The Weekend Jolt

National Review

My Love For You Ain’t Flagging, Betsy

Dear Weekend Jolters,

Life is good, the dog is napping, God is in His Heaven awaiting us, we enjoy the blessings of liberty, and yet . . . Betsy Ross now joins Kate Smith under a bus, tossed there by a corporate America that is in the clutches of multiculturalism, susceptible to any claim that even the most innocuous thing might be racist. This diminishing of another once-revered figure, a Founding Mother (who lost two husbands in the War of Independence), makes it feel as if we may now indeed be, completely, in some new era. Or, that an old era has passed away. Was it a natural death, or a death by . . . strangulation?

What happened, in case you did not hear, was this: Nike, maker of footwear that impoverishes, was set to release a Fourth of July sneaker that portrayed Betsy’s 13 Stars and Stripes, which by lore she sewed for George Washington, thereby making what we hold to be America’s first official flag. And no nation loves its flag like America does, right? Right! So even uber-PC Nike was set to make many a buck off a limited-edition clodhopper emblazoned with the Oldest of Glories.

And then serial kneeler and instigator Colin Kaepernick told the kicks-maker that the Betsy Ross-crafted symbol — that iconic image whose progeny of accumulating stars led men into battle to end slavery and defeat fascism — was, yes, racist. And so Nike, taking time from sucking up to Red Chinese officials attacking Hong Kong protesters, kyboshed the “Air Max 1 USA,” its corporate mouthpiece uttering blah blah blahs for an explanation.

Yours Truly rarely wears a tie not adorned by our Grand Old Flag, so I’d be hard pressed to condemn it on other wear, although on a shoe, hmmm: not the greatest of ideas. Still, the heel of the Air Max 1 USA is now a cultural battleground. Allegiances are commanded. So, fix bayonets . . .

But first, do break out the popcorn: In 1927 MGM released The Flag, about George, Betsy, needle, thread, an old petticoat, and history. Part One can be watched here. Part Two, here.

Also, in the post-4th glow, as for flags: The final battle scene in The Red Badge of Courage is a wonderful piece of cinema. The great Audie Murphy, playing Henry Fleming (a.k.a. “The Youth”), his fears disregarded, his blood up, grabs Old Glory from a dying comrade and leads a charge on the Confederate lines, John Brown’s Body blaring, capturing the Stars and Bars from a dying Reb, the wind blowing so that the banners seem to be in a brief ballet. Watch it here.

A Limited-Edition WJ, So the Editorial Kids Can Play on the Beach, But a Goodly Amount for Your Enjoyment and Edification

WJ was locked and loaded early in the week, so that Editor Phil and the other NR wunderkinds who are tasked with sweeping up after this elephant would be free to spend the 4th and 5th shooting off bottle rockets and firecrackers and drinking sodie pop on some sunny beach. We offer up eight mouth-watering NR pieces for you.

1. More about Nike: Kevin Williamson looks at the company’s B.S.-explained decision to kill a venture because it made the Chi-Coms unhappy. From the beginning of his piece:

Nike, the athletic shoe giant, has pulled a product off the shelves in response to a storm of social-media protest. The product was a sneaker collaboration with sportswear brand Undercover, whose principal designer, Jun Takahashi, published these unspeakable words on Twitter: “No extradition. Go Hong Kong!”

Nike says it made the decision “based on feedback from Chinese consumers.” Just so.

The context is this: Hong Kong, a free, liberal, democratic, self-governing city was handed over to the powers that be in Beijing — a clutch of corrupt, brutal, dishonest, organ-harvesting, gulag-operating murderers — as part of an agreement with the United Kingdom, who once had sovereignty over Hong Kong as a colonial power. Beijing wants Hong Kong to be more like the rest of China, and the people of Hong Kong do not. They recently took to the streets to force the reversal of a decision that would have subjected Hong Kong residents to extradition to the so-called People’s Republic of China for certain crimes rather than be tried in Hong Kong under Hong Kong law. Because the junta in Beijing has no compunction about drumming up charges for political purposes, this would have represented a noose around the neck of every dissident in Hong Kong. Jun Takahashi tweeted his support for liberal democrats against mass-murdering national socialists.

