National Review

Loaves and Fishy

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

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

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

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

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

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

But First, Consider Fellowship

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

Short and Sweet, NR Links Ungussied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But did they really fail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does the online TEFAF work? Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictably, elites are charging those voters with racism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseballery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Dios

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

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

Jack Fowler, who can be distracted from funks  and night sweats with early-hours emails sent to jfowler@nationalreiew.com.

 

National Review

The Middle One Will Suffice

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Herewith a new way of presenting this prattle. The E-Mail Gods have frowned on the monumentality of the WJ, so, forced to improvise, we propose a new format, as follows: 1) The Blathering Author will give a short kick-off spiel, and then 2) a variety of linkage (sans excerpts — but don’t fret!) to just-NR stuff will be presented, and then 3) a READ THE WEEKEND JOLT IN ALL ITS USUAL VOLUMINOUS GLORY HERE link will await you all, or, as Joe Biden might pronounce it, y’awl, so 4) you can  enjoy the excerpts and the many other goodies we try to provide here every seven days.

That said, let The Blatherer’s Blathering commence.

Our Fearless Leader, Rich Lowry, is likely not too confident that Donald Trump will win enough Electoral College votes to secure a second term, but he is confident that, should Trump prevail, it will represent Americans (enough of them anyway) bird-flipping “a gigantic rude gesture directed at the commanding heights of American culture.” Personally, Your Humble Scribbler prefers the late Justice Scalia’s iconic chin-flick, but the middle digit sends the same message.  Here is a slice from Rich’s new column:

No one is voting for his barely sketched-out second-term agenda.

If he wins, it will be despite all that. An enormous factor would be that Trump is the only way for his voters to say to the cultural Left, “No, sorry, you’ve gone too far.”

Besides the occasional dissenting academic and brave business owner or ordinary citizen, Trump is, for better or worse, the foremost symbol of resistance to the overwhelming woke cultural tide that has swept along the media, academia, corporate America, Hollywood, professional sports, the big foundations, and almost everything in between.

He’s the vessel for registering opposition to everything from the 1619 Project to social media’s attempted suppression of the Hunter Biden story.

To put it in blunt terms, for many people, he’s the only middle finger available — to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture.

May America prove ambidextrous and use both middle fingers.

Now, get thee to a Compacted Joltery.

Editorials

1. Joe Biden’s energy policy would destroy America’s energy renaissance: The editorial

2. Californians Should Vote Against Legalizing Race Discrimination. The editorials

A Basket Brimming with Halloween Treats for the Conservative Intellect

1. Former Senator Orrin Hatch calls for a Constitutional amendment to confront the threat of court-packing: Avoiding Judicial Armageddon

2. As Andrew C. McCarthy sees it, a decision-ducking and intimidated SCOTUS will allow for ballot mayhem: Rolling the Dice on Chaos, Supreme Court Ducks Election-Law Cases

3. Jack Crowe reports on the telling resignation of Glenn Greenwald from the allegedly unfettered-journalism website he founded: No Newsroom Is Safe if The Intercept Can Fall Victim to Media Groupthink

4. Kevin Williamson wonders if “offensive” cartoons are the real root cause of terrorist murders Charlie Hebdo, the Patsy

5. Kyle Smith profiles the two Joe Bidens: Joe the Chameleon

6. Tobias Hoonhout reports on the cloak-and-dagger ascendancy in cable-news punditry: How the Media Enlisted the Intel Community as Partisan Pundits

7. Jimmy Quinn profiles Matthew Pottinger, a key player in the Trump administration’s adversarial approach to Red China. Meet the Trump Official Calling Beijing’s Bluff

8. Erin Hawley profiles another pathetic cave-in to ideological groupthink: Even the Girl Scouts Abandon Justice Barrett

9. Ambassador Kelley Currie makes the case for American investment in female leadership. Women, Peace, and Security: This Is How We Win

10. Armond White zings Stevie Nicks, crooner and partisan lecturer. Stevie Nicks, Like Springtsteen, Preaches and Preens

11. More Armond: Native Son is re-released, and our critic recalls the movie’s failure to capture the book’s anti-Communism. Richard Wright’s Native Son, Re-released for the BLM Era

12. When Harry Met Sanctimony: John Loftus catches two hacks on a Zoom: A Surreal Evening with Andrew Cuomo and Billy Crystal

13. Brian Allen visits a very unique museum, about a very unique actress: Ava Gardner, Unapologetic Sexpot, Still Bewitches

14. Pradheep J. Shanker and Kirti Shanker plot out how America should plan for pandemics. Reimagining America’s Infectious-Disease Defense

15. Steven Camorota explains the President’s immigration-policy successes: There Really Has Been a “Trump Effect” on Immigration

16. Bradford Wilcox and Erik Randolph discuss how government-induced poverty has impacted marriage: The Working-Class Welfare Trap: How Policy Penalizes Marriage

The New Brilliance-Packed Issue of NR Is Off the Presses

As is the WJ custom, we seek to entice you with a handful of suggestions. This fortnight, as regards the new November 11, 2020 issue, we recommend these five. OK, six:

1. Charlie Cooke mount the ramparts: In Defense of Florida

2. Old amiga Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for foster-care reform: Bureaucrats Are Ripping Foster Families Apart

3. David Mamet reflects on the once-upon-a-time influence of Russian expats on American arts: Memories of Moscow: Russians in Theater & Movies

4. Jay Nordlinger visits a lively cemetery: ‘To America’

5. From England, Douglas Murray analyzes America’s racial maelstrom: White Supremacy in a Magic Lantern

6. Scott Winship makes the case for at-home COVID testing: At-Home COVID-19 Testing: Why We Need It

If Anything Matters, Capital Matters

1. Douglass Carr compares the differences between the Obama-Biden and Trump-Pence recoveries: Comparing the Trump-Pence and Obama-Biden Recoveries

RELATED: In his new column, Rich Lowry takes on the former Veep’s energy takedown. Joe Biden Is Targeting a Great American Industry

2. Kevin Hassett puts on the green eyeshades and scores BidenCare. Evaluating the Impact of Biden’s Health-Care Plans

3. More Hassett and his eyeshades, as he reviews the former Veep’s energy policy: Evaluating the Impact of Biden’s Energy Policy

4. Robert VerBruggen analyzes the small-business death toll from pathogen: The COVID-19 Fatality Rate (for Businesses)

Editorials

1. Joe Biden’s editorial policy would be a disaster. From the editorial:

The American energy renaissance has been a major driver of U.S. prosperity, a source of high-paying jobs for the white-collar and the blue-collar alike, and an economic blessing to communities remote from the metropolitan centers of technology and commerce.

American energy production has also had some underappreciated non-economic benefits. Perhaps you have noticed that something suspiciously resembling peace is breaking out in the Middle East, with suddenly tractable Arab emirates such as Bahrain and the UAE normalizing relations with the Jewish state with the consent and approval of regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Part of that is recognizing a common threat — Iran — but much of it is the realization throughout the Gulf that North American energy has changed the balance of power worldwide in favor of the United States and its allies, making a paper tiger out of OPEC threats to manipulate or weaponize the oil industry. This isn’t 1973, and we didn’t politick our way into that superior position — we drilled our way into it.

Oil and gas are going to be part of the U.S. energy mix for the foreseeable future, in part because the Biden agenda is based in large part on wishful thinking about new technologies that do not, at the moment, exist. There are more and less environmentally responsible ways to go about getting and using that petroleum, just as there are more and less economically effective ways to do so. Fracking has in fact been a significant contributor to reductions in U.S. greenhouse gases, giving electricity producers an opportunity and incentive to switch from relatively dirty coal to cheap, plentiful, and relatively clean natural gas.

2. Californians need to reject Proposition 19, which seeks to affirm affirmative action, and worse. From the editorial:

Under cover of the George Floyd protests, California Democrats have placed on this year’s ballot Proposition 16, which would repeal Section 31. As the ballot initiative itself admits, it “permits government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity.” Notice that this makes no pretense at using racial classifications to remedy discrimination or injustice. Instead, “diversity” would provide a permanent justification for a racial spoils system — putting California on an inevitable collision course with Harlan’s heirs in the federal courts.

California voters should reject this path. The state’s multiracial, multiethnic population is far removed from simplistic black/white divides: The state estimates that its people are now 38.9 percent Hispanic, 36.6 percent non-Hispanic white, 15.4 percent Asian, 6 percent African American, and 2.2 percent “Multiracial non-Hispanic,” with the Hispanic and Asian populations rising, the white population sliding, and the black population holding steady. A population that diverse is likely to place different groups in a commanding political position in different localities. Allowing each group to entrench itself with legal discrimination in local contracting and schooling is a recipe for conflict among groups and injustice to individuals. It also requires an ever-more-complex system of racial classification against the tide of intermarriage and assimilation.

A Basket Brimming with Halloween Treats for the Conservative Intellect

1. Former Senator Orrin Hatch calls for a Constitutional amendment to confront the threat of court-packing, and avoid the Armageddon that might otherwise await. From the article:

If, come January, a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House set the legislative wheels in motion to pack the Supreme Court, Republicans and middle-of-the-road Democrats will not be completely powerless to stop them. Article V of the Constitution provides states with an avenue to amend the Constitution independent of Congress. If progressives move to pack the Court, we should invoke this power to pass a constitutional amendment that would fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

Now, I understand the potential pitfalls, time delays, and procedural challenges of an Article V convention. In fact, I know them better than most. I spent the better part of my Senate tenure trying to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment through this unorthodox process.

Both then and now, the “runaway convention” critique has been the strongest argument against using the Article V process to amend the Constitution. This is the fear that states would be unable to focus on a single issue at an Article V convention and would instead propose a never-ending string of amendments. It is an understandable concern in normal times — but these are not normal times.

In a few months, Washington could pass legislation that would destroy the American judiciary as we know it. The imminent threat of judicial Armageddon would force states to focus on one amendment and one amendment only. And I believe it would motivate them to act in a way no previous issue has, allowing them to overcome some of the logistical hurdles that have prevented this process from going forward in the past.

2. As Andrew C. McCarthy sees it, a decision-ducking and intimidated SCOTUS will allow for ballot mayhem: From the analysis:

Yet, on the left, and especially among Alinskyites schooled in the extortionate leveraging of power, the Court-packing threat is remembered as a triumph. It provoked the famous “switch in time that saved nine”: Fearful that FDR would follow through and destroy the Court’s standing as a rule-of-law institution, the Court — led by Justice Owen Roberts — dramatically shifted, upholding the New Deal it had been stalling, and ushering in the foundations of progressive governance.

Credible Court-packing threats by the Left intimidate moderate, politically minded justices, exactly as they are meant to do.

Duly cowed by today’s Court-packing threats, Chief Justice John Roberts has steered the Court into a possible disaster that has been foreseeable (and foreseen) for weeks. Last night, the justices made clear that they will not resolve state voting-law disputes prior to next Tuesday’s election. They will roll the dice on chaos, and all its potentially ruinous ramifications — not just for the country but for the Court.

In a pair of 5–3 decisions, with the newly minted Justice Amy Coney Barrett intriguingly keeping to the sidelines, the justices declined to intervene in the Pennsylvania election case despite the patent lawlessness of the rewrite by that state’s highest court — which could enable fraud by requiring non-postmarked ballots to be counted for three days after the November 3 election is supposed to be over. Nor will the Supreme Court intervene in a North Carolina election-law case that is nearly as egregious: one in which an unaccountable bureaucracy, the State Board of Elections, has presumed to rewrite state law by extending until nine days after the election the deadline for receiving ballots (although those ballots must be postmarked by or before November 3).

3. Jack Crowe reports on the telling resignation of Glenn Greenwald from the allegedly unfettered-journalism website he founded, where Groupthink now rules. From the analysis:

When he founded The Intercept, Greenwald — a committed leftist who made his bones criticizing the excesses of the Bush-era surveillance state — identified corporate power as the source of much of the partisanship that pervades mainstream political reporting. Because corporate media outlets depend on advertising dollars, they inevitably toe a neoliberal, capitalist line in order to keep their advertisers happy, or so the argument goes. On the flip side, they also pander to their readership, indulging their political superstitions in order to keep them basking in self-affirmation.

If it hasn’t quite proven false, Greenwald’s departure exposes this diagnosis of media bias as lacking.

That The Intercept’s New York-based editors succumbed to groupthink and quickly fell into lockstep on the Biden-corruption story exposes the true source of the bias and partisanship that pervades so much of our media class: cultural affinity. It’s been said hundreds of times before, but it can be said with more confidence now that Greenwald has made his exit: Most of the people who inhabit our elite newsrooms have the same partisan interests and cater to them in ways explicit and subconscious — and that fact, not nefarious corporate power, is the true source of our media monoculture. These reporters and editors don’t require some bottom-line obsessed boss to come downstairs and put the squeeze on when they risk jeopardizing corporate interests; they do it themselves, but to preserve their social status, not to protect the bottom line.

4. Kevin Williamson wonders if “offensive” cartoons are the real root cause of terrorist murders, and if Charlie Hebdo has become a patsy. From the piece:

There were no cartoons behind the massacre of Jewish athletes and a German police officer at the Munich Olympics. There wasn’t a cartoon behind the massacre at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem — seven children and one pregnant woman among the dead. It wasn’t a cartoon, or even an obscure Internet video, that led to the American deaths in Benghazi. Or consider the Nairobi hotel massacre, the Jolo bombings in the Philippines, the Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the Lyon bakery bombing, the Abu Sayyaf shooting attack in the Philippines, the London Bridge attack, the massacre of Sikhs in Kabul — all of which happened in 2019 and 2020, and none of which required so much as a sketch.

So no, the problem is not Charlie Hebdo. The problem is Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others like him. And in “others like him,” I include Jack Dorsey.

After the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre, all the good people came together in a grand display of free-speech piety. Twitter added a pro-Charlie Hebdo banner to its French site. That lasted a little while. By 2018, Twitter was blocking the accounts of Charlie Hebdo staffers for displaying Charlie Hebdo images.

Je suis Charlie!” they said. Sommes-nous toujours Charlie?

5. Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon: Kyle Smith profiles the two Joe Bidens. From the piece:

So Biden won’t ban fracking, but he will end fossil fuel, which is what fracking is for. Maybe the frackers will be allowed to keep working if they promise to frack only for pixie dust.

Biden is the kind of guy who, when speaking to an audience he thinks contains racist whites, brags about receiving an award from George Wallace or reminisces about his friendships with segregationist Dixiecrat senators such as Strom Thurmond, James Eastland, and John Stennis. Among those who place a high value on fighting for civil rights, though, he concocts a completely false tale about getting arrested trying to visit the great South African Nelson Mandela.

Biden is the kind of guy who flatters the National Association of Police Officers by telling them, “You wrote the [1994 crime] bill.” When speaking to a racially mixed audience, he slips into what he considers black vernacular and claims of Mitt Romney, “He gonna put y’all back in chains.” Last May, when speaking to the radio host Charlamagne tha God, he awkwardly tried on the vernacular again while framing himself as an authority on blackness: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

6. Tobias Hoonhout reports on a dangerous thing: the cloak-and-dagger ascendancy in partisan cable-news punditry. From the piece:

Center for Security Policy CEO and CIA veteran Fred Fleitz said that the letter and its lack of concrete evidence serves the interests of the media, not the intelligence community, and also furthers the Republican talking point that intelligence officials are out to get the current president, making “it harder to convince Trump and other Republicans that the intelligence community is of any value.”

“It has great value,” he said. “But how do you convince Trump with that now, after letters like this?”

Fleitz also lamented the way in which the media so often presents intelligence reports as either true or false, rather than as an informed opinion that doesn’t necessarily bind the president to any particular course of action.

“What is intelligence analysis — is it truth? No, it’s opinion,” he explained. “It is usually the best opinion around, it may be truthful, but the president is not obligated to follow the opinion of the intelligence community.”

By presenting intelligence reports as unimpeachable documents which require a prescribed policy response, the media conflates the role of politicians with that of intel officials, Shedd explained.

“The job of that intelligence professional is not to say, ‘Mr. President, or Mr. Secretary of Defense, or State, or Homeland Security, do this, this, and this, and all will be well if you make that choice,’” he said. “Rather, it’s for the policymaker to say, ‘if I do x, what will the reaction be, in the context of what we’re talking about notionally, of that adversary. How will they respond to it?’”

7. Jimmy Quinn profiles Matthew Pottinger, a key player in the Trump administration’s adversarial approach to Red China. From the piece:

Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), who first met the deputy national-security adviser when they were both counterintelligence officers in Iraq, calls him one of the two people in the world most responsible for the current reappraisal of the CCP. (The other is an Australian, John Garnaut, the journalist and government adviser whose work has contributed significantly to the turn against Chinese political influence in the country.)

“When the history of our New Cold War with the Chinese Communist Party is written, I really believe that Matt will be up there with another hero of mine, Wisconsin’s George Kennan, in terms of his impact in shaping the competition,” he told National Review in an emailed statement, comparing Pottinger to the legendary diplomat and Cold War strategist.

During a speech in May, Pottinger detailed the long history of Chinese democracy movements, calling the idea that Chinese people can’t be trusted with democracy “the most unpatriotic idea of all.” He elaborated: “Taiwan today is a living repudiation of that threadbare mistruth.”

In that instance, he spoke directly to the people of China. He did the same on Friday, noting that that previous speech, about the May Fourth Movement, was viewed over a million times (he gave both speeches in Mandarin).

Pottinger is adept at explaining the depravities of the CCP in terms that make sense in a Chinese cultural context, while simultaneously warning of the Party’s global activities. Further, he exhibits an unparalleled grasp of the stakes of this contest.

8. Badge for Gutlessness: Erin Hawley profiles another pathetic cave-in to ideological groupthink. From the piece:

Even though one might not agree with many of Justice Ginsburg’s decisions, the Girl Scouts were right to honor her memory and legacy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s achievements, intellect, and personal story are inspirational. It is infuriating to think that, after graduating at the top of her Ivy League law school class, she (like Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before her) found it difficult to obtain a job in the law.

Justice Barrett is similarly accomplished. She is a stellar academic, accomplished jurist, and loving wife and mother to seven children — including four daughters. Every single member of her Supreme Court law clerk class and of the Notre Dame law faculty supported her nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Like the four female justices before her, Barrett has broken gender barriers and is an inspiring role model for girls nationwide.

Yet the Girl Scouts are not the only group to sweep Barrett’s success aside because of her conservative views. Barrett’s sorority, Kappa Delta, posted a lukewarm tweet congratulating their former alumna, and then, you guessed it, deleted the post as “hurtful to many.” Meanwhile, some 1,500 Rhodes College alumni took the college to task for their apparent embrace of Barrett and attacked the justice personally, writing that her record was “diametrically opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service that we learned at Rhodes.” You read that right: From the perspective of those on the left, a successful conservative woman is somehow “hurtful to many” and “opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service.”

9. Ambassador Kelley Currie makes the case for American investment in female leadership. From the article:

When Congress passed and President Trump signed the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, we became the first country in the world to have such national-level legislation. Our 2019 Strategy on WPS, promulgated under our National Security Strategy, recognizes that empowering women to lead in preventing, resolving, and rebuilding from conflict is vital to American national-security policy. With the release of our 2020 implementation plan, the State Department threads that concept through our foreign-policy and national-security framework, empowering our diplomats and partners to act.

We know female leadership is a smart investment. We see it every day in my office, working to support women around the world as they help lead, rebuild, and strengthen their communities. Together with women’s economic-empowerment initiatives such as the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, our efforts advance American and international security and prosperity through cost-effective, sustainable engagement that has long-term multiplier effects.

True security for the American people comes from a world where other societies enjoy those unalienable rights and freedoms that animated our founding principles and permeate our social-political fabric.

A robust WPS agenda will not resolve all our national-security challenges, but it does give us more and better options. By investing in women, peace, and security, we are helping our global neighbors — women and men alike — become safer, more prosperous, and better able to stand on their own. Ultimately, that means we are investing in our own peace and security.

10. Armond White zings Stevie Nicks, crooner and partisan lecturer. From the piece:

These Seventies artists, like many aging liberals, are in intellectual retreat, although they proceed as if they were in the vanguard. It is bizarre, indeed, when Nicks suddenly, for the first time in her career, sings about social issues and race, invoking John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. as metaphors for her previously hidden desires and newly acquired social consciousness. Equating the troubled present to the nostalgic past is a typical Boomer move, but, with Nicks, it merely reveals her political naïveté. The same can be said of Springsteen’s poignant appeals in Letter to You, which, much more than “Show Them the Way,” is overstuffed with nouveau riche hubris.

While Nicks plies her quasi-mystical shtick (meeting MLK in a dream, she regards him like a ghostly butler — as critic John Demetry noted), Springsteen adopts a messianic posture. Letter to You continues the heartbroken resignation of Springsteen’s previous album Western Stars, where he attempted to escape from his elitist post-Obama disillusionment. Now, feeling post-Trump despair, Springsteen faces the mortality of others. The Letter to You film, directed by Thom Zimny, is chock-full of the Boss’s pensées, reflecting on life, death, friendship, family, and the holy institution of rock music. It made a one-time fan like me recall a Dave Marsh Rolling Stone article in which every Springsteen quote was worded like holy writ; all that was missing from Marsh’s epistle was a rubricated text to highlight the bard’s dominical sayings. (Marsh’s wife, Barbara Carr, is one of the film’s co-producers and also one of Springsteen’s co-managers.)

What Nicks’s sentimentality and Springsteen’s ultra-sentimentality tell us is that old-guard liberalism has lost perspective on the heinous, satanic confusion of today’s disingenuous political movements. Realigning themselves with sophomoric virtues, the stars sell their souls in accommodation to the insensate new era. “Overwhelmed by destiny,” as Nicks puts it, they intentionally use the music-video vanity-project format as political campaign ads. Cameron Crowe makes Nicks’s philosophical gibberish seem worse than it is by contrasting her private schmaltz with predictable Boomer iconography — from JFK, RFK, and John Lewis to Obama and George Floyd — while she bleats, “I didn’t know these men, but they knew me.”

11. More Armond: Native Son is re-released, and our critic recalls the 1951 movie’s failure to capture the book’s anti-Communism, among other things. From the beginning of the review:

Kino Lorber Repertory offers a new, uncensored restoration of the 1951 Native Son. It’s the first film adaptation of Richard Wright’s celebrated 1940 novel about Bigger Thomas, the archetypal doomed urban black American youth. That Bigger still represents the most exploited social figure of the 21st century ignites the timing of this re-release.

In the original novel, the story of Bigger’s committing a Dostoevskian crime, facing a Scottsboro-like trial, and being executed made a startling turn: It included a renunciation of the Communist social saviors who had attempted to manipulate Bigger as a victim of capitalist oppression — a situation still relevant to the current usurpation of black protest by the radical Left. But that narrative development has always been elided in film versions of Wright’s screed.

Wright’s purpose —  to expose the social conditions of poverty and racism — always fascinated American liberals yet was never in sync with Hollywood. Orson Welles had produced a pared-down stage version on Broadway in 1941 (the same year as Citizen Kane), responding to the book’s enormous social impact. But the 1951 movie adaptation was made by French director Pierre Chenal, filmed in South America and exhibited in the U.S. only briefly and with edits. This new restoration comes from the Library of Congress in association with Argentina Sono Film.

Although Kino promotes Native Son ’51 as a missing link in the history of film noir, it is actually a film maudit — cursed from its beginning in Wright’s imagination by the incapacity of American cultural institutions, primarily run by liberals, to accept the full scope of Wright’s vision. (Subsequent film adaptations — one featuring Oprah Winfrey as Bigger’s mother in 1985, and the recent HBO Afro-punk update — are hideous illustrations of liberal self-congratulation.)

12. When Harry Met Sanctimony: John Loftus catches Andrew Cuomo and Billy Crystal Zooming: From the piece:

Meanwhile, what would a Zoom talk between a liberal Hollywood actor and a Democratic governor be without blaming Trump for the bungled response to COVID-19 and all other social problems facing the country? “Trump panicked, and he deceived. He was always afraid. The economy was going to reelect him, and this [pandemic] would be inconvenient for the economy,” Cuomo said. He then claimed that anti-Semitism and racial intolerance are “higher than ever before” in America solely because of Trump. “Trump is a master at using the wedge. He’s a master at seeing a little crack and putting the thin edge of the wedge in that crack and hammering it home.” Cuomo’s bluster on anti-Semitism in particular is grossly hypocritical. Earlier in October, he targeted the religious liberty of Orthodox Jews, whose communities had been deemed COVID red zones, and were therefore subject to more drastic health measures. “If you’re not willing live with these rules, then I’m going to close synagogues,” Cuomo said.

In the end, Cuomo is yet another public servant who peddles revisionism to gullible liberal fans. Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, her self-aggrandizing memoir that “explains” her shocking loss in 2016, is another great example. Cuomo’s revisionism, though, is particularly shameless, as David Harsanyi pointed out. His decisions and feuds with Mayor Bill de Blasio might have been detrimental to the city early on in the pandemic. He has yet to be held accountable for his executive order that forced nursing homes across the state to take in COVID-positive patients (he probably never will) even though they were very poorly equipped to treat these patients while keeping other residents safe from the virus. Meanwhile, nearly half the country will see him as a hero, as the other half treats him like a villain. In that sense, Cuomo’s just like Trump, the president he loathes.

13. Brian Allen visits a very unique museum, about a very unique actress, Ava Gardner. From the review:

Curatorially, the Ava Gardner Museum excels in every respect, in part because it takes a larger-than-life, indeed unique, figure, what MGM called “the world’s most beautiful animal,” and presents her coherently and intellectually, not analyzing her or treating her like a test-tube object. We get voluptuous and multifaceted Ava, with no apologies. The museum didn’t need to bring her to life but, rather, cut her down to size, a trick in itself. Gardner was the least bland person on earth. She had a luminous, hot charisma. Packaging all that sex, ambition, booze, and manipulation in a setting meant to educate isn’t easy.

It does it through vignettes covering the key moments in her life, from growing up, her three husbands, her movies, and her years as an international celebrity based in Europe. There’s a perfect balance of well-written wall text and big, illuminating photography. She was a movie star and a compelling beauty, and the museum chose its images well to serve as equal narrative partners to the text and the objects.

Why Smithfield? Gardner was born and raised there, the daughter of a tenant farmer father and a strict but loving mother who managed the Teacherage, a boarding house for unmarried young teachers. Gardner went to Hollywood at 18, got an MGM contract and, within months, married Mickey Rooney, the studio’s biggest and most lucrative star. The marriage lasted a year. Gardner herself was a heavy-hitter star before too long, married and divorced Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra, had a dozen affairs, lived for 30 years in Madrid and London, but never stopped loving her old, rural Southern home. Her brother and sisters and their families mostly stayed local. When Gardner died, she was buried with her parents.

14. Pradheep J. Shanker and Kirti Shanker plot out how America should plan for pandemics. From the analysis:

A system of constant re-analysis of stockpile quantities and potential health-sector requirements by some central federal authority is essential to ensure preparedness. This should be done frequently, coordinating with the CDC, HHS, FEMA, and state authorities to establish what the national need would be if another widespread pandemic arose. As for ventilators and other more expensive equipment, it might behoove the government to form more public–private alliances before the crisis erupts, so that in the case of a sudden need, production of such items can occur as fast as possible. General Motors, for example, helped produce thousands of ventilators and was able to start manufacturing in a matter of weeks. This was without any pre-planning; imagine what a system that was thoughtfully planned could have done.

Furthermore, the American public-health establishment must change its focus. For too long, we ignored the specific steps needed to confront the threats posed by pandemic-level infectious diseases. The CDC and other entities must approach the problem in ways similar to how the U.S. military approaches threats of attack and invasion from foreign enemies. The key leaders in infectious-disease and public-health policy must be able to regularly game-plan for the unwelcome eventuality of a new biological threat. These entities need to build up technology, logistics, and materials necessary to rapidly scale up production of vaccine and therapeutics when needed. Funding research into the repurposing and rapid response of new treatments must be a constant consideration for the FDA. And to avoid catastrophes like the testing debacle with COVID, federal authorities should have redundancies built in for the most critical issues.

One complaint in recent years is that the CDC’s mission and breadth of scope have been tremendously broadened. The organization now studies diverse ailments ranging from birth defects to obesity and even repercussions from gun crime (both physical and mental). Although these are all relevant issues to the health and well-being of Americans, whether they should be included in the CDC’s mission is highly dubious.

15. Steven Camarota explains the President’s immigration-policy successes: From the analysis:

So who is leaving? The ACS shows that all of the decline is among non-citizens, (e.g. green card holders, foreign students, guestworkers, and illegal immigrants), not naturalized citizens. It does not appear that it is well-established, long-time legal immigrants or naturalized citizens who are heading home in larger numbers. Rather it seems that more illegal immigrants left and fewer arrived, primarily from Mexico. It may also be the case that more long-term visitors, primarily foreign students and guestworkers, went home instead of overstaying their visas and joining the illegal population.

We may not be able to pinpoint all of the reasons for the falloff in new arrivals and the increase in out-migration, but we can rule out the economy. Unemployment among immigrants, already low in 2016, continued to decline through 2019. So it is not as if immigrants had much difficulty securing jobs. Moreover, more than 5 million jobs were created over this time period.

Perhaps the best news on the economy, before COVID-19, was that labor-force participation — the share working or looking for work — was improving. Indeed, the long-term decline in labor-force participation over the last half century has been one of the most troubling social trends in America. It has been particularly pronounced among those without a college education.

Data through 2019 show that the slowdown in immigration coincided with a recovery in labor-force participation, including among the less educated. Wage growth has also been reasonably strong. We do not know the extent to which less immigration contributed to these positive developments. But at the very least, we can say that the new data do not support the argument that we must have very high levels of immigration in order to create economic prosperity. In fact, the new data are consistent with the opposite proposition — that workers actually benefit from less competition with new immigrants.

16. Bradford Wilcox and Erik Randolph discuss how government policies have trapped the poor in extended poverty, which in turn has whammied the institution of marriage: From the analysis:

This country’s public policies — especially our tax and welfare policies — often penalize marriage, locking couples out of marriage and trapping too many people in poverty. In fact, marriage penalties, which generally fall hardest on working-class families in the lower half of our income distribution, can end up robbing working-class families of between 10 percent and 30 percent of their real income. One study found that a working-class couple with two children in Arkansas stood to lose 32 percent of their real income if they married.

Not surprisingly, these penalties seem to play a role in fueling working-class Americans’ retreat from marriage that we have seen play out over the past three decades. In recent years, for instance, a majority of children born to working-class parents have been born outside of marriage, whereas the vast majority of upper–middle-class parents continue to have children in marriage.

Working-class children — and the communities where they grow up — are the big losers in all this. Children from intact, married households are 70 percent more likely to graduate from college. Girls in such households are half as likely to end up pregnant, and boys are half as likely to end up in jail or prison. And as Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues have found, one of the strongest predictors of economic mobility for lower-income kids is the share of two-parent families in their community.

The New Brilliance-Packed Issue of NR Is Off the Presses

As is the WJ custom, we seek to entice you with a handful of suggestions. This fortnight, as regards the new November 11, 2020 issue, we recommend these five:

1. A tanned Charlie Cooke mount the ramparts from the Sunshine State. From the cover essay:

With so much good happening across the state, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Florida legislature meets for only two months each year, and that, when it does, it has proven extremely good at limiting the government to its appropriate role. According to the Cato Institute, Florida is the freest state in America, and has been for a while. It’s No. 1 in fiscal freedom, it’s No. 1 in educational freedom, and it ranks high up the list in almost every other category, too. The state has no income tax, and, as of 2018, the legislature has been constitutionally barred from raising any statewide tax or fee without the consent of supermajorities in both legislative houses. This year, my property taxes actually went down — by a lot. (I can hear you crying in New York. Or Texas.)

But here’s the thing: Despite its having a well-limited state government, Florida’s everyday services are both friendly and efficient. Ask Floridians about their experience with the DMV and they will tell you that they actually enjoy going. When I moved here from Connecticut, I walked in without an appointment and, within 18 minutes, I had two new license plates and two new driver’s licenses, and my wife had registered to vote. This was typical. Occasionally, I have had to deal with the state’s business-registration and sales-tax offices and, each time, I have left the conversation with the impression that the representative did not see it as his job to screw me over or to wring any available coins from my pocket. This was, let’s say, not my experience in Connecticut.

You will perhaps notice that I have barely mentioned the weather. This is because Floridians come eventually to regard “the weather,” with the notable exception of hurricanes, as something that happens to other people. Sure, our weather can be interesting: Sometimes it rains while the sun shines, and when it storms it storms so dramatically that my house shakes with each clap of thunder and the rain brings to mind the climactic scene in Jurassic Park. But, all in all, these things represent mere interruptions to the assumed default, which is blue skies, high temperatures, and sunshine. As a native English­man, I can barely convey in words the joy that I still feel each morning when I wake up and see light streaming in through every window. There is much good to be said about Great Britain, but the prevalence of heavy gray skies is not among them. In Florida, there is no such thing. It’s either perfect or it’s biblical.

2. In a quite important piece, old amiga Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for foster-care reform: From the article:

Over the summer, James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, also filed a federal lawsuit. His was on behalf of a two-year-old who had been fostered by a couple he knows. The couple had cared for the child since he was born, but he was removed to live with a grandfather, who was previously deemed unfit because of his long criminal record. Dwyer suspects that race played a role in this decision — the child is black, the mothers are white — even though federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in placement for adoption or foster care. (The black caseworker scolded the mothers at one point for not using beads in the child’s hair.)

Dwyer argues in the brief that “at some point, a child’s interest in continuity of placement must become sufficiently strong that it receives the same substantive due process protection that the federal courts give to adults’ less vital interests in maintaining and receiving recognition for their intimate relationships. Basic respect for the humanity, personhood and fundamental need of a child requires this.”

Foster care and family law is generally a state issue, but higher state courts are often reluctant to overturn family-court decisions, because they generally see family court as rehabilitative and the judge who has overseen the case from the beginning as having the greatest familiarity and expertise. This lack of an effective appeal process has devastated countless foster children and is a violation, Dwyer argues, of their due-process rights.

3. Davis Mamet reflects on the once-upon-a-time influence of Russian expats on American theater and film. From the piece:

I had one of the great theatrical experiences of my life watching one of the Art Theatre’s actresses onstage, in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 1964. Eugenie Leontovich had been a member of Meyerhold’s troupe, and of the Art Theatre itself. Her family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks, and she came to New York, and taught herself English. She had a long career on Broadway, as a teacher and producer, and appeared in talkies and early TV.

She came to Chicago’s Goodman in 1964 in Brecht’s Mother Courage. We didn’t know her age, as she kept post­dating it, but she was probably in her eighties. Her voice was weak, but the Good­man had an early example of the new Technology: body microphones for actors onstage. It worked passably well until the receiver started picking up taxi calls and broadcasting them to the audience. That, I believe, was as close as I ever got to an actual member of the Art Theatre.

I’ve long cherished (you can, too) their performances in film.

Leontovich’s husband, for a time, was Gregory Ratoff (né Ratner). He went to Hollywood and directed 30 (rather good) films. He can be seen as Max Fabian in All about Eve and as the painter in O. Henry’s Full House; as Lakavitch in Exodus, and in 50 other films. Also, we can adore Vladimir Sokolov. He left Russia for Germany and France, and got out a half step ahead of the Nazis, and came to Hollywood, where he played every Foreign Type (see Back to Bataan, Mr. Lucky, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Magnificent Seven, and countless television episodes).

4. Jay Nordlinger visits a cemetery alive with poems, music, and munchies. From the article:

Ousley says, simply, that this has been a brutal year in America — pandemic, social unrest, the presidential campaign — and he wanted to do something to reaffirm the goodness of our country. Or if not its goodness, its higher ideals and better self. I think of a Lincoln phrase: “the better angels of our nature.” Also, Ousley wanted to offer something rare: a live performance.

Today is October 23. I last reviewed a concert, live and in the flesh, on March 6. (It was a chamber concert at Carnegie Hall.) In between, there have been online concerts — livestreams — only.

Our group walks to a chapel, whose interior is lit, slightly, by little candles. There are shadows on the walls. Members of a string quartet wear black masks. There is dead silence, for now. It is all very . . . cemetery-at-night–like.

After a minute or two, a man recites a poem: “Inhale, Exhale,” by Terrance Hayes, who was born in South Carolina in 1971. The theme of his poem is captured in this line: “America — do you care for me, as I care for you?” I think of a Langston Hughes poem, “I, Too,” which has a similar message.

5. From Jolly Old England, Douglas Murray analyzes America’s racial maelstrom. From the article:

In Oregon, among other places, Antifa/BLM activists continue to protest and riot because they actually seem to believe the image projected about their country. Nightly they take to the streets to oppose systemic racism and white supremacy. For a couple of nights in Portland, I stayed among them, seeing firsthand how a part of a new generation really does believe the image that so many non-Americans have about the reality of American racism.

Yet even a mildly curious traveler can see that the image is off. Even in the event that fueled the latest bout of claims, there are things that would alter the projection if mentioned. For instance, if the police in the video intended to kill George Floyd, then what are we to make of the Asian-American officer who is present? Is he an honorary white supremacist? In this incident, as so many others, we might discern the supply-and-demand problem in American fascism (the demand is huge, the supply is mercifully small). Everywhere there are similar glitches in the narrative that any observer or participant should be able to note but too few do. For instance, why are so many of the figures in groups now classed as white supremacists either minority-ethnic themselves or married to nonwhites?

Doubtless many people would like to leave these questions unaddressed for the sake of personal ease or comfort, unwilling to look like they are defending groups that may yet behave reprehensibly. Yet it is precisely when the details are allowed to slide that the picture that is projected becomes so unreal and monstrous. Some Americans obviously realize this, which is why they litigate, debate, and fight over every single aspect of police brutality. Yet while they come in for a disproportionate amount of flak, it is only the work of the relatively small number of people who are unafraid for their wider reputations and who remain sticklers for the truth (and who cannot allow the tiny details to pass because they know the resulting picture that will be projected) who show the way out of a situation that will otherwise continue to deteriorate.

6. Scott Winship makes the case for at-home COVID testing, and the many positive consequences that will come from such. From the essay:

But another future is possible.

In a recent column advocating a massive scale-up of COVID-19 testing, economist Tim Harford wondered, “What if everyone who was infectious glowed bright orange?” In such a world, we would insist that glowing people isolate themselves, and we would maintain our distance from them. But otherwise, we could go about our routines, our social and work lives, without fear of getting infected.

Absent a luminescent, self-advertising virus, we ideally would have perfectly accurate COVID-19 testing kits, widely available and easy enough for Americans to use daily at home. In this ideal scenario — still unrealistic — the entire population would comply every day with self-testing and people would voluntarily isolate themselves upon learning of infection. That would be as good as glow.

Fortunately, tamping down the coronavirus does not require such unattainable conditions. Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Romer has emphasized that with enough testing kits of sufficient accuracy, enough people testing themselves with sufficient regularity, and enough people with positive tests voluntarily isolating themselves for a sufficient duration, we can drive down infection rates enough to safely resume regular social and economic life.

Doing so would require national mobilization and sacrifice. Today, well under 10 million Americans are tested every week. Under Romer’s plan, that number would need to increase to 150 million. That would mean all Americans, on average, were tested every two weeks. A plan this ambitious would have serious logistical challenges — ramping up production of testing supplies, building up lab capacity, disseminating tests, and potentially providing isolation quarters and compensation to replace earnings for some who must isolate.

But Wait . . . from the Previous Issue

1. The intention to draw attention to our old colleague Tracy Lee Simmons’ review (in the November 2, 2020 issue) of Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, by Alan Jacobs, was not realized. Now, it is! From the review:

The faith invested in education has always overshot its capacity to deliver, which is one reason schools disappoint no matter how well some perform. Students emerge with a few skills if they’re lucky, but the hoped-for transformations of mind and spirit, the ones celebrated in commencement addresses, are relatively rare. Still, that faith gets renewed every year as we try to show each legion of neophytes how books can improve their lives.

But can reading be stunted by the often desiccating nature of the academic enterprise itself? Depends on who’s doing the teaching. The ablest instructors must constantly remind their students that works assigned in humanities courses — poems, plays, short stories, novels — were not produced for classroom dissection. They were composed to entertain and enlighten. Emily Dickinson did not write poetry to make grist for term papers. Willa Cather refused permission to one publisher to release a school edition of one of her novels because she didn’t wish to see her work imposed on the recalcitrant: Her novels should be experienced by the imagination, she thought, not provide fodder for exams. And yet if their works were to be removed from classrooms, would we not risk consigning them to oblivion? Such is the fragile thread on which culture can hang.

With this brief expedition into serious reading and thinking, Alan Jacobs, a professor of humanities at Baylor, takes us into his seminars to impart “much of what I have learned over the years by taking my students’ questions and boredom seriously,” and he does so without recourse to grating jargon. This is a work of advocacy. “To read old books,” he writes, “is to get an education in possibility for next to nothing” — a sparkling truism certainly, but one that might eventually undercut the entire college imperative if enough folks realize that they can do the reading on their own without professorial midwifery. Nonetheless, Jacobs reminds us just how humane a university classroom can still be in an uneasy and politically charged time when the teacher has been humbly and thoroughly formed by the best — and sometimes most provocative — that’s been thought and said and wishes to open treasures of the past for the young.

If Anything Matters, Capital Matters

1. Douglass Carr compares the differences between the Obama-Biden and Trump-Pence recoveries. From the analysis:

It took the Obama-Biden administration over six years to produce the job growth and retail-sales gains the Trump administration produced in five months. Industrial production, durable goods, and housing starts all grew much more rapidly under Trump than Obama-Biden.

Trump critics blame the pandemic recession on his administration’s mishandling of the virus. Whatever missteps there might have been, the U.S. economy is performing better than peer economies that may, to a greater or lesser extent, have responded differently to the coronavirus. The International Monetary Fund predicts that from 2019 to 2021, the U.S. will have grown over 3 percent faster than the euro zone and Japan.

To be sure, the two great recessions, similar in many respects, also have differences, so their courses may not be entirely comparable, but they don’t need to be precisely compared. The sluggish first five months of the Obama-Biden recovery led to the slowest recovery in U.S. history. While there remains a long distance to full recovery from the pandemic (and the implications of a second wave remain, for now, unknowable) the Trump administration’s first five months of recovery are the nation’s fastest ever.

2. Kevin Hassett puts on the green eyeshades and scores BidenCare. From the analysiss

I have yet to see a Mao suit at a Bernie Sanders rally, but the public option would likely rapidly lead to a single-payer system if it is attractive relative to private insurance. If it does, the carnage in the U.S. health-care sector would be significant.

First, private health insurance currently is provided tax-free by the employer. When an employer pays you a wage, he deducts it, but you pay tax on it. When an employer pays for your health insurance, he deducts it, and you don’t pay tax on it. So, turning cash compensation to health insurance encourages work. With a public option as envisioned by Biden, you would no longer get your employer-provided health insurance. Instead, the employer would presumably give you the money that used to pay for health insurance in cash, cash that would be taxed as ordinary income. After paying that tax, you will have to buy health insurance, the cost of which Biden caps at 8.5 percent of your income. So, the health-insurance tax raises marginal tax rates, and discourages work.

If the public option is attractive and takes over the health-insurance market, then the government will set the price for everything in that space, and presumably start to nickel and dime health-care providers. Almost all global health-care innovation starts in the U.S., so setting profits to zero here would have a major impact on the willingness of entrepreneurs to invest in risky new drugs. If you develop a cure for cancer, but have to negotiate its price with AOC, you probably will not come out ahead.

It is also possible that the public option will be terrible and find few takers. The government, after all, is terrible at just about everything other than being terrible. In that case, the rest of the Biden health agenda will be important. Biden also proposes generous premium tax credits for those who buy private insurance, expands eligibility for these by eliminating their income ceiling, and allows persons age 60 to 64 to buy into Medicare.

3. More Hassett: He dons the eyeshades again to evaluate the former Veep’s energy policy: From the analysis:

My coauthors Casey Mulligan, Tim Fitzgerald, and Cody Kallen and I just published a lengthy analysis of the Biden economic agenda, including a section exploring the impact of the climate policies listed above. We focus on estimating the costs associated with many of those large changes, but do not attempt to quantify the benefits, as the impact on the global climate will depend on the extent to which the U.S. is able to convince other countries to take similar actions. Absent such a commitment, the Biden agenda makes fossil fuels cheaper for everyone else on earth, and creates a massive rebound effect as foreign emitters capture market share for energy-intensive products at the expense of U.S. firms.

