National Review

Fear Not that Ye Have Died for Naught . . .

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

The silk/paper poppy flowers sold at this time of year, as we approach Memorial Day, always seemed . . . holy. Hallowed in their simplicity, beautiful in their symbolization, conveying the message: We honor, we revere, we do not forget. Moina Belle Michael initiated this tradition soon after World War One, and over the decades the sales of poppy flowers have raised massive amounts to support disabled war veterans and related programs. Michael, a Georgia teacher, was inspired by Canadian field surgeon John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields, which famously begins:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row. . .

Miss Michael was so moved by the words that she wrote a poem in reply, We Shall Keep the Faith, which ends:

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Let us pray that we do.

Now, as it does every year, Turner Classic Movies will be hosting a Memorial Day Marathon, from May 23 through May 25, showcasing 31 movies. The marathon commences with John Ford’s 1939 flick, Drums Along the Mohawk. Once upon a time, Hollywood paid fitting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Kudos to TCM for doing this every year.

Well, the Jolt awaits, but before we get cracking, it’s a fact that if you are reading this, you are receiving the daily missive by our Jolt Eminence, Big Jim Geraghty. So you likely have read his May 21 filing titled, “Quarantine for Thee, But Not for Me.” On the off chance you have not, you are encouraged to do so, and will find it here.

Editorials

1. The ACLU figures that the time has come to turn on due process. Disdain needs to be expressed. And is. From the beginning of the editorial:

That the ACLU is suing the federal government in the hope of altering its due-process standards is not headline news. That the ACLU is suing the federal government in the hope of weakening its due-process standards is headline news for the ages. Once more, the line between parody and reality has been blurred.

The targets of the ACLU’s suit are the Department of Education; its secretary, Betsy DeVos; and its assistant secretary for civil rights, Kenneth Marcus. Their offense? To have made it easier for the accused to defend themselves. As NBC News explains, the changes that Secretary DeVos has spearheaded “effectively bolster the rights of due process for those accused of sexual assault and harassment, allowing for live hearings and cross-examinations” — two elementary provisions that, as NBC notes, were “lacking during the Obama administration to protect all students under Title IX.”

Which, per the ACLU, is a problem. DeVos’s changes, the group claims, will make “it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations and needlessly comes amid a global pandemic.”

Remind us again what the C and the L stand for?

2. That America is fixated on hydrowhatevertheheck is idiotic. From the editorial:

Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, is a well-established medicine for other purposes, and its potential has been worth exploring. Some promising early results led Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo and Gretchen Whitmer to join the White House task force’s cautious optimism. Too many of the president’s critics instead dug themselves into actively rooting for the treatment to fail.

The responsible thing to do with a clinically untested treatment is go where the evidence follows. The president, however, has responded to the barrage of criticism with his trademark relish for a fight. He now has publicly declared that he is taking hydroxychloroquine himself, as if his personal confidence in the drug is all that matters.

This marks a new chapter in a stupid sideshow that no one needs. It will embroil the White House and the Republican Party in defending hydroxychloroquine for the same reason his critics loathe a drug they hadn’t heard of before a few months ago — simply because it is a thing Trump favors. The vice president has already felt it necessary to state that he is not taking it.

3. America needs to stand with the people of Hong Kong. From the editorial:

China’s move against Hong Kong is likely dictated by propitious circumstances. Democracy protesters in Hong Kong may be fatigued. And while the rest of the world deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little appetite to expend the diplomatic energy or engage in the trade actions that could protect Hong Kong.

At the time of the treaty, little Hong Kong accounted for nearly 20 percent of China’s overall economy, and it was a crucial engine of China’s economic growth. Companies that wanted to do business in a liberalizing China headquartered in Hong Kong. Financial markets still prefer it. Why? Because it has inherited a property-rights regime and a judicial system from the Anglo tradition. One could make a case in a Hong Kong court and expect a fair hearing, rather than a political judgment dictated by a party boss.

Abrogating the two-systems settlement is an injustice, and a foreseeable one. Hong Kong now represents less than 3 percent of China’s economy. And so Beijing senses it can strike a new bargain, renege on its treaty obligation, and put to death any notion that Hong Kong’s style of government will ever win out by persuasion.

No Sunscreen Needed: Conservative IQ Summer Fun Awaits!

National Review Institute is pleased to announce that registration is now open for a new virtual “Burke to Buckley” Summer Course! While this program is normally designed for mid-career professionals who live within the six cities where programs are offered, the virtual Summer Course will give all individuals around the nation the opportunity to participate in discussions about the foundations of conservative thought.

Participants will meet via Zoom meeting for a series of six weeknight seminars taking place on Wednesdays between May 27 and July 1 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Participants are expected to attend all sessions and complete 25 to 30-page reading assignments, which they will discuss with a leading conservative thinker.

There is a suggested contribution of $250 in order to cover program costs and to support the non-profit Institute. Click here for more information.

As Many Links as There Are Stars on the Star-Spangled Banner

1. Rich Lowry profiles good coronavirus-fight news that nevertheless results in MSM Trump-Hate. From the piece:

Any government response to a once-in-a-generation crisis is going to be subject to legitimate criticism, and there’s no question that almost every major government in the Western world, including ours, should have acted sooner. But to read the press, there is basically nothing good that the Trump administration has done over the last three months.

This is manifestly false. In a briefing for reporters last week on FEMA’s work securing PPE, FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor laid out the raw numbers: FEMA, HHS, and the private sector have shipped or are currently shipping 92.7 million N95 respirators, 133 million surgical masks, 10.5 million face shields, 42.4 million surgical gowns, and 989 million gloves.

According to Admiral John Polowczyk, head of the supply-chain task force at FEMA, we manufactured roughly 30 million N95 respirators domestically a month before the COVID-19 crisis. He says we are on a path now to ramp up to 180 million N95 respirators a month.

None of this happened by accident. At a time of unprecedented stress on the supply chain and a yawning gap between supply and demand in the market, it required considerable clever improvisation and determined hustle. This was not your average bureaucratic response. It was a partnership between the public and private sector to get supplies to the United States on an urgent basis and ship them to the places that needed them most, and then begin to ramp up manufacturing here at home.

A team around White House adviser Jared Kushner and the supply-chain task force under Admiral Polowczyk worked to fly supplies from overseas to the U.S. quickly, to vet leads for additional PPE (the work of volunteers from the business world mustered by Kushner’s team), and to build a cooperative relationship with 3M, the country’s most important manufacturer of N95 respirators.

The story of what they’ve done is a key part of the administration’s response, even if it has been obscured by a press that has an allergy to anything that has worked.

2. More Rich: He wants to know where media-mugged Florida governor Ron DeSantis goes to get back his reputation. From the piece:

An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freak-out about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”

DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

Perhaps more understandably, The Villages, the iconic senior community, was a focus of media worries. According to DeSantis, as of last weekend there hadn’t been a single resident of The Villages in the hospital for COVID-19 for about a week. At one point, the infection rate in The Villages was so low that state officials were worried that they were missing something. “So I got the University of Florida to do a study,” he says. “They did 1,200 asymptomatic seniors at The Villages, and not one of them came back positive, which was really incredible.”

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data, and trying to learn the lessons of other countries.

3. Kyle Smith runs down the laundry list of Andrew Cuomo’s deadly choices. From the commentary:

In New York, the public is today the victim of Cuomo’s longstanding, bizarre, petty, counterproductive hostility toward his fellow Democrat de Blasio. Though de Blasio publicly stated on March 17 that a shelter-in-place order might be necessary, and said so gingerly so as not to poke the bear, Cuomo fired back that it wasn’t necessary and that only he had the authority to give such an order. Privately he derided de Blasio as offering a scenario more befitting a nuclear apocalypse, according to ProPublica. Five days later, as the virus roared across the state, things had become so bad that Cuomo finally shut down the state, as usual without acknowledging that de Blasio had been correct.

The state and the city continued to work at cross purposes behind closed doors. “The state Health Department broke off routine sharing of information and strategy with its city counterpart in February,” ProPublica reported, citing both a city official and a city employee. “Radio silence,” said the city official. Even today, according to the city employee quoted by ProPublica, the city has difficulty getting basic data such as nursing-home staff counts from the state “It’s like they have been ordered not to talk to us,” the person said.

4. More Kyle: Some websites can writers, their industry colleagues bemoan, but our guy weeps no tears and reminds us — journalists ain’t heroes, so put away the hankies. From the piece:

It could happen to any of us, of course, myself very much included. I readily concede that many if not most if not all of the people laid off by Buzzfeed, Vice, Condé Nast, and (certainly!) The Economist are more talented, harder-working, and better at television/podcasting/pontificating at conferences than I am. The profession of journalism hangs by a thread, and capricious Fates are awfully snippy with the scissors.

Yet journalists are fundamentally misstating what’s going on. Let’s be honest: We’re not heroes. We’re not firefighters. We’re not selfless public servants. Don’t mistake us for a cross-breed of self-flagellating monks and fired-up paramedics. We’re in this game because it’s fun, because of what it does for us, not because we’re saints who defend the defenseless and give a voice to the voiceless. Those of us who are taking down bad guys, digging through court records, and exposing the nefarious doings of men in suits are not doing so primarily to benefit others but because it pleases us. It’s delightful to expose wrongdoing. It gives you the greatest feeling in the world — the glow of self-righteousness. — It wins you awards, it wins you fame, it wins you money. If the public winds up slightly better off, well, that’s a nice added benefit. But picture a world in which crusading journalists are required to work in total anonymity — no bylines, no prizes, no television appearances, no campus speaking tours — and you’re picturing a world in which interest in doing investigative journalism plummets very nearly to zero.

And the group of journalists I’ve described are the tiny minority who come closest to being public servants. The rest of us? City reporters are in it because they love to tear around town. Entertainment reporters are in it because they are beguiled by celebrities and everything they do. Science reporters are fascinated by science, sports reporters are fascinated by sports, gender reporters are fascinated by pronouns. Washington reporters know they can generate national news for 12 hours just by saying something bitchy in a presidential briefing, and if all else fails, they know that millions will mistake them for important people if they gravely intone clichés while standing in front of the White House.

5. Ramesh Ponnuru has the backs of the Little Sisters of the Poor, once again attacked by New York Times abortion-ballyhooing writer Linda Greenhouse. From the piece:

Linda Greenhouse, a longtime legal correspondent and current columnist for the New York Times, is back with a new article opposing the legal claims of the Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s not the first time she has written such an article. It’s not even the first time she has used a pointless metaphor about storytelling to make her case. That’s alright: The case has been dragging on for years, and we’re all running out of new things to say. What’s less excusable is that it’s not the first time Greenhouse has made a simple, easily-checked mistake about the case in the course of accusing other people of misrepresentations.

Back in 2014, Greenhouse maintained that all the Obama administration was asking the Little Sisters to do was submit a “one-page form” noting that it had religious objections to covering employees’ contraception. She declared herself “baffled” that the nuns considered this requirement a violation of their conscience and that all nine justices of the Supreme Court had taken their complaint seriously. Maybe if she had read on to the second page of the “one-page form,” she would have solved the mystery: Page two proclaimed the form to be the “instrument” that triggered the requirement that a third-party administrator provide the coverage. The nuns didn’t want to be forced to take any action, including signing a form, that caused such coverage.

None of this information is a state secret. You can look up the form, as it stood when she wrote in 2014, on Wikipedia. I pointed out Greenhouse’s error at the time

6. More MSM BS: David Harsanyi slaps around GQ for its bogus history of the pro-life movement. From the beginning of the piece:

According to a new documentary, Norma McCorvey, a.k.a. “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, made a deathbed confession that her pro-life conversion and activism was all an act, funded by anti-abortion organizations. I had a few off-the-record conversations with McCorvey over the years, and nothing in those chats felt scripted to me. You can never really know, I suppose. My guess is that McCorvey was a troubled woman, thrown into the middle of one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in history, who shifted her positions in search of public approval.

Whatever the case, her later stances have no bearing on the debate over abortion. The fact that pro-life groups paid McCorvey to speak is not a big revelation nor a big deal. Nor do her vacillating claims tells us anything valuable about the constitutional validity of Roe v. Wade or the morality of dispensing with human life for convenience.

Yet Laura Basset at GQ would have her readers believe that McCorvey’s deathbed admission tells us everything Americans need to know about the pro-life movement.

Basset’s baffling and ahistorical central claim is that pre-Reagan Republicans were pro-abortion because they were racists and post-Reagan Republicans were pro-life also because they were racists — which is quite convenient.

7. More Ponnuru: He doubles down on the GQ pummeling. From the analysis:

Bassett tries to suggest that the pro-life movement originated because white Evangelical Christians were upset about racial desegregation. But her own story undermines the indictment. Desegregation upset Jerry Falwell Sr., she writes. But then she quotes someone else noting that white Evangelicals could not be mobilized based on that issue, and she says that Paul Weyrich tried a number of other issues to get them involved. Abortion worked. In other words, a lot more Evangelicals were fired up to fight abortion than were fired up to defend segregation. That’s supposed to reflect badly on them?

Bassett claims that Ronald Reagan did not genuinely oppose abortion, since he signed a liberalization law as governor of California. “Then as president, he said he regretted that move and suddenly opposed all abortions except to save the life of the mother.” Her chronology is wrong — Reagan had switched positions in public by at least four years before his presidency, and reportedly expressed private regrets a dozen years before it — and makes no sense given the rest of her narrative (which treats the pro-life stance as key to his becoming president in the first place, rather than a sudden post-election development). She provides no evidence for thinking that Reagan was lying when he said he had changed his mind.

8. Australia is taking on Red China. Therese Shaheen says it is critical that the U.S. stand lockstep with its Down Under ally. From the reflection:

China’s bullying and threats toward Australia go deeper than the trading relationship. Just behind beef, barley, and other commodities that Australia exports to China is education. PRC nationals as a percentage of all foreign nationals in Australian universities have doubled to more than 30 percent in the past 20 years. In the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra and surrounding communities, six in ten foreign students are from the PRC.

This influx has created a microcosm of broader tensions within the region in the Xi era on Australian university campuses. Last year during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Australian universities were venues for both Hong Kong–sympathetic demonstrations and counter-protests by pro-Beijing students. Violence requiring police action occurred at several locations, reflecting, as the New York Times put it, the degree to which “Australian universities have come to depend on Chinese donors, students and organizations that are often loyal to Beijing and intolerant of dissent.”

More worrisome is China’s alleged involvement in Australia’s political system. Late last year, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) — the domestic counter-terror, counter-intelligence agency — acknowledged an investigation into allegations from 2018 by a Melbourne car dealer that a businessman with links to Norinco, a Chinese state-owned defense company, offered him $1 million or more to run for Parliament from the suburban Melbourne community of Chisholm. The car dealer, according to press reports, was heavily in debt and was later found dead in a Melbourne hotel room. The man who made the alleged offer denied it, and the circumstances as well as the details of the investigation remain cloudy. But the pattern is one that Western intelligence agencies, including ASIO, take seriously. Certainly, Beijing attempted to undermine the recent presidential election in Taiwan and remains active in influence operations against the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. A Chinese defector to Australia late last year created a stir with his detailed descriptions of PRC activities in Taiwan and Hong; he had participated in operations in both places.

9. Kevin Williamson believes that the coronavirus lockdown may have infected the cause of socialism. From the essay:

We may not yet have a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, but we are well on our way to extracting from that virus a vaccine against a far deadlier plague: socialism, which in the 20th century alone killed more than three times as many people as HIV did in the same time, which has killed about twice as many people as the Black Death killed in the 14th century, and which continues to afflict victims around the world from Cuba to North Korea to Venezuela.

Every way of organizing community life (and that’s what “the economy” is — one important part of community life) brings with it certain advantages, certain disadvantages, and certain risks, and the disruptions caused by the coronavirus epidemic have exposed some of the weaknesses in our way of doing things. Those weaknesses are, as far as the current evidence will show, pretty modest. The low-inventory “just in time” model of production and distribution that characterizes so much of American business saves businesses and their customers money by reducing such carrying costs as warehousing, but it also means that retailers and distributors typically do not have a great deal of product on hand to see them through an interruption in deliveries.

It was, for a minute there, hard to find toilet paper in some places. Because the epidemic has been especially punishing for workers in meat-processing facilities, there have been some local shortages of meat, accompanied by such Captain Obvious headlines as: “Meat shortage prompts price hike.” A price hike is exactly what you want in a shortage. Before you start whining about “price gouging” (“price gouging” is what happens when the ordinary operation of free markets reflects real-world conditions that politicians wish were other than what they are) consider the alternative: the so-called paradox of gasoline in Venezuela.

Gasoline is very cheap in Venezuela. You could buy all you wanted — if you could buy any at all.

The government sets the price of gasoline at almost $0.00 (on paper, about a penny for 26 gallons) and rigorously controls production and distribution of the stuff — and so, of course, it is virtually impossible for an ordinary Venezuelan to legally purchase gasoline. Instead, Venezuelans buy gasoline, if they can buy it at all, on the black market, where they pay some of the highest prices in the world, well over $10 a gallon in a country in which most people earn less than $10 a month. In local terms, the average monthly salary in Venezuela will not pay for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef. In the United States, a month’s work at the minimum wage would buy about 300 pounds of beef; in the United Kingdom, a month’s work at minimum wage would buy more than 600 pounds of beef, as Max de Haldevang runs the numbers in Quartz.

As for our brief toilet-paper drought — Venezuela’s has been going on for a decade. Similar shortages have hit everything from rice to medicine to soap.

10. Dan McLaughlin does a thorough deep-dive into the known facts about Tara Read. From the piece:

Reade’s account would be more credible if she could place the alleged assault in an identifiable location. This was a point of contention in Christine Blasey Ford’s story: She never identified an address or whose house the alleged assault occurred in, or how she got home. This is not necessarily decisive, however, so much as it is a reminder that memories in general are untrustworthy at a distance of a quarter century or more.

The Capitol and Senate building complexes are full of twists and turns and alcove-like places that can be secluded, even during business hours. Senators have their own little hideaway offices, which the NewsHour piece conspicuously ignores. If Reade took the direct route described by Biden staffers, she would not have encountered the kind of alcove she describes. But if we consider that she may have misremembered where the incident took place in the complex, her account is no longer implausible; it is just wrong on one detail. That detail is important, but by itself, it does not settle anything.

When: Reade is able to narrow down the timeframe only to a two-month window in April or May of 1993. Reade says that she was removed from her duties supervising interns after that, and two (unnamed) interns told the New York Times that she abruptly stopped supervising them in April. They knew the date because spring internships on the Hill typically ended at the end of April, and she was removed from supervisory duties before they left. This is the part of her story that is most directly corroborated by other witnesses, albeit anonymous ones.

The date range and corroboration are more specific than anything Blasey Ford offered. In that case, we had nothing to go on but a range of years in the early 1980s. Nonetheless, it still puts Biden in a position similar to that of Kavanaugh: He can’t really be expected to provide an alibi without a more specific time period.

What she wore: Reade says that it was a warm spring day, and she was wearing no stockings due to the heat, and crotchless panties because she was meeting her boyfriend later. Young finds the latter detail odd, though it seems broadly consistent with Reade’s recollection that she was sometimes “told to dress more conservatively” after “she later complained to others in the office that Biden would put his hands on her shoulder, neck, and hair during meetings in ways that made her uncomfortable.” She told Megyn Kelly that Marianne Baker, Biden’s assistant for three decades, specifically instructed her to wear longer skirts and button up her blouses more, but Reade also insists today that there was nothing unusual or objectionable about her regular attire.

11. When it comes to the corruption and criminality behind the Obama administration’s contrived case against General Flynn, and so much related to that, Victor Davis Hanson is naming names and creating categories. From the analysis:

Samantha Power testified to Congress that she could not remember her own requests to the NSA for the identities of more than 300 redacted American names swept up in government surveillance. In response, Congressman Trey Gowdy described her as “the largest unmasker of U.S. persons in our history” — a curious obsession with espionage and intelligence for a U.N. ambassador. Did Power have sudden memory loss while testifying under oath, or was her office a de facto clearinghouse for dozens of lower-level operatives who sought her pro forma signature to allow them to request unmaskings of such redactions? Or was the Harvard-trained lawyer simply lying under oath? Did she assume that no one of her stature who lies to Congress — compare the exemptions given congressional prevaricators such as James Clapper and John Brennan — is ever held to account? Apparently not in Power’s mind, when in March 2018 she warned Donald Trump about the reach even then of former CIA director John Brennan: “Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

James Comey on 245 occasions could not remember or did not know the answer when asked factual questions by the House Intelligence Committee. Did the FBI stickler for memorializing presidential conversations and taking notes nonstop simply have an unplugged moment like Power, or is he suffering some of the same cognitive issues that now challenge Joe Biden?

Robert Mueller on 198 occasions told House members while under oath that he could not answer their questions because he didn’t know, he couldn’t remember, he couldn’t speculate, or he couldn’t get into such matters. He seemed oblivious to the role that the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS had played in the entire collusion mythography — as Congress was left to speculate whether Mueller was either lying or non compos mentis, or a figurehead who knew nothing about the basic facts and nomenclature of his own 22-month investigation.

12. Related: Peter Kirsanow has 20 questions for Barack Obama about his buck-stops-here role in the FBI Follies. From the piece:

On August 15, 2016, Strzok texted page, “I want to believe the path you threw out there in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Since the White House was “running this,” and given the recently released House Intelligence transcripts show your administration’s top officials had no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, what, precisely, constituted the “insurance policy?”

On September 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok, “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Did you tell Page and/or those directing her you wanted to know everything they were doing?

If so, what were you told?

Did they tell you about the “insurance policy”?

The FISA applications? 

The Steele dossier?

13. Joshua Kleinfeld and Rachel Kleinfeld propose a way to have secure elections in November, even with expanded absentee voting. From the proposal:

First, recognize that we risk a Wisconsin-style election debacle if we don’t act. Last month, Wisconsin insisted on going forward with in-person voting in the middle of the pandemic. The result? Turnout in some counties dropped by over 40 percent relative to 2016. Poll workers, who tend to be elderly, stayed home, forcing Milwaukee to close 175 polling locations (leaving just five) and Green Bay to close 29 (leaving just two). That meant absurdly (and dangerously) long lines at the few polling stations that stayed open. Meanwhile, absentee voting spiked by 70 percent compared with the 2016 primary. Since the state wasn’t prepared for the additional million absentee requests it received, thousands of absentee ballots weren’t mailed in time, weren’t counted, or were simply lost in tubs. (One of the illusions in this debate is the notion that absentee versus in-person voting is completely up to politicians. It’s not. Tens of millions of voters already have the legal right to vote absentee at will. Their states just aren’t ready for the numbers they’ll see in November.) Finally, confusing last-minute litigation marred the sense of certainty that elections are supposed to provide.

In the end, Democrats came out ahead, picking up a key state-supreme-court seat. That fact alone should spur Republicans to reconsider whether insisting on in-person voting is good for the party, at least during an election that has liberals fired up and the elderly inclined to stay home. But the larger story in Wisconsin was an election “almost certain to be tarred as illegitimate.” All Wisconsinites lost that day. All Americans will lose if similar dysfunction happens nationwide in November. Legitimacy questions are bad for the country in the best of times. They can be catastrophic during a medical and economic crisis.

Second, realize that this election is a matter of national pride and international power. American elections matter beyond U.S. borders. China and the United States are competing for influence in the world today. Prior phases of the competition were about economic productivity and military might. The present one is about which political system can deal more effectively with a pandemic. The world is watching, and the results could affect the future prospects of democracy itself.

14. C’zar Bernstein defends Constitutional originalism from its new detractors. From the essay:

Correct interpretation, then, consists in discovering what a text originally meant. If this linguistic rule does not suddenly change when legal texts are the object, then one who wishes to interpret them correctly must be open to the possibility that they will not always endorse views with which one morally agrees.

But principled originalism is not merely a thesis about linguistic meaning. It is in addition the view that those charged with interpreting legal texts, including our Constitution, ought to do so in accord with their original meanings, at least in part because the linguistic thesis is true. These two theses are logically distinct. For example, one can consistently acquiesce in the general linguistic theory but for consequentialist reasons believe that judges ought to interpret legal texts to yield good outcomes. So there is a gap between originalism’s linguistic thesis and its moral command, one that originalists must bridge.

One way in which originalists have sought to bridge that gap is called the Oath Theory. Article VI of the Constitution provides that “all . . . judicial Officers . . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution” (emphasis added). According to the Oath Theory, the constitutional oath generates a moral obligation for officeholders to give legal effect to, or abide by, the Constitution’s original meaning. That is of course controversial. What ought not be controversial is that at a minimum, the constitutional oath requires judges to make a faithful attempt to correctly interpret the Constitution and to give correct interpretations legal effect. That is, correct legal interpretation is part of faithfully discharging the duties of the judicial office, and to say that some constitutional provision means what one knows it does not mean is to fail to support this Constitution.

15. Andy McCarthy puts on the hiking boots to lead us through Susan Rice’s famous email, unredacted. From the analysis:

Try not to get dizzy. Rice has gone from claiming to have had no knowledge of Obama administration monitoring of Flynn and other Trump associates, to claiming no knowledge of any unmaskings of Trump associates, to admitting she was complicit in the unmaskings, to — now — a call for the recorded conversation between retired general Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to be released because it would purportedly show that the Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about Flynn (y’know, the guy she said she had no idea they were investigating).

Naturally, we have now learned that Rice was deeply involved in the Obama administration’s Trump–Russia investigation, including its sub-investigation of Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate who was slated to replace Rice as national-security advisor when President Trump took office. Last night, I did a column for Fox News, analyzing the newly unredacted paragraph from Rice’s previously reported email memorializing a White House meeting on these subjects.

The meeting took place on January 5, 2017, and involved Rice, Obama, and Vice President Biden, the administration’s top political hierarchy on national-security matters, along with Obama’s top law-enforcement and counterintelligence officials, deputy attorney general Sally Yates (soon formally to take the acting AG role she was already performing), and FBI director James Comey. Prior redactions had already demonstrated that the meeting’s central purpose was to discuss the rationale for withholding intelligence about Russia from the incoming Trump national-security team.

Lights. Camera. Action!

1. Armond White takes on two Obama-pandering displays. From the review:

Booksmart, the critically acclaimed girl-power comedy, featured the most egregious high-school commencement speech ever sponsored by mainstream media until former president Barack Obama’s spiel on last weekend’s all-network broadcast Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.

Both the film and the telecast are products of media indoctrination, the none-too-subtle political programming that eludes notice — and alarm — by posing as cultural remedies. Graduate Together, a one-hour spectacle, pieced together shelter-in-place videos of teens whose high-school commencement exercises were cancelled because of the COVID-19 restrictions. And the teen flick Booksmart pandered to the same adolescent group-think, using comedy tropes familiar from Animal House, Porky’s, American Pie, and Superbad.

This style of coercion results from new marketing cynicism. Pretending to console students for missing out on what Obama listed as “proms, senior nights, graduation ceremonies, and, let’s face it, a whole bunch of parties,” Graduate Together used the media’s stock methods of flattery and condescension, turning isolated web-cam and video-conference teens into temporary celebrities alongside actual showbiz and sports celebrities, going for that uniquely Millennial feeling of solidarity: instant fame.

Trouble is, that false sense of community (you too can be a Jonas Brother or one of Broadway’s lesser-known Platt brothers) is predicated on thinking alike, sharing the same political perspectives that are relentlessly propagated by movies, TV shows, and media events that push a rote liberal agenda.

Graduate Together made this dread fact unavoidable as its faux celebrations led up to Obama’s climactic smiley appearance as the ultimate commencement celebrity speechifier. Obama was billed as if he was still the actual, functioning president of the United States.

2. More Armond: He is liking Josh Trank’s Capone. From the review:

In his extraordinary 2012 debut Chronicle, Trank played out the dangerous extremes of youthful zeal in dreamlike genre tropes from sci-fi to monster flicks. (Hormonal excess and spiritual confusion was the subtext.) His follow-up, Fantastic Four, was awkwardly told and less poetic; its failure was a setback, although its major fault was that the poignant Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) subplot simply came before the Black Panther sensation.

In Capone, Trank takes on the gangster-movie vogue. He forces Capone himself and generations of his admirers entranced by such movies as The Godfather, Scarface, even TV’s The Sopranos, into unexpected moral confrontation. Karma hits the killer-bootlegger with a vengeance: Haunted by regrets, he can’t control his bodily functions, and the family hanging on at his palatial Florida estate live like deposed royalty in exile.

The hip-hop generation, which took gangster movies to heart, channeling their crack- and Reagan-era social frustration, identified with revenge and bravado but was not big on consequences. Scarface’s explosive finale worked aberrantly and was enjoyed for its explosive self-destruction, like Cagney in White Heat, while the increasingly secularized culture rejected the ethnic and ethical reckoning of The Godfather, Part III. TV’s The Sopranos came along to confirm this moral abandonment. Decadent hipster Luca Guadagnino has just announced that Scarface will be his next remake; luckily, Capone is streaming at the same time.

Podcastapalooza

1. Kudos to John J. Miller, who records Episode 300 of The Bookmonger, interviewing Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash to discuss his book, The Living Presidency. Listen here.

2. More JJM: On The Great Books, Dedra “Mrs. BB” Birzer joins John to discuss J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Listen here.

3. The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast may have a nitwit cohost, but the show’s star overcame the prattle this week and discussed how the “best and brightest” have destroyed evidence, altered documents, lied, leaked, and pled amnesia; the inspirational lessons an America emerging from a pandemic lockdown might take from WWII; woke billionaires lecturing; how America cares for the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice; and about his dad and his namesake — two WWII warriors who endured hell, one of whom lost his life on Okinawa. Listen here.

4. And in a special Memorial Day Weekend edition of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, guest co-host Rich Lowry talks warfare, battles, and generals with the esteemed military historian, VDH. Listen here.

5. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss Trump’s statement that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, and who is right when it comes to wearing a mask. You gotta listen, and can do that here.

6. And then on a special edition of The Editors, Rich and David Bahnsen discuss the state of the economy, unemployment, and how he thinks the U.S. will emerge from this crisis. Catch it here.

7. At Radio Free California, Will and David confirm that Elon Musk’s battle with regulators reveals everything about the late, great state of California. Hear here.

8. On the new episode of Political Beats, Scot and Jeff discuss Crowded House with Notre Dame Law prof Jeff Pojanowski. Get in the groove here.

9. On the new episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Charlie and Kevin discuss musical genius. Tune in here.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin says that it’s time to ditch and replace WHO. From the piece:

China’s deliberate attempts to obfuscate the origins of the pandemic has provoked an outcry, with a number of nations, such as the U.S. and Australia, calling for a truly independent international inquiry to be held into how the pandemic started, as well as China’s lack of transparency in alerting the rest of the world to the potential impact of Covid-19.

A total of 122 countries, including the U.S. and most European governments, have given their backing to an Australian proposal to set up an impartial, independent and comprehensive investigation into the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. But the move has been bitterly opposed by Beijing, which claims the initiative is nothing more than a “political manoeuvre”. The Chinese are particularly incensed by the lead role Australia has taken in orchestrating calls for an independent inquiry, and have responded by banning imports of Australian beef.

Mr Xi’s offer, therefore, to support an inquiry by the WHO into the pandemic amounts to little more than yet another attempt by China’s communist rulers to avoid proper scrutiny about Beijing’s culpability for spreading Covid-19 throughout the rest of the globe.

The only problem for Mr Xi and his communist comrades is that the WHO, through its slavish devotion to Beijing, now finds itself hopelessly compromised by its close association with China’s leadership, with the result that no one beyond the confines of Beijing believes the organisation has the credibility to undertake an investigation that is truly independent.

This is certainly the view of the Trump administration, which has responded to the WHO’s total failure to hold Beijing to account for causing the global pandemic by threatening to withdraw its support from the organisation altogether.

2. In the new issue of Modern Age, Daniel McCarthy takes on a society of scolds, and the progeny of Thomas Hobbes. From the beginning of the essay:

Fear was a natural enough response to the arrival of the coronavirus on America’s shores. The novel virus from Wuhan is highly infectious and had already caused thousands of deaths in China and Italy by the time hotspots of infection began to appear here. What was remarkable, however, was not that Americans were alarmed to the point of panic-hoarding toilet paper, or that officials responded with such sweeping policies as “shelter in place” orders, but that activists on social media reacted with fury toward anyone who failed to be fearful enough—anyone who, for example, questioned the wisdom of shutting down the consumer economy virtually overnight, with predictably dire consequences for the millions of cooks, waiters, drivers, bartenders, retail clerks, hotel workers, and others who do not enjoy the luxury of being able to work from home.

A clash over policies and the trade-offs involved would be one thing, and, given the stakes, such a clash would inevitably involve powerful emotions. But even where there were minimal policy differences, those who were deemed by social media activists to be insufficiently affrighted were subjected to vitriolic hostility—standing accused of callousness or rank stupidity, a deficiency in morals or intelligence or both. Being a good person came to mean not just staying indoors and washing your hands and doing everything necessary to minimize your chances of catching the virus or infecting others, but also following self-appointed opinion leaders up to the right pitch of anxiety. Nothing practical depended on doing so, but something of the highest importance for social psychology did.

The professional opinion media played its role in all of this. An illustrative example was the reception that met R. R. Reno’s essay “Say ‘No’ to Death’s Dominion,” published on March 20 in First Things. Reno, the magazine’s editor, asked whether the concern for minimizing the risk to life at the cost of all else was not a form of “disastrous sentimentalism”: “Everything for the sake of physical life? What about justice, beauty, and honor? There are many things more precious than life,” he wrote. And for that he was pilloried by right-thinking persons in the mainstream media and in much of the Christian and conservative press, too. Bare life, and not life in the service of any higher ideal, was the supreme object, and death the greatest evil imaginable.

There was a philosopher once who placed fear and death at the heart of the social order. His name, of course, was Thomas Hobbes. The commentators and activists who police our attitudes toward fear and death today are not his disciples, but they are his children. Their liberalism—including in the case of many who identify as conservatives but identify their conservatism as “classical liberalism”—is conditioned and made possible by his philosophy, rebellious though they may be against the harsh truths of their father. Though liberalism explicitly prizes any number of lovely ideals, from freedom and equality to dignity and self-determination, at root it is an ideology of negation: “freedom from,” whether freedom from political control, from religious authority, or from fear itself. And the sort of character that would disregard death, and is moved by feelings stronger than fear, has to be negated before liberalism becomes possible. Hobbes tried to achieve that negation through a revolutionary philosophical framework, and liberalism today thrives only in his system’s shadow.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, the inestimable Bradley Birzer looks at the history of the First and Second Banks of the U.S., and their roles in creating America’s political parties. From the analysis:

When President Washington approved the chartering of the Bank for twenty years, it immediately (again, for better or worse) created debt on which private banks could borrow and it also put the United States—at least on paper—on par with other great powers in the world who also relied upon debt and financial manipulation. Of the twenty-five governors, only five would come from the U.S. government, with the rest coming from private industry. The United States enjoyed immense prosperity during the years of the First Bank, but its prosperity—fueled by trade with warring Britain and France—might very well have been in spite of the Bank rather than because of the Bank.

The First Bank, however, influenced much more than mere economics, and many scholars believe that divisions caused by the Bank—whether the constitution should be interpreted broadly or strictly—led to the creation of the first real political divisions in the country.

When the First Bank expired in 1811, interestingly enough, no one seriously considered re-chartering it.

In the overwhelming rush of post-war nationalism, however, President Madison in 1816 wanted a Second Bank of the United States. From its opening moments, the Second Bank of the United States (SUSB) was a disaster for the country, economically and politically. Even Madison’s appointment of William Jones as the first president of the SUSB was pathetic, as Jones had been Madison’s Secretary of the Navy and a failed businessman. The appointment had been a mere political favor, and Jones had absolutely no clue how to run a bank. Worse, Jones was corrupt, and he used his position as president of the Bank to increase the wealth and prestige of his friends. The Bank quickly became an efficient means to shift wealth from the political nobodies to the politically-endowed. Hoping to avoid too much criticism—especially for the obvious political corruption—the Bank offered easy loans on easy credit, and, as a consequence, initiated one of the greatest eras of debt (proportionately) in the U.S. In 1815, for example, a year prior to the Bank’s creation, there was only $3 million in debt on the purchase of public lands. Two years after the creation of the SUSB, public debt on public lands stood at $17 million, and it reached $22 million a year later, in 1819. The number of banks—fueled by easy credit—expanded rapidly as well. In 1816, the year the SUSB came into existence, there were 246 banks in the U.S. Three years later, in 1819, there were 400. A committee of the Pennsylvania legislature reported: “The plenty of money, as it was called, was so profuse, that the managers of banks were fearful that they could not find a demand for all they could fabricate, and it was no infrequent occurrence to hear solicitations urged to individuals to become borrowers, under promises of indulgences the most tempting.”

4. How the vulnerable were hung out to dry, and die. At The Hill, Red Jahnke tells the ugly story. From the piece:

What leaps to mind is that, in trying to protect everyone, we left the highly vulnerable few tragically exposed. A central precept of medicine in the context of scarce resources is triage. God knows, we had scarce resources as the pandemic broke out. When everyone can’t be saved, triage means focusing policy, effort and resources in a manner designed to maximize survivors — in the case of this virus, to protect those most clearly vulnerable.

The economic fallout of the shutdown has been catastrophic: more than 36 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. The unemployment rate has hit 14.7 percent, and is expected to exceed 20 percent. GDP has collapsed, falling by 4.6 percent in the first quarter, which included only two weeks of the shutdown; economists project a 30 percent GDP drop in the second quarter. We have added $3 trillion to our national debt just in the fiscal “stimulus” already dispensed. The Federal Reserve Bank has extended about $2.3 trillion in monetary support, even before launching several planned new programs. Income tax revenues will evaporate as businesses sustain losses and many individuals suffer massive declines in income.

In contrast, a targeted approach would not have required such a costly economic shutdown, quite simply because it would have focused almost exclusively upon people of retirement age.

There’s a pernicious canard circulating that focusing on the economy is “putting money before lives.” Does anyone seriously believe that these apocalyptic numbers do not spell extreme pain and decreased life expectancy for the vast majority of Americans?

5. At The College Fix, Christian Schneider squeals on the memo about school administrators trying to keep their Red China ties on the down low. From the article:

Attorneys for universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education are trying to block Congress from obtaining records that detail the schools’ ties with China, according to a May 19 letter exclusively obtained by The College Fix.

The letter, written by the Education Department’s General Counsel Reed Rubinstein, tells lawmakers who requested the documents that the universities’ lawyers “claimed Freedom of Information Act exemptions and legal privileges to block record production to Congress.”

Rubinstein wrote that some schools may be overly aggressive in marking some documents “confidential” or “privileged.”

Nevertheless, he added, staff will contact each school under investigation and let them know which records will be provided to Congress. To block a document being handed over, an objecting school “must provide written specification of the records designated for withholding and specific supporting legal grounds,” the letter states.

The letter does not explicitly state which schools lobbied the department to keep their records confidential.

Rubinstein’s memo is a response to a May 4 letter from several top House Republicans asking the Education Department to turn over documents on all findings or reports detailing gifts from China to U.S. colleges and universities, citing China’s infiltration of the American higher education system and concerns over theft, spying and propaganda.

6. At Law & Liberty, F. H. Buckley says there is more to life than rule-following. From the piece:

Finally, my problem with natural law is a problem with law itself. That’s not to say that laws don’t matter. They’re the first cut at a moral answer, and in many cases that’s all you need. “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t admit of too many exceptions. But rules are not enough. We might think that we’ve followed all the rules, but still wonder whether something more is wanted of us. The moral life is more than the rule-driven life.

Lawyers understand the limits of rules from their efforts at drafting long-term contracts. The goal in such cases is to assign rights and responsibilities for everything that might happen thereafter, and the problem is that this is impossible. A perfectly specified contract would tell the parties what to do in every conceivable future state of the world, completely covering every possible contingency. But there are just too many things that might happen. A “complete contingent contract” can never be written, and the best one can hope for is that, when the unexpected happens, we’ll find a good judge who’ll interpret the contract the way the parties would have written it had they addressed their minds to the possibility.

A complete contingent set of moral rules isn’t feasible either. Too many things can happen for anyone to prescribe what to do in each of the countless possible future worlds. That’s what Christ taught, in His answer to the rich young man in the Synoptic Gospels. The young man said he had followed all the commandments and wondered if anything more was required of him. Indeed yes, said Christ. If you want to be perfect, sell all you own and give to the poor, then come and follow Me. No wonder the disciples were dismayed. Who then can be saved, they wondered? (The answer is no one, absent grace.)

BONUS L&L: Lee Edwards makes the case for capitalism. From the essay:

Millennials urgently need some remedial history to fill the gaps left in their education. Many young Americans sympathetic to socialism mistakenly believe that capitalism is a relatively modern concept, first seriously examined in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, published in 1867. However, as the Harvard historian Richard Pipes wrote, private property—an essential ingredient of capitalism—has been an integral part of Western civilization since ancient Athens, which had “a highly developed system of private property.”

In the Politics, Aristotle accepted private property as inevitable and “ultimately a positive force,” asserting that people who hold things in common tend to quarrel more than those who hold them individually. Thomas Aquinas, the most influential theologian of the Middle Ages, emphasized that possession of private property was not just lawful but necessary for peace and order: “Quarrels arise more frequently where there is no division of things possessed.”

In 1776, two documents were published that shaped America and the rest of the world. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith analyzed how a market system can combine the freedom of individuals to pursue their own objectives with the widespread cooperation needed to produce “our food, our clothing, [and] our housing.” Smith described how an individual who “intends only his own gain” is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention….[B]y pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually.”

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, states that all men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As the political historian Matthew Spalding wrote, the founders understood that life, liberty, and property were closely connected, as expressed in the 1780 Massachusetts Bill of Rights:

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberty; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Baseballery

Back in the day, before the practice was hijacked by the MLB, the august Sporting News gave annual “Comeback Player of the Year” awards to the AL and NL players who had, well, come back. There must be something to come back from — depths, which would have been preceded by heights.

It would be harder to get to deeper depths than had Oakland Athletics righthander Matt Keough in 1979. His early years fated him to be with a dismal As squad, which lost an average 100 games in his first three seasons. In Keough’s rookie 1978 campaign, he was the As sole representative to the AL All-Star team, having put together a 6–4 record, with a 2.16 ERA, come the mid-season break.

That was the height. Then came the plunge: For the remainder of 1978, Keough went 2–11, with a season ERA of 3.24.

But further depths were waiting. In 1979, Keough had one of the worst-ever seasons of any MLB pitcher (since, in fact, the 1916 Athletics duo of Tom Sheehan and Jack Nabors, who — as discussed in our recent Leap Year edition of the WJ — chalked up respective records of 1–16 and 1–20). In Keough’s first 25 sophomore-year appearances — 23 of which were starts — his Win–Loss numbers stood at 0–14, the worst-ever start of any pitcher in modern MLB history. Keough’s first victory came on September 5, 1979, in a complete-game 6–1 triumph over the Milwaukee Brewers. He’d end the season with a gruesome 2–17 record.

With Oakland under new leadership in 1980 — Billy Martin began his post-Yankees term at the helm of Athletics — an inspired Keough went 16–13, with a 2.92 ERA and 20 complete games. It was a legitimate comeback, and the Sporting News award was clearly deserved. Keough would hurl through 1986, pitching for the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, and Astros. His career record was 58–84 with a 4.17 ERA.

Rest in Peace: Keough died earlier this month at the age of 64. He is survived by his dad, Marty Keough, an outfielder and first baseman who played for the Red Sox, Indians, Senators, Reds, Braves, and Cubs from 1956–1966.

We Remember this Weekend: Eddie Grant, who was killed in the Argonne Forest while leading his men searching for the Lost Battalion.

A Dios

At the conclusion of the Memorial Day parade in the old neighborhood, at the monument at the corner of Oneida Avenue and Van Cortland Parkway, an elderly man — sadly, his name is lost in the fog — would sing My Buddy (made famous by Bing Crosby, but this short version by Ray Charles tugs the heartstrings). Some would softly join him, and others tear up. The melancholy was lost on the Little Boy. Lost too: that in the crowd were siblings of a brother who breathed his last in the hills of Korea, a mother whose son had been cut down in the hedgerows of France, that there remained for many a piercing sorrow that had to be endured for decades. We take hope in this: that grief will be dissolved in the Kingdom of Heaven, when the fallen and honorable dead are whole, and will embrace those left behind. Let us pray this weekend for their souls, and if you seek fitting words, this is recommended:

Loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace.
Let the sounds of strife, the cries of battle, the wounds of war
be calmed for all eternity in Your loving and endless grace.
Let these great warriors find rest at last,
Ever reminded that we who are left behind
Cherish their spirit, honor their commitment,
Send them our love,
And will never forget the service that they gave.

The Ancient of Days’ Enduring Graces Be Upon You and All Those Your Love,

Jack Fowler, who can be emailed at jfowler@nationalreview.com, and followed on Twitter at twitter.com/JackFowler.

National Review

Welcome Sulfur Dioxide, Hello Carbon Monoxide

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

Before too long an uber-woke, granola-and-hemp aficionado, emerging from the throes of a prolonged ecstasy occurring deep inside the recycled-material interior of her off-the-grid tiny house, weeping bulbous tears of joy on her vegan-nourished pure-bred retriever, swooning with glee over humanity’s deserved abuse at the hands of a pathogen, will milk her schadenfreude and write an essay for The Atlantic extolling the 37 climate benefits of this glorious pandemic, then setting off a Twitter barrage in the midst of which one will find this tweet: “Benefit Number 17: By suppressing the greedy capitalist economy, we garaged the world’s CO2-spewing cars and planes and trucks and made the air CLEAN AND BREATHABLE! #GoGreen #PandemicUpside #ItsOurAir #MakeMineACorona”

You’ve surely already heard that claim, and surely also wondered — this is just another case of liberal smog, n’est-ce pas? Oh, my good conservative friend, do trust those instincts of yours — they’re so correct! And if you need some facts to back them up, well, there is a Todd Myers piece calling bull-doodles. Breathe deep from the wisdom NRO provides! Catch a big whiff:

In my hometown of Seattle, one environmental activist told the local paper that people can “physically see that difference in the cleaner air.” The air-quality data tell a different story.

According to the EPA’s air-quality monitors, levels of particulate matter — known as PM 2.5 — are not lower now and have, in fact, been higher recently than the median level of the last five years. Consisting of particles smaller than 2.5 microns, PM 2.5 includes natural sources such as smoke or sea salt, as well as human-caused pollution from combustion.

In Philadelphia, a city health commissioner said, “I would expect our air pollution levels will probably go down because the number of vehicles in the streets are less.” Recent particulate-matter levels, however, have been close to the five-year average.

In Dallas, the levels of PM 2.5 are higher than average. In Boston, they are slightly lower.

This counterintuitive result could be due to a number of influences, including weather. The key factor, however, is that in most places, human-caused pollution is small relative to natural sources. Even a significant reduction in the human contribution makes only a small difference.

So, why do so many activists claim the air is ‘physically cleaner’ in the United States?

Do consider reading the entire piece while listening to “Air” from Hair.

Meanwhile, the skies of jurisprudence were polluted this week by federal judge Emmett Sullivan, heck-bent to render unconstitutional diktats in order to keep the case against General Michael Flynn festering. More below.

In fact, much more below! Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy Jolt!

Editorials

1. In Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, we urge SCOTUS to stand by chromosomes and biology. From the editorial:

In October, the court heard oral arguments from the ACLU that Aimee Stephens, formerly Anthony, who had worked for six years at a funeral home in Detroit area, had been discriminated against on the basis of “sex,” prohibited under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Representing the funeral home, attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom argued that Stephens had not been unfairly discriminated against, but rather was fired for refusing to comply with the company’s sex-specific dress code.

The funeral home has the stronger case. There can be no dispute that, in 1964, the original public meaning of “sex” was anatomical and biological. Senator John Tower, who opposed the Act, stated the following during Senate debate on the topic of definitions at the time: “These terms are not defined. The term ‘sex’ is not defined, but I believe we can probably reason that that means an applicant is a man or a woman.” It is difficult to believe that the prohibition on discrimination “on the basis of sex” extended to the kinds of differentiation between the sexes that remain standard practice in millions of workplaces (e.g. separate restrooms and dress codes). Nevertheless, activists in originalists’ clothing, the ACLU attorneys have adopted a twofold strategy of sophistry, using “sex” interchangeably with “gender identity,” and kicking up dust with a secondary argument regarding sex “stereotyping.”

Boiled down, the ACLU’s argument goes like this: “But for” the fact that Stephens was born male, Stephens would not have been fired for adopting the female dress code. Surely, the correct comparator here is not a female employee fired for keeping the female dress code, but a female employee fired for breaking the female dress code. The funeral home’s justification for firing Stephens was simply that Stephens, a male employee, ought to have dressed like other male employees. As for stereotyping, as the feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), wrote in its amicus brief in support of the funeral home, “Stephens’ desire to wear clothing designed for women out of a desire to ‘live. . . as a woman’ [is] simply an enshrinement of the discredited . . . sex-based stereotypes, which Title VII. . . . intended to abolish.”

If You Wanted Only a Dozen NRO Links, You Will Be Sorely Disappointed, Because, Bubs and Bubstresses, We’ve Got 20 Coming at You

1. Everything you wanted to know about Judge Sullivan’s wildly partisan decision, but were afraid to ask, courtesy of the expertise of Andrew C. McCarthy. From the analysis:

There is no complex legal issue to be resolved. DOJ’s dismissal motion may be politically controversial, but legally it is pro forma. The only branch of government constitutionally authorized to proceed with a criminal prosecution is the executive. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute. There is nothing for the judge to do besides the ministerial task of ending the case on the court’s records.

Lest we forget, the primary function of the federal judiciary is to protect the accused from overbearing government action, not to agitate for the prosecution of Americans. Even if he’s convinced Flynn is as guilty as the day is long, one might expect Judge Sullivan to be disturbed by the FBI’s perjury trap, by its editing of and misrepresentations about the “302 report” of Flynn’s interview. By the prosecution’s withholding of exculpatory evidence and concealment from the court of its threat to prosecute Flynn’s son. By the derelictions of Flynn’s original counsel, who took the case notwithstanding a deep conflict-of-interest, and who appear to have counseled Flynn to plead guilty without ever reviewing rudimentary discovery — we know they never inspected the 302 (which is mind-boggling in a false-statements case); did they ever demand that Mueller’s prosecutors produce the recording of the Flynn–Kislyak “sanctions” conversation that is the heart of the case?

Those are the kinds of questions a responsible judge would be posing, not, “How do I sentence this guy if DOJ won’t prosecute?” Regardless of what the DNC and CNN have to say on the matter, Flynn is supposed to be presumed innocent as far as Judge Sullivan is concerned.

2. Yes indeed, says David Harsanyi, the Obama administration was engaged in serious corruption. From the commentary:

Democrats and their allies, who like to pretend that President Obama’s only scandalous act was wearing a tan suit, are going spend the next few months gaslighting the public by focusing on the most feverish accusations against Obama. But the fact is that we already have more compelling evidence that the Obama administration engaged in misconduct than we ever did for opening the Russian-collusion investigation.

It is not conspiracy-mongering to note that the investigation into Trump was predicated on an opposition-research document filled with fabulism and, most likely, Russian disinformation. We know the DOJ withheld contradictory evidence when it began spying on those in Trump’s orbit. We have proof that many of the relevant FISA-warrant applications — almost every one of them, actually — were based on “fabricated” evidence or riddled with errors. We know that members of the Obama administration, who had no genuine role in counterintelligence operations, repeatedly unmasked Trump’s allies. And we now know that, despite a dearth of evidence, the FBI railroaded Michael Flynn into a guilty plea so it could keep the investigation going.

