Dear Weekend Joltarians,
Talk about multi-tasking: We’re fighting the Cancel Cultural Totalitarians (the ideological forensics reveals the fingerprints of Marx, Stalin, and Mao are everywhere!) while at the same time there is a full-court legal effort to cancel National Review by that infamous Nobel Peace Prize Not-Winner, Michael Mann.
And about that, there is good news: Today we learned that a D.C. Superior Court judge granted National Review “summary judgment” in this case (similar motions for other defendants — Mark Steyn, CEI, Rand Simberg — are still pending). Truth be told, that’s better than good, it is terrific news. Especially for the First Amendment.
But this Mann Affair — a thing the climate scientist cast as a desire to crush National Review — is decidedly not over. Not by a long shot. Miles to go, as the poet wrote. Our bloodied adversary will surely appeal this ruling (one can only wonder what Sugar Daddy is bankrolling his massive legal costs) and force us to respond in kind. And spend in kind.
Yes, we celebrate today’s victory, hard-fought, but with a downside that carries on: Added to the choke-a-horse existing legal bills coming in (yep, insurance pays for a lot, including Mark Steyn’s legal fees, but then NR must pay for an astonishing amount out of pocket), we anticipate much more to come. Our pleas to you for help, in this very matter, remain, sad to say.
The lawsuit aside, the costs of engaging in conservative opinion journalism — that is the bone-marrow essence of National Review’s 65 years of athwart-standing — is costly, relentless, and dependent. Yes, dependent — on those who see NR as a cause, a necessary one, a mutual one, a thing critical for defending the principles we (that “we” includes you) share and cherish, so much so that we are determined to pass them on to the next generation.
Our reality: The red ink is so plentiful and persistent that we must stand on our tippy toes, chin up (it may be the only reason Your Humble Correspondent appreciates his ample honker).
Also our reality: You are there to help.
Our ongoing webathon — which commenced on March 8th (it will run till the 29th) — has seen contributions in all shapes and sizes from (momma mia!) over 2,000 readers as we seek to raise $350,000 to fight these rat-****** blankety blanks who utterly despise freedom and tradition and these United States, and who cloak themselves in moral superiority for one purpose — to control you, conventional plebian, to exert power of you, unwoke neanderthal, to make you genuflect, horrid hoi polloinick.
Look at that stamp — unthinkable it was that the American press would one day become foes of free speech and bald-faced liars about their chosen field’s commitment to truth, to who, what, when, where, why, how. Well, Mr. Pulitzer, that one day is upon us. At this time of upheaval and cowardice permeating so many institutions (the academy, tech, media, major corporations) it becomes increasingly clear to thousands, daily, that National Review is the one place that is reliable — for truth, for sanity, for sound conservative judgment.
We have counted on you before. We do again. Please help us during this fund-appeal drive. Your donation comes with our deep appreciation, and the thrill of finding you alongside us, in this band of brothers and sisters that Bill Buckley established long ago.
And we offer a special thanks to those whose past generosity has kept us in this important legal fight, whose ruling today we cheer as we prepare for its next battle, on behalf of our First Amendment.
Now let us get on with the Jolt. But first . . .
Point of Personal Privilege One: The new Capital Record podcast is worth your attention and listening. David Bahnsen’s interview this week with longtime NR pal Fr. Robert Sirico, founder of the quite essential Acton Institute, is wonderful, and recommended. Catch it here.
Point of Personal Privilege Two: Speaking of longtime NR pals, it would be hard to find one more longtime-ier, and pals-ier, than Neal B. Freeman (he may have written his first article for NR sometime around 1963, was Firing Line’s first producer, ran Bill Buckley’s 1965 mayoral campaign . . .). Neal has written a new book, appropriately in time for Easter, titled Walk with Me: An Invitation to Faith, now available at Amazon. We most heartily encourage you to obtain a copy.
One of its more interesting chapters was published recently in the magazine — In the Kitchen with Hitchens. Read it to get a sense of what Neal is up to in a book that is best described as a spiritual memoir. This very inviting offer of companionship on a quest for the Divine proved, for Neal, a thing of fits and starts and dry spells — and of determination. Here’s is how he summed up his journey, and purpose:
When you’re walking toward God, there are no easy steps. Happily, the last step is short, clearly demarked and, by that point in your journey, attained with little effort. We all know how warm and welcoming it feels to plant a road-worn shoe on a familiar front porch.
And from hard-won, lab-tested experience we know that the steps along the way are many and tentative, some of them misdirected, some of them doubling back on each other. We know the general direction in which we should be headed, but the exact route is beyond our ken and known only to Him. But even the most debauched among us can put one foot in front of the other.
There is one step that is different from all the others. By taking it, we announce our willingness to leave behind our old selves. We agree to open the door to the certain perils and uncertain rewards of a new life. By taking that first step, we commit ourselves to completing our journey of faith, or to die trying.
The purpose of this book is to invite you to take that first step. Please, walk with me.
You’ll regret not doing so. Get Walk with Me here.
NAME. RANK. LINK.
These jackasses play to win: House Democrats Try to Steal an Election
Pigment of your imagination: California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Is a Radical Educational Proposal
Whose donkey is gored: Biden’s Filibuster Flop — Democrats Are Proving POTUS Is No Moderate
Wooing with trillions: Democrats’ COVID “Stimulus & Relief” Bill Is Neither: It’s Big Government on Steroids
Jack Butler: Joe Biden Should Leave the Fourth of July Alone
Mario Loyola: America’s Emerging One-Party State
Samantha Harris: Critical Race Theory in Education: How to Fight It
Keith E. Whittington: Campus Free Speech Under Threat; Here’s How to Fight Back
Roger Maxwell: U.S. Navy Reading List: Woke Books Have No Place in Training
Tom Cotton: How U.S. Can Beat China
Seth Cropsy and Harry Halem: Foreign Policy and the ‘Quad’: U.S.–Asian Teamwork Against China Is Vital
Jimmy Quinn: Pompeo Warns China Could Detain Outspoken Olympians
Charlie Cooke: No, Bill Maher, We Shouldn’t Envy China in Any Way
Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes: How Red China Crushed Hong Kong’s Democracy
Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz: Iran Nuclear Deal: President Biden Should Not Return to JCPOA
Kevin Hassett and Matthew Jensen whip out the calculator: How Much COVID-19 Stimulus Spending Will Cost You
Jimmy Quinn sees red use the green: Hong Kong Crackdown: How Red China’s Capital Paved Way for Authoritarian Takeover
Brian Yablonski covers the privates: Biden Administration Environmental Agenda Should Use Markets, Not Mandates
Steve Hanke and Robert J. Simon think the porkbellies need to make room: Cryptocurrency Boards Beat Bitcoin for Sound Money
LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW!
Armond White is kinda liking it: Zack Snyder’s Justice League Is a Restored Grand Vision
Kyle Smith sees a dust-collector: The Oscar No Longer Matters
More Armond, who seconds the motion: Academy Award Nominations: Preachy Winners, Dull Movies, and What Happened to Hamilton?
EXCERPTIO, ERGO SUM
1. The D.C. Superior Court finally hands NR an important ruling against Michael Mann. But this travesty is far from over. From the editorial:
The First Amendment exists to ensure that imperious and thin-skinned figures such as Mann are unable merely to declare what is true and what is false and silence anyone who dares to disagree. And yet, until now, our repeated appeals to its authority were left hanging.
As Justice Alito observed in his dissent from the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari, “a journalist who prevails after trial in a defamation case will still have been required to shoulder all the burdens of difficult litigation and may be faced with hefty attorney’s fees,” which, after a while, would “deter the uninhibited expression of views that would contribute to healthy public debate.”
Having spent so much in our defense, we know exactly what Alito means.
If today is good news, it would have been much better if Mann’s suit had been dismissed in its entirety. Instead, Mann’s meritless and vindictive pursuit of Mark Steyn and the Competitive Enterprise Institute continues (Steyn quoted a CEI critique of Mann in his post). Friends of the First Amendment, whether right, left, or center, should rally to the defense of Steyn and CEI.
As for NR, this saga is far from over for us. Mann may well appeal today’s ruling. Also, Mark Steyn’s legal fees have always been covered by our legal insurance, and still are. Finally, we have the presumptive right for Mann to pay our legal fees for some of the case, an option that, as it happens, would require even more expenditures in the short term.
2. Nancy Pelosi and Co. are angling to swipe the Iowa Second from Republican winner Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Worth condemning, ya think?! From the editorial:
Hart could then have gone to court in Iowa, but rather than use the proper legal channels, she decided to wait two months and go instead to the Democratic majority in the House to overrule the recount. She has been represented in this effort by Marc Elias, the Democratic Party’s chief election lawyer, who is essentially asking his own clients to rule in his current client’s favor. The Des Moines Register called in December for Hart to drop her challenge and concede once she refused to subject her challenges to the scrutiny of the Iowa courts.
This should all have ended four months ago, when Hart declined to present her case in court. Instead, taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Hart and Elias want Congress to substitute its own political judgment for the rule of law. The House has the power to judge the election of its members, but Miller-Meeks’s lawyers argued that the House has traditionally required challengers contesting the seating of members to first go through their state’s legal process. Hart didn’t.
Moreover, as Miller-Meeks notes, Hart’s complaint about the recount using differing standards for recounting ballots in different counties is largely the result of Hart’s own Al Gore-esque decision to consent to machine recounts in Republican-run parts of the state while insisting on hand recounts in Democrat-run areas.
Two months after Miller-Meeks was sworn in, Democrats on the House Administration Committee cast a 6-3 party-line vote to overrule her objections to the inquiry. Asked if she could foresee the Democrats handing the seat to Hart, Nancy Pelosi kept her options open: “I respect the work of the committee. . . . We’ll see where that takes us. There could be a scenario to that extent.”