And Nike sided with the mass-murdering national socialists.

Swoosh: There goes your soul.

2. Declan Leary reports on NYC’s Pride March and finds queer cannibalism and mainstream angst amidst the capitalism wokeness. Here’s a slice.

The kitschy capitalism that runs rampant at the official Pride March has actually sparked a countermarch this year. It’s called the Queer Liberation March, and it’s organized by a group called Reclaim Pride. Their whole hook is that they don’t accept major corporate sponsors (while NYC Pride welcomes them). Horrified at the mainstreaming — sellout, in their eyes — of their once-radical movement, these queer activists have decided that the next enemies to be vanquished are . . . queer activists. Bored with victory, they’ve turned on their own. It’s a strange bit of cannibalism.

On sidewalks and street corners along the route itself, spectators are packed in tight — definitely millions, as expected. After some balloons, the first major contingent is the Gay Liberation Front. The organization was founded in immediate response to the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, and it shows. Packed into the backs of two big, flatbed Penske rental trucks, many of them have to sit and the rest lean on the railings or on canes. The first truck is full, probably two dozen septuagenarians squeezed in there. The second, the same size, holds only two. One sits on the far side facing away from me; the other is standing at the railing, smiling from ear to ear and waving to the crowd with both hands. I think at first that the scene reminds me of Queen Elizabeth. But Nixon is a better comparison.

The older demonstrators — who definitely constitute a disproportionate percentage of the attendees — seem to be reliving the glory days (as it were) of the ’60s, when being radical was actually radical, and being a cross-dressing lesbian Marxist actually meant something other than fitting in on campus. The revolution is over, but they’re not ready to admit it. Their senses of community and meaning have been formed for decades by their self-conception as rebels. Just like the members of Reclaim Pride, they can’t stand the thought of being mainstream. They can’t stand the thought of success.

3. Like it or not, Iran has been at war with the US for four decades. Andy McCarthy says our policy there must be clear, and it must be . . . regime change. From his analysis:

The president was probably right to practice restraint when Iran downed our drone — an MQ-4 Global Hawk — as it conducted surveillance over international waters on June 20. Significantly, this was not a one-off. As recounted by Bill Roggio (Tom Joscelyn’s partner at the Long War Journal), it was the third attack on an unmanned U.S. aerial vehicle in the last three weeks. That is in addition to Iran’s multiple attacks on tankers near the Persian Gulf, as well as attacks on American forces and civilian targets in Iraq.

Trump called off a retaliatory military strike after the June 20 attack. That, however, was not restraint in a vacuum. It was restraint within the context of an ongoing economic pressure campaign that is gradually strangling the regime. Plus, there may well have been a retaliatory strike by U.S. Cyber Command — not as patent as a missile attack, but enough to get Iran’s attention. The president did not lash out with more deadly force because he understood that this is what the mullahs wanted him to do. They are not worried about the killing of a few hundred Iranians (persecuting Iranians is what they do). Their hope is that an American military attack would incite protests in the U.S. and Europe, which would pressure Trump to relent and thus free Europeans to resume lucrative commerce with Tehran.

The president did not fall for it. That’s the good part. The bad part is the way he aborted the missile attack. He offered a specious explanation that a retaliatory strike that killed scores of Iranians would be “disproportionate.”

This misconstrues the concept of proportionality. It is not a tit-for-tat comparison of attacks by each side of a conflict. It is a weighing of the military benefit of an operation against the likely collateral damage. There is no doubt that the planned attacks on radar and missile batteries, which would suppress Iran’s capacity for lethal attacks, were proportionate. Iran, moreover, kills massively and indiscriminately. In any event, the president will only hem himself in if, in effect, he allows the mullahs to define the permissible scope of any responsive strike.

