Dear Weekend Jolters,
Off the glorious presses this Thursday past was the oh-so-special 65th Anniversary issue of your favorite conservative magazine. Links to much of its contained wonderments (there are 38 articles!) are found below.
Fact: There would be no 65th, or 55th, or even 5th anniversary issues of National Review were it not for the many people, God bless each and every one, who entertained appeals from Bill Buckley and Rich Lowry, who responded with meaningful material support, and who thereby kept NR’s doors open, lights on, keyboards clacking, athwart standing. Thanks a million, to you. At least a million.
Like some sugary gnome, this Jolt is short and sweet, at first. After the get-go, when it’s gotten and gone, we return to start, to jam-pack a second go-round with excerpts, amply satisfying all unexpired expectant excerpt experts.
Barreling down the road, the sign whizzed by read “LIMIT 65” . . . but the right foot overrules: “PEDAL TO THE METAL!” Who knew your foot could talk?! (Of course, that of Your Humble Correspondent is usually in his mouth.)
You have been warned: At 65, this enterprise is merely getting started.
This will be the Mother of All Jolts. You may need two weekends for complete consumption. Enjoy!
The extra innings are wincing: Election-Fraud Allegations Are a Disgraceful Endgame.
General Flynn deserved it: A Justified Pardon.
Viva The Federalist: The NRLB’s Humorless Insensibility.
Happy birthday: Here’s to 65 Years of Shattering the Liberal Consensus.
Spilling Forth from the Cornucopia of Conservatism
Michael Brendan Dougherty looks into the elite’s super-sized free-speech rights: The Right to Be Wrong.
Victor Davis Hanson mocks those cheering for a silver medal: Is America to Be First, Second — or What?
Rich Lowry says Joe’s ready to whip up a crisis: Biden’s Immigration Radicalism.
More Lowry: Georgia is on his mind: The Conspiracy Theory That Could Hand Joe Biden the Senate.
Andy McCarthy explains the latest Durham assignment: Russia Probe in Overtime: Unpacking Barr’s Latest Durham Appointment.
More Andy, who reminds us of Obama’s PhD in Alinsky: If You Like Your Cops, You Can Keep Them.
John McCormack studies the down-ballot: Why Republicans Gained House Seats Even While Trump Lost.
Jim Talent says Trump has provided the groundwork: Biden’s Foreign Policy Should Build on Trump’s.
When it comes to the COVID vaccines, Dan McLaughlin says the story fits no liberal narrative: Pfizer, Moderna, and COVID: Why Vaccines Succeeded.
Jorge Jraissati previews Maduro’s next sabbath: Venezuela’s Sham Elections.
Isaac Schorr alerts about a new type of attack: Cyberterrorism in the U.S.: Hospital Hacking a Worrisome Sign.
Jimmy Quinn shows the GOP has had it with the ChiComs: Republican Legislative Proposals Push Back against Beijing.
More Jimmy, this time exposing Red China’s Aussie hate: The CCP’s Shameful Anti-Australian Smear Campaign.
Arnold Steinberg remembers a great conservative: Bruce Herschensohn, R.I.P.
Rick Santorum gives the 411 on 230: Help Conservative Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter.
Sarah Schuette makes a peep on behalf of certain literary peeps: Three Cheers for the Quiet Ones.
Brian Allen watches as woke public art soaks up the big bucks: Monumental Misdirection at the Mellon Foundation.
Herewith a Dozen and Then Some Selections from the Wondrous 65th Anniversary Issue
Mark Helprin provides the fiction: Anna, Dressed in White and Blue.
Matthew Continetti reflects on conservatism’s past triumphs and current challenges: A Uniquely American Conservatism.
Richard Brookhiser charges that statue-toppling is also an attack on principles: The Anti-American Iconoclasm of the Statue-Topplers.
Ross Douthat laments about God and Man at America: The Decline of the Christian Consensus.
Terry Teachout’s sees an unbridgeable chasm: Will the United States Disintegrate?
Nicholas Eberstadt provides an analysis of the unseen: Big Government’s Overlooked Americans.
Amity Shlaes makes a Coolidge-channeling call: Free Markets Can Appeal to the Working Class.
Yuval Levin reminds all of an obligation to the future: Recovering the Conservative Case for Entitlement Reform.
Niall Fergusson says we’ll need thermals: Cold War II.
John O’Sullivan takes the EU’s temperature: ‘More Europe’ after Brexit.
Armond White sees the Fifth Estate’s collapse through a 90’s movie: What Up Close and Personal Illuminates about Journalism.
Andrew Roberts reflects on woke-abuse of the narrative: How to Write History.
Joseph Epstein considers the decline of the novel: Our Literary Drought.
Lee Edwards profiles the nascent conservative movement: Before NR: Wandering in the Wilderness.
John J. Miller praises the movement’s chronicler: George H. Nash Finds Our Moment ‘Sobering’.
Neal B. Freeman reminds us of the giants: NR’s Founding Fathers.
Mark Wright briefs all on NR’s current Who’s Who: NR in the Time of ’Rona.
Gregory Collins re-reviews Reflection on the Revolution in France: Bipartisan Burke.
Adam Carrington does the same for William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England: Blackstone’s Commentaries: Particular Law, Universal Truth.
Charlie Cooke takes on Alexander Hamilton’s triumph: The Federalist Papers: Instruction Manual for the Constitution.
Harvey Mansfield closes out the entire shebang with his rave review of Democracy in America: What We Neglect in Tocqueville.
James McCarthy reports on media masochists: Why Do Business Reporters Hate Business and Free Enterprise?
Iain Murray on Joe picking a Christmas color: Biden’s Socialism Will Be Green, Not Red.
Paul Gessing on Captain Basement’s other palette choices: Biden Energy Policies Will Make Blue New Mexico See Red.
Andrew Stuttaford on another way of saying corporatism: The Great Reset: If Only It Were Just a Conspiracy.
Adam Shuster sees the Land of Lincoln circling the drain: Tiers and Fears: Illinois Is Ground Zero for the U.S. Public-Sector Pension Crisis.
Brad Polumbo scores wealthy-fare: Canceling Student Debt and Other Regressive Education Policies.
Lights. Camera. Review!
Armond White is ready for the genuflection follow-up: Bowing Down to Obama.
Kyle Smith digs The Crown: Three Remarkable Ladies: Thatcher, Diana, and Elizabeth.
More Kyle, who finds a new series to be . . . super: The Brilliant, Scabrous Satire of The Boys.
Even more Kyle, who’s roped into another series: Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans.
More Armond: He leaves the gun and takes the cannolis: The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone: Coppola’s Epic More Relevant than Ever.
Before We Get to WJ All Gussied Up, There’s Something that Needs to Be Said: Believe You Me, You Need to Believe in Believe in People
Doncha love it when a book has a trailer, and a website? Fact is, that serves a new tome so much better than the mumbo jumbo of Your Humble Correspondent. Lucky for you, Believe in People, the new book by Charles Koch (there’s plenty more to him than you think you know — find that out here) and Brian Hooks, the CEO of the truly consequential outfit, Stand Together, has both.
Believe in People is, in one sense, born of great frustration, the forces constraining growth and success accentuated and intensified in the madness of 2020. It’s clear that people are looking for . . . a better way. Koch and Hooks contends that massive barriers (including supposed-to-help institutions) are holding people (millions!). Layer that onto crumbling communities, failing education systems, businesses rigging commerce and speech, public policy that stifles opportunity — is it any wonder that America’s two-tiered society is intensifying?
But this book isn’t an exercise in kvetching. Believe in People’s authors make the case for a needed paradigm shift — away from a top-down approach that sees people as problems to be managed, toward bottom-up solutions that empower everyone to realize their potential and foster a more inclusive society. In the book, they share a multitude of inspiring and compelling examples of individuals who have found and fostered empowerment to make their lives, their families, their communities and country, better.
Hey, Charles Koch needs book royalties like a hole in the head — that’s why all the proceeds of Believe in People are going to organizations that will be empowering individuals. Just wanted to make that clear. Now, if you want to get this important new book, and you should, do check out Believe in People website, which will point you in the right direction.
One last thing: If you’re interested in the mission of Stand Together, and examples of how it is helping empower real people, watch this short video.
1. We find the President’s post-election actions to be weak and disturbing. From the editorial:
There are legitimate issues to consider after the 2020 vote about the security of mail-in ballots and the process of counting votes (some jurisdictions, bizarrely, take weeks to complete their initial count), but make no mistake: The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people. The Trump team (and much of the GOP) is working backwards, desperately trying to find something, anything to support the president’s aggrieved feelings, rather than objectively considering the evidence and reacting as warranted.
Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged has withstood the slightest scrutiny. In particular, it’s hard to find much that is remotely true in the president’s Twitter feed these days. It is full of already-debunked claims and crackpot conspiracy theories about Dominion voting systems. Over the weekend, he repeated the charge that 1.8 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were mailed out, yet 2.6 million were ultimately tallied. In a rather elementary error, this compares the number of mail-ballots requested in the primary to the number of ballots counted in the general. A straight apples-to-apples comparison finds that 1.8 million mail-in ballots were requested in the primary and 1.5 million returned, while 3.1 million ballots were requested in the general and 2.6 million returned.
2. The President’s pardoning of General Michael Flynn was quite justified. From the editorial:
Taking all these factors into account, Barr decided to dismiss the case. The Justice Department reasoned that because there was no basis to investigate Flynn, his statements to the agents were not “material,” an essential proof element of a false-statements charge. The Justice Department further believed that Flynn would be acquitted if the case went to trial. These conclusions are not air-tight, but they are reasonable. More significantly, they are conclusions DOJ is entitled to make, and makes every day, because decisions about whether to prosecute, including whether to see a prosecution through to its conclusion, are exclusively for the executive in our system.