What’s more, the larger context only makes all of these facts more damning. By 2016, the Obama administration’s intelligence community had normalized domestic spying. Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, famously lied about snooping on American citizens to Congress. His CIA director, John Brennan, oversaw an agency that felt comfortable spying on the Senate, with at least five of his underlings breaking into congressional computer files. His attorney general, Eric Holder, invoked the Espionage Act to spy on a Fox News journalist, shopping his case to three judges until he found one who let him name the reporter as a co-conspirator. The Obama administration also spied on Associated Press reporters, which the news organization called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” And though it’s been long forgotten, Obama officials were caught monitoring the conversations of members of Congress who opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

3. For a while, it seemed like a New York governor would have a doctor arrested if he didn’t admit an elderly coronavirus-sufferer to infect a nursing home. Victor Davis Hanson considers the strange case of Andrew Cuomo . . . and Brother Christopher. From the piece:

Much like today, the virus not only sickened the civilian population but also ravaged the U.S. servicemen, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack. During the Battle of New York City in 1776, the smallpox epidemic grew so dire that Commander-in-Chief George Washington described it as more dangerous than “the Sword of the Enemy.” And he was correct — for every soldier killed in battle, an estimated ten others died from disease.

Also like today, there were concerns that adversaries might use disease against us. The British intentionally sent infected prisoners back to American communities to spread the scourge. In fact, one British officer recommended, “Dip arrows in matter of smallpox and twang them at the American rebels.” (Guns and bullets were almost universal at this point; this measure was intended specifically to injure and infect.) Whether actively spreading the virus or merely taking advantage of its natural spread, Washington’s enemies sought to leverage America’s weakened state.

Despite being centuries of technological advancement behind us, our first commander-in-chief’s approach to the epidemic parallels today’s: Washington first moved to seal off his troops from foreign entrants, then he checked for symptoms within his camp and quarantined anyone suspected of being infected.

In the end, however, the quarantines proved difficult to enforce and ultimately unable to stop the spread, so inoculation emerged as the only real solution. But Washington faced fierce opposition. Inoculation was a grotesque procedure that involved first scratching the patient’s arm and inserting pus from a smallpox victim into the healthy person’s wound. This would cause the patient to contract a case far milder than if he were to inhale the virus or otherwise catch it more naturally. But he would enjoy lasting immunity.

4. Zachary Evans reports on the bipartisan effort of College Republicans and Democrats to call for the end of ChiCom-funded Confucius institutes polluting many an American college campus. From the article:

In its first official act, the Athenai Institute released a letter on Wednesday calling for the closure of Confucius institutes at U.S. colleges and universities, as well as for “full and public disclosure of all ties, both financial and academic, between centers of higher learning and all Chinese state agencies and proxies.”

The letter has been signed by the leadership of both the College Republican National Committee and the College Democrats of America, as well as numerous human rights groups committed to protecting Uighur and Tibetan minorities from persecution in China.

“The Chinese government’s flagrant attempts to coerce and control discourse at universities in the United States and around the world pose an existential threat to academic freedom as we know it. It is a civic and moral imperative that we protect that freedom,” the letter states. “In the fight against authoritarianism, universities can continue to benefit from the largesse of an emboldened authoritarian state, or they can stand on the right side of history. They cannot do both.”

China has funded Confucius institutes at universities throughout the world, ostensibly to promote knowledge of Chinese language and culture. However, U.S. officials have warned that the institutes essentially serve as propaganda outlets.

5. Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes have a few questions for Qui Tiankai, Red China’s disinformation-spreading Ambassador to the U.S. From the piece:

Why has China, to date, refused international requests, including from the WHO, to undertake on-site investigations into the origin of the virus?

The Wuhan lockdown was declared on January 23, and Wuhan residents were prohibited from traveling to other parts of China. Why were many thousands still allowed to travel to other countries?

Xu Zhiyong, Chen Qiushi, Fangbin, and Li Zehua are journalists, activists, and businesspeople. All have disappeared after their critical reporting about responses to COVID-19. Is your government investigating these disappearances? Why are state authorities investigating tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, who raised legitimate questions about how COVID-19 has been handled? Why has scholar Xu Zhang Run, whose concerns have been aired in this publication, been silenced? Was Dr. Ai Fen pressured by authorities after her reports on COVID-19?

6. Congressman Mike Gallagher wants the U.S. to have Taiwan’s back. From the piece:

It’s hard to have a more high-quality friend than Taiwan — a vibrant democracy under intense pressure that deserves our full support.

Unfortunately, support for Taiwan has been inconsistent. Unlike NATO’s crystal-clear Article V collective-defense commitment, the U.S. commitment to Taiwan has been muddled. Since the Carter administration, the United States has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity.” Once upon a time, proponents of this strategy may have told themselves that they were calming tensions by deterring both sides from precipitous action: Beijing could not count on our restraint if they opted for invasion, while Taipei could not count on our support if they declared independence.

Yet while Taiwan has embraced restrained, responsible statecraft, Beijing has poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, used economic leverage to punish Taipei, and engaged in dangerous military provocations with growing frequency. At a broader level, the cross-strait balance of power has shifted in Beijing’s favor thanks to a rapid rise in military spending, and General Secretary Xi Jinping has made clear his intent to annex Taiwan by whatever means necessary. The Chinese military threat to Taiwan is no longer a long-term hypothetical scenario. Rather, it is a dangerous course of action that gets more likely the less we stand up to CCP aggression.

7. There’s nothing heroic about Nancy Pelosi’s latest multi-trillion-dollar pandemic-relief bill, says Kevin Williamson. From the analysis:

The so-called HEROES Act — and, please, please, please, can we finally stop with the sophomoric acronyms? — is another wish list from the House Democrats. It contains the usual Democratic wish-list items, one of the more expensive of which is a proposal to shunt vast streams of federal revenue into badly managed states and cities in order to buy them out of their self-inflicted financial troubles. More than $1 trillion of the $3 trillion package would be in the form of aid to state and local governments, with almost all of that money — $915 billion of it — in unrestricted cash. This will be a great boon to states and cities (largely but not exclusively Democratic) that have hamstrung themselves financially by promising government workers fat pensions and retirement benefits without actually spending the money necessary to fund those programs. States and cities generally cannot go into debt to finance regular operating expenses such as salaries (they do borrow money for infrastructure projects and the like), but they can effectively borrow from their pension systems by promising benefits in the future but using the cash today for other purposes.

That creates real problems. But those problems have almost nothing to do with the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent economic shutdown. The cities and states have taken on some extra expenses during the public-health emergency, but the biggest effect on their finances will come from lost revenue. There is a case to be made (a reasonable one if not a completely persuasive one) for helping cities and states backfill some of that lost revenue in these extraordinary times, though leaders in states with more responsibly managed finances and well-maintained rainy-day funds object to subsidizing their spendthrift neighbors. That’s a question of “fairness,” which, in politics, means . . . whatever anybody wants it to mean.

The basic problem is financial, not ethical. Many states already are spending more on their retirees than they are on current priorities such as higher education. So out of whack are the state pension systems that the Pew Trusts estimated their 2018 liabilities at more than $1.5 trillion. That doesn’t mean that $1.5 trillion would solve the states’ pension problems — it means that $1.5 trillion would get them to the point where their pension systems are broke rather than laboring under $1.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Even with those liabilities gone, the states would be required to continue to make ongoing pension contributions that are heavy today and only getting heavier. The question is: How much do you want to shortchange today’s first-graders and college freshmen in the service of tomorrow’s retired DMV clerks? Round your answer to the nearest trillion dollars.

8. Madeleine Kearns looks at the Connecticut trans athletes’ lawsuit and sees a need for chromosomal honesty. From the beginning of the piece:

In the latest installment of our dystopian black comedy, Biological Sex v. Gender Identity, using the scientifically accurate term “males” to refer to boys who “identify” as girls is enough to land you in contempt of court.

District Judge Robert Chatigny, during an April 16 conference call, chastised the attorneys who are contesting Connecticut’s transgender sports policy on behalf of three female high-school athletes. During the call, as reported first by National Review’s Jack Crowe, who obtained a transcript, Chatigny said that using the term “male” to refer to — well, male athletes — was “very provocative,” tantamount to “bullying.” Thereafter, in his court, it would be unacceptable, he warned.

Never mind that the two transgender athletes in question were born male and lived unambiguously as such until several years ago, when, in their late teens, they began socially “identifying” as females and competing with girls. Enabled by their state’s athletic conference, the pair have, between them, claimed 15 women’s state-championship titles and deprived countless more girls of the opportunity to participate in races and compete for scholarships.

How can you parse such blatant injustice? How can you view perpetrators as the victims? The only way to do this is to believe, as the ACLU attorneys claim to believe, that the boys — declaring themselves to be female — are female. In this instance, the person they are required to convince is not the average American, but the presiding judge. Luckily for them, he has already decided in their favor.

9. The cold facts, as Jerry Hendrix explains them, all make the case for why the U.S. Navy must keep the Arctic Sea open. From the beginning of the piece:

Last week, the United States Navy sent ships into the Barents Sea for the first time since 2010. The U.S. Naval Forces Europe announced that the exercise was intended “to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies.” This was a good first step. But four ships operating in an ice-free Barents Sea will not reverse the decades of neglect and lack of investment in the types of ships necessary for the United States to protect its interests and those of its allies in the Arctic region. Currently, its lack of investment in icebreakers and other types of ships that can operate consistently and safely in ice-laden seas is freezing the U.S. out of conversations about the Arctic Ocean. This lack of investment has translated into U.S. diplomatic and military reluctance to push back against Russia’s expanded maritime Arctic claims. As a result, the historic principle of mare liberum (freedom of the seas) — a bedrock of international norms since the Dutch jurist Grotius conceived it — may yield to a maritime “Iron Curtain,” as Russia restricts who and what can travel through its near waters. To reverse this trend, the U.S. must immediately begin conducting consistent Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the high north.

Since 1983, U.S. policy has been to exercise U.S. ships to assert its navigation rights and freedoms in a manner consistent with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), even though the U.S. is not a signatory to the convention. Since that time, according to a Department of Defense website, the United States Navy has conducted well over 400 FONOPs, countering the excessive maritime claims of some 60 nations. The reasons stated for these FONOPs have ranged from rejection of requirements that foreign warships not enter a territorial sea without prior authorization, to rejecting baselines not drawn in accordance with current laws and norms and attempts to restrict transit or innocent passage through international straits. More recently the U.S. Navy has used FONOPs to push back on new attempts to limit foreign vessels from entering exclusive economic zones, or attempts by China to create artificial islands and then use these illegal constructs to serve as justification for territorial sea claims. As might be expected, a large proportion of FONOPs have been conducted against authoritarian nations, such as China and Iran, which reject a free sea, or freedom generally.

10. A CNN poll had some good news for Donald Trump . . . so the grave-diggers were called in. Kyle Smith noticed. From the piece:

Only after all of this stuff did we learn that CNN has a new poll out, under the headline, “CNN Poll: Biden tops Trump nationwide, but battlegrounds tilt Trump.” Polls are expensive, news organizations tend to hype them breathlessly to generate headlines in rival media outlets, Wednesday was (obviously) a slow news day, and politics is one of CNN’s core topics. Yet CNN seemed oddly unenthused about its own poll. And the story to which the homepage linked doesn’t mention that Trump had never scored higher in a CNN poll. True, there are lots of noisy data in the piece, most of which cut against Trump. But on the other hand the single most surprising and hence most newsworthy detail of the poll was that Trump holds a seven-point lead over Biden in the battleground states. The CNN story doesn’t even tell us what that figure is — seven points seems like a pretty big number — and downplays its own finding by noting, “Given the small sample size in that subset of voters, it is difficult to determine with certainty whether the movement is significant or a fluke of random sampling.”

11. Allen Guelzo whales on The 1619 Project. From the essay:

The follies of The 1619 Project begin with its title. Most of the time, when we think of how the United States began, we think of 1776 — the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. What The 1619 Project asked us to do was to dial that beginning date back to 1619 — the year the first African slaves were deposited on the shore of what was then the English colony of Virginia. As The 1619 Project’s lead writer, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, insists, this was the real moment of America’s beginnings. “No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed,” wrote Hannah-Jones. “Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day.”

For that reason, the purpose of The 1619 Project has been “to reframe American history” by placing “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.” And through the articles and artistic contributions that compose The 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones and her collaborators have presented us with a totally new vista of America: not a land of hope, but one of misery; not a land of independence, but a land whose founders staged their revolution against Britain in 1776 to protect slaveholding; not a land of economic freedom and entrepreneurial capitalism, but a land where capitalism is modeled on plantation slavery; not a land that fought a great Civil War under a Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, to free the slaves, but a land where a racist Lincoln actually plotted to deport freed slaves; a land where (in Kevin Kruse’s essay, “How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam”) even modern urban traffic scrums are the product of racially segregated city planning.

I have been a teacher of American history virtually all my life, and if there is one lesson I have learned from all that, it’s to beware of historical explanations that come down to one single cause. Human events and motivations, like human relationships, are always more complicated than that, and a cause that claims to explain everything usually winds up explaining nothing. In the Middle Ages, people tried to explain the movement of the stars and the planets by putting the earth at the center. When the stars and the planets didn’t behave according to that, they invented more and more elaborate explanations of why the earth had to be the center, until finally all the elaborate explanations broke down of their own weight, and we were ready for Copernicus. Of course, not every all-purpose explanation ends with a whimper. In 1903, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion offered a similar one-cause anti-Semitic explanation for global misery, and that, as the history of the 20th century attests, ended very, very badly.

12. George Nash, the conservative historian, puts the pandemic in perspective. From the piece:

For a time in the summer of 1918, the pandemic seemed to peter out. Then, in late August — in Europe, the eastern United States, and a section of Africa — it returned in mutated form. This second wave was far more deadly than the first, and it spread like a silent tornado. Striking first at U.S. sailors in Boston Harbor on August 27, it soon found its way inland. According to the New England Historical Society, on September 8 it reached Camp Devens (about 40 miles from Boston), where 50,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed. By September 23 more than 10,500 of them were sick with the influenza. By the 29th, they were reportedly dying at the rate of 100 per day.

Along the Atlantic seaboard and beyond, the pandemic spread with incredible speed and ferocity, assailing more and more of the civilian population. In Philadelphia, where the disease arrived via a visiting ship in September, hundreds of workers in the Navy Yard quickly became infected. Despite this warning sign, the city’s public-health director refused to cancel a scheduled Liberty Loan parade designed to raise money for the war effort. At least 200,000 people jammed the parade route on September 28. Within a week 45,000 residents of the city were stricken with the influenza. Within six weeks, 12,000 Philadelphians expired from it, the highest death toll for any American city.

By the time the pandemic’s second wave subsided in early 1919, at least 45,000 residents of Massachusetts had succumbed. By the time a third wave of the epidemic ended in the spring of 1919, an estimated 500,000 to 675,000 Americans had died of the disease, in a period when the U. S. population was less than one-third of what it is today. In the U.S. Army, which sent more than a million soldiers to fight overseas in World War I, more personnel perished from the influenza than from combat wounds.

13. Logan Beirne tells of The Father of Our Country, fighting a war and a contagion. From the article:

Much like today, the virus not only sickened the civilian population but also ravaged the U.S. servicemen, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack. During the Battle of New York City in 1776, the smallpox epidemic grew so dire that Commander-in-Chief George Washington described it as more dangerous than “the Sword of the Enemy.” And he was correct — for every soldier killed in battle, an estimated ten others died from disease.

Also like today, there were concerns that adversaries might use disease against us. The British intentionally sent infected prisoners back to American communities to spread the scourge. In fact, one British officer recommended, “Dip arrows in matter of smallpox and twang them at the American rebels.” (Guns and bullets were almost universal at this point; this measure was intended specifically to injure and infect.) Whether actively spreading the virus or merely taking advantage of its natural spread, Washington’s enemies sought to leverage America’s weakened state.

Despite being centuries of technological advancement behind us, our first commander-in-chief’s approach to the epidemic parallels today’s: Washington first moved to seal off his troops from foreign entrants, then he checked for symptoms within his camp and quarantined anyone suspected of being infected.

In the end, however, the quarantines proved difficult to enforce and ultimately unable to stop the spread, so inoculation emerged as the only real solution. But Washington faced fierce opposition. Inoculation was a grotesque procedure that involved first scratching the patient’s arm and inserting pus from a smallpox victim into the healthy person’s wound. This would cause the patient to contract a case far milder than if he were to inhale the virus or otherwise catch it more naturally. But he would enjoy lasting immunity.

14. Michael Brendan Dougherty sees occasional tough talk, but no real tough action, in Donald Trump’s dealings with the ChiComs. From the beginning of the piece:

How much of what we hear from day to day is really just meant to please the Chinese Communist Party? When LeBron James said that Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong comments were “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation,” had he engaged in a direct conversation with a Chinese dignitary or had the NBA merely relayed its concerns to him on China’s behalf? Did some officious CCP official get a pat on the head when the World Health Organization kept praising China’s response to the emergence of a new coronavirus in Wuhan before it declared a global health emergency? When Governor Andrew Cuomo started bizarrely referring to the coronavirus as the “European virus,” was he hoping to preserve Chinese investment in New York?

It’s no longer paranoid or irrational to ask these questions. This week, an op-ed signed by the EU’s ambassador to China and his counterparts from the 27 EU member states was revealed to have been censored and edited by the Chinese government, apparently without the permission or foreknowledge of many of the authors. How common is such chicanery?

We’ve had lots of recent occasions to see China’s pettiness. The CCP made Marriott shut down its own website for having referred to Macau and Tibet as something other than part of China. The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker quickly changed Taiwan to “Taipei and environs” amid what one presumes was Chinese pressure. German-owned Mercedes is just one company that has had to ask China’s forgiveness for merely mentioning the Dalai Lama. The United Kingdom once had to read an abject statement of apology aloud to Chinese dignitaries after committing the same sin.

15. George Terwilliger has some suggestions for fixing the leadership-broken FBI. From the analysis:

The damage wrought is not limited at all to misconduct seemingly aimed at the Trump presidency. What Comey and his cohorts did has harmed the work of the career FBI and Justice Department professionals whose interests Comey now disingenuously purports to represent and protect. If he cared about protecting the ability of those good people to do their jobs in a non-politicized atmosphere, he never would have usurped the function of prosecutors when he took it upon himself to both bar prosecution of Hillary Clinton in one breath and publicly condemn her conduct in the next — all done in the heated atmosphere of an emerging presidential campaign contest in which the FBI should have been decidedly a noncombatant. The dedication and professionalism in the daily work of thousands of FBI agents and support personnel in the field offices across the country is of critical value to the nation. Likewise, the federal prosecutors who take cases to court day in and day out are the tip of the rule-of-law spear. Together, the work of these professionals is the lifeblood of the justice system, and the vast majority of them perform at exceptionally high levels still. What Comey and his cohorts wrought, however, has made doing those jobs more difficult because public trust in the FBI and the justice system is eroded and questioned. The sunshine of the work Barr has commissioned to illuminate the truth is a disinfectant, not the disease; mistaking it as such because the facts have a collateral benefit to Trump is simply another mark of the hyper-partisan mindset.

So what went wrong with the FBI is not the doing of its rank and file; it was failure of leadership. It will take both time and core changes to fundamentally alter the bureau’s orientation in the senior headquarters’s ranks. A few principles might help guide doing so.

16. German jurists have put it at odds with the EU’s supremacy. Andrew Stuttaford explains. From the beginning of the piece:

One of the reasons that the euro zone has survived for as long as it has is the impressive ability of its leaders to postpone dealing with a series of questions that are as fundamental as they are inconvenient. Is it possible to sustain a monetary union without a fiscal union? (Probably not.) Is it possible to establish a fiscal union without genuine democratic consent? (We may yet find out.) And suddenly pressing: What is the relationship between the EU’s law and Germany’s?

For half a century the conflict hinted at by this last question could mostly be treated as theoretical. Then, last week, the German constitutional court (BVG) challenged the legality of the Public Sector Purchase Program (PSPP), the $2 trillion-and-counting quantitative-easing scheme first launched by the European Central Bank (the ECB) in 2015 to prop up the euro zone’s faltering economies, and restarted in 2019. The BVG’s ruling does not concern the ECB’s Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP), a new, smaller quantitative-easing regimen under which the ECB will buy up to €750 billion in bonds to help stave off the effects of the mess that COVID-19 has left in its wake. But it may affect how the PEPP is run: Already widely considered inadequate for the task that lies ahead, the program may be hobbled by restrictions flowing from the BVG’s judgment, and that’s before another wave of German litigation tries to bring it down.

To the EU, the BVG’s intervention was both unwelcome and insolent. So far as the EU’s jurisprudence is concerned, EU law is supreme in every member state in a manner approximately analogous to the relationship between federal and state law in the U.S. In an English case from 1974, one of that country’s most distinguished — and quirkily eloquent — judges, Lord Denning, explained that the EEC Treaty (the EEC was a precursor of the EU) was “like an incoming tide. It flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back.” The treaty, he wrote, was “equal in force to any statute,” and the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) was “the ultimate authority” when it came to interpreting EEC law; even England’s highest court had “to bow down to it.”

17. In On a Magical Night, Armond White discovers a moral sex farce, French fare that beats whatever Hollywood is serving up. From the beginning of the review:

Corrupt Hollywood now specializes in remakes and reboots and has convinced the public to accept this cheat as creativity. Meanwhile, Christophe Honoré counters that nonsense with his new film On a Magical Night (Chambre 212). An homage to French cinema’s most advanced romantic comedies, it is also a wholly original film. Through the infidelity of 40-year-old law professor Maria Mortemort (Chiara Mastroianni), Honoré explores the restless itch at the heart of so many Gallic moral tales. When her 40-year-old husband, Richard (Benjamin Biolay), discovers Maria’s dalliance with a younger student, the sparring couple separate into their corners: Maria takes a room in a hotel above a multiplex cinema, across the street from their chic apartment, where, like a philosophical voyeur, she can watch Richard seething.

This premise might immediately suggest Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but Honoré, who directed last year’s deeply moving Sorry Angel, is more interested in sex-farce complications. He showcases Maria’s guilt, not suspense. As snow falls on Maria and Richard’s separation, Honoré shifts into exquisite reflection: Maria recalls Richard at age 20 (played by Vincent Lacoste) whose lustful presence sets Honoré’s film off and running.

Longing, regret, and passion materialize through different personages from the past. Every surprise appearance unpacks Maria’s subconscious — her numerous ex-lovers and, most vexingly, Irene Haffner (Camille Cottin), the piano teacher who was Richard’s first lover when he was age 15. Tellingly, even the ghost of Charles Aznavour appears as, he says, Maria’s “will.” He tells her “My role is to strengthen your resolve. Someone else handles your conscience.”

Here’s where Honoré reveals his objective: to investigate our culturally inspired desires. Hollywood’s remake mania merely cashes in on already established markets, with pre-sold properties and titles. We don’t grow from such copy-cat-ism, which means that American cinema’s ideas about morality, mortality, and existence become infantilized or politicized.

18. Now if only Jerry Seinfeld could make us laugh. Kyle Smith reviews a comedian gone stale. From the review:

Forty years ago the man was making jokes about breakfast cereal. Today he’s making jokes about . . . Pop-Tarts. People who say “It is what it is.” Portable restrooms (“I don’t know how they’re even allowed to call it a bathroom”). Cup holders. Some of this stuff is so bland it deserves to be shipped out to Vegas.

Pop-Tarts, Jerry notes, can never go stale because they were never fresh in the first place. Every person in the audience has to be shifting in his seat. Er, were Cookie Crisp jokes ever fresh in the first place, Jer? “When they invented the Pop-Tart, the back of my head blew right off,” he says. “We couldn’t comprehend the Pop-Tart, it was too advanced!” That’s how Jerry launches an ode to shelf-stable pastry that lasts about as long as Seinfeld was on the air.

Bringing things into this century, Seinfeld does a so-so bit on cell phones (“When that battery gets low, you feel like your whole body is out of power”) that culminates with Jerry hurling himself flat on the stage of the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. Jerry is 66. He shouldn’t have to throw himself on the floor to get a laugh. At another point he does some business that involves twisting himself into his mic cord. Grueling stuff.

19. Ace in the Hole 1: Kyle reflects on what he considers the nastiest-ever movie about journalists. From the commentary:

As far as I can tell, Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951) was completely ignored upon its release, and for many years thereafter. Then in 1987, when an infant who became the world-famous Baby Jessica fell down a well and the ensuing wall-to-wall media coverage came to seem a tad exploitative, even circus-like, people started to say, wait a minute, haven’t we seen this story before? The Baby Jessica/Wilder scenario inspired a 1992 episode of The Simpsons, “Radio Bart.” At the time Ace in the Hole was still so obscure that the writer of the episode, Jon Vitti, who was given the story by Matt Groening, said he had trouble locating a copy to rent. (Before the launch of Turner Classic Movies, Ace in the Hole was almost never shown on TV and the only place I could find the film, as of the mid-1990s, was the invaluable art-house video-rental shop Kim’s Video, in Greenwich Village. The place closed in 2014.)

Today Ace in the Hole must be one of the most-talked about Hollywood movies of the Fifties. It dated well because the thing that people hated about it when it was made is the thing that is contemporary about it now: It’s unbelievably nasty. Finally taste has caught up with Billy Wilder’s cynicism. (The movie is on the TCM app through May 17 and can also be found on the superb, Kim’s Video-like Kanopy app offering art-house favorites, which you can use if you have a library card from one of the many public libraries that subscribes to it. A version with commercials is showing on Pluto TV).

20. Ace in the Hole 2: And Armond has his say about this precursor to social-justice warriorism. From the review:

Billy Wilder’s 1951 Ace in the Hole, widely conceded to be the most cynical Hollywood movie ever made, brings the hammer down on journalism in a way that ought to synch with today’s rising distrust of the media — although that’s not what Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz meant when he called it “one of the great movies about journalism” during its COVID-19 quarantine broadcast.

Ironically, Ace in the Hole is a cult favorite, a dirty little secret among journalists. But there’s a catch — the insurmountable egotism of commanding-heights media — that makes the film’s cynicism part of the problem it pretends to critique.

Wilder, best known for Sunset Boulevard, The Seven Year Itch, and Some Like It Hot, turned his celebrated wit against the character of Charles Tatum, a disgraced New York scribe who lands at a small-town rag in New Mexico, where he attempts a comeback by manipulating a local man’s accident into a story that will put Tatum back in the Pulitzer Prize stakes. It is actor Kirk Douglas’s ultimate performance as a post-WWII heel, twisting the actor’s considerable talent and the force of his charisma into a spectacle of contempt. This Hollywood hoax encourages our own leering fascination that isn’t much different from Tatum’s sneering condescension.

Our identification with Tatum’s temperament and drive becomes more repugnant as the story develops. Tatum’s journalist careerism is like poker strategy. He keeps his “ace,” a Mexican-Catholic trading-post owner, trapped in a cave that collapsed when he was robbing artifacts from a Native American burial site. He plans to build curiosity for the grand, human-interest rescue story he stokes in the press.

The June 1, 2020 Issue of National Review Is in the Mail, But Also Awaits Your Eyeballs Right Here and Now on NRO

It’s a really great issue, if you can take the word of This Opinionated Fool — but you should take it. The cover brandishes the photo of John James, Michigan GOP Senate hopeful and the subject of another classic John J. Miller political profile. Let’s give you a quartet of recommended readings from the issue (Hey: You can read the whole shebang if you join NRPLUS.)

1. JJM on JJ. It’s a must-read. From the profile:

With the exception of Alabama, where voters probably will reverse 2017’s fluke election of Democrat Doug Jones, Michigan represents the best chance for a Republican Senate candidate to beat a Democratic incumbent in 2020. Polls already suggest a tight race, and James is sure to receive more attention and support than he did last time. “We’ll be there to push John across the finish line,” says Senator Todd Young of Indiana, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Flipping a Democratic seat may be reward enough for many Republicans, but the stakes in Michigan are in fact a lot higher: James could become the GOP’s next young superstar.

That’s partly because John Edward James, who turns 39 in June, is a rare political type: an African-American Republican. His great-great-grandfather was born a slave in Mississippi, and he likes to chronicle a brief family history: “In four generations, we’ve gone from a slave to a sharecropper to a mason to a truck driver and now potentially to a senator. That is absolutely remarkable, not just for our family but for our country.” His piece of the story began in 1981, when James was born in Southfield, Mich. He grew up mostly in Detroit, and although he was raised Baptist, he went to high school at Brother Rice, an all-boys Catholic school in Bloomfield Hills. (Today, he attends a nondenominational church.)

As a teenager, he didn’t think much about politics. His parents were Democrats, but he dated a girl who belonged to the Young Republicans of Oakland County. So James attended their meetings, too. As he listened to members talk about personal responsibility, a culture of life, and defending the Constitution, he kept thinking: “That makes sense to me.” He didn’t become a Republican then, he says, but “it planted a seed.”

Around the same time, he fell under the influence of Joe Anderson, a business friend of his father’s. Anderson had gone to West Point and then served in Vietnam, where he had become the subject of a French documentary, The Anderson Platoon, which won Best Documentary at the 40th Academy Awards in 1968. He encouraged James to take a look at the military academy. “The opportunity to serve others, to fight for this country,” says James, “I consider it a down payment on the debt that I owe my ancestors for the sacrifices they made for my freedom.”

2. David Mamet — yeah, that David Mamet — weaves a sterling essay on lockdowns, writing, codes, Donald Trump, and the Left’s loathing of him into a brilliant analysis of our times. From the piece:

Tragedy, to be compelling, must address a prerational experience or unity. A Hokusai painting of a wave makes us nod in recognition, as we do at a resolution of a Bach fugue. We cannot explain or dissect our experience of understanding, but it is undeniable. True art creates in us the same feeling of fulfillment, its possible description just beyond the rational mind.

The technician might explain it technically, the musician employing the cycle of fifths, or the painter some theory of color or proportion, but this merely puts the problem at one remove. For, after the technical reduction, even the expert cannot quite answer the question of why: Why, for example, is the eye so pleased by the golden mean? Like any great truth, our understanding of art must devolve into metaphysics or an assertion merely leading to an infinite regression.

The human mind will and must assemble phenomena into cause and effect. We will intuit or ascribe a causal relationship to two events that, to another, have no possible connection: Aunt Edna did not call on my birthday because she’s furious I didn’t sufficiently praise her new frock; Germany is troubled because of the Jews; we are suffering a pandemic because Trump did or did not act quickly enough, and an economic disaster because he did.

Psychoanalysis (and politics) attempts to address or capitalize on our human suggestibility, particularly on our frenzied willingness to assign our disquiets to another. Solutions offered thus flatter our ability to identify a problem, suggest its cure, and remind us to come back tomorrow for another dose.

Drama acts similarly, engaging us in the assurance that the cause of all problems is evident, and that our reason will suffice to cure them. The Bad Butler did it; Deaf People are People, Too; Love Is All There Is; and so on. If we enjoy the mixture, it must (and will) be taken regularly.

Tragedy provides not reassurance but calm through the completion of a mechanical progression. Its end is probative, for it is the disposition of all the variables (the code) stipulated at its beginning—mathematically, there is no remainder.

3. Alex Armlovich believes that conservatives should care about cities. From the beginning of the essay:

Population density is taking a beating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Urban centers from Wuhan to New York City are hot spots for the virus, and many people argue, based on plausible intuitions, that urban crowding is to blame for its spread. Not all the evidence is in yet, and reassurances that New York could have prepared like (for instance) Seoul are, especially in the heat of the present, less persuasive to many than the mobile mortuaries humming around the city or the ongoing official use of the transit system as a homeless shelter. But cities have always faced serious challenges, and the economic and other benefits of cities are such that they have persisted for 5,000 years—even in the face of serious biothreats ranging from measles and flu to smallpox and plague.

While it remains too soon to say how big a factor urban density (as opposed to urban crowding) has been, people eager to use the crisis as an excuse to reject density should think twice. Dense cities offer capitalism’s solution to many of today’s challenges, from stagnant productivity growth to environmental degradation, in a package that conservatives should rally around.

This will require some forbearance. In recent years, cities have become associated not only with standard Democratic politics but with a resurgence of socialist activism. America’s new socialists are clustered in cities, where blunt leftist “solutions” to the nation’s policy problems are taking root. These problems include slow middle-class wage growth after one accounts for the rising costs of health care, education, and housing near (increasingly urban) good jobs, along with climate change. The Left says “late” capitalism cannot adapt—and so transformation into the first phase of “democratic socialism” is nigh. Their remedy for stagnant wages and high living costs includes union empowerment, Medicare for All, free college, and bans on construction of private housing plus universal rent control. For climate change, the solution is a vaguely sketched yet massive Green New Deal. Seeing all this, conservatives may be tempted to leave cities to their own fate.

4. Madeleine Kearns checks out the rampant narcissism behind Goop. From the piece:

Similar to Markle, Paltrow was keen to discover a “point of life” that amounted to more than “making out with Matt Damon on screen, or whatever.” She began a newsletter called “The Goop Lab” in 2008. Since then, it’s developed into a $250 million company complete with a website, a podcast, a magazine, books, stores, and its own Netflix series of the same name. The Goop Lab, Paltrow explains in the first episode, is all about the “optimization of self.” Each of the six episodes explores a theme related to this: psychedelics, “cold therapy,” female sexuality, anti-aging, “energy work,” and psychic mediumship. Put simply, Goop is about “milking the sh** out of [life].”

In many ways, Goop is like any other celebrity cult. Yet it also reflects something more widespread, embodying many of the characteristics laid out in Christopher Lasch’s 1979 bestseller The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch argued that escape into grandiose self-delusion, previously deemed pathological, had been mainstreamed as normal or even desirable. He outlined a distinction between “primary narcissism,” referring “to the infantile illusion of omnipotence,” which, applied today, describes many celebrities (including the 45th president), and “secondary narcissism,” defined by psychoanalyst Thomas Freeman as “attempts to annul the pain of disappointed love.” Lasch saw the problem beginning with the decline of the family as a dominant cultural authority. Into this vacuum unscrupulous market forces and a radical progressive social agenda had flown, offering the “propaganda” of commodities and therapeutic superstitions. “What remains to be explained,” Lasch wrote in an updated edition, “is how an exaggerated respect for technology can coexist with a revival of ancient superstitions, a belief in reincarnation, a growing fascination with the occult, and the bizarre forms of spirituality associated with the New Age movement.” Goop manages this by hiding behind feminism.

BONUS: Jay Nordlinger reviews the status of Taiwan, pathogen slayer and international pariah. From the article:

In Taiwan so far, there have been 438 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and six deaths. Schools have been open since February 25—although with precautions—and professional sports are being played, without spectators.

With the country serving as a model, why does it need the WHO? According to Taiwanese officials, the country can use all the information it can get. Every scrap helps. So too, Taiwan has information, and experience, to share.

Friends of Taiwan are pushing for its inclusion in the WHO, just as they did after the SARS epidemic. The PRC, as always, is pushing back, strong-arming anyone it can. China’s hold over people and institutions is remarkable. Beijing is a master instiller of fear.

On March 27, Yvonne Tong interviewed Bruce Aylward, by video hook up. She works for a Hong Kong news program called “The Pulse”; he is a Canadian official of the WHO. A stranger interview you never saw.

Ms. Tong said, “Will the WHO consider Taiwan’s membership?” Dr. Aylward did not answer. He looked into the camera, for a long period. Finally, Ms. Tong said, “Hello?” He said, “That’s okay, I couldn’t hear your question.” Ms. Tong said, “Okay, let me repeat the question.” Dr. Aylward said, “No, that’s okay, let’s move to another one then.”

But the interviewer persisted (politely). Then Dr. Aylward appeared to sever his connection.

Persisting, the show got a hold of him again. Ms. Tong said, “I just want to see if you can comment a bit on how Taiwan has done so far in terms of containing the virus.” Dr. Aylward replied, “Well, we’ve already talked about China, and, you know, when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually all done quite a good job.” With that, he bade farewell.

The Six

1. At Commentary, Noah Rothman bashes the Cult of Cuomo. From the beginning of the piece:

The cult of personality that’s sprung up around New York’s irascible governor is partly attributable to the trauma New Yorkers have endured. Cuomo presides over one of the nation’s hardest-hit states, and his affect has been sober enough to convey a sense of authority. But in terms of performance, the outcomes this governor has overseen are so terrible and contrast so starkly with the adulation he’s received that it’s impossible to see this phenomenon as something other than a contrivance.

The governor has somehow been spared an aggressive effort by the journalistic establishment to relitigate the month of February. What was the president doing at the time to mitigate the terrible effects the pandemic would have on American society in March? If the question was asked of the governor, the answer would be, what everyone else was doing: downplaying the pandemic. “We went through this before: Zika virus, Ebola, et cetera,” Cuomo said on February 7. “But let’s have some connection to the reality of the situation,” he continued, “catching the flu right now is a much greater risk than anything that has anything to do with coronavirus.”

By late March, with the scale of the disaster now acutely felt, the governor lashed out at President Donald Trump for suggesting that he did not believe New York would require “40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.” Cuomo called the president’s suggestion “ignorant” and “grossly uninformed,” insisting that the 4,400 ventilators the state had received from the federal government would prove disastrously inadequate. But it turned out that ventilators were of less utility for treating advanced COVID-19 cases than medical professionals initially believed, and the state’s peak caseload came earlier and with fewer overall infections than anticipated. In the end, if the president had caved to the media-driven pressure to transfer nearly all its ventilator reserve to New York, they’d have gone largely unused, and the rest of the country would have been in a precarious position as a result.

In a “historic move” on April 30, Cuomo announced that the New York City subway system would temporarily cease 24-hour operations so that cars could be disinfected. The governor himself made a conspicuous trip to New York City’s unfortunately named Corona Maintenance Facility for a tour and a photo-op. This was an important directive, but one that likely came months too late.

2. As ever, Gatestone Institute’s Con Coughlin provides exceptional analysis of Things Europe — here, concerning the EU’s ever-toadying to Red China. From the beginning of the piece:

The latest capitulation by the European Union in the face of Chinese intimidation demonstrates that, when it comes to protecting the interests of member states, the Brussels bureaucracy is no match for Beijing’s new breed of warrior diplomats.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more notable features of China’s response has been the willingness of senior Chinese diplomats to intervene forcibly in defence of China’s interests.

The interventions of these “Wolf Warrior” diplomats, so-called after a series of iconic Chinese action movies in which Chinese special forces vanquish their American foes, take several forms.

On one level, Chinese ambassadors, particularly those based in Western capitals, simply resort to blackmail, threatening to deny governments vital medical supplies to cope with the pandemic if they do not comply with Beijing’s wishes.

On another level, they indulge in disseminating fake news, using social media platforms to propagate information that is patently false.

To deal with the growing menace posed by China’s diplomatic community, it is vital, therefore, that the West take robust action to protect its interests, and to hold China to account for its role in causing the pandemic in the first place, and then trying to cover its culpability by launching a global campaign to conceal the origins of the outbreak.

3. Dear amiga Lori Kelly writes a wonderous piece for The Catholic Exchange on the faith of our fathers, literal ones, and the call to fight for it. From the article:

The year now, of course, is 2020. I am 58 years old. I live in South Boston. It is noon, and the Angelus bells just rang out from our beloved Gate of Heaven Church. As I am called to prayer, I am also again called to memory, and at the sound of the bells my heart leaps once more. Again, I am reminded of my father, my childhood, the saints and angels and even those martyred for the faith. I recollect one evening when I entered my parents’ bedroom and discovered my Father on his knees in prayer. He held his black rosary in his hands, his lips moving to the mysteries. Concluding his ave, he kissed the beads once and tenderly placed them under his pillow. To see this man, this man who I believed could fight off lions on my behalf, humbly prostrate himself before God struck me to my very core. No catechism, no teaching, no bible or homily was ever as instrumental to the formation of my faith than this image of my father and that devoted kiss.

I once traveled to Prague. So many Catholic churches there were shut down, decimated by decades of past Communist rule. I visited museums and it devastated me to see chalices, stoles and ornate monstrances all placed inside glass display cases, disposed, unused and forgotten, reduced to mere relics. It occurred to me that I had a pressing, personal responsibility to make sure that the same thing didn’t occur in my own home parish. It occurs to me, now, that there is a real possibility, if we are not careful and vigilant, that our own churches run the risk of becoming concert halls and museums.

In this age of the coronavirus, these memories of hymns, rosaries and monstrances have come rushing back to me. It all makes particular sense, now. The Church is my inheritance and my personal responsibility. Why does the Faith sometimes bring me to tears and knock me to my knees? The answer: true Beauty will do that.

4. At First Things, Algis Valiunas investigates the Russian soul and its character of suffering. From the beginning of the reflection:

The Russian soul. The phrase serves as shorthand for Russia’s national character, after the manner of American innocence, French arrogance, Italian dolce far niente, and what used to be the English stiff upper lip. Russians are reputed to feel more than the rest of us do, think deep thoughts about eternal but elusive truths, engage in fevered dispute about the meaning of it all, weep ­unabashedly and laugh balefully over the sorrowful and preposterous human lot, and drink themselves into sodden paralysis. They suffer demonstratively. They have good reason to. Russian politics have been and continue to be an abomination, and for millions of Russians daily life is an all but intolerable grind. The people’s habit of replacing one tyrannical overlord with another is regrettable, to say the least. Russian souls have long been forged, when they have not been consumed, in the fires of an earthly hell.

Yet, as Dante knew when he plunged Satan and other traitors into the frozen depths of the Inferno, hell at its worst can be extremely cold. And Siberia has become a byword for such icy torment. It is the native vale of soul-making, to borrow a phrase from an English Romantic poet. As one denizen of the Arctic region Kolyma put it, “Here we have twelve months of winter. / The rest summer.” This everlasting winter has come to be associated with the slave labor camps of Stalin’s heyday, but already under the czars Siberian imprisonment followed by exile or military service was the standard punishment for political defiance as well as more conventional criminality. As one learns from Daniel Beer’s study The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars (2016), more than a million malefactors were consigned to Asian Russia, the vast expanse east of the Ural Mountains, between 1801 and 1917. Liberals, utopian socialists of various denominations, and ­Polish patriots trying to free their homeland from imperial oppression were all heavily represented among the banished outlaws. Siberia was the proving ground for revolutionary brotherhood. Lenin and Stalin and any number of lesser incendiaries did time there. Stern wills were hardened, alliances cemented. Beer writes:

When revolution finally erupted in 1905, these exiled radicals transformed Siberia’s towns and villages into crucibles of violent struggle against the autocracy. Scaffolds were erected in the courtyards of prisons while, beyond their walls, wardens were assassinated in the streets. No longer a quarantine against the contagions of revolution, Siberia had become a source of the infection.

In due course, the prisoners became jailers and secret police, and eventually prisoners once more, as the revolution ate its own.

5. At The Imaginative Conservative, Erik Ellis asks and answers the question, what is a classical education. From the essay:

Even the strongest advocates of classical education struggle to appreciate how limited its curricular basis was. Consisting of ancient history, primarily narrated through the “lives” of its great actors, epic and lyric poetry, and classical oratory, this educational model did not aim to be comprehensive. What little direct philosophical and ethical instruction was obtained from the rhetoricians Isocrates and Cicero rather than Plato and Aristotle. The appeal was protreptic or hortatory rather than theoretical or systematic. Now almost forgotten texts like the Dream of Scipio and the Distichs of Cato served alongside Christ’s parables to furnish students with models of behavior and matter for contemplation rather than definitions and formulae. If this shocks us, we ought to remember that no less a political philosopher than the author of City of God claimed to be ignorant of Greek, and that his early philosophical training consisted almost solely of Cicero’s Hortensius, an unfortunately lost protreptic, and a few libri platonici, late antique philosophical textbooks whose synthetic mixture of Plato, Aristotle, and Stoicism the nineteenth-century historians of philosophy worked so hard to analyze, chop up, and rearrange into a logical narrative that explained the development of ideas but no longer could claim to provide guidance towards achieving eternal wisdom.

And yet, there was wisdom in this radically limited approach. Ancient, medieval, and early modern education had an oratorical orientation, recognizing that it was training leaders rather than experts. People who had been taught to imitate the classical authors, to analyze and understand their language, to construct valid arguments, and to make them persuasive, and who had committed to memory the virtuous and vicious deeds of the their noble predecessors had all the skills necessary to build civilization and inspire their peers to virtuous action. Whether we look to the Roman procurators and Chinese Mandarins of the empires of antiquity, the monks and scholastics of the medieval Church, or the bureaucrats and pioneers of more recent times, we see the constant of stable, efficient civil service carried out by leaders trained to revere a literary canon, to study it with traditional disciplines, and to see the unchanging contours of wise self-governance and prudent leadership in a constantly changing world. Although it is certainly mythical, perhaps no image more powerfully represents this ideal than that of our own frontier lawyers, who, like Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Stewart’s Ranse Stoddard, went to bring order to the Wild West armed only with copies of Vergil, Blackstone, and the Bible in their saddlebags. For all this, we cannot help but notice that the foundations of civil society rest on the spiritual products of this older form of education rather than on the material and technological advancements of our (post-) industrial economy.

6. The College Fix’s Brittany Slaughter checks out the perv-sanity at Northwestern University, where a pandemic has forced the annual “Sex Week” online. This, folks, is higher education (we apologize for what is about to be quoted on the family newsletter). From the article:

Can masturbating to the image of a pile of cash bring … a pile of cash in real life?

It’s an example of a concept advanced as part of Northwestern University’s annual student-led Sex Week observance, which has been moved online in response to the coronavirus lockdown. Northwestern Sex Week launched Monday and runs through May 15.

The “Masturbation for Manifestation” event is hosted by an affiliate with the Chicago-based sex KiKi community, described as a movement that advances sex-positive erotic arts, culture and education.

On its website, it describes masturbation for manifestation as some sort of “sex magic.” The notion is similar to the law of attraction popularized by the book “The Secret.”

“At the moment of orgasm that’s when you start to manifest and when you start to see yourself have whatever it is that you want,” the website states.

BONUS: At Reason, Veronique de Rugy finds creativity alive and well, even during (especially during) a pandemic. From the column:

It was going to be the party of the year: my 50th birthday. I rented a fantastic place, picked a great menu, and sent funny invitations designed by my hilarious friend Brooke. I was counting down the weeks. Then COVID-19 hit. Lockdowns were ordered. No party for me. Yet what replaced it was the purest expression of the best that humanity has to offer, springing from creative forces that neither this virus—nor other negative forces—can kill.

My party being canceled is, of course, a minuscule tragedy compared with the deaths and economic destruction we’ve witnessed in the last few months. Still, I was sad that what was supposed to be a great weekend spent with family coming from France and friends coming from all over the country has been postponed indefinitely. I knew my teenagers would, no matter what, make the day special—it was Mother’s Day, too—and that I would still hear from my friends.

And what replaced the party was so much more meaningful and amazing because it was fueled by my friends’ love and creativity, and by the amazing innovators who make coping with the isolation more tolerable.

Baseballery

Hurry Up and Weight: “Who,” queried Son #2, having seen a photo (now a meme) of Chris Christie in a uniform, “was the fattest guy to ever play baseball?” Your Humble Correspondent thought he had written about a contender in a previous WJ. Investigation proved he had not. Had he, he would have informed Dear Readers of the great Jumbo Brown, whose avois practically dupois’d at 300 pounds in the midst of his 12-year 1930s career pitching for the Yankees, Giants, Indians, Cubs, and Reds. On occasion dubbed “Falstaffian flinger” by sportswriters, Brown led the NL in saves his last two seasons (1940–41). He shared the moniker with another pitcher, James Thomas “Jumbo” Elliott, a husky southpaw who led the NL in victories in 1931 with 19.

Darn it: The Jumbos never faced each other, nor waged battle with the Athletics’ Chubby Dean. But on the other side of the Belly Curve, Brown did find himself sharing the mound one hot August afternoon in 1927 with Slim Harris. “Slim” was not too surprising a nickname for a guy who towered at 6’ 6” while weighing a scrawny 180 pounds. A hard-luck right-hander who played 10 seasons for the Athletics and Red Sox, Harris put up a lifetime 95–135 record. Of distinction, he twice led the AL in losses.

Back to the Jumbo Joust: Harris started the contest (indeed, he pitched a complete game and took the victory) against the Indians, whose starter, southpaw Garland Buckeye, gave up four hits to the first four batters, and, following a gut-check by manager Jack McAllister, the ball was handed to Brown. In relief, the butterballer went 3 2/3 innings, and faced Slim twice — both times the lanky hurler ground out to end innings. In his one plate appearance against Harris, Jumbo drew a walk and scored.

All that said, the grandest man to ever put on a MLB uniform was, likely, the late Walter Young, who played for the Orioles in 2005. The 6’ 5” first baseman is said to have tipped the scales at 320 pounds.

A Dios

There seems to be more time — spent not in cars, not on trains. Allowing us time to . . . pray? Let us suggest that you do such. Fervently even, and boldly: “God, You fix this.” After all, we cannot. Oh: Do consider adding please. Which Your Humble Correspondent will say as he asks you to please spare a prayer for the repose of the soul of Richard Gilder, a friend of this institution and a philanthropist to many causes. Along with our late colleague, Dusty Rhodes, he founded the Club for Growth. May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in God’s mercy.

Divine Blessings, Real and Consequential, on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who may receive late admonitions for not having mentioned Mother’s Day in the prior issue of the Weekend Jolt, securely sent to jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Out Like Flynn

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Dear Weekend Jolters,

How delicious this all is, to see a plot, actual and nefarious and contrived, flop, to see its game plan and perpetrators exposed, to watch the shameless media enablers — in large part the same cabal found contorting about Joe Biden allegations — unclutching their pearls just long enough to tweet hackneyed outrage, to project (“injustice!”) as cheeks crack and cataracts spout rage, to cry wolf yet again.

Meanwhile, the tide turns, it comes high . . . and the sandcastles are getting washed away. Boo hoo!

Our Andrew C. McCarthy knows a thing or two about federal prosecuting, and right after the news broke that the Justice Department was dropping its disgraceful case again General Michael Flynn, he penned a summary analysis for the New York Post, which we recommend you read, and which ended thusly:

The case was troubling enough that Attorney General Bill Barr appointed US Attorney Jeff Jensen of St. Louis to review it. This has recently resulted in eye-popping disclosures: Indications that there was an agreement not to prosecute Flynn’s son (which was not disclosed to the court); the withholding of exculpatory evidence, including the FBI’s perjury trap deliberations; and evidence that the bureau improperly edited its report summarizing its ambush interview of Flynn.

With Flynn’s tireless new attorney, Sidney Powell, pressing for more discovery and pleading with the judge to throw the case out based on outrageous government misconduct, the ball was in the Justice Department’s court. On Thursday, DOJ did the right thing, dropping the case.

General Flynn can never be made whole for the financial and emotional ruin wrought on him and his family over the last three years. But the prosecution’s decision to admit its case was baseless is better for Flynn than a pardon would have been. It is justice — too long delayed, but in the end not denied.

Closer to home, at NRO, Andy commented on renewed attention paid to the partially redacted Rosenstein “Scope” Memo, the Ground Zero of this legal insanity. It’s well worth the read. Here’s a slice:

Rosenstein agitated over being made the fall guy. In his hand-wringing over how to restore his reputation as a scrupulous nonpartisan (i.e., a nominally Republican bureaucrat admired by Democrats), he broached the possibilities of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a mentally unfit president from office and of covertly recording the president in the Oval Office (if Trump ranted, recordings might convince the cabinet that he was unstable). Realizing that these were lunatic notions, Rosenstein finally settled on naming Mueller, a Beltway eminence, to be a special counsel. The appointment was made on May 17, with Rosenstein’s assurances to congressional Democrats that Mueller would have virtually boundless authority.

But the problem remained: There was no factual basis to believe that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, had engaged in a conspiracy with the Kremlin to interfere with the 2016 campaign by cyberespionage or any other criminal activity.