3. This California “ethnic studies” curriculum plan is a horror show and needs to be kyboshed. From the editorial:
The first draft of the curriculum was so far outside the boundaries of the Overton window in California that it was rejected out of hand by the Board of Education, the governor, and even by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, who ridiculed it as an “impenetrable mélange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements.” One of its lesson plans included a list of 154 influential people of color but omitted to mention Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, or even the late congressman John Lewis. Pol Pot, however, the architect of the Cambodian genocide, did make an appearance, alongside other violent revolutionaries.
Antisemitism has also plagued the development of the model curriculum from the start. An early draft listed the anti-Semitic BDS campaign alongside Black Lives Matter and #MeToo as an example of an historic American social movement and also referred to the 1948 Israeli War of Independence only as the “Nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe.” Even in the final version of the curriculum, Jews have been relegated to an appendix. Their outsized contribution to American life does not warrant a place in the core content of the course in the eyes of the curriculum’s authors.
4. The only thing the COVID bill is going to stimulate is an addiction for big government. From the editorial:
What is really happening is that progressives are building a — federally funded, over-budget — castle in the air. If Biden wants to spend even larger sums on infrastructure in future legislation, he will not have the helpful context of his first weeks in office and a continuing pandemic. And even in this bill, they were unable to secure an increase in the minimum wage, losing the votes of eight Senate Democrats and all the Republicans. (They can’t blame the filibuster for that.) Its biggest-ticket items, money for state and local governments and checks to households, will do little to expand the federal government on a permanent basis.
Meanwhile, polls continue to suggest that most Americans do not believe the federal government should grow larger and do not trust its competence. These are generalities, of course, and have in the past been compatible with public support for specific government interventions. But there is not much evidence the public is part of any grand “realignment.”
It may well turn out that voters will feel well-disposed toward the ruling Democrats over the next two years as we emerge from COVID-19. The Democrats are making a dubious bet, though, if they believe voters will be more inclined to credit them for any happy conditions because of this legislation. CNN found 61 percent support for it, yes. But CNN found 54 percent support for President Obama’s stimulus in February 2009. The Democrats still lost the House in the next election.
5. President Joe forgets where Senator Joe stood (correctly) on the filibuster. From the editorial:
Alas, Biden is not alone in his overnight conversion. Unlike Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues, who resisted intense anti-filibuster pressure from President Trump, the Democratic Party has folded, almost to a man, within seven weeks. In 2017, 31 of the 48 senators who caucus with the Democrats — including figures such as Kamala Harris, Ed Markey, Mazie Hirono, and Cory Booker — signed a bipartisan letter affirming their opposition to “any effort to curtail the existing rights and prerogatives of Senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate.” Introducing the letter, which ultimately received more than 60 signatures, its co-author Senator Collins cast it as a defense of “an important tradition of the Senate that recognizes the rights of the minority.” Perhaps she should have appended a few extra words: “even if that minority is Republican.”
Principle aside, the timing of Biden’s change is strategically dubious. The Senate is currently split 50-50 been the parties, with the vice president breaking any ties. The House is as closely divided as it has been in decades. Already, Democrats are having trouble getting to 50 votes — a problem that is only likely to grow as the honeymoon phase wanes. It would take just a single death or retirement within the Democratic caucus to render the move against the filibuster either perilous or moot.
And it is the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, that has most recently benefited from the safeguards accorded to the minority. In 2017, despite having an outright Senate majority and a long list of priorities, Mitch McConnell instinctively understood that the pendulum can swing fast and that the best legislative rules take stock of that fact. Is Chuck Schumer unable to resist as did McConnell?
6. We argue that the Army should not backtrack on it’s gender-neutral fitness test. From the editorial:
Recent reporting by Task & Purpose, a military-news outfit, reveals that Army brass is weighing whether to backtrack on the new gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) to instead include different evaluation metrics for men and women after early results indicated that as many as 65 percent of female soldiers were failing the test versus only 10 percent of men.
The new test, a replacement for the decades-old Army Physical Fitness Test and widely trumpeted as both gender-neutral and a better match for the physical demands of modern combat, comprises six events: a deadlift, a standing power throw (throwing a 10-pound medicine ball backwards over your head), push-ups, a drag-and-carry shuttle run, leg tucks (hanging from a pull-up bar and raising your legs to your chest), and a two-mile run. The test may not be perfect, but its stated purpose was to create a new meritocratic test for the new gender-neutral Army.
Those pushing for a fully gender-integrated military have long deployed conveniently shifting arguments to suit their purposes: “The standard will be the same for both men and women,” they told us when pushing for women in the combat arms. Indeed, as secretary of defense Ash Carter promised in 2015, “as long as they qualify and meet the standards,” women could serve in Army and Marine Corps infantry units, in the special forces, and in any other uniformed capacity.
An Uber-Smattering of Articles Wise and Essays Intelligent, Fitted Out with Generous Excerpts
1. Rich Lowry predicts Chuck Schumer and the filibuster-busters will regret any such decision. From the piece:
If the rules around the filibuster have changed over time, the basic practice dates from the beginning of the Senate. The tactic got its name in the mid-19th century and has remained part of the identity of the Senate ever since.
There is now an effort to brand the filibuster as inherently an instrument of hatred and repression. The filibusters of civil-rights legislation in the mid-20th century are justly notorious, but the tactic has often been used to progressive ends, most recently thwarting as much of Trump’s legislative agenda as possible.
Back in 2017, more than 30 Senate Democrats, including Kamala Harris, signed a letter urging that the tactic be preserved. Of course, Biden himself has long favored it. As late as last year, he was saying that ending the filibuster would be “a very dangerous move.”
Democrats have changed their tune now, obviously, because they control the Senate. But the timing still isn’t propitious for them. It’s not as though the Democrats have a robust majority. They have the slightest advantage, thanks to Harris, in a 50-50 Senate. An unexpected retirement or illness could put their control in jeopardy, and it’s hardly a guarantee they will hold the majority after 2022.
2. Jack Butler has the back of Independence Day, of late toyed with by our Distant-Pissant-Barbecue-Celebrating POTUS. From the piece:
The most egregious part of all this is the seeming attempt by the president to use the somewhat-suspect aegis of “public health” to encroach upon the fundamentally American spirit of liberty, to mix up positive liberty (goods granted by the state) and negative liberty (freedom inherent in all of us) in such a way as to render them difficult to distinguish.
It actually reminds me a bit of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Over the course of the pandemic, the U.K.’s government-run health-care system has taken on an even more religious character for many citizens there than it had before (and that’s saying something; recall its prominent and worshipful place in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies). It just so happens that the NHS was founded on July 5, a date that this year Britons were urged to celebrate as a kind of holiday.
Biden’s attempted co-opting of our national holiday celebrating freedom from government bears an eerie resemblance to this culture of state worship across the pond. But the peril of identifying freedom as something the government gives you is forgetting that it can just as easily take things away.
3. The political goal of lefties and progressives, says Mario Loyola, is to make America into a one-party state. And guess what — it ain’t your party. From the essay:
The great innovator in this new form of democratic centralism was of course Barack Obama. His transgender-bathroom and sexual-harassment orders under Title IX used federal education programs to impose progressive social priorities on state and local schools and universities by lawlessly threatening to cut off unspecified education funding if they didn’t comply. Using informal agency “guidance” to skirt the Administrative Procedure Act’s parameters for agency action, the Title IX orders were merely a trial balloon.
The tactic of using informal guidance to impose major national policies on Americans through the instrumentalities of state and local government — who have to comply or else risk penalties that would end the career of almost any politician — is the new frontier in the progressives’ democratic centralism. It is why President Biden’s quiet rescinding of Trump-era executive orders meant to limit the use of guidance documents was perhaps the most impactful of all the new president’s actions so far — and we have only seen the beginning of what progressive presidents will do with this newfound power.
The progressives’ relentless drive to loosen election-integrity laws, pack the courts, eliminate the Electoral College, and do away with the filibuster, among other priorities, all have a common theme. Each of them are perfectly representative of “democratic centralism,” in the same sense that China’s Communists use the term.
And notice something else: The progressives’ expansion and centralization of government power never takes a step back, even when they lose an election. Why is that? For the same reason that the Framers put so many limits on government power in the first place: because men are not angels and cannot be expected to limit the powers of their own offices. Irrespective of his party, anyone who has these powers will use them and will by their use entrench them.
4. Dan McLaughlin is all over the Harvard prof who wants deny the voting franchise to those in the Party of Lincoln. Take this seriously, he says. From the beginning of the piece:
Remember that brief moment between November and January when Democrats and their voices in the media told us that asking legislators to overturn elections and attacking the legitimacy of the results of elections was a bad thing? Well, Democrats’ old tricks of rejecting outcomes, attacking legitimacy, arguing that it is rigged when their side loses, and spinning conspiracy theories are never far from hand. The latest example comes from Democrat Rita Hart’s ongoing effort to get House Democrats to reverse the election of Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by the people of Iowa’s second district to represent them in the House.
It is concerning enough that Democratic politicians act in self-serving fashion — that’s what politicians do — but it should particularly alarm us that the progressive intellectual class is continually pressing them to go even further. If misbehaving Republican politicians often embarrass the party’s intellectuals, misbehaving Democrats have their side’s scholars and pundits whispering in their ears like Iago, urging them to ever-more-radical steps. In this case, that means pursuing systemic and draconian “reforms” that aim explicitly at ensuring that a brief moment of narrow Democratic partisan control of the federal government is weaponized to prevent another peaceful transfer of power back to Republicans. This is branded as “majoritarianism,” but it is ultimately the politics of “one man, one vote, one time.”
