The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Like Sands Through the Hourglass, So Are the Days of Our Knives

Dear Joltarian,

What is there to say in the face of such on-the-spot bare-faced mendacity?

It’s not as if the nimble mind isn’t worthy of occasional awe: Like The Godfather’s Jack Woltz recalibrating his insults (directed at that smooth-talking German-Irish sonofabitch Tom Hagen). But to imply an attempted murder(s) knife attack is nothing more than teens-having-funnery — all for the contrived sake of cop-bashing, well, that crosses a line.

Pray, one that marks the edge of the Grand Canyon. (Or we’ll settle for the safety-as-you-know-is-paramount platform edge at the Milford train station.)

There’s plenty on lefty knife idiocy below. And plenty on all others sorts of additional lefty idiocies (there are so many!) there too, in this late-April edition of what may be (or, may not be) your favorite Friday / Saturday posting / missive from NR.

No more rambling: Let’s get you to it!

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Hoping the White House Basement wi-fi works: Biden Administration’s Unserious Climate Summit

Jimmy Lai and other brave people: On Hong Kong, Stay Strong

It’a All About the Needle: Vaccination Is Our Ticket Out of the Pandemic

Guilty in Minnie: The Message of the Derek Chauvin Verdict

ARTICLES

Kyle Smith: Anthony Fauci’s Misadventures in Fortune Telling

Rich Lowry: George W. Bush and the Republican Establishment Remain Wrong on Immigration Reform

Rich Lowry: Biden Virtual Climate Summit Achieves Little

David Harsanyi: Joe Biden’s Climate Denialism

David Harsanyi: Ed Markey and AOC’s New Green New Deal Remains Nuts

Mario Loyola: Green New Deal: More Socialism than Climate Action

Jimmy Quinn: Climate and China: Cooperation Won’t Stop Beijing’s Environmental Abuses

Tyler Merritt: Trevor Noah Is Wrong about Police

Philip Klein: Columbus Shooting: Cops Can Justifiably Intervene In Knife Fights

Charles C.W. Cooke: In Defense of Teenage Knife-Fighting

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Brian Sicknick Case Exposes How Media Makes Its Own Reality

Charles C.W. Cooke: Richard Dawkins Gets Cancelled by American Humanist Association

Kyle Smith: Bill Maher’s Liberal Contrarianism

Daniel Buck: Woke Classrooms: University Education Programs Source of Problem

Ryan Anderson and Adam J. MacLeod: Clarence Thomas Is Right about Big Tech

Kevin Mooney: Pennsylvania Governor’s Abuse of Emergency Powers Must End

Cameron Hilditch: Red China’s 1921 Project

Isaac Schoor: Red China and the Are in No Way U.S. Allies

David Harsanyi: Senator Warren’s Disgraceful Meddling in Israeli Politics

Robert Joseph: Iran Nuclear Deal: Biden Administration in a Fact-Free Frenzy

Kaj Relwof: Will Connecticut Be the Next Race-Charged Ballot Battleground?

CAPITAL MATTERS

David Bahnsen and Tim Busch skewer woke capitalism on the new episode of the Capital Record podcast

Jerry Bowyer sees loneliness emerging in Silicon Valley: Thanks to Its Progressive Social Agenda, Big Tech Is Running Out of Friends

Tom Spencer takes on Yellen’s worldly desires: Global Minimum Tax Can’t End International Competition by Fiat

Sally Pipes says the bucks are there: Health-Care Affordability ‘Crisis’: Poll Results Countered by Economic Data

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW!

Kyle Smith is digging a new Norwegian film: Hope is Elegant and Surprisingly Reassuring

Armond White hits a Homer: The Simpsons Try to Cancel Morrisey

More Kyle, who pours a tall one from a small keg: Brewmance: America’s Craft-Beer Revolution

More Armond, who comes to the defense of a lady snubbed: Michelle Pfeiffer Deserves Oscar for French Exit

STRAP ON THE FEED BAG BECAUSE YOUR STRONG APPETITE YEARNS FOR THE AWAITING PLETHORA OF READY AND INTELLECTUALLY TASTY EXCERPTS, WHATEVER THAT MEANS

Editorials

1. The White House Ringmaster zooms the Climate Clown Show for a most unserious gathering. From the editorial:

The climate radicalism of Ocasio-Cortez and of the Biden administration itself is mostly a radicalism of rhetoric and posture. If the goal is to radically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in a way that mitigates climate change some decades down the road, then creating a jobs program for Democratic activists is not a meaningful proposal. It is simply a way to raid the treasury while linking the political priorities of the moment of New Deal nostalgia. The fact that it is unserious does not mean that it cannot do both political and economic damage in the real world, if it is pursued with sufficient vengeance. One suspects that Chairman Xi understands that even if President Biden doesn’t quite.

If we could set aside the culture war for a half a minute, we might discover some points of cooperation. For example, the U.S. electricity-generating sector has significantly improved its greenhouse-gas profile in recent years, not because it was visited by bright young things employed by a Civilian Climate Corps but thanks to — prepare to clutch your pearls — fracking. Natural gas is a much cleaner fuel than coal from a carbon-emissions point of view, and an abundance of inexpensive natural gas enabled normal economic forces to act in the green interest. We could be exporting enormous quantities of the stuff to the rest of the world, helping to displace coal power with cleaner gas power while doing precisely what it is Senator Markey and his congressional allies say they want to do at home: creating good jobs. But that would require, among other things, infrastructure, from pipelines and storage facilities to new export terminals on the West Coast. Private investors are ready to build these at their own expense, but the Biden administration and its allies stand in the way of this and other practical measures that have a chance at producing both consensus and results. Neither “Green New Deal” radicalism nor puffed-up summitry credibly promises as much.

2. The people of Hong Kong, and notable heroes such as Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee, are deserving of full-throated support as their ChiCom oppressors. From the beginning of the editorial:

April 16 was a dark day for Hong Kong — a city that has seen many dark days in recent years, and whose days are getting darker. A court handed down sentences for nine advocates of democracy. What were they sentenced for? Well, advocating democracy.

The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, issued a statement condemning the sentencing. He said that “Beijing and Hong Kong authorities are targeting Hong Kongers for doing nothing more than exercising protected rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.”

Obviously, the Chinese government fears democracy. Eight of the nine people just sentenced have, at one time or another, been democratically elected to Hong Kong’s legislature. And the ninth — Jimmy Lai, about whom more in a moment — is an ardent and brave supporter of democracy.

Martin Lee, one of the nine, has long been known as “the father of democracy” in Hong Kong. Other democrats, worldwide, have been in awe of him since the 1980s. Lee founded the first democratic party in the city, the United Democrats of Hong Kong. Now 82, he was arrested last year for taking part in a protest. He made a poignant statement: “Over the months and years, I’ve felt bad to see so many outstanding youngsters being arrested and prosecuted, but I was not charged. Now I’ve finally become a defendant. I feel proud that I have a chance to walk this path of democracy together with them.”

3. COVID vaccines are safe and the core of our pandemic exit-strategy. People should be getting the shots, and the media should can the hysteria over outlier stories. From the editorial:

Vaccination not only protects the vaccinated individual; a vaccinated person who does get infected sheds much fewer viruses than an unvaccinated person, making infection of others less likely. It doesn’t eliminate it completely, but a study of nearly 5,000 vaccinated Israelis concluded that “viral load was substantially reduced for infections occurring 12 to 37 days after the first dose of vaccine.”

But some media institutions seem to think every time a vaccinated person gets infected, it’s big and shocking news. The New York Post felt the need to tell us about a Brooklyn woman who was infected three weeks after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Then they wrote about an Alaskan woman who was infected with COVID-19, recovered, and then was infected again on April 12. The same day, the paper separately told us about a Brooklyn man who was infected two weeks after getting the J&J vaccine.

The Post has relentlessly covered people who have died after receiving the vaccine. One headline read, “Elderly man collapses, dies shortly after getting COVID-19 vaccine at Javits Center”! The septuagenarian fell as he left the building.

On the other hand, the Post editorial board sensibly observes, “You’re far likelier to die in a plane accident than get a blood clot from J&J’s jab, yet we still allow air travel. And getting as many people immunized ASAP is vital to beating COVID and saving far more lives.” It has also followed up with a cover editorial urging people to get vaccinated. That’s great, now could you guys go talk to your colleagues in the news section?