The failure of Rosenstein’s order appointing Mueller to specify a proper foundation for a criminal probe was not just a public-perception problem for the Justice Department: It portended legal challenges. If Mueller charged anyone, as it appeared he was poised to do to Manafort (for tax and other crimes unrelated to Trump and Russia), the defense would surely claim that Mueller’s appointment was illegitimate.

To paper over this deficiency, Rosenstein issued the scope memo. Up until yesterday, we had been permitted to see only the Manafort-related passages (because, as just adumbrated, they became an issue in Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort). But as I noted at the time, even that glimpse of the memo provided insight into the travesty that was the Mueller appointment, and the Trump–Russia probe itself.

Do read Andy’s brilliant 2019 book, Ball of Collusion. And now let’s tuck in the napkin for the weekly feast that awaits.

Editorials

1. A federal judge blocks the kick of American women’s soccer egos. We cheer. From the editorial:

Third, and most important, the women’s team made less money because they were offered the chance to play under the men’s contract terms and turned them down. This is where the case tells inconvenient truths about the labor market. The men’s team played under a “pay-to-play” contract, in which all the economic risk was borne by the players in exchange for more upside if the players made the team and the team was successful. The men’s team was not successful, so they made less money. Now, with no games being played, they are making no money at all, while the women are still getting paid.

The women’s team turned down that deal, because they valued different things: guaranteed contracts, injury protection; health, dental, and vision insurance; child-care assistance; severance pay; guaranteed rest time. In short: more security and more benefits. True, they asked for the men’s deal plus those things, on the theory that they had a legal right to both. The USSF negotiator told them, “Your proposal is basically for all of the upside plus the elimination of risk.” But that’s negotiation; what the women’s team unanimously accepted was a tradeoff of less opportunity in exchange for less risk and more benefits.

As Judge Klauser noted, both benefits and economic security have economic value, and the women’s team’s position “ignores the reality that the [men’s and women’s teams] bargained for different agreements which reflect different preferences, and that the [women’s team] explicitly rejected the terms they now seek to retroactively impose on themselves.” This is often true of the wider labor market, in which women tend – not always, but on average – to prefer jobs with more benefits and security, even when that may come at the expense of less cash or less opportunity for bonuses. Those are legitimate choices that should be respected.

2. Orange County, CA, needs a lockdown like Joe Biden needs plagiarism lessons. We say end the nutty restrictions. From the editorial:

Orange County is, in reality, faring better than much of California in the epidemic: As of this writing, it has suffered 52 COVID-19 deaths out of a population of more than 3 million, substantially fewer than nearby counties such as Riverside and San Bernardino, even though those have smaller populations. Orange County seems to have been doing reasonably well without any heavy-handed diktats from Newsom. The parks in question include, as a lawsuit against Newsom’s order points out, those under the control of the cities in question, Huntington Beach and Dana Point. (National Review Institute trustee David L. Bahnsen is involved in that lawsuit.)

We would like to see scrupulous compliance with social-distancing practices. We also believe that people are more likely to accept the legitimacy of those rules when the decisions governing them are made in a way that is reasonable and democratic rather than unreasoning and autocratic, when decisions are made at the local level and respect the genuine diversity among our communities, and when those entrusted with the extraordinary authority of emergency powers are not themselves acting out of hysteria or in response to hysteria.

We very strongly suspect that having figures such as Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot bellowing at teenagers, “We will take you to jail — period” probably does more harm than good. The hectoring and bullying style that has too often accompanied the implementation of social distancing inspires more defiance than the rules themselves do. And such threats bring with them an obvious problem: Make good on them and you are endangering lives with the enforced closeness of arrest and jail; fail to make good on them and the credibility of local government is eroded. Best not to put yourself into such a bind to begin with. There will be some noncompliance, but a domineering approach is likely to make that problem worse rather than better.

3. While Betsy DeVos feels the expected hate from liberal interests who decry due process on American campuses, we applaud her efforts to return a sense of justice where it is now AWOL. From the editorial:

And so DeVos is pushing in the right direction. But there is the deeper question of why campus proceedings are appropriate at all to handle matters of sexual assault, which is a serious crime and the business of police and prosecutors, not the business of deans of students who have no particular competency in prosecuting felonies or misdemeanors. If a college wants to maintain a policy of expelling students convicted of certain crimes (or policing lower-stakes violations of campus policies), then that is entirely reasonable. But seeing to that conviction is the business of the criminal-justice system, not the higher-education system. Sexual assault is not a matter of the campus honor code — it is a question of serious criminal misconduct.

Where police departments and prosecutors are negligent or incompetent, as they sometimes show themselves to be in these matters, then that is an occasion for reforming the police departments and prosecutors’ offices — not for handing over law-enforcement duties to professors and college administrators. Of course, victims of sexual assault may be uncomfortable talking to police and may find the prospect of doing so traumatic; universities can support these students with counseling and mental-health services, but colleges cannot substitute themselves for the criminal-justice system.

Taking the police out of the equation invites abuse, from Lena Dunham’s hoax claim of having been raped by a College Republican at Oberlin to the Duke lacrosse case to Rolling Stone’s fictitious account of a rape at the University of Virginia. Rape hoaxes are a particularly odious instance of an all-too-common phenomenon of our times, the Jussie Smollett–style hate-crime hoax. The power of such claims makes them irresistible to political partisans and others in need of handy weapons for character assassination, as in the case of Brett Kavanaugh.

A 20-Piece Maestro-Honchoed Orchestra Performing a Riveting Symphony of Conservative Brilliance (It Will Be Difficult, But Please: We Ask that You Refrain from Applauding until the Conclusion of the Program)

1. David Harsanyi watches liberal hypocrites rewrite history as Tara Reade’s claims against Joe Biden upend #MeToo theology. From the analysis:

You can believe whomever you choose in the alleged sexual-misconduct cases of Joe Biden and Brett Kavanaugh, but you can’t revise history to erase your partisan double standards.

One of the most egregious examples of revisionism can be found in a column by the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg, who employs nearly every attack Americans were warned never to use against alleged sexual-assault victims during the Kavanaugh hearings — questioning their motivations, asking why they didn’t file charges, attacking them for not remembering specifics, etc. And yet, even if we adopt Goldberg’s new standards, Tara Reade still emerges as a more credible accuser than Christine Blasey Ford.

For starters, Ford was unable to offer a time or place or a single contemporaneous corroborating witness. Ford offered no evidence that she even knew Kavanaugh. Reade worked for Joe Biden. Reade has offered a specific time and place for the attack.

2. More MSM: Jim Geraghty hammers the Fifth Estate’s coronavirus failures. From the piece:

In short, this crisis has revealed that our largest and most influential media institutions are well-prepared to cover some stories but are barely able to cover others. Events in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles are covered the most, because the most media institutions are based there. Covering a story like the unprecedented disruptions to our food-supply chain requires paying attention to what’s going on in places such as Pasco, Wash., Logansport, Ind., and Waterloo, Iowa. The national media is much more interested in celebrity chefs than in where and how we produce the food we eat.

Cable-news networks really like covering a politician’s latest pronouncement and then having a roundtable of commentators argue about what he said. This is relatively cheap, easy, and quick. Donald Trump has been a godsend to cable news, because he’s always saying or tweeting something outrageous, and it is easy to find talking heads willing to declare his daily statements or actions the best or worst thing ever. American media institutions love stories about big personalities, and stories with binary conflicts, because those stories have an instinctual, visceral appeal for viewers.

3. Rich Lowry goes after the lockdown fanatics. From the column:

It’s difficult to remember, but flattening the curve was never supposed to be about eradicating the disease. A piece by the progressive website Vox featured a widely circulated version of the flattening-the-curve graph and noted that shutdown measures “aren’t so much about preventing illness, but rather slowing down the rate at which people get sick.”

A viral Medium piece published in mid-March famously called the period of lockdowns to squelch the disease “the Hammer” and the subsequent period of living with it “the Dance.” The article didn’t deny the seriousness of the disease; if anything, it was alarmist. Yet, by the standards of the current debate, the piece is unacceptably lax.

“The time needed for the Hammer,” it said, “is weeks, not months.” After that, it predicted, “our lives will go back close to normal.” And it contemplated living in a fuzzy realm of tradeoffs between important goals — or, as it put it, “a dance of measures between getting our lives back on track and spreading the disease, one of the economy vs. health care.”

Such an acknowledgment of the need to strike a balance between the economy and public health is now considered tantamount to murder.

4. The credentialed are having their day at the expense of those with common sense. Victor Davis Hanson challenges the wisdom of leaving the pandemic fight in the hands of the “experts.” From the essay:

Unfortunately, in the present crisis, we have listened more to the university modeler than to a numbers-crunching accountant. The latter may not understand Banach manifolds, but he at least knows you cannot rely on basic equations and formulas if your denominator is inaccurate and your numerator is sometimes equally unreliable.

It seems a simple matter that the small number of those testing positive for the virus simply could not represent all those who are infected with the contagion. Yet such obviousness did not stop modelers, experts, and political advisers from authoritatively lecturing America on the lethality and spread of COVID-19.

Internet coronavirus-meters feign scientific accuracy with their hourly streams of precise data. But those without degrees wondered why such metrics even listed China, whose data is fanciful, or why the number of  “cases” is listed when it hinges entirely on the hit-and-miss and idiosyncratic testing of various states and nations.

Throughout this crisis, there has been a litany of arrogance and ignorance. The FDA early on made a hubristic and disastrous decision to monopolize testing. Neither the WHO nor the CDC could get their stories straight on the wisdom or folly of wearing masks.

5. Congressman Frank Rooney says that the time to call out China for a myriad of abuses has been long a-coming. From the piece:

How can American business and government oppose China’s outsized influence? One way is to create new supply chains and reinforce existing ones with U.S. allies in Asia, and in the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Chinese leaders do not think that our leaders and businesses have the resolve to accept higher costs in a less efficient supply chain for imported products, and we need to call their bluff. Policymakers should create new incentives for businesses to reorient supply chains away from China and disincentives for companies to invest there. A “sovereignty tax” on American investment in China, reflecting the value that U.S. companies derive from U.S. sovereignty but the damage they are doing to our strategic position by investing there, could be an example. It is worth incurring higher costs to be strategically secure.

As the pandemic abates, the U.S. and our allies should clearly and openly call out the abuses that China has perpetrated on the Western world since its admission to the WTO. The mantra of accommodation to China to mollify the PRC and slowly integrate them into existing global trade relationships has failed — or, more precisely, has worked for China but no one else. China’s leaders are repressive, they violate trade norms, and they steal intellectual property. They project hegemonic power wherever they can. We need to develop a partnership with American, European, and Asian businesses and governments to bring China’s exploitation to an end.

6. Dan McLaughlin provides a drubbing of Max Boot for his latest foolishness, this time for his excuse-mongering for the pandemic manufacturers in Beijing. From the analysis:

Second, by suggesting that the U.S. government might owe “reparations” for sending Americans abroad in 1918, Boot completely ignores both the geopolitical and the medical contexts of the era. No matter what news arrived from Kansas, the absolute last thing that Georges Clemenceau would ever have requested in the spring of 1918 was a halt to shipping American soldiers to France. The French and British had bled their nations white fighting the Germans, who — finally freed of the need to devote huge numbers of troops to the Russian and Italian fronts — launched a massive offensive in March designed to be a knockout blow. With the manpower of the European combatants virtually exhausted — the same reason for shipping in Chinese labor — the arrival of a million Americans over the course of 1918 was seen as providential. The Americans played a key supporting role in stopping the German spring offensive, which was finally brought to an end by an outbreak of the Spanish flu among the German army, incapacitating nearly half a million men in June 1918. Americans played an even more important role in the Entente’s fall offensive that ended the war. France and Britain would have hazarded any risk of disease to keep the doughboys coming “over there.”

Moreover, morale-driven press censorship was at least as extensive in Britain, France, and Germany in 1918 as it was in the United States. The reason why news came from Spain was precisely that Spain was neutral in the war. The lack of honest public reckoning with the pandemic was pervasive and hardly limited to the United States.

7. Robert VerBruggen has had it with the coronavirus modeling that would have trouble predicting if the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. From the commentary:

When modeling epidemics, scientists typically try to simulate the way a virus spreads: exponentially at first, because each infected person interacts with many other vulnerable individuals, and then slowing down as the population either gains immunity or takes deliberate steps to reduce transmission. This process can be modeled in very general terms, or by simulating the specific interactions and infections of millions of people as the Imperial College COVID-19 model does. Either way, the result’s utility is limited by the fact that researchers had to make a bunch of assumptions to arrive at it. Exactly how quickly does the disease spread when left unchecked? How much do people reduce their interactions when advised or legally required to practice social distancing? Which types of interactions are most dangerous? Different answers to these questions can yield very different modeling results.

The IHME model was meant to sidestep that issue. Rather than re-creating the underlying processes through which a disease spreads, it looked at what had actually happened in other countries during this pandemic. It “fit a curve” connecting trends in the U.S. with trends in other places, showing us where we’d end up if things worked out the same way as they had for those places.

There were some hiccups almost immediately: Early IHME estimates were of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, but the number soon dropped to 80,000 and then even lower. As I pointed out at the time, at least some of these revisions were easily justified. The researchers were getting important new data — including death trends from countries whose pandemics had recently peaked and updated information about how many Americans were hospitalized for each death that occurred. Models should change when better information comes in. That’s how they’re calibrated to make better predictions in the future.

8. Madeline Kearns explores the thinking behind Joe Biden’s “A Woman” veep commitment. From the piece:

Biden needs not just A Woman, then, but a whole bunch of women who will abandon yesterday’s principles for today’s political convenience. Fortunately, the Democratic Party is full of such people. In a tweet, Reade wrote that “those who remain silent are complicit to rape” and tagged Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michelle Obama. Perhaps one of them will be Biden’s vice president.

This strategy might be received differently if Joe Biden were a Republican. Readers of National Review will remember that moment when Mitt Romney, during a 2012 presidential debate, was asked by questioner in the audience how he planned to “rectify the inequalities in the workplace.” He answered that, as governor of Massachusetts, when he was looking to fill his cabinet, he made a concerted effort to find female applicants. He went to a number of women’s groups for suggestions, and they gave him “whole binders full of women,” he added. What Romney obviously meant was that he had binders full of women’s résumés. In other words, as an employer, he had a personal history of taking affirmative action with respect to hiring women and promoting gender equality. But because he was a Republican, the media accused him of being patronizing and a misogynist.

But Joe Biden is a Democrat and the liberal media are behaving much like Farquaad’s magic mirror, presenting their own binders full of women. A recent NBC report highlights the “unique strengths and weaknesses” of the ladies who might be picked. Insultingly, Stacy Abrams’s strengths are listed purely as things she cannot control: skin color, age, place of birth, etc. Her weaknesses, on the other hand, relate to experience and suitability: “Abrams’ highest level of government service was as the minority leader in Georgia’s state House,” and she “hasn’t been vetted nationally.” Amy Klobuchar, meanwhile, is described as “a proven winner in Minnesota,” yet is cast off as “unlikely to galvanize minority or progressive voters” on account of her being white. Biden’s policies on gender equality are even more embarrassingly superficial. This week, he pledged to cut funding to the U.S. Soccer Federation if women are not paid as much as their male counterparts.

9. And yeah, writes Isaac Schorr, Elizabeth Warren would be a terrible Veep pick. From the piece:

As the past few months have made clear, Biden has won this argument in the minds of most Democratic voters. Despite his weak performances in the first three primary contests, he cruised to victory after victory, beginning in South Carolina, leaving both Warren and Sanders in the dust. In Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, Biden won with 33.6 percent of the vote. Warren took home the bronze trophy and 21.6 percent. Presidential-primary campaigns always include sniping between candidates, and often those candidates end up on a ticket together anyway. But why would Joe Biden — a 78-year-old man with significant health questions who won the Democratic nomination handily — select a former rival with a dearth of electoral accomplishments and a radically divergent outlook to serve as his vice president?

Warren’s base, wine-track female voters, are already going to come out to support Biden in droves. Despite her progressive politics, Warren’s supporters in the primary tended to be less ideologically motivated than Sanders’s and were attracted to her campaign because of her gender, her perceived wonkishness, and the obvious contrasts of her Harvard Law–professor status and personality with President Trump. Her voters showed up at the polls in 2018 to rebuke the president, and they are going to do so again in 2020 regardless of whom the Democratic Party chooses as its nominee.

10. Rupert Darwall attacks the Lefty-Green effort to bully American corporations into adopting the capitalism-killing Paris Agreement. From the analysis:

That timeline is now being used to bully American corporations into aligning their business strategies with the Paris agreement and force them to commit to eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. In fact, the text of the Paris agreement speaks of achieving a balance between anthropogenic sources and removals “in the second half of this century.” The net-zero target has no standing in American law or regulation. Net zero is not about a few tweaks here and there. It necessitates a top-down coercive revolution the likes of which have never been seen in any democracy. This is spelt out in the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, which might as well serve as a blueprint for the extinction of capitalism.

The IPCC makes no bones about viewing net zero, it says, as providing the opportunity for ‘intentional societal transformation.’ Limiting the rise to rise in global temperature to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — an ill-defined baseline chosen by the UN because the Industrial Revolution is our civilization’s original sin — requires ‘transformative systemic change’ and ‘very ambitious, internationally cooperative policy environments that transform both supply and demand.’

11. Sally Satel contends the disruption caused by the pandemic response may lead to a mental-health crisis, but offers sound advice to prevent a dire outcome. From the analysis:

We need to think clearly about whose needs are best met by mental-health professionals and whose suffering should be “treated” in other ways.

Under lockdown, basic mental hygiene will suffice for most: Get out of your pajamas each morning, keep a routine, and get ample sleep and exercise. Also connect, connect, and (virtually) connect with family and friends, and help others do the same. A bracing dose of Stoic philosophy is also in order, to remind us that “life is what our thoughts make of it,” as Marcus Aurelius understood.

Some need more than good advice to endure the pandemic, however. Mandated isolation can be an anxiety-provoking trial. To soften or avert a “social recession,” as former surgeon general Vivek Murthy recently called it in The Atlantic, neighbors must engage with isolated elderly or disabled people and assure them that they matter and belong and that they won’t go without material reserves.

12. R. Richard Geddes and Barry Strauss come down hard on American colleges who are suckling on the Beijing teat and providing cover for the brutal communist regime. From the commentary:

China has been ruthless in its quest to steal research, control information, and gain approval. It has distributed targeted funds to strategically selected academics in American universities (as seen in this year’s allegations at Harvard University and the University of Florida), established Confucius Institutes on campuses to spread Marxist ideas, and engaged in a global propaganda campaign — a sophisticated, data-driven effort, aided by a massive social-media blitz — to portray itself as a worldwide savior, rather than a state with a lot of explaining to do.

The denunciation of Communism is left to those viewed as unsophisticates, retrogrades, or even racists by many elites and academics. Criticizing the Chinese Communist regime should not be viewed as a criticism of its people, and Communism should not get a pass because people fear being called racist.

While the Chinese regime has been credited by some for bringing hundreds of millions of people up from poverty, the credit belongs to the Chinese people themselves, enterprising and hard-working as they are. The regime merely got out of the way after decades of disastrous social engineering. Oppression still exists, particularly for Uighurs, Tibetans, defenders of civil liberties in Hong Kong, and outspoken people everywhere in China.

13. Kyle Smith checks out the new Netflix documentary by and about Michelle Obama. He sees lots of tall tales. From the review:

Obama tells us in the movie of suffering racial discomfort around Princeton, where “I was one of a handful of minority students. It was the first time in my life where I stood out like that.” She reports in her memoir that Princeton’s student body was “less than nine percent black,” but, since blacks were 12 percent of the U.S. population, Princeton was fairly representative of the country as a whole. It was her mostly black neighborhood back home that was atypical.

That brings us to the smoking gun of the movie, the one story Obama has to offer of being indisputably the victim of a racist insult. While discussing her college years, she says, “I learned that one of my roommates moved out because her mother was horrified that I was black. She felt her daughter was in danger. I wasn’t prepared for that.” The story she tells in the memoir is different: She learned in 2008, via a newspaper interview with an ex-roommate, that the reason the girl had moved out was because of the racist mom. At Princeton, Michelle Robinson didn’t suspect the reason the roommate had moved out and was evidently unbothered about it: “I’m happy to say I had no idea why,” she writes.

14. And then there is that Palestinian problem . . . the one in the Lone Star State. Steve Presley and Robert D. Johnson report on how the Union Pacific Railroad is trying to break a long-term deal that will result in screwing over a Texas city. From the piece:

When Union Pacific railroad acquired MoPac in 1982, company executives were well-aware of the 1954 agreement and openly affirmed its validity. With Union Pacific’s much larger workforce, the percentage of its employees that had to be maintained in Palestine was much smaller, but otherwise the deal remained the same. In the decades that followed, Union Pacific repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the 1954 agreement, and the people of Palestine continued to rely on it in setting their city-planning and economic-development policies.

But then, last November, on the day before Thanksgiving, Union Pacific filed suit in federal court to have the 1954 agreement invalidated. It hopes, essentially, to take the money and run — to close up shop in Palestine, increasing its own profits by laying off scores of workers and leaving the community devastated.

This is no story of a railroad that has fallen on hard times. Union Pacific is one of the most profitable railroads in the world. At most, walking out on its obligations to Palestine will save it less money than some of its executives make in annual bonuses. But it does fit a larger pattern: Underneath the media’s radar, the company has been leaving one town after another reeling from sudden terminations and layoffs in the interest of its own bottom line. From St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri to Omaha and North Platte in Nebraska to the town of Hermiston in Oregon, Union Pacific has been terminating lifelong employees and union members for years.

15. More Kearns: She gives the rundown on coronavirus modeler Neil Ferguson, personification of the Expert Commandment, “do as I say not as I do.” From the piece:

All while lecturing the public on the importance of cooperating with nationwide house imprisonment, Ferguson was conducting an affair with his married lover, who travelled across London on multiple occasions to “visit” him. The timeline provided by The Telegraph, who broke the story, leaves little room for excuses. It shows that while Ferguson briefed the country to stay put, his lover, superbly cast as the 38-year-old Antonia Staats (get it?), a left-wing activist, was traveling to and fro between her husband, their kids, and her $2 million home for her quarantine rendezvous with her favorite government scientist. As if this story couldn’t get any more bourgeois, the husband apparently wasn’t bothered by this, because the couple have an “open marriage.” It is the kind of story the British press love. Hypocrisy, stupidity, and a brilliant distraction from more pressing (and depressing) matters.

Britain is currently in its seventh week of the lockdowns. In England and Wales, officials dispense a fine for breaking lockdown protocols every five minutes. Hypocrisy is the only remaining sin in secular Britain. Of course, the fact that Staats is married is neither here nor there. Brits no longer expect government officials and advisers to be faithful spouses. The infuriating part is that her first visit coincided with a public warning from Ferguson that lockdown measures were essential and would have to be prolonged. Meanwhile, her subsequent visits occurred after she had told friends that she suspected her husband had contracted COVID-19. Ferguson himself spent two weeks in “complete isolation,” having contracted coronavirus. So, here is a person instructing the country on how to live, in order to “save lives,” via the most draconian measures ever willingly tolerated in a liberal democracy, while flouting his own rules.

16. More McLaughlin: Dan expounds on the New York Times winning a Pulitzer Prize for its 1619 agitprop. From the essay:

Journalism and academia are supposed to honor, as their highest value, the fearless pursuit of truth. If you tried to parody the sad decline of prestige awards in those fields into an ideologically blinkered self-congratulatory echo chamber for progressive agitprop, it would be difficult to find a more on-the-nose example than the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times for commentary. Hannah-Jones was, according to the Pulitzer committee, honored for “a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”

“Deeply reported” is one way to describe an essay that required the Times to append a correction and a separate “Editor’s Note” regarding an incendiary assertion that was presented without factual support, and that resulted in Hannah-Jones’s eventually admitting, after seven months of defending the claim, scrambling to find scholarly support for it, and bitterly denouncing her critics in racial terms, that “in attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here.” One hesitates to think what the runners-up for the award looked like.

Technically, the Pulitzer is for Hannah-Jones’s lead essay in the 1619 Project, and not for her role as the self-described architect of the rest of the essay collection. So, we can set aside the errors ranging from American political history to basic economics that plagued other submissions and focus on the lead essay.

17. Armond White explains why the Hollywood of 2020 could never remake the classic movie Network. From the essay:

Network’s hysteria is irrelevant to today’s climate in which CBS, NBC, and ABC are more blatantly partisan than Chayefsky’s fictitious UBS. Fans of Network who cite the film as a cautionary tale ignore what really accounts for the film’s status: Chayefsky dared to bite the hand that fed him. He wasn’t aiming at some phantom ideology or faceless idiocy, even when putting down a generalized audience of boob-tube addicts. The satire is squarely aimed at powerful people who offended Chayefsky’s personal sense of morality following his early career during the 1950s, the original “golden age” of TV.

Instead of examining politics, the film aims at specific stereotypes — manic news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch), pompous network news producer Max Schumacher (William Holden), and rapacious entertainment producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway). They each represent figures made sacrosanct today, hypocrites who hide behind political correctness.

Another reason Network couldn’t be remade today is that these potentates know how to shield and defend themselves. No matter how much reality TV gluts the airwaves, we’re never shown what goes on behind the scenes of newsrooms. No one takes responsibility for the conspiracy theories that pass for mainstream media perspective — one person’s truth, another person’s “fake news.” Recall the media uproar when Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell depicted a newspaper reporter in the style of Dunaway’s Christensen, and then remember the shallow, vengeful harridans of last year’s Bombshell. The masters of media — this would include the contemptuous, censorious hipsters of Silicon Valley — do not allow criticism.

18. More Armond: He compares the flick industry’s take on First Ladies. It’s Melania vs. Michelle, and here’s a slice of the review:

Somebody at Channel 13, New York’s liberal-biased public-television channel, must have been asleep at the switch when the station recently broadcast the politically tinged rom-com Ladies in Black. It’s a movie about fashion, femininity, and courage and consequently the first film release that acknowledges Melania Trump and her unique role as our country’s first immigrant first lady since Louisa Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams.

The American premiere of Ladies in Black, a 2018 Australian film by Bruce Beresford that never opened in U.S. theaters, matched public television’s frequent emphasis on immigrant experience and female empowerment. Based on Australian writer Madeleine St. John’s 1993 novel about saleswomen working at Goode’s high-end clothes emporium in 1950s Sydney, it prominently features a character — Slovenian refugee and fashion habitué Magda, played by Julia Ormond — who brings kindliness, self-assurance, and taste to her new country, just as Melania Trump has distinctly shown. In this context, Magda edges past public television’s stubborn liberal partisanship to reflect the emigrant optimism and style that has been marginalized by mainstream media.

Programming this film had to be an accident, given the political preferences of the cultural gatekeepers in left-of-Lenin New York. But it’s a happy accident that counters the deification of former first lady Michelle Obama in Netflix’s new documentary memoir Becoming, a lesser, openly propagandistic film made, strangely, in an aggressive PBS mode.

The contrast of these two movies pinpoints the media’s failure to be fair and balanced about these two first ladies.

19. Brian Allen goads the Texas museum leaders who are proving fearful of opening their doors to the great unwashed and undisinfected. From the beginning of the piece:

The governor of Texas says museums there “can” open again, but some are dragging their feet. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, and the big museums in San Antonio want weeks, maybe even months more, before they start serving the public again.

They’re waiting for all the experts, every last one of them, and everyone’s Ouija board to agree that opening is totally, absolutely safe, but life doesn’t work that way. Life’s a risky business, but they’re catering to all the alumni of Safe Space U among their staff. Where’s the Alamo spirit?

“We’ll reopen when and if it seems safe to reopen incrementally,” Contemporary Austin announced. “When and if?” Do they think they might stay closed until there’s not a coronavirus left on the planet? If they do, they’re no longer a public institution. Rather, they are an art warehouse and don’t deserve a not-for-profit tax exemption.

20. More Kyle, who finds not one, not two, but three ways to consider Dog Day Afternoon. From the essay:

Dog Day Afternoon is possibly the most perfect entry among the dozens of great gritty Seventies movies that provided me with a durable memory library of cinematic brilliance. (It’s streaming on the TCM app through May 10.) Al Pacino’s Sonny is the scion of a long line of antiheroes reaching back to Paul Muni’s James Allen, who explains, heartbreakingly, “I steal” at the end of 1932’s I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, a film that showed us why he stole, with great tender sympathy for the plight of criminals. Sonny has a touch of Warren Beatty’s cute confusion —“Hey!” is his last word, one shirttail hanging out, one lens missing from his sunglasses — before Clyde Barrow gets gunned down without a word of warning by a hidden squad of cowardly riflemen at the end of Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Too, Sonny exhibits some of the shamelessness and peacockery of ultra-criminal Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange (1971), whose felonious acts are an assertion of human free will. All of these are Warner Bros. productions, the crime movies that plumbed the humanity of malefactors.

Sonny was also one of the lone, usually doomed truthtellers who fight the system — director Sidney Lumet’s great subject, from Twelve Angry Men (1957) to Serpico (1973), Network (1976), Prince of the City (1981), and The Verdict (1982). That’s how Lumet guides the audience to consider the situation, anyway: His and Pacino’s Sonny (who in real life was named John Wojtowicz) is an adorable, sensitive soul who obviously means no harm. Who among us has not fretted over how to pay for his lover’s sex-change operation and been forced to rob a bank as the only available means of funding? Sonny gets harangued by his shrewish wife, pleads for calm from his histrionic boyfriend, and sadly informs his moronic junior partner that “Wyoming” is not a country. These scenes go beyond humanizing Sonny. We actually love the poor guy and want him to survive his nutty ordeal. Don’t cops do a lot of awful things too, by the way? Attica! How exhilarating to side with the rebels.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Alexandra discuss Joe Biden’s response to the Tara Reade allegations, the unfair media coverage of Florida’s handling of the lockdown, and whether or not we’ll have a baseball season. Batter up!

2. And then on a special edition of The Editors, Rich and Oren Cass discuss his new group, American Compass. Learn about it here.

3. And then on yet another edition (#214!) of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Luke discuss Biden and Trump’s presidential chances and Betsy DeVos’s recent Title IX revisions. You’ll want to listen, and you can do that here.

4. On the new episode of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the Scope memo, the House Intelligence Committee transcripts, and wrap up some Flynn items from last week. Wisdom’s in session, here.

5. On The Great Books, John J. Miller and Rhodes College prof Scott Newstok discuss the Sonnets of one Bill Shakespeare. Lend us your ears, here.

6. On The Bookmonger, JJM is joined by David Ignatius to talk about his new spy novel, The Paladin. Prepare your decryption devices and then eavesdrop here.

7. On Episode 14 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, VDH discusses the war between the credentialed class and the folks with practical experience, the love affair between America businesses and Communist China, the free-speech angle to college undergrads opting for victimhood status, the misguided panacea of coronavirus testing, and putting Joe Biden’s veepstakes in historical context. All properly credentialed conservatives may listen here.

8. On the new episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss a ridiculous criticism of National Review and Betsy DeVos’s Title IX reform. Do catch it here.

9. At Radio Free California, David and Will consider how tough-talking Gavin Newsom bows to popular pressure to ease the lockdown. And then they discuss the progressive warning — that emergency orders to shrink the prison population, house the homeless, and hand out free laptops are their proof of concept for future governance. All that and more can be heard here.

The Six

1. David Goldman’s lead essay in the new issue of Claremont Review of Books puts China at the top of the “U.S. Threats” list. From the essay:

The past year was a watershed. As matters stand the United States will be overtaken by China in the next several years. China is developing its own intellectual property in key areas. Some of it is better than ours—in artificial intelligence, telecommunications, cryptography, and electronic warfare. In other key fields like quantum computing—possibly the holy grail of 21st-century technology—it’s hard to tell who’s winning, but China is outspending us by a huge margin.

China’s first great multinational company, Huawei, is rolling out fifth generation (5G) mobile broadband across the whole of Eurasia, from Vladivostok, Russia to Bristol, England, despite a full-court press by the Trump Administration to stop it. In January 2020 Great Britain—America’s closest ally—brushed off Trump’s personal intervention and allowed Huawei to build part of Britain’s 5G network. The European Community announced it would take no measures to exclude the Chinese giant. Washington tried to strangle Huawei by slapping export controls on U.S. components for 5G equipment and smartphones, only to see Huawei continue expanding using Asian components while achieving self-sufficiency in chip production.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich deplored this as “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.” At stake are not only the sinews of the new industrial age, but scores of spinoff applications that will transform manufacturing, mining, health care, finance, transportation, and retailing—virtually the entirety of economic life—in what China calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

2. Also in the CRB, Christopher Caldwell makes mincemeat of the idea of dual citizenship. From the essay:

Political theorists used to think dual citizenship a dangerous thing because it presents occasions for dual loyalty and erodes the social compact on which all citizens’ rights depend. Under the newer understanding, that’s a feature rather than a bug. We live in an interconnected global economy in which we’re supposed to have multiple loyalties. Rights are human rights—no national authority need assert them.

There will always be a use for dual citizenship, especially in dealing with children of international marriages. But the old understanding was more right than wrong. The transformation from national citizens’ rights to universal human rights does divide loyalties and corrode sovereignties. On top of that, we are beginning to notice practical problems with mass dual citizenship that were hardly considered at all when we began dispensing it liberally at the sunny outset of the civil rights era.

Dual citizenship undermines equal citizenship, producing a regime of constitutional haves and have-nots. The dual citizen has, at certain important moments and in certain important contexts, the right to choose the regime under which he lives. He can avoid military conscription, duck taxes, and flee prosecution. When Spain, as coronavirus cases spiked in mid-March, banned all movement outside the home except for designated purposes, one of those purposes was to “return to your habitual place of residence.” A Spaniard with citizenship in a second country thus had the constitutional privilege of exempting himself from a nationwide lockdown in a way that his fellow Spaniard did not. Such special privileges do not often matter—but when they do, they matter in a life-or-death way.

You would have to be a very provincial person not to see that the problems traditionally associated with loyalty to two countries can become quite severe. A classic articulation of this worry was the Supreme Court dissent by Justice Melville Fuller in United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898. That case established so-called “birthright citizenship”—the understanding, controversial in many quarters, that the 14th Amendment grants citizenship for all people born on American soil. . . .

3. Galling: At Gatestone Institute, Petra Heldt smotes the Danish Bible Society, which publishes a rump edition of the Holy Book that frequently drops the word “Israel.” From the article:

It is difficult not to see an intentional technique that eliminates the homeland of Israel and replaces it with a home for others; and that replaces the God of Israel with the God of you.

Unlike the Bible Society of Israel presentation, the Danish Bible Society statement of April 22 exemplifies a crafty method of misleading the reader. It seems simply a further example of its technique of distortion.

The Danish Bible Society statement comes with the headline, “Fake news about the Danish Bible.” The subheading reads:

“Is the word ‘Israel’ omitted from the Contemporary Danish Bible 2020? Get your facts straight with this Q&A so you can identify the fake news.”

This sets the tone for the Danish Bible Society’s rejection of the international outcry against its version of the Bible. The Danish Bible Society seems to regard the international outcry as a gross injustice.

The Danish Bible Society, disagreeing with those who criticized it for eliminating Israel from its Bible 2020, did not “take measures to correct” its mistranslations. Instead, the Danish Bible Society doubled down and insisted upon its bowdlerization.

4. At The College Fix, Kyle Hooten reports on GOP congressional efforts to investigate the level of ChiCom influence at U.S. universities and colleges. From the article:

The lawmakers in the memo ask for the documents to be provided by May 11, as well as a staff-level briefing on the matter, noting the Committee on Oversight and Reform “has broad authority to investigate ‘any matter’ at ‘any time’ under House Rule X.”

The other six Republican lawmakers who signed on to the memo are: Virginia Foxx, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and Labor; Mac Thornberry, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Mike Rogers, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security; Frank Lucas, ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a news release, Thornberry cited his concerns over China obtaining sensitive information through institutions doing research with the Department of Defense. Foxx noted that “China is now attempting to suppress academic research into the origins of the pandemic.”

5. At Commentary, Christine Rosen broils Red China’s U.S. media lackeys. From the piece:

In the past few months, many journalists have covered the coronavirus pandemic with rigor and integrity. One early warning about the danger of trusting China and the World Health Organization came in February in a well-reported piece by Jeremy Page and Betsy McKay in the Wall Street Journal. And reporters and pundits are correct to criticize the Trump administration’s inconsistent and often shambolic response to the pandemic. Even so, we must not allow the glaring blind spots in the mainstream media’s coverage of the virus in the preceding months to disappear down a convenient memory hole—in particular, their credulous approach to China and their lack of rigor in examining Chinese influence on the WHO.

From the beginning, the WHO’s statements about the emerging virus read more like Chinese propaganda than global health recommendations. On January 30, for example, when WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus finally acknowledged that the virus posed a global health emergency, he made sure to note that “this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China.” To the contrary, he added: “The WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.” Just a day earlier, other WHO officials praised China’s Xi Jinping for helping “prevent the spread of the virus to other countries,” even though by that point WHO officials knew the virus had already appeared in at least 18 other nations. And yet, with the exception of the Wall Street Journal’s report, it’s difficult to find anyone in the mainstream media who didn’t take WHO largely at its word.

Or consider the media’s approach to the numbers, which are the main story of any pandemic. Without accurate data, it is nearly impossible to get a handle on the scope and scale of a global public health crisis. And yet, from the beginning, China withheld information, silenced internal whistleblowers, and engaged in a concerted effort to stifle bad news about the pandemic.

6. At The Critic, Toby Young nails the arrogance better known as Neil Ferguson, pandemic modeler and horndog. From the piece:

More often than not, the “solutions” these left-leaning experts come up with make the problems they’re grappling with even worse, and so it will prove to be in this case. The evidence mounts on a daily basis that locking down whole populations in the hope of “flattening the curve” was a catastrophic error, perhaps the worst policy mistake ever committed by Western governments during peacetime. Just yesterday we learnt that the lockdowns have forced countries across the world to shut down TB treatment programmes which, over the next five years, could lead to 6.3 million additional cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths. There are so many stories like this it’s impossible to keep track. We will soon be able to say with something approaching certainty that the cure has been worse than the disease.

Neil Ferguson isn’t single-handedly responsible for this world-historical blunder, but he does bear some responsibility. His apocalyptic predictions frightened the British Government into imposing a full lockdown, with other governments quickly following suit. And I’m afraid he’s absolutely typical of the breed. He suffers from the same fundamental arrogance that progressive interventionists have exhibited since at least the middle of the 18th Century – wildly over-estimating the good that governments can do, assuming there are no limits to what “science” can achieve and, at the same time, ignoring the empirical evidence that their ambitious public programmes are a complete disaster. At bottom, they believe that nature itself can be bent to man’s will.

BONUS: Also in CRB, the great Daniel J. Mahoney considers Helena Rosenblatt’s The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century. From the review:

To be sure, Rosenblatt recognizes that liberalism has an important pre-history. She has intelligent things to say about liberalitas, the “noble and generous way of thinking and acting toward one’s fellow citizens” that defined liberality for Cicero and the most thoughtful Romans. And she is not wrong that this understanding of liberality has an aristocratic tinge but is nevertheless necessary for civilized life, even in modern times. Yet her rather arbitrary starting point ignores the crucial roles of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke in liberalism’s development. Like many intellectual historians, she fails to see how Hobbes designed the architecture of the liberal order: the state and civil society, the primacy of individual rights, an account of appetite and desire central to modern political economy, a marked suspicion of revealed religion, and, of course, the foundational “state of nature” he invented to radically account for human origins and obligations. If Rosenblatt read Michael Oakeshott, Leo Strauss, or Bertrand de Jouvenel with care, she would see how Hobbes’s thought points toward liberalism and not authoritarianism or totalitarianism. (Whether it provides an adequate moral foundation for a liberal order is another question. I have my doubts.)

As for Locke, Rosenblatt reads him as Hobbes’s opposite. She links him to Ciceronian or classical liberality—a stretch—and writes he was convinced “[m]en in a state of nature were capable of knowing and following a moral law.” This is a far too conventional rendering of Locke’s truly audacious moral and political reflection. To begin, there is no moral law for Locke—morality is the product of “mixed modes,” constructed by human beings. Even the notion of “murder” is a linguistic construction rather than a prohibition rooted in divine or natural law. And because he jettisons the classical Christian notion of “substance,” it is very difficult to know who precisely is this being with rights (and, Locke acknowledges reluctantly, some accompanying obligations and duties).

DOUBLE BONUS: Brad Birzer at Spirit of Cecilia channels Alexander Solzhenitsyn and recounts his 10 rules of totalitarianism. We share Numbers 8 and 9 from the list:

8. Lies. “The permanent lie becomes the only safe form of existence, in the same way as betrayal. Every wag of the tongue can be overheard by someone, every facial expression observed by someone. Therefore every word, if it does not have to be a direct lie, is nonetheless obliged not to contradict the general, common lie. There exists a collection of ready-made phrases, of labels, a selection of ready-made lies.

9. Cruelty. “And where among all the preceding qualities was there any place left for kindheartedness? How could one possibility preserve one’s kindness while pushing away the hands of those who were drowning? Once you have been steeped in blood, you can only become more cruel. . . . And when you add that kindness was ridiculed, that pity was ridiculed, that mercy was ridiculed—you’d never be able to chain all those who were drunk on blood.”

TRIPLE BONUS: Gene Z sent this and believes it deserves attention, and you know what? Gene is right. So James Hartley’s Public Discourse essay encouraging renewed efforts at fusionism between social conservatives and libertarians — set before the backdrop of the American Compass launch — merits your attention. From the piece:

While not all of the problems identified by American Compass are economic problems, some are. Restricting our attention to those issues, what do we find? To crystallize the issues, let’s start with a story. Mr. Botts owns a bookstore in a small town. Ever since he was young, he wanted to own a bookstore; he loves his bookstore; his customers love his bookstore. Everything is wonderful. Then one day a new person comes into town and opens a brand new bookstore. Let’s call him Mr. Bezos. This new bookstore has a larger variety of books for sale than Mr. Botts ever had. Also, this new bookstore sells every single book at a lower price than over at Mr. Botts’s store. And, to top it all off, Mr. Bezos will deliver every book you buy to your home within two days, with no delivery charge.

You live in this town. You like Mr. Botts and his bookstore. When Mr. Bezos opens his store, do you have a moral obligation to continue to pay the higher prices over at Mr. Botts’s store? Are you committing a moral wrong to decide to give your business to Mr. Bezos? Remember, if you and the other people in your town do not continue to shop at Mr. Botts’s store, it will close, and Mr. Botts will lose his job that he loves and that gave him purpose and meaning in his life. That is not an easy question to answer. It gets worse when you discover that Mr. Walton also came to town selling everything at a lower price than all the other little shops in town had been charging. What do you owe to all these people in your town who are about to lose the jobs they love? Suppose it would cost you an extra $20 a year to allow Mr. Botts to stay in business. Even a minimal charitable impulse would convince someone to spend that much to keep this friend and neighbor from losing the ability to work at the job that brings him so much pleasure.

Baseballery

If there were ever a baseball manager who had an impossible task, it was James Thompson “Doc” Protho, the one-time dentist and third baseman who, come the late 1930s, found himself at the helm of one the consistently worst MLB franchises, the Philadelphia Phillies. From 1933 to 1945, the Phillies had a lock on seventh or eighth place — usually the latter — in the National League basement, including five consecutive seasons with 100 or more losses.

The 1938 squad was one of those disasters, chalking up a 45–105 record and trailing the World Series–bound Chicago Cubs by 43 games (and the seventh place Brooklyn Dodgers by 24 ½ games). Protho — who had had a decent stint managing in the minors — believed he could inspire the hapless, talent-free squad. It was not to be.

In 1939, the team was even worse than it was the year prior, sporting a 45–106 record. Its pitching staff included Max Butcher (who had a 2–13 record), Ike Pearson (ditto), and Al Hollingsworth (1–9). In 1940, the was miniscule improvement as the Phillies were 50–103, trailing the first-place Reds by 50 games. Talent remained sparse. And Pearson again proved symbolic, with a 3–14 record.

And then came 1941, and Protho’s Phillies put up some of the worst numbers in NL history: a 43–111 record and seven pitchers with double-digit losses. They were shut out 22 times, and in one five-game stretch in June the Phillies lost 5–0, 3–0, 3–2, 3–0, and 6–0. Pearson pulled a 4–14 record on the year. (His MLB career record, 13–50, is one of the worst ever, but Pearson did serve as a Marine Captain in WW2, so mockery is not permitted.)

After the three-year stint, Protho was done. Back to the minors he went to manage the Memphis Chicksaws for a number of years.

Of note: In 1942, hoping a name change and a new manager would reverse their sorry fortunes, the re-tagged “Phils” (they’d be the “Blue Jays” in 1944–45) under new manager Hans Lobert could only muster a 42–109 record.

Of additional note: The one masochistic man to play for the Phillies and Phils and Blue Jays throughout this stretch was future Hall of Famer Chuck Klein.

Before We Part

Our pal Amity Shlaes’ book, Great Society: A New History, has been out a few months, and has registered a slew of excellent reviews, including this recent one in NR by Fred Siegel. You really should have it. A few weeks back, Peter Robinson hosted an excellent Uncommon Knowledge interview with Amity about the book. You can watch it here. And you will find the book’s Amazon link here.

A tidbit: Here’s a slice from Amity’s Introduction to her book (the Harrington she refers to is Michael, the great liberal agitator of the early 1960s and author of the then-bestselling and consequential book The Other America):

There were not many self- described socialists in the country in the early 1960s. The Young People’s Socialist League, the premier socialist youth group, was reporting a doubling in membership across the colleges, but that increase was merely from four hundred to eight hundred members. Still, socialists such as Harrington were far from alone in their insistence on transcendent change. Many Americans ached to make American society over, whether by tinkering or rebuilding, in the name of improving life for all. In the early 1960s the groups that nursed this ambition were diverse. They were university students who hoped to fashion their own utopia— Harrington worked with a new group called Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. There were union chiefs who sought explicitly to re-create the culture and benefits of socialism like that of Northern Europe, not just for union members, but also for the nation at large. There were government officials such as Shriver who believed the right president could indeed lead the country in epic reform. There were engineers who envisioned transformation through technology. There were businesses that thought great corporations would lead in raising the standard of living for all. Typical was General Electric, whose motto was “Progress is our most important product.” There were factory workers whose lives had improved in the 1960s and who hoped to finally make it into the middle class by the 1970s. There were priests, ministers, and rabbis who sought collective spiritual renewal in aspects of life far beyond their pulpits. There were civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, who dreamed of a time when race would no longer matter.

Most Americans shared something else with Harrington: confidence. In the 1930s, the New Deal had failed to reduce unemployment. The prolonged periods of joblessness were what had made the Depression “Great.” But the memory of the New Deal failure had faded just enough that younger people liked the sound of the term. And memories of more recent success fueled Americans’ current ambition. Many men were veterans. They had been among the victorious forces that rolled across Europe and occupied Japan at the end of World War II. Compared with overcoming a Great Depression, or conquering Europe and Japan, eliminating poverty or racial discrimination had to be easy. American society was already so good. To take it to great would be a mere “mopping up action,” as Norman Podhoretz, who had served in Europe, put it.

Underlying the new American ambition was dissatisfaction with the pace of projects that had been launched in the 1950s: civil rights law that had not desegregated train stations or schools, the construction of the interstate highways that didn’t seem to help the poor, urban renewal funding that could not meet the needs of all. Now the country wanted more, faster. In the 1960s America sensed “the fierce urgency of now,” as King put it. The Magic of Thinking Big was the title of a popular self- help book. Americans wanted to see change that blasted like a space rocket. The country had to use its power to do something superlative. This good society had to become, in the words of President Johnson, a Great Society.

A Dios

The request for prayers, made in our last number, for a young man suffering from Stage Four cancer are humbly renewed and deeply appreciated. Meanwhile the padre asked Your Sinful Correspondent again to a private Mass this week, if only to discuss afterwards the parish’s closing in 2021, the church itself (a place where an actual miracle occurred) to be locked, its fate unknown. Will we be grateful if it perhaps be used on occasion to host funerals of the dearly departed? Lament as we might, it’s hard to keep open the doors when vocations are stymied and the once-faithful convince themselves that Sunday’s obligation is now to sleep in. Ah, well — God will have to fix this, and plenty of other stuff too. If only we would ask. Oremus.

The Creator’s Copious Blessings and Graces on You and All His Sheep, Lost or Not,

Jack Fowler, who awaits electronic face-slaps directed via jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

No There There

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

“Young man, you are being selfish!” Your Rebuked Scribbler can still hear the admonition of Mrs. K — (Kindergarten, 1966, P.S. 19, Katonah Avenue, The Bronx) ringing more than half a century later. Had Little Boy Correspondent asked one time too many for her to play Funny Frankie Fireman? Probably. And she may have been on to something, because Portly Old Correspondent still demands attention. So be it: We abuse the privilege of the outset of this number to ask you to listen to the Victor Davis Hanson Podcast and if you like what you hear, which we assume you will, to then subscribe to it, and if your choose to rate it on iTunes, to consider a 5-star rating, as Victor’s perma-brilliance negates any dull-wittedness of his babbling cohost. Here is the podcast’s home page.

Elsewhere, see below, on The Flynn Affair, Andy McCarthy (in print and in podcast) lets loose with analyses of crimes having been committed, likely, but by politicized G Men.

Elsewhere Elsewhere: This is being typed with fingers wet from tears. Kat Timpf leaves us to go full-time Fox. From her final NR piece:

I will forever be thankful for National Review — not only because I know that I personally wouldn’t be where I am without it, but also because of what it adds to our country’s discourse as a whole. After all, the character and integrity that I witnessed on a personal level as an employee is also reflected externally in the publication’s content.

National Review is a “conservative” magazine, sure — but the varying viewpoints that it publishes prove that it’s committed to principles over partisanship. National Review is a place where writers value truth over politics. They use logic to come to their honestly sought conclusions, rather than twisting it to fit a cookie-cutter preconceived narrative. I’m honored to have been a part of it, and I promise to approach all of my future work in the same way.

Speaking of my future, I am beyond thrilled for the new opportunities in this next chapter of my career. I hope that all of you who have enjoyed reading me here (thank you!) will continue to read my columns at FoxNews.com. (If you didn’t enjoy reading me here, but still sometimes felt compelled to do so just to tell me how much you hated it, feel free to keep that going, too.)

Thanks again, so much, NR. Thank you for taking a chance on me, for supporting me, for letting me use my desk area at the old office as some kind of bizarre storage unit — for everything.

Good-bye you sweet thing. Now wipe them tears Fatso and let these wonderful people enjoy the copiousity of the WJ!

But First . . .

. . . if you’ve yet to become an NRPLUS member, how about you fix that, right now? Sign up here.

Editorials

1. The #MeToo-propagating / Kavanaugh-detesting MSM’s deliberate ignorance of Tara Reade’s charges against Joe Biden get called out. From the editorial:

Given that the evidence is stronger in this case than it was in Kavanaugh’s — we know, at least, that the accuser and accused have met — we must ask why the same rules are not being applied in this instance. Joe Biden is hoping to be president of the United States. Might not a “cloud” follow him around, too? Biden has not only denied the charges categorically, but he has demanded that the press “diligently review” and “rigorously vet” them. What, when compared to his “I believe you” mantra, should this tell us about his character? Is a presidential election not a “job interview,” too? And if, as was the case in 2018, the venue of the alleged assault tells us a great deal about the likelihood of its veracity, might we expect to read a slate of pieces outlining what it was like to be a female intern in the Senate in the early 1990s?

We are of the same view today as we were in 2018, and as we were before that. We believe that sexual assault is a hideous crime and that we should punish only people who are guilty of it. It is monstrous when the perpetrators of evil get away with their acts. But it is also monstrous when the innocent lose their good names. Our preference for due process derives from a desire to avoid either outcome.

