I want to give you a heads up about next weekend, when America celebrates Memorial Day. Turner Classic Movies deserves a shout-out for its bloated Memorial Day Marathon, scheduled for May 25 – 28. In the whole, this barrage of classic films pays a big and fitting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, or who put themselves in harm’s way. If I had to pick just three films to watch, they’d be John Ford’s They Were Expendable (The Duke and the entire Ford ensemble), the brilliant Battleground (Van Johnson’s “Oh No!” and John Hodiak’s “Hey! Hey!” are two of my favorite lines — yes, I am simple), and John Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage, so simple and so powerful, with terrific performances by so many (Audie Murphy, Arthur Hunnicutt, Bill Maudlin, Andy Devine, Royal Dano, Robert Easton).
Also on tap will be The Best Years of Our Lives. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 50 times. Let’s make it 51, and let me conclude today’s lecture with this: If you get TCM and don’t avail yourself of these movies, you are depriving yourself of beautiful and meaningful American art — real art that is not only great, but also deeply patriotic.
But that’s next weekend, looking ahead. And now let’s do a 180 and see what just happened on NRO.
1. To this institution’s old and dear friend, to one of the greatest men of letters this country ever produced, we say rest in peace. Tom Wolfe passed away on May 14. From our editorial:
Literary sociology, you could call it, the New Journalism. Its overlap with the novel was obvious. Wolfe had a nose for snobbery, and particularly for snobbery where it met politics. In “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s” (1970), a magazine article about the time the conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife, the actress Felicia Montealegre, opened up their Park Avenue duplex to the Black Panthers and rich white liberals eager to celebrate (and help fund) the “revolutionaries,” Wolfe trained his clear eyes on the smallest as well as the largest status-signaling details of upper-class Manhattanites trying on the political fashions of the day. He described the scene with sparkle and set it against the background of a discussion of relevant history and social science. As literature, it was a fireworks display; as sociology, a daredevil act. He delighted some readers, and scandalized others, by showing in the fullness of its absurdity the transformation of mere “limousine liberals” into flag-wavers for the extremes of political correctness, as we now call it. He provided a vocabulary for describing what others had already seen and felt but had been unable to put into words.
2. Hamas’s version of doing business is getting scores of people killed. Just another day at their anti-Semitic office. From the editorial:
Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that aims for a pan-Islamic world and is willing to use force to achieve it. Hamas took power in Gaza through a coup that overthrew Fatah, a rival group of nationalists on the West Bank. Ever since, Hamas has been the sole source of law in Gaza, a condition in which corruption and terrorism inevitably fester. Massive subsidies from Iran are spent on arms and digging expensive tunnels under the fence for future attacks on Israel. In this embryo police state, critics of Hamas, for instance journalists who question the luxurious villas of the leadership, disappear and are not seen again.
3. We commend President Trump for his administration’s actions to refund the well-heeled abortion monolith, Planned Parenthood. From the editorial:
Thus, it’s a simple fact that the administration’s announcement yesterday is but the first step in a long journey — the beginning of yet another regulatory, legal, and political fight where the outcome is far from certain. But Republicans must not shy away from this battle, and the Trump administration is right to more effectively enforce the will of Congress. We applaud this decision.
1. Big bad John Hillen is the guest on the new episode of The Bookmonger, where he discusses with John J. Miller his new book, What Happens Now? Reinvent Yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You (co-authored by Mark Nevins). You’ve got to listen.
2. Book-tour hostage Jonah has jet lag. But not opinion lag. Listen to the new episode of The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg — a taping of an audience-fortified affair sponsored by AEI and Ricochet — here.
3. The U.S. embassy has moved to Jerusalem, and The Editors are on hand (albeit at NR’s NYC HQ) to offer their esteemed opinions. In the new episode, Rich, Reihan, MBD, and “Baseball Crank” Dan McLaughlin discuss the move, plus the death of Tom Wolfe and the Democrats’ shift to the left. Listen here.
6. Niall Ferguson is the guest on The Jamie Weinstein Show. They chat about how the Trump administration is doing after a year in office, the state of the world, his influences, and much more. Check it out here.
7. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern joins Scotty WhattyDoDO and El Jeffe on the new episode of Political Beats. They talk about The Velvet Underground. Tune in here.