We estimate that the electrification of passenger vehicles would require a giant increase in power generation, since gasoline would no longer be the source of energy for passenger miles. Demand for power would rise by about 25 percent. Because 70 percent of power is currently generated by fossil fuels, the plan puts almost the entire grid on the table. If you assume that demand would be met by solar power, which is less efficient than power generated by fossil fuels, then the typical power bill would jump about $1,000 annually — not to mention that generating that much solar power would require a land mass about half the square footage of New England covered with solar panels. Tesla produces amazing cars, but at a high cost. We estimate that the electrification of automobiles would add about $12,000 to the price of each car. And that’s a conservative projection: The effect could be dramatically higher, as batteries rely on rare-earth minerals with a relatively inelastic supply, so higher demand could lead to massive nonlinear price increases. If you double the demand, you might quadruple the price.

Related: Joe Biden is doing his darnedest to kneecap America’s energy industry, says Rich Lowry. From the column:

It’s a funny time to want to kneecap oil and gas. Proven reserves of natural gas in the U.S. are higher than ever before, thanks to American-made technological innovations. A couple of years ago, the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia in crude oil production. In recent years, petroleum and natural-gas exports have been increasing. And, of course, the rise of natural gas has cut U.S. carbon emissions.

This should be considered a national strength to build on, not a national shame to be put on a glide path to extinction. Fossil fuels are a tremendously useful source of energy, and no hype about renewables can obscure that reality.

In 2019, petroleum, natural gas, and coal accounted for 80 percent of overall energy consumption in the United States, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewables made up only 11 percent, and the bulk of that came from biomass (wood and biofuels) and hydroelectric. Despite being heavily subsidized, wind and solar, combined, were responsible for only about a third of our renewable energy.

As Swedish economist Bjorn Lomborg points out, the share of U.S. energy that comes from renewables actually declined over the past century. The rise of fossil fuels was a boon to humanity, a major advance over those old renewables, wood and dung. “Over a century and a half,” Lomborg writes, “we shed our reliance on renewable energy and powered the industrial revolution with fossil fuels.”

4. Robert VerBruggen analyzes the small-business death toll from pathogen: From the article:

Lots of people are losing their favorite small businesses these days. COVID-19 and the related fear and lockdowns punched a massive hole in many industries’ revenue.

Thanks to the glacial pace at which federal agencies operate, though, it will be a long time before we know COVID’s fatality rate for businesses — the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a tally in late 2021, the Census Bureau in 2023. But new research from the Federal Reserve gives us an early look based on various creative measures of business death.

The upshot is that some types of establishments, especially restaurants, are in deep trouble. The silver lining is that because other industries haven’t been hit as hard and the businesses closing are disproportionately small, the closures thus far probably represent a tiny share of total U.S. employment.

There’s nothing unusual about an American business, especially a small business, closing. Every year, we lose about 8.5 percent of all establishments, representing 3.5 percent of total employment. (When we count “establishments” rather than “firms,” we include situations where a company stays in business but closes some locations.) That’s the “creative destruction” that makes capitalism work: When one business can’t operate profitably, it’s replaced by another that can, putting both its employees and its capital to more productive use.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At the New York Post, John Podhoretz lays into the authoritarian Social Media Gods and the groupthink their platforms demand. From the piece:

More important, if a subject violates the sensibilities of the Twitter journalism community, you sure know that too. Immediately. Offense is taken. Fingers are wagged. Instantaneously, the idea that something is a “bad take” becomes universally understood.

Reputations and careers are on the line — as is the possibility of enhancing your reputation and/or career by joining in the groupthink.

Before the social-media age, the groupthink of the old-media oligopoly was transmitted relatively slowly. The network newscasts and the New York Times were released once a day, after all. So the orthodox take on things might take a few days to reach everybody, and in that time, some other reporting, some other opinions, some other takes might break through.

Now all reporting is instantaneous — and the only “correct” way to look at a news story follows with similar instantaneity.

One of the correct ways to look at things, it appears, is to quash them if and when they are politically and ideologically inconvenient.

2. From Substack, Glenn Greenwald publishes the article that The Intercept blocked. From the article:

Individuals included in some of the email chains have confirmed the contents’ authenticity. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bubolinski, has stepped forward on the record to confirm the authenticity of many of the emails and to insist that Hunter along with Joe Biden’s brother Jim were planning on including the former Vice President in at least one deal in China. And GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who appeared in one of the published email chains, appeared to confirm the authenticity as well, though he refused to answer follow-up questions about it.

Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”

But nobody claimed that any such deals had been consummated — so the conclusion that one had not been does not negate the story. Moreover, some texts and emails whose authenticity has not been disputed state that Hunter was adamant that any discussions about the involvement of the Vice President be held only verbally and never put in writing.

Beyond that, the Journal‘s columnist Kimberly Strassel reviewed a stash of documents and “found correspondence corroborates and expands on emails recently published by the New York Post,” including ones where Hunter was insisting that it was his connection to his father that was the greatest asset sought by the Chinese conglomerate with whom they were negotiating. The New York Times on Sunday reached a similar conclusion: while no documents prove that such a deal was consummated, “records produced by Mr. Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy,” and “make clear that Hunter Biden saw the family name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his ‘family’s brand’ as a reason he is valuable to the proposed venture.”

3. Et Tu, Brown?: At The College Fix, Landon Mion-Kennesaw reports on Brown University wokesters demands to remove “Roman” statues because . . . white supremacy. From the article:

The student group at the Ivy League university in Rhode Island has lobbied the school’s Undergraduate Council of Students to support its initiative to remove of statues of Roman Emperors Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius.

Removing the statues “is one step in a broader project of decolonization by confronting Brown’s institutional and ideological legacies of colonialism and white supremacy,” members of the group wrote in The Blognonian, a student publication at the university.

The Undergraduate Council is scheduled to vote on endorsing the initiative on Thursday after it bumped the vote, originally scheduled for October 22.

Jason Carroll, the student body president, would not comment on the proposal yet because the body has yet to hold a vote.

“There is not a resolution and the potential endorsement would be for an on-going student initiative run by Decolonization at Brown,” Carroll said via email to The College Fix.

“It is not that difficult to see how a statue of (Caesar Augustus) would serve as an icon of colonial and imperial domination,” Kelley Tackett, a leader of the decolonization group, said at an October 14 Undergraduate Council meeting.

4. At Gatestone Institute, Benjamin Weinthal writes that when it comes to Iran’s genocidal regime, European countries see no evil. From the piece:

Thirty-six years after Genscher introduced the phrase “critical dialogue” into Europe-Iran diplomacy, it is clear that his policy has failed.

Take the most recent example of the obsolete concept of critical dialogue: Tehran’s murder last month of the innocent champion wrestler Navid Afkari, which yet again thrust into the global spotlight the regime’s utter disregard for basic standards of human rights championed by Europe.

Tehran hanged Afkari for his protest, as part of nation-wide demonstrations, against the fundamental political and financial corruption of Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The failure of critical dialogue is also apparent in Europe’s business ties with Iran. Germany’s eagerness to do business with Iran’s regime has been a constant since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Genscher noted in 1984 that economic relations remained solid during the period 1979-1984. Iran’s 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and its taking hostage of 52 American diplomats and citizens, who were held for 444 days, did nothing to upset German-Iranian relations.

Likewise, Europe works not only to keep Iran’s regime afloat but also, witting or unwittingly, to enhance Tehran’s military apparatus through the provision of dual-use goods (civilian technology that also could have a military purpose).

5. At The Imaginative Conservative, David Deavel commends Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. From the essay:

If, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claimed in his 1970 Nobel Address, “one word of truth outweighs the whole world,” what can a university president’s email of truth do? President Morton Schapiro of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has not faced down Critical Theory as a whole, but he has certainly faced down some of its student shock troops. Northwestern’s campus police force, a private agency with a mutual cooperation agreement with the Evanston Police, has full police power both on campus and in the neighboring area. Students in a group called Northwestern University Community Not Cops (NUCNC) began protesting on October 12 to abolish the campus police force. By October 17 they and other outside agitators had begun to vandalize parts of the campus, spray painting anti-police messages and even setting fire to banners hung by the university, and block traffic around the university in residential areas. A group of them even surrounded President Schapiro’s house and chanted “f —  you Morty” and “piggy Morty.”

Rather than truckle to these budding totalitarians, President Schapiro sent a campus-wide email that acknowledged that concerns about injustices and policing in our country are real. But he also called the bluff of those claiming that such mob behaviors are necessary to get the attention of Northwestern: “While the protesters claim that they are just trying to get our attention, that is simply not true. Several administrators — including our Provost, Deans, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Presidents for Research and Student Affairs — have held numerous discussions with concerned students, faculty and staff, and I am participating in a community dialogue tomorrow evening that was scheduled weeks ago.”

He affirmed that the pursuit of truth on Northwestern’s campus was not to be impeded by the desires for social justice: “Northwestern firmly supports vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas — abiding principles that are fundamental for our University. We encourage members of our community to find meaningful ways to get involved and advocate for causes they believe in — and to do so safely and peacefully.” The protesters’ actions were not noble cries for help but instead “vile” actions: “To those protesters and their supporters who justify such actions, I ask you to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that this isn’t actually ‘speaking truth to power’ or furthering your cause. It is an abomination and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

6. At Quillette, Aaron Sarin explores Red China’s global efforts to control ethnic Chinese in other nations. From the beginning of the piece:

The Communist Party has begun expanding the concept of the nation, attempting to create a new type of global entity. But back home, large numbers of people within the country’s borders no longer see themselves as Chinese at all. From Kashgar to Causeway Bay, millions of citizens are beginning to define themselves in direct opposition to the status that appears on their passports. Today we find that the very notion of a “Chinese” identity is being alternately stretched and compressed, warped and concertinaed, and our old classificatory grid provides us with no meaningful guide.

First, the expansion. The Chinese authorities are looking to win recruits to their hyper-nationalist cause, and so Party propaganda now preaches a new China — a China that includes not only the 1.4 billion citizens living within the country’s borders, but also the huaqiao (Chinese citizens living overseas) and the huaren (ethnic Chinese with foreign citizenship). “The unity of Chinese at home requires the unity of the sons and daughters of Chinese abroad,” according to a CCP teaching manual for United Front cadres. The Party hopes that by appealing to these vast groups, it can “awaken their ethnic consciousness,” in the semi-mystical words of He Yafei, deputy chief of the Party-run Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO).

And so the huaqiao and the huaren are told that their blood connects them to the motherland, no matter what it might say on their passports. The message is a loud one: Beijing now enjoys total control of virtually all Chinese-language media in Australia, as well as most Chinese community and professional associations in Western Europe and the United States. Future generations are being recruited too, at summer camps for young Chinese organised by the OCAO. We are witnessing the attempt to construct a global identity — one that straddles all borders, proudly representing Beijing on every continent.

The Communist Party has its eye on new land as well as new citizens. This is most obvious in the case of Taiwan, which has spent decades under threat of invasion from the mainland. But Beijing has also hinted at long-term plans to annex other neighbours. In 2017, Xi Jinping told Donald Trump that the Korean peninsula was formerly part of China — a dubious claim at best, but one that we are likely to hear again in the coming years. The invention of history has always come naturally to the Communist Party, and on occasion this habit is deployed for geopolitical purposes. There is a good chance that Xi was preparing the ground for future territorial claims. “A country can never invade itself,” explains sinologist John Fitzgerald. “China’s leaders believe that by claiming to be recovering ‘lost’ territories they can never be accused of invading anyone.”

7. Carumba! Or is it Begorrah?: At Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty has the story of just-resigned wanna-Chicana professor Kelly Kean Sharp. From the beginning of the article:

Another week, another unmasking of a white professor allegedly posing as a person of color: this time it’s Kelly Kean Sharp, a scholar of African American history who resigned abruptly Tuesday from her assistant professorship at Furman University.

Like other apparent racial fraudsters before her, Sharp was outed by an anonymous post on Medium. The writer of the post identifies him or herself as having “distantly” known Sharp when she was graduate student at the University of California, Davis. Sharp had never publicly identified as Latinx back then, the writer said, so they were recently puzzled to learn that Sharp had since started referring to herself as Chicana, including on her now-private Twitter profile. According to screenshots included in the post, Sharp has tweeted about her abuela, or grandmother, from Mexico, and posted elsewhere about her “abuela who came to the U.S. during WWII who worked hard so I could become a teacher.”

The writer said they started talking to others who knew Sharp, and these colleagues were similarly “confused.” Some then allegedly asked Sharp about the “newfound identity,” and Sharp allegedly said her grandmother was originally from Mexico. Yet when the scholars looked into that explanation, “we found that Kelly had no grandparents who were born outside of the U.S. or had Hispanic names.”

A Dios

Your prayers for Baby Francesca have been deeply appreciated. Please do send some more her way. And let us depart this final missive before this most consequential election that there is truth to the adage, ascribed to Bismarck, that God protects fools, drunks, and the United States of America. If He needs encouragement to do just that by moving hearts and minds to preclude the election of the fool (Delaware Division) to preserve the latter, then do encourage Him. Prayerfully.

God Bless These United States,

Jack Fowler, who will promise to resume the Baseballery feature in the ensuing edition of the WJ, but who will accept admonishments for its absence in this number if sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. Big Stuff?

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Nope. No way. You’re never gonna get my love.

Maybe not America’s either.

Quite the debate! Good thing for “The Big Guy” — he of Delaware-lost laptop fame — that the shebang didn’t last another half hour: The gas needle was hitting “E.” Maybe that’s what happens when you rely on wind power? Where’s fossil fuel when you need it?! Analysis of how the night went, and its likely ensuing political impact, is to be found below in the cornucopia of links.

But do consider first Jack Crowe’s piece calling out the MSM for its rush to claim no there there when it comes to the abandoned laptop and its explosive contents, which imply the mansion-owning government pensioner with the beachfront home could very well have taken regular, healthy cuts of Sonny Boy’s lucrative dad-and-uncle-involved overseas deals. From the piece:

Democratic partisans hoping desperately that the rapidly unfolding story of Biden family corruption will disappear before the election thought they had found their answer in the form of a Wall Street Journal report published late Thursday night.

The report is cautiously written and appears to accurately reflect what we currently know about Hunter Biden’s attempts to capitalize on his family name abroad. But it was quickly presented as a “debunking” of a Journal opinion column written by Kimberly Strassel. The column lays out in great detail recent claims by a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s named Tony Bobulinski, who came forward this week to confirm the authenticity of email exchanges between Hunter, his business partners, and representatives of the politically connected Chinese energy firm CEFC.

In one email, on which Bobulinski is listed as a recipient, Biden business partner James Gilliar lays out the terms of a proposed joint investment venture with CEFC in which James and Hunter Biden and their business partners would seek out investment opportunities for the Chinese in the U.S.

The email reads: “10 held by H for the big guy?”

According to Bobulinski, “the big guy” is none other than Joe Biden and “10” refers to a ten-percent equity stake in the venture that would be held by Hunter Biden. (It is worth noting that Biden did not deny being “the big guy” or question the authenticity of the emails when pressed by President Trump during Thursday night’s debate.)

If you thought beak-wetting was limited to The Godfather: Part II, well, dispel yourself of such naivety, because The Big Guy may have a pitch-black belt in such unholy tithing. Sicily’s got nothing on Wilmington!

Now, about the many links below, get thee to them!

Editorials

1. We condemn the media’s shameful failure to report on the Joe/Hunter Biden debacle. From the editorial:

There is more and more reason to credit the veracity of those emails, or at a minimum, suggest that they warrant more thorough investigation. We have what appears to be a signed receipt from the computer repair shop in Delaware, demonstrating that Hunter’s laptop and hard drive were obtained legally. We know that the laptop in question is being held in connection to an FBI money-laundering investigation. The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, says that the emails in questions aren’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign and the FBI hasn’t contradicted him.

Yet, the managing editor of one of the nation’s largest publicly funded media organization believes emails possibly implicating a presidential frontrunner in having benefitted from deals involving his shady son who was leveraging the family name and proximity to power for millions are nothing but a distraction. Nobody would apply that standard to stories about influence-peddling, foreign contacts, or foreign financial interests on the part of Donald Trump’s family — nor should they. To the contrary, not only has the press properly treated Trump family business interests as newsworthy, they have frequently disregarded even the most minimal journalistic standards to issue breathless reports about them.

2. The government’s anti-trust case against Google, no matter its nefarious ways, is weak. From the editorial:

But is this a good suit, one that serves the country’s best interests? That is less clear, especially if the government eventually does pursue drastic measures such as a breakup.

American antitrust laws are broadly written, and the prevailing legal standards have changed over the years. The dominant and most economically sensible approach to enforcing these laws, however, remains the one that Robert Bork laid out in the 1970s: “Anticompetitive” behavior becomes a problem when it harms consumer welfare. In our view, officials should not pursue antitrust actions unless they can compellingly show a company is, in fact, harming consumers — not just that it is doing everything it can to attract consumers to its product at the expense of the competition.

Is it harmful to consumers for Google to pay other companies to feature its search engine as the default? That’s a hard case to make, because it’s generally easy for those who prefer other search engines to change the default, as Google and the alternative engines are all free and switching can be achieved in a few clicks; because these lucrative arrangements help to subsidize the devices consumers use; and because most users would probably choose Google anyhow, if its runaway success over the past two decades is any guide.

A Tsunami (Don’t Worry, Unless You Are a Lefty, It’s the Safe Kind) of Conservative Brilliance Is Ready to Wash Over You

1. Debate Reax: Victor Davis Hanson says Trump won. Bigly. From the Corner post:

There was a low bar for Joe Biden in the first debate, given his cognitive challenges. Because he exceeded that pessimism, he won momentum.

In opposite fashion, there was similarly an expectation that a disruptive Donald Trump would turn off the audience by the sort of interruptions and bullying that characterized the first debate.

He did not do that. He instead let a cocky Biden sound off, and thus more or less tie himself into knots on a host of topics, but most critically on gas and oil. So likewise Trump will gain momentum by exceeding those prognoses.

But far more importantly, the back-and-forth repartee will not matter other than Trump went toe to toe, but in a tough, dignified manner and beat Biden on points. Biden did not go blank — although he seemed to come close, often especially in the last tw0 minutes. Had the debate gone another 30 minutes, his occasional lapses could have become chronic.

What instead counts most are the days after.  The debate take-aways, the news clips, the post facto fact checks, and the soundbites to be used in ads over the next ten days all favor Trump. In this regard, Biden did poorly and will suffer continual bleeding in the swing states.

We will know that because by the weekend Biden will be out of his basement and trying to reboot his campaign and actually be forced to campaign.

So we are going to hear over the next week that Biden simply denied the factual evidence of the Hunter Biden laptop computer, the emails, the cell phones, and the testimonies from some of the relevant players as a concocted smear, a Russian disinformation attack. That denial is clearly a lie. It is absolutely unsupportable. And Biden will have to drop that false claim.

2. More Reax: Andrew McCarthy says the win will only get bigger post-debate. From the piece:

President Trump would be in much better shape right now if he’d campaigned and debated like the guy who showed up at last night’s debate. To use a boxing analogy, I think he won the match on points, but the margin gets better for him in the post-mortem. Former vice president Biden said some truly indefensible things. Starting this morning and continuing for the next ten days, Republicans will be whistling through the groove-yard of forgotten favorite video clips . . . or, better, GOP favorites that Biden would like to forget.

In fact, the president wasted no time: He had a killer montage up on Twitter before midnight.

Worst for Biden are the energy issues.

First, there is the true thing Biden said that his camp is now desperately trying to walk back or restate: He wants to get rid of fossil fuels, in particular oil. “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” he said. To put an exclamation point on it, he agreed with Trump that this “is a big statement.” Shortly after the debate, just how big this statement was began to sink in, so Biden went into damage control mode. He insisted he had just been talking about “getting rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.” But that was not true. As the several Biden and Kamala Harris statements in Trump’s tweet demonstrate, the Democratic ticket made their jihad against fossil fuels clear and unqualified, time and again.

Second, and relatedly, there is the false thing that Biden said: He claimed he had never indicated he would ban fracking. To the contrary, he has said he’d get rid of fracking several times; and Kamala Harris — before she started insisting, with a straight face, that Biden had been “very clear” that he would not ban fracking — was herself emphatic in proclaiming the dogmatic Democratic Party position: “There’s no question, I’m in favor of banning fracking.”

3. Still More Reax: Jim Geraghty sees Joe Biden as the guy who wants everything both ways. From the piece:

I do worry that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will get worse as the winter months arrive. People will spend more time indoors, increasing their close contact, and if infected, spread it to others in their household. People are going to have a tough time resisting getting together with relatives for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The good news is that your odds of surviving an infection are better than ever: “Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.”

Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed’s chief adviser, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, told ABC News this week that “It’s not a certainty, but the plan — and I feel pretty confident — should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunized in the U.S.” What’s more, “Moderna and Pfizer are likely to be the first to apply for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, possibly as soon as November or December. If a vaccine is authorized before the end of the year, Slaoui said approximately 20 to 40 million doses of it will be stockpiled and ready for distribution for a limited population.”

First doses for the most vulnerable by the end of the year, and everybody’s safe by June. The end is in sight, people. Between the improved treatments and the pace of vaccine development, we’re almost through with this thing; we just need to be smart and careful for the next few months.

But last night, Biden went well beyond any measure of reasonable wariness and declared, “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year.” As of last night, there were 70 days left in this year. That comes out to 2,857 deaths per day, every day, from now until January 1. Our daily rate of deaths has been around 1,000 — generally below it — since late August. If we lost 900 souls a day for the rest of the year, that would add up to 63,000 additional deaths.

The truth is bad enough, there’s no need for Biden to veer into the dire scaremongering. (Right now in the comments section, some regular readers are stunned that I, of all writers, could find someone else’s assessment to be fearmongering.)

4. Kyle Smith shares the revelations from William Voegli’s Claremont Review of Books essay on a very strange but informative Joe Biden interview with the Washington Post from days of yore. From the piece:

“Let me show you my favorite picture of her,” he told Kitty Kelley, holding up a picture of Neilia in a bikini. “She had the best body of any woman I ever saw. She looks better than a Playboy bunny, doesn’t she?” He also said Neilia was a conservative Republican when they met but became a Democrat and that “at first she stayed at home with the kids while I campaigned but that didn’t work out because I’d come back too tired to talk to her. I might satisfy her in bed but I didn’t have much time for anything else.” He exclaimed, “Neilia was my very best friend, my greatest ally, my sensuous lover. The longer we lived together the more we enjoyed everything from sex to sports. Most guys don’t really know what I lost because they never knew what I had. Our marriage was sensational.” He added, “I want to find a woman to adore me again.”

Another weird detail is that Biden referred to Neilia as “my beautiful millionaire wife.” Biden brings up money repeatedly: Kelley alludes to “the temptation to sell out to big business or big labor for financial help” because Biden admitted “that more than once he was tempted to compromise to get campaign money.” Biden added, “I probably would have if it hadn’t been for the ramrod character of my Scotch Presbyterian wife.” He had been in office for only eight months before he started complaining about being underpaid. “I don’t know about the rest of you but I am worth a lot more than my salary of $42,500 a year in this body. It seems to me that we should flat out tell the American people we are worth our salt,” he said on the Senate floor. ($42,500 is about $249,000 in today’s dollars. Biden was 30 when he made these remarks.) Biden’s evident belief that he deserves to be wealthy stood out in a 2008 New York Times story that explained how a man living on a public servant’s salary was able to live like a Bourbon king: “Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping,” the Times explained, and also rich businessmen filtered their support of Biden through other means: “the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home.” He sold the house he had bought in 1975 for top dollar to — get this — the vice-chairman of MBNA, who gave Biden $1.2 million for it. MBNA has showed its gratitude to Biden’s support in a number of ways: by giving over $200,000 to his various campaigns, by hiring Hunter Biden, by flying Biden and his wife to a retreat in Maine, etc. Mother Jones dubbed Biden “the senator from MBNA.”

RELATED: Find the Voegli CRB essay here (but you may need a subscription).

5. Jack Butler, travel reporter wanabe, follows John Kasich’s long trip from fiscal-conservative champion to All American blowhard. From the article:

Despite these controversies, Kasich managed to maintain a superficially strong political brand. He balanced Ohio’s budget on the backs of the state’s municipalities, and won reelection in 2014. Then, his White House ambitions cropped up again. On paper, he was a contender: the successful governor of a swing state with ample experience in public service and Midwestern roots. But for whatever reason, he chose John Weaver to mastermind his 2016 campaign. Weaver’s bailiwick has been Republican candidates whose greatest interest seems to be criticizing other Republicans. In 2012, Weaver’s candidate was former Utah governor John Huntsman Jr.; in 2016, it was Kasich. Right at the launch of Kasich’s campaign, he made hay of his reported “refusal to criticize Hillary Clinton” during the Republican primaries, and he stuck to the so-called moderate lane for the rest of the race.

To be sure, the Republican Party is a big tent; there are no rules against moderates winning primaries. But during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was rather conspicuously crowding that tent. There were confusing ideological signals coming from the left at the time; though horrified by Trump, many in the media loved the ratings boost he generated, and liberal partisans hoped he’d win the nomination, thinking him an easy opponent. Yet for all the Republicans Kasich was willing to criticize at the time, he was curiously soft on Trump. And while he avoided direct criticism of Trump in mawkish and grating performances during the primary debates, he stayed in the race to its end despite winning only his home state of Ohio.

Coincidentally, the 2016 Republican National Convention was also in Ohio. Perhaps buoyed by this fact, Kasich persisted despite pleas from Texas senator Ted Cruz, the party’s last best hope of heading off Trump, to drop out and make it a two-man race. He ended up exiting the race only after Cruz lost the Indiana primary and did the same. Back when Cruz still had a chance to win the nomination, Kasich had reportedly told the senator that he would contest the nomination all the way to the convention; instead, he didn’t even attend. He’d effectively played the spoiler candidate, preventing consolidation of the non-Trump vote behind Cruz and going back on his word in the process. When taking stock of his current prominence as a Republican opponent of Trump, one can hardly miss the irony.

6. Dan McLaughlin sloshes through the hogwash of Joe Biden’s proposed court-packing commission. From the analysis:

Even in the cosseted world of the Biden campaign — no follow-up from Wallace, no questions on Court-packing at Biden’s NBC town hall, no public appearances by Biden for days on end — this was unsustainable, so in a CBS News interview released this morning, Biden promised . . . a bipartisan commission to kick the can down the road for the first six months of his term. The commission would “come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system . . . . It’s not about Court-packing. . . . There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing. . . . It is a live ball.”

This is a transparent dodge. Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, and eight as the vice president, and this is his third presidential campaign. He was the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, chairing it for six. He has given speeches about the dangers of Court-packing. Unless Biden’s mental state has declined worse than we think, there is not a chance in the world that he requires a commission to tell him what to think on this issue. The reality is that Biden is terrified of his radical base, and lacks the guts to take a stand in public. That bodes poorly for his presidency across the board.

7. Rich Lowry plows into the liberal conspiracy that under every MyPillow.com lurks a Russian agent. From the column:

Hillary Clinton didn’t blow on her own a winnable election in 2016; she was undone by a Kremlin conspiracy.

Trump hasn’t said ridiculous things about Vladimir Putin because he has wildly unrealistic expectations of being able to cut a deal with him and bristles at saying whatever the media and establishment want him to say; he’s controlled by Moscow.

We aren’t a bitterly divided country, as we’ve been through much of our history; the Russians are “sowing divisions.”

And, finally, a Delaware computer repairman didn’t come into possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop through strange happenstance; it was faked and planted by the Russians.

Oddly, the Left had a relatively indulgent attitude toward Russia when it was one of the world’s two superpowers, armed to the teeth, engaged in nuclear brinkmanship with the U.S., in control of a swath of Europe, including half of Germany, and devoted to spreading revolution around the globe. But it is obsessed with Russia now that the country has a GDP smaller than Italy’s and some hackers and poorly trafficked websites spreading bad information.

This fixation drives the ridiculous magnification of small-time pro-Russia players and the belief that the Russians have a hand in nearly every significant American event.

8. The great James L. Buckley, the Apostle of Federalism, laments Congress’s abandonment of its duties as presented in the Constitution. From the essay:

So Congress has fallen into the habit of delegating ever more essentially legislative details to executive agencies that in turn produce the detailed regulations that give congressionally enacted laws their effect. In doing so, the agencies tend to resolve statutory ambiguities in ways that will meet their own objectives, which may or may not coincide with those Congress had in mind.

Over time, the effect of all of this has been the creation of an extra-constitutional administrative state that both writes and administers the rules that now govern ever wider areas of American life. Procedures are in place that are intended to subject regulations to scrutiny before they can take effect. But the administrative state can sidestep them by simply writing letters, as it did recently when it advised schools that boys must be allowed to use girls’ bathrooms if they think of themselves as girls. And the administrative state gets away with such excesses because they have become so common in current practice that Congress too rarely raises any objections.

So here we are today. Federalism is just a memory and Congress’s abdications of its own responsibilities have given us an expanding administrative state whose non-elected officials govern by regulatory fiat. As I noted in my book, an effective federalism is easily restored. All that is required is for Congress to strip the grants of federal directives telling the states how the money is to be used. This simple reform would once again allow accountable state and local officials rather than distant bureaucrats to determine how best to meet state and local needs. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far failed to follow my advice.

Restoring the Constitution’s allocation of governmental powers, however, will be a far more difficult task. Over the past generation and more, our educators have abdicated their responsibility to ground their students in the fundamentals of the American experience. As a result, far too many of our people now suffer from a peculiar form of historical amnesia.

9. Melissa Langsam Braunstein reports on the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ugly stone-busting of Orthodox Jews. From the article:

It’s clear that too much power has been ceded to Governor Cuomo. Not only have state legislators provided the governor with “nearly unchecked power,” but the media have too. Events now follow an all-too-familiar script. Consider, for example, the story surrounding the Satmar Hasidic wedding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Monday night. Governor Cuomo said something, reporters accepted it, and a negative narrative about New York’s Orthodox Jews took hold.

If you read or watch the New York Times, The Hill, New York’s NBC 4, ABC News, the Daily Beast, the Miami Herald, Britain’s Daily Mail, Australia’s Business Insider or countless other outlets, you may have heard “that upwards of 10,000 people were expected to attend” the wedding of the Grand Rebbe’s grandson. However, there are many questions that should have been asked — and indeed appear to have gone unasked — before Cuomo publicly blasted New York’s Satmar Hasidic community, and before the international media broadcast the story far and wide.

To recap, on Saturday, while Orthodox Jews were unplugged for the Sabbath, Cuomo told the media, “We received a suggestion that [an enormous wedding] was happening. We did an investigation and found that it was likely true.”

While some unquestioningly accept the governor’s remarks, I, for one, would like to know more about this investigation and the related activities.

10. Isaac Schorr sees Max Boot for the ChiCom stooge that he is. From the piece:

It is when Boot, who never much concerned himself with the plight of the unborn or pro-growth economic policies sheds his identity as a third-wave neoconservative — the one that made him relevant — that he is at his most pathetic, however. The Boot who championed an assertive American foreign policy — not only because he believed it to be practical, but because he believed it to be just — is gone, replaced by one who devotes all of his moral energy toward opposing a singular political figure. His most recent article is one of the more embarrassing examples.

“China is winning and America is losing” their respective battles with the coronavirus because the former is “following the science” while the latter is “fighting it” per Boot. And Boot has the numbers to back it up! America has had over 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 219,000 Americans have died from the novel disease — sobering statistics to be sure. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the very first country to be hit by COVID-19, reports only 91,000 total cases and, get this, 4,700 deaths, numbers that Boot is pleased to be able to parrot. That the PRC is notoriously opaque about what happens inside of it (if the Chinese told Boot no one died at Tiananmen, would he believe them?) and is presently committing a genocide against its Uyghur population is of little interest to Boot, who concedes that the numbers may not be “entirely accurate.” “But then, neither are ours” shrugs Boot, transforming into a disciple of Trump-esque “our country does plenty of killing also” moral equivalence (for an idea of just how skewed China’s self-reported numbers are, take a look at this report from Derek Scissors at the American Enterprise Institute.)

Boot quickly glosses over the PRC’s active effort to suppress news of COVID-19’s spread in such a manner that allowed it to travel worldwide, devoting only a half sentence to this before lauding it for “using tools such as lockdowns, social distancing, contact tracing, mask-wearing and isolation of patients.” I doubt that Boot would be at all pleased if Trump had adopted the more stringent practices of the CCP, such as arresting those who broke 40-day mandatory quarantines. No, in fact I’m quite sure that he would be shrieking that fascism had arrived in America.

11. Alexandra DeSanctis shares a gorgeous reflection on her dad and his influence in her life. From the piece:

Though he always worked hard, he thought it was equally important to make time for his family. He was there for nearly every one of my brother’s Little League games, and he sat through every one of my ballet recitals (although I’m told he sometimes fell asleep during the parts I wasn’t in). When he spent a few years traveling to and from Providence, Rhode Island, for business, we often went with him, staying a week at a time in a hotel as my mom homeschooled us, so we could be together as a family. He made sure that he — that we — would always prioritize the things that mattered most.

The older I get, the more I realize that my father chose to be a lawyer not out of ambition, but for us, so that we would be able to have the type of life he thought would be best for us, so we wouldn’t have to worry about having a good home, or clothes, or food. He viewed his career not as a means of personal satisfaction or glorification but as a means of providing for my brother and me the sort of education that would increase our knowledge and our ability to pursue our goals — and an education that would help us understand and internalize our Catholic faith. Though he loved history and writing, and likely would have been happy and fulfilled working as a professor, he placed his desire for our best interests above his own.

In large part because of those choices my father made, my mother was able to stay home with my brother and me, even homeschooling us for several years, which was an immense blessing that enabled me to grow in my faith from a very young age. Later, I attended a Catholic school that instilled in me a deeper understanding of what it means to be Catholic — an understanding that explains how, as an adult, I freely choose to retain and practice the faith into which I was born. That understanding informs my personal life and my work today and leads me to view my career not as a pursuit of ambition but as an answer to a call.

12. More Dan McLaughlin: He spanks the MSM flying monkeys who immediately came to the defense of Zoom-onanist Jeffrey Toobin. From the piece:

Scaachi Koul of BuzzFeed wrote a column on how “Jeffrey Toobin Can’t Be The Only Person Masturbating On Work Zoom Calls.” “I mean, who among us, you know?” she asked. Jonathan Zimmerman of the New York Daily News asked: “Why the resolute focus on this celebrity? The answer has to do with his particular transgression, of course. . . . News flash: Toobin masturbates. But I’m guessing that you do the same, dear reader. Maybe you should stop feeling weird and guilty about that. Then we can all stop making fun of Jeffrey Toobin.”

Then there were the people who just could not bear the loss of Toobin right now. His CNN colleagues Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, who glory in every foible and scandal over at Fox News, bemoaned that Toobin “has been sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election. The reason: He exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues in what he says was an accident. . . . A spokesperson for CNN said ‘Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.’. . . Ordinarily Toobin would be busy covering a controversial Supreme Court confirmation and an election that could end up being challenged on legal grounds.” While it is difficult to report fairly on a story involving your own co-workers, Stelter and Darcy could not spare even a syllable of sympathy for the women exposed to Toobin’s behavior.

13. More Andy McCarthy: He drop kicks the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats who ducked a vote on SCOTUS nominee Amy Barrett. From the piece:

The boycott was a pointless gesture because Republicans had the votes necessary to move Judge Barrett’s nomination forward. It was a radical break with democratic norms, by which we register dissent by voting nay, not by picking up our ball and going home like poorly raised children. Having crossed yet another Rubicon, Democrats will eventually learn, at some point when it really costs them (as has their eradication of the filibuster in confirmations), that what goes around comes around. And practically speaking, the boycott was self-destructive, coming only after the nominee had impressed Americans for two days with her intellect, poise, and good nature. Today, no one much missed them at a committee vote that was a foregone conclusion. Everyone, however, was watching on the two days when the Democrats deigned to show up, and Barrett reduced them to an intramural competition for coveted Ass-Clown of the Year honors.

Therein lies a telling difference between the two parties. To win, Republicans must be sound in pursuing their strategies because the media oppose them at every turn. They are thus fortunate to be led by a superb tactician, Senator Mitch McConnell. Democrats, by contrast, are cheered on by the media in pursuing their strategies, regardless of whether they are sharp or daft. They are thus spared the criticism that disciplines politicians to plan carefully.

If you’re the Democrats, and you’re willing to employ such extreme measures as boycotting hearings to try to stop Barrett, then the time to boycott is when she testifies. The point would be to prevent her from impressing the country with her temperament and legal acumen. By such a ploy, it might have been possible to delay the hearing — and delays that could defer a final vote on Barrett until after Election Day are Democrats’ only realistic shot at killing it.

14. Even More Andy: The case is made for combatting Twitter’s censorship. From the analysis:

No one sensible is claiming that Twitter’s partisan censorship is illegal. Twitter is not the government; it is a private actor. It need not enable free speech. It is perfectly free to be openly progressive in its politics, and to suppress conservative or Republican viewpoints — just as, say, The New Republic is. Twitter has not committed a legal wrong by suppressing a politically damaging story in order to help Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

But when we talk about denying Section 230 immunity, we are not talking about penalizing Twitter. Section 230 immunity is a legal privilege to be earned by compliance with the attendant conditions. If an entity fails to comply, that just means it does not get the privilege; it does not mean the entity is being denied a right or being punished.

To be a mere interactive computer service entitled to immunity from speaker/publisher liability, a platform must refrain from publishing activity — which includes suppressing one point of view while promoting its competitor. Twitter is well within its rights to censor its partisan adversaries; but in doing so, it forfeits the legal privilege that is available only to interactive computer services that do not censor on political or ideological grounds.

To analogize, think of a non-profit corporation. If the non-profit wants immunity from taxation, which is a benefit Congress has prescribed in Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, then it must refrain from supporting political candidates. If the non-profit engaged in that kind of political activism, then it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a single candidate or a steady stream of them. Refraining from all such support is the condition. If the non-profit fails to meet the condition, it has no claim on the benefit, period. That does not mean it is wrong for the non-profit to support candidates, much less that it must stop doing so or stop doing business. It just means that, by supporting a candidate, it fails to comply with the statutory condition and therefore no longer qualifies for the benefit.

15. Michael Johns exposes the Iran Lobby operating here. From the piece:

Yet there is still an American consensus on what the Iranian regime was and is. A Gallup poll released March 3 found that no country is held in as much contempt by Americans as Iran. Among those polled, an astonishing 88 percent have a “very” or “mostly” unfavorable view of the country, a negative impression exceeding even that of Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian North Korea. A 2019 poll also reflected this consensus: 93 percent of Americans designated the Iranian regime’s development of nuclear weapons as a “critical” or “important” threat, and 90 percent placed Iran’s military power as a threat rising to those same categories of urgency. It is true that Americans have reasonable differences on what to do about the Iranian regime’s threatening militancy and sponsorship of terror. But it matters that they do not disagree on the present nature of the regime itself.

Thus one might think that the possibility of the Iranian regime’s having companionable spokesmen in American politics — or, even more outrageously, having a whole Washington, D.C.-based organization with a history of echoing the regime’s positions on the most crucial components of U.S.-Iranian relations — would rightfully concern most Americans. Yet that appears to be precisely what is taking place.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) was founded in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-born dual citizen of Iran and Sweden, former employee at the Swedish mission to the United Nations, and a vocal champion of President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear agreement. Parsi has consistently diminished the magnitude of the threat of the Iranian regime while simultaneously blaming most of the Middle East’s troubles on U.S. policies in the region.

16. Daniel Mahoney scores the Wokester totalitarians on the campuses of Harvard and Middlebury. From the piece:

So where does Professor Schaub’s fault lie, according to her accuser, government major Joshua Conde? Cherry-picking passages from Schaub’s acute and sensitive analyses and offering them as though they revealed a tainted mind and soul, Conde calls her words “ignorant, and deeply concerning” if not “outright bigoted.” His principal “evidence” is a snippet from a splendid article, “America at Bat” from National Affairs (Winter 2010), which in passing laments the decline of black interest and participation in baseball, our once national sport. Writing from personal as well as common experience, Schaub notes that “the experience of things baseball is a legacy from fathers to sons (and sometimes daughters).” She then offers, in an admittedly speculative aside, her “strong hunch” that “the declining interest and involvement in baseball is a consequence of the absence of fathers in the black community,” since “80% of African-American children are raised without a father in the home.” There is nothing intrinsically “ignorant” or racist about this documented fact, nor in bringing it into the discussion, which she does with manifest regret. If it is verboten to mention such disturbing realities, then our civic and intellectual life will suffer terribly. Ignoring such facts and silencing those who bring them to bear in a relevant manner upon problems of common concern is the antithesis of healthy intellectual and civic life.

Fortunately, Harvard University has made no move to act upon Mr. Conde’s demand. Mr. Conde, a very young man (class of ’22), further demanded that Harvard abstain from hiring others “with similar unacceptable views.” This is not the voice of genuine liberalism or the search for truth. It is peremptory, coercive, and committed to closing off discussions before they begin. Mr. Conde tells us that he doesn’t want to feel “uncomfortable.” But the disinterested pursuit of truth, liberal inquiry, and civic debate itself will at times make us feel uncomfortable. That is all to the good.

Capital Matters

1. Socialism kills. Steve Hanke watches Venezuela’s state-owned oil monster circle the drain, and calls for extreme unction. From the outset of the piece:

Venezuela is in the throes of an unprecedented economic collapse. Oil, Venezuela’s lifeblood, is being mismanaged by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the country’s state-owned oil company. Faced with dwindling revenue from PDVSA, the government has relied on its central bank to finance public expenditures. To satisfy these demands, the Banco Central de Venezuela has turned on the printing presses, and, as night follows day, hyperinflation has reared its ugly head again.

In total, there have only been 62 episodes of hyperinflation in history. Venezuela, along with Lebanon, is one of only two countries currently experiencing hyperinflation. Today, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is 2,275 percent per year, the highest in the world.

How could this be? After all, Venezuela has the largest proven crude-oil reserves in the world. At 303.81 billion barrels, they are larger even than Saudi Arabia’s, which stand at 258.6 billion barrels. Considering the extent of the country’s resources, it might strike most people as surprising that Venezuela’s hyperinflation is linked to the mismanagement of PDVSA, a state-owned enterprise (SOE). But PDVSA dominates the Venezuelan economy and accounts for 99 percent of Venezuela’s foreign-exchange earnings. In a sense, PDVSA is the Venezuelan economy, and even by SOE standards, the company is grossly mismanaged.

2. Arthur Herman argues there is a national-security crisis looming over that essential item, the semiconductor. From the article:

Thirty years ago more than one third of all microchips made around the world came out of the American companies that gave Silicon Valley its name (silicon being the key ingredient in manufacturing microchips containing billions of microscopic transistors). Today that number has slipped to only 12 percent — while China is projected to dominate global semiconductor production by 2030. Americans still lead in terms of semiconductor design and innovation. But from the standpoint of making sure the chips we rely on every day, including our Defense Department, are made safely and securely, our national security and economic future hangs in the balance.

Fortunately, there’s a bill pending in the Senate, cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Mark Warner (D., Va.) that addresses some of these concerns for restoring American leadership. Dubbed the CHIPS for America Act, the bill provides an income-tax credit for semiconductor equipment or chip-manufacturing-facility (fab) investment through 2026. The bill also calls for creation of a “Manufacturing USA” institute for semiconductor manufacturing as well as a national semiconductor strategy.

But much more needs to be done. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group and the Semiconductor Industry Association calls for funding up to 19 new fabs over the next decade (right now we have 70). The association would like to see a $50 billion federal investment which it forecasts will create more than 70,000 high-paying jobs and would position the U.S. to capture a quarter of the world’s growing chip production — compared to just 6 percent if Washington does nothing.

3. Biden’s tax plan, says Kevin Williamson, is swill. From the piece:

Who actually ends up paying business taxes is a hot topic in economics, and it gets pretty complicated pretty quickly. To take one example, most economists agree that at least some of the payroll taxes that are in theory paid by employers end up being paid by employees, whose wages are reduced in order to offset the expense of the tax. Inevitably, that kind of cost-shifting falls most heavily upon low-wage employees, who, by definition, have relatively little power in the market. (That’s why they don’t get paid very much.) That’s not the case for, say, LeBron James or a top-flight AI nerd coming out of Stanford.

Just as individual employees may have more or less ability to resist efforts at passing tax costs along to them, so do companies. Many people assume that businesses simply raise prices to pass tax costs along to consumers, but that’s not really true: Businesses such as Walmart and McDonald’s have very price-sensitive customers, and if they raise their prices those customers will go somewhere else. Rolex and Tesla probably can raise their prices pretty easily, as can utility companies and, in many American cities and suburbs, landlords. Starbucks and Costco can’t.

