What a week. Mr. Wide Load here flew to Seattle for my pal’s Orthodox baptism and Easter services — I don’t think I ever spent so much time in church. Poor church! Anyway, kudos to Jason, and the deep and beautiful traditions of our Greek brothers and sisters were wondrous to behold (despite all that filioque stuff). Then from Seattle we headed to Palo Alto (really, Mountain View, CA), where Charles C.W. Cooke gave a great talk to NR friends on many aspects of the Second Amendment and the battles to protect it. And then it was on to Chicago for the final NRI Buckley Legacy event — thanks to all who attended that and all of our forums across the plains so fruited. Rich Lowry knocked it out of the park each and every time.
By the way, on Sunday last my pals J Man and C Woman and moi saw Chappaquiddick. It is a tremendous and disturbing movie. Please see it if only to remind yourself of what you already knew: that the Liberals’ hero was an utter Blankety Blank.
So, let’s pivot and check out what’s happened on NRO in the last week.
1. We reflect upon the “Next Syria Strike.” From the editorial:
We shouldn’t contemplate overthrowing Assad; we’re not in a position to accomplish that. But we should try to expand the territory held by our allies, toward the longer-term goal of a diplomatic settlement. Via carrots and sticks, we should push the Turks to work with us, their NATO ally, rather than Russia and Iran. Any of our reconstruction assistance should flow only to areas controlled by our proxies. We should back Israel in its shadow war with Iranian forces. We should exact whatever price we can, diplomatically and in increased sanctions, for the complicity of Russia and Iran in Assad’s barbarity.
1. Finally weather permits, and it happens: Ross Douthat ventures on to The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg, where they discuss his much-ballyhooed new book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism. It’s a great episode. Listen here or it’s 3 Hail Marys.
2. You want more Douthat? You got it. He and Kyle Smith crank out another fortnightly episode of Projections, in which they weigh dystopia vs. escapism in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and ponder whether Wes Anderson movies (like Isle of Dogs) amount to more than exquisitely designed dioramas. Quiet on the set! Action!
4. Then JJM takes to The Bookmonger, for a new episode in which Stuart Kells discusses his new book, The Library: A Catalogue of Wonder. Sharpen your Dewey Decimal point and listen here. (Shhh! No talking — just listening!)
5. Talking Heads is not just a description of Scot and Jeff — it’s (duh!) a band, and the subject of the new episode of Political Beats, with this week’s guest being the Wall Street Journal’s Matt Murray. Dig the groove, here.
6. The new Jaywalking is Mr. Nordlinger at his most indescribably eclectic. And fun. And. . . seducing. Listen up right here.
7. On the new Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, our host explains, on the 35th anniversary of the Nation at Risk assessment of the U.S. education system, how mediocracy and worse still prevail, and that transformative change is necessary and possible. Listen here.
8. More Remnant: Jonah entertains the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, who chats with Senor Goldberg about the Cohen raid, Syria, the 2018 midterms, and the nature of crony capitalism. Pay thee heed here.
A Baker’s Dozen Mouth-Watering NR Pastries, Yummy!
1. Kyle Smith takes on child-actress-turned-AARPer Molly Ringwald’s contrived New Yorker essay finding #MeToo pain in The Breakfast Club and other Brat Pack cinema. From his essay:
Ringwald, like Monica Lewinsky, is capitalizing on the cultural salience of the #MeToo movement to write about topics that have nothing to do with it. The New Yorker is promoting Ringwald’s reflections on her 1980s John Hughes films (including Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink) with the Web headline, “Molly Ringwald Revisits ‘The Breakfast Club’ in the Age of #MeToo.” Tantalizing, but you will find to your relief that Ringwald’s piece is not another chapter in that saga. #MeToo is about sexual mistreatment of actual women, not risque themes dreamed up by screenwriters that sometimes involved questionable treatment of fictional characters in pursuit of selling tickets to horny teens. Nor is #MeToo about ethnic stereotypes in comedy, another subject of concern to Ringwald.
2. Tripe is an acquired taste (I couldn’t eat it, even when Granny, the world’s best cook, made a pot). Rich Lowry finds the batch Mark Zuckerberg is serving up in the latest Facebook fiasco to be inedible. In fact, it’s insufferable. From his piece:
Zuckerberg has now managed the same trick on a global scale. On the one hand, Facebook has indeed made efforts to protect the data of its users, knowing that it can’t risk a fundamental breach of trust. On the other, Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he’s sorry for offenses against his users’ privacy because his business model contradicts his self-righteous public posture.
