National Review

A-Canceling We Will Go


Dear Weekend Joltarians,

Talk about multi-tasking: We’re fighting the Cancel Cultural Totalitarians (the ideological forensics reveals the fingerprints of Marx, Stalin, and Mao are everywhere!) while at the same time there is a full-court legal effort to cancel National Review by that infamous Nobel Peace Prize Not-Winner, Michael Mann.

And about that, there is good news: Today we learned that a D.C. Superior Court judge granted National Review “summary judgment” in this case (similar motions for other defendants — Mark Steyn, CEI, Rand Simberg — are still pending). Truth be told, that’s better than good, it is terrific news. Especially for the First Amendment.

But this Mann Affair — a thing the climate scientist cast as a desire to crush National Review — is decidedly not over. Not by a long shot. Miles to go, as the poet wrote. Our bloodied adversary will surely appeal this ruling (one can only wonder what Sugar Daddy is bankrolling his massive legal costs) and force us to respond in kind. And spend in kind.

Yes, we celebrate today’s victory, hard-fought, but with a downside that carries on: Added to the choke-a-horse existing legal bills coming in (yep, insurance pays for a lot, including Mark Steyn’s legal fees, but then NR must pay for an astonishing amount out of pocket), we anticipate much more to come. Our pleas to you for help, in this very matter, remain, sad to say.

The lawsuit aside, the costs of engaging in conservative opinion journalism — that is the bone-marrow essence of National Review’s 65 years of athwart-standing — is costly, relentless, and dependent. Yes, dependent — on those who see NR as a cause, a necessary one, a mutual one, a thing critical for defending the principles we (that “we” includes you) share and cherish, so much so that we are determined to pass them on to the next generation.

Our reality: The red ink is so plentiful and persistent that we must stand on our tippy toes, chin up (it may be the only reason Your Humble Correspondent appreciates his ample honker).

Also our reality: You are there to help.

Our ongoing webathon — which commenced on March 8th (it will run till the 29th) — has seen contributions in all shapes and sizes from (momma mia!) over 2,000 readers as we seek to raise $350,000 to fight these rat-****** blankety blanks who utterly despise freedom and tradition and these United States, and who cloak themselves in moral superiority for one purpose — to control you, conventional plebian, to exert power of you, unwoke neanderthal, to make you genuflect, horrid hoi polloinick.

Look at that stamp — unthinkable it was that the American press would one day become foes of free speech and bald-faced liars about their chosen field’s commitment to truth, to who, what, when, where, why, how. Well, Mr. Pulitzer, that one day is upon us. At this time of upheaval and cowardice permeating so many institutions (the academy, tech, media, major corporations) it becomes increasingly clear to thousands, daily, that National Review is the one place that is reliable — for truth, for sanity, for sound conservative judgment.

We have counted on you before. We do again. Please help us during this fund-appeal drive. Your donation comes with our deep appreciation, and the thrill of finding you alongside us, in this band of brothers and sisters that Bill Buckley established long ago.

And we offer a special thanks to those whose past generosity has kept us in this important legal fight, whose ruling today we cheer as we prepare for its next battle, on behalf of our First Amendment.

Now let us get on with the Jolt. But first . . .

Point of Personal Privilege One: The new Capital Record podcast is worth your attention and listening. David Bahnsen’s interview this week with longtime NR pal Fr. Robert Sirico, founder of the quite essential Acton Institute, is wonderful, and recommended. Catch it here.

Point of Personal Privilege Two: Speaking of longtime NR pals, it would be hard to find one more longtime-ier, and pals-ier, than Neal B. Freeman (he may have written his first article for NR sometime around 1963, was Firing Line’s first producer, ran Bill Buckley’s 1965 mayoral campaign . . .). Neal has written a new book, appropriately in time for Easter, titled Walk with Me: An Invitation to Faith, now available at Amazon. We most heartily encourage you to obtain a copy.

One of its more interesting chapters was published recently in the magazine — In the Kitchen with Hitchens. Read it to get a sense of what Neal is up to in a book that is best described as a spiritual memoir. This very inviting offer of companionship on a quest for the Divine proved, for Neal, a thing of fits and starts and dry spells — and of determination. Here’s is how he summed up his journey, and purpose:

When you’re walking toward God, there are no easy steps. Happily, the last step is short, clearly demarked and, by that point in your journey, attained with little effort. We all know how warm and welcoming it feels to plant a road-worn shoe on a familiar front porch.

And from hard-won, lab-tested experience we know that the steps along the way are many and tentative, some of them misdirected, some of them doubling back on each other. We know the general direction in which we should be headed, but the exact route is beyond our ken and known only to Him. But even the most debauched among us can put one foot in front of the other.

There is one step that is different from all the others. By taking it, we announce our willingness to leave behind our old selves. We agree to open the door to the certain perils and uncertain rewards of a new life. By taking that first step, we commit ourselves to completing our journey of faith, or to die trying.

The purpose of this book is to invite you to take that first step. Please, walk with me.

You’ll regret not doing so. Get Walk with Me here.



Mann handled: Michael Mann Lawsuit against National Review: Court Ruling a Limited Victory for Free Speech

These jackasses play to win: House Democrats Try to Steal an Election

Pigment of your imagination: California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Is a Radical Educational Proposal

Whose donkey is gored: Biden’s Filibuster Flop — Democrats Are Proving POTUS Is No Moderate

Wooing with trillions: Democrats’ COVID “Stimulus & Relief” Bill Is Neither: It’s Big Government on Steroids

Where’s the beef: Army Combat Fitness Test — Gender Neutral Standards May Be Reversed | National Review


Rich Lowry: Senate Filibuster: Democrats Would Regret Ending It

Jack Butler: Joe Biden Should Leave the Fourth of July Alone

Mario Loyola: America’s Emerging One-Party State

Dan McLaughlin: Harvard Law Professor Wants Democrats to Disenfranchise Republican Voters

Samantha Harris: Critical Race Theory in Education: How to Fight It

Keith E. Whittington: Campus Free Speech Under Threat; Here’s How to Fight Back

Cameron Hilditch: California Ethnic-Studies Curriculum: Left-Wing Learning Could Dominate Schools Nationwide

Itxu Díaz: Social Media Incentivizes and Distributes Stupidity

Roger Maxwell: U.S. Navy Reading List: Woke Books Have No Place in Training

Daniel Klein: Cancel Culture Threatens Adam Smith, Ardent Foe of Slavery

Dan McLaughlin: Free Speech vs. Cancel Culture: Populists Argue on Classical-Liberal Grounds

Tom Cotton: How U.S. Can Beat China

Seth Cropsy and Harry Halem: Foreign Policy and the ‘Quad’: U.S.–Asian Teamwork Against China Is Vital

Jimmy Quinn: Pompeo Warns China Could Detain Outspoken Olympians

Charlie Cooke: No, Bill Maher, We Shouldn’t Envy China in Any Way

Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes: How Red China Crushed Hong Kong’s Democracy

Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz: Iran Nuclear Deal: President Biden Should Not Return to JCPOA

Kaj Relwof: Janus Court Case Used against Big Labor and Democratic Campaign-Cash Pipeline

Sarah Schutte: Hilda Van Stockum: Beloved Children’s Author Grasped Beauty of the Ordinary


Kevin Hassett and Matthew Jensen whip out the calculator: How Much COVID-19 Stimulus Spending Will Cost You

Jimmy Quinn sees red use the green: Hong Kong Crackdown: How Red China’s Capital Paved Way for Authoritarian Takeover

Brian Yablonski covers the privates: Biden Administration Environmental Agenda Should Use Markets, Not Mandates

Steve Hanke and Robert J. Simon think the porkbellies need to make room: Cryptocurrency Boards Beat Bitcoin for Sound Money


Armond White is kinda liking it: Zack Snyder’s Justice League Is a Restored Grand Vision

Kyle Smith sees a dust-collector: The Oscar No Longer Matters

More Armond, who seconds the motion: Academy Award Nominations: Preachy Winners, Dull Movies, and What Happened to Hamilton?



1. The D.C. Superior Court finally hands NR an important ruling against Michael Mann. But this travesty is far from over. From the editorial:

The First Amendment exists to ensure that imperious and thin-skinned figures such as Mann are unable merely to declare what is true and what is false and silence anyone who dares to disagree. And yet, until now, our repeated appeals to its authority were left hanging.

As Justice Alito observed in his dissent from the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari, “a journalist who prevails after trial in a defamation case will still have been required to shoulder all the burdens of difficult litigation and may be faced with hefty attorney’s fees,” which, after a while, would “deter the uninhibited expression of views that would contribute to healthy public debate.”

Having spent so much in our defense, we know exactly what Alito means.

If today is good news, it would have been much better if Mann’s suit had been dismissed in its entirety. Instead, Mann’s meritless and vindictive pursuit of Mark Steyn and the Competitive Enterprise Institute continues (Steyn quoted a CEI critique of Mann in his post). Friends of the First Amendment, whether right, left, or center, should rally to the defense of Steyn and CEI.

As for NR, this saga is far from over for us. Mann may well appeal today’s ruling. Also, Mark Steyn’s legal fees have always been covered by our legal insurance, and still are. Finally, we have the presumptive right for Mann to pay our legal fees for some of the case, an option that, as it happens, would require even more expenditures in the short term.

2. Nancy Pelosi and Co. are angling to swipe the Iowa Second from Republican winner Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Worth condemning, ya think?! From the editorial:

Hart could then have gone to court in Iowa, but rather than use the proper legal channels, she decided to wait two months and go instead to the Democratic majority in the House to overrule the recount. She has been represented in this effort by Marc Elias, the Democratic Party’s chief election lawyer, who is essentially asking his own clients to rule in his current client’s favor. The Des Moines Register called in December for Hart to drop her challenge and concede once she refused to subject her challenges to the scrutiny of the Iowa courts.

This should all have ended four months ago, when Hart declined to present her case in court. Instead, taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Hart and Elias want Congress to substitute its own political judgment for the rule of law. The House has the power to judge the election of its members, but Miller-Meeks’s lawyers argued that the House has traditionally required challengers contesting the seating of members to first go through their state’s legal process. Hart didn’t.

Moreover, as Miller-Meeks notes, Hart’s complaint about the recount using differing standards for recounting ballots in different counties is largely the result of Hart’s own Al Gore-esque decision to consent to machine recounts in Republican-run parts of the state while insisting on hand recounts in Democrat-run areas.

Two months after Miller-Meeks was sworn in, Democrats on the House Administration Committee cast a 6-3 party-line vote to overrule her objections to the inquiry. Asked if she could foresee the Democrats handing the seat to Hart, Nancy Pelosi kept her options open: “I respect the work of the committee. . . . We’ll see where that takes us. There could be a scenario to that extent.”

3. This California “ethnic studies” curriculum plan is a horror show and needs to be kyboshed. From the editorial:

The first draft of the curriculum was so far outside the boundaries of the Overton window in California that it was rejected out of hand by the Board of Education, the governor, and even by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, who ridiculed it as an “impenetrable mélange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements.” One of its lesson plans included a list of 154 influential people of color but omitted to mention Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, or even the late congressman John Lewis. Pol Pot, however, the architect of the Cambodian genocide, did make an appearance, alongside other violent revolutionaries.

Antisemitism has also plagued the development of the model curriculum from the start. An early draft listed the anti-Semitic BDS campaign alongside Black Lives Matter and #MeToo as an example of an historic American social movement and also referred to the 1948 Israeli War of Independence only as the “Nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe.” Even in the final version of the curriculum, Jews have been relegated to an appendix. Their outsized contribution to American life does not warrant a place in the core content of the course in the eyes of the curriculum’s authors.

4. The only thing the COVID bill is going to stimulate is an addiction for big government. From the editorial:

What is really happening is that progressives are building a — federally funded, over-budget — castle in the air. If Biden wants to spend even larger sums on infrastructure in future legislation, he will not have the helpful context of his first weeks in office and a continuing pandemic. And even in this bill, they were unable to secure an increase in the minimum wage, losing the votes of eight Senate Democrats and all the Republicans. (They can’t blame the filibuster for that.) Its biggest-ticket items, money for state and local governments and checks to households, will do little to expand the federal government on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, polls continue to suggest that most Americans do not believe the federal government should grow larger and do not trust its competence. These are generalities, of course, and have in the past been compatible with public support for specific government interventions. But there is not much evidence the public is part of any grand “realignment.”

It may well turn out that voters will feel well-disposed toward the ruling Democrats over the next two years as we emerge from COVID-19. The Democrats are making a dubious bet, though, if they believe voters will be more inclined to credit them for any happy conditions because of this legislation. CNN found 61 percent support for it, yes. But CNN found 54 percent support for President Obama’s stimulus in February 2009. The Democrats still lost the House in the next election.

5. President Joe forgets where Senator Joe stood (correctly) on the filibuster. From the editorial:

Alas, Biden is not alone in his overnight conversion. Unlike Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues, who resisted intense anti-filibuster pressure from President Trump, the Democratic Party has folded, almost to a man, within seven weeks. In 2017, 31 of the 48 senators who caucus with the Democrats — including figures such as Kamala Harris, Ed Markey, Mazie Hirono, and Cory Booker — signed a bipartisan letter affirming their opposition to “any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of Senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate.” Introducing the letter, which ultimately received more than 60 signatures, its co-author Senator Collins cast it as a defense of “an important tradition of the Senate that recognizes the rights of the minority.” Perhaps she should have appended a few extra words: “even if that minority is Republican.”

Principle aside, the timing of Biden’s change is strategically dubious. The Senate is currently split 50-50 been the parties, with the vice president breaking any ties. The House is as closely divided as it has been in decades. Already, Democrats are having trouble getting to 50 votes — a problem that is only likely to grow as the honeymoon phase wanes. It would take just a single death or retirement within the Democratic caucus to render the move against the filibuster either perilous or moot.

And it is the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, that has most recently benefited from the safeguards accorded to the minority. In 2017, despite having an outright Senate majority and a long list of priorities, Mitch McConnell instinctively understood that the pendulum can swing fast and that the best legislative rules take stock of that fact. Is Chuck Schumer unable to resist as did McConnell?

6. We argue that the Army should not backtrack on it’s gender-neutral fitness test. From the editorial:

Recent reporting by Task & Purpose, a military-news outfit, reveals that Army brass is weighing whether to backtrack on the new gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) to instead include different evaluation metrics for men and women after early results indicated that as many as 65 percent of female soldiers were failing the test versus only 10 percent of men.

The new test, a replacement for the decades-old Army Physical Fitness Test and widely trumpeted as both gender-neutral and a better match for the physical demands of modern combat, comprises six events: a deadlift, a standing power throw (throwing a 10-pound medicine ball backwards over your head), push-ups, a drag-and-carry shuttle run, leg tucks (hanging from a pull-up bar and raising your legs to your chest), and a two-mile run. The test may not be perfect, but its stated purpose was to create a new meritocratic test for the new gender-neutral Army.

Those pushing for a fully gender-integrated military have long deployed conveniently shifting arguments to suit their purposes: “The standard will be the same for both men and women,” they told us when pushing for women in the combat arms. Indeed, as secretary of defense Ash Carter promised in 2015, “as long as they qualify and meet the standards,” women could serve in Army and Marine Corps infantry units, in the special forces, and in any other uniformed capacity.

An Uber-Smattering of Articles Wise and Essays Intelligent, Fitted Out with Generous Excerpts

1. Rich Lowry predicts Chuck Schumer and the filibuster-busters will regret any such decision. From the piece:

If the rules around the filibuster have changed over time, the basic practice dates from the beginning of the Senate. The tactic got its name in the mid-19th century and has remained part of the identity of the Senate ever since.

There is now an effort to brand the filibuster as inherently an instrument of hatred and repression. The filibusters of civil-rights legislation in the mid-20th century are justly notorious, but the tactic has often been used to progressive ends, most recently thwarting as much of Trump’s legislative agenda as possible.

Back in 2017, more than 30 Senate Democrats, including Kamala Harris, signed a letter urging that the tactic be preserved. Of course, Biden himself has long favored it. As late as last year, he was saying that ending the filibuster would be “a very dangerous move.”

Democrats have changed their tune now, obviously, because they control the Senate. But the timing still isn’t propitious for them. It’s not as though the Democrats have a robust majority. They have the slightest advantage, thanks to Harris, in a 50-50 Senate. An unexpected retirement or illness could put their control in jeopardy, and it’s hardly a guarantee they will hold the majority after 2022.

2. Jack Butler has the back of Independence Day, of late toyed with by our Distant-Pissant-Barbecue-Celebrating POTUS. From the piece:

The most egregious part of all this is the seeming attempt by the president to use the somewhat-suspect aegis of “public health” to encroach upon the fundamentally American spirit of liberty, to mix up positive liberty (goods granted by the state) and negative liberty (freedom inherent in all of us) in such a way as to render them difficult to distinguish.

It actually reminds me a bit of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Over the course of the pandemic, the U.K.’s government-run health-care system has taken on an even more religious character for many citizens there than it had before (and that’s saying something; recall its prominent and worshipful place in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies). It just so happens that the NHS was founded on July 5, a date that this year Britons were urged to celebrate as a kind of holiday.

Biden’s attempted co-opting of our national holiday celebrating freedom from government bears an eerie resemblance to this culture of state worship across the pond. But the peril of identifying freedom as something the government gives you is forgetting that it can just as easily take things away.

3. The political goal of lefties and progressives, says Mario Loyola, is to make America into a one-party state. And guess what — it ain’t your party. From the essay:

The great innovator in this new form of democratic centralism was of course Barack Obama. His transgender-bathroom and sexual-harassment orders under Title IX used federal education programs to impose progressive social priorities on state and local schools and universities by lawlessly threatening to cut off unspecified education funding if they didn’t comply. Using informal agency “guidance” to skirt the Administrative Procedure Act’s parameters for agency action, the Title IX orders were merely a trial balloon.

The tactic of using informal guidance to impose major national policies on Americans through the instrumentalities of state and local government — who have to comply or else risk penalties that would end the career of almost any politician — is the new frontier in the progressives’ democratic centralism. It is why President Biden’s quiet rescinding of Trump-era executive orders meant to limit the use of guidance documents was perhaps the most impactful of all the new president’s actions so far — and we have only seen the beginning of what progressive presidents will do with this newfound power.

The progressives’ relentless drive to loosen election-integrity laws, pack the courts, eliminate the Electoral College, and do away with the filibuster, among other priorities, all have a common theme. Each of them are perfectly representative of “democratic centralism,” in the same sense that China’s Communists use the term.

And notice something else: The progressives’ expansion and centralization of government power never takes a step back, even when they lose an election. Why is that? For the same reason that the Framers put so many limits on government power in the first place: because men are not angels and cannot be expected to limit the powers of their own offices. Irrespective of his party, anyone who has these powers will use them and will by their use entrench them.

4. Dan McLaughlin is all over the Harvard prof who wants deny the voting franchise to those in the Party of Lincoln. Take this seriously, he says. From the beginning of the piece:

Remember that brief moment between November and January when Democrats and their voices in the media told us that asking legislators to overturn elections and attacking the legitimacy of the results of elections was a bad thing? Well, Democrats’ old tricks of rejecting outcomes, attacking legitimacy, arguing that it is rigged when their side loses, and spinning conspiracy theories are never far from hand. The latest example comes from Democrat Rita Hart’s ongoing effort to get House Democrats to reverse the election of Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by the people of Iowa’s second district to represent them in the House.

It is concerning enough that Democratic politicians act in self-serving fashion — that’s what politicians do — but it should particularly alarm us that the progressive intellectual class is continually pressing them to go even further. If misbehaving Republican politicians often embarrass the party’s intellectuals, misbehaving Democrats have their side’s scholars and pundits whispering in their ears like Iago, urging them to ever-more-radical steps. In this case, that means pursuing systemic and draconian “reforms” that aim explicitly at ensuring that a brief moment of narrow Democratic partisan control of the federal government is weaponized to prevent another peaceful transfer of power back to Republicans. This is branded as “majoritarianism,” but it is ultimately the politics of “one man, one vote, one time.”

Take, for example, a forthcoming law-review article by Harvard law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos (no relation, so far as I know, to George). Stephanopoulos argues that “majoritarian democracy” is “under siege.” He draws his diagnosis from the recent writings of former Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who now serves in the Biden administration as principal deputy-assistant attorney general for the civil-rights division of the Department of Justice (conveniently, a post not requiring Senate confirmation). Both are activist lawyers as well as law professors: Before joining the Biden administration, Karlan was the lead lawyer arguing Bostock v. Clayton County; Stephanopoulos was one of the driving forces behind Whitford v. Gill, which tried to get the Supreme Court to throw out partisan gerrymanders. Given the close relationship between Stephanopoulos’s article and Karlan’s writings — along with Karlan’s powerful government position — we should not lightly disregard this as simply harmless academic scribbling.

5. Fight Back One: Samantha Harris counsels on how to combat classroom “critical race theory” crapola. From the piece:

Most people know that the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. But it also protects freedom of conscience — that is, the right to hold our personal thoughts and beliefs free from government intrusion. The freedom of conscience is why the Supreme Court ruled that, even during the darkest days of World War II, a public school could not require its students to salute the American flag. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the majority, explained that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

The freedom of conscience is also why a Nevada mother is suing a Las Vegas charter school for forcing her son to participate in a mandatory class that “required students to reveal their race, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities and then determine if privilege or oppression is attached to those identities.” In the coming years, the First Amendment right to freedom of conscience will play a crucial role in the fight against the indoctrination of our children.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prevents discrimination, including the creation of a hostile environment, at public and private institutions receiving federal funding (which include most private colleges and universities). Many of these critical race trainings, particularly when mandatory, may create a hostile environment by continually singling people out for criticism solely on the basis of their skin color — such as when an employee at Smith College expressed discomfort at discussing her race publicly and was berated in front of her colleagues and told that her distress was merely a “power play,” a manifestation of white supremacy. These trainings have even infiltrated the corporate world: A whistleblower recently leaked slides from a diversity training for Coca-Cola employees suggesting that they “be less white.”

6. Fight Back Two: Keith E. Whittington strategizes on how to counter the threat to free speech on college campuses. From the article:

Liberal and moderate academics are deeply affected by the erosion of tolerance for dissent on our college campuses. Many of them decline to speak out on controversial subjects precisely because of the fierce intimidation that they face from their own side — and, to be frank, that they all too often face from politicians and activists on the political right. This creates an illusion of ideological conformity. Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania, a self-described liberal Democrat and a founding member of the AFA, recently described the problem in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:

If you’re affiliated with a college or university and it initiates a set of diversity trainings, you probably won’t bring up research suggesting that these trainings either have a negligible impact on racial attitudes or make them worse. People might conclude that you don’t support diversity, period. That’s just too big a risk to take, especially if you don’t have tenure.

Or if your university releases a statement condemning acts of police violence, you won’t ask out loud why it didn’t also denounce the rioting that followed some of them. For the record, Biden has condemned both. But if you repeat what he said, dear professor, you might be reviled as a racist by the same colleagues who are celebrating Biden’s projected victory.

For conservatives to win more support from liberal academics on free-speech issues, we must be willing to defend the rights of liberal academics to voice their own dissenting views. As a purely strategic matter, conservatives can build more support for the protection of their own speech rights by making common cause with liberal academics who wish to have their speech rights defended. Free critical inquiry and robust intellectual debate are at the very heart of what universities do, and we should recognize that conservatives and liberals alike have an interest in these universal principles. More broadly, the ability to have conversations across the ideological divide and to tolerate those with whom we differ is essential to living together in a liberal democracy. Universities should be models for how we build healthy communities despite our differences.

7. Cameron Hilditch finds the Golden State’s ethnic-studies curriculum to be repulsive. From the article:

The first question all this raises is one of pity and compassion: Will no one think of the poor writers at the Babylon Bee, whose Herculean task it is to satirize this dizzying pinnacle of woke insanity? If present trends continue, we will soon have to pass antitrust legislation aimed at reality itself on account of its unfair and anticompetitive monopoly on satirical content.

On a more serious note, however, the fact that such a document as this could be on the brink of becoming law in the richest and most populous state in America is troubling in the extreme. The religious component of this curriculum might void the entire bill in the end, running afoul of the First Amendment as it so obviously does. But the fact that it could be signed into law in the first place is evidence of just how completely conservatives and liberals alike have abandoned the field of education to radical progressives over the last century. There are few, if any, institutions in American life that can meet radical educational theorists and mandarins on their own territory and win long-term legislative battles. What is needed is a kind of Federalist Society for education, to which right-thinking parents, teachers, administrators, and academics can belong, and through which they can organize for change.

Opponents of the progressive education agenda have limited the effectiveness of their advocacy in the past by conceiving of the fight in terms of the familiar opposition between free markets and state control. It’s necessary to have this fight, but it’s no longer sufficient. The sooner that conservatives and classical liberals wake up to this fact, the better it will be for America’s children.

8. You’ve got to admit, says Itxu Díaz, that social media has given a global platform to a lot of chooches and reprobates. From the piece:

In 2021, we live under a pandemic of narcissism, for which there is no vaccine. The metaphor is not mine, but that of the American sociologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell in The Narcissism Epidemic. The authors differentiate between prevailing narcissism and healthy self-esteem. In the second case, people have an extraordinary opinion of themselves, but this does not prevent them from maintaining a sense of ethics and, above all, from continuing to love others. In the first case, what one feels for oneself is more akin to adoration, with the outside world appearing to be a rival, which awakens all kinds of grudges and hinders any way of relating to others.

Twenge and Campbell’s research uncovers a dangerous link between narcissism and the rise of socially reprehensible behavior in children and adolescents. It is also fair to note that narcissistic stupidity is not the exclusive terrain of young people: My neighbor, who looks to be about 1,400 years old, spends his days taking suggestive selfies of himself on the floor of his apartment, although the only thing they suggest to me is to block him.

When two individuals become famous for beating up a homeless man and broadcasting it live on social networks, our system of social punishment becomes ineffective. To the histrionic extent that these guys want to be famous at any cost, the punishment for their crime will be all the same to them if along the way they have managed to get their face reproduced on millions of phones. The number of followers gives them the false illusion that their actions have garnered ironclad support. In some insane way, they view these followers as accomplices who approve of their misdeeds.

Not long ago, a couple of idiots who worked in Spain as caregivers in an old people’s home posted, on their private social networks, a video in which one of them humiliated an elderly lady with almost complete paralysis. The worker insulted her, spat on her, and harassed her, while her friend — who filmed the scene — laughed her head off. Unexpectedly, some kind-hearted person distributed the video outside the girl’s private Instagram, and both miscreants were identified, fired, and socially repudiated.

One of them uploaded a video apologizing, but when someone shows herself to be the offspring of a hyena, apologies are welcome, however, they cannot alter the fact that we still think that girl has a heart of stone and a conscience drowned in sewage.

9. Roger Maxwell says woke books should have no place in military training. From the article:

On February 23, the chief of naval operations Admiral Michael Gilday released an updated version of the Navy’s Professional Reading Program. The program, a long-standing tradition that curates suggested readings for all members of the Navy, has a stated aim of educating and training the sailors that compose this branch of the Armed Forces. According to the Navy’s official website on this program, Admiral Gilday believes that in order to “outthink our competitors, we must study and apply lessons we’ve learned from the past.” He further holds that “one of the very best ways to do that is to foster an environment where every Sailor deepens their level of understanding and learning.” Many of the 48 books listed in the newly released reading checklist cover topics relevant to the Navy’s overall mission of becoming a more lethal fighting force: naval strategy, deep-dives into future world superpowers, leadership development, technology changes in the domain of warfighting, etc.

However, the checklist also included several books that are overtly political in nature, threatening what should be the apolitical nature of our nation’s fighting forces. As just one example, Ibram X. Kendi’s overly wrought screed How to Be an Antiracist somehow landed on the admiral’s book list. Writings in a similar vein appear on the list as well, including Jason Pierceson’s Sexual Minorities and Politics, as well as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. The inclusion of these books, especially given the hot-button topics they cover (and the controversial takes they provide) seems to place the Navy squarely into the realm of politics, which it has stridently attempted to avoid in the 200-plus years of its existence.

The inclusion of these books on an official DoD website is an embrace of partisan politics by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. One need only look at the contents of these pieces of literature (“literature” being used loosely) to understand just how true this statement is. Kendi’s book argues that capitalism is a racist construct. Alexander’s obfuscates real issues of violent crime in order to argue that incarceration rates for minorities are predominately, if not exclusively, based on race. Perhaps most egregious of the three, the openly partisan nature of Pierceson’s “textbook” practically hits the reader over the head with its agenda. Each piece of writing offers its own particular viewpoint; it just so happens that each is of the woke, left-leaning variety.

10. Adam Smith, slavery foe, may be long dead and buried, but that, writes Daniel Klein, is irrelevant to the Cancelers. From the piece:

In a Glasgow classroom on February 16, 1763, a student recorded Smith as saying that slavery was born of the “love of domination and tyrannizing,” which is why slaveholders clung to it. Contrary to popular belief, slavery was not profitable, and, as early as 1776, in his landmark book, Wealth of Nations, Smith emphasized that costliness.

So, in the first of Smith’s two published books, he railed against the injustice of slavery. And in the second, he demonstrated that slavery wasn’t even in slaveholders’ self-interest.

For years Smith was acknowledged by British abolitionists as an opponent of slavery. Yet now, in 2021, we’re supposed to believe that his “link” to slavery was discreditable?

Smith is not the only Scottish professor whom Clarkson commemorated in his great 1808 work. The others include Smith’s Glasgow teacher, Francis Hutcheson, and Smith’s Glasgow student, John Millar, as well as William Robertson of Edinburgh University. Clarkson also could have noted Gershom Carmichael, Hutcheson’s teacher at Glasgow. In other words, a long line of liberal moral philosophers helped to persuade their fellow citizens of the rank injustice of slavery. Their words deserve to be commemorated.

As for colonialism, Smith again is guilty. . . of being an opponent. In Wealth of Nations, appearing just a few months before the American Declaration of Independence, he suggested that the British government just let the American colonies go. And he advocated bringing an end to the British East India Company, which effectively ruled India as a monopoly backed by the Crown.

11. Dan McLaughlin Encore: He makes the case for populists to take on the classical-liberal approach to defending free speech. From the essay:

At heart, the classical-liberal position is that the freedom of speech is a good thing in and of itself, and therefore that the protection of good and true ideas requires us to extend protection to bad and false ones as well. All things being equal, more speech and more freedom are better. We should trust people to work their way through the marketplace of ideas toward the truth. We should give more space to dissenters in part because they sometimes help us find the truth, and in part because a decent respect for our fellow man should lead us to tolerate people who think differently. We are all freer, and safer, and more polite to each other if we maintain a strong culture of tolerating speech that itself may be ugly and rude. We seek protections for people we disagree with, because we may find ourselves in need of those one day. And because we value persuasion, we are also quicker to forgive those who may have said nasty things in the past that they no longer profess.

The populist critique is that classical-liberal conservatism is essentially contentless. In the populist telling, classical liberals are so wrapped up in defending the soapbox that they lose the soap. Conservatives who don’t insist on treating moral and factual truth as superior will, we are told, end up conserving nothing. This is something of a caricature, of course. Few people are so absolutist in their defense of free speech that they believe in no limits at all: You can still go to jail for fraud, be sued for knowing libel, or be fired from a communications job for being bad at communications. And a robust marketplace of ideas is only valuable if there are also people willing and able to sell their own ideas in that marketplace.

But are the populists consistent and serious about the worthlessness of the classical-liberal defense of free speech? Is their critique even popular? Consider: The biggest issue that unites and motivates conservative populists right now is the threat of cancel culture to free speech. But if you listen to conservatives around the country, this is by no means just a populist concern; it is broader even than just a conservative concern. Lots of people are worried about the stifling culture of intolerance and deplatforming on the Internet, on campus, and in the workplace. And they frequently frame those concerns in free-speech terms, and in a reaction against the biased and unfair standards applied by the cancelers. The classical-liberal argument is both popular and populist because it resonates with traditional American values and rhetoric. The actual disagreements between the populists and the classical liberals are in many cases much less than meets the eye.

12. Tom Cotton lays out the case for how the USA can best Red China. From the piece:

Next, we ought to sever China’s information pipeline for stolen intellectual property from American colleges and universities. China commits up to 80 percent of international intellectual-property theft and is the subject of nearly half of all FBI counterintelligence cases for economic espionage. Much of this malign activity occurs on American campuses and in American labs and research institutions. Yet in 2018–19, approximately 370,000 Chinese students were allowed to study in the United States — half of whom were enrolled in STEM courses. Chinese citizens still study at prestigious research institutions, American researchers participate in Chinese talent-recruitment programs, and CCP-aligned firms bankroll colleges, universities, and professors. This open access is unwise and ought to be restricted. The U.S. government should bar Chinese nationals from studying in STEM fields at the graduate or post-graduate level, prohibit Chinese funding of U.S. universities and research institutions, and end America’s satellite university system in China. This will minimize further theft and end the ridiculous and dangerous practice of welcoming Chinese military researchers into our nation’s most advanced laboratories.

We must also terminate our reliance on China for essential supplies such as rare-earth elements, pharmaceuticals, and personal-protective equipment (PPE). China supplies 80 percent of America’s rare-earth imports — which are essential for high-tech manufacturing — and processes 85 percent of the world’s supply of rare-earth elements. China has used its leverage on rare-earth elements to extort concessions out of Japan and is now looking to curb rare-earth exports required for U.S. manufacturing of the F-35. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, China placed similar export curbs on pharmaceutical products and PPE. This strategic weakness must be quickly eliminated, and the production of essential products ought to be re-shored through Buy American requirements, tax incentives, and large-scale stockpiling.

13. The Fantastic Four seems preferable to “The Quad,” but whatever it’s labeled, the four powers confronting Red China need to concentrate on their teamwork, opine Seth Cropsy and Harry Halem. From the piece:

Even more striking at the partisan level has been the variation in commitment to “anti-war” causes. Democratic support for the anti-war movement virtually evaporated in 2009 despite, lest we forget, multiple attempts to impeach Mr. Bush over his conduct of the Iraq War. Republicans are equally guilty: Challenges to the constitutionality of Mr. Obama’s military actions in Syria and Iraq vanished on January 20, 2017. If Mr. Biden’s recent Syria strike demonstrates anything, it is that politics has remained remarkably normal. Apart from fringe progressives — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her vanguard cohort — there will be no opposition from Democrats to executive military action.

It is, however, encouraging to identify an emerging continuity between Mr. Biden and his predecessor. The Biden administration seems committed to maintaining “the Quad” — the Asian security forum that includes the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India. The Quad stemmed from efforts to coordinate relief after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Although a formal security relationship seemed imminent in 2007, American, Indian, and Australian policy shifts buried the idea for nearly a decade. The Trump administration resurrected the Quad in November 2017 through ASEAN, building off America’s joint naval exercises with the three potential members. The Quad’s high point came in October 2020, when its four members participated in Exercise MALABAR, traditionally a bilateral Indo-American affair.

Moreover, other American allies have begun to recognize the link between the Indo-Pacific balance and their own interests. In February, France deployed a nuclear-powered attack submarine to the South China Sea, and it plans to deploy an amphibious assault ship and frigate in preparation for U.S.-Japanese military exercises in May. Germany will deploy a frigate to the Indo-Pacific this fall. The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group will deploy to the Indo-Pacific this year, marking the first British capital-ship deployment east of the Suez in a generation.

Mr. Biden has shown little interest in confronting China in his first weeks in office, but he has signaled his willingness to maintain the Quad. Moreover, talk exists of expanding the Quad by incorporating South Korea as a “Quad Plus” member.

14. Jimmy Quinn reports on former SoS Mike Pompeo’s warning that we should be prepared for Red China detaining Olympians who criticize the Commie rats. From the piece:

A number of prominent U.S. politicians and human-rights advocates have criticized the decision to host the games in Beijing, given the CCP’s brutal campaign against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang. At a rally in front of the White House yesterday organized by a number of Uyghur and Tibetan groups, Tursunay Ziawudun, whose experience of rape in the Uyghur camps was documented recently by the BBC, said, “I cannot believe this genocidal country is hosting the Olympic Games in 2022.”

In January, Pompeo, while still secretary of state, issued a formal determination that such a crime is taking place: “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”

Pompeo said Thursday that he worked with the International Olympic Committee to “deliver them a set of facts that unmistakably demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party ought not to be rewarded with the noble efforts that Olympians undertake.”

“The IOC has a moral responsibility to the world to say we’re simply not going to permit a set of leaders to behave in this way to destroy an entire group of people,” he continued.

The International Olympic Committee, however, under the leadership of its president Thomas Bach, has been unwavering in its determination to ensure the games take place in Beijing. On Friday, the committee once again rejected calls to move the 2022 games, saying that it is not a “super world government,” though Bach also claimed that the committee is monitoring the human-rights situation in China closely.

15. Charlie Cooke smacks down a Bill Maher-monologue filled with ChiCom Envy. From the piece:

Maher’s first mistake is to compare what is expected from a single Communist government with what is expected from 51 democratic governments that, by design, expect most innovation to come from the market. In America, the federal government does not — and should not — “build cities,” and nor does it “create” the middle class. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. We are different from China because we want to be different — and we are supposed to be different — from China.

That difference has unavoidable consequences. Maher draws a distinction between “authoritarian government” and “representative government,” but then he describes political differences at the national level as “squabbling tribes,” as if the democratic process playing out in a divided country is a problem to be solved. It’s not. Indeed, it’s unavoidable if, like Maher, you don’t want a government that breaks promises, puts people in camps, and punishes dissent. With apologies to Tom Friedman, there is simply no way of being “China for a day” without accepting all of the other stuff that we don’t want. China, I’m afraid, is a package deal.

This aside, it is simply not true that we “never do anything” in America. As a people, we are far, far more innovative than China, which is why they are so determined to steal or copy our stuff. Hell, as I write these words, we’re watching this country innovate its way out of a global crisis — just as it always, always manages to do. Do we think that just happened?

16. Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes report on how Red China cracked down and crushed democracy in Hong Kong. From the piece:

Xi Jinping’s motives behind the idea of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” are obvious. He and other CCP leaders believe that Hong Kong authorities have been overly tolerant of the democratic opposition for the past 20 years, giving Hong Kongers the impression they could arm-wrestle with the central government, which they imagine would not dare to turn the tables on them because of the interests of the so-called foreign powers in Hong Kong. The central government had been trying to make Hong Kong a positive example of “one country, two systems” to appeal to Taiwan.

But while the model found no acceptance in Taiwan, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen used it to make waves in Hong Kong itself. Since Taiwan has made it clear that peaceful reunification is not possible, the role of Hong Kong as a model has become meaningless, and the Chinese central government has begun to gradually clean up the problems left behind by policy blunders when reformulating a new program for Taiwan. With a new American administration showing little inclination to soften the stiffer stance toward China established by President Trump, the relationship between China and the United States has deteriorated to the worst level since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. So patience has lost its rationale.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the U.S. has condemned the CPP’s changes to Hong Kong’s internal governance. But other Western governments have joined the U.S. in its condemnations. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken tweeted that the changes “run counter to PRC international commitments,” and that “we stand with allies and partners speaking out for the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong.” In a review of political conditions in Hong Kong, the European Union described an ”alarming political deterioration” and a “severe erosion of autonomy, democracy, and fundamental freedoms,” promising undisclosed “further steps” in response. The Group of Seven (G7) nations expressed “grave concerns” about the plan, predicting boldly that it would “stifle political pluralism.” A statement from the foreign secretary’s office said that the United Kingdom would now consider China to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was supposed to guarantee Hong’s Kong’s autonomy and rule of law until 2047. “China must act in accordance with its legal obligations and respect fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab said. But Beijing simply shrugged off this command, saying that Hong Kong’s electoral system was China’s internal affair.

17. Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz make the case for Biden to not revisit the Iran Deal. Of course, they admit — he likely will anyway. From the beginning of the piece:

Although President Biden has demanded that Iran reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action before it receives economic relief, he will probably soon start green-lighting billions of dollars in assistance and lifting sanctions. Tehran will undoubtedly remain in violation of the atomic accord and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory. Biden will do so for the same reason that Barack Obama repeatedly gave ground in negotiations with the Islamic Republic: fear of risking war or publicly conceding a nuke to the clerical regime. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who has an autarkist streak and despises the United States, has been ratcheting up the pressure.

Tehran has increased the quantity and quality of its enriched uranium and started to construct and deploy advanced centrifuges faster than what the JCPOA allowed. The clerical regime is also preventing the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency from accessing Iran’s nuclear facilities, which is in violation of the NPT. And for the fourth time under the Biden administration, an Iran-guided Shiite militia has rocketed an American base in Iraq. The president responded to one of the attacks with a limited strike in Syria.

Khamenei has been point-blank — more so than he often is when he wants to give himself wiggle room: “We have no sense of urgency, we are in no rush to see the United States return to the JCPOA; this has never been a concern for us. . . . What is our entirely reasonable demand is the lifting of sanctions; this is the usurped right of the Iranian nation.”

Although senior officials in the administration are loath to say this publicly, they need the credible threat of U.S. military power and the pain of sanctions to drive the supreme leader back into negotiations. As punishing as sanctions had been for two and a half years under Donald Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign, they did not crack the fortitude and faith of Iran’s ruling elite.

18. How goes the recall of Gavin Newsom, and the Janus-induced cash-crunch future of California’s Big Labor is a tale told by fool, but quite possibly with accuracy. Like the stopped clock, twice daily. From the article:

All this and more has led the California Policy Center and similar pro-freedom state groups to devise and implement a battle plan — replicated by conservatives in other states — that defends workers’ First Amendment rights and produces a de facto result of drying up the cash sea that Big Government Labor unions took for granted and depended upon.

The results are remarkable. So are the consequences.

When Janus was issued in 2018, California had approximately 1.5 million government-union members. In the intervening three years, largely through efforts of CPC and other groups, the membership number has dropped by 18 percent. That’s roughly 270,000 people. The dollar significance — many fewer dues payments are coming in — amounts to roughly $200 million less annually in Big Labor’s coffers.

CPC’s five-year goal is to see that government-union membership drop by an additional 180,000, which would mean an overall post-Janus cut of 30 percent. In two-year election-cycle terms, this means that government unions could have $720 million less to spend on behalf of left-wing candidates, referenda, and causes.

Swaim (who co-hosts NR’s popular weekly Radio Free California podcast with David Bahnsen) says it is the ground-game efforts — an amalgam of digital engagements, website sessions, phone calls, text messages, and personal meetings — that have achieved this.

19. Sarah Schutte sings the praises of children’s author Hilda Van Stockum. From the article:

Four years after A Day on Skates, Van Stockum published the first of her Bantry Bay series. Set in Ireland, the trilogy chronicles the doings of the lively O’Sullivan family: Father and Mother, Michael, Brigid, and the twins, Francie and Liam. Growing up, book two of this trilogy (Francie on the Run) was my personal favorite, and its vignettes and adventures have stayed with me for years. (The story of Teig Mulligan, recounted close to the end of the book, has particularly tickled my fancy, and what an amusing audio drama it would make!) These books, like the Mitchell series, strove to exemplify wholesome family life and capture the sweetness, small woes, and sacrifices that go into creating and maintaining a home, no matter where.

Van Stockum’s writing career spanned four decades, and her lighter (though not trivial) books eventually made way for stories of a more serious tone. The Winged Watchman, for example, is set in Occupied Holland as seen through the eyes of two brothers, ages eleven and 14. Despite dealing with the heavier subjects that come with writing about World War II, Van Stockum’s depictions of dark themes never become gratuitous. Evil is real. Terrible events occurred during that era, and the images painted by Van Stockum’s pen made a lasting impression on my young mind during that first reading. But here, as in her other stories, the love of family and light of faith shine through the oppressive darkness, giving readers young and old strong portraits of courage, love of country, and selflessness.

Capital Matters

1. Kevin Hassett and Matthew Jensen calculate the cost to you of the COVID stimulus. From the beginning of the piece:

With all the trillion-dollar numbers spinning about government policy these days, it’s easy to lose perspective on the scale of recent federal spending. We decided to put the past year’s policy into perspective by calculating the future tax hike that would be necessary to pay the bills rung up since January, 2020. What the average American owes for the stimulus will shock you.

The exercise is not farfetched. Rumors spread throughout Washington last week that the Biden administration is considering tax hikes to pay for COVID-19 relief enacted this year and last. To some extent, it is amazing that the U.S. experienced a 32 percent drop in GDP in the second quarter of last year and did not dive into a depression, and some credit is surely due to those who crafted stimulus bills. On the other hand, the five bills passed to provide relief, once one subtracts out loans that will be repaid, together added $5.3 trillion to the debt that you, dear reader, will have to pay back someday. Think of COVID-19 relief as a new car payment, of course without any delivery of four wheels, an engine, or a chassis. When you see the numbers, you will realize that the comparison is not an exaggeration.

This is not an academic exercise. The thing about debt is that it eventually has to be paid. There is no such thing, annoying economists like us tend to remind too often, as a free lunch. Even if the debt is rolled over ad infinitum, the lunch is not free because taxpayers have to pay higher interest each year to cover the additional borrowing, which crowds out other government services. Milton Friedman famously argued against aggressive stimulus because, he said, taxpayers would look ahead to their future tax hikes and save today to prepare themselves for the worst. Whatever the government tries to do will be futile.

2. Jimmy Quinn unpacks how Red China’s bucks played a key role in crushing Hong Kong’s freedom protests. From the beginning of the piece:

When we think of Beijing’s drive to crush Hong Kong’s nascent democracy, what comes to mind are images of mass demonstrations and of pro-democracy icons rounded up, imprisoned, and brought before judges to face sham trials under the National Security Law (NSL) forced upon the city by the Chinese Communist Party last May.

It is natural for China’s crackdown on Hong Kong to get most of the ink, especially given that it continues apace even today: In addition to a recent move to charge 47 pro-democracy figures under the law, the National People’s Congress last week restricted candidacy for the city’s Legislative Council elections to “Patriots Only,” the final nail in the coffin of Hong Kong’s hopes for democratic government.

But earlier this month, the nonprofit Hong Kong Watch released an extensive report on another, less-noticed aspect of Beijing’s repression: the ways in which a gradual influx of “red capital” helped to bring the city’s democrats to their knees.

3. Brian Yablonski analyzes the Biden Administration’s conservation goals and says it is private lands that will provide a solution. From the beginning of the piece:

One of the first tasks facing the soon-to-be confirmed Interior secretary Deb Haaland will be to carry out a few short paragraphs of an order signed by President Joe Biden in January: to conserve 30 percent of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Understated in its rollout, “30 by 30” ought to be seen as President Biden’s conservation moonshot.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, only 12 percent of the land in America qualifies as “protected,” including wilderness areas, national parks and monuments, and private lands under conservation easements. To achieve an additional 18 percent, we would need to conserve an extra 440 million acres — an area more than four times the size of California.

There will be a push to use old, divisive tools on public lands to score easy gains, such as designating new monuments or banning fossil-fuel development. But conserving land does not necessarily require a heavy hand from the federal government. The administration should use this moment to explore newer, more-creative market-based solutions. Indeed, whatever its instincts to the contrary, this would be its best chance of success.

Whether President Biden’s moonshot lifts off or turns out to be a damp squib will hinge largely on how the administration engages private landowners. With 900 million acres of farm and ranch lands in America, and another 445 million acres of privately owned forests, these lands are where the greatest gains will be won or lost.

4. Steve Hanke and Robert J. Simon argue that cryptocurrency boards are better bets than Bitcoin. From the article:

Putting aside Bitcoin’s meteoric ascent in price, which has been punctuated by dramatic booms and busts, it is important to note that its designation as a “cryptocurrency” is a misnomer. A currency is characterized by four fundamental features. To qualify, it must be unit of account, must be a standard for deferred payment, must be a store of value, and must serve as a medium of exchange.

Just how does Bitcoin stack up when it comes to these currency criteria? Bitcoin’s volatility turns out to be its Achilles’ heel. In 2020, Bitcoin’s annualized daily volatility was an astonishing 67 percent. If we look at the most important price in the world, the USD–euro exchange rate, and the world’s international currency, the U.S. dollar, the dollar’s annualized daily volatility in 2020 was only 7.8 percent. Since Bitcoin’s source code predetermines that Bitcoin’s supply will ultimately be fixed and totally inelastic, all market adjustments can take place only via price changes, not quantity changes. As a result, it is destined to be inherently subject to extreme price volatility. This means that Bitcoin will never serve as a reliable unit of account. You will rarely see items with Bitcoin price tags attached. You will also never see deferred contracts (contracts under which payment is made under a long-term credit arrangement) written in Bitcoin. Can you imagine someone writing a mortgage contract denominated in Bitcoin?

Bitcoin’s volatility also renders it unattractive for most corporations to hold in lieu of cash reserves. Indeed, Bitcoin, which is considered an intangible (something, incidentally, that brings inconsistent and opaque accounting treatment in its wake), throws considerable risk on to balance sheets. In short, it is not a reliable store of value. It’s no surprise, therefore, that most corporations are unwilling to take on the risks associated with holding Bitcoin on their balance sheets. A recent survey found that roughly 5 percent of finance executives said that “they planned to hold bitcoin as a corporate asset in 2021” and “84 percent of respondents said they did not plan to ever hold bitcoin as a corporate asset,” citing volatility as their foremost concern.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White digs Zack Snyder’s Justice League. From the beginning of the review:

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (that’s the complete title) differs significantly from the 2017 film Justice League, a project Snyder began that was mutilated when Warner Brothers assigned Joss Whedon to rework it. Through the confluence of venal corporate interference, a rare instance of public outcry about the movie business (the online demand #ReleaseTheSnyderCut), and the opportunity to jump-start the new streaming service HBO Max, Snyder got carte blanche to complete his vision, to make things right.

Snyder takes the idea of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) uniting with three more superheroes, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Victor Stone), following Superman’s death at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), as a metaphor for spiritual endeavor. In Snyder’s mythic distillation of moral combat, this league of superheroes fights an evil threat from another dimension, the horned villain Steppenwolf and his even more rough-hewn master Darkside (they promise, “Down with the modern world. Back to the Dark Ages”).

ZSJL shows the superheroes’ dynamic, physicalized anxieties that, in the grand scheme, are sometimes confusedly political but go back to primordial conditions and foundational myths. The opening scenes linking different eras and characters in parallel situations and life instances are fantastically designed and with the most emotionally intense facial portraits since Joseph von Sternberg. This is a modern epic about worry and longing.

2. If you think the Academy Awards no longer matter, you’d get Kyle Smith’s vote. From the article:

As recently as 2009, when The Dark Knight failed to get a Best Picture nomination despite its obvious excellence and cultural impact, appealing to a broad audience was a central concern of AMPAS, which expanded the category to as many as ten nominees the following year, hoping that some blockbusters would wind up in competition for the top prize each year. That did, initially, happen — Avatar was among the nominees in 2010 — but in 2015 AMPAS (a group of proud gentry liberals) became petrified of social-media hashtags making spurious accusations of racism. It then undertook to change the taste of its voting body. Instead of membership being offered only to the most accomplished veterans — which yielded slates of nominees that balanced artistic achievement with traditional Hollywood concerns such as star power and audience engagement — AMPAS implemented a vigorous affirmative-action program.