4. Meanings gleaned from the prosecution and guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. From the editorial:

If there is a silver lining in such a tragic story, it is about policing. Among the most compelling witnesses in the case were police officials. What had to have impressed the jury was how far Chauvin strayed from standard detention procedures. Police are trained that, if they must use a prone restraint, they are to roll the suspect onto his side as soon as he is secured — and especially if he has stopped resisting — in order to facilitate breathing.

American cops also go by the credo, “In my custody, in my care.” No matter how serious the crime, no matter how loathsome the suspect, they are responsible for the wellbeing of the people they detain. If a detainee falls ill, they are duty-bound to administer care — and trained to do so as “first responders.” If a detainee loses his pulse, they are trained to begin CPR immediately.

Chauvin did none of these things. As prosecutors said, “He wouldn’t let up, and he wouldn’t let up.” The police witnesses expressed a healthy disdain for that. They know nothing makes a good cop’s job harder than a bad cop.

George Floyd died because Derek Chauvin was a bad cop. We are, of course, mindful that police have a very tough job, dealing with uncooperative and often dangerous suspects, many with drug-abuse and health problems — such as the ones Floyd had, which likely contributed to his death. But the police power to use necessary force, which must necessarily be superior force, never justifies excessive force. That is the message of this emphatic verdict.

Articles

1. Has anyone ever so worn out welcome and trust as Spin Dr. Fauci? Kyle Smith takes account of his expert-floperoo predictions and meanderings. From the piece:

July 17, 2020 [on PBS]: “We’ve got to do the things that are very clear that we need to do to turn this around. Remember, we can do it. We know that when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We’ve done it. We’ve done it in New York. New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly by doing the things that you’re talking about.” (The death toll in New York State on July 17, 2020 was under 28,000. The death toll in New York State on April 19, 2021: 51,122. A new study points out that New York had the “worst overall outcome” of any state in the pandemic.)

February 22, 2021 [at a press briefing]: “There are things, even if you’re vaccinated, that you’re not going to be able to do in society. For example, indoor dining, theaters, places where people congregate. . . . That’s because of the safety of society.”

(The Atlantic: “Advising people that they must do nothing differently after vaccination — not even in the privacy of their homes — creates the misimpression that vaccines offer little benefit at all,” writes epidemiologist and Harvard Medical School professor Julia Marcus. “Vaccines provide a true reduction of risk, not a false sense of security. And trying to eliminate even the lowest-risk changes in behavior both underestimates people’s need to be close to one another and discourages the very thing that will get everyone out of this mess: vaccine uptake.”)

2. Rich Lowry says “W” and plenty more in the GOP establishment can’t help but be wrong about immigration reform. From the piece:

For his part, Bush sounds as if he’s learned nothing. In his Post piece, he cites all the usual measures at the border included in these sorts of bills — “manpower, physical barriers, advanced technology, streamlined and efficient ports of entry.”

That’s all fine, but it is no substitute for rigorous enforcement in the interior of the country and can’t counteract the open-borders message sent by welcoming illegal immigrants into the country.

In that regard, Bush professes, as all supporters of comprehensive immigration reform always do, to oppose amnesty as “fundamentally unfair to those who came legally or are still waiting their turn to become citizens.”

He then calls for an amnesty couched as, in one of the laziest clichés in the immigration debate, bringing illegal immigrants “out of the shadows.”

This will be achieved “through a gradual process in which legal residency and citizenship must be earned,” by requiring “proof of work history, payment of a fine and back taxes, English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and a clean background check.”

Such requirements are always promised in comprehensive immigration bills and are always toothless, serving only as a way to deny that the amnesty for illegal immigrants is indeed an amnesty.

3. More Rich, who climbs the platitudes from Biden’s virtual Climate Summit  Lowry: From the piece:

Consider China, which the Biden administration has been desperate to get on board. Amazingly enough, climate envoy John Kerry was the first Biden official to visit China, signaling that climate change is more important to the administration than China’s threatening behavior toward Taiwan, its aggression in the South China Sea, its suppression of the Uyghurs, its predatory trade practices or its theft of intellectual property.

Kerry got verbiage from the Chinese about tackling climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.”

This is a great coup, just not how Kerry imagines. Every time we pump up China as a partner on the climate, we feed the ridiculous pretense, which President Xi is desperate to create, that China is a good global citizen overwhelmingly concerned with the planet’s welfare.

It’s highly doubtful China is going to reach peak emissions in 2030, or zero by 2060, its latest promise. Beijing is bringing a massive amount of coal-fired power plants online. Regardless, who’s going to hold China accountable for its climate pledges, and how, precisely?

4. More Climate: David Harsanyi lays into Biden’s acute denialism. From the analysis:

“The signs are unmistakable, the science undeniable,” Biden claimed. “Cost of inaction keeps mounting.” Now, I realize that people repeat these contentions with religious zeal, but the evidence is extraordinarily weak. For one thing, there is action. Market innovations keep creating efficiencies all the time. For another, we live in the healthiest, most equitable, most prosperous, most safe, and most peaceful era in human existence. Affordable fossil fuels have done more to eliminate poverty than all the redistributionist programs ever concocted. By nearly every quantifiable measure, the environment is also in better shape now than it was 20, 30, or even 50 years ago. A lot of that is grounded by an economy that relies on affordable energy. Also, though every weather-related event is framed in a cataclysmic way, not that long ago, being killed by the climate was serious concern for most people. Today, it is incredibly rare.

Progressives, however, regularly maintain that we are facing an existential crisis. One might point out that science’s predictive abilities on climate have been atrocious. But, really, these days, “science” is nothing but a cudgel to push leftist policy prescriptions with little consideration for tradeoffs, reality, or morality.

The Malthusian fanaticism that’s been normalized in our political rhetoric is also denialism. “Science,” as the media and political class now practice it, has become little more than a means of generating apprehension and fear about progress. It is the denial of the modern technology and competitive markets which continue to allow human beings to adapt to organic and anthropogenic changes in the environment. Even people who mimic doomsday rhetoric seem to understand this intuitively. The average American says they are willing to spend up to $177 a year to avoid climate change, not the approximately $177,000,000 per person it would cost to set arbitrary dates to get rid of a carbon-energy economy.

5. More David, More Climate: The new Green New Deal promoted by crackpots AOC and Ed Markey is still the stuff of Planters. From the piece:

Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “formally” reintroduced the Green New Deal today. The first iteration of the plan, lest anyone forget, proposed the elimination of all fossil-fuel energy production; the end of all nuclear power; the phase-out of all “combustion-engine vehicles” — so trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars; the “retrofitting” of every home, factory, and apartment building in the country; the construction of “high speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary;” the guarantee of a government a job; a “family-sustaining” wage with free college, state-provided “healthy food,” and “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for everyone; the banning of meat; and “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work, among other socialist grab-bag items.

All in the next decade.

6. More AOC, More Climate: Mario Loyola explains the true desires of the Queens Socialist’s agenda. From the analysis:

Worse still, despite the largest bureaucracy in the known universe, the capacity of the federal government to process permit applications is frightfully tiny. In a typical year, federal agencies issue permits to, at most, a few dozen solar and wind projects across the entire country. Individual federal agencies get totally overwhelmed by just a handful of permit applications. But guess what. The word “permit” also doesn’t appear once in the Green New Deal resolution.

Without overcoming these challenges, the Green New Dealers’ vision of a zero-carbon future is simply a fantasy. Yet they can hardly bring themselves to acknowledge that these challenges even exist. It’s hard to say whether they simply don’t understand the reality facing their zero-carbon ambitions, or just aren’t interested. Either way, their priorities simply seem to lie elsewhere.

I once asked a radical environmentalist: “If we found out that the planet was warming for purely natural reasons, would you be in favor of climate engineering to stop it, because the current temperature and sea level are the right ones for humans?” He was appalled. “No, of course not, man,” he said.

What really keeps that young man up at night, and many others like him, is not climate change, but capitalism. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said at the Green New Deal rally this week, “The climate crisis is a crisis born of injustice. It is a crisis born of the pursuit of profit at any and all human and ecological cost.”

