The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Hate to Ruin Your Day, But . . .

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The publication date of this missive falls on that rarest of days, which reminds one, leapin’ lizards, of Little Orphan Annie. Which has me wondering: Who is the Daddy Greenbucks behind Michael Mann’s lawsuit against NR? Didja know he has intended from the get-go to “ruin” this institution?

More on that below, along with more links than you could display at the annual Sausage Convention.

Leaping lizards and leaping logic: That’s found in so much published on NRO this week past, from Democratic “rationales” on allowing abortion-surviving infants to die, to more Democratic rationale — that Bernie Sanders could be elected president.

Well, by next week’s edition — the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries having been held — the political landscape might be quite different. So, let us pray, might be the Dow Jones Average. And the reality and angst of the coronavirus.

On with the Jolt!

Editorial

1. Big Surprise. Michael Mann, false Nobel Peace Prize awardee, admits the point of his lawsuit against National Review is to ruin it. We have a thing or three to say about that. From the editorial:

A few days before launching his lawsuit against what he called “this filthy organization,” Michael Mann wrote that there “is a possibility that I can ruin National Review.” Nearly a decade later, we are still fighting his attempt to do precisely that.

From the beginning of this affair, National Review has maintained that the case that Mann filed is frivolous, malicious, corrupt, and lacking entirely in legal justification. We maintain that still. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment is predicated upon “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” and that matters of political dispute are in consequence exempt from superintendence. By attempting to litigate against his critics, Michael Mann has chosen to stand firmly on the other side of that national commitment. Were he to prevail, he would set a host of terrible precedents against free inquiry and open argument, and in favor of censorship.

That this case has been open-and-shut from the start was obvious not only to National Review, but to all who believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press — which is why the amicus briefs that have been filed in our behalf range so widely across the political spectrum. . . .

So far, the courts have, to quote Churchill, elected to “go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” They brushed past the anti-SLAPP statute that was designed to prevent this from happening. Our hope is that the same won’t happen with Section 230, which is also meant to protect the free-speech rights of online publishers.

It is a matter of considerable irony that the only “malice” that the discovery process has uncovered is that exhibited by Michael Mann. When planning his suit, Mann described National Review as a “threat to our children,” beholden to “greedy fat cat corporate masters.” His stated intention was to bring us “down for good.” Needless to say, this is not how a country with a First Amendment or a culture of free speech is supposed to work. It’s past time that this suit is dismissed as incompatible with both, and a failure on the facts and the law.

Get Some Culture!

What’s upstream of politics? Our friends at National Review Institute have made its biennial, multi-city tour — bringing NRI fellows face to face with readers, friends, and supporters of the Buckley Legacy — one that focuses on politics’ upstream wellspring. It’s titled “Perspectives on America Today and the Importance of Culture,” and if you are nearby any of the eight cities where these special Regional Seminars are taking place (the first one was earlier this week in Palm Beach, Florida), showcasing the wisdom of Rich Lowry, Charlie Cooke, John O’Sullivan, Madeleine Kearns, Daniel Mahoney, Ramesh Ponnuru, Kevin D. Williamson, Jay Nordlnger, and Kyle Smith, do come.

Here’s the schedule, which is still being shored up in some locations:

Newport Beach, CA (March 24)

San Francisco, CA (March 25)

Chicago, IL (April 2)

Dallas, TX (April 14) – information coming soon, but do mark your calendar!

Houston, TX (April 15)

New York, NY, May 11 – stay tuned

Philadelphia, PA (May 12) – stay tuned

Of the available links, click away if you want to sign up. This missive will keep you updated when Dallas, NYC, and Philly event info is finalized.

Fasting Rules Do Not Apply: Fill Your Plate with These Tasty NR Links and Enjoy the Delicious Wisdom from This Score of Servings of Brilliance

1. The attempt to “normalize” socialism by shading the essence of Bernie Sanders cuts no mustard with David Harsanyi. From the piece:

For that matter, many Americans — including Bernie — lived through Stalin and Pol Pot and Mao and they still champion the idea of socialism. It’s completely unsurprising that Bernie once defended the Viet Cong. Because many of us over 40 immediately recognize who Bernie is. I grew up with people like him. In those days, though, adults generally didn’t take their crazy disheveled Commie uncles who taught economics at the local commuter college very seriously. Maybe that’s the problem.

It’s true that Bernie’s fans aren’t acquainted with socialism (and, incidentally, this is true only if we ignore the existence of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China, etc.), but the fact is that most Bernie supporters don’t seem to have a rudimentary grasp of basic economics much less the “socialism” they think exists in Scandinavian nations. What they do have are lots of feelings. And, like millions of other saps over the past century-plus, they’ve been enticed by the collectivist “ethic” — its revolutionary appeal, its religiosity, and its quixotic promises.

“Fascism is remembered as a crime,” John Hayward correctly points out. “Communism is treated like a mistake.” I’d add that capitalism is judged by its few failures and socialism by its few success. Sanders will never praise the “literary literacy programs” of any non-tyranny. But if I’ve learned anything from Twitter — or perhaps, more accurately, if Twitter has solidified any of my existing suspicions— it’s that academia is teeming with hard-left apologists. There are plenty of fantastic historians out there, of course, but many of loudest academics, the ones media often relies on, are either apologists for socialism or socialists themselves.

2. Mona Charen nails Sanders as a cold Communist sympathizer. From the column:

Why make a fuss about Bernie’s past praise of Communist dictatorships? After all, the Cold War ended three decades ago, and a would-be President Sanders cannot exactly surrender to the Soviet Union.

It’s a moral issue. Sanders was not a liberal during the Cold War, i.e. someone who favored arms control, peace talks, and opposed support for anti-Communist movements. He was an outright Communist sympathizer, meaning he was always willing to overlook or excuse the crimes of regimes like Cuba and Nicaragua; always ready to suggest that only American hostility forced them to, among other things, arrest their opposition, expel priests, and dispense with elections.

Good ol’ consistent Bernie reprised one of the greatest hits of the pro-Castro Left last week on 60 Minutes. When Anderson Cooper pressed the senator by noting that Castro imprisoned a lot of dissidents, Sanders said he condemned such things. But even that grudging acknowledgment rankled the old socialist, who then rushed to add, “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing?”