The voting body is today much more diverse and much younger than it was in 2009, but its tastes are so out of the mainstream that the Oscars are today a sort of West Coast version of the Independent Spirit Awards, giving all of its attention to art-house offerings. The average American looks at this year’s list of obscure Best Picture nominees — Mank? Nomadland? Promising Young Woman? Judas and the Black Messiah? The Father? Minari? Sound of Metal? The Trial of the Chicago 7? — and thinks: I have no interest in any of these titles. All of them are downers, most of them push an overt political agenda, and none of them puts a beloved movie star front and center except The Father (in which Anthony Hopkins plays a man being destroyed by dementia). There is no glamour or Hollywood magic attached to any of them. All of them are essentially TV movies (though all of them had pro forma theatrical runs). Most of them are more interested in wrestling with intractable social problems (which, being intractable, tend to frustrate audiences) than in entertainment.

3. More Armond, who seconds the motion, and sees Hamilton outdueled: From the piece:

In the past, film adaptations of such Broadway hits as West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof, even the cynical Cabaret, once united our cultural identity, and, as a result, all were Oscar-nominated. The Academy’s rebuff of Hamilton has revealed that the show’s cultural status was not insuperable; it was always simply a means of progressives’ self-intoxication. It entertained no one outside of Broadway and editorial-page writers.

That Hamilton’s Tony Award–winning co-star Leslie Odom Jr. got an Oscar nomination for a different film (impersonating Sam Cooke in the miserable One Night in Miami) certifies that Hamilton lacked real star power (creator Lin-Manuel Miranda sucked up all the publicity, yet his whiney-voiced characterization left viewers cold). In Disney’s streaming version, Odom gave the show’s emotional void no more than the superficialities of black belligerence — acting the role of Aaron Burr as if to showcase Dixiecrat black villainy, a black Judas to Miranda’s Latin messiah.

And yet, none of the Academy’s eight Best Picture nominees rival the “legendary” impression that Hamilton made. Each soon-to-be forgotten film offers a passive-aggressive reorganization of American principles into sentimental sermons about class, race and sex, as if progressives have finally convinced everyone to think alike, but without joy, satisfaction, or social harmony in return — just self-righteousness and misery, well symbolized by Frances McDormand’s grim visage in Nomadland. Not a single film is uplifting; but neither was Hamilton, which surely is the reason it flopped. This year’s Oscar nominees all flop. They’re anti-populist non-entertainments.

From the April 5, 2021 Issue of National Review, a Quartet of Quality and Wisdom

As is our custom, from the new issue — all of the content being superior — we pick four pieces (ok, maybe we will add a bonus) for your curiosity and consideration.

1. The trio of Nicholas Eberstadt, Derek Scissors, and Evan Abramsky gauge America’s petroleum independence, its virtues, and its threat from Team Biden. From the cover story:

Although it has gone strangely unheralded so far, the United States just marked an energy milestone of great historical and strategic significance. In 2020, according to official figures, the U.S. exported more oil and petroleum products than it imported. This is the first time in generations that America has attained such qualified, but nonetheless meaningful, “independence from foreign oil.” It would have been considered impossible barely 15 years ago, when imports peaked. The transformation has greatly benefited the American economy and enabled much more foreign-policy flexibility. It is also a powerful asset for the U.S. in its competition with China.

The Biden administration should be mindful of the economic and strategic advantages that America enjoys from its new energy profile. As Team Biden charts its policy on climate change, it should be careful not to sacrifice these gains in a headlong rush toward an ambitious green agenda.

The data documenting America’s new status as a net petroleum exporter come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Department of Energy’s statistical office, which reports a U.S. surplus of about 600,000 barrels per day for 2020 in international petroleum trade. Separately, trade statistics from Comtrade, the U.N.’s authoritative international-merchandise database, show the U.S. generated a trade surplus from petroleum of about $19 billion last year.

America had not experienced a surplus from petroleum trade in a very long time. The EIA was established in 1949 and at no previous point in its history did its annual estimates for overall U.S. exports of petroleum — i.e., crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and other petroleum products — ever surpass imports. According to EIA numbers, America had run an uninterrupted petroleum deficit for at least seven straight decades, from 1949 through 2019.

Earlier energy statistics for the U.S. are spottier and not wholly comparable to the EIA’s numbers, which track total physical volume. Historical U.S. trade data on petroleum, which extend back to 1882, are instead given in dollars. The EIA keeps annual physical data back to 1920 on the U.S. trade in crude oil, but crude is only one component of the petroleum business (most recently accounting for just over a third of U.S. petroleum exports in 2020). In 1943, at the height of World War II, the U.S. exported more crude than it imported, but that was the country’s last trade surplus in crude. We have to go back to the Great Depression (1933– 39) to find a peacetime period when America registered both a physical surplus in oil trade and a dollar surplus in petroleum trade — and we have to go back more than a century if we are looking for both of these in a “normal” peacetime year. Our modest 2020 petroleum trade surplus, in other words, is not completely unprecedented. Nevertheless, America’s petroleum profile in 2020 marks a symbolic departure from a much more dependent past — one with implications for the future that should not go underestimated.

2. David Pryce Jones reviews Ray Takeyh’s The Last Shah. From the review:

Sentenced to three years in prison for treason, he spent the rest of his life in house arrest in the countryside. In the era of Nasser and Sukarno, Mossadeq became a nationalist hero. To give just one example of this disguised anti-Americanism, Stephen Kinzer (of the New York Times) wrote All the Shah’s Men, an account of the nationalization of Iranian oil, in which he bowed to Mossadeq as a titan, a towering figure, “one of history’s most gifted visionaries.”

The worst that can be said of the shah is that his drive to industrialize didn’t fit the society. A Western model was disrupting the settled order. “It was a dynamic country that few wanted to live in” is Takeyh’s neat aphorism. The book the shah published celebrating his so-called White Revolution, a series of reforms aimed at modernization, was an unrealistic fantasy. Takeyh attributes to him a “typical mixture of arrogance and self-pity.” There were a number of capable politicians who could have headed off the revolution, but the shah would not appoint them for fear that they might seize power. He preferred sycophants. A celebration of the 2,500-year anniversary of the Achaemenid Empire was held in ancient Persepolis and cost between $200 and $300 million. The watching world thought of him as a superannuated playboy. His private life is almost never referred to by Takeyh, so it comes as a surprise that in his palace “he stewed more than he schemed and passed the time with card games and detective novels. He slept with a pistol and frequently changed bedrooms. His wife worried that he might suffer a nervous breakdown.” Missing from this account is some comment on the Pahlavi Foundation, often said to consist of a very large sum of ill-gotten gains.

Ayatollah Khomeini appeared from nowhere. He denounced the shah in this style: “You wretched, miserable man, 45 years of your life have passed. Isn’t it time for you to think and reflect a little, to ponder where all this is leading you, to learn a lesson from the experience of your father?” Left-wing intellectuals, students, women denied their rights, the educated, and the illiterate were a coalition of the discontented. In 1963, Khomeini was arrested and exiled to Turkey and then to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, where he was to spend 13 years, followed by some final weeks in France. Assassination would have brought revolution to a stop; there was no known plan for it. Khomeini specialized in sending cassettes to Iran, promising to bring human rights and democracy to the people, many of whom he was shortly to murder as corrupters of the earth.

3. Ramesh Ponnuru analyzes the GOP’s new demographic future. From the article:

At the same time, Republicans have been declaring a new self-understanding. On Election Night, Hawley tweeted, “We are a working class party now.” A few days later, Rubio was only a little more cautious: “The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working-class coalition.” Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) has joined the chorus. The GOP, he said, “is no longer the ‘wine and cheese’ party. It’s the beer and blue jeans party.”

Just what it means to be a working-class party, though — on that there is less clarity and less agreement. Most Republicans haven’t endorsed any legislation to raise the minimum wage or to create a wage subsidy or a child allowance. Rubio criticized Romney’s plan for sending “welfare assistance” to low-income parents.

One reason that consensus on a policy agenda for the working class may be elusive is that the definition of the group itself is ambiguous. Look at the relationship between voting behavior and income, and the notion that the Republicans are becoming a working-class party looks illusory. AP Votecast found that about 40 percent of the 2020 electorate belonged to households making less than $50,000 a year, and Joe Biden got a majority of their votes. Trump did best among voters making between $50,000 and $100,000. One could reasonably consider those voters in the core of the middle class. The Census reports that in 2019, median income was $69,000: Half of households made more, and half less.

Income used to correlate with political behavior much more strongly. In 2000, George W. Bush did 17 points better among the highest-earning households than among the lowest-earning ones. In 2020, the difference for Trump was only five points.

These days, when people talk about how the working class votes, they are generally referring to levels of schooling rather than of income. As recently as 2012, college graduates were a bit more likely to vote Republican than everyone else. In 2020, those with college degrees were significantly more likely than others to vote Democratic. (That excludes voters with postgraduate degrees, who have long given a majority of their votes to Democrats.) This education-based realignment has occurred throughout the developed world and has taken the same basic form, with voters who have college degrees to the left of those without.

4. Madeleine Kearns crowns Meghan and Harry, royal pains. From the piece:

Perhaps at this point I am at risk of losing my American readers. Why should you care about any of this, given that you fought a war over 200 years ago to be free of monarchist concerns forevermore? I sympathize. (I am Scottish, after all.) Still, an appalling celebrity culture, a culture of narcissism, is being mainstreamed and celebrated — and with astonishingly little opposition because it is cloaked in wokeness.

Markle’s version of events begins like every princess book, with a wide-eyed and innocent heroine who was good-natured and trusting and had simply no idea what she was getting herself into. Within the first five minutes of her interview, she made a reference to Princess Diana (her husband’s mom), whom we, the audience, are presumably supposed to consider her kindred spirit, a previous shooting star with the same Markle sparkle. (All nonsense, of course.)

Then, after this contrived setup, the interview reached its first emotional plot twist — the moment “when everything changed,” Markle tells us. This was when she endured heartache and torment when the royal family were unwilling to make a public statement in her defense after British tabloids reported that Markle had made Kate Middleton cry over the bridesmaids’ dresses at Markle’s wedding, when in fact “the reverse happened” — Kate had made Markle cry (the ultimate proof of being in the right, as every little girl can attest). Markle reveals that Kate even sent flowers and a note taking “accountability” for her actions. “I would never have wanted that to come out about her,” Markle says of her famously discreet sister-in-law. “I protected that from ever being out in the world,” she tells Oprah’s audience of millions.

Why does this soon-to-be 40-year-old millionaire mother think we should care about which grown woman made which grown woman cry over an item of clothing? Something to do with the sisterhood, I think: “If you love me, you don’t have to hate [Middleton],” Markle says. “And if you love her, you don’t need to hate me.” Of course, what Markle doesn’t realize is that most of us neither love nor hate either of them. We have our own lives, with people in them

BONUS: John J. Miller goes back a near century to recall Charles Curtis, the Veep who knew a thing or two about races, political and mixed. From the piece:

In 1884, Curtis won election as county prosecutor, the first step in his long rise. When he ran for Congress in 1892, Demo crats suggested that his Indian ancestry rendered him unfit for office, but voters elected him anyway in what was elsewhere a lousy year for GOP candidates. He served on the House Committee on Indian Affairs and drafted a law that came to be known as the Curtis Act, which sought to weaken tribal loyalties and encourage Indians to assimilate into white society — a stance that makes Curtis controversial in some Indian circles today. He aspired to the Senate and finally was elected to it in 1907. Over the next two decades, he rose in its Republican ranks, becoming Senate majority leader in 1924 and remaining in the post until his vice presidency.

Party leaders tend to focus on the passage of legislation rather than the writing of it, and Curtis fits the mold: “The historian studying our times, going over the history of legislation for 30 years, will not find Curtis’s name attached to any measure of first importance,” wrote White in 1925. Even so, Curtis was the man who first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to the Senate, in 1923. It went on to become a major cause of feminists in the 1970s. Today it remains a project of progressives, who see its possible revival as a route to equal-pay mandates and guaranteed abortion rights. Curtis probably would not recognize the thing it has become, but he was present at the ERA’s conception.

The most impressive feat of Curtis may involve his constituent relations. He was famous for remembering the names of voters, and he tried to stay in close contact with as many as possible. His half-sister Dorothy described how she helped him keep “books filled with the names of Kansas voters, the citizens of every county and town” and “a short biography of each voter, with his achievements, sometimes with a description of his personality.” One anecdote describes letters poured into the Curtis office in a 24-hour period, and how Curtis and a throng of secretaries mailed replies to each correspondent by the following day. “Charley Curtis would have been a hell of a Rotary Club member,” says R. David Edmunds, a retired history professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At The College Fix, Tyler Hummel reports on more academic lunacy about pigmentation — the latest is to attack “white woundedness.” From the article:

Berea College hosted an online webinar Wednesday to discuss the concept of white citizenship as terrorism. It was led by Professor Amy Brandzel, author of “Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative.”

The one-hour lecture, while held March 17, made national headlines last week because of its provocative title: “White Citizenship as Terrorism: Make America Great Again, Again.”

A flier for the event stated “if terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to create a state of fear towards particular communities and identities, then this is what ‘Trumpism’ is at its core.”

Brandzel is an assistant professor of American Studies and Women Studies at the University of New Mexico. Brandzel’s online bio states the scholar “works across the connections and contradictions within feminist, GLBT/queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories on identity, citizenship, law, history, and knowledge production.”

The lecture began with a land acknowledgment, wherein Brandzel admits to being a “white settler who lives on unseated Pueblo, Navajo and Apache Land.”

2. At Gatestone Institute, Peter Schweizer discusses China’s use of AI in its military-power plans. From the beginning of the article:

China’s military buildup threatens its neighbors and regional stability in the Far East. Beijing’s aggressive military expansion has made its navy the largest in the world, and it has been flexing its maritime muscle in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region. It continues to build its ballistic missile capacities as well.

Further, China’s expertise in cyber-warfare is both well-established and feared. It has allowed the PRC to hack into computers and steal intellectual property, as well as other cyber crimes.

But the junction of China’s growing cyber capabilities and its aggressive military buildup is in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to military weapons and systems.

Conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s strategy in military expansion moves on many fronts, and AI work is integral to all of its military goals. The PLA has been committed to prioritizing innovation over expansion in its modernization efforts at least since 2014.

The PLA believes it can leapfrog the U.S. in the course of this transformation. China, however, has many challenges to developing and deploying AI-based systems that the U.S. does not. They lack the kind of technical talent the U.S. has, as well as the skill to manage the enormous quantities of data that such systems rely on, both for development and for operations. Not surprisingly, their organization, too, is a hindrance to innovation in the military AI space.

3. At The Catholic Thing, old NR colleague Brad Miner considers what it means to be a “practicing Catholic” (in the new era of Biden Catholicism). From the article:

That we even have the term “practicing Catholic” is revealing. Despite living in New York for the last forty-four years, I don’t think I have ever heard any Jewish friend be called a “practicing Jew,” although more often Jews here are referred to by more specific adjectives: Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, liberal, Reform, secular. Most often, Jews who attend Sabbath services are “observant,” although I suspect that term may seem odd to the Haredi.

Anyhow, observant may be analogous to practicing.

But I also can’t recall ever hearing anybody describe themselves as a practicing Methodist or Presbyterian or Episcopalian or Lutheran, but, obviously, I haven’t been everywhere or spoken to everybody, so I haven’t heard everything. Still, I haven’t heard that.

To the extent that this is true, it’s because we Catholics know only too well that a whole lot of people who call themselves “Catholic” have very little knowledge of the faith and put very little of what they do know into use. They favor “a woman’s right to choose” and abortion, and they disfavor getting up on a Sunday morning and going to Mass. You could say they’re “out of practice,” the way I am with French and the drums, which were old passions allowed to cool.

As we know, every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation, and dwindling attendance at Mass on the Lord’s Day is all you need to know about who’s “practicing” or who’s not. And if you go on any Holy Day of Obligation when it falls on a weekday, you know one of two things: either many “Catholics” don’t grasp the meaning of the word “obligation” or they don’t care.

Some of this may be the (sometimes) admirable American belief that nobody tells us what to do. In this case, of course, it’s abominable.

4. At Law & Liberty, Mark Pulliam questions the constitutionality of abortion. From the essay:

But what if everyone was wrong about the premise of the debate?

What if the Reconstruction Era Fourteenth Amendment, instead of protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, protected the unborn child’s right to life? What if the 39th Congress intended to include the unborn as “persons” under the Due Process Clause? So argues Professor John Finnis of Notre Dame’s law school in a provocative article in the April 2021 issue of First Things. Finnis acknowledges that the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, drafted in 1866 and ratified in 1868, is silent on the subject of abortion, as is the drafting history and congressional debates on the measure. He nevertheless contends that the intent to protect the unborn is evident in the reliance of proponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (the provisions of which the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to uphold) on William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765).

Blackstone assigned the beginning of life (and thus legal protection) to the unborn upon quickening. At least “by the dawn of the nineteenth century,” Finnis argues, abortion was prohibited under English law from the time of conception. Therefore, if the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to confer on the newly-freed slaves (and others) the rights of Englishmen (as Finnis contends, quoting James F. Wilson, the sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 1866), the term “any person” in the Due Process Clause includes the unborn. Ergo, abortion deprives the unborn of life without due process of law, and is therefore unconstitutional. In other words, states would be constitutionally forbidden to permit abortion.

Finnis closely explores the reasoning of Roe and delves into the common law background of the concept of “quickening” in America during the 19th century. Finnis is a world class philosopher, and his philosophical arguments are compelling. But wait a minute. The article is about constitutional law, not moral philosophy.

Even if Finnis is correct about the derivation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the meaning and significance of Blackstone’s Commentaries — even if, contra Roe, unborn children are “persons” entitled to due process — does that mean, as the title of Finnis’ article suggests, that “Abortion is Unconstitutional”? Not necessarily. Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment reads, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Where is the state action?

5. At The Spectator, Bruno Maçães believes the forthcoming post-COVID era will provide a technological explosion. From the piece:

Take transportation and energy: the demand for driverless cars and delivery vans boomed last year because people were fearful of getting infected. In response companies quickly scaled up their plans. Last October, for example, Waymo announced the launch of a taxi service that is fully driverless. Walmart announced in December its plans to use fully autonomous box trucks to make deliveries in Arkansas later this year. As retail goes online as a result of the pandemic, massive delivery volumes are now placing greater pressure on others to follow suit.

Meanwhile the aviation and space sectors are also getting creative. Supersonic air travel may return, 20 years after the retirement of Concorde. Boom Supersonic, a startup, will test the XB-1 this year as a prelude to a larger aircraft capable of carrying up to 90 passengers at twice the speed of sound. Airbus has given itself five years to develop a commercially viable aircraft that runs on hydrogen, a Herculean task that could revolutionize the whole aviation industry. SpaceX could be working on a human mission to Mars by the end of the decade.

Two researchers from Cambridge and Columbia have even suggested building a space elevator they call the Spaceline. This would involve extending a line, anchored on the moon, to deep within Earth’s gravity well. Its purpose? To have a cable allowing free movement from Earth to the Moon. Ideas once imagined as long-term projects are now treated as achievable aims. COVID could have accelerated development not only of greener vehicles and travel, but energy production itself. Scientists are now developing a compact (trash-can-sized) version of a nuclear fusion reactor, renewing hopes that the long-elusive goal of mimicking the way the sun produces energy might be achieved and eventually contribute to the fight against climate change.

6. At Commentary, Wilfred C. Reilly shows the good-news evidence of race in America. From the essay:

Yes, racism exists. However, there are significant caveats that merit discussion. First, many of the studies used to demonstrate the prevalence of contemporary bias are limited in scope. Devah Pager and her team looked only at hiring for non-affirmative-action entry-level jobs in the private sector, primarily with white-owned employers, in Milwaukee near the turn of the past century. While Pager, who died in 2018, was a skilled and ethical scholar, it would be hard for a critic from the right not to notice that this is probably the only sector of the modern job market in which a qualified upper-middle-class minority job applicant might find himself at a hiring disadvantage. It would be fascinating to see this study replicated in the context of public-sector jobs, or desirable experience-based union jobs, or diversity-forward positions. For that matter, fully 36 percent of U.S. businesses today are minority- or woman-owned. What does “racial hiring bias” look like for applicants to that sector?

Entering trickier ground, we may (discreetly) note that discrimination does not always reflect blind irrational bias. While I would still opt not to work with a business that had such a rule in place, common sense compels us to admit that there might be reasons other than “hatred” for a bar owner’s reluctance to usher a group of 100 male Hispanic soldiers into an entirely black or white night club packed full of drunks. At a more serious level, several scholars have speculated that reaction to stereotypically black names on resumés is as likely to reflect perceived affirmative-action effects or class bias as it is racism — and, indeed, one significant study finds no negative effect for middle-class black names. It is only a bit glib to say that, while “Sharkeshia Freeman” may well face discrimination in the professional job market, “Marcus Freeman” probably will not.

Finally, bias against a whole range of groups seems to be as prevalent as bias against “blacks” or “persons of color,” on those occasions when this is actually measured. The same Gallup polling project that turned up the 8 percent anti-black statistic also found that 7 percent of Americans would never vote for a Catholic candidate, 8 percent would never vote for a woman of any race, 9 percent would never vote for a Hispanic or a Jew, and fully 19 percent would never vote for a practicing Mormon.

These caveats aside, probably the best and broadest response to the fact that some racism exists in present-day America is this simple statement: “To be sure, but we’ve spent an incredible amount of blood and treasure to counteract it.” Although this is almost never said openly these days, the Civil War and the civil-rights movement are over, and the good guys won both. Back in 1954, the Brown v. Board decision brought an end to at least legal de jure segregation, with the government’s writ being enforced, often by armed might. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act made most forms of discrimination civilly if not criminally illegal. Pro-minority affirmative action has been the law of the land since the Philadelphia Plan in 1967. Such diversity-forward programs recently turned 53 years old — and it is rather remarkable how rarely this empirical fact is used as a rebuttal to claims of widespread “white privilege.”

7. At Quillette, Laurence Krauss hones in on the efforts of SJWs to politicize science communities and organizations. From the beginning of the piece:

Social justice activists have been arguing for some time that scientific societies and institutions need to address systemic sexism and racism in STEM disciplines. However, their rationale is often anything but scientific. For example, whenever percentages in faculty positions, test scores, or grant recipients in various disciplines do not match percentages of national average populations, racism or sexism is generally said to be the cause. This is in spite of the fact that no explicit examples of racism or sexism generally accompany the statistics. Correlation, after all, is not causation. Without some underlying mechanism or independent evidence to explain a correlation of observed outcomes with population statistics, inferring racism or sexism in academia as the cause is inappropriate.

One might have hoped for more rigor from the leadership of scientific societies and research institutions. Alas, this has not been the case. In the current climate, many have simply adopted popular rhetoric and the jargon of critical theory has begun to dominate communications by these institutions. Pandering and virtue signalling have begun to generate proactive initiatives by the highest levels of the scientific community, often replacing the focus on science itself. Here are a few examples from the past few weeks alone.

In December, the American Physical Society (APS), the largest society of physicists in the world, sent out a letter to its membership arguing that Trump’s Presidential Executive Order 13950 on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping was “in direct opposition to the core values of the American Physical Society.” The order therefore needed to be rescinded in order to “strengthen America’s scientific enterprise.” The order (since rescinded by Biden) quoted Martin Luther King, stating that in government-supported scientific institutions people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It argued that materials from places like Argonne National Laboratories that equate “color blindness” and “meritocracy” with “actions of bias,” or from Sandia National Laboratories which state that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” is a characteristic of “white male[s],” were inappropriate training materials for government-supported science institutions. It concluded that “it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce.”


The ball certainly became livelier in the late 1920s, and if the stinkeroo Philadelphia Phillies could have a team batting average of over .300 (okay, they did play in the bandbox known as the Baker Bowl), you’d need no more evidence. Although the 1929 squad was not so bad: Its 71-82 record was good enough for Fifth place, with a team .309 batting average, featuring four players (Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul, Don Hurst, and Pinky Whitney) knocking in over 100 runs. The Phillies scored 897 times that season.

Alas, their pitchers gave up 1,036 runs. The team ERA was 6.13.

June was a cruel month. There was one spell in which the Phillies went 3-19, with ten of those defeats witnessing opponents scoring in the double digits.

Could a team have ever had a worse home stand than Philadelphia had that month against the Giants? Making up for some early-season cancellations, New York came into the Baker Bowl for a six-game stint. They won every one of them — and scored a minimum of 11 runs in each victory.

The savagery started on a Wednesday, June 19th doubleheader. In the first game, the Giants took 11 innings to prevail, 15-14. The Phillies had the chance to break a 13-13 tie in the bottom of the 9th, with two on, but they were stranded. Mel Ott’s double in the 11th (he had six ribbies that day) proved the margin of victory. The second game offered no thrills for the 8,500 fans in the Baker Bowl: The Giants drubbed four Philly hurlers for 20 hits on their way to a 12-6 victory.

Thursday saw Carl Hubbell taking on the home team. How many were in attendance has been lost to history, but when Pinky Whitney made the final out, it was another W for the Giants: 17 hits were registered in an 11-6 win.

Friday’s game, before a measly 2,500 fans, was a near carbon-copy outcome, as the Giants smacked three Philadelphia pitchers for 14 hits and an 11-5 victory.

Saturday brought more of the same, and then more more of the same. The first game of a doubleheader (12,000 in attendance) proved a 12-6 New York win, and was nearly echoed in the second game, a 12-5 win that completed a six-game sweep for the Giants.

Overall the Giants had 95 hits, 14 of them home runs (Ott had 5) and pasted the Phillies for a .377 batting average. Six different Giant pitchers would claim victories.

Maybe the Phillies were glad to be heading out of town at the homestand’s conclusion — except for the fact they lost the next three games to the Boston Braves.

A Dios

For patience, we pray, especially when confronted by the obtuse dude driving in the passing lane. Of thanks, given the breathtaking development and release of these vaccines. Of more thanks, for these blessings of Liberty that we continue to enjoy, despite the attacks on them. For that young dad for whom prayers have been sought prior — a year later, it is a miracle that he lives. Buoyed by the knowledge of our prayers, he still battles a variety of cancers, but remains convinced he will triumph, with your help. From your lips to God’s Ears: Oremus.

May He Who Hears All and Knows All Grant All Peace and Solace,

Jack Fowler, awaiting insults about the length of this missive,  and promising to read through bitter tears those sent to

NR Webathon

Attack! Attack! Attack!


Dear Weekend Jolter,

No way to do this with subtlety: Get ready to make a donation. This fact we count on: You are neither a summer soldier nor a sunshine patriot.

Our movement is the champion of The Founding — that thing of 1776, promoted of late in the Commission that the Discombobulated Man from Delaware kyboshed as soon as he wandered into the Oval Office (likely while searching for the basement). It is being sorely contested, truly threatened, on fronts foreign and domestic, on matters cultural and fiscal and spiritual, on the sovereignty of borders and the meaning of “states,” on delusions scientific (pay no attention to the chromosomes hiding behind the curtain!) and biological (are there really more genders than Baskin Robbins’ flavors?) and pigmentary. If only to combat the insane but real threat of “H.R. 1” to the Republic, the dangerous but real threat of Red China to the same (and to the whole wide world), the ghastly but real threat of the “Equality Act” to civil rights, your help is needed, right now, to provide material assistance to National Review while it makes the case for reason and right and traditional and heritage and decency. While we charge into the enemy lines.

We cannot — no way in Heck — do this minus your real help. Not interested? Go in peace! But if you do contend, as we do, that facing us is a battle that requires the efforts of all conservatives, we ask you to consider this: We are in the first days of a webathon, seeking to raise $250,000 — to bring ammunition and support as we fight this epic fight (never mind a contrived court battle in defense of the First Amendment with Michael Mann, now plodding towards its ninth year of contrivance and sloth and seven-figure expense). We seek this on behalf of our mutual beliefs. On behalf of this last best hope on earth. On behalf of National Review’s beliefs, which also happen to be your beliefs.

To date this campaign has witnessed nearly a thousand wonderful people contributing a total of some $115,000. This is quite heartening. But the goal remains distant. If you can spare some assistance — selfless and, from us, deeply appreciated — to help us reach it, to provide us with ammo, please do so. Done here, securely. And, again, with our thanks. Now you must pardon us . . . Fix Bayonets!



Bully Boy Veering into comeuppance: A Whole New Dimension to Andrew Cuomo’s Disgrace

Pushing Back Silicon Valley: A Conservative Technology-Policy Agenda Should Begin with the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act

Labor pains: PRO Act: Democrats’ Labor Union Giveaway Bill An Anti-Worker Nightmare

Suicide of the west: Democrats’ Voting Rights “For the People” HR 1 Bill Is a Scandal

Borders on insanity: The Biden Crisis that Dare Not Speak Its Name

What’s the antidote for this poison: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: Democrat Police-Reform Bill Would Not Advance Justice


Manyin Li: China’s New World Order Revealed in Translated Speeches

Ralph Norman and Joe Wilson: China’s Confucius Institutes Threaten American Educational Institutions and National Security

Kevin Williamson: China Present Ideological Challenge to American-Led Global Order

Andrew A. Michta: Globalist Empire and the ‘Liberal World Order’

Andrew C. McCarthy: Cuomo’s Water Gets Hotter

Ingrid Jacques: Governor Whitmer Is the Andrew Cuomo of the Midwest

Andrew Roberts: Winston Churchill’s Woke Critics Engage in Falsehoods

Alexandra DeSanctis: Amazon and Ryan Anderson: Company Says It Won’t Sell Books Framing Transgenderism as ‘Mental Illness’

Kyle Smith: Dr. Seuss & Jake Tapper: Left’s Cancel Culture Slippery Slope

David Harsanyi: Biden Prepares to Strip College Students of Due-Process Rights

Devon Westhill: When Academic Achievement Means ‘Acting White’

Dan McLaughlin: Clarence Thomas Delivers Decisive Win for Religious Free Speech

Rich Lowry: H.R. 1 Is a Partisan Disgrace

Kaj Relwof: The Left Launches a Two-Pronged Assault on American Democracy

Isaac Shorr: Civil Asset-Forfeiture Reform: Congress Must Act Now

Brian T. Allen: The Frick Collection and Modernism — Perfect Together


Robert P. O’Quinn finds an absolute disconnect: COVID Relief Bill Wastes More Than a Trillion Dollars

Wayne Crews sees through the lack of transparency: Tyrannosaurus Regs and Regulatory Dark Matter: Biden’s Accountability Deficit on Regulation

Donald Devine thinks they’re gaming the market: Managing the Economy: More Than the Federal Reserve Can Do

Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena want to turn back the clock: Daylight Saving Time: Unpopular Standard Should Be Ended


Armond White sees a duds’ dud: Khaite FW21 — Sean Baker’s Fashion Week Faux Pas

More Armond: Coming 2 America: Eddie Murphy Sequel a Comic Triumph

Kyle Smith not raving for Raya: Disney’s Droopy Dragon Tale Puts Inclusivity above Story

More Kyle, who wades into Oliver’s memoir: Oliver Stone’s Cinema of Excess

Even More Kyle, and more Oliver, and more confliction: Filmmaker Oliver Stone’s Career Shows Fierce Commitment and Craziness



1. The case against Andrew Cuomo, governor and tomcat: From the editorial:

Needless to say, if the rules Democrats applied to Brett Kavanaugh were still operative — a mere accusation, if even vaguely plausible, and sometimes not even that, is enough to sink someone — Cuomo would be gone yesterday. His accusers, without any apparent coordination, several of them his own former aides rather than political enemies, are describing a consistent pattern of behavior that doesn’t require any wild leaps of faith to believe. What’s more, in the case of Anna Ruch, we have an actual photo of the behavior — and Ruch’s facial expression makes clear that she is not welcoming Cuomo’s hands on each side of her face.

Andrew Cuomo is an impulsive, temperamental, sometimes-raging, often-bullying egomaniac prone to spectacular failures of self-awareness, and it’s notable that no one who knows the governor is exclaiming, “Talking to female underlings about their sex lives and pressuring them for a relationship? That just doesn’t sound like the Andrew Cuomo I know!”

Some of Cuomo’s denials have been carefully couched, or he’s claimed that his attempts at friendly banter or, incredibly enough, mentorship have been misunderstood.

By his own standards, too, he should also be gone yesterday — he was eager to get in front of the “me too” parade when it was politically convenient, and he even changed New York’s law to make the standard for harassment lower in a way that might come back to bite him now.

2. We argue that proper response to Big Tech’s disruption of media should be the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act. From the editorial:

It’s no secret that conservatives have been divided over what to do about this situation. Some want to tighten regulation of tech companies or even to break up the biggest players. Others believe that the cure of government intervention would be worse than the ills we have now. While that debate continues, though, conservatives should consider a bipartisan proposal to foster a healthy market for news through a bit of deregulation.

The bill is called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. Its sponsors include House antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D., R.I.) and his Republican counterpart Ken Buck (Colo.). In the Senate, it is sponsored by John Kennedy (R., La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.). It is one of the rare pieces of legislation that both Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) support.

It would allow news publishers to band together to negotiate with Google and Facebook over compensation for the use of news content. The publishers would have a limited exemption from antitrust laws for this purpose. The federal government, note, would not be providing news outlets with taxpayer money or requiring the tech companies to pay them specified terms. It would simply be getting out of the way while they reached a deal on a more level field. Given that the main purpose of antitrust law is to help consumers by promoting competition, it is perverse to apply it in a way that aids behemoths while reducing the quantity, quality, and diversity of news offerings.

3. The “PRO” Act is a con on the American people: From the editorial:

Why would a worker want to avoid joining a union? Wouldn’t they prefer to have someone looking out for their interests? That might be the case — if American workers were naïve enough to believe that the Teamsters and the other unions are looking out for their interests, rather than looking out for the interests of, say, a union boss’s brother getting paid a $42-an-hour wage on a New York City construction site while operating a coffee concession. There are, as it turns out, a great many blue-collar workers not much interested in paying for the privilege of enriching politically connected labor leaders who do no real work.

Beyond the corruption and the desire to be free of union politics, other workers have practical, bottom-line reasons for wishing to remain free of union entanglements. For instance, owner-operators involved in long-haul trucking cut their own deals with their clients, working on their own terms rather than on terms set by a union boss. They can do that even where a union already is present. Under the PRO Act, some of these independent operators would risk being reclassified as employees — meaning reclassified out of business. That is because of the second prong of the ABC test insists that independent contractors must be engaged in incidental work rather than core business activities — owner-operators who do drive for trucking services (as opposed to contracting with a farm or a construction company) wouldn’t pass the test to qualify as independent contractors.

4. It took less than two months for Joe Biden to create a crisis on America’s southern border. From the editorial:

The Biden administration has opened up one tent city and is planning more. And it has eliminated the social-distancing guidelines that had limited how many migrants could be kept in shelters.

Indications are that parents are sending the minors — and sometimes traveling with them up to the border and then splitting up — in the belief that they will gain entry into the United States and never leave.

This is a well-founded belief. Only about 4 percent of minors who have come to the United States in recent years have been returned home. They are released to relatives in the U.S., who are also likely to be illegal immigrants, and even if they are eventually ordered removed, we don’t have the resources or the will to see that it happens.

The latest border surge is entirely Biden’s doing. That his rhetoric and policies would create a new crisis was predictable, and indeed, it was predicted.

5. “H.R. 1” is a dagger aimed at the heart of America, with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer holding the handle: From the article:

States have long experience running elections, and different states have taken different approaches suited to their own locales and populations. The federal government traditionally intervened only to prevent serious abuses of voting rights. H.R. 1 would upend that balance for no good reason, wrecking carefully refined state regimes for securing the vote. It also throws out much of the work of federal election laws passed with extensive bipartisan support in 1993 and 2002.

The first target is to wipe out state laws that allow voters to be checked against a preexisting list of registrations. H.R. 1 mandates that states provide same-day registration and allow people to change their name and address on the rolls at the polling place on Election Day, then forbids states from treating their votes as provisional ballots that can be checked later. It mandates online registration without adequate safeguards against hackers. It mandates automated registration of people who apply for unemployment, Medicaid, Obamacare, and college, or who are coming out of prison. The bill’s authors expect this to register noncitizens: They create a safe harbor against prosecution of noncitizens who report that they have been erroneously registered.

H.R. 1 bars states from checking with other states for duplicate registrations within six months of an election. It bars removing former voters from the rolls for failure to vote or to respond to mailings. Outside election observers are an important check on the system; H.R. 1 bars anyone but an election official from challenging a voter’s eligibility to vote on Election Day — thus insulating Democrat-run precincts from scrutiny.

6. The “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” doesn’t have a single thing to do with justice. From the editorial:

Consider, for starters, its declaration that any indication that law-enforcement “interviews, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, frisks and other types of body searches” have had a disparate impact on individuals of different races constitutes “prima facie evidence” of racial profiling.

This is absurd. There are bound to be disparities in such police interactions because there are disparities in crime rates. Obviously, law enforcement shouldn’t be pressured to bend to ideological demands while ignoring on-the-ground realities. Worse, the bill makes officers liable for these disparities — over which they have no control — and forces them to prove they aren’t guilty of wrong-doing if taken to court, rather than the other way around.

Disparities based on the characteristics of “ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation” too are considered prima facie evidence of profiling. The same problems that apply to race apply to each of these, but let’s consider gender in particular. Ninety-two percent of the U.S. prison population is male. That’s because men commit the vast majority of crimes in this country. To avoid potential legal action, law-enforcement officers and agencies will need to either manufacture reasons to stop, frisk, and perform more searches on more women, or stop men far less often. Both approaches would be insane and represent a step backwards from equal treatment under the law.

So Many Stupendous Articles, So Little Time

1. Attention! This is quite important. Manyin Li translates important speeches of Red China’s leaders CCP plenaries. The SOBs admit what they’re up to. From the article:

The Third Movement: Tactics to ‘Squeeze Out’ the U.S.

The U.S. asks China to share responsibilities but is unwilling to share power. We need to press the U.S. to do so. My surmise is that we are not going to have war against the U.S., but we will squeeze it out [of the South Sea and Taiwan Strait]. This is quite probable.

The U.S. is a real democracy with diversity, more democratic than any other democracies in the West. The upside is people having the freedom to express their views; the downside is the difficulty in getting consensus. For the U.S., the best situation is to have only one external enemy. If there are two, it would be at its wits’ end. That was the situation before WWII. One enemy was the black threat from Nazi Germany; the other the red threat from the Soviet Union. Americans fought among themselves on the question “Who is our real enemy?” I guess that Americans would be totally disoriented if there were three or four enemies. China’s strategy is to ensure that the U.S. has four enemies: the terrorists for a sure one; Russia, likely, but maybe there is insufficient animosity yet; Brazil is a potential one. China tried to prop up Brazil, because it has the potential to become a power. Brazil, however, is not motivated and, therefore, not supportable. One more trick is to ensure that the U.S. be trapped in debt crisis.

China used to consider itself a regional power. President Xi is the first leader who designates China a world power, hence, a nation with a global strategy. It has two pillars: The first is looking westward and called “One Belt One Road,” which will create physical connections between East Asia, West Asia, Africa and Europe by railroads, highways, pipelines, gas lines, optical cables, seaports, transportation hubs, and airports to form a huge network. The second pillar is the “Asian-Pacific Free Trade Zone.” Looking eastward, it was written into the declaration of the 2014 APEC meeting.

There are only two countries in the world with global strategies: China and the U.S. . . .

In the past 25 years since the end of the Cold War, who has gained the most substantial benefits? China, the U.S., or Russia? It is China! The one who has lost most is the U.S. After becoming the only superpower in the world, the U.S. could beat whomever it wants. The U.S. has compared itself to God. But God is a jealous old man, so He punished the U.S. How? By letting it attack two fools [Iraq, Afghanistan] without any strategic value. . . . The U.S. has been trapped in these wars with $60 trillion spent, 10,000 deaths, and ten years wasted. During this period, China has risen as a power. Militarily, the U.S. won the wars, but strategically, it lost.

2. Red China’s notorious Confucious Institute at American universities are a threat toi them, and to our national security, argue Congressmen Ralph Norman and Joe Wilson. From the analysis:

Under the direction of top officials in the CCP’s Office of Overseas Propaganda, China has established a network of 50 so-called Confucius Institutes at American educational institutions. In 2009, Li Changchun, then head of agitprop for the CCP, called these outposts “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Their M.O. is simple: China gives American host institutions cash, and CCP operatives get to teach a distorted, regime-friendly history of the Chinese state to American students. Meanwhile, those same operatives get to live in close proximity to all the resources of our modern research universities, and to important inside information about the sensitive, and often taxpayer-funded, activities of our brightest minds.

American institutions of higher education are not the only targets of the CCP’s influence, however. While Confucius Institutes are often headquartered on university campuses, their reach extends to every level of education. By offering Chinese teachers to schools around the country, the CCP has successfully built a series of ‘Confucius Classrooms’ at many K–12 schools around the country. For thousands of American schoolchildren today, the first exposure to China comes from carefully selected Communist apparatchiks.

This is the threat that our nation faces today: An attack on truth. An attack on our institutions. An attack on our children. An attack on our way of life.

3. Kevin Williamson looks through the bombsight and sees the ChiCom threat to Uncle Sam. From the article:

Here in the United States, we naturally prefer a national politics to a world politics: We are the most powerful nation. And for as long as we have been the most powerful nation, we have looked with dread and suspicion on whichever nation is No. 2: Great Britain, once upon a time, but also Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and, now, China. Americans are particularly fearful of the Asian economic superman of myth and lore, a tireless laborer who subsists on a cup of rice a day and with whom no American can compete while enjoying a decent standard of living. Donald Trump spent the 1980s complaining that Japan was about to eat our national lunch once and for all and, when that did not come to pass, he moved on to China. Before Japan, there was the Eurasian economic superman of the Soviet Union, where rapid forced industrialization produced an economic transformation that convinced a generation of America’s most gullible that Stalin had cracked the code. (“I have seen the future, and it works,” the progressive reformer Lincoln Steffens said of Soviet society.) Perhaps one day India or Korea will surpass China as the Asian economic superman of some future generation.

As the Chinese journalist and policy thinker Jin Canrong (about whom you can find some interesting material here in National Review, where Manyin Li has gone to the trouble of translating some of his speeches) sees it, second banana to the United States is a position that necessarily comes with great and unique geopolitical risk. His analysis is plausible from a certain point of view: Of course the United States does not desire to be supplanted as top dog, and things did indeed work out pretty poorly for former challengers; the Soviet Union no longer exists, having been transformed into a pathetic gangster state, while Japan has entered a long period of economic and cultural stagnation. The collapse of the USSR looms large in the thought of Xi Jinping, who understands it as the result of the ideological and moral decline of the Soviet Communist Party, while the belief that Washington is engaged in a ceaseless active conspiracy to topple the Chinese Communist Party is a commonplace of Chinese political discourse.

Beyond politics proper, commerce and culture have emigrated to the Internet, which is dominated by U.S.-based firms: The European Union does not have a single technology company comparable to Google, Facebook, or Apple. From Beijing’s point of view, an Internet dominated by Amazon and Google is, in effect, one dominated by Washington. China’s Internet companies have been mostly China-oriented, although Beijing intends to see that change — and Chinese leaders surely see U.S. efforts to police Chinese technology companies such as Huawei and Lenovo in a different light than Americans do. Americans see a democratic government in a country with an open economy protecting itself from the agents of a predatory police state; Beijing sees a hegemon deviously expanding its borders.

4. Andrew A. Michta argues that America cannot pay a terrible price for the liberal world order. From the article:

At the root of America’s decline since its victory in the Cold War lies ideological hubris that has defined the path to globalist empire that would manifest fully in the decades of post–Cold War triumphalism. In foreign and security policy for three decades now, our elites have pursued with near-religious zeal the fantasy of a “liberal global order” underwritten, presumably indefinitely, by American military power. Amidst the declarations that “history has ended” and the United States had a duty to seize its “unipolar moment,” few paused to think of the ghastly collectivist nature of the imperial project that was suddenly on offer. As our political establishment’s imperial ambitions grew, its concern over the impact at home largely dissipated, with trillions invested in overseas projects rather than spent on modern infrastructure, education, and the health of American citizens. At that moment of Washington’s triumph over the Soviet Union, the only question asked — now that America’s power was no longer checked by a superpower adversary — was what the United States could do to reshape the world in its image. Not once did it pause to ask if it should do this just because it could.

The triumph of globalist ideology was fueled by the fervent belief among our policy and business elites that America was poised to consummate the final stage in the natural order of societal evolution. Presumably the offshoring of manufacturing and transnational financial flows would lead to a final incarnation of Kantian democratic peace, while also allowing American corporations to leverage labor arbitrage in China as they moved away from the American market and into a global market, in the process shooting the corporate bottom line into the proverbial stratosphere. Meanwhile Washington’s permanent foreign-policy and national-security apparatus readied itself to preside over an unprecedented extension of its power and influence into ever-expanding geographic and political domains.

The post–Cold War American imperial project rested on an initially correct assessment of the relative power distribution worldwide. Indeed, for a fleeting moment in 1991, for the first time since 1945, America was truly paramount on a global scale by all indices of economic and military power. Briefly it seemed to have also gained an undisputed ideological license, for even Russia, its most sworn erstwhile enemy, threw itself headlong into its own democratic capitalist experiment, only to recognize within a decade that culture and deeply ingrained behavioral patterns — buttressed by the unyielding logic of geography — often define what is possible. The reality check and course correction for the Washington consensus should have been the implosion of Yeltsin’s corrupt Russian state, for the 2000 inauguration of Vladimir Putin as the new president was a clear and tangible repudiation of America’s liberal internationalists’ theorizing.

5. Geeze it’s getting awfully hot up in Albany. Andrew C. McCarthy wacthes Andrew Cuomo’s scandals-sweat. From the piece:

On Monday, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, appointed two well-regarded lawyers to investigate Cuomo’s sexual-harassment scandal. By then, as NR’s Brittany Bernstein reported on Sunday, two more women had come forward to allege abusive behavior by the governor, bringing the total to five. The lawyers are deeply experienced, one in criminal investigations, the other in harassment litigation.

Joon Kim is the criminal-law expert. He was a top assistant to Preet Bharara, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, when the SDNY conducted an extensive corruption investigation of Cuomo’s administration. Kim, who became acting U.S. attorney for ten months when then-President Donald Trump removed Bharara in 2017, was involved in the eventual prosecution and 2018 conviction of Cuomo’s top aide, Joseph Percoco, on several felony charges. Though his administration was deeply implicated in the probe, which centered on Cuomo’s shutting down of an anti-corruption commission he had established with great fanfare, the governor himself was not charged in the case.

The harassment-law expert is Anne Clarke. She is a partner at a New York City firm, where she specializes in employment litigation. The New York Times reports that she has represented several plaintiffs in sexual-harassment claims, arising in both government and private-sector contexts.

The governor will not get that warm and cozy feeling at the prospect of an investigation, ordered by Attorney General James (a fellow Democrat, but a potential challenger for his job from the progressive left), which will be run by both a former prosecutor who has already studied Cuomo through the lens of political corruption, and an employment lawyer whose clients have been very much like the women who are Cuomo’s accusers. The investigators will have subpoena power, which could be used to compel testimony from the governor himself. They will report weekly to James on their progress.

6. Out in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer has been channeling Andrew Cuomo. Ingrid Jacques explains. From the piece:

Whitmer may now regret her chummy relationship with Cuomo. Given the recent bombshell that Cuomo and his staff fudged New York’s numbers to make the state’s nursing-home deaths appear rosier than they were, it’s extremely apparent that public officials can’t be trusted to be open with citizens, regardless of how many times they say “science and data” (one of Whitmer’s favorite catchphrases) are guiding their decisions.

The Democratic New York attorney general took a close look at the numbers and found the discrepancies in reporting undercounted nursing-home deaths by more than 50 percent. The state had not included deaths of nursing-home residents when they took place in hospitals. This revelation has prompted an investigation by the FBI and Justice Department.

In Michigan, the more than 5,500 deaths in long-term-care facilities account for a third of COVID deaths in the state — as far as we know, given lack of transparency from both Whitmer and the state Health Department.

Whitmer refused to back down for months from her initial executive order instructing nursing homes and other similar facilities to take on hospital patients with COVID-19. The governor was warned early on by the head of the state’s elder-care association not to do this, but she did so anyway. And she continued the misguided policy, despite several bipartisan attempts from the Michigan legislature to alter the mandate.

It wasn’t until late September that she changed course — and not until November that she signed legislation making it official.

7. Andrew Roberts pushes back against the Churchill’s-a-Racist claptrappers at an egghead conference in Britain: From the piece:

“The British Empire was far worse than the Nazis,” claimed Professor Andrews. “It lasted far longer; it killed far many more people.” This abominable lie went entirely unchallenged at Churchill College, even though it is demonstrably untrue under any metric one cares to choose. Under the British Empire, for example, the population of India nearly tripled, whereas the population of Poland fell by 17 percent under the Nazis. Under the British Empire, life expectancy for Indians doubled, whereas the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews. Under the British Empire, education, communications, infrastructure, medicine, freedom of speech, parliamentary institutions, the rule of law, universities, economic development, and domestic peace hugely flourished in the majority of places for the majority of the time, whereas in the Nazi Empire most were all but destroyed.

The specious parallel between the British Empire and the Nazi regime was taken a step further with the claim that Churchill himself espoused views in line with the genocidal ideology that underpinned the Nazis’. Professor Andrews stated that “this idea that Jewish people get racialized into the subhumans who the Nazis then dispose of, that very much is eugenics, and that very much is the racial science which, again, Mr. Churchill was absolutely supportive of.” Of course the professor was right to assert that what the Nazis practiced in their attempted extermination of Jews as a race was based on Hitler’s profound belief in the “racial science” of eugenics. He was totally wrong, however, to present Churchill as an avowed eugenicist.

In fact, Churchill flirted briefly with the notion of eugenics, for 18 months during his time as home secretary. Having read a pamphlet about Indiana’s state-administered “sterilization of degenerates,” which seemed to him to present a persuasive and humane argument for eugenics on the grounds of mental incapacitation, Churchill in 1910 argued for the inclusion of this policy in the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. He soon realized the implications such a policy would have on civil liberties — of which he was always a staunch defender — and quickly and firmly abandoned the idea. He is also often accused of personally attending eugenics conferences, which is completely untrue.

8. Alexandra DeSanctis has the update on Amazon’s censure of science (and Ryan Anderson). From the article:

The company’s announcement came in a letter to Republican senators, who inquired of the selling and shipping giant why it had, without explanation, ceased selling Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally.