Take, for example, a forthcoming law-review article by Harvard law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos (no relation, so far as I know, to George). Stephanopoulos argues that “majoritarian democracy” is “under siege.” He draws his diagnosis from the recent writings of former Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who now serves in the Biden administration as principal deputy-assistant attorney general for the civil-rights division of the Department of Justice (conveniently, a post not requiring Senate confirmation). Both are activist lawyers as well as law professors: Before joining the Biden administration, Karlan was the lead lawyer arguing Bostock v. Clayton County; Stephanopoulos was one of the driving forces behind Whitford v. Gill, which tried to get the Supreme Court to throw out partisan gerrymanders. Given the close relationship between Stephanopoulos’s article and Karlan’s writings — along with Karlan’s powerful government position — we should not lightly disregard this as simply harmless academic scribbling.
5. Fight Back One: Samantha Harris counsels on how to combat classroom “critical race theory” crapola. From the piece:
Most people know that the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. But it also protects freedom of conscience — that is, the right to hold our personal thoughts and beliefs free from government intrusion. The freedom of conscience is why the Supreme Court ruled that, even during the darkest days of World War II, a public school could not require its students to salute the American flag. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the majority, explained that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
The freedom of conscience is also why a Nevada mother is suing a Las Vegas charter school for forcing her son to participate in a mandatory class that “required students to reveal their race, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities and then determine if privilege or oppression is attached to those identities.” In the coming years, the First Amendment right to freedom of conscience will play a crucial role in the fight against the indoctrination of our children.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prevents discrimination, including the creation of a hostile environment, at public and private institutions receiving federal funding (which include most private colleges and universities). Many of these critical race trainings, particularly when mandatory, may create a hostile environment by continually singling people out for criticism solely on the basis of their skin color — such as when an employee at Smith College expressed discomfort at discussing her race publicly and was berated in front of her colleagues and told that her distress was merely a “power play,” a manifestation of white supremacy. These trainings have even infiltrated the corporate world: A whistleblower recently leaked slides from a diversity training for Coca-Cola employees suggesting that they “be less white.”
6. Fight Back Two: Keith E. Whittington strategizes on how to counter the threat to free speech on college campuses. From the article:
Liberal and moderate academics are deeply affected by the erosion of tolerance for dissent on our college campuses. Many of them decline to speak out on controversial subjects precisely because of the fierce intimidation that they face from their own side — and, to be frank, that they all too often face from politicians and activists on the political right. This creates an illusion of ideological conformity. Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania, a self-described liberal Democrat and a founding member of the AFA, recently described the problem in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:
If you’re affiliated with a college or university and it initiates a set of diversity trainings, you probably won’t bring up research suggesting that these trainings either have a negligible impact on racial attitudes or make them worse. People might conclude that you don’t support diversity, period. That’s just too big a risk to take, especially if you don’t have tenure.
Or if your university releases a statement condemning acts of police violence, you won’t ask out loud why it didn’t also denounce the rioting that followed some of them. For the record, Biden has condemned both. But if you repeat what he said, dear professor, you might be reviled as a racist by the same colleagues who are celebrating Biden’s projected victory.
For conservatives to win more support from liberal academics on free-speech issues, we must be willing to defend the rights of liberal academics to voice their own dissenting views. As a purely strategic matter, conservatives can build more support for the protection of their own speech rights by making common cause with liberal academics who wish to have their speech rights defended. Free critical inquiry and robust intellectual debate are at the very heart of what universities do, and we should recognize that conservatives and liberals alike have an interest in these universal principles. More broadly, the ability to have conversations across the ideological divide and to tolerate those with whom we differ is essential to living together in a liberal democracy. Universities should be models for how we build healthy communities despite our differences.
7. Cameron Hilditch finds the Golden State’s ethnic-studies curriculum to be repulsive. From the article:
The first question all this raises is one of pity and compassion: Will no one think of the poor writers at the Babylon Bee, whose Herculean task it is to satirize this dizzying pinnacle of woke insanity? If present trends continue, we will soon have to pass antitrust legislation aimed at reality itself on account of its unfair and anticompetitive monopoly on satirical content.
On a more serious note, however, the fact that such a document as this could be on the brink of becoming law in the richest and most populous state in America is troubling in the extreme. The religious component of this curriculum might void the entire bill in the end, running afoul of the First Amendment as it so obviously does. But the fact that it could be signed into law in the first place is evidence of just how completely conservatives and liberals alike have abandoned the field of education to radical progressives over the last century. There are few, if any, institutions in American life that can meet radical educational theorists and mandarins on their own territory and win long-term legislative battles. What is needed is a kind of Federalist Society for education, to which right-thinking parents, teachers, administrators, and academics can belong, and through which they can organize for change.
Opponents of the progressive education agenda have limited the effectiveness of their advocacy in the past by conceiving of the fight in terms of the familiar opposition between free markets and state control. It’s necessary to have this fight, but it’s no longer sufficient. The sooner that conservatives and classical liberals wake up to this fact, the better it will be for America’s children.
8. You’ve got to admit, says Itxu Díaz, that social media has given a global platform to a lot of chooches and reprobates. From the piece:
In 2021, we live under a pandemic of narcissism, for which there is no vaccine. The metaphor is not mine, but that of the American sociologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell in The Narcissism Epidemic. The authors differentiate between prevailing narcissism and healthy self-esteem. In the second case, people have an extraordinary opinion of themselves, but this does not prevent them from maintaining a sense of ethics and, above all, from continuing to love others. In the first case, what one feels for oneself is more akin to adoration, with the outside world appearing to be a rival, which awakens all kinds of grudges and hinders any way of relating to others.
Twenge and Campbell’s research uncovers a dangerous link between narcissism and the rise of socially reprehensible behavior in children and adolescents. It is also fair to note that narcissistic stupidity is not the exclusive terrain of young people: My neighbor, who looks to be about 1,400 years old, spends his days taking suggestive selfies of himself on the floor of his apartment, although the only thing they suggest to me is to block him.
When two individuals become famous for beating up a homeless man and broadcasting it live on social networks, our system of social punishment becomes ineffective. To the histrionic extent that these guys want to be famous at any cost, the punishment for their crime will be all the same to them if along the way they have managed to get their face reproduced on millions of phones. The number of followers gives them the false illusion that their actions have garnered ironclad support. In some insane way, they view these followers as accomplices who approve of their misdeeds.
Not long ago, a couple of idiots who worked in Spain as caregivers in an old people’s home posted, on their private social networks, a video in which one of them humiliated an elderly lady with almost complete paralysis. The worker insulted her, spat on her, and harassed her, while her friend — who filmed the scene — laughed her head off. Unexpectedly, some kind-hearted person distributed the video outside the girl’s private Instagram, and both miscreants were identified, fired, and socially repudiated.
One of them uploaded a video apologizing, but when someone shows herself to be the offspring of a hyena, apologies are welcome, however, they cannot alter the fact that we still think that girl has a heart of stone and a conscience drowned in sewage.
9. Roger Maxwell says woke books should have no place in military training. From the article:
On February 23, the chief of naval operations Admiral Michael Gilday released an updated version of the Navy’s Professional Reading Program. The program, a long-standing tradition that curates suggested readings for all members of the Navy, has a stated aim of educating and training the sailors that compose this branch of the Armed Forces. According to the Navy’s official website on this program, Admiral Gilday believes that in order to “outthink our competitors, we must study and apply lessons we’ve learned from the past.” He further holds that “one of the very best ways to do that is to foster an environment where every Sailor deepens their level of understanding and learning.” Many of the 48 books listed in the newly released reading checklist cover topics relevant to the Navy’s overall mission of becoming a more lethal fighting force: naval strategy, deep-dives into future world superpowers, leadership development, technology changes in the domain of warfighting, etc.
However, the checklist also included several books that are overtly political in nature, threatening what should be the apolitical nature of our nation’s fighting forces. As just one example, Ibram X. Kendi’s overly wrought screed How to Be an Antiracist somehow landed on the admiral’s book list. Writings in a similar vein appear on the list as well, including Jason Pierceson’s Sexual Minorities and Politics, as well as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. The inclusion of these books, especially given the hot-button topics they cover (and the controversial takes they provide) seems to place the Navy squarely into the realm of politics, which it has stridently attempted to avoid in the 200-plus years of its existence.
The inclusion of these books on an official DoD website is an embrace of partisan politics by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. One need only look at the contents of these pieces of literature (“literature” being used loosely) to understand just how true this statement is. Kendi’s book argues that capitalism is a racist construct. Alexander’s obfuscates real issues of violent crime in order to argue that incarceration rates for minorities are predominately, if not exclusively, based on race. Perhaps most egregious of the three, the openly partisan nature of Pierceson’s “textbook” practically hits the reader over the head with its agenda. Each piece of writing offers its own particular viewpoint; it just so happens that each is of the woke, left-leaning variety.
10. Adam Smith, slavery foe, may be long dead and buried, but that, writes Daniel Klein, is irrelevant to the Cancelers. From the piece:
In a Glasgow classroom on February 16, 1763, a student recorded Smith as saying that slavery was born of the “love of domination and tyrannizing,” which is why slaveholders clung to it. Contrary to popular belief, slavery was not profitable, and, as early as 1776, in his landmark book, Wealth of Nations, Smith emphasized that costliness.
So, in the first of Smith’s two published books, he railed against the injustice of slavery. And in the second, he demonstrated that slavery wasn’t even in slaveholders’ self-interest.
For years Smith was acknowledged by British abolitionists as an opponent of slavery. Yet now, in 2021, we’re supposed to believe that his “link” to slavery was discreditable?
Smith is not the only Scottish professor whom Clarkson commemorated in his great 1808 work. The others include Smith’s Glasgow teacher, Francis Hutcheson, and Smith’s Glasgow student, John Millar, as well as William Robertson of Edinburgh University. Clarkson also could have noted Gershom Carmichael, Hutcheson’s teacher at Glasgow. In other words, a long line of liberal moral philosophers helped to persuade their fellow citizens of the rank injustice of slavery. Their words deserve to be commemorated.
