National Review

A Day of Infamy, A Week of Madness


Dear Weekend Jolter,

If you are reading this on Saturday, it is December 7, which by sad happenstance is the 78th anniversary of the dastardly attack on America at Pearl Harbor. Never forget, they say. So let us not forget. An idea: Watch and listen to President Roosevelt’s address the following day asking Congress for a declaration of war.

“But always,” said the President, midway through his speech, “will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.” Always. We do our part here, to honor those men, few and aged, who were at Pearl Harbor and those who still live on — such as Lou Conter, one of three surviving crew members of the USS Arizona — and for those souls who perished that sunny Sunday morning at the hands of Japanese imperialism, many of them entombed in that noble ship.

We remember the brave and the dead at the end of a week that may not be one of comparable infamy, but one of political madness, if Your Bumbling Correspondent might share an opinion he considers unimpeachable.

And now, let us proceed on to the Weekend Jolt. But first . . .

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1. Kudos to the Trump Administration for closing loopholes in the federal government’s bloated food stamp program. From the editorial:

Many on the left complain about the rule simply because it will reduce the number of people on food stamps — by about 700,000, roughly 2 percent of total food-stamp enrollment, by the administration’s own estimate. But increasing benefit receipt is not an end in itself, especially when it comes at the expense of an incentive for childless, able-bodied adults to find work; and given the massive growth the program has seen these past two decades, there is clearly room for cuts. (Despite the recovery, total enrollment is about double what it was in 2000.) Perhaps more to the point, whatever one’s ideal level of food-stamp enrollment, there is no good reason to gut work requirements for entire areas with low unemployment while enforcing those requirements elsewhere — or to let states play games with their maps to boost eligibility.

The economy is in a good place, making now a good time to get those on welfare into the labor market by enforcing work requirements and time limits. The 1996 welfare reform proved the effectiveness of this approach. And if Congress disagrees, it’s welcome to write some new rules into the law rather than leaving these decisions to the executive branch.

2. NATO remains essential. From the editorial:

In short, the whole of peaceful modern Europe is a NATO — and especially an American — achievement.

That vast geopolitical success has been tarnished in recent years by the failure of European members of the alliance to spend more than a very modest portion, 2 percent, of their GDP on their own defense. That failure is the real source of NATO’s current weakness. Successive American presidents have complained about it with little success. When President Trump raised the rhetorical level three years ago, he was loudly denounced for weakening the Alliance. (American liberals now blame Macron’s stronger criticisms on Trump!) In fact, Trump was waking NATO up, if only into a light doze. Several countries now spend more — Poland and the Baltics spend more than the NATO target of 2 percent — and the rest must now follow their example.

If that is to happen, however, several leading European countries, notably France and Germany, have to overcome their ambivalence about NATO’s role. Germany’s outlook is confused. It is no use for Angela Merkel to sing songs of praise to NATO if her government continues to spend half of its promised defense spending. The underlying problem is that Germany’s political establishment and public opinion are tempted by a foreign policy rooted in pacifism, commercialism, anti-Americanism — and a complacent doubt that NATO is any longer necessary. NATO, however, is working today. No one should doubt that the Baltics would now be at the very least “Finlandized” states in a Russian sphere of influence, or that Poland would be experiencing border incidents, if they were not now in NATO. That’s why they pay their defense bills. A demilitarized Germany in an America-free Europe would not long remain a truly independent power.

France is a different and more creditable case. France has always wanted to exert an independence from the U.S., which has made its relations with NATO an off-and-on alliance. Macron seems to be saying today that NATO belongs to the past. Well and good. France spends money on serious military power. Paris is an ally worth having. But its recurrent vision of making the European Union into an independent military power is a delusion exposed as soon as its advocates ask: Which countries will be France’s allies in this quixotic enterprise? Not Germany. Brexit Britain? Who else?

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Before the Sugarplum Visions Take Hold, Let These 15 NR Treats Dance in Your Head

1. The answer is “never.” Certainly then the question must be the title of Madeline Kearns’s new article, “When Will Transgender Clinical Activists Acknowledge Detransitioners?” From the piece:

Another detransitioner I spoke to recently was 21-year-old Helena from Chicago. She and three other young women have started a network, called the Pique Resilience Project, to help other detransitioners. Helena told me she is worried that voices like hers are being “silenced” and shut out of the transgender debate. She also worries that there is a lack of therapeutic and medical support for detransitioners. “Nobody seems educated,” she says. “A lot of practitioners don’t want to touch this with a ten-foot pole. . . . They’ll just refer you to a gender-affirmative practice.”

Helena has struggled with an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms since her early teens. At 18, she decided she wanted to socially transition and begin cross-sex hormones. She decided that after spending a lot of time online, especially on Tumblr. She believed that being transgender would help boost her social status, since previously she had struggled to make friends and be accepted by her peers.

“I saw that [you] were listened to more if [you] had an opinion and you said you were trans,” she says. “It incentivized me to want to identify as trans because it was hard to just be like a cis girl.” After talking for 20 to 30 minutes to an LGBT social worker, who asked about ten questions, she was granted testosterone.

From her social worker’s initial notes:

Patient states that since he has been able to make this appointment, his depression has already started to improve. Patient expects that his whole life will be quite different and he will be very happy when he starts to change. 

Patient states that he is 100% confident that he will get top surgery [full double mastectomy] in the future. 

Patient states that he would consider bottom surgery [genital modification] if the options that he would like for a penis became available, but he is not interested with the current options.

“It’s actually pretty ridiculous, the answers that I gave, and she like accepted those answers without questioning them,” Helena tells me. As well as making her more aggressive and permanently lowering her voice, she endured unwanted clitoral growth. Which, she notes, was “the one thing that I really didn’t want,” but she spoke of “having to sacrifice in order to get other changes.” Incidentally, this was not listed as a potential side effect on her informed-consent form.

About four months in she told her therapist she was confused and having doubts. However, the therapist, who worked at an LGBT resource center, was concerned that she might be experiencing “internalized transphobia” or familial pressure.

2. The headline of Andy McCarthy’s piece says it all: “Schiff’s Report Will Not Attract New Impeachment Supporters.” From the analysis:

Schiff ignores the ongoing Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Democrats despise this probe and want the public to see it as a politicized extension of the Trump 2020 campaign. It is, however, every bit as legitimate as was the Mueller probe (also approved by DOJ, and despised as political by Trump supporters). It is routine and proper for governments to seek each other’s help in investigations — especially when the obligation to assist is codified in a treaty, such as the one Washington and Kyiv have had for 20 years.

Schiff’s report obscures this fact by continuing to pretend (as Democrats did throughout Schiff’s hearings) that there is only one narrative of Ukraine’s 2016 collusion: a conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the DNC email accounts. Regrettably, Trump has bought into this discredited notion, and he mentioned it to Zelensky during their discussion. This enables Democrats to say that Trump seeks to undermine the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was the cyber culprit. But even though the president is wrong to dabble in debunked narratives, his focus was on establishing culpability for 2016 campaign wrongdoing, not political positioning for 2020 campaign purposes.

More to the point, Schiff continues to ignore significant evidence that Ukrainian government officials meddled in the 2016 election to promote Clinton and hurt Trump — including a Ukrainian court decision that so held. Coordination among the Obama administration, the Ukrainian government, and Democratic operatives is a legitimate area of inquiry for the ongoing investigation of the Trump-Russia investigation’s genesis. Contrary to the Democrats’ story, regurgitated in Schiff’s report, there is no contradiction in believing both that Russia hacked to harm Democrats and that Ukraine meddled to harm Trump.

3. More Andy: Aren’t Democrats exploiting Constitutional powers for political purpose? Andy catches the Nadler & Co. Pot Calling the Trump Kettle Black. From the piece:

After all, the lack of due process has been one of the president’s major complaints since late October, when the House belatedly voted to endorse the impeachment inquiry that Democrats have been conducting for months. Among the fundamental elements of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Having denied this opportunity to the president in Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s faux grand-jury phase of the proceedings, Democrats are now inviting the president to participate in the Judiciary Committee phase, where articles of impeachment are soon to be drafted and voted on. The president’s complaints are apt to ring hollow if he carps about the witnesses from the Twitter sidelines while forfeiting the right to question them at the formal hearings.

Abstaining now could also be problematic down the road. Eventually, there will be a Senate impeachment trial. Because the House is now giving the president an opportunity to examine witnesses, Senate Democrats will have a good argument that transcripts from Nadler’s hearings should be admitted as trial evidence — i.e., the president should not be heard to complain since he will have passed up his chance to confront his accusers.

All that said, though, the White House’s position makes sense, at least for the moment.

4. Adam Schiff has put the First Amendment on his Schiff List. David Harsanyi wonders as to the whereabouts of all the self-styled champions of the free press. From the piece:

With the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report Tuesday came the revelation that Giuliani and his Ukrainian affiliate Lev Parnas, whom Schiff apparently subpoenaed, had exchanged calls with former The Hill columnist John Solomon, ranking Intelligence Republican Devin Nunes, and attorney Jay Sekulow. Even if we allow that the California congressman had genuine national-security concerns when he subpoenaed metadata from AT&T so he could snoop on his political opponents, what possible national-security concerns would justify unmasking them?

This was an impeachment inquiry, not a criminal investigation. If Nunes had conducted himself similarly with Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyers, the D.C. press corps would have exploded into a raging panic. Rest assured, if Schiff had unearthed anything meaningful — and the subpoenas reportedly went out before the impeachment inquiry even began — he would have shared the evidence during the inquiry rather than using it as partisan chum in a post-inquiry report.

None of those unmasked by Schiff were the target of the inquiry, and, as far as we know, none of their conversations he exposed were unlawful. Nor were any of these conversations relevant in making a case for the impeachment of Donald Trump, especially without information beyond the time, dates, and lengths of the phone calls.

Schiff’s decision to unmask a journalist, though, was especially disconcerting. It meets none of law enforcement’s typical standards.

5. Steve Emerson attends the American Muslims for Palestine convention. Zionism hate was the theme. From the beginning of the report.

Its leaders won’t condemn terrorist groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah, but the co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, says his organization fights “Zionism on [a] daily basis.”

Awad co-founded CAIR in 1994, and is the only person to run it. In a speech to the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) last Friday, he cast Zionism as inherently hateful.

“For me, at CAIR, as the executive director of CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization, we deal with racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism on [a] daily basis,” he said.

AMP is a radical group that opposes Israel’s existence. It is suspected of having grown from the ashes of a now-defunct American propaganda arm of Hamas called the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). Osama Abuirshaid, now AMP’s national policy director, has said the organization seeks “to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

Awad and others who spoke at AMP’s national convention, held in Chicago over Thanksgiving weekend, share that mission, though some of them are more circumspect than others about saying so. None of the AMP speakers criticized Israeli policies. Each took issue with Zionism, the ideology that calls for a Jewish state in Jews’ ancestral homeland. Anti-Zionism of the sort heard in Chicago ignores the political and demographic realities of life in Israel, where Israeli Arabs serve on courts, as military leaders, and in the Knesset. Such rhetoric is also routinely described as anti-Semitic by Jewish and other groups. “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is included in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by 20 countries, including the United States.

6. Only four? John McCormack posits a quartet of fatal flaws that kyboshed Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign. From the analysis, here’s Point 2:

Choosing the Wrong Ground on which to Fight Harris’s breakout performance came in the June Democratic debate, when she attacked Joe Biden for opposing mandatory-busing policies in the 1970s. The move worked in the short term: Harris surged in the polls, and Biden dropped. But the senator had painted herself into a corner: Logically, to build on the attack, she would’ve had to make mandatory busing, which remains deeply unpopular, central to her message. So she dropped the issue after initially calling for new federal busing policies. It was an entirely foreseeable own goal, and the high-water mark of her campaign.

7. Rich Lowry finds the Left’s campaign against the Salvation Army a disgraceful thing. From the column:

The Salvation Army would seem a bridge too far. Its red kettles are iconic, as much a part of Christmas as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or “Miracle on 34th Street.” During the heavily commercial Christmas season, the red kettles are a token of charity and fellow feeling. It takes a perverse worldview not to have fond feelings about this tradition, which is spectacularly successful on its own terms, raising almost $150 million a year.

But the commissars of political correctness aren’t amused, and don’t let sentimentality interfere with their dictates.

They’ve already accomplished what would a few years ago have been considered impossible — bullying the explicitly Christian restaurant chain Chick-fil-A out of its donations to the Salvation Army. The army is now so radioactive that the pop singer Ellie Goulding threatened to cancel a halftime performance at the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving, kicking off the red-kettle campaign, over the group’s alleged anti-gay bigotry.

The first thing to know about the Salvation Army is that it is a church, founded by the Methodist preacher William Booth. He started his Salvation Army, with military ranks for its clergy, to reach the hungry and the needy through service. With more than 1.5 million members and a presence in roughly 130 countries, it is a spectacular example of, as Billy Graham once put it, “Christianity in action.”

8. Jonathan Tobin finds the EU’s persistent wooing and appeasement of Iran to be threat to the West. From the piece:

The same week that Europe was celebrating NATO, six more Western European nations — Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden (all but the last one members of NATO) — announced that they would participate in the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). INSTEX, whose founding members are Great Britain, France, and Germany, is an attempt to create a pathway to trade with Iran based on the barter of goods and services. In theory, it will allow member countries to do business in the Islamic republic without violating U.S. sanctions.

That six more countries joined INSTEX right as reports emerged that the Iranian government had met ongoing protests against price increases with unprecedented force — fatally shooting anywhere from 180 to 450 people, wounding at least 2,000, and arresting 7,000 — was shocking. It highlighted the obtuseness of INSTEX itself — the stupidity of Europe’s determination to undermine the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal Iran struck with President Barack Obama and other Western nations in 2015.

The Europeans believe that Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from what he rightly terms a disastrous deal was a betrayal of a Western alliance that was unanimous in applauding Obama’s appeasement of Iran. INSTEX participants say they are motivated by a desire to preserve a pact that was sold to the world as a way to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. But since the deal merely postponed an Iranian bomb while ensuring its inevitability, these arguments don’t pass muster.

9. A weakened China, writes Matthew Continetti, is a cause for increased American vigilance. From the piece:

Hong Kong is the most visible reminder of the tenuous nature of Communist rule. The city has become a postmodern battleground where masked protesters wield social media and lasers to avoid armor-clad police and facial-recognition technology powered by artificial intelligence. When one looks at Hong Kong one sees a possible future where champions of freedom the world over employ desperate measures against the overwhelming resources of a mechanized Leviathan. One also sees the brittleness, confusion, and embarrassment of despotism when challenged by subjects assumed to be grateful for growth and security and immune to the will to freedom.

What is happening in Hong Kong is not isolated. The China model of authoritarian development is damaged and scarred. What seemed as sturdy and invulnerable as a Borg Cube looks more like a fragile and wobbly mobile by Alexander Calder. The regime of Xi Jinping is under economic and political and diplomatic pressure that it is not handling well. This beleaguered combatant in an era of great-power competition is more dangerous to the United States than before.

What legitimacy the Communist party possessed was based on the decades of economic growth inaugurated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. But growth has slowed to its lowest level in decades as the Chinese workforce ages, low-hanging investment opportunities disappear, and the trade war with the United States reduces manufacturing output and sends supply lines to Vietnam and Mexico. Capital is fleeing China at a record pace as the bourgeoisie hedge against stagnation and turmoil.

10. Alexandra DeSanctis checks out the divisions and fractures in the pro-choice movement. From the piece:

In other words, although abortion rates are steadily dropping, those decreases have been much higher among rich, white women than among low-income, minority women. From this perspective, McGill Johnson’s quote sounds almost eerie. The abortion-rights movement is, increasingly, an activist class of privileged women who don’t need abortion campaigning for women who often fall back on abortion out of a feeling of necessity.

But perhaps the most telling aspect of the piece is the fear gripping the pro-choice movement, riven as it is by factional conflict. “For years, abortion rights supporters like Ms. Wood believed the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling had delivered their ultimate goal, the right to reproductive choice,” the Times article says. “Now, they are grappling with a new reality: Nationwide access to abortion is more vulnerable than it has been in decades.”

Whether or not this panicked tone is merited given the state of play, the disarray on display in the article illustrates a significant point. The Left is frightened about the future of abortion rights because its entire policy framework depends on the courts.

This is what a movement looks like when its preferences are cemented in place by a judicial decision rather than by legislative action informed by the will of the people. Despite what the justices hoped, Roe didn’t settle the abortion question, and now pro-choice advocates are wrestling with the consequences of having gotten their way without putting in the work.

11. When applying for prestigious scholarships, Christian Schneider says conservatives would do best to keep their yaps shut. From the beginning of his commentary:

When British businessman Cecil Rhodes passed away in 1902, he couldn’t possibly have imagined what the world would be like in 2019. Over 117 years ago, his brain couldn’t have conceived of commercial air travel or the Internet or how great Jennifer Aniston would still look.

Further, Rhodes also would not recognize what has become of the prestigious scholarship he founded in the year of his death. For one, he would be confused that the Rhodes Scholarship was being granted to women and minorities — he was an avowed white supremacist and specifically excluded women from winning the award. (Women didn’t become eligible until 1977.)

But Rhodes would also be perplexed about the academic paths chosen by Rhodes winners and by the criteria applied to the applicants.

Last week, the Rhodes Foundation announced its 32 American scholarship recipients. The third paragraph of the statement accompanying the selections reveals the foundation’s true goals:

For the third consecutive year, the class overall is majority-minority, and approximately half are first-generation Americans. One is the first transgender woman elected to a Rhodes Scholarship; two other Scholars-elect are non-binary.

If Rhodes were to rise from the grave in 2019, he might die all over again.

Once the ultimate academic award for American students, the Rhodes Scholarship has morphed into an identity contest, where racial and sexual classifications appear to have trumped academic rigor.

12. What is it about welding, college, and income, that all combine to make a strange political stew? Erin Valdez has a very interesting piece about the need for a nexus when it comes to trade jobs. From the piece:

It’s a fair point that welding has in some ways become a trope that is trotted out by politicians and others in a debate over value of public investment in higher education. Marco Rubio’s recent “Case for Common-Good Capitalism” builds on themes the senator has previously emphasized, including the importance of vocational education. Mr. Rubio’s support for vocational education in a 2015 presidential debate was overshadowed by his claim, “Welders make more money than philosophers,” a statement which was extensively fact-checked and which he later clarified. Mr. Tough is quite right that welders do not typically make $150,000 per year. The median wage for welders, according to the BLS, is $41,380. Like most jobs, you don’t start out at the top of the income range. As you gain more experience, you get paid more.

But wages for welders, even less experienced ones, are better in some places than others, as Mr. Tough points out. Texas is a pretty good place to be a welder (or just about anything else) these days. The Houston Chronicle has a useful primer on the process of becoming a journeyman pipefitter, which describes apprenticeship (no college required) in this specialized welding field. But Orry was unwilling to move, a disinclination that is unfortunately widespread in our current moment, but one that may contribute to less-than-optimal employment outcomes.

13. Andrew Biggs says it’s nuts to expand Social Security, and he has the reasons why. From the analysis:

The shift in sentiment on Social Security reflects a shift in priorities. In the 1990s, policymakers largely saw Social Security as a budgetary challenge, with rising retirement costs pushing up taxes or squeezing out other government programs. Today, Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security will fail to provide income stability for retirees. Seventy-five percent of Americans agree that the nation faces a “retirement crisis,” according to a National Institute for Retirement Security survey. Politicians have responded to these fears, with President Trump pledging to maintain full Social Security benefits despite the program’s looming insolvency. Progressives such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders promise benefit increases to rich and poor alike, financed by dramatically higher taxes on high earners.

Almost no one is asking whether these fears of a retirement crisis are justified and whether expanding Social Security benefits outweighs all the other competing uses for federal dollars. But new data from three trusted government agencies say that the answer to both questions is almost certainly no. While Social Security requires changes to ensure solvency and to better protect against poverty in old age, Americans’ retirement incomes and retirement savings have never been stronger.

Last summer, the Congressional Budget Office released new data based on IRS tax returns that provide a more accurate view of changing household incomes. From 1979 through 2016, the salaries of working-age households grew by 39 percent above inflation. But over that same period, incomes for households whose members are 65 and older grew by 90 percent, over twice as fast. Over the past three decades, seniors have gone from being a disproportionately poor segment of the population to a rich one. By itself, this undercuts the case for across-the-board Social Security benefit increases.

14. Armond White has a thing or three to say about the E.T.-based Xfinity commercial, A Holiday Reunion. He sees a cultural violation. From the piece:

E.T.’s story might be largely unknown to Parkland–Greta Thunberg activists. Born after E.T.’s social phenomenon, the generation made pessimistic and dystopic by Wall-E and The Dark Knight never learned Spielberg’s lesson about the ultimate ecumenical empathy. E.T.’s annunciation and resurrection imagery was so replete with Judeo-Christian resonances that, as with Spielberg’s greatest film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it was more than what Disney’s family-movie fodder could ever be.

Instead, “A Holiday Reunion” presents false nostalgia. Its appeal to Boomers encourages them to forget that E.T. was, above all, a spiritual touchstone.

In the advertisement for this advertisement, the spot’s plot is described as “37 years in the making.” So it is a shock when 47-year-old Henry Thomas himself appears as a married father of two children who embraces his old extra-terrestrial friend, returning to Earth for no apparent reason except to sell Comcast. (Adult Elliott’s couch-potato family watch cable TV with E.T., and Elliott’s son even introduces the once technologically advanced visitor to the wonders of WiFi, tablets, and virtual-reality gadgets.)

In “A Holiday Reunion,” Xfinity’s four-minute promise of media revolution, some precious part of our cultural past has been violated. E.T.’s storybook moral, the truly great moment of the alien and children bicycling across the luminous orb of the moon, as well as God’s rainbow sign to Noah, are traduced.

15. If you have a thing for Gershwin, you’re going to dig this Daniel Gelernter piece on the 1933 sequel to the composer’s hit musical, “Of Thee I Sing” – the floperoo “Let Them Eat Cake.” From the article:

Unfortunately, the writers seem to have accepted the Pulitzer Prize Committee’s interpretation. They teamed up again in 1933 to produce a sequel, and this time they actually did write a political satire. The result was Let ’Em Eat Cake — a tremendous flop. The show ran just 89 performances (compared to Of Thee I Sing’s 441) and is largely forgotten today.

It would be tempting to blame the failure on George Gershwin’s being in a sulk. Understandable as this would have been, it wasn’t the case. It may contain only one timeless masterpiece hit (“Mine”), compared with Of Thee I Sing’s two (the title song and “Who Cares”). But the score is lively and vivacious and rippling with little musical jokes drawn out of everything from Schubert to Sousa to The Pirates of Penzance. The overture makes clear just how much all subsequent musicals owe to Gershwin, who invented the gestures and orchestrational techniques that modern composers copy, perhaps unawares, when trying to conjure up the “Broadway sound.” At the same time, the construction is more intricate and deeply contrapuntal than any of Gershwin’s previous endeavors, and it was this work, rather than his next — Porgy and Bess — that Gershwin called his “claim to legitimacy.”

The problem with the show was that there was too much real and impending disaster in the topic the authors chose to satirize. In Let ’Em Eat Cake, the American president loses reelection, goes into the shirt business, and then — when his shirts aren’t selling — decides to found a revolutionary army called the “Blue Shirts” and stage a coup. The show is still very funny: The now-dictator paints the White House blue and turns the Supreme Court into a baseball team. But even though Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Hitler’s Brownshirts were still little-understood foreign curiosities in ’33, American audiences simply didn’t like a story about America being taken over by fascists. The jokes were funny, but the idea wasn’t — it made Americans uneasy.

The New Issue of National Review Magazine Is Out and Has a Rollicking Good Time Taking On Some Little Dudes

The long and short of it is, the December 22, 2019 issue comes up short . . . but in a good way. An appropriate way! Let’s keep this short: Here are four pieces — not a tall tale among them — offered to satisfy your . . . longing.

1. In the cover piece, Kyle Smith does his thing to presidential wannabe Pete Buttigieg, sanctimonious mayor of South Bend, Ind., rising in polls as he stands on his political tippy toes. From the piece:

What’s the appeal? the way Pete Buttigieg talks. He gets the juices—the sap?—of idealism flowing through liberal veins. He speaks in the language that they don’t merely respect, they revere—the language that hushes them up and makes them knit their eyebrows in sympathy. It’s that Harvard-McKinsey-PowerPoint-problem-solving-speak that sends a thrill up the leg of Kennedy School, good-government Dems. to gentry liberals, this is the new Scripture. Buttigieg connects with his Atlantic-reading, six-figure-earning, Whole Foods–shopping flock as convincingly as Joel Osteen does with his. Asking “Er, what exactly has Pete Buttigieg ever accomplished?” is, to this crowd, wholly irrelevant. Do you ask what your local priest or minister has accomplished? no, you simply revel in their homilies. Buttigieg isn’t really Mayor Pete.

He’s Saint Pete. no one has ever gone directly from being mayor of a large city to the presidency before, much less mayor of a small city. Moreover, Buttigieg faces a singular problem in that it’s easier to pronounce his name than it is to cite anything he’s done. He’s all hat and no cattle. He’s human vaporware. He’s Credential Man. Check out all the brands he’s accumulated: Harvard, Rhodes Scholarship, the navy, McKinsey & Company.

Buttigieg oozes so much Millennial arrogance that he invites the kind of dismissal Joe Biden showed when, sizing up the less-than-half-his-age competitor, he sarcasm-bombed Buttigieg with a greeting of “Mr. President.” Mayor Pete is a walking “OK, Boomer” T-shirt. Recently he suggested on Showtime’s The Circus that the Democratic primary is now a two-person race, those two being himself and Elizabeth Warren. Except Biden has held the lead in national polling virtually nonstop since he got in the race, and he’s still ahead. As of December 3, Biden was still 16 points ahead of Buttigieg in the Real Clear Politics polling average. Buttigieg has never surpassed Biden in national polls. In places like South Carolina and Nevada, Biden is stomping all over Buttigieg. Moreover, to say Buttigieg has thus far failed to make the sale to black voters is like saying Tom Brady isn’t so well liked in Buffalo. At this point Mayor Pete seems about as likely to capture South Carolina as Donald Trump is to be asked to host the Academy Awards. So far, his plan to achieve support from the black community is to pretend he already has support from the black community. To promote his alleged “comprehensive investment in the empowerment of black America,” Buttigieg rolled out a list of 400 black supporters, many of whom were either not black or not supporters. He promoted it with a photograph of someone who isn’t even American—a Kenyan resident who was surprised to find she had turned up in a stock photo that whiz kid Buttigieg was using to tout his bona fides among people of color. Buttigieg, a son of two professors, has begun gingerly hinting that being gay is kinda sorta like being black. Do blacks feel that way?

2. Another guy who got into the race a . . . short . . . time ago is former NYC Mayor and global scold Michael Bloomberg, the subject of Kevin Williamson’s analysis. From the article:

Bloomberg is a Washington outsider in genuine sense: He served three terms as mayor of New York City and has generally regarded Washington and its denizens as something somewhere between necessary evil and evil. But whereas Trump’s outsider status endeared him to Republicans, who are nearly uniform in their rhetorical detestation of Washington, Bloomberg’s outsider status does nothing for him among Democrats who are interested in centralizing power in Washington and believe, not without reason, that this ambition would best be served by the leadership of a veteran of the national legislature. Republicans in 2016 wanted a frothing rage-monster who would put Washington’s elites in their place; Democrats in 2020 want a cool insider who will rally Washington’s elites to their cause.

Which is to say, most Democrats want a variation on the theme of Barack Obama: Joe Biden was Obama’s vice president; Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg both are products of Harvard (the law school and the undergraduate college, respectively) and both would represent a first in the White House: first woman, first gay man. (You get an asterisk, James Buchanan.) Buttigieg’s smug corporate style, bred at McKinsey & Company, has more than a little Obama in it. (A little bit also of Bill Clinton, another Rhodes scholar.) Senator Warren represents to some Democrats the missed opportunity of the Obama years, an alternative storyline in which President Obama went after Wall Street hammer-and-tongs. That appeals to many Democrats, while a sizeable minority of them, between 15 percent and 25 percent, prefer the outright socialist Bernie Sanders—and Michael Bloomberg does nothing to satisfy either tendency.

And that raises Michael Bloomberg’s biggest cultural challenge in the Democratic primary: Democratic voters in 2020 are a mirror image of Republican voters in 2016 in that they do not desire mere electoral victory but also a cultural repudiation of the incumbent president—they want political antimatter, much as Republicans in 2016 found in Trump, who is as different a man from Barack Obama as the national stage had to offer. Michael Bloomberg may despise Donald Trump and hold him in contempt, but he is in affect and cultural temperament a man more similar to than dissimilar from the president, at least from the point of view of a teachers’-union-local president in Milwaukee, which is the point of view that matters most in Democratic circles.

3. Jay Nordlinger heads to Indiana and visits with an old conservative friend and man of much accomplishment, Purdue University president Mitch Daniels. From the profile:

Mitch Daniels is remarkably unchanging, both in his looks and in his views. You would recognize him at 100 paces. He looks basically the way he did when he was a Reagan aide. He thinks basically the same way too—one of the last of the Reaganite Mohicans. Today, he is president of Purdue University, and I’ve arrived at his office for a conversation.

Daniels has had a busy, multifaceted life. He was born in 1949, making him 70 today. He went to Princeton University and later to Georgetown Law. He worked as an aide to Richard Lugar, the longtime Indiana senator. Then he was in the White House, with Reagan. Leaving the White House, he headed up a think tank, the Hudson Institute. Then he worked as an executive for Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company. In the first two and a half years of the George W. Bush presidency, he was budget director. In 2004, he was elected governor of Indiana. In 2008, he was reelected. A lot of people wanted him to run for president in 2012, but he declined. In January 2013, the day his second term expired, he became president of Purdue. Moreover, he started writing a column for the Washington Post two years ago.

“You must never be bored,” I remark to him. “I never have been,” he says, adding, “I’m gonna run out the string of jobs here sometime, and I hope to finish never having been bored.”

I imagine he likes being around young people. He does indeed. “That’s why I’m here,” he says, “as much as for any other reason.” He has long had a test of whether he will like or appreciate someone: Does the person in question like kids, and, specifically, other people’s kids? “Here I am,” says Daniels, “surrounded by 30-some thousand of other people’s kids. It’s certainly one of the top two or three joys of the job.” I have read that he eats with them, in dorms, Greek houses, and other places. “I had dinner last night at a fraternity house.”

I have read that he works out with them. “I’ll be headed to the gym after we talk.” And that he attends football games with them. “Football for me is a full-contact sport. I go around the stadium and thank people for coming. I always stop to see the band, and see the other team’s cheerleaders, and see what’s going on in the student section.”

4. Nothing short or tall about David Harsanyi’s “Happy Warrior” contribution, which in part recalls the wars against litter, and the failure of current Big City libs to keep us from stepping in stuff. From the column:

One of the greatest accomplishments of the urban liberal do-gooder was cleaning up these cities. At some point in the early 1980s, citizens, not merely the wealthy but also the middle and working classes (in those days they could still afford to live in our big cities), got sick of wading through rubbish and began browbeating their neighbors into decency.

It still took decades to fix the litter problem—and, obviously, it would never be completely corrected—but the city streets were no longer complete dumps. Not Switzerland or Tokyo clean, for sure, but bearable. And though laws certainly helped with the cleaning up, it was a dramatic shift in social norms that really did the trick. Signs told people to curb their mutts. Signs told people to throw out their trash. PSAs began inundating the airwaves in the ’70s. How long could we ignore Iron Eyes Cody, the fake Indian in one of those PSAs imploring us to “keep America beautiful,” after he saw some savage throw trash from a speeding car? “People start pollution; people can stop it.” They could. Mostly by shaming those who trashed the city.

I bring up all this unpleasantness because it seems to me that many of the children and grandchildren of these heroic litter-fighters, people who haven’t had to step over broken bottles daily, are allowing our cities to backslide. I have no way of quantifying the relapse, but whenever I go back to my hometown it sure feels a bit more like the 1970s, and I don’t write those words nostalgically. “All of us have to deal with the filth that collects on the side of the road, making our community look uninviting and run down,” a spokesperson for one of the few current anti-litter campaigns in the city, Staten Island’s “Operation Clean Sweep,” recently complained. “The more litter we have on our streets, the more it becomes an accepted part of life.”

Rich and Yuval Talk Nationalism

Our Esteemed Leader and Yuval Levin discussed Rich’s new book, The Case for Nationalism, on C-Span’s “Book TV” recently. Do watch it: Here’s the link.

The Six

1. At The UnHerd, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet explains how French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambition is very real . . . and very alienating. From the analysis:

Yet on Macron proudly strides — with Europe in his sights. Even though he is struggling at home, the President, a petit-bourgeois liberal, imbued with his own undeniable but narrow intelligence, considers himself to be Europe’s natural leader. Since Germany will be preoccupied with its difficult political transition, facing signs of an early recession, and with the UK gone (the UK will be gone, won’t it?), who else is there, after all?

Some of his arrogance comes naturally, but some is theorised: why would he go against the tactics defined by de Gaulle, and followed by Giscard, Mitterrand and Chirac? The assumption that nuisance value gives you more clout in international politics has always been a mainstay of French power projection. Macron is simply continuing the tradition.

But alienating friends and not influencing people is all too often coupled with a lack of effort to understand how France’s partners think. And given that many decisions have to be taken unanimously by the EU27, it’s hard to see how he’d make a success of European leadership.

Macron does have a unique way of ruffling feathers — from his Nato remarks to his recent veto against EU membership application for both Albania and North Macedonia and his rudeness to Mrs Merkel. It will trip him again and again: the President will never be a team player. So as the country literally grinds to a halt, Macron stands alone with only his ambition and acolytes for company.

2. At the Daily Mail, Andrew Roberts body-slams Labour commissar Jeremy Corbyn. From the piece:

This ingrained hatred towards America led him to describe the 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden by US special forces as ‘a tragedy’, saying the Al Qaeda leader should instead have been brought to trial.

In a rant on Iranian State TV – that bastion of human rights and fair judicial process – Corbyn continued: ‘The World Trade Center [terrorist attack] was a tragedy, the [UN-authorised] attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war on Iraq was a tragedy.’

And it has resurfaced most recently in the ludicrous conspiracy theory that Boris Johnson is ‘selling off our NHS to the Americans’. Basing his so-called ‘revelations’ on documents relating to preliminary trade talks where no politicians and only low-level officials were present, shows how he is prepared to shoehorn anything into his rigid world view.

And this is why he is totally unfit for public office – because his deep commitment to a socialist future rides roughshod over the facts.

Similarly, Corbyn’s hatred of Nato – which has underpinned our national security for 70 years – has led him to blame it for ‘provoking’ Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.

He claims to support human rights but is never heard denouncing Venezuela, Cuba and Iran – all serial offenders. Why? Because these countries support his totalitarian vision, and above all Corbyn is primarily concerned with pursuing his single-minded ideology, no matter the human cost.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern explains how the Islamic State is alive, well, and festering in Europe. From the article:

At least 1,200 Islamic State fighters, including many from Western countries, are being held in Turkish prisons. Another 287 jihadis from at least 20 different countries have been captured by Turkish forces since the start of an offensive that began on October 9 against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria.

Approximately 100 German Islamic State supporters are believed to be in custody in Turkey, according to the German news agency, Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The German Interior Ministry said that although the identity of the jihadis being held by Turkey was not known, they could not be denied entry to Germany if they indeed were German citizens.

A German government spokesman, Armin Schuster, insisted that the German returnees were not “serious cases” and warned against “media-fueled hysteria.” He explained: “They did not take part in the fighting. They won’t be sent to prison, but they must be kept under surveillance.”

On November 11, Turkey officially began repatriating Islamic State detainees to the West by deporting a German, an American and a Dane.

On November 14, Turkey repatriated another eight Islamic State fighters: seven Germans and one Briton. One man, a German-Iraqi father of a family of seven named Kanan B., was accused by Turkey of being a member of the Islamic State. German authorities allowed the man and his family to return to their home in Lower Saxony. They said that although he is a member of the Islamist Salafist movement, they do not believe that he ever joined the Islamic State.

4. At Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple takes on the ethicists who are confounded by trans lunacy. From the analysis:

The Journal of Medical Ethics recently had a paper with the title “Transwomen in elite sport: scientific and ethical considerations.” Interestingly, my computer, which underlines in red words that I misspell, did not do so when I entered transwomen, which I suppose means that the word is as bona fide a word of the English language as, say, goldfinch or skylark.

Of course, the flexibility and adaptability of the English language is one of its glories. The ethical (and no doubt soon to be legal) problems referred to in the title of this paper arise when men who have had themselves changed into simulacra of women compete in women’s sport and benefit from residual male strength, such that they are able to win matches or tournaments in an unfair fashion.

The problem of the definition of womanhood in sport is not entirely new. I remember from my youth the problem of the Press sisters, the champion Soviet women athletes who won Olympic medals but were strongly suspected of not being women at all. To win medals at the Olympics and other world championships was regarded at the time as evidence of the superiority of one ideological system over another, surely one of the most fatuous notions ever to strike Mankind; but so it was, and totalitarian regimes were particularly ruthless and unscrupulous in the production of champions at all costs. In the days preceding the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the now-defunct magazine, Punch, ran a cartoon showing the sex-test of an athlete in Moscow. An inspector is looking at a female athlete trying to change a tractor-tire. “You’re not a woman,” he says. “A real woman would have changed that tire by now.” Such a joke would now probably arouse protests worldwide, because people so enjoy their outrage.

The problem alluded to in this paper is, of course, the consequence of a fiction, namely that a man who claims to have changed sex actually has changed sex, and is now what used to be called the opposite sex. But when a man who claims to have become a woman competes in women’s athletic competitions, he often retains an advantage derived from the sex of his birth. Women competitors complain that this is unfair, and it is difficult not to agree with them.

When it deals with the science of the question—for example, the effect of testosterone levels on athletic performance—the paper is measured and fair. But as soon as it comes to purely ethical problems, the authors give the impression of being frightened of being declared heretics by an unseen but clearly present Inquisition. They begin to write in a new langue de bois, that special kind of language utilised in totalitarian dictatorships (we seem to live increasingly in a world of various micro-totalitarianisms).

5. Springtime for Kleagle: Campus liberals shut down a play because it has KKK characters. Daniel Payne covers the absurdity at The College Fix. From the report:

How bad can campus liberal activism get? This bad: At Washington College in Maryland, students there succeeded in getting the school to shut down a play—one day before opening night—because some of the play’s characters were members of the Ku Klux Klan. You’re not reading that wrong: Students were aggrieved simply because some fictional characters in the production were members of an evil terrorist organization, and so the play had to go.

Even by the cracked and useless standards of campus activism, this is rather astonishing. One of the basic markers of a sound and cognizant mind is the ability to adequately discern between reality and fiction—to recognize when something is real and when it is contrived for the purpose of entertainment. It may come as a shock to the students at Washington College, but: Those weren’t real Klansmen. They weren’t going to hurt you. They were actors portraying fictional characters. Nobody was in any danger, at any time, at all, in any way. It was not necessary to cancel this play.

Then again, the standards of campus progressivism are lower than you might expect. The play in question, The Foreigner, was a comedy, and the Klan elements in it are addressed partly through the lens of satire. Yet as one activist put it: “[P]utting the KKK on stage in a satirical way is not appropriate because nothing about the historical and present day ramifications of the KKK is funny.”

More from The College Fix: Greg Piper gives a thorough accounting of Mann v. National Review. Read it here.

6. At City Journal, Brian Patrick Eha counsels that men’s magazines offer no guidance to men adrift. From the beginning of the essay:

When Jay Fielden, late of Esquire, announced his departure as editor-in-chief this past May, he did it in foppish style. An Instagram post showed him leaving Hearst Tower dressed in a safari jacket and dark sunglasses, designer bags in hand. The photo, which fastidiously aped a famous shot of Jack Nicholson, was roundly mocked on social media. But it served as a fitting, if unwitting, symbol of how the Esquire of today stands in comparison with the Esquire of an earlier era—as a self-conscious echo, a superficial imitation of its former self. Nicholson, after all, was merely living his life; Fielden was playing pretend. The door, closing behind him, closed not only on a three-year run in which the magazine he helmed won not a single National Magazine Award—this after a 19-year span in which his immediate predecessor won 17—but also, it was felt in some quarters, on the cultural moment when such a thing as a men’s magazine had any remaining relevance.

Esquire, Details, Men’s Journal, Maxim, Playboy—it would be easier to list the men’s titles that haven’t shut down, cut issues, changed owners, blown up their editorial strategies, or become all but unrecognizable since 2015. In a tough media environment, men’s magazines are suffering more than most. Some—notably, Playboy and Esquire—appear to have decided that appealing primarily to men is no longer the best way forward. Their recent issues serve as signposts toward the future that, we are told over and over these days, is female—or, better yet, divorced from the gender binary altogether. What we stand to lose from their cultural eclipse is a certain ballast and guidance just as men need it most.

In 2017, more than twice as many men died of opioid overdoses in the United States as women—32,337 to 15,263. The national suicide rate stands at its highest level in 50 years, and while it has increased for both sexes, men are nearly four times as likely to take their own lives. More women than men now attend—and graduate from—four-year colleges. At the very moment that large numbers of American men are adrift, in the very midst of their hunger for meaning, men’s magazines are leaving them behind.

Books, Books, Books! And Books!

1. Earlier this year we published a much-acclaimed double special issue (actually, two full issues of your favorite magazine) on Socialism (against) and Free Markets (for). Urged to publish these 24 essays making the case for our principles, and against the determined enemy (i.e., socialism) of them, we discussed the book prospect with our friends at Post Hill Press. They agreed (excellent idea), and acted, and here it is, sweetly and simply titled: Against Socialism, and filled with the wisdom of Rich Lowry, Charles C. W. Cooke, Kevin D. Williamson, John O’Sullivan, Yuval Levin, David L. Bahnsen, Timothy P. Carney, and many more. Get yours in quality softcover, or the Kindle edition. Order at Amazon, right here.

OK, as to the question Will it make an excellent Christmas gift? the answer is Yes. Indeed!

2. Another great book smacking Socialism upside its thick skull is Amity Shlaes’ Great Society: A New History. Get the down-lo right now by listening to two podcast interviews: John J. Miller interviews Amity on NR’s The Bookmonger, and at The Power Line Show, the Amity and Steven Hayward chat up Great Society.

Want more? Michael Barone provides an excellent review in the Wall Street Journal. Kudos to Amity. Order your copies here.

3. The senior senator and presidential wannabe from Massachusetts is in for it, courtesy of our pal David Bahnsen’s important new book assessing a (thought-perishing) POTUS Warren — it’s titled Elizabeth Warren: How Her Presidency Would Destroy the Middle Class and the American Dream, and right now it is available in audio format: You can get it at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Listen and you will discover a smartly written takedown of what the subtitle claims: How the leftist senator’s trillions-upon-trillions agenda, if implemented, is going to sucker punch America’s Middle Class.

Here’s a taste of some praise about EWHHPWDTMCATAD, from Steve Forbes: “The choices in the 2020 election couldn’t be more stark: Socialism or Capitalism. A buoyant, opportunity-rich economy or economic stagnation and evermore social strife. This well-written, lucid, always-interesting book convincingly makes the case for freedom over tyranny. Essential reading!”

If you thought Steve had nice things to say, get this from Andy McCarthy: “What a great political and economic anomaly: The populist Left, championed by Elizabeth Warren, is determined to vanquish wealth — the thing most essential to the investment, productivity, and growth desperately needed to underwrite the evermore ambitious progressive agenda. Here, David Bahnsen, a brilliant financial analyst with a keen political eye, provides the antidote to Senator Warren’s nostrums, and a Hazlitt-esque Capital in One Lesson for the rest of us.”

4. Oft-mentioned in this weekly screed is Bradley Birzer, king of The Imaginative Conservative and professor of history at Hillsdale College. He has an important new book out, which we recommend: Beyond Tenebrae: Christian Humanism in the Twilight of the West. What’s it all about? We’ll tell you, Alfie:

Beyond Tenebrae is about Christian humanism in all its breadth and depth, and the persons and groups best embodying it (quite apart from any particular social or political stance) in the last century and a half. Modern readers who sense the greatness of the “Republic of Letters” that commenced with the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and has endured for over two millennia will benefit from being introduced to the great men and women presented in these pages, ranging from lesser-known figures (T.E. Hulme, Canon Bell, Clyde Kilby, Theodore Haecker) to the more famous (Irving Babbitt, Christopher Dawson, Russell Kirk, Alexander Solzhenitsyn). Nor does the author, Bradley Birzer, a keen student of literature and poetry, neglect literary figures with strong humanist motivations, again ranging from the celebrated (Willa Cather, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Flannery O’Connor) to those who are forgotten or controversial (Shirley Jackson, Walter Miller, Margaret Atwood). We are treated as well to vignettes of those who influenced Birzer’s own life as a conservative and a humanist. By an interweaving of philosophical reflections with vivid biographical portraits, a vision emerges of a broad, responsible, humble, self-aware Christian humanism that can be a light shining in the darkness of the postmodern West.

Professor Double B is upstream, at the barricades, fighting the culture wars — his vital voice can be heard loud and clear in Beyond Tenebrae. Order your copy.


First, let us note the passing of Seymour Siwoff, the former owner of the Elias Sports Bureau, the statistical mothership for the MLB and so many other sports. Your humble correspondent had the privilege of working there long ago and far away. Rest in Peace. The same to Val Heim, the MLB’s oldest living player, who passed away last month, age 99. He played in 13 games for the White Sox in 1942, and if there was anything to note about Heim’s brief career (like that of many, cut short by WW2), it would be that on September 20 he played both games of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns, and drove in a total of four runs that day, on just one hit.

That leaves the great Eddie Robinson as the National Pastime’s oldest living player. As Yours Truly wrote in a particularly baseball-intensive WJ a few months back, Robinson . . . “a four-time All Star first baseman, played for seven of the AL’s eight franchises from 1942 to 1957. He never got to take the field for the Red Sox. And Robinson is still kicking: The former general manager for the Texas Rangers will celebrate his 99th birthday in December.” That happens on the 15th. Enjoy that, and many more.

A Dios

On that fateful day in 1941, 2,335 military personnel and 68 civilians died at Pearl Harbor. One who dodged death and fought back was Army Air Corps second Lieutenant Phil Rasmussen, the pajama-clad pilot who got his Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighter up into the air with guns blazing — he shot down one of Hirohito’s Zeros. He lived to fight throughout the war, and to defeat the enemies of freedom (listen to this lecture he gave on the 50th anniversary of the attack).

Did he do it so that American lawmakers could engage in its current liberal lunacies to undo legitimate elections? The question is rhetorical. This request — would you pray for the souls of those who died that day? — is not.

God Bless and Protect You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who remains open to your attacks, if necessary, and words of encouragement, if such can be imagined, at

National Review

ZZzzzzupreme Court


Dear Weekend Jolter,

We do hope that you enjoyed Thanksgiving Day and its aftermath, and maybe are still in the glow of that annual turkey-induced coma/nap. By the way, even though the turkey causa est old-wives-talery is a load of gastronomic stuffing, that’s one party we will not officially poop.

But the week did begin, for NR, with a sizeable and official party-poopage: On Monday, the United States Supreme Court, guardian of the First Amendment and defender against all those who wish to curtail, limit, gag, hinder, abuse, muffle, and duct-tape it, was napping while on duty. It formally denied this institution’s request (officially, our Petition for a Writ of Certiorari) that it take up National Review v. Mann, the case which many believe, correctly, is the current major threat to the right we thought so unalienable.

Alas, it seems to be quite . . . alienable.

This grimacing by Your Humble Correspondent should not distract you from the dissent (a rare thing accompanying cert petition denials) filed by Justice Samuel Alito, who believed his Supreme colleagues should have taken up the case given the risk Professor Mann’s claim poses to free speech. In the Justice’s words:

The petition in this case presents questions that go to the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press: the protection afforded to journalists and others who use harsh language in criticizing opposing advocacy on one of the most important public issues of the day. If the Court is serious about protecting freedom of expression, we should grant review.

You can read the Alito dissent here (it starts on page 19). More on all this below. Thank you Mr. Justice — you deserved an extra serving of cranberry sauce, and the drumstick, for your wisdom. And one last word on this: The cert denial was not a decision on the merits of the arguments made in our petition. Nor was it a decision on the merits of Mann’s initial lawsuit (filed back in . . . 2012!). Nor does it preclude SCOTUS from reviewing NR’s claim at a later point.

We will have our day in court — for the time being, not the Supreme one. We resume the fight to protect this right — it’s ours and yours — in the District of Columbia court system. It’s about as liberal as they come. But we are confident that we will prevail.

Now, as mentioned in last week’s edition of this missive, what is before your eyes is a truncated, filed-early version of the usual. You’ll find no Baseballery, The Six, etc. Editor Phil has been freed from his galley-slave duties and is traveling, so we have kept the offerings to editorials and a dozen or so NRO pieces that should tide you over.

Glad tidings we hope, especially now that Advent is upon us this weekend.


1. You blew it, SCOTUS. From the editorial:

At stake in this case are nothing less than two of the core guarantees that undergird American life. The first is the promise that all people may engage in robust political debate without fear of retribution from the sensitive and the malicious. The second is the promise that when legal disputes do arise, they will be resolved in a timely manner — before, not after, the targeted party has been bled of precious time and resources. Thus far in National Review Inc. v. Michael E. Mann, neither of these guarantees has been upheld. We are now seven years into this saga, and there remains no end in sight. On the case rolls — a Jarndyce and Jarndyce for the 21st century.

Justice Alito notes that “in recent years, the Court has made a point of vigilantly enforcing the Free Speech Clause even when the speech at issue made no great contribution to public debate.” And so it should. But one would expect that a Court that takes the time to superintend the marginal cases would have time for the foundational cases, too. And make no mistake: This is a foundational case. Aware of what is at risk here, a host of media organizations from across the entire political spectrum have filed amicus curiae briefs in support of National Review. We may not agree with the Washington Post, Time Inc., the ACLU, and the Cato Institute on everything — or, often, on much — but on this we all speak as one.

In response, we have heard little more than radio static. We appealed to the Supreme Court because no other institution seemed willing to bring this case to the close that it so richly deserves. Washington, D.C., in which city the suit was brought, operates under a well-written “anti-SLAPP” law, the sole intent of which is to prevent and cut short precisely this sort of litigiousness and harassment and thereby to protect free speech in America. And yet, for all the good it has done, that statute may as well be written on clouds. Seven years in, it has done nothing to convince the lingering D.C. Court of Appeals that it should do anything more than issue footnotes, and it has done nothing to convince the Supreme Court that this is a problem worthy of its attention. What, we can only wonder, would a non-expedited process look like?

2. The ChiComs are a twisted bunch. If you don’t believe that, ask any Uyghur. From the editorial:

The government has rounded up more than a million Uyghurs and other minorities, throwing them into concentration camps, or “reeducation” camps. These camps constitute a Chinese gulag archipelago.

Among the Uyghurs, there are a relative handful of militants, as there are among the Rohingyas (the minority people whom the Burmese government has brutalized). This gives the government an excuse to go after everyone — think of Lidice, multiplied untold times.

Some Uyghur inmates have been tortured to death; many have been driven to suicide. The Chinese government aims to stamp out Uyghur culture, religion, language — all of it.

The government has moved ethnic Chinese men into Uyghur homes, to act as substitute fathers and husbands. The real fathers and husbands are away in the camps (if they are indeed still alive).

Also, the government gets them young. The government rounds up young Uyghurs, before they have committed any “crime,” even in the Communist Party’s eyes. In Cuba, the government has done the same thing, for decades. The Cuban government commonly arrests people on the charge of “pre-criminal social dangerousness.”

On Monday, the Associated Press had a staggering report. It talks of “the Chinese government’s deliberate strategy to lock up ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, to rewire their thoughts and the language they speak.” The report also cites a slogan — a mission statement, if you will — from the Ministry of Justice: to “wash brains, cleanse hearts, support the right, remove the wrong.”

Come Back for Seconds, Thirds, and Twelfths . . . the Weekly NRO Feast Awaits You and Your Insatiable Appetite

1. John McCormack has a great interview with Congresswoman Elise Stefanick. From the piece:

Even before she grabbed the national spotlight during the public impeachment hearings, Stefanik had risen rapidly in politics.

After graduating from Harvard in 2006, she held a variety of Washington staff jobs — in the Bush White House, at the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank, and in the presidential campaigns of Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney (where she was in charge of Paul Ryan’s debate prep) — before returning home to upstate New York to run for Congress in the 2014 midterm elections. In three consecutive elections before Stefanik ran, a Democrat won the historically Republican district, due in large part to the fact that moderate Republicans and conservatives were divided. Stefanik defeated a pro-choice Republican in the primary and went on to win the general election by 37 points, becoming, at the time, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (a record now held by another member from New York, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).

What’s next for the young, talented, and ambitious congresswoman? As a representative in New York, a Republican has virtually no chance of winning statewide office. But maybe Stefanik could see herself serving in House leadership someday? “No,” Stefanik tells me, “I thrive on focusing on my district, focusing on the substance of my committees. I’m a really active member of the three committees that I sit on: the House Armed Services Committee, Education and Workforce, and Intelligence.”

What about a post in the Trump administration? Would Stefanik serve as secretary of state if Mike Pompeo steps down to run for Senate and President Trump asks her to join his cabinet? She does not say no. “I am focused on my district,” Stefanik replies. “We will see; that’s a lot of hypotheticals. But I’m focused on my district.”

In the short term, Stefanik is focused on fighting impeachment in the House.

2. Victor Davis Hanson enjoys Adam Schiff’s comeuppance. From his piece:

Schiff’s overweening ambition and ego drove him into a full-fledged, prime-daytime soap opera. Previously washed and rinsed witnesses returned for televised cross-examinations with Schiff in the star inquisitor role. He apparently thought he could outperform his own Republican colleagues on camera — people he had blatantly misrepresented for weeks.

But television allowed the country to conclude that seeing and hearing Schiff all day long was a different experience from catching minute- or two-minute glimpses of him. The TV version was entirely toxic.

In person, some of the House civil-servant witnesses were haughty. They were certainly obsessed with their positions, titles, and résumés, and eager to talk down to others while talking themselves up. But mostly they sounded incoherent in decrying a brief hold on military assistance to Ukraine by a president who in fact has armed Ukrainians in a way his predecessor never dared. Most of the public came away with several general takeaways — all harmful to the Democrats.

One, the more viewers learned of the corrupt, wily Ukrainians (who were constantly shifting alliances to bet on the anticipated 2016 front-runner), the more they thought that Trump might have been circumspect to have held up, if only for a few weeks, U.S. military assistance in the first place, at least until he learned the nature of the new Ukrainian president. The more one learned about the baffling array of freelancing and often duplicitous Ukrainian ambassadors, prosecutors, foreign ministers, presidents, and gas directors, the more one concluded it might be better to let them get their house in order first.

Two, why blast a president who armed the Ukrainians while staying silent about a prior president who refused military aid and even used non-military aid as a lever to adjudicate Ukraine prosecutions?

Three, the House Republican interrogators, previously mostly unknown, turned out to be far more effective cross-examiners than their Democratic counterparts, in part because the latter were trying to remove a president on the basis of hearsay.

3. If the answer is yes, the question must be the one posed by David Harsanyi: Is impeachment backfiring on the Democrats? From the piece:

It’s highly probable, in fact, that a Senate trial run by Republicans, with new witnesses and evidence, would further corrode the Democrats’ case. Liberals, of course, will pretend that Senate Republicans are members of a reactionary Trump cult, putting party above country, but if there had been incontrovertible proof of “bribery,” a number of them would be compelled to act differently. No such evidence was provided. Adding an obstruction article, based on the Mueller Report, would only make the proceedings even more intractably partisan — yet the recent push to force Don McGahn to testify suggests Democrats could be headed in that direction.

In any case, what we can look forward to in a Senate trial is more Ukrainian drama. Far from weakening Trump in 2020, the story might end up dragging Joe Biden into a defensive posture. Journalists perfunctorily refer to anything related to Ukrainians or the Bidens as a “conspiracy theory,” but it’s clear that Hunter Biden was cashing in on his father’s influence and still unclear what Joe Biden did about it. Republicans have already requested transcripts of conversations between Biden and then–Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko over the vice president’s requests to fire Viktor Shokin. It’s going to become a difficult story to ignore. (How long before the hard-left contingent vying for the Dem nomination starts asking questions about Biden’s cronyism?)

