Dear Weekend Joltarian,
The mob always wants its Barabbas, its burned books and broken windows, its pound of flesh, its deaf justice that stretches from the Praetorium to Ox Bow, from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room to . . . Twitter. Our colleague Kevin Williamson was the plaything of a mob, as you might recall, and his experience, and that of others (both people and events) has informed him and his forthcoming (July 23rd) new book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, which you can and should pre-order here, from Amazon.
More on his book below.
We begin this missive also by recommending attention to a particular piece, by an early NR Washington editor, Neal B. Freeman, who remains a most astute political observer. There at the founding, often at the right hand of Bill Buckley, he has seen it all, and now finds we conservatives are reliving it all. Following the current state of affairs — which I will let Neal explain — there may not be a return to anything that smacks of the Good Old Days, of movement cohesiveness and collegiality, of advancement. And there are harsh verdicts as to just what is the state of this movement. Here’s a slice from his commentary:
Buckley had earned that contempt. When he announced his challenge to the established order, the incumbent powers did not say, “Oh, you’re the new guy and you want some of our market share and some of our media attention and some of our grant revenue? Well, why don’t we all just scoot over and make a place at the table for you?” That’s not the way it happened. That’s not the way it ever happens. The new guy must make his own place at the table. There can be some pushing and shoving. Elbows can fly. Lawsuits can fly. As John Quincy Adams famously recalled, he had become a warrior so that his grandson might become a poet. Buckley’s remarkable achievement was that, over the span of a single lifetime, he had evolved from a young warrior to an old poet. We remember the poet. Who could forget? But we celebrate the warrior.
My sense of the current moment is that, once again, our cause needs warriors even more than poets. The long run of Buckley conservatism — from the bang of Goldwater’s nomination to the whimper of Romney’s — is now over. The cycle begins again. And even poets must take up the sword.
Doubtless, there are more than a few readers of this page who in 2016 ranked Donald Trump as their 17th-favorite candidate for the GOP nomination. Rarely have so many people gotten so lucky. Trump’s performance on the big issues — the issues of peace, justice, and the American way — has been astonishingly strong. He has, as of this writing, held firm in his support for the right to life, in his pledge to nominate conservative judges, in his aversion to discretionary wars, and in his commitment to lower taxes and looser regulations. It’s all good.
Melancholy: They are not long, the days of wine and roses. Anyway, please read the entire piece. Be forewarned: The article is no in toto POTUS homage. If it were, I don’t see how this line — If we conservatives thus find ourselves passengers on a runaway Trump bus, and I think we do, and if we are political hostages to a new party orthodoxy, and I think we are, then what is to be done? — came off Neal’s typewriter.
Now, there is so very much more which follows. This may be the longest Jolt in history. For those who can’t get enough of this weekend missive, you may find yourself quite challenged. On the bright side, there are worse things than saying I can’t eat another bite.
Update: Our Petition to Have SCOTUS Hear Mann v. National Review
Our petition for a writ of certiorari has been filed and has resulted in a number of amicus briefs supporting the petition, including one from 21 Senators, and another from former U.S. attorneys general. Find our update, and links to these briefs, here.
If You Like Having Your Breath Taken Away, These Links to 20 Amazing NRO Pieces Are Sure-Fire Ways to Achieve That
1. Sometimes reliable election indicators are right under your nose. David Bahnsen overlays stock-market performance with presidential fates, and finds that a Wall Street on the rise presages four more years for Donald Trump. From his take:
If Trump were a more “normal” president, his reelection chances would likely hinge on his record. The strength of the economy on his watch, the quality of the judges he’s placed on the bench, and the campaign promises he’s kept (withdrawing from the Paris Accord and the Iran deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem) would all be enough to see him reelected. But Trump is not a normal president. His erratic behavior and temperament are at the heart of a persona that turns off significant numbers of voters in key demographics. So 2020 will pit his policy achievements vs. his persona. Therein will lie the rub.
Or that’s one way of looking at it, anyway. Here’s another: In the last 100 years, the stock market has actually proven a rather pristine indicator of an incumbent candidate’s or party’s chances of reelection.
Let’s start with one indisputable fact: Those who dismiss the stock market’s health as a mere indicator of “how the 1 percent are doing” only do so when the other party is enjoying a strong stock market or their party is suffering through a bad one. Those now arguing that Trump shouldn’t get credit for the strength of the market on his watch are the exact same people who credited President Obama for the market’s recovery on his watch and ridiculed President George W. Bush for the market’s decline on his. They should be ignored, and the historical evidence should be heeded.
2. Proving that the word “conservative” is rather elastic, the wanna-be-tree-huggers behind the “Climate Leadership Council” are proposing a “conservative” carbon tax, which Benjamin Zycher considers and finds to be very much a non-starter. From the outset of his analysis:
Various news reports and self-serving political pronouncements would have us believe that imposition of a tax on “carbon” — emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) — now enjoys growing support among Republican policymakers and conservative observers, a political premise advertised at a decibel level vastly higher than actual political reality would support. That reality is straightforward: Any policy to reduce GHG emissions by definition must increase energy costs, and policymakers endorsing such policies would have to describe the benefits that supposedly would redound to the electorate.
And that is a very serious political stumbling block: The most prominent “conservative” proposals for a carbon tax would reduce global temperatures in the year 2100 by about 0.015°C, as estimated by the EPA climate model under a set of assumptions exaggerating the temperature effect of GHG reductions. That effect would not be measurable, as it is an order of magnitude smaller than the standard deviation of the surface-temperature record. A complete elimination of U.S. GHG emissions, envisioned by supporters of the Green New Deal, would yield a temperature reduction of 0.173°C under the same favorable assumptions. (An international policy vastly more aggressive than the Paris agreement, and thus utterly unachievable, would have an effect of about 0.5°C.)