As for colonialism, Smith again is guilty. . . of being an opponent. In Wealth of Nations, appearing just a few months before the American Declaration of Independence, he suggested that the British government just let the American colonies go. And he advocated bringing an end to the British East India Company, which effectively ruled India as a monopoly backed by the Crown.
11. Dan McLaughlin Encore: He makes the case for populists to take on the classical-liberal approach to defending free speech. From the essay:
At heart, the classical-liberal position is that the freedom of speech is a good thing in and of itself, and therefore that the protection of good and true ideas requires us to extend protection to bad and false ones as well. All things being equal, more speech and more freedom are better. We should trust people to work their way through the marketplace of ideas toward the truth. We should give more space to dissenters in part because they sometimes help us find the truth, and in part because a decent respect for our fellow man should lead us to tolerate people who think differently. We are all freer, and safer, and more polite to each other if we maintain a strong culture of tolerating speech that itself may be ugly and rude. We seek protections for people we disagree with, because we may find ourselves in need of those one day. And because we value persuasion, we are also quicker to forgive those who may have said nasty things in the past that they no longer profess.
The populist critique is that classical-liberal conservatism is essentially contentless. In the populist telling, classical liberals are so wrapped up in defending the soapbox that they lose the soap. Conservatives who don’t insist on treating moral and factual truth as superior will, we are told, end up conserving nothing. This is something of a caricature, of course. Few people are so absolutist in their defense of free speech that they believe in no limits at all: You can still go to jail for fraud, be sued for knowing libel, or be fired from a communications job for being bad at communications. And a robust marketplace of ideas is only valuable if there are also people willing and able to sell their own ideas in that marketplace.
But are the populists consistent and serious about the worthlessness of the classical-liberal defense of free speech? Is their critique even popular? Consider: The biggest issue that unites and motivates conservative populists right now is the threat of cancel culture to free speech. But if you listen to conservatives around the country, this is by no means just a populist concern; it is broader even than just a conservative concern. Lots of people are worried about the stifling culture of intolerance and deplatforming on the Internet, on campus, and in the workplace. And they frequently frame those concerns in free-speech terms, and in a reaction against the biased and unfair standards applied by the cancelers. The classical-liberal argument is both popular and populist because it resonates with traditional American values and rhetoric. The actual disagreements between the populists and the classical liberals are in many cases much less than meets the eye.
12. Tom Cotton lays out the case for how the USA can best Red China. From the piece:
Next, we ought to sever China’s information pipeline for stolen intellectual property from American colleges and universities. China commits up to 80 percent of international intellectual-property theft and is the subject of nearly half of all FBI counterintelligence cases for economic espionage. Much of this malign activity occurs on American campuses and in American labs and research institutions. Yet in 2018–19, approximately 370,000 Chinese students were allowed to study in the United States — half of whom were enrolled in STEM courses. Chinese citizens still study at prestigious research institutions, American researchers participate in Chinese talent-recruitment programs, and CCP-aligned firms bankroll colleges, universities, and professors. This open access is unwise and ought to be restricted. The U.S. government should bar Chinese nationals from studying in STEM fields at the graduate or post-graduate level, prohibit Chinese funding of U.S. universities and research institutions, and end America’s satellite university system in China. This will minimize further theft and end the ridiculous and dangerous practice of welcoming Chinese military researchers into our nation’s most advanced laboratories.
We must also terminate our reliance on China for essential supplies such as rare-earth elements, pharmaceuticals, and personal-protective equipment (PPE). China supplies 80 percent of America’s rare-earth imports — which are essential for high-tech manufacturing — and processes 85 percent of the world’s supply of rare-earth elements. China has used its leverage on rare-earth elements to extort concessions out of Japan and is now looking to curb rare-earth exports required for U.S. manufacturing of the F-35. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, China placed similar export curbs on pharmaceutical products and PPE. This strategic weakness must be quickly eliminated, and the production of essential products ought to be re-shored through Buy American requirements, tax incentives, and large-scale stockpiling.
13. The Fantastic Four seems preferable to “The Quad,” but whatever it’s labeled, the four powers confronting Red China need to concentrate on their teamwork, opine Seth Cropsy and Harry Halem. From the piece:
Even more striking at the partisan level has been the variation in commitment to “anti-war” causes. Democratic support for the anti-war movement virtually evaporated in 2009 despite, lest we forget, multiple attempts to impeach Mr. Bush over his conduct of the Iraq War. Republicans are equally guilty: Challenges to the constitutionality of Mr. Obama’s military actions in Syria and Iraq vanished on January 20, 2017. If Mr. Biden’s recent Syria strike demonstrates anything, it is that politics has remained remarkably normal. Apart from fringe progressives — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her vanguard cohort — there will be no opposition from Democrats to executive military action.
It is, however, encouraging to identify an emerging continuity between Mr. Biden and his predecessor. The Biden administration seems committed to maintaining “the Quad” — the Asian security forum that includes the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India. The Quad stemmed from efforts to coordinate relief after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Although a formal security relationship seemed imminent in 2007, American, Indian, and Australian policy shifts buried the idea for nearly a decade. The Trump administration resurrected the Quad in November 2017 through ASEAN, building off America’s joint naval exercises with the three potential members. The Quad’s high point came in October 2020, when its four members participated in Exercise MALABAR, traditionally a bilateral Indo-American affair.
Moreover, other American allies have begun to recognize the link between the Indo-Pacific balance and their own interests. In February, France deployed a nuclear-powered attack submarine to the South China Sea, and it plans to deploy an amphibious assault ship and frigate in preparation for U.S.-Japanese military exercises in May. Germany will deploy a frigate to the Indo-Pacific this fall. The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group will deploy to the Indo-Pacific this year, marking the first British capital-ship deployment east of the Suez in a generation.
Mr. Biden has shown little interest in confronting China in his first weeks in office, but he has signaled his willingness to maintain the Quad. Moreover, talk exists of expanding the Quad by incorporating South Korea as a “Quad Plus” member.
14. Jimmy Quinn reports on former SoS Mike Pompeo’s warning that we should be prepared for Red China detaining Olympians who criticize the Commie rats. From the piece:
A number of prominent U.S. politicians and human-rights advocates have criticized the decision to host the games in Beijing, given the CCP’s brutal campaign against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang. At a rally in front of the White House yesterday organized by a number of Uyghur and Tibetan groups, Tursunay Ziawudun, whose experience of rape in the Uyghur camps was documented recently by the BBC, said, “I cannot believe this genocidal country is hosting the Olympic Games in 2022.”
In January, Pompeo, while still secretary of state, issued a formal determination that such a crime is taking place: “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
Pompeo said Thursday that he worked with the International Olympic Committee to “deliver them a set of facts that unmistakably demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party ought not to be rewarded with the noble efforts that Olympians undertake.”
“The IOC has a moral responsibility to the world to say we’re simply not going to permit a set of leaders to behave in this way to destroy an entire group of people,” he continued.
The International Olympic Committee, however, under the leadership of its president Thomas Bach, has been unwavering in its determination to ensure the games take place in Beijing. On Friday, the committee once again rejected calls to move the 2022 games, saying that it is not a “super world government,” though Bach also claimed that the committee is monitoring the human-rights situation in China closely.
15. Charlie Cooke smacks down a Bill Maher-monologue filled with ChiCom Envy. From the piece:
Maher’s first mistake is to compare what is expected from a single Communist government with what is expected from 51 democratic governments that, by design, expect most innovation to come from the market. In America, the federal government does not — and should not — “build cities,” and nor does it “create” the middle class. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. We are different from China because we want to be different — and we are supposed to be different — from China.
That difference has unavoidable consequences. Maher draws a distinction between “authoritarian government” and “representative government,” but then he describes political differences at the national level as “squabbling tribes,” as if the democratic process playing out in a divided country is a problem to be solved. It’s not. Indeed, it’s unavoidable if, like Maher, you don’t want a government that breaks promises, puts people in camps, and punishes dissent. With apologies to Tom Friedman, there is simply no way of being “China for a day” without accepting all of the other stuff that we don’t want. China, I’m afraid, is a package deal.
This aside, it is simply not true that we “never do anything” in America. As a people, we are far, far more innovative than China, which is why they are so determined to steal or copy our stuff. Hell, as I write these words, we’re watching this country innovate its way out of a global crisis — just as it always, always manages to do. Do we think that just happened?
16. Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes report on how Red China cracked down and crushed democracy in Hong Kong. From the piece:
Xi Jinping’s motives behind the idea of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” are obvious. He and other CCP leaders believe that Hong Kong authorities have been overly tolerant of the democratic opposition for the past 20 years, giving Hong Kongers the impression they could arm-wrestle with the central government, which they imagine would not dare to turn the tables on them because of the interests of the so-called foreign powers in Hong Kong. The central government had been trying to make Hong Kong a positive example of “one country, two systems” to appeal to Taiwan.
But while the model found no acceptance in Taiwan, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen used it to make waves in Hong Kong itself. Since Taiwan has made it clear that peaceful reunification is not possible, the role of Hong Kong as a model has become meaningless, and the Chinese central government has begun to gradually clean up the problems left behind by policy blunders when reformulating a new program for Taiwan. With a new American administration showing little inclination to soften the stiffer stance toward China established by President Trump, the relationship between China and the United States has deteriorated to the worst level since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. So patience has lost its rationale.
