The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Loaves and Fishy

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Those goldarned Dems! Remember Lyndon Johnson and his Ballot Box 13 — brazen but gotta admire that, no?

By the way, on Thursday morn this was happening in Michigan. It’s one of several scenes from places where the vote process is obviously broken. But hey, that’s why votes get fixed. There are even some places where miracles happen — more votes cast than voters registered. Loaves and fishes! Somebody must have watched The Great McGinty.

That said, don’t make a peep! Don’t raise an eyebrow! If you think you’ve seen what you just saw, well, you just may be a conspiracy theorist. Who makes your hats, Reynolds Wrap?

Don’t forget: The Washington Post told us that “Democracy dies in darkness,” and as anyone can see in that video, behind the locked doors, the Democrats have the lights turned on. So why doncha just move along . . .

As we go to press, the ball is in play, the refs haven’t yet called offsides or icing. We’ll move along all right, because our purpose here is to offer you more links than you’d find at an Oscar Mayer barbeque. And so we shall. Short-and-sweet, then expanded further on down because . . . these Weekend Jolts plump when you cook ’em!

But First, Consider Fellowship

National Review Institute’s acclaimed Burke to Buckley program (do check out the syllabus) seeks applicants for its upcoming Spring 2021 sessions in NYC and Philly. Apply here.

Short and Sweet, NR Links Ungussied

Editorial: We contend the President has the right to defend his interests, but should tame the rhetoric: Read it here.

Victor Davis Hanson says the gas-lighting of the middle class has been quite intentional. The Disinformationists.

Rich Lowry says the Never Trump fantasy of “cleansing” Biden landslide didn’t happen, and The Donald, win or lose, will still be a formidable presence: Trump’s Staying Power.

The Golden State rejects racial quotas. Will Swaim is thrilled by the slice of sanity. California: Not as Crazy as We Thought.

Kathryn Jean Lopez assembles her own links on the foster-care case heard this week by SCOTUS. Check it out here.

Ryan Young explains state initiative wins for the free market: Free-Market Victories Down the Ballot.

Alexandra DeSanctis is convinced The Left Doesn’t Understand Women.

Michael Brendan Dougherty says it is only the first step: Asking for the Black Vote.

Helen Raleigh explains why the biggest Red state prefers the former Veep: Why Beijing Hopes for a Biden Win.

Lee Edwards Scores the ChiCom’s brutal record: A Reminder that China Is One of the World’s Worst Human-Rights Offenders.

Zilvinas Silenas checks out the GDP numbers, likes what he sees, fears what might happen: The Economy Is Recouping Better than Expected but Lockdown Politics Could Still Sabotage the Recovery.

Ramesh Ponnuru takes on a critic: Oren Cass vs Public-Choice Economics.

Are those tears in Brad Palumbo’s eyes? Kamala Harris’s Economic Philosophy Is No Laughing Matter.

David Harsanyi schools a New York Times blowhard: Pro-Choicers, Not Christians, Are Today’s Abortion Fundamentalists.

Madeleine Kearns reports on a Prime Minister in trouble: Boris Johnson, Floundering.

More Madeleine: Britain’s new lockdown forgets the Magna Carta: Sacrificing Freedom for Safety.

Kyle Smith proposes MSM awareness, and knows it’s a pointless idea: The Media Need to Reflect on This Election Result.

Armond White assails the political heavy hands performing on SNL: Saturday Night Live and Its Mean-Spirited Players.

More Armond: He digs the new Kevin Costner flick: Let Him Go: A Morally Superior Neo-Western.

Brian Allen misses non-electronic face-to-face, but makes do with the 2020 virtual arts fair: Aphrodite, Heracles, and an Ephebe in a Virtual Arts Fair.

More Brian: He’s loving North Carolina’s Mint Museum: Go South, Art Lovers, for Beautiful Craft and Design.


1. We contend the President has the right to defend his interests, but should tame the rhetoric. From the editorial:

Of course, any credible allegations of irregularities should be tracked down, and the more transparency, the better. Republican election observers should be especially vigilant in locales such as Philadelphia, where the Democratic machine has a well-earned reputation for shady dealing.

Trump’s legal team should rigorously protect his interests and pursue recounts, an entirely legitimate tactic, as warranted. If a close result in Pennsylvania depends on late-arriving absentee ballots counted under the new rules written by the state supreme court, that indeed could be a matter for the U.S. Supreme Court (although reports suggest the number of such ballots is very small).

In the future, other states need to adopt the election rules and practices of Florida. The Sunshine State managed to tally a prodigious number of early votes quickly and have a reliable result within hours of the polls closing. Everyone else should be able to do it, too.

And Now the Full-Blown Version of Recommendation from the Great Conservative Website Some of Us Still Call “NRO”

1. Victor Davis Hanson reviews the elites’ campaign antics and concludes that the gas-lighting and pile-on is intentional and class-directed. From the article:

Big liberal donors sent cash infusions totaling some $500 million into Senate races across the country to destroy Republican incumbents and take back the Senate. In the end, they may have failed to change many of the outcomes.

But did they really fail?

Democrats dispelled the fossilized notion that “dark money” is dangerous to politics. They are now the party of the ultra-rich, at war with the middle classes, whom they write off as clingers, deplorables, dregs, and chumps.

In that context, the staggering amounts of money were a valuable marker. The liberal mega-rich are warning politicians that from now on, they will try to bury populist conservatives with so much oppositional cash that they would be wise to keep a low profile.

Winning is not the only aim of lavish liberal campaign funding. Deterring future opponents by warning them to be moderate or go bankrupt is another motivation.

