Dear Weekend Jolter,
This missive is published on a Friday, the 19th anniversary of the murderous Islamofascist attacks against America and Americans. The attending image here is of a memorial found aside City Hall in Milford, Connecticut. There are surely many thousands like it, in some way or form, in many other places across our fruited and blessed plains. Milford’s memorial has three sides — one each for New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. This side pictured notes the heroes of Flight 93.
One of those true heroes was Tom Burnett. He was a Junior — his dad, Senior, a subscriber (as was the son) wrote to Bill Buckley in 2002, a few months after Tom and others led the counterattack against the terrorists who had hijacked their United Airlines flight. Bill published the note, and an attending transcript, in the May 20, 2002 edition of National Review. We have republished it on NRO. You can read it here. It begins thusly:
Dear Mr. Buckley: On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank you for your tribute to my son Tom [Burnett] in your February 8 letter to subscribers. As a longtime reader and supporter of National Review, I was touched by your account of his heroism on September 11, 2001.
I thought you might find of interest the following account of Tom’s four cell-phone calls from Flight 93 to his wife, Deena, which she reconstructed from memory shortly thereafter.
It shows that Tom was instrumental in informing his fellow passengers of the atrocities that were occurring in New York and at the Pentagon and in leading them to an act of unparalleled sacrifice and courage that saved thousands of lives and spared a great symbol of our democracy from destruction. Their desire to save others’ lives even led them to wait until they were over a rural area before launching their assault on the terrorists.
Please do read it in its entirety.
Never forget, they say. We say. But: What if you cannot remember? Issac Schoor, freshly graduated from Cornell, says there nevertheless remains an obligation. From the end of his piece:
It is my cohort’s charge, then, to serve as a bridge between our elders — those who do remember where they were when the world stopped turning — and our younger brothers, sisters, friends, mentees, and, eventually, children, with no solid memory of it or its aftermath. We can never quite understand what our parents felt on 9/11, but we do know what it taught us: the fragility of our own lives and way of life, that freedom is not free, that our neighbors may very well be heroes-in-waiting. It is our obligation not only to impress upon our younger peers the significance and lessons of 9/11, but to impress upon them their own responsibility to pass on those lessons to people even further removed from it than themselves.
We can never allow ourselves to forget, even if we can’t remember.
Amen. Now, to the Jolt.
But First, A Word from Our Gala
Please join National Review Institute on October 5th for the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner Gala At Home honoring James L. Buckley and Virginia James. You are invited to put on your tuxedo or ball gown, grab a glass of champagne (Your Humble Correspondent will make do with a tumbler of black sambuca, on ice), and join us for a special virtual experience. The program will include opportunities to connect with your favorite NR writers and tune into a mix of live remarks and videos from our honorees and dinner co-chairs. We hope you will join NRI for this historic event celebrating Bill Buckley’s legacy and our esteemed honorees, James L. Buckley and Virginia James. All tickets and sponsorships are fully tax deductible and go to support the Institute’s educational and outreach programs that advance the NR mission. We hope to see you online on October 5th for NRI’s Gala At Home. RSVP today at www.nrinstitute.org.
No, President Trump cannot defund New York. From the editorial:
The administration’s attempted defunding of disorderly cities will probably follow the course of its attempted defunding of sanctuary cities. The administration found that there wasn’t much funding it could plausibly try to cut off. Even the relatively minor grants it targeted have been caught up in the courts, which have often ruled that the executive can’t put conditions on funding that Congress hasn’t already written into law.
If the memorandum ends up being only a glorified press release, that’s better than the alternative, but it’d be even better if the president didn’t purport to have powers that he doesn’t.
A Dozen Delicious Doughnuts Bursting with the Cream of Conservative Wisdom
1. Andy McCarthy connects the dots and finds a straight line from Joe Biden to Black Lives Matters. From the piece:
Wait a second, you’re thinking. Biden’s not with that program. He even says he’s no “radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters.” He’s a moderate, right?
Well, truth be told, he’s a hack. For half a century, he’s blown with the progressive gales, trying to stay on whatever seemed to be the popular side on a given day. In favor of using force in Iraq but against the Iraq war. For the “Russia Reset” after Moscow annexed parts of Georgia, but wannabe scourge of Russia after Moscow annexed parts of Ukraine. Back in 1994, he labored to brand tough Clinton crime legislation as the “Biden Bill”; now, with the Left decrying that law as the foundation of America’s racist “carceral state,” he’d prefer to forget the whole thing, and hopes you will, too.
We could go on . . . and on. But why bother? After all these decades, Biden, most of all, is the former vice president of the Obama administration. President Obama is the only reason he’s gotten this far. Pre-Obama, Biden’s presidential runs were a joke (written by somebody else); post-Obama, his patent weaknesses made even Obama-world lukewarm to his current bid to lead “Obama’s third term.”
The problem, of course, is that Obama got those two terms because of his charisma. His personal attractiveness was always leaps and bounds more popular than his progressive “Hope and Change!” agenda. His historical significance as the nation’s first black president tapped into the longing of Americans to transcend our racial divide — even as his manner of governance exacerbated tensions.
2. When it came time to put a bullet in Osama bin Laden, Dan McLaughlin reminds us that then-Veep Joe Biden counseled — don’t. From the piece:
Joe Biden wants to run on Barack Obama’s record. Obama himself, speaking at the Democratic convention last month, glossed over Biden’s own record while reassuring listeners of Biden’s value as a wing man: “For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision.”
The single best moment of Obama’s presidency was the May 2011 raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. It only happened because Obama ignored Joe Biden when he said, “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.” Biden is all too aware that he got the biggest decision of the Obama presidency wrong, which is why he changed his story years later to claim that he had actually supported the raid. That history is important to remember today, on the 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as Biden seeks to become the next commander in chief.
Biden has four main reasons for embracing Obama’s record rather than his own. One, Obama won two national elections and remains popular with Democrats. Two, the rest of Biden’s career is as a legislator, so his years as vice president are important to evaluating how he would handle an executive job. Three, as David Harsanyi has detailed, many of Biden’s own legislative stances are now sufficiently unpopular with Democratic activists that Biden has felt compelled to renounce them. And four, the tasks Biden handled himself as vice president, ranging from overseeing “shovel-ready” stimulus projects to dealing with Ukraine, are a morass of ineptitude, favoritism, and sleaze that Biden would rather avoid. So why not run on the best thing Obama ever did?