Given this, it’s not surprising that the U.S. has condemned the CPP’s changes to Hong Kong’s internal governance. But other Western governments have joined the U.S. in its condemnations. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken tweeted that the changes “run counter to PRC international commitments,” and that “we stand with allies and partners speaking out for the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong.” In a review of political conditions in Hong Kong, the European Union described an ”alarming political deterioration” and a “severe erosion of autonomy, democracy, and fundamental freedoms,” promising undisclosed “further steps” in response. The Group of Seven (G7) nations expressed “grave concerns” about the plan, predicting boldly that it would “stifle political pluralism.” A statement from the foreign secretary’s office said that the United Kingdom would now consider China to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was supposed to guarantee Hong’s Kong’s autonomy and rule of law until 2047. “China must act in accordance with its legal obligations and respect fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab said. But Beijing simply shrugged off this command, saying that Hong Kong’s electoral system was China’s internal affair.
17. Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz make the case for Biden to not revisit the Iran Deal. Of course, they admit — he likely will anyway. From the beginning of the piece:
Although President Biden has demanded that Iran reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action before it receives economic relief, he will probably soon start green-lighting billions of dollars in assistance and lifting sanctions. Tehran will undoubtedly remain in violation of the atomic accord and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory. Biden will do so for the same reason that Barack Obama repeatedly gave ground in negotiations with the Islamic Republic: fear of risking war or publicly conceding a nuke to the clerical regime. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who has an autarkist streak and despises the United States, has been ratcheting up the pressure.
Tehran has increased the quantity and quality of its enriched uranium and started to construct and deploy advanced centrifuges faster than what the JCPOA allowed. The clerical regime is also preventing the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency from accessing Iran’s nuclear facilities, which is in violation of the NPT. And for the fourth time under the Biden administration, an Iran-guided Shiite militia has rocketed an American base in Iraq. The president responded to one of the attacks with a limited strike in Syria.
Khamenei has been point-blank — more so than he often is when he wants to give himself wiggle room: “We have no sense of urgency, we are in no rush to see the United States return to the JCPOA; this has never been a concern for us. . . . What is our entirely reasonable demand is the lifting of sanctions; this is the usurped right of the Iranian nation.”
Although senior officials in the administration are loath to say this publicly, they need the credible threat of U.S. military power and the pain of sanctions to drive the supreme leader back into negotiations. As punishing as sanctions had been for two and a half years under Donald Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign, they did not crack the fortitude and faith of Iran’s ruling elite.
18. How goes the recall of Gavin Newsom, and the Janus-induced cash-crunch future of California’s Big Labor is a tale told by fool, but quite possibly with accuracy. Like the stopped clock, twice daily. From the article:
All this and more has led the California Policy Center and similar pro-freedom state groups to devise and implement a battle plan — replicated by conservatives in other states — that defends workers’ First Amendment rights and produces a de facto result of drying up the cash sea that Big Government Labor unions took for granted and depended upon.
The results are remarkable. So are the consequences.
When Janus was issued in 2018, California had approximately 1.5 million government-union members. In the intervening three years, largely through efforts of CPC and other groups, the membership number has dropped by 18 percent. That’s roughly 270,000 people. The dollar significance — many fewer dues payments are coming in — amounts to roughly $200 million less annually in Big Labor’s coffers.
CPC’s five-year goal is to see that government-union membership drop by an additional 180,000, which would mean an overall post-Janus cut of 30 percent. In two-year election-cycle terms, this means that government unions could have $720 million less to spend on behalf of left-wing candidates, referenda, and causes.
Swaim (who co-hosts NR’s popular weekly Radio Free California podcast with David Bahnsen) says it is the ground-game efforts — an amalgam of digital engagements, website sessions, phone calls, text messages, and personal meetings — that have achieved this.
19. Sarah Schutte sings the praises of children’s author Hilda Van Stockum. From the article:
Four years after A Day on Skates, Van Stockum published the first of her Bantry Bay series. Set in Ireland, the trilogy chronicles the doings of the lively O’Sullivan family: Father and Mother, Michael, Brigid, and the twins, Francie and Liam. Growing up, book two of this trilogy (Francie on the Run) was my personal favorite, and its vignettes and adventures have stayed with me for years. (The story of Teig Mulligan, recounted close to the end of the book, has particularly tickled my fancy, and what an amusing audio drama it would make!) These books, like the Mitchell series, strove to exemplify wholesome family life and capture the sweetness, small woes, and sacrifices that go into creating and maintaining a home, no matter where.
Van Stockum’s writing career spanned four decades, and her lighter (though not trivial) books eventually made way for stories of a more serious tone. The Winged Watchman, for example, is set in Occupied Holland as seen through the eyes of two brothers, ages eleven and 14. Despite dealing with the heavier subjects that come with writing about World War II, Van Stockum’s depictions of dark themes never become gratuitous. Evil is real. Terrible events occurred during that era, and the images painted by Van Stockum’s pen made a lasting impression on my young mind during that first reading. But here, as in her other stories, the love of family and light of faith shine through the oppressive darkness, giving readers young and old strong portraits of courage, love of country, and selflessness.
1. Kevin Hassett and Matthew Jensen calculate the cost to you of the COVID stimulus. From the beginning of the piece:
With all the trillion-dollar numbers spinning about government policy these days, it’s easy to lose perspective on the scale of recent federal spending. We decided to put the past year’s policy into perspective by calculating the future tax hike that would be necessary to pay the bills rung up since January, 2020. What the average American owes for the stimulus will shock you.
The exercise is not farfetched. Rumors spread throughout Washington last week that the Biden administration is considering tax hikes to pay for COVID-19 relief enacted this year and last. To some extent, it is amazing that the U.S. experienced a 32 percent drop in GDP in the second quarter of last year and did not dive into a depression, and some credit is surely due to those who crafted stimulus bills. On the other hand, the five bills passed to provide relief, once one subtracts out loans that will be repaid, together added $5.3 trillion to the debt that you, dear reader, will have to pay back someday. Think of COVID-19 relief as a new car payment, of course without any delivery of four wheels, an engine, or a chassis. When you see the numbers, you will realize that the comparison is not an exaggeration.
This is not an academic exercise. The thing about debt is that it eventually has to be paid. There is no such thing, annoying economists like us tend to remind too often, as a free lunch. Even if the debt is rolled over ad infinitum, the lunch is not free because taxpayers have to pay higher interest each year to cover the additional borrowing, which crowds out other government services. Milton Friedman famously argued against aggressive stimulus because, he said, taxpayers would look ahead to their future tax hikes and save today to prepare themselves for the worst. Whatever the government tries to do will be futile.
2. Jimmy Quinn unpacks how Red China’s bucks played a key role in crushing Hong Kong’s freedom protests. From the beginning of the piece:
When we think of Beijing’s drive to crush Hong Kong’s nascent democracy, what comes to mind are images of mass demonstrations and of pro-democracy icons rounded up, imprisoned, and brought before judges to face sham trials under the National Security Law (NSL) forced upon the city by the Chinese Communist Party last May.
It is natural for China’s crackdown on Hong Kong to get most of the ink, especially given that it continues apace even today: In addition to a recent move to charge 47 pro-democracy figures under the law, the National People’s Congress last week restricted candidacy for the city’s Legislative Council elections to “Patriots Only,” the final nail in the coffin of Hong Kong’s hopes for democratic government.
But earlier this month, the nonprofit Hong Kong Watch released an extensive report on another, less-noticed aspect of Beijing’s repression: the ways in which a gradual influx of “red capital” helped to bring the city’s democrats to their knees.
3. Brian Yablonski analyzes the Biden Administration’s conservation goals and says it is private lands that will provide a solution. From the beginning of the piece:
One of the first tasks facing the soon-to-be confirmed Interior secretary Deb Haaland will be to carry out a few short paragraphs of an order signed by President Joe Biden in January: to conserve 30 percent of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030. Understated in its rollout, “30 by 30” ought to be seen as President Biden’s conservation moonshot.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, only 12 percent of the land in America qualifies as “protected,” including wilderness areas, national parks and monuments, and private lands under conservation easements. To achieve an additional 18 percent, we would need to conserve an extra 440 million acres — an area more than four times the size of California.
There will be a push to use old, divisive tools on public lands to score easy gains, such as designating new monuments or banning fossil-fuel development. But conserving land does not necessarily require a heavy hand from the federal government. The administration should use this moment to explore newer, more-creative market-based solutions. Indeed, whatever its instincts to the contrary, this would be its best chance of success.
Whether President Biden’s moonshot lifts off or turns out to be a damp squib will hinge largely on how the administration engages private landowners. With 900 million acres of farm and ranch lands in America, and another 445 million acres of privately owned forests, these lands are where the greatest gains will be won or lost.
4. Steve Hanke and Robert J. Simon argue that cryptocurrency boards are better bets than Bitcoin. From the article:
Putting aside Bitcoin’s meteoric ascent in price, which has been punctuated by dramatic booms and busts, it is important to note that its designation as a “cryptocurrency” is a misnomer. A currency is characterized by four fundamental features. To qualify, it must be unit of account, must be a standard for deferred payment, must be a store of value, and must serve as a medium of exchange.
Just how does Bitcoin stack up when it comes to these currency criteria? Bitcoin’s volatility turns out to be its Achilles’ heel. In 2020, Bitcoin’s annualized daily volatility was an astonishing 67 percent. If we look at the most important price in the world, the USD–euro exchange rate, and the world’s international currency, the U.S. dollar, the dollar’s annualized daily volatility in 2020 was only 7.8 percent. Since Bitcoin’s source code predetermines that Bitcoin’s supply will ultimately be fixed and totally inelastic, all market adjustments can take place only via price changes, not quantity changes. As a result, it is destined to be inherently subject to extreme price volatility. This means that Bitcoin will never serve as a reliable unit of account. You will rarely see items with Bitcoin price tags attached. You will also never see deferred contracts (contracts under which payment is made under a long-term credit arrangement) written in Bitcoin. Can you imagine someone writing a mortgage contract denominated in Bitcoin?
