. . . To die, and leave their children free . . .
Dear Weekend Jolter,
Today, Saturday, is the 18th of April, that date esteemed in patriotic poetry, surely a good time to remember those aged, seminal events that sparked our distinct lives of liberty, as free men and women — the rides of Revere and Dawes through the villages and Middlesex countryside, sounding the alarm of the approaching Redcoats, the shot heard round the world (albeit likely from a British pistol), the battles on the 19th at the Green at Lexington (bloody hell for the colonials) and Concord’s North Bridge (our turn to inflict damage), embattled farmers standing under the unfurled flag . . .
The initial fights (the tubercular Captain John Parker to his vastly outmanned compatriots: “But if they want to have a war let it begin here!”) over the essence of our national being — the consent of the governed — began these days, 245 years ago. The toll: 49 Minutemen were killed (some via the bayonet), 41 were wounded, 5 proved missing. A shame their names are largely unknown. (Our Remedy: You shall find them listed below, by their towns). Even more perished in the actions during the bloodied Redcoats’ retreat to Charlestown. Oremus.
It is good to remember why they died. And remember that the consent of the governed remains America’s vital truth. It is not a fancy that goes into abeyance by bureaucratic whim or that can be commandeered by fiat because a pathogen appears.
By the way: In case you were wondering, as surely you must be, the distance between the Green at Lexington and Wuhan’s CCP-run bat-lab — where this insanity began — is 7,386 miles.
There is much below to entertain your intellect.
1. No, Mr. President, you don’t have total authority. From the editorial:
Asked during his press conference by what authority he intends to “reopen” the United States when the threat from coronavirus has dissipated, President Trump struck an absolutist tone. “I have the ultimate authority,” he insisted. “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be . . . It’s total. The governors know that.”
In fact, “the governors” do not know that, and nor does anybody else for that matter, because it is simply not true. The United States is a federal republic in which the national government enjoys only limited powers, and in which the president plays a subservient role to Congress within that limited government. There are many actions that the White House can take in the course of fighting this outbreak, but usurping the police powers of the 50 states is not among them. On this, the Constitution is clear.
It has indeed been galling to watch many within the press corps repeatedly ask Trump why he has declined to preempt gubernatorial decisions or shut down grocery stores when he does not enjoy the power to do either. It was galling, too, to watch many of those same voices erupt in indignation when, eventually, he began to talk as if he does. But that, ultimately, is of secondary importance. It is the responsibility of the American president not only to uphold the Constitution in action, but to proselytize on its behalf. To hear the words “the authority is total” pass the lips of our chief executive was jarring, unwelcome, and dangerous. Now, as ever, “L’état, c’est moi” does not translate well into English.
2. Yes, Mr. President, you are right to clobber WHO. From the editorial:
It’s no secret that the White House got off to a late start in combating the coronavirus. Trump downplayed the threat of the disease even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to brace for an outbreak, and we criticized him for it. But this obviously doesn’t vindicate the World Health Organization. We noted its failures last week.
Tedros objected to Trump’s correct decision to impose travel restrictions on China, claiming it would “have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit” — a stark contrast with his deferential statements about China’s response. In mid January, the WHO announced that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus,” despite numerous reports to the contrary. Parroting Chinese misinformation wasn’t enough for Tedros: He went on to praise the Chinese Communist Party for “setting a new standard for outbreak control.” Later, Tedros overruled the objections of WHO colleagues and delayed the declaration of a public-health emergency, which cost the world precious time in preparing for the pandemic.
Because there are no existing vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19, information is our most valuable resource in fighting this pandemic. Policymakers must calibrate their responses based on data collected domestically and received from abroad. In its capacity as the facilitator of international information exchanges, the WHO is supposed to vet and disseminate data from its 194 member states. The organization fell down on this most basic task by buying Chinese spin wholesale.
3. The worst of the worst seems to the in the rear-view mirror. Ahead: The future. What to do about opening up. From the editorial:
Even when businesses and schools do reopen, they should work to keep customers and students separated to the greatest degree practicable. Policymakers should also be mindful of the fact that the disease hits the elderly hard while overwhelmingly sparing children: Continuing to isolate the old while the young return to work and schools reopen will often make sense.
The administration’s guidelines showcase one way of putting these concepts together. Areas with control over their outbreaks and adequate health-care capacity would start by slowly reopening businesses with strict social-distancing rules in place; then proceed, in Phase II, to more relaxed rules and reopening schools; and conclude with Phase III, in which businesses are back in full swing and even members of vulnerable populations can go out and about with some precautions.
Other ways of attacking this problem, though, depend on technologies and capacities that do not yet exist. A drug to treat the worst cases of the disease would be a godsend, saving lives and reducing the risks of reopening. At this writing there are highly promising signs regarding remdesivir, but we need to be aggressively testing as many options as we can. A good treatment is our most likely route out of this mess.
The Horn of NRO Plenty Spilleth Forth Many Links, Thereby Providing Intellectual Refreshment and Edification by Thee and Thine
1. It’s at times of crisis when our freedoms need to be preserved, writes David Harsanyi, not exploited by politicians who hate to see such crises — what was it Rahm said? — go to waste. From the piece:
There has been lots of pounding of keyboards over the power grabs of authoritarians in Central and Eastern Europe. Rightly so. Yet right here, politicians act as if a health crisis gives them license to lord over the most private activities of America people in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.
I’m not even talking about national political and media elites who, after fueling years of hysteria over the coming Republican dictatorship, now demand Donald Trump dominate state actions. I’m talking about local governments.
Under what imperious conception of governance does Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer believe it is within her power to unilaterally ban garden stores from selling fruit or vegetable plants and seeds? What business is it of Vermont or Howard County, Ind., to dictate that Walmart, Costco, or Target stop selling “non-essential” items, such as electronics or clothing? Vermont has 628 cases of coronavirus as of this writing. Is that the magic number authorizing the governor to ban people from buying seeds for their gardens?
Maybe a family needs new pajamas for their young kids because they’re stuck a new town. Or maybe mom needs a remote hard drive to help her work remotely. Or maybe dad just likes apples. Whatever the case, it’s absolutely none of your mayor’s business.
It makes sense for places like Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland to ban large, avoidable gatherings. But it is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk.
2. Let’s just go with the title of this Jim Geraghty analysis: “Powerful Americans Were Catastrophically Wrong about China.” From the piece:
For the last thirty years, the vast majority of powerful institutions in the United States placed a gargantuan bet on the idea that the government in Beijing could be a reliable partner in prosperity and would be a responsible actor on the world stage. Many leading politicians in both parties chose to believe this, many foreign-policy wonks chose to believe this, many academics and university administrators chose to believe this, and obviously, corporate America loved the idea of both using Chinese labor for imported goods and receiving access to the Chinese market. This includes Comcast, Disney, Viacom, AT&T, and Fox Corporation — the parent companies of NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and Fox News, among other large multinationals that own major U.S. news organizations.
The controversy over the NBA last year was a vivid demonstration that most of these entities were not going to let little things like the Chinese government forcing over one million ethnic minorities into concentration camps or a brutal crackdown in Hong Kong disrupt these extremely profitable relationships. These American companies had gone way too far down the road of partnership with China to turn back now and could do elaborate mental gymnastics to justify why Chinese oppression and brutality was qualitatively different from oppression and brutality anywhere else. This mentality took root at institutions like the World Health Organization, too.
The problem was, the Chinese government was never the stabilizing, reasonable force for order that these Americans wanted to believe it was. We saw the regime’s true nature over three decades of brutal human-rights abuses and censorship and shameless lies to cover that brutality.
3. Jakub Grygiel pens a strategy memo to ChiCommie boss Xi Jinping. From the piece:
Our dead are an insignificant cost for the global gains the pandemic is bringing us, in large measure because our enemies fear casualties more than we do. Europe, the U.S. and the capitalist enemies in Asia have effectively shut down and, inward-focused, have temporarily withdrawn from the geopolitical competition.