8. Ordered Liberty hosts David and Alexandra discuss the Senate Intelligence Committee’s document dump on Russia, Israel’s conflict with Hamas, and how the #MeToo movement is robbing the Left of moral authority. Heady stuff that you can and must hear with your own heady.
A Baker’s Dozen Exemplars of NRO Brilliance — Eat the Whole Box
1. There’s nothing “moderate” about Congressman Adam Schiff. Jim Geraghty files an excellent report on the Democrats’ principle Russia-investigation hack. From his piece:
Schiff dismissed the House’s special committee investigating the Benghazi attacks as “a colossal waste of time” and concluded “politics played no part in the initial intelligence assessments after the attack.” During the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Schiff said that her use of a private server was “lawful at the time and a mistake” and that “the rules allowed her to use a private server as long as she preserved her e-mails, and she did.” In 2017, when the Justice Department opened an investigation into a 2010 deal in which Hillary Clinton and the U.S. State Department allowed the sale of American uranium-mining facilities to Russia’s state atomic-energy company, Schiff again dismissed it as much ado about nothing: “This looks a lot to me like a redux of Benghazi. This investigation is starting again for political purpose.” In a Politico interview, he dismissed “sideshow investigations of FISA abuse.”
2. Everyone gets an award! And everyone who wants to be a cheerleader . . . gets to be one! Kat Timpf cuts the no-cuts lunacy at Hanover Park High School. From her piece:
Now, I was cut from the cheerleading team in middle school. I got cut because I was bad — so bad, in fact, that I really had some nerve to waste everyone’s time by trying out in the first place. In high school, I never was able to make varsity cheerleading. In fact, I’ve been rejected from almost every single athletic endeavor that I’ve ever attempted, and do you know what? I think the policy at Hanover Park is ridiculous.
3. Liberal comedians are finally getting it: Not laughs, but the fact that their constant jabs at the Right are having a consequence. Ben Shapiro has a must-read column, from which I’ll share a slice:
My mentor, Andrew Breitbart, was fond of pointing out that culture was upstream of politics. But so is counterculture. And as Hollywood and the media have come to be dominated in extraordinary fashion by the Left, the counterculture has risen: cynical about the entertainment industry, annoyed by their constant pandering, irritated by their snide self-assurance. It’s not that the Right has created a cultural milieu that can counter the power of the Left — it’s that the Right has responded to the Left by channeling their lack of a cultural outlet into politics. Conservatives didn’t respond to Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert by creating a conservative version of Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. They responded by electing Donald Trump, a Republican Congress, a Republican Senate, Republican governors, and Republican statehouses.
4. There’s a new film out called First Reformed. It’s by Paul Schrader, who includes Taxi Driver among his works. Kyle Smith calls it “spellbinding.” And more.
If Travis Bickle saw himself as a kind of avenging angel of 42nd Street, Schrader’s new protagonist trains his righteous fury on all of humanity. Taxi Driver was an emblem of the 1970s, and First Reformed is equally attuned to its time, astutely recognizing the end-of-days fundamentalist hysteria among climate-change obsessives. It’s an exacting film, substantial and suspenseful, one of the best of the year so far.
5. Goodbye Tom Wolfe Two: Rick Brookhiser’s R.I.P.
6. Goodbye Tom Wolfe Three: Kyle Smith’s R.I.P.
7. David French says the Left’s moral authority, whatever that might be, has been diminished by the steady drumbeat of sexual scandal. From his piece:
There are very good reasons why there is collapsing trust in American public institutions, and #MeToo has only hastened that collapse. Make no mistake, it’s a welcome reckoning. But it’s also dismantling progressive moral credibility. It’s revealing a deep rot and entrenched corruption. And it’s leaving Americans with a profound, unanswered question: You say the Trump GOP is morally bad, but where is your morally superior alternative?
8. You wonder: What could America have done to help these people, these victims of tyranny in our hemisphere? Eduard Freisler covers the despair that has overcome Venezuela’s opposition to the foul Nicolás Maduro. From his piece:
Full-blown dictatorship has arrived in Venezuela. The presidential election on May 20 is widely seen as a farce. Many predict that Maduro will win a six-year term by a comfortable margin. That will happen even though Venezuela, once the richest country in South America, is now mired in its worst economic crisis in modern times, according to the International Monetary Fund. The social fabric has been torn to pieces. Food distribution, health care, education, transportation, and public safety are all on the verge of collapse.