Consumers are not the only parties to whom businesses can pass on their costs. Many businesses do that with their employees, as noted above, but they also do it with other businesses. Walmart may not be able to increase what it charges consumers for laundry detergent and flip-flops, but it can probably decrease what it pays its vendors for laundry detergent and flip-flops, or alter the terms of payment in ways that suit its interests. Because so many companies rely on Walmart for a very large share of their sales, the big retailer has shown itself willing and able to slap around some blue-chip corporate household names. The same is true of Amazon. And when those firms end up having to pay Walmart’s taxes, they do the same thing Walmart does — they look for someone to whom they can pass along the expense: workers, customers, and other businesses. And so it goes, on and on.

4. Paul Krugman is the gift that keeps on giving. Casey Mulligan reviews a summer of lefty fish-mongering. From the commentary:

Throughout the summer of 2020, Professor Krugman opined on the consequences of renewing in-person schooling. I found that remote learning in the U.S. has an opportunity cost of $1.6 billion per school day because pupils learn more effectively in person. While still in the realm of obvious economic results, Krugman agreed that “nobody knows . . . how we can educate America’s children without normal schooling.” Nevertheless, his amateur and partisan theory of disease trumped that assessment. He advised his five million followers that reopening school this fall would “be a complete disaster” that “would kill thousands” as it “disastrously reinforc[ed] the pandemic.”

Israel had an outbreak early in the summer that coincided with its reopening schools. In his opinion, that by itself justified withholding hundreds of billions of dollars of human capital from America’s children. (He showed his followers the series for Israeli cases through August 1, rather than the less alarming trend for deaths). Never mind that Sweden had not even closed schools in the spring, while several other countries reopened (without second waves) before the end of June. Never mind that already in June the American Academy of Pediatrics saw “a much smaller role in driving the spread of the disease than we would expect.” Never mind the promising results from summer camps and daycare centers here at home.

Many schools did in fact dare to open. The Mulligan children were enrolled in a couple of them, which were able to deliver thousands of pupil-days of in-person schooling without a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among students, faculty, or staff. Using a larger dataset, Brown University professor Emily Oster found that “schools aren’t super-spreaders . . . fears from the summer appear to have been overblown.” Krugman had no business stoking those fears with an improbable scenario from outside his expertise, when he knew that the human-capital costs to children of e-learning were enormous and guaranteed.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White swigs the cloying cocktail that is Sophia Coppola’s On the Rocks. A spit take ensues. From the beginning of the review:

Sofia Coppola’s best film, 1989’s Life Without Zoe, was also Francis Ford Coppola’s loveliest trifle, an emotionally buoyant anecdote featuring ecstatic visual elegance (as shot by Vittorio Storaro). That court métrage (short film) was a studio-financed daughter–father collaboration — Coppola père directed, Coppola fille wrote the screenplay — in which a wealthy artist’s only child bestows her noblesse oblige across a glitzy, post-Reagan-era New York City and around the world. The simple plot about an haute-couture schoolgirl (Fieldston private school, of course) who not only solves an international crisis but also saves her parents’ marriage was a fairy-tale distillation of all of Sofia Coppola’s leisure-class concerns. Her new feature film, On the Rocks, is, essentially, a remake of Life Without Zoe.

The similarities of Life Without Zoe and On the Rocks prove that Sofia’s sensibilities have not changed from adolescence to drinking age: Laura (Rashida Jones) is a successful writer and a mother of two daughters, ensconced in a luxurious SoHo loft with an ad-executive husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans). She goes on cocktail-fueled adventures with her father, Felix (Bill Murray), an affluent gallery owner, who urges Laura to spy on, then inadvertently reconcile with, her workaholic sexy spouse. Sexy, because that’s consistent with Sofia’s Sleeping Beauty–Prince Charming fantasy life

If there’s anybody who confirms the essentially bourgeois nature of filmmaking, it’s Sofia Coppola. She has become the icon of contemporary women in cinema ever since her breakout film Lost in Translation (made ten years after Life Without Zoe), thanks to the media’s class bias — middle-class critics who over-empathize with the lifestyle dilemmas of the rich and famous. Lost in Translation presented a meandering American screwball-comedy triangle in which the third-party husband was mostly off-screen while the heroine and a father figure flirted through fashionable alienation in Japan. It was a bourgeois bonanza for privileged feminists, even though it’s always difficult to tell exactly how “feminist” Sofia is when the oppression felt by her heroines is mostly in their heads.

2. Kyle Smith rediscovers Topsy-Turvy. From the beginning of the review:

A bluff, domineering Victorian fellow pronounces the words in a humorless, matter-of-fact tone, as though dictating a legal filing: “If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Japan.” The moment marks a painfully achieved breakthrough halfway through Mike Leigh’s delightful 1999 film Topsy-Turvy, the story of a project — The Mikado — that was not merely a hit but earned a place among the minuscule proportion of hits that endured across the centuries. One hundred and thirty-five years after its debut, Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved collaboration, the one that begins with those gentlemen of Japan introducing themselves, remains a very model of the modern musical theater and is still widely performed today.

Or it would be, if there were much performing going on in the Anglosphere, which is why Topsy-Turvy makes for especially poignant viewing today. (You can watch it free, with minimal commercial interruption, on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.)

The author of The Mikado’s libretto, William Schwenck Gilbert — incomparably portrayed by the brilliant character actor Jim Broadbent in his greatest performance — is, at the outset of the movie, huffing about a lightly damning review of his latest “opera” (today usually called an “operetta”), Princess Ida, which was later more or less forgotten. The reviewer notes that Princess Ida is pleasant enough but “words and music alike reveal symptoms of fatigue in their respective composer and author.” The critic correctly identifies a rut of predictability into which Gilbert has fallen — his topsy-turvy reliance on absurdly contrived, high-concept twists. Later in the film, when Gilbert explains to his partner, composer Arthur Sullivan (a recessive Allan Corduner) that the premise for his next work is a magic potion that transforms the person who takes it into whoever he or she is pretending to be, Sullivan scoffs, “You and your world of Topsy-Turvydom! In 1881 it was a magic coin. And before that, it was a magic lozenge. And in 1877 it was an elixir.” Pause. Gilbert: “In this instance, it is a magic potion.”

3. More Kyle: He likes American Utopia. From the beginning of the review:

David Byrne meets Spike Lee? The combination of talents sounded surprising when the director signed on to craft a television adaptation of the rock singer’s Broadway concert David Byrne’s American Utopia, which just debuted on HBO. Art rocker meets rock-thrower? Whimsy holds hand with rage, and the two go skipping down the street together? I couldn’t picture it.

But Lee turns out to be a fine choice to direct American Utopia: Putting cameras everywhere (including overhead, backstage, and in the wings) and zipping them around, he successfully avoids the trapped-in-a-box feeling of most TV versions of stage shows. Lee’s energetic camera work complements Byrne’s famous nervy, jerky kineticism as the singer leads a troupe of eleven singer-dancer-musicians through a roundup of songs from Byrne’s latest album American Utopia plus a few of his 1980s classics with Talking Heads. For a while, the show is such kooky bliss that it proves a worthy successor to the greatest rock concert film ever, Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense (1984), which like this film begins with Byrne awkwardly alone on a stage that gradually fills up, then overflows, with musicians and music. The effect is unconstrained friskiness, like a wading pool full of puppies. Byrne and Co. — all of them barefoot in matching gray suits with buttoned-down shirts beneath — carry with them cordless instruments that allow them to march, circle, sway, and shimmy in an ecstatically dorky array of moves choreographed by Annie-B Parson, who channels the nerd appeal of Talking Heads in the earlier film.

4. Even More Kyle: Borat gets drilled — in a Borat-y kind of way — for “comedy” that punches down. From the commentary:

Comedy make fun usually mean “punching up” but punching down more fun when you’re Borat-ing. Make ordinary people make foolish by being nice! I ask cake-shop lady write, “Jews will not replace us” on big cake and make smiley faces too! Cake-shop lady do whatever she being told! Maybe cake-shop lady afraid of being sued for denying of service and winding up to Supreme Court, who are knowing? America very stupid, doing whatever wacky foreigner be asking to them. I go to copying shop sending wacky facsimiles to boss of Kazhakstan too. My “daughter” ask Christian ladies can they be driving cars then ask them be dropping panties to touch Virginia! Make merry, America! Then I going synagoguery disguised as Jew with fake foot-long nose and big bag marked “$” to tell some Jews, “Use your venom on me!” and tell Holocaust survivor there was no Holocaustery! Yet Jew woman being so nice to me anyway! You are not being in on the joke? I being such comedy genius I not being sure what joke is myself! Also not for getting the joke when I cough on Forrest the Gump! Me coughing on beloved senior person Tom Hanks, such weirdness, right?

El Rushbo

The great friend of this institution and conservatism, battling Stage 4 cancer, discussed his health this week. From the show transcript:

In a nutshell, there are lots of ups and downs in this particular illness. And it can feel like a roller coaster at times that you can’t get off of. And again, I want to stress here that I know countless numbers of you are experiencing the same thing. If it isn’t lung cancer, it’s some kind of cancer. If it isn’t you, it’s somebody really close to you. If it isn’t an illness, it’s something. We’re all going through challenges. Mine are no better and mine are no different and mine are no more special than anybody else. But it can feel like a roller coaster. . . .

You know, all in all, I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible — and it’s still true.

You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment.

And every day, thus, results in me feeling more and more blessed. Hearing from you, knowing that you’re out there praying and everything else you’re doing, that is a blessing. It’s just a series of blessings. And I am grateful to be able to come here to the studio, tell you about it, and really maintain as much normalcy as I can.

I know a lot of you out there are going through your own challenges, whether it’s cancer or another medical illness or some other life challenge. Maybe even in the hospital right now. Someone told me — I think this is good advice, may be helpful — the only thing that any of us are certain of is right now, today. That’s why I thank God every morning when I wake up.

I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. Commentary turns 75. In the anniversary issue, John Podhoretz and his splendid old man, Norman, discuss what it has meant to be editors at this important bastion. From the piece:

JOHN: Let’s talk about one of the most important articles the magazine ever published, “Jewish Faith and the Holocaust: A Fragment,” by Emil Fackenheim — which has, over time, become one of the key statements about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.

NORMAN: Emil Fackenheim was a very nice man, and he was easy to work with. He knew that his English was not perfect, and he was happy to be improved upon.

JOHN: What was important in the article was its statement of principle that the key requirement for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust was for Jewry to survive. Jews, it says, are forbidden to grant posthumous victories to Hitler. I’m bringing this up because, if I remember correctly, Fackenheim didn’t write that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: You wrote that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: So this is the ultimate editor’s triumph and tragedy. I think this formulation will be quoted 250 years from now when people write about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust. Emil Fackenheim will be immortally associated with this paragraph — he is now already — and he didn’t write it, you wrote it.

NORMAN: But I wrote it on the basis of what he was trying to say. The idea, and calling it the 614th commandment, he hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but he was very happy with it, because that’s exactly what he wanted to say. I’m perfectly happy to have him get credit. I mean they were his ideas, not mine.

JOHN: But it gives you a sense of what an editor does, both at his best, and then also what this selflessness or humility that you mention as a key quality ultimately requires.

2. At City Journal, John Tierney explores the failure of lockdowns. From the analysis:

While the economic and social costs have been enormous, it’s not clear that the lockdowns have brought significant health benefits beyond what was achieved by people’s voluntary social distancing and other actions. Some researchers have credited lockdowns with slowing the pandemic, but they’ve relied on mathematical models with assumptions about people’s behavior and the virus’s tendency to spread — the kinds of models and assumptions that previously produced wild overestimates of how many people would die during the pandemic. Other researchers have sought more direct evidence, looking at mortality patterns. They have detected little impact.

In a comparison of 50 countries, a team led by Rabail Chaudhry of the University of Toronto found that Covid was deadlier in places with older populations and higher rates of obesity, but the mortality rate was no lower in countries that closed their borders or enforced full lockdowns. After analyzing 23 countries and 25 U.S. states with widely varying policies, Andrew Atkeson of UCLA and fellow economists found that the mortality trend was similar everywhere once the disease took hold: the number of daily deaths rose rapidly for 20 to 30 days, and then fell rapidly.

Similar conclusions were reached in analyses of Covid deaths in Europe. By studying the time lag between infection and death, Simon Wood of the University of Edinburgh concluded that infections in Britain were already declining before the nation’s lockdown began in late March. In an analysis of Germany’s 412 counties, Thomas Wieland of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology found that infections were waning in most of the country before the national lockdown began and that the additional curfews imposed in Bavaria and other states had no effect.

Wieland hasn’t published any work on New York City’s pandemic, but he says that the city’s trend looks similar to Germany’s. If, as some studies have shown, a Covid death typically occurs between 21 days and 26 days after infection, the peak of infections would have occurred at least three weeks prior to the peak in deaths on April 7. That would mean that infections in the city had already begun to decline by March 17 — three days before Cuomo announced the lockdown and five days before it took effect.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, the great and dear Onalee McGraw believes a little consideration of Mr. Jefferson Smith would help rebuild America’s moral community. From the beginning of the essay:

Director Frank Capra seemed to possess an unfailing instinct to make films that speak to what is universal and timeless in human experience. In Mr. Smith Capra dramatizes the concept of the “Common Good” — the idea that standards of truth and goodness transcend the personal desires and emotions of solitary individuals. Our care and dedication to the “Common Good” makes us a part of something greater than ourselves. When Jimmy Stewart as Senator Jeff Smith reminds his fellow Senators, “There’s no compromise with truth,” his words transcend partisan political battles.

The struggle between good and evil in the United States Senate that Capra depicts in Mr. Smith is clearly understood by viewers across the political spectrum as reflecting timeless truths about citizenship and living together in a free society. Even in the fractured public square we inhabit today, members of opposing political tribes can recognize our common humanity in the heroic and humble character Jimmy Stewart portrays.

Mr. Smith premiered in October, 1939, a few weeks after World War II had broken out in Europe. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st and two days later, England and France declared war on Germany. As Frank Capra said in his autobiography, The Name Above the Title: “The speed and light of Hitler’s blitzkrieg terrified the free world.”

Although Stewart did not receive the Academy Award that year for Best Actor, his performance was so compelling that the newspapers devoted more space to him than to the winner. Eighty years later, Jimmy Stewart as Jeff Smith continues to symbolize the qualities of leadership and the civic virtues that are essential to the survival of a free society.

4. More TIC: Brad “Double B” Birzer approves of the idea of declaring October “Russell Kirk Month.” From the beginning of his essay:

Alan Cornett has proclaimed October to be “Russell Kirk Month.” I’m not sure that Kirk would approve, but I do. Other special interests get special months. Why shouldn’t the Kirkites and Kirkians get one? After all, imagine (yes, “imagine” is the right word when writing about Kirk) how much good a month of studying Russell Kirk could do with America’s school children. October 1, The Conservative Mind. October 4, Prospects for Conservatives. October 12, Roots of American Order. October 18, The Conservative Constitution. October 24, Old House of Fear. The month would conclude with everyone’s favorite Feast of St. Wolfgang, October 31, and a public reading of “There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding.” I can just hear the dinner table conversations now. “Daddy, we learned about Clinton Wallace today.” “Well, Sally, that’s just fine. Fine, indeed.” And all of America’s public educators would rejoice.

Silliness aside, I’m hugely in favor of Mr. Cornett’s proposal. October is Kirk’s birth month, and Halloween was the highest holy day in his personal life. What better month exists for Kirk’s twilight struggle against the darkness?

Russell Amos Augustine Kirk (1918-1994) is one of America’s foremost and most important thinkers, especially in the desiccated and mutilated 20th century, an era and an age of horrific inhumanities and incessant blood-letting. Kirk stood for a more humane age, an age that valued the dignity and uniqueness of each human person, an age that unabashedly sought the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Kirk should not only be remembered; he should have also never have been forgotten.

5. Even More TIC: Joseph Pearce lays into the arrogant imperialism of the European Union. From the piece:

Berthold Löffler, a political science professor at the University of Ravensburg-Weingarten in Germany, in an interview for the SuedKurier website, spoke of a mindset prevalent among EU politicians from Western Europe towards the people and politicians of central and eastern Europe: “Most Western European politicians feel morally superior to Eastern Europeans and consider Eastern European culture to be backward. They therefore feel entitled to unilaterally define the common values. And they expect Eastern Europe to submit without protest. However, this expectation has met with rejection in Eastern Europe.”

Dr. Löffler, who studied political science and Eastern European history in Tübingen, southwestern Germany, and in the Polish capital Warsaw, said that “from an Eastern European point of view, the EU is a community of values, but the question is who’s supposed to define these values.” Considered an expert on the politics of central and eastern Europe, Dr. Löffler asserted that Eastern Europeans “want to live in their nation states in the future” and argued that Eastern European nations “did not join the EU to swap Moscow’s dominance for lecturing from Brussels.” Having experienced Soviet socialist imperialism, they were not willing to surrender their sovereignty to the new imperialists in Brussels. “This is understandable given their history,” Dr. Löffler added. “These countries have won their independence with great effort and are proud of it.”

Dr. Löffler argued that “the Eastern European approach is fully justified by the ideas of the founding fathers of a united Europe… who referred to the common European roots of Christianity and to the idea of a Europe of homelands, with which the current concept of the EU stands in contradiction.” He then added that “Eastern Europeans see themselves as heirs to the over thousand-year-old common European history.” The problem was that a “sense of moral superiority” prevents “know-it-all” Western Europeans “from seeing that the Eastern European ideas of what Europe is supposed to be are no less legitimate than the Western ideas.” On the contrary, “it may well be that it is Slovakia and Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia that represent the true spirit of Europe.”

6. At The College Fix, Greg Piper reports on a federal judge handing Johnson and Wales University the short end of a due-process lawsuit. From the article:

Last year Johnson & Wales University failed to knock down a due process lawsuit by a student accused of sexual assault that said the Rhode Island school put him through an anti-male Title IX kangaroo court.

Eleven months later, the parties have settled, according to a “stipulation of dismissal with prejudice” filed Tuesday. The docket shows “John Doe” and JWU had a settled conference Sept. 3. As is typical in settlements, the terms were not disclosed.

U.S. District Judge Mary McElroy rejected the private university’s motion for summary judgment just before Thanksgiving last year. That followed an extremely unusual bench ruling against Johnson & Wales a year and a half earlier, where a different judge said “I can’t for the life of me find any other explanation” than anti-male bias for John’s guilty finding.

While narrowing John’s grounds for the lawsuit, McElroy concluded that a “reasonable juror could decide that it is not ‘fair’ to require a student who knows little or nothing to figure out what s/he does not know in order to ask productive questions.”

7. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière writes about the death of free speech in France. From the article:

On September 23, two days before Mehmood’s attack, an article purporting to defend freedom of speech was published in France by 90 newspapers. The article said that “women and men of our country have been murdered by fanatics, because of their opinions… we must join forces,” it added, “to drive away fear and make our indestructible love of freedom triumph”. The article seemed deliberately vague. It did not mention who the murderers were or what might have motivated them.

The day after the attack, several commentators counseled that in France, the love of freedom was not indestructible. They prescribed self-censorship and ventured — unfortunately “blaming the victim” — that those who had decided to republish the cartoons were the ones responsible for the attack. “When you repost cartoons”, Anne Giudicelli, a journalist, said on television, “you play into the hands of these organizations. By not saying certain things, you reduce the risks.”

“When you shock a person”, TV host Cyril Hanouna ventured, “you have to stop. Charlie Hebdo drawings pour oil on the fire”.

The persistence of Islamic danger was not mentioned, except by the journalist Éric Zemmour. Ironically, on the day of the attack, Zemmour was sentenced to a heavy fine (10,000 euros, nearly $12,000) for remarks on Islam in September 2019. He had said at the time that “Muslim foreign enclaves” exist in France. They do. At least 750 of them. He also noted that attacks in the name of Islam have not disappeared and seem likely to increase. The French justice system decided to regard these words as “incitement to hatred”.

After the cleaver attack, no one requested tightening controls on asylum seekers, except, again, Zemmour. He said that “the uncontrolled presence of unaccompanied minors on the French territory is a very serious problem” and that “we must no longer welcome unaccompanied minors in France as long as drastic controls are not put in place”. He recalled that many self-proclaimed unaccompanied minors lie about their age, commit crimes, and turn out to be “thieves and assassins”.

8. At The American Conservative, Brian Anderson reports on the corruption of Biden Inc. From the piece:

Unfortunately, this is a play we’ve seen before. The Bidens have been doing this shady work, and ‘exiting’ from it when convenient, for a very long time.

In 2001, fresh off a plum job in the Clinton administration, Hunter Biden was named founding partner at Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLP. The lobbying firm — on whose website Biden touted his status “a presidential appointee” of Bill Clinton — quickly took on a scattershot of clients ranging from hospitals to universities and, according to Delaware’s News Journal, was known for “specializing in the sort of earmarks doled out by Sen. [Joe] Biden.”

Hunter Biden would go on to personally shape appropriations bills on behalf of clients, and in a short period donate more than $35,000 to federal candidates, including $10,000 to his father’s colleagues who were members of the appropriations committees at the time he was lobbying them.

And it was no secret why Hunter Biden’s first client chose him: Napster, the file-sharing service, was facing a barrage of attacks from Congress — a fight in which his father was expected to play a major role. Joe Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, two powerful entities with unique interests in copyright laws that Napster was under fire for flouting.

The company tapped Manus Cooney and Karen Robb to lead its lobbying efforts . . . alongside, strangely, Hunter Biden.

Whereas Cooney and Robb had extensive experience — serving as the judiciary committee’s most recent chief counsel (including during Napster’s appearance before it two months earlier) and as a staff director, respectively — the younger Biden’s only qualification appeared to be his biological tie to the committee’s former chairman. Just one month after Hunter Biden registered to lobby for Napster on the issue of “compulsory licensing,” the service’s chief executive officer appeared before the judiciary committee, of which Joe Biden was a member, and called on members “to provide a compulsory license for the transmission of music over the Internet.”

Baseballery

The Chicago White Sox suffered through a dreary second-division existence for the three decades following the infamous 1919 World Series scandals, but come 1951, and through the late 1960s, the “Pale Hose” proved to be one of the American Leagues best teams, always chasing the Yankees, and even claiming a pennant, in 1959.

They came close again in 1967, the year of a tense and historic down-to-the-wire race between the Sox, Red and White, the Tigers, and the Twins, the latter two finishing tied for second, a game behind Boston.

Chicago had held onto first place for much of the season: from June 11 to August 12 they led the AL, despite the team having an anemic .225 BA (not a single starter hit over .241!) — but then you can get away with that when your pitching staff records an ERA of 2.45 (the league’s second-best staff, the Twins, gave up 103 more earned runs that the White Sox).

Still, it was not enough to prevail, although it came close. On September 23rd, with seven games left in the season, the White Sox beat up the Indians, 8-0, to put themselves one tiny game out of first — but still in fourth place. They’d prevail again the next day, but it ended with the Sox still a game out, although now in third place.

And then the bottom fell out. Heading to Kansas City to take on the last-place Athletics, Chicago dropped a doubleheader, losing 5-2 in the opener and then dropping the second game 4-0, courtesy of a Catfish Hunter three-hitter.

Still holding a chance, the White Sox bats stayed quite when they returned home for the season-ending three-game series with the lowly, sub-.500 Senators. Skunked 1-0 in the first game on a four-hitter tossed by the Senators Phil Ortega, they could only amass five hits, and again, no runs, the next day, losing 4-0, this time to the left hand of Frank Bertaina. So died their hopes (the Sox closed out the season the next day with a 4-3 loss).

The point of this all was not to bring White Sox fans down a dismal memory lane, but to recall three pitchers from that team which, for that year, had a terrific collection of hurlers, including Gary Peters, who went 16-11 with a 2.28 ERA, and Joe Horlen, who went 19-7 while leading the league with a 2.06 ERA (plus he no-hit the Tigers on September 17th).

But the trio of interest are other guys, pitchers who remind one of endurance, a welcome thing in a game marked today marker by pitch counts: They were Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Tommy John. In 1967, Wood and John were both in the earlier part of their careers. John, who first started pitching in 1963, for the Indians, still had 22 years more to go after the White Sox’s almost-pennant. He would appear in 760 games over his 26 seasons, starting 700 of them, his rebuilt arm compiling a 288-231 record. Wood played for “only” 17 seasons, the first 11 as a reliever, and in three seasons (1968-70) the bullpen ace led AL pitchers in games (88, 76, and 77 respectively). The following season, the southpaw knuckleballer switched to starting (he would only appear in relief 10 more times in his career), and began a four-year string of 20 or more victories. In four consecutive seasons he led the league in games started, in two of those seasons in innings pitched.

In 1972, he started 25 games . . . on two days of rest — a thing unimaginable today.

And finally we come to Wilhelm. The Purple Heart-awarded WW2 vet as an MLB rookie in 1952 (he had first pitched in the minors in 1942) at the ripe age of 29. Come 1967, now 44 and wearing the White Sox uniform, he pitched in 49 games for Chicago, earning 12 saves, an 8-3 record, and a 1.31 ERA. He would still be pitching five years later, ending his storied 21-year career with the Dodgers, two weeks shy of his 50th birthday.

The trio played together in Chicago for one more season before Wilhelm was traded to the Angels after 1968. And that, as they say, is that.

A Dios

There is a little girl, half-a-year-or-so old, named Francesca, who’s pretty as a peach, her face the scene of a thousand-watt smile, but behind it, amok in her brain, is a terrible cancer. The sweet pea is undergoing chemotherapy. We have used this WJ locus before to seek prayers from those who pray, or those who need a reason to reacquire the practice, and today seek such on her behalf. This is a gut-wrenching fight for Francesca and her family, as it would be for any child and any family. One could weep for them, to know of their torments and anxieties. But let us not forget that God answers our prayers. True, maybe not always in the way we mortals desire. But then He cannot answer what is not asked, no? So, to friends Catholic, those who have not abandoned the faith yet despite the herculean efforts of Pope Francis (sorry, couldn’t help it), you are asked to pray for Francesca and her family, for a cure, for comfort, for strength. If you are open to the intercession of one who has gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, the request further asks that you please consider Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus — yes, that group so vilified by Kamala Harris. (Father McGivney will be beatified next weekend in Hartford, CT. For those not of the Roman faith, well, that means Next Stop, Sainthood.) Your Humble Author cannot help but think his soul, surely closely located to the Divine Decision-Making Authority, will amplify all prayerful petitions said on behalf of Francesca. But that said, the prayers of all people from all faiths, regardless of which side of the Tiber your soul calls home, are needed and appreciated (as is your tolerance of This Author’s serial sectarian emphases).

God’s Blessings on the Little Ones, as We All Are to Him Who Made Us,

Jack Fowler, who will share too your prayer requests if sent to jfowler@nationalrevew.com.

National Review

Shaddapp Shuttin’ Up

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Yep, they’re private companies yadda yadda herp derp durka durka . . . thank you übertarians for edjumakatin us dummies. Of course what they — Facebook and Twitter — are . . . are businesses that present and represent themselves as forums for communication, for speech, of all sorts, come one come all and bring your pictures and memes and videos too. But then, for quite discriminate reasons, with rules shady and subjective and invented on the fly, with even shadier algorithms, and neato tricks like shadow banning, these big honkin’ culture-dictating platforms (which enjoy amazingly broad First Amendment protections that come with a side order of gargantuan financial benefits) then seek to control that particular form of speech, political speech, which under our Constitution is considered (used to be, anyway) the most protected form of such.

They are also liberal and left-wing businesses which pluck many of their corporate bureaucrats from the ex-staffer ranks of Capitol Hill Democrats. These highly paid wokelings send much money (98.99 per cent in fact, which sounds like North Korean election results) in political donations to the Big Donkey.

In every which way — and this week to the “every which” was added censoring a New York Post blockbuster about the lucrative Kiev hijinx of Joe and Hunter Biden — these powerful social forces have plopped their heavy mitts and plenty more (like the chubby drunk dude at the Christmas party who sits on the copier to make, well, you know) on the 2020 scales, and have done so in a big way. By censoring. The folks in the Delaware basement, resuscitated after reading the Post slam, surely picked up the Bat Phone, cried for help, and like the good Party Protectors that they are, Twitter Jack and Facebook Mark to the Bat Poles went.

The Good Lord help you if you tweeted a link to that Post blockbuster — the angry Blue Bird of Censorship would have plopped on your noggin as your account went mute. Meanwhile, many in the media actually cheered the drawbridge going up. Whatever it takes to shut you down and shut you up.

Bugs Bunny was once told to shaddapp shuttin’ up. Taken in its sorta double-negative literally-ness, un-up-shutting sounds like something worth doing. Like standing athwart something, maybe even history, possibly yelling . . .  let’s go with Stop!

Add censorship to the things now very worth fighting (relentlessly!) against. Speaking of which . . .

We are in the midst of a major SCOTUS confirmation battle, in which NR has given its consequential all on behalf of President Trump’s exceptional nominee, Amy Coney Barrett; we are in the homestretch of a consequential presidential election, in which NR has been calling bull-doody relentlessly on the leftist Biden — Harris ticket’s 24/7malarky; and . . .

We are in the midst of NR’s flash webathon, seeking a sorely needed $150,000.

Here’s why we need your financial support: Without it, NR cannot fight, and an NR not fighting for conservative principles and against leftist schemes is like a fish that can’t swim, a banana that won’t peel, a dog that won’t hunt. National Review exists to fight. Right now, in particular, to fight for the Constitution by making sure its robed referees are originalists, to fight against partisan censors who use the First Amendment to increase their political advantages, and to fight the growing number of legal academics who have bullied our traditional views of free and unfettered speech because, well, the fettering would increase their power (my word, Charlie Cooke as a great piece on this very point).

NR can only fight with your support. Some colleagues, led by Rich Lowry, have made excellent appeals. We pray that you consider them, that you are moved to help, and that you do so help right here, of course confident of our deep appreciation.

And now . . . to the Jolt Poles!

Editorials

1. The Facebook and Twitter censors blocking for Biden-Harris are called out. From the editorial:

There is no credible reason for this kind of targeted suppression. Over the past five years there have been scores of dramatic scoops written by major media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN that were based on faulty information provided by unknown sources that turned out to be incorrect. Not once has Facebook or Twitter concerned itself with the sourcing methods of reporters. Not once did it censor any of those pieces.

Even today, Twitter users are free to share stories that rely on the Steele Dossier, which includes the Donald Trump “pee-tape” myth, despite the fact that we now know it was likely disinformation dropped into the media stream by a foreign power.

Twitter initially cited its “Hacked Materials Policy” and a “lack of authoritative reporting” as justification for censoring the Post, one of the most widely read papers in the nation. Though the reliability of the story is yet to be determined, Twitter has offered no evidence that any of the information was illegally obtained. No similar standard was applied when the New York Times published Trump’s tax returns, even though anyone who had legal access to them is likely to have broken the law in sharing them with the Times. The newspaper reports that Hunter Biden’s emails had turned up in the hard drive of a laptop that had been dropped off at a repair shop last year. The FBI is reportedly in possession of the hard drive.

2. Pathetic Democratic antics against Amy Barrett went nowhere, but still deserve our opprobrium. From the editorial:

So they used the hearings for two main purposes: to highlight issues that hurt President Trump rather than ones that are likely to cause her serious trouble, and to stroke the erogenous zones of their base. They have established that Barrett believes that some gun regulations are incompatible with the Second Amendment, that she is pro-life, and that she believes that Chief Justice John Roberts stretched the text of Obamacare in order to uphold it. All of these beliefs should be considered marks in her favor.

They have not established — they have not come within spitting distance of establishing — what they are trying to insinuate: that she would find flimsy legal pretexts for junking Obamacare, or would mow down all gun regulations, or would somehow prohibit in vitro fertilization.

Some Democrats attempted to portray Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” as a sign of hostility to gays and lesbians, an effort that fizzled, since the term has also been used, and recently, by leading Democrats and gay publications. Asked about the nontroversy, she said she had meant no offense. She should rest easy knowing no genuine offense was taken.

3. We contend the country needs additional COVID relief from Congress. From the editorial:

The House speaker called the White House proposal “insufficient,” claiming that the president “has not taken the war against the virus seriously.” In fact, the administration’s plan includes an ample $175 billion for testing, tracing, and vaccine programs. The real disagreement comes down to state and local funding, with Democrats taking advantage of the pandemic to attempt a bailout of profligate blue states.

Rather than simply seize on that issue, GOP senators have broadly opposed coronavirus-relief spending. A critical mass of Senate Republicans has come out against the White House proposal because it would add too much to the deficit. While the federal debt remains a long-term concern, it shouldn’t foreclose economic assistance during an unprecedented public-health emergency. No less so because fiscal inaction would, according to Goldman Sachs Research, cut fourth-quarter economic growth in half, reducing long-run tax revenues and exacerbating the debt issue. The protracted economic damage of widespread business closures and high unemployment far outweighs the cost of additional spending, especially at a time of near-zero interest rates.

4. Bill Barr deserves better from President Trump. From the editorial:

In “Russiagate,” the Justice Department can’t seem to find one either, at least not fast enough or high enough up the political food chain for Trump. The president ranted on Twitter last week about the “TREASONOUS PLOT,” and inveighed against Barr in friendly talk-radio interviews over the failure to indict Obama officials.

Trump’s wayward invocation of treason brings the problem into sharp relief. Besides being unhinged political rhetoric, as a legal matter — which is what Barr has to consider — it is sheer nonsense. The presidency is not the nation. A president is a public servant, and a presidential candidate a mere public figure; neither of them is the United States, on whom war must be waged to trigger treason. Under federal law, treason’s close cousin sedition, also touted by Trump supporters as a potential charge, similarly requires proof of conspiracy to use force against the nation and its government.

There’s a reason that the checks against abuses of power in our system are predominantly political, not legal. The discretion to exercise government’s police and intelligence-collection powers must necessarily be broad because the potential threats to national security and public safety are infinite. If a presidential candidate actually was conspiring with a hostile nation against vital American interests, an incumbent administration would have not only the legitimate authority but the duty to investigate, regardless of political considerations. Fear of prosecution after the fact would paralyze an administration, to the nation’s peril. If the executive’s awesome powers are abused, the Constitution arms Congress with the means to discipline an administration and even remove wayward officials from office.

A Bevy of Beautiful Articles Promenading for Your Attention, Your Edification, Your Clicking!

1. Ah yes, if Joe Biden were a Republican, Kyle Smith is sure there would be some very different questions asked of him. From the essay:

Mr. Biden, in December 2013 you took your son Hunter with you on Air Force Two to China, where he promptly introduced you to a businessman named Jonathan Li. Li’s company later gave Hunter a 10 percent stake in an investment fund that now manages some $2 billion. A White House official you worked with told the New Yorker the administration said it appeared that Hunter “was leveraging access for his benefit, which just wasn’t done in that White House. Optics really mattered.” How could you allow this to happen?

Mr. Biden, another Chinese businessman, a billionaire named Ye Jianming, was partners with Hunter on a natural-gas business in Louisiana and also gave Hunter a very large diamond. Ye’s deputy was later arrested in New York on charges of bribing government officials, charges on which he was later convicted. His first call, according to the New York Times, was to your younger brother Jimmy. He also tried to reach Hunter. Do you think you are entitled to allow your family members to profit from your name and connections?

Mr. Biden, while you were vice president in 2010 your brother Jimmy, who had no experience in the construction industry, nevertheless formed a construction company that a few months later was granted a $1.5 billion contract to build housing in Iraq. Isn’t this part of a long pattern of Biden family corruption?

2. David Harsanyi explores the social-media giants’ censorship of the New York Post. From the analysis:

Even as Twitter was banning reporters from sharing the Post’s investigation, or even providing evidence of its veracity, it was allowing left-wing outlets such as the New York Times and Daily Beast to purportedly contextualize it.

The very notion that the establishment media wouldn’t run with hacked Donald Trump emails, if they pointed to possible misconduct, strains credulity. Just a few weeks ago, nearly every reporter on social media was sharing a recording “obtained without authorization” of the First Lady complaining about Christmas decorating — a story that had almost no news value.

By the way, as of yet, no one has really disputed the veracity of the Post’s reporting. Hunter has not claimed that those aren’t his pictures or his emails. Joe Biden hasn’t claimed that he didn’t meet Burisma execs who were using his son. Politico reports that “Biden’s campaign would not rule out the possibility that the former VP had some kind of informal interaction” with the Burisma executive. One assumes that, if the vice president met with a shady oil executive who put his incompetent son on its board, it would not be on the official docket. In a healthy media environment, journalists wouldn’t be dismissing the story; they would be trying to verify it in the same way they try to verify dirt on the president.

Instead, the Biden campaign uses the Twitter ban as proof of the inauthenticity of the story. “Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false and are not true,” says one creative Biden campaign spokesperson.

3. Charles Cooke makes the case for a 28th Amendment to prevent Court-Packing. From the article:

A 28th Amendment setting the Supreme Court at nine justices would follow suit. Moreover, it would serve as a rebuke to precisely the same people and modes of thinking that the 22nd did. The idea of expanding the Supreme Court in order to neuter it was first proposed during the administration of — surprise! — Woodrow Wilson. Wilson never seriously pursued it, but, again, his heir, Franklin D. Roosevelt, did. Admirably, Roosevelt was stopped in his tracks by his own party, which, despite enjoying supermajority control in Congress, dismissed the notion as an enabling act for dictatorship. Rejecting Roosevelt’s proposal in 1937, the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed sure that the idea had been so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.” If the committee turns out to have been wrong, the states should step in and take the option off the table for good. Alexander Hamilton observed that, unlike in the elected branches, life terms represent an “excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body.” But there is, of course, no virtue in this arrangement if judges can be added to the Court at will.

It would be highly appropriate for such a rule to be placed into the Constitution, given that what we are seeing unfurl now in D.C. is not really a fight over the Supreme Court, so much as a fight over whether we should keep that Constitution at all. It is remarkable that it has taken this long to arrive. More than a century has passed since Woodrow Wilson insouciantly announced that the highest law in the land was outmoded and should be replaced, and it is only by chance that his worldview has seeped into the law gradually. FDR may have been repudiated in his attempt to blow up the Court, but, by the end of his life, he had served so long that he had appointed eight of the nine justices, and the “problem” that he was trying to “fix” had largely gone away. Since then, the desire to abolish the Court has been less pressing, either because a majority of justices has been willing to make up the law, or because enough justices have been willing to consider making up the law to give those who wish to “evolve” the Constitution into meaninglessness a shot at getting what they want. Sometimes, it has looked as if that might change, and when it has, the Democratic Party has all but lost its mind. (For examples of this, consider the cases of Bork, Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh.) But, until now, there has been no real danger that the law would be consistently read as written.

4. More Court-Packing: Michael Brendan Dougherty says the reason this has become such a national issue is the too-clever-by-half doings of Chief Justice John Roberts. From the article:

There’s only one problem. The play is running in reverse. A doubtless very different Justice Roberts has been trying to save the Court’s reputation among Democrats for a decade now. The political drama around and within the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings demonstrates that this gambit has failed. John Roberts’ attempt to shore up the legitimacy of the Court has backfired, inviting the very escalation it was calculated to avoid and making him a figure of ridicule among those who would otherwise admire him.

When the question of whether it was constitutional for the federal government to use the Affordable Care Act to compel citizens to purchase a health insurance policy or face a penalty came before the Supreme Court, it came as the chief legislative accomplishment of the first term of the first African-American president, the most popular political figure to emerge in American life since Ronald Reagan. It came with endless blogposts at The Washington Post saying that the whole structure of the Affordable Care Act depended on the enforceability of this mandate and its fines. It also came as the product of humiliating political horse-trading and promiscuous expansions of the authority of HHS over American life — rife with embarrassing drafting errors (a problem for textualists!) and backed by the curious argument that the federal government’s power to regulate interstate economic activity granted the government the power to regulate and punish a very specific form of individual economic inactivity.

Roberts wrote the opinion that vindicated the law, one that everyone else on the Court (and many outside) seemed to disdain. He rewrote the penalty as a tax. He just pretended that something the government probably couldn’t do under the Constitution — compel individuals to purchase items — was something else entirely, levying a tax. He did this to preserve respect for the Court among Democrats. And maybe he hoped that this act of “judicial modesty” would encourage Congress to take up its own constitutional role and defer fewer questions to the Court.

5. Progressives made a big deal campaigning about “nasty women.” Then, Amy Coney Barrett came along, and, as Madeleine Kearns reports, came too the flip-flop. From the piece:

In 2016, during the third presidential debate, when Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman,” progressives launched a feminist movement by the same name. (Never mind that Trump had previously called Ted Cruz a “nasty guy.”) Trump, who has indeed made a number of strange remarks about serious women (for instance about Megyn Kelly’s period) has been a gift to the pushers of the patriarchal-presidency narrative. When Hillary lost, it was claimed by countless commentators to be on account of widespread “misogyny.”

Oddly, however, when Judge Amy Coney Barret came along, the standard mysteriously flipped. As we have seen these past few weeks, there has been a peculiar focus on her personal reproductive choices, with NPR and other outlets commenting on her “large family.” There has been an even more peculiar focus on her appearance, with Katie Hill — author of the feminist book She Will Rise, as well as a former congresswoman who resigned after admitting to being unfaithful to her husband and having a sexual relationship with her subordinate — tweeting, “I hate to be someone who judges women on their clothes but I’m sorry ACB’s outfits are all the way too handsmaid-y.”

Female lawyer Leslie McAdoo Gordon, who has over 25,000 followers, wrote, “Women lawyers & judges wear suits, including dresses with jackets, for work. It is not a great look that ACB consistently does not. No male judge would be dressed in less than correct courtroom attire. It’s inappropriately casual.”

One would think that ACB, a woman who smashed the “having it all” glass ceiling, would, by the Left’s own standards, be cause for celebration. But not so. A male writer for Slate called her “a shameless, cynical careerist who believes nobody can stop her,” cast aspersions on her alleged “traditionalist wife-and-mother persona,” and stated that “what’s wrong with Barrett isn’t that she’s too pious, or that she’s submissive in her personal life. It’s that she’s bent on making herself one of the nine most powerful judges in the country, even if she has to do it in the most graspingly partisan and destructive way possible.” So, just to make sure I’m getting what you know and understand so well, sir — the problem with Amy Coney Barret is that she is too ambitious? Righty-ho!

6. More Kyle: Watching the Barrett hearings, he documents the Insane Clown Posse’s performance in the Moron Theater. From the beginning of the piece:

This week it was A. C. B. versus I.C.P.: Insane Clown Posse. Poised, graceful, unflappable, unbeatable, Judge Amy Coney Barrett sat patiently as one idiotic question after another was flung in her general direction, each time by a Democrat convinced he or she had come up with a “Gotcha!” for the ages. Pat Leahy (I.C.P., Vt.) asked whether a president must obey a court order. As though explaining this to a toddler, Barrett replied, “The Supreme Court can’t control what the president obeys.” Mazie Hirono (I.C.P., Hawaii) asked whether Barrett had ever sexually assaulted anyone and scolded the judge for using the term “sexual preference,” which has just this week been declared offensive by I.C.P. fans but had previously been used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Joe Biden, and many other members and allies of the I.C.P. movement. Cory Booker (I.C.P., N.J.) asked whether Barrett condemned white supremacy, and when she said yes, he said he wished the president would say that, although the president already has said that, and Booker’s wishes are none of the Supreme Court’s business anyway, unless he wishes the high Court to apply the Constitution, which seems unlikely.

Hey, kids! Did you know “climate change” is in the U.S. Constitution? It’s right there in Article VIII, Section 4, right after VIII.3, “White Trousers After Labor Day, Wearing Of” (punishable by life imprisonment without parole, unless you live in Miami) but before VIII.5, “How Long You Are Legally Required to Wait Before Honking Your Horn at the Guy in Front of You Who Didn’t Move When the Light Turned Green” (three seconds, except in New York City, where it’s one-tenth of a second).

7. More MBD. An amazing analysis of social-media giants assaults on the Right, and what’s likely to next come. From the commentary:

One other dead-end response conservatives will launch is to demand that Facebook and Twitter clarify their policies. Explain to us how to stay on the right side of the law. Tell us how to not be Alex Jones. But there is no predictable way to stay on the right side of Facebook and Twitter. They don’t make and stick to policy. They don’t explain changes before they enact them. For years, it has been obvious that social-media companies simply react and respond to the moral panics happening at other media companies. They are terrified of being blamed or, in Facebook’s case, blamed again for Donald Trump. Alex Jones was just a test case. You’re the real one.