Economically, the West is undergoing a massive disruption. One-third of the U.S. economy has stopped, while the federal deficit has skyrocketed because of a stimulus package. Italy, the world’s eighth-largest economy (and the EU’s third-largest) has been shut down for more than a month. It will not reopen before the summer. Similar situations are visible in the other Western economies.
This creates two immediate benefits for us. First, your decision to reopen our economy, even in Wuhan, will allow us to grow economically while our rivals go through a depression; our relative power will increase. Second, there will be many struggling businesses across the West that will survive only if we provide them financial support, allowing us to harvest even more aggressively their technology and intellectual property. The pandemic is opening the doors for us to grab a lot of Western industrial capabilities.
4. A well-informed public, says Victor David Hanson, can make the vital decisions facing America. From the reflection:
Some will claim that pessimistic models were valuable in shocking public officials into draconian measures that alone rendered the virus to the lethal status of a bad flu — and thus must continue. So why trash the quarantines that allowed the discussion to return to work to proceed or indeed give us the opportunity to compare deaths to a bad flu year? Their point is that even if the virus could be found to be no more lethal than the flu, by curbing cases, deaths are also curbed, even if only 1-3 per 1000 infected.
Others will point out that the fatality to case percentage rate is not so important, given that this nasty virus can mysteriously kill on rare occasions those in their 30s-to-50s in a way not associated with the flu. It’s supposedly like a lone sniper that can take out anyone anytime, regardless of age, health, and location. After all, in 2017, when over 60,000 died from the flu, we did not read horrific stories of individual influenza suffering and tragic deaths in a way we daily read in the case of the current infection.
And still more will object that if quite radical changes in public hygiene were necessary just to reduce the virus to just possibly flu percentages, then it is inherently more contagious, dangerous, and lethal.
A few will insist that risking 60,000 deaths is not worth the gamble of restoring the economy, and that by inference our prior reactions to 1957 or 2017 were misguided and only now do we see our tragically enfeebled and derelict past responses.
Those could be valid public worries. But right now, the nation’s purposes are twofold: Don’t escalate the virus into a true pandemic of 1957 or 1918 proportions, and don’t wreck the economy with untold health consequences for hundreds of millions and financial burdens for generations yet to come.
5. More Harsanyi: And now, the real Russian scandal. From the analysis:
Will someone with access ask former high-ranking Justice Department officials such as James Comey whether they were aware that the warrants obtained for eavesdropping on a presidential campaign were partisan documents contaminated with information from a foreign intelligence agency?
It should be reiterated that the FISA applications sought by the FBI were almost “entirely” predicated on the fabulist Steele dossier, according to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Further, the agents also left out contradictory, exculpatory evidence when kicking off the spying against Carter Page. And Horowitz recently reported that, from October 2014 to September 2019, virtually every application for a FISA warrant featured “significant inaccuracies and omissions” and “fraudulent” evidence.
After Trump won the election in 2016, Obama holdovers and opponents of the president in new administration began leaking misleading snippets of the Trump–Russia investigation to a largely pliant media, which used to it fuel partisan hysteria that dominated American media coverage for three years.
All of this then sparked an open-ended independent Robert Mueller investigation that, though it failed to come back with a single indictment against anyone for criminal conspiracy with Russia during the 2016 campaign, succeeded in overwhelming our news coverage and convincing many gullible voters that the Russians had stolen the election.
Seems like there’s a huge and important story to tell here. To better understand how big, try to imagine the firestorm that would consume all of our lives if we learned that Trump’s Justice Department had knowingly relied on Russian disinformation, paid for by the RNC, to spy on the Biden campaign.
6. Obese Chance: Rich Lowry says James Comey should have to apologize for the FBI’s contemptible actions. From the column:
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Russian investigation as launched and conducted by James Comey’s FBI deserves to rank as one of the agency’s great blunders — at best.
President Donald Trump famously calls the investigation a hoax, a label he uses liberally, but in this instance it may literally be true.
We’ve spent years obsessing about Russian interference in our politics, and now it turns out that the original FBI investigation into the Trump campaign that morphed into the Mueller probe may have been instigated, in part, by Russian disinformation.
In other words, the Russians may have succeeded in getting us to turn even more viciously against ourselves and conduct our politics in an ongoing crisis atmosphere — all by feeding a few lies to a private eye hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump.
And the people who did the most to whip up this hysteria were the same ones who professed to be most alarmed at Russian meddling.
7. Dan McLaughlin lifts up the New York Times #MeToo double standard — as applied to Joe Biden — and finds a single one. From the piece:
A remarkable thing happened Monday: The New York Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, actually had to answer questions about his paper’s very different coverage of sexual-assault allegations against Joe Biden and Brett Kavanaugh. It did not go well. It is simply impossible to read the interview and the Times coverage of the two cases and come away believing that the Times acted in good faith or, frankly, that it even expects anyone to believe its explanations. The paper’s motto, at this point, may as well be “All the News You’re Willing to Buy.”
For all their lectures to the public about transparency and fearless independence, prestige journalists tend to be very reluctant to face accountability of their own. Ben Smith, who only recently left his position as editor in chief of BuzzFeed for a perch as media reporter for the Times, deserves credit for putting Baquet to some tough questioning. Let’s walk through the Times’ very belated report on the Biden allegations and Baquet’s defenses of that reporting. The article, blandly titled “Examining a Sexual Assault Allegation Against Biden,” ran on A20 of the Easter Sunday edition of the paper. On the same day, the Times opinion page ran a much more visible op-ed by Biden himself on his proposals to reopen the country.
When Biden entered the presidential race in April 2019, he was faced with a flurry of accusations by various women he’d interacted with over the years. The charges had a common thread: Biden has long been too free with his hands, with physical contact such as hugging and kissing and touching and smelling women’s hair, without regard for their personal space or consent. When the Times editorial board met with Biden in January, it asked him no questions about any of this, but it did press him over not being sufficiently aggressive in supporting Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Tara Reade was one of the women who accused Biden in early 2019, but at the time, she did not accuse Biden of sexually assaulting her by penetrating her with his hands under her skirt, as she has now. Biden has never been asked personally to respond to Reade’s allegation. The Times assigned multiple reporters to the story but printed his campaign’s formal denials without addressing whether it had asked Biden himself to comment. Its report expressed no concerns that there has been inadequate investigation of the charge.
8. More Groping Biden: Alexandra DeSanctis finds that the New York Times’s formal pontificators have, like the parent, abandoned their rules and rationales and outrages established in the Era of Kavanaugh. From the commentary:
Writing yesterday in the New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg exemplifies how not to opine on politics if you wish to be taken seriously by any significant percentage of your readers.
“What to Do With Tara Reade’s Allegation Against Joe Biden?” is the title of her most recent column, and the subheading: “A sexual assault accusation against the presumptive Democratic nominee is being used to troll the #MeToo movement.”
Contrast this tone with the one Goldberg employed in 2018 when writing in response to sexual-misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The title of that column? “Pigs All the Way Down,” and the subtitle: “Kavanaugh and our rotten ruling class.”
Goldberg opened that September 2018 screed by recounting Deborah Ramirez’s allegation against Kavanaugh and, to her credit, noting that the New Yorker had failed to find a single eyewitness to corroborate the claim. But that fact made little difference to Goldberg.
“Regardless of what happens to Kavanaugh, however, this scandal has given us an X-ray view of the rotten foundations of elite male power,” she wrote. “Despite Donald Trump’s populist posturing, there are few people more obsessed with Ivy League credentials. Kavanaugh’s nomination shows how sick the cultures that produce those credentials — and thus our ruling class — can be.”
