everything else left out or scrubbed into the margins. There is, however, virtually nobody who argues for teaching the Heroic Narrative above the level of introducing very small children to the highlights of the story first.

Second, we have the Lost Cause Narrative. The Lost Cause Narrative is the child of the Confederacy and its partisans. In academic history, it is most associated with the Dunning school of historians, who were particularly influential between the 1910s and the mid 1950s and left a lingering mark thereafter. It derives originally from the openly pro-slavery history and philosophy of antebellum figures such as John C. Calhoun, Thomas Roderick Dew, Roger Taney, Alexander Stephens, George McDuffie, and George Fitzhugh. In their own time, the Calhounists proclaimed that slavery was a positive good and a necessary component of the American economic and social system. They argued that the Constitution was explicitly intended to promote slavery and white supremacy. They urged that it was legitimate and even necessary to exercise federal power to defend slaveholders’ property rights, expand them into the territories, and acquire new lands for them.

9. Kyle Smith checks out the Central Park / Dog affair and hears the strong echoes of Covington. From the piece:

Possibly it was an overreaction for Ms. Cooper to call the police. Then again, when citizens feel threatened, calling the police and letting them sort it out is what is supposed to happen. What Mr. Cooper said to her was unmistakably a threat. It was reasonable for her to be scared. “I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it”? That’s a menacing thing to say. He then called the dog over while offering it a treat. He meant her to think he was going to poison her dog to motivate her to leash the animal. By his own admission, he said something calculated to frighten her. Apparently, he does this all the time; he carries dog treats while birding “for just such intransigence.” If there were no threat linked to his offering the dog a snack, he would not have prefaced this action by saying, “You’re not going to like it.” He didn’t say, “Look, let’s be reasonable here, I’ll even give your dog a nice snack to show I mean well.” Mr. Cooper intended to scare Ms. Cooper, he succeeded, and in her fear she called the cops.

Ms. Cooper would probably have been wise to leash her pet and walk briskly away, but when a stranger threatens to poison your dog in Central Park, that is bound to cause consternation. It’s not unreasonable for her to have felt herself (as well as the dog) personally threatened by Mr. Cooper’s saying, “I’m going to do what I want, and you’re not going to like it.” She later told CNN, “I didn’t know what that meant. When you’re alone in a wooded area, that’s absolutely terrifying, right?” A question for the mobs denouncing her: Would you abjure the right to call the police if you were alone in a park with a stranger who said to you, “I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it”?

10. Daniel Tenreiro scopes out Red China’s tough-guying of India. From the piece:

Of late, though, the Sino–Indian border has again become a flash point. Before the 2017 Doklam standoff, Chinese forces twice encroached on Indian territory in Ladakh, in 2013 and 2014. Those confrontations, coinciding with visits by Chinese leaders to India, represented attempts by the PRC to establish its superiority to India. A strengthening U.S.–India relationship has made Beijing cautious of its regional rival, increasing the strategic importance of the Sino–Indian border. Indeed, since the 1950s, the PRC has settled all its land-border disputes except for those with India and Bhutan. China has also strengthened ties to Pakistan, in a bid to put pressure on India.

While the recent trend indicates that the confrontation will end without casualties, each round of brinkmanship increases the likelihood of war. “The two sides’ ability to patrol these remote areas has increased significantly, leading to more clashes and run-ins,” Jaishankar says. For now, Indian and Chinese officials are attempting to settle the dispute diplomatically. Both governments have been relatively muted about the standoff, suggesting that neither side plans to escalate the standoff in the near future, but negotiations over the weekend ended without a settlement.

Whatever the outcome, the standoff highlights the challenges to China’s bid for regional hegemony. Ongoing disputes with Taiwan and Hong Kong have escalated just as the diplomatic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic materializes. Japan is now paying its businesses to leave China, a measure also under consideration by the U.S. Reuters reported that an internal memo presented to Chinese national-security officials recommended preparing for war with the U.S., citing a spike in anti-China sentiment to its highest level since the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. Surrounded on all sides by foes, Xi faces mounting obstacles to his goal of “national rejuvenation.”

11. Jerry Bowyer and Charles Bowyer offer instructions for conservatives to combat “woke” shareholders. From the article:

Special-interest groups buy shares, write proposals, show up at the conference, and slowly remake the corporate world in their image. Much of this is now being institutionalized under the heading of “ESG investing,” a notion that has found wide support among the large proxy ‘advisory services’ companies that vote on shareholders’ behalf on topics that can include divisive social issues, often without much input from the shareholders themselves. For the most part, large blue-state pension funds are also fully on board with ESG, as are some of the largest money managers in the world.