Actually, the first thing Castro did upon seizing power (note Sanders’s whitewashing term “came into office”) was to march 600 of Fulgencio Batista’s supporters into two of the island’s largest prisons, La Cabana and Santa Clara. Over the next five months, after rigged trials, they were shot. Some “trials” amounted to public spectacles. A crowd of 18,000 gathered in the Palace of Sports to give a thumbs-down gesture for Jesus Sosa Blanco. Before he was shot, Sosa Blanco noted that ancient Rome couldn’t have done it better.

3. Jim Geraghty does his “20 Things” thing, giving folks the 411 about a score of things they probably don’t know about Mike Bloomberg. We share the first two numbers. From the piece:

Bloomberg got his start on the path to corporate titanhood when he was paid $10 million and let go by Salomon Brothers as part of Phibro Corporation’s purchase of the venerable Wall Street firm. In his autobiography, Bloomberg on Bloomberg, he writes that he couldn’t understand why some of his colleagues insisted upon telling their spouses about the deal immediately. “Strict instructions to the contrary notwithstanding, some partners did telephone their wives that Friday night. I thought it was nonsensical to make your spouse a possible leak suspect. What difference would it make if she didn’t know for an extra day?”

In the same book, Bloomberg describes himself as “a member of the ‘never apologize, never explain’ school of management.” But he appears to have softened his stance on apologies since then. Just in the past few months, he has apologized for the stop-and-frisk policy he oversaw as New York City mayor, using disrespectful language about women, using prison workers for telemarketing, and calling Cory Booker “well-spoken.”

4. Bernie hates America because, writes Kevin Williamson, that’s what Lefties do. From the essay:

It is not true that the American Left has no interest in “our traditions and our Constitution.” The Left is very interested in our traditions and our Constitution — it hates these and wishes to see them destroyed. The Left’s war on the Constitution goes back to the foundation of American progressivism under Woodrow Wilson, who considered the Constitution outmoded and a hindrance to intelligent administration. The line of thinking extends straight into modern progressivism: Harry Reid’s attempt to gut the First Amendment in order to put political speech under government control, a proposal endorsed by every Democrat in the Senate; other related progressive attempts to destroy the Bill of Rights, beginning with the First and Second Amendments but by no means limited to these; the contention by progressives, typified by Ryan Cooper, that “the American Constitution is an outdated, malfunctioning piece of junk”; Senator Sanders’s call for “revolution”; etc.

The Democrats may shed a few crocodile tears over President Donald Trump’s supposed assault on the Constitution (Trump’s assault mainly has been on American manners, the importance of which is generally overlooked and misunderstood), but assaulting the Constitution is the foundation of their politics and their jurisprudence: Assaulting the Constitution — reshaping it to better fit progressive political preferences — is what Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were put on the Supreme Court to do. The intellectual and constitutional position that this is impermissible — that the Constitution must be treated as though it says what it actually says rather than as though it said what people invested with transient political power wish it said, which is all the “textualism” of Clarence Thomas et al. actually amounts to — is denounced as dangerous “extremism.” Whatever it is the American Left is on about, it is not the Constitution — not the actual one that has been written down, in any case.

5. El Jefe Rich Lowry says Bernie as POTUS 46 would be akin to President Noam Chomsky. From the column:

Bernie’s perspective on Cuba isn’t an outlier. It is characteristic of his worldview that has a sympathy for America’s enemies, at least if they are Communist or Islamist; that assumes the worst of the United States; and that opposes nearly all U.S. military interventions as misbegotten or malign. (Sanders voted for the Afghanistan War after September 11 and now regrets even that vote.)

Electing Bernie Sanders would be almost indistinguishable from putting the late radical historian Howard Zinn, or the America-loathing linguist Noam Chomsky, or the tendentious left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore in charge of American foreign policy. The country would be in the hands of an opponent of its power with no faith in its goodness. Bernie would make Barack Obama’s overly solicitous attitude toward our enemies and Donald Trump’s bizarrely warm statements about foreign dictators look like American foreign-policy orthodoxy by comparison.

There is almost no enemy of the United States that wouldn’t be heartened by a Sanders victory and see it as an opportunity to make gains at the expense of the United States and its allies. If his decades-long track record is any indication, Sanders would be inclined to make excuses for our adversaries and look on the bright side of their repression and rapine.

He’s doing it with the Cuban dictatorship to this day.

6. Victor Davis Hanson takes on Bloomberg’s “gray matter” boast and delves deeper into the elites’ disdain for the working class. From the essay:

Why do so many liberal journalists, politicians, and celebrities harbor such contempt for, and show such snobbery about, the white working, and often rural, classes of the American heartland?

The most obvious answers are that the media, elite politicians, and government hierarchy are liberal or left-wing, and the objects of their hatred are mostly conservative. Just look at any election map, color-coded by either congressional districts or Electoral College states, and the nation, geographically, is a sea of red, bookended by two long blue corridors on the coasts, the home of the nation’s tony universities, network news, media hubs, the bureaucratic borg, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street.

Second, there is no cultural, career, or political downside in stereotyping millions of Americans as stupid, crude, and culturally repugnant. Had Don Lemon’s two guests mimicked the dialect of inner-city youths and suggested they were uneducated and thus gullible supporters of Barack Obama, they would have been banned from CNN for life. Or had Peter Strzok suggested that he could smell Obama supporters at Walmart, federal attorneys would probably have found a way to have him indicted by now.

Third, politics, academia, the media, and entertainment don’t necessarily draw in particularly wise people, especially if knowledge is broadly defined as social skills, empirical education, common sense, and pragmatic experience. According to the rules of the elementary playground, one becomes exalted by ridiculing others. High-school dropouts such as Robert De Niro and Cher seem to appear sophisticated by ranting about Trump and his supposedly ignorant supporters. Don Lemon’s skills seem mostly limited to reading a teleprompter — when he ventures into commentary and analysis, he usually sounds either banal or adolescent. Howling at stupid jokes about the supposed ignorance of the red-state drawler apparently lend the insipid Lemon an air of cosmopolitan sophistication. Michael Bloomberg, for all his billions and cunning, cannot fathom in a debate that, by joking about TurboTax, he only further alienates millions who use it because they cannot hire his legions of attorneys to reduce their tax exposure.