3. And Then There Were 25: Tom Steyer, billionaire greenie, tosses his biodegradable hat in the ring. How does Jim Geraghty feel? He’s thrilled by the “beautiful madman.” From his Morning Jolt observation:
Tom Steyer, you beautiful madman. You’re about to turn the Democratic primary into an expensive demolition derby: “Billionaire Tom Steyer announced Tuesday that he will join the crowded field vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and promised to commit at least $100 million of his personal fortune to the campaign.
Steyer will not be the 2020 Democratic nominee. But with $100 million, he can do a lot of damage to anyone he deems an obstacle, and it’s worth remembering that Michael Bloomberg just overwhelmed every opponent with a tsunami of ad money when running for mayor in New York City three times. Steyer has limited name recognition now, but a nearly unlimited television advertising budget will change that fast. He can promise anything and accuse anyone else of being a “Washington insider.”
Steyer’s probably not quite a threat to overtake Biden or Harris or Sanders or Warren. But everybody below that might as well call it quits.
4. Didn’t the Nazis destroy art? Anyway, Brian Allen goes after the San Francisco education politicos who have decided to destroy a major high-school WPA mural (painted by a Trotskyite, depicting the life of George Washington). From his exceptional diatribe:
Evidently, in San Francisco, the bohemian yahoos run free. They even put them on the school board.
Arnautoff is a fascinating artist. He was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest and trained as as an artist until the outbreak of the First World War. During that war, he served as a cavalry officer in the Russian army. He was a witness, like Dr. Zhivago. He fought, first in the Russian army, later as a White Russian, lived in China after the Bolsheviks won, and came to the United States in 1925. He taught art at Stanford for years. Richard Diebenkorn was one of his students. He did the murals decorating Coit Tower in San Francisco. He was countercultural and fit in no box. When his Russian-born wife died in 1961, he retired from Stanford and returned to the Soviet Union. He never belonged to the Communist Party but considered himself a Trotskyite.
The board voted deliberately to destroy the murals. Covering them, which is what the staff recommended, wasn’t good enough. Someone might uncover them. Board member Mark Sanchez said that destroying them was worth the cost, estimated at as much as $825,000. “This is reparations.” I call it vindictive. It’s official vandalism.
5. Pride Month saturation has Madeleine Kearns looking into LGBTQ activism and its endless overreach. From her article:
Writing for the New York Times about the general leftward lurch of the Democratic party, David Brooks noted:
American progressives have a story to tell, and they are not afraid to tell it. In this story global capitalism is a war zone. Free trade is a racket. Big business and Big Pharma are rapacious villains that crush the common man.
But how do progressives square this with LGBTQ activism? Big Pharma has a significant monetary interest in transgender transition treatments — especially for children — that make patients dependent on cross-sex hormones for life. In Buying Gay, the historian David K. Johnson makes a convincing case that the gay political movement was the direct result of consumer capitalism. As for big business, Pride month has seen a whole host of corporate sponsors from Wells Fargo to T-Mobile. Even Google maps and Uber joined in, having rainbow-colored pins and cars on their apps. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a political movement with comparable corporate investment.
6. Who’d a thunk it? Daniel Payne reports on the unsurprising happenstance that older pervs are lusting after pre-teen drag princess Desmond Napoles. From the piece:
Desmond himself has quite obviously figured out what’s going on here, even if his handlers claim ignorance. His drag performances are patently sexual: What else would one call gyrating one’s hips in a crop-top while grown men throw dollar bills into the stage? In one appearance, he even performed a quasi-striptease, throwing off a dress to reveal a bared midriff underneath — all to raucous cheers from the audience. Of course pedophiles are going to love this sort of thing. It is so tiresome to pretend otherwise.
Wendy Napoles has discovered, in public and humiliating fashion, the John Hammond fallacy. Named after the dinosaur magnate of Jurassic Park fame, the John Hammond fallacy is one in which a person believes he can impose strict controls on complex systems to any real degree. In Spielberg’s film, Hammond insists that the doomed dinosaur park, having already failed catastrophically, can be properly managed “when we have control again,” to which one of his guests responds: “You never had control.” Hammond eventually accepts, abandoning his island to the dinosaurs he foolishly created.
Desmond’s mother did not, of course, genetically engineer dinosaurs. She did, however, convince herself that she could control the consequences of publicly and gleefully sexualizing her young son. She was wrong. Speaking of the convicted pedophile who described her son as “hot,” Napoles noted that what he said was “out of our control.”
That is true — but the behavior of her eleven-year-old son is firmly in her control. He does not have to be up on stage acting out a sexualized caricature. You can, with minimal effort, protect your child from the sick and twisted gazes of perverts and predators; not letting your eleven-year-old perform cross-dressing cabaret is a start.
7. “Parody has become impossible,” Kat Timpf laments as she reacts to the NBA’s PC ban on calling team owners . . . owners. From the end of her piece:
Yes — people owned slaves, and yes, that is an unspeakable horror. But the thing is, people have owned, and continue to own, lots of things. For example, I (not to brag) own a toothbrush. Is it offensive to say I’m a toothbrush owner? If I own a home someday, can I call myself a “homeowner”? Or do I have to call it something else? I guess I could say “person who has a home,” but I don’t know if even that would work. Other than it being stupidly wordy, wouldn’t the word “has” be offensive too, according to the NBA logic about the word “owner”? After all, there can be all sorts of horrific things that a person “has” — like cancer, for example. If “owner” is offensive because there have been people who owned slaves, wouldn’t “has” be offensive because there have been people who “have had” (and continue to “have”) things like cancer? Words can mean different things to different people at different times, and as long as you’re not using them in an offensive way, you shouldn’t have any problem using them.