Bitcoin’s volatility also renders it unattractive for most corporations to hold in lieu of cash reserves. Indeed, Bitcoin, which is considered an intangible (something, incidentally, that brings inconsistent and opaque accounting treatment in its wake), throws considerable risk on to balance sheets. In short, it is not a reliable store of value. It’s no surprise, therefore, that most corporations are unwilling to take on the risks associated with holding Bitcoin on their balance sheets. A recent survey found that roughly 5 percent of finance executives said that “they planned to hold bitcoin as a corporate asset in 2021” and “84 percent of respondents said they did not plan to ever hold bitcoin as a corporate asset,” citing volatility as their foremost concern.
Lights. Camera. Review!
1. Armond White digs Zack Snyder’s Justice League. From the beginning of the review:
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (that’s the complete title) differs significantly from the 2017 film Justice League, a project Snyder began that was mutilated when Warner Brothers assigned Joss Whedon to rework it. Through the confluence of venal corporate interference, a rare instance of public outcry about the movie business (the online demand #ReleaseTheSnyderCut), and the opportunity to jump-start the new streaming service HBO Max, Snyder got carte blanche to complete his vision, to make things right.
Snyder takes the idea of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) uniting with three more superheroes, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Victor Stone), following Superman’s death at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), as a metaphor for spiritual endeavor. In Snyder’s mythic distillation of moral combat, this league of superheroes fights an evil threat from another dimension, the horned villain Steppenwolf and his even more rough-hewn master Darkside (they promise, “Down with the modern world. Back to the Dark Ages”).
ZSJL shows the superheroes’ dynamic, physicalized anxieties that, in the grand scheme, are sometimes confusedly political but go back to primordial conditions and foundational myths. The opening scenes linking different eras and characters in parallel situations and life instances are fantastically designed and with the most emotionally intense facial portraits since Joseph von Sternberg. This is a modern epic about worry and longing.
2. If you think the Academy Awards no longer matter, you’d get Kyle Smith’s vote. From the article:
As recently as 2009, when The Dark Knight failed to get a Best Picture nomination despite its obvious excellence and cultural impact, appealing to a broad audience was a central concern of AMPAS, which expanded the category to as many as ten nominees the following year, hoping that some blockbusters would wind up in competition for the top prize each year. That did, initially, happen — Avatar was among the nominees in 2010 — but in 2015 AMPAS (a group of proud gentry liberals) became petrified of social-media hashtags making spurious accusations of racism. It then undertook to change the taste of its voting body. Instead of membership being offered only to the most accomplished veterans — which yielded slates of nominees that balanced artistic achievement with traditional Hollywood concerns such as star power and audience engagement — AMPAS implemented a vigorous affirmative-action program.
The voting body is today much more diverse and much younger than it was in 2009, but its tastes are so out of the mainstream that the Oscars are today a sort of West Coast version of the Independent Spirit Awards, giving all of its attention to art-house offerings. The average American looks at this year’s list of obscure Best Picture nominees — Mank? Nomadland? Promising Young Woman? Judas and the Black Messiah? The Father? Minari? Sound of Metal? The Trial of the Chicago 7? — and thinks: I have no interest in any of these titles. All of them are downers, most of them push an overt political agenda, and none of them puts a beloved movie star front and center except The Father (in which Anthony Hopkins plays a man being destroyed by dementia). There is no glamour or Hollywood magic attached to any of them. All of them are essentially TV movies (though all of them had pro forma theatrical runs). Most of them are more interested in wrestling with intractable social problems (which, being intractable, tend to frustrate audiences) than in entertainment.
3. More Armond, who seconds the motion, and sees Hamilton outdueled: From the piece:
In the past, film adaptations of such Broadway hits as West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof, even the cynical Cabaret, once united our cultural identity, and, as a result, all were Oscar-nominated. The Academy’s rebuff of Hamilton has revealed that the show’s cultural status was not insuperable; it was always simply a means of progressives’ self-intoxication. It entertained no one outside of Broadway and editorial-page writers.
That Hamilton’s Tony Award–winning co-star Leslie Odom Jr. got an Oscar nomination for a different film (impersonating Sam Cooke in the miserable One Night in Miami) certifies that Hamilton lacked real star power (creator Lin-Manuel Miranda sucked up all the publicity, yet his whiney-voiced characterization left viewers cold). In Disney’s streaming version, Odom gave the show’s emotional void no more than the superficialities of black belligerence — acting the role of Aaron Burr as if to showcase Dixiecrat black villainy, a black Judas to Miranda’s Latin messiah.
And yet, none of the Academy’s eight Best Picture nominees rival the “legendary” impression that Hamilton made. Each soon-to-be forgotten film offers a passive-aggressive reorganization of American principles into sentimental sermons about class, race and sex, as if progressives have finally convinced everyone to think alike, but without joy, satisfaction, or social harmony in return — just self-righteousness and misery, well symbolized by Frances McDormand’s grim visage in Nomadland. Not a single film is uplifting; but neither was Hamilton, which surely is the reason it flopped. This year’s Oscar nominees all flop. They’re anti-populist non-entertainments.
From the April 5, 2021 Issue of National Review, a Quartet of Quality and Wisdom
As is our custom, from the new issue — all of the content being superior — we pick four pieces (ok, maybe we will add a bonus) for your curiosity and consideration.
1. The trio of Nicholas Eberstadt, Derek Scissors, and Evan Abramsky gauge America’s petroleum independence, its virtues, and its threat from Team Biden. From the cover story:
Although it has gone strangely unheralded so far, the United States just marked an energy milestone of great historical and strategic significance. In 2020, according to official figures, the U.S. exported more oil and petroleum products than it imported. This is the first time in generations that America has attained such qualified, but nonetheless meaningful, “independence from foreign oil.” It would have been considered impossible barely 15 years ago, when imports peaked. The transformation has greatly benefited the American economy and enabled much more foreign-policy flexibility. It is also a powerful asset for the U.S. in its competition with China.
The Biden administration should be mindful of the economic and strategic advantages that America enjoys from its new energy profile. As Team Biden charts its policy on climate change, it should be careful not to sacrifice these gains in a headlong rush toward an ambitious green agenda.
The data documenting America’s new status as a net petroleum exporter come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Department of Energy’s statistical office, which reports a U.S. surplus of about 600,000 barrels per day for 2020 in international petroleum trade. Separately, trade statistics from Comtrade, the U.N.’s authoritative international-merchandise database, show the U.S. generated a trade surplus from petroleum of about $19 billion last year.
America had not experienced a surplus from petroleum trade in a very long time. The EIA was established in 1949 and at no previous point in its history did its annual estimates for overall U.S. exports of petroleum — i.e., crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and other petroleum products — ever surpass imports. According to EIA numbers, America had run an uninterrupted petroleum deficit for at least seven straight decades, from 1949 through 2019.
Earlier energy statistics for the U.S. are spottier and not wholly comparable to the EIA’s numbers, which track total physical volume. Historical U.S. trade data on petroleum, which extend back to 1882, are instead given in dollars. The EIA keeps annual physical data back to 1920 on the U.S. trade in crude oil, but crude is only one component of the petroleum business (most recently accounting for just over a third of U.S. petroleum exports in 2020). In 1943, at the height of World War II, the U.S. exported more crude than it imported, but that was the country’s last trade surplus in crude. We have to go back to the Great Depression (1933– 39) to find a peacetime period when America registered both a physical surplus in oil trade and a dollar surplus in petroleum trade — and we have to go back more than a century if we are looking for both of these in a “normal” peacetime year. Our modest 2020 petroleum trade surplus, in other words, is not completely unprecedented. Nevertheless, America’s petroleum profile in 2020 marks a symbolic departure from a much more dependent past — one with implications for the future that should not go underestimated.
2. David Pryce Jones reviews Ray Takeyh’s The Last Shah. From the review:
Sentenced to three years in prison for treason, he spent the rest of his life in house arrest in the countryside. In the era of Nasser and Sukarno, Mossadeq became a nationalist hero. To give just one example of this disguised anti-Americanism, Stephen Kinzer (of the New York Times) wrote All the Shah’s Men, an account of the nationalization of Iranian oil, in which he bowed to Mossadeq as a titan, a towering figure, “one of history’s most gifted visionaries.”
The worst that can be said of the shah is that his drive to industrialize didn’t fit the society. A Western model was disrupting the settled order. “It was a dynamic country that few wanted to live in” is Takeyh’s neat aphorism. The book the shah published celebrating his so-called White Revolution, a series of reforms aimed at modernization, was an unrealistic fantasy. Takeyh attributes to him a “typical mixture of arrogance and self-pity.” There were a number of capable politicians who could have headed off the revolution, but the shah would not appoint them for fear that they might seize power. He preferred sycophants. A celebration of the 2,500-year anniversary of the Achaemenid Empire was held in ancient Persepolis and cost between $200 and $300 million. The watching world thought of him as a superannuated playboy. His private life is almost never referred to by Takeyh, so it comes as a surprise that in his palace “he stewed more than he schemed and passed the time with card games and detective novels. He slept with a pistol and frequently changed bedrooms. His wife worried that he might suffer a nervous breakdown.” Missing from this account is some comment on the Pahlavi Foundation, often said to consist of a very large sum of ill-gotten gains.
Ayatollah Khomeini appeared from nowhere. He denounced the shah in this style: “You wretched, miserable man, 45 years of your life have passed. Isn’t it time for you to think and reflect a little, to ponder where all this is leading you, to learn a lesson from the experience of your father?” Left-wing intellectuals, students, women denied their rights, the educated, and the illiterate were a coalition of the discontented. In 1963, Khomeini was arrested and exiled to Turkey and then to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, where he was to spend 13 years, followed by some final weeks in France. Assassination would have brought revolution to a stop; there was no known plan for it. Khomeini specialized in sending cassettes to Iran, promising to bring human rights and democracy to the people, many of whom he was shortly to murder as corrupters of the earth.
