The Weekend Jolt

National Review

I Say Potato, You Say Pangender

Dear Joltarian,

This enterprise goes live on Friday, one day before it is slung around America and the world via email ether. The Mindful Author wishes he had a link for a piece that, alas, is not published prior to press time. Such linkage is impossible. Still, you are counseled thusly: Saturday, February 27, will be the 13th anniversary of the death of our great founder, William F. Buckley Jr. Somewhere on NRO will be a remembrance of him by Yours Truly. Please be on the lookout.

In these final moments of typing and preparation, the mystic chords of toy memory are filled with the tunes of various Mr. Potato Head commercials. Momma mia, what were these Hasbro jabronis thinking? Were they even thinking, a lost art in the Age of Emoting and Posturing? Maddie Kearns did a swell little peeling and mashing of the idiocy on NRO when the story broke, which she updated given the ensuing and quick corporate-backpedaling.

It’s a retreat though. It’s not a declaration of defeat. Be prepared, for who among you will be shocked if Hasbro gets re-woke and declares that henceforth “G.I. Joe” will be “G.I. Pat.”

Imagine the dog tags!

OK, the weekly fare of tasty conservative meat and (Mr.) Potato(es) is a head!

But First, that Backlash May Make You Think that It Just Might Be the Case that Everything Will Be Okay

Which just happens to be the title of the new book by paisana Dana Perino, and if you need her bio then you gotta fix the remote! It’s subtitle — Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman) . . . neither term which, for the record is applicable to Your Humble Male Author — explains the project at hand.

And it is that, a project: God bless Dana, because she is trying mightily to pull the trigger against triggering, hoping to instill can-do moxie and confidence in younger women so that they might reframe their thinking, believe in themselves, take risks, harness their inner power, and find serenity in all of life’s chaos (can Old Dudes get some of that?). While others encourage women to find their inner wimp and to see and contrive safe spaces, Dana is refreshingly pep-talking about empowerment.

Now, let’s be honest: It’s Dana’s own fault that she had to write this book. You see, her last one, And the Good News Is . . . Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side, kicked off a very personal mentoring passion, as she communicated with countless young women in their early 20s who reached out about the almost-overwhelming distress caused by our modern times.

Here’s the pitch: If you have a daughter or granddaughter who is this book’s sweet spot, consider getting Everything Will Be Okay (it’s not formally published until March 9th, but you can pre-order it here). Waddleyaget? A ton of common sense and wisdom: Dana delivers with guidance on topics as managing relationships (colleagues, family, love) . . . being your best self on the job . . . gauging if the chosen career path is the right one . . . how to transition from junior staffer to Da Boss . . . solving problems and finding that oh-so-needed serenity . . . and maybe even figuring how to make your worries the stuff that actually fuels solutions.

You know a job-seeker fresh out of college? An ambitious career woman looking to make her next big jump up the ladder? Get her Dana Perino’s Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman).

NAME, RANK, LINKS

EDITORIALS

Democrats’ “Equality Act” Is an Unjust Civil Rights Proposal

Xavier Becerra Is Biden’s Most Divisive Nominee

Biden Stimulus Package: Wasteful and Unnecessary

Florida Leads on Voting Reform

Amazon Kneel to the Mob

Biden’s Policy of Weakness Toward Iran

ARTICLES

David Harsanyi: Anthony Fauci Is Not Our Parent, or God

Madeleine Kearns: Andrew Cuomo, an Unfunny Caricature of Himself

Maria McFadden Maffucci: Don’t Forget Andrew Cuomo’s Other Coronavirus Victims

Zachary Evans: Andrew Cuomo & Coronavirus: New York Failures Exposed

Alexandra DeSanctis: Xavier Becerra & Nuns: Fact-Checking the Washington Post Fact-Checkers

William J. Watkins Jr.: Robert A. Taft: The Forgotten Ohio Senator Is Needed Now

Dan McLaughlin: Originalism Does Not Need a Makeover

Frederick Hess and R.J. Martin: Hostility to Free Thought Is Rampant in Higher Education

Isaac Schorr: Syracuse University Women’s Lacrosse ‘OK’ Sign Controversy: School Shamefully Bows to Woke Mob

Steven Watts: ‘Whiteness’ Studies Started in Academy, Corrupted Political Discourse

Brian Allen: Racism and Sexism Accusations Torpedo the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Jack Fowler: Stanford Lefties Must Swallow Their Hoover Hate — For Now

Steve Hanke: China Rattles Its Rare-Earth-Minerals Sabre Again

Cameron Hilditch: In the Second Cold War, Religious Americans Must Lead the Way

Itxu Díaz: The Spiritual Heart of Old Europe Aches

CAPITAL MATTERS

Kevin Hassett counsels no to the GOP tat: A Compromise on Senate Confirmations

Travis Nix suggests a stitch in time: Biden’s Stimulus Hurts Businesses. One Tax Tweak Can Change That

Mike Hunter pipes up: Keystone Pipeline Is Good for America

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW!

Kyle Smith applauds Hopkins: The Father Explores Struggles of Old Age

Armond White concludes it’s from Russia, with squirm: Dear Comrades! and Sin Challenge Narratives of Biden-Harris Era

Back to Kyle: It’s not woke being green: The Muppet Show Trigger Warning Attacks a Nonproblem

Even More Kyle: Enjoy getting wiiggy: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar Is Splendidly Silly

More Armond, who knows e pluribus pluribus when he sees it: Mr. Soul! Is the Newest Divide-America Documentary

AND NOW, MOUNDS OF SMOOTH AND FILLING WISDOM (NO LUMPS!)

Editorials

1. The Equality Act is a stinker. From the editorial:

The Equality Act would redefine sex to include “gender identity,” thus forcing every federally funded entity — most notably schools and colleges — to treat males who declare transgender status as if they were females. It would stamp out religious exemptions by regulating religious nonprofits and even goes so far as to prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act exemption. And it would, as National Review’s John McCormack has explained, greatly expand “the number of businesses that count as ‘public accommodations’ under the Civil Rights Act.”

It is neither proportionate nor desirable to use the full weight of the federal government against every injustice, real or imagined. But the bill’s drafters are transparently exploiting the association with a historic bill fighting racial discrimination in order to smuggle in false equivalences and unsupportable claims.

For instance, the bill states that “transgender people have half the homeownership rate of non-transgender people and about 1 in 5 transgender people experience homelessness.” This is alarming, certainly, but what proof is there that the predominant cause for this is discrimination? Psychiatrists and psychologists in the field of gender dysphoria have long observed that, even in instances of social acceptance, mental health co-morbidities are high among this population.

Moral platitudes are similarly deployed to smooth over the bill’s shortcomings. President Biden — whose administration endorsed the Equality Act, and who promised during his campaign to sign it into law within 100 days of office — says that “every person should be treated with dignity and respect.” And who could object? Actually, many people could when “dignity and respect” are hijacked to include a legal requirement to treat men as though they are women in various contexts that would grossly disadvantage females.

2. The Biden political-payola-crammed “stimulus” bill is unnecessary. From the editorial:

Yet even if the economic outlook were as negative as the Democrats claim, Biden’s proposal would do little to improve it. More than one third of the so-called stimulus won’t be spent until 2022 or later. Public-education grants are expected to last until 2028, even as teachers’ unions refuse to reopen schools. That’s partially because $113 billion in education aid from the last relief bill remains unspent.

So too with $370 billion in state and local assistance, the lion’s share of which would sit unused until 2023. With some exceptions, state and local budgets are in good shape. The Committee for a Responsible Budget finds that state and local tax receipts grew by 10 percent in 2020. What the Democrats position as emergency relief is in fact a bailout of profligate public-pension plans and mismanaged blue states.