9. John Hirschauer offers more on the Times’s convoluted ’splainin’ for its coverage of the Biden allegations. From the piece:
In his interview with Ben Smith, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said that the reason he took 19 days to run a story mentioning the assault allegation against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden was his desire to do the necessary “reporting to help people figure out what to make of it.” He insisted upon being thorough — Biden’s alleged forcible penetration of former staffer Tara Reade was, in Baquet’s words, a “fairly serious allegation against a guy who had been a vice president of the United States and was knocking on the door of being his party’s nominee.” There was a lot on the line, and he wanted to get it right.
In his telling, Baquet proceeded with caution and refused to run a “straightforward news story” when Reade first publicly accused Biden of assault on March 25. A “short, straightforward news story,” he said, would not “have helped the reader understand.” And that is the most important thing, Baquet emphasized: That you understand.
I do understand, as a matter of principle, why a news organization would take more than two weeks to report Tara Reade’s assault allegation against Joe Biden. A newspaper should want to take its time with a “fairly serious” allegation of sexual misconduct. Lives and reputations are at stake. Joe Biden is a married man. He has children, and grandchildren. Publishing an allegation of sexual assault against him without first corroborating the accuser’s story — or venturing to find out whether the accuser is the least bit credible — would be tantamount to slander.
10. Conrad Black beats Tom Friedman like a drum over his preposterous “unity cabinet” advice for Joe Biden. From the column:
Tom Friedman the amiable but compulsively mistaken columnist of the New York Times, has produced a proposal for Joe Biden to nominate in advance a unity cabinet, composed of an ideological range of people from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Mitt Romney. This argument, and the reasoning given for it, are so preposterous that a cordial reply seems called for: This is the same columnist who told his readers that the purported Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was an invasion of American sovereignty as profound, outrageous, and threatening as the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. It is the same person who informed President Obama that Obama had created a foreign-policy “doctrine” like those of his predecessors James Monroe, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon (all very successful foreign-policy presidents), in Obama’s case by making preemptive and unrequited concessions to Cuba and Iran. I could go on if there were a need for it.
Friedman wrote in the Times on April 7 that Joe Biden must announce at his party’s convention the composition of an entire cabinet, including a number of Republicans. To set the stage for this dramatic proposal, he laid down the customary Times artillery barrage of aggressive disparagements on the incumbent: President Trump seeks to “exacerbate the worst” in America and it is a matter of “life and death” to get rid of him, as he only seeks to dominate the country with his “48 per cent (or less)” of voters, to “suppress the vote,” and to “squeak by” in gaming the electoral system. Reelecting Trump would be “the moment America ceded its global leadership to China.” Having thus established the necessity of his proposal, Friedman counseled Biden to recruit those who would “believe in science,” so they could deal with climate change, along with people who in the present crisis “took the science of this epidemic seriously” and would be open to extraordinary measures to help the disadvantaged, support the public sector, and ensure universal health care (though not, to be fair, with the Sanders–Warren–Ocasio-Cortez single-payer Leviathan straitjacket). This great act of unification is necessary to prevent “four more years of lying, dividing, and impugning experts.” How Friedman expects to build unity by smearing and defaming the “basket of deplorables” half of the country that has steadily supported Trump isn’t clear.
11. Andy McCarthy applauds the Justice Department for having the back of religious liberty. From the analysis:
State and municipal governments have the power to protect their citizens from the spread of infectious disease. “There is no pandemic exception, however, to the fundamental liberties the Constitution safeguards.” So wrote the Justice Department’s civil-rights lawyers, intervening on behalf of a local church in its lawsuit against city authorities in Mississippi, who had prohibited communal religious services, even though those services rigorously honored governmental social-distancing guidelines.
Faced with the Justice Department’s opposition, the city of Greenville has backed down. The Temple Baptist Church, which had sued the city, will be permitted to proceed with its drive-in services, convened in the church parking lot over FM radio.
The case is a significant one, given the ongoing tension between (a) governmental restrictions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and (b) individual liberties vouchsafed by our fundamental law, such as the freedoms to travel, associate with others, and exercise one’s religion. As I’ve noted before, the history of our country teaches that, in times of crisis, the courts tend to give a wide berth to executive police powers. When excesses inevitably occur in enforcing restrictions, resulting lawsuits are usually not decided until the emergency has subsided.
The coronavirus epidemic is proving to be an exception to this pattern.
12. Kat Timpf offers New Jersey governor Phil Murphy an education on the Constitution, that thing with which he is quite unfamiliar, despite swearing an oath to uphold it. From the piece:
Again: This is an absolute fact. It’s not up for debate, and what’s more, it’s not as if Murphy had no way to know so. Rather, before officially beginning his tenure as governor, Murphy himself took an oath of office that doesn’t just state but actually begins with the following: “I, _____, elected governor of the State of New Jersey, do solemnly promise and swear, that I will support the Constitution of the United States . . .”
In other words? In January 2018, Murphy solemnly promised, he solemnly swore, to uphold the Constitution — and now, in April 2020, he is declaring the exact same duty that he’d vowed to hold sacred to be “above [his] pay grade.”
The truth is, Murphy’s comments represent an ideology that is completely unacceptable for a government leader in the United States. The philosophy of governance that he espoused on Wednesday was that not of an elected official in a free country but of a tyrant. That is, after all, what tyranny is — a system in which the people in power control citizens without any regard for their rights.
Again, I am not slamming Murphy for saying he listened to what scientists had to say when deciding how to best protect his constituents from the threats of a global pandemic. Coronavirus is, for many, a matter of life and death — so I am glad to hear that he’d been seeking expert guidance in making these decisions.
Here’s my question for Murphy, though: Why do you think that those scientists couldn’t just directly put all of these social-distancing measures in place themselves? The answer, of course, is that Murphy absolutely did have his own role to play in the process — and that is, in large part, to do exactly what he himself swore that he would do when he agreed to take this job.
13. Charles Silver and David Hyman say if the pandemic has exposed anything, it’s the lunacy of the idea of national health care. From the piece:
The response to the COVID-19 crisis is a case study in governmental ineptness. In 2006, the federal government estimated that 70,000 ventilator machines would be needed in a moderate influenza epidemic. Instead of going with a large, established device maker, in 2010 HHS hired Newport Medical Instruments, a small one, to build a fleet of inexpensive portable devices. Before production started, however, NMI was purchased by Covidien, a larger device maker. Eventually, Covidien backed out of the contract, no ventilators were delivered, and the government enlisted a new vendor in 2019. The government also allowed a contract dispute to interfere with the maintenance of the ventilators it already had. Consequently, when COVID-19 hit, the federal supply of ventilators was far too small and thousands of the machines the government did have didn’t work. Fourteen years after the call for ventilators went out, the federal government is just starting to fill the need.
What about drugs? Scientists are now studying whether Remdesivir may be effective in fighting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Remdesivir was developed six years ago to combat various viruses, including dengue fever, the West Nile virus, Zika, MERS, SARS, and Ebola. But it was never approved for use — apparently because Gilead Sciences (the patent holder) saw too little financial gain to warrant the cost of the FDA’s approval process. The result is that we are effectively starting from scratch in the search for a COVID-19 treatment.
The federal government also botched the process for creating and administering coronavirus tests. Because SARS-CoV-2 is a new variant, a new test was needed to track its spread. German researchers developed one in mid-January, but the CDC decided not to use it, instead pressing ahead with the development of a separate test. When that test was released in late January, it proved faulty, and the FDA prevented private laboratories from developing tests of their own. The CDC also distributed its few test kits equally to labs across the country, without regard to the size of local populations. The result was a dramatic shortage of valid tests in populous areas, which created the false impression that the number of cases in the U.S. was low. In early March, facilities in the U.S. had administered 3,099 tests. By comparison, South Korea, a much smaller country whose epidemic started the same day as ours, had administered more than 188,000.
