Dear Weekend Jolter,
Herewith a new way of presenting this prattle. The E-Mail Gods have frowned on the monumentality of the WJ, so, forced to improvise, we propose a new format, as follows: 1) The Blathering Author will give a short kick-off spiel, and then 2) a variety of linkage (sans excerpts — but don’t fret!) to just-NR stuff will be presented, and then 3) a READ THE WEEKEND JOLT IN ALL ITS USUAL VOLUMINOUS GLORY HERE link will await you all, or, as Joe Biden might pronounce it, y’awl, so 4) you can enjoy the excerpts and the many other goodies we try to provide here every seven days.
That said, let The Blatherer’s Blathering commence.
Our Fearless Leader, Rich Lowry, is likely not too confident that Donald Trump will win enough Electoral College votes to secure a second term, but he is confident that, should Trump prevail, it will represent Americans (enough of them anyway) bird-flipping “a gigantic rude gesture directed at the commanding heights of American culture.” Personally, Your Humble Scribbler prefers the late Justice Scalia’s iconic chin-flick, but the middle digit sends the same message. Here is a slice from Rich’s new column:
No one is voting for his barely sketched-out second-term agenda.
If he wins, it will be despite all that. An enormous factor would be that Trump is the only way for his voters to say to the cultural Left, “No, sorry, you’ve gone too far.”
Besides the occasional dissenting academic and brave business owner or ordinary citizen, Trump is, for better or worse, the foremost symbol of resistance to the overwhelming woke cultural tide that has swept along the media, academia, corporate America, Hollywood, professional sports, the big foundations, and almost everything in between.
He’s the vessel for registering opposition to everything from the 1619 Project to social media’s attempted suppression of the Hunter Biden story.
To put it in blunt terms, for many people, he’s the only middle finger available — to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture.
May America prove ambidextrous and use both middle fingers.
Now, get thee to a Compacted Joltery.
1. Joe Biden’s energy policy would destroy America’s energy renaissance: The editorial
2. Californians Should Vote Against Legalizing Race Discrimination. The editorials
A Basket Brimming with Halloween Treats for the Conservative Intellect
1. Former Senator Orrin Hatch calls for a Constitutional amendment to confront the threat of court-packing: Avoiding Judicial Armageddon
2. As Andrew C. McCarthy sees it, a decision-ducking and intimidated SCOTUS will allow for ballot mayhem: Rolling the Dice on Chaos, Supreme Court Ducks Election-Law Cases
3. Jack Crowe reports on the telling resignation of Glenn Greenwald from the allegedly unfettered-journalism website he founded: No Newsroom Is Safe if The Intercept Can Fall Victim to Media Groupthink
4. Kevin Williamson wonders if “offensive” cartoons are the real root cause of terrorist murders Charlie Hebdo, the Patsy
5. Kyle Smith profiles the two Joe Bidens: Joe the Chameleon
6. Tobias Hoonhout reports on the cloak-and-dagger ascendancy in cable-news punditry: How the Media Enlisted the Intel Community as Partisan Pundits
7. Jimmy Quinn profiles Matthew Pottinger, a key player in the Trump administration’s adversarial approach to Red China. Meet the Trump Official Calling Beijing’s Bluff
8. Erin Hawley profiles another pathetic cave-in to ideological groupthink: Even the Girl Scouts Abandon Justice Barrett
9. Ambassador Kelley Currie makes the case for American investment in female leadership. Women, Peace, and Security: This Is How We Win
10. Armond White zings Stevie Nicks, crooner and partisan lecturer. Stevie Nicks, Like Springtsteen, Preaches and Preens
11. More Armond: Native Son is re-released, and our critic recalls the movie’s failure to capture the book’s anti-Communism. Richard Wright’s Native Son, Re-released for the BLM Era
12. When Harry Met Sanctimony: John Loftus catches two hacks on a Zoom: A Surreal Evening with Andrew Cuomo and Billy Crystal
13. Brian Allen visits a very unique museum, about a very unique actress: Ava Gardner, Unapologetic Sexpot, Still Bewitches
14. Pradheep J. Shanker and Kirti Shanker plot out how America should plan for pandemics. Reimagining America’s Infectious-Disease Defense
15. Steven Camorota explains the President’s immigration-policy successes: There Really Has Been a “Trump Effect” on Immigration
16. Bradford Wilcox and Erik Randolph discuss how government-induced poverty has impacted marriage: The Working-Class Welfare Trap: How Policy Penalizes Marriage
The New Brilliance-Packed Issue of NR Is Off the Presses
As is the WJ custom, we seek to entice you with a handful of suggestions. This fortnight, as regards the new November 11, 2020 issue, we recommend these five. OK, six:
1. Charlie Cooke mount the ramparts: In Defense of Florida
2. Old amiga Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for foster-care reform: Bureaucrats Are Ripping Foster Families Apart
3. David Mamet reflects on the once-upon-a-time influence of Russian expats on American arts: Memories of Moscow: Russians in Theater & Movies
4. Jay Nordlinger visits a lively cemetery: ‘To America’
5. From England, Douglas Murray analyzes America’s racial maelstrom: White Supremacy in a Magic Lantern
6. Scott Winship makes the case for at-home COVID testing: At-Home COVID-19 Testing: Why We Need It