3. Woodward has a book, the Left has contrived a new reason to whoop, and David Harsanyi says we are witnessing a major case of revisionist history. From the piece:
As Rich Lowry points out, other than the early testing blunders, Trump’s statements have been the worst part of the administration’s coronavirus response. New York’s incompetent governor Andrew Cuomo, who oversaw and aggravated the deadly disaster in New York, still enjoys high approval ratings largely because of his press conferences and other communication efforts (with a lot of help from media). What you say matters.
Unlike Cuomo, though, the Trump administration took all kinds of action relatively early. It’s fine to criticize Trump’s response, but I have yet to hear how Democrats could have contained coronavirus, much saved less saved the economy while doing so.
Yet we’ve now gone from “Trump said something stupid” to hysterical partisan accusations such as “Trump will likely shoulder the blame for at least 100,000 American deaths” and “200,000 Americans have died because neither Donald Trump nor Bob Woodward wanted to risk anything substantial to keep the country informed.”
Even ABC News wonders if the disease “might have been contained” had Trump said something different in February. This is unadulterated revisionism.
4. Victor Davis Hanson sees signs that the MSM-charged “racist” President may indeed be forming a color-blind / middle-class coalition. From the piece:
Indeed, some state polls by CNN and Trafalgar already show Trump to be near even in these purple states. The polling also suggests that, contrary to stereotypical exegeses, nonwhites of the large cities in the Midwest are not necessarily a monolithic voting bloc. So how can this be — given the Obama verdict that Trump is our generation’s Bull Connor, and the Never Trump assurances that the divisive Trump lacks the empathy and appeal of a “coalition building” John McCain or a BLM-sympathizer such as a marching Mitt Romney, and lacks as well the natural resonance the Bush family enjoys with Hispanics?
A number of things are going on that may explain some of these apparent mysteries.
One, Trump is finally beginning to reshape the Republican Party into a middle-class coalition of all races, deliberately pitted against the boutique leftist rich people in Hollywood, Wall Street, the New York and Washington media, Silicon Valley, and the Washington swamp. Trump boasts far more about lowering minority unemployment than reducing the capital-gains tax, more about reducing drug sentences than the need for unfettered global trade.
The topic of fairness across class divides resonates. Who after all wishes to listen to multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi rail about masks the same day she sneaks, unmasked, into a locked-down salon to get her hair done on the sly? Who wishes to follow the diktats of self-righteous governors such as Gavin Newsom, who pontificated about shutting down wineries only to keep his own open before being ratted out?
In that sense, many African-American middle-class voters might see Don Lemon as arrogant and foolish, much as white middle-class voters see Chris Cuomo this way. Or African Americans might disregard sermons from mansion-living, cashing-in Barack Obama the same way that white working-class voters in Ohio ignore the grifter Hillary Clinton when she offers them another homespun homily. African Americans might be as embarrassed by Maxine Waters’s rants as whites are by Nancy Pelosi’s — both women are insider, careerist politicians who are never affected by the consequences of their own soap-box ideologies. In other words, there is no reason to be locked into a racial matrix that assumes the proverbial “other” somehow always puts tribal solidarities over class affinities and society’s collective desire to be secure and safe.
5. Mike Brake looks ahead, and sees a police crisis approaching. Fast. From the piece:
We are living in a climate of animus against the police. The result is already apparent in soaring crime rates, most notably in those cities where local police are most heavily under attack with demands to “defund” their departments. It will only get worse. A growing number of cops are going to drive on by to preserve their jobs and their lives.
I know cops. I got to know them during a decade as a crime reporter for a daily newspaper. I know that they are not bloodthirsty racists looking for the next chance to shoot a black man. The ones I knew would have deplored the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I spent time with a number of police officers who had used deadly force — in every case, including two I witnessed, with full justification — and every one of them regretted the necessity of taking a human life and were never quite the same again.
But I, and they, also knew that their job was to protect the innocent citizens who might have become victims had the officers not intervened. Like the 32 children already killed by armed criminals this year in Chicago alone.
6. What may be worse than “cancel culture,” says Greg Weiner, is “conformity culture.” From the essay:
But the intent of those who seek compliance more softly is not necessarily hostile or heavy-handed. They may, on the contrary, sincerely perceive themselves as charitable. The resulting dynamic is less severe and arguably more insidious: those who police, or rather shape, speech not with an intent to suppress dissent but rather on what they view to be the benevolent assumption that everyone agrees with them.
This attitude is familiar in academia and, doubtless, beyond. It is evident in conversations that are not intended to reeducate but rather to reenforce what everyone assumes everyone else already believes. Many proponents of critical race theory — whose animating idea is that race is the one thing needful, the single lens through which all other phenomena should be viewed — are indeed trying to compel compliance. But even more simply operate on the belief that everyone agrees with them. For this crowd, that is an act of sincere charity: Reasonable people agree with me, and the people I encounter are reasonable.
One suspects, for example, that the training in critical race theory that President Trump recently suspended in federal agencies is often less intended to force every individual to comply than to reflect an assumption that everyone already does. True, that gives it a bizarre cast: uniformity in the name of diversity; education centered on what is purported already to be known. But while the tone of news reporting tends to pit proponents of critical race theory against its adversaries, the most common purveyors of the softer approach to conformity may not be social-justice warriors. Warriors relish the fight. This is less war than bureaucracy. It assumes a uniformity of opinion that requires no fight, only repetitive procedures that reflect a victory already achieved. It is a mindset likelier to be puzzled than outraged by Trump’s move.