But this new status quo may finally be seeing the first signs of rebellion. With organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Center for Public Policy Research taking the lead, the politicization of the boardroom is being challenged. Amongst all the shareholder proposals designed to advance a particular ideological line, a few stand out from the pack. One, intended to challenge Amazon’s partnership with the largely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, will be voted on at Amazon’s meeting on the 27th. Amazon still relies on the SPLC’s “hate-list” for their “Smile” program, which allows customers to give small amounts to a charity “of their choice,” but, in practice, that choice is policed by the SPLC. Customers can only actually give to the charities that do not fall foul of the SPLC’s standards. This is a troubling thought, given that the SPLC once labeled moderate Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz an “anti-Muslim extremist” — until legal action compelled it to apologize to Nawaz, and to pay a settlement of over $3 million. The SPLC routinely smears conservative, Christian charities such as the Family Research Council as “hate groups” for promoting the traditional Christian understanding of sexual ethics. To regard it as a neutral mediator standing above the fray of partisanship is absurd.

Amazon, unfortunately, has played along with the SPLC and, to take one example, removed the Family Research Council from its Smile program after the SPLC labeled it as a hate group. This is what a resolution, to be voted on by shareholders at Amazon’s AGM on the 27th, aims to remediate. It calls for Amazon to issue a report “evaluating the range of risks and costs associated with discriminating against different social, political, and religious viewpoints.” As is the case for many shareholder resolutions, the expectation isn’t for it to pass as much as it is to gain traction and attention, showing Amazon’s board that conservative shareholders have a voice, too.

12. The Wuhan Virus is killing more men than women, but as John Hirschauer explains, such facts get hip-checked by a growing genre of journalism determined to find women as bearing the pandemic’s brunt. From the story:

The story of women’s COVID oppression is told half by anecdote and half by data. We are enjoined to pity the women who, confined to their homes by statewide stay-at-home orders, are engaged in more housework than their husbands. NBC News speaks with a think-tank official who presents a five-step plan “to reset the unfair division of labor at home during COVID-19;” NPR goes further than “unfair,” quoting a source who says that the pandemic has laid bare the “grotesque” gender inequalities in America’s division of household labor.

There is an entire genre of articles devoted to the supposedly benighted women of COVID-19, whose disproportionate attendance to childcare during the pandemic could, in Vox’s words, “harm women’s long-term career prospects.” The fact that the unemployment rate among women is about three percentage points higher than among men has been presented as evidence that between housework and economic misfortune, women are “bearing” the proverbial “brunt” of the pandemic — even as men are shown to be far more likely to die from the coronavirus.

These unemployment disparities and unequal divisions of household labor have been a subject of myopia among the nation’s most unpleasant media guild — “gender reporters” and “equity correspondents.” The very existence of their jobs, of course, is premised on there being sexism to fight, rampant discrimination to overturn, and looming forces of reaction eager to reinstall — if it was ever uninstalled — the patriarchy.

13. David Harsanyi finds Donald Trump’s social-media speech-policing to be illiberal. From the piece:

After all, when was the last time government intervention made speech more free or fair? Have conservatives forgotten that Citizens United was a decision sparked by bureaucrats who used existing election laws, passed in effort to ensure more “fairness,” to ban political speech? Have they forgotten that how easily IRS officials tasked as arbiters of that fair speech can abuse their power?

Maybe they’ll remember when Attorney General Kamala Harris is overseeing the White House Office of Digital Strategy and regulating online speech.

14. The Paris Agreement has a big problem, says Jordan McGillis. It’s Communist China. From the article:

In 2018, China added roughly 30 gigawatts of new coal-fired power capacity — about 60 power plants’ worth. In fact, China is in the process of building more coal-fired electricity generation capacity than the United States currently has in operation. By 2030 it is expected to have 1,300 gigawatts of coal power available to its grid. The U.S., by comparison, has 229 gigawatts of coal capacity. Though China’s new plants are of the more efficient supercritical and ultra-supercritical varieties, their cumulative emissions profile is enormous. Even if every Chinese plant were to emit 35 percent less than its American counterpart per unit of energy, as coal backers claim is possible, the total effect would still be staggering.

What’s more, China’s emissions-intensive investments do not stop at its borders. Just as crucially, China is constructing and financing hundreds of infrastructure projects and coal-fired power plants in countries across the developing world as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Through BRI, China has committed to building more than 200 coal-fired power plants in more than 24 countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Serbia to Zimbabwe. The endeavor is an infrastructure expansion such as the world has never seen, requiring gargantuan volumes of steel and concrete, two industrial products as carbon-intense as any. “While China has imposed a cap on coal consumption at home, its coal and energy companies are on a building spree overseas,” Yale Environment 360’s Isabel Hinton wrote last year.

According a 2019 World Bank Group working paper on BRI, “the potential for indirect effects of land‐use change and deforestation from BRI road and rail construction, as described above, could not only profoundly affect forest cover and ecosystem health but also generate a significant impact on the global climate.” These potential impacts are hidden when policy within China’s borders is evaluated in isolation. As Hinton describes, BRI will ensure that China’s partners develop in the carbon-intensive patterns that China itself has pledged to curb.