3. Move over Ethel Merman. The man who wants center stage is James Comey. Jim Geraghty explains how the former FBI director got bit bad by the celebrity bug.
4. Was there ever a column with a more darn-tootin’ headline as Dennis Prager’s new one, “Whatever the Left Touches It Ruins?” The answer is, no!
5. If you thought we were finished with Molly Ringwald, you were wrong. Armond White also does an ouch-inducing number on the Pretty in Pinkstress. From his piece:
In the name of #MeToo groupthink, she writes a memoir with insipid reasoning very much in character with the role she played in The Breakfast Club. You might remember that film’s most convincing moment, which belonged to Anthony Michael Hall’s nerdy outsider. Hall looks at Ringwald’s self-pitying rich girl and, with tearful exasperation, sizes her up: “You’re so conceited!”
6. I was out visiting Victor Davis Hanson a few weeks back, and the stories he told of the local impact of illegal immigration were unnerving. So I recommend you read his new NRO column, from which I share this excerpt:
The illegal-immigration project will ultimately fail because although its politics are transparent, its practice is incoherent, and chaos is therefore its only possible end. With the exception of an ailing European Union, no other country in the world — certainly not Mexico or China — would allow its open borders to become as politically weaponized as America’s. Yet no other nation is so faulted as illiberal as is the uniquely liberal United States. The result is a growing American exasperation. Ingratitude and hypocrisy stir human passions like few others traits.
The entire vocabulary of illegal immigration has become Orwellian. Once descriptive nouns and adjectives such as “alien” and “illegal” have melted into “undocumented” and “immigrant” and then into just “migrant,” ostensibly to mask the reality of both legal status and the fact that migrants go in one direction — and there is an existential difference between immigrants and emigrants.
7. DeVos haters gonna hate: The claim by lefty Congressman that a rollback of Obama-instigated charge that school discipline is related to racism (with attending threats) is baloney. Gail Heriot explains.
8. Hungary One: Prime Minister Viktor Orban kicks arse in the national elections. It was a Euroweenie-shocking sweep. John O’Sullivan, who hangs his hat in Budapest, filed this Election Day preview analysis.
9. Hungary Two: The votes tabulated, the sweep having happened, JO’S provides the morning-after explanation as to what happened and why, and how it affects the EU snots who had so much riding on an Orabn defeat. From his piece’s closing:
With this election landslide under his belt, Orban can now claim to have the moral and democratic authority of the Hungarian people and others behind his quest. Germany’s Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, has just said that the EU should drop its “arrogance and condescension” in its dealings with Hungary. Europe is beginning to realize that — and that, accordingly, the EU’s status quo is no longer quite as static as it was.
10. When it comes to the intra-party Blame-the-GOP game, Jay Cost sees accountability less in the Beltway than outside. Read his entire piece. It’s smart, and it ends with a gut punch:
Lousy candidates and missed opportunities have cost the GOP seat after seat. The failure rests not with McConnell and the Beltway establishment, but with Republican voters and leaders in these states: They failed to select good candidates, and now the party is paying the price.
11. It was 35 years ago that the widely discussed report on our troubled education system — A Nation at Risk — was issued. Jeanne Allen explains how mediocracy remains the norm. From her piece:
The results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) give us ample reason to refocus our attention and redouble efforts to make education work for all learners at all levels. NAEP, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” is the gold standard of assessments. It measures students on all the core subjects — not in comparison with other students, like many tests, but in comparison with what students should know and be able to do.
The most recent scores on reading, math, and writing, released this month, are dismal. Fewer than half of students are rated “proficient” in each of these subjects. The only significant change since 2015 is a one-point increase in eighth-grade reading. Otherwise we look a lot like we did in 2011.
12. Under our honkers, the tech giants are working non-stop to mine student data. In her new column, Michele Malkin sounds the alarm:
Facebook is just one of the tech giants partnering with the U.S. Department of Education and schools nationwide in pursuit of student data for meddling and profit. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Pearson, Knewton, and many more are cashing in on the Big Data boondoggle. State and federal educational databases provide countless opportunities for private companies exploiting public schoolchildren subjected to annual assessments, which exploded after adoption of the tech-industry-supported Common Core “standards,” tests, and aligned texts and curricula.