3. Ramesh Ponnuru analyzes the GOP’s new demographic future. From the article:
At the same time, Republicans have been declaring a new self-understanding. On Election Night, Hawley tweeted, “We are a working class party now.” A few days later, Rubio was only a little more cautious: “The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working-class coalition.” Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) has joined the chorus. The GOP, he said, “is no longer the ‘wine and cheese’ party. It’s the beer and blue jeans party.”
Just what it means to be a working-class party, though — on that there is less clarity and less agreement. Most Republicans haven’t endorsed any legislation to raise the minimum wage or to create a wage subsidy or a child allowance. Rubio criticized Romney’s plan for sending “welfare assistance” to low-income parents.
One reason that consensus on a policy agenda for the working class may be elusive is that the definition of the group itself is ambiguous. Look at the relationship between voting behavior and income, and the notion that the Republicans are becoming a working-class party looks illusory. AP Votecast found that about 40 percent of the 2020 electorate belonged to households making less than $50,000 a year, and Joe Biden got a majority of their votes. Trump did best among voters making between $50,000 and $100,000. One could reasonably consider those voters in the core of the middle class. The Census reports that in 2019, median income was $69,000: Half of households made more, and half less.
Income used to correlate with political behavior much more strongly. In 2000, George W. Bush did 17 points better among the highest-earning households than among the lowest-earning ones. In 2020, the difference for Trump was only five points.
These days, when people talk about how the working class votes, they are generally referring to levels of schooling rather than of income. As recently as 2012, college graduates were a bit more likely to vote Republican than everyone else. In 2020, those with college degrees were significantly more likely than others to vote Democratic. (That excludes voters with postgraduate degrees, who have long given a majority of their votes to Democrats.) This education-based realignment has occurred throughout the developed world and has taken the same basic form, with voters who have college degrees to the left of those without.
4. Madeleine Kearns crowns Meghan and Harry, royal pains. From the piece:
Perhaps at this point I am at risk of losing my American readers. Why should you care about any of this, given that you fought a war over 200 years ago to be free of monarchist concerns forevermore? I sympathize. (I am Scottish, after all.) Still, an appalling celebrity culture, a culture of narcissism, is being mainstreamed and celebrated — and with astonishingly little opposition because it is cloaked in wokeness.
Markle’s version of events begins like every princess book, with a wide-eyed and innocent heroine who was good-natured and trusting and had simply no idea what she was getting herself into. Within the first five minutes of her interview, she made a reference to Princess Diana (her husband’s mom), whom we, the audience, are presumably supposed to consider her kindred spirit, a previous shooting star with the same Markle sparkle. (All nonsense, of course.)
Then, after this contrived setup, the interview reached its first emotional plot twist — the moment “when everything changed,” Markle tells us. This was when she endured heartache and torment when the royal family were unwilling to make a public statement in her defense after British tabloids reported that Markle had made Kate Middleton cry over the bridesmaids’ dresses at Markle’s wedding, when in fact “the reverse happened” — Kate had made Markle cry (the ultimate proof of being in the right, as every little girl can attest). Markle reveals that Kate even sent flowers and a note taking “accountability” for her actions. “I would never have wanted that to come out about her,” Markle says of her famously discreet sister-in-law. “I protected that from ever being out in the world,” she tells Oprah’s audience of millions.
Why does this soon-to-be 40-year-old millionaire mother think we should care about which grown woman made which grown woman cry over an item of clothing? Something to do with the sisterhood, I think: “If you love me, you don’t have to hate [Middleton],” Markle says. “And if you love her, you don’t need to hate me.” Of course, what Markle doesn’t realize is that most of us neither love nor hate either of them. We have our own lives, with people in them
BONUS: John J. Miller goes back a near century to recall Charles Curtis, the Veep who knew a thing or two about races, political and mixed. From the piece:
In 1884, Curtis won election as county prosecutor, the first step in his long rise. When he ran for Congress in 1892, Demo crats suggested that his Indian ancestry rendered him unfit for office, but voters elected him anyway in what was elsewhere a lousy year for GOP candidates. He served on the House Committee on Indian Affairs and drafted a law that came to be known as the Curtis Act, which sought to weaken tribal loyalties and encourage Indians to assimilate into white society — a stance that makes Curtis controversial in some Indian circles today. He aspired to the Senate and finally was elected to it in 1907. Over the next two decades, he rose in its Republican ranks, becoming Senate majority leader in 1924 and remaining in the post until his vice presidency.
Party leaders tend to focus on the passage of legislation rather than the writing of it, and Curtis fits the mold: “The historian studying our times, going over the history of legislation for 30 years, will not find Curtis’s name attached to any measure of first importance,” wrote White in 1925. Even so, Curtis was the man who first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to the Senate, in 1923. It went on to become a major cause of feminists in the 1970s. Today it remains a project of progressives, who see its possible revival as a route to equal-pay mandates and guaranteed abortion rights. Curtis probably would not recognize the thing it has become, but he was present at the ERA’s conception.
The most impressive feat of Curtis may involve his constituent relations. He was famous for remembering the names of voters, and he tried to stay in close contact with as many as possible. His half-sister Dorothy described how she helped him keep “books filled with the names of Kansas voters, the citizens of every county and town” and “a short biography of each voter, with his achievements, sometimes with a description of his personality.” One anecdote describes letters poured into the Curtis office in a 24-hour period, and how Curtis and a throng of secretaries mailed replies to each correspondent by the following day. “Charley Curtis would have been a hell of a Rotary Club member,” says R. David Edmunds, a retired history professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. At The College Fix, Tyler Hummel reports on more academic lunacy about pigmentation — the latest is to attack “white woundedness.” From the article:
Berea College hosted an online webinar Wednesday to discuss the concept of white citizenship as terrorism. It was led by Professor Amy Brandzel, author of “Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative.”
The one-hour lecture, while held March 17, made national headlines last week because of its provocative title: “White Citizenship as Terrorism: Make America Great Again, Again.”
A flier for the event stated “if terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to create a state of fear towards particular communities and identities, then this is what ‘Trumpism’ is at its core.”
Brandzel is an assistant professor of American Studies and Women Studies at the University of New Mexico. Brandzel’s online bio states the scholar “works across the connections and contradictions within feminist, GLBT/queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories on identity, citizenship, law, history, and knowledge production.”
The lecture began with a land acknowledgment, wherein Brandzel admits to being a “white settler who lives on unseated Pueblo, Navajo and Apache Land.”
2. At Gatestone Institute, Peter Schweizer discusses China’s use of AI in its military-power plans. From the beginning of the article:
China’s military buildup threatens its neighbors and regional stability in the Far East. Beijing’s aggressive military expansion has made its navy the largest in the world, and it has been flexing its maritime muscle in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region. It continues to build its ballistic missile capacities as well.
Further, China’s expertise in cyber-warfare is both well-established and feared. It has allowed the PRC to hack into computers and steal intellectual property, as well as other cyber crimes.
But the junction of China’s growing cyber capabilities and its aggressive military buildup is in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to military weapons and systems.
Conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s strategy in military expansion moves on many fronts, and AI work is integral to all of its military goals. The PLA has been committed to prioritizing innovation over expansion in its modernization efforts at least since 2014.
The PLA believes it can leapfrog the U.S. in the course of this transformation. China, however, has many challenges to developing and deploying AI-based systems that the U.S. does not. They lack the kind of technical talent the U.S. has, as well as the skill to manage the enormous quantities of data that such systems rely on, both for development and for operations. Not surprisingly, their organization, too, is a hindrance to innovation in the military AI space.
3. At The Catholic Thing, old NR colleague Brad Miner considers what it means to be a “practicing Catholic” (in the new era of Biden Catholicism). From the article:
That we even have the term “practicing Catholic” is revealing. Despite living in New York for the last forty-four years, I don’t think I have ever heard any Jewish friend be called a “practicing Jew,” although more often Jews here are referred to by more specific adjectives: Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, liberal, Reform, secular. Most often, Jews who attend Sabbath services are “observant,” although I suspect that term may seem odd to the Haredi.
Anyhow, observant may be analogous to practicing.
But I also can’t recall ever hearing anybody describe themselves as a practicing Methodist or Presbyterian or Episcopalian or Lutheran, but, obviously, I haven’t been everywhere or spoken to everybody, so I haven’t heard everything. Still, I haven’t heard that.
To the extent that this is true, it’s because we Catholics know only too well that a whole lot of people who call themselves “Catholic” have very little knowledge of the faith and put very little of what they do know into use. They favor “a woman’s right to choose” and abortion, and they disfavor getting up on a Sunday morning and going to Mass. You could say they’re “out of practice,” the way I am with French and the drums, which were old passions allowed to cool.
As we know, every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation, and dwindling attendance at Mass on the Lord’s Day is all you need to know about who’s “practicing” or who’s not. And if you go on any Holy Day of Obligation when it falls on a weekday, you know one of two things: either many “Catholics” don’t grasp the meaning of the word “obligation” or they don’t care.
Some of this may be the (sometimes) admirable American belief that nobody tells us what to do. In this case, of course, it’s abominable.
4. At Law & Liberty, Mark Pulliam questions the constitutionality of abortion. From the essay:
But what if everyone was wrong about the premise of the debate?
What if the Reconstruction Era Fourteenth Amendment, instead of protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, protected the unborn child’s right to life? What if the 39th Congress intended to include the unborn as “persons” under the Due Process Clause? So argues Professor John Finnis of Notre Dame’s law school in a provocative article in the April 2021 issue of First Things. Finnis acknowledges that the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, drafted in 1866 and ratified in 1868, is silent on the subject of abortion, as is the drafting history and congressional debates on the measure. He nevertheless contends that the intent to protect the unborn is evident in the reliance of proponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (the provisions of which the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to uphold) on William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765).