7. Paul Kengor finds it’s always worth repeating, for the sake of reviewers of his latest book: Marx and Marxism are rank evil. From the rebuttal:
As for my insults and dismissals of an infantile, deadly ideology, I plead doubly guilty, again without apology. Let us say this candidly: Marxism is obviously unworkable and astonishingly asinine on its face. It’s about time we stop hemming and hawing and hand-wringing and say so. Why treat with kid-gloves something so ridiculous and destructive and deadly? Let’s finally admit and shout at the top of our lungs that Marx’s ideology doesn’t merely “distort markets,” but creates mass poverty, despair, and death. Let’s quit treating it like just another belief system and show it for the evil that it is.
Over a hundred million dead and counting. Had enough? I have. I’m tired of playing nice about it. Hilditch suggests that I offer “persuasive intellectual arguments in a winsome and non-sectarian way.” Been there, done that. Where has that gotten us? Answer: Over 30 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, communism, socialism, and “democratic socialism” are surging. Enough.
Hilditch writes that, “The reason that most Marxists want to see their political agenda enacted is probably not that they think it’s evil. They want to see it enacted because they think it is good. Conservatives must work to show them that they are mistaken, and that there are better means to fundamentally good and decent ends.” I’ve been doing that for decades, and it hasn’t changed Marxists’ minds. This book, as the title suggests, is meant to smack them upside the head with the truth that their ideology is evil.
8. Isaac Schorr checks out a study’s whose hogwash claims the riots have been, yep, “mostly peaceful.” From the beginning of the piece:
Has this summer’s unrest been “mostly peaceful,” as some have claimed? A new study from Roudabeh Kishi and Sam Jones at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) has been trumpeted as sufficient justification for the media’s attempt to push this line. Kishi and Jones’s partisan framing have doubtlessly contributed to this misunderstanding. “In more than 93 percent of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity,” they explain. “Violent demonstrations, meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations,” they assure us. More remarkable is their assertion that the media is responsible for the public’s increasingly negative view of the Black Lives Matter movement. They lament the “disproportionate coverage of violent demonstrations” and dismiss the claim that “antifa is a terrorist organization” as a “mischaracterization.” They advise that we not let ourselves be manipulated by “the media focus on looting and vandalism . . . there is little evidence to suggest that demonstrators have engaged in widespread violence.”
While Kishi and Jones may be surprised that the media is more inclined to cover violent riots than peaceful protests, the people living and working in the neighborhoods ravaged by those riots do not share their confusion. For widows such as Ann Dorn, whose husband, David, was killed in St. Louis by people attempting to loot a pawn shop he was protecting, it is readily apparent why the violence matters. Nineteen people had already died in riot-related violence two weeks into the protests in early June. For small-business owners already struggling to stay afloat under the pressure of a pandemic, it is similarly self-evident. In a six-day period from May 29 to June 3, rioters were responsible for over $400 million in damage across the country. As of June 9, 450 New York City businesses had been looted or otherwise vandalized. In Minneapolis and St. Paul — where riots first broke out after George Floyd’s death — 1,500 businesses have sustained damage. As Brad Polumbo has observed, the socioeconomic shadow cast by that damage will be a long one, as business owners will be loathe to invest in an area in which the government cannot guarantee that their property will be protected. Tragically, because the riots are concentrated in urban settings, they disproportionately take the lives and damage the property of minorities.
9. Black Lives Matters, writes Victoria Marshall, fails at a core aspect of Listening and Speech — the need for reciprocity. From the piece:
Chrétien, a French philosopher and devout Catholic, was a phenomenologist interested in one’s personal encounter with God — particularly as experienced through speech. In a 2013 interview, Chrétien said that “the guiding theme of all of my writings has been a phenomenology of speech as the place where all meaning comes to light and is received.”
I bring up Chrétien and his focus on speech because we’re at a point in our socio-political climate where to even question the morality of rioting is off limits if you’re white (thanks to CRT). As a white college student post-George Floyd, I am told that the privilege of my white skin means I must remain quiet and allow for black voices to permeate the national dialogue. I am told my voice is not important, needed, or warranted. To even question a particular narrative is considered a form of violence, and thus, the only way forward is to turn off my conscience and let those higher up in the intersectional hierarchy lead.
Chrétien would call these demands a subversion of listening and speech. In his seminal work, The Ark of Speech, he spends a lot of time explaining what true listening actually is. First, he conceives of listening as a form of hospitality. A hospitable person lets another person speak, listening intently without interruption. If we interrupt or try to finish the speaker’s sentences for him, we deny him the being of his existence — namely, the opportunity to speak the truth about himself. As Chrétien writes, “We do not want to talk to those who know everything all too well, long in advance; we do not want to speak if others are going to finish our sentences for us; we do not start speaking to relinquish the ground of our being. . . . If listening understands too much . . . it tends to become vision, autopsy, a perspicacity that sees through me, instead of greeting me around the hearth of language.”
10. Kevin Williamson sizes up Socialism’s effect on Venezuela: Economic destruction and poverty have won. Surely Elizabeth Warren must be thrilled. From the piece:
Venezuelans have the oil, but they don’t have the needful productive capital, so they don’t have gasoline for their cars or propane for their kitchens. Venezuelans do not have cooking fuel, but, then, they also do not have food to cook: Food moves around on trucks, and no gasoline or diesel means no food deliveries. Tractors and irrigation systems need petroleum, too — try running a farm without diesel and propane. The United States does not feed its 330 million people (and much of the rest of the world) by plowing with donkeys.
Without sufficient usable oil, Venezuelans lack necessities. They also do without the income that they would have had from selling oil to energy-hungry people around the world.
A few stragglers are still producing oil from existing wells. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the world’s most oil-rich country is set to produce about as much oil this year as Wyoming. No slight to Wyoming, but that is not a very impressive output.
What happened in Venezuela is a less bloodless version of what Senator Elizabeth Warren and her colleagues propose to do in the United States. The Chávez’s regime decided to “put people over profits,” as our Democratic friends like to say. Senator Warren proposes to put large companies under the control of the federal government by requiring them to secure federal permission to operate and by giving the government the power to dictate to corporations the compositions of their boards and to micromanage decisions from compensation to investment. You have heard the phrase, “act like you own the place.” Senator Warren does not propose that the state should own the means of production, as in the classical Marxist-Leninist model, only that it should act like it owns the means of production.
