The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Horton Hears a Load of Hooey

Dear Gentle Reader,

This Jolt you read, this Jolt you read — do you like this Jolt you read?

Whether you do or don’t, you are here, and for this tiny crumb of Who Hash appetizer presented before you get your taste buds on the copious and bursting main courses, let us make note of several pieces on the raging cultural controversy — the disappearing of some six books by the beloved (by many) Dr. Seuss for offenses undefined.

Truth be told, he was quite the liberal in his day, so Your Humble Author does not like him, not in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, not here nor there nor anywhere. Regardless, this stunt has merited responses of incredulity and opprobrium and snorfledoodle as the Things One and Two of America’s Cancel Culture cause their chaos. There are excellent responses by NRniks. Some:

Dan McLaughlin provides the latest of breaking news about Ebay’s Thought Police preventing the resale of the six books in question . . .

Dan had previously taken on the lunacy more broadly. From that piece:

On Beyond Zebra! is perhaps my personal favorite Dr. Seuss book, one I read countless times as a kid and countless more to my three children. It takes the exotic-menagerie concept, crosses it with the traditional alphabet book, and asks the question: What if there were more letters in the alphabet, known only to a select, inquisitive few? What if you needed those letters to spell the names of creatures that were truly unique and foreign to most people’s experience? It is a brilliant concept for a children’s book, and it genuinely encourages not only a spirit of openness and adventure and intellectual curiosity, but also a broad-minded way of thinking about language. So far as I can tell, it is “canceled” for a vaguely Arab-looking character on one page, the “Nazzim of Bazzim.”

Recall that one of the charges against Seuss is that his books feature too few non-white people, and you can understand the inherent absurdity of also banning his books for depicting non-white people. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Kyle Smith reminds us of the once-upon-a-not-so-long-ago Piss Christ heady days when lefties were insensitive to sensitivity. From the piece:

So, what changed? The Left used to be against banishing books, banning books, burning books. Now, scarcely a week goes by without some breathtaking new advance in its campaign to bury this or that book in order that the public might never be infected with its ideas. Just six years ago, when Barack Obama was publicly praising Dr. Seuss on March 2, Read Across America Day — a day specifically chosen by the National Education Association to honor Theodor Geisel’s birthday — you would have called me a paranoid wingnut if I had told you that books such as On Beyond Zebra! would soon be yanked from bookshelves across America at the behest of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yesterday, that’s exactly what happened.

The memory of (perhaps) the single most beloved author in America was insulted by having that title and five others pulled as an anti-birthday present and the traditional presidential mention of Dr. Seuss on a day built around his work was absent. It was as if all mentions of George Washington were scrubbed from the official celebration of President’s Day. (That’ll never happen, though. Not until at least 2022.)

And Kevin Williamson responded Seussically. You’ll find his piece here.

Who knows though — maybe from his Lefty Central lair George Soros will see the destruction of the madness he bankrolls and his heart will grow three sizes by our next edition.

Now on with this one. We hope you have brought a ravenous appetite.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

Articles

John Thune and Tom Cotton: Becerra Misleads on His Treatment of Nuns

Alex Baiocco: The Democrats’ New Schemes to Control Political Speech

David Harsanyi: Pelosi’s H.R. 1 Is an Authoritarian Outrage

Mario Loyola: Bipartisan Danger to the Constitution: Expanded Federal Government and Presidency

Ryan Mills: Keystone Pipeline: Rural Montana County Counted on Economic Benefit

Jack Butler: American Moment’s Complaints about Conservatism Are Self-Serving

Joseph Loconte and Samuel Gregg: Future of Conservatism and the Nation Depends on Restoring Faith in American Story

Mark Krikorian: The Human Cost of Open-ish Borders

Steven Camarota: Is Biden Losing the Immigration Debate?

Tobias Hoonhout: The Brothers Cuomo — CNN Misleads Viewers on Interview ‘Rule’

Jimmy Quinn: Trump’s Uyghur-Genocide Recognition Spurs Canada, Netherlands to Act

Rich Lowry: Alzheimer’s Can’t Fully Extinguish the Human Personality

Tim Kelleher: Staten Island Boyhood: Marvelous, Melancholy Memories

Cameron Hilditch: Parton and Progressives — Leave Dolly Alone

Andre Archie: Here’s Why the Classics Are Worth Studying

Joseph Loconte and Nile Gardiner: Churchill and the Cold War: 75th Anniversary of His ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech

Capital Matters

Joni Ernst and Tom Schatz go whole hog: Budget Earmarks: Corrupt, Costly, and Inequitable

Benjamin Zycher pulls the plug on idiocy: Electric Vehicles: Mandates Push to Consumers Who Don’t Want Them

Brad Palumbo says oh mama: Why a $15 Minimum Wage Will Hit Parents the Hardest

Andrew Stuttaford shops in the nag aisle: Socially Responsible Investing a Tesco Supermarkets — Policing Your Plate

Lights. Camera. Review!

Kyle Smith looks at Henry’s daughter through the crosshairs: Jane Fonda’s Vietnam Actions Were Worse Than You Think

More Kyle, who goes underground: The Truffle Hunters Explores Strange Subculture

Armond White has both open: Keep An Eye Out Examines Social and TV Habits

More Armond, who’s not buying what they’re selling: United States vs. Billie Holiday Is a Salacious BLM Scam

Podcastapalooza

Capital Record Episode 7: David talks taxes with Arthur Laffer.

The Editors Episode 307: Rich, MBD, Jim G and Maddy discuss cancelling Cuomo.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen Episode 302: Charlie and Kevin reach into the grab bag.

The McCarthy Report Episode 118: Andy and Charlie discuss Merrick Garland as Attorney General.

The Great Books Episode 169: John Miller and Matthew Continetti discuss Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein.

The Bookmonger Episode 341: JJM and C.J. Box discuss his novel, Dark Sky.

Political Beats Episode 92: Mark Hemingway joins Scott “Spinmaster” Betram and Jeff “33 1/3 RPM” Blehar to talk Nirvana.

Radio Free California Episode 162: David and Will spotlight Stanford lefties.

The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast Episode 57: VDH discusses COVID’s neutron-bomb effect and lefties efforts to de-cable the Right.

HEAPING PLATES OF GREEN EGGS, HAM, AND SO MUCH MORE

A Gajillion Suggestions of Conservative Wisdom and Provocation

1. No, say senators John Thune and Tom Cotton — Biden HHS nominee Xavier Becerra is fibbing about his nun-hate. From the piece:

A number of senators asked Becerra about this at his confirmation hearings. “I’ve never sued any affiliation of nuns,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “My actions have always been directed at the federal agencies.”

His misleading answer ignores the basic truth: Becerra took legal action for years intended to strong-arm Catholic nuns and others into complying with a federal contraceptive policy that violates their religious beliefs.

It’s a matter of public record that cannot be erased, and it’s just one example of Becerra taking religious liberty and freedom of conscience to court.

He vigorously defended a California law that targeted pro-life pregnancy centers and forced them to advertise abortions, arguing it all the way to the Supreme Court, which overturned the law because it violated the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.