Ninety percent of the population lives in poverty, according to a recent study conducted by three respected Venezuelan universities. The economy and civil society have undergone a dramatic collapse under Nicolás Maduro’s watch.
Still, he will sail to a victory. How is it possible?
9. Move over Three Stooges: It looks like Senator Kristen Gillibrand might just be the president of the Women Haters Club. Dan McLaughlin has the number of the liberal New Yorker and her empty gender rhetoric.
10. Donald Trump lashes out at the brutal El Salvadoran gangs that are terrorizing U.S cities. “These aren’t people, these are animals . . .” he stated. Of course the New York Times translates that into: “Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants.” This is what’s called “lying,” and writing on the Corner, Charlie Cooke calls out the MSM for engaging in that, willfully.
11. This Pastor Jeffress, embassy blesser and denigrator of Catholics and Mormons, is some kind of preacher, eh? Mark Tooley explains just who he is, what he has said, and how he runs counter to America’s tradition of tolerance. From his piece:
One of the glories and successes of American democracy is that people of faith in the public arena are not expected to abandon or minimize the distinctness of their own theology. Or at least not until recently. Generally, we’ve shared a broad expectation that publicly engaged religious practitioners will be respectful toward one another. Believers don’t have to agree about one another’s salvation. Yet ideally, in public life, they will speak and behave civilly, recognizing that American citizenship guarantees equal rights for all, irrespective of theology. It’s unclear whether Jeffress fully affirms this notion.
12. Is there a conservative case to make for breaking up social-media monopolies like Google and Facebook? John Hawkins has an interesting piece worth your attention. Here’s a slice:
Admittedly, breaking up a tech platform is a tricky proposition; people want to use Facebook because other people use Facebook, for example, so the government would probably have little success and win few friends if it tried to force users to divide into Facebook 1 and Facebook 2. What the government can do, however, is separate the core platform from the other products and services these companies provide, thus limiting the amount of power concentrated in a single company’s hands. If Google and Facebook were broken up into multiple companies this way, there would be more competitors in the marketplace, and the companies would be less able to leverage their dominance in one product to give themselves an unfair advantage for others.
13. Speech control remains a preoccupation of many censor-happy California legislators. Stephanie Taub has the story on the latest proposal, to restrict access to information on marriage and human sexuality. From her piece:
Specifically, California Assembly Bill 2943 would make “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual,” connected with the sale of goods or services, unlawful as a type of consumer fraud. The bill defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.” Of course, the bill does not prohibit those psychotherapies that the government believes are intended to affirm rather than change gender expressions or romantic feelings.
Off the Shelf
Michael Brendan Dougherty has been reading and writing about books for NRO. His weekly “Off the Shelf” column deserves your attention, I humbly suggest. Here are two recent samples:
I miss them. Passing through the Garden State last year, my family had to stop for lunch. Why not hit the old hometown? We went to the State Street diner. Which is just a few steps from the spot at Nardiello Hall where I spent so many hours of childhood waiting to be picked up after school, in my uniform of grey slacks, a white shirt, and a plaid maroon tie. The ethnic and racial mix of the diner clientele immediately made me homesick. I don’t recognize any single individual, but I recognized the composite whole.
In my childhood, neighborhoods in Bloomfield could be segregated, even between different white ethnics. Halcyon Park was then mostly Italian-American, with a substantial Irish minority and a very tiny smattering of Poles. The racial divisions were policed, often cruelly, I later discovered. But the commercial spaces, and — to a lesser extent — my parochial school, brought people together, perhaps against the wishes of some parents. In my early childhood my generalized idea of America, built from my impressions from the classroom, was that it was a country founded by an Italian — Christopher Columbus — and that Italians ran the important bits like New York and New Jersey, with strong supporting roles for African Americans and the Irish. Filipinos were emerging, however, destined to become one third of the country. This hierarchy roughly reflected my childhood measurement of America’s institutions. There was the Gambino crime family, then the mayoralty of New York City, then the police unions, and the local grocers. Italians and Irish didn’t run the American South, however, where all white Protestants lived in extreme heat. The heat was appropriate, I thought; they were preparing their souls and bodies for the torments of hell on account of their racism and lack of access to the sacraments.