In any case, I am truly terrified to see how stupid this could get. After all, just when I think it couldn’t possibly get any more stupid, I’m usually proven wrong. All I can do is hope that no one reads my parody-like example about the word “has” and decides that this word actually is offensive. But, after what happened with my 2017 example of using the word “owner,” it wouldn’t be the first time that what I thought was parody turned out to be reality.
8. Henry Payne, the Detroit Free Press icon who knows a thing or two about the auto industry, reflects on the late Lee Iacocca, industrialist and Trump precursor. From his remembrance:
His personal-brand development was a template for Trump’s successful presidential run in 2016, and the groundswell of support for Iacocca as the Democratic candidate reflected the enduring urge on both sides of the aisle for a populist businessman as president.
After a successful Detroit career that spanned the launch of the 1960s Ford Mustang and the 1980s Chrysler minivan, Iacocca became a national figure when he persuaded a Democratic Congress in 1979 to help bail out Chrysler.
His turnaround of the automaker (paying back federally guaranteed loans ahead of schedule) vaulted him to a 1980s symbol of America on the rebound. Chrysler turned a $1.7 billion loss in 1980 into a $2.4 billion profit by 1984.
The first-generation Italian immigrant’s subsequent autobiography, Iacocca (1984), cemented his brand — reigning on the New York Times best-seller list for 88 weeks, 37 more than Trump’s own The Art of the Deal, published three years later.
Chapter 28 of Iacocca was titled “Making America Great Again.” It might have been written by The Donald.
9. Douglas Murray high-fives the crowdfunding campaign on behalf of Andy Ngo. The campaign aims to bankroll a legal effort against the Antifa thugs who attacked him and the public officials who let it happen. From his Corner post:
The first relates to the case of Andy Ngo, the young Portland-based journalist whom I wrote about here last week. Ngo, readers will remember, was recently assaulted by so-called “Antifa” in broad daylight as the police stood aside. In the hospital afterwards it became clear that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage, among other injuries. Another journalist immediately set up a crowdfunding site to try to help pay Ngo’s substantial medical bills and to replace the equipment that the Portland Antifa thugs had broken or stolen from him. The goal of that crowdfunding appeal was reached (and indeed exceeded) in a matter of days by American citizens and others horrified at what had been allowed to happen on their streets.
Now another crowdfunder has been set up, this time to launch legal proceedings against those responsible for assaulting the journalist. Among those who may be in the firing line of legal proceedings are not just the thugs who the authorities have allowed to run rampant through an American city, but also the authorities themselves. A link to the legal appeal can be found here.
I hope that this appeal goes as well as the first. It should. Because this is one of those rare moments when a meaningful blow could be struck. For, alas, what people do not do by moral impulse alone often has to be willed by a combination of punishment and incentive. To date there seems to have been little incentive to stop the thugs of Antifa and a considerable punishment for the people like Ngo who even try to record — let alone oppose — what they do. The risk ratio should be inverted here, and this crowd-funding effort seems a perfect way to start doing so.
10. It may seem like a joke, but it’s not: There’s a Cold War emerging in the Arctic. Christopher Tremoglie explains. From his report:
The new intensity of the jockeying over the Arctic stems from the increased rate of melting sea ice, which has created new trade routes through the region and increased accessibility to the vast resources it contains. Various studies have shown that the Arctic “encompasses about six percent of the Earth’s surface and an estimated 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered fossil fuel resources,” according to a paper by two scholars at Webster Vienna Private University. Additionally, it is estimated that around “90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is located under the region’s disputed international waters.” These factors have the potential to change “the regional geopolitical landscape” between Russia and the United States as each strives for Arctic hegemony.
In June, the Department of Defense released its Arctic Strategy. The report updates the 2016 DOD Arctic Strategy. It identifies America’s desire for “a secure and stable [Arctic] region in which U.S. national security interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is defended, and nations work cooperatively to address shared challenges.” The report expresses particular concerns about the Northern Sea Route, which seems to be one key source of the regional tensions between Russia and the U.S. The route, which lies in Arctic waters off Russia’s northern coast, is the quickest sea passageway linking East Asia with the European part of Russian Federation. “In the Northern Sea Route, Moscow already illegally demands that other nations request permission to pass, requires Russian maritime pilots to be aboard foreign ships, and threatens to use military force to sink any that fail to comply,” Pompeo told Reuters.
11. Declan Leary believes “Latinx” is a stupid word. He’s right. From his piece:
The word’s defenders will then go on to claim that “Latinx” did come about as a result of a genuine need: a gap in our lexicon created by the evolution of decent society beyond the so-called gender binary, or at least our desire for gender-neutral language. There’s a whole syllabus of errors that feeds into this interpretation.
Most fundamental is the basic misunderstanding of what gender means as a grammatical concept. (Of course, until the 1950s, gender was never seriously considered as anything other than a grammatical concept.) It isn’t fundamentally dependent on biological sex or sociocultural expressions of sexual differences; it’s just one of the many types of inflections used to clarify the relationships between words in synthetic languages. That a word is grammatically masculine or feminine is not necessarily to say that the thing it signifies is substantively masculine or feminine. Incidentally, the very word “masculinity” is feminine in more than a few gendered languages, and I doubt any German would feel emasculated if you commented on his Männlichkeit — quite the opposite, in fact. Likewise the fact that, say, the word for “poet” in Latin is masculine does not mean that Sulpicia was not properly a poeta; it simply means she was a poeta bonus rather than a poeta bona. It is, at its base, just a grammatical tool meant to identify modifiers with nouns.