11. Tomas J. Philipson and Eric Sun look at the totality of the effects of our COVID policies. From the analysis:
The idea that America has incurred larger losses from COVID than any other nation has been widely repeated, but it’s not true. In reality, the United States has incurred smaller COVID losses than many other countries often cast as role models, once the total cost of the disease — in both lost lives and economic activity — is correctly measured and taken into account. A truly scientific approach to evaluating COVID policy relies on quantification of the tradeoffs involved, as opposed to only considering health losses.
The issue is how to measure the quantitative magnitudes of two separate strands of losses, the cost of disease prevention and the cost of the disease itself, to guide policy on minimizing the total impact. Economists routinely quantify and assess tradeoffs between health and other valuable activities to determine overall costs they impose. Doing so does not trivialize human life but acknowledges — as all of us must — that saving lives at any cost is not practical nor desirable.
Consider a somewhat extreme hypothetical example. Over 40,000 people die on U.S. roads each year, yet we don’t shut down highways. Instead of closing them — and losing all the economic benefits they provide — the government manages but does not eliminate the risks from bad drivers by regulating speed limits, enforcing DUI laws, and requiring people to have licenses to drive. Put differently, closing roads would entail a loss from prevention that would be higher than the value of the lives saved.
Tradeoffs obviously play a role in setting health-related policies. Yet some epidemiologists ignore tradeoffs when pushing for their preferred COVID prevention. They only measure one type of loss in terms of health. However, these medical scientists still drive to work like everyone else, even though their mortality would be lower if they did not. This shows how, in every other aspect of life, common sense balances the costs of prevention against its benefits in terms of lower mortality. But for COVID policy decisions, in many locales, the so-called scientists adhere to unscientific economic claims about the quantitative tradeoffs involved.
12. Jimmy Quinn pounds Disney for its willful blindness to Red China. From the piece:
Disney has apparently turned a blind eye to all of this. Even granting the company the most generous benefit of the doubt, if the crew was unaware of what was happening in 2017, it’s unfathomable that such ignorance could have persisted through the beginning of the film’s production in 2018. Those working on the film might even have seen the camps: On Twitter, Shawn Zhang notes that if the crew took “highway G312 to Shanshan desert where the filmed, they could see at least 7 re-education camps.”
Disney might be the first U.S. company to thank entities involved in perpetrating the Uyghur genocide, but it’s not the first to willfully ignore the situation. Who can forget the revelation that McKinsey held a massive corporate retreat just four miles from one of the concentration camps? Or that the NBA operated a training center in Xinjiang that, unsurprisingly, drew its own human-rights complaints? But the most lurid examples ignore the most widespread normalization of the abuses by multinational companies: Uyghur forced labor plays a massive role in the global textile industry, allegedly implicating numerous well-known brands, such as Nike, Adidas, and Uniqlo.
In each of these cases, business leaders weighed the potential downsides of doing business with Xinjiang-based entities. Disney’s decision to move forward with production shows how executives evaluated that potential tradeoff. That they are willing to accept some level of complicity in the Xinjiang genocide is not news. Just last fall, then-Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is not “something we should engage in a public manner” because it might harm the company.
Capital Matters — You Better Believe It Does
Herewith, a suggested-reading quartet housed in the new and exciting section of NRO.
1. Kevin Hassett has five questions for Mick Mulvaney. From the Q & A:
You were chief of staff when COVID struck. The president took some pretty drastic actions, such as closing down travel with China. Walk us through those decisions.
The biggest surprise is that somehow the left-wing media has spun it as though Dr. Fauci was a sage, and all of our problems today are the result of ignoring his advice. Nothing could be further from the truth. The president followed his advice assiduously, except for when Dr. Fauci objected to the travel bans, or defended the WHO.
Dr. Fauci told me, and everyone else on the early version of the coronavirus task force, to go on TV and tell people not to wear masks. He said it was actually one of the worst things you could do. Listen, I don’t blame him. We had really, really bad information about COVID in those early months, mostly because China simply refused to act like the responsible nation it pretends to be, and the WHO, which Dr. Fauci defended and insisted was above reproach, was in on the cover-up. But I think of those meetings every time I see the replay of Dr. Fauci saying that he has “never been wrong” on COVID. Yes, he actually said that. Unbelievable. Unbelievable, and simply not true. But it does serve a political purpose.
The bottom line is that we were flying blind, again because the Chinese wouldn’t share information. We had to assume that COVID was similar to the other coronaviruses with which we had some familiarity: SARS and MERS. And it turns out that, from a public-health perspective, COVID and SARS/MERS are very different. In hindsight could we have done things differently? Sure. But the president doesn’t have the benefit of working with hindsight. Only his critics do.
2. Steve Hanke profiles the campaign against a President Trump Fed appointee Judy Shelton because she has proven to be a Fed critic. From the analysis:
Shelton is a nominee for one of the two unfilled positions on the twelve-member Fed Board. The other nominee, Christian Waller — an executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis — has attracted little attention. On July 21, the Senate Banking Committee approved his nomination by a bipartisan vote of 18-7, whereas Shelton’s nomination saw a party-line vote of 13 Republicans to 12 Democrats. The full Senate has not yet set a date to debate and vote on the nominations.
In separate open letters, dozens of former Federal Reserve employees and academic economists, including several Nobel Prize winners, have called on the Senate to reject Shelton. Assorted pundits, even here at National Review, have piled on.
The former Fed employees and economists are on the warpath because Shelton is not a member of their tribe and does not worship at their altar. She is unabashedly conservative, with a libertarian tilt, rather than liberal or centrist. Economics is not as left-leaning as other social sciences, not to mention the humanities, but conservatives, especially those associated with Trump, face a certain amount of snobbery within the discipline. Shelton has a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Utah, rather than in economics from one of the nation’s elite universities.
The Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, does not have an economics degree, either. He is a lawyer by training, but his nomination raised few hackles thanks to his reassuringly bland manner and lack of original thought on monetary policy. Shelton has written at length on monetary policy, but unlike many other American economists who have done so, she has never worked for the Fed, and it has never funded her, keeping her independent of the influence typical of those within the Fed’s orbit.