Do you think they are acting this quickly, decisively, and creatively to stop the spread of misinformation in Tagalog from President Duterte? Do you think they’re putting in the heave-ho effort in Turkey to keep Erdogan honest? Think they’re putting fact checks on the Malaysian dictator Mahathir Mohamad’s tweets? Don’t kid yourselves that this is about racism or authoritarianism.

What Facebook and Twitter discovered to their horror in 2016 is that elite social-media companies are elite media companies. And there are expectations in their industry. The people they want to employ, and the people that their employees want to impress, belong to the same class as those who work for the New York Times and Washington Post.

Libertarians will tell conservatives that this doesn’t matter. “Build your own Facebook! Build your own Twitter!” But Facebook and Twitter are the most powerful media companies on earth, and most other media companies have become dependent on them. And this is not going to stop with social networks. The next frontier is payment processors. Good luck launching your next direct-to-consumer subscription product when your most passionate fans can’t promote it on Facebook and Twitter and you can’t accept PayPal, Visa, or Mastercard. 

8. Victor Davis Hanson finds civilization fragmenting, and fingers a few of those who are to blame. From the end of the essay:

To paraphrase Sophocles, 2020 saw many strange things and nothing stranger than peak Trump derangement syndrome, COVID-19, a self-induced recession, our first national quarantine, and riots, looting, and arson, all mostly unpunished and uncontrolled, in our major cities.

So we are in revolutionary times, even as we snooze about a recent systematic effort, hidden with great effort by our own government, to destroy a prior presidential campaign and transition, and now a presidency.

We are asked to vote for a candidate who will not reveal his position on any major issue of our age, because he feels to do so would enlighten the undeserving electorate and thereby cost him the election. So we continue to sleepwalk toward a revolution whose architects warped our institutions in 2016–2020, and they now plan to alter many of them beyond recognition in 2021.

Translated, that means that they don’t regret what they did in 2016–2019, only that they belatedly got caught for a brief time.

And so by changing the rules after 2020, they are vowing never ever to get caught again.

9. James Glassman argues that drug price controls will harm seniors. From the article:

A study by the House Ways & Means Committee staff last year found that the U.S. average list price of about 60 drugs was $466, compared with $153 in the Netherlands. While list prices are not what Americans or their insurers actually pay, a most-favored-nation model could easily mean reductions of one-third to one-half.

That may sound terrific for U.S. patients, but a study by the research firm Avalere of an earlier plan that applied only to Part B found that “the vast majority of seniors in Medicare would not see a reduction in their out-of-pocket (OOP) costs” because more than 87 percent of them have supplemental insurance. Big winners? Insurance companies.

The losers are America’s seniors. The best medicines might never reach them. In its own May 2018 blueprint, “American Patients First,” the administration cited a World Health Organization paper criticizing external reference pricing, which stated that index “price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing these policies.”

10. Jimmy Quinn examines how the U.N. Human Rights Council is a haven for dictators. From the article:

During the 14 years of the council’s existence, its authoritarian members have run the show. And after today’s elections to the council, many of them — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba, among others — will re-join the world’s top human-rights advocacy forum, despite their horrendous records on these issues.

It’s a stain on the U.N.’s reputation and a disappointment that the council’s reputation is sullied by these countries and their allies. Truth be told, the council can at times do important work and fulfill its mandate to promote and protect human rights. It oversees a system of U.N. rights experts that by-and-large do excellent work; in fact, this year, close to 50 of them called for an investigation into the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. And during its current session, after U.N. experts released a report detailing the Maduro regime’s “crimes against humanity,” the council held an urgent session on the situation in Belarus.

On the other hand, Venezuela is a current member of the council, with the right to vote on any of the body’s resolutions. The council has also held a special debate on racism in the United States — which is undoubtedly a problem, but one that should be addressed within a liberal-democratic system, not by some of the most openly and deliberately racist regimes in the world. And as the Western world prepares sanctions on the Belarusian government’s crackdown, a Belarusian academic holds the post of special rapporteur on “unilateral coercive measures” (which is to say sanctions). She’s taken up the PR campaign, initiated by authoritarian countries decades ago and accelerated recently, that claims Western sanctions targeting human-rights abusers are the true human-rights abuses that the U.N. system must combat.

11. More UN: It’s Hell-bent on abortion, writes Elyssa Koren. From the article:

Cooperation between the U.N. and the abortion industry is nothing new, but the coronavirus climate has paved the way for increasingly brazen and bizarre alliances. This is a new direction for UNICEF and the World Bank, for example, both of which traditionally have steered clear of overt abortion activism. Although it’s commonplace, it is essential to underscore that U.N. abortion promotion is fundamentally at odds with its institutional mandate. National governments, not the international bureaucracy, should chart the course for the U.N. system.

As long as pro-life governments exist — and there are many stalwart pro-life governments — it is inappropriate and illegitimate for the U.N. to unilaterally advance abortion on demand. In fact, the powerful pro-life voice of the United States alone renders the U.N.’s continual promotion of abortion promotion and this new partnership illicit.

As the U.S. recently articulated in a statement to the U.N.: “There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.” This has been a consistent and frequent stance of the U.S. government, one that has garnered widespread support from countries across the globe.

12. M.D. Aeschliman remembers Malcolm Muggeridge. From the reflection:

As is inevitable with truly great satire, the satirist had become a moralist. Over the four decades from 1920 to the ’60s, Muggeridge increasingly felt the pull of “transcendence and grace” (his phrase). By the ’60s he had become an independent, churchless Christian, and much of his activity and writing in the last three decades of his life were devoted to defending and resurrecting the Christian tradition. He made a series of powerful documentaries for television, including Something Beautiful for God (1970–71) on Mother Teresa of Calcutta; royalties of the book version supplied the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta with their largest source of income for many years afterward. He made a series of films entitled “A Third Testament,” on Saint Augustine, Pascal, William Blake, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, following it with a book (1976). He wrote essays on Simone Weil and Dostoevsky, books on Jesus (Jesus Rediscovered, 1969; Jesus: The Man Who Lives, 1975) and Saint Paul (first as a film with his old Cambridge clergyman friend and don Alec Vidler, retracing Saint Paul’s voyages, then the book, Paul: Envoy Extraordinary, 1972). He drew attention to the survival and prospering of Christianity in Russian and Eastern European anticommunist figures such as Solzhenitsyn, Anatoli Kuznetsov (author of Babi Yar), Svetlana Stalin, and Mihajlo Mihajlov, seeing them in the tradition of Dostoyevsky, whom he venerated and whose The Devils he thought the great, prophetic novel of the 19th century. He had searched for, found, and visited Dostoyevsky’s then-abandoned, untended grave in Leningrad on his way out of the Soviet Union in 1933.

13. Mario Loyola says that finally, there is a light at the end of the pandemic. From the analysis:

Work on a vaccine proceeds apace, and at least two different vaccines could be ready to start mass-production this month or next, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But as my colleague Dr. Joel Zinberg shows in a new report for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a vaccine cannot be relied upon to the end the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including uncertain compliance (a large number of people don’t get the flu vaccine despite the tens of thousands dead every year).

It has been clear for some time that overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic will require a broader strategy of prevention and therapeutics focused on those populations that are at greatest risk of severe disease: the elderly and infirm. COVID-19 is at least six times deadlier than the flu, but its deadliness is extremely concentrated among the elderly and people with certain comorbidities such as hypertension and pulmonary disease. In Indiana, for example, nursing-home residents accounted for 54.9 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. But in other groups, particularly children and young adults, COVID-19 is actually less dangerous than the flu.

Under auspices of the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, thousands of medical-health experts have signed a declaration that embraces “Focused Protection.” The “Great Barrington Declaration” has unfortunately proved greatly controversial, and has even been banned by outlets such as Reddit.

14. From Capital Matters, Douglas Carr offers a lesson on why deficits do matter. From the piece:

That said, deficits may be an efficient way to inject monetary stimulus into an economy. When the economy turns down, private investment is unlikely to immediately draw on monetary stimulus so government borrowing could do so, but monetary stimulus has had diminishing effects for decades, not only in the U.S., but in Japan and Europe as well.

The massive coronavirus intervention by the Federal Reserve, amounting to 15 percent of GDP, may be enough to overcome the headwinds that have made monetary stimulus less effective and is comparable to the CBO’s 2020 federal deficit forecast of 16 percent of GDP. This level of deficit is high enough to make whatever contribution it can to recovery.

Currently, private-sector investment is forecast to jump by Goldman Sachs and others. But higher government deficits could crowd this out. Retail sales are at record highs while August’s trade deficit was near its record (which preceded the great financial crisis) suggesting there is no shortfall of aggregate demand. Third-quarter growth is forecast at 25 to 35 percent annualized, shattering by 50 to 100 percent the all-time U.S. record rate of 16.7 percent. More deficit spending will just get in the way of private-sector recovery, hamper investment, and squeeze U.S. manufacturing.

The government deficit does indeed matter for both present and future generations. What we really owe ourselves and our children is to close it.

Huzzah! The New Issue of National Review Awaits Your Peepers

It’s the November 2, 2020 “Special Election Issue,” all chockablock with wisdom, insight, and debate. If you are an NRPLUS member (not? Well, become one, right now, right here) you can read the entire shebang. That said, here’s a sampler that would make Whitman’s jealous.

1. Andrew C. McCarthy makes the case, “Trump: Yes.” From the essay:

Because Trump is president, and for no other reason, there is a real chance that a solid originalist majority could steer the high court for a generation to come, guided by the vision of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia and anchored by Justice Clarence Thomas’s enduring commitment to the Founders’ Constitution. Because of President Trump’s election in 2016, Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are just two of 218 jurists — adherents to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation models of judicial restraint, rather than the lawyer-Left template of progressive activism—who have been appointed to the federal bench. This includes a remarkable 53 conservative judges added to the all-important circuit courts of appeals, which decide many more cases than the Supreme Court and largely determine the jurisprudence that decides cases throughout the United States.

Donald Trump did that. But it is a transformation that has yet to be solidified. Many of the slots filled by Trump judges were previously held by Reagan and Bush 41 appointees who took senior status or retired. That enabled a Republican president to fill the vacancies, with indispensable assistance from a GOP-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell. To make the judicial branch a bulwark against the unconstitutional overreach and stifling of liberty that a future Democratic-dominated government would portend requires reelecting the president. That is to say, Donald Trump’s candidacy is once again the thin barrier separating what remains of our constitutional order and the very different governing construct that Democrats would impose.

Trump’s candidacy is the difference between retaining the most unapologetically pro-life administration in American history, and having one that would implement a regime of abortion on demand, abortion at late term, and abortion underwritten at home and abroad by American taxpayers. Trump’s candidacy is the difference between having a Justice Department that invokes civil-rights laws to vouchsafe religious freedom, economic liberty, due process on campus, and colorblind college-admissions processes; and having one that contorts civil-rights laws to hamstring police, eviscerate due-process protections, promote the deranged notion of sexual identity as a mental state or social construct, and impose quotas and wealth redistribution based on the insidious “disparate impact” theory of implied, systematic, and institutional racism.

2. Michael Brendan Dougherty scores Joe Biden’s foreign-policy record. He finds a lot of folly. From the analysis:

Biden voted against Reagan’s defense build-up at every turn. He voted over and over to strip funding from the B-2 bomber project. While Ronald Reagan was encouraging the collapse of the Soviet Union through deft diplomacy and an increase of hard power, Biden was racking up high ratings from the Council for a Livable World, a peace-at-any-price group.

It’s not just that Biden is frequently wrong, it’s that he compounds his wrongness on foreign policy with dishonesty and exaggeration — for example, he claimed to be the sole figure responsible for ending genocide in Bosnia. But nowhere is this tendency more apparent than in his record on the Iraq War. In a 2019 interview with NPR, he tried to explain his votes that had been supportive of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. He blamed Bush for misleading him. Bush “said he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program,” he explained. “He got them in and before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’”

Except, Biden had argued since the late 1990s that Hussein would never give up his weapons program peacefully. In hearings before the war, he had openly mocked a weapons inspector, saying that “as long as Saddam is at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program.” He would go on to say that everyone knew that, in the end, U.S. troops would have to take Saddam out. By 2004, though, he was telling the Council on Foreign Relations, “I never believed they had weapons of mass destruction.”

3. Peter Tonguette shares thoughts and recollections on the great Ray Bradbury, his yearning for things simpler, his anticipation of things sterile. From the piece:

Like Kurt Vonnegut, born just two years later (1922) and one state over (Indiana), Bradbury made it his business to speculate about the future but retained a healthy appreciation for the past. Both men were Luddites; Vonnegut railed against the Internet, while Bradbury, a nondriver, declined to participate in the automobile revolution. While the moon landing had no greater fan than Brad bury, his enthusiasm for science fiction often seemed less rooted in an interest in technological advances than in nostalgia for the enthusiasms of his youth. Inter viewed for a documentary on the BBC, he referred to his basement home office as his “nest” — a womblike space filled with magic sets, filmstrips, and other bric-a-brac of a 1920s-era childhood in America. “I’m surrounded by science-fiction books,” Bradbury said. “Comic strips: Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon. All of these things which are my security blankets.”

Despite being a resident of Los Angeles since adolescence, Bradbury again and again permitted his imagination to wander to the Midwest, which he reproduced in his fiction in the form of Green Town, whose residents apparently have it all over Los Angelenos. “Well, he felt sorry for boys who lived in California where they wore tennis shoes all year,” Bradbury wrote in one of his Green Town books, Dandelion Wine (1957), “and never knew what it was to get winter off your feet, peel off the iron leather shoes all full of snow and rain and run barefoot for a day and then lace on the first new tennis shoes of the season, which was better than barefoot.”

Even Bradbury’s works of fantasy and horror, despite their moments of genuine terror and strangeness, depict small-town life as vividly as the work of Booth Tarkington; Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Bradbury said, was a key source of inspiration for The Martian Chronicles. “Wind rattled the empty trees,” he wrote in another Green Town novel, the masterly Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). “Sunlight, breaking through a small rift in the clouds, minted a last few oak leaves all gold.” In The Halloween Tree (1972), Bradbury effortlessly evoked the sheer bliss of All Hallows’ Eve — blissful not for the acquisition of candy but for the sights and sounds and smells. “Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

Some may wonder whether the man responsible for such high-flown, misty-eyed prose has anything to say to readers muddling through the confused, contentious reality of 2020. In fact I remember wondering, when the corona-virus pandemic prompted, or compelled, Americans to withdraw to their homes, whether we might collectively return to Green Town-style virtues for a season — to disconnect from our devices and permit ourselves to luxuriate, as Bradbury did, in the howl of the wind, the rays of the sun, and the aroma emanating from the kitchens of our mothers.

4. Matthew Kroenig finds Gen. H.R. McMaster’s new book, Battlegrounds, to be a gem. From the review:

This may not be the book that we want, but it is the book that we need. After just over one year, McMaster was reportedly forced out of office after clashing with the president on matters of both substance and style. Many will be disappointed that, unlike other former senior Trump-administration officials, McMaster has not written a gossipy “tell all” about his time in the White House. But that would have been a waste of his considerable intellect and experience, which are much better suited for this weightier work.

His central argument in Battlegrounds is that U.S. foreign and defense policy has too often been plagued by “strategic narcissism.” In other words, we see the world narrowly through our own prism and repeatedly view dangerous adversaries as we wish them to be, not as they really are. For example, Washington hoped that China would become a “responsible stakeholder” in the U.S.-led, rules-based international system. In 2015, the Obama administration bet that a nuclear deal with Iran would strengthen the moderates in Tehran and usher in a new era of cooperation with the West. Currently, U.S. officials see the Taliban as a potential peace partner in ending the 19-year-long-and-counting war in Afghanistan. According to McMaster, all of these views were misguided because our enemies have other ideas.

He argues that a better national-security policy would begin with “strategic empathy.” We should see our adversaries as they really are. What are their worldviews, goals, and strategies? And how does the United States fit into their calculation, not the other way around? It is only by first understanding our adversaries that we can begin to formulate effective strategies for dealing with them. He approvingly cites Sun Tzu’s aphorism that “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

This recurring theme holds the book together well without clogging the narrative. Indeed, the book is very well written, weaving in the author’s experience and analysis seamlessly with a recounting of recent history and current events.

The book is studiously nonpartisan and apolitical, as we might expect from a career military officer who swore an oath to serve any duly elected commander in chief. Indeed, in recent interviews, the general has even said that he has never voted because he does not want partisan politics to interfere with his commitment to country.

Lights. Camera. Reviews!

1. Armond White finds What Killed Michael Brown? — the new documentary by Eli and Shelby Steele — to be worth your while, even if it’s not worth Amazon’s. From the review:

Fact is, there is a Michael Brown mythology, as indicated by that Jackie Brown-style title graphic. Perhaps unwittingly, the Steele duo evokes the 1744 English nursery rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin?” This folkloric ditty, about heroism and shifting political power (honoring either the Robin Hood legend or the end of Sir Robert Walpole’s government), derived from the complex human awareness passed down through the ages as a children’s rhyme.

Although the Steeles don’t delve into the folklore of black rebellion wherein successive generations act upon the previous generation’s experience of racism, the Steeles seem keenly aware of the folkloric delusions that attach to historical accounts. Shelby Steele calls it “poetic truth, a distortion of the actual truth.”

Based on the ethics of Shelby Steele’s bootstrap black conservatism, What Killed Michael Brown? is a rare doc that opposes the media’s current trend of fabricating race and “justice.” Shelby Steele rightly suspects that term and so redefines it: “There’s already a framework of meaning in place. You don’t think so much as step into that meaning.” The new, rejiggered excuses and expectations of racialized justice are what killed Michael Brown.

Related: The cancellers at Amazon Prime has denied the Steeles’ video from being carried. David Harsanyi has the pathetic news. Read the Corner post.

2. More Armond: He gives a boo to the new socialism-loving Italian film, Martin Eden. From the beginning of the review:

Millennials need a hero, and the protagonist in the new Italian film version of Jack London’s 1909 novel Martin Eden has been expatriated to fit the bill. The film’s almost unanimous critical reception can be explained by its hero’s infatuation with socialism. Martin (played by Italian actor Luca Marinelli) scoffs at the working class’s naïve, union-based political sentiments until he formulates his own similar, self-serving philosophy.

Martin’s version of layperson urbanity, propelled by his enthrallment with Elena (Jessica Cressy), an educated yet naïve beauty from the wealthy Orsini family, matches those students who take to the streets full of benighted zeal but lacking in real-world experience. Martin reads and interprets Baudelaire his own simplistic way; he’s an autodidact and solipsist who rails against the establishment and despite the odds becomes a literary sensation and political orator. His career reflects the current fashion in ideological groupthink — also a defect of our partisan critical constabulary that has made Martin Eden a film-festival favorite.

But the film’s basic class problem is also an impediment to its popularity. Martin resembles those mainstream media stars who get their reputation from social-media sarcasm, except that the tall, intense actor Marinelli is physically different; he makes for a burly, roughneck poet strutting down the street, often with two books in his manly one-handed grip. Brimming with spleen and ideals, he makes a vow: “Turn myself into one of the eyes through which the world sees. I want to become a writer.”

3. Even MORE Armond: Our fearless reviewer is the author of a new book, Make Spielberg Great Again: The Steven Spielberg Chronicles. Your Humble Correspondent’s copy of this 400-page gathering of essential Armond’s reviews and essays (from four-plus decades of brilliant cinema-viewing) has been ordered, and you might do likewise.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Claremont Review of Books, William Voegeli asks and answers the questions, with details basic and far-reaching, about Joe Biden, The Weak, heading the vanguard of the Wokeletariat. It’s exhaustive and a must-read. From the article:

So what is the basis for these claims about Biden’s electability against Trump?

Two things: the former vice president’s personal decency and political moderation.

“Character is on the ballot,” Biden said in his acceptance speech to the party’s virtual convention, as are “[c]ompassion . . . [d]ecency, science, and democracy.” Democrats and journalists — not readily distinguishable groups — have joined in treating Biden’s decency as his defining quality. His acceptance speech “captured the romance of decency,” wrote the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson. After Biden’s Super Tuesday triumphs, historian Matthew Dallek gushed that the former vice president “exudes decency.”

Concerning moderation, Biden’s career “has been distinguished mostly by careful centrism,” in Osnos’s words. That career encompassed decades when Democrats suffered politically for the Great Society’s failures. Long before President Clinton was triangulating, Senator Biden was actively trying to accommodate skepticism about big government and social justice, skepticism which elevated Reagan and then Newt Gingrich. As a freshman senator worried about reelection, Biden became “the Democratic Party’s leading anti-busing crusader” in the 1970s, the New York Times reported last year. His commitment to this cause included collaborating with North Carolina Republican senator Jesse Helms on an amendment that reduced the federal government’s ability to withhold funds from school districts that failed to meet desegregation benchmarks. “Biden’s advocacy made it safe for other [Senate] Democrats to oppose busing,” wrote the Times.

During his first Senate term, Biden was capable of sounding more conservative than many of his Republican colleagues on the broader question of government’s capacity to effect social reforms. He rejected a full-employment bill co-sponsored by liberalism’s grand old man, saying that Hubert Humphrey “isn’t cognizant of the limited, finite ability government has to deal with people’s problems.” The socialist magazine Jacobin recently scorned Biden as “the Forrest Gump of the Democratic Party’s Rightward Turn.”

2. At Catholic World Report, the great Daniel J. Mahoney examines the Pope’s new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, and finds it theologically frutti. From the beginning of the essay:

Pope Francis has written an encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on “fraternity and social friendship” that is unique in the history of the genre. It is not addressed to his brother bishops or the universal Church per se, but rather speaks to universal humanity in a manner befitting its broadly humanitarian message.

A cross between an encyclical and a humanitarian manifesto, it invokes the authority of Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and the 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration at least a dozen times, as if to say that the Holy Roman Pontiff is just one religious partisan of global humanity, among others. The encyclical’s presentation of the requirements of fraternal love partakes of humanitarian ideology as much as any distinctive Christian teaching. I say this without polemical intent. In proclaiming “fraternity without borders” and a “politics of love” (#180-182) in recognizing “local flavor” (#143-145) and global humanity as the twin poles of human existence, Pope Francis seems to bypass or overlook the familial and national expressions of fraternity and social friendship, that is to say the common good of a free and decent society.

Pope Francis’s identification of fraternity with humanity as such largely ignores the naturalness of love of one’s own and the dangers of embodying fraternity or social friendship at the level of unmediated Humanity. One critic at Crisis magazine has rightly faulted the pope’s enthusiastic adoption of the French revolutionary slogan “liberty, equality, and fraternity” (#103-111) in seeming abstraction from the totalitarian import of that revolutionary slogan. Pope Francis is surely no friend of totalitarianism, but he never acknowledges that politically enforced fraternity, grounded in abstract sentimentality, can give rise to new and inhuman forms of despotism. A prominent French aristocrat turned revolutionary once famously proclaimed “Be my brother, or I will kill you.” Those words continue to chill the soul and to reveal the essence of revolutionary terror.

The lesson is clear: Brotherhood, devoid of a sense of moral reciprocity and a deep appreciation of the capacity of fallen men for evil, is capable of giving rise to the antithesis of true fellow-feeling and, indeed, to truly monstrous forms of political oppression. But sin and evil are barely acknowledged in this encyclical other than the predictable attack on the “hidden powers” that are alleged to manipulate markets and a liberal economic order. The words are barely mentioned.

3. At the Foreign Policy Research Institute, our amigo grande John Hillen scopes out the dueling visions of Trump and Biden. From the essay:

While President Obama implicitly challenged that consensus with notions such as “leading from behind” and “focusing on nation building here at home,” Candidate Trump came into office with a more forceful rejection of the American role consensus. He pointed out to the American public that the assumptions behind the old foreign policy consensus were all being called into question by outcomes, and he would vigorously re-examine and challenge them. Unconventional Republican candidates had proposed this more nationalist and populist agenda before — Pat Buchanan memorably resurrected the Taft-ian tradition of Republican foreign policy in the 1990s, but these efforts mostly ended up trying to shape the occasional plank in the party platform, not disassembling the post-WWII general foreign policy consensus.

And President Trump held to his promises. On trade, he has broken with a decades-long bipartisan consensus around free trade that has seemed to leave whole constituencies out of its benefits and fuel the rise of competitive states — at our expense in his mind. He has been more skeptical than even hardline Republicans of the past about international organizations, treaty arrangements, alliances, arms control agreements, and diplomacy in general.

While his opponents — I think fixated on his tone and style — have criticized his belligerent tone, for his part, President Trump has claimed to be the peace president and has taken an even more aggressive stance than President Obama (who came to national attention largely as an anti-war candidate) about reducing U.S. troop presence and security guarantees in the Middle East and Afghanistan — and even Europe. And President Trump has asked far more explicitly than administrations past for allies to pick up more of their share of the cost for the enduring U.S. presences overseas.

On the human rights front, presidents as different as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan embraced in their own way what might be called “the freedom agenda”— a central tenet of American policy since the beginning of the Cold War even if subjected to very different tactics by various presidents. President Trump has not shown enthusiasm for this — although it is possible he could find his own way of expressing this long-standing pillar of American policy. And finally, he shuffled the deck on the traditional treatment of allies and adversaries, sometimes seeming to apply more pressure to the former than the latter.

None of this is to say that his foreign policy has been wrong, bad, or unsuccessful. It’s simply to note his break with consensus. On some issues, his very willingness to break with a consensus has sort of unclogged some clogged pipes — and produced results that seemed suspended by the consensus approach. He correctly read not only the mood of much of the American public in 2016 about populist and nationalist themes, but he also was aided by the simple observation that this American-led liberal convergence agenda was not producing the results its architects had promised over the years.

4. At First Things, Kenneth Craycraft explores the hard-core anti-Catholicism of Kamala Harris. From the piece:

Harris’s animus toward Catholicism is not limited to inquisition of Catholic nominees for federal courts, but also extends to harassment of public organizations whose missions are consistent with Catholic moral theology. In using her public offices to advocate against such institutions, Harris has earned broad financial support from pro-abortion individuals and groups.

For example, in 2016, when the Center for Medical Progress exposed evidence that Planned Parenthood was illegally trafficking organs and tissues from aborted children, then California attorney general Harris authorized a raid on the home of CMP’s David Daleiden, seizing video footage substantiating the evidence. Subsequently, Harris’s office conspired with Planned Parenthood, one of her generous political supporters, in drafting bill-of-attainder style legislation against CMP.

Similarly, in 2015, Harris was an enthusiastic advocate of California’s so-called Reproductive FACT Act, which forced pro-life pregnancy centers to inform their clients where they could obtain free abortions and to advertise abortion clinics. Claiming to have “co-sponsored” the FACT Act, Harris praised then California governor Jerry Brown for signing it into law. (In 2018, the Supreme Court struck the law under the First Amendment’s speech clause.) And in 2015, she used her power as California attorney general to put six Catholic hospitals out of business on behalf of another of her political patrons, the Service Employees International Union.

As a U.S. senator, Harris introduced the Orwellian “Do No Harm Act,” the purpose of which is to force religious individuals and organizations to engage in activities that directly violate their firmly held religious beliefs. And she is a co-sponsor of the “Equality Act,” which would force Catholic hospitals, for example, to perform gender transition surgeries, open women’s restrooms to men, and force girls and women to compete against boys and men in athletic competitions.

5. More Claremont Review of Books: John O’Sullivan explains what it’s like to be unfriended by Anne Applebaum, done in her new book, Twilight of Democracy. From the review:

If Applebaum can’t quite identify the causes of upheaval, she’s still more puzzled over why some friends ended up on the wrong side of the barricades. “What, then, has caused this transformation?” she asks. “Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades?”

The rest of her book is an attempt to discover the explanation mainly by interrogating the careers and opinions of those of her friends who have transformed so mysteriously. These interrogations are interrupted from time to time with her own reflections on politics and political theory that may throw some light on the problematic biographies. For example, she sees parallels to some of the new “authoritarians” in the French intellectuals of the interwar years whom Julien Benda criticized in his classic study, The Treason of the Intellectuals (1928), for subordinating the love of truth and beauty to partisan ideologies. These reflections are interesting, and I generally agree with them (though I have always thought Benda could have made a good living using a steamroller to crack Brazil nuts), but they don’t seem to fit, let alone explain, the very different personalities who are the mainstays of the narrative.

That is especially true of the chapter describing the writers, columnists, and politicians around the London Spectator, where Applebaum was their colleague for some years, many of whom were also active supporters of Brexit. They are an exceptionally distinguished bunch, as it happens, including Boris Johnson, Simon Heffer, Roger Scruton, and, ahem, me. I can’t really complain about the portrait of me which suggests a combination of boulevardier (jovial, witty, fond of champagne) and James Bond villain who emerges from behind the scenes occasionally to cast Scotland aside unsentimentally or to move Viktor Orbán around on the international chessboard. But the glaring difficulty about my assistants, Johnson, Heffer, and Scruton, is that there doesn’t seem to be an iota of evidence that they are in any way “authoritarian.” Or that Brexit was an essentially authoritarian idea or development in British politics. Quite the reverse. It was plainly a campaign to restore Britain’s status as a self-governing democracy.

6. At The Red Line, Red Jahnke, the All Things Connecticut guru, lays out the Constitution State’s dismal future, courtesy of the public-employee unions’ chokehold on taxpayer dollars. From the analysis:

No one really knows where the state and the country are headed economically. The good news is that the state’s rainy day fund has grown to $3 billion since 2017. Lamont said he would use most of the fund to close the budget gap.

Just days before, the governor announced his hiring of Boston Consulting Group to find $500 million in annual state savings, primarily from workforce attrition. The goal is to automate or eliminate many job functions, so that the expected retirement before mid-year 2022 of an estimated one-third of the state’s 49,000-person workforce will require the fewest possible replacements.

Of course, Lamont could have saved one-quarter of the savings target by using his emergency powers to cancel the $135 million state employee pay raise last July 1st.

That would have caused employees little pain, as demonstrated by a recently released Yankee Institute study, which found that Connecticut’s state and municipal employees (excluding teachers) are paid about $20,000 per year more than their private sector counterparts. That translates into an aggregate annual premium of almost $1 billion for 49,000 state employees, assuming they and municipal employees enjoy equivalent pay.

This enormous pay premium has persisted for well over a decade. If, during the past decade, state officials had followed a hiring policy of pay parity with the private sector, Connecticut would have saved billions, helping to close much of the huge gap between the $13 billion currently in the State Employee Retirement Fund (SERF) and its estimated future labilities of $34 billion.

7. At Real Clear Politics, Mark Mitchell explores the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters, and finds it revolutionary. From the piece:

Black Lives Matter and other revolutionary groups have gained significant rhetorical advantage by claiming that racism is “systemic.” They insist that racism is embedded “in the DNA” of all American social, cultural, and political systems. If that is the case, then individuals who affirm the moral equality of all people and seek to live their lives according to that standard are nevertheless deeply entwined in racist structures. They are racists and don’t even know it. They have benefited from racist “systems” and therefore are guilty. They must be punished and re-educated. Racist systems must be destroyed. The rhetoric of “systemic” racism makes race guilt unavoidable and revolution increasingly possible. Race guilt is antithetical to reconciliation, peace, or justice. It provides a rhetorical cudgel with which to dominate opponents, and revolution is the means to destroy the current order and usher in a Marxist-utopian paradise.

The modern sophist is adept at constructing jingles and pithy phrases that take hold of the imagination and come to be seen as profound truths even if they are utter nonsense. In recent protests, the phrase “silence is violence” has been employed as a means of coercing individuals to bow to mob pressure. It sounds profound — after all, it rhymes — but it is a vacuous claim masquerading as deep truth. Its purpose is to compel an individual to join the chants of the crowd lest one be accused of condoning, or even participating in, the violence that, we are repeatedly told, is ubiquitous. There is no interest in engaging in rational debate. Modern sophists have no time for such diversions. They have no interest in the truth or in better understanding the complexities of human affairs. They are too busy dismantling the world.

8. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on the Saudis’ exhaustion with the Palestinians. From the beginning of the piece:

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz’s scathing and unprecedented attack on the Palestinian leadership, during an interview aired by Saudi Al-Arabiya television station on October 6, adds Saudi Arabia and its citizens to the growing list of Arabs who regard the Palestinians as “ungrateful.”

During the interview, the prince, a former Saudi ambassador to the US, said that “the Palestinian cause is a just cause, but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust, but its advocates have proven to be successful.”

He accused the Palestinians of cozying up to Saudi Arabia’s foes, Iran and Turkey, and criticized them for accusing the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of betrayal for agreeing to establish relations with Israel.” He also accused the Palestinians of “ingratitude or lack of loyalty” toward Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that supported them for decades.

After the interview, many Saudis and other Gulf citizens expressed support for Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz’s criticism of the Palestinians, with some saying the time has come for a new Palestinian leadership that prioritizes its people’s interests and does not pocket the financial aid sent to them by the Arab countries and the West.

“I believe that the time has come to form a permanent Arab committee under the umbrella of the Arab League to manage the Palestinian issue and conduct face-to-face dialogue with Israel,” said Emirati columnist and political analyst Abdullah Nasser Al-Otaibi. “Today, after this very revealing and frank talk (by the Saudi prince), I strongly believe in the need for the Arabs to find a way to manage the Palestinian issue.”

9. At The College Fix, Kat Mouawad reports on Duke University professors creating a minor in “Inequality Studies.” From the article:

The minor would cover several different courses from the Cook Center, which focuses on taking a “cross-national comparative approach to the study of human difference and disparity,” in conjunction with Duke courses in a variety of fields, according to the center’s description.

However, some professors raised objections about how the minor would balance the minor’s “coherency” with diversity and the “breadth of study,” according to the Chronicle. Others raised questions about the proliferation of minors and overlap with other minors.

The College of Arts and Science currently offers a variety of minors, including minors in African and African American Studies, cultural anthropology, cultural studies and sociology.

Duke University is not the only institution to offer a minor in inequality.

For example, Cornell University offers an Inequality Studies minor. The school described it as “appropriate for students interested in public and private sector employment, policy, and civil society,” and “those who wish to pursue graduate and professional degrees in a variety of fields.”

Baseballery

They have come fast and furious these last few weeks, the deaths of baseball greats, Tom Seaver, Joe Morgan, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and Whitey Ford. Rest in peace all.

The Chairman of the Board and the mainstay, along with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, of the Yankees’ amazing pennant-run from 1949 through 1964, local boy Edward Charles Ford first took the mound from the Bronx Bombers in 1950, and registered an impressive rookie record of 9-1, with a 2.81 ERA. His career record — he threw his last pitch on May 21, 1967 in Detroit, with the Tigers’ Jim Northrup earning the distinction of being the last batter faced as Ford’s dependable arm, troubled by circulation problems, finally giving up after 16 seasons — was 236-106, with a 2.75 ERA. His .690 winning percentage is the best in baseball history for pitchers with over 200 wins.

Ford pitched in 11 World Series, earning a 10-8 record for six Yankee world championship teams. His passing prompts thoughts that frequently consume the limited imagination of Your Faithful Author, about how some players serve as special links to quite past and quite future times. We hereby contend that Whitey Ford was one such bridge.

In his rookie season, pitching at Comisky Park on July 30, 1950, in what would have to rate as one of the earliest and indeed worst outings of his career, Ford started but only got one out in the First Inning before being relieved, as the White Sox pounded the rookie for three quick runs on four hits (Ford earned no decision as the Yankees would go on to win the game, 4-3). One of those hits came from future Hall of Famer Luke Appling, who smacked a run-scoring triple off Ford. It would be the only time the two greats would face each other — Appling’s 20-year career, all spent with Chicago, mostly at shortstop, and which never included a World Series appearance, would end that October.

Appling first made it to the Big Leagues in 1930 in mid-September, when he started six straight games for the Pale Hose, gathering a hit in each of them — he’d accumulate 2,749 over his two decades with the anemic Sox, which included two seasons as the AL batting champion (he hit a monster .388 in 1936) and a .310 career average.

The Appling-Ford sweep accounts for 36 seasons. On the back end: Whitey’s last MLB win, a complete game, came on April 25, 1967 against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. In an 8-hitter, the Bronx Bombers defeated Chicago 11-2. The losing pitcher: A young Tommy John. Only 24, he was already in his fifth MLB season, and would have 21 more to pitch by the time he hung up his spikes in 1989. In two of those seasons, 1970-71, while John was still pitching for Chicago, Appling was back in the White Sox dugout, this time as a coach. In the small and childish mind of your Humble Correspondent, that brought full-circle the connection between two Hall-of-Fame greats and one oughta-Hall of Famer.

A Dios

Tip generously. Write and mail a thank-you note instead of an email. And remember that none of the Ten Commandments includes your name with an exception clause.

Would that God Aid Us from Screwing Up of this Last Best Hope of Earth,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your mash notes at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Packing History

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Nope, they didn’t hear from Hill 24 (it’s a pretty good movie, pray TCM shows it again someday), nor did we hear from Kamala Harris when asked directly by Vice President Mike Pence (debate moderator Susan Page couldn’t trouble herself to perform the important task) if she and ticket-mate Joe Biden would say yes or no to court packing. Harris took the opportunity to write a new chapter in history: Contriving a Lincolnian imprimatur for the Democrats’ opposition to Amy Coney Barrett, she time-traveled to 1864, when Honest Abe, we’re told, delayed a SCOTUS nomination to allow for a presidential election.

Too bad it didn’t happen that way. Moderator Page (lacking any Candy Crowley gumption) did not tell the California Senator, “Umm, that’s baloney. And your pants are on fire too.”

Dan McLaughlin — who has emerged as the guru of SCOTUS-Election-Year-nomination history — did see the flames. As he recounts with impeccable authority, the facts from 1864 were quite different from Harris’ . . . fiction (our headline writer dubbed it dishonesty). Here’s Dan’s post from The Corner:

It was impossible to miss how Kamala Harris, like Joe Biden, refused to answer questions about their plans to expand the Supreme Court. But she also misrepresented history.

Harris claimed at the VP debate that Abraham Lincoln refused to nominate a candidate for Chief Justice in October 1864 because “Honest Abe said, it’s not the right thing to do” and wanted the people to vote first.

Lincoln, of course, said no such thing. He sent no nominee to the Senate in October 1864 because the Senate was out of session until December. He sent a nominee the day after the session began, and Salmon P. Chase was confirmed the same day. And Lincoln wanted to dangle the nomination before Chase and several other potential candidates because he wanted them to campaign for him. Lincoln’s priority was winning the election, which was necessary to win the war — and he filled the vacancy at the first possible instant.

Kamala Harris is simply inventing history.

Sorry to mansplain, Senator.

So, why is mum the word when it comes to Biden-Harris admitting to their desire to see SCOTUS packed? Because, as Andy McCarthy analyzes, that media, which postures itself as the guardian of our Republic, won’t call them on it. It’s all quite purposeful. From Andy’s piece:

Why do they do this? Because they are sympathetic to the radical Left. They believe, with good reason, that they need the energy of the radical Left to get elected. They understand that balancing act: They will have to accommodate the radical Left to some degree once in office . . . and if they do that a hair too much, their time in office will be short.

But mainly they remain mum because they know they can get away with it. They know the media, which would hound a Republican non-stop over the most mundane political dodges, or even hound them over ground already trod again and again — Have you condemned white supremacy in the last ten minutes? Yes or No! — will not challenge them in a serious way.

For two straight 90-minute debates, it’s been comical to watch Vice President Biden and Senator Harris not answer the court-packing question. Biden did it peremptorily, on the patently ludicrous rationale that, if he answered the question, it would become an issue. (Note how confident he is that, if he doesn’t answer the question, the media will prevent it from becoming an issue.) Harris tried the smooth-talk approach — Okay, let’s talk court-packing . . . and then blather on about courts but not about packing them — but she is no Obama, so it came off as amateur hour.

Note, however, that Biden and Harris have employed what should be futile stratagems with a decent amount of success: It’s been three weeks now, and they still haven’t had to answer. Why? Because only Republicans and conservatives are pressing the question. Mainstream journalists have not pushed the issue at the debates or on the campaign trail.

Do read the whole thing. If you can’t, because you’re not an NRPLUS member, well, isn’t it high time you became one? The answer is — yes. Fix that here. Now, let us avail ourselves of the bounty that awaits below in this Columbus Day Weekend Jolt.

Editorials

We argue the American people deserved transparency from the White House about President Trump’s COVID condition. From the editorial:

At this sensitive moment, it is of the utmost importance that the White House convey accurate information about the president’s condition. People tend to doubt official assurances about a sick leader’s health status in the best of circumstances, and the White House had limited credibility to begin with. It is now clear that the initial talk of the president having “mild” symptoms was misleading, and the White House physician Sean Conley compounded the offense in his press briefing Saturday at Walter Reed hospital by dancing around to avoid disclosing that the president had received supplemental oxygen. On Sunday, he admitted that he was trying, as he put it, to give an upbeat assessment to match the president’s positive attitude.

This won’t do. The guy in the white lab coat should simply give the public the facts about the president’s condition and treatment and leave the spin to the usual suspects. Meanwhile, the president needs to make it clear that he wants his doctors to be transparent, and waive HIPAA and other doctor-patient protections so they can do so.

Trump’s positive test, and those of the First Lady and a number of close aides, immediately raised questions about White House protocols around the virus. There is no doubt that the president has had a cavalier and disdainful attitude toward masks. He mocked Joe Biden for wearing one so often at last Tuesday’s debates.

Masks may be annoying, even more so because some promote them with such religious zeal, but wearing them, especially when indoors or in close proximity to others, is a low-cost way to at least diminish the spread of the virus. The White House believed that it could dispense with masks because it has a regime of daily testing. We now know the virus can slip through even frequently administered tests (and it turns out the tests used by the White House were prone to false negatives).

A Slew and Smattering of Sharp Stories and Savvy Studies for the Sanity-Seeking

1. Boy oh boy, Alexandra DeSanctis b*tch-slaps “mansplaining” debate commentary. From the Corner post:

Lots of progressives, especially left-wing feminists, suddenly have lots of thoughts to offer about the not-so-secret sexism that apparently motivates men every time they interrupt a woman. The fact that almost the entire media immediately fixated on this line of attack says a lot about how (badly) they thought Harris performed. It’s also evidence of how facile and superficial woke identity politics is.

What could possibly be more condescending than to say to a successful female politician, “You won because the man you were debating interrupted you a few times, and it made me feel bad for you”?

Pence interrupted both Harris and the moderator a few times. He shouldn’t have. Harris herself also interrupted Pence on more than one occasion, and she interrupted or spoke over the moderator. She shouldn’t have. None of this was evidence of sexism. It was, after all, a debate, where there’s generally a bit of back and forth and tension, and everyone expects the candidates to be contentious when attempting to make their point.

Mike Pence treated Harris exactly the way he would’ve treated a Democratic vice-presidential candidate who was a man, exactly the way he treated Tim Kaine in 2016. Harris’s cheerleaders should have more respect for her than to use this foolish argument in her defense.

2. About Joe Biden’s claimed record of defying dictators, David Harsanyi says — it’s invisible. From the article:

It was Obama who capitulated to Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization. “President Obama has made Russia’s W.T.O. membership a top priority for U.S.-Russia relations in 2011,” an administration official explained at the time.

Biden led that effort, telling the Russians in 2009 that it was “time to hit the reset button” after eight years of U.S. antagonism (George W. Bush, who had once looked into Putin’s steely eyes and perceived a “very straightforward and trustworthy” person, had reversed course.) Biden told Medvedev that accession to the WTO was “the most important item on our agenda.” His tough talk included things such as: “For my entire career, when I sat with a Russian leader, I was sitting with one of the most powerful men in the world, and that’s how we still think of you — I mean that sincerely.” Considering the “reset” was based on the notion that Russia was no longer a superpower, I think maybe Biden wasn’t being entirely sincere.

Obama’s famous 2012 debate quip about how “the 1980s are now calling” to ask for Romney’s foreign policy back didn’t merely trigger some gentle mocking on Twitter. The entire Obama foreign-policy crew sought to make a detailed case for why appeasing Putin was important.

Every foreign-policy issue during the Obama years was predicated on a false choice: war and appeasement.

3. Jeanne Mancini highlights Kamala Harris’s radical record on abortion. From the article:

So what can those who respect life expect from a Biden administration? The truth is found in the positions of his opportunistic running mate, Senator Harris. On Wednesday, she should be quizzed and made to take a clear stand on issues that Biden has dodged, including abortion and court-packing.

In September, Senator Harris bragged on a video call about “a Harris administration, together with Joe Biden as the president of the United States.” Days later, at a campaign event, Biden also talked of a Harris/Biden administration. Clearly, Harris would have more power than a typical vice president, making it especially critical for the American people to know where she stands on important issues.