The money that will be spent this year — on checks to households and unemployment top-ups — is wasteful at best and contractionary at worst. Thanks to last year’s CARES Act, personal incomes are higher now than they were before the pandemic. Most Americans used the first round of checks to pad out their savings accounts and pay down debt. The second round, delivered in December, contributed to the highest bump in retail spending since 2009.

A deficit-funded subsidy to consumers might be a boon to economic growth if Americans went back to work, but the Biden administration is committed to making unemployment as attractive as possible. The proposed $400 unemployment top-ups, extended until September, would leave 60 percent of benefit recipients making more off-the-job than on-the-job. Not to mention Biden’s proposed federal minimum wage of $15, which would kill 1.4 million jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office.

3. In nominating Xavier Becerra to run HHS, Joe Biden has chosen an unmitigated and foul disaster. From the editorial:

As California attorney general, Becerra has been an exceptionally ruthless aggressor in the culture wars. He has attempted to use the power of the state to crush a wide array of average Americans — from religious dissenters to pro-life pregnancy counselors and independent journalists.

In 2017, Becerra filed felony charges against the pro-life activists and citizen-journalists who had gone undercover to expose Planned Parenthood’s gruesome practice of selling the body parts of aborted babies to biotech companies. Becerra had not gone after animal-rights activists for similar investigative tactics. In response to Becerra’s actions, one writer at the left-wing magazine Mother Jones called the Planned Parenthood videos “a legitimate investigation, and no level of government should be in the business of chilling it.” Becerra was rebuked by the liberal editorial page of the Los Angeles Times for his “disturbing overreach.”

In 2018, Becerra and the State of California were smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case NIFLA v. Becerra over a state law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion.

In 2019, Becerra aggressively opposed the merger of two religiously affiliated hospital chains in California because the resulting consolidated chain could reduce access to both abortion and gender-reassignment surgeries.

4. Amazon has banned the sale of Ryan Anderson’s important 2018 book on transgender policy. The Woke Gods must be obeyed. From the editorial:

As a narrow legal question, Amazon is of course within its rights to exclude books from its marketplace, whether those be works of conservative criticism, Lolita, or the Quran. But powerful institutions such as Amazon should stand up for principles, including the principle of free speech and open discourse. Jeff Bezos of all people knows that: When the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail him, he went public at the risk of some personal embarrassment, asking a pertinent question: “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

If in his position, and in Amazon’s position, one of the wealthiest men on Earth cannot afford to stand up to the mob demanding virtual book-burnings in order to suppress the communication of ideas and positions with which they are at odds, who can?

But, of course, Bezos could stand up to that mob, if he chose to. Instead, Bezos and his team apparently are content to go along with the mob, if not exactly leading it then providing it with the keys to the library, a can of gasoline, and a box of matches.

5. For sane election reform, look to Florida. From the editorial:

In a season of recriminations over election procedures, Florida stood out as an exemplar. More than 99 percent of its 11 million votes were counted by midnight on Election Day with little controversy. Meanwhile, 71.7 percent of all eligible Florida voters participated in the 2020 election, up from 65.6 percent in 2016, 63.3 percent in 2012, and 57.5 percent in 2000.

This is yet another example of the good governance of the Republicans who have run the Sunshine State for two decades. It also illustrates how the state has learned its lessons from the infamous 2000 recount. And it proves that Republicans have nothing to fear from well-run, high-turnout elections. Florida should be a model for Republicans around the country looking at their own voting systems.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, however, is not content to rest on his laurels. He’s proposing a series of reforms to head off problems that have cropped up in other states. DeSantis would ban ballot harvesting by prohibiting anyone but a voter’s family from handling his or her absentee ballot — protecting the ballot secrecy that we take for granted in the voting booth. He would prohibit mass-mailing of unrequested mail-in ballots, tighten signature requirements, keep ballot drop-boxes under the supervision of polling places, and limit no-excuses mail-in voting to prioritize in-person voting, where Florida law already requires voter ID.

6. President Biden’s Iran policy is a testament to weakness, and the antithesis of peacemaking. From the editorial:

Thankfully, no U.S. service members were killed, but one was injured. What will the administration do if the worst comes to pass in another attack?

Instead of signaling to the Iranians, as President Trump did, that the U.S. will hold them directly accountable for the actions of the militias under their control, the new team appears to have let it slide without a direct warning to Iran.

And as Yemen’s Houthi rebels continued their assault on civilian areas, Biden lifted the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the Iran-backed group.

Worst of all, though, the Biden administration has extended this olive branch to Tehran following a report this month revealing that the International Atomic Energy Agency found new Iranian uranium-metal production in excess of JCPOA limits. Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to curtail IAEA inspections following a February 23 deadline set by parliament if the U.S. doesn’t cave.

Contrary to what some Iran appeasers argue, this bad behavior is not the result of the Trump-era maximum-pressure campaign. Tehran is escalating now because it sees an opportunity to strong-arm Biden into lifting sanctions first.

We’re Determined to Get These Numerous Articles Circulated Before Cuomo Sends Them to Some Death Facility

1. David Harsanyi refuses to genuflect before America’s favorite bureaucrat, quasi-divinity Anthony Fauci. From the piece:

Countries such as Britain, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal have somewhat higher fatality rates, and others such as Spain, Sweden, and France have a somewhat lower rate, but there’s no evidence that a more centralized plan would have saved American lives during the pandemic. The British, for instance, employ centralized control, with not only a single-payer health-insurance model but also a state that owns all medical facilities and employs all the medical personnel. Yet, to this point, Britain has fared worse during COVID than the United States by every quantifiable measure.

The problems with a centralized approach in a massive and free nation such as the United States, on the other hand, are quite evident. A “unified approach” in this country means the Fauci approach. And the Fauci approach would mean an Andrew Cuomo approach.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” Fauci explained on PBS NewsHour back in July 2020. He would keep celebrating Cuomo’s model for the next six months.

New York has a higher coronavirus fatality rate than any country in the Western world. It is a place low in civil liberties and high in death toll. A Faucian centralized plan would have entailed strict lockdowns of the economy and the implementation of policies that compelled nursing homes in states such as Florida, with a high number of vulnerable elderly, to accept thousands of infected people. As it stands now, Florida’s fatality rate is nearly half of that in New Jersey or in Fauci’s exemplar, New York.

2. More Divinity: Madeleine Kearns mocks a Cuomosexual. From the piece:

Though his deadly mistakes aren’t amusing, the contrast between how he has acted and how he sees himself is certainly laugh-worthy.

What comedy skit of Cuomo could be more ridiculous than the sight of his own book on the window display at my local bookstore, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a picture of him on the front, hands clasped and looking regal? What could be more embarrassing for him than his appearance on Ellen last year in which he grinned at the term, “Cuomosexual,” as his host called him “charming and adorable” and said, straight-faced, that “people are in love with you.” He believed it. SNL presented Cuomo as “a man,” with at least a semblance of self-awareness. But Cuomo presents Cuomo as a god.

It’s not only conservatives who are furious with him. Last week, a news conference and rally were held outside the Department of Justice offices at which family members of elderly patients demanded a federal investigation. They will get their wish. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have subsequently opened an investigation. State assembly Republicans are moving to form an impeachment commission “to gather facts and evidence” surrounding Cuomo’s “handling and the subsequent cover-up of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.” Even state Democrats are moving to strip Cuomo of his unilateral emergency pandemic powers.

Writing in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, John Daukas, former acting attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, argued that Cuomo’s cover-up could merit federal criminal charges. And National Review’s Andy McCarthy has explained that “besides potential civil-rights liability, the Cuomo administration could face problems because the nursing homes that the state oversees receive lots of federal money through Medicare and Medicaid.”