4. Dan McLaughlin breaks out the calculator, the charts, and the Crayolas: His analysis of both the SCOTUS gerrymandering decision and the (mathematical!) political impact of partisan district-making is surely worth a read. Here’s a slice:

While some countries use proportional-representation systems, the American way has always been to pick one winner for each election. Winner-take-all systems have important merits, as they encourage the building of majorities or broad pluralities rather than just the pursuit of small, dedicated factions. More to the point, even in a world where courts or nonpartisan agencies abolished partisan gerrymanders, winner-take-all elections would still be the American rule. Much of the deviation from statewide popular-vote totals in individual states thus results from factors other than partisan district borders:

Winner-take-all elections mean that a candidate who wins 50.1 percent of the two-party vote gets 100 percent of the seat.

Some states have only one seat.

A party that gets below 40 percent of the statewide vote in a larger state can easily lose 100 percent of the races no matter how the districts are drawn.

Democratic voters tend to be more geographically concentrated, in urban areas, than Republican voters.

The Voting Rights Act is sometimes read to require certain districts to be “majority-minority” (i.e. majority non-white) which makes it hard even for nonpartisan districts to be drawn wholly impartially. Some of the same factors would come into play if you were analyzing state legislative districts, rather than congressional districts.

5. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, makes the case for why conservatives need not be pessimistic about free-speech threats on college campuses. From his article:

Consider the major threats to free speech on campus that we at FIRE had on our radar as recently as 2011: The prevalence of campus speech codes, the Obama administration’s wrongheaded federal regulations, and the refusal of much of the media, the general public, politicians, and even universities themselves to take threats to free speech on campus seriously.

On all three fronts we have made tremendous progress. The percentage of colleges that maintain severely restrictive speech policies declined from 74.2 percent in 2009 to 28.5 percent in 2018. The problematic Department of Education regulations that began appearing in 2011 have been repealed or revised in recent years. And the issue of free speech on campus has gone from one that struggled mightily for public attention to one that is publicly discussed everywhere, from mainstream-media outlets to state and federal legislatures to campuses themselves. University presidents and top university lawyers now discuss the issue openly and, while dozens of colleges across the country have adopted a new and strong commitment to freedom of speech, often based on the “Chicago Statement.”

6. Joe Biden isn’t sufficiently woke; don’t be fooled by how the plastic surgery makes his eyes look. Matt Continetti watched the infamous Dem debates, and found a flat-footed front-runner. From his piece:

Biden has encountered the Great Awokening, and he doesn’t know what to make of it. His instinct seems to be to go with the flow. Maybe you noticed the weird way he responded to questions where the moderators asked the candidates to raise their hands. In each case Biden was tentative, uncertain, looking at the competition. At one point he asked the moderator to repeat a question, highlighting his age.

If you had been dropped into this debate from Mars, you would have thought Kamala “for the people” Harris was the Democratic frontrunner. She brought down the house several times. She got Biden tangled up on the issue of busing. She clearly represents the future of the Democratic party. She’s fourth in the national polls, stuck in single digits. But she went toe to toe with the frontrunner — something that was studiously avoided for most of the two nights of debates. And she won.

Something is happening to the Democratic party. It’s been moving left for years. Since Howard Dean’s insurgency in the 2004 campaign, the number of Democrats who have embraced liberalism, progressivism, and now socialism has been steadily increasing. The reason is partly generational. My cohort, the Millennials, embraced the left position on the issues of Iraq and gay marriage, and if anything, Generation Z seems to be more left-wing still. The number of liberals is not an overwhelming majority of the party — not according to polls — but it is a majority. And the number of lefties is so great that it determines the nature of the interest groups that dictate the party’s agenda and talking points. It might even determine the nominee.