No matter how you slice it, electing Biden and Harris would mean four years in which the unborn are under relentless attack. Unlike Biden, who changed his position on abortion out of political expediency, Harris has used her positions to further the abortion industry and hurt the weak and vulnerable. As California’s attorney general, she took an extremely aggressive approach to this issue, attacking pro-life pregnancy-care centers and citizen journalists looking to expose the barbarism of Planned Parenthood. This fealty to the abortion lobby continued after she was elected to the U.S. Senate, so much so that after she was named as Biden’s running mate, Planned Parenthood spent six figures on an ad proclaiming her “our reproductive health champion for vice president.”

4. Andrew McCarthy reports on once-upon-a-Commie and prominent hoaxer John Brennan’s role in promoting the Russia collusion narrative. From the piece:

I argued in Ball of Collusion that the Trump-Russia probe was not just an FBI investigation. It was based on several strands of intelligence, much of it from foreign intelligence agencies, that came into the CIA. In the early stages, Brennan was the main driver; the FBI’s role became more consequential in the latter stages (particularly when FISA warrants were sought).

By Brennan’s own account, outlined in his congressional testimony and public statements, he played the role of a clearinghouse. That is, he took information from foreign services, put his own analytical spin on it, and packaged it for the FBI. As Brennan put it in House testimony:

I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion — cooperation occurred.

I further explained in the book that, among the vehicles by which Brennan funneled information to the bureau, was “an interagency task force, comprised on the domestic side by the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department, and on the foreign-intelligence side by the CIA, the NSA, and the Office of National Intelligence Director James Clapper,” with the Obama White House also kept in the loop. Brennan was the catalyst, and the main FBI player in this arrangement was Strzok.

5. Jimmy Quinn reports on how an “Asian NATO” — comprised of Japan, Indian, Australia, and the U.S. — should be giving Red China the willies. From the analysis:

Pompeo, unsurprisingly, was blunt during the talks in Tokyo. During a speech in which he assailed the Chinese regime’s cover up of the coronavirus and its authoritarianism, he said, “As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion.” But the secretary of state’s counterparts declined to join him in explicitly naming the chief threat to the values that they share.

But while the others preferred to focus on their commitments to the freedom and inclusivity of the Indo-Pacific, that did not obscure the actions that their governments have taken of late to push back against CCP misconduct: India, which has seen a flare up in its Himalayan border dispute with China, recently banned dozens of Chinese apps that it claimed were vectors of influence for the Chinese party-state. Australia has in recent years rooted out foreign interference on its soil — and it provoked Beijing’s ire when it called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. And Japan’s Abe, of course, championed the very concept of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” before it became a staple of American policy planning documents.

Although these U.S. partners remain reluctant to make the Quad primarily and exclusively about combating Chinese influence, the four countries nonetheless seem poised to push forward on these talks with more regularity.

But if the Quad is unwilling to cement this partnership in a more institutionalized way, and if the group champions shared principles but not an explicitly anti-CCP message, what good can it actually do? Quite a bit, actually.

6. Because newspapers are so toadying to the Democrat Party, Isaac Schorr finds their candidate endorsing to be a pointless ritual. From the piece:

Part of the problem is that there was never any doubt as to which candidate would secure the Times and Post’s support. The former has not endorsed a Republican since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. The latter has never backed a GOP candidate for president. Their endorsement announcements come not as products of well-reasoned debate among an ideologically diverse group of thinkers, but as stagnant inevitabilities from an insular class of left-wing crusaders. Consequently, the endorsements are not dependent upon who the major party candidates are, what experience they bring to the table, or the policies they espouse. It’s a ritual, not a choice.

And the quality of their editorials on these matters suffer as a result. Honest appraisals of the Republican and Democratic visions are nowhere to be found, replaced by vapid wish-casting and villainizing. The Times asserts that Biden will re-instill the American people with confidence in our institutions, but he won’t even commit to opposing partisan court-packing efforts. He respects science, but supports on-demand abortion at any and every stage of development while demurring that there are “at least three” genders. He’ll purportedly entrust powerful positions in his administration to competent, qualified people, but he invited Kamala Harris — who aspires to become, as my colleague Cameron Hilditch put it, “queen of the post-constitutional remnants” of America — to join him on the Democratic ticket and promises to put perennial candidate Beto “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” O’ Rourke in charge of his administration’s gun-confiscation efforts. They say he has an impressive record of accomplishment in the Senate, but the only accomplishment that merits a mention is the Violence Against Women Act — parts of which were thrown out as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And that’s to say nothing of their aforementioned whitewashing of his abysmal foreign-policy record.

For its part, the Post parrots the Biden campaign’s talking points by deeming him “deeply empathetic” and rewrites history by calling Harris — who has not yet spent four full years in the Senate — the most qualified pick possible. In fact, it was made quite clear by Biden’s primary-season promise to pick a woman and Senator Amy Klobuchar’s pleas to pick one of color that Biden valued not qualifications but rather the “right” identity when choosing a vice president.

7. Pat Toomey will not seek reelection to the Senate in 2022. Jim Geraghty pays tribute to a great conservative. From the Corner post:

It’s hard to begrudge Toomey the decision to hang it up after two six-year terms. He turns 59 later this year. He’s done a lot of what he wanted to do in his ten years in the Senate, and the longer-term prospects for shrinking the size and spending of the federal government don’t look terrific, whether it’s a second-term of Trump, President Biden, or President Harris at some point in the future.

Toomey chased Arlen Specter out of the GOP early in the 2010 cycle, won two extremely hard-fought Senate races in a state that is purple at best, and is probably about as fiscally conservative as they come. (With one exception, Toomey was a full-spectrum consistent conservative, particularly considering he represented a swing state.) Lots of folks adopted the Tea Party as an identity to get elected; Toomey was for controlling spending long before it was popular and long after everyone abandoned it. Toomey doesn’t have a bad relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell or other GOP Senate leadership, but he doesn’t always agree with them, either. He’s wonky, cerebral, serious, and data-driven in a political era that doesn’t reward any of those traits. Much has been made of the Republican’s troubles in the suburbs in recent years. Back in 2016, Toomey carried Bucks County, 52 percent to 46.5 percent. His buttoned down, calm, even-keeled style reassured the soccer moms and white-collar commuters.

8. The trio of Jay W. Richards, Williams M. Briggs, and Douglas Axe find that the lockdowns had an effect that may be best described as bupkus. From the analysis:

How long? New infections should drop on day one and be noticed about ten or eleven days from the beginning of the lockdown. By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).

To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.

The lockdowns can’t be the cause of these transitions. In the first place, the transition happened even in places without lockdown orders (see Iowa and Arkansas). And where there were lockdowns, the transitions tended to occur well before the lockdowns could have had any serious effect. The only possible exceptions are California, which on March 19 became the first state to officially lock down, and Connecticut, which followed four days later.

9. Trey Traynor finds there will likely be unintended consequences that will catch short vote-by-mail advocates. From the piece:

Make no mistake, if the 2020 election continues beyond Election Day into litigation to determine a winner, the primary focus of all the parties will initially be the elimination of mail-in ballots that do not meet the numerous statutory requirements to be counted. Mail-in ballots are the low-hanging fruit in an election contest and the easiest way to put the true outcome of an election in question and thereby allow the courts to determine the winner. This situation is easily remedied by Americans simply showing up at the polls and voting in person.

Real-life examples from congressional primaries in the past few months forecast the many failings of mail-in voting. Note that mail-in voting is different from legitimate absentee and military/overseas voting, although recent reports show that even those votes are subject to mistreatment and potential loss.

On the surface, “vote-by-mail” sounds like a quick and easy way for every registered voter to participate in our democracy. In reality, it opens the U.S. to fraudulent elections on a massive scale that will probably result in invalid results, contested elections, and delays lasting weeks, if not months.

For example, New York State’s congressional primary was held on June 23. One congressional district did not have an official winner until August 4, and several competitive races took almost a month to finally settle. The delay in results is entirely the result of mail-in ballots. Similar problems have occurred this year in Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, and Georgia. Nationally, more than 500,000 mail ballots were rejected during this year’s primary season alone.

10. Court-packing, argues Charles C.W. Cooke, is a form of tyranny. From the commentary:

It is almost impossible to convey in words the monstrous enormity of what is being proposed, and yet it cannot be the case that our journalists lack the vocabulary with which to discuss it. For four years now, almost everything that President Trump has said and done has been met with language of the utmost urgency. We have heard about “shredded norms” and “threats to democracy” and “creeping fascism.” We have been warned that we are flirting with “totalitarianism” and “dictatorship” and even “concentration camps.” We have heard comparisons to Reichstag fires and the “secret police.” We have been told “This is not normal.” We have been informed that political parties that “ignore the law” are to be shunned. We have been regaled with lurid accounts of how nations decline. Often, this has been deserved, and, even when it has not, it has been justified on the grounds that free people remain free by acting prophylactically against encroachments. Now that it is the Democratic Party doing the threatening, however, the prose has become tentative, prosaic, and dull. Has there been a national recall on thesauruses?

Equally unlikely is that the lack of interest is the product of a lack of concern for the courts, for, when President Trump has criticized judicial decisions — or, worse, individual judges — he has been rightly lambasted. In a typical piece in The Atlantic, Garrett Epps described Trump’s verbal attacks as part of a “sordid war,” lamented that “the independent judiciary hasn’t faced such a direct attack since the Jeffersonians,” warned readers that we’re headed toward “mortally dangerous constitutional territory,” encouraged Americans to fall into “uproar,” and asked whether Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch would see fit to stand up against Trump’s rhetoric. If not, Epps inquired, “who will speak up for them when their time comes?”

One might now ask the same question of The Atlantic, which has started running pieces in favor of Court-packing, and of everyone else who has refused to engage. If, as Epps proposes, it was crucially important that John Roberts denounce Trump’s rhetorical provocations, surely it is utterly critical that the media and the legal profession assail the Democrats’ concrete threat until it is no more? We now have a series of prominent political figures who are not merely criticizing the Supreme Court but promising to destroy it, along with a presidential candidate who refuses to say whether he is on board — and still the matter is covered as if it were a minor dispute. Why? There is no honest calculation by which it can be more alarming for a president to rail impotently about judicial decisions than for the core of a political party to threaten to destroy the entire settlement.

11. More Court Packing, More Harsanyi: David argues the Democrat scheme — which has deep roots in the party’s progressive DNA — will destroy the judiciary. From the article:

Today, every instance in which Democrats are denied a political victory is immediately transformed into a national “crisis” in which the public has “lost faith” in a system that worked perfectly fine when they were in power. Not that long ago, self-interest was a motivation for defending deliberative politics and republican order. But these days, undeterred by reality, partisans have convinced themselves they’ll be in power forever.

It’s not merely the progressive fringe that demands Democrats blow up the courts. It is the partisan, self-proclaimed defenders of “norms.” In a recent piece in The Atlantic, the nation’s leading periodical of intellectual anti-constitutionalism, Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey argue that “if Republicans continue the smash-and-grab approach to confirming Barrett,” court-packing “may be the only way for Democrats to save the Court.”

The duly elected president and the duly elected Senate are observing the constitutionally stipulated guidelines for placing a highly qualified jurist on the Court. Someone will need to do a better job of explaining how dismantling the Court will “save” it. Now, perhaps if you’ve lost the ability to differentiate between ends and means, the idea makes intuitive sense to you. Perhaps you nod along as Biden spuriously argues that Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is nothing more than the exploitation of a “loophole” to undo the Affordable Care Act, ignoring the fact that we don’t know how she’ll rule on the Obamacare lawsuit (and the fact that either way, Obamacare isn’t some untouchable edict handed down from Mount Sinai). But back here in the real world, we know that court-packing would be far more destructive to our political order than anything Donald Trump has done, Barrett’s nomination very much included.

12. California is a place of embers, but, as Victor Davis Hanson writes, its governor is focusing on . . . reparations. From the column:

When fires raged, killed dozens, polluted the air for months, consumed thousands of structures, and scorched 4 million acres of forest, the governor reacted by thundering about global warming. But Newsom was mostly mute about state and federal green polices that discouraged the removal of millions of dead and drought-stricken trees, which provided the kindling for the infernos.

When gasoline, sales, and income taxes rose, and yet state schools became even worse, infrastructure remained decrepit, and deficits grew, California demanded that federal COVID-19 money bail out its own financial mismanagement.

In a time of pandemic, mass quarantine, self-induced recession, riot, arson, and looting, the California way is to borrow money to spend on something that will not address why residents can’t find a job, can’t rely on their power grid, can’t drive safely, can’t breathe the air, can’t ensure a high-quality education for their children, and can’t walk the streets of the state’s major cities without fear of being assaulted or stepping in excrement.

So it is a poor time to discuss reparations, even if there were good reasons to borrow to pay out such compensation. But in fact there are none.

13. Woke staffers at the Guggenheim Museum, reports Brian Allen, has gone batty. From the report:

“A Better Guggenheim” describes itself as a “collective of Guggenheim staff, past and present.” It’s got a website and an Instagram account, publishes a newsletter, offers job guidance, and, more to the point, demands that the trustees of the museum fire the museum’s director, chief curator, and chief operating officer.

Richard Armstrong, the director, “nurtures a culture of racism, sexism, and classism” at all the Guggenheim branches, the collective tells us. He has endorsed a work environment that’s “fundamentally unsafe” to employees. He has breached the museum’s and the Art Museum Directors Association’s code of ethics. He’s “atavistic.” Fred Flintstone, they’re coming after you next. Lucky for Tarzan, he’s not a museum director.

Armstrong said two exhibitions about Hispanic women artists had “a lot of Latina flair,” suggesting he believes that too much of a good thing is, well, too much. He prioritized new bookcases for his office while the lowest-paid curatorial staff worked in cubicles. That’s classist, I guess. That’s life, too, kids. Suck it up, he’s the director.

The collective is “dismayed by the Guggenheim’s failure to affirm the most basic fact: Black Lives Matter.” This statement is linked to BLM’s website, which continues to be cleansed of its most extreme positions, such as support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement, abolishing police departments, limitless immigration, racial quotas, and a socialist economy.

14. Cameron Hilditch contemplates J.R.R. Tolkien, sorta-anarchist. From the Corner post:

According to Tolkien, the main malady afflicting political language is euphemism. Orwell made a similar point in “Politics and The English Language,” but he didn’t fasten onto the issue of names the way Tolkien does. “Government” is nothing more or less than a huge apparatus built to threaten and inflict violence upon people within a given locality. In democracies, we elect the people who threaten and inflict this violence upon us, but it’s still violence all the same. Tolkien is making the point that our thinking about politics would be a lot clearer if it reflected this fact; that government is, at bottom, a process whereby certain individuals wield coercive power over others.

Euphemisms such as “the state,” “the government,” “public spending,” and “public services” mask this fact by drawing a veil of impersonal and lofty neutrality over the state that obscures what it actually does. That’s why getting “back to personal names” is so important. If, instead of saying “I’m filing my tax returns,” Americans were in the habit of saying “I’m forfeiting my property to Donald, Nancy, and Mitch at gunpoint,” we might start to think about taxation, and government in general, a lot differently.

15. The stakes are high, says Rich Lowry, so is it too much to ask President Trump to rise to the seriousness of the challenge? From the column:

The warnings from the right about the potentially existential stakes of 2020 often inveigh against Republican pundits critical of Trump yet never get around to urging any correction on the president’s part. Indeed, even as Trump, too, talks in dire tones about the consequences of a Biden victory, he doesn’t seem to have absorbed the message.

If the existence of the country itself is on the ballot, why not prepare better for debates? Why not use Twitter exclusively for messages that advance his cause rather than detract from them? Why waste any time on petty animosities and distractions? Why not write down a health-care plan and a COVID-19 plan to blunt Biden’s most potent issues?

Why not, in short, do a few things that are uncomfortable or unnatural in the cause of, you know, saving the country from imminent political destruction?

Of course, by this point, even asking these questions seems naive, although there were times in 2016 when Trump modulated his behavior enough to make a difference.

16. The headline of the analysis by Ed Haislmaier and John Goodman says it all — “Public Option Health Plans Haven’t Lowered Premiums.” From the article:

As these examples show, when competing on a level playing field, public option insurers offer little or no savings relative to private insurers. For a public option insurer to enjoy a significant price advantage the government would need to rig the market in its favor not only by requiring doctors and hospitals to participate, but also by forcing them to accept lower fees than those charged to its competitors. Indeed, such provisions are included in the public option bills sponsored by congressional liberals.

Yet all the benefits of competition begin to vanish if government tilts the scales in favor of one rival over another.

Some lawmakers tried to make a public option part of the original Affordable Care Act. Although they failed in that effort, they succeeded in including something similar: non-profit co-operative health plans with boards that did not include representatives from the conventional health-insurance industry.

The experience of the co-ops has been one failure after another, even though they initially received generous government subsidies not available to their competitors. Of the 23 co-op plans created under Obamacare, only four still survive — a 79 percent failure rate.

17. This Missive’s Author penned a piece on The Corner, recommending a most-worthwhile video/podcast from the Napa Institute featuring the great Hong Kong dissident, Jimmy Lai. Find the links here.

Capital Matters

1. Because we need to be retaught this time and again, Christos Makridis says that regulations are the enemy of the middle class and job-creation From the article:

Using data spanning every occupation over time, we show that a 10 percent rise in regulatory restrictions is associated with a 5.3 percent rise in STEM employment. Increases in regulatory restrictions are also associated with declines in lower- and middle-skilled jobs. That’s important, given that non-STEM jobs have historically served an important role for the middle class, creating opportunities for upward mobility and family stability. This marks one of the important unintended consequences of greater regulation.

Unlike prior studies that have sought to quantify the effects of regulation, our analysis uniquely isolates the responsiveness of STEM employment, relative to its non-STEM counterparts, to changes in regulation within the same sub-sector over time. This helps avoid concerns about spurious factors like overall changes in technology or a growing demand for the digital workforce.

What explains the link between regulation and STEM employment? Not surprisingly, we show that increases in regulation are associated with greater compliance costs. In this sense, the data suggest that firms, especially in financial services, hire STEM workers at least in part to automate more of their organizational activities, which reduces the scope for human error and raises the overall value of the business. In fact, according to some estimates, the market for regulatory technology (or “RegTech”) is expected to grow from $4.3 billion in 2018 to $12.3 billion by 2023.

In sum, the surge in regulation accelerated the shift toward STEM employment in financial services, adversely impacting many lower- and middle-skilled workers who traditionally relied on these jobs.

2. Mike Watson warns that electric vehicles will drive America’s manufacturing economy off the road. From the beginning of the piece:

Electric cars are quickly attaining a status in American culture previously reserved for mothers, Marvel movies, and apple pie: Everyone likes them. As the first presidential debate showed, Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on hardly anything, but they set aside partisanship when it comes to electric vehicles. Tesla’s stock has skyrocketed 400 percent this year, and Wall Street is showering even obscure brands with money. But danger lurks beneath the glowing headlines. China’s industrial policy prioritizes electric autos, and many Americans fear that the United States will lose out in this sector.

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) just released their plan, titled “The Commanding Heights of Global Transportation,” to regain the lead. The authors of the plan, which was signed by former Pacific Command chief Admiral Dennis Blair, lay out a comprehensive roadmap for winning the competition with China over our energy future by subsidizing electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, 5G internet and rare earth minerals. In doing so, they illustrate exactly how hard industrial policy will be going forward.

Their primary objective is to preserve the American automotive and truck-manufacturing industry. This is a worthy goal: Although fond reminiscences of old Chevys and Fords can lead discussions about the auto industry into unenlightening nostalgia fests, auto production is important for the United States. Millions of Americans owe their jobs to car manufacturing, which contributed over $500 billion to GDP last year.

3. Daniel Tenreiro explains why the Coronavirus-Relief legislation talks collapsed on Capitol Hill. From the piece:

So why would Republicans refuse the deal? It all comes down to the main sticking point: federal assistance to states and cities. Pelosi’s bill provides $500 billion in state and local funding and an additional $225 billion to public-school systems — more than double what Republicans are willing to agree to. And as with previous rounds of negotiations, Democrats have attempted to avail themselves of the recession to eliminate the cap on state and local tax deductions included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. National Review’s Kevin Hassett, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, estimates that the amount of assistance in the bill totals five times the revenue lost by states and localities from the COVID recession.

Cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are starting to feel the squeeze. New York’s bonds just received a downgrade from credit-rating agency Moody’s, even after the city cut $1 billion from the police department. California is facing a deficit as high as $54 billion, in addition to the seemingly insurmountable holes in its public-pension system — all while growing numbers of residents leave for low-tax states such as Texas and Arizona. Whereas tax hikes might have been feasible in the days of unlimited SALT deductions, they would now have the effect of accelerating the exodus from coastal cities.

It’s a nightmare scenario for Democratic governors long cleared of fiscal responsibility by the SALT deduction, mortgage deductions, and a handful of other backdoor subsidies to high-income states.

4. Charles Bowyer and Jerry Bowyer argue that Netflix’s production of Cuties merits shareholder activism. From the article:

Leaving aside for a moment the immorality of featuring this film — particularly in the way it was marketed — it was clearly a bad decision on Netflix’s part purely from a business perspective. According to data research company YipitData, Netflix saw a dramatic spike in cancellations after the story broke. Over the course of September, when the controversy over Cuties was particularly fervent, Netflix underperformed the NASDAQ technology sector, dropping by 5.6 percent compared with -3.7 percent for the NDXT.

As for how it happened, given that these decisions are likely made internally within Netflix’s marketing department, it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure, but it does illustrate the necessity of viewpoint diversity at big-tech firms. Would Netflix have designed a marketing campaign in this way if there were, say, some conservative Christians involved in the decision-making process? The lack of any programs to promote diversity of viewpoint at Netflix, or big tech generally, is at least partially to blame here. The reaction to this film has largely been one of outrage and disgust across the political spectrum, so care should be taken not to uniformly blame “the Left” for Netflix’s marketing of Cuties. But the campaign was using a political angle, by casting the child dance crew as a release from conservative family traditions. To be clear, the “conservative family traditions” in the film are those of traditional Islam, such as polygamy, but Netflix opted to use vague and politically charged language that conjured up orthodox religious values in general. Evidently, some employees at Netflix thought they could increase user engagement by portraying the sexual exploitation of minors as simply another bold act of defiance against conservative traditions as a whole. It is a reasonable assumption that a conservative marketer would not have gone down the road Netflix’s current team did.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Kyle Smith finds Red, White and Blue “biographically inaccurate and unsatisfying as drama.” From the review:

In effect, Red, White and Blue, which is based on a true story, is a remake of Serpico with race rather than corruption creating the dividing line between one idealistic cop and all the others. As Al Pacino’s Frank Serpico did in the Seventies, Boyega’s Leroy finds groups of chattering cops falling silent when he walks into the room, gets left nasty anonymous messages, and learns that the loneliest of men is a cop who calls for backup but finds none forthcoming. McQueen paints a vivid portrait likely to resonate widely in this season of anger with the police, but, as with Mangrove, the film is more of a polemic than a story. At an hour and 20 minutes, it seems to end before its third act. As it is, Red, White and Blue merely reaffirms a depressing reality: When an entire system is sick, no single individual, no matter how brave or well-intentioned, is likely to be able to make much of a difference. Casually racist remarks in break rooms, supervisors who urge Leroy to think of the community he supposedly serves as “a jungle,” and unnecessarily harsh treatment of suspects clarify what Leroy is up against. As we’ve seen in many previous honest-cop movies, the hero must choose a side: Either try to police the police or learn not to raise a fuss at departmental misconduct. If you do the former, you won’t last long as a cop. Moreover, you’re putting your life in danger.

2. Armond White watches Antebellum and finds the screen filled with race-hustling. Oh yeah: He drops the hammer on Janelle Monae. From the review:

Monae told a Variety podcast, “I didn’t know if this film [Antebellum] was life imitating art or art imitating life,” adding the usual prattle about “white supremists [sic]” and “systematic oppression.” Her facile political stances are as superficial as her cosmetic ruses and cartoonish costumes. She sings and dances in that narrow space between hip and histrionic — on the verge of moral schizophrenia. That’s the state of mind belonging to race hustlers who stave off the guilt of their success. They feel entitled to it, telling themselves it is for the good of the race, then demanding that the white world bow down to them. And guilt-ridden whites, in both the craven music industry and Hollywood, comply with the neo-blackmail.

Monae’s persecution complex directs everything she does and has ruined her showbiz potential. (She was almost inspiring in Hidden Figures.) It could be a generational thing, or it could also just be an affectation. But the proliferation of rotten movies like Antebellum tells us this repugnant self-righteous pop movement isn’t over yet.

Consider: Janelle Monae is not Josephine Baker, the legendary Negro performer who left behind American prejudice to become the toast of European exoticism — the Beyoncé of the Roaring Twenties. Monae epitomizes dime-a-dozen Black Lives Matter types like that program’s sexually disgruntled black female founders whose acrimony is based in deep-seated bitterness, an angry response to not-belonging. Baker made her way out of an enervating world into a different one, but Monae represents a new brand of race celebrity who, no matter how much acclaim and acceptance come her way, operates from a stance of resentment (unlike Kanye West’s singular mode of imaginative defiance).

3. More Armond: He finds in the rubble of David Byrne’s American Utopia a ruined pop icon. It’s the price of collaborating with Spike Lee. From the beginning of the review:

David Byrne’s American Utopia repudiates the beloved Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. In that 1984 release, director Jonathan Demme pared down the preppy New Wave group’s dance pop to its aural and visual art-rock essentials, revealing the discrete elements that make up pop music and heterogeneous American culture. Band leader David Byrne was able to combine his intellectual humor and his fascination for funk tribalism with Demme’s humanist worldview. Demme’s self-effacing cinematic sophistication transcended the sociological embarrassment about white funk that American Utopia puts full frontal.

The repudiation that occurs here owes to the white guilt and shame that has overtaken Millennial liberals — to the point that Byrne has rethought his past cultural globalism. Borrowing beats and rhythms from international cultures make the American Utopia project (album, Broadway show, and, finally, film) a post-Trump oddity. Although the president, formerly a hip-hop icon, goes unmentioned, American Utopia nevertheless responds to the fact that his 2016 election rattled liberal confidence — Byrne explicitly apologizes to Black Lives Matter during the film’s climactic musical number.

This qualifies as self-repudiation because for the first time in Byrne’s career, he stoops to make blatant political commentary in his art. The opening overhead shot of a starkly decorated stage with a desk and a chain-link curtain demarcates the performance space for an ensemble of diverse prancing musicians. All barefoot, dressed in unisex pantsuits like Byrne himself, the self-abnegating gray motif serves to blend — and not offend — racial and sexual difference. The minimalist décor in Stop Making Sense was stripped down, this is stripping away.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Quillette, Samuel Kronen reflects on Shelby Steele and his prescience. From the piece:

In Steele’s view, the explanation of black underachievement has its origins in the moral fall from grace of the 1960s when racism was first stigmatized out of polite society. For the first time, a critical mass of whites became conscious of their historic privilege and complicity in racism in ways that transformed the larger culture, while a critical mass of blacks came to identify with their historic victimization. It can be difficult for modern sensibilities to appreciate just how new this development was at the time. It started a perpetual motion machine of white guilt and black power politics that set the terms of America’s implicit racial contract. Ever since, both whites and blacks have developed unconscious patterns to guard their sense of racial innocence. A significant strand of white American culture projects a sense of guilt about the plight of blacks to dissociate themselves from the stigma of racism, and a significant strand of black American culture compels an angry militant pose to win concessions from white society and dissociate from the stigma of inferiority. White guilt is black power; they are the same phenomenon.

Steele argued that this mutual need to feel innocent of history keeps Americans stuck in the past and prevents race relations from making real progress. The guilt-complex of many whites prevents a frank conversation about issues afflicting segments of the black community, reflexively blaming racism for everything from homicide rates to fatherless homes to academic achievement gaps. Meanwhile, Affirmative Action and other diversity programs are introduced, not to help their ostensible beneficiaries, but to dissociate institutions from the stigma of racism. It’s about innocence, not uplift. On the other hand, the victim-complex of many blacks encourages them to keep whites “on the hook” for racism and ultimately mitigates the need for personal responsibility or cultural change. If racism is everywhere, always, what’s the point of trying? It’s an excuse for failure. The upshot is that both groups have a vested interest in the continuing existence of racism to justify their own moral identities. This helps explain the fanatical obsession with elevating any incident or event that carries the whiff of racism into the national spotlight.

To move beyond this racial impasse in our culture, Steele contends, race must be rejected as a means to innocence and power. Indeed, the whole effort of the civil rights movement was to reject identity as a means to power. What passes for anti-racism today accepts the basic premises of white supremacy by injecting melanin with moral meaning. What we need, according to Steele, is a revitalization of individualism in our society — an emphasis on black autonomy as against the historical determinism of the cultural Left, and an American humanism that appreciates our common bonds as citizens over racial and ethnic differences. This means discarding all forms of race essentialism and separatism.

2. At Law and Liberty, Daniel J. Mahoney and Richard Reinsch discuss the new Liberty and Justice for All” project. Listen to the podcast here. From the From the transcript:

Well, they did overshoot because they engaged in what the political theorist, Gerhart Niemeyer once called a total critique of the West and a total critique of America. And total critiques are always tied to totalitarianism because total critiques, demand negation and destruction. So they did overshoot and people have begun to notice. Now, I don’t for a second believe Nikole Hannah-Jones and the ideologues as the participants in the grievance industry around her have changed their minds at all. It’s just that they are worried that their project will be less the source of a new orthodoxy if the more egregious ideological claims remain. But look, when Charles Kesler early on during this revolution published a piece in the New York Post called “The 1619 Riots,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, tweeted that she was proud of that. In other words, this is the same woman who said when we destroy property we’re not committing violence.

We know the amount of property damage and the violence that accompanies that, it is a form of violence but other even more incendiary forms of violence accompany it. They are stepping back a bit I mean again, the trained Marxists, the ideologues who inspired and lead BLM are still trained Marxists, are still committed to the deconstruction of the family, still hate capitalism, still believe in an ideological Manichaenism where blacks and LGBTQ people are all innocent by definition and forever, and where whites and others I suppose Jews are forever guilty. So nothing has changed. But I think after four months of audacity, violence, mayhem, and the utter silence of the political class and of the Democratic party, a good part of the country is waking up. You could see it in the declining support down from 66 to 44%, I think for BLM, people are now making distinctions we made four months ago between an affirmation that all black lives matter and all lives matter, and the claims of the BLM movement.

So I think we’re in a better place now, even than when I wrote my “Culture of Hate” piece in July or late July I felt very alone and I really was stunned by the whole silence of the conservative political class, even more so the Republican party. And I think people are beginning to see, and they’re beginning to see in part, because the idealogues push so hard so quickly, so boldly, so nihilistically that it’s almost impossible not to see despite the censorship by the mainstream media. You know, if you just watch MSNBC and CNN, you would not know that our city was on fire. You simply wouldn’t know.

3. At The Spectator USA, our dear friend David Pryce-Jones pens a gorgeous reflection on his once-home, as war approached: Royaumont. From the piece:

A year or so ago, I went back to Royaumont, together with Helena Bonham Carter, the actress and the daughter of my first cousin Elena. A film company had selected Helena among others to make the point that their grandparents had lived in more dangerous times than they did. I was part of the family wartime story of escape that Helena was about to tell. The sun was shining when we arrived, and it seemed improbable that I could ever have lived in this grandiose and genial setting.

The Phony War lasted for the first five months of 1940. Nothing was happening: perhaps tomorrow there’d be no war. My father, already in the British intelligence services, had to attend a course at Cambridge, and my mother wanted to be with him. She had been brought up by a nanny who had stayed on at Royaumont. Born in 1872 in the village of Horspath, now virtually incorporated into Oxford, Jessie Wheeler had been my mother’s nanny and took charge of the four-year-old me. She had much the same determined look as Queen Victoria in old age, and her opinions were the same as Churchill’s.

Also in the house were its owner, my uncle Max, his and my mother’s elder sister Helene, and Helene’s husband Eduardo Propper de Callejón, a secretary at the Spanish embassy in Paris. Their two children, Philip and Elena, were a little older than me.

In the middle of the night, Max arrived with dramatic news. As I describe in my autobiography Fault Lines, we had to leave. There was no time to lose, the Germans had broken through and would soon be here. The government had fled from Paris to Bordeaux. In a car flying the Spanish flag, we joined what came to be known as the ‘great exodus’, as most of the population from the north of France took to the roads in cars, on bicycles, even on foot carrying suitcases. For a while afterwards, mothers were advertising for their child that had gone missing. The nation had collapsed. Quite why the French proved unwilling to fight is still unclear, but the shame of it conditions the national psyche.

Helena hardly knew her grandfather Eduardo. It was strange — to say the least — to be sitting drinking coffee in one of the downstairs rooms of the Palais in order to analyze what sort of a man he must have been, just as we might have done if there had been no war and we were only gossiping.

4. At The Wall Street Journal, William McGurn was right about underestimating Veep Mike Pence. From the column:

Our opinion-shaping class appears to expect that Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, will wipe the floor with the mild-mannered vice president. Don’t bet on it. Yes, in the first Democratic primary debate Ms. Harris put Mr. Biden on the ropes. But she never matched that dominating performance in subsequent debates, and she had a hard time answering questions when Mr. Biden started firing back. After an explosive start, she flamed out and withdrew from the race before a single vote had been cast.

Unlike Ms. Harris, Mr. Pence’s advantages are all the understated ones. And unlike Mr. Trump, the words most often used to describe the vice president are “calm” and “measured.” Those who have watched him know his aw-shucks Midwestern demeanor serves him well in debates.

This is how Mr. Pence prevailed the last time he was on the debate stage. In 2016 Hillary Clinton’s veep pick, Sen. Tim Kaine, took more or less the same approach Mr. Trump took last week, badgering and interrupting Mr. Pence to try to make him answer for Mr. Trump’s more provocative comments. It didn’t work. Even the New York Times conceded in a headline that “Commentators Give Edge to Mike Pence.”

What one observer called Mr. Kaine’s “over-caffeinated” style, the Times article suggested, had backfired against Mr. Pence’s Hoosier imperturbability: “Commentators and critics said Mr. Pence successfully played defense for 90 minutes, dodging, denying and ultimately appearing more stately as he handled an unenviable challenge with remarkable steadiness.”

5. At The College Fix, our old paisan, Christopher Tremoglie, explores the hypocrisy of law school profs when it comes to Amy Barrett. From the beginning of the article:

When Mitch McConnell stonewalled President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee four years ago, 350 law professors signed a letter urging the Senate majority leader to give Merrick Garland a “prompt and fair hearing and a timely vote.” The Senate was failing its “constitutional duty” otherwise.

Now that President Trump has nominated another jurist for the high court in an election year, how many of those law professors will publicly stick by their analysis with a Republican administration?

Four, it turns out.

The College Fix reached out to all 350 professors from Sept. 23 through Oct. 1 to ask if they would similarly call on the Senate to hold a hearing and vote on Amy Coney Barrett, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. Thirty-six responded, with the vast majority giving similar explanations of why Barrett doesn’t deserve the same treatment they sought for Garland.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Lawrence Franklin makes note of Red China’s latest efforts at “assimilation” of oppressed minority populations. From the beginning of the piece:

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping doubled down on his professed policy of ethnic assimilation on September 26 at a two-day party conference on Xinjiang.

In reality, the CCP policy in Xinjiang of “assimilation” resembles more the forced unity of cultural genocide. There is ample evidence that these same repressive policies are being applied in several other Chinese territories where ethnic minorities are prominent. Similar “assimilation” programs presently are being implemented in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China’s northeastern province of Jilin.

These “assimilation” projects were kept under wraps until they were abruptly revealed upon the opening of the new school year on September 1. The principal feature of the “assimilation” program in ethnic areas is the eradication of native languages as a medium of instruction. All courses in minority regions are now taught in Mandarin, the principal language of Han Chinese who comprise about 92% of the population.

Inner Mongolia, about twice the size of California and home to approximately 4 million Mongols, exploded into unrest when parents discovered that their children would no longer be taught in their native tongue. Parents forcibly entered schools to remove their children. Protests engulfed the regional capital, Hothot, with about 300,000 students boycotting classes; some of the students joined the demonstrations and security forces arrested thousands of protestors. The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRISC), a New York-based Mongol human rights organization claimed that nine teachers and students committed suicide to protest the new regulations. Many students fled into the remote plains and mountains and were pursued by security search teams. Students who were caught have been separated from parental care. Many supporters of the boycott were fired from their jobs.

7. At the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Jay Schalin recounts the activities of cancel culture warriors targeting Portland State University’s Bruce Gilley. From the piece:

One such situation is occurring at Portland State University in Oregon. The political science department has rewritten its by-laws to distance itself from professor Bruce Gilley. Among the changes is the creation of a process for making statements of condemnation against department members whose work offends a consensus of the department.

Gilley, who is tenured, is no stranger to controversial research. In 2017, he published an article titled “The Case for Colonialism,” in which he suggested that European colonies in the Third World were both beneficial and legitimate, as they generally increased the local standard of living and were often supported by a significant portion of the local population.

Obviously, such a hypothesis goes against the academic zeitgeist; it was considered deeply offensive and decried throughout academia and elsewhere. The editor of the journal that published it, Third World Quarterly, even resigned his position out of fear for his physical safety.

However, Gilley was neither cowed nor chastened by the criticism and threats directed at him. He has continued to write articles questioning the accepted orthodoxy in his field — and has added activities such as defending free expression on campus, calling for the reform of university governance, and speaking out on matters of public policy. As can be expected, these pursuits are not ingratiating him on campus and off any more than his 2017 article did.

But the question of whether an author is deserving of academic freedom does not rest on whether people like the idea expressed; unpopular opinions are an important reason why free speech and academic freedom protections exist in the first place. Rather, academic freedom is afforded to scholars because their work meets standards of rationality and method. Or, in some cases, it may be denied because their claims are unnecessarily venal.

Baseballery

Many a pitcher has had a great a season, but who was the best in that legendary Year of the Pitcher, 1968. In the NL, the Giants Juan Marichal, may have had more wins (26), and in the AL, Detroit’s Denny McLain thrilled the baseball world with his 31 victories (accompanied by a 1.96 ERA), but most would regard the king of the mound that year to have been the great Bob Gibson, the ferocious and competitive righthander who passed away this September.

Truth be told, 1968 did not begin all that smoothly for the future Hall of Famer. Gibson didn’t earn his first win until the end of April, and a month later, despite a devastating 1.52 ERA, his record stood at 3-5. Then came an amazing tear: Gibson won his next 12 starts, each of them a complete game, 8 of them shut-outs. Only 6 earned runs were allowed during the stretch. Come July 30, his record had ballooned to 15-5, and his ERA fell to a microscopic 0.96. When the season ended, his record was 22-9, with a 1.12 ERA. In September, he picked up 3 losses — all of them one-run decisions (including a 1-0 loss to the Giants on September 17th, a no-hitter dealt the Cards courtesy of Gaylord Perry).

That year Gibson would earn the first of two Cy Young Awards. But there was a low pointamidst the glory, and it came on the season’s last day, when Gibson, the MVP of the 1964 and 1967 World Series, and contending for a third, with two brilliant wins already in the 1968 Series against the Tigers. But the Baseball Gods frowned that day: He was the losing pitcher in Game 7, as Mickey Lolich picked up his third victory and a championship for Detroit.

Back to the regular season: In his June run, Gibson pitched five consecutive shutouts. But for a few inches, there could have been a sixth: On Monday, July 1, in a night game at Dodger Stadium, in which the Cardinals prevailed, 5-1, the only run that Los Angeles scored was courtesy of a Gibson wild pitch.

On the mound that night for the Dodgers was another Hall of Fame hurler who helped 1968 earn its special distinction for pitchers: Don Drysdale. The intimidating and towering righthander set a MLB record that spring with six consecutive shutouts, starting with a 1-0 squeaker on May 14 at home over the Cubs, and ending on Tuesday, June 4th, again at home, when he three-hit the Pirates in a 5-0 victory (one of the shutouts came against Gibson and the Cardinals on May 22nd).

It’s worth noting that Gibson’s second Cy Young was earned in 1970, when he led the NL with a 23-7 record (and a 3.12 ERA). Not too shabby (as pitchers go) handling a bat (Gibson was a lifetime .206 hitter), that year he hit an impressive .303. He also won yet another Golden Glove (Gibson earned nine over his career).

By the way, Drysdale could hit too: He smacked 29 home runs over 14 years.

We pray they are both together, in a happier place, a field of dreams, having a catch then resting in peace.

A Dios

A loyal reader of this weekly undertaking contacted the Author to admonish him. Why? For not seeking prayers for POTUS and FLOTUS and all others who work at or visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and picked up COVID. Well, maybe not admonish. But there was a healthy dose of (deserved?) disappointment delivered, despite an explanation: It was a timing thing. It was. Alas, the mustard was not cut. Penitent, let us end this week’s missive with a heartfelt request for their continued recovery.

Would that The Almighty Bestow on You and Yours Penetrating Graces,

Jack Fowler, who will accept admonishments on all sorts of matters if emailed to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Xi-sus, Mao-ry, and Chou-seph!

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

Smokes of Holiness, the Chinese Communist Party has translated that once-forbidden book, The Bible, and in doing so has taken more liberties than the crew of an aircraft carrier that’s been at sea for a year.

Cameron Hilditch reports on the Monstrosity of All Re-Writes. We’re confident that you will most definitely not confuse it with the King James version of the Word of God.

In the new Commie edition, of which we know little, we do know this of a famous parable: Jesus himself casts the first stone to clobber the adulteress:

The CCP “translation” reproduces the story more or less word for word — up until the point at which Jesus is left alone with the woman whom the Pharisees had dragged before him. Events then take an altogether bizarre and diabolical turn:

When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.”

You read that right: In this telling, Jesus gets rid of the crowd so he can have the pleasure of bashing the woman’s skull in himself.

Needless to say, this alteration is blasphemous and offensive to Christians, but we would do well to understand why the CCP has decided to make it. The story of Jesus and the adulteress is clearly impermissible to the Party in its original form. Though everything up until Jesus is left alone with the woman can be assimilated, their final exchange is disqualified, replaced by something not just tolerable but useful to the CCP. Such points of divergence between the CCP Bible and its source material tell us a lot about what the Politburo sees as the irreconcilable differences between Western and Chinese civilization.

Imagine what He does with the money changers at the Temple — Xi’s flunkies at the Ministry of Truth have probably slipped the Lord an Uzi and some flash grenades. Loaves and fishes? Who’s taking bets that, in Mao fashion, the crowd is allowed to starve. The Wedding Feast at Wuhan?

The ChiCom Bible. Now, nothing is unfathomable. Other than Your Humble Correspondent rooting for the Red Sox. It’s been a wild week and is getting wilder, and speaking of getting, let’s be getting on to the Jolt.

Editorials

1. Biden refuses to unpack his position on SCOTUS-packing. We say the voters have a right to know. From the editorial:

We suspect that if Donald Trump were proposing to amend the 1869 Judiciary Act in order to install a set of friendlier judges on the nation’s highest court, the problem with the idea would be evident to almost everyone. But one does not have play “imagine if” in order to grasp just how appalling a notion this is. Up until now, it has been tried only once in American history, by a newly reelected Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite Roosevelt’s party controlling 74 of the 96 seats in the Senate and 334 of the 435 seats in the House, it failed. The Chairman of the House Rules Committee called it “the most terrible threat to constitutional government that has arisen in the entire history of the country.” This “measure,” wrote the 1937 Senate Judiciary Committee, “should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.”

From Joe Biden, a simple “no” would suffice.

Why does Biden not offer that answer up? After all, if he were to reject the idea, there would be no “issue” to discuss.

2. Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptional SCOTUS nominee. From the editorial:

The Barrett-specific arguments against confirmation are, if anything, weaker. When Barrett was up for her current appellate judgeship in 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein attempted, notoriously, to portray her as a religious extremist who could not be trusted to apply the law without bias. At that time Barrett said, “I see no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.” As a law student more than 20 years ago, she co-authored an article arguing that a judge who opposes the death penalty on religious grounds might have to recuse himself in certain cases. Note, however, that even in that theoretical case, her view was that the judge should not try to force the law to comply with the dictates of her faith. And she has not seen any need to recuse herself from death-penalty (or abortion or immigration) cases.

Some progressives are trying to portray Barrett’s views on the force of precedent as radical, but this effort depends on willful misreadings of her work. Justice Clarence Thomas has made a strong case that the Supreme Court is too stubborn in sticking with mistaken precedents. Judge Barrett has not said that she agrees with him, that she thinks the Court has it right, or that her view lies somewhere in between. Moreover, this complaint rings hollow coming from progressives who want the Court to overturn its precedents on free speech, religious liberty, and the right to bear arms.