2. When it comes to controlling political speech, Alex Baiocco knows that Democrats never stop scheming. From the piece:

Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to get us halfway there. H.R. 1 (S.1 in the Senate), takes aim at your “outside” voice, which Biden wants to silence. The bill also demonstrates how efforts to silence independent groups won’t stop at speech urging fellow Americans to vote for or against candidates. H.R. 1’s provisions for “Stopping Super PAC–Candidate Coordination” reach far beyond super PACs and would capture speech that has nothing to do with elections. Any organization that discusses policy issues could trigger the sweeping “coordination” standards. Communications about legislation made routinely by advocacy groups today would be illegal under H.R. 1.

Say a civil-rights group publishes an analysis highlighting areas of a criminal-justice reform bill that could be improved. The sponsor of the legislation reaches out to the group with questions. In the course of conversation, the senator mentions that she plans to highlight the bill at an upcoming campaign event. Just like that, this policy discussion has triggered a speech ban. The group has engaged in “communication . . . regarding the candidate’s or committee’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation of resources, fundraising, or other campaign activities.”

As a result, the group is barred from spending a single penny on speech that “promotes or supports” the senator, “regardless of whether the communication expressly advocates the election . . . of a candidate.” This vague language applies to communications made at any time, not just close to an election. Simply urging lawmakers to “support Senator Jane Doe’s Sentencing Reform Act” could be banned under H.R. 1. If the bill is pending 120 days before a general election with the senator on the ballot, the ban would apply to “a communication which refers to” the senator, even if it is not deemed to promote or support the lawmaker.

3. David Harsanyi catalogues the many foul and authoritarian things to be found in Nancy Pelosi’s election-takeover legislation. From the piece:

Terms such as “voting restrictions” are tantamount to calling traffic laws “driving restrictions.” They are conveniently ominous sounding, leaving room for endless partisan weaponization against existing laws. Unless, that is, Democrats don’t support any “voting restrictions” whatsoever. Which might be the case. Whereas actual “voter suppression” was once maliciously deployed to obstruct the rights of American citizens, the term now basically implicates a Republican failing to personally mail in his illegal immigrant neighbor’s ballot ten days after an election.

Democrats rely on these distorted terms because the vast majority of Americans support some basic voter-integrity laws. Take, for instance, Chait’s assertion that Pence wants to “restrict the franchise with strict photo-ID requirements, limits on early and mail voting, and so on.”

“Strict” does a lot of heavy lifting here. As far as I can tell, 80 percent of Americans support photo-ID laws. Now, we can disagree in good faith about the effects of forcing Americans to get a photo identification before helping decide the fate of the nation, but requiring a citizen to prove his identity falls well short of any definition of “authoritarian.” Or, if it is, then nearly every Western European country admired by the Left should be deemed an autocratic state.

4. Mario Loyola sees the threats posed to the Constitution by progressives who claim to be worried about democratic norms. From the piece:

Hence, a recent article by Jonathan Rauch, “The 5 Trump Amendments to the Constitution,” is worth considering carefully, as representative of the hypertrophied criticism of Trump and the atrophied criticism of Rauch’s own side. In it, Rauch worries that “The 45th president has profoundly altered our system of government.” He cites five examples, all of which miss the mark.

The first of Trump’s informal constitutional “amendments,” Rauch argues, is that henceforth presidents will not be removed from office for high crimes or misdemeanors “should a partisan minority of the Senate choose to protect him.” A moment’s reflection suffices to see that this has always been true. The Senate “trial,” which requires a two-thirds majority for removal, is basically a dressed-up vote of “no confidence” among the president’s party in the Senate, “high crimes and misdemeanors” having whatever meaning Congress chooses to give the phrase. Senate Republicans voted against removing Trump the first time around not because they are suddenly willing to ignore any high crimes or misdemeanors, but because the Democrats didn’t prove much of anything in the end, as I chronicled at length in The Atlantic a year ago.

Democrats were so convinced of the case against Trump — even before hearing the evidence — that they failed to notice the weakness of the case. The charges against Trump, Rauch tells us, “seemed as serious as the Watergate shenanigans that forced Nixon from office,” but that is simply not true. The charges against Nixon were so explosive that Republicans at first simply didn’t believe them. And when the smoking gun finally emerged, they abandoned him in droves — despite the fact that Nixon was vastly more popular among the Senate Republicans of his day than Trump ever was in ours. The charges against Trump were much more like the charges against Clinton, in that nobody was surprised by them and the president’s party didn’t much care, the main difference being that the charges against Trump didn’t even allege a violation of federal law.

5. Ryan Mills reports on how Biden’s Keystone-killing has gut-punched a rural Montana community. From the piece:

It would have been a particular boon to McCone County. There already are more than 3,900 miles of oil pipeline crisscrossing the state of Montana, but not through McCone. Those pipelines can be huge tax revenue generators for otherwise small, rural communities.

Today, the taxable value of McCone County property is about $7.7 million, with revenues of about $4 million, said Crockett, the county treasurer. According to Department of Revenue estimates from 2012, the pipeline alone was expected to generate $22.1 million in annual tax revenue for McCone County. No one knew for sure how much it would actually bring in, but Crockett said she was optimistic the county’s tax revenues would at the very least double or triple once the pipeline was operating, though there was a real chance for much more.

“I was definitely hoping, thinking for that,” she said. “I think the potential was there.”

She pointed to Carter County, Montana, a small, rural county on the state’s southeast border. Carter’s estimated population of 1,252 is smaller than McCone’s. But Carter has eight oil pipelines running through it, and overall taxable value of about $53 million — dwarfing McCone. About $49 million of that, or 92 percent, is generated by pipelines, the county treasurer said.

With the county’s oil money, Carter has built a new grade school, a new hospital building, upgraded the county’s airport, improved roads and bridges and upped pay for the county’s workforce without placing a significant additional burden on taxpayers.

6. Jack Butler has a thing or two to say about American Moment. From the beginning of the article:

Conservatives have long railed against the D.C. Swamp. They are largely right to do so: Being the home of the federal government, Washington does not merely play host to the ugliness and corruption of national politics, but now also supports an entire economy of nonprofits, lobbyists, contractors, media outlets, and other entities whose dealings and doings naturally invite suspicion. Such suspicion grows as the D.C. area itself grows in wealth, and in power over the lives of other Americans, transforming into an interest in favor of its own expansion.

But if you believe the people behind the new organization American Moment, the main problem with the Swamp is simply that the wrong people have been in charge. In case you were wondering, they think they are the right people. “Across time, every society has had an elite — the select group of people whose actions, words, and decisions decisively impact the common good,” Saurabh Sharma, Nick Solheim, and Jake Mercier, the group’s co-founders, write in The American Conservative. The implication being: Why not us? They claim to have been for years “frustrated by the lack of organizations in the conservative movement” discussing the ideas and cultivating the talent they think we need, and hope “to not only identify and educate, but also to credential the young, civically-minded people who will meet the significant challenges of this American Moment.” A look at this nascent group’s public statements, however, reveals not only an incoherent logic behind its animating concerns, but also a broader, worrying aspiration simply to become one of D.C.’s defective institutions.