7. Andrew McCarthy reviews the Roger Stone sentencing as an ending (really?) of the Russia Collusion Farce. From the analysis:

Stone was sentenced to 40 months’ imprisonment. This was smack in the middle of the federal sentencing guidelines’ range — 37 to 46 months — that Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department argued would be a reasonable term. The AG’s position was a second-guess of the Stone trial’s prosecutors. That team, dominated by Mueller fabulists who portrayed the Stone case as Watergate revisited, had recommended something closer to a nine-year sentence.

The severity of the trial team’s recommendation was objectively absurd. It was, more to the point, merely a recommendation — as was Barr’s milder but still stiff counter. It had no legally binding effect whatsoever on the judge. In federal law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the judge decides the sentence. Not only is the sentencing court free to ignore any recommendation from prosecutors, which judges do with frequency; the court is free to ignore the guidelines — the regime Congress introduced in the 1980s in a (moderately successful) effort to end obscene disparities in sentences imposed on similarly situated defendants.

Nevertheless, Barr’s entirely reasonable position was castigated by Democrats, their media notetakers, and progressive lawyers who have transformed the organized bar into just another left-wing hack. These last included a couple thousand former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials, who took a break from writing donation checks for their favorite Democratic demagogues to sign a petition demanding Barr’s resignation — strangely silent, though they were, when Obama AG Eric Holder was being held in contempt for misleading and obstructing Congress’s investigation of the Fast & Furious scandal, in which the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol officer was just part of the lethal fallout from the Obama Justice Department’s reckless gun-walking scheme.

8. More Andy: The Harvey Weinstein verdict, and legal aftermath, explained. From the piece:

The main appellate issues arising out of the trial will likely involve the similar-act evidence and the court’s refusal to excuse one juror for cause. Ironically, the three acquittals should be of great help to the state on appeal.

As noted above, similar-act evidence always creates thorny legal issues. Here, the court permitted testimony from victims of four similar acts to bolster proof of just two indicted acts. It is unusual for proof of uncharged crimes to be more extensive than that of charged crimes. Clearly, the defense will claim on appeal that the similar-act evidence inflamed the jury into convicting because Weinstein is a sociopath, rather than on the strength of the proof of the two sex acts actually charged. Moreover, Weinstein’s lawyers will contend that Sciorra’s testimony and the two PSA counts were a pretext for making an end run around the statute of limitations.

The verdict will help the state rebut such claims. The fact that a jury of seven men and five women did not convict on the most serious charges, and that it convicted only on third-degree rather than first-degree rape (in the Mann incident), indicates that it was sober and discriminating in doing its job — it was not so distracted or prejudiced by the similar-act evidence that it could not carefully weigh the evidence in the Mann and Haley cases. (Indeed, it appears that jurors largely discounted Sciorra’s accusation of rape.)

The judge also made a decision, hotly disputed by the defense, to permit a novelist to sit on the jury. The author revealed that she had written a novel about three women who had sexual relationships with older men. During the voir dire examination, she denied that the book was about predatory older men. The defense claims that this was a lie, reporting that the juror’s website described her book as being about young women and “predatory older men.” Weinstein’s lawyers had run out of peremptory challenges (i.e., jurors who are stricken at the discretion of the two legal teams, rather than for cause) by the time the juror in question was examined. The trial judge denied the defense’s motion to remove her for cause (i.e., for implicitly being too biased to decide the case fairly and impartially).

9. Michael Brendan Dougherty finds Michael Bloomberg’s Red China kowtowing to be disqualifying. From the analysis:

Perhaps worst of all, it turned out that American businesses with significant interests in China, including the NBA, were willing to protect those interest even if doing so meant deploying the Communist political tools of censorship, false propaganda, and public struggle sessions — all of which followed after the relatively mild pro-Hong Kong comments of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Now Bloomberg has entered the presidential race, and his view of China runs in the exact opposite direction of conventional wisdom. “Xi Jinping is not a dictator. He has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive,” Bloomberg told Firing Line’s Margaret Hoover last year. It’s a comment he has repeated elsewhere. “The Chinese government is no less impacted by what their constituents — i.e. citizens, voters — want than anyplace else,” he said at one conference.

Bloomberg’s comments on China are distressing for two reasons. First, they deny the reality that China is a Communist dictatorship, run without the consent of its people, and that what popular legitimacy it does have comes partly as a product of how it has degraded said people. Secondly, they seem to deny the existence of tyranny as a category, to be an assertion that there are no captive peoples.

10. John Hirschauer reports that some establishment types charge Pete Buttigieg as insufficiently intersectional. From the piece:

The protester’s objection to Buttigieg’s melanin count and intact genitalia — “Why aren’t you a trans black woman, Mr. Mayor? highlights an ongoing debate on the left about the former mayor’s sexuality, and whether he is, in the words of Masha Gessen of The New Yorker, “gay enough” to represent the LGBT community.

One would think Buttigieg’s gay bona fides are obvious. He is “married” to another man, and frequently drones on about how Mike Pence “hates” him for his sexual preferences. Buttigieg is nevertheless accused of lacking a metaphysical “gayness,” one that obtains not by participation in certain sex acts but instead through the approval of the identity eunuchs in the commentariat and American sociology departments. The operative question, then, is not whether Pete Buttigieg is a homosexual — that much is beyond dispute — but instead whether he is gay, or “gay enough.”

Gessen attempted to explain the contempt “some queer people” hold for Mayor Pete, who they doubt “is gay enough” to represent their political interests. What the mayor’s relative “gayness” has to do with his aptitude as a political vessel for the interests of “queer people” is unclear, as is her operative definition of “gay.” Gessen nevertheless proceeds with an empiricist’s certainty, picking apart moments in Buttigieg’s life and asserting that “the notion that some of us think that Buttigieg is not gay enough has an identifiable relationship to the facts.”

11. More Hirschauer: Hard to believe some conservative Catholics find Pope Francis . . . conservative. That’s even after reading Dan Mahoney’s recent powerful cover story on the Pontiff. John has something to say in response to the fawning. From the piece:

It is difficult to square the suggestion that Pope Francis is “a man of Tradition” with his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. While some assert that Pope Benedict XVI was primarily responsible for the document, nearly every inside source we have confirms that Gaudium is much more of a ‘Francis document’” than a Benedictine one, and it “regularly emphasizes the distinctive thought and themes of” the current Pope.