Judge Sullivan’s intrusion on prosecutorial discretion has been outrageous. He has exploited a flaw in criminal procedural law that requires “leave of the court” to dismiss a case — a provision that is intended to protect defendants from abuse — in order to continue subjecting the defendant to a prosecution that the only legitimate prosecuting authority wants to cease. Sullivan even invited a Trump-bashing former federal judge to theorize how the court might prosecute Flynn if the Justice Department won’t. And Sullivan has willfully declined to rule on the dismissal motion, calculating that if Trump lost the election, he would have to pardon Flynn or risk that Sullivan’s dilatory strategy would give a Biden Justice Department the opportunity to revive the prosecution.
3. SCOTUS hands Andrew Cuomo and other Nanny Staters a defeat on their church-closing COVID regulating. From the editorial:
This policy was clearly not tailored to minimize damage to religious observance. It doesn’t even allow higher attendance in bigger buildings. As the Court noted, some churches in New York can seat more than 1,000 people while others accommodate far fewer, yet none could host more than 25 people in orange areas and ten people in red.
The Court’s ruling is neither surprising nor alarming. Cuomo’s rules discriminate against religious services and thereby run afoul of the Constitution. And to fix the problem, Cuomo would not need to exempt houses of worship from the law everyone else follows, but merely ensure that churches aren’t relegated to second-class status. One approach may be to classify churches as essential and to assign all essential activities a capacity limit that takes establishment size into account. Another would be to simply let the hard capacity limits go, since houses of worship in orange and red areas are still required to keep to a low proportion of their total capacity (a third and a quarter respectively) — and because the areas at issue in the lawsuit aren’t classified as orange or red anymore anyway.
4. We weigh in on behalf of The Federalist over a political-bureaucratic attack on its First Amendment rights. From the beginning of the editorial:
The text of the National Labor Relations Act does not, so far as we can tell, require the National Labor Relations Board or its personnel to have their sense of humor surgically removed. Nor does it prohibit the NLRB’s judicial proceedings from considering context, common sense, or elementary reality in making decisions. But you could not tell this from its decision upholding an administrative-law judge’s unfair-labor-practices ruling against FDRLST Media, LLC, which operates the conservative website The Federalist.
On June 6, 2019, Twitter was abuzz with the story of a unionized walkout of employees of progressive online conglomerate Vox Media. Many people in conservative media predicted that this would be bad not only for Vox Media’s business interests, but for the journalistic culture of its websites. The accuracy of those predictions can be judged from the defections from Vox Media’s flagship website, Vox.com, this past month, including founders Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias, the latter apparently driven out in part by a rebellion of empowered, woker-than-thou junior staffers. But even if conservative predictions had not come true, they would be fair grounds for public comment by journalists on a matter of public importance, and not to be muzzled by federal regulators.
Not so, says the NRLB. Ben Domenech, the founder and publisher of The Federalist (and thus a peer of Klein at the time, except that he is still employed at the site he founded) tweeted that night, “FYI @fdrlst first one of you tries to unionize I swear I’ll send you back to the salt mine”. For the labor-side lawyers out there: This is what the rest of us call a “joke,” mocking the situation at Vox Media. Yet, it led to a finding of unfair labor practices by the NLRB and a government order to a journalist to delete his tweet. (Because the case is on appeal, the tweet still stands.)
5. Thoughts about a legacy and a mission. From the editorial:
We didn’t win completely. Too much of our founding statement speaks to our day as well as its own. “The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so.” If we were writing that afresh, we would merely need to find a place to stick “woke” and mention journalism and social media, too. The growth of centralized government we decried has slowed but not reversed. Yesterday’s historicism has a faint and tinny echo in the boasts of today’s Left that the future still belongs to it. Our reference to the need for a “responsible dissent from the Liberal orthodoxy” implied a danger that has not disappeared. We have sometimes erred, have sometimes faltered, and still have much to do.
So Much Bounty, Anticipated and Delicious, Spilling Forth from the Cornucopia of Conservatism
1. Michael Brendan Dougherty looks into the elite’s assumption of superior free-speech rights, and an attending mandate to make hell for the “subversive and deviant lives of conservatives, religious people, and non-conformists out in the sticks somewhere.” From the piece:
The idea of “listening to the science” repels many people after experiencing the past several months, since the science in public health seems so unstable. Dr. Fauci once pooh-poohed mask wearing, based on a study. Now he says that we might be wearing masks after the vaccine. The World Health Organization was against travel restrictions, but it turned out this was entirely based on politics, not epidemiology. The most prestigious medical journal in the world published a hoax study on hydroxychloroquine, simply to own Trump.
The feeling that the restrictions are imposed without real conviction, that the science is a mess, and that the whole enterprise is corrupted by political fear of the masses, exacerbates already widespread distrust in the forthcoming vaccines. Anti-vaxxers can point to the many instances of groupthink or seeming contradictions in public attitudes. In the same moment that Governor Andrew Cuomo was warning people about the danger of a vaccine that was developed during the Trump administration, his own government in Albany was soliciting legal advice on making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all New Yorkers, with no religious or health exemptions, because Cuomo aspires to be the first political leader to achieve universal immunity.
It’s easy and frightful to imagine polarization around the vaccine that turns into a Mexican standoff. The vaccine skeptics will be able to point to the low mortality rates of COVID sufferers and improving treatments, as well as especially low transmission rates in schools, to justify their reluctance to take a vaccine that they can justly say is novel, because it uses an mRNA mechanism. Political leaders who invested the most in restrictions will be inclined to require the most for full reopening. Some states and many corporations are effectively debating whether COVID vaccination becomes a kind of “passport” back to possessing full civil rights and participation in civil society.
2. Victor Davis Hanson mocks those cheering for a silver medal, and gives a detailed look at the various foreign-policy accomplishments of the Trump administration, often achieved over the efforts of obstructing bureaucrats. From the essay:
The administration’s formal “National Security Strategy” assessment in 2017 at last addressed the reality that millions in the vast interior of America, left out of globalist affluence, had lost confidence in U.S. foreign policy. They were resigned to the likelihood that our elite diplomats would never reflect their own concerns rather than those of a host of prosperous allies, opportunistic neutrals, and emboldened enemies.
Nor has the U.S. simply snubbed blameless international organizations. The World Health Organization has over the years done the world a great deal of good. But its elite echelon became corrupt and felt more obliged to lie on behalf of its moderate contributor, Communist China, than to be truthful to its major democratic benefactor, America.
Reconcile what the WHO initially said about travel bans and COVID-19’s origins and transmissibility with what it knew to be true at the time. The verdict is that thousands of innocents died, believing the WHO’s Chinese propaganda, disguised as one-world ecumenicalism.
The U.S. met far more of the Paris Climate Accord benchmarks after leaving the deal than its sanctimonious signees did by remaining in it. The World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund were all based on the premise that the United States of 2017 and the world in general were calcified along 1945 lines, requiring an endlessly wealthy America to undertake burdens for the broke and endangered. The watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency more or less calibrated its monitoring of Iranian proliferation to synch with current American and European appeasement.
Seventy years after all these agreements began emerging, the United States is nearly $27 trillion in debt and can no longer subsidize others who are either rich or at least not poor. As for the United Nations, the U.S. still doubles the contributions of the Chinese, nearly triples those of the Japanese, and almost quadruples the German contributions, though all these nations currently run huge trades surpluses with America. All these transnational organizations, to be justified and useful, need radical reform.
3. We’ll be doing an Immigration 180 with Biden in charge, writes Rich Lowry. From the piece:
Trump’s signature failure on immigration was missing the opportunity, when Republicans controlled both chambers, to pass significant legislation reflecting his priorities through Congress. But, as Steven Camarota of the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies notes, the net growth of the immigration population still declined markedly.
Despite all of Trump’s incendiary rhetoric on this issue, the upshot of his approach was entirely reasonable — levels of immigration shouldn’t inexorably increase, and immigration policy should be subject to a rigorous test of national interest.
Biden represents a return to the old status-quo assumption that more immigration is, ipso facto, a good thing. At the same time, he leads a party that is more zealous on the issue than ever before.
Democrats aren’t much interested in immigration controls, and it’s entirely possible that, soon enough at the border, it will again be uncontrolled.
4. This may prove to be Georgia’s payback for Sherman, because, as Rich Lowry makes clear, the Wood/Powell tag team may hand the U.S. Senate to Chuck Schumer. From the column:
That’s the kind of conspiratorial reasoning that the Wood-Powell duo, with their deep commitment to wild and unfalsifiable charges, might apply to themselves.
The two Trump-allied lawyers have made themselves into wrecking balls against the Republican Party of Georgia, whose top elected officials, they allege, are involved in the most dastardly and far-reaching conspiracy in American history.
This might be only a bizarre footnote to the 2020 election, if their charges weren’t being amplified by the president of the United States and didn’t come at a time when the Georgia GOP needs all of its voters to turn out in the two January runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate.
5. Andy McCarthy explains John’s Durham new special-prosecutor assignment. From the article:
That is, Durham has conducted the probe in a manner consistent with his longstanding reputation for non-partisan scrupulousness and diligent investigating. And he has done it under Barr’s guidance, which the AG has publicly repeated a number of times, that the investigation is not to be influenced by political considerations and that charges should only be brought if there is compelling evidence of “meat-and-potatoes” crimes — no extravagant, creative theories of the kind invoked by overly aggressive prosecutors to notch big-name indictments.
Durham’s background and the manner in which he has conducted the probe should persuade the incoming Biden Justice Department that it is fortunate to have Durham at the helm of this investigation — just as the Obama, Bush-43, and Clinton Justice Departments were fortunate to have him leading sensitive investigations during their tenures.
Durham should be retained on merit. He has put nearly two years into the investigation. He has done nothing to suggest that the investigation is politicized. And it would rightly be perceived as the height of politicization if a Biden Justice Department were to close the case summarily without allowing Durham to see it through to conclusion.
If the new administration allows Durham to complete the investigation, it can be confident that the result will have integrity. Plus, Durham would be reporting to the attorney general Biden has appointed.