More practically, we believe that our political system itself benefits strongly from the presumption of innocence. If the mere introduction of an accusation is sufficient to prompt a candidate’s withdrawal, the incentives for false charges will grow legion. Joe Biden is a hypocrite and an opportunist, but that is no reason to treat him any differently than we would treat anybody else. If he has truly changed his mind on this most important of questions, we welcome him into the fold. As Biden now argues, Tara Reade’s accusations should be “respectfully heard” and “rigorously vetted.” And, if the evidence does not rise to the level, the man at whom they are aimed should be assumed not guilty. But we will not get to that point with one side throwing a blanket over the story and muttering, “well, this time he’s one of ours.”

2. And so the initial, sporadic, minimal lockdown exits have begun. Bueno, we say, in addition to other things. From the editorial:

On the other side of the ledger, the lockdowns have been too geographically sweeping. Not only are the states of our union vastly different, so are areas within states. There is no reason for rural areas of New York and Michigan, where many counties have a couple of dozen cases or fewer, to be subject to the same restrictions as New York City and Detroit. Likewise, statewide prohibitions on elective surgeries have, perversely, emptied hospital beds and idled medical workers in places that have had no COVID-19 surge. (The iconic Mayo Clinic has furloughed 30,000 staff members.) These procedures, often for serious illnesses such as cancer, need to resume.

Overall, it’s impossible to exaggerate the economic cost of the lockdowns, which have brought on a steep recession that we will probably spend years digging out of. This is why impatience to reopen is an entirely understandable sentiment, even if it is treated by much of the media as heretical. A balance obviously has to be struck. Much economic activity disappeared when people decided, on their own, to change their habits in response to the epidemic. Consumers won’t come back in full force until they believe the pathogen is under control. But we can’t stay locked down until the virus is entirely vanquished, or we will have destroyed the country to save it.

3. Own it, de Blasio! From the editorial:

Ignoring the advice and recommendations of the relevant experts in order to tend to his political concerns, Mayor de Blasio effectively became a member of that class of villain most hated by his progressive allies: a denier. His refusal to concede the facts and his desire to subordinate good policy to political expediency were compounded by his general executive incompetence, for instance in leaving city agencies without necessary guidance for implementing work-from-home policies. He insisted that the city’s hospitals were well prepared for the crisis; the actual situation in the city’s public hospitals was shortly thereafter described as “apocalyptic” by one physician.

De Blasio did manage to name his wife as head of a coronavirus-recovery panel. He always has time for that sort of thing. Mrs. de Blasio is fresh off of watching $1 billion walk out the door while overseeing a fruitless mental-health initiative. She has time on her hands and is rumored to be considering a run for elected office herself.

De Blasio moved with much less dispatch than did colleagues in California and Ohio, among other places. And then, after dawdling for so long, de Blasio flipped. We always are happy to see a politician amend his views to accommodate new facts, but Slowpoke de Blasio’s subsequent overcompensation, and the sanctimony and viciousness he brings to the effort, is something else.

De Blasio launched a broadside against “the Jewish community” after a large crowd turned out for a rabbi’s funeral in Williamsburg as though the event corporately implicated the more than 1 million Jews living in New York City, drawing criticism from the city’s ADL and other local Jewish leaders.

High-Calorie and Nutritious National Review Intellectual Goodness Awaits, But Remember to Chew Each Piece 32 Times

1. Andy McCarthy laid it out in his smashing book, Ball of Collusion: General Michael Flynn was set up. From the beginning of the excerpt:

Could anything have made the Obama administration giddier than the prospect of making a criminal case on Michael Flynn?

Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general, who made his mark on modern insurgent warfare by helping revolutionize the rapid dissemination of battlefield intelligence. He was promoted by President Obama to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is also a headstrong man who got himself on Obama’s bad side by questioning counterterrorism strategy, particularly the administration’s weakness on Iran. He was detested by Obama political and national-security officials for calling them out on politicizing intelligence. The FBI was not a fan, least of all Deputy Director Andy McCabe, because Flynn had supported an agent who claimed the Bureau had subjected her to sex discrimination.

After Obama fired him from the DIA post, Flynn became an important Trump-campaign surrogate, which gave him a national media platform from which to rip Obama’s foreign policy. When Trump won the election, Obama counseled him against tapping Flynn for a top administration job. Trump ignored the advice, naming Flynn his national-security advisor. Flynn worked on the Trump transition and incensed Obama officials by lobbying against a U.N. resolution against Israel that the Obama administration, in its profiles-in-courage style, orchestrated and then abstained from voting on. The collusion narrative notwithstanding, Russia rebuffed Trump’s entreaties on the Israel resolution.

2. More Andy: He analyses the explosive revelations in the government’s shoddy case against General Flynn. From the analysis:

This goes to the point I’ve been pressing for years. There was no good-faith basis for an investigation of General Flynn. Under federal law, a false statement made to investigators is not actionable unless it is material. That means it must be pertinent to a matter that is properly under investigation. If the FBI did not have a legitimate investigative basis to interview Flynn, then that fact should have been disclosed as exculpatory information. It would have enabled his counsel to argue that any inaccurate statements he made were immaterial.

And that is far from the end of the matter.

As I’ve noted several times over the years, it has long been speculated that Flynn — though he did not believe he was guilty (and though the agents who interviewed him also did not believe he had intentionally misled them) — nevertheless pled guilty to false-statements charges because prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff threatened him. Specifically, Flynn is said to have been warned that, if he refused to plead guilty, prosecutors would charge his son with a felony for failing to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Such a so-called FARA violation (Foreign Agent Registration Act) is a crime that the DOJ almost never charged before the Mueller investigation, and it had dubious application to Flynn’s son (who worked for Flynn’s private-intelligence firm).

3. Even More Andy: It was a political perjury trap, and Flynn needed to be caught in it, if its perpetrators were to snag the big Prize, POTUS. From the beginning of the piece:

Michael Flynn was not the objective. He was the obstacle.

Once you grasp that fundamental fact, it becomes easier to understand the latest disclosures the Justice Department made in the Flynn case on Thursday. They are the most important revelations to date about the FBI’s Trump–Russia investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane.

The new disclosures, in conjunction with all we have learned in the last week, answer the all-important why question: Why was Flynn set up?

The answer to the what question has been clear for a long time: The FBI set a perjury trap for Flynn, hoping to lure him into misstatements that the bureau could portray as lies. In the frenzied political climate of the time, that would have been enough to get him removed from his new position as national security adviser (NSA), perhaps even to prosecute him. On that score, the new disclosures, startling as they are to read, just elucidate what was already obvious.

But why did they do it? That has been the baffling question. Oh, there have been plenty of indications that the Obama administration could not abide Flynn. The White House and the intelligence agencies had their reasons, mostly vindictive. But while that may explain their gleefulness over his fall from grace, it has never been a satisfying explanation for the extraordinary measures the FBI took to orchestrate that fall.

4. Therese Shaheen recounts the ugly realities of Chicom chauvinism and its perspective on the rest of the world’s peoples. From the analysis:

That said, there is a quality to the pattern of behavior in the PRC that transcends ethnicity. Chinese racial discrimination is horrifying in its own right, of course. But it also suggests a farther-reaching chauvinism that is emerging as the defining characteristic of the Xi era.

Han Chinese make up the same percentage of the population in Hong Kong as on the mainland, and are 97 percent of the population in Taiwan. Neither Hong Kongers nor Taiwanese have suffered any less at Xi’s hands for that. Nor, for that matter, have the 400 million mostly Han Chinese living on less than $5 a day in the country outside China’s megacities, who face vicious discrimination from urban elites.

In some ways, the gulf between the rich in China’s cities and the poor in its rural areas has been institutionalized through the longstanding “hukou” system of internal registration, which hampers movement between regions and creates what amounts to an economic caste system. While Xi has made hukou reform a priority in order to create greater opportunity for urban migration and prosperity, the system continues to reinforce the divide between urban haves and rural have-nots. As the former become wealthier and more global in their perspective, the disdain they frequently show for those who are different — whether from Africa or rural China — is becoming more pronounced.

5. Scooter Libby sizes up the threat of Red China and its Mao-fascinated leader, Xi Jinping. From the essay:

Such openness and grace have not been Xi’s way. As he built up islets in the South China Sea, he promised never to militarize them, then dishonored his promise, disregarded international rulings, and dispatched ships in packs to intimidate neighboring states and expand Beijing’s writ. Pledging to protect intellectual property, he enabled ongoing theft and coercion, ineluctably undermining industries of the advanced democracies, and then pressed forward on China’s newly gained advantages. His BRI professes to aid, then exploits poor countries’ weaknesses. Citing the betterment of all in the cause of greater China, he has imprisoned Uighurs, undermined Tibetan culture, and threatened the peaceful regional order that had enabled China’s rise. He violates treaty commitments to curb Hong Kong’s freedoms. Behind an anti-corruption façade, his prosecutors ruined scores of his rivals, as he consolidated and extended his personal powers. These wrongs he continues still. Xi’s are not the ways of grace and remorse.

An angry narrative drives this man. Under his hand, the CCP highlights Chinese suffering and humiliation roughly a century ago under Western and Japanese imperialists, while eliding the democratic world’s helping hand and Japan’s benign democracy over four generations since. He slides past the Chinese millions massacred in the intervening decades by the CCP and Mao — China’s legendary leader who spread cruelty and death as he judged useful. In imitation of Mao, Xi has issued his own “little red book” of wisdom. Mao’s iconic image looms over Tiananmen still. Coveting Mao’s autocratic power, Xi strove and won it; now he dare not let it go.

The bitter recall of ancient Chinese glories; resentment of past humiliations; insecurity bred by corruption and illegitimacy; disdain, even hatred of America’s easy ways — these are the pathogens coursing through Xi’s circle. A fever for Chinese primacy burns among them. For a time, they might pander to a Western-inspired, rules-based order, a liberal conceit; but this is not their dream. A historic economic rise, technological mastery, a rapidly expanding navy, all causes to be proud of, have freed them to be brazen. Xi now bares the teeth Deng Xiaoping’s smile hid. From South China Sea islets to the New Silk Road’s arid ends, the CCP, ruthless and defiant, pounds the stakes it holds to advance its aims. For Xi’s CCP, it is the fate of small states to bend to the strong.

6. David Harsanyi scores the hypocrisy in #MeToo Biden. From the analysis:

In 2011, the Obama DOJ’s “Dear Colleague” letter directed institutions of higher learning to adjudicate sexual-assault and misconduct cases under Title IX not by a “clear and convincing evidence” standard, but by a “preponderance of evidence.” The letter also “strongly” discouraged cross-examination of alleged victims — one of the fundamental methods of determining truth — because it “may be traumatic or intimidating” to the alleged victim. After Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed new rules to reinstate some semblance of impartiality in the process, Biden, and a number of other Democrats, engaged in a smear campaign against her.

The former vice president never actually spelled out his specific criticisms of DeVos’s proposal. In a sycophantic 2017 Teen Vogue interview, in which Biden offered a number of rambling platitudes regarding sexual assault, he argued that DeVos is incentivizing assaults by proposing that colleges live by the traditional criteria of fairness. “Let me tell you,” he said, “it bothers me most if Secretary DeVos is going to really dumb down Title IX enforcement. The real message, the real frightening message you’re going to send out is, our culture says it’s OK.”

Arguing that unprejudiced hearings (and I’m still not sure why these cases aren’t adjudicated in civil and criminal court) are a tacit approval of rape is repulsive. Even worse: We now know Biden believes that allegations against him should be evaluated using the precise principles that he would deny others.

7. Alexandra DeSanctis outs CBS correspondent Kate Smith as a de facto ambassador from Planned Parenthood. From the article:

But if you believe that’s what CBS is doing in employing Smith, you’d be wrong. Kate Smith is not a reporter at all. She is an advocate for abortion rights who exploits her perch at CBS to disguise as fact the opinions of the country’s most radical abortion-rights activists. She is Planned Parenthood’s ambassador to CBS, posing as a reporter and constructing articles that more closely resemble press releases for the nation’s most powerful abortion-rights advocacy groups. She has traded her objectivity for access to these organizations, offering them the kid-glove treatment so they will permit her to be the first to publicize their PR campaigns, interview their leaders, and scoop their briefs in court cases.

Let’s review Smith’s most recent work, starting with her verbal virtuosity. She tends to hide her liberal beliefs about abortion in devious language, referring to herself, for instance, as a reporter covering “abortion access” — a euphemism wielded exclusively by the most vigorous activists for unlimited legal abortion.

Earlier this month, she was the first to report that a “coalition of abortion rights groups” had responded to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of Texas’s COVID-19 abortion restrictions. Her article noted that Texas was restricting “abortion access” and exclusively quoted pro-abortion activists, one from the Center for Reproductive Rights and one from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

8. More MSM Bias: Jack Butler examines CNN’s footsy act with Red China. From the piece:

The most brazen such efforts belong to the Chinese Communist Party, which is now reinterpreting recent events to exploit the outbreak that its own actions and inactions caused. One would think that, CNN — a news organization that declares itself fond of speaking truth to power, that likes to declare that an apple is an apple — would block the CCP’s attempts to rewrite recent history.

But one would be mistaken. In a CNN “analysis,” James Griffiths admits that China’s leaders “have not been blind to the opportunity” that coronavirus presents to flaunt the supposed superiority of their own political model. Yet Griffiths then proceeds to toe the Beijing line on China’s handling of the coronavirus, America’s efforts, and the global implications of both. It’s propaganda thinly disguised as reporting.

Griffith’s most egregious propagandizing concerns the Chinese government itself, which deserves most of the blame for the spread of COVID-19. Griffiths seems eager to whitewash that government’s conduct and undercut its critics’ valid concerns. It is “debatable how communist modern China actually is,” Griffiths offers. That may technically be true — China is no longer taking Great Leaps Forward, to be sure. But its political apparatus remains oppressive enough to send hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs, a disfavored minority, to concentration camps. And, directly bearing on the crisis at hand, China engaged in typical totalitarian behavior by suppressing early knowledge of the infection’s spread. By imprisoning whistleblowers, it delayed public awareness of the virus’s spread by several weeks (something it had done before, in the 2003 SARS outbreak).

9. Consequence Envy: Poor Max Boot, haunted by the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly, his new bête noire. John Hirschauer has the back of the late conservative who bested the ERA. From the piece:

That Boot roundly mocks Schlafly for making such “incendiary” claims leads one to wonder where she got these “far-fetched” ideas about the ERA. Did Schlafly — whom Boot taunted for her “lack of legal knowledge” — misunderstand future Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1977 report Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, in which Ginsburg claimed that the Equal Rights Amendment would require that all special alimony provisions for women and wives be “eliminated” from the federal code, and argued that “all alimony and support provisions should be recast in sex-neutral language”? What does Boot — with his apparently superior “legal knowledge” — think that Ginsburg meant by this remark?

Similarly, where could Schlafly have gotten her “incendiary” and “far-fetched” notion that women might be conscripted into the military with the passage of ERA? Did she misapprehend feminist Betty Freidan when she told Schlafly in a debate that “there isn’t any reason women should be exempt on the basis of sex” from the draft? If so, what does Boot think Freidan meant by this remark?

RELATED: Boot pulled out the Nerf gun and unloaded at John on Twitter. John returned fire, here.

10. Stanley Kurtz documents the failure that is Common Core and asks — now what? From the piece:

With six years of data subsequent to full implementation now available, the failure of Common Core can at last be decisively documented. That is precisely what Boston’s Pioneer Institute has done, in a just-released white paper by influential educator and Common Core critic, Theodor Rebarber. The title of Pioneer’s report says it all: “The Common Core Debacle.”

With trenchant analysis, buttressed by powerful, easy-to-read graphics, Rebarber shows that since the advent of Common Core, slow but steady yearly gains in math and reading have been turned into sustained national declines in student achievement. In other words, whereas America’s reading and math scores had once been headed up, Common Core has brought them down. What’s worse, declines in test scores have been sharpest for the bottom half of the student population. The whole point of Common Core was to strengthen the performance of low-achieving students relative to the top-of-the-pack. So Common Core has actually hurt the students it was most intended to help.

While Rebarber is focused on national-level results, he also homes in on some particularly revealing data from the states. Kentucky fully implemented Common Core three years ahead of most other states, yet it continues to register declines in reading and math. That means prospects for a turnaround in other states in the coming years are dim.

11. Victor Davis Hanson looks at existential efforts in American history and compares them to “Our Corona Project.” From the essay:

NASA’s various space programs probably have cost far more than the often cited $1 trillion price. But going to the moon likely more than paid for itself in a variety of ways — in spin-off industries, new technologies, invaluable scientific data, and the emergence of a new sense of increased national prestige.

Critics of the F-35 joint-strike fighter claim that it will cost in toto over $1.5 trillion in all related costs during its lifespan. We have no idea how they can come up with that number, only that the plane is far more expensive than what was initially promised. The interstate highway system’s first phases probably cost around $500 billion in today’s money — and saved hundreds of thousands of lives in its first few years.

World War II, aside from well over 400,00 American dead and the resulting generations of disability and mental-health issues, cost the U.S. in modern currency over $4 trillion, despite turning a lingering Depression-era economy into a global juggernaut. No doubt the actual related expense was trillions of dollars higher.

Few have accurate figures on recent optional wars. But general estimates put the 19-year-long Afghanistan war at $2 trillion, and the 2003-08 active war in Iraq at another $2 trillion — with more than 7,000 American deaths in action or related to both wars.

12. Kevorkian Redux. Another Harsanyi beaut — here he bemoans Joe Biden’s health-care guru, the unsettling Ezekiel Emanuel. From the analysis:

I suspect that if one of Trump’s advisers on coronavirus had once taken to the august pages of The Atlantic to reason that men who reach the age of 75 are useless to society, the press would be vigorously exploring and amplifying his position. Reporters have rarely bothered to bring it up with Emanuel, who is constantly on TV — or with Biden, who is now “sheltered in place” and trying to prolong his life.

It’s quite simple: Does Emanuel believe that Biden, aged 78 on Inauguration Day, is faltering or declining, or in a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived? Does Emanuel consider Biden to have been robbed of his ability to contribute to work, society, and the world? Does he believe that Biden will now be remembered as feeble, ineffectual, and even pathetic? Is Biden’s creativity, originality, and productivity pretty much gone? Surely a younger person, according to Emanuel’s own societal prescription, would be better prepared for the job.

While some of us believe age is catching up to Biden — time waits for no one, etc. — we still believe his life is more than political aspirations. Does Emanuel?

In his essay, Biden’s high-achieving adviser, one of the architects of Obamacare, judges the value of a life by the number of books a person can write or the number of technocratic laws they can help pass or the number of times they can climb Kilimanjaro. Did you know that the average age that Nobel Prize–winning physicists make their great discoveries is 48? Really, after that our feeble minds are “constricting of our ambitions and expectations.”

13. David Bahnsen kicks the idiotic AOC/Warren idea to ban mergers and acquisitions right in the choppers. From the analysis:

It is worth remembering that acquisitions cannot be closed without two signatures — that of the buyer, and that of the seller. To the extent that a would-be seller does not believe it is in his or her best interests to sell, a “predatory” buyer will not be able to close the deal. The principle of free exchange is still at play, as it was before COVID and will be after COVID. Now, of course, Warren and AOC may very well argue that some beleaguered companies are so bruised from the economic turndown that they lack the ability to act on what is in their best interests, particularly over the longer term. Nevertheless, the arrogance implicit in the assumption that a representative and a senator are more qualified to assess risk and reward than the principals of a business whose net worth and income are actually at stake is staggering. In fact, the cut-off from opportunistic capital for companies experiencing cash flow or strategic challenges may very well be their death warrant. The law that is supposedly designed to protect them may ensure their destruction — a destruction that trickles down to their employees, vendors, counter-parties, creditors, and shareholders.

What happens if an opportunistic buyer is legally banned from taking an equity position in a distressed company? They will move up the capital structure to an infusion of debt. Is that the result Warren and AOC are seeking — the piling on of more (and presumably expensive) debt on companies that are already struggling? Why would that be a better result for the “little guy” than a voluntary strategic equity transaction?

The unintended consequences of this bill would either be (a) more business failures, meaning more debt defaults, unemployment, and contagion effects throughout that company’s vendor network, or (b) the additional leveraging of companies that are already in distress with an almost inevitably negative effect on their future growth, and with that their ability to increase wages and hire more workers.

14. Matthew Henderson argues that the U.K. should walk away from the Huawei / 5G deal. From the piece:

Britain is the only Five Eyes partner to permit a role for Huawei in its 5G system. The others regard Huawei involvement as a serious threat to national security. The British government’s decision, taken in January, to admit Huawei came after years of intense debate at home and abroad. Britain’s allies now look on in alarm as a pillar of NATO and the rules-based international order takes a course that will likely undermine the security of its data — and of data shared by others.

The British public’s concern is shared by growing numbers of U.K. politicians. In early March, backbench MPs from the ruling Conservative Party staged a rebellion over Huawei, against their own government. More MPs have since rallied to the cause. Earlier this month, a new parliamentary group was established to review U.K.–China relations. It is led by Tom Tugendhat, an MP known for trenchant criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Despite all of this, however, there is still no sign that the prime minister will change his mind on Huawei. On April 21, the top-ranking official in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that “the government has made a firm decision to allow Huawei to have a role” and that, as far as he knew, the decision was “not being reopened.” If the official is right, unwelcome repercussions are inevitable. The American government has made its concerns plain; Australia, likewise. Kidnap diplomacy” practiced against Canada shows how aggressively the CCP guards Huawei, a key strategic asset. (Beijing has accused two Canadian officials of espionage and detained them as hostages in China, in retaliation for Ottawa’s support for the extradition, from Canada to the U.S., of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arraigned for the company’s violation of sanctions against Iran.) Britain’s capacity to resist revisionist challenges to the rules-based international order would be constrained.

15. James Robbins revisits the Iran Deal and suggests an end to it all. From the beginning of the analysis:

Is the United States still a participant in the Iran nuclear deal? Well, yes and no.

The U.S. is seeking to maintain an international conventional-arms embargo on Iran that’s set to expire in October. The embargo was included in the enabling resolutions that the United Nations Security Council passed as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. Its restrictions on small-arms sales to Iran expire this year, with its ban on the sale of missile parts and other weapons extending another three years.

The State Department is promoting a new Security Council resolution that would extend the embargo indefinitely, which is certain to face opposition from Russia or China, both of whom have veto power. It would be smarter to simply activate the “snapback” mechanism in the JCPOA, restoring the entire pre-agreement U.N. sanctions regime and killing the deal for good.

Critics might object that President Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA two years ago, so Washington has no standing to engage its snapback provision. But it’s not that simple.

16. Brian Allen has a thing or three to say about how the National Endowment of the Arts is spending its $75 million in Coronavirus relief. From the piece:

The elegant Dr. Birx and the new geriatric pop star Dr. Fauci admit that quarantining an entire country and crashing a world economy to fight a virus have never been tried before. That in itself is a big red flag. NEA’s $50,000-a-pop plan doesn’t begin to address the uncharted territory museums face.

I think museums are doing what they can to take care of their people. That said, a museum shouldn’t keep an army of guards or visitor-amenities staff on the payroll if there are no visitors and museums are closed. That’s an abuse of the philanthropy that pays a museum’s bills. The Met was very nice to protect its people for a few weeks on its own dime, but it’s got a big deficit to close. Unemployment insurance exists to help people who are laid off. If they’re upset, their beef isn’t with the museums. It’s with the knuckleheads who closed the economy in the most reckless adventure since we went all guns blazing in search of those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The Payroll Protection Plan is the oddest program. The leaders of Congress — a big red flag, as Art certainly told me more than once that politicians are sleazy — conceived and passed this $358 billion program in about the same amount of time it takes to make a good osso buco — another big red flag.

Museums are getting PPP money. San Francisco’s MoMA got $6.2 million. That’ll keep its staff on the payroll until June 30. That money is meant for small businesses, and SF MoMa isn’t a small business, but it’s a sloppy law, and the museum is entitled to the money.

17. Kevin Williamson catches Waco. He knows it intimately. From the review.

The Branch Davidian story is shocking, and it has not lost its power to alarm. For those who do not remember the 1990s (which are turning out to be a decade of our history almost as fiercely contested as the 1960s), the events depicted must seem both unlikely and grotesque: an ATF publicity stunt that turned into a bloodbath, a siege, and, finally, a horrifying fire that took the lives of 76 people trapped inside the compound, including 25 children and two pregnant women.

I was present as a young student journalist for some of that drama, although, as was true for most of the media there, what I saw was mostly other media, a fantastical display of lights out in the otherwise dark countryside, a scene having the atmosphere of a kind of grim county fair. A couple of photographers with whom I worked at the University of Texas newspaper were detained by authorities for crossing the police cordon in pursuit of a better shot. (The photographers from my college newspaper staff, a rowdy but gifted bunch, went on to collectively earn four Pulitzer prizes in photography their first few years out of college.) It was a little like an NFL game: You want to be there in person, but you really get a better view on television.

It was, above all, confusing. The confusion is with us, still.

18. Armond White checks out the Jean-Luc Godard interview. From the beginning of the reflection:

In the absence of proper new movie openings, Jean-Luc Godard’s Instagram interview by Swiss filmmaker Lionel Baier, who heads the cinema department at the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland, momentarily revives movie culture. This almost-two-hour interview has lit up the Internet.

Godard talks us through film culture’s now-paralyzed state: Owing to social-distancing shutdowns and distributors’ frozen release schedules (not just in the U.S. but across the globe), cinema is no longer a communal art. The unavoidable capitulation to television and digital streaming means we’re drifting further away from movie aesthetics and film history. The all-important spatial dimensions of bringing the world — especially the human face — intimately close are being lost, and so is the idea of larger-than-life discovery.

The Fortnight Has Arrived, Bringing with It the New Edition of America’s Leading Conservative Magazine

As is the custom in these here parts, we share four examples of brilliance from the May 18, 2020, issue of National Review. If you are allergic to thrills, be careful in how you proceed.

1. Hey, when your lead essay is Andrew Roberts on the necessity of teaching Western Civilization, you’ve got a humdinger of an issue. From the essay:

Mention of the Alhambra in Granada prompts the thought that any course in Western civilization worth its name ought also to include the Umayyad Caliphate, of which Córdoba  in modern-day Spain was the capital between 756 and 929. In the wake of the conquest of Spain and the establishment of the Muslim confederacy of Al-Andalus, Córdoba  became a flourishing, polyglot, multicultural environment in which religious tolerance, despite Jews’ and Christians’ being obliged to pay a supplementary tax to the state, produced an atmosphere of intellectual progressiveness that made it one of the most important cities in the world. Discoveries in trigonometry, pharmacology, astronomy, and surgery can all be traced to Córdoba. At a certain point, then, a very particular set of historical circumstances produced an equally particular set of intellectual ideas, which had significant material consequences. The study of Western civilization is therefore emphatically not solely that of Christian DWEMs.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson led Stanford students in the chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” The protests attracted national headlines and inspired a television debate between the university’s president and William Bennett, then secretary of education. Bill King, the president of the Stanford Black Student Union, claimed at that time, “By focusing these ideas on all of us they are crushing the psyche of those others to whom Locke, Hume, and Plato are not speaking. . . . The Western culture program as it is presently structured around a core list and an outdated philosophy of the West being Greece, Europe, and Euro-America is wrong, and worse, it hurts people mentally and emotionally.” He presented no actual evidence that reading Locke, Hume, or Plato has ever hurt anyone mentally or emotionally, and that was of course decades before the snowflake generation could proclaim themselves offended by the “micro-aggression” of a raised eyebrow.

2. There’s mucho COVID confusion in Michigan. John J. Miller is on the scene to recount the madness. From the piece:

The state government couldn’t get its story straight in other areas either. On April 3, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police told the Detroit News that the governor’s order forbade recreational boating on waterways. A few hours later, the Department of Natural Resources said that this was wrong: People could use the waterways as long as boats carried only the members of a single household. On April 9, however, the governor banned motorboats, which meant that 54-foot sailboats were okay but fishing boats with trolling motors were not. Again, the rationale was unclear. Meanwhile, marinas couldn’t take pontoons out of storage and deliver them to owners, even though these activities can occur at a safe social distance.

Todd Ritchey, the owner of White’s Welding, chose to shut down in March. Whitmer’s order had blocked him from even the simplest jobs, such as repairing a broken metal gate. “I was going to stay open, but when people stayed at home, business dropped off.” He thinks closing the sake of safety, but he says that he and a lot of others need to get back to work soon: “If you make a living at something, then it’s essential. I don’t care if you sell butterfly magnets.”

Landscapers and lawn crews were idled, too, at a time when they should have been revving up. “Normally we’d be cleaning up yards, removing sticks and leaves, and making our first cuts,” says Spike Lewis of TLC Lawn Care. Lewis, who works by himself, also employs a couple of mowers who operate as a two-man team. They rarely see customers when they work. Lewis bills by mail. “I understand being safe, but I don’t understand why we can’t be out there. Why does she have to shut us down?”

3. Know-Nothing Redux: Kevin Williamson profiles the homeschool invaders at the Harvard Law Review. From the piece:

Professor Bartholet’s aggressive secularism is, ironically, a variation on an old American political tendency in Puritanism. The anti-Catholicism of Puritan New England is difficult for contemporary Americans to appreciate. A Catholic priest could be put to death in colonial Massachusetts simply for being present in the territory. (It is not clear how stringently this law was enforced, though Massachusetts did hang Quakers.) Catholic Mass could not be legally celebrated in much of New England, and Catholics were legally second-class citizens in Massachusetts until well into the 19th century, when the state constitution was amended.

The case against Catholics in preRevolutionary Massachusetts was that their religious beliefs made it impossible to integrate them into the political system of the time, which was true: In colonial Massachusetts, church and state were effectively united. Later anti-Catholic animus elaborated on that point, and anti-Catholic polemicists in the Revolutionary era argued that Catholics could not be good republicans and democrats, that they were instinctive monarchists, that they were religiously and culturally incompatible with American-style liberty. (One sometimes hears similar arguments about Muslims today.) That the First Amendment would give license to “popery” was a lively concern in the 18th century.

4. Bryan Garner, in his new “Grammarian” column, commences a three-part series he’s calling “Killing Grammar.” From the piece:

The core idea among many educators is that we shouldn’t stigmatize regional and class speech habits because that’s equivalent to teaching children that their parents are uneducated or socially unacceptable. Given that most children learn language from their parents, linguistic correction would supposedly damage those children’s self-esteem.

This change in approach marks an about-face in education. In essence, it makes the learning of Standard English optional. It dooms many speakers of English to the dialect into which they were born. It also liberates English teachers by letting them skip English-language lessons and focus entirely on literature, which for many is the more enjoyable aspect of the curriculum.

While growing up in a small college town in the Texas Panhandle, I was exposed to both educated speech and the regional dialect. Some of my friends’ parents would say things like It don’t make me no never mind. Although I never adopted that particular locution, I did as a child often say things like Me and Leslie are fixin’ to go to the store.

My father, a university professor with a doctorate in music education, was continually correcting his sons away from such speech. My mother and grandparents did, too. If I’d been born to a different family, I might well have spent my life speaking the West Texas dialect. But then maybe not: The English teachers in Canyon were also constantly correcting their pupils’ grammar and pronunciation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Signatures and DP-J

This week past we celebrated the publication of NR senior editor David Pryce-Jones’ new book, Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime, by running three excerpts. Each is a delight. Signatures is available for purchase at Encounter Books.

1. In which David reflects on Arthur Koestler, the author of Darkness at Noon, who signed a copy of his 1971 book, The God that Failed. From the piece:

Koestler happened to be ahead of me as I was boarding the flight to Iceland and so we took seats together. It was the first week of July 1972 and we were off to cover the Spassky-Fischer chess championship, he for The Sunday Times, I for The Sunday Telegraph. This was widely perceived as a test of strength between the two sides in the Cold War. The awe I had initially felt towards him had long since subsided. To think of him as impatient or intolerant was to fail to perceive that he was governed by deep and admirable rage against the infamy of the times. As soon as we were in the air, a voice on the intercom asked Mr. Arthur Koestler to make himself known. The airline was offering him a courtesy drink. A stewardess arrived with a bottle, a large home-brew kind of bottle without a label, and poured a mug for him and one for me. He drained it straight down so the stewardess could pour another. I could not come to terms with a brew like this so early in the morning, so he drank mine too. Soon closing his eyes, he lay back. “But zis iss murder.”

Once in Reykjavik, we stepped straight into slapstick. Bobby Fischer had not arrived and might never leave the United States. The opening ceremony was held in a dark half-empty theater without him. According to the grapevine, Spassky was longing to give an interview to Westerners but could not escape the KGB agents escorting him. So we went to his hotel and found him and half a dozen KGB in one of the public rooms on the first floor. He made for the lift and so did we. On the landing, the KGB froze him out, and managed to crowd all non-Russians into the lift and then deposit them on the ground floor.

Could the restaurant where we took our meals really have been called Nausea? The place had its comic turn too. A man alleged to be the Icelandic national poet was lying at the foot of the bar. Every so often he would haul himself up, point a finger, and bellow, “I know you! You are Hungarian, yes! But not Koestler — your name is Istvan Szabo!” and then relapse to his position on the floor. A reporter once more, Koestler was in his element. “He sniffs the air with animal awareness,” I wrote in my diary. “He makes me think of an otter, trim, the coat in tip-top condition.”

2. In which David discusses Robert Conquest, the great historian and Sovietologist (and frequent NR contributor) who signed a copy of his monumental 1968 history of Stalin’s purges, The Great Terror. From the piece: 

My friendship with Bob goes back to 1963 when he was foreign editor of the Spectator, and I was its literary editor. At the time, the Soviet Union appeared to be gaining the upper hand in the Cold War, and its criminality at home and abroad was a regular subject for discussion with others on the staff, for instance Tony Hartley and Iain Hamilton. It was amazing that so clear-minded a chap (he liked the word) as Bob should ever have joined the Communist Party, what’s more in 1937, which thanks to Stalin was one of the most frightening years in Russian and indeed European history. In 1944 he was posted to Bulgaria as a liaison officer to Bulgarian units fighting under Soviet orders, or to put it bluntly, preparing for a Communist takeover under cover of driving the German army out. After this formative experience, he joined a department of the Foreign Office set up to research the Soviet Union.

Communism was to the 20th century what sorcery had been to the Middle Ages. The claim of the foundational doctrine of Marxism to be a science was pure witchcraft. Something known as the dialectic was said to be the key to progress, but nobody could make sense of this figment. The state was supposed to wither away, leaving us all to look after ourselves as though back in the Garden of Eden, yet in the starkest of contradictions the Communist state granted itself ever more total power over the individual in every aspect of daily life. The organizing principle of class became a sentence of death, exile, or dispossession for tens of millions of men and women defined as bourgeois, capitalist, kulak, or whatever could be profitably exploited.

Bob had spent the Sixties studying Soviet demographic statistics and census returns in order to measure as accurately as possible the drastic fall in population brought about by Stalin’s criminal policies. The Great Terror, published in 1968, was straightforward in language, firm in tone, and careful in depicting the ruthlessness with which Stalin had sent to their death millions of Party members, soldiers from the rank of field marshal downwards, princes and peasants and anyone else whom he judged fit to distrust. Eight years later, on the eve of the Gorbachev era, Bob’s The Harvest of Sorrow was the first fully documented account of the Soviet collectivization of agriculture and the famine deliberately induced in the Ukraine which also cost millions of people their lives. Only when the Soviet Union was reincarnated as Russia did he go there and meet the people whose fate he had brought to the world’s attention.

3. In which David reflects on John Stewart, a popular photographer who signed a copy of his 1988 war memoir, To the River Kwai. From the piece:

Enrolled in the Intelligence Corps, he arrived in Singapore in January 1942, disastrously timed for the Japanese to take him prisoner. He had learned enough of the language to be an interpreter. “Navigating through the labyrinthine Japanese mind,” he writes, “was, after food, everyone’s favourite intellectual occupation.” In Changi he had an inconceivably far-fetched encounter with Fujita, the well-known painter and a friend in Paris days but now an Official War Artist, who greeted him, “Mon pauvre ami, je ne vous demande pas ce que vous faites ici” (My poor friend, I don’t ask you what you are doing here). Sadism and sentimentality were an incomprehensible combination.

The collision of cultures is recorded in a passage that deserves a place in any anthology to do with human nature and its extremes. Speaking to a cadet, John resorted to a Japanese word meaning “bad, inadequate.” Like someone possessed, the cadet reacted with a rant, frothing at the mouth, sending for his sword and preparing to behead the kneeling prisoner who had given such offense. John in fact saved himself by knowing and reciting what the victim is supposed to say ritually before the sword ends his life. The cadet dropped his sword, burst into tears and invited John to have some cake and a cup of tea, the one and only time when the slave laborer was treated as a guest. John’s misuse of language was wiped away because he had proved his respect for the whole culture.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Con Coughlin takes on Communist China’s attempt to exploit the pandemic to increase its power regionally. From the beginning of the article:

While the rest of the world is preoccupied with tackling the coronavirus pandemic, China is intensifying its efforts to extend its influence in the South China Sea by intimidating its Asian neighbours.

The arrival of China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, together with five accompanying warships, in the South China Sea earlier this month has resulted in a significant increase in tensions in the Asia-Pacific region as Beijing seeks to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to flex its muscles.

So far in April, there were claims that a Chinese coast guard vessel deliberately rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat operating close to the disputed Paracel Islands. All the fishermen survived and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels operating nearby.

The incident prompted a furious response from the Vietnamese government, which accused Beijing of violating its sovereignty and threatening the lives of its fishermen. The US State Department said it was “seriously concerned” about the incident and called on Beijing “to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic, and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea.”

2. At the Wall Street Journal, William McGurn ends his must-read weekly column with the truest words ever typed: “Never, ever trust the Communists.” From the piece:

Communism has always been far more about Lenin than Marx—that is, about getting and holding power, rather than any economic arrangement. And it’s extraordinary how consistent the lies and violence have been across time and geography, given the many different flavors of communism. There’s scarcely a Communist Party in the world that doesn’t have a mass killing or two in its past.

Chinese Communism has particularly benefited from the West’s naiveté. When Maoism first appeared, it was hailed as a more authentic and humane form of communism than its brutal Soviet rival. Then came the persecutions and purges and the Cultural Revolution, which left millions of innocent Chinese dead in its wake.

In 1989, when Chinese citizens raised a Goddess of Democracy on Tiananmen Square, some pinned their hopes on the People’s Liberation Army: Surely the people’s army would never fire on the people. In fact, PLA soldiers proved quite adept at firing on the people. And to this day Beijing refuses to come clean about how many it killed at Tiananmen.

3. First Things translates and publishes an important Le Figaro interview of the great Pierre Manent, who contemplates the pandemic’s consequences for liberty in Europe. From the interview:

No one contests that the pandemic constitutes an emergency and that with an emergency some unusual measures are unavoidable. But the fragility of human health in a way constitutes a permanent urgency and may provide the State with a permanent justification for a permanent state of emergency. We now see in the State only the protector of our rights; now, since life is the first of our rights, a broad path is opened up to the State’s inquisitorial power. That said, we gave ourselves over to the State long ago, according it sovereignty over our lives. This long-term tendency has become more acute in recent years. The spontaneity of public speech has been subjected to a kind of prior censorship, which in effect has excluded legitimate debate on most of the important questions of our common life, or even of our personal lives. Whether the question is migration or relations between the sexes and related social questions, an ideology common to society and the State dictates what is permitted and prohibited, which is the same as what is honorable and shameful, noble and vile. In a word, we have altogether internalized the principle of a code of speech and expression, which it is considered suspect to resist. Thus have we quietly left behind the liberal and democratic regime that was informed and animated by rival collective projects, and which presented us with great undertakings, common actions to accomplish, good and bad, judicious and ruinous, but which gave us reasons to put up a good fight, occasions for vigorous argument, and great questions nourishing great disagreements. This happy time is gone. Our world is full of victims who, in a voice that is at once whining and threatening, claim to be wounded by all this talk. They see in the grammatical rules governing gender an offense to all women and find homophobic insult in schoolboy profanity. How can we now oppose the State as guardian of rights while we beg it to intrude into our ever-wounded personal lives?

4. At The College Fix, Alexander Pease reports on the huge amount of loot coming to American universities from foreign sources. From the article:

A federal law known as Section 117 requires colleges and universities to disclose all foreign incomes over $250,000 every six months. The Department of Education then releases it to the public.

The most recent disclosures were released in March and September 2019. The earlier disclosure was meant for universities to account for assets received from 2012 through the end of 2018. The newer one covers assets from 2013-2019.

If universities had acted in compliance with Section 117, the newest data set would mainly “just be overlapping information” from the previous disclosure, VanNess said.

But some schools had neglected the federal requirement altogether, and many others omitted old information from previous administrations. New data from 2017-2018 were also released.

5. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joey Barretta takes on the revisionary depictions of Frederick Douglas. From the beginning of the essay:

In Frederick Douglass’s Vision for a Reborn America, David W. Blight, one of the nation’s preeminent Frederick Douglass scholars, provides a faulty account of Douglass’ view of America and his understanding of the American Founding. Throughout his account, Dr. Blight emphasizes the need to examine Douglass in light of modern racial strife. He begins by explaining that at the beginning of Reconstruction, Douglass had a “most sanguine vision of a pluralist future of human equality in the recently re-United States.” This is the “vision” America needs once more, Dr. Blight proclaims. However, the content of Blight’s account does not accurately describe Douglass’ thought and portrays him as a modern progressive, which he was not.

Dr. Blight cites Douglass’ 1869 speech “Our Composite Nationality” as the cornerstone of his argument in order to make the case that Douglass had a view of race akin to the modern pluralist. For instance, he quotes the following from Douglass: “Joy and sorrow speak alike in all nations, and they above all the confusion of tongues proclaim the brotherhood of man.” This seems to imply that all peoples are the same and that America ought to be a cosmopolitan, post-racial society. Dr. Blight leaves out some important context in using this quotation. Throughout the speech, Douglass stresses the duties required of citizens and the immense work it takes to form and sustain political society. America may be composed of many races, but there are principles that must be held in common. Dr. Blight notes that his excerpt of Douglass shows that the country would hold true to “universal values,” but he fails to account for the duties of the citizenry of all races to subscribe to those “values.” Douglass’ conclusion has more complex implications than Dr. Blight admits. Douglass believed that there were universal principles that bound together “our composite nationality,” and that all races therein have equal duties they must uphold as American citizens.

6. At The Spectator, Daniel McCarthy checks out Justin Amash, and sees a preening egotist. From the piece:

I’ve related before my impression from the first time I heard Amash speak. It was shortly after his first election in 2010, and he addressed a gathering sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty in conjunction with CPAC. YAL was founded by the youth coordinator of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign, and the Paul movement was instrumental in creating the conditions for the Tea Party and the election of libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Amash in the 2010 midterms. But in his remarks to YAL, Amash made a point of distancing himself from Ron Paul and his branch of the libertarian tradition. This seemed preening and ungrateful, but at the time I chalked it up to a politician’s simple desire to be his own man. He was inexperienced, and if he struck the wrong note, it probably wasn’t deliberate.

But it turned out that Amash’s self-conscious separation from Ron Paul and the Tea Party was the beginning of a pattern. Again and again, Amash has made a point of pretending to be better than everybody else, especially those who work alongside him. He was too good for the Ron Paul movement, too good for the Tea Party, and ultimately too good for the Republican party and the House Freedom Caucus. A humbler man might have asked himself why every other Republican — including equally or even more liberty-minded ones, such as Kentucky’s Rep. Thomas Massie — was opposed to impeachment. Your friends and allies might be wrong, but they’re presumably your friends and allies in the first place because you think they’re generally on the right side. And if you think they’re wrong in a particular instance, friendship and loyalty would argue that you should try all the harder to convince them to change, and not simply break off the relationship. But Amash isn’t about persuasion, he’s about preening his own feathers.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the eagerly awaited new episode of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich address some pre-COVID drama in the form of new disclosures concerning General Michael Flynn. Listen and learn, here.

2. On the new episode of The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the need to figure out a reopening plan for the United States, developments surrounding Joe Biden’s accuser, and more. Listen here.

3. At The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by Michael Kimmage to discuss his book, The Abandonment of the West. Lend an ear, here.

4. More JJM: On the new episode of The Great Books, he’s joined by Michael Schmidt to discuss Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem. Hear here.

5. Reason editor Nick Gillespie joins Great Scot Bertram and Clef Jeff Blehar on Political Beats to discuss the music of The Byrds. Flap on over here to listen.

6. Let’s just serve up the excellent program notes for Episode 117 of Radio Free California: Gavin Newsom is governing by executive order, sometimes as a deregulating madman and sometimes as the Elizabeth Warren of the West. Who is he really? In other news: Will rants about journalists who support selective enforcement of the First Amendment. David says we can safely ignore headlines warning of the coming economic apocalypse. Got all that. Good. Now grab the earphones and listen up, right here.

7. On the new episode of For Life, Alexandra discusses the biased journalism of a CBS News reporter, lawsuits from abortion-rights groups against COVID-19 policies, and the Left’s hypocritical treatment of Tara Reade’s allegation against Biden. The wisdom gets dispensed here.

8. The namesake of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast defies his cohost’s dimwittedness to ably discuss his new NRO piece, “Our Corona Project,” the continuing media effort to belittle theories that the virus may have come to the U.S. earlier than believed, press-conference advice for Donald Trump, the value of Stanford University colleague John Ioannidis, and explosive news about the FBI’s look-pretty-corrupt actions in investigating General Michael Flynn. Hear the wisdom right here.

9. On the new episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss the Netflix series Waco. Hunker down and listen up here.

Baseballery

More about great tie games, and the greatest ever — and indeed the longest-ever — was played 100 years ago yesterday, Saturday, May 1, 1920, at Braves Field in Boston, where the home team played host to the Brooklyn Robins (they’d win the NL championship that year) in a 26-inning marathon, much of it played in drizzle, called “on account of darkness” after 3 hours and 50 minutes of grinding baseball, which saw 186 plate appearances, 26 hits, 3 pickoffs, 550 pitches (by the combined estimates of the men on the mound), 4 errors, 3 men thrown out at home, 28 men left on base, and 2 complete games worth of baseball.

Revel in the game’s glorious box score. Some vignettes of the contest:

  • The Braves’ Joe Oeschger and the Robins’ Leon Cadore both went the distance, the former having allowed one run in the fifth, the latter one run in the sixth, and that was all. Oeschger in fact pitched a version of a no-hitter: In the game’s last 9 innings he held Brooklyn hitless.
  • The Braves had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Poor Charlie Pick, Boston’s second basemen, grounded into a double play, quashing the rally. It would be a bad day for Pick: He set an MLB record by going 0 for 11. And he also committed 2 errors.
  • Almost as bad with the bat: Cadore and Robins shortstop Chuck Ward both were 0 for 10.
  • In the 17th inning, Brooklyn had loaded the bases when catcher Rowdy Elliott hit the ball back to Oeschger, who threw to home to force future Hall-of-Famer Zack Wheat. Braves catcher Hank Gowdy tried to throw out Elliott at first, but the ball was dropped by first-baseman Walter Holke . . . who then threw the ball back to Gowdy, who in turn applied the tag to Brooklyn’s once-fleet Ed Konetchy (who singled earlier in the inning) for the inning-ending double play.

The next day, because Sunday baseball was banned in Boston, the Robins headed home to Brooklyn for a one-game visit from Phillies. That was a 13-inning contest won by Philadelphia, 4–3.

Not having played enough extra-inning baseball, the Robins headed back to Boston, and on Monday, May 3, found themselves in their third consecutive extra-inning affair, this one a 19-inning 2–1 loss in which Braves southpaw Dana Fillingim went the distance, scattering a dozen hits (and striking out only four), while Brooklyn starter Sherry Smith (who would pitch beautifully that fall in the 1920 World Series) went 18 1/3 innings, earning the loss when Braves third baseman Tony Boeckel — who had ended the 17th when he was caught trying to steal home — singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 19th.

Two days later, the Braves were in Philadelphia. And yep: For a third consecutive game, went into extra innings. At the Baker Bowl, Boston prevailed in 11 innings, 4–3. The team’s three-game total of 56 innings has just got to be a record.

A Dios

For those who pray, there is a young man, husband and father (little girl), somewhat ill, who was forced to delay getting his worsening symptoms checked (the lockdown’s terrible fallout on people with non-Covid-19), but who finally got tested, only to find he has rampant cancer, Stage 4. Would you mind asking the Creator to let this cup pass? Would you mind asking the Creator to allow doctors to indeed heal him? If you are of my spiritual tribe, would you pray a rosary — a few Hail Marys if that proves too daunting — for this young man’s success in beating this? If you have your health, this may be a good way to acknowledge your fortune, summed up aptly in the saying, “there but for the grace of God” . . .

May the Ancient of Days Bring Peace to You and Yours and to this Great Nation,

Jack Fowler, who will be too happy to pray too for your intentions if communicated to him at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

Yes It Goes On and On My Friends

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

A statement of fact: John O’Sullivan is a wonderful writer, his prose reflective of the man. His formal abode these past few years has been Budapest, which proves the cliché “nice work if you can get it.” With his glorious wife Melissa, he has been living the Central European version of locking down, and shared on NRO this week past a diary of Hungarian Hunkering, accompanied by the usual JO’S erudite commentary on foreign policy and the to-be-expected Magyar bugabooing by EUphiles. Read John’s delicious piece here.

It was important to make you aware of this at the get-go. Why? To quote my beloved mother: “Because I said so.”

Now, as for the times in which we live, we’ve mentioned in this location the great Shari Williams, who ended her sweet kids’ show with The Song that Never Ends, which might be nominated as a theme song for this quarantinery, along with Groundhog Day if you’re looking for a symbolic movie.

All such is worth mentioning again. Why? Because I said so.

As for No Place to Hide, little is known. But it does have one heck of a timely movie poster, no?

Enough! The time has come to untie the shoes, pour a double, lock the doors, and get on with the Weekend Jolt.

But First: If You Care about Viruses and Wall Street . . .

. . . then you have got to be reading David Bahnsen’s detailed, daily, mucho-information report, Covid and Markets. It is not to be missed.

But Second: Before You Read Another Word . . .

. . . please consider ordering a copy of NR senior editor David Pryce-Jones’s forthcoming book, Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime. It’s a great idea and device: David has penned dozens of vignettes of great 20th-century writers who signed and inscribed to him copies of their own books. Of course “DPJ” came to know many of these writers, some quite well, and his recollections of them, his distilling their importance (or, in some cases, their infamy), are a joy to read. Next week on NRO we’ll be running a series of excerpts from the book, so do keep watch. In most cases, you’d be damned foolish to take the word of this Insipid Correspondent about anything (except, of course, about the beauty and virtue of Mrs. Correspondent), but here do take the word: The book (galleys have been obtained and nearly every word of it read) is masterful. Maybe because it was penned by a masterful writer!

You Have Reached the Buffet Line, Where Awaits a Gut-Busting, Belt-Stretching, Heaping Array of Principle-Fortifying Main Courses, Ready to Satisfy Your Intellectual Hunger, So Pile on!

1. The Boss, Rich Lowry, respected person, looked at all the ventilator hoopla and found little to hoop about, and a lot of MSM BS-itude. From the story:

It became clear that many governors didn’t know how many ventilators their states had, and they were driven by early models that were “doomsday scenarios,” as one senior administration official puts it. Governors were also acting on the normal impulse to want to be safe, and have more than enough ventilators on hand, just in case. “If you are a governor, which is natural, you are going to over-ask because you want to be over-prepared,” the official explains.

A data team drawn from various government agencies and at the White House was created to get to the truth on the ground. It used hospital billings at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to estimate how many ventilators were in each state and how many were being utilized on any day, giving administration officials a more granular picture of what was happening in states than many governors had themselves.