The Green New Dealers may be in shabby shape when it comes to climate policy, but if saving the planet requires socialism, their hearts are in the trim.

7. More Climate, More Commies: Jimmy Quinn says Red China’s lip service will do nothing to stop Beijing’s environmental abuses. From the piece:

But there’s little reason for optimism about the administration’s “cooperative” approach, which has ramped up ahead of a virtual Earth Day summit that Biden is hosting later this week and in anticipation of an annual U.N. climate conference slated for November. Increasingly, China’s domestic energy production makes it ever less likely that it can meet the goals that it set out under the Paris Agreement and elsewhere. When the country’s leaders make sweeping pledges, as Xi did at the U.N. in September when he promised that China would reach carbon neutrality by 2060, they generate more fawning headlines than the follow-on action to achieve them would warrant. By every indication, China’s not just failing to cut its emissions; it is increasing its ability to continue to grow them, and it does so as certain Western observers play up Beijing’s false promises over a tangible trend that sees declining U.S. carbon emissions.

Data from 2020 illustrate this underappreciated discrepancy. Three-fourths of all new coal plants commissioned last year were commissioned in China, even as the number of coal plants in the rest of the world declined, according to a report by the Global Energy Monitor. As the situation stands, China will only continue to distance itself from achieving the benchmarks called for under the Paris Agreement. These are plants that will go online, meaning that they will account for future emissions growth. “They’re likely going to increase the amount of coal-power capacity that they have through 2025, maybe even 2030, and the IPCC, in their reports to keep global warming well below two degrees, called for between a 50 and 75 percent decrease in coal power generation by 2030,” said Christine Shearer, one of the report’s co-authors, in an interview. Currently, China accounts for half of coal-power capacity under development globally. But counted with projects to which Chinese entities offer financial assistance or engineering support, the country accounts for two-thirds to three-fourths of coal power being developed around the world, Shearer noted.

8. Tyler Merritt has something to say about the Men and Women in Blue, and their media and political detractors. From the piece:

Trevor Noah and Rashida Talib have a right to voice their opinions — just as I do. So here’s mine: These celebrities and politicians couldn’t walk a mile in the shoes of these officers or do what these brave men and women do every day. We’re talking about people who put their lives on the line for us on a regular basis without so much as a thank you from the national media.

Indeed, media coverage plays a large role here. So a plausible defense of such voices as Trevor Noah’s asking, “Where are the good apples?” is because we don’t hear their stories nearly enough. So, for once, let’s hear some of these stories.

Here’s one that took place on a stretch of highway outside Las Cruces, N.M. There, on February 4, Officer Darian Jarrott of the New Mexico State Police was shot at point-blank range by a drug dealer, Omar Cueva, at a traffic stop. Because of a miscommunication, Officer Jarrott was facing this suspect, who was known to have a violent criminal past, by himself. When Cueva pointed a gun pointed in his face, Jarrott did not even draw his own weapon, but seemed to have peacefully convinced Cueva to hand over his rifle — until Cueva changed his mind and fired. He shot Officer Jarrott multiple times and left him for dead.

Then there’s the case of Tampa, Fla., Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen. Last month, he stopped a drunk driver (barreling down the highway at over 100 miles per hour toward oncoming traffic) from slamming head-on into a young woman’s car by placing his car between them. Madsen, a father of three and beloved husband, didn’t survive the impact. As of today, there has been no mention of him on CNN.com.

9. Charles C.W. Cooke checks out the snowflakes while analyzing the new kids game, knife fighting. From the piece:

Just when I thought that America couldn’t possibly get any softer, people start suggesting that there’s a role for the police in preventing knife murders. The snowflake generation strikes once again.

Is there any tradition that the radicals won’t ruin? As the brilliant Bree Newsome pointed out on Twitter, “Teenagers have been having fights including fights involving knives for eons.” And now people are calling the cops on them? I ask: Is this a self-governing country or not? When Newsome says, “We do not need police to address these situations by showing up to the scene & using a weapon,” she may be expressing a view that is unfashionable these days. But she’s right.

Disappointingly, my colleague Phil Klein has felt compelled to join the critics. In a post published yesterday, Phil asked in a sarcastic tone whether the police should “somehow treat teenage knife fights as they would harmless roughhousing and simply ignore it.” My answer to this is: Yes, that’s exactly what they should do — yes, even if they are explicitly called to the scene. I don’t know where Phil grew up, but where I spent my childhood, Fridays were idyllic: We’d play some football, try a little Super Mario Bros, have a quick knife fight, and then fire up some frozen pizza before bed. And now law enforcement is getting involved? This is political correctness gone mad.

10. Meanwhile, that aforementioned Philip Klein considers the instant and new philosophy of Stab-It-Outicism. From the piece:

There are really two layers of arguments here.

One is that cops should somehow treat teenage knife fights as they would harmless roughhousing and simply ignore it. The other idea is that the officer should have figured out a way to resolve the situation without doing any harm — this even though video suggests a girl was seconds (or less) away from being stabbed. Why not shoot the leg? Or shoot the knife out of her hand?

People evidently believe this is like the movies. That somehow a cop is like Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, shooting a rope from hundreds of yards away to free Tuco from being hanged. In reality, this is not a sniper carefully getting in position to shoot a target. We’re talking about shooting a small, erratically moving target in real time. It is completely unrealistic to expect, no matter how well-trained a cop is.

To be clear, it’s possible more details will emerge that will require us to further reevaluate what transpired in Columbus. But the idea that cops need to take a step back and let teenagers stab it out with each other is completely insane.

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty is on to the MSM and how it made up its own reality about the death of Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick. From the article:

Many times, news stories are constructed just from a little accumulated hearsay. Instead of reporting that an event happened, newspapers report a subject’s claims that something happened, but do so in a way that makes the event itself seem like fact. Outrage and social-justice entrepreneurs have used this feature of the news business to produce hundreds of hoax political crimes. Those stories, too, explode and disappear in the flood of corrections eventually, but only after readers have internalized the atmosphere of crisis they created.

What’s insidious about this is that the news business itself increasingly resembles the QAnon phenomenon. The Q accounts on social media use basically the same techniques of de-contextualizing and re-contextualizing events within a pre-determined narrative, then moving on to the next arc before the previous one completely falls apart. The Capitol rioters were following the twists and turns of the Q accounts on Instagram and other message boards, the accounts hyped up Sidney Powell and Lin Wood that promoted the theory that Mike Pence could just refuse to count the phony electoral votes and, voilà, Trump would remain president. And once Biden was inaugurated, that narrative receded.

What’s astonishing in retrospect about the Q phenomenon is how much it resembled the mainstream media’s fascination with the Steele dossier and the drama of Robert Mueller’s investigation. In both cases, there was a supposed secret truth that would be revealed in an epic conclusion when the hero of the story laid a trap for the villains to walk into. In both cases, when the great, hoped-for narrative resolution didn’t materialize, a new narrative took over.

12. Transgenderism will brook no opposition, writes Charlie Cooke (encore!), about the canceling of Richard Dawkins. From the piece:

Demonstrating adroitly that nobody is safe from our current bout of gladiatorial Calvinball, the American Humanist Association has decided to retroactively cancel Richard Dawkins on the grounds that he is insufficiently devoted to transgenderism’s creed.

Dawkins’s crime was to have suggested on Twitter that transgender people are not, in a scientific sense, members of the sex with which they identify. “In 2015,” Dawkins wrote recently, “Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as.” In response, the AHA said that Dawkins was “making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalised groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values,” and took away an award that it had given Dawkins in 1996, thereby confirming his initial hypothesis.

Further justifying its decision, the AHA said that it was “aware that cis-white heteronormative patriarchal institutions, power structures, and social attitudes harm Indigenous, Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, disabled individuals, women and other communities — especially those at the intersections of marginalised identities.” Is there any institution left in America that doesn’t talk like this at the drop of a hat? Richard Dawkins, a renowned evolutionary biologist, says that men aren’t actually women, and immediately we hear incantations. It’s liturgical in nature and in habit: Our father, who could absolutely be our mother . . .