Indeed, Gaudium is full of Francis’s trademark calls for innovation — it asks the Church to embrace “new narratives and paradigms,” “new forms of cultural synthesis,” and, “new signs and new symbols” to better commune with “today’s world.” None of these vague “novelties” can be classified as right-wing or deferential to the Church’s patrimony. Francis calls the very power structure of the Church into question when he suggests, in Gaudium, that the Church “examine” the possibility of imputing “genuine doctrinal authority” to “episcopal conferences,” a divestiture of papal authority that would grant bishops’ conferences the power to enact new doctrines under the guise of “synodality” and the fleeting dictates of the popular will.

This exhortation is awash in the pluralistic ecumenism that has dominated post-conciliar thinking. Elsewhere in Gaudium, Francis goes out of his way to heap abundant praise upon non-Christian religions, assuring readers that “authentic” practitioners of Islam “are opposed to every form of violence” and instructing Christians to heed the “practical wisdom” contained in other faiths. Apprehending these bits of “practical wisdom” will, he writes, allow Christians to better “accept” the “different ways of living, thinking and speaking” among those schismatics and dissenters who would, in a faraway time of moral clarity, have been prompted to “return to the one true Church of Christ” for the sake of their eternal souls.

The document’s ebullient praise for dissidents and “acceptance” of divergent “ways of . . . thinking,” however, is mysteriously denied to some Catholic believers, whom the Pope deems to possess “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine, and for the Church’s prestige” and “a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in today’s world.” Never mind the consolation offered by the unchanging majesty of those “structures and customs” to the poor and dispossessed; while some of those “customs may be beautiful,” Francis writes, they must be abandoned for improperly “communicating the Gospel” to the spiritual paupers of modernity.

12. Conrad Black provides an excellent rundown of the career of Bernie Sanders, plus a couple of ways to handle him, plus a prediction about the November elections should the Democrats nominate the Socialist to challenge Donald Trump. From the piece:

The key to repulsing Sanders lies in three responses: First, publicization, as has already begun, of the many colossal indiscretions in his lengthy public record, including his exaggerated claim that the U.S. is “systemically racist” and reflections published in an “alternative” newspaper on the alleged propensity of women to fantasize about rape. Second is fanning the well-entrenched negative American response to the idea of socialism as coercive and anti-individualistic, amounting to Communism with less severity, at least initially. Finally, Sanders’s opponent, Bloomberg (and if he can’t do it, Trump), starts with the 49.9 percent who are losers in the Sanders transformation and then scoops up at least a third of Sanders’s targeted voters by pitching to their not unreasonable faith in their ability to get into the upper half without having to float upwards because of exorbitant government extractions and reallocations.

Obviously, Sanders must lose, if not at the convention, then in November. If Sanders is nominated, Trump will take about 65 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a candidate in a contested U.S. presidential election in 200 years, and will win every state (including Vermont), and roll up a margin of about twice Richard Nixon’s outstanding record of 18 million votes over George McGovern in 1972 (with only about 55 percent of the number of voters anticipated this year). In such a tidal wave, Trump’s coattails would be long and would install a heavy Republican majority in both houses of Congress. This is why the Democratic elders are frazzled by the prospect of a Sanders candidacy. Michael Bloomberg, who is not otherwise any more beloved a candidate to them than Trump was to the Bush-Romney-McCain Republicans four years ago, is now the anointed savior of some post-electoral standing for the Democrats. Never in American history has a political leader achieved so swift a transition from a side-splitting joke to his opponents, as Trump was a little over three years ago, to the subject of their cold, gripping terror, of such enormity as only the impending loss of control of a vast apparatus of government and media influence can induce.

13. What’s harming scientific research, writes Daniel Tenreiro, is the politics of science-research papers and the triumph of citations over exploration. From the piece:

Despite Silicon Valley’s public-relations efforts, which tout the transformative potential of new software, more and more thinkers argue that we are experiencing technological stagnation. Citing disappointing productivity numbers and the comparatively low impact of recent information-technology innovations, Peter Thiel, Tyler Cowen, Larry Summers, and others have made this case in recent years, but theories abound as to why it is happening. On one popular view, expressed most comprehensively by Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, Western researchers have picked all the technological “low-hanging fruit,” such as indoor plumbing, automobiles, and air travel. According to this theory, there are diminishing returns to science; once you’ve discovered fire and electricity, all future innovations will pale in comparison.

Economists Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen push back on this view in a new paper. “New ideas no longer fuel economic growth the way they once did,” they acknowledge, but rather than resulting from the laws of physics, the dearth of new ideas is a consequence of the incentives faced by scientists.

Because academic papers are evaluated by how many citations they receive, scientists choose low-risk projects that are certain to get attention rather than novel experiments that may fail. Academics cluster into crowded fields because papers in such fields are guaranteed to be read by a high number of researchers.

This is a relatively new phenomenon, as citation analysis of scientific research was introduced only in the 1950s and did not become common until the 1970s. Eugene Garfield, who developed the idea of using citation quantity to evaluate the impact of journals, came to regret its use as a performance indicator for individual researchers.

RELATED: Caleb Watney writes that there is a global run on scientific minds.

14. Kevin Williamson checks out the modern fear to call something evil . . . “evil.” From the essay:

As the pop-fiction psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter puts it, we have “given up good and evil for behaviorism.” We cannot stand to call evil evil, and so resort to the sterile language of psychiatry.

I am sure that I am guilty of using that kind of language myself, though I repent of it.

But what would we do without pseudo-medical language to replace the moral language we have abandoned? For a half a century or more, all the best people nodded sagely when some imbecile would say, “You can’t legislate morality!” as though legislation had any other basis, as though we outlaw murder because it is bad for the GDP. We are still saying that even as college students are given twenty-page contracts to fill out before a kiss goodnight. Of course you need a contract—What if he’s a sociopath? A psychopath? A narcissist? It is a myth that Victorians draped the legs of pianos so as not to encourage impure thoughts about legs not attached to keyboard instruments, but it certainly is the case that earlier generations had more evolved and demanding etiquettes relating to interactions between the sexes. We are, in the halting and stupid way of our times, creating a new version of that etiquette, one that is generally silly but is nonetheless attuned, if imperfectly, to the same social needs and concerns as the other, older etiquette. Megan McArdle touches on this when she observes that ‘we no longer have any moral language for talking about sex except consent.”