Another important realization was that FEMA could do just-in-time delivery. It could get states and hospitals ventilators within 24 or 48 hours. This created a lot of flexibility. The administration could wait to see how things really played out rather than making decisions based on models that forecast what the demand might be two weeks in the future. “When you started looking at it like that,” the official says, “the numbers went down dramatically.”

And this is the key thing: The strategy was based on not sending states what they requested on their say-so. That was the opposite of the normal FEMA operating procedure. Usually, state and counties ask for things in a natural disaster, and FEMA sends them along as a matter of course. With an epidemic threatening the entire country, that way of doing things would have exhausted the federal resources immediately.

This also meant that much of the press coverage get it exactly backward. The media portrayed as an inherent failure the fact that the administration gave states a portion of their requests. (“Trump sent Arizona a fraction of the ventilators it sought,” a Vox headline said. “Republicans still framed it as a big win.”) In reality, not giving governors what they wanted was integral to the success of the overall operation.

2. More Rich: He’s not worshipping at the altar of social distancing. From the beginning of the column:

Forgive Jacksonville, Fla., for it has sinned.

The largest city in Florida partly reopened its beaches, and it became something of a national scandal. CNN ran a disapproving segment, and the hashtag #FloridaMorons trended on Twitter.

As the CNN report put it: “The scene at Jacksonville Beach wasn’t one of caution in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Crowds cheered and flooded the beach when police took the barriers down. People were seen swimming, biking, surfing, running and fishing.”

None of these activities has been shown to be a vector for the spread of COVID-19; in fact, no outdoor activities have been shown to be dangerous at all. A recent study examined hundreds of outbreaks and traced only one to an outdoor environment.

Surfers and bikers are the least of our worries. Yet, there is a segment of American opinion that takes it as its responsibility to scold and shame anyone who dares go out and get a little fresh air.

3. Schoolyard bullies threatening homeschoolers get stuffed into locker by Kyle Smith. From the beginning of the piece:

Listen carefully to the progressive Left and you may discover that when they say “democratic values,” they mean “I get to tell you what to think.” It’s nothing new to argue that the people must be forced to conform to the preferences of the cultural elites. It takes a certain mental flexibility to do this in the name of democracy.

I refer to the Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s stated case for why it should be illegal for you to homeschool your children in her “something must be done” cry in Harvard Magazine. Bartholet wants the state to ride in on horseback and break up all those sinister gatherings in which families go through the multiplication tables together. Or discuss the Constitution. Or — sharp intake of breath — even study the Bible.

Bartholet makes some half-hearted noises about opposing homeschooling because it supposedly leads to child abuse, or because homeschool parents are unlettered troglodytes who don’t know which end of the pencil the ink comes out of. (“People can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves,” she claims.) These are just warmup arguments, though (dismantled here and here). Even Bartholet doesn’t really seem to believe them. The crux of her case against homeschoolers is that they might grow up thinking thoughts Bartholet does not agree with. That’s the “risk” of homeschooling.

It’s important, Bartholet tells us, “that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.” Democratic values? Democratic means ruled by the common people, or, less literally, people making their own choices rather than being directed from the top down. What could be more bottom-up, more infused with the spirit of the demos, than individual families making their own individual curricula without a lot of state intrusion? If Bartholet desires to see the flourishing of “ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints,” discriminating against people because she is intolerant of their viewpoints is a funny way to show it.

4. More Homeschooling: Fred Bauer slams its foes as enemies of pluralism. From the essay:

A prison composed of “reading,” “writing,” “arithmatic” (yes, “arithmatic”), and the Bible. That is how an illustration in the latest issue of the Harvard Magazine portrays homeschooling. While other children run and play outside, the poor homeschooler squints out between the bars. (An updated version of this illustration changes “arithmatic” to “arithmetic.”)

The story accompanying this illustration focuses on an argument by the celebrated Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet that homeschooling “not only violates children’s right to a ‘meaningful education’ and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.” Because of the dangers of homeschooling, Bartholet recommends that it should be presumptively banned either by the courts or various legislatures. According to federal data, a little over 3 percent of American children are currently homeschooled (about 1.7 million). This percentage has almost doubled in the past 20 years. Parents homeschool for a number of reasons, but many homeschool for religious reasons (hence, the Bible as part of the prison in that illustration).

In an extended article for the Arizona Law Review, Bartholet attacks the practice of homeschooling. While Bartholet’s argument mentions some other objections for homeschooling (such as the allegation that minimal state supervision of it may ignore child abuse), much of her argument against homeschooling turns on the questions of values. Her broader argument against homeschooling reveals the way that certain modes of political thought that prize autonomy can end up undermining pluralism. The attempt to impose a kind of cultural hegemony through mandatory, no-opt-out schooling could further inflame contemporary political debates.

5. The . . . as Andy McCarthy calls it . . . useless Senate Intelligence Committee issues a report about Russian election collusion that is as newsworthy as the sun rising in the East, and that fails to answer basic questions, never mind worthwhile ones. Oh: Let us not forget the usual media game-playing. From the analysis:

The real question is whether the Obama administration and its officials held over by the new administration fabricated a tale about the Trump campaign’s complicity in Russia’s hacking. Did they peddle that tale to the FISA court while willfully concealing key exculpatory evidence? Did they continue the investigation under the guise of counterintelligence after Trump was elected, in the hope of finding a crime over which he could be impeached? Did they consciously mislead an American president about whether he was under investigation? Did they purposefully suggest in public testimony that the president was a criminal suspect, while privately assuring him that he was not one? And finally, when the Trump-Russia collusion nonsense was collapsing in a heap, did they open a criminal obstruction case — based on an untenable legal theory and facilitated by a leak of investigative information that was orchestrated by the just-fired FBI director — in order to justify continuing the probe under the auspices of a special counsel?

On these questions, the Useless Committee’s report is silent. Indeed, the report says right up front, in the findings section, that the intelligence agencies, over the FBI’s objection, did not include information from the infamous Steele dossier in its December 30, 2016, assessment on Russian interference — though, “as a compromise to the FBI insistence,” dossier allegations were included in an annex to the assessment. The Senate-report findings do not get into why the FBI was pushing so hard on the preposterous dossier. Nor do they mention that, by the time of the assessment, the bureau had already heavily relied on the dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant from the FISA court, and was even then preparing a submission to get yet another warrant — telling the federal judges the bureau believed that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Kremlin.

We don’t hear much about what matters from the Useless Committee. Indeed, when last we heard mention of the committee, it was because Senator Richard Burr (R., N.C.), its chairman and the ultimate insider, made news for having feverishly dumped $1.7 million in his personal stock holdings on the eve of the coronavirus market collapse.

On the matter of Trump-Russia collusion allegations, the intelligence issue that roiled the nation for three years, the Intelligence Committee has had little to say. For a while, there was some dark collusion innuendo from Burr’s friend, Senator Mark Warner (D., Va.), the ranking member on the preeningly bipartisan committee. But we haven’t heard much since Warner was caught using the Washington lobbyist of a Putin-tied oligarch to try to score a tête-à-tête with the dossier fabulist, Christopher Steele. As Warner observed at the time, in a text to the lobbyist, we’d “rather not have a paper trail” on this one.

6. Ed Whelan reads the riot act to Vox hatchet-man Ian Millhiser for a smear rant at Justice Samuel Alito. From the smackdown:

Discussing the Court’s decision on Monday in Ramos v. Louisiana requiring unanimous verdicts by juries in state criminal cases, Millhiser states that “the Court’s lead opinion pointed out [that] non-unanimous juries are a practice rooted in white supremacy” but that “[o]ne justice took umbrage with that invocation of racism: Justice Samuel Alito.”

The trusting reader might fairly think that Alito was disputing the majority’s historical account of the 19th-century adoption of non-unanimous verdicts. Only eight paragraphs later does Millhiser acknowledge that Alito was “mak[ing] a fair point”: that the re-adoption by Oregon and Louisiana of non-unanimity rules in more recent years (Oregon in 1934, Louisiana in 1974) was made “under different circumstances,” devoid of evidence of racism. Even then, Millhiser entirely omits Alito’s observation that the British Parliament and the Constitution of Puerto Rico permit non-unanimous verdicts, that the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association once advocated in their favor, and that “prominent scholars” (including Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar) have supported them.

Millhiser is also wrong to assert that only “[o]ne justice”—Alito—“took umbrage” with the majority on this point. Chief Justice Roberts joined Alito’s dissent in full (Millhiser reveals this only at the very end of his discussion of Ramos), and Justice Kagan—yes, Justice Kagan—joined all but one subpart of it, including the very part that Millhiser objects to. Millhiser obscures Kagan’s agreement with Alito by stating only that she “joined most of Alito’s opinion, most likely because Kagan is the Court’s most stalwart defender of” stare decisis. The trusting reader would not discern that she joined Alito’s supposed defense of “white racial innocence.” (His claim about Kagan on stare decisis is also dubious.)

7. Madeleine Kearns, loyal subject, praises the Queen and tweaks her narcissist grandson and his wife. From the piece:

Since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, announced earlier this year that they would be “stepping back” from their role as senior royals, they have dogged the headlines. Even as the coronavirus rages across the globe, the couple — who seem to operate according to Oscar Wilde’s mantra that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about — have managed to attract the attention of the Canadian, American, and British press, all while pretending that this is contrary to their intentions.

On Easter Sunday, the Queen spoke dutifully of the need for quiet self-sacrifice, but Harry and Meghan — newly arrived in Los Angeles, where their team of Hollywood agents, PR flacks, and business managers awaited them — got to work being photographed delivering meals to Los Angeles’s residents. In her speeches, the Queen made ordinary Britons (and, you know, God) the heroes. But in their stunt, that role was reserved for Harry and Meghan themselves, who are simultaneously continuing their role as victims of the tabloid press.

Last week, Meghan and Harry sent written letters to the editors of the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and the Daily Mirror to make clear that they will not “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion.” In other words, they will not cooperate with these tabloids in stories about them, which only lead to “salacious gossip.” But as Dominic Green notes, “the timing is bizarre . . . The couple, or at least their lawyers, are due to speak with three of those four papers quite soon.” As part of their lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, Harry submitted text messages to London’s High Court that revealed his exchange with Markle’s father in the run-up to their wedding. Markle’s lawyers claim that the Mail misquoted the letter she sent to her father ahead of the wedding. But Markle’s estranged father denies this. He told journalists that while the British monarchy is “one of the greatest, long-living institutions ever,” Harry and Meghan were “cheapening it” by turning it into “something that’s ridiculous.” He’s right that the more oxygen they give the story, the more it backfires, resembling a sloppily written soap opera.

8. What would life be like under the “Green New Deal?” David Harsanyi says, you’re looking at it. From the piece:

Eric Holthaus, a popular online climate-change activist, points out that the allegedly positive environmental effects of the coronavirus crisis are on “roughly the same pace that the IPCC says we need to sustain every year until 2030 to be on pace to limit global warming to 1.5C and hit the Paris climate goals.”

“We’re doing it. It’s possible!” he adds.

It’s nice to see an environmentalist finally acknowledging the inherent economic tradeoff of their vision. Holthaus is absolutely correct that implementing a plan like the Green New Deal would hold approximately the same gruesome economic consequences as the coronavirus crisis — except, of course, forever. The point of modern environmentalism, as Greta Thunberg has hinted, is the destruction of wealth. This process is what Holthaus, and others, euphemistically call “degrowth.”

Holthaus, who doesn’t celebrate coronavirus, reminds us that merely to keep pace with the IPCC recommendations on carbon emissions, Americans would be compelled to shut down virtually the entire economy. They would need to restrict air travel, place most Americans under virtual house arrest (or raze all the suburbs), halt international and interstate trade, destroy millions of jobs, shut down large swaths of manufacturing, and stop people from using their cars — or buying gas.

How would it work? The only “Green New Deal” that we’ve ever actually seen was authored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her plan, one supported by the Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, calls for the banning of all fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, and meat-eating, among many other nonsensical regulations, within the next decade.

9. More Harsanyi: Facebook’s political censoring comes in for a comeuppance. From the piece:

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly removing the posts of those organizing anti-quarantine protests in conjunction with state governments, calling them “harmful misinformation.”

There is some confusion over the exact nature of the social-media giant’s policy on self-censoring. This morning, it was reported that the company was removing all posts advertising protests against social-distancing regulations, as well as posts deemed to spread “harmful misinformation” about the virus. The head of Facebook communications retweeted a CNN report that the social-media company was consulting with governments in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska to shut down the organization of “anti-quarantine” protests on its platform. Yet, after pushback, a company spokesperson clarified that Facebook was working with states to delete only posts advertising events that violate government orders and guidelines.

While I’ve long defended the right of social-media companies to dictate and enforce their own speech codes as they please without any interference from politicians, it’s difficult to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt here. Government has some leeway in protecting public health, but it has no right, not even during an emergency, to work to preemptively prevent Americans from expressing their political beliefs. If Facebook removed advertisements for protests at the behest of state and local governments — as initial reports suggested it might have — it would be an clear assault on expression, made all the more appalling by the fact that the protests were aimed at the very public policy that allows the state to undercut the ability of citizens to organize a demonstration in the first place. But even if Facebook was merely working with such governments to decide what millions of Americans can say to each other, that would be a big problem for both philosophical and practical reasons.

10. Victor Davis Hanson is thankful, in the face of rising authoritarianism, that Americans have, and cherish, their Bill of Rights. From the essay:

No one quite knows the limits of Washington, D.C., or the parameters of federalism. The schizophrenic Left now tends to favor the neo-Confederate idea of federal nullification when it’s a matter of sanctuary cities or abortion laws or opposing anything Trump is for. But at least there is tension there, and that uncertainty itself can limit the power of both a president and a governor. And that’s not always a bad thing when the mentality of the mob takes over.

Authoritarians and petty fascists, eager to issue endless edicts, molt their exoskeletons, as if under their chrysalis suits they were always caudillos, waiting to be reborn with sunglasses and epaulettes. But a free and empowered people, even in times of mortal danger, long nursed on a Bill of Rights, is hard to subjugate or shut up, even after over a month spent locked up in their homes. Thank God, we have a Constitution quite different from those of European nations, which are themselves far superior to other alternatives.

Does the First Amendment in some sense explain why, when you walk into the supermarket, you see crazy shoppers wearing over their face everything from weird motorcycle-helmet visors and dinner napkins to bandanas, embroidered doilies, silk scarves, used N-95 masks, hospital wraps worn lengthways, and (in the case of one well-meaning nut) a mask worn under the nose? In China, crowds all appear as if they are equipped by “CCP Approved Mask Model #1” of identical shape and color.

In a reductionist sense, this crisis could have been avoided if the Chinese had a Jeffersonian and Madisonian Bill of Rights, and a population protected by it. Nations of the European Union would have done better to one another in this crisis if they’d had a little humility and settled for a confederation of like, but still disparate, democracies and the idiosyncrasies that accompany them — rather than constructing an impossible utopian nightmarish edifice like something out of the old silent movie Metropolis, run by a litany of finger-shaking wannabe shrill Elizabeth Warrens. How odd that in the EU’s lose/lose paradox, when individual nations do well or poorly in addressing the epidemic, the EU will be blamed for their respective disobedient successes or failures.

11. Now It’s Our Turn: Zachary Evans reports on Sweden closing the last ChiCom-backed Confucius Institute polluting that country. From the piece:

Sweden-China relations had already soured before the coronavirus pandemic. In November 2019 China arrested Swedish publisher Gui Minhai for printing texts critical of Communist Party premier Xi Jinping. The Swedish chapter of PEN International, a global association of writers, awarded Gui its Tucholsky Prize for persecuted writers or publishers, after which China imposed trade restrictions on Sweden.

There are 86 Confucius Institutes currently operating in the U.S., including at elite institutions such as Stanford University and Tufts University. Former FBI director Christopher Wray testified to Congress in 2019 that the institutes “offer a platform to disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, to restrict academic freedom.”

12. John Fund blasts Voice of America for kow-towing to the ChiComs. From the piece:

President Trump’s anger stems in part from the fact that his nominee for CEO of the Agency for Global Media (which runs VOA) has been in limbo for 22 months.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Pack has seen more than 15 of his films broadcast on PBS, which has exacting professional standards. He has pledged that if confirmed as CEO, he will insist on the independence of VOA. But he’s been denied a confirmation vote because of foot-dragging and spurious conflict-of-interest allegations by Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Its chairman, Idaho GOP senator James Risch, has so far been unwilling to call time and hold a vote.

The charter of VOA declares that it “will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.” Some of its programming must by that standard take the form of a broadcast “editorial page” that lets America’s friends and foes know what Washington is doing and why. Yet staff of VOA’s policy office, which produces editorials, has been cut by some 50 percent. In 2008, Jeffrey Trimble, the staff director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversaw VOA at the time, actually claimed, “It is not in our mandate to influence.” If that’s true, why are the taxpayers shelling out $200 million a year for VOA in an Internet age saturated with media sources?

As it is, VOA reminds observers of a media playground where there’s too little supervision. That lack of structure often leads to serious management snafus, such as when Sasha Gong, the head of VOA’s Mandarin service, and two of her colleagues were fired for broadcasting a live interview with a Chinese whistleblower who was making charges of corruption against Chinese-government officials. VOA officials defend the firings, saying they resulted from “failures to follow explicit instructions from management and good journalistic practices.”

13. Jim Geraghty reflects: Are we looking at the future of bioterrorism? From the analysis:

If you asked me what worries me today — and what is likely to end up in some future novel — it is that the world’s experience with SARS-CoV-2 is showing the effectiveness of bioweapons in the way that 9/11 demonstrated the effectiveness of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare. Who needs tanks and planes anymore when you can cripple a foreign rival by releasing some virus into its population?

Of course, bioweapons are particularly dangerous, and the world’s experience with this virus is making the risks of bioweapons vivid and unmistakable. Once a virus is released, it doesn’t follow orders, and a virus rarely stays on the side of the border that a government wants. Even if a regime was certain that its responsibility for unleashing a virus would never be discovered, they would run a considerable risk of a virus spreading into its own society and inflicting damage comparable to the target country.

So that creates something of a deterrent factor in the use of bioweapons, along with the U.S. policymakers’ past veiled suggestions that they would respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction against Americans with our own weapons of mass destruction, meaning nuclear weapons.

But the bad news is that the world has its share of lunatics who don’t worry about those kinds of consequences. In 1984, the followers of  cult leader Baghwan Shree Rajneesh put salmonella in salad bars in restaurants in Oregon. The Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo unleashed sarin on the subway system of Tokyo in 1995.

14. Does the countryside beckon? In the Age of Coronavirus, Itxu Díaz can be found idolizing the idyll. From the essay:

A return to the countryside doesn’t just mean changing where we work. In rural life our ancestors cultivated a much healthier family life than we do today. The family, the larger the better, is the cornerstone of life in the countryside. Things work because there is an authority, the hierarchy is obeyed, which also means that elders are respected above all. Many hands and teamwork are needed, and that’s incompatible with the anthropological selfishness inherent in digital leisure.

The chances of a plague or a meteorological disaster ruining your harvest and your economy and emptying your pantry are much greater in the countryside — before the appearance of this pandemic, at least — and that has resulted in country folk cultivating gratitude, humility, and faith. In the countryside, they respect nature even more than ecologists from Stockholm, no matter how much the latter congratulate themselves on crossing the Atlantic in a non-motorized catamaran. On the other hand, a humble outlook results in farmers having great respect for tradition, seeing it as a source of wisdom, experience, and a moral beacon.

For centuries, the countryside economy was based on bartering. Today’s modern economy has also extended into the rural world, increasing its wealth, but it’s interesting how bartering remains with those who live there. In the end, neighbors can’t be strangers in a place where you often need them to help chase away some sort of danger. You have to be self-sufficient in the countryside, but not completely.

Okay, urban life is addictive. And I won’t be the one to deny the pleasure of walking around a big city, strolling through gardens where nature is under control and the ground is freshly vacuumed, going into a shopping center and coming out with a bunch of bags full of books and clothes, or spending hours drinking liters of beer in some pub with the music blaring and surrounded by pretty girls. I’m just trying to say that if this way of life collapses, even just a bit, the city will cease to be a liberation and could turn into a crazy prison full of depressed people wearing muzzles and gloves, walking around yesterday’s promenades like zombies among “For Sale” signs and shrouded in dense melancholy.

15. Mortgage relief language in the CARES Act is seriously flawed, says David Bahnsen. From the analysis:

I do understand that included in those with “Federally backed mortgage loans” (these include loans sponsored by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, so roughly 65 percent of all American mortgages) are some who would genuinely and perhaps even desperately need mortgage forbearance. Even after the direct infusions to American taxpayers, the unemployment-benefits premium, and the support to small business via the Paycheck Protection Program, there will surely be some whose economic circumstances would make servicing their mortgage painful. My guess is that that number is quite low, net of all other support and programs, but I acknowledge existence of that need and concern.

However, where such legitimate need exists, the actual codification that they not be required to document their need whatsoever is simply surreal. It was language begging for a crisis of responsibility. Why not require simple demonstration of hardship to be given interest-free relief from one’s mortgage responsibility for a full calendar year? A simple bank statement, a letter from one’s employer, evidence of mounting credit-card debt — some written support along with an attestation to support the claim of hardship?

By not requiring basic documentation and support, the government has made the claim of hardship and appeal of forbearance irresistible. The number of borrowers claiming this right under the CARES Act surged 60 percent this week over the prior week; they now represent a stunning 5.95 percent of total serviceable loans. A significant increase in such requests is widely expected again in the weeks ahead, when May mortgage payments are due.

We learned in the 2008 financial crisis that too many Americans do not need to be encouraged not to make their mortgage payments; for a substantial portion of the population, when some economic calculus suggested not paying their mortgage (generally because the value of the home was lower than the debt on the home), far too many were quite comfortable breaching contract and not making payment. In chapter 4 of my book Crisis of Responsibility, I addressed this very systemic phenomenon.

16. Ken Langone argues that the public needs to trust journalists, a trust that American journalists are making extra efforts to undermine by carrying water for Communist China. From the piece:

Americans would also be right to wonder why more journalists aren’t pursuing a story about China that appears to tick every box in an investigative reporter’s dream assignment. Here we have an ultra-secretive police state that won’t even let its own citizens use Facebook. They put ethnic minorities in concentration camps. The first doctors who sounded the alarm about the virus were forced to recant at gunpoint. Gee, do you think maybe all that is worth a closer look?

Yet the very day after American news media were kicked out of the country, March 18, the Times published an article based entirely on what Chinese officials told them, with the headline “China Hits a Coronavirus Milestone: No New Local Infections.” If Times reporters were not skeptical of that howler, readers sure were. You’d need a welding mask to read the comments on social media beneath the article.

Plenty of other outlets have followed suit and parroted China’s bunk. NPR touted China’s claim that “a majority of cases originated abroad.” Bloomberg declared that “China’s virus cases reach zero.” NBC ran a piece entitled “As U.S. struggles, China asserts itself as global leader.”

That’s what raises the broader problem that makes this more than just a quibble about the posturing of Times journalists. When the public reads news accounts that bestow ridiculous praise on the Chinese government, or that imply readers are dupes for doubting that regime’s ham-fisted propaganda, they are highly likely to discount or reject anything else those publications report about the pandemic.

17. Andrew Stuttaford tells of Emanuel Macron leading France with a major recycling effort . . . of bad, old ideas. From the piece:

At the end of last week, the Financial Times published a lengthy interview with French president Emmanuel Macron in which Macron referred no fewer than nine times to humility and may, occasionally, have meant it:

I don’t know if we are at the beginning or the middle of this crisis — no one knows. . . . There is lots of uncertainty and that should make us very humble.

Macron’s humility only goes so far, and will not have been encouraged by his starstruck interviewers, who write that he is “overtly intellectual [and] always brimming with ideas.”

They are right, but unfortunately, Macron’s ideas are old ideas, if sometimes repackaged.

In his view, the interviewers report, COVID-19 represents an opportunity to put an end to the “hyper-financialized world,” a phantom that exists mainly in the fevered imaginations of communitarians, academics who refer to “late capitalism,” and European politicians. (Recall that, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an earlier French president, Nicolas Sarkozy — seemingly oblivious to the political and economic developments of the previous hundred years — announced that laissez-faire capitalism was “finished.”)

18. Armond White has a lot to say about the Lifetime biopic The Clark Sisters and not too much of it is complimentary. From the review:

It dramatizes how five young women from Detroit, whose mother honed their singing and musical skills, found success in the 1980s. Director Christine Swanson and writer Camille Tucker treat the Clark Sisters like Broadway and Hollywood’s Dreamgirls treated Motown’s The Supremes — as templates of bootstrap ambition and women’s tribulations. But the filmmakers and Lifetime don’t deal with what made them exceptional: the specifics of black American religion and the age-old struggle between sacred and secular aspiration.

By turning the Clark Sisters into victims, the biopic becomes one more saga about women oppressed by envious, authoritarian men, plus the stigma of conservative religion. You’d never know from this film that matriarch Mattie Moss Clark (played by actress Aunjanue Ellis) was an esteemed, innovative choral arranger driven by religious conviction to change the style of musical gospel’s powerful invocation. She conducted the Southwest Michigan State Choir, made popular through its Savoy-label albums that preserved the spiritual thrust of sanctified music like no other gospel recordings — a power and vibrancy unmatched by such mainstream gospel icons as The Staple Singers who won acclaim as offshoots of secular folk music.

Ellis’s casting presents a dark-skinned Oprah Winfrey archetype, which overlooks the thorny phenomenon of light-complexioned strivers in favor of fashionable misandry — the hardships of a woman living a sexless life out of bitterness, celibacy being unthinkable. (Nothing here matches the gospel documentary Say Amen, Somebody, in which singer Delois Barrett and her husband peaceably compromise on their competing ministries.)

Podcastapalooza

1. Selfishly placing this first, the co-host of the Victor Davis Hanson Podcast acclaims Episode 12, in which the program’s namesake takes on a slew of topics, making the case for the pushback by fed-up Americans intent on protecting their rights from oats-feeling authoritarian officials (and experts!), discussing an important H. R. McMaster essay on China, waxing on Donald Trump’s political standing and his executive-order plan to suspend immigration, and reflecting on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Berlin. You want a link? Here’s the link! Now listen.

2. Episode 209 of The Editors is a gem. Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss the protests bubbling up around the country, the president’s new declaration about immigration, and much more. Hear here!

3. On the latest Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss hyperpoliticized journalism and a Harvard Law professor’s attack on homeschoolers. All the merriment can be found here.

4. John J. Miller affords Episode 296 of The Bookmonger to a discussion with David Satter about his new book, Never Speak to Strangers. Listen here.

5. JJM then does the Great Books switcheroo and is joined by David Hein to discuss William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Sharpen the spears and listen here.

6. Will Donald Trump save the Golden State? On the new episode of Radio Free California, Will and David say that they think yes. And they think about plenty more. Strap on the headphones dudes, right here!

The Six

1. H.R. McMaster pens an absolutely must-read essay in The Atlantic on the threat China and its global-hegemon dreams pose to America and the world. From the essay:

As China pursues its strategy of co-option, coercion, and concealment, its authoritarian interventions have become ubiquitous. Inside China, the party’s tolerance for free expression and dissent is minimal, to put it mildly. The repressive and manipulative policies in Tibet, with its Buddhist majority, are well known. The Catholic Church and, in particular, the fast-growing Protestant religions are of deep concern to Xi and the party. Protestant Churches have proved difficult to control, because of their diversity and decentralization, and the party has forcefully removed crosses from the tops of church buildings and even demolished some buildings to set an example. Last year, Beijing’s effort to tighten its grip on Hong Kong sparked sustained protests that continued into 2020—protests that Chinese leaders blamed on foreigners, as they typically do. In Xinjiang, in northwestern China, where ethnic Uighurs mainly practice Islam, the party has forced at least 1 million people into concentration camps. (The government denies this, but last year The New York Times uncovered a cache of incriminating documents, including accounts of closed-door speeches by Xi directing officials to show “absolutely no mercy.”)

Party leaders have accelerated the construction of an unprecedented surveillance state. For the 1.4 billion Chinese people, government propaganda on television and elsewhere is a seamless part of everyday life. Universities have cracked down on teaching that explains “Western liberal” concepts of individual rights, freedom of expression, representative government, and the rule of law. Students in universities and high schools must take lessons in “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” The chairman’s 14-point philosophy is the subject of the most popular app in China, which requires users to sign in with their cellphone number and real name before they can earn study points by reading articles, writing comments, and taking multiple-choice tests. A system of personal “social credit scores” is based on tracking people’s online and other activity to determine their friendliness to Chinese government priorities. Peoples’ scores determine eligibility for loans, government employment, housing, transportation benefits, and more.

The party’s efforts to exert control inside China are far better known than its parallel efforts beyond China’s borders. Here again, insecurity and ambition are mutually reinforcing. Chinese leaders aim to put in place a modern-day version of the tributary system that Chinese emperors used to establish authority over vassal states. Under that system, kingdoms could trade and enjoy peace with the Chinese empire in return for submission. Chinese leaders are not shy about asserting this ambition. In 2010, China’s foreign minister matter-of-factly told his counterparts at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: “China is a big country, and you are small countries.” China intends to establish a new tributary system through a massive effort organized under three overlapping policies, carrying the names “Made in China 2025,” “Belt and Road Initiative,” and “Military-Civil Fusion.”

2. At First Things, Kevin Watson explores the crack-up in the Methodist Church. From the essay:

One can certainly say that the United Methodist Church is a failed experiment in theological pluralism. But that line of analysis does not go back in history far enough. The mistakes made at the founding of the UMC were largely predictable based on previous developments, for the history of Methodism in America is one of conflict over cultural accommodation.

In the current disagreements about same-sex marriage and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” progressive leaders frequently appeal to a myth of progress in American Methodism. The argument goes like this: Methodism used to read the Bible in a way that supported racism and slavery and prevented the ordination of women. But eventually we realized that the Bible was wrong about those ­issues—or at least, that how we interpreted the Bible on those issues was wrong. The prohibition of same-sex marriage is the next link in the chain of injustice that we need to break. We have been using the Bible to discriminate against gays and lesbians, it is argued, and need to progress in the same way that we aligned ourselves with God’s justice in opposition to slavery and the subordination of women.

The problem with this myth is that it is not true. When confronting slavery, racism, and the exclusion of women from the ministry, the dominant strain of Methodism actually conformed to the dominant culture. It did not, as the UMC presumptuously ascribes to itself today, lead the way in progress or “the transformation of the world.” On the contrary, United Methodism in the United States was more often transformed by the world.

3. At City Journal, Edward Glaeser reviews the history of cities and pandemics. From the piece:

But density and connection to the outside world— the defining characteristics of great cities—can also turn deadly. Plague struck Athens in 430 BC, when its citizens were packed more closely together than usual because they were avoiding the Spartan army. Thucydides, who caught the disease and recovered, claimed that it originated in Ethiopia and passed through Egypt. The plague killed tens of thousands, including Pericles, and probably led to Athens’s defeat in the Peloponnesian War and eclipse as a great metropolis.

One millennium later, another plague struck Constantinople and ended the emperor Justinian’s attempt to rebuild the glory of Rome. Justinian’s plague was the first recorded mass appearance of Yersinia pestis, the flea-borne illness known as the Black Death, which would slaughter Europeans by the millions. Cities were, as always, particularly vulnerable because they were ports of entry for diseased fleas and because urban proximity enabled the spread of illness.

Only in the past century have cities ceased to be killing fields. A boy born in Shakespeare’s London or Edith Wharton’s New York City could expect to live six years less than a boy born in the countryside. Water-borne illnesses, like cholera and typhoid, killed thousands until cities spent massively on water systems. Mosquitoes carried yellow fever and malaria. Diseases that travel by droplet, including smallpox and influenza—and now Covid-19—prove particularly hard to disrupt, without a vaccine.

4. In the new issue of The New Criterion, Jonathan Leaf makes the case for the largely forgotten American novelist, Peter De Vries. From the reflection:

It must be admitted, too, that De Vries had several large defects as a writer of fiction. Somerset Maugham once said that novelists had to be extroverts. I think Maugham meant by this that novelists need to have a basic enthusiasm for the world and the people in it, one that inspires them to go out and investigate their subjects. In that sense, Tom Wolfe was the post-war American writer most suited to carrying on and inheriting the novelistic legacy of Dickens and Balzac.

De Vries didn’t have this quality. Born and raised in Chicago, he spent much of his working life in and around New York. But the flavor of neither city is in his work. Nor are the people. Like so many of his generation, he moved to the suburbs to raise a family with his wife, Katinka. But Westport, Connecticut—the town in which he lived much of his adult life—turns up only fleetingly in his fiction. Instead, his novels frequently engage in various forms of parody. They are sometimes as much about literature as they are about social currents and trends and the corruption and glamour of modern America.

This was especially true of his early books The Tunnel of Love and The Mackerel Plaza. These were often not much more than attempts to string together gags and witticisms, and while they will appeal to those who like S. J. Perelman, I doubt that they will satisfy many others.

Moreover, while De Vries greatly improved at scene construction and plotting through the course of his career, he never really excelled at either. What he offered readers in place of these skills was extraordinary wit and cleverness, roguish charm and vivacity, and a graceful style. Those attributes were buttressed by lightness of touch, imagination, and a measure of humanity.

5. Gatestone Institute’s Richard Kemp sees the coronavirus pandemic as a 9/11 moment for the West, which has long ignored China’s intentions. From the analysis:

Like 9/11, Covid-19 must now force the West to wake up and fight back.

China today is by far the greatest threat to Western values, freedom, economy, industry, communications and technology. It threatens our very way of life. China’s objective is to push back against the US and become the dominant world power by 2049, a century after the creation of the People’s Republic. Dictator for life Xi Jinping has no intention of doing this through military conflict. His war is not fought on the battlefield but in the boardroom, the markets, the press, universities, cyberspace and in the darkest shadows.

Those who argue China’s right to compete with the West in free markets and on a level playing field seem not to comprehend that Beijing has no free market and no intention of playing on a level field. The world’s leading executioner, China is an incomparably ruthless dictatorship that tortures, disappears and imprisons its people at will and controls its massive population through a techno-surveillance infrastructure that it’s busy exporting around the world to extend its political and economic control to us.

For decades, China has been working on its three-pronged strategy: building its economy and fighting capability, including intelligence, technology, cyber and space as well as hard military power; developing global influence to exploit resources and secure control; thrusting back and dividing the US and its capitalist allies.

6. No Joking: At The College Fix, Connor Ellington reports on a college firing that begins with a microaggression about microaggressions. From the beginning of the story:

The University of North Texas fired a full-time math professor for the weighty crime of disagreeing with fliers on “microaggressions,” according to a First Amendment lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court.

Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Nathaniel Hiers alleges the taxpayer-funded institution rescinded his spring contract “without notice” for making a joke. UNT retaliated against him, engaged in content- and viewpoint-based discrimination, and attempted to compel speech from him.

When Hiers noticed “a stack of fliers” on microaggressions in the department faculty lounge in November, he read them and found the ideas wanting. Then he wrote “Don’t leave garbage lying around” in jest on a chalkboard, with arrows pointing to the fliers (above), according to the suit.

The fliers come from the University of New Hampshire’s ADVANCE program to support female faculty in STEM disciplines, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The first two pages focus on “gender microaggressions” and appear to have been compiled internally at UNH from various internet sources. The last two attribute their content to a 2010 work by the main popularizer of the microaggressions concept, Columbia psychologist Derald Wing Sue, who has publicly criticized colleges for using his research in “punitive” ways.

BONUS: At the Wall Street Journal, our old pal Chris DeMuth lauds the Trump administration by fighting a pandemic with deregulation. From the essay:

In response to the 2008 crisis, the administration arranged corporate mergers and bailouts with only fig leaves of statutory authority. It spent hundreds of billions of dollars without congressional appropriation. These crisis expedients provided the template for the Obama administration’s unilateral responses to mere political frustrations—congressional inaction on its climate change, immigration and other legislative proposals. At the same time, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 commissioned an army of new regulatory authorities with unprecedented discretion and autonomy.

It is not only crises that propel the administrative state. Lesser events of the 2000s—accounting scandals and a spike in energy prices—also led to new layers of freewheeling federal power. But major emergencies have unfailingly been major inflection points.

Until now. In responding to the coronavirus, the Trump administration has confined itself to longstanding statutory authorities that have been invoked routinely in responding to lesser emergencies. President Trump has used the Stafford Act of 1988 to provide states with emergency financial assistance—but has deferred to their decisions regarding social confinement, business closures, testing and treatment. He has employed the Defense Production Act of 1950 to cajole manufactures to prioritize urgently needed medical equipment—but has relied primarily on consultation, coordination and publicity to coach a private-sector-led mobilization. He has declared a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which can potentially trigger extraordinary regulatory powers—but so far he has used it only for deregulatory purposes, waiving Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules that restrict telemedicine and interstate medical practice.

Mr. Trump has received criticism from all sides for these measured responses. It is said, on the one hand, that he should aggressively commandeer state police powers and industrial resources to mount a uniform national response—and, on the other (sometimes by the same critics), that the crisis will sooner or later unleash the authoritarian ambitions Mr. Trump has supposedly been harboring all along.

His replies have been characteristically adamant. He has extolled his administration’s performance on the measures that are unarguably federal jurisdictions—restricting foreign travel, deploying the military’s medical resources, mobilizing production of materials in short supply and allocating them among states and cities, providing information on the spread of the virus and guidance on mitigation measures. He has been jealous of federal prerogatives and sharply critical of governors and business executives he regarded as uncooperative.

Lights, Camera, Action!

1. Dennis Prager interviews the great Paul Johnson. View it here.

2. John Stossel takes on coronavirus overreach. Get a bellyful here.

3. Kat Timpf and Katie Yoder chat about why it’s OK to feel bad and off during the lockdown. Grab your meds and pay attention here.

The Churchill / Trump Nexis

My dear pal Nick Adams, an American born by mistake in Australia, frequent Fox guest, the founder of FLAG, the author of Green Card Warrior and Retaking America, Crushing Political Correctness, has a new book coming out in a few weeks — Trump and Churchill: Defenders of Western Civilization — and while you’re waiting out the lockdown, click that link to pre-order a copy. So you say . . . “Trump? And . . . Churchill?” Which is what Newt Gingrich first said. But as he read the galleys, he agreed — via his foreword to the book, from which we provide a healthy slice — that Nick was indeed onto something quite important. From the foreword:

If Churchill is obvious as a champion of Western civilization, the case for President Donald Trump is a little more challenging, but in the end I think it holds up.

Reagan was a great president (I campaigned with him and for him in the 1970s and as a member of Congress worked with him in the 1980s and based the Contract with America in 1994 on Reagan’s ideas). He had an enormous impact on the world and was the key person forcing the collapse of the Soviet Union (it is impossible to imagine a reelected President Jimmy Carter leading to the end of the Soviet Union).

However President Reagan did not wage the cultural war with the left, which meant that we defeated communism in Moscow but lost to it on campuses. The continuing drift to the left was barely slowed by the Reagan administration and not affected at all by the two Bush administrations.

President Trump is a much greater defender of Western civilization than his predecessor because he is in a much more difficult situation. In many ways the crisis of the West that Trump confronts is much like Britain after the disastrous withdrawal at Dunkirk.

The very seriousness of the current cultural civil war can be seen in the 92 percent hostile coverage in the major media. The three years of unending and dishonest investigations. The guerrilla war being waged by permanent civil servants especially in the Justice Department and the national security apparatus.

President Trump has been attacked and battered twenty times as much as President Reagan was because he is a mortal threat to the left.

The success of the Trump-McConnell team in getting 161 federal judges approved (as of the date I am writing, still more are in process) is a mortal threat to the most effective strategy the left has had. For two generations the left has developed weird un-American left wing ideas and then used unelected judges to impose them so the power of the government was coercing the American people into change.

Trump’s strategic genius (a point Nick Adams makes clear) is in understanding that he wants to effect permanent change toward judges who want to enforce the law. The result has been a principle that all district court judges have to be under fifty years of age. The result is going to be at least a full generation of more constitutionally compliant judges.

These are the kind of changes that drive the left crazy and make Trump their mortal enemy.

Since the left was on the verge of destroying America as it has been and replacing it with a radical America, their frenzy at the defeat of 2016 is even greater.

Nick Adams has done a service for all of us and for future generations by tying together the leadership capabilities and moral commitment of these two great men.

Churchill did save civilization in the twentieth century.

Now it is our job to help President Trump save civilization in the twenty-first century.

Again, do order your pre-publication (May 19) copy of Trump and Churchill: Defenders of Western Civilization. If enough of you do that, maybe Nick and I will cut a video of us dueting Waltzing Matilda.

Baseballery

As official tie games go, this one was a doozie. Not the Mother of All Tie Games — more on that next week — but perhaps the Aunt. It happened on Saturday, July 21, 1945 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, a day game that went on and on, into the darkening evening, as the visiting first-place Detroit Tigers could not prevail over the basement-dwelling Athletics. After 24 innings, the last 17 scoreless, the umps called it — a 1–1 tie. It would prove, as ties do, of no account in the standings, which in turn proved a close call for the Tigers, who won the AL pennant by a slim 1.5 games, ahead of the Washington Senators.

The starting pitcher that day for the home team was Russ Christopher, the ace (13–13, 3.17 ERA) of the hapless and last-place Athletics. He scattered five measly hits over 13 innings, and in the next frame, manager Connie Mack handed the ball to the aging Jittery Joe Berry, who held the Tigers scoreless for 11 innings, giving up but six hits.

This is one of the amazingly rare times when — in the same contest, and for the same team — two pitchers threw essentially extra-inning games.

(Another example: This 1921 contest between the Washington Senators and the St. Louis Browns, when Nats starter George Mogridge lasted 9.1 innings and was relieved by Jose Acosta, who went 9.2 innings, but took the loss when he gave up two runs to St. Louis in the 19th; the Browns’ Dixie Davis went the distance and earned the victory.)

Back to 1945 in the City of Brotherly Love: Tigers starter Len Mueller went 19.2 innings (Dizzy Trout relieved him) in his no-decision effort. Mueller estimated he threw 370 pitches that day.

His has been the most innings tossed by one pitcher in a game in the last 90 years (prior to that, in a May 24, 1929 contest at Comiskey Park, Tiger George Uhle hurled 20 innings in a 6–5 win over the White Sox, whose starting pitcher, Hall of Famer Ted Lyons, took the loss after tossing 21 complete innings).

Of note in the 1945 box score: Future Hall-of-Famer George Kell, playing third base for the As, went hitless in 10 at-bats, while shortstop Ed Busch was 1-for-10; while Tiger catcher Bob Swift and second baseman Eddie Mayo both were hitless in 9 at-bats. Tiger third baseman Bob Maier, who had one hit in 10 at-bats, had a chance to end the suffering twice, late in the contest: In the top of the 22nd, with the bases loaded, he flied out to end a rally, and again, in the top of the 24th, with the bases loaded and one out, he ground into a double play.

BASEBALLERY BONUS: By Richard K. Munro, this is a beautiful story about baseball, Hank Aaron, love. They all intersect. Read it here.

A Dios

Thank you to Roberto for sharing this short film with Your Undeserving Scribbler, who in turn will share it with others, prayerful that they might watch it and reflect on and be inspired by a righteous man.

Whether or not you take the bait, we shall end this week’s exercise in mental fidget spinnery by encouraging you to keep in mind that there is this thing called prayer, that it works, that one might even employ it in order to ask of a Merciful God a very specific thing. For example: the peaceful repose of the soul brought down by this pathogen. Or: comfort for those left behind in sorrow. And even: an end to the pandemic, smote in its tracks by the Creator, Who will be within His rights to demand as payment more attention and consciousness to, say, the Third Commandment. Or the Fourth. Or, all.

Prayerful or not, go in blessed peace, intent on performing kindness, seeking naught in return.

May the Alpha and the Omega Encompass in His Merciful Arms You and All You Love,

Jack Fowler, who would delight in shared criticisms of No Place to Hide, if such exists, is at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S. Profound regrets and hopes for acceptance of an apology for this space having forgotten last week to wish our Orthodox brothers and sisters a Blessed and Happy Easter.

National Review

Spirit, That Made Those Heroes Dare . . .

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. . . To die, and leave their children free . . .

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Today, Saturday, is the 18th of April, that date esteemed in patriotic poetry, surely a good time to remember those aged, seminal events that sparked our distinct lives of liberty, as free men and women — the rides of Revere and Dawes through the villages and Middlesex countryside, sounding the alarm of the approaching Redcoats, the shot heard round the world (albeit likely from a British pistol), the battles on the 19th at the Green at Lexington (bloody hell for the colonials) and Concord’s North Bridge (our turn to inflict damage), embattled farmers standing under the unfurled flag . . .

The initial fights (the tubercular Captain John Parker to his vastly outmanned compatriots: “But if they want to have a war let it begin here!”) over the essence of our national being — the consent of the governed — began these days, 245 years ago. The toll: 49 Minutemen were killed (some via the bayonet), 41 were wounded, 5 proved missing. A shame their names are largely unknown. (Our Remedy: You shall find them listed below, by their towns). Even more perished in the actions during the bloodied Redcoats’ retreat to Charlestown. Oremus.

It is good to remember why they died. And remember that the consent of the governed remains America’s vital truth. It is not a fancy that goes into abeyance by bureaucratic whim or that can be commandeered by fiat because a pathogen appears.

By the way: In case you were wondering, as surely you must be, the distance between the Green at Lexington and Wuhan’s CCP-run bat-lab — where this insanity began — is 7,386 miles.

There is much below to entertain your intellect.

Editorials

1. No, Mr. President, you don’t have total authority. From the editorial:

Asked during his press conference by what authority he intends to “reopen” the United States when the threat from coronavirus has dissipated, President Trump struck an absolutist tone. “I have the ultimate authority,” he insisted. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be . . . It’s total. The governors know that.”

In fact, “the governors” do not know that, and nor does anybody else for that matter, because it is simply not true. The United States is a federal republic in which the national government enjoys only limited powers, and in which the president plays a subservient role to Congress within that limited government. There are many actions that the White House can take in the course of fighting this outbreak, but usurping the police powers of the 50 states is not among them. On this, the Constitution is clear.

It has indeed been galling to watch many within the press corps repeatedly ask Trump why he has declined to preempt gubernatorial decisions or shut down grocery stores when he does not enjoy the power to do either. It was galling, too, to watch many of those same voices erupt in indignation when, eventually, he began to talk as if he does. But that, ultimately, is of secondary importance. It is the responsibility of the American president not only to uphold the Constitution in action, but to proselytize on its behalf. To hear the words “the authority is total” pass the lips of our chief executive was jarring, unwelcome, and dangerous. Now, as ever, “L’état, c’est moi” does not translate well into English.

2. Yes, Mr. President, you are right to clobber WHO. From the editorial:

It’s no secret that the White House got off to a late start in combating the coronavirus. Trump downplayed the threat of the disease even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to brace for an outbreak, and we criticized him for it. But this obviously doesn’t vindicate the World Health Organization. We noted its failures last week.

Tedros objected to Trump’s correct decision to impose travel restrictions on China, claiming it would “have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit” — a stark contrast with his deferential statements about China’s response. In mid January, the WHO announced that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus,” despite numerous reports to the contrary. Parroting Chinese misinformation wasn’t enough for Tedros: He went on to praise the Chinese Communist Party for “setting a new standard for outbreak control.” Later, Tedros overruled the objections of WHO colleagues and delayed the declaration of a public-health emergency, which cost the world precious time in preparing for the pandemic.

Because there are no existing vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19, information is our most valuable resource in fighting this pandemic. Policymakers must calibrate their responses based on data collected domestically and received from abroad. In its capacity as the facilitator of international information exchanges, the WHO is supposed to vet and disseminate data from its 194 member states. The organization fell down on this most basic task by buying Chinese spin wholesale.

3. The worst of the worst seems to the in the rear-view mirror. Ahead: The future. What to do about opening up. From the editorial:

Even when businesses and schools do reopen, they should work to keep customers and students separated to the greatest degree practicable. Policymakers should also be mindful of the fact that the disease hits the elderly hard while overwhelmingly sparing children: Continuing to isolate the old while the young return to work and schools reopen will often make sense.

The administration’s guidelines showcase one way of putting these concepts together. Areas with control over their outbreaks and adequate health-care capacity would start by slowly reopening businesses with strict social-distancing rules in place; then proceed, in Phase II, to more relaxed rules and reopening schools; and conclude with Phase III, in which businesses are back in full swing and even members of vulnerable populations can go out and about with some precautions.

Other ways of attacking this problem, though, depend on technologies and capacities that do not yet exist. A drug to treat the worst cases of the disease would be a godsend, saving lives and reducing the risks of reopening. At this writing there are highly promising signs regarding remdesivir, but we need to be aggressively testing as many options as we can. A good treatment is our most likely route out of this mess.

The Horn of NRO Plenty Spilleth Forth Many Links, Thereby Providing Intellectual Refreshment and Edification by Thee and Thine

1. It’s at times of crisis when our freedoms need to be preserved, writes David Harsanyi, not exploited by politicians who hate to see such crises — what was it Rahm said? — go to waste. From the piece:

There has been lots of pounding of keyboards over the power grabs of authoritarians in Central and Eastern Europe. Rightly so. Yet right here, politicians act as if a health crisis gives them license to lord over the most private activities of America people in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

I’m not even talking about national political and media elites who, after fueling years of hysteria over the coming Republican dictatorship, now demand Donald Trump dominate state actions. I’m talking about local governments.

Under what imperious conception of governance does Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer believe it is within her power to unilaterally ban garden stores from selling fruit or vegetable plants and seeds? What business is it of Vermont or Howard County, Ind., to dictate that Walmart, Costco, or Target stop selling “non-essential” items, such as electronics or clothing? Vermont has 628 cases of coronavirus as of this writing. Is that the magic number authorizing the governor to ban people from buying seeds for their gardens?

Maybe a family needs new pajamas for their young kids because they’re stuck a new town. Or maybe mom needs a remote hard drive to help her work remotely. Or maybe dad just likes apples. Whatever the case, it’s absolutely none of your mayor’s business.

It makes sense for places like Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland to ban large, avoidable gatherings. But it is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk.

2. Let’s just go with the title of this Jim Geraghty analysis: “Powerful Americans Were Catastrophically Wrong about China.” From the piece:

For the last thirty years, the vast majority of powerful institutions in the United States placed a gargantuan bet on the idea that the government in Beijing could be a reliable partner in prosperity and would be a responsible actor on the world stage. Many leading politicians in both parties chose to believe this, many foreign-policy wonks chose to believe this, many academics and university administrators chose to believe this, and obviously, corporate America loved the idea of both using Chinese labor for imported goods and receiving access to the Chinese market. This includes Comcast, Disney, Viacom, AT&T, and Fox Corporation — the parent companies of NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and Fox News, among other large multinationals that own major U.S. news organizations.

The controversy over the NBA last year was a vivid demonstration that most of these entities were not going to let little things like the Chinese government forcing over one million ethnic minorities into concentration camps or a brutal crackdown in Hong Kong disrupt these extremely profitable relationships. These American companies had gone way too far down the road of partnership with China to turn back now and could do elaborate mental gymnastics to justify why Chinese oppression and brutality was qualitatively different from oppression and brutality anywhere else. This mentality took root at institutions like the World Health Organization, too.

The problem was, the Chinese government was never the stabilizing, reasonable force for order that these Americans wanted to believe it was. We saw the regime’s true nature over three decades of brutal human-rights abuses and censorship and shameless lies to cover that brutality.

3. Jakub Grygiel pens a strategy memo to ChiCommie boss Xi Jinping. From the piece:

Our dead are an insignificant cost for the global gains the pandemic is bringing us, in large measure because our enemies fear casualties more than we do. Europe, the U.S. and the capitalist enemies in Asia have effectively shut down and, inward-focused, have temporarily withdrawn from the geopolitical competition.

