To those of you who are fathers, Happy Father’s Day (tomorrow). Yours Truly happens to be one. Poor kids — imagine having me for The Old Man?! But, I thank them for making me that, and yes, thanks too to Mrs. Yours Truly, who was, shall we say, indispensable to the entire shebang.
My kids (five) refer to me as “You,” “Hey You,” “He,” “Him,” sometimes “Daddio,” and in the Latin, “Pater” (pronounced in a clipped way pah-tehr). I self-refer as “The ATM.” When I call one (and, one answers!) on the phone the salutation, regardless of gender, is “Luke, I am your father.” (For the record: None are named Luke.) What is wonderful about this June Sunday at Casa Truly is my encouraging them to have at me with the mockery, and after a very brief eruption of snorts and catcalls and eyerolls, the imitations come like a tsunami (they have so much material with which to work). It is all wildly funny, and often ends with me playing the ukulele and dabbing. Admit it: You’d pay to see that!
Now, before we get to the essential purpose of this missive . . . It was surprising, but no one wrote on NRO this week about the Pope’s decision to approve a translation of the Our Father. You know, that prayer that is one of the few things that bind we papists and other Christians. So looking elsewhere . . . Msgr. Charles Pope’s explanation of why this is an act worthy of Mr. Bacciagalupe was published in the National Catholic Register in 2017 (when the translation train left the Stazione Vaticano). Read it here. A snippet:
First, “lead us not in temptation” is the most straightforward and linguistically accurate rendering of the Greek καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν (kai me eisenenkēs hemas eis peirasmon). Almost every commonly read English Bible renders it as “lead us not into temptation” or “do not bring us into temptation.”[**] The Latin Vulgate translation is et ne nos inducas in tentatione.
The Greek text is not complex and its accuracy is not disputed. Eisenenkēs is an aorist subjunctive in the active voice. “Lead us not” is simply the clearest and most accurate translation of me eisenenkēs. To instead render it “do not allow us” is to read into the text an extended meaning that is not there. While the intention may be to assist the reader to understand that God does not tempt us or directly cause us to fall, the effect is to imply that the inspired Greek text is inadequate.
Oremus. Now on to the usual fare.
1. The “pissant totalitarians in Colorado” continue to make a piñata of Jack Phillips, vilified Christian cakebaker. From the editorial:
Autumn Scardina, who was the complainant in the second action against Phillips, is now pursuing a third, having asked for a birthday cake to celebrate a gender transition.
That is three legal attacks on a man for the purported offense of conducting his bakery business in accordance with his own views and values. We are reminded of William F. Buckley Jr.’s observation: “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” American liberals have almost entirely abandoned liberalism, with its tenets of generosity and tolerance, and now insist on conformity and homogeneity — to be enforced at the point of a government bayonet, if necessary, or through financial ruination, or whatever other means of coercion is near at hand.
The legal doctrine of “public accommodations” first came to prominence as a civil-rights matter in the case of racial segregation at a time when African Americans could hardly travel in much of the country as a practical matter. The exclusion of black Americans from public life, when piled on the legacy of slavery, severely circumscribed the lives and opportunities of African Americans. While there is still rank bigotry directed at homosexuals, the situation of gay Americans in the 21st century is not very much like that of African Americans in the 1940s. To accommodate the religious principles of those with traditional views of marriage in this matter requires only a trivial and largely symbolic concession: It is a lot easier to find a gay-friendly caterer in Colorado in the 21st century than it was to find a hotel open to African Americans in Alabama in 1937. These are not of equal moral weight.
2. Hasta la vista, babies: President Trump’s mix of tariff threats and border control demands has had the desired effect on Mexico. It’s a bigly win. From the editorial:
President Trump evidently knows something about the art of the tariff threat. His unorthodox Twitter diplomacy has gotten Mexico to make potentially important public commitments on immigration enforcement.
Trump said he was going to slap steadily escalating tariffs on Mexico unless it did more to help with the border crisis, a threat with huge downside risks. If implemented, the tariffs would have been disruptive at a time when U.S. growth is perhaps slowing, been an economic gut-punch to an allied country whose stability is important to us, and probably precipitated a congressional revolt against the policy. Instead, Trump has a win that is likely more than a mere PR victory.
Mexico is devoting 6,000 troops to attempting to better police its own border with Guatemala. It’s unclear what this will produce, although it can’t hurt. More important is the extension of the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “remain in Mexico” policy. Under this arrangement, we can return asylum-seekers to Mexico while their claims — almost always ultimately rejected — are adjudicated. This avoids one of the biggest problems of our current policy, which allows asylum-seekers into the country, never to be removed, even if their claims are rejected and they are ordered deported.
3. Unicorn Time: Congressman Dan Lipinski is the last of an ancient people — liberal Democrat pro-lifers. Congress used to have plenty. Now it has . . . him. And party Leftists once again have him in their primary cross hairs. From our editorial:
The eight-term congressman faced his first serious assault from the left in a 2018 primary, when challenger Marie Newman and the energized progressive base came within two percentage points of defeating him. Newman is running again to finish the job in 2020. Taking out Lipinski makes perfect sense to pro-abortion activists: Democrats have no fear of losing a general election in Lipinski’s district, which Hillary Clinton carried by 15 points in 2016 and Barack Obama carried by 13 points in 2012. Yet the anti-Lipinski effort does carry risks for the Democratic party. No single seat in the House is worth very much in terms of political power. The odds are very low that a crucial piece of legislation will advance by a single vote in the House. Purging Lipinski is more about sending a message than it is about gaining one more vote.