7. Joseph Loconte and Samuel Gregg argue that America’s future depends on conservatives uniting. From the piece:

In the midst of all this, we now face significant rifts within the conservative movement itself. While these divisions began to emerge at the end of the Cold War, they were deepened in the 9/11 era by the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Economic globalization, the Great Recession, and failure to enforce immigration laws have sparked intense arguments about capitalism and free trade. The abuse of judicial power — by which the Supreme Court has effectively manufactured abortion on demand, redefined marriage, and reimagined sex and gender — has caused many social conservatives to become disillusioned with politics altogether.

Some conservatives have even rejected key propositions of the American Founding, especially those articulated by moderate Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Montesquieu, and William Blackstone. They complain that the emphasis on individual liberty — as mediated by the American Founders — poisoned American democracy from the beginning. Other conservatives want an imperial presidency working together with the administrative state.

The conservative movement has never been monolithic. But the emergence of thinking in some conservative circles that rejects the bedrock propositions of the American experiment shouldn’t be merely lamented; it must be strenuously opposed. A unified conservative movement cannot be forged around old labels; the pull of nostalgia must be resisted. Nevertheless, we can draw lessons from recent history. As Winston Churchill once put it, “the future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.”

8. Mark Krikorian says there are horrible human costs to Joe Biden’s making America’s southern border sorta-open. From the article:

A horrific crash happened Tuesday in southern California when an SUV pulled out in front of a truck and got T-boned. Crashes happen every day, of course. What makes this one especially notable is that 25 people were in the SUVtwenty-five people in a Ford Expedition, adults and children, 13 of whom were killed. Most of the dead were Mexicans. The driver was, in all likelihood, smuggling illegal aliens who had infiltrated the border about 15 miles to the south, though it’s under investigation.

Not everything is someone’s fault, but this is. Biden’s semi-open-borders policy is enticing migrants to infiltrate the borders while keeping some border enforcement in place. The inevitable result is tragedies like this.

Alien smuggling is a nasty business. Doctors Without Borders reports that two-thirds of migrants coming up through Mexico become victims of violence, including one-third of women who are sexually assaulted. Once across the border, illegal immigrants are often confined to stash houses while smugglers seek to extort more money from their relatives. And, of course, aliens die in crashes as smugglers try to elude capture.

9. On immigration, Steven Camarota says the poll numbers are not looking too good for Joe Biden. From the piece:

This huge decline in support for the DREAM Act is perhaps the most difficult to explain because it is hard to find any stories in the mainstream media that mention the cost of the bill, even though CBO estimated the net fiscal impact in 2017 and again 2019 and both times found it would create a large net fiscal drain. Moreover, virtually every story on the “Dreamer” population portrays them in a very sympathetic light. Yet the public has become dramatically less inclined to give them legal status, perhaps because they increasingly sense that the Dreamers are being used as props to secure a much larger amnesty that covers all illegal immigrants.

There are other questions in the Rasmussen immigration series, some dealing with the number of legal immigrants who should be allowed into the country, and others asking about guest workers, chain migration, and immigration-induced population growth. While it is not the case for all of the questions, the results generally show that the public wishes to see more enforcement and greater limits.

Of course, no survey is definitive, and none flawlessly captures public attitudes about a complex topic such as immigration. The 2016 and 2020 elections were stark reminders that our ability to measure public sentiment with polling is far from perfect. But by asking the same ten question for more than a year, Rasmussen has captured a real trend in public opinion that single-shot polls cannot.

10. The Chris and Andy Show have made a mockery of CNN’s hypocrites, reports Tobias Hoonhout. From the beginning of the piece:

As Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for allegedly sexually harassing at least three women, CNN has fallen back on a 2013 “rule” that purportedly prevents the younger Cuomo from “interviewing and covering his brother” — a rule that was implicitly and explicitly ignored for years.

On Monday, Chris Cuomo opened his primetime show by conceding that he is “obviously” unable to cover the accusations leveled at the governor “because he is my brother” — a sentiment he elaborated upon during his Tuesday radio show. While the explanation seems to contradict the governor’s near-nightly appearances on his brother’s show last year, CNN has explained that those interviews, conducted in the early days of the COVID crisis, represented a temporary exception to a longstanding policy.

Last month, as Andrew Cuomo was facing more questions about his state’s handling of COVID in New York nursing homes, the network explained to Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple that the short-lived exception had elapsed right around the time the news cycle turned against the governor.

11. The atrocities wrought by Communist China, says Jimmy Quinn, may finally be getting some deserved responses. From the beginning of the piece:

What will it take to get the world to recognize and account for the Chinese Communist Party’s mass atrocities?

America’s example, it seems.

Eight days ago, Canada became the second country to recognize the CCP’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as genocide following a vote of its parliament. On Thursday, just three days later, the Netherlands became the third after a vote in its parliament. Perhaps the political support for those votes would have been there without the Trump administration’s eleventh-hour designation of Beijing’s anti-Uyghur campaign as a genocide in January. But it’s increasingly clear that that decision — reportedly made by then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo over the objections of the career officials on his legal team, and later endorsed by his successor Antony Blinken — has made all the difference in spurring more international action.

At least, that’s what Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, the Dutch member of parliament who authored the resolution that passed on Thursday, told National Review. His party had been following the developments out of China’s Western Xinjiang region for months, proposing legislation to call for various sanctions on those responsible. “When the U.S. and Canada moved, it made sense to follow suit,” Sjoerdsma said in a message the night of the vote.

12. Rich Lowry remembers his late mom and the Alzheimer affliction that could not overcome an ember of the person. From the piece:

Toward the end, when things were bleakest, my mom would still shine through the shroud of the disease. If she talked, it was always incoherently, but I could see her making points the way she always had. She might chuckle softly at a mention of my brother. Even when I couldn’t get anything else out of her, she’d hum, to patriotic songs, to hymns, to “Ode to Joy.”

No matter how bad it got, you’d see grace notes in the incredible love showered on her and others by the staff of the facility caring for her. Or another resident would do something amusing or touching.

I remember an otherwise despairing visit, when another lady sat down randomly besides us. I said I liked the stuffed dog she had in a basket on her walker. She said he was a good boy, began to pet him, and then kissed him a couple times lovingly on the snout. It was so sweet, I was moved to tears.

The last time I visited my mom, days before she took to her death bed, I badgered her, as I often did, to try to get a reaction out of her: “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?”

Sometimes she wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes you might notice her trying to reply. This time, she got out an unmistakable, “yep.”

13. This wondrous piece by Tim Kelleher about growing up in Staten Island will kindle memories of all, no matter where your childhood was spent. From the piece:

When it comes to that sense of smells, one is pervasive enough to be the olfactory canvas of my youth. Laugh if you want, but it’s bubblegum: attar of schoolyard and street. Not just any kind either, for this, as did so many things, came in a pair of good options. In this case, Bazooka and Double Bubble. A choice was required; a kind of commitment that helped define you: Converse or Keds; Giants or Jets; North Shore or South.

The soundtrack of those years was a familiar mix: the Beatles, Hendrix, the Jackson 5, and lots of gold in between. But there was another, more elemental, backdrop; a blue-collar orchestra of iron and steel, whose music was the clanging hooks of docking ships, the rattling roar of anchor chain, the bells of buoys, gently bobbing, on dark green harbor swells.