12. How unbeatable is Boris Johnson, who is on the cusp of prime ministership-ing? John O’Sullivan thinks very, and to the ever-growing outrage of Remainers who, as we used to say, hate his friggin’ guts. From his analysis:
With less than two weeks to go before by the 22nd of July, when the votes will be counted, it’s starting to look like Boris may try to beat himself, but he won’t come near to succeeding.
That’s because Boris is the firm — no, undislodgeable — favorite of most Tory activists. And that in turn is not only because they have long liked his deceptively Bertie Wooster-ish public persona, but because he has become a progressively firmer Brexiteer in the three years since he declared for Leave in the 2016 referendum. And, finally, achieving Brexit is what the Tory leadership election is all about.
For exactly the same reason, Boris is deeply disliked — loathed, despised, horribly murdered in their dreams — by Remainers everywhere.
13. CNN, getting all documentary on us, has produced a series — The Movies — which Armond White says is another example of the cable entity’s “signature fashion of making everything prejudicial.” Oh yeah: and “a moronic fanboy’s view of movie history.” From the essay:
Before the rise of aggregating, mob-friendly, group-think websites, movie culture used to be esteemed for plurality; its history being the legacy of the great democratic audience informed by mainstream artists. Those were the terms that inspired the Charles Dickens-Matthew Brady-Bible-based pop narratives of D.W. Griffith which John Ford brought forth from Griffith into modern Americana and that Steven Spielberg borrowed from Ford and, for a time, charmed the world.
That’s only the American lineage, but CNN — via doc producers Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and HBO — compound the partiality by stealth, suggesting that movie history only means Hollywood (ignoring cross-cultural influence). The doc series highlights the same usual suspects repeatedly featured in American Film Institute TV specials and clueless Oscarcasts but with superfan celebrity interviews.
Strange how, in this period of extreme polarization, CNN pretends to “democratize” an industry that’s turned divisive. CNN’s daily habit — disguising opinion as journalism — has turned to promoting Hollywood mythology.
14. More Armond: This time he goes after a New York Times effort to stage a woke-whites’ pity party for black movie directors. As usual, our critic takes no prisoners. From his piece:
In the manifesto “‘They Set Us Up to Fail’: Black Directors of the ’90s Speak Out,” the New York Times’ art section revealed a strategy to agitate black political unease by relating cultural ambition to social grievance. The article, by Reggie Ugwu, was built around a teleconference about Hollywood racism — a gripe session featuring six directors who shared the media limelight 18 years ago and who are brought out of the shadows now to seek new attention and pity from woke Millennials.
Ugwu’s headline quotes Darnell Martin, whose good reason to be bitter starts with film culture’s neglect of her astute film Cadillac Records, which she wrote and directed in 2007. It is an incisive, superbly acted account of personal and commercial conflicts at the fabled R & B music label Chess Records. But Ugwu’s agenda emphasizes Martin’s subsequent regrets — alongside complaints from Ernest Dickerson (Tales from the Hood), Theodore Witcher (Love Jones), Leslie Harris (Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.), Matty Rich (Straight Out of Brooklyn), and Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust). Martin’s account of film-industry injustice fits the current fashion of political protest and restitution through media. This form of rebellion journalism makes Martin seem an accusatory ingrate rather than an artist with a personal vision whose endeavors are worthy of respect. It sets us up for chaos.
Putting protest above art shows Ugwu’s naïveté about each of these filmmakers. His limited knowledge of their individual histories does a disservice to their cultural backgrounds. Assorted independent movements and personal goals converged to occasion the arrival of young black filmmakers outside the Hollywood system, but Ugwu’s advocacy journalism caters to a generational ignorance that is superficial and uninformed.
15. Plots by Democrats (spearheaded by Maryland senator Chris Van Hollen) to turn the estate tax (increase the tax, lower the exemption) into a bonanza that will fix Social Security, say Travis Nix and Rachel Greszler, are a boomer- waiting to -rang. From their analysis:
Raising the estate tax’s exemption also increases the compliance cost of filing the tax for a lot of mourning families. The tax is extremely complex, and before the 2017 tax cuts raised the exemption, Americans spent nearly 2.1 million hours annually trying to comply with the tax, with many of those hours billed at high hourly rates.
Senator Van Hollen’s legislation would return many Americans to a highly complex system that costs the United States over $100 million a year in lost economic activity. Instead of trying to calculate the value of a deceased loved one’s assets, Americans could be working, spending time with their families, or carrying on their loved one’s legacy by operating and growing his or her business.
Besides being unable to cover the costs of Social Security, the plan also radically transforms the nature of the program. Since its inception, Social Security has been funded exclusively from the program’s own payroll taxes, but this proposal would sever that link. Social Security would become just another welfare program.
16. President Trump and North Korean madman Kim Jong-un have now met three times, and the falling-short-of-expectations affair has Jack David, and plenty of others, wondering, from here, where do we go. From his analysis:
Trump’s goal hasn’t changed: to persuade Kim and the rest of the North Korean leadership that their abandonment of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapons programs in favor of aggressive development of their country’s economy offers a path to greater personal wealth, popular support from the North Korean people, and favorable recognition in history. The administration’s effort, including the offer of U.S. development aid, to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat by peaceful persuasion is admirable. But just as the first two summits fell short of achieving that goal, so too the meeting to be held among nuclear experts from the two sides, as agreed at the DMZ meeting, will probably fall short.