Moral language makes us uncomfortable, because we abandoned the notion of judgment when we abandoned responsible adulthood and began to insist that hierarchical social relations were necessarily unjust and oppressive — Who are you to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong? Who are you to judge? Moral language forces us to face our moral illiteracy, to admit that we have not engaged in the necessary moral education to cultivate ourselves and our children for some generations now. This surrender was very much abetted by the schools and the churches and other institutions, but the abandonment was, by and large, organic and self-organizing. What we rejected was authority.

15. Kyle Smith’s views about Balloon are up, up, and away. From the review:

The German film Balloon explores the Iron Curtain from an unusual angle: above. Two ordinary families living a routine existence in Poessneck, a small East German town in 1979, yearn to escape by making their own hot-air balloon and soaring south over the border into West Germany. Some 75,000 East Germans were imprisoned for trying to make their way into the West, and about 800 were outright murdered by their own security forces in such attempts. The peril level is set at maximum, then, for these average citizens, and layered atop that is the massive danger of sailing thousands of feet up in a rickety jury-rigged contraption built by amateurs. Balloon revels in exploring the details of every possible kind of danger these people face, so it’s a nerve-wincher, a cracking good escape thriller, but that’s not all it is.

As breathtakingly plotted as the film is, it is nevertheless based on the true story of Peter Strelzyk (Friedrich Mücke) and Günter Wetzel (David Kross), who together with their wives Doris (Karoline Schuch) and Petra (Alicia von Rittberg) schemed to become the first people ever to escape East Germany in a hot-air balloon. The story was previously filmed at Disney, in Night Crossing (1982), but that retelling was much less faithful to the facts.

Balloon takes care not to exaggerate the suffering of Peter and Günter and their families. Even in a police state, it’s possible to muddle through. If they just keep their heads down, say nothing controversial and salute the Party on cue, they’ll survive, even enjoy something in the ballpark of a recognizable standard of living to Westerners. Still, there are glimpses of how a centralized economy makes everything an endless gray trudge, in which glum women line up patiently for groceries but worry that the coffee will be gone by the time they get in the store. An ideal vacation, available to the well-connected only, is a visit to Berlin. The most desirable rooms are the ones on high floors in hotels near West Berlin, so you can see all the way over to the West.

16. Armond White finds Elisabeth Moss’s performance in The Invisible Man to be repugnant. From the beginning of the review:

‘He is not the victim here!” screams Elisabeth Moss, heroine of The Invisible Man, the latest in the series that reboots Universal Studios’ classic 1930s scary movies for the gullible Millennial market. The film’s title now refers to the hidden threat of an unseen, yet lethal, patriarchy. But this movie doesn’t fight against under-recognized male hegemony; it is very much part of contemporary Hollywood hegemony, imposing social-justice trends on our culture.

Moss plays Cecilia Kass, the frantic girlfriend of Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), an “optics engineer” who dominates and abuses her physically and psychologically. She’s imprisoned in his high-tech Bay Area cliffside mansion — a sort of #MeToo Rapunzel, unfurling a long list of grievances. In short, this new The Invisible Man is no fun.

How could it be when we’re subjected to more whining and whimpering from Moss? First seen making her preplanned escape (borrowed from Julia Roberts’s Sleeping with the Enemy), Moss negates the film’s fairy-tale, bad-romance aspects through her usual impertinence. She has made a career out of seeming to have never had a happy day in her life. This miserable outlook defines every Moss role from TV’s Mad Men to The Handmaid’s Tale. As the standard-bearers for anti-entertainment, Moss and director Leigh Whannell promote the perverse trend in which silly actresses think that “empowerment” justifies everything. They corrupt what was originally H. G. Wells’s study of egotism-turned-to-madness. It’s now a lesson in misandry, a women’s-justice broadside (with a particular topical target to be named later).

17. Madeleine Kearns focuses on the UK’s political-identity crisis, which continues to expose Labour’s meltdown. From the piece:

The British Labour Party recently celebrated its 120th birthday. Lately, that’s all it has had to celebrate. December’s general election shrunk the party’s number of MPs to 202, its lowest level since 1935. And with four more years of Tory rule to come, the candidates fighting to replace the disastrous Jeremy Corbyn as party leader appear unable to initiate a comeback.

In the general-election campaign, Corbyn proposed dramatically increasing the health budget and minimum wage, introducing free personal care for the elderly, reaching net-zero carbon emissions by the 2030s, nationalizing water, the railways, and the postal service, and abolishing private schools — at a combined cost of $97 billion. It was a demonstrably unpopular platform, yet the front-runner to take over as Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has made clear that he intends to run on it. Rebecca Long Bailey, another contender for the job, has said that she would “love” to have Corbyn in her shadow cabinet.

All of which suggests that Labour has not learned the lessons of history. Even before Corbyn’s spectacular defeat, the party had ample empirical evidence to suggest that left-wing economic policies are a path to failure at the polls. Its mishandling of inflation led to union strikes during the 1978–79 Winter of Discontent, which in turn prompted nearly 20 years of Tory rule. By the mid 1980s, Old Labour’s hard-line socialist policies were so unpopular that MP Gerald Kaufman famously described his party’s 1983 general-election manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history.”

18. Europe’s Death March: The Final Solution had its actual roots in euthanasia of the mentally challenged (influenced by Margaret Sanger). Wesley Smith reports on a new generation of Germans, courtesy of its High Court, who have established the suicide right. From the Corner post:

It cannot be denied any longer. The long-predicted (here’s a 2007 warning from me) lethal logical end of accepting the values that underlie the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement — death for virtually anyone who wants to die for any reason — has officially been reached. This would seem to include at least mature children, since childhood is a stage of a person’s existence. Right?

So no more telling us that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill! No more telling us that rigid guidelines will protect against abuse! Basta! Germany is now officially a suicide culture. If we keep hearkening to the siren song of death emanating from assisted/suicide euthanasia advocates here, sooner or later, we will be too.

19. America’s Death March: Alexandra DeSanctis covers the Democrat-led filibuster of a bill that would have protected infants who survived abortion. From the article:

Earlier this week, 41 Democratic senators successfully filibustered the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require doctors to provide standard medical care to infants who survive attempted abortion procedures.

Contrary to Democratic claims, the bill is neither unnecessary nor redundant. Abortion survivors are not a fiction invented by the pro-life movement. No law currently protects such infants. And the bill neither regulates nor limits abortion or women’s health-care options. All it requires is that doctors give “the same degree” of care to newborns who survive abortion that “any other child born alive at the same gestational age” would receive.