There was the wheezing of garbage trucks, hydraulic mastodons, prompted forward by tooth-whistle to the next group of cans. Sometimes that whistle came from where we hid, causing the truck to advance, and a crewman to dump half the can onto the street. For some reason, they never seemed to find that as hilarious as we did.

There were referee whistles, that trilled the frozen air of Travis Field, and hothouse hoops at Port Richmond‘s C.Y.O. Sirens of every kind, at every hour, that held the day together like wire round the bales of The Advance, tossed from trucks, then delivered from yellow sacks slung grimy across our shoulders.

14. Too many fixate on Dolly Parton’s front. Cameron Hilditch has her back. From the piece:

When then asked the gotcha question of the day about the Black Lives Matter movement, Dolly said, “of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” Grady’s quite incredible analysis of Dolly’s response concludes that her “actual thoughts on the antebellum nostalgia in which the original attraction trafficked she kept to herself.” Again, you’d think that “of course Black lives matter” weighs pretty heavily against allegations — or even suspicions — of white supremacist “antebelleum nostalgia,” but not in Grady’s eyes.

This progressive politicization of existence is so comprehensive that it often leaves no room for us to shrug our shoulders at the politics of others. This is deeply unfortunate. In a healthy society, we’d only ask about the politics of our neighbors when they, in turn, are asking for our vote. But if to be is to be political, as it is for so many today, then to admire someone is to admire their politics. This is why Dolly Parton so unnerves the politically intoxicated. They’re convinced that the most important thing about her isn’t her lyrics or her music or her theme parks or even her wardrobe, but rather the hidden “R” or “D” that she hides behind the rhinestone veil of her public image. Until they can draw back that veil and make sure once and for all that there isn’t a conservative hiding behind it, these people will never be able to relax and enjoy the music. They’d rather spend their days writing content-free slander about the supposedly sinister silence of apolitical icons. What a way to make a living.

15. The classics are worth studying, and Andre Archie knows why. From the beginning of the piece:

Rachel Poser’s recent New York Times profile of Princeton classicist Dan-el Padilla Peralta comes across as both glib and ominous. Referring to Padilla’s mission, the headline of the piece reads: “He Wants to Save Classics from Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?” The Herculean task Padilla has in mind is convincing other classicists to reject the privileged position given to Greece and Rome within the field. Why? Because he believes that classics as a discipline has played and continues to play an outsize role in the construction of whiteness and, thus, the perpetuation of systemic racism.

The immediate impulse of those who, like myself, are committed to helping others appreciate the beauty and profundity of the classical world is to mount a vigorous defense of Western civilization. Though such a response is commendable, it is incommensurate with the task at hand. But how does one defend Western civilization, that 2,500-year-old institution of interlocking ideas, concepts, and procedures? The mere fact that we, the citizens of the United States of America, are heirs to the immense intellectual and cultural treasures of ancient Greece and Rome creates a prima facie case that these two ancient civilizations deserve their privileged position in the West. From the codified curricula of the trivium and quadrivium to the rigors of philosophy and philosophical expression to Beethoven, Dave Brubeck, and Miles Davis to the rule of law, democracy, the city, abolitionism, and property rights, the legacy of the classical world never ceases to amaze.

The testaments of those who have been seduced by the field’s siren song speak volumes about the power of that legacy, and might be the best way to counter Padilla’s arguments. Ironically, Padilla himself has spoken positively about his initial encounter with classical ideas. He recalls in the Times profile that as a young, poor, bookish immigrant from the Dominican Republic, in a filthy shelter in New York’s Chinatown he serendipitously found a book entitled How People Lived in Ancient Greece and Rome. As he began to dig deeper into the field, Poser writes, he was “overwhelmed by the emotive power of classical texts” and “captivated by the sting of Greek philosophy, the heat and action of epic.” Absent from these recollections of his entry into the field is any trace of racial animus or bitterness. The ancient Greeks and Romans initially appealed to him not because he was a poor, black immigrant, but because he was an intellectually curious human being.

16. On its 75th Anniversary, the Joseph Loconte and Nile Gardiner believe Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech merits reflection. From the article:

Left-leaning historians blame Churchill’s address as the catalyst for the Cold War. Eleanor Roosevelt, carrying on the political legacy of her dead husband, was aghast, fearing that Churchill’s message would compromise the peacekeeping mission of the newly created United Nations. The liberal press denounced the talk as “poisonous” and Churchill as a “warmonger.”

A truly noxious speech, however, had been delivered by Joseph Stalin just a few weeks earlier to Communist Party apparatchiks in Moscow. Largely forgotten today, it did about as much to expose the unbridgeable divide between East and West as Churchill’s peroration.

“It would be wrong to think that the Second World War broke out accidentally,” Stalin began. “As a matter of fact, the war broke out as the inevitable result of the development of world economic and political forces on the basis of present-day monopolistic capitalism.” Thus, Stalin repeated Marx’s assault on capitalism for distributing resources unequally. He parroted Lenin’s claim that greedy capitalist states inevitably went to war with one another. Peace was possible, he suggested, but only after communism had triumphed around the globe. The message was clear: The historic contest between socialism and democratic capitalism was at a high-water mark.

Capital Matters

1. Joni Ernst and Tom Schatz lay a beating on budget earmarks. From the article:

Earmarking — by design — will never be transparent. Unlike the federal grant-making process, there is no standard for competition for the grants, and taxpayers have no ability to examine how the money was doled out. Earmarking is quite literally decided in secret. More insidiously, decisions about who gets earmarks and who doesn’t are usually treated as a form of political reward for the well-connected or as punishment for those who don’t follow the party line.

Convicted super lobbyist Jack Abramoff affectionately referred to it as the congressional “favor factory.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the return of earmarks has been most celebrated by Washington lobbyists who know the practice will be a boon to their business.

Supporters of earmarks — a.k.a., “earmarxists” — argue that they represent a small amount of money. According to Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) Congressional Pig Book, the most spent on earmarks in one year was $29 billion, which represented 1 percent of total discretionary spending. Only in Washington, D.C., would someone try to convince you with a straight face that $29 billion is a small amount of money. This diverts from the true reason that members of Congress want to restore earmarks: power and control.

2. Minnesota is joining the efforts — laced with nefarious consequences — to force electric vehicle on a populace not wanting them. From the beginning of the piece:

Electric vehicles are all the rage, in particular among public officials who do not have to face voters. Not so much among consumers, who know their individual needs and strive to make purchase decisions that satisfy them. These realities explain why the proponents of policies forcing ever more EVs upon the market prefer to implement such requirements in ways insulated from democratic accountability.

That is an accurate summary of the current political campaign in Minnesota to expand by regulatory fiat the market for EVs, by requiring that auto dealers in the state sell a certain number of them or face a penalty, moving the state toward California’s “zero emissions” automotive standard. The proposed mandate would engender massive dislocation and increased costs in the state’s transportation and agricultural sectors, adverse effects that would be borne by virtually every resident in the state. It would also create a series of large and adverse environmental impacts that the proponents of this change prefer not to discuss. Finally, it is easy to suspect that one key objective behind the mandate is to force a shift of population and economic activity away from rural, exurban, and suburban regions in the state toward urban areas, thus creating a massive transfer of wealth from residents, business owners, and workers in the former regions toward those in the latter.