As Ryan has pointed out, nowhere in his book does he refer to those who experience gender dysphoria as “mentally ill,” nor have any of his critics bothered to explain why they haven’t identified a single passage where he does so. Nevertheless, his book was the first to go in Amazon’s new crusade to silence those who oppose leftist orthodoxy on sex and gender.

The decision is troubling enough as a standalone matter, as several writers have already written here at NRO. Are we to take this as a sign that questioning society’s wholesale adoption of sex-reassignment surgery and hormonal gender “transition,” even for young children, is henceforth anathema? Even though “detransitioning” is a very real phenomenon, even though most children who experience gender dysphoria later desist, even though some have found Ryan’s book helpful in their struggle with gender dysphoria?

But perhaps more troubling is what this move portends for a host of cultural issues. How long until the social-justice mob, or its acolytes within Amazon, decide it’s harmful to women to insist that abortion kills an innocent human being or to defend religious freedom in the face of secular bigotry?

9. Kyle Smith recasts Jake Tapper as the Cat on the Aluminum Hat. From the article:

It has become a commonplace to Tapper and the rest of the left-wing media to conflate “racist” and “racial.” But there is a difference here, and that difference is the element of hatred. Theodor Geisel’s WWII-propaganda cartoons of Japanese troops can fairly be described as racist: There’s hate in them. However, given that the U.S. and Japan were at war, it seems safe to say that mean cartoons were the least salient variety of 1940s hostility. When two cultures are engaged in mass-slaughtering one another, I think we can take it as a given that they’re not thinking kind thoughts.

As for the images in Geisel’s kids’ books, some are clearly outdated. The cartoon most likely to give offense in the six de-published books, from If I Ran the Zoo (1950), depicts goofy creatures from “the African island of Yerka” who look like upright pot-bellied monkeys with rings through their noses. Since many Dr. Seuss characters are non-humans, this could be a way of anthropomorphizing animals in a silly way, but to many contemporary readers it looks more like the reverse: animal-izing humans by making a hateful comparison between black men and monkeys. Certainly it’s the kind of image that a cartoonist would shun today; parents reading the book to children today might skip that page.

The other two images Geisel’s detractors most often cite involve Asian features. Another drawing from If I Ran the Zoo shows a cartoon of three proud-looking Asian men (who “wear their eyes at a slant”) carrying on their heads a cage containing a bird-beast. “Empirically racist”? I see no hatred in this image. It’s a caricature, and caricatures are by their nature unfair, reductive, and disproportionate, but there’s no obvious malice in this one. In To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street — notable both for being the first Dr. Seuss book and for being the only one (as far as I know) whose title refers back to Geisel’s proud hometown of Springfield, Mass., and hence an emblem of regional pride — there is (or was) “a Chinaman who eats with sticks” (yellow skin, traditional Chinese dress, an eye rendered as a slash mark, chopsticks). “Chinaman” became offensive long after the book was written and was replaced in recent editions with “Chinese man,” but the image isn’t clearly hate-driven. A reasonable person might describe it as racist. Another reasonable person might see it as moderately offensive. Another reasonable person might see it as mildly offensive.

10. David Harsanyi sounds the alarm as Joe Biden (remember — he’s also a constitutional law professor!) is preparing to strip accused college students of due-process rights. From the piece:

It was only in 2011 that the Obama administration instituted fewer due-process rights through the force of law, denying the accused the ability to question accusers, the right to review the allegations and evidence presented by their accuser, the right to present exculpatory evidence, and the right to call witnesses. Basically, the right to mount a defense.

It was the Obama administration that asked schools to institute a system that empowered a single investigator, often without any training and susceptible to the vagaries of societal and political pressures, to pass unilateral judgment on these cases. Also, under the Obama administration rules, colleges were allowed to adjudicate sexual abuse and assault cases using a “preponderance of evidence” rather than a more stringent “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

Now, Jennifer Klein, the “Gender Policy Council” co-chair and chief of staff to First Lady Jill Biden, says “everybody involved” in a sexual complaint, “accused and accuser,” should be entitled to due process.

11. Devon Westhill takes on the destructive mindset that an “A” grade means “acting white.” From the piece:

As the debate over curricula rages on, the approach in Oregon and other math departments to engage students of color focuses not on what is taught but instead on how it is taught. It should face the same scrutiny and similar condemnation as the 1619 Project.

In the 1980s and 1990s, when I was a youth in the American South, there existed an unfortunate element in the subculture of poor blacks — within which I was a member. To show a desire to learn or to do well academically was criticized as “acting white” or considered effeminate for boys and men. I remember it well.

I didn’t live in what now are called “predominately communities of color”; my family always lived in solely black communities. In the neighborhood that I spent my adolescence and teenage years, I remember my mother being the only white person in the community.

This destructive part of southern poor black subculture meant that nearly all of the black boys in my neighborhoods — including me — shunned schooling or, at least, did well to pretend they disliked learning. At that time and place, appearing to be a race traitor or homosexual were two of the worst sins one could commit. I’m confident this element contributed to many of the black youths I knew turning to more culturally glamorized delinquency and ultimately, to trouble with the law, drugs, and the many other problems reflected in statistics on young black men.

12. Clarence Thomas drops the hammer in favor of religious free speech. Dan McLaughlin hears every word of it.: From the analysis:

Judicial conservatives have long taken a hard line on standing to sue where injury and traceability are not pleaded and proven, precisely to prevent activist judges from expanding their lawmaking writ beyond cases where somebody was actually harmed. And they have also joined the judicial voices that caution against novel extensions of redressability. In Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26 (1976), for example, the Court held that indigents who had been denied medical treatment by nonprofit hospitals had suffered an injury (because the hospitals were required to provide medical services to the poor), but that they did not have standing to sue to strip the hospitals of nonprofit status, because they had no personal stake in the hospitals’ tax benefits. In Sprint Communications Co. v. APCC Services (2008), Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, joined by Justice Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Samuel Alito, against the majority’s finding that a plaintiff’s economic injury was redressable where the plaintiff had assigned all the benefits of the judgment to another party. Justice Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch have begun arguing as well that the question of how much of a federal statute to strike down should be a matter of what parts of a statute the court needs to invalidate in order to give relief to the plaintiff in the case, rather than a matter of “severability.” But a historically and analytically proper analysis of redress and mootness does not always mean turning away cases or limiting relief. Justice Thomas, in the recent Pennsylvania election case, criticized the Court for using the mootness doctrine to duck issues of ongoing importance in election law.

Today, in Uzuegbunam, Thomas wrote the majority opinion in an 8–1 decision finding that a suit for nominal damages for a violation of noneconomic constitutional rights can be maintained in federal court. Much of the decision, in originalist fashion, traced the common-law history of nominal damages, which were originally disfavored but gained acceptance in the English common law after a 1703 decision by the House of Lords (Britain’s highest judicial body) in a case involving the denial of the right to vote. As Justice Thomas wrote, the Court rejected “the flawed premise that nominal damages are purely symbolic, a mere judicial token that provides no actual benefit to the plaintiff.” Chief Justice Roberts dissented alone (a rare sight), arguing that the history was less clear and that the Court should not exceed its modest role.

13. Rich Lowry slams H.R. 1 for being disgraceful and partisan. From the piece:

According to advocates of the bill, anything to tighten up or maintain good practices regarding ballot security is “voter suppression” worthy of the old Jim Crow South.

By this way of thinking, Republican efforts at the state level to, say, reduce the days available for early voting — Iowa is reducing its early-voting period from 29 days to 20 days — will disenfranchise millions, never mind that deep-blue New York State allows only about a week of early voting.

Voter-identification laws, a bogeyman of supporters of H.R. 1, were recommended by a 2005 bipartisan commission jointly led by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, neither of whom will ever be mistaken for Bull Connor. Not too long ago, it was a feature of big bipartisan voting bills to require states to periodically clean up their voter rolls, another commonsense measure that is now considered tantamount to wielding billy clubs and police dogs.

There may be many problems besetting American democracy, but people turning out to vote isn’t one of them. Turnout exploded in the 2018 midterms before the pandemic, and turnout exploded in 2020 during the pandemic, with both Democrats who availed themselves of early voting and Republicans who voted same day showing up in historic numbers.

In response largely to a non-problem, Democrats want to trample on the prerogatives of states to conduct elections, mandating their electoral priorities throughout the land.

14. The Left is hellbent to destroy America as we know it, via a two-prong attack on the Electoral College and state-election integrity. From the beginning of the piece:

A full-out assault on our election system — a two-pronged project of the Democratic Party and the vast and crazy-funded left-wing conspiracy — is underway, threatening a radical transformation of our republic, making mincemeat of the notion of states (those things currently considered “united”), and erasing our Declaration’s assurance that America operates via “the consent of the governed.”

Can this actually come to pass?

Well, can Joe Biden be elected president? So, yes — fret.

This effort’s success may prove dependent upon a passive, dispirited, and divided conservatism. Our movement’s central tenet — to protect the Founding — demands a rousing, a call to arms, and forceful and determined counterattack that gives no quarter and allows for no sunshine patriots.

When you’re a bull, and when you’re trying to gut the last best hope of earth, two prongs are better than one. The one of more immediate concern protrudes from Capitol Hill, where Democrats have unleashed the “For the People Act.” Granted the legislative prestige of being designated “H.R. 1,” the massive proposal would dismantle our election system by federalizing election laws, appropriating the constitutional rights of states to oversee the ballot box, hampering protected political speech, exposing and intimidating donors, making hash of voter verification and restrictions on voter registration, and burying once and for all the notion of an Election Day. It is nothing less than a partisan assault on our democracy.

15. Civil-asset-forfeiture remains a big problem. Congress needs to fix it, says Isaac Schorr. From the piece:

To understand the way that civil asset forfeiture works in this country is to be shocked by it. Law-enforcement agencies, if they have probable cause to believe that property — be it cash, a vehicle, or anything else — has any connection to a crime, can seize it. Then they need only charge the property, not its owner, with such a connection in order to keep it. Property owners are not entitled to representation in such cases and are forced to sink money into proving they had no knowledge of their property’s connection to a crime. Oftentimes, those legal costs exceed the worth of the property forfeited.

Putting an end to this practice should be an easily agreed-upon priority when it comes to criminal-justice reform. The civil asset-forfeiture process in Arizona and many other states around the country assumes an owner’s culpability without asking the state to prove it, replacing a pillar of the American legal system — “innocent until proven guilty” — with its opposite. This injustice may be obscured by the fact that owners themselves are not charged with a crime, but their guilt is nevertheless an assumption that must be overcome for them to recoup their property. Moreover, the incentive structure is a pernicious one: Law-enforcement officers are provided with motivation to be overzealous in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, since police departments are allowed to supplement their budgets with the property they seize, while property owners have motivation to cede their property without putting up a fight, given the burden of proof they must meet and the substantial legal costs they might incur by pursuing the matter.

16. What the Frick?! Brian Allen says, yes. From the review:

There were already two mood makers, though, just steps from the elevator. Jean Barbet’s Angel, from 1475, four feet tall and bronze, is alone, erect, and frosty, and about as angelic as Mrs. Danvers welcoming Rebecca to Manderley. The first painting I saw was the small, ghostly, arresting grisaille, Three Soldiers, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I’d never noticed it before in my hundreds of visits to the Frick. Immediately, in the next space, are the Holbeins.

The arrangement of art is Spartan throughout. Mostly, it’s one painting per wall. Two Hals portraits in the next space were a respite. They might not be laughing, but they look hearty and happy, and we can assume the burgomaster in one didn’t send the old lady in the other to the chopping block. Then the Rembrandt Self-Portrait, from 1658, the Portrait of Nicolaes Ruts, from 1631, and The Polish Rider, from around 1655, are together in their own niche.

That’s a jaw-dropping trio. At the old Frick, the art wasn’t arranged by country but by Henry Clay Frick, with tweaks here and there. It was never hodgepodge. Things just weren’t hung via art history. Now that it’s by country, “Dutch School” here, we see Rembrandt’s evolution from young to old painter.

Frick bought lots of portraits, so we can see the same changes in style in van Dyke and Gainsborough over time but also the tactics of, say, Gainsborough and Reynolds. In the two late Rembrandts, it’s not only the subjects that stop us in our tracks. Every sweeping, thick brushstroke coaxes from brown every nuance a color can have.

Capital Matters

1. Biden’s honkin’ stimulus project is a staggering waste of taxpayer money, says Robert P. O’Quinn. From the piece:

The bill would provide $350 billion to state, district, territorial, tribal, and local governments. Despite the COVID-19 recession, state and local tax revenues were down only 0.7 percent, or $7.6 billion, comparing the first nine months of 2020 with the first nine months of 2019. State and local tax revenues have fallen less than in previous recessions because (1) job losses have been concentrated among low-wage workers who pay less in state income taxes, (2) stock and housing prices have increased, boosting state income tax revenues from capital gains, and (3) the CARES Act maintained consumption, which supported income and sales-tax revenues. Last year, the federal government provided state, district, territorial, tribal, and local governments with $535 billion. While a few states and localities face severe financial challenges, most do not. Combined, the idea is to send state government almost a trillion dollars, even though their shortfall was virtually nonexistent.

The bill would provide another $170 billion to schools, colleges, and universities on top of the $113 billion that Congress has already provided. This is not stimulus — less than 8 percent would be spent during this fiscal year — but rather, a payoff to teacher unions. The bill would provide $86 billion for bailing out a CBO-estimated 185 “critical and declining” union-negotiated multi-employer pension plans that have more than 1.5 million participants. Without requiring any reforms to make these pension plans sound, Democrats are simply shoveling cash so that these plans, including the 18 plans that have suspended paying benefits, can pay full benefits for the next 30 years. Since most of these plans are in the entertainment, manufacturing, mining, and trucking industries, unions such as the American Federation of Musicians, the Bakery and Confectionary Union, the United Mine Workers, and the Teamsters would benefit from this Democratic generosity.

2. It’s time, Says Steve Hanke and Christopher Arena, to dump Daylight Savings. From the piece:

Daylight saving time, along with time zones, is a major contributor to what’s known as “social jet lag.” Social jet lag occurs as a result of the difference between one’s biological clock (read: circadian rhythm), which is determined by natural phenomena such as when the sun is up or down, and one’s social clock, which is determined by man-made schedules and time structures such as the 9–5 workday, time zones, and daylight saving. Daylight saving’s contribution to social jet lag exacerbates the difference between our biological and social clocks by an additional hour, causing a mismatch between our sleep and awake rhythms and our body’s other physiological functions. In short, with the annual rejection of our natural circadian rhythm, our body clocks are thrown out of whack, resulting, among other things, in serious damage to our health.

Because our body clocks don’t adapt to the artificial construct of daylight saving time, there is an associated increase in the risk for metabolic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions, as well as higher blood pressure and breast cancer. In addition to these long-term health effects, DST contributes to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes. Social jet lag also contributes to an increased likelihood of depression, lower productivity, and a diminished level of performance in the classroom. And, in keeping with the common negative effects associated with a sudden loss in sleep, the switch to DST contributes to an acute increase in workplace accidents and emergency-room visits. In the U.S., fatal car crashes increase by as much as 6 percent in the week following the switch to daylight savings time.

3. Wayne Crews finds that Biden’s clean-out of Trump regulations have demoed transparency. From the analysis:

As of late 2020, I found that over 73,000 documents had been included in agencies’ portals. It is these commonsense disclosures that Biden is eliminating.

There is some time to correct course, if Congress takes note. As part of his order, Trump also directed executive agencies to issue a final rule on guidance — we’ve taken to calling them “FROGs” — and specifically to set up internal procedures for their creation and posting. Thirty agencies issued FROGs, all of which provided for searchable disclosures, by the time Biden took office.

Since these “rules on rules” are part of the Code of Federal Regulations, Biden cannot strike them out with his pen as he did the underlying Trump order. Nonetheless, Biden has directed agencies to “promptly take steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies, or portions thereof, implementing or enforcing” the Trump orders that he rescinded.

When asked at a briefing why President Biden rescinded an order aimed at transparency, White House press secretary Jen Psaki ducked and accused the Trump White House of erecting “unnecessary hurdles and cumbersome processes for agencies.” That is a clear signal that the Biden White House prioritizes the convenience of bureaucrats over the public’s right to know about the rules they are being told to follow.

4. Donald Devine argues that the market run-up is less about suppl-and-demand economics and more about betting on government fiscal screw-ups. From the beginning of the article:

What happens when the task is more complicated, such as managing the entire national economy? The champions of bureaucratic rationalization claim that it is superior to pluralist capitalism because it can make the market work better than simply allowing it to seek its own levels. But let us see.

Consider the Federal Reserve System, which has been the top expert manager of the U.S. economy since President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act in December 1913. The Fed’s prestige is so high that Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist, Ruchir Sharma, called it “the central bank of the world.” There is near-universal agreement among finance experts that the Fed’s most powerful tool — manipulating the federal funds rate — can keep the U.S. financial system in balance, and through it the whole global system.

When Janet Yellen became chairman in 2016, after eight years of tepid economic growth, she aimed to reassure a nervous investor class that her agency was firmly in control. Yellen announced that the Fed did not need to resort to that ultimate rate tool, but would continue relying on its more modest “quantitative easing” bond-purchasing tool for an indefinite period. At first the market shuddered, but it soon calmed down to the soothing voice of its overseer, who would scientifically control the fragile U.S. and world economies with the current program, keeping the big gun ready in case things got worse.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White squirts some WD-30 on Khaite FW21. From the beginning of the review:

Sean Baker, the NYU-trained writer-director celebrated for indie films about people on the margins of American society (Tangerine, The Florida Project), has shifted to a new far-left political move. His latest film, Khaite FW21, showcases the Fall/Winter 2021 Collection of designer Catherine Holstein’s Khaite fashion brand. Livelier and even more facetious than Baker’s feature-length films, this short celebrates the COVID social transformation that’s made America entirely marginal.

Jokingly publicized as Baker’s “all new epic film,” Khaite FW21 is a series of cinematic scraps — a continuous montage of models strutting the streets, swanning through “subterranean corridors . . . collapsing past and present to evoke a city defined by extremes — perilous yet alluring, raw yet resilient.” Baker and a gang of models reenact New York’s bad-old-days — the crime and graffiti-ridden 1970s — that look just like the city’s COVID present. Baker’s brief credit sequence imitates Walter Hill’s 1979 street-gang classic The Warriors: fake nostalgia, fake news.

The fashion industry often depends on perception and prescience. Khaite FW21 cunningly (accidentally?) depicts national urban suffering and self-loathing that the mainstream corporate media, always promoting political mandates, gussies up as “news.” The models’ tough-gal, aggressive postures, meant to be chic and entertaining, seem bizarre considering that contemporary New Yorkers have knuckled under arbitrary tyrannical mandates.

2. More Armond: He is liking Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America. From the review:

Retooling the 1988 plot about African prince Akeem (Murphy) traveling to the U.S. to find a bride, 30 years have passed. Now King Akeem, the father of three daughters, seeks his patrilineal heir via another transcontinental mission. He finds Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), his “bastard son.” That rude phrase evokes the disintegration of black family relations as normalized by the politically correct “single parent” euphemism, but Murphy’s rude, comic epithet is necessary. It corrects several recent black pop-culture regressions.

Coming 2 America’s father-son plot obviously parodies the sanctimonious sentimentality of The Lion King (Disney’s anthropomorphic spectacles and especially Beyoncé’s patronizing Black Is King iteration). Murphy’s satire is right for this era of disingenuous race consciousness. It also rejects Black Panther’s humorless self-importance about African heritage and black governance. (A #MeToo subplot is more routine than offensive, but at least it’s acted warmly.) Each rounded character — from Arsenio Hall’s majordomo Semmi and Wesley Snipe’s greedy tribal dictator Izzy to Leslie Jones’s bodacious babymama Mary and Tracy Morgan’s wily Uncle Reem — shows the funny side of either uppity Motherland pride or vulgar urban-ghetto candor.

Restoring our lost sense of humor is Murphy’s triumph in Coming 2 America. Since 2008, the nation has been forced to view everything judgmentally as race-based, whether a private achievement or a personal offense. This manipulation worsened when the fantasy film Black Panther caricatured ethnic pride and its sci-fi comic-book nonsense was taken seriously. The Black Lives Matter generation projected their political whims upon Wakanda, a nonexistent African kingdom that was a Millennial version of faux-naïf Africa (which young Murphy once equated to Tarzan movies), seemingly unaware that, before they were born, Murphy had already proposed the country of Zamunda — and had played an African king in Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time music video.

3. Kyle Smith finds Raya and the Last Dragon inclusion fare. From the review:

As the film begins, Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, who was widely but not unfairly ridiculed for the role she played in the latest Star Wars movies) is a girl whose dad, Chief Benja, (Daniel Dae Kim) is the custodian of the gemstone coveted by all five tribes. In the spirit of idealistic liberals everywhere, Benja decides to throw away stability in favor of a kind of League of Nations gambit. “We were once unified harmoniously as one,” notes this supreme king. “If we don’t stop and learn to trust one another again, it’s only a matter of time before we tear each other apart.” Not surprisingly, when Benja invites his archrivals over for soup, they instead try to steal the gem, which is barely guarded and quickly gets broken into five pieces distributed to the various tribes, unleashing the Druun again, which turns most people back to stone. To undo her dad’s idiotic decisions, Raya has to bring the five pieces of the gem together. But she has help: It turns out that Sisu the dragon is not dead, merely resting.

The opening act seems to promise a kind of Asian Lion King, with a youngster dutifully inheriting the throne after treachery destroys the old man, but whatever mythic mojo there is in that opening act fizzles out when we meet Sisu the dragon. When it comes to playing scaly sidekicks, it turns out that Awkwafina is no Eddie Murphy. I’m not sure that even a comedy genius could have done much with Sisu’s lines — “I’m wicked when I hit that liquid. . . . I slaughter when I hit the water” and so on — but Awkwafina does not generate hilarity. And her steel-wool, Patty-and-Selma voice is abrasive to the ears. As much as I was praying for better jokes, I was also hoping someone would pass the dragon a lozenge.

As Raya, meanwhile, Tran has a perfectly pleasing voice but the character is a Mary Sue. Worse, she spends most of the movie functioning as the straight man for Sisu’s dumb jokes. Disney these days operates under tweet terror: Someone out there might remark that some aspect of a minority character represents an unflattering stereotype, so the company errs on the side of making such figures irredeemably dull. The movie’s sidekicks are even less interesting than the principals: Raya’s ride is some sort of mollusk-aardvark, a boringly obnoxious little boy is thrown in as a sop to the boys in the audience (or maybe just the obnoxious ones), and there’s a mischievous toddler that amounts to a poopy diaper of writing ability. Comic interludes range from the lame (everyone has a hard time with spicy food) to the very lame (Sisu goes on a shoplifting spree because she doesn’t understand the concept of credit). Efforts to maintain an atmosphere of medieval magic and wonder collapse under all of the suburban-teen-speak (“Using your baby charm to rip people off is super-sketchy.”). Somebody says, “I’m not Dang Hai. I’m Chai. The flower guy?”

4. More Kyle, who checks out Oliver Stone’s Hollywood memoir, Chasing the Light. From the review:

Chasing the Light is a study in Stone’s fears, his frustrations, and his addictions, as he tries to put his obsessions on the screen for us to share. Throughout his career, he has composed in his own brutal, vulgar, ostentatious key, scolds be damned: “The hell with good taste!” he writes. A recurrent phrase in his book — he heard it many times from people to whom he pitched his scripts — is “too much.” Too much sex, too much violence, too much everything. It took a while for the industry to grasp that, as the Eighties roared forth, “too much” could be the raison d’être of a highly successful filmmaker. Stone started to attract allies who loved the idea of going too far, such as the gonzo San Francisco journalist Richard Boyle, who would be played by the gonzo actor James Woods in Salvador. (Woods stole the role from Martin Sheen, who was originally cast, by telling Stone that Sheen’s wariness of the profanity in the script would result in “another bull**** Hollywood picture.”) As Stone was struggling to get Salvador made after his only previous directorial effort — a piece about a murderous, creeping appendage called The Hand — occasioned more laughs than screams, producer John Daly told the director, eyes twinkling, “I hope you live up to your reputation.” What he meant, Stone writes, is “be who you are, ‘the lunatic.’ . . . John was saying, ‘I want that Oliver, not their Oliver.’”

Stone’s matter-of-factness about his many mistakes makes for lots of dryly funny episodes. He once held a pound of heroin in his closet for friends, for instance. He doesn’t remember his 1981 wedding because he was high on marijuana, quaaludes, and cocaine during the ceremony. He notes that Gore Vidal once proposed a three-way tryst with Stone and Mick Jagger. On a Scarface research trip to Bimini to chat with some wealthy gentlemen who just happened to have a lot of theoretical knowledge about how one might go about sneaking cocaine into Miami, Stone unwisely mentioned a defense attorney he knew. The lawyer had once been a prosecutor, and the mention of his name made Stone’s interlocutors wonder if their new friend might perhaps be an undercover agent. The fellows excused themselves to discuss the matter in the men’s room, and Stone believed he was about to be tortured and fed to the gators. As dicey as it was to research, though, Scarface turned out to be useful in surprising ways: When Stone went to beg right-wing Central American government officials for help making Salvador, his leftist follow-up, their affinity for vigorous anti-communist Tony Montana made them incorrectly think the director was ideologically simpatico. (It helped that Stone whipped up a phony two-page treatment that suggested Salvador was a film about brave right-wing governments battling despicable Commie insurgents.)

5. Like Post Sugar Crisps, Kyle can’t get enough of Oliver Stone and his love/hate affair with the filmmaker. From the beginning of the piece:

Ilove Oliver Stone. He’s gonzo, gung-ho, and gangsta. He breaks the rules. He spits fire. He writes from his viscera. The movies he wrote for other directors — Midnight Express, Conan the Barbarian, Scarface — go over the top and just keep going. I forgive the silly posturing about capitalism in Wall Street because it’s entertaining. Stone and Val Kilmer nailed Sixties mysticism-turned-self-destructive-excess in The Doors, he and Woody Harrelson created a chilling study of murderous American minds in Natural Born Killers, and he and Tom Cruise got close to the heart of how the moral compromises and lies of Vietnam crushed our spirit in Born on the Fourth of July. And JFK may be the most insane picture ever released by a major studio.

I loathe Oliver Stone. His movies barely make sense. His cinema is like his personal life — a senseless, ugly scramble to get to the next drug rush. His cinematic coke binge packaged as neo-noir U Turn is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. His snarky George W. Bush picture W. is a feeble, brainless caricature. His hagiographic Snowden is an embarrassing paean to anti-patriotism. Even his acclaimed Platoon is war porn, an overwrought melodrama. Stone turns the movie screen into billboards onto which he pours all his crazed contempt for America as angrily and artlessly as Jackson Pollock spattering a canvas, or maybe a horse emptying his bladder on the road. And JFK may be the most insane picture ever released by a major studio.

I feel something of a bond with Stone: We’re both sons of World War II veterans, both went to Yale, both joined the Army without being forced to, and both went to war. Our tastes and paths diverged a bit: Stone was completely indifferent to Yale and dropped out of it twice to go to Southeast Asia — the first time to teach English, the second to be an infantry grunt. I dearly loved Yale and signed up for the Army to pay for it, which resulted in my being sent, not enthusiastically, to a war in Southwest Asia.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At the Washington Examiner, Nat Brown, one-time editor of this weekly missive, reflects on the late comedian, Patrice O’Neal, canary in the cancel culture cave and subject of a new documentary. From the beginning of the piece:

In June 2011, a few months before he suffered the stroke that would eventually claim his life, comedian Patrice O’Neal made one of his last appearances on Opie & Anthony, the shock-jock radio show that had become known as a place for comics to drop in, hang out, and roast each other on air. O’Neal was a frequent guest and listener favorite, and when he sat down at the mic that day, he had a lot to be happy about. His first one-hour special, Elephant in the Room, had premiered a few months prior to rave reviews, and he would soon get even more praise for his set on the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen that fall. Twenty years into his career, it seemed as though O’Neal was finally getting recognized by a business that had neglected him for far too long.

Not that he wasn’t partially or even mostly responsible for that neglect. O’Neal was a notorious bridge burner, both with corporate executives and other comics, and he was unwilling to make any creative compromises he felt threatened his integrity. He was also the first to admit that his raw and sometimes cringe-inducingly honest style of comedy would never have the kind of audience market that, say, Dane Cook’s or Jim Gaffigan’s acts had. “There’s people that count on me to have a revolutionary attitude,” he explained, which made a new cultural dynamic he saw developing all the more disturbing.

2. At Gatestone Institute, Peter Schweizer lays out the threat posed by Red China’s “Dragon Ships.” From the piece:

Pentagon planners know this and have called out China’s work on building both capital ships and the swarms of smaller escort vessels that will project the dragon’s breath across those critical trade routes for years to come. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is building their capability to control and possibly interdict shipping from other Asian nations, mostly as an economic and political lever. China means to threaten the economic security of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and others. America must remain resolute in the face of this build-up in order to maintain freedom of commerce in the Asian seas.

In naval warfare strategy, technology has replaced sheer numbers in some ways, as the ability to project power can be achieved less by heavily armed and heavily crewed warships. and more by the development of ships that rely on artificial intelligence and remote control, or on unmanned vehicles that can deliver their ordnance of smart weapons through drones above and beneath the surface. Submarines pose a greater threat than destroyers because of their stealth, but in a direct conflict, the ability to direct air power against coastal targets and hostile warships remains the dominant mode of naval tactics.

China’s destroyer-building program reflects this. Its Type 052D Luyang III and Type 055 Renhai guided-missile destroyers are China’s most modern designs. These ships are intended for “air warfare” missions, equipped with phased array radars, air search radar, two target illumination radars, and sixty vertical launch missile silos for surface-to-air missiles. They will also carry anti-ship missiles, land attack cruise missiles and anti-submarine weapons. Destroyers protect capital ships, such as China’s two aircraft carriers and the two more that observers say are under construction or on the planning board. Chinese officials expect the PLAN will have five or six carriers in operation within 20-30 years.

In raw numbers, the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress for 2020 that China had “approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants.” The comparable number for the U.S. Navy is 293 ships, as of early 2020. What these numbers do not reflect is the strategic capabilities and ability to project power anywhere in the world that has been the U.S. naval goal since the Cold War.

3. At City Journal, Bari Weiss checks out elite and very scared parents navigating a world of woke education institutions. From the essay:

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

By normal American standards, they are quite wealthy. By the standards of Harvard-Westlake, they are average. These are two-career couples who credit their own success not to family connections or inherited wealth but to their own education. So it strikes them as something more than ironic that a school that costs more than $40,000 a year — a school with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand, and Sarah Murdoch, wife of Lachlan and Rupert’s daughter-in-law, on its board — is teaching students that capitalism is evil.

For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution” — unveiled this July, in a 20-page document — is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.

“I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.

“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?” (Harvard-Westlake has declined to comment.)

4. At The Kirk Center, the essential and influential George Nash celebrates the institution’s 25th Anniversary. From the essay:

This leads to another point worth underscoring. Russell Kirk was no academic pedant; he was a scholar with a mission. This was evident both early and late in his career. In 1952, shortly before he published The Conservative Mind, he confided to a friend that the forthcoming book was intended to be “my contribution to our endeavor to conserve the spiritual and intellectual and political tradition of our civilization; and if we are to rescue the modern mind, we must do it very soon.” “The struggle,” he said, “will be decided in the minds of the rising generation—and within that generation, substantially by the minority who have the gift of reason.”

In a conversation late in his life Kirk returned this theme. To an interviewer he told a story about a “forgotten mill pond” in the village of Mecosta, Michigan, where he now lived. Since boyhood, he recalled, he had enjoyed tossing pebbles into this pond and watching the ripples that “spread outward, circle upon circle, until they reached the shore.”

To Kirk these ripples came to symbolize his vocation as one of America’s most distinguished conservative intellectuals. From his bailiwick on Piety Hill in Mecosta, he told the interviewer, he was endeavoring “to impart an understanding of great lives, great institutions, and great works of imagination.” He hoped, he said, that these “ideas” might, like those ripples in the mill pond, “spread to distant shores” and (in words he quoted from T. S. Eliot) help to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.”

For Kirk this task of redemption entailed far more than engaging in politics. In The Conservative Mind and subsequent writings, he repeatedly instructed readers that political problems are fundamentally “religious and moral problems” and that cultural renewal requires remedies at deeper levels than economics. Tirelessly he focused our minds on the crucial realm of the value-creating and value-sustaining institutions of society. He beckoned us to ponder questions of ends and not just of means. More than any other conservative writer of his era, he elevated the tone and substance of conservative discourse and, in the process, elevated our vision.

5. At The Catholic Thing, James Matthew Wilson delves into the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and his profound concerns about ecumenism. From the beginning of the piece:

Hans Urs von Balthasar’s little book, In the Fullness of Faith first appeared in the mid-1970s and proclaimed a striking mission. Vatican II had encouraged a spirit of ecumenism within the Catholic Church, but the most common application of that spirit followed the example of American Protestantism: it recognized the legitimacy of different “denominations”; fruitful dialogue consisted of trying to find what least-common-denominator, what set of broad principles, was actually shared by all parties. Differences were to be minimized as “inessential.”

This was impossible, thought von Balthasar. Catholicism is a whole, a totality. The only way for the Church to speak substantially to other Christians was for the Church to present the “Catholica,” the integral spirit that was an organic unity. From that interior unity, doctrines and practices emerge to which Protestants object. But the only way to understand those points of contention is to understand how they in fact emerge from the animating spirit of the Church.

Von Balthasar does not get very far into his discussion of “The Present Situation,” before the whole problem at stake becomes unsettling. The Church has a form. Further, the Church would imprint that form on the Christian, such that to be a Christian is to allow one’s entire life to receive a particular shape, a structure.

6. Heritage Foundation lays out the many reasons why the Democrats bill (H.R. 1, the “For the People Act”) will blow up America’s election system and cook the GOP’s goose. From the report:


Seize the authority of states to regulate voter registration and the voting process by forcing states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting.

Make it easier to commit fraud and promote chaos at the polls through sameday registration, as election officials would have no time to verify the accuracy of voter registration information and the eligibility of an individual to vote and could not anticipate the number of ballots and precinct workers that would be needed at specific polling locations.

Hurt voter turnout through 15 days of mandated early voting by diffusing the intensity of get-out-the-vote efforts; it would raise the cost of campaigns. Voters who vote early don’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day, missing late-breaking developments that could affect their choices.

Degrade the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals (as opposed to “citizens”) from state and federal databases, such as state Departments of Motor Vehicles, corrections and welfare offices, and federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services. This would register large numbers of ineligible voters, including aliens, and cause multiple or duplicate registrations of the same individuals and put federal agencies in charge of determining a person’s domicile for voting purposes (as well as that individual’s taxing state).

Constitute a recipe for massive voter registration fraud by hackers and cyber criminals through online voter registration that is not tied to an existing state record, such as a driver’s license. It would make it a criminal offense for a state official to reject a voter registration application even when it is rejected “under color of law” because the official believes the individual is ineligible to vote. It would also require states to allow 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to register; when combined with a ban on voter ID and restrictions on the ability to challenge the eligibility of a voter, this would effectively ensure that underage individuals could vote with impunity.

7. At The College Fix, Henry Kokkeler finds religion profs genuflecting before the new creed of anti-racism. From the article:

Columbia University linguist John McWhorter argues that “the new religion” of anti-racism is reconstructing America’s sense of morality, justice, education, personal expression and national identity.

In an excerpt from his new book on “Neoracists Posing as Antiracists,” published in Persuasion, the black scholar and atheist wrote that anti-racism is a nonsensical new religion “posing as wisdom” and “world progress.”

Many would argue with his assertion that anti-racism is a religion and that it poses a threat to a “Progressive America.” But an interview program co-produced with Religion News Service might only take issue with McWhorter’s second argument.

“Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice,” which is dedicated to confronting “the racist ideas embedded within ourselves,” started its second season in late January.

Hosted by Simran Jeet Singh, a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, the program draws from the ranks of anti-racist academics and activists. Guests have included Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour and religion professors Anthea Butler at the University of Pennsylvania and Jennifer Harvey at Drake University.

8. At Strategika, Mark Moyar considers how domestic disorder affects America’s standing abroad. From the essay:

For Americans more sympathetic to the police, the killing of an unarmed black man was a rare occurrence, not representative of any larger trends. Black Lives Matter and other activist groups, they contended, had blown Floyd’s death out of proportion to advance political agendas. “The claim that racist police are prowling the street searching for black men to murder is absurd on its face, and even absurder when you look at the facts,” stated Matt Walsh in the Daily Wire. In 2019, he noted, “25 unarmed white people were killed by police, compared to 14 unarmed black people, according to the Washington Post database of police shootings. That means about .0004 percent of all blacks arrested were killed while unarmed. The percentage for whites is comparable.”

The implications for America’s national defense were likewise open to debate. If one accepted the argument that the protests and riots of 2020 showed the United States to be deeply divided by rampant racism, then it could plausibly be argued that the United States lacked the national cohesion and moral authority to maintain its position as the leading global superpower. That argument was especially popular among those who believed President Trump had exacerbated matters by failing to yield to the protesters’ demands. Samuel Brannen, for instance, contended that “by painting [protesters] as violent and illegitimate” and resorting to “the large-scale deployment of military and police forces,” Trump had “created a strategic advantage for authoritarian regimes that seek to displace U.S. influence in the world.”

Those who contended that the 2020 protests did not reflect rampant racism in the United States generally foresaw much less harm to America’s standing in the world. “I don’t think there’s systemic racism,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien contended. “I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans.” American adversaries would try to make hay of the protests, O’Brien said, but they would fail.

Similar divergence of opinion emerged from the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021. On that date, hundreds of demonstrators occupied the Capitol for several hours in a vain effort to overturn certification of the Presidential election. Liberals argued that the advocates of racism, violence, authoritarianism, and conspiracy theories who took part in the riot were representative of many millions of Americans who had voted for Trump. In addition, they contended, Trump and those who voted for him were complicit in the nefarious deeds of the fanatics. Don Lemon of CNN asserted, “If you voted for Trump, you voted for the person who the Klan supported. You voted for the person who Nazis support. You voted for the person who the alt-right supports. You voted for the person who incited a crowd to go into the Capitol and potentially take the lives of lawmakers.” Congressional Democrats employed such reasoning to justify impeaching Trump for the second time.

Addendum Birzum

The great Brad Birzer, at his own website (do check out Stormfields) penned a terribly kind tribute to Bill Buckley and National Review. He says nice things about Your Humble Correspondent, which is an act of ultimate Christian charity. Mother did always say to be appreciative, though. You may find the article here.


As the American League went, before the days of expansion, the league’s eight teams boasted of three that could often be found near or at the cellar — the Washington Senators (“first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League”), the St. Louis Browns (which won one lonely pennant, thanks surely in part to World War Two, in 1944), and the Philadelphia Athletics (admittedly, a feast-or-famine franchise, with the miniscule feasting of 1910-1914 and 1929-1932 dwarfed by the epic famines in most other years).

But there was one year in which the trio proved to be the top finishers in the AL — 1925. For the second year running, the Senators, brandishing their aging ace, Walter Johnson, took the flag, and comfortably so. IN 1924, it had been a heated pennant fight against the Yankees, but the Nats prevailed, and indeed won the World Series in an epic seven-game battle against the New York Giants. Champs again in 1925, this time the Senators were on the losing end of a toughly fought seven-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When the regular season ended, it was not a repeat of the Yankee juggernaut breathing down the Senators’ neck — nope, this was the one year during the Bronx Bomber’s four-decade dynasty when they had a losing record (so bad they finished in Seventh place). Instead, trailing the Senators in Second, distant by 8 ½ games, were the Philadelphia Athletics, which was gathering talent — first-year players and future Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove, and sophomore Al Simmons, who led the AL in hits with 253 and a blazing .387 batting average) — that would turn the A’s into the league’s true powerhouse in a handful of seasons, and in Third (by a not-even close 15 games) the beloved Browns, led by future Hall of Famer George Sisler, in one of their few winning seasons while located in St. Louis.

We note one other season with a whiff of the above: 1928. Our triumvirate finished in Second (A’s), Third (Browns), and Fourth (Senators) in the AL. Of course, behind the Yankees.


A quintet of tunes for you to enjoy on the forthcoming day of St. Patrick:

1. As I was going over the far famed Kerry Mountains . . . Whiskey in the Jar

2. One pleasant evening in the month of June . . . Jug of Punch

3. Oh my name it is Nell and if truth were to tell . . . Nell Flaherty’s Drake

4. There was Johnny McEldoo and McGee and me . . . Johnny McEldoo

5. In the sweet country Lim’rick, one cold winter’s night . . . The Juice of the Barley

A Dios

There is a wideness in God’s mercy. Find it. Enjoy it. And then, imitate it.

May His Boundless Graces Soothe Your Anxieties,

Jack Fowler, who would appreciate directions to the glue factory if sent to

P.S.: Do not forget our webathon, please! Donate here. Should you prefer to use the U.S. Mails for this conveyance, make your check payable to “National Review” and send it to National Review, ATTN: Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036. God bless!

National Review

Horton Hears a Load of Hooey


Dear Gentle Reader,

This Jolt you read, this Jolt you read — do you like this Jolt you read?

Whether you do or don’t, you are here, and for this tiny crumb of Who Hash appetizer presented before you get your taste buds on the copious and bursting main courses, let us make note of several pieces on the raging cultural controversy — the disappearing of some six books by the beloved (by many) Dr. Seuss for offenses undefined.

Truth be told, he was quite the liberal in his day, so Your Humble Author does not like him, not in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, not here nor there nor anywhere. Regardless, this stunt has merited responses of incredulity and opprobrium and snorfledoodle as the Things One and Two of America’s Cancel Culture cause their chaos. There are excellent responses by NRniks. Some:

Dan McLaughlin provides the latest of breaking news about Ebay’s Thought Police preventing the resale of the six books in question . . .

Dan had previously taken on the lunacy more broadly. From that piece:

On Beyond Zebra! is perhaps my personal favorite Dr. Seuss book, one I read countless times as a kid and countless more to my three children. It takes the exotic-menagerie concept, crosses it with the traditional alphabet book, and asks the question: What if there were more letters in the alphabet, known only to a select, inquisitive few? What if you needed those letters to spell the names of creatures that were truly unique and foreign to most people’s experience? It is a brilliant concept for a children’s book, and it genuinely encourages not only a spirit of openness and adventure and intellectual curiosity, but also a broad-minded way of thinking about language. So far as I can tell, it is “canceled” for a vaguely Arab-looking character on one page, the “Nazzim of Bazzim.”

Recall that one of the charges against Seuss is that his books feature too few non-white people, and you can understand the inherent absurdity of also banning his books for depicting non-white people. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Kyle Smith reminds us of the once-upon-a-not-so-long-ago Piss Christ heady days when lefties were insensitive to sensitivity. From the piece:

So, what changed? The Left used to be against banishing books, banning books, burning books. Now, scarcely a week goes by without some breathtaking new advance in its campaign to bury this or that book in order that the public might never be infected with its ideas. Just six years ago, when Barack Obama was publicly praising Dr. Seuss on March 2, Read Across America Day — a day specifically chosen by the National Education Association to honor Theodor Geisel’s birthday — you would have called me a paranoid wingnut if I had told you that books such as On Beyond Zebra! would soon be yanked from bookshelves across America at the behest of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yesterday, that’s exactly what happened.

The memory of (perhaps) the single most beloved author in America was insulted by having that title and five others pulled as an anti-birthday present and the traditional presidential mention of Dr. Seuss on a day built around his work was absent. It was as if all mentions of George Washington were scrubbed from the official celebration of President’s Day. (That’ll never happen, though. Not until at least 2022.)

And Kevin Williamson responded Seussically. You’ll find his piece here.

Who knows though — maybe from his Lefty Central lair George Soros will see the destruction of the madness he bankrolls and his heart will grow three sizes by our next edition.

Now on with this one. We hope you have brought a ravenous appetite.



John Thune and Tom Cotton: Becerra Misleads on His Treatment of Nuns

Alex Baiocco: The Democrats’ New Schemes to Control Political Speech

David Harsanyi: Pelosi’s H.R. 1 Is an Authoritarian Outrage

Mario Loyola: Bipartisan Danger to the Constitution: Expanded Federal Government and Presidency

Ryan Mills: Keystone Pipeline: Rural Montana County Counted on Economic Benefit

Jack Butler: American Moment’s Complaints about Conservatism Are Self-Serving

Joseph Loconte and Samuel Gregg: Future of Conservatism and the Nation Depends on Restoring Faith in American Story

Mark Krikorian: The Human Cost of Open-ish Borders

Steven Camarota: Is Biden Losing the Immigration Debate?

Tobias Hoonhout: The Brothers Cuomo — CNN Misleads Viewers on Interview ‘Rule’

Jimmy Quinn: Trump’s Uyghur-Genocide Recognition Spurs Canada, Netherlands to Act

Rich Lowry: Alzheimer’s Can’t Fully Extinguish the Human Personality

Tim Kelleher: Staten Island Boyhood: Marvelous, Melancholy Memories

Cameron Hilditch: Parton and Progressives — Leave Dolly Alone

Andre Archie: Here’s Why the Classics Are Worth Studying

Joseph Loconte and Nile Gardiner: Churchill and the Cold War: 75th Anniversary of His ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech

Capital Matters

Joni Ernst and Tom Schatz go whole hog: Budget Earmarks: Corrupt, Costly, and Inequitable

Benjamin Zycher pulls the plug on idiocy: Electric Vehicles: Mandates Push to Consumers Who Don’t Want Them

Brad Palumbo says oh mama: Why a $15 Minimum Wage Will Hit Parents the Hardest

Andrew Stuttaford shops in the nag aisle: Socially Responsible Investing a Tesco Supermarkets — Policing Your Plate

Lights. Camera. Review!

Kyle Smith looks at Henry’s daughter through the crosshairs: Jane Fonda’s Vietnam Actions Were Worse Than You Think

More Kyle, who goes underground: The Truffle Hunters Explores Strange Subculture

Armond White has both open: Keep An Eye Out Examines Social and TV Habits

More Armond, who’s not buying what they’re selling: United States vs. Billie Holiday Is a Salacious BLM Scam


Capital Record Episode 7: David talks taxes with Arthur Laffer.

The Editors Episode 307: Rich, MBD, Jim G and Maddy discuss cancelling Cuomo.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen Episode 302: Charlie and Kevin reach into the grab bag.

The McCarthy Report Episode 118: Andy and Charlie discuss Merrick Garland as Attorney General.

The Great Books Episode 169: John Miller and Matthew Continetti discuss Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein.

The Bookmonger Episode 341: JJM and C.J. Box discuss his novel, Dark Sky.

Political Beats Episode 92: Mark Hemingway joins Scott “Spinmaster” Betram and Jeff “33 1/3 RPM” Blehar to talk Nirvana.

Radio Free California Episode 162: David and Will spotlight Stanford lefties.

The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast Episode 57: VDH discusses COVID’s neutron-bomb effect and lefties efforts to de-cable the Right.


A Gajillion Suggestions of Conservative Wisdom and Provocation

1. No, say senators John Thune and Tom Cotton — Biden HHS nominee Xavier Becerra is fibbing about his nun-hate. From the piece:

A number of senators asked Becerra about this at his confirmation hearings. “I’ve never sued any affiliation of nuns,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “My actions have always been directed at the federal agencies.”

His misleading answer ignores the basic truth: Becerra took legal action for years intended to strong-arm Catholic nuns and others into complying with a federal contraceptive policy that violates their religious beliefs.

It’s a matter of public record that cannot be erased, and it’s just one example of Becerra taking religious liberty and freedom of conscience to court.

He vigorously defended a California law that targeted pro-life pregnancy centers and forced them to advertise abortions, arguing it all the way to the Supreme Court, which overturned the law because it violated the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.

2. When it comes to controlling political speech, Alex Baiocco knows that Democrats never stop scheming. From the piece:

Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to get us halfway there. H.R. 1 (S.1 in the Senate), takes aim at your “outside” voice, which Biden wants to silence. The bill also demonstrates how efforts to silence independent groups won’t stop at speech urging fellow Americans to vote for or against candidates. H.R. 1’s provisions for “Stopping Super PAC–Candidate Coordination” reach far beyond super PACs and would capture speech that has nothing to do with elections. Any organization that discusses policy issues could trigger the sweeping “coordination” standards. Communications about legislation made routinely by advocacy groups today would be illegal under H.R. 1.

Say a civil-rights group publishes an analysis highlighting areas of a criminal-justice reform bill that could be improved. The sponsor of the legislation reaches out to the group with questions. In the course of conversation, the senator mentions that she plans to highlight the bill at an upcoming campaign event. Just like that, this policy discussion has triggered a speech ban. The group has engaged in “communication . . . regarding the candidate’s or committee’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation of resources, fundraising, or other campaign activities.”

As a result, the group is barred from spending a single penny on speech that “promotes or supports” the senator, “regardless of whether the communication expressly advocates the election . . . of a candidate.” This vague language applies to communications made at any time, not just close to an election. Simply urging lawmakers to “support Senator Jane Doe’s Sentencing Reform Act” could be banned under H.R. 1. If the bill is pending 120 days before a general election with the senator on the ballot, the ban would apply to “a communication which refers to” the senator, even if it is not deemed to promote or support the lawmaker.

3. David Harsanyi catalogues the many foul and authoritarian things to be found in Nancy Pelosi’s election-takeover legislation. From the piece:

Terms such as “voting restrictions” are tantamount to calling traffic laws “driving restrictions.” They are conveniently ominous sounding, leaving room for endless partisan weaponization against existing laws. Unless, that is, Democrats don’t support any “voting restrictions” whatsoever. Which might be the case. Whereas actual “voter suppression” was once maliciously deployed to obstruct the rights of American citizens, the term now basically implicates a Republican failing to personally mail in his illegal immigrant neighbor’s ballot ten days after an election.

Democrats rely on these distorted terms because the vast majority of Americans support some basic voter-integrity laws. Take, for instance, Chait’s assertion that Pence wants to “restrict the franchise with strict photo-ID requirements, limits on early and mail voting, and so on.”

“Strict” does a lot of heavy lifting here. As far as I can tell, 80 percent of Americans support photo-ID laws. Now, we can disagree in good faith about the effects of forcing Americans to get a photo identification before helping decide the fate of the nation, but requiring a citizen to prove his identity falls well short of any definition of “authoritarian.” Or, if it is, then nearly every Western European country admired by the Left should be deemed an autocratic state.

4. Mario Loyola sees the threats posed to the Constitution by progressives who claim to be worried about democratic norms. From the piece:

Hence, a recent article by Jonathan Rauch, “The 5 Trump Amendments to the Constitution,” is worth considering carefully, as representative of the hypertrophied criticism of Trump and the atrophied criticism of Rauch’s own side. In it, Rauch worries that “The 45th president has profoundly altered our system of government.” He cites five examples, all of which miss the mark.