3. The great Lee Edwards worries, rightly, about the looming threat of a Socialist America. From the article:
The grassroots efforts of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and similar left-wing groups are paying significant dividends. In New York, five statewide candidates for the General Assembly who had been endorsed by DSA all won their primaries. Several had come-from-behind victories because of absentee ballots — a key socialist initiative. At least two self-described democratic socialists not endorsed by DSA also won statewide races.
They ran on platforms that included the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, criminal justice reform, housing for New York State’s 70,000 homeless, affordable housing for the poor, and new taxes on the rich and Wall Street to pay for all of it. Their goal, as set forth in campaign literature, is to “advance a vision for a socialist world.”
Socialists found receptive voters across the country. In Philadelphia, democratic socialist Nikil Saval won the Democratic primary for the state senate. Summer Lee, the first Black woman to represent southwestern Pennsylvania in the state senate, won reelection with 75 percent of the vote. In Montana, six “Berniecrats,” backed by Our Revolution, a progressive political action committee, won their primaries. San Francisco elected Chesa Boudin, son of the leftist militants, its district attorney. In the California primary, exit polls revealed that 53 percent of Democrats viewed socialism “favorably.” In Texas, Democratic voters in the primary approved of socialism by 56 percent, a 20-point margin over capitalism.
Socialism is indeed riding a wave of momentum when more Texans than Californians view it favorably.
4. The UK’s push for “net zero carbon emissions,” writes Gautam Kalghatgi, may indeed result in serious environmental harm. From the analysis:
According to PHAM News, an estimated 26 million gas boilers are installed in the U.K. These are supposed to be converted to electric (heat pumps) heating by 2050. Are there enough heating engineers and electricians in the country to implement this? Are households expected to bear the cost of conversion, or is the government going to pay for this? The enormous challenges of rebuilding the electricity-distribution network required by such changes have been discussed by Mike Travers in The Hidden Cost of Net Zero: Rewiring the U.K., a report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation. He estimates that the total cost will run up to £466 billion, much of which might have to be borne by households.
Net zero will also involve decarbonizing transport, supposedly by eliminating internal-combustion engines (ICEs). This will also require huge investments in new infrastructure (as discussed below) but is not likely to deliver significant reductions in CO2. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture would also need to be taken to zero if climate change is the real concern. Globally, livestock farming for meat and dairy contributes about 14 percent of global GHG, the same share as from all transport. The relevant percentages are likely to be similar for the U.K. Also, the steel, aviation, and cement industries, which are extremely difficult if not impossible to decarbonize, will need to be largely shut down by 2050.
Lights. Camera. Kvetch!
1. Armond White finds the new Academy Awards’ rules to be quite Soviet. From his analysis:
Classic liberal Oscar winners In the Heat of the Night (1967), Marty (1955), On the Waterfront (1954), All the King’s Men (1949), and Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947) displayed inspirational social consciousness. They were message movies par excellence, derived from post-WWII conscientiousness and All-American pride. But liberalism has changed and decayed this millennium. Hollywood’s current idea of social consciousness is scolding and authoritarian. Our culture’s aesthetics have been deranged into insipid standards based on what is considered politically absolute.
That’s why the new rules disregard artistry and instead prescribe quotas. The Oscars’ “Aperture 2025” movement insists that, starting in 2025, a movie qualifies for Best Picture consideration only if it 1) features various “underrepresented” racial or ethnic characters, 2) was made by verifiably diverse crews, 3) its production utilized internship programs marked for special social groups including LGBTQ and the disabled, and 4) must be marketed by members of special social groups.
Aperture 2025 bookends the New York Times’ 1619 Project so that film history becomes as distorted as our social history. The Oscars traditionally overlooked movies by auteurs — films that exhibit the sensibility and hard work of individual creativity, especially those films made outside the Hollywood partisan-cocktail-party trade. Now, indifference to singular artistry has warped into exclusionary hostility, under the guise of “diversity,” “equality,” and “justice” — totalitarian code words.
2. More Oscar Quotas: Kyle Smith says the wars have just begun. From the piece:
Standard B requires compliance with one of three options. One is that 30 percent of your entire crew be female or minorities or handicapped. That might be a tall order, what with all the beefy union guys on a set doing physical labor such as moving lights and driving trucks. Another option is to have six mid-level jobs, such as script supervisor, go to racial or ethnic minorities. That sounds a little easier to handle, but the third option is really easy: One department head has to be a minority, and two have to be minorities or women or what the Academy terms “LGBTQ+.” There can be overlap. These departments include casting directors, makeup designers, hairstylists, and costumers. Lots of these jobs, maybe even most of them, are already held by gay men or women, so really the requirement is merely that one of these people also be a racial or ethnic minority. If just one of your department heads is Asian or Latino, you’re covered. How hard can that be to comply with? You could hire zero black folks and you’d still get the nod. I can already hear Nikole Hannah-Jones’s teeth grinding: “Asian? Who said anything about Asian? Are Asian Americans subject to systemic racism in this country?” As for LGBTQ+ people, well, gays may be underrepresented in the National Hockey League, but not in Hollywood.
Standards C and D are even easier to meet than Standard B. One of the C standards, for instance, is: “The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups.” Internships for women or minorities? The major studios already have lots of those, so no problem. As for exterior film-financing companies, if they’ve got the millions to pay for an Oscar-caliber production, they can easily afford a few thousand for an internship or two. Not difficult. A mini-major or independent studio can qualify if it has as few as two ongoing internships, one for women and one for minorities, in any department from publicity to production. Meet that requirement, and every film your company releases meets Standard C. Again, not a problem.
3. More Armond: Mulan comes in for a beating. Deserved. From the beginning of the review:
In the live-action Mulan, a remake of Disney’s 1998 animated feature, the studio’s kiddie-inspiration brand gets literalized. The young female Hua Mulan (played by Liu Yifei) no longer moves with a cartoon’s fantastic fluid quickness or magical buoyancy but is a gravity-defying rule-breaking figure from China’s sixth-century folklore. The voice-over narrator addresses “ancestors” impiously, favoring new social-justice ideas over their ancient moral codes.
