The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Have Yourself A-Meri-Ca Christmas

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Yours Truly loves the fact — and it is a fact — that Santa Claus is a bona fide American, an Old Glory-loving patriot, a jingle-belling holly-jolly jingoist who hails from Indiana (his home town is named after him!). And get this: Nick is a conservative (we kid you not, he’s an NR charter subscriber).

And talk about a work ethic: So much to deliver, so many promises to keep, so many chimneys to descend, and he does it all in one night, defying the laws of physics and (despite the fake news about “clatter”) without noise.

So inspiring, no? It should be. Take note prayerful Democrat leaders, unable to deliver their crumbling figgy-pudding impeachment articles — how heavy can they be? — a few hundred yards on the other side of the Capitol Building. Heck Nancy, you don’t even have to go up or down a chimney! Speaking of which . . . given the likelihood of these articles (if ever delivered) mustering even a majority, they might themselves go up the Senate chimney, in smoke. (Before you send the correction email: Your Humble Correspondent has confirmed the nonexistence of a Senate chimney for smoke to go up.)

My colleague Andy McCarthy has penned an as-ever smart-as-heck piece on this non-delivery nonsense, which evokes the old line about the auditory realities of a tree falling in the forest, from which a slice is shared:

It’s hard to believe the Speaker’s latest stunt will go on for very long. In the Senate this morning, the Democrats’ minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, renewed his demands about trial procedures, discovery, and witness testimony. There was no discernible hint of doubt that the House would soon deliver its impeachment articles, such as they are.

But since we’ll be playing trivial pursuit for a more few hours (days?), we might as well ask: As long as the House withholds the impeachment articles from the Senate, has Trump been impeached?

In the law, there are many situations in which an outcome is known, but it is not a formal outcome until some ministerial act is taken. A grand jury can vote an indictment, for example, but the defendant is not considered indicted until the charges are filed with the clerk of the court. A defendant can be found guilty by a jury, but there is technically no conviction until the judgment is “entered” by the trial court, usually months later when sentence is imposed. An appellate court can issue a ruling that orders a lower court to take some action, but the lower court has no jurisdiction to act in the case until issuance of the appellate court’s “mandate” — the document that formally transfers jurisdiction.

Plainly, Congress has similar ministerial acts of transference that must occur in order for legislation to pass. Were that not the case, Speaker Pelosi would not be talking about delaying the transfer of impeachment articles.

So it’s all well and good for the Speaker to hold up the works that Democrats, five minutes ago, were breathlessly telling us had to be carried out with all due haste. But many scholars take the position that the Constitution requires a trial if there has been an impeachment. If such a trial cannot properly occur unless and until articles of impeachment have been transferred from the House to the Senate, and Speaker Pelosi won’t transfer them, has President Trump actually been impeached?

Sure, it’s a stupid question . . . but we’re living in stupid times.

Oh, but those Democrats, they’re not stupid. Neither was Fredo.

OK, it’s time to get on with this overstuffed Christmas Goose of a WJ, but first let me share some helpful advice: You can lighten Nick’s load this coming Tuesday night by sending those special someones on your Nice List a gift subscription to NRPLUS.

Editorials

1. And so the Impeachment Process has reached either the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. And on this lunacy we have an opinion. From the editorial:

Ukraine is not a hoax, as the president is wont to call it. He shouldn’t have mentioned the Bidens in a call with another head of state, and clearly was withholding a White House meeting and defense aid to get the Ukrainians to commit to the investigations he wanted. This speaks poorly of the president’s judgment — not to mention that of his Svengali in this escapade, Rudy Giuliani — and was an improper use of his power.

But not every presidential abuse is worthy of impeachment and removal. Democrats have been casting around for a rationale to justify this extreme step. First, they called the president’s conduct a quid pro quo. Then, they ramped up the charges to alleged bribery and extortion, before abandoning these supposed crimes, which were talking points masquerading as legal arguments (although, strangely, they make a reappearance in the Judiciary Committee impeachment report despite not being in the articles). Finally, Democrats have been arguing lately that, by welcoming foreign interference, Trump represents a clear and present danger to the integrity of the next election. But if the Ukrainians had actually announced an investigation of Burisma, a shady company that had previously been under investigation, it’s not clear how it would have tanked Joe Biden, or even hurt him anymore than the fact of Hunter Biden’s lucrative arrangement with Burisma already has.

2. Where’s the fiscal reform? The Trump Administration proves its lack of interest. From the editorial:

Because the U.S. government cannot be bothered to follow its own procedures, there is no budget and no “regular order” in which congressional committees pass the major spending bills one at a time; instead, Washington lurches from crisis to crisis and from one ad hoc spending deal to the next. Responsibility for that lies with Congress, not with the Trump administration. But the president likes to boast about his skill as a negotiator, which is, in this instance, nowhere to be seen. The president enjoys mean-mugging on Twitter, but in the real world, he’s willing to sign off on $1.4 trillion for lopsidedly Democratic priorities in order to avoid a confrontation with Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to the gun-control activism, the spending bill will entrench other aspects of the ACA, provide a 3.1 percent pay raise for federal workers, and shunt money into such ineffective programs as Head Start. It includes more money for bailouts for farmers, many of whom have seen their businesses gutted by the ill-considered trade war; more funding for state-level infrastructure projects that often act effectively as slush funds; subsidies for rural Internet connections; more money for the Export-Import Bank and other corporate-welfare boondoggles; and a great deal of ordinary welfare spending on everything from food stamps to utility-bill subsidies.

Dance Aside, Sugarplums: There Are NR Pieces Galore — Enough for 12 Days of Christmas and then Some — to Provide Visions to Intelligent Conservatives!

1. On Impeachment Day, David Harsanyi had at the Democrats’ faux Constitutional guardians. From the Corner post:

“The Republic is why we are here today. We are custodians of the Constitution. A Republic by the people for the people,” writes one Eric Swalwall, a man who once pondered the possibility of nuking Americans who demanded to practice their Second Amendment rights. Trump-era liberals had argued for the abolition of the Electoral College long before they were pretending to care about Ukrainian autonomy. Democrats were talking about stacking the Supreme Court long before any whistleblower showed up. If your contention is that the Constitution protects abortion on demand through the ninth month but are fine with undermining property rights, gun rights, religious freedom, and any meaningful separation of power, you’re not a custodian of the Constitution, you’re partisan with an agenda. So do what you must. But it’s been insufferable watching you playact sentinel of the American Republic — whose presumptions, institutions, documents, and Founders you don’t really seem to like very much.