2. Reading Halik Kochanski’s The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and Poles in the Second World War, MBD reflects on how this country, this people, has been at the center of so much intrigue by its warrior neighbors. Here’s a slice from his essay:
Imagine living life as a lower-middle-class Pole in eastern Poland and then being dragged across the length of the Soviet Union to arrive in the taiga of Siberia, denounced as a disgusting capitalist in front of Ukrainians who nurse national grudges against you. Then you are called out to join a new army, but one so poorly supplied that you must march through Kazakhstan, looking for salvation in Iran, where the British forces can do what the Soviet Union can’t, or won’t: feed and clothe you. Polish men kissed “the free sand of Persia” and found themselves loaded onto boats, while Brits looked on in horror at their condition.
Not everything was absurd. Polish pilots excelled in their contributions to the defense of British skies and became something like war celebrities. I savored the moments later in the war when some Poles living in Nazi-occupied Poland were able to foil the more desperate plans of their tormenter Hans Frank, who tried to get the Poles on side against the Soviets crashing back through the country. Frank wanted to give Poles some share in the administration of governance. The potential Polish recruits were told by Polish resisters of the Home Army that they could choose “between a German and a Polish bullet.”
Hey, This Is Important
Under the direction of Kathryn Jean Lopez, director of the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society, National Review Institute will be hosting a foster-care forum (“Fostering a Culture of Hope: Exploring Faith-Based Solutions to Foster-Care Needs”) in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 24. The forum will include foster parents, policymakers, researchers, and people who have made it their (loving!) business to connect children and families: On hand will be Charmaine Yoest, Randy Hicks, Kathleen Domingo, Lisa Ann Wheeler, Sharen Ford, Elizabeth Kirk, Natalie Goodnow, and the incoming chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life office, Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
Because of the current opioid crisis, America’s foster-care system is unsustainable (you really should read Darcy Olsen’s recent NRO piece, “America’s Flood of Opioid Orphans”), so this is becoming an increasingly important matter for conservatives, and all people. The forum’s goal is educational, emphasizing the priority we need to be making of foster care and adoption, as well as highlighting resources. We’re hoping to meet with people who can add to the conversation, or contribute to the solution. Special note: The forum will immediately follow (at the same hotel) the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m., and the forum runs from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Do come. Sign up here.
One More Hurrah for Conrad
Lord Black and I became pen pals when he was doing time in the federal pen, a victim of an overzealous prosecution and a vindictive judge. He passed some of that time writing an exceptional weekly column for NRO — I found his style of writing and the sweep of topics that he could amass in a single sentence or paragraph to be thrilling and unique. I still do. Back from a West Coast trip, I found a copy of his new book, Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other, waiting for me (I had ordered it from Amazon). I encourage you to do likewise. Another pal and terrific writer, Victor Davis Hanson, has penned the book’s forward. Here’s a little of what VDH has to say about Conrad’s latest presidential bio:
Black’s final third of the book is magisterial, as he recites nascent Trump achievements — tax reform, deregulation, the end of the Affordable Care Act individual mandate, superb judicial appointments, curbs on illegal immigration, expanded oil and gas production, a restoration of deterrence aboard — against a backdrop of nonstop venom and vituperation from the so-called “Resistance.” He is certainly unsparing of the Left’s desperate resort to discard the Electoral College, sue under the emoluments clause, invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, introduce articles of impeachment, and embrace a sick assassination chic of threats to Trump’s person and family. Some element of such hysteria is due to Trump’s ostensible Republican credentials (the Left had devoured even their once beloved John McCain, as well as the gentlemanly and judicious Mitt Romney), but more is due to Trump’s far more conservative agenda and his take-no-prisoners style.
Animals Wise Crackers
Remember when Max Bialystock called actors “animals”? Everyone laughed. From The Producers screenplay:
Leo Bloom: Have you lost your mind? What are you talking about? Kill the actors. You can’t kill the actors — they’re not animals, they’re human beings!
Max Bialystock: They are? Have you ever eaten with one?
1. Definitely not your dad’s Oldsmobile: California Policy Center has published the last of Edward Ring’s three-part series on the Golden State’s “Transportation Future.” Buck Rogers would be swooning over Next-Generation Vehicles. From the piece:
Even more variation will be present in the passenger modules. An SUV sized passenger module, for example, might hold 6-8 passengers like a mini-bus. Or it might be a conference room or an office where a group of passengers could conduct work while being transported. Or it might be a sleeper unit, a rolling hotel room, where a lone passenger or a family or work crew would sleep while en-route to their destination.
Perhaps even more amazing are the aerial modules that are coming. A passenger module may arrive at a staging area on a wheeled chassis, where an aerial drone will attach itself to the top of the passenger module at the same time as that module is released from the skateboard chassis. In an automated, seamless process, the occupants will then be flown beneath this drone to their intended destination.
In case I failed to remark on this in a prior WJ, Ring’s first essay derailed the CA Left’s obsession with the slow-choo-choo project that will cost tens of billions.
2. Can’t Handle the Truth: At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey reports on how actors rehearsing the forthcoming play The $18-Billion Prize (Yours Truly wrote about it here — it opens tomorrow in San Francisco, so do go see it if you live in the Bay area) are incapable of reading the verbatim (criminal!) accounts of the Lefty trial lawyers who contrived a climate-change scam/shakedown of an oil giant.
3. The mascot at San Diego State University was the Aztec Warrior. Earlier this year, the usual suspects commenced a study to decide if the mascot was “disrespectful or racist.” Administrators took note and are now redubbing him the “Spirit Leader.” Jennifer Kabbany at The College Fix has the sorry story.
4. Are the Gaza riots really about an embassy? At Gatestone, Bassam Tawil call bull-poop. From his piece:
Does anyone seriously think that a young Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip and who has never been outside the coastal enclave really cares whether the US embassy is located in Jerusalem? This Palestinian has never been to Jerusalem or the West Bank; in most instances, young Palestinians have not even been out of the Gaza Strip.
Why should a young Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip care about the embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when the vast majority of the Arab residents of Jerusalem and Arab countries do not seem to be bothered by Trump’s decision?
Proving this week that the last thing on their mind is the issue of the US embassy, the Arabs of Jerusalem did not stage any protests or even go on strike (only a few Arab citizens of Israel and a handful of political activists from east Jerusalem showed up for a planned protest near the site of the new US embassy). Moreover, we did not see millions of Arabs and Muslims take to the streets in their countries to express outrage over the embassy move.
5. At City Journal, Rafael Mangual has an excellent piece on how police are overwhelmingly non-violent.
6. Mark Judge and Liberty Island founder Adam Bellow sit down for a most interesting chat about conservative fiction at The University Bookman. You can read the transcript here. Or listen to the conversation here.
1. On the new episode of Uncommon Knowledge, Peter Robinson interviews General James Mattis. Read about it and watch it at the Corner, here.
2. John Stossel slaps Seattle for the crazed “head tax” its city council has placed on employers, purportedly to bankroll programs for the city’s homeless population. Watch his take here.
3. Douglas Murray says Europe is committing suicide. How is this happening? On the new Prager U video, it’s all explained.
The National Pastime has had two infamous pitchers (and only two, for that matter) named Bobo.
Bobo Hollman pitched but one season (1953) for the St. Louis Browns, and though he earned a lowly 3-7 lifetime record, the rookie gained immortality when he picked up his first victory on May 6: He pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia A’s. (It gave the Browns a 10-9 record, and that would be the last time in its history that the club had a record above .500).
Nineteen Fifty-Three also marked the 20th and final year of Bobo Newsom, the colorful and self-referencing uber-journeyman hurler whose lifetime record of 211-222 is somewhat unique in the Game’s annals. On the evening of Friday, June 26, at Connie Mack Stadium in Philly, both Bobos pitched. The A’s won, 6-5. Here’s the boxscore. Of extra interest: Satchel Paige took the loss, giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th in a blown save.
Think before hitting the SEND button, fly the flag, pray to your guardian angel, don’t litter, and send someone on the National Review 2018 Buckley Legacy Cruise, which sails December 1 – 8 through sunny Caribbean. You can get complete information at www.nrcruise.com.
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P.S.: In the prior WJ, Mother’s Day thick in the air, I said nice things about mama mia, and admitted the obvious: I am a blank of a son. Even a blankety-blank. Well, one reader said I was a blankety-blank for calling myself a blankety-blank. Oy. And then another reader told me I was a blanketier-blank – actually, the blankestiest blank – because I didn’t admit just how blankety much of a horrible blankety-blank son I really am. Oy vey!