3. Republican trust-us claims on Obamacare reform don’t quite cut it. From the editorial:

Republicans now have three basic choices in answering the question of how they would help people with pre-existing conditions if they replaced Obamacare or courts invalidated it. The first would be to promise that they would reenact Obamacare’s stringent regulation and provide subsidies for those who need it to afford the high premiums it necessitates — essentially re-creating a lot of Obamacare. The second would be to promise to enact continuous-coverage protections of the type they proposed in 2017. And the third would be to do nothing, telling people with pre-existing conditions that they are on their own (even though the paucity of cheap, renewable catastrophic policies is largely the result of government policies).

Our preference would be the second option. The Trump administration, unable to decide among these options, is instead, effectively, promising to choose among them at some future date when the courts have struck down Obamacare or Republicans have unified control in Washington. That refusal to choose lets the Democrats hang the third position around Republican necks while also doing nothing to dislodge Obamacare. It also lets Democrats say that Republicans are dodging the question instead of leveling with the voters. Which is, unfortunately, true.

Gloryoski! Another Bundle of Brilliant Articles to Fire Up the Ol’ Conservative Intellect

1. Like Antifa? David Harsanyi believes Joe Biden is an idea. A terrible one. From the piece:

Instead, we hear how Biden’s feckless opportunism is moderation. Biden himself likes to drop a prefabricated line contending he was the one who beat Bernie Sanders, signaling to moderates that his candidacy prevailed over extremism. Why would someone whose campaign stemmed the scourge of collectivism co-sign a 110-page Menshevik-Bolshevik Unity Pact? (I exaggerate only slightly.) Maybe when Chris Wallace is done digging into the vital right-wing militia matter, he will investigate.

In the past when candidates made outlandish promises to their base during the primary, they would move back to the center. There is no center anymore. There is only Trump. And because of the press’s abdication of basic professionalism, Biden, the empty vessel, can concurrently hold any position that suits you.

It was Trump, for example, who brought up the Green New Deal during the first debate — the massive multi-trillion-dollar attack on, yes, cars, airplanes, your food, your house, and modernity in general. Biden casually claimed that it is “not my plan,” though it says, quite unmistakably, in his “Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice” that the Green New Deal is the “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” Instead of fact-checking Biden, the same Washington Post that once ran a headline that read, “Joe Biden embraces Green New Deal as he releases climate plan,” corrected Trump, asserting that, “Biden has never supported the Green New Deal.”

Rinse and repeat on fracking and “defunding the police.”

2. More Harsanyi: A reflection on the oft-mocked “But Gorsuch . . .” mindset. From the piece:

Was the Trump presidency worth it for conservatives? History will tell. Considering the accelerating radicalism of the modern Left — evident in the feverish reaction to Barrett’s nomination — the Court is clearly going to be more important than it has been in years.

Will it help Trump win in 2020? I’m no prognosticator, but politics has to be about more than always situating the party for the next win. Occasionally you’re going to have to fulfill promises. These justices fulfill the wishes of the vast majority of the Right, sans a handful of Trump-obsessed former conservatives.

Nor should it be forgotten that, if Barrett is confirmed, Mitch McConnell will have become one the most effective and consequential conservative politicians — nay, politicians, period — in American history. Call him a hypocrite if you like, but the risk of denying Obama another Constitution-corroding justice in 2016, widely seen as politically self-destructive by Washington commentators, was worth it. His constitutionally kosher position turned into three justices, who, one hopes, will abide by their stated originalist and Scalia-like disposition. Their rulings will long outlast any fleeting partisan squabble.

3. Andrew C. McCarthy explains Joe Biden’s court-packing fudgery. From the analysis:

Biden was in the Senate for 36 years. He knows how to count. Assuming that this array of Democrats is on the up and up, there is no way the Left has the votes it would need to pack the Court. So why not just oppose court-packing? Given that Democrats don’t have the numbers to make it happen, why would Biden risk the appearance that he is just a placeholder for the extreme Left — that he is remaining noncommittal to hoodwink voters into electing him, after which the true believers controlling him can push radical change?

Surely, Biden fears the wrath of the hard left. He doesn’t want to put up with what his old pal Feinstein has had to endure recently, or, even worse, end up feeling the heat that has been turned up on Democratic mayors who have strayed even an iota from the Change! line in places such as Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis.

But even more, Biden is worried about losing the energy of his base. It is still a tight race in the states where the election will be decided. The last thing Biden can afford is a revolt from the Bernie Bros. and AOC’s “squad.” He knows Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election in its last couple of weeks, mainly by taking the Democratic base for granted. He is not going to repeat that mistake. (And, of course, no FBI director is going to announce the reopening of a criminal investigation against him just days before voters go to the polls — so he’s got that going for him.)

4. Morgan E. Hunter makes the case for the 490 B.C. Project. From the piece:

One cannot seriously study Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar or Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra without knowing something about Roman history and Greek tragedy. One really cannot study any European or American philosopher of the past 400 years without knowing Plato and Aristotle. However, many American school districts currently employ a chronological straitjacket that confines general study of the ancient world to middle school. (Those that teach it in high school usually do in a “World History” class that devotes only two or three weeks to the classical world.) Further teaching of the classical world is pursued only in specialized Latin courses at a few, mostly private, schools. Since college-level study of the humanities requires a good understanding of the ancient world and its authors, the classical world ought to be taught in high schools. These classical foundations are just as important to the humanities as algebra or high-school chemistry are to STEM. Learning Latin or ancient Greek can remain a requirement for those who wish to major in the classics, but they shouldn’t be the only way to study the classical world.

The educational system in Britain is rather different from the U.S. In America, students are required to select a specialization (their major) for only the last two years of college. In Britain, students are admitted to college in order to “read” a particular course of study, e.g., mathematics or history. Thus college in Britain corresponds to the last two years of American colleges (and perhaps also the first year of graduate school). Consequently, the last two years of British high schools (the “sixth form”) are when students take the introductory courses that Americans typically take in their college freshman or sophomore years. These pre-college courses culminate in tests called Advanced Levels or “A-levels.” College-bound students typically take three A-level courses in subjects preparatory to the course they intend to study in college.

5. Alexander DeSanctis explains why Lefties hate SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett. From the piece:

Empowered by technology and medicine that grant them the illusion of control over their childbearing, women can dabble in sex and family life only insofar as they fit into the grander plan of climbing the ladder, reaching the corner office, and perhaps pausing once or twice along the way to get married or have a child.

This conception of gender equality has been popularized by high-powered career women such as Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and public-policy leader Anne-Marie Slaughter. Their vision, sometimes called “lean-in feminism,” consists of benchmarks such as filling the boardrooms of every major company with an equal number of men and women.

In a 2011 commencement speech at Barnard College, Sandberg popularized her now-famous notion of “leaning in,” by which she meant prioritizing career success and workplace ambition as an antidote to the supposed fact that men run the world. “A world where men ran half our homes and women ran half our institutions would be just a much better world,” Sandberg told the graduates.

Slaughter echoed this idea in her viral 2012 article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” arguing that “only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women.”

6. Rich Lowry and John McCormack provide the backstory on how the GOP lined up quickly behind the Barrett nomination. From the piece:

There hasn’t been any such surprise yet in the Senate. When Republicans voted to change the rule for confirming Supreme Court justices to require 51 votes in response to the 2017 Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, McConnell “built support over many weeks, and did it in a lot of settings,” says the first Republican senator.

The RBG vacancy didn’t require any such campaign. “Over the last year, McConnell laid the foundation about what to expect if this were to occur,” says one Republican strategist. “There wasn’t an 11th-hour staff meeting. They already had a pretty good idea of where they’re going to end up.”

In September 2019, McConnell told reporters that Senate Republicans would “absolutely” fill a vacancy if it arose in 2020 — which would occur with the Senate and White House under the control of the same party, unlike the 2016 vacancy following the death of Justice Scalia. In 2016 there hadn’t been a consensus within the Republican caucus about what blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland meant. Most spoke at the time about the need for the voters to decide. A few senators explicitly said they’d hold open an election-year vacancy even if Republicans were in control of the Senate and the White House — although several simply said they were exercising their constitutional right to withhold consent. In 2016, McConnell had repeatedly emphasized the point about divided government. In 2020, there would be no deadlock for the voters to break.

7. Ellen Carmichael profiles the partisan-based, public-health-menacing attacks on COVID vaccines. From the piece:

On August 27, 2020, CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., announced in a letter to governors that they should be prepared for medical facilities to administer a coronavirus vaccination as early as November 1, 2020, explaining that the agency had contracted with pharmaceutical distributor McKesson Corporation to deliver upwards of hundreds of millions of doses in the fall. The letter did not indicate that federal officials had already greenlit the administration of the vaccine to the general public, nor did it say that McKesson would be allowed to subvert robust testing requirements before bringing it to market.

Outlining how the existing approval systems could create a slowdown that poses “a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,” Redfield simply asked state agencies to do their part in aiding a “public health effort of significant scale” by expediting the processing of “permit applications for the new McKesson distribution facilities,” including those for “related business and building permits.” But, Redfield insisted, breaking the bureaucratic logjam would “not compromise the safety or integrity of the products being distributed.”

After the news broke of Redfield’s letter, the political Left began promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine, arguing the president would rush an untested vaccine to market in time for the election but before it was safe to administer it. Some reporters have given credence to such baseless claims, including CNN’s Gregory Krieg, who wrote that Trump’s “coronavirus delusions risk corrupting the search for a vaccine,” while ironically asserting Trump was setting off a “vicious circle that could undermine public confidence in a vaccine that credibly meets the strict, long-held standards set by scientists and public health officials.”

8. When Kevin Williamson looks at BLM, he sees an emerging knock-off of the PLO. From the piece:

Because Democrats run the most troubled cities, they are desperate to either change the subject from the performance of the municipal agencies in Minneapolis, Louisville, San Francisco, etc., to something more general and more politically malleable, hence the vapid, empty talk about “white privilege” and “systemic racism.” It’s bullsh**, and everybody knows it’s bullsh**. Even the president of Princeton more or less admitted his bullsh** was bullsh** when the Trump administration had the uncharacteristic wit to actually call him on said bullsh** and threaten a civil-rights investigation into the school after he denounced its “systemic racism.” A vague problem vaguely related to the vaguely racist actions of vaguely identified vaguely Republican people elsewhere is a much more comfortable discussion for the powers that be in Minneapolis than the question of how Minneapolis is run, who runs it, how they run it, who benefits from that, and who pays the worst social costs. One suspects that Democrats in such cities actually prefer the riots and arson to having that uncomfortable discussion. Remember when the Minneapolis city council vowed to defund the police department? More bullsh**, as the New York Times reports. Of course they never meant a word of it — they just feel obliged to make certain noises with their faces and perform histrionic pantomime of moral seriousness.

We see this kind of thing all the time. San Francisco doesn’t need to abolish capitalism or eliminate “inequality” to alleviate its affordable-housing problem, but it does need to reform its zoning and land-use laws — something that Nancy Pelosi’s rich San Francisco friends have been fighting tooth and talon for decades. And so San Francisco pretends that San Francisco’s problems are not of San Francisco’s making, that the problem is “white privilege” or some other comfortable abstraction.

BLM could be using the Democratic Party to pursue a reform agenda; instead, the Democratic Party is using BLM to prevent the pursuit of a reform agenda. It’s always the same question: Who, whom?

9. Kyle Smith finds defund the fuzz fizz gone. From the piece:

Yet the idea was so fashionable among the radicals, columnists, and talking heads who don’t live in high-crime areas that, for a moment, even Joe Biden was momentarily beguiled by it. Asked by a left-wing activist, “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the [police] funding?” Biden replied, “Yes, absolutely.” (Biden had been musing about how “the last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood. It’s like the military invading,” as though Americans had spent the month of June debating the wisdom of police Humvee usage. As president, Joe would handle the difficult questions by answering different, easier questions.) Yet, when Biden came to his senses he emphasized that he didn’t want to defund the police.

It’s now clear that the coast-to-coast conflagrations of the summer were not an urgent call for police reform but merely an extended temper tantrum. A serious look at police reform would begin with the question: Why do American police kill so many citizens — black, white, and other — and what can we do to reduce the violence? Few expressed any interest in that matter, though the papers decided to capitalize the adjective “black” and the Poetry Foundation and Princeton volunteered that they were white supremacists, at least until a government inquiry forced the latter institution to admit that this was meaningless posturing for woke points, not to be construed as an admission of race discrimination because that would be illegal.

“Defund the police” got rolling in Minneapolis, and that’s where it . . . stopped rolling, fell over, and got trampled by the billion-footed beast of reality. A New York Times report sadly informs us that the Mini Apple is “a case study in how idealistic calls for structural change can falter.” Because it would have been ideal for residents of black neighborhoods to wake up one morning and discover they no longer had police protection from criminals thanks to the efforts of parlor radicals.

10. Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Michael McCaul say it’s time the U.S. got deadly serious about the ChiComs. From the piece:

House Republicans on the China Task Force have put forward policies to end America’s dependence on the PRC while protecting Americans’ safety and well-being. Our comprehensive recommendations mobilize strategic U.S. government action in six areas: ideological competition, supply chains, national security, technology, the economy and energy, and competitiveness.

Without question, we must strengthen our military, and stop both CCP theft and its influence operations here at home. We begin by giving the Department of Defense the resources it needs to modernize the force and close the capability gap in specific areas, such as research and development. We also focus on providing the Department of Justice the resources it needs to investigate and prosecute visa fraud.

Beyond strengthening our national-security capabilities, we must also fortify our position on the commanding heights of the economic battlefield. Our plan doubles research and development funding for artificial intelligence and quantum computing across the federal government over the next two years, and ensures that both international 5G standards and the fabrication of advanced semiconductor chips are led by America. But just as American companies need to understand the stakes, CCP-affiliated companies need to face consequences. That is why our plan protects homegrown innovation by imposing sanctions on PRC entities that engage in industrial spying, including hacking U.S. researchers who are developing a vaccine for COVID-19.

11. Helen Raleigh reports on Red China upping its game on attacking non-lickspittle foreign journalists. From the article:

In August, Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen of Chinese descent who worked for the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN), was detained by Chinese authorities. No charges were filed, and Cheng simply “disappeared.” China’s foreign ministry waited until early September to announce that she was suspected of “criminal activity endangering China’s national security.” Her family and friends still do not know her whereabouts, and it is unclear if she has any legal representation.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s announcement of Cheng’s detention came after the Australian government was forced to mount a frantic mission to extricate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) Mike Smith from the country. Both had been questioned by Chinese authorities regarding their dealings with Cheng, and both sought help from the Australian consulate. They were allowed to leave China only after a five-day diplomatic standoff. Birtles’s former boss, the ex-ABC China bureau chief Matthew Carney, recently disclosed the threats and interrogations that he and his family, including his 14-year-old daughter, had to endure from Chinese authorities back in 2018, which eventually led them to leave the country, too.

Early this month, a Los Angeles Times reporter was detained by Chinese police in Inner Mongolia while investigating the central government’s push to teach Mongolian children key curriculums in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. Many parents and students have been protesting that effort, which they view as Beijing’s latest attempt to erase their cultural identity. The Times reporter said plainclothes men “took her to a police station, where she was interrogated and separated from her belongings, despite identifying herself as an accredited journalist. She was not allowed to call the U.S. Embassy; one officer grabbed her throat with both hands and pushed her into a cell.”

12. Peter Rough compares Donald Trump’s Middle East foreign-policy successes with French bossman Emmanuel Macron, who wants to call les shots. From the article:

Unlike in the Middle East, where the Abraham Accords brought together U.S. allies under Washington’s direction, Macron envisions a European architecture more free from American influence. Thus Trump’s attempts to run his playbook in Europe — by expressing ambivalence to collective defense and initiating a troop drawdown from Germany — have given Macron an opening to pursue his own vision.

In May 2017, Macron celebrated his presidential victory with the European Union’s anthem and flanked by EU flags. Ever since, he has sought to advance a vision of so-called European strategic autonomy, which enlists German economic power in the service of French strategic leadership at the EU. Paradoxically, the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU brought relatively little heartache for Macron because it removed a powerful opponent to his vision of continental freedom.

That leaves NATO as the most serious impediment to Macron’s designs. Unsurprisingly, he alone among Europe’s leaders has regularly criticized the alliance, memorably diagnosing its “brain death” last November. Trump’s capricious and contemptuous view of Western Europe has been central to Macron’s argument, but the French leader cannot openly challenge the United States, anchor of the West, and hope to succeed. Instead, he has sought to weaken American influence by quarreling with Turkey in its place. Macron regularly trumpets Turkey’s transgressions in part to send a message to Europe: NATO is an unreliable alliance; better to build an EU alternative. In the months to come, look for tensions between France and Turkey to flare time and again.

13. Victor Davis Hanson pushes back on the attacks against Scott Atlas. From the piece:

After COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., Atlas consistently warned that government must follow science, not politics, in doing the least amount of harm to its people. He has reminded us that those under 65 rarely die from COVID-19, and that those infected who are younger than 20 usually do not show any serious symptoms.

Accordingly, Atlas has urged the states to focus more resources on the most vulnerable — those over 65, who account for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths — and allow younger Americans to reenter schools and the workforce with appropriate caution.

Atlas has also warned that the available test data on COVID-19’s infectiousness, spread, and morbidity must be handled with care, given that those who feel sick are more likely to get tested. He argues that those with some natural protection from the virus, either through antibodies from an asymptotic past infection or through T-cells, may be a far larger group than previously thought.

But most importantly, Atlas has warned that government must be careful not to endanger Americans with Draconian lockdowns that curtail needed medical examinations, procedures, and treatments.

Just as dangerous as the disease may be quarantine-related spikes in mental illness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, and depression from lost livelihoods. Children may be suffering irreparable harm from being locked down and kept out of school.

14. Maxford Allen explores Joe Biden’s Big Labor agenda. It would make Bernie swoon. From the analysis:

Further, Biden proposes to reinstate a legally questionable, and morally indefensible, Obama administration regulation allowing states to deduct union dues from Medicaid payments to home caregivers serving functionally disabled adults.

The Trump administration repealed the regulation in 2019, which brings in about $150 million per year for unions such as AFSCME and SEIU, though unions have filed litigation to preserve the old rule.

The heart of Biden’s policy platform for private-sector unions calls for adoption of the PRO Act, an expansive union wish-list that would end any pretense of allowing workers to make up their own minds about unions. Among other things, the law would require employers to allow their internal communications systems to be used for union organizing and force them to turn over employees’ personal information — including home addresses, cell phone numbers and personal emails — to union organizers. At the same time, the bill would restrict employers’ ability to speak with employees about the implications of unionization.

Perhaps most concerning, the PRO Act would ban right-to-work laws, which have so far been adopted by 28 states and which protect the rights of workers to choose for themselves whether to surrender part of their paychecks to unions.

15. Cody Wisniewski argues that Second Amendment supporters need to bring their guns to the knife fight. From the piece:

The entirety of the “gun control” movement is really an “arms control” movement. This movement has always focused on unpopular weapons, since banning or limiting their use was least likely to meet with legal or political resistance.

Initially, the open carriage of arms — including Bowie knives, swords, and dirks — “to the terror” of the public was prohibited. These laws had their roots in the English common-law tradition, and in our early republic. In the mid-19th century, the state of Georgia became the first to try completely banning possession of certain bladed weapons. That attempt was quickly struck down by the state supreme court. A century later, more states began implementing total bans on specific arms that politicians and the public associated with criminals.

That’s how we arrived at the knife bans many states have today, which often cover switchblades and butterfly knives. There is no question that these knives are inherently less dangerous than guns. And yet they are completely banned in a number of jurisdictions, from Hawaii to New Jersey.

Due to a lot of bad action movies, a lack of public understanding, and a media campaign surrounding juvenile delinquency, politicians were able to pass complete bans and Draconian restrictions on many different types of knives at both the state and federal levels.

Thankfully, much as modern efforts to ban or limit gun ownership have spawned a potent, organized political backlash, people and politicians are starting to come to their senses about knife bans. A number of states have already repealed their antiquated switchblade bans, as Colorado did in 2017. Other bans were successfully challenged in court. Some states have already repealed their bans on butterfly knives, and Hawaii’s ban is currently the subject of a lawsuit. We at the Mountain States Legal Foundation have filed a brief in that case, Teter v. Connors, arguing that Hawaii’s ban violates the Second Amendment and is thus unconstitutional.

16. Brian Allen bemoans the ongoing lockdown of many a college-based museum and the culture behind it. From the article:

Fighting Crimson has turned Fleeing, Frightened, Hiding Crimson. I don’t think Harvard cares that much about its undergraduates — it’s all about the faculty’s research and, to a lesser extent, its graduate students. And Harvard certainly couldn’t care less about the people living in Cambridge. Still, the Fogg is one of America’s great museums. It’s a shame it’s closed. I hope donors take note and steer their gifts to Yale, which is open for teaching and whose venerable art gallery is open to the public.

The Rhode Island Institute of Design museum is open only to RISD ID-holders. The Hood, the art museum at Dartmouth, is closed to the public, as is the very good Smith College Museum of Art. This is wrong. These three museums, like Yale, are not only the museum for students and faculty at their schools. They’re the local civic museum. The Yale University Art Gallery has always had a high public profile. I grew up near New Haven, so I know this and benefited from this.

The RISD museum is the civic museum for people in Providence. The Hood serves the Upper Valley, the hundred or so towns along the Connecticut River and inland in western New Hampshire and eastern Vermont. The Smith museum serves Northampton and dozens of towns surrounding it. Their public profile is part of the negotiated tranquility between Town and Gown. The schools, in keeping their museums closed, have jettisoned the deal, flipping the public an Ivory Tower bird along the way.

I’m not troubled by the Williams College Museum of Art’s decision to serve only students for the time being. It’s a modest place and mostly serves Williams students under any circumstances. The locals go to the Clark Art Institute or Mass MoCA. I do find it strange that students wanting access to the museum have to give the place 48 hours’ notice.

If I were paying $70,000 a year for my kid to go there, I’d expect snap-to, on-demand access. You can’t even pop into the museum! You need to have a class assignment. Why does the staff need 48 hours’ notice? “Holy moly, a student’s coming. . . . We need 48 hours to get into our germ-proof bubble.” Is that what they’re thinking? It’s another example of museums forgetting who they serve. It’s not about the staff. And, by the way, there’s no COVID-19 in rural northwestern Massachusetts.

17. We remembered John Dos Passos on the 50th Anniversary of his death by republishing his initial writing for NR — a two-part 1956 essay on his lefty youth. From the piece:

How hard it is to write truthfully. Reading over the articles I wrote that summer I keep remembering things I forgot to put in. Why did I forget to put in about the enlarged photographs of Lenin as a baby I saw in the ikon corner in the peasants’ houses instead of the Christ Child? Why did I neglect people’s hints about Stalin? There was a very pleasant actress whom I’ve called Alexandra who had worked with the Art Theater I sometimes took evening walks with in Moscow. She came of the old revolutionary intelligentsia. I shall never forget the look of hate that would come into her face when we’d pass a large photograph of Stalin in a store window. She never spoke. She would just nudge me and look. As the years went on I understood what she meant. Of course in 1928 Stalin had not shown himself yet. He was working from behind the scenes. Trotsky was in exile but there were still people around the theater in Moscow whom their friends introduced half laughingly as Trotskyites. The terror that English journalist was trying to tell me about still lurked in the shadows. It was not yet walking the streets.

And yet, I remember that for absolutely no reason I fell into a real funk for fear they wouldn’t let me leave the last few days I was in Moscow attending to the final passport formalities. Just like every other American, I’d done my best to see the good, but the last impression I came away with was fear, fear of the brutal invisible intricate machinery of the police state. No fear was ever better founded.

Warsaw in those days was no paradise of civil liberties, but I still remember how well I slept in the sleazy bed in the faded hotel I put up at in Warsaw after piling out of the Moscow train. Warsaw was Europe. My last month in Moscow I’d been scared every night.

There’s a Great Russell Kirk Shindig Looming

The Russell Kirk Center is featuring a first-ever virtual walking tour of Russell Kirk’s library –where America’s conservative mind wrote his influential books and welcomed students for nearly 40 years — during its 25th Anniversary Gala. Join Annette Kirk for a free, livestream event on October 21 at 7 p.m. ET. Historian George Nash will speak about the ongoing significance of Russell Kirk’s work and the Center’s role in continuing that legacy. The 60-minute presentation will conclude with a toast of Dr. Kirk’s own creation called “Mecosta Fruit Punch.” Please register here for a reminder notification.

The October 19, 2020 Issue Hearkens — Sample the Exceptional Fare

The new issue of National Review is out, replete with wisdom and sanity, all available to those who have NRPLUS, some available to those who have yet to exhaust their this-side-of-the-paywall freebies. We provide, as is our custom, five random pieces:

1. Dan McLaughlin’s cover essay shoots down the idea of D.C. statehood. From the essay:

Madison and the other Founders worried, as well, that the federal government’s independence of action in the national interest would be imperiled by subjecting its physical security to state and local authorities. This was not a hypothetical problem. In June 1783 a drunken mob of unpaid Continental Army soldiers surrounded the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. State and local authorities in Pennsylvania refused Alexander Hamilton’s desperate pleas to defend the Congress. Led by Hamilton and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, its members fled across the Delaware River into New Jersey and took up temporary housing in Princeton. Hamilton spent the time in New Jersey exile drafting a resolution calling for a constitutional convention. The Framers of the Constitution that was drafted at that convention (conducted in secrecy from the Philadelphia crowd) understood that a government with more permanent quarters could not so easily pack its bags.

With the events of 1783 fresh in mind, Madison warned that, without federal control of the capital, “the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity. . . . A dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence” to the detriment of other states. In 1812, as president, Madison saw the capital burned by an invader when the Maryland militia could not protect it. His insight proved prophetic in 1861, when Maryland teetered on the verge of joining Virginia in seceding. Federal authorities needed to subdue angry mobs in Baltimore and send a young Andrew Carnegie at the head of a military and technical crew to keep the District connected by rail and telegraph to the North. The next four years of war centered heavily on the physical defense of the capital, and of the Confederate capital in Richmond.

Today, that threat is back out in the open. In June, after President Trump deployed federal authority to protect the White House and federal property against unruly mobs in Lafayette Square, Washington mayor Muriel Bowser lobbied for statehood precisely because it would expand her authority at federal expense: “I think what we saw from this president is something that we haven’t seen in our city, and that was federal troops on the ready, federal police, policing a local city, National Guard troops hauled in from all over the country. So I decided, when we saw those federal police out on D.C. streets, that we had to push back.”

2. Rong Xiaoqing finds anti-Asian educrats in northern Virginia at the center of a growing trend to squash merit-based K-12 schooling. From the piece:

But while the Asian parents were pouring their energy into these few high-profile cases against Ivy League institutions, “desegregation” became a buzzword in many local school districts, and affirmative action has trickled down from colleges to K–12. The concern among many on the left is that the top selective public high schools consist almost entirely of Asian and white students because they test well. Black and Hispanic students have difficulty competing.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan in the summer of 2018 to get rid of the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT), the sole criterion for admissions to the city’s top three public high schools. The plan has been stymied, at least for now, after tenacious resistance from Asian parents. In the same year, a new admissions policy for merit-based magnet programs for middle-schoolers in Montgomery County, Md., was put in place to reduce the emphasis on test scores. In Virginia, not long before the TJ admissions plan was announced, parents in neighboring Loudoun County filed a lawsuit against a similar plan for the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology that was adopted in August of this year.

And in California, Proposition 16, which if passed would allow race to be considered in public-education decisions, is on the ballot this November, a year after Asian voters in Washington State helped thwart a similar referendum.

The trend is accelerating as Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism movement gain momentum. “Everyone talked about racism. No one talked about improving the quality of education for K–8 students anymore,” said Kwok Chien, a New York parent, giving his impression of the more than a dozen meetings of various community education councils that he attended in the city this summer.

3. Madeleine Kearns finds that #MeToo feminists have killed the distinctions between seduction and coercion. From the essay:

In the same year as Greer, Kate Millett, in her seminal feminist text Sexual Politics, noted that “sex has a frequently neglected political aspect.” (The same can obviously not be said in 2020.) Millett’s work, which began as a doctoral dissertation, focused on the ways in which feminine characters were subjugated by masculine characters in the sexually explicit fictional works of Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, D. H. Lawrence, and Jean Genet. Unsurprisingly, given that the excerpts under study were mostly pornographic, she found most of the depictions of women to be objectifying and degrading. What is surprising is where feminism went next.

Twisting their ideology in all sorts of self-sabotaging knots, feminists attempted to convince themselves and other women that the answer to the sort of passivity that degradation induces is to try to own it, to do to themselves (and perhaps also to men) what is done to them by men. Camille Paglia, for instance, a leader of this school of thought, continues to insist that strip clubs, prostitution, and pornography — which benefit men, not women — all have the potential to unleash the paganistic power of “woman as goddess.” Look where it’s gotten us. If we’re not celebrating the big-bootied rapper Cardi B’s offensively unmusical video “Wet A** P***y,” in which she calls herself a “whore” and writhes around half naked, we’re cheering on Shakira’s stripperesque Super Bowl routine. The point, I think, is meant to be this: If a woman appears to have freely and enthusiastically chosen degradation, then it’s actually empowerment.

4. Craig Shirley reminds us why the 1980 presidential elections were so consequential. From the retrospective:

greatest presidents. The election of 1980 was also about war — the Cold War — and a fundamental change in national policy. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter came to rhetorical blows over everything. They were diametrically opposed on every point of policy. They agreed on nothing. They really did not like each other. Reagan thought Carter was in over his head, and Carter thought Reagan was a lightweight. During the campaign, Reagan confided to a reporter that it’s not enough for a candidate simply to want to be president: “There is more of a feeling that one should be president.”

In 1980, by any metric, the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War and the West was losing. The USSR had invaded Afghanistan one year earlier; Southeast Asia had fallen to communism; Angola had fallen to communism; Nicaragua had fallen to communism; Fidel Castro was running amok; Soviet subs were in Cuba; but all Carter cared about was his precious SALT II treaty. He said as much. The invasion of Afghanistan be damned, he wanted a signed treaty with the Soviets. Suffice it to say, the Soviets played Carter for four years like he was holding a busted flush. In the 1980 campaign, Carter said Reagan would divide the country and that “Americans might be separated, black from white, Jew from Christian, North from South, rural from urban.” Reagan told his convention in Detroit in July, “Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense, and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity. . . . You know, there may be a sailor at the helm of the ship of state, but the ship has no rudder.” Reagan’s longtime aide and friend Stu Spencer once told me that he thought Reagan regarded Carter as “a little sh**.” Reagan really had no use or respect for the Georgian peanut farmer.

5. We give not enough attention to James Lilek’s ever-delightful “Athwart” column, which this time fails to soft-soap. From the piece:

Showering — for that matter, basic bathing — is bad for you and unnecessary. NPR had an interview with the author of Clean: The New Science of Skin, Dr. James Hamblin. He hasn’t bathed since Obama was in office, lest soap and water disturb his personal “microbial ecosystem.”

Says the NPR piece: “Skin has long been considered to be our first line of defense against pathogens, but new studies suggest that the initial protection may come from the microbes that live on its surface.” Loofahs are like razor blades to a vein! B

e that as it may, the good doctor seems to have the usual modern motivation: knocking down all those ridiculous bourgeois notions we believe because, you know, brainwashing.

“We’ve gotten a lot better, culturally, about not judging people about all kinds of things, but when people smell or don’t use deodorant, somehow it’s okay to say, ‘You’re gross’ or ‘Stay away from me!’ and it gets a laugh,” he says. “I’m trying to push back against the sense of there being some universal standard of normalcy.”

Well, smelling like a dead goat is normal. A cultural preference for not reeking is also normal. It could be that the culture oppresses people who don’t want to bathe, or it could be that the culture encourages bathing because it makes the public sphere a less disagreeable place. Or is that somehow racist and gendered? It’s NPR, so you can guess. Here’s how the interviewer gets to the pith of the nub:

“How did your identity as a cisgendered white male influence your reporting on this subject?”

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White finds the new Netflix take on The Boys in the Band to be a concerted effort to concoct the usual liberal cultural claptrap. From the beginning of the review:

When playwright Edward Albee objected to his drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? being performed by an all-male cast, his injunction prevented the catastrophe now on view in Netflix’s The Boys in the Band. It’s a film version of a stage play in which nine men gather for a birthday party that collapses into funny-bitter clashes showing off their insecurities. As a Millennial version of the 1968 play that Mart Crowley already slyly derived from Albee, this film doubles down — four-fold — on the too-obvious idea of gay men bitching among themselves. Albee knew that would grossly politicize the exploration of human illusions in his theatrical landmark.

Ironically, Netflix’s The Boys in the Band is conceived to be a landmark like the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, using Crowley’s Albee knock-off to make superfluous, overly knowing political commentary on Millennial gay consciousness. The cast, headed by Jim Parsons as the party host Michael, Zachery Quinto as birthday honoree Harold, and Robin de Jesus as their most effeminate friend Emory, go about promoting the film by acknowledging their own experience as gay men (ethnically diverse, too). Their idea of art as psychotherapy (“I feel seen,” says Parsons) adds little to the film’s dramatic meaning but, instead, works as cultural intimidation. Netflix inflates Crowley’s subculture curio, insisting that it be given the same dominant culture reverence as Albee’s masterpiece.

This modernized Boys in the Band is yet another example of Netflix’s political program. It emphasizes the spectacle of a stigmatized group acting out its oppression to sustain the progressive social engineering practiced by Netflix and other competing streaming services. But it’s also cultural engineering from a now-privileged group of industry professionals, starting with producer Ryan Murphy, who adds this adaption to his unsavory brand: TV’s Glee, American Horror Story, Feud: Bette and Joan, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and the miniseries Hollywood.

2. Kyle Smith thinks people will want to make a date with the new French romance film, The Salt of Tears. From the beginning of the review:

Nobody does a simple, disarming love story like the French. France’s The Salt of Tears, with its black-and-white photography and its quiet, unforced naturalism, is a charmer about how young people meet, get to know each other, and form a deep bond. It’s a lovely, enchanting little tale. For the first 20 minutes, anyway.

The Salt of Tears doesn’t yet have a U.S. release date but is coming out in France next month. Meanwhile it is a standout offering from this year’s New York Film Festival; in an unforced and unassuming way, it says a great deal more than it depicts on its surface. Philippe Garrel, the 72-year-old French writer-director who has been making films since the 1960s, has devised a romantic odyssey that has a timeless quality and yet seems fully apprised of the alarming details about how the game works today; he doesn’t use American terms like “ghosting” or “kidult,” but he doesn’t need to. Garrel wonders what contemporary dating conventions are doing to young people, particularly vulnerable women, and so should we all. Restrained and low-key as it is, The Salt of Tears gradually opens up to become a powerful moral tale on a par with the great films of Eric Rohmer, with a hint of François Truffaut.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. President Trump signs an executive order banning federal involvement with “Critical race theory” scape-goating. From the order:

Today, however, many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual. This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.

This destructive ideology is grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world. Although presented as new and revolutionary, they resurrect the discredited notions of the nineteenth century’s apologists for slavery who, like President Lincoln’s rival Stephen A. Douglas, maintained that our government “was made on the white basis” “by white men, for the benefit of white men.” Our Founding documents rejected these racialized views of America, which were soundly defeated on the blood-stained battlefields of the Civil War. Yet they are now being repackaged and sold as cutting-edge insights. They are designed to divide us and to prevent us from uniting as one people in pursuit of one common destiny for our great country.

Unfortunately, this malign ideology is now migrating from the fringes of American society and threatens to infect core institutions of our country. Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist are appearing in workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors. For example, the Department of the Treasury recently held a seminar that promoted arguments that “virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism,” and that instructed small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid “narratives” that Americans should “be more color-blind” or “let people’s skills and personalities be what differentiates them.”

2. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher spotlights the insanity — the evil — that the Left has brought to mixed-race adoption. It is mostly long quotation from an email. It deserves to be read in total, and it begins like this:

You have seen, maybe, Ibram Kendi raise questions about Jesse and Amy Coney Barrett’s adoption of black children from Haiti. I did not realize how serious, and how inhuman, the movement within adoption circles is to destroy families composed of white parents and adopted kids of non-white backgrounds.

3. At The College Fix, Jeremy Hill reports on a Catholic college hiding its statue of Saint Junipero Serra. From the beginning of the piece:

A Catholic university does not appear to have any plans to return a statue of St. Junípero Serra to a public place on campus.

The University of San Diego removed the statue in July after other statues of the 18th-century California priest were vandalized. Critics accuse Serra of mistreatment of Native Americans during his time running missions in California, though religious leaders have disputed this characterization.

Now the university will not say when, if ever, it plans to publicly display the statue.

University officials told the Catholic News Agency in July that it was moved to “temporary storage” after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ bishop published a letter criticizing the vandalism against statues of Serra. The university is not within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese.

“Faced with the possibility of vandalism, we are taking increased security precautions at the historic missions located in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” Archbishop José Gómez wrote on June 29.

4. More College Fix: Its great editor, Jennifer Kabbany, reveals the results of a poll on college students saying yea or nay to “controversial” campus speakers. From the beginning of the piece:

The vast majority of college students are opposed — in some cases by wide margins — to allowing speakers on campus who promote controversial topics, such as the idea that Black Lives Matter is a hate group or that abortion should be illegal.

That according to the results of a massive new poll of nearly 20,000 college students nationwide.

“The results were ominous for supporters of free expression on campus,” according to a report on the results released Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and RealClearEducation, which commissioned the survey.

The free speech poll asked college students a variety of hypothetical questions, including whether they would support or oppose their university allowing a speaker on campus who promotes various hot-button topics.

5. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh warns about the new Turkey-Iran-Qatar-Hamas Axis. From the article:

Abbas has already damaged the Palestinians’ relations with some Arab countries by condemning the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain for signing peace treaties with Israel. Abbas and his senior officials have accused both Gulf countries of “stabbing the Palestinians in the back” and betraying the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque by signing normalization accords with Israel.

A sign of the growing rift between the Palestinians and the Arab world surfaced on September 22, when Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki announced that the Palestinians decided to “relinquish” their right to preside over the Council of the Arab League at its current session, in protest of the decision of the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel. “Since the decision to rush after [normalization] was taken in Washington, it does not serve any purpose to exert any more effort to sway [the Arabs] against normalization, particularly since they are not the decision-makers, regretfully,” Malki explained.

The decision marks the beginning of a divorce process between the Palestinians and the Arab world. The Palestinian leadership has been boycotting the US administration since December 2017, when President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians have also suspended their ties with Israel, including security coordination.

The Palestinians have, in addition, lost the support of several Arab countries because of their recurring condemnations of Arab governments and leaders who want to make peace with Israel.

Now it appears that the Palestinians are also headed toward ruining their relations with Egypt because of Abbas’s decision to make peace with Hamas and appease Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

6. At Quillette, Charlotte Allen delves into the strange case of wanna-black Jessica Krug. From the story:

Until her recent resignation Jessica Krug was an academic superstar. GWU’s history department hired her onto its tenure track as assistant professor even before she collected her PhD degree from Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. This was a feat in itself, because the academic job market for newly minted doctorate-holders in History has been depressed for decades. According to the American Historical Association, there were only about half as many full-time four-year-college teaching job openings either on or off the tenure track for history PhDs in 2012 as there were new doctoral degree-holders. The situation in the highly specialized, thinly populated sub-field of African history was slightly better but not much. But Krug nonetheless landed at GWU, a high-tuition, lavishly appointed campus in downtown Washington not far from the White House while many of her fellow PhDs in History struggled as poorly paid part-time adjunct professors hoping that full-time openings might show up down the road. And then, in 2018, GWU rewarded Krug with tenure and a promotion to associate professor — lifetime job security.

All this was on the basis of Krug’s 260-page book Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom, published in 2018, the very year she attained tenure. It was a reworking of her doctoral dissertation and, as she explains in a preface, at least one seminar paper she had written in graduate school. The publisher was the Duke University Press. The Duke Press is famous, or infamous, for its booklist of trendy but nearly unintelligible — because thick with impenetrable postmodernist jargon — academic writings on such voguish subjects as gender and post-colonial theory. One of its publications is Social Text, the deconstructionist journal that in 1996 published New York University physics professor Alan Sokal’s hoax paper claiming, among other things, that the force of gravity was a fiction constructed by power-seeking scientists. (Social Text is still going strong, with a current issue devoted to the “biopolitics of plasticity.”)

Krug’s book is no exception to the Duke Press norm of inscrutable jargon that skeptics might prefer to call pure mush. Its theme is Kisama, an arid region of present-day Angola (it’s a wildlife preserve today) that, according to Krug, was a center of “resistance” to Portuguese colonizers and slave traders over the centuries, inspiring “global iterations of the Kisama meme” as “maroons” — fugitive slaves — in the New World engaged in their own periodic “violence” against “state power.” Krug paints Kisama as a kind of anti-state collectivist utopia that sent its “widely circulating” meme of resistance on a “remarkable odyssey” across the Atlantic. Her biggest problem is that, as she admits, “neither oral nor written records” in Africa or anywhere else provide any evidence that this occurred — beyond the fact that many Latin-American slaves were of Angolan origin, some of them apparently from Kisama. Another problem is Krug’s inability or unwillingness to write chronologically straightforward history. In order to find a coherent account of what actually happened with the slave trade in 16th and 17th century Angola you need to consult Wikipedia.

7. At The Imaginative Conservative, Michael De Sapio ponders the possible destructiveness of art. From the beginning of the essay:

As conservatives we often undertake to argue for the importance and necessity of beauty. But it is common in discussions of aesthetics not to distinguish clearly between beauty and art. This can be a fatal mistake, and a strong reminder comes from the great cultural historian Jacques Barzun in The Use and Abuse of Art, a series of lectures given at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Barzun, with his biting Gallic wit, brilliantly charts the shift in Western culture from art to aestheticism. Considered from one vantage point, art has replaced religion in the life of man (one of Barzun’s chapters is entitled “Art in the Vacuum of Belief”). A signal of the change was when the word “creative” was first applied to art and artists, where it never had been before. Liberated from being servile craftsmen, artists were now creators. By the twentieth century, artists were popularly regarded as gurus possessing the deepest secrets of life and second only to scientists on the social scale.

The shift occurred in the nineteenth century when Romanticists first started talking explicitly of art in quasi-religious terms. Of course, there were earlier roots to this, as the bonds between art and religion had been gradually loosened since the Middle Ages and through the humanist Renaissance. Disenchantment with the industrial age and with scientific rationalism made many 19th-century people yearn again for transcendence and mystery; but for many of the intelligentsia who could not return to orthodox religious belief, art became a natural religion-substitute. It was around that time that Romantic art was emulating qualities of the infinite, the absolute, eternal longing, and similar emotions and aspirations that are traditionally evoked by religion. The boundaries between art and religion began to be blurred, so that one could, for example, make a “pilgrimage” to Wagner’s opera house at Bayreuth as to a religious shrine.

Previously it was understood that art was not completely autonomous; there were higher values to which it was responsible. During the ages of faith, art was the handmaiden of religion, illustrating the Christian mysteries in fresco and stained glass. By contrast, the aestheticist or “art for art’s sake” movement of the Victorian era tended to see art as answerable only to aesthetic standards. Barzun describes the strategy of many aestheticist writers and artists as one of representing art as “the core reality, by which all other things were shown false and artificial.” This involved the divorce of aesthetic and moral values. Artists were a special caste who lived by a different code, one far removed from “bourgeois morality.” While ordinary people lived by moral values, artists lived by aesthetic values. Arguably, it’s a small step from this attitude to dismissing the validity of value judgments in art.

Baseballery

With accumulated rainouts, a Senior Circuit battle for third place (which team possessed it would earn a larger slice of forthcoming World Series’ receipts), and the end of the season at hand, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds — on this day, October 2nd, 100 years ago — squared off for MLB’s only triple header.

Had the Pirates — in fourth place at this late date, but with a shot at overtaking the third-place Reds — swept the triple match (all legitimate make-ups of scheduled games that had been cancelled due to rainouts), third place would be theirs. An appeal to the league for the never-before — and, never since — trio of same-day games was approved. And so it came to pass.

The drama that might have been ended sometime around 2:03 PM on that Saturday afternoon at Forbes Field, when Pirate second baseman Cotton Tierney ground into a double play to close out the Ninth. That handed Reds starter Ray Fisher his 100th (and final) career win, as Cincinnati punched out a 13-4 victory. The team’s third-place status was ensured.