A cartoon is not enough for Disney’s latest progressive scam. Mulan’s superheroine role model connects to Tangled and Brave, overusing wuxia– and parkour-style “real” fighting to promote female agency. Mulan’s first stunts crack statuary and crockery. (You can’t have progress without breaking a few rules.) This dull realism supersedes cartoon imagination to produce what activists call “radical imagination.” Disney’s blatantly political intent accords with the trade agreement of a $200 million international production shot in China and New Zealand that can also pass muster with the Chinese Communist Party.
In the insidious “girl power” plot, Mulan rejects domestic tradition and disguises herself as male to join the imperial army and fulfill her warrior spirit. The Yentl androgyny stuff is so tired (including perverse body-odor jokes) that it’s unentertaining — impure propaganda. Female director Niki Caro imitates the ideological hype that surrounded Wonder Woman. Her action scenes bear the smudges of an F/X’s crew digital fingerprints rather than the personally inspired, visionary slapstick of Stephen Chow’s Chinese pop spectacles. By now we’ve seen too many authentic, dynamic Chinese action movies, especially Zhang Yimou’s recent Shadow and The Great Wall, to accept this dross.
4. Rich Lowry excoriates Hollywood’s kowtowing to Beijing. From the column:
It is rare that a studio or producer says “no.” To his credit, Quentin Tarantino refused to cut a comic scene featuring Bruce Lee from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Otherwise, the changes are exacting. Mission: Impossible III cut a scene where tattered clothes hung from a clothesline in Shanghai. Chinese villains are out of the question. Notoriously, Paramount changed the invaders in a remake of Red Dawn from Chinese to North Korean.
Since Beijing can delay the release date of a movie or demand that a scene be reshot, and studios don’t want to deal with the uncertainty, Hollywood preemptively accedes to Beijing’s wishes. PEN America notes that producer David Franzoni has said, “They have a lot of power so you want to try to be sure you have it all down the first time.”
Paramount removed patches with the Japanese and Taiwanese flags from Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket in the sequel to Top Gun. As PEN America points out, the changes had already been made when the trailer was released, meaning Paramount didn’t wait for Chinese censors to object.
Recommended for This Week Especially
Fox Nation has released its long-awaited four-part documentary, The Rising Crescent, about the 1993 Islamofascist attack on the World Trade Center. Our Andy McCarthy — who prosecuted and convicted the Blind Sheik mastermind — has a major role in the series. Watch Part One here.
Liberty and Justice for All
Some smart folks — like you no doubt — find America at a crossroads They demand we take a stand and fight back. Putting thoughts to paper, they have crafted a powerful “Open Letter to America.” From the letter:
Over the next several years, the noble sentiments and ideas that gave birth to the United States will either be repudiated or reaffirmed. The fateful choice before us will result either in the death of a grand hope or a recommitment to an extraordinary political experiment whose full flowering we have yet to realize. The choice will involve either contempt and despair or gratitude and the self-respect worthy of a free people who know long labors lie before them and who proceed with hope toward a dignified future.
In the name of justice and equality, those animated by contempt and despair seek to destroy longstanding but fragile American institutions through which justice and equality can be secured. Destruction of these imperfect but necessary institutions will not hasten the advent of justice and equality but rather accelerate our collapse into barbarism and degradation.
Groups of Americans who today advocate endless racial contempt, who systematically distort our history for political gain, who scapegoat and silence whole groups of citizens, who brazenly justify and advocate violence and the destruction of property invite us not to justice and equality but to an ugly future whose only certainty is fear.
Do consider becoming a signatory. Done here.
Elsewhere in The Conservative Solar System
1. At The Wall Street Journal, the great Matt Hennessey kicks the corpulent tuchus of suddenly woke comic Jim Gaffigan. From the article:
Even in the nation’s bleakest hours, our favorite entertainers have been those who could tickle our funny bone. At the height of the Great Depression, with a quarter of the working-age population officially unemployed, the Marx Brothers had the country rolling in the aisles. Abbott and Costello were Hollywood’s highest-paid entertainers during World War II. This wasn’t idle diversion or dangerous delusion. Rather it was a necessary respite from ever-present anxiety. We can’t live in a state of constant agita. We need a break. To whom shall we turn?
Not Jim Gaffigan, turns out. He and his peers have decided that the times are too serious for jokes. These show people have violated their oath of office. They’re supposed to smile when they’re down. But Donald Trump disgusts them, and I guess that makes everything a matter of life and death.
Instead of lifting a beleaguered nation’s spirits, the creative class makes po-faced videos and posts demands for systemic change. Late-night hosts no longer do pranks and punch lines. They’d rather lecture. Stand-up comics expound woke orthodoxies.
That’s. Not. Funny.
2. At Spectator USA, old pal Deroy Murdock explores The Atlantic‘s Labor Day Weekend truth-twisting Trump smear. From the piece:
The next day, November 11, 2018, President Trump’s public schedule placed him at French President Emmanuel Macron’s noon Armistice Day Centennial Commemoration Luncheon at Élysée Palace. Given what the Atlantic calls ‘Trump’s seeming contempt for military service’, his alleged rejection of America’s war dead as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’, and his supposed desperation to keep his hair dry, President Trump could have sped to Orly Airport at 12:55 p.m., boarded warm and cozy Air Force One, and jetted home.
Instead, Trump stayed in France two-and-a-half hours longer. He ventured to Suresnes American Cemetery and spoke in the rain for 10 minutes, sans umbrella.
“Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior — great, great warriors they are — who gave everything for family, country, God, and freedom,” the President said of the fallen there, from both world wars. “Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they held the line, and pushed onward to victory . . . never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones.”
Fittingly for this beach-going weekend, this flood of facts washes the Atlantic’s Trump-hate out to sea.