3. More Cuomo: While no one was looking, the Ghoulvenor doubled down on what he did to nursing homes, and did it even worse for group homes. Maria McFaddenn Maffucci has the maddening story. From the article:

This dangerous directive ignored the realities of typical group-home setups — small homes with shared facilities and no place to isolate. And, adding insult to injury, such “congregate settings” for the disabled were not designated as “priority recipients” of desperately needed PPE. Under New York State’s Emergency Management Policies, “hospitals, EMS, nursing facilities, and dialysis centers” were eligible for aid with PPE, but not residences for the disabled. A watchdog group, Disability Rights New York, filed a complaint on April 9 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stating that “New Yorkers with ID/DD living in New York State licensed or certified group homes and other congregate settings are at serious risk of contracting and succumbing to COVID-19. Direct Service Providers who provide essential care for individuals in congregate care settings do not have access to PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the individuals residing in these settings and many individuals residing in these settings are unable to protect themselves from contracting the disease.”

Meanwhile, families of the disabled had heart-rending choices to make at the start of the pandemic: take their family member out of a residential setting and lose their spot there permanently, or leave them there with no chance of visiting or bringing them home for a visit.  For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for whom any change in routine can be traumatic, this sudden isolation was terrifying. Many of them were not able to understand the sudden absence of those dearest to them, and many started to regress.

And then, once the rate of infection started to slow and New York began its “un-pause” in phases, the special-needs community was once again ignored. Families desperate to reunite with their loved ones were told that there was as yet no plan for them and were given the runaround by both OPWDD and the governor’s office as to when they could reunite with their loved ones.

4. Even More Cuomo: Zachary Evans recounts how the Empire Center finally convinced people that the Emperor was buck naked. From the piece:

New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 25, 2020, executive order mandating that nursing homes accept coronavirus patients returning from hospitals has been the subject of controversy for months. Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Albany-based think tank Empire Center, initiated a crucial Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for data on coronavirus in nursing homes that would eventually shed light on the consequences of that order.

It was not until February 2021, after the state finally released accurate information, that Hammond and fellow Empire Center researcher Dr. Ian Kingsbury could analyze data on nursing-home deaths in New York. What they found is that, while the order was not the sole or even primary cause of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, it exacerbated an already-bad situation, likely resulting in “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000 resident deaths” in upstate nursing homes. (In New York City and its environs, coronavirus was so widespread that Hammond and Kingsbury concluded the March 25 order did not have a significant impact on nursing-home deaths in that area.)

Even more remarkable than the nursing-home data are the efforts to which the New York state government went to conceal them. In an interview with National Review, Hammond explained how he became interested in the data on nursing-home deaths and how the Empire Center sued the New York State Department of Health for those records.

5. Alexandra DeSanctis will not let the Washington Post’s jesuitical “fact checkers” get away with the attempt to whitewash nominee Xavier Becerra’s nun-hate. From the piece:

During a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, responding to a question from Senator John Thune, Biden’s HHS pick Xavier Becerra uttered the lines, “I have never sued any nuns. I have taken on the federal government, but I have never sued any affiliation of nuns.”

When I heard this remark, I thought to myself, “It’s just barely true enough that fact-checkers will run with it and claim he’s correct.”

Sure enough, they rose to the challenge. In the Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo — whose fact-checking efforts I’ve rebutted for NRO in the past — insists that Becerra “sued the Trump administration, not a group of nuns.”

According to Rizzo, “It’s misleading to say Becerra sued the nuns” because “the California attorney general has not filed lawsuits or brought enforcement actions against the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charity run by Catholic nuns.”

But Becerra’s assertion is true only in the narrowest sense: He has never initiated any direct legal action against a group of nuns. Though Rizzo doesn’t seem to notice it, the actual facts of the case expose how disingenuous Becerra’s response really was.

6. William Watkins goes back to the post-War era, when an Ohio Republican, Robert Taft, proved a consequential champion of sensibility and freedom, and suggests we reclaim him as a model. From the piece:

Taft disdained Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s penchant for creating new federal agencies, but he also worried about New Dealers’ inclination to intervene in international conflicts. In the words of Russell Kirk and James McClellan, Taft’s foreign policy was influenced “by two prejudices (using that word in its neutral sense): his prejudice in favor of peace, and his prejudice against empire.” The benefit of hindsight has placed a moral blemish on those who had been skeptical of entering the Second World War. But Taft was no thoughtless isolationist. His reasons are worth understanding. Kirk and McClellan describe his mindset: “For the United States, then, war was preferable to conquest or to economic ruin; but if these calamities were not in prospect, America should remain aloof.” He was, moreover, willing to change his mind as circumstances did. Indeed, in the days after Pearl Harbor, Taft voted to declare war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. But after the victory, Taft saw that too many Americans relished a perpetual involvement in matters disconnected from the national interest. He rightly worried about the future of American foreign policy.

Taft sought the Republican presidential nomination on three occasions. Each time, the liberal wing of the party, led by Thomas E. Dewey, preferred a candidate who would present himself as a better administrator of the New Deal machinery rather than as a dismantler of its would-be Soviet bureaucracy. It appeared Taft would finally get his chance in 1952. But Dewey and the East Coast establishment recruited General Dwight D. Eisenhower as their nominee. Even a man widely known as “Mr. Republican” had little chance to defeat the popular war hero, who won the party’s nomination and then crushed Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the general election.

7. Dan McLaughlin says pfooey to new liberal arguments that originalism must somehow reinvent itself with a “common good” moniker. From the beginning of the essay:

Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer argues at Public Discourse that conservatives should replace originalism with a new, refined judicial philosophy named “common-good originalism.” Hammer is a sharp guy, and one assumes that his is the best argument that could be made for this proposal. His argument is, however, unspecific in its critiques, vague in its proposals, unmoored from constitutional legitimacy, and unsound as strategy. That suggests that the problem is not the messenger, but the message.

Briefly defined, originalism is the idea that when a law is passed, it means what it is understood to mean at the time it receives the people’s approval, and it stays that way until it is changed. When the law is a statute rather than part of the Constitution, the same concept is called textualism. The words matter, including the meaning of those words when written down. Fixing the meaning of a rule is the whole point of writing it down and getting the people or their representatives to approve it as written, rather than just electing good people and telling them, “Do what you think is best.” (In P.J. O’Rourke’s phrase, this is the difference between having a Congress and having a mom.) Written rules may become obsolete, of course, but in a democracy, it is the job of the people rather than unelected judges to decide that.

Why complain about originalism? No other conservative idea has penetrated so far into both elite institutions and popular opinion in the past three decades than originalism has. Among all the elements of the post-Cold War conservative coalition, only gun-rights advocates have been arguably more successful in pressing their public-policy vision than originalists have, and the cause of gun rights has itself relied heavily on an originalist reading of the Constitution. Almost alone among conservative ideas in recent decades, originalism has compelled even its enemies in the liberal academy to contend on its turf, and has succeeded in staffing the power centers of the federal government with many of its adherents. Textualism has, if anything, been even more resoundingly successful, even among liberals.

8. The one place you are not likely to find free thought is American campuses, write Frederick Hess and R.J. Martin. From the analysis:

Today, billions in federal research funds flow to universities that don’t even make a pretense of protecting free inquiry. Of the ten institutions that FIRE just flagged as being egregiously hostile to free inquiry, seven secured taxpayer-funded research dollars with a combined value of more than $1 billion.

Taxpayers fund university research because universities are supposed to be places where scholars can pursue hard truths — forums in which responsible researchers can pursue the kind of rigorous, open-minded inquiry that is fundamental to scientific progress and the public good. Serious scholarship cannot thrive where researchers fear that the wrong topic, point of view, terminology, or conclusion will run afoul of university strictures or prevailing sentiments. That’s a recipe for politicized, unreliable research.

