I thank the Lord above for the distraction of baseball-reference.com. My second home (NRO is the first), it is always there awaiting us nerds, offering statistical relief from political and cultural hooplas, providing a wormhole to ye olden days of our National Pastime, answering the questions of the most fevered, daydreaming brain (“I wonder, who led the 1935 Pittsburgh Pirates in complete games?” — the answer is Cy Blanton). Do check out Baseballery, way below — there’s a nerdy cool observation there. But first: Gaze at that picture of Gehrig, Speaker, Cobb and the Bambino. Makes you want to run out and have a catch or hit fungo, no? By the way, Speaker looks like an old man (he was 40 when the photo was taken in 1928 — it was his last season). I guess years of afternoons in sunny center-fields can do that to you. Anyway, let’s . . .
1. On the Memo Freakout, National Review sides squarely against the freaks. From the editorial:
The memo is portrayed as a blatant PR gimmick and a clear and present danger to America’s intelligence operations. But from what we know of Nunes and his colleagues, they have long been sincerely alarmed at what they’ve learned about how the FBI operated in 2016. The suspicions have been heightened by the bizarre stonewalling of the committee’s inquiry by a Republican-led Justice department (this background accounts for why the committee hasn’t worked closely with the DOJ on the memo).
2. Nope, Congress shouldn’t act to “protect” special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Here’s a slice from the editorial:
As the Nixon and Clinton precedents teach, there is no doubt that a president who engages in criminal conduct to impede an investigation — e.g., bribery of witnesses, suborning of perjury — is vulnerable to impeachment and eventual prosecution for obstruction of justice. It is highly doubtful that an obstruction charge would arise from lawful executive conduct — such as firing a subordinate, as in the case of Comey, or weighing in on the merits of prosecuting a former subordinate, as in the case of Michael Flynn. That we may judge these actions foolish is a separate matter from their legal propriety, which is incontestable.
1. President Trump’s primo State of the Union address gets reviewed by Kevin and Charlie in the new episode of Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Listen here.
2. The guest on this week’s edition of Reality Check with Jeanne Allen is education expert Gerard Robinson, who ran the education departments of two states, and who passionately explains the nexus between criminal-justice reform and education. Listen here.
3. Jaywalking takes Mr. Nordlinger down the path of discussing the remarkable life of the late King Michael of Romania. Listen here.
4. David and Will reveal everything you wanted to know about Los Angeles mayor and governor-wannabe Antonio Villaraigosa but were afraid to ask. It’s a must-hear Radio Free California. Listen here.
7. The Projections duo of Kyle and Ross look at the Oscar nominations, talk about an old film (Absence of Malice), and gossip about a sawed-off actor. Catch all the fun here.
11. Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle joins Jonah on the new episode of The Remnant to offer a sensible libertarian’s perspective on whether dogs are Marxist, and to discuss the whether: whether drugs should be legalized, whether libertarians should be classified by their preferred subway stop, and whether you should go to that party or not. Whether or not you want to, listen here because there is so going to be a quiz.
12. As we go to press, uploaded into the NRO interweb machinery is the brand new edition of The Editors, in which Rich, Charlie, and Michael Brendan Dougherty discuss President Trump’s first State of the Union address, the ongoing Russia investigation, and #releasethememo. Lend it your ear, here.
A Dozen Wondrous NR Pieces that Will Make Your Weekend
1. As usual, a super Victor Davis Hanson overview. This one, of how all the major scandals impacting D.C. liberals originated in the failed belief that Hillary was going to be 2016’s sure winner. From this must-read piece:
In reductionist terms, every single scandal that has so far surfaced at the FBI and DOJ share a common catalyst. What now appears clearly unethical and probably illegal would have passed as normal in a likely 16-year Obama-Clinton progressive continuum.