Economically, the West is undergoing a massive disruption. One-third of the U.S. economy has stopped, while the federal deficit has skyrocketed because of a stimulus package. Italy, the world’s eighth-largest economy (and the EU’s third-largest) has been shut down for more than a month. It will not reopen before the summer. Similar situations are visible in the other Western economies.

This creates two immediate benefits for us. First, your decision to reopen our economy, even in Wuhan, will allow us to grow economically while our rivals go through a depression; our relative power will increase. Second, there will be many struggling businesses across the West that will survive only if we provide them financial support, allowing us to harvest even more aggressively their technology and intellectual property. The pandemic is opening the doors for us to grab a lot of Western industrial capabilities.

4. A well-informed public, says Victor David Hanson, can make the vital decisions facing America. From the reflection:

Some will claim that pessimistic models were valuable in shocking public officials into draconian measures that alone rendered the virus to the lethal status of a bad flu — and thus must continue. So why trash the quarantines that allowed the discussion to return to work to proceed or indeed give us the opportunity to compare deaths to a bad flu year? Their point is that even if the virus could be found to be no more lethal than the flu, by curbing cases, deaths are also curbed, even if only 1-3 per 1000 infected.

Others will point out that the fatality to case percentage rate is not so important, given that this nasty virus can mysteriously kill on rare occasions those in their 30s-to-50s in a way not associated with the flu. It’s supposedly like a lone sniper that can take out anyone anytime, regardless of age, health, and location. After all, in 2017, when over 60,000 died from the flu, we did not read horrific stories of individual influenza suffering and tragic deaths in a way we daily read in the case of the current infection.

And still more will object that if quite radical changes in public hygiene were necessary just to reduce the virus to just possibly flu percentages, then it is inherently more contagious, dangerous, and lethal.

A few will insist that risking 60,000 deaths is not worth the gamble of restoring the economy, and that by inference our prior reactions to 1957 or 2017 were misguided and only now do we see our tragically enfeebled and derelict past responses.

Those could be valid public worries. But right now, the nation’s purposes are twofold: Don’t escalate the virus into a true pandemic of 1957 or 1918 proportions, and don’t wreck the economy with untold health consequences for hundreds of millions and financial burdens for generations yet to come.

5. More Harsanyi: And now, the real Russian scandal. From the analysis:

Will someone with access ask former high-ranking Justice Department officials such as James Comey whether they were aware that the warrants obtained for eavesdropping on a presidential campaign were partisan documents contaminated with information from a foreign intelligence agency?

It should be reiterated that the FISA applications sought by the FBI were almost “entirely” predicated on the fabulist Steele dossier, according to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Further, the agents also left out contradictory, exculpatory evidence when kicking off the spying against Carter Page. And Horowitz recently reported that, from October 2014 to September 2019, virtually every application for a FISA warrant featured “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and “fraudulent” evidence.

After Trump won the election in 2016, Obama holdovers and opponents of the president in new administration began leaking misleading snippets of the Trump–Russia investigation to a largely pliant media, which used to it fuel partisan hysteria that dominated American media coverage for three years.

All of this then sparked an open-ended independent Robert Mueller investigation that, though it failed to come back with a single indictment against anyone for criminal conspiracy with Russia during the 2016 campaign, succeeded in overwhelming our news coverage and convincing many gullible voters that the Russians had stolen the election.

Seems like there’s a huge and important story to tell here. To better understand how big, try to imagine the firestorm that would consume all of our lives if we learned that Trump’s Justice Department had knowingly relied on Russian disinformation, paid for by the RNC, to spy on the Biden campaign.

6. Obese Chance: Rich Lowry says James Comey should have to apologize for the FBI’s contemptible actions. From the column:

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Russian investigation as launched and conducted by James Comey’s FBI deserves to rank as one of the agency’s great blunders — at best.

President Donald Trump famously calls the investigation a hoax, a label he uses liberally, but in this instance it may literally be true.

We’ve spent years obsessing about Russian interference in our politics, and now it turns out that the original FBI investigation into the Trump campaign that morphed into the Mueller probe may have been instigated, in part, by Russian disinformation.

In other words, the Russians may have succeeded in getting us to turn even more viciously against ourselves and conduct our politics in an ongoing crisis atmosphere — all by feeding a few lies to a private eye hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump.

And the people who did the most to whip up this hysteria were the same ones who professed to be most alarmed at Russian meddling.

7. Dan McLaughlin lifts up the New York Times #MeToo double standard — as applied to Joe Biden — and finds a single one. From the piece:

A remarkable thing happened Monday: The New York Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, actually had to answer questions about his paper’s very different coverage of sexual-assault allegations against Joe Biden and Brett Kavanaugh. It did not go well. It is simply impossible to read the interview and the Times coverage of the two cases and come away believing that the Times acted in good faith or, frankly, that it even expects anyone to believe its explanations. The paper’s motto, at this point, may as well be “All the News You’re Willing to Buy.”

For all their lectures to the public about transparency and fearless independence, prestige journalists tend to be very reluctant to face accountability of their own. Ben Smith, who only recently left his position as editor in chief of BuzzFeed for a perch as media reporter for the Times, deserves credit for putting Baquet to some tough questioning. Let’s walk through the Times’ very belated report on the Biden allegations and Baquet’s defenses of that reporting. The article, blandly titled “Examining a Sexual Assault Allegation Against Biden,” ran on A20 of the Easter Sunday edition of the paper. On the same day, the Times opinion page ran a much more visible op-ed by Biden himself on his proposals to reopen the country.

When Biden entered the presidential race in April 2019, he was faced with a flurry of accusations by various women he’d interacted with over the years. The charges had a common thread: Biden has long been too free with his hands, with physical contact such as hugging and kissing and touching and smelling women’s hair, without regard for their personal space or consent. When the Times editorial board met with Biden in January, it asked him no questions about any of this, but it did press him over not being sufficiently aggressive in supporting Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Tara Reade was one of the women who accused Biden in early 2019, but at the time, she did not accuse Biden of sexually assaulting her by penetrating her with his hands under her skirt, as she has now. Biden has never been asked personally to respond to Reade’s allegation. The Times assigned multiple reporters to the story but printed his campaign’s formal denials without addressing whether it had asked Biden himself to comment. Its report expressed no concerns that there has been inadequate investigation of the charge.

8. More Groping Biden: Alexandra DeSanctis finds that the New York Times’s formal pontificators have, like the parent, abandoned their rules and rationales and outrages established in the Era of Kavanaugh. From the commentary:

Writing yesterday in the New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg exemplifies how not to opine on politics if you wish to be taken seriously by any significant percentage of your readers.

“What to Do With Tara Reade’s Allegation Against Joe Biden?” is the title of her most recent column, and the subheading: “A sexual assault accusation against the presumptive Democratic nominee is being used to troll the #MeToo movement.”

Contrast this tone with the one Goldberg employed in 2018 when writing in response to sexual-misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The title of that column? “Pigs All the Way Down,” and the subtitle: “Kavanaugh and our rotten ruling class.”

Goldberg opened that September 2018 screed by recounting Deborah Ramirez’s allegation against Kavanaugh and, to her credit, noting that the New Yorker had failed to find a single eyewitness to corroborate the claim. But that fact made little difference to Goldberg.

“Regardless of what happens to Kavanaugh, however, this scandal has given us an X-ray view of the rotten foundations of elite male power,” she wrote. “Despite Donald Trump’s populist posturing, there are few people more obsessed with Ivy League credentials. Kavanaugh’s nomination shows how sick the cultures that produce those credentials — and thus our ruling class — can be.”

9. John Hirschauer offers more on the Times’s convoluted ’splainin’ for its coverage of the Biden allegations. From the piece:

In his interview with Ben Smith, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said that the reason he took 19 days to run a story mentioning the assault allegation against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden was his desire to do the necessary “reporting to help people figure out what to make of it.” He insisted upon being thorough — Biden’s alleged forcible penetration of former staffer Tara Reade was, in Baquet’s words, a “fairly serious allegation against a guy who had been a vice president of the United States and was knocking on the door of being his party’s nominee.” There was a lot on the line, and he wanted to get it right.

In his telling, Baquet proceeded with caution and refused to run a “straightforward news story” when Reade first publicly accused Biden of assault on March 25. A “short, straightforward news story,” he said, would not “have helped the reader understand.” And that is the most important thing, Baquet emphasized: That you understand.

I do understand, as a matter of principle, why a news organization would take more than two weeks to report Tara Reade’s assault allegation against Joe Biden. A newspaper should want to take its time with a “fairly serious” allegation of sexual misconduct. Lives and reputations are at stake. Joe Biden is a married man. He has children, and grandchildren. Publishing an allegation of sexual assault against him without first corroborating the accuser’s story — or venturing to find out whether the accuser is the least bit credible — would be tantamount to slander.

10. Conrad Black beats Tom Friedman like a drum over his preposterous “unity cabinet” advice for Joe Biden. From the column:

Tom Friedman the amiable but compulsively mistaken columnist of the New York Times, has produced a proposal for Joe Biden to nominate in advance a unity cabinet, composed of an ideological range of people from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Mitt Romney. This argument, and the reasoning given for it, are so preposterous that a cordial reply seems called for: This is the same columnist who told his readers that the purported Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was an invasion of American sovereignty as profound, outrageous, and threatening as the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. It is the same person who informed President Obama that Obama had created a foreign-policy “doctrine” like those of his predecessors James Monroe, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon (all very successful foreign-policy presidents), in Obama’s case by making preemptive and unrequited concessions to Cuba and Iran. I could go on if there were a need for it.

Friedman wrote in the Times on April 7 that Joe Biden must announce at his party’s convention the composition of an entire cabinet, including a number of Republicans. To set the stage for this dramatic proposal, he laid down the customary Times artillery barrage of aggressive disparagements on the incumbent: President Trump seeks to “exacerbate the worst” in America and it is a matter of “life and death” to get rid of him, as he only seeks to dominate the country with his “48 per cent (or less)” of voters, to “suppress the vote,” and to “squeak by” in gaming the electoral system. Reelecting Trump would be “the moment America ceded its global leadership to China.” Having thus established the necessity of his proposal, Friedman counseled Biden to recruit those who would “believe in science,” so they could deal with climate change, along with people who in the present crisis “took the science of this epidemic seriously” and would be open to extraordinary measures to help the disadvantaged, support the public sector, and ensure universal health care (though not, to be fair, with the Sanders–Warren–Ocasio-Cortez single-payer Leviathan straitjacket). This great act of unification is necessary to prevent “four more years of lying, dividing, and impugning experts.” How Friedman expects to build unity by smearing and defaming the “basket of deplorables” half of the country that has steadily supported Trump isn’t clear.

11. Andy McCarthy applauds the Justice Department for having the back of religious liberty. From the analysis:

State and municipal governments have the power to protect their citizens from the spread of infectious disease. “There is no pandemic exception, however, to the fundamental liberties the Constitution safeguards.” So wrote the Justice Department’s civil-rights lawyers, intervening on behalf of a local church in its lawsuit against city authorities in Mississippi, who had prohibited communal religious services, even though those services rigorously honored governmental social-distancing guidelines.

Faced with the Justice Department’s opposition, the city of Greenville has backed down. The Temple Baptist Church, which had sued the city, will be permitted to proceed with its drive-in services, convened in the church parking lot over FM radio.

The case is a significant one, given the ongoing tension between (a) governmental restrictions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and (b) individual liberties vouchsafed by our fundamental law, such as the freedoms to travel, associate with others, and exercise one’s religion. As I’ve noted before, the history of our country teaches that, in times of crisis, the courts tend to give a wide berth to executive police powers. When excesses inevitably occur in enforcing restrictions, resulting lawsuits are usually not decided until the emergency has subsided.

The coronavirus epidemic is proving to be an exception to this pattern.

12. Kat Timpf offers New Jersey governor Phil Murphy an education on the Constitution, that thing with which he is quite unfamiliar, despite swearing an oath to uphold it. From the piece:

Again: This is an absolute fact. It’s not up for debate, and what’s more, it’s not as if Murphy had no way to know so. Rather, before officially beginning his tenure as governor, Murphy himself took an oath of office that doesn’t just state but actually begins with the following: “I, _____, elected governor of the State of New Jersey, do solemnly promise and swear, that I will support the Constitution of the United States . . .”

In other words? In January 2018, Murphy solemnly promised, he solemnly swore, to uphold the Constitution — and now, in April 2020, he is declaring the exact same duty that he’d vowed to hold sacred to be “above [his] pay grade.”

The truth is, Murphy’s comments represent an ideology that is completely unacceptable for a government leader in the United States. The philosophy of governance that he espoused on Wednesday was that not of an elected official in a free country but of a tyrant. That is, after all, what tyranny is — a system in which the people in power control citizens without any regard for their rights.

Again, I am not slamming Murphy for saying he listened to what scientists had to say when deciding how to best protect his constituents from the threats of a global pandemic. Coronavirus is, for many, a matter of life and death — so I am glad to hear that he’d been seeking expert guidance in making these decisions.

Here’s my question for Murphy, though: Why do you think that those scientists couldn’t just directly put all of these social-distancing measures in place themselves? The answer, of course, is that Murphy absolutely did have his own role to play in the process — and that is, in large part, to do exactly what he himself swore that he would do when he agreed to take this job.

13. Charles Silver and David Hyman say if the pandemic has exposed anything, it’s the lunacy of the idea of national health care. From the piece:

The response to the COVID-19 crisis is a case study in governmental ineptness. In 2006, the federal government estimated that 70,000 ventilator machines would be needed in a moderate influenza epidemic. Instead of going with a large, established device maker, in 2010 HHS hired Newport Medical Instruments, a small one, to build a fleet of inexpensive portable devices. Before production started, however, NMI was purchased by Covidien, a larger device maker. Eventually, Covidien backed out of the contract, no ventilators were delivered, and the government enlisted a new vendor in 2019. The government also allowed a contract dispute to interfere with the maintenance of the ventilators it already had. Consequently, when COVID-19 hit, the federal supply of ventilators was far too small and thousands of the machines the government did have didn’t work. Fourteen years after the call for ventilators went out, the federal government is just starting to fill the need.

What about drugs? Scientists are now studying whether Remdesivir may be effective in fighting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Remdesivir was developed six years ago to combat various viruses, including dengue fever, the West Nile virus, Zika, MERS, SARS, and Ebola. But it was never approved for use — apparently because Gilead Sciences (the patent holder) saw too little financial gain to warrant the cost of the FDA’s approval process. The result is that we are effectively starting from scratch in the search for a COVID-19 treatment.

The federal government also botched the process for creating and administering coronavirus tests. Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new variant, a new test was needed to track its spread. German researchers developed one in mid-January, but the CDC decided not to use it, instead pressing ahead with the development of a separate test. When that test was released in late January, it proved faulty, and the FDA prevented private laboratories from developing tests of their own. The CDC also distributed its few test kits equally to labs across the country, without regard to the size of local populations. The result was a dramatic shortage of valid tests in populous areas, which created the false impression that the number of cases in the U.S. was low. In early March, facilities in the U.S. had administered 3,099 tests. By comparison, South Korea, a much smaller country whose epidemic started the same day as ours, had administered more than 188,000.

14. The churches may be closed, but Itxu Díaz finds the spiritual consciousness is a-stir. From the essay:

The priest presses the button and starts broadcasting the mass on Facebook Live. He stands in front of the camera and starts the prayers when a virtual futuristic looking helmet lit with colored LED lights is placed on his head. He proceeds with solemn piety, unperturbed by what’s happening, but moments later a warrior’s costume appears to cover him. A few seconds later, he’s wearing shades and a hat like the Blues Brothers’, while Super Mario Bros. coins begin to rain down on the church. The priest in question is Don Paolo Longo of the Church of San Petro and San Benedetto in the Italian town of Polla. It’s March 24, and it’s the first time that he broadcasts services online. The good man has accidentally connected the animated filters. Many decades ago, when Don Paolo was ordained a priest, he was instructed in the seminary on the Third Council of Constantinople, Latin patristic theology, the hypostatic union in Jesus Christ, and other aspects of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. What no one told him back then is that he would also need to learn the Zuckerbergian Charismata.

Don Paolo is one of many thousands of priests and faithful who, in these days of pandemic and closed churches, are suddenly immersing themselves in new technologies. They dare to try everything, thinking of those martyrs that, throughout the centuries, gave their lives to evangelize in the most hostile places on the planet, and how a puny technological barricade designed in a place as corny as Silicon Valley would not be able to stop them now. Now the history of the digital crusade is being written.

15. Brian Riedl finds the prospect of infrastructure stimulus will accomplish one thing: burying America in debt. From the analysis:

First, let’s address the affordability assertions. Even before the pandemic hit, the budget deficit was already set to surpass $1 trillion this year on its way past $2 trillion within a decade under current policies. The cost of pandemic-related legislation, as well as the economic effect of the business shutdowns, threaten to push this year’s budget deficit past $4 trillion, or 20 percent of the economy — a level unseen in American history outside the height of World War II. Adding trillions in stimulus spending would test Washington’s borrowing capacity to a point where the Federal Reserve could have to monetize much of the new debt. This degree of borrowing is uncharted territory in the modern economy.

President Trump asserts that today’s near-zero interest rates make such borrowing affordable. But what matters are the interest rates several years down the road when the planned infrastructure projects finally begin pouring pavement and borrowing money. Additionally, because Washington relies on short-term borrowing (rather than locking in low-interest rates long-term — markets have expressed little interest in such a move), any interest-rate increases over the next few decades will raise the cost of servicing the entire national debt. Each percentage point that interest rates rise raises federal budget interest costs by $1.8 trillion over the decade and $11 trillion over 30 years. This matters a lot when Washington is already projected to run $80 trillion in new deficits over the next 30 years, even before the COVID-19 costs. Infrastructure is a priority, and one that should be paid for in taxes and user fees, rather than added to the already-unsustainable national debt.

Second, advocates assert that massive infrastructure spending will stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Economists across the political spectrum have debunked this myth for the obvious reason that infrastructure projects require several years of planning and regulatory reviews before they begin — at which point the economy has already recovered. In fact, the typical environmental impact statement alone takes 4.5 years to complete. After allocating $94 billion for mostly “shovel-ready” stimulus projects in 2009, President Obama later joked that “Shovel-ready was not as, uh, shovel-ready as we expected.” Former Obama White House chief economist Jason Furman and former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf added that “In the past, infrastructure projects that were initiated as the economy started to weaken did not involve substantial amounts of spending until after the economy had recovered.”

16. Isaac Schorr has Taiwan’s back, and argues for the end of its shameful treatment on the global stage. From the commentary:

Taiwan, the small island off the southern coast of the PRC to which Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled after their defeat in the Chinese Civil War, has turned into a model of democracy, freedom, and human flourishing. It has its own distinct culture and does not consider itself subject to President Xi Jinping’s will or state-imposed Thought. Without the CCP running the show, Taiwan has thrived economically. As one of the four “Asian Tigers,” it has achieved a GDP per capita of over $25,000 USD. The PRC manages to crack just $10,000. Its people enjoy broad free-speech rights and are not persecuted for the practice of their respective religions. In other words, it is not the PRC, and the time has come to dispel the fiction that Taiwan belongs to it.

President-elect Trump took a step in this direction when he accepted a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December 2016. The decision was criticized sharply by many in the foreign-policy establishment as a breach of protocol and a break with the U.S.’s “One China Policy.” For those of us horrified by the world’s persistent acquiescence to the PRC, it was a breath of fresh air. Today, with the brutality of Xi Jinping’s regime made plain by its treatment of the Uyghurs and Hong Kong protesters, and the dangers of its long reach laid bare by the coronavirus crisis and the WHO’s pathetic efforts to cover for the PRC’s role in its spread, the time has come to take the next step. While the U.S. can and should continue to reprimand the Chinese for their actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, these lectures do little to deter the PRC, or inspire anyone to stand up to it. Recognizing Taiwan while still acknowledging the PRC’s claim to the mainland, on the other hand, would represent a significant blow to the PRC and send a signal to the rest of the world that the days of pretending that the world is as the CCP says it is are over. Xi Jinping has said that Taiwan “must and will” be reunited with the PRC. The U.S. should say that it will remain an independent nation — and a beacon of hope to those suffering under authoritarian rule.

17. Armond White sheers the sheeple. From the beginning of the piece:

History comes back to provoke us in New Order’s Singularity music video, which debuted in 2016 but has found fresh popularity. Its new viral status owes to deep quarantine viewing. Confined spectators respond to the video’s depiction of isolation, seclusion, and, finally, rebellion as captured in footage from West Berlin prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The actions shown in Singularity provide a strong contrast to the daily 7 p.m. ritual by self-imprisoned New Yorkers who crack open their apartment windows to clap, bang pots and pans, and cheer. The ceremony, supposedly intended to encourage the city’s first responders, lasts only twice as long as a New York minute — shorter than Singularity itself (4:13). This timid, self-conscious group activity has inspired appreciation of Singularity’s nostalgia for genuine rebellion.

The Twitterverse is aroused by envy. New Order, the distinguished British dance-pop-synth band, had commissioned the Singularity video from designer Damian Hale, an expert in live-concert visuals, who compiled clips from B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 1979–1989. That film was a fact-based chronicle of British music producer Mark Reeder’s experiences in Europe’s post-punk scene; its records frenzy, tumult, and chaos. More than a celebration of youthful uprising, it specifically exhibits live-wire reaction to silence and social obedience — a marked contrast to America’s orderly sequestration during the COVID-19 quarantine.

18. More Armond: It may look like the New York Times Magazine is pranking us, but, nah . . . it’s the same old social engineering on display. From the beginning of his piece:

In the New York Times Style Magazine’s current layout of six black film actresses lounging in pastel designer outfits against a faux-spring backdrop, the image looked suspiciously like an old-fashioned plantation cotillion — or like the pages of Vanity Fair by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz at her maddest. The image is so far away from the reality of the film industry’s new race- and gender-inclusion programs that it must be a prank.

Although the article accompanying the photo is headlined “The Esteemed Black Actresses Who Finally Have the Spotlight,” you would be forgiven if you couldn’t recognize Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Halle Berry, or Kimberly Elise — or articulate the basis of their “esteem.” None are stars who have the clout or name recognition to “open” a film with weekend box-office glory. Their Times masquerade is simply meant to disguise film-industry reality with political fantasy — the diversity-and-equality ideal that exists only in the mind of media hacks whose real work is social engineering. (The Style article is part of a discreetly misleading section titled “We Are Family.”)

The pretense that these barely identifiable actresses represent a ceiling-crashing level of achievement seems part of contemporary media’s stealth propaganda — particularly the fanciful side of the Times’ 1619 Project. That notorious agenda, which rewrites American history as having been determined by a slavery-based ideology and economy, has been widely adopted by copycat media and educators, just as the Times’ cultural coverage dictates the culture copy in most other media. The Style Magazine’s Hollywood-harem layout shifts political focus to the camouflage of showbiz glamour and presumed power.

19. As Mag Szeto explains, pro-democracy Hong Kongers are finding an economic way to protest (of note: they ain’t drinking Starbucks). From the beginning of the piece:

Den Law has made it a habit to check her phone app and look for “yellow restaurants” whenever she eats out.

Since last April, when increasingly violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police regularly broke out on its busy streets, Hong Kong has been color-coded: The “yellow camp” is pro-democracy and anti-government, and the “blue camp” supports the establishment, the police, and Beijing.

There is thus also a “yellow economy.” More and more small shops and eateries publicly endorsed the anti-government movement; phone apps and maps began to label them for consumers who wanted to frequent them.

Meanwhile, there were calls to boycott “blue” enterprises and “red” capital from mainland China — which are mostly big, pro-government corporations — to break their market dominance. Some “blue shops” were vandalized. They included Starbucks in Hong Kong — operated by a local catering company — after the daughter of the company’s founder criticized the protesters and defended the police.

While Law sympathizes with those taking part in violent protests to pressure the Hong Kong administration, she said she never took part.

20. More VDH: The Professor has crafted a post-virus lexicon. From the array:

Fish-tank cleaner = an imaginative viral cure supposedly advocated by Donald Trump

Flattening the curve = pausing for the next outbreak without herd immunity

The flu = a federal felony to mention it in comparison with COVID-19

Globalists = now investing in a cheaper Chinese global vaccine

Globalization = We are all residents of Wuhan now.

Gray matter = capitalizing Chinese Communist companies with Western liquidity

Gun control = only for the little people

21. Time to throw out the WHO hash, says Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes. From the piece:

When Tedros sought to become WHO director-general in 2017, he met with fierce opposition to his candidacy from Ethiopians angry with his service to and defense of the country’s abusive regime, as well as his record as minister of health. He was ultimately confirmed despite allegations that, as minister of health, he directed the cover-up of three deadly cholera epidemics by simply insisting that they were Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD), apparently hoping to avoid the impact that the public admission of a cholera epidemic might have had on Ethiopian tourism and the image of his party.

In retrospect, that episode bears a striking, chilling resemblance to the WHO’s response to the coronavirus’s appearance in China.

For as long as he could, Tedros was happy to validate Beijing’s clumsy efforts to minimize and downplay the viral outbreak in Wuhan. While China was actively covering up the virus and censoring information about it, Tedros lavished praise on Xi Jinping’s response as “transparent,” “responsible,” and “setting a new standard of the world.” Even as international pressure grew, he delayed declaring the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. When the declaration was finally made on January 30, 2020, he was careful to say that, it was “not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have the confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”

Days later, at a time when China had reported 361 deaths from the virus — and when, we know now, the actual number of Chinese deaths was actually much higher — Tedros, echoing the Chinese government’s stance, remained adamantly opposed to restrictions that would “unnecessarily interfere with international trade and travel” in an effort to stop the pandemic’s spread. Until at least as late as February 29, shortly before the extent of the pandemic’s global reach and threat began to become clear, WHO was still officially opposed to such restrictions. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in turn, was all too happy to criticize the United States and other countries that had imposed early travel restrictions on China as having “violated the WHO’s advice.”

22. Biden’s Ox Gored: So much me the #MeToo movement, says Alexandra DeSanctis, who nails the biased lefty media. From the piece:

Even worse, media outlets lent credibility to the outlandish tale of Julie Swetnick, who, again without corroboration, alleged that Kavanaugh had “spiked” drinks at parties in high school to facilitate gang rape. Not only did outlets report on this claim despite the lack of evidence, but they purposely withheld evidence that a woman identified by Swetnick as a witness denied ever having witnessed Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct.

By publicizing accusations that lacked the most basic aspects needed for credibility, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee jettisoned their responsibility to seek the truth and instead used vulnerable women as pawns in an effort to tarnish a political enemy. In doing so, they made it less likely that subsequent women who publicized their credible accusations would be believed.

A year and a half later, Democrats and the media are again undermining the principles of #MeToo, this time by ignoring and downplaying sexual-assault allegations against Joe Biden. While Biden himself has said in the past that we must believe every woman who alleges assault, he has since changed his tune. Now, he and his prominent backers — including one of Kavanaugh’s most vigorous critics, #MeToo celebrity advocate Alyssa Milano — have begun singing the praises of due process.

23. More Andy: These task forces have a problem with the separation of powers. From the beginning of the analysis:

I am all for government officials’ getting the best advice while making policy in a time of crisis. There is nothing wrong with all these people consulting each other, and if a presidential task force is just an informal vehicle for facilitating that process, I suppose that’s fine.

Still, our system is based on separation of powers. We do not have a parliamentary arrangement in which executive and legislative functions are liberally intermingled. Still less do we have a system in which private actors are advantaged over their peers by serving in the government that regulates their industries. The Constitution makes the separation of executive and legislative authority explicit in Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, forbidding legislators from serving as executive officials (“No Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office”).

Again, behind-the-scenes consultations go on all the time. Presidents prudently speak to legislative leaders to get a sense of what Congress is willing to authorize. The executive and legislative branches speak with outside experts to test the pros and cons of existing or prospective policy.

The May 5, 2020, Issue Presents Another All-Out Coronavirus Focus

The new issue includes a trove of wisdom — much of it dedicated to aspects of the pathogen — and, as is our custom, we provide a sampling, and encourage all those who might in this exercise hit the paywall to finally do what you have wanted to do for months and become a subscriber to the paywall-slaying NRPLUS.

1. The issue’s principal piece is Mark Helprin’s major essay encouraging America to figure out a foreign- and national-security policy that is not reactive but course-charting. From the beginning of the essay:

Fifteen years before the coronavirus pandemic, I wrote a speech for a world-renowned physician who was coincidentally the majority leader of the United States Senate, and thus not without influence. He went, wholeheartedly, all-in, delivering it in the Senate, at Harvard Medical School’s most important annual lecture, at Davos, at the Bohemian Grove (where the only Bohemian to enthuse sufficiently to request a copy was Henry Kissinger), and elsewhere.

And, of course, Senator Bill Frist took it to the White House. He presented a strong—one might even say urgent—case for establishing joint research and vaccine-and-curative manufacturing centers judiciously spaced throughout the country; the doubling of medical- and nursing-school outputs; incentives for commercial pharmaceutical and medical-device research and production; increasing the number of hospital beds; providing for the stocks, structures, and reserve personnel for large-scale emergency field hospitals; and laying up stores of necessaries such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and, specifically, ventilators. Given that the laws of economics were not repealed, the ancillary effect of the supply surge in some of these medical goods—such as doctors, nurses, and hospital capacity—would have lowered their cost or at least slowed its rise. He asked for $100 billion per year. Had spending kept up at that level, which it need not have to assure adequate preparation, it would have amounted to only one-quarter of the monies shoveled into the furnace of COVID-19 in the last few weeks alone. He got a total of $2.4 billion over four years for the Strategic National Stockpile that of late has proved wholly inadequate.

This is the American way, a wing and a prayer. We count on the forgiveness of the vast wilderness and its once-perceived infinite resources. Fail, and you can pick up and go elsewhere, all the while enjoying the protection of God and the two great oceans. But those days are over.

2. Casey B. Mulligan proposes that the pandemic presents an opportunity for deregulation. From the piece:

Pandemics are not that rare (each year there is about a 4 percent chance of one involving the flu), but I do not blame regulators for failing to anticipate this one. They do, however, deserve blame for failing to yield more autonomy to households and businesses, which are keenly aware of their changing individual situations.

When President Trump signed the new deregulatory Right to Try Act, allowing eligible patients access to investigational drugs (drugs shown to be safe but not yet FDA-approved because of their un known effectiveness), many commentators scoffed that few patients would receive such drugs who could not already do so by applying to one of the Food and Drug Ad ministration’s special programs. Less than two years later, Right to Try would make it possible to sweep away regulatory delays in developing treatments for COVID-19. The FDA can do a lot more to get out of the way of medical innovation, which could create trillions of dollars of value each year.

When the Obama administration put “net neutrality” price controls on Internet service providers, it never anticipated that the entire country would be simultaneously stuck at home, requiring that various types of Internet traffic be prioritized in ways that the regulation prohibited. Thankfully, net neutrality was overturned in the U.S. not long before the pandemic. European regulators had to beg Netflix to voluntarily cut the quality of the video it delivers to customers in Europe, where net-neutrality rules still apply.

With the massive 2010 Dodd–Frank law, regulators attempted to prevent large banks from putting the entire financial system at risk. But in doing so, they also piled a multitude of restrictions on small banks, which ten years later would (together with large banks) be prevented from serving desperate small-business applicants reeling from coronavirus lockdowns.

Eager to artificially prop up demand for the new—and expensive—“Obamacare” health-insurance plans, federal regulators in 2016 outlawed short-term health-insurance plans lasting more than three months. Several states recently implemented their own prohibitions. Such plans are inexpensive because they allow consumers to forgo various types of coverage (such as that for childbirth or mental health) that they would not need during their brief participation. Regula tors confidently asserted that few people would need such plans. Yet less than four years later, tens of millions of people would be thrown out of work, with no guarantee of being back in less than three months. In 2012, regulators finalized the re

3. Joseph Epstein offers hosannas to the grocery store and the supermarket. From the end of the article:

While the contemporary supermarket cannot hope to replace the old neighborhood grocery store for friendliness, one cannot but admire what it achieves, and marvel at its management. Some years ago Philip Roth, in rather a boringly standard criticism of George W. Bush, said that he wasn’t smart enough to run a hardware store, let alone a country. I recall thinking at the time what an inept simile that was.

Running a hardware store calls for both detailed knowledge and vast competence. Ask a clerk in a hardware store for a rope one wants to use to hang one’s wife, and while escorting you to the rope section of the store, he is likely to ask you how much she weighs. Running a supermarket takes a wider competence and even greater managerial skills. Think on it. Dealing with that wide variety of foods, cleaning products, items of personal hygiene, plants, booze, and what-all else. Hiring and running a staff of a hundred or more people, upon whom one calls for both efficiency and courtesy while able to pay most of them not much above the minimum wage. And keeping the show running, as an increasing number of big-city supermarkets do, 24/7 (unlike the Hasidic detective, who stays on the case only 24/6). Does it seem wrong to say that being responsible for running a supermarket calls for greater skills and more intricate knowledge than running a think tank or a university? Not to me it doesn’t.

The value of having supermarkets has of course been revealed in excelsis during the coronavirus crisis. Without the flow of food and other products that supermarkets have continued to supply us, the country would truly be out of business. The supermarkets, their suppliers, their workers, have made it possible for the rest of us to keep going. When the pantheon of heroes during the current crisis is constructed, they, alongside first responders, physicians, and nurses, must have a prominent place.

4. Frederick Hess finds the pandemic presents the opportunity to consider the virtues and flaws of public education. From the piece:

In recent years, the socializing mission of schools has faced a two-pronged assault. First, over the decades, attacks by the Left on norms and the American project have yielded school systems disinclined to set forth a muscular vision of personal or civic responsibility. Law suits have left schools leery of exerting firm discipline. Disputes over everything from Christmas to parenting have left educators defensive and prone to political correctness. And critiques of America’s “racist” past have left schools loath to teach history or civics in ways that might appear unduly prideful or patriotic.

And then came 21st-century school reformers, who got so enamored of their push to improve reading and math scores that they often turned neglectful when it came to the social mission of schools. Indeed, after the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001, math and reading scores often served as the definitive measure of good schools or good teaching.

Bush secretary of education Margaret Spellings memorably defended NCLB as “99.9 percent pure.” This was so even as NCLB’s myopic focus on reading and math scores meant that more than half of the nation’s schools were labeled as “failing”—at a time when most parents continued to give their local schools an “A” or a “B.” Obama secretary of education Arne Duncan similarly insisted, “If we know how much students are gaining each year . . . we will know which teachers and principals are succeeding.” This became so familiar that it was easy to stop noticing how bizarre it was to see public officials labeling schools as “successful” or “failing” without regard to what parents thought, the status of civics or citizenship instruction, or anything other than reading and math scores.

Fast-forward to today: The striking thing about the pandemic-induced school shutdown is how little of the response to it had to do with the way we’ve talked about schools for most of the past two decades. In a matter of weeks, coronavirus-fueled closures reminded everyone of all the purposes that schools serve that aren’t captured by test scores. In fact, one of current secretary of education Betsy DeVos’s first, and most popular, moves was to waive the federal requirement for state testing.

Podcastapalooza

1. Jim Jam Jumpin’ Jive Jeff Blehar and Scotty Wotty Doo Doo Bertram, we pray got over the disappointment of having been forgotten in this section last week, have the great Cam “Bang-Bang” Edwards as their guest for the new episode of Political Beats, wherein they discuss Fountains of Wayne. Unholster the headphones and listen here.

2. On the latest episode of Radio Free California, Will and David are found to be bullish on California, and maybe even on humanity? And get this: They find that San Francisco provides hope. If you are going to catch something, catch it here.

3. But Wait, There’s More: Just in as we send this off to Editor Phil, Episode 115 of RFC breaks, with Will and constitutional scholar John C. Eastman talking about the limits of a governor’s power to shut down an entire state economy. The bad news: We may be laying the legal foundations for another, more political shutdown in the future. Assemble here and bring your eardrums.

4. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss new developments in the Russia–Trump collusion narrative, coronavirus’s effects on religious liberty, Trump’s attempts to pull funding from the WHO, and much more. Listen here.

5. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss President Trump’s pressers, his tenuous relationship with Dr. Fauci, and more. Wisdom is to be had by listening here.

6. Podcasting machine John J. Miler is joined by Francesca Wade to discuss Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night on the new episode of The Great Books. Extra credit is to be had by merely attending.

7. Then JJM pivots to The Bookmonger, where he is joined by Matthew Algeo to discuss his book, All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy’s 1968 Tour of Appalachia. Listen up here.

8. At Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss what power the president actually has, and the mainstream media’s double standards when it comes to reporting on sexual assault allegations. All heard here.

9. Episode 11 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast features the show’s namesake, easily outmaneuvering his inadequate and slow-witted cohost, discussing all things COVID-19, media slandering, Trump’s political health, Andrew Cuomo’s performances, Fauci replays, a Devil’s Dictionary, and much more. Whew! Get your edjamakation here.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière profiles the French government’s coronavirus disaster. From the article:

The first bad decision was that, in contrast to European Union fantasies, borders apparently do matter. France never closed them; instead it allowed large numbers of potential virus-carriers to enter the country. Even when it became clear that in Italy the pandemic was taking on catastrophic proportions, France’s border with Italy remained open. The Italian government, by contrast, on March 10, prohibited French people coming to its territory or Italians going to France, but to date, France has put no controls on its side of the border.

The situation is the same on France’s border with Spain, despite the terrifying situation there. Since March 17, it has been virtually impossible to go from France to Spain, but coming to France from Spain is easy: you just show a police officer your ID. The same goes for France’s border with Germany. On March 16, Germany closed its border with France, but France declined to do the same for its border with Germany. When, on February 26, a soccer match between a French team and an Italian team took place in Lyon, the third-largest city in France, 3,000 Italian supporters attended, even though patients were already flocking to Italy’s hospitals.

France never closed its airports; they are still open to “nationals of EEA Member States, Switzerland, passengers with a British passport, and those with residence permits issued by France” and healthcare professionals. Earlier, until the last days of March, people arriving from China were not even subject to health checks. French people in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated, were repatriated by a military plane, and, upon their arrival in France, were placed in quarantine. While Air France interrupted its flights to China on January 30, Chinese and other airlines departing from Shanghai and Beijing continue to land in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron summarized France’s official position on the practice: “Viruses do not have passports,” he said. Members of the French government repeated the same dogma. A few commentators reminded them that viruses travel with infected people, who can be stopped at borders, and that borders are essential to stop or slow the spread of a disease, but the effort was useless. Macron ended up saying that the borders of the Schengen area (26 European states that have officially abolished all passport and border control with one another) could not be shut down and raged at other European leaders for reintroducing border checks between the Schengen area member countries. “What is at stake,” he said, seemingly more concerned with the “European project” than with the lives of millions of people, “is the survival of the European project.”

2. More Gatestone: Con Coughlin argues that WHO’s China-lackey boss needs to resign. From the article:

Much of the blame, moreover, for the WHO’s dire performance during the outbreak is being blamed on Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general. A former Ethiopian health minister, he first came to prominence in his home country when he served on the politburo of the Marxist-Leninist Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Dr Tedros was previously a great admirer of former Rhodesian dictator Robert Mugabe, even appointing him as a goodwill ambassador for the WHO, a decision he was forced to revoke following an international outcry.

Like Mr Mugabe, Dr Tedros has enjoyed a good relationship with China’s ruling communist party, and he won election to his current position after receiving backing from China in the May 2017 election.

His long-standing relationship with Beijing might help to explain why the WHO has been so accommodating to China even though the coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan. Rather than criticising Beijing for its initial attempts to cover up the outbreak, Dr Tedros instead praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his “very rare leadership”, and China for showing “transparency” in its response to the virus.

3. In Commentary, James Meigs checks out the different reactions to disasters from elites and the general populace. From the essay:

As in war, the first casualty in disasters is often the truth. One symptom of elite panic is the belief that too much information, or the wrong kind of information, will send citizens reeling. After the 2011 tsunami knocked out Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials gave a series of confusing briefings. To many, they seemed to be downplaying the amount of radiation released in the accident. In the end, the radiation risks turned out to be much lower than feared, resulting in no civilian deaths. But, by then, the traumatized public had lost faith in any official statements. As one team of researchers notes, any “perceived lack of information provision increases public anxiety and distrust.”

Elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory quirk on the part of some authorities: a tendency to believe the worst about their own citizens. In the midst of the Hurricane Katrina crisis in 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin found time to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show and lament “hooligans killing people, raping people” in the Superdome. Public officials and the media credulously repeated rumors about street violence, snipers shooting at helicopters, and hundreds of bodies piled in the Superdome. These all turned out to be wild exaggerations or falsehoods (arguably tinged by racism). But the stories had an impact: Away from the media’s cameras, a massive rescue effort—made up of freelance volunteers, Coast Guard helicopters, and other first responders—was underway across the city. But city officials, fearing attacks on the rescuers, frequently delayed these operations. They ordered that precious space in boats and helicopters be reserved for armed escorts.

Too often, the need to “avoid panic” serves as a retroactive justification for all manner of official missteps. In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic was climbing toward its crest in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to defend his record. Host Jake Tapper pressed the mayor on his many statements—as recently as two weeks earlier—urging New Yorkers to “go about their lives.” Tapper asked whether those statements were “at least in part to blame for how the virus has spread across the city.” De Blasio didn’t give an inch. “Everybody was working with the information we had,” he explained, “and trying, of course, to avoid panic.” How advising people to avoid bars and Broadway shows would have been tantamount to panic was left unexplained.

4. At Law & Liberty, James Rogers says America’s consumption drive is not necessarily a function of market capitalism. From the piece:

A notable chapter in Deirdre McCloskey’s 2019 book, Why Liberalism Works, presents her response to the oft-repeated belief that the sustainability of market capitalism requires always-increasing levels of consumption and growth. Like a giant pyramid scheme, the argument goes, if the coveting and obsessive consumption end, the whole system would collapse.

We see variants of this claim repeated endlessly on the left as well as on the post-liberal right. On the Marxian left we get theoretical arguments of the ultimate disequilibrium of market economies. Among left-wing neo-Romantic postliberals, we get criticisms of consumer society and the degradation that capitalism’s growth culture wreaks on both the soul and the environment. Right-wing neo-Romantic postliberals sing pretty much the same song. Patrick Deneen argues that liberalism’s bargain that receives “the population’s full acquiescence” is one that promises “the ongoing delivery of increasing material prosperity for every member of society.” Similarly, John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, never resisting the opportunity for florid overstatement, write of the need in capitalist systems for:

the oligarchy [to] seduce the masses to consume more and more shoddy goods whose appeal will, indeed, soon pale—causing them to seek to earn more in order to be able to buy a new variant or new seductive novelty.

Not so, suggests McCloskey. And, actually, the substance of McCloskey’s response is obvious. Yet I recall few other authors taking the point seriously enough to respond to it. Given the incessant repetition of the criticism among post- and anti-liberals, and how very incorrect it is, it undoubtedly has been a mistake to let it go largely unanswered. McCloskey remedies that oversight.

5. At Real Clear History, Francis Sempa recounts how the great James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers had Joseph Stalin’s number. From the reflection:

Stalin’s moves were not defensive, as many then and since have claimed. Instead, Burnham claimed, they fit within his “geopolitical vision.” That vision, Burnham explained, corresponded to geopolitical concepts first developed by Britain’s Halford Mackinder. “Starting from the magnetic core of the Eurasian heartland,” Burnham wrote, “the Soviet power . . . flows outward, west into Europe, south into the Near East, east into China, . . . lapping the shores of the Atlantic, the Yellow and China Seas, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf.” Stalin, Burnham wrote, has absorbed the Baltics and Poland, dominated Finland, the Balkans, and northern China, spread communist influence in Italy, France, Turkey, Iran, and the rest of China, and sought to infiltrate England and the United States. Moreover, Stalin’s goal is not to destroy nationalism where Soviet forces conquer, but instead to fuse nationalism within the communist movement worldwide.

Trotsky, Burnham noted, believed that he, not Stalin, was Lenin’s true heir. Burnham ridiculed that notion. Stalin was Lenin’s heir. “There is nothing basic that Stalin has done,” Burnham explained, “. . . from the institution of terror as the primary foundation of the state to the assertion of a political monopoly, the seeds and even the shoots of which were not planted and flourishing under Lenin.” “Stalin,” Burnham concluded, “is Lenin’s heir. Stalinism is communism.” This was the “indispensible truth” for the West to understand as it approached the postwar world.

Around the same time that Burnham’s “Lenin’s Heir” appeared in Partisan Review, another former ex-communist named Whittaker Chambers wrote an article in Time entitled “The Ghosts on the Roof.” Chambers (1901-61) turned to Marxism in the mid-to-late 1920s, and became an underground communist courier of classified American government documents in the 1930s. Like Burnham, he broke with communism in the late 1930s, though for different reasons, and became a writer and editor at Time magazine. After twice unsuccessfully trying to persuade the Roosevelt administration to recognize and do something about communist infiltration of the government both before and during the war, Chambers used his platform at Time to expose the truths about our communist wartime ally.

6. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer levels the guns and fires away at the inherent evil of imperialism. From the essay:

Let me begin this essay by simply throwing down the gauntlet. American imperialists—of whatever political persuasion or ideology—are not only traitors to the American cause and in violation of the deepest meanings and profundities of the American ideal, they are also embracing demonic goals of remaking the world in their own image, thus trampling on the dignity of the human person. Phew.

Two years ago, I published an essay here on the “maliciousness” of progressive-era imperialism. A little over a year before that, I published an essay attempting to “restore the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers.” As desirous as I am of reminding our world of the goals and significances of the American republic, I fear I’ve had absolutely no influence on modern conservatism. Probably there will be no great weeping over Birzer’s inability to play prophet, but such is life (and, yes; no worries, I’m quite aware of my limitations).

Still, I want to proclaim these things yet again, whether conservatism listens or not.

This current essay is in the line of those previous ones—a howl against the wind. First, the founding fathers, it should be remembered, argued quite clearly for commerce with all, but entangling alliances with none. Washington and Jefferson each said this repeatedly and clearly. And, even the most cursory glance at and over the great documents of the Founding—the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Constitution of 1787—were never created for imperialism. Indeed, given the Indian Wars and the American Civil War, it’s not even clear they were made for frontier expansion, at least in the time frame in which such expansion occurred.

Baseballery

He was the quintessential 1960s American League shortstop, but what proves of particular interest to This Scribbler is that Ron Hansen played in the Washington Seantors’ last game.

Twice.

Hansen came up in the late 1950s with the Baltimore Orioles, and in 1960, his first full season, he played in both All Star games and won the AL Rookie of the Year award, hitting .252 and smacking 22 home runs while driving in 86 runs. The Os finished in second place — the first time since 1944 when the franchise (then the beloved St. Louis Browns) had a first-division finish — trailing the Yankees by 8 games. The team’s final series was played down the road in Washington, at aging Griffith Stadium against the fifth-place Senators, and in the season’s last game, the Orioles prevailed, 2–1. Hansen went 0 for 4.

It was to be the last game played in Washington, or anywhere, by the original Senators: Later that month, the American League approved the franchise’s move to Minneapolis, where the old Senators became the new Twins.

The league also approved the creation of a new franchise . . . in Washington . . . named the Senators. They would not last long in the capital. On September 21, 1971, the new Senators’ ownership announced that the franchise would be relocating to Arlington, Texas — a move that infuriated the fan base, which still had a few home-game opportunities to show their displeasure. Which they did in the final game, played on Thursday night, September 30, against the Yankees, with the Senators prevailing 7–5, except: The game was famously forfeited to the Bronx Bombers when, with two outs in the ninth, fans stormed the field and refused to let the game conclude.

Playing third base that night for the Yankees? Ron Hansen. Once again, he went 0-for-4 in a Washington Senators last game.

Of topic-related interest: The Yankees’ starting pitcher that night was Mike Kekich. As a rookie in 1965, called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kekich pitched in the last game ever played by the Milwaukee Braves (the franchise relocated in 1966 to Atlanta). Infamous for his wife swap with Fritz Peterson, in 1977 Kekich also pitched in the second game ever played for the expansion Seattle Mariners.

More of related interest: Gene Woodling, by then roaming the outfield for the Orioles, also played in that 1960 last game against the original Washington Senators. And then in 1961, drafted by the expansion replacement team, he appeared in the first game of the new Senators (he went 1-for-4, with 2 RBIs).

Back to Hansen: Like many an AL shortstops of the 1960s — let’s pick on Ray Oyler, Ed Brinkman, Larry Brown, and Ruben Amaro — he proved to be a weak hitter (his BA was under .200 in four seasons over a 15-year career, which also included stints with the White Sox, Senators, and Royals). But Hansen was an exceptional fielder, who participated in one of baseball’s rarest moments: On July 30, 1968, playing for the Senators, Hansen grabbed Cleveland Indians catcher Joe Azcue’s line drive to turn an unassisted triple play.

In gratitude for the feat, two days later, the Senators traded Hansen to the White Sox.

The Colonial American Dead, Wounded, and Missing at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as Described in Frank Warren Coburn’s 1912 Book, The Battles of April 19, 1775

Acton. Killed: Capt. Isaac Davis, James Hayward, Abner Hosmer. Wounded: Luther Blanchard and Ezekiel Davis.

Arlington. Killed: Jason Russell, Jason Winship, Jabez Wyman. Wounded: Samuel Whittemore.

Bedford. Killed: Captain Jonathan Willson. Wounded: Job Lane.

Beverly. Killed: Reuben Kennison. Wounded: Nathaniel Cleaves, William Dodge, 3rd, Samuel Woodbury.

Billerica. Wounded: Timothy Blanchard, John Nichols.

Brookline. Killed: Major Isaac Gardner.

Cambridge. Killed: John Hicks, William Marcy, Moses Richardson. Missing: Samuel Frost, Seth Russell.

Concord. Wounded: Capt. Nathan Barrett, Jonas Brown, Capt. Charles Miles, Capt. George Minot, Abel Prescott, Jr.

Charlestown. Killed: Edward Barber.

Chelmsford. Wounded: Oliver Barron, Aaron Chamberlain.

Danvers. Killed: Samuel Cook, Benjamin Daland, Ebenezer Goldthwait, Henry Jacobs, Perley Putnam, George Southwick, Jotham Webb. Wounded: Nathan Putnam, Dennison Wallis. Missing: Joseph Bell.

Dedham. Killed: Elias Haven. Wounded: Israel Everett.

Framingham. Wounded: Daniel Hemenway.

Lexington. Killed: John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathan Harrington, Jr., Jedediah Munroe, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzy, Jonas Parker, John Raymond, Nathaniel Wyman. Wounded: Francis Brown, Joseph Comee, Prince Estabrook, Nathaniel Farmer, Ebenezer Munroe, Jr., Jedediah Munroe (killed later), Solomon Pierce, John Robbins, John Tidd, Thomas Winship.

Lincoln. Wounded: Joshua Brooks.

Lynn. Killed: William Flint, Thomas Hadley, Abednego Ramsdell, Daniel Townsend. Wounded: Joshua Felt, Timothy Monroe. Missing: Josiah Breed.

Medford. Killed: William Polly, Henry Putnam.

Needham. Killed: Lieut. John Bacon, Nathaniel Chamberlain, Amos Mills, Sergt. Elisha Mills, Jonathan Parker. Wounded: Eleazer Kingsbury, —— Tolman (son of Dr. Tolman).

Newton. Wounded: Noah Wiswell.

Roxbury. Missing: Elijah Seaver.

Salem. Killed: Benjamin Pierce.

Somerville. Killed: James Miller.

Sudbury. Killed: Josiah Haynes, Asahel Reed. Wounded: Joshua Haynes, Jr.

Stow. Wounded: Daniel Conant.

Watertown. Killed: Joseph Coolidge.

Woburn. Killed: Asahel Porter, Daniel Thompson. Wounded: Jacob Bacon, —— Johnson, George Reed.