14. The churches may be closed, but Itxu Díaz finds the spiritual consciousness is a-stir. From the essay:
The priest presses the button and starts broadcasting the mass on Facebook Live. He stands in front of the camera and starts the prayers when a virtual futuristic looking helmet lit with colored LED lights is placed on his head. He proceeds with solemn piety, unperturbed by what’s happening, but moments later a warrior’s costume appears to cover him. A few seconds later, he’s wearing shades and a hat like the Blues Brothers’, while Super Mario Bros. coins begin to rain down on the church. The priest in question is Don Paolo Longo of the Church of San Petro and San Benedetto in the Italian town of Polla. It’s March 24, and it’s the first time that he broadcasts services online. The good man has accidentally connected the animated filters. Many decades ago, when Don Paolo was ordained a priest, he was instructed in the seminary on the Third Council of Constantinople, Latin patristic theology, the hypostatic union in Jesus Christ, and other aspects of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. What no one told him back then is that he would also need to learn the Zuckerbergian Charismata.
Don Paolo is one of many thousands of priests and faithful who, in these days of pandemic and closed churches, are suddenly immersing themselves in new technologies. They dare to try everything, thinking of those martyrs that, throughout the centuries, gave their lives to evangelize in the most hostile places on the planet, and how a puny technological barricade designed in a place as corny as Silicon Valley would not be able to stop them now. Now the history of the digital crusade is being written.
15. Brian Riedl finds the prospect of infrastructure stimulus will accomplish one thing: burying America in debt. From the analysis:
First, let’s address the affordability assertions. Even before the pandemic hit, the budget deficit was already set to surpass $1 trillion this year on its way past $2 trillion within a decade under current policies. The cost of pandemic-related legislation, as well as the economic effect of the business shutdowns, threaten to push this year’s budget deficit past $4 trillion, or 20 percent of the economy — a level unseen in American history outside the height of World War II. Adding trillions in stimulus spending would test Washington’s borrowing capacity to a point where the Federal Reserve could have to monetize much of the new debt. This degree of borrowing is uncharted territory in the modern economy.
President Trump asserts that today’s near-zero interest rates make such borrowing affordable. But what matters are the interest rates several years down the road when the planned infrastructure projects finally begin pouring pavement and borrowing money. Additionally, because Washington relies on short-term borrowing (rather than locking in low-interest rates long-term — markets have expressed little interest in such a move), any interest-rate increases over the next few decades will raise the cost of servicing the entire national debt. Each percentage point that interest rates rise raises federal budget interest costs by $1.8 trillion over the decade and $11 trillion over 30 years. This matters a lot when Washington is already projected to run $80 trillion in new deficits over the next 30 years, even before the COVID-19 costs. Infrastructure is a priority, and one that should be paid for in taxes and user fees, rather than added to the already-unsustainable national debt.
Second, advocates assert that massive infrastructure spending will stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Economists across the political spectrum have debunked this myth for the obvious reason that infrastructure projects require several years of planning and regulatory reviews before they begin — at which point the economy has already recovered. In fact, the typical environmental impact statement alone takes 4.5 years to complete. After allocating $94 billion for mostly “shovel-ready” stimulus projects in 2009, President Obama later joked that “Shovel-ready was not as, uh, shovel-ready as we expected.” Former Obama White House chief economist Jason Furman and former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf added that “In the past, infrastructure projects that were initiated as the economy started to weaken did not involve substantial amounts of spending until after the economy had recovered.”
16. Isaac Schorr has Taiwan’s back, and argues for the end of its shameful treatment on the global stage. From the commentary:
Taiwan, the small island off the southern coast of the PRC to which Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled after their defeat in the Chinese Civil War, has turned into a model of democracy, freedom, and human flourishing. It has its own distinct culture and does not consider itself subject to President Xi Jinping’s will or state-imposed Thought. Without the CCP running the show, Taiwan has thrived economically. As one of the four “Asian Tigers,” it has achieved a GDP per capita of over $25,000 USD. The PRC manages to crack just $10,000. Its people enjoy broad free-speech rights and are not persecuted for the practice of their respective religions. In other words, it is not the PRC, and the time has come to dispel the fiction that Taiwan belongs to it.
President-elect Trump took a step in this direction when he accepted a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December 2016. The decision was criticized sharply by many in the foreign-policy establishment as a breach of protocol and a break with the U.S.’s “One China Policy.” For those of us horrified by the world’s persistent acquiescence to the PRC, it was a breath of fresh air. Today, with the brutality of Xi Jinping’s regime made plain by its treatment of the Uyghurs and Hong Kong protesters, and the dangers of its long reach laid bare by the coronavirus crisis and the WHO’s pathetic efforts to cover for the PRC’s role in its spread, the time has come to take the next step. While the U.S. can and should continue to reprimand the Chinese for their actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, these lectures do little to deter the PRC, or inspire anyone to stand up to it. Recognizing Taiwan while still acknowledging the PRC’s claim to the mainland, on the other hand, would represent a significant blow to the PRC and send a signal to the rest of the world that the days of pretending that the world is as the CCP says it is are over. Xi Jinping has said that Taiwan “must and will” be reunited with the PRC. The U.S. should say that it will remain an independent nation — and a beacon of hope to those suffering under authoritarian rule.
17. Armond White sheers the sheeple. From the beginning of the piece:
History comes back to provoke us in New Order’s Singularity music video, which debuted in 2016 but has found fresh popularity. Its new viral status owes to deep quarantine viewing. Confined spectators respond to the video’s depiction of isolation, seclusion, and, finally, rebellion as captured in footage from West Berlin prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The actions shown in Singularity provide a strong contrast to the daily 7 p.m. ritual by self-imprisoned New Yorkers who crack open their apartment windows to clap, bang pots and pans, and cheer. The ceremony, supposedly intended to encourage the city’s first responders, lasts only twice as long as a New York minute — shorter than Singularity itself (4:13). This timid, self-conscious group activity has inspired appreciation of Singularity’s nostalgia for genuine rebellion.
The Twitterverse is aroused by envy. New Order, the distinguished British dance-pop-synth band, had commissioned the Singularity video from designer Damian Hale, an expert in live-concert visuals, who compiled clips from B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 1979–1989. That film was a fact-based chronicle of British music producer Mark Reeder’s experiences in Europe’s post-punk scene; its records frenzy, tumult, and chaos. More than a celebration of youthful uprising, it specifically exhibits live-wire reaction to silence and social obedience — a marked contrast to America’s orderly sequestration during the COVID-19 quarantine.
18. More Armond: It may look like the New York Times Magazine is pranking us, but, nah . . . it’s the same old social engineering on display. From the beginning of his piece:
In the New York Times Style Magazine’s current layout of six black film actresses lounging in pastel designer outfits against a faux-spring backdrop, the image looked suspiciously like an old-fashioned plantation cotillion — or like the pages of Vanity Fair by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz at her maddest. The image is so far away from the reality of the film industry’s new race- and gender-inclusion programs that it must be a prank.
Although the article accompanying the photo is headlined “The Esteemed Black Actresses Who Finally Have the Spotlight,” you would be forgiven if you couldn’t recognize Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Halle Berry, or Kimberly Elise — or articulate the basis of their “esteem.” None are stars who have the clout or name recognition to “open” a film with weekend box-office glory. Their Times masquerade is simply meant to disguise film-industry reality with political fantasy — the diversity-and-equality ideal that exists only in the mind of media hacks whose real work is social engineering. (The Style article is part of a discreetly misleading section titled “We Are Family.”)
The pretense that these barely identifiable actresses represent a ceiling-crashing level of achievement seems part of contemporary media’s stealth propaganda — particularly the fanciful side of the Times’ 1619 Project. That notorious agenda, which rewrites American history as having been determined by a slavery-based ideology and economy, has been widely adopted by copycat media and educators, just as the Times’ cultural coverage dictates the culture copy in most other media. The Style Magazine’s Hollywood-harem layout shifts political focus to the camouflage of showbiz glamour and presumed power.