13. A stopped clock is right on occasion, and so is Bill Maher. Of late, maybe more so than before, suggests Kyle Smith. From the article:

Maher is consistently strong on the culture of freedom of expression, cancel culture, and the like, but later in the same episode he went so far as to defend Ron DeSantis, and red-state governors in general, for their approach to COVID. In a blistering seven-minute monologue Maher tore into medical professionals who misled us about the pandemic, media outlets pushing “panic porn” for ratings (“the U.S. national media reported almost 90 percent bad news even as things were getting better”), and conservatives who have “some loopy ideas about COVID.” But he reserved most of his scorn for liberals who are making disturbingly out-of-touch miscalculations about risks. Maher cited a shocking poll that showed two-thirds of Democrats believe the chances of being hospitalized if you get COVID are 20 percent or higher. (Actually, it’s less than 5 percent.)

Maher noted that there is a massive societal cost to this, and it’s being borne by our children. He cited the “exaggerated view of the danger of COVID to, and the mortality rate among, children. All of which explains why the states with the highest share of schools that are closed are all blue states.” Maher suggested conservative media should be responsible for “climate change denial” on the right but that the liberal media should be asked, “How did your audience wind up believing such a bunch of crap about COVID?” He segued to the media’s bizarre fixation on scolding beachgoers for supposedly spreading infection even though it appears “the beach is the best place to avoid it. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Liberals blinded by their priors about Republican governors are, Maher noted, willfully ignoring good news from Florida and Texas. “I’ve read that the governor of Florida reads,” he said. The audience laughed, expecting Maher to pull the rug out with the usual joke about Republican stupidity, but he didn’t. Instead, he described Governor Ron DeSantis as “a voracious consumer of the scientific literature and maybe that’s why he protected his most vulnerable population, the elderly, way better than did the governor of New York. Those are just facts.” Yet when everything gets filtered through politics, “If their side says COVID is nothing, our side has to say it’s everything. [President] Trump said it would go away like a miracle and we said it was World War Z.”

14. Maybe the problem with America’s schools, argues Daniel Buck, is the woke idiocy being taught at our colleges’ lefty education departments: From the piece:

I’m a conservative, but I began my career as an advocate of progressive pedagogy simply because I didn’t know anything else existed. While most teachers don’t openly align with political progressivism, they still look to the university for pedagogical guidance and curricular materials. So long as the university develops our teachers, influences our practices, and crafts educational materials, the faucet will run unchecked. To combat the progressivism in public schools, conservatives need to aim their focus at the university, not public schools or their teachers.

Progressive education falls into two broad iterations. The first is relatively benign — albeit questionably effective. In the minds of educational theorists such as Dewey and Rousseau, schools are not meant to transmit the best of any culture or shape the character of their students, but merely to observe and suggest. In place of teacher-directed classrooms and classical curricula, students choose their own literature and follow their own interests. Many conservatives and libertarians are quite comfortable with such child-centric philosophies of learning.

The second iteration features structuralists, Marxists, and feminists such as Michel Foucault, Paolo Freire, and bell hooks, who advanced an approach to instruction called “Critical Pedagogy,” one which goes beyond Rousseauean ideas of self-directed learning to instead deconstruct the very idea of being “educated.” Progressive pedagogy in the Rousseauean tradition is mediocre in its results but politically neutral; critical pedagogy is propaganda attempting to pass as instruction.

At its most egregious, schools of education push ideas such as “activist pedagogy,” which, as the name implies, would see students who will grow up to be activists deconstructing the society in which they live. In the ’90s, far before Critical Race Theory entered the common lexicon, Gloria Ladson-Billings advanced the need for “Critical Race Theory” in schools. Even Billings still maintained a belief in academic excellence, though, which authors like Ibram X. Kendi now renounce to instead suggest we test students on the mere knowledge of their own environments. In my own graduate program, our textbook suggested teachers should, if required to teach classic literature, do so through a Marxist, feminist, post-colonial, or critical-race “lens.”

15. Ryan Anderson and Adam J. MacLeod say Clarence Thomas has been right about the excessive power of Big Tech. From the beginning of the analysis:

How should conservatives think about the intersection of property rights, government regulation, and Big Tech? Part of answering this question requires us to gain a better understanding of the American legal tradition’s sources, recovering them from recent distortions. Justice Clarence Thomas recently sought to educate us on just this.

In his concurring opinion in Joseph Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Justice Thomas noted that First Amendment doctrines may not always apply when it comes to the considerable powers of Big Tech companies to control access to speech. Instead, he suggested that the Court and lawmakers might have to consider other legal limitations on the powers of Big Tech. “If part of the problem is private, concentrated control over online content and platforms available to the public,” he suggested, “then part of the solution may be found in doctrines that limit the right of a private company to exclude.” Those limits are found in the law. In many respects, Big Technology companies are like common carriers, such as telegraph and telephone companies, a legal status that entails a duty to serve everyone.

As this analogy shows, Justice Thomas correctly interprets positive law in light of the more fundamental, common law that we inherited from England at the time of the Founding. Our written constitutions and statutes often presuppose and declare preexisting rights and duties that the common law has long drawn from natural law, such as the duty not to steal, and from immemorial customs, such as the liberty to wander into a bookstore.

16. Pennsylvania Dem guv Tom Wolf is loving his extended game-playing with executive power, which Kevin Mooney says is long overdue for ending. From the piece:

In Pennsylvania, the business community is challenging Democratic governor Tom Wolf’s executive overreach amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvanians’ year-long calls for lawmakers to limit Wolf’s emergency powers have resulted in a historic ballot referendum, which would amend the state’s constitution and restore checks and balances if passed. Voters will be presented with that opportunity during the May 18 primary next month.

Since his initial restrictions last March, Wolf has vetoed at least twelve bills that lawmakers crafted to reopen the economy. He also enacted an uneven, opaque waiver process to determine which “life-sustaining” businesses could stay open. The Wolf administration has refused to release “exactly what criteria it was using to consider applications, or explain to applicants why waivers were granted or denied,” according to Spotlight PA.

Though Wolf has postured himself as an advocate for senior citizens who were most vulnerable to COVID-19, he has hindered lawmakers’ efforts to save essential senior-housing construction projects. Indeed, last spring, Wolf’s veto of a state senate bill to reopen the construction industry — based on federal guidelines — signaled that his pandemic response would prove chaotic. Wolf eventually relented to legislative pressure, but his initial executive actions delayed the completion of crucial senior-housing projects during the crisis.

17. Red China’s doing its 1619 takeoff, says Cameron Hilditch. It’s the 1921 Project. From the essay:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Xi is celebrating the occasion with a massive nationwide “Party-History Study.” The whole country is being subjected to a national propaganda campaign, mandating that every man, woman, and child in China learn the history of the CCP and the tenets of classical Marxism. Not just schools but also workplaces and public institutions will set exams testing each citizen’s proficiency at regurgitating the Party line on demand.

On February 20, Chairman Xi gave a speech at a “Mobilization Conference on Party-History Study and Education” in which he outlines the nature and purpose of the “party-history study.” From an American perspective, it’s perhaps the most important and revealing public address that Xi has yet given. Throughout the speech, published in the March 31–April 1 issue of the CCP’s official ideological magazine Qiushi, he spells out with crystaline clarity his view that the great-power rivalry between China and the West is, in the final analysis, an ideological battle to the death between capitalism and communism. Much of the speech could easily have been given by any of the Bolshevik premiers who preceded Mikhail Gorbachev.

The central theme of the speech is the contrast between “historical materialism,” as understood and endorsed by the CCP, and “bourgeois history” as practiced in the West. It’s clear that by “bourgeois history” Xi means the practice of investigating documents, artifacts, and records in an attempt to understand the past on its own terms. This academic methodology, which renounces the distorting practice of drafting history into the service of contemporary political ends, is anathema to him. He makes clear his view that history is valuable only to the extent that it is useful for political ends in the present. The purpose of the party-history study, he says, is to “comprehend the power of ideology and increase the political consciousness” of the Chinese people. “Marxism,” he continues, “is a powerful ideological weapon for us to understand the world, grasp the laws, pursue the truth, and transform the world. It is the guiding ideology that our party and country must always follow.” For this reason, he concludes, the study of history “cannot be for a moment without theoretical thinking, or without ideological guidance.”