So what is the upside? At first, Democrats claimed that polls were irrelevant because impeachment was a moral and patriotic imperative. Once national support spiked, numbers suddenly mattered very much, and the usual suspects couldn’t stop talking about them. What most polls now confirm is that while Americans were paying attention to the breathless media coverage, public support for the inquiry is at best stagnant and probably declining.

RELATED: Rich Lowry takes on the Democrats’ “Check-the-Box Impeachment” process. From his column:

The minimum requirement of a historic impeachment case, only the fourth in our history, would seem to be a complete account of the facts. Schiff used to say as much: “We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people. The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less.” Now, the seriousness and the danger are demanding that Democrats rush things along so the president can be impeached by the end of the year.

No matter how often Democrats say, “Let’s honor the Constitution,” their actions say, “Let’s check the box.”

Democrats have had the difficulty from the beginning of trying to build an edifice of impeachment and removal atop the narrow foundation of the Ukraine episode, and now they aren’t even going to finish the edifice, content with what they could complete in a two-month investigation largely reliant on the testimony of people who weren’t around for the main events (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch) or were out of the loop (former Trump Russia adviser Fiona Hill).

It’s not as though getting firsthand witnesses will weaken the Democratic case; it will in all likelihood make it stronger. But with every day that passes, it becomes a little more absurd to say Trump should be impeached and removed when the public can make its own verdict in the election. Besides, Democrats know that impeachment is going nowhere in the Senate, so why bother locking down the case to make it worthy of the gravity of the process?

4. Thank you, Ryan Berg, for the exceptional analysis of on-the-run Bolivian jefe Evo Morales, BFF of socialism, thief of votes, and destroyer of economies. From the beginning of the piece:

When President Evo Morales of Bolivia was caught by election observers in an artless attempt to steal an illegal fourth term, the police withdrew their support for the president. Realizing that they were next in the chain of command, the military preemptively warned Morales that they would refuse to fire on innocent protesters, who had turned out in great numbers demanding his resignation, and suggested he resign as a means of ending the crisis. Since then, debate has raged, as Morales claims he is another victim in a long line of Latin American leaders toppled by a U.S.-backed coup.

As an asylee in Mexico City, Morales continues to foment violence and plot a return to power. Deadly confrontations have broken out between his supporters and those of the new interim government, leading to the deaths of more than 30 Bolivians. At this point, however, with a political comeback highly unlikely, it is best to turn away from the merits of the coup debate and instead address Morales’s legacy after almost 14 years in power. Many in the region have shed a tear for Morales, defending his legacy as one of firsts and pointing to his poverty reduction as proof that his brand of “socialism can work,” as one Washington Post columnist put it recently.

The question of Morales’s legacy is more than an academic exercise. In fact, it has implications well beyond Bolivia. Recently, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, yet nearly 50 percent of Americans now embrace some form of socialism. This is somewhat understandable: Younger Americans did not live the Cold War experience or encounter the grim reality of life behind the Iron Curtain. When they are confronted with this reality through history books and video evidence, the most common refrain remains commitment to the tenets of socialism while arguing that the regimes of Eastern Europe erred in their “poor application” of the principles. And for Morales’s supporters, Bolivia was engaged in a “good application” of socialism. Yet the truth is messier and far less convenient than Morales’s defenders would like to admit.

5. Chester Finn and Frederick Hess sound the alarm that Wokeness is threating education reform. From the piece:

The damage inflicted on our educational institutions by the onrushing tsunami of wokeness is starting to worry even a few prominent progressives. Former president Obama himself recently fretted about young activists who are “as judgmental as possible about other people,” cautioning that they’re “not bringing about change.”

As a hyper-judgmental, hyper-sensitive mindset washes from colleges into our nation’s schools, however, change is indeed being brought about: The wokeness wave is destroying unblemished reputations, driving admirable people from the field, and undermining sorely needed efforts at school improvement.

Today, we’re a nation still at risk, due to the faltering achievement of far too many children — a problem vividly on display in student performance that has been flat for a decade. Addressing that challenge requires a broad and durable coalition. This is only possible if reformers work with those who have different views and values and then have the courage to stand by their allies.

School reformers have long seen themselves as plucky champions of change. Today, however, as funders and advocacy groups chant from a common hymnal of wokeness, the rules have changed and courage is hard to find. In its place we see cravenness and appeasement from reformers desperate to avoid the all-seeing eye of the progressive mob.

Acclaimed Columbia professor John McWhorter recently decried the “tribalist, inquisitional excommunication” that caused a biology professor at Evergreen State College to be “hounded out of his post for refusing to heed a demand that whites vacate the campus for a day.” McWhorter’s focus, however, was mostly on the charter-school sector, which has lately seen successful school leaders forced out because of complaints that they are racist, sexist, misogynist, or opinionated in ways that critics don’t like.

6. Rebeccah Heinrichs has a sit-down with OSO Mike Pompeo. The subject: Red China. From the piece:

In addition to the Hong Kong elections, there was more breaking news over the weekend related to the CCP: An alleged Chinese spy defected to Australia and shared a trove of details about the pervasiveness of the party’s disinformation campaigns, its kidnapping of journalists and efforts to bully and intimidate journalists, and its astonishing efforts to infiltrate foreign universities and subvert governments disinclined to support its totalitarian vision.

Understandably, Pompeo couldn’t go into any detail about the case beyond acknowledging that he’s seen the reports of the defection. “The Trump Administration is keenly aware of the risks of Chinese efforts to influence and to conduct espionage campaigns, and so we’re taking all the appropriate measures,” he said. “We talk about them in lots of different contexts: protecting our elections, protecting American intellectual property. All of the things that President Trump has talked about in the context of trade often have a true national-security component to them as well.”

That’s a realization U.S. officials would be wise to take to heart. It is impossible to compartmentalize trade and national security. For too long, the United States acted as though they were separate, and as though economic incentives would be enough to transform adversaries into allies. That has proven over and over again to be false. It is increasingly difficult to argue that entire business sectors aren’t directly enabling the CCP’s gross abuses of Chinese religious minorities. Countries still holding on to the hope that deep economic ties will keep them out of the CCP’s military sights should be disabused of that notion sooner rather than later.

7. Boola Boola S***: Ivy League brats occupy the 50-yard line to lament on climate change. Jonathan Tobin blocks the kick. From the article:

Are environmental activists changing the hearts and minds of Americans about global warming, inspiring them to treat it as a pressing crisis? So far, the results are mixed, as we saw last Saturday when climate protesters stormed the field to disrupt the annual Harvard–Yale football game. The stunt earned more boos than cheers from the crowd at the Yale Bowl in New Haven.

Polls have shown that more Americans than ever before are aware of climate change as an issue, but they are mixed about whether it is a “crisis” or just a “problem” that won’t require major sacrifices to fix, as a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.

That survey showed that Americans were split down the middle on how to define climate change, with 38 percent saying it is a crisis and an equal number calling it merely a problem. But the results were far more one-sided when it came to the question of what to do about climate change, with 62 percent of the public saying that any solution will require only “minor sacrifices” or “not much sacrifice.” Only 37 percent believe it will require “major sacrifices.”

The public’s disinclination to see climate change as a pressing global catastrophe is fueling the rage of activists. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has become an international celebrity for her angry warnings that we’re on the brink of “mass extinction,” is widely applauded by the media, but there’s little indication that Americans are ready to heed her advice. Indeed, some environmental activists think her emphasis on pushing people to change their personal behavior — to give up meat, cheese, plastic, and air travel — is bound to undermine their cause. They have little hope that people living in the 21st century will be content to live as if they were in the 19th because Thunberg and other activists tells them it will save the planet. These advocates want the sole focus to be on governments, not individuals.

8. Madeleine Kearns provides the much-needed update on the upcoming British elections and Boris Johnson’s “extraordinary manifesto.” From the report:

Get Brexit Done. Unleash Britain’s Potential. This is the Tory party’s election manifesto, a 59-page document promising a swift Brexit, big spending, tax freezes, an improved National Health Service, and more funding for law enforcement.

In ordinary times, the document would be a letdown to fiscal conservatives. But these are not ordinary times. On December 12, Britons will go to the ballot box and decide whether the occupant of No. 10 Downing Street should be Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn, a Marxist and — some believe — a maniac.

With regards to Brexit, Johnson is promising a swift and moderate delivery to his Brexit deal and a short transition period. Corbyn is promising a renegotiation followed by a second referendum. Labour has not indicated whether it will be backing Brexit in the referendum.

With regards to the economy, Johnson is promising an end to austerity (without tax hikes). He is also pursuing free-trade agreements with the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. His government intends to borrow £100 billion for infrastructure investment. Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, has called the infrastructure plan “the biggest increase in the size of the state under a Conservative Prime Minister since Harold Macmillan.”

Naturally, however, Corbyn is promising more. Much more. For every $1.30 of spending that the Tories are offering in their manifesto, Labour is offering $36.

For starters, Corbyn plans the biggest increase in newly constructed “council” (i.e., welfare) housing since World War II, which would cost $96 billion. Corbyn also wants to reduce the working week to 32 hours (with no decrease in pay); provide free TV licenses for people older than 75, at $961 million (all British residents must buy an annual license to watch TV); create a new social-security system costing $10.8 billion; provide free dental treatment and prescription drugs; free college tuition, for $9.3 billion a year; free “personal care” for people older than 65 and 30 hours of free child care a week for children under four — only $7.2 billion a year for the state to raise your children!

9. And before you can say Bob’s your uncle, John O’Sullivan provides his own analysis of the forthcoming election and its promise of Brexit Ho! From the article:

The net effect is that support for Remain is divided almost two-to-one between these two parties (in England, that is, since Scotland, with the pro-Remain Scottish National party in the game, requires a different calculation). In sharp contrast, Leave support is divided about twelve-to-one between the Tories and Nigel Farage’s insurgent Brexit party. It was always likely that a Tory party led by Boris Johnson and proposing some form of Brexit would scoop the great majority of Leave voters from the Brexit party, but Farage might perhaps have held onto, say, 8 percent of voters, or one-sixth of the total Leave vote, if he had kept all his 600 candidates in the race. But Leave voters in both parties pressured him to withdraw, and after a public struggle with himself, he agreed to stand down Brexit-party candidates in all 318 Tory seats. As a result, the Brexit party is now at about 3 percent in the polls, reflecting the broad decision of Leave voters to consolidate around the Tories. Since a badly divided Remain coalition now faces a united Leave one, that points to a substantial Tory victory but one short of a landslide.

Could that change? Of course. Events are unpredictable and have unpredictable effects. No one expected the Manchester bombing in 2017, still less its undermining impact on the Tory campaign of strong and stable government. But there is one decision by Boris that has so far strengthened the Tory lead but could perhaps turn sour.

Two weeks ago the Tories were quietly negotiating with Farage over a possible deal (that, as it happens, bore some resemblance to the electoral logic I sketched out in my last Brexit article). If the reports are accurate, Farage wanted the Tories to withdraw from about 40 northern seats where he believed the Brexit party had the better chance of defeating the Labour incumbent. In return, he would not put up candidates anywhere else. The Tories saw this logic but proposed a half-hearted version of it: Namely, they would not withdraw their own candidates in the Labour seats Farage sought, but they wouldn’t campaign for them either. That deal fell apart, and recriminations are following. The Tories probably now think they got most of what they wanted — the Brexit party giving them a free run in 318 of 630 constituencies — and they’re probably right. But in rejecting the Farage deal, they rejected the near-certainty of a landslide for themselves, even if they also think they avoided the future difficulties that would be caused by having a party to their right in Parliament and the country.

10. There goes the neighborhood: Cloying Tom Hanks playing cloying Mr. Rogers. What’s not to not like? Kyle Smith’s take on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood finds Mr. Rogers’s sneakers are untied. From the review:

Perhaps I’m not the target audience for this slow-moving, punitively earnest movie. I’m not sure who is. People with more patience that I’ve got, maybe. Still, the movie does have a character someone like me can identify with: a fictitious writer named Lloyd Vogel, who is loosely based on a profiler for slick magazines. Vogel opens the movie by saluting “my fellow misfits” — which sounds a bit odd coming at a posh, exclusive, absurdly expensive black-tie awards ceremony in Manhattan. Why do elites think of themselves as “misfits”? He moves on to this thought: “So why do we write for magazines for a living? Honestly, because doing anything else doesn’t seem quite like living at all . . . sometimes, just sometimes, we get to change a broken world with our words.”

Hang on, this guy finds the apex of human existence to be . . . writing articles for fashion magazines nobody reads? I worked at People (which at least people actually did read) for eight years, and one thing I can tell you about our crew is that nobody confused himself with Jonas Salk. “Change a broken world with our words”? We were lucky if we could get through the day without being screamed at by Renée Zellweger’s publicist. On our to-do list, “fixing the world” was about 500 spots lower on the list than “get Carrot Top for Sexiest Man Alive.” Moreover, our editors, trained in the somewhat WASPy and phlegmatic Time Inc. register, were at least resistant to hyperbole. “Doing anything else doesn’t seem quite like living” is exactly the kind of hysterically overwrought balderdash that editors stomped all over, even when our subjects would say things like this. Anyone who would apply this description to being a magazine writer, a person whose profession it is to ask interesting people about stuff they’ve done, is so obtuse that he shouldn’t be allowed near a media outlet in the first place. People who put out forest fires, or deliver babies, or kill terrorists: They are doing stuff that matters. Magazine writers do things like writing bitchy, trying-to-be-clever Esquire cover stories suggesting Kevin Spacey was gay. Which is what the guy whose life this movie is based on did.

11. Edward Conrad finds a lot of hooey in Thomas Philippon’s new book, The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets. From the review:

Many scholars dispute Philippon’s claim that rising monopoly rents are diminishing America’s competitiveness. To refute his argument, they point to America’s market-share leaders, which have invested more, produced more innovation, achieved greater productivity, and gained market share relative to their competitors — the opposite of rising cronyism. Philippon answers his critics with evidence that investment has been lower than expected since 2000, given the high market value of America’s leading companies relative to the replacement cost of their assets. He points to Europe for comparison. His arguments are fraught with complications that he leaves out of his book.

Unmentioned is the importance of earning returns in excess of the cost of capital to incentivize risk-taking necessary to produce innovation and increase prosperity. If competitors can easily copy innovation and compete away excess returns, everyone will wait for others to innovate, and the pace of innovation and investment will slow. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened.

Aside from the slow-growing automotive sector, America’s 200 largest companies are investing twice as much in research and development as their European counterparts. The U.S. economy is investing nearly 25 percent more in intangible assets, such as software and training, than Europe. America is investing about eight times more venture capital per dollar of gross domestic product. And America has produced about six times as many billion-dollar startups as Europe — an indicator of innovativeness more broadly. Rising cronyism isn’t evident in any of these revealing comparisons. Instead of confronting this evidence, Philippon diverts the reader’s attention to the consolidation of capital-intensive cellphone networks and airlines, where marginal competitors have struggled to survive, and to other industries where consolidation has increased but is still below antitrust standards of concern.

12. The intersection of Dallas, Madrid, opera, and art — yes, there is such a nexus — is the stuff of Brian Allen’s latest. From the review:

To Sevillian barbers, Carmen, and all those Spanish Dons — Don Carlos, Don Giovanni, Don Rodrigo — you’re adding art to your repertoire. I’m writing this week about a new collaboration among the Meadows Museum in Dallas, the Dallas Opera, and the Teatro Real, the opera house in Madrid facing the Royal Palace. I was in Madrid last week and attended the launch.

The Meadows, which is the art museum at Southern Methodist University, focuses on the best art from the Hispanic world. It’s an imaginative, entrepreneurial place. I’ve seen lots of good exhibitions there over the years. Now, it’s bringing opera into its gallery and returning art to two great opera houses. The Meadows will license its great collection to the Dallas Opera, which will design its stage sets around it. The Dallas Opera will send its singers to the museum for performances. They’ll collaborate on marketing, too.

Over time, the Meadows will plan shows with a music subtext. This is smart and ambitious. The museum spaces are elegant, spacious, and suited to sound. I’d suggest Picasso and the stage. He designed dozens of sets. John Singer Sargent loved Spanish music and dance. Spain is a musical melting pot. Jewish, Visigothic, Moorish, Italian, and French styles ooze into one another, jolted by castanets and tambourines. Goya, alas, was deaf.

Verdi’s Don Carlos and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville are the two anchor shows at the Dallas Opera next year, both using Meadows art. Carlos (1545–1568) was a very bad dude. He looked like James Dean but had a touch of Charles Manson in him. He was Philip II’s oldest son and heir. His father poisoned him in an act of patriotism. This most ascetic king liked clean breaks. His younger son, Philip III, was sensible and pious.

A Dios

In my own immediate world, we are thankful to Uncle Tom and Aunt Marsha for another wonderful feast. A little more broadly, we are thankful for the blessings of liberty. A little more prayerfully, we hope the forthcoming season in which God’s sons and daughters celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah brings with it graces of comfort, joy, happiness, and peace. Would that be the case for you and all those you love.


Jack Fowler

who can be admonished for his boolah vulgarities at

National Review

‘Elizabeth Barada Nikto!”


Dear Weekend Jolters,

Say it . . . That’s the only way we can keep from destroying the planet!

With apologies to Patricia Neal. And to the late Zsa Zsa. This confused thought from the fevered-brain-swamp of your Humble Correspondent was instigated in part by Mr. Kyle Smith, who is more than just a pretty-faced movie critic, but an astute observer of Elizabeth Warren, who he too finds may have some beyond-our-stratosphere home . . . because sure as Venus smells like rotten eggs her ideas are way out there, and stinky. More on that below.

Before we get there . . .

Let me remind you that there is a National Review Rhine River Charter Cruise taking place April 19–26, 2020, on AmaWaterways’ glorious AmaMora, commencing in Basil, Switzerland (there is a pre-cruise stay in Lucerne), and visiting wonderful cities and towns (including Strasbourg and Cologne) before arriving at its destination, Amsterdam.

This will be a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, so do come. And know that you will be in the company of terrific conservative speakers (who, as we sail up the Rhine, through its fascinating locks and past vistas of vineyards and castles and abbeys and charming hamlets, will engage in scintillating discussions of the day’s most important topics) including Rich Lowry, Daniel Hannan, John O’Sullivan, Amity Shlaes, Seth Lipsky, Charles Kesler, Sally Pipes, Jay Nordlinger, Kevin Williamson, David Pryce-Jones, Nina Shea, and Adam Meyerson.

The sailing offers tours galore, and the fact that this is a just-us-conservatives NR charter means that there will be a very special camaraderie. So how to get complete information? You can visit to find all the information you will need. If you prefer to speak to an actual living breathing someone, do call the good folks at The Cruise and Vacation Authority (M–F, 9AM–5PM, Eastern) at 1-844-754-4566.

And about one of those speakers — this week, my dear pal Amity Shlaes, author of bestsellers like The Forgotten Man and Coolidge: This week her new work of genius, Great Society: A New History, hit the bookstores. Alan Greenspan (yes, that Alan Greenspan) sad that the book “is an accurate history that reads like a novel, covering the high hopes and catastrophic missteps of our well-meaning leaders.”

I’d argue with his meaning of “well-meaning,” but he is right — the book is an important work of history that tells the truth of a moment when our LBJ’d government grew in size and dreamed socialist dreams. Do get a copy (we’re going to discuss it on the Rhine!).

If You Were Hungering for Links to 19 Terrific National Review Articles, You Are in Luck!

1. The promised Kyle Smith reflection on Candidate Warren’s latest plan and cause — eradicating traffic violence — might be something that only a figure not of this planet or galaxy might conjure up (the result of a poll conducted by an extra-asteroidal James Carville?). From the piece:

“Traffic violence” is quite a phrase. In the end, it may be all that anyone remembers of Warren’s decreasingly persuasive but increasingly eccentric campaign. In this bold new framing, cars are not the principal way Americans get around, with fatalities being an unfortunate but blessedly rare occurrence (one per 100,000,000 vehicle miles traveled, a rate that is down more than 80 percent in my lifetime). No, to Warren, cars are instruments of violence like, I don’t know, nunchucks or fuel-injected guillotines, and so she issues her clarion tweet to #EndTrafficViolence. So, right now, November 18, 2019, “it’s time” for us to zero out deaths from cars? How? On what planet?

I ask because I think there is a reason Warren keeps proposing ideas that are so obviously misconceived, impractical, or downright bonkers on planet Earth. She is from some other. An extraterrestrial species from the Nebulon-631 star cluster sent her down to mess with us, to see how far a barely disguised alien life form could rise to power on earth, but here’s the fun detail: The Nebulonians are not a superior life form. In fact, they’re a bit thick. Nebulon’s visionaries and seers, its éminences grises and starchy mandarins, mostly attended Nebulese community colleges on volleyball scholarships but dropped out in the first semester grousing about undue homework burdens.

This is why it’s so amusing watching the Harvard-stamped youth at a place such as Vox write stories like “Elizabeth Warren’s Reasonable and Well-Thought Plan to Raise Taxes by Eleventy Bajillion Dollars but Totally Without Taxing Any Vox Readers, Explained.” You have to do some microdosing or practice rhetorical yoga to convince yourself that an obvious case of interplanetary trolling actually holds together on any level.

2. More on Liz Lunacy: economist Michael Strain nails her wealth-tax scheme for being drastic and unethical. From the Corner post:

Senator Warren would impose a 2 percent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and a 6 percent annual tax on wealth above $1 billion.

These numbers may seem small, but remember that they would be applied every year. With wealth taxes, small numbers have large effects. Applied to an asset yielding a steady return of 1.8 percent (roughly what you’d get from a 10-year Treasury note), a 6 percent wealth tax is the equivalent of a 333 percent income tax.

If Senator Warren’s wealth tax had been in effect since 1982, Warren Buffett’s 2018 net worth would have been $14.5 billion, rather than the $88.3 billion it actually was. Jeff Bezos would have had about one-third of his current wealth. Bill Gates’s wealth would have been 81 percent less.

3. Kevin Williamson pounces on Marco Rubio’s advocacy of common-good capitalism and Elizabeth Warren’s call for “accountable capitalism” as immoral. From the critique:

This is a time of great forgetting, and one of the things that has been forgotten is why we have a federal government and what it is there to do.

From Senator Marco Rubio and his “common-good capitalism” to Senator Elizabeth Warren and her “accountable capitalism,” politicians right and left who want politicians to have more power over private economic decisions assume a dilemma in which something called “capitalism” must be balanced against or made subordinate to something called the “common good.” This is the great forgetful stupidity of our time.

Capitalism is not a rival to the common good. Capitalism, meaning security in one’s own property and in the right to work and to trade, is the common good that governments exist to secure.

The U.S. government exists to see to the liberty of the American people. That is it. That is its only reason for being. It is an instrument and a convenience, the purpose of which is to ensure that Americans are able to enjoy their liberty and property — liberty and property being overlapping concepts.

What is contemplated by Senator Rubio and Senator Warren — along with a few batty adherents of the primitive nonidea known in Catholic circles as “integralism” and everywhere else more forthrightly as “totalitarianism” — is to invert the purpose of the U.S. government. Protecting Americans against those who would use force to curtail their liberty and take control of their property for their own ends is the duty of government; Rubio, Warren, et al. would have the government become the party that curtails Americans’ liberty and takes control of their property for its own ends. Which is to say, in the name of the “common good,” they would organize an assault on the actual common good the U.S. government was in fact constituted to protect. This account isn’t fringe libertarianism — it’s right there in the founding documents.

Related: As referenced in the last episode of The Weekend Jolt, David Harsanyi leveled the first critique of the Rubio speech, which you can find here.

4. Declan Leary decides to have Rubio’s back and take to task the Senator’s critics. From his piece:

The statistics Harsanyi cites to support capitalism’s progress in quality of life show only that we are better off than we were at the end of the 19th century. It is true that more companies are now offering paid parental leave than ever before, but the very concept of “parental leave” is necessitated only by the two-job households and the separation of productive work from the home and family that have resulted from largely unbridled capitalism. He writes that American workers have more free time than they once did, without recognizing that the 19th century (his point of comparison) was a time of extraordinarily grueling work trends when compared with earlier periods, as Boston College sociologist Juliet Schor has shown. That capitalism at the present moment is doing better than capitalism at its very worst is not a very good argument against attempts to rein in capitalism’s excesses.

Coarse-grained economic statistics do not resolve the debate. Of course the economy responds to different policies in different ways. But one could certainly dispute the importance of GDP growth against falling leisure time, disintegrating families, and rotting culture — as Rubio rightly does. That we might introduce policies to support family life and other areas of concern, even if they come at the expense of certain economic indicators, should not be unthinkable to conservatives.

5. Oh yeah?! David Harsanyi hits back. From his rebuttal:

I don’t think it’s worth cataloging the scores of strawmen wandering around Declan Leary’s piece defending Marco Rubio’s illiberal turn. (I’ve written extensively elsewhere on the array of improvements markets have afforded Americans over the past 40 years, if anyone is interested.) But some thoughts hit me while reading it:

1. Though the anti-capitalists have near-religious certitude that consumerism, open markets, and new technologies are corroding the nation’s soul, they don’t really have a coherent policy agenda to combat the scourge that is modernity — at least not one they’re willing to share. My naïve position is clear: economic policy should maximize economic freedom, so that most Americans can compete and thrive in an open marketplace that provides them with goods and services that allow them to live freer, healthier, more meaningful lives. How they define meaning is up to them.

The unanswered question is: What kind of policy does Rubio believe will bring back the halcyon days of the 18th century, when men spent their 40-odd years on Earth as models of probity, engaging in the dignified and productive work of tilling the land? What menu of economic reforms does Rubio propose will heal the frayed family? What laws will we pass to impel women to stay home and have more children? How will inhibiting international trade and forcing companies to invest in unproductive manufacturing jobs, as Rubio suggests, stop men from watching their cheap televisions and attending mass again? I submit it would take a New Deal–type effort in social engineering to “reimagine” the entire economy. Is that what Rubio wants?

6. Then Kevin Williamson wonders loudly about Declan’s knowledge of farming. From his Corner post:

One of the few truly general laws of human behavior is that subsistence farmers given the choice will choose almost any other occupation. The farmers were not driven off their land in the United States. They left as quickly as they could. They have done the same in India, China, Mexico, and practically every other place in the world in which economic development liberated people from the privation and misery of low-capital farming. My parents and grandparents picked cotton, and I can inform you that “dignity” was not among their leading motivations — desperation and the specter of hunger were.

7. But then Michael Brendan Dougherty weighs in, thematically, against KDW’s Rubio-et-al. criticisms. From the piece:

On matters of Church and state, Williamson puts Thomas Jefferson, President John Adams, and liberty on one side, and the abyss of Josef Ratzinger, Ahmari, Il Duce, and the common good on the other. Government, Williamson informs us, is “not a fitting instrument of moral instruction,” and we should not invest “mere political functionaries with the power of moral compulsion.” Williamson implies that such ambitions are pharaonic — they had to be humbled by ten plagues for the lesson to settle in that we should not put our trust in princes.

Williamson believes the only proper object of government is securing liberty. Liberty to do what is presumably the next question. But I presume he would object if some enthusiastic God-botherer like Ahmari tried to write into an American constitution a directive about “the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.” Or even worse, if such a constitution said that “the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality” and made provision for the government to intervene when people don’t set up “the institution of public worship of God” voluntarily. This is precisely what the President Adams put near the top of the constitution that he wrote for Massachusetts.

Does Williamson believe that the Massachusetts of 1780 was a fascist state? Does he think Adams’s provision that the institution of public worship be made by the government (where it wasn’t volunteered) led to jackboots? I seriously doubt it. On the other hand, the current Massachusetts Supreme Court believes that Adams hid the concept of same sex-marriage within the same constitution. People claim to believe anything when expedient. But if Massachusetts wasn’t a prison house in 1780, then maybe just maybe we’re exaggerating the enmity between the Founders and concepts like “the common good.”

8. To quote the great Billy Mays, “But I’m not done yet:” Daniel Tenreiro looks East towards Japan and realizes there is something to learn in its industrial policy that applies to L’Affaire Rubio. From the beginning of the commentary:

Industrial policy is back in vogue. On November 5, Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) gave a speech at the Catholic University of America decrying the decline of American manufacturing. Rubio argued that shareholder primacy — whereby a corporation’s primary goal is to maximize value for its owners — caused the decline, and that American capitalism should instead focus on the “common good.” By this he meant that the federal government should promote high-paying, stable employment by investing in manufacturing.

Over the weekend, Sridhar Kota and Tom Mahoney sounded a similar tune in the Wall Street Journal. Kota and Mahoney, researchers at MForesight, a think tank dedicated to the study of advanced manufacturing, argued that outsourcing manufacturing jobs has led to a decline in innovation. “Once manufacturing departs from a country’s shores, engineering and production know-how leaves as well, and innovation ultimately follows,” they argue, citing increases in the foreign share of manufacturing research and development (R&D).

In concurrence with Rubio, Kota and Mahoney call for an “Industrial Policy 2.0,” which would boost domestic R&D and mandate that innovative hardware be manufactured domestically. This proposal echoes that of the Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass, who has spent the past two years advocating a renewal of American manufacturing.

9. As John Fund observes, leftward-bound Michael Bloomberg was stopped and frisked on the way to entering the Democratic presidential primaries. The Soda Hater has lost his fizz. From the piece:

We now know Michael Bloomberg is going to run for president. He’s turning himself into a pander bear.

During his three terms as New York City’s mayor, Bloomberg was famous for dismissing politically correct criticism and refusing to apologize for it.

But there he was on Sunday at an African-American megachurch in Brooklyn saying he was sorry for the stop-and-frisk policy he used so successfully to break the back of crime and reduce the murder rate in New York City by 50 percent.

Under stop-and-frisk, police officers were authorized to search people if they were suspected of illegal activity while carrying a weapon. Critics said the practice was disproportionately used against blacks and Hispanics. After Bloomberg left office in 2013, a judge ruled that the tactic had been used unconstitutionally. Bloomberg denounced the decision of Bill de Blasio, his successor as mayor, to dramatically reduce stop-and-frisk.

10. Victor Davis Hanson says Adam Schiff doesn’t have enough tics to toc in his impeachment clock. From the piece:

From the day Schiff reemerged after his licking his wounds in hibernation, following the Mueller implosion, his efforts have insidiously gone downhill. Once Trump released the transcript of his July 25th call with Ukrainian president Zelensky, the nation learned that the Schiff’s gold-standard whistleblower was no such thing. Instead, he seems a rank partisan and sloppy leaker whose machinations and background are already boomeranging back on those who put him up to this present circus.

Schiff never expected that Trump would release a classified transcript of his own presidential call — Democrats expected secrecy and coverup, much as the deep-state intelligence-agency miscreants acted unethically and illegally on the presumption that Hillary Clinton would be easily elected and their dishonest efforts would be rewarded and kept quiet.

One of the strangest developments of the opening inquiry was Schiff’s own doubling-down admission that he didn’t know the name of the whistleblower. After previously lying that neither he nor his staff had contact with the whistleblower (“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower”) — he now ups the ante, apparently assuming that neither his staff nor the whistleblower will testify under oath.

Schiff’s astounding assertion that he doesn’t know the whistleblower’s name is as hard to believe as Robert Mueller’s own congressional testimony that he was not familiar with Fusion GPS — the font of the entire Steele dossier that itself fueled the collusion fantasy that led to Mueller’s own appointment.

11. More Schiff: Andy McCarthy says that the Impeachment Czar needs to learn a thing or three about “bribery.” From the analysis:

The Framers made “Treason, Bribery, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” the triggers for impeachment. Obviously, they were referring to bribery of a high order, on the scale of treason. The latter offense involves making war on the U.S., including giving the enemy aid and comfort. Enemies are foreign powers with which we are at war. The Framers, however, were worried that other foreign powers — even ones with which we are at peace — could corrupt an American president. Bribery was meant to fill that gap. It made impeachment available if a president was bribed by a foreign power to put the might of the United States in the service of the foreign power at the expense of the American people.

Schiff and the Democrats would reject this construction of bribery in the Constitution. Their position is that if it’s bribery under the federal statute, that’s good enough to impeach a president.

But is that really what they think?

On Wednesday, Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified about the two afore-described “official acts” that the Ukrainians sought from President Trump. Sondland said he could only be sure about one of them: the White House visit. As for the second, Sondland could only “deduce” that Trump was holding back on the defense aid to nudge Ukraine into announcing the investigations. Over time, Sondland inferred that the aid was being delayed and worried that it might not be transferred. He directly asked President Trump, who exclaimed that there was “no quid pro quo” — though this was less than convincing: Trump continued to insist that he wanted to Zelensky to do what was “right,” and Sondland understood that the aid was caught in a “stalemate” that could be undone only if it announced it would do the investigations.

Democrats spent most of Sondland’s hours of testimony pushing him very hard on this second official act, the provision of defense aid. Schiff and majority counsel, Daniel Goldman, repeatedly walked Sondland through the timeline and got him to agree that he’d “put two and two together.” Why the vigorous effort to induce an admission (which Sondland could not give) that the aid was absolutely conditional on the investigations?

12. More VDH: Once upon a Reset . . . the Good Professor watches the hearings and compares the Democrats’ Obama-Years sheepishness toward Putin to their current fierceness over the Trump Administration’s antithesis. From the analysis:

But Trump’s 2017–19 record stands in stark contrast to all of the above: Pulling out of an asymmetrical anti-missile deal, arming the Ukrainians with lethal aid, defeating and killing Russian mercenaries in Syria, beefing up U.S. defense, jawboning NATO to rearm, opposing energy deals between Germany and Russia, and pushing for more U.S. gas and oil production and exports that stabilized or lowered global export prices. Are these witnesses going to criticize Trump’s “unfair” dismantling of Obama’s Russian reset on grounds that he knew Putin had tried to sabotage his campaign via having Russian operatives seeding Christopher Steele’s phony dossier? . . .

Many of the witnesses are fine public servants, but their current and frequently expressed discontent over Trump’s Ukraine policy would find a more credible audience had they shown the prior courage to disagree with a past president popular within the ranks of the Washington bureaucracy who nonetheless did a lot of damage to Ukraine, by empowering Vladimir Putin and failing to adopt the measures that Trump rather quickly embraced and implemented.

There are two constants in these entire hearings: presumptions, assumptions, and conjectures from civil servant A about what civil servant B said or thought, and outrage at a temporary delay in lethal military juxtaposed by past silence over its prior nonexistence — which explains why what was born with a bang is ending with a whimper.

13. Michael Brendan Dougherty took in Senator Josh Hawley’s speech critiquing what life has become for too many Americas. He finds much that is persuasive. From the analysis:

Missouri senator Josh Hawley might be the most interesting thinker the U.S. Senate has seen since Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Or at least, he’s the senator today who most resembles Moynihan as a sweeping and adventurous social critic.

Last night, at a dinner held by the American Principles Project Foundation, Hawley gave a remarkable speech. Like most good political speeches, it was straightforward and accessible. But unlike most good political speeches, it was also a searing piece of cultural criticism, an indictment of America’s economic and social arrangements. This is notable because at the moment, the president of the United States — a man who happens to belong to Hawley’s party — is touting the unparalleled success of the American economy.

14. Pete Buttigieg is having problems relating to black Democrat voters. Jim Geraghty looks at the prexy wannabe’s flubs. From the analysis:

Buttigieg’s recent outreach to African Americans was painfully awkward. His campaign sought out Democratic figures to sign on in support of his “Douglass Plan for Black America” and then put out a release that left the impression they were endorsing Buttigieg’s presidential bid. Of the 297 names of figures registered to vote in South Carolina, at least 42 percent were white. Then the media determined that the photo of a black woman smiling at a young black boy that had been splashed for weeks across the web page detailing Buttigieg’s plan to combat racial inequality . . . depicted a woman and boy from Kenya. Buttigieg himself didn’t pick out the photo, but it reinforced an existing tone-deaf image.

Think of the sorts of Democratic voters who are wowed by Buttigieg so far — gays, the donor class, the meritocratic elites in Manhattan or California — and now compare them with African Americans living in the South Carolina cities of Marion (median income $31,725), Orangeburg ($27,564), or Dillon ($38,344). Do you think Buttigieg’s résumé of Harvard University, Oxford, and McKinsey Consulting is automatically going to impress them? Or do you think they might see his life experience as quite different from theirs? Note that in the Quinnipiac poll, 32 percent of black likely primary voters said “someone who cares about people like you” is the most important quality they seek in a candidate.

At 37, Buttigieg is the youngest candidate, and whether or not you concur with President Trump’s assessment that he looks like Alfred E. Neuman, he looks young, and it doesn’t help that he’s roughly five feet, eight inches tall. Buttigieg is seeking the support of voters older than him. In 2016, almost two-thirds of the people who voted in the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina were over age 45.

15. James Knight says that we need to refamiliarize ourselves with, and embrace, the Ninth Amendment. From the piece:

The inclusion of an amendment dictating constitutional interpretation is a result of serious worries among the founding generation that a Bill of Rights would actually lead to less liberty, not more. James Wilson, one of the Constitution’s drafters, argued that a Bill of Rights would endanger liberty by implying that any rights left off the list were unprotected. Because it would be impossible to list all the rights that a person holds, it was better not to have a Bill of Rights at all. Instead, he argued, the Constitution protected liberty by carefully limiting the powers held by the government.

The Ninth Amendment was the compromise measure. By clarifying that listing certain rights did not mean that other rights were less protected, the drafters thought that they had covered all of their bases. The rights listed in the first ten amendments would be protected, but so would those that were not listed. That was important, because the rights listed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights amendments are hardly comprehensive. Notably left off the list is the principal right asserted in the Declaration of Independence: the right to “alter or abolish” an unjust and abusive government. This and other rights were included in the Bills of Rights of many state constitutions, but they were not explicitly listed in the Bill of Rights amendments to the national Constitution. The Ninth Amendment ensured that these rights would not be demoted to second-class status, as people like James Wilson had feared.

The Ninth Amendment has grown only more important over time. Though the protections of the Bill of Rights amendments originally applied only to the federal government, the 14th Amendment has been interpreted to apply those protections against state governments as well (although which part of the 14th Amendment does this remains the subject of considerable debate). The Ninth Amendment’s interpretive rule applies here too, foreclosing the argument that only the rights specifically listed in the Bill of Rights are enforceable against the states.

16. Armond White checks out Scott Burns’ The Report and finds it to be an effort in moral superiority. From the review:

As a movie, The Report repeats the same snide perspective as Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure, but it’s less showy. Burns lacks a sense of urgency, so the movie feels like something that sat on a shelf since 2004. (Only Obama’s detached voice on a speaker phone seems fresh — his detachment is hilarious.) Its ancient history seems especially untimely given how recent events have forced the public to be perhaps even more cynical than Vice Media about the CIA and the deep state. (A subplot about Obama’s CIA head John Brennan — played by Ted Levine who was Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs — is a surprising inclusion made even more baffling when its revelation of obstreperous Brennan defending his agency’s covert actions goes nowhere. This view of Brennan seems stuck in a time warp.)

Filmed in nearly monochrome drabness as if Burns chose a cliché documentary visual style, The Report looks like nostalgia for that period after George W. Bush won the election when the media felt American guilt was to blame for 9/11 and so could comfortably — brazenly — call Bush stupid as if it was a matter of fact, not vitriol, and without getting clapped back.

17. Safe, Uber-Legal, and Frequent: Alexandra DeSanctis watches the Dem prexy debate and sees a cabal of unfettered-abortion worshippers. From the commentary:

Neither has it occurred to the many Democratic politicians who now promise to “codify Roe” that, aside from being outside the purview of the president and perhaps even Congress, doing so would implement a more-restrictive abortion policy than the one currently in place. Unlike the Supreme Court’s 1992 “undue burden” ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which now sets the judicial standard for challenges to state abortion laws, Roe granted that states had a compelling interest in protecting fetal life later in pregnancy.

That is a premise that few Democratic politicians remain willing to concede, and they proved it again in Wednesday evening’s debate. After Klobuchar insisted that “the women of America” will support Democrats in 2020 because Trump is wrong on abortion — ignoring that American women, including Democratic women, tend to support abortion restrictions at a higher rate than men do — Maddow went on to ask a more interesting question.

“Just this weekend, Louisiana reelected a Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards. He has signed one of the country’s toughest laws restricting abortion,” Maddow said, referring to Louisiana’s heartbeat bill, which would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually between six and eight weeks’ gestation. “Is there room in the Democratic party for someone like him, someone who can win in a deep-red state but who does not support abortion rights?” she asked Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

“I believe that abortion rights are human rights,” Warren replied. “And protecting the right of a woman to be able to make decisions about her own body is fundamentally what we do and what we stand for as a Democratic party.”

But neither Warren nor Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who dealt with the same question after her, was willing to directly answer the question, despite Maddow’s posing it a second time and asking Warren to be specific. Perhaps that’s because they know they don’t need to give a real answer.

18. More on this: Josh J. Cradock sees a historic precursor to the new love for abortion. From his piece:

The Democratic party’s new defense of abortion on grounds of morality rather than necessity is eerily reminiscent of the transformation in Southern views on slavery between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Founding generation tolerated slavery as a “necessary evil,” mindful of the tension between chattel slavery and the Declaration of Independence, with its assertion of equal human dignity and God-given rights. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote in 1774 that “the abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state.” The Founders supposed slavery to be on the path toward extinction and employed circumlocution to avoid mentioning that “peculiar institution” in the Constitution itself.

The Spirit of ’76 quickly began to fade, however, as southerners argued that, “instead of an evil,” slavery was, in the words of as John C. Calhoun, “a good — a positive good.” Over the next several decades, culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, the “positive good” school of thought became predominant. William Harper, who drafted South Carolina’s Nullification Ordinance of 1832, argued that slavery benefited both slave and master and that it constituted the essential basis for the formation of civilization. George Fitzhugh, a sociologist and lawyer, claimed that slavery was not only justifiable but actually economically superior to the Northern free-labor market. He predicted that slavery would eventually spread throughout the country. Responding to such facile defenses of slavery, Abraham Lincoln observed that “although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself!” (Perhaps President Ronald Reagan had these words in mind when he quipped, “I’ve noticed that everybody who is for abortion has already been born.”)

19. More Armond: He puts the pedal to the metal and revs up the praise for Ford v Ferrari. From the beginning of the review:

There’s a MAGA moment in Ford v Ferrari when the British-immigrant auto mechanic and race-car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) stops being a loner and decides to be a team player. He slows down on the track to let the other American drivers on his team join him so they can cruise across the finish line together. This “bringing them in” scene turns out to be Miles’s undoing, relegating him to forgotten history, but it’s one of the few scenes in Ford v Ferrari that audiences unapologetically enjoy; they respond to it as part of their natural, national, car-culture heritage.

Conservatives should pay attention to any element in a Hollywood film that supports their political and moral beliefs. Ford v Ferrari provides that sustenance. Director James Mangold dramatizes the 1964 competition in the 24-hour race at Le Mans, distilled to a three-man alliance of Miles; his mentor, the veteran driver Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who had previously raced Le Mans in 1957; and entrepreneur Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts). They bring the Ford Racing Team up to the level of its faster, sleekly engineered European contenders.

The America First implications of Ford v Ferrari can’t be ignored. After the big-screen spectacle and vibrant sound design of revved-up motors and cheering crowds, Mangold swerves into quasi-political points about character. His best scenes show the way ambitious men commit themselves. It’s not about “toxic masculinity,” as producer Jane Rosenthal described Scorsese’s The Irishman (to make it seem progressive). Instead, he revels in high-speed, high-pressure contexts where egotism, expertise, and privilege vie for domination.

Carroll had retired from racing for health reasons but comes alive when he challenges Ford for sponsorship. In turn, the industrialist commands the gladiator: “Go ahead, Carroll. Go to war!” Their jingoistic vernacular is personal.

There’s a New Issue of NR Hot Off the Presses, and You Really Need to Read the Cover Story

The December 9, 2019, issue is now available on NRO, and if you A) are not yet an NRPLUS subscriber who has B) already blown through the limited number of magazine-article freebies we permit each month, then you can C) have a crack at the new edition. And here are four selections you might want to check out, but I have to tell you: The first one is a must-read.

1. There is this insane Texas case of a seven-year-old boy, James Younger, who is, per mom, “trans,” and who is being victimized by Progressives hell-bent on making scalpel-wielding doctors and lawyers and judges and bureaucrats conform to their ordained experiments and fantasies. Madeleine Kearns’s cover story is a masterful investigation of not only this case, but the ideological insanity running amok and victimizing kids just this side of being toddlers. From the beginning of the report:

His mother pulling him by the left arm, his father pulling him by the right, seven-year-old James Younger, dressed in a skirt, looks distressed and confused. His mom, Anne Georgulas, wins the struggle and rests him on her hip. His dad, Jeffrey Younger, calls 911. “Why?” asks James. “She was supposed to give me custody,” his father replies. A video recording of this incident, which occurred on March 8, 2018, at James’s elementary-school open house, was played before a jury in Texas last month. It is a larger symbol of how children such as James Younger have become pawns in the transgender debate.

The Younger case has gained much media attention, in the U.S. and beyond. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC all seem to cast the father as the villain, in particular for his refusal to agree that his child is transgender. Rolling Stone opines that the Younger story has become a “terrifying right-wing talking point.” Vox is worried about Republican state legislators’ trying to introduce bills prohibiting chemical and surgical interference with the sexual development of children who say they’re transgender, and “what [this] could mean for families nationwide” when “legislators want to have a say in whether Luna Younger should be allowed to socially transition.” For the Left, the Younger story is a tale of backwards attitudes victimizing a child.

In truth, it’s progressive attitudes that are victimizing the child, and James Younger is not an outlier. There are many more just like him, and some in even more dire straits. For years, the medical and legal establishments have been ignoring evidence and bending their standards to please transgender activists, some of whom are clinicians. There are three clinical approaches to helping children who exhibit symptoms of gender confusion. One involves a range of talk therapies and psychotherapies to address suspected underlying causes. A second, called “watchful waiting,” allows the child’s development to unfold as it will, which may mean that he chooses to transition later or not at all.

Then there is a third option—informed by an ideology according to which it is possible for a child to be “born in the wrong body.” In this option, clinical activists recommend a drastic response when a child expresses confusion about gender. First, parents should tell the child, however young, that he truly is the sex he identifies with. Second, parents should consider delaying his puberty through off-label uses of drugs that can have serious (and largely unstudied) side effects. Third, parents should consider giving their child the puberty experience of the opposite sex, through cross-sex hormonal injections and gels (which result in sterility). Finally, parents should consider goodnighting the surgical removal of their child’s reproductive organs.

Since there are no objective tests to confirm a transgender diagnosis, all of this is arbitrary and dependent on a child’s changeable feelings. To make aggressive treatment more acceptable, its advocates have come up with a media-friendly euphemism, “gender affirmation.” If it’s affirming, activists say, it’s also kindness, love, acceptance, and support. The opposite, trying to help a child feel more comfortable with his body, is a rejection: abuse, hatred, “transphobia,” or “conversion therapy” likely to lead to child suicide. This is a lie—a lie designed to obscure a critical truth: that neither a child, nor his parents on his behalf, can truly consent to experimental, life-altering, and irreversible treatments for which there is no evidentiary support.

2. Andy McCarthy explains yet again that impeachment is a decidedly political act. From the essay:

Bear in mind, too, the historical context. At the time the Constitution was adopted, there was no federal penal code as we know it today, much less a Justice Department and an FBI teeming with federal prosecutors and investigators. There was no notion that potential grounds for impeachment would be scrutinized by special counsels and grand juries, or that an impeached president would be treated as the equivalent of an accused and entitled to something like a fair trial before an impartial jury, with all the due-process protections mandated by the Sixth Amendment.

Impeachment and removal were, instead, assigned to the political branches of government. The power to impeach—i.e., to formally allege articles of impeachment—was given exclusively to the House. There is no judicial oversight; no court may instruct the people’s representatives on what qualifies as an impeachable offense or how to conduct the process of alleging one.

The Framers gave some thought to vesting the Supreme Court—or some similarly high-ranking judicial body drawn from state courts—with the power to try impeachments. Yet the idea was quickly dismissed, again because of impeachment’s political nature.

As Hamilton explains in Federalist No. 65, those making the fraught decision of whether to oust an official from public office should “never be tied down by such strict rules, either in the delineation of the offense by the prosecutor, or in the construction of it by judges, as in the common cases serve to limit the discretion of courts.” The Senate, to be composed of distinguished Americans whose six-year terms rendered them less vulnerable to the whims of popular sentiment than House members (who face voters every two years), was deemed the best forum for impeachment trials. Senators would be better suited to exercise the “awful discretion” of deciding whether “to doom to honor or to infamy” presidents and other high officials accused of disqualifying misconduct. The Senate was preferable to a judicial court also because it would bring numerous perspectives to a decision that, in its momentousness, must not be committed to “the trust” of “a small number of persons.”

3. Venice is flooding, and we all know why that is happening, and so does James Lileks, who in his latest “Athwart” fingers the guilty. From the column:

Start with the most obvious cause for the Venice floods: your hamburger. As totally moderate non-crazy right–down–the–middle–of–Main Street Pete Buttigieg said, if you’re eating a hamburger, you’re “part of the problem” when it comes to climate change.

Of course, no one is talking about hamburger confiscation; that’s wacko talk. We just want sensible regulation— a ban on private hamburger transfers (previously known as inviting friends over for a weekend BBQ), an end to the drive-through loophole, and restrictions on a hamburger’s diameter and thickness. Does anyone really need a ¾lb. patty for personal use? Are you telling me that your “right” to a hamburger somehow trumps the right of schoolchildren in Venice to get an education without fear of drowning? Are you aware that there weren’t even hamburgers when the Constitution was written?

As for the gas stove, it’s the next target for elimination, because it uses gas. The Left, if they get control of everything, would ban it from new manufacture nationwide and then ban its replacement and ownership. (Also, Trump is an authoritarian.) If someone in Montana or Florida or Seattle says, “But I prefer gas,” you can only roll your eyes: The citizens of Venice would prefer not to be rescued by helicopter from the roof of the Campanile, but here we are, pal.

4. In his book, The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, author Nicholas Buccola takes it to our founder. In his review, Alvin Felzenberg takes it to Buccola. From the review:

Buccola delivers a highly readable and accurate account of what Baldwin and Buckley said at Cambridge, as well as a succinct summary of the two men’s philosophies—at least up to the time of their exchange. While he does quote Buckley later expressing regret that he did not endorse civil-rights and voting-rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 (“I once believed that we could evolve our way up from Jim Crow. I was wrong. Federal intervention was necessary.”), he does not believe that Buckley ever in his heart recanted his earlier views supporting racial segregation and the racial superiority of whites, as voiced in editorials he penned during National Review’s early years. Buccola fails to cite other of Buckley’s expressed regrets over his earlier stated views: his wish that NR “had taken a more transcendent position, which might have been done by advocating civil rights with appropriate safeguards” or his lamentation that conservatives had not been “more forceful in their advocacy of civil rights in the 1960s.”

“Racist,” “liar,” and “coward,” Buccola tells us, are words that came to Baldwin’s mind when he thought of Buckley. Obviously, Buccola thinks of Buckley the same way. In his acknowledgments, he informs readers that he came from a conservative family and, in his younger days, participated in Cato Institute summer camps and held an internship at the Heritage Foundation. Buccola assures his readers that his “study of history and political science” led him to “grow up from conservatism.”

So much for breaking new ground, let alone objectivity. Were Buckley able to read this admission, he might question the efficacy of conservative-oriented leadership-training programs. He might also recant advice he gave young admirers to read the introduction to his God and Man at Yale and skip the rest. Buckley might even pick up where he left off in that book, extending his examination of the teaching of economics and religion to include that of history and political science.

Buccola is more familiar with Baldwin’s total body of work than with Buckley’s. His book suffers from his failure to compensate for that weakness. In the course of 482 pages, readers discern that Buckley’s role in the book is to act as a foil against which Baldwin’s brilliance is allowed to shine.

The Six

1. At Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern profiles the fast growth of the Vox populist party in Spain. From the piece:

Spain’s populist party, Vox, more than doubled its seats in parliament after winning 3.6 million votes in general elections held on November 10. The fast-rising conservative party, which entered parliament for the first time only eight months ago, is now the third-largest party in Spain.

Vox leaders campaigned on a “traditional values” platform of law and order, love of country and a hardline approach to anti-constitutional separatists in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

Vox’s meteoric rise is a direct result of the political vacuum created by the mainstream center-right Popular Party, which in recent years has drifted to the left on a raft of domestic and foreign policy issues, including that of uncontrolled mass migration.

The Socialist Party won the election with 28% of the vote — far short of an outright majority. The Popular Party won 20.8% and Vox won 15.1%. The rest of the votes went to a dozen other parties ranging from the far-left party Podemos (9.8%), the centrist libertarian party Ciudadanos (6.8%), Basque and Catalan nationalist parties and a hodge-podge of regional parties from Aragón, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Galicia, Melilla and Navarra. In all, more than a dozen political parties are now represented in parliament.

Spain has had a multi-party system since the country emerged from dictatorship in 1975, but two parties, the Socialist Party and the Popular Party, predominated until the financial crisis in 2008. After it, both parties underwent ideological splits that resulted in the establishment of breakaway parties.

The fragmentation of Spanish politics has made it difficult to form a coalition government: the November election was the fourth in four years. In the election held in April 2019, Vox won 2.6 million votes, or 10.3%, and entered Parliament for the first time with 24 seats. In the November vote, Vox won nearly a million additional votes and will now have 52 seats in Parliament.

2. At Media Research Center’s Newsbusters, Rich Noyes reports on the MSM’s overwhelming anti-Trump tone in its impeachment coverage. From the piece:

Secret Sources: With most of the developments behind closed doors, the majority of the networks’ impeachment coverage has been based on secret leaks from anonymous sources. Out of 172 news reports, a large majority (59%) relied on unnamed sources for their facts about the impeachment probe. This is slightly higher than when we first checked in late October, when 57 percent of impeachment stories used anonymous sources.

Even Negative Spin on Baghdadi Death: Only two other Trump administration topics have been granted much airtime since the inquiry began: the successful U.S. mission that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (45 minutes before it faded from the newscasts), and the earlier decision of the President to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria (121 minutes).

The withdrawal of U.S. forces was given witheringly (98%) negative coverage on all three networks, whose journalists routinely framed it as “abandoning” an ally (the Syrian Kurds) in the fight against ISIS.

But while media coverage of the U.S. mission against al-Baghdadi was mostly positive, the President’s role in it was not. Out of nine evaluative statements about the President himself, two-thirds (67%) were negative. These focused on his refusal to brief congressional leaders, as well as his belittling description of the cruel ISIS leader’s last moments (“He died like a dog….He died like a coward….Whimpering, screaming and crying.”)

“It’s possible that President Trump’s bellicose language about the manner in which he died could actually inspire some ISIS fighters to retaliate,” NBC’s Courtney Kube speculated on the October 27 Nightly News.

3. At the Wall Street Journal, the Manhattan Institute’s Jonathan Lesser takes on the climate-change crusade to ban natural gas hookups in new construction (there goes your stove). From his argument:

Those seeking to ban natural-gas hookups in new buildings say it will reduce local pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions, while saving end users money. Some also point to safety benefits: Fewer natural-gas lines means less potential damage during earthquakes.

When you compare the benefits and costs of such policies, however, you will find that their claims have little or no merit.

For starters, if consumers had an economic incentive to use electricity instead of natural gas, there would be no need for bans in the first place. With these kinds of analyses the devil is in the details, and one small detail is that in areas where natural gas is available, it is generally less costly to burn natural gas directly in homes and buildings for things like heating and cooking than to rely on electricity to provide equivalent end-use service.

Consider California, the state at the forefront of natural-gas-hookup bans. Last year, the average price of natural gas in California was about $12.30 per million British thermal units (a measure of the heat content of the fuel), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For a homeowner with a new, 95% efficiency natural-gas furnace or water heater, that translates into a cost of just under $13 per million BTUs.