The first of Trump’s informal constitutional “amendments,” Rauch argues, is that henceforth presidents will not be removed from office for high crimes or misdemeanors “should a partisan minority of the Senate choose to protect him.” A moment’s reflection suffices to see that this has always been true. The Senate “trial,” which requires a two-thirds majority for removal, is basically a dressed-up vote of “no confidence” among the president’s party in the Senate, “high crimes and misdemeanors” having whatever meaning Congress chooses to give the phrase. Senate Republicans voted against removing Trump the first time around not because they are suddenly willing to ignore any high crimes or misdemeanors, but because the Democrats didn’t prove much of anything in the end, as I chronicled at length in The Atlantic a year ago.

Democrats were so convinced of the case against Trump — even before hearing the evidence — that they failed to notice the weakness of the case. The charges against Trump, Rauch tells us, “seemed as serious as the Watergate shenanigans that forced Nixon from office,” but that is simply not true. The charges against Nixon were so explosive that Republicans at first simply didn’t believe them. And when the smoking gun finally emerged, they abandoned him in droves — despite the fact that Nixon was vastly more popular among the Senate Republicans of his day than Trump ever was in ours. The charges against Trump were much more like the charges against Clinton, in that nobody was surprised by them and the president’s party didn’t much care, the main difference being that the charges against Trump didn’t even allege a violation of federal law.

5. Ryan Mills reports on how Biden’s Keystone-killing has gut-punched a rural Montana community. From the piece:

It would have been a particular boon to McCone County. There already are more than 3,900 miles of oil pipeline crisscrossing the state of Montana, but not through McCone. Those pipelines can be huge tax revenue generators for otherwise small, rural communities.

Today, the taxable value of McCone County property is about $7.7 million, with revenues of about $4 million, said Crockett, the county treasurer. According to Department of Revenue estimates from 2012, the pipeline alone was expected to generate $22.1 million in annual tax revenue for McCone County. No one knew for sure how much it would actually bring in, but Crockett said she was optimistic the county’s tax revenues would at the very least double or triple once the pipeline was operating, though there was a real chance for much more.

“I was definitely hoping, thinking for that,” she said. “I think the potential was there.”

She pointed to Carter County, Montana, a small, rural county on the state’s southeast border. Carter’s estimated population of 1,252 is smaller than McCone’s. But Carter has eight oil pipelines running through it, and overall taxable value of about $53 million — dwarfing McCone. About $49 million of that, or 92 percent, is generated by pipelines, the county treasurer said.

With the county’s oil money, Carter has built a new grade school, a new hospital building, upgraded the county’s airport, improved roads and bridges and upped pay for the county’s workforce without placing a significant additional burden on taxpayers.

6. Jack Butler has a thing or two to say about American Moment. From the beginning of the article:

Conservatives have long railed against the D.C. Swamp. They are largely right to do so: Being the home of the federal government, Washington does not merely play host to the ugliness and corruption of national politics, but now also supports an entire economy of nonprofits, lobbyists, contractors, media outlets, and other entities whose dealings and doings naturally invite suspicion. Such suspicion grows as the D.C. area itself grows in wealth, and in power over the lives of other Americans, transforming into an interest in favor of its own expansion.

But if you believe the people behind the new organization American Moment, the main problem with the Swamp is simply that the wrong people have been in charge. In case you were wondering, they think they are the right people. “Across time, every society has had an elite — the select group of people whose actions, words, and decisions decisively impact the common good,” Saurabh Sharma, Nick Solheim, and Jake Mercier, the group’s co-founders, write in The American Conservative. The implication being: Why not us? They claim to have been for years “frustrated by the lack of organizations in the conservative movement” discussing the ideas and cultivating the talent they think we need, and hope “to not only identify and educate, but also to credential the young, civically-minded people who will meet the significant challenges of this American Moment.” A look at this nascent group’s public statements, however, reveals not only an incoherent logic behind its animating concerns, but also a broader, worrying aspiration simply to become one of D.C.’s defective institutions.

7. Joseph Loconte and Samuel Gregg argue that America’s future depends on conservatives uniting. From the piece:

In the midst of all this, we now face significant rifts within the conservative movement itself. While these divisions began to emerge at the end of the Cold War, they were deepened in the 9/11 era by the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Economic globalization, the Great Recession, and failure to enforce immigration laws have sparked intense arguments about capitalism and free trade. The abuse of judicial power — by which the Supreme Court has effectively manufactured abortion on demand, redefined marriage, and reimagined sex and gender — has caused many social conservatives to become disillusioned with politics altogether.

Some conservatives have even rejected key propositions of the American Founding, especially those articulated by moderate Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Montesquieu, and William Blackstone. They complain that the emphasis on individual liberty — as mediated by the American Founders — poisoned American democracy from the beginning. Other conservatives want an imperial presidency working together with the administrative state.

The conservative movement has never been monolithic. But the emergence of thinking in some conservative circles that rejects the bedrock propositions of the American experiment shouldn’t be merely lamented; it must be strenuously opposed. A unified conservative movement cannot be forged around old labels; the pull of nostalgia must be resisted. Nevertheless, we can draw lessons from recent history. As Winston Churchill once put it, “the future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.”

8. Mark Krikorian says there are horrible human costs to Joe Biden’s making America’s southern border sorta-open. From the article:

A horrific crash happened Tuesday in southern California when an SUV pulled out in front of a truck and got T-boned. Crashes happen every day, of course. What makes this one especially notable is that 25 people were in the SUVtwenty-five people in a Ford Expedition, adults and children, 13 of whom were killed. Most of the dead were Mexicans. The driver was, in all likelihood, smuggling illegal aliens who had infiltrated the border about 15 miles to the south, though it’s under investigation.

Not everything is someone’s fault, but this is. Biden’s semi-open-borders policy is enticing migrants to infiltrate the borders while keeping some border enforcement in place. The inevitable result is tragedies like this.

Alien smuggling is a nasty business. Doctors Without Borders reports that two-thirds of migrants coming up through Mexico become victims of violence, including one-third of women who are sexually assaulted. Once across the border, illegal immigrants are often confined to stash houses while smugglers seek to extort more money from their relatives. And, of course, aliens die in crashes as smugglers try to elude capture.

9. On immigration, Steven Camarota says the poll numbers are not looking too good for Joe Biden. From the piece:

This huge decline in support for the DREAM Act is perhaps the most difficult to explain because it is hard to find any stories in the mainstream media that mention the cost of the bill, even though CBO estimated the net fiscal impact in 2017 and again 2019 and both times found it would create a large net fiscal drain. Moreover, virtually every story on the “Dreamer” population portrays them in a very sympathetic light. Yet the public has become dramatically less inclined to give them legal status, perhaps because they increasingly sense that the Dreamers are being used as props to secure a much larger amnesty that covers all illegal immigrants.

There are other questions in the Rasmussen immigration series, some dealing with the number of legal immigrants who should be allowed into the country, and others asking about guest workers, chain migration, and immigration-induced population growth. While it is not the case for all of the questions, the results generally show that the public wishes to see more enforcement and greater limits.

Of course, no survey is definitive, and none flawlessly captures public attitudes about a complex topic such as immigration. The 2016 and 2020 elections were stark reminders that our ability to measure public sentiment with polling is far from perfect. But by asking the same ten question for more than a year, Rasmussen has captured a real trend in public opinion that single-shot polls cannot.

10. The Chris and Andy Show have made a mockery of CNN’s hypocrites, reports Tobias Hoonhout. From the beginning of the piece:

As Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for allegedly sexually harassing at least three women, CNN has fallen back on a 2013 “rule” that purportedly prevents the younger Cuomo from “interviewing and covering his brother” — a rule that was implicitly and explicitly ignored for years.

On Monday, Chris Cuomo opened his primetime show by conceding that he is “obviously” unable to cover the accusations leveled at the governor “because he is my brother” — a sentiment he elaborated upon during his Tuesday radio show. While the explanation seems to contradict the governor’s near-nightly appearances on his brother’s show last year, CNN has explained that those interviews, conducted in the early days of the COVID crisis, represented a temporary exception to a longstanding policy.

Last month, as Andrew Cuomo was facing more questions about his state’s handling of COVID in New York nursing homes, the network explained to Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple that the short-lived exception had elapsed right around the time the news cycle turned against the governor.

11. The atrocities wrought by Communist China, says Jimmy Quinn, may finally be getting some deserved responses. From the beginning of the piece:

What will it take to get the world to recognize and account for the Chinese Communist Party’s mass atrocities?

America’s example, it seems.

Eight days ago, Canada became the second country to recognize the CCP’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as genocide following a vote of its parliament. On Thursday, just three days later, the Netherlands became the third after a vote in its parliament. Perhaps the political support for those votes would have been there without the Trump administration’s eleventh-hour designation of Beijing’s anti-Uyghur campaign as a genocide in January. But it’s increasingly clear that that decision — reportedly made by then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo over the objections of the career officials on his legal team, and later endorsed by his successor Antony Blinken — has made all the difference in spurring more international action.

At least, that’s what Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, the Dutch member of parliament who authored the resolution that passed on Thursday, told National Review. His party had been following the developments out of China’s Western Xinjiang region for months, proposing legislation to call for various sanctions on those responsible. “When the U.S. and Canada moved, it made sense to follow suit,” Sjoerdsma said in a message the night of the vote.

12. Rich Lowry remembers his late mom and the Alzheimer affliction that could not overcome an ember of the person. From the piece:

Toward the end, when things were bleakest, my mom would still shine through the shroud of the disease. If she talked, it was always incoherently, but I could see her making points the way she always had. She might chuckle softly at a mention of my brother. Even when I couldn’t get anything else out of her, she’d hum, to patriotic songs, to hymns, to “Ode to Joy.”

No matter how bad it got, you’d see grace notes in the incredible love showered on her and others by the staff of the facility caring for her. Or another resident would do something amusing or touching.

I remember an otherwise despairing visit, when another lady sat down randomly besides us. I said I liked the stuffed dog she had in a basket on her walker. She said he was a good boy, began to pet him, and then kissed him a couple times lovingly on the snout. It was so sweet, I was moved to tears.

The last time I visited my mom, days before she took to her death bed, I badgered her, as I often did, to try to get a reaction out of her: “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?”

Sometimes she wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes you might notice her trying to reply. This time, she got out an unmistakable, “yep.”

13. This wondrous piece by Tim Kelleher about growing up in Staten Island will kindle memories of all, no matter where your childhood was spent. From the piece:

When it comes to that sense of smells, one is pervasive enough to be the olfactory canvas of my youth. Laugh if you want, but it’s bubblegum: attar of schoolyard and street. Not just any kind either, for this, as did so many things, came in a pair of good options. In this case, Bazooka and Double Bubble. A choice was required; a kind of commitment that helped define you: Converse or Keds; Giants or Jets; North Shore or South.

The soundtrack of those years was a familiar mix: the Beatles, Hendrix, the Jackson 5, and lots of gold in between. But there was another, more elemental, backdrop; a blue-collar orchestra of iron and steel, whose music was the clanging hooks of docking ships, the rattling roar of anchor chain, the bells of buoys, gently bobbing, on dark green harbor swells.

There was the wheezing of garbage trucks, hydraulic mastodons, prompted forward by tooth-whistle to the next group of cans. Sometimes that whistle came from where we hid, causing the truck to advance, and a crewman to dump half the can onto the street. For some reason, they never seemed to find that as hilarious as we did.

There were referee whistles, that trilled the frozen air of Travis Field, and hothouse hoops at Port Richmond‘s C.Y.O. Sirens of every kind, at every hour, that held the day together like wire round the bales of The Advance, tossed from trucks, then delivered from yellow sacks slung grimy across our shoulders.

14. Too many fixate on Dolly Parton’s front. Cameron Hilditch has her back. From the piece:

When then asked the gotcha question of the day about the Black Lives Matter movement, Dolly said, “of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” Grady’s quite incredible analysis of Dolly’s response concludes that her “actual thoughts on the antebellum nostalgia in which the original attraction trafficked she kept to herself.” Again, you’d think that “of course Black lives matter” weighs pretty heavily against allegations — or even suspicions — of white supremacist “antebelleum nostalgia,” but not in Grady’s eyes.

This progressive politicization of existence is so comprehensive that it often leaves no room for us to shrug our shoulders at the politics of others. This is deeply unfortunate. In a healthy society, we’d only ask about the politics of our neighbors when they, in turn, are asking for our vote. But if to be is to be political, as it is for so many today, then to admire someone is to admire their politics. This is why Dolly Parton so unnerves the politically intoxicated. They’re convinced that the most important thing about her isn’t her lyrics or her music or her theme parks or even her wardrobe, but rather the hidden “R” or “D” that she hides behind the rhinestone veil of her public image. Until they can draw back that veil and make sure once and for all that there isn’t a conservative hiding behind it, these people will never be able to relax and enjoy the music. They’d rather spend their days writing content-free slander about the supposedly sinister silence of apolitical icons. What a way to make a living.

15. The classics are worth studying, and Andre Archie knows why. From the beginning of the piece:

Rachel Poser’s recent New York Times profile of Princeton classicist Dan-el Padilla Peralta comes across as both glib and ominous. Referring to Padilla’s mission, the headline of the piece reads: “He Wants to Save Classics from Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?” The Herculean task Padilla has in mind is convincing other classicists to reject the privileged position given to Greece and Rome within the field. Why? Because he believes that classics as a discipline has played and continues to play an outsize role in the construction of whiteness and, thus, the perpetuation of systemic racism.

The immediate impulse of those who, like myself, are committed to helping others appreciate the beauty and profundity of the classical world is to mount a vigorous defense of Western civilization. Though such a response is commendable, it is incommensurate with the task at hand. But how does one defend Western civilization, that 2,500-year-old institution of interlocking ideas, concepts, and procedures? The mere fact that we, the citizens of the United States of America, are heirs to the immense intellectual and cultural treasures of ancient Greece and Rome creates a prima facie case that these two ancient civilizations deserve their privileged position in the West. From the codified curricula of the trivium and quadrivium to the rigors of philosophy and philosophical expression to Beethoven, Dave Brubeck, and Miles Davis to the rule of law, democracy, the city, abolitionism, and property rights, the legacy of the classical world never ceases to amaze.

The testaments of those who have been seduced by the field’s siren song speak volumes about the power of that legacy, and might be the best way to counter Padilla’s arguments. Ironically, Padilla himself has spoken positively about his initial encounter with classical ideas. He recalls in the Times profile that as a young, poor, bookish immigrant from the Dominican Republic, in a filthy shelter in New York’s Chinatown he serendipitously found a book entitled How People Lived in Ancient Greece and Rome. As he began to dig deeper into the field, Poser writes, he was “overwhelmed by the emotive power of classical texts” and “captivated by the sting of Greek philosophy, the heat and action of epic.” Absent from these recollections of his entry into the field is any trace of racial animus or bitterness. The ancient Greeks and Romans initially appealed to him not because he was a poor, black immigrant, but because he was an intellectually curious human being.

16. On its 75th Anniversary, the Joseph Loconte and Nile Gardiner believe Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech merits reflection. From the article:

Left-leaning historians blame Churchill’s address as the catalyst for the Cold War. Eleanor Roosevelt, carrying on the political legacy of her dead husband, was aghast, fearing that Churchill’s message would compromise the peacekeeping mission of the newly created United Nations. The liberal press denounced the talk as “poisonous” and Churchill as a “warmonger.”

A truly noxious speech, however, had been delivered by Joseph Stalin just a few weeks earlier to Communist Party apparatchiks in Moscow. Largely forgotten today, it did about as much to expose the unbridgeable divide between East and West as Churchill’s peroration.

“It would be wrong to think that the Second World War broke out accidentally,” Stalin began. “As a matter of fact, the war broke out as the inevitable result of the development of world economic and political forces on the basis of present-day monopolistic capitalism.” Thus, Stalin repeated Marx’s assault on capitalism for distributing resources unequally. He parroted Lenin’s claim that greedy capitalist states inevitably went to war with one another. Peace was possible, he suggested, but only after communism had triumphed around the globe. The message was clear: The historic contest between socialism and democratic capitalism was at a high-water mark.

Capital Matters

1. Joni Ernst and Tom Schatz lay a beating on budget earmarks. From the article:

Earmarking — by design — will never be transparent. Unlike the federal grant-making process, there is no standard for competition for the grants, and taxpayers have no ability to examine how the money was doled out. Earmarking is quite literally decided in secret. More insidiously, decisions about who gets earmarks and who doesn’t are usually treated as a form of political reward for the well-connected or as punishment for those who don’t follow the party line.

Convicted super lobbyist Jack Abramoff affectionately referred to it as the congressional “favor factory.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the return of earmarks has been most celebrated by Washington lobbyists who know the practice will be a boon to their business.

Supporters of earmarks — a.k.a., “earmarxists” — argue that they represent a small amount of money. According to Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) Congressional Pig Book, the most spent on earmarks in one year was $29 billion, which represented 1 percent of total discretionary spending. Only in Washington, D.C., would someone try to convince you with a straight face that $29 billion is a small amount of money. This diverts from the true reason that members of Congress want to restore earmarks: power and control.

2. Minnesota is joining the efforts — laced with nefarious consequences — to force electric vehicle on a populace not wanting them. From the beginning of the piece:

Electric vehicles are all the rage, in particular among public officials who do not have to face voters. Not so much among consumers, who know their individual needs and strive to make purchase decisions that satisfy them. These realities explain why the proponents of policies forcing ever more EVs upon the market prefer to implement such requirements in ways insulated from democratic accountability.

That is an accurate summary of the current political campaign in Minnesota to expand by regulatory fiat the market for EVs, by requiring that auto dealers in the state sell a certain number of them or face a penalty, moving the state toward California’s “zero emissions” automotive standard. The proposed mandate would engender massive dislocation and increased costs in the state’s transportation and agricultural sectors, adverse effects that would be borne by virtually every resident in the state. It would also create a series of large and adverse environmental impacts that the proponents of this change prefer not to discuss. Finally, it is easy to suspect that one key objective behind the mandate is to force a shift of population and economic activity away from rural, exurban, and suburban regions in the state toward urban areas, thus creating a massive transfer of wealth from residents, business owners, and workers in the former regions toward those in the latter.

3. Don’t Do Me No Favor: Brad Palumbo says n increase in the hourly minimum wage to $15 will actually hit parents the hardest. From the piece:

For example, research shows that McDonald’s often responds to increases in the minimum wage not by slashing jobs — it’s more often small businesses that have to do that — but by passing on nearly all on the costs to consumers via price increases. But this phenomenon isn’t limited to industries such as fast food. Indeed, a new study reveals that a $15 minimum-wage would cause similar price increases in a crucial expense for many working families: child care.

Finding affordable child care is already a struggle for millions of Americans: It’s a consistent problem that sucks up huge chunks of limited household budgets and sometimes limits the ability of parents to work. According to Child Care Aware of America, child care costs an average of $9,100 to $9,600 per year nationwide, albeit with significant variations across different states and ages.

Many families spend from 10 to 30 percent of their income on childcare alone.

Child care is already difficult to afford, but would become much more so if the “Fight for $15” were successful, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Grezler. In a new study, Grezler concludes that because child care is a labor-intensive industry in which the hourly median wage is only $11.65, a $15 federal minimum wage will impose a massive increase in labor costs on child-care providers. The nature of this business means that employers are unable to do much about the size of their workforce in response to increased labor costs. Instead, providers will respond with massive price hikes.

4. Just what you needed, says Andrew Stuttaford — the Tesco grocery chain, fulfilling of the desires of its “socially responsible investing” directors, now plays at Fat Police. From the piece:

In the past, such concerns might have been dismissed as those of a tiny fringe. There have long been investors who would take a small (frequently very small) position in a company and then used that stake as an admission ticket to the annual general meeting, where, by shareholder resolution or even a speech from the floor, they would make their political or sociopolitical case. It normally fell on deaf ears. Most shareholders were interested in investment return, and that was all.

That was then. More and more large investment firms are now adopting a form of SRI known as ESG. This involves analyzing how portfolio companies (or potential portfolio companies) measure up against certain environmental (“E”), social (“S”), and governance (“G”) benchmarks. Where such asset-management businesses differ from an old-style socially conscious investor — a nun, say, speaking at an AGM — other than in their size, is in their claim that a socially responsible approach will not come at the expense of performance. On the contrary, they maintain that they will do well by doing what is (allegedly) good, in part (allegedly) because portfolios run on this basis will be less risky than their more traditionally managed equivalents.

Whether that is truly so is disputed — if not as disputed as it should be — but there’s no doubt that the influence of such investors on corporate behavior is growing. That is a function not only of the cash (and voting power) that they have at their disposal, but also because theirs are arguments to which C-suites are increasingly susceptible, not least because stakeholder capitalism offers a way to dodge the tougher discipline of having to put shareholder return first.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Golden Globe-awardee Hanoi Jane, says Kyle Smith, was a nasty piece of work. From the beginning of the reflection:

Back around the time Jane Fonda was giving aid and comfort to America’s Communist enemies in North Vietnam, yukking it up with anti-aircraft gunners who shot down our troops — I wonder if there are any laws against that sort of thing — she also headlined an anti-U.S.O. tour. Despising the actual U.S.O. for its policy of giving aid and comfort to American troops, Fonda went on the road with a hippie rebuttal to bolster the chances of the North Vietnamese Stalinists who, after the war turned out the way she wanted it to, forced 300,000 people into prison camps for reeducation. Fonda’s tour was called “F.T.A.,” and in the opening moments of the documentary of the same name, you can see her on stage with her pal and Klute co-star Donald Sutherland screaming out what it stood for: “F*** the Army.”

Filmed in 1971, the film F.T.A. went over like a rat in the punch bowl when it was released in 1972. It was yanked from theaters and most copies were destroyed; seldom has it been seen since. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recently decided to spend some of its Golden Globes money on restoring the film so we can all take a look at it with fresh eyes (it is being released in virtual cinemas). So how does Jane Fonda, who was just honored with a lifetime achievement award by the HFPA, look half a century later? Exactly the same: like a brainless simp for Team Communism. Those who tend to dismiss Hollywood stars as merely stupid, not evil, can consider the other side of that.

2. Kyle Encore: He’s loving The Truffle Hunters. From the review:

A slight, plotless, but beguiling documentary, The Truffle Hunters comprises a gallery of charming portraits of codgers searching for the magical places where truffles hide beneath the soil in the woods of the Piedmont region of Italy. You may notice that “grams,” a word frequently heard in the film, gradually starts to take on a more North American resonance. The strange truffle-centric culture resembles a gourmand version of a television drama about big-time drug dealers. As in The Wire, the pathetic grunts who work at the (literal) ground level barely get by (and those who do the most critical work of all — the dogs — get paid nothing). Grand middlemen in flashy clothes are the ones who seem to be getting rich from the truffle trade, and you know someone is dealing with a true kingpin when he is heard switching to another language on the phone: in this case it’s French, the language of haute cuisine, instead of Spanish. Men meet in dimly lit archways to haggle over prices, and there’s a classic let’s-meet-by-the-headlights-of-this-parked car tableau, familiar from many a chilling episode of Breaking Bad. Unreliable people make slippery statements like, “Make me a good offer and they’re yours. But I promised them to someone else.”

3. Armond White is digging Quentin Dupieux’s new farce, Keep an Eye Out. From the review:

Dupieux’s farce provides what’s missing from this “golden age of TV” and insipid streaming content. Keep An Eye Out — the American title proves a watch-word — is a cognitive farce in which we’re constantly required to rethink the circumstances before us. TV content merely wants to sustain our attention between advertisements, stringing us along on obvious jokes and predictable outrages. Dupieux daringly suspends time: Fugain notices clock faces that race ahead. The emotional gamesmanship between Fugain and Buron, two kinds of egotists, raises common-man suspicions about political authority (“don’t be rude,” the cop warns the citizen). These time shifts become the occasion for visually dynamic sketch scenes as in Christophe Honoré’s On a Magical Night and Alain Resnais’s still-astonishing art-house classic Last Year at Marienbad.

Unlike many contemporary content-makers, Dupieux clearly knows his stuff, resembling cinema’s other, most famous Quentin. These contemporaries share a generational juvenile fascination with violence and gross incidents. But Dupieux’s characters reveal idiosyncrasies that are original and recognizable rather than borrowed from movie archetypes. One particular moment that interrupts Dupieux’s insane, unnerving absurdism — clearly nodding to Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie — is so audacious, so bravura, it justifies itself.

4. Armond Encore: Our intrepid critic goes after United States vs. Billie Holiday for retroactive history. From the beginning of the review:

The centerpiece of The United States vs. Billie Holiday is a fantasy-memory sequence envisioning the compulsions behind jazz singer Holiday’s legendary heroin addiction. Dusky figures spread across a fetid den lapse into extreme emotional states — from bewilderment to tumescence to horror and anxious, erotic oblivion. It is the most lavishly decadent depiction of Negro salaciousness ever put on screen. Director Lee Daniels conjures this outlandish diorama so that it crosses Jacob Lawrence with a Cardi B music video, but with a raucous Rudy Ray Moore, Redd Foxx vibe.

We see Holiday (played by Andra Day) seduce her FBI agent-stalker, James Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), into sharing the needle. He sinks into a narcotic reverie in which ten-year-old Billie appears, ushering his altered consciousness into the very busy brothel where her prostitute mother encourages Billie to earn to her keep. This sequence, scored to The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson singing “The Devil & I Got Up to Dance a Slow Dance,” expands into agent Fletcher joining Holiday’s touring band of foul-mouthed, bodacious renegades on Southern dates: Billie reemerges in the heroin haze wearing a yellow floral-print dress with fringe skirt and an open leg slit. Her glam image contrasts with her panic when witnessing a lynching aftermath amid the wails of grieving black children. It’s all a surreal, sensation-loaded lead-up to Holiday and Fletcher copulating. Then Holiday appears on stage defiantly performing the song “Strange Fruit.”

This wildly extended song intro goes to the film’s assertion that “Strange Fruit,” from 1937, was an objet d’art weapon that the FBI feared would incite unrest, and so the agency hounded and intimidated Holiday for her political expression. The stoned, nightmare sequence clearly comes from the imagination of someone safe, successful, and unafraid — but who follows today’s seditious fashion. Reverse the film’s title and grasp Daniels’s objective: He uses the effigy of Billie Holiday against the United States. Daniels waves a 1619 Project rainbow flag for blacks who, like Holiday, are always under siege.

And Now Presenting a Quartet of Conservative Commentaries from the New Issue of Your Favorite Fortnightly

As is the custom, we serve up to you four selections from the new issue (March 22, 2021 for those keeping score) that are guaranteed to be of keen interest. Dig in!

1. Dan McLaughlin makes the case for certain types of elections reform. From the essay:

A current, accurate list of registered, eligible voters is the foundation of a one-man, one-vote system. Adding names as people register is only the start. States also need to determine which registrations belong to living, eligible voters, and then they need to keep the lists up to date. As anyone who has tried to maintain a mailing list can attest, this is a constant struggle. People move, and people die. Even the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice admits on its website, “Voter list maintenance ensures accurate rolls and efficient election administration.”

Best practices require three steps. First, verify a voter’s identity and eligibility when he first registers. Online registration should be limited to voters who already have a driver’s license or other strong form of state identity, so that they are pre-verified in the system. Democratic proposals for automatic registration would undermine the reliability of lists, both by removing the voter’s self-verification from the process and by raising the number of voters who don’t even know they are registered in multiple jurisdictions. Getting voters into the habit of civic engagement by having them register themselves is good citizenship as well as good security.

Second, states must continuously update their voter lists. Democrats cast this process as “purges” of “voters,” but it is really about eliminating the names of former voters who have either died or moved away. Congress should let states remove former voters more quickly; states should use more-pinpointed methods to identify them. States could upgrade in two ways: more-regular interstate communication to identify voters who move, die, or are convicted of felonies; and the use of commercial databases that often have better information than the Postal Service’s National Change of Address system. Services that track people for marketing, credit scoring, or debt collection are often a step ahead of the government. They can help cull the lists without crossing off the names of active voters.

Third, names must be checked against the rolls when people vote. In-person voters can present identification, as is the law in many states. Democrats bitterly resist voter ID, but it is a modest proposal that’s extremely popular across party lines, and lawsuits to stop it have persistently failed to present evidence that voters were unable to have their votes counted. The best states offer free IDs to people without driver’s licenses.

2. Marian Tupy takes on the Biden Administration’s push for income equality. From the essay:

If it can’t be shown that income inequality reduces people’s well-being in advanced countries, such as the United States, where does the new administration’s emphasis on income inequality come from? To be fair, plenty of Democrats (and some Republicans) seem genuinely concerned that great wealth differences can pervert the democratic process and skew economic policies in favor of the super-rich. On that point, it is useful to look at some pertinent numbers.

To start with, it is surely reasonable to expect the super-rich to give their financial support to candidates promising to decrease the former’s tax burden. Yet that’s not what happened in the 2020 presidential campaign. Forbes noted that for every Trump-supporting billionaire (there were 133 in total), Biden was supported by 1.73 billionaires (230 in total). And, according to the Federal Election Commission’s year-end numbers, the Biden campaign managed to raise $1.074 billion while the Trump campaign managed to raise “only” $812 million. The super-rich, in other words, tended to favor a candidate explicitly promising to make them financially worse off.

Moreover, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted that U.S. income taxes are among the most progressive in the world. The latest data from the Tax Foundation show that the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent of earners rose from 33.2 percent in 2001 to 40.1 percent in 2018 (an all-time high that was reached after the Trump tax reform). In 2018, according to the foundation’s summary for that year, the “top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent),” and “the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 25.4 percent average individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.4 percent).”

The supposedly outsized influence of the super-rich on U.S. electoral politics, in other words, appears to have failed to deliver meaningful tax relief for the super-rich under recent Republican and Democratic administrations alike. That is partly why, when it comes to taxpayer-funded social spending (i.e., on health, old age, disability, family, the active labor market, unemployment, and housing), the United States is no laggard. U.S. social spending in 2019, for example, amounted to 18.7 percent of GDP — more than the figure in Australia (16.7 percent), Iceland (17.4 percent), Canada (18 percent), and the Netherlands (16.1 percent), and only a little less than the OECD country average (20 percent).

3. Heather Wilhelm, taking on the “Happy Warrior” duties, tries to get a grip on vengeful Zoomers. From the piece:

Anyway, there’s an important lesson here: Generation Z should be embarrassed, and not just because they’ve been nicknamed the “Zoomers.” Seriously, guys? This is your great rebellion? Reverting to jeans that were popular in the ’80s and attempting to cancel certain arbitrary emojis and shifting your part one inch over in your hair? Say what you will about the Boomers in the Sixties, but at least they had some originality. Just search “skinny jeans” in the New York Times, and you’ll find this relevant headline: “Jeans: Skinny Is Out, Baggy In.” It’s a headline from . . . wait for it . . . 1979. Sorry, kids: In mortifying fashion, it’s all been done before.

But here’s where things take a twist, for I have great faith in Generation Z. My children are Zoomers, and even though one of them literally just wandered into my office with his T-shirt stuffed with pillows and wearing broken fake Harry Potter glasses while mysteriously claiming that his name is “Big Chuck,” and while another recently set off the whole-house fire alarm through stealthy and unauthorized usage of our outdoors-only Halloween fog machine because he thought his bedroom would “look really cool shrouded in mist,” I think they’ll do pretty well in life.

I also employ several impressive and delightful Gen Z babysitters to whom I would be comfortable promptly handing a Senate seat or the nuclear football or an editorial position at the New York Times. Heck, now that I think about it, I would also hand my eight-year-old an editorial position at the New York Times, as it would probably be a wildly dramatic improvement over what they’re working with now.

4. Kevin Williamson considers the real cause behind the deadly blackouts in Texas. From the piece:

famously independent electric grid, which is not connected to neighboring grids in such a way as to allow the easy importation of out-of-state power. Distribution was not the critical failure in Texas — generation was. The problem with the grid was that there was not enough power coming into it. But even if the Texas grid had been connected to its neighbors, they were experiencing similar conditions and had little or no excess power to sell, with some experiencing blackouts of their own. The problem with Texas’s grid wasn’t inadequate distribution infrastructure — it was that demand was threatening to overwhelm supply in such a way and to such a degree as to cause massive, long-lasting damage to equipment. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid operator, says blackouts were imposed because the state was minutes, perhaps seconds, away from an even more drastic catastrophe that could have interrupted the supply of electricity for months. Unable to match supply to demand, the grid operator reduced demand by cutting consumers off. But they were not able to execute their plan for “rolling” blackouts — instead of being without juice for 45 minutes at a stretch, many Texans were in the dark for 45 hours or more. Some of them died.

What actually went wrong in Texas is that much of the equipment that businesses and quasi-public agencies were relying on to counteract the unusual weather was not itself able to withstand that weather. The failure was not limited to a single class of operations: Power plants went offline, but so did gas producers and pipelines. Natural-gas wellheads and processing equipment froze up; the water that comes up out of the ground with natural gas turned into ice in connector pipes; some nuclear and coal power went offline when safety sensors and other equipment malfunctioned in the low temperatures; water pipes feeding steam systems and other facilities froze up. Electricity plants had to reduce output because they were not getting natural gas and other fuels, but much of the equipment used to deliver those fuels is itself electric, meaning that the electricity plants were in effect cutting their own fuel supplies when rolling blackouts were imposed.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on an Arab Revolt — of the Biden administration’s weakness. From the beginning of the piece:

Prominent Arab political analysts and commentators are dumbfounded that the Biden administration has chosen to appease Iran and Islamists instead of working with Washington’s traditional and long-time allies in the Arab world.

In a series of articles published after the release of the US intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many Arab analysts and columnists have warned that the Biden administration was harming US interests in the Middle East.

Some said they saw the decision to release the report as a kind of sequel to the Obama administration’s failed policy of meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

They noted that the Saudi authorities had already punished those involved in the 2018 murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Biden administration, some Arab writers have said, “has adopted a policy of “antagonizing allies while appeasing enemies.”

“The Saudi judiciary has imposed the most severe penalties on the perpetrators of this morally and legally unacceptable act,” wrote Syrian journalist Abduljalil Alsaeid, referring to the murder of Khashoggi. “The Saudi leadership was keen not to politicize this case.”

2. At Law & Liberty, He Who Shall Always Be Read — of course we speak of the great Daniel J. Mahoney — reflects on a new book considering Toqueville and pauperism. From the article:

A careful engagement with Christine Dunn Henderson’s welcome new edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Memoirs on Pauperism and Other Writings, just released by the University of Notre Dame Press, reveals the multiple ways in which the great French historian, social scientist, and political philosopher remains our contemporary. As in all his writings, Tocqueville addresses the promise and peril inherent in the democratic order emerging throughout what he called “the European/Christian world.” But Tocqueville does so with a constant eye on what endures in human nature and the nature of politics in the new democratic dispensation, and that in relation to what is new and what is to be welcomed and feared.

Democracy is thus an equivocal concept for Tocqueville. It is by no means identical with a regime of political liberty although the America of the 1830s that Tocqueville visited and studied revealed that democratic equality could coexist with the full range of political and personal liberties. The “nature” of democracy — equality, just in itself, giving rise to a troubling and illiberal “passion for equality” — could and must be preserved by a precious “art” of liberty marked by local self-government, the art of association, and a vigorous and independent civil society. That was precisely Tocqueville’s noble project, to ‘save’ liberty and human greatness in the emerging democratic world, to bring together democratic justice and a modicum of aristocratic greatness.

Yet, Tocqueville feared that tyranny in the form of both hard and a uniquely democratic soft despotism was a permanent political possibility under conditions of modernity. He was above all a partisan of liberty and human dignity and not of any particular political regime or social form. There lay his distinctiveness as a political philosopher, statesman, and social scientist. He was neither unduly nostalgic for the glories of the Old Regime nor blind to new threats to the integrity of the human soul that would arise in the democracies of the present and future. He believed in democratic justice, in the palpable truth of our common humanity, of human “similarity,” as he often called it. Even the “most profound geniuses of Greece and Rome, the most comprehensive of ancient minds” failed to appreciate “that all members of the human race are by nature similar and equal.” As Tocqueville observes at the beginning of volume II of Democracy in America, it took Jesus Christ coming down to earth for people to fully understand this truth. At the same time, Tocqueville refused to idolize a “democratic” social and political ethic that was always tempted to say adieu to political greatness and to greatness in the human soul. Such is the spiritual core of Tocqueville’s political science, the central themes and emphases that animate his thought.

The great French political thinker not only provided a remarkably accurate description of “democratic man” but wrestled seriously with the problems and tensions inherent in the emerging democratic political and social order. Political philosophy thus met political sociology in a new and penetrating mix, as is evidenced in the volume under review.

3. More Law & Liberty: Scott Yenor breaks out the Enigma Device to translate Social Justice Newspeak. From the beginning of the essay:

Opponents of our new social justice dispensation often find themselves at a rhetorical disadvantage. Social justice advocates desire to replace oppressive “cultural, structural, and personal norms” with a new, more “welcoming culture.” Anyone who opposes this transformation is, by definition, unwelcoming. Who wants to be defined as unwelcoming? The rhetorical disadvantage of dissidents is only compounded by the development of new code words for social justice (like diversity or inclusion). Social justice warriors win battles simply through deploying certain terms, since this language cows and confuses their opponents.

Americans, after all, value diversity, inclusion, and equity. Diversity of faculties and talents produces inequalities — and protecting such diversity was, as Madison writes in Federalist 10, “the first purpose of government.” Inclusion reflects the universality of the rights of man, though certain people would enjoy them sooner and others later as enlightenment spread. Equity is a characteristic of impartial laws, derived from English common law, that protects and recognizes all equally before them; it provides predictable rules and doctrines for settling disputes. Diversity, inclusion, and equity produce inequalities that serve the public good: they reward productivity, expand opportunities for individuals, and provide a basis for stable common life under equal laws.

Our regnant social justice ideology redefines these words, taking advantage of their sweet sounding civic bent. This co-option represents a thoroughly new civic education. Social justice advocates have won no small ground in American political debate by seeming to adhere to the words and ideas of the old civic education, while importing a new, pernicious vision. We must re-train our ears to hear what social justice ideology peddles.

Opponents of this movement can best grasp social justice newspeak through an analysis of its public documents. What follows is based on my analysis of the state of Washington’s 2020 Office of Equity Task Force’s Final Proposal. The same word salad is served everywhere critical race theory is taught — in university task forces (like Boise State’s), in corporate trainings, even in K-12 curriculum.

4. At The College Fix, Sarah Imgrund reports on a professor who didn’t follow the race-explains-everything protocol. From the beginning of the story:

Over the past month, Lehigh University has taken actions to downgrade a video it had originally posted in late January by one of its professors on poverty and race after students on social media denounced the video as supporting racist thought.

Lehigh’s College of Business had asked Frank Gunter, professor of economics at Lehigh, to create a brief video from his recent op-ed “Three Myths About Poverty.” They posted his video on Jan. 28 as part of a series of videos directed at advising the new Biden administration on policy issues.

In his video, titled “3 Myths Concerning Poverty,” Gunter had sought to debunk what he said were three “widely-held myths”: that “poverty is mostly a matter of race,” that it is “a generational curse,” and that “the poor have no agency.”

However, some students judged the video’s content and presentation as racist and took to social media to criticize it as such, leading the College of Business to promptly take the video down.

5. At City Journal, Christopher Rufo exposes the fright of Critical-Race hucksters who reuse to defend their stupidity. From the piece:

This shift in momentum against the new racial orthodoxy, which has now grown beyond America’s borders to England, France, Italy, Hungary, and Brazil, has rattled the American Left. Their first argument against this change is that conservatives are using state power to “cancel wokeness.” New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg recently followed this line, attacking my work “leading the conservative charge against critical race theory,” declaring that the Right wants to ban critical race theory because it is afraid to debate it. This is false, of course. For more than a year, prominent black intellectuals, including John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Wilfred Reilly, and Coleman Hughes have challenged the critical race theorists to debate — and none has accepted. After Goldberg published her column, I called her bluff even further, challenging to “debate any prominent critical race theorist on the floor of the New York Times.” Predictably, none responded, catching the New York Times in a fib and further exposing the critical race theorists’ refusal to submit their ideas to public scrutiny.

The second line of attack, advanced by Goldberg and Acadia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, is that the attempt to regulate critical race theory-based programs is an “attack on free speech.” Goldberg and Sachs are attempting to reclaim the mantle of free speech, but on closer inspection, their case is legally and morally groundless. First, as legal writer Hans Bader points out, the Supreme Court has ruled that states and public schools have the ability to control curricular speech without violating free speech. Furthermore, under the Fourteenth Amendment, states and school districts have an obligation to prevent the creation of a learning environment that promotes hostility toward a certain race or sex. The courts have repeatedly ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment outweighs and limits the First Amendment when it comes to government entities adopting policies and programs that perpetuate racial stereotyping, discrimination, and harassment. Despite Sachs’s hyperventilation about threats to academia (i.e., the public-employment program for new racialist ideology), many legislatures have explicitly allowed the teaching of CRT in university classrooms; it is only forbidden to turn these principles into compelled speech, employee-indoctrination programs, and official state curricula for primary and secondary school students.

The most telling limitation in their argument, however, is that Goldberg and Sachs both refuse to deal with specifics. They present critical race theory as a benign academic discipline that seeks “social justice,” while ignoring the avalanche of reporting, including my own, that suggests that, in practice, CRT-based programs are often hateful, divisive, and filled with falsehoods; they traffic in racial stereotypes, collective guilt, racial segregation, and race-based harassment. The real test for intellectuals on the left is not to defend their ideas as abstractions but to defend the real-world consequences of their ideas.

6. At Commentary, Noah Rothman considers the downside of our downsizing world. From the beginning of the piece:

Everyone’s world got a little bit smaller during the pandemic. For many, it became a lot smaller.

Out of necessity, our varied definitions of what constituted community underwent a rapid revision. Office life disaggregated beyond the point of recognition. Children’s only window to the outside world quickly proved an insufficient replacement for the psychological reinforcements associated with human contact. Suddenly, they demanded much more of our attention. The banal duties of maintaining a household grew more intense as increased stresses were placed on home life. Digitally maintaining relationships with family and friends transformed from a pleasure into an obligation and, eventually, a chore. The outside world had become much scarier almost overnight. So, perhaps naturally, we retreated into ourselves.

But a combination of exhaustion with pandemic-related restrictions and near-miraculous medical innovation are pointing us toward the way out. The end is near, loath as some are to admit it. Many have speculated about whether the conditions we lived through during the plague year will persist after the threat has receded. Some will. Others won’t. But COVID has surely intensified one condition that was with us before the virus, and that is unlikely to disappear: the atomization of everything.

Even before 2020, we were already getting a sense that global interconnectivity is not something the mind finds especially gratifying. When the oxymoronic idea of a “global community” entered the lexicon, the very tools that gave rise to such a concept were steadily pulverizing our shared cultural touchstones into dust. Ratings for live sporting events or entertainment spectacles were collapsing well before the pandemic. Audiences were shrinking, and “influence” had become a derivative of a congregation’s commitment — not its size. The allure of big cities had waned along with the economic incentives for relocating. Enrollment in public schools and institutions of higher learning were declining precipitously. The pandemic didn’t bring about these conditions. It only accelerated existing trends.


This section admits to a love of pre-expansion baseball, of forgotten teams and storied basement dwellers. Let us therefore speak of the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates — with a 42-112 record, one of the worst-ever teams in MLB history. The Bucs’ longest winning streak was . . . two games. It was that kind of year. The pitching staff — aside from the aging righthander, Ted Wilks, who was traded midseason, along with his 5-5 record, to the Cleveland Indians — was a collection of awful records. Among the awfullest (is that a word?): Tall righthander Woody Main was 2-12, Cal Hogue was 1-8, the durable then-rookie Ron Kline (he’d still be pitching in the majors in 1970) was winless against 7 losses, and lanky, baby-faced Jim Waugh boasted a 1-6 record, accentuated by a chubby 6.36 ERA.

Certainly you are curious: Did the quartet ever pitch in the same game? Indeed they did: The setting was Forbes Field, the date was Thursday, August 28th, and before a measly home crowd of 3,561, the Pirates took on the visiting New York Giants, who delivered Pittsburgh a 14-7 beatdown. On the mound for the Giants was southpaw Dave Koslo, who went the distance in an unglamorous performance (11 hits, three walks, and seven runs — six of them earned) to pick up his ninth win of the season.

Waugh started, and by the time he was yanked in the top of the Second, the score stood 5-0. Main, in relief, took the Pirates through the Third Inning, but not before he gave up four hits and two runs. Next up was Kline, who endured one and two-third innings of grief, allowing five more runs on seven hits. The score, after five frames, was 12-1, in favor of the Giants.

Not one of the quartet, rookie James Dunn was called in by manager Billy Meyer (who had been a catcher on the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, which at 36-117 was an even worse team than the ’52 Pirates) to relieve. It would be one of only three career MLB appearances, and Dunn fared well: in two and one-third innings, he allowed no runs, no hits.

But there were more runs to be scored, and in the Eighth Inning, Hogue came in to stink it up further: One hit, following three straight walks, gave the Giants their last two runs of the afternoon. Giving Hogue his due: In the bottom of the frame, he doubled and drove in the Pirates seventh and final run.

It may be an unrivaled afternoon though in Baseball’s annals: to have that many pitchers, with such bad records — a combined 4-33 on the season! — each pitch, and so poorly, in the same contest.

A Dios

Please remember Rich Lowry’s mother, Susan R. Lowry, in your prayers, and also young Jimmy who, if the Lord is merciful, and He is, is now resting in peace.

May the Almighty Grant You and Yours Strength and Wisdom,

Jack Fowler, who sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but also hears the sound of a train, and wishes to be distracted by missives sent to

National Review

I Say Potato, You Say Pangender


Dear Joltarian,

This enterprise goes live on Friday, one day before it is slung around America and the world via email ether. The Mindful Author wishes he had a link for a piece that, alas, is not published prior to press time. Such linkage is impossible. Still, you are counseled thusly: Saturday, February 27, will be the 13th anniversary of the death of our great founder, William F. Buckley Jr. Somewhere on NRO will be a remembrance of him by Yours Truly. Please be on the lookout.

In these final moments of typing and preparation, the mystic chords of toy memory are filled with the tunes of various Mr. Potato Head commercials. Momma mia, what were these Hasbro jabronis thinking? Were they even thinking, a lost art in the Age of Emoting and Posturing? Maddie Kearns did a swell little peeling and mashing of the idiocy on NRO when the story broke, which she updated given the ensuing and quick corporate-backpedaling.

It’s a retreat though. It’s not a declaration of defeat. Be prepared, for who among you will be shocked if Hasbro gets re-woke and declares that henceforth “G.I. Joe” will be “G.I. Pat.”

Imagine the dog tags!

OK, the weekly fare of tasty conservative meat and (Mr.) Potato(es) is a head!

But First, that Backlash May Make You Think that It Just Might Be the Case that Everything Will Be Okay

Which just happens to be the title of the new book by paisana Dana Perino, and if you need her bio then you gotta fix the remote! It’s subtitle — Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman) . . . neither term which, for the record is applicable to Your Humble Male Author — explains the project at hand.

And it is that, a project: God bless Dana, because she is trying mightily to pull the trigger against triggering, hoping to instill can-do moxie and confidence in younger women so that they might reframe their thinking, believe in themselves, take risks, harness their inner power, and find serenity in all of life’s chaos (can Old Dudes get some of that?). While others encourage women to find their inner wimp and to see and contrive safe spaces, Dana is refreshingly pep-talking about empowerment.

Now, let’s be honest: It’s Dana’s own fault that she had to write this book. You see, her last one, And the Good News Is . . . Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side, kicked off a very personal mentoring passion, as she communicated with countless young women in their early 20s who reached out about the almost-overwhelming distress caused by our modern times.

Here’s the pitch: If you have a daughter or granddaughter who is this book’s sweet spot, consider getting Everything Will Be Okay (it’s not formally published until March 9th, but you can pre-order it here). Waddleyaget? A ton of common sense and wisdom: Dana delivers with guidance on topics as managing relationships (colleagues, family, love) . . . being your best self on the job . . . gauging if the chosen career path is the right one . . . how to transition from junior staffer to Da Boss . . . solving problems and finding that oh-so-needed serenity . . . and maybe even figuring how to make your worries the stuff that actually fuels solutions.

You know a job-seeker fresh out of college? An ambitious career woman looking to make her next big jump up the ladder? Get her Dana Perino’s Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman).



Democrats’ “Equality Act” Is an Unjust Civil Rights Proposal

Xavier Becerra Is Biden’s Most Divisive Nominee

Biden Stimulus Package: Wasteful and Unnecessary

Florida Leads on Voting Reform

Amazon Kneel to the Mob

Biden’s Policy of Weakness Toward Iran


David Harsanyi: Anthony Fauci Is Not Our Parent, or God

Madeleine Kearns: Andrew Cuomo, an Unfunny Caricature of Himself

Maria McFadden Maffucci: Don’t Forget Andrew Cuomo’s Other Coronavirus Victims

Zachary Evans: Andrew Cuomo & Coronavirus: New York Failures Exposed

Alexandra DeSanctis: Xavier Becerra & Nuns: Fact-Checking the Washington Post Fact-Checkers

William J. Watkins Jr.: Robert A. Taft: The Forgotten Ohio Senator Is Needed Now

Dan McLaughlin: Originalism Does Not Need a Makeover

Frederick Hess and R.J. Martin: Hostility to Free Thought Is Rampant in Higher Education

Isaac Schorr: Syracuse University Women’s Lacrosse ‘OK’ Sign Controversy: School Shamefully Bows to Woke Mob

Steven Watts: ‘Whiteness’ Studies Started in Academy, Corrupted Political Discourse

Brian Allen: Racism and Sexism Accusations Torpedo the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Jack Fowler: Stanford Lefties Must Swallow Their Hoover Hate — For Now

Steve Hanke: China Rattles Its Rare-Earth-Minerals Sabre Again

Cameron Hilditch: In the Second Cold War, Religious Americans Must Lead the Way

Itxu Díaz: The Spiritual Heart of Old Europe Aches


Kevin Hassett counsels no to the GOP tat: A Compromise on Senate Confirmations

Travis Nix suggests a stitch in time: Biden’s Stimulus Hurts Businesses. One Tax Tweak Can Change That

Mike Hunter pipes up: Keystone Pipeline Is Good for America


Kyle Smith applauds Hopkins: The Father Explores Struggles of Old Age

Armond White concludes it’s from Russia, with squirm: Dear Comrades! and Sin Challenge Narratives of Biden-Harris Era

Back to Kyle: It’s not woke being green: The Muppet Show Trigger Warning Attacks a Nonproblem

Even More Kyle: Enjoy getting wiiggy: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar Is Splendidly Silly

More Armond, who knows e pluribus pluribus when he sees it: Mr. Soul! Is the Newest Divide-America Documentary



1. The Equality Act is a stinker. From the editorial:

The Equality Act would redefine sex to include “gender identity,” thus forcing every federally funded entity — most notably schools and colleges — to treat males who declare transgender status as if they were females. It would stamp out religious exemptions by regulating religious nonprofits and even goes so far as to prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act exemption. And it would, as National Review’s John McCormack has explained, greatly expand “the number of businesses that count as ‘public accommodations’ under the Civil Rights Act.”