Like Trump, Kim has not wavered in his objective: to remove the United States as an impediment to the achievement of the ultimate strategic goal sought by his grandfather, his father, and himself. That goal is the conquest of South Korea by force and the unification of the Korean Peninsula under his tyrannical rule.
As they conduct diplomatic discussions at the highest level, both sides continue to pursue their respective goals. For North Korea that has meant and, from all we can see, will continue to mean, the continuation of its annual military exercises, aimed at readying its army to invade South Korea through the tunnels it constructed under the border of the two countries; maintaining its vast array of artillery to the north of the southern border, within range of Seoul; and continuing to develop and strengthen its ability to fabricate nuclear weapons and deliver them by missile, or by other means, to locations as far away as cities in the continental United States.
17. Down Memory Lane: National Review and our old, late colleague, William Rickenbacker, made a federal case — yep, a real one — over the snoopiness of the 1960 census. For the sake of Ye-Olde-Days-reminiscing about what is again a timely matter, Yours Truly penned a remembrance piece. You’ll find it here.
18. Does your head not spin at the mere premise of “intersectionality”? Nate Hochman explains how it cannot help but run amok. From his analysis:
One of the purposes of intersectionality, then, is to fight discrimination that exists beyond the reach of our legal and political framework. Even when society and its laws do not explicitly discriminate against any one group, Crenshaw argues, discrimination and oppression are still pervasive, sown into the very fabric of society itself. The merits of this argument aside, the inherent difficulty in moving from fighting objective discrimination to fighting subjective discrimination is that the latter is identified largely through one’s personal “lived experience”: one of the biggest subjects of intersectional scholarship.
Thus we begin to encounter the limits to intersectionality theory, which lie not necessarily in the truth of its assertions, but rather in the fact that its abstraction of social life leaves much to be desired and unavoidably leads to a number of corrosive outcomes when put into practice.
For instance, in assigning certain experiences to certain groups, intersectionality’s advocates often, in effect, assert a monopoly on the experiences of those groups. But intersectional feminists do not speak for all women and critical race theorists do not speak for all black people; indeed, many members of what intersectionality deems to be a victim class are not convinced that they are as systematically oppressed as they are supposed to be.
19. Jonathan Tobin figures Joe Biden’s woke apology tour may kill his electability. From the beginning of his column:
Once again, former vice president Joe Biden is very, very sorry.
Biden seems to have spent much of the time since he declared his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination apologizing. He has tried to make amends for his habit of touching women in ways that made many of them uncomfortable. He’s done countless mea culpas for his role in questioning Anita Hill. He’s apologized for his role in shepherding the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act to passage. And lately he’s been making the rounds among African-American leaders, accounting for his comments that some Senate segregationists were not only civil but people with whom more-enlightened people like himself could do business.
That last apology is perhaps the most significant. Biden’s initial reaction to being beaten up by Cory Booker over his cordial relations with such senators was to point out indignantly that that is how democracy works. But after being ambushed by Kamala Harris during the first round of Democratic presidential debates over his opposition to forced busing in the 1970s, Biden folded. Rather than defend what were, by any reasonable standard, unexceptionable remarks, the Democratic front-runner said that he was “wrong” to say it, expressed “regret,” and said he was sorry for the “pain” he had caused to those who think being cordial to political opponents nearly a half-century ago is an intolerable offense.
20. Alexandra DeSanctis draws a bead on the insanity of boys competing in high-school girls’ sports, and on one school that is fighting back. From the beginning of her piece:
Three young female track athletes in Connecticut have submitted a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, asking for an investigation of allegedly illegal Title IX discrimination against them. Due to a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) policy allowing biological males who identify as women to compete in girls’ sports, these young women — along with many of their fellow female athletes, they say — have been deprived of opportunities to win competitions, and even to qualify for competition in the first place.
Meanwhile, just last month, the Catholic, all-girls middle and high school from which I graduated announced that it would withdraw from the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC) in the District of Columbia area after the conference adopted a policy like the CIAC’s, allowing students to compete in sports according to gender identity rather than biological sex.
For Oakcrest School, the choice to leave the conference was made regretfully, and not on the basis of Catholic teaching about human sexuality, though upholding the school’s mission was at the heart of the decision. “The safety-and-fairness issue for us was the biggest,” Miriam Buono, an administrator at Oakcrest, tells National Review in a phone interview. “Our mission is deeply rooted in the natural law and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and certainly we really understand that girls are girls and boys are boys, and that’s a beautiful thing. But we weren’t going to impose our mission on other schools.”
Hail Fellow Well Applied
Yes, the deadline is nearing for NR Institute’s fall “Regional Fellowship Program” in Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco. Find complete details here.
The July 29, 2019 Issue of National Review Beckons, and Here We Serve Some Items from Abundant Buffet of Conservatism It Offers
As is our custom, here are four items from the new hot-off-the-press issue.
1. Kevin Williamson’s essay — also the cover’s — is adapted from his forthcoming book. Here’s a generous slice:
War and peace, taxing and spending, crime and punishment, detonating munitions on the heads of goat-bothering savages in Panjshir until all that’s left looks like a hot-yoga class following a PTA meeting in Greenwich, Conn.: None of these can be addressed in a way that does any real political work without a political culture that not only tolerates genuine discourse — meaning genuine disagreement — but also understands what discourse is for, which is not petty advantage-seeking, cultural gang-sign flashing, and cheap partisan opportunism. But we do not have that kind of a political culture, or, in some ways, any culture at all, properly understood. What we have is Instant Culture, which is to culture what stevia is to sugar, what masturbation is to sex, what Paul Krugman’s New York Times vomitus is to journalism, what Monday’s dank memes are to the English language: a substitute that replicates the real thing in certain formal ways but that remains nonetheless entirely lacking in the essence of the thing itself.