7. Kyle Smith should be praying to Saint Hey Jude, because Yesterday comes off as a hopeless cause. From his review:

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a failing British singer-songwriter who, during an unexplained 12-second worldwide blackout, gets hit by a bus. Recovering with the aid of his best friend Ellie (Lily James), he makes a joke about whether she’ll still need him when he’s 64. Why 64?, she asks. Google searches reveal that the Beatles don’t exist. Tentatively, Jack starts singing “Yesterday” and some other Beatles songs to small groups of friends, and when he does one on a local TV show, it catches the eye of Ed Sheeran, who invites Jack to be the opening act for his tour. An L.A. talent agent (played as more grating than funny by Kate McKinnon) introduces him to what Orson Welles once called the standard rich and famous contract. The unresolved questions are: Will Jack confess that he isn’t the author of the Beatles’ songs? And will he and Ellie realize they should be together?

To the second question the only conceivable answer is “Duh.” She’s Lily James. She is to charm approximately what West Virginia is to coal. We’re supposed to believe this chump is going to let her get away? Or to flip it around, once he turns out to be not only the sweetest guy she knows but also the single most talented songwriter in the history of planet Earth, do we really believe she’d rather date a small-town nobody? A romantic comedy has to put considerable ingenuity into the question of what is keeping its lovebirds apart. Curtis and Boyle put none whatsoever into it. How did the author of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and About Time bungle this? It’s like watching Gordon Ramsay try and fail to figure out how to turn on the stove.

8. Tête-à-tête Time: Justin Shapiro (Rich Lowry’s research assistant, please pray for him!) pens this thoughtful analysis of America’s history and the role of POTUSes and other Big Shots (Ben F!) engaging in diplomacy with despots and other uncomfortable types. From his analysis:

Despite the fact that Donald Trump has served as commander in chief of the armed forces and the diplomatic corps for two and a half years, the return of the leader-to-leader tête-à-tête as the hallmark of American foreign relations has been something that the media has struggled to accept after eight years of covering a president who disdained the “buddy-buddy” approach: “Personal relationships are not his style,” as one Middle East peace envoy said of Obama in 2015.

As we approach the 243rd anniversary of the founding of the American Republic, it is worth noting that personal diplomacy, often with unsavory leaders of nations whose values did not align with our own, was instrumental in the founding of this nation and has been paramount in its rise to global power and prestige. It was one thing for Thomas Jefferson to proclaim that “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth . . . a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” It was quite another thing for that dissolution to be brought about and for that new power structure to be formed.

Without French assistance to the colonies during the American Revolution, the British would surely have won. From the French government’s decision to arm the rebels with shipments of Charleville muskets to the decisive intervention of the French navy at Yorktown, the American Revolution was to an undeniable extent a proxy war between two rival European monarchies. Regardless of how one characterizes this assistance, though, it was the result of the personal diplomacy of Benjamin Franklin at the court of Louis XVI.

There is a certain tension to the notion that a newly formed republic made up almost entirely of Protestants that had just declared independence from a limited constitutional parliamentary monarchy would send its leading diplomatic figure to the capital of an absolute Catholic monarch to beg for assistance, but such was and such is the nature of international politics. Had it not been for Franklin’s willingness to engage with a government whose values were at odds with the one he hoped to form, there would have been no French recognition of the United States in 1777, no French fleet in 1781, and no United States today.

The Three

Just for this week, The Six is taking half a vacation.

1. In Commentary, Christine Rosen asks the big question about how America should deal with Facebook. This is a tremendous piece of reporting and analysis. From the essay:

Taming Facebook is a bipartisan challenge, because Facebook’s downstream negative effects are shared across the ideological divide. Whatever fixes Facebook made after the 2016 election to prevent foreign agents from using its platform to undermine elections don’t seem to be working. In late May, for example, Facebook announced that an outside cybersecurity firm called FireEye had alerted the company to potentially nefarious activity on the site by foreign agents. Facebook announced that it had removed “51 accounts, 36 pages, 7 groups, and 3 Instagram accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran.”