3. Don’t Do Me No Favor: Brad Palumbo says n increase in the hourly minimum wage to $15 will actually hit parents the hardest. From the piece:

For example, research shows that McDonald’s often responds to increases in the minimum wage not by slashing jobs — it’s more often small businesses that have to do that — but by passing on nearly all on the costs to consumers via price increases. But this phenomenon isn’t limited to industries such as fast food. Indeed, a new study reveals that a $15 minimum-wage would cause similar price increases in a crucial expense for many working families: child care.

Finding affordable child care is already a struggle for millions of Americans: It’s a consistent problem that sucks up huge chunks of limited household budgets and sometimes limits the ability of parents to work. According to Child Care Aware of America, child care costs an average of $9,100 to $9,600 per year nationwide, albeit with significant variations across different states and ages.

Many families spend from 10 to 30 percent of their income on childcare alone.

Child care is already difficult to afford, but would become much more so if the “Fight for $15” were successful, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Grezler. In a new study, Grezler concludes that because child care is a labor-intensive industry in which the hourly median wage is only $11.65, a $15 federal minimum wage will impose a massive increase in labor costs on child-care providers. The nature of this business means that employers are unable to do much about the size of their workforce in response to increased labor costs. Instead, providers will respond with massive price hikes.

4. Just what you needed, says Andrew Stuttaford — the Tesco grocery chain, fulfilling of the desires of its “socially responsible investing” directors, now plays at Fat Police. From the piece:

In the past, such concerns might have been dismissed as those of a tiny fringe. There have long been investors who would take a small (frequently very small) position in a company and then used that stake as an admission ticket to the annual general meeting, where, by shareholder resolution or even a speech from the floor, they would make their political or sociopolitical case. It normally fell on deaf ears. Most shareholders were interested in investment return, and that was all.

That was then. More and more large investment firms are now adopting a form of SRI known as ESG. This involves analyzing how portfolio companies (or potential portfolio companies) measure up against certain environmental (“E”), social (“S”), and governance (“G”) benchmarks. Where such asset-management businesses differ from an old-style socially conscious investor — a nun, say, speaking at an AGM — other than in their size, is in their claim that a socially responsible approach will not come at the expense of performance. On the contrary, they maintain that they will do well by doing what is (allegedly) good, in part (allegedly) because portfolios run on this basis will be less risky than their more traditionally managed equivalents.

Whether that is truly so is disputed — if not as disputed as it should be — but there’s no doubt that the influence of such investors on corporate behavior is growing. That is a function not only of the cash (and voting power) that they have at their disposal, but also because theirs are arguments to which C-suites are increasingly susceptible, not least because stakeholder capitalism offers a way to dodge the tougher discipline of having to put shareholder return first.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Golden Globe-awardee Hanoi Jane, says Kyle Smith, was a nasty piece of work. From the beginning of the reflection:

Back around the time Jane Fonda was giving aid and comfort to America’s Communist enemies in North Vietnam, yukking it up with anti-aircraft gunners who shot down our troops — I wonder if there are any laws against that sort of thing — she also headlined an anti-U.S.O. tour. Despising the actual U.S.O. for its policy of giving aid and comfort to American troops, Fonda went on the road with a hippie rebuttal to bolster the chances of the North Vietnamese Stalinists who, after the war turned out the way she wanted it to, forced 300,000 people into prison camps for reeducation. Fonda’s tour was called “F.T.A.,” and in the opening moments of the documentary of the same name, you can see her on stage with her pal and Klute co-star Donald Sutherland screaming out what it stood for: “F*** the Army.”

Filmed in 1971, the film F.T.A. went over like a rat in the punch bowl when it was released in 1972. It was yanked from theaters and most copies were destroyed; seldom has it been seen since. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recently decided to spend some of its Golden Globes money on restoring the film so we can all take a look at it with fresh eyes (it is being released in virtual cinemas). So how does Jane Fonda, who was just honored with a lifetime achievement award by the HFPA, look half a century later? Exactly the same: like a brainless simp for Team Communism. Those who tend to dismiss Hollywood stars as merely stupid, not evil, can consider the other side of that.

2. Kyle Encore: He’s loving The Truffle Hunters. From the review:

A slight, plotless, but beguiling documentary, The Truffle Hunters comprises a gallery of charming portraits of codgers searching for the magical places where truffles hide beneath the soil in the woods of the Piedmont region of Italy. You may notice that “grams,” a word frequently heard in the film, gradually starts to take on a more North American resonance. The strange truffle-centric culture resembles a gourmand version of a television drama about big-time drug dealers. As in The Wire, the pathetic grunts who work at the (literal) ground level barely get by (and those who do the most critical work of all — the dogs — get paid nothing). Grand middlemen in flashy clothes are the ones who seem to be getting rich from the truffle trade, and you know someone is dealing with a true kingpin when he is heard switching to another language on the phone: in this case it’s French, the language of haute cuisine, instead of Spanish. Men meet in dimly lit archways to haggle over prices, and there’s a classic let’s-meet-by-the-headlights-of-this-parked car tableau, familiar from many a chilling episode of Breaking Bad. Unreliable people make slippery statements like, “Make me a good offer and they’re yours. But I promised them to someone else.”

3. Armond White is digging Quentin Dupieux’s new farce, Keep an Eye Out. From the review:

Dupieux’s farce provides what’s missing from this “golden age of TV” and insipid streaming content. Keep An Eye Out — the American title proves a watch-word — is a cognitive farce in which we’re constantly required to rethink the circumstances before us. TV content merely wants to sustain our attention between advertisements, stringing us along on obvious jokes and predictable outrages. Dupieux daringly suspends time: Fugain notices clock faces that race ahead. The emotional gamesmanship between Fugain and Buron, two kinds of egotists, raises common-man suspicions about political authority (“don’t be rude,” the cop warns the citizen). These time shifts become the occasion for visually dynamic sketch scenes as in Christophe Honoré’s On a Magical Night and Alain Resnais’s still-astonishing art-house classic Last Year at Marienbad.

Unlike many contemporary content-makers, Dupieux clearly knows his stuff, resembling cinema’s other, most famous Quentin. These contemporaries share a generational juvenile fascination with violence and gross incidents. But Dupieux’s characters reveal idiosyncrasies that are original and recognizable rather than borrowed from movie archetypes. One particular moment that interrupts Dupieux’s insane, unnerving absurdism — clearly nodding to Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie — is so audacious, so bravura, it justifies itself.

4. Armond Encore: Our intrepid critic goes after United States vs. Billie Holiday for retroactive history. From the beginning of the review:

The centerpiece of The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a fantasy-memory sequence envisioning the compulsions behind jazz singer Holiday’s legendary heroin addiction. Dusky figures spread across a fetid den lapse into extreme emotional states — from bewilderment to tumescence to horror and anxious, erotic oblivion. It is the most lavishly decadent depiction of Negro salaciousness ever put on screen. Director Lee Daniels conjures this outlandish diorama so that it crosses Jacob Lawrence with a Cardi B music video, but with a raucous Rudy Ray Moore, Redd Foxx vibe.

