Dear Weekend Jolter,
From the deep recesses of the cartoon archives inside this fevered brain is located that famous Bugs Bunny story of the insufferable toddler who wanted an Easter egg. It’s recalled courtesy of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, a modern-day Stinky who — with the aid of family members and various human prop-makers — has emerged as the new prototype for a brat. Surely she’s the girl who, if they could get another chance at being 16, Hillary and Elizabeth and Alyssa Milano would emulate.
Our Fearless Leader, Mr. Lowry, urges readers to pay no heed to the bopper’s beratings. From his column:
Kids are powerful pawns. The catchphrase “for the children” has a seductive political appeal, while kids offer their adult supporters a handy two-step. The same people who say, “The world must heed this 16-year-old girl” will turn around and say to anyone who pushes back, “How dare you criticize a 16-year-old girl?” (I can feel the tweets filling up my mentions right now.)
There’s a reason that we don’t look to teenagers for guidance on fraught issues of public policy. With very rare exceptions — think, say, the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who was a child prodigy — kids have nothing interesting to say to us. They just repeat back what they’ve been told by adults, with less nuance and maturity.
Much of the climate advocacy of young people boils down to the plaint that all parents know well: “I want it, and I want it now.” As one headline on a National Geographic story put it, “Kids’ world climate strikes demand that warming stop, fast.”
Behind the foot-stomping is the idea that a long-running global phenomenon could be quickly stopped, if only adults cared as much as the kids did. This fails to account for such recalcitrant factors as costs and complexity, but when do children ever think of those? (And who can blame them? They’re children.)
Instead, the youthful climate activists claim they’ve been sold out by their elders. Greta Thunberg put it with her usual accusatory starkness at the U.N.: “You are failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”
And then Kyle Smith, who is awfully good at these things, finds the Swedish high-schooler to be a cross between Lisa Simpson and . . . Bane. Wow. From his piece:
At any given moment tens of millions of teens are throwing tens of millions of tantrums about tens of millions of things — I want the iPhone 11XC3PO! I want a hot-pink Mustang! — yet the one CNN deems worthy of being taken seriously is the one who says, “I want to restructure the world economy, and I want it done yesterday, you jerks!”
Thunberg — think Lisa Simpson crossed with Bane — told the United Nations, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Nah. On the contrary, Thunberg’s life has coincided with what are almost certainly the 16 best years in the entire history of humanity. If she wants to talk hard times, wait till she hears about my childhood, when grown-ups thought it was perfectly fine to move millions of machines around that spewed lead into their kids’ lungs. And mine of course, was the luckiest of all generations to that point.
Thunberg sailed to the U.S. on her famously eco-friendly yacht Publicity Stunt, which we later learned required two Europeans to fly over here to retrieve it. In the gonzo math of climate change, two flights plus a water crossing produce fewer moral emissions than one flight. The Thunbergians declared she would make up for this by buying climate credits, which is also what Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio say when they’re getting on a Gulfstream to fly to their next conference. If she just wanted to deliver a speech, though, why didn’t she spend the time it takes to cross the Atlantic planting trees instead and then speak unto us all from her bedroom? Maybe because “teen uploads YouTube video” is a stretch for even CNN to label BREAKING.
(Question never to ask: Hey Kyle, who am I a cross-between of?) Moving along, quickly now because we have so much awaiting, send the author of this missive your favorite nagging / scolding / haranguing scene from a movie and it will be featured in the next edition of WJ. Which this week just so happens to be brought to you by . . .
The National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise!
Cabins are going like hot cakes. As in best-selling hot cakes . . . sold at the Hot Cake Convention. You need to be there, so visit nrcruise.com for complete information.
1. We argue that the president’s pressing of Ukrainian officials to investigate sweetheart deals by Hunter Biden is wrong. From the editorial:
Most Trump news cycles pass faster than a summer storm, but this one will last a while.
After initially denying it, the president has conceded that he encouraged Ukraine’s president to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate running against his reelection.
To have done so was wrong, plain and simple. American political campaigns should be American affairs. Yet a presidential act can be wrong, even blatantly wrong, without justifying impeachment. Democrats in the grip of an anti-Trump fever currently are ignoring that distinction.
Of course there ought to be scrutiny of Vice President Biden’s actions. On a level media playing field, that would long ago have been on the front burner. It is one thing for politicians to apply different standards to scandals depending on which party they affect. The supposedly neutral press should ask itself how it would be reacting if Trump had squeezed a foreign government by threatening to withhold public funds unless a prosecutor investigating a company tied to one of his sons were fired — regardless of the merits.
There Are a Mere 39 Days . . .
. . . until the formal publication of Rich Lowry’s new book, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. Why might you want to order a copy, pre-publication? Because it is a terrific work. Not interested in taking my word? How about the word of Tom Cotton? The Senator from Arkansas has this to say about the book:
America is an idea, but it’s not only an idea: America is also a nation with flesh-and-blood people, particular lands with real borders, and its own history and culture. Rich Lowry’s learned and brisk The Case for Nationalism defends these unfashionable truths against transnational assault from both the left and the right while reminding us that nationalist sentiments are essential to self-government.”
You can order the book from Amazon, right here, and expect its delivery on pub day (which will be November 5).
Ripe and Juicy, We’ve Plucked 14 Red Delicious Apples from the National Review Orchards. Enjoy!