It is neither proportionate nor desirable to use the full weight of the federal government against every injustice, real or imagined. But the bill’s drafters are transparently exploiting the association with a historic bill fighting racial discrimination in order to smuggle in false equivalences and unsupportable claims.

For instance, the bill states that “transgender people have half the homeownership rate of non-transgender people and about 1 in 5 transgender people experience homelessness.” This is alarming, certainly, but what proof is there that the predominant cause for this is discrimination? Psychiatrists and psychologists in the field of gender dysphoria have long observed that, even in instances of social acceptance, mental health co-morbidities are high among this population.

Moral platitudes are similarly deployed to smooth over the bill’s shortcomings. President Biden — whose administration endorsed the Equality Act, and who promised during his campaign to sign it into law within 100 days of office — says that “every person should be treated with dignity and respect.” And who could object? Actually, many people could when “dignity and respect” are hijacked to include a legal requirement to treat men as though they are women in various contexts that would grossly disadvantage females.

2. The Biden political-payola-crammed “stimulus” bill is unnecessary. From the editorial:

Yet even if the economic outlook were as negative as the Democrats claim, Biden’s proposal would do little to improve it. More than one third of the so-called stimulus won’t be spent until 2022 or later. Public-education grants are expected to last until 2028, even as teachers’ unions refuse to reopen schools. That’s partially because $113 billion in education aid from the last relief bill remains unspent.

So too with $370 billion in state and local assistance, the lion’s share of which would sit unused until 2023. With some exceptions, state and local budgets are in good shape. The Committee for a Responsible Budget finds that state and local tax receipts grew by 10 percent in 2020. What the Democrats position as emergency relief is in fact a bailout of profligate public-pension plans and mismanaged blue states.

The money that will be spent this year — on checks to households and unemployment top-ups — is wasteful at best and contractionary at worst. Thanks to last year’s CARES Act, personal incomes are higher now than they were before the pandemic. Most Americans used the first round of checks to pad out their savings accounts and pay down debt. The second round, delivered in December, contributed to the highest bump in retail spending since 2009.

A deficit-funded subsidy to consumers might be a boon to economic growth if Americans went back to work, but the Biden administration is committed to making unemployment as attractive as possible. The proposed $400 unemployment top-ups, extended until September, would leave 60 percent of benefit recipients making more off-the-job than on-the-job. Not to mention Biden’s proposed federal minimum wage of $15, which would kill 1.4 million jobs according to the Congressional Budget Office.

3. In nominating Xavier Becerra to run HHS, Joe Biden has chosen an unmitigated and foul disaster. From the editorial:

As California attorney general, Becerra has been an exceptionally ruthless aggressor in the culture wars. He has attempted to use the power of the state to crush a wide array of average Americans — from religious dissenters to pro-life pregnancy counselors and independent journalists.

In 2017, Becerra filed felony charges against the pro-life activists and citizen-journalists who had gone undercover to expose Planned Parenthood’s gruesome practice of selling the body parts of aborted babies to biotech companies. Becerra had not gone after animal-rights activists for similar investigative tactics. In response to Becerra’s actions, one writer at the left-wing magazine Mother Jones called the Planned Parenthood videos “a legitimate investigation, and no level of government should be in the business of chilling it.” Becerra was rebuked by the liberal editorial page of the Los Angeles Times for his “disturbing overreach.”

In 2018, Becerra and the State of California were smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case NIFLA v. Becerra over a state law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion.

In 2019, Becerra aggressively opposed the merger of two religiously affiliated hospital chains in California because the resulting consolidated chain could reduce access to both abortion and gender-reassignment surgeries.

4. Amazon has banned the sale of Ryan Anderson’s important 2018 book on transgender policy. The Woke Gods must be obeyed. From the editorial:

As a narrow legal question, Amazon is of course within its rights to exclude books from its marketplace, whether those be works of conservative criticism, Lolita, or the Quran. But powerful institutions such as Amazon should stand up for principles, including the principle of free speech and open discourse. Jeff Bezos of all people knows that: When the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail him, he went public at the risk of some personal embarrassment, asking a pertinent question: “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

If in his position, and in Amazon’s position, one of the wealthiest men on Earth cannot afford to stand up to the mob demanding virtual book-burnings in order to suppress the communication of ideas and positions with which they are at odds, who can?

But, of course, Bezos could stand up to that mob, if he chose to. Instead, Bezos and his team apparently are content to go along with the mob, if not exactly leading it then providing it with the keys to the library, a can of gasoline, and a box of matches.

5. For sane election reform, look to Florida. From the editorial:

In a season of recriminations over election procedures, Florida stood out as an exemplar. More than 99 percent of its 11 million votes were counted by midnight on Election Day with little controversy. Meanwhile, 71.7 percent of all eligible Florida voters participated in the 2020 election, up from 65.6 percent in 2016, 63.3 percent in 2012, and 57.5 percent in 2000.

This is yet another example of the good governance of the Republicans who have run the Sunshine State for two decades. It also illustrates how the state has learned its lessons from the infamous 2000 recount. And it proves that Republicans have nothing to fear from well-run, high-turnout elections. Florida should be a model for Republicans around the country looking at their own voting systems.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, however, is not content to rest on his laurels. He’s proposing a series of reforms to head off problems that have cropped up in other states. DeSantis would ban ballot harvesting by prohibiting anyone but a voter’s family from handling his or her absentee ballot — protecting the ballot secrecy that we take for granted in the voting booth. He would prohibit mass-mailing of unrequested mail-in ballots, tighten signature requirements, keep ballot drop-boxes under the supervision of polling places, and limit no-excuses mail-in voting to prioritize in-person voting, where Florida law already requires voter ID.

6. President Biden’s Iran policy is a testament to weakness, and the antithesis of peacemaking. From the editorial:

Thankfully, no U.S. service members were killed, but one was injured. What will the administration do if the worst comes to pass in another attack?

Instead of signaling to the Iranians, as President Trump did, that the U.S. will hold them directly accountable for the actions of the militias under their control, the new team appears to have let it slide without a direct warning to Iran.

And as Yemen’s Houthi rebels continued their assault on civilian areas, Biden lifted the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation of the Iran-backed group.

Worst of all, though, the Biden administration has extended this olive branch to Tehran following a report this month revealing that the International Atomic Energy Agency found new Iranian uranium-metal production in excess of JCPOA limits. Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to curtail IAEA inspections following a February 23 deadline set by parliament if the U.S. doesn’t cave.

Contrary to what some Iran appeasers argue, this bad behavior is not the result of the Trump-era maximum-pressure campaign. Tehran is escalating now because it sees an opportunity to strong-arm Biden into lifting sanctions first.

We’re Determined to Get These Numerous Articles Circulated Before Cuomo Sends Them to Some Death Facility

1. David Harsanyi refuses to genuflect before America’s favorite bureaucrat, quasi-divinity Anthony Fauci. From the piece:

Countries such as Britain, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal have somewhat higher fatality rates, and others such as Spain, Sweden, and France have a somewhat lower rate, but there’s no evidence that a more centralized plan would have saved American lives during the pandemic. The British, for instance, employ centralized control, with not only a single-payer health-insurance model but also a state that owns all medical facilities and employs all the medical personnel. Yet, to this point, Britain has fared worse during COVID than the United States by every quantifiable measure.

The problems with a centralized approach in a massive and free nation such as the United States, on the other hand, are quite evident. A “unified approach” in this country means the Fauci approach. And the Fauci approach would mean an Andrew Cuomo approach.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” Fauci explained on PBS NewsHour back in July 2020. He would keep celebrating Cuomo’s model for the next six months.

New York has a higher coronavirus fatality rate than any country in the Western world. It is a place low in civil liberties and high in death toll. A Faucian centralized plan would have entailed strict lockdowns of the economy and the implementation of policies that compelled nursing homes in states such as Florida, with a high number of vulnerable elderly, to accept thousands of infected people. As it stands now, Florida’s fatality rate is nearly half of that in New Jersey or in Fauci’s exemplar, New York.

2. More Divinity: Madeleine Kearns mocks a Cuomosexual. From the piece:

Though his deadly mistakes aren’t amusing, the contrast between how he has acted and how he sees himself is certainly laugh-worthy.

What comedy skit of Cuomo could be more ridiculous than the sight of his own book on the window display at my local bookstore, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a picture of him on the front, hands clasped and looking regal? What could be more embarrassing for him than his appearance on Ellen last year in which he grinned at the term, “Cuomosexual,” as his host called him “charming and adorable” and said, straight-faced, that “people are in love with you.” He believed it. SNL presented Cuomo as “a man,” with at least a semblance of self-awareness. But Cuomo presents Cuomo as a god.

It’s not only conservatives who are furious with him. Last week, a news conference and rally were held outside the Department of Justice offices at which family members of elderly patients demanded a federal investigation. They will get their wish. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have subsequently opened an investigation. State assembly Republicans are moving to form an impeachment commission “to gather facts and evidence” surrounding Cuomo’s “handling and the subsequent cover-up of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.” Even state Democrats are moving to strip Cuomo of his unilateral emergency pandemic powers.

Writing in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, John Daukas, former acting attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, argued that Cuomo’s cover-up could merit federal criminal charges. And National Review’s Andy McCarthy has explained that “besides potential civil-rights liability, the Cuomo administration could face problems because the nursing homes that the state oversees receive lots of federal money through Medicare and Medicaid.”

3. More Cuomo: While no one was looking, the Ghoulvenor doubled down on what he did to nursing homes, and did it even worse for group homes. Maria McFaddenn Maffucci has the maddening story. From the article:

This dangerous directive ignored the realities of typical group-home setups — small homes with shared facilities and no place to isolate. And, adding insult to injury, such “congregate settings” for the disabled were not designated as “priority recipients” of desperately needed PPE. Under New York State’s Emergency Management Policies, “hospitals, EMS, nursing facilities, and dialysis centers” were eligible for aid with PPE, but not residences for the disabled. A watchdog group, Disability Rights New York, filed a complaint on April 9 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stating that “New Yorkers with ID/DD living in New York State licensed or certified group homes and other congregate settings are at serious risk of contracting and succumbing to COVID-19. Direct Service Providers who provide essential care for individuals in congregate care settings do not have access to PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the individuals residing in these settings and many individuals residing in these settings are unable to protect themselves from contracting the disease.”

Meanwhile, families of the disabled had heart-rending choices to make at the start of the pandemic: take their family member out of a residential setting and lose their spot there permanently, or leave them there with no chance of visiting or bringing them home for a visit.  For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for whom any change in routine can be traumatic, this sudden isolation was terrifying. Many of them were not able to understand the sudden absence of those dearest to them, and many started to regress.

And then, once the rate of infection started to slow and New York began its “un-pause” in phases, the special-needs community was once again ignored. Families desperate to reunite with their loved ones were told that there was as yet no plan for them and were given the runaround by both OPWDD and the governor’s office as to when they could reunite with their loved ones.

4. Even More Cuomo: Zachary Evans recounts how the Empire Center finally convinced people that the Emperor was buck naked. From the piece:

New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 25, 2020, executive order mandating that nursing homes accept coronavirus patients returning from hospitals has been the subject of controversy for months. Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Albany-based think tank Empire Center, initiated a crucial Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for data on coronavirus in nursing homes that would eventually shed light on the consequences of that order.

It was not until February 2021, after the state finally released accurate information, that Hammond and fellow Empire Center researcher Dr. Ian Kingsbury could analyze data on nursing-home deaths in New York. What they found is that, while the order was not the sole or even primary cause of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, it exacerbated an already-bad situation, likely resulting in “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000 resident deaths” in upstate nursing homes. (In New York City and its environs, coronavirus was so widespread that Hammond and Kingsbury concluded the March 25 order did not have a significant impact on nursing-home deaths in that area.)

Even more remarkable than the nursing-home data are the efforts to which the New York state government went to conceal them. In an interview with National Review, Hammond explained how he became interested in the data on nursing-home deaths and how the Empire Center sued the New York State Department of Health for those records.

5. Alexandra DeSanctis will not let the Washington Post’s jesuitical “fact checkers” get away with the attempt to whitewash nominee Xavier Becerra’s nun-hate. From the piece:

During a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, responding to a question from Senator John Thune, Biden’s HHS pick Xavier Becerra uttered the lines, “I have never sued any nuns. I have taken on the federal government, but I have never sued any affiliation of nuns.”

When I heard this remark, I thought to myself, “It’s just barely true enough that fact-checkers will run with it and claim he’s correct.”

Sure enough, they rose to the challenge. In the Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo — whose fact-checking efforts I’ve rebutted for NRO in the past — insists that Becerra “sued the Trump administration, not a group of nuns.”

According to Rizzo, “It’s misleading to say Becerra sued the nuns” because “the California attorney general has not filed lawsuits or brought enforcement actions against the Little Sisters of the Poor, a charity run by Catholic nuns.”

But Becerra’s assertion is true only in the narrowest sense: He has never initiated any direct legal action against a group of nuns. Though Rizzo doesn’t seem to notice it, the actual facts of the case expose how disingenuous Becerra’s response really was.

6. William Watkins goes back to the post-War era, when an Ohio Republican, Robert Taft, proved a consequential champion of sensibility and freedom, and suggests we reclaim him as a model. From the piece:

Taft disdained Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s penchant for creating new federal agencies, but he also worried about New Dealers’ inclination to intervene in international conflicts. In the words of Russell Kirk and James McClellan, Taft’s foreign policy was influenced “by two prejudices (using that word in its neutral sense): his prejudice in favor of peace, and his prejudice against empire.” The benefit of hindsight has placed a moral blemish on those who had been skeptical of entering the Second World War. But Taft was no thoughtless isolationist. His reasons are worth understanding. Kirk and McClellan describe his mindset: “For the United States, then, war was preferable to conquest or to economic ruin; but if these calamities were not in prospect, America should remain aloof.” He was, moreover, willing to change his mind as circumstances did. Indeed, in the days after Pearl Harbor, Taft voted to declare war against Japan, Germany, and Italy. But after the victory, Taft saw that too many Americans relished a perpetual involvement in matters disconnected from the national interest. He rightly worried about the future of American foreign policy.

Taft sought the Republican presidential nomination on three occasions. Each time, the liberal wing of the party, led by Thomas E. Dewey, preferred a candidate who would present himself as a better administrator of the New Deal machinery rather than as a dismantler of its would-be Soviet bureaucracy. It appeared Taft would finally get his chance in 1952. But Dewey and the East Coast establishment recruited General Dwight D. Eisenhower as their nominee. Even a man widely known as “Mr. Republican” had little chance to defeat the popular war hero, who won the party’s nomination and then crushed Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the general election.

7. Dan McLaughlin says pfooey to new liberal arguments that originalism must somehow reinvent itself with a “common good” moniker. From the beginning of the essay:

Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer argues at Public Discourse that conservatives should replace originalism with a new, refined judicial philosophy named “common-good originalism.” Hammer is a sharp guy, and one assumes that his is the best argument that could be made for this proposal. His argument is, however, unspecific in its critiques, vague in its proposals, unmoored from constitutional legitimacy, and unsound as strategy. That suggests that the problem is not the messenger, but the message.

Briefly defined, originalism is the idea that when a law is passed, it means what it is understood to mean at the time it receives the people’s approval, and it stays that way until it is changed. When the law is a statute rather than part of the Constitution, the same concept is called textualism. The words matter, including the meaning of those words when written down. Fixing the meaning of a rule is the whole point of writing it down and getting the people or their representatives to approve it as written, rather than just electing good people and telling them, “Do what you think is best.” (In P.J. O’Rourke’s phrase, this is the difference between having a Congress and having a mom.) Written rules may become obsolete, of course, but in a democracy, it is the job of the people rather than unelected judges to decide that.

Why complain about originalism? No other conservative idea has penetrated so far into both elite institutions and popular opinion in the past three decades than originalism has. Among all the elements of the post-Cold War conservative coalition, only gun-rights advocates have been arguably more successful in pressing their public-policy vision than originalists have, and the cause of gun rights has itself relied heavily on an originalist reading of the Constitution. Almost alone among conservative ideas in recent decades, originalism has compelled even its enemies in the liberal academy to contend on its turf, and has succeeded in staffing the power centers of the federal government with many of its adherents. Textualism has, if anything, been even more resoundingly successful, even among liberals.

8. The one place you are not likely to find free thought is American campuses, write Frederick Hess and R.J. Martin. From the analysis:

Today, billions in federal research funds flow to universities that don’t even make a pretense of protecting free inquiry. Of the ten institutions that FIRE just flagged as being egregiously hostile to free inquiry, seven secured taxpayer-funded research dollars with a combined value of more than $1 billion.

Taxpayers fund university research because universities are supposed to be places where scholars can pursue hard truths — forums in which responsible researchers can pursue the kind of rigorous, open-minded inquiry that is fundamental to scientific progress and the public good. Serious scholarship cannot thrive where researchers fear that the wrong topic, point of view, terminology, or conclusion will run afoul of university strictures or prevailing sentiments. That’s a recipe for politicized, unreliable research.

Safeguarding free inquiry is especially important given the lack of intellectual diversity that exists today on so many campuses. As a team of social psychologists led by José Duarte explained in 2015, political uniformity “can undermine the validity of social psychological science” by, for example, embedding “liberal values into research questions” and “steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics.” Such phenomena raise questions about the reliability of federally funded research produced at institutions that fail to safeguard free expression for those on both sides of the political aisle.

Given these stakes, public officials should insist that taxpayer funds should only support scholarship at universities that can demonstrate a steadfast commitment to free inquiry. This wouldn’t create a sweeping new expanse of federal power — it would simply ensure that colleges abide by the compact they have developed with Uncle Sam. Indeed, universities that collect federal research funds already provide a host of assurances, on everything from campus safety to hiring practices. Asking for an assurance that research funds will be used to fund independent, credible research seems like a pretty reasonable addition.

9. The academic insanity of seeing racism in the shadows of white pigmentation has now corrupted out politics, says Steven Watts. From the essay:

The notion of whiteness emerged from debates among academic leftists near the end of the Reagan/Bush era. They were wrestling with the old American political anomaly: why working-class whites supposedly voted against their own interests by failing to embrace socialism. The recent appearance of Reagan Democrats and growing working-class support for the Republican Party had been a particularly galling development. Alexander Saxton’s The Rise and Fall of the White Republic: Class Politics and Mass Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (1990), followed closely by David R. Roediger’s The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (1991), attempted to tackle this “problem” with a new perspective. “Whiteness,” each book claimed in its own way, explained all.

Saxton’s White Republic examined the dynamic development of the United States in the 19th century and reached a striking conclusion: White racism was its driving force. In his “ideological interpretation,” Saxton posited that a white man’s nation had emerged from the intersecting efforts of Southern slaveholders, Jacksonian Democrats and Whigs who pursued racist social and economic policies, frontier novelists and blackface minstrel performers, Republican ideologues who joined opportunity and egalitarianism with the glue of white racism, scientists who advocated Social Darwinism, and trade unionists who marginalized black workers to achieve white, working-class solidarity. In Saxton’s rendering, the story of America is one of creating a “white republic” by using racism to strengthen and legitimate industrial capitalism.

Roediger’s Wages of Whiteness took the racial analysis a step further. Also focusing on the United States in the 1800s, he contended that not just racism but also a deeply cynical notion of “whiteness” had been foisted onto the working class. Beginning with the modern scientific conclusion that race is not biological but socially constructed, Roediger claimed that “it has become possible to ask bedrock questions such as, ‘What makes some people think they are white?’ and “When did white people become white?’” He drew upon W. E. B. Du Bois, the notable African-American Marxist intellectual, who had asserted in his Black Reconstruction in America (1935) that shrewd capitalists had bought off industrial workers with a “psychological wage” of “whiteness” — something like, “No matter how oppressive the work discipline or class oppression you face, at least you are superior to blacks.” This was the foundation for Roediger’s argument that the “wages of whiteness” fueled the development of American capitalism, only now the old Marxist process of class formation was accompanied, and perhaps superseded, by a process of race formation. A racial manipulation of language provided one means of shaping a cross-class white identity, as when the traditional republican word “freeman,” indicating an independent voter and worker, took on a racial coloration to denote a contrast with “unfree” black slaves. The gradual whitening of immigrants, such as the Irish, as they poured into the United States in the mid 1800s, provided another. Ultimately, complicit industrial laborers joined greedy capitalists to embrace the notion that they were white, and hence superior to a “degraded” black race. In Roediger’s grand reformulation, the consolidation of modern industrial capitalism depended on a sordid series of race-mongering maneuvers that sullied notions of equality and justice, hamstrung efforts at working-class solidarity, and guaranteed the ongoing oppression of African Americans.

10. The “OK” gesture obviously isn’t. So say the Woke Police at Syracuse University, where some female athletes can be found under the bus where they’ve been thrown. Isaac Schorr has the story. From the piece:

Even this goes much too far. Was all of the offense and anger really justified? Was there any supporting evidence to suggest that the student who made the post even knew that the OK symbol was sometimes appropriated by hate groups, much less that she was using it with similarly bigoted intentions? No, but sadly, the statement gets much, much worse. It goes on to call the post “an unacceptable lapse in judgment and lack of awareness on the part of our entire team,” apologize for being “negligent and hurt[ing] people in the community we love so much,” and insist that the team is “grateful that the lacrosse community has held us accountable.”

Is it the responsibility of every American citizen over the age of 18 to monitor white-supremacist sites and understand their intricacies? How, exactly, is the rest of the team complicit in this supposed atrocity? Was anyone really hurt?

Most disturbing is the “thank you, sir, may I have another”–ism on display in the bit about being held “accountable.” What is it that they’re being held accountable for, and by whom? I, for one, do not appreciate the team’s inviting the mob to hold the rest of us accountable to its nebulous, ever-evolving standards by subjecting us to an endless torrent of online harassment.

To be clear, I don’t blame the students on the team for bowing so quickly and so low to the mob at their doorstep. I doubt very much that they wrote the statement released on their behalf, and would venture to guess that at least some of them are not happy with its contents. The culpability lies with the adults who threw these young women under the bus without a second thought to make their own lives just a little bit easier. Head coach Gary Gait, for example, is one of the sport’s most revered figures. Yet he did nothing to stand up for the team, instead calling the post a “mistake” and consenting to the tarnishing of the players he’s paid to mentor and protect. This is part of a larger trend of powerful adults and institutions failing in their obligation to shield the powerless from unfair criticism and unjustifiable consequences.

11. The Indianapolis Museum of Art is in crisis over a spew of racism and sexism and the usual charges, reports Brian Allen. From the piece:

What have we come to? Yes, a dumb thing to say, shortsighted and wrongheaded. How did we get to the sad, ugly point where museum directors are parsing audiences by race?

A museum-director friend told me a few years ago that the pursuit of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility — now an acronym called DEIA — took most of her time. She moaned and groaned — DEIA is agnostic on things such as art and scholarship — but she sees herself as a good liberal. She doesn’t realize what a minefield and a racket this will become.

Her museum website denounces systemic racism, the amorphous bugaboo these days. And her museum is still closed because of the COVID scare, even though no case of the Chinese coronavirus has been traced to a museum, anywhere. “A” is for accessibility, and, sorry to state the obvious, but a museum is not “accessible” if it’s shut. It’s a sublimely perfect and perverse case of “E” for “equity,” since everyone is barred.

12. The Woke Mafia at Stanford didn’t sharpen the cancel knives sharp enough when they went after the Hoover Institution and its more prominent conservative fellows, writes a Poorly Known Author. From the beginning of the article:

It gnaws away at Stanford University’s woke faculty: Harbored in their midst is that nominally conservative outfit, the Hoover Institution, which more than a few professors hold as an infestation of the liberal citadel. It is, after all, named after a Republican president — never mind being home to the likes of Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson and H. R. McMaster (and yes, plenty of establishment GOP types, and even a lefty or two). And there’s this: The campus is visually dominated by the striking eleven-story Hoover Tower, which scrapes the Palo Alto sky like some right-hand middle finger. Housing vast and important archives (much of the contents are about the evils of Marxist-Leninism), the tower is crowned by a 48-bell carillon that no doubt triggers faculty and students with the occasional auditory reminder of Hoover’s confounding and unwelcome presence.

Who will rid us of this troublesome think tank and its more Trumpy fellows?

There is no paucity of willing hitmen amongst Stanford’s more fevered and Hoover-obsessed faculty, who of late have mounted a campaign to diminish Hoover’s standing and to bully the institution’s more important and controversial (meaning, from their perspective, notorious) fellows. Of particular focus are the aforementioned Professor Hanson, known well in NR’s precincts and the author of The Case for Trump (word is he also has a weekly podcast); Scott Atlas, a prominent member of former President Trump’s COVID task force (his nondoctrinaire, wrong-partisan stands prompted a hundred-plus of his former colleagues to publish an open letter last September that berated him as a threat to public health); and historian Niall Ferguson, who was accused (projection warning) of suppressing the free-speech rights of students in 2018.

13. Red China holds hostage rare-earth minerals, and Steve Hanke says the Biden Administration must push back. From the article:

To underline the importance and potential potency of the rare-earths weapon, President Xi Jinping has a habit of visiting rare-earths mining sites and plants that produce the precision magnets that rely on rare earths.

But rare earths are not just vital for many weapons systems. Far from it. They are also used in a wide range of consumer products from iPhones to DVD players to rechargeable batteries. They are also critical for many “green” products, such as LED lights. Many key products, such as motors in electric cars and the generators in wind turbines, contain specialized magnets that require rare earths, and China produces 90 percent of those magnets.

The reserves of rare earths are scattered around the globe in countries such as Australia, the United States, and Myanmar, with China holding down the top spot with about 40 percent of the world’s reserves. When it comes to mining rare earths, China’s lead becomes dominant. Indeed, over 70 percent of rare earths are mined in China. Further downstream is processing. At that stage, China is even more dominant, processing nearly 90 percent of the world’s rare earths.

How did China attain such dominance across the board in rare earths? As someone who landed his first faculty position and cut his eye teeth on mineral economics in the late 1960s at the Colorado School of Mines, I have long suspected that China must have invested heavily in the Three Ms.

14. Red China’s godless dictators wants to own local Roman Catholicism as yet another means of social control. Americans, says Cameron Hilditch, need to understand and oppose this new version of the Evil Empire. From the essay:

The tactical approach that the CCP has taken toward the Roman Catholic Church is particularly instructive of how party policy on religion differs from that of Communist regimes past (and even present if one considers the Kims in North Korea). Instead of trying to drive the Catholic Church out of China altogether, the CCP seeks to increase its own influence over the Vatican. (They’ve taken exactly the same approach toward many other things like American sports leagues, international institutions, and even capitalism itself.)

On September 22, 2018, the CCP signed an agreement with the Vatican — the text of which is still secret — according to which the two parties agreed to “cooperate” in the selection of Chinese bishops. In practice, this has basically meant that the Chinese have presented their approved candidates to the pope, who then officially approves them, almost as a formality. The whole affair reflects very poorly on Pope Francis and the Vatican hierarchy. The hope was to allow Chinese Catholics worshipping underground to come out of hiding and live out their faith in public; but this “liberation” has been purchased at the price of ceding all control over Chinese Catholicism to a militantly atheist cabal of genocidal communists.

The naïveté of the Vatican in agreeing to such an arrangement has been exposed to the fullest extent by these new “administrative measures”: Article 16 says that bishops in China will be democratically elected through the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and consecrated by the Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference. No reference at all is made to the pope or the Vatican, who’ve been completely excised from the process. The CCP has cemented its sole control over Chinese Catholicism with the formal backing of the Catholic Church itself (the 2018 deal was renewed last year), leaving Chinese Catholic dissenters from the Party without even the formal backing of their own church.

In other words, this isn’t your grandfather’s evil empire. The CCP are smarter, defter, and more economically dominant than the Bolsheviks ever were. And right now, they’re succeeding at drafting Catholicism, along with the other major religions of the world, into the service of Marxism, something that even Marx himself didn’t think was possible.

15. Itxu Díaz finds a traditional religious celebration knocked around by COVID. Santiago de Compostela is nearly empty — where have all the pilgrims gone? From the essay:

In the cathedral, gloom and Gregorian. A couple of ladies pray in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, some priests wait in the confessional to attend, in a multitude of languages, the pilgrims who do not arrive, and a madman crosses the main nave talking to himself and gesticulating wildly. Suddenly, he stops in silence in front of the image of the Apostle, where he prays in silence for a few minutes and seems to regain his sanity.

This strange and solitary climate has allowed me to spend more than 20 minutes in the small crypt, with no other company than the silver urn that houses the remains of the Apostle, without the usual hustle and bustle of visitors. Normally it would be impossible to pray on your knees here without feeling a burst of light hitting the back of your head every other second. (This light, it should be noted, does not often come from the Holy Spirit, but from the cameras of Japanese tourists.)

The whole cathedral is awe-inspiring. Contemplation of the Portico de la Gloria, a Romanesque masterpiece, enlightens the pilgrim on the mysteries of faith: the original sin, the Redemption, and the Last Judgment. But none of it carries the same significance if we ignore the origin of this pilgrimage center, raised in a remote and rainy place of rural Galicia.

According to tradition, Santiago preached Christianity in Hispania (present-day Spain and Portugal), after Pentecost. However, the Spaniards did not receive the Apostle with the solemnity he deserved, and we even failed to comply with the most elementary rules of courtesy: In all honesty, we stoned him (though not fatally).

Capital Matters

1. Kevin Hassett knows a thing or two about being nominated, and wouldn’t blame Republicans for doing the turnabout thing on Biden choices. But he suggests a compromise. From the piece:

In my own case, after being chosen for the job of chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in January 2017, I was not confirmed until September of that year, despite the fact that, as the vote eventually indicated, I had the support of the majority of Senate Democrats. I did start in the White House as a consultant long before then and remember discussing the long delays in the Roosevelt Room in the summer of 2017 with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who mentioned that she couldn’t get any of her deputies through. If the majority leader’s wife is having trouble, the obstructions are real.

Ultimately, Republicans reduced the number of hours of debate required before cloture to two, but the Senate minority availed itself of other tactics, such as delaying nomination hearings. Countless low-level nominees were forced to withdraw because they saw no reasonable path to confirmation. Those who stuck it out just waited and waited. As of December 1 of last year, there were 209 Trump nominees still pending in the Senate.

When I left the council in the summer of 2019, with a year and a half left for the team to govern, the White House didn’t even bother trying to get my replacement, Tomas Philipson, a confirmation. Eighteen months was apparently not enough time to get him through. If you looked around the government, a large majority of jobs were held by people who were simply “acting,” a temporary status allowed for vacant positions.

2. Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, urges President Biden to reverse course on his terrible decision to block the Keystone Pipeline. From the piece:

Keystone has led to thousands of good-paying jobs, now snuffed out with the stroke of a pen. Again, the impact will be felt not just in Oklahoma: The pipeline here increases the transport of oil to Cushing, one of the largest transshipment and oil-storage locations in the world.

In response to the president’s decision, lawmakers have introduced legislation to mandate continuation of the project, estimating that the pipeline’s expansion would create 11,000 “direct high-paying jobs” and “up to 60,000 indirect and direct jobs.”

Indeed, by revoking Keystone’s permit, President Biden is relegating these workers to the unemployment line, when our country can ill afford to strain our already overstressed unemployment system.

But these economic realities are just some of the reasons why ending the Keystone XL pipeline is a bad policy for America.

The president justified revoking the pipeline’s permit on the grounds that the status quo undermined U.S. climate leadership. Yet in addition to the cancellation’s adverse economic consequences, it also negatively affects health and human safety. (A pipeline is a far better and safer way to transport crude oil than freight is.) It also ignores the painstaking measures that the Keystone developers have taken to enforce environmental-safety rules.

3. One little change, suggest Travis Nix, might make Joe Biden’s stimulus proposal a lot less horrid. From the piece:

Joe Biden could help thousands of small businesses survive the pandemic by allowing them to accelerate their Net Operating Loss (NOLs) deductions, using it now rather than having to wait and carry them forward to future tax years. This policy would allow businesses to monetize the losses they incur and receive a tax rebate based on their tax rate. For example, a corporation that incurs $100,000 in losses gets a rebate of $21,000 since the corporate tax rate is 21 percent. To provide the maximum benefit to pass-through firms — that is, business owners that choose to pay their business taxes on their individual taxes — the tax refund should be set at the top individual tax rate of 37 percent. This change would provide a desperately needed cash cushion to thousands of businesses that cannot take advantage of the NOL deduction this year

The NOL deduction is critical to helping firms survive economic downturns by smoothing out their tax expenses. It allows businesses to carry forward their losses to future tax years and deduct them from their future profits, or, thanks to the CARES Act, to temporarily carry them back to previous tax years and get a tax refund on previously paid taxes.

But it’s not designed to its maximum potential. Currently, it does nothing for the over 800,000 new businesses that opened in 2020 that have no previous tax years to carry back their losses. The only benefit they get from the NOL deduction is the ability to carry losses forward to future tax years. That’s less helpful for a couple of reasons. For one, carryforwards are not as valuable to businesses because of inflation. More importantly, however, tax benefits today, when businesses are struggling, are more valuable than deductions years from now when they’re turning a profit.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Anthony Hopkins in the brutal film, The Father, is brilliant, says Kyle Smith. From the beginning of the review:

Anthony is a retired engineer who has trouble with his watch. Maybe he can’t remember where he put it. Maybe his caregiver stole it from him. He’s disoriented when he’s in the former frame of mind, angry in the latter.

The watch is time, and as played with great sensitivity by Anthony Hopkins, the old man is alternately confused, frustrated, and rageful about his inability to keep track of it. He’s slipping around various stages of his life, unable to distinguish present from past. The devastating trick played by the French playwright Florian Zeller, who has brought his own 2012 play The Father to the screen in his debut as a film director, is to place the audience in the situation Anthony is in. We’re both observing and experiencing what the father is going through. I won’t spoil for you how Zeller pulls this off, but he accomplishes his purpose and then some. Cruel? The Father is absolutely brutal, particularly for those who have cared for a loved one enduring dementia. I could barely stomach the movie. An entertaining night out it is not. But we do look to art for truths, even ones we’d rather not confront.

2. More Kyle, who finds an enjoyable and laugh-inducing throw-back experience in the silliness of Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar. From the review:

Will Ferrell is one of the producers of the movie and there’s a delightfully innocent, Ferrell-ish quality to the two lead idiots and their equally moronic antagonist, just as Bridesmaids bore the stamp of its producer Judd Apatow. The two leading ladies sleep in matching twin beds, fantasize about Mr. Peanut and get really excited about Christmas way too early in the year. They’re supportive: “Star, if I said it once, I said it a million times. You could model for effing Chico’s, and I’m not just saying that.” They’re reflective: “Every time I think of frog legs I think of Kermit riding his bicycle, and how much he used his legs. He really needed them.” They’re honest: “My stomach it’s like just a bunch of rolled up sacks in there. All in line trying to get out, it’s like a traffic jam.” If I’m quoting the movie a lot, it’s because it’s really effin’ quotable. We’re talking early-2000s Ferrell-level quotable here. And the innocence is such that even though there are a lot of sex jokes in the movie, they’re just vague enough to keep the movie PG-13.

3. Armond White wants to have it out with Martin Scorsese, and uses two new Russian films, Dear Comrades! And Sin, as a handy cudgel. From the piece:

Dear Comrades! uncannily complements Biden-Harris-era panic by re-creating the massacre and clampdown of striking locomotive workers in Novocherkassk in 1962. In Sin, which anatomizes Michelangelo Buonarroti’s creative struggle during the Renaissance, we see the specter of political pressure on the artistic spirit.

Unlike Scorsese, Konchalovsky flouts the Netflixing of film culture; these are real movies, visually keen aesthetic expressions, not mere “content.” Old-school cineaste Konchalovsky, whose best film remains his 1972 version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, dramatizes characters and dilemmas that connect the present to our Western heritage. (If he cast Daniel Kaluuya as Alexander Pushkin, he’d be filmmaker of the month for Antifa and Black Lives Matter.)

Sin’s Michelangelo (Alberto Testone) carries the weight of personal, national, soulful obligations; Konchalovksy’s exalted visual style recalls Franco Zeffirelli’s classical imagery in the underrated film about Saint Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun and Sister Moon; so does the spiritual, homoerotic tension between the genius artist’s creative struggle and his practical career maneuvers — the best drama of its kind since Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato.

4. When the Muppets can trigger, you know peak insanity is being reached. Kyle (yet again!) ridicules the madness. From the piece:

It’s now “offensive content,” didn’t you know this? “Negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people and cultures.” Disney, fanning itself and calling for a glass of water, requests a moment to “acknowledge . . . harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.” Johnny Cash once performed near a Confederate flag; Joan Baez once did a fake Indian accent. Sorry, I should have told you to position yourself by the nearest fainting couch before I told you. I hope you didn’t injure yourself when you collapsed in shock.

The inclusivity game sure has changed. At the time it aired, The Muppet Show (like its parent Sesame Street) was noted for making an effort to nudge young viewers away from thinking only in terms of white Americans, taking pains to include a wide variety of ethnic types in the zany fun. As Deadline suggests, “The Muppets [sic] was once celebrated for its depictions [of] Native American, Middle Eastern, and Asian people.” Today, if you portray any member of any of those groups, you’d better be sure nobody gets made fun of. How dare anyone be silly on a comedy show? In order to counteract the effects of noxious stereotypes, the Muppets clearly should have substituted different noxious stereotypes, the stereotypes progressives love about minorities being perpetual victims. Sam the Eagle could have been shown exploiting Asian Muppets as they built a railroad or something.

5. Armond Encore: He finds Mr. Soul! to be just the latest Tinseltown effort to divide America. From the beginning of the review:

We are experiencing the most propagandized period of American filmmaking since World War II. But the goal isn’t cultural unity as it was then. Proof of this dire circumstance is found in the new documentary Mr. Soul! about the relatively obscure media personality Ellis Haizlip.

Haizlip, a bon-vivant colleague of James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, and other race-conscious sophisticates of the late 20th century, gets his own biography in Mr. Soul! That title references Soul! — the television series Haizlip hosted from 1968 to 1971, which showcased the period’s burgeoning black popular culture and political stirrings. His guests ranged from Al Green to Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte to Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka to Stevie Wonder, the Spinners, and Louis Farrakhan.

But Haizlip himself gets sacrificed to “the movement” — specifically to co-directors Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard’s trendy notion that black American politics and culture have not changed. Through Haizlip’s mostly forgotten semi-celebrity, they use the past to promote the Millennial ideal that activism is all, that culture and self-expression in the cause of politics are everything.

It’s a proposition worth arguing over, but nobody does. Most current docs and dramatic features are angled toward politicization. Mr. Soul! commemorates Haizlip as a figurehead of cultural segregation. An outrageous closing montage of contemporary black celebrities who represent national, cultural division supposedly fulfills the entrepreneurial dreams of impresario Haizlip.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. At The Catholic Thing, beloved Hadley Arkes contemplates the moral alchemy of the political party. From the piece:

The new Administration is also determined to promote transgenderism as a doctrine to be taught in public schools, and promoted in any organization that benefits from public funds and regulations. At the same time, the Administration stands fully behind the teaching of the 1619 Project: that this American regime was founded for the preservation of slavery, and marked enduringly as corrupt. Which is to say, one of our major parties has now incorporated a contempt for the American Founding and the institutions it put in place.

In the recent presidential election, we were faced with two candidates unappealing in different ways. The mystery is why so many educated people became so fixated on Donald Trump that they could not understand how some of us saw a choice between two Administrations, reflecting differences that promised to be systematic, as morally momentous.

During the Civil War, Catholics did not fit comfortably in an anti-slavery movement that was powered by a militant Protestantism. One young Irish immigrant joined the Union army, and his decision was met with incredulity by his family. But in a note to his family, he showed a grasp that well exceeds that of the party of “1619” in our own time. “This is my country,” he wrote, “as much as the man who was born on the soil. . . . This is the first test of a modern free government in the act of sustaining itself against internal enemies . . . if it fails, then the hopes of millions fail and the designs and wishes of all tyrants will succeed . . . Irishmen and their descendants have . . . a stake in [this] nation.”

2. At Commentary, Noah Rothman makes sure we are aware of Joe Biden’s favorite lie (after all, there are so many from which to choose!). From the article:

We can only assume by invoking “Pinocchios” the president is accusing the CBO of being less than truthful. That is, if we assume that he’s referring to the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, which uses Pinocchios as a metric to evaluate relative truthfulness. It’s unclear what Biden is specifically referring to, but the Post did evaluate the president’s claim earlier this month that “all the economics show” that if you raise the minimum wage, “the whole economy rises.” Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler determined that Biden’s assertion that there is near “universal consensus” among economists in favor of his economic preferences deserved “Two Pinocchios.” Perhaps the president is confused.

The president’s claim that economists agree that there are almost downsides to passing the largest single spending bill in American history is similarly mendacious.

Larry Summers, for example, is a serious guy. As the former Clinton administration Treasury Department official and the President of Development Economics and Chief Economist at the World Bank, he should be. Summers has warned that the risk of such a dramatic influx of capital into the economy would be to invite runaway inflation — a sobering prospect given the profound political instability that follows when the money in your wallet doesn’t have the same value that it did yesterday. Olivier Blanchard, a former chair of the economics department at MIT, agrees with Summers. “This would not be overheating,” he said of the proposed COVID relief package, “it would be starting a fire.” Some, including former members of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, have recommended legislative triggers in the relief bill that would close off additional spending if the economic recovery beings to pick up steam.

3. More Commentary, as Christine Rosen looks for Socialism’s soul, and finds nothing there. From the piece:

Is dignity to be found in paying people for the tasks they perform in their private lives? Or paying them for raising their children (as even Republican Senator Mitt Romney has suggested with his recent child allowance proposal?) Or can dignity only occur when the government pays everyone an income regardless of whether or not they work at all?

One need not idealize the Sisyphean tasks of daily life — the cleaning, cooking, and caring for others — to understand that doing them has a worth not measurable in dollars. But context matters. Socialists like Federici would prefer that the context always be political. In their view, no private act is without political significance. Therefore, nothing one chooses to do in one’s home should be free from government intervention (and ideally, payment).

In practice, Federici’s approach suffers from the same totalizing worldview as the capitalists she excoriates.

For socialists like Federici (and for an increasing number of progressive activists who embrace such ideas), private acts can be made meaningful only if they are put to political purpose, namely, the destruction of capitalism. As Federici argued in a 1975 essay, “Wages Against Housework”: “To say that we want wages for housework is to expose the fact that housework is already money for capital, that capital has made and makes money out of our cooking, smiling, [expletive that describes sexual intercourse].”

4. At Gatestone Institute, Richard Kemp finds a generation that has been duped by the bigotry of BDS. From the beginning of the piece:

Yet again we approach the depths of the annual Jew Hate Week around the world. Its organizers know better than to call it what it is. They brand their hatefest “Israel Apartheid Week”, but their true meaning and purpose is blindingly obvious. Since its early festerings in Toronto in 2005, Jew Hate Week has inflicted itself on the world, polluting universities from America to Australia and from South Africa to Northern Ireland.

Held on campuses at around this time each year, Jew Hate Week is the racist Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s flagship event for subverting university students to their malevolent cause. Palestinian-led, at the forefront of BDS are Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and War on Want in the UK. Democrat Squad members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are among its main cheerleaders in America. In Britain, disgraced former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a staunch supporter as are many of his party including members of parliament.

BDS trumpet their claim to support “freedom, justice and equality” for the Palestinian people. They are less open about their desire to eradicate the Jewish state for fear they would lose backing from individuals and organizations that have a genuine desire to improve the lives of Palestinians but do not want to eliminate a whole country and its Jewish citizens.

Qatar-born Omar Barghouti, founder of BDS, has repeatedly rejected a two-state solution, instead advocating one state: “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine”. He makes clear that his definition of “Palestine” includes the entirety of the State of Israel.

5. At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher is rightly alarmed by a new Gallup survey that finds America has been queering the young. From the article:

This is a staggering finding, whether you think the news is positive, negative, or neutral. This kind of change in something as fundamental as sexual orientation, in such a short period of time, is mind-blowing.

The trans part is the most shocking: between Gen X and the Millennials, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by 600 percent. Between Gen X and their children’s generation, Gen Z, the number of self-identified trans people has increased by 900 percent.

This is the effect of the collapse of cultural standards, and the propaganda campaign waged in the media and in schools. Today I had a private Zoom conference with senior clergy of a conservative American denomination. They said that the trans thing is exploding among their youth — kids who were raised in this conservative church — and pastors are struggling to know how to talk about it. One cleric said other pastors tell him that they don’t want to “lead” with preaching on transgenderism, for fear of alienating seekers. He said he tells them that you have to take that risk, because families and congregations are being hammered by propaganda all the time.

I agreed, and told him that pastors have to find the courage to tell the truth, no matter what it costs. The dominant culture knows what it believes about transgenderism, and does not hesitate to teach it, constantly. In my experience, parents don’t know what to say or do. If they don’t learn about it from the church, where will they learn it?

One cleric said that in his church’s youth group, some kids stood up and walked out when they begin to present the Church’s teachings on the body, sex, and gender. “They have been told in school that whenever you hear somebody criticize trans, that you are to stand up and walk out,” the cleric said.

I pointed out that this is what Solzhenitsyn told his followers in the Soviet Union to do when confronted with lies: stand up and walk out. Amazing that the other side is using the same tactics against the church!

6. At Law & Liberty, David Schaeffer attacks the infantilizing of minority students. From the essay:

The Ebonics controversy is now passé. Instead, the cutting edge in education theory is led by a scholar who argues that grading students on the basis of the quality of their work, rather than their perceived “effort” or the sheer quantity of their submissions, is inherently racist and a major contributor to inferior academic performance by black students. The leading proponent of this position is Asao Inoue, Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion for the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University. He is the 2019 Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, a past member of the CCCC Executive Committee, and the Executive Board of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The CCCC has itself awarded Inoue two “Outstanding Book” awards for publications over the past half-dozen years.

As is to be expected of a scholar of such repute, Professor Inoue supplements his base salary and royalties by periodically making the rounds of the college lecture circuit. On January 21 Inoue offered a Zoom lecture, sponsored by several departments at the College of the Holy Cross (where I teach), and attended by a sizable number of faculty and administrators from Holy Cross and other academic institutions, devoted to explaining how to use what he calls “Labor-Based Grading Contracts for Socially Just Teaching.”

Inoue began his presentation by calling for the audience to engage in a ten-minute pause to engage in “mindfulness” (an unusual step for a lecturer, for sure). He then offered a talk, the character of which can be illustrated by some of the PowerPoint slides on which he relied. Following an initial slide that carried the simple legend “Short Argument about White Language Supremacy and Standards for Grading,” the next one offered a unidirectional flow chart (under the heading “Language Travels with People”), illustrated by balloons reading (from left to right) “Language,” “People,” “Language Standards,” “Good Writing,” (the latter phrase in scare quotes), and “White Supremacy.” I’ll cite just one more here: “Bottom Line: in courses that use and teach writing, if you use a single standard to grade student writing, then you reproduce white language supremacy.” (Inoue, it might be noted here, is not himself black — his parents were of Japanese and European ancestry — but he considers himself a sort of honorary black person, since as a young child he lived in a poor black neighborhood.)

7. At The College Fix, the great Jennifer Kabbany reports on a Harvard alumni club cancelling an event because it featured an expert on . . . cancelling. From the beginning of the piece:

Harvard Business School Club of New York has cancelled an event set to feature James Lindsay  —  an expert on cancel culture.

Lindsay is co-author of the 2020 book “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody,” and founder of New Discourses, a website that takes on trending educational, cultural and social justice issues with a critical eye.

Lindsay, who holds a PhD in mathematics, is also a member of the “grievance studies“ publishing project. He was slated to discuss “Cynical Theories” at the Harvard Business School Club event, set for March 11. But on Tuesday night, he tweeted it had been cancelled.

“Lmao! I had been invited to speak for the Harvard Business School Club of New York about Cynical Theories, and because someone was upset that I exist, they changed the moderator to their chief equity officer, Hemali Dassani, and then, when I didn’t back down, cancelled the event,” he tweeted.

8. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley J. Birzer, is on a Robert Nisbet kick, and discusses the importance of his 1939 dissertation. From the essay:

Though not awarded the degree of Ph.D. until February 1940, Nisbet had actually written and completed his dissertation, “The Social Group in French Thought,” rather speedily, beginning it in January 1939 and finishing it a mere six months later, in July 1939, thus allowing Nisbet to become a full-time instructor at Berkeley in the autumn of 1939. “Would it be a better dissertation had I had the two or so years which normally go into dissertation writing?” Nisbet asked in 1980. “Possibly. But who ever knows for sure?” he answered himself, noting that “I might very well have become entangled in ramifications, byways, complexities and subtleties to such a degree that the work would never have been completed.” Further, Nisbet stressed, there existed nothing original in the dissertation. “All that I will lay claim to (and I am borrowing from Pasteur’s celebrated remark) is a mind that had somehow become sufficiently prepared by the end of 1937 to be favored by chance: in this instance the sheer chance of one day coming upon the writings of French conservatives in the Berkeley library,” he claimed. “All else has flowed from this chance encounter.” As such, Nisbet knew that he had gained as much from his library work with Teggart as he had from his courses. “I really think I learned more from Teggart by book-running, with its inevitable and cherished moments of conversation, than by taking seminars from him.” Again and again, Nisbet proclaimed the brilliance of Teggart. “He was the most erudite man I have ever known, and exhibition of this particular strength came as naturally to him as breathing.”

Contrary to Nisbet’s customary humility, the dissertation is a tour de force, a well-researched and complex, interlocking series of intellectual biographical sketches, tracing Western thought from the high Middle Ages through the thought of Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Louis de Bonald, Félicité Robert de Lamennais, Auguste Comte, Frederic LePlay, and Emile Durkheim, with sidenotes on other vital figures such as Joseph de Maistre. The thinkers from Bonald through de Maistre constituted as a sort of “Reactionary Enlightenment.” Though Nisbet would publish his most famous work, The Quest for Community, fourteen years later, that book would not have been possible had it not been for the dissertation. And yet the two works are unlike enough to consider the dissertation on its own fine merits. It should be remembered, Robert Alexander Nisbet was only twenty-six when he wrote the dissertation, and he did so at the end of only three years of graduate work. It was, he admitted years later, a sort of “Hail Mary.”

9. Double Dose of Double-B: Professor Birzer follows with another Nisbet essay for TIC, diving deeper into the dissertation. From the beginning of the essay:

Robert Nisbet’s dissertation began by lamenting that the history of freedom has been written from the standpoint of the individual person rather than from the standpoint of the group — that is, the intermediary institutions of family, church, community, club, union, and voluntary association. Yet, noted Nisbet, rarely do we find in actual reality the individual abstracted from a myriad of groups to which he belongs. Though he did not self-identify this way, Nisbet was writing as a humanist and as a personalist. After all, he wrote, “it was not the individual, asserting his rights and freedom, that constituted a threat to state omnipotence; it was the assemblage of feudal groups, the gilds, corporations, the Church, and even the powerful families, which constituted the real menace.” Taking his cue from the French philosophers whom he so admired, Nisbet took his analysis even further, proclaiming: “Only by his membership in the group does he become a social reality.”