2. Victor Davis Hanson ain’t forgetting Obama’s Russia “reset,” and its amnesiac enablers. From the column:

Reset, remember, was a ridiculous assumption, beginning with its symbolic origins in Geneva with a pilfered red hotel Jacuzzi button emblazoned with the wrong Russian word, “overcharge.” American magnanimity supposedly would be appreciated by a liberalizing Russia. Putin’s hierarchy would reciprocate with domestic reforms, thus lessening tensions between Moscow and Washington. No doubt the more Putin saw the munificence of Western liberality, the more he too would adopt progressive policies.

In truth, as is the way of all appeasement, it was a one-way street in which generosity was seen as weakness to be exploited. Obama lifted prior sanctions. He refused to send lethal aid to Ukraine. He abandoned missile-defense efforts in Eastern Europe on promises that Putin would not discredit his controversial reset policy during Obama’s 2012 reelection. Both sides kept their quid pro quo promises. Under today’s new Democratic House standards, Obama would have been impeached in 2012 for that quid pro quo by the Republican-controlled Congress.

Obama ignored various Russian cyberattacks on the U.S. and its allies, and its interference in U.S. elections. The nadir of reset came with Moscow’s promise to help out in Syria if Secretary of State John Kerry would invite it into the Middle East to enforce U.N. efforts to stop Bashar Assad’s use of weapons of mass destruction.

The results were disastrous. A resuscitated Assad liquidated his opposition while his partner Hezbollah was given free rein in large swaths of Syria.

3. The Romney-Bennett plan to provide umph to the child tax credit has gotten a lot of attention, and Robert VerBruggen corrals the conservative responses into four general areas. From the analysis, here’s Response Three:

Make it fully refundable, but pay for this by consolidating other welfare spending.

In this view, which happens to be my own, we could make the tax credit more logically coherent and improve poverty policy by making the credit fully refundable while simultaneously making the rest of the safety net less sensitive to how many children one has. Each child would count as a tax payment of the exact same amount, and benefits such as food stamps would increase less with each additional child.

One of the big problems with welfare spending is that different benefits phase in and out at different thresholds, creating situations where the poor can face high marginal tax rates — in some cases, they can even lose money when they earn more because they hit a “benefit cliff” and lose access to a program all at once. Giving the poor the exact same tax credit as the middle class, with no phase-in, while making the phase-outs of other programs less dramatic, ameliorates this problem.

4. More on Romney-Bennett: Kevin Williamson follows up on RVB and says “how about cutting the crap . . . just cut the checks.” From the response:

That’s why we like vouchers for education, but also for other benefits: Food stamps, for example, are a voucher program for food. Vouchers tend to work better for many applications because sending poor people vouchers is almost the same thing as sending them checks: Vouchers are money that you can spend only on approved things, and they help us to avoid the pitfalls of central planning because they act more or less like money in the marketplace. But we also have moralistic reasons for that preference: If we’re going to help you out in life, then we’re going to condescend to you, too, and boss you around a little! It makes us feel better about the whole sordid business. And you don’t really get to do that if you just . . .

. . . send them checks.

5. Now that a week has passed since Boris Johnson’s blowout win, the one thing we yearn for — John O’Sullivan’s take — has arrived. From the analysis:

This was a realignment election — and because of Brexit. There’s been a debate in the Tory party between those (e.g., Tim Montgomerie) who believe that the Tory party could and should win a larger share of working class votes and those who thought (e.g., Matthew Parris) that this was mistaken since the working class is shrinking and there were more voters to be had from moderate conservatives in the well-educated classes. The election has decided that question in favor of those who wanted to go the blue-collar route. The Tories won in all social groups, but the swing to them in Northern working-class constituencies was larger than elsewhere and gave them a near-landslide. And that was for two Brexit-related reasons. First, Brexit was essentially a patriotic cause that appealed to both Tories and blue-collar workers; second, the contempt for Brexit and its supporters shown by the Labour Party and the left intelligentsia drove home the realization in the working class that they were despised by the very people who claimed to lead them. A realignment of British politics bringing the workers into a new Toryism would probably have happened anyway. Indeed, it has been happening slowly and gradually. But Brexit and this election have accelerated it.

Another factor in this is that the pro-Brexit vote in U.K. politics turned out to be as steady as the guards at Waterloo. This contradicts the view of the Remain establishment after June 2016 that the referendum result had been an irrational spasm that could be corrected by a public campaign of explanation-cum-bullying. The voters would see sense — indeed, they would have to. But the performance of the U.K. economy after 2016 undermined what the Remainers had predicted before the referendum and made the Brexit voters skeptical of their later arguments — and still more of their condescending attitudes to the Brexit voters (with whom they never really engaged in serious political conversation. Anyway, the Brexit vote stood firm — and Boris won.

6. Greg Weiner scores lawmakers for embracing the forgone and disregarding an obligation to see impeachment through the lens of prudence. From the commentary:

Edmund Burke, the great modern theorist of prudence, famously refused to consider any proposition “in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances . . . give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour, and discriminating effect.” Burke meant that most of politics operates in the realm of choice, not necessity. While choices should be principled, they must also be prudent, which means political actors must consider their consequences in addition to their rigid justice.

Presidents are not monarchs, but what Burke wrote about dethroning kings nonetheless applies to impeachment: It is “a question (like all other questions of state) of dispositions, and of means, and of probable consequences, rather than of positive rights.”

By contrast, an overly legalistic account of impeachment that places the evidence on autopilot — similar, ironically, to the style of argument that opponents of impeachment such as Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley have used to shift attention from political offenses and toward criminal ones — leaves little room for consideration of consequences.

A prudential judgment as to the consequences of impeachment must consider several factors in addition to presidential innocence or guilt. One is the danger of a president’s being allowed to abuse his office with impunity. Another is the hazard of a partisan impeachment that would harden divisions in an already polarized nation. And there are more, from the fact that an election looms in which these questions can be litigated to the evidence that Trump attempted to use the nation’s foreign policy to manipulate that election.

7. New York’s climate-change jihad again Exxon collapses, and Walter Olsen believes the case should be a staple of future law-school studies. From the analysis:

It was a hashtag prosecution, a social-media campaign posing as a legal case: #ExxonKnew. And like yesterday’s media balloon become today’s litter, its deflated remains floated back down to earth last week in a New York courtroom.

Whatever you think of them otherwise, ExxonMobil’s communications on climate change had neither the intent nor the effect of wronging the company’s investors. New York’s since-disgraced attorney general Eric Schneiderman had no business bringing a securities-fraud case on that basis, and there was nothing his successor, Letitia James, could have done to rescue the case.