If Anything Matters, Capital Matters
1. Douglass Carr compares the differences between the Obama-Biden and Trump-Pence recoveries: Comparing the Trump-Pence and Obama-Biden Recoveries
RELATED: In his new column, Rich Lowry takes on the former Veep’s energy takedown. Joe Biden Is Targeting a Great American Industry
2. Kevin Hassett puts on the green eyeshades and scores BidenCare. Evaluating the Impact of Biden’s Health-Care Plans
3. More Hassett and his eyeshades, as he reviews the former Veep’s energy policy: Evaluating the Impact of Biden’s Energy Policy
4. Robert VerBruggen analyzes the small-business death toll from pathogen: The COVID-19 Fatality Rate (for Businesses)
1. Joe Biden’s editorial policy would be a disaster. From the editorial:
The American energy renaissance has been a major driver of U.S. prosperity, a source of high-paying jobs for the white-collar and the blue-collar alike, and an economic blessing to communities remote from the metropolitan centers of technology and commerce.
American energy production has also had some underappreciated non-economic benefits. Perhaps you have noticed that something suspiciously resembling peace is breaking out in the Middle East, with suddenly tractable Arab emirates such as Bahrain and the UAE normalizing relations with the Jewish state with the consent and approval of regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Part of that is recognizing a common threat — Iran — but much of it is the realization throughout the Gulf that North American energy has changed the balance of power worldwide in favor of the United States and its allies, making a paper tiger out of OPEC threats to manipulate or weaponize the oil industry. This isn’t 1973, and we didn’t politick our way into that superior position — we drilled our way into it.
Oil and gas are going to be part of the U.S. energy mix for the foreseeable future, in part because the Biden agenda is based in large part on wishful thinking about new technologies that do not, at the moment, exist. There are more and less environmentally responsible ways to go about getting and using that petroleum, just as there are more and less economically effective ways to do so. Fracking has in fact been a significant contributor to reductions in U.S. greenhouse gases, giving electricity producers an opportunity and incentive to switch from relatively dirty coal to cheap, plentiful, and relatively clean natural gas.
2. Californians need to reject Proposition 19, which seeks to affirm affirmative action, and worse. From the editorial:
Under cover of the George Floyd protests, California Democrats have placed on this year’s ballot Proposition 16, which would repeal Section 31. As the ballot initiative itself admits, it “permits government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity.” Notice that this makes no pretense at using racial classifications to remedy discrimination or injustice. Instead, “diversity” would provide a permanent justification for a racial spoils system — putting California on an inevitable collision course with Harlan’s heirs in the federal courts.
California voters should reject this path. The state’s multiracial, multiethnic population is far removed from simplistic black/white divides: The state estimates that its people are now 38.9 percent Hispanic, 36.6 percent non-Hispanic white, 15.4 percent Asian, 6 percent African American, and 2.2 percent “Multiracial non-Hispanic,” with the Hispanic and Asian populations rising, the white population sliding, and the black population holding steady. A population that diverse is likely to place different groups in a commanding political position in different localities. Allowing each group to entrench itself with legal discrimination in local contracting and schooling is a recipe for conflict among groups and injustice to individuals. It also requires an ever-more-complex system of racial classification against the tide of intermarriage and assimilation.
A Basket Brimming with Halloween Treats for the Conservative Intellect
1. Former Senator Orrin Hatch calls for a Constitutional amendment to confront the threat of court-packing, and avoid the Armageddon that might otherwise await. From the article:
If, come January, a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House set the legislative wheels in motion to pack the Supreme Court, Republicans and middle-of-the-road Democrats will not be completely powerless to stop them. Article V of the Constitution provides states with an avenue to amend the Constitution independent of Congress. If progressives move to pack the Court, we should invoke this power to pass a constitutional amendment that would fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.
Now, I understand the potential pitfalls, time delays, and procedural challenges of an Article V convention. In fact, I know them better than most. I spent the better part of my Senate tenure trying to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment through this unorthodox process.
Both then and now, the “runaway convention” critique has been the strongest argument against using the Article V process to amend the Constitution. This is the fear that states would be unable to focus on a single issue at an Article V convention and would instead propose a never-ending string of amendments. It is an understandable concern in normal times — but these are not normal times.