Although Facebook didn’t mention it in its statement, FireEye issued its own report that noted the accounts used “fake American personas that espoused both progressive and conservative political stances” and that some “impersonated real American individuals, including a handful of Republican political candidates that ran for House of Representative seats in 2018.”

Facebook offered its standard sorry-not-sorry defense: “We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.” Saying you “don’t want” your services to be used to manipulate people isn’t the same thing as taking responsibility for the mistake and committing to successfully preventing it from happening in the future. Hospitals “don’t want” patients to get sick in the hospital, but if the way a hospital is administered puts patients at greater risk of complications, it’s reasonable to assume the hospital would change its practices.

But Facebook’s priority is protecting its business model and profits, not protecting its users from attempts at manipulation by adversarial foreign governments trying to undermine our democracy. This is why Zuckerberg continues to talk about his creation with Dr. Frankenstein–like obliviousness, as if Facebook is merely the inevitable manifestation of a progressive new vision of technology-enabled global connectedness that he has created and that everyone should agree is all for the good. Meanwhile, his creation, now full-grown, lurches around frightening the villagers, and all Zuckerberg can say in response is that he’s excited to see that villager “engagement” is high.

2. Some Rust Belt hubs seem to be thriving, but the growth may be coming at the expense of smaller cities and towns. At City Journal, Aaron Renn considers the numbers and the effects. From his piece:

In short, population growth in the old industrial heartland appears to consolidate within a limited number of successful metro regions, while the rest of the Rust Belt shows weak to negative demographic trends. Since 2010, Iowa and Ohio—outside Des Moines and Columbus—have lost population. Indianapolis accounted for 77 percent of Indiana’s population growth.

The population shift into successful major cities—or at least a state’s largest city—makes sense considering economic trends. Metro regions of more than 1 million people have added jobs faster than other areas since the recession. These larger cities have bigger agglomerations of college-educated talent, sizable labor markets for today’s dual-career families, connectivity to the global economy through major airports, and the urban amenities attractive to knowledge-based workers and firms.

The shift may be difficult to stop, creating challenges for smaller, stagnant places—but also masking some long-term challenges for the growing cities. As the populations of Rust Belt states decline, especially among younger cohorts, the inbound flow of people also decreases. A demographic boost driven by in-state migrants won’t last forever. Also, the superior national draw of Sunbelt boomtowns creates an advantage with marquee employers. Amazon’s plan to locate 5,000 jobs in Nashville is a good example, as is Apple’s large expansion in Austin. These companies know that even if the talent they need isn’t located in these cities, they can recruit from anywhere.

3. Pervio, ergo sum. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher dives into the enormity of the Sexual Revolution’s social-restructuring. From his piece:

We are living through a version of this, in real time. This is what I mean by “soft totalitarianism.” It’s not about learning to be more compassionate towards sexual minorities. It’s about re-ordering reality. Already they — academia, media, Woke Capital, and others — are breaking down the habits of thought which survived from before the Sexual Revolution. They are abolishing man.

It’s funny, but if Pat Robertson’s CBN had broadcast the same material as in the Times piece today, it would have been denounced as engaging in homophobia, for drawing negative attention to people the network regarded as freaks. You see here an example of what I call the Law Of Motivated Noticing: You may only take note of sexual perversity if you are prepared to affirm it as progressive.

For example, Katie Bishop describes herself as “perverted,” which she certainly is. You can only use that word if you are doing so to approve of Katie Bishop’s perversity, or perversity in general. If you call her, or people like her, “perverse,” but mean it pejoratively, well, then you are a thought criminal.

Another example: if you read the Times story, and say, “How wonderful it is that society is changing to notice and to affirm all these gender identities and sexualities, and how marvelous that the Times is finally paying attention,” you have not committed crimethink. But if you read it and say, “How terrible it is that society is deconstructing itself, and embracing a form of madness, and how bizarre it is that mainstream media like The New York Times writes about this stuff constantly, in total advocacy mode” — well, then you must be a bigoted right-wing obsessive.