In a 2003 case called Nike v. Kasky, no less a liberal authority than Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned that it was dangerous to freedom of speech to arm ideological adversaries with legal power to bring fraud charges against businesses based on those businesses’ public statements about contentious issues. (The full Court in Nike did not reach that issue, instead dismissing the case on other grounds.)

The Nike case involved claims by the apparel maker about the treatment of its workforce, but the climate issue offered a similar line of attack. Since at least 2012 activists had been looking for ways to gin up lawsuits or even prosecutions over what they termed climate denial — or, to use a more neutral phrase, advocacy on the wrong side of climate debates. Win or lose, and First Amendment or no, gaining access to the internal files of energy companies and their ideological allies could be politically valuable. The ambitious Schneiderman, widely spoken of as a future New York governor, was willing to go first.

8. Matthew Prillman tells the tale of Nicaragua and its persistent strongman, Daniel Ortega, who has led the country toward chaos. From the piece:

Faced with pushback from the democratic opposition, Ortega has dusted off the authoritarian playbook from the 1980s. Security forces have arbitrarily arrested thousands of civilians. Human Rights Watch and local NGOs report that security forces have physically abused many of them. Outspoken priests routinely receive death threats while their churches have been vandalized or even burned. An independent press is on life support. Reporters Without Borders, a respected watchdog NGO, ranks Nicaragua 114th worldwide for media freedom.

The Trump administration has wisely ramped up pressure on Ortega’s Sandinista regime. In 2018, Trump signed the NICA Act, which commits the U.S. to voting against loans to Nicaragua in the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and IMF. Washington has placed sanctions on Ortega’s inner circle, including his wife. In April, the administration sanctioned a prominent Nicaraguan bank that had served as Ortega’s personal slush fund.

The international community is slowly, if belatedly, following suit.

The Organization of American States has successfully pressed Ortega to release some political prisoners. The European Union, following the lead of Washington, is inching closer to sanctions on regime officials and their assets abroad. Sanctions alone will not force Ortega’s hand, but they constrain at least some of his worst impulses and signal to the democratic opposition that the international community remains committed to tightening the pressure on Ortega.

9. David Beckworth remembers the late Paul Volker and his deserved legacy as the man who helped save America’s economy and defeat the “Great Inflation” that tortured it in the 1970s. From the piece:

Which brings us to the last reason the Great Inflation mattered: It changed the economic and political landscape of the United States. Jimmy Carter appointed Volcker in 1979 to head the Fed in large part owing to his vow to tackle the inflation problem, which is what the body politic wanted at the time. The malaise of the Great Inflation period and the Fed’s painful fight against it starting in late 1979 also helped elect Ronald Reagan in late 1980. And, of course, the Reagan presidency was an inflection point in U.S. political history. The Great Inflation, in short, had a major influence on the trajectory of the country.

Volcker had been a long-time proponent of restoring price stability to the country and was willing to wage a painful war on inflation to achieve that outcome. He did so by pushing short-term interest rates up near 20 percent and slowing down the growth of money. These efforts caused two recessions in the early 1980s that, collectively, were about as deep as the recent Great Recession of 2007–2009 in terms of unemployment but had a much faster recovery. His fight against inflation was unpopular with some, yet he prevailed because of the broader public support for this efforts. Remember, most Americans saw inflation as the top problem through 1983.

To be sure, Volcker’s fight against inflation in the early 1980s probably could not have endured without Reagan’s support. Robert Samuelson argues in his book that both men were necessary to win the war on inflation and that neither by himself could have done it. What’s more, the fight against inflation did not end with Volcker, who left the Fed in 1987. Alan Greenspan continued the fight afterward, bringing trend inflation further down during his two decades at the Federal Reserve. Still, it was Volcker who dealt with the worst of it, and administered the painful but necessary medicine.

10. Brian Allen checks out an important new show at the Jewish Museum. From the beginning of the review:

Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art is now at the Jewish Museum. If there’s a show to see in New York, it’s this one. It’s beautifully done, as are all the Jewish Museum’s shows, with great art and a majestic personality at its center. Halpert (1900–1970) was self-made, tough, kind, focused on the next buck, a charming woman with a canny sense for under-the-radar art. She took trompe l’oeil gun paintings, old weather vanes, American cubism, and Georgia O’Keeffe and made an American whole. As a young woman, at the start of the Depression, she opened the cutting-edge Downtown Gallery, which represented Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, and Jacob Lawrence through thick and thin.

Through thick and thin. That’s the life of an art dealer. The best are tastemakers and connoisseurs. In supporting living artists, they’re philanthropists invested in the riskiest propositions. They’ve built careers and collections, and until the 1970s, dealers pumped the blood through the living and breathing American art corpus.

The Halpert show builds an intellectual, biographical, and aesthetic storyline. It starts with a voyage and with romance. Edith was born in Odessa, coming to America in 1906 with her family after a pogrom but with backup cash. Never poor, Edith took art lessons and married Samuel Halpert, a not-so-bad artist who situated his young wife in a jostling art ambiance she grew to love — the New York world of the Ashcan artists, the Eight, Stieglitz, but also the dregs of American impressionism, massive social disruption, and the chance for artists to say something new. Edith, as she said, “married American art.”

11. Jay Nordlinger expands on his recent magazine profile of Purdue University president Mitch Daniels. From the first of a three-part series:

Okay, another subject: political correctness. Is it a problem here at Purdue, as it is on so many other campuses, notoriously? “It is a phenomenon,” says the president, but not the problem it is elsewhere. “We have every stripe of opinion here — thank goodness.” Some of the opinions are extreme and strident. “But the center of gravity here is just incontrovertibly different than it is at many of the places we all hear and read about.”

Purdue is STEM-centric — either the second- or third-most STEM-centric university in the country, says Daniels. Can political correctness and ideology sneak into those fields? Sure, but it’s harder than in the humanities. “Many of our faculty and students are working very, very hard at the academic essence of what they’re doing,” says Daniels. “Students at Purdue, I think I can reliably tell you, are studying harder than many of their counterparts at other places.”

In any event, no one is allowed to shut anyone else up, according to the president. Free speech is emphasized, along with civil disagreement. In fact, these things are stressed during freshman orientation. The orientation includes skits in which students and faculty participate, “demonstrating how one expresses disagreement,” the president says.

In January 2015, the University of Chicago adopted its famous statement — the Chicago Statement — on freedom of expression. The ideas or rules therein are known as the “Chicago Principles.” They say, in a nutshell, that academic freedom will not be impeded, and that members of the community will carry out their work in a spirit of toleration and pluralism. Princeton adopted the Chicago Principles for itself. Then came Purdue. Daniels says he “xeroxed” the principles as fast as he could. Since then, almost 70 universities have followed suit.