In a few months, Washington could pass legislation that would destroy the American judiciary as we know it. The imminent threat of judicial Armageddon would force states to focus on one amendment and one amendment only. And I believe it would motivate them to act in a way no previous issue has, allowing them to overcome some of the logistical hurdles that have prevented this process from going forward in the past.
2. As Andrew C. McCarthy sees it, a decision-ducking and intimidated SCOTUS will allow for ballot mayhem: From the analysis:
Yet, on the left, and especially among Alinskyites schooled in the extortionate leveraging of power, the Court-packing threat is remembered as a triumph. It provoked the famous “switch in time that saved nine”: Fearful that FDR would follow through and destroy the Court’s standing as a rule-of-law institution, the Court — led by Justice Owen Roberts — dramatically shifted, upholding the New Deal it had been stalling, and ushering in the foundations of progressive governance.
Credible Court-packing threats by the Left intimidate moderate, politically minded justices, exactly as they are meant to do.
Duly cowed by today’s Court-packing threats, Chief Justice John Roberts has steered the Court into a possible disaster that has been foreseeable (and foreseen) for weeks. Last night, the justices made clear that they will not resolve state voting-law disputes prior to next Tuesday’s election. They will roll the dice on chaos, and all its potentially ruinous ramifications — not just for the country but for the Court.
In a pair of 5–3 decisions, with the newly minted Justice Amy Coney Barrett intriguingly keeping to the sidelines, the justices declined to intervene in the Pennsylvania election case despite the patent lawlessness of the rewrite by that state’s highest court — which could enable fraud by requiring non-postmarked ballots to be counted for three days after the November 3 election is supposed to be over. Nor will the Supreme Court intervene in a North Carolina election-law case that is nearly as egregious: one in which an unaccountable bureaucracy, the State Board of Elections, has presumed to rewrite state law by extending until nine days after the election the deadline for receiving ballots (although those ballots must be postmarked by or before November 3).
3. Jack Crowe reports on the telling resignation of Glenn Greenwald from the allegedly unfettered-journalism website he founded, where Groupthink now rules. From the analysis:
When he founded The Intercept, Greenwald — a committed leftist who made his bones criticizing the excesses of the Bush-era surveillance state — identified corporate power as the source of much of the partisanship that pervades mainstream political reporting. Because corporate media outlets depend on advertising dollars, they inevitably toe a neoliberal, capitalist line in order to keep their advertisers happy, or so the argument goes. On the flip side, they also pander to their readership, indulging their political superstitions in order to keep them basking in self-affirmation.
If it hasn’t quite proven false, Greenwald’s departure exposes this diagnosis of media bias as lacking.
That The Intercept’s New York-based editors succumbed to groupthink and quickly fell into lockstep on the Biden-corruption story exposes the true source of the bias and partisanship that pervades so much of our media class: cultural affinity. It’s been said hundreds of times before, but it can be said with more confidence now that Greenwald has made his exit: Most of the people who inhabit our elite newsrooms have the same partisan interests and cater to them in ways explicit and subconscious — and that fact, not nefarious corporate power, is the true source of our media monoculture. These reporters and editors don’t require some bottom-line obsessed boss to come downstairs and put the squeeze on when they risk jeopardizing corporate interests; they do it themselves, but to preserve their social status, not to protect the bottom line.
4. Kevin Williamson wonders if “offensive” cartoons are the real root cause of terrorist murders, and if Charlie Hebdo has become a patsy. From the piece:
There were no cartoons behind the massacre of Jewish athletes and a German police officer at the Munich Olympics. There wasn’t a cartoon behind the massacre at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem — seven children and one pregnant woman among the dead. It wasn’t a cartoon, or even an obscure Internet video, that led to the American deaths in Benghazi. Or consider the Nairobi hotel massacre, the Jolo bombings in the Philippines, the Sri Lanka Easter bombings, the Lyon bakery bombing, the Abu Sayyaf shooting attack in the Philippines, the London Bridge attack, the massacre of Sikhs in Kabul — all of which happened in 2019 and 2020, and none of which required so much as a sketch.
So no, the problem is not Charlie Hebdo. The problem is Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others like him. And in “others like him,” I include Jack Dorsey.
After the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre, all the good people came together in a grand display of free-speech piety. Twitter added a pro-Charlie Hebdo banner to its French site. That lasted a little while. By 2018, Twitter was blocking the accounts of Charlie Hebdo staffers for displaying Charlie Hebdo images.
“Je suis Charlie!” they said. Sommes-nous toujours Charlie?
5. Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon: Kyle Smith profiles the two Joe Bidens. From the piece:
So Biden won’t ban fracking, but he will end fossil fuel, which is what fracking is for. Maybe the frackers will be allowed to keep working if they promise to frack only for pixie dust.