Nisbet, much like his contemporary, Christopher Dawson, argued that medieval Western society was not merely pluralistic, but so much so that one might correctly dismiss the power of large political entities as essentially non-existent. Yet, in a society and era that was, for all intents and purposes, stateless, the individual did not roam freely. Rather, each individual belonged not merely to a plethora of intermediary institutions, but he was also essentially corporate by his very nature of belonging. Thus, “personality identity was expressed in terms of what a man belonged to, not what he was” with medieval life being “nothing so much as a complex of fellowships.” From the Roman republican inheritance of family, the medieval accepted patriarchy and the supremacy — in political and legal matters — of the man. Additionally, it related almost all things in society to kinship, whether that kinship be biological or fictive. “Most of the associations, like the feudal fief, were contractual in origin,” Nisbet argued, “nevertheless in structure and function, as well as aim, they were high suggestive of kinship organization.” Members of the various organizations pledged loyalty to one another, thus binding them to the new as well as to the eternal. Consequently, law was based on customs, norms, mores, and habits. Indeed, “the idea of an absolute monarch as the source of law and as superior to law was wholly alien to medieval civilization,” and, therefore, “law arose out of the social life of the people, out of customs, and especially from the inner order of the associations and groups.” Law represented not sovereignty but responsibility. And, so contrary to our present world, “law was private.” Because authority and society were so pluralistic, the medieval concept of the world rejected both statism and individualism.


Down one rabbit hole (not Maranville) after another Your Humble Author went, stumbling into the 1918 World Series, awondering — was there a goat for the Chicago Cubs, defeated in six close games by Babe Ruth and his Red Sox?

It seems so, and he went by the name of Max Flack, who may be better known by Baseball Nerds because he once played for two different teams on the same day. About that first: On May 30, 1922, the Cubs’ outfielder was traded, straight up, to the St. Louis Cardinals for Cliff Heathcote. It so happened the transaction came while the Cards were in Chicago for a doubleheader. In the first game, which the Cubs won, 4-1, Flack went 0-for-4 with an RBI (grounded out with the bases loaded), while Heathcote went hitless in three at bats.

How such numbers motivated the franchises to seek the others’ outfielders is a mystery, but between the games the deal was made, and Flack and Heathcote swapped clubhouses and uniforms. The new duds provided a speck of spark: Flack went 1-for-4, while Heathcote went 2-for-4. The Cubs took the second game too, prevailing 3-1.

About that 1918 World Series . . . in which a smart play here, an avoided play there, might very well have turned the affair into something for the Windy City to celebrate.

In Game 4, played in Beantown, the Sox — having won two of the first three contests — would add their third win: a single, a passed ball, and a throwing error in the bottom of the 8th Inning gave the home team its go-ahead and winning run. 3-2 was the final score. A most interesting thing happened during the game though: For the first and only time in World Series history, a man was picked off twice in one game. That man was Max Flack. In a close game, every screw-up matters.

Chicago won the next day, but with the Series on the line for Game 6, Flack — who was the considered the NL’s best defensive right fielder — had another miscue. It was a biggie: In the bottom of the 3rd Inning, he dropped George Whiteman’s line drive, allowing two Red Sox runs. They were the only runs Boston would get, or need, that day, as they clinched the World Championship, prevailing 2-1, courtesy of Carl Mays’ complete-game three-hitter.

Some ne’er-do-wells from the infamous Black Sox — the other Chicago team — claimed it was Flacks’ play in 1918 that served as an inspiration for their throwing the 1919 World Series. An intriguing claim — but one never proven.

A Dios

A sweet woman, a family member of a colleague, has passed away. Would you in your prayers remember her, so that she made indeed rest in God’s eternal and beloved peace? Also the same, on his anniversary, for WFB? Many thanks for this.

May The Ancient of Days Watch Over You,

Jack Fowler, who is reachable until the day comes when he is not, at

National Review

Rush to Rush Judgment

Rush Limbaugh alongside William F. Buckley Jr. celebrating National Review’s Golden Anniversary in 2005

Dear Weekend Jolter,

As the attending image shows, at NR’s 50th Anniversary gala in 2005 (a sensational celebration held at the National Building Museum in Washington), it mattered very much to Bill Buckley that Rush Limbaugh was at his immediate side that triumphant night. The two were close: mutual admirers and supporters who fought the same enemies by different and complementing means. And now they were reveling in Bill’s accomplishments, accumulated over a half century by relentless advocacy and hard work and a healthy dose of wit.

Both happy warriors are now gone. Resting in peace, oremus.

Well, not all are oremusing. Down here, the news of Rush’s demise sparked an outbreak of grave-dancing glee, and its harsher cemeterial-urological variations. An example: Yale Law School’s Scott J. Shapiro tweeted “I wouldn’t say I was happy Rush Limbaugh died. It’s more like euphoria.” Feeling better now, professor?

Our Brittany Bernstein rounded up the usual suspects to provide a rundown of liberal-celebrity castigating of the departed conservative icon. Do read it: You’ll find the freak flags flying high and snapping in the gales.

Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty, good man, pushes the rock up a hill, calling attention to the practice that should remain in place: We should not speak ill of the dead. A most commendable practice. It should come as no surprise that Big Jim’s essay was vilified by social-media snarks.

Amidst the week’s melancholy (amplified by the onset of the Lenten season) there is much to share. Since you are here, buck up, slap on a smile, and forward march thyself to the WJ.



Rush Limbaugh: Conservative Talk Radio Icon, RIP

Student Loan Forgiveness: Biden’s New Plan Is Still Bad Policy

Trump, McConnell & Senate Republicans Fight over Future of the Party

It’s Time to Get the National Guard Off Capitol Hill

Rush Reflections

Dan McLaughlin: Rush Limbaugh: A Voice for His Time

Jim Geraghty: Rush Limbaugh vs Howard Stern: Remembering the Media’s Comparison

Scot Bertram: Rush Limbaugh Had Unbreakable Bond with His Listeners

Jack Fowler: Farewell, Rush Limbaugh: A Voice Like No Other


Rich Lowry: Media Failures on Andrew Cuomo the Lincoln Project — Why No One Believes Anything

Andrew C. McCarthy: The Times Corrects the Record on Officer Sicknick’s Death, Sort Of

Nick Murray: Coronavirus Emergency Powers for Governors Need to Be Restrained

Alexandra DeSanctis: Jen Psaki and the Identity Defense

Howard Husock: Biden’s Executive Order on Housing Won’t Help Minority Groups

Isaac Schoor: The Dishonesty of Biden’s COVID Messaging

Jimmy Quinn: Biden’s Confusion on How to Talk about Genocide

Tim Morrison: Will Biden’s Nominees Confront Red China

Dan McLaughlin: Trump’s Political Movement: The Twelve Flavors

Mario Loyola: Will Trump Voters Lose Trust in Democracy

More Rich: It’s a Blacklist, Pure and Simple

Andrew Micha: America’s Cultural Revolution Will Leave Scars

Elliott Abrams: The Deterrent Message Iran Needs to Hear

David Harsanyi: Bill Gates’ Climate Hysteria

Capital Matters

Brian Riedl on the “T” word: Trillion-Dollar Budget Deficits Are the Largest in Modern History

Daniel Tenreiro finds conservative investing: 2ndVote Funds is a New Counterweight to Stakeholder Capitalism

Timothy Fitzgerald appeals, with tariffs towards none: Oil Tariffs Are Bad for Consumers

From the New Issue of National Review

Kevin Williamson captures the descent: Minnesota Nasty

Sarah Ruden hits a Homer: In Defense of the Classics

Bing West calls Strike Three: Three Wars, No Victory – Why?

Robert VerBruggen is not a minimalist: Minimum-Wage Complexities

Lights. Camera. Review.

Kyle Smith is fine with blacklists. The good ones. Hollywood Double Standards Are the Problem

More Gina: Madeleine Kearns is sure she’s not going away. Gina Carano Won’t Be Canceled

More Kyle, who praises a painter.  Sin Explores Michelangelo’s Unbounded Genius

Armond White weaves on Webb. Jack Webb and Anti-Communist TV Were Better than Today’s Woke Fare



1. Our formal remembrance of El Rushbo. From the editorial:

He had an outsize role in conservative politics for 30 years and could instantly elevate a cause or argument. He was especially influential when Republicans were out of power, at the beginning of the Clinton years (the new Republican House majority made him an honorary freshman in 1994) and in the Obama years.

His three-hour program, listened to by 20 million people at its height, represented a crack in the dominance of the liberal mass media and foreshadowed the rise of a broader alternative conservative media.

He loved Bill Buckley — the feeling was mutual — and was friends with many people at this institution. A humble man in person, who performed countless acts of personal generosity that no one will ever hear about, he fought his lung cancer at the end with the heart of a lion. R.I.P.

2. Even a diminished debt-cancellation scheme is a bad idea. From the editorial:

The good news is that President Biden has scaled back the Left’s ambitions on both fronts. Where some have called for $50,000 in debt cancellation, Biden seems more comfortable with $10,000, perhaps allowing higher amounts in special circumstances. Biden has also been skeptical of his ability to make this change unilaterally and is asking the Department of Justice to review the law.

The bad news is that even $10,000 of blanket forgiveness is a bad idea, for the same reasons we laid out previously.

Student debt is not a “crisis”; most students graduate with manageable levels of debt, and those with extremely high debt burdens tend to be the folks who got postgraduate degrees or chose to attend expensive private schools. Moreover, if someone has a high debt burden and a low income, he can already, under current law, choose an “income-based” repayment option that forgives the debt after he makes affordable payments for a period. There are certainly sympathetic cases where students were suckered in by colleges’ fraudulent claims, or where students attended school but didn’t graduate, gaining some debt with no degree — but blanket forgiveness, even limited to $10,000, does not target such cases, much less prevent them from continuing.

3. In this corner, Donald Trump. In that corner, Mitch McConnell. We find some of 45’s blows below the belt. From the editorial:

Regardless, the more compelling explanation for the Georgia losses is that Trump divided the party with his outlandish attacks on Georgia officials who wouldn’t endorse his conspiracy theories about the election and discouraged Republican turnout in contests where they didn’t have any votes to spare.

For good measure, Trump included the smear that McConnell is weak on the CCP because of nonexistent business holdings in China.

It is certainly true, as Trump stated in the abusive terms, that McConnell isn’t charismatic; firebrands don’t typically rise to leadership in the Senate. McConnell is, to his credit, an institutionalist. He is also canny, tough-minded, and willing to play the long game in advancing the interests of the Republican Party and of conservatism. This doesn’t mean that his judgment is flawless. He’s made some wrong calls in GOP primary fights over the years, and surely will again.

But he’s genuinely interested in building up his party, rather than tearing it down if he doesn’t get his way. The same can’t be said of his antagonist.

4. That Capitol Hill has become an armed camp is absurd. From the editorial:

To be sure, there are fewer troops: On Inauguration Day, there were some 25,000. Now it’s around 6,000. But already there have been worrying changes to initial assurances, as well as public statements that suggest a more permanent military-style footprint for the Capitol.

Even the original plans called for a continued troop presence in the thousands into March. But according to a D.C. Fox affiliate, assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security Robert Salesses is considering plans to maintain some level of National Guard presence on the Capitol “at least through fall 2021.” And in late January, acting Capitol Hill Police chief Yogananda Pittman suggested that at least some of the current security measures be made permanent. It’s worth remembering, in this context, that the perimeter fencing erected the day after the riot was supposed to be up only for 30 days. We’re past that benchmark, and there is no sign of its coming down anytime soon.

The idea of extending the current extreme security measures on the Hill indefinitely has done the seemingly impossible — achieved bipartisan condemnation. D.C. congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, and Michigan representative Lisa McClain, a Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, have both spoken out against this prospect. Neither so far has been able to get any answers about what’s coming next.

A Dozen and Then Some Articles of Splendor and Wisdom

1. Researching how the MSM “covered” the Lincoln Project and Andrew Cuomo scandals, Rich Lowry is not surprised that no one believes anything. From the piece:

The Lincoln Project, the great conquering super PAC of the 2020 election, hailed as the work of geniuses and lavished with attention on cable news, has imploded upon revelations that it is a sleazy scam.

And the widely circulated story of the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, a key element of Trump’s second impeachment, is at the very least murky and more complicated than first reported.

It’s one thing to get a story wrong under deadline pressure; it’s quite another to get it wrong despite copious, readily available evidence to the contrary over the course of months, which is the case with the Cuomo and Lincoln Project stories.

All it took to realize that the heroic Cuomo narrative didn’t add up was to look, almost from the very beginning, at any of the COVID trackers that showed New York had one of the worst records in the country in terms of total deaths and deaths per capita.

Amazingly enough, the myth of Cuomo continued unabated even when the governor rescinded his nursing-home policy last May and it was already obvious it had been a profound policy error.

2. Andrew C. McCarthy corrects the record thoroughly. If only the New York Times honestly admitted how it murdered the truth about the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. From the article:

Second, and more significantly, the death of Officer Sicknick became a building block for the House’s impeachment of former President Trump and of the allegations posited by the Democratic House impeachment managers that were publicly filed in their pretrial brief on February 2. By then, there was already substantial reason to question the fire-extinguisher allegation.

Prosecutors have an obligation, rooted in due process and professional ethics, to reveal exculpatory evidence. That includes evidence that is inconsistent with the theory of guilt they have posited. Even if Sicknick’s death was causally connected to the rioting, prosecutors would be obligated to correct the record if it did not happen the way they expressly represented that it happened. The House impeachment managers had not done that last week when NR published my column raising that issue, and to this day, although the impeachment trial is now over, we are still in the dark about the circumstances surrounding the officer’s tragic death at age 42.

Which brings us back to the original Times report. The “updated” version is, to put it mildly, confusing. At first, it attributes to unidentified “authorities” the claim that Sicknick “died from injuries sustained ‘while physically engaging’ with pro-Trump rioters.” The Times then describes Sicknick as “only the fourth member of the force to be killed in the line of duty since its founding two centuries ago.” That assertion is published as if it were an established fact, with no source.

But has it been established that Sicknick was “killed”? Has it been established that he died from injuries sustained while physically engaging with pro-Trump rioters? To my knowledge, it has not. And even the Times implicitly admits that it is unsure of what it is saying.

3. Nick Murray has had enough, and who hasn’t: It’s time to curtail governors’ COVID dictatorships. From the analysis:

In nearly one-quarter of the states, only the governor has the power to issue or terminate an emergency. The legislature is not required to concur with the declaration. This gives the chief executive sole discretion over where and when an emergency exists, and when it ceases to exist. This is true in Vermont, Washington, Ohio, and Hawaii, all of which are among the worst-ranking states when it comes to the potential to abuse emergency power. And Vermont is the worst of the bunch: It allows some emergency orders to remain in effect up to 180 days — yes, six months — after the emergency is terminated.

If the people can’t contact their elected officials to end an emergency, and thus end the use of emergency power, what stops a chief executive from continuously renewing the declaration and using this power in perpetuity? This accurately describes what many Americans have witnessed over the last year. This is an untenable situation that threatens the very idea of representative government.

At the time most of these state laws were constructed, few could have predicted they would be used to micromanage every interaction within society in the face of a pandemic. Indeed, most of these laws were established to help states respond to a natural disaster or terrorist attack, not a public-health matter like COVID-19.

4. Alexandra DeSanctis says one of the many reasons Jen Psaki performs poorly is her fixation with the “identity politics” go-to. From the piece:

We’re less than a month into the Biden administration, and it’s already become readily apparent that White House press secretary Jen Psaki is not very good at her job. Her most obvious tic thus far during evasive briefing-room performances is to dodge questions with the help of identity-politics non sequiturs.

Her very first day on the job, Psaki received a query about President Biden’s imminent plans to undo the Mexico City policy and the Hyde amendment, both of which prevent direct federal funding of abortion.

“I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly,” Psaki replied. “He started his day attending church with his family this morning. But I don’t have anything more for you on that.”

The press corps never received a response about the Mexico City policy, which was revoked the subsequent week. The implication of her non-reply was that the White House did not owe the public an explanation about Biden’s policy stance on abortion; his identity as a Catholic was defense enough.

As it turns out, this reflex is Psaki’s primary means of dispensing with questions to which she has no answers. When the GameStop story was dominating the news cycle, a reporter asked whether the White House was concerned about the stock-market activity and whether there had been conversations with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the subject.

5. When it comes to housing policy, Howard Husock finds the Biden administration swapping out old sins for new one. From the article:

It is incontrovertible, as President Biden stated in his executive order, that “during the 20th century, Federal, State, and local governments systematically implemented racially discriminatory housing policies that contributed to segregated neighborhoods and inhibited equal opportunity and the chance to build wealth for Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native American families, and other underserved communities.” Most significantly, the Federal Housing Authority would not insure mortgages for blacks in white neighborhoods, and racial covenants — deed restrictions against blacks (and Jews, by the way) — were the norm into the 1950s. Urban freeways ploughed through low-income, often (though not exclusively) minority, neighborhoods, displacing thousands. Today, we are left with the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Chrysler Freeway.

Even this apology is, however, selective. African Americans, particularly, suffered the tragedy of a (still) favorite progressive program: public housing. A key history here is underappreciated. Historically black neighborhoods — Central Harlem, Detroit’s Black Bottom, Chicago’s Bronzeville, Desoto-Carr in St. Louis — were denigrated as slums, even though they were home to large numbers of residential property owners and hundreds of black-owned businesses. When they were cleared to make way for public housing, they were replaced by high-rise hells in which ownership — asset accumulation — was by definition impossible. The social fabric of self-help, civil society, and upward mobility was ripped apart. Blacks have always been, and remain, disproportionately represented in public and otherwise subsidized housing, often trapped into long-term dependency by counterproductive policies: When their income rises, so does rent.

6. Biden’s COVID messaging is utterly dishonest, says Isaac Schoor. From the analysis:

The Biden administration has been similarly lackadaisical in its approach to school reopenings. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced last week that its goal was to have 51 percent of schools open “at least one day a week.” This target suffers from the same problem as the vaccination target: It’s already been met, and exceeded. Around 64 percent of school districts were already offering some kind of in-person instruction when Psaki spoke. The objective, given the enormous costs of virtual instruction on students, should be to open up the remaining 36 percent and turn partial reopenings back into full-time ones. To some extent, Biden walked Psaki’s stunningly slothful goal back during a CNN town-hall event on Tuesday, saying “I think many of them [will be open] five days a week. The goal will be five days a week,” and calling Psaki’s statement a “mistake.” Questions remain, though: If it was only a mistake, why did it take a week for it to be corrected? And why is the correction so vague as to leave room for fudging? How many, exactly, constitutes “many” to the Biden administration?

Biden’s expectations game is a symptom of a greater problem: He never had the plan for handling the pandemic that he said he did. His campaign-season contention that he did was always a smoke-and-mirrors act that had more to do with tone and messaging than it did policy. To cover up the absence of tangible changes that it’s brought to the table, the new administration has tried to flood the zone with already achieved objectives and then tout their achievement as accomplishments.

Dishonesty has many forms, and the Biden administration has proven itself no more forthright than its predecessors, even if its deceptions are sometimes more artful.

7. Jimmy Quinn puts the spotlight on President Biden’s confusion on how to take on Red China’s Uyghur genocide. From the piece:

This human-rights-oriented approach has also guided its engagement with China. Both Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised Beijing’s severe human-rights abuses during their calls with their Chinese counterparts, and both consistently raise these concerns in their public speeches. On several occasions, Blinken has confirmed that he agrees with his predecessor’s finding that Beijing is carrying out crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs. The administration has also been clear that the U.S. is in competition with China, even “extreme competition,” as Biden recently put it.

But these officials apparently have trouble answering the question that logically flows from their condemnations: Can the United States seek any form of engagement with a regime carrying out forced sterilizations, systematic rape, and other unspeakable horrors?

Blinken thinks that the U.S. can deal with such a regime, even as it carries out an extermination of one of the ethnic minority groups under its control. He told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly yesterday, “This has been a challenge for American administrations going back decades and decades, and we have to be able to find ways to do both.” Kelly then asked if the U.S. should boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Blinken emphasized the need to prevent the importation of goods produced by the Xinjiang forced-labor system. “But we have to be able to do multiple things at the same time,” he said, pointing to Russia to show that Washington can cut deals with the regime it simultaneously condemns, and apparently echoing Biden’s recent pledge to “work with Beijing, when it’s in America’s interest to do so.”

8. Tim Morrison asks: Will Biden’s nominess face questions about the administration’s Red China policies? From the essay:

While national security has traditionally been treated as the domain of just a few federal departments and agencies — the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence community, and the National Nuclear Security Administration (a semi-autonomous component of the Department of Energy) — it’s now clear that this siloed way of thinking uniquely exposes us to the malign activities of the Chinese Communist Party.

As just one example, consider CCP activities that have placed the Department of Education at the center of national security for the first time. The Thousand Talents Program, a CCP venture, identifies academics who facilitate American innovation and brings them into contact and friendship with Beijing. And then there are the dozens of Confucius Institutes operating on college campuses across the United States, supposedly for innocuous cross-cultural contact but in reality serving as bases for CCP operations and propaganda. The fact that the Biden administration has withdrawn a rule requiring educational institutions to report any relationships with Confucius Institutes raises serious concerns about their appreciation of the role of these initiatives in the CCP’s malign influence campaign.

Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has always had a role in biodefense — especially during the pandemic. However, with scandals at the world famous M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Moffat Cancer Center related to China’s attempts to steal American medical breakthroughs, HHS, too, now has a national-security role. The Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, NASA . . . the examples go on and on.

9. It ain’t as plentiful as Baskin Robbins, but Dan McLaughlin discerns 12 flavors of Trumpism. From the beginning of the piece:

How much of “Trumpism” will survive in the Republican Party now that Donald Trump is gone from the White House? That is the hot question of the day on the right. Much depends, of course, on whether Trump himself is able to stage a comeback in 2024, but there are still years of political battles and midterm elections between now and then. We can’t answer what Trumpism will look like without Trump in office or running for office until we decide what “Trumpism” is in the first place.

Despite vigorous efforts to refashion “Trumpism” into a single, coherent set of ideas, the fact is that there were multiple new things that Trump brought to Republican politics. Not all of those things necessarily go together. Some were more helpful to Trump and the party, some harmful. Some are likelier to endure in the party than others. Predicting the future of Trumpism will be easier if we try to untangle its different strains. Let us consider the twelve major flavors of Trumpism, ranging from the good to the very ugly.

Kitchen-Table Trumpism: The most appealing and persuasive argument for Trump’s reorientation of Republican thinking goes like this: The party had lost its way by embracing a “Zombie Reaganism” that prioritized professions of fealty to conservative ideals, veneration of the name of Saint Ronnie, and efforts to proclaim oneself “severely conservative” (in Mitt Romney’s words). The party’s leaders made too many promises they couldn’t deliver or had no intention of trying to deliver.

In this telling, Republican policy proposals lost their tether to Earth. Leaders such as Paul Ryan talked about budget deficits and entitlement and spending cuts that were fiscally responsible at the macro level, but were of no interest to ordinary voters. Republicans pledged to repeal Obamacare, eliminate cabinet departments, and turn the tax code into a postcard, but never made a serious effort to make any of this happen. The mismatch between the promises and the realities left them to explain to the folks back home that, “Hey, at least we reduced the rate of growth of spending below what the other side wanted,” a claim that the average voter had no means to assess.

Meanwhile, leading Republicans threw red meat to the party’s populist wing that they themselves did not believe in or intend to pursue. George W. Bush ran on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. John McCain pledged to “complete the danged fence” along the border. They never really tried.

10. Mario Loyola wonders if Trump voters will remain convinced of the benefits of Democracy. From the article:

How did we get here? One hundred years of progressivism have left us with a constitutional system that elevates special interests over the public interest. The swamp of progressive government is sapping the vitality of our democracy. But Trump and too many of his supporters increasingly confuse the swamp of progressive government with democracy itself.

History suggests that America, like other great powers before it, may one day enter into a prolonged decline and fall. At some point, it may be impossible to deny that our democratic government has become irredeemably corrupt and is exploiting Americans for the benefit of capitalists and foreign enemies. It will be more and more tempting to conclude that institutions and procedures can no longer be defended, that we must fall back to a stronger line of defense — identity and community — and fight back however we can, whatever the collateral damage to our institutions.

That apocalyptic vision is increasingly common on both left and right. It is the weirdly common ingredient in both the Trump diehards’ worldview and that of Antifa. But democracy cannot be defended by abandoning compromise, just as equity cannot be secured by abandoning equal protection of the laws. Our democratic institutions may be rife with dysfunction, but they are still a beacon of freedom, they still allow hundreds of millions of Americans to live as they were meant to live, and they are still worth defending with our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

11. Rich Lowry says “Cancel Culture” is just a new way of saying “Blacklist.” From the beginning of the piece:

Cancellations had a precursor in the Hollywood Blacklist.

Why should anyone get upset about the ongoing wave of cancellations across the culture, when the government isn’t involved?

This isn’t a First Amendment issue, we are told, rather private entities making their own decisions to disassociate themselves from people who have said or done controversial things.

This line of argument, often made by cancellation apologists, is lacking in a number of respects, including that there is no reason it wouldn’t also justify the Hollywood Blacklist that the Left considers one of the darkest moments in American history.

12. Andrew Micha believes America’s cultural revolution will leave wounds and scars. From the article:

The religion of wokeness taught in our schools and preached in most realms of American life rests on a mutated strand of Marxism, only this time it is not the oppressed proletariat that is to be freed by the party elite and given the “correct” consciousness. Today the victim groups are those races deemed historically oppressed along with sexual minorities. Unlike the Stalinist chimera of a “classless society” that was to be birthed by communism, the woke acolytes of today are working toward a brave new world of racial justice, and of absolute equality for all genders and sexual orientations, understood in terms of equal outcomes and proportional representation. The social-media milieu that they have grown up in — Instagram, Twitter and Tik-Tok — has nurtured a culture of sound bites and moral preening. Such preening leaves little room for nuance, and gradually sharpens group cleavages. It also strengthens the conviction among millennials and Gen Z of the virtue of their cause and the moral bankruptcy of those who either oppose it or simply fail to display the requisite zeal. With political difference cast as an ethical contest between right and wrong, compromise becomes a source of shame, fueling the Leninist politics of kto-kogo (“Who gets whom.”) The result? Arguably the greatest fracturing of our national fabric since the Civil War, one that has made it nearly impossible for many Gen Z and American millennials to concede that their opponents — which is to say the rest of society — even deserve to participate in our democracy. The other side is not merely misguided but increasingly illegitimate.

Today’s American wokeness is the “Radicalism Olympics” — by definition it has an ever-receding telos, with no break of any kind, and few limitations. And like every collectivist totalitarian impulse, radicalism breeds the fear, particularly among its devotees, that one may be decreed insufficiently radical. Such evaluation necessarily leads to expulsion from the Church of Wokeness and consignation to the realm of the “other” — much as the young Stalinists denounced older communists who did not worship enough the party and the boss.

The values gap that is increasingly on display between Gen Z and millennials on the one hand, and the rest of America on the other, goes beyond the traditional left-right or liberal-conservative disconnect of decades past. The religion of wokeness professed by our credentialed class, especially those just coming into adulthood, is fueled by an unquestioned moral superiority over much of America. It is full of disdain animated by an unshakeable sense of purpose to reeducate the country and save it from the stain of injustice, past and present. This young generation of Americans — aided by their adult enablers in academia, the media, politics, and the corporate world — appeal heavily to emotion, repeating with an almost religious-like fervor the mantra of eliminating “privilege,” an amorphous and ill-defined term used to besmirch one’s opponents. Throughout, they fail to see the biting irony of their own station in life, which is among the most privileged and pampered groups in this nation’s history. It is this moral certitude that carries with it the seeds of a totalitarian impulse unlike anything this country experienced in the past, for it carries with it the categorical imperative to stamp out what it deems to be evil.

13. Elliott Abrams describes how the Biden administration must respond to Iran’s aggression. From the article:

On February 15, Iran-backed Shia militia groups in Iraq fired a barrage of missiles — a minimum of 14 — at an American base in Erbil, Iraq. One contractor was killed and five were wounded; one American soldier was wounded.

That no American was killed was a matter of luck, it seems.

The U.S. reaction has so far been verbal only. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement, saying “We are outraged by today’s rocket attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. . . . I have reached out to Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss the incident and to pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible.”

“Those accountable” are sitting in Tehran, and this is a key test of the Biden administration: If the United States reacts with words alone, the Biden administration will show the Iranians that such attacks are cost-free. The only lesson that Iran’s leaders will learn from such a response is that the Biden administration’s desire to return to nuclear diplomacy will permit Iran to put American lives at risk whenever it wishes. If the U.S. reaction is to strike at the Iraqi Shia group that claimed the attack, it will once again play Tehran’s game. Iran is pleased to allow those proxies to absorb American strikes while it acts with impunity.

14. David Harsanyi cranks up the Hysteri-O-Meter and finds Bill Gates’ climate-change madness has overloaded the circuits. From the analysis:

Gates, for instance, told Cooper that “the Syrian War was a twentieth of what climate migration will look like.” (Is “a twentieth of the Syrian War” a scientific calculation?) In his book, he claims that in “the worst drought ever recorded in Syria — which lasted from 2007 to 2010 — some 1.5 million people left farming areas for the cities” and set the stage “for the armed conflict that started in 2011.”

The climate crisis has been ongoing for decades, we’re told, yet Gates is reduced to talking about Syria — whose conflict environmentalists blame on climate change, and others of us blame on sectarian violence, ISIS, and Baathist strongmen — because so few wars are fought over resources anymore. While Gates has been warning about the climate crisis, millions of people worldwide have secured regular access to food and water for the first time. Whereas the natural elements once regularly killed many Americans, since 1980, all death caused by natural disasters and heat and cold is well under 0.5 percent of the total. Deaths due to climate events have plummeted. Extreme global poverty has plummeted. State-based conflicts have plummeted. Air pollution has plummeted and deaths from air pollution have plummeted. When the state of the earth is improving in almost every quantifiable way, alarmists are compelled to rely on prophecies that have not only been notoriously wrong but rarely take into account human adaptability.

“How might climate change affect you and your family?” Gates rhetorically asks in his book. Every situation he offers as a reason for concern would almost surely be worse without affordable energy. Gates, for example, argues that rainfall has become less predictable for farmers. Some years they have 22 inches. Other years, 29. In the past, rainfall was apparently the same every year. Gates cobbles together a few stories about farmers struggling with this problem. Our very food is at risk, he warns. “It may sound as if I’m cherry-picking the most extreme example, but things like this are already happening,” Gates concedes, “especially to poor farmers, and in a few decades they could be happening to far more people.”

Yes, Gates cherry-picks throughout the book. American farming yields have dramatically increased because of technological efficiencies. Farmers have adapted to recent climate variations, as they’ve been doing for thousands of years. Food is now far more affordable, “especially” for the poor. Gates’s ideas would threaten this reality far more than climate change would.

Rest in Peace, Rush, the Strife Is O’er

1. He was a consequential voice, for decades. Dan McLaughlin explains the talents shared daily by El Rushbo. From the article:

Five towering figures, all of them fairly fresh to the fight in the mid to late 1980s, led the way on different fronts. All of them were converts to Reaganism, but each had come of age in the darker Nixon years. Newt Gingrich led the populist-conservative revolt that wrested the House back from the Democrats in 1994 for the first time in 40 years. Rudy Giuliani, elected mayor of New York in 1993 after a narrow defeat in 1989, led the battle against urban crime and decay, taking conservative policy onto the most hostile domestic turf and winning. Antonin Scalia led the intellectual movement to restore legitimacy and rigor to the interpretation of the Constitution, beating the academy at its own game. Former Bush consultant Roger Ailes started Fox News in 1996, creating a television platform for ideas and perspectives that had previously been limited to radio and print.

The fifth, and as important as any of the other four, was Rush Limbaugh.

American conservatism, like any other political movement or tendency, is a mix of the light and the dark; of hope and fear, optimism and pessimism, altruism and self-interest. These are the stuff of humanity, all of it legitimately the subject of politics, but too much darkness can poison a movement. Reagan had his own share of the darkness — witness his battles with Hollywood communists in the Fifties and campus radicals in the Sixties — but he had made an art of elevating the light in conservatism: economic opportunity, the bedrock importance of family, the blessings of liberty, the stirrings of patriotism, the sacredness of human life, the shining city on the hill as a beacon of hope for the world’s oppressed.

Rush always understood, at an instinctive level, how to tap into both light and darkness. If you are not a conservative, or if you listened to Rush only in his last years, it may surprise you today to see quite what a variety of people on the right were fans of his at one point or another in their careers. I was an active Rush listener mainly in the early 1990s, after one of my college roommates turned me on to him. He was at his peak then, and a great evangelist for Reaganite optimism at a time when Reaganism and populism were allies, not enemies.

2. Something was very amiss, writes Jim Geraghty, about the MSM’s once-upon-a-time go-to comparison of Rush and crudemaster Howard Stern. From the Corner post:

Lumping Limbaugh and Stern together reflects the limited thinking of the mainstream media of that era. But perhaps there was a common thread that the article missed. The two radio giants had a staff, but no editors, other than the FCC’s efforts to rein in Stern. No large institutions held authority over them; they didn’t answer to a board of directors or investors. They quickly made fortunes and didn’t need the money; they could walk away from their careers at any point if it became too much of a hassle. They became one-man institutions — eventually followed by the likes of Matt Drudge and Joe Rogan.

Their paths since that article illuminate that the two men defined success differently. Stern certainly wasn’t apolitical, and did run for governor in 1994 as a Libertarian, but withdrew from the race after refusing to fill out financial disclosure forms, contending he had already revealed enough about his life on air. He endorsed George Pataki, and his interest in politics waned. As Bruce Bawer laid out in City Journal last year, Stern gradually morphed into part of the Hollywood establishment. He’s now the kind of dangerous, outrageous, shameless provocateur NBC can trust to safely sit as a judge on America’s Got Talent.

Limbaugh intermittently stepped into the larger media establishment — his short-lived television show, a very brief run as a commentator on ESPN, some funny vocal cameos on Family Guy. But in the end, Rush Limbaugh had created his own world through radio and didn’t need to branch out. He didn’t need any newer listeners or broader appeal, or greater approval, and never sought it.

3. Mutual Affection Society: The profound affection that Rush and his listeners had for each other is given justice by Scot Bertram. From the beginning of the piece:

Early in 2020, a caller to The Rush Limbaugh Show made an unusual request.

Following a conversation with the host, he asked to speak off-air to the program’s call screener, Bo Snerdley. Limbaugh, perplexed, agreed to make that happen. He later admitted a suspicion the caller was trying to “grease the wheels” to return to the show at a later date.

Instead, as Limbaugh found out during a commercial break, the caller made an unsolicited offer to donate one of his lungs to the iconic radio host, if it were to aid in his recovery. Snerdley then told Limbaugh he had been receiving similar calls from other listeners. Multiple offers, every day.

Back on-air, a clearly emotional Limbaugh was taken aback by the revelation. Perhaps even he had underestimated the power and strength of the relationship he had built with his audience over more than 30 years on the radio.

Radio is, by nature, an intimate medium. Many listeners tune in while they’re alone — driving, walking or exercising, working around the house. On headphones or earbuds, the phenomenon is even more pronounced. The host, your friend, is talking directly into your ear, perhaps even whispering at times for effect.

4. The Author of This Missive penned a remembrance that seems to have had some resonance. From the piece:

There were happier times. Nearly 30 years ago, Rush Limbaugh first graced the cover of National Review. The headline about the radio pundit who had transformed the AM band by connecting with millions of far-flung Americans was direct: “Leader of the Opposition.” It was a statement, not a question. And for those many millions, and others who were yet born, who would come one day to the same conclusion as their parents, it bore up despite controversies (an addiction, a bizarre Monday Night Football uproar that served as an early indication of the approaching cancel culture) and normal realities. There is a natural propensity for things (even, and maybe especially, Republican politics) to become stale, boring, and even irritating, a function of time passing, as the familiar becomes repetitive becomes oh-so-yesterday. But the curse of an enduring sameness never touched Rush Limbaugh. Every day there was something to be said, some guidance to be imparted, spoken to an audience that very much wanted his take, and treated it as Gospel. Boring? Not a chance: Rush Limbaugh leaves this stage with the immense popularity he seemed to have gained, overnight, as Bill Buckley described (in a 1992 Firing Line interview) with a short, sweet historical reference: “Veni, vidi, vici.”

Rush may have conquered the airwaves, and conservatism, but he was in turn conquered by the founder of this enterprise. Rush Limbaugh’s principal hero was his father. But after dad came William F. Buckley Jr. He was, simply, an idol. And soon enough, a close friend. Impressed by the radio populist’s impact, Bill sought out Rush, a dream come true of sorts. They hit it off, at once, and thrilled to each other’s company. But beyond the enduring friendship, if Bill Buckley imagined the conservative movement he toiled to create was going to expand and prosper courtesy of the unique talents carried over the ether every Monday through Friday at noon, Eastern time, packaged in this eloquent and entertaining college dropout from Cape Girardeau, he would have been right.

Capital Matters

1. That’s “trillion,” with a “T” — Brian Riedel looks at the rise in budget-debt insanity. From the article:

Like trillion-dollar deficits, trillion-dollar legislation is a relatively new phenomenon. From the mid-1980s through the 1990s, many of the largest bills were crafted as short-term deficit-reduction packages, typically saving around 1.2 percent of GDP annually (the equivalent of $250 billion in today’s economy). The budget moved into surplus in 1998, and by January 2001 the Congressional Budget Office had (quite questionably) forecast a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over the decade. At that point, President George W. Bush broke the trillion-dollar barrier by signing into law a tax cut estimated to reduce that projected surplus by $1.3 trillion over the decade. But even in that era, figures remained smaller. State-budget shortfalls in 2003 led to a Congressional fight over an eventual $20 billion in additional state Medicaid aid, and the following year Congress seemingly broke the bank by creating a Medicare drug entitlement with a then-stratospheric cost of $400 billion over the decade. During this period, the response to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded typically (but not always) in increments between $40 billion and $120 billion. President Bush vetoed the 2008 farm bill over its unjustified $20 billion spending increase.

Inflationary growth does not negate these comparisons. With the exception of the 2001 tax cuts, adjusting these figures for the 38 percent cumulative inflation (or even 75 percent increase in GDP) since the early 2000s does not make them comparable to today’s proposals that begin in the trillions of dollars.

During policy debates, figures like millions, billions, and trillions are used interchangeably. So here is a useful distinction: A $1 million program costs just under a penny per household. A $1 billion program costs $8 per household, while a $1 trillion program costs $8,000 per household. And yet social media is filled with Mathematical illiteracy is expensive.

2. “Stakeholder capitalism” has competition, reports Daniel Tenreiro. From the piece:

A former U.S. representative has teamed up with financial professionals to offer an alternative. 2ndVote Funds — founded by former Congresswoman Diane Black (R., Tenn.), along with David L. Black and Daniel Grant — will provide investment products, such as ETFs and actively managed funds, that use a conservative or libertarian framework to allocate capital.

The company, which launches today, is an offshoot of 2ndVote Inc., a research provider that scores companies on a socially conservative scale. 2ndVote Funds has started off with two products: the Life Neutral Plus ETF, which invests in pro-life businesses, and the Society Defended ETF, which invests in businesses that defend the Second Amendment.

“There are no asset managers, ETFs, or mutual funds countering the trend” of stakeholder capitalism, says CEO Daniel Grant. He sees the company as a much-needed alternative to the rise of progressive corporate governance.

Grant cites recent examples as evidence of corporations’ attempting to effect social change: “Amazon dumped Parler, Twitter dumped Trump, banks exclude the gun industry from corporate credit.” Americans investing in their retirement accounts may unwittingly be funding these activities.

2ndVote Funds has enlisted a roster of industry veterans from both Wall Street and Washington. Kevin A. Hassett, a senior adviser to National Review Capital Matters, is serving on 2ndVote’s advisory board, as is Andy Puzder, the former CEO of CKE Restaurants. 2ndVote will also work alongside Laffer Tengler, the investment firm headed by Art Laffer Jr.

3. Oil tariffs will kybosh consumers, warns Timothy Fitzgerald. From the analysis:

The oil-tariff idea has deeper roots, going back to the Suez Crisis during the Eisenhower administration. While those may seem like halcyon days for the U.S. oil industry, tariffs did not change the trajectory of long-term decline in domestic production. All the more ironic to revive this policy now, with the U.S. a net energy exporter for the first time in 75 years. Nonetheless, some producers are preparing to mount an effort to impose a tariff on oil imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the same authority that the Trump administration used to put tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Tariffs create problems. One is that the costs largely fall on our own consumers. The second is that, to the extent they affect foreign interests, they often hit friends and allies. In the case of oil, that means Canada, Mexico, and other neighbors. Since the beginning of 2020, over 85 percent of U.S. oil imports came from the Western Hemisphere, overwhelmingly from Canada and Mexico. What about Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? What about Russia? What about the other member states in OPEC? Actually, we really don’t import much oil from any of those places — the average over the past year is about 12 percent of total oil imports from all OPEC members. That might seem like a lot of oil to a single producer, but the global oil market is large and complex. The option to buy and sell on the global market provides American firms flexibility and is likely to help domestic prices on balance.

It has been a rough year for the oil industry, but things are looking slightly better, even as clouds remain on the policy and economic horizons. The path to recovery does not wend through protectionism, certainly not when the United States is producing more energy than it can consume. Oil producers petitioning the new administration for tariffs are among the most desperate in the country, and they should prepare for disappointment.

The March 8, 2021 Issue of NR Awaits

As is our custom, we share a sampling of articles, essays, and reviews from the new issue. Here’s a quartet for your consideration.

1. Kevin Williamson profiles the hellhole better known as Minneapolis. From the cover story:

If there is one thing Minnesota Democrats can count on, it’s this: You ain’t never woke enough. Somebody can always outwoke you. Running for reelection, Hodges finished third in a field of five in 2017 and was replaced by Jacob Frey, the doorknob currently serving as mayor, a white-shoe radical lawyer who was buffaloed into letting rioters run amok and burn down his city. He tried to finesse his way to a third-way solution in the face of demands to defund the police but in the end signed a budget imposing millions of dollars of cuts on the police department in order to appease the Left.

The department now has hundreds fewer officers than it says it needs to do its job. With violent crime soaring, the city council unanimously voted to approve funding to hire more officers — but three of its members are working on a plan to abolish the police department entirely, replacing it with a new “public safety” agency that would provide social services in addition to law enforcement with progressive characteristics. A left-wing coalition comprising groups ranging from the Sex-Workers Outreach Project of Minneapolis to the Minnesota Youth Collective (“founded by young, queer, female-identifying people who practice intersectionality in organizing”) is working on a ballot initiative to the same end.

So where does that leave Minneapolis?

A great deal is going to depend on the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin. In February, the New York Times reported that Chauvin had offered to plead guilty to third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd but Attorney General William Barr had scuttled the deal, believing that that agreement was too lenient. (Federal sign-off was required because the deal would have included an assurance that Chauvin would not be brought up on civil-rights or other federal charges in the future.) The trial is imminent, and the outcome is uncertain.

Thirty-Eighth and Chicago, the intersection at which Chauvin pinned down Floyd with his knee, remains closed to traffic. It won’t reopen until after the trial, if it ever does. Office workers downtown already are being told not to come to work during the trial. The state already has budgeted millions of dollars for security and anti-riot measures, and the National Guard will be called out to protect the courthouse precincts.

2. Cicero is holding on Line One: Sarah Ruden defends the classics. From the essay:

The hardest lesson of “empowerment” is finally being presented with the evidence that you, you yourself, are not interesting after all. For me the crisis came when I started to teach. Language teaching is in fact the crucible of objectivity as well as of power in classics — social objectivity along with cognitive objectivity. Teaching Latin or Greek entails a lot of plodding work that the students, who in elite institutions are all celebrities, see no reason to do; as they view it, the best the work could achieve for them would be to make them into you, the teacher, with whom they are not impressed in the slightest.

The extra difficulty for me was that I thought I was the only celebrity there. After that first course of mine, I had a climactic breakdown and sulked off mainstream classics forever, though I did finish my degree and put in three years as a lecturer in post-apartheid South Africa. Ironically, I’ve had a better time pouting in exile from the American classics academy than many of my classmates have who stuck around. Typical teaching loads are three or more courses a semester, and the committee work is no joke. To the exile, the classics tools, lying idle on the floor, whisper (for instance), “Hey, kid, look: Those medical researchers can’t even spell — they need us for editing and rewriting. We can make money while we keep looking for something more fun.”

All this is not to say that I didn’t have valid complaints about the field. The Harvard Department of the Classics in the Eighties and early Nineties, before a harassment scandal that made it into the national press and instigated reforms, was brutally sexist. (Racism could be daintily avoided; none of us had ever heard of “minorities” except on TV.) I remember staring at a luscious graduate student from overseas, the mistress of a senior professor; another professor, sensing her embarrassment — everyone at this gathering was staring — soothed her by kindly inquiring about her travels. My mind squirmed through six or seven makeover possibilities for myself, but I knew it was hopeless: I could never have that personal pull, could never trade my desirability for a chance to publish my translations, for a good job . . . I then felt, quite straightforwardly, that I needed to die. In later years, the feeling became the purest rage. I wanted Boylston Hall burned to the ground and the whole classics faculty driven across the river to Roxbury and reduced to sweating over Burger King fryers.

Idiotic, to let them distract me from all the solid power that classics had given me. Most useful to me as a cultural journalist has been classical literature’s sheer duration. Writing systems of the eastern Mediterranean are the oldest in the world (and their literatures begin by subsuming long oral traditions); Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, because of those reviled hegemonic privileges supporting them, form remarkably continuous traditions, allowing concentrated and reiterative contemplation. The collective contemplation is a massive, history-spanning version of the individual classics career; both properly invite self-reflection and growth, and in time naturally crumble layers of rage and arrogance that form in the usual imbecilic human way.

3. America has fumbled three wars, in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Bing West contemplates – why? From the beginning of the piece:

America is the most powerful country in the history of the world, yet it has not won any of the three major wars it has fought over the past half century. This has not been due to a lack of effort and persistence. Our troops fought in Vietnam for nine years and in Iraq for a dozen. We’re still fighting after 20 years in Afghanistan, where our generals are asking the Taliban to stop attacking. That’s not a sign of success; the victor does not make such requests. The fact is that in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, America has failed in its mission to develop and sustain democracies.

What accounts for this trifecta of failure? Through luck and poor shooting by our enemies, in all three wars I was able to witness both the actual fighting on the ground and the creation of the high-level policies that shaped the wars. In this article, I lay out what I believe were the root causes of the failures. Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Two kinds of people are fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.” I’m rendering one man’s opinion, while hoping to fall into neither category.

Broadly speaking, leadership in war comes from three hubs. The first consists of the military commanders who design strategy and decide how our troops will fight. The second hub is the policy-makers, including the president as commander in chief and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs as his military adviser, plus the theater commander, the CIA, the State Department, and the secretary of defense, who all give input. The third hub is the culture and popular mood of our country, as reflected by congressional votes and the slant of the mainstream press. The press does not report “just the facts”; rather, it presents a point of view by selecting which facts to focus upon. The popular mood is the ultimate fulcrum of political power, because the policy hub can’t fight a war without resources from Congress

4. Robert VerBruggen explains the complexities and nasty consequences of the Biden administration’s call for major hikes in the minimum wage. From the analysis:

Then there’s the matter of how much of a wage hike the beneficiaries would actually get to keep. Minimum-wage supporters often treat it as a selling point that low-wage workers can qualify for government benefits such as food stamps, cash welfare, housing subsidies, and the like, and that they’d rely on these benefits less if they were paid more. No conservative should celebrate reliance on government aid either, of course, but it must be said that these programs can be downright punitive toward workers who get raises.

In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that households with children just above the poverty line tend to lose about half of any additional income to benefit cuts and taxes. More generally, those who make at least 75 percent of the poverty line normally lose at least a fifth of any new income, though people poorer than that can face lower or even negative tax rates thanks to the safety net’s work incentives. (As a benchmark, a 40-hour-a-week minimum-wage job will lift an individual over the poverty line this year and even keep a two-person household above the 75 percent mark.) This, too, complicates the question of whose money is being transferred to whom: The government is playing the game as well.

What happens when you put all these effects together? Well, these phenomena are all controversial individually, so it’s something of a fool’s errand to try. Nonetheless, Thomas MaCurdy ran some simulations in a 2015 study, calculating what would happen if businesses didn’t reduce employment but did pass the costs of a minimum-wage hike through to their customers. He found that this arrangement was basically a regressive tax that “allocates benefits as higher earnings nearly evenly across the income distribution” (because low-wage workers so often come from higher-income households), and that the government would take back about a quarter of the wage increases.

Lights. Camera. Review.

1. Kyle Smith paints a pretty fresco of the new film about Michelangelo, Sin. From the beginning of the review:

Michelangelo looks up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and decides it’s . . . a disaster. The perspective is all wrong. It looks completely different from the floor than it does from on top of the scaffolding where he painted it. He must start painting over the frescoes immediately. When visitors arrive, he pleads with them not to come in. A year! Just one more year to complete the project! The pope must not be allowed to see the travesty he’s created! He gets drunk, runs away, and hides in shame.

Others see the work somewhat differently: as the masterpiece of all masterpieces. The pope calls Michelangelo “the Divine.” And still Michelangelo grouses. The only true divine artist is Dante, he believes; he has memorized Inferno. (Whenever anyone mentions Leonardo or Raphael, however, he makes it clear that he thinks his supposed rivals are hacks.)

Sin, a richly immersive study in genius told in Italian by the 83-year-old Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky (whose equally vivid and penetrating film on a Soviet debacle, Dear Comrades!, has just been released on Hulu), situates the audience both in Michelangelo’s cruel and soiled world and in his self-lacerating, perfervid mind. Genius may not be the spouse of neuroticism, but they certainly seem to go on a lot of dates together. Muttering and fretting and dressed like a peasant, Michelangelo (fiercely portrayed by Alberto Testone) is forever tortured by visions (angels, demons), wracked by money worries, and unsettled by feuds with family and colleagues. Also, he thinks someone is going to poison him.

2. More Kyle: He whitewashes blacklists when they’re red. Well, not really . . . but shares right and wrong grounds for cinema shunnery. From the piece:

In short, blacklists themselves aren’t the problem. The problem is that in Hollywood, straying one inch right of the center gets you labeled extreme and canceled, while if your progressive dues are paid up, you can say whatever you want without consequence. Anti-Semitism, for instance, is associated with both extremes of the political spectrum, but it’s only held against Hollywood conservatives. Two years ago, known Democrat John Cusack shared a sickening anti-Semitic image, lied about it, and remained employed (on an Amazon Prime TV series called Utopia that failed when it debuted last fall). He’ll be back.