18. There’s not a single issue over which someone can realistically describe Red China and the U.S. as allies. Isaac Schorr vents. From the piece:

And yet, now that China has arrived as a great power — one prosecuting a genocide inside its borders while seeking to extend them — many, including the powers-that-be in the Biden administration, seem intent on repeating those same mistakes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Antony Blinken or the other top brass at the State Department believe that with time, sunlight, and water, the current regime will soon give way to a better one. Few could have such naïveté fairly ascribed to them. However, they are acting on another equally pernicious premise: that the fundamental character of the CCP can and should be set aside at times so that the United States can work with the country on discrete issues.

We see this belief manifesting itself most notably and most recently in the United States’ efforts to engage with China on environmental issues. On Saturday, the American and Chinese governments released a joint statement announcing that “the United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.” Jimmy Quinn has already poured cold water on the idea that China’s actual environmental performance aligns with its lofty green rhetoric. Contra this statement, China is primed to increase its already world-beating emissions over the next several years. And nothing in the statement, or the Paris Agreement, or any other international accord will hold the CCP accountable for the discrepancy between its words and its actions.

The only beneficiary of the issuance of such a statement is the CCP itself, which has, for all intents and purposes, gotten the American government to certify that it takes climate change seriously and is acting to remedy it. Worse, this statement seems to place the United States and China on equal footing as contributors to and solvers of the problem, which the Chinese propaganda machine is sure to use to counter critiques of the regime’s human-rights violations and aggressive geopolitical posturing. It’s an enormous error for the Biden administration to earnestly believe and act upon the idea that the CCP is interested in environmental improvement, rather than the benefits that appearing to commit to such a goal confer upon it.

19. Harsanyi Encore: In which David excoriates Elizabeth Warren, of the Cherokee Tribe, for nastily meddling in the affairs  of the nation of 12 Tribes. From the assessment:

This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren implored Israel’s opposition parties to unite and oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that the United States could facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state. Though Democrats have quietly meddled in Israel’s elections numerous times over decades — from Clintonistas to Obamaites to the now-disgraced Lincoln Project — I can’t remember a United States senator ever openly chiming in on the democratic process of an ally in quite this way.

Speaking at a conference put on by the pro-Palestinian group J Street, Warren lamented Israel’s reluctance to go along with the “two-state solution,” which would in fact entail acquiescing to the demands of Hamas and the more “moderate” Palestinian Authority, which diverts hundreds of millions of dollars in international funding for monthly salaries, free education, insurance, and medical care for terrorists and their families. Rather than demand that Palestinians cease firing rockets at Israeli civilians or stop spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories among their population or scale back their “martyrs’ fund,” Warren said that the only way to alter Israel’s trajectory is for the opposition to unite against Netanyahu.

Warren claims that Netanyahu “has precipitated four stalemate elections in two years in his frenzied effort to immunize himself from well-documented charges of corruption,” which is a weird way of pointing out that the prime minister called for elections after a coalition collapse. Imagine, if you can, Warren’s reaction if a foreign political leader openly offered the GOP advice on how to win back the presidency. Foreign interference, indeed.

20. Who cares about facts, writes Robert Joseph, when you want to smooch Iran’s tuckus, as the Biden Administration seems intent on doing. From the article:

The administration’s myopic focus on rejoining the JCPOA also ignores the fundamental changes in the security environment of the Gulf region since 2015. The growing collaboration between Israel and the Gulf states, reflected in the Abraham accords, has at its core the goal of containing Iran and deterring its aggression. American allies from Jerusalem to Riyadh understand the nature of the Tehran regime and are working together to confront the threat. The concessions that the Biden administration is reportedly willing to make to return to the nuclear agreement will directly undercut the position of our allies. With relief from sanctions and with tacit agreement from the United States that it will not support the democratic opposition to the religious dictatorship, the Biden policy will strengthen our adversary and undermine our allies, to the long-term strategic detriment of our national interests.

Biden administration officials will, of course. reject all the above criticisms. Their response is conveyed in yet another frequently heard talking point, stating that rejoining the JCPOA is only the first step — a step that will be followed by negotiations to address the agreement’s flaws, such as its failure to limit ballistic missiles, and curb Iran’s malign behavior in the region through armed interventions and support for terrorism. These are the same objectives that were sought in the original negotiations but abandoned when the supreme leader ruled them out. That position has not changed, and there is no indication that it will. When the U.S. lifts sanctions as a condition of rejoining the agreement, it will be the last step, not the first step. Iran will have again achieved its objectives. And the U.S. will have again paid a high price for a bad deal.

Finally, as for ending Iran’s involvement in acts of state terrorism, one need look no further than the city where the negotiations are currently taking place. In February, an Iranian agent assigned to Tehran’s embassy in Vienna was convicted in a Belgian court of committing an act of state terrorism, for planning and supplying an explosive device intended to bomb a peaceful rally near Paris attended by tens of thousands seeking a democratic and secular Iran. Today that same embassy is providing support to the Iranian delegation in the JCPOA talks, and the reaction of the European host governments and the Biden administration: complete silence. But the message for Iran is loud and clear.

21. Kaj Relwof warns that weak-kneed Nutmeg Republicans could give hope to ballot-harvesting Democrats. From the article:

Challenged to point to any case in recent years when any Connecticut voter has been denied the right to vote, H.J. Res. 58 supporters have refused to take the bait and answer — because the answer is, there is no case. Indeed, the state laws which implement the constitution’s protection of election integrity are comprehensive and reasonable, allowing for voting by absentee ballot for those in the military, the ill and disabled, voters who will not be in a municipality on Election Day during voting hours, for those who “tenets of their religion forbid secular activity on the day of the primary, election, or referendum,” and for poll workers and other officials whose duties preclude them from voting at their polling place on Election Day.

The fact is, in any town in Connecticut, weeks before an election, assuming ballots are printed and available, a voter may apply (including in person at a municipal clerk’s office) for the ballot, receive it, and vote on the spot.

The author of this article would know, having cast his ballot several times via this means.

Yes, in Connecticut, blue Connecticut, of all places, there is some semblance of election-law sanity, on a par with the views held by a majority of Americans.

The battle to undo that has commenced and may take to the floor of the august legislative chambers in Hartford in the next days or weeks.

Those citizens who are appalled at the prospect of electoral chaos and disenfranchisement that will result from the adoption of the 58 and 59 twins should take heart: Even with the Democrats’ enormous numbers in the legislature, the 75 percent threshold is a supremely high one to reach.

A victory — for election integrity, for common sense, and for conservatives — is quite possible.

But then, maybe these citizens should despair after all, because the same can be said about Republicans’ ability to snatch defeat from Victory’s jaws.

Capital Matters

1. Tom Spencer runs the number and concludes Janet Yellen’s global tax will cause earthly damage. From the article:

In her speech, Yellen explained that the pressures of tax competition have prevented countries from enjoying full sovereignty over fiscal policy. If countries wish to spend more, and fund that spending with high corporate taxes, then they risk companies’ offshoring their profits and taking away any revenue that governments might gain. Countries such as Ireland, Moldova, and Paraguay have adopted extremely low rates to attract businesses to their shores. This has helped them compete with richer nations internationally, but has also resulted in a drop in American tax revenue, as companies move their profits toward these “havens.”

For Yellen, that simply won’t do.

But a global minimum tax isn’t the way to fix these problems. While countries’ abilities to raise corporate taxes is restricted by the fact that companies may offshore profits (and that may be problematic for governments in high-tax countries), that is a feature, not a bug. This economic phenomenon is well-known. It’s just called the Laffer Curve.

2. You got a friend in me — not. Jerry Bowyer wonders if Big Tech will soon be sitting alone in the cafeteria. From the piece:

When Amazon removed Ryan T. Anderson’s book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement” from its catalogue, it alienated conservatives. When it removed a documentary about Clarence Thomas from its catalogue, it alienated conservatives. When it removed the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council from its “Smile” charity program, it alienated conservatives. And yet the Democratic Party has not softened its rhetoric in the least. One need only look at Thursday’s congressional hearing for proof.