6. More Andy, who checks out Obama’s schooling of The Squad, and reminds us that Barry himself has a doctorate in the ways of Saul Alinsky. From the piece:
As our Brittany Bernstein reports, here, Obama got the Squad’s hackles up by stating:
If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased, and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like “Defund the Police,” but you know you’ve lost a big audience the minute you say it. Which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.
This is the classic Alinskyite critique of undisciplined radicals who set back The Cause by using unhinged language in the service of what Saul Alinksy himself described as “pointless, sure-loser confrontations.” As he elaborated in Rules for Radicals, to bring about the change the Left seeks requires the hard work of appealing to the people you want to bring around by coopting their language, appealing to their experience, and exhibiting respect rather than contempt for their values – even if you are actually contemptuous of them. “A mess of rhetorical garbage about ‘Burn the system down’” is only going to drive people to the political right.
Obama’s success has been to understand this — to absorb the lesson Van Jones succinctly states as: “I am willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.” Like the Squad, Obama wants radical law-enforcement reform. But he knows “Defund the Police” turns people off. The Squad members may be heroes in their fishbowls, but they will never be broadly viable that way.
7. John McCormack studies the down-ballot outcomes, looks at election history, and sees little that is surprising. From the analysis:
For the last three presidential elections, House GOP candidates have performed better against their Democratic opponents than the Republican presidential candidate performed against his Democratic opponent. In 2012, Romney lost the national popular vote by 3.9 points, and GOP candidates lost the House national popular vote by 1.2 points (and held onto 233 seats). In 2016, Trump lost the national popular vote by 2.1 points, and Republicans won the national popular House vote by 1.1 points (and held 241 seats). In 2020, votes are still being counted in New York and California, but President Trump trails Joe Biden by four points the popular vote and House GOP candidates trail House Democratic candidates by 2.5 points nationwide. Republicans will end up with somewhere between 210 and 213 House seats — not far from the 218 needed for a majority.
It’s not all surprising, then, that Republicans gained back some seats in 2020 after the 2018 blowout in which Republicans lost the House national popular vote by 8.4 points and were relegated to the minority with just 199 seats.
So, the 2020 results down-ballot in Senate and House races are entirely consistent with a presidential election that Trump — despite trailing Biden by more than four points in the popular vote — almost won in the Electoral College. Trump’s loss in the Electoral College came down to some 44,000 individual votes spread across Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. In other words, Biden’s victory was even more narrow in 2020 than Trump’s victory was in 2016, when 78,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan put Trump over the top in the Electoral College.
8. Donald Trump has improved America’s interests greatly, says Jim Talent, in regards to China, the Middle East, and our military. A Biden Administration needs to build on that. From the piece.
For almost four decades, the United States facilitated the rise of China, without considering the downside consequences of allowing the Chinese Communist Party to embed its methods and objectives in the global economy and the international system. Our government not only opened the door to the henhouse; it actively empowered the fox who was waiting outside.
As a result, the United States is now confronted by a rising hegemon conducting a comprehensive campaign to steal the world’s wealth, dominate crucial sectors of technology, disrupt the established democracies, corrupt and control much of third-world governments, subvert international institutions, and assert sovereign control over important parts of the global commons.
The Trump administration responded by making great-power competition its strategic priority, energizing the tools of national power, and beginning to build a national-security apparatus that could manage and eventually win the contest with China.
As a matter of vital national interest, the Biden administration simply must sustain that strategy. It can and will adjust tactics and messaging, but the broad strategic direction and energy level must stay the same.
9. The story about Operation Warp Speed’s successes doesn’t need liberal warping, writes Dan McLaughlin. From the beginning of the piece:
Assuming that the COVID-19 vaccines work, their development will be the biggest, most high-profile public-health success story since the polio vaccine in the 1950s. A weary world has waited many trying months for this. Yet in the media’s coverage, there are a lot of mixed messages about how this happened — because the story is not one that fits comfortably with liberal narratives. Consider the big, splashy New York Times story by six reporters (Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Thomas, Noah Weiland, David Gelles, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Denise Grady) on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and the Stat story by Damian Garde and Jonathan Saltzman on the technology behind them. When you dig into the details, the heroes are largely (1) big American pharmaceutical corporations, (2) the Trump administration, and (3) the U.S. military. The lessons to be drawn support the conservative view of government, business, and their proper roles and relationships.
The tension is obvious early in the Times story, when it announces its intended theme: “In an era of polarized politics, science was able to break down barriers between government, countries and industry to produce one of the few pieces of good news in a year of suffering and division.” This is not supported by the facts. “Science” did not produce a vaccine, in the sense of a Jonas Salk figure having a “eureka!” moment in a laboratory some time in 2020. The Times does not bother introducing us to any of the individual researchers who actually developed the vaccine. Nor does it illustrate the breaking of barriers between countries, except by big business. The facts are more stubborn.
In fact, as the Stat story illustrates, the core concept of making messenger RNA (or mRNA) synthetically and using it to produce vaccines has been kicking around for three decades, and the crucial breakthrough came in 2005. While there were still some daunting scientific hurdles to overcome, the broader problem facing synthetic mRNA was its risky, experimental nature; only a change in the economics and available resources would make it economically viable to invest in scaling up a major trial of an mRNA-based vaccine to see if it would work.
10. Sunday the polls will be open in Maduro’s Venezuela. Jorge Jraissati says the only thing that will happen there is a sham. From the piece:
As a result, the vast majority of Venezuelans will not vote this Sunday. And how could they? The Maduro regime has 1) banned most opposition candidates from running, 2) imprisoned prominent opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez, 3) coerced and intimidated citizens into voting for the socialist party, 4) engaged in verifiable manipulation of vote tallies, 5) organized the process through an election authority controlled by members of Maduro’s party, 6) murdered protesters who exercised their right to assemble peaceably, and 7) disallowed international organizations from observing the vote — among other violations of the political rights of Venezuelans.
For these reasons, what is taking place this Sunday in Venezuela is nothing more than a fraud of the worst kind. Venezuela will not have a free and fair election, but rather a fraudulent process intended to politically crush the interim government of Juan Guaido, especially at the international level. By renewing the parliament, the Maduro regime will try to put in question the legitimacy of Juan Guaido, who became interim president precisely because of his position as president of the national assembly. Specifically, the legal basis for the Guaido presidency lies in articles 230, 231, and 233 of the Venezuelan constitution, which state that after Maduro refused to hold free and fair elections in 2018, the president of the national assembly had to temporarily assume the presidency until fair presidential elections were held.
11. Isaac Schorr alerts about a new type of cyber attack against vulnerable Americans: the sick. If it’s happening in Vermont, you can expect it in your neighborhood too. From the article:
The attack on the UV Health Center is not the first act of cyber terror on U.S. health-care infrastructure. The Russian group believed to be responsible for the Burlington attack has, per the FBI, made somewhere around $61 million in ransoms over a 21-month period in 2018 and 2019. In early October, eResearchTechnology, a Philadelphia firm that sells software used in clinical trials — including for certain coronavirus vaccines — was locked out of its data by ransomware — a kind of malware that remains in place until the hackers who have sicced it on you are paid. Hospitals in California, Oregon, Montana, Tennessee, and upstate New York have been similarly afflicted by hackers, who have even gone so far as to release patient data — Social Security numbers, dates of birth, ages, hiring dates, and contact details — on the dark web.
To focus on Barry and Perlroth’s account of what’s happening in Vermont is not to downplay these other cases. But the Vermont case is especially affecting, and helps clarify what these hacks are: not nuisances, not crimes, but acts of terror committed on American soil, targeting our most vulnerable populations.
Cancer patients have been the chief victims of the events in Burlington. Hundreds have been turned away from the hospital as the loss of the electronic medical record set the department back “months and months and months,” according to one nurse. Staff have worked feverishly to triage their patients and reconstruct patient histories and treatment protocols from memory without any of the medical systems that they’re used to leaning on. Even with their prodigious efforts, the Center has been able to operate at only 25 percent of its typical capacity. The three-quarters of patients seeking care at Burlington who have been turned away have been forced to find it elsewhere, with some making a three-and-a-half-hour trek to Boston.
12. Jimmy Quinn reports Congressional Republicans are levelling a legislative broadside aimed at Beijing. From the article:
“Republicans must stay united to keep up the same level of pressure on China as we had under Trump the last four years, and these pieces of legislation proposed first by the Republican Study Committee are part of our plan to do that,” said Representative Jim Banks, who will lead the group next year.
The proposals, which span everything from China’s IP theft to prohibiting the use of U.S. funds to purchase goods made by Chinese-military-linked enterprises, are the direct outgrowth of a June 2020 RSC report that called for numerous legislative changes to compete with China. And they complement the work of the House GOP’s China Task Force.
Among the most notable of the RSC proposals is a bill introduced by Representative Steve Chabot that creates an entire category of sanctions to deter the theft of intellectual property by Chinese firms.
Combating IP theft has been a hallmark of the Trump administration’s work on national security. In 2018, the Justice Department established its China Initiative, a program focused on investigating and prosecuting the theft of trade secrets by individuals spying for the Chinese government. During a speech at the Hudson Institute this year, FBI director Chris Wray revealed that his agency opens “a China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours.”
13. More Jimmy, this time exposing Red China’s aggressive efforts against Australia. From the analysis:
The Chinese Communist Party is bringing its enormous pressure to bear on Australia in a bullying campaign that encompasses a trade war and a smear campaign.
Australia has been a reliable U.S. partner in pushing back against the CCP’s malign activities in a range of areas, and it was one of the first countries to have a national awakening to Chinese political interference in its democratic processes. What’s really caused Beijing to pitch a fit, though, is the Australian government’s calls for a truly independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID pandemic and its growing military cooperation with other Indo-Pacific countries.
Australia is on the front lines of the global battle to protect the free world from Chinese authoritarianism, and it could use some help.
Last week, Beijing followed through on its threat to slap tariffs onto Australian products, imposing duties of 107–212 percent on various wines from the country. The move stands likely to cripple small wineries.