2. He may lose, but Rich Lowry has bad news for Never Trump fantasists: The Donald is not exiting the GOP room. From the article:

Nevertheless, Trump points to a viable GOP future even if he comes up short. He posted startling gains among Latino voters. This shows it’s possible to imagine a working-class-oriented Republican Party that isn’t a demographic dead end but that genuinely crosses racial lines, even if this potential is still inchoate.

Given how Trump’s base showed up massively in the past two presidential elections, it’s also unlikely that these voters are going to be jettisoned anytime soon by some other Republican presidential candidate. Indeed, the education- and class-based re-sorting of the GOP — affluent suburbs peeling off and working-class voters coming on board — predated Trump.

The concerns of these voters have to figure prominently in the agenda of the GOP going forward. That doesn’t require embracing any particular Trump policy — steel tariffs, for instance, have been a bust — but it does mean the party will inevitably have a populist coloration.

One lesson of Trump is that presidential politics rewards entrepreneurial candidates who figure out a new way to win a party’s nomination and to campaign. Trump imitators will likely fail. Instead, the name of the game should be figuring out how to hold the Trump base while recovering ground in the suburbs, especially given that Trump’s electoral path might have been too narrow even for Trump himself to duplicate.

3. Ryan Young says the free market won important victories on Election Day. From the piece:

While they were at it, California voters also said no to expanding rent controls, finally heeding the warnings economists have been shouting since the 1940s.

New York and other states are considering their own AB5-style measures. The federal PRO Act, which passed this Congress and will likely be reintroduced next session, would implement a nationwide version of AB5. The prospects for these have now dimmed.

Illinois voters said no to giving their legislature the ability to raise taxes more easily. The Illinois state constitution requires a flat income tax. The Fair Tax Amendment would have changed that to allow a progressive tax and would have made tax increases easier. The Illinois legislature had already passed a separate tax hike bill, conditional on voters approving the amendment. Voters disapproved by a 55–45 margin, and taxes will remain as they are.

Oregon decriminalized possession of hard drugs. Five other states legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, including socially conservative Mississippi. Oregon and the District of Columbia also decriminalized hallucinogenic mushrooms. These are important libertarian victories, and not in the snickering libertine sense. These are victories for the rule of law.

4. Zilvinas Silenas sees surprisingly good economic numbers, but fears that lockdown politics might kneecap the recovery. From the article:

The truth is not that our current 7.9 percent unemployment rate is extraordinarily high by historic standards, but rather that our pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate was extraordinarily low. We had a red-hot economy, which was, unfortunately, dunked in a bath of ice water.

If you look across the Atlantic, the European Union’s average unemployment rate has hovered above 7.9 percent for most of the past 20 years. That’s right: The American economy amid a pandemic is doing better than Europe in a good year.

Remember this when politicians push more taxes and more government regulations, or when your friend at the cocktail party complains that the U.S. “should be more like Europe” while smoking a Cohiba Behike and sipping his Louis Tre.

Going back to U.S. unemployment numbers, New York, California, and Texas got 240,000 people back on the job in September alone. While that’s good news, those three states have lost 3 million jobs since the beginning of the year. So it will take at least 12 months of September’s job gains just to make up the jobs lost.

The moral of the story: It is easy to shut down the economy, but not so easy to get it going again.

It took five years to halve 2009’s unemployment level of 10 percent. It took seven years to go from 10 percent unemployment in 1982 to 5 percent in 1989. It took eight years to go down from 7 percent unemployment in 1961 to 3.5 percent in 1969.

5. Helen Raleigh explains why Red China is rooting for Biden. From the analysis:

China started land-reclamation efforts in the South China Sea in 2013. Beijing initially proceeded slowly and cautiously while evaluating the Obama-Biden administration’s reaction. It sent a dredger to Johnson South Reef in the Spratly archipelago. The dredger was so powerful that it was able to create eleven hectares of a new island in less than four months with the protection of a Chinese warship.

When it became clear that the Obama-Biden administration wouldn’t do anything serious to push back, China ramped up its island-building activities. China insisted that its land-reclamation efforts were for peaceful purposes, such as fishing and energy exploration. However, satellite images show there are runways, ports, aircraft hangars, radar and sensor equipment, and military buildings on these manmade islands.

Noticing the Obama-Biden administration’s unwillingness to push back on China’s island-building activities, China’s smaller neighbors decided to find other means of addressing the crisis at hand. In 2013, the Philippines filed an arbitration case under the UNCLOS over China’s claims of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected the majority of China’s claim of the South China Sea. It also ruled that China’s island build-up was not only unlawful but also a blatant violation of the Philippines’ economic rights and that it “had caused severe environmental harm to reefs in the chain.” Beijing chose to ignore the ruling and press ahead with more island construction and militarization.

6. The great Lee Edwards reminds all of Red China’s horrid record on human rights. Lee Edwards Scores the ChiCom’s brutal record: From the article.

Today, General Secretary Xi Jinping, whose photo is linked with that of Mao wherever you turn in China, is leading an Orwellian campaign of control and intimidation of the 1.3 billion people of China, running roughshod over human rights whether the U.N. recognizes it or not. Like any totalitarian party, Xi’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is everywhere.

It persecutes religious minorities to a degree not seen since the most repressive days of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. According to reliable sources, including the U.S. State Department, more than 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims have been placed in internment camps designed to “erase religious and ethnic identities.” Camp officials have abused, tortured, and killed as many as 20,000 detainees, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project. The prominent Uyghur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti, for example, suffered a heart attack during his internment and died shortly after being released. When his body was returned to his home, his legs were still chained.