Compare that with the cost of electricity, which averaged 18.84 cents a kilowatt-hour in California in 2018, about 50% higher than the national average. That works out to $55 per million BTUs, more than four times the cost of natural gas. Even heat pumps for space and water heating can’t bridge that gap.

4. More WSJ: Bill McGurn blasts the Left’s attacks on Asian-Americans. From the column:

Asian-Americans have finally made it in America. How do we know? Not from their wealth or educational achievements, but from the way progressives now target those in the community who believe people shouldn’t be judged by skin color. For in so doing, these Asian-Americans have exposed a growing fault line in affirmative-action orthodoxy.

The most recent occasion for progressive grievance comes courtesy of the state of Washington. There, Asian-Americans proved instrumental in killing a law that would have overturned a two-decade-old ban on racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting. To do this, Asian-Americans successfully rallied to force the law onto the ballot—and then defeated it. It’s a staggering achievement in a state that ranks among America’s bluest, and in a contest where the pro-affirmative-action side enjoyed more resources plus the support of the political establishment, including an Asian-American former governor.

The ballot referendum in Washington isn’t the first time Asian-Americans have rebelled against an attempt to sneak racial discrimination back into the law. Five years ago, when California considered a law that would have reversed its own ban on racial preferences, a backlash by the Asian-American community forced three Asian-American Democrats who had voted yes in the state Senate to switch sides—dooming the measure. In New York, Asian-Americans are now battling Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to increase the number of African-American and Latino kids at the city’s specialized high schools—at the expense of Asian-American children. Meanwhile, a high-profile lawsuit brought against Harvard for its race-based admissions preferences is likely to end up before the Supreme Court.

5. At Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple has the duty of reviewing David Cameron’s massive new memoir. It’s one of the best hit jobs (and a deserved one) since Sonny got stuck on the causeway. From the review:

No one could read David Cameron’s memoir in a single sitting. Once put down, the reader resumes only with reluctance and a sinking heart. I suspect that reviewers alone will – or could – read it through, and perhaps not even all of them. I found it difficult to stand more than 50 pages at a time, and whenever I restarted I recalled Thomas Babington Macaulay’s words in his review of a two-volume biography of Lord Cecil Burghley: “Compared with the labour of reading through these volumes, all other labour, the labour of thieves on the treadmill, of children in factories, of negroes in sugar plantations, is an agreeable recreation.”

For a man to have been at the peak of political power for six years and to have written a 700-page memoir without a single arresting thought or amusing anecdote, without giving any insight into the important people he has met, and without displaying any interest in, let alone knowledge of, history, philosophy or higher culture, is an achievement of a kind. If banality can startle, Mr. Cameron’s banality startles — because of the position he once occupied. The average barroom bore is Doctor Johnson by comparison. It is only in its vacuity that David Cameron’s memoir achieves significance. It thereby tells us something about both modern politics and the state of education in Britain: for in the latter respect, Mr. Cameron is the product of the elite of the elite. This in itself is reason for the profoundest pessimism.

Only at one point in the book does he come across as a man rather than as a shadow or ghost of a man. His first son was born severely handicapped, of a rare genetic disorder, and died at age six. Here Mr. Cameron writes with feeling, and there is a genuinely touching photograph of him cradling his son in his arms with evident and unaffected tenderness. Such a man, one feels, cannot be truly bad, however much his ascent to the top of the greasy pole must have entailed the exercise of considerable ruthlessness.

He writes in clichés, thinks in clichés, and leaves no cliché unused. The achievement of which he is most proud is the legalization of homosexual marriage in Britain, but the justification that he gives for this measure is worthy of greetings-card poetry: love is love, he says.

6. In the recent issue of Commentary, Naomi Schaffer Riley dives into a new report on stay-at-home moms. From the piece:

When they opt back in, they do not want to return to their former employers. A national study found that only 5 percent of women sought to be rehired. Perhaps, as Stone and Lovejoy argue, it is because their former employers were so unyielding as to drive them out of the workplace to begin with. Or perhaps it’s because something about being at home with kids has changed their orientation. Romano tells them, “I felt like Sybil; you know I’m like trying to twist my head around to go from being, ‘I’ll scratch your eyes out over an eighth of a point’ to, you know, nurturing good mommy.”

Many of them instead decide to retool and launch themselves into professions that are entirely new or only tangentially related to what they did before. They go to work for nonprofits, schools, or philanthropies. Some have to go back to school but others are able to spin volunteer work into connections to new fields. Still more decide to consult part time in their previous fields. Generally speaking, they have little trouble relaunching their careers. A booming economy with low rates of unemployment probably helps.

And here’s the kicker. The women actually like these new jobs better. As the authors write: “While objectively, especially with regard to pay, security and benefits, their new jobs compared invidiously to their former ones, women were much more satisfied with work the second time around.” When the authors first interviewed them about their careers, “women most often indicated mixed feelings or moderate satisfaction, and fully two-thirds reported either low or moderate levels of satisfaction. Rating their current jobs, however, women are highly satisfied, two-thirds giving them the thumbs up.”

Which is great news. Right? Stone and Lovejoy have finally found the answer to the age-old question of what women want. Oh, not so fast, the authors claim. These women may have found some kind of individual happiness. But what about the sisterhood?

BONUS: In The New Criterion, Daniel Mahoney reviews the new English publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s March 1927: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 2. To say he praises it would be a rather massive understatement. From the review:

In a series of wonderfully crafted “Street Scenes” or “Fragments” throughout the book, Solzhenitsyn conveys a kind of demonic lawlessness that had possessed the revolutionary crowds. Ruffians shot at apartment buildings, responding to nonexistent police snipers. Police stations were burned with impunity. Good men—Colonel Balakshin, the head of a “wheeled Battalion,” and Captain Fergen, a courageous officer on leave from the front—were killed for no good reason. People with German-sounding names were targeted. Young, and not so young, nihilists, caught up in violence for its own sake, specialized in “picking off coppers” in the most brutal and mindless manner imaginable. Civilized characters, such as the monarchist historian Olda Andozerskaya, have no idea how to respond to this madness. When a revolutionary mob comes to her apartment, insanely looking for nonexistent snipers once more, she expresses her indignation. “You have no right!” she exclaims. An ensign who has gone over to the revolution revealingly replies “The revolution doesn’t ask for the right!” This is a portent of more terrible horrors to come down the line when Russia will succumb to full-fledged totalitarianism.

The insane are “liberated” from asylums and mix with the crowds. Two thousand criminals, among them murderers, are released from Butriki prison in Moscow, where revolution has also taken hold. Amid this collective (literal!) madness, the revolutionary Soviet issues Order No. 1 and sends it to all army units by telegram. The army is democratized overnight, and soldiers are effectively told not to obey orders from officers. And all of this in the midst of war, as more than a few responsible souls opine in the course of the work. Even the saluting of officers is forbidden in this display of anarchistic reveries which will soon give way to the iron discipline of totalitarian “order.”

Meanwhile, those working to save the revolution from a dramatic leap to the left are ineffectual at best. Alexander Guchkov, the old Octobrist and monarchist who is at odds with the Tsar and who tried for months to organize a coup to save the monarchy, attempts to restore order in military units without real effect. Miliukov, the Kadet leader who becomes Foreign Minister in the Provisional Government, is shouted down by a revolutionary mob which wants to know “who elected you?” A rather good question, one might add. In a series of chapters Solzhenitsyn paints a devastating portrait of Alexander Kerensky, a revolutionary windbag overcome by limitless vanity—a man of the Left with a Napoleon Complex, and one whose hatred of the Tsar and the Old Regime prevents him from really resisting the new totalitarianism emerging on the left. Prince Georgi Lvov, the head of the local zemstvo council movement, will become the first Prime Minister of the powerless and unbelievably ineffective Provisional Government. He is a lightweight of the first order, and is utterly unable to rule or move souls from the first hours of his time at the Tauride Palace. A more ineffectual and pathetic leader could not be imagined.


When Joe Nuxhall took the mound for the Reds on a June Saturday in 1944, he would be setting a record, if you will, as the youngest player in baseball history: He was, famously, 15 — not old enough to have a drivers license, and mere weeks from having pitched to local little leaguers. Little known is the bloodbath Nuxhall was part of in the Reds’ staggering 18–0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals: Brought in to end the game in the top of the ninth, his Reds already behind 13–0, Nuxhall got two outs . . . and then the wheels came off the bus. He served up five walks, threw a wild pitch, and two singles, allowing five more Cardinal runs.

For another eight years, Nuxhall’s career ERA was 67.50, and he bounced around the minors. And then in 1952, an old man at the age of 23, Nuxhall found himself called up to the Big Time. But his first game back in the Majors was another 18-run blowout loss: Against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on May 21, 1952, the Reds gave up 15 runs in the first inning (Pee Wee Reese got up three times, walking twice and hitting a single, driving in two runs). By the eighth, the Reds now trailing 19–1, Nuxhall came in to end the madness. He did: The Dodgers went down one-two-three.

In 1966, some 22 years after he first threw his first Major League pitch, Nuxhall was still slinging his curve for the Reds (he had returned to Cincinnati after brief turns in Kansas City and Los Angeles). The two-time All Star (he held the AL scoreless over three innings in the 1955 contest) had his last great performance on August 29 against the Cardinals. It was a complete-game, three-hit shutout, and the final victory of Nuxhall’s storied, 135–117 career.

A Dios

This was completed (mostly) a day earlier than usual as Your Incompetent Correspondent was to be in transit. Still, it is copious, abundant, a horn of conservative plenty, given the slim pickings ahead: Next week’s WJ will likely be a small affair, completed and filed even sooner than usual, so that Editor Phil can have time to travel, visit, and digest his turkey. Some day he will leave this behind — no doubt one day he will be a Supreme Court justice — and when that happens, well, Yours Truly will weep. But for now, the obligation is to be thankful. For Phil and for so many other things. This coming Thursday, please do what you can — it might take ignoring your dim-witted leftist niece or lowering the volume when you respond to your tipsy Bernie-loving Cousin Lenny — to ensure a special day of prayerful appreciation (literally, prayerful) for the blessings of liberty we enjoy in this place named after an Italian cartographer. Enjoy it while you can, because the vandals are trying to storm the gates.

God’s Blessings on You and Your Family and These United States of America,

Jack Fowler, who can be sent cures for turkey-related gastrological events at

National Review

Coup Coup Kachoo


Dear WJ Aficionado,

Lots of folks, colleagues included, are commenting on the language being used to describe the ongoing impeachment circus (see – there’s one!). God bless them all. Now, admitting that the opinion of this Dimwitted Epistolarian shouldn’t matter to you a wit or what, Your Humble Servant shares that he is cool with “coup.” This being a harsh political process — sure, one that is constitutional, but that doesn’t make it sacred, or the First Amendment’s co-equal — it can tolerate the lingo that comes with politics. That lingo can be savage, influencing, bold, distracting, etc. If that induces the vapors, well, sorry. Maybe you should consider relocating to Utopia.

On this coup topic, my friend, Professor Hanson, has a thing or 10 to say. See below.

Now, this Tuesday, November 19, 2019, marks the 64th birthday of National Review, and if the gods and my ukulele cooperate, I may have a ditty — to the tune of Mr. McCartney’s appropriate and famous song — to share (hold not thy breath).

And now this to share, from National Review’s premier issue: From on page 8, in its own special box, attending the first rendition of “The Liberal Line,” a column by the great Willmoore Kendall, one of our founding editors (pictured here with WFB and from the left, Priscilla Buckley, Suzanne La Follette, and James Burnham; also with a donkey named “Arthur”). Although written in the first Eisenhower administration, you may find this statement timeless and applicable to the current bald-faced practices of what another friend, Mr. Limbaugh, refers to as the “drive-by media:”

The Editors of National Review Believe:

1. That there is a Liberal point of view on national and world affairs, for which the word “Liberal” has been appropriated;

2 That the point of view consists, on the one hand, of a distinctly Liberal way of looking at and grasping political reality, and on the other hand of a distinctly Liberal set of values and goals;

3. That the nation’s leading opinion-makers for the most part share the Liberal point of view, try indefatigably to inculcate it in their readers’ minds, and to that end employee the techniques of propaganda;

4. That we may properly speak of them as a huge propaganda machine, engaged in a major, sustained assault upon the sanity, and upon the prudence and the morality of the American people — its sanity, because the political reality of which they speak is a dream world that nowhere exists, its prudence and morality because their values and goals are in the sharpest conflict with the goals and values appropriate to the American tradition;

5. That National Review must keep a watchful eye on the day-to-day operations of the Liberal propaganda machine: the theses it puts forward the arguments (if any) it advances in their support, and the (implicit or explicit) policy recommendations it urges on us — in a word on the Liberal Line.

Good enough for Bill Buckley is good enough for me. You too? For those who need to, go ahead and untwist your knickers, sniff the smelling salts, unclutch the pearls, and arise from the fainting couch. Let us now get to the Weekend Jolt!

But first: SCOTUS has deferred again on deciding to grant or deny the cert petition for National Review v. Mann. Maybe a verdict next week? We will keep you posted.

Now . . . the Jolt!


1. SCOTUS considers DACA. We opine. From the beginning of the editorial:

When President Obama unilaterally changed immigration policy after repeatedly and correctly insisting that he lacked the constitutional power to do it, he said that congressional inaction had forced his hand. In the case of his first major unilateral move — “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which gave quasi-legal status to illegal immigrants who came or were brought here as minors — the truth is closer to the reverse. Obama acted to head off the possibility of a bipartisan solution to the issue; he wanted to sharpen the distinction between the parties on this issue in the run-up to the 2012 election. The gambit succeeded. Even Republicans who approved of granting legal status to this group balked at the president’s effective rewriting of law to achieve it, and so it was possible to cast them as the callous enemies of nonwhite children.

That was more or less the same play being followed Tuesday as the Supreme Court considered whether the Trump administration may rescind the Obama policy. As sympathetic as most of the beneficiaries of the Obama policy are, the Court should not hesitate to allow the change. If Obama was abusing his discretion over law enforcement to subvert the laws, as we believe, then Trump is merely bringing executive practice back into conformity with them, which has to be within his power. But the case for allowing Trump to make this change holds even if we are wrong and the Obama policy is constitutionally permissible. In that case, the executive branch can exercise its broad discretion over enforcement to make this group of illegal immigrants effectively exempt from deportation, and thus has to be able to use that discretion to make them subject to it. Enforcement priorities aren’t for the courts to second-guess.

Anatomy of a Leftist Egghead Smear

The subhead of Sumantra Maitra’s article in The Federalist puts its squarely:

The editor of National Review wrote a book praising a benevolent, liberal, unifying form of nationalism. The vitriolic reaction was eye-opening.

And so the freakout has been with and over Rich Lowry’s The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. Imagine a disingenuous lefty reviewer, which describes Georgetown University prof Charles King, who penned an attack-review in in Foreign Affairs. Yummy . . . Tripe!

The Left’s flying monkeys have shared and reshared the hit piece over social media. Our Esteemed Leader, not one to shy from a fight, swiftly and ably counterattacked. From the Lowry rebuttal:

Next, let’s turn to his distortions, which are numerous and shockingly blatant, in fact, dripping with self-discrediting malice.

King says that, in my view, “even slavery was not so much a foundational sin as a regrettable example of anti-nationalism: the slaveholding South, with its emphasis on states’ rights, had to be defeated to allow ‘national institutions and the enhancement of national authority’ to flourish.”

This is flatly wrong. As I write in a passage about the end of the Civil War that King must have read, there was “an effort to extend rights to blacks, whose racist repression was the country’s great original sin” (emphasis added).

By the way, the power and ambit of national authority was indeed an enormously important issue in the run-up to the Civil War (and its aftermath) because the South feared a stronger national government would move against slavery.

According to King, my book has an invidious anti-woman bias: “Women are almost entirely absent from Lowry’s national past and present. By my count, fewer than a dozen or so women merit a mention in his book: Queen Elizabeth I and Joan of Arc are among them, along with a bevy of current-day intellectuals such as Amy Gutmann and Martha Nussbaum, who are there to be argued against.”

This is ridiculous. It’s not my fault that the leaders and generals of the past were largely men, or that U.S. presidents have all been male. Nonetheless, I don’t just “mention” Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I, I devote extensive and admiring passages of the book to them. As for attacking female intellectuals, I plead guilty to citing and disagreeing with female writers I disagree with. If we are going to play this stupid bean-counting game, King should have noted that I cite Liah Greenfeld of Boston University repeatedly and always favorably.

Read the entire piece. And for the sake of your intellect, or just to spite King, purchase The Case for Nationalism here.

All that Lip-Smacking Was Appropriate, Given the Tasty, 19-Course Feast of NR Brilliance that Awaits

1. As promised, Victor Davis Hanson finds 10 reasons why the Democrats’ impeachment crusade — an “ongoing coup attempt” in his apt words — is illegitimate. Here are two reasons from the piece:

Impeachment without High Crimes or Misdemeanors. There is no proof of any actual Trump crime.

No longer is Nancy Pelosi describing the whistleblower as central to the impeachment inquiry. Asking a corrupt foreign head of state to look into past corruption is pro forma. That Joe Biden is now a candidate for president and Trump’s potential rival does not ensure him exemption from his possible wrongdoing in the past as vice president when his son used the Biden name for lucrative advantage in leveraging Ukrainian money for assumed preferential Obama-administration treatment.

In other words, it is certainly not a crime for a president to adopt his own foreign policy to fit particular countries nor to request of a foreign government seeking U.S. aid, with a long history of corruption, that it ensure it has not in the past colluded with prior U.S. officials in suspicious activity. A president can appoint or fire any ambassador he chooses, all the more so when one has a known record of partisanship. It is not a crime to disagree with House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff when he says that White House officials must testify when he so summons them.

The irony is that while the House politicizes impeachment, the IG of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, and lifelong civil servant and federal attorney John Durham are likely to show concrete evidence that the now-exempt Obama administration used the powers of the FBI, CIA, and DOJ, unethically if not illegally, to attempt to destroy the candidacy, transition, and presidency of Donald Trump — still the current object of yet another political coup.

Thought Crimes? Even if there were ever a quid, there is no quo: Unlike the case of the Obama administration, the Trump administration did supply arms to Ukraine, and the Ukrainians apparently did not reinvestigate the Bidens. As a matter of general policy, Trump has been far harder on Russia and far more concretely supportive of Ukraine than was the Obama administration. That stubborn fact is ipso facto evidence that if there was any quid pro quo, it was more likely a matter of Biden rather than Trump pressuring the Ukrainians, given the actual quite different results: Again, the Trump administration armed the Ukrainians; Obama and his administration did not. Thought crimes are still not impeachable offenses.

2. Andy McCarthy explains where he and America’s haughty policy community part over impeachment. From the beginning of his analysis:

When it comes to Russia, I am with what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman calls the American “policy community.”

Vindman, of course, is one of the House Democrats’ star impeachment witnesses. His haughtiness in proclaiming the policy community and his membership in it grates, throughout his 340-page House deposition transcript. I couldn’t agree more, though, with our experts’ apparent consensus that Moscow is bad, should be challenged on various fronts, and would best be seen as the incorrigible rival it is, not the potential strategic partner some wish it to be — the “some” here known to include the president. Ukraine, for all its deep flaws, is valuable to us as a check on Russia’s aggression, another conclusion about which the president is skeptical.

That is, on the critical matter of America’s interests in the Russia/Ukraine dynamic, I think the policy community is right, and President Trump is wrong. If I were president, while I would resist gratuitous provocations, I would not publicly associate myself with the delusion that stable friendship is possible (or, frankly, desirable) with Putin’s anti-American dictatorship, which runs its country like a Mafia family and is acting on its revanchist ambitions.

But you see, much like the policy community, I am not president. Donald Trump is.

And that’s where the policy community and I part company. It is the president, not the bureaucracy, who was elected by the American people. That puts him — not the National Security Council, the State Department, the intelligence community, the military, and their assorted subject-matter experts — in charge of making policy. If we’re to remain a constitutional republic, that’s how it has to stay.

3. Kyle Smith . . . yawn . . . elaborates on America’zzzzzzz boredom with impeachment politics. Ask any Tom, Dick, or Alfie what’s it all about and expect a shoulder shrug. Good! From the piece:

Politico, whose relationship to impeachment might be expected to resemble a German Shepherd’s to a pound of raw sirloin, picked listlessly at its meal: “One surprising thing we heard a few times from people of both parties,” read the Politico Playbook, is “that the American public simply believes politics and government are dirty, and is not surprised that the president held up military aid to force an investigation into a political rival. In fact, there’s a theory that this is seen as business as usual.” So an outlet whose brand is being fantastically plugged in to the Washington scene is surprised that the American people are not surprised that politics is dirty? I doubt Politico is actually that naïve. What it is, is disappointed. The Democrats’ “blockbuster” turned out about as well as Terminator: Dark Fate.

Schiff’s trolling game isn’t working, but even so, two sides can join the fun. When (if) this thing lumbers over to the Senate for a trial, the president’s backers will stage their own trolling show. They could call Hunter Biden as a witness. Hell, why not call Joe Biden as a witness? The GOP is already thinking about how to pull a “We’re not locked in here with you — you’re locked in here with us!” moment. Republican senator Richard Burr of North Carolina let slip this prophecy the other day: “The day the [Senate] takes it up, we go into session six days a week from 12:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.,” with the trial to last six to eight weeks, which would certainly disrupt Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s winter plans to lock up their party’s presidential nomination even as their Senate colleagues are hammering away at all things Biden. “These witnesses that they’re calling are politically motivated,” groused Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) of the GOP. “Republicans are turning this into a partisan issue.” Ya think? AOC may be new in town, but even so, she learns remarkably slowly.

4. Hard to be more definitive than Charlie Cooke here: “Northwestern University’s student newspaper is a national embarrassment.” It grovels in apology for . . . reporting the news. From the post:

The apology contains all the usual buzzwords that mark out your average capitulation to the insane and the brittle: “harm”; “retraumatizing”; “safety”; “invasion”; “marginalized”; along with the customary promise that everyone implicated will visit the nearest re-education camp tout suite. It’s dreck from start to finish, and everyone involved with it should be severely ashamed.

Are they? Presumably not, given that they’re still making their case.

It is beyond my comprehension that anyone who participated was able keep a straight face while writing it, let alone that they consented to have their name glued to the thing for eternity. Just look at it. “One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event.” What? “Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive.” How? “We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories.” It was a milquetoast speech, not D-Day. “Some students also voiced concern about the methods that Daily staffers used to reach out to them.” They used the bloody phone book. ” We understand that this will not be easy, but we are ready to undertake the reform and reflection necessary to become a better paper.” Impossible. The only way to improve the paper is to fire everyone involved and bomb the building from the upper atmosphere.

RELATED: Kat Timpf weighs in on the Daily Northwestern’s “insane editorial.”

5. Rubio One: The senator makes the case for “Common-Good Capitalism.” From the essay:

We must start by rejecting the false choice our politics has offered us for almost three decades. First, our financialized economy is the result of policy choices lawmakers have made in the past. And restoring a balance between the obligations and rights of the private sector and working Americans will require the attention of lawmakers today.

What we need to do is restore common-good capitalism: a system of free enterprise wherein workers fulfill their obligation to work and enjoy the resultant benefits, and businesses enjoy their right to make a profit and reinvest enough to create high-productivity jobs, which is what I mean by dignified work for Americans.

Common-good capitalism also means recognizing that what the market determines is most efficient may not be best for America. For example, we’ve allowed ourselves to become almost completely dependent on China for rare-earth minerals and done nothing to further our ability to provide them for ourselves. That’s why I have filed legislation to support investment in this critical sector.

It is also possible to reform the Small Business Administration to reinvigorate the legacy of business innovation that delivered Americans to the Moon 50 years ago.

Common-good capitalism also means recognizing fundamental shifts in our culture.

The market may not account for the benefits our country receives from parental engagement. But common-good capitalism does. That is why I’ve worked to expand the federal per-child tax credit, as well as proposed creating an option for paid parental leave.

6. Rubio Two: Nope, says David Harsanyi. Marco’s common-good stuff is . . . bizarre. From the response:

Rubio begins his lament by quoting Pope Leo XIII, a late-19th-century critic of socialism and laissez-faire economics, intimating that both systems are comparably problematic. Leo argued that the ultimate goal of society should be to “make men better” by providing opportunity to attain the “dignity” that comes from work, ownership, and raising a family.

Neither the market nor the state, I’m afraid, can make you a better man. Still, Pope Leo might have been quite happy with the results of the Industrial Revolution, by far the greatest poverty-destroying, dignity-creating turning point in human history.

In 1907, the year Leo died, around 60 percent of the American work force toiled in factories and farms, with few options. Today that number is under 10 percent. There’s certainly nothing undignified about factory or agricultural work — today those jobs can be quite high-tech, in fact — but for most of our existence it meant menial, monotonous, and dangerous work for little pay.

7. Saint Greta, pray for us (and for the Ice Shelf): John Hirschauer finds the ’Frisco icon of the Swedish climate carper hearkens to a new faithful. (Personally, I wonder if the paint was made with toxic materials.) From the piece:

Mass literacy is a very modern miracle.

Clerics in the medieval Church did not have the luxury of literate pew-sitters. They, rather creatively, used the architecture, sculpture, and paintings in cathedrals to convey the biblical narrative to the unlettered faithful. Gothic architecture so arrests the modern eye not only for its structural and formalistic brilliance but also because the ornature itself narrates the story of salvation.

The climate clerics have erected their own Biblia pauperum for the unwashed masses in San Francisco. One Atmosphere, an area non-profit, dedicated a mammoth mural yesterday of the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. The Putinesque mural, painted on the street-facing side of an urban mid-rise, took an estimated 700 cans of aerosol spray paint to complete. Hypocrisy? No, says the non-profit: syncretism. “The finishing details can only be done with spray paint, but we are using spray cans without CFCs,” the organization said in a statement. “We are using low pressure cans with a minimal footprint.”

The mural’s financiers seem intent on pushing a sort of potted theology with the display. The executive director of the non-profit, Paul Scott, said that Greta Thunberg “is a bright light in a dark time and we hope people will follow her lead and make some changes.” Not only is Scott a voice crying out in the wilderness, heralding the virtues of the Thunbergian project, but he is an outright evangelist for the faith: “We’re hoping to have other building owners who like this idea and support our objectives and want to have something similar on their buildings.” Scott hopes the mural will “open up their hearts and minds to the unbridled conviction of Greta’s message.”

8. The Constitution State is a place of departure: Kevin Williamson recounts the rich and famous and not so famous fleeing the tax insanity that is Connecticut. From his piece:

My colleague Charles C. W. Cooke, who made the move from Fairfield County to Florida a few years ago, tells a familiar story: “I can afford a house that fits my growing family and a swimming pool,” he says. “I don’t pay any income or personal property taxes. The weather is better. And I’m not at the mercy of the Metro North or of the roads that make it necessary.” Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough is another Connecticut refugee in Florida. “I wish I could still be in New Canaan,” he says, but life is simply too much more difficult there. “Traffic going to kids’ birthday parties a few miles up the Merritt could take 45 minutes.” And in Florida? “It’s easier, cheaper, and the state government (with no income taxes) is far more efficient. Everything from getting a driver’s license to getting to your kid’s baseball game is so much easier.”

The allure of Fairfield County used to be that it is close to Manhattan. But it is not as close to Manhattan as Manhattan is. So, what else ya got? The tax advantages of being in Connecticut vs. being in Westchester County, N.Y., or in New York City have narrowed. So have the quality-of-life advantages.

Low taxes, safe streets, and good governance? Connecticut has moved the wrong way on some of those metrics, and New York City has moved the right way on one important one with the dramatic decrease in crime from the Giuliani years onward. With the general decline in the quality of the Metro North railroad (and the parallel decline in New York City subway service) getting to and from the suburbs to offices in the Financial District has become a much bigger chore, while living in the Financial District itself (as I did for some years) has become a much more attractive option. Living in the city makes more sense for more people than it once did.

Economists and social critics used to talk about competitiveness almost exclusively in terms of the business environment. (Paul Krugman, back when he was a first-rate economist instead of a third-rate rage-monkey, wrote insightful criticism of the excesses of that orientation.) But experience has led social observers to a wider view of the question. When Amazon goes looking for a place to park a bunch of highly paid and intellectually sophisticated Amazonians, low taxes and a gentle regulatory environment aren’t going to be enough to put Muleshoe, Texas on the list of potentials. There is more to value than price alone. New York City is probably the most attractive place in the United States for people who desire urban lives of a certain character. Other places have charms of other kinds: Philbin is not relocating to some low-tax farm state but to California, which is terribly governed and has high taxes (mostly on income rather than on property, which may be attractive to him as a rich retired man) but remains an awfully nice place to live, especially for show-business types who enjoy being around their peers.

9. In the first part of a “valedictory” essay on modern literature, the great, retiring, scholar M. D. Aeschliman reflects on literature as a form of praise, resistance, and consolation. You will want to hunker down with this. From the essay:

Chesterton knew through experience the fin-de-siècle pessimism of the aesthetes, the braggart jingoism of the imperialists, the cynicism of the capitalists (think of Andrew Undershaft in the play Major Barbara (1905), by Chesterton’s longtime friend George Bernard Shaw), the collectivism of the Marxists. Yet some intuitive genius turned him against these “heresies” (the title of one of his early books is Heretics (1908)), without succumbing to the “peter pan-theism” of the nostalgic longing for childhood, nature, and the past — or to the “Whig interpretation of history,” which envisioned the future as a gradual or rapid arrival in utopia. Long before 1914 he realized that the 20th century was more likely to be catastrophe than utopia. The philosopher Sidney Hook was to say that 1914 commenced “the Second Fall of Man,” due its spectacular disappointment of Whig-liberal and Marxist hopes. We still live in the shadow of that Fall.

Chesterton’s early career has been carefully considered and charted in a fine scholarly book by William Oddie, Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC, 1874–1908 (Oxford, 2008). What Chesterton recovered on his own was a philosophy of life that resisted both pessimistic and optimistic simplifications, literary subjectivism and scientific materialism, desperate or arrogant Nietzschean immoralism and fanatical Marxist moral inversion. He felt that the modernist “heretics” evaded certain basic facts of life — first of all, perhaps, that being itself was good — the being of the world, the beings of others, and the being of the self. Initially he probably identified this insight most with Charles Dickens, on whom he wrote two great books (1906, 1911) at a time when Dickens’s literary reputation (though not his popularity) was at a low ebb. Gradually Chesterton was to credit this profound metaphysical intuition to earlier classic English writers — Chaucer and Shakespeare — and to William Blake and Robert Browning, but his intuitive philosophical wisdom ultimately saw it in those great medieval Italian, pan-European figures St. Francis and St. Thomas Aquinas, on each of whom he wrote a brilliant, classic book (1923, 1933), as he did on Chaucer, Blake, and Browning. “Bonus et ens convertuntur” — Goodness and being are convertible, as St. Thomas put it. Being itself is real and good.

10. Marvin Olasky wants to reform journalism. In fact, he’s written a book, Reforming Journalism, and Russell Pulliam has read it. From the review:

Olasky shows how Sam Adams offered a faith-based journalism as an influential commentator before the War for Independence. Again, the traditional journalism-history textbooks seldom note that Adams freely quoted from the scriptures to make his case for freedom.

Some key numbers help Olasky set the context for this era. The number of newspapers in circulation went from 359 in 1810 to 1,265 in 1834 — similar to the explosion of news websites in our time.

With alertness to worldview and broader philosophical commitments, Olasky identifies a turning point in American journalism history, a shift away from a general conservative Christian consensus in many newspapers, such as the Boston Recorder. Editor Nathaniel Willis loved the spirit of the French Revolution until he heard the Christian gospel and committed his life to Christ. He went on to edit the Recorder with a scriptural emphasis, showing sowing and reaping in some stories and gospel opportunity in others. George Wisner of the New York Sun offered similar culturally conservative commentary when the Sun had the largest circulation in the nation in the early 1830s. William Leggett of the New York Evening Post (now owned by Rupert Murdoch) argued for limited government in this era, on grounds that problems were bound to arise whenever “government assumes the functions which belong alone to an overruling Providence, and affects to become the universal dispenser of good and evil.”

The turning point was gradual, occurring around the mid 1800s, as influential editors moved toward an Enlightenment idea that people could figure out their own ways to live without considering the Bible.

Horace Greeley was the most famous figure in this shift. He’s remembered for saying, “Go West, young man.” He stayed east as editor of the New York Tribune, eventually running for president in 1872. In story presentation and vision for news, Greeley was brilliant. Unfortunately he had an almost utopian view of mankind. One of the most interesting parts of Olasky’s story is the theological debate between Greeley and Henry Raymond of the New York Courier and Enquirer. Raymond argued for a more traditional Christian view of the sinfulness of people, and Greeley contended for a more optimistic set of assumptions.

11. Conrad Black asks, quo vadis, NATO? From the beginning of the column:

It is a bit rich to hear French president Emmanuel Macron announce that NATO is suffering “a brain death” because of “a lack of American commitment.” France has allowed her armed forces to dwindle down to an aircraft carrier,six nuclear submarines with nuclear-tipped missiles, a modest but well-armed air force, and an army of about 100,000, a fifth of Turkey’s. This is the army that in other times was the greatest in Europe prior to the unification of Germany in 1871, was the silent force in French political history, and produced that nation’s greatest leaders, particularly Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle. This was the army that, with the Royal (British) Navy, was the shield defending Western Europe and North America from the dangers of Central and Eastern Europe between the founding of the Alliance Cordiale, ending eight centuries of Anglo–French animosity, in 1904, to the fall of France under the hob-nailed jackboot of Nazi Germany in 1940.

The United States, the country in NATO least likely to be attacked by any other country (except possibly for Canada), or by any terrorist outrage directly traceable to another country, has brought its military capabilities up to their highest point since the end of the Cold War nearly 30 years ago. Of course, the United States is the only country with legitimate strategic interests around the world and it is the only country that can correctly determine the level of force that is necessary to protect those interests adequately and provide the level of deterrence that meets the counsel of Publius Fabius Vegetius Renatus in the late fourth century: “If you wish peace, prepare for war.” Rome had practiced that for seven centuries when Vegetius wrote it, but had reached a state of such political and moral dissolution that it was about to be overthrown in the west and comprehensively defeated and subjugated by barbarians. Though commentators who don’t know better (they are numerous) frequently claim that the United States is in sight of such a fate, it is very far from it.

12. Brian Allen reports on how American art is being taught in Red China. From the piece:

The ISAAC program operates in Pearl Buck’s old house on the campus of Nanjing University, where Buck lived when the school was a Presbyterian college run by missionaries. Buck (1892–1973) isn’t a name we hear often, though she was, in her day, as famous and revered as a living writer could be. She wrote The Good Earth in 1931, among many other things, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938. She and her parents were missionaries, but Buck wasn’t cloistered as a child — she spoke Chinese and went to school with Chinese children. Her parents were hell-bent on Christianizing the Chinese but never considered them inferior. During the Boxer Rebellion and in the turbulent years afterwards, they stayed in China.

Buck is now considered old-fashioned and out-of-date. She was both unique and turbulent, but what great artist is a sweetie-pie? She hated Chinese Communism, but her opinions on everything were hard to predict. She can’t be boxed, and, unfortunately, in English departments these days and among many critics, if a writer can’t fit in a nice, tidy box, they can’t be bothered. And, worse still, if they can’t wrap the box in PC cant with a flouncy “Happy Victim Day” ribbon, the writer tends to disappear. So, in the 1960s, where did she live? Of course, in Vermont, the Land of Cows, Fall Color, and Vinegary Personas. She lived in Danby, not far from me. The old-timers there adored her. They still remember her male companion, 50 years on, as a sulky, irascible scourge.

I reread The Good Earth last week. It’s a fine novel. It’s old-fashioned in its vastness — it’s the first book of a trilogy. Together, the three books are long and rambling, but that’s the nature of the project. In tone, theme, and characters, it reminds me of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Walker must know it well.

Set in rural China, The Good Earth crafts the lives of a farmer, Wang Lung, his wife, O-Lan, and an extended family, concubines included, in the glass hive of village life. Many current issues — sexism, inequality, fundamentalism, poverty, exploitation, disability . . . okay, no one changes gender — are there, but it’s certainly not contemporary. Victimhood, blame, and even individual agency aren’t factors. Interiority isn’t as much of a driver as it is in fiction today. Characters bob on a sea of habits and templates made over generations, mostly driven by family worship and fixed expectations for men and women.

13. Son of a . . . Armond White goes all Armond White on Motherless Brooklyn. There are few if any survivors. From the review:

Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn is an embarrassment to white liberalism. Yet the film’s shameless conceit is also a monument to white liberal narcissism. As director and star, Norton adapts the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem and vies with the book’s preening cleverness. Lethem’s detective-novel pastiche, about a white gumshoe with Tourette’s syndrome, flaunted contemporary social and race consciousness when the sleuth exposes a municipal plot to disenfranchise black New Yorkers through urban planning and infrastructure redistricting: Think Humphrey Bogart in Jane Jacobs drag.

Norton outdoes Lethem’s show-offy progressivism by making the story retro. The film’s 1950s setting syncs fashionably with the New York Times’ 1619 Project, evoking America’s racist past (when blacks were called Negroes) to encourage Millennial self-righteousness — a white liberal ploy that presses black victimization. And, oh yeah, the neurologically afflicted protagonist Lionel Essrog (played by Norton) proves irresistible to the beautiful, endlessly grateful biracial heroine Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). “Funny how things turn out,” she says, falling into his arms.

It’s hard to recall another detective movie with so little tension. The good-versus-evil, power-versus-powerless dynamics are too blatant to raise dramatic tension; its film-noir cynicism is a version of the anti-American ethic taught in “enlightened” school curricula — a fancy, over-obvious lecture on equality that shifts between Fort Greene, in Brooklyn, and Harlem, in Manhattan. Norton then compounds Lethem’s literary conceit with his own cinematic arrogance through narrative and character developments that copy Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (and some of Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress). Adding the cliché of Edward Hopper desolate romanticism as a visual style doesn’t help. Norton bastardizes movies that are better than he himself can make.

14. Kyle Smith turns to Amazon and catches the streaming documentary One Child Nation. He finds the massive slaughter to be a holocaust. From the review:

When the adoption market started to boom in the 1990s, the calculus changed. Enterprising folks who were motivated by profit but were also heroes on a scale that dwarfs the 1,200 lives saved by Oskar Schindler began visiting the known baby-dumping areas and scooping up living infants. One man from Shenzhen estimates he collected 10,000 babies this way, building a network of tipsters such as trash collectors and taxi drivers whose jobs involved lots of roaming around the city. Orphanages were paying $200 for babies, no questions asked. Many Americans are parents of these adoptees today, and for those who have questions, a Utah company called Research China has been gathering data about the Chinese backgrounds of such children. The man interviewed in the film who saved so many lives in Shenzhen was charged with being a “human trafficker” and spent years in prison for the crime of not letting babies perish.

Chinese authorities decided to get in on the act. Why abort babies and throw them in the trash when you can wait till they’re born, then kidnap them? Propaganda promised citizens rewards for informing authorities of families that had more than one child. Orphanages were pleased to take the abducted babies, too. (An expert walks us through how orphanage officials would simply make up a fictitious backstory for each otherwise unexplained child and present the lies to eager prospective parents.) In 2015, China switched to a two-child policy, and the crisis ended. Or did it? Chinese parents have been conditioned to have only one child since 1980, and the number of births fell 5 million short of projections last year. An editorial in the Communist Party paper People’s Daily scolded couples with these words: “Not wanting to have kids is just a lifestyle of passively giving in to society’s pressures.” What’s Mandarin for chutzpah?

15. More Kyle: He’s liking Ford v. Ferrari. From the review:

There used to be a lot of overlap between what we think of as a Hollywood studio picture (designed to earn money) and an awards movie (designed to fill the trophy case, usually with an accompanying loss of money). Ford v Ferrari is a glorious throwback to the era when big stars did quality movies about actual people with real-life problems, but the scripts nevertheless adhered to basic Hollywood formulae such as “Have an exciting climax.” Today, the “awards-season” pictures tend to be allergic to entertainment, and they often trickle out rather than conclude. They seem more interested in making us feel guilty than inspiring us. Ford v Ferrari, though, is delightful old-school entertainment.

Christian Bale may be the leading actor of his generation. Not only is he a master of the technical stuff — the shapeshifting, the mimicry — but he also radiates the great intangible of star magnetism. In Ford v Ferrari, as in so many other parts, Bale simply owns the screen, this time as a skinny, snarly English mechanic named Ken Miles who drives in California car races on the side. It turns out Bale can even do a British accent. The man is a wonder.

When a fellow racer, the Texan Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon, nowhere near as effective as Bale but at least passable as a Southerner), retires from competition due to nerve damage and gets into car design, the two men join up to try to help Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) build a new model, the GT, designed to win the intense 24-hour race at Le Mans, a contest usually dominated by the designs of Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone). Ford tries to buy Ferrari’s company in 1963 but gets rebuffed as Enzo sells to Fiat instead. Mr. Ford wants revenge and respect for his grandfather’s brand, and he wants it in 90 days.

16. Diane Scharper praises Prof. Nicola Gardini’s new book, in which Gardini makes the case for Latin. Ex articulum:

Calling his book both an ode and an essay, Gardini defends Latin from those who consider the subject superfluous. He is especially drawn to Latin’s poetic qualities and frequently comments on the musicality of the language with its figures of sound as well as its metaphors, which he says have an almost magical effect.

Studying Latin, Gardini says, taught him the importance of discrete sounds and syllables. It showed him “the importance of musical language, the soul of poetry.” Words he used every day began “disassembling in my mind and swirling around like petals in the air,” Gardini writes in a nod to poetry.

Gardini suggests that his book is for a general reader—especially for young students. But it’s hard to imagine many young students from the U.S. responding well to the “critical and aesthetic genius” of a writer like Horace (65 B.C.E.–8 C.E.) or to his Ars Poetica, excerpts of which Gardini translates and discusses. As Gardini observes, “There’s nothing easy about Horace’s Latin, even when it’s dictated to by occasion.”  Yet Horace’s advice for poets would resonate in today’s university writing courses: “Poetry is like painting: some things catch you / more if you stand in front of them, other things from a distance.”

The book is somewhat hard to follow because Gardini doesn’t present his material in chronological order. The authors don’t appear as they would in a history of Latin literature. Instead, he shows them in media res, in what he calls, “linguistic instances, . . . as examples of what Latin has gained at a certain moment . . . and handed down to its long—and still living—tradition.” But this is a quibble with an important and informative book.

17. Michael Hendrix recommends house sharing as a partial solution to housing-affordability issues whammying metropolitan areas. From the analysis:

Figuring out how to use America’s existing housing stock more efficiently seems like the next logical step. There are 33.6 million more bedrooms in America than there are people—and since some share a room, there are surely more such “spare” bedrooms. By PadSplit’s accounting, some 54 million bedrooms go unused every night in the United States. Converting a quarter of these rooms into rentals would alone house the 14 million people in America making less than $35,000 a year who are singles or couples that rent. Turning 10 percent of Atlanta’s current stock of five-bedroom homes into multi-family dwellings could yield nearly 9,000 new affordable units over the next decade.

There’s also more space in these rooms — newly built homes in America offer 971 square feet of living space per person, up 90 percent from the 1970s. Even accounting for older homes and apartments, Atlanta still has 590 square feet per person. And while home sizes in America are growing, household size is decreasing. As a report by the Urban Land Institute found, “A 4.1 person household in 1930 would consist of slightly more than 1,000 square feet, while the same home in 2017, consisting of a 2.5 person household, is built to over 2,500 square feet.” All that space in all these spaces.

While PadSplit focuses on renting out entire homes, the potential of simply renting out rooms to grown children, relatives, or even strangers is surely an even larger market for affordable housing. Airbnb’s $35 billion valuation showed this potential for short-term, hotel-like stays. And in the suburban stretches of Los Angeles, the 30-fold increase overnight in permit applications to build accessory dwelling units (also known as “granny flats”) following statewide regulatory reform also shows the potential for housing space in underutilized garages and backyards. Simply looking at empty-nester Boomer households headed by those over the age of 64, Trulia found 3.6 million vacant bedrooms in the 100 largest metro areas, with New York (177,734) and Atlanta (141,462) leading the way.

18. As John Fund explains, the Berlin Wall may be kaput, but its lessons should never be forgotten. From the beginning of the column:

The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until in 1989 a wave of citizen protest forced the East German Communist government to open its gates. We’ve now gone longer without the Berlin Wall than it existed.

As we marked the anniversary, on November 9, of its demise, I couldn’t help but recall with wonder how astonishingly quickly the ugly scar of the wall along with its guards, dogs, and mines were all swept away in a wave of euphoria.

I visited the Berlin Wall and crossed into East Germany several times during the 1980s while I worked at the Wall Street Journal. I will never forget the brave dissidents I met on the Eastern side who never accepted the wall, or the bureaucrats who ran the state machinery that sustained it.

While it now appears easy to simply divide the East German population into oppressors and the people they oppressed, I learned that the truth was a bit more complicated even for someone like me who grew up with anti-Communism in his bloodstream.

19. No you’re not a man of the people, says Tamara Berens about Jeremy Corbyn, shifty and shifting and deceptive and anti-Semitic leader of Labour. From the piece:

Deceit is a central component of Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy in the upcoming U.K. general election. Corbyn repeats the outlandish claim that Johnson intends to sell out the National Health Service (NHS), Britain’s single-payer health-care system, to the United States. Corbyn says that Johnson has created a “Trump alliance” that will divert £500 million (around $643 million) to American companies per week as part of a trade deal between Britain and the U.S. This has no basis in reality. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg — by no means a friend to Johnson — hinted at the manipulative intent of Corbyn’s statements. The aim is to paint Johnson as an enemy of British public services such as the NHS, which many Brits view as the pride of their country. In fact, bolstering the NHS has been at the center of Johnson’s campaign: He pledged to build 40 new hospitals and to fund 6,000 more doctors to deliver millions of extra patient appointments.

That Corbyn has received little criticism for his lies — which form a central part of every major campaign speech and of Labour’s social-media advertising — reveals the extent to which he is shielded from scrutiny.

Corbyn is afforded this same protection when it comes to his shifting stance on Brexit. In a recent speech in the north of England, Corbyn said he will not be the kind of prime minister who “thinks politics is a game.” Yet on the question of leaving the European Union — the key issue facing Britain this election — Corbyn has played almost every possible move. His brand of socialism puts him in opposition to European integration. Indeed, for most of his career, Corbyn opposed the EU on the grounds that it is too militaristic and repressive of workers’ rights. In 1976 he voted to leave the European Economic Community, the precursor to the EU. He campaigned against the integrationist Lisbon Treaty in 2009, arguing that he did not want to live “in a European empire of the 21st century.” During the 2016 EU referendum in Britain, Corbyn outwardly supported Remain but was accused of lukewarm campaigning. A few weeks before the vote, he rated the EU “seven or seven and a half out of ten.”

A Sincere Thank You

Concerning the recently ended Fall 2019 Webathon, some 2,500 kind readers donated $315,000. Each and every one of you rock.

The Six

1. At the California Policy Center, the renowned Edward Ring sees the states’ fires sparked by the state and federal forest mismanagement, and proposes solutions. From the analysis:

In order to rapidly address the challenge of thinning California’s forests, there are several steps that may be taken simultaneously. For starters, many environmental regulations need to be rewritten. The state is already beginning to grant CEQA exemptions to property owners that want to engage in thinning operations. But half of California’s forests are on federal land. At the federal level, the EPA’s “no action” restrictions, usually based on the “single species management“ practice, have led to more than half of California’s national forests being off limits to tree thinning, brush removal, or any other sort of active management.

Another required change is the U.S. Forest Service guidelines which only permit active forest management, even in the areas that are not off limits, for as little as six weeks per year. While restrictions on when and where forests can be thinned may have sound ecological justifications in some ways, they are making it impossible to thin the forests. The ecological cost/benefits need to be reassessed. To be effective, thinning operations need to be allowed to run for several months each year, instead of several weeks each year.

The EPA needs to streamline the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) application process so it is less expensive and time consuming for qualified companies to get permits to extract timber from federal lands. They can also grant waivers to allow thinning projects to bypass NEPA, or at the least, broaden the allowable exemptions.

The federal government can accelerate granting of long term stewardship contracts whereby qualified companies acquire a minimum 20 year right to extract wood products from federal lands. This will guarantee a steady supply of wood products which, in turn, will make new investment viable in logging equipment, mills, and biomass energy facilities.

2. Stalin? Sto Stalin? At The Daily Signal, Jarett Stepman checks out the rise in Soviet Revisionism. From the piece:

This is the latest in a growing genre of Soviet and communist apologia. The New York Times, after all, dedicated a section of its website to a series of articles about the 1917 communist revolution in Russia, including a puff piece about Vladimir Lenin as an environmentalist and another touting women’s sex lives under socialism.

Yet there was no mention of the mass cover-up of Soviet crimes in the 1930s by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Walter Duranty.

The Daily Beast article was penned by Brian T. Brown, author of the new book “Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness.”

Brown tries to convince the reader that, despite what you may have heard, the Soviet Union wasn’t really that bad after all, and if it was bad, America is to blame.

An absurd and obnoxious Soviet apologetic might be worth dismissing out of hand. Yet, as a recent poll demonstrated, a growing number of young Americans say they prefer socialism or communism to capitalism.

The poll, conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that “15% of millennials think the world would be better off if the Soviet Union still existed.” A staggering 75% were unaware of the Soviet alliance with Nazi Germany at the start of World War II. And “57% of millennials (compared to 94% of the Silent Generation) believe the Declaration of Independence better guarantees freedom and equality over the Communist Manifesto.”

At one time, Americans would have almost universally mocked pro-Soviet propaganda as an embarrassing attempt to whitewash a murderous regime. Not so today.

3. At Gatestone Institute, Uzay Bulut finds the persecution of Christians ramping up in Algeria. From the report:

Although Christians make up a mere one percent of Algeria’s Muslim-majority population, they continue to be persecuted by the government in Algiers. The most recent example is the closure in mid-October of three churches and the forced eviction of their congregants by police.

William Stark, regional manager of International Christian Concern (ICC), told Gatestone that shuttering the churches is just part of a broader campaign that began two years ago to target places of Christian worship.

Stark said his organization’s sources in Algeria report that 12 churches have been closed by Algerian authorities since the beginning of 2019 alone:

“The closing of the latest three churches is most concerning, as it came only days after members of the l’Eglise Protestante d’Algerie (EPA) — an umbrella organization for Protestant churches — staged a peaceful sit-in against earlier church closures, and therefore suggests that it was an act of retaliation by Algerian authorities against those Christians willing to protest.

“One impetus for the protests is a 2006 law stating that any non-Muslim worship be conducted in specific, designated buildings. But since this law came into effect, no Christian places of worship have been designated by the government of Algeria.”

4. At The College Fix, boss editor Jennifer Kabbany gives a primer on one of conservatism’s best on-campus organizations, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and interviews its president Charlie Copeland. From the piece:

What is your take on the snowflake generation?

You are starting to see this play out in the corporate environment, organizations where their employees are literally signing petitions or threatening to go on strike because the company is providing services that they disagree with, and they are unable to balance their own sense of outrage with the fact that different people hold different opinions and we ought to respect those differences. It’s a small percentage of people that carry this forward, but have an outsized influence. Everybody is going to be offended at some point during their life and part of being an adult is to recognize that it’s not that big of a deal.

But universities don’t teach students how to be adults. Do they coddle them?

They absolutely coddle them. When they go through freshman orientation, and they all get to fill out what their personal pronoun is rather than he or she — everybody has the right to avoid being upset over anything, which by the way doesn’t work, because at the end of the day people have always had to deal with things they disagree with. But yes, they are absolutely coddled, which is why you see grade inflation, bias response teams, and the anti-free speech movement, and it’s driven almost exclusively by the left.

5. At The New Atlantis, Robert Zubrin proposes a new vision for NASA, which risks irrelevance minus a reboot. From the essay:

NASA deserves a lot of credit. A space agency funded by 4 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for launching 100 percent of the rovers that have ever wheeled on Mars; all the probes that have visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto; nearly all the major space telescopes; and all the people who have ever walked on the Moon. But while its robotic planetary exploration and space astronomy programs continue to produce epic results, for nearly half a century its human spaceflight effort has been stuck in low Earth orbit.

The reason for this is simple: NASA’s space science programs accomplish a lot because they are mission-driven. In contrast, the human spaceflight program has allowed itself to become constituency-driven (or, to put it less charitably, vendor-driven). In consequence, the space science programs spend money in order to do things, while the human spaceflight program does things in order to spend money. Thus, the efforts of the science programs are focused and directed, while those of the human spaceflight program are purposeless and entropic.

This was not always so. During the Apollo period, NASA’s human spaceflight program was strongly mission-driven. We did not go to the Moon because there were three random constituency-backed programs to develop Saturn V boosters, command modules, and lunar excursion vehicles, which luckily happened to fit together, and which needed something to do to justify their funding. Rather, we had a clear goal — sending humans to the Moon within a decade — from which we derived a mission plan, which then dictated vehicle designs, which in turn defined necessary technology developments. That’s why the elements of the flight hardware set all fit together. But in the period since, with no clear mission, things have worked the other way.

Neither the space shuttle nor the International Space Station were designed as parts of any well-conceived plan to send humans to the Moon or Mars. Insistence that they be included as part of such programs only served to make them infeasible. More recently, other constituencies in NASA have made demands that any expedition to the Moon or Mars make use of new hobbyhorses, including variously a space station or asteroid fragment in lunar orbit, or high-powered electric propulsion, none of which are necessary, desirable, or arguably even acceptable for near-term human exploration.

NASA’s current plan for the “Lunar Gateway” space station (formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway, and then until a few months ago as the “Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway,” or LOP-G — I am not making this up) is a case in point. If you want to understand the merit of this project, consider a business proposition where you are offered a chance to rent an office in Saskatoon. Under the terms proposed, you will need to pay to build the office building and agree to a thirty-year lease at $100,000 per month rent, with no exit clause. In addition, you will need to spend one month per year in Saskatoon and travel through Saskatoon on your way to anywhere else for the rest of your life.

6. At National Affairs, Andrews Biggs and Jason Richwine expose the size of America’s worsening teacher pay gap . . . wait: There is no teacher pay gap. From the beginning of the analysis:

One of the most common beliefs about American education is that teaching is an “underpaid” profession. Think tanks purport to calculate the “teacher pay gap.” The media run stories about teachers taking second and third jobs to pay the bills. Politicians call for across-the-board raises. They all see raising teacher pay as a matter of simple fairness, as well as a way to attract better teachers and improve educational outcomes.

They are all misguided. The highly publicized “pay gap” that dominates news headlines is the product of a simplistic methodology that, when universally applied, suggests that nurses, firefighters, and other professionals are dramatically overpaid. Furthermore, predictions generated by the underpaid-teacher hypothesis — such as that teachers must have high quit rates, or that a large percentage of their income flows from second jobs — are not supported by the data. Teachers as a group are generally well compensated, and teacher pay and benefits have risen faster over time than compensation in private-sector jobs. Failure to recognize these facts can lead education reform down a blind alley.

Across-the-board raises, the usual solution to closing the teacher pay gap, come with high price tags. West Virginia’s teacher walkout ended with the state legislature passing an across-the-board 5% salary increase. Arizona’s teacher protests culminated in Governor Doug Ducey agreeing to a 20% salary increase over two years, a policy that will cost the state and schools over $450 million per year, in addition to higher pension costs based on the increased salaries. Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has proposed to close the “gap” using federal funds, at an estimated 10-year cost of $315 billion. These are not costs that are incidental to government budgets.

Moreover, focusing on across-the-board raises distracts from less costly but more useful reforms, such as differential pay for hard-to-staff subjects, increased teacher mobility through experience credits and portable pensions, loosened tenure protections, and a reduction in non-teaching staff.

Ivanka, Ramesh, KLO, plus . . .

This week the dynamic NRI duo and the First Daughter met to discuss paid family leave and childcare in an event sponsored by National Review Institute. You can watch it here.

By the way, you can watch the video about the then-and-now history of NRI shown at last month’s Buckley Prize gala in Palm Beach here.


Everyone with an iota of interest in Old Baseball knows about Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder who played for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. Gray had lost his vital appendage as a child in an accident, but was determined to play baseball, and contrived a system — catch ball, roll ball out onto chest, tuck glove under stump, grab ball with bare hand, throw — that allowed him to perform, and he was so darned diligent that kept up with the big boys. Gray became a bit renowned on the semi-pro circuit, and was eventually signed by the Browns, playing for a couple of years in the minors. American League champs in the previous year, the team — desperate for attendance — brought him up to the Big Leagues in 1945, hoping he would prove a draw for curious fans.

And he was a draw. But as a player, well, Gray saw action in just 77 games, all as an outfielder (or pinch hitter/pinch runner). He amassed a weak .218 batting average. Some contend his defensive play, a little slower than most given the ball juggling, cost the third-place Browns several games, and maybe a second pennant. It’s quite debatable.

Gray was introverted, which was accompanied by a sour disposition. His teammates were not fond of him. Especially Mike Kreevich, the aging former White Sox All Star who was the Browns’ centerfielder: He was not thrilled that on several occasions manager Luke Sewell had started Gray in center. Kreevich wanted out, and late in the season the Browns sold him to the Senators. Within days Kreevich found himself playing against his former team. In the first game of an August 12 doubleheader at Sportsman Park in St. Louis, the Senators battered the Browns, 9-5, with Kreevich smashing four hits, the last one a bases-loaded double in the top of the ninth that drove in two runs. He showed them all right!

And Gray showed them, too. It was one of baseball’s little-known acts of karma. With one out, George “Foghorn” Myatt, the Senators’ second baseman, smacked a fly ball to center field, which was caught by Gray, who performed his transfer / glove / stick motion, grabbed the ball, threw it to Browns shortstop Vern Stephens, who stepped on second base and . . . Mike Kreevich was out. Doubled off second. It was the sole defensive double play of Pete Gray’s career. He couldn’t clap – Yours Truly is doing it for him now.

A Dios

Take no delight in the misery of others. That said, enjoy what remains of this weekend, spent fortunately for most of you in this place that our Creator ordained to be truly special. Warts and all, it is that.

God’s Blessings and Bounty, His Succor and Graces, on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can accept plans for takeover coups of this Weekly Missive at

National Review

Up a Lazy River, How Happy We Will Be


Dear Weekend Jolters,

Not too far down, this missive is aburst with intellectual links and stimulating goodies that will leave your conservative heart-cockles warmed and aglow.

Interested in getting that same result, but greatly intensified, and prolonged? In a setting of luxury and camaraderie? Surround by a contingent of wonderful people, smart and fun and friendly? Wine and beer included?!

Yes, you say? Tremendous! And then there are also castles and cathedrals and walled cities and locks and vineyards and a boatload (literally!) of intellectual discussion.

OK, you already said yes. This is all very real, and all going to happen in April 2020 on the National Review Rhine River Conservative Cruise. There are still a few cabins available on the glorious AMA Waterways AmaMora, chartered for an NR-only experience and sailing April 19–26 from Basel to Amsterdam. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 140 lucky few — why shouldn’t that include you? It should! How happy you will be!! Contemplate the thrill of sailing up that glorious, historic, and lazy river while listening to the Mills Brothers and Dean croon, and find out how to make that happen at

Now, let’s get a-jolting!


1. The president’s impeachment defense isn’t working. From the editorial:

True to his smash-mouth style, honed in years of litigation and tabloid wars in New York City, Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong, in fact that his call with Ukrainian president Zelensky was “perfect.” His most loyal allies have taken up this line, and supporters wearing “read the transcript” T-shirts have been arrayed behind Trump at his rallies.

The problem with this defense on the merits is that the call wasn’t perfect. It was so clearly inappropriate that most of the professionals listening in real time were alarmed. The problem as a practical political matter is that maintaining the “perfect” line allows the president’s critics to score easy points every time another insider emerges to say he was disturbed by the call.

Meanwhile, Republicans have leaned heavily on the “no quid pro quo” argument that quickly emerged after the rough transcript of the call was released. The call doesn’t include an explicit quid pro quo, but it is suggestive of one, certainly combined with the unexplained withholding of defense aid to Ukraine. Here, too, more and more evidence has emerged — EU ambassador Gordon Sondland’s revised testimony is the latest example — that the aid package was conditioned on Ukraine’s committing to investigations that Trump wanted.

Overall, the White House and Republicans have been violating the first rule of a good defense counsel, which is not to deny things that are undeniable. It erodes your credibility and makes it harder to mount a better defense on other grounds.

Celebrate Rick Brookhiser’s Give Me Liberty . . .

. . . by listening to the amazing, 13-part podcast series, featuring Rick and Luke Thompson (and in one episode, the great Jay Nordlinger), that NRO has created. You’ll find a description of it all here. You’ll find the series’ home page here. And click on the following link if you have been a bad boy or girl who has yet to purchase a copy of Rick’s acclaimed new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea.

If You Don’t Check Out These Fourteen Exceptional Pieces, I Will Be Sent to Bed without Supper. So Please Click and Read.

1. Rick isn’t the only one celebrating a new book this week: So is Rich Lowry, whose The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free is getting much and deserved attention. He shares one of its themes: that America’s national book is The Bible. From the piece:

The English became a Bible-soaked people. The availability of the Bible and the emphasis on it for direct access to the word of God put a premium on literacy, and England became a highly literate society by the standards of the day. The act of reading the Bible impressed on people their own dignity, a revolutionary spark that wouldn’t be extinguished. They were also exposed to the Old Testament notions of nationality and a chosen people, which came to have such a central role in English and American history.

On our shores, the Geneva Bible favored by Calvinists initially dominated (a version of it is sometimes referred to as the “breeches” Bible for its strikingly modest version of the story of Adam and Eve, who, having discovered their nakedness, “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves breeches”).

The first copy of the King James Bible may have been brought over by the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower. This translation won out and came to occupy an unparalleled place in the culture. Families often didn’t own any other book. It would be passed down in wills.

As the historian David D. Hall writes, “no book was read more often or in so many different ways: privately in silence, aloud in households where reading may sometimes have proceeded ‘in course’ through the Old and New Testaments, and in church services as the text for Sunday sermons.”

It wasn’t until the Revolution that the Bible could be legally published in America, and the floodgates opened to an insatiable market. By around 1800, the traveling Bible salesman and author Parson Weems (he gave us the story of George Washington and the cherry tree) could boast to his publisher of all the editions he was moving: “I tell you, this is the very season and age of the Bible. Bible Dictionaries, Bible tales, Bible stories — Bibles plain or paraphrased, Carey’s Bibles, Collins’ Bibles, Clarke’s Bibles, Kimptor’s Bibles, no matter what or whose, all, all will go down, so wide is the crater of public appetite at this time.”

2. More Nationalism: Michael Auslin reviews Colin Dueck’s Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism, and finds it a serious attempt to explain America’s post-9/11, Trump-saturated foreign policy. From the review:

Conservative nationalism, on Dueck’s view, can be traced back to the founding of the Republic. Far from a quixotic attempt to isolate America from the world around it, conservative nationalism aimed at protecting the infant country’s sovereignty while encouraging republicanism abroad, in line with American ideology. In this approach, Dueck modifies Robert Kagan’s thesis in Dangerous Nation, which argued that the ideological mission trumped a prudent focus on limitations to the American role abroad. Yet Dueck also differs from Walter McDougall, who in Promised Land, Crusader State argues that 1898 and the beginning of the American imperial moment marked the definitive break with traditional U.S. foreign policy. Dueck rather sees the change coming two decades later, with our entry into World War I and the emergence of a Wilsonian liberal internationalism that soon became the dominant foreign-policy orientation of 20th- and early-21st-century America.

There has been, however, no single Republican response to liberal internationalism. Dueck identifies three strands of the larger GOP foreign-policy tradition: noninterventionists, conservative internationalists, and hardline unilateralists. Mapping these varieties onto today’s conservatives would roughly equate the noninterventionists with the isolationist “paleocons” of the John Mearsheimer variety; conservative internationalists with the free-trade, nation-building “neocons” that ostensibly dominated the George W. Bush administration; and the hardline unilateralists with Trump. Age of Iron therefore contextualizes Trump’s differences not merely from Democrats, but from much of the Republican party, as well.

The core chapters of Age of Iron trace the history of Republican foreign policy from Teddy Roosevelt through Trump. Most of these decades Dueck characterizes as the “global versus national” approach, as successive Republican presidents and party leaders reacted to Democratic policies, especially those of FDR and Truman, and also to America’s dramatically changed position in the world after 1917 and especially 1945.

3. For all the know-it-alls, a true know-it-all, Andy McCarthy, reminds us that impeachment is unpredictable. From the article:

At this juncture, articles of impeachment based on the Ukraine scenario appear certain. There will be at least one charge of abusing the president’s foreign-relations power by encouraging a foreign government to investigate American citizens (the Bidens) for violations of the foreign government’s laws. A second article will likely allege that the president engaged in that abuse of power to further another one — specifically, to have the 2020 election influenced by the foreign power. Perhaps there will be an allegation that the president “extorted“ Ukraine, or in effect sought a “bribe,” by withholding vital defense aid to squeeze Kyiv into probing the Bidens. Almost certainly, there will be a charge of obstructing Congress’s investigation — for Democrats, it will be more effective to impeach Trump for failing to turn the over scads of information they will demand than to fight the president’s privilege claims in court, where Democrats could lose.

If the articles of impeachment are as just outlined, they would not move Senate Republicans toward removal. This is big wind, no rain. No matter what the president may have contemplated, nothing terrible actually happened. The Ukrainians got their aid. They did not have to commit to investigating the Bidens. And if this escapade has any discernible effect on the 2020 election, it will likely be to Trump’s detriment, not the Democrats’. Sure, Joe Biden’s candidacy takes a hit, but that was going to happen anyway — which is why Democrats have not shied from an impeachment push in which, inevitably, the former vice president becomes collateral damage.

But then again, we don’t know if this is all there is.

Democrats had their whistleblower held in reserve for a while before they decided it was time to pounce. Are they holding anything else? And whether they’re holding it or not, is there anything else? As we’ve seen, Trump is unorthodox (how’s that for euphemism?). His irregular behavior does not have to be materially damaging for Democrats and the press to portray it as the end of the Republic as we know it (see, e.g., Collusion, Russia).

4. David Harsanyi mocks the liberal media’s convenient love of things so-called. From the Corner post:

Not long after federal court in Manhattan blocked an HHS rule allowing doctors to refuse to perform abortions, assisted suicides, and other procedures for religious reasons, reporters began engaging in deft-defying acts of rhetorical deception.

It’s been long insinuated that concerns over religious freedom are merely elaborate schemes cooked up by bigots and misogynists. One of the ways journalists like to intimate bad faith is by placing quotation marks around perfectly factual phrases like “religious freedom” or “conscience.”

Now, it’d be another story if there were comparable journalistic standards for the usage of “gun safety” or “pro-choice,” or any of the thousands of debatable labels that have been appropriated for partisan purposes, but there aren’t. It is a standard almost exclusively deployed for “controversial” topics — which, loosely translated, means “conservative positions.”

Take, for example, this NPR headline: “Judge Scraps ‘Conscience’ Rule Protecting Doctors Who Deny Care For Religious Reasons.” If we’re handing out quotation marks why doesn’t the word “care” get them, as well? One, after all, could convincingly argue that a doctor whose “conscience” tells him to avoid harming other human beings is engaging in the very definition of the Hippocratic ideal.

RELATED: Charlie Cooke weighs in.

5. More Harsanyi: He goes after the bogus religious tolerance of Pete Buttigieg, alleged saint and POTUS wannabe. From the piece:

Take this recent interview with Adam Wren, in which Buttigieg was asked how “he would approach religious freedom broadly.”

“The touchstone has to be the idea that religious freedom, like other freedom, is constrained when it becomes a rationale for doing harm,” Buttigieg begins. “So when we talk about freedom of speech, that does not mean you can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

Let’s just stop here and note for the record that you can shout “fire” in a crowded theater. This infuriating analogy — issued by Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by untold thousands of censorship apologists — was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in our history.

The unanimous Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw a bunch of socialists, some of whom had fled czarist oppression, into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. The alleged “harm” of these anti-war activists — who were, in every sense, exercising legitimate political expression — was undermining recruitment efforts for World War I.

Even if, like me, you believe that most socialists would gladly throw you in prison if they got the chance, you may also realize that a truly free society doesn’t “constrain” dissent as a matter of ideological preference.

Does Buttigieg? He wants you to know that, like freedom of speech, religious freedom is really about protecting the minorities he likes. Buttigieg went on to inform Wren that “the original doctrines and federal legislative law go back to, I think, substances in rituals among Native Americans says [sic] about freedom to undertake religious practice.”

6. Robert VerBruggen looks at the data on low-skilled / unmarried men and sees important causes, but concludes that society isn’t going to rectify them. From the analysis:

We’re nearly a year out from That One Tucker Carlson Rant: the one where he talked at length about how the American economy had left behind low-skilled men and how that was ruining their chances at marriage. There was a lot of truth in this theory, as evidenced by the decline of the manufacturing sector, slow wage growth for the less educated, and growing numbers of men opting out of the labor force entirely, not to mention studies showing that women really do prize breadwinning in their mates.

But a new academic paper, from University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate Ariel J. Binder, asks us to remember that causation can run in the opposite direction too: The decline of low-skilled men’s marriage prospects could cause them to stop pursuing work. Binder shows this by looking at two major social changes that made low-skilled men less important as breadwinners. Combined, these shifts could explain 28 percent of the ten-point decline in the labor-force participation of young, non-college-educated men between 1965 and 2015.

Carlson said that “male wages declined” and added that “when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.” Binder adds that even when men have a decent job, many women aren’t interested in them. And “when work is less likely to win a desirable marriage contract, why bother?”

7. Don’t let the door hit you in the . . . Jim Geraghty says gedowdaheer to Beto. From the analysis:

Last year I wrote that “the endless glowing profiles of O’Rourke in every publication from Vanity Fair to Spin to Rolling Stone to Town & Country represent the national media’s worsening challenge in differentiating between what it wants to see happen and what is actually happening.” Left-leaning writers and editors and producers across the country desperately wanted to see a Democrat who could win in Texas and convinced themselves that O’Rourke was that guy. To his credit, he came closer than any other Democrat has in a generation. That is still about 215,000 votes short.

What was striking about all of those 2018 profiles was how . . . surface-oriented they were, regularly mentioning O’Rourke’s old punk rock band, the skateboarding, the casual profanity which was inevitably interpreted as some sort of authenticity, the descriptions of his sweat, the inevitable reference to his Kennedy-esque looks and absence of any mention of his Kennedy-esque driving record. The tone and style of the profiles of O’Rourke weren’t all that different from the profiles of actors, musicians, and directors in Vanity Fair, GQ, and other celebrity magazines — a lot of personality and anecdotes and perfectly cinematic photo shoots. You could read for pages with little mention of anything O’Rourke had done in Congress, because as a member of the minority party, he hadn’t done much. The one race Barack Obama ever lost in his life, a congressional bid against Representative Bobby Rush, the incumbent dismantled the young and ambitious Obama with one devastating question: “Just what’s he done? I mean, what’s he done?” One could fairly put the same question to O’Rourke.

8. More Geraghty: He profiles special prosecutor John Durham, Washington’s least-known / most-important figure. From the article:

By 1991, Durham was leading the prosecution of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra. One of the most notorious gangsters of the era, William “The Wild Guy” Grasso, had been murdered, shot in the back of the neck and his body dumped in a patch of poison ivy by the side of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield. Around the same time, Grasso’s right-hand man, “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, had been shot outside an International House of Pancakes but survived. The FBI and Durham rolled in, convicting seven high-profile mobsters, including boss Nicholas Bianco for 11 years and 5 months in prison for racketeering. The Hartford Courant called Durham “an avenging angel” who had put one third of Connecticut’s mafia in jail and never lost a case. In a six-year period, Durham racked up 119 organized-crime convictions.

Durham’s foes in the courtroom weren’t just the mafia. He won a conviction of William Dodge, leader of the Ku Klux Klan in southern New England, on charges of illegal possession of firearms, silencers, and explosives. During the trial of one of Dodge’s fellow Klansmen, Scott E. Palmer, Durham had a dramatic confrontation with a Roman Catholic priest, the Reverend Mark R. Jette, who had testified that Palmer had reformed his hateful ways. “He is confident Scott Palmer has seen the error of his ways?” Durham asked, according to press accounts. He then presented two drawings Palmer had made in prison. The first was a skull and crossbones with the words, “White Power,” and a note saying, “Kill all the n*****s for Santa Claus.” The other “appeared to be an oval-shaped insignia. At the top was ‘LYNCH MOB’ and at the bottom was ‘WALLINGFORD CT.’ In the middle was a noose and a fiery cross.” The judge found Durham’s presentation of the sketches more compelling than the reverend and sentenced Palmer to the maximum 63 months on federal weapons charges.

Durham and law enforcement rounded up 42 members of the Puerto Rican street gang Los Solidos and put them all away for long sentences with convictions and guilty pleas. The Solidos’ crimes were the kind that could make hard men lay awake at night: In a case of mistaken identity, a group of Solidos mistook a gray Toyota driven a Hartford mechanic for the similar car of a rival gang member in Charter Oak Terrace housing project and opened fire. They shot the mechanic’s seven-year-old daughter, Marcelina Delgado, in the head. Every gang member charged in the murder was sentenced to life in prison.

9. John O’Sullivan says that on Brexit, Boris Johnson really must reach a deal with Nigel Farage. From the analysis:

Boris is enjoying leads in national opinion polls that range from 5 to 12 percent over Labour. That must tempt him to recklessness. But this will not be an election decided by a uniform national “swing” from left to right. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University, our premier psephologist (you’re reading Bill Buckley’s National Review — look it up), predicts that an unprecedented number of voters will cast ballots for neither of the two main parties. That alone will change the outcome in seats that might otherwise fall to a national swing. In addition, dedicated Remainers will be voting tactically in order to defeat the local Tory candidates. Already, an early poll of individual constituencies by Survation shows one Plymouth seat vulnerable to such voting where the Tory candidate, a strong Leaver, has accordingly made overtures to the Brexit party not to put up anyone against her. There will be more such cases in the next six weeks. All of this is playing out before the campaign, with its inevitable thrills and spills, has scarcely started. Boris’s deal, only now getting detailed scrutiny, is plainly open to serious attack as Howe’s article demonstrates. Nigel Farage, who is an effective campaigner, will subject it to merciless criticism around the country.

Vilifying him will not work, since voters know that he is not Jeremy Corbyn but has instead played a massive role in advancing Brexit from the periphery to the center of politics. Propaganda has to have some slight resemblance to the truth. And Farage is popular with the grassroots in both parties. In short, Boris and the Tories cannot take victory for granted. And if they fail to win this election, they will have the Brexit party on their tail more or less indefinitely and not necessarily as a minor party.

The way for Boris to handle both challenges is, oddly enough, by the same policy: reaching an electoral deal with Nigel. To remove one inevitable objection, neither man can be expected to compromise on his central Brexit platform. But that isn’t necessary since what is required is not a common policy platform but an electoral deal. Put simply, the Tories would not put up candidates in the 44 Labour-held seats in which UKIP (the Brexit Party’s predecessor) came second to Labour in the 2015 election. The Brexit party in return would not run candidates against the Tories in a specified number of seats — ranging from the 75 seats where UKIP came second to the Tories in 2015 to — more plausibly — every U.K. seat apart from the agreed 44. The practical advantages of this deal are obvious; the moral justification would be that both parties want to secure Brexit above all but accept also that conservative divisions over the best kind of Brexit should be represented in the House of Commons (and perhaps even on the government benches).

10. Daniel Tenreiro believes Twitter’s case for restrictions on political advertising make no sense. From the analysis:

Even if Twitter enacts its policy neutrally, barring political ads favors incumbents over newcomers and grassroots organizations. Lesser-known politicians and advocacy groups must now turn to television or print advertisements, which are more expensive, or try their luck gaining traction organically. President Trump, whose 66 million followers far outnumber those of any other current politician, will have a perennial messaging advantage over opponents. So will other celebrities with large followings, rendering fame a more potent force in American politics.

Not only does Twitter’s policy increase the premium on celebrity and incumbency, it incentivizes sensationalism. In Trump’s most retweeted post last year, he threatened a nuclear attack against North Korea; naturally, it drew a lot of eyeballs. Without the option to advertise, politicians and advocacy groups are forced into an arms race wherein the most shocking tweets win them followers. This might be why the American Civil Liberties Union has resorted to tweeting bold statements in all caps, repeated as many times as spatial constraints allow (see, e.g., “ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE. ABORTION IS A RIGHT”). For an organization with 100 attorneys on staff, it’s a decidedly reductive messaging tactic. On the other hand, why bother making a nuanced pro-choice argument that will be lost in a sea of similarly boring tweets?

In a New York Times op-ed supporting Twitter’s decision, tech journalist Kara Swisher wrote that “social media platforms have become hostage to all forms of abuse and manipulation, not just via political ads, and they’ve dragged us all with them into the cesspool.” Swisher takes for granted that political advertisements feed into this “cesspool,” but it’s hardly obvious. Before this policy change, Twitter maintained a public list of certified political-candidate and issue advertisers. Users knew which content was sponsored, and who was paying for it. In the case of false or misleading advertisements, watchdogs and fact-checkers could hold the sponsors responsible. The “abuse and manipulation” that Swisher speaks of is largely the result of bots built by foreign actors and unscrupulous news sites that use social media to drive traffic — as well as, let’s face it, well-meaning American citizens unaffiliated with political-action committees. In contrast to the cesspool of anonymous accounts sharing fake news, political advertisements are an oasis of transparency. At a time when shady elements have allegedly hijacked social media, should we really be targeting the Gates Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the National Parks Action Fund?

11. Michael Brendan Dougherty mocks the centrist elite and their contrived obituary-writing about the old liberal order. From the piece:

When I’m done ruminating on the depredations of the “deep state,” sometimes I wonder if there’s a dark room somewhere in which graduates from the Kennedy School of Government and the PPE programs of Oxford and Cambridge are programming bots and producing viral news sites to spread their messages across social media. From this den they amplify the voices of their resolutely centrist, establishment-oriented collaborators, creating an alternate reality.

In this reality, Brexit is already a disaster. Hungary and Poland are places of severe political repression. Donald Trump is subverting the Constitution and running a pro-Russia foreign policy. America has withdrawn from the world stage, having given up on global leadership. Angela Merkel is the “leader of the free world and the only one trying to save the seven-decade-long liberal world order that is rapidly collapsing. The message is that there’s too much change and it’s terrifying.

Commentators have been building this picture for a long time. Bret Stephens wrote a book in 2014 titled America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. Stephens was mostly concerned with the rhetorical momentum that advocates of foreign-policy restraint had made in recent years. He could not really cite anywhere on earth that the United States military had actually stopped occupying. The great sin of the time wasn’t that President Obama had refused to intervene in Syria — U.S. Special Forces had been supporting various Sunni militias there since 2012 — but that he hadn’t intervened forcefully enough. The war in Afghanistan was only 13 years old, rather than 18, then. Simpler times.

12. Pointless! Wasteful! Sexist! Madeline Kearns flushes away the idiocy of gender-neutral bathrooms. From the article:

Polling consistently shows that most Americans care most about bread and peace. They do not generally give much thought to potty policies. And so, making such a policy a priority in a political campaign is likely to come across as out of touch and self-regarding — a fact the Democrats learned a little too late in 2016.

Nevertheless, many in the metropolitan elites like to accuse the Trump administration of having targeted transgender people. By reversing Obama-era policies, they say, Trump & Co. have robbed trans people of safe and pleasant bathroom experiences. But isn’t anyone curious how it all worked before Obama? And why is no one complaining about the various presidents before Trump who held the same approach to sex-segregated bathrooms?

What’s more, it’s not like presenting as the opposite sex is particularly new human behavior. Since the 1960s, a tiny number of individuals have even made a serious surgical commitment in more closely resembling the opposite sex. Life was, and no doubt is, difficult for such people. But how might this ideally play out? That is context-dependent, naturally. But if, for argument’s sake, we presume such a person to be sincere and well-meaning — as opposed to, say, a predator — then a natural relationship of trust might ensue. One where a woman washing her hands at the bathroom sink might do a double-take, realizing that she is in the presence of a man, but after carrying out an instinctual and internal risk assessment, decide all is fine. She might even smile and say hello.

But that is her prerogative, surely. The man in this rare hypothetical ought not to have a legal right to be there.

Moreover, if his legal right to be there trumps her right to privacy, then no allowance is made for the fact that, while some men presenting as women are benign and sincere, others are malign and predatorial. Wouldn’t the woman, then, be justified in feeling unsafe?

Many accept that she would. Which is why “gender-neutral” restrooms were introduced as an attempt at a compromise. Instead of people using whichever restroom they felt corresponded with their “gender identity,” it seemed more reasonable to have all gender-neutral bathrooms for everyone (including “non-binary” people). But is this reasonable?

13. Armond White sees the woke making a joke of slavery in Kasi Lemmon’s Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo as the famous fugitive. From the review:

These sentimental, actorly ploys recall the fact that Lemmons switched from a career as an actress (Silence of the Lambs) to indie director, for a better chance at success. Her films — Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me, and now Harriet — exemplify black striver’s syndrome. They are not culturally grounded so much as they show a hustler’s desperation, using race anxiety for success — the commercial and electoral formula that Obama made popular.

Actress Lemmons’s best performance was in Rusty Cundieff’s brilliant 1993 satire Fear of a Black Hat, in which she played a clueless journalist bent on exploiting hip-hop for nominal black triumph and, above all, her own egotistic ends. As in that tirade against Douglass, Harriet adds #MeToo feminism to Tubman’s puzzlement about her mission in life.

This Tubman bio-pic, with its trite, fashionable historical revision (bits of Hamilton, including actor Leslie Odom Jr.), is part of the plan to propel the tiny dynamo Erivo into movie stardom. Erivo’s eager-beaver energy and wild-eyed intensity epitomize unpleasant aggression rather than the strength of character that Cicely Tyson conveyed when she portrayed Tubman in the 1978 TV movie A Woman Called Moses.

In Harriet, Millennial hindsight and historical revision come off as pompous and patronizing.

14. Victor Davis Hanson finds the parameters of the Trump Doctrine as deterrence without intervention. From the essay:

But the problem with American policy after the Cold War and the end of the Soviet nuclear threat was that the U.S. was not really comfortable as an imperial global watchdog, we no longer had a near monopoly on the world economy that subsidized these expensive interventions, and many of these thugs did not necessarily pose a direct threat to American interests — perhaps ISIS, an oil-rich Middle East dictator, and radical Islamists excepted. What started as a quick, successful take-out of a monster sometimes ended up as a long-drawn out “occupation” in which all U.S. assets of firepower, mobility, and air support were nullified in the dismal street fighting of a Fallujah or a Mogadishu.

The bad guys were bothersome and even on occasion genocidal, and their removal sometimes improved the lot of those of the ground — but not always. When things got messy — such as in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Somalia — it was not clear whether the American use of force resulted in tactical success leading to strategic advantage. Often preemptive insertion of troops either did not further U.S. deterrence or actually undermined it — as in the case of the “Arab Spring” bombing in Libya.

At home, in a consistent pattern, the most vociferous advocates of preemptory war usually claimed prescient brilliance, as when the American military rapidly dislodged the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. But then came the occupation and post-war anarchy. As American dead mounted, the mission mysteriously creeped into nation-building. Sometimes, in the post-invasion chaos, the once noble liberated victims became the opportunistic victimizers. Depressed, some of the original architects of preemption blamed those who had listened to them. The establishment’s calling card became, “My weeks-long brilliant theoretical preemption was ruined by your actual botched decade-long occupation.” In extremis, few kept their support; most abandoned it.

Last Call! The Webathon Shuts Down on Sunday

This is not akin to Abraham badgering God over the fate of Sodom. No, not at all. But still, not all badgering is bad. Maybe it should sometimes be called goodgering? OK, that was dumb, but when the cause is just, the need real, the case plausible, there is a need to be, shall we say, repetitious.

And so we have, and we are again, this one last time: Since October 8 we have encouraged our readers — so many hundreds of thousands who eat, drink, sleep NRO, day in and out, year in and out, walking down the hallways clenching their FREE pass, piling on the edibles in the no-charge cafeteria — to help out, just a bit. We have bills big and relentless to pay here, and we have that damned National Review v. Mann case we are fighting on behalf of the First Amendment. The piggy bank isn’t even empty, because it was cracked open and plundered of its few coins years ago (how many years ago . . . let’s just say the then-president had the nickname “Ike”), so we ask and hope for reader assistance. Somewhere in the ballpark of 2,500 (a lot of good people, God bless them each and every one . . . but on a percentage basis, geeesh, that’s tiny) have responded, and somewhere in the ballpark of $295,000 has been donated.

Our goal is to raise $325,000. Our goal could, legitimately, be $500,000, or more, given our needs. But the one we have, a stretch, yep, is the matter at hand. Reaching it between today and tomorrow is feasible. If you are part of the feasery. Would you be?

If the answer is yes, then please donate here. It earns you our love and affection (which you have, regardless . . . even if you root for the Red Sox).

The “Education” Issue of NR Is Upon Us, Off the Presses, Hot (the Piping Kind), and Awaiting Your Eyeballs

Shall we share four pieces from the November 25, 2019, issue, two from the special section on education, and two other gems? We shall!

1. How about the cover essay? Kevin Williamson pens a brilliant analysis of Kanye West and his Jesus turn. From the beginning of the essay:

Kanye West is going to embarrass the Christians who have recklessly embraced him as a mascot. That much seems inevitable. But that’s okay: There are worse things than embarrassment, and Kanye West is an embarrassing guy — needy, arrogant, compulsive. His insecurity is as epic as it is perplexing in a man who by all appearances has everything. He is fabulously rich (though not quite as much so as his wife’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, a billionaire at 22), and he is married to a woman who is widely considered (de gustibus, etc.) the great sex symbol of her generation. They seem reasonably happy, and they have four children with goofy celebrity names — North, Chicago, Psalm, and Saint. He sells truckloads of expensive sneakers in collaboration with Adidas and has designed clothes for Louis Vuitton. All that and a measure of artistic respect, too — his musicianship and his verse both are deft and accomplished, widely admired even among those of his peers not well disposed to him. And the people line up behind the critics: Kanye has had four No. 1 hits, 17 in the top ten, and 96 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. He is 42 years old.

And he is kind of a mess.

Until West’s recent foray into MAGA politics and evangelism, what people who are, let us say, outside of the rap-music–reality-show–sneakerhead demographic knew him best for was being married to Kim Kardashian and having been rude to Taylor Swift at an award presentation, making “Imma let you finish” a meme and a catchphrase and leading Barack Obama, who apparently had a lot of spare time on his hands as president, to dismiss West as “a jackass.” It was not the first time West had done something like that, in fact. After losing out at an earlier awards ceremony, he threw a fit, concluding: “If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.” He is not shy about asserting his importance: He titled one album Yeezus (another one, Yandhi, didn’t make it out) and has declared: “I’m unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” Some readers of this magazine will know him mainly for his having stood next to a very uncomfortable-looking Mike Myers at a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina and announcing: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Some of that nonsense is self-conscious marketing, a kind of grandly inflated version of the clickbait economy that keeps the gurgle churning, assembling a hectomillionaire’s fortune a fraction of a penny at a time. And that works: Kanye West’s Life of Pablo went platinum in the United States and gold in the United Kingdom on the strength of streaming alone, the first album to do so.

Maybe it is all part of a grand plan. Or maybe he just says the first thing to come into his head — which, lately, has been: “Jesus Is King.”

2. China expert Chris O’Dea hung with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and shares his views on the ChiComs. From the piece:

Signing a defense agreement between the United States and Greece during a brief ceremony at the Greek foreign ministry on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Athens, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo initiated a new American strategy of contesting China’s mercantilist commercial expansion. While the agreement did not mention China, in geopolitical terms it marks a fundamental challenge to China’s ambitions in Greece, the Mediterranean, and the European Union.

The signing took place just a few miles from the port of Piraeus, which abuts the Greek capital and is the major symbol of China’s mercantile ambitions in the West. Chinese premier Li Keqiang hailed Piraeus as China’s “gateway to Europe” during a visit in 2014. By 2016, COSCO Shipping, owned by the Chinese state, had achieved majority control of the company that operates Piraeus’s port under a concession contract from the Greek government. Under the new accord, the previous requirement for annual renewal of U.S.–Greek defense cooperation is replaced by a commitment to ongoing cooperation, setting the stage for increased utilization of the Souda Bay naval facility on the island of Crete, formalizing operational cooperation and technology transfer related to drones, and, most important, committing the U.S. to participate in developing new naval and air-force facilities at Alexandroupoli, a strategically located port in northeastern Greece.

Pompeo discussed the U.S. strategy to confront Chinese commercial expansion in an exclusive interview with National Review in Athens, shortly after signing the defense pact and delivering a speech to an audience of Greek officials and business leaders in which he criticized China’s “coercive” economic practices.

3. Leading off the education section, Sarah Schutte reflects on the way technology is affecting home-schooling, and the one thing it should never replace (parental involvement!). From the piece:

If you’d like a dictionary definition, Merriam-Webster says that to homeschool is “to teach school subjects to one’s children at home.” But this definition is being challenged, in large part because of new technologies that are making it increasingly simple to create virtual classrooms with endless possibilities.

Connections Academy is one such example. Its virtual programs “are tuition-free online public schools for students in grades K–12,” and its services are available in 29 out of 50 states. It is focused on bringing the classroom to children, giving them access to high-level education while also enabling one-on-one attention between students and their instructors. Because it is a public-school program, it comes at no cost, and it offers ease of use, facilitates parental involvement, and provides a wider community with which to connect, since students from all over the state are engaging with one another daily. Such online K–12 programs are accredited and offer access to college-prep and even college-credit courses. Connections Academy uses a program called “Connexus,” an online platform designed to host classes, schedules, chatrooms, grades, and more. Parents, coaches, teachers, and administrators have access to Connexus along with students, which enables better communication and — since parents can see their children’s grades, lessons, and assignments — greater accountability.

More-traditional forms of homeschooling generally entail parents’ creating their own curriculum, sometimes with the help of programs such as Sonlight, Seton, or St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, my homeschool alma mater. These programs pair parents with an adviser or counselor and often provide detailed lesson plans for high-school-aged students. They do not usually provide instruction, but are rather a support and guide to the teaching parent. Parents take this assistance and use it to create their own schedules and plans, teaching all or at least most subjects themselves. Extracurricular activities abound — despite the pervasive idea that homeschoolers are socially deprived — with many homeschool families forming anything from drama groups to orchestras to speech-and-debate clubs together.

A variety of technological advances are available to such traditional homeschooling families as well, and plenty of homeschoolers make considerable use of them. For example, Connections Academy advertises resources on its website that are specifically aimed at traditional homeschoolers. These are categorized by grade and subject, and include links to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetKids program, (a math-games website for younger children), and (an entire site devoted to telling the story of Hamlet through stick-figure drawings and humor). In my family, a Netflix subscription allows Bob Ross to teach art, YouTube provides hours of explanatory science videos, and Amazon Prime gives access to the joy that is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These sorts of resources also can be useful to families that aren’t able to practice traditional homeschooling but want to take advantage of certain of its aspects.

4. Rafi Eis reveals how NYC lefties are engaged in a complete takeover of city schools. From the report:

Two recent developments in New York City’s public schools highlight the perils of current progressive education theory and foretell a radical transformation. The first episode got close to no response from conservative thinkers, and the second received an insufficient one. Just as they do in economics, law, and politics, conservatives need to have theories about the education process. Promoting school choice, the typical conservative approach, is no longer enough. We need alternative theories about how learning occurs and what the purpose of school is.

The first incident was the revelation that the vast majority of students at more than 40 public schools in New York City had received passing report-card grades, but less than a fifth could pass the statewide math and English exams in grades three to eight. In an especially egregious school, every student received a passing grade, but only 7 percent could pass the state English exam. Even though these students, numbering in the thousands, failed the exams, they will matriculate into the next grade. In response to the public outcry over this news, the Department of Education spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said, “It’s apples and oranges to compare students’ classroom grades over the course of a full school year with their performance on a two-day state exam.” This is nothing less than an argument for invalidating all standardized test results as a measure of learning.

The more famous second development was the recommendation of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) in August 2019 to end programs for gifted students in New York City public schools. To increase racial diversity in gifted programs, SDAG proposed switching to the “schoolwide enrichment” model for gifted students. In this way, the panel claims, gifted programs can be more “inclusive” without causing anyone’s education to suffer. While the schoolwide-enrichment model is not being implemented immediately, Carranza is laying the groundwork to move forward with it. “You can’t point to a specific pedagogy or a specific curriculum,” he said on public radio, complaining that the gifted programs differ across the city. “It’s just faster and more. That can’t be what ‘gifted and talented’ is in the biggest school system in the nation.”

While the SDAG proposal received much more publicity, the policy that allows students to matriculate despite very poor test results will harm many more students. Conservatives are under the impression that the discrepancy between grade level and skill is due to grade inflation and that the attempt to end the gifted programs is based on identity politics. There is some truth in that, but both developments are primarily based on current education theory.

The Six

1. At The Federalist, Ben Weingarten likes what he sees in the Trump Administration’s renewed sense of calling out the ChiComs. From the piece:

At last week’s annual Hudson Institute Herman Kahn Award Gala, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the guest of honor, delivered a poignant and powerful address on the unfolding strategic competition between the United States and China.

In Pompeo’s speech, dubbed “The China Challenge,” he surveyed the history of American willful blindness and consequent folly toward the totalitarian regime, acknowledging that “we accommodated and encouraged China’s rise for decades…even when that rise was at the expense of American values, Western democracy, and security, and good common sense.”

He illustrated the dichotomy whereby the CCP has created a “permanent class of China lobbyists in the United States” that has manipulated U.S. leaders while exerting complete control over the flow of information into its mainland. Therefore, while the CCP’s narrative has flourished here, our counter-narrative has never entered there.

He detailed the harmful consequences for America and the world, in the way of China’s: rampant intellectual property theft; demands that those who transact with it toe the Communist Party line; asymmetric weapons development; threats to international order and commerce on the seas where trillions of dollars in goods flow; “debt trap diplomacy”—or a “loan-to-own” plan to buy power and influence around the world—memorialized by the “Belt and Road Initiative“; coercive acts eroding any semblance of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong; and persecution of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer treats readers to his reflections on C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra.” From the piece:

In the second of the three books of C.S. Lewis’s brilliant Space Trilogy, Perelandra, our beloved Cambridge philologist and hero, Elwin Ransom, travels to Perelandra (Venus) and struggles to prevent a repetition of the Fall in the Garden of Eden as it had happened, tragically, in our world. What might have happened, after all, if either Eve or Adam had resisted the temptations of the devil? What might have happened had there been an advocate for God’s position in the great cosmic struggle for the soul?

“How v. kind of you to send me Mr Groom’s remarks on Perelandra,” Lewis wrote in a private letter. “I am always like other cats glad to be stroked (I take it one shows even more pride by not liking praise than by liking it) but this was specially welcome because that is miles and away my own favourite among my books and has had a very bad reception from reviewers. Despite the preface they all will take it as an ‘allegory’ and then blame me for not making it clear.” The book, it turns out, was one of Lewis’s favorites. “The one I enjoyed writing least was Screwtape: what I enjoyed most was Perelandra–but, you see, it all comes to nothing.”

Lewis loved that Perelandra was both science fiction (though a term not yet employed) and spiritual, reflecting, he thought, some of the greatest works of fantastic speculation ever written. He wanted, very badly, to be a writer in the same vein as Plato, Thomas More, and G.K. Chesterton. More recently, he wanted to emulate his writing hero, David Lindsay. “Voyage to Arcturus is not the parody of Perelandra but its father. It was published, a dead failure, about 25 years ago,” he confided to a friend, the poetess Ruth Pitter. “Now that the author is dead it is suddenly leaping into fame: but I’m one of the old guard who had a treasured second hand copy before anyone had heard of it.”

3. More Birzer, more Imaginative Conservative: Double B gushes over J.R.R. Tolkein’s amazing short story, “Leaf by Niggle.” From the essay:

One very late night or early morning in 1939, J.R.R. Tolkien awoke, a full story ready to burst from his already imaginatively feverish brain. Contrary to his normal hesitation and typical obsessive writing and rewriting, Tolkien’s short story, “Leaf by Niggle” emerged “virtually complete in my head. It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.” If Tolkien had ever toyed with the ideas found in the novel—in terms of setting, character, or plot—he had no recollection of them or of any of it. Like Athena emerging whole out of the head of Zeus, “Leaf by Niggle” simply appeared on paper that very late evening or early morning in 1939, just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. Sometime in 1940, he read the story—presumably to an approving audience—to the Inklings. Again, the story just emerged, and Tolkien never even edited it after his initial copying it down. It was, he remembered fondly, “the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all.”

Tolkien, though, sat on the story until the editor of The Dublin Review, Christopher Dawson, Tolkien’s fellow parishioner at St. Aloysius in Oxford and the famed Catholic man of letters, requested something fictional in October 1944. Though Dawson lost his job as editor a month later due to a power struggle with the publisher, Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” appeared in the January-February-March 1945 issue of The Dublin Review, along with articles on Thomas More, the Roman Empire, England’s Christian tradition, Czechoslovakia, and Augustan literature.

Whatever its origins, “Leaf by Niggle” must rank as one of the finest short stories of the twentieth century, breath-takingly beautiful, even by the highest Tolkienian standards. As with so many of Tolkien’s writings, “Leaf” takes seriously issues of goodness, free will, destiny, subcreation, and eternity.

4. More C.S. Lewis: At The University Bookman, John Tuttle looks into the first volume of his sci-fi trilogy, “Out of the Silent Planet.” From the reflection:

Even Lewis cannot remove himself entirely from the preconceptions that culture had of the Red Planet. The responsibility for this falls primarily on the shoulders of H. G. Wells, whose War of the Worlds was published in full in 1898. Spattered throughout the text of Out of the Silent Planet, the narrator, as well as Mr. Ransom (the protagonist) himself, toy with the idea of the unknown life-forms on this alien earth and reference the Wellsian notion of creatures dark, loathsome, and utterly un-humanoid.

In this first installment of his sci-fi trilogy, however, Lewis does strive for a fresh take on the theme. One way in which he achieves this is by providing imagery of the Martian habitats that form a contrast with a good deal of the literature up to this point. Mars, as modern man’s continual probing advocates, was seen as a sandy, desolate world. Lewis does not deny such locales throughout the Martian landscape, but also throws in splashes of color—oases of abundant life—and a variety of life.

This is Malacandra—the term used by its natives in identifying their world. In this Lewisian fantasy, Malacandra’s geographical realms vary almost as greatly as those on Earth. There are woods, fields, lakes, mountains, and plateaus: a much brighter picture than the factual Mars. His roseate cliffs and purple forests offer the reader a much more romanticized rendition of the Red Planet. Furthermore, Lewis’s story upends the traditional Wellsian association with Mars, the old-school mindset that sees its inhabitants as little “bringers of war” just as lustful for blood as the Roman god had been. The several races dwelling on Malacandra are mostly removed from hostile tendencies, and it is only the diminutive minds of men that harbor fear and a nature toward violence.

Lewis turns man into the alien, the invader, the enemy of peace. In a poetic twist, humanity’s leap to an unsubstantiated conclusion turns into a crime against the universe. The ruler of Malacandra rebukes Ransom for his perpetual fear and his kidnappers for their wanton dealing of death to Malacandrians. Through Ransom, the reader’s focus is directed inward as an examination of our own morality and an inquiry into our darkest fears.

5. At City Journal, Kay Hymowitz says that America’s immigration debate needs to be about second-generation prospects. From the piece:

The New York Times has not been in the habit of publishing heartening stories about the American dream in recent years, but last week, the editors made an exception, with an article recounting the findings of a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, showing that the sons of low-income immigrants are moving up the economic ladder—as they have since the Ellis Island era. After the article appeared, the Times reporter, Emily Badger, tweeted: “There is a lot in this study tweaking talking points in the current immigration debate.” I’d put it differently: there is a lot in this study suggesting that we’ve been having the wrong immigration debate.

The study itself, “Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the U.S. over the Last Two Centuries,” won’t give any final answers to our immigration dilemmas, but it merits attention for its remarkable reach. The three authors, all economic historians, linked the incomes of immigrant fathers and their American-born sons in three generational cohorts—1880, 1910, and 1980—from 20 of the major sending countries. (They didn’t include daughters, whose economic outcomes are trickier to evaluate, given name changes and shifting employment patterns for women.) The sending countries vary dramatically over time. The 1880 group, for example, came mostly from Northern and Western Europe, or more specifically, from Germany, Ireland, and England; the 1910 cohort, meantime, hailed from Southern and Eastern Europe. Finally, the 1980 faction is dominated by exiles from Latin America and Asia. (The authors pass over the period between 1924 and 1965, when immigration was highly restricted.)

For each group, the researchers compared the immigrant pairs with native-born fathers and sons. They found that upward mobility between first- and second-generation immigrants has remained a constant in U.S. history, regardless of the sending country. As the Times put it: “The adult children of poor Mexican and Dominican immigrants in the country legally today achieve about the same relative economic success as children of poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland did a century ago.” In fact, immigrant sons were 3 to 6 percentile points more upwardly mobile than the sons of American fathers.

6. At Modern Age, Daniel McCarthy looks back at 1989, when faith took down The Wall, but secularism took credit. From the editorial:

The world of today was born thirty years ago. The same year the Berlin Wall ceased to divide Europe, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party ordered the massacre of hundreds if not thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square. Francis Fukuyama published “The End of History?” in the National Interest as the Cold War drew to a close. For more than four decades, that struggle between communism and Christianity, capitalism, and nationalism had defined much of politics—within the West as well as between West and East. But in 1989 a new era was dawning, a liberal era whose hopes were belied by the bloodshed in Beijing. Communist economics was at an end; communist despotism was not.

Capitalism, perversely, would give communist rule in China a new lease on life. In the West, intellectuals celebrated liberalism as the victor of the Cold War, with religion and patriotism discounted steeply. Pope John Paul II and the faith of his fellow Poles had made a contribution to the downfall of European communism in the 1980s. And, yes, the fact that Germans and Hungarians and the rest did not want to be ruled from Moscow was important. But as far as the intelligentsia of Western Europe and the United States was concerned, these facts had little meaning for us: our freedom did not depend on faith or national loyalty; it depended rather on secular universal ideals, those of liberalism and democracy. If capitalism was the salvation of communism in China, in the West a liberalism that shared communism’s scientific pretensions and disregard for religion and national boundaries became the new orthodoxy of the elite. The Cold War ended with irony, not a storybook finish.

BONUS: At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman shares the grim story that the E.U.’s Court of Justice has just set free-speech limits. From the report:

The ruling “essentially allows one country or region to decide what internet users around the world can say and what information they can access,” said Victoria de Posson, senior manager in Europe at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, an industry group that includes Google and Facebook as members.

The judgment does indeed appear to be opening up a Pandora’s Box for the ever-shrinking space for free speech in Europe and potentially worldwide, although it is still unclear at this point, how the judgment might affect free speech worldwide.

Government efforts in Europe to censor free speech have long been ongoing: in Germany, the controversial censorship law, known as NetzDG, which came into effect on October 1, 2017, requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.

The new judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union, presumably, could mean that a German court could order what it deems to be illegal content, or its equivalent, under NetzDG to be removed in other EU member states that do not have a similarly draconian censorship law.

France is looking to adopt a similar law to that in Germany: In early July, France’s National Assembly adopted a draft bill designed to curtail online hate speech. The draft bill gives social media platforms 24 hours to remove “hateful content” or risk fines of up to 4% percent of their global revenue. The bill has gone to the French Senate. Again, if the bill becomes law, the judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union could mean that French courts would be able to demand that Facebook remove what the courts consider illegal content or its equivalent under French law.


Bob Hendley, the southpaw who pitched in the early 60s for the Braves, Giants, Cubs, and Mets, may not have been baseball’s greatest pitcher (his record was 48–52, with a career ERA of 3.97), but he may have pitched in what many consider its greatest pitching duel. It took place on the night of September 9, 1965, a lightning-fast contest of just 1 hour and 43 minutes at Dodger Stadium. That night, Hendly was wearing a Cubs uniform, and pitched brilliantly against the team that would go on the be that season’s World Champs: he gave up one measly hit, and one measly unearned run (a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, an error).

But too bad for Hendley, because hurling for the Dodgers that night was Sandy Koufax, and he was, well, perfect. The Dodger ace faced 27 batters, and not a one reached first. 14 Cubs struck out. It was his fourth career no-no, and his one career perfect game. A game where both teams combined for just . . . one hit.

Of note: Five days later, this time at Wrigley Field, the two southpaws faced off again (the game crept along, taking an exhausting 1:57 to complete!). This time, Hendley prevailed, in a 2–1 complete-game victory, Koufax having given up a two-run homer to fellow Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams in the sixth inning.

Of even notier: With two on and two out in the seventh, with the abysmal-hitting Koufax due up, manager Walter Alston pulled him for pinch-hitter . . . Don Drysdale. That year, the Dodgers’ other ace was hitting .300 — he slapped a single and drove in LA’s sole run. But Big D (who won 23 games in 1965) did not take the mound in relief in the bottom of the frame.

A Dios

Our friend and board member, Allen Sidor, passed away. I had asked for your prayers, and appreciate those who uttered them and brought him peace in is final hours. We remembered him in the current issue of the magazine:

You could find Allen Sidor at home on an NR Cruise, sitting back quietly and cheerfully, people-watching, puffing a fine cigar. There was a gentleness and humility to the California entrepreneur, a selfless man, ever generous with his means and his friendship. Sooner rather than later, seafaring editors, writers, fellow cruisers, cigar aficionados were drawn to him: His company was warm, his camaraderie very real. Eventually, the directors of this institution, aware of his business acumen, asked Al to join the board. He agreed immediately and happily: This coincided with a desire to start a new chapter in his life, of passing leadership in his company to his beloved son Ryan and helping put NR on a sounder business footing. And then too there were socialism and socialists to beat back, and boy oh boy did Al ever want in on that. But coinciding was a slow-growth cancer that last year turned aggressive. And fatal. There was a prolonged, determined fight, a brutal one of high-grade chemo, of severe pain and sleepless nights, waged against impossible odds, aided by the care and compassion of his son, his former wife, and his close friends. Through it, his sweet nature held, but in his last days Al tried to resign his NR position. He claimed he was not contributing. The gesture was refused. Al passed away on October 27, age 63, we expect into God’s comforting arms, which he prayed would be open to him. As do we: Dear friend, R.I.P.

Pray for Al’s soul. Pray for the Republic.

God’s Ample Blessings and Graces Showered Upon You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who can be accused of bad manners, bad breath, and bad judgment via hectoring emails sent to

National Review

It Tolls for Thee, Babycakes


Dear Weekend Jolter,

Put down the KitKat, drop the Mounds, and pay heed.

Today is All Souls Day, and Your Humble Correspondent appreciates this brief tolerance of spiritual anxieties before we get to the ensuring Thanksgiving Feast of NR links. This (fascination) cannot be helped, having stumbled onto, and then becoming fixated with, sites about mystics and apparitions and accounts of tormented souls from Purgatory (there is a museum!), and . . . well, how about you just read Dante.

Still, it’s no laughing matter. Nor is Brexit, which represents another situation where souls are trying to leave some oppressive situation — although it cannot be said that the EU is some means of purification on the way to holiness. It is, as Kevin Williamson points out, the Hotel California:

When the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union — rightly or wrongly, intelligently or meat-headedly, however you see it — that should have been that. But British sovereignty has become so entangled in European protocols as to render Brexit difficult if not quite impossible without the cooperation of the European Union itself. And that cooperation has not been exactly forthcoming. Brussels has worked to make Brexit as difficult, painful, and expensive for the United Kingdom as it can. It has even gone so far as to demand the creation of what amounts to a national border for goods within the United Kingdom, in effect permanently ceding a portion of British sovereignty to the European Union.

And that is the way in which the European Union indentures British liberty and democracy. There is more to liberty than simple unrestricted freedom of action. Liberty includes rights embedded in a particular political regime and legal context, meaning liberty under British government and British law of British making. The British people might legitimately have chosen another course of action — but they did not. And while majoritarian democracy is an instrument of limited legitimacy and applicability (which is why we Americans have a Bill of Rights — “unalienable rights” cannot be voted away), when a question is put to the people, either the result must stand or the people must conclude that they no longer enjoy sovereignty, liberty, or democracy.

What else? Oh yes, Kate Smith beat the Yankees. And kudos to the Nationals for taking the World Series, and to pound home this point, Phil the Editor, who rarely offers two cents about this missive’s contents, corresponds thusly: “I know you don’t like post-merger ball facts for the Jolt, but this is the first World Series in MLB history in which every game was won by the away team. And it’s now been 6 years since a team won the series at home (last, Sox).”


1. Our national debt mounts. We declare this to be nuts. From the editorial:

The news that the budget deficit has returned to a point just a hair shy of the trillion-dollar mark is dispiriting. The Trump administration is rightly proud of its economic record of modest but steady growth accompanied by strong employment and very good growth in wages. But if we cannot get government spending under control during the good times, what hope do we have for the more challenging times? And there will be more challenging times.

Congressional Republicans did make some real progress on spending controls during the Obama years, but it is very difficult to resist revenue-hungry special interests — especially when those interest groups represent big blocs of voters.

And budget reform without presidential leadership is more difficult still. The major drivers of federal spending are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid (along with other health-care subsidies), and national security. President Trump has ruled out pursuing Social Security and Medicare reform out-of-hand. These are very popular entitlements, and particularly popular among some sensitive Republican constituencies. Likewise, military spending is very popular among Republicans, and some conservatives argue, not without reason, that we are not spending enough on the armed services.

We are all for negotiating an extra nickel off every case of pencils the federal bureaucracies order, but the U.S. government is not going to be able to put its fiscal situation on solid footing without addressing the major drivers of spending — meaning entitlement reform. Even if Republicans were willing to countenance the radical tax increases put forward by some leading Democrats, these almost certainly would prove insufficient to cover spending if it continues on its current trajectory. We would need to roughly double federal taxes to make that happen.

2. Parliament’s December 12 election is a choice between sanity and the abyss. From the editorial:

Both the Blair and Cameron governments contributed to the institutional logjam and crisis of the recent Parliament. Cameron’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was supposed to copper-fasten a Tory–Liberal Democrat majority. Instead, the result was to create a novel situation where a majority of parliamentarians opposed to the government’s negotiating strategy with Brussels attempted to puppeteer the executive and undermine the prime minister rather than bring his government to an end and face an election. Separating power and responsibility in this way had the predictable result of sowing chaos and confusion in Westminster. The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, was supposed to be a neutral referee and guardian of parliamentary custom. He became a wild innovator and occasional usurper, undermining the executive on behalf of those committed to reversing Brexit.

These novelties were blessed by yet another. When Johnson made the perfectly normal political decision to suspend Parliament and call for a Queen’s speech, the Supreme Court that was invented by Tony Blair’s government jumped in to declare that what had heretofore been a royal prerogative was now an illegal act. This was an astonishing act of constitutional transgression that, if unchallenged, will resound in history until the days when the memory of a European Union is as distant as the Crimean War. A new Tory government must begin putting recommitting the institutions of British governance to their proper roles.

And so the Tory campaign Johnson leads is on the side of democracy, national sovereignty, the union, Britain’s traditional allies, and constitutional restoration. Prevailing means sanity. Failure leads to the abyss. Good luck to him.

3. Elizabeth Warren has cunning health-care plan that may cost the equivalent of the entire world’s GDP. Or a hell of a heck of a lot. We find her scheme to be textbook fanaticism. From the editorial:

For what purpose does Warren ask Americans to risk reduced national income and declines in access to specialty care? Why should they be prohibited from having private health insurance? It can’t be in order to cover the uninsured: There are many ways — good and bad, conservative and progressive — to expand coverage without forcing everyone into a government-run system. Is it because Americans, even those who are well-off, must be saved from having to pay deductibles and co-payments? That hardly seems like a crisis demanding a sweeping governmental response.

Warren’s plan, heavy as it is on taxes and controls, is alarming in its own right. Still more so is the ideological fanaticism it expresses.

See Miss Virginia

Your Humble Correspondent acknowledges that NR — in its triple threat of Kyle Smith, Armond White, and Ross Douthat — has America’s premier assembly of movie critics. But even Zeppo got crowds in on his brothers. So herewith a recommendation: See the new flick, Miss Virginia, which may be difficult to catch at the local Cineplex, but is to be had: I caught it on Amazon Prime.

Watch the trailer here.

This is the story of single mom Virginia Walden Ford (played by Uzo Aduba), who led the determined and successful fight to have Congress pass legislation to create “opportunity scholarships” for District of Columbia students desperately in need of an alternative to their expensive hellhole schools. Matthew Modine plays the fictional Congressman Clifford Williams, who proved to be Miss Virginia’s Capitol Hill champion.

The flick is a project of The Motion Picture Institute, which is, well, not liberal — it’s determined to make entertaining, inspiring, educating movies and videos about human freedom. So I was rooting for it when the “WATCH” arrow was clicked, but frankly, braced for disappointment. Not so! The movie is very entertaining, yes, educational, with some terrific bits of acting, and a happy (and true!) ending offset by some prior bits of sorrow.

You want a great movie review? Read Armond, Kyle, or Ross. You want to watch an enjoyable / educational movie with the family? Watch Miss Virginia.

Here Is Your Big Basket of Delicious Conservative Halloween Candy — Get Chewing!

1. Rachel McKinnon, says Madeleine Kearns, is not only a cheat, she’s a bully. And this too: She’s a he. Or is it her’s a him? Anyway . . . from the piece:

So, what’s this got to do with the culture at large? First, by pretending that McKinnon is not a man, we have allowed him to cheat at sports at the expense of his female competitors. Because McKinnon being a man is directly relevant to the argument that he should not compete against women, in calling him something other than a man, we obfuscate that argument — and all for the sake of a very recently invented set of blasphemy norms (e.g. “misgendering” and “deadnaming”) that don’t apply to us non-believers.

Second, by pretending that McKinnon is not a man — but rather a vulnerable woman — we have forsworn all expectations of accountability and decency. The most egregious example of this, and the precise moment I decided to stop lending McKinnon special courtesies, was when he lauded the terminal illness of a young woman, Magdalen Berns, whom I held (and still hold) in great esteem.

Berns believed strongly that men cannot be women. As she lay on her deathbed in Scotland, at the age of 36, surrounded by her loved ones, McKinnon tweeted that he was “happy” when bad people died, that this feeling is “justified,” that Berns is a “trash human,” and further advised his followers “don’t be the sort of person who people you’ve harmed are happy you’re dying of brain cancer.” By contrast, here is a characteristically civil, clear and courageous quote from Berns: “it’s not hate to defend your rights and it’s not hate to speak the truth.”

Men can be so rude sometimes.

2. Armond White says Jesus Is King — Kanye West’s new documentary and album — will have a long-lasting impact. From the review:

West’s gospel revival coincides with his political independence. So far, this is West’s most powerful statement since supporting President Trump and wearing a MAGA cap in public. By reviving his faith in the word of God and the independence of black Americana gospel, he forces others to remember the moral foundation of the civil-rights movement, which has been forgotten and deliberately disregarded by fervent secular liberals. (It was at a high pitch during the funerals that turned the spiritual transitions of Aretha Franklin and Elijah Cummings into shameless political rallies.)

Throngs of fans and worshipers taking part in West’s various Sunday Services concerts across the country over the past year are vividly documented in the 38-minute film Jesus Is King. (The IMAX visual emphasis on land, sky, and clouds evokes George Stevens’s 70 mm The Greatest Story Ever Told.) When worshipers sing the lyric “He walked with my mother / I want Him to walk with me,” the song’s emotional resonance recalls the faith of generations — from before the sea change of black politics’ bitter alignment with the tenets of Communist atheism.

The beautiful essence of Jesus Is King is its non-bitterness. Despite private struggle and public pushback (“Before the flood, they did the same to Noah”), West has realized a way to avoid and confound liberal media’s trap: the promotion of black bitterness as the core of African-American self-realization. Jesus Is King is a spiritual work thanks to its deep feeling — pure expression brought to today’s calamitous social condition. The album rejects any recourse to political solutions. West’s personal movement, and the public convocation of his Sunday Services, is clearly against the politics of division.

3. More Kanye: Andrew Walker believes his conversion could be a “cultural wrecking ball” (hopefully not the kind Miley Cyrus rode). From the Corner post:

But in the media rollout of West’s album, it’s worth paying attention to other statements he’s made. He’s criticized abortion and believes that the African-American community is getting played by Democrats. He remains defiant in the face of political correctness. A man of evolving identities who has struggled with mental illness in his past, he told Zane Lowe during a two-hour long Beats 1 interview that during the planning of the album, he insisted that those around him fast and abstain from premarital sex. In the interview with Lowe, West has the anthropology of C. S. Lewis, the economics of Wilhelm Röpke, the cultural mood of Wendell Berry, and the defiance of Francis Schaeffer. In Jesus Is King and in interviews, we see a Kanye West upholding what Russell Kirk referred to as the Permanent Things.

He’s rejecting the hyper-sexualization of culture that he admitted he helped create. In an ode to the Niebuhrian Christ-and-culture typology, he said he’s now living his life for Christ and ostensibly against culture.

In a word, Kanye West is now a cultural reactionary by the standards of our society, and could be, in time, a cultural wrecking ball that dislodges so much of the assumed, comfortable, and unchecked cultural liberalism that dominates the most elite sectors of our country and mocks anything resembling traditionalism and social conservatism. In an age of libertarian sentiment, when the currency of American society appear to be glamorization and the notion that consent is the only reasonable moral standard, West is calling for restraint and limits.

4. Andy McCarthy eyeballs the House impeachment inquiry resolution, and, among various observations, finds a flawed proposal and a questionable process. From the analysis:

With that as a concrete example of what’s at stake, we should pause to deal with the central procedural issue. Republicans continue validly to complain about the rigged process. Whether it will be rigged going forward, though, depends on how committed Schiff and, ultimately, Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) are to open proceedings that both are and appear to be fair. It is not frivolous for Republicans to grouse that the future open proceedings with due process are tainted by the month of closed proceedings without due process, which has made impeachment a foregone conclusion. But the procedural argument won’t win the day, and Democrats still have to make their case to the public, no matter how one-sided things have been to this point.

I am not without hope that there will be real due process in the public hearings — not because hardcore partisans Schiff and Nadler will suddenly transform into paragons of fairness, but because it is in their interest to be fair.

The court here is public opinion, and — because the president is highly unlikely to be removed by the Senate — the verdict will come in November 2020. If the House Democrats have an impeachment case against the president, the Democrats have a strong incentive to let the process play out with deferential due process befitting the seriousness of the matter. If the case is thin gruel and the process is manifestly skewed against the president, with disclosure withheld, cross-examination slashed, exculpatory witnesses denied, etc., it will look like a partisan hit job — i.e., Democrats determined to impeach a president they never accepted, not spurred by egregious misconduct.

The public will judge the House impeachment inquiry on the finished product, not the dodgy start. In this vein, Republicans are seizing on the broad discretion and control that the resolution vests in Schiff. This is a sensible strategy: Schiff has conducted himself disreputably, theatrically reading an absurd caricature of the Trump-Zelensky transcript, concealing his staff’s coordination with the so-called whistleblower (and earlier, championing the discredited Steele dossier). A former prosecutor, Schiff is a very able interrogator; he is also hyper-partisan, sneaky, and erratic.

All that said, congressional inquiries are adversarial political proceedings, which means someone has to be in charge of them. Elections have consequences, so the someone is a Democrat. Since we are in a very partisan time, Republicans and Democrats tend to vote in antagonistic lockstep. Where there are disputes, Democrats will win because they have the numbers. That doesn’t mean the process has to be rigged. That will be up to Schiff. If Republicans make reasonable requests, Schiff would be well advised not to turn them into disputes; if he denies them, Democrats will look terrible. If Republicans make outlandish demands that appear designed to delay or derail the proceedings, there will be sympathy for Schiff. A lot rides on how he presides — and how Nadler does in phase-two.

5. The Vatican holds a long and circusy “Amazon Synod,” and Michael Brendan Dougherty wonders if false gods were worshipped in St. Peter’s. From the piece:

John Henry Newman was canonized a saint a few weeks ago by the Catholic Church. His essay on the development of doctrine laid out stringent criteria by which to judge new expressions by Churchmen. Chief among them, they must not violate the law of non-contradiction. “A true development is that which is conservative of its original, and a corruption is that which tends to its destruction,” he wrote. What would he think today?

I often think of Badiou and Mao, and Orwell’s Winston Smith, when I read documents authored by the au courant prelates of my Catholic Church, or apologetics on behalf of the new way of doing things. In 2018, a Canadian priest and Catholic media maven, Fr. Thomas Rosica, wrote that Pope Francis “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments.’” One hears in this the same line about thinking in infinities. It turned out that Fr. Thomas Rosica had plagiarized this effulgent passage from an ex-Catholic turned fundamentalist, and reversed its meaning by doing so. The original author had meant it as a criticism, the latter as flattery. The latter’s use required stupidity and intelligence. On his grave, it should say, He loved Big Jesuit.

The recently concluded Synod of the Amazon has been dogged by the principle of contradiction. A scandal broke out about a statuette of a pregnant figure. Some authorities in Rome called it an image of the Blessed Virgin — a veritable Our Lady of the Amazon. Others, including Pope Francis himself, called the statue “Pachama” after the South American fertility goddess. Some activist Catholics, having been told this was an idol of a false god being erected in their Churches, took the statue and threw it into the Tiber. But Francis clarified that the display of the statues was “without blasphemous intent.” There’s a certain athleticism of mind at work.

6. As Jack Crowe and Tobias Hoonhout find out, the drive-by media has no problem straight-facing it when they sit on news that might hurt a liberal Democrat. From the report:

A reporter who now works for the New York Times failed to report on public records which he obtained in April that cut against Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) claim that she was fired from a teaching position in 1971 due to pregnancy discrimination.

Reid Epstein, who was then working for the Wall Street Journal, filed an open-records request with the Riverdale Board of Education on April 2 seeking “to inspect or obtain” copies of public records relating to Warren’s time teaching at Riverdale during the 1970-1971 school year. In response to his request, Epstein received school-board minutes on April 10 that challenge Warren’s story, according to documents obtained by National Review through the New Jersey Open Records Act.

Epstein, who moved to the Times on April 19, never broke the story. Reached for comment, a Times spokeswoman said that the “records were inconclusive” and the potential story required further sourcing.

7. Nicholas Phillips checks out lefty journalist Andrew Marantz’s new book, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of American Conservatism and sees things of which George Orwell made mincemeat 80-plus years ago. From the review:

One senses Marantz’s fear of any angle that could be seen to soft-pedal or both-sides the problem of the far Right — the author repeatedly frets about being morally compromised by merely covering them. The sole time the online Left appears in Marantz’s book is, I kid you not, when he contrasts the Left’s “sincere aspirations to virtue” with the Right’s cynicism — as if being progressive made you immune to social-media outrage incentives.

The next thing Marantz says we need is a new appetite for regulating Internet speech. He treats the need for online gatekeeping as embarrassingly obvious yet is largely silent on how it would work, resorting to metaphor (social media is a party, and sometimes you need to bounce misbehaving guests — something hardly anyone would disagree with) rather than the language of policy and law, which demand concrete line-drawing. He claims this is intentional; it’s also convenient. Marantz takes us inside a Reddit war room where employees make ad hoc, but mostly reasonable, decisions about which communities to ban, suggesting that censorship is easy enough if we deploy the common sense of the average Silicon Valley tech mogul. The problem will go away if we change the rules of the digital conversation, which is an especially attractive solution when the people who control those rules are highly educated fellow elites.

This is why Marantz’s account is ultimately a feel-good story, even though he goes to great pains to reject arc-of-history optimism. For him, dealing with extremism doesn’t mean changing anything about how our society is ordered. Not once does he attribute extremism to social or economic causes that exist outside of the Internet. He acknowledges that extremism is more attractive to people who are “alienated” or “lonely” or who lack “a strong sense of self,” but he doesn’t ask why more Americans than ever seem to feel this way. Instead, he chooses the solutions — a different moral vocabulary and the will to enforce it online — that involve no sacrifice for the class of which he is a member. Indeed, it’s a new privilege — who do we suppose will be teaching us this new vocabulary? Who will enforce its rules? Probably the kinds of people who become New Yorker staff writers.

8. Alan Hawkins and Betsy VanDenBerghe consider the new figures showing divorce rates in decline, but counsel against cheering. From the analysis:

While a decline in the divorce rate merits a parade that we’re loath to rain on, two other trends deserve a less triumphal reception.

First, the specter of divorce continues to haunt young adults in ways that discourage marriage and encourage cohabitation. While the passage of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s made ending harmful marriages easier, it also contributed to a wholesale legal and social rejection of a strategic pillar of marriage: permanence. Divorce rates skyrocketed in the 1970s and then stabilized in the 1980s. They have receded somewhat over the past 30 years. Today demographers estimate that about 40 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages will end in divorce. But the divorce rate, while no longer in the stratosphere, never quite came back down to earth either.

And rates remain high enough that the specter of divorce still hovers in the public consciousness. The divorce phantom especially affects younger men and women, many of whom lived through their parents’ break-ups, in a way aptly phrased by NR’s Kyle Smith: “Warning: Do. Not. Get. Divorced. But since you can never be sure your partner won’t dump you, really, you shouldn’t get married. Or fall in love in the first place. Best bet: Don’t be born.”

While divorce angst and its accompanying postponement of marriage paradoxically contributes to today’s lower divorce rates, it doesn’t keep young adults from romantic relationships. Instead, viewing marriage as fragile and divorce as a common and random accident waiting to happen, younger Americans, a recent study found, were more likely to remain unmarried and cohabit, a scenario that researchers have linked to increased odds of a future divorce. For younger adults, high expectations of divorce significantly decrease their odds of being married, yet the odds of divorce are hardly fixed. Relationship skills that significantly increase chances for marital success help even those with risk factors for divorce achieve healthy marriages.

9. Lindsey Burke and Jonathan Butcher investigate the Johnson Administration’s “Great Society” spending spree and find it did bupkus for America’s poor and needy. From the analysis:

Head Start, the federal pre-kindergarten program for low-income children launched under Johnson, has had no lasting learning gains for enrolled students. What’s more, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found Head Start centers inflating enrollment numbers by doctoring student applications. Taxpayers have spent more than $240 billion on the initiative since its launch in 1965.

Washington has spent $2 trillion on K–12 schools since 1965, yet there has been no improvement in actual student learning for disadvantaged students compared with their peers. The achievement gap between children from low-income families and wealthier students was the equivalent of four years of learning decades ago and remains that size today. There has, however, been a notable increase in the bureaucracy. The number of administrators has increased 137 percent since the 1960s.

Today the federal government originates and services 90 percent of all student loans, spending $150 billion annually on loans and grants. Tuition at public four-year universities has increased 213 percent (after accounting for inflation) since 1987. Meanwhile, a slightly smaller proportion of students from families in the bottom quartile of the income distribution graduate from college today, the very students Johnson’s loan programs were supposed to help.

By any measurable indicator, the Great Society has been a bust for students.

10. The Golden State goes dark. Rich Lowry uses the flashlight to see that California can’t keep on the lights. From the piece:

California governor Gavin Newsom, who has to try to evade responsibility for this debacle while presiding over it, blames “dog-eat-dog capitalism” for the state’s current crisis. It sounds like he’s referring to robber barons who have descended on the state to suck it dry of profits while burning it to the ground. But Newsom is talking about one of the most regulated industries in the state — namely California’s energy utilities, which answer to the state’s public utilities commission.

This is not exactly an Ayn Rand operation. The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?

Meanwhile, California has had a decades-long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

11. Victor Davis Hanson chimes in (even referencing Dante!) and sees his home state becoming pre-modern, courtesy of idiocies inflicted by progressives. From the piece:

Californians know that to venture into a typical municipal emergency room is to descend into a modern Dante’s Inferno. Medical facilities are overcrowded. They can be as unpleasant as they are bankrupting to the vanishing middle class that must face exorbitant charges to bring in an injured or sick child.

No one would dare to connect the crumbling infrastructure, poor schools, and failing public health care with the non-enforcement of immigration laws, which has led to a massive influx of undocumented immigrants from the poorest regions of the world, who often arrive without fluency in English or a high-school education.

Stores are occasionally hit by swarming looters. Such Wild West criminals know how to keep their thefts under $950, ensuring that such “misdemeanors” do not warrant police attention. California’s permissive laws have decriminalized thefts and break-ins. The result is that San Francisco now has the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation.

Has California become premodern?

Millions of fed-up middle-class taxpayers have fled the state. Their presence as a stabilizing influence is sorely missed. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California. Millions of poor newcomers require enormously expensive state health, housing, education, legal, and law-enforcement services.

California is now a one-party state. Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. Only seven of the state’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans. The result is that there is no credible check on a mostly coastal majority.

12. More CA / MBD: Michael finds the floperoo prexy candidacy of Kamala Harris tracks California’s increasing failed-state trajectory. From the commentary:

Now it’s obvious that Harris is not a top-tier candidate. Gabbard had attacked Harris for laughing at the idea of smoking marijuana herself, while compiling a record as a draconian drug warrior and a dodgy prosecutor willing to do what’s unjust if it advanced her political career. The attack is effective as a symbol of Harris’s hypocrisy and opportunism, and it points to the fundamentally dysfunctional political culture of California: The rules are applied vengefully to the peons, the rules are rewritten or ignored for the privileged.

California is one of the most unequal states in our society. California has more superrich than anywhere else in the country. It also has one of the highest poverty rates. There, the rich are indulged, protected, and cosseted, while the poor are punished, humiliated, and cast into chaos. The parts of the middle class that haven’t fled the Golden State for Boulder, Colo., Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., Columbus, Ohio, or Atlanta are now subjected to semi-regular preemptive power outages. Which means school closings, lost days at work, and spoilage at grocers and restaurants.

What strikes most visitors to Los Angeles and San Francisco these days is the obscene wealth and squalor in close proximity: billion-dollar work campuses at one edge, but human feces in the old neighborhoods. California’s infrastructure is among the worst in the nation, despite the fact that the state could be counted as one of the five largest economies in the world. The infrastructure that has been built out in recent years has mostly served the tech giants in Silicon Valley. It has connected the enclaves of the superrich and facilitated their travel. California is leading the country in building new lanes for high-occupancy vehicles and those willing to pay a toll for reduced travel time. Even the highways can be made to resemble gated communities.

13. Kyle Smith checks out The Rise of Jordan Peterson and finds the documentary about the accidental movement leader pretty fair. From the review:

The doc gives plenty of airtime to his ideological opponents, who in interviews say things such as “I was in danger of vomiting all over my keyboard,” as if their inability to control their own digestive tracts is Peterson’s responsibility. “You hurt my feelings, so I get to lock you up” is an idea that gains traction every day, and Peterson deserves praise for being the rare campus figure to call this absurd. The raving hordes who want ever more restrictive speech codes come off poorly in this movie, but that’s because the movie quotes them fairly.

Co-written and directed by Patricia Marcoccia, The Rise of Jordan Peterson (which is playing in a few theaters and available via video on demand) makes an effort to pierce the increasingly outsized public persona of its subject and “unpack” him, to use a very Peterson-y verb. Courtly and polite, Peterson speaks with a mild, Muppet-y voice, yet can’t resist being nettlesome: Kermit the Firebrand. At times this gentle soul seems like an unlikely candidate to be whipping up opposing armies. He might have preferred to remain focused on his academic work on belief systems, myths, and archetypes. But like many others on the right, Peterson is ultimately motivated by an inability to let bunkum prevail unchallenged. A daughter gives him a psychological test in which Peterson is asked to rate himself in various categories. “You have no idea how irritated I actually am,” he says, in one revealing moment. He also says he isn’t as eager to quarrel as people think: “They agitate the hell out of me, but I won’t back away from one [dispute].” There’s an element of fun to it, of course: “I figured out how to monetize social-justice warriors,” he says with a gleam in his eye.

14. Something Fishy Here: Brian Allen eyeballs the work of James Prosek. From the beginning of his review:

James Prosek (b. 1975) is the Audubon of fish. John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, published between 1827 and 1838, is an amalgam of science and art. Audubon’s renderings of hundreds of birds, mostly in watercolor, were elegantly engraved in volumes that informed ornithology for generations. The art’s gorgeous and cinematic. Whenever I see an Audubon bird, I think of close-ups of movie stars. For most of his career, and he’s a mid-generation artist, Prosek has done the same thing with fish.

Prosek is a modern man. He’s a fascinating, fine artist but a master of today’s media. He makes documentaries, writes, teaches, and promotes conservation initiatives. A few years ago, he retraced the first book on fishing, The Compleat Angler, written by Issak Walton in 1653. His documentary on Walton is unusually good.

I’ve been writing about outside-the-box artists off and on all year. Angela Lorenz makes artist’s books. Sheila Hicks is a textile sculptor. Henri Broyard is a young African-American painter. I planned to write about Prosek this month, mostly because he defies boundaries and thinks about art and science. Then, Harold Bloom died last week. Prosek and I were Bloom students at Yale, though of different generations. Bloom taught me about Shelley, Southey, Byron, and Wordsworth.

Bloom called Prosek “an original.” He thought Prosek was the best artist of his — Bloom’s — era. What did he mean?

15. Jack Butler is gnawed at by the persistence of the superstitious and its kin, and explores why. From the essay:

We can turn to two resources for guidance: Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin, and The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. These books, published in 1967 and 1971, became iconic horror films whose 50th and 45th anniversaries, respectively, came last year. The books have several superficial similarities: main characters who are actors, deaths by falling that set their plots in motion, dream sequences, fictional books-within-books about devil worship, rearrangements of words as key plot points, and a reliance on the agnosticism and skepticism of main characters for evil to succeed.

The far more important similarity, however, is that both books, as well as their subsequent film adaptations, were not merely thrilling supernatural yarns told in decidedly modern settings (Rosemary’s Baby largely in New York City and The Exorcist mostly in Washington, D.C. — the twin capitals of modernity). They also mix in with their supernatural horror a heavy helping of contemporary anxieties. Taken together, they suggest a frightening answer to the question of why the supernatural seems to cling bitterly to the supposedly rationalist present.

On its face, Rosemary’s Baby is merely a modern adaptation of a frightening gothic tale: a newly expectant mother who begins to suspect that others have dark designs on her unborn child. But beneath this lurid surface, much of the contemporary anxiety of the 1960s creeps. Rosemary, though trying to live happily in New York City with her striving actor husband Guy, does not belong there. Describing herself as a “country girl at heart,” Rosemary is, in fact, a lapsed Catholic who “escaped” from her big family in Omaha, Neb., among whom she considered herself “the black sheep.” Like many urban refugees from a purportedly oppressive heartland, she has cut herself off from this family . . . and yet retains many of the modes, manners, and folkways of her kin: crossing herself on instinct, chafing against her husband’s insistence against children because he “wasn’t ready yet,” desiring to see in person the visiting pope and reflexively defending him against irreligious neighbors.

As the plot against Rosemary’s child becomes clear to her, however, she confronts another aspect of urban life. Her fellow apartment residents, whom she comes to suspect are devil-worshipers, have expertly manipulated her social circle so that she is essentially alone in confronting them. Atomized city life becomes itself a fearsome foe, as does the lure of the world itself: When Rosemary’s husband reveals his complicity in these devil-worshipers’ plot, he justifies it on the basis that “we’re getting so much in return . . .” Many misguided souls, across place and time, have found gaining the world but losing that soul an attractive bargain. All these phenomena are amplified by conspiracy and dramatic effect, but draw from real-world urban dislocations.

Mandatory NR Webathon Plug and Your Ensuing (Deserved?) Mandatory Guilt Trip

We here touch on the idea of reparations for the sin of gluttony — per Dante and his Purgatorio, it is the vice handled in the Sixth Level in that un-Heavenly place. This lecture might be a bit too high-handed, abusive, and counter-productive. Smart-arsey. But there is a fact: There are a gazillion NRO readers who camp out on the site, day in and out and all the live-long, who stuff their brains and engorge their intellects courtesy of the Endless Feast we publish. We serve, we bus the trays, we wash the dishes. Yes, it’s all free, but really, you can’t tip?

Of course, as every good conservative knows: There is no such thing as a free meal. All that wisdom you are consuming? Someone is paying for it. If not you, then it really is about time you ponied up, especially if you never have. OK, Nervy Me is telling you that, but Nervy Me is only repeating what your conscience is telling you, although maybe you cannot hear it from all the mandible mastication you are enjoying.

Who is and has been paying are generous souls (it’s official: this is also All Generous Souls’ Day), selfless peeps who accept the importance of NRO and its existence and its megaphone for propagating the conservative faith, who acknowledge that we do need the kindness of strangers to persist, who want this sucker to survive and even thrive. So they have donated, cash that is cold and hard, like that Dove Bar you just inhaled, when we have appealed. Which we are doing right now with our 2019 Fall Webathon.

Purgatory Boy just wrote a persuasive (we’ll see about that) entreaty for all, especially the long-time moochers, to donate. Where to read it, to be persuaded as promised? Right here. Where to donate if only to ease your conscience? Here.

Now, how about another slab of lasagna and a slice of pie?

The Six

1. At The Catholic Thing, Michael Pakaluk reflects on the writings of (newly canonized) John Henry Newman and the idea that we have lost the sense of what the true purpose of a university is. From the piece.

The basic idea of John Henry Newman’s great work, The Idea of a University, is one of those brilliant arguments that take your breath away for its simplicity and power. A university, he says, as its name implies, is a place of universal learning. Therefore, an institution that failed to teach about God, the central reality, the origin and end of everything else, whatever its other merits, simply could not be called a university. It would be a sham university, like a dodgy place that on principle excluded chemistry or physics. With devastating logic, Newman then traces out the disorders that must afflict an academic community that has plucked out its very heart.

It’s an audacious idea, that our most prestigious universities are, most of them, not genuine universities at all.

Trouble is, there’s a second and different idea in Newman’s work. He also describes a university as a place where the distinctive beauty of the intellect is imparted, just for its own sake:

There is a physical beauty and a moral: there is a beauty of person, there is a beauty of our moral being, which is natural virtue; and in like manner there is a beauty, there is a perfection, of the intellect. . . .The artist puts before him beauty of feature and form; the poet, beauty of mind; the preacher, the beauty of grace: then intellect too, I repeat, has its beauty, and it has those who aim at it. To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression, is an object as intelligible. . .as the cultivation of virtue, while, at the same time, it is absolutely distinct from it.

This too is an audacious idea. Sure, we’re used to the argument that a university should emphasize the “liberal arts,” not simply offering specialized or pre-vocational disciplines. But Newman’s critique is much broader. If you are thinking about a university in terms of grades, programs, and majors, he is saying, and not (so to speak) the intellectual personalities you are forming, then you are missing the mark entirely. It’s not clear whether any existing university at all has the right goal, on Newman’s view.

2. Greg Piper, doing his thing at The College Fix, reports on how University of Michigan administrators have run afoul of this thing called the First Amendment, and are shutting down a formal “Bias Response Team” that was little more than a home for campus SJWs. From the piece:

Speech First’s inaugural lawsuit against a university bias response team was not looking so good in the summer of 2018.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the UMich team, saying it does not have “a lot of teeth” and accused students aren’t compelled to talk to the team.

More than a year later, the 6th Circuit ordered her to reconsider a preliminary injunction. “Even if an official lacks actual power to punish,” as the university repeatedly claimed about the BRT, “the threat of punishment from a public official who appears to have punitive authority can be enough to produce an objective chill,” the majority opinion said.

Some of the main targets of “verbal bias grievances” at UMich were classroom discussions and faculty in particular, according to public records The Fix obtained covering spring 2018.

The settlement binds the university to not reinstate the definitions of “bullying” and “harassing” that it removed in the wake of Speech First’s lawsuit, and to not reinstate the BRT.

Though the university encourages “anyone who feels they have been harmed or negatively impacted” to report a campus climate concern, both the settlement and CCS page emphasize that the replacement team is “not a disciplinary body, cannot impose discipline, and does not require participation in any aspect of CCS’s work.”

3. At Law & Liberty, the eminent scholar Daniel J. Mahoney expounds on the 30th anniversary of the collapse of European Communism. From the essay:

For all their differences, and they were often significant, it might be said that Havel, John Paul II, and Solzhenitsyn all succumbed to a (very qualified) “utopia” of their own. They dreamed of a new kind of society, where freedom was accompanied by “repentance and self-limitation” (Solzhenitsyn); where the Catholic spirit informed a Polish democracy that valued persons as persons (John Paul II), and defended an understanding of free politics rooted in moral judgment and a civility that went much deeper than good manners (Havel). Solzhenitsyn knew that evil could never be expunged from the soul and the world and fully appreciated that all ideological revolutions (which he also called “bloody, physical ones”) only lead to tyranny, coercion, unprecedented mendacity, and a cruelty and fanaticism that ignored the inescapable drama of good and evil in the human soul.

But Solzhenitsyn hoped that democratic man might learn to pay more attention to his soul and overcome, at least in part, “the excessive engrossment in everyday life” in modern, democratic societies that he lamented in the Harvard Address of 1978. Havel speaks for all of our heroes when he wrote in his chapter “Politics, Morality, and Civility” from 1992’s Summer Meditations that a call for a conception of liberty and human dignity that does not ignore the concerns of the soul has nothing to do with some naïve hope that the internal struggle in each human soul between good and evil may one day come to an end. There will never be a heaven on earth, Havel insisted: such projects, always ideological in character, have been forever shattered and exposed by the evil, utopian enterprises of the twentieth century: “The world has had the worst experiences with utopian thinkers who promised all that.” And as Solzhenitsyn wrote in 1993, fraternity can never be imposed politically, through soul-crushing despotism. We need to return to the great anti-totalitarian wisdom of the twentieth century so that we don’t lose sight of these essential truths. Human nature can never be fundamentally changed, all three would agree. But while firmly and unequivocally castigating utopian and ideological “bloody and physical revolutions,” and their accompanying “socialist projects” that led to violence and lies on an unprecedented level, Solzhenitsyn holds out hope for a “moral revolution” over the historical horizon, that might elevate our souls while adding moral content to our precious political and civil liberties. But he concedes that this is a “new phenomenon which we have yet to discover, discern, and bring to life.” One might speak of the bon usage of utopia that at the same time acknowledges that theocracy and despotism do nothing to protect and promote the things of the spirit. Solzhenitsyn always insisted that there could be a despotism in the name of the soul just as an inordinate attention to material concerns could distort human freedom and well-being. He was a partisan of mesure or moderation, an equitable balancing of material and spiritual concerns. This is, of course, faithful to the best classical and Christian wisdom. And it has nothing to do with religious fanaticism.

4. At Gatestone Institute, Andrew Ash is all over the BBC Thought Police, petrified at the potential of a single lifted Muslim eyebrow. From the story:

Celebrated interfaith activist Lord Indarjit Singh has sensationally quit BBC Radio 4 after accusing it of behaving like the “thought police”. He alleges that the corporation tried to prevent him discussing a historical Sikh religious figure who stood up to Muslim oppression — in case it caused offence to Muslims, despite a lack of complaints.

The Sikh peer, who has been a contributor on Radio Four’s Thought For The Day programme for more than three decades, is also accusing Radio Four bosses of “prejudice and intolerance” and over-sensitivity in relation to its coverage of Islam, after he says he was “blocked” from discussing the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, under the Mughal emperors in 17th century India.

The 87-year-old peer’s resignation comes as a blow to the show’s flagship segment, that has been a part of Radio Four’s Today programme since 1970, and has been described by Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, as “one of the last remaining places in the public square where religious communities are given a voice in Britain.”

The segment, originally aired on November 28, 2018 — and in spite of Singh’s script containing no criticism of Islam — is the latest in a long line of suspect BBC decisions enforced by seemingly over-zealous producers. “It was like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews,” Singh said. There were, however, no complaints about the segment reported to OFCOM, the government approved broadcasting watchdog.

5. USAID policy has subsidized “smallholder” farmers in Africa and elsewhere, on the premise that targeted support will create economic growth. It’s not working, say American Enterprise Institute experts John Beghin and Vincent H. Smith, who argue that the time has come for a paradigm shift. From their paper:

The prevailing paradigm for aid heavily relies on improving smallholder subsistence farmers’ productivity to generate growth and development in the agricultural sector. Here we identify and evaluate this paradigm’s shortcomings in terms of the modest outcomes that have been achieved and those that appear attainable. These include the impacts of programs based on the smallholder paradigm on productivity and their substantial limitations as mechanisms for fostering region- and countrywide economic growth and development.

For smallholder farms, market participation and adoption of commercial inputs and technology are difficult because of inadequate scale and size. This conclusion is based on a body of new evidence showing that midsize farmers in developing countries, especially in Africa, are more productive and have more human capital than smallholders. These midsize farms adopt mechanization, use commercial inputs, and enable labor to flow out of subsistence agriculture into more productive farms and other sectors of the economy.

The smallholder and subsistence farmer paradigm is a cornerstone of USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative and other agricultural development projects. USAID is not alone. Many development agencies in other countries, and several international organizations, have adopted the same paradigm. As a result, those agencies also generally pursue agricultural development policies based on smallholders and their potential to produce more food.

However, the premise that the smallholder is the vehicle for widespread agricultural productivity growth is flawed or, alternatively, has hit its limits. Unequivocally, the focus on smallholder agriculture has contributed to greater food security for subsistence households by mitigating their vulnerability to the consequences of adverse weather, health, and other shocks. However, it is the wrong linchpin if the objective is to increase sector-wide agricultural output and agricultural productivity growth. Benefits from economies of scale and size are multiple, especially in marketing and adopting commercial practices and technologies. The prospects for agricultural output and productivity growth based on small-scale and subsistence farmers are essentially limited because of the resource constraints they face.

6. Related: At The American Conservative, James Bovard explains how USAID bucks makes democracies more kleptocratic. From the analysis:

Transparency International, which publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, shows that corruption surged in Ukraine during the late 1990s and remains at obscene levels (though recent years have shown slight improvements). Taylor was ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, when corruption sharply worsened despite hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid. Ukraine is now ranked as the 120th least corrupt nation in the world—lower than Egypt and Pakistan, two other major U.S. aid recipients. What Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is to the NFL, Taylor appears to be to the anti-corruption cause.

Bribing foreign politicians to encourage honest government makes as much sense as distributing free condoms to encourage abstinence. Rather than encouraging good governance practices, foreign aid is more likely to produce kleptocracies, or governments of thieves. As a Brookings Institution analysis observed, “The history of U.S. assistance is littered with tales of corrupt foreign officials using aid to line their own pockets, support military buildups, and pursue vanity projects.” And both American politicians and bureaucrats are want to continue the aid gravy train, regardless of how foreign regimes waste the money or use it to repress their own citizens.

If U.S. aid was effective, Ukraine would have become a rule of law paradise long ago. The country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, may be sincere in his efforts to root out corruption. But it is an insult to both him and his nation to pretend that Ukraine cannot clean up its act without help from Donald Trump. The surest way to reduce foreign corruption is to end foreign aid.

BONUS: The ChiComs are utter, utter barbarians. In Haaretz, David Stavrou tells the story of Sayragul Sauytbay, who reveals the atrocities inflicted daily upon the Uyghur minorities imprisoned in the Red China government’s “reeducation” camps / hellholes. From the piece:

STOCKHOLM – Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 A.M. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread.

Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.

Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.

I met with Sauytbay three times, once in a meeting arranged by a Swedish Uyghur association and twice, after she agreed to tell her story to Haaretz, in personal interviews that took place in Stockholm and lasted several hours, all together. Sauytbay spoke only Kazakh, and so we communicated via a translator, but it was apparent that she spoke in a credible way. During most of the time we spoke, she was composed, but at the height of her recounting of the horror, tears welled up in her eyes. Much of what she said corroborated previous testimony by prisoners who had fled to the West. Sweden granted her asylum, because in the wake of her testimony, extradition to China would have placed her in mortal danger.


What do Eli Grba (“Pat, I would like to buy a vowel”) and Vaughn Eshelman have in common? If you thought, expansion drafts, you’d be right. And for having particular places in them.

Grba was the first man drafted in baseball’s first-ever expansion draft, which took place on December 14, 1960. The spot starter and relief pitcher for the Yankees (he had a 6–4 record with a 3.68 ERA in 1960) was picked up by the new Los Angeles Angels (the particular selection suggested Casey Stengel, who had been recently fired as the Bronx Bombers’ manager) and started the franchise’s first game, hurling a complete-game 7–2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on April 11, 1961 at Memorial Stadium. He’d go on to compile a 20–24 record over three seasons for the Angels, making his last Major League appearance in August of 1963, followed by a few more years tooling around in the minors and the Mexican League.

One odd claim to fame: Grba was on the Yankees’ roster for the 1960 World Series, and appeared once — as a pinch runner. He was the only Yankee pitcher who did not actually pitch in the Series.

As for Eshelman, his distinction is that he was the last player ever selected in MLB’s six expansion drafts. That occurred on November 18, 1997, when the newbie Tampa Bay Devil Rays grabbed as Pick #70 the southpaw pitcher, who in the previous three seasons had compiled a 15–9 record for the Boston Red Sox, appearing in 83 games (he started 30 — none ever a complete game) and racking up a chubby 6.07 ERA. He never pitched for Tampa Bay, or in another MLB game (he kicked around in the minors until 2001).

But let’s give Eshelman a little hurrah: In his first two appearances for the Red Sox — May 2, 1985 at Yankee Stadium and May 7, 1995 at Tiger Stadium — the rookie pitched a combined 13 scoreless innings, and if you add the first five frames of his next appearance (May 13, 1995 at Fenway, which proved a 6–4 win over the Yankees), his first 18 innings of MLB action were scoreless. And not many people can make that claim.

A Dios

On this day, especially, as the old line in the old song goes, pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you. You have been warned.

Also, taking advantage of your captive audience state, my boy Andy is running for the Board of Education in Milford, CT (First District) and if you vote there, please do so, for him, if not early, then surely often. If you don’t vote there, and have no relatives at the Milford Cemetery who you can convince to back my offspring, then consider praying for his victory.

God’s Blessings on You and All Souls Who Can Benefit from Our Prayers,

Jack Fowler, who believes that he will be lucky if he catches the last train to Purgatory, and can be told why he will miss it at

National Review

You Have the Right to Remain Silent


Dear Weekend Jolter,

It might come to that. To Uncle Sam or his Cousin Columbia telling you what you can and cannot say (next comes  . . . think!). Folks, I kid you not, the First Amendment is under duress, under assault, from determined punks and jackasses who think the Constitution is nothing more than fading ink on a piece of old, dead tree. Its words, its utterances, its protections — these are the things and thoughts of dead slaveholders.

Rights? Yes, we have them, but they are of the Piehole-Shuttage variety. More akin to Miranda than anything James Madison promulgated. Leftists are Heck-bent to prevent you (yes, you) from sprechen die conservative. The manifestation of this is found in National Review v. Mann, which may be headed to the Supreme Court. We’ll know in early November if SCOTUS will take up this pressing case, about which you can be briefed here.

Here’s the message, and the ask: NR is defending itself against this amazingly funded leftist assault — and in doing this NR is also defending your right to free speech. This prompts us to ask our besties and BFFs to sing a song of sixpence — well, since that might only be worth 50 cents US, think 100 or even 1,000 times sixpence.

Our 2019 Fall Webathon seeks to raise general funds, much of which will be allocated to our legal costs in National Review v. Mann. The drive’s goal is to raise $275,000. So far, over 1,600 people have contributed a total surpassing $165,000. God bless each and every one of them. But we could use double that number, frankly. Which is where you come in.

Before you get to all the goodies below with which this missive will thrill you, I ask, directly: Make a contribution. Especially if you have been an NR — I think the correct term is junkie — all these years, your uneasy conscience uneasily sidestepping these twice-yearly appeals, knowing down deep, and not so deep, that NRO is functioning because good people have made it a cause and provided material relief, which in turn has made your ability to enjoy NRO a reality.

That in turn makes you know, down deep, and not so deep, that the right thing to do is to follow their lead and example and make a donation. Shall we say, finally? We shall. Do that here. Don’t do that . . . here. Whatever you do or don’t do, God bless. Now, away we go . . .


1. The Syria pull-out, empowering Turkey madman Erdogan, was an ignominious retreat, engineered for President Trump. From our editorial:

The process was atrocious. Trump didn’t consult with the military and foreign-policy professionals around him or those on the ground, leading to a chaotic U.S. response as events unfolded. More important, cutting loose the Kurds who had recently sacrificed so much to be our front-line fighters in the successful campaign against the ISIS caliphate was dishonorable. Turkish and Turkish-allied forces immediately pushed civilians from border areas and engaged in atrocities, most notably the assassination of the Kurdish politician and activist Hevrin Khalaf.

The defenses made of Trump’s pullback don’t hold up very well. One is that we only had about 100 troops on the Turkish border, not enough to stop an invasion. True, but such minimal trip-wire forces have stayed the hand of much more formidable adversaries, namely the Eastern Bloc at the Berlin Wall and North Korea on the DMZ. Another is that Turkey is a NATO ally that we didn’t want to skirmish with on the ground. Yes, but this logic would have acted even more powerfully on Turkey, which would have had much more to lose if it killed any of our troops. The fact is that Trump could have held the Turks back if he hadn’t been motivated by a long-standing desire to begin liquidating our commitments in the Middle East — even the smallest, safest, and most useful commitments.

Baker, One of Your Dozens Please, Tasty and Hot and Covered with Sprinkles and Pleasing to the Conservative Palate!

1. As if problems on the Number 7 train aren’t enough, Bernie came to Queens on Saturday. Kyle Smith profiles his Weekend at Bernie’s Rally. From the piece:

Sanders’s speech was characteristically Sandernista stuff: Droning, badgering, meandering, enervating, needlessly, endlessly long. Sanders is the kind of guy who could promise every American free Netflix for life and still make it sound like a shut-up-and-take-your-medicine speech. The man is pure Castro oil. As his brillo-pad-on-sandpaper voice flayed the eardrums, the Bernie signs drooped. Even his most ardent fans looked at each other like they were ankle-deep in a bear trap. Whether Sanders was being uselessly vague (“Our legislation. Will hold. The fossil-fuel industry. Accountable.”) or issuing absurdly unrealistic blue-sky promises (“Our program will eliminate homelessness in America!”), he sounded completely irrelevant to 2019. Five years older than the oldest Baby Boomer, already ten years past the average life expectancy of a man born in 1941, he is not the man to lead America through the 2020s. He’s the man at the deli who wants his tuna-on-rye special RETOASTED, THE RIGHT WAY THIS TIME.

To give some sense of how detached from actual American reality Bernie Sanders sounded, one of his introducers was the beach-ball-shaped remnant of the Beach Boys era Michael Moore, who made multiple references to Franklin Roosevelt as if the 3.7 percent unemployment rate and roughly 50 percent bump in the stock market since Donald Trump was elected mean that it’s 1932 again. “They say Bernie’s too old,” Moore bellowed. “Oh yeah? Well, here’s what’s too old: The electoral college is too old!” Sick burn, Mike. Any bets on which of those two old things lasts longer?

Moore at least stayed on message, unlike Tiffany Cabán, the “queer, Latina” (her words) who narrowly lost the Queens D.A. race last year and on Saturday declined to indulge the crowd when it chanted, “You were robbed!” Cabán’s parents grew up in a socialist wonderland: New York City public housing. As the Bernie rally was staged right across the street from the largest public-housing project in the Western Hemisphere, the Woodbridge Houses, the attempted messaging was muddled. The New York City Housing Authority, dreamed up by liberals and socialists and run by them more or less continuously ever since, has been so poorly managed by the Che Guevara-quoting mayor of New York City that a judge turned over management of it to . . . the administration of Donald J. Trump. An examplar to the world, it is not. Just ask Cabán! “My parents,” she said, “grew up in public housing in the Woodside Houses [nearby in Queens]. . . . They grew up with mold, chipping paint, asbestos, crumbling ceilings, nameless serious health risks, and my parents had to live with it. . . . Early on our family learned that government didn’t really care about us.” Do go on about why we need more of it, then.

2. Kevin Williamson argues that Elizabeth Warren would treat the wealthy like penned-in sheep, there to be milked and shorn. Ewe are going to want to read this. From the piece:

The class-warfare dreams of the American Left do not have a great deal to do with its professed desire to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state here. The U.S. tax system already is much more progressive than is typical of Europe, including the Scandinavian countries, and by some measures is the most progressive in the developed world. The northern-European welfare states do not differ markedly from the United States in how they tax the wealthy; they differ in that they also tax the middle classes heavily, which the United States does not. There is in fact much about the Swedish tax regime that a billionaire might prefer: There is no inheritance tax, no gift tax, very little property tax (it is capped at about $800 a year), relatively low and straightforwardly administered business taxes, etc. Because Sweden is well-governed, it treats its tax regime as a question of revenue rather than a question of so-called social justice, which is why the inheritance and gift taxes so beloved among American class warriors were scrapped: They generated practically no revenue (about 0.2 percent of total tax income), they were difficult to administer, and they created all sorts of perverse incentives that were not in Sweden’s long-term social interest. And so it is no more: That is how intelligently administered countries do things.

But not the United States.

The basic tax situation is similar in the United States, with inheritance taxes producing barely measurable federal revenue, about one-half of 1 percent of the total. They are of very little concern to most families, but they are of intense concern to a few families with lots of property, often in the form of a business. These families will sometimes take extraordinary steps to avoid paying the tax, though many of those near the threshold for paying the estate tax stay under by relying on the simpler alternative of maxing out their allowance of tax-free gifts to children, children’s spouses, grandchildren, etc., every year for the last several decades of their lives. That won’t do much for the hectomillionaire and billionaire set, but they have options, too.

3. Roman Catholicism continues its Francis-led free-fall, says Dan Hitchens. From the piece:

In the last 48 hours there have been two big Vatican stories. First, revelations about the Holy See’s financial crisis; second, and more bizarrely, a furious dispute over statues being thrown into the Tiber. But really it’s all one story, the big story of contemporary Catholicism: a disastrous failure of leadership at the top of the Church.

Vatican finances may not usually be a subject to set the pulse racing, but the last month has been dramatic: Vatican police raided offices and confiscated computers, after finding — to quote a leaked search decree — “serious indications of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, money-laundering, and self-laundering.” Other leaks suggested that as much as $560 million of Catholics’ donations to the Vatican were invested in speculative deals that Vatican investigators described as “reckless.” The pattern, even at this early stage of the inquiry, is familiar: The faithful have trusted a leadership class that has done little to deserve their trust.

Indeed, donations are already falling — partly because of the abuse crisis, where once again the Vatican has been less than transparent. In 2017 it emerged that Pope Francis had reduced sanctions against some abusers. Then last year, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the U.S. made a set of spectacular accusations, claiming there had been a concerted effort, featuring many senior figures up to and including the pope, to protect Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from numerous allegations of abuse. A letter from the Catholic Women’s Forum, bearing almost 50,000 signatures, asked for a Vatican response to the ambassador’s claims. None came.

Silence and confusion have recently become Vatican trademarks, not least where doctrinal questions are concerned. For instance, an ambiguous papal document was used to claim that the Church now blesses divorce and remarriage; instead of clarifying that the Church could never do so, the Vatican allowed the confusion to grow, and when the pope did speak, he piled ambiguity on ambiguity.

4. President Pence? Rich Lowry calls out the idiocy. From the column:

A lot of Trump supporters are going to want to blame the Republican establishment even if Trump loses in 2020 with the backing of the united party apparatus. Imagine what they will think if a couple of dozen Republican senators decide to deny him the opportunity to run for reelection, without a single voter having a say on his ultimate fate. It’s hard to come up with any scenario better designed to stoke the populist furies of Trump’s most devoted voters.

Trump himself isn’t going to get convicted by the Senate and say: “Well, I’m a little disappointed, to be honest. But it was a close call, and Mike Pence is a great guy, and I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to serve in the White House for more than three years.”

He won’t go away quietly to lick his wounds. He won’t delete his Twitter account. He won’t make it easy on anyone. He will vent his anger and resentment at every opportunity. It will be “human scum” every single day.

And it’s not as though the media are going to lose their interest in the most luridly telegenic politician that we’ve ever seen. The mainstream press would be delighted to see Trump destroyed, yet sad to bid him farewell. The obvious way to square the circle would be to continue to give Trump lavish coverage in his post-presidency. He’d be out of the White House but still driving screaming CNN chyrons every other hour.

In other words, Trump’s removal wouldn’t be a fresh start for Pence and the GOP; it would be more like getting stuck in the poisonous epilogue of the Trump era, awaiting the inevitable advent of the Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, or Pete Buttigieg era.

5. Brexit madness prompts Dan McLaughlin to deep dive into UK’s history of political coalitions. From the piece:

All political coalitions evolve naturally over time; issues come and go, and so do constituencies. But it can be perilous to change a party’s stripes too abruptly. For a political party or movement, there’s both an identity and a community formed from the combination of the voters it pursues, its positions on issues, the nature of its leadership, and the way it presents itself to the public. It is always easier to kick out politicians and chase away voters than it is to bring new supporters into the community and develop new leaders with a new identity. The experience of the British Tories in the mid 19th century offers a vivid illustration, one that carries cautions for today’s conservative parties, from American Republicans to the Conservative party of today’s U.K.

The British Parliament before 1832 was in only the vaguest sense a democratic or representative institution. High property-owning thresholds for voting, unevenly distributed districts, and the division of power between the elected House of Commons and the hereditary House of Lords all combined to dilute its democratic character. Still, from the time it began meeting regularly in the early 1700s, Parliament was a legislature with two principal factions — the Tories and the Whigs — that had distinct constituencies and points of view.

The Whigs, as defenders of parliamentary prerogatives against the throne, were the dominant faction for the bulk of the 1700s, but by the end of the American Revolution, the Tories had surpassed them. Between 1783 and 1830, including the entire quarter-century of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath, the Tories ran every ministry but one, in a unity government that lasted barely a year. The prestige of wartime leadership attached to men such as William Pitt the Younger, and war heroism to the Duke of Wellington. Their status as a long-governing majority party fostered a diversity of views within the party, elevating men such as George Canning and Robert Peel who were not orthodox Tories.

6. Mark Mills says the Nobel Committee has batteries on the brain. From the analysis:

Today, Asian nations are furiously building new battery factories, with a forecast 400 percent increase in output within the decade. But even that still won’t dent humanity’s energy=storage needs, not even if we limit our focus to cars and grids, which account for roughly half of all energy use. And that says nothing about costs.

Using today’s Nobel-class lithium magic, it still costs over 100 times more to store energy in a battery than it costs to store the same amount of energy as natural gas or oil. Even a twofold improvement in lithium technology won’t come close to closing that cost gap and bring us any closer to a “rechargeable” and “fossil fuel-free” world.

Storing consumables — for weeks, not just a few days — has been central to civilization since pre-history, whether it’s water, materials, food, or fuel. Most are easy to store, but not so electricity. Electrons, as one may recall from high-school physics, are like-charged and vigorously repel each other. Clever physics and engineering are required to convince huge quantities of electrons to “cohabit.”

Innovators have been trying, since ancient times, to “catch lightning in a bottle” — an expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin. While archaeologists at the Baghdad Museum discovered a Mesopotamian battery dated to 250 b.c., the modern battery dates to 1800 (Italian physicist Alessandro Volta) and to 1859 with the lead-acid battery (French physicist Gaston Planté). The 1970s discovery of a lithium option (by a physicist and two chemists) was a huge leap, but far from enough to meet planetary aspirations.

7. Victor Davis Hanson finds America is engaged in an untenable alliance with Turkey, the pal of so many of our enemies. From the column:

Under Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has become NATO’s only non-democratic nation. It’s also NATO’s only Muslim-majority member. Erdogan has been trying to re-create Turkey as a new Ottoman imperial power. He feels no allegiance to Western-style democracy.

During the Obama administration, Erdogan snubbed the obsequious American attempts to promote Turkey as the cornerstone of America’s Middle East policy. President Trump should remember that and perhaps reconsider his own sometimes appeasing outreach to Erdogan.

Turkey opposes, if not detests, almost every American ally in the region, and befriends almost every U.S. enemy.

It despises Israel, aids its enemies and hopes for its dissolution. Turkey is currently attacking the U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria. It works against the pro-American Sisi regime in Egypt. Turkish violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean are a common occurrence, as are aggressive simulated attacks on Greek aircraft.

8. Jon Lerner argues that troop presence does not translate to “endless war.” From the analysis:

We keep troops in Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Cuba, and the Persian Gulf region for a reason. It is not to prolong “endless wars” that are in no sense actual wars. It is to protect American interests in preventing future wars.

What about Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

We have roughly a thousand troops in Syria, about the same as in Cuba. It’s true that there is active combat in Syria, but it hasn’t much involved Americans. In the entire eight-year Syrian civil war, there have been a total of eight American service deaths. While even one death is tragic, more U.S. troops are killed in training accidents every year than in our entire time in Syria. This low level of U.S. participation doesn’t seem to fit the “endless war” thesis any more than our presence in Cuba does.

Beginning in 2003, we had a major war in Iraq. There have been over 4,500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. Of those, 81, or fewer than 2 percent, occurred in the last seven years. The U.S. troop level in Iraq peaked at 166,000. Today, it’s around 5,000. So, if our presence in Iraq constitutes an “endless war,” then we are 97 percent of the way toward ending it.

Afghanistan might be a clearer example of an “endless war.”

9. John Hirschauer writes about Kentucky’s crazy and dangerous law regarding those “incompetent” to stand trial. From the beginning of the report:

In February of this year, Cane Madden of Kentucky was released after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. Per arrest records, Madden was accused of biting the victim and “removing a large chunk of [her] face.”

Face-ripping is the sort of behavior that you imagine wouldn’t elude the grasp of the prosecutor’s office. Not, it seems, in Kentucky.

Madden was arrested — his sixth arrest, with a rap sheet including burglary, assault, and threatening to kill a child — but soon after his arrest, a clearly deranged Madden was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC), the state’s competency restoration facility, for the entirety of the 30 days allowed by statute. Still unable to aid in his own defense at the end of 30 days, Madden was placed by Judge Annie O’Connell on an additional 60-day hold, the longest extension permitted by Kentucky law.

The 60-day extension came and went, and Madden was still unable to stand trial. Judge O’Connell said, since he was “unlikely to regain competency in the foreseeable future,” the sexual assault charges against him would be dropped. The burden then fell on the prosecution to civilly commit Madden —an obvious danger to the community — to one of Kentucky’s psychiatric hospitals for treatment. They succeeded.

Later, however, the hospital released Madden, insisting it had no legal standing to hold him. Why? He didn’t meet the state’s strict standards for involuntary commitment.

10. Daniel Tenreiro reads Andrew McAfee’s More from Less and concludes that yep, capitalism will save the world. From the review:

Last month, Greta Thunberg, the Messiah of the environmental movement, told delegates at the United Nations Climate Summit that addressing climate change was at odds with “fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” This view is not confined to teenage protesters. The same case was made in a 2017 New York Times opinion piece titled “The Climate Crisis? It’s Capitalism, Stupid.” Prominent thinkers such as Naomi Klein and George Monbiot have spent years arguing that free enterprise and environmental protection are fundamentally incompatible. Indeed, recent policy proposals such as the Green New Deal concede as much. Rather than curbing pollution, climate activists have set their sights on the capitalist system as a whole.

But they’re wrong, says MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee. In his new book, More from Less, he details how decreasing resource usage has coincided with economic growth. Until roughly 1970, American GDP grew in lockstep with energy consumption. Increasing output required more raw inputs, thereby harming the environment. However, since 1970 — and, coincidentally, the inaugural Earth Day — economic growth and resource usage have decoupled entirely. Whereas real GDP has nearly quadrupled, energy consumption has barely budged.

This is the result of a process McAfee calls “dematerialization,” which refers to two general phenomena. First, goods require less raw material. Aluminum soda cans, for example, have decreased in weight from 85 grams in 1996 to 12.75 grams in 2011. Buildings and cars have also gotten lighter. Second, and more significant, technological advances obviate the need for increased material output. In the 1990s, the features now available in a smartphone would have required numerous distinct gadgets (e.g., camera, calculator, clock radio, tape recorder). Now, an eight-ounce handheld device suffices. As a result, American consumption of steel, copper, fertilizer, timber, and paper has decreased — not just per capita but in absolute terms. As we get richer, we consume less.

11. Armond White says a lousy civics lesson is in store for those who see Black and Blue. From the review:

Every scene of Black and Blue teaches a progressive civics lesson. Example: The film begins with rookie New Orleans cop Alicia West (Naomie Harris) jogging-while-black when she is stopped by white patrolmen who are stunned to discover: “She’s blue!”

West’s harassment and the suspicion of her are the point of this scene and of the entire film, which exploits public distrust of police — and even distrust by one of their own. The background of black cops’ social expectation and racial indoctrination, detailed by Charles Burnett in The Glass Shield (1994), is ignored.

Set in a post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans of dilapidated, still-unrenovated neighborhoods — the result of natural catastrophe, local ineptitude, and government corruption — Black and Blue bruises the image of modern urban America. In addition to furthering the bad reputation that cops have suffered since the 2014 Ferguson protests, the film perpetuates civilian negativity. It’s a thriller that sells cynicism: skepticism as entertainment.

Heroine West is an Afghanistan war veteran who came home and joined the force, looking for a purpose. (“I want to help,” she explains. “Food banks and inner-city programs help,” she is told.) West’s ideals are shaken when she discovers systemic corruption among a squad of narcs. The only new gimmick is that West’s body cam — standard issue after Obama’s response to Ferguson — records dirty cops executing several black drug dealers. This ignites a subplot in which West’s former disenfranchised homies also turn against her. Behaving like enraged activists, the lawless New Orleans blacks fight against the cops, leaving West in the lurch. Is she more blue than she is black.

12. Next month the voters in Washington State will face a referendum on racial preferences in government. Heather Mac Donald has the down-lo on the confusing choice voters have. From the article:

Voting in Washington has begun on a ballot initiative to overturn that state’s ban on racial preferences in government. Voters outlawed racial preferences in 1998, as part of a mini-wave of eight such state initiatives, led by California anti-preference crusader Ward Connerly in the 1990s. The momentum behind that push for color-blindness in government has long since petered out, as identity politics became ascendant. The advocates of race-neutral government hiring, contracting, and college admissions are now on the defensive, fighting relentless efforts to undo their work.

In April 2019, the Washington state legislature hurriedly passed Initiative 1000 to bring preferences back into government policy. Now voters are facing a confusing choice. Though the referendum currently before them, Referendum 88, was instigated by racial-preference opponents, overwhelmingly Asian, to overturn Initiative 1000, a yes on the referendum would confirm passage of Initiative 1000 and reinstate preferences, and a no vote would preserve the pre-Initiative 1000 color-blind status quo.

Initiative 1000 has adopted the specious rhetoric of “holistic” college admissions, rhetoric that the Supreme Court, to its discredit as a supposedly rational jurisprudential body, has embraced. Race cannot be the “sole qualifying factor” in awarding or denying a public benefit, according to the initiative. This requirement allegedly prevents racial preferences from turning into quotas. These are the same claims made on behalf of “holistic admissions,” a supposedly real and definable practice that is meant to keep racial admissions preferences constitutional by avoiding a quota system. We are supposed to believe that admissions offices in a “holistic” regime make highly individualized decisions about applicants that award only the slightest “tip” to candidates on the basis of race. We are supposed to believe that the admissions office has NO idea what number of minorities it is shooting for, even though the racial percentages of any class remain stable from year to year, as was shown in the ongoing litigation over Harvard’s racial preferences.

13. Senators Chuck Grassley and Bill Cassidy believe there is a way to make pharmaceutical prices more affordable. From the piece:

The drug Duexis is an example of this. Duexis is a combination of famotidine (trade name Pepcid) and ibuprofen (Motrin). A 90-day supply of over-the-counter Pepcid costs approximately $20, and 100 tablets of Motrin cost approximately $12. Yet when these two are combined into the drug Duexis, the price rises to approximately $2,600 for a 90-day supply. Congress must ensure that regulators of the industry use the proper metrics when determining what constitutes innovation.

The status quo presents too many opportunities for manufacturers to game the system. Until Congress acted at the end of September, manufacturers could introduce “authorized generics” — drugs that are produced and sold bnby the same manufacturer as the brand-name drug — to the market in a way that reduced the amount of money they were required to rebate back to Medicaid programs. This practice ripped off taxpayers and kept prices artificially high. In the funding bill passed at the end of September, Congress included a portion of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) to end this practice.

The trick is to rein in gimmicks and abuses while maintaining incentives for true innovation that advances science and leads to discovery of new cures. There mustn be a system that facilitates breakthrough treatments and miracle cures, but it needs to be sustainable for patients and taxpayers.

PDPRA, which passed the Senate Finance Committee in July, begins to restore the balance between incentivizing new drugs and returning true market forces to protect the interests of patients and taxpayers. Too oftennn we see the same drug receive year-after-year, double-digit price increases without the justification of innovation, shortages, or other market forces. No matter how high the cost arbitrarily increases, Medicare pays the bill. By requiring manufacturers to rebate the increased amount by which drugs covered under Medicare Part D exceed the rate of inflation, we protect taxpayers from bad actors exploiting Medicare and taxpayers. Manufacturers can still set the price at the amount they want, but the taxpayer will not automatically pick up the tab.

Excerpts of Some Great Forthcoming Books Are Front and Center in the New November 11, 2019 Issue of National Review.

Served up here are four tempting selections from the new issue. What more does one need to say?

1. Admitted Douglas Murray fan-girl Madeleine Kearns checks out The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity, his new book. From the review: 

The book wades into four thorny issues—“gay,” “women,” “race,” and “trans”—marking new territory for the author, whose last book was about Islam and immigration. No tidy resolutions are found in its pages. Rather there are questions—precisely the right questions—giving the reader permission to think, without telling her what to think. “I hope that this book will help clear some terrain across which afterwards other people may more safely pass,” he explains in his introduction, invoking as a metaphor the Great Viper, a mine-clearing device used by the British army during the Second World War.

Our culture is a much longer, more sprawling river than is often imagined. Murray treks upstream to the polluted waters of contemporary philosophy, before heading back down to pop culture’s shallower pools. Near the source of these waters, Murray discovers Foucault’s “perverse” and “dishonest” obsession with power, as well as his disregard for charity and forgiveness. He finds latent Marxism, its anti-capitalist formula applied to new structures of “privilege,” ones that relate to identity. The new formula insists that “the power of the patriarchal white males must be taken away and shared around more fairly with the relevant minority groups.”

In the academy, Murray encounters deconstructionists—perhaps more accurately labeled destructionists—and, nearby, social constructionists and others who have breathed life into some staggeringly mad ideas (e.g., that gender is entirely a “performance” untethered to biology). The new “disciplines” are fool’s gold. Queer studies, black studies, gender studies, whiteness studies—all explore new “interlocking oppressions.” Murray observes wryly that no accompanying “map of utopia” has ever been (or, presumably, ever will be) provided. So what do we nourish ourselves with in the meantime, while awaiting salvation? Shame, anger, confusion, and despair— all force-fed to the young, whom the author advises us to pity.  The absurd cannot be explained

2. Kevin Williamson ain’t just riding along in his automobile: He has his kesiter on the seats of some big-honkin’ SUVs, and tells of its myth and magic and uber-conveyance. From the piece:

This is the golden age of the SUV. The truly modern American SUV appeared in 1984 with the introduction of the Jeep Cherokee, which was preceded by the more straightforwardly truckish Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer, among others, but the species’ genetic antecedents go back much further than that. Like wristwatches and khaki pants, the SUV has its origins in the military, which is probably why it still remains associated with a little jolt of virile swag, even as its main purpose is cocooning suburban mommies in aluminum and steel as they fetch a load of 2 percent and Honey Nut Cheerios from Albertsons. After the Great War and its muddy horror of trench warfare, the idea of mounting station-wagon bodies on four-wheel-drive chassis caught on around the world—the utility end of “sport-utility” was obvious enough.

Chevrolet sold its first Carryall Suburban in 1935. It was a commercial truck with three rows of bench seats surrounded by a big squared-off body with windows, basically a cargo van for human cargo. As Dave Cole of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., told Automotive News, it was a people mover, “something to haul the miners to the mines.” All utility, no sport. It cost $675, or under $13,000 adjusted for inflation—not too bad, really. (No AC, no GPS, no USB port, no backup camera, no bumpers . . .) The pieces were all there: the passenger-carrying capacity of the station wagon, the off-road capabilities of the Willys military-derived civilian vehicles, the shape and utility of a pickup truck with a camper shell over the bed—that, and the great American delusion that we’re all just one split-second decision away from lighting off for the territories, that we need the capability to load up our vehicles with a half-dozen passengers and a whole lot of gear—and any gear will do, really; it’s not the hobby that counts, but the gear—and go off-roading to wherever it is we’re going on the other side of where the asphalt ends.

The Jeep Cherokee quickly gave rise to that great delicious contradiction, the luxury SUV—rough-’n’-ready, rustic, rebellious, utilitarian, eminently capable, and swathed in fine Corinthian leather.(Ricardo Montalbán, the man whose eminently refined Mexican accent made Chrysler upholstery sound so very sexy, was a dedicated NATIONAL REVIEW reader.) The luxury SUV was inevitable: Land Rover’s association with the fancy English country-house set all but ensured its vehicles would end up with London-club interiors, and Toyota’s Landcruiser— which began as a knockoff Land Rover, right down to the name—was sure to follow suit, because that’s what it did. In the United States, both Jeep and Lincoln have a claim for pioneering the luxury SUV, though Bigasstruckus americanusas a species reached its apex with the Cadillac Escalade.

3. From Rick Brookhiser’s new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea, comes this essay on the New York Manumission Society and its role in paving the road for liberty for slaves. From the essay:

On January 25, 1785, nineteen New Yorkers met in the house of John Simmons, innkeeper. The American Revolution had been particularly harsh on New York, which the British had conquered in the grim fall of 1776. Washington’s prudent generalship, and the help of Britain’s longtime enemy France, had won victory by 1781. Yet the enemy had not evacuated the city until the end of 1783. A third of it had burned; all its trees had been cut for firewood. Commerce had only just revived.

The men gathering at Simmons’s house looked to a civic and moral revival. Most of those present were Quakers, many of them interrelated. Robert and Thomas Bowne were descended from an old Quaker family in Flushing. John Murray Sr. and Jr. gave their name to a hill north of the city. Elijah Cock, Effingham and Lawrence Embree, Samuel Franklin, John and William Keese, Edward and Joseph Lawrence, Willet Seaman, and William Shotwell were additional Friends, as Quakers were known. Others in attendance were veterans — James Cogswell, William Goforth, Melancton Smith, and Robert Troup. The meeting was called to order by Troup, a 28-year-old lawyer who had been both a British prisoner of war and a general’s aide at one of America’s great victories, Saratoga. Troup was an amiable young man whom everybody liked; one friend would call him “a better antidote to the spleen than a ton of drugs.” This January meeting had the serious purpose of forming a “Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, and Protecting such of them as have been or may be Liberated.”

In the chaos of the American Revolution, many slaves in and around New York had freed themselves simply by disappearing. Slave catchers, known as man-stealers or blackbirders, hunted for runaways and scooped up free blacks if authentic runaways were not to be found. In November 1784, city authorities had foiled an attempt to spirit away a group of free blacks on a ship bound for either Charleston or the Bay of Honduras.

This was the immediate stimulus for the New Yorkers to meet, but they had larger ends in view. A committee of five — Embree, Franklin, Murray Sr., Smith, and Troup — was appointed to draw up the society’s regulations and bylaws for approval at the next meeting, February 4. This time the society met at the Merchant’s Coffee House, the city’s largest. This was a larger meeting, attended by George Clinton, James Duane, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton.

4. And from Rich Lowry’s forthcoming triumph, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free, we are treated to his strong arguments. From the piece:

It’s not just the intellectuals. American elites are enmeshed in the world of globalization—the enhanced travel and contacts, the multinational corporations, the NGOs. This inclines them to the view that the world is and should be ever more interconnected, and they are often fired by a near-messianic certitude that this trend is associated with the spread of all that is true and good. As [Samuel] Huntington points out, in the 19th century the growing sophistication and continental scale of American business promoted the nationalism of American elites over and against localism; now they promote the transnationalism of American elites over and against nationalism.

Globalization is real and the market a powerful force, but utopianism about trade and technology—supposedly driving us toward a borderless world and inevitable progress—has proven as facile and wrong as any other utopianism.

No, trade with China didn’t radically transform its regime. The general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, has effectively made himself president for life, centralizing power and writing authoritarian “Xi Jinping thought” into the constitution.

No, social media haven’t promoted liberalization. Once upon a time, leaders in tech boasted that, in the words of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Internet is a “force for peace” in the world. That was before it became clear that tech was a powerful tool in the arsenal of Russia and China, that Facebook had played a role in ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and that white nationalists and other extremists use social-media platforms as a tool of radicalization.

And no, the nation isn’t fading away, contrary to what has been constantly predicted by observers who wish it were.

Amity’s Next Book Looks Like It Will Be Her Fifth NYT Bestseller

Our dear pal Amity Shlaes has a big, new, and yep, important (understatement!) book coming out in mid-November: Great Society: A New History. It couldn’t come at a better time: As a new generation of Americans preach Socialism, Amity’s 500-page juggernaut takes us back to the 1960s, when this idiocy wasn’t only advocated: It was tried, and implemented by the old New Deal-loving president, Lyndon Johnson, and even in part by Tricky Dick. The experiment failed: Amity gives a thorough accounting of the economic devastation. Here’s a slice from the book’s terrific introduction:

The reforms of the 1960s nearly always made the federal government the shepherd. Because they were ambitious, and because they demanded selflessness, the reforms sounded great. And the federal shepherd worked hard to make the reforms look as great as they sounded. Ambitious reforms needed time to succeed. It would be a shame if a project aborted because early results didn’t look good. So, for display purposes, presidents emphasized inputs, not results. Congress, too, as the Hoover Institution’s John Cogan has put it, “measured success by labels and dollars attached to legislation”—not by results. The political success of a project mattered more than empirical success. Occasionally, the effort got a new name. The “New Frontier” of Kennedy became Johnson’s “Great Society,” which became the “Great Nation,” and then the “Abundant and Just Society” of Richard Nixon. All the efforts were, however, of a piece in their effort to get to “great.” One can include all three presidencies in a description of a what may be called the Great Society era. In that era, the federal government also redefined its role in the arts, on television and radio, and in public schools. Washington left no area untouched.

In its Great Society endeavor, the country relegated the private sector to the role of consultant, workhorse, and milk cow. And, at first, business went along. Soon enough, however, businesses came to find the 1960s intrusions by the federal government too much of a burden. Federal rules squelched innovation. Federal law made labor too expensive. The 1960s reforms first impinged upon, then violated, what a 1966 candidate for governor of California, the actor Ronald Reagan, called the “creative society.” And soon enough states and towns also grew disturbed. Local authorities discovered that under the polite letters, official visits, and federal funds from Washington operated a competitor that threatened to weaken the states and towns permanently. The New Deal had expanded the federal government so much that for the first time, Washington had surpassed the towns and cities as a presence in the economy. The 1960s reforms seemed designed to finish the job, to squeeze the states and towns out of government altogether. This was true even when the reforms bore names that suggested towns had nothing to fear from Washington, such as the “New Federalism.” Often, the business executives and the mayors noted, these great reforms did not seem to be achieving their goals. Their suspicion mounted as they observed that the incessant rebranding concealed the questionable results of a reform. When an extant index or measure delivered disappointing results, the authorities tinkered with the measure or blithely abolished it altogether. The cooperation of the early 1960s morphed quickly into a public contest. On the one hand stood the federal government and its allies, most often labor unions. On the other hand stood the rest of the nation. This book chronicles that epic clash.

Do get it. Order your copy of Great Society now: Here’s the Amazon link.

And Do You Know Where You Can Discuss the Book with Amity, Face to Face?

Yes, on the National Review 2020 Rhine River Conservative Cruise. She’s one of our speakers! Do check out this cool ad about the sojourn (it takes place April 19–26 on AmaWaterways’ luxurious AmaMora). Of course, you can visit (it lacks that très cool ad) for complete information.

The Six

1. In City Journal, our old colleague Tracy Lee Simmons investigates a collection of ancient wisdom. From his review:

Back in the 1940s, C. S. Lewis remarked on a trend that he saw gaining steam even among some of his better pupils at Oxford: a belief that books penned by the greatest minds of the previous two or three millennia could be grasped only by credentialed professionals. This instinct steered them away from the satisfactions of primary literature and into the swamps of secondary works expounding upon the original sources. “I have found as a tutor in English Literature,” Lewis wrote, “that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said.” Lewis was not denigrating commentaries; he wrote some formidable ones himself. He was merely making the point that most great writers of the distant past wrote to be read and apprehended by curious minds, not merely to provide fodder for exams and dissertations.

Princeton University Press has recently made the task of heeding Lewis’s admonition to return ad fontes a good deal easier with its Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers series of compact, handsomely bound, pocket-sized translations of a handful of the major works of Greek and Roman authors—works that, as each brief introduction testifies, remain applicable to the lives of thoughtful readers. And they all come with a refreshingly sparse amount of explanatory material interposing itself between authors and readers. These are not school editions; they’re to be read on airplanes and by the fireside with a stiff drink. And they can change lives. Like a truly liberal education of the kind they enrich, these books are eminently useful.

The author choices are sensibly predictable: Cicero, Thucydides, Seneca, and Epictetus, three of whom were active men of affairs as well as deeply reflective thinkers who wrestled with eternal questions, and even dared to answer a few. Those who read these small books thoughtfully will be making a second draft on their education. If your liberal arts curriculum didn’t pass along much of the wisdom encased in these books in return for your tuition dollars, you were cheated. By now, sadly, that includes most of us.

2. At VoegelinView, Daniel Mahoney sees wonderful things in Roger Scruton’s novel, Notes from Underground. From the commentary:

Roger Scruton’s Notes From Underground is in keeping with a small group of classics that truly get to the heart of the totalitarian negation of the real. These are works that deftly combine literature and philosophy, and sometimes theology, too, and speak to the soul as it confronts the demons of modernity. These books include Solzhenitsyn’s magisterial The Gulag Archipelago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and Alain Besancon’s The Falsification of the Good, which gets to the heart of the totalitarian and ideological project to falsify the Good with the help of George Orwell, the author of 1984, and Vladimir Soloviev, the great Russian Christian philosopher and theologian. All of these memorable books confront, with rare philosophical depth and a literary art that captures the greatness and misery of the human soul, the capacity of life and truth to resist a nothingness that is surely demonic. To resist the ideological lie is thus to restore truth—and hope—to their central places in the economy of human things. Notes From Underground is an achievement of the first order.

3. At Law & Liberty, Lee Edwards reflects on Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson, and what their 1964 clash portended, but really meant. From the piece:

It is difficult to imagine two politicians more opposite in their political philosophies than Senator Barry Goldwater, the uncompromising apostle of conservatism, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a true believer in New Deal liberalism.

Goldwater came to Washington, D.C., not to pass new laws but to repeal old ones. Johnson never met a federal program he didn’t like.

The Arizona Republican’s favorite President was Thomas Jefferson; his favorite thinker was Russell Kirk, who ghost-wrote speeches for him. The Texan Democrat’s favorite President was Franklin D. Roosevelt; the political thinker he most resembled was Niccolo Machiavelli. Former LBJ aide Eric Goldman called his boss “Machiavelli in a Stetson.”

Goldwater believed in individuals. Johnson thought in electoral blocs. Goldwater swore by the Constitution, Johnson by the New Deal.

4. More Law & Liberty! Our dear pal Hadley Arkes sees the so-called “conservative” Supreme Court as being a source of downward-spiraling relativism. From his essay:

Last days in the term for the Supreme Court have been days for releasing decisions on the most controversial cases, so watchers of the Court have become used to bracing themselves for some of the worst decisions that the justices can deliver up. Amid the wreckage produced in that culminating week last June, the Court managed to resume its role as the Chief Engine at work in the coarsening of the culture. One of the most notable first steps came years ago in gradually sweeping away the restraints on pornography, applied in a rough but overall useful and salutary way by the States and cities. And now, the Court took another critical step: It struck down the laws that have long worked to bar the use of obscenities in the titles of corporations. A seasoned lawyer in New York pointed out to me many years ago that, if those restraints were not in place, the telephone directories would be filled with names such as the Amherst F–ing Coffee Company.

The case was Iancu v. Brunetti. Erik Brunetti sought a trademark for a brand of streetwear he would call “FUCT”—Friends U Can’t Trust. Close enough to the F-word that the Federal Trademark and Patent Office refused to register the trademark. During the oral argument on the case, Chief Justice Roberts was willing to voice the concern that would spring up at once for ordinary folk: that these kinds of advertisements would be posted in malls where children could see them; but even apart from children, the case raised the question of whether the government should be “facilitating this kind of vulgarity.”

Roberts did not recede from his concerns here even as he concurred with the main opinion written by Justice Kagan, striking deeply at any laws that would impose moral restraints on the names of corporations. The remarkable thing was that Roberts’s concern for opening the floodgates on vulgarity was expressed in terms even more vibrant and fearful in the liberal wing of the Court by Justices Sotomayor and Breyer. In registering those deep qualms, these three judges were described only as “dissenting in part.” And there we find the true puzzle of this case: Virtually all of the justices writing separate opinions revealed their keen awareness of the further, corrosive damage in the culture that this decision was certain to license. Each one of them voiced the wish that Congress would replace the current law with a measure more narrowly focused to deal with vulgarity, obscenity, and lewdness. And yet, each one of them fell in line to strike down the law as it was, finding it too broadly phrased to cover things “immoral” and wrongful. So convinced they were that the law was too vague to be sustained that it somehow failed to count for them that the administrators applying the law applied it precisely as these justices would have wished.

5. In the Era of Immediate Diss, Matt Purple, in The American Conservative, smacks back at the clap back. From the piece:

Clapbacks tend to be both short (though not pithy) and ad hominem, little hit-and-runs that eschew substance in favor of cheeky personal attacks. That should sound familiar: it’s exactly how Twitter operates. Over on everyone’s favorite free speech psychomanteum chamber, the character limit makes punchy insults more effective than actual argument. That clapbacks are now being heard off a presidential stage should be evidence enough that real life is aping Twitter rather than the other way around. And sure enough, there was Warren’s quip, liked and retweeted and GIFed endlessly by people who probably can’t list a single other thing she said during that town hall.

The problem isn’t that politicians are suddenly getting sassy with each other: Ronald Reagan’s “youth and inexperience” line against Walter Mondale is all anyone remembers from that 1984 debate. And even the gold standard of political argument, Lincoln-Douglas, once saw the former call one of the latter’s arguments “as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death.” The problem is that we’ve now confused clapbacks with the meat and potatoes of political discourse. Rather than leave insults and punchy remarks where they belong, nestled within larger arguments, we’ve seized on them, torn them out of context, and treated them as arguments themselves. Warren’s remark is hardly the worst example of this. Many people seem to think Kamala Harris is qualified to command the largest military in the world solely on the basis of her ability to clap back against President Trump.

Why has this happened? Because we’re all exhausted. Deluged with endless opinions in this Misinformation Age, we seek shortcuts through it all, and snappy lines that allow us to dismiss opposing points of view without actually engaging them work perfectly. Both sides of our politics are guilty of this—Donald Trump’s Twitter vitriol can be viewed as an even less artful form of the clapback—but there’s no question the left has the advantage when it comes to clapback culture. This is because it also has the advantage when it comes to the culture in general. Left-wing nostrums are so hegemonic, so taken for granted, that countervailing points can be made to look ridiculous simply by holding them up against the common backdrop. That makes clapping back easy, almost effortless, because so many others begin from the same assumptions that you do.

6. The very liberal Church of Sweden is exposed by Nima Gholam Ali Pour at Gatestone Institute for supporting “Christian” entities that cannot get enough of Israel Hate. From the piece:

The majority of the board members of the Swedish Jerusalem Society have been, or still are, employed by one of Sweden’s largest institutions, the Church of Sweden – and reciprocally, the Church of Sweden has an official representative on the board of the Swedish Jerusalem Society. That an association hostile to Israel has a close relationship with the Church of Sweden is not a surprise: this author has previously chronicled how the Church of Sweden supports the false, highly distorted Kairos Palestine Document.

The main activity of the Swedish Jerusalem Society in the Palestinian territories now seems to consist of raising financial support for Good Shepherd’s Swedish School in Bethlehem. Although the school, which offers education from the first grade in elementary school through high school, is officially a Christian school, 98% of its students come from Muslim homes.

Although Good Shepherd’s Swedish School is marketed by the Swedish Jerusalem Society as a school that promotes peace, Tobias Petersson, director of the think tank Perspective on Israel, has revealed that the textbooks used by Good Shepherd’s Swedish School have jihadi content that encourages holy war against the State of Israel.

The textbooks celebrate the Palestinian terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who was one of a group of 11 terrorists who murdered 38 civilians in Israel, including 13 children, on March 11, 1978. Also, in those textbooks, Jews are described as liars and corrupt. Petersson has reviewed the contents of the school books with Arabic translators living in Sweden. He has also verified the translations by getting second opinions to confirm their accuracy.

Maps in the schoolbooks and on the walls of Good Shepherd’s Swedish School do not show the State of Israel; instead the outline of Israel had been displaced by the identical outline of the “State of Palestine”. The school has opened its arms to controversial Palestinian Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, who is known for his praising of terrorists and hateful words against Israel.

BONUS: At a conference, I bumped into good pal Jennifer Kabbany, editor of The College Fix, and pledged to highlight a TCF piece by reporter Brittany Slaughter on Republican students (in Connecticut) starting to fight back again partisanship-based discrimination. From the article:

University of New Haven student Timothy Anop will never forget the day he went to class wearing a Trump shirt. He says his professor promptly berated him, telling Anop point-blank his opinions do not matter because they’re conservative.

That was in 2016, and Anop has not forgotten that experience. In fact, it’s part of what fuels his burgeoning effort as chairman of the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans to demand he and his like-minded peers have the right to be heard — and respected — on campus.

The federation recently rolled out an initiative called “Take Back the First” that calls on campus leaders at Connecticut’s colleges and universities to add political free speech protections to their anti-discrimination policies.

“There are roughly 22 other colleges in Connecticut that do not include political ideology in their discrimination policy,” Anop said. “We’ll be lobbying them to hopefully amend their discrimination policy to include political ideology to make it a protected act on campus.”


The Boy, a possible son-in-law, was over, discussing cool team logos of legend, and we both agreed that the Houston Colt .45s, as the Astros were know in the first three years of their franchise, was nifty, with the revolver’s smoke forming the “C” of the “Colt.” Do check it out. “I wonder,” said the boy, “if anyone ever wore the Number 45 while playing for the 45s?”

And so we checked that out, and indeed there was, and it’s all pretty melancholy. Jim Umbricht was a little long in the tooth for a rookie when he broke into the Big Leagues, finally, at the ancient age of 28, the Pittsburgh Pirates giving him a crack at starting a game in late 1959. What an entry: The first batter he faced that Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati was the Reds’ All-Star second baseman, Johnny Temple. He hit a home run. And in short order so did Frank Thomas and rookie Buddy Gilbert, the first of his tiny seven-game MLB career (Gilbert would only appear in one more game after that, and he’d hit a dinger in that one too).

To recap: The first three career hits Umbricht gave up (all in the first inning of his first appearance) were solo dingers. That might be a record.

After two more years with sporadic play in the Big Time, Umbricht was one of the last selections (the 35th) in the National League expansion draft in 1961, picked by Houston. He took Number 45, and appeared in 34 games for the newbies, posting a 2.01 ERA and earning a perfect 4–0 record, all the victories in relief (including an important late-season win over the collapsing first-place Dodgers, who would go on to lose a tiebreaking playoff game to the Giants). Things looked good for the 32-year-old righthander.

But between seasons, Umbricht discovered that he had malignant cancer. He had radical surgery, trained with determination, and . . . the hurler was in uniform for the Colt .45s on opening day. Now sporting Number 32 in 1963, Umbricht appeared in 35 games (he started in 3) and earned a 4–3 record with a 2.61 ERA. He had proven to be a bright spot on the Colt .45s’ staff in its initial two seasons. There wouldn’t be a third: The cancer returned, the category — incurable. A few days before the 1964 season began, Umbricht passed away. He was 33.

In 1965, Houston’s team, now the Astros, retired his last number, 32. The only Colt .45s player to wear Number 45, other than Umbricht, was aged rookie pitcher Don Bradey, who appeared in just three games in his career, all in 1964. On his 30th birthday he started against Los Angeles — it was the final game of the season — and the Dodgers blew out his candles: Bradey lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 5 earned runs. He took the loss.

A Dios

We know not the hour. Came the news from Claire that her brother, Greg, a.k.a Vhan (a self-imposed nickname with a hint of teenage secret-agent coolness in 1975 — marvelously, it stuck), had passed away on Saturday, his heart giving out at the age of 59. It had almost given out three years earlier, but he had the “widowmaker” in his doctor’s office. Location, location, location, as the saying goes — he survived. Then came . . . borrowed time? We all live on it. We were pals from the second day of high school, college roommates, vendors at the House that Ruth Built, mutual stonebreakers and wiseacres, occasional combatants, movie fans (he named an intramural basketball team Klaatu Barada Nikto and thrilled to nearly everyone’s ignorance of the reference). He leaves a young daughter. I beg you, if you have a prayer in you, to pray for his soul’s peaceful repose, and comfort for his mother, sisters, and child. And I beg another prayer: this one for Al, Big Al, so dear to NR, so tormented by his illness. His affairs in order, he is ready to meet God, Who we hope has open arms of true comfort. Pray that Al’s last days are merciful and happy (his last few months have been a passion), and a small preview to the eternity he richly deserves.

God’s blessing on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, champion of heroic failure, who can be told that and much more if you email him at

National Review

Shaddap Shutin’ Up


Dear Weekend Jolter,

Imagine if basketball had been invented 50 years earlier: The tall-walking Rail Splitter (pictured with Sun Yat-sen on this 1942 “China Resistance” stamp) would have been the sport’s George Mikan (“Starting at center for the Springfield Stovepipes, Number 16, Abraham Lincoln!”). Nowadays, Mr. Basketball is LeBron James, the multimillionaire icon, much less uneducated than moi et toi, who shot an airball when he positioned himself in opposition to the current China Resistance — the kind that is supportive of Hong Kong freedom lovers who take umbrage at their Beijing overlords (masterminding another round of reneging on the terms of the 1990s deal that returned the former British protectorate and financial powerhouse to the Reds).

Several NR writers have stuffed Mr. James’ kowtowing. For example, Kat Timpf, the Calvin Murphy of NR, soared as she rejected the Lakers’ capitalist star. From her piece:

Allow me to explain: James has tried to brand himself as someone who uses his platform as a damn good basketball player to advance what he believes politically. He’s taken stances on a whole host of social-justice issues, ranging from the killings of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Philando Castile, to what he sees as the need for gun regulation. Many people, particularly in conservative circles, have had a problem with this. Some have said that it isn’t his place to weigh in on these issues, that he should simply play his sport and leave it at that.

I have never been one of those people.

Yes — I do happen to agree with him on many of his past stances. For example, I believe that our criminal-justice system does have a disparate impact on people of color and have repeatedly used my own platform to educate people on this and fight against it. I didn’t agree with everything he said, sure, but to me, my agreement was never even the point. In fact, even if I had agreed with none of it, I was still never going to tell someone to stop using his hard-earned platform to be politically active. When many athletes, including James, were facing exactly this sort of backlash, James said: “It’s about the equality and the freedom to speak about things they feel are unjust” — and I agreed with him.

Now, I’m starting to question my support. Why? Because, although his words may have championed “the freedom to speak about things [you] feel are unjust,” his choices in recent days make me think he should have then added the qualifier: “unless it interferes with me making even more money.”

And then there is WJ godfather Big Jim Geraghty, who laid out the Warriors’ sanctimonious coach Steven Kerr with a very legitimate pick. From his analysis:

Hypocrisy is almost always worth calling out. But calling it out isn’t really enough; it doesn’t really do much to address the underlying issue.

During the Me Too controversy, there were quite a few conservatives who liked pointing out what they saw as glaring hypocrisy from Democrats, particularly regarding Bill Clinton or Hollywood figures. Indeed, that was some pretty pungent and obvious hypocrisy . . . but now what? Do we point at the hypocrisy and then walk away, concluding, “Our work here is done”? Hypocrisy’s a part of the story, but it’s not the sum total of the story or even necessarily the most important part. Yeah, a lot of Hollywood figures turned a blind eye to appalling behavior by powerful figures for a long time; when they pledge to try to the change the culture, should we applaud and try to reinforce that new, better stance, or is it enough to snicker that it will never change?

Perhaps a bunch of conservative China critics were slow to recognize the value of professional athletes speaking out about issues that matter to them most, and they’re conveniently forgetting their past “Stick to sports” arguments when the topic turns to China. Fair hit, lesson learned. But the reversal undermines Kerr’s position.

While in China, Kerr offered familiar criticisms of President Trump and American gun laws, and then made an appalling reference to “our human-rights abuses,” referring to the United States. Kerr is really comfortable speaking truth to power in Washington, and really uncomfortable speaking truth to power in Beijing. His argument about the hypocrisy of his critics is ultimately an excuse for his own hypocrisy.

Let’s move on, but not before sharing wise advice for Mr. James and his money-grubbing fellow hoopsters. It comes courtesy of Mr. B. Bunny: Shaddap, and Shaddap Shuttin’ Up.

Before We Get to the Main Course, You Need to Get Some Give Me Liberty

Rick Brookhiser’s new book is terrific. I should know: The galleys are in my hands. But the real thing — an actual copy of Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea — should be in yours, and will be in two or so weeks, if you’re as smart as I believe you are. More about that (the book-getting, not your intelligence — that’s very real and not debatable!) in a moment. As for right now . . .

. . . permission has been secured to give you a taste of this latest example of Brookhiser Brilliance. Here is a decent and telling slice from the books’ introduction:

The unique feature of America’s nationalism is its concern for liberty. We have been securing it, defining it, recovering it, and fighting for it for four hundred years. We have been doing it since we were a floundering settlement on a New World river, long before we were a country. We do it now on podiums and battlefields beyond our borders.

Our concern for liberty shapes how we live in society and what we know ourselves to be in the order of things: how we relate to each other and what God has made us. Americans are free and equal men and women, marked for liberty at birth. Ignorance and vice may obscure and sometimes even steal our birthright, but we work, stolidly or heroically, to reclaim it.

American liberty is liberty of the person. If liberty is applied to collections of persons, its meaning changes. When a country liberates itself from a colonial or imperial overlord (as dozens have since we did), it wins independence. When the machinery of the state liberates itself from incompetence or customary restraints, it may achieve efficiency or despotism. When a mob liberates itself from habits of good behavior, it produces chaos.

American liberty is about Americans—you, me, her, him. But this liberty is plural; it cannot be experienced alone. If one person living in a tyrannical state were somehow freed from all its supervision and punishments, he or she would experience the immunity of an alien or practice the duplicity of a spy. That person would not enjoy liberty. My liberty as an American is also yours; ours is others’.

We claim it for no other reason than we are persons, and America recognizes the sovereign importance of this fact. We enjoy liberty not because we are people and: people who have the right ancestors, people who practice the approved creed, or people who spend the most money. We enjoy it because we are men and women.

As Americans we claim to have a uniquely clear understanding of human nature and to act in accordance with it. But a desire for liberty asserts itself in other countries, too. The two with which our history is most bound enjoy elements of liberty, as we understand it. We inherited much from our mother country, Britain, and France’s revolution and republics have mirrored, and fun house–mirrored, our own. But Britain’s liberty is deeply rooted in a mold of custom, while France’s is buffeted by storms of passion. Britain still has a crown and classes; France every so often produces a new constitution. This is not a book about almost liberty elsewhere; it is a book about the real thing, here in America.

What follows Rick’s set-up are essays on 13 profound documents, instances, and events — from the ye olde “Minutes of the Jamestown General Assembly” and the “Flushing Remonstrance” to FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy Fireside Chat” and The Gipper’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech — which, ensembled, make the case for this very real, very American hallmark of we the people (to whom this book is dedicated, by the way).

Now I ask: Doesn’t all this make you want to run out and buy a copy? And I’ll answer for you: Yes. But — Give Me Liberty is not in bookstores until November 5. Your immediate running-out will be not be a mission-completed experience. But 2 — You can order Give Me Liberty right now at whatever online bookseller rings your bell (preferably Liberty): Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books.

A Baker’s Dozen Dollops of Creamy-of-the-Crop Conservatism

1. Victor Davis Hanson asks, is America being ‘sinisized’? From the column:

If in the past Chinese Communism impoverished its own citizens but left the world mostly alone, now it has enriched more than a billion people at home and terrified six billion abroad.

Far from a newly rich China becoming Westernized politically, the West and the rest of the world are more likely to become politically repressive like China.

Westerners, who apologize when Islamists kill cartoonists and journalists for supposedly insulting Islam, do not say a word when China puts a million Muslims into re-education camps, bulldozes Islamic cemeteries, and shuts down mosques.

Loud human-rights lions in Europe turn into kittens when it is a question of Chinese organ-harvesting, forced abortions and sterilizations, and the jailing and execution of dissidents.

American environmentalists demand a radical shutdown of the current fossil-fuel-based U.S. economy. They say little about greenhouse-gas emissions from China, the biggest polluter in the world by far.

Outspoken NBA athletes and hip Hollywood celebrities damn the Second Amendment, curse their president, and boycott states they find politically incorrect. But they become abject cowards when it comes to China.

2. Lee Edwards reminds us that three countries went down the Socialist path, bigly, and then U-turned, back to sanity and prosperity. From his essay:

Israel, India, and the United Kingdom all adopted socialism as an economic model following World War II. The preamble to India’s constitution, for example, begins, “We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic . . .” The original settlers of Israel were East European Jews of the Left who sought and built a socialist society. As soon as the guns of World War II fell silent, Britain’s Labour Party nationalized every major industry and acceded to every socialist demand of the unions.

At first, socialism seemed to work in these vastly dissimilar countries. For the first two decades of its existence, Israel’s economy grew at an annual rate of more than 10 percent, leading many to term Israel an “economic miracle.” The average GDP growth rate of India from its founding in 1947 into the 1970s was 3.5 percent, placing India among the more prosperous developing nations. GDP growth in Great Britain averaged 3 percent from 1950 to 1965, along with a 40 percent rise in average real wages, enabling Britain to become one of the world’s more affluent countries.

But the government planners were unable to keep pace with increasing population and overseas competition. After decades of ever declining economic growth and ever rising unemployment, all three countries abandoned socialism and turned toward capitalism and the free market. The resulting prosperity in Israel, India, and the U.K. vindicated free-marketers who had predicted that socialism would inevitably fail to deliver the goods. As British prime minister Margaret Thatcher observed, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

3. Frederic Hess exposes the metastasizing academic hostility to free speech. From the analysis:

Free inquiry on campus has come under fire. Survey data make it clear that many students (especially conservative ones) are hesitant to speak up in class. Faculty at schools ranging from Portland State to Sarah Lawrence to Northwestern University have been castigated by campus mandarins for the sin of challenging the regnant groupthink regarding such issues as the legacy of colonialism, the role of campus support staff, and Title IX. In light of that, one might expect academics to man the ramparts of academic freedom in the name of self-preservation.

Even as faculty have been investigated and intimidated for questioning campus orthodoxy, however, the academy has stood mutely by. And yet campus apologists have felt obliged to insist that concerns over attempts to encroach on academic freedom are exaggerated or overstated. For all the hypocrisy and obfuscation, this has at least suggested a professoriate that thinks it’s supposed to defend free inquiry.

That’s what makes a recent turn so disturbing. Some in the academy increasingly argue that the whole notion of free inquiry is a reactionary blemish rather than a bedrock principle. Indeed, in a new book published by Oxford University Press, New York University professor Ulrich Baer has done a signal (if disheartening) service in articulating this ominous new stance.

NYU’s Baer, a professor of comparative literature, German, and English, and author of What Snowflakes Get Right, told Inside Higher Education last week that “the urge to block speech, which is really a reminder that the university’s purpose is to vet ideas and regulate speech so that teaching and learning can proceed, is related to a new generation’s realization that free speech has become a weapon for conservatives to undermine equality and the university itself.” He explained that free speech “is neither a blanket permission to say anything without consequence . . . nor identical with academic freedom.”

4. The Red China hissy fit over the NBA is a microscopic concern when compared to Beijing’s global maritime strategy. Douglas Feith and Adm. Gary Roughead have the concern-worthy details. From the piece:

President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative involves huge infrastructure construction projects around the world. China uses the initiative to link itself to useful facilities and also to promote its own information-technology standards and e-commerce platforms, aiming not just to obtain commercial clout but to give Chinese officials access — clandestine as well as overt — to vast quantities of technological, commercial, personal, and other information — all of which is exploitable economically and strategically.

A major element of Belt and Road is a globe-girdling network of maritime ports. China owns, operates, or has plans to own or operate ports in scores of places, including Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The Chinese government integrates commercial and strategic activities to a much greater extent than do Western governments. One of its most important national-security initiatives is what China calls the Military-Civilian Fusion Policy. President Xi boasts of China’s commitment to taking advantage of civilian business activities to strengthen China’s military power.

5. President Trump’s Syria pullout is a blunder, says Rich Lowry. Of Obama proportions. From the analysis:

The pullback has managed, astonishingly enough, to alienate both the Kurds and Turkey from the United States. Usually, given the historic enmity between the two, it’s possible to alienate only one at a time. After we dumped them, the Kurds have fallen into the arms of the Assad regime, while Turkey will be as hostile to the U.S. as ever once Congress gets done trying to punish it for its invasion.

Just like Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq, Trump’s pullback in Syria is a belated reaction to the Iraq War. Obviously, there is no political support on the right or left for invading and occupying a Middle Eastern country with tens of thousands of troops again. But there’s a vast distance between the height of the occupation of Iraq, when we had 150,000 troops fighting a war of counterinsurgency, and our minimal commitment in Syria aimed at creating and supporting a proxy force to do the hard fighting against ISIS.

To throw both the Syria and Iraq interventions together under the rubric of “endless war” is to fail to make distinctions. It’s senseless to oppose a relatively cost-free action in Syria that has succeeded in its own terms (the ISIS caliphate has been defeated) because the Iraq War was fought for years at a high cost with dubious results. It’d be like opposing the invasion of Grenada because the invasion of Normandy required so much blood and treasure.

6. Smollet, thy name is Warren. So sayeth Kevin Williamson. From his piece:

Elizabeth Warren has long pretended to be a person of color — a “woman of color,” the Harvard law faculty called her. (That color is Pantone 11-0602.) What Senator Warren has in common with Jussie Smollett turns out to have nothing to do with skin tone. Smollett, you’ll recall, regaled the nation with the story of a couple of violent, Trump-loving, MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacists who just happened to be cruising a gay neighborhood in Chicago on the coldest night of the year, who also just happened to be fans of Empire, who also just happened to have some rope at hand. Who happened, as it turns out, to be a couple of Nigerian brothers and colleagues of Smollett’s.

Fiction, yes. Deployed, as we are always told when these lies are exposed as lies, in the service of a larger truth, a truth of which such habitual and irredeemable liars as Warren, Biden, Smollett — and Lena Dunham, and the so-called journalists of Rolling Stone, and the perpetrators of a thousand phony campus hate-crime hoaxes — are the appointed apostles.

“Does anybody seriously believe it was not as everyday as sunrise that employers made pregnant women leave their jobs 50 years ago?” CNBC’s John Harwood demanded in defense of Warren. Perhaps it has not occurred to Harwood, who purports to be a journalist of a kind, that the relevant question is not whether this sort of thing happened in the past to a great many women but whether this particular thing actually happened to this woman, which does not seem to be the case: The minutes of the local school-board meeting quite clearly document that Warren was offered a contract for further employment, which she declined. She was forthright in her account of the episode at earlier points in her life. She seems to have suddenly remembered the discrimination sometime between when she began advertising herself to the Ivy League as a Cherokee and the day when the Cherokee finally shamed her into knocking it off.

7. Madeleine Kearns reveals the origins of the transgender movement. From her piece:

Let’s start with medicine. When sex-change surgeries became surgically possible in the post-war period, it was understood to be something of a euphemism. Of course, a person couldn’t literally change from one sex to the other, it’d be more accurate to call it genital surgery, but people were trying to be euphemistic. These procedures were highly controversial, in part because they weren’t always that successful.

You might’ve seen the movie The Danish Girl, and you’re familiar with the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson’s book, in which he talks a lot about Paul McHugh, the psychiatrist who had to put an end to the surgeries in the 1970s at Johns Hopkins University, which he described as “collaborating with madness.” That’s how he called it. People who wanted to change their sex back then were called transsexuals. That was a term popularized by an endocrinologist, Harry Benjamin. Demand was fairly low; it was mostly males wanting to become females. It’s complicated, but sexologists realized there were two types of male-to-female transsexuals.

There was the homosexual transsexual. That’s the person who feels inconspicuously feminine and uncomfortable as a man and is actually a deeply sympathetic figure, I think. Then there’s the person with autogynophilia. That’s the person who finds the thought of themselves as a woman to be sexually exciting. Studies of interviews with such individuals, conducted by sexologists like Ray Blanchard or Anne Lawrence, suggest that it’s anything ranging from a man who’s turned on from the check assistant’s calling him “ma’am,” to somebody who likes to urinate on sanitary pads and to pretend they’re menstruating, and many other things that I think many of us would find too unpleasant to dwell on so early in the morning.

In my friend Douglas Murray’s new book, The Madness of Crowds, he explains that the struggle for defining things turned into this hardware versus software issue. So, intersex for instance, is very much a hardware issue. You can’t exactly get concerned about somebody who has a hardware issue because that’s not their fault. Of course, the reality with homosexuality is that it’s most likely some kind of combination of the two. People may be predisposed to certain proclivities, then there’s environment and so forth, but in any case, like Martin Luther King’s point, don’t define people by that.

8. Michael Brendan Dougherty warns that Facebook cannot become a President Warren’s Ministry of Truth. From the commentary:

Warren says that “Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once through negligence.” This is not knowably true, though liberals and progressives have done their best to claim otherwise since Trump’s election. In 2008 and 2012, Democrats were thrilled that Barack Obama was able to use Facebook very effectively, often exploiting the same techniques they deplored and viewed as conspiratorial when used on a smaller scale by groups aligned with the right. A decade ago, progressives fantasized about social-media-powered revolutions of the young across the world. In the years since, the median age of a Facebook user has gone up dramatically and now resembles the median age of a Donald Trump voter. Trump won the election, and we know that voters and his campaign interacted across Facebook during the campaign that preceded it. But it is still difficult, if not impossible, to determine how much Facebook caused his election to happen and how much it simply reflected his ascent.

One thing that’s certain is that the resulting controversy has not helped either our politics or Facebook’s public image (and thus its bottom line). Warren’s standard would have the potential to make future such controversies even more intense. Facebook’s certification of political ads would involve the company in more controversial political judgments and events, not fewer. To progressives who believe history’s arc bends in their direction by right, it would make Facebook appear more guilty when democracy threw up a surprise result. And it would arguably make the platform more powerful and desirable as a political ad space, which is an odd goal for an avowed opponent of corporate power to pursue.

9. James Sutton finds San Diego’s GOP mayor, Kevin Faulconer, worthy of observation and maybe emulation. From the report:

In an interview, Faulconer attributes his ability to win elections in a city where only 22 percent of voters are registered Republicans to a political brand that is “not about partisanship, but leadership.” This may sound like a boilerplate talking point, but it contains a lesson that Republicans seeking a toehold in blue states could learn from: Mayors are simply not subject to the same partisan pressures as legislators and other elected officials. If they eschew divisive, bomb-throwing bombast in favor of a focus on competent, productive governance, voters will reward them.

Faulconer’s rise and tenure is a case study in this dynamic. He was elected in the wake of the resignation of scandal-ridden Democratic mayor Bob Filner, with San Diego’s finances in deplorable shape. He promised to fix the city budget and did, establishing a low-key, technocratic image that helped him easily win his bid for a full term. It helped that he made an effort to reach out to voters who wouldn’t typically vote for a Republican. His campaign headquarters was located in a historically black city neighborhood, and he stressed throughout our interview how important that physical presence was in connecting with local residents. The result was that people knew him not “as a Republican,” he said, but as a competent mayor.

If Faulconer’s success were just a matter of personal temperament and a concerted effort to transcend party labels, other California Republicans might be forgiven for assuming he doesn’t have much to teach the struggling state party. But as he closes out his second term, Faulconer has zeroed in on an issue that the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic leadership has failed to address: the homelessness crisis. Though the issue is not his only his policy focus, he trumpets it as one that Republicans should zero in on.

At the recent California Republican party convention in Palm Springs, Faulconer devoted the bulk of his keynote address to discussing the explosion in the state’s homeless population. It is, he said, “not merely an issue in California, but the issue,” one that offers California Republicans a golden chance to present themselves as a viable alternative to their Democratic rivals. In our interview, he highlighted San Diego’s recent efforts to grapple with the crisis. Most crucially, he has committed the city to offering every homeless person services and housing. San Diego can now offer any persons living on the street housing, and compel them to enter it if they refuse. It’s a real accomplishment, though he is quick to caution that “housing first” cannot become “housing only.” If the goal is to keep people off the streets long-term, he argues, it is just as important for shelter services to connect homeless people with treatment and counseling as it is to give them a place to stay.

10. Douglas Murray takes on the game and consequences of Internet-shaming and www-schadenfreude. From the article:

In February 2018, only a few months before Sarah Jeong’s appointment to the New York Times editorial board, the paper had announced another recruitment, that of a 44-year-old tech journalist called Quinn Norton. The Internet immediately went to work, and — as they later would with Sarah Jeong — analyzed her Twitter feed. Again they found tweets that were, in the language of social-justice campaigners, “not good.” Among the things that were found were a number of tweets from 2013 in which Norton had used the word “fag.” As in “Look, fag” and (on one occasion with another Twitter user with whom she was rowing) “you s*** eating, hypersensitive little crybaby fag.” On another occasion — back in 2009 — Norton was found to have used the most unacceptable word of all. In 2009, in a row with another Twitter user, she had replied, “If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have would have [sic] made him president. Oh, but wait . . . Um.” Just seven hours after the New York Times had announced its new hire, it backpedaled by saying Norton would not in fact be joining the paper.


In a subsequent piece in The Atlantic Norton explained what she thought had happened. She acknowledged that many things she had written and tweeted in the past had been ignorant and embarrassing. She also explained what it felt like to, in her words, have a “doppelganger” version of herself swiftly emerge online. In common with other people who had been the subject of online shaming this version of her that people were railing against was not “who she was” but a hideous, simplified, out-of-context version of tiny parts of herself.

She explained that she believed herself to have been the victim of what she referred to as “context collapse.” This is another term for the collapse of the divide between private and public language, where a conversation meant for an in-group becomes known to an out-group with no knowledge of the original context of the discussion. Norton said that her use of the “n” word had been in the context of an online row in which she was “in support of [President] Obama.” Since Norton had been in friendly as well as unfriendly rows with various white racists it was possible that she was using vile language to mirror back at someone who was also using vile language. Elsewhere her engagement with “Anons” (members of the activist collective “Anonymous”) was explained to be the reason for her use of the word “fags.” Such language gets used in such groups, but clearly does not transfer well to the world of the New York Times. The two worlds met, Norton was history there, and the world stampeded on.

11. Hare Trigger: Armond White takes in Jojo Rabbit and, frankly, hates it. Dig the review:

Bad ideas are in vogue, which makes Jojo Rabbit a candidate for this week’s zeitgeist movie. It’s a two-ton whimsy about Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a ten-year-old German cherub during World War II, so fascinated with Der Führer, the leader of his country’s ideals, that he envisions Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend.

As played by Taika Waititi, Funny Adolf behaves childishly and runs alongside Jojo with gangly, clown-like gestures during an outing with Hitlerjugend troops. Although given to making angry-face speeches about Aryan superiority and silly anti-Jewish pronouncements, Funny Adolf represents Jojo’s ignorance of Third Reich ideology and his pre-adolescent hero-worship.

But don’t worry, writer-director Taika Waititi, best known for the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok, hasn’t made Hitler a superhero on the right side of history; instead, Waititi’s calculated political correctness lampoons political idolatry as immature, low-information folly. Jojo Rabbit ought to expose the projection of fears and self-loathing that’s become the common feature of far-left ideology, but it avoids that realization and settles for being a zeitgeist satire that targets the political infatuation of others, not your own.

No wonder Jojo Rabbit won over award-season shills at the recent Toronto Film Festival, where it took the same audience prize as last year’s Green Book. Award-givers have become as obtuse as little Jojo in conflating political self-righteousness with artistic excellence. This foolishness recalls what Pauline Kael ridiculed as “Nazi junkie” movies; only now it happens with flicks about identity politics.

12. Springtime for Hitler? Kyle Smith, brimming with anticipation, saw Jojo Rabbit and — wanting so much to gush — thought it . . . unfunny. From the review:

Hitler provides rich potential for comedy, yet despite trying really hard, I didn’t laugh once in Jojo Rabbit. Do two or three half-chuckles count? Not really. Johannes, or Jojo (a wide-eyed kid named Roman Griffin Davis), is a fully indoctrinated Hitler Youth, complete with the uniform suggesting Fascist Cub Scouts and a ridiculous fear of Jews. Early scenes having him romping through training exercises with his fellow Aryan middle-schoolers under the watchful gaze of a dissolute German officer (Rockwell is ideal for this part) who lets slip that the war is about to be lost, so nothing much matters. It’s Berlin in 1945. Assisting him is a Teutonic wench (Rebel Wilson) who reminds me of the lady concentration-camp commandant in Seven Beauties. Things get a bit confusing for Jojo when he’s asked to demonstrate his master-race cruelty by wringing the neck of a rabbit. He can’t do it. The kids mock him as a timid, frightened little thing — Jojo Rabbit. He’s so frustrated that he blows himself up with a grenade, because playing with live hand grenades is the kind of thing Nazi kids do, I guess. It’s 1945, anything goes.

Jojo recovers slowly, thanks to his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, played by the writer-director of the movie, Taika Waititi. Hitler is (mostly) a genial sort who pops out behind beams and has dinner with Jojo to offer fond advice and reminders about the perfidy of the Jews. Jojo and his mom (Scarlett Johansson in hausfrau mode) are making do without the man of the house, who is off fighting in Italy but hasn’t been heard from in two years. To add to all of his sources of confusion, Jojo discovers there’s a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) living in a secret room upstairs.

By the time this setup is established, though, the movie, adapted from an obscure 2006 novel called Caging Skies, is running on fumes.

13. Shuffle Off to Albright-Knox: Brian Allen is in Buffalo and digs “a wonderful, idiosyncratic collection” located at “an unusual architectural campus.” From the article:

I visited this week before the museum’s closure in early November for a big, new building project. It now has two great buildings. Its neoclassical 1905 building is an elegant gem, cool, columnar with Edwardian flash. It’s not big. It’s gracious and welcoming, but it’s a temple of art. The Saint-Gaudens caryatids on the entrance frieze — they’re the best visitor-services people — suggest you enter with a clear, disciplined frame of mind. You take a breath when you walk through the museum. You leave feeling the experience is unique to you. Caryatids don’t ask for money and don’t tell you where the bathroom or shop is. They suggest you think. Sculpture is so good at that, especially when it’s 30 feet in the air.

The 1962 building addition by Gordon Bunshaft is a spare modernist box. It pulled the architecture of the Gilded Age — the 1905 building — toward the Space Age, still leaving the original building with a place of pride. It’s a fake one.

The Bunshaft building is a passive-aggressive space. It wins by pretending to lose. It’s squat and brown, and could be the executive building of a big business. It’s anonymous, but, when it opened in 1962, it was, all of a sudden, the new entrance. The steps to the old entrance were blocked by a Berlin Wall–type thing. The 1962 building has exhibition space, in corridors, with the art lined up, like the shops at Penn Station.

On November 4, construction starts on a third building, and that pulls the place into the 21st century. It’s a 30,000-square-foot new building designed by Shohei Shigematsu and OMA America. OMA is an international firm with roots in Japan. The new building will be transparent, with lots of glass and big, naturally lit spaces for art. It’s not passive-aggressive. The big box will loom and direct. It will win by winning. I think it will be beautiful, but I think this with reservations.

The Six

1. Elizabeth Warren pledges a President Warren would appoint impartial judges, and then, as Greg Weiner notes in Law & Liberty, promises a SCOTUS spot for a labor advocate. From the analysis:

Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Harvard Law School, has a plan—of course she does—for guaranteeing an “impartial and ethical judiciary” based on “the basic premise of our legal system,” which is “that every person is treated equally in the eyes of the law.” Shortly before its unveiling, she tweeted a promise to nominate “a demonstrated advocate for workers” to the Supreme Court.

In other words, she seeks a justice who would violate Canon 3 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which requires jurists to disqualify themselves from cases in which they have “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.” The Code does not apply to the Supreme Court, but buckle up: The aforesaid “plan for that” would extend the ethical rules to the Supreme Court, which means Warren is promising to appoint justices whose conduct she will seek to classify as unethical.

This tangle of contradiction—as to her plans, Warren likely wants us to behold the magnificence of the forest, not the individual trees—illustrates the outcome-based constitutionalism that has infected American jurisprudence. It may be true, as Chief Justice John Roberts has said, that we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges. But we are apparently supposed to have worker judges or employer judges, abortion judges or gun judges.

Conspicuously lacking from Warren’s plan for an impartial judiciary is any sense of what that means for the judge’s role in the constitutional order. The bulk of the plan seeks to root out among judges the corruption Warren sees lurking around the corner of every disagreement. Judges retire to escape ethics inquiries; take away their pensions. “Ban judges from owning or trading individual stocks.” Supreme Court justices would have to explain recusal decisions. She would apply to Supreme Court justices the judicial code of conflict. She would fast-track impeachment of judges by changing the rules of the House of Representatives.

2. More Weiner: This time in the new issue of National Affairs, he explains the difference between morality and moralism. From the essay:

One of the most striking features of contemporary American politics is that political rhetoric is increasingly moralistic while the actual ability of governing systems to achieve moral ends is in decline. These are related phenomena: Moralistic politics is prone to stalemate because it disdains such instruments of effective political practice as barter and compromise. Its insistence on its own correctness, elevated to the urgency of the moral plane, makes compromise not merely imprudent but indefensible. Because of its tendency toward monomaniacal focus on single issues to the exclusion of all others, it cannot engage in horse-trading.

Where the politician sees shades of gray and operates in a world of contradictions and tensions, the moralist, hostile to nuance, perceives only darkness and light. This has a dual effect. First, it limits what is often the very value being proclaimed — liberty — since the moralist denies the variety of moral concerns and forecloses options other than his own. When moral questions are oversimplified, there is no room for liberty and the responsibility that should attend it. When imperatives are categorical, prudence is impossible. This dissolves liberty in favor of a one-dimensional and allegedly unimpeachable moral truth.

Second, cautious, partial steps toward moral ends cannot satisfy the moralizer because he operates in an environment in which more of the object in view is always better than less. Moralism cannot tolerate the fact, evident to James Madison in Federalist No. 10, that disagreement is “sown in the nature of man.” The moralist thus has neither the capacity nor the desire for intellectual empathy, the ability to see an issue from another’s point of view.

In short, for the moralist, unlike for the statesman, to “let justice be done though the heavens fall” is an acceptable tradeoff, for the options are identical: The pursuit of justice may bring down the heavens, but so will the persistence of injustice. The issues are always ultimate. The stakes of success and failure are the same.

3. In the new issue of Commentary, Josef Joffe refuses to genuflect for the religion of climatism and its apostle, Little Miss Thunberg. From the essay:

For the believers, the debate is closed, and exhortation has segued into excommunication. No more catty humor, like that on display in the unforgettable bumper sticker from the 1970s: “Save the Planet! Kill yourself!” Those who reject the faith are “climate-change deniers,” as in “denying the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:23). Relate Climatism to Judeo-Christianity, and the psycho-structural analogies abound.

First, you need a prophet like Isaiah who rains damnation on the wayward. “Woe to a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers! They have forsaken the Lord and turned their back on him” (Isaiah 1:4). Greta, and Gore before her, replicates the language of the Good Book. Today, penitence demands renouncing the obscene material pleasures that doom our planet with megatons of noxious gases.

Second, invoke the apocalypse, as in the Revelation of St. John (Revelation 13:13), where God will “make fire come down from the heavens.” Religion, pagan or monotheist, is shot through with cosmic angst attacks. The Deluge goes back to the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic (1800 b.c.e.). Sodom and Gomorrah are incinerated for their debaucheries. Egypt is punished with the Ten Plagues to force Pharaoh to “let my children go.” Hardly had they fled when God wanted to slay them all for praying to the Golden Calf. In a brilliant plea, Israel’s greatest prophet, Moses, manages to stave off extinction. God reduced the death sentence to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

Today, the harbingers of doom are armed with assumptions, models, and data. Melting ice will raise sea levels, swallowing coasts and islands. What the floods spare will be devastated by droughts or hurricanes. The most recent sign from up high is the darkened skies over the Amazon’s rain forests, the “lungs of the world,” which presages collective death by asphyxiation. For the first iteration of this threat, one need only go back to Revelation 6:13: “The sun became black, and the whole moon became as blood.”

4. Erdogan was planning this ethnic cleansing all along, reports Malcolm Lowe at Gatestone Institute. From his report:

It is now clear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intended the annihilation of the Syrian Kurds already two years ago. Moreover, his plans became evident to the US military by the beginning of 2019 and were conveyed to President Trump at that time.

In order to disguise his plans, Erdogan revealed them stage by stage, by making first lesser and then greater demands on the US military, to which Trump agreed — sometimes in the course of telephone conversations with Erdogan. So Erdogan was able to hoodwink the US military up to January 2019 and to hoodwink Trump up to the current invasion: Trump resolutely defied contrary advice from the military (and from everyone else).

At first, Erdogan demanded the removal of Kurdish militias only west of the Euphrates river. This was the proclaimed aim of his so-called Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch (the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Kurds from the Afrin area). With that accomplished, he began demanding a Turkish-controlled “security zone” east of the river, to be 32 kilometers deep. The US responded by agreeing to joint US-Turkish patrols in the area. Erdogan demanded that the Kurdish towns in the area should dismantle the fortifications that they had raised to defend themselves from the Islamic State (ISIS). The Kurds agreed, reassured by the US military that this step would remove any excuse for a Turkish invasion.

Finally, in October 2019, Erdogan asked Trump in a further telephone call to remove US troops from the patrols and Trump agreed, believing that by threatening Turkey on Twitter, he could deter a Turkish invasion. The invasion started forthwith. It has been stalled, maybe, now that the Kurds have invited the army of the Assad regime to deploy throughout northeastern Syria up to the Iraqi frontier. If so, the beneficiaries will include Iran, America’s arch enemy, which can now see its yearned-for highway all the way from Tehran to Quneitra on Israel’s border.

5. More Gatestone Institute: Guy Millière checks out the case of journalist Érik Zemmour and the continuing diminishment of free speech in France. From the speech:

Zemmour’s speech describes a situation already discussed by various writers. Zemmour is not the first to say that the no-go zones are dangerous areas the police can no longer enter, or that they are under the control of radical imams and Muslim gangs who assault and drive out non-Muslims. Zemmour is not the only writer to describe the consequences of the mass-immigration of Muslims who do not integrate into French society. The pollster Jerome Fourquet, in his recent book, The French Archipelago, points out that France today is a country where Muslims and non-Muslims live in separate societies “hostile to each other”. Fourquet also emphasizes that a growing number of Muslims living in France say they want to live according sharia law and place sharia law above French law. Fourquet notes that 26% of French Muslims born in France want to obey only Sharia; for French Muslims born abroad, the figure rises to 46%. Zemmour merely added that what was happening is a “colonization”.

Zemmour had been hauled into court many times in the recent past and has had to pay heavy fines. On September 19, he was fined 3,000 euros ($3,300) for “incitement to racial hatred” and “incitement to discrimination”, for having said in 2015 that “in countless French suburbs where many young girls are veiled, a struggle to Islamize territories is taking place”.

In a society where freedom of speech exists, it would be possible to discuss the use of these statements, but in France today, freedom of speech has been almost completely destroyed.

Writers other than Zemmour have been hauled into court and totally excluded from all media, simply for describing reality. In 2017, the great historian Georges Bensoussan published a book, A Submissive France, as alarming as what Zemmour said a few days ago. Bensoussan, in an interview, quoted an Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, who had said that “in Arab families, children suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk”. Laacher was never indicted. Bensoussan, however, had to go to criminal court. Although he was acquitted, he was fired by the Paris Holocaust Memorial, which until then had employed him.

6. Something Queer Here: The College Fix’s Maria Lencki reports how at the University of Alabama, “LGBT Month” celebrated plenty of “queer identities” — gay men not among them. From the article:

A public university is hosting programming for LGBTQIA+ History Month in an effort to educate students about different spectrums of sexuality, with the school offering program on half a dozen queer identities. Conspicuously absent among them: Gay men.

The University of Alabama marks October as LGBTQIA+ History Month and as part of its monthlong programming is hosting talks for students about various types of LGBT “identities and their histories,” according to the school’s website. The programming covers well-known LGBT variants such as lesbianism and bisexuality, as well as more avant-garde sexualities and identities including asexuality, aromanticism, pansexuality, transgenderism and gender non-conformism.

Yet the university’s scheduled list of LGBT talks does not include a presentation on gay men, a demographic that forms a significant percentage of the LGBT community.

The talks are sponsored by the university’s Spectrum organization, the stated goal of which is to provide “understanding and education within the university and its surrounding communities of LGBTQIA+ individuals and (prevent) discrimination against them.”

The College Fix reached out to the school’s Spectrum group, university media relations and the school’s Safe Zone club to ask why the presentation subjects excluded gay men and if the school is planning on hosting any events specifically for or about that demographic. The Fix also inquired about how LGBTQIA+ History Month started at the university and how well-attended the events are. None of these organizations responded to multiple emails.

R.I.P. Mike Uhlmann

The former aide to Senator James L. Buckley, Claremont professor, philanthropy guru, expert on the electoral college (here’s a still-important NR piece he wrote in 2004), champion of the unborn (he helped President Reagan author Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation for The Human Life Review in 1983), and so much more, especially a friend to many, passed away early this month.

We remembered this important figure in the history of conservatism in The Week in the current issue of NR:

Michael Uhlmann was a friend of this magazine and a servant, and quiet leader, of American conservatism in politics and academe. An alumnus of Yale, Virginia, and Claremont, he served as assistant attorney general in the Ford administration and as an assistant to President Reagan. Between his jobs in the executive branch, Uhlmann presided over the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, where he was guided by the insight that “the consumer is, in fact, a much more complex animal than dreamt of by those who have put his personal stamp on a lot of regulation.” (Translation: Ralph Nader didn’t speak for everyone.) He taught at Claremont and George Mason and was a senior scholar at the James Wilson Institute, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center claimed him as a senior fellow. He allied with the pro-life movement, arguing especially against euthanasia and assisted suicide — his book about them is titled “Last Rights?” He died on October 8, at age 89. With gratitude for his lasting intellectual contributions: R.I.P.

Among Others: At The American Mind, Ryan P. Williams offered a warm tribute. Steven Hayward bids farewell to his pal in Power Line. And at Law & Liberty, Michael Greve fondly remembers an old friend. As does the great Hadley Arkes at James Wilson Institute.


My old pal Jeremy Beer has a new book coming out in mid-November: Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player, about the Negro League legend considered by many to be the greatest-ever ballplayer who never wore a Major League uniform — Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Tris Speaker rolled into one, per his teammates and foes — and who had a profound role in the game’s integration.

Charleston, a true superstar, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1976. Here’s his Hall of Fame page. And he gets his due in Jeremy’s book, which Publishers Weekly gushes over. From the review:

In the 1940s, Charleston caught Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey’s attention as a scout for the organization, work he performed up through his death, having recommended several outstanding players, including catcher Roy Campanella. Beer’s evenhanded narrative makes a convincing case for Charleston as the greatest baseball player who never played in the majors. This is a solid hit for baseball historians and fans alike.

National Pastime junkies are going to love this book. Here’s a slice I cut (with permission!) from the first chapter:

Baseball’s integration wasn’t complete—the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox had yet to field a black player—but with Mays, Irvin, Doby, Robinson, Newcombe, Campanella, Aaron, Minnie Minoso, and Ernie Banks the Major Leagues now had a cadre of established and rising black stars. What reason was there, in October 1954, to dwell on the old days? To revisit the era in which men like Charleston had excelled? To do so was embarrassing and painful. The wound of baseball’s segregated history was still fresh, progress stupefyingly slow. Black civil rights activists’ eyes were focused on the needs of the present, including implementation of the desegregation order handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court just a few months earlier in a case called Brown v. Board of Education. The erstwhile defenders of baseball’s and society’s racial status quo had no interest in being reminded of the talented players they and their predecessors had ignored. Everyone seemed to agree: let the dead bury the dead.

When news of Charleston’s passing came, then, it did not spark curiosity among those outside the diminishing Negro Leagues community about this man known as an—if not the—all-time Negro Leagues great. It amounted to little more than the fact that another old black ballplayer had died. He was said to have been incredible, but who could tell? Even if you were curious to learn more, there were no reliable statistics, no audio or video evidence, no books, no reference materials, nothing with which to substantiate virtually any claim made about Oscar Charleston or any other player whom you hadn’t seen with your own eyes.

Charleston’s death gained only the briefest mention in non- black sources. The Sporting News ran a one-paragraph notice. Charleston’s hometown Indianapolis Star ran a short obituary. The Philadelphia Inquirer ignored his death completely, even though he had lived in the city for nearly fifteen years. Thus did Oscar Charleston enter an afterlife of persistent, and entirely unmerited, obscurity.

For the rest of the 1950s and 1960s Charleston’s name was rarely mentioned outside the black press. That was true, of course, of virtually every Negro Leaguer who never played in the Majors. But even those black players who became big league stars during the postwar period generally refrained from name-checking Oscar. Jackie Robinson, the African American with the biggest public platform in the 1950s and ’60s, never mentioned Charleston in his various autobiographies and articles, even though Charleston was closely involved with Branch Rickey’s plan to break baseball’s color line. For Jackie as for most others—including Hank Aaron—who made their names in the post–1947 world, the Negro Leagues were something about which to be embarrassed. Jackie’s teammate Roy Campanella attempted to credit Charleston for helping to scout him, but in his 1959 autobiography either he or his ghostwriter mistakenly devoted a paragraph to “Oscar Robertson” rather than Charleston. Suffice to say that the Cincinnati Bearcats basketball star, although he grew up in the same Indianapolis neighborhood as Charleston, had nothing to do with Campanella’s entry into the National League.

It took the opinionated and iconoclastic Ted Williams to puncture the imaginative barrier segregating pre-integration black players from their white contemporaries and the black stars who came later. “The other day Willie Mays hit his 522nd home run,” said Williams from the podium during his 1966 Hall of Fame induction speech at Cooperstown, New York. “He has gone past me,” Williams continued, “and he’s pushing, and I say to him, ‘Go get ’em, Willie.’ Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”

It was the first time any inductee had such a thing. Williams’s speech spurred the Hall of Fame to begin seriously considering pre-integration black players for induction. But note that Williams only called for Paige’s and Gibson’s election specifically. Earlier stars like Charleston remained absent from his, and everyone else’s, radar.

Pre-order directly from the publisher (University of Nebraska Press) and get a 40% discount (here’s the order link, and use the code 6AS19). You want Amazon? Fine, here’s the link.

Now Jeremy is no dope: Averse to shoveling snow, he lives in Phoenix. And that’s where, on November 14, there will be a groovy book-launch event (at Changing Hands Bookstore), where Jeremy will be interviewed by Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro, who has the Diamondbacks beat. Info about the event is here. Go if you can.

A Dios

This is typed at my daughter’s home. She is a school nurse, something is being delivered, someone had to be there, Mr. Someone can bang out WJ here just as well as anywhere. Sadie, the beloved rottweiler, whines the whole time, feet away, wanting attention. She loves Mr. Someone. The feeling is mutual. Whining or not, dog spelled backwards . . . Pets come and go. When they go, they take a piece of our heart with them. For those who ache right now over a Fido, called home to play catch with Abraham, lend a prayer. And on a more human level, pray for brave souls in Hong Kong who risk life and limb for the rights many of us, this side of Mr. James, continue to believe to be unalienable.

God’s blessings on You, Your Family and Your Loved Ones, Even the Four-Legged Kind,

Jack Fowler, who can be shocked and awed by your thoughts if conveyed to

National Review

It’s a Wonderful . . . Strife


Dear Weekend Jolter,

This past Tuesday, NR launched its 2019 Fall Webathon, the second of our twice-annual online fundraisers seeking help to keep the USS Buckley supplied with depth charges to drop on America’s lefty enemies.

You are permitted to translate that as a request for general support — and if you read it as an entreaty for your personal support, well, you’d be on to something. But know this before you scroll away: This appeal is about more than keeping on the lights. It’s also about our real need to fund the nation’s most important legal fight, Mann v. National Review.

We should know within two weeks about the future of this pressing strife, really not so wonderful: Will the United States Supreme Court take up the case (here is NR’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed in May, asking for such), or will a jury trial proceed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, where we may find a dozen residents of the Capital deciding policy on global warming? Either way, there will be a terribly hefty tab.

Back in 2012, Penn State professor Michael Mann sued NR. The D.C. Court has repeatedly refused to toss his claim, despite the Supreme Court’s numerous rulings broadly protecting free speech, and this year ordered the case to go trial. Mann v. National Review in this venue has so far cost millions. Much of that has been paid by our insurer.

But a lot hasn’t. It needs to be: This has become America’s premier battle for free speech, and it involves not just NR’s rights, but those of every American.

Your Humble Correspondent figures that when it comes to speech, the folks on the Left are very much in favor of conservatives’ rights — as long as they are limited to our Miranda rights. They want us to be silent. We refuse. So do you. That’s why we ask for, and need, your financial support to help defray the legal costs. Provide that help and you will be defending, literally, a fundamental liberty. Donate here.

By the way, in that picture above, there are two folks who were donors to NR: Ward Bond (Bert, the cop) and Jimmy Stewart, George Bailey himself. If you look closely at the image, it’s a donation scene. Hint. Hint. Tell us you are inspired!

Entreaties and hints having been made, let us get on with the Weekend Jolt.


1. We find President Trump’s decision to hand over to Turkey the matters of ISIS and northern Iraq, where America’s Kurdish allies — despised by the Turks — are sure to face new terrors. From our editorial:

The Trump administration is making a serious mistake. Late Sunday night, it released a statement declaring that Turkey would be “moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria” and that American forces “will no longer be in the immediate area.” The practical result of this statement is obvious: Turkey now has an American permission slip to conduct an invasion into Kurdish territory, kill American allies, and carve out a zone of dominance that will further inflame and complicate one of the world’s most dangerous regions.

There are no easy answers in Syria. While the ISIS caliphate is in ruins, ISIS itself is still potent and active in both Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Civil War grinds on, and the conflict between the Turks and the Kurds has festered for decades. American forces are in a perilous place, but their presence not only helps maintain momentum in the fight against ISIS, it also deters further genocidal bloodshed in northern Syria. The United States should have an exit strategy, but one that neither squanders our tactical gains against ISIS nor exposes our allies to unacceptable retribution.

Trump’s action, unfortunately, raises the risk of both bad outcomes. As Kurds reposition to confront a potential Turkish invasion, they’ll invariably pull back from the fight against ISIS, and while Trump seems to believe (based on Sunday night’s statement) that “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States,” the more likely outcome is a loss of control of ISIS detention camps.

2. In the midst of the Ukraine Circus, we advise POTUS to can the antics and strategize for revenge to come in a reelection next November. From the editorial:

President Trump has reacted to the controversy by, as is his wont, filling the airwaves and Twitter timelines with haymaker counterpunches and wild charges. Much of this hasn’t been helpful to his cause and has been unworthy of his office. The president shouldn’t troll the press and his domestic opponents with theatrical calls for China to investigate the Bidens, nor should he ridiculously accuse his critics of treason. Utah senator Mitt Romney’s denunciations of Trump’s statements are sincere and shouldn’t be met with presidential abuse and derision. Trump always acts like he’s one of his own surrogates and, in this case, has often sounded like one of his anonymous supporters on Twitter.

The truth is that, absent some radical change in the dynamic, the House is inevitably going to impeach Trump and the Senate is inevitably going to acquit him. What we’re essentially arguing about is how this impeachment and acquittal will be regarded in the run-up to 2020 by independents and persuadable voters. The president — if he’s capable of it — should pitch his defense to those voters, with the understanding that, from his perspective, the best revenge would be making himself the first president to be impeached and reelected.

3. We call a flagrant foul on the NBA. From the editorial:

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, it’s that the NBA (and ESPN and Apple and Blizzard) have united Americans across the political spectrum. Progressives and conservatives alike are repulsed by the rank opportunism and venal censorship of allegedly “woke” American corporations. Each new progressive corporate foray into American politics should be met with an immediate follow-up: “Thank you for your thoughts on pro-life laws in Georgia. Do you care to comment on the concentration camps near your basketball camp in the People’s Republic of China? Do you care to comment on your decision to silence Americans who dissent from Chinese repression in Hong Kong? Do you have any thoughts on aiding Hong Kong police by deleting an app that helps protesters avoid physical beatings?”

While exposing corporate hypocrisy is useful, the much deeper issue remains. American companies seeking access to the Chinese market risk being conscripted into the Chinese system of repression.

But for now, the NBA is exposed. When push comes to shove, it is not progressive. It does not love liberty. It’s a crass commercial enterprise masquerading as a value-laden league. Its “bravest” voices — those who are ready, willing, and eager to uncork angry screeds against domestic political foes — have trouble making the mildest of statements against truly horrific human-rights violations. How “complicated” are concentration camps, exactly? Keep this up, and the NBA may well find that its craven appeasement of 10 percent of its revenue market will cost it dearly with the 90 percent who truly pay its multi-billion dollar bills.

4. Beto O’Rourke, not heading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but wherever he is going, to cheers he is attacking the roots of American civil society. We condemn the claptrap. From the editorial:

Other candidates have not yet echoed O’Rourke. But the crowd applauded. And his position has not come out of nowhere. President Obama’s solicitor general suggested to the Supreme Court that the tax exemption of religious colleges that oppose same-sex marriage might have to be revisited. Six of the presidential candidates, including leading contender Elizabeth Warren, have co-sponsored the “Equality Act,” which specifically states that religious believers could not invoke the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to ask to escape its new restrictions on private conduct. It would be the first congressional limitation of the religious-freedom law since it was enacted, nearly by acclamation, in 1993. Several of the candidates have also endorsed another piece of legislation that is specifically directed at shrinking the reach of that law.

Put on Your Shades Because You Are about to See a Dozen Examples of Brilliant Conservatism

1. Rich Lowry takes on “1619 Project” distortionist Nikole Hannah-Jones. From his essay:

Hannah-Jones’s account of American slavery is justly excoriating but is careful to leave out anything that might even slightly complicate her story or might prove discomfiting to the Left.

“They were,” Hannah-Jones writes of the first slaves brought to colonial America, “among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean.” She doesn’t say who kidnapped them. She refers later to “people stolen from western and central Africa.” Again, she doesn’t say who first stole these people so they could be sent across the Atlantic in chains.

Why not? Like it or not, it was Africans who captured other Africans, and marched them to the coast to be sold to European slavers. African slavery existed before Europeans showed up, and it persisted after they left. This, of course, doesn’t make the Middle Passage, so excruciatingly awful it’s difficult to even read about, any better. But it cuts against the impression that she wants to leave that slavery was a uniquely European, and especially American, phenomenon.

Indeed, you might get the idea from reading her essay that colonial Americans were the ones who came up with the idea of racialized slavery. Sadly, it had a long history before Thomas Jefferson showed up on the scene.

2. Andy McCarthy believes the US / Kurd / Turkey situation is a little more complicated than it seems. From his commentary:

Some U.S. military officials went public with complaints about being “blindsided.” The policy cannot have been a surprise, though. The president has made no secret that he wants out of Syria, where we now have about 1,000 troops (down from over 2,000 last year). More broadly, he wants our forces out of the Middle East. He ran on that position. I’ve argued against his “endless wars” tropes, but his stance is popular. As for Syria specifically, many of the president’s advisers think we should stay, but he has not been persuaded.

The president’s announcement of the redeployment of the Syrian troops came on the heels of a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This, obviously, was a mistake, giving the appearance (and not for the first time) that Trump is taking cues from Ankara’s Islamist strongman. As has become rote, the inevitable criticism was followed by head-scratching tweets: The president vows to “totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey,” which “I’ve done before” (huh?), if Turkey takes any actions “that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits.” We can only sigh and say it will be interesting to see how the president backs up these haughty threats now that Erdogan has begun his invasion.

All that said, the president at least has a cogent position that is consistent with the Constitution and public opinion. He wants U.S. forces out of a conflict in which America’s interests have never been clear, and for which Congress has never approved military intervention. I find that sensible — no surprise, given that I have opposed intervention in Syria from the start (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The stridency of the counterarguments is matched only by their selectiveness in reciting relevant facts.

I thus respectfully dissent from our National Review editorial.

3. Helen Raleigh savages corporations for kowtowing to Commie China. From her piece:

Early last week, we learned Apple pulled a popular app, HK Map Live, from the App Store. Hong Kong protesters have been relying on this app to track police activity on the streets of Hong Kong and to avoid trouble spots. The app also helps bystanders plan their routes to their daily lives without getting caught up in increasingly violent confrontations between the police and protesters. Given the fact that Hong Kong police shot an 18-year-old protester on October 1, China’s National Day, this app could be life-saving for many.

Yet Apple decided to pull the app right after one of the bloodiest clashes between the Hong Kong police and protestors. The company informed the app developer that “Your app contains content — or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity — that is not legal. . . . Specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement.”

It’s hard to believe this is the same Apple whose most iconic ad was a rebel throwing a hammer at the image of a “Big Brother,” or the same company that fought against the FBI’s request to build a backdoor access to an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

4. Hans von Spakovsky and John York take on the Democrats’ demand that Facebook “fact check” political speech. From the piece:

With political discourse, as with sports, Facebook’s “let ’em play” approach is for the best. Attempts to tightly referee political discourse often devolve into partisan point-scoring.

As peer-reviewed academic studies show, so-called media “fact-checkers” have a strong track record of partisan bias. Indeed, one very popular fact-checker, Politifact, rated Republicans as more deceptive than Democrats at a rate of about 3 to 1, with no rational justification explaining that discrepancy.

Even the most well-meaning effort to fact-check political statements is likely to be hamstrung by subjectivity. When researchers look at the way mainstream fact-checkers rated the exact same statements by politicians, they found very low agreement. It is difficult to explain that disagreement as due to anything other than the differing personal political opinions and biases of the fact-checkers.

5. Donald Trump received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. After three years of a relentless MSM he’s-a-racist barrage, a new poll has him at . . . 15%. Peter Kirsanow says this should have Democrats in a panic. From the Corner post:

It’s conceivable that the current 85 percent support for the Democratic candidate may increase once the Democrats settle on a nominee ( of course, it could also decrease). Nonetheless, Trump’s 15 percent support among black voters is astonishing given the relentless assertions by Democrats and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) over the last three years that Trump is a racist and white supremacist. Indeed, before the incessant accusations of racism began, Trump received 8 percent of the black vote, yet despite that barrage, his black support has nearly doubled. Most of the increase appears to come from black males, 32 percent of whom prefer him over any Democratic candidate. That’s a major opportunity for Trump, and a troubling prospect for Democrats.

6. The U.S.–China trade war is a slog, with another negotiation chapter occurring this week past. Progress might really happen, says Daniel Tenreiro, if the White House knew what it wanted. From the analysis:

It is unlikely that a deal will be reached at this stage. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Riley Walters, neither the Chinese nor the Americans feel sufficient pressure to make meaningful concessions. For the Chinese, removal of all American tariffs is a precondition for a deal, but the White House does not want to give up the leverage provided by tariffs until it can confirm that China is complying with the requirements of an agreement. The upshot: a continued standoff, with tariffs harming both economies.

At present, trade uncertainty has cost the U.S. up to 0.8 percent of GDP, according to Federal Reserve Board research. The good news is the American economy is resilient enough to continue growing despite tariffs. But with a gauge of American manufacturing health showing its lowest reading since 2009, the repercussions of the trade war are clear, the benefits less so.

At the outset of this trade dispute, administration officials argued that tariffs would impose short-term costs in exchange for the long-term benefits of a liberalized Chinese economy. Two years in, such an outcome appears increasingly fantastical. Instead, both sides eat the costs of tariffs and refuse to budge.

7. John Hirschauer looks at the big heap of political correctness on the Cancel Culture warpath over Atlanta Braves’ fans continued use of the “Tomahawk Chop.” From his piece:

The postseason provides the requisite pretext for an otherwise athletically illiterate pundit class to dip its toes into the world of professional baseball. So, naturally, the “tomahawk chop” chant has of late drawn the ire of those wont to have their ire drawn. Amid a growing swell of Twitter outrage, a reporter with the St. Louis Dispatch asked St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher and Cherokee Nation member Ryan Helsley what he thought of the chant. Helsley, who had just pitched against the Braves in the National League Division Series, said that he found the chant to be “a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general,” one that “depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual.” He lamented that Natives are “used as mascots” by the Braves and other teams.

While some in the press have since disseminated Helsley’s view as if it were representative of all Native peoples, among Native Americans themselves there has long been a diversity of opinion on the merits of Native iconography and mascots. Indeed, the lack of consensus among tribes and Native people on the issue continues to stymie the efforts of activists who want to eliminate all Native-themed mascots from the sports world. To take but one example of the frequently surprising results pollsters get when they ask self-identified Natives about the issue, a Wolvereye poll from earlier this year found that the adjective such respondents most commonly associated with the Washington Redskins’ team name —a brand far more fraught and controversial than that of the Braves — was “proud.”

8. Terf Wars: OK this a two-parter, because Madeleine Kearns saw and heard so much at a recent D.C. LGBTQ rally outside the Supreme Court that trying to cram her brilliant observations into one article would not suffice. From the first part:

Wandering through the crowds I then came across a group of four 18-year-old girls. They had just started as freshmen at American University and this was also their first rally. I asked what brought them out here today. To celebrate their queer and lesbian identities and to offer support to other LGBT people! Why all the labels? “Because it gives us a name to how we’re feeling,” one explained. None of them knew what the cases being heard at the Supreme Court were about, but they had a vague idea. They were about discriminating against LGBT people. Which they’re obviously against. How did they hear about the rally? “We found out about this event at our [college’s] center of diversity,” one explained. What’s that? “It’s a really good community for LGBTQ people and their allies.”

Like the first young man, I put the Martin Luther King idea to them. They considered it. “But it doesn’t hurt to respect someone else’s identity,” one said. I agreed but gave a handful of scenarios — real scenarios — in which overlooking a person’s biological sex has hurt people, mostly women and children.

“Well, I don’t know how much we can read into these kinds of one-off cases,” one said. I then walked them through some of the feminist arguments about redefining sex (which they had never heard before). “Are you talking about terfs?” [trans-exclusive radical feminists] “Because terfs are really problematic for a number of reasons,” one said. I gave an example of a “terf” I know, a lesbian who is not attracted to trans women because, though it’s considered impolite to say, trans women are men. Is it transphobic for her not to want to date a trans woman? “A woman with a penis?” At this, the girls became visibly uncomfortable. “Oh, we’re only 18,” one said. “We don’t know so much about the sex stuff. You’d need to ask someone older.”

And from Part Two:

Where did I leave you? Oh, yes. I was sitting on a wall, waiting for the cops to move, and two men had just finished telling me about the nasty “terfs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) who hold the bigoted view that women can’t have penises — “ever!”

After the cops gave us the greenlight, the LGBTQ protestors — accompanied by yours truly –charged down First Street. I never did learn how to count crowds in journalism school, but my guess, as I mentioned earlier, would be that the LGBTQ activists outnumbered the “terfs” & co at a ratio of around ten to one.

9. Maybe daddy and mommy didn’t hug you enough, but Kevin Williamson, bouncing off all the recent Joker psychobabbling, says the cause-hunting is easy; it’s confronting the existence of evil sans explanation that deserves some storytelling. From the essay:

The problem of evil has bedeviled Christian thinkers from the beginning. Men of faith and men struggling to keep their faith alike have found themselves paralyzed by the question: “How could it be that God, being both good and omnipotent, allows evil in the world?” Often this is asked in relation to some private tragedy: “Mr. Smith was a good man — why did he get cancer?” Denis Leary was covering the same moral territory in his standup act back in the Nineties: “John Lennon takes six bullets in the chest. Yoko Ono is standing right next to him, not one bullet! Explain that to me, God!” This is the adolescent form of moral theology, based on the presumption that God owes us an explanation, that we are entitled to have Him justify Himself to us. The existence of evil requires no more divine justification than the existence of anything else, but we keep trying, because we would rather believe almost anything, no matter how absurd — consider the intellectual careers of Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, or Michel Foucault — rather than face the terrifying facts of the case.

10. Kyle Smith thinks that Gemini Man cuts the cheesy. From the review:

Billy Lynn was a notorious catastrophe, yet Lee is giving it one more go with the Will Smith vehicle Gemini Man, a much more expensive film that has a third gimmick to go with the 3D and the high frame rate: Will Smith plays both a 51-year-old character and a 23-year-old version of the same. Watch Will fight himself! This is a pretty cheesy idea in itself but, together with the tech and the 1990s-style screenplay, it’s as if Cheddartown blew up and landed on Gorgonzolaville. The filming style makes all acting look bad and all action look contrived. It’s as if we’re watching a live Disney World stunt show; it’s impossible to get lost in the story because everything seems like it’s being staged right in front of you. The clarity of the images is a paradox: Because it strips away the veneer that makes illusions work, it plays as both hyper-real and hyper-fake. Even if Gemini Man weren’t clotted with dated tough-guy banter that’s strictly out of a Rainer Wolfcastle flick (“We need a missile and YOU are the missile” is the kind of thing the super-assassins tell each other), it would come across as a two-hour cringe of a movie. It’s baffling that Lee is doubling down after Billy Lynn was so soundly rejected, but after this movie flops, I expect the question of high-frame-rate filmmaking to be settled.

Smith’s character Henry Brogan is a hit man working for one of those secret spy agencies within the spy agencies. He is heading for retirement when he gets double-crossed by the spook (Clive Owen) in charge of the new Gemini project and is forced to go. On. The. Run. While a team of expert killers gives chase, in Georgia, Henry joins forces with a marina worker named Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is actually an undercover super-spy herself. Yes, this is one of those movies where a 93-pound woman lays waste to a series of expertly trained 200-pound men and yet we’re not supposed to laugh.

The fastest, sharpest killer on Henry’s trail is Junior, the 23-year-old Will Smith. Young Smith looks fantastic. Hollywood’s latest obsession is digitally de-aging older actors, and we all marveled at this effect when it appeared just three years ago in Captain America: Civil War, which de-aged Robert Downey Jr. Now the technology is all but finished, pretty much seamless. I’d hate to be starting out as a young actor today.

11. Martin Scorsese disses comic-book flicks . . . from America’s basements a million cries of outrage are heard . . . and Armond White reports on the cultural tides coming in and out. From the piece:

Scorsese has taken an essentially conservative position, and the backlash it has raised is analogous to fiscally conservative but culturally liberal variations in social policy.

It felt like betrayal to those Roger Ebert lemmings still worshipping Scorsese as America’s greatest filmmaker simply on the basis of his love of visual extravagance and violence. MCU worshippers are encouraged to enjoy action and violence for its fantasy, not the shocking realism of the bar fights in Mean Streets, the surreal gunplay in Who’s That Knocking?, Harvey Keitel’s aggressive masculine threat in Alice, the self-punishment in Raging Bull, or the sociopathy in Taxi Driver.

Scorsese was reacting against the degradation of cinema’s artistic purpose more than against Hollywood practice itself. That his personal gangster-movie franchise suggests little more than a mob-violence theme-park ride is ironic; the repetitions of Raging Bull, GoodFellas, Casino, and The Departed have contributed to the modern viewer’s reliance on overwrought, impotent machismo and a thirst for irresponsible vicarious thrills. In other words, comic-book movies.

When Scorsese said, “I don’t see them. I tried, you know,” his apologetic demurral indicates exhaustion with formula — not excitement with visionary voluptuousness as seen in the Zack Snyder films that belong to the mythological mode of Scorsese’s hero John Boorman.

12. Love Thy Neighbor, Low-Cal: Robert VerBruggen does his analytical stuff and sees that there is tension between diversity and trust. From the piece:

To prepare readers to be underwhelmed, the authors point out that only 5 to 10 percent of the variation in people’s trust levels stems from differences across contexts like neighborhoods, as opposed to differences among individuals within those contexts. In other words, it’s common for someone to be much less trusting than his neighbor, but comparatively rare for a whole neighborhood to be much less trusting than another one. Further, diversity levels are just one feature that differentiates one context from another, alongside more directly pertinent ones such as crime rates.

On average across all the studies, diversity accounts for . . . something like 0.7 percent of the variation, above and beyond what we can explain with other variables. I don’t think a finding that small should play much of a role in the immigration debate. But the paper also notes some interesting patterns within these results and suggests avenues for further research.

For one thing, the effect of diversity on trust is most apparent at lower levels of geography. Diverse neighborhoods see lower levels of trust much more reliably than diverse countries do. Presumably this is because the demographics of someone’s neighborhood affect his day-to-day life a lot more than the overall demographics of his country do.

For another, different types of trust have different relationships with diversity. Trust in neighbors is most clearly lower when diversity is high. Interestingly, trust in members of out-groups is least clearly affected, suggesting that the phenomenon here is not just about racist backlash to immigration, though some people may hesitate to admit to survey-takers that they distrust out-groups specifically.

There are other interesting complications to this research as well. Different ethnic groups often have different levels of trust, so if you control for the ethnicities of the people who answer a trust survey, you separate out two different effects. You might find, as Caplan summarized Putnam’s results, that “‘diverse’ communities have low trust, but the reason isn’t that diversity hurts trust; it’s that non-whites — especially blacks and Hispanics — have low trust.”

Another Edition of Your Favorite Magazine Is Out: You Will Find the October 28, 2019, Issue of NR . . . Energizing!

This is the annual issue in which we provide a special section on energy, and then there are a bunch of terrific articles and profiles elsewhere, so howzabout we share six links so you can have a real conservative hunker-down?

1. The cover essay is by Douglas Murray, and in it he looks at the Brexit knot and the constitutional problem facing England. From the essay:

For almost three years May tried to untie the knot. Her government initiated Article 50, the previously unused mechanism by which member states are supposed to be able to leave the EU. That set the Brexit clock ticking, for the departing country is meant to leave the EU two years after the Article 50 process is initiated.

As we survey the resulting problem it is worth remembering that all of this was done with the approval of Parliament. Now that the opposition parties are resisting efforts to leave, they and some segments of the governing Conservatives like to pretend that Parliament is representing the people against the government’s injudicious wishes. But this is to assume that the British public has no memory as well as no voice.

For all the major parties in the British Parliament voted to approve the holding of a referendum on the EU. Some—such as the Liberal Democrats—had made it party policy to hold such an in/out referendum before David Cameron’s Conservative party promised the same. Parliament also oversaw the initiating of the Article 50 process, a process that Cameron and other “remain” campaigners in the 2016 referendum had described many times and very plainly. If after two years the U.K. and the EU could not agree on the terms of the separation, then the U.K. would leave the EU without a deal. Which would mean, among other things, trading on World Trade Organization rules.

Yet sharp-eyed observers will have noticed that the two-year deadline came and went (in March) and then again (in June) after extensions were requested and granted. And so Britain remains in the European Union. And it was here that Prime Minister May came across the most intransigent portion of the national knot.

For Parliament had always been of a different view than the people. Though the public had voted by a majority to leave, around two-thirds of members of Parliament had been in favor of Britain’s remaining in the EU. And so as the deadlines came and went, MPs came up with ever more objections to the deadlines that were hurtling towards them. Most popular among them was their decision that “no deal” Brexit would be a disaster and that the public had “never voted for ‘no deal.’” And while it is true that the public had not been asked any such specifics in the simple in-or-out question, it had voted “out,” and the potential consequences of this had been explained. Yet a Parliament that wanted “in” attempted to persuade itself and the public that the Brexit knot was just too complex for any mortal to undo. Meaning—reluctantly or otherwise—that it really made much better sense to remain “in.”

2. Charlie Cooke visits Justice Neil Gorsuch in his SCOTUS chambers, where they talk Constitution, “originalism,” and much more. From the piece:

Of particular concern is the delegation of legislative power to the executive branch—a development that trades a “very public, very raucous process” in which “minority rights . . . play a special role” for “lawmaking by one person.” The U.S. Constitution, he explains, “put the legislative power in a branch full of all sorts of checks and balances within itself. Two houses, responsive to different electorates at different times, have to concur, and then get the president’s agreement, or override his veto. . . . Forget about the Senate rules! That alone puts minorities at the fulcrum of power. That’s what’s going to protect your rights at the end of the day: the vulnerable, the unpopular, the pariah.”

What happens if this system is bypassed? “You’ve bought yourself a king. Or maybe worse yet: What if the president can’t even control the executive-branch official? You’ve bought yourself an unelected king—an unresponsive-to-anybody king, who may be subject to capture, because, as you know, federal agencies can be captured by those they regulate. . . . What happens to the average person? They can’t capture the agency. So you wind up with an awful lot of law, and some of it protects interests that don’t need protection, and makes life particularly difficult for the people who can’t protect themselves on K Street.”

3. And then John McCormack grabs a beer and talks GOP turkey with Nebraska’s incumbent conservative senator, up for reelection in a conservative world amok-running. From the profile:

Why does Sasse, who has publicly mused about leaving the Republican party and who is so plainly conflicted about the Republican president, even want to serve another term in the Senate?

That question has been raised by many of his critics, but especially by those who say the Nebraska senator is a show horse, not a legislative workhorse. New York magazine columnist Josh Barro wrote that Sasse “ran for office as a ‘healthcare expert.’ Then, where was he during the health law debate? Even setting Trump aside, he seems to have no interest in all the non-commencement-speech aspects of the job.” During his first term, Sasse wrote two books, but he never put any sort of comprehensive alternative to Obamacare into legislation.

The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare was a collective failure of the Republican party—with leaders in Congress and the White House deserving an extra share of blame—and there’s no reason to think one Senate freshman could have changed the outcome. But Sasse, a former assistant secretary of health and human services, in the Bush administration, did indeed run for the Senate as a candidate uniquely qualified to go after Obamacare. NATIONAL REVIEW even put him on the cover, as “Obamacare’s Nebraska Nemesis.” In 2015, he introduced a bill to temporarily provide tax credits in the event the Supreme Court invalidated Obamacare, and earlier this year he introduced a bill expanding health-savings accounts, but he really wasn’t in the thick of the Obamacare-repeal debate in 2017. Why not?

4. Mario Loyola, in the special section’s lead piece, takes on the political threats to America’s shale-gas revolution. From the piece:

The new numbers beggared belief. Official estimates had put North Ameri ca in its last decades of recoverable oil and gas. Suddenly the U.S. and Canada each had 500 or 600 years or more of recoverable reserves. It was like discovering the huge Texas fields of a hundred years ago all over again. By the time Obama’s Clean Power Plan was released, the fracking boom was already on its way to creating a million jobs in U.S. manufacturing as a result of much cheaper electricity, a boon for which Obama promptly took credit. Last year, America surpassed every country in OPEC to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas.

In a comical irony, fracking may be reducing carbon emissions more than all the world’s climate policies put together. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. carbon emissions from energy production are down 11 percent from the historic peak of 2007, largely thanks to the displacement of coal by natural gas in electricity generation. By contrast, Europe’s draconian climate measures have reduced carbon emissions by only about 8 percent in that time, while in the Asia-Pacific region carbon emissions have jumped more than 40 percent.

But shale formations brimming with oil and gas can be found all over the world. So why did the fracking boom happen only in North America? The answer is simple: Canada and the United States are the only countries whose energy producers are private companies, and the only ones where subsurface minerals can be privately owned. So North American companies have an incentive to innovate that no government could have: competition.

By tapping into shale, fracking has unleashed a historic revolution. And American natural gas can reshape the world energy market—if we can transport it. Besides rapidly tilting the trade balance in America’s favor, exports of liquefied natural gas (or “LNG”) from the United States will make Europe and Asia less dependent on Russia and the Middle East for natural gas, increasing America’s global influence.

5. Mark Mills is shocked by America’s woeful electrical grid. From the analysis:

If America, say, tripled its wind and solar capacity, matching Germany’s share from those sources, we’d still be a long way from a hydrocarbon-free grid. Germany’s massive Energiewende policy hasn’t come close to achieving its stated goal of radically lowering carbon dioxide emissions, but the nation now has Europe’s highest electricity rates.

More relevant in our digital age are implications for reliability, as subsidies and mandates impose on grids more electricity from wind and solar, energy sources that are inherently “variable,” a term-of-art that the Department of Energy uses. “Variable” because, unlike conventional power plants, the output from wind and solar machines is dictated by the vicissitudes of nature. Obviously there’s the diurnal variability, but the greater challenge for reliability is that both wind and solar experience unpredictable episodic declines as well as wide seasonal swings.

Building a 100-megawatt solar or wind farm instead of a combustion-based 100-megawatt power plant has consequences. Conventional plants produce the same amount of electricity day or night, summer or winter, anytime required. A solar or wind machine varies from 100 megawatts under peak conditions to half that during the off-season and, with daily regularity, falls to zero.

6. Speaking of energy, the supercharged Kat Timpf takes a turn writing for the magazine, and it is a terrific account of comedian Dave Chappelle’s pushback against political correctness. From her piece:

The truth is, out in the Real World, humor that isn’t afraid to push boundaries has always been popular. South Park (a show that has joked about subjects ranging from Mohammed to the Virgin Mary to Caitlyn Jenner to the death of Trayvon Martin) was just renewed through a 26th season. At the end of September, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will begin its 14th season, even though the last one featured comedic episodes on topics that the Woke Warriors would certainly say you may not joke about, such as the transgender-bathroom debate and Me Too.

There’s empirical evidence suggesting that the people who support extreme levels of political correctness are the ones who are, as Martin put it in his review of Chappelle’s special, “out of touch with today”—not the other way around. A study released last year by the international research initiative More in Common, titled “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” found that 80 percent of the population believes “political correctness is a problem in our country,” including 61 percent of traditional liberals. Like a beautiful but mean high-school bully after losing the Student Council election, the PC Police have learned they are not as popular as they thought they were.

How, then, did they get so powerful? It’s simple: Cultural censorship through fear. The social-justice crowd has become the dominant voice on cultural affairs not because their views are actually the most popular, but because they are so good at silencing the others.

For many Americans, the prospect of being called “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” or otherwise “problematic” has become more terrifying than death itself. People are afraid of being “canceled”; the Thought Police know hat. They don’t have to worry about finding silly things such as “logic” or “facts” to prop up their positions—they have a much easier route: your fear.

We Three Books of National Review Are . . .

So before we get to the main course, let’s recommend three books — one out, two on the cusp of release — that no true conservative can be without.

Uno: Andy McCarthy’s best-selling Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency is an exceptional work of history and judgment, and since the colluding never seems to end, a must-read.

Due: Coming out on Election Day (that’s November 5) is Rich Lowry’s already-much-talked-about The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. It is impossible to resist serving you a whistle-wetting slice:

When abstracted from his combative rhetorical style and more idiosyncratic policy enthusiasms (e.g., taking Iraq’s oil), the rudiments of Trump’s nationalism should be hard to oppose, or would be in a more rational time than one we live in.

In his widely panned Inaugural Address, Trump said that “a nation exists to serve its citizens” and that “we are one nation,” sharing “one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.” What is the alternative to this vision, one wonders? Serving the citizens of other countries? The nation as a collection of tribal and other interest groups that doesn’t share a common destiny?

On foreign policy, Trump was considerably more grounded that his predecessors. In his 2005 Inaugural Address, George W. Bush, a champion of universal freedom, quite seriously promised to spread freedom everywhere around the world. In 2009, Barack Obama, in his more soaring moments a self-styled “citizen of the world,” predicted how “as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself,” and averred, “America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

Trump simply left it at, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

This, too, should be uncontroversial. Where, historically, many nationalists around the world have fallen down is not recognizing the right of other people to self-government. Trump has repeatedly made it clear that his nationalism is broadly applicable.

Hey: If you pre-order the book, go to this Google Docs thingy, input the requested info and proof of purchase, and the Sons of Warvan or some other galactic force will send you a real, honest-to-goodness Rich Lowry–signed bookplate that you can slap on that sucker!

Tre: Wait a moment . . . November 5 is also the official publication date of Richard Brookhiser’s new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea. Rats! There’s no slice to offer now, but next week we’ll rectify that by offering a slice and a scoop of ice cream. The delay should not keep you from pre-ordering a copy now.

By the way, here is what Kirkus Reviews has to say about Give Me Liberty: Brookhiser “grounds his spirited argument for American exceptionalism in the idea of liberty. . . . An engaging history of admirable episodes from America’s past.”

The Six

1. At Law & Liberty, our old pal David Frisk reviews Nicholas Buccola’s new book, The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America. From the review:

Nonetheless, the Buckley position would in fact have maintained more white domination of the South for longer. In the same year as the Cambridge debate, Louis Waldman, a prominent liberal labor attorney, published in the New York State Bar Journal an essay called “Civil Rights-Yes, Civil Disobedience-No,” a case against mass lawbreaking for higher moral purposes. Buckley’s skepticism of the civil rights movement went further than Waldman’s non-racial discussion, and further than arguments against the federal government’s constitutional authority to enact a sweeping civil rights law. The title of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s short book Why We Can’t Wait perfectly expressed his movement’s moral urgency. In stark contrast, Buckley can be said with little exaggeration to have held that African-Americans—although ultimate justice was, he conceded, on their side—must wait.

That position is indefensible in decent discourse today. But although it’s a true description of Buckley’s view as far as it goes, it is only a partial description, because he also believed and urged that the white South act in the interest of its large black minority, not merely its own. It must, he said, begin working toward fair treatment and full citizenship for African-Americans and must conscientiously persist in this. Its apparent self-interest should not stand in the way of that goal. Buckley’s total position was still a world apart from King’s “why we can’t wait,” which by 1965 had become the mainstream view, at least as publicly expressed, in American politics. As such, it is easy to mock or condemn. Yet it also had something in common with the militant Baldwin’s perspective: This is such a deep human problem, both said, and it’s ultimately about the heart and soul. It should also be noted, again, that the book ends in late 1965. Buckley certainly accepted the civil rights revolution that was completed, legally speaking, by the end of the decade. Buccola shows that in 1964, and again this probably isn’t well-known, he had sympathized with the segregationist Alabama governor Wallace’s candidacy in the Democratic presidential primaries. In 1968, Buckley publicly and privately denounced Wallace, then a third-party presidential candidate.

2. It’s troubling to entrust Turkey’s leadership with anything but spreading misery and brutality, and at Gatestone Institute, Burak Bekdil has some apt comparisons to Uncle Joe from Georgia (the other one). From the analysis:

More recently, on September 22, a Turkish man received a record-breaking prison sentence for insulting Erdoğan. Burhan Borak, a resident of the predominantly Kurdish province of Van in eastern Turkey, was sentenced to 12 years and 3 months in jail, for seven social media posts in 2014. The sentence was the severest punishment for cases of insult against the president, according to Borak’s lawyer. (Between 2010 and 2017, 12,893 cases of insulting the president were filed, according to Professor Yaman Akdeniz, an academic and cyber rights activist.) With that, Erdoğan holds the title of the world’s most insulted president — a title he could have lost to Stalin if the Soviet dictator were still alive.

Instead of Stalin’s gulags, Turkey has its courts. On September 20, a Turkish court held its first hearing of a case against two Bloomberg reporters accused of “trying to undermine Turkey’s economic stability.” The allegations against Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç are based on a 2018 story they wrote about how Turkish authorities and banks were responding to the biggest currency shock in the country since 2001.

“They’ve been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events,” said Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. “We are committed to them and to press freedom and hope that the judiciary will do right by acquitting them.”

Thirty-six other defendants, including prominent economist Mustafa Sönmez and journalist Sedef Kabaş, are also on trial for their social media comments on Turkey’s economy and banks.

The pro-Erdoğan media are full of joy over the trial. “This [Bloomberg’s report and social media accounts] is an economic coup [d’état],” wrote Ali Karaasanoğlu, a columnist for the Yeni Akit daily and a staunch supporter of Erdoğan. “You [addressing the defendants] are suspects of a serious crime of aiming to appreciate the U.S., British and EU currencies.”

3. Author Pew Ewert may be the guy who inspired brat Great Thunberg to hector us internationally on climate change. But writing at Acton Institute’s Transatlantic Blog, Ewert has some advice for the globe-hopping Swedish teen, who may be an in-the-making revolutionary. From his piece:

To be sure, climate and environment are important topics. However, their solution is not found in panic, but in well-conceived plans. In her speeches Greta has repeatedly, and apparently with growing frustration, declared that politicians do nothing, and that the causes behind the climate threats are found in the capitalist system. But both claims are untrue. Instead, the climate situation calls for skilled and bold entrepreneurs who can invent, and market, climate-benefitting tools for the twenty-first century. The solution lies in making such decisions that would make a real change, instead of sending general accusations against those who are making a positive impact.

Several people have called Greta Thunberg a modern prophet. Uncompromising as she may be in challenging authorities, she does not fill the role of an Old Testament prophet. She does not pretend to be the voice of God. On the contrary, her message reflects a hope for earthly salvation, whereby mankind can save itself from the evil forces behind the climate threat. This view has its deficiencies as well; the real culprit in this drama is not the market economy, but rather the ego-centred, short-sighted philosophy which appears all over the field of human activity: among individuals, politicians and yes, even radical youth movements.

Here is also where Greta’s message may turn downright dangerous. Her concluding words to the UN—“Change is coming, whether you like it or not”—ring uncomfortable historical bells. The same applies to her words which were highlighted on the UN building some days earlier, that it is no longer good enough for the politicians to do their best: “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.” Such revolutionary phrases have swept over the world before, rarely with good consequences.

4. At The College Fix, editor Jennifer Kabbany talks up Mary Eberstadt and her new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, which declares feminism has proven self-defeating. From the piece:

“When this all started out, feminism looked like a jubilant, bra-burning liberation movement, but as the decades have rolled on it’s become something very different, which is this masculine, snarling, angry entity — and again this swagger is just a form of looking tougher than one is in a world where the risks are higher,” Eberstadt said.

“I think we see this in the #MeToo movement, there is a lack of social knowledge about the opposite sex, and that is why students arriving on campuses are arriving primed to believe the most outrageous lies about the opposite sex, like all men are rapists, or like the kind of lies that all men embrace by watching pornographic narratives and having those be their source of information about the opposite sex,” she said. “So we have a lot of people in both sexes who don’t know the other side well at all.”

With that, today’s university administrators now act like parents and umpires, but the trend’s explanation runs deeper, she said.

“You throw out the Christian rule book and it turns out people will try to reconfigure relations between the sexes with some kind of rule book,” Eberstadt said. “So now we’ve got the consent rule book, these Draconian codes on campus, all meant to substitute for what the traditional family and the traditional religion did, which is to rein men in with rules.”

5. At The American Mind, Robin Burk worries about an American Collapse, and believes there is a “rethink” that will prevent it. From the essay:

Networks, and in particular adaptive networks, impact our lives today at every level from the local household to the increasing inability of transnational structures and agreements to provide stability and well-being to the citizenry of the West.

And not only of the West. Globally-oriented trade and other agreements have destroyed traditional communities and societies elsewhere as well. Radical Islamist terror networks and violent groups like Antifa are only two examples of the response such disruption triggers—and those networks are themselves enabled and empowered by modern technologies, financial networks, and other networked systems originally devised in the West.

If political thinking is to be effective in the face of the progressive Left’s collectivist juggernaut, it must address the centrality of complex adaptive networks in our lives today. Such networks have deeply disrupted the status quo economically, socially, and geopolitically. Anodyne talk of free markets (while corporations cozy up with regulators) and of the primacy of the individual (while ignoring the physical and virtual community contexts within which we all live as individuals) has deeply failed. The current populist wave that elected Donald Trump to the White House is one evidence of that.

But what can we say about complex adaptive networks? Political theorists are not, for the most part, prepared to delve into the mathematics of modern network science. Fortunately, they don’t need to be. What follows are a few insights that can already be gained from this new discipline. They present a challenge and opportunity for new political thought.

6. The Hotel California seems to be the model for the EU’s position on the UK and Brexiting. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce laments over the Euro Elites’ relentless hypocrisy. From the reflection:

How many times do the British people need to “check out” of the European Union before they are allowed to leave? When will the political establishment practice the democratic principles that it claims to advocate?

The answers to these questions appear to lie (in both senses of the word) in a surreal reliance on Orwellian doublethink and newspeak. Thus, for instance, the pro-EU lobby claims that Boris Johnson is betraying democracy and being undemocratic in trying to expedite the will of the people. At the same time, the pro-EU lobby supports the egregiously undemocratic shenanigans of the political establishments of both London and Brussels to thwart the people’s will. This is made manifest in the Machiavellian meddling of British politicians and the refusal of the draconian EU to accept any “deal,” however conciliatory. And then, when all deals are stonewalled by the Brussels monolith, Boris Johnson is condemned as an extremist for pursuing a “no deal” Brexit.

In similar Orwellian fashion, the popular will of the people is treated with contempt and condemned for being “populist.” Take, for instance, the contempt expressed by spokesmen for the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-EU of the UK’s mainstream parties, who argue that it was a mistake to have offered the British people a vote on whether they wished to remain in the European Union (clearly, according to the Liberal Democrats, the people should be made to stay in the EU whether they like it or not); or take the lament of David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, confessing that he had agonized about his role in allowing the referendum, regretting his decision and feeling that it was a mistake. What Mr. Cameron seems to have forgotten is that he and his party only offered a referendum because it was the only way that the Conservatives could steal back the necessary votes from those who had voted for UKIP, without which he and his party could not have won the election. It was, therefore, a cynical move on his part, made necessary by the realpolitik which is the only ethical principle that career politicians follow. It was presumed by Cameron and the Conservatives that the overwhelming one-sided pro-EU propaganda during the referendum campaign, peddled by the unholy alliance of mainstream media and mainstream politicians, would ensure that the British people would vote “politically correctly,” i.e. that they could be frightened and bullied into accepting the chains of their slavery in fear of something worse.

About That Mann Suit

For the legally curious, here is a timeline and list of SCOTUS filings, mainly amicus curiae briefs on behalf of NR’s petition asking the Court to take up the case. Have at it!

July 19, 2019: Petitioners Reply in Support of Certiorari

July 5, 2019: Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and the Individual Rights Foundation as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 5, 2019: Brief of Amici Curiae former United States Attorneys General Supporting Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 5, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Stephen McIntyre in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 3, 2019: Amicus Brief of the American Center for Law and Justice in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 3, 2019: Brief of 21 U.S. Senators as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

July 2, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Dr. Judith A. Curry in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June 20, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Judicial Watch in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June 20, 2019: Brief of Amicus Curiae Mark Steyn in Support of Petitioners in support of National Review’s cert petition.

June, 2019: Motion for Leave to File Brief of Amicus Curiae Southeastern Legal Foundation in Support of Petitioner in support of National Review’s cert petition.

May 21, 2019: National Review Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to rule on Mann v. National Review.


As the National Pastime’s 2019 playoffs progress, we’ll drop a timely name here: Ralph Branca. What an awfully nice man. Best known for giving up that famous home run to the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson in the 1951 National League playoffs, he also found himself the unlikely starting pitcher in baseball’s first-ever playoff game. That took place in 1946, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals ended the regular season tied for first place — the NL settled matters by extending the season to a best-of three additional games (so, technically, they are considered regular season games).

On October 1st at Sportsman Park, Branca — who had a mere 3–0 record coming into the game, with two of those wins September shut outs — faced off against Cardinals ace Howie Pollet, who that season led the NL in wins (21) and ERA (2.10). It wasn’t a good outing for the Dodgers’ righthander — he lasted 2 2/3 innings and took the loss. Two days later, the Dodgers, back in Brooklyn, lost 8–4 as the Cardinals took the pennant (the Birds would eventually win the World Series against the Red Sox).

No, the playoffs were not made for Ralph Branca. Back to that 1951 series against the Giants: Branca also started and lost the playoff’s first game, 3–1, with Thomson also tagging him for a two-run home run.

Ah well, Ralph Branca — Mr. Branca, as he was known — was a great guy. He worked with the Old Man selling insurance, and every once in a while would come over to the house and toss the baseball around with the kids on East 235th Street. What a thrill that was.

A Dios

Do check out Kevin Williamson lauding a governor’s call for a day of prayer and fasting.

ISI Fellow Wonder William Nardi hails from Central Massachusetts, in the neighborhood where Thomas Aquinas College — the doctrine-loyal institution that has been a happy enclave for over four decades in California — has now established an East Coast campus in nearby Northfield. He tells a great story about this expansion, occurring in the face of New England’s rising secularism. Read his account here.

Then pray for the success of our webathon. And after you pray, donate!

God Bless You and Yours, and Tiny Tim,

Jack Fowler, who wrote this article in the new issue of the magazine, will read your criticisms, which can be directed to

National Review

Vote for Lowry, Early and Often


Dear Weekend Joltarians,

Nearly three years back, Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru co-authored an NR essay, “For Love of Country: A Defense of Nationalism.” Did you read it? If not, you should — you’ll find it here. Consider it an appetizer to the very big main course coming out on November 5 — the official publication date of Rich’s forthcoming The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. It’s going to spark a huge round of debates within the conservative movement — debates that will engross and engage you — so be prepared.

You can do that by voting early and often for Rich’s book (after all, November 5 is Election Day!): Order The Case for Nationalism right now at Amazon, or, if you prefer, Barnes & Noble, or even that Books-a-Million joint. Of course you can wait until November 5 and drive to the local bookstore — but why not have it shipped to your home to start reading that day?

Speaking of “start reading,” Your Humble Correspondent is probably defying the publishers, but . . . a swiped passage from Rich’s introduction is included below for your enjoyment, and for you to get a small-but-excellent sample as to this book’s clarity and strength.

All that said, let us get on with the Weekend Jolt!

A Dozen and Then Some Marvels of Conservative Wisdom, with Attending Links Deserving of Your Clickage

1. Andy McCarthy asks the Mother of All Questions (this week, anyway): Do Republicans see the strategy to discredit the Barr Investigation? From the analysis:

Of course, the media-Democrat complex became apoplectic at any suggestion of impropriety in Mueller’s appointment. On pain of ostracism, its legitimacy was never to be questioned. Case closed.

Naturally, Trump’s opponents did not want to articulate the actual, nakedly political reason for their defense of Mueller — namely, that he was the best hope for bringing down Trump’s presidency. They thus couched their defense in legal terms. The special-counsel regs make clear that the Justice Department’s failure to adhere to them is not actionable. Consequently, as long as DOJ had a plausible basis to investigate some of their subjects — such as Paul Manafort, who had committed crimes unrelated to Russian “collusion,” and George Papadopoulos, who hadn’t “colluded” but had allegedly lied to investigators — the then–acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, undeniably had the power to bring a special counsel in from outside the Justice Department to conduct the investigation.

Regardless of how blatantly politicized the Mueller probe appeared to be, then, it was an official, legitimate federal investigation — one that was commissioned by the Justice Department, which lawfully resorted to the powers of the grand jury, and the obstruction of which (or lying to which) was actionable.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.

2. Well, if there was ever anyone whose employment history would prove especially entertaining and eye-opening, it would be Hunter Biden, and mamma mia does Jim Geraghty lay out the comprehensive details. From the beginning of the report:

Late Summer 2006: Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, purchase the hedge fund Paradigm Global Advisors. According to an unnamed executive quoted in Politico in August, James Biden declared to employees on his first day, “Don’t worry about investors. We’ve got people all around the world who want to invest in Joe Biden.” At this time, Joe Biden is months away from becoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and launching his second bid for president.

The unnamed executive who spoke to Politico charged that the purchase of the fund was designed to work around campaign-finance laws:

According to the executive, James Biden made it clear that he viewed the fund as a way to take money from rich foreigners who could not legally give money to his older brother or his campaign account. “We’ve got investors lined up in a line of 747s filled with cash ready to invest in this company,” the executive remembers James Biden saying.

Both James and Hunter Biden have denied to Politico that James had ever made these comments.

Related: And then Big Jim had a follow-up.

3. Ramesh Ponnuru takes on the conservative critics of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. From the beginning of the commentary:

During the debate over Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a 1998 law-review article she co-authored came under scrutiny. The Alliance for Justice, a left-wing group, used the article to suggest Barrett’s religious views made her a threat to the rule of law. Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously encapsulated the point by saying, “Dogma lives loudly within you.” Barrett was nevertheless confirmed in 2017. Ever since then, she has been discussed as a potential Supreme Court nominee.

And so the criticism has been revived — but this time it is taking a more extreme form, and is coming from the right. John Zmirak is, like Barrett, a Catholic. But he believes the law-review article demonstrates an understanding of church and state both false and dangerous. He argues that Barrett cannot be trusted to rule in line with the Constitution, might make decisions that instead follow the faddish dictates of a pope, and would render any ruling overturning Roe v. Wade illegitimate. He concludes that unless she renounces her “weirdly theocratic” views, she should not be nominated and senators should vote against her if she is nominated.

Zmirak has drawn several responses (here and here for example). As the respondents note, he ignores comments by her, including comments at her confirmation hearing, that contradict his argument. He ignores her record as an appeals-court judge, which includes none of the lawless imposition of papal views that he warns against. And the article is more than two decades old; she wrote it with a professor while she was a law student.

4. How the hell can we be congratulating these Commies for seven decades of massacre and depravities? John McCormack recounts who high-fived the ChiComs (Trump!) and who didn’t. From his report:

President Donald Trump marked the 70th anniversary of the “People’s Republic” with the following congratulatory tweet: “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!”

But Senate Republicans have marked the anniversary with condemnation of the regime.

Missouri senator Josh Hawley: “Seventy years ago, the Chinese Community Party seized power from the Chinese people. Since then, its ruthless rule has resulted in the deaths of millions of its own citizens.”

Arkansas senator Tom Cotton: “To see the price of the PRC’s anniversary celebration, look no further than what’s happening in Hong Kong: a ceaseless war against those who wish to live in freedom. From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”

Nebraska senator Ben Sasse: “Today Chinese tyrants celebrated 70 years of communist oppression with their typically brutal symbolism: by sending a police officer to shoot a pro-democracy protester at point-blank range. The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”

5. Rich Lowry sees that Russia has immersed itself into America’s political brain. This Ukraine thing . . . it’s really a Russia thing. From the new column:

There will be lots of comparisons to the 1990s as the House moves toward impeachment. Yet the vitriolic politics of the 1790s might be the more apt predicate. Back then, at the outset of the republic, each nascent political party was consumed with the idea that the other was a tool of a foreign power (either France or Britain), and believed that the other was a fundamental threat to American democracy.

Today, the Democrats still haven’t gotten beyond the idea that Trump is somehow a tool of Russia, while Republicans point to Democratic coordination with shadowy foreign forces to get the Russia investigation rolling. Books fly off the shelves about Trump being an alleged fascist, and Republicans are gripped by a Flight 93 mentality that fears if they lose a presidential election, they will never win another one again.

The Russia story contributed to and fed off this feverish atmosphere. For the longest time, it offered Democrats the hope of deliverance from a president whose election they never truly accepted. When Mueller didn’t have the goods, House Democrats were briefly at sea, until Trump’s call and the whistleblower complaint brought impeachment deliciously back into play.

Ukraine is more an epilogue of the Russian investigation than the beginning of a new book.

6. Brexit One: John O’Sullivan gives a brilliant report, woven with exceptional analysis, on the ongoing theatrics in Parliament and Boris’s infuriating the stilton-cheese-eating surrender monkeys. From his piece:

Not that everyone was restrained — or intended to be restrained. Former Tory prime minister John Major, an old Europhile, denounced Boris’s robust rhetoric in, er, extremely robust terms: “Words such as ‘saboteur,’ ‘traitor,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘surrender,’ ‘betrayal’ have no place in our party, our politics, nor in our society.” He also thought they were un-Conservative.

Of course, as now often happens in the age of the Internet and Google, anyone who strikes a noble pose of opposition to lies and obscenity is almost immediately presented with evidence of his own wicked words or bad behavior on tape or film. Major was soon reminded that he had described his former cabinet colleagues who defied him over the Maastricht treaty in the 1990s as “bastards.” Nor did it help that the Sunday Telegraph serialization of the final volume of Charles Moore’s Margaret Thatcher biography, just out, depicts him as scheming to replace her while affecting to support her. A particularly nice touch was that he signed Mrs. Thatcher’s nomination papers for the second leadership ballot on condition that they be given to her campaign team only if she decided not to run. They would then be useless except as evidence of his loyalty.

I would call that low cunning of a high order, but perhaps such words have no place in our elevated and sanitized political life.

The attacks on Boris Johnson’s rhetoric — in particular those that traced the murder of Jo Cox forward to his use of “surrender” and “sabotage” — were meant to make it impossible for the Tories to wage a vigorous and effective campaign against MPs who had promised to support Brexit but had since done all they could to obstruct and prevent it. (A secondary bonus is that Labour MPs will be positioned to blame the Tories if any physical attacks do occur.) Naturally, if you’re secretly aiming to obstruct something, you will loudly condemn the pejorative use of the word “obstruction” as offensive, dangerous, or inflammatory. The solution is to back off from deceptive obstruction, however, rather than to police language

7. Brexit Two: More from Johnny O and his ongoing analysis of the scene Over There, where Boris’s enemies may be just as stymied as he is. From the beginning of the piece:

After delivering a Tory conference speech that knocked off the nation’s socks yesterday and presenting a new U.K.–EU Brexit deal today that might conceivably be endorsed by Parliament, Boris Johnson should perhaps be enjoying a good press. But the message of most media commentary is that Boris is stymied yet again, or still, or maybe forever — the Prisoner of Downing Street kept confined by a slim majority of MPs united on nothing except their opposition to him, to Brexit, and to holding a new election.

So Paul Goodman’s epigram that Boris and the Tories can’t win an election without getting Brexit and they can’t get Brexit without winning an election remains the only significant truth as other events related to Brexit come and go. What is less noticed, however, is that Boris’s enemies in the anti-Brexit coalition (henceforth the ABC coalition) are equally stymied. They can’t win an election if they vote Brexit down and they can’t vote Brexit down without winning an election. That’s because most of the signs are that Boris would win an election in which Brexit was at issue.

Indeed, the longer-term prospects for the ABC coalition are even more discouraging. Even if they manage to halt or reverse Brexit, they would have to hold an election not long afterward, which Boris would be heavily favored to win. If elected, he could then simply cancel their cancellation and bring in whatever kind of Brexit he wanted. He would then have five years in power to make Brexit work.

In these circumstances, the interests of the ABC parties favor keeping Boris in power (i.e., by not passing a vote of no confidence in him) but tying his hands ever more securely so that he can do little or nothing to obtain either Brexit or the election he craves. Their device for doing so is the so-called Benn bill, which instructs the prime minister to request an extension of U.K. membership in the EU to next year, to avert the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

At least their interests did favor that. But in the past few weeks the ABC parties have thoroughly frightened themselves with a new Project Fear: They have convinced themselves that Boris might produce a rabbit from a hat that would finally get Brexit done — or, rather, two rabbits from a hat.

8. At her alma mater, Alexandra DeSanctis finds Notre Dame’s progressive ungrads intimidating fellow students because . . . they believe in their faith. Meanwhile, school administrators clam up. From the Corner post:

All is not well at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. A couple of weeks ago, anonymous students put up unauthorized posters on campus that read “There’s queer blood on homophobic hands,” suggesting that Notre Dame students, faculty, and alumni were responsible for violence. Here’s more on the signs from Notre Dame’s independent student newspaper the Irish Rover (for which I was once executive editor):

The sign contained many articles from the Irish Rover and the Observer which reflect Catholic doctrine regarding human sexuality, implying that the authors of these were responsible for the deaths of “queer” people nationwide.

Most shockingly, the sign’s message was painted in blood red, and the names of the articles’ writers were all circled in blood-red paint, drawing hostile attention to individual members of the Notre Dame community. Among the names circled in red paint were those of current students, faculty, and alumni of the University.

The signs were taken down by campus police, but that wasn’t the end of it. Next, a student letter to the editor appeared in The Observer student newspaper, bearing the same title as the sign. The poem listed student groups Young Americans for Freedom, [Students for] Child Oriented Policy, and the Irish Rover, along with Catholic alumni group the Sycamore Trust, as being responsible for “homophobic discourse.” Among several violent images, it included suggestions that those groups had “slit my loved ones’ throats” and “lobotomize[d] me with a crowbar.”

9. Daniel Lee considers the propaganda poster girls who over the decades have played the useful idiot for the Left. From the beginning of the piece:

As the world follows the activities of young environmentalist Greta Thunberg, it’s a good time to recall another young activist who was once at the center of the world’s attention — and to give a thought to the role of young people in matters of international concern.

Samantha Smith was a ten-year-old American who in 1982, at her mother’s suggestion, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov — a former KGB chief and agent who took part in the brutal takedown of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and, later, suppression of dissent in Russia — about her fear of nuclear war between the USSR and the U.S. “I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country,” she wrote.

Of course, Andropov wrote back quickly — and publicly — to let her know that the peace-loving people of the Soviet Union had no such intention. He invited her on a “fact-finding” mission to his country to prove it.

Smith’s trip fit neatly with the Nuclear Freeze and No First Use movements of the time — Andropov explicitly endorsed the latter in his response — and was covered exhaustively by an international press eager to make her the spokeschild of youth desperate to stop adults from destroying the world with nuclear weapons. Today, Greta Thunberg plays that role. She is the new spokeschild for young people who believe that they’re battling to save the earth from the cupidity of grownups.

Samantha was photographed everywhere in Russia: a sweet-faced girl in the regalia of the Soviet Young Pioneer. She smiled out at perhaps puzzled Russians from Soviet TV shows and posed in traditional Russian garb for the cover of the English-language publication Soviet Life.

10. Kevin Williamson reflects on gatekeepers, tribes, majorities, and minorities. From the essay:

Because of the increasingly sacramental character of the American presidency, it is not only American politicians who must endure the ordeal of the quadrennial cycle and the anguish of periodic sojourns in the wilderness. The United States has split into two tribes, and one of them must always feel itself to be subjugated and humiliated while the other’s chief occupies the highest office in the land. The American people are, in this age of politics as personal identity, always running for election, too. And it is not enough for them to win — they want to be popular, too, and to have their positions be popular. Hence the twin fictions on either side of the aisle that the other side really represents only a tiny minority whose voice and power is amplified through illegitimate means.

This is caught up in complicated ways with our national political superstitions. One of the deficiencies of American political culture is our national tendency to decoct moral absolutes out of what are really something closer to “best practices” for self-governing republics. “One man, one vote” is a practical measure, not a guarantee of decent or prudent decision-making, which is why so many important concerns (such as freedom of speech, the right to due process, the prohibition of slavery) have been put beyond the reach of mere plebiscite and the whimsies of transitory majorities. That situation is at the heart of the basic contradiction of American progressivism, which in practice consists of various political, business, and academic elites deputizing themselves to speak on behalf of the masses whose constituents generally do not exhibit especially progressive views on most things. For example, neither the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas (overturning sodomy laws) nor that in Engle v. Vitale (prohibiting mandatory school prayer) enjoyed the support of a majority of Americans at the time of those decisions. (Surprisingly, Brown did.) Progressives put a great deal of stock in Boumediene v. Bush, but two-thirds of the people were against them. Conservative populists are hobbled by a similar situation: They exhibit a shocking degree of arrogance in purporting to speak on behalf of “We the People,” as they like to put it, but only occasionally consult the people about what they actually believe. For example, right-wing populists are very fond of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United — and they are right to be; if the First Amendment means anything at all, it was the right decision — but We the People don’t think much of it. Only 17 percent of the public supported the decision at the time. A majority still opposes it.

11. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., released its report on the clerical sex-abuse scandal. Michael Brendan Dougherty has a thing or two to say about the report, and about the diocese’s late and former leader, Cardinal Edward Egan. From the conclusion:

Still, the rationale is odd. Egan’s own brother cardinals may care about the bottom line when considering appointments to the curia in Rome or to the real big chair in Rome. But Egan was never very well liked. And no American during his career could possibly expect to become pope. Ultimately, the property never belonged to Egan personally. If the number of offending priests was less than 1 in 20, if the worst of the worst were just ten in all, why tolerate them?

I can only speculate that Egan and his predecessors wanted to protect something even more dear to them than property. Perhaps their own secrets were embedded into a network of moral blackmail. The report is unsatisfying because the phenomenon of clergy sexual abuse and its tolerance by bishops can’t be treated separately from the larger moral culture of the clergy. It can’t be separated from other tolerated phenomena: alcoholism, sexual impropriety with parishioners and other priests, financial wrongdoing, a general “bachelor” culture of laxity and indulgence. It can’t be separated from pride, gossip, wrath, and envy. It can’t be separated from loneliness, boredom, and spiritual aridity. In the case of priests it can’t be separated from right belief and worship, either. The report says that Egan feared scandal and financial setbacks for the corporate body of which he was merely a manager. The report cannot say the other truth, that he plainly did not fear the judgment and wrath of God.

12. Kyle Smith finds Joker to be one of filmdom’s creepiest-ever stomach-turning performances. From the review:

More than any comic-book movie to date, Joker, directed with a fierce commitment by Todd Phillips, eschews entertainment and dares to repel a sizable proportion of the potential audience. With an awful foreboding, it drills into the psychic pain of Arthur Fleck — failed clown, failed standup comic, failed human. Joaquin Phoenix gives one of the creepiest performances ever put on film as Arthur, a product of the manifold breakdowns of 1970s New York City, here barely disguised as Gotham City. Phoenix’s rancid torment jangles the nerves and turns the stomach.

Set in a 1981 urban hell piled with garbage and overrun by rats, Joker channels the notorious misfits of the era, including fictional ones: Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley, Bernhard Goetz, Travis Bickle (whose actions inspired Hinckley, the failed assassin of President Reagan), and Rupert Pupkin (an entertainment-industry isotope of Bickle). The presence in Joker of Robert De Niro, as a talk-show host much like the one who obsessed Pupkin in The King of Comedy, signals that Phillips wishes to re-create a bleary vision of urban squalor that inspired a singular period of cinema, perhaps the bleakest and most potent one ever.

Though Phillips has previously specialized in comedies such as The Hangover, he has made the least funny of the DC or Marvel movies. Joker is brilliantly done, searingly filmed, and so drenched in its seamy milieu that you can practically feel the roaches skittering under your feet. The score by Iceland’s Hildur Guonadottir and production design by Mark Friedberg are spectacular. But a word of caution: Many viewers will find it more nauseating than enthralling. Women in particular are likely to find Phoenix and Phillips’s relentless nastiness too much to take. Although the Bruce Wayne family makes several appearances, there is none of the usual comic-book movie catharsis, none of the leavening jokiness of a Marvel movie, no roguish charm, no Joker delightedly sticking his head out the window of a truck like a golden retriever. Phoenix’s Joker is merely a greasy, mentally unbalanced loser of the kind best avoided on trains or a dark urban block, the kind that women in particular want nothing to do with, maybe not even in a movie.

RELATED: Armond White finds Joker to be “a sociopolitical mishmash.” Read the review here.

13. Armond is liking Pedro Almodoar’s Pain and Glory. A lot. From the review:

Salvador Mallo, a middle-aged Spanish filmmaker played by a sensitive, charmingly grizzled and gray-haired Antonio Banderas, is celebrated for his folk-punk audacity. The poster for Mallo’s best-known film, Sabor (Taste), boasts a strawberried tongue sticking out of lubricious lips like the Rolling Stones logo. Mallo is from the counterculture generation, yet he has risen to respectability. Note that in Chinatown, John Huston averred, “I’m old. Politicians, public buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.” Almodóvar taunts that truism with Mallo’s rebel tendency toward recreational drugs and lassitude whenever possible.

Not simply autobiographical, this portrait of personal indulgence points toward honesty, benevolence, and forgiveness — virtues missing in most counterculture egoists who look back on the indiscretions of their halcyon past as merit badges. Mallo remembers the people who graced his life and agitated it: old lovers, first desires, a sacrificial mother who becomes judgmental. He also confronts his own vain egotism. (The title must nod to John Boorman’s Hope and Glory. If so, then an Almodóvar version of Boorman’s follow-up, Queen and Country, will be exquisite.)

With Pain and Glory, Almodóvar has made a self-critical film in an era lacking self-awareness. No wonder some critics dismiss it as “soft.” They never understood Almodóvar’s bemused permissiveness. In 1987’s Law of Desire, it was buoyantly humane. In that film, Almodóvar’s perspective on a promiscuous gay filmmaker, his transsexual sibling, and a psychopathic lover made the ingenious mix of sex farce and thriller joyful, not merely shocking. In the era of “soft power,” Almodóvar’s humanity avoids pushing a political agenda. In Pain and Glory, compassion and forgiveness are more important than any radical progressivism for understanding Mallo.

14. David French finds Joe Biden’s gun-control plan to be a Constitutional disaster. From the piece:

Taken together, Biden’s bans on the sales of assault weapons and the magazines that come standard with millions of popular rifles and handguns would create the perverse result of placing law-abiding Americans at a distinct disadvantage in defending themselves from criminals. With hundreds of millions of magazines already in circulation, the foreseeable threat comes from a criminal armed with just such a magazine. That’s one reason why police officers carry equivalent weapons. It’s one reason why bans on standard-capacity magazines tend to contain exceptions for law-enforcement officers. But if police can protect themselves from common domestic threats, why can’t my family?

Biden wants to give existing assault-weapon owners a choice: Sell your weapon to the government or register it with the government. But we know registration is a failed policy, one that’s routinely met with massive public indifference. It’s estimated that as many as 1 million New Yorkers have defied the Empire State’s assault-weapon-registration law, and as many as 85 percent of Connecticut assault-weapon owners have flouted the Nutmeg State’s registration requirement. A California registration requirement has had compliance rates as low as 3.6 percent. If states are the laboratories of democracy, then registration is a lab experiment that’s failed.

Biden’s proposal also contains now-standard calls for universal background checks and his own hobby-horse, so-called smart guns that present enormous technological and practical challenges, including challenges that could hamper their use in self-defense, when innocent lives are on the line. And while I support properly drafted “red flag” laws, I have little confidence in the due-process protections that a Biden administration would endorse.

15. Victor Davis Hanson lays out five principles President Trump should follow in dealing with Iran. Here’s one from the piece:

Fourth, we should remember the fate of the last major U.S. intervention into the Middle East. When Saddam Hussein’s statue fell, 70 percent of America deified George W. Bush for apparently doing to the hated genocidal Baathists what he had just done to the murderous Taliban — destroying such monsters in a matter of weeks.

What followed, however, was not just years of unrest and spiraling costs in blood and treasure, but a strange attitude from many of those who had been the most pro-war, some dating back to the 1990s and the founding of the Project for the New American Century, which had called for a preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein during the Clinton administration.

Summed up best, the Iraq 2.0 take was “my brilliant victory, your screwed-up occupation” — best seen in the 2006 Vanity Fair article “Neo Culpa,” in which many of the architects of the preemptive war blamed the very administration they had once lobbied to go to war.

Critics of the “occupation” forgot that the U.S. Congress, in bipartisan fashion, had voted to authorize the war on 23 writs, few of them having anything to do with WMD, and that thousands of American soldiers were abroad at war while its promoters were blame-gaming one another at home. Nor did the critics see that an impending surge, undertaken against much of their advice, would eventually restore stability to Iraq.

I supported the war to remove Saddam Hussein and went to Iraq twice in 2006 and 2007 to write about U.S. deployments. And what was apparent was that those in the thick of it wanted support back home, not pronouncements from its promoters that all was lost and futile. Apparently, most of those who were fighting thought that the only thing worse than a bad war was losing it.

The idea that Trump is weak and blustering for not bombing Iran is nuts. He took a courageous step in canceling an asymmetrical Iran deal that guaranteed a bellicose enemy would receive billions in cash now and, later, a nuclear weapon. That he does not wish to abort such progress is a sign of strength, not timidity. A strapped Iran hates the sanctions far more than it would hate losing an air base or a refinery as the price of destroying the Trump presidency.

The Right That Dare Not Speak Its Name

This coming week, the Human Life Review bestows its Great Defender of Life award on Rich Lowry, who pens an excellent essay in the new issue of HLR on how critical lying is to the Roe-concocted right. From the piece:

The opposition lacks this clarity, even though abortion is at the heart of contemporary progressivism. Roe v. Wade is liberalism’s Great Writ. Nancy Pelosi considers the supposed right to abortion more sacrosanct than the First Amendment. She would never tamper with or restrict the former, whereas she has sought to amend the latter to permit more campaign-finance regulations.

The evasion of the pro-abortion advocates speaks to a fundamental weakness. The other side knows how difficult it is to say out loud that it considers abortion a positive good that should never be restricted in any circumstance, and that health or any other considerations have nothing to do with it. Consider the “historic” pro-abortion statement signed by nearly 200 CEOs that ran in a full-page ad in the New York Times in June. The CEOs defined abortion as “equality” (“Don’t Ban Equality,” declared the headline) and referred to it as “comprehensive reproductive care,” a term that has the advantage of sounding nothing like what it is describing.

The pro-abortion stylebook demands that abortion be called “health” or, more specifically, “reproductive health,” even though it is the opposite of reproduction and (for one party involved) the opposite of health.

The idea that abortion is necessary for the health of women is one of the most misleading pro-abortion clichés. Comprehensive data from Florida last year shows that three-quarters of abortions were elective, and another one-fifth were for social and economic reasons. A small percentage involve a threat to the mother’s life or health, and pro-life laws account for such cases—even the sweeping Alabama law has a health exception.

Hey New Yorkers!

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks that WJ spread some news — we are happy to do such. National Review Institute has some upcoming events at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in New York City, and the premier coming on Monday night (October 7), the first in a series on Virtue in America, and specifically, the virtue of hope. A bipartisan panel will consider the problem of looking to politics for things politics can’t give us. A great event is in store — come!

More information on all of NRI’s fall collaborations can be found here.

The Six

1. Gordon Chang takes to Gatestone Institute to discuss why telecom giant Huawei hopes to be a trojan horse that benefits the ChiComs. From the analysis:

A refusal to grant a third waiver to the Chinese company, the world’s largest telecom networking equipment manufacturer and second-largest smartphone maker, would be the right move for the United States. After all, why should President Trump allow our companies to help Beijing steal the world’s data and remotely control devices connected to the internet?

In May, the Commerce Department, effective the 16th of that month, added Huawei to its “Entity List.” The designation meant no American company, without prior approval from Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, could sell or license to Huawei products and technology covered by the U.S. Export Administration Regulations.

Beijing has continually demanded the withdrawal of the designation and has made such a climbdown one of its preconditions to a comprehensive trade deal with the U.S.

Since then, the Chinese have, in addition to threats, also tried to get off the Entity List with sugar. This month, in a conversation with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said he was “open to sharing our 5G technologies and techniques with U.S. companies, so that they can build up their own 5G industry.”

2. More Gatestone: Con Coughlin says Iranian bossman Hassan Rouhani’s antics at the UN General Assembly confab has exposed the futility of European diplomacy. From the piece:

The reality of the delusional approach adopted by Mr Macron and other European leaders was, though, brutally exposed the moment Mr Rouhani arrived in New York. Instead of showing any sign of seeking to repair Tehran’s strained relationship with the West and its allies, he instead indulged in an orgy of self-justification in which he sought to portray his country as an innocent victim of Western aggression rather than accepting, as is really the case, that Iran was the primary instigator of the latest escalation in tensions.

Not even the charm offensive applied by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose presence in New York was no doubt a welcome distraction from his domestic political woes, was able to make much impression on Mr Rouhani’s demeanour. Mr Johnson briefly raised a laugh from the Iranian leader when he suggested he make a return visit to Glasgow — a city Mr Rouhani knows well from the time he studied there in the 1990s — while remarking, “As you know, Glasgow is lovely in November” — a reference to the city’s notoriously cold and wet climate at that time of year.

The atmospherics — to use the diplomatic jargon — might have appeared promising during Mr Johnson’s one-to-one with the Iranian leader, but reality soon set in the moment Mr Rouhani took to the UN podium and embarked upon an extraordinary exercise in self-justification, one in which the US and its allies were the villains and Iran was portrayed as a nation wronged.

The prime target of his attack was, unsurprisingly, the US, which he accused of engaging in “merciless economic terrorism” following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and impose a new round of economic sanctions against Tehran.

3. At Issues & Insights, Tom McArdle argues that the push to release transcripts of presidential communications will cripple every future POTUS. From the piece:

So as Schiff and House Democrats push hard to discover and disclose something more convincing than the Zelensky nothingburger, Trump has the defense of executive privilege within a landmark, unanimous Supreme Court ruling on his side.

And he has something more: a solemn responsibility to preserve for future presidents the ability to conduct candid discussions with foreign allies, friends — even enemies. A president must be able to engage in “persuasion, badgering, flattery, threats, reminders of past favors and future advantages,” as the Washington Post’s Mary McGrory described Lyndon Johnson’s no-holds-barred style of leadership even before becoming president. And it can’t work when it’s in the public eye.

Imagine not being free to discuss coordinating the fight against terrorism, or the details of classified intelligence, with other free countries. Or a president being unable to pick up the phone and personally warn a hostile power of the consequences of its actions against the U.S. or our allies. Trump or any other president allowing Congress to fish around in classified White House computer systems would be a direct threat to future presidents’ ability to use the office to protect the country.

4. At City Journal, Robert Henderson warns about the backlash of “Cancel Culture.” From the piece:

Cancel culture allows people to identify who is loyal to their movement. Highlighting the supposed wrongdoings of others forces people to respond. Targets of cancel culture usually commit acts suddenly deemed out of fashion. This is perfect for social coordination because it creates disagreement about whether the person should be exiled. If everyone agreed that the target should be denigrated, then there’s no way to identify friend from foe. But if some agree while others disagree, committed group members can be distinguished from adversaries. Those who ask for evidence of the alleged wrongdoing, question the severity of the transgression, or debate the propriety of cancel culture risk revealing themselves as unfaithful to the cause. Rallying around a morally ambiguous transgression and seeing how people react permits recruitment of assenters and targeting of dissenters.

Cancel culture is thus likely here to stay. The social rewards are immediate and gratifying and the dangers too distant and abstract. “You could be next” does not register for most people because it’s just a set of words. But the social rewards of status and in-group camaraderie instantly resonate. The desire for instant social rewards over distant and uncertain disaster is not a quirk of any particular group—it’s common to all of us.

The term “cancel culture” may be new, then, but the human impulses propelling it are old. When you see groups target an individual for exile, you’re witnessing a foundational ritual. Without understanding such atavistic impulses, we are more, not less, likely to enact them without consideration.

5. At First Things, Thomas Guarino looks at the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2002 “Dallas Charter” plan to address sexual abuse by clergy et al. He sees a dark side. From the essay:

A significant problem attending the zero-tolerance policy is that most accused priests have not actually been found “guilty” of abuse—even though that is the word usually invoked. Most often, a priest is found only to have had a “credible accusation” lodged against him. But “credibility” has no clear and distinct definition. It has come to mean “not impossible” or “could have conceivably occurred.” A “credible accusation” offers nothing like the firm standard of clear and convincing evidence, or even preponderance of evidence, which is expected for a guilty verdict in civil society. Priests are declared unfit for ministry on the basis of standards that trade in dangerous generalities.

Under the Dallas Charter, a credible accusation must also be “substantiated.” But by whom? Not by a court, but by a committee, whose members’ identities and professional credentials are often unknown to the priests who are being surreptitiously judged. Who are these faceless judges? Are they, like diocesan lawyers and PR flacks, simply concerned with protecting the reputation of the bishop as “tough on abuse”? And precisely what evidence “counts” in determining that an accusation has been “substantiated”? The vagueness and ambiguity surrounding the entire process ensures that priests do not enjoy justice. And all this occurs in a country that insists an accused person has the right to come face-to-face with both his accuser and his judges. And in a Church in which bishops trumpet their commitment to “transparency.”

Local prosecutors have declined most accusations against priests because they fall well outside the statute of limitations. Such statutes, of course, date back to the ancient world; they were instituted precisely because memories become clouded with time. But on the basis of a single accusation from thirty or forty years ago, priests are suspended from ministry with their reputations destroyed and their lives in tatters. They must forever wear the scarlet letter of abuse pinned to their garb. Do bishops realize that such actions veer closely toward rash judgment, calumny, and slander, all condemned by the eighth commandment? Is it any surprise that we are now treated to the spectacle of priests suing their own dioceses for libel in civil court?

6. At Quillette, Coleman Hughes makes the case for Black Optimism. From the analysis:

Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. From 2001 to 2017, the incarceration rate for black men declined by 34 percent. Even this statistic, however, understates progress by lumping black Americans of all ages together. When you look at age-specific incarceration outcomes, you find two opposing trends: Older black Americans are doing slightly worse than previous generations, but younger black Americans are doing better—so much better that they more than offset, in statistical terms, the backslide of their elders. To put the speed and size of the trend in perspective, between my first day of Kindergarten in 2001 and my first legal drink in 2017, the incarceration rate for black men aged 25–29, 20–24, and 18–19 declined, respectively, by 56 percent, 60 percent, and 72 percent. For young black women, the story is similar: a 59 percent drop for those aged 25–29, a 43 percent drop for those aged 20–24, and a 69 percent drop for those aged 18–19.

As a result of the divergent generational trendlines, the black prison population is not only shrinking; it’s aging too. In 2017, nearly three in ten black male prisoners were 45 years of age or older, up from one in ten in 2001. That may not seem like good news, but it is. The incarceration trendline for young blacks in the recent past predicts the trendline for all blacks in the near future. So the fact that the post-2001 incarceration decline for blacks in general was entirely caused by the plunging incarceration rate for young blacks in particular suggests that, as generational turnover occurs, the black prison population will not only continue to shrink, but will shrink at an accelerating rate. To paraphrase the economist Rick Nevin, our prison system may be overflowing today, but the “pipeline” to prison is already starting to run dry.

BONUS: At The College Fix, our old pal Jennifer Kabbany reveals the results of a new poll which shows a dearth of America Pride amongst Democratic college students. From the beginning of the analysis:

The vast majority of Republican college students compared to a small number of Democratic college students say they are very proud to be an American, according to the results of a new College Fix survey.

The poll asked 1,000 college students: How proud are you to be an American: very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud, or not at all proud?

The vast majority (74%) of Republican college students, compared to a small number of Democratic college students (8%), and less than one-third of independents (30%), said they are very proud to be an American.

On the flip side, 2 percent of Republican college students, compared to 22 percent of Democratic college students, and 11 percent of independents, say they are not at all proud to be an American.

The Swiped Lowry Passage, Titled “Civic Nationalism Is an Illusion”

Thus spakes our Esteemed Leader in The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free:

Another distinction that anti-nationalists sometimes make is between civic nationalism, which they consider roughly another term for patriotism, and ethnic nationalism. The liberal writer Michael Ignatieff calls the civic nation “a community of equal, rights-bearing citizens, united in patriotic attachment to a shared set of political practices and values.” Ethnic nationalism, in contrast, entails “that an individual’s deepest attachments are inherited, not chosen,” and “it is the national community that defines the individual, not the individuals who define the national community.”

It is certainly true that different forms of nationalism can be more or less inclusive and democratic. But no nation has ever been entirely civic in this sense.

Not France, which is often cited as a leading example of civic nationalism. It undertook an intensive, far-reaching campaign to wipe out distinctive regional cultures and dialects to forge the common national culture that is the basis of its civic nationalism. In 1863, about a quarter of the population spoke no French. As one French observer put it, “France is a deliberate political construction for whose creation the central power has never ceased to fight.”

And certainly not the United States. Our cultural nation was extremely important at the outset, and remains so today. At the time of the Revolution, the colonists were eighty percent British and almost entirely Protestant. As John Jay wrote in Federalist 2, “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.”

The fact is that culture is seeded with ideas. Would America be the same if it spoke Russian, the language of a country that has never effectively supported property rights, the rule of law, or limited government, rather than English? Would our political culture as we know it have emerged if practically every home in America a couple two hundred years ago had a Koran on the bedstand rather than a King James Bible? Of course, not.

At the beginning, this was a country not necessarily for Englishmen, but by Englishmen, including their notions of liberty that defined the American experience from the outset. Tocqueville famously wrote that America was the Englishman left alone. If the Eastern seaboard had been settled by Spaniards, you could have “left them alone” for a very long time and marinated them in all the Enlightenment philosophers, and they still never would have come up with the American Founding.

Even today, when America largely fulfills the standard of a civic nation, it still has a cultural basis. The English language remains a pillar of our national identity (language is often considered a foundation of exclusive ethnic nationalist states). Our rituals and holidays reflect the dominant culture. Christmas is a national holiday; Yom Kippur is not. And they reflect our national identity. Independence Day is a holiday; Cinco de Mayo is not.

Our national heroes, our ancestors, are afforded a prized place of honor in our collective life. The ascension of George Washington to a quasi-sacred status in our country began almost immediately. Today, he’s still visible in a fresco inside the U.S. Capitol dome, dressed in purple, and surrounded by the gods of mythology. (Upon the centennial of Washington’s birth in 1832, the statesman Edward Everett was part of a movement to disinter him from Mount Vernon and bury him at the center of the Capitol: “The sacred remains are…a treasure beyond all price, but it is a treasure of which every part of this blood-cemented Union has a right to claim its share.”)

We bear the stamp of our national character wherever we go. “The Americanism of American culture,” Azar Gat writes, “is deeply felt around the world, regarded either with approval or disapproval, and Americans become very conscious of it whenever they encounter the outside world. This common American culture far transcends the political-civic culture that many theorists have posited, naively, as the exclusive binding element of the American nation.”

The devotees of the idea of civic nationalism, at the extreme, make it sound as if a country is a voluntary association of individuals who have decided to live together under a certain set of political institutions and ideas. This is a fantasy. Nations are thicker than that. They are homelands that are felt as such by the people who live there and are connected by a web of associations and memories.

If political institutions were all that mattered, Americans would be just as comfortable living in any major English-speaking country. Canada or Australia don’t have our Constitution, but they are liberal societies with ample protections for the freedom of the individual. Yet, after every election, when famous people on both sides of the political divide threaten to move to Canada if the result goes the wrong way, no one actually moves.

The French intellectual Ernest Renan gave expression to the voluntarist idea of the nation in his oft-quoted 1882 lecture: “A nation’s existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual’s existence is a perpetual affirmation of life.” But Renan also cited the importance of “a rich legacy of memories,” and thought that “the nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion.” Just so.


Oddities enthrall us, such as — the 1936 All-Star Game, played at Braves Field in Boston. The National League won, 4–3. What amuses is that the starting third basemen for both squads were Philadelphia Pinkys (or is it Pinkies?). The Senior Circuit’s hot-corner man was Pinky Whitney, in what would be his sole All-Star appearance in a dozen years playing for the Phillies and the Braves (in six of those seasons, his team lost 100 or more games). He was one of the game’s great fielders, and pretty good with the bat: In four seasons he knocked in over 100 runs. For the Junior Circuit, the starting third baseman was the Athletics’ Pinky Higgins, who was playing in the second of his career’s three All-Star appearances. Higgins was best known for two feats: One was that he tied a record with twelve consecutive hits in 1938 (actually, 12 hits in 2 at bats — there were two walks in the mix), when he was then playing for the Red Sox. The other was a little more ignominious: The Red Sox, under his managerial leadership in the 1950s, were the last baseball team to have a black man on its roster — an outcome that seemed intentional and was covered with Higgins’ fingerprints.

In other Pinky news, Pinky Whitney found himself on the Boston Braves’ roster in 1933 playing with Pinky Hargrave. And back with the Phillies in 1939, Whitney’s teammate was fellow third baseman and future “Pepper Pot” all-star Pinky May.

Next week, we’ll talk about Rollie Fingers and Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown!

A Dios

Let us remember the scores of millions of Chinese who died — by starvation, deprivation, the bullet, the torture chamber, the abortionist’s scalpel — or were broken (or pilfered, their very organs cut out of them!) at the hands of Chairman Mao and his followers and their insane programs and plots — the Great Leaps Forward and Cultural Revolutions and A Hundred Flowers Blooming insanity — that are the curse of our times, and yet unremarked or even excused by so many who know so much better. Rest in Peace!

May God Have Mercy on Their Souls and on Ours,

Jack Fowler, who can be sent but-you-don’t-understand spins at

National Review

I Wanna Easter Egg!


Dear Weekend Jolter,

From the deep recesses of the cartoon archives inside this fevered brain is located that famous Bugs Bunny story of the insufferable toddler who wanted an Easter egg. It’s recalled courtesy of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, a modern-day Stinky who — with the aid of family members and various human prop-makers — has emerged as the new prototype for a brat. Surely she’s the girl who, if they could get another chance at being 16, Hillary and Elizabeth and Alyssa Milano would emulate.

Our Fearless Leader, Mr. Lowry, urges readers to pay no heed to the bopper’s beratings. From his column:

Kids are powerful pawns. The catchphrase “for the children” has a seductive political appeal, while kids offer their adult supporters a handy two-step. The same people who say, “The world must heed this 16-year-old girl” will turn around and say to anyone who pushes back, “How dare you criticize a 16-year-old girl?” (I can feel the tweets filling up my mentions right now.)

There’s a reason that we don’t look to teenagers for guidance on fraught issues of public policy. With very rare exceptions — think, say, the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who was a child prodigy — kids have nothing interesting to say to us. They just repeat back what they’ve been told by adults, with less nuance and maturity.

Much of the climate advocacy of young people boils down to the plaint that all parents know well: “I want it, and I want it now.” As one headline on a National Geographic story put it, “Kids’ world climate strikes demand that warming stop, fast.”

Behind the foot-stomping is the idea that a long-running global phenomenon could be quickly stopped, if only adults cared as much as the kids did. This fails to account for such recalcitrant factors as costs and complexity, but when do children ever think of those? (And who can blame them? They’re children.)

Instead, the youthful climate activists claim they’ve been sold out by their elders. Greta Thunberg put it with her usual accusatory starkness at the U.N.: “You are failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”

And then Kyle Smith, who is awfully good at these things, finds the Swedish high-schooler to be a cross between Lisa Simpson and . . . Bane. Wow. From his piece:

At any given moment tens of millions of teens are throwing tens of millions of tantrums about tens of millions of things — I want the iPhone 11XC3PO! I want a hot-pink Mustang! — yet the one CNN deems worthy of being taken seriously is the one who says, “I want to restructure the world economy, and I want it done yesterday, you jerks!”

Thunberg — think Lisa Simpson crossed with Bane — told the United Nations, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” Nah. On the contrary, Thunberg’s life has coincided with what are almost certainly the 16 best years in the entire history of humanity. If she wants to talk hard times, wait till she hears about my childhood, when grown-ups thought it was perfectly fine to move millions of machines around that spewed lead into their kids’ lungs. And mine of course, was the luckiest of all generations to that point.

Thunberg sailed to the U.S. on her famously eco-friendly yacht Publicity Stunt, which we later learned required two Europeans to fly over here to retrieve it. In the gonzo math of climate change, two flights plus a water crossing produce fewer moral emissions than one flight. The Thunbergians declared she would make up for this by buying climate credits, which is also what Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio say when they’re getting on a Gulfstream to fly to their next conference. If she just wanted to deliver a speech, though, why didn’t she spend the time it takes to cross the Atlantic planting trees instead and then speak unto us all from her bedroom? Maybe because “teen uploads YouTube video” is a stretch for even CNN to label BREAKING.

(Question never to ask: Hey Kyle, who am I a cross-between of?) Moving along, quickly now because we have so much awaiting, send the author of this missive your favorite nagging / scolding / haranguing scene from a movie and it will be featured in the next edition of WJ. Which this week just so happens to be brought to you by . . .

The National Review 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise!

Cabins are going like hot cakes. As in best-selling hot cakes . . . sold at the Hot Cake Convention. You need to be there, so visit for complete information.


1. We argue that the president’s pressing of Ukrainian officials to investigate sweetheart deals by Hunter Biden is wrong. From the editorial:

Most Trump news cycles pass faster than a summer storm, but this one will last a while.

After initially denying it, the president has conceded that he encouraged Ukraine’s president to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate running against his reelection.

To have done so was wrong, plain and simple. American political campaigns should be American affairs. Yet a presidential act can be wrong, even blatantly wrong, without justifying impeachment. Democrats in the grip of an anti-Trump fever currently are ignoring that distinction.

Of course there ought to be scrutiny of Vice President Biden’s actions. On a level media playing field, that would long ago have been on the front burner. It is one thing for politicians to apply different standards to scandals depending on which party they affect. The supposedly neutral press should ask itself how it would be reacting if Trump had squeezed a foreign government by threatening to withhold public funds unless a prosecutor investigating a company tied to one of his sons were fired — regardless of the merits.

There Are a Mere 39 Days . . .

. . . until the formal publication of Rich Lowry’s new book, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. Why might you want to order a copy, pre-publication? Because it is a terrific work. Not interested in taking my word? How about the word of Tom Cotton? The Senator from Arkansas has this to say about the book:

America is an idea, but it’s not only an idea: America is also a nation with flesh-and-blood people, particular lands with real borders, and its own history and culture. Rich Lowry’s learned and brisk The Case for Nationalism defends these unfashionable truths against transnational assault from both the left and the right while reminding us that nationalist sentiments are essential to self-government.”

You can order the book from Amazon, right here, and expect its delivery on pub day (which will be November 5).

Ripe and Juicy, We’ve Plucked 14 Red Delicious Apples from the National Review Orchards. Enjoy!

1. Professor Victor Davis Hanson knows something about lectures, and he’s not a fan of privileged scolding coming from the likes of Warren, Beto, and their fellow Democratic presidential wannabes. From his essay:

Socialist Bernie Sanders is now a newly minted multimillionaire. He owns three homes. His wife, a former president of a small college left her campus in such financial shambles that the FBI was called in to investigate how it was that she had done so well while her college was forced to shut down owing to the insurmountable financial difficulties that had accumulated under Mrs. Sanders’s leadership. (The FBI declined to recommend charges.) Sanders flies in private jets around the country to campaign stops, preaching the virtues of socialism, the need to significantly raise taxes on both the income and the existing wealth of the affluent, and the sins of burning so much carbon. One wonders whether he stayed in a Crimean seaside dacha on his honeymoon to the Soviet Union.

Joe Biden has a long-checkered history of plagiarism, intellectual theft, allowing his offices to be leveraged by his family to profit, and occasional bizarre racialist outbursts, ranging from idiotic discourses on African-American dialects and hygiene to the ubiquitous and growing non-white customer base of Delaware doughnut shops. So naturally Biden now runs for president on the themes that we are a racist nation, that integrity such as his own is needed in the Oval Office, and that greedy wannabe-rich people like his brother or son need to be called to account. In between boasts that he’d beat Trump like a drum or that he’d like to take Trump behind the proverbial gym for a whipping, Joe lectures Americans on the loss of civility and bipartisan respect.

2. More VDH: He predicts the efforts to impeach the president will likely strengthen his political chances. From his Corner post:

The VP emeritus had the temerity, in Biden signature mock-heroic style, to boast of his intervention — he was impressing a foreign-policy symposium with his seasoned clout. “Well, son a b****, he got fired,” he bragged, prompting laughter from symposium attendees. Note that he was also emphasizing his own absolute exemption from any legal repercussions for such a blatant and explicit quid pro quo gambit.

Not just Trump supporters but the public is baffled by the apparent asymmetry in the application of the law, or at least the intention to apply the law. The Biden-Obama experience between 2009 and 2017 apparently had set a de facto precedent of what does and what does not constitute collusion.

It is apparently not improper for the president of the United States, caught in a hot-mic exchange with the Russian president, to offer a quid pro quo deal in which the United States suggests it will pull back from missile-defense agendas in exchange for good Russian behavior designed to help the president and hurt his opponent in the forthcoming reelection. And such a deal, from what we can tell, was then more or less carried out, as subsequent events suggest.

3. Andy McCarthy provides the knowledgeable guide to the Whistleblower Frenzy. From his analysis:

In conducting foreign affairs, the president may make commitments to other foreign leaders (subject to the Constitution’s treaty clause). The president, unlike his subordinates, also has the power to disclose any classified information he chooses to disclose. Like all presidential powers, these may be abused or exercised rashly. When there is a credible allegation that they have been, that should cause all of us urgent concern.

To take one example, President Obama misled Congress and the nation regarding the concessions he made to Iran in connection with the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The Obama administration, moreover, structured the arrangement so that commitments to Iran were withheld from Congress — as if what were at stake were understandings strictly between Tehran and the U.N.’s monitor (the International Atomic Energy Agency), somehow of no concern to the United States. Representative Schiff’s skepticism about Iran became muted when a Democratic president cut the deal. Yet these cloak-and-dagger arrangements with a jihadist regime that proclaims itself America’s mortal enemy, in which a U.S. president willfully end-ran the Constitution’s treaty provisions and congressional oversight, were and remain urgent concerns for millions of Americans and most members of Congress.

So how should we evaluate the current controversy?

4. Robert VerBruggen slams Harvard’s admissions program and its “legacy” preferences as a disgrace. From the piece:

The lawsuit against Harvard claiming it discriminates against Asian applicants may or may not succeed. But even if it fails, it has done the great public service of revealing how the school’s admissions process works behind the scenes.

The school was forced to turn its admissions data over to an expert witness for the plaintiffs: Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono, who analyzed the data and found that Asian applicants are far less likely to be admitted than white applicants with the same academic credentials. And now, using numbers the suit has made publicly available, Arcidiacono and two co-authors have written a disturbing report laying out how legacy, athlete, and similar preferences warp the Harvard admissions process. Much like race-based affirmative action, these policies admit hundreds of students each year who would not be accepted on the basis of their academic records. And each of Harvard’s preferences twists the school’s racial balance in a different way.

The report is a compelling illustration of how a prestigious, progressive institution departs from meritocracy to reward the wealthy and connected. There may be little the government can do about non-racial preferences, considering Harvard is a private school and there’s no law against these forms of discrimination. But healthy doses of public shame are warranted, especially given how strongly Harvard and similar Ivy League schools control the pipeline into the top echelons of American society.

5. John-Paul Pagano whales on the persistence of the anti-Semitic “blood libel.” From the article:

Despite its lethality, anti-Semitism is the form of racism most often erased, excused, and even encouraged by people who identify as “antiracist.” One explanation for this phenomenon, increasingly dangerous as harassment, vandalism, and violence against Jews rise across the West, is the failure of Holocaust education to emphasize the importance of conspiracism in Nazi ideology. For their part, soi-disant American antiracists render Jews “white” and “privileged” through a limited lens of race and power, taking an approach that is an allotrope of anti-Semitism and disqualifies Jews from concern.

So when U.S. representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar resolved to visit Israel in August to showcase to the world its peculiar evil, and it emerged that Miftah, the Palestinian non-governmental organization co-sponsoring their trip, had published on its website that Jews bake Christian blood into their matzoh, most major media ignored it. For them the story was the erosion of liberal democracy by the tag team of Trump and Netanyahu, who had barred entry to the congresswomen. There is little indication that the blood libel stirred concern on the left where just a month earlier “Never again” was intoned relentlessly about Trump’s “concentration camps” at the border.

6. Arthur Herman is adamant that America prevail in its battle with China for 5G supremacy. From his piece:

But if China becomes the 5G hegemon of the 21st century, America will be increasingly relegated to the past, rather than the future, of advanced technologies.

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board released a report