14. Arnold Steinberg remembers Bruce Herschensohn, who died this week at the age of 88. From the obituary:
When Bruce Herschensohn, who died Monday at the age of 88, ran for the Senate in California in 1992, he was supposed to debate his opponent, Representative Barbara Boxer, before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The intellectually limited Boxer knew she was no match for Bruce, who despite never having attended college was a walking encyclopedia; at the last minute she insisted that there be no debate, just prepared statements. Bruce, always direct, if not confrontational, then shocked the crowd by castigating AIPAC for giving in to Boxer’s demands. Both candidates were Jewish, but the trendy Boxer was a lukewarm supporter of Israel and a leftist far removed from traditional Judaism. Bruce, a solid supporter of Israel, while not that religious, deeply respected people of faith and tradition, and he refused to campaign on the Jewish High Holidays.
Looking at a rough cut of his campaign commercial attacking Boxer on the issues, Bruce insisted it be redone because the photo of Boxer was unflattering to her. He was a true mensch, so much so that he would probably edit that first paragraph, eliminating the reference to Boxer’s diminutive IQ. Ever a gentleman, Bruce focused always on issues, never on anything that could even be considered a personal attack. Sadly, his political adversaries did not return the favor.
15. The frequently villainized “Section 230” of the Communications Decency Act may actually be a friend to conservatives, argues Rick Santorum. From the article:
These new, conservative-friendly platforms now face an existential threat from a bipartisan group of D.C. lawmakers that could derail these new services as soon as they leave the station. For completely different reasons, these congressmen and senators want to eliminate the one law that’s essential for Parler, Rumble, and future alternative sites to host user content: Section 230.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the foundation for all social-media sites and e-commerce marketplaces we use every day. Congress enacted Section 230 in 1996, reacting to a ridiculous court ruling holding online bulletin board Prodigy liable for user posts slamming Stratton Oakmont — the pump-and-dump stock brokers portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street. This law says that a platform’s users — not the platforms themselves — are responsible for the content they post. And it protects a platform from being sued for removing content that the platform deems objectionable to its audience and advertisers.
Without Section 230, Yelp could be sued for negative restaurant reviews. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube — along with Parler and Rumble — could be sued for defamatory content posted by users. Like Twitter and YouTube, Parler and Rumble will need to moderate user content in order to attract advertisers. But without Section 230, they too could be sued for removing or restricting content.
16. They may run silent, but they do run deep: Sarah Schutte cheers some of literature’s less chatty heroines. From the commentary:
Bashful and retiring, Beth March of Little Women struggles with poor health, fears boys, and is too shy to attend school. Her tidy soul is drawn to housework, her piano, and taking care of her dolls. Her old sisters live more boldly: Jo must fight Apollyon, and Meg goes to Vanity Fair. Beth’s battles are fought without fanfare, and her strengths are revealed in her kindness and thoughtfulness toward those around her.
Despite her fear of men, her consideration for the needs of others leads her to talk with and amuse a young boy during a picnic hosted by Laurie for his British friends and the March girls. The boy is on crutches and can’t join in the antics, and Beth rises above her fear to reach out to him. When Marmee goes to care for Mr. March in Washington, D.C., Beth is the only sister who visits the Hummels, a wretchedly poor immigrant family in need of help.
Some readers might consider these deeds and her pastimes bland and uninspiring, but among the four March sisters, Beth is the rock of stability and good sense. She is an anchor for flighty, passionate Jo in her storms of emotion, a teacher to Amy, and a supporter of Meg, which makes all the difference to her sisters. Her circle of influence is small, but she performs each little task with love and treats those around her with unmistakable care.
17. The Mellon Foundation has committed to spending oodles of millions on woke monumentary. Brian Allen describes a travesty. From the piece:
The Mellon Foundation thinks we need new and improved monuments. Lost in the COVID catastrophe is last month’s big news that the Mellon Foundation has committed $250 million over five years to pay for new monuments or historic storytelling spaces, freshen existing ones with context relevant to today, and remove monuments no one wants because they are bad art or they no longer edify.
That’s a huge amount of money and the primary commitment of the country’s biggest arts and humanities foundation. It’s to be taken seriously and followed closely. This is the foundation’s first step in implementing a strategic shift announced in June. For years, it supported blue-chip arts-and-humanities projects. Now, it’s in the social-justice business. It’s focusing its money on “building just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking where ideas and imagination can thrive.”
From the 65th Anniversary Issue, a Dozen Articles Excerpt-ificated for Your Pleasure
1. Matthew Continetti checks out the NR 5th Anniversary and reflects on conservatism’s past triumphs and current challenges: From the piece:
Liberalism was dominant. “What is not fashionable,” Buckley said, “are some of those certitudes and intuitions that most of us here in this room aim to serve.” These “certitudes and intuitions” included religious faith, a commitment to individual freedom, and the knowledge that “the Communist experiment, the worst abuse of freedom in history, is a violent mutation on truth, a horrible caricature on justice.” Buckley pointed to the careers of Hoover, MacArthur, and Strauss (and might have mentioned his own reputation) as proof that the defense of “forgotten virtues” was unpopular among intellectual elites.
Conservatives, Buckley went on, drew satisfaction from resisting the pull of the crowd. “And I expect,” he concluded, “that they and all of you, my good and generous and devoted friends, must be happy, as I am, to know that for so long as it is mechanically possible, you have a journal, a continuing witness to those truths which animated the birth of our country, and continue to animate our lives.”
Six decades later, Buckley’s journal maintains its witness. But the conservative movement that he helped to build has fractured. It no longer coheres. Presidential politics divided its ranks. National populism challenged its principles and institutions. And multiculturalism and identity politics toxified the culture it inhabits. Critics from both the right and the left say that conservatism is outmoded, a failure, a dead end. What, they ask, has conservatism conserved?
2. Richard Brookhiser charges that statue-toppling is about much more. It’s also an attack on principles. From the piece:
I live in Manhattan, which has a rich selection of public statues. A few are true works of art. Augustus St. Gaudens, America’s greatest sculptor, made two masterpieces, of General Sherman marching through Georgia and of Admiral Farragut damning the torpedoes. Neil Estern’s Fiorello LaGuardia is a worthy modern addition, striding, clapping, shouting, capturing LaGuardia’s loud-mouthed ebullience. Some statues are so ugly they offend the eye. Samuel S. Cox, known as the letter-carrier’s friend because he pushed for higher pay and shorter hours during his years in Congress, stands in Tompkins Square Park, raising a right arm as stiffly as the flag on a mailbox.
Many of New York’s statues have little or nothing to do with New Yorkers. They exist to make us think about the unfamiliar. On Central Park South, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, each mounted, face each other on opposite sides of a road heading into the park. They direct our thoughts to our neighbors to the south. In the park itself stands a statue of a dog — Balto, the lead sled dog who brought an anti-diphtheria serum from Anchorage to Nome in the teeth of a blizzard in 1925. Balto toured the country after his exploit and was present in New York at the dedication of his statue; he spent the remainder of his life in Cleveland, where he is now, stuffed. But we can still contemplate his image here. Gandhi never came to New York, but he scrambles along in the Union Square farmers’ market in his dhoti; in winter one imagines that he must be cold.
If the models for such artifacts are problematic, their problems are not our problems. It is when we come to statues of our own past that difficulties arise. Half a block from my apartment building stands one of Manhattan’s better statues, of Peter Stuyvesant, the last director general of New Netherland — what New York was before England took it. The bottom of Stuyvesant’s right leg is a peg; flesh and bone were crushed by an enemy cannonball during one of Holland’s imperial wars. He looks aggressive, intelligent, and alert — to tasks that need doing, and to critics, who need doing in.
3. Ross Douthat laments about the decline of America’s once “Christian consensus.” From the article:
Meanwhile, what vitality remained in the remnants of the Christian or Judeo-Christian consensus was in groups that had been on its fringes, partially integrated after spending many years as the subject of mainline Protestant persecution or disdain: conservative Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Conservative and Orthodox Jews, Mormons, and even Anabaptists.
So one way to see the culture wars that followed is as an attempt by people on the edges of the previous consensus to construct a new one in its rubble — Catholic-Evangelical-Jew instead of Protestant-Catholic-Jew; right-leaning instead of centrist or liberal, but capacious enough and appealing enough to displace cultural liberalism, either by building a counter-establishment or by retaking the great institutions of American culture from within.
This project succeeded in preserving conservative forms of religion: American faith, even after so many waves of secularization, still retains large numbers and a zealous core. But as a project of expansion and reconquest, it conspicuously failed. After an arguable high tide in the years of John Paul II Catholicism and George W. Bush’s Evangelical presidency, the project’s more ambitious goals collapsed, its beachheads in elite culture weakened, its own institutions fell into scandal or theological civil war, and the country moved in a more overtly post-Christian direction overall.
Meanwhile, out of the complex currents of cultural liberalism, a more intense form of anti-traditionalism has recently emerged — itself a sort of successor to the lost Protestant establishment, with the Christian doctrine shorn away but with a renewed moral zeal, an extremely detailed blueprint for social and political relations, and a revival of the old establishment’s hostility to more-disreputable (meaning Catholic and Evangelical and even Jewish) forms of faith.
4. Nicholas Eberstadt sees the unseen, and who’s not seeing them. From the beginning of the analysis:
Despite the information revolution, the Big Data explosion, and the advent of all-but-universal connectivity, American social policy is dogged by a huge knowledge gap. For years — sometimes decades — on end, acute social and economic troubles afflicting tens of millions of vulnerable Americans somehow manage to keep on hiding in plain sight. Consequently, America is subject to unexpected yet recurrent failures of the evidence-based policy-making upon which our modern welfare state prides itself. This troubling situation has far-reaching implications for the well-being of our countrymen and the health of our democracy — none of them positive.