In more than a dozen states, it is not currently illegal for a doctor to allow a newborn who survives an abortion to die of neglect. Had Democrats not blocked it, this bill would have changed that.

Republicans hope that the outcome of this vote will sway some voters later this year, exposing Democrats’ radical commitment to the logic of abortion, which turns a blind eye to infants being allowed to die simply because they were meant to have been aborted.

One survey from March 2019 found that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe doctors should be required to care for infants who survive abortion. Another survey found even higher support: 82 percent said they oppose removing medical care from viable infants.

20. Steve Hanke ranks nations by misery. We here share the bottom dwellers. From the analysis:

Venezuela holds the inglorious title of the most miserable country in the world in 2019, as it did in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. The failures of president Nicolás Maduro’s corrupt, socialist petroleum state have been well documented over the past year. However, behind the shroud of secrecy that covers Venezuela, a great deal of change occurred in the components of HAMI in 2019. Inflation, while still the world’s highest, came down. On the other hand, the unemployment rate surged to 24 percent from 14.9 percent in 2018, while GDP per capita took a dive from  -16.5 percent per year to -32.2 percent per year.

Argentina held down the second-most miserable spot after yet another peso crisis. Since its founding, Argentina has endured numerous economic crises. Most can be laid at the feet of domestic mismanagement and currency problems (read: currency collapses). Such crises have occurred in 1876, 1890, 1914, 1930, 1952, 1958, 1967, 1975, 1985, 1989, 2001, 2018, and 2019, to name but a few. Until Argentina dumps the beleaguered peso and replaces it with the U.S. dollar, it will be, well . . . miserable.

American Ingrate

Our pal Ben Weingarten, who hangs his hat at The Federalist, has written a book, out this week, that I can’t wait to get my hands on: American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party. Two serious conservatives have great things to say about it.

From Victor Davis Hanson: “Benjamin Weingarten professionally and thoroughly dissects the strange case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and demonstrates that much about the congresswoman is an enigma at best and a fraud at worst…Weingarten suggests that if Omar had not existed, she would have had to be invented, given that she is a metaphor for a larger American pathology of progressive virtue-signaling, and, ultimately, self-loathing.”

And Dennis Prager weighs in: “American Ingrate is a serious, deeply researched work that makes the compelling case Rep. Ilhan Omar is the new face of the Democratic Party, and delves deeply into her background and beliefs. It compellingly sets forth the argument that she not only personifies but leads a Progressive-Islamist alliance held together by the glue of hatred of America, of Judeo-Christian values, of Western civilization, and of Israel. Read it and weep. Or better, read it and fight back. This is a manual in that fight.”

You can order a copy here.

The Six

1. At The Imaginative Conservative, George Washington received excellent and deserved attention on his birthday, leading off with Bradley Birzer’s piece making the case for considering POTUS ONE as an American Aurelius. From the reflection:

In his own day and age, George Washington was the greatest and best-known man in all of Western Civilization. Washington (1732-1799), indeed, served as a pillar of Atlantis, recognized not only for his willingness to sacrifice his life for the great Republic, but also as the founder of the first serious Republic a weary world had witnessed since the martyrdom of Cicero. A true genius when it came to geometry, trigonometry, and surveying, he also read deeply in military history, biography, agricultural science. His loves, though, were hunting, adventure (as in traveling), and farming. Surveying, especially, allowed him to combine many of these loves into one. Ironically, given the status he attained as a living hero or demigod in his own lifetime, Washington suffered from a lack of liberal education, strange by the standards of his day. Much of what he knew of the classical world came not from a study of Greek and Latin (as with many of the founding fathers), but from his reading of biography and, especially, from his love of the Joseph Addison play, Cato: A Tragedy. Despite this, he earned innumerable classical titles during his lifetime, including: the American Achilles, the American Cicero, the American Aeneas, and the American Cincinnatus.

He deserves another title: the American Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius was, of course, one of the so-called “Five Good Emperors,” ruling Rome from 161 to 180. While Washington would never have been emperor, the two shared a common Stoic view of the world. In his always profound Meditations, Aurelius defined the philosophy of many ages before him and many to come.

2. In City Journal, Christopher Rufo finds the addiction epidemic in Los Angeles has created a permanent, cut-off underclass. From the article:

The scale of the crisis is astonishing: 40,000 homeless men and women in Los Angeles County suffer from addiction, mental illness, or both. More than 1,000 will die on the streets this year. As I survey the human wreckage along Skid Row, my fear is that the city government is creating a new class of “untouchables,” permanently disconnected from the institutions of society. For the past decade, political leaders have relied on two major policies to address the crisis—“harm reduction” and “housing first”—but despite $619 million in spending in 2018, more people are on the streets than ever. The reality is that Los Angeles has adopted a policy of containment: construct enough “supportive housing” to placate the appetites of the social-services bureaucracy, distribute enough needles to prevent an outbreak of plague, and herd enough men and women into places like Skid Row, where they will not disrupt the political fiction that everything is okay.

The LAPD’s Central Police Station is a windowless fortress, surrounded by a narrow strip of dirt and a sagging chain-link fence. Last year, after rats established a system of tunnels underneath the station, the department made plans to pave over the remaining landscape with concrete, but the project is on hold. I’m here to see Sergeant Pete Kouvelis, an LAPD veteran with a detailed, street-level understanding of life on Skid Row. I wait in line behind a polite and neatly dressed man filing a battery complaint against another resident in his SRO apartment complex, and then give my name to the tired-looking officer behind the glass.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti nails the academic Left’s continued march through European universities. From the outset of the article:

Western universities have become places of personal fear and intellectual terror. Formerly sanctuaries for open inquiry, instead fierce ideological minorities have been setting red lines of orthodoxy in the face of a silent or, worse, compliant academy. Education — from ex ducere, to lead out — has been increasingly eroded by ideological fundamentalism and an attempt to determine not only what actions are acceptable, but even words and thoughts.

Social media has helped by officially reviving the lynch mob. We must now all sing the praises of multiculturalism, Islam, immigration, post-colonial guilt and racializing just about everything. In this new Inquisition, not even the slightest doubt or dissent can be tolerated — it must be punished!