RELATED: Here is Part III of the series, and here is Part II.

12. Heather Wilhelm gets her Mom on and finds smartphones in the hands of kids to be . . . dumb. From the piece:

Over the past few weeks, a series of terrifying articles has illustrated in startling relief what should be perfectly obvious: Children should not have the Internet in their pockets. Writing in the Dallas Morning News on December 12, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa described in horrifying detail how her sixth-grade daughter was exposed to rape porn at a birthday party. Yes, you read that correctly: Rape porn. It was shared via Snapchat, by a cadre of sixth-grade boys who laughed as they watched.

Think about it: They were laughing. In sixth grade, they were already desensitized. Moreover, thanks to their parents, they had the Internet in their pockets, ready to serve up something even more brutal the next time around.

“Our children are growing up in a very different world than the one we knew as kids,” Herndon-De La Rosa writes. “Gone are the days of your grandfather’s Playboy. Today, children have access to explicit, violent and degrading sexual content in the palm of their hands at all times.”

On December 13, over at Medium, Sloane Ryan reported on her experience posing as an eleven-year-old girl on Instagram — and the sexual predators that targeted her at an “unnervingly fast” pace. After nine months of tracking countless online abuses, Ryan writes, “we still continue to be stunned by the breadth of cruelty and perversion we see.” Meanwhile, on December 15, the writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry published an in-depth look at the scientific research surrounding Internet porn and its nightmarish impact on the human brain.

13. Kyle Smith says the force is not with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. From the review:

Plot developments depend heavily on coincidence and dumb luck, as our heroes keep bumping into clues that lead them ever closer to a tracking device that will point the way to the emperor’s secret lair. At one point they just fall into a cave where they come across a dagger whose edge is covered with runes that describe where the tracking gizmo is hidden. Later when we get a glimpse of the ruins of the Death Star (which is kind of cool), another clue turns out to depend on randomly stumbling across this sight from exactly the right angle. One major plot twist is essentially a rehash; another is just dumb.

I’m not sure whether it’s panic or an adolescent attention span that makes Abrams do this, but he has an uncontrollable need to throw in random meaningless action scenes every ten minutes to make sure we’re entertained — fights and chases of no consequence whatsoever. Stormtroopers come after the rebel fighters, this time with a new skill: “They can fly?” someone marvels. Yes, they can fly. Like clay pigeons. They remain the most inept and killable group of soldiers since the Austro-Hungarian army. The armor they wear protects them from nothing, not even arrows. If they were trying to get shot by blasters, they wouldn’t have to do much of anything differently. After eleven movies of watching them serve as so many blades of grass to the weed-whackers, there’s not a lot of suspense in watching them shuffle around ineffectually a few more times. Moreover, Rey’s powers in channeling the Force are now so vast they’re a little absurd. She can blow up flying ships now? Really?

14. More on Star Wars: Armond White takes out the light saber and whacks away. From the beginning of the review:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker fulfills the prophecy of Jean-Luc Godard’s 2014 Goodbye to Language. The fealty of moviegoing fans (including their indoctrinated offspring) has not only been sustained, it has grown. But this is not because the Star Wars films are so excellent that they inspire an intergalactic coming-together of diverse groups (descended from the Mos Eisley Cantina). Quite the opposite; the annual production of Star Wars films since Disney purchased the franchise from originator George Lucas in 2012 merely proves chronic consumerism.

The inclination — or addiction — that Star Wars represents was what Godard, creator of the most singularly thrilling and intellectually stimulating movies, always feared: the movie-watching habit being indulged without reflection or feeling. As cinema’s reigning, film-loving, left-leaning skeptic, Godard expressed his lament knowingly, while moving into his late, politically transcendent, spiritual phase (Nouvelle Vague, JLG by JLG, Forever Mozart, In Praise of Love).

Fanboys who don’t know Godard’s work feel free to greet each new Star Wars episode as a chapter in their commercialized lives, not knowing what they’re missing. And the media perpetuate this ignorant enthusiasm, supporting Disney’s politically correct replacement of male Luke Skywalker with female Jedi warrior Rey (petulant Daisy Ridley) as if it meant cultural and social progress.

Fact is, as Rey fights with the Resistance against the First Order, it all stems from Boomer George Lucas’s shame-faced response to Pauline Kael’s astute observation in 1977: “Is it because the picture is synthesized from the mythology of old serials and comic books that it didn’t occur to anybody that she [Princess Leia] could get The Force?” Lucas and Disney have been making up that for lapse at light speed. Rey’s ascension to the central role in Star Wars (replete with the late Carrie Fisher’s zombie-like yet domineering Leia and Laura Dern’s stern Vice Admiral Holdo) proves that everyone now feels The Force and its contagion: non-binary marketing.

15. Madeleine Kearns, on the trans lunacy beat, explains why liberal author J. K. Rowling is facing the wrath of the Gender Police. From the piece:

Twitter has exploded in outrage because J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, is an alleged “TERF.” That’s right, a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” This ridiculous slur was invented by people who insist on denying the science of sex and who want to take out their rage on nonbelievers, and on dissenting women in particular.

Prominent male transgender activists such as Charlotte Clymer have gone full hysterical. “For several years, there has been substantial concern that J.K. Rowling is transphobic,” Clymer tweeted, referring, I presume, to the time Rowling followed the women’s rights campaigner Magdalen Berns on Twitter. “I admit that I held out that one of my childhood heroes was simply being misunderstood. This morning, that was dashed when she defended a researcher who was fired for transphobic tweets.”

“As a gay man that found safety in Hogwarts throughout my childhood,” tweeted Shamir Sanni. “Knowing that Trans people wouldn’t be able to have that safety breaks my heart.” Does Mr. Sanni realize that Hogwarts isn’t real?

The New December 31, 2019 Issue of National Review Kicks CNN in the CaNN.

As is our custom, here are four random recommendations from the new issue. If you subscribe to NR, great. If you don’t, well, how about getting NRPLUS? Do that here. And while we’re sorta on the subject, think about sending that special conservative someone a Christmas gift subscription to NR. Accomplish that here. The marketing chores done with, let’s get on to the quartet of wisdomitry. Or is it wisdomatry? Anyway . . .

1. Brexit, at long last, will happen, writes Douglas Murray, assessing the ramifications of Boris Johnson’s blowout win.

Panjandrums such as Tony Blair’s loathed former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, pretended that what was needed was a second vote. They named this the campaign for a “People’s Vote” (as though we could not possibly see what they were doing there), all so that the public could “correct” their earlier obvious mistake. These and a hundred other tricks were tried on the British public. And there was worse.