15. The EU is gunning for Israel. David Wurmser calls out the hypocrites. From the beginning of the piece:

Sometimes events provide clarifying moments. The European Union’s response to the prospect of Israel’s annexation of parts of the Jordan Valley, in which several almost entirely Jewish settlement blocs are located, is such a moment. By dressing up cynical political calculations as “the rule of law,” Europe in fact risks undermining Jewish rights and violating the very body of international law EU leaders claim to defend.

According to the EU, the lands Israel seized in 1967 are covered by the acquisition-of-force provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore Israel is to be considered an occupying power of the territories with all the legal obligations the convention imposes on such powers. Those include the nontransfer of populations, the prohibition on revision of borders to cede land to the occupier, and a variety of measures to protect the human and cultural rights of the populations, including the provisions not to change the cultural or religious nature of the occupied lands. It also establishes legal rights of the populations, including the prohibition on putting an inhabitant of that territory on trial in the occupier’s territory. As a result, the EU claims that any changes to the 1967 border are Geneva Convention violations. It further claims that Israel commits many more violations with its settlement and other policies. Even bringing an accused terrorist from Jerusalem or Hebron to stand trial in an Israeli court would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the EU. Annexations of land would constitute yet more violations.

Therefore, to maintain the rule of law and fulfill the EU’s rule-of-law ethos, the EU presidency and many of its members are seeking to punish Israel if it continues to build settlements, continues archaeological projects across the 1967 lines, or seeks to change the 1967 lines — which annexations would effectively do.

16. Ryan Young explains how regulation reform can help the pandemic battle and also help revive the American economy. From the piece:

Politicians do not make medical supplies. Entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers do — when they can get the right permits. Politicians will not lead an economic recovery, either. Washington can best help by getting out of the way — though doing so will take considerable effort.

Waiving regulations can take months or even years, even when they are clearly harmful. Trump’s new executive order is a start. It encourages agencies to use whatever emergency powers they have to speed along the cleanup process. Unfortunately, many drastic regulations are passed during emergencies, from unconstitutional national-security and surveillance policies to bailouts for favored big businesses. But fortunately, regulations can also be removed that way. We have a choice. The famous “ratchet effect” of government’s grabbing power during a crisis and keeping it afterward does not have to be an iron law.

The executive order directs agencies to use discretion in enforcing rules they keep and to “decline enforcement against persons and entities that have attempted in reasonable good faith to comply.” It also directs agencies to issue rulings and clarifications in a timely matter where possible. This would be a welcome change. People have more important things to worry about during a pandemic than filling out forms in triplicate.

17. Conrad Black says that the Obama administration / FBI–Trump–Russia scam requires full exposure at all levels. From the piece:

A criminal investigation into former holders of national office would be a momentous and disturbing development. As one who disputed at every stage (and has continued ever since its sorry completion) the judicial persecution of President Nixon, objected to the Walsh investigation of Iran-Contra and President Reagan and its unjust findings, and opposed the impeachment of President Clinton for the reasons that caused it to end in acquittal, I feel particularly strongly that there should be no criminal investigation and certainly no publicity of such an investigation of President Obama or Vice President Biden if there is any other less disruptive and less potentially abusive method of determining the facts that Barr has many times rightly stated must be ascertained. He wishes to get to the bottom of what seemed to him an unprecedented and unconstitutional assault upon a presidential campaign and a president-elect that continued more than halfway through the first term of the Trump presidency. This will require some examination of what role Obama and Biden played in that skullduggery, without prejudging it.

If Mr. Barr’s comment was tactical, it has been successful, in that the Democratic national political media (about 80 percent of the media) have been offloaded from Barr’s back and have ceased to revile him as a Trump lackey, as that would be unbecoming of the last protector of the threadbare Obama legacy. This cannot have been his purpose, but he may have been addressing only current probabilities. It is inconceivable that there were rogue directors of the FBI, CIA, and NIA, and officials in other senior echelons of government, plotting to frame or mousetrap a three-star general and former intelligence chief and mislead the FISA court with false requests for domestic espionage on a presidential campaign, without anyone consulting or informing President Obama. His role must be investigated, fairly and promptly. If he and Biden were engaged in illegal acts, the country must be enabled to make an informed decision on Election Day. If they were not, the country must know that, and they must not be stigmatized by the almost certain crimes of some of Obama’s appointees.

18. Andrew Foxall charges that the dependence of the U.S. and Western nations on Red China for important goods is dangerous. From the analysis:

Yet the pandemic has highlighted something that Trump’s National Security Strategy identified three years ago. Instead of becoming a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system — a term coined by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 to describe the role that the Bush administration hoped China would play following its 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) — China has instead “expanded its power at the expense of others.”