1. Professor Victor Davis Hanson knows something about lectures, and he’s not a fan of privileged scolding coming from the likes of Warren, Beto, and their fellow Democratic presidential wannabes. From his essay:
Socialist Bernie Sanders is now a newly minted multimillionaire. He owns three homes. His wife, a former president of a small college left her campus in such financial shambles that the FBI was called in to investigate how it was that she had done so well while her college was forced to shut down owing to the insurmountable financial difficulties that had accumulated under Mrs. Sanders’s leadership. (The FBI declined to recommend charges.) Sanders flies in private jets around the country to campaign stops, preaching the virtues of socialism, the need to significantly raise taxes on both the income and the existing wealth of the affluent, and the sins of burning so much carbon. One wonders whether he stayed in a Crimean seaside dacha on his honeymoon to the Soviet Union.
Joe Biden has a long-checkered history of plagiarism, intellectual theft, allowing his offices to be leveraged by his family to profit, and occasional bizarre racialist outbursts, ranging from idiotic discourses on African-American dialects and hygiene to the ubiquitous and growing non-white customer base of Delaware doughnut shops. So naturally Biden now runs for president on the themes that we are a racist nation, that integrity such as his own is needed in the Oval Office, and that greedy wannabe-rich people like his brother or son need to be called to account. In between boasts that he’d beat Trump like a drum or that he’d like to take Trump behind the proverbial gym for a whipping, Joe lectures Americans on the loss of civility and bipartisan respect.
2. More VDH: He predicts the efforts to impeach the president will likely strengthen his political chances. From his Corner post:
The VP emeritus had the temerity, in Biden signature mock-heroic style, to boast of his intervention — he was impressing a foreign-policy symposium with his seasoned clout. “Well, son a b****, he got fired,” he bragged, prompting laughter from symposium attendees. Note that he was also emphasizing his own absolute exemption from any legal repercussions for such a blatant and explicit quid pro quo gambit.
Not just Trump supporters but the public is baffled by the apparent asymmetry in the application of the law, or at least the intention to apply the law. The Biden-Obama experience between 2009 and 2017 apparently had set a de facto precedent of what does and what does not constitute collusion.
It is apparently not improper for the president of the United States, caught in a hot-mic exchange with the Russian president, to offer a quid pro quo deal in which the United States suggests it will pull back from missile-defense agendas in exchange for good Russian behavior designed to help the president and hurt his opponent in the forthcoming reelection. And such a deal, from what we can tell, was then more or less carried out, as subsequent events suggest.
3. Andy McCarthy provides the knowledgeable guide to the Whistleblower Frenzy. From his analysis:
In conducting foreign affairs, the president may make commitments to other foreign leaders (subject to the Constitution’s treaty clause). The president, unlike his subordinates, also has the power to disclose any classified information he chooses to disclose. Like all presidential powers, these may be abused or exercised rashly. When there is a credible allegation that they have been, that should cause all of us urgent concern.
To take one example, President Obama misled Congress and the nation regarding the concessions he made to Iran in connection with the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The Obama administration, moreover, structured the arrangement so that commitments to Iran were withheld from Congress — as if what were at stake were understandings strictly between Tehran and the U.N.’s monitor (the International Atomic Energy Agency), somehow of no concern to the United States. Representative Schiff’s skepticism about Iran became muted when a Democratic president cut the deal. Yet these cloak-and-dagger arrangements with a jihadist regime that proclaims itself America’s mortal enemy, in which a U.S. president willfully end-ran the Constitution’s treaty provisions and congressional oversight, were and remain urgent concerns for millions of Americans and most members of Congress.
So how should we evaluate the current controversy?
4. Robert VerBruggen slams Harvard’s admissions program and its “legacy” preferences as a disgrace. From the piece:
The lawsuit against Harvard claiming it discriminates against Asian applicants may or may not succeed. But even if it fails, it has done the great public service of revealing how the school’s admissions process works behind the scenes.
The school was forced to turn its admissions data over to an expert witness for the plaintiffs: Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, who analyzed the data and found that Asian applicants are far less likely to be admitted than white applicants with the same academic credentials. And now, using numbers the suit has made publicly available, Arcidiacono and two co-authors have written a disturbing report laying out how legacy, athlete, and similar preferences warp the Harvard admissions process. Much like race-based affirmative action, these policies admit hundreds of students each year who would not be accepted on the basis of their academic records. And each of Harvard’s preferences twists the school’s racial balance in a different way.
The report is a compelling illustration of how a prestigious, progressive institution departs from meritocracy to reward the wealthy and connected. There may be little the government can do about non-racial preferences, considering Harvard is a private school and there’s no law against these forms of discrimination. But healthy doses of public shame are warranted, especially given how strongly Harvard and similar Ivy League schools control the pipeline into the top echelons of American society.
5. John-Paul Pagano whales on the persistence of the anti-Semitic “blood libel.” From the article:
Despite its lethality, anti-Semitism is the form of racism most often erased, excused, and even encouraged by people who identify as “antiracist.” One explanation for this phenomenon, increasingly dangerous as harassment, vandalism, and violence against Jews rise across the West, is the failure of Holocaust education to emphasize the importance of conspiracism in Nazi ideology. For their part, soi-disant American antiracists render Jews “white” and “privileged” through a limited lens of race and power, taking an approach that is an allotrope of anti-Semitism and disqualifies Jews from concern.