Safeguarding free inquiry is especially important given the lack of intellectual diversity that exists today on so many campuses. As a team of social psychologists led by José Duarte explained in 2015, political uniformity “can undermine the validity of social psychological science” by, for example, embedding “liberal values into research questions” and “steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics.” Such phenomena raise questions about the reliability of federally funded research produced at institutions that fail to safeguard free expression for those on both sides of the political aisle.

Given these stakes, public officials should insist that taxpayer funds should only support scholarship at universities that can demonstrate a steadfast commitment to free inquiry. This wouldn’t create a sweeping new expanse of federal power — it would simply ensure that colleges abide by the compact they have developed with Uncle Sam. Indeed, universities that collect federal research funds already provide a host of assurances, on everything from campus safety to hiring practices. Asking for an assurance that research funds will be used to fund independent, credible research seems like a pretty reasonable addition.

9. The academic insanity of seeing racism in the shadows of white pigmentation has now corrupted out politics, says Steven Watts. From the essay:

The notion of whiteness emerged from debates among academic leftists near the end of the Reagan/Bush era. They were wrestling with the old American political anomaly: why working-class whites supposedly voted against their own interests by failing to embrace socialism. The recent appearance of Reagan Democrats and growing working-class support for the Republican Party had been a particularly galling development. Alexander Saxton’s The Rise and Fall of the White Republic: Class Politics and Mass Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (1990), followed closely by David R. Roediger’s The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (1991), attempted to tackle this “problem” with a new perspective. “Whiteness,” each book claimed in its own way, explained all.

Saxton’s White Republic examined the dynamic development of the United States in the 19th century and reached a striking conclusion: White racism was its driving force. In his “ideological interpretation,” Saxton posited that a white man’s nation had emerged from the intersecting efforts of Southern slaveholders, Jacksonian Democrats and Whigs who pursued racist social and economic policies, frontier novelists and blackface minstrel performers, Republican ideologues who joined opportunity and egalitarianism with the glue of white racism, scientists who advocated Social Darwinism, and trade unionists who marginalized black workers to achieve white, working-class solidarity. In Saxton’s rendering, the story of America is one of creating a “white republic” by using racism to strengthen and legitimate industrial capitalism.

Roediger’s Wages of Whiteness took the racial analysis a step further. Also focusing on the United States in the 1800s, he contended that not just racism but also a deeply cynical notion of “whiteness” had been foisted onto the working class. Beginning with the modern scientific conclusion that race is not biological but socially constructed, Roediger claimed that “it has become possible to ask bedrock questions such as, ‘What makes some people think they are white?’ and “When did white people become white?’” He drew upon W. E. B. Du Bois, the notable African-American Marxist intellectual, who had asserted in his Black Reconstruction in America (1935) that shrewd capitalists had bought off industrial workers with a “psychological wage” of “whiteness” — something like, “No matter how oppressive the work discipline or class oppression you face, at least you are superior to blacks.” This was the foundation for Roediger’s argument that the “wages of whiteness” fueled the development of American capitalism, only now the old Marxist process of class formation was accompanied, and perhaps superseded, by a process of race formation. A racial manipulation of language provided one means of shaping a cross-class white identity, as when the traditional republican word “freeman,” indicating an independent voter and worker, took on a racial coloration to denote a contrast with “unfree” black slaves. The gradual whitening of immigrants, such as the Irish, as they poured into the United States in the mid 1800s, provided another. Ultimately, complicit industrial laborers joined greedy capitalists to embrace the notion that they were white, and hence superior to a “degraded” black race. In Roediger’s grand reformulation, the consolidation of modern industrial capitalism depended on a sordid series of race-mongering maneuvers that sullied notions of equality and justice, hamstrung efforts at working-class solidarity, and guaranteed the ongoing oppression of African Americans.

10. The “OK” gesture obviously isn’t. So say the Woke Police at Syracuse University, where some female athletes can be found under the bus where they’ve been thrown. Isaac Schorr has the story. From the piece:

Even this goes much too far. Was all of the offense and anger really justified? Was there any supporting evidence to suggest that the student who made the post even knew that the OK symbol was sometimes appropriated by hate groups, much less that she was using it with similarly bigoted intentions? No, but sadly, the statement gets much, much worse. It goes on to call the post “an unacceptable lapse in judgment and lack of awareness on the part of our entire team,” apologize for being “negligent and hurt[ing] people in the community we love so much,” and insist that the team is “grateful that the lacrosse community has held us accountable.”

Is it the responsibility of every American citizen over the age of 18 to monitor white-supremacist sites and understand their intricacies? How, exactly, is the rest of the team complicit in this supposed atrocity? Was anyone really hurt?

Most disturbing is the “thank you, sir, may I have another”–ism on display in the bit about being held “accountable.” What is it that they’re being held accountable for, and by whom? I, for one, do not appreciate the team’s inviting the mob to hold the rest of us accountable to its nebulous, ever-evolving standards by subjecting us to an endless torrent of online harassment.

To be clear, I don’t blame the students on the team for bowing so quickly and so low to the mob at their doorstep. I doubt very much that they wrote the statement released on their behalf, and would venture to guess that at least some of them are not happy with its contents. The culpability lies with the adults who threw these young women under the bus without a second thought to make their own lives just a little bit easier. Head coach Gary Gait, for example, is one of the sport’s most revered figures. Yet he did nothing to stand up for the team, instead calling the post a “mistake” and consenting to the tarnishing of the players he’s paid to mentor and protect. This is part of a larger trend of powerful adults and institutions failing in their obligation to shield the powerless from unfair criticism and unjustifiable consequences.

11. The Indianapolis Museum of Art is in crisis over a spew of racism and sexism and the usual charges, reports Brian Allen. From the piece:

What have we come to? Yes, a dumb thing to say, shortsighted and wrongheaded. How did we get to the sad, ugly point where museum directors are parsing audiences by race?

A museum-director friend told me a few years ago that the pursuit of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility — now an acronym called DEIA — took most of her time. She moaned and groaned — DEIA is agnostic on things such as art and scholarship — but she sees herself as a good liberal. She doesn’t realize what a minefield and a racket this will become.

Her museum website denounces systemic racism, the amorphous bugaboo these days. And her museum is still closed because of the COVID scare, even though no case of the Chinese coronavirus has been traced to a museum, anywhere. “A” is for accessibility, and, sorry to state the obvious, but a museum is not “accessible” if it’s shut. It’s a sublimely perfect and perverse case of “E” for “equity,” since everyone is barred.

12. The Woke Mafia at Stanford didn’t sharpen the cancel knives sharp enough when they went after the Hoover Institution and its more prominent conservative fellows, writes a Poorly Known Author. From the beginning of the article:

It gnaws away at Stanford University’s woke faculty: Harbored in their midst is that nominally conservative outfit, the Hoover Institution, which more than a few professors hold as an infestation of the liberal citadel. It is, after all, named after a Republican president — never mind being home to the likes of Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster (and yes, plenty of establishment GOP types, and even a lefty or two). And there’s this: The campus is visually dominated by the striking eleven-story Hoover Tower, which scrapes the Palo Alto sky like some right-hand middle finger. Housing vast and important archives (much of the contents are about the evils of Marxist-Leninism), the tower is crowned by a 48-bell carillon that no doubt triggers faculty and students with the occasional auditory reminder of Hoover’s confounding and unwelcome presence.

Who will rid us of this troublesome think tank and its more Trumpy fellows?

There is no paucity of willing hitmen amongst Stanford’s more fevered and Hoover-obsessed faculty, who of late have mounted a campaign to diminish Hoover’s standing and to bully the institution’s more important and controversial (meaning, from their perspective, notorious) fellows. Of particular focus are the aforementioned Professor Hanson, known well in NR’s precincts and the author of The Case for Trump (word is he also has a weekly podcast); Scott Atlas, a prominent member of former President Trump’s COVID task force (his nondoctrinaire, wrong-partisan stands prompted a hundred-plus of his former colleagues to publish an open letter last September that berated him as a threat to public health); and historian Niall Ferguson, who was accused (projection warning) of suppressing the free-speech rights of students in 2018.