Members of all faiths are routinely questioned by the government and often imprisoned. Freedom House reports that at least 100 million Protestant Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners face very high levels of persecution. Pastor Wang Yi, leader of the Early Rain Church, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” in a closed-door trial with no defense lawyer. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

7. Fat Chance: Kyler Smith counsels media reflection on its blindness, but knows the boys on the bus will stick to outrage. From the beginning of the piece:

The Democratic Party, reports Politico, is in a dizzy state of morning-after soul-searching right now. Some partisans are excoriating the party for choosing a lackluster, tired, don’t-scare-the-livestock presidential candidate based solely on a concept of “electability” that proved true only in the barest, most humiliating sense. Others note that Joe Biden was the quintessential Washington hack, hardly the embodiment of an Obama-like fresh start. Influential members of the party will give a sharp tug in the general direction of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. They’ll say climate change or inequality or racism should have been central to the party’s pitch. Instead, the offer the Biden campaign made was: vote for the boring old geezer, at least he’s not Trump. It was as if an entire football game was played with the prevent defense.

The media will be tempted to follow that storyline, and their frustration with Biden as he settles into a caretaker presidency that is probably ideal for him will be evident. They should resist the temptation. What the leading news outlets should do instead is take a long look in the mirror while they contemplate why Trump proved so difficult to defeat: It was because he ran against the media, the one institution that is hated almost as widely as he is. As Rich Lowry eloquently put it, Trump was “the only middle finger available.” Will the media respond by being less hysterical, less partisan, more measured and reasonable and fair? Of course not. The media have many characteristics in common with Trump, and one of them is: They never change.

8. The new Boris Johnson, scarcely recognizable from the original model, is in trouble, and Madeleine Kearns knows why. From the article:

When Theresa May was prime minister, many conservatives preferred Johnson. The two appeared to be opposites. In breaking the Brexit deadlock, he promised to be optimistic, bold, and decisive. The country agreed with this assessment, delivering a Conservative landslide in the last general election. But his luck appears to have run out. From his invocation of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” to his infamous “rule of six” coronavirus micromanagement, Johnson is a shadow of his former rambunctiously libertarian self and, worse, scarcely recognizable to the man voters elected. Last year, Brexit was the all-consuming drama, and he the hero, but now it is little more than a tedious sideshow. Even Nigel Farage has suggested changing the name of the Brexit Party to Reform UK, with a new top priority: Fighting the Tory government’s coronavirus policy.

The loss of faith in Johnson is happening as much within the party as outside of it. Among Tory MPs, Johnson is facing a potential mutiny. Old-school libertarians such as Sir Graham Brady, a senior conservative MP, complained that the lockdown would be “immensely damaging to people’s livelihoods,” “deeply depressing,” and terrible for “people’s mental health and family relationships.” It would appear that prime minister’s consistency crisis is causing a confidence crisis. His enemies have spotted an opening.

9. More Madeleine: The new Coronavirus lockdown has the British government sacrificing freedom for “safety.” From the piece:

Ever since lockdown measures were first enacted, critics have documented overly zealous policing, the micromanagement of which items can be bought in stores, and which forms of outdoor exercise are allowed. Now that Britain is on the brink of a second lockdown, the government has suggested keeping families from different households apart, as well as outlawing public worship.

The manifestations of such policies can be heartbreaking as well as absurd. Consider the recent episode of a 73-year-old woman — a qualified nurse, no less — arrested for attempting to take her 97-year-old mother out of a care home. This appalling episode was caught on camera by the arrested woman’s daughter, Leandra Ashton, who explained that the family were acting ahead of the enactment of the second nationwide lockdown, since they had already been unable to see their grandmother for nine months. Ashton complained: “When the rules — like so many in this period of our history — are purporting to be in place to ‘protect’ but yet are causing untold damage to physical and mental health then you start breaking the rules.” She added that this was a “Kafka-esque nightmare” with “people in masks coming to take your relative away from you.”

Freedom of religion is similarly under assault. Though Magna Carta lays out that the established church “shall be free and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties inviolable,” the current Tory government takes a different view. Never mind that there is next to no evidence to suggest that churches, most of which have enacted COVID security measures, have been responsible for the spread of the virus, they will nevertheless be closed. Theresa May, a former prime minister, summed up the problem well in Parliament: “My concern is that the government today, making it illegal to conduct an act of public worship, for the best of intentions, sets a precedent that could be misused for a government in the future with the worst of intentions, and it has unintended consequences.”

10. David Harsanyi schools New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s about the Left’s sacramental approach to abortion. From the piece:

Kristof points to the views of Baptists in the 1970s as proof of the Christian regression on abortion rights. Many secularists have convinced themselves that actual Christians are just as incurious and stultified as the Christians of their imagination. The Christians I know, and I happen to know many, often grapple with how scientific advances affect faith. When it comes to abortion, it’s the progressives who act like fundamentalists.

Just today, I ran across a story about a boy named Logan Ray — born at 23 weeks, weighing just 1.5 pounds and measuring twelve inches long — celebrating his first birthday. One day soon, there will be babies celebrating birthdays who were born at 21 weeks. And then 20. And those who treat abortion as both rite and right will continue to make arbitrary distinctions between “fetal life” and life itself, just as Kristof does. For those who believe in actual science, the concept of life isn’t contingent on a mother’s decision, the public’s perception, or a pundit’s policy arguments.

11. Ramesh Ponnuru responds to Oren Cass’s critiques. From the Corner post:

Presumptive free-traders have had no trouble conceding that trade agreements in the real world typically include features that benefit parochial interests rather than the public as a whole. Whether a proposed trade agreement advances the national interest will depend on an informed assessment of its specifics. Thus Senator Pat Toomey (R., Penn.) thought that some of the provisions in Trump’s refurbished NAFTA were better than the ones in the original and others were worse, voting against the changes based on his judgment that the bad outweighed the good. The trade-policy analysts at the Cato Institute, market fundamentalists if anyone deserves the label, went through the Trans-Pacific Partnership with microscopes.