We see Holiday (played by Andra Day) seduce her FBI agent-stalker, James Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), into sharing the needle. He sinks into a narcotic reverie in which ten-year-old Billie appears, ushering his altered consciousness into the very busy brothel where her prostitute mother encourages Billie to earn to her keep. This sequence, scored to The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson singing “The Devil & I Got Up to Dance a Slow Dance,” expands into agent Fletcher joining Holiday’s touring band of foul-mouthed, bodacious renegades on Southern dates: Billie reemerges in the heroin haze wearing a yellow floral-print dress with fringe skirt and an open leg slit. Her glam image contrasts with her panic when witnessing a lynching aftermath amid the wails of grieving black children. It’s all a surreal, sensation-loaded lead-up to Holiday and Fletcher copulating. Then Holiday appears on stage defiantly performing the song “Strange Fruit.”

This wildly extended song intro goes to the film’s assertion that “Strange Fruit,” from 1937, was an objet d’art weapon that the FBI feared would incite unrest, and so the agency hounded and intimidated Holiday for her political expression. The stoned, nightmare sequence clearly comes from the imagination of someone safe, successful, and unafraid — but who follows today’s seditious fashion. Reverse the film’s title and grasp Daniels’s objective: He uses the effigy of Billie Holiday against the United States. Daniels waves a 1619 Project rainbow flag for blacks who, like Holiday, are always under siege.

And Now Presenting a Quartet of Conservative Commentaries from the New Issue of Your Favorite Fortnightly

As is the custom, we serve up to you four selections from the new issue (March 22, 2021 for those keeping score) that are guaranteed to be of keen interest. Dig in!

1. Dan McLaughlin makes the case for certain types of elections reform. From the essay:

A current, accurate list of registered, eligible voters is the foundation of a one-man, one-vote system. Adding names as people register is only the start. States also need to determine which registrations belong to living, eligible voters, and then they need to keep the lists up to date. As anyone who has tried to maintain a mailing list can attest, this is a constant struggle. People move, and people die. Even the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice admits on its website, “Voter list maintenance ensures accurate rolls and efficient election administration.”

Best practices require three steps. First, verify a voter’s identity and eligibility when he first registers. Online registration should be limited to voters who already have a driver’s license or other strong form of state identity, so that they are pre-verified in the system. Democratic proposals for automatic registration would undermine the reliability of lists, both by removing the voter’s self-verification from the process and by raising the number of voters who don’t even know they are registered in multiple jurisdictions. Getting voters into the habit of civic engagement by having them register themselves is good citizenship as well as good security.

Second, states must continuously update their voter lists. Democrats cast this process as “purges” of “voters,” but it is really about eliminating the names of former voters who have either died or moved away. Congress should let states remove former voters more quickly; states should use more-pinpointed methods to identify them. States could upgrade in two ways: more-regular interstate communication to identify voters who move, die, or are convicted of felonies; and the use of commercial databases that often have better information than the Postal Service’s National Change of Address system. Services that track people for marketing, credit scoring, or debt collection are often a step ahead of the government. They can help cull the lists without crossing off the names of active voters.

Third, names must be checked against the rolls when people vote. In-person voters can present identification, as is the law in many states. Democrats bitterly resist voter ID, but it is a modest proposal that’s extremely popular across party lines, and lawsuits to stop it have persistently failed to present evidence that voters were unable to have their votes counted. The best states offer free IDs to people without driver’s licenses.

2. Marian Tupy takes on the Biden Administration’s push for income equality. From the essay:

If it can’t be shown that income inequality reduces people’s well-being in advanced countries, such as the United States, where does the new administration’s emphasis on income inequality come from? To be fair, plenty of Democrats (and some Republicans) seem genuinely concerned that great wealth differences can pervert the democratic process and skew economic policies in favor of the super-rich. On that point, it is useful to look at some pertinent numbers.

To start with, it is surely reasonable to expect the super-rich to give their financial support to candidates promising to decrease the former’s tax burden. Yet that’s not what happened in the 2020 presidential campaign. Forbes noted that for every Trump-supporting billionaire (there were 133 in total), Biden was supported by 1.73 billionaires (230 in total). And, according to the Federal Election Commission’s year-end numbers, the Biden campaign managed to raise $1.074 billion while the Trump campaign managed to raise “only” $812 million. The super-rich, in other words, tended to favor a candidate explicitly promising to make them financially worse off.

Moreover, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted that U.S. income taxes are among the most progressive in the world. The latest data from the Tax Foundation show that the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent of earners rose from 33.2 percent in 2001 to 40.1 percent in 2018 (an all-time high that was reached after the Trump tax reform). In 2018, according to the foundation’s summary for that year, the “top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent),” and “the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 25.4 percent average individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.4 percent).”

The supposedly outsized influence of the super-rich on U.S. electoral politics, in other words, appears to have failed to deliver meaningful tax relief for the super-rich under recent Republican and Democratic administrations alike. That is partly why, when it comes to taxpayer-funded social spending (i.e., on health, old age, disability, family, the active labor market, unemployment, and housing), the United States is no laggard. U.S. social spending in 2019, for example, amounted to 18.7 percent of GDP — more than the figure in Australia (16.7 percent), Iceland (17.4 percent), Canada (18 percent), and the Netherlands (16.1 percent), and only a little less than the OECD country average (20 percent).

3. Heather Wilhelm, taking on the “Happy Warrior” duties, tries to get a grip on vengeful Zoomers. From the piece:

Anyway, there’s an important lesson here: Generation Z should be embarrassed, and not just because they’ve been nicknamed the “Zoomers.” Seriously, guys? This is your great rebellion? Reverting to jeans that were popular in the ’80s and attempting to cancel certain arbitrary emojis and shifting your part one inch over in your hair? Say what you will about the Boomers in the Sixties, but at least they had some originality. Just search “skinny jeans” in the New York Times, and you’ll find this relevant headline: “Jeans: Skinny Is Out, Baggy In.” It’s a headline from . . . wait for it . . . 1979. Sorry, kids: In mortifying fashion, it’s all been done before.

But here’s where things take a twist, for I have great faith in Generation Z. My children are Zoomers, and even though one of them literally just wandered into my office with his T-shirt stuffed with pillows and wearing broken fake Harry Potter glasses while mysteriously claiming that his name is “Big Chuck,” and while another recently set off the whole-house fire alarm through stealthy and unauthorized usage of our outdoors-only Halloween fog machine because he thought his bedroom would “look really cool shrouded in mist,” I think they’ll do pretty well in life.

I also employ several impressive and delightful Gen Z babysitters to whom I would be comfortable promptly handing a Senate seat or the nuclear football or an editorial position at the New York Times. Heck, now that I think about it, I would also hand my eight-year-old an editorial position at the New York Times, as it would probably be a wildly dramatic improvement over what they’re working with now.