13. Red China holds hostage rare-earth minerals, and Steve Hanke says the Biden Administration must push back. From the article:

To underline the importance and potential potency of the rare-earths weapon, President Xi Jinping has a habit of visiting rare-earths mining sites and plants that produce the precision magnets that rely on rare earths.

But rare earths are not just vital for many weapons systems. Far from it. They are also used in a wide range of consumer products from iPhones to DVD players to rechargeable batteries. They are also critical for many “green” products, such as LED lights. Many key products, such as motors in electric cars and the generators in wind turbines, contain specialized magnets that require rare earths, and China produces 90 percent of those magnets.

The reserves of rare earths are scattered around the globe in countries such as Australia, the United States, and Myanmar, with China holding down the top spot with about 40 percent of the world’s reserves. When it comes to mining rare earths, China’s lead becomes dominant. Indeed, over 70 percent of rare earths are mined in China. Further downstream is processing. At that stage, China is even more dominant, processing nearly 90 percent of the world’s rare earths.

How did China attain such dominance across the board in rare earths? As someone who landed his first faculty position and cut his eye teeth on mineral economics in the late 1960s at the Colorado School of Mines, I have long suspected that China must have invested heavily in the Three Ms.

14. Red China’s godless dictators wants to own local Roman Catholicism as yet another means of social control. Americans, says Cameron Hilditch, need to understand and oppose this new version of the Evil Empire. From the essay:

The tactical approach that the CCP has taken toward the Roman Catholic Church is particularly instructive of how party policy on religion differs from that of Communist regimes past (and even present if one considers the Kims in North Korea). Instead of trying to drive the Catholic Church out of China altogether, the CCP seeks to increase its own influence over the Vatican. (They’ve taken exactly the same approach toward many other things like American sports leagues, international institutions, and even capitalism itself.)

On September 22, 2018, the CCP signed an agreement with the Vatican — the text of which is still secret — according to which the two parties agreed to “cooperate” in the selection of Chinese bishops. In practice, this has basically meant that the Chinese have presented their approved candidates to the pope, who then officially approves them, almost as a formality. The whole affair reflects very poorly on Pope Francis and the Vatican hierarchy. The hope was to allow Chinese Catholics worshipping underground to come out of hiding and live out their faith in public; but this “liberation” has been purchased at the price of ceding all control over Chinese Catholicism to a militantly atheist cabal of genocidal communists.

The naïveté of the Vatican in agreeing to such an arrangement has been exposed to the fullest extent by these new “administrative measures”: Article 16 says that bishops in China will be democratically elected through the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and consecrated by the Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference. No reference at all is made to the pope or the Vatican, who’ve been completely excised from the process. The CCP has cemented its sole control over Chinese Catholicism with the formal backing of the Catholic Church itself (the 2018 deal was renewed last year), leaving Chinese Catholic dissenters from the Party without even the formal backing of their own church.

In other words, this isn’t your grandfather’s evil empire. The CCP are smarter, defter, and more economically dominant than the Bolsheviks ever were. And right now, they’re succeeding at drafting Catholicism, along with the other major religions of the world, into the service of Marxism, something that even Marx himself didn’t think was possible.

15. Itxu Díaz finds a traditional religious celebration knocked around by COVID. Santiago de Compostela is nearly empty — where have all the pilgrims gone? From the essay:

In the cathedral, gloom and Gregorian. A couple of ladies pray in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, some priests wait in the confessional to attend, in a multitude of languages, the pilgrims who do not arrive, and a madman crosses the main nave talking to himself and gesticulating wildly. Suddenly, he stops in silence in front of the image of the Apostle, where he prays in silence for a few minutes and seems to regain his sanity.

This strange and solitary climate has allowed me to spend more than 20 minutes in the small crypt, with no other company than the silver urn that houses the remains of the Apostle, without the usual hustle and bustle of visitors. Normally it would be impossible to pray on your knees here without feeling a burst of light hitting the back of your head every other second. (This light, it should be noted, does not often come from the Holy Spirit, but from the cameras of Japanese tourists.)

The whole cathedral is awe-inspiring. Contemplation of the Portico de la Gloria, a Romanesque masterpiece, enlightens the pilgrim on the mysteries of faith: the original sin, the Redemption, and the Last Judgment. But none of it carries the same significance if we ignore the origin of this pilgrimage center, raised in a remote and rainy place of rural Galicia.

According to tradition, Santiago preached Christianity in Hispania (present-day Spain and Portugal), after Pentecost. However, the Spaniards did not receive the Apostle with the solemnity he deserved, and we even failed to comply with the most elementary rules of courtesy: In all honesty, we stoned him (though not fatally).

Capital Matters

1. Kevin Hassett knows a thing or two about being nominated, and wouldn’t blame Republicans for doing the turnabout thing on Biden choices. But he suggests a compromise. From the piece:

In my own case, after being chosen for the job of chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in January 2017, I was not confirmed until September of that year, despite the fact that, as the vote eventually indicated, I had the support of the majority of Senate Democrats. I did start in the White House as a consultant long before then and remember discussing the long delays in the Roosevelt Room in the summer of 2017 with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who mentioned that she couldn’t get any of her deputies through. If the majority leader’s wife is having trouble, the obstructions are real.

Ultimately, Republicans reduced the number of hours of debate required before cloture to two, but the Senate minority availed itself of other tactics, such as delaying nomination hearings. Countless low-level nominees were forced to withdraw because they saw no reasonable path to confirmation. Those who stuck it out just waited and waited. As of December 1 of last year, there were 209 Trump nominees still pending in the Senate.

When I left the council in the summer of 2019, with a year and a half left for the team to govern, the White House didn’t even bother trying to get my replacement, Tomas Philipson, a confirmation. Eighteen months was apparently not enough time to get him through. If you looked around the government, a large majority of jobs were held by people who were simply “acting,” a temporary status allowed for vacant positions.

2. Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, urges President Biden to reverse course on his terrible decision to block the Keystone Pipeline. From the piece:

Keystone has led to thousands of good-paying jobs, now snuffed out with the stroke of a pen. Again, the impact will be felt not just in Oklahoma: The pipeline here increases the transport of oil to Cushing, one of the largest transshipment and oil-storage locations in the world.

In response to the president’s decision, lawmakers have introduced legislation to mandate continuation of the project, estimating that the pipeline’s expansion would create 11,000 “direct high-paying jobs” and “up to 60,000 indirect and direct jobs.”

Indeed, by revoking Keystone’s permit, President Biden is relegating these workers to the unemployment line, when our country can ill afford to strain our already overstressed unemployment system.

But these economic realities are just some of the reasons why ending the Keystone XL pipeline is a bad policy for America.

The president justified revoking the pipeline’s permit on the grounds that the status quo undermined U.S. climate leadership. Yet in addition to the cancellation’s adverse economic consequences, it also negatively affects health and human safety. (A pipeline is a far better and safer way to transport crude oil than freight is.) It also ignores the painstaking measures that the Keystone developers have taken to enforce environmental-safety rules.

3. One little change, suggest Travis Nix, might make Joe Biden’s stimulus proposal a lot less horrid. From the piece:

Joe Biden could help thousands of small businesses survive the pandemic by allowing them to accelerate their Net Operating Loss (NOLs) deductions, using it now rather than having to wait and carry them forward to future tax years. This policy would allow businesses to monetize the losses they incur and receive a tax rebate based on their tax rate. For example, a corporation that incurs $100,000 in losses gets a rebate of $21,000 since the corporate tax rate is 21 percent. To provide the maximum benefit to pass-through firms — that is, business owners that choose to pay their business taxes on their individual taxes — the tax refund should be set at the top individual tax rate of 37 percent. This change would provide a desperately needed cash cushion to thousands of businesses that cannot take advantage of the NOL deduction this year

The NOL deduction is critical to helping firms survive economic downturns by smoothing out their tax expenses. It allows businesses to carry forward their losses to future tax years and deduct them from their future profits, or, thanks to the CARES Act, to temporarily carry them back to previous tax years and get a tax refund on previously paid taxes.