So when U.S. representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar resolved to visit Israel in August to showcase to the world its peculiar evil, and it emerged that Miftah, the Palestinian non-governmental organization co-sponsoring their trip, had published on its website that Jews bake Christian blood into their matzoh, most major media ignored it. For them the story was the erosion of liberal democracy by the tag team of Trump and Netanyahu, who had barred entry to the congresswomen. There is little indication that the blood libel stirred concern on the left where just a month earlier “Never again” was intoned relentlessly about Trump’s “concentration camps” at the border.
6. Arthur Herman is adamant that America prevail in its battle with China for 5G supremacy. From his piece:
But if China becomes the 5G hegemon of the 21st century, America will be increasingly relegated to the past, rather than the future, of advanced technologies.
The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board released a report this year that stated, “Carriers to date have not demonstrated deployment capability that would deliver high speeds to large parts of the U.S. population.” The DIB warns, “The country that owns 5G will own” future innovations such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things. Under today’s policies, “that country is currently not likely to be the United States.”
China and its hand-picked 5G corporate colossus, Huawei, are poised to bestride the globe with Huawei’s version of 5G technology. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February, Huawei had more than 64 countries signed up to either use or test its 5G networks — this despite the long history of allegations that Huawei is a serial cyber and IP thief and tool of the Chinese military and intelligence services.
Today that number has grown to more than 90. More than 60 percent of Huawei’s contracts are on the European continent (some countries have more than one carrier using Huawei technology), including many leading U.S. allies.
7. Brexit: Michael Brendan Dougherty dissects the Remainer Coup. From the analysis:
That Remainer majority is imprisoning Boris Johnson as prime minister. Its continued course of voting against the executive while keeping it in place is a symbolic rejection of the political sovereignty of the British people.
An understanding of the United Kingdom’s constitution in continuity with what came before would have forced the courts to rule along the lines that Lord Doherty did in Scotland, before higher courts intervened: that the issue was non-justiciable. “In my opinion, there has been no contravention of the rule of law. Parliament is the master of its own proceedings,” he wrote. “It is for parliament to decide when it sits. Parliament can sit before and after prorogation.” Doherty noted that the prorogation was a “matter of ‘high policy’ and political judgement” that “could not be measured by legal standards.”
Instead the court invented a limit to prorogation where there was none in the statutes, thus reintroducing perhaps ten days of parliamentary debate to the longest sitting Parliament in living memory — and one of the least accomplished (see: constitutional crisis, above). Effectively, this supreme court, which is barely a decade old, has invented for itself the right of judicial review, meaning Parliament is no longer an unencumbered legal sovereign.
8. Kat Timpf is smoking mad about how Rep. Rashida Tlaib — who is “willfully lying or totally stupid” — performed at an anti-vaping Congressional hearing. From the piece:
But the stupid doesn’t end there. No, elsewhere in the interview, Tlaib literally said that secondhand smoke was “worse than directly smoking cigarettes.”
Again: What? Now, not only is that obviously not true, I am also having a hard time understanding how anyone could ever (ever!) even possibly think that it were. I mean, if that were the case, doctors would be advising children in households with parents who smoke to just start lighting up themselves, because puffing on cigs directly would at least be better for their health than just breathing it secondhand.
Oh, and Tlaib also seemed to suggest that vaping is just as harmful as smoking in the following exchange:
Porter: “The truth for me is that I quit smoking with e-cigarettes and so did eight million other people.”
Tlaib: “You’re still smoking, ma’am. You’re still smoking.”
Hey, Tlaib? No, she’s not, and suggesting that she is is just as ridiculous as claiming that secondhand smoke is worse than smoking. Although I’m sure it’s not good for you, the expert consensus is that it is, at least, better. A study conducted by (known den of conspiracy theorists) Harvard found that vaping is “almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes,” and a Public Health England study found that it is 95 percent less harmful. (For more information on the actual facts on vaping safety, click here.)
9. Armond White checks out Socrates, another attempt by the Left to use kids to promote political agendas. From his review:
Using children to push political agendas, the most shameless form of propaganda, characterizes the new movie Socrates, a Brazilian coming-of-age film in which a suddenly orphaned black 15-year-old ironically named Socrates (Christian Malheiros) learns how the cruel world works at the same time that he realizes he is “different.”
Socrates, set in Sao Paulo’s teeming slums, combines poverty porn with identity politics — imagine an unhysterical version of Precious. Director Alexandre Moratto pushes all the social-justice warrior buttons, but the film’s primary tool is Socrates himself. Malheiros’s innocence and clearly readable passions are spotlighted as an idealized form of human experience — the more pathetic, the better. An impoverished black, a social cast-off and virginal romantic, a disenfranchised teen, Socrates has a purity that’s meant to convince us that his aspirations, as well as the fears he feels, all derive from innate wisdom that cannot be questioned.
Just as Socrates is full of pathos, is it also humorless. We’re meant to feel pity and then repent of our own shame. But while watching the handsome kid’s suffering, I also noticed the filmmaker’s tendency to sanctify his experience as somehow more virtuous than that of other, older characters (especially a bovine, maternal janitoress and the defensive gay youth who becomes Socrates’s first inamorato, a heartbreaker who initiates the teenager’s rite of passage). Like so many youths, Socrates’s most damaging pathology is being convinced that he is pathetic.