2. State of the Union One: Among NRO’s many observations is this smart one by Ramesh Ponnuru, who finds
But there was almost nothing of substance about 2018. The great exception is immigration, where he laid out a relatively detailed proposal in a way that will strike people without strong views on the subject as fair and sensible. Long stretches of the speech were, however, simply vacuous, as when Trump endorsed higher infrastructure investment and lower opioid addiction rates without saying a word about how these goods would be achieved. These were goals, not policies.
3. State of the Union Two: David French finds Trump creating a powerful pro-life moment.
4. State of the Union Three: Michael Brendan Dougherty was not thrilled. From his commentary:
I have no idea if this dynamic is sustainable for four years. As someone who works in political media, I find the way that Trump takes all the oxygen out of the room asphyxiating. And television series usually do go into terminal decline someday. But this feels like the way the Trump presidency was meant to unfold. He has mostly given up his fight for a populist redesign of the GOP, having found that the Republican Congress isn’t interested. His Cabinet and White House have mostly been re-stocked with dutiful hands who save him from his own worst proclivities — the producers in the media helped make sure of that, lest they lose their own jobs too. And he himself is free to play the president on television, as all of America looks on transfixed.
5. More French: David’s piece smithereening the New York Times for its idiotic position on religious conscience is a must-read. Here’s a slice:
I often hear statists describe religious-liberty or free-speech claims as a form of “special pleading” — with people of faith seeking special protections unavailable to the rest of America. This is exactly backwards. Liberty is the supreme law of the land, and it is governments that must secure special permission before encroaching on individual rights. Governments are engaged in special pleading. Governments are seeking the special privileges. In other words, the “balancing” isn’t a neutral process but rather a process in which the Constitution itself puts the thumb on the scales for freedom.
6. The Cleveland Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” may have been the best in baseball, if not in any and all sports, and may be one of the best brand images in any business. But this week MLB’s PC apparatchiks have claimed his scalp. Phil DeVoe has the story on the Chief’s demise.
7. The great movie director John Ford was the subject of yet another terrific piece by Kyle Smith.
8. Global-warming madness: Washington governor Jay Inslee’s renewed push for a carbon tax on greenhouse-gas emissions might affect the Evergreen State’s temperature . . . 2/1000 of a degree. Benjamin Zycher has the story, and here’s part of it:
In his State of the State address, Inslee used the phrase “carbon pollution” no fewer than five times. That term is political propaganda, the obvious purpose of which is to cut off debate before it begins by assuming the answer to the underlying policy question. Carbon dioxide is not “carbon,” and it is not a “pollutant,” as a certain minimum atmospheric concentration of it is necessary for life itself. By far the most important GHG in terms of the radiative properties of the troposphere is water vapor; no one calls it a “pollutant.” Why not? Is it because ocean evaporation is a natural process? So are volcanic eruptions, but the toxins, particulates, and other effluents emitted by volcanoes are pollutants by any definition. All of us would do well to use the phrase “greenhouse gases,” which has the virtue of being scientifically accurate without assuming the answer to the underlying policy question.
10. In 2014 California passed Proposition 47, which took numerous felonies (grand theft, forgery, etc.) and made them criminal misdemeanors. Talk about consequences. Erica Sandberg has the terrible story. A piece:
Certainly San Franciscans aren’t debating whether or not crime is up. They know it is. In January, Police Chief William Scott acknowledged a 24 percent jump in property crimes from 2016 to 2017. Auto break-ins have soared in every district, and the arrest rate for them is an astonishing 1.6 percent. Citizens are right to feel disgusted and demoralized. In areas such as the Tenderloin, which is home for many of the city’s low-income immigrants, impoverished senior citizens, and families with young children, quality of life has deteriorated. Now more than ever, residents and merchants are living with a proliferation of addicts who roll up their sleeves, inject, and then nod off on the sidewalks or careen down the street and into traffic. To fulfill customer demand, dealers sell packets of powder or pills in plain view of passers-by. There is no reason to hide. Why not shoot up wherever you want, leave bloody syringes in piles, steal, and deal when there are few, if any, consequences?