Carano, on the other hand, was fired for making an overwrought metaphorical comparison between her ideological opponents and Nazis, which is a rhetorical move so common on the left that you’d be hard-pressed to find an outspoken progressive or mainstream media outlet that hasn’t employed it. (Her own co-star, Pedro Pascal, for instance, used a Nazi analogy to criticize the Trump administration’s child-separation policy.) She also made a very mild joke about pronouns (“beep/bop/boop)” that only a rage-aholic activist could possibly be offended by, expressed the same annoyance lots of Americans feel about mask mandates, and indicated she was worried about election fraud, which Democrats up to and including Hillary Clinton routinely do whenever they lose elections. All of this was deliberately exaggerated by progressives to paint a picture of Carano as an anti-Semitic transphobe who claimed the election was stolen. After she was fired, someone noticed that she’d also shared a cartoon image depicting a cabal of greedy bankers controlling the world, but this is fairly routine populist stuff. Carano said she didn’t know about a previous version of the image (in which the bankers had huge noses) and there was nothing in the picture she shared to indicate Jewishness. (More on that here.)

3. More Carano: Madeleine Kearns argues she will transcend the ruckus. From the article:

Flannery O’Connor once explained how it is that “righteous” art can be indistinguishable from propaganda (she was talking of Catholicism and novelists, but the point is applicable to politics as well):

The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns, getting himself as little dirty in the process as possible.

Conservative artists ought to fight against the Hollywood culture-war machine without resorting to the same cynical tactics. If art convinces, it does so indirectly, on account of its likeness to life. The true test of whether art has succeeded on these grounds is whether (like life) its meaning is multilayered and/or open to interpretation. One movie that recently broke the Hollywood mold was A Quiet Place, a horror film written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski — Krasinski also directed and starred in the movie. An interviewer for Deadline asked Krasinski to comment on the controversy surrounding the film, about whether it was pro-life. “I’ve never heard the pro-choice and pro-life thing, but it is awesome that people are thinking about it,” he said, adding that “the greatest compliment you can have on any piece of work that you do is that it starts a conversation.”

4. Armond White gets retrospective about Jack Webb and a time when Hollywood was unafraid to combat the Red menace. From the piece:

Compared with the straightforward dramaturgy of Webb’s 1954 theatrical film Dragnet (just released on Blu-Ray from KINO), the Dragnet series doesn’t look like Millennial TV but resembles the modernist style of cineastes Sam Fuller, Robert Bresson, and Jean-Marie Straub. And like Fuller, Webb was a military vet turned Hollywood professional who sustained his patriotism through pop-art aesthetics. Webb brought probing Americanism to television; the best example is his 1962 drama Red Nightmare, a prediction of 21st-century progressivism that exposes what we now take for granted in Fake News TV.

In Red Nightmare, originally titled “Freedom and You,” Webb focused on Communist encroachment. It’s a Cold War parallel to today’s PC war. Webb imagined a national takeover in which citizens are told, “In America you have too many freedoms. One day it will be your mission to destroy those bourgeois capitalist freedoms.” Webb himself steps in as narrator and sets the scene:

From the looks of it, it could be Iowa, California, Tennessee. You might call this a college town, Communist-style, as part of a long-range plan to destroy our free way of life.

Webb’s intro pinpoints academia’s role in social revolution: “The strangest of all schools: espionage as a science, propaganda as an art, sabotage as a business — long-range Communist conspiracy.”

BONUS: You can watch Red Nightmare here.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. In Modern Age, Professor Daniel J. Mahoney,  the great public intellectual and our esteemed friend, reflects on the nexus of statesmanship and human excellence. From the essay:

The founding fathers of modern republicanism had no qualms about appealing to the crucial role of the “founder” or “legislator” in establishing and sustaining free and lawful political communities. The American Founders, for example, read their Cicero and Plutarch and were no doubt inspired by the accounts of political nobility found in the pages of both immensely influential thinkers and writers. Their own noble deeds partake of classical greatness of soul as much as the purported “realism” of distinctively modern political thought. But it is undoubtedly the case that they aimed to establish political institutions where “power checked power,” institutions that would make political greatness less necessary, if not superfluous. Is this one reason why the study of statesmanship has fallen on hard times? Were they too successful?

Perhaps statesmanship of the noblest and truest kind has always been associated with crises of one sort or another: Solon addressing civil strife and class conflict in Athens in the sixth century BC; Pericles steering a middle path between imperial grandeur and prudent restraint in resisting the expansion of the Athenian Empire at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War; Cicero using all the arts of rhetoric and statesmanship in an ultimately failed attempt to save the remnants of Roman republicanism from the threat of Caesarian despotism; Burke eloquently warning defenders of ordered liberty against the proto-totalitarianism of Jacobin France; Washington leading the American people to their rightful station among the peoples of the earth and governing the new republic with an austere republican dignity; Lincoln preserving the Union and putting an end to the evil of chattel slavery at the same time; Churchill eloquently and firmly defending liberty and law, and all the achievements of the “English-speaking peoples,” against the dreadful barbarism of Nazism. Such statesmanship is, always and everywhere, a rare political achievement and an equally infrequent if admirable manifestation of the highest possibilities of the human soul.

Classical authors were right to understand such statesmanship as an elevated standard against which all political action can be judged. The thoughtful or reflective statesman exercises what the contemporary French political philosopher Pierre Manent calls “commanding practical reason,” not arbitrary power or a plan to satisfy the lowest impulses of his soul. Every political community needs such commanding practical reason, an authoritative exercise of judgment and foresight at the service of the common good. But the doctrinaire egalitarianism and relativism that many today confuse with democracy do not readily allow for such qualitative differences to be acknowledged and affirmed.

Elementary distinctions “natural” to political life — the distinctions between authority and authoritarianism, reason and will, nobility and baseness, domination and the mutual accountability inherent in free political life — are effaced in the name of a terrible simplification. Arguments about “the advantageous and the just,” as Aristotle so memorably put it in the opening chapters of his Politics, are summarily reduced to mere struggles for “power.” This effacement of politics as a moral science goes hand in hand with a toxic egalitarian moralism that feels free to repudiate our civilized inheritance and to judge all thought and action in the light of the overlapping determinisms of “race, class, and gender.” In truth, there can be no authentic political sphere, no veritable “public space,” when thought and action are reduced to cruel and inexpiable struggles for power and domination. And whatever the antinomian left claims, the messianic struggle for “justice” will lead only to mayhem, violence, and tyranny if the goods of life are said to have no foundation in the human soul or the natural order of things. One cannot promote justice on the “willful” premises of Machiavellian (and Nietzschean) modernity. If one begins with nihilistic premises, if one reduces every argument to a pretense for domination and exploitation, one necessarily ends with the self-enslavement of man. A barely concealed nihilism cannot provide a foundation for common humanity, the civic common good, or mutual respect and accountability. In the end, it can only negate our civilized inheritance despite the perfectionist or utopian veneer that invariably accompanies it.

2. At Substack, Glenn Greenwald looks at the Capitol riots, exaggerated claims, and false reporting. From the piece:

It took on such importance for a clear reason: Sicknick’s death was the only example the media had of the pro-Trump mob deliberately killing anyone. In a January 11 article detailing the five people who died on the day of the Capitol protest, the New York Times again told the Sicknick story: “Law enforcement officials said he had been ‘physically engaging with protesters’ and was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

But none of the other four deaths were at the hands of the protesters: the only other person killed with deliberate violence was a pro-Trump protester, Ashli Babbitt, unarmed when shot in the neck by a police officer at close range. The other three deaths were all pro-Trump protesters: Kevin Greeson, who died of a heart attack outside the Capitol; Benjamin Philips, 50, “the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo,” who died of a stroke that day; and Rosanne Boyland, a fanatical Trump supporter whom the Times says was inadvertently “killed in a crush of fellow rioters during their attempt to fight through a police line.”

This is why the fire extinguisher story became so vital to those intent on depicting these events in the most violent and menacing light possible. Without Sicknick having his skull bashed in with a fire extinguisher, there were no deaths that day that could be attributed to deliberate violence by pro-Trump protesters. Three weeks later, The Washington Post said dozens of officers (a total of 140) had various degrees of injuries, but none reported as life-threatening, and at least two police officers committed suicide after the riot. So Sicknick was the only person killed who was not a pro-Trump protester, and the only one deliberately killed by the mob itself.

3. At Claremont Review of Books, paisano Charles Kesler scopes out the future of Trump and Trumpism. From the piece:

Will he come back from this defeat? Assuming he isn’t disqualified from holding office again, Trump could pull a Grover Cleveland and run for the presidency in 2024. He would be much older than Cleveland (the 22nd and 24th president) when he ran the second time (78 versus 55), but also much richer. It may be that the pleasures of being a billionaire are more entrancing than Trump remembers, and he might decide just to enjoy life in Florida. Or his health might dictate it. But the appetite for high office, once indulged, is not easily renounced. Plus the awful, ignominious way his term ended will add the spur of honor (and vengeance) to his pursuit of approval. He wants to belong especially to any club that won’t have him as a member. Failing that, he will build his own bigger and better club, as he did with Mar-a-Lago.

He’s already let it be known he intends to primary, beginning in 2022, all the weak Republicans who deserted or betrayed him in the impeachment fight. He’s prepared for a civil war within the Republican ranks, thinks the other guy started it, but plans to finish it on his terms. It didn’t come to this in 2016 because the panjandrums of the GOP didn’t expect him to win, and he was a novice. Then, for years, they were intimidated by his popularity with the party’s base. Now that he is out of the White House, their sighs of relief and disdain are obvious. In grateful return, he would like to throw a lavish Red Wedding at Mar-a-Lago and invite all his erstwhile allies.

But the second impeachment, and a fortiori the tragedy at the Capitol, will weigh on Trump’s support. From his re-election triumph in 1972 (49 states, 520 electoral votes, almost 61% of the popular vote), Nixon fell hard. He left office with about 24% popular approval, and it never recovered from those levels. Trump hasn’t experienced a similar collapse, but an erosion has begun. Almost every poll shows his approval ratings, measured before and after January 6, tumbling: Pew Research shows him down from 38% to 29%, Quinnipiac from 44% to 34%, ABC News/Washington Post from 44% to 38%. In most polls, a majority of Americans say he deserves a great deal of blame for the events of January 6. CNN/SSRS reports that 77% nationally want the GOP to move on from Trump. Among Republicans, 43% say they want the party to continue to treat him as its leader; 55% prefer someone else, though no one knows who.

Although not catastrophic, those declines don’t augur well for a political comeback. The trends will probably worsen, at least temporarily, as the second impeachment plays out and as various state and federal prosecutors come after the ex-president. Even at the peak of his popularity and power, Trump’s approval ratings, as Busch points out, were stuck in the mid-40s.

4. At Law & Liberty, David Schaeffer shows the disconcerting parallels between Russia 1917 and America 2021. From the essay:

First of all, the past nine months have witnessed a growing disrespect and disregard for the rule of law at both extremes of the political spectrum: on the Left, in response to the George Floyd killing, widespread urban violence, often spurred by semi-organized groups like Antifa and the Marxist Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement; on the Right, fanatics like those who invaded the Capitol to interfere with the counting of the electoral vote (including QAnon believers, who think that the government is run by a secret conspiracy of pedophiles and possibly cannibals). In some parts of the country, most notably Portland, we have witnessed something like a microcosm of the chaotic situation that existed in Russia in 1917 from the March “revolution” to the October one.

A second parallel between America’s present situation and that of Russia in 1917 is a pre-existing national crisis that had no direct connection with the political causes that inspired lawlessness. In 1917, the setting was prepared for a political uprising by bitter cold and food shortages, and by Russia’s increasingly unpopular participation in World War I. For its part, well before the George Floyd killing, America, like the rest of the world, experienced the COVID pandemic, generating not only many deaths among vulnerable populations, but also lockdowns of restaurants, hotels, gyms, and other facilities that interfered with people’s customary habits, caused widespread business shutdowns and unemployment, and often appeared, despite their medical justifications, to be imposed arbitrarily by governments in states like New York, California, and Michigan.

The third parallel is a reluctance of governmental authorities, confronted with a sudden spike of violent crime and sometimes anarchy, to control and deter it through arrest and punishment. In each instance, that reluctance reflected an uncertainty on the part of the authorities about whether enforcing the law was the right thing to do. Hence in 1917, when Russian mobs were allowed to empty the jails (as depicted in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s recently translated The Red Wheel: March 1917), just as when French mobs stormed the Bastille in 1789, those jails actually housed none of the rumored “political prisoners.” Meanwhile, Kerensky and his associates, themselves liberals and socialists who saw “no enemies on the Left,” refused to take the steps necessary to restore order. Even the commander of Russia’s Baltic Fleet expressed his sympathies for the incipient Red revolution to his sailors, only to be murdered by them later on.

5. More Law & Liberty, this time from Richard Reinsch, who looks at America and sees a closing society. From the beginning of the piece:

We are receiving almost a daily understanding of what a closed society is and what it does to dissenters. The latest revelation came from — where else — The New York Times, a publication that flatters the egos and tastes of our elites and firmly demonstrates the attitudes and postures the new regime demands. They mean to rule us in this regard. Donald McNeil, a nearly four-decade writer for the Times, and a highly regarded science correspondent, was forced out because he committed the new thought crime of merely mentioning a racial slur in the context of trying to understand and analyze a previous racist use of the term by a high school student. He was on a trip with high school students who had inquired of him if he thought it correct that a classmate of theirs who was suspended for using a racist slur should, in fact, have been suspended. McNeil was asking questions and thinking about the incident, trying to gather what had occurred. You might say, he was seeking understanding. But such inquiry is no longer permitted, apparently.

As Theodore Dalrymple recently observed in this space, there is no defense that one can use against the allegation of objective racism, that is, intent and context no longer matter in the determination of a racist allegation. If one is deemed to cause racist offense by a hearer, then perforce, one is a racist. Andrew Sullivan remarked that McNeil’s apology appeared to have been compelled by the Khmer Rouge. I found McNeil’s apology to his fellow writers to be abject and demeaning — to himself — and to any reasonable criteria of fairness and justice.

His personal declaration of sin committed against identity politics is worthy of Rubashov’s final apology in Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, a 1941 novel widely regarded as one of the truly definitive literary investigations of communist totalitarianism. Rubashov was imprisoned for counterrevolutionary political crimes he allegedly committed against the communist regime. Although we are never told it’s the Soviet Union, the similarities of Rubashov’s interrogation and trial replicate the Stalinist era. However, this old Bolshevik isn’t actually guilty of what he has been accused of. His famous last confession is completely false, and yet it is not simply a lie. He has convinced himself that he owes such an apology to the regime to which he has dedicated his life. In the end, Rubashov cannot disbelieve in the communist regime because of its moral hold on his soul, even though it will execute him for crimes he has not committed against it.

6. At City Journal, Karl Zinmeister finds that identity politics is at odds with the core principles of a free society. From the essay:

At the root of our current crisis lies the dogma of identity politics. Created on university campuses and incubated among the young for more than a generation, this ideology now surges through the media, commerce, the nonprofit sector, and government. Identity politics asserts that civilization is a battle among groups, with dominant forces ruling by oppressing and manipulating the disempowered. It “atomizes society into different interest groups according to sex, race, sexual preference,” as author Douglas Murray summarizes in The Madness of Crowds, and “presumes that such characteristics are the main, or only, relevant attributes of their holders.” Once they have adopted a worldview defined by color, sexuality, and economic grievance and have built up levels of offense and outrage sufficient to justify a radical reorganizing of American society, proponents of identity politics are said to be “woke.”

Thanks to years of hectoring during college and strong pressures toward groupthink within urban culture, identity politics has become fashionable even among people with little experience of dispossession — like the couple I know who decorated one of their two yachts in support of this summer’s street protests. The identity-politics division of society into oppressors and oppressed now suffuses news stories, entertainment, school lessons, corporate policies, religious proclamations, and municipal rules. The movement demands redistribution of resources and power by group membership, using the language of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” enforced by a “cancel culture” that attacks those who resist the woke agenda.

The diversity demanded by identity politics, though, is a strangely limited one. It is built on crude biological criteria like skin color or sexual practice. There is no tolerance for philosophical diversity, alternative principles, or heterodox beliefs. The stark categorization of people into “the privileged” and “the subjugated” must not be questioned. Resist a remaking of society that elevates certain identities and pulls down others, and you will be attacked as a bigot.

Identity politics is thus an aggressive marshaling of human divisions. It’s not interested in things we all share. It has no place for universal experiences, national harmony, or gratitude. Nor does it care for the wondrous idiosyncrasies and distinct variations of individuals. It draws its energy from factional resentments and fractures. The speed at which this radical, impersonal mode of thinking has been mainstreamed is astonishing.

7. More City Journal: Joel Zinberg profiles the pandemic’s false hero, one Andrew Cuomo, governor and crypto-mortician. From the article:

Finally, the most damaging disclosure was a leaked recording from February 10, in which a top Cuomo aide admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration hid the true numbers of nursing-home deaths for political reasons. The administration had worried that federal investigators would use these numbers against the governor. A February 11 addendum to the original DOH report now acknowledges that nursing-home deaths account for 35 percent of New York’s Covid-19 deaths.

Yet Cuomo’s policy failures are not confined to nursing homes. His capricious policies on business and restaurant closures, unmoored from public-health data, have destroyed small businesses statewide and wiped out New York City restaurants. The December restaurant reclosure was made at the same time that New York officials released data indicating that during the September–November period in which restaurants were open, restaurants and bars accounted for only 1.43 percent of Covid-19 cases. Transmission in homes and at social events account for nearly 74 percent of cases. And the New York Times noted that the metrics Cuomo had said would guide his decisions on business reopening were worse when he announced New York City restaurants could reopen for indoor dining on February 14 than when he closed them in December. Even New York Democrats are now calling for curbing Cuomo’s emergency powers.

Cuomo has eagerly criticized other state governors’ pandemic responses. “You played politics with this virus and you lost,” he chided. “Look at the numbers.” He had particular censure for Florida governor Ron DeSantis. In fact, New York has the nation’s second-most Covid-19 deaths per million population, just behind New Jersey — and nearly twice as much as Florida. It turns out that it was Cuomo who was playing politics.

8. At Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim catalogues the ongoing persecution of Christians by peace-religionists. From the report:

Iran: On Jan. 18, the Islamic Republic’s “morality police” arrested Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi, a 22-year-old convert to Christianity and human rights activist, on the accusation that “her trousers were too tight, her headscarf was not correctly adjusted, and [that] she should not be wearing an unbuttoned coat.” This is the third time officials arrested Mary. She served six months in prison after her first arrest for being a member of a house church — which the regime recently labeled as “enemy groups” belonging to a “Zionist” cult. She also spent a brief time in jail after joining a peaceful protest in April 2020. Officials have also pressured her employer, with whom she always had a good relationship, to prevent her from returning to work as a gymnastics instructor. She was expelled from her university on the eve of her exams. Reflecting on what had come to pass, Mary wrote:

“Everything is affected . . . Your work, income, social status, identity, mental health, satisfaction with yourself, your life, your place in society, your independence. . . . And as a woman it’s even harder to remain patient and endure, in a society so opposed to women and femininity, though crying out for them both.”

9. Oregon bureaucrats, reports Jennifer Kabbany at The College Fix, are demanding “math equity” as part of their effort to combat racism. Something’s not adding up. From the article:

The effort is outlined in an 82-page training manual distributed to educators and titled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.”

One section argues that “white supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms” when students are required to “show their work.”

“Math teachers ask students to show work so that teachers know what students are thinking, but that centers the teacher’s need to understand rather than student learning. It becomes a crutch for teachers seeking to understand what students are thinking and less of a tool for students in learning how to process,” the training manual states.

“Thus, requiring students to show their work reinforces worship of the written word as well as paternalism,” it adds.

Instead, teachers are instructed to offer different ways for students to show their math knowledge. Among them?

“Have students create TikTok videos, silent films, or cartoons about mathematical concepts or procedures,” the manual states.

A Dios

Lent is upon us — some of us anyway. May it’s graces benefit all, regardless. A little tip: On Friday, try the fish.

Another tip, unrelated: The left lane is for passing, not vacationing.

For the repose of the soul of Rush Limbaugh, that he requiescat in pace, please do offer up a prayer.

May the Almighty’s Graces Prove Sustaining These 40 Days,

Jack Fowler, who is eager for penitential tips if sent to

National Review

Happy Birthday Abie Baby


Dear Weekend Jolter,

Honest Abe would have turned 212 today (Friday the 12th, the day this missive was rendered). That even a smidge of his talent — of articulating principle while guided by prudence, of mastering the art of shrewd balancing — would rub off on current political and pontificating classes, where instant demagoguery is the S.O.P.: One can dream.

We mark his natal day with the doo-wop tribute from Hair, Happy Birthday Abie Baby. It’s a departure from the more deserved and quasi-religious fare about Father Abraham. Still, it is a testament to the Rail Splitter’s enduring cultural relevance (defiled of late by the inanities of San Francisco school board members, and of the gross profiteering hacks at the “Lincoln Project”).

Now, aside from Mr. Lowry’s excellent book (the acclaimed Lincoln Unbound) Your Humble Correspondent would like to recommend you consider John Cribb’s new novel, Old Abe. This is a beautiful and vivid telling of our 16th president’s last five years, marked by unimaginable crises and desperate personal tragedies and spousal burdens, none of which, even en masse, were able to crush Lincoln’s wisdom, humor, and compassion. Or political successes. Cribb presents a Lincoln that many yearn for, the man pictured, unfinished, in our imaginations, more a concept, but one begging to be completed. Cribb provides the flesh and bone and attitude and dialogue. The book races. His portrayal in ink might surpass the cinematic depictions, much enjoyed, by Raymond Massey (Abe Lincoln in Illinois), Henry Fonda (Young Mr. Lincoln), and Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln). Well, that last one might be a coin toss. But do read the book.

Enough! With charity to all, let us get on with the Weekend Jolt!



Joel Zinberg: Scott Atlas, Mugged

Nikki Haley: We Must Protect Women’s Sports

Madeleine Kearns: Progressive Cracks Appear on the Trans Sports Issue

Rich Lowry: The Humiliating Art of Woke Confessions

Rory Cooper: Joe Biden Is Keeping Schools Closed

Robert Rector and Marie Fishpaw: Biden Child Tax Credit Plan Ignores Real Welfare Problems

Zhonette Brown: Biden’s Activist Recruits Raise Risk of ‘Sue and Settle’ Collusion

Erin Hawley: The Biden Administration’s New Regulatory Superweapon

John C. Goodman: Conservatism’s Identity Crisis

Andrew Micha: Collectivism Is Antithetical to a Free Society

Douglas Carswell: Reviving the Conservative Cause: States Play Pivotal Role

Dan McLaughlin: Alexis de Tocqueville’s Humbling Lesson in Office

David Harsanyi: Tom Friedman’s Warped Love Affair with Communist China

Josh Jones: Time to Show Some Backbone with Mexico

Cameron Hilditch: France’s Coronavirus Vaccine Failures

Jimmy Quinn: Joe Biden’s Iran Strategy Is Bound to Fail

A.J. Caschetta: Scientists Join Anti-Israel BDS Movement

Jim McKelvey: Silicon Valley’s Focus on ‘Disruption’ Is Misguided

Mario Loyola: Big Tech’s Deadly Challenge to Democracy

Michael Brendan Dougherty: European Union Elites Show their Authoritarian Side


Biden’s U.N. Human Rights Council Return Is a Flawed Foreign Policy Strategy

Supreme Court Stands Up for Religious Worship by Suspending California’s Ban on Indoor Services

The $15 Minimum Wage: Democrat’s COVID Proposal Is Bad Policy at a Bad Time

George Shultz, R.I.P.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Democrats’ Precedent Will Be Regretted

Capital Matters

John Constable: U.S. Offshore Wind Energy: Overblown Promises and Blown-Up Costs

Jordan McGillis hears the knock: Democrat States Are Blocking America’s Energy-Export Opportunity

Andy Pudzer and John Hartly see what’s hiding: Biden’s Minimum-Wage Increase Proposal Carries Budgetary Costs

Jessica Melugin says check the record: Antitrust Litigation Usually Causes More Harm Than Good — Big Tech Is No Different

Andrew Stuttaford has the 411 on NASDAQ: The Woke Exchange

Lights. Camera. Review.

Kyle Smith applauds the genial redux: In The Crew, Kevin James Brings Accessible Comedy to Netflix

Armond White smells baloney: Minari Fakes the Immigrant Issue

More Armond, who rewatches a prophetic film: The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque, Eric Rohmer’s Masterpiece

Isaac Schorr digs the documentary: A Picture of Thomas Sowell

John Fund anticipates a Gipper flick: Reagan The Movie — Finally

More Kyle, with more applauding: Judas and the Black Messiah Is a Potent Black Panther Movie

Sarah Schuette says neigh: Disney’s Disappointing Black Beauty Remake


Articles Galore, Indeed, a Score

1. Scott Atlas has checked off enough boxes on the Left’s bugaboo list. Joel Zinberg reports on his political mugging. From the essay:

From early on, some commentators, including Atlas, pointed out that COVID-19-mitigation measures such as lockdowns have economic and health costs that must be balanced against their benefits. These costs include massive unemployment, which can lead to increased mortality, decreased academic achievement, and excess deaths resulting from delayed or foregone medical care and increased mental-health and substance-abuse problems, often resulting in suicide. Four Stanford health-policy experts — none of whom signed the Stanford letter from September — found no evidence that the most restrictive COVID-19-mitigation measures, stay-at-home orders and business closures, had significantly reduced COVID-19-case growth. In fact, there was a statistically insignificant increase in the growth rate of cases, suggesting that these restrictive mitigation measures may have increased person-to-person contact and disease transmission. A less restrictive measure, school closures, had a small but insignificant negative impact on case growth in most countries studied.

One of these four Stanford authors was a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, signed by over 50,000 medical and public-health practitioners worldwide. Like Atlas (and others, including this author), the Declaration expresses concerns about the damaging physical- and mental-health impacts of COVID-19 policies. It suggests that the best way to minimize the risks of death and social harm on the way to reaching herd immunity is to allow those at minimal risk of death — the young and healthy — to resume normal life, which will lead to increased natural infection and immunity, while focusing protection on those most at risk, the elderly and infirm. The Declaration’s proposal is closer to the one condemned in the JAMA article than anything Atlas has said. The large number of Declaration signers gives the lie to the JAMA authors’ claim that “nearly all public health experts were concerned that [Atlas’s] recommendations could lead to tens of thousands (or more) of unnecessary deaths in the US alone.”

Not content to write articles, Dr. Spiegel asked an October Stanford Faculty Senate meeting to censure Atlas and questioned the university’s relationship with the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford where Atlas is a fellow. A month later, the faculty Senate condemned Atlas for “promot[ing] a view of COVID-19 that contradicts medical science” but stopped short of recommending sanctions after concerns emerged that such steps would chill freedom of speech, academic freedom, and the willingness of academics to enter government service.

It is reassuring that Stanford faculty were willing to preserve whatever vestiges of academic freedom remain in our elite institutions. But their failure to critically examine the evidence against Dr. Atlas before censuring him suggests a mob mentality. It is doubtful that the Stanford Senate, which largely consists of non-medical faculty, reviewed the relevant scientific literature.

2. Nikki Haley contends America must defend women’s sports. From the article:

Generations of women fought hard to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters had a level playing field, because girls deserve the same chance as boys to play sports. Thanks to the efforts of countless feminists, the number of women’s teams in schools has taken off over the past 50 years. Before then, less than 4 percent of girls played a sport. Now 40 percent do.

My generation was one of the first to benefit from these victories. My daughter’s generation has reaped the rewards, too. But Biden’s actions will roll back those victories and put women at a disadvantage. Now, when a girl steps up to compete, she’ll have to ask herself: Who am I really competing against?

Transgender kids deserve support and respect. The fact remains, however, that biological boys and girls are built differently. The best male athletes have a natural advantage over the best female athletes. You have to ignore science not to see it. The world’s fastest female sprinter has nine Olympics medals, but nearly 300 high-school boys are still faster than her. In states where biological boys compete against girls, the girls almost always lose — not just the match, but also possible college scholarships and a lifetime of success in their favorite sport. Their chance to shine is being stolen.

I approach this issue as a woman and as a mom. When my daughter ran track, I’d go to the meets. I can’t imagine how hard it would’ve been to watch her lose to someone with an unfair advantage. And I hate to think how my daughter would have reacted. She ran because she always felt she had a shot. If she lost that feeling, would she have kept running? Why compete when your best can’t possibly be good enough? Girls across America could be asking themselves these very questions before too long. Some surely already are. On this critical issue, women’s rights are moving in the wrong direction.

3. More Trans Sports: Madeleine Kearns spots progressive cracks opening up. From the article:

Under Trump, the Education Department and Justice Department worked hard to clean up this mess. Initially, this was done by rescinding the Obama-era guidance. Later, after a lengthy investigation, they ruled in favor of female high-school athletes in Connecticut who, having been displaced by a policy allowing male athletes claiming transgender status to compete against them, had filed a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

Biden’s executive order, by contrast — which is predicated on an expanded interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County — reverses this defense of women and girls’ rights with a snap of a finger.

Though it is convenient for transgender activists to pretend otherwise, the protection of women’s sports is not necessarily a conservative issue. This fact was most recently evidenced in the launching of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group (WSPWG), composed of women’s sports leaders such as tennis legend Martina Navratilova, law professor and NCAA champion Doriane Coleman, and Olympic swimmers Donna de Varona and Nancy Hogshead-Makar. Their motto is “Preserving girls’ and women’s sport while accommodating transgender athletes.”

Hogshead-Makar, a Title IX attorney, told USA TODAY Sports that even by its own standards, Biden’s transgender sports policy “does the cause of transgender inclusion no favors,” as it engenders a “justifiable resentment.” She has explained that while the group members “fully support the Biden executive order, ending LGBT discrimination throughout society,” they also recognize that “competitive sports” is an area that requires a “science-based approach to trans inclusion.”

4. Rich Lowry analyses the woke apology. It’s become an art. From the piece:

It’s never a handful of people who are offended but entire institutions and categories of people, evidently always rocked to their cores.

Donald McNeil, whose work on the coronavirus has gained renown during the pandemic, made it sound as though science coverage at the Times, and perhaps the paper itself, would be hard-pressed to recover from his innocent use of the n-word:

“My lapse of judgment has hurt my colleagues in Science, the hundreds of people who trusted me to work with them closely during this pandemic, the team at ‘The Daily’ that turned to me during this frightening year, and the whole institution, which put its confidence in me and expected better.

“So for offending my colleagues — and for anything I’ve done to hurt The Times, which is an institution I love and whose mission I believe in and try to serve — I am sorry. I let you all down.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees criticized kneeling last year, then quickly buckled under the resulting criticism. “I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday,” he said, leaving no one out. “In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.”

5. Here We Go, Joe: Biden’s union-kowtowing is why our schools have been kept closed. Rory Cooper explains. From the piece:

President Biden’s ambitious rhetoric around schools was always going to have a collision course with his teachers’-union benefactors, who simply do not want schools to fully reopen any time soon. Not even after teachers got priority in vaccinations, and K–12 schools received over $68 billion in 2020 to mitigate COVID issues. I just didn’t expect that he would be breaking a core campaign promise so early in his presidency.

So what’s holding Biden back from keeping his word? The White House would argue it’s funding, ventilation, and class sizes. Let’s look at each in turn.

As mentioned, Congress allocated over $68 billion in 2020 for COVID mitigation in K–12 schools. So far, most of this money has not been spent. That hasn’t stopped the Biden administration from demanding another $130 billion. But let’s ignore the currently unspent billions of dollars for a moment and ask the essential question: Will more funding help?

In fact, the schools that are currently open five days a week in America are parochial schools, which generally have less per-pupil funding than their public counterparts, and public schools that don’t compete with the per-pupil wealth of closed but well-funded districts such as Chicago, Fairfax County, San Francisco, and others. The issue is will, not resources.

6. More Joe: Biden’s child tax-credit plan is detached from reality, and would constitute a massive welfare-state expansion, report Robert Rector and Marie Fishpaw. From the analysis:

Biden would increase the refundable credit from $2,000 per child under 17 to $3,000 per child age six to 17, and $3,600 for children under six. Two-thirds of the new benefits provided ($79 billion per year) would be cash grants to families who owe no income tax. The proposal would also remove existing work requirements from the child cash grants, thereby providing extensive new welfare benefits primarily to non-working single parents.

While the administration suggests that these changes would be limited to a single year to help families suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan itself is modeled after legislation that would create new, permanent entitlements. Indeed, according to off-the-record sources, establishing a permanent expansion of the welfare state appears to be the real goal.

Advocates claim that this proposal will reduce child poverty — an idea linked to the notion that the U.S. welfare system does not spend enough to protect children from poverty. Yet recall that in 2018, well before the COVID-19 recession, the U.S. spent nearly $500 billion on means-tested cash, food, housing, and medical care for poor and low-income families with children. This is seven times the amount needed to eliminate all child poverty in the U.S., according to Census figures.

How can Americans spend so much and still have a problem of deep and widespread child poverty? The answer is that the government counts almost none of the $500 billion in spending as personal income in its widely publicized measures of poverty and economic inequality.

7. Even More Biden: If you’re curious about the meaning of “sue and settle,” a tactic of the revolving door between leftist groups and Biden-filled bureaucracies, Zhonette Brown is here to explain. From the beginning of the piece:

President Biden early on is touting his insistence on “ethics” from cabinet nominees and professional staff, and who can argue with that? But it will take more than a signed piece of paper to guard against the conflicts of interest and invitations to collusion that arise when professional activists from the outside suddenly find themselves on the inside, with the levers of federal power within easy reach.

The risk that we could be returning to the “sue and settle” mischief of the Obama era becomes more glaring with each new political appointment, as Biden stacks his team with professional environmental activists who bring conflicts of interest with them when they pass through the revolving doors at key regulatory agencies.

For example, Biden’s pick to advise the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is leaving her post as an Earthjustice attorney. Just last year, Earthjustice initiated a lawsuit to halt offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico under the guise of the Endangered Species Act. Who did Earthjustice sue? The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, of course. If Earthjustice is at all successful in its lawsuit, it will likely be paid by the agency. Indeed, in 2020 alone, Earthjustice received over $5.8 million in court-awarded attorneys’ fees.

8. Yet Even More Joe: Erin Hawley sounds the alarm on the Biden Administration’s plan to supersize the regulatory power of the federal government. From the beginning of the analysis:

Tucked away in the avalanche of President Biden’s early executive actions is the little-noticed but momentous creation of a new regulatory super-agency. Under the guise of “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has just been given, through executive fiat, the charge of using federal regulatory authority to achieve administration goals. OIRA’s transformation from a check on agency excess to a pro-regulatory arm of the federal bureaucracy has significant implications for the power of the administrative state, and ultimately, for how Americans are governed.

OIRA began as a check on agency authority and is best known for ensuring that agencies consider the costs of any proposed regulation. As part of the Paperwork Reduction Act, President Carter created OIRA within the Office of Management and Budget to review agency reporting requirements in order to reduce government-imposed paperwork. Later, in an attempt to rein in governance by agency rule, President Reagan assigned to OIRA the additional task of reviewing draft and final regulations to ensure that projected benefits exceeded projected costs.

The past few administrations have all affirmed OIRA’s mandate to ensure responsible regulation. The Clinton administration retained the net-benefit approach to regulation, requiring OIRA to review regulations to ensure that benefits exceed costs and that regulations are supported by a “compelling public need.” President Obama similarly required the office to minimize regulatory burdens and ensure that “benefits justify . . . costs.” President Trump went even further by invoking a two-for-one policy whereby any proposed regulation would be offset by two revoked regulations and a regulatory cost-ceiling policy whereby any proposed regulatory cost would be offset by deregulation.

9. John Goodman analyzes conservatism’s identity crisis, and calls for an activist agenda. From the reflection:

In every large city in the country, large numbers of low-income minority families are forced to live in substandard housing and send their children to failing schools. They benefit the least from almost every public service, from transportation to health care to public safety. They are also denied job opportunities by medieval-style occupational-licensing laws. These cities are almost always run by Democrats, usually liberal Democrats. A reformist conservative agenda would advocate school choice, the liberation of the housing and job markets, and private alternatives to essential city services.

Likewise, too many American seniors are trapped in antiquated social-insurance schemes that should be an embarrassment to a civilized society such as ours. They are misled on a daily basis by Social Security bureaucrats who encourage them to take early retirement, giving up benefits that are growing at a 3 percent, no-risk, real rate of return every year. Then when they do take a part-time job, they face the highest marginal-tax rates in the nation — as high as 95 percent in some cases. Seniors on Medicare are the only people in the country who cannot have a health-savings account or direct, 24/7 access to a primary-care physician as an alternative to the emergency room. As I argue in my book New Way to Care, we desperately need to reform Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the disability system, and other forms of social insurance that were designed in a different century to meet different needs.

These are only a few of the ways in which an activist conservative agenda could liberate people and markets, reform institutions, and make the world better for the most vulnerable among us. But for that to happen, the conservative movement will first have to decide whether it wants to embrace its Enlightenment roots or reject them.

10. Andrew Micha explains why progressive collectivism is antithetical to a free society. From the piece:

The oligarchization of American elites and the parallel pauperization of the citizenry is the real but uniformly suppressed story behind the country’s ongoing Balkanization, while the preferred narrative has been that alleged racial and gender injustice must be overcome by executive fiat. The relative impoverishment of the American middle class has degraded the power of the citizenry to self-govern and has emboldened an increasingly detached elite to indulge in group-based political experiments, with the reengineering of the nation in accordance with ever-shifting notions of “equity and social justice” the ultimate goal.

Just before the COVID pandemic hit, almost one third of all Americans lived in lower-class households, with the median income of just over $25,000 a year, less than two-thirds the national median. In 2015 the number of middle-class households dipped below 50 percent. With the lockdowns destroying small businesses, it continues to spiral downward. In contrast, in the 1950s, two thirds of American households were comfortably middle-class. Most importantly, while barely half of all households today belong to the middle class, according to Pew, already in 2014 the gap between the earnings of middle-income and upper-income families was the widest ever recorded in American history.

The fading of the middle class has been the predictable byproduct of the corporate off-shoring of our industry and has diminished its influence, a trend accelerated by the persistent disavowal of its values and lifestyles by our nation’s opinion-makers. In a nation where 80 percent of the population has seen its relative economic position decline and, with it, its ability to influence the country’s politics increasingly marginalized, the ruling oligarchy’s continued disregard for their concerns, values, and preferences is a prescription for deepening polarization, political instability, and further unrest.

11. Douglas Carswell reminds conservatives that the solutions for many of Americans problems are to be found in states, not Washington. From the article:

Rather than wait for the midterm elections in the hope that the political pendulum swings back automatically, conservatives ought to leverage the countless, practical policies that are burgeoning at the state level.

Utah, for example, has done something very smart regarding tech regulation, thanks to an idea from the Libertas Institute. Recognizing that technology can advance faster than policy-makers’ ability to understand its implications, Utah state law now allows residents to temporarily test an innovative product or service on a limited basis without otherwise needing an official license or authorization.

This gives Utah a competitive advantage and explains why the state is seeing a surge of interest from investors in innovation. Other states — including my own adopted state of Mississippi — need to follow.

Take another example in Texas. The Lone Star State boasts a competitive energy market that puts the customer, not the producer, first. The effect has been to significantly push down energy prices — just one of the reasons why businesses are moving there. If Texas can offer businesses and customers an energy advantage, why don’t conservatives give it a go in other states?

12. Dan McLaughlin investigates an unhappy chapter in the life of Alexis de Tocqueville. From the beginning of the piece:

Edmund Burke wrote that “the politician . . . is the philosopher in action.” A number of the great political philosophers, Burke among them, have had careers of their own in politics. Not all were as effective as Burke was. One who learned a painful lesson about principled men serving an unprincipled master was Alexis de Tocqueville.

The year was 1849. The revolutions that had convulsed Europe the previous year were entering their final, failed act. Tocqueville was 43, a decade into his career as a legislator, but making his first foray into practical political leadership when Louis-Napoléon named him the French foreign minister.

Tocqueville was a slender, inquisitive 25-year-old in 1831 when he wheedled the new French government into sending him across the ocean to study the American prison system. France in 1830 threw off the restored Bourbon monarchy for the last time, and the new king, Louis-Philippe, was initially eager to be perceived as liberal, tolerant, and forward-thinking. Louis-Philippe ruled with an elected legislature, albeit one of very limited powers elected through a very limited suffrage. Tocqueville returned with an enduring, magisterial two-volume portrait of the world’s first major liberal, republican, constitutional democracy in its adolescence. “Democracy in America” had no significant influence on the French system, but it established Tocqueville’s reputation as a liberal democrat. He entered the Assembly in 1839.

13. David Harsanyi tries to figure out why Tom Friedman gets all hot and bothered over Red China. From the piece:

Like many left-wingers fixated on the “climate crisis,” Friedman suffers from an acute case of authoritarian envy. Friedman’s focus of adoration is Xi Jinping and the People’s Republic of China, the world’s largest one-party state tyranny. On Chris Cuomo’s CNN show this week, the Pulitzer Prize–winner “was thinking, like, what are they doing in China today?”

Friedman imagines that 1.3 billion Chinese are contemplating serious environmental matters rather than wasting their time with a “knucklehead” like CNN fixation Marjorie Taylor Greene:

“They were probably thinking about some bad stuff with the Uyghurs and all of that, oh, for sure, but I guarantee you they weren’t wasting their time on this nonsense.”

I doubt the Chinese are “thinking about” the Uyghurs, since there’s no critical press allowed in China. But yes, Americans should be thankful that they don’t have to think about the sadistic state-sanctioned torture of women with electric batons, or the gang rape of 20-year-olds in front of hundreds of detainees, or genocide — at least, not in America.

14. Mexico’s brash behavior deserves a smackdown from the US, argues Josh Jones. From the article:

Safe to say that the saga of General Salvador Cienfuegos has not been a high-water mark in the counter-narcotics efforts of the U.S. government. A renowned figure in Mexican military circles and minister of defense from 2012 to 2018, Cienfuegos boarded a flight last October, accompanied by his family, from Mexico City to Los Angeles. When the plane landed, he was met by U.S. federal agents carrying an arrest warrant charging him with drug-trafficking conspiracy. The next day, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, acknowledged that the U.S. had notified him of the Cienfuegos investigation prior to the arrest and lamented the systemic corruption of prior Mexican presidential administrations.

Then, as if suddenly realizing that his own rapidly failing security strategy relied on the same military that so revered Cienfuegos, AMLO did an about-face, remonstrating in his daily press briefings on the audacity of American drug agents in America investigating violations of American drug laws without first notifying the Mexican government. A month later, in a move that shocked the Cienfuegos prosecution team in New York, the U.S. government released the general, along with the wiretap evidence against him, to Mexico under the pretense that the Mexican government would conduct its own investigation. On January 14, after the shortest criminal investigation in Mexican history, the same government declared Cienfuegos innocent. The Mexican president characterized the U.S. evidence as “fabricated.”

In the midst of the Cienfuegos saga, the Mexican legislature, at AMLO’s urging, passed a law in December stripping DEA agents of diplomatic immunity and requiring that all evidence obtained by American agents in Mexico be turned over to the Mexican government. If followed, the new law would all but shut down DEA operations in Mexico. As each passing blow goes unanswered by the U.S., the Mexican political establishment grows bolder and the threat posed by Mexican organized crime grows more potent.

15. An envious Emmanuel Macron, flubbing the vaccine rollout, gives the USA the hairy eyeballs, reports Cameron Hilditch, who draws some conclusions. From the analysis:

Three conclusions should be drawn from France’s failures and from the subsequent reflections of her statesmen upon them.

Firstly, it would be insane for the United States to pursue a policy of immigration restrictionism. It may be a great source of sorrow for Mr. Bayrou that France’s “best researchers, the most brilliant of our researchers, are sucked up by the American system,” but it is fantastic for America. The best and brightest of planet Earth have been pressing their faces up against the windows of American life for centuries, yearning to be let in through the front door. Turning them away in a fit of nativist pique to appease the restrictionist sentiments of some voters would be a supreme act of national self-harm. Indeed, the work of Stéphane Bancel is case-in-point of what makes America great.

Secondly, European statesmen, especially Macron, ought to be careful about their pursuit of “strategic autonomy” — the burgeoning desire among European elites to further centralize European power through the institutions of the EU. The stated purpose of this centralization is to make Europe less dependent on the United States in areas such as health care and industry, and, more importantly, to eventually allow the EU to project military power in its own interests, independent of the United States. Macron reportedly underscored these themes in a recent call with President Biden.

16. Jimmy Quinn considers Joe Biden’s Iran policy, and finds folly. From the beginning of the article:

The United States and Iran each wants to reenter the nuclear deal they struck in 2015 — also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — but neither wants to go first.

During an interview with CBS on Sunday morning, Biden said that Tehran would have to stop enriching uranium before the U.S. lifts Trump-era sanctions targeting Iranian entities. That same morning, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told CNN that he’s sticking with his country’s demands that Washington lift sanctions first.

Although the dispute matters insofar as it is a test of Biden’s resolve, recent events show that the administration’s strategy misses the forest for the trees, giving short shrift to the need to constrain Iran’s missile program, which scored a major success with the launch of the Zuljanah rocket on February 1 and is continuing to progress.

“The launch of the Zuljanah SLV [satellite-launch vehicle] will complicate the new Biden administration’s efforts at incorporating missiles into nuclear talks,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Iran has a diverse missile arsenal that must be accounted for in any diplomatic effort.”

17. The Israel boycotters are making inroads in the science community. A.J. Cashetta says we should be concerned. From the analysis:

Humanities academics were the vanguard of the movement against Israel, led by Edward Said, the English professor whose book Orientalism (1978) inspired many followers and imitators. Another milestone came in 2001, when the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in Durban, South Africa, gave rise to the trope that Israel is like apartheid South Africa. This inapt analogy of Israel’s self-defense and South Africa’s apartheid regime has become the chief rhetorical weapon in the academic offensive against Israel. Nearly every other hyperbole levied against Israel also originated through the conference’s NGO–academic alliance, which eventually evolved into the BDS movement.

Enthusiasm for that movement spread like a contagion among social scientists, with support for academic boycotts of Israel coming from the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

In 1996, NYU physicist Alan Sokal proved that science is not immune to the excesses of postmodernism when he duped Duke University’s peer-reviewed journal Social Text into publishing an absurd deconstruction of reality, confirming that pseudo-scientific nonsense could be passed off as wisdom. But it was the humanities and social-science professors who popularized the anti-Israel boycott movement: Judith Butler, Gil Anidjar, Hatem Bazian, Joel Beinin, Lisa Duggan, Richard Falk, Stephen Walt, and others. Still, by the end of the 20th century, the STEM fields remained untouched by the politics that had colonized much of academia.

That changed in 2004 when physicist Peter Higgs (of Higgs boson fame) refused to travel to Israel to accept the prestigious Wolf Prize in physics. According to several reports, Higgs was angry that Israel had killed Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin, but he didn’t sign any BDS statements or lend his name to the cause. As Lazar Berman puts it, he “allegedly pushes BDS, but the evidence is nearly as elusive as the particle that bears his name.” Even Higgs’s harshest critics claim somewhat vaguely that he “effectively calls for academic boycott of Israel.”

18. Jim McKelvey argues that Silicon Valley’s “disruption” focus is misguided. From the analysis:

Disruption has become nearly as threadbare a concept as en­trepreneurship. The two words could be roommates at rehab. When Clayton Christensen first popularized the disruption concept back in 1997, the idea was novel and interesting. But what Christensen originally called disruptive innovation has now been shortened to just disruption and the oversimplifi­cation is profound.

Two decades later, disruption has become the high-fructose corn syrup of business, an overused ingredient sprayed on pitches and injected into keynotes in the hope of disguising the familiar taste of conformity. Silicon Valley now has an annual conference called simply “Disrupt.” I hear pitches every month from start-ups wishing to destroy the economics of some exist­ing industry. Hidden — frequently well hidden — inside these pitches is the implication that the invisible hand of the econ­omy will reallocate resources so that we will all be better off and enjoy a more efficient world after the carnage. It doesn’t always happen that way.

Craigslist certainly disrupted classified advertising, one of the main revenue sources for newspapers. The papers re­sponded by reducing their news-gathering operations — firing reporters who collectively watched all our backs. How many more scandals would have been exposed if those now-unemployed reporters were still on the beat? We can never know. Disruption is not always positive.

But a more dangerous aspect of disruption is its retro­grade focus. Just as having the lowest price means focusing on competitors instead of customers, venerating disruption means focusing on old systems that somehow need to be dis­mantled or destroyed. Indeed, some existing systems deserve the wrecking ball, but making destruction of the incumbents the focus of entrepreneurship distracts attention from the creative potential of innovation. There is another path.

19. Mario Loyola finds that Big Tech presents a deadly challenge to democracy. From the article:

Big Tech has adjusted to its global market by developing a global business model. It has discovered how to operate — to the extent it is allowed — in both China and the United States simultaneously. And in both countries it has bought into what amounts to a protection racket.

To win the favor of Chinese authorities, Big Tech companies happily censor themselves — and the rest of us — even in the United States. They routinely remove or suppress content that the Chinese Communist Party deems offensive anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the most likely and serious threat to Big Tech’s bottom line are the Democrats, the party of taxation, regulation, and routine spasms of anti-corporate outrage (directed only at American corporations). But Big Tech has managed to prove particularly useful to them, censoring damaging news and suppressing critical commentary (even by individuals sharing content only within their own families), such as the New York Post’s still-unrefuted Hunter Biden story. They do so on the basis that such content misinforms or incites, but they systematically allow and even amplify the most imbecilic conspiracy theories about Republicans (such as the Russia-Trump collusion hoax, or any Michael Moore theory picked at random) without regard to truth or the potential for violence.

Alas, here at home the similarities with Big Tech’s role in China run deeper still. The evolution of America’s political institutions toward a one-party state has been underway for a long time, particularly since the New Deal. Most progressives start with noble intentions — fighting inequality and racism, giving effect to the impulses of the democratic majority, protecting “rights” of every description. Alas, the progressive program necessarily entails government powers that are far beyond those that were actually enumerated in the original Constitution.

20. Michael Brendan Dougherty checks out the authoritarian M.O. of the EU, and concludes this is not going to end well for the continent. From the article:

Meanwhile the heart of the European Union is dying. The bloc has spent years moaning about democratic backsliding in Visegrad countries Poland and Hungary — namely what they disliked was that the two populist conservative governments of those nations were so assertive with their limited powers in the EU itself.