10. Another university speech code gets a judicial haymaker, which makes David French happy. From the analysis:
Last year, a group called Speech First filed an important lawsuit against the University of Michigan, challenging the content of the university’s bullying and harassment policy and its bias-response team’s procedures. The district court denied Speech First’s request for an injunction, holding in part that the group lacked standing to challenge the policy. Under the law, a court will not grant standing to a plaintiff in the absence of what’s called an “injury in fact,” and the question was whether the members of Speech First had suffered an “objective chill” to their free-speech rights or a mere “subjective chill.” For the chill to be objective, there must be proof that a “concrete harm” (enforcement of a statute or regulation) “occurred or is imminent.” If the plaintiff is concerned merely with the defendant’s “data-gathering activity,” and can’t meet the “concrete harm” standard, then the chill is subjective.
Make sense? To put it as plainly as possible, Michigan argued that the courts should move along — that there was nothing to see here because the bias-response team itself couldn’t punish anyone. Speech First said that actually, there was a problem, because the bias-response process itself could act as a form of punishment, and the team could still refer incidents to those with power to explicitly punish students.
Yesterday, in a decision with national implications, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Speech First, reversed the district court and ordered it to reconsider the group’s request for an injunction. Its ruling recognized the obvious power of the bias-response team:
The Response Team’s ability to make referrals — i.e., to inform OSCR or the police about reported conduct — is a real consequence that objectively chills speech. The referral itself does not punish a student — the referral is not, for example, a criminal conviction or expulsion. But the referral subjects students to processes which could lead to those punishments. The referral initiates the formal investigative process, which itself is chilling even if it does not result in a finding of responsibility or criminality.
11. Madeleine Kearns takes on the lefties’ anti-straw (and plastic bag) jihad. From her piece:
Did you know, for instance, that the life cycle of pulp and paper is the third largest cause of air, water, and land pollution in the United States, releasing over 100 million kilograms of toxins per annum? Or that around 10 percent more energy is required to create a paper bag than a plastic one, and around 4 percent more water? Paper is also made of trees, as you well know — which play a crucial role in absorbing carbon dioxide.
Despite this, Seattle banned plastic straws in July 2018, as have many corporate greens. Starbucks is phasing out plastic straws by 2020. MacDonald’s is moving to ban them in the U.K. and Ireland. Alaska Airlines is also ditching them. Will this change the weather and restore the climate to harmony? Not if the ban on single-use plastic bags are anything to go by.
When California banned single-use plastic bags in 2016, the state saw a reduction of 40 million pounds of plastic per year. However, a social scientist who researched that in 2019 found that it had inadvertently eliminated in-house recycling (i.e., using a plastic bag a second or third time for another purpose). That, in turn, resulted in the increase of trash bags by 12 million pounds. The study’s author added that to overlook this fact was to “overstate the regulation’s welfare gains.”
Similarly, after the Scottish government brought in a plastic-bag tax, it conducted a two-year investigation, published in 2005, comparing the life cycles of a single plastic bag with that of a paper bag. The conclusion was that a “paper bag has a more adverse impact than a plastic bag for most of the environmental issues considered.” A better response, evidently, would have been to try to encourage consumers to use plastic bags multiple times. In 2002, Ireland managed to do precisely that, reducing plastic-bag use per person per year from 328 to 21.
Billy Mays Time: But Wait, There’s More. Kevin Williamson offers the rebuttal that real men don’t need to suck their drinks through a tube.
Straws, like shorts in public if you are not actually in Bermuda, are for children.
You know what kind of grown man uses a straw? The guy who is watching something loud and obnoxious on his phone in public without headphones. In shorts. Like it’s normal. Like he shouldn’t be murdered on the spot.
Don’t be that guy, is my advice.
The Final Straw: To which Maddy rejoinders (is that a verb?) from the female perspective.
First, Kevin does not wear lipstick. For if he did, he would know that straws play an essential role in preventing the smudging and smearing, not of one’s character (since, in fairness, he does know about that), but of one’s facial polish.
Second, Kevin does not drink smoothies. For again, if he did, he would know that an unwanted purple mustache would probably accompany his — what was it? — pledge to “drink like a functional adult who can lift a glass to his face.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is desperately trying to apologize for the multiple times he appeared in blackface. He has asked for forgiveness, blaming his behavior on the fact that he comes from “a place of privilege.” But now, he adds, “I have to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot.”
Karen Wang, of Vancouver, British Columbia, doesn’t come from a place of privilege. She emigrated from mainland China in 1999 at age 23 and has built a respected day-care business. Last January, while running for Parliament as a candidate representing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a special election, she was suddenly accused of racism. The Liberal Party panicked and within 24 hours forced her resignation, leaving her reputation in tatters.
What was Karen Wang’s sin? One of her campaign volunteers wrote and posted a WeChat message in Mandarin that translates as:
If we can increase the voting rate, as the only [ethnic] Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes, I will easily win the by-election, control the election race, and make history! My opponent in this by election is the NDP candidate [Jasmeet] Singh of Indian descent!
Convinced that she was a victim of a misunderstanding, she asked Prime Minister Trudeau, who is her party’s leader, for a second chance. He spurned her, and the party filled the slot with another candidate who went on to lose the February 25 race by 13 points.
13. Kevin Williamson drills down and reveals a clear alternative to war: Fracking. From his piece:
If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.
The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as “fracking” — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.
When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand — and more realistic options — when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world.
14. Brian Allen finds the Winslow Homer exhibit at Harvard’s Fogg Museum is pretty good, and discovers that “fake news” was alive and well in Civil War America. From his review:
Whenever you look at art by Homer, it’s worth remembering that he became famous as a newspaper and magazine illustrator from the late 1850s through the 1870s. He was a star illustrator of the two marquee news magazines, Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Monthly, before the technology of mass producing a photograph was developed. And what made him more famous is his coverage of the biggest news story in America: the Civil War.