A Dios

The pastor called Your Insipid Correspondent, who has fooled parishioners into believing he can carry a tune and even a hymn. The request came on Saturday afternoon last — come tonight to church and sing The Exsultet at a private Easter Vigil Mass. And then on Easter morning too — come again and sing a hymn or three there. Orders given, orders followed, hymns belted, The Fortunate Cantor conscious of the emptiness of God’s House, conscious of his own attendance, sung on behalf of the many who could not be present, at this or any church.

Easter brought its joys, but also sad news: Neighbor and fellow parishioner Sil, father of four, reader of our website, had fallen that day to the pathogen. Cremated, buried, without prayer or service — take a bow, Chairman Xi. We will soon enough sing for your soul at a Memorial Mass. In the meanwhile, we pray he rests in peace — along with all the many others stricken down by this beast, and other illnesses, and that God protects those left behind. May they all, and we all of us, meet again, or even for the first time, one joyful day in the Paradise promised to even the Good Thief.

God’s Love and Graces to All,

Jack Fowler, who will receive critical reviews of his croonery at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

WHO Dunnit? Precisely.

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

Quite the weekend this one. Forgone is the enjoyment of the annual, special divine pull, motivating even the infrequent temple- and church-goer, dressed in best and blessed, with grandma in tow, to experience ancient rituals, inhale incense, hold candles, eat bitters at a table full, embrace old neighbors, maybe even to acquire some grace by entering the house of worship. Not gonna happen in 2020, not for most anyway, as the doors in many places are shuttered. Where two or three are gathered . . . sorry, there’s an executive order barring that. Sigh. But we take cheer from the fact that God is in His Heaven, that His graces are more communicable than pathogens, and that He is affording them abundantly, and that no pews are necessary for such. So have at it spiritually anyway, improvised, and grab your rain checks as you imagine happy services and seders in 2021.

Meanwhile, we submit this compendium early, constructed mostly on Spy Wednesday, delivered to Editor Phil early on Maundy Thursday, precluding Good Friday toil, as is the custom established by Bill Buckley. Please forgive us if we miss the jewels that NRO publishes after this filing, and do know that in this edition, we nevertheless provide copious links to educate and occupy the time of the many, keeping particularly in mind those who in their isolation yearn for such.

Before we get on to the buffet . . .

A few years back we were encouraged to pull from the NR archives samples of the “Gimlet Eye” columns by the late D. Keith Mano. Good golly was he talented. By chance we extracted his 1987 piece, A Meditation after Easter. It is a work of magnificence. Powerful and maybe even salvific to the unexpecting. Do read it.

To quote the Great Gleason: And away we go . . .

Editorials

1. WHO — the China-beholding World Health Organization — has proven a politicized rathole. We find it’s about time for Congress to consider yanking U.S. funding. From the beginning of the editorial:

Since its inception 112 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness.

This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization all the more shameful.

On December 30, Chinese doctor Li Wenliang warned colleagues about the outbreak of an illness resembling severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which sparked a pandemic in 2003. Public-health officials rely on the acuity of doctors like Li, whose early warnings prevent the spread of deadly diseases. But Chinese authorities didn’t reward Li; they summoned him to the Public Security Bureau in Wuhan on accusations that he had made false statements and disrupted the public order.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) followed up with numerous other arrests, and publicly warned that it would punish anyone spreading “rumors” on social media. By mid January, Chinese doctors knew that COVID-19 was spreading between humans, but on January 14, the WHO stated that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” Two weeks later, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus flew to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who so impressed Tedros that he lauded Chinese authorities for “setting a new standard for outbreak control,” praising their “openness for sharing information.”

Dr. Li might have disagreed with that sentiment. Alas, he was never able to voice his objections: He died after contracting COVID-19.

2. Josh Hawley’s ideas for a Phase Four response to the pandemic’s economic damage earns NR’s High Five. From the editorial:

The other option is Hawley’s. He would have the federal government directly administer aid to businesses, including tax rebates that cover 80 percent of payroll (up to a cap), real-time payments to help businesses immediately, and a bonus for rehiring previously laid off workers. In theory, this sounds incredibly attractive. In practice, Congress first needs to make sure a program like this is administratively feasible; if there are serious obstacles, it may be unwise to start a new approach from scratch just as the old approach hits its stride. Lawmakers and staff need to reach out to the relevant agencies and private actors, especially the Treasury Department and payroll companies, to make sure they can handle payments such as these quickly, accurately, and with the appropriate vetting.

Hawley’s proposal also raises important longer-term issues that the U.S. will need to confront. For one thing, businesses may need help restarting when this is over. For another, this pandemic has demonstrated that many countries will block exports of important medical supplies in an emergency, which is an obvious problem for countries that import such supplies. We are hardly protectionists, but this outbreak demands a full accounting of what crucial products we aren’t able to procure when we need them most, and a plan to either stockpile those products or ensure we can make them here.

A Plea Before the Pleasures

We are in the final days of our short-term webathon, seeking to raise $125,000 (our real needs are double that, and double that). The day after this effort commenced, Rich Lowry wrote this heartfelt appeal. You are encouraged to read it and then take note that in the ten days that followed, NR’s exceptional coverage of all things coronavirus and all things Red China has gotten even better. And even more consequential.

The simple fact was, is, and pray God will be — and pray with your help will be — that NR is vital. Is essential. It’s the voice that must never be stifled, the light that must never go out. Why? For the sake of our conservative principles. For 64 years NR has been loud and bright because our readers find NR is worth more than the price of a subscription. Boy has that ever been the case these past few months. Which is why Bill Buckley believed that he owned NR in stewardship, on behalf of those who kept open the doors, kept on the lights, kept the plates spinning.

We feel the same. We yearn for your partnership. We believe the ranks of we happy few can never be too few. Join the band of brothers and sisters who are determined to help us reach our goal, and even surpass it. Please donate here.

If You Were Looking for 18 Examples of NRO Publishing Brilliance, Look No Further: You Have Arrived

1. No way in hell Red China should be making our pharmaceuticals, says Rich Lowry. From the column:

The story of penicillin is the tale of U.S. dependence on China-sourced pharmaceuticals and active drug ingredients writ large.

From 2010 to 2018, U.S. imports of pharmaceuticals from China increased 75 percent. China is the second largest exporter of drugs and biologics to the United States behind Canada, and our dependence is even greater, given that China is the source of the active ingredients of many drugs produced elsewhere. India, another major source of drugs for the U.S., gets about 75 percent of its active ingredients from China.

China is a dominant force when it comes to generic drugs in particular, which account for the vast majority of medicines that American take. We rely on China for 90 percent of our antibiotics, and for drugs to treat everything from HIV/AIDS to cancer to depression.

China is fully aware of its leverage. It notoriously threatened via its state-run media to cut off our supply of drugs (except fentanyl, of course) and plunge the U.S. into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”

Even if China weren’t a malign global competitor (it is), a remorseless dictatorship (it is), or a dishonest kleptocracy (it is), there would be risk inherent in having so many of our medications and their components coming from one country. We become vulnerable to any disruption of Chinese production, whether from disease, political unrest, or war.

Beijing is a particularly nasty actor, but the coronavirus has demonstrated that even friendly nations will keep medical supplies from one other if it is in their self-interest to do so.

2. Andy McCarthy rebukes Democratic efforts to deny the president his right to hire and fire, and explains the partisan makeup of liberal martyr Glenn Fine. From the article:

Upon taking office in 1993, President Clinton famously fired Republican appointees throughout the executive branch, including nearly every district U.S. attorney. By contrast, on his way out the door eight years later, he shrewdly installed Fine as the Justice Department’s inspector general.

In doing so, Clinton banked on his Republican successor’s inclination to extend a bipartisan olive branch after the historically contentious 2000 election. President Bush did not disappoint, keeping Fine rather than nominating his own DOJ IG. Predictably, Fine was a thorn in the Bush administration’s side, aggressively investigating DOJ’s use of post-9/11 counterterrorism laws and helping inflate Bush’s entirely lawful firing of a handful of U.S. attorneys into a scandal that ultimately forced attorney general Alberto Gonzalez to resign. Fine was kept on at DOJ through the first two years of the Obama administration. You’ll be stunned, I’m sure, to hear that he won gushing praise from such partisan Democrats as senator Pat Leahy and Obama attorney general Eric Holder when he finally left the government’s employ in late 2010.

He was not gone for long. As detailed above, President Obama recruited Fine for DoD in 2015. He has been in the IG’s office there ever since.

This is the way this game works. Democratic administrations come into office and exploit the patronage (as they are entitled to do), sweeping out Republicans and getting their own people in place. The press reliably describes this as a much-needed injection of new progressive blood in the government’s veins. By contrast, when Republican presidents remove Democratic appointees, journalists wail about the invasion of “loyalists” and wistfully recall a noble bipartisan past, when new presidents retained the much-needed expertise of “non-partisan” (ahem) bureaucrats.

3. Teddy Kupfer believes Bernie Sanders’ prexy runs will be less transformational than his supporters predict. From the piece:

Both times Sanders ran for president, he lost black voters in Southern states by huge margins. Sanders did improve among Latinos from 2016 to 2020, allowing him to win California and put up a stronger fight in Texas this time around. But he couldn’t repeat his performance among the non-college-educated whites who’d clearly favored him over Hillary Clinton, especially in the Midwest. Reporters have noted that the Sanders campaign’s theory of the electorate was misguided: He avoided retail politics in the hope that his message would eventually carry the day — that the masses would be spontaneously drawn into the movement, in Lenin’s formulation. As Joe Simonson observes in the Washington Examiner, the Vermont senator’s predictions of massive turnout were proven wrong repeatedly, suggesting he’d built his battle plan on materialist theory rather than political reality.

In fact, the triumph of theory over reality may have doomed Sanders’s second run for the White House. The American working class has plenty of social moderates and conservatives, but his campaign elevated such figures as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Linda Sarsour, beloved by the Democratic Party’s activist class and controversial outside of it. He walked back his 2016-era border hawkishness and replaced it with activist-endorsed “abolish ICE” messaging. His campaign declined to forthrightly make its case to black voters out of academic concern that Sanders “couldn’t speak on behalf of people of color” because he “doesn’t have those experiences.”

But then, Sanders has never successfully navigated American political institutions to generate the kind of overwhelming enthusiasm he’d need to either pass genuinely transformative policies in the Senate or expand his voter base in elections. That suggests a tension between the imperatives of democratic politics and the uncompromising nature of his own brand, which fed the perception that he was “unelectable.” Among his backers, this perception was often blamed on “subservience to the economic-powers-that-be” among moderates and political pundits. It’s a convenient explanation: The candidate wasn’t at fault, his voters were just being duped by the corporate media and political establishment. But as political scientists Matthew Grossman and William Isaac have written, the failure of redistributive economic policies may owe more to the procedural elements of American political institutions, which require deliberation and compromise, than to any rigging of the system against working-class interests.

4. Whatever you do, writes Jim Geraghty, don’t trust the Chicoms’ Coronavirus timeline. From the piece:

If you want a good laugh, compare the Chinese government’s official timeline of the virus, which contends “cases of pneumonia of unknown cause” were only detected in “late December,” with the one I put together a few weeks ago. You know, the one with links to all sources. (I cannot express the astronomical frustration with the ninnies on social media who dismiss these reports with ‘it’s all BS’ when, with less than a calorie of effort, they could click through and see that the information is accurately quoted.)

I guess that timeline depends on how the Chinese government defines “late,” as the Chinese CDC itself previously said they noticed cases starting on December 21, and the first symptoms in the first patient manifested December 1. That genomic study found “an early expansion” of cases on December 8. By Christmas, hospitals in Wuhan had already quarantined doctors who had treated patients and caught the virus themselves.

The only mention of Dr. Li Wenliang in the Chinese government’s timeline is on March 19, marking the Wuhan Public Security Bureau’s decision to revoke the previous reprimand letter and apologize to Li’s family over the mistake. Someone who read this timeline as their only source of information on the virus would have no idea who this doctor was or why the security bureau reprimanded him or subsequently apologized.

5. The experts lied about masks. Kyle Smith, with real expertise, unmasks the Expertocracy. From the piece:

There has been a lot of talk since, oh, approximately November 8, 2016, about the relative use and reliability of experts, elites — our betters. We’re told that we need experts more than ever. One guy out there has profitably positioned himself as the meta-expert, the expert on expertise who expertly informs us of what the experts are saying over at the Experts’ Club.

In the U.K., the debate on experts hit a new level on the third of June, 2016, when Conservative cabinet minister and leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove said, “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts.” This instantly became the defining absurdity of the Brexit referendum, and was pilloried and mocked nonstop. Ho ho, said the pundits, when Gove goes in for gall-bladder surgery, I’ll bet he’d rather be cut into by an expert than a bloke from down the pub!

The mocking changed its tone when Brexit carried the day on June 23, 2016, with more Britons voting for it than had ever voted for anything in the thousand-year history of the country. Now Gove’s remark became the source of the ashen taste in the mouths of Remoaner metropolitan elites bewailing how provincial troglodytes, geriatrics, and Little Englanders had dashed their rationalist, internationalist dreams.

And then Gove was fully vindicated. He turned out to be 100 percent correct.

6. If there is a global virus, says Michael Brendan Dougherty, it’s the Chinese Communist Party. From the article:

The China problem in international organizations goes beyond internationalist institutions in which the Chinese state is a member; it goes to Chinese-backed enterprises that act as arms of the Chinese state. Using the vast resources of the state, telecom company Huawei has been able to clear the field of other competitors and muscle up against Ericsson for dominance of the European mobile-phone market. Polish and German authorities have had to raid Huawei offices for the spying the company does. But the lack of options in a market in which they compete has meant that even after incidents such as this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to have Huawei build part of the United Kingdom’s 5G infrastructure. If trust is burned up in this crisis, major European powers need to think about fostering their own “national champion” corporations to retain control over the infrastructure that is part of their national security.

There is even a moral corruption that spreads from China to American companies and consumers. As part of its attempt at cultural genocide of Muslims around Kashgar in the west of China, a program was introduced to spread Muslim workers around China on rotation. These half-imprisoned victims of persecution have been placed at major contractors that build products for Apple. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has made his position against religious-liberty laws in the United States clear in the past. He should be asked repeatedly whether Apple has investigated whether Uighur Muslims have been transferred from involuntary detention to involuntary labor on the products he sells.

7. Big Brother loves a crisis. Charlie Peters reports how in the U.K., he’s empowered the neighborhood snitchers and henchmen. From the piece:

Derbyshire police have been using drones to keep the eye of the state on people wandering to beauty spots — an action I remember mocking the CCP for doing just a few months ago. One clip, which they gleefully shared on Twitter, showed two people pausing for an “unnecessary selfie” while taking a “non-essential walk.”

How quickly we have lapsed into statism.

Police have also taken to cycling around London parks and telling off citizens for enjoying “non-essential exercise,” such as a brief stroll and rest in the sun in a park away from their cramped and miserable flats. Just last week, a woman was fined £660 for being at Newcastle Central train station and “failing to provide identity or reasons for travel to police.” She soon found out that this crime doesn’t exist.

This is intolerable. British police are governed by the beautiful and freedom-preserving philosophy of policing by consent, which refers to the Peelian principles. Named after Prime Minister Robert Peel — the “father of modern policing” — the nine principles were issued to every officer from 1829 onward.

For reasons of succinctness, I won’t list them all. But my favorite is the fifth, which commands policemen to “seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law.”

They have failed this principle. A host of popular media figures has been demanding tighter restrictions, with shock jock extraordinaire Piers Morgan — who once polluted American screens on his ghastly CNN show — being particularly vociferous. He has regularly called people relaxing in London parks “traitors” and urged severe punishment.

8. David Harsanyi belittles the Left’s jihad against hydroxychloroquine. From the piece:

The Left simply can’t accept that a Republican acts in good faith. If they’re not hiding some devious self-serving motivation, they’re under the thumb of a foreign power or a shadowy industry. If it’s not Big Oil leading George Bush into Iraq, it’s Mitt Romney trying to hand the country to his buddies at Bain Capital.

Working from this predetermined position, reporters are sure that Trump, who they think became president to fill the rooms in his D.C. hotel, isn’t merely peddling hope for hope’s sake alone.

All of this is just fodder for the screeching partisan minions, nothing else. If there were a healthy, functioning fourth column, a piece like this would never run.  Can you imagine any major publication running a piece linking Barack Obama’s praise of GM’s heavily subsidized electric-car manufacturing to a thousand bucks in a mutual fund?

Nor should it escape your attention that the New York Times will assign four reporters to write an amateurish hit job, but not a single one to mention serious rape allegations against the leading Democratic Party presidential candidate by a former staffer.

When Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine, reporters scoured the world to find overdose cases so they could claim the president had blood on his hands. When that effort came up short, they clutched pearls after some nitwit couple thought it wise to ingest fish-tank cleaning liquid. Now this.

9. More Harsanyi: David attacks Democrats’ unconstitutional efforts to federalize elections. From the piece:

I’m sorry, but you have no constitutional “right” to vote by mail. You have no constitutional “right” to vote six days after an election is over. Nor do you have any “right” to censor information related to an election. Not even during a pandemic.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal court was not empowered to overwrite Wisconsin’s election laws and force the state to accept ballots without any postmark deadline nearly a week after the election. Likewise, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Governor Tony Evers did not have the authority to arbitrarily suspend in-person voting.

And as Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, points out, the Supreme Court decision notes that the district court created “a subsequent order enjoining the public release of any election results for six days after election day.”

By forcing Wisconsin to keep voting alive for nearly a week after they were meant to close, the district court realized that late voters would have information regarding election results, so it tried to shut down legally mandated reporting requirements. Sandefur tells me that “enjoining the truthful communication of legal information is a violation of the First Amendment. A prior restraint, even! About election results! Which is one of the most insane violations of the Constitution I’ve ever heard of.”

If these dictates had been allowed to stand, they would have created insanely destructive precedents, taking elections out of the hands of local legislatures. If we discard legal norms every time there’s a crisis, we no longer have a nation of laws, but a country at the mercy of arbitrary decrees, emotional appeals, and pliable courts.

10. Will America emerge from the crisis as a crybaby state? Victor Davis Hanson has some thoughts. From the piece:

Post-virus America can awake from this epidemic and economic shutdown in one of two different ways.

One, we can wake up as we did on December 8, 1941, to ensure that Americans control their own fundamentals of life — food, fuel, medicine, and strategic industries — without dependency on illiberal regimes. The military can refocus our defenses against nuclear missiles, cyberwarfare, and biological weapons. On the home front, diversity is fine, but in a national crisis as serious as this one, the unity that arises from confidence in shared American citizenship saves lives.

Our other choice is to keep bickering and suffering amnesia, remaining as vulnerable as we were in the past.

We can scapegoat and play the blame game. We can talk not of an America in crisis, but of the virus’ effects on particular groups. We can decide that it is mean or even racist and xenophobic to hold the Chinese government accountable for its swath of viral destruction — and so we will not.

We can ridicule the idea of Americans again making their own things and call it protectionism or economic chauvinism. We can conduct endless congressional inquiries about who said what and when about the virus, and perhaps reopen impeachment.

Or we can have bipartisan commissions decide how best to return key industries to the U.S., prepare for the next epidemic, and pay down the enormous debt we have incurred to defeat COVID-19.

11. Down in the basement, Joe Biden is cranking up a gender / sex platform. John Hirschauer looks in its political Xs and Ys. From the analysis:

Biden also promises to “decriminalize HIV exposure and transmission,” because such laws — all together, now! — “perpetuate discrimination and stigma towards people with HIV/AIDS.” Perhaps there is a reasonable case to be made that some anti-exposure laws are unduly punitive (some states punish HIV-positive persons who spit in public, for instance, yet spitting poses no threat of viral transmission). But those who could be unwittingly exposed to HIV might prefer keeping “discrimination and stigma” against deliberate exposure in place. Again, if Joe Biden thinks these concerns are irrational or bigoted, he should say so.

A third prong of the Biden proposal suggests enacting measures to change “underlying attitudes” about “LGBTQ+ issues” through “public information campaigns.” What these “campaigns” will look like in practice needs explicit definition. Will the federal government spend taxpayer dollars on a “public information campaign” to remind the masses that not all men have penises? This is left to our imagination. And it is not hard to imagine a “public information campaign” directed at insubordinate churches that cling (bitterly?) to their Bibles and maintain fealty to their bimillennial faith’s dogma on human sexuality. The latter is not much of a stretch when one considers what Joe Biden (or the handlers who drafted his proposal) thinks of the legitimacy of those moral commitments. Biden also pledges to “reverse” religious-freedom carveouts pursued by the Trump administration to ensure “that no one is turned away from a business or refused service by a government official just because of who they are or who they love.” Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop and others who actually believe their faiths to be true and not mere lifestyle accoutrements to be brandished when fashionable figure to be excluded from the regime of “equality” pursued by the Biden administration.

What’s most unclear from Biden’s proposal is its purpose. He does not spell out in precise language how the various interest groups in the “community” in question have yet to attain the “equality” his plan is ostensibly meant to help them achieve. The only thing that is clear is that “tolerance,” in the traditional understanding of that word, is not the plan’s principal aim.

12. There’s nothing — including a viral pathogen and pandemic — that the Left can’t and won’t racialize. Zaid Jilani slaps the effort. From the piece:

We’ve seen this story before, with crime. In many parts of America, African Americans are overrepresented versus their share of the population in crime statistics. For years, racist demagogues used this fact to claim that criminality was a feature of African Americans. But eventually, social scientists discarded simple univariate analysis and learned to correlate factors such as social inequality, the prevalence of the drug trade, and low-quality policing as the true culprits that drive crime — among blacks, whites, and virtually every other group. The news media, wisely, moved away from focusing on the race of criminal perpetrators, coming to understand that race is merely a social fiction, not useful for correlating to complex problems that impact people of all backgrounds.

We should remember that when we think about the pandemic.

A young, healthy African-American with great health-care coverage who telecommutes every day and has groceries delivered to his door is not automatically at higher risk of contracting the virus or succumbing to it than an elderly white man who rides the subway to work every morning to work at an essential business where he interacts with hundreds of people a day.

The causal variable here is almost certainly not race. Although the virus is not perfectly understood, it is much more likely that factors such as underlying health conditions drive death rates, not race. There’s also the reality that a virus spreads person to person. It will take detailed analysis by epidemiologists and others to understand how the virus spread from neighborhood to neighborhood. In the south Georgia town of Albany, for instance, we know that the outbreak emerged primarily from a crowded funeral. Why is there a much more severe viral outbreak in Detroit than Baltimore, despite some overlap in demographics? Univariate analysis can only tell us so much.

13. More Kyle: He watches the new special and once again makes the case for controversial comedian Louis C. K. From the piece:

“I’m not a good person,” Louis C.K. says near the top of his new one-hour special. We heard. Do I want Louis C.K. making s’mores with my kid’s Girl Scout troop? No, I do not. And if I were a woman, I might be reluctant to be alone with him. (On the other hand, I might just remember that I have the right to walk away if anything weird starts to happen.) Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about these things, and neither do you. As comedy consumers, none of us has to be in the room with Louis C.K. We can benefit from his brilliance without having to deal with his perversion.

The new special, Sincerely Louis C.K., which is being offered on his website for eight bucks, is much like all of his previous ones: It’s wild and acidic. It’s misanthropic, it’s twisted, it ventures into some forbidding dark corners of psychic crawlspace, where the spiders and the worms lurk. These characteristics make it more interesting, not less. They’re also markers of how C.K. has been doing comedy his entire career. C.K. is back, and he’s just the same as before, though some observers are pretending otherwise.

The title is not ironic: He is sincerely trying to tell something like the truth about what it’s like to be the person he is, a severely flawed man of the early 21st century. Louis C.K. has always invited us to consider the comedy payoff of rolling with our worst thoughts instead of cutting them off before they get disturbing. This means that being inappropriate is now, as it always has been, central to his act. There’s a joke about rape along these lines. It’s horrible, but it’s also very funny. It’s funny because it’s horrible: The horribleness is the point. Our comic selves venture into places our other selves dare not go. C.K. is a master at exploring that divergence, leading us down one path and then veering shockingly off course. C.K. went to one of those advanced European cities where there are eight different recycling bins on the curb for different types of garbage, and he was annoyed by this. One bin has a drawing of a cup on it. Another bin has a drawing of a slightly different type of cup. “I’m standing there with a dead baby, what am I supposed to do with that?” he asks.

14. Even More Kyle: He ruminates on the Tiger King craze, and crazies . . . and finds it crazy good. From the review:

To date, Netflix has moved heaven and earth — and spent enough money to buy both — to keep us subscribing, but its brand has become a synonym for lackluster-to-pretty-good entertainment. Tiger King isn’t pretty good. It’s stellar, it’s breathtaking, it’s essential. Your jaw will drop, it’ll drop some more, it’ll fall out of your mouth, it’ll bore through the floor, and then it’ll keep dropping until it comes to rest in the center of the earth. Tiger King may be the first series (five hours spread out over seven episodes, with one more in the works) Netflix has ever produced that you absolutely must see if you want to consider yourself culturally au courant. It’s one of the most amazing things ever produced for television.

Released without much fanfare on March 20 as America was going into hibernation, Tiger King arrived concurrently with a crucial technical innovation on Netflix’s part that will prove essential to its survival as Hollywood’s leading studios withdraw their programs to put them on their own streaming services. In retrospect, it’s amazing that Netflix didn’t think of this before, but it now provides a top-ten list indicating the most popular programs of the moment. This is an Uno reverse card dealt to social distancing: calling up Netflix is no longer a solitary pursuit, isolated from societal trends. Watching movies started out as a group activity, and so did television. But before Netflix started offering a most-watched queue, scrolling through its menu was a dispiriting, frustrating experience: How were we supposed to know which of these thousands of options we should be watching? Now that there’s a ranking system, we know what is capturing people’s attention. We know what others are thinking and talking about. Netflix has now looped us back in with our neighbors. TV is once again a shared experience, as it was for those 60 years when everyone watched Uncle Miltie or Ed Sullivan or Happy Days or Seinfeld or The Sopranos at the same time. Man, we are reminded yet again, is a social animal. If a show is No. 1 on Netflix for any length of time, it’s automatically of interest. It may not be any good, but popularity is useful information.

15. Ed Burton assesses the stimulus packages. There are reasons for concern. From the piece:

It is worth a pause to reflect on the views of economists on this situation. Almost all modern academic monetary models suggest that inflation will not respond to changes in the growth rate of the money supply. Think about that one for a minute. If expanding the money supply has only negligible effects on inflation, then what possible downside could there be from expanding the money supply to finance ordinary, routine government expenditures? Why do countries bother with tax collections at all? Simply issue sovereign debt, have your central bank buy it, and there will be no downside since no inflation will result.

Increasing the money supply by dramatic amounts in an economy where output is constrained by law is not likely to be benign and non-inflationary. Again, where does this money go, if not to higher prices for a declining amount of goods and services.

It is often argued that this kind of inflationary takeoff simply cannot happen in a collapsed economy. What Germany’s Weimar Republic went through in 1923 suggests otherwise. Several Latin-American countries pursued a similar strategy in the mid-20th century with results that were qualitatively similar to the experience of Germany in 1923.

So it can happen and it has happened: inflation within a collapsed economy. Stimuluses cannot increase real output in an economy where such an increase is forbidden by law. But the stimuluses of Spring 2020 can provide a boost to the prices of goods and services. Such stimuluses can also slip over into liquid-asset markets and slow the inevitable slide in global stock markets, at least for a while.

16. Jerry Hendrix states the naval need for frigates in the battle against Venezuelan thug Maduro’s drug incursions. From the analysis:

Counter-drug operations are clearly a critical mission for the United States, given the tragedy of addictions and deaths associated with illicit-drug use and their impact on American families and the economy. The argument can even be made that the use of U.S. military assets to carry out that mission is appropriate: Stability is of strategic importance, as is maintaining laws and norms in the Western hemisphere. Furthermore, increasing levels of Chinese activity and investment in the Western hemisphere make it ever-more important for the U.S. military to have a highly visible presence in the region. We cannot be strong abroad if we are weakened at home; there must be no doubt that the Western hemisphere is our home, and that we are in charge.

Nevertheless, the use of destroyers for this particular purpose raises concerns. At $1.8 billion each, Arleigh Burke–class destroyers are among the world’s most expensive and technologically advanced weapons systems. Many of these ships are engaged in ballistic-missile defense and other high-end missions around the world. Although there is great demand for the vessels to support complex engagements, they are engaged all too often in low-end missions such as Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea or naval-presence patrols in any of the numerous maritime regions of the globe where U.S. regional combatant commanders have identified important U.S. national interests and have asked for ships to support them. These missions have the appearance of overkill, as a highly technically specialized warship is used for purposes that rank low in terms of technical requirements, such as providing naval presence in places like the Gulf of Guinea or taking part in counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Oman.

So why are high-end ships being used so consistently to do low-end missions, of which counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and Pacific are yet another example? The answer is that the Navy doesn’t have the low-end ships to match with those missions.

“Low-end” refers traditionally to frigates and corvettes that are smaller than destroyers or cruisers, have smaller crews, lower sensor-system and weapons complexity, and lower costs so that navies can purchase them in larger numbers to perform day-to-day presence, escort, surveillance, and interdiction missions. British admiral Horatio Nelson referred to frigates as the “eyes” of the fleet, and historically corvettes were designed to be small enough to operate in an enemy’s close-to-shore littoral regions. By this standard the U.S. Navy’s littoral-combat ships would normally be considered corvettes. Although the Navy has purchased 30 of them, these ships have not been as effective as the Navy had hoped, with nearly all of them presenting difficulties with their combat systems. To fulfill the counter-drug mission described by the president and his team, what the Navy and the Southern Command really need is frigates, and fortunately, they should be coming soon.

17. David Randall charges John Turner’s recent NRO piece criticizing the 1619 Project with missing the point. From the beginning of the piece:

Of course the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620 explains American history. Of course the 1619 Project’s shoddy exercise in vituperation is meant to delegitimize America. John G. Turner’s recent article in National Review is an extended exercise in missing the point.

Turner, a scholar of the history of American religion, and the author of a recent book on the Plymouth colony, surveys the debate about the New York Times’s 1619 Project with the traditional attitude of a liberal scholar — a facile resort to moral equivalence.

Turner, positioning himself as the neutral and expert arbiter, frames the 1619 Project and its critics as equally mistaken — the one unduly obsessed with the 1619 arrival of blacks in Virginia as the foundation of an America built on slavery, and the other unduly obsessed with the 1620 arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, as the foundation of an America built on liberty. Neither view, says Turner, is correct. Nor are views of America as built on liberty in 1776 or 1787. All the supposed foundations of liberty are compromised by racism or elitism: The proper way to understand America is to look at the endless details of Americans’ flaws, and not their sweeping aspirations.

Turner’s entire approach is misguided. To begin with, he obscures the 1619 Project’s entirely unprofessional abuse of historical facts to create a denigratory Black Legend of American history — an abuse entirely absent in the 1619 Project’s critics.

18. In South America, it’s not just the Wuhan-brewed pathogen that’s causing societal havoc. Per Otto Reich and Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, socialism and communism continue to plague the continent. From the piece:

Latin American democracies concurrently face the resurgence of a familiar, yet lethal, virus. Across the region, the ideological disease of collectivist totalitarianism still infects the unprepared or those looking for simple solutions. With the regional epicenter of the ideological contagion in Cuba, the influence of totalitarian tendencies is felt throughout the region.

Venezuela and Nicaragua remain under the grip of despotic regimes. Bolivia, which successfully prevented Evo Morales from consolidating a tyrannical socialist regime, may now face a relapse because of bickering among pro-democracy factions. In Chile, for 30 years a shining light of democracy and free-market economics in the region, a violent anarcho-Communist insurrection has hijacked what was a citizen drive for social reforms. Rapid modernization processes, such as Chile’s, often include segments of a population that lag behind or lack instruments of inclusion. The sane way to heal this is through the expansion of the democratic compact, and the generation of new opportunities through universal education and more economic freedom.  But reform is not the goal of the anarcho-Communists in Chile. It is destruction of democracy itself, in order to build a socialist revolution. The violence in the streets of Santiago and other cities is a premeditated effort by collectivists to destroy the free-market economic model because it was based on individual freedom, and because the Marxists could not abide a capitalist model that had consistently reduced extreme poverty. The radical agenda of the riots’ leaders, who publicly call for Chile to follow the path of Cuba and Venezuela, is a threat to the freedom, democracy, and pluralistic economy that country has developed.

Ironically, in Cuba, a country pauperized by a Marxist model for the past 61 years, there is a growing public cry demanding change. The dissent movement in Cuba is organic, emerging from diverse nuclei in the population. It often arises as a leaderless resistance, a natural response to the pervasive police-state repression of individual rights.

For over a year, even before coronavirus, protests grew. Millions of Cubans boycotted a regime-sponsored referendum, despite “voting” being enforced by the Communist Party’s mass organizations. The LGBT community carried out a large protest, and bloggers publicly gathered in Havana to demand an end to censorship. Protesting crowds forced the dreaded “Black Beret” repressive forces to retreat in Santiago de Cuba, while hundreds of protesters in the central city of Santa Clara marched in protest against the offices of the Communist Party, after a large informal public market in Santa Clara was closed down as part of the regime’s ruthless use of food rations to control the population. A protracted, year-long strike by independent transport workers broke the myth that concerted citizen resistance efforts can be stopped by the regime’s security forces.

Crash Brad Birzer’s Class

You might dig the Hillsdale prof’s distance-lecturing, like this Friday’s lecture on Ideology and Communism. Watch it here.

Bats in the Wuhan Belfry

1. Jim Geraghty traces the viral origins. Find it here:

2. The day before, Jim had authored a stellar piece, “All Signs Point to China.” Find it here.

3. Jim offers a primer on bat soup. Here it is.

4. This video, by Matthew Tye, seconds the motion of where it all began, and that complete blame belongs to the Chinese Communist Party. Watch it here.

Related: Tye’s new video on the shocking appointment of Uyghur-torturing, Falun Gong-organ-removing Red China to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Watch it here.

Podcastapalooza

1. At Radio Free California, Will and special guest Edward Ring describe the homeless living on the beach during the plague, the financial crisis coming to your city, and their hope that the economic shutdown will lead to a transformation in California politics. Surf’s up, here.

2. At The Bookmonger, John J. Miller chats with Congressman Dan Crenshaw about his new book, Fortitude. Catch it here.

3. More JJM, at his The Great Books podcast, where in the new episode he is joined by Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal to discuss Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Your wisdom grows here.

4. On the new episode of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss farming, and touch on humanity’s fascination with the quirks of famous individuals. Hear here.

5. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss Trump’s performance during this crisis and express concern over British prime minister Boris Johnson’s hospitalization. Listen up, here.

6. On The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast, our star and his utterly annoying co-host discuss the gloomy Eeyore–channeling prognosticators and the strategic upside of their being always pessimistic; the sheer amount of deaths from other diseases, and how they prompt no American shut-down; South Dakota governor Kristi Noem’s bucking the one-size-fits-all epidemic-policy response; how COVID-19 has achieved Advantaged Disease status; the EU’s failure to bear its rightful burden for global safety and security; and President Trump’s favorable/unfavorable numbers. Grab the headphones and listen, here.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern believes the coronavirus economic wallop may signal the end of the Euro. From the report:

On March 26, EU leaders, during a virtual summit held by video conference, were unable to agree on an economic response to the coronavirus. A day earlier, nine eurozone countries — Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain — called for a common debt instrument, called “coronabonds,” to mitigate the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis. “We are all facing a symmetric external shock, for which no country bears responsibility, but whose negative consequences are endured by all,” they said in a letter.

Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands, dubbed the eurozone’s “frugal four,” rejected the idea of issuing joint debt to finance economic recovery in Southern Europe. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that issuing joint debt would be “crossing the Rubicon” because it would turn the eurozone into a “transfer union” in a way that was not foreseen by the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union and laid the foundation for the single currency. “I cannot foresee any circumstance under which we will change our position,” he said.

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, in a letter to parliament, warned that coronabonds would introduce the threat of “moral hazard” by disincentivizing economic reform in debt-ridden Southern Europe. He also called on the European Commission, the EU’s administrative arm, to investigate why countries such as Italy and Spain have not made adequate economic reforms since the 2008 financial crisis.

A European diplomat quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant described Hoekstra’s comments as a “serious insult” to Southern Europe. Another diplomat said that the comments were a “Dutch middle finger to the south.”

2. I-rrivederci? At The American Conservative, Francesco Giubilei ponders whether Italy will try to escape the European Union. From the piece:

Why don’t the countries of southern Europe (and Ireland, which has joined them) want to accept the use of the resources of the ESM? Journalist Nicola Porro, one of the most well-known voices in the world of the Italian center right-wing, put it this way in one of his popular videos: accepting the ESM would risk putting Italy into receivership administered by a reborn “troika” consisting of the ECB, the EU and the IMF—just as happened in Greece in 2008. The risk of accepting those resources today could prove fatal since the conditions of the loan would most likely change after the emergency ends.

The fear of the center-right parties, in particular Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia and Matteo Salvini’s Lega, is that the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will end up accepting the ESM, which will probably be packaged and presented differently, but in substance will remain the same.

The current crisis cannot be compared to that of 2008. In 2008, Europe faced a financial crisis with economic and social consequences. Today, we face a public health emergency, which means that the emotional aspect also plays an important role. How do you tell an entrepreneur from Lombardy, one of the wealthiest regions in Europe with a GDP higher than many regions of Germany, that the European Union allocated ten days to discuss and find a solution—in the middle of a pandemic, when lives are at stake? How do you explain that to someone who has worked for a lifetime, paid taxes, provided jobs to many people and who has probably lost his father, a friend, or an employee to the coronavirus in a matter of days?

Even if the European Union continues to function in a political and formal sense, emotionally, for the majority of the citizens of Mediterranean countries it no longer exists. If tomorrow morning a consultative referendum were held in Italy with an online vote, 80 percent of Italians would likely favor an exit. Not only conservative and center right parties have opposed the current European Union, but for the first time, many liberal and left-wing citizens have also taken sides against the EU as they observe their response to the pandemic and the perceived indifference to Italy’s fate.

3. More from TAC: Robert Merry believes the pandemic’s disruptive force might unleash a populist revolution. From the piece:

In domestic terms, the status quo has been characterized by relatively porous borders, the financialization of the U.S. economy, deindustrialization, anti-nationalism, a liberal political hegemony on social and cultural issues enforced through political correctness, and an oligarchy of bigness–Wall Street’s big finance, Washington’s big government, big corporations throughout the country, big labor representing increasingly well-off public employees, and self-aggrandizing state and local governments.

This status quo is facing increasing hostility from vast numbers of ordinary Americans who feel that the elites and the big institutions they dominate have hijacked the American system for their own exploitation. In his Wall Street Journal column the other day, Walter Russell Mead suggested a good way of assessing the magnitude of this anti-establishment sentiment would be to combine Donald Trump’s political base (about 43 percent of the electorate, by most assessments) with Bernie Sanders’s base (36 percent of Democratic voters in the latest Real Clear Politics poll average; hence, 13 percent of the electorate). That, he said, suggests that fully 55 percent of U.S. voters “now support politicians who openly despise the central assumptions of the political establishment.”

This knot of political hostility stems from the perceived follies perpetrated over the last half-century or so by the meritocratic elite–endless Middle East wars without victory or even much of a point; immigration laxity to the point of serious assimilation challenges; the outsourcing of our industrial capacity to the point where other nations, particularly China, control the distribution of goods and products that are crucial to U.S. military preparedness and citizen safety and health; a student-debt crisis that thwarts upward mobility of the nation’s young; a spree of fiscal irresponsibility that saddles cities and states with irrepressible pension debt while leaving untended massive infrastructure imperatives; and financial disruption throughout Middle America stemming from the hollowing out of the country’s industrial base.

The central reality of American politics today is the gulf between, on one hand, the nation’s elites and their primary constituency groups (minorities, academics, government employees, and well-off urban/suburbanites) and, on the other hand, that 55 percent of the electorate characterized by Walter Russell Mead as being motivated primarily by an abiding hostility to what Mead calls “the self-proclaimed expert class.”

4. More EU Crackup: At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce looks at an ignored EU judicial dictat and the consequences of defiance. From the beginning of the piece:

On April 2, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s “supreme court,” ruled that its member nations have no right to control their borders, unless they have first gained the EU’s permission to do so. This, at least was the essence of the ruling, which appertained to the migrant crisis of 2015 and which reprimanded those countries that had refused to open their doors to the mandatory quota of migrants that the EU had sought to impose on them.

“By refusing to comply with the temporary mechanism for the relocation of applicants for international protection,” the Court of Justice said in its ruling, “Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under European Union law.”

Seeing through the EU’s jargon, these three countries believed that the vast majority of the migrants were not “applicants for international protection” but were merely economic migrants from mostly Muslim countries seeking illegal entry into Europe, amongst whom might be many potential terrorists. “The most important goal of government policy is to ensure security for our citizens,” said Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller. “Our actions were dictated by the interests of Polish citizens and defending [the country] against uncontrolled migration.”

The EU’s Court of Justice also stipulated in its ruling that “those Member States can rely neither on their responsibilities concerning the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security, nor on the alleged malfunctioning of the relocation mechanism to avoid implementing that mechanism.” Let’s reiterate what this court ruling states, as outrageous as it is, in order to fully comprehend its tyrannous nature. The member states of the European Union have no legal right to safeguard their own internal security, nor even maintain law and order, if the EU orders them to do something that endangers both. This is nothing less than imperialism of the most egregious sort, riding roughshod over any semblance of subsidiarity, which the EU claims that its members possess.

5. At The College Fix, Daniel Payne reports on a retired epidemiologist and his ignored warnings about battling the coronavirus. From the article:

A veteran scholar of epidemiology has warned that the ongoing lockdowns throughout the United States and the rest of the world are almost certainly just prolonging the coronavirus outbreak rather than doing anything to truly mitigate it.

Knut Wittkowski, previously the longtime head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at the Rockefeller University in New York City, said in an interview with the Press and the Public Project that the coronavirus could be “exterminated” if we permitted most people to lead normal lives and sheltered the most vulnerable parts of society until the danger had passed.

“[W]hat people are trying to do is flatten the curve. I don’t really know why. But, what happens is if you flatten the curve, you also prolong, to widen it, and it takes more time. And I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary,” he said.

6. At Newsweek, Peter Roff agrees that a Coronavirus Commission needs to be created — as long as its members are appointed by President Trump. From the column:

There should be a commission, ideally appointed by the president, that looks at all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis with special concentration on the way federal and state governments failed the citizens who put them in office.

Such a commission, if it were bipartisan and composed of heavyweights from the fields of medicine, government and industry, could do a lot to help us understand how and why things got as far as they did. A panel led by the likes of former Vice President Dick Cheney or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the Republicans and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or former Governor Jerry Brown for the Democrats would immediately command the public’s respect. They’ve demonstrated at one time or another that they’re not afraid to ask hard questions and follow the truth where it leads. More important, they would not shy away from making tough recommendations regarding future economic, health and national security needs—even if they might upset the institutions and political allies that once gave them their considerable power.

The other members of the commission should be those who have valuable, relevant experience in both the private and public sectors. Former Vermont Democratic Governor Howard Dean is a medical doctor. Former Michigan Republican Governor John Engler, after he left office, went on to run the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. The ideal candidate, my former boss, Bush 43 Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, is unavailable; he passed away too soon. Yet there are plenty of other strong candidates who have served in government and have backgrounds in the hard sciences, health care, finance or engineering.

Baseballery

In which we discuss the Detroit Tigers, hopefully to the pleasure of Editor Phil . . .

It may have been the original Old Timer’s Day, the final regular season game of 1934, between the World Series–bound Detroit Tigers, sporting right-handed ace Tommy Bridges, and the 67–85 St. Louis Browns, going nowhere fast (then, and for the next decade). The AL champs prevailed, 6–2 (it was the second game of a Sunday doubleheader, and the Tigers took the first contest too, 10–6, with Browns starter Bobo Newsom — in the worst start of his storied career, and that’s saying something — unable to register an out, on his way to his league-leading 20th loss).

But: The Browns won the story.

Game Two, sixth inning: Trailing 4–0, Browns manager Rogers Hornsby, who still dabbled on occasion as a player (and would until 1937), yanked starter George Blaeholder and created history when he chose to pinch-hit for him 58-year-old coach Charles Timothy O’Leary. The one-time starting shortstop for the Tigers, back in the ‘00s, had last played in an MLB game in 1913, when the 37-year-old played shortstop for the basement-dwelling St. Louis Cardinals.

Leading off the sixth, facing Tiger reliever Elden Auker, O’Leary singled, and later that inning scored the Browns’ first run. He’d be the oldest man to ever to register a hit and score a run in a baseball game.

More fun followed. In the top of the seventh, the relatively youthful (38) Hornsby put himself in the lineup, pinch-hitting (he made an out). And then in the bottom of the frame, The Rajah pulled another stunt that would have warmed the cockles of AARP.

Late that season, with an emergency need for a back-up catcher, the Browns had conscripted their 45-year-old coach Grover Hartley to strap on the tools of ignorance. He had caught his first game in 1911 (the then-23-year-old’s battery mate was the great Rube Marquard), and on this September Sunday he did so one final time when Hornsby yanked starting catcher Rollie Hemsley, replacing him with the man known as “Slick.” It proved another historic event: Hartley’s appearance would be the last time anyone who had played in the Federal League (he wore the mask for the St. Louis Terriers in each of its two seasons, 1914–15) would play in an MLB game.

Hartley caught the seventh and eighth innings, and closed out the game in his last career at bat, making out to end another dismal season for the Browns.

Oh yes: Rounding out the Browns’ geritocracy that day was 34-year-old Oscar Donald Melillo, the starting second baseman better known as “Ski,” but also formally nicknamed “Spinach” — he was said by some to be the inspiration for Popeye. The youngster went 0 for 4 in the nightcap.

And: Rest in Peace Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline.

A Dios

Why the flattening? Perhaps your prayers mattered, eh? To my Brothers and Sisters in Abraham, Happy Passover. To my Brothers and Sisters of the New Testament, He is Risen, which means, so too may you be. What more is there to say, except for — if you behave.

God’s Healing Blessings on His Creation, Including You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, reachable with insinuations and blackmail threats at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

National Review

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Dear Weekend Jolter,

The plate here is groaning, piled high with links, like a monument to Jimmy Dean, determined to get the stir-crazied through at least an afternoon during this spell of forced isolation.

So, about those masks. They’re alleged uselessness has been . . . unmasked. Linda Halderman looked into Japan’s “mask culture,” and find it is a weapon against the pathogen. From her piece:

The medical nightmare that is uncontrolled coronavirus spread has afflicted Americans with another painful condition: economic paralysis. But Japan, despite sharing a maritime border with China and nearly one million tourists in January 2020, has so far managed to spare its 127 million citizens the medical and financial disaster of COVID-19. With about ten geographically isolated “hotspots” across Japan, there have been fewer COVID-19 deaths in that nation in a three-month period than among the 400,000 people of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the past six weeks. Japan has not been immune from economic damage, which is global. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, moreover, recently voiced concern about a possible explosion in outbreaks. But the country has, for now, managed to keep the growth in cases and deaths modest while keeping much of its economy open.

What are the lessons? The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic took the lives of nearly 500,000 Japanese. (For perspective, the combined death toll after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was 200,000.) Since then, a phenomenon began to emerge: “mask culture.” The wearing of cloth or paper “sickness masks” while healthy and in public has become such a standard practice in Japan that in average years, the nation manufactures 4.3 billion face masks for personal use. The typical Japanese citizen goes through 43 masks per year.

Initially a personal public health decision, daily mask wearing became a social etiquette standard and then a fashion accessory. Within the past several years, “sickness masks” have morphed into a trendsetting statement worn by celebrities and fashionistas. Daily public use is ubiquitous.

By the way, she’s talking about masks that go over the mouth, not over the eyes, Kemosahbee. All that having been blathered, assuming you are saddled up, it’s time to cry out Hi-Yo Silver! Away! . . . to the Weekend Jolt!

Editorials

1. We high-five the presidential executive order undoing Obama Administration fuel-economy standards. From the editorial:

The critics of the new fuel-economy rules should give up on pretending that this is about fuel economy, about saving Americans money when they fill up their vehicles. This is about the global-warming crusade. Transportation is a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States, and tailpipe emissions are a big part of that. Congress has been given several opportunities to enact a sweeping climate-change agenda, and Congress repeatedly has declined to act. The pollution rules in the Clean Air Act were intended to address local air-quality issues (think of Los Angeles’s smog problem, once much worse than it is today) and domestic externalities — not to recruit the United States into a global climate-change crusade. President Barack Obama infamously vowed to act unilaterally when Congress declined to go along with his agenda: “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone!” he thundered. President Trump has a pen, too. Using the regulatory process as a pretext to yoke the United States to climate-change radicalism was cheap and undemocratic — and it is, as it turns out, impermanent.

If the Democrats want to pass a law subordinating the economic interests of the United States to fashionable global-warming hysteria, then let them do it. We are confident that Nancy Pelosi would be happy to oblige, and Joe Biden has promised to out-crackpot the crackpots on the issue, imposing a net-zero standard on the United States as a whole by 2050.

All the Democrats have to do is bring the voters on board and convince them that a version of the economic hardships Americans are suffering during the coronavirus shutdown are worth continuing to endure for the sake of global warming—which is what a net-zero rule imposed on the U.S. economy would effectively demand.

What a Deal: Consider It Half Free!

There is a flash sale of NRPLUS (flash in the PG sense). The Suits (encouraged by The Blazers) have decreed there will be a 50%-off offer that will run through this evening (Saturday, April 4). If you have yet to become an NRPLUS member, which has more perks than that coffeepot grandpa left on the burner, do become one now, right here.

A Quartet of Sextets of Profound Writings of Conservative Wisdom and Monumental Reporting and Analysis, All of Which Will Stoke Your Intellectual Fires

1. Your Humble Correspondent believes that this is one of the most important pieces NRO has published of late — Christopher O’Dea’s rundown of China’s plans for global hegemony. From the essay:

By quietly acquiring a global network of commercial ports from countries and investors unable or unwilling to maintain their critical economic infrastructure, China has reverse-engineered the logic of conquest: Chinese state-owned companies now control a base network of the sort that previous global hegemons obtained through military victory. Expect China to use the coronavirus crisis to accelerate its efforts to use that economic leverage to pull host countries deeper into Beijing’s political orbit.

It’s too early to say that the coronavirus crisis spells the end of globalization, but as the pandemic unfolds, the outlines of a new international trade and political order are emerging in the Mediterranean region. Call it “globalization with Chinese characteristics.”

As the death toll in Italy soared, China flew in a team of medical experts and nearly 30 tons of medical equipment. On a phone call a week later with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged additional supplies and medical personnel. China also shipped medical equipment to Spain, Austria, and the Czech Republic, and millions of protective masks to France, the Netherlands, Greece, and other nations. But the aid was too late. By late March the death toll in Italy had surpassed the total that China was officially reporting, and even the news that the number of cases had dropped for the first time was accompanied by photos of Italian-army trucks carrying the dead on their final journey.

2. Bruno Maçães seconds the motion that brutal Peking Marxists have far-reaching plans in exploiting the locally sourced coronavirus. From the commentary:

Forget about “mask diplomacy.” It is no more than a distraction. There are other ways for China to use the coronavirus pandemic to upturn the existing global order. I see three main levers.

The first one is the direct comparison between the situation in China and elsewhere. The numbers of cases and fatalities provided by Chinese authorities almost certainly misrepresent the real figures by more than an order of magnitude, but the fact remains that a semblance of normalcy was achieved in a small period of time. If the United States fails to do the same, its prestige will suffer a severe blow. People all over the world will quickly change their perceptions about relative power and capacity.