11. Media bias is old, and destructive. Arthur Herman looks at the 50th anniversary of what was an American military victory, the Tet Offensive, turned into a stalemate, quagmire, and defeat by a determined liberal media. From his piece:
That campaign of misrepresentation culminated in Walter Cronkite’s half-hour TV special on February 27, when he told his viewers with an appropriately glum face that Tet had proved that America was now “mired in a stalemate” — even as American forces were breaking the siege around Khe Sanh and clearing out the last resistance in Hue.
The misrepresentation by America’s most respected newsman and most trusted media outlets of what had actually happened during Tet stunned the American public and the body politic. Popular support for the war took a heavy hit, as the war’s critics now grabbed center stage. Gallup polls in December 1967 had shown Americans evenly split on whether entering Vietnam was a mistake. The barrage of negative coverage of Tet had nudged the doubters slightly ahead by February 1, 46 to 42 percent. By April, the doubters were ahead by eight points, and support for the war never recovered.
12. How about a second serving of Phil? Good! He reports on how Democrats are stuck in immigration-maximalist mode.
BONUS: State of the Union Four, from head honcho Rich Lowry’s new column:
“Politically, it isn’t Trump the alleged tool of the Russians or Trump the budding dictator that Democrats have to fear most; it’s Trump the nationalist unifier.”
The Buckley Legacy Project
National Review Institute is marking the tenth anniversary of Bill Buckley’s death (he passed away February 27, 2008) with a series of forums around the country to celebrate his legacy. Half-day forums will be held in Palm Beach (February 6), Dallas (March 6), Houston (March 7), San Francisco (March 27), Newport Beach (March 28), and Chicago (April 12). Among those who will be on hand to talk about Bill, the First Amendment, the state of conservatism, and much more are Rush Limbaugh, Rich Lowry, Andy McCarthy, Ed Feulner, Brent Bozell, John Yoo, Neal Freeman, Jay Nordlinger, Kevin Williamson, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rick Brookhiser, Charles Kesler, David French, John O’Sullivan, Al Felzenberg (you’ve got to buy Al’s terrific WFB biography, A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr.), and others. We hope you will join us at one of these excellent forums. To get complete information, visit here.
Eight Gotta-Check-’Em-Out Pieces by Our Pals and Paisans
1. Stop the world: The College Fix reports on Drag Queer outrage at the Harvard “Hasty Pudding” theatrical group. Don’t ask me to explain. But do read the piece by Daniel Payne.
2. Big European Brother is watching. At the Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman finds the EU is “making totalitarianism great again.” From her piece:
This assurance of freedom of expression and pluralism comes across as rather laughable: the EU already does what it can to eliminate “media pluralism and … diverse and reliable information”. The EU, for example, has programs in place – such as the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) – that seek heavily to influence European mainstream news outlets and their journalists with its own agendas – such as that of continued mass-migration into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. For this purpose, the European Commission recently funded the publication of a handbook with guidelines for journalists on how to write about migrants and migration. The handbook was launched on October 12 by the International Press Institute (IPI) – an association of media professionals representing leading digital, print and broadcast news outlets in more than 120 countries. Specifically, with regard to Muslims, the guidelines recommend:
“Take care not to further stigmatise terms such as ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ by associating them with particular acts . . . Don’t allow extremists’ claims about acting ‘in the name of Islam’ to stand unchallenged. Highlight . . . the diversity of Muslim communities.”
3. In the Claremont Review of Books, Henry Olsen, author of The Working-Class Republican, reviews Joan C. Williams’ White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America. From the review:
Williams’s fine explanation of the white working-class mindset should persuade progressives to form a bigger, more powerful center-left coalition by reaching out to these voters. Instead, she betrays her own progressive mindset by focusing on the wrong things. The green agenda, for example, is one reason so many of these people suffer falling wages and disappearing jobs. Many make their living in areas peculiarly dependent upon fossil fuel production and consumption: people who drill for oil and gas, or mine coal, but also those who log trees, or drive gas-burning trucks, or make things in fossil fuel-burning factories. Anything that restricts energy production or drives up its cost will make the working class more economically precarious. Yet Williams never even mentions the green climate-change agenda as a potential barrier to making common cause with these workers.