But it’s not designed to its maximum potential. Currently, it does nothing for the over 800,000 new businesses that opened in 2020 that have no previous tax years to carry back their losses. The only benefit they get from the NOL deduction is the ability to carry losses forward to future tax years. That’s less helpful for a couple of reasons. For one, carryforwards are not as valuable to businesses because of inflation. More importantly, however, tax benefits today, when businesses are struggling, are more valuable than deductions years from now when they’re turning a profit.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Anthony Hopkins in the brutal film, The Father, is brilliant, says Kyle Smith. From the beginning of the review:

Anthony is a retired engineer who has trouble with his watch. Maybe he can’t remember where he put it. Maybe his caregiver stole it from him. He’s disoriented when he’s in the former frame of mind, angry in the latter.

The watch is time, and as played with great sensitivity by Anthony Hopkins, the old man is alternately confused, frustrated, and rageful about his inability to keep track of it. He’s slipping around various stages of his life, unable to distinguish present from past. The devastating trick played by the French playwright Florian Zeller, who has brought his own 2012 play The Father to the screen in his debut as a film director, is to place the audience in the situation Anthony is in. We’re both observing and experiencing what the father is going through. I won’t spoil for you how Zeller pulls this off, but he accomplishes his purpose and then some. Cruel? The Father is absolutely brutal, particularly for those who have cared for a loved one enduring dementia. I could barely stomach the movie. An entertaining night out it is not. But we do look to art for truths, even ones we’d rather not confront.

2. More Kyle, who finds an enjoyable and laugh-inducing throw-back experience in the silliness of Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar. From the review:

Will Ferrell is one of the producers of the movie and there’s a delightfully innocent, Ferrell-ish quality to the two lead idiots and their equally moronic antagonist, just as Bridesmaids bore the stamp of its producer Judd Apatow. The two leading ladies sleep in matching twin beds, fantasize about Mr. Peanut and get really excited about Christmas way too early in the year. They’re supportive: “Star, if I said it once, I said it a million times. You could model for effing Chico’s, and I’m not just saying that.” They’re reflective: “Every time I think of frog legs I think of Kermit riding his bicycle, and how much he used his legs. He really needed them.” They’re honest: “My stomach it’s like just a bunch of rolled up sacks in there. All in line trying to get out, it’s like a traffic jam.” If I’m quoting the movie a lot, it’s because it’s really effin’ quotable. We’re talking early-2000s Ferrell-level quotable here. And the innocence is such that even though there are a lot of sex jokes in the movie, they’re just vague enough to keep the movie PG-13.

3. Armond White wants to have it out with Martin Scorsese, and uses two new Russian films, Dear Comrades! And Sin, as a handy cudgel. From the piece:

Dear Comrades! uncannily complements Biden-Harris-era panic by re-creating the massacre and clampdown of striking locomotive workers in Novocherkassk in 1962. In Sin, which anatomizes Michelangelo Buonarroti’s creative struggle during the Renaissance, we see the specter of political pressure on the artistic spirit.

Unlike Scorsese, Konchalovsky flouts the Netflixing of film culture; these are real movies, visually keen aesthetic expressions, not mere “content.” Old-school cineaste Konchalovsky, whose best film remains his 1972 version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, dramatizes characters and dilemmas that connect the present to our Western heritage. (If he cast Daniel Kaluuya as Alexander Pushkin, he’d be filmmaker of the month for Antifa and Black Lives Matter.)

Sin’s Michelangelo (Alberto Testone) carries the weight of personal, national, soulful obligations; Konchalovksy’s exalted visual style recalls Franco Zeffirelli’s classical imagery in the underrated film about Saint Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun and Sister Moon; so does the spiritual, homoerotic tension between the genius artist’s creative struggle and his practical career maneuvers — the best drama of its kind since Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato.

4. When the Muppets can trigger, you know peak insanity is being reached. Kyle (yet again!) ridicules the madness. From the piece:

It’s now “offensive content,” didn’t you know this? “Negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people and cultures.” Disney, fanning itself and calling for a glass of water, requests a moment to “acknowledge . . . harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.” Johnny Cash once performed near a Confederate flag; Joan Baez once did a fake Indian accent. Sorry, I should have told you to position yourself by the nearest fainting couch before I told you. I hope you didn’t injure yourself when you collapsed in shock.

The inclusivity game sure has changed. At the time it aired, The Muppet Show (like its parent Sesame Street) was noted for making an effort to nudge young viewers away from thinking only in terms of white Americans, taking pains to include a wide variety of ethnic types in the zany fun. As Deadline suggests, “The Muppets [sic] was once celebrated for its depictions [of] Native American, Middle Eastern, and Asian people.” Today, if you portray any member of any of those groups, you’d better be sure nobody gets made fun of. How dare anyone be silly on a comedy show? In order to counteract the effects of noxious stereotypes, the Muppets clearly should have substituted different noxious stereotypes, the stereotypes progressives love about minorities being perpetual victims. Sam the Eagle could have been shown exploiting Asian Muppets as they built a railroad or something.

5. Armond Encore: He finds Mr. Soul! to be just the latest Tinseltown effort to divide America. From the beginning of the review:

We are experiencing the most propagandized period of American filmmaking since World War II. But the goal isn’t cultural unity as it was then. Proof of this dire circumstance is found in the new documentary Mr. Soul! about the relatively obscure media personality Ellis Haizlip.

Haizlip, a bon-vivant colleague of James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, and other race-conscious sophisticates of the late 20th century, gets his own biography in Mr. Soul! That title references Soul! — the television series Haizlip hosted from 1968 to 1971, which showcased the period’s burgeoning black popular culture and political stirrings. His guests ranged from Al Green to Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte to Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka to Stevie Wonder, the Spinners, and Louis Farrakhan.

But Haizlip himself gets sacrificed to “the movement” — specifically to co-directors Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard’s trendy notion that black American politics and culture have not changed. Through Haizlip’s mostly forgotten semi-celebrity, they use the past to promote the Millennial ideal that activism is all, that culture and self-expression in the cause of politics are everything.

It’s a proposition worth arguing over, but nobody does. Most current docs and dramatic features are angled toward politicization. Mr. Soul! commemorates Haizlip as a figurehead of cultural segregation. An outrageous closing montage of contemporary black celebrities who represent national, cultural division supposedly fulfills the entrepreneurial dreams of impresario Haizlip.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At The Catholic Thing, beloved Hadley Arkes contemplates the moral alchemy of the political party. From the piece:

The new Administration is also determined to promote transgenderism as a doctrine to be taught in public schools, and promoted in any organization that benefits from public funds and regulations. At the same time, the Administration stands fully behind the teaching of the 1619 Project: that this American regime was founded for the preservation of slavery, and marked enduringly as corrupt. Which is to say, one of our major parties has now incorporated a contempt for the American Founding and the institutions it put in place.

In the recent presidential election, we were faced with two candidates unappealing in different ways. The mystery is why so many educated people became so fixated on Donald Trump that they could not understand how some of us saw a choice between two Administrations, reflecting differences that promised to be systematic, as morally momentous.