The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act further enshrined government collection of personally identifiable information — including data collected on attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions — and allows release of the data to third-party contractors thanks to Obama-era loopholes carved into the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
The Baker’s Dozenth. I love what happens when Conrad Black puts pen to paper. In this week’s NRO column, he writes on Trump’s rise in the polls, and goes after Thomas Friedman, who needs some serious going-after. From his piece:
Of course the most rabid commentators are still there. But some of these are showing miraculous signs of reason. It was almost reassuring to hear the New York Times’ Tom Friedman last week addressing the Morning Joe drop-in center for those unable to cope with the Trump era, and advising us to prepare for the emergence of George W. Bush and Barack Obama as bipartisan leaders of a national salvation and restoration effort following the complete meltdown of the Trump presidency. It made me nostalgic for this amiable man’s earlier fixations, on laptops for all the world’s children and on the evils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and his creation of the “Obama Doctrine” of the merits of appeasing all hostile governments, starting with the Myanmar colonels, the Castros, and the Iranian ayatollahs.
BONUS! Andy McCarthy says it would be crazed for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but. . . the Constitution permits it. From his expert analysis:
If lawmakers believe the president is abusing his power by firing good public servants arbitrarily, they can impeach the president. Or they can try to bend the president into better behavior by cutting off funding, refusing to confirm nominees, or holding oversight hearings that embarrass the administration. Congress has these powerful political tools. But it does not have legal means to usurp the president’s constitutional power. Those powers do not come from Congress. They come from Article II. The Constitution cannot be amended by a mere statute or a regulation. Congress may not enact a law that purports to place conditions on the president’s power to dismiss subordinates who exercise his powers.
And right here, right now, we launch the NRO Spring 2018 Webathon, with a goal of raising $210,000. Feel free to donate that amount, or any, right here. Why that amount? Here’s how we have segmented our needs:
- $100,000 towards to costs of this recent website rebuild. which cost a lot more to pull off than budgeted. Frankly that overrun is closer to $150,000. But we’ll figure this way: If we raise $100,000 via this appeal, it will all go towards this line-item.
- $50,000 to a finance a content provide, which is the new way of saying “reporter.” Fact is, we have recently hired two young writers who are incredibly productive and diligent. They crank out multiple pieces daily, and it’s been great, because . . . in addition to providing the news (minus any MSM twist), their work has been instantly beneficial to NRO’s growth in traffic. It is a smart investment all around. So, for budgeting purposes, the first to the fifty-thousandth dollar that is donated via this webathon (after we top $100,000) will go towards financing of one of these positions.
- Next up: $60,000 to a create a position of financial reporter. The markets are 24/7 critical to all, and what’s important is not only the news about their daily / hourly ping-ponging, but information about the policies and related debates that influence everything from Wall Street to the House Ways and Means Committee to the trade-and-tariff tweets of the President. This broad area has been missing in the NR news operation, and we want (need!) to remedy that. And we’re confident covering this area will more (much more!) than pay for itself. And if that happens, the day will come when we won’t have to seek your contributions to keep NR firing in all the cylinders needed to stand athwart history from sun-up to sundown and the wee hours in between.
Given our recent socko website rebuild, we are confident that we’ll be able to fund this conservative fount, for the first time in some six decades, through the kind of standard business practices that have always proven elusive to opinion magazines and websites not blessed with a sugar daddy. That’s a long-winded way of saying: We intend to make money the old-fashioned way. By earning it! And we will.
But as for right now: Please donate to our webathon here.
We’ll just make this a permanent thing: Six WJ recommendations of pieces from friendly types. Always with some love for my Gatestone and College Fix comrades.
1. Alan Dershowitz, at Gatestone, looks into the Mueller investigation raiding the offices of Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, and sees numerous Constitutional violations. From his piece:
Many TV pundits are telling viewers not to worry about the government’s intrusion into possible lawyer/client privileged communications between President Trump and his lawyer, since prosecutors will not get to see or use any privileged material. This is because prosecutors and FBI agents create firewalls and taint teams to preclude privileged information from being used against the client in a criminal case. But that analysis completely misses the point and ignores the distinction between the Fifth Amendment on the one hand, and the Fourth and Sixth Amendments on the other.
2. Free Speech has its enemies. Want to know five big, fat, and probably even smelly lies they tell? In The Federalist, David Marcus shares his list.
3. Out at Scripps College, professor Cindy Forster is putting together a love-fest for socialist Venezuela. You know, the place where people are starving. The College Fix has the story.
4. The United States Catholic Conference has filed an amicus curiae brief in the Janus case, siding with the mega-union AFSCME. At City Journal, Steve Malanga looks into the bishops’ position and finds nonsense.
5. America’s defeat in Syria is. . . complete, writes Dominic Green in The Spectator.
6. Second star to the left and straight on ‘til Communism: California state senator Richard Pan (D., Sacramento) introduces a bill that is a blatant assault on the First Amendment. American Thinker’s Peter Barry Chokwa has the story.