Have we made the point, Bezos and Jassy? They will never accept you. The mob cannot be bought off. In the eyes of the radicals, no number of banned books or censored conservatives will atone Amazon of its original sin: being a corporation. The Left is no more fond of Amazon than it was when Ryan Anderson could still sell books on the platform. But all these tech giants have, or had, a natural defender in conservatism, a movement that has historically been oriented toward defending businesses (even the mega-caps) from the interventions of the state. Now they are losing their support, and there is little reason to believe that the next Republican president or Republican-controlled Congress will respond to years of censorship by doubling down on free markets. From Senators Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley to President Trump to Tucker Carlson, conservatives are increasingly showing an enthusiasm, if mostly in rhetoric, to forgo their party’s historical inclinations and use the whips and reins of government to curtail the Left’s intrusion into the boardroom.

3. The story goes, says Sally Pipes, that Americans can’t afford health care. The facts say something quite different. From the article:

Eighteen percent of those polled by Gallup said that someone in their household had foregone care in the last twelve months because of cost. Thirty-five percent said they had cut spending on recreation to be able to afford health care.

These are eye-opening findings. But polls tell us what people say; numbers show what they really do. And there’s plenty of economic data to show that things are more complicated than Gallup’s survey says.

For instance, are Americans really delaying health care because they can’t afford it? If they were, we should have seen that pent-up demand satisfied in January, when household incomes rose by 10 percent.

That month, consumer spending jumped 5.3 percent. It wasn’t the health-care sector that saw the biggest gains, according to CNBC. The sharpest increases went to electronics and appliances outlets, furniture stores, and online retailers.

In other words, when Americans got their hands on surplus cash, they didn’t rush to the doctor’s office. They bought computers and remodeled their kitchens.

Despite the pandemic, between February 2020 and February 2021, U.S. household income rose 13 percent, according to the Commerce Department. Again, that extra income did not go to health care. In fact, consumer spending on health care remained down year-on-year as recently as January.

Where’s all that money going? The personal-savings rate leapt 80 percent last year. The food-delivery business is booming. Pet supplies are flying off the shelves. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies projects that spending on remodeling will increase on an annualized basis through early next year.

Lights. Camera. Review.

1. Kyle Smith gives Hope a very strong, positive review. From the beginning of the review:

You’re going to want to bail on this review after you read the next sentence, but don’t, because there’s a twist coming. Hope is a delicate Norwegian drama about a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer. But it’s not really about that. It doesn’t become clear until the final, perfect, wordless image of the film, but Hope is actually reassuring, in its way.

Tenderly written and directed by Maria Sodahl after her own cancer diagnosis, the film begins in triumph, with the premiere of a brilliant ballet choreographed by Anja (subtly portrayed by Andrea Bræin Hovig), who is living with her partner of 20 years, a producer named Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård). The pair have never married but they are raising six children together, three of them from his previous marriage.

Without directly addressing the topic, the film makes it clear that something has gone awry in this relationship. Tomas and Anja are polite to each other, but there’s a chill in the air, a distance, a silence. On the surface the pair preside over a large, bustling family, but when the two are alone, there seems to be very little to say. He didn’t even bother attending her premiere, and doesn’t much seem to care how it went over.

2. The Simpsons get carried out by the cultural tide, and Armond White is having none of its attack on the singer Morrissey: The Simpsons Try to Cancel Morrisey

When The Simpsons stirred animated television 32 years ago, with cartoonist Matt Groening’s eccentric alternative-press satire of the American-family archetype and sitcom vet James L. Brooks’s professional finesse, it was the acme of modern wit. Now, it’s been outwitted by its evil twin, Seth McFarland’s Family Guy (which regularly bashes famous conservatives). It’s just another example of modern decadence. The show’s creators have given up being funny and opted instead to scold and censure. It’s the same peculiarly decayed savvy and perverted social perception that ruined late-night television comedy. The Simpsons crew is another Hollywood outfit intent on dividing America and the pop audience.

This insult goes to the heart of contemporary cultural betrayal. The Smiths’ “Panic” is an evergreen song about the effects of the political tyranny — it’s strikingly relevant today. But The Simpsons avoids noting the song’s prescience and chooses cheap mockery. Unlike past Simpsons celebrity parodies (Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith), this pointedly political offense exposes today’s craven showbiz practices. Not surprisingly, Quilloughby was voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor who ironically won fame and an Oscar nomination (for playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game) through Harvey Weinstein’s influence.

The Simpsons slams Morrissey by ridiculing and misrepresenting his animal-rights stance and repeating media calumny that accuses him of racism. Lisa comes out and says it: “You’re a huge racist!” Lisa’s fractured psyche compels her need to attack others. When the empowered Left eats itself, no hypocrisy is out of bounds. One cultural institution viciously attacks another. Instead of teaching the complex moral lessons in Morrissey’s art, The Simpsons continues its practice of PC superiority. (One Simpsons actor apologized to the nation of India for the portrayal of the Apu character, yet the show’s producers have never apologized for the Reverend Lovejoy and Ned Flanders characters that trash Christianity.)

3. More Armond: He blasts the Oscar-snub of Michelle Pfeiffer. From the piece:

Michelle Pfeiffer’s role as Frances Price, a sardonic widow and mother living out her dwindling inheritance in French Exit, is the finest characterization in any movie from 2020. That she is not in contention for this weekend’s Academy Awards is reason enough to ignore the charade. It has become a kangaroo court in denial of meritocracy, an offense that deserves disdain the same way that Frances Price battles modern hypocrisy. She pulls her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) out of his boarding school, and they book an ocean liner to France, knowing she will meet her destiny.

In this comedy about wealth and death, Frances takes on privilege and finality with a boldness that Pfeiffer, whose film career began as the cheerleading babe in Grease 2, had to refine her talent to achieve. Defying all obstacles, Frances is world-weary without becoming defeatist. She questions social proprieties and keeps moving forward — an existential cheerleader wearing couture as a middle-aged socialite’s armor. Frances insults anyone in her way, saving admiration for others who transgress (her perception of a Parisian street bum) and for Malcolm, the son she dotes on (“I’ve never been so hurt as when I saw your face for the first time, because you were me”).

French Exit is a variation on Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame, the très gay comic novel from the 1950s in which a madcap woman urges her nephew to “live, live, live!” Pfeiffer’s madcap turn is not a drag queen, but her graying red hair, pale skin, and low voice impersonate French art-film actress Isabelle Huppert, whom an American arriviste might envy as a model of haughtiness. Pfeiffer uses that exasperatingly humorless attitude so that Frances (novelist Patrick deWitt’s Millennial twist on Auntie Mame) approaches mortality with the eccentricity of a screwball comedy heroine. The scene where Frances starts a fire in a Paris restaurant just to get a snotty waiter’s attention is as audacious as any stunt Carole Lombard or Katharine Hepburn ever pulled, yet ominous. Similarly, Frances is attached to a black cat who she believes is her late husband’s reincarnation.

4. More Kyle, who toasts Brewmance. From the review:

In a bitterly divided land, the great uniter is staring us squarely in the face: craft beer. From faithful Christians to revolutionary socialists, from beardy progressives in Brooklyn out to Orange County libertarians, everyone loves to monkey around with beer, and consuming the product makes us matey and cheerful. You want less rancor? Bring on more suds.

A disorganized but cheerful and spirited documentary, Brewmance, takes us through how the magical beverage is made out of only four ingredients (barley, hops, water, yeast), how the craft brew industry got going in the Seventies (all praise and thanks to Fritz Maytag, who built up San Francisco–based Anchor Steam), and what it takes to launch a commercial craft brewery. All this is seen through the eyes of two new startups in Long Beach, Calif.: Liberation Brewing Company and Ten Mile Brewing Company.