During the Civil War, Catholics did not fit comfortably in an anti-slavery movement that was powered by a militant Protestantism. One young Irish immigrant joined the Union army, and his decision was met with incredulity by his family. But in a note to his family, he showed a grasp that well exceeds that of the party of “1619” in our own time. “This is my country,” he wrote, “as much as the man who was born on the soil. . . . This is the first test of a modern free government in the act of sustaining itself against internal enemies . . . if it fails, then the hopes of millions fail and the designs and wishes of all tyrants will succeed . . . Irishmen and their descendants have . . . a stake in [this] nation.”

2. At Commentary, Noah Rothman makes sure we are aware of Joe Biden’s favorite lie (after all, there are so many from which to choose!). From the article:

We can only assume by invoking “Pinocchios” the president is accusing the CBO of being less than truthful. That is, if we assume that he’s referring to the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, which uses Pinocchios as a metric to evaluate relative truthfulness. It’s unclear what Biden is specifically referring to, but the Post did evaluate the president’s claim earlier this month that “all the economics show” that if you raise the minimum wage, “the whole economy rises.” Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler determined that Biden’s assertion that there is near “universal consensus” among economists in favor of his economic preferences deserved “Two Pinocchios.” Perhaps the president is confused.

The president’s claim that economists agree that there are almost downsides to passing the largest single spending bill in American history is similarly mendacious.

Larry Summers, for example, is a serious guy. As the former Clinton administration Treasury Department official and the President of Development Economics and Chief Economist at the World Bank, he should be. Summers has warned that the risk of such a dramatic influx of capital into the economy would be to invite runaway inflation — a sobering prospect given the profound political instability that follows when the money in your wallet doesn’t have the same value that it did yesterday. Olivier Blanchard, a former chair of the economics department at MIT, agrees with Summers. “This would not be overheating,” he said of the proposed COVID relief package, “it would be starting a fire.” Some, including former members of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, have recommended legislative triggers in the relief bill that would close off additional spending if the economic recovery beings to pick up steam.

3. More Commentary, as Christine Rosen looks for Socialism’s soul, and finds nothing there. From the piece:

Is dignity to be found in paying people for the tasks they perform in their private lives? Or paying them for raising their children (as even Republican Senator Mitt Romney has suggested with his recent child allowance proposal?) Or can dignity only occur when the government pays everyone an income regardless of whether or not they work at all?

One need not idealize the Sisyphean tasks of daily life — the cleaning, cooking, and caring for others — to understand that doing them has a worth not measurable in dollars. But context matters. Socialists like Federici would prefer that the context always be political. In their view, no private act is without political significance. Therefore, nothing one chooses to do in one’s home should be free from government intervention (and ideally, payment).

In practice, Federici’s approach suffers from the same totalizing worldview as the capitalists she excoriates.

For socialists like Federici (and for an increasing number of progressive activists who embrace such ideas), private acts can be made meaningful only if they are put to political purpose, namely, the destruction of capitalism. As Federici argued in a 1975 essay, “Wages Against Housework”: “To say that we want wages for housework is to expose the fact that housework is already money for capital, that capital has made and makes money out of our cooking, smiling, [expletive that describes sexual intercourse].”

4. At Gatestone Institute, Richard Kemp finds a generation that has been duped by the bigotry of BDS. From the beginning of the piece:

Yet again we approach the depths of the annual Jew Hate Week around the world. Its organizers know better than to call it what it is. They brand their hatefest “Israel Apartheid Week”, but their true meaning and purpose is blindingly obvious. Since its early festerings in Toronto in 2005, Jew Hate Week has inflicted itself on the world, polluting universities from America to Australia and from South Africa to Northern Ireland.

Held on campuses at around this time each year, Jew Hate Week is the racist Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s flagship event for subverting university students to their malevolent cause. Palestinian-led, at the forefront of BDS are Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and War on Want in the UK. Democrat Squad members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are among its main cheerleaders in America. In Britain, disgraced former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a staunch supporter as are many of his party including members of parliament.

BDS trumpet their claim to support “freedom, justice and equality” for the Palestinian people. They are less open about their desire to eradicate the Jewish state for fear they would lose backing from individuals and organizations that have a genuine desire to improve the lives of Palestinians but do not want to eliminate a whole country and its Jewish citizens.

Qatar-born Omar Barghouti, founder of BDS, has repeatedly rejected a two-state solution, instead advocating one state: “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine”. He makes clear that his definition of “Palestine” includes the entirety of the State of Israel.

5. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher is rightly alarmed by a new Gallup survey that finds America has been queering the young. From the article:

This is a staggering finding, whether you think the news is positive, negative, or neutral. This kind of change in something as fundamental as sexual orientation, in such a short period of time, is mind-blowing.

The trans part is the most shocking: between Gen X and the Millennials, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by 600 percent. Between Gen X and their children’s generation, Gen Z, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by 900 percent.

This is the effect of the collapse of cultural standards, and the propaganda campaign waged in the media and in schools. Today I had a private Zoom conference with senior clergy of a conservative American denomination. They said that the trans thing is exploding among their youth — kids who were raised in this conservative church — and pastors are struggling to know how to talk about it. One cleric said other pastors tell him that they don’t want to “lead” with preaching on transgenderism, for fear of alienating seekers. He said he tells them that you have to take that risk, because families and congregations are being hammered by propaganda all the time.

I agreed, and told him that pastors have to find the courage to tell the truth, no matter what it costs. The dominant culture knows what it believes about transgenderism, and does not hesitate to teach it, constantly. In my experience, parents don’t know what to say or do. If they don’t learn about it from the church, where will they learn it?

One cleric said that in his church’s youth group, some kids stood up and walked out when they begin to present the Church’s teachings on the body, sex, and gender. “They have been told in school that whenever you hear somebody criticize trans, that you are to stand up and walk out,” the cleric said.

I pointed out that this is what Solzhenitsyn told his followers in the Soviet Union to do when confronted with lies: stand up and walk out. Amazing that the other side is using the same tactics against the church!

6. At Law & Liberty, David Schaeffer attacks the infantilizing of minority students. From the essay:

The Ebonics controversy is now passé. Instead, the cutting edge in education theory is led by a scholar who argues that grading students on the basis of the quality of their work, rather than their perceived “effort” or the sheer quantity of their submissions, is inherently racist and a major contributor to inferior academic performance by black students. The leading proponent of this position is Asao Inoue, Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion for the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University. He is the 2019 Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, a past member of the CCCC Executive Committee, and the Executive Board of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The CCCC has itself awarded Inoue two “Outstanding Book” awards for publications over the past half-dozen years.

As is to be expected of a scholar of such repute, Professor Inoue supplements his base salary and royalties by periodically making the rounds of the college lecture circuit. On January 21 Inoue offered a Zoom lecture, sponsored by several departments at the College of the Holy Cross (where I teach), and attended by a sizable number of faculty and administrators from Holy Cross and other academic institutions, devoted to explaining how to use what he calls “Labor-Based Grading Contracts for Socially Just Teaching.”

Inoue began his presentation by calling for the audience to engage in a ten-minute pause to engage in “mindfulness” (an unusual step for a lecturer, for sure). He then offered a talk, the character of which can be illustrated by some of the PowerPoint slides on which he relied. Following an initial slide that carried the simple legend “Short Argument about White Language Supremacy and Standards for Grading,” the next one offered a unidirectional flow chart (under the heading “Language Travels with People”), illustrated by balloons reading (from left to right) “Language,” “People,” “Language Standards,” “Good Writing,” (the latter phrase in scare quotes), and “White Supremacy.” I’ll cite just one more here: “Bottom Line: in courses that use and teach writing, if you use a single standard to grade student writing, then you reproduce white language supremacy.” (Inoue, it might be noted here, is not himself black — his parents were of Japanese and European ancestry — but he considers himself a sort of honorary black person, since as a young child he lived in a poor black neighborhood.)

7. At The College Fix, the great Jennifer Kabbany reports on a Harvard alumni club cancelling an event because it featured an expert on . . . cancelling. From the beginning of the piece:

Harvard Business School Club of New York has cancelled an event set to feature James Lindsay  —  an expert on cancel culture.