Anyone who wondered if Trump could sound presidential can set his mind at rest. What should worry Democrats is that at moments he sounded like the Founding Fathers.
5. Straight Outta Myron: We’ll give our friend and CJ a second bite at the WJ apple. He tells Jay-Z to Cut the C-Rap. He’s a cut of his up-jumping the boogie:
If Jay-Z wants to see someone truly hurtful to blacks — by contrast with Trump, under whose administration black unemployment has plunged to 6.8 percent in December, the lowest rate on record — he might usefully take a hard look at himself and the tribe of rap “artists” he leads. What is keeping down American blacks today is not racism, oppression, or lack of opportunity. That’s over. Black Americans are now free. What holds them back is the ideology of “authentic blackness” — a black identity rooted in the urban underclass culture of hatred of authority (especially of the police, the teacher, and the boss), indifference to learning, misogyny, sex stripped of love or commitment, hustling, resentment, drug trafficking and using, tolerance of lawbreaking, and rage, rage, rage, the hallmark of keeping it real. That’s the message rap hammers home constantly with its mind-numbing rhythm. Classical and jazz trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis, who despises rap more because it is anti-music — devoid of harmony, beauty, structure, transcendence, or thought — than because of its odious, subliterate lyrics, nevertheless scornfully dismisses the medium’s main story line: “Now you have to say that you’re from the streets, you shot some brothers, you went to jail. Rappers have to display the correct pathology.”
Michael Wolff, bard of the sensational and the banal, began this saga with a rumor whose arrow aimed straight at Nikki Haley’s reputation. That she would defend herself against it, Wolff suggested — the suggestion is itself both sensational and banal – is its own proof that her reputation deserves diminishment: evidence of Haley’s opportunism, if not, indeed, her guilt. It’s a tautology that, as will usually be the case, reveals much more about the spreader of the rumor than it does about the subject. In Fire and Fury, Wolff anonymously quotes a White House senior staffer mocking the administration’s UN ambassador for being “as ambitious as Lucifer” — yet another person, apparently, who looks at Nikki Haley and finds her failing to behave “with requisite submission.”
8. Bethany Mandel, writing in The Federalist, high fives author and old pal Naomi Schaefer Riley for her new book Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat.
Follow, follow, follow
Henry Olsen, Myron Magnet, National Association of Scholars, John Tierney, Prager U, Bethany Mandel, Matt Welch, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Dan McLaughlin, Erica Sandberg, Arthur Herman, Gerard Robinson, Jerry Z. Muller, Jerome Cohen, Eli Lake, Legal Insurrection, Amity Shlaes, Ashbrook Center, Teach American History, Megan McArdle.
A Classic World War II Movie Recommendation
This might be the game in which the most-ever eventual Hall-of-Famers (13!) squared off: Thursday, May 24th, 1928, with the first-place Yankees besting the second-place Philadelphia A’s in a 9-7 homerless slugfest. It was the first game of doubleheader, watched by some 40,000 fans. Look at who took the field for the first game: For the A’s, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, and Mickey Cochrane, and for the Bronx Bombers, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Leo Durocher, and pitcher Waite Hoyt. Sitting in the dugouts were managers Miller Huggins (Yanks) and Connie Mack (A’s) – future Hall-of-Famers. As were two guys in the Yankee bullpen that day: Herb Pennock and Stan Coveleski. Mama mia!
The Bold and the Beautiful
Over at Bold TV, founded by paisana Carrie Sheffield, a new program launches this weekend, Bold Life. It’s hosted by the delightful Kirsten Haglund, and also features my bellissima amica Francesca Lana. Break-a-da leg! Watch it here.
Let our hearts call it a day. But before you walk away, I sincerely want to say . . . well, let’s let Andy Williams do it. Or Chuckie Trenet can for those of you who prefer all French. God’s blessings and favors and graces on you and yours.