Liberation Brewing Company is run by Dan Regan, a trombone player who quit his band, Reel Big Fish, when it was time to get married and settle down to a boring job as a university administrator. Regan, the kind of guy who says things like “We got pregnant” and whose friends call him a socialist, developed a lot of expertise in craft beers while touring with his band, whose members made a habit of spending the afternoons on the road sampling the wares at whatever breweries were closest. He comes up with a stylish logo for Liberation Brewing (a tongue-in-cheek Cold War image of a falling bomb), and we watch as he takes over an old 98 Cents store, renovates the space, and finally, gloriously, opens to the public.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At the beloved and exceptional Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman sounds the warning about Red China’s predatory fishing fleet, emptying out the seas. From the piece:

Communist China seems increasingly to be depleting the world’s oceans of marine life. The country has by far the world’s largest fishing fleet of anywhere between 200,000 to 800,000 fishing boats — accounting for nearly half of the world’s fishing activity — approximately 17,000 of which belong to its distant-water fishing fleet. The growth has been made possible by enormous state subsidies. In 2012, for instance, the Chinese state poured $3.2 billion in subsidies into its fishing sector, most of it for fuel. However, according to a report from 2012, “government support for the fishing and aquaculture sector could be as much as CNY 500 billion (USD 80.2 billion, EUR 61.7 billion) when regional and national subsidies for rural-based fish farmers are taken into account.”

As noted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), many industrialized countries, having depleted their domestic waters, go distant-water fishing in the territorial waters of low-income countries, but China’s distant-water fleet is by far the largest in the world. The ODI also noted that ownership and operational control of China’s fleet is both “complex and opaque”.

“China’s leaders see distant water fleets as a way to project presence around the world,” Tabitha Mallory, CEO of the consulting firm China Ocean Institute and affiliate professor at the University of Washington told Axios. “The aim is to be present all over the world’s oceans so that they can direct the outcomes of international agreements that cover maritime resources.”

Chinese fishing vessels deplete the stocks of countries not only in Southeast Asia, but also as far away as the Persian Gulf, South America, West Africa and the South Pacific. Their predatory and unsustainable fishing methods are endangering not only marine life, but also the livelihoods of local fishermen. China is considered to be the largest perpetrator of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) in the world, as well as the largest subsidizer in the world of such practices.

2. Eradicating Western Civ honors courses (and The Bible!), reports The College Fix’s Rachelle Hernandez, is the new mantra of Black students at Chicago’s Loyola University. From the article:

The Honors Black, Indigenous, People of Color Coalition described a number of goals in an Instagram post. The group appears to have deleted its entire Instagram page, as it no longer can be seen as of April 20, however the Loyola Phoenix has a screenshot of it.

Students want to “Eradicate the focus on Western Civilization and Tradition and expand the scope of the Honors 101/102 to have a greater emphasis on global intellectuality” the post said, and “Diversify faculty that will honor and respectfully teach each text with cultural competency.”

Other goals include better support for racial minority students in the honors program and recruitment of a diverse student body.

The most recent syllabus posted is for the 2018-19 school year, but based on comments made by the students, it appears to be still in use.

Students are asked to read works such as “The Prince” by Machiavelli, “Persuasion” by Jane Austen and the writings of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.

One historical work that students are upset about is the Bible.

“I personally did not like reading the Bible whatsoever, in any capacity,” honors student Himani Soni said during an Honors BIPOC townhall in March.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, James Como considers the “anatomizing” of our cultural schizophrenia. From the beginning of the reflection:

Once — long enough ago for the grandparents of anyone reading this not to have been born — things were real (I mean the world, not plastic or nylon), but we have forgotten that. Now the world is as we please to see it.

For example, now a person can have a penis but not be male, simply because that person ‘identifies’ as, that is, personally prefers to be, a woman, or both a man and a woman, or neither. And whereas in grandmother’s day such a person would have been regarded as, at best, ‘quirky’, now anyone who does not go along is an ‘ist’ of some sort — perhaps a ‘genderist’?

The unreal became a double helix of our inner and outer worlds, as the Selfism of the Me Decade of the Sixties and the Culture of Narcissism of the Seventies saturated the DNA of Western culture. Near the turn of the twentieth century ‘character’ became ‘personality’, the root of which word lies in ‘mask’.

One acquired traits rather than virtues and flaws and could not only reinvent oneself (e.g., Oscar Wilde, Madonna) but be celebrated for the act. And it became precisely that: an act. We became a population of performers, even creating fictionalized, curated Selves in the form of online ‘profiles’.

Lying beneath such a weltanschauung of unreality is its epistemology. But since theories of knowledge — from Plato to Descartes to Bishop Berkeley to the non-existence of consciousness itself — are above my pay grade, we’re better off at ground-level. Martin Luther may have made “every man his own priest,” but postmodernism, arising inevitably from the detritus of our fake imperium, has made each of us the maker of worlds, each with its cause, slogans, concepts, policies, programs, style, trends, and linguistic requirements.

4. More from TIC, this time the ever-lovin’ Brad “Double B” Birzer shares his C.S. Lewis Top-10 book list. From the piece:

The seventh book is Lewis’s little (but mighty and profound) book, An Experiment in Criticism, published first in 1961, just two years before his death. In it, Lewis offers his most incisive as well as expansive definition of mythology. Further, he notes, in a theme he pursued much of his life, the best critics are those who love the genre they’re criticizing. Those who lack any sympathy whatsoever, with the subject analyzed, have no business reviewing that particular book, piece of music, or work of art. His two chapters on myth and fantasy are, alone, worth the price of the entire book.

One of Lewis’s best theological fantasies (is it fiction, an allegory, or a work of theology?) is The Great Divorce. Having almost nothing to do with marriage and its dissolution, the book — in Dantesque fashion — follows one man (Lewis himself) from hell into purgatory and toward (does he ever reach it?) heaven, guided by the spirit of George MacDonald. Though it moves at a blistering pace (hence, one must ask if it’s more fiction or more theological treatise), Lewis as author and as character asks the most vital questions one can ask: what is man, what is God, what is free will, what is relationship (to man and to God)? It is a beautiful story that captivates from the first to the last moment.

5. At The Spectator, Stephen Miller discusses the knife fight to which Democrats have brought a gun. From the analysis:

‘Let them kill each other’ is now the message coming from the White House, the activist left and mainstream media pundits in the wake of the police shooting death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. After several hours of speculation, Bryant was shown on police body camera footage attacking multiple people with a long kitchen knife outside a residence. Bryant was shot when she charged a girl up against a vehicle with the knife. The officer fired four times, mortally wounding Bryant, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Instead of admitting error in jumping to conclusions — that this incident was somehow linked to Derek Chauvin being found guilty of the murder of George Floyd — Twitter activists, cable news hosts and even the White House doubled down on the tale of a racist police officer sticking his gun where it didn’t belong. Bree Newsome, the activist famous for scaling a flag pole and tearing down a Confederate flag tweeted, ‘Teenagers have been having fights including fights involving knives for eons. We do not need police to address these situations  by showing up to the scene & using a weapon against one of the teenagers. Y’all need help. I mean that sincerely.’

Valerie Jarrett, a former Obama adviser, echoed this sentiment by tweeting, ‘A Black teenage girl named Ma’Khia Bryant was killed because a police officer immediately decided to shoot her multiple times in order to break up a knife fight. Demand accountability.  Fight for justice.’ While appearing on CNN, former head of the NAACP Cornell Brooks declared it a schoolyard fight:

‘What if it were your daughter, what if it were your child, a member of your family, your neighbor in a — essentially in a teenage fight, a schoolyard fight?’

Attorney Ben Crump tweeted, ‘As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another Child lost! Another hashtag.’

The New York Times later printed Mr Crump’s tweet, editing out his claim that the girl was unarmed. The Times has not explained why they edited a published tweet without editorial comment.

6. At the National Association of Scholars website, Louis K. Bonham reports on Orwellian doings at the University of Texas, Austin. From the beginning of the report:

Last summer, a working copy of the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — Strategic Plan” was leaked by a UT employee. As detailed in an earlier National Association of Scholars article, this plan included political litmus tests for hiring, promotion, and even scholarship. As the article concluded:

In the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” university leadership has decided to end its search for truth and to instead become a redistribution scheme for the transfer of money from students and taxpayers to new hires that, by necessity, must be committed zealots of the regime. If this plan takes effect, Texans of diverse opinions can say goodbye to any dream of being hired by its most prestigious university.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also weighed in, sending UT a letter expressing similar concerns that the plan “presents a serious threat of establishing a viewpoint-based litmus test for both hiring and promotion.”