Consider the saga of “deaths of despair” in modern America. In the late 1990s, America’s white working class was suddenly seized by a terrible health crisis. Among non-Hispanic white men and women of working age with no more than a high-school education, death rates commenced a gruesome rise. Between 1999 and 2015, mortality rates for these less educated Anglos jumped in every age group between 25 and 64 — and the spikes were practically Soviet in magnitude and nature. For men and women in their late fifties, death rates ratcheted up by 22 percent; they leapt by almost 90 percent for those in their early thirties. Across all these age groups, increased death rates from drug overdoses (“poisonings”), cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide contributed substantially to the carnage.
Working-class whites may constitute a minority of all Americans, but they are by no means a small population. In 2015, over 34 million Anglos between the ages of 25 and 64 had no more than twelve years of schooling. By itself, this contingent accounted for nearly one in nine Americans overall and more than one in five Americans in these working ages. And since these same men and women for the most part lived in families, a great many more Americans were part of a home that included these at-risk individuals — including the many millions of children to whom they were mothers, fathers, and providers.
5. Amity Shlaes looks to Silent Cal for economic and cultural wisdom. From the piece:
As a new president, Coolidge had the chance to retool his party, introduce compassion, disavow magnates as robber barons, aid farmers, and woo back some Progressives. In the race for economic primacy, America had moved ahead of Britain, but sustaining first place was anything but sure. In Britain, politicians were opting for what today’s politicians would call social-democratic moves: London’s compassion included the then-new dole, an unemployment payment. Perhaps American Republicans, too, should opt for markets with a human face. That was the bet of Republican comers such as Herbert Hoover. Hoover, a technocratic consultant, a sort of pre-Romney, publicly ridiculed proponents of pure laissez-faire philosophy.
The other choice for the man moving into the White House was to push the old, frosty, abstract Republican program: austerity cuts, spending vetoes, tax cuts for high earners, and support of freer markets. The party could then explain — a tough challenge — that the results would trickle down to the lower earner. Having observed the absurdities of Prohibition enforcement in real time, Coolidge had no intention of writing further “pro-family” laws. The better policy for firming up American primacy, Coolidge wagered, was to opt for old and cold. Coolidge was therefore also wagering that even blue-collar workers would understand.
The accidental president started his work by pushing a policy Republicans wouldn’t dare to articulate today: austerity. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy.” The farm lobby expected that Vermont-born Coolidge would accept the McNary-Haugen bill, a bipartisan agricultural-subsidy measure voted through by both houses. But Coolidge vetoed McNary-Haugen twice, along with dozens of other “compassionate” laws.
6. Yuval Levin reminds America that it’s overspending today violates an obligation to the future. From the piece:
Ironically, the willful blindness of the Trump era might offer us an opportunity for such rethinking. Entitlement reform has been a rare ground of bipartisan agreement in the past four years: Both parties have agreed to forget about it. That means the underlying fiscal problems have grown worse during this period. But it also gives us a chance to approach the question of the national government’s finances afresh. Doing so might point us toward three general premises.
First, the costs of fiscal irresponsibility have more to do with constraints on future growth and spending than with the risk of catastrophic crisis. Growing debt makes claims on the government’s finances in the years to come, and so burdens future taxpayers while limiting the options of future legislators. The problem, in other words, is that debt and interest payments will dramatically constrain the government’s capacity for discretionary spending — on defense, on welfare, on research, on emergency response — and will also constrain our economy’s capacity for prosperity.
There is always some chance that our borrowing could destabilize the government’s fiscal foundations, too, undermining its ability to finance further debt and so setting up a dangerous crisis. But the past ten years have suggested that the hunger for our debt in global markets runs deep, and that our capacity to borrow may not be much constrained by the risk of scaring off investors. That lesson should not be overlearned: There is presumably a limit to our borrowing capacity. But the lesson should not be ignored, either. We do have room to borrow, if that is our choice. This is good news, but it also means that if we are to avoid needlessly impoverishing our future selves, we will need to summon the will for restraint.
7. This ain’t your father’s Cold War: Niall Fergusson’s looks at Red China and gets a chill. From the essay:
What are the differences between the two cold wars? Obviously, China is the principal antagonist that the United States faces, not the Soviet Union, which was essentially the Russian Empire under Communist management. There is a much higher level of economic interdependence between the U.S. and the PRC than was ever the case between the U.S. and the USSR: There was never “Amerussia,” the way there was Chimerica. China is a bigger economic challenger than the Soviet Union ever was: There was never any talk of the ruble’s displacing the dollar. There is much more cultural interchange today than in Cold War I: There are between 350,000 and 400,000 Chinese students in America and 2.3 million Chinese immigrants (half of them naturalized). Leading members of the Chinese elite have been educated in the U.S. Technology has changed so that it is harder for each side to conceal military activity from the other, and also much easier for China to access U.S. private- and public-sector data. China does not actively promote socialist revolution around the world. China does not control a significant number of neighboring states. I do not expect nuclear brinkmanship. I do not expect proxy wars.
What, on the other hand, do the two cold wars have in common? Much more. As in the early years of the First Cold War, the U.S. and its allies are up against China, Russia, and North Korea. Like the Soviet Union, China is engaged in systemic technological catch-up, employing espionage to acquire Western technology. This is like the U.S.–Soviet arms race, in that it is taking place in multiple fields. In Cold War I, the competition was in nuclear weapons and space (including satellites), but also in information warfare and biological and chemical weapons. Today, China is seeking parity not just in software and hardware but also in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and even vaccines. China is investing $1.4 trillion over the next five years in AI, 5G, and semiconductors. It is already ahead of the United States when it comes to electronic payments and central-bank digital currency.
8. With Brexit a consequential reality, John O’Sullivan takes the EU’s temperature. From the beginning of the analysis:
The European Parliament has responded to the more flexible politics of the post-Brexit EU by developing a more muscular determination to shape them. Its governing coalition leans left but also includes the conservative European People’s Party, which itself includes the Hungarian Fidesz Party, which is also Merkel’s ally. Europe’s Left regards Poland and Hungary as antidemocratic authoritarians all the more reprehensible because they keep winning elections. It was outraged that Merkel had protected both countries by placing the rule-of-law provision in the financial package inside a “locked box” to be opened only in case of dire emergency — and further angered that Hungary in particular had emerged with one of the largest increases in EU funds. (I suppose that since the Danube Institute, where I work, receives government funding, I am myself an indirect beneficiary of the EU funds, but they don’t seem to have made my analysis particularly favorable.)
This complex political situation has produced a series of diplomatic exchanges between Budapest, Warsaw, Berlin, and Brussels, as Germany has sought to protect the recovery package from the grumbling political crisis over the rule-of-law provisions. The government of either Poland or Hungary could in principle use its veto to protect the other against penalties, so, to forestall that, some of their European critics have proposed the “nuclear” solution: create new treaties that exclude both countries and bring forward the financial package under that heading. That would create a much larger crisis than the one this tactic purports to solve, however. Besides, there are hints from Germany that Hungary should be able to pass the rule-of-law test readily, since it’s been whittled down from the Left’s original list to excessive government influence over the selection of judges. If so, it’s Poland that might be in trouble. But Viktor Orbán has already told the Poles that Hungary would veto any sanctions against them, so that would seem to foreclose that outcome.
9. John J. Miller picks the brain of the movement’s chronicler, the terrific George Nash. From the article:
By this time, a younger generation of conservatives had come to see Nash as one of their movement’s wise men, the author of a contemporary classic that sat on bookshelves beside the likes of Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard Weaver, and Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. ISI Books issued a new edition of Nash’s old tome, with an epilogue that assessed the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It arrived at a time when academic interest in the history of conservatism was rising, thanks in part to Alan Brinkley of Columbia University, who had called upon his colleagues and their students to correct the error of having overlooked a big development in American politics. Nash appreciates it when conservatives compliment him on his work, but he says he takes special satisfaction from liberal historians who praise his fair-mindedness.
What he hears today, he says, is bitterness — not directed at him, but in American politics generally, and among conservatives, too. “There always have been moments of ferment, especially in the 1960s and after the Cold War,” he says. “Yet I’ve never seen so much dissension. Conservatives have had sharp disagreements and they could get personal, but now there’s name-calling and a willingness to engage in personally abrasive politics.” Nash worries that by focusing on their feuds, conservatives ignore the sources of their unity. “Conservatives need allies,” he says. “We’re not the majority. Ronald Reagan taught us that successful politics is about addition, not subtraction.”
As a historian, Nash is more comfortable discussing the past than the future. He also knows that past is prologue, and that studying history is a key to understanding what may come next. Conservatives, he says, should expect a reckoning with the legacy of President Trump, leading to their movement’s reconfiguration: “We may see an attempt to refurbish conservatism with Trumpian elements — a kind of Trumpism without Trump.” This could take a variety of forms. “The movement may become less libertarian as it tries to appeal to Trump voters,” he says, with implications for free trade and immigration as well as policies that affect working-class Americans. “The language of order may become stronger.”
10. Neal B. Freeman was there. He reminds us of the giants who founded NR. From the piece:
Toward the end of NR’s shakedown cruise, the last of the volcanic, first-generation personalities departed. Frank Meyer was not banished, I hasten to note, but, rather, was removed from office following bureaucratic defeat at the hand of James Burnham. (There was no disgrace in that. Everybody lost bureaucratic battles with Burnham.) Meyer retreated to a hilltop redoubt in Woodstock, N.Y., and, by remote control, performed three essential tasks for WFB’s young enterprise. For the magazine, Frank edited a fine back-of-the-book section, showcasing two of the country’s four or five best literary critics — Hugh Kenner and Guy Davenport. (In these days of mulled wine and depleted home libraries, you might want to luxuriate in the correspondence between Kenner and Davenport, two of the most delightfully literate men in the English-speaking world. There’s a good two-volume collection out there.)
For the movement, Frank wired together a national network of rightish academics. He became the de facto human-resources director for what M. Stanton Evans used to call the half-vast right-wing conspiracy. If you were a pro-market economist a few years this side of tenure, say, and if the thought police were closing in on you, your first call would be to Frank Meyer. He would make things right, or exhaust himself (and everybody else involved) trying.