And that is why the desire for popularity is the original sin of the American intellectual: When he subordinates his independent mind to the demands of the herd, he ceases to perform any useful function. He abandons culture for Instant Culture, discourse for antidiscourse, and truth-seeking for status-seeking.
Culture, as Michael Oakeshott characterized it, is a conversation: “As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves.” Because it is characterized by crude signaling rather than by conversation as such, Instant Culture differs from culture properly understood in that it includes no meaningful connections across time, having the character of a spasm rather than that of a continuity. It is the Jacobin herd stampeding through G. K. Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead,” and like any stampeding herd it is both terrifying and terrified, a directionless and hysterical moral panic on the digital hoof.
2. Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru weigh into the raging “liberalism” (Ahmari v. French) fight. From their essay:
The tendency on the part of most post-liberal writers to eschew necessary distinctions is compounded by an unwillingness even to attempt to spell out their alternative vision.
The few half-hearted gestures toward policy proposals point toward a populist economics. In an interview in Vox, Ahmari said an example of his ideal order is working mothers’ not having to return to work eight weeks after giving birth. The editor of First Things, R. R. Reno, plugged pro-family tax policy, “industrial policies” to raise wages, the break-up of Big Tech, taxing university and foundation endowments, and curtailing the tax-deductible donations of billionaires.
Outside of the merits of these ideas, it’s worth nothing that there’s been a robust intra-conservative debate about policies such as paid family leave, a child tax credit, and wage subsidies for going on ten years now, and none of the post-liberals to this point have made any meaningful contribution to it. Besides which, condemning the liberal order because you want, say, a larger earned-income tax credit is rather over-saucing the goose.
The overall vagueness of the post-liberals leaves it an open question what they want. Some of the current critics of liberalism may harbor no desire to repudiate Madison, or free elections and an impartial judiciary. They merely believe that conservatism has been too influenced by libertarianism and wish to pull the two some distance apart. That kind of intramural argument on the right has a history coterminous with that of the modern conservative movement. Conservatism has never simply been Milton Friedman’s libertarianism or even Frank Meyer’s fusionism. It has always had room for Russell Kirk as well.
3. In a honey of a piece, Joseph Epstein reflects on the aged poem, The Fable of Bees, and its current relevance. From his column:
Reading “The Fable of the Bees,” one naturally thinks of the United States, which, with all its flaws and frauds, remains the most interesting and ultimately satisfactory country in the world. And one thinks of all the American politicians of the current day who wish to change it, not incrementally but radically. Listening to Elizabeth Warren rattle on about income inequality, corporate power, corrupt politics, or to Bernie Sanders’s harangues about the injustices of our health-care system, our educational institutions, our economic arrangements, one is reminded of the English essayist William Hazlitt on the dissenting ministers of his day who took “pleasure in believing everything is wrong in order that they may have to set it right.”
The Democratic party in particular, when it is not preoccupied with impeaching our current president, is just now stuck on radical reform. On its nightly national news show, NBC is currently running a series called “What’s Your Big Idea,” in which Democratic politicians seeking the presidency are asked to say, in justification of their running for the office, what their “biggest idea” is. In the few segments of the series I have seen, John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, claims his big idea is to reform education so that the young will be fit for the new digital, robotic work that lies ahead; Jay Inslee, currently governor of Washington, worried about climate change, proposes to eliminate the use of coal within ten years and by 2030 have only electric cars on our streets; Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., owing to what he claims is his thirst for fairness, wants to eliminate the Electoral College.
4. David French declares the South to be a pro-life stronghold. From his article:
But in the national battle over America’s second sin, the geography is flipped. The moral virtue is reversed. The geography of the Civil War is repeating itself, but this time with the American South affirming the promise of the Founding — that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights, first among them a right to life. The key states of the American North are rejecting that truth, granting a woman the right to hire a doctor to kill her child right until the moment of birth.
In the first six months of this year, the core of the Old South passed a wave of bills protecting unborn life. There were heartbeat bills in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. Alabama passed an abortion ban. Tennessee passed a “trigger bill,” a law that will severely restrict abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Add to this southern bloc of states Ohio, with its heartbeat law, and there now exists an immense American region, spanning part of the Midwest and virtually the entire Deep South, that has united and declared with one voice, No more. They are opting out of the culture of death.
And what of the North? What of the righteous and courageous protagonists in the fight against slavery? New York and Illinois have led the way, liberalizing their abortion laws to such an extent that even viable unborn children can be killed on demand. Maine’s governor just signed a bill requiring public and private insurance policies to cover abortions, and Massachusetts lawmakers are considering expanding abortion access in their commonwealth.
We Have Not Given Up on Connecticut
It’s been home for some 26 years, a period that saw it fall from being one of the nation’s most prosperous states to Number 50 or thereabouts in so many economic-indicator categories. We remaining residents are grateful that Obama was wrong about there being 57 states, because if there were, well, 50 would be surely prove aspirational for this still-plunging New England small fry.
So into the reigning despair blows a wind of hope, courtesy of a new undertaking known as the Charter Oak Leadership Program, which, in its own words, will “develop, strengthen, train and equip emerging leaders to reach new heights in public policy and the political process,” and identify and bring together “emerging leaders from the legal, economic, business, political, nonprofit and civic professions to learn how visionary, principle-centered leadership can positively impact their community.”