Proposals to alter trade policy, whether by liberalizing trade or restricting it, have to be evaluated on their merits. We are nonetheless entitled to be more skeptical of proposals for restriction than ones for liberalization, and to think that a shift toward restriction is likely — not guaranteed, but very likely — to have generally negative consequences. The economic theory favoring free trade is well-developed, and we have extensive historical evidence (a small bit of it reviewed by Strain and me in our article) that trade enriches and protectionism impoverishes.

Protectionist policies also create more opportunities for interest-group manipulation. Trump’s trade policies have created a lobbying boom as companies have sought to tax their competitors and win exemptions for themselves. That’s in keeping with a long history. Moreover, when trade agreements involve cronyism, it tends to be mostly because of their protectionist components.

12. Brad Palumbo says Kamala Harris’s economic thoughts are no laughing matter. From the piece:

Inaccurately described by liberal media outlets as a “moderate” and “centrist,” Harris actually supports an astounding $40 trillion in new spending over the next decade. In a sign of just how far left the Democratic Party has shifted on economics, Harris backs more than 20 times as much spending as Hillary Clinton proposed in 2016. (In both cases their plans covered ten-year periods.)

Harris has abandoned the old Democratic Party’s lip service (however unconvincing) to fiscal restraint. Labels aside, it’s unclear what exactly separates the approach to fiscal policy she would take from the runaway deficit spending and money-printing that has caused so much trouble for so many economies over the years.

And this is not just a matter of spending. During her failed presidential campaign, Harris supported a federal-government takeover of health care, with only a small and highly regulated role remaining for private insurers. This could mean that the government, not the individual, ends up with the final say on medical decisions.

Crippling the private sector and all but eradicating profit would destroy medical innovation, too. Right now, deeply flawed as it may be, the U.S.’s private health-care system is the most innovative in the world. We are responsible for more than 40 percent of total research-and-development spending despite comprising a much smaller fraction of the global population.

When you strip away the profit motive from the health-care industry and replace it with government bureaucracy, the driving force of innovation and discovery that makes us world-leading innovators evaporates along with it. For example, we currently have some of the highest cancer-survival rates in the world.

13. Will Swaim is pumped by Californians rejected Proposition 16’s call for racial quotas. From the beginning of the article:

Ballots are still being counted, but the data emerging from Tuesday’s California voting offer a fascinating possibility: Californians are conservatives who think they’re Democrats.

Rating the ballot propositions as either for or against more government, Californians have (so far) voted: against tax hikes on business property (Prop 15), against revanchist affirmative-action programs (Prop 16), against a look-tough-on-crime measure to limit the voting rights of ex-felons (Prop 17), and against expanding the prison population (Prop 20). They absolutely crushed rent control (Prop 21), and, in voting for Prop 22, they voted against the government’s right to tell California’s independent contractors they can’t work as freelancers without a permission slip from Sacramento.

On three propositions, I’d argue that Californians voted for bigger government: Prop 14’s tax support of government stem-cell research (as if the private sector and universities aren’t already doing enough); Prop 19’s proposed tax on inherited real estate; and worst of them all, Prop 24’s blob of a new government bureaucracy that will monitor “consumer privacy.” If the state government does that as well as it has administered the DMV, public schools, road construction, forest management, the utility system, and gasoline supplies . . . well, Californians will soon all be celebrities — in the worst ways.

14. When it comes to women, especially married women, the Left is in the dark, says Alexandra DeSanctis. From the article:

Though Biden still beat Trump among women and black voters, it’s worth noting that the president gained support in every category of voters other than white men. More white women, black men and women, and Latino men and women supported Trump this year than had supported him in 2020.

Perhaps more interesting than Trump’s tightening of the race and gender gaps, however, is the way voters split depending on whether they are married. Fifty-six percent of all voters said they are married, while 44 percent are not. Among married voters, Trump had a ten-point advantage: A majority (54 percent) voted for the president, and 44 percent backed Biden. Unmarried voters, meanwhile, broke even more heavily for Biden. Only 40 percent supported Trump while 57 percent voted for Biden.

But the voting patterns of married vs. unmarried voters get even more interesting when broken down by gender. Fifty-three percent of married men, who accounted for a little less than a third of all voters, supported Trump, while 46 percent supported Biden. Unmarried men, who accounted for just one-fifth of the electorate, favored Biden by a smaller margin, 50 percent to Trump’s 44 percent.

The disparity between married and unmarried women was even stronger. Married women and unmarried women each accounted for about one-quarter of those who voted in this election. Married women broke hard for Trump, with 55 percent backing him compared with 42 percent who backed Biden. And there was an even larger gap among unmarried women, 62 percent of whom supported the Democrat compared with 37 percent who supported Trump.

15. Armond White calls out SNL and its nasty attempts at comedy (and even provides a dishonor roll). From the piece:

Yet this replay of SNL’s revue sketches proved enlightening, despite one’s instinct to dismiss the outright political bias shown by NBC and SNL producer Lorne Michaels. It became clear from the clips chosen that politics are not SNL’s forte. Its cast of performers and writers have forsaken the humanizing point of comedy and satire for obvious personal prejudice — the last resort of pundits who can’t sustain argument.

The “Election Special” clips provide a measure of how SNL has changed. From the amateur leagues of liberal showbiz that hatch performers who are working out private issues and group-think camaraderie, with the cast originally billed as the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, SNL today must be recognized as a troupe of Mean-Spirited Players.