Frank’s third contribution was seminal. And epochal. He pulled Kendall and Brent Bozell into a marathon dialogue and hammered out the loose-jointed and more or less coherent fusionist philosophy that came to be known as Buckley-style conservatism. WFB would be and, now that I think of it, was in fact the first to concede that Frank had been the principal blacksmith. WFB liked to add that he wasn’t bright enough himself to have served in the Meyer role. Uh, no. WFB wasn’t patient enough. He always had places to go and people to see.
11. Charlie Cooke takes a constitutional and returns to The Federalist Papers. From the review:
Much hay has been made of the fact that the charter that Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were hawking was devised in secret by a small, self-selected group of men who had not in any meaningful sense been recruited to redraft the republic. From time to time, one even sees the process described as a “coup.” And yet the mere existence of The Federalist Papers remind us how flippant a characterization this is. As the authors make clear from the outset, ratification of the new constitution was by no means a given. The task of the project, Hamilton explains in Federalist No. 1, was “to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.” Those objections were real, taking their most potent form in a series of eloquent counter-arguments — known today as the Anti–Federalist Papers — that would prove convincing enough to the public to guarantee that ratification would be conditioned on the adoption of the Bill of Rights, which neither Hamilton nor Madison considered necessary, given that it seemed to contradict the enumerated-powers doctrine. The question before the people, Hamilton proposed while introducing the effort, was whether Americans would enjoy a form of “good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.” And, as he was at pains to confirm, the only “force” available to him and his colleagues flowed directly from the nibs of their pens. The charter for which the trio was proselytizing may indeed have been written by a cabal. But its adoption would be debated by everyone.
12. Harvey Mansfield offer a rave review of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America: From the piece:
As against democratic materialism, Tocqueville fashions a democracy of soul. He retains this feature of Christianity and classical philosophy — one might also say of common sense — representing an individual’s awareness of being free. Today one hears of people who claim to be woke, by which they do not mean the state of having discovered one’s material interest.
“Self-interest well understood” is Tocqueville’s well-known formula for what Americans believe is their typical motivation. He is not happy with that, and he suggests that they would do better to take pride in their virtue and in the souls that form it. Self-interest can lead one to submit to the despotism of majority opinion, always a danger in democracy, but virtue reinforced by pride will bring one to stand up for one’s freedom. Self-interest shows the easy way out; virtue offers the thrill of taking a risk and the satisfaction of having nobly won or lost. Democracy is made noble and great with the aristocratic notion of soul.
BONUS: Your Humble Correspondent tells again the wonderful story of Jim Buckley’s historic 1970 U.S. Senate win. From the article:
The logic and circumstances were there: The Democrats were sure to nominate someone as liberal as Goodell — they did, in Representative Richard Ottinger. A credible Conservative could prevail in a three-way battle against two liberals.
Conservative Party bosses corralled Clif White, the exceptional political strategist who had quarterbacked Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential-primary success, to run a possible Buckley-for-Senate campaign. But before that could happen, Jim would need evidence that victory was not just possible but probable. Days before the party’s nominating convention, Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, writing in their influential column, broke the electrifying news: A statewide poll “shows Buckley getting an amazing 25 percent of the vote next November, almost enough to win in a three-way race.” Coupled with numerous reports from upstate GOP leaders about “an open revolt against incumbent Senator Charles Goodell” — and claims that his support was moving swiftly to Buckley — the Second Hurrah came to be. On April 7, 1970, the man who called himself “the only real Republican in the race” accepted the Conservative Party nomination.
This time, unlike 1968, there was money, which bought air time, which thundered with powerful commercials (the sounds of sirens and scenes of riots and lawlessness) that reinforced the idea that decent, firm, reasonable Jim Buckley was going to stop the agents of chaos. The commercials’ tag line — “Isn’t it about time we had a senator? Buckley” — resonated.
There were a lot of “we” out there.
1. What Makes the Muskrat Guard His Musk? James McCarthy answers the question, why do business reporters hate business. From the beginning of the piece:
James Madison identified the free press as “one of the great bulwarks of liberty” because he understood it could be a powerful check on abuses of power. But what Madison could not have foreseen was that so many reporters in the “free” press would voluntarily unite their cause with that of the state, transitioning from its watchdogs to its cheerleaders.
Nowhere is this unholy alliance more obvious than on the business page. In what other section are journalists so uniformly filled with animosity toward the subjects they claim to cover objectively? An arts writer who despised film and music, or a sportswriter who loathed football and golf would register as odd if not unfit. But anyone who has interacted with them can tell you that most business writers are steeped in progressive worldviews intrinsically hostile to markets and predisposed to government regulation and control.
That could be because most have never worked in corporate America, nor studied economics beyond an undergraduate survey. Journalism and other liberal-arts departments at the universities that stock our press corps are dominated by faculty with an anti-market animus manifestly transmitted to their students. As a consequence, few business writers display any understanding of the motivations or worldviews of the people who drive private enterprise.
The result is coverage in which any perceived market failure yields a predictable consensus around a set of supposed bad actors with malignant influence who must be stopped via regulatory or legal intervention.
2. Iain Murray says when painting his Socialism Palace, Joe Biden will go with green, not red. Whatever the color, it will be a botch job. From the piece:
The transition team’s summary memo on how to approach climate aspects of the transition includes policies not just for the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, and the Departments of the Interior, Energy, and Transportation, but for the Departments of Agriculture, State, Justice, and Treasury, as well as the Office of Management and Budget. Personnel is policy, goes the saying in Washington, and, evidently, the Biden transition team’s plan to staff all these departments with climate activists.
The memo envisages “new authorities that allow for structural and systemic changes.” Without control of the Senate, the new administration will find it difficult to set these up. However, thanks to excessive delegations of power from Congress to the executive over the years, President Biden will be able to do a lot through regulation via executive order — with the power of the “pen and phone,” as President Obama put it.
We can expect significant restrictions on the use of fossil fuels and machines that use them. Massive amounts of public funds will be spent on promoting “green jobs” — and the administration will use its powers under labor law to ensure that these are union jobs. Non-union jobs such as independent contracting will come under increased fire, with emissions-heavy delivery services probably in the crosshairs once the COVID crisis eases. Trade tariffs will be raised on the basis of emission levels in the trading partner’s country — which will hit the developing world hard.
3. Andrew Stuttaford makes mincemeat of “The Great Reset.” From the beginning of the piece:
Recently, one expression of corporatism, “stakeholder capitalism,” has won strong support on both sides of the Atlantic. This might be expected in Europe, but that it has been taken up by the Business Roundtable and many leading firms in the U.S. — allegedly a bastion of both free enterprise and democracy — is depressing. Looked at optimistically, the BRT and its C-suite cheerleaders are useful idiots. Looked at realistically, they are part of a managerial class grubbing for the power that flows from other people’s money.
Stakeholder capitalism rests on the notion that a company’s management owes a duty to more than its shareholders. It’s something that Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, has been advocating for a long time. A key feature of the Great Reset is the idea that stakeholder capitalism should, one way or another, be adopted.
That would reduce a company’s shareholders to just another category of “stakeholder,” effectively transferring the power that capital should confer away from its owners and into the hands of those who administer it. They are then accountable to, well, it’s not quite clear whom. It’s not difficult to grasp why so many corporate bosses are enthused by stakeholder capitalism.
But stakeholder capitalism is a betrayal of democracy as well as of shareholders. The power it gives to managers is increasingly being used to support an agenda influenced by a cabal of activists, NGOs, representatives of the “international community,” and politicians too arrogant to go through the usual legislative process.
4. Blue New Mexico, reports Paul Gessing, will see red thanks to Joe Biden’s likely energy policies. From the piece.
In 2020 Biden won the state 54.3 percent to 43.5 percent despite the fact that President Trump’s pro-energy policies have been a boon to the New Mexico economy and that the Biden administration’s energy policies are a dagger aimed at the heart of New Mexico’s economy.
That “dagger” comes in the form of the numerous — sometimes clear, often conflicting — statements that candidate Biden made during the campaign. It is unclear what Biden will do about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which enables oil and gas producers to access previously inaccessible oil and gas sources. He backed away from an outright nationwide ban late in the campaign. However, Biden has clearly stated that he would ban new gas and oil permits — including fracking — on federal lands.
Targeting federal lands would devastate New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and its economy, because of the state’s large federal estate. According to the Institute for Energy Research, 34.7 percent of the land in New Mexico is federal. In fiscal year 2019, New Mexico received energy-related disbursement (from the federal Bureau of Land Management) of $1.17 billion, the highest payment made in any state (Wyoming was next, with $641 million, and then Colorado, with $108 million). This was the highest payment from the bureau in the state’s history and compares with $455 million in FY 2017. A vast majority of this increased revenue is a result of fracking.
5. The debt of Illinois’ public-employee pension bonanza is killing the state, says Adam Shuster. From the piece:
Only 4 percent of Americans working in the private sector have access to a defined-benefit pension plan as their sole form of retirement security. The rest of us must rely on some combination of 401(k)s, hybrid plans, or Social Security.
Yet the country is sitting on more than $4.7 trillion in public-pension debt at the state and local level.
To understand the problem, look no further than Illinois — Land of Lincoln and home to the nation’s worst state pension problem.
Here, politicians have made promises that they could never afford to keep. This has led to higher taxes, a constantly growing state debt load, diminished government services, and public-sector retirements that could run dry before many workers hang up their hats.
The Prairie State’s pension debt is the worst in the nation relative to the size of each state’s economy. Moody’s Investors Service estimates unfunded liabilities in Illinois’ five state-managed pension systems at $230 billion for fiscal year 2019, equal to about 26 percent of gross domestic product. Moody’s also projects that the debt will grow to an all-time high of $261 billion for fiscal year 2020, owing to investment losses in markets riled by COVID-19.