The message that the anti-Lipinski campaign is sending is that dissent will not be tolerated and pro-lifers and even those with moderate views on abortion are unwelcome in the Democratic party. Newman’s last campaign even carried a whiff of anti-Catholicism to it. She attacked Lipinski, a practicing Catholic, for believing contraception is morally wrong. Newman falsely suggested Lipinski wanted to ban contraception, when he has in fact voted for federal funding for it but also supports religious-liberty protections.
Show Up California!
Here’s hoping our Golden State friends, sun-kissed misses and all others will be joining us – and the hundreds of NR pals who have registered to date — for the big National Review Institute shindigs at the end of this month, when fellows Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew McCarthy will headline a trio of forums, in Newport Beach (June 24), Fresno (June 25, and actually, at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga), and San Francisco (June 26).
Andy will speak about the Mueller investigation — the topic of his forthcoming book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency — which he has written about extensively over the past two years. Victor, whose 2019 book The Case for Trump has proven a big bestseller, will speak about the current administration from a classicist’s perspective, drawing on Western literary and historical traditions to understand our contemporary politics.
Each forum begins at 5:00 p.m. with a welcome reception and registration, followed by the moderated discussion between VDH and Andy, and then . . . another reception, winding down at 7:30 p.m. But then that is followed by an exclusive dinner with our fellows for NRI event sponsors. Be one! Join us! Get complete information here.
We Cannot Help Ourselves Because There Is So Much NRO Greatness to Share. If You Can’t Eat It All Now Save Some for Later.
1. Andy McCarthy goes to Capitol Hill and testifies to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report, and lays eight main points on Adam Schiff’s thick skull. Here are the first two:
ONE: Volume I of the Mueller Report draws three principal conclusions: (a) the Putin regime perceived advantage in a Trump victory and conducted its operations accordingly; (b) there is evidence the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about the opponent; and (c) there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. The first two of these are more in the nature of political assertions than prosecutorial findings. If there is insufficient evidence that a conspiratorial enterprise existed, a prosecutor has no business speculating on motives in a politically provocative manner. Moreover, I do not believe the assertion is borne out by the evidence. The report shows that agents of Putin’s regime expressed support for Trump’s candidacy. That is entirely consistent with a motivation to incite divisions and dissent in the body politic of free Western nations, which is Russia’s modus operandi. Russia’s goal is to destabilize Western governments, which advantages the Kremlin by making it more difficult for those governments to pursue their interests in the world. Putin tends to back the candidates he believes will lose, on the theory that an alienated losing faction will make it harder for the winning faction to govern. Putin is all about Russia’s interests, which are in destabilization. It is a mistake to allow him to divide us by portraying him as on one side or the other; he is against all of us.
TWO: There is no reason to doubt that the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about Secretary Clinton. That is what campaigns do. It is not an admirable aspect of our electoral politics that campaigns seek negative information — euphemistically called “opposition research” — wherever they can find it. Candidate Trump’s opposition hoped to benefit from the theft of his tax information. The Clinton campaign took help from elements of the Ukrainian government, and, through its agents, it hired a British former spy to tap Kremlin-connected operatives for damaging information about Trump. The First Amendment makes it difficult to regulate this sort of thing; our guiding principle is that good information will win out over bogus information. We can debate how well that works, but we shouldn’t pretend that the Trump campaign is the first or only one ever to play this game.
2. Just when, wonders Victor Davis Hanson, did FBI careerists begin to believe that they were above the law, and permitted to pursue political agendas? From his piece:
We are told, however, that the FBI’s culture and institutions are exempt from the widespread wrongdoing at the top. Such caution is a fine and fitting thing, given the FBI’s more than a century of public service. Nonetheless, many of those caught up in the controversies over the Russian-collusion hoax were not recent career appointees. Rather, many came up through the ranks of the FBI. And that raises the question, for example, of where exactly Peter Strzok (22 years in the FBI) learned that he had a right to interfere in a U.S. election to damage a candidate that he opposed.
And why would an Andrew McCabe (over 21 years in the FBI) think he had the duty to formulate an “insurance policy” to take out a presidential candidate? Or why would he even consider overseeing an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of emails when his wife had been a recent recipient of Clinton-related PAC money? And why would McCabe contemplate leaking confidential FBI information to the press or even dream of setting up some sort of operation to remove a sitting president under the 25th Amendment? And how did someone like the old FBI vet Peter Strozk ever end up at the center of the entire mess — opening up the snooping on the Trump campaign while hiding that fact and while briefing the candidate on Russian interference in the election, interviewing Michael Flynn, preening as a top FBI investigator for Robert Mueller’s dream team, right-hand man of “Andy” McCabe, convincing Comey to change the wording of his writ in the Clinton-email-scandal investigation, softball coddling of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, instrumental in the Papadopoulos investigation con — all the while conducting an affair with fellow FBI investigator and attorney Lisa Page and bragging about his assurance that the supposedly odious Trump would be prevented from being elected. If a group of Trump zealots were to call up the FBI tomorrow and allege that a member of Joe Biden’s family has had unethical ties with the Ukrainian or Chinese government, would that gambit “alarm” the FBI enough to prompt an investigation of Biden and his campaign? How many career-professional Peter Strozks are still at the agency?