This is a point emphasized in the Trump administration’s report on “United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China,” published last week. The report argues that the Chinese Communist Party has “exploited” the advantages of WTO membership to advance a Marxist–Leninist political and economic system that is fundamentally at odds with the United States’s — and the West’s — free and open society. The wealth it has generated permits a full-spectrum approach to foreign policy that combines economic coercion, military saber-rattling, a mammoth state-sponsored media empire, and cohorts of witting and unwitting accomplices. The CCP has also plowed huge amounts of money into controlling global trade routes and stolen intellectual property on a massive scale.

All of this is undertaken to achieve Xi Jinping’s goal for China: to make it the world’s most powerful country by 2049. And there has already been some progress toward this. China has the world’s second-largest economy, a military-industrial complex and high-technology sector second only to those of the U.S., and the world’s largest population. Despite embracing capitalism to facilitate China’s rise, the CCP believes that it is engaged in an existential ideological–political battle with the West and that Communism will — and must — win out.

19. Jonathan Horn reminds us of POTUS 1, Father of Our Country, Pandemic Leader. From the beginning of the article:

The plan the president proposed for venturing back out so soon after the worst of the epidemic worried his advisers. If he followed such a course, they warned, he would go against the instructions of doctors and, worse, give fellow citizens license to do the same. Nevertheless, into the city the next day rode George Washington.

In search of parallels to the coronavirus, much has been written about the yellow-fever epidemic that chased the fledgling federal government from its then-capital of Philadelphia in the summer and fall of 1793. But the courage and independence that President Washington showed by returning to the city have gone largely overlooked — perhaps because the story does not conform to the mantra that medical expertise should always override political judgment during crises.

With the death toll mounting — eventually about 10 percent of the city’s population would perish — Washington had reluctantly joined the exodus from Philadelphia on September 10. Sensitive to symbolism, he would have delayed his departure, which he knew would demoralize the city. But he realized that his wife would insist on staying for as long as he did. “I could not think of hazarding her . . . any longer by my remaining in the city,” he wrote.

20. Brian Allen calls for museums to open. From the essay:

Most curators would be shocked to hear they have a public-service mission. And there’s management that caters to every fear of every neurotic on the staff. Museums can’t stay closed to accommodate any of these people. It’s irresponsible. The key job of museum director now is to reopen. The key job of every trustee is to ask “why not” when faced with navel-gazers.

People have been needlessly frightened by politicians and public-health bureaucrats who think we’re too dumb to be moved by anything more subtle than fear, and this terrible governance is bad for society, which, I think, has to get back to normal.

Here, again, I’m unorthodox among art critics. I think about jobs, tax revenue to pay for programs, and whether or not our children have a healthy attitude toward risk. I like risk-takers in the arts. We won’t enjoy cultural vibrancy if the public is a bunch of safe-space blobs. States and cities are already cutting grants to the arts. Art lovers are angry but, duh, where do they think the money comes from? Trash the tax base, we trash programs getting tax money. Trash the economy, we give philanthropy a kick in the butt.

After months of Black Death propaganda, and what we’re seeing is a form of atrocity propaganda, people need to be coaxed back to public spaces and communal living. Museums have a responsibility to do their part in advancing the irrefutable fact that Dracula, Freddy Kruger, and Jaws aren’t hiding behind every Giacometti bronze, or every dress rack or hot dog stand, or under every beach blanket, or next to us, in every seat at every concert, play, or lecture.

BONUS: Don’t worry Lana Del Ray, because Madeleine Kearns has your back. From the piece:

This (entirely pointless) controversy began when Del Rey argued for “the need for fragility in the feminist movement.” She pondered in an Instagram post why it was that other artists — women she admires, she later clarified — such as “Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé” all achieved praise and success with “songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f***ing, cheating, etc, [sic],” and yet her own work “about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect,” had resulted in her being “crucified” (perhaps a slight exaggeration) and accusations that she was “glamorizing abuse.”

Del Rey’s crime was that she had failed to notice that her list of comparators were all women of color. Teen Vogue’s Danielle Kwateng-Clark deplored “the Caucasity of it all.” Slate columnist Jamilah Lemieux tweeted: “I don’t know who was giving Lana Del Rey a hard time but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Black women. Girl, sing your little cocaine carols and leave us alone.” (Which is funny, at least.) Jezebel writer Ashley Reese wrote: “The optics of Lana, a white woman, complaining about feminism lacking space for her while critiquing the acclaim allotted to several black pop artists is mortifying.” Another writer for BuzzFeed called her “arrogant and ahistorical.”

But wait — who said anything about race? Del Rey is adamant that this was not at all her point. “The fact that they want to turn my advocacy for fragility into a race war is really bad,” she said. I’ll say! Further, she’s adamant that racializing feminism says more about her critics than it does about her. “I’m sorry that a couple of the girls I talked to, that I mentioned in that post, had a different opinion of my insight,” she wrote. Still, an experience such as this “makes you reach into the depth of your own heart and ask, ‘Am I good intentioned?’ and of course for me the answer is always yes.” Always? The saintly celeb then unwittingly continued to stoke progressive rage by making yet another comparator to an artist of color. “When I get on the pole, I get called a whore, but when Twigs gets on the pole, it’s art.”