3. At Law & Liberty, John O. McGinnis considers the role “Modern Originalism” might play in saving American Constitutionalism. From the essay:
The modern originalist movement has the potential to restore the kind of constitution grounded in the American revolutionary experience. But its success depends on what version of originalism is employed. Some theories of originalism are very compatible with what Scruton identifies as the French version of constitutionalism. Jack Balkin, for instance, suggests that all that is binding on interpreters is the thin linguistic meaning of the Constitution, shorn of context, except as necessary to eliminate linguistic ambiguity. Thus, for Balkin, Article IV’s “domestic violence” cannot mean violence against a member of a household, but we are otherwise mostly free from original constitutional concepts. As a result, under Balkin’s originalism, rights in the Constitution become abstractions without roots in the concrete practices from the time they were enacted. They are given content in any era by social movements which generally move under some philosophical or ideological banner. It is a constitution that would be appreciated by the French revolutionaries.
But even the most mainstream academic theory of Originalism — the New Originalism — can tend in the direction against which Scruton warned. The New Originalism agrees that some parts of the Constitution have determinate meaning. But it accepts that other parts — perhaps major parts — are not clear and thus need to be constructed, not interpreted. That construction can include reading the enumerated rights at high levels of generality or purpose — so high that, again, they no longer reflect the established practice, but some grander philosophy. Using such methods, some modern originalists have found a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution or discovered that the Fourteenth Amendment protects against sex discrimination (despite the absence of a clause in that Amendment recognizing such discrimination).
4. At The Federalist, Mike Davis says the forthcoming elections will mean cementing or erasure of conservative control of federal court. From the analysis:
The situation on the federal courts of appeals is similar. Before Trump’s presidency, Republican-appointed judges were a majority on four of the 13 appellate “circuits”: the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, together covering Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and most of the Midwest and Great Plains states. Judges appointed by President Trump have “flipped” the balance of three more circuits: the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th, together covering New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and much of the South.
New data compiled by A3P shows that if President Trump and a Senate Republican majority are reelected, they could flip each of the remaining six circuits (D.C., Federal, 1st, 4th, 9th, and 10th) to conservative majorities simply by replacing Democrat-appointed judges who will be eligible to take “senior status,” a form of partial retirement. The fact that President Trump could even flip the infamously liberal, San Francisco-based 9th Circuit is monumental.
Thanks to President Trump’s record-breaking success getting conservative judges confirmed in his first term, Democrats now hold a slim three-seat majority on the 9th Circuit, down from an 11-seat lead when President Obama left office. Ten of that court’s 16 Democrat appointees will be eligible for senior status by January 2023, and President Trump would only need to replace two of them to flip the 9th Circuit — something conservatives did not dare to dream of before the Trump era.
5. At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman shows that Jew-Hate is alive and well in the Peoples Republic of Woke. From the article:
The growth in anti-Semitism comes a mere 80 years after millions of Jews were rounded up in Europe and subjected to enslavement, mass shootings, “medical experiments”, and industrial mass murder in Nazi concentration camps, for no other reason than being Jewish.
In our hypersensitive, hyper-racialized “woke” culture, where speaking obvious truths such as “all lives matter” will get you immediately cancelled, terminated from your job and classified as racist, one would assume that the rise in anti-Semitism would prompt maximum outrage. Promoting anti-Semitism, however, rarely gets anyone — apart from the occasional white supremacist — cancelled. This double-standard continues despite hate speech being generally considered completely unacceptable and dangerous, as reflected in the policies against hate speech of the social media and tech giants.
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslim Nation of Islam, and considered by many a professional anti-Semite, has promoted conspiracy theories about Jews. He has called them “satanic” and “termites” and praised Hitler as “a very great man”. Celebrities and others who promote Farrakhan rarely ever experience the public excoriation and the accompanying cancellations that normally accompany people who exhibit such racism. His speeches and interviews are freely available on YouTube, which has dubiously declared that it stands “in solidarity against racism and violence”. Evidently, that solidarity does not extend to anti-Jewish racism. Instead, YouTube relays the message that, to paraphrase Orwell, some racism is more racist than others.
6. Anyone in for a trip to Purgatory with Tolkien? At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce explains the modern novelist’s un-Dantean take on the afterlife. From the beginning of the essay:
J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a dislike for formal or crude allegory, spurning the employment of personified abstractions in his work. You will search in vain in Middle-earth for any giants called Despair or any beautiful women by the name of Lady Philosophy. You will find no knight in shining armour named Sir Reason doing battle with a monster named the Spirit of the Age, nor will you find Sir Reason’s noble handmaid, Lady Theology. And yet Tolkien did indulge himself with this form of allegory in a short story called “Leaf by Niggle” in which he philosophizes on the meaning of life, and the purpose of art, taking the reader with him on a journey through the dark tunnel of death to the mysterious realm of purgatory.
The protagonist of the story is a man called Niggle, a word which means “irritate.” Niggle is characterized by his irritability, especially towards his neighbor, the aptly named Mr. Parish, who is always keeping him from finishing the huge landscape painting on which Niggle is working and which he needs to complete before being forced to go on an unavoidable journey.
Niggle can be seen as a personification of the Artist, in general, but also as a personification of Tolkien himself, insofar as the story can be seen as autobiographically significant. Tolkien, like Niggle, was passionate about finishing his own literary landscape, the legendarium of unfinished tales which would be published posthumously as The History of Middle-earth, and, like Niggle, he was always being pulled away from his work by the demands of his family, friends, and neighbours.
7. We kid you not: Matt Lamb at The College Fix reports that URI is taking down World War Two murals because . . . diversity. From the report:
The University of Rhode Island recently announced plans to remove two murals depicting World War II veterans because it lacks “diversity and a sensitivity to today’s complex and painful problems,” according to the university.
Kathy Collins, vice president of student affairs, told CBS 12 she received complaints because the two folk-art murals portraying life in the GI Bill era of the 1950s “portray a very homogeneous population” and that most of the people depicted in the murals are “predominantly white.”
Collins also told the CBS news affiliate that some students told the school they “didn’t feel comfortable sitting in that space.”
8. At Quillette, Baz Edmeades unpacks the distorted liberal / myth view of “Harmonious Indigenous Conservationism.” From the essay:
It seems like a long time ago. But only six months ago, pundits had convinced themselves that the great morality tale of our time was playing out in an obscure part of British Columbia. Following on an internal political fight within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation over a local pipeline project, one columnist wrote that “the Indigenous people of Earth have become the conscience of humanity. In this dire season, it is time to listen to them.”