Although the mean-girl, frat-boy tendency was always there, performers such as Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Dan Ackroyd, Dana Carvey, and a few others managed to balance caricature with affection throughout the Clinton and two Bush administrations. But the latter is when know-it-all-ism began to prevail, turning repulsive as network media fought back against the 2000 election. Eventually, these mainstream comedians lost their sense of humor and became self-congratulatory jesters to the court of Obama.

16. More Armond: He likes Let Him Go. From the beginning of the review:

Deep in the divided heart of Hollywood, contempt for middle America clashes with greed for its ticket dollars. This puts Hollywood’s sophisticated movie elites at cross-purposes because they also chase acclaim — and receive approval — from the disdainful media ranks. The bizarre new Kevin Costner film Let Him Go makes all this infuriatingly clear.

It’s a genre-movie update, a “modern” Western set in late 1950s Montana where stoic retired lawman George Blackledge (Costner) and his no-nonsense wife Margaret (Diane Lane) mourn their son’s death. They long to reunite with their only grandchild, now estranged after the mother remarries — to a lout from a lawless clan. When the Blackledges seek to rescue their progeny, American hell breaks loose.

Let Him Go imitates the nation-defining myths of Westerns but gets the virtues of genre movies quite wrong. The Blackledges’ virtues come secondhand. Director Thomas Bezucha cast Costner and Lane for no apparent reason other than to evoke their poignant roles in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel as Pa and Ma Kent, the Joseph and Mary figures to Jor-El/Clark/Superman. Yet Bezucha, pursuing a moral vision slightly different from Snyder’s, moves into oversimplified good-vs.-evil shoot-’em-up territory. Americana myths turn into nightmares, pitting the Blackledges’ class characteristics against those of Neanderthals, headed by a treacherous matriarch with the knee-slapper name of Blanche Weboy (played by British actress Lesley Manville).

17. The introverts who run the annual European Fine Art Fair have turned it virtual in 2020. A wistful Brian Allen zooms in on the wares. From the piece:

In this incarnation, the dealers aren’t there. No people-watching, either, and the quirks of the rich are always fun to see. I miss the dealers, all good-humored and doughty — they have to be since the in-person fairs run for days — and all connoisseurs. They’re enthusiasts, and you can’t fake that for an entire week, and they usually know more about their specialty than academics do. A professor will know an object’s place in the history of art. A dealer will know condition, provenance, rarity, as well as the art history I’d call salient rather than fancied, irrelevant, or minute — niches at which art historians excel.

In this online fair, each of around 280 dealers offers one object that expresses the very best of that dealer’s business. All the dealers have an international presence. All have done good scholarship and have sold to museums. TEFAF vets everyone to guarantees that no dealer is shady. TEFAF, as an entity, isn’t a business. It’s a foundation dedicated to upholding high standards in the art world.

I asked a curator friend what he thought of online fairs. He loves them. “I don’t have to talk to people,” he gushed. Most curators are introverts, which is one reason why they’re COVID’s most ardent, if nerdy, lockdown lovers. I’m dour, to be sure. Living in Vermont, we all sound and think like Calvin Coolidge after a while, but I do like the real thing, and I always learn from the banter of dealers and collectors. Alas, people are so frightened about travel and communal gatherings that it might take years to recover normal life. The hysteria peddlers have killed so much joy in the world.

Does the online TEFAF work? Yes.

18. More Allen: He recommends the North Carolina Mint Museum. From the review:

So, last week, I visited Smithfield, N.C., to see the Ava Gardner Museum (which I profiled last Saturday) and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, Reynolda House in Winston-Salem, and the art-museum and craft centers in eclectic, beautiful, and crunchy Asheville.

I saw some good European painting — Pieter Aertsen’s Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms, from 1551, at the NCMA is the best, earliest still-life painting, anywhere — but the zeitgeist in North Carolina is both American and not necessarily painting, or any flat art, but craft. And the materials aren’t paint and canvas but wood, the ubiquitous American material, clay, metal, and textile.

This makes sense. New York, Philadelphia, and Boston are closest to the big money and big art centers of Europe, and the rich and powerful in each emulated their counterparts from the Old World’s past. They saw themselves as the New World’s makers of taste, and that meant capturing the cultural triumphs of the Old World for our improvement.

However cavalier the South is to New England’s Roundheads, the South was, until recently, far poorer and more insular. Its aesthetics revolved around the practical and the handmade. Baskets, quilts, and ceramics were the South’s Lamerie silver, embroidery for kings and popes, and Meissen porcelain. Craft, which is art as much as painting or sculpture, is often simple and of the highest intricacy, reserved but emotionally rich, and prompting arias from ash, clay, and cotton. This is why the South, especially the Appalachian South, is the place to go for quintessentially American design.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh nails Turkey’s projecting bossman Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the real enemy of Islam. From the article:

Last week, France condemned Erdogan for comments he made about French President Emmanuel Macron’s mental health and treatment of Muslims. Erdogan had suggested that the French president needed “some kind of mental treatment” because of Macron’s attitude toward Muslims in France. “What else is there to say about a head of state who doesn’t believe in the freedom of religion and behaves this way against the millions of people of different faiths living in his own country?” Erdogan said in a speech at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party. He also called on Muslims to boycott French goods.

Erdogan’s remarks came in response to Macron’s pledge to crack down on radical Islamism in France after a Muslim terrorist beheaded history teacher Samuel Paty on October 16. Paty had taught a class on freedom of expression during which he used cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Even before Paty was murdered, Macron defended the right to caricature the Prophet Mohammed. In September, he described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and announced that he would present a bill to strengthen a law that separates church and state in France.