Freedom of expression is increasingly at risk in France by effectively creating new crimes of opinion. If your personal opinion coincides with the official one, you have nothing to fear. If your ideas conflict with the official ones, you risk becoming ostracized and your mere existence in the public sphere scandalous.

The new academic fascism,” is how Natacha Polony, a television host and editor of the French weekly Marianne, has described it. If you dissent, educators, political leaders, the media and the mob will try to destroy you, just as they destroyed Giordano Bruno in 1600 for saying that the universe could have many stars.

“Small radical groups create a climate of terror to impose opinions and silence their opponents,” Polony wrote. “They enjoy infinite mercy from some political and media circles insofar as they claim to embody the Good. Who would dare to challenge them?”

4. At Law & Liberty, John McGinnis offers a refresher on the lessons of the French Revolution. From the essay:

Other than the American Revolution, the French Revolution is the political event of modernity with the longest-lasting influence. Both revolutions created new regimes (although only America’s lasted) and advanced political ideals that still resonate around the world. It is not a surprise that famous politicians of recent times still assess an upheaval that occurred 200 years ago in a different nation than their own: “It resulted in a lot of headless corpses and a tyrant” was Margaret Thatcher’s verdict on its 200th birthday. Zhou Enlai was less certain, suggesting that even after 175 years, it was “too soon to tell” about the revolution’s ultimate significance.

Thus, it is always worth learning more about the French Revolution, and Jeremy Popkin’s The New World Begins is the most important English language history of this epochal event since Simon Schama’s Citizens appeared 30 years ago. Its fair-minded and fast-paced recounting of the events allows for a reassessment of the Revolution’s causes and of its value. Popkin provides a brilliant frame for understanding what sparked and sustained the revolt by contrasting the life of Louis XVI, the French King who lost his head, with one of his subjects, Jacques Menetra, a skilled glazier who left a full memoir of his own life in the turbulent times.

Louis XVI was not unintelligent, but his entire education and routine left him unfit to understand his nation, let alone deal shrewdly with a political cataclysm. His lessons as a youngster focused on the glorious past of his ancestors, and his routine as an adult confined his experience, giving him few opportunities to meet with people outside fawning courtiers. It is thus not surprising that Bourbons like Louis “learned nothing and forgot nothing” in Talleyrand’s well-known jibe. Incredibly, Louis XVI journeyed outside the environs of Paris only once before his failed attempt to escape abroad in 1791.

In contrast, Menetra traveled around much of France. While he was not well-educated, he was literate and skilled in creating social (not to mention sexual) networks wherever he went. The country, Popkin implies, was full of Menetras. Their collective power and intelligence overmatched a monarchy that had few reliable sources of information and a self-understanding that was at least a century out of date.

5. Your Humble Correspondent is a sucker for anything Helen Andrews writes, such as her review, in Claremont Review of Books, of Chris Caldwell’s new book, The Age of Entitlement. From the review:

Of course, the law—and its 1968 successor—did do all that, and more. One of Caldwell’s most provocative arguments is his rejection of the belief, common among conservatives, that there is a “good” civil rights law buried beneath the quotas and diktats and that “[o]nce the country came to its senses and rejected this optional, radical regime, it could have the good civil rights regime back.” Even in its original incarnation, civil rights law required employers to collect extensive demographic data on their workers, institute grievance procedures and performance reviews, hire human resources directors to enforce the new rules (Caldwell aptly compares them to “twentieth-century commissars”), and—most far-reaching of all—impose strict censorship on what their employees were allowed to say.

“Political correctness,” says Caldwell, is simply “the cultural effect of the basic enforcement powers of civil rights law.” He cites Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis, who was fired in 1987 by the team he had worked for since 1943 after an interview in which Ted Koppel asked him about the lack of black executives in major league baseball. Campanis gave a thoughtful answer pointing out that team managers don’t get paid very much and well-known black players might prefer other opportunities. He then got flustered when Koppel called his answer “baloney” and “garbage,” and offered a rambling second answer that ended with him speculating that maybe black men are poor swimmers because “they don’t have the buoyancy.”

Today we attribute outrage storms to social media, but, as Caldwell points out, organizations like the Dodgers don’t cave just because they are afraid of bad publicity. They do it because they’re afraid of lawsuits. Comments like Campanis’s, not actionable in themselves, can serve in an anti-discrimination case as evidence of a hostile work environment or covert bias. The comments need not even be made in the workplace. In a 1987 suit brought by a female English professor, claiming Boston University had wrongly denied her tenure because of her sex, her case partly rested on a speech given years earlier by the university president in which he made standard socially conservative points about working women and child-rearing. The district court ruled that B.U. had indeed acted out of sexism and ordered the school to give the woman tenure, plus $215,000.

6. At The American Conservative, James Matthew Wilson reviews a new collection of Flannery O’Connor’s letters and the impact of Twentieth Century Catholic literature. From the piece:

Good Things Out of Nazareth—a volume of Flannery O’Connor’s previously uncollected letters to friends—tells us an important American literary tale, interesting in itself, that also sets the record straight on Catholicism’s influence on modern American literature.

The Catholic Church underwent a great, international renaissance in the early 20th century—stimulated by the revival of Scholastic philosophy and, later, by the rumblings of a new theology seeking a return to the patristic writings of the early Church. At the same time, Catholic writers in England and France were doing some of their best work. Paul Claudel published The Satin Slipper in 1931 and was elected to the Académie française in 1946. Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory won Hawthornden Prize in 1941, and Evelyn Waugh published Brideshead Revisited in 1945, followed by his Sword of Honor trilogy.

Catholic colleges and universities in America enthusiastically endorsed an “apostolate of the pen” by assigning modern Catholic writers in their classrooms, and by mid-century, American literature itself found a genuinely Catholic expression, mostly in the work of intellectuals who had been converted to the faith—such as Thomas Merton, Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Dorothy Day, and Robert Lowell. Between 1945 and 1965, Dana Gioia observes in The Catholic Writer Today and Other Essays, “Catholic novelists and poets received 11 Pulitzer Prizes and 5 National Book Awards.” In retrospect, this seems almost the inevitable outcome of a program that had been both consciously and patiently undertaken.