Lindsay is co-author of the 2020 book “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody,” and founder of New Discourses, a website that takes on trending educational, cultural and social justice issues with a critical eye.

Lindsay, who holds a PhD in mathematics, is also a member of the “grievance studies“ publishing project. He was slated to discuss “Cynical Theories” at the Harvard Business School Club event, set for March 11. But on Tuesday night, he tweeted it had been cancelled.

“Lmao! I had been invited to speak for the Harvard Business School Club of New York about Cynical Theories, and because someone was upset that I exist, they changed the moderator to their chief equity officer, Hemali Dassani, and then, when I didn’t back down, cancelled the event,” he tweeted.

8. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley J. Birzer, is on a Robert Nisbet kick, and discusses the importance of his 1939 dissertation. From the essay:

Though not awarded the degree of Ph.D. until February 1940, Nisbet had actually written and completed his dissertation, “The Social Group in French Thought,” rather speedily, beginning it in January 1939 and finishing it a mere six months later, in July 1939, thus allowing Nisbet to become a full-time instructor at Berkeley in the autumn of 1939. “Would it be a better dissertation had I had the two or so years which normally go into dissertation writing?” Nisbet asked in 1980. “Possibly. But who ever knows for sure?” he answered himself, noting that “I might very well have become entangled in ramifications, byways, complexities and subtleties to such a degree that the work would never have been completed.” Further, Nisbet stressed, there existed nothing original in the dissertation. “All that I will lay claim to (and I am borrowing from Pasteur’s celebrated remark) is a mind that had somehow become sufficiently prepared by the end of 1937 to be favored by chance: in this instance the sheer chance of one day coming upon the writings of French conservatives in the Berkeley library,” he claimed. “All else has flowed from this chance encounter.” As such, Nisbet knew that he had gained as much from his library work with Teggart as he had from his courses. “I really think I learned more from Teggart by book-running, with its inevitable and cherished moments of conversation, than by taking seminars from him.” Again and again, Nisbet proclaimed the brilliance of Teggart. “He was the most erudite man I have ever known, and exhibition of this particular strength came as naturally to him as breathing.”

Contrary to Nisbet’s customary humility, the dissertation is a tour de force, a well-researched and complex, interlocking series of intellectual biographical sketches, tracing Western thought from the high Middle Ages through the thought of Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Louis de Bonald, Félicité Robert de Lamennais, Auguste Comte, Frederic LePlay, and Emile Durkheim, with sidenotes on other vital figures such as Joseph de Maistre. The thinkers from Bonald through de Maistre constituted as a sort of “Reactionary Enlightenment.” Though Nisbet would publish his most famous work, The Quest for Community, fourteen years later, that book would not have been possible had it not been for the dissertation. And yet the two works are unlike enough to consider the dissertation on its own fine merits. It should be remembered, Robert Alexander Nisbet was only twenty-six when he wrote the dissertation, and he did so at the end of only three years of graduate work. It was, he admitted years later, a sort of “Hail Mary.”

9. Double Dose of Double-B: Professor Birzer follows with another Nisbet essay for TIC, diving deeper into the dissertation. From the beginning of the essay:

Robert Nisbet’s dissertation began by lamenting that the history of freedom has been written from the standpoint of the individual person rather than from the standpoint of the group — that is, the intermediary institutions of family, church, community, club, union, and voluntary association. Yet, noted Nisbet, rarely do we find in actual reality the individual abstracted from a myriad of groups to which he belongs. Though he did not self-identify this way, Nisbet was writing as a humanist and as a personalist. After all, he wrote, “it was not the individual, asserting his rights and freedom, that constituted a threat to state omnipotence; it was the assemblage of feudal groups, the gilds, corporations, the Church, and even the powerful families, which constituted the real menace.” Taking his cue from the French philosophers whom he so admired, Nisbet took his analysis even further, proclaiming: “Only by his membership in the group does he become a social reality.”

Nisbet, much like his contemporary, Christopher Dawson, argued that medieval Western society was not merely pluralistic, but so much so that one might correctly dismiss the power of large political entities as essentially non-existent. Yet, in a society and era that was, for all intents and purposes, stateless, the individual did not roam freely. Rather, each individual belonged not merely to a plethora of intermediary institutions, but he was also essentially corporate by his very nature of belonging. Thus, “personality identity was expressed in terms of what a man belonged to, not what he was” with medieval life being “nothing so much as a complex of fellowships.” From the Roman republican inheritance of family, the medieval accepted patriarchy and the supremacy — in political and legal matters — of the man. Additionally, it related almost all things in society to kinship, whether that kinship be biological or fictive. “Most of the associations, like the feudal fief, were contractual in origin,” Nisbet argued, “nevertheless in structure and function, as well as aim, they were high suggestive of kinship organization.” Members of the various organizations pledged loyalty to one another, thus binding them to the new as well as to the eternal. Consequently, law was based on customs, norms, mores, and habits. Indeed, “the idea of an absolute monarch as the source of law and as superior to law was wholly alien to medieval civilization,” and, therefore, “law arose out of the social life of the people, out of customs, and especially from the inner order of the associations and groups.” Law represented not sovereignty but responsibility. And, so contrary to our present world, “law was private.” Because authority and society were so pluralistic, the medieval concept of the world rejected both statism and individualism.

Baseballery

Down one rabbit hole (not Maranville) after another Your Humble Author went, stumbling into the 1918 World Series, awondering — was there a goat for the Chicago Cubs, defeated in six close games by Babe Ruth and his Red Sox?

It seems so, and he went by the name of Max Flack, who may be better known by Baseball Nerds because he once played for two different teams on the same day. About that first: On May 30, 1922, the Cubs’ outfielder was traded, straight up, to the St. Louis Cardinals for Cliff Heathcote. It so happened the transaction came while the Cards were in Chicago for a doubleheader. In the first game, which the Cubs won, 4-1, Flack went 0-for-4 with an RBI (grounded out with the bases loaded), while Heathcote went hitless in three at bats.

How such numbers motivated the franchises to seek the others’ outfielders is a mystery, but between the games the deal was made, and Flack and Heathcote swapped clubhouses and uniforms. The new duds provided a speck of spark: Flack went 1-for-4, while Heathcote went 2-for-4. The Cubs took the second game too, prevailing 3-1.

About that 1918 World Series . . . in which a smart play here, an avoided play there, might very well have turned the affair into something for the Windy City to celebrate.

In Game 4, played in Beantown, the Sox — having won two of the first three contests — would add their third win: a single, a passed ball, and a throwing error in the bottom of the 8th Inning gave the home team its go-ahead and winning run. 3-2 was the final score. A most interesting thing happened during the game though: For the first and only time in World Series history, a man was picked off twice in one game. That man was Max Flack. In a close game, every screw-up matters.

Chicago won the next day, but with the Series on the line for Game 6, Flack — who was the considered the NL’s best defensive right fielder — had another miscue. It was a biggie: In the bottom of the 3rd Inning, he dropped George Whiteman’s line drive, allowing two Red Sox runs. They were the only runs Boston would get, or need, that day, as they clinched the World Championship, prevailing 2-1, courtesy of Carl Mays’ complete-game three-hitter.

Some ne’er-do-wells from the infamous Black Sox — the other Chicago team — claimed it was Flacks’ play in 1918 that served as an inspiration for their throwing the 1919 World Series. An intriguing claim — but one never proven.

A Dios

A sweet woman, a family member of a colleague, has passed away. Would you in your prayers remember her, so that she made indeed rest in God’s eternal and beloved peace? Also the same, on his anniversary, for WFB? Many thanks for this.

May The Ancient of Days Watch Over You,

Jack Fowler, who is reachable until the day comes when he is not, at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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