Tony Blair, John Major, Michael Heseltine, and others might have spent the last three years helping their country. They might have helped secure the best possible deal between the U.K. and the EU when the two parted ways. Such men, along with our former EU commissioners, such as Blair’s former right-hand man Peter Mandelson, might have been exceedingly useful during this process. Instead they did something else. Like a whole slew of the Remain establishment in the U.K., most of them actually worked with Brussels to conspire against Britain: to thwart Britain’s attempts to exit the EU. They warned Brussels of what the Brits would do. They told Brussels how to outmaneuver us. And much more. Some even asked them to punish us. All to ensure that what the British public had asked for at the ballot box in 2016 was not acted on.

Like the Brussels negotiators, they kept this up right until December 12, 2019. Just before this election, Michael Heseltine joined that group of Conservatives and former Conservatives who had become so infuriated by Brexit that they urged supporters to vote Liberal Democrat (the only party that said it would keep the U.K. in the EU even if the public reiterated in a further vote that they wanted out). In television appearances throughout the post-referendum years, Heseltine gave interviews so increasingly vitriolic, bulging-eyed, and spittle-flecked that he seemed at times to resemble a leftist impersonator doing crass impressions of an especially virulent and hate-filled Tory.

2. Charlie Cooke performs an autopsy on a dead news channel, finds the CNN corpse corrupted throughout. From the cover essay:

This has been typical of the network’s monomania. On August 14, the New York Times ran with the news that protesters had taken over Hong Kong’s airport; that Nicolás Maduro was torturing his foes in the Venezuelan military—sometimes to death; and that the White House was delaying its proposed tariffs on China. More prominent than any of these stories on CNN.com were an “analysis” titled “Trump’s talking more than ever about men’s looks”; an “analysis” of “Donald Trump, plastic pusher”; an “analysis” under the headline “This one word is a telltale sign Trump is being dishonest”; and a piece providing “proof Obama was better for the stock market than Trump.” Pick any day, and you’ll find the same disconnect. Were CNN to change its website address to “TrumpImpeachmentWatch.com,” would anyone notice the difference?

In 2017, the network adopted a new slogan, “Facts First,” which it promoted via a widely run advertising campaign that explained that, unlike President Trump, its employees were able to distinguish between an apple and a banana. “Lies,” the ubiquitous spot insisted, “can become truth, if we let them.”

Which, of course, is absolutely true—just as it is absolutely true that President Trump, the clear target of the drive, is a habitual liar and an unreconstructed narcissist. The trouble is . . . so is CNN. With the possible exception of the hallucinatory MSNBC, no other institution in American life spent more time and effort indulging the false idea that President Trump was quite obviously guilty of treason, collusion, and bribery, and insisting that the impending Mueller report would not only reveal this guilt, but would prompt Trump’s removal from office and, possibly, his arrest. For two long years, the network was breathless. The walls were always “closing in,” the hours were perpetually “ticking down,” and the end never stopped beginning. Wars have been fought with less relentless effort than Jeff Zucker and co. put into starting with their conclusion. Anything with the word “Russia” glued to it—however minor or tenuous or self-evidently silly it was—warranted a “BREAKING” chyron, and a grave, dramatic, eschatological tone. Nothing gave rise to skepticism or pause— not even the publication of the Mueller report itself, the details of which, when revealed, were all but rejected in favor of yet more conspiracy theories. Friedrich Nietzsche’s warning that “he who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster” has never been more assiduously ignored.

3. As for a lasting roll-back of overregulation, Philip Wallach says the Trump Administration has fallen short. From the piece:

There have been some real bright spots for deregulators. Many of the Obama administration’s aggressive and legally dubious environmental rules have been stalled or rolled back, including the Waters of the United States rule, Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for tailpipe emissions, and the Clean Power Plan, which regulated greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants. The Endangered Species Act will be interpreted so as to make it less burdensome. Promises to scrap Obamacare may have gone unfulfilled, but the administration has quietly and constructively made the program more flexible for states and individuals. The FDA has sped up its drug-approval process, especially for generics. Agencies’ abuse of regulatory guidance will be better policed, thanks to two recent executive orders.

These triumphs notwithstanding, three years in, hopes of a thoroughgoing overhaul have been dashed. Not because the Trump administration has manifested any unexpected taste for its own regulating—to an unprecedented degree, it has abstained, issuing far fewer new regulations than any of its predecessors. But hitting the pause button, however unusual, does not a revolution make. The hoped-for transformation of the administrative state is nowhere to be found. The administration has continued to speak of its deregulatory efforts as revolutionary, but it has never really pushed a positive vision of what a reformed regulatory system should look like.

The regulatory-budget system coming out of Executive Order 13771 represents the administration’s best try. Certainly, in its own reckoning, OIRA has accomplished a great deal, “unleashing economic freedom” (as a White House press release puts it) by cutting $51 billion in regulatory costs over the program’s first three years. That sounds impressive, until you remember that U.S. gross domestic product is now over $20 trillion annually. Nor does the $51 billion represent cost savings realized annually—it is “net savings” calculated over an indefinite time horizon, with annual savings amounting to a few billion dollars. In 2018, the administration sought to show its relative merit by noting that, through its first two years, the Obama administration had imposed $245 billion in regulatory costs. The Trump administration’s negative $33 billion in costs imposed at that point certainly was a lot less than $245 billion. But the comparison cuts harder in the other direction: The administration is admitting that it is coming nowhere close to reversing the costs imposed even by the Obama administration—let alone the decades of regulatory burdens built up previously.

And the situation is even worse than that, because the administration’s math allows it to take credit for deregulatory policies as soon as they are promulgated, without paying any attention to whether they are carried through. In a great many cases they will not be, since Trump-administration agencies have seen their actions reversed in court at unheard-of levels—by one count, they have prevailed in just four out of 59 cases. Too much winning? Not so much.

4. Before the Democrats do it even worse, some Republican senators, reports Alexandra DeSanctis, are trying to create a federal paid-leave program that truly helps new parents. From the essay:

A growing number of conservative policymakers, meanwhile, argue that Republicans ought to offer their own proposals, so as not to cede the debate entirely to progressives. Americans tend to favor a federal paid-leave policy of some kind, and if conservatives remain silent, the thinking goes, voters will be inclined to accept the Democratic plan as the only option.

The public seems open to a family-leave program less expensive than what progressives favor. A poll conducted by the Cato Institute in December 2018 found that almost three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) supported a federal program to provide twelve weeks of paid leave—but only until costs were mentioned. A little more than half of respondents (54 percent) said they’d be willing to pay as much as $200 annually in higher taxes to fund a twelve-week paid-leave program like the FAMILY Act.