This volume’s letters and the commentary that accompany them add a fascinating twist to the story: what may seem to us inevitable at first appeared totally improbable. When the Southern novelist Gordon, herself a recent convert to the faith, reads two unpublished novels in manuscript, she is totally taken aback. Most American Catholic literature of the age was more notable for its piety than its technique. The American literary landscape, as Gordon saw it, seemed securely dominated by a desiccated, sterile Protestantism that had found classic expression in Henry James, but had now lapsed into what she and Senator Eugene McCarthy denounced as a largely “homosexual” culture of decadence.

BONUS: At The College Fix, Jeremiah Poff reports on Wake Forest’s effort to white-out the school’s classics program. From the beginning of the piece:

A North Carolina university that recently made headlines for apologizing for slavery is in the midst of a program that offers a new take on the discipline of classics to make up for its history of “abusive and exclusionary” curriculum.

Launched in September at Wake Forest University, “Classics Beyond Whiteness” is an effort to assist the discipline to “come to terms with its participation in abusive and exclusionary practices that have caused real and lasting harm to communities and students of color,” according to the program’s description on the university website.

The program was inspired by a previous one, last year’s “Classics Beyond Europe,” and is a “multidisciplinary and multimedia program including lectures, workshops, film screenings, art projects, a reading group, and a museum exhibit.”

The program’s most recent event was a film screening of “Chi-Raq,” a film directed by controversial filmmaker Spike Lee, but early in the program it featured a series of book group meetings on “Not All Dead White Men.”

Baseballery

The Philadelphia Athletics had, prior to their eventual move (first stop, Kansas City) to Oakland, two periods of greatness. The second was 1927 to 1932, when they captured three AL pennants, two World Championships, and finished second in the standings three times. The first great period was from 1910–1914, when the As appeared in four World Series and won three of them.

The one lost was a classic — a four-game sweep by Boston’s Miracle Braves. When the final out was registered (Athletic first baseman Stuffy McInnis grounded out to secure Braves starter Dick Rudolph his second Series victory), Philadelphia began a doldrums (owner / manager Connie Mack refused to pay wages that competed with the new Federal League), which found the As in last place for the next seven seasons.

The worst of them was 1916, when the team registered one of baseball’s worst-ever records: 36–117. They trailed the AL Champion Boston Red Sox by 54 ½ games. The aging future Hall-of-Famer Napolean Lajoie played his final year for this dismal squad. The As never won more than two consecutive games, and in mid July commenced a 1–29 journey into baseball’s doggiest-ever days of Summer.

Starters Elmer Myers (14–23) and Bullet Joe Bush (15–24) gobbled up most of the As’ measly wins, and left a load of losses for the squad’s other less-than-aces. One was Tom Sheehan, the 22-year-old right-hander who went 1–16, albeit with a not-so-awful 3.69 ERA. His sole win came June 26 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, in relief of Weldon Wyckoff (he’d led the AL in losses the previous season, when the As went a mere 43–109). Rube Foster — who had won two games in the 1915 World Series — took the loss.

If you thought Sheehan had it bad, well, you need to know about his teammate, Jack Nabors. In 1915, he racked up an 0–5 record for the As. In 1916, Mack had him as the Opening Day pitcher, and facing the Red Sox and Babe Ruth, he gave up a mere two hits and no runs over four innings. The next time he faced the Sox, on April 22 at home, he pitched a complete-game victory, prevailing 6–2 and scattering eight hits. The loser, again, was Rube Foster.

It would prove to be Nabors’ only win of 1916. Or of his career. By the time the torment ended, with the A’s sweeping an October 3rd doubleheader against the Red Sox, in Boston (Babe Ruth took the loss, ending the season 23-12, he was relieved by the aforementioned Weldon Wyckoff, who midseason was sold to Boston; meanwhile Nabors earned a save, the only one of his career), Nabors held a 1-20 record, surely marred by the As’ inability to score runs (on average scoring 2.1 runs fewer per game than their opponent). Like Sheehan, his ERA was a not-too-bad 3.47 (the league average was 2.82).

Nabors appeared in only two games for the As in 1917, in relief, with no decisions, and that was it for him for the big leagues. His career record stood at 1–25, one of the game’s worst, and there it would remain for all time.

That said, Nabors served his country in World War One, became ill courtesy of the Spanish Influenza epidemic, and spent his few remaining years in and out of bed, passing away in 1923 at the young age of 35. His one career MLB win is one more than that had by this missive’s author.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of The Editors, Rich and the Gang discuss the Democrats’ dreadful South Carolina debate, the increasing dangers of the coronavirus, and the disappointing (but not unexpected) defeat of the born-alive bill in the Senate. Hear here.

2. On the new episode of For Life, Alexandra discusses recent Senate votes on pro-life bills and details the inaccurate media coverage. Listen here.

3. On the new episode of The Great Books, host John J. Miller is joined by Lorraine Murphy of Hillsdale College to discuss Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. You can catch it here.

4. More JJM: On the new episode of The Bookmonger, he is joined by Donald Alexander Downs to discuss his book, Free Speech and Liberal Education.

5. Sean Hackbarth graces Political Beats, jawing about the band Tears for Fears with Scot “Free” Bertram and “Muttand” Jeff Blehar. Get yourself a musical education here. And hang around to catch the previous episode, spent with the great Brad “Double B” Birzer, discussing Rush. The band, not the Limbaugh. It all happens here.

6. Excellent discussion about the unjust treatment of Michael Milken between David and Will made for an especially good episode of Radio Free California. You can listen here. And for the most recent episode, in which the Dynamic Duo discuss efforts by California legislators to require training for porn actors, listen here.

7. Episode Four of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast checks out liberal insecurity, Orwellian China, Bernie’s Commie loving, and Europe’s anti-Semitism kick. Catch it here.

A Dios

For many of us practitioners, it is Lent, a time for reflection, contemplation, denial, the Christian remembrance (weak but worldly) of Jesus’s 40 days and 40 nights, fasting in the wild, as the old hymn goes, tempted and yet undefiled (Matthew 4: 1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil), with echoes of the Great Flood and Noah (Genesis 7). We pray that those who desire to take this time seriously indeed receive the graces sufficient to do so, and emerge on Easter purged and better in body and soul. If you don’t buy into this, well, we’ll still not deny you jellybeans and marshmallow Peeps.

Prayer too for those suffering from and impacted by this dreadful virus, and those working to prevent its spread. Oremus.

God’s Graces on All So that His Will Be Done,

Jack Fowler, who stands ready to take theological counterpunches if thrown via jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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