4. Kevin Williamson considers the real cause behind the deadly blackouts in Texas. From the piece:

famously independent electric grid, which is not connected to neighboring grids in such a way as to allow the easy importation of out-of-state power. Distribution was not the critical failure in Texas — generation was. The problem with the grid was that there was not enough power coming into it. But even if the Texas grid had been connected to its neighbors, they were experiencing similar conditions and had little or no excess power to sell, with some experiencing blackouts of their own. The problem with Texas’s grid wasn’t inadequate distribution infrastructure — it was that demand was threatening to overwhelm supply in such a way and to such a degree as to cause massive, long-lasting damage to equipment. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid operator, says blackouts were imposed because the state was minutes, perhaps seconds, away from an even more drastic catastrophe that could have interrupted the supply of electricity for months. Unable to match supply to demand, the grid operator reduced demand by cutting consumers off. But they were not able to execute their plan for “rolling” blackouts — instead of being without juice for 45 minutes at a stretch, many Texans were in the dark for 45 hours or more. Some of them died.

What actually went wrong in Texas is that much of the equipment that businesses and quasi-public agencies were relying on to counteract the unusual weather was not itself able to withstand that weather. The failure was not limited to a single class of operations: Power plants went offline, but so did gas producers and pipelines. Natural-gas wellheads and processing equipment froze up; the water that comes up out of the ground with natural gas turned into ice in connector pipes; some nuclear and coal power went offline when safety sensors and other equipment malfunctioned in the low temperatures; water pipes feeding steam systems and other facilities froze up. Electricity plants had to reduce output because they were not getting natural gas and other fuels, but much of the equipment used to deliver those fuels is itself electric, meaning that the electricity plants were in effect cutting their own fuel supplies when rolling blackouts were imposed.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on an Arab Revolt — of the Biden administration’s weakness. From the beginning of the piece:

Prominent Arab political analysts and commentators are dumbfounded that the Biden administration has chosen to appease Iran and Islamists instead of working with Washington’s traditional and long-time allies in the Arab world.

In a series of articles published after the release of the US intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many Arab analysts and columnists have warned that the Biden administration was harming US interests in the Middle East.

Some said they saw the decision to release the report as a kind of sequel to the Obama administration’s failed policy of meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

They noted that the Saudi authorities had already punished those involved in the 2018 murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Biden administration, some Arab writers have said, “has adopted a policy of “antagonizing allies while appeasing enemies.”

“The Saudi judiciary has imposed the most severe penalties on the perpetrators of this morally and legally unacceptable act,” wrote Syrian journalist Abduljalil Alsaeid, referring to the murder of Khashoggi. “The Saudi leadership was keen not to politicize this case.”

2. At Law & Liberty, He Who Shall Always Be Read — of course we speak of the great Daniel J. Mahoney — reflects on a new book considering Toqueville and pauperism. From the article:

A careful engagement with Christine Dunn Henderson’s welcome new edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Memoirs on Pauperism and Other Writings, just released by the University of Notre Dame Press, reveals the multiple ways in which the great French historian, social scientist, and political philosopher remains our contemporary. As in all his writings, Tocqueville addresses the promise and peril inherent in the democratic order emerging throughout what he called “the European/Christian world.” But Tocqueville does so with a constant eye on what endures in human nature and the nature of politics in the new democratic dispensation, and that in relation to what is new and what is to be welcomed and feared.

Democracy is thus an equivocal concept for Tocqueville. It is by no means identical with a regime of political liberty although the America of the 1830s that Tocqueville visited and studied revealed that democratic equality could coexist with the full range of political and personal liberties. The “nature” of democracy — equality, just in itself, giving rise to a troubling and illiberal “passion for equality” — could and must be preserved by a precious “art” of liberty marked by local self-government, the art of association, and a vigorous and independent civil society. That was precisely Tocqueville’s noble project, to ‘save’ liberty and human greatness in the emerging democratic world, to bring together democratic justice and a modicum of aristocratic greatness.

Yet, Tocqueville feared that tyranny in the form of both hard and a uniquely democratic soft despotism was a permanent political possibility under conditions of modernity. He was above all a partisan of liberty and human dignity and not of any particular political regime or social form. There lay his distinctiveness as a political philosopher, statesman, and social scientist. He was neither unduly nostalgic for the glories of the Old Regime nor blind to new threats to the integrity of the human soul that would arise in the democracies of the present and future. He believed in democratic justice, in the palpable truth of our common humanity, of human “similarity,” as he often called it. Even the “most profound geniuses of Greece and Rome, the most comprehensive of ancient minds” failed to appreciate “that all members of the human race are by nature similar and equal.” As Tocqueville observes at the beginning of volume II of Democracy in America, it took Jesus Christ coming down to earth for people to fully understand this truth. At the same time, Tocqueville refused to idolize a “democratic” social and political ethic that was always tempted to say adieu to political greatness and to greatness in the human soul. Such is the spiritual core of Tocqueville’s political science, the central themes and emphases that animate his thought.

The great French political thinker not only provided a remarkably accurate description of “democratic man” but wrestled seriously with the problems and tensions inherent in the emerging democratic political and social order. Political philosophy thus met political sociology in a new and penetrating mix, as is evidenced in the volume under review.

3. More Law & Liberty: Scott Yenor breaks out the Enigma Device to translate Social Justice Newspeak. From the beginning of the essay:

Opponents of our new social justice dispensation often find themselves at a rhetorical disadvantage. Social justice advocates desire to replace oppressive “cultural, structural, and personal norms” with a new, more “welcoming culture.” Anyone who opposes this transformation is, by definition, unwelcoming. Who wants to be defined as unwelcoming? The rhetorical disadvantage of dissidents is only compounded by the development of new code words for social justice (like diversity or inclusion). Social justice warriors win battles simply through deploying certain terms, since this language cows and confuses their opponents.

Americans, after all, value diversity, inclusion, and equity. Diversity of faculties and talents produces inequalities — and protecting such diversity was, as Madison writes in Federalist 10, “the first purpose of government.” Inclusion reflects the universality of the rights of man, though certain people would enjoy them sooner and others later as enlightenment spread. Equity is a characteristic of impartial laws, derived from English common law, that protects and recognizes all equally before them; it provides predictable rules and doctrines for settling disputes. Diversity, inclusion, and equity produce inequalities that serve the public good: they reward productivity, expand opportunities for individuals, and provide a basis for stable common life under equal laws.

Our regnant social justice ideology redefines these words, taking advantage of their sweet sounding civic bent. This co-option represents a thoroughly new civic education. Social justice advocates have won no small ground in American political debate by seeming to adhere to the words and ideas of the old civic education, while importing a new, pernicious vision. We must re-train our ears to hear what social justice ideology peddles.

Opponents of this movement can best grasp social justice newspeak through an analysis of its public documents. What follows is based on my analysis of the state of Washington’s 2020 Office of Equity Task Force’s Final Proposal. The same word salad is served everywhere critical race theory is taught — in university task forces (like Boise State’s), in corporate trainings, even in K-12 curriculum.

4. At The College Fix, Sarah Imgrund reports on a professor who didn’t follow the race-explains-everything protocol. From the beginning of the story:

Over the past month, Lehigh University has taken actions to downgrade a video it had originally posted in late January by one of its professors on poverty and race after students on social media denounced the video as supporting racist thought.