That’s a mouthful, sure. But it’s a true sign of hope. And damn, do we need hope in these parts! And do we need to get the conservatives here reengaged in two of the Program’s key goals: Defending the Declaration and defending capitalism. Nutmeggers interested in participating in the program should apply now (the deadline is August 2).
1. Making the world safe for Leftism: At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman reports on the UN’s war against free speech. From the beginning of the piece:
In January, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, tasked his Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to “present a global plan of action against hate speech and hate crimes on a fast-track basis”. Speaking at a press conference about the UN’s challenges for 2019, Guterres maintained, “The biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is to show that we care – and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with answers . . .”
One of those answers, Guterres appeared to suggest, is shutting down free speech.
“We need to enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today – and, in particular, to tackle the rise of hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance. We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past” Guterres said, “Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting the mainstream. Let’s never forget the lessons of the 1930s. Hate speech and hate crimes are direct threats to human rights . . .”
Guterres added, “Words are not enough. We need to be effective in both asserting our universal values and in addressing the root causes of fear, mistrust, anxiety and anger. That is the key to bring people along in defence of those values that are under such grave threat today.”
2. More expert analysis from my pals at Gatestone Institute, this time Con Coughlin’s excellent report on Iran’s new global terror network. And I do mean global. Here’s a slice:
As Iran intensifies its efforts to establish a global terror network, new evidence has emerged that highlights the regime’s attempts to establish a terrorist infrastructure in Africa.
Western security officials claim the Iranian initiative in Africa has been launched in response to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the controversial nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the world’s leading powers in 2015.
The objective of the African-based terror network, Western security officials say, is to establish a group of so-called “sleeper cells” that can be activated to attack Western targets if tensions between Iran and the West result in a serious escalation in hostilities. US, British, French and other Western bases in the region are the most likely targets for future terrorist attacks, and a number of Western governments are understood to have responded by ordering their military and diplomatic missions in the region to upgrade security arrangements.
3. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, from Krakow and discussing a new book he is writing, takes on the “new civil religion” that is filled with hate for the old God-ish one. From his blog:
The new book I’m working on is not a religious work, per se, not like The Benedict Option. But it will be a good companion work, in that it regards the religion of Social Justice we’re now confronting as a form of soft totalitarianism, aided and abetted by technology. In the book, I’m asking those still alive with memories of the old, hard Communist totalitarianism to tell us how they resisted, so that we younger people can incorporate that wisdom into our own responses to the soft totalitarianism we’re faced with today. One message that I’ve been getting from younger Christians in every formerly Communist country I’ve visited to research this book: older Christians, the ones leading the resistance, are mostly out of touch with the social realities that the young deal with. Consequently, the forces of religious and social conservatism are losing, and losing badly, despite their political victories. People my age and older, we have to start listening seriously to the young who share our convictions, but who have a greater sense of social reality than most of us do.
We are not fated to lose this war! One lesson I hear over and over from anti-communist dissidents: almost none of them expected Communism to fall in their lifetimes, or in several lifetimes. They figured it would fall eventually, because it’s based on lies about human nature. Still, they thought that it would take a very long time for it to collapse finally. In fact, Soviet communism lasted fewer than 50 years in Eastern and Central Europe.
4. In First Things, Peter Hitchens scores Anshel Pfeffer’s new Netanyahu biography a “cool and just assessment.” From the review:
If Netanyahu were a conventional figure, governing a conventional country in the left-wing tradition that academics, journalists, and diplomats tend to admire, he would be feted for his many positive characteristics. Alas for him, he is, at least at the time of this writing, Prime Minister of Israel. (I am cautious because Israel’s political system, apparently designed by the country’s enemies, cannot be relied on to leave anyone in office for long.) In most elevated circles, his name is pronounced with a sneer. In Israel itself, where the academy, newspapers, and broadcasting are dominated by the self-indulgent left, the elite more or less assume his fundamental unsuitability for high office. The accusations of corruption levelled against him are treated as self-evidently true.
Yet he successfully plays and repeatedly wins the electoral game, as well as the absurd coalition game under which nobody can come to power without making a deal with at least one mad faction. There are, it seems, quite a lot of Israelis who are not pacifist liberals—especially the many recent Russian immigrants, schooled in pessimism from birth, who are basically the opposite of the old kibbutzniks. Yet, despite their support, Netanyahu can hardly be described as a warmonger. Just as Israel’s herbivorous left almost always seemed to be in charge in time of war, the carnivorous Netanyahu has not gone to war all that much. Apart from some nasty violence in Gaza, he has had a surprisingly peaceable record so far. The evidence suggests he suffers from caution, hardly a terrifying vice in the leader of a nuclear power in a zone of permanent tension. And his own military experience makes him less, not more, susceptible to the urgings of generals. They cannot befuddle him with the glamour of uniforms, big guns, fast jets, and surgical strikes. He knows there is no such thing as a surgical strike.
5. At The Spectator USA, Daniel McCarthy reflects on the late H. Ross Perot, and remembers a populist who in fact betrayed populism. From his commentary:
Perot’s allergy to social conservatives was one of the things that would doom his populism and prevent it from becoming a movement at the time when American most needed a national alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, twin parties of free trade, mass immigration, and foreign conflicts. But in ’92, he and Stockdale took nearly 20 percent of the popular vote, a success outstripping anything that a candidate outside the major parties had achieved since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. Perot could have widened that success into an institutional force in American politics, if he had been willing to build a coalition with figures such as Pat Buchanan who agreed with him on most of his signature issues. Perot instead turned the Reform party that he built after his 1992 run into a personal plaything. He frustrated activists and organizers in the party in 1996 by giving mixed signals about his willingness to run again, and when he finally did so he disappointed at the ballot box. (Perot had shown flaky tendencies even in ’92, when he withdrew from the race at one point, only to re-enter it in time for the election, having, however, made himself look ridiculous by his vacillation.)