Lights. Camera. Action!

1. Armond White thinks Young Ahmed is a dud. From the beginning of the review:

Young Ahmed (Le Jeune Ahmed), by Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, presents a perfect lesson in the folly of liberal sentimentality. It takes a clear-eyed look at 13-year-old Muslim Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) and his self-radicalization without blaming politics or religion. The Dardenne brothers avoid blame entirely through their now-familiar Cannes Film Festival multiple-award-winning approach to sociological drama.

The fear and compassion that convulses contemporary Europe are remote in the story of Ahmed’s giving up video games and pop-culture posters to study under a duplicitous Imam (Othmane Moumen), perform daily ablutions, read the Koran, and say his prayers. Ahmed seems a typical teenager in the way he gives over to a new fad, even if his zealous commitment causes him to insult his mother (Claire Bodson), then plan to kill his math teacher (Myriem Akheddiou), whom the Imam has identified as an infidel.

Ahmed is almost embryonic. Curly-haired, bespectacled, with a baby-fat face impassive with confusion, he is also dyslexic and awkward. The man in him is unformed. When defending the imam, a substitute father figure, Ahmed lies on purpose. Walking like a dork as he contemplates meeting and killing his teacher, he is potentially dangerous. His intelligence is expressed in deviousness, not exactly innocence (although he looks harmlessly innocent, like a young Tony Kushner).

2. Kyle Smith gets into the time machine and reconsiders the 2008 Coen Brothers film, Burn After Reading. From the review:

Twelve years ago Joel and Ethan Coen’s wack comedy Burn After Reading didn’t strike me as anything much, with its random and grotesque plot twists, but today it looks like it so perfectly understood how Washington works that it provided the template for how L’Affaire Mueller would play out. (Spoilers follow; the film is streaming on Starz.)

At the end of the movie, a disbelieving C.I.A. chief played by J. K. Simmons contemplates the 90 minutes of total insanity we’ve just seen, with several lives violently ended and others permanently damaged because of a misunderstanding on the part of a pair of idiotic gym rats, and says, “I’m f***ed if I know what we did.” Somewhere out there in Mueller land some earnest career public servant must be saying the exact same thing. People were interrogated by the FBI, lives were ruined, jail terms were sternly handed down, Michael Flynn was stripped of $5 million and demolished. All of this happened . . . why? Because of a . . . rumor about a pee tape? Disbelief that Donald Trump could have been legitimately elected president without some nefarious foreign interference? Anger about John Podesta’s emails leaking out because he fell for a dopey phishing scheme? Fretting about Russian Facebook memes featuring Jesus arm-wrestling Satan?

Can wise, dedicated, highly trained public servants really have allowed themselves to get torched in this moronic inferno? “You’re part of a league of morons,” says the Princeton-educated career CIA analyst Osbourne, played by John Malkovich, when he thinks he has sorted out all of the fallacies that have led him to train a pistol on a lovelorn gym manager in his basement. But the joke’s on “Ozzy,” as colleagues call him. He’s the biggest moron of all because his miscalculations are what got the whole thing going. If he had accepted a transfer from the CIA to the State Department rather than making his wife furious by quitting his job in a huff, and if he hadn’t taken to writing his memoirs as a self-deluding form of payback against the Agency, he wouldn’t be facing the fate that awaits him, which is getting shot to death in his bathrobe. Personal trainers, Treasury Department security officers, the Ivy League WASP aristocracy at Langley: They’re all part of the Washington League of Morons.

3. Itxu Díaz says that The Duke is the hero we need. From the piece:

Over the years, Wayne developed an extraordinary nose for detecting Communists. On one occasion, during a shoot in the middle of the Cold War, he asked the film director Edward Dmytryk, “Are you a Commie?” Dmytryk answered: “If the masses of the American people want Communism, I think it’d be good for our country.” “Well, to me,” said the Duke, later recalling the exchange, “the word ‘masses’ is not a term generally used in Western countries, and I just knew he was a Commie.”

Wayne’s anti-Communism is no outdated sentiment. The coronavirus crisis is reviving the worst ghosts of Communism’s dehumanizing ideology: an overdose of regulations, massive surveillance, the presumption of guilt, venomous state paternalism, and economic aids that, although sometimes necessary, turn millions into passive citizens clinging helplessly to the public treasury. Don’t forget that in any crisis there is always some enlightened person saying, “Let’s give the whole world a salary and end poverty.” And then there’s always some damned party-pooper-son-of-a-hyena innocently asking, “And who’s going to pay for that?” More often than not, that damned party-pooper-son-of-a-hyena will be yours truly.