1. My mate Dan Hannan does the Prager U thing, offering an exceptional five-minute explanation on the beauty of capitalism and free markets.
2. John Stossel scopes out the Left’s war on science with John Tierney. Watch his video here.
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!
Kirkus Review has high-fived Christopher Buckley for his forthcoming comic novel, The Judge Hunter. The verdict: “An entertaining and nicely crafted picaresque thriller with crackling dialogue and a brace of Colonial cops as appealingly mismatched as any of Hollywood’s buddy efforts.” Mr. Wide Load and his much slimmer and much better half have read the galleys and find it plenty of crackling good. The novel features a mismatched duo, Balty and Huncks, tasked with locating and brining to justice two of the Regicide judges (you remember the story: Charles the First condemned by a boatload of Brit judges; Cromwell croaks; Chuck 2 takes the throne; Payback Doth Be a Bitch ensues; some judges vamoose, others were executed and some via the old drawn-and-quartered method; a handful of regicides make it to New England and find themselves, when not hiding in caves or on the permanent run, immersed in the mirth and frolic that made living in the early 1600s so entertaining) said to be hiding in New Haven, New Amsterdam, and the wilds of the Bay Colony.
My very good pal, Mr. Buckley, is a so-very-talented writer (you should also pick up his previous novel, The Relic Master) of books smart and funny and historical, filled with wonderful characters. The court orders you to get a copy (the publication date is May 1) of The Judge Hunter, here.
Not Burnham, but the Goldberg One
One of our founding editors, the great James Burnham, wrote a profoundly important book in 1964: Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. And now another founding editor (of NRO) has written a book whose title is an homage of sorts to Burnham’s classic: Jonah Goldberg’s shortly forthcoming (April 24 is the pub date) big and meaty tome, Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy. You can order a copy here.
It’s a certainty to raise a ruckus, get the brain juices flowing, and maybe even some invectives hurled. Now, in the here’s-what-they’re-saying-about category, I’ll share one blurb, by conservative paisan Hugh Hewitt.
“It is indeed a serious book with perhaps the rarest of things: the potential to change your mind on any number of subjects. That it is written with great good humor and some laugh out loud moments should not disguise that it is very serious and very important. . . I marvel at its breadth and depth. . .”
When The Hughster marvels, you need to buy. Again, do that right here. And if you are looking for a bona fide review, which are just starting to emerge, check out Marian Tupy’s take (“rich and highly readable”) on the Cato Institute website.
The death of Rusty Staub brought to mind Mickey Lolich, another great figure from baseball in the late 60s and early 70s: In a controversial 1975 trade that broke the hearts of both hometowns’ fans, the Tigers traded him to the New York Mets for Le Grand Orange. A workhorse, as were many pitchers from the bygone days, in 16 seasons, mostly with the Tigers, the pudgy southpaw racked up a 217-191 win-loss record with a career 3.44 ERA and 2,832 strikeouts. His greatest moments came in the 1968 World Series, when the Tigers, behind three games to one, roared back to take the Series, with Lolich winning two of the final three contests.
In all, he had three complete game victories, giving up only five earned runs and striking out 21 Cards. At the plate, Lolich was lousy, even by the low-expectation standards for MLB pitchers: He had a career .110 batting average, and only seven extra-base hits in 1,017 plate appearances. He never hit a regular-season home run. But. . . in Game 2 of the World Series, he belted one off Nelson Briles, a solo shot that proved to be the go-ahead run in an 8-1 romp. And in one memorable inning in Game 7, Lolich picked off both Lou Brock and Curt Flood.
I’m typing this auf wiedersehen in the maelstrom of O’Hare Airport in Chicago, where we just finished the final NRI “Buckley Legacy” celebration. Kudos to Lindsay, Alexandra, and the rest of the NRI team; panelists; and all of our generous sponsors, who helped our ongoing effort to keep WFB’s flame burning, and his consequence. . . consequencing. That said, until next week I am asking you not to cut lines, to suffer the little ones crying on airplanes, and to cover your mouth when you’re coughing. The Almighty’s graces to you and all you hold dear, and especially to Chris McEvoy, who is representing NR in the Boston Marathon — the best of luck comrade!
Sending an email to email@example.com is how to reach me to kvetch or to arrange wire transfers.
This Just In: As WJ is inserted into the NRO pneumatic tubery comes news of a glowing column by the New York Times’ David Brooks, who praises Jonah’s Suicide of the West as an “epic and debate-shifting book.” Guess I’ll happily provide the Amazon link one more time.