But if such a program required taxpayers to pay $450 annually in higher taxes, more than half (52 percent) would oppose it, and the percentage would rise to 56 percent if the annual tax increase amounted to $1,200 per taxpayer. Those figures are low-, mid-, and high-cost estimates for the FAMILY Act that Cato tabulated using a cost calculator from the American Enterprise Institute–Brookings Institution working group on paid family leave.

So far, the chief proposals from Republican politicians deal only with parental leave, or paid time off for new parents, which conservative supporters of the idea view as an answer to the charge that pro-lifers care about the unborn but not about families or young children. For his part, and in an effort to make good on his campaign rhetoric, President Trump has included paid maternity leave as a line item in his proposed budget every year since he took office, making himself the only president, Republican or Democrat, ever to do so.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Ben Weingarten wonders how the U.S. can transact with China in any strategically significant area given the communist regime’s aims and the security threat posed by the ChiComs. From the piece:

As the world awaits the details of the Trump Administration’s reported “phase one” trade deal with China — U.S. officials expect it to be executed in January 2020 — a more fundamental question arises: Should America be doing business with China in strategically significant areas, or even beyond?

In a December 15th interview with Director of the United States National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo indirectly touched on this question. Bartiromo asked Kudlow if the proposed deal accounted for new Chinese regulations that would seemingly threaten the intellectual property (IP) of American firms transacting with Chinese ones. She was likely alluding to China’s new Encryption Law, set to take effect on January 1, 2020. Some have suggested that the law would enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to collect all information that traffics on Chinese networks. To the extent the trade deal does not account for this law, the implication is that its provisions relating to IP protections could be rendered moot. Here is the relevant portion of the exchange:

MARIA BARTIROMO: What I really want to know about is the intellectual property [IP] part of this. You say that you’ve got some promises from the Chinese to actually protect intellectual promises — property, rather, but isn’t it true that they’ve just instituted their own new cyber security rules that are in place that say that no foreign company may encrypt data so it can’t be read by the Chinese central government and the communist party of China? In other words, businesses are required to turn over the encryption keys. Are these new rules that China just put in place basically negating any opportunity for the U.S. to protect its IP?

 LARRY KUDLOW: Well, look. We will see. There’s a large IP chapter in this deal and there’s also a large forced technology transfer chapter in this deal. I don’t think we know enough about these new Chinese rules and we’ll have to look at that and by the way if they do violate then of course we will take action.

Bartiromo’s concern is well-founded, not only given the CCP’s historical cheating on such deals, but because of the nature of its rule. Consider, for example, China’s 2015 National Security Law, which says that all citizens, firms and organizations have “the responsibility and obligation to maintain state security.” Its 2017 National Intelligence Law also obligates such individuals and entities to “support, provide assistance, and cooperate in national intelligence work…” It is not hard to see how China could apply rules even beyond the Encryption Law to justify violations of a deal with the U.S. under the guise of “national security concerns,” and the “rule of law.”

2. The great social scientist DJ Jaffe takes to the New York Post to batter the de Blasio administration for its municipal hypocrisy on caring for the mentally ill. From the column:

Lack of money isn’t the problem. Lack of leadership is. It is cruel and heartless to deny treatment to the seriously ill. It puts patients, the public and ­police at risk.

The New York City Council has given Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray almost $1 billion for their Thrive mental-health programs over five years. But Thrive spends less than 12 percent of that whopping amount on getting treatment to those who need it most — the seriously ill.

Instead, the money is going to educational campaigns, anti-stigma campaigns, brochures and p.r. campaigns designed to convince the public that officials are doing a swell job, while services for the seriously ill atrophy.

Some of the programming is downright ludicrous. As The Post’s Susan Edelman revealed over the weekend, Thrive has splurged $10.5 million a year on school mental-health consultants who put on workshops but don’t, you know, actually treat kids in crisis. Consultants make up to $80,000 a year for this heroic work; supervisors up to $96,000.

This is deliberate. It was McCray who insisted on placing mental-health-education units in libraries and these consultants in schools. But by design, neither the education units nor the consultants are allowed to directly help people with mental illness. Say what?

3. More from the Post: This time it’s former NR colleague Jacob Sullum, who hones in on the FBI’s propensity to BS the FISA Court. From the (sarcastic) end of the column:

It would be reassuring if the FBI’s misfeasance could be explained by anti-Trump bias. But as Horowitz noted in his report, the fact that “so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations,” one that “was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI” and “FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny,” suggests a much deeper problem involving overzealousness, confirmation bias and tunnel vision — tendencies that threaten all Americans who value their privacy and reputations.

Even Comey, who claims the dishonesty described by Horowitz “does not reflect the FBI culture of compliance and candor,” wonders if the failure might be “systemic,” meaning there could be “problems with other cases.” Too bad he was never in a position to explore that issue.

RELATED: Andy McCarthy bangs that drum at The Hill.

4. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer gives a welcome lesson on Edmund Burke and a timely castigation of conservative bellyaching that offers no solutions. From the piece:

Though we correctly remember Edmund Burke as the father of modern conservatism, we too often forget that he was also a pure and unadulterated radical when it came to promoting the dignity of the human person. In his own writings, speeches, and legislation, he never ceased to promote the rights of Irish, Americans, Roman Catholics, Hindus, and Africans (against the slave trade). One could only impossibly describe Burke’s life and purpose by ignoring the oppressed he sought to liberate and strengthen.

Contrary to much modern conservative and traditionalist misunderstandings, Burke embraced completely the concept of natural rights, though he feared that any attempt to define such rights as this or that would end in a disaster of abstractions. “I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as any gentleman of that society,” Burke wrote in 1790. “I think I envy liberty as little as they do, to any other nation. But I cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to any thing which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction.” Properly understood, rights come from the laws of nature, Burke wrote, but they did so not as a direct line, but rather as refracted light. Rights must always and everywhere take into account the complex nature not only of man but, especially, of men. “The rights of men are in a sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned.”

Thus, when he challenged the French Revolutionaries, he shocked the contemporaries of his generation. What made the French so different from the Americans, the Irish, the Indians, or the Africans? The French and their allies—even those in England—”are so taken up with their theories about the rights of man, that they have totally forgot his nature.” They desire a gift without the giving, an advantage without a corresponding duty. “A cheap, bloodless reformation, a guiltless liberty, appear flat and vapid to their taste,” he charged.