19. As Mag Szeto explains, pro-democracy Hong Kongers are finding an economic way to protest (of note: they ain’t drinking Starbucks). From the beginning of the piece:
Den Law has made it a habit to check her phone app and look for “yellow restaurants” whenever she eats out.
Since last April, when increasingly violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police regularly broke out on its busy streets, Hong Kong has been color-coded: The “yellow camp” is pro-democracy and anti-government, and the “blue camp” supports the establishment, the police, and Beijing.
There is thus also a “yellow economy.” More and more small shops and eateries publicly endorsed the anti-government movement; phone apps and maps began to label them for consumers who wanted to frequent them.
Meanwhile, there were calls to boycott “blue” enterprises and “red” capital from mainland China — which are mostly big, pro-government corporations — to break their market dominance. Some “blue shops” were vandalized. They included Starbucks in Hong Kong — operated by a local catering company — after the daughter of the company’s founder criticized the protesters and defended the police.
While Law sympathizes with those taking part in violent protests to pressure the Hong Kong administration, she said she never took part.
20. More VDH: The Professor has crafted a post-virus lexicon. From the array:
Fish-tank cleaner = an imaginative viral cure supposedly advocated by Donald Trump
Flattening the curve = pausing for the next outbreak without herd immunity
The flu = a federal felony to mention it in comparison with COVID-19
Globalists = now investing in a cheaper Chinese global vaccine
Globalization = We are all residents of Wuhan now.
Gray matter = capitalizing Chinese Communist companies with Western liquidity
Gun control = only for the little people
21. Time to throw out the WHO hash, says Jianli Yang and Aaron Rhodes. From the piece:
When Tedros sought to become WHO director-general in 2017, he met with fierce opposition to his candidacy from Ethiopians angry with his service to and defense of the country’s abusive regime, as well as his record as minister of health. He was ultimately confirmed despite allegations that, as minister of health, he directed the cover-up of three deadly cholera epidemics by simply insisting that they were Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD), apparently hoping to avoid the impact that the public admission of a cholera epidemic might have had on Ethiopian tourism and the image of his party.
In retrospect, that episode bears a striking, chilling resemblance to the WHO’s response to the coronavirus’s appearance in China.
For as long as he could, Tedros was happy to validate Beijing’s clumsy efforts to minimize and downplay the viral outbreak in Wuhan. While China was actively covering up the virus and censoring information about it, Tedros lavished praise on Xi Jinping’s response as “transparent,” “responsible,” and “setting a new standard of the world.” Even as international pressure grew, he delayed declaring the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. When the declaration was finally made on January 30, 2020, he was careful to say that, it was “not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have the confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”
Days later, at a time when China had reported 361 deaths from the virus — and when, we know now, the actual number of Chinese deaths was actually much higher — Tedros, echoing the Chinese government’s stance, remained adamantly opposed to restrictions that would “unnecessarily interfere with international trade and travel” in an effort to stop the pandemic’s spread. Until at least as late as February 29, shortly before the extent of the pandemic’s global reach and threat began to become clear, WHO was still officially opposed to such restrictions. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in turn, was all too happy to criticize the United States and other countries that had imposed early travel restrictions on China as having “violated the WHO’s advice.”
22. Biden’s Ox Gored: So much me the #MeToo movement, says Alexandra DeSanctis, who nails the biased lefty media. From the piece:
Even worse, media outlets lent credibility to the outlandish tale of Julie Swetnick, who, again without corroboration, alleged that Kavanaugh had “spiked” drinks at parties in high school to facilitate gang rape. Not only did outlets report on this claim despite the lack of evidence, but they purposely withheld evidence that a woman identified by Swetnick as a witness denied ever having witnessed Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct.
By publicizing accusations that lacked the most basic aspects needed for credibility, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee jettisoned their responsibility to seek the truth and instead used vulnerable women as pawns in an effort to tarnish a political enemy. In doing so, they made it less likely that subsequent women who publicized their credible accusations would be believed.
A year and a half later, Democrats and the media are again undermining the principles of #MeToo, this time by ignoring and downplaying sexual-assault allegations against Joe Biden. While Biden himself has said in the past that we must believe every woman who alleges assault, he has since changed his tune. Now, he and his prominent backers — including one of Kavanaugh’s most vigorous critics, #MeToo celebrity advocate Alyssa Milano — have begun singing the praises of due process.
23. More Andy: These task forces have a problem with the separation of powers. From the beginning of the analysis:
I am all for government officials’ getting the best advice while making policy in a time of crisis. There is nothing wrong with all these people consulting each other, and if a presidential task force is just an informal vehicle for facilitating that process, I suppose that’s fine.
Still, our system is based on separation of powers. We do not have a parliamentary arrangement in which executive and legislative functions are liberally intermingled. Still less do we have a system in which private actors are advantaged over their peers by serving in the government that regulates their industries. The Constitution makes the separation of executive and legislative authority explicit in Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, forbidding legislators from serving as executive officials (“No Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office”).
Again, behind-the-scenes consultations go on all the time. Presidents prudently speak to legislative leaders to get a sense of what Congress is willing to authorize. The executive and legislative branches speak with outside experts to test the pros and cons of existing or prospective policy.
The May 5, 2020, Issue Presents Another All-Out Coronavirus Focus
The new issue includes a trove of wisdom — much of it dedicated to aspects of the pathogen — and, as is our custom, we provide a sampling, and encourage all those who might in this exercise hit the paywall to finally do what you have wanted to do for months and become a subscriber to the paywall-slaying NRPLUS.
1. The issue’s principal piece is Mark Helprin’s major essay encouraging America to figure out a foreign- and national-security policy that is not reactive but course-charting. From the beginning of the essay:
Fifteen years before the coronavirus pandemic, I wrote a speech for a world-renowned physician who was coincidentally the majority leader of the United States Senate, and thus not without influence. He went, wholeheartedly, all-in, delivering it in the Senate, at Harvard Medical School’s most important annual lecture, at Davos, at the Bohemian Grove (where the only Bohemian to enthuse sufficiently to request a copy was Henry Kissinger), and elsewhere.
And, of course, Senator Bill Frist took it to the White House. He presented a strong—one might even say urgent—case for establishing joint research and vaccine-and-curative manufacturing centers judiciously spaced throughout the country; the doubling of medical- and nursing-school outputs; incentives for commercial pharmaceutical and medical-device research and production; increasing the number of hospital beds; providing for the stocks, structures, and reserve personnel for large-scale emergency field hospitals; and laying up stores of necessaries such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and, specifically, ventilators. Given that the laws of economics were not repealed, the ancillary effect of the supply surge in some of these medical goods—such as doctors, nurses, and hospital capacity—would have lowered their cost or at least slowed its rise. He asked for $100 billion per year. Had spending kept up at that level, which it need not have to assure adequate preparation, it would have amounted to only one-quarter of the monies shoveled into the furnace of COVID-19 in the last few weeks alone. He got a total of $2.4 billion over four years for the Strategic National Stockpile that of late has proved wholly inadequate.
This is the American way, a wing and a prayer. We count on the forgiveness of the vast wilderness and its once-perceived infinite resources. Fail, and you can pick up and go elsewhere, all the while enjoying the protection of God and the two great oceans. But those days are over.
2. Casey B. Mulligan proposes that the pandemic presents an opportunity for deregulation. From the piece:
Pandemics are not that rare (each year there is about a 4 percent chance of one involving the flu), but I do not blame regulators for failing to anticipate this one. They do, however, deserve blame for failing to yield more autonomy to households and businesses, which are keenly aware of their changing individual situations.