Wayne got it right; he drew no distinctions between liberals, socialists, and Communists. What separates Biden from Sanders is little more than a couple of bouts of sniffing a young girl’s hair and the occasional whoop. But the whole Left is marching toward the same precipice. Look at Venezuelan Chavism, Spanish socialism, European social democracy, or Cuban Communism. They are different degrees of the same project to annihilate individuality and strengthen the state. A brilliant P. J. O’Rourke wrote years ago (and it’s still true today), “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

John Wayne abhorred the masses, even his own following. This set him free to be critical, even of his own people. And there lies the difference between conservatives and progressives: individual thought. The conservative tends to value his own thought. The progressive believes in collective thought, ignoring that, in human nature, such a thing simply does not exist. There are global fevers, such as the gold rush or tulip mania; there’s widespread blindness, like the one afflicting so many Biden-loving reporters; there can also be a feeling that many people share, such as (in my case) an infatuation with tennis player Maria Sharapova. But there is no such thing as collective thinking.

Podcastapalooza

1. On Episode 83 of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the death of George Floyd, the scuffle surrounding Judge Sullivan, and look at the insider-trading case against Senator Burr. Court’s in session, here.

2. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the emptiness and diminished legacy of the Obama administration, and his gilded-Socialism cashed-in post-presidency; the ACLU’s foray into fighting due process on campus; Stanford colleague Michael Levitt’s told-you-so warnings about pandemic predictions and the deadly impact of lockdowns; India’s standing as a U.S. ally; and Joe Biden’s expectations of Black Americans. Catch the wisdom here.

3. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss Trump’s tweets aimed at Joe Scarborough, Biden’s awkward exchange on The Breakfast Club, and how reopening is happening whether the experts think it should or not. Pay heed, here.

4. And on yet another episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the Minneapolis riots. They also have an extended conversation concerning the president’s uncalled-for tweets about Joe Scarborough and the spotlight this has thrown on Section 230. It’s all happening here.

5. Bully! On the new episode of The Great Books, John J. Miller and Thomas Bruscino of the U.S. Army War College discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s The Rough Riders. Listen loudly and carry a big set of headphones, here.

6. JJM then does his switcheroo and on The Bookmonger talks with Senator Tom Cotton about Cotton’s new book, Sacred Duty. Listen here.

7. On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will spend too much time on Trump vs Twitter, and then consider the Ninth Circuit’s decision declaring the Bill of Rights a “suicide pact” to be suspended by judges “with a little practical wisdom.” Catch the wisdom here.

8. On the new Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss libel law, the Minneapolis riots, and more. Listen and learn here.

9. On Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke consider the life and career of John Quincy Adams, one-term POTUSes, and the last Jeffersonian. Hear ye, here.

The Six

1. In Commentary, Noah Rothman bemoans the always-inconsistent mandates that made the NYC-area quarantine a despondent affair. From the article:

The contradictions associated with the lockdown were enough to drive you insane. The seamless transition public officials made from advocating extraordinary measures designed to spare the health-care system from catastrophic collapse to the unceasing perpetuation of those measures until the risk of new infections became negligible was just the latest exasperation.

Don’t leave your house unless it is absolutely necessary, we were told. “This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy,” Dr. Deborah Birx advised the public on April 5. But, if it is necessary, you should feel free to stock up on food and medicine. And make sure you support your local businesses as much as possible. They’re hurting.

You should not wear face masks, we were informed. They do not help prevent the spread of this infection and can provide wearers with a false sense of security. But sometimes, they do help. In fact, they’re now mandatory, even though they were long ago sold out and are available only on backorder. Don’t go out without one.

Whatever you do, we were notified, don’t go to a hospital. “If you are sick, don’t walk into a doctor’s office or an ER without calling ahead,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asserted on March 20. “Only leave your home if directed to after a #telehealth consultation.” All elective and preventive medical services were put on hold for the foreseeable future. That is, unless you’re homeless. In which case, you have the option of either going to a shelter or the hospital, and you should probably choose the latter.

It’s important to get exercise, we were instructed. The last thing you want to do right now is become sedentary and risk the associated health complications. But with the parks closed, you’ll just have to walk down the middle of the street. And we hope you got one of those masks, because you could be criminally liable if you’re seen without one. At the very least, make sure you get a mask ahead of your municipal court appearance.

And, most important, it’s critical that you preserve your sanity. After all, extreme stress is an immunosuppressant.

2. France has adopted a law to ban “hate speech.” At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman finds it to be a threat to free speech. From the commentary:

Having acknowledged that online “hatred” is tricky to prosecute under the existing laws because “few complaints are filed and few investigations are successful, few convictions are handed down”, but nevertheless determined that censorship is the panacea to the perceived problems, the French government decided to delegate the task of state censorship to the online platforms themselves. Private companies will now be obliged to act as thought police on behalf of the French state or face heavy fines. As in Germany, such legislation is bound to lead to online platforms exhibiting overzealousness in the removal or blocking of anything that might conceivably be perceived as “hateful” to avoid being fined.