The show is a good balance of illustrations, watercolors, paintings, and photographs, and they’re not only separate media but reinforcing ones. News from the War, a Homer illustration that appeared in June 1862, is one of the early works in the show. Yes, Homer was covering a grisly war, but the eternally narcissistic news business — reporters like nothing more than a story about themselves — could take time to celebrate its own acumen in getting good stories from the battlefield to the hearth.
Homer is a designer of genius. It’s seven vignettes, so it’s complicated. He organizes it through effective black and white contrasts and a cunning talent for using passages of symmetry and asymmetry to keep things both lively and moving in a coherent way. News comes by letter, bugle, word of mouth, the new technology of railroads, and, emphatically, via the gutsy reporter, who happens to be Homer himself.
Is Elizabeth Warren the New Baldrick? The October 14, 2019, (Special!) Issue of National Review Takes on the Prexy Wannabe Who Has a Plan for Just about Everything.
She reminds one of Blackadder’s sidekick and his penchant for announcing cunning plans, no? So, the editors of your favorite magazine have assembled a dozen pieces investigating the many ways the presidential hopeful wants to remake America and spend trillions in the process of doing so. Shall we highlight four of those efforts? Yes!
1. Kyle Smith leas off the shebang with a profile of the shifting identities of the “Indian from Outer Space.” From the beginning of the piece:
“Fauxcahontas” and “Lieawatha” are serviceable enough as one-word descriptors for Elizabeth Warren. But her decades-long phony insistence on Cherokee identity, which is to identity politics what stolen valor is to military service, is just part of her oleaginous, changeling habit of cycling through one persona after another. She’s Chief Spitting Bull, the lady with a J.D. in B.S.
Whether she’s claiming her white parents had to elope because of racism or, five years after the matter was litigated, falsely asserting that Michael Brown “was murdered” in Ferguson, Mo., or stating she was the “first nursing mother to take a bar exam in the state of New Jersey,” as though anyone kept tabs on such strange details (“Excuse me, madam, are you lactating at the moment? I’m making a record book”), Elizabeth Warren is always ready with a load of bull. Warren will say whatever is convenient for her ambitions of the moment. “I am not running for president of the United States,” Senator Warren said last March on Meet the Press. “I am running for the United States Senate in 2018 in Massachusetts.” The month after she was reelected she announced she was forming an exploratory committee to mull a presidential run.
And note the false, strained way she did get in the presidential race, in that in famous video. She starts recording. Then—hello, soon-to-be-conquered Earth people, I understand you like brewed malt beverages on this planet—she immediately takes a break to get a beer. Her programmers in the Nebula 235X star system have told her that ordinary Earthfolk are intimidated by proper grammar, so she phrases this entirely natural and spontaneous decision like this: “Hold on a sec, I’m gonna get me, uh, a beer.” Then she follows up with this classic: “Hey! My husband Bruce is now in here!” Her husband was in her house? Where does she normally keep him, in the shed with the lawnmower? Warren isn’t just phony, she’s creepy and alien and able to change form to play on your nightmares: She’s It of the Charles. Occasionally she lets the mask slip, as when, in Greenwich Village, she positioned herself as the candidate opposed to half the population. “We’re not here today because of famous arches or famous men,” she said. “In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.” Huh? Warren must be the first candidate in history to think that winning the working class means deriding the sex that does most of the grunt labor in this country. Should she make it to the general election, and advisers somberly inform her that she is losing the men’s vote by 97 points and that all of her male supporters wear Capris and live in Brooklyn, I wonder what her Dukakis-in-a-tank response will be. My guess is it’ll involve a mis begotten attempt to imbibe tequila during a show at Bada Bing’s, where she somehow mis pronounces the word “bro.” Someone will ask who her favorite member of the New England Patriots is and she’ll say something like “Eli Kaepernick.”
2. Bradley Smith and Luke Wachob see proposals by the self-proclaimed anti-corruption advocate as limiting the ability of citizens to hold government (of, by, and for . . . the bureaucrats?) accountable. From the piece:
In 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing legislation that would restrict, tax, regulate, and otherwise impede the activities of Americans who want to advocate public policies, just as she herself did ten years ago. She calls it a plan to end corruption. It won’t work; in fact it will hurt the very people it is supposed to help, and will establish deeply rooted government bureaucrats who can shut down—or even jail—Americans who speak out or support groups that speak out. Whether or not it becomes law, the proposal offers a window into the way all too many progressives (and even some conservatives) approach the regulation of politics and political speech.
Senator Warren frames her measure as an attack on the influence of the wealthy, but it is really an attack on the influence of anyone outside government. The proposed law would regulate as lobbying virtually any activity intended to influence any government action. It would tax any organization, no matter how large, that spends more than $500,000 per year on “lobbying.” Anything more than that is “excessive,” she writes.
Does that look good on paper? It won’t in practice. For comparison’s sake, note that the federal government spent over $4 trillion in 2018 alone. Federal regulations impose additional costs on Americans each year amounting to trillions of dollars. Major government projects are enormously expensive: The Trump administration recently diverted $3.6 billion in military funds for the construction of a border wall, and that only scratches the surface of the wall’s total projected cost.