Lehigh’s College of Business had asked Frank Gunter, professor of economics at Lehigh, to create a brief video from his recent op-ed “Three Myths About Poverty.” They posted his video on Jan. 28 as part of a series of videos directed at advising the new Biden administration on policy issues.

In his video, titled “3 Myths Concerning Poverty,” Gunter had sought to debunk what he said were three “widely-held myths”: that “poverty is mostly a matter of race,” that it is “a generational curse,” and that “the poor have no agency.”

However, some students judged the video’s content and presentation as racist and took to social media to criticize it as such, leading the College of Business to promptly take the video down.

5. At City Journal, Christopher Rufo exposes the fright of Critical-Race hucksters who reuse to defend their stupidity. From the piece:

This shift in momentum against the new racial orthodoxy, which has now grown beyond America’s borders to England, France, Italy, Hungary, and Brazil, has rattled the American Left. Their first argument against this change is that conservatives are using state power to “cancel wokeness.” New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg recently followed this line, attacking my work “leading the conservative charge against critical race theory,” declaring that the Right wants to ban critical race theory because it is afraid to debate it. This is false, of course. For more than a year, prominent black intellectuals, including John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Wilfred Reilly, and Coleman Hughes have challenged the critical race theorists to debate — and none has accepted. After Goldberg published her column, I called her bluff even further, challenging to “debate any prominent critical race theorist on the floor of the New York Times.” Predictably, none responded, catching the New York Times in a fib and further exposing the critical race theorists’ refusal to submit their ideas to public scrutiny.

The second line of attack, advanced by Goldberg and Acadia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, is that the attempt to regulate critical race theory-based programs is an “attack on free speech.” Goldberg and Sachs are attempting to reclaim the mantle of free speech, but on closer inspection, their case is legally and morally groundless. First, as legal writer Hans Bader points out, the Supreme Court has ruled that states and public schools have the ability to control curricular speech without violating free speech. Furthermore, under the Fourteenth Amendment, states and school districts have an obligation to prevent the creation of a learning environment that promotes hostility toward a certain race or sex. The courts have repeatedly ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment outweighs and limits the First Amendment when it comes to government entities adopting policies and programs that perpetuate racial stereotyping, discrimination, and harassment. Despite Sachs’s hyperventilation about threats to academia (i.e., the public-employment program for new racialist ideology), many legislatures have explicitly allowed the teaching of CRT in university classrooms; it is only forbidden to turn these principles into compelled speech, employee-indoctrination programs, and official state curricula for primary and secondary school students.

The most telling limitation in their argument, however, is that Goldberg and Sachs both refuse to deal with specifics. They present critical race theory as a benign academic discipline that seeks “social justice,” while ignoring the avalanche of reporting, including my own, that suggests that, in practice, CRT-based programs are often hateful, divisive, and filled with falsehoods; they traffic in racial stereotypes, collective guilt, racial segregation, and race-based harassment. The real test for intellectuals on the left is not to defend their ideas as abstractions but to defend the real-world consequences of their ideas.

6. At Commentary, Noah Rothman considers the downside of our downsizing world. From the beginning of the piece:

Everyone’s world got a little bit smaller during the pandemic. For many, it became a lot smaller.

Out of necessity, our varied definitions of what constituted community underwent a rapid revision. Office life disaggregated beyond the point of recognition. Children’s only window to the outside world quickly proved an insufficient replacement for the psychological reinforcements associated with human contact. Suddenly, they demanded much more of our attention. The banal duties of maintaining a household grew more intense as increased stresses were placed on home life. Digitally maintaining relationships with family and friends transformed from a pleasure into an obligation and, eventually, a chore. The outside world had become much scarier almost overnight. So, perhaps naturally, we retreated into ourselves.

But a combination of exhaustion with pandemic-related restrictions and near-miraculous medical innovation are pointing us toward the way out. The end is near, loath as some are to admit it. Many have speculated about whether the conditions we lived through during the plague year will persist after the threat has receded. Some will. Others won’t. But COVID has surely intensified one condition that was with us before the virus, and that is unlikely to disappear: the atomization of everything.

Even before 2020, we were already getting a sense that global interconnectivity is not something the mind finds especially gratifying. When the oxymoronic idea of a “global community” entered the lexicon, the very tools that gave rise to such a concept were steadily pulverizing our shared cultural touchstones into dust. Ratings for live sporting events or entertainment spectacles were collapsing well before the pandemic. Audiences were shrinking, and “influence” had become a derivative of a congregation’s commitment — not its size. The allure of big cities had waned along with the economic incentives for relocating. Enrollment in public schools and institutions of higher learning were declining precipitously. The pandemic didn’t bring about these conditions. It only accelerated existing trends.

Baseballery

This section admits to a love of pre-expansion baseball, of forgotten teams and storied basement dwellers. Let us therefore speak of the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates — with a 42-112 record, one of the worst-ever teams in MLB history. The Bucs’ longest winning streak was . . . two games. It was that kind of year. The pitching staff — aside from the aging righthander, Ted Wilks, who was traded midseason, along with his 5-5 record, to the Cleveland Indians — was a collection of awful records. Among the awfullest (is that a word?): Tall righthander Woody Main was 2-12, Cal Hogue was 1-8, the durable then-rookie Ron Kline (he’d still be pitching in the majors in 1970) was winless against 7 losses, and lanky, baby-faced Jim Waugh boasted a 1-6 record, accentuated by a chubby 6.36 ERA.

Certainly you are curious: Did the quartet ever pitch in the same game? Indeed they did: The setting was Forbes Field, the date was Thursday, August 28th, and before a measly home crowd of 3,561, the Pirates took on the visiting New York Giants, who delivered Pittsburgh a 14-7 beatdown. On the mound for the Giants was southpaw Dave Koslo, who went the distance in an unglamorous performance (11 hits, three walks, and seven runs — six of them earned) to pick up his ninth win of the season.

Waugh started, and by the time he was yanked in the top of the Second, the score stood 5-0. Main, in relief, took the Pirates through the Third Inning, but not before he gave up four hits and two runs. Next up was Kline, who endured one and two-third innings of grief, allowing five more runs on seven hits. The score, after five frames, was 12-1, in favor of the Giants.

Not one of the quartet, rookie James Dunn was called in by manager Billy Meyer (who had been a catcher on the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, which at 36-117 was an even worse team than the ’52 Pirates) to relieve. It would be one of only three career MLB appearances, and Dunn fared well: in two and one-third innings, he allowed no runs, no hits.

But there were more runs to be scored, and in the Eighth Inning, Hogue came in to stink it up further: One hit, following three straight walks, gave the Giants their last two runs of the afternoon. Giving Hogue his due: In the bottom of the frame, he doubled and drove in the Pirates seventh and final run.

It may be an unrivaled afternoon though in Baseball’s annals: to have that many pitchers, with such bad records — a combined 4-33 on the season! — each pitch, and so poorly, in the same contest.

A Dios

Please remember Rich Lowry’s mother, Susan R. Lowry, in your prayers, and also young Jimmy who, if the Lord is merciful, and He is, is now resting in peace.

May the Almighty Grant You and Yours Strength and Wisdom,

Jack Fowler, who sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but also hears the sound of a train, and wishes to be distracted by missives sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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