The purpose of the law appears to have been twofold — not only to achieve the actual censorship of speech by the removal or blocking of online posts, but also the (inevitably) chilling effects of censorship on online debate in general. “People will think twice before crossing the red line if they know that there is a high likelihood that they will be held to account,” French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet said in what sounded ominous for a government representative to say in a country that still claims to be democratic.

From the beginning, when French President Emmanuel Macron first tasked the group led by Laetitia Avia with preparing the law, the proposal was met with criticism from a number of groups and organizations. France’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights criticized the law proposal for increasing the risk of censorship, and La Quadrature du Net, an organization that works against censorship and surveillance online, warned that, “Short removal times and large fines for non-compliance further incentivize platforms to over-remove content”. The London-based free speech organization Article 19 commented that the law threatened free speech in France.

3. In City Journal, James Copland recounts the real-life costs of bad regulation. From the piece:

With cases and deaths growing exponentially, federal regulatory authorities can be expected to fast-track new approaches. The agencies were much less willing to afford latitude to the private sector just weeks ago, though—and the United States is now much more vulnerable as a result. Chinese authorities uploaded the SARS-CoV-2 genome onto the Internet on January 10. The CDC developed its own testing protocol by January 21; international scientists developed a different test by the same date, which was soon disseminated en masse by the World Health Organization.

The U.S. testing process failed. The day that the CDC announced it had developed its testing protocol, January 21, was the date of the first documented American case of coronavirus. South Korea documented its first case the same day. But by March 17, the United States had administered only 125 tests per 1 million people; South Korea had administered more than 5,000 tests per 1 million over the same time span. By aggressive testing, South Korea was able to trace viral spread and contain it. Without it, the U.S. was left with little choice but the draconian measures that have shut down much of American life.

As has been widely reported, the CDC’s in-house testing design was flawed, thus compromising early testing results. Mistakes happen, but the impact of the test-design flaw was much greater than it should have been—owing to the U.S. bureaucracy’s tightly controlled process. Even had the CDC test worked perfectly, not nearly enough tests would have been available for wide-scale testing on the South Korean model.

4. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera reflects on Patton, a great movie about a great general. From the review:

Patton was as necessary in the European war as MacArthur was in the Pacific, and was likewise a figure we compare to demigods rather than ordinary officials in government institutions. But he was also needed in 1970, when the movie revived his reputation, and he is needed again 50 years later—because we are constantly in danger of forgetting what kind of men we need to deal with our crises, when the nation seems resigned to paralysis and suffering.

Coppola understood this very well and he therefore concentrated on revealing character—what does it really mean to be a captain in the ancient sense, to rule armies in order to save your country? The movie neglects the technical side of Patton’s career and only hints at his lifelong study of history, but it simply assumes skillfulness to be part of his character.

Only when we see a man of such ability, who commands by excellence, do we really understand an army’s purpose. At least since World War II, we have placed too much faith in technology and institutions, and not enough in the power of individual character or the capacity of great leaders to make order out of chaos.

Character is the hardest thing for us to study and so Coppola insistently presents the mysterious, romantic part of Patton’s character over the more calculating, contemplative side of his character. The film predominately shows us the man who wrote “Through A Glass Darkly,” rather than the one who painstakingly composed tactical manuals and combed history for lessons in command. It is true, though, that he believed in reincarnation and longed to have lived and fought glorious ancient wars. He never wanted to be anything but a soldier—his every interest was aristocratic. Patton belonged to the Romantic side of America—his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

5. At The American Conservative, Christopher Shaw makes the right-of-center case for the U.S. Postal Service. From the piece:

For decades, a sizable contingent of congressional Republicans who represent rural states and districts could be depended on to reject postal reforms that threatened their constituents’ mail delivery. Back in 1967, Senator Frank Carlson (R-Kans.) acknowledged the deep affection his constituents felt for the nation’s postal system. “There’s such a feeling of warmth between the local postmaster and the people,” he observed. When Trent Lott (R-Miss.) served in the House in the late 1970s, he stressed that “the Postal Service goes into rural areas and provides a lot of services that the people probably would not [otherwise] receive.”

The noted Chicago School economist Milton Friedman reached the same economic conclusion, stating that “local delivery subsidizes mail for remote areas.” Yet the political backing rural Republican members of Congress have long provided the Postal Service may be weakening. Although the Pew Research Center reports that rural Americans are 12 percent less likely to have broadband internet than those living in cities, Mississippi’s Republican delegation in the House turned its back on the position Lott once insisted upon when they all voted against eliminating the pre-funding requirement this past February.

A precarious Postal Service has national security implications. Although too rarely acknowledged, as a core component of our nation’s infrastructure, the Postal Service plays an important national security role. Its extensive network of processing centers and post offices give its employees the unique ability to rapidly deliver physical items to every address in the country. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services have developed plans that can harness this capability in the event of a catastrophic biological incident. When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, it may arrive at Americans’ doors via postal letter carriers accompanied by law enforcement or military personnel. Many postal workers themselves have prior military service, with veterans constituting nearly 15 percent of the agency’s workforce.