But there were still — a double header? — to play. It would prove a race towards the early Fall sunset. It was now mid-afternoon, as the Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the Seventh Inning of the middle contest. It didn’t hold: a combinations of six hits, two walks, and two errors allowed the Reds to score seven runs off Bucs starter Jimmy Zinn (considered one of the greatest-ever minor league pitchers — he collected 288 wins in 22 seasons, and was still tossing in 1939 at the age of 44). The affair ended somewhere around 4:00PM, the Reds prevailing 7-3.

The triple header came to its dusky conclusion in the approaching-nightcap, the final game of the day earning the Pirates a speck of dignity: Rookie righty Johnny Morrison, in only the second appearance of his career, tossed a 6-0, six-inning shutout. Oddly, the Pirates batted in the bottom of the Sixth, and scored three runs — adding to three scored in the First — before Reds starter Buddy Napier got shortstop Pie Traynor to ground out to close out the frame. Traynor would be the last man to ever bat in triple header. Admittedly, that was not as important a distinction as his being inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, when last we wrote we mentioned the passing of Carroll Hardy, noted by baseball historians as the only man to have ever pinch-hit for Ted Williams. Not so. Reader Jerry T puts Your Humble Correspondent in his place:

In your Baseballery section you repeat an error that I have seen before. Carroll Hardy was not the first player to pinch hit for Ted Williams. I knew of at least one instance where Ted was pinch-hit for. In 1951, on June 17 in the second game of a double header [here’s the box score] , Tom Wright [his Baseball-Reference.com stats can be found here] pinch-hit for Williams. . . . Scrolling through Ron Bernier’s Replay Guides (www.baseballsimresearch.com) I could find no other time but the Hardy and Wright pinch hit appearances for Ted. I don’t know why he was pinch hit for in the 1951 game but can only surmise it may have been due to either an injury or fatigue. It was the eighth inning of the second game of a double header and the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead with no one on base.

We appreciate the correction Jerry.

A Dios

Your Humble Correspondent, picking up a new brother-in-law this weekend, has been asked to offer grace before the feedbags are strapped on at the celebratory lunch. “No speeches,” surely the Better Half will warn. OK then — a sermon! Maybe one referencing The Wedding Feast at Cana. That is, unless we’re using the new ChiCom Bible, which rumor has it speaks of the Wedding Feast at Wuhan. Insert bat-related joke here. Anyway, if you might spare a prayer for new husband and wife, it would be most appreciated.

God’s Blessings to You and to All Things Bright and Beautiful,

Jack Fowler, who awaits your broadsides, and recommends they be fired at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Once in Love with Amy . . .

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

. . . always in love with Amy, no? Those are the words that Ray Bolger crooned (while hoofing) in Where’s Charley? back in the day. We’ll see between the time this missive is published and the time you actually read it (bless you!) if President Trump has gone ahead and nominated Amy Coney Barrett, considered by most the frontrunner for the nod, to the Supreme Court. Many a conservative is in love with the idea.

Whether or not President Trump nominates her, your favorite conservative magazine and website, through the efforts of Dan “Baseball Crank” McLaughlin, seem to have played a quite important role in kneecapping the argument — one that is said to have browbeat scaredy-cat Republicans (always in ample supply) — that any SCOTUS nomination, and the ensuing confirmation process, must occur after the November elections, followed by genuflections and the litany St. Merrick of Garland, pray for us while they demand of the GOP-run Senate what Dan has rightly labeled “unilateral disarmament.”

The facts are plentiful, and Dan marshalled them all in a prescient analysis published by NR in early August, showing that the deathbed wishes of dying Justices are out of sync with history. Indeed, wrote Dan, “History supports Republicans filling the seat.” Here’s how the article (in typical McLaughlin style, it deployed colorful charts that would exhaust a box of Crayolas) commenced:

If a Supreme Court vacancy opens up between now and the end of the year, Republicans should fill it. Given the vital importance of the Court to rank-and-file Republican voters and grassroots activists, particularly in the five-decade-long quest to overturn Roe v. Wade, it would be political suicide for Republicans to refrain from filling a vacancy unless some law or important traditional norm was against them. There is no such law and no such norm; those are all on their side. Choosing not to fill a vacancy would be a historically unprecedented act of unilateral disarmament. It has never happened once in all of American history. There is no chance that the Democrats, in the same position, would ever reciprocate, as their own history illustrates.

For now, all this remains hypothetical. Neither Ruth Bader Ginsburg nor any of her colleagues intend to go anywhere. But with the 87-year-old Ginsburg fighting a recurrence of cancer and repeatedly in and out of hospitals, we are starting to see the Washington press corps and senators openly discussing what would happen if she dies or is unable to continue serving on the Court. Democrats are issuing threats, and some Republicans are already balking.

They shouldn’t.

More facts, per Dan:

Nineteen times between 1796 and 1968, presidents have sought to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential-election year while their party controlled the Senate. Ten of those nominations came before the election; nine of the ten were successful, the only failure being the bipartisan filibuster of the ethically challenged Abe Fortas as chief justice in 1968. Justices to enter the Court under these circumstances included such legal luminaries as Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo. George Washington made two nominations in 1796, one of them a chief justice replacing a failed nominee the prior year. It was his last year in office, and the Adams–Jefferson race to replace him was bitter and divisive. Woodrow Wilson made two nominations in 1916, one of them to replace Charles Evans Hughes, who had resigned from the Court to run for president against Wilson. Wilson was in a tight reelection campaign that was not decided until California finished counting votes a week after Election Day. Three of the presidents who got election-year nominees confirmed (Benjamin Harrison in 1892, William Howard Taft in 1912, and Herbert Hoover in 1932) were on their way to losing reelection, in Taft’s and Hoover’s cases by overwhelming margins. But they still had the Senate, so they got their nominees through.

As said, this piece in particular seems to have provided spinal support to certain Senate Republicans — and it drew nasty attacks from lefties who knew its influence. You’ll find his response to those critiques here.

(A suggestion: You’ll find NR’s repository of pieces on SCOTUS and nominations and confirmations and all other such stuff at our Law & the Courts feed.)

SCOTUS matters aside, there are POTUS matters — 45 takes on Wanna-46 this coming Tuesday at a debate in Cleveland. It’s likely the reality of what’s ahead might dwarf any antics that even the late Andy Kaufmann could conjure up. We do encourage you — assuming that you will be watching — to do so with your laptop at hand, set to The Corner, where your NR Favorites will be commenting live-time and, as they say, Live Tweeting.

See you there, yes? And now, let us to the Jolt be on-getting!

Editorials

1. Justice Ginsburg is dead. We argue there is no reason to delaying seeking a new SCOTUS member. From the editorial:

The argument from 2016 is unavailing. Our own view was that the Republicans’ point about acting in an election year was secondary to the imperative to advance constitutionalism on the Court. But the most careful articulations of the Republican position in 2016 held that when a Supreme Court vacancy arose while the White House and Senate were controlled by opposite parties and a presidential election was coming soon, the vacancy should be filled by the winner of that election. In short, the voters should be asked to break the deadlock between two branches they elected. That condition does not apply today, as Republicans have won a Senate majority in three consecutive elections. (It is tempting, because it would be useful for conservatives, to say that Democrats should be held to what many of them said in 2016: that the Senate had a constitutional obligation to proceed with any nomination the president made. But that argument never had any grounding in the Constitution.)

The notion that Republicans should calm troubled waters by standing down is a little more beguiling. But it should also be rejected. Supreme Court nominations have become incendiary events because the Court has strayed so far from its proper constitutional role. There is no need to be coy: What we have in mind most of all, just like progressive activists, is abortion. In Roe v. Wade, the Court swept away the laws of 50 states and trampled on the most fundamental of human rights, and it did it without any justification in the text, original understanding, logic, structure, or history of the Constitution. Even legal scholars who approve of the policy result have admitted as much. A Court that claims that power for itself can commit many other enormities. And the Democratic Party, very much including its current presidential nominee, maintains a litmus test that any Supreme Court nominee must pledge fealty to that anti-constitutional ruling.

2. We laud President Trump for creating the “1776 Commission.” From the editorial:

America’s proud history is worth defending, and it is worth defending through government and politics. There are fair arguments about how best to go about that task consistently with a duly conservative skepticism about the proper powers of federal and local government, but conservatives should not shy away from conserving the core of our national history, ideals, and culture — a goal that not so long ago was neither partisan nor ideological.

The current lines of battle are joined around the teaching of the New York Times 1619 Project, Howard Zinn’s 1980 screed A People’s History of the United States, and other fact-challenged efforts to supplant the story of America, its ideals, and its exceptional history with critical-race and gender theory and leftist agitprop. It is wrong to fill the heads of children with falsehoods, or to subject them to outside-the-mainstream theories until they are old enough to learn to evaluate them critically. It is right and important to commemorate what makes this nation great and special.

3. The idea that there will not be a peaceful transition of power, should the elections result in turmoil and confusion, is un-American and worth condemning. We do so. From the editorial:

President Trump is not alone in his shameful rhetoric. Since he won in 2016, large swathes of the Democratic Party have insisted that he is “illegitimate,” which he is not. Former senate majority Leader Harry Reid has argued that Russia quite literally changed the vote totals, which it did not. And Hillary Clinton, who has said publicly that she actually “won” the 2016 election, recently suggested that “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances,” which he should. None of these people, however, is the president of the United States. None issue words that carry the extraordinary weight of that office. None bear the responsibility that Trump does. We applaud the Senate for unanimously passing a resolution reaffirming its commitment to “the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution.”

It should be a source of enormous national pride that, for 223 unbroken years, American presidents have handed the reins to their successors without bloodshed or complaint. Nothing has interrupted this tradition — not war, not economic calamity, not pandemic — nothing. We are not worried that President Trump intends to bring this streak to an end. That choice, after all, is not his to make. The system is set forth in the Constitution, and it is administered not at the president’s will, but by the states and by the people. Nevertheless, all systems rely upon buy-in, and every demurral helps to chip away a little at the rock on which the country has been built.

A Baker’s Dozen Neato Torpedos Aimed at the Hulls of Leftist Pirate Ships Attacking this Great and Grand Republic

1. Ramesh Ponnuru takes on Barrett critic and Massimo Faggioli for his epically dishonest call for investigating the Judge’s religious beliefs. From the critique:

What actually caused objections — and not just from conservatives — was Feinstein’s sneering comment to Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Feinstein’s office went on to object to Barrett for saying, e.g., that Christians should be mindful of their role in God’s plan to redeem the world. None of this was just raising questions.

Senators are well within their rights to ask any nominee, whatever their religion or lack of it, whether they have any commitments that would interfere with their obligation to apply the law. They are not justified in insinuating, with zero evidence, that someone’s (reported) membership in a religious organization creates a special obligation for that question to be asked and answered. They would, similarly, be wrong to ask an atheist nominee if he could really be trusted to protect religious liberty.

Barrett has already testified under oath to the Senate on the relevant point: “I see no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.” The key question has been asked and answered.

2. Related, from Alexandra DeSanctis, who toils in these very vineyards: She nails the partisan religion-hyperventilating over Barrett as a stand-in for the High Court’s decrepit Roe ruling sanctifying abortion on demand. From the piece:

As I wrote at the time, it seemed clear that Democrats were using Buescher’s nomination as a test run in someday preventing Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. If media coverage is any indication, now that the moment has arrived, Barrett’s opponents are prepared to make her Catholic faith the central component in their crusade against her.

This strategy not only exposes the sinister anti-Catholic bigotry of far too many public figures, but further confirms that our judicial-nomination process is now entirely about Roe and subsequent abortion decisions.

Evidently some number of progressives are motivated in part by suspicion of — or disgust for — religious faith as such, but what really troubles them is a person of faith who opposes abortion. In other words, they’re concerned not about anyone who calls themselves Catholic, but about any Catholic who actually believes what the Church teaches about abortion, the high sacrament of the progressive creed.

And so they say, “It’s all well and good to be religious, just keep it to yourself. Your private morality doesn’t belong in the public square.”

3. Rich Lowry whips out the crystal ball and finds that Court-packing is a political no-go. From the column:

For the Democrats, court-packing would be a murder-suicide. It would end the Supreme Court as we know it, and almost certainly bring a swift and decisive end to Democratic congressional majorities. There’s a reason Republicans aren’t taking the threat seriously in their calculations.

No matter how infuriated a party is, the rules of political gravity still apply. A president is at the high point of his power at the outset, steadily losing juice over time.

Would Biden spend precious capital on court-packing early in his presidency? If so, voting, green-energy and health-care legislation would take a back seat.

If, instead, all that legislation went first, court-packing would be pushed toward the back of the line, when Biden would have diminished clout for the political fight of a lifetime.

4. Michael Brendan Dougherty investigates the stamina of the Democratic nominee and how it echoes 2016. From the commentary:

 If Biden blows it, the basement-campaign strategy will look like an obvious culprit in his defeat. Usually, a party tries to avoid making the same mistakes that recent losing campaigns made. But Biden’s operation seems to be leaning into dangers that should be obvious. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was dogged by conspiracy theories about her health, ones that were dismissed by her cheerleading journalists until the very moment she seemed to collapse at a public event, and was thrown into the side of a van by her handlers. This surely hurt Clinton. Furthermore, she was criticized in the aftermath of the campaign for not campaigning enough in Wisconsin and for not putting in the work. Compared to Biden, she looks like a workaholic. Biden only visited Wisconsin after the riots in Kenosha.

What if the campaign should be, uh, campaigning more? Why isn’t it? Close Biden watchers have started tracking how many times and how early the Biden campaign calls a “full lid” on their day, signaling to the press that there will be no more public events, or questions answered. The day after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the “full lid” was called before 9 a.m. On about a quarter of the days in September — real campaign season — the lid was on before noon.

The presidency can be a very demanding job, and one shouldn’t (and often can’t) just call the day over before noon every other day or so. Donald Trump is notorious for his long bouts of “executive time” and even revealing how many hours he watches Fox News consecutively. This level of distractedness has not served his administration well.

5. Kyle Smith lays out the Andrew Cuomo record: The staggering COVID death count has much to do with the Governor’s obsessing over petty New York politics and his hatred for Bill de Blasio. From the analysis:

Throughout January and February, far too many leaders at all levels downplayed the Wuhan virus, but by March 17, New York City’s mayor had seen enough. Schools had shut down the day before, and de Blasio said in a news conference that New Yorkers should prepare to “shelter in place” to slow the spread of the virus. The governor’s team immediately jumped in to tell de Blasio this idea sounded “crazy.” “Phones were ringing off the hook,” de Blasio’s then-press aide Freddi Goldstein told the Wall Street Journal in an exhaustive, damning tick-tock of Cuomo’s horrific decisions. Cuomo’s officers told Goldstein’s crew in City Hall that “de Blasio was scaring people. You have to walk it back. It’s not your call.”

Five crucial, lethal days went by before Cuomo decided de Blasio was not crazy. As he has done on many other occasions, such as hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour (de Blasio proposed this, Cuomo opposed it, then Cuomo enacted it and bragged about it), Cuomo furiously opposed de Blasio, then switched sides while calling himself the true author of the idea. Millions of New Yorkers went to work, packed into mass transit, and otherwise crowded together. Yet “if everybody had done exactly what they did one week earlier, more than 50% fewer people would have died by the end of April,” Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and co-author of a study on the matter, told the Journal. Shaman pegs the number of lives that could have been saved by acting one week earlier at 17,514 in the metropolitan area or 36,000 nationwide. Cuomo’s March 25 order that nursing homes must accept those infected with coronavirus was a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe; and Cuomo has sternly resisted all efforts to launch an independent investigation into how much damage the virus did within such long-term care facilities. Cuomo’s claim that only about 20 percent of the state’s 33,000 deaths from the virus were linked to nursing homes is risible given that the percentage is far higher in other states; the true death toll in New York nursing homes is likely to be something like 11,000, maybe more. Cuomo’s continuing refusal to allow an independent look at this is simply a coverup. “I think you’d have to be blind to realize it’s not political,” Cuomo has said, as he prepares to publish a book celebrating his stewardship of the crisis. A bipartisan bill to authorize such an investigation is pending.

6. More Kyle: He takes on the arguments of knicker-twisted erstwhile conservatives who say Donald Trump should make no SCOTUS nomination. (But do remember folks hat we are told repeatedly — there is no such thing as “Never Trump”). From the piece:

The Republicans have the authority to seat Trump’s nominee. French calls this state of affairs “Machiavellian simplicity,” Will calls it the “cold logic of formal powers,” and Goldberg calls it “the doctrine of ‘do whatever you can get away with.’” I call it continuing with the way things have always been done. Twenty-nine times in American history there’s been a SCOTUS vacancy in an election year, and 29 times the president has nominated someone to fill it. Senators usually reject those nominees if the Senate and White House are controlled by different parties, as was the case in 2016, and nearly always confirm them if the two are controlled by the same party.

So why is this time different? I gather that Will finds the character of President Trump to be so reprehensible that he believes Trump should not be granted the privilege of seating another justice, even one Will would deem a superb choice if it had been made by, say, President George W. Bush. Will, French, and Goldberg are also bothered by what they see as the hypocrisy of several Republican senators on the question of whether nominees should be confirmed in the final year of a presidential administration. But hypocrisy isn’t a legal or constitutional matter; it’s a character issue, and thus a political matter. There is no anti-hypocrisy clause in the Constitution. Lawmakers are free to vote down sin one year and support it the next. (Indeed, Republican lawmakers who crack down on spending when a Democrat is president but open up the coffers when a Republican is in the Oval Office have a long history of doing just this. It would be intellectually consistent, but unwise, of them to declare that nobody should fret about overspending. But because they are hypocrites, they act wisely at least some of the time.)

If voters feel that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are hypocrites, they can complain about it, and work to bounce both men from the Senate this November. I suspect the public understands that, whatever nonpartisan principles anyone felt badgered into declaring in 2016, the reality is that Graham and McConnell and every other senator are partisans, and so they act accordingly. There would have been no shame in any Republican senator’s stating, in 2016, “I do not want Merrick Garland confirmed, or even allowed a vote, because I think his judicial philosophy is wrong.” Which happened to be the truth.

7. Mario Loyola checks out Donald Trump’s surprising appeal with Hispanic voters. From the article:

What has really surprised Democrats, especially given the media’s persistent portrayals of Trump as racist and anti-immigrant, is that Trump has only increased his support among Hispanics since 2016. He won 28 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016 and is polling around 36 percent now, according to Quinnipiac, after reaching 38 in May. That’s more than any GOP presidential candidate in modern history except George W. Bush, who captured 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Far from alienating Hispanic Americans, Trump has actually reversed much of the drop in Hispanic support that the GOP suffered during the acrimonious and often ugly debate over comprehensive immigration reform between 2006 and 2008.

Though prominent Democrats have been sounding the alarm for months, the growing strength of Trump’s support among Hispanics has shocked many of them. But they have mostly themselves to blame. They have for too long ignored both their own failures and the strengths of Trump, creating what could prove to be their Achilles heel.

8. Scott Turner bemoans the decline of the Science and the Academy, and finds it’s all very self-inflicted. From the essay:

Once the war was won, the federal foot-in-the-academic-door was not withdrawn but jammed more firmly in place. This drew the academic sciences into an expanding and richly funded enterprise — the “Big Science ecosystem.” The federal government is now the dominant funder of academic research.

The academy’s fulminating pathology lies in a set of perverse incentives built into the funding model for Big Science. This model fatally commingles the conflicting interests of academic researchers (intellectual independence) and the institutions that employ them (managerial and financial), while leaving all political power vested in institutions. The legislation that set the federalization of science into motion tried to reconcile these competing interests. This complicated compromise, never stable, is now completely undone.

The result? After seven decades, Big Science has become a deeply entrenched cartel, drawing in to its Jovian orbit universities, government research agencies, academic publishers, politicians, and more. The cartel is organized not around soybeans, cocaine, or oil, but around maximizing the flow of federal-research dollars. By this measure, the Big Science cartel has been spectacularly successful: Since 1950, federal expenditures in academic research have doubled every seven years, to more than $80 billion currently. By the measure of protecting the core values of science and scientists, however — intellectual independence, freedom of inquiry, etc. — it has been a spectacular failure.

9. Andy McCarthy analyzes the charges in the Brianna Taylor death and finds the outcome to be just. From the piece:

Much of what we’ve been told about the case turns out not to be true — another “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” urban legend of police brutality. Most prominently, Attorney General Cameron explained that the police did not execute a “no knock” warrant before entering Ms. Taylor’s apartment. They knocked and announced themselves as police before forcing entry shortly after midnight.

How they came to be at Ms. Taylor’s home, with a search warrant based on probable cause that evidence of narcotics crimes would be found, is the part of the story the social-justice warriors would have us omit. It needs telling.

When she was killed, Breonna Taylor was 26, a hospital emergency-room technician who hoped to become a nurse. But over the years, she had gotten involved with Glover, a 30-year-old twice-convicted drug dealer. Though she was never a targeted suspect, the New York Times reports that Ms. Taylor was entangled in the frequent police investigations of Glover. Taylor remained romantically involved with him though he had spent years in prison.

In fact, after they first became a couple in 2016, Taylor agreed to rent a car for Glover and, for her trouble, ended up interviewed in a murder investigation. A man was found shot to death behind the steering wheel of that car, and drugs were found in it. Glover was connected to the decedent through an associate but was not charged in the case.

10. Arizona Governor and NR pal Doug Ducey praises efforts to return civics to our classrooms. He’s taking a bow and yep, we’re happy to provide that forum. From the piece/:

A law I signed in March (the “Civics Celebrations Day bill“) requires schools to dedicate the majority of today’s classroom instruction to civics. That means that, from our littlest kindergartners to high-school seniors, students across Arizona are spending today learning the importance of our constitutional system.

These types of intentional interventions can help turn back the tide of years of disappearing civics curriculum. As an example of how far we’ve fallen, the same NAEP report card showed that just 22 percent of eighth-grade students have teachers with a primary responsibility for teaching civics to their classes.

It’s no wonder that we’ve seen appreciation for our government and its institutions replaced by apathy and alienation.

Another way to make sure that civics gets back into the classroom is to test it. After all, what gets tested gets taught.

That’s why I was proud to make the first bill I signed the American Civics Act, legislation that requires graduating high-schoolers to pass the same test given to new citizens. Today, 34 other states have followed Arizona’s lead by passing similar legislation.

11. More Civics and American History: Stanley Kurtz lays out a take-back plan. From the piece:

The White House Conference on American History helped to introduce a new solution to the decline of history education in this country. American Achievement Testing (AAT), a new non-profit company, has formed an alliance with the historian Wilfred McClay, whose extraordinary new American history textbook, Land of Hope, is unlike any text currently available. In partnership with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), AAT recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to design instructional materials for K–12 U.S. history courses, with Land of Hope as their core text. Theodor Rebarber, CEO of AAT, Wilfred McClay, author of Land of Hope, and Peter Wood, president of NAS, all spoke at the White House Conference on American history, as did Jordan Adams, who supervises history instruction at the system of charter schools associated with Hillsdale College, where Land of Hope is used as a text. (Other presentations less directly related to AAT’s project are well worth watching.) President Trump touted the NEH grant during his speech and asked Rebarber, McClay, and Wood to stand and be recognized. (You can see a video of the conference, with talks by Wood, McClay, Rebarber, Adams, and others here, and video of the president’s remarks here.) AAT’s U.S. history course materials — and the way they will be adopted — hold the key to the president’s new education reform plans.

AAT’s strategy for reforming American history education — and eventually other subjects — represents a sharp break with the failed approach of the national education reform movement supported for years by the conservative education establishment. Instead of attempting to impose a de facto national curriculum (think Common Core, the College Board’s AP U.S. history framework, and plans for new national civics standards), AAT hopes to return our education system to the principles of federalism, competition, and local control. Before unpacking AAT’s reform strategy and explaining why it represents a better way than the quest for de facto national standards, let’s have a look at the unique features of AAT’s approach to American history instruction, beginning with Land of Hope.

12. Daniel J. Mahoney amplifies the reasons why the spirits of religion and liberty are central to an America that fulfills the potential of its Declaration and Constitution. From the essay:

Liberals once applauded religion, at least as an instrument for justice and as a reminder that everyone, including the highly placed and powerful, remained subject to the judgment of God. Abolitionism, the Social Gospel, and the civil rights movement were peopled by ministers and people of faith who freely appealed to moral conscience informed by the Gospel. Today’s left, with a few notable exceptions, appeals to a highly moralistic conception of social justice and doctrinaire equality. Their conception is shorn of any real emphasis on human sinfulness as a universal attribute, or on humility — and with it, the concomitant need for repentance, forgiveness, and mutual accountability. Those accredited with “victimhood” are said to be without sin, thus having no need for humility and self-limitation. Victimizers, ever more arbitrarily defined, are condemned as guilty for who they are rather than what they have done.

In this worldview, aggressive secularism and moralism go hand in hand with the reckless condemnation of whole groups and peoples. “White privilege,” for example, plays the same role that “kulaks,” Jews, and class enemies played in the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. (If the practice is not yet totalitarian, the theory most certainly is.) The deification of alleged “victims” and the demonization of the police and the majority population invites ostracism and “canceling” of many imperfect but decent people. Such acts of “woke” despotism are made possible by an arbitrary repudiation of common morality, religious humility, and the awareness of shared imperfection, all of which make repentance and forgiveness possible.

It is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the anarchists and proto-totalitarians among us in Antifa and Black Lives Matter (the movement, not necessarily the slogan) mock biblical religion, common morality, and the traditional family. BLM’s statement of purpose is a series of aggressive and predictable ideological clichés, rooted in a blatant repudiation of the moral and religious heritage of the West. These self-proclaimed “trained Marxists” do more than speak a wooden ideological language. Their adherents publicly assault innocents, burn Bibles, attack statues of historical figures and religious icons, and publicly display guillotines — guillotines! — while swarming the homes of prominent Americans, including liberals, whom they seek to threaten and humiliate. Politicians, corporations, and churchmen shamelessly apologize for, and even underwrite, these repulsive revolutionaries. Such self-destructive indulgence of totalitarian nihilism is evidence of just how deep our current crisis has become.

13. Jim Talent warns about ChiCom investment in U.S “greenfields.” From the Corner post:

Two years ago, I wrote about Congress’ efforts to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the interagency body that vets acquisitions of sensitive U.S. assets. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), which Congress passed in August of 2018, expanded the powers CFIUS has to review, and potentially block, investments by foreign entities that could pose as a threat to U.S. national security. Among its expanded powers, CFIUS now can review small investments, particularly in the technology, data, and infrastructure industries, that do not result in foreign control, and acquisitions of real estate near sensitive ports or military bases.

However, one important category of foreign transactions was left out of the bill — “greenfield investments,” particularly by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Greenfield investments result in the control of newly built facilities in the U.S., and they were not addressed inf the reform bill mostly because governors and state governments embrace them. That is understandable; they typically bring the promise of creating American jobs.

However, greenfield investments by Chinese SOEs pose a unique threat, and should be met with the highest scrutiny by all levels of government. This was certainly front of mind when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the National Governor’s Association’s winter meeting this past February.

Capital Matters, Which Is So Very True

1. Casey Mulligan says the numbers do not lie as they dispel Keynesian economics. From the beginning of the piece:

July was the final month of the historically disproportionate unemployment bonus of $600 per week. The termination or reduction of benefits will undoubtably make a difference in the lives of the people who were receiving them, but old-style Keynesians insist that the rest of us will be harmed too. They’re wrong.

Referring to the bonus sunset, Paul Krugman explained in August that “I’ve been doing the math, and it’s terrifying. . . . Their spending will fall by a lot . . . [and there is] a substantial ‘multiplier’ effect, as spending cuts lead to falling incomes, leading to further spending cuts.” GDP could fall 4 to 5 percent, and perhaps as much as ten percent, which is almost $200 billion less national spending a month.

Wednesday the Census Bureau’s advance retail-sales report provided our first extensive look at consumer spending in August, which is the first month with reduced benefits (reduced roughly $50 billion for the month). Did consumer spending drop by tens of billions, starting our economy on the promised path toward recession?

2. Steven Hanke argues that it is time to say hasta luego to Argentina’s peso. From the beginning of the piece:

In addition to facing an acute COVID-19 crisis, Argentina’s deadbeat economy is collapsing, and, as usual, the inflation noose is around Argentines’ necks. Argentina’s official inflation rate for August 2020 is 40.70 percent per year. And, for once, Argentina’s official rate is fairly close to the rate that I calculate each day using high-frequency data and purchasing-power-parity theory, a methodology that has long proved its worth when compared with official statistics. Today, I measure Argentina’s annual inflation rate at 37 percent, but probably not for long — the noose is generally followed by the trapdoor.

As Milton Friedman put it in his 1987 New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics entry “Quantity Theory of Money” (QTM), “The conclusion (of the QTM) is that substantial changes in prices or nominal income are almost always the result of changes in the nominal supply of money.” The income form of the QTM states that: MV=Py, where M is the money supply, V is the velocity of money, P is the price level, and y is real GDP (national income).

Let’s use the QTM to make some bench calculations to determine what the “golden growth” rate is for the money supply. This is the rate of broad money growth that would allow the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) to hit its inflation target. I calculate the “golden growth” rate for the past decade.

3. Eric Grover wants the Fed reined in. From the analysis:

The Fed isn’t independent or the policymaker. It is an instrument of Congress, which by statute directs it to conduct monetary policy to achieve “stable prices,” maximum employment, and moderate long-term interest rates. Stable prices mean inflation hovering around zero, not prices doubling every 35 years. If a 200-pound MMA fighter’s weight increased 2 percent every year to 244 pounds after a decade, nobody would suggest his weight was stable.

Shame on the Fed for “redefining” its role under the law. But shame on Congress for not insisting the central bank hew to statute.

If Congress wants inflation, it should pass legislation changing the Fed’s mandate to that effect, which President Trump or Biden would likely sign. But while many congressional cravens may want inflation, few want to go on record voting for it.

4. Brad Palumbo does the deep dive into the Biden Tax Plan and finds it’s going to bite any and all. From the article:

The GOP’s 2017 tax-reform bill reduced the U.S. corporate tax rate from 31 percent to 21 percent. This made our tax environment more competitive internationally, as our 31 percent levy was significantly higher than those of most other developed countries.

Biden, however, wants to mostly undo this reform and raise the corporate tax rate back to 28 percent. The Democrats’ narrative here is that they simply want businesses to “pay their fair share.” Who could oppose that?

There is just one problem: Corporations don’t actually pay the corporate tax. You do.

Yes, the government can technically send the tax bill to the corporate boardroom. But big businesses largely respond to higher taxes by increasing prices, holding back their wage bills, and reducing job creation, rather than eating the cost themselves.

Corporate-tax increases also incentivize off-shoring. It’s easy to see why: The more expensive the government makes it for multinational corporations to do business in the U.S., the more likely they are to move operations overseas — taking economic activity and jobs with them.

5. Ace reporter Jimmy Quinn investigates how the Trump TikTok ban can work. From the article:

Trump has a deal on his desk that could — if TikTok sticks to its promises — create over 20,000 jobs in the United States. It would require, though, the president’s acquiescence to Beijing, which has prohibited ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, from selling its algorithm. The Oracle bid “blessed” by the president is a bad deal from the standpoint of U.S. national security: ByteDance would retain majority control over TikTok, and although Oracle could inspect the app’s algorithm, that code would not come under U.S. ownership. It meets none of the criteria that Trump set out during the negotiations, and China hawks in the administration are lobbying him to turn it down.

Should he decide against the deal, the president has a solid way forward in Commerce Department guidelines issued last week that outline a how a ban would work.

“We have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement last Friday, announcing the guidelines that will implement Trump’s executive orders to ban TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese messaging app beholden to Beijing’s censorship and surveillance.

6. Andrew Stuttaford checks out the global wreckage from our lockdowns. From the commentary:

While brief, early lockdowns could be justified; what should have been done thereafter was devising protocols to live “with” the virus, combining more modest restrictions, focused above all on the most vulnerable, with extensive test-and-trace programs on the South Korean and German models, all the time remembering that (as Germany is now demonstrating) the latter is no panacea.

Instead the U.K. (but not just the U.K.) reinforced panic-mongering with coercion — lockdowns that were too late, too prolonged, and too draconian. Making matters even worse was the way the residents of care or nursing homes were treated, and again, not just in the U.K. Infamously, New York State sent recovering COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, with predictably disastrous consequences. For its part, Sweden was reluctant to dispatch care-home residents for hospital treatment, something that undoubtedly contributed to the higher death rate seen there (particularly when compared with its Nordic neighbors, a number that may have been further boosted — the ”dry tinder” thesis — by lower rates of flu in Sweden than elsewhere in the region in the immediately preceding years), and thus provided ammunition to those who were either genuinely opposed to Sweden’s less heavy-handed approach (which, incidentally, owed quite a bit to protections contained in the country’s constitution) or fearful that its success might represent a massive political embarrassment.

Sweden is Sweden, a society that still operates in an unusually cooperative manner. What worked in Sweden — low levels of compulsion combined with high compliance with advisory guidelines — would not work everywhere. Nevertheless, its record bears examining even if the Swedish authorities have stressed that their methods cannot be properly assessed until the end of the pandemic, an argument that implicitly rests on whether Sweden avoids a significant second wave.

Lights. Cameras. Review!

1. Kyle Smith finds some marvelous things in Nomadland. From the beginning of the review:

Throughout the entire history of the Academy Awards, the Best Picture trophy has never gone to a film primarily about the economic plight of white working-class Americans. On the Waterfront probably comes the closest, although that is more of a Mob drama about tribal loyalty.

And On the Waterfront came out 66 years ago. As the white working class turned away from the Democratic Party, Hollywood lost interest in the white working class, even as three of the last seven Best Picture winners have covered the sufferings of black Americans. So it’s surprising that perhaps the leading Oscar contender of the year so far, Nomadland, depicts the WWC with poignance and sensitivity, albeit with a left-wing spin. It walks the line between art and propaganda, which is why it’s an Oscar picture.

Nomadland, which is showing at the New York Film Festival ahead of a December theatrical release, opens with a somber title card reading, “On January 30, 2011, due to a reduced demand for Sheetrock, US Gypsum shut down its plant in Empire, Nevada, after 88 years.” So wholly abandoned was the town that the Postal Service shut down its zip code. People were dislocated as though by a Dust Bowl–sized calamity, but this nightmare is man-made. The film is a successor to John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath for the age of singletons, and like Ford’s masterpiece, it sprinkles sentimentalization into grit so deftly that it’s a marvel.

2. Kajillionaire wearies Armond White. From the beginning of the review:

“Most people want to be kajillionaires; that’s how they get you hooked,” explains Robert Dyne (Richard Jenkins) in Kajillionaire. Con artist Dyne heads a small clan of grifters that include his wife Theresa (Debra Winger) and daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood). They dress like hobos while pulling scams in modern Los Angeles that include slinking past the landlord of a cubicle-style apartment where they must perform an abstract-art chore collecting soap suds that ooze from the ceiling.

That’s right, Kajillionaire is an art thing — a movie by mercurial performance and gallery artist Miranda July. That also means that Robert Dyne’s statement is not exactly a political critique. July doesn’t satirize greed; she exhibits the same privileged relationship to capitalism as most independent “artists” who scam their way through the grant and foundation system yet disdain the mundane workaday existence of others. It’s a peculiarly class-based, bohemian ideology that Kajillionaire expresses with a perfectly oddball plot — the dreaded heist movie taken to philosophical extremes.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. More Mahoney: The eminent scholar takes to Public Discourse to tell the world of the greatness of Rod Dreher’s new book, Live Not by Lies. From the review:

As Rod Dreher demonstrates in his vitally important new book, Live Not by Lies, no such soul-searching or chastening of progressive illusions followed the anti-totalitarian revolutions of 1989, or the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later. Instead, democratic euphoria was combined with a continuing erosion of the pre-modern moral capital that gives modern liberty a more elevated appreciation of the meaning of life, as well as of the purposes of human freedom. In the last half century or so, a therapeutic culture has replaced the “reality principle” with the “pleasure principle,” as Freud called them. Respect for transcendent principles has also given way to a new cult of the autonomous self.

As moral self-limitation gave way to hedonism and hyper-individualism, and as civic spirit declined, democracy became more and more associated with an assault on all institutions and traditions that connected freedom to spiritual elevation and humanizing self-restraint. New and ever more militant ideological currents demanded social justice (i.e. doctrinaire egalitarianism of the most aggressive sort), cultural emancipation (e.g. same-sex marriage and gender ideology, with more and more exotic forms of “emancipation” to come), and the denial of objective truth. All of this is done in the name of the social construction of human nature and the linguistic construction of social reality. Social-justice warriors, gender theorists, and postmodern theorists of various stripes deny the very idea of a natural order of things and wish to silence or cancel all who continue to affirm its reality.

The demands of the Woke have become increasingly coercive, including the curtailment of the speech — and even employment — of those who question their reckless social and cultural agenda. Dreher speaks freely of an increasingly ascendant “soft totalitarianism.” In the present circumstances, such an appellation does not strike this reader as particularly hyperbolic. Like the totalitarians of old, the new totalitarians wish to erase historical memory and to rewrite history according to the willful ideological demands of the moment. They are cruel, vindictive, and moralistic, and thus incapable of acknowledging human frailty and fallibility. Their worldview in principle has no place for forgiveness, repentance, and civic reconciliation. Politics for them is war by other means — and perhaps not just other means.

2. At The American Conservative, Fr. Benedict Kiely lands a harsh critique of the Vatican’s footsie-playing with Red China. From the article:

Yet that is exactly what is happening at this moment as the Vatican and the Communist leaders of China prepare to renew a secret accord which was first agreed two years ago. Officially due for renewal on September 22, many reports indicate that it has already been agreed, in fact, at a September 14th meeting on, of all things, Ostpolitik, Cardinal Parolin stated that the agreement would be renewed by October. The Communist regime in China has persecuted the Church with various levels of attrition since coming to power in 1949. Like Hoxha’s regime in Albania, one of the particular concerns of the Chinese Communist government is that the Catholic Church is a “foreign power,” with foreign leadership, and hence must be brought under the control of the regime. As in other countries, the Communists created the “Patriotic Church” to control every aspect of Church life, in particular appointing bishops independent of the Vatican. A parallel “underground” Church emerged, loyal to Rome, and subject to many kinds of persecution.

The accord, signed in secret, in theory allowed for some kind of unity between the “official” Patriotic Church and the underground Church, especially focusing on the appointment of bishops with both Vatican and government approval. However, it seems to most knowledgable observers that the agreement gave most of the power to the regime and, two years later, more than half of China’s 98 Catholic dioceses are still without bishops. Meanwhile the official doctrine of the Communist party is to “sinicize” every aspect of religious life in China, not only Catholicism. Persecution of the underground Church has continued, with bishops and priests being arrested; just a few days ago, Fr. Liu Maochun, of the Catholic diocese of Mindong, was arrested by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the Communist State and disappeared for seventeen days.

According to the charity Open Doors USA, “every facet of persecution” of religion has increased in China in recent years, with the persecution of “Church life” — parish activity, religious education, social action — at what they measure as “90% persecution.” The world is only just beginning to realize the extent of the persecution of the Chinese Uighur Muslims, according to some experts reaching the level of genocide, with conservative estimates of more than 1.5 million Uighurs in “re-education camps.”

3. At Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Juliana Gerard Pilon explores the history of black radicalism’s blatant Jew Hate. From the article:

Though nothing new, the vicious antisemitism of radical Black leaders is especially painful considering the long history of joint advocacy among the Black and Jewish communities. That may explain at least in part Jewish reticence to confront the insults and calumny dished out in massive doses by their ideological brethren. There was, for example, very little outcry when, under the guise of protesting the death of George Floyd, gangs of thugs recently ran amok in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Los Angles shouting “f — ing Jews,” and targeting Jewish businesses and institutions with violence. One prominent community leader said unambiguously: “The Jewish community is in denial. The fact that synagogues got tagged and Jewish businesses were looted with [signs saying] ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Kill the Jews,’ is not a coincidence.” Some of the Jews who suffered material losses said that while they could empathize with the cause of the protestors, they could not condone the use of violence or understand why their businesses had been attacked.

Writing on the phenomenon of Jewish timidity in the face of Black antisemitism almost 30 years ago, even über-radical Rabbi Michael Lerner, who in the sixties headed the Berkeley chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was incensed. Perhaps since most Jews are white, many of them are afflicted with the prevailing mood of “white guilt,” perceiving themselves as benefiting from privileges denied to African-Americans.

4. At The Catholic Thing, Hadley Arkes explores the ways in which government reactions to the COVID pandemic have harmed unalienable rights. From the article:

When it comes, say, to laws imposing controls on wages and prices, the reflexive response has been: the right not to suffer those restrictions of freedom was never reserved against the government in the Bill of Rights, and so the authority to impose those laws must be part of the deep powers of the government.

In one of my books, I sought to pose the problem by offering two different laws or regulations. The first one bars obscene phone calls in the middle of the night. The second orders people to stay in their homes until given permission by their government to leave. One involves “speech” and so some would try to bring it under the First Amendment. The other involves a freedom never mentioned in the Bill of Rights.

And so the question: Would we actually allow the government to bear a much lesser burden of justification when it restricts our freedom to leave the house and move about in the outside world?

Who would have thought? Thirty years since I wrote those lines, we’ve had the question actually posed in the courts, as governments in the States have imposed lockdowns in the effort to deal with the contagion of COVID. In their duration and severity, those orders have run well beyond any precedents we have known in this country. But the powers of government to deal with the emergency have been assumed to be as large as the powers needed to deal with the crisis.

5. At Spectator US, Daniel McCarthy mocks the myth that the US Supreme Court is not a thing political. From the piece:

Yet elections and the Supreme Court do matter, and if one of the persistent myths of American politics expects the arrival of the Antichrist in the Oval Office any day now, another persistent myth is that of a non-political Supreme Court.

Roe v. Wade, the refrain goes, sparked these desperate battles over SCOTUS. When pressed, those who say this — often they’re centrists of a somewhat leftward tilt, but I’ve heard it from certain conservatives, too — will reluctantly admit that, yes, other decisions had this effect, not just recent decisions on ‘social issues,’ but Brown v. Board of Education too. And before that there was Dred Scott v. Sandford.

Depoliticizing the Court and sending contentious questions back to states, where they vanish in a puff of benign localist consensus, is simply not possible. It hasn’t been since the Civil War, whose outcome required the passage of constitutional amendments to guarantee that states couldn’t continue to deny black people their rights as Americans. The amendments, however, turned the Bill of Rights upside down. What had started out as restrictions on the federal government — hence ‘Congress shall make no law . . .’ — became, thanks to the interpretations of the 16th and 17th Amendments, restraints on every level of government, with the federal judiciary deciding what those restraints would mean in legal reality.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and rights of contract at every level of American society are tied into the Supreme Court through the incorporation doctrine. Roe or no Roe, Brown or no Brown, this always had political implications and was sooner or later bound to lead to increasing politicization of the confirmation process.

6. At Law & Liberty, Shanon Fitzgerald and Thomas Koenig are enjoying how the Department of Education has called Princeton’s “anti-racist” bluff. From the essay:

Rather than defend the real merits of the institution which he heads, President Eisgruber has chosen to drift with the prevailing winds of unfriendly, uncharitable, and unreasonable criticism. He has with his actions and words bought into — by failing to challenge — the ridiculous premise that Princeton is in any significant way contributing to or responsible for the injustices, unrest, and frustrations surrounding the issue of race that still plague our nation. In facing his woke critics, President Eisgruber chose the easy lie, and now his institution will suffer the consequences.

How will this end? First of all, we should note that when we report that Princeton doesn’t have a racism problem, we do have one caveat in mind. President Eisgruber’s public hand-wringing was obviously meant to speak to concerns, irrationally endemic within the University community, that the University in systemic fashion engages in anti-black racism and adverse discrimination against people of color. Based on our experiences living, studying, and otherwise existing within Princeton over the past four years, we expect that very little of this will be found. What the DoE might well find, however, and what they might truly be searching for, would be real discrimination on the basis of race, but of an altogether different sort. See the current federal civil rights cases regarding admissions practices at Harvard and Yale, over allegations of bias against Asian-American applicants.

This episode has broader cultural and political implications as well. President Eisgruber’s wish to avoid conflict with constituents to his left has made this yet another missed opportunity to advance productive dialogue concerning issues of race. The anti-racist rhetoric we’ve seen splashing across op-ed pages, Twitter feeds, and streetscapes this past summer has many excesses, and is desperately in need of a strong dose of reality and good-faith grappling with criticism. By engaging with his institution’s influential and vocal anti-racist bloc rather than kowtowing to them, President Eisgruber could have provided that faction — and our national discourse — with a strong dose of the medicine they so badly need. A real reckoning with truth about race would entail factual nuance and debate — not relentless dogma.