Some Muslims see Erdogan’s attacks on France as an attempt to divert attention from the growing criticism in the Arab world toward Turkey’s meddling in the internal affairs of a number of Arab countries. Saudi Arabian activists have called for a boycott of Turkish products to protest Erdogan’s repeated attacks on Arab leaders and countries.

2. At Claremont Review of Books, Chris Caldwell notes that the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrim Landing has gone unnoticed by the chattering class. 1619 casts a long shadow. From the beginning of the essay:

Possibly someone will surprise us at the last minute. Possibly the coronavirus is to blame. But with 2020 nearly over, it looks like the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth, Massachusetts, is going to pass uncommemorated. There have been no TV features relating what happened 400 years ago. No magazine essays unstitching the religious conflicts that drove the Puritans into exile or the republican philosophy of the Mayflower Compact and its relevance to us. Absent is the passion society’s leaders bring to commemorations they actually care about — the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the centennial of World War I, and all those local triumphs of the Civil Rights movement that have come to fill our civic calendar like so many saints’ days. Half a generation ago, journalist and historian Éric Zemmour expressed astonishment that the French government was ignoring the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz (1805). What hope is there, he asked, for a nation that doesn’t care about the greatest military victory of its greatest leader, in this case Napoleon? It was a good question. Here is a better one: what hope is there for a nation that doesn’t care about its beginnings?

At work is more than a failure to summon the Pilgrims to mind. There is an active project to exorcise them, in order that the country might find itself a past more congruent with its present-day political commitments. A year ago, the New York Times launched a “1619 Project” dedicated to the proposition that the original, the more consequential, and therefore the real founding of the country came with the arrival of a Portuguese slave ship in Jamestown the year before the Pilgrims arrived.

Those locals to whom the Pilgrims’ memory has been entrusted have rushed to cooperate in their demotion. In July, citing the “reckoning with racial injustice” underway in street protests across the country, the trustees of Plimoth Plantation, the living-history museum that has explained the Pilgrim settlement to schoolchildren and tourists since 1947, announced they were changing the institution’s name to Plimoth Patuxet (the Wampanoag name for the spot) in order to be more inclusive. The director of the Provincetown Museum boasted to the Boston Globe about the “tough conversations” he had had as he trained his staff to think about the Mayflower landing in a different way. The Pilgrims survived, he said, because the Wampanoag Indians “helped them in true social-justice fashion.” A founder of the Bernie Sanders-linked group Indivisible Plymouth complained over the summer about such local commemorations as were planned: “[S]houldn’t the struggle for the right for women to vote,” she asked, “be as well-known as the story of the Mayflower and 1620?”

To which one can only reply: Isn’t it already? Even in Plymouth?

3. At the Wall Street Journal, Bill McGurn profiles Bob Chitester, the “Man Who Made Milton Freedman a Star.” You’re free to chose to read this excerpt. From the profile:

Their collaboration began in 1977, when the two men were introduced by W. Allen Wallis, a free-market economist who served as chancellor of New York’s University of Rochester and chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. At the time Mr. Chitester managed public TV and radio stations in Erie, Pa. After PBS released “The Age of Uncertainty,” presented by the left-liberal economist John Kenneth Gailbraith, Mr. Chitester wanted to produce a rejoinder from a classically liberal perspective.

Mr. Chitester was probably the only PBS or NPR station manager who didn’t believe public radio and television should receive subsidies from American taxpayers. But he had a skill in short supply among the pro-capitalist intellectual class: He knew how to popularize free-market ideas, which many thought couldn’t be done on television.

He confesses that he isn’t sure he’d even heard of Friedman when Wallis put the two in touch. But Mr. Chitester says he devoured Friedman’s 1962 book, “Capitalism and Freedom,” and went to meet Milton and his wife, fellow economist and collaborator, Rose, at their San Francisco apartment.

An hour into the conversation, Mr. Chitester brought up a section in the book where Friedman talks about the responsibility of business — also the theme of Friedman’s famous 1970 New York Times essay, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” Mr. Chitester described his dilemma: “I said to Milton, based on your philosophy, I shouldn’t be asking companies for money, and if they take your advice, they’re not going to give me any.”

“Bob, don’t worry about it,” Friedman reassured him. “Businessmen don’t like me anyway.” The economist elaborated. “He said private owners — those who own their own companies — they will be sympathetic. But corporations and publicly held companies will play the political game.” In other word, they’d be shy about supporting such a project lest it hurt them when seeking government funding.

4. At City Journal, Heather Mac Donald says the defeat of California’s racial-quotas Proposition 16 is a big blow to elites. From the analysis:

The business community also came out swinging in support of Proposition 16. The chairman of the California Business Roundtable told Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton: “Prop. 16 will help allow small, minority and women-owned businesses better access to capital, especially in applying for and receiving important state contracts.” The California Chamber of Commerce backed the measure. The former chairman of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce told Skelton: “There’s a constant barrier for ethnic minorities and women” who seek government contracts.

These charges of discrimination in contracting and lending are specious. Banks are already under enormous pressure to lend money based on identity. Government agencies go out of their way to contract with minorities and women. Corporations back racial preferences in colleges because they are now populated by woke college graduates who believe that the rest of America is racist and because their leaders and employees are academic snobs. They want to hire from prestigious colleges regardless of whether the affirmative-action admits who graduate from those colleges are academically competitive with their un-racially preferred peers.

The proponents poured $20 million into the “Yes on 16” campaign, part of a pattern this year of the allegedly grass-roots Democrats futilely spending outsize sums on campaigns. The opponents of Proposition 16 commanded but a fraction of those resources. And yet, the initiative carried only Los Angeles County and the three counties around the San Francisco Bay. Voters in the rest of the state were not buying it.

Predictably, elites are charging those voters with racism.