When President Trump signed the new deregulatory Right to Try Act, allowing eligible patients access to investigational drugs (drugs shown to be safe but not yet FDA-approved because of their un known effectiveness), many commentators scoffed that few patients would receive such drugs who could not already do so by applying to one of the Food and Drug Ad ministration’s special programs. Less than two years later, Right to Try would make it possible to sweep away regulatory delays in developing treatments for COVID-19. The FDA can do a lot more to get out of the way of medical innovation, which could create trillions of dollars of value each year.
When the Obama administration put “net neutrality” price controls on Internet service providers, it never anticipated that the entire country would be simultaneously stuck at home, requiring that various types of Internet traffic be prioritized in ways that the regulation prohibited. Thankfully, net neutrality was overturned in the U.S. not long before the pandemic. European regulators had to beg Netflix to voluntarily cut the quality of the video it delivers to customers in Europe, where net-neutrality rules still apply.
With the massive 2010 Dodd–Frank law, regulators attempted to prevent large banks from putting the entire financial system at risk. But in doing so, they also piled a multitude of restrictions on small banks, which ten years later would (together with large banks) be prevented from serving desperate small-business applicants reeling from coronavirus lockdowns.
Eager to artificially prop up demand for the new—and expensive—“Obamacare” health-insurance plans, federal regulators in 2016 outlawed short-term health-insurance plans lasting more than three months. Several states recently implemented their own prohibitions. Such plans are inexpensive because they allow consumers to forgo various types of coverage (such as that for childbirth or mental health) that they would not need during their brief participation. Regula tors confidently asserted that few people would need such plans. Yet less than four years later, tens of millions of people would be thrown out of work, with no guarantee of being back in less than three months. In 2012, regulators finalized the re
3. Joseph Epstein offers hosannas to the grocery store and the supermarket. From the end of the article:
While the contemporary supermarket cannot hope to replace the old neighborhood grocery store for friendliness, one cannot but admire what it achieves, and marvel at its management. Some years ago Philip Roth, in rather a boringly standard criticism of George W. Bush, said that he wasn’t smart enough to run a hardware store, let alone a country. I recall thinking at the time what an inept simile that was.
Running a hardware store calls for both detailed knowledge and vast competence. Ask a clerk in a hardware store for a rope one wants to use to hang one’s wife, and while escorting you to the rope section of the store, he is likely to ask you how much she weighs. Running a supermarket takes a wider competence and even greater managerial skills. Think on it. Dealing with that wide variety of foods, cleaning products, items of personal hygiene, plants, booze, and what-all else. Hiring and running a staff of a hundred or more people, upon whom one calls for both efficiency and courtesy while able to pay most of them not much above the minimum wage. And keeping the show running, as an increasing number of big-city supermarkets do, 24/7 (unlike the Hasidic detective, who stays on the case only 24/6). Does it seem wrong to say that being responsible for running a supermarket calls for greater skills and more intricate knowledge than running a think tank or a university? Not to me it doesn’t.
The value of having supermarkets has of course been revealed in excelsis during the coronavirus crisis. Without the flow of food and other products that supermarkets have continued to supply us, the country would truly be out of business. The supermarkets, their suppliers, their workers, have made it possible for the rest of us to keep going. When the pantheon of heroes during the current crisis is constructed, they, alongside first responders, physicians, and nurses, must have a prominent place.
4. Frederick Hess finds the pandemic presents the opportunity to consider the virtues and flaws of public education. From the piece:
In recent years, the socializing mission of schools has faced a two-pronged assault. First, over the decades, attacks by the Left on norms and the American project have yielded school systems disinclined to set forth a muscular vision of personal or civic responsibility. Law suits have left schools leery of exerting firm discipline. Disputes over everything from Christmas to parenting have left educators defensive and prone to political correctness. And critiques of America’s “racist” past have left schools loath to teach history or civics in ways that might appear unduly prideful or patriotic.
And then came 21st-century school reformers, who got so enamored of their push to improve reading and math scores that they often turned neglectful when it came to the social mission of schools. Indeed, after the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001, math and reading scores often served as the definitive measure of good schools or good teaching.
Bush secretary of education Margaret Spellings memorably defended NCLB as “99.9 percent pure.” This was so even as NCLB’s myopic focus on reading and math scores meant that more than half of the nation’s schools were labeled as “failing”—at a time when most parents continued to give their local schools an “A” or a “B.” Obama secretary of education Arne Duncan similarly insisted, “If we know how much students are gaining each year . . . we will know which teachers and principals are succeeding.” This became so familiar that it was easy to stop noticing how bizarre it was to see public officials labeling schools as “successful” or “failing” without regard to what parents thought, the status of civics or citizenship instruction, or anything other than reading and math scores.
Fast-forward to today: The striking thing about the pandemic-induced school shutdown is how little of the response to it had to do with the way we’ve talked about schools for most of the past two decades. In a matter of weeks, coronavirus-fueled closures reminded everyone of all the purposes that schools serve that aren’t captured by test scores. In fact, one of current secretary of education Betsy DeVos’s first, and most popular, moves was to waive the federal requirement for state testing.
1. Jim Jam Jumpin’ Jive Jeff Blehar and Scotty Wotty Doo Doo Bertram, we pray got over the disappointment of having been forgotten in this section last week, have the great Cam “Bang-Bang” Edwards as their guest for the new episode of Political Beats, wherein they discuss Fountains of Wayne. Unholster the headphones and listen here.
2. On the latest episode of Radio Free California, Will and David are found to be bullish on California, and maybe even on humanity? And get this: They find that San Francisco provides hope. If you are going to catch something, catch it here.
3. But Wait, There’s More: Just in as we send this off to Editor Phil, Episode 115 of RFC breaks, with Will and constitutional scholar John C. Eastman talking about the limits of a governor’s power to shut down an entire state economy. The bad news: We may be laying the legal foundations for another, more political shutdown in the future. Assemble here and bring your eardrums.
4. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss new developments in the Russia–Trump collusion narrative, coronavirus’s effects on religious liberty, Trump’s attempts to pull funding from the WHO, and much more. Listen here.
5. On The Editors, Rich, Charlie, and Michael discuss President Trump’s pressers, his tenuous relationship with Dr. Fauci, and more. Wisdom is to be had by listening here.
6. Podcasting machine John J. Miler is joined by Francesca Wade to discuss Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night on the new episode of The Great Books. Extra credit is to be had by merely attending.
7. Then JJM pivots to The Bookmonger, where he is joined by Matthew Algeo to discuss his book, All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy’s 1968 Tour of Appalachia. Listen up here.
8. At Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss what power the president actually has, and the mainstream media’s double standards when it comes to reporting on sexual assault allegations. All heard here.
9. Episode 11 of The Victor Davis Hanson Podcast features the show’s namesake, easily outmaneuvering his inadequate and slow-witted cohost, discussing all things COVID-19, media slandering, Trump’s political health, Andrew Cuomo’s performances, Fauci replays, a Devil’s Dictionary, and much more. Whew! Get your edjamakation here.
1. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière profiles the French government’s coronavirus disaster. From the article:
The first bad decision was that, in contrast to European Union fantasies, borders apparently do matter. France never closed them; instead it allowed large numbers of potential virus-carriers to enter the country. Even when it became clear that in Italy the pandemic was taking on catastrophic proportions, France’s border with Italy remained open. The Italian government, by contrast, on March 10, prohibited French people coming to its territory or Italians going to France, but to date, France has put no controls on its side of the border.
The situation is the same on France’s border with Spain, despite the terrifying situation there. Since March 17, it has been virtually impossible to go from France to Spain, but coming to France from Spain is easy: you just show a police officer your ID. The same goes for France’s border with Germany. On March 16, Germany closed its border with France, but France declined to do the same for its border with Germany. When, on February 26, a soccer match between a French team and an Italian team took place in Lyon, the third-largest city in France, 3,000 Italian supporters attended, even though patients were already flocking to Italy’s hospitals.