6. There’s nothing “progressive,” says Brad Polumbo, about the calls for student-debt cancellation. From the piece:
Similarly, a new working paper published by the University of Chicago found that canceling all student debt would give $192 billion in benefits to the top 20 percent of income earners, yet just $29 billion to the bottom 20 percent. In what universe is that “progressive”?
Yet student debt is not the only aspect of education where progressive-sounding Democratic rhetoric masks big-government policies that favor the well-off.
Consider also the shutdown of schools, public and private, for in-person education during the COVID-19 crisis. To be sure, it’s true that both Republican and Democratic elected officials embraced this unwise measure early on. But in the many months since, an undeniable trend has emerged. Democratic politicians, at the behest (it seems) of teachers’ unions, have fought to keep schools closed for in-person education despite clear evidence that keeping schools open is safe — while many Republican officials have fought to resume in-person education.
The distributional disparity here could not be starker.
Well-off parents are more likely to be able to help their children navigate “distance learning,” work from home, or even hire additional child care. But school closures put low-income families into crisis. They lose a vital source of child care that allows them to earn a living. And they often don’t have the resources to keep their kids caught up in school.
Lights. Camera. Review!
1. Armond White catches the Obama hagiographies, Obama Dream and The Way I See It. From the review:
Obama Dream was made by Italian filmmaker Francesco Pavarati, who followed the 2008 campaign stops, traveling 20,000 miles from Denver through 14 states to Election Night, giving the perspective of an infatuated outsider. Pavarati is astounded by the candidate and aghast at America itself. He offers fever-dream imagery of a nation as bewitched and enraptured as he was and apparently still is.
There’s no irony in Pavarati’s extended collage, which makes one think about the difference between this portrayal of demagogue-induced fervor and the insight that Marco Bellocchio brought to Vincere (2010), a modern look at Italy’s mass hypnosis under Benito Mussolini, the double vision of demigod and monster, plus the individual experiences of those most intimately related to that beloved dictator. Pavarati hasn’t learned from Bellocchio, so he is doomed to repeat history’s mistakes.
Although Obama Dream confesses its deluded perspective, this comes with misunderstanding American culture and politics. Pavarati reiterates stump-speech rhetoric through dazed images intended to “document” America on the verge of ecstasy and scenes of “great emotional and political participation.” This is as much self-delusion as it is reporting.
2. Kyle Smith digs Season Four of The Crown, royal warts and all. From the review:
Though allowing Thatcher a few splendid moments, Morgan can’t bring himself to show too much respect for her triumphs (though he revels in her 1990 fall) and so he largely skips over them to portray her as something of an embarrassing harridan and has himself a chuckle imagining Thatcher doing her own cooking and ironing. (These are supposed to be insulting, the kinds of scenes that make pretentious BBC twits think, “So middle-class.”) It is, however, the Charles–Diana dynamic that steers and defines the show. It remains a genuinely heartbreaking tale; Charles, forced to marry someone other than his true love, the married commoner Camilla Parker Bowles (played amusingly under a giant Farrah Fawcett fluff of blond hair by Emerald Fennell), is disarmed by the girlish lack of pretense displayed by Diana (who at the time was living with two flatmates in Earl’s Court, notable for being populated by Australians and other disreputables). He talks himself into marrying her after she seems to slip naturally into the royal family in a weekend visit to Balmoral, but then immediately regrets it. During their engagement interview, a journalist noted that the pair seemed “very much in love” and Charles replied, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.” Ouch. Morgan does not fail to make a smashing, grueling, devastating scene out of this.
3. More Kyle, who finds The Boys to be . . . super: From the review:
The Boys is a very left-wing work that nevertheless gives right-wingers much to feast upon. The comic book on which it is based, launched in 2006 by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, reflects the mid-2000s Daily Kos-style paranoid fury about George W. Bush, Iraq, and the War on Terror. But in its second season, it gradually morphs into an unhinged allegory of white supremacism, anti-immigration sentiment, and, by implication, the popularity of Donald Trump. I generally find such veiled polemics to be boring in the extreme — hectoring, shrill, monomaniacal, bonkers, and ultimately hate-fueled in their underlying assumptions. Yet The Boys is one of the most amusing shows going, a satiric machine-gun attack on a gallery of cultural icons that have richly earned their drubbing.
The opening episodes of the first season, for instance, are a reminder that in 2018-2019, lots of previously interesting TV series became airless and rote as their teams of writers decided we wanted, say, Bojack Horseman to offer us a boring take on #MeToo. Remember when every ‘80s TV sitcom had to offer us a Very Special Episode on the dangers of drugs? After the Harvey Weinstein revelations of 2017, TV lurched in that direction, only with an added air of self-righteousness. I made it a rule to stop watching every series that I sensed was browbeating me, which was most of them. Instead of taking the opportunity to contemplate their own sins, showbiz types collectively decided that this was a time to lecture everyone else, mistaking themselves for Solons to whom we look for guidance and wisdom.
4. What? Even more Kyle? Well why not, since he wants to rope you into Ted Lasso. From the review:
All of the above is the predicate for the spot-on effectiveness of a wonderful sitcom on Apple TV+, Ted Lasso, about an American college-football coach who refuses to be dragged down by the prevailing English mood when he gets an unexpected invitation to coach a Premier League soccer team in Richmond, London. The team’s unofficial slogan is “It’s the hope that kills you,” but the sentiment is pretty widely applicable in a country of permanently low expectations.
Into the Richmond locker room saunters Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, the personification of sunny skies, open spaces, and optimistic apothegms. He’s shamelessly, unapologetically nice. With his hedgerow mustache and his Texas twang, he looks and sounds like a parody of an American football coach. Folksy, thoughtful, and upbeat, he says he doesn’t even care about winning and losing on the field but about winning and losing at life. At first the English can’t believe this guy. Then they insult him. Then they slowly start to get him. It’s beautiful to watch. As a fella who was almost as great as Ted once said, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then you win. I can’t think of another show that both nails the English way and shows why it’s so much better to be American.
5. Armond Encore: A sharp cultural criticism that finds both disappointment and greatness in The Godfather Coda. From the review:
The original opening scene at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral crucially established Michael’s hypocrisy and guilt. It flashed back to the two most shocking things we ever saw in the movies: Michael’s hypocritical baptism/massacre montage (“Do you renounce Satan and all his works?”) and his fratricide of Fredo. Fredo’s death resonates, pulsing throughout Part III’s narrative. Michael cannot escape the guilt or the corruption; it even infects the Vatican, where Michael attempts a financial deal to help legitimize his family’s standing.
In Part III, Coppola finally acknowledged this hypocrisy (and his own personal complicity) through several scenes that essentially set Michael’s confession. This moral reckoning equates the saga to Greek tragedy. It is dramatically, spiritually necessary — despite our secular culture’s efforts to reject it. (That’s why Part III is rarely exhibited, that’s why the media preferred HBO’s The Sopranos.)
Part III is the moral statement that the world waited 16 years to see. Now, The Irishman gets false praise just to show that no lesson was learned. Reviewers attributed Coppola’s theme to Scorsese. But Coppola recognizes the Godfather phenomenon as opera and relays it to us as opera. The magnificent final half-hour intercuts a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana with another horrific montage of Michael’s inescapable treachery. Coppola’s filmmaking sophistication and cinematographer Gordon Willis’s imagery reach their zenith here; it’s a postmodern, mise en abîme masterpiece.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. Victor Davis Hanson savages a Stanford Daily writer who attacks him and the Hoover Institution. From the piece:
Larson charges, “Hanson also falsely claimed that there were widespread irregularities in the 2020 election. Hanson’s incessant spreading of nonsensical conspiracy theories is contrary to the very idea of the University as a source of knowledge.”
Are we to laugh or cry at that puerile tirade?
Universities encourage inductive reasoning to investigate challenging issues, not to dismiss them when they don’t fit political agendas. Aside from the fact that the referenced single television interview is hardly proof of “incessant spreading of nonsensical conspiracy theories,” it is a matter of record that there were well before the election and after dozens of ongoing lawsuits — most now dismissed, but some still being filed or on appeal — alleging that voting laws passed by state legislatures were in some states modified by state justices and bureaucrats, allegedly contrary to constitutional law. There were episodic discoveries of unusually large computer glitches that until found had resulted in votes wrongly transferred from one candidate to another and hundreds of affidavits of witnesses, whose authenticity is being adjudicated, that were produced to argue for widespread violations of polling rules.
2. At The College Fix, Christian Schneider reports on how that same Stanford University likely helped the ChiComs develop the facial-recognition technology it now uses to oppress its citizens, and especially the ethnic minorities Big Red so loves to hate. From the beginning of the article:
American universities partnering with Chinese technology companies to develop facial recognition and crowd behavior software threatens both U.S. national security and the safety of ethnic minorities within China, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Education Department report redacts the names of the schools it found have partnered with China on surveillance technology. However, the crowd behavior research cited in the report closely resembles research conducted recently by Stanford University, one of the 12 schools currently being investigated by the department for failing to disclose $6.5 billion in foreign contributions in recent years.
The report, authored by the department’s Office of the General Counsel, criticizes U.S. colleges’ agreements with foreign companies, as such partnerships “can exploit the openness of America’s research institutions to serve malicious purposes.”
“This translates into foreign government access to American research projects and use of technology, created in part by American institutions, to oppress or control the people of China — and, conceivably, beyond,” states the report.
3. At Commentary, Noah Rothman explains how the forthcoming POTUS plans to come to the aid of Iran. From the article:
All the while, Iran has dealt with one of the earliest and worst outbreaks of COVID-19 on the planet. The outside world doesn’t fully understand the precise scale of the pandemic in Iran. But coupled with the Trump administration’s crippling sanctions on key economic sectors, its negative effects on the Iranian economy has been profound. The World Bank expects Iran’s gross domestic product to decline by 4.5 percent this year, on top of the 6 percent decline Iran endured over the last two years. The Iranian Rial lost half its value over the course of 2020, and inflation has surged to over 30 percent. The government has been forced to gingerly pare back its subsidization of consumer goods, raising prices on staple foods to unsustainably high levels. This is a risky prospect from Tehran’s perspective, as November 2019 produced some of the worst violence and unrest since the 1979 revolution, and all over the withdrawal of gasoline subsidies.