5. At The Federalist, Joy Pullman gives a thorough rundown of the GOP down-ballot’s very good night (which draws required suspicion to top-of-the-ticket vote-counting). From the article:

Two weeks before the election, the “nonpartisan” Cook’s Political Report predicted an expanded Democrat majority in the House, a “net gain of five to ten seats to a gain of between five and 15 seats.” On election day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrat campaign chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos predicted Democrats “would not only defend gains made in 2018 but flip districts thought to be in safe Republican territory.”

Last week, Democrats told the Washington Post, which described the party as “awash in cash,” they expected to flip as many as 15 House seats on Biden’s presumed presidential coattails. That didn’t happen at all. In fact, the opposite did. Now as localities run by Democrats “count” votes under suspicious circumstances, we are supposed to believe that voters selected coattails detached from a coat?

Republicans have flipped seven U.S. House races so far and Democrats flipped two, according to RealClearPolitics. That narrows Democrats’ hold on the House from 232 to 227, nine more than the majority, even if no more are flipped. Republicans could even ultimately flip 15, as many as Democrats had hoped to.

Republicans had twice as many Senate seats to defend this election than Democrats did, and they currently appear to retain their Senate majority. So far, Democrats have flipped one seat. Far poorer-funded Republicans retained seats Democrats literally spent hundreds of millions of dollars to flip, such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

6. At Modern Age, Atilla Sulker interviews the “Populism’s Prophet,” Patrick J. Buchanan. From the piece:

AS: You brought up democratic capitalism. I want to ask you a little bit about that while we’re on the topic. What do you make of this sort of Ayn Rand conception of capitalism, this hyper-individualism, and how do you distinguish it from a more traditionalist free-market economic order?

PB: Well, Ayn Rand [had] an ultra-libertarian view of the world and of society and of how the world ought to work. I don’t share it at all. I’m much more of a traditionalist. I’ve got the social doctrines of the Catholic Church, where we are basically a community — people look after one another, and we’ve got obligations to each other. We are a community that works together rather than this hyper-individualism.

Family, community, country, neighborhood, church, and all these things are important to me. And they’re not to some of those who worship at the altar of unvarnished or uninhibited capitalism. So I was never of that tribe. And I’ve always had some sympathy for unions and collective action on the part of people to make society more just and equitable. That always had an appeal to me, and it really affected me when I traveled the country back in 1990 and 1991, seeing all these factories and companies shutting down and moving abroad, jobs being lost, people being laid off, families going through hellish conditions.

And I went back and studied and found that the nineteenth-century Republican policy of protectionism and making America first — making America great, putting our country first, and basically Americans depending upon one another for the necessities of life — was far more important and far more correct than depending upon foreign countries like Japan then or China now [for] the needs of our national life.

The economy ought to be structured to bring people together and to bring people to trust one another and to rely upon one another. Again, the idea of individualism or these corporate institutions that have no allegiance or loyalty to anything but the bottom line, that never appealed to me.

7. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer, no doubt dreaming of turkeys and cranberries, has his thoughts turning to Things Colonial, basted with Tocqueville. From the piece:

Because America’s origins were so recent and so open, Tocqueville gushed (yes, gushed!), the scholar could actually witness the beginnings and the middle of a country’s life, akin to witnessing the birth and middle age of a human being. America, by its very nature, offered the most “bourgeois and democratic liberty of which the history of the world” had failed to reveal.

Still, one had to take into account the differences of the northern and the southern colonies. The latter, encumbered by the horrific system of slavery, would suffer deeply. Slavery “dishonors work; into society, it introduces idleness, along with ignorance and pride, poverty and luxury,” Tocqueville argued. “It enervates the forces of the mind and puts human activity to sleep. The influence of slavery, combined with the English character, explains the mores and the social state [the character] of the South.”

In contrast, the New England societies were dynamos, setting not only North America, but the world, ablaze with her ideas and her verve. “The principles of New England first spread into neighboring states; then, one by one, they reached the most distant states and finished, if I can express myself in this way, by penetrating the entire confederation. Now they exercise their influence beyond its limits, over the entire American world,” Tocqueville explained. “The civilization of New England has been like those fires kindled on the hilltops that, after spreading warmth around them, light the farthest bounds of the horizon with their brightness.”

New England’s success came from its ability to integrate — to the point of completeness and inseparability — the love of religion, properly understood, and the love of liberty. Indeed, for the Pilgrim and the Puritan, its Calvinism was as much a series of theological tenets as well as political theories and practices. “The founders of New England were at the very same time ardent sectarians and impassioned innovators,” Tocqueville asserted. “Restrained by the tightest bonds of certain religious beliefs, they were free of all political prejudices. [Religion led them to enlightenment; the observance of divine laws brought them to liberty.]”

8. At Quillette, Eric Jansen claims the business mode of American universities is failing. From the piece:

So where is all this money going? While much of it goes to the salaries of faculty and the building and maintaining of facilities, a questionable amount goes to administration, another aspect of universities that has rapidly grown in recent decades. According to a 2014 Delta Cost Project report, the number of faculty and staff per administrator declined by roughly 40 percent at most types of colleges and universities between 1990 and 2012, now averaging around 2.5 faculty per administrator. In 2012, the number of faculty at public research institutions was nearly equal to the number of administrators.

“The interesting thing about the administrative bloat in higher education is, literally, nobody knows who all these people are or what they’re doing,” says Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University and the author of a paper entitled: ‘The Changing of the Guard: The Political Economy of Administrative Bloat in American Higher Education.’ Vague titles for administrative positions at institutions of higher education include Health Promotion Specialist, Student Success Manager, Senior Coordinator, and Student Accountability Manager. While some administration positions are surely useful and arguably necessary such as Director of Student Financial Aid, Director of Academic Advising, or those positions added in response to federal and state mandates, the salaries of administrative positions have rapidly increased.