3. American energy independence will go up in smoke, warns Shawn Regan, if Warren’s threatened what-the-frack attack on the great boon to our economy and self-sufficiency takes place. From the piece:
If there were any doubts about the particulars of Elizabeth Warren’s energy-policy plans after the recent CNN climate town hall, she cleared them up in a single tweet. “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands,” she wrote. “And I will ban fracking—everywhere.”
Throughout her campaign, Warren has made her plan to end new federal fossil-fuel leases well known. With that tweet, she also became one of only a few candidates— including Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris—to call for a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing, a technique, used to extract oil and gas from shale formations, that has revolutionized America’s energy industry.
Presidential candidates often put forward fanciful policy proposals knowing full well that Congress will be unable or unwilling to pass them. Behold, for example, the climate-policy arms race of the Democratic presidential primary. Nearly every candidate in the crowded field has proposed some form of a multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal—including everything from carbon taxes and federal job guarantees to massive new spending programs—that almost certainly would not pass in the 117th Congress.
But executive action is different, which is why pledges such as Warren’s are cause for concern. For the moment, set aside that presidents lack the authority to singlehandedly outlaw an entire industry such as fracking, which mostly occurs on private lands. Presidents do have significant authority to shift federal energy policy, especially on public lands and waters. So let’s drill down on—er, gently ask—what Warren’s anti-fracking, anti-drilling plan would mean in practice.
4. Carrie Lukas finds Warren’s day-care plan — which emphasizes strangers and centers over traditional help (from family and relatives) — is expensive and harmful. From the piece:
Yet the economic problems aren’t the main reason to oppose the plan. Far more important would be its harmful impact on families and communities.
By making day-care centers free or very low-cost, Warren’s plan would induce more families to rely on formal child-care providers. Currently, while most families with young children have child-care needs, only a minority of them use formal daycare centers. As of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60 percent of mothers with children under age six worked outside the home. But Pew Social Trends reported that just shy of half (48 percent) of children under age six with working parents were enrolled in preschool or day care as of 2015. Nearly as many (45 percent) depended on family members other than parents to take care of them, and a nanny or babysitter looked after 16 percent.
Many of these extended-family caregivers were likely living in the same home as the young children they were helping to raise. That’s an underdiscussed reality of today’s family life: Pew Research Center reports that just 12 percent of households were multigenerational in 1980, but that number has risen across all racial groups. Today, an estimated one in five Americans live in a multigenerational household.
There are many reasons that different generations end up living in the same household, and not all are positive: a parent’s addiction problem that leaves grandparents caring for young children; adult children’s inability to find employment that enables them to leave home; an elderly family member’s disability that requires extensive care. But Warren ought to know firsthand that these multigenerational living situations can also be beneficial, both for young families that benefit from having more caregivers and for the older caregivers, who remain more engaged and engrained in family life than they would be on their own. Such relationships would
Lest We Forget, Adios Kevin
This from The Week in the new issue. It’s just a graf, but of our friend, a book — volumes — could be written. Hmmm, maybe some day . . .
One of NR’s strengths is the long tenure of many colleagues. Such comes with a downside: When one moves on, it comes as a blow. Kevin Longstreet, longtime ad salesman, life of any party, joy of any office scrum, leaves us after 30-plus years to seek new ventures. He was a favorite of Bill Buckley, who had competition from his wife. Scene from an NR cruise: At the port in Harwich (U.K.), Pat Buckley—steamed that WFB had gotten them onto the wrong bus (to the Tower of London)—emerged from a frustrating sojourn and, before scores of gang-planking subscribers, loudly faux-raged that she would seek a divorce . . . to be followed by marriage to Young Kevin. Never refusing a company task, Kevin expressed his willingness. There was always a new NR duty for him: Over the decades, the former NR mailroom jockey and colorful, caper-pulling, street-smart, ready-to-rumble Yankee fan had roles as the right hand to publisher Ed Capano, first mate on scores of NR cruises, successful ad salesman, friend to all. No matter the station of those he encountered, Kevin shared his nature and rogue’s humor, generously and equally, and got the same in return. The anecdotes are legend. Another from an NR sailing: Kevin picked up cruise speaker Karl Rove from a Mexican airport, after which gun-toting cops surrounded and stopped their car, from which sprang Kevin, firing expletives and brandishing intimidation and threats. The federales backed down. On the ship, an admiring Rove regaled the crowd about his new BFF with a talent for getting things done. Deep friendships remain, as do heavy hearts. We wish him godspeed.
1. Mes amigos at Babalú Blog published Dr. Jose Azel’s essay, “Why I am an Exile and not an Immigrant.” From the piece:
For exiles, returning is not an option ruled by personal conditions or motives. It is an action centered on the conditions affecting their countrymen. Going into exile is a political statement against collective injustice. When a political exile surrenders to his personal melancholy by returning without a fundamental change in the conditions that brought about his exit, he relinquishes the label of political exile and becomes an immigrant.
This is not a critical judgement; it is a definitional one. Often, return is the case for some Cuban exiles that, after decades of valiantly opposing oppression, have elected to visit their homeland. Many are motivated by humanitarian reasons; to share once again, perhaps for the last time, in the company of a loved one, or to bring comfort to one in need. Consequently, the Cuban community has shifted, in some measure, from a community of political exiles to one of immigrants.
I left Cuba in 1961 as part of Operation Pedro Pan -at that time the largest exodus of unaccompanied children in the history of the Western Hemisphere- and began life in the United States with an indelible, if juvenile, idea of our individual freedoms. I vowed then never to return, until Cuba was once again free. And so, I have not returned to my birthplace, and I have never been able to visit my parents’ grave in Havana’s Colon Cemetery. This is why I am not an immigrant.