In fact, the elected leadership of the Wet’suwet’en had chosen to participate in the controverted pipeline project. The nationwide protests against the pipeline that followed were, in fact, sparked by unelected “hereditary” chiefs who long have received government signing bonuses. It’s unclear how this qualifies them for the exalted status of humanity’s conscience.
Yet the whole weeks-long saga, which featured urban protestors appearing alongside their Indigenous counterparts at road and rail barricades throughout Canada, tapped into a strongly held noble-savage belief system within progressive circles. Various formulations of this mythology have become encoded in public land acknowledgments, college courses, and even journalism. The overall theme is that Indigenous peoples traditionally lived their lives in harmony with the land and its creatures, and so their land-use demands transcend the realm of politics, and represent quasi-oracular revealed truths. As has been pointed out by others, this mythology now has a severe, and likely negative, distorting effect on public policy, one that hurts Indigenous peoples themselves. In recent years, Indigenous groups have finally gotten a fair cut of the proceeds of industrial-development and commodity-extraction revenues originating on their lands. And increasingly, they are telling white policy makers to stop listening to those activists who seek to portray them as perpetual children of the forest. It is for their benefit, as much as anyone else’s, to explore the truth about the myth of harmonious Indigenous conservationism.
9. At Outkick, Jason Whitlock says BLM doesn’t gig a rat’s patoot about innocent black kids. From the piece:
That’s all dishonest political debate. The truth is Black Lives Matter has prioritized the lives of resisting criminal suspects over the lives of black children.
This is insanity. Look at the faces of those kids. Their names won’t be on an NFL helmet this fall. LeBron James won’t mention them. No celebrity is going to insist that you say their names.
You can’t raise political campaign donations mentioning the name of one-year-old Roy Norman. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump can’t hold news conferences demanding justice and dollars for six-year-old Ashlynn Luckett.
But Jacob Blake is a hero and martyr.
Black Lives Matter is a business strategy. It’s not a civil rights movement. Corporations are cutting checks financing racial-awareness seminars and social justice television commercials. It’s all public relations. Or it’s a tool being used by token black employees to play corporate politics. People with limited skill at their actual jobs spend their workday pretending to be race experts. They advise their white bosses and colleagues on how to play the race public-relations game.
It’s one giant shell game. Black elites using Jacob Blake to advance their careers. No one is seeking justice, an improvement in race relations or better life opportunities for at-risk kids.
Accepting the premise that two teams with 100 or more losses facing each other — should that event ever have happened (so rare, but it has) — might constitute what one would arguably consider the worst-ever MLB game(s), the previous edition of this weekly missive, in the Baseballery section, discussed the 1923 end-of-season doubleheader between the lowly Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves. The author claimed there was evidence of similar, prior calamities.
And so there is. As the 1905 season wound down, the National League’s two worst teams played a five-game series that prolonged the suffering for the franchises’ fans. The Boston Beaneaters (they’d be the “Doves” and “Rustlers” before settling on “Braves” in 1912) came to Brooklyn to take on the Superbas (once-upon-a-Dodgers). There would be doubleheaders on Thursday and Saturday, and a solo game on Friday. The Superbas, quite ensconced in last place (60 games behind the pennant-winning Giants), began the week in St. Louis with a set of doubleheaders against the Cardinals — and won three of four to bring a 44-103 record home for the final series. The Beaneaters were heading to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh, where a 1-0, 13-inning victory had boosted their seventh-place record to 50-99. Maybe a sweep, maybe some rainouts, would keep Boston under 100 losses.
Maybe not. In the series first game, before a measly crowd of 2,000 on a chilly October afternoon, Brooklyn battered Boston, earning an 11-5 victory, and handing the Beaneaters their ignominious 100th defeat of the season. Boston’s non-ace, Kaiser Wilhelm, went the distance and took the loss, as his miserable record declined to 3-23, which was not all that much better than that achieved by winning pitcher Mal Eason, who ended the day at 5-21. In the twin bill’s second game, which lasted only 7 innings as darkness descended, Brooklyn first baseman Doc Gessler smacked a legitimate two-run homer in the first inning, giving the Superbas all the runs they needed, or would have, as they prevailed 2-1.
The next day (both teams now holding 100-plus-loss records), before an even-measlier crowd of just 800 at Brooklyn’s Washington Park (there wouldn’t be an Ebbets Field until 1913), history was made. The Beaneaters fell again, losing 7-3, as southpaw Jack Doscher took the complete-game victory (it would prove one of only two MLB career wins) for the Superbas. But the historical event belonged to Boston’s Hall-of-Fame hurler, Vic Willis: That day he would chalk up his 29th defeat of the season, setting a single-season record for modern baseball.
Both teams’ misery would end the next day, the season’s last, a Saturday doubleheader, maybe or maybe not enjoyed by some 2,500 fans. Boston would take the first contest, a 10-4 complete-game performance by winning pitcher Chick Fraser. As the fall sun departed, the second contest would prove another 7-inning event: Brooklyn smacked 17 hits to rack up an 11-7 victory. Assured of not ending the season in last place (the day concluded with Boston at 51-103 and Brooklyn at 48-104) Beaneaters’ player/manager Fred Tenney assigned the starting-pitcher duties to left-fielder Jim Delahanty. He lasted two innings, giving up two runs on five hits. Tenney, who played first base, then took over — in the sole pitching performance of his 17-year MLB career, in two frames he gave up four runs on five hits. Then in the bottom of the fifth Tenney handed the ball to right-fielder Cozy Dolan, who gave up five runs and earned the loss. Doc Scanlan, the ace of the Superbas staff, earned the victory, closing the season with a 14-12 record.
Pre-expansion, it would be hard to make the case for a more dreadful series. But make another case if it tickles your fancy — we are happy to share it here.
A thought: Offer a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul of Tom Burnett, and the souls of all those who died on September 11th, and of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in our response to the Islamofascist threat.
God’s Restorative Peace to All and Especially to Our Homeland,
Jack Fowler, a proud jingoist who can receive your correspondence, sent with intentions good, bad, or indifferent, at firstname.lastname@example.org.