Often, executives and administrators at colleges and universities are paid significantly more than those in comparable positions with comparable duties. At the University of California (a public university where employees are not considered employees of the state) for example, an audit was conducted in 2017 to investigate the Office of the President and its budget practices. The report states that, “The Office of the President paid the Senior Vice President for Government Relations a salary $130,000 greater than the salaries of the top three highest-paid state employees in comparable positions.” The office also “amassed substantial reserve funds, used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits, and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on system-wide initiatives.” Similarly, according to a 2011 article in Washington Monthly, “Vice presidents at the University of Maryland earn well over $200,000, and deans earn nearly as much. Both groups saw their salaries increase as much as 50 percent between 1998 and 2003, a period of financial retrenchment and sharp tuition increases at the university.”

9. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera remembers Sean Connery, a silver-screen embodiment of wisdom. From the conclusion of the essay:

I’ll conclude with one more of Connery’s forays as an exotic, mysterious, wise man. In 1993, he starred in Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Rising Sun, Michael Crichton’s novel about Japanese industrial intrigue and American political corruption, alongside Wesley Snipes and Harvey Keitel. This movie is unparalleled as a comparison of American and Japanese mores, and we could use such a presentation of Sino-American relations today, if it were even conceivable that studios would undertake such a dangerous venture.

In typical Crichton fashion, a timely public concern — Japanese attempts to buy strategic technology corporations — is mixed with the ugly underworld of drugs, prostitution, and murder. An L.A. detective (Snipes) has to deal with this when a prostitute is murdered in a Japanese skyscraper during a gala where all the important American politicians in California are feted. Given the money and prestige involved, anything he does is likely to cause a scandal.

Connery, in a performance that recalls Kurosawa’s great actor, Toshiro Mifune, as he in turn recalled John Ford’s great actor, John Wayne, ties all this together. Connery partners with Snipes, since he used to be in law enforcement, but he also consults for Japanese corporations, so his loyalties and past are both suspect. Nevertheless, he’s the man who can solve the case and reveal the ugly truth because he understands the combination of ancient aristocracy and modern technology Japan typified — at least before the rise of China.

Wisdom is a title to rule, which is why we want competent craftsmen and experts whenever we have a job to do. Connery’s remarkable career ended with a number of roles where he acted the part of wisdom in human affairs. His characters exhibited a knowledge of mores and souls that escapes the rules of expertise and the methods of science, but which governs our politics, and is universal rather than specialized. He deserves our admiration and that glimpse of human nature deserves our attention.


There’s many a ballplayer, even a giant (well, not a Giant) who have never made it to the World Series. Poor Ernie Banks and Rod Carew. Even poorer Ken Griffey Jr. and Andre Dawson and one of Your Humble Servant’s favorites (admittedly, not a giant), Elmer Valo, who spent 20 seasons in the Majors without playing in October.

Today’s interest is of those who have been to the Big Time aplenty, but retired from the game with no championship rings. What better source to consider for such disappointment than the Chicago Cubs. But for war-year disappointment, the Cubs were one of the Majors’ best franchises from the late 1920s through the mid 1940s, picking up five NL pennants in 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945. None of those translated into World Championships. Two men played in four of those brushes with greatness.

Gabby Hartnett, Hall of Famer catcher whose famous walk-off Homer in the Gloamin’ put the Cubs in the 1938 Fall Classic — he had taken over the manager duties midway through the season — played on four of such for winless Chicago. So too did the Cubs’ great third baseman, Stan Hack, who garnered 11 hits in the 1945 World Series (Hacks’s game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the 12th Inning in Game Six would keep Chicago’s championship hopes alive for one more day) — the last the Cubbies would play in before winning the title in 2016. One of baseball’s best-ever defensive third basemen (and a pretty good hitter too: Hack had a lifetime .301 BA), he is regarded by many as Hall-of-Fame material.

Over his four World Series, Hack accrued a .348 BA. In Game Six of the 1935 World Series, the Cubs down 3 games to 2, Hack famously lead off the top of the 9th Inning in a 3-3 tie contest, only to be stranded there. The Tigers won the game, and the championship, in the bottom of the frame when Hall-of-Famer Goose Goslin singled home fellow Hall-of-Famer Mickey Cochrane.

One man who tied together all five Chicago pennants was Charlie Grimm, the 20-year first basemen (one of the game’s best-ever) who began his MLB career in 1916, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics, landing in Chicago in 1925 after stops in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. “Cholly Jolly,” who played in the losing 1929 series against the A’s, became the Cubs player/manager in 1932, and led them to the pennant that year, and again in 1935. Hanging up the cleats the following season. Mid-season in 1938, he would be removed as manager to make way for Hartnett. Rehired in 1944, he led the Cubs to their 1945 pennant. He would later manage the Braves and, for a short stint in 1960, once again, his beloved Cubs.

A little deeper digging from way back: Buck Herzog, second baseman for the New York Giants (he also played for the Cubs, Braves, and Reds), had three different stints at the Polo Grounds, and lucked into playing for four NYC NL pennant winners, in 1911-13, and 1917. And that’s where the luck ended: The Giants lost all four series. A consolation: Herzog set a record in the 1912 contest when he collected a dozen hits.

We’ll keep mining this topic in forthcoming weeks. Please don’t die from the anticipation.

A Dios

Pray for conservative victories in Georgia run-offs. And maybe do something more than pray.

God’s Blessings on All, Especially Our Veterans Who Served with Courage and Honor,

Jack Fowler, who can be distracted from funks  and night sweats with early-hours emails sent to



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