Not to worry — UT eventually responded, explaining that the leaked document was only an incomplete draft, and that UT would “continue to seek faculty with a wide range of political, religious, philosophical, ideological, and academic viewpoints.” Last week, after rumors from UT insiders circulated that UT President Jay Hartzell might be tactically delaying approval of this plan until after the Texas Legislature adjourns in May, UT quietly announced that the plan had been approved.

While the final version of UT’s strategic plan has been massaged from the prior draft, in substance the plan’s means, objectives, and import remain the same: all faculty hiring and promotion decisions — and even the conferring of endowed chairs and teaching awards — must now be scrutinized through the lens of whether faculty contribute to “diversity, equity, and inclusivity.” Millions of dollars will be spent on mandatory “diversity officers,” whose job will be to enforce this diversity orthodoxy. New positions will be created that will be open only to those who would “increase diversity” at UT. Muddying the waters further, the plan now adopts the amorphous, undefined concept of “diversity skills” as a yardstick for hiring and performance.

Of course, what UT actually means by “diversity” (much less “equity” or “inclusivity”) is never specified. What is clear is that UT is not merely focused on guaranteeing equal opportunity and nondiscrimination (and perhaps enhanced faculty recruiting/retention efforts among certain groups) in hiring and promotion, but is instead implementing an “equality-of-results” identity-politics model. More troubling, all prospective and current faculty are effectively required to embrace this new orthodoxy.

7. At Law & Liberty, Kai Weiss and Nathaniel Bald glean lessons from Europe’s Christian Democrats. From the essay:

Of the new ideas emerging from the fusionists’ supposed downfall, national conservatism and integralism dominate most conversations. Whereas Catholic integralism hopes to achieve a confessional state through which the government actively promotes religious beliefs — potentially even penalizing those who do not follow the prescribed faith — national conservatism has risen to prominence with a reorientation away from global capitalism and towards more national and local approaches, including industrial policy and protectionism under the banner of the national interest. The idea that connects these emerging factions is a greater reliance on strategy and intervention from the central government.

Both groups make accurate observations. Local communities, social institutions such as the family and Church, and Tocquevillian associations that make up the social fabric have been severely weakened. To some extent, globalization and technology have played roles in the unraveling of society (although we should not underestimate the destruction government policy has wrought). A loss of a more profound understanding of the human person, dignity, and freedom has left our modern societies often with strictly materialistic, progressive, and relativistic worldviews that lack a greater appreciation for what a good and free life actually is. One does not need to be an ultra-traditionalist to believe that modern society is coming apart on several fronts.

Conservatives should not, however, resort to the false promise of centralized political decision-making to fulfill their hopes by brute force. A rich tradition from Europe which has infrequently caught the attention of Americans may offer an alternative path: Christian Democracy.

8. In the new issue of Commentary, Jonathan Schanzer profiles the Biden Administration’s gutting of Trump achievements in U.S.-Saudi relations. From the essay:

The kingdom’s detractors today embrace the idea of empowering Iran at the expense of its Sunni neighbors. The kingdom’s defenders, by contrast, see Saudi Arabia as an important bulwark against Iran. This is the simplified version of the story. But a better argument for giving Saudi Arabia an opportunity to earn its place in the American alliance system stems from its ambitious reform plan, launched in 2016, known as “Vision 2030.”

Simply put, the goal of Vision 2030 is to drag Saudi Arabia out of its antiquated oil economy and to shed its ascetic Wahhabi ideology in the process. Under the leadership of the kingdom’s impulsive crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (commonly referred to as MBS), the country set its sights on improved education, a shift away from the economic model in which the state rains money on the populace, and a raft of reforms that would better serve its own people, who are skewing younger each year and are hungry for change.

The process has been profoundly imperfect, but nonetheless astounding. Radical clerics who for years dominated public opinion in the kingdom have become marginalized. Women are driving. The country’s ubiquitous religious police, the mutawa, has been de-fanged. And the export of Wahhabi ideology is down, with madrassas and other traditional Saudi-funded hotbeds of extremist education shuttering across the Muslim world.

The effort is far from complete. Women still lack the same rights as men. Citizens are jailed for political reasons. And there is no free press to cover it. The country is still a monarchy in every meaningful sense. But the changes are nonetheless jaw-dropping to those familiar with the country’s history of backwardness. The Saudis invited me to see it for myself, and while much work remains, I can attest to the change.

My greatest skepticism related to how the Saudis view Jews. If they couldn’t cease to vilify adherents of other faiths, then their reforms would be short-lived and insignificant. The Saudis seem to understand this. The government-funded Muslim World League was for years a loathsome NGO that promoted vile anti-Semitism. But in recent years, under the leadership of cleric Mohammed al-Issa, the NGO has conducted pointed outreach to Jews, signaling major shifts in its views. The Muslim World League has even launched a campaign decrying Holocaust denial, representing a remarkable shift from its pre-9/11 platform.

9. Last but oh-so-not least, t the Voegelin View, Lee Trepanier interviews fan favorite Daniel J. Mahoney about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his memoir, Between Two Millstones. From the interview:

What did Solzhenitsyn think of Sakharov? What did he make of Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union?

On the deepest level, Solzhenitsyn admired Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet physicist (and one of the inventors of the Soviet version of the hydrogen bomb). They had engaged together in the great “encounter battle” with the Soviet state in the fall of 1973 that Solzhenitsyn describes so artfully and energetically near the end of The Oak and the Calf. Sakharov was a man of immense dignity and nobility who was moved by “pangs of repentance and conscience,” as Solzhenitsyn put it, to challenge the totalitarian Soviet state he had once faithfully served. His was a “heroic conversion.” And by the mid-1970s Sakharov no longer blamed the Soviet tragedy on Stalin alone, but had come to appreciate the essential corruption of the Soviet enterprise since its founding in 1917.

But this fundamentally good man stubbornly held on to illusions. While rejecting Marxism, he remained dedicated to atheistic humanism and a misplaced faith in “all-round progress,” rule by experts and technocrats, and a world-governing authority in the form of a World Government. Solzhenitsyn was appalled by this scientism (and its hostility to religious consciousness) coupled with a faith in the religion of Progress, World Government, and an apolitical “human rights ideology.” Solzhenitsyn admired Sakharov’s final fight for civic and intellectual freedoms during the meeting of the Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989. Here, near the end of his life, Sakharov was an undisputed voice of truth and civic integrity.

Solzhenitsyn noted that he and Sakharov were of the same age, grew up in the same country, were uncompromising in fighting the same evil system, and were “vilified at the same time by a baying press; and . . . both called not for revolution but reforms.” Despite their significant differences, as much spiritual as political, they respected and admired each other. Both were undoubtedly heroes who believed in liberty and human dignity and were willing to sacrifice a great deal for that cause. One thing alone divided them: “Russia.” Sakharov was an internationalist and hardly had any deep affective attachment to historic Russia. Thus, in Solzhenitsyn’s chastened love of country, he could only espy a lurking danger for the present and future.

At first, Solzhenitsyn feared that Gorbachev’s reforms were superficial, a new and temporary set of reforms within the broader structure of ideological orthodoxy and state tyranny. Gradually, he came to realize that glasnost did indeed entail the very publicity — and at least partial openness — for which Solzhenitsyn himself had been calling for so many years. Of course, Gorbachev had continuing illusions about Lenin and never freed himself wholly from Communist categories and thinking. Later, Solzhenitsyn worried about a repetition of February 1917, a headlong fall into chaos and disorder in a too-precipitous effort to “democratize” the country and to “liberalize” the economy. The themes of his epic March 1917 were very relevant to this new situation, but the book was not yet available to Solzhenitsyn’s compatriots.

A Dios

“H” as we shall refer to him, young father and husband afflicted with tumors, still needs fervent prayers. Yours. Days from dying a year back, he remains in the fight — fueled in part by spiritual inspiration and, we contend, Godly intervention, surely the result of your entreaties. Please continue to ask (when we do, the door shall be opened). Also prayers for Officer J. He is determined to beat the cancer that torments him, and recommends a conspiracy — involving the communion of saints and believers such as you — to storm Heaven with specific intentions.

Charge!

May He Who Knows Every Hair on Your Head Bring You the Peace You Seek,

Jack Fowler, who is in a penultimate frame of mind, seeking from you nothing, but offering his ether-receptacle for any who wish to send a missive, no matter the subject — it is to be found at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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