Perhaps, most tellingly, however, the French Revolutionaries and their allies denied not just the complexity but the romance of human nature. Famously, Burke rallied against the supposed gentlemen of France who did not defend the queen. “Little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and cavaliers,” he wrote. “I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.” Yet, Burke had to admit, such an age of honor had passed, and that of the utilitarians—those who would use man and men to their own advantage and, horrifically, as a means to an end—had arrived.

5. The College Fix’s Troy Sargent has the story on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s annual update on how due process is treated at major colleges, and if you thought things are getting worse, well, you’d be right. From the report:

The third annual review of due process on U.S. News & World Report’s top 53 “national universities,” conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, reported an increase in lackluster grades compared to previous years.

In fact, the number of colleges receiving “D” or “F” grades increased from 47 in 2018 to 49 in 2019, according to FIRE.

“Disappointingly, we did not see a significant change overall in the safeguards the rated universities guarantee students from 2017 through this year,” the group said.

Seven in 10 reviewed colleges “do not explicitly guarantee students that they will be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” two in five “do not explicitly require that fact-finders […] be impartial,” and fewer than a third “guarantee a meaningful hearing.”

The study reviewed policies for both sexual misconduct and non-sexual misconduct. None received an “A” grade, while four schools – the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Georgia Institute of Technology, Cornell and Stanford – earned one “B” and one “C” grade.

Some of the most elite schools in the country earned “F” for both policies, including Harvard, MIT, Caltech and the University of Notre Dame. Washington University in St. Louis is the only school that offers none of the 10 “fundamental elements of due process” in at least one policy.

6. It has been a long and challenging year for Roger Scruton, who recounts its highs and lows in The Spectator. From the piece:

My publisher, Bloomsbury, has agreed to an interview in the New Statesman, a magazine for which I retain a certain fondness, having served as its wine critic for several years. Unfortunately Bloomsbury’s publicity officer cannot make it to the interview, and I am alone with an eager young man who has come not to learn about my views but to reinforce his own. I think nothing of it, since the presence of a young and enquiring mind switches me to teacher mode, assuming knowledge in order to induce it. The fact that this person may be not just ignorant of the issues that crop up but interested only in the ways they can be used to damage me does not cross my mind.

Readers of The Spectator do not need reminding of the sequel. The interview is duly published — a mendacious concoction of out-of-context remarks and downright fabrications. We are able to obtain the tapes of the interview, and on the strength of this, and thanks to all the support that is offered to me, not least by this magazine and its brave associate editor Douglas Murray, I obtain an apology from the New Statesman.

By that time the damage has been done. I have been dismissed from the Commission, by a party which seems entirely unacquainted with the many thousands of quite well-argued words that I have offered in support of it, and the architects queue up to pour their ritual denunciations on my head.

At my lowest point, fearing that all the work conducted by the Commission would be lost, I communicate to James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, that he should stick with it, and to his credit he does. It has been a hard time for Mr Brokenshire, but his apology leads to my re-instatement, and even the architectural press, apart from the adolescent Dezeen, ceases to repeat the fantastic and fabricated charges against me.

BORIS BONUS: A couple of months back at Quillette, Toby Young profiled the man (his former boss at The Spectator) whose hour had come. It’s a very interesting read. From the profile:

Boris is often described as a “Marmite figure,” a reference to a salty, brown, waxy substance that some British people like to smear on their toast. You either love Marmite or you hate it and the same goes for Boris. Just as some sections of America’s coastal elites suffer from Trump derangement syndrome, large swathes of the UK’s intelligentsia are afflicted by Boris derangement syndrome.

He has certainly engaged in some pretty egregious behavior during his climb up Britain’s greasy pole—a litany of sins that would be enough to end the careers of less gifted politicians. He was sacked from his first job as a news trainee on the Times of London in 1988 when he was caught making up a quote. He went on to become the Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, where many of his stories about the EU’s harebrained bureaucratic directives—new regulations governing the curvature of bananas, for instance—fell under the heading of “too good to check.” He landed the editorship of the Spectator in 1999 at the age of 35 and tried to combine that with embarking on a political career, becoming the Member of Parliament for Henley in 2001—a twin-track approach that the magazine’s proprietor, Conrad Black, described as trying to ride two horses at once. (“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it,” Boris responded.) This eventually came to a head when stories began to circulate that he was having an affair with Petronella Wyatt, the Spectator’s deputy editor. Boris was on to his second marriage at this point and had been appointed the Conservative’s shadow arts spokesman, so this was a potential scandal. When asked by Michael Howard, the leader of the Party, whether the rumors were true, Boris described them as “an inverted pyramid of piffle.” In fact, they were true—it turned out Petronella had become pregnant and had then had an abortion—and Boris was fired by Howard for being less than forthright about it.

AND HOW ABOUT A FISA BONUS: At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald excoriates a historic scandal – not only of the FBI, but of the American media. From the essay:

Over and over, the IG Report makes clear that, contrary to these denials, the Steele Dossier was indeed crucial to the Page eavesdropping warrant. “We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s receipt of Steele’s election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA order,” the IG Report explained. A central and essential role.

It added: “in support of the fourth element in the FISA application-Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities, the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102.”

Just compare the pompous denials from so many U.S. national security reporters at the nation’s leading news outlets – that the Page warrant was not based on the Steele Dossier – to the actual truth that we now know: “in support of the fourth element in the FISA application-Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities, the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102″ (emphasis added).

Indeed, it was the Steele Dossier that led FBI leadership, including Director James Comey and Deputy Diretor Andrew McCabe, to approve the warrant application in the first place despite concerns raised by other agents that the information was unreliable. Explains the IG Report:

FBI leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to seek a FISA order on Page after being advised of, and giving consideration to, concerns expressed by Stuart Evans, then NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight responsibility over QI, that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA order would probably not be worth the ‘risk’ of being criticized later for collecting communications of someone (Carter Page) who was “politically sensitive.”

Baseballery

As the omniscience-potence of the (idiotic!) pitch count has taken its stranglehold on the beauty of the game, the shutout has become that rare thing (along with the complete game, the triple, and bunt). Once upon a century, it was not. The great Walter Johnson threw an MLB-record 110 in his career, and in his impossibly wonderful season of 1913, when he racked up a 36–7 record and a 1.14 ERA, he pitched shutouts in four consecutive starts (and in between them, in three relief appearances, he won two games and earned a save — he gave up nary a run).

Good ol’ occasionally likkered-up Grover Cleveland Alexander, The Big Train’s NL contemporary, second on the all-time shutout lists, holds the single-season record of 16, accomplished in his phenomenal 1916 campaign, when he went 33–12, with a 1.55 ERA, for the second-place Phillies. One of those shutouts came on September 1 at the old Baker Bowl, as Alexander aced the visiting Brooklyn Robins (the eventual NL champs that year) 3–0, besting John “Colby Jack” Coombs.