Blackstone assigned the beginning of life (and thus legal protection) to the unborn upon quickening. At least “by the dawn of the nineteenth century,” Finnis argues, abortion was prohibited under English law from the time of conception. Therefore, if the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to confer on the newly-freed slaves (and others) the rights of Englishmen (as Finnis contends, quoting James F. Wilson, the sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 1866), the term “any person” in the Due Process Clause includes the unborn. Ergo, abortion deprives the unborn of life without due process of law, and is therefore unconstitutional. In other words, states would be constitutionally forbidden to permit abortion.
Finnis closely explores the reasoning of Roe and delves into the common law background of the concept of “quickening” in America during the 19th century. Finnis is a world class philosopher, and his philosophical arguments are compelling. But wait a minute. The article is about constitutional law, not moral philosophy.
Even if Finnis is correct about the derivation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the meaning and significance of Blackstone’s Commentaries — even if, contra Roe, unborn children are “persons” entitled to due process — does that mean, as the title of Finnis’ article suggests, that “Abortion is Unconstitutional”? Not necessarily. Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment reads, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Where is the state action?
5. At The Spectator, Bruno Maçães believes the forthcoming post-COVID era will provide a technological explosion. From the piece:
Take transportation and energy: the demand for driverless cars and delivery vans boomed last year because people were fearful of getting infected. In response companies quickly scaled up their plans. Last October, for example, Waymo announced the launch of a taxi service that is fully driverless. Walmart announced in December its plans to use fully autonomous box trucks to make deliveries in Arkansas later this year. As retail goes online as a result of the pandemic, massive delivery volumes are now placing greater pressure on others to follow suit.
Meanwhile the aviation and space sectors are also getting creative. Supersonic air travel may return, 20 years after the retirement of Concorde. Boom Supersonic, a startup, will test the XB-1 this year as a prelude to a larger aircraft capable of carrying up to 90 passengers at twice the speed of sound. Airbus has given itself five years to develop a commercially viable aircraft that runs on hydrogen, a Herculean task that could revolutionize the whole aviation industry. SpaceX could be working on a human mission to Mars by the end of the decade.
Two researchers from Cambridge and Columbia have even suggested building a space elevator they call the Spaceline. This would involve extending a line, anchored on the moon, to deep within Earth’s gravity well. Its purpose? To have a cable allowing free movement from Earth to the Moon. Ideas once imagined as long-term projects are now treated as achievable aims. COVID could have accelerated development not only of greener vehicles and travel, but energy production itself. Scientists are now developing a compact (trash-can-sized) version of a nuclear fusion reactor, renewing hopes that the long-elusive goal of mimicking the way the sun produces energy might be achieved and eventually contribute to the fight against climate change.
6. At Commentary, Wilfred C. Reilly shows the good-news evidence of race in America. From the essay:
Yes, racism exists. However, there are significant caveats that merit discussion. First, many of the studies used to demonstrate the prevalence of contemporary bias are limited in scope. Devah Pager and her team looked only at hiring for non-affirmative-action entry-level jobs in the private sector, primarily with white-owned employers, in Milwaukee near the turn of the past century. While Pager, who died in 2018, was a skilled and ethical scholar, it would be hard for a critic from the right not to notice that this is probably the only sector of the modern job market in which a qualified upper-middle-class minority job applicant might find himself at a hiring disadvantage. It would be fascinating to see this study replicated in the context of public-sector jobs, or desirable experience-based union jobs, or diversity-forward positions. For that matter, fully 36 percent of U.S. businesses today are minority- or woman-owned. What does “racial hiring bias” look like for applicants to that sector?
Entering trickier ground, we may (discreetly) note that discrimination does not always reflect blind irrational bias. While I would still opt not to work with a business that had such a rule in place, common sense compels us to admit that there might be reasons other than “hatred” for a bar owner’s reluctance to usher a group of 100 male Hispanic soldiers into an entirely black or white night club packed full of drunks. At a more serious level, several scholars have speculated that reaction to stereotypically black names on resumés is as likely to reflect perceived affirmative-action effects or class bias as it is racism — and, indeed, one significant study finds no negative effect for middle-class black names. It is only a bit glib to say that, while “Sharkeshia Freeman” may well face discrimination in the professional job market, “Marcus Freeman” probably will not.
Finally, bias against a whole range of groups seems to be as prevalent as bias against “blacks” or “persons of color,” on those occasions when this is actually measured. The same Gallup polling project that turned up the 8 percent anti-black statistic also found that 7 percent of Americans would never vote for a Catholic candidate, 8 percent would never vote for a woman of any race, 9 percent would never vote for a Hispanic or a Jew, and fully 19 percent would never vote for a practicing Mormon.
These caveats aside, probably the best and broadest response to the fact that some racism exists in present-day America is this simple statement: “To be sure, but we’ve spent an incredible amount of blood and treasure to counteract it.” Although this is almost never said openly these days, the Civil War and the civil-rights movement are over, and the good guys won both. Back in 1954, the Brown v. Board decision brought an end to at least legal de jure segregation, with the government’s writ being enforced, often by armed might. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act made most forms of discrimination civilly if not criminally illegal. Pro-minority affirmative action has been the law of the land since the Philadelphia Plan in 1967. Such diversity-forward programs recently turned 53 years old — and it is rather remarkable how rarely this empirical fact is used as a rebuttal to claims of widespread “white privilege.”
7. At Quillette, Laurence Krauss hones in on the efforts of SJWs to politicize science communities and organizations. From the beginning of the piece:
Social justice activists have been arguing for some time that scientific societies and institutions need to address systemic sexism and racism in STEM disciplines. However, their rationale is often anything but scientific. For example, whenever percentages in faculty positions, test scores, or grant recipients in various disciplines do not match percentages of national average populations, racism or sexism is generally said to be the cause. This is in spite of the fact that no explicit examples of racism or sexism generally accompany the statistics. Correlation, after all, is not causation. Without some underlying mechanism or independent evidence to explain a correlation of observed outcomes with population statistics, inferring racism or sexism in academia as the cause is inappropriate.
One might have hoped for more rigor from the leadership of scientific societies and research institutions. Alas, this has not been the case. In the current climate, many have simply adopted popular rhetoric and the jargon of critical theory has begun to dominate communications by these institutions. Pandering and virtue signalling have begun to generate proactive initiatives by the highest levels of the scientific community, often replacing the focus on science itself. Here are a few examples from the past few weeks alone.
In December, the American Physical Society (APS), the largest society of physicists in the world, sent out a letter to its membership arguing that Trump’s Presidential Executive Order 13950 on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping was “in direct opposition to the core values of the American Physical Society.” The order therefore needed to be rescinded in order to “strengthen America’s scientific enterprise.” The order (since rescinded by Biden) quoted Martin Luther King, stating that in government-supported scientific institutions people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It argued that materials from places like Argonne National Laboratories that equate “color blindness” and “meritocracy” with “actions of bias,” or from Sandia National Laboratories which state that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” is a characteristic of “white male[s],” were inappropriate training materials for government-supported science institutions. It concluded that “it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce.”
The ball certainly became livelier in the late 1920s, and if the stinkeroo Philadelphia Phillies could have a team batting average of over .300 (okay, they did play in the bandbox known as the Baker Bowl), you’d need no more evidence. Although the 1929 squad was not so bad: Its 71-82 record was good enough for Fifth place, with a team .309 batting average, featuring four players (Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul, Don Hurst, and Pinky Whitney) knocking in over 100 runs. The Phillies scored 897 times that season.
Alas, their pitchers gave up 1,036 runs. The team ERA was 6.13.
June was a cruel month. There was one spell in which the Phillies went 3-19, with ten of those defeats witnessing opponents scoring in the double digits.
Could a team have ever had a worse home stand than Philadelphia had that month against the Giants? Making up for some early-season cancellations, New York came into the Baker Bowl for a six-game stint. They won every one of them — and scored a minimum of 11 runs in each victory.
The savagery started on a Wednesday, June 19th doubleheader. In the first game, the Giants took 11 innings to prevail, 15-14. The Phillies had the chance to break a 13-13 tie in the bottom of the 9th, with two on, but they were stranded. Mel Ott’s double in the 11th (he had six ribbies that day) proved the margin of victory. The second game offered no thrills for the 8,500 fans in the Baker Bowl: The Giants drubbed four Philly hurlers for 20 hits on their way to a 12-6 victory.
Thursday saw Carl Hubbell taking on the home team. How many were in attendance has been lost to history, but when Pinky Whitney made the final out, it was another W for the Giants: 17 hits were registered in an 11-6 win.
Friday’s game, before a measly 2,500 fans, was a near carbon-copy outcome, as the Giants smacked three Philadelphia pitchers for 14 hits and an 11-5 victory.
Saturday brought more of the same, and then more more of the same. The first game of a doubleheader (12,000 in attendance) proved a 12-6 New York win, and was nearly echoed in the second game, a 12-5 win that completed a six-game sweep for the Giants.
Overall the Giants had 95 hits, 14 of them home runs (Ott had 5) and pasted the Phillies for a .377 batting average. Six different Giant pitchers would claim victories.
Maybe the Phillies were glad to be heading out of town at the homestand’s conclusion — except for the fact they lost the next three games to the Boston Braves.
For patience, we pray, especially when confronted by the obtuse dude driving in the passing lane. Of thanks, given the breathtaking development and release of these vaccines. Of more thanks, for these blessings of Liberty that we continue to enjoy, despite the attacks on them. For that young dad for whom prayers have been sought prior — a year later, it is a miracle that he lives. Buoyed by the knowledge of our prayers, he still battles a variety of cancers, but remains convinced he will triumph, with your help. From your lips to God’s Ears: Oremus.
May He Who Hears All and Knows All Grant All Peace and Solace,
Jack Fowler, awaiting insults about the length of this missive, and promising to read through bitter tears those sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.