Buchanan had bloodied George H.W. Bush in the 1992 primaries and, having won the New Hampshire primary, came close to knocking Bob Dole out of the race for the 1996 nomination. But when Buchanan showed interest in running for the Reform party nomination in 2000, Perot worked behind the scenes to block him. The result was to turn the party into a farce, with a faction of Transcendental Meditation enthusiasts aligned with the fringe Natural Law party contesting the nomination with Buchanan. The Republican renegade won, but by the time he did so, not only was the nomination worthless, so was the Reform party itself. Had Perot backed Buchanan or simply stood aside and let him succeed, the Reform party very easily could have been the determining factor in the 2000 election—which of course came down to a handful of votes in Florida, or, depending on your perspective, a single vote in the United States Supreme Court. The Reform party could not have won the 2000 election, but it could have shown that populism was a force neither party could afford to ignore. Instead, thanks to Perot’s hostility to Buchanan’s social conservatism, Perot made his party and Buchanan both seem like proof of populism’s irrelevance. The upshot was eight years of Bush Republicanism in the White House characterized by exactly the sorts of policies Perot had entered politics to run against.
6. Seattle, reported the local Times, has had a hate-crime epidemic. Except, writes Wilfred Reilly in Quillette, it hasn’t. From his report:
In the Times piece, headlined “Reported Hate Crimes and Incidents up Nearly 400% in Seattle Since 2012,” reporter Daniel Beekman suggests that the problem continues to get worse, estimating that since 2017 alone, hate cases have jumped 25 percent. He also reports that “community organizations say hate crimes are a serious issue,” and cites sources claiming that “more support from the city” is needed to battle hate crime. Beekman’s tone is relatively measured. But others have delivered more alarmist takes, creating fear that minority residents may be swept up in an “epidemic” of hate.
A look through the data that has been made available from Seattle’s office of the City Auditor reveals that there is little basis for panic. First, most of the situations contained in the 500-plus documented incidents for 2018 turned out not to be hate crimes at all. Out of 521 confrontations or other incidents reported to the police at some point during the year, 181 (35 percent) were deemed insufficiently serious to qualify as crimes of any kind. Another 215 (41 percent) turned out to involve some minor element of bias (i.e., an ethnic slur used during a fight), but did not rise to the definition of hate crime. Only 125, or 24 percent, qualified as potential hate crimes—i.e., alleged “criminal incidents directly motivated by bias.” For purposes of comparison: There are 745,000 people living in Seattle, and 3.5-million in the metro area.
Even that 125 figure represents an overestimate, at least as compared to what most of us imagine to be the stereotypical hate crime (of, say, a gang of white racists beating up someone of a different skin color). Seattle’s remarkably broad municipal hate-crime policies cover not only attacks motivated by racial or sexual animus, but also those related to “homelessness, marital status, political ideology, age and parental status.”
Indeed, if there is a single archetypal Seattle hate incident that emerges from this data, it would seem to involve a mentally ill homeless man yelling slurs at someone. According to the City Auditor, 22 percent of hate perps were “living unsheltered” at the time of their crime, 20 percent were mentally ill, and 20 percent were severely intoxicated.
One hundred years ago today, Carl Mays walked off the mound after catcher Wally Schang, allegedly throwing the ball to second on an attempted steal, actually tossed the sphere into the hurler’s head. In the next inning, an irate Mays refused to take the field because he had had enough of his fellow Red Sox’ uprising — mutiny? — against their quite unliked teammate. The walk-off and de facto one-man strike brought down the wrath of American League president Ban Johnson, who . . . banned Mays. Within two weeks the defiant Red Sox traded their former ace to the Yankees, who sued Johnson to overturn his ban. A court backed the Yankees, and Johnson’s institutional defeat over his Mays’ dictat, combined with the Black Sox scandal of that year’s World Series, resulted in the MLB soon hiring a commissioner to run baseball’s affairs. Such are the consequences of a tantrum.
Back to Mays: A “submarine” pitcher who many believed intentionally threw at batters’ heads, he killed Indians shortstop Ray Chapman with a beanball in a 4–3 loss at the Polo Grounds on August 16, 1920 — Mays denied the pitch was intentional, claiming the wet ball got away from him (and there is much evidence that the league at the time, pressed by penny-pinching owners, allowed the use of tattered game balls). But his reputation, bad as it was, got worse, and for decades has stayed that way.
What also got away from Mays, for posterity, is a place in the Hall of Fame. His 207–126 career record and lifetime 2.92 ERA (and, not too shabbily, he hit .268 in his 15 seasons and went 3–4 in four World Series) are worthy numbers, and he was one of three pitchers — the others are Grover Cleveland Alexander and Roger Clemens — to win 20 or more games for three teams (Clemens, with 18 victories for the Astros in 2004, almost did that for four teams). But it is more likely that Clemens, and a unicorn, will get the Hall first before Mays.
Meanwhile . . . RIP Jim Bouton. Hoping God calls it, “Ball Four, take your base.”
There is an interesting conference occurring next week in D.C. on “National Conservatism.” Pray it is a gathering that results in some thoughtful ways forward, to protect the principles of our movement, and that it not be a circular firing-squad.
God’s Graces and Blessings on You and Yours,
Who will receive your accolades and brickbats at firstname.lastname@example.org.