The second lever resides with industrial value chains. Last month General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler closed all their automotive production plants across the United States and Canada. Other sectors have followed. In the meantime, China contained the worst of the pandemic to one province, allowing economic activity to quickly resume elsewhere. The most recent data show renewed activity in the flow of goods across the country, as well as at ports worldwide that do business with China. If the freeze in Europe and America continues for much longer, Chinese companies will be able to dramatically expand market share and replace Western-led value chains. Just yesterday Chinese authorities announced that manufacturing activity expanded in March, defying expectations of a contraction. In February the official Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a record low of 35.7. It bounced back to 52.0 in March. Prepare for a worldwide wave of Chinese acquisitions at knockdown prices.

Finally, in a more extreme scenario, important countries could experience the kind of economic shock that leads to widespread social and political collapse. At that point, China would have a unique opportunity to step in, provide aid, and refashion these countries in its image. It would look like a repeat of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the American world order after the ravages of World War II. Indonesia, South Asia, and even Russia might be of special interest in such a scenario.

3. Senator Tom Cotton was the man who saw this chaos coming and sounded the alarms. John McCormack recounts. From the story:

What tipped the senator off to the true nature of the threat? Why was he the first and the loudest voice in Congress to sound the alarm about the looming pandemic?

In an interview with National Review, Cotton is quick to point out that he doesn’t have a background in science or public health, but he does have two eyes. As a long-time China hawk, he found his interest piqued early on by reports “primarily from East Asian news sources.”

“Two things struck me about China’s response,” he says. “First their deceit and their dishonesty going back to early December. And second, the extreme draconian measures they had taken. By the third week of January, they had more than 75 million people on lockdown. They were confined to their homes and apartments, otherwise they were arrested. In some cases, the front doors of those buildings were welded shut. All schools had shut down. Hong Kong had banned flights from the mainland. [These are] the kind of extreme, draconian measures that you would only take in a position of power in China if you were greatly worried about the spread of this virus.”

On January 31, the president announced a ban on entry to foreign travelers who had been in China in the previous two weeks, while allowing Americans and permanent residents to continue to travel back and forth between the two countries. The measure was not as stringent as Cotton’s call for a ban on all commercial flights, but Cotton points out that the president “did not have many advisers encouraging him to shut down travel.” Advisers who were supportive tended to be national-security aides, he adds, while “most of his economic and public-health advisers were ambivalent at best about the travel ban.”

“I commend the president greatly for ultimately making the right decision contrary to what the so-called experts were telling him,” he says.

Of course, while the travel restriction may have bought the United States time, that time was largely squandered by the catastrophic failure of the CDC and FDA to ramp up testing for the coronavirus in the United States.

RELATED: This is the kind of liberal dip-dung being published about Cotton back in January. Here it is.

4. Marco Rubio jumps on the World Health Organization, the toady of Red China, consumed by politics. From the commentary:

Examples that could prove fatal are rife. In December, the WHO refused to act on or publicize Taiwan’s warning that the new respiratory infection emerging in China could pass from human to human. In mid January, despite accumulating evidence of patients contracting what we now know as COVID-19 from other people, the organization repeated the CCP’s lie that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. In January the WHO, at Beijing’s behest, also blocked Taiwan from participating in critical meetings to coordinate responses to the coronavirus and even reportedly provided wrong information about the virus’s spread in Taiwan. These actions are unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue.

The world’s leading global health organization cannot be used as a tool of the CCP, and the U.S. — the WHO’s largest financial contributor, giving five times as much money as obligated — must take steps to ensure it does. Once this pandemic is under control, WHO leadership should be held to account. That includes Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has allowed Beijing to use the WHO to mislead the global community. Today, WHO leadership continues to laud the CCP’s response even as more independent international observers raise questions over whether it is in fact under control in China. At this moment, Dr. Ghebreyesus is either complicit or dangerously incompetent. Neither possibility bodes well for his future at the helm of this critical organization.

I will also work with my colleagues in Congress to review U.S. contributions to the WHO. Most of our contributions can be used at the discretion of the WHO leadership. Maintaining current levels of U.S. contributions should depend on whether the WHO can reclaim its independence. First, we need investigations into the WHO’s unacceptably slow decision-making on whether to declare a global pandemic and into how China has compromised the integrity of the WHO. As well, we need accompanying reforms.

5. David Harsanyi blasts those who have made grandstanding journalist Yamiche Alcindor a hero at the expense of MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell. From the piece:

MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell, a self-made former crack addict, is going to transform 75 percent of his manufacturing capacity to make 10,000 cotton face masks per day by the end of the week, ramping up production to 50,000 a day in a month. That sounds like a patriotic act to me, especially given that Lindell is undertaking the effort without being forced to do so by a federal agency. I hope the guy becomes a billionaire after this is all over.

NBC? Not so much. The headline on its “analysis” of Lindell’s remarks was “Trump fluffs MyPillow in Rose Garden.” This matched the basic tone taken by a large faction within the political press. Why? Presumably because, at the end of his remarks, Lindell claimed that the Lord Almighty had helped elect Donald Trump president to save our once-beleaguered nation from its alleged depravations. Listen, if there is a God, I hope He refrains from tipping the scales of presidential contests. But it’s not surprising to hear an evangelical Christian talking about the world this way — unless, that is, you’ve never met one.

Of course, anyone who shows anything less than hostility toward the president is immediately cast as a reactionary, and their actions dismissed as questionable and self-serving. Many of the CEOs who have stood with Trump at his press conferences — this week, or in weeks prior — hold varying religious and partisan beliefs. The press didn’t have similar qualms about the CEOs of CVS or Walgreens, because they kept their views to themselves.

Lindell is a villain for speaking his truth, as the kids say. Yet the real heroes of our age — White House political correspondents — are applauded for speaking theirs. Yesterday, PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor, one of the many pundits masquerading as a dispassionate journalist, was chided by Trump during his presser. Immediately, journalists, who are now perhaps the most tribalistic group in American political life, rallied around her with fawning tributes to her bravery and victimhood (because Trump only lashes out at black women, apparently). #WeLoveYamiche is the hashtag, if you’re interested.

6. Rebeccah Heinrichs reviews the White House Pandemic Team and finds any judgment about its actions useless until we are through this madness. From the piece:

As for the matter of containing and mitigating the disease, Americans should have an idea about whether they can have confidence in their government. Dealing with a potentially devastating new disease to which the population has no immunity and of which there are no known vaccines is frightening enough without worrying about the government’s competence.

That’s why this charge from former Obama-administration officials — including Beth Cameron, who served as the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the National Security Council (NSC) under Obama — is so serious: that the Trump administration’s decision to “dismantle” the directorate the Obama administration created to quarterback pandemic responses is to blame for “leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like COVID-19.”

Former Trump officials, including former national-security adviser John Bolton and Tim Morrison, have disputed Cameron’s characterization. They say that there has always been a highly competent team at the NSC focused on and coordinating efforts to recognize and handle the threat of pandemics.

The facts back up Bolton and Morrison. During the summer of 2018, Bolton reorganized the Trump NSC. In January 2017, there were directorates for nonproliferation and arms control, for weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, and for global health security and biodefense. Bolton merged the three directorates into a “counterproliferation and biodefense” directorate. According to administration officials I spoke with, this reorganization was designed in part to have better cooperation between those monitoring and preparing for intentional biological threats on one hand and for naturally occurring biological threats on the other. This directorate is now headed by Anthony Ruggiero.

7. More Harsanyi: The title says it all: “The FISA Scandal Is about Corruption, Not ‘Sloppiness.’” From the commentary:

A new IG report looked at another 29 applications the FBI filed to get permission to spy on “U.S. Persons” (this can include green-card holders who are non-citizens). The FBI couldn’t even find “Woods Procedure” files — which contain “supporting documentation for factual assertions contained in the FISA applications, as required by FBI policy” — for four of the applications, while every single one of the other 25 that auditors examined had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.” In addition to the 29 applications audited, the IG looked at the FBI’s own “application oversight mechanisms” relating to 42 FISA applications.

Put it this way, the new IG report found a total of 390 problems in 39 of the 42 applications that “including unverified, inaccurate, or inadequately supported facts, as well as typographical errors,” and it found another 20 issues per application in the new audit.

If you’re keeping score at home, only three of 75 FISA applications (4 percent) used to spy in the investigation, starting in October 2014, were not problematic. Whoops!

It’s even worse than it looks, because Horowitz didn’t scrutinize the raw-evidence case files, which, for all we know, is teeming with mitigating evidence and facts omitted from the applications. If agents were this “sloppy” with warrants, what makes anyone believe that they collected the foundational evidence in a more professional manner?

8. California was supposed to be the epicenter, wasn’t it? Victor Davis Hanson asks some questions about the known unknowns in the Golden State. From the piece:

Even at this midpoint in the virus’s ascendance, most believed that California would be faring far worse. And they have good reason for such pessimism. California in a normal year usually experiences the greatest number of deaths associated with the flu in the United States, and it ranks about midway among the states in flu deaths per capita. The state was hit hard by influenza unusually early in the first weeks of November, including a strain that at the time was characterized as probably not “A” but a rarer “B” — and on occasion quite virulent. A typical news story related, in early 2020, “California health officials have identified 16 outbreaks since the start of the flu season Sept. 29. Flu cases, hospitalizations and flu deaths are all higher than anticipated, according to the health department.” Many Californians complained late in 2019 of getting the flu a bit early, with flu symptoms that were somewhat different from the norm, at times including severe muscle aches, some digestive cramping, an unproductive cough, and days or even weeks of post-fever fatigue.

Forty-million-person California, in normal times — that is, until around or shortly after February 1, 2020 — hosts dozens of daily direct flights from China in general to San Diego, SFO, LAX, and San Jose, and in particular, since 2014, several weekly nonstop flights from Wuhan. Of the nearly 15,000 passengers who were estimated to be arriving every day in the U.S. on flights from China in 2019 and 2020, the majority flew into California. After the ban, there were thousands of Chinese tourists who remained in California and could get neither direct nor indirect flights home to China.

Travel forecasts from China for 2020, even amid the trade war, had estimated more than 8,000 daily arrivals in California. Two years ago, Los Angeles mayor Garcetti bragged that 1.1 million Chinese tourists had visited L.A. — more than 3,000 per day. The greatest number of foreign tourists to Los Angeles are Chinese, and the city is the favorite spot in America of all visitors from China. During the months of October, November, January, and February alone — before the travel ban — perhaps nearly 1 million Chinese citizens arrived in California on direct and indirect flights originating in China.

9. The impeachment idiocy, and much more courtesy of the bogus crisis manufacturers, was the fiddling, says Rich Lowry, while the fires burned in Wuhan. From the column:

After all the energy devoted to inflating the Russians into a clear-and-present danger to the workings of America here on our shores, that threat has instead proved to be China, which loosed a virus on the world that has temporarily crashed the American economy and shut down much of American life, including elections.

After we spent months pretending that Trump would somehow be ousted from the presidency by his own party in the Senate, not only is he still the president, all people of good will are rooting for him to perform as ably as he can in this crisis.

After acting as though we had endless time and energy to waste on nonsense because the stakes were so small in what was, until the day before yesterday, a time of peace and prosperity, we have been jolted into a period when our national decisions really matter, and time and resources are of the essence.

In short, the epidemic has put in stark relief the pettiness and absurdity of much that has taken place in our national life since Trump won the presidency. This crisis is the unmistakable punctuation mark on that post-2016 era and the beginning of something new.

10. How goes the Constitution in times of true duress? Andy McCarthy explains. From the beginning of the piece:

Pandemic in the land is putting strain on our self-image as a free people for whom the rule of law is our ne plus ultra.

Alas, when it gets down to brass tacks, even those two beacons, liberty and law, are as much in tension as in mutual need. It is by law that society restricts our freedom. On the other hand, as Burke observed, without the order that a just legal system ensures, there can be no liberty worth having. We would descend into anarchy, into the law of the jungle.

Times of true security crises — war, natural catastrophes, or the sudden spread of a potentially deadly disease — have a remorseless way of reminding us about some brute realities.

It is all well and good for libertarians to say that the Constitution is not suspended in emergencies, and that are our rights are never more essential than when government’s tyrannical tendencies rear their head. But then real emergencies happen. Inevitably, unavoidably, our rights get restricted — sometimes dramatically.

This is not because government tends to tyranny, though it does if unchecked. It is because people crave security and community. They are willing to sacrifice their individual liberties, at least to a degree and for a time, to preserve them. This does not make them craven. It makes them rational.

11. More Lowry: All of a sudden, borders matter. Even to EU dimwits. From the column:

We are all restrictionists now. In the coronavirus crisis, everyone realizes the importance of borders, even the people who not long ago were ideologically hostile toward them.

Borders mark off the sovereign territory of one people from another. They are a means — if they can be enforced and defended — for a sovereign state to protect its people from invaders and unwelcome immigrants and goods. They are a tool almost every nation has used to try to keep the coronavirus from gaining a foothold in its population and to try to keep it from spreading further.

The lyrics of the treacly John Lennon classic “Imagine” — recently performed by celebrities organized by actress Gal Gadot as a balm in this time of distress — have never been so absurdly inapt. If there were really no countries and the world were as one, we’d be even more vulnerable to whatever threat arises in a city in central China, or anywhere else on the globe.

Of course, travel restrictions haven’t prevented the spread of the disease — there’s no such thing as an airtight seal. But restrictions at least bought governments some additional time, and openness to foreign travel from China had been an accelerant on its spread.

The EU travel restriction was an attempt to hold off the hardening of borders between EU nations themselves. Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland tightened their borders without coordinating with other EU countries. Even Angela Merkel’s Germany, which provided the kindling for populist movements across the continent with its open-borders approach to the 2015 migrant crisis, restricted travel without coordinating with its neighbors.

12. Hard to believe but Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin is keeping alive the Iran Deal. Jonathan Tobin explains. From the piece:

Those waivers are among the last vestiges of Obama’s disastrous Iran deal, which enriched and empowered the regime while also allowing it a legal path to a nuclear weapon.

Why is Mnuchin pushing for yet another extension of the waivers?

In July of last year, the Treasury Department said it required the extensions so it could gauge the impact of the sanctions on the nations that continue to use the waivers to do business with Iran and to work with its nuclear program. At that time, a “senior administration official” told the Washington Post that the goal was still to end the waivers but that Trump had sided with Mnuchin over Pompeo on the question because of the Treasury’s “legitimate concerns” about the effect of the sanctions on other nations.

But several months later, it appears that Mnuchin is seeking to change the administration’s basic purpose in dealing with Iran. Rather than replacing Obama’s terrible deal, the administration would bow to European and Russian pressure to maintain it in place. Mnuchin is apparently more interested in good relations with the international community than in using American economic power to roll back the alarming gains Iran has made in the Middle East — gains made as a result of Obama’s misguided attempt to bring about a rapprochement with Tehran.

This is a huge mistake. Richard Goldberg, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (a key resource on Iran policy) has argued that we could retain the waiver if the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese promised to “snap back” sanctions in the event that Iran violated the deal. Indeed, under the pact, these countries have pledged to hold Iran accountable. But none of them have any intention of doing so. What they want is to preserve the nuclear deal at all costs; they want to roll back Trump’s sanctions policy, which has made it harder for the Iranians to continue funding terror.

13. Brian Allen checks out the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at the Tate Museum in London. The work of the young, tubercular Victorian is mad, indecent, and plenty more. From the beginning of the review:

Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898) was tubercular from childhood and knew he’d probably die young. As an artist he worked with urgency, and that’s why his drawings look like a linear pressure cooker. He was as focused and fervent as a missionary. His gospel? To make art that created, in his words, “a new world of my own . . . quite mad and a little indecent.”

Mad, indecent, pungent, dreamy, and more. Aubrey Beardsley is the new exhibition at the Tate showing a rich, comprehensive selection of his drawings. It’s a retrospective of his career and striking in every respect. Bring your monocle, though. It’s time travel to the age of Victoria, and the drawings are small, exquisitely realized, and as randy as they are refined.

The show is chronological and covers all of Beardsley’s book and periodical projects. He was prolific, so covering him takes seven galleries with over a hundred drawings and a space for a film. There are some books and posters in the show as well as the periodicals he illustrated. Beardsley’s drawings weren’t the finished product — the printed sheet was — but it’s a delight to see his foundational work, as faithful as the reproduction process was.

Lighting is low — it’s a drawings show — and spooky, as is much of Beardsley’s art. The wall colors are deep blues, oranges, and greens, deep but not that muted. The colors have a touch of copper and are ever so slightly metallic. The Tate’s shows always look good. This one is gorgeous.

14. More Museums: This one of The Bible, and its transparent effort to document an investigation into a potential forged artifact. Colette J. Loll oversaw the study, and recounts it. From the piece:

Starting in 2002, 70 more Dead Sea Scroll fragments appeared on the market. Dead Sea Scrolls experts endorsed them as authentic. Between 2009 and 2014, Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and collector of biblical manuscripts and artifacts, purchased a total of 16 fragments with plans to display them in the soon-to-be-built Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. When they were published in 2016, scholars had already started to doubt the fragments’ authenticity. While five of the fragments underwent scientific testing in Germany in 2017, the museum opened with the fragments on display, with signs informing visitors of their uncertain status. In October 2018, the German lab concluded that the five fragments were “inconsistent with ancient origins.” This prompted the museum to investigate its entire collection of 16 fragments more comprehensively, and they sought my help to do so.

I am the founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, a consultancy dedicated to art-fraud-related lectures and training and to specialized investigation of artworks. I have led an anti-fraud initiative for a major online auction house, trained federal agents in forgery investigations, curated museum exhibitions, and lectured at universities and museums throughout the world. My message has consistently been the same: Fakes and forgeries permeate every sector of the art and culture market. The risk of fraud is substantial, and no collector or institution, no matter how affluent or sophisticated, is immune to it.

When the Museum of the Bible retained my firm, it gave me the green light to recruit and manage an independent advisory team — of scientists, conservators, and technicians — to design and conduct a rigorous scientific protocol for the imaging and materials analysis of the questioned fragments. Both the museum and the research team agreed that the approach needed to be designed to ensure objectivity, transparency, and reproducibility. That meant that the only role the museum had in our research was to provide access to the collection. It was mutually agreed upon that the museum would not influence the team’s research direction or findings and that our report would be final and released, unedited, to the public.

From May through October 2019, comprehensive imaging and scientific research and analysis were conducted on the fragments, with National Geographic photographers capturing several phases of the state-of-the-art process. Museum of the Bible wanted to fully document the process, regardless of the results, to facilitate transparent communication with the scholarly community and the general public. From the beginning, plans were in place for a conference to announce the completion of the scientific research effort and to disclose its conclusions.

15. The New York Times’ 1619 Project, writes John G. Turner, suffers from the same inherent mistake of other pick-a-year contrivances to explain the meaning of America. From the end of the piece:

So if 1619 and 1620 do not suffice, what about the more obvious 1776 and 1787? 1776 is the nation’s actual “birth year,” but it is far from satisfactory as a starting point for explaining American principles. The only thing that really united the members of the Continental Congress was that they rejected the authority of the British Parliament and monarchy to tax and rule them without their consent. Four score and seven years later, Abraham Lincoln insisted that the nation had been “conceived in liberty” and “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” It is one of the greatest lines in American history, but it presents an aspirational rather than realistic view of our origins. Author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, made plain, through his actions and his other writings, his belief in African inferiority.

What about the drafting of a new constitution in 1787? The delegates to the Constitutional Convention crafted an enduring framework of government. Although they forged the Constitution through a series of compromises on representation, slavery, and executive power, they enshrined the principles of republican government, checks and balances, and the separation of powers. The first U.S. Congress then passed the amendments that became the Bill of Rights. The decisions of these years shaped the future American political order. The Constitution remains “the supreme law of the land.”

And yet. The decisions of the American Founding were made by a small subset of the American population, even though the principles they enshrined appealed to many others. Understanding what became the modern United States is utterly impossible without close attention to a host of later developments: the abolition of slavery through the carnage of the Civil War, the New Deal (like it or loathe it), the Civil Rights Movement, and the Immigration Act of 1965.

Whether the subject is slavery or liberty, American history is a story of contested principles. A single birth year cannot unlock the very meaning of the nation, not least because how historians and others explain the past hinges on how they understand the present. An overemphasis on 1619, 1620, or any other year, makes our history far too simple.

16. Former senator Jim DeMint remembers his late colleague, Tom Coburn. From the piece:

Some of his detractors — pork-barrel politicians and their K Street funders, mostly — nicknamed him “Dr. No.” But they misunderstood. Elected officials who take their oaths of office seriously — left, right, and middle — have to vote no, and often, because the Swamp has so warped federal policy and institutions. During Tom’s tenure in Congress, saying yes to the oath of office meant saying no to Washington.

When Tom first raised red flags about Congress’s addiction to earmarks — special spending provisions inserted into legislation at the explicit direction of individual members — leaders in both parties, to say nothing of the media, laughed at him.

He didn’t mind. Tom Coburn understood that for outsiders, to win the fight, you first had to win the argument.

Year after year, bill after bill, he showed that earmarks were corrupt and corrupting. They warped Congress and empowered insiders and influence-peddlers at the expense of the public. Projects such as the notorious “Bridge to Nowhere” not only wasted a lot of money; they also covered up even more, because once members got their own personal teaspoon of Swamp water into a bill, party leaders became free to pour in gallons more without losing any votes. Every year, he and his staff put out an exhaustive report on dumb, abusive programs — the annual Waste Book.

Soon after Tom won the argument, he won the fight. Congress banned earmarks, in large part because of the grit and intelligence of one man.

17. The crisis has brought out the Paul Krugman in Paul Krugman. John Hirschauer cannot help but observe. From the piece:

Krugman’s portrait of conservatives as the cartoon villains in this crisis does, however, beget a second question: Krugman laments the “centrality of science-hating religious conservatives to modern conservatism,” but how is his implication that this situation is not “China’s fault” anything other than “denialism” itself? If it is not “China’s fault” that the nation’s officials smothered information on the person-to-person transmission of the virus, arrested dissidents who tried to tell the truth about its dangers, allowed 40,000 families to gather in the outbreak’s epicenter for a banquet well after doctors knew the virus was contagious, and failed to prevent the virus from spreading around the world like wildfire, then whose fault is it? Republicans’?

The third and most pressing question Krugman’s piece raises pertains to “experts.” What specific “expert” advice about the coronavirus are conservatives alleged to have ignored, here? Before the seriousness of the pandemic became apparent and the world shut down, some of the “experts” cited by Krugman’s own newspaper told us that travel bans “don’t work” to mitigate the coronavirus’s spread. Should we have listened to them? A writer at Vox claimed that “most health experts said there’s no good evidence to support the use of face masks for preventing this disease in the general population.” Were people who distrusted this advice and wore their masks in public “denialists”? How about those who were skeptical when the World Health Organization chapter in Asia said largely the same thing? Should we have heeded the advice of New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot when she encouraged “New Yorkers to go about their everyday lives” and suggested that the “spread” of “racist ideas” was “the greatest risk to New Yorkers”?

18. Kevin Williamson says adios to the Green New Deal. From the piece:

Without failing to appreciate the severe immediate economic consequences being felt by Americans in this episode, asking retail and service-industry workers to forfeit their incomes for a few months until their establishments can reopen is a relatively manageable thing even if we are (as I believe we should be) very liberal in doing what we can to protect them financially in the meantime. Telling everybody who works in coal, oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, plastics, and refineries — and a great many people who work in automobiles, aviation, shipping, utilities, construction, agriculture, manufacturing, food processing, utilities, and dozens of other fields — that their companies and their jobs are going away forever is a much larger thing. Telling everybody who does business with those people that they’ll have to consult Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for solvents and industrial polymers — and, you know, lights — would send waves of chaos rippling around the world hard and so fast that you’d need Tom Araya to properly give voice to them.

“Oh, but we’ll find them jobs in the new green economy!” comes the response. “It’ll be a net positive!” As though petroleum engineers were lumps of labor that could be reshaped at will by a committee of lawyers in Washington, if only we gave them the power. Nobody is buying that. Not many people are that stupid.

As I wrote at the beginning of this outbreak, Americans are hard to quarantine. We may yet end up paying a very heavy price for that — in some circumstances, a non-compliance rate of 20 percent (i.e., if every fifth person is a knucklehead) will have effects quite similar to a non-compliance rate of 95 percent. A 51 percent majority works in a city-council election, but an effective social-distancing regimen requires much more.

Those spring-break clowns down in Florida and the “coronavirus party” doofuses in Kentucky are We the People, too, and if they are not willing to spend a couple of weeks watching Netflix to save grandma’s life — or their own lives — then do you really think they’re going to take an economic bullet over the prospect of losing 3 percent of world economic output a century from now to global-warming -mitigation costs?

19. There’s a new British show called Upstart Crow, about Willy Shakespeare. Kyle Smith has seen it and likes it. Very much. From the review:

What might it have been like to be history’s most celebrated literary genius, the greatest man of his century, a figure of such vast and enduring influence that, 400 years later, innumerable people still quote him every day without even knowing it? Well, Shakespeare probably spent a lot of time griping about his critics, his audiences, his actors, his family, his social standing, his superiors, and his endless rump-ravaging commutes between London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

At least that’s the Bard emerges in an imaginative and very funny BBC half-hour show by Ben Elton, Upstart Crow. (All 20 episodes are offered on the wonderful streaming service BritBox, which combines the best offerings from the BBC and another major producer of British television, ITV.) Posterity may have placed Shakespeare on its highest pedestal, but his day-to-day existence was a sitcom, or could have been. Elton, who wrote every episode, stuffs his scripts with gleeful lowbrow humor, comic anachronism, and flowery pastiche of Elizabethan idiom (“Heaven forfend, I am a dunceling clumbletrousers”). One running gag is Will’s endless series of complaints about the coach service between his home and his stage 100 miles away. The joke is that everything he says sounds exactly like a National Rail commuter today, but in 16th-century vernacular (“Now we’re jammed together like two boobies in a bodice!” he says about one overcrowded carriage). But beneath the gag, there’s an awareness that Shakespeare’s life must have been miserable in many ways. Imagine regularly traveling 100 miles on 16th-century transportation! Bard or no Bard, Shakespeare must have put up with a lot (and he died at 52). Even basic hygiene would have been unheard of. Will’s mischievous old dad frequently razzes him while doing his business on a chamberpot stationed an arm’s length from the dining table.

20. More Armond: He catches The Call of the Wild and develops a hankering for pancakes, there’s so much sap. From the beginning of the review:

Harrison Ford’s recent movie adaptation of The Call of the Wild flopped at last month’s box office, and now the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) got $75 million as part of the Senate’s emergency-relief compromise package. Thoughts about these catastrophes came together with the PBS segment on Jack London’s novel The Call of the Wild that was part of the program The Great American Read. It was kill-time viewing for the Chinese coronavirus quarantine, but the coincidence rings an alarm.

The Great American Read was an eight-part series from 2018 designed to encourage literacy among boob-tube watchers, continuing the CPB’s enlightenment mission — Sesame Street for everybody. So London’s 1903 novel, included among the program’s list of “America’s 100 Best Loved Books,” was presented like storytime hour, and the novel’s virtues were explained by surprise literary expert Chelsea Clinton.

One dismaying, and condescending, CPB trend was its decision to include celebrity figures in the lineup of go-to liberal talking heads typically seen in PBS docs. Using celebrity to fight illiteracy mostly promotes celebrity. Chelsea Clinton’s appearance on The Great American Read exposes CPB political bias, and her book testimony promotes Clintonian it-takes-a-village propaganda. (Was Hillary busy on another ghost-written book?) Chelsea’s obtuse reductionism offends the pleasures and legacy of American literature as much as the Disney film does, the latter reducing London’s characters to CGI animation + Harrison Ford.

21. Somewhere between the amount of Baskin Robbins flavors and Heinz Varieties, Dan McLaughlin has catalogued Twitter types. Here’s a slice from the undertaking:

Let me introduce you to the 41 worst kinds of people you will meet on Politics Twitter. Politics Twitter is, sadly, ubiquitous, whether or not you originally thought your corner of Twitter was about politics. These are not precisely in order of badness (in many cases, especially egregious offenders fall into multiple categories). For brevity, I’ve focused on bad actors of a type particular to Twitter, rather than simply recite categories like “idiot” or “anti-Semite” or “jerk.”

The Assassin: The Assassin is on Twitter for one reason: to get you off. He is the single worst kind of Twitter user. He’ll call your day job, doxx your home address, tweet lewd things about your children. There’s no reasoning with the Assassin; he goes, or you go.

Captain Screenshot: One of the fine features of Twitter is that tweets don’t exist in a vacuum. They may be part of an ongoing, connected thread; they may be part of a conversation. People who want to engage can respond, or tag you, or quote-tweet. But not Captain Screenshot! Captain Screenshot posts an image of a single tweet, invariably to trash it and its writer, often in the most bad-faith reading imaginable. Worse, but not uncommon, is when Captain Screenshot drills the writer for not mentioning something that . . . is mentioned elsewhere in the thread or conversation. And because Captain Screenshot doesn’t tag or respond to his targets (if he’s feeling especially antisocial, he’ll refer to them by a cutesy nickname, slur, or Spoonerism), the writer may be unaware of how his words are being misconstrued, or puzzled as to why his mentions are suddenly filling up with bile. Worst of all is when Captain Screenshot blocks someone but keeps trashing that person from behind the block.

The Chief Dufflepud: The Chief Dufflepud’s signature characteristic is twofold: He has a legion of sycophantic followers who trail after him giving off praise like Sir Robin’s minstrels, and he constantly reinforces their reinforcement of him by retweeting their hosannas to his brilliance and courage. If you argue with the Chief Dufflepud, he will make sure that your mentions are flooded with these people, none of whom will add anything knowledgeable to the discussion; they will simply assert that you have been Owned and Destroyed by The Great One and should Take The L.

22. Teachers’ unions in California, reports Willl Swaim, are not going to let a little old pandemic get in the way of charter-school hate. From the article:

That’s how we might read the headlines from California this week. On the one hand, we hear union leaders banging the drum for social solidarity; on the other, we see them using coronavirus-induced panic to advance with utter cynicism the sorts of initiatives that demand they be delivered unto their tormenters (attending Catholic school, as I did, should do the trick).

Consider this morning’s story from the Los Angeles Times: “Citing the coronavirus emergency, the L.A. teachers union on Thursday called for a moratorium on new charter school approvals and a halt to new campus-sharing arrangements with charters.”

United Teachers of Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl has always hated charter schools — they are typically non-union and (just as typically) outperform union-run schools. But in a letter to the LA school board, governor Gavin Newsom, and state superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond, ACP cites the coronavirus as the new reason we can’t afford new charter schools — and especially the space-sharing deals that have allowed charters to move onto campuses with extra capacity in the low-income areas targeted by charters. “Low-income” means “dirty”: His concern, ACP insists, is for hygiene, but even that sounds remarkably like a callback to the water-fountain and bathroom apartheid of the Old South.

UTLA isn’t unique in leveraging the battle to insist upon its prerogatives. Across the state, California Teachers Association locals are stalling efforts to implement distance-learning technology. The governor’s “important emergency declarations have not suspended obligations to negotiate with unions,” CTA spokesperson Claudia Briggs said this week. Translation: Yes, yes, we’re in a crisis, but no mere pandemic can be allowed to infringe on union power.

23. More McCormack: He praises as a man of conscience the Democrats’ last liberal pro-lifer, Dan Lipinski. From the article:

It’s fair to say that Lipinski was the last liberal pro-life Democrat in Congress. Lipinski’s opponents tried to paint him as a conservative, but right-to-life issues are really the only place where he’s broken ranks with the party. In recent years, he earned a 7 percent rating from the National Rifle Association, for instance, and had voted with his party 87 percent of the time, “compared to 92 percent for the average House Democrat,” Roll Call reported. He points to his strong record of supporting unions and environmental regulations.

But Lipinski wouldn’t compromise on first principles or sacrifice his conscience to advance a progressive policy agenda. In 2010, he voted for Obamacare when it included an amendment prohibiting tax dollars from subsidizing elective abortion, but he voted against final passage when that amendment was stripped. Cuellar and Peterson voted against the health-care bill both times. Over in the Senate, the remaining self-described pro-life Democrats, Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have mixed records. Although they have voted for late-term abortions bans, they support funding for Planned Parenthood, and Casey voted for Obamacare in 2010.

The dwindling number of pro-life Democrats is bad for the pro-life movement, Lipinski says, because it will enable the Republican Party to take the votes of pro-lifers for granted. The near-extinction of pro-life Democrats is bad for his party, he says, because it has cut off a slice of voters.

24. More McLaughlin: He takes on the call for “Common-Good Constitutionalism.” From the beginning of the commentary:

Harvard Law professor Adrian Vermeule thinks conservatives should abandon originalism as a method of constitutional interpretation. His argument is such bad constitutional law that it is really neither constitutional nor law. It is terrible political and legal strategy. It is at odds with American constitutional history. It reflects the worst impulses of the Right in the Trump era to ape the most illiberal and corrosive habits of the Left. It would not produce the good society Vermeule envisions. And in a final irony, given Vermeule’s desire to effect something like a traditional-Catholic theocracy, it would promote a distinctly un-Catholic approach to tradition, legitimacy, and rules.

The essential argument of originalism is that the Constitution is a legitimate source of law because it was enacted by the people. It follows from this that changes to the law should be made by the people through the amendment process, rather than by unelected judges’ deciding what the law ought to be. Thus, whatever the Constitution was understood to mean when it was ratified by the people is what it continues to mean. This is the same way in which courts of law read statutes or contracts. Indeed, the “textualist” school of statutory interpretation, which considers the meaning of the statute’s words when they were written, is a longstanding and arguably even more successful project of many of the same conservative judges who promote originalism.

The New April 20 Issue of America’s Premier Magazine Is Special Indeed, with 15 Pieces Covering the Coronavirus Scourge

Our bossman, Rich Lowry, has corralled pieces by 15 exceptional writers to create a truly special issue, focusing on the numerous aspects of the coronavirus onslaught. As is our habit here, we share selections from the issue, which, as ever, is terrific from cover to cover.

1. Chris O’Dea, in another gem, discusses how Red China is going to exploit the debacle it caused. From the beginning of the piece:

While many in the U.S. and the West shelter in place hoping that warmer spring weather will slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, China is planning its own Spring Offensive.

China sees an opportunity to exploit the fear and carnage of the outbreak to strengthen its hold over global supply chains—and the medical-equipment and pharmaceuticals sector is the next industry in China’s sights.

It’s a bold move, but a deeper look reveals the fundamental weakness in China’s dominant position in global logistics and points to two strategic opportunities for the U.S. The first is to bring supply chains for vital medical, pharmaceutical, and technology products and rare-earth minerals back home to the United States. The second is to cripple the Chinese commercial maritime network that has allowed the Chinese Communist Party to sit atop a global supply system like a puppet master pulling the strings of commerce from Wuhan to Westchester.

China’s game plan is to pit large companies and financial investors against Western populations. Leading Chinese business schools and the creator of China’s top state-owned cement company believe that large U.S. companies and investors can be persuaded to increase foreign investment for the production of pharmaceutical and medical supplies in China. The calculus is that China will be more successful at keeping companies in China by appealing to the financial motives of those that are already invested there than it would be by opposing anti-globalization political constituencies that want companies to move manufacturing out of China.

It’s the latest application of the predatory economic and financial strategy that China has long used to gain dominance over almost every industry it has targeted, to coerce developing nations into accepting Chinese loans in exchange for giving mineral rights to China, and to pressure developed countries such as Italy and Greece to turn their historic harbors into ports for China’s global maritime empire. But China’s pharma gambit may be too little, too late. The political tide China is hoping to sidestep by appealing to the financial motives of U.S.-based multinationals is turning against the country now that American consumers, their homes brimming with Chinese-produced electronics, realize the full cost of moving so many critical domestic manufacturing jobs to Communist territory. Americans now understand the urgency of moving production of vital goods back to the United States.

2. Ramesh Ponnuru says that the Fed needs to prepare for the economic recovery. From the piece:

Markets cannot see the future, but they are pretty good at processing current information that bears on it. Their implicit projections do not easily fit the hope that a short, sharp recession will be followed by an equally rapid “V-shaped” recovery. They suggest instead that we are at best in for a prolonged period of low growth after the contraction. They further suggest that this low growth will be associated less with continuous supply disruptions than with a persistently depressed willingness to consume and invest: with “demand,” in other words. (Hence the long-lasting decline in expected inflation.)

A reduced propensity to spend money on consumption and investment is equivalent to an increased demand for money balances. In a panic, we want to hold on to more of our money. Individual households and businesses can accomplish that goal by spending less. In the aggregate we can’t do it that way: If we all try to spend less we all have less coming in, too. We can, however, attain our goal through a falling price level (or a price level that rises less than it otherwise would); the real value of our money balances thereby increases. Or rather, we could attain it that way if prices were sufficiently flexible. But there are a number of rigidities that prevent this kind of smooth economic adjustment. Mortgage payments, for example, do not drop in response to reductions in spending and prices.

There is also abundant evidence that wages, especially in modern economies, are not flexible downward. Consider two scenarios. In one, the price of everything drops 2 percent and so do everyone’s wages. In the other, the price of everything rises 2 percent and so do wages. In theory, employers and employees ought to be indifferent between these situations: The real wage, the value of a paycheck after adjusting for the price level, stays flat either way. In practice, though, the first scenario of widespread pay cuts doesn’t happen. If the level of spending throughout the economy falls enough that payments to workers must drop too, a lot of those reductions in payments will come from layoffs. That’s what happened during the great recession: The average real wage actually rose.

3. Avik Roy highlights the role pharmaceuticals are playing in combatting the virus. From the piece:

There are two broad categories of ongoing clinical development related to the pandemic. Vaccines, which help people achieve immunity to the virus, are the farthest off. A vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 won’t be ready until late 2021 at the earliest. That’s because vaccines need to be painstakingly tested in clinical trials to ensure that they make patients better, not worse. Flawed vaccines can lead to dangerous overstimulation of the immune system, or can make someone even more sensitive to corona virus exposure. And since you can’t ethically expose someone to coronavirus, you have to give the vaccine to hundreds or even thousands of people and wait to see evidence of whether the vaccine achieves a statistically significant re duction in the number of people who get infected. Furthermore, coronaviruses mutate frequently, meaning that a vaccine developed in one year would likely be less robust, or even completely ineffective, in future years.

The second category of drug development involves testing treatments for people who already have COVID-19. Some of these drugs treat the symptoms of the COVID-19 disease; others directly attack and kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This latter category includes the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which President Trump has held out as a promising approach. A small French trial of 42 patients with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin showed potential in reducing virus levels in COVID-19 patients. But another trial conducted in China compared the outcome of 15 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with that of 15 patients who did not; the results showed that the hydroxychloroquine had no apparent effect. A third study, also conducted in China, suggests that a related drug, chloroquine, may clear a patient’s concentration of viral infection, known as the viral load.

The mixed evidence led to much tut-tutting from those who already dislike the president, but also genuine concern from those who worry that people will rush out to treat themselves with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine without conclusive evidence from clinical trials. Anthony Fauci, the eminent virologist who has served in six presidential administrations, made the obvious point that while the president was understandably expressing hope that the drug combination might work, we don’t yet have conclusive proof that it does. “I was taking a purely medical, scientific standpoint, and the president was trying to bring hope to the people,” Fauci said on Face the Nation. “There isn’t fundamentally a difference there. He’s coming at it from a [hopeful] layperson standpoint.”

4. Dan McLaughlin explores the impact on American churchgoers. From the article:

Nearly all of those in-person gatherings are suspended right now across all faiths, throughout the country and around much of the world. One of the earliest signs of the gravity and global reach of the pandemic came when the Saudi government announced in early March that it would close Mecca to foreign pilgrims during the annual hajj. In Rome, not far from one of the epicenters of the pandemic, Pope Francis will celebrate Easter from a largely empty St. Peter’s Basilica for a television audience. He will do so without the customary 5 million visitors a year who crowd the Basilica square. Catholic dioceses, ours among them, have issued dispensations from the obligation of Sun day Mass. Less centralized Protestant denominations have made decisions on a church-by-church basis.

Most everything about a Catholic Mass is built around the physical gathering of a community. This is not surprising, coming from a tradition that stretches back almost 2,000 years. The churches themselves are laid out for close-quarters seating and processions, not for television broadcasting. The Mass is full of call-and-response prayers and songs. The sign of peace, once conveyed with a kiss, is today typically a handshake. The handshake has been a frequent victim even of regular flu season and may be headed for permanent extinction after the current pandemic. The centerpiece of the Mass is Communion: the believers’ encounter with the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The liturgy surrounding the Eucharist is a commemoration of the Last Supper, itself a communal breaking of bread.

Now, we gather around a screen. The liturgy is still there, but the community and the physical presence are not. Many faith traditions are going online, often forcing un-tech-savvy clerics into un charted waters. Conservative Jews who need a minyan of ten to conduct a prayer service have been improvising over Zoom. This does not work for everyone, however. The Mormon Church has closed all temples, postponing services, such as some weddings and baptisms, that can take place only in a temple ceremony. Orthodox Jews’ strict no-technology rules for Sabbath observance (drawn from the rule against working on the Sabbath) make it impossible to hold services.

5. This may be one of the best-ever NR essays on the intellectual life: Peter Baehr provides a masterful reflection on the late Rebecca West’s writings on Whittaker Chambers, and the essence of what drove the young man to become a Communist. From the beginning of the piece:

Bolshevism’s appeal to Western intellectuals is a mystery we still struggle to explain. Why did artists who despised patriotism show a larger loyalty to Russian chauvinism? Why did writers defend a regime that repeatedly imprisoned, tortured, and killed writers? In short, why did intelligent people who lived in free countries worship at the altar of despotic states? Few thinkers studied this enigma more carefully than the British critic Rebecca West (1892–1983).

That is not an achievement we associate with her name. Rebecca West is more likely to be recalled for The Return of the Soldier (1918), an innovative psychological novel; or for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), that grand bio-travelogue of Yugoslavia on the cusp of war. Her reports on the Nuremberg trials, and the post-war trials of British fascists, also continue to find readers, especially among students of journalism. West’s writings on Communism, by contrast, lie unread, unsung. Many of them sparked controversy in her own day, and are well worth revisiting in ours.

In articles, book chapters, and book reviews spanning six decades, she returned to the allure of Communism for educated Westerners. (Its attraction for militant members of the industrial working class was no real puzzle, she said, not least because Marxism deified the proletariat.) Reviewing the second volume of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago for the Sunday Telegraph, West bitterly recalled that “25 years ago a large part of the Western European and American population of intellectuals were, with disgusting single-mindedness, pimping for Stalin.”

Decrypting Communism’s appeal, West believed, required paying close attention to the lives of true believers, people such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, and Alan Nunn May, and also to ex-Communist apostates such as Arthur Koestler and Richard Wright. She drew portraits of them all. But no life to her was more fascinating, and perhaps more revealing, than that of Whittaker Chambers (1901–1961), the Communist, later ex-Communist, informer whose testimony sealed the doom of Alger Hiss. It was in the conduct and words of Chambers that West found a source of longing for Communism that transcended Chambers himself. The context of her discovery was a trial and a book that caused a sensation in early Cold War America.

Listen, Will You Please, to Rich Lowry’s Call for Help

National Review’s writers and editors have a lot of extraordinary qualities, and the past few weeks show how an incredible versatility is prominent among them.

The U.S., and much of the world, shifted to an all-coronavirus-news environment almost instantly a couple of weeks ago, and NR was there — providing indispensable insight and arguments for this fraught time in our national life.

The lockdowns have foreclosed some traditional sources of revenue for our enterprise, which is why we’re asking you to chip in and help.

Again, NR has no sugar daddy, and never has. It relies on the support of its loyal friends and readers to keep our publication going, and always has.

So if you are here consuming more content than ever before, and we know that you are, please help us continue to publish what you are reading.

I suggest to you that Jim Geraghty alone is worth your support — heck, his “Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies” alone is worth supporting.

We’ve been hell on China throughout the crisis, insisting on its responsibility for the pandemic at its inception, blowing the whistle on its deceptions, warning of the dangers of Chinese globalization, and pushing back against the absurd woke critiques of calling it the Wuhan virus.

We’ve subjected the media’s self-obsession and hysteria during this moment to a withering critique, slamming it for its failures, calling out its eagerness to deem the U.S. response the worst in the world, and ridiculing the growing cult of Yamiche Alcindor.

And that’s David Harsanyi alone.

We’ve written how it’s not the media’s job simply to try to make President Trump look bad and urged against the effort to drive a wedge between Trump and Anthony Fauci.

And we screamed bloody murder over the media’s idiotic stories blaming Trump for a couple who ingested fish tank cleaner, supposedly to protect themselves from the virus via chloroquine.

We’ve scored Democrats for their shameful games over the relief bill and the Left for its continued obsession with promoting Planned Parenthood and abortion at all costs, even during a national crisis.

We’ve demolished the argument that the relief package is socialism and the Bernie Sanders contention that the pharmaceutical industry is run by crooks.

We’ve had differing opinions about how best to address the crisis, how Trump is responding, and the policy implications of it all, but regardless, our analysis has always been based on fact and reason, at a time when — as usual in the Trump era — so many people are inclined to lose their minds.

I, for one, am proud of what our editors and writers have produced over the past couple of weeks. If you have been relying on it, I ask that you consider a donation of any amount, from $5 to $5,000, to help keep our enterprise strong and vital.

These are trying times, and it’s important that right-thinking people hang together. Thanks so much for reading, stay safe, and God bless.

Podcastapalooza

1. Moi and some guy for whom we have named the Victor Davis Hanson Podcast discuss the coronavirus anomaly/mystery of California, how Donald Trump’s reelection hinges on the strategic foresight he will bring to bear in battling the pathogen, Red China’s hegemony plans through its global logistics and infrastructure investments, liberal Rhode Island’s realization that borders do exist (and hoping that virus-fleeing New Yorkers won’t cross them), and the upper hand held by virtue-panic mongers. Listen up, there will be a quiz!

2. On the new episode of For Life, Alexandra discusses her latest article for NR magazine on the little-known groups and leaders of the pro-life movement. Here’s the place to get the lowdown. And on the previous episode, she expounded on Planned Parenthood’s abortion obsession in the midst of a calamity. Hear here.

3. It’s the No End In Sight edition of The Editors, with Rich, Charlie, and MBD discussing the newly extended shutdown, the disgraceful media response to America’s coronavirus plight, and why everyone should be considered professional bakers after this is all over. You got the time, so strap on the headphones. And then in the new episode, Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the most recent press conference, consider whether U.S. leaders ignored warning signs or not, and give some well-deserved praise to those coming forward to help in this time of crisis. It happens here.

4. On The Bookmonger, John J. Miller is joined by Nancy Sinkoff to discuss her book, From Left to Right: The New York Intellectuals, Lucy S. Dawidowicz and the Politics of Jewish History. Catch it here.

5. More JJM: On The Great Books, he’s joined by Menachem Wecker to discuss O. E. Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth. Put down the remote and listen, here.

6. On the new episode of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Ken and Charlie discuss the chances of a “return to normalcy.” Engage earbuds and listen here.

7. Awaiting every Tommy, Dick, and Harry is a brand new edition of Political Beats, in which “Butter” Scot-ch Bertram and El Jeff-é Blehar are joined by Ben Domenech to discuss The Who. Pinball wizards and all others should listen here.

8. On Radio Free California, Will and David talk the Golden State and Bear Markets. If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the bear, right here.

9. On the new episode of The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss New Jersey’s increasingly tight travel and assembly restrictions, the continued operation of the courts, and much more. Pull into the Molly Pitcher Service Plaza and listen here.

But Wait, Up Above . . . Didn’t You Say Something Was Free?!

No, we said half free. But now that you mention it, let’s draw attention to a sister publication, and urge you to avail yourself of a free trial copy of The Human Life Review. The new issue includes the transcript of Rich Lowry’s excellent October 2019 talk at HLR’s annual dinner. Sign up here.

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, we are treated to the great Pierre Manent, who considers the question of Islam in France. Translated by Daniel Mahoney and Paul Seaton. From the essay:

Now, Islam comes to us as a form of life, at once individual and collective, one that has strongly etched features, to be sure with its own internal diversity, but which by embracing in principle all the aspects of life and the entirety of the social body, largely ignores the separations which are so dear to us between the public and the private, the religious and the political. While we oblige ourselves to relativize and present our “identities” (in the plural) with irony, Islam distinguishes itself among us by a compact identity that excludes irony and rejects all criticism. Confronted with this, we have decided that we will be ironists and relativists on their behalf. By boldly bringing Islam into the liberal secular arrangement, we gently, but irresistibly, will induce Muslims to take up toward their way of life and belief the distance that we congratulate ourselves for having taken toward our own way for such a long time now. In so doing, however, at the same time that we extol human equality and similarity, we look at Islam from above, not as a false religion or a less accomplished civilization, to be sure, but as a form of common life whose naive absolutism will soon be decisively moderated under the emancipatory effects of our liberty and our secularism (the much vaunted laicité in the case of France). This is the postulate that guides all of our dealings with Islam.

We thus suppose that the liberal and secular arrangements that we subscribe to are both universal and irresistible. What we think that we must and can do, determines what we believe we see or can see. Therefore, desiring an Islam amenable to our secularism, we refuse to seriously consider Islam itself, to take the measure of the amplitude, profundity, vitality, and perseverance of this great religious, social and political fact. Analyzing it under the twin criteria of the archaic and the modern, criteria which Europeans present as the sole criterion of the true, the good, and the beautiful, from the outset we deprive the great Muslim fact of its specific force and power. We prefer to postulate that secularism, radically separating religion and politics, will guarantee that the presence of Muslims among us will change nothing substantial in our common life. In short, while we hold that Muslims are our fellow citizens and equals, they do not truly exist as social beings and as a political factor in our national life.

Now, an observation that is so elementary that it requires neither a telescope nor a microscope allows one to see that Islam, in the diversity of its versions and expressions, has been animated the past fifty years by powerful movements that have transformed the Muslim world and exercise a rather forceful pressure on certain parts of the non-Muslim world. Whether one takes note of the Iranian revolution, Turkey’s ambitions, the Gulf countries’ ability to influence affairs, or the migratory waves headed toward Europe, everything indicates that Islam is in a period of expansion. Now, people will reproach me for unforgiveable naivété in bringing these different phenomena together and placing them under the common heading of “Islam.” However, the political perspective is indeed “naive,” because it believes what it sees, and what it sees is first of all the strength and direction of human associations. For the one with open eyes, it is impossible not to see that the Muslim world exercises an ever increasing pressure on a Europe that, for its part, is so weak that it makes it a point of honor of defining itself by indefinite openness to what is outside itself.

2. More Law & Liberty, where Gerald Russello wonders if the Right is something that can be patched up. From the reflection:

Roger Scruton in The Meaning of Conservatism discussed the relationship between conservative thinking and conservative practice in this way: “if it is true that conservatism becomes conscious only when it is forced to be so, then it is inevitable that the passage from practice to theory will not be rewarded by any immediate influence from theory back to what is done.” A lot of the history of conservatism since is reflected in that sentence. There has been much conservative theorizing since the 1980s, but its success as translated back into conservative practice is disputable. For reasons Dan McCarthy spells out here, political elites, including conservative ones, have been sleepwalking through the twenty-first century and many had not, until the election of 2016, realized the world had changed. This rupture had been building way before Trump. In 2012, for example, I noted in Perspectives on Political Science that the emergence of the Tea Party may have represented a different type of conservative renascence, because the issues motivating them might cause them to avoid capture by Washington and Beltway conservatism.

So in different ways, conservatives have been trying to patch themselves up again for the better part of three decades. Even in the wake of Trump, traces of the old Reaganism survive.  Some think the answer is to return to Reagan — this time as Democrats (the problem of rightwing pundits equating conservatism with presidential elections is a subject for another time). The 2020 National Conservatism conference, whose inaugural conference last year made such a splash as illustrative of the new conservative turn, invokes both Reagan and Pope St. John Paul II, a headline that could have been used for a DC conservative convention through t