3. James Sutton absolves San Francisco’s high-tech companies from responsibility for the municipality’s homeless crisis. If blame is needed (and it is!) he suggests looking at the city’s nightmarish regulations and zoning (and lefty politicos). From his piece:
The other piece of the puzzle is that San Francisco has some of the worst housing-creation statistics in the country. Huge swathes of the city are zoned only for single-family housing, and projects are regularly delayed for years or cancelled because of extensive regulations and local opposition. What’s the end result? Starting in the 1980s, when San Francisco joined many other cities in seeing renewed population growth, the city should have averaged 5,000 new housing units a year, according to CityLab. It built 1,500. In short, the city has abysmally failed to meet growing demand with adequate supply.
But instead of facing the brute fact that a nightmarish regulatory system has intensified the housing crisis, progressives blame the influx of tech workers. In short, they lament that well-paying jobs are flowing into the city.
Progressives also resent tech firms for not paying more taxes — in San Francisco, of all places! — which is why the Twitter tax break was so controversial. But again, firms don’t exist to pay taxes. And without the tax break, Twitter and the other companies might well have left the city or never located there in the first place.
4. Ben and Jerry and ding dongs from 179 other companies have their knickers in a twist over some states adopting abortion restrictions (but not over those states which have adopted de facto infanticide laws). John Hirschauer looks at the twisted leftist businessmen who’ve signed a public declaration which casts them standing athwart history, yelling abort! From his analysis:
That they consider unborn children to be “bad for business” is a standalone indictment of all 180 companies, but none so much as the insufferably left-wing ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry’s has no moral authority to lecture consumers about campaign finance so long as it feeds the unborn to Moloch in the name of “business.”
The letter goes on, in spite of itself, and admits that pro-life measures might hamper the “ability” of signatories “to build a diverse and inclusive workforce”: Anti-abortion legislation “impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.”
What does this paragraph mean? The entire document is, of course, intentionally imprecise; as one becomes more literal about abortion, it grows increasingly likely that the quiet parts will be said out loud. There seem to be three divergent and similarly heinous interpretations that emerge from this paragraph; first, that abortion is the only means by which women can be adequately “included” in the workforce. That to me seems the most plausible, if only because it has been a staple of the pro-choice argument for a generation. The second interpretation, not altogether unrelated to the first, is that “women of color” procure abortions disproportionately and that therefore, given the logic of the first assertion, the implementation of abortion restrictions would unduly burden racial minorities. This is an impossible thing to say out loud, not least because to do so is to tacitly cheers along as racial minorities kill their unborn children, but it’s quite possible that this is an intentional part of the paragraph’s subtext. A third, much more remote possibility is that the signatories consider injections of intra-amniotic digoxin a means for the unborn to join “diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines.”
5. Matt Continetti notes that Fareed Zakaria’s criticism of America’s global standing — in decline, per his assessment — blames various U.S. presidents, but goes AWOL on that Obama guy. From his Corner post:
Fareed Zakaria has a major essay in the July / August issue of Foreign Affairs on “The Self-Destruction of American Power.” His thesis is that U.S. global hegemony “died” “sometime in the last two years.” How? “There were deep structural forces in the international system that inexorably worked against any one nation that accumulated so much power,” Zakaria says. “In the American case, however, one is struck by the ways in which Washington — from an unprecedented position — mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies.” Making matters worse, he continues, is the America First foreign-policy of President Trump.
Standard stuff. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that a certain someone is conspicuously absent from Zakaria’s catalogue of foreign-policy errors. Zakaria criticizes George W. Bush for the Iraq War (which he supported at the time). He chides Donald Trump for a supposed “absence” of foreign policy. Yet Barack Obama goes entirely unmentioned. If you were to read this essay with no prior knowledge of American history, you would come away thinking the Obama presidency never happened.
6. Stars and Stripes beats Rainbow, says Kevin Williamson. From the piece:
This is Pride Month, during which organized homosexuality does its very best to remind the nation that some people have nonstandard sexual proclivities, that for some reason some people choose to organize both their personal identities and their communities around this fact, and to demand . . . well, that turns out to be a moving target, as surely is understood by anybody who remembers how fast we went from “Nobody is talking about gay marriage, you hysterical ninnies!” to “Gay marriage is a constitutionally mandatory thing, as James Madison obviously intended!” In the pre-Lawrence era, the urgent question was whether states could (and would) enforce the sodomy laws that made a crime of certain consensual sexual acts.
In 2019, the urgent question is whether U.S. embassies around the world will run the rainbow flag up the pole and see who salutes it.
Mike Pence said no. Not that anybody asked him, really. The matter was resolved within the State Department, through the usual processes. A few ambassadors asked for permission to fly the pride flag, and State declined to grant that permission. Others simply flew the flag on their own authority, acting in accord with the proverbial wisdom that it is easier to beg forgiveness than secure permission. But NBC News asked the vice president about the situation, and he affirmed that he believed the decision to have been correct. His argument contained no reference to scripture or moral theology, but rather relied on the straightforward belief that where sovereign U.S. diplomatic outposts are concerned, the only flag that should be flown is the one with the 50 stars and 13 stripes.
7. David French is thrilled by the move in many states to enact laws protecting free speech on college campuses. From his analysis:
There is substantial overlap between the states that are passing heartbeat bills and other abortion restrictions and states that are taking decisive steps to protect free speech on campus. For example, late last week Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed into law a campus free-speech act similar to the Texas bill. The result is an entire American region that is attempting to preserve and expand access to two of the three unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence — rights to life and liberty. In many ways, these are the South’s better days.
While there should be no reason for blue-state legislatures to shun campus free-speech bills, current political reality dictates that red states are the most fertile ground for protecting individual expression, and with with the vast majority of legislatures under unified Republican control, there is no reason for this quiet free-speech revolution to slow down. There should exist a vast zone of liberty on red-state public campuses.
8. China is mooning over the moon, and everything else beyond the stratosphere. Jack H. Burke says we had best take this ambition, and reality, seriously. From his analysis:
The Chinese space program has, in short, become a force to be reckoned with.
The Chinese government is increasingly determined to expand China’s space capabilities. President Xi Jinping in 2016 declared his intention to make China a “space giant.” Beijing views “long-term space investment” — specifically, the goal of wealth creation, obtaining resources, and establishing a permanent human presence in space — key to what Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin People’s Liberation Army has called “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” And the moon is at the heart of China’s plans.
In the 2016 white paper on space activities, released by the Information Office of the Chinese State Council, the government outlined how its space program is oriented toward “economic and social development,” as opposed to NASA’s model, which remains, to this day, more focused on “space exploration” and “scientific discovery.” China views space exploration as a way to expand its economy and encourage national development. As the technology for extraterrestrial mining develops and the permanent human occupation of space becomes more feasible, Beijing is devoting more effort to the space-based economic opportunities just on the horizon. The moon, especially, offers vast opportunities for mining and the production of space-based solar-power installations, which have the potential to increase the national energy output exponentially and give China an immense advantage in what Ian Morris in Real Clear Defense recently called the “new space race.” As opposed to the original “space race,” dedicated largely to scientific exploration and technological “firsts,” the rapidly unfolding new space race is about making space profitable. Participants to in the new space race look to establish a long-term, strategically and economically salient presence beyond Earth — in cislunar space, on the moon itself, and, ultimately, beyond.
9. Sahil Handa, ace summer intern who hails from London, pens a brilliant piece on how Brexit is playing out as “Britishness” fades. This is just a terrific reflection. From his essay:
When David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership in 2016, nobody could have anticipated our current cultural and constitutional quagmire. The vote was carried out without an agreed plan for implementation — lies on both sides and a question that promised to ask more questions that it answered. The result was a gridlocked Parliament set in opposition to a popular majority. MPs reluctantly agreed to implement the result, and Theresa May’s team went off to negotiate with Brussels.
What ensued was two years of distinctly unapologetic chaos: An unexpected election, a weak minority government, a revolving door of Brexit ministers, 43 government resignations. Delay. Delay. Delay. Delay.
In the wider country, Brexit found a series of deeply buried divides in the sand. Young versus Old; Scotland versus England; London versus just about everywhere else. The vote brought to light the country’s crisis of representation: Just as the parliamentarians in each of the two major party coalitions were fractured on the issue, so were their voters — and not always along the same lines.
10. You need not listen too hard, writes Telly Davidson, to hear the echoes of O.J.’s murder trial, marking its 25th year of warped justice. A lot has happened since then. From his essay:
But the true significance of O.J. to today’s society — and in particular, to the evolving differences between liberals and conservatives — runs much deeper. Conservatives in the Clinton years usually claimed to deplore situational ethics, though perhaps they should have stopped a minute to notice that their most effective players in the modern halls of power (Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove) were ruthlessly realpolitik political actors. In the “Flight 93 Election” of 2016, by contrast, Republicans mostly united behind Trump. What changed?
For all of talk radio’s fulminations against Loony Leftists, in the ’80s and ’90s, American conservatives’ adversaries were liberals — not the true hardcore Left. When Ron and Nicole died, the most acclaimed filmmaker in America was Martin Scorsese. The most prestigious small-screen auteur was Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue). Courtroom thrillers by John Grisham and Scott Turow about conflicted, formerly idealistic Boomer children of the ’60s trying to navigate today’s thorniest issues flew off the shelves. In other words, the intellectual, cultural, and academic zeitgeist tilted towards the liberal fetish for “fine lines” and “gray areas.” No wonder conservatives, particularly social and religious ones, felt free to take the hard line in response.
Today is different, with the recent revival of uncompromising and doctrinaire leftism, “identity politics,” and socialism, and as a result many conservatives have learned to stop worrying about personal ethics so much. In the so-called “Flight 93 Election” of 2016, voters knew there was a strong chance that Trump would appoint judges and regulators who oppose abortion and infringements on the religious freedom of social cons, and that there was absolutely zero chance that President Hillary would do anything but the opposite. It wasn’t about the individual case anymore; it was about the big-picture.
11. Martin Scorsese makes a lefty mockumentary with a title that goes into next week. Armond White takes no prisoners. From the beginning of his review:
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese is a cumbersome title owing to Scorsese’s tortured attempt to distinguish this patchwork about Dylan’s 1976 ragamuffin touring show from his hagiographic 2005 documentary, No Direction Home.
Yet this Revue is still hagiography. Scorsese competes with the mythmaking of the already overworked Dylanolatry industry by constructing an elaborate mockumentary ruse around this 43-year-old pop-music footage, which doesn’t need it.
The musical performances of Dylan and entourage masked in white face paint, as in his 1976 fantasia Renaldo and Clara, are rousingly intense. Dylan frees himself from his own mystique. The masks hide nothing. Musicianship and fierce singing defy Nobel laureate Dylan’s sanctified-philosopher status. His gift for condensing complex feelings and social reflection into revelatory lyrics is turned back into entertainment — from before rock criticism “hallowed” it out. When Dylan coos “Oh, Sister” or bangs out a piano version of “Simple Twist of Fate,” he’s a showman, not a shaman.
Here’s the problem: Scorsese, whose moralistic ethnic thrillers or genre fantasies are politically evasive, picks up the usual leftist cant. Dylan’s slippery social pronouncements, mixing personal philosophical evolution with celebrity gamesmanship, ought to be seen in the Rolling Thunder concert as acts of individual sensibility. The voice-of-a-generation routine is not helpful to a new, politically disingenuous era.
12. Meanwhile, Kyle Smith thinks Scorsese has pulled off a deadpan lampoon with the Netflix Dylan film. From his review:
The new work is billed as Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Story, not documentary. The film isn’t to be taken at face value. At least two characters in this yarn about Dylan’s 1975–76 concert tour are fictional, one of them offering yarns about Jimmy Carter. Then again, was Carter real? Did he actually say, “I grew up as a landowner’s son. But I don’t think I ever realized the proper interrelationship between the landowner and those who worked on a farm until I heard Dylan’s record, ‘I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More.’”? [sic]
Well, yes. Yes he did, in 1974. Wow: This was a trippy time. The mid-70s were far out, man. Never, before or since, in any era, ever, have human beings draped themselves in such hideous clothing. Only images actually taken in the period can properly convey the horror; whenever filmmakers (such as Scorsese) make something set in the mid-70s, they have to tone down the clothes, otherwise the costumes will devour the movie.
The clothes were part and parcel of the hungover mid-70s, a period that looks now like a gaudy muddle, a filthy rainbow. Jimmy Carter, the saint of the South, heralded a fresh start as America was gearing up for a massive spiritual renewal, the Bicentennial. The culture seems to have utterly forgotten this moment. Maybe the only film that gets it is Robert Altman’s 1975 piece, Nashville.
13. More Kyle: If his review of The Dead Don’t Die was a body movement, it might be a this-side-of-befuddled shrug. From his review:
The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch tends to apply his stone-faced sense of humor to low-energy stories, but what if he shook up his usual M.O.? What if he even went so far as to make a zombie movie? You could call it The Walking Deadpan.
Jarmucsch’s title, though, is The Dead Don’t Die. Intermittently amusing but resolutely trifling, this zom-com finds Jarmusch bringing in his frequent collaborator Bill Murray and Adam Driver, the star of his film Paterson, to play a pair of rural cops who are puzzled, maybe even mildly perturbed, to discover that the dead are rising from their graves. Once the undead are up and about, in between meals of human entrails they revisit the same obsessions that enslaved them in life. I particularly enjoyed seeing the armies of the reanimated lighting up their mobile phones and mumbling, “Wi-Fi . . . Wi-Fi . . .,” given that I coined the term iZombies in a piece entitled “The Texting Dead” six years ago. (Jim, you can send the royalty checks to 19 West 44th Street.) Jarmusch has a very small, very mild point to make, delivered in a summing-up at the close: We’re all fixated on something and hence are all zombies. Zombie Carol Kane, whose corpse has been lying around the police station while the cops figure out what to do with her, gets only one line, but it’s a funny one: “Chardonnay!”
There is a Trump joke to be made here, but Jarmusch doesn’t make it. (Really, half the country has one concept on its mind 24/7. I wonder what it’s like to walk around brain-dead.) Instead Jarmusch makes a different one: Steve Buscemi plays a truculent farmer who wears a hat that reads “Keep America White Again,” which doesn’t even make sense. Tom Waits, wearing a beard like Charlton Heston’s Moses, plays a crazy hermit who sees the truth. Tilda Swinton plays a samurai Scot who is completely prepared for zombie apocalypse. The comedy is essentially a series of variations on one joke: Things are going apespit and Murray and Co. barely react. “Oh, that’s bad” is what Driver’s character says, spotting friends with their guts ripped out. Iggy Pop is in there, playing a coffee zombie. Jarmusch even lands a few jokes aimed roughly in his own direction: When the corpses of three young people are found in gory circumstances, Murray says, “They’re just dead hipsters from Cleveland.”
14. More Armond: He finds The Dead Don’t Die to be a climate-changey dud. From his review:
The Dead Don’t Die laughs at “total destruction of the earth” — and the slow but inevitable dissolution of human relations — as a consequence of middle America’s non-sophistication. Centerville may as well be Hicksville (or Mayberry, to non–New Yorkers) because it personifies banality: It has no Starbucks, and no one reads the New York Times.
But in a barista mood, Jarmusch serves up doom for characters who are indifferent to “climate change.” Partly repeating the hip nihilism of his vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, Jarmusch moves on from that alienation to post-2016 election disapproval. News reports warn that “polar caps are shifting,” and so the fragile ecology of civilization gets flipped. Tom Waits as Hermit Bob, a long-hair dropout resembling Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, is a homeless scavenger and community pet who embodies the oxymoron Democratic Socialist. He steals chickens from right-wing farmer Frank Miller (comically querulous Steve Buscemi) who wears a red baseball cap bearing the motto “Make American White Again.”
That MAWA cap reveals Jarmusch’s failed humor. It’s lazy political animus compared with Nelson DeMille’s recent pop novel The Cuban Affair, in which a character’s T-shirt logo — “Guns Don’t Kill People. I Kill People” — signifies a personality and political type without simple demonization. But MAWA not only defames the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, it mischaracterizes national dissatisfaction and virtue-signals to hipster filmgoers that Jarmusch is on their ill-considered side. In indie film culture, making enemies is more important than brotherhood — or citizenship, or entertainment.
15. Even More Kyle: Our man sticks a fork in it and yes, Jussie Smollett is done. From the beginning of his report:
Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie Twitter account has ten followers. Smollett’s boss on Empire, showrunner Lee Daniels, now says he is “beyond embarrassed” that he rushed to defend the actor when Smollett first started telling that badly scripted story about his staged attack by a pair of supposed Trump fanatics who at the time seemed to be the only people in America who even knew who he was.
A funny thing happened during Smollett’s victory lap: Chicago reporters obtained communications from police and prosecutors after a judge unsealed the case file. These records included texts Smollett sent that were obtained by police. The picture of Smollett that has emerged is considerably more detailed now: He had himself a rip-roaring good time while he was planning to make himself look like the victim of a nasty assault. He is brazen. He is smug. He is without doubt a liar, and a liar who preys on Americans’ natural sympathy for racial and sexual minorities. In the church of identity politics, what Smollett did is the equivalent of stealing from the widows-and-orphans box.
Smollett’s phone records show that for months he repeatedly bought cocaine, Ecstasy, and marijuana from the brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, which he paid for via Paypal and Venmo, and that he wanted to meet with the brothers “face to face” to discuss “planning,” presumably for the fake attack. “N***a you still got a molly connect,” Smollett texted one of the brothers last September. “Hahahaha… Imma need a good fo pills Haha.”
16. Even More Climate Change: In his new column, Rich Lowry says the alarmists’ alarming, like a big fat glacier, is going nowhere. Slow. From his piece:
The politics of climate change will be problematic for the duration, for several reasons. The voters most opposed to the costs of climate action tend to be “deplorables” most easily dismissed by center-left parties at their own peril: voters in rural Queensland in Australia, economically distressed residents of unfashionable rural and semiurban areas of France, working-class voters in the Rust Belt in the U.S.
The real felt urgency of climate change will not, anytime soon, match the rhetoric of the advocates. There’s currently an effort to make every natural disaster in the U.S. a symptom of an alleged climate emergency. This approach may pay some dividends, since there’s always extreme weather, but it hardly reflects a careful accounting of the data.
Bearing real costs for the sake of the climate will always be a sucker’s game for any one country so long as there isn’t a global regime mandating emission reductions (and, thankfully, there isn’t anything remotely like the political will for such a regime).
17. Progressive whites who wear their big-and-brash minority-championing badges for all to see are, writes Mona Charen, often so blankety-blank condescending. Case in point: NYC mayor Bill De Blasio. From her piece:
De Blasio is the variety of progressive who racializes everything. His administration is spending $23 million on “implicit bias training” for city employees. If you’ve never had to submit to these indoctrinations, they feature elements such the “white privilege exercise.” It guides the subject through questions such as “I can be pretty sure that when I ask to speak to the person in charge, I will be facing a person of my race” and “If a police officer pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.”
There is little doubt that most white people will respond differently to being pulled over by a police officer than African Americans, and with good reason. But regarding the first question, it is whites who ought to be less confident, if that’s the right word, about the race of supervisors. According to New York City’s own Workforce Profile Report, 61 percent of the city’s employees are members of minority groups, and only 39 percent are white. Not that it should matter. And it wouldn’t if de Blasio and his allies were not so keen to fetishize racial distinctions.
De Blasio’s pick for schools chancellor was Richard Carranza, who decries “white supremacy culture.” Carranza has inaugurated a training program to teach supervisors to “disrupt the power structure and dismantle institutional racism.” The workshops are run by Courageous Conversations, a division of the Pacific Educational Group. Their fee? $775,000. Extirpating whiteness can be good business.
18. While he’s not dabbling with the text of The Lord’s Prayer, The Pope, writes John Hirschauer, has been pulling the theological rug out from underneath the ancient Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. Is anything sacred? From his commentary:
Given the unique and divisive teaching about the substantive nature of the consecrated bread and wine, Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians provided what would become the scriptural grounds for selective admission to the sacrament. Paul told the Corinthian church that those who received the Eucharist “unworthily” would be counted as “guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord,” a bold and forceful instruction that established a scriptural basis for future Church guidelines on admission to the sacrament.
The early Church took Saint Paul’s instruction and sought to outline criteria for admission to the Eucharist. Saint Justin Martyr (c. 100–165), for instance, insisted that the Eucharist be open only to those who believe “that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.” The Eucharist was always considered to be an expression of unity with the Church, not a tool to display ecumenical zeal or a means to “break down barriers” among the masses.
Popes throughout the centuries were undivided in their opinion on the subject. Particularly before the Second Vatican Council, popes were stark in their indiscriminate opposition to intercommunion, considering it a profanation and an abject evil to be avoided. Pope Pius IX put it rather precisely in his encyclical Amantissimus (1862), where he proclaimed that “whoever eats of the Lamb and is not a member of the Church has profaned.”
19. On the Oberlin College verdict, David French explains why the massive $33 million judgment against the college is going to make some SJW college administrators think twice before they engage is defamation of innocent citizens and their mom-and-pop businesses. From his Corner post:
Students immediately launched protests of the bakery and created and disseminated flyers declaring the bakery “a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” and that a member of the Oberlin community “was assaulted” by its owner. These claims were false. The evidence at trial showed that employees and administrators helped publish and distribute the false flyer, including by disseminating it to the media. The college also suspended its business relationship with the bakery.
Anyone who’s spent any time dealing with campus controversies knows that activist administrators often help, support, and even direct the activities of radical students. Some administrators seem to view campus activism as part of the educational process itself, a rite of passage that helps prepare them for a lifetime of political engagement. In my litigation days, I’ve seen multiple instances where administrators help activists formulate messages, plan protests, and provide university resources to favored activists.
When activists are engaged in constitutionally protected speech, there is absolutely no legal problem with this kind of university engagement. When, however, student activists are spreading outright lies and violating the law, university engagement becomes extraordinarily risky.
1. Fret not for capitalism, says AEI’s Michael Strain in The Guardian. It’s healthier than ever. From his piece:
To be clear, I am more concerned about the absolute condition of low-income workers and households, as well as the opportunities available to them, than I am concerned about relative inequality. But if we are going to analyze inequality it is important that we base our analysis on the latest and best statistics.
Here, the US economy is delivering even better results. Since 2016, weekly earnings for the bottom 10% of full-time workers have grown more than 50% faster than for workers at the median. The unemployment rate for adults without a high school degree is further below its long-term average than the rate for college-educated workers.
Vulnerable workers are also benefiting from today’s economy. Employment rates are increasing for workers with a disability. In our low-unemployment environment, employers have become much more flexible about which applicants they will interview and which candidates they will hire. Some evidence and anecdotes suggest firms are less likely to require criminal background checks on applications, for example.
To repeat: an odd time, then, to be debating whether capitalism is a fundamentally broken economic system. Yet debating it we are, and not just in this newspaper. In the US, some Trumpian populists and their sympathizers are downplaying the importance of economic growth, warming to protectionism, and becoming comfortable with the damage the president is doing to the post-second world war liberal order. Some populists on the political right are stepping back from the traditional conservative emphasis on the importance of personal responsibility. Bizarrely, some are even questioning the merits of dual-earner families.
2. At Mainebiz, the young Conner Drigotas shares the reasons (too much business-crippling government) why his native Pine Tree State son will not be returning. From his piece:
Maine is hemorrhaging young people. The situation is dire for the nation’s oldest state. Maine needs youth to stay in or return to Vacationland. Maine needs to attract 158,000 workers by 2025.
I have looked for jobs in Maine many times. Maine does not have the job base to keep young people at home and is not doing enough to bring people back.
By that I mean Maine’s government is impeding job creation and stifling economic growth. The initiatives currently in place are simply more big government short-sightedness. We don’t want flashy government programs; we want Augusta out of our wallets.
The job market is being suffocated by the way Maine treats businesses. If Maine were a more attractive place to operate a business, more businesses would choose Maine. More businesses in Maine would create more jobs, attracting a younger population to live here. Augusta’s anti-business policy agenda prevents companies from choosing Maine and is holding citizens back from prosperity.
3. The great Lee Edwards has been penning a series for Intercollegiate Review on “unsung heroes” of the conservative movement. His first profile is of sociologist Robert Nisbet, author of the seminal study, The Quest for Community. From his piece:
Man’s desire for community, Nisbet wrote, springs from some of the most powerful needs of human nature, including “a clear sense of cultural purpose, membership, status, and continuity.” Aristotle had recognized this fundamental desire more than two thousand years earlier when he wrote that man is by nature a social creature, “a political animal.”
Nisbet noted that the traditional sources of community included the family, the church, the neighborhood, and the civic association. Writing in the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America had praised the amazing variety of associations he saw throughout the United States—commercial and industrial, religious and moral, general and particular, immense and small. Tocqueville wrote, “Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.”
But by the mid-twentieth century, the powerful modern state had eroded these sources of community. Collectivism and centralization manifested themselves not only abroad—in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Communist tyrannies of the Soviet Union and China—but also in the rapidly expanding federal government at home.
In fact, Nisbet observed, the human impulse toward community helped explain the rise of centralized regimes. As the traditional ties that bind fell away, people had to seek community somewhere. With nowhere else to turn, they looked to the government itself for meaning and a sense of community. The quest for community thus allowed statism—even totalitarianism—to flourish.
4. At Legal Insurrection, Daniel McGraw, who covered the Oberlin College case and trial, penned an excellent assessment as to why the uber-Lefty institution went on a jihad against a local bakery. From his piece:
There are two things about this case that are very important, of which some of the commenters and tweets I read are missing.
The first is that Oberlin College, in the minds of the jury, wasn’t guilty only of what they did, but also what they didn’t do. They had opportunities early on to see the bullshit flying in their faces — thrown by the social justice warrior students — and didn’t have the good sense to see a basic problem and recognize the simplest of solutions.
What happened here is that Oberlin College and many universities have lost the understanding of their identity and basic purpose, and when that happens with most of us, when we don’t know who we are, we tend to do stupid things. That’s what happened here.
A few years ago, they had students saying they wanted finals cancelled because they were protesting minority men being shot by police in nearby Cleveland; in Dec. of 2015, the school’s black student union published 14 pages of racial accusations against the school with 58 demands to fix them; and the school had students thinking that the sushi in their cafeteria was “cultural appropriation” and unfit for eating because of that.
Instead of the school telling their students, “You are all crazy, and get back to studying,” they took on the “these poor snowflakes need our support” attitude.
It was the tail wagging the dog in the end, and ended up how most things like that do.
5. Elizabeth Warren has Big Ideas. Which have become Big Bills. And as Ramesh Ponnuru reminds us in his Bloomberg Opinion column, they have one Big Problem: They’re impractical. From his piece:
The Corporate Executive Responsibility Act, a Warren bill, would lower the standard for criminal liability. Executives of large companies could be thrown in jail for mere “negligence” – even, that is, if they didn’t realize their companies were doing anything potentially illegal. That change would, as she says, make it impossible for corporate wrongdoers to “escape the threat of prosecution so long as no one can prove exactly what they knew.” By design, though, it would also make it possible to prosecute people who hadn’t knowingly done wrong.
Warren wants to ban foreigners from buying farmland, complaining that “Foreign companies and countries like China and Saudi Arabia already own 25 million acres of American farmland.” Her ultimate source for that figure is a Department of Agriculture report about land holdings as of 2011. She makes it sound ominous, but it turns out that Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and the U.K. are “countries like China and Saudi Arabia,” accounting for more than 16 million acres of that total. Portugal alone owned six times as much farmland as the Saudis. (A more recent iteration of the report tells the same basic story.)
From Bill Clinton’s administration onward, voters have been much more likely to punish than to reward presidents for pushing ahead with bold ideas. In practice, they seem to understand something about the limited ability of government officials to change the world for the better, and the risks of their trying – something that Senator Warren and her fans don’t.
6. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière finds the recent European elections tell a mixed story, and that populists will still be second fiddle to the national establishment parties; weakened but still in charge. From his piece:
In many European countries, however, the results of the “populists” were mixed. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally finished first, but with 23.3% of the vote: only 0.9% more than The Republic on the Move, created three years ago by Emmanuel Macron. The extreme unpopularity of the French President apparently did not cost him much. In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats received only 15.4%, or two percent less than in the 2018 Swedish general elections. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) received 11%. In Belgium, the Vlams Belang received 11.2% of the vote. In Spain, Vox, with 6.2%, had to deal with even more disappointing results. In the Netherlands, the Forum for Democracy got 10.9% and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, which fell to 3.5%, no longer has a seat.
The “populist wave” often mentioned in recent weeks did not overwhelm Europe. “Populist” parties will have only a little more than twenty percent of the seats in the European Parliament: enough to be heard, but not enough to exert influence.
The parties that have ruled Europe for decades obtained weak results, but, with rare exceptions, did not collapse — and will continue to dominate the European Union. The crushing defeat of the British Conservative Party (8.9%, the lowest in its history) seems to have been the result of Theresa May’s inability to deliver Brexit. In France, the sharp downfall of The Republicans (8.5%) and the Socialist Party (6.2%) can be explained by most of their leaders (Republicans and socialists) having joined Macron’s The Republic on the Move party two years ago. In Germany, the CDU-CSU alliance obtained only 28.9% of the vote, but it was enough to win nevertheless. The socialist SPD received an honorable score, 15.8%.
In several Western European countries, socialist parties prevailed, indicating that apparently socialism is not losing ground. The Spanish Socialist Party triumphed (32.8%), as well as the Portuguese Socialist Party (33.4%). In the Netherlands, the Labor Party (18.9%) finished first. In Italy, socialists obtained 22%; in Denmark, 21.5%, and in Sweden, 23.6%.
We’ll stipulate the obvious and true: At least Charles Richard “Dick” Bates got to play in the Majors. On the ignominious side: He was a “cup of coffee” for what may have been the saddest expansion team / franchise in baseball history: The 1969 Seattle Pilots. Hard to qualify for immortality in a less impressive way.
Bates’ one performance came on a Sunday afternoon in the Emerald City, at the home-field shack known as Sick’s Stadium, before 5,802 fans watching the expansion team’s 16th contest, this one against the Oakland As, developing into the powerhouse that in a few years would win a trio of World Series. With the As leading 5–0 in the top of the 6th, manager Joe Schultz (made famous in Ball Four) yanked starter Mike Marshall (yeah, that Mike Marshall!) and brought in the rookie Bates to relieve. If you can call it that. He immediately walked Danny Cater and then Rick Monday clobbered a home run. An inning later, Cater and Monday smacked doubles resulting in three more runs. And that was it for Bates, who left the game with the As ahead 10–0. He’d never step on a Major League mound again and started and ended his career with a 27.00 ERA.
For our fathers, real and spiritual, who have gone before us: May they be in the sweet eternal embrace of The Father, the one Who, until the translators get their mitts on the verbiage, still Art in Heaven.
God Bless You and Yours,
Who art at firstname.lastname@example.org for those of thee who doth seeketh to communicate.
P.S.: What dad really wanted was a cabin on the NR 2019 Canada/New England Conservative Cruise. There’s still time to reserve one. Do that at www.nrcruise.com/canada. What a gift!