In sum, Iran is operating from a position of weakness, and the United States is well-positioned to press its advantages. But to hear President-elect Joe Biden talk about Iran, America’s top regional priority is to relieve the pressure on Tehran by seeking to revive the moribund JCPOA (aka, the Iran nuclear accords). And although he’s been vague about the terms he would seek in a new deal, the way Biden talks about the prospect suggests they might be even more lenient than the original.
In a telephone interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Biden appeared eager to revive the compact mostly in its original form. He criticized Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, which followed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2017 confession that it could no longer confirm that Iran was fully implementing the agreement. If there is to be any catch, it would be that all parties would have to renegotiate a second JCPOA’s sunset provisions. After that time, Iran would have the international community’s tacit endorsement to pursue a nuclear breakout. And only then, after a second JCPOA had been cemented, would the Biden administration deal with pesky issues like Iran’s ballistic-missile program or its material support for terrorist groups and proxy militias across the Middle East.
4. At Quillette, Jonathan Kay reports on the inmates taking over the Haverford asylum. From the beginning of the piece:
“You have continued to stand as an individual that seems to turn a blind eye to the stuff that’s going on, as a black woman that is in the [college] administration,” said the first-year Haverford College student. “I came to this institution” — and here she pauses for a moment, apparently fighting back tears — “I expected you, of any of us, to stand up and be the icon for black women on this campus . . . So, I’m not trying to hear anything that you have to say regarding that, due to the fact that you haven’t stood up for us — you never have, and I doubt that you ever will.”
The school-wide November 5th Zoom call, a recording of which has been preserved, was hosted by Wendy Raymond, Haverford’s president. At the time, the elite Pennsylvania liberal arts college was a week into a student strike being staged, according to organizers, to protest “anti-blackness” and the “erasure of marginalized voices.” During the two-hour-and-nine-minute discussion, viewed in real time by many of the school’s 1,350 students, Raymond presented herself as solemnly apologetic for a litany of offenses. She also effusively praised and thanked the striking students for educating her about their pain, while “recognizing that I will never understand what it means to be a person of color or be black or indigenous in the United States. I am a white woman with considerable unearned privilege.”
Not only did Raymond announce that she would be acceding to many of the students’ previously listed demands, she also reacted positively to the new requests that students put forward during the call. “All of the recommendations you’ve made here sound spot on and are excellent,” she said. “We can do those — and go beyond them.”
Since 2015, when Yale rolled over in response to student harassment of two husband-and-wife faculty members, such self-abasement rituals have become common — even if the prevalence of teleconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic has given us an unprecedented opportunity to watch them unfold. A Haverford president can expect an annual salary of about $500,000. And before coming to the role in 2019, Raymond was a successful scientist who had herself helped smash glass ceilings in several male-dominated academic programs. But the moral hierarchy dictated by social justice runs directly opposite traditional hierarchies of accomplishment and professional authority. And the president’s repeated attempts to ingratiate herself to the students on November 5th made it clear which of these two hierarchies governed the proceedings. One student even saw fit to call out the school’s provost for “multi-tasking while eating on this call, despite the seriousness of this meeting, which we don’t appreciate.”
5. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Arab leaders are warning Biden to not embolden Hezbollah. From the analysis:
Lebanese and Arab political analysts, politicians and journalists believe that a US return to the nuclear deal with Iran would ease pressure on Hezbollah, particularly the economic sanctions imposed on the organization’s leaders and supporters. They believe that once the sanctions on Iran are lifted, it would be easier for the Iranians to continue funding Hezbollah which, they say, is responsible for the current economic and political crisis in Lebanon. According to Lebanese sources, Hezbollah is causing delays in the formation of a new Lebanese government.
Marc Saad, a representative of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, said that Hezbollah was looking to make sure that it would hold more than one-third of the ministerial portfolios, with foreign affairs and security under its control.
In the view of many Lebanese, their country’s miseries can be alleviated only through increased international and local financial sanctions on Hezbollah, which functions as a state-within-a-state in Lebanon. Engaging with Hezbollah’s patrons in Iran, they argue, will further embolden Hezbollah and exacerbate the crises Lebanon has been facing for the past few decades.
“Lebanon faces a grim reality,” said Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib, a specialist in US-Arab relations and founder of the Research Center for Cooperation and Peace Building, a Lebanese non-governmental organization.
6. At The Spectator US, Douglas Murray says Red China ought to pony up reparations for its global catastrophe. From the piece:
Anyone tempted to say that this is only because of the actions of the British government should look almost anywhere else. In America, the country’s GDP has suffered its worst ever fall-off while government debt has soared to over $27 trillion. In Australia, the state of Queensland alone is expected to rack up debt of more than $130 billion in the next couple of years. Everywhere the world’s economies are experiencing an unprecedented slump in GDP and a rocketing of government borrowing.
Happily, there is one major economy where this is not the case. Guess which one it is? China is expected to see growth of 1.8 percent this year. The only country where that is the case. Which is jolly nice for them. Or as one financial journal reported it this week: ‘China driving global recovery.’
I suppose you could put it that way. Personally I feel (and perhaps this is just the spirit of Christmas arriving early) a certain amount of vengeance when I read such stories. A vengeance which is always in too short a supply at this time of the year. But I resent the prospect of China walking away from 2020 spinning headlines about the positive economic message its economic boom sends to the rest of the world.
First, it is worth getting the historical record right. We still do not know whether the Wuhan lab was the source of the virus or whether the bat-eating story is true. Both are plausible. And both leave the question of whether the Chinese Communist party allowed the virus to come out deliberately or accidentally.
7. At Real Clear History, Francis Sempa reminds us of James Burnham’s 1950 neglected classic, The Coming Defeat of Communism. From the piece:
Burnham then set forth the five principal conditions that would spell the end of the Cold War: First, the end of Soviet-communist subversive activities within the U.S. and the West; second, the cessation of communist propaganda proclaiming world revolution; third, the total withdrawal of Soviet forces from all territory conquered or occupied since 1939; fourth, free and independent governments in the former satellite nations of Eastern Europe; and fifth, a significant modification of the structure of the Soviet regime. Remarkably, all of those conditions occurred between 1989-91.
A major contributing factor to the West’s victory in the Cold War was the Sino-Soviet split that began to emerge in the late 1950s, intensified in the 1960s, and that was brilliantly exploited by President Nixon in the early 1970s. In The Coming Defeat of Communism, Burnham hoped that China was “not altogether lost.” He advocated providing greater aid to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces and urged support for resistance forces on mainland China. In his later writings, Burnham applauded Nixon’s opening to China, but also presciently warned that China could someday replace the Soviet Union as our main adversary.
In the concluding paragraph of The Coming Defeat of Communism, Burnham was uncharacteristically optimistic about the outcome of the Cold War. “The defeat of communism,” he wrote, . . . is . . . inevitable, because there are enough determined men in the world — and their number daily grows — who have so resolved.” “The issue,” he concluded, “is no longer in doubt.”
Westward ho could not have come soon enough for the New York Giants. The storied franchise had registered some terrific thrills in the early 1950s — from the team’s historic 1951 NL-playoff pennant win over the Brooklyn Dodgers to its 1954 World Series’ sweep of the Cleveland Indians. But within two years, the Polo Grounds was home field to a lousy team — the Giants posted 67-87 and 69-85 sixth-place finishes in 1956 and 1957 — watched by few fans (dead last in NL). 1957 would prove its last season on the banks of the Harlem River.
The Giants curtain call in New York was painful: a dismal 1-10 run. The team’s final win came in Pittsburgh, the second game of a September 21st doubleheader at Forbes Field, a 9-5 ,15-hit victory, with the W awarded to Ruben Gomez, the righthander who had played a crucial role in the Giants’ 1954 world championship. Gomez was the Giants’ ace in 1957, when he racked up a 15-13 record, with a 3.78 ERA.
The move in 1958 restored winning ways, with the team ending the season with a third-place 80-74 record. It had to begin, of course, with the first win.
And that came in the premier official MLB game to be played west of St. Louis: on April 15, 1958 at Seal Stadium, the Giants pre-Candlestick home. Against, of course, the Dodgers.
The Giants’ final Polo Grounds victory had come on September 8, 1957, when they bested Brooklyn and their youthful ace Don Drysdale by a 3-2 score. The 1958 first game of the San Francisco Giants would find their opposing pitcher to be the same towering Bum righty, now sporting “Los Angeles” on his uniform.
Facing Drysdale was Gomez, and that day the Puerto Rican native, revered on the island as El Divino Loco, earned the Giants their first win in the City by the Bay: scattering 6 hits and six walks, Gomez shut out the Dodgers, 8-0. In the Third Inning, he also picked up the team’s first hit, one of two on the day, accompanying a run scored and an RBI.
Ruben Gomez got a late jump on American baseball — he was a Giant rookie at the age of 25 in 1953 (he went 13-11). Traded in 1959 to the Phillies, he bounced around the Majors and minors until 1967. But he never stopped playing baseball: Woven through the decades, Gomez also played baseball in the Mexican League, in the winter in Puerto Rico — for 29 seasons! — and elsewhere (Canada) through the mid 1970s.
His overall professional career record is an astonishing 408-282. Gomez, who died in 2004, deserves uno poco more remembrance than the Gods of Baseball have given him.
As we mark all these many years, on this Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, give us a gift: a heartfelt prayer, that National Review will persist, that it will be graced with true wisdom, that it will continue to wage the battle to protect those unalienable rights which the Creator has so endowed this last great hope of earth, that it will appreciate those whose selfless help earns our thanks-a-million.
Would that The Almighty’s Abundant Mercies Wash over You and Yours,
Jack Fowler, who awaits vexing questions and caustic comments at email@example.com.