France never closed its airports; they are still open to “nationals of EEA Member States, Switzerland, passengers with a British passport, and those with residence permits issued by France” and healthcare professionals. Earlier, until the last days of March, people arriving from China were not even subject to health checks. French people in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated, were repatriated by a military plane, and, upon their arrival in France, were placed in quarantine. While Air France interrupted its flights to China on January 30, Chinese and other airlines departing from Shanghai and Beijing continue to land in France.
French President Emmanuel Macron summarized France’s official position on the practice: “Viruses do not have passports,” he said. Members of the French government repeated the same dogma. A few commentators reminded them that viruses travel with infected people, who can be stopped at borders, and that borders are essential to stop or slow the spread of a disease, but the effort was useless. Macron ended up saying that the borders of the Schengen area (26 European states that have officially abolished all passport and border control with one another) could not be shut down and raged at other European leaders for reintroducing border checks between the Schengen area member countries. “What is at stake,” he said, seemingly more concerned with the “European project” than with the lives of millions of people, “is the survival of the European project.”
2. More Gatestone: Con Coughlin argues that WHO’s China-lackey boss needs to resign. From the article:
Much of the blame, moreover, for the WHO’s dire performance during the outbreak is being blamed on Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general. A former Ethiopian health minister, he first came to prominence in his home country when he served on the politburo of the Marxist-Leninist Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Dr Tedros was previously a great admirer of former Rhodesian dictator Robert Mugabe, even appointing him as a goodwill ambassador for the WHO, a decision he was forced to revoke following an international outcry.
Like Mr Mugabe, Dr Tedros has enjoyed a good relationship with China’s ruling communist party, and he won election to his current position after receiving backing from China in the May 2017 election.
His long-standing relationship with Beijing might help to explain why the WHO has been so accommodating to China even though the coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan. Rather than criticising Beijing for its initial attempts to cover up the outbreak, Dr Tedros instead praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his “very rare leadership”, and China for showing “transparency” in its response to the virus.
3. In Commentary, James Meigs checks out the different reactions to disasters from elites and the general populace. From the essay:
As in war, the first casualty in disasters is often the truth. One symptom of elite panic is the belief that too much information, or the wrong kind of information, will send citizens reeling. After the 2011 tsunami knocked out Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials gave a series of confusing briefings. To many, they seemed to be downplaying the amount of radiation released in the accident. In the end, the radiation risks turned out to be much lower than feared, resulting in no civilian deaths. But, by then, the traumatized public had lost faith in any official statements. As one team of researchers notes, any “perceived lack of information provision increases public anxiety and distrust.”
Elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory quirk on the part of some authorities: a tendency to believe the worst about their own citizens. In the midst of the Hurricane Katrina crisis in 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin found time to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show and lament “hooligans killing people, raping people” in the Superdome. Public officials and the media credulously repeated rumors about street violence, snipers shooting at helicopters, and hundreds of bodies piled in the Superdome. These all turned out to be wild exaggerations or falsehoods (arguably tinged by racism). But the stories had an impact: Away from the media’s cameras, a massive rescue effort—made up of freelance volunteers, Coast Guard helicopters, and other first responders—was underway across the city. But city officials, fearing attacks on the rescuers, frequently delayed these operations. They ordered that precious space in boats and helicopters be reserved for armed escorts.
Too often, the need to “avoid panic” serves as a retroactive justification for all manner of official missteps. In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic was climbing toward its crest in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to defend his record. Host Jake Tapper pressed the mayor on his many statements—as recently as two weeks earlier—urging New Yorkers to “go about their lives.” Tapper asked whether those statements were “at least in part to blame for how the virus has spread across the city.” De Blasio didn’t give an inch. “Everybody was working with the information we had,” he explained, “and trying, of course, to avoid panic.” How advising people to avoid bars and Broadway shows would have been tantamount to panic was left unexplained.
4. At Law & Liberty, James Rogers says America’s consumption drive is not necessarily a function of market capitalism. From the piece:
A notable chapter in Deirdre McCloskey’s 2019 book, Why Liberalism Works, presents her response to the oft-repeated belief that the sustainability of market capitalism requires always-increasing levels of consumption and growth. Like a giant pyramid scheme, the argument goes, if the coveting and obsessive consumption end, the whole system would collapse.
We see variants of this claim repeated endlessly on the left as well as on the post-liberal right. On the Marxian left we get theoretical arguments of the ultimate disequilibrium of market economies. Among left-wing neo-Romantic postliberals, we get criticisms of consumer society and the degradation that capitalism’s growth culture wreaks on both the soul and the environment. Right-wing neo-Romantic postliberals sing pretty much the same song. Patrick Deneen argues that liberalism’s bargain that receives “the population’s full acquiescence” is one that promises “the ongoing delivery of increasing material prosperity for every member of society.” Similarly, John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, never resisting the opportunity for florid overstatement, write of the need in capitalist systems for:
the oligarchy [to] seduce the masses to consume more and more shoddy goods whose appeal will, indeed, soon pale—causing them to seek to earn more in order to be able to buy a new variant or new seductive novelty.
Not so, suggests McCloskey. And, actually, the substance of McCloskey’s response is obvious. Yet I recall few other authors taking the point seriously enough to respond to it. Given the incessant repetition of the criticism among post- and anti-liberals, and how very incorrect it is, it undoubtedly has been a mistake to let it go largely unanswered. McCloskey remedies that oversight.
5. At Real Clear History, Francis Sempa recounts how the great James Burnham and Whittaker Chambers had Joseph Stalin’s number. From the reflection:
Stalin’s moves were not defensive, as many then and since have claimed. Instead, Burnham claimed, they fit within his “geopolitical vision.” That vision, Burnham explained, corresponded to geopolitical concepts first developed by Britain’s Halford Mackinder. “Starting from the magnetic core of the Eurasian heartland,” Burnham wrote, “the Soviet power . . . flows outward, west into Europe, south into the Near East, east into China, . . . lapping the shores of the Atlantic, the Yellow and China Seas, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf.” Stalin, Burnham wrote, has absorbed the Baltics and Poland, dominated Finland, the Balkans, and northern China, spread communist influence in Italy, France, Turkey, Iran, and the rest of China, and sought to infiltrate England and the United States. Moreover, Stalin’s goal is not to destroy nationalism where Soviet forces conquer, but instead to fuse nationalism within the communist movement worldwide.
Trotsky, Burnham noted, believed that he, not Stalin, was Lenin’s true heir. Burnham ridiculed that notion. Stalin was Lenin’s heir. “There is nothing basic that Stalin has done,” Burnham explained, “. . . from the institution of terror as the primary foundation of the state to the assertion of a political monopoly, the seeds and even the shoots of which were not planted and flourishing under Lenin.” “Stalin,” Burnham concluded, “is Lenin’s heir. Stalinism is communism.” This was the “indispensible truth” for the West to understand as it approached the postwar world.
Around the same time that Burnham’s “Lenin’s Heir” appeared in Partisan Review, another former ex-communist named Whittaker Chambers wrote an article in Time entitled “The Ghosts on the Roof.” Chambers (1901-61) turned to Marxism in the mid-to-late 1920s, and became an underground communist courier of classified American government documents in the 1930s. Like Burnham, he broke with communism in the late 1930s, though for different reasons, and became a writer and editor at Time magazine. After twice unsuccessfully trying to persuade the Roosevelt administration to recognize and do something about communist infiltration of the government both before and during the war, Chambers used his platform at Time to expose the truths about our communist wartime ally.
6. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer levels the guns and fires away at the inherent evil of imperialism. From the essay:
Let me begin this essay by simply throwing down the gauntlet. American imperialists—of whatever political persuasion or ideology—are not only traitors to the American cause and in violation of the deepest meanings and profundities of the American ideal, they are also embracing demonic goals of remaking the world in their own image, thus trampling on the dignity of the human person. Phew.