6. At Quillette, Robert Cherry asks why American women of all racial backgrounds are marrying less. From the piece:

Many commentators have also pointed to the inability of many black women to partner with similarly educated black men. Among black people aged 25 years and older, 42 percent of women and 52 percent of men have no more than a high school degree; and while 33 percent of black women have at least an associate’s degree, the comparable figure for black men is only 25 percent. The mismatch is even greater when you take into account that interracial marriage rates among newlyweds are also substantially higher for black men (24 percent) than for black women (12 percent), with the gap increasing as educational attainment rises. By contrast, Latinas and Asian women are more likely to intermarry than their male counterparts. Thus, disparate educational attainment and out-marriage rates, it is argued, have created further obstacles for unmarried black women.

The discussion concerning the white community is more muted. Between 1995 and 2010, there were significant family formation changes. The share of 12 year-old children born to and still living with married parents declined from 63 to 52 percent, while the share in cohabitating relationships increased from five to 14 percent. However, child stability was still much greater for white than for black children. In 2010, only one-third of black children were living with both biological parents compared to almost three-quarters of white children. At age 12, only one-fifth of black children were born to biological parents who were still married. This may be one reason we haven’t heard as much about the destructive effect of the declining marriage rate among white people as we have about the impact of the opioid crisis.

Looking at the educational attainment of men and women can shed some light on marriage market dynamics. Using composite data for 2008 – 2017, economists Lichter, Price, and Swigert compared the characteristics of currently married men to those of unmarried men aged 25 – 45. They found that the income of married men is 58 percent higher, employment rates are 30 percent higher, and married men are 19 percent more likely to have a four-year college degree than unmarried men. These disparities point to the shortcomings of unmarried men, forcing many women to make compromises if they wish to marry.

Baseballery

Of occasional subjective interest in these parts of the WJ is the connection between two players, old and young, and the span of decades the two have experienced on big-league ball fields. Your Humble Fogey suggests a duet of duos today.

The first involves two men who faced each other on a Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park in 1959, the season’s last game for the two sub-.500 teams, the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox. The home team prevailed that day, 6–2. On the mound for the visiting Senators was the tall rookie southpaw, Jim Kaat, in his third career game. From his perspective, it wasn’t a pretty outing: In just 1 1/3 innings, he gave up five hits and six earned runs. Two of those hits (a single and a double, accounting for two RBIs) were had by the 40-year-old Ted Williams, the AL’s reigning batting champ, in the penultimate season of a career that had begun in 1939 (in his first MLB game, against the Yankees in the Bronx on Opening Day, he played against Lou Gehrig, who would call it quits just seven games later).

As for Kaat, he had miles to go: He pitched another 24 seasons, donning the uniforms of the Twins, Yankees, White Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals, for whom he ended his career in 1983, having compiled a 283–237 record and a 3.45 ERA (and 16 Gold Glove awards). The Williams-Kaat span of 44 seasons is a thing of wonder, for those who like to wonder over such things.

Kaat — but for Tommy John and the essentially blackballed Roger Clemens — has the most career wins of a non-Hall-of-Famer.

Speaking of that Tommy John: He began his 26-season career (spent over 27 years, one lost to a famous surgery) in 1963, a fresh-faced 20-year-old southpaw added late-season to the bullpen staff of the second-division Cleveland Indians. Sitting alongside him on the bench was one of the game’s great pitchers, the 43-year-old Early Wynn, who had first pitched in 1939 as a Washington Senator. That first game was a complete-game 6–4 loss to the White Sox, before a measly home field crowd of 500 at Griffin Stadium. Wynn’s last MLB appearance came 24 years later to the day: a brief relief appearance against the Angels.

Wynn, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1972 and won the Cy Young award at the tender age of 39 in 1959, sported a 300–244 career record, with a 3.54 ERA, in 23 seasons (he spent 1940 in the minors, and 1945 in the military). Alas, Wynn and John never pitched in the same game in 1963 — John actually started and lost the game following Wynn’s final appearance — but they were active teammates, if only for a few weeks.

John’s final appearance came in 1989, against the same Angels: He started and took no decision in an 8–6 Yankee win in The Bronx. The two former Indian hurlers’ careers bridged 50 years — it might be the National Pastime’s greatest such combo.

A Dios

Wisdom is there to be had. So is peace. And mercy. And even the defeat of enemies (communists!) hostile to creation and the Creator. If we but ask. Maybe pray for such — for yourself, for leaders, for the scandalized and angry. There is so much for us to pray for this weekend. A humble suggestion: Get on your knees and do it.

May the Ancient of Days Bring Peace to You and Yours and All,

Jack Fowler, who will employ his rosary for your requests, tendered to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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