One of the most totalitarian aspects of this stage in the Revolution is that it demands that you not notice how radical it is. This is what Orwell meant by doublethink, which he said is a form of “reality control.”

Baseballery

This past week’s 30-run power-fest in London — in MLB’s first-ever regular-season game in Europe, with the Yankees outlasting the Red Sox 17–13 — raised the obvious wonderments about runs scored in the game: Most ever, by one team, etc. Well, for sheer accumulation of runs, that distinction belongs to the Friday, August 25, 1922, battle between the Cubs and Phillies, played before 7,000 at Wrigley Field (then known as “Cubs Park”), with the home team prevailing, 26–23. The Cubs scored 10 runs in the second and 14 in the fourth, and the Phillies brought home 14 runs in the last two frames. They had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the 9th when centerfielder Bevo LeBourveau struck out to end the wild contest.

The Phillies only used two pitchers: Starter Jimmy Ring (he won and lost a game in the infamous 1919 World Series, shutting out the “Black Sox” in Game 2), who gave up 16 runs in 3 1/3 innings, and Lefty Weinert, who gave up 10 runs in 4 2/3 frames. Thanks to four errors, 12 of the Cubs’ runs were unearned. Their starter, Tony Kaufmann, pitched four innings, giving up six runs (three unearned) to take the win. Of additional note: Cubs right-fielder Marty Callaghan got up to bat three times in the 14-run 4th inning.

The most runs scored by one team in a game is 29, which was achieved twice (and remember, in these-here parts we generally stick to pre-expansion): once by the Red Sox on June 8, 1950, in a 29–4 drubbing of the Browns at Fenway Park, and on April 23, 1955 at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. Playing in only its sixth home game since moving from Philadelphia, the As were shellacked by the White Sox, 29–6. One man played for both winning teams: Walt Dropo, the pride of UConn. He had four hits (two of them homers) and seven RBIs in Boston’s 1950 beatdown of the Browns (Ted Williams also had two homers, and second baseman Bobby Doerr smacked three) and three hits (yep, one a homer) and three ribbies in the As’ 1955 pulverizing.

Also of note: The day before they brutalized the Browns, the Red Sox demolished them, 20–4 (and in four of the five games prior to that, Boston scored 11, 11, 17, and 12 runs). And the day after they were humiliated by the As, ace Alex Kellner held the White Sox to five measly hits and blanked them, 5–0.

Editor Phil, MLB Expansionist, makes note of the Texas Rangers’ 30–3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles on August 22, 2007, at Camden Yards.

Readers Write

The previous WJ commenced with a rant by Yours Truly about water. That prompted reader Bob to write:

Right you are, Jack, about water — especially in the agricultural parts of the West. Unfortunately, it is subject to a numbers game, like it is here in Colorado, where the vast majority of people are consolidated around metropolitan Denver and along the front range from Ft. Collins to Pueblo. (And you know what the political leanings of these urban dwellers are.) There is a huge disconnect for them between the produce aisle at Whole Foods and parched land just beyond the city limits. It’s nearly impossible to have even a discussion about increasing water storage (building a reservoir) even though our mountain geography is particularly inviting. Meanwhile, the cities have increasing demand to hydrate the rapidly rising populations, so more and more agricultural water rights are snarfed up, drying up ever more formerly bountiful farm ground.

Drives me nuts!

Bob

A Dios

The glow of America’s 243rd birthday no doubt carrying through into the weekend, pray with gratitude for our special nation, this greatest of political experiments, and reflect on those who signed our Declaration of Independence, considering the courage of its final sentence:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

May we live up to that bravery.

God’s blessings and Graces on You, All Those You Love, and Our Republic

Jack Fowler

Who can be sent patriotic sentiments and derisive expressions, whatever suits your mood, at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

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