But now, for the second time in little over a decade, Italy, the third largest power of the Union, will be led by a prime minister that not a single Italian voted into any office. Mario Draghi, famous for his handling of the Euro crisis at the European Central Bank, has been “invited” to lead a unity government after the fragile coalition government started to break down. Draghi was not even a member of Parliament. The reason for this is that the Italian political establishment cannot come up with a functioning government, and the polls say that if they turned to the voters, Matteo Salvini’s Lega party would almost certainly have the whip hand.

There is not a word about this from the people who style themselves as defenders of democracy and the liberal world order. An unelected technocratic prime minister is fine, so long as he’s on the side of the status quo.

What we are seeing in Europe is the authoritarian populism of incumbent elites. It’s not going to end well for them, or for Europe.


1. We condemn President Biden’s decision to return the U.S. to the U.N.’s hypocritical Human Rights Council. From the editorial:

Which leads to another fallacy espoused by the Biden administration’s narrative — European diplomats and NGO staffers, rather than the 2018 withdrawal, have posed one of the most persistent obstacles to meaningful reform of the council.

When the Trump administration took office in 2017, a formal reform process was already slated to begin in 2021, but officials refused to accept four more years of the status quo. And thus the administration — hoping that it could succeed where the Obama administration failed — began an aggressive campaign to change the council spanning some 200 meetings with diplomats and human-rights advocates throughout 2017 and the start of 2018. Diplomats first sought fundamental changes to the council’s anti-Israel agenda and its lax membership criteria, but when it became clear that these were politically unfeasible, they expressed their willingness to accept less-ambitious measures that would have changed its day-to-day operations.

Still, at every turn, U.S. diplomats were blocked. The European delegations killed a modest package that would have streamlined the council’s agenda and diluted debate about its numerous anti-Israel resolutions. The NGOs fought off a reform proposal that would have transformed their annual Human Rights Council candidates’ forum into an event run directly by the U.N. (The groups objected, of course, out of a selfish desire to continue holding these events themselves.)

2. SCOTUS delivers California’s lockdown-mad Governor, Gavin Newsom, a legal blow. From the editorial:

We share Justice Neil Gorsuch’s concern that “it is too late . . . to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency” where states have been “playing favorites” and “moving the goalposts on pandemic-related sacrifices for months, adopting new benchmarks that always seem to put restoration of liberty just around the corner.” Revisiting those measures as more of the public is vaccinated should mostly be the job of the political branches, but there is a role for the courts where the Constitution’s fundamental guarantees are at issue.

The Court may not be done protecting worshippers from Newsom. Justice Gorsuch, who would have overturned the singing ban as well, observed, “Even if a full congregation singing hymns is too risky, California does not explain why even a single masked cantor cannot lead worship behind a mask and a plexiglass shield. Or why even a lone muezzin may not sing the call to prayer from a remote location inside a mosque as worshippers file in.” Four other justices signaled interest in revisiting the singing ban, with Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh asking for more evidence of whether the ban discriminated against religious singing: “If a chorister can sing in a Hollywood studio but not in her church, California’s regulations cannot be viewed as neutral.”

It is heartening, in a climate of elite skepticism of religious liberty, to see the Court not only reach the right results but demonstrate a vigorous commitment to revisiting the question as many times as is necessary to get the point across. We hope Governor Newsom and other California policy-makers are paying attention.

3. The Democrats’ call for a $15 minimum wage, part of their COVID-relief plan, calls for a bad policy, at a bad time too. From the editorial:

The minimum wage is a simple policy with very complicated effects, some of which are hotly disputed and some of which have hardly been studied. But if one thing is clear, it’s that a government-mandated wage hike isn’t just free money for workers. More than doubling the minimum wage when the economy is barely pulling out of a year-long slump amounts to gambling with the livelihoods of millions of American workers, consumers, and business owners.

Lastly, a note on process. There are not 60 votes in the Senate for such a dramatic policy change at such an awful time, so Democrats are considering passing their bill through the filibuster-proof “reconciliation” process, which requires a more plausible 50 votes.

This process is reserved for matters that directly, and not merely incidentally, affect the federal budget. Republicans stuck to this rule even when it made their Obamacare-repeal efforts incredibly difficult. The minimum wage instructs businesses to pay their workers more; that is the main goal and the main effect, and any impact on federal coffers is incidental to it. (For instance, the federal government itself will have to pay workers more, more workers will take unemployment, etc.) It doesn’t qualify, and the Democrats will probably have to either override the Senate parliamentarian or disguise the wage hike in budgeting gimmicks to pull it off.

4. We remember the late George Shultz, sidekick to RWR in besting the USSR. From the editorial:

Thereafter, it was business. Shultz held executive positions at Bechtel, the engineering and construction firm. In the summer of 1982, President Reagan asked him to succeed Alexander Haig as secretary of state.

In that same year, Henry Kissinger came out with the second volume of his memoirs: “I met no one in public life for whom I developed greater respect and affection.” He was talking about Shultz. “Highly analytical, calm, and unselfish,” he continued, “Shultz made up in integrity and judgment for his lack of the flamboyance by which some of his more insecure colleagues attempted to make their mark.”

Finally, “if I could choose one American to whom I would entrust the nation’s fate in a crisis, it would be George Shultz.”

With steady competence, Shultz helped Reagan navigate the foreign-policy challenges of the 1980s — in particular, what turned out to be the final chapters of the Cold War. In a 2008 interview, Shultz put it this way:

“Détente said, ‘We’re here, you’re here, that’s life, the name of the game is peaceful coexistence.’ Reagan said, ‘No, they have a very unstable system, and it’s not going to last. It’s going to change.’”

Reagan and his team helped precipitate that change.

5. Democrats will regret their actions against Marjorie Taylor-Greene. Precedent has a funny way of sucker-punching. From the beginning of the editorial:

At least Marjorie Taylor Greene won’t have to spend time sitting at the end of the dais during long committee hearings.

House Democrats voted to boot her from her committee assignments in an act that they will surely come to regret, perhaps as soon as January 2023.

If the majority can keep members of the opposition party off of committees based on incendiary comments, it’s not clear why the GOP ever let, say, Maxine Waters serve on any committees when it had control of the chamber, or why it ever will again.

Kicking off Greene will come to be remembered as another inflection point in the steady unraveling of institutional norms on Capitol Hill.

Capital Matters

1. John Constable finds the panacea claims of off-shore wind energy to be bogus, never mind costly. From the piece:

But what is the reality of renewable energy? In one of his first actions as president, Mr. Biden has expressed the wish to “double” offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, an ambiguous phrase that probably means he and his advisers wish to see twice the current development portfolio of offshore wind capacity to be operational within a decade, or 18,000 MW rather than the present 9,000 MW in an advanced stage of preparation. The attraction is easily explained. The U.S. already has a great deal of onshore wind power, 112,000 MW, subsidized through Production Tax Credits and mostly located on and around a line running from North Dakota to Texas, a broad belt characterized by strong winds, cheapish land, and low construction costs. Unfortunately, it is also distant from the main corridors of demand on the East and West coasts. Offshore wind along the coasts therefore seems like a tempting option for expansion, but is it wise?

The U.S. has almost no experience with offshore wind, with only two small projects completed, totaling 42 MW, about 0.2 percent of Mr. Biden’s apparent aspirational 2030 target for this technology. However, this need not be a leap in the dark. In pursuit of relevant data, the U.S. can look to Europe, and particularly to the United Kingdom, which already has 10,000 MW of wind deployed in the British seas, some dating back to the early 2000s. Nearly everything the U.S. might wish to know is there. Extracting that information, however, will not be straightforward since the British government and the wind industry are colluding in an obfuscation of the truth. Both sides claim that costs are falling, the government because it is reluctant to admit failure after many tens of billions of dollars of subsidy, the industry because its participants hope to survive long enough to be rescued out by a future government so desperate that it provides new (and probably covert) subsidies.

Fortunately, one can obtain the economic facts of the offshore and indeed the onshore wind story, which is also discouraging, from the public filings of audited accounts. Professor Gordon Hughes of the Department of Economics at the University of Edinburgh has undertaken this analysis for over 350 companies that own and operate wind farms, covering a period of over 15 years. The work is published by the charity, Renewable Energy Foundation, which I direct, and is freely available from the REF website: Wind Power Economics: Rhetoric and Reality.

2. Jordan McGillis castigates the West Coast, Democrat-run, natural-gas-hating states that are blocking America’s energy-export opportunity. From the article:

What the opponents of Jordan Cove misunderstand is that LNG shipped to Asia would largely serve their cause. Shipping gas across the Pacific increases the likelihood that China and Japan will reduce their reliance on coal. China, despite its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060, burns a quarter of all the coal used globally, despite making up less than 20 percent of the world’s population. Japan, wary of nuclear energy after the fiasco at Fukushima Daiichi, now uses more coal than it did 20 years ago. The U.S., on the other hand, has reduced coal consumption by 45 percent since 2008 thanks to domestic production of natural gas. But to Oregon’s activists and those taking control of U.S. policy this month, no analysis beyond “hydrocarbons bad” is admissible.

Even accepting the premises of climate activists, exporting natural gas to Asia is a positive. That’s why Canada — which has a carbon tax — is building 13 LNG terminals in British Columbia alone. Market conditions, such as they are, provide an opportunity for North Americans to export an in-demand commodity. Remove Pompeiian references to “molecules of freedom” and the economics remain.

But whereas the Canadian government has seized the opportunity, the blue wall of legislatures and governors that control California, Oregon, and Washington State have left North American infrastructure developers scrambling. The result is convoluted arrangements such as the deal between San Diego-based Sempra Energy and Mexico to export LNG from a terminal in Baja California. The terminal will be Mexico’s first for LNG export; it will receive American natural gas by pipeline and ship it to Asia from just 40 miles south of the U.S. border.

3. Andy Pudzer and John Hartly see the hard-hitting costs hidden in Joe Biden’s minimum-wage increase proposal: From the piece:

In his attempt to overcome the Byrd rule, Sanders has cited new studies from two sources with a history of highly partisan research in support of minimum-wage hikes. Authored by the Economic Policy Institute and Berkeley economist Michael Reich these studies claim that a $15 federal minimum wage would positively impact the federal budget by tens of billions of dollars per year through increased tax revenue and reduced costs for public-assistance programs. Reich claims hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would positively impact the federal budget to the tune of $65.4 billion a year.

But would that really happen? Clearly not.

On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report stating that, should Sanders’ $15 minimum-wage bill become law, “the cumulative budget deficit over the 2021–2031 period would increase by $54 billion.” That sure doesn’t sound like a budget windfall.

In addition, the CBO’s average estimate was that, in the year the minimum wage hit $15, “the effects on workers and their families would include” a reduction of 1.4 million jobs. That’s a lot of jobs for an administration that claims it will focus on “getting back to full employment, as quickly as possible” because it “will make a major difference in the lives of tens of millions of people, particularly those most at risk of being left behind,” according to a White House blog post by Council of Economic Advisers members Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey.

4. Jessica Melugin says we can expect more harm than good from antitrust litigation, and it will be no different as relates to Big Tech. From the analysis:

U.S. v. International Business Machines Corp holds a valuable lesson about the harmful, unintended consequences of antitrust action. The looming case against IBM inadvertently created incentives for the company to raise its prices to consumers. IBM worried about what market share and profits it would be allowed to enjoy in the future if it lost the case, so it raised prices in the short-term to reduce market share to a level that would not concern regulators. Ironically, in its efforts to protect consumers from higher prices, the Department of Justice created incentives for IBM to raise prices. The DOJ has taken a similar risk in its suit against Google, which targets the company’s agreements with smart-phone manufacturers to preinstall its search tools. Search-engine competitors don’t like these arrangements, but consumers benefit by paying less for phones. If the interests of competitors are put before those of consumers, the lower prices and innovations that the latter enjoy will be sacrificed to protect inferior firms.

Perhaps it is easiest to see the dangers of today’s antirust actions against Big Tech in U.S. v. Microsoft. Microsoft raised the ire of regulators by including its Explorer browser free of charge with its Windows operating system, which brought the cost of a browser from $39 for Netscape Navigator to zero, the same price consumers pay for many of the services of today’s tech leaders. That was bad news for Netscape, but good news for consumers.

Real-world market developments during the course of the Microsoft trial also called the wisdom of the case into question. The computing world was shifting online, but the browser’s relative importance was no longer what prosecutors had made it out to be. Data and advertising were quickly becoming far more important to profits than including a free browser with an operating system. The move to mobile devices, the rise of search, monetized advertising, the Internet of things, voice-controlled technology, social media, widespread wireless Internet access, and online commerce all make the desktop “browser wars” look antiquated. Market forces acted faster than litigation proceeded, and it’s hard to imagine how that won’t also be the case for antitrust litigation against firms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

5. At Capital Note, Andrew Stuttaford delves into the rhetoric of NASDAQ boss Adena Friedman: From the piece:

Friedman: The question for us is always, how do we preserve the best of capitalism and still recognize that we have a role to play in the communities around us, and not just a role to play for shareholders?

For someone heading a major stock exchange to use a phrase that includes a reference to preserving the “best” of capitalism, suggests that that she is, at best, playing defense. Yes, capitalism does a decent job, but . . .

In reality, most advocates of capitalism or, in particular, of free markets (the two are not the same), concede that capitalism may not be perfect, far from it (not least because trial and error lies at the heart of a market economy). However, the fact remains that, taken as a whole, capitalism has delivered more prosperity to more people, by a very long way, than any other system.

As for the seeming subordination (that “just”) of shareholders (again, a strange qualifier from someone heading a stock exchange), that is consistent with the view of those who have embraced the ideology of stakeholder capitalism, and with it, the view that shareholders, mere owners of the company, are just one stakeholder among many.

Lights. Camera. Review.

1. Kevin James comes to Netflix with a new series, and this has the approval of Kyle Smith. From the piece:

James is here to take care of that. His broad, middle-of-the-road style is on display in The Crew, in which he plays the canny chief of a NASCAR team built around a hotshot but brainless young driver (Freddie Stroma) amid squabbles with another team member, the James character’s daughter (Jillian Mueller). James is after comedy that “inspires and uplifts,” he says on a Zoom call with journalists to promote the series, which debuts Monday (on the racing calendar, that’s the first weekday after the Daytona 500).

In the new show, James is sticking to his brand of genial, harmless comedy (the first scene sets the pace when fighting crew members drop everything to participate in the one undertaking everybody can agree on — saluting the flag for the National Anthem). But he notes that The Crew is something of a change of pace for him because it’s a workplace comedy as opposed to a domestic one like his earlier efforts The King of Queens and Kevin Can Wait (whose showrunner was our National Review colleague Rob Long).

Under showrunner Jeff Lowell, The Crew is being made with the enthusiastic participation of NASCAR, and promises to be drenched with insider detail. James says he’s learned a lot of fascinating stuff about the racing game, which he has been following since he was a kid and his favorite driver was Richard Petty. As a kid, James even dressed up like Petty once for Halloween: “with the cowboy hat and the mustache and the glasses.” Still, other sports were more important to him growing up. A decade ago, however, he was asked to be grand marshal at a NASCAR event and was gobsmacked by the energy level, which can only be hinted at by the televised coverage: “It’s insane when you go there,” he says. “You don’t know how much goes into this sport. And I recommend it for anybody who hasn’t done it. A live event is . . . a whole different world, from the RVs that move in, it’s the tailgating in the center . . . the athletes, the sponsors, the pit crew, the teams, the competitiveness, the fans . . . it’s a crazy event.”

2. Armond White spikes Brad Pitt’s Minari. From the beginning of the review:

Most reviews of Minari, the Korean-American film about a family settling in 1980s Reagan-era Arkansas, describe the two-parent, two-child-plus-grandmother characters as “immigrants.” This is not accidental. Reviewers interpret the film as confirming their sentiments about the immigration crisis, even if it means overlooking that the characters actually are U.S. citizens. Fact is, Minari is a nostalgic, semi-autobiographical film, written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, a Yale graduate who was born in Denver, Colo.

When reviewers condescend to Minari’s ethnic exoticism, it illustrates how political fashion continues to warp contemporary film culture. Reviewers (they’re not really critics) refuse to acknowledge that Chung’s tale is about all-American striving. Because reviewers prefer to see ethnicity first, they don’t recognize Minari’s stock narrative, its derivativeness, and the predictability that make it dull.

In fact, Minari is not foreign but distinctly Hollywood. The disagreement among young parents Jacob and Monica (Steven Yeun, Yeri Han) about relocating from Los Angeles to Arkansas turns the husband–wife tension into city–country banality. Jacob buys a farm to specialize in selling Korean vegetables and escape the drudgery of a California ranch where they both worked at determining the usefulness of chickens by checking their sex — discarding unproductive males. (Elite reviewers are so distracted from the world of work, they see no significance — or humor — in Monica’s preferring this form of peonage.) Meanwhile, the children (Noel Cho, Alan S. Kim) are too cute; and, worst of all, Soonja (Youn Yuh-jung), the non-English-speaking grandmother, wins reviewers’ affection for her Old World strangeness, since she is the most foreign and unregenerate — which is to say, least assimilated — character. It’s Soonja who plants minari (Asian celery) in a nearby stream.

3. Isaac Schorr has high praise for the new documentary on Thomas Sowell. From the piece:

The documentary also explores Sowell’s work on late-talking children and the research he did on geography’s effects on societal development.

While the film gives viewers an accurate understanding of Sowell’s worldview and core principles, it may seem a superficial treatment to those who are familiar with his work. For example, in a clip of an interview with Dave Rubin, Rubin asks why Sowell turned away from Marxism, and Sowell responds with a laugh and a one-word answer: “Facts.” The documentary treats this as a revelation, and it makes a fine soundbite, but it doesn’t really do justice to Sowell’s core belief in rigorous empiricism. The documentary also suffers from a few moments of repetition, when an anecdote told by one person, for instance, is retold by another voice.

But these problems are far outweighed by its virtues, the first of which is its narrator, whose knowledge of Sowell’s work and admiration for the man jump through the screen. Clearly, Riley takes an interest in the subject, and his enthusiasm invites the same out of viewers. Another is the array of charming anecdotes about Sowell that showcase his wit, crankiness, and kindness — I won’t spoil any of them here. In sum, the documentary really does a wonderful job of ensuring that its viewers grasp the essence of Sowell — the most important parts of his personality, career, and philosophy. Riley hopes that the film will “whet the appetite” of those who might then delve deeper into Sowell’s work.

4. More Armond, who watches an old film, The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque, which gets him to pondering. From the piece:

More than a politicized sex farce, these characters actually talk — not the specious “conversation” urged by pundits, but honest, personal communication. Issues dissolve in the face of egoistic, often romantic, conflict and connection. Rohmer’s mastery (best known from My Night at Maud’s, Claire’s Knee, and Chloe in the Afternoon) reveals characters speaking in the language of their times, then honestly confronting their own moral imperatives. The revelation is beautiful, beyond Hollywood’s self-satisfied groupthink that passes for thoughtfulness.

Rohmer avoids the brainwashed pretenses of characters who parrot our current state-media; his dramatic, verbal strategy uses haphazard personal encounters. The film’s subtitle, “The Seven Chances,” nods to the social slapstick of Buster Keaton’s 1925 Seven Chances, while acknowledging the accident of political preferences and the reality of citizens making personal choices. (Seeing the mayor and the schoolteacher’s daughters’ playtime détente — an innocent ideal — is pure elation.) Hollywood–New York narcissistic filmmaking partisans simply don’t go there.

Right now, we’re suffocating under enforced political correctness in which moviemakers lecture on proper social stances — while denying their own political biases. Nomadland; The Trial of the Chicago 7; Promising Young Woman; Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always; Minari; and most other new releases — all tell us what to think rather than entertain us. Unmoved, bored? Then you must be a “domestic terrorist” wasting your Netflix privilege.

5. John Fund reports from California on the final tinkerings of a forthcoming movie on Ronald Reagan. From the article:

The movie will tell the story of Reagan’s life from age 11 to age 83, as seen through the eyes of Viktor Petrovich, a KGB agent who is assigned to observe Reagan’s career from the 1940s through the 1980s. Petrovich constantly warns Moscow that Reagan is “a Crusader” who could do grave damage to the Soviet Empire. But he is largely ignored — until it is too late.

“The story of Reagan is a fascinating one whatever one’s politics,” the film’s producer, Mark Joseph, told me. “We came at it from the angle of wondering what his enemies thought of him and how they followed him and ultimately lost to him. Nobody knew him like his enemies did — and it’s through that lens that we tell the story. It’s impossible to understand the last century without understanding who Ronald Reagan was.”

Joseph has been an executive on more than 45 films, including The Passion of the Christ, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the successful free-speech documentary No Safe Spaces (with Adam Carolla, Dennis Prager, and Jordan Peterson).

6. More Kyle, who digs Judas and the Black Messiah. From the review:

LaKeith Stanfield, a versatile young actor who never fails to impress (and also appeared in Get Out), turns in a brilliant performance as the rat, Bill, who in his meetings with the FBI looks haunted and guilt-torn, just as when he’s among Black Panthers he shifts between fright and bravado. We meet him in an expertly crafted scene at a barroom in which the director creates a long, fluid extended take to create breathless anticipation (which is the correct use of the tool, more often trotted out these days merely as a showy gimmick).

Plemons is nearly as good as Stanfield in playing nuance: His Roy Mitchell, Bill’s pudgy FBI handler, can’t quite be classified as either a careless racist or a decent man grappling with his conscience. Plemons plays the internal struggle of this man brilliantly when he learns the reality behind a story Bill brought him about a Black Panther who tortured and murdered an informant: The truth is that the Panther was himself an FBI mole, and the “informant” was a scapegoat. Roy asks for clarification from his boss: We have a murderer working for us, and we’re not going to arrest him? No, he is told, the man is much more useful when allowed to visit various Black Panther sites, where his status as a “fugitive” can be used to obtain search warrants. The twisted logic of the spy game here is like John Le Carré goes to Chicago. To Bill, Roy asserts that the Panthers are the equivalent of the KKK: “The Panthers and the Klan are one and the same. Their aim is to sow hatred and inspire terror. . . . You can’t cheat your way to equality and you certainly can’t shoot your way to it.”

7. Horses couldn’t drag a compliment out of Sarah Schuette when it comes to the Black Beauty remake. From the review:

Resetting the story in America, rather than the Victorian England of the novel, is an interesting twist, but the creativity ends there. In this film, Beauty is not the stallion of the original but a mare, voiced by Kate Winslet, an excellent actress who ought to have been offended by the poorly written lines she was given in the role. If the director had a discernible reason for making the horse female, that would be one thing. But to do so simply to fit in with the all-female-remakes trend is shallow and disingenuous. The original Black Beauty was a vehicle for promoting animal welfare and ending bad practices engaged in by upper-crust or ignorant owners. Avis seems aware of the serious problem of managing wild-horse populations in the American West and of the mistreatment of carriage horses in New York City, but the screenplay jumps around so much that these real issues are lost.

This leads to the main problem with Avis’s movie: its overabundance of plotlines. Viewers are led in too many directions to get a good grasp on any given thread. In the novel, Beauty does indeed end up in numerous locations, but it happens over the course of many years. Here, however, we are taken from Utah to upstate New York in the first nine minutes of the film, left upstate for an hour, then tossed back to the West for about twelve minutes, and then suddenly find ourselves with Beauty back in New York — this time in the Big Apple — for the last 18 minutes. As in the book, each move places Beauty with different masters and performing various jobs (racehorse, mountain rescue horse, carriage horse, etc.), but here the uneven spacing of events is awkward and choppy.

Beauty’s human counterpart is Jo Green, played by the lovely Mackenzie Foy, yet another female character who in the original story was male. In the book, Joe Green is a young groom who learns much by caring for Beauty and, after many years apart, eventually rediscovers him. Movie Jo is an angry teenager who has tragically lost her parents. Sent to live with her horse-trainer uncle (who rescued Beauty from Utah), she gradually comes out of her shell and forms a bond with the horse.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. Our friends at Law & Liberty publish a five-part essay series on “Vindicating a Prudent Politics within the GOP. We know that “prudence” is a curse word to some, but nevertheless we commend this series, and share copiously, starting with Charles C.W. Cooke’s piece, “The Character That Brings Change.” From the essay:

Were Trump’s two showings especially impressive? Not really, no. In 2016, Trump managed to beat Hillary Clinton, but he did not gain more votes than she did, and over the four years of his presidency his party bled support at all levels of government except for the U.S. Senate. In 2020, Trump expanded the number of votes he received, but still got seven million fewer than his opponent, the 78-year-old, barely coherent Joe Biden, and then, having lost, set about losing the party its control of the Senate. If one were looking for advice on how to win elections, wouldn’t one rather look to the much-reviled George W. Bush, who won both of his elections, rather than to Trump? Or, if not, wouldn’t one look to Ronald Reagan, who bestrode the scene like a colossus?

To ask these questions in earnest is to accept the premise that conservatives have a problem winning elections or advancing their ideas. But they don’t — not really. Conservatism will always be a harder sell than its alternatives because it involves telling people hard truths, because it does not pretend to have all the answers at hand, and because it is fundamentally anti-utopian. And yet its political vehicle, the Republican Party, often prevails at the polls. Since 1994, when it finally broke the Democrats’ long monopoly on legislative power, Republicans have controlled the House for all but six years and controlled the Senate for all but nine. Since 2006, meanwhile, only five states have failed to elect a Republican governor for at least one term. Texas and Florida, the second and third most populous states in the union, have not elected a Democratic governor or state legislature since the mid-1990s, while both California and New York — the first and fourth more populous states, respectively — have had a mixture. If there is something truly wrong with the Republican Party’s priorities, one might expect this to show up more clearly in the data.

So, yes, you can put me firmly in the dinosaur camp. Or, to borrow a fashionable pejorative, you can serve me the “dead consensus” until I’m full up. Why? Well, because I don’t think that it’s dead. In my estimation, the future of conservatism should not be too different than the past of the conservatism, because most of what conservatives have historically stood for is still true. It is true that the Constitution is the best government system we can expect to live under, that we should amend it carefully and explicitly, and that we should demand that our politicians and judges interpret it according to its original public meaning rather than whatever linguistic fads are currently being taught at the universities. It is true that a free and open market yields opportunity and prosperity and that while it may not be a good idea to cut taxes infinitely, it is most definitely a good idea to keep them low. It is true that we cannot spend what we do not have forever without going broke. It is true that government programs, however well-intentioned, tend to collapse into inefficiency, inertia, self-dealing, and dependency. It is true that the Bill of Rights contains timeless and unalienable liberties, rather than contingent preferences that can be whittled away at the whim of the state. It is true that war comes to the weak and unprepared, and that a robust national defense is the best way to avert disaster. It is true that one cannot limit religious liberty without limiting conscience, and that governments that limit conscience find it hard to turn back before it is too late. And it is true that character matters — yes, even if those of poor character are capable of bringing about positive change.

2. Then comes fan favorite Daniel J. Mahoney, whose piece “No Escape from Politics — Or Patriotism” is a must-read. From the essay:

In contrast, many ordinary people are still proud to be patriots, and some remain stalwart people of faith. But the culture of repudiation and the above-mentioned fashionable ideological “theories” are reshaping the culture, and the education of young people from kindergarten through graduate school. In response, populism needs to be informed by statesmanship and a more attentive regard to the constitution of 1787. As Aristotle, Burke, the Founders, Tocqueville, and Lincoln have all taught us in their different ways, the human will, whether of the one, the few, or the many, is an insufficient foundation for justice, the rule of law and self-government. A prudent, constitutional populism, defending the country against those who define democracy as the repudiation of our civic and civilizational inheritance, is the only way forward.

But that will demand not only thoughtful intellectual venues like Law and Liberty, the sponsor of this symposium, but new universities open to liberal learning and resistant to the destruction of what T.S. Eliot famously called the “Permanent Things.” Without cultural and spiritual renewal, there cannot be a revival of true statesmanship, constitutionalism, and the self-command central to the arts of republican self-government. But that renewal is also impossible without a decent and reasonably free political order. For example, there cannot be a reasonable chance for a “Benedict Option” to succeed unless our political order remains open to authentic religious liberty and non-relativistic understandings of human freedom. There is no escape from politics, and the imperatives of political reason. There is no running for the sacred hills.

The late Roger Scruton is extremely helpful in showing prudent and principled conservatives (and old-fashioned liberal constitutionalists) all the obstacles that we confront. We on the conservative-liberal side understand that every civic order is also a moral order, one that inculcates and defends “existing norms and customs.” In one of his last books, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition, Scruton argued that on the Left “it is the negative that inspires.” Left-liberals no longer believe in discursive reason but reduce every argument and action to the unholy trinity of race, class, and gender (however, class is on the wane at the present moment, it seems). The Left has ready-made “isms” and “phobias” (racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, and now transphobia) to conveniently target conservatives — or people of good sense more broadly — and “to dismiss every aspect of our cultural capital.” The Left increasingly identifies freedom with permissive egalitarianism, and cultural and moral relativism. They are unforgiving and see oppression and domination in decent if imperfect traditions, institutions, and cultural practices.

Democratic patriotism is thus never reducible to an abstract attachment to rights or to some universalist liberal political philosophy. Men and women fight and die, or risk their lives for free countries, not for a universalism or cosmopolitanism that is far too abstract to be concrete or real.

3. Joseph Postell weighs in with “A More Perfect Conservatism.” From the essay:

Adjusting the policies of American conservatism to the new environment is a task less daunting than it may seem. While it would require setting aside ideologically rigid commitments on trade and debt, it is important to remember that Trump embraced most of what defined traditional American conservatism. The real challenges concern style and tactics, not substance.

Regarding style, Trump’s personality defined conservatism for the past four years, for better and for worse. His Twitter feed rallied millions to support him, and alienated millions who may have supported his policies but could not stomach his character. It’s hard to measure the cost and benefit of Trump’s personality with confidence. Trump won in 2016, of course, but he lost the popular vote, and he faced a historically poor opponent. He lost in 2020, of course, but he seemed a likely winner at the beginning of the year, before the bizarre events of 2020 turned the nation upside-down. Could a political party and its leaders connect to Trump’s base, integrating it into the coalition, without embracing his buffoonish style?

In addition to the concerns about style, conservatism must grapple with questions about tactics. Perhaps the central charge that Trump’s intellectual supporters levied against conservatism was that it was not sufficiently aggressive. Conservatives, in this view’s famous metaphor, are “the Washington Generals of American politics. [Their] job is to show up and lose.” They “self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree.” Instead of fighting, they cede ground voluntarily, just to get a seat at the table.

Like the claims about style, these criticisms about conservatism’s tactics are impossible to evaluate objectively. To illustrate: Left-wing faculty at my previous university routinely lamented that conservatives dominated national politics during the Obama presidency. (I once attended a faculty dinner party where the main topic was President Obama’s astonishing refusal to fight harder for progressive causes. Alas, they concluded, he was just another conservative in disguise.)

The complaint that American conservatism has been tactically ineffectual is, in my view, overblown. Conservatism has transformed American politics since it emerged in the middle of the 20th century. It has reshaped the federal courts, defeated the Soviet Union, and dramatically altered the nation’s fiscal policy. It has also resisted repeated attempts to transform the nation into a much more radically progressive regime. America is not Canada, France, or Spain, and American conservatism is at least partially responsible for that.

4. Carson Holloway’s symposium contribution, “In Search of Virtù,” brings Machiavelli into the conversation. From the essay:

The proper response to this challenge is that anyone who wants to understand politics — as well as anyone who wants to succeed in politics — has to be able to think like Machiavelli. His account of the often harsh realities of political life is too accurate to be safely ignored. This is not to say that conservatives should simply become Machiavellians — amoral seekers of political power for its own sake. It is to say that any effort to guide political life by sound moral principles will fail if it does not also take into account the reality of power politics.

Our greatest statesmen have understood this well. Contemporary conservatives tend to revere Abraham Lincoln. If they would attend closely to his career, they would see that he never made any important decision without considering both the principled basis for his actions as well as the implications for his own power, that of his party, and that of his country. Lincoln was not a political prophet (unlike, say Frederick Douglass) but a practical statesman who knew that he would need to succeed in winning and holding power if he were to do any good for his country as a politician.

What, then, are the Machiavellian virtues that permitted Trump to succeed to the extent that he did? Machiavelli teaches that humans are primarily self-interested beings. Where many conservative candidates had failed by offering appeals to abstract principles that are of little interest to ordinary voters, Trump succeeded by offering a straightforward and unashamed appeal to the self-interest of Americans.  While Trump’s universally-known slogan issued a call to “Make America Great Again,” his build-up to that slogan in his stump speech always included a promise to “make America wealthy again.”  Trump followed through on this pledge by cutting taxes, cutting regulations, and reconfiguring American trade policy with a view to promoting American manufacturing.  The economic result: better GDP growth and rising wages for the working class.  The political result: Trump won many millions more votes in 2020 than he had in 2016.

Trump also understood or intuited Machiavelli’s observation that in every political community human nature expresses itself in two “humors”: the people and the great. Trump the populist grasped that, as Machiavelli admonished, it is better to found one’s power on the people than on the great, because the former are more numerous and less demanding than the latter. The people mainly want to be left alone and have their essential interests respected, where the great cause trouble because they are ambitious to rule and want to impose their wills on the people. By understanding this Trump was able, with not much difficulty, to take over the Republican Party over the strenuous objections of its wealthy donors and their preferred leaders.

5. James Hankins’ contribution, “Prudence Demands We Resist Arbitrary Government,” considers the leftist enemy, now exposed for what it truly is. From the essay:

At the beginning of Men at Arms, Evelyn Waugh’s great novel of the Second World War, his protagonist Guy Crouchback sees a headline in the morning newspaper announcing the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939. While news of the pact causes heartache to intellectuals on the left — how could the leader of world socialism agree to a non-aggression pact with that monster Hitler? — it “brought deep peace to one English heart.” Crouchback had been suffering an anguish of his own thanks to the estrangement between the country of his ancestors, England, and the country of his heart, Italy. Though he despised Nazis, he had not been able to regard the Fascist regime of Italy in quite the same black-and-white terms as his fellow Englishmen. “But now, splendidly, everything had become clear. The enemy was at last in plain view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms. Whatever the outcome there was a place for him in that battle.” Now he could return and fight for his country with full commitment against the twin evils of Nazism and Communism.

Many conservatives over the last year have had, I think, a similar moment of clarification. Such moments are rare for us. The conservative temperament in politics ordinarily aims to make prudent choices between the least unsatisfactory alternatives. We conservatives expect politics to be morally murky, up to a point. It’s not our way to proclaim utopian futures or swear fealty to politicians urging ethical perfection upon the citizenry.

So as a conservative it was hard for me to muster much enthusiasm as we entered the election year. President Trump was not my cup of tea and I saw little to admire in his behavior, but the behavior of his opponents was no better. Both sides marked new lows in verbal incontinence and mendacity. I didn’t like all the president’s policies, either, but those of his opponents, where they could be discovered, seemed worse. In politics one also has to consider the kinds of people supporting either side, and the persons likely to hold office under a successful candidate. Though there were some competent, even admirable figures on both sides, the thought of having to join either tribe was painful.

But at a certain point this year the enemy came at last into plain view, huge and hateful. The disguises of history were cast off. It became clear that we were being governed by a corrupt oligarchy out of tune with traditional American political norms. All government, as Pareto noted, is in the end oligarchical; it’s in the nature of government for the few to rule over the many. But it matters what kind of oligarchy governs. And the new oligarchy that has revealed itself this year looks suddenly very different from any that has governed us before.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière wonders if Trump’s Middle-East achievements will survive. From the article:

As anticipated by Trump in May 2017, the Abraham Accords have both an economic and a strategic dimension. They not only offer economic opportunities to all the signatories but also reinforce their military strength. As the plan includes the Palestinian Arabs, the Arab signatories can say that by signing the agreement, they did not forget the Palestinian population.

The Abraham Accords — between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain — will lead to billions of dollars of investment and trade between Israel and its partners in peace. The Accords will also allow the Emirates and Bahrain to benefit from Israeli technology, and see their defense strengthened against Iran.

The Abraham Accords have also led, more broadly, to a cultural and religious opening of the Emirates and Bahrain to Judaism: the Crossroads of Civilization Museum in Dubai is now the first museum accessible in the Hebrew language in the Arab world. The museum displays old maps of Jerusalem, a sword from the Yemenite Jewish community, a pre-Holocaust Jewish marriage contract and original letters by Theodor Herzl. Restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Manama are increasingly serving kosher food. A giant Hanukkah candelabra, a menorah, was lit up in front of Dubai’s Burj al-Khalifa, the word tallest skyscraper, to celebrate the Jewish holiday. Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has been working for years to spread a non-political vision of Islam and has entrusted the management of the country’s religious issues to a Sufi scholar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, now in charge of disseminating this vision.

The Trump administration’s agreement with Sudan has an even more striking dimension. Sudan was on the list of terrorist states and, until its dictator, Omar al Bashir, fell in April 2019, it had contributed to the war against Israel. The current Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, shares a similar vision of Islam to that of Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, and has appointed a Christian Coptic woman to the Sovereign Council, a body that will rule the country until late 2022 when free elections are planned. Israel now has peaceful relations with a country that had long been an enemy. Sudan, freshly removed from the list of terrorist states, now has help from Israel, one of the world-leaders in agricultural technologies, and will be able to improve its food production.

7. Clara Barton on Line One: At The College Fix, Matt Lamb reports on the race-lunacy at the University of Washington. From the beginning of the piece:

The University of Washington has launched a new “Center for Antiracism in Nursing.”

“Systemic racism has for generations undermined the health of individuals and communities across America, a public health crisis that has made the pandemic even more deadly and destructive for people of color,” the public university in Seattle said in a news release on February 5.

The nursing school dean said “nurses are in the ideal position” to combat racism. “There is much work to do to become antiracist, not just as a society, but as a school, a university, a profession and a community,” Azita Emami said in the media statement.

A nurse practitioner said she hopes the center will help confront “white privilege” and “anti-blackness.”

“I believe the process of creating the Center for Antiracism in Nursing will provide a way for the school to reconcile and find resolve within its own walls that have promoted anti-blackness and white privilege,” Joycelyn Thomas said in the news release.

The center, which plans to hold a series of listening sessions as it formulates the center, has a number of goals.

The goals include “Cultivating antiracist teaching practices, academic curriculum and professional development,” “Supporting students from underrepresented and historically excluded groups” and “Applying antiracist principles to clinical practice, organizational operations and health-related policy.”

University President Ana Marie Cauce said that the public university “recognize(s) the need to combat the systemic racism that results in poorer healthcare and worse outcomes for Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color.”

A Dios

Saint Valentine — bishop, martyr and patron of beekeepers (in addition to love), whose feast we celebrate this Sunday — is, by tradition, the go-to intercessor for petitions elating to fainting, epilepsy, and the plague. Consult him if needed. Forty years ago on his feast day, Not-Yet-Mrs. Yours Truly and Yours Truly had their initial get-together. It was a lowfalutin dinner, which followed the watching of Fort Apache, The Bronx. Talk about a romantic date. Nevertheless, to the day, five years later, they wed. She deserves battlefield pay for the trials and tribulations she tolerated in the 35 ensuing years. That shared, please pray for those who are affianced, so their marriages may be happy and enduring.

May You Abide in God’s Love,

Jack Fowler, who remains at your service, and accepts all inquiries and requests sent via

National Review

20 Million Leaks Under the Vaccine


Dear Weekend Jolter,

We thank the Creator for the innate and undeniable efficiency of government! As this missive is typed some 35 million vaccines have been administered in the U.S; and per our Jim Geraghty — please do read his important piece of reporting — only 20 million doses are missing. That’s all. Not a bad percentage for screwing up!

What else? Again per Jim: Tens of millions of doses are just sitting there in a warehouse. Don’t rush Uncle Sam — in lockdown we’re keeping busy reading reports about new mutant strains. And of course reading the obituaries (lots to read there).

What else? The new Capital Record podcast has only chalked up its third episode, but Your Humble Correspondent suggests you give a listen, as David Bahnsen and author Jerry Bowyer discuss Jesus-is-a-Socialist malarkey. It’s quite good.

What else else? The deadline for National Review Institute’s acclaimed “Burke-to-Buckley” Program spring sessions (in Philly and NYC) is February 10th, so chop chop with the applications. If you’re geographically challenged, you may know a son, daughter, grandchild, whatever, who would find this the WFBees knees, so make with the PDQ recommendations. Here’s where Your Aggravating Pitchman explained the whole kit and kaboodle last week. Or cut out the middleman and head straight to the appropriate NRI webpage, right here.

And then, before the meat and potatoes are served, there is this fat and tasty appetizer, courtesy of Armond White, he of the always brilliant pen, who here reflects on the reflecting-on the death of the great actress, Cicely Tyson. His point: Her death and her legacy have been exploited by many with a superimposing agenda, many ignorant of her artistry and true accomplishments. It’s such a great bit of cultural analysis that this missive’s author, claiming a point of personal privilege, seeks to draw your attention to it from the near-outset. From the beginning of Armond’s piece:

The late Cicely Tyson is getting the Chadwick Boseman treatment. Mainstream media bow to her memory with overstated obits and one piddling night of two films on Turner Classic Movies. All this, pretending to respect the artistry of her 60-year-plus career, simply in order to make Tyson an exemplar of Black Lives Matter significance.

Dark, lovely, and clearly intelligent, Tyson was certainly an extraordinary figure during the late 20th century, but like other black American performers who personified the social advances of that time, her reach into the millennium saw her achievements used as political fodder by media, politicians, and a new generation that was unaware of the qualities that defined Tyson’s exceptionalism. Tyson’s ageless beauty (she was nearly 50 when she made her breakthrough in Sounder) recalls how Celia Johnson portrayed average women with extraordinary forthrightness.

Racial esteem recently has degraded into political necromancy. Once a black cultural figure passes, they get more love dead than when alive. (The ultimate example is the 2018 Aretha Franklin funeral that became a Democratic Party platform.) Black artists who’ve enriched the culture are fitted with the same death masks as lawbreakers Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and George Floyd — a form of honor peculiar to our suspiciously politicized era. When we no longer learn from artistry, its value gets twisted into outlawry.

Please do read the entire piece. And now, as promised (maybe even as feared) is another Weekend Jolt.



Pradheep J. Shanker: Andrew Cuomo Was a Villain All Along

Rich Lowry: Don’t Quit on the GOP

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Populism Driven by Errors, Arrogance and Corruption

John Yoo and Robert Delahunty: The Impeachment Trial’s Stacked Deck

Therese Shaheen: Don’t Trust Beijing, Because You Can’t Verify

Doug Bandow: China’s Terrifying Returns to Maoism

Fred Fleitz: How Joe Biden Could Truly ‘Fix’ the Iran Nuclear Deal

Madeleine Kearns: Scotland’s Government Slashes Away at Liberty

Itxu Díaz: The Davos ‘Great Reset’: Globalist Civilization Is Bound to Fall

Jimmy Quinn: Pakistan Threatens American Ahmadi Muslims in Digital-Censorship Effort

Dalibor Rohac and Ivana Stradner: Germany’s Armin Laschet Is Bad News for Biden Administration

Cameron Hilditch: European Union Disgraced, Brexit Vindicated in Vaccine Blockade Dispute

More Cameron: Honest Abe Canceled by Dishonest School Board

More Lowry: Biden Administration and Democratic Party Progressives Are in Lockstep

Zaid Jilani: Defund the Police: Study Shows Policy Can Have Deadly Consequences

Alexandra DeSanctis: What the Media Won’t Tell Us about Abortion

More MBD: Sunday Dinner: COVID Threatens a Fading Tradition

Kaj Relwof: Dark-Money — Democrats’ Self-Defeating Crusade


Andrew Cuomo’s Shame

The BBC’s Horrifying Uyghur-Torture Story

Liz Cheney and House Republicans Hand Matt Gaetz a Defeat

Capitol Hill Fence: Security Concerns Must Not Result in the Fortification

How to Deal with Marjorie Taylor Greene

GameStop Stock Rally Foolishness

Capital Matters

Andy Pudzer finds an old motive that works: COVID-19 Vaccines: Profit-Seeking Businesses Developed and Delivered

Tate Williams explores the POTUS’s fantasies: Biden Administration Regulations Undermine Wind Energy

Alexander William Salter reviews advances beyond the stratosphere: Space Policy & Private Sector: Trump Administration Made Real Progress

Jarrett Skorup on those who cut off the ladder’s first rung: Minimum-Wage Hikes Will Mean Fewer Entry-Level Jobs

Veronique de Rugy sees little return: Coronavirus Stimulus Overkill

From the February 22, 2021 Issue of National Review

David Harsanyi takes on a ghoulish governor: COVID Cuomo’s Deadly Nursing Home Mistake

Charles C.W. Cooke records the consequence of our virtue dearth: Our Illiberal Moment

Joseph Epstein writes an obituary: What Killed Humor?

Brian Streeter explains the urban fed-ups: Looking at Trump’s Electoral Performance in Big Cities


Articles, and Plenty of Them

1. It may be news to most of the MSM, but as Pradheep J. Shanker explains, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a pandemic-politicizing villain from nearly the outset. From the article:

This was likely the worst possible decision Cuomo could have made. First, although many feared the hospitals would be overwhelmed, field hospitals and military-hospital ships quickly became available, but were underutilized. As for COVID itself, we now know that patients needed around ten days to be totally free of the virus. Furthermore, some patients who were never symptomatic were nonetheless infectious, and they were still returned to nursing-home facilities. There, they could quietly infect other patients and staff. We may never know the true number of people who were infected, or even died, from the governor’s orders.

This too, could have been excused, if Andrew Cuomo had simply been forthcoming and admitted it was a mistake. But if he had done that, he wouldn’t be Andrew Cuomo. In July, his own New York State Health Department report denied any wrongdoing relating to its March 25 order that homes be forced to accept COVID-positive patients — though 323 facilities had no reported infections until they took in such patients from hospitals. Even worse, this report still didn’t provide statewide data on the matter. The report was a clear attempt to hide data and whitewash the repercussions of Cuomo’s ill-considered order. This has led to outside groups, such as the Empire Center for Public Policy, to file lawsuits demanding the Health Department release these data.

The simple reality is that the governor’s orders led to more deaths. How many can be argued, and likely will be an area of vigorous debate in public-health-policy academic circles for decades to come. But Cuomo then compounded his mistake by purposefully lying and deceiving the public about it, all the while having the machinery of the New York state government cover for him as well.

2. In the face of claims of its death and certain demise, Our Esteemed Editor, Mr. Lowry, makes the case for the Grand Old Party’s future. From the piece:

There will inevitably be an overwhelming controversy in the Biden administration or a crisis that moves us beyond the politics of the Trump presidency and the immediate aftermath.

New issues will emerge, and there are plenty of talented, ambitious Republican politicians who think they are better suited to win a presidential election and serve as president than Donald Trump 2.0. The incentives are for them to slipstream behind Trump for now, but that won’t always be true.

The temptation to splinter from the GOP might be alluring to elements of both the populists and the Republican traditionalists, but this is a dead end.

The Republican Party is the only plausible electoral vehicle for any sort of right-of-center politics in America. It is worth fighting over, and it will be.

That struggle is sure to be toxic and unpredictable — except for the fact that at the end of the day the Grand Old Party will still be standing.

3. Populism is not exiting the room, writes Michael Brendan Dougherty. From the article:

If the virus is stomped out by summer, though, populist energy could ebb substantially and normal life might return in a giddy rush as we all race back to entertainments and head toward full employment once again. The Fed’s book may be a mess, but stocks are high, and household balance sheets tell us that spending and splurging are on the way.

But I doubt that populism is going away for long.

First, because there is always a populist streak in American life. We are a people who routinely cook up new religions, quack cures, and strange theories. Our modern media just make these more visible. But what’s mainly driving populist energy today are the errors, arrogance, corruption, and intransigence of our leaders.

The continued breakup of traditional institutions and the segmentation of news media into enterprises that focus on serving a dedicated customer base rather than “the public” have driven trust in the media to an all-time low. Not a surprise when all media are seen as a commercial scam, led by a cliquish, self-protecting bevy of insiders. Journalists are becoming the new lawyers — despised by the public for serving themselves even before their customers.

4. John Yoo and Robert Delahunty find that the setup for Donald Trump’s second Impeachment is missing a fair chance. From the analysis:

As the Senate launches its second impeachment trial of Donald Trump next week, its members must confront the deep unfairness of the proceedings.

The Senate rashly claimed jurisdiction over a former president, fumbled on the selection of a presiding judge, and ignored the constitutional — not political — standards that should prevail. Further, it has given Trump’s depleted legal team little time or means to present a full defense — the only guarantee that the American people will accept the verdict as fair. Trump’s lawyers will have to accept these unfair conditions, though might conceivably be able to appeal directly to the federal courts to stop a show trial (more on that later).

In part, of course, Trump has only himself to blame. He presented challenges to the 2020 election beyond all reason, he stoked an angry mob on the day that Congress gathered to count the electoral votes, and he did not call on law enforcement and the military to protect the Capitol until too late. He has compounded the problems by parting ways with his first defense team less than a week ago and allegedly insisting that his lawyers focus on election fraud, rather than the unconstitutionality of trying an ex-officer. Such chaos might make good fodder for the Mar-a-Lago reboot of The Apprentice, but it only makes his defense all the more difficult.

Nevertheless, the Senate has ignored the constitutional limits on its powers and refused to follow principles of fairness in the trial. As we have argued earlier, the constitutional text — read in light of the understanding held by the Framers — does not appear to permit the trial of executive officers after their terms have ended. If the Framers had wanted to provide for the Senate trial of an impeached former president, they could have said so explicitly, as did several state constitutions of the Founding period. Days ago, 45 senators supported proceeding with a losing motion by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to dismiss the impeachment on this constitutional ground alone.

5. Therese Shaheen explains that bipartisan China hands are admitting that decades of Ameircan daydreaming policy has been a flop. From the article:

The hope that China, as it developed economically, would glide into democratic-capitalist norms guided the policy of every U.S. administration since President Carter granted U.S. diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979. The approach was based on the belief that Deng Xiaoping, who had consolidated his power by 1978, at heart was a market-driven reformer and that political liberalization would follow market liberalization.

That has not happened. That this approach was erroneous is now accepted by Democrats and Republicans, by elected officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and by U.S. allies across Asia and Europe.

Even more remarkable than the acknowledgement that the policy was wrong — something policy-makers and politicians don’t like to admit, even in hindsight — is the increasingly popular view that not only were assumptions about Communist China and regime intent wrong, but also that there was enough evidence for successive administrations after Carter’s to have known at the time that they were on the wrong track.

There were certainly American analysts and policy-makers whose service in earlier administrations reflected a more accurate assessment of Beijing’s true intentions. But the typical reaction to that minority view tended to be derision at the “failure” of those analysts to understand the more nuanced, artful statecraft of the people executing the broader policy.

6. Doug Bandow repeats what’s worth repeating: Red China’s return to Maoism is terrifying. From the article: