Look below, as you dive the depths of this week’s missive, and in between the astute observations about how one Dr. A. Fauci has exhausted us, and the wise analyses of how the rank and file (not just the Squad members) of the Democratic Party are yearning to bust open the Supreme Court, look for Mr. M.B. Dougherty’s reflections on “white supremacy” and its comprehensive blameworthiness, and other pieces that touch on how one Rev. M.L. King’s observations on character are laughable in these woke times.
Related and self-serving: One Prof. V.D. Hanson discusses this and other things in a podcast discussion had earlier this week with Mr. K. Relwof. You will find it illuminating (if you ignore the host’s blatherings). Victor’s wisdom can be heard here.
Now before you get into the appetizers and buffet bar that await, we have one friendly suggestion, which follows immediately. After that is considered, please do enjoy this week’s enormous fare.
Red and Brown and Blue Snow
Our friends at the newly established Kite & Key Media — which turns important research and data into palatable and informative (and mirthful) videos — is worth your attention and consideration. Do visit the website. And do catch the new video so you can learn about 1816 (and its Crayola array of snow) and then understand . . . How to Stop a Supervolcano.
NAME. RANK. LINK.
Hey Tony, Marvin K. Mooney is holding on Line One: Anthony Fauci Has Word Out His Welcome
Packin’ hate: Democrats’ Court-Packing Two-Step
Have virtue, will signal: Georgia Election Law: Major Companies Issue Generic Statement
Hating hate-hater idiocy: Democrats’ Hate-Crime Bill a Joke
Dan McLaughlin: Court-Packing: Democrats’ Plan a Power-Grab
Charles C.W. Cooke: Democrats and Joe Biden Invite Backlash
John McCormack: Court-Packing Bill Is an Effort to Intimidate Sitting Justices
David Harsanyi: Kristen Clarke Is Unfit for Office
Jason Richwine: The Public-Health Establishment Has Lost Credibility
Andrew C. McCarthy: Chauvin’s Stumbling Defense Case
Michael Brendan Dougherty: “White Supremacy” Is Blamed for Every Inequity and Unjust Act
Alexandra DeSanctis: Chemical Abortion Can Be Halted with New Procedure
Abigail Anthony: Princeton Coronavirus Policy Permits Protests, Stops Easter Mass
Kyle Smith: Is Ron Desantis the GOP’s Future?
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Transgender Debate: Keira Bell Deserved Better Than Puberty Blockers
Néstor T. Carbonell: Cuba Remains a Threat
Jim Talent and Lindsey Neas: Biden Administration and Red China: A Mixed-Bag Assessment
Sarah Schuette: Milne’s Once on a Time Is a Whimsical Treasure
Bahnsen and Toomey dynamic podcast duo: Capital Record (Episode 13): Senatorial Perspective
Vivek Ramaswamy watches the CEO lemmings assemble: Corporate America’s Siege on Democracy
Dan McLaughlin covers partisan boardroom machinations: Democrats and Corporations Are Allying against Republicans
Casey Mulligan doesn’t like Bernie fondling America’s privates: Health Care Reform: Prohibiting Profit Stifles Private-Sector Innovation
Benjamin Zycher laments OPEC’s gains (at our expense): Oil Markets and Fossil Fuel Demand: Making U.S. Poorer and OPEC+ Richer
Patrick Wright and Jay Carson warn about long-distance tax relationships: Local Governments Tax People Who Live and Work Outside City Limits
LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW
Armond White is around to pick up the . . . Pieces of a Woman Is Hollow and Self-Defeating
Kyle Smith likes what he sees: Hemingway Documentary Explores a Defining American Artist
AND NOW COMES THE ENCORE, FUN-FILLED AND EXCERPT-FORTIFIED FOR YOUR COMPLETE ENJOYMENT
1. In which we excoriate the fertilizer plant masquerade as legislation to increase the size of the United States Supreme Court. From the editorial:
The justifications that the Democrats have proffered are ridiculous on their face. They claim that the Republicans “packed” the Court themselves when, as the party in the majority in the Senate, they merely used their constitutional powers to approve or reject the candidates they were sent. They claim that the Court must be expanded to keep up with population growth and the workload that results — a contention that miscasts what the judicial branch does, and that does not make sense on its own terms (because all justices participate in every case, a court of 13 will not be able to take more cases than a court of nine, and in any event, the Court’s docket is smaller than it was a half century ago). And, finally, they claim that the Court is suffering through a crisis of legitimacy — which, given that it is more popular and more trusted than it was prior to the additions of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, represents the very opposite of the truth.
What is the truth? That, as it grows more progressive, the Democratic Party senses that it will more frequently hit up against the Constitution itself, and that, when it does so, it is going to need judges who are not interested in what that Constitution actually says. To comprehend this is to comprehend the whole grubby initiative, which will confer benefits upon the Democrats irrespective of its success. If Biden and Co. succeed in their undertaking, the Court will become merely another legislature, there to rubber-stamp the Democratic Party’s transgressions. If the endeavor fails, the Court may nevertheless be so intimidated by the attempt that they begin to bend at the knees. And, either way, the public is taught to mistrust Article III.
2. Fauci fatigue is for real, and consequential, and harmful. Just go the %^$#@ away Tony. We’ve had enough! From the editorial:
And it’s hard to shake the sense that Fauci makes recommendations based on how he thinks people will react. Fauci admitted in December that he had changed his assessments about herd immunity, based on what he thought the public could handle hearing. In the pandemic’s early days, Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did, but Fauci gradually boosted it to 85 percent. In an interview with the New York Times’ Donald McNeil Jr., Fauci “acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.”
At the beginning of March, Fauci forcefully criticized the state of Texas for ending its statewide mask mandate, declaring, “It’s risky and could set us back to a place that’s even worse than where we are now . . . and lead to additional surges.” And yet, Texas has seen its caseload continue to decline. When asked about the lack of an increase in that state, he answered, “You know, there are a lot of things that go into that. I mean, when you say that they’ve had a lot of the activity on the outside like ball games, I’m not really quite sure. It could be they’re doing things outdoors.”
3. The corporate-boardroom virtue-signalers have Zoom-gathered only to issue a lame-o statement about election-reform laws. From the editorial:
A major gathering on Saturday of management from over a hundred businesses, many of them enormous corporations, reportedly discussed imposing collective sanctions on Georgia — a plan that might at least skirt the edge of the antitrust laws and would represent a dramatic escalation of anti-democratic corporate bullying of self-governing states. But the statement released by the group Wednesday morning, to run as a newspaper advertisement, was underwhelming. Its tepid contents suggest that some of its signatories may have thought twice about engaging in bare-knuckles partisan side-taking on the basis of false information. Some very big corporate names appear, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, ViacomCBS, PayPal, American Express, Ford Motors, General Motors, American Airlines, JetBlue, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and Merck. But Georgia-based behemoths Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines are noticeable by their absence.
The statement itself is so generic, we doubt that any Georgia Republican who supported the bill would have trouble signing it themselves. “For American democracy to work, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us . . . the very foundation of our electoral process rests upon the ability of each of us to cast our ballots for the candidates of our choice. . . . We should all feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” Who would disagree with any of that? Indeed, a major point of the Georgia law was to make the state’s voting procedures more uniform across its 159 counties and prevent voters from having their ballots rejected by a subjective signature-matching process.
4. The Democrats have conjured up a new “hate crimes” bill, dealing with Asians (the very people so many Democrats and progressives seek to limit from entering merit-based educational institutions). It’s a joke, but not a funny one. From the editorial:
It goes without saying that violent crime is serious. There is also evidence that hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen during the pandemic. There could even be a federal role in fighting such crimes, if states fail to provide Asian Americans the equal protection of the laws.
So far, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling that Republicans won’t filibuster the bill and instead will allow it to move forward so that amendments could be made before any final passage.
But unless Democrats are willing to address its significant flaws, Republicans should oppose this bill and trust voters to see through the Democrats’ ploy.
5. Exiting Afghanistan is a risky decision. From the editorial:
Yet, simply writing off Afghanistan as a “forever war” slights the rationale for staying, and the risks of leaving now.
It’s just not true that, as Biden put it, “our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear.” The mission — preventing the creation of a Taliban-sponsored haven for jihadists — remains as clear as it was 20 years ago, and requires a continued, though modest, U.S. presence. Our involvement in Afghanistan was never about building a utopia at the war-torn geopolitical crossroads of Central Asia, despite U.S. efforts to support the development of democracy in the country and over-optimism at times about its prospects. Our involvement was always principally about preventing the reemergence of a terrorist threat capable of killing Americans on U.S. soil.
This isn’t merely a theoretical concern. Al-Qaeda reconstituted itself in Pakistan in the late 2000s, and we were able to hit the terror group from Afghanistan (including in the bin Laden raid). And ISIS attempted to establish a base in eastern Afghanistan several years ago.
Crucially, what Biden didn’t mention in his speech is how much the U.S. operation has changed over time. The war fought today is entirely different from the conflict in which Americans engaged in regular battles with Taliban forces.
Even under the Trump administration the U.S. role was largely counterterrorism, training, and supporting the Afghan government forces with air strikes. The most recent U.S. fatality resulted from an auto accident at an air force base in the UAE last November; the most recent combat death was earlier that year, in February prior to the beginning of a ceasefire with the Taliban.
1. Dan McLaughlin assails the court-packing schemery of the junta-worthy Biden Democrats. From the beginning of the piece:
One of the most radical banana-republic ideas floated during the 2020 presidential campaign was Democrats pushing Court-packing: expanding the size of the Supreme Court in order to change the outcomes of the Court’s decisions in their favor. This would, as I wrote repeatedly in 2019 and 2020, be by far more dangerous to the rule of written law than anything either party has done or proposed in recent memory. It is also hugely unpopular. Last week, Joe Biden announced a presidential commission to study the issue, signaling his continuing openness to what he once described as a corrupt power grab. Now, today, Democrats have introduced proposed legislation to add four more justices to the Court.
The Democrats’ bill, designated the “Judiciary Act of 2021,” is not simply the work of a few radical backbenchers. It is sponsored in the House by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Jerrold Nadler) and the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet (Hank Johnson). In the Senate, it is sponsored by Ed Markey, a 45-year veteran of Congress who is dean of Massachusetts’s congressional delegation and was a longtime committee chairman in the House. The press release announcing the bill contains statements of support from a flotilla of left-wing legal organizations.
Moreover, during the primary campaign, Court-packing was supported by Kamala Harris, now the vice president and next in line for the presidency should the 78-year-old Biden be unable to finish his term. With Democrats calling for an end to the Senate filibuster, it is entirely possible that the only thing standing between them and blowing up the Supreme Court is a few more House and Senate seats in the 2022 midterms. Republicans, who won multiple Senate campaigns in 2020 in which Court-packing was a major issue (notably in Maine, Iowa, and North Carolina) can and should make this a centerpiece of their argument in 2022 that Democrats simply cannot be trusted with a majority if the Republic is to survive.
2. Charles C.W. Cooke looks ahead to 2022 and find a Democrat Party that is inviting a Midterms’ backlash. From the piece:
The “defund the police” talk has mostly faded away. But it has been replaced with talk that is just as destructive, just as radical, and just as unwelcome to any politician whose margin of victory begins with a zero. Worse still, with the exception of reparations, these ideas are not coming from the likes of Rashida Tlaib; they are coming from the Democrats’ leadership. Further gun control was announced in person by President Biden during a televised press conference in which he called upon Congress to prohibit the most popular rifle in the country. Biden, too, takes direct responsibility for the situation on the border, and he is implicated by the plan to pack the Supreme Court, which was introduced by the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and which sits alongside a committee the White House has created to “study” the issue.
Aided by a compliant press, Democrats have over-interpreted a narrow election win and a dispirited opposition as proof that the country is finally ready for their policies and that the coalition of the ascendant has finally arrived. This is incorrect. In 1937, when the last attempt to destroy the judiciary was proposed, the party enjoyed supermajorities in both houses and a president who had won reelection in a landslide. Today, the Senate is split 50–50, and, at the time of this writing, the Democrats have a 218–212 majority, which means that they can pass nothing on a party-line basis if there are more than two defectors. As the Washington Post points out, in 2020 the Republican Party came within 90,000 votes of controlling all of Washington. This really is no time for a suicide charge.
3. John McCormack checks out the numerous rationales underlying the court-packing plot, and concludes the essential one is to intimidate the current SCOTUS Justices. From the piece:
A second reason for introducing the bill, of course, is that many Democrats are deadly serious about blowing up the Supreme Court if they ever think they really need to do it — and introducing a bill now is a necessary first step to get there. As Brian Fallon of Demand Justice, a left-wing judicial activist group, tweeted: “Even the sponsors would agree it doesn’t have the votes yet. The point in introducing the bill is to build support for it, a project that will only be aided by bad rulings from this 6–3 Court.” Dan McLaughlin notes that congressional Democrats could be a couple of Senate seats away from having the votes to abolish the filibuster, which would be a prerequisite to packing the courts.
But the third and perhaps most significant reason that Democrats introduced their Court-packing bill is to intimidate the Supreme Court in such a way that Democrats never really feel they need to pull the trigger on Court-packing.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell argued in a floor speech that the bill is all part of an ongoing effort to intimidate Supreme Court justices. He said on Thursday that with the Court-packing bill, the “Left wants a sword dangling over the justices when they weigh the facts in every case.”
“Just like the last time the Democrats tried packing the Supreme Court, this scheme is meant to intimidate the justices into making liberal rulings,” Arkansas senator Tom Cotton wrote on Twitter.
4. Biden’s nominee to run the DOJ’s civil rights office, Kristen Clarke, is unfit for the job — so says David Harsanyi, and for very good reason. From the piece:
Kristen Clarke, Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant attorney general of the United States, once promoted racist pseudoscientific quackery, arguing that the human brain was structured in a way that makes black people superior to white people, and that “human mental processes” in the brain have chemicals that imbue one race with “superior physical and mental abilities” and “spiritual abilities.”
Rather than owning up to a youthful relationship with radicalism, Clarke, who made these comments in the Harvard Crimson as a 19-year-old, claims that her racist diatribe was a merely a parody mocking the controversial book, “The Bell Curve.” “What I was seeking to do was to hold up a mirror,” she says, “Put one racist theory alongside another.”
Purely by chance, Clarke also happened to invite a Holocaust-denying fraud named Anthony Martin — then a professor at Wellesley College whose assigned primary textbook was called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, which blamed Jews for the slave trade, and who wrote The Jewish Onslaught, published by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — to speak at Harvard. Around the same time Clarke was writing unrecognizable satire about black supremacy, she was calling Martin an “intelligent, well-versed Black intellectual who bases his information on indisputable fact.” Weird that.
Clarke’s contention that she was penning Swiftian letters on race is about as plausible as her assertion today in front of the Senate that her Newsweek op-ed titled “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police — But Be Strategic” wasn’t actually about “defunding the police.” Clarke said “the impetus for writing this op-ed was to make clear that I do not support defunding the police.” In the piece, Clarke literally defines what “defund the police” means, and then offers her ideas about redistributing funds. Maybe that, too, was satire.
5. The public-health establishment is incapable of telling the truth, and therefore in being assured of the trust of Americans, argues Jason Richwine. From the Corner post:
Public-health leaders have sown distrust throughout the pandemic, and the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the latest example. On one hand, if dangerous clotting is merely the one-in-a-million risk that it is reported to be, then the logic of suspending J&J is difficult to grasp. On the other hand, if health authorities have reason to believe the risk is much greater than one in a million, then they have not been forthcoming with the evidence. Either way, they are not serving the public interest.
The reversal on masks last spring was a similar disservice. Authorities were either genuinely mistaken when they advised against masks, or they were lying to preserve supplies. Either way, they gave the public a reason to discount their advice going forward.
The trust issues continued into the spring and summer of 2020, with three major events standing out. First, the justification for lockdowns changed from avoiding overrun hospitals to minimizing transmission generally. The result has been an endless hodgepodge of restrictions that goes far beyond “15 days to flatten the curve.” That such restrictions often seem to lack an evidentiary basis has added to the public’s skepticism. In fact, it is often difficult to see any relationship at all between lockdowns and viral transmission, but the restrictions persist.
A second breach of trust occurred after Memorial Day. Public-health experts who had deemed lockdowns essential decided to look the other way when Black Lives Matter protesters packed the streets. Over 1,000 experts even signed a letter explaining that BLM protests are more important than containing COVID, but anti-lockdown protests are “rooted in white nationalism” and must be condemned.
6. Jimmy Quinn says the progressive-placating defense-spending cuts proposed by Joe Biden make Red China and Russia happy: From the article:
In short, every aspect of the current assault on the U.S.-led world order vindicates the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which aimed to begin reorienting the U.S. defense establishment away from Afghanistan and Iraq and toward “long-term strategic competitions” with China and Russia. The Trump-era document also explicitly called for building a military capable of fighting a conflict with Beijing or Moscow while simultaneously “deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere.”
The Biden administration says that its budget proposal actually advances these goals, and in its official request to Congress states that it prioritizes “the need to counter the threat from China while also deterring destabilizing behavior by Russia.” But back in 2018, the panel of defense experts, which lauded the aims of the NDS, expressed skepticism that the Trump administration could meet the strategy’s goals without a drastic increase in funding after years of congressional neglect. The panel members wrote at the time that the administration’s budgetary plans “do not fund a level of military capacity and capability adequate to defeat either adversary should war occur while deterring other enemies simultaneously.”
It’s worth noting that that White House budget proposals rarely, if ever, become law in anything like their original form; they are, above all else, an expression of the administration’s budgetary priorities to Congress. But that makes lawmakers’ reactions too them instructive, and this case is no exception.
Unsurprisingly, Republican hawks on Capitol Hill are outraged at the Biden administration’s proposal. Senator Mitch McConnell and four of his colleagues last week sent a letter alleging that the plan “undermines Washington Democrats’ tough talk on China and calls into question the administration’s willingness to confront the Chinese Communist Party.” For all the steps that Biden has taken to shore up U.S. diplomatic support for Taiwan and confront Beijing’s malign behavior, the senators have a point.
7. The defense team for Derek Chauvin is stumbling along. Andrew C. McCarthy has the play by play. From the assessment:
Meanwhile, the rest of the defense case, which started Tuesday morning, has not gone much better for Chauvin than use-of-force expert Barry Brodd, whose rocky appearance I covered in last night’s column.
Nelson continues to attack the state’s causation proof — i.e., the prosecutors’ evidence that Floyd died from the police restraint, rather than from drug abuse or his constellation of medical problems. In this vein, the defense called Shawanda Hill, an old friend of George Floyd’s who ran into him in the Cup Foods store where Floyd passed the counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd offered her a ride home, and she was thus in the car with him and his friend, Morries Hall, when the police arrived on May 25. Nelson mainly elicited from her that Floyd was tired, fell asleep in the car, and was difficult to revive. The point was to show that Floyd’s behavior was consistent with fentanyl abuse.
It won’t get far. Hill also testified that Floyd seemed to be fine when she first encountered him and became alert and excited when the police arrived. This is consistent with the state’s medical testimony that, while Floyd had the dangerous opiate fentanyl (along with the stimulant, methamphetamine) in his system, the drugs did not kill him. Thus far, Nelson has not come close to refuting the state’s extremely persuasive medical-expert witnesses. That is obviously the top defense objective today: The trial is under way, with Dr. David Fowler, an internationally prominent forensic pathologist and, before his retirement, the chief medical examiner for Maryland, appearing as a defense witness.
Ms. Hill’s testimony shed no light on what Floyd was doing with Morries Hall, who had been sitting in the passenger seat (with Hill in the back), and who could be heard on one recording telling police that his name was “Ricardo.” Besides ingesting drugs, Floyd was also in possession of a small amount of narcotics and counterfeit money when his police altercation began. Hall declined to testify in the trial, and Judge Cahill has sustained his claim of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
8. White white white is the incurable, no-antidote explanation for every injustice this side of O’Leary’s Cow (and maybe even that too). Michael Brendan Dougherty has at the pigmentary foulness. From the piece:
It’s true that COVID-19 has brought anti-Asian sentiments and bigotries to the fore. But it’s not a “white supremacist idea” to blame China for the coronavirus. It’s also a Chinese idea. Taiwan still calls COVID-19 the “Wuhan pneumonia,” and its leaders remain angry that Chinese influence in the World Health Organization was used to exclude Taiwanese scientists from giving their input during the early crucial stages of the pandemic. This does not mean that Taiwan is in thrall to American’s history of “yellow peril” fear-mongering.
The theory becomes non-falsifiable. When a white person commits an act of violence against a non-white person, it is white supremacy. When reports are corrected and the perpetrator turns out to be a person of color, the motive is still white supremacy. This obliterates not just the agency of black and Hispanic criminals — recasting them as helpless automatons, moved by a system that victimized them first — but much of the human experience.
Ho says that white supremacy is the belief that non-whites are less than human. That seems like a perfectly serviceable definition. But Ho’s own belief in the mesmerizing influence of white supremacy robs non-whites of their humanity as well. Ignorance, bigotry, fear, hatred, and rage are all part of the human condition, and so too is our responsibility for our actions. The members of the Black Hebrew Israelites who killed three Jews in a grocery story in Jersey City in 2019 were not white supremacists, were not acting on behalf of white supremacy — and saying so insults not only the victims but the perpetrators.
9. Coercion remains an important unionization tool, as David Harsanyi explains. From the piece:
Organized labor exists because it is a big money-maker for Democrats. Former president Barack Obama attempted to push through a “card check certification” that would have compelled employees to decide on unionization in the open, where they could be intimidated by labor activists, rather than in secret ballot like any other fair election. Obama did, however, successfully institute “quickie elections” through the National Labor Relations Board, which not only violates the free-speech rights of employers but bars employees from making legal challenges to union campaigns until after elections.
Joe Biden is back at it. Democrats tucked an $86 billion bailout for union pensions in the “stimulus” bill. The president’s proposed $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan infrastructure bill is teeming with union goodies. Most elements of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, passed by the House earlier in the year, are in the proposal.
By “organize,” they mean force. For one thing, the bill would overturn existing state “right to work” laws that prohibit compulsory unionization and bar unions from creating closed shops that compel employees to pay dues. On top of that, it would strip employers of the right to hire replacement workers when union members strike; compel employers to hand over all employees’ cellphone numbers, addresses, emails, and work schedules to union organizers; institute backdoor card-check elections; and create a raft of new fines and punitive measures that could be used against companies that don’t acquiesce to labor demands.
On top of all this, employers are already severely limited in their ability to make anti-unionization arguments, while their opponents are largely free to engage in hyperbolic and misleading speech, amplified by their allies in the media. It has gotten so ridiculous that random members of the public can now effectively induce the government to sue employers in court for making jokes about a union.
10. Pay no attention to the Capitol Hill Killer! Kyle Smith ignores the MSM’s move-along refusal to report an important story. From the piece:
This was no run-of-the-mill random attack, or at least that’s how it appeared at first. The assault “sent shockwaves through Washington DC,” CNN.com intoned. In an unusual joint statement, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer dubbed the slain officer, William “Billy” Evans, “a martyr for our democracy.” Mitch McConnell issued a similar statement. President and Jill Biden sent their condolences. White House and Capitol flags were lowered to half-staff.
So this was a major national story. Or was it? The New York Times published three pieces about Green and the attack on April 2 and 3, but has since gone silent on Green. In contrast, the Times has done seven stories in the same time frame focusing on the location of MLB’s All-Star Game.
That beats CNN.com, which has run stories on the slain police officer, the attack itself, and politicians’ reactions to it, but as far as I can tell hasn’t run a single story primarily about Green himself, except for a piece that ran on its scrolling Politics Live blog. Nor has CNN explored his possible motives in any depth. Apart from the blog post, the most detail I can find about Green on CNN’s website is three paragraphs within a 25-paragraph story about Capitol Hill tensions that ran hours after the assault.
As for our most prestigious journals of thought, neither The New Yorker nor The Atlantic has mentioned Green, as far as I can tell. Our least prestigious journals of thought have missed the story, too: I see nothing on Green at Vox.com.
11. As Alexandra DeSanctis reports, the Abortion Industry wants to kill a new procedure to kneecap chemical killings. From the piece:
A chemical abortion takes place in two stages. First, a pregnant mother is given mifepristone — brand-name Mifeprex — which blocks progesterone, an essential hormone in the growth, development, and sustaining of a fetus. Twenty-four to 48 hours later, she takes a second drug, misoprostol, containing prostaglandins that induce cramping and bleeding to expel the fetus.
A little more than a decade ago, doctors began to develop a safe, successful way to halt that process, aimed at helping women who had taken Mifeprex to reverse the process of terminating their pregnancy before they took misoprostol.
Leaders in the abortion industry tend to deny that women ever come to regret abortion, a claim easily disproven by anecdotal evidence and scientific studies. Nevertheless, supporters of legal abortion insist that abortion-pill reversal (APR) is unnecessary because no woman would elect to undo a chemical abortion once she’s taken the first dose.
But according to Dr. Christina Francis, chairman of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), more than 2,000 women have chosen APR and successfully halted a chemical abortion.
12. Protests? Yes. Easter Mass? No. So goes the politics of permission at Princeton, as Abigail Anthony reports. From the article:
Princeton employees, including Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun, the administrator responsible for the Social Contract, attended the vigil. Prior to the spring semester, Calhoun sent all undergraduate students an email stating that “students living on campus, in Mercer County or Plainsboro, New Jersey, are required to complete an online training, submit proof of a flu shot and sign the Social Contract by January 4, 2021.” Why is the person who helped craft the Social Contact publicly violating it?
Student clubs promoted the vigil to hundreds of undergraduates. The entire Class of 2023 received an email from its Class Council. To avoid Social Contract violations, the student groups claimed they had no role in organizing the event. However, an Instagram Story post by the Class of 2023 Class Council explicitly recognizes the co-presidents of the Asian American Student Association as organizers.
On March 29, I wrote an email to the Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students, Thomas Dunne, with evidence that students had served as organizers for this event. I emphasized that, even if a student denied such involvement, the mere act of attending constituted a Social Contract violation. I observed that, if the university maintains that an event explicitly described as a “vigil” is a valid exception to the Social Contract, then members of the university’s Catholic organization should be exempt from contractual obligations to celebrate their Easter Vigil.
Dean Dunne’s response evaded my questions. Despite contrary evidence, Dunne wrote that “the rally was not organized nor registered by an undergraduate student organization.” He ignored the proof that attendance — regardless of organizational role — was a violation. He cc’d the Dean of Religious Life, Alison Boden, who later wrote that the Catholic chaplain had not requested approval for a gathering. Boden offered to open the university chapel for an Easter Mass at 25-person capacity. The Princeton University chapel can accommodate 2,000 people, and New Jersey currently allows places of worship to open at 50-percent capacity. Later, the university’s Catholic priest confirmed that the Dean of Religious Life had advised Princeton chaplains, in a meeting on March 10, to avoid providing services on campus. As a result, he did not request permission for a gathering.
13. Kyle Smith flies Ron Desantis up the flagpole. There are a lot of reasons for saluting. From the article:
And yet it’s exactly that hostility that has made DeSantis a national name. DeSantis is feasting on the media’s contempt for him. To conservatives, the failed and mendacious 60 Minutes attack piece amounted to DeSantis earning a Purple Heart. He took fire, and he survived. Not only that, he lobbed a few grenades into the enemy trenches.
He fights. The comparisons to Trump come easily, but DeSantis also brings to mind Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, each of whom built a national profile that depended not only on policy successes but on combativeness with the press. (And all three men boast Italian heritage. Coincidence?) Giuliani and Christie both disintegrated, though, and that should give us reason to temper our enthusiasm for DeSantis’s prospects as a potential presidential nominee in 2024. The next presidential election is approximately 1,300 news cycles away. DeSantis should count on 1,300 days of nonstop bashing from the media. Perhaps he’ll emerge from this trial strong or perhaps the media will succeed in ruining him.
DeSantis possesses the dream resume for a Republican presidential candidate: middle-class youth, stardom on the Yale baseball team, Harvard Law degree, a Navy career that included a tour of duty in Iraq, successful stewardship of a large and diverse state, no Swamp stink on him. So far, he has proved to be far better at selling conservative ideas publicly than his presumed rivals Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton.
14. The child-abuse that is part and parcel of trans demagogues gets pounded by Kathryn Jean Lopez. From the piece:
She started seeing a psychologist at 15 and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. She recalls:
I was adamant that I needed to transition. It was the kind of brash assertion that’s typical of teenagers. What was really going on was that I was a girl insecure in my body who had experienced parental abandonment, felt alienated from my peers, suffered from anxiety and depression, and struggled with my sexual orientation.
But what did the adults do? They experimented on her.
Five years later, she would de-transition. But a double mastectomy cannot be undone. That “pause” on puberty and testosterone shots have a lifetime of consequences. Teenagers don’t think about infertility and breastfeeding. That’s why there are adults. But the adults failed Keira Bell. And the adults increasingly seem nowhere to be seen on these dangerous issues of gender confusion and ideology, which Pope Francis has described as a nuclear bomb on humanity. Sweet Keira is one of the walking wounded.
15. Cuba is still run by stinking commies, and as Néstor T. Carbonell reminds us, it remains a threat. From the article:
Today, due in part to the sanctions imposed over the last four years and the economic crisis convulsing Cuba, the Castro regime has started to introduce several overdue reforms. It has scrapped the dual-currency system, devalued the peso, and announced a “major” expansion of the private sector. However, the government maintains control of all large industries and wholesale shops, and continues to monopolize health care, education, communications, and professional services. And all cuentapropistas are still barred from incorporating their businesses.
If the Biden administration is truly serious about human rights in Cuba, it should not give in to a police state that just two months ago quashed a dialogue proposed by artists and young activists of the Movimiento San Isidro seeking to rescind two government decrees that were designed to strangle artistic freedom and silence independent media on the island. Repression has intensified in recent days against peaceful San Isidro protesters and against leaders of the major Cuban dissident organization (UNPACU), who had to go on an extended hunger strike to obtain the lifting of a police barricade.
There are also real national-security concerns. When Cuba was removed from the terrorist list, the Castro regime “provided assurances that it [would] not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Yet it continues to harbor dozens of American fugitives, including convicted murderers on the FBI Most Wanted List, and provides an operational base to ten leaders of Colombia’s National Liberation Army — a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Moreover, in 2016 and 2017, several dozen U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers (and a number of Canadian officials) stationed in Cuba suffered severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, and loss of hearing and memory. Similar symptoms also afflicted American officials in China, Russia, and other countries in 2018–19. After several years of investigations, experts indicated that the most probable cause of the brain damage was “radiofrequency energy” — a type of radiation likely spurred by high-intensity microwave beams. Strong evidence points to “malicious, directed, and pulsed attacks.” The suspected perpetrator seems to be Russia, which has done significant research on pulsed-radiofrequency technology. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reportedly warned in 1976 that Soviet research on microwaves showed great promise for “disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel.” Regarding Cuba now, there seems to be an additional Russian objective: weakening U.S. and Canadian intelligence on the island by forcing the evacuation of afflicted spies and diplomatic personnel. And the accomplice: the Castro regime. Accountability is a matter of urgency and should precede any new détente with Cuba. History tells us that impunity, if allowed to stand, is an invitation to more aggression.
16. John Fund describes how Big Tech doesn’t want you to see inconvenient truths about BLM and Hunter Biden. From the article:
But what explains Twitter’s censorship of Jason Whitlock, an African-American sports commentator formerly of ESPN?
Whitlock’s crime is that he posted a link to a real estate blog showing that Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a Black Lives Matter co-founder, was buying a $1.4 million home in a secluded Los Angeles neighborhood where only 1.4 percent of residents are black.
Whitlock had some fun zinging the self-described “trained Marxist” ideologue for her hypocrisy: “She had a lot of options on where to live. She chose one of the whitest places in California. She’ll have her pick of white cops and white people to complain about. That’s a choice, bro.”
Twitter promptly censored the tweet — posting a notice that it was “no longer available.”
Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida. The organization has long been explicitly Marxist, and an affiliate lavishly praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro when he died. In 2020, donations to it exploded in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. The group took in at least $90 million last year but has received little scrutiny of its operations and finances. Asra Nomani, the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, writes frequently about extremist groups and has reported on the tangled finances of BLM.
17. Jim Talent and Lindsey Neas finds the Biden Administration’s record with Red China to be quite mixed. From the assessment:
The United States is now outgunned, outmanned, and outranged in China’s near seas, especially within the crucial first island chain, the archipelagos nearest the coast of East Asia, extending from Japan to the Philippines. As a result, Beijing can to a large degree ignore world opinion, economic countermeasures, and reputational damage, and simply use coercion — the massing of maritime militia and coast-guard vessels backed by PLAN vessels — to seize territory and defend their territorial claims.
Which is exactly what the regime has been doing for almost a decade. China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012; declared an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea in 2013; seized reefs in the international waters of the South China Sea, an area twice the size of Alaska; and began construction of substantial port facilities and airfields atop them beginning in 2013. China uses its coast-guard vessels, backed by PLAN ships, both to support Chinese companies in extracting resources from the territorial waters of other nations and to prevent their neighbors from accessing their own resources in the same waters. The PLA routinely sends ships and aircraft to violate the airspace and territorial waters of Japan and Taiwan, and last year used force to coerce India in its border disputes with that country.
All of these developments — along with Beijing’s mass incarceration of, and brutality against, the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and its occupation of Hong Kong — have been met with consistent diplomatic condemnation and, beginning with the Trump administration, the use of America’s economic power to impose costs on the regime. Those steps have pressured but not deterred it. In fact, Beijing has responded by turning to “wolf-warrior diplomacy” — sharpening the tone of its statements to make clear that reputational and economic costs will not prevent it from using force to achieve its objectives.
18. Andrew Michta argues that COVID has assaulted the common-sense approach to risk as a thing of mitigation, as opposed to the utopian idea of risk-elimination. From the essay:
And yet none of these public-health emergencies generated anything approximating the current government response to COVID-19. As of this writing, the total number of COVID-related deaths worldwide stands at 2.8 million, with 132.5 million cases reported and about 106 million infected people having fully recovered. This puts the current average case-fatality ratio at 2.1 percent of those infected (unevenly distributed across different countries and age groups), and when measured against the world population the 2.8 million COVID-related deaths represent 0.03 percent of the total. I mention these numbers not to make light of the tragic impact of each individual loss of life but to take a broader view of the scope of the pandemic versus the impact that the measures to combat it have had across our societies, especially the massive loss of GDP, the destruction of small businesses, and the unraveling of our educational system, with the impact falling predominantly on the young, social pathologies, including surging alcoholism, drug addiction, and domestic violence. Again, as with any public-policy decision, the course of action must be measured against the opportunity cost and the likelihood of success — and the now-regnant “culture of lockdowns” points decisively to excessive opportunity cost versus apparently only a marginal impact when it comes to reducing the infection rate, as the decline in the rate of infection last spring and summer could just as well rest on seasonal factors and the virus’s having not yet mutated as it could on lockdowns, social distancing, and masks.
What has arguably done most to erode public trust has been the arbitrary nature of the rapidly shifting public-health guidelines, with numbers of people who can/cannot congregate in one space literally pulled out of thin air. In a nutshell, the fundamental problem for every citizen since virtual self-incarceration was mandated by our governments’ executive fiats has been the cognitive dissonance between the scope of the threat and the measures taken to combat it: The severity of the measures adopted does not square with the nature of the risk. And while our political leaders might have been forgiven at the beginning of the pandemic, when few data were available, it is now obvious that, regardless of the mutated “variants of the virus,” this pandemic is nothing comparable to the plagues of yore.
Given the various strands that have been identified, this coronavirus will probably not be “conquered”; rather, it is likely to remain with us, much as a multitude of other airborne viruses have been with us for centuries. Unless each individual locks himself or herself in a hermetically sealed room, the pathogen will be “out there,” keeping all of us at some risk of infection, though over time vaccinations and increasing herd immunity will reduce that risk and, more importantly, new therapeutics will allow us to effectively treat those infected. The incessant testing, and making a clean test — and soon a proof of vaccination — the sine qua non for us to be allowed to do something as trivial as board an airplane, is evidence of a social psychosis unlike anything democratic societies have ever experienced, with the media breathlessly announcing the rising number of positive tests as a justification for yet another lockdown.
19. The author of Winnie the Pooh, Sarah Schuette reminds us, also wrote the beautiful Once on a Time. From the piece:
Milne is known to most as the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, perhaps the most recognizable character in children’s literature (or all literature, for that matter). A poet and playwright, he began his career writing humorous pieces for Punch magazine before achieving remarkable success around the world with his plays. In 1917, three years before his son Christopher Robin was born, Milne published Once on a Time, saying he’d written it “for the amusement of my wife and myself at a time when life was not very amusing.”
All the components of a traditional fairytale are present in the story: warring kings, a marriageable princess, fairies, a prince, enchantments, a villainess. But, dear reader, it is decidedly odd.
First, if you’ve never heard the name Roger Scurvilegs, your education has been sadly neglected. For it is from Scurvilegs’s definitive, 17-volume history, Euralia Past and Present, that our narrator (Milne) supposedly draws this tale. This narrator is a charming fellow, constantly popping in to enlighten us about the characters, add bits of pertinent (or irrelevant) Euralian history, take issue with Scurvilegs for his romantic inclinations — but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let us review the synopsis:
King Merriwig of Euralia is off at war with the king of Barodia (due to an unfortunate affair involving a pair of seven-league boots, a morning constitutional, an outdoor breakfast, and some “Stiff Notes”). Merriwig has left his beloved daughter Hyacinth in charge of Euralia during his absence, and has instructed the Countess Belvane (Merriwig’s love interest, Hyacinth’s mother having been carried off by a dragon 17 years earlier) to act as her adviser.
1. Over 100 CEOs zoomed in to wage stakeholder capitalism and show their shallowness about citizens seeking to protect voter integrity. Vivek Ramaswamy is all over the virtue-signaling extravaganza. From the piece:
Liberals are no longer just cheering as CEOs wade into politics. They’re demanding it — or else. In recent weeks, activists staged a “die-in” at Coca-Cola’s museum in Atlanta. Bishop Reginald Jackson, an influential Atlanta pastor, used a bullhorn on the street to call for a boycott of Coca-Cola. Protestors gathered at the Delta terminal in Atlanta airport and demanded that Mr. Bastian “kill the bill.” The co-founder of Black Voters Matter declared, “If you can’t get involved in the business of fighting for democracy, then we’re going to have to get involved in your business.”
This recent reversal of progressive dogma on the role of corporations in politics is astounding. Al Gore once railed against lawmakers who are “now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances.” Kamala Harris called on voters to “take a stand against corporate influence in politics.”
Democrats used to abhor the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC because it permitted corporations to influence elections. Yet now they demand even more: Delta and Coca-Cola weren’t simply influencing one election, but the very laws governing how a state will conduct all elections in the future. Those who once argued that “corporations aren’t people” are now demanding that corporations act more like, well, people. This isn’t “Jim Crow on steroids,” as President Biden called it this month. It’s Citizens United on steroids.
2. Dan McLaughlin covers partisan boardroom machinations and Scranton Joe’s role in the blatant partisan operation. From the piece:
If this were simply a matter of corporate conspiracy against honest and orderly elections, the discussion would end there. It does not, though, because these are not just independent citizens petitioning the government. Almost all of them have business interests in favorable treatment by the federal government, and their collective action will curry favor with the party that runs all of its elected branches. Democrats, after all, currently control the White House, the House, and the Senate; they also hold both of Georgia’s Senate seats, and won the state in the last presidential election. Nobody on the call could have been unaware of whose side they were taking.
Democrats do not actually believe their own “Jim Crow” rhetoric or their lies about what the law does, but they argue openly that the Georgia law would make it easier for the opposition party to win elections. Democrats thus see this as a zero-sum partisan power struggle, and are enlisting their business allies to crush the political opposition.
A crucial link in this chain of events is the Democrats’ high-profile elections lawyer, Marc Elias. Joe Biden, speaking from the bully pulpit of the presidency, has already publicly voiced his support for corporate action against Georgia for passing its election law. But as Biden, his press secretary, and Georgia Democrats have grown increasingly gun-shy about being seen to direct this effort, Elias posted marching orders Friday at his site “Democracy Docket” under the headline, “The Business Community Must Act.” It is unlikely that the timing of these public directions were coincidental to Saturday’s call.
The push by Bernie Sanders and fellow-traveling Congressional socialists to ban the profit motive from health care is asinine argues Casey Mulligan. From the article:
3. Benjamin Zycher laments U.S. energy policies that result in gains for OPEC and harm to the American consumer (and to energy independence). From the analysis:
The reality of an ongoing increase in the demand for fossil fuels is obvious, as reflected in the announcement early this month by OPEC+ that its oil production will be increased by a total of 1.15 million barrels per day from May through July. The production of fossil fuels in any given economy represents, literally, the transformation of indigenous natural resources into increased national wealth. When realized, competitive market forces will tend to allocate it among capital investors, workers, suppliers, and myriad others in accordance with perceived contributions to that wealth expansion.
Certainly, perspectives differ among the OPEC+ members on the rate of demand growth, on competitive conditions, on the appropriate timing of increased production, and thus on the most profitable choice among available output and pricing strategies. But the central perception of strengthening demand conditions is incontrovertible, and the OPEC+ membership sees no reason to deny itself the additional wealth attendant upon a production increase in response to improving market conditions.
Nor is there a good reason that the U.S. should engage in mindless economic sacrifice. But that is not the debate in which we are engaged. Instead, the Biden administration and its allies in Congress, together with climate-policy extremists, are searching for rationales to justify restrictions or bans on new lease sales on federal lands, a self-defeating increase in the royalty rate on production from such leases, disapprovals or restrictions on investments in pipelines and other fossil energy infrastructure, a deeply dubious tightening of methane-emissions standards, and a general shift away from fossil fuels in favor of an energy system producing “net-zero” greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.
4. It’s unconstitutional, argue Patrick Wright and Jay Carson, for local governments to tax out-of-towners. From the piece:
Two dozen municipalities — backed by the Michigan Municipal League — have asked the Michigan legislature to let them continue harvesting money from people beyond their borders. Yet no Michigander would support a law that let Indiana or Illinois tax individuals living in Michigan, so why should Detroit be able to dip into the paychecks of people who live and work in Flint? The answer is simple: It shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, this unjust taxation is currently happening in Ohio. Last year, the General Assembly passed a sweeping pandemic-response bill that classified work done at home as work done in the office, which is often located in higher-taxing cities. Since then, Ohio’s more than 600 local governments with income taxes have continued to take money from workers, many of whom have not set foot within the city for work in months, if not more than a year.
According to one Ohio report, nonresidents pay nearly 70 percent of city income taxes in the state. Yet these workers have no way to change local taxing laws, because they don’t live, and therefore can’t vote, in the cities taxing them. It is a modern-day version of taxation without representation.
The Buckeye Institute is currently representing workers in four lawsuits to reverse Ohio’s emergency-based local income-tax system. The cases point out that the U.S. Constitution’s due-process clause allows governments to impose income tax only on their residents, or on nonresidents for work performed within the local government’s borders. Additionally, Ohio courts have held that a tax must bear some “fiscal relation” to the benefits or services provided by the local government. For the past year, employees working from home have not availed themselves of city services, thus severing that fiscal relation.
Lights. Camera. Review.
1. Armond White thinks Netflix’s Pieces of a Woman is a self-defeating stinker. From the beginning of the review:
It’s kind of a mystery how British actress Vanessa Kirby got an Oscar nomination for Pieces of a Woman, but the title might tell us all we need to know. Kirby’s role as Martha is a concatenation of cultural prejudices and advantages: She’s a Boston Brahmin debutante who marries down to blue-collar construction worker Sean (Shia LaBeouf). She’s pregnant but still tied to the influence of her domineering, bigoted mother Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn). Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó and his screenwriting partner Kata Wéber assemble these sociological puzzle pieces out of the contradictions of #MeToo-era sympathies.
Mundruczó’s camera dotes on Kirby (best known for her role on Netflix’s The Crown as rascal brunette Princess Margaret, but she’s a haughty blonde here). Kirby’s performance consists of mood scenes and attitude posturing, since Weber’s clichéd dialogue is subordinate to the director’s attempt at visual realism. But Kirby isn’t a commanding presence; she has that British theater-actor anonymity that never convincingly translates into American temperament or idioms. She’s miming a type — from an emotional distance and in a very actressy manner.
After Mundruczó introduces the mismatched couple, he circles the two of them in a 24-minute, unedited sequence of Martha’s pre-delivery contractions. His overlong, undisciplined style unapologetically follows the overrated, now forgotten Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, by Cristian Mungiu from the previous decade — a pre-#MeToo art-movie rationalization for abortion as social mandate. In Pieces of a Woman, Martha and Sean’s interaction with a doula, who is standing in for their regular midwife, moves like a theatrical set piece. It is meant to be a tour de force but is monotonous. Kirby’s physical exaggerations and shrieks can only impress young feminists who are unfamiliar with movie birth stunts. (Julie Andrews followed her squeaky-clean image in The Sound of Music with a memorable one-take labor scene in the 1966 film Hawaii.)
2. Ken Burns’ Hemingway documentary meets with Kyle Smith’s approval. From the beginning of the review:
Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, said there were “so many sides to him he defied geometry.” A man’s man who liked to be called “Catherine” in bed, an apostle of frankness who often lied about his feats, a libertarian who spied for Stalin, he left us with a biography as overstuffed as his work was lean. He was an object of fascination like no other writer, and he receives his due in the superb new documentary Hemingway, a three-part, six-hour film for PBS directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, with a penetrating script by Geoffrey C. Ward.
Standing properly at the center of the documentary is Hemingway’s famously spare prose, and all of these years later it retains its pure, concentrated power, achieved by the literary equivalent of unlocking enormous force by splitting the atom. “I’ve tried to write a helluva good story about people without faking, preciosity or horses**t,” he said early in his career. (Hemingway’s words, both from his many letters and his prose, are read by Jeff Daniels: an odd choice, but you get used to it.)
As much as anyone, Hemingway created modern taste: Sardonic without trying to be funny, allergic to adornment, and guiding his readers in the opposite direction from aggressively difficult writers such as James Joyce and T. S. Eliot, he was the master who taught all subsequent artists how to say things by not saying them. The more elliptical he was, the more devastating.
From the New May 3 Issue, A Quartet of Pieces Filled with Quintessential NR Wisdom, and Some Even with Pleasant Memories
As is the custom, this missive, upon the appearance of a new issue of your favorite conservative magazine — and this is the case now as the May 3, 2021 issue is now out and about – recommends four or so articles for your consideration. Let us commence with the recommending!
1. China’s traditional ethics have been victimized by seven decades of Communist brutality, has not yet broken, writes Perry Link. From the essay:
The society was not always like this. In imperial times, a few hundred years ago, Confucian rules on how to “be a good person” were fairly clear, and, although it was by no means the case that the rules were always followed, there was a broad consensus that they ought to be followed. A victim of mistreatment could appeal to the public knowing that, because certain values were held in common, empathy would be forthcoming. Liu Binyan pointed me to some 17th-century popular stories in which a wronged party, driven finally to suicide, chooses the doorstep of the wrongdoer as the place to end life. Why make that particular choice? Because, as Liu pointed out, it says in effect: All right, you win; but the public can see, and heaven observes, that you have done wrong. And that statement had power.
Here “heaven” is an imperfect translation of tian, a broad concept that means roughly “the natural state of all things.” But tian in Chinese belief is more than physical; it is transcendent and has a moral will — it can anoint emperors and justify their rule, for example. It is one answer in Chinese culture to the human need for the supernatural, but it did not mean paradise in the sense of a place where one goes after death. About 500 B.C.E. Confucius commented that we shouldn’t worry too much about death because we still haven’t figured out life. Notions of heaven and hell came to China only a few centuries later, when Buddhism arrived from India, and the ideas were many. Buddhism spoke of not just one paradise but ten of them, and layers of hells, each more fearsome than the last. Moreover one’s afterlife flowed from one’s moral behavior on earth. Karma linked past, present, and future, and one’s “merit” could be carried from one existence to the next. Chinese civilization answered Buddhism by persecuting it at one level (defrocking monks and nuns and destroying monasteries) but adopting it at another. Daoism, a philosophy that was indigenous to China, accepted Buddhism’s heavens and hells, gave them Chinese names, and invented Chinese gods to preside over them. The great modern scholar Hu Shi (1891–1962) called this Daoist move “manufacturing an imitation product to take over the market.” Eventually Confucianism, too, produced a popular-religion version of itself, and a person could worship at a Confucian temple. Popular Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism were not antagonistic toward one another; a person could pray anywhere, as needed.
2. The title of Rich Lowry’s cover piece says it compactly: “Stacey Abrams, Fount of Disinformation.” From the essay:
Stacey Abrams is one of the great founts of disinformation in contemporary American political life. She’s managed to convince almost all Democrats to accept her ridiculous contention that she was the rightful winner of her 2018 gubernatorial race against Brian Kemp, which she never conceded. Her framework of looking at disputes over voting rules not as matters reasonable people can disagree about, or as fights for partisan advantage, but as an existential struggle over the attempted imposition of a new system of racist repression has prevailed on the center–left. Finally, she’s led the way in characterizing the new Georgia electoral law as the onset of Jim Crow 2.0, prompting denunciations of her state from corporate America and leading Major League Baseball to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta.
She’s paid no price for her dishonesty and hysteria; rather, she’s been celebrated in verse and song. She’s been featured in Vogue (“Can Stacey Abrams save American democracy?” the headline asked) and was somewhere in the very outer orbit of Joe Biden’s VP short list. The way that Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed the new Georgia law is typical of her party’s Abrams-centric view of Georgia: “The Republican who is sitting in Stacey Abrams’ chair just signed a despicable voter suppression bill into law to take Georgia back to Jim Crow.”
Abrams is treated as an authority on all matters related to voting, when, in reality, the beginning of wisdom on such questions is realizing how utterly wrong she is.
3. Jay Nordlinger offers a charming memory-lane trip through the popular theme songs that made the idiot box whistle. From the piece:
There is a category of TV theme music I would characterize as “urban cool.” Think of the themes to Barney Miller and The Odd Couple. Both of those shows are set in New York. Peter Gunn is set in a city unspecified. Its music reflects some urban cool, too — also danger and excitement, for the protagonist is a private eye.
Many, many readers nominated the Peter Gunn theme as the best TV theme of all, or at any rate near the top. It is by Henry Mancini — who, in one passage, repeated, suggests Ravel’s Boléro (consciously or not, and I suspect consciously).
A long way from urban cool — though cool in its own way — is “The Fishin’ Hole,” the theme music to The Andy Griffith Show. It is the personification — the musicalization? — of carefree happiness. One of its three co-writers, Earle Hagen, does the whistling we hear.
Of westerns, there used to be a great many. And they had music to suit. Perfectly typical of this genre is the theme song to Rawhide, whose music is by Dimitri Tiomkin. He was born, Jewish, in the Russian Empire. He studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, with Glazunov, among others. He was able to flee the Bolsheviks. Once in Hollywood, he helped create the sound of the American West. Isn’t the human imagination remarkable?
4. Oren Cass and Richard Oyeniran are alarmed that America is losing ground in the great semiconductor race. From the article:
The semiconductor industry includes “fabless” companies, which design chips, creating blueprints for the vast arrays of transistors whose embedded logic makes the digital world work; “foundries,” which operate the massive fabrication plants etching those blueprints into silicon; and integrated device manufacturers, which do both. Under the logic of comparative advantage, often cited by economists to explain how all countries can benefit from international trade by specializing where they are relatively better suited, one might expect America to be a global leader in both highly sophisticated parts of the supply chain. Yes, it might make sense for lower-cost Chinese labor to make T-shirts for Americans, but presumably it would be Americans using state-of-the-art technology to put microscopic transistors on chips for the Chinese. Thus the “trade” in “international trade.”
This is not how things have worked out. Beginning in the 1990s, South Korea, Taiwan, and China embarked on aggressive programs to create their own comparative advantage and win global leadership in the manufacturing process, offering generous subsidies for foundries to set up shop. Today, an advanced foundry costs 30 to 60 percent more to build in the United States than in Taiwan, Korea, or China, but not because of cheaper labor or better technology. In each case, the vast majority of that difference is explained by government support. China, pursuing its stated policy of becoming a global leader in all segments of the industry, provides land grants, cash grants, tax credits, below-market loans, and direct equity investments—with larger subsidies available to firms that agree to share their technology with local partners.
American firms have clamored to accept the offer. Domestic U.S. manufacturing capacity grew only half as fast as global capacity from 1990 to 2010, causing market share to fall from 37 percent to 13 percent. What began as losses in less sophisticated segments of the market ultimately became failures at the leading edge, as Asian firms gained experience and expertise. Intel competitor Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) abandoned its foundries in 2008 and now relies on TSMC for all its advanced chips. Though Apple used Intel chips in its laptops, it turned to TSMC and Samsung for the iPhone. As Intel struggled to move from 14nm to 10nm chips in the late 2010s, TSMC passed it and then lapped it again, marking the first time in five decades that Intel was beaten to market. In 2017, Samsung passed Intel to become the world’s largest chipmaker. TSMC’s stock price has increased fivefold in the past five years, and its market capitalization now doubles Intel’s.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. Crowd favorite and major public intellectual Daniel J. Mahoney takes to Law & Liberty to remind us of the importance of the late French political philosopher, Bertrand de Jouvenel. From the essay:
When one turns to Jouvenel’s three masterworks, one turns to much more solid ground, to high political philosophy informed by deep moral seriousness, yet fully attentive to the political stakes of the age. A civilized European in an age of war and tyranny, “having lived through an age rife with political occurrences, [he] saw his material forced” upon him, as he put it at the beginning of The Pure Theory of Politics. Yet Jouvenel recurred to the classics — Aristotle, Thucydides, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Burke, Tocqueville and Constant — as indispensable guides to understanding modern and contemporary political thought and political activity. His thought is “normative,” that is, committed to inquiring into the nature of the Political Good and a natural “moral harmony,” and its accompanying affections, that must be the aim of any stable and decent political order. At the same time, it is preoccupied with the raw and disruptive political behaviors that need to be understood, controlled and “polished.”
Hence Jouvenel’s oscillation between his never-abandoned judgment that “politics is a moral science,” “a natural science dealing with moral agents” (as he put it in a final chapter added to the English-language edition of Sovereignty in 1957), and his search for an accompanying, if subordinate, “pure theory of politics” that would provisionally bracket the high “moral pulpit” of traditional political philosophy in order to understand “raw” political activity on its own terms. Like the unarmed bishop confronting the barbarians as they are about to sack Rome, normative political philosophy confronts “big men with a cruel laughter.” As Jouvenel puts it, the discipline does its best to teach such barbarians the art of “wise kingship.” At the same time, it tends to moralize the study of political phenomena. This tension between the normative and the behavioral in Jouvenel’s political science is a fruitful one, however. As a result, Jouvenel is a master at resisting the dual temptations of ahistorical moralism and a faux realism that forgets that human beings and citizens are indeed always and everywhere moral agents.
The conclusion is clear: Power is indeed powerless when it eschews justice and the real, if indeterminate claims, of the civic common good. Social and political affections, and rival claims to justice, are much more real than power understood as some self-subsisting good. This is why Jouvenel forthrightly rejects “sovereignty in itself,” a moral, philosophical, and juridical positivism that claims that laws are good simply because they have been promulgated by the sovereign authority. That is pure lawlessness and when carried out to its logical conclusion law loses its soul and “becomes jungle,” as Jouvenel writes in the conclusion of chapter XVI (“Power and Law”) of On Power.
2. Old pal Margaret Evans, in her wonderful Lowcountry Weekly column, recounts a strong dream, which prompts reflections on our current struggles. It’s a most worthwhile piece. From it:
I am on record as being highly skeptical of our current “moment,” driven by the antiracist teachings of professor Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be Antiracist), corporate diversity guru Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility), and other critical race theorists who dominate the conversation. To me, it seems high on showiness and low on substance. I’m a “by their fruits, ye shall know them” kinda person, and the fruits I’m seeing out there increasingly include anger, paranoia, resentment, distrust, defensiveness, guilt, fear, and a host of other emotions that seem unlikely to lead us into a bright future of racial harmony.
Reviewing DiAngelo’s White Fragility for The Atlantic, Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter channels my own thoughts, writing, “Her assumption that all people have a racist bias is reasonable – science has demonstrated it. The problem is what DiAngelo thinks must follow as the result of it. . . . She does not see fit to address why all of this agonizing soul-searching is necessary to forging change in society. One might ask just how a people can be poised for making change when they have been taught that pretty much anything they say or think is racist and thus antithetical to the good. What end does all this self-mortification serve?”
“In 2020 — as opposed to 1920 — I neither need nor want anyone to muse on how whiteness privileges them over me,” continues McWhorter, who happens to be Black. “Nor do I need wider society to undergo teachings in how to be exquisitely sensitive about my feelings. I see no connection between DiAngelo’s brand of reeducation and vigorous, constructive activism in the real world on issues of import to the Black community.”
3. At The College Fix, Christian Schneider reports on the payback directed at Yale “Tiger Mom” law prof Amy Chua. From the piece:
Popular and high-profile Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua will no longer teach a small group of first-year law students, an apparent punishment handed down by administrators for allegations that she hosted parties with students during COVID.
Chua rose to fame for her “Tiger Mom” style of parenting, later drew the ire of the Yale campus community for defending Brett Kavanaugh in the months leading up to his nomination to the Supreme Court, and helped J.D. Vance write his best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Chua, in an interview with The College Fix, said she is being targeted with lies and distortions — and that the effort can be traced to administrators who leaked details from her personnel file and informed a student journalist of her punishment before she learned of any of the allegations.
She called the situation she faces “surreal.”
“This is a law school,” she said. “All of us teach due process and transparency and rule of law.”
A day after the Yale Daily News article came out, Chua took to Twitter on Thursday to set the record straight, noting in a rebuttal memo that many believe “I am being targeted by ‘a small group of students’ who have never taken a class from me and who oppose ‘controversial’ opinions I’ve expressed.”
4. At The Spectator, Daniel McCarthy sees the death of the Democratic Party approaching. From the piece:
Simply put, Democrats know they can no longer win by the old agreed-upon rules, constitutional or otherwise. As recently as the Obama years, they were content with a system of 50 states represented by two senators each — because the party still had a wide enough base of support to win the Senate with an outright majority. They had taken control after 2006, amid the wreckage of George W. Bush’s forever wars, and kept it until 2013. Barack Obama’s coattails in 2008 were strong enough for him take off with 57 Democrats in the Senate and a majority of nearly 80 seats in the House.
Joe Biden had no coattails in 2020, even though he won 12 million more votes that Obama did in 2008. The 81 million who voted for him — or against Donald Trump — didn’t give Democrats a majority in the Senate, and Republicans actually made gains in the House. Do Puerto Rico or Washington DC have a better case for statehood today than they had in 2009? What changed? Nothing about PR or DC, but everything for the Democrats.
The party is dying because it has a demographic problem. Long after the culturally revolutionary New Left had carved its way into what was once a working-class party, bringing not only acid, amnesty and abortion but yuppie economics and new strains of identity politics, voters in what are now red states could still feel a connection to the party of FDR or JFK.
5. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière argues that President Macron has given up fighting radicalism. From the piece:
Only one political party dares to speak clearly of the dangers arising from the Islamization of France and radical Islam: National Rally. Its president, Marine Le Pen, is also often summoned by judges and condemned. In 2015, a French journalist compared National Rally to the Islamic State. Le Pen responded by posting on Twitter two photographs of crimes committed by the Islamic State and added, “This is Islamic State”. On February 10, 2021, Le Pen had to appear before a tribunal to respond to a complaint lodged against her by the French Ministry of Justice for “dissemination of violent messages seriously undermining human dignity, likely to be seen by a minor”. In court, the judge asked Le Pen in an accusatory tone, “Do you consider that these photos violate human dignity?” Le Pen replied, “It is the crime that violates human dignity, it is not its photographic reproduction”.
France is the main Muslim country in Europe (officially, 8.8% of its population is Muslim). Islam is the second religion in France, but come in first if one counts the number of active practitioners. Churches are most often empty and the number of congregants is dwindling (since 2000, 45 churches in France have been razed to the ground). Mosques, however, are full and more numerous. The number of Muslims who want to practice Islam is so large that in several cities, every Friday afternoon Muslims pray in the streets and block traffic during prayer time, while the police dare not intervene.
France is also a country where more than 150 mosques spread across the country host imams who deliver extremely radical sermons and call for action against the West. The number of young Muslims under 25 who place Islamic law above French law continues to grow and has now reached 74%. During the last decade, Islamists who have committed deadly attacks in France were mostly Muslims born in France. This was true of Mohammed Merah, who murdered soldiers as well as Jewish children in Toulouse in 2012; Said and Cherif Kouachi, who murdered twelve people at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015; Amedy Coulibaly, who murdered people at a supermarket in Saint Mande, a few days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and Samy Amimour, one of the three terrorists who murdered 90 people in November 2015 in the Bataclan Theater. That makes radical Islam and Islamic terrorism a French problem.
A retired policer officer from a western city, a friend of this enterprise, has cancer and seeks prayerful support. Would you be so kind as to offer a heaven-directed plea for his recovery? This would be deeply appreciated.
Go in Peace, Conscious of the Creator’s Love for You and Yours,
Jack Fowler, who stands at the ready to receive your opprobrium emailed to email@example.com.