7. At The Human Life Review, Drew Letendre tries to keep up with the Cuomos, Father and Sons. From the essay:

Andrew Cuomo may be slightly less narcissistic than his brother. Admittedly, it’s a tight race. But Americans got a big dose of overweening self-regard in his nationally covered daily press conferences this spring. Cuomo’s public profile is second only to the president’s, and it positively towers over those of his fellow governors. Like his brother, Andrew is not without a temper. His prickliness, kept in check earlier on, was on full display as the weeks went by. To be fair, it could be that his composure began to buckle under the weight of the pandemic. Still, in my view, two episodes from those press conferences define the man.

The first was on March 23, when a Don Quixote-like governor took up arms against a straw man. Ventriloquizing for President Trump, who had speculated about when the country might get back to work, Cuomo erected a false opposition between saving human lives and saving the economy: “My mother is not expendable,” the governor intoned, “and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable and we’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable and we’re not going to put a dollar sign on human life.”

To hold these ends — economic flourishing and public health and safety — in some kind of fragile equipoise; to wager momentous bets while understanding the inevitable risks; and to try to anticipate the complex “caroms of the ball” with so much at stake, is not only the high calling of political leadership, it is unavoidable in a crisis like the pandemic. But according to the governor of New York, those who expressed concern about national economic implosion — that is, the president and his fellow Republicans — were people who had essentially lost their humanity and were going to end up killing other people, lots of other people, including Cuomo’s 88-year-old mother.

The irony — both gross and grotesque — was not lost on us. This much-publicized paean to “non-expendable” life came from the same man who signed into law an abortion liberty virtually without limit. Adding insult to injury (and death), Cuomo ordered the 1,776-foot tall Liberty Tower in lower Manhattan to be lit from tip to toe in pink, in lurid celebration of legislation securing the right to physically stab, decapitate, or otherwise dismember a living human being in utero, and then perhaps recycle her “parts” for profit. This for any reason, including motivations arising from the anticipated economic stress that the birth of a child could bring. So much for not putting dollar signs on human life. (In fact, according to a Planned Parenthood website, the value of a single human life is set somewhere between $435 and $955, contingent on the method of execution.)

8. At Quillette, Phillip W. Magness reviews the New York Times revisionists editing the 1619 Project. From the piece:

Discovery of this edit came about earlier this week when Nikole Hannah-Jones went on CNN to deny that she had ever sought to displace 1776 with a new founding date of 1619. She repeated the point in a now-deleted tweet: “The #1619Project does not argue that 1619 was our true founding. We know this nation marks its founding at 1776.” It was not the first time that Hannah-Jones had tried to alter her self-depiction of the project’s aims on account of the controversial line. She attempted a similar revision a few months ago during an online spat with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

But this time the brazen rewriting of her own arguments proved too much. Hannah-Jones’s readers scoured her own Twitter feed and public statements over the previous year, unearthing multiple instances where she had in fact announced an intention to displace 1776 with 1619.

The foremost piece of evidence against Hannah-Jones’s spin, of course, came from the opening passage of from the Times’s own website where it originally announced its aim “to reframe the country’s history” around the year “1619 as our true founding.” When readers returned to that website to cite the line however, they discovered to their surprise that it was no longer there.

The Times quietly dropped the offending passage at some point during the intervening year, although multiple screencaps of the original exist. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine suggests the alteration came around late December 2019, when the 1619 Project was facing an onslaught of criticism over this exact point from several distinguished historians of the American founding.

Baseballery

We note the passing of some Boys of Summer. Some true greats: Lou Brock and Tom Seaver. One an unfair butt-of-jokes symbol for the end of the Yankee Dynasty: Horace Clark (a pretty darned good second baseman, by the way). Rest in peace all. And now let us wish the same for two others.

The first: Howie Judson, who passed away in August at the age of 95. The former right hander for the White Sox and Reds pitched from 1948 to 1954, compiling a miserable 17-37 record and a lifetime 4.29 ERA. But that was done, essentially, with one eye — a high school accident severely and permanently damaged his left peeper. Still, we make note of his 1949 season — it would hard for a pitcher to have a worse one. Judson’s began on a high note, the only one of the season: In his first start — against the Tigers, in Detroit, on April 23rd — he pitched 6 2/3 innings, gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, and earned a win. It was to be the only one of the season. Without much offensive support (the White Sox ended the season at 63-91), Judson’s next 14 decisions were all losses.

He pitched in the Big Leagues a few more years, his best being 1951, with a 5-6 record and 3.77 ERA. Hs last victory came in 1954 against the Pirates: His two-run single in the bottom of the 7th broke a 1-1 tie and earned him the W.

Also passing away in August was Carroll Hardy, an outfielder who played for the Indians, Red Sox, and Astros before ending his MLB career in 1967 in a short stint as a pinch-hitter with the Minnesota Twins, in the thick of one of baseball’s best-ever pennant races (he went for 8, including a two-run pinch home run off of Yankee starter Fritz Peterson.

Hardy did have one of baseball’s singular distinctions. Two in fact. In 1960, playing for the Red Sox, he replaced Ted Williams in his final game on September 28th, taking left field in the top of the 9th after the Splendid Splinter hit his 521st and last home run in the previous frame.

A week earlier, in Baltimore, the two Red Sox made baseball history when Williams fouled a ball off his foot in the First Inning and had to be taken out of the game (the Orioles would prevail, 4-3). Hardy was tagged to pinch-hit — it was the only time in his storied career that anyone ever pinch hit for Williams (Hardy hit into a double play).

Hardy also played in the NFL prior to his baseball career, and started a few games for the San Francisco 49ers in 1955, catching four touchdown passes that season from the great Y.A. Tittle, including two in one game against the Green Bay Packers. Rest in peace.

A Dios

Months backs Your Humble Correspondent asked you to pray for a man, a father and husband and son of a friend, near death from cancer. That is no exaggeration. Many did pray. His mother, ecstatic, this week wrote: His primary tumor is gone. Gone. Something that is miraculous has happened here. To those who asked He Who Binds Our Wounds for mercy on this young man, thank you. He remains in some woods, and with God’s help — and if you might say another prayer — he will emerge from them soon.

God’s Graces on All, Even Those Who Do Not Seek Them,

Jack Fowler, who was lectured that he had used thusly when thus would have sufficed, thus and even thusly is able to receive other lectures on things grammatical and fantastical if sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Arson by Government

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

The West is ablaze. Tens of millions of dead trees, left to become mulch per bureaucrat order — except many have become ashes first. So too, the toasted homes of thousands, and the bodies of many a trapped and outflanked soul who could not escape the conflagrations. Victor Davis Hanson abides in the thick of the madness, with a home miraculously saved from the nearby (and still largely uncontained) Creek Fire, courtesy of some common-sensical old pros. He talks about this at the outset of the new episode of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast. Catch it here.

On the keyboard, VDH calls it the same old, same old California suicide. He offers yet another terrific analysis of a leftist-run state whose leaders seem to prefer flames to middle-class residents. From his essay:

Over the past 40 years, a small coastal cadre became the nexus of trillions of dollars in global income from high tech, computers, finance, tony universities, and Hollywood. As the middle class fled the new Hell of California, the poor of Mexico and Latin America discovered that what others called a wrecked state, broke from soaring social services and state pensions, nevertheless seemed to be heaven on earth compared with Oaxaca or El Salvador.

So the rich got really rich, the poor came in and got a little less poor, and the middle fled either out of state or to the Sierra and coastal foothills that are now aflame. So California’s destruction can be summed up in the hypocrisies and paradoxes of its bankrupt elite, who believe that their money insulates them from their own toxic ideology, and their virtue-signaling squares the circle of feeling guilty that they want nothing to do with the millions of poor they invited in and are relieved that they drove out millions in the middle classes.

Governor Gavin Newsom not long ago ordered shutdowns of non–Napa Valley wine-tasting rooms — the winery he owns conveniently being located in Napa and thus escaping the lockdown orders. A hyper-capitalist made rich by his inherited “white privilege,” he brags that the virus will provide the necessary fear and confusion to allow “opportunity for reimagining a [more] progressive era as it pertains to capitalism.”

Welp, as this puppy goes to press, the news has broken that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has passed away. Better pull up your asbestos BVDs, because there is going to be a political inferno that may make the last six months seem like roses and lollipops.

Enough! Let us to the Jolting get.

Editorials

The management of California’s forests has been not only a disgrace, but a major reason for the serial infernos. From the editorial:

In California, the upshot was a reduction in annual burning by 95 percent, and an attendant increase in the state’s vulnerability to fires. Dead trees and overcrowded forests became literal tinderboxes. Add to the decades of mismanagement a recent spike in tree mortality, due primarily to drought, and you get frequent, desolating fires.

The solution is simple in principle if not in practice, but a web of interests has held back progress in the Golden State. As a recent ProPublica investigation points out, “burn bosses in California can more easily be held liable than their peers in some other states if the wind comes up and their burn goes awry,” but they face no consequences for allowing overgrowth. Federal legislation requiring environmental reviews for the simplest of forest-management projects makes it doubly difficult. Meanwhile, homeowners strenuously oppose the inconveniences that come with controlled burns in their neighborhoods.

Better forest management would go a long way toward making California safer, but given Newsom’s response, we won’t hold our breath. Instead, we should make room for businesses and households to solve the problem on their own by incentivizing private burning and clearing.

National Review Brilliance — More Fun Than Two Barrels of Monkeys! — Awaits

1. Rich Lowry says the expert’s Middle-East mockery was incredibly wrong, and Jared Kushner . . . right. From the column:

One of the administration’s projects was crafting a $50 billion economic plan for the Palestinians, then holding a conference in Bahrain promoting it. A piece in the progressive publication Mother Jones was titled, “Highlights From Jared Kushner’s Bizarre and Fantastical Middle East Peace Conference.”

When the administration prepared to follow this up with a peace plan, an expert warned in Foreign Policy: “Trump Must Not Let Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan See the Light of Day.” When the plan was released, another expert wrote an analysis for The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “I’m a Veteran Middle East Negotiator. Trump’s Plan is the Most Dangerous I’ve Ever Seen.” A column in the Washington Post declared, “The Trump administration’s new Mideast ‘peace’ plan is absurd.”

Vox opined, “Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get it.”

Vanity Fair ridiculed a Kushner criticism of the Palestinian leadership as, “Jared Kushner: Palestinians Have Never Done Anything Right in Their Sad, Pathetic Lives.” It noted there was video: “Don’t worry, there’s footage of Kushner making this statement, so it can be played back for all eternity.”

It seems pretty unlikely that anyone is going to go back to it now.

2. Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe have launched an inspirational 1619 Project counterattack called “1776 Unites.” Mairead McArdle has the story. From the piece:

Two black leaders are launching “1776 Unites,” a new high school curriculum that aims to combat victimhood culture in American society by telling the stories of black Americans who have prospered by embracing America’s founding ideals.

Civil rights veteran Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe, a charter school leader, gave remarks Wednesday on the new curriculum and what they hope it will accomplish for young black students and students of all races.

The curriculum’s goal is to “let millions of young people know about these incredible stories, African-Americans past and present, innovative, inventive, who faced adversity, did not view themselves as victims, and chose pathways to be agents of their own uplift,” said Rowe, who is also a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The curriculum says it will present “life lessons from largely unknown, heroic African-American figures from the past and present who triumphed over adverse conditions” and aims to help young people of all races “be architects of their own future by embracing the principles of education, family, free enterprise, faith, hard work and personal responsibility.”

3. David Harsanyi recounts the Secret Li(f)e of Joe Biden. From the piece:

Now, don’t fret. Biden is no stranger to peril. During a presidential primary debate in 2007, he told viewers about the time he had been “shot at” during a trip to the Green Zone in Iraq.

In any event, the naval officer in question would not let Biden pin the medal on him. “God’s truth, my word as a Biden,” the former senator said. “He stood at attention, I went to pin him, he said: ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me sir, please. Do not do that. He died. He died.’”

The only problem with this moving tale was that Biden never visited Kunar province as vice president nor did he ever pin a silver star on any Navy captain, much less one who refused to accept the honor. Nor, incidentally, had Biden ever been “shot at” by anyone.

The media dug up some vaguely similar tale — an Army specialist who had a medal pinned on him by Barack Obama at the White House — so they could claim that Biden had “misremembered” and “conflated” details. But he’s been doing this kind of thing for decades.

It was Biden whose “soul raged upon seeing the dogs of Bull Connor,” who claimed to have marched in the civil-rights movement. “When I was 17, I participated in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses,” Biden told audiences in his first presidential bid. In 2014, he was still going on about how he “got involved in desegregating movie theaters.”

In the real world, Biden was 17 in 1959, and it is exceptionally unlikely, nor is there any evidence, that he had participated in any sit-ins at the local Wilmington cinemas, or anywhere else.

4. More Harsanyi: Mattis is no hero when it comes to Trump. From the article:

That Trump’s political choices aren’t favored by Washington’s entrenched foreign-policy elites — people who have been wrong so often that they make the Congressional Budget Office look like Nostradamus — is unsurprising. But it’s worth noting that Mattis’s record here is hardly spotless. Mattis alleges that he no longer could stomach Trump’s “disdain” for the allies. On Tuesday, Trump held a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Arab countries that have normalized agreements with the Jewish State. This alone is a bigger foreign-policy victory than anything accomplished by Obama — who had great “disdain” for long-standing allies such as Israel.

Perhaps the retired Marine Corps general, who’d “buried too many boys,” was genuinely concerned that Trump would escalate violence. Nevertheless, there’s a strong argument to be made that more “boys” would have been buried if Trump — the first president who hasn’t gotten us into a new conflict since Jimmy Carter — had taken Mattis’s advice on Syria. (Trump now claims Mattis also dissuaded him from assassinating Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.)

It’s only fair to point out that Mattis alienated himself from the Obama administration, too, by taking an aggressive stance on Iran after the Islamic regime murdered hundreds of American soldiers, and that, in those days, Mattis wasn’t portrayed as an “esteemed” military man of indisputable integrity, but rather as a saber-rattler who was undercutting Obama’s alleged peacemaking efforts.

5. Alexandra DeSanctis explains the Trump administration’s expansion of its Mexico City policy. From the analysis:

The policy has been followed by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan enacted it in 1984, and undone by every Democratic president over the same period. But when President Trump came to office, rather than just reinstating the policy, he broadened it to apply not just to the State Department and USAID but also to the Office of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and the Defense Department.

When it applied only to the State Department and USAID, the Mexico City policy covered about $600 million in U.S. aid directed to international family-planning programs. The Trump administration’s original expansion, dubbed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” (PLGHA), covers nearly $9 billion in federal aid money. And now, the administration has proposed further broadening the PLGHA so that it covers global-health-aid contracts and subcontracts awarded by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

6. Joel Zinberg finds that cancel culture has come to medicine, looking for the scalp of Scott Atlas. From the beginning of the commentary:

Cancel culture has come to medicine. Dr. Scott Atlas, who was chairman of neuroradiology at Stanford’s medical school until 2012 and more recently a senior fellow at the university’s Hoover Institution, has been singled out for professional erasure by 98 of his former Stanford medical, epidemiological, and health-policy colleagues because he had the temerity to join President Trump’s coronavirus task force and advocate rational measures for safely reopening the economy. Their criticisms are unfair, yet typical of today’s political and academic climate.

Atlas’s one-time colleagues published an open letter to other medical-school faculty accusing him of “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” that “run counter to established science.” The letter — written on Stanford Medicine letterhead that falsely suggests the imprimatur of the medical school — does not cite any publications or specific statements by Dr. Atlas and does not specify exactly what “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” he allegedly made. But it insinuates that his “failure to follow the science — or deliberately misrepresenting the science — will lead to immense avoidable harm.”

The letter lists five statements supported by “the preponderance of data” and implies that Atlas disagrees with them. The first says that face masks, social distancing, and handwashing reduce the spread of Covid-19. The authors do not cite anywhere where Atlas made claims to the contrary. A recent New York Times article claiming Atlas doubts the efficacy of mask wearing miscites an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson in which Atlas actually said people need not wear masks when they are alone but should wear masks when around others and unable to socially distance.

7. Nate Hochman cites the rise of Latino Republicans. From the article:

What’s most notable is that Trump is now leading Biden by a point or so with the area’s Hispanic voters, who make up 70 percent of Miami-Dade’s total population. Polling in a single county is insufficient evidence for sweeping political conclusions, of course. But Trump’s surprisingly good performance with Hispanic Floridians is mirrored by a number of different polls that suggest a national rightward movement among Latinos. In spite of his hardline rhetoric on immigration, Trump won nearly 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016, and may well be on track to win a larger slice in 2020: As of June, only 59 percent of Hispanic voters said they plan to back Biden over Trump, a step down from the 66 percent that Hillary Clinton won four years ago. And by most metrics, Trump’s approval rating with Hispanics — currently hovering around 40 percent — has been steadily climbing since his inauguration.

These numbers challenge a core assumption shared by both major party establishments: the idea that nonwhite, immigrant voters are predestined to vote Democratic. For Democrats, this assumption manifests in revealingly eager rhetoric about the inevitability of progressivism’s political triumph in a diversifying country. Meanwhile, for Republicans, the fear that “demographics are destiny” — that a less-white America is necessarily a more left-wing one — often drives the increased propensity for immigration restrictionism.

8. Food for thought: Cameron Hilditch serves up some interesting perspective on Abe Lincoln as contentious with the thrust of Madison’s Constitution. From the essay:

Lincoln could not have disagreed more strenuously. In his speech at Peoria in 1854 he declared that he hated Douglas’s Nebraska bill because it enabled “the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites, . . . and especially because it forced so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil-liberty — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principal of action but self-interest.”

This should not be taken as a simple moral objection to the law in question. For Lincoln, public opinion on matters of morality was of the utmost importance to practical politics. He wrote that “our government rests on public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.” He further observed that “public opinion, on any subject, always has a ‘central idea’ from which all its minor thoughts radiate. . . . The ‘central idea’ in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be ‘the equality of men.’” For Lincoln, the preservation of the republic depended upon the presence of certain convictions in the hearts and minds of the people rather than their proclivity to pursue their interests. The debates with Douglas were about nothing less than the question of which idea would be the “‘central idea’ from which all . . . minor thoughts radiate” in the United States of America.

9. The Swiss want out, says Kevin Williamson, of an EU they’re not even in. From the article:

While the United Kingdom flounders through its divorce from the European Union, Switzerland is holding a national referendum that would sever key parts of the Swiss-EU relationship. Independent-minded Switzerland has never become a formal EU member, but it is as a practical matter economically integrated into the union, and, to an extent, socially integrated as well.

That integration is the result of Switzerland’s being a member of the Schengen area, which facilitates the free movement of people across European borders. Swiss people generally do not need a visa to work or reside in an EU country, and — more to the point of the upcoming referendum — most citizens of EU countries do not need a visa to live or work in Switzerland. Switzerland’s ruling Swiss People’s Party (SVP) opposes deepening ties with the European Union and strongly desires to reduce immigration to Switzerland. In 2010, the SVP successfully campaigned for a popular initiative calling for the mandatory expulsion of foreigners convicted of serious crimes. In 2014, the SVP successfully campaigned for a referendum to limit immigration by imposing numerical quotas.

That quota system would have conflicted with Switzerland’s obligations under its existing relationship with the European Union, and so the government imposed an alternative (requiring Swiss employers to favor Swiss applicants in hiring in areas with above-average unemployment) that opponents criticized, not unfairly, as a refusal to implement a duly passed popular initiative — and such initiatives are an important feature of Swiss democracy. The current referendum debate is a continuation of that fight.

10. Madeleine Kearns catches Nancy Pelosi and her hairdo interfering with Brexit. From the beginning of the piece:

Nancy Pelosi is a busy lady. When she isn’t out and about on the streets of San Francisco, ducking into a salon to get her hair done, she is — I can only presume — reading up on the ins and outs of European international law. If you, like countless others, are having difficulty following the notorious complexity of the Brexit-induced Irish border debacle — worry not! Nancy, top Democrat and a master of EU talking points, can be relied upon to illuminate.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.–U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” Pelosi said in a statement last week. Funny that for someone so confident (“absolutely no chance”), her fears (“violates” and “undermines”) are so vague.

Daniel Hannan, a former member of the European Parliament, argues convincingly in the Telegraph that the fearmongering over the Good Friday agreement is merely a continuation of the same cynical politicking that Brussels has been up to since Britain’s former prime minister, Theresa May, lost her parliamentary majority three years ago. “Only in late 2017 did Eurocrats come up with the outré notion that they might somehow keep Northern Ireland within their grip,” Hannan writes. While Boris Johnson acquired a strong majority (in last December’s general election), Hannan notes that he initially “inherited [May’s] minority and her draft Withdrawal Agreement,” and with it “her dilemma.”

11. More Kearns: She checks out the Trans-detractors of J.K. Rowlings’ new novel. From the piece:

It’s strange which lessons you remember from childhood and which you forget. For example, I do remember being told not to judge a book by its cover. I don’t remember being taught not to judge a book by three words used by one reviewer in a newspaper that I don’t normally read. I don’t remember being taught not to seize on three such words to proclaim that whoever provoked them ought to be dead. Whether I have my parents, teachers, or creator to thank — I somehow managed to acquire this pearl of wisdom.

The Daily Telegraph’s Jake Kerridge wrote that J. K. Rowling’s new book, Troubled Blood, written under the male pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is about a “transvestite serial killer.” The novel’s moral, he avers, “seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.” Reading these words, I thought, Hmm, you know, I think I’ll read it and decide what the moral is for myself, thank you very much. Only two days before, I had lost confidence in the Daily Telegraph reviews section when I saw that another writer there enthused that Cuties — a film that blatantly and indefensibly sexualizes preteen girls — had “pissed off all the right people” in an “age so terrified of child sexuality.” (Maybe in the interest of the Telegraph, the young should be taught not to judge a paper by its reviewers.)

In any case, whatever Kerridge’s shortcomings as an interpreter of moral lessons in crime novels, the usual miserable cretins at Pink News — a pathetically sloppy LGBTQ+ propaganda website, which never fails to out-embarrass itself — seized on the three words “transvestite serial killer” and reported that Troubled Blood (a book they had not read) was “about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims.” This immediately prompted the Twitter hashtag #RIPJKRowling, signifying that the author responsible for this “transphobic” work — a work of fiction — ought to be treated as if she were dead, which obviously she ought to be.

12. Biblical ignorance is reaching biblical proportions warns Luther Ray Abel. From the piece:

A student attending college in the humanities should know who Noah was and what made his boat better than most. The student need not believe that Noah existed, or that his animal magnetism was as great as is said, or how long-lived his children were. Yet he ought to at least be aware of the fact that, say, the image of the dove returning to the vessel with the olive branch in its beak repeats as a symbol of peace and salvation throughout the Bible and Western literature.

When schools, and the parents whose voices influence said institutions, balk at the thought of their children being exposed to the Bible — not as a religious text but as an affecting collection of stories — the kids are deprived of the groundwork necessary to approach the Great Books with any level of background understanding. I am not asking for seminarian depth here. I’m simply suggesting that the mention of Ruth should make the reader immediately recognize she is a figure of import in the Bible and that researching her story will help to better understand Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

While Christianity has been on the wane in the West for some time, there seems to me to be a generational difference in religious familiarity. The older generations, while eschewing organized religion, still recognize and trade in biblical metaphor routinely. Those my age and younger, on the other hand, have entirely secular replacements. The Harry Potter series is often the choice for simile for many my age or younger. No longer is an evil man “the devil” or “anti-Christ,” but a “Voldemort.” An agnostic college student 60 years ago would have been more likely to recognize many of the Catholic virtues and allegories in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s fantasy stories, respectively. Today I very much doubt the same could be said.

The October 5, 2020 Issue of NR Is Red Hot about the Blue Left

Volume LXXII, No. 18 is flying out of the printing plant and getting into the hands of that old Postal Service, destined for many a conservative-sanity-hungering mailbox. Of course, all the contents are available right now on NRO. (If you have an NRPLUS subscription then eat up . . . if you don’t, well, watch out for that paywall!) Every piece published (oh yeah — the issue carries our annual education special section) is a delight, but here are four suggestions for you Jolters:

1. Joel Kotkin, in the cover essay, explains how our Blue-run cities have failed the working class and minorities, and cautions — they’re going to get even bluer. From the essay:

The political base of blue America comprises dense, big core cities. In New York, San Francisco, and other major urban centers, Democrats often win upward of 80 percent of the vote. The Democratic convention paraded a bevy of former and current mayors, from Michael Bloomberg (who governed New York as a Republican and an independent) to San Antonio’s Julián Castro to Senator Cory Booker (formerly Newark, N.J., mayor) to Atlanta’s Keisha Lance Bottoms, as exemplars of the kind of leadership the country needs.

Yet embracing the core cities as role models for America’s future is increasingly problematic. Even before the pandemic, big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were losing population, with migration shifting to suburbs and lower-cost metros. The blue strategies — affirmative action, higher taxes, expanded social programs, more regulation — certainly have not slowed poverty’s spread; in the years between 1980 and 2018, the number of high-poverty metropolitan census tracks doubled in population while the wealth gap between these areas and affluent areas grew. Incomes in these poor areas grew in the 1980s and 1990s but have not grown since 2000.

The coronavirus has been particularly brutal for the urban poor. Some of this reflects the impact of density: Counties with 25,000 people per square mile suffered a fatality rate roughly five times that of areas with typical suburban densities. Overall, counties with densities over 10,000 per square mile constitute less than 4 percent of the nation’s population but have suffered nearly 15 percent of the deaths associated with the pandemic. By comparison, in the most typical suburban areas (urban densities of 1,000 to 2,500 per square mile), where 53 percent of the population lives, the COVID fatality rate is approximately one-fifth of that. In largely rural counties (urban densities of under 1,000), it’s one-sixth.

Dense urban areas generally have suffered more in the pandemic because of what the demographer Cox labels “exposure density” brought on by insufficiently ventilated places such as crowded housing, transit, elevators, and office environments. The most vulnerable to infection and fatalities have been those living in minority urban communities with higher rates of poverty and household crowding, such as in New York’s outer boroughs, East and South Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago’s huge South Side and West Side ghettos. In comparison, dense but affluent areas — upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and Chicago’s Gold Coast — have suffered fewer fatalities and less economic dislocation.

2. The great historian Allen Guelzo investigations the myths about Robert E. Lee, a man usually, but not always, in control of himself. From the essay:

The pursuit of redemptive perfection lies behind much of the fierce uprightness that met so many people’s eyes, and it was Lee’s determination to be Not-Light-Horse-Harry that fired his impatience and eventually his ferocious outbursts of temper at his own and others’ imperfections. That did not mean that Robert would enjoy the shackles of perfection, and it came as a shock to Ann Carter Lee when in 1824 Robert announced his desire to attend West Point. “How can I live without Robert?” she wailed, “He is both son and daughter to me.” She would have been more disturbed still if she could have sensed how much Robert, for all his uncomplaining self-sacrifice, longed to be unencumbered of his mother as much as of his father. “I thought,” he wrote, “& intended always to be one & alone in the World.” “I am fond of independence,” Lee wrote, and that, as he explained in 1851, was linked to his perfectionist impulse. “It is that feeling that prompts me to come up strictly to the requirements of law and regulations. I wish neither to seek or receive indulgence from anyone. I wish to feel under obligation to no one.”

The problem with the longing for independence is that it does not guarantee security, and security was precisely the most damaging subtraction that Light-Horse Harry made in Robert’s life. So, as much as Robert Lee longed to be his own man, he was also aware that the independent man could very well be the impoverished, neglected man, and security was one of the major attractions of a career in the U.S. Army. For the tiny cadre of officers who commanded the pre–Civil War army, there was no mandatory retirement age, and once in, many stayed in, at paid rank, until their last breath. To be sure, the Army was not generous, but it was one of the few professions in the republic that guaranteed a roof over one’s head.

3. Stanley Kurtz blasts the call for 1619 curriculum. From the article:

The 1619 Project uncorked an agitated bottle of champagne. The imprimatur of the New York Times granted permission for a wholesale repudiation of our past to a generation long taught to devalue America and the Founding. After a quarter century of Howard Zinn’s distortions of American history, leftist textbooks, and the College Board’s revisionist AP U.S.-history curriculum, the civic collapse conservatives have warned of since Buckley’s God and Man at Yale is finally upon us. The 1619 Project laughably implies that slavery and racism are given short shrift in today’s American-history classes. To the contrary, slavery and racism have been major themes of history textbooks for decades. The 1619 Project takes that focus to another level — singling out slavery, and its aftermath, as the essence of American history and dismissing the remainder of the story as dross. There is more at work here than decades of Zinn and his leftist progeny, however. The collapse of traditional forms of family, community, and religion has helped to bring on the woke revolution. A generation for which family breakup is rife, family formation delayed, loneliness endemic, and secularism on the rise is ill-disposed to feel gratitude or loyalty to a shared community, nation, or civilization. There is little left to believe in beyond our moral bottom lines.

4. David Mamet gives a history lesson, which is what you might expect from a piece titled Hamlet and Oedipus Meet the Zombies. From the beginning of the article:

Revolutions begin with mutual discovery of the ideologues and the Jacobins: the first happy to have come upon compatible souls, the second to have found dupes.

On accession to power, the ideologues become apparatchiks, thrilled with their ability to control events. This brief phase culminates with their murder by their former partners.

The ideologues, in their brief illusion of authority, are happy to invent new names for themselves (Citizen, Comrade), and for every other thing under the sun (his-her-ze-they-them); they are let free to run through the big-box store of culture, effacing and changing the labels, that is, controlling speech.

The penalty for opposition, as we see, rises almost on the instant. First as the expression of opinion is characterized as dissent, then calumniated, and dissent (now called “aggression”) is re-identified as lack of active assent.

Those seeking to avoid, first, discord, then censure and the loss of income, find, quickly, they have nowhere to hide and must choose active endorsement of ideas repulsive to them, or blacklisting.

After the inevitable Night of the Long Knives, the threat of blacklisting is up – graded to that of imprisonment or death.

Capital Matters

1. Christopher Barnard finds the private sector is shaping the future of nuclear energy. From the piece:

Last week, the future of nuclear energy got an immense boost. U.S. officials greenlit America’s first-ever commercial small modular reactor, to be constructed in eastern Idaho by a company called NuScale Power. The first will be built by 2029, with eleven more to follow by 2030.

Nuclear energy already provides 20 percent of American energy production, representing 60 percent of all clean energy in this country. Yet nuclear energy has stalled for several decades now, having fallen by 9 percent in terms of global energy generation since 2006. Of the 60 plants in operation in the United States, nine have already announced that they are closing, 16 are “at risk” of closure, and five are already gone. Together, this represents 15 percent of all carbon-free energy production in America.

Yet NuScale Power’s recently approved design marks a landmark achievement for the future of nuclear energy: the move towards smaller, more high-tech nuclear reactors — a type dominated by private-sector competition. These small modular reactors (SMRs) represent a real chance for energy innovation in the United States, and an opportunity to lead the world. As we increasingly seek to move away from fossil fuels and toward carbon-free forms of energy, SMRs will play a crucial role. We simply cannot rely on renewables such as solar and wind energy alone yet, meaning that competitive, new-generation reactors can fill that gap and reverse the trend of nuclear decline.

2. The benefits of hydraulic fracturing, writes Jon Miltimore, are something that even Kamala Harris cannot deny. From the article:

In a recent interview with CNN correspondent Dana Bash, the Democratic nominee for vice president said she supports Joe Biden’s official position on fracking, which would freeze out new fracking permits but not ban the practice altogether.

“Joe is saying, one, those are good-paying jobs in places like Pennsylvania,” Harris said, before adding that Biden also supports renewable-energy alternatives.

It’s no accident that Harris mentioned Pennsylvania, and not just because the state has 20 electoral votes and is currently considered a tossup by RealClearPolitics.

Natural gas produced by fracking has been instrumental in the revitalization of the Keystone State’s economy. It has become to Pennsylvania what cheese is to Wisconsin, corn to Iowa, and oranges to Florida.

Natural-gas production in Pennsylvania surged by nearly 50 percent between 2014 and 2018, government statistics show. The 6.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas produced annually in Pennsylvania ranks second in the U.S., trailing only Texas, a state that could soon be displaced by Pennsylvania as the country’s largest energy producer. The Energy Information Administration says Pennsylvania’s production of dry natural gas, a clean-burning hydrocarbon, is growing faster (and in greater volume) than that of any state at any time in American history since the agency began recording figures in 1951.

3. Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann warn that the learning losses of COVID-closed schools will mean permanent economic setbacks for the education-deprived student. From the piece:

We found that the economic future of the current cohort of K–12 students has been compromised by the school closures that occurred in spring 2020. If schools miraculously returned immediately to their 2019 performance, these students can on average expect some 3 percent lower income over their entire lifetimes. More distressingly, nobody believes that the reopening policies currently in motion will actually get students back soon to the learning pace of the past.

While the precise learning losses are not yet known, estimates suggest that the students in grades one through twelve affected by the closures might have already lost the equivalent of one-third of a year of schooling. Unless schools actually get better than they were in 2019, existing research indicates this will lead to permanently lower future earnings.

These learning losses will have lasting economic impacts both on the affected students and the nation unless they are effectively remediated. Estimates in our recently released paper indicate that the lower long-term growth for the United States that is related to such learning losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century. Our best estimates are that the already accrued learning losses will amount to $14.2 trillion in current dollars (present value over the remainder of the century). These economic losses would grow if schools are unable to restart quickly.

4. James Broughel makes the case for regulation reform as a driver of economic growth. From the article:

Are regulations bad for the economy, such that removing them will boost economic growth? You might be surprised to learn that until not that long ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of solid empirical evidence on the question either way. Sure, economic theory offered sound reasons to believe that regulations stunt growth by displacing business investments and misallocating resources and talent away from their most productive uses. But few statistical studies had the data to back up that belief, because historically it’s been hard to measure regulation’s economic impact. And in economics, what gets measured tends to be what gets studied.

Thankfully, this state of affairs has begun to change in recent years. Since around the turn of the century, the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have put together indices of regulation that measure its extent across countries. By now, we have several decades of data accumulated, and they are informative.

Recently, Robert Hahn and I reviewed studies published in the peer-reviewed academic literature that rely on these indices to explore the extent to which regulations affect economic growth or productivity (which is a proxy for growth). Virtually every study in our sample pointed in the same direction: Regulation that restricts entry into an industry or imposes anti-competitive restrictions on product or labor markets has a negative impact on growth. This held true across a variety of countries, industries, and time periods, and across studies employing a variety of methodologies and statistical techniques.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. He’s Armond White, hear him roar — and not with praise for the Helen Reddy biopic, I Am Woman. From the review:

Fact is, “I Am Woman” exemplifies one of most blatantly craven acts in pop-music history. Actress Cobham-Hervey, who resembles a tall, wily Mia Farrow, accurately conveys Reddy’s defensive, tomboyish stance (while Chelsea Cullen expertly dubs the singing), but it’s husband Jeff who explains the song to record execs: “What my wife is saying is she’s tapped into something.” This cynicism, followed by footage of women’s-lib street protests, is confirmed when Reddy wins the Best Pop Vocal Grammy (beating out Roberta Flack and Barbra Streisand) and gives an acceptance speech that taunted the FCC: “I’d like to thank God because She makes everything possible.”

The women’s-rights movement has a different, harsher tone today. I Am Woman exploits that change without coming to terms with it. Australian director Unjoo Moon (wife of cinematographer Dion Beebe) and screenwriter Emma Jensen justify Reddy’s careerist opportunism — her restless housewife’s intimidation and sense of entitlement. Scenes of showbiz ruthlessness are left to the man who is brutish enough to unscrew that bottle of ketchup. Pure-heart Helen recalls the ambitious fashion model Hannah Schygulla played in Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972), whom scholar Peter Matthews described as a woman “who unapologetically exploits her natural capital to grasp the main chance.”

2. More Armond: Nope, he doesn’t like director Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock. From the review:

McQueen’s phony nostalgia for the pre-hip-hop era when blacks were more culturally unified (“Put a smile on everybody’s face, no frowns!” urges the rotund DJ), inspires this film’s segregated visual scheme. The colorfully dressed partiers waft through a ganja haze, warm hues keyed to a blue-vinyl record placed on the turntable — a Gauguin touch. But these roving tableaux, also borrowed from Harlem photographer Roy DeCarava and Ernie Banks’s cover art for Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album, cannot be entirely trusted. The exoticism satisfies those self-aggrandizing political poseurs who pretend identification with black culture but have hijacked and perverted it in the political world.

On screen, Claire Denis employed black Parisian exoticism without condescension in 35 Shots of Rum, but the exoticism of Lovers Rock is sinister (prelude to an upcoming series of political tracts under the title “Small Axe”). McQueen is the celebrated turncoat revolutionaries used to condemn as a “native informant.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At The American Conservative, excerpting from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s memoirs (Volume 2 of Between Two Millstones), the great writer recounts how the oath of citizenship is a real thing that demands the consent of the conscience. From the piece:

We went home and now I did read the form and, at the same time, the text of the oath — it turned out to have been sent us as well.

“. . . I absolutely and entirely renounce . . . allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate — (they’ve kept that since the eighteenth century) — state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen . . .”

But to which state was I renouncing fidelity? The Soviet state? My Soviet citizenship had been taken away eleven years ago. And there’s no Russian state on the planet.

But all the same, it jarred. I didn’t feel right.

“. . . I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. . . .”

Well now, I’ve been trying to warn you about your domestic enemies, about the loony-left press and crooked politicians for years, but you never picked up on it.

“. . . that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States . . .”

There it was. I’d have to fight against my own country. And yet you’re not even capable of waging war on the Communists as such, you’ve already declared it a war on the “Russians.”

“. . . and I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion . . .”

Ah, there’s the rub. Of course I did have a reservation: I wouldn’t go fight Russians.

But so what? Hadn’t we told plenty of lies at Soviet meetings? Hadn’t I once taken an oath of allegiance when I was in the Red Army, without identifying myself with Stalin’s top brass? And wasn’t it water off a duck’s back?

True enough, but it still jarred. An oath is laughter to the foolish and terror to the wise.

2. At The American Mind, Newt Gingrich — shut down on a Fox News program when he condemns George Soros’s role in electing pro-criminal DAs — pushes back. From the article:

Soros and his organizations spent $1.7 million to help get Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner elected in 2018. Before being elected, Krasner earned a name for himself by suing the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times. Since he took office, dozens of experienced prosecutors have either been fired or resigned. Criminal prosecutions have plummeted and crime has risen. Philadelphia now has the second-highest murder rate among large cities in the country.

Former Hugo Chavez advisor and current San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was also funded by Soros and his groups. Boudin has called prison “an act of violence” and has refused to prosecute a slew of illegal acts, from public urination to the public solicitation of sex, which he deems to be “quality of life crimes.” By the way, Boudin is the foster child of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, of terrorist group Weather Underground fame. His birth parents were convicted and imprisoned for their involvement in an armed robbery-turned-homicide.

One of Soros’s favored PACs spent $402,000 to support a failed San Diego County District Attorney bid by Geneviéve Jones-Wright.

In 2016, a Soros-funded super PAC donated $107,000 to benefit Raul Torrez in his Bernalillo County District Attorney primary — which he won by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, Soros’s huge funding prompted the Republican running to bow out because it was just too expensive to run against Torrez.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh writes that Gulf State Arabs, even before the Trump administration helped forge new peace accords, had come to believe that Israel was not their enemy — but that Iran and Turkey may indeed be. From the piece:

Until recently, it was unimaginable to see Arabs openly admitting that they had been mistaken in their belief that Israel was the enemy of the Muslims and Arabs. Now, Arabs seem to have no problem saying that they were wrong all these years about their attitude toward Israel. These Arabs now are saying out loud that Iran and its proxies in the Arab world, and not Israel, are the real enemies of Arabs and Muslims.

Until recently, most Arab writers, journalists and political activists avoided any form of criticism of the Palestinians. Such criticism was considered taboo in the Arab world: the Palestinians were considered the poor spoiled babies who were suffering as a result of the conflict with Israel. Now, however, one can find in Arab media outlets more criticism of the Palestinians and their leadership than in Western media, or even in Israeli media.

Until recently, for most Arabs, the terms peace and normalization (with Israel) were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat and shame. No longer. Many Arabs are openly talking about their desire for peace with Israel. These Arabs are saying that they are looking forward to reaping the fruits of peace with Israel and that it is time that Arab countries prioritize their own interests.

4. At The College Fix, Stephen Baskerville uncovers the new and contrived ways colleges have developed to suppress politically incorrect professors. From the article:

Two methods, both exploiting innovations in business law, protect institutions from negative publicity, professional censure and even legitimate oversight. They enable and conceal conduct widely regarded as unethical, aiming to trap scholars in legal liability and even criminal punishments.

Even private and conservative colleges, not only “liberal” state universities, are purging their faculty.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship seminary used budget cuts related to COVID-19 to get rid of a few conservative faculty this spring. Last month’s dismissal of Jim Spiegel from evangelical Taylor University — for nothing that can remotely be considered improper — shows how skittish Christians institutions have become and how little backbone they show in the face of pressure.

Such visible cases are certainly only the tip of the iceberg, because new methods of concealment prevent us from knowing. Some Christian colleges seek to quietly eliminate divergent views by using a deception known as “Christian Conciliation,” promoted by the Institute for Christian Conciliation.

More than academic freedom is at stake. This facilitates the takeover of cultural institutions, using the public justice system as leverage. Scholars must understand what is taking place, both to defend their profession and alert the public to an unexpected new tyranny.

5. At Commentary, Christine Rosen says if you think the Re-Education Police aren’t coming for you, you’ve got another thought coming. From the piece:

But until relatively recently, most ordinary Americans could largely avoid participating in these culture-war skirmishes. People could get through high-school or college without being exposed to the more extreme forms of identity politics masquerading as scholarship, particularly if they steered clear of more politicized fields in the humanities or specialized fields such as feminist theory or African-American studies. Efforts to impose strict speech codes on college campuses generally met healthy resistance from free-speech advocates, although some campuses succeeded in narrowing the terms of debate. In the workplace, diversity-training seminars lined the pockets of “diversity consultants” and robbed employees of valuable time, but rarely demanded more than attendance and, for the most part, didn’t threaten people’s jobs.

That time is over. We have moved beyond miseducation into an era of reeducation. Schoolchildren across the country are taught not that diversity is the country’s great strength, but, through historically questionable curricula such as the New York Times’ 1619 Project, that their nation is irredeemably racist. Calls for diversity on campus have given way to claims that airing speech with which you disagree is tantamount to inflicting physical harm; speakers are de-platformed and faculty removed for failing to adhere to the new standards of correct thinking about race and sex. In the workplace, mandatory diversity training now requires not merely attendance, but expressions of agreement and obeisance to a set of ideologically radical ideas — that all white people are inherently racist and that the goal of the workplace should be racial “equity” rather than racial equality. These ideas undermine rather than reinforce the principles of freedom and equal opportunity.

6. At The Imaginative Conservative, Lipton Mathews argues the 1619 Project sends the wrong message to African-Americans. From the piece:

There is an assumption that white Americans benefited from intergenerational wealth created in slavery; so, they are in a better position to amass wealth than African Americans. On the surface, this explanation appears insightful, but it is not corroborated by evidence. Economic analysis indicates that affluent households invest aggressively in risky assets generating higher rates of return. Compared to whites, black Americans display a lower appetite for risks; this aversion to risk, research finds, elucidates why African Americans possess less wealth. Similarly, one study suggests that there is little evidence to indicate that black households yielded lower returns when they invest in the same assets as white households. Nevertheless, the report imputes that investments held by blacks were more predominant in low-yielding assets.

Likewise, researchers also do not find “sizeable racial differences in the inheritances of business.” Irrespective of race, few people receive sufficiently large inheritances to drive the racial wealth gap. Race is rarely a universal cause of income disparities. For example, more African Americans are acquiring degrees, but the income gap persists; many usually attribute this to racism. Deeper scrutiny, however, reveals this argument to be a fallacy. According to the Center on Education and Workforce at Georgetown University, African-American college students are more likely to target majors that lead to low-pay jobs, thus trapping them in a vicious cycle of indebtedness and underemployment. Racism and slavery are merely easy answers to complicated questions.

In short, the 1619 Project is an instrument of propaganda whose insidious subtexts aim to promulgate the narrative that not only is America uniquely racist, but the nation