About Jack Coombs: He holds the AL single-season shutout record, accomplished in 1910 when he went a staggering 31–9, with a microscopic 1.30 ERA, for the World Champion Philadelphia Athletics. In that year’s World Series, Coombs won three games against the Chicago Cubs, and in the following year’s World Series, he beat Christy Mathewson 3–2 in an 11-inning thriller. Coombs found World Series’ greatness one more time: In 1916, he won Brooklyn’s sole victory, a 4–3 complete game at Ebbets Field against the Boston Red Sox.

But back to Colby Jack’s 1910 season: Between August 16 and September 25, Coombs took the mound 12 times for the Athletics, twice in relief, ten as a starter. The two relief appearances were victories, as were all the others but for one 11-inning game, called for darkness, against the Cleveland Indians that ended as a 0–0 tie. Still, it was a shutout, as were four other games during that span, in which he gave up a total of a measly five runs. In late July, over a nine-game span, Coombs registered six shutouts, seven wins, one loss, and one no decision — that was a staggering 16-inning three-hit 0–0 tie game in Chicago against the White Sox, against its ace Big Ed Walsh, the Hall of Famer who also went the distance (giving up six hits), and who that year led the league in losses (20) but also in ERA (1.27), a shade better than Coombs.

Along with Ron Guidry in 1978 (the year Your Humble Servant was selling ice cream on cold nights at Yankee Stadium), Catfish Hunter in 1974, Sandy Koufax in 1963, Whitey Ford in 1961, Dizzy Dean in 1934, Lefty Grove in 1930, or Christy Mathewson in 1905, Jack Coombs in 1910 achieved one of baseball’s best-ever regular- and post-season combined performances. He deserves to be remembered in between pitch-counting.

A Dios

God spelled backwards is dog, and ours, Mickey — known to the Missus and kids as “Mickey Mo Mo” and “Mr. Mo Mo” (after a head-scratching sticks-in-your-head song from the Teenage Robot cartoon) — is with Him now. Begging your forgiveness of the personal privilege taken here, but Your Humble Correspondent wanted to reaffirm that Man’s Best Friend is indeed that. Mrs. F thinks we might be jinxed — in this decade three of our pups (Martha and Sally along with the Mickster) have gone before us. Each was broken and abandoned, found love in a humble home, and then left too soon, admittedly by our standards of time, not God’s. Mickey was here less than a year, but he was tormented by seizures, violent, that no medicine (he had a pharmacy’s worth) could cure. But was there ever such love as this dog’s love (again, God aside)?! When it vanishes, we weep, but maybe we should take the time to thank the Creator for giving His creation a canine upgrade, for giving us this creature — the dog! — that can make itself truly one of the family. Yes, let’s.

And let us also seek of our Creator this: That He calm our thoughts and afford us the grace to be at one with whatever it is about this time of year (most wonderful, so says an authority such as Andy Williams). We pray for comfort and joy because He wants us to have it. So, again, let’s.

To those who will celebrate a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, who prayerfully yearn for the Divine Graces particular to the season, and to those who celebrate nothing spiritually in late December but who nevertheless want for good will, who feel its tug: On behalf of all my colleagues at National Review, may God’s true blessings be upon you and all those you love.

Merry Christmas,

Jack Falalalala, who reminds you that, like Noëlco, even my name says Merry Christmas, and who can accept your criticisms of this profaning at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Kyle Smith profanes “dog,” using it as a term to describes Cats. We’ll forgive him if only because, admittedly, of the several Biblical references to dog, none seem to have a positive connotation. Anyway, read the review here.

Most Popular

Elections

Bernie’s Huge Victory

Bernie had a massive night in Nevada, with a diverse nomination-winning-type coalition. According to the entrance poll, he won whites and Hispanics and did well among blacks. He won men and women. He won college graduates and did particularly well with non-college graduates. He won Democrats and independents. ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Huge Victory

Bernie had a massive night in Nevada, with a diverse nomination-winning-type coalition. According to the entrance poll, he won whites and Hispanics and did well among blacks. He won men and women. He won college graduates and did particularly well with non-college graduates. He won Democrats and independents. ... Read More
U.S.

Women’s Sports Should Be Women’s Sports

Transgender sports policies make a mockery of women’s competition. Just look at the state of Connecticut. At the 2018 state open for women’s track and field, two young men identifying as transgender took first and second place in the 100m race. Their participation not only deprived young women of their ... Read More
U.S.

Women’s Sports Should Be Women’s Sports

Transgender sports policies make a mockery of women’s competition. Just look at the state of Connecticut. At the 2018 state open for women’s track and field, two young men identifying as transgender took first and second place in the 100m race. Their participation not only deprived young women of their ... Read More

Elon Musk’s Plan to Settle Mars

He who follows Freedom, let him leave his homeland, and risk his life. — Adam Mickiewicz, Polish poet, 1832 Last week my wife Hope and I traveled to Boca Chica, Texas, to meet with Elon Musk. While we talked inside the SpaceX onsite headquarters, a mariachi band played outside, providing entertainment for ... Read More

Elon Musk’s Plan to Settle Mars

He who follows Freedom, let him leave his homeland, and risk his life. — Adam Mickiewicz, Polish poet, 1832 Last week my wife Hope and I traveled to Boca Chica, Texas, to meet with Elon Musk. While we talked inside the SpaceX onsite headquarters, a mariachi band played outside, providing entertainment for ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Houses

Mike Bloomberg scored a hit -- a palpable hit -- in the debate this week when he pointed back at Bernie Sanders and said: “What a wonderful country we have, the best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.” Many conservatives laughed and cheered and wondered why Bernie ... Read More
Elections

Bernie’s Houses

Mike Bloomberg scored a hit -- a palpable hit -- in the debate this week when he pointed back at Bernie Sanders and said: “What a wonderful country we have, the best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses.” Many conservatives laughed and cheered and wondered why Bernie ... Read More

Escape from Wuhan

The onset of the crisis in Wuhan startled me like a jump scare in a horror movie. You’ve seen the kind I mean. The audience is led to believe that the monster, psycho killer—or what have you—pursuing the intended victim is still distant. Then whatever it is stands up from behind, leaps out in front, bursts ... Read More

Escape from Wuhan

The onset of the crisis in Wuhan startled me like a jump scare in a horror movie. You’ve seen the kind I mean. The audience is led to believe that the monster, psycho killer—or what have you—pursuing the intended victim is still distant. Then whatever it is stands up from behind, leaps out in front, bursts ... Read More