Two years ago, I published an essay here on the “maliciousness” of progressive-era imperialism. A little over a year before that, I published an essay attempting to “restore the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers.” As desirous as I am of reminding our world of the goals and significances of the American republic, I fear I’ve had absolutely no influence on modern conservatism. Probably there will be no great weeping over Birzer’s inability to play prophet, but such is life (and, yes; no worries, I’m quite aware of my limitations).
Still, I want to proclaim these things yet again, whether conservatism listens or not.
This current essay is in the line of those previous ones—a howl against the wind. First, the founding fathers, it should be remembered, argued quite clearly for commerce with all, but entangling alliances with none. Washington and Jefferson each said this repeatedly and clearly. And, even the most cursory glance at and over the great documents of the Founding—the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Constitution of 1787—were never created for imperialism. Indeed, given the Indian Wars and the American Civil War, it’s not even clear they were made for frontier expansion, at least in the time frame in which such expansion occurred.
He was the quintessential 1960s American League shortstop, but what proves of particular interest to This Scribbler is that Ron Hansen played in the Washington Seantors’ last game.
Hansen came up in the late 1950s with the Baltimore Orioles, and in 1960, his first full season, he played in both All Star games and won the AL Rookie of the Year award, hitting .252 and smacking 22 home runs while driving in 86 runs. The Os finished in second place — the first time since 1944 when the franchise (then the beloved St. Louis Browns) had a first-division finish — trailing the Yankees by 8 games. The team’s final series was played down the road in Washington, at aging Griffith Stadium against the fifth-place Senators, and in the season’s last game, the Orioles prevailed, 2–1. Hansen went 0 for 4.
It was to be the last game played in Washington, or anywhere, by the original Senators: Later that month, the American League approved the franchise’s move to Minneapolis, where the old Senators became the new Twins.
The league also approved the creation of a new franchise . . . in Washington . . . named the Senators. They would not last long in the capital. On September 21, 1971, the new Senators’ ownership announced that the franchise would be relocating to Arlington, Texas — a move that infuriated the fan base, which still had a few home-game opportunities to show their displeasure. Which they did in the final game, played on Thursday night, September 30, against the Yankees, with the Senators prevailing 7–5, except: The game was famously forfeited to the Bronx Bombers when, with two outs in the ninth, fans stormed the field and refused to let the game conclude.
Playing third base that night for the Yankees? Ron Hansen. Once again, he went 0-for-4 in a Washington Senators last game.
Of topic-related interest: The Yankees’ starting pitcher that night was Mike Kekich. As a rookie in 1965, called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kekich pitched in the last game ever played by the Milwaukee Braves (the franchise relocated in 1966 to Atlanta). Infamous for his wife swap with Fritz Peterson, in 1977 Kekich also pitched in the second game ever played for the expansion Seattle Mariners.
More of related interest: Gene Woodling, by then roaming the outfield for the Orioles, also played in that 1960 last game against the original Washington Senators. And then in 1961, drafted by the expansion replacement team, he appeared in the first game of the new Senators (he went 1-for-4, with 2 RBIs).
Back to Hansen: Like many an AL shortstops of the 1960s — let’s pick on Ray Oyler, Ed Brinkman, Larry Brown, and Ruben Amaro — he proved to be a weak hitter (his BA was under .200 in four seasons over a 15-year career, which also included stints with the White Sox, Senators, and Royals). But Hansen was an exceptional fielder, who participated in one of baseball’s rarest moments: On July 30, 1968, playing for the Senators, Hansen grabbed Cleveland Indians catcher Joe Azcue’s line drive to turn an unassisted triple play.
In gratitude for the feat, two days later, the Senators traded Hansen to the White Sox.
The Colonial American Dead, Wounded, and Missing at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as Described in Frank Warren Coburn’s 1912 Book, The Battles of April 19, 1775
Acton. Killed: Capt. Isaac Davis, James Hayward, Abner Hosmer. Wounded: Luther Blanchard and Ezekiel Davis.
Arlington. Killed: Jason Russell, Jason Winship, Jabez Wyman. Wounded: Samuel Whittemore.
Bedford. Killed: Captain Jonathan Willson. Wounded: Job Lane.
Beverly. Killed: Reuben Kennison. Wounded: Nathaniel Cleaves, William Dodge, 3rd, Samuel Woodbury.
Billerica. Wounded: Timothy Blanchard, John Nichols.
Brookline. Killed: Major Isaac Gardner.
Cambridge. Killed: John Hicks, William Marcy, Moses Richardson. Missing: Samuel Frost, Seth Russell.
Concord. Wounded: Capt. Nathan Barrett, Jonas Brown, Capt. Charles Miles, Capt. George Minot, Abel Prescott, Jr.
Charlestown. Killed: Edward Barber.
Chelmsford. Wounded: Oliver Barron, Aaron Chamberlain.
Danvers. Killed: Samuel Cook, Benjamin Daland, Ebenezer Goldthwait, Henry Jacobs, Perley Putnam, George Southwick, Jotham Webb. Wounded: Nathan Putnam, Dennison Wallis. Missing: Joseph Bell.
Dedham. Killed: Elias Haven. Wounded: Israel Everett.
Framingham. Wounded: Daniel Hemenway.
Lexington. Killed: John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathan Harrington, Jr., Jedediah Munroe, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzy, Jonas Parker, John Raymond, Nathaniel Wyman. Wounded: Francis Brown, Joseph Comee, Prince Estabrook, Nathaniel Farmer, Ebenezer Munroe, Jr., Jedediah Munroe (killed later), Solomon Pierce, John Robbins, John Tidd, Thomas Winship.
Lincoln. Wounded: Joshua Brooks.
Lynn. Killed: William Flint, Thomas Hadley, Abednego Ramsdell, Daniel Townsend. Wounded: Joshua Felt, Timothy Monroe. Missing: Josiah Breed.
Medford. Killed: William Polly, Henry Putnam.
Needham. Killed: Lieut. John Bacon, Nathaniel Chamberlain, Amos Mills, Sergt. Elisha Mills, Jonathan Parker. Wounded: Eleazer Kingsbury, —— Tolman (son of Dr. Tolman).
Newton. Wounded: Noah Wiswell.
Roxbury. Missing: Elijah Seaver.
Salem. Killed: Benjamin Pierce.
Somerville. Killed: James Miller.
Sudbury. Killed: Josiah Haynes, Asahel Reed. Wounded: Joshua Haynes, Jr.
Stow. Wounded: Daniel Conant.
Watertown. Killed: Joseph Coolidge.
Woburn. Killed: Asahel Porter, Daniel Thompson. Wounded: Jacob Bacon, —— Johnson, George Reed.
The pastor called Your Insipid Correspondent, who has fooled parishioners into believing he can carry a tune and even a hymn. The request came on Saturday afternoon last — come tonight to church and sing The Exsultet at a private Easter Vigil Mass. And then on Easter morning too — come again and sing a hymn or three there. Orders given, orders followed, hymns belted, The Fortunate Cantor conscious of the emptiness of God’s House, conscious of his own attendance, sung on behalf of the many who could not be present, at this or any church.
Easter brought its joys, but also sad news: Neighbor and fellow parishioner Sil, father of four, reader of our website, had fallen that day to the pathogen. Cremated, buried, without prayer or service — take a bow, Chairman Xi. We will soon enough sing for your soul at a Memorial Mass. In the meanwhile, we pray he rests in peace — along with all the many others stricken down by this beast, and other illnesses, and that God protects those left behind. May they all, and we all of us, meet again, or even for the first time, one joyful day in the Paradise promised to even the Good Thief.
God’s Love and Graces to All,
Jack Fowler, who will receive critical reviews of his croonery at firstname.lastname@example.org.