Viva Cuba Libre!
2. At City Journal, Joel Kotkin wonders if Silicon Valley’s useful idiots have sold the rope that will hang them to the California Democratic Party. From the piece:
California governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the recently passed Assembly Bill 5, which will effectively turn many contractors into employees. AB5 codifies the California Supreme Court’s unanimous May 2018 ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles that many contractors should be treated as employees. The legislation’s prime backers are the state’s unions, which see it as an ideal way to organize now out-of-reach workers.
The new measure is potentially devastating, though, for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, all built around part-time employees, and none yet profitable. Many other tech firms—including profitable ones—use contractors for everything from app development to catering to cleaning. As many as 2 million Californians are employed in so-called gig work. If AB5 passes, job losses won’t just be felt by the ride-hailing firms but also by many other businesses, including newspapers, small trucking firms, some medical providers, and even franchise owners.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Silicon Valley, like many industries, placed its bets on both political parties. Moderate Republicans like Pete McCloskey, Ed Zschau, and Tom Campbell routinely won congressional elections, as did similarly minded members of the state legislature. But over the past few decades, the Valley has become politically monochromatic, with virtually no elected Republicans. Almost all contributions from Silicon Valley tech owners and employees in the 2016 and 2018 elections went to Democrats. Tech money helped Newsom outspend his GOP rival by three to one—with major contributions from former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Lauren Jobs (widow of the Apple founder) at the top of the donor list. Former Google chairman Eric Schmidt heads data efforts for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and arch-populist Elizabeth Warren. Tech employees are, if anything, more progressive-leaning in their political contributions than their corporate masters.
3. Over There: The great historian, Andrew Roberts, writing in The Daily Mail, thinks Boris Johnson must break a bad law (the “Benn Act”) for the greater good of Brexit. From his article:
The Benn Act was a very English form of coup d’etat, orchestrated by an anti-Brexit faction in Parliament to subvert the clearly expressed will of the people. It is, therefore, necessary for Boris to break it to restore the proper constitutional relationship between Government, Parliament and people.
If he has the courage to do so, he will be following a distinguished path. In 1635, the MP John Hampden refused to pay the Ship Money tax – a levy collected by Charles I for outfitting his Navy – because it had not been agreed by Parliament and was unlawful. The row led to a revolt that overthrew the Stuart monarchy.
On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty – a group opposed to colonial rule in America – broke into ships owned by Britain’s East India Company to destroy a shipment of tea by throwing it into Boston harbour.
They were protesting against a British levy on tea because they believed there should be no taxation without representation. Their actions led directly to the rebellion that overthrew the colonial government in America.
Both Hampden and the Sons of Liberty were ultimately successful because their law-breaking was supported by the will of the people.
In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi broke the law by leading a march that ended with him picking up a small amount of salt from marshes on the India coast in contravention of Britain’s Salt Act, which prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt. The protest was a turning point in the fortunes of Indian nationalists. Seventeen years later they won independence from the Empire. There, too, the will of the people was behind Gandhi.
4. Daniel Payne at The College Fix reports on Harvard University’s instituting a policy requiring a “moderator” to be present when a high-profile speaker comes to campus, and plenty more. From the beginning of the article:
Harvard University this year has instituted a new policy regarding campus speakers, stating that certain speaking events may require a moderator to be present if the orator is controversial or “high-profile.”
Harvard College’s Dean of Students Office added language to the school’s resource guide this year stating that “groups bringing high-profile, controversial, or ‘VIP’ guests to campus must notify the DSO at least a month in advance, and that a moderator may need to attend events if the DSO finds it necessary or if a group requests one,” The Harvard Crimson reports.
These moderators, which will be drawn from either the dean’s office or from faculty and administrative personnel, will have the power to employ a “two-strike policy” at speaking events, removing any audience members who grow disruptive during an assembly.
5. You are alive in America in 1775 and . . . just who and what are you? At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer says fecund, and other things too (if there was time for it!). From this excellent piece:
Third were the thousands upon thousands of Quakers who sought an escape from the Puritans as well as the Anglicans, hoping peaceably to live their own lives as they saw fit in the 1660s and 1670s. They, of course, settled in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Fourth were the thousands upon thousands of Scots-Irish who sought an escape from all things not Scottish during the hundred years leading up to the American Revolution. They, of course, settled almost anywhere that was devoid of governmental authority. Only nominally Presbyterian, they were the least religious of the free migrants who came to the American colonies. They were also the least concentrated, coming, more often than not, clan by clan.
Fifth were the thousands upon thousands of Africans, captured as prisoners of war, and sold in the Americas. Though only involuntary indentured servants for their first fifty years in the English colonies, black Americans soon found what few rights they enjoyed narrowing and narrowing. The slave owners began, slowly at first, to change that forced indentured servitude into chattel slavery, beginning sometime around 1669.
Thus, by 1763, free Americans were, by and large, Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and very Protestant. They were also, by profession, almost exclusively involved in agriculture. It must also be noted, of course, that there were other groups living on American soil, including some Swedes, some Dutch, and a few Germans. There was also a sizeable, if dwindling, population of American Indians.
6. In The New Atlantis, Brendan Foht says that society is approaching baby manufacturing while ethicists are occupied by frivolities. From his essay:
With their schemes for human enhancement, transhumanists are bound to pay attention to any new biotechnology, and stem cell–derived gametes are no exception. A good example of a human enhancement scheme inspired by stem cell–derived gametes is the “iterated embryo selection” proposed by transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom in his 2014 bestseller Superintelligence.
His proposal is to use stem cell–derived gametes as part of a strategy for conducting eugenic selection for intelligence on dozens or hundreds of generations of embryos. (As the book’s name suggests, intelligence is the trait Bostrom is interested in, but the strategy could work with whatever heritable traits the eugenicist wants to propagate.) The in vitro eugenicists would first make embryos, either from stem cell–derived gametes or through old-fashioned IVF, and then do genetic diagnosis to find the embryos with genes for intelligence. Instead of allowing these embryos to grow into intelligent babies, the embryos would be destroyed to make stem cells, which would, in turn, be used to create gametes from which a new generation of embryos could be created, which could then be once again selected for intelligence. This process could go on for dozens of generations and would be akin to the old dream of the eugenicists — controlling human breeding the way farmers control the breeding of their animals, and with the same dramatic results.
The old eugenicists tried to do this with humans, but they were unable to succeed — most people don’t want their own reproductive choices made for them by government scientists, even if too many in the twentieth century were happy enough to see the state sterilize thousands of women and men who were deemed unfit or undesirable. Some writers, like ethics professor Nicholas Agar, have argued that reproductive technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis could allow for a “liberal eugenics” that “will allow prospective parents to look to their own values in selecting improvements for future children.” But for Bostrom the appeal of the technology of iterated embryo selection is more about its vastly greater efficiency, making it “possible to accomplish ten or more generations of selection in just a few years.” His goal is not to expand human procreative choice, but to enhance the intelligence of biological human beings so that we will stand a chance against the super-intelligent robots of the future — a scenario that makes the usual concerns accompanying reproductive technologies, like the desire of parents for genetically related children, seem rather secondary.
Bonus: We celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of National Affairs with a little attention paid to the essay by Eli Lehrer and M. Anthony Mills about the need to revitalize the American science “ecosystem” that once produced so much innovation. From their piece:
The most important factor contributing to America’s innovative success, however, is somewhat underappreciated by scholars of technology: permissionless innovation. The fact that new inventions often disrupted existing orders, and sometimes even resulted in bona fide negative externalities, rarely concerned policymakers in the 19th century. That is to say, the U.S. government didn’t regulate innovation pre-emptively. Samuel Slater, an early-19th-century textile magnate who memorized the designs of English mills, and Hannah Wilkinson, his wife and also an inventor, did not have to acquire permission from the U.S. government to build their own mills in America or deal with a guild that would stop them from replicating British mill designs. Likewise, Slater was able to dam rivers and, in some cases, create whole new villages because nothing in the law stopped him from doing so. Later in the century, Thomas Edison, America’s most famous inventor, benefited from a legal environment similarly conducive to experimentation and innovation: He could patent innovations but did not have to seek permission to develop them.
Permissionless innovation did not mean anarchy. In fact, it was possible in part because it existed within a legal framework that rewarded innovation. America’s patent system required disclosure of inventions in return for limited monopoly rights. This had the effect of expanding knowledge rather than allowing it to remain the property of certain guilds. In the process, it contributed to what economic historian B. Zorina Khan calls the “democratization of invention”: the “offering [of] secure property rights to true inventors, regardless of age, color, marital status, gender, or economic standing.”
Nor did permissionless innovation mean externalities went entirely unheeded. Eventually, Slater’s mills were regulated in several ways, as were the fruits of Edison’s electrical inventions, along with the railroad and telecommunications industries. But the initial innovations that sparked these new sectors of the economy took place without “permission.” Regulation, for the most part, remained a step behind technology; laws to regulate new technologies were implemented only after externalities became apparent. America’s permissive regulatory regime helped it become one of the most innovative countries in the world for its first century or so, even though it was decidedly inferior (in all but a few cases) to Europe when it came to producing cutting-edge science.
Well, 75 years ago this week a singular thing happened in the annals of our National Pastime: The St. Louis Browns won their sole pennant. It’s an accomplishment discussed before in this space, but we try not to let October 1 pass without recalling it, for it was on that day, the regular season’s last, that the Browns and the Tigers, tied for first (the Yankees, in first place as late as September 10, were stinkers down the stretch and were to be found distantly in third place), settled their fates. On that day, the Browns took the fourth game of the homefield stand (a sweep of the Bronx Bombers) with a 5–2 win, while the Tigers lost at home to the last-place Senators, 4–1.
The pennant was managed out of the usually hapless Browns (they’d finished in second place just twice, in 1902 and 1922) by Luke Sewell.
Here in 2019, the Baltimore Former Browns just completed their final home stand. Not once all season — as has been the amnesia-plagued ownership’s standard since the team moved to Maryland in 1954 — was the Diamond Anniversary of the franchise’s premier pennant recognized.
R.I.P.: Baseball’s oldest living former Major Leaguer, Tom Jordan — he played for the White Sox, Indians, and Browns in the mid-to-late 1940s, and even caught two games (for the White Sox) against St. Louis during the Browns’ 1944 pennant run — died last month, a few days shy of his 100th birthday.
The Old Man would have been 90 this week. Remember the departed in your prayers.
God’s Abundant Love for You and for America,
Jack Fowler, who will receive communications from any and all lingering Browns fans at email@example.com.