Biden is the kind of guy who, when speaking to an audience he thinks contains racist whites, brags about receiving an award from George Wallace or reminisces about his friendships with segregationist Dixiecrat senators such as Strom Thurmond, James Eastland, and John Stennis. Among those who place a high value on fighting for civil rights, though, he concocts a completely false tale about getting arrested trying to visit the great South African Nelson Mandela.
Biden is the kind of guy who flatters the National Association of Police Officers by telling them, “You wrote the [1994 crime] bill.” When speaking to a racially mixed audience, he slips into what he considers black vernacular and claims of Mitt Romney, “He gonna put y’all back in chains.” Last May, when speaking to the radio host Charlamagne tha God, he awkwardly tried on the vernacular again while framing himself as an authority on blackness: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
6. Tobias Hoonhout reports on a dangerous thing: the cloak-and-dagger ascendancy in partisan cable-news punditry. From the piece:
Center for Security Policy CEO and CIA veteran Fred Fleitz said that the letter and its lack of concrete evidence serves the interests of the media, not the intelligence community, and also furthers the Republican talking point that intelligence officials are out to get the current president, making “it harder to convince Trump and other Republicans that the intelligence community is of any value.”
“It has great value,” he said. “But how do you convince Trump with that now, after letters like this?”
Fleitz also lamented the way in which the media so often presents intelligence reports as either true or false, rather than as an informed opinion that doesn’t necessarily bind the president to any particular course of action.
“What is intelligence analysis — is it truth? No, it’s opinion,” he explained. “It is usually the best opinion around, it may be truthful, but the president is not obligated to follow the opinion of the intelligence community.”
By presenting intelligence reports as unimpeachable documents which require a prescribed policy response, the media conflates the role of politicians with that of intel officials, Shedd explained.
“The job of that intelligence professional is not to say, ‘Mr. President, or Mr. Secretary of Defense, or State, or Homeland Security, do this, this, and this, and all will be well if you make that choice,’” he said. “Rather, it’s for the policymaker to say, ‘if I do x, what will the reaction be, in the context of what we’re talking about notionally, of that adversary. How will they respond to it?’”
7. Jimmy Quinn profiles Matthew Pottinger, a key player in the Trump administration’s adversarial approach to Red China. From the piece:
Representative Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), who first met the deputy national-security adviser when they were both counterintelligence officers in Iraq, calls him one of the two people in the world most responsible for the current reappraisal of the CCP. (The other is an Australian, John Garnaut, the journalist and government adviser whose work has contributed significantly to the turn against Chinese political influence in the country.)
“When the history of our New Cold War with the Chinese Communist Party is written, I really believe that Matt will be up there with another hero of mine, Wisconsin’s George Kennan, in terms of his impact in shaping the competition,” he told National Review in an emailed statement, comparing Pottinger to the legendary diplomat and Cold War strategist.
During a speech in May, Pottinger detailed the long history of Chinese democracy movements, calling the idea that Chinese people can’t be trusted with democracy “the most unpatriotic idea of all.” He elaborated: “Taiwan today is a living repudiation of that threadbare mistruth.”
In that instance, he spoke directly to the people of China. He did the same on Friday, noting that that previous speech, about the May Fourth Movement, was viewed over a million times (he gave both speeches in Mandarin).
Pottinger is adept at explaining the depravities of the CCP in terms that make sense in a Chinese cultural context, while simultaneously warning of the Party’s global activities. Further, he exhibits an unparalleled grasp of the stakes of this contest.
8. Badge for Gutlessness: Erin Hawley profiles another pathetic cave-in to ideological groupthink. From the piece:
Even though one might not agree with many of Justice Ginsburg’s decisions, the Girl Scouts were right to honor her memory and legacy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s achievements, intellect, and personal story are inspirational. It is infuriating to think that, after graduating at the top of her Ivy League law school class, she (like Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before her) found it difficult to obtain a job in the law.
Justice Barrett is similarly accomplished. She is a stellar academic, accomplished jurist, and loving wife and mother to seven children — including four daughters. Every single member of her Supreme Court law clerk class and of the Notre Dame law faculty supported her nomination to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Like the four female justices before her, Barrett has broken gender barriers and is an inspiring role model for girls nationwide.
Yet the Girl Scouts are not the only group to sweep Barrett’s success aside because of her conservative views. Barrett’s sorority, Kappa Delta, posted a lukewarm tweet congratulating their former alumna, and then, you guessed it, deleted the post as “hurtful to many.” Meanwhile, some 1,500 Rhodes College alumni took the college to task for their apparent embrace of Barrett and attacked the justice personally, writing that her record was “diametrically opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service that we learned at Rhodes.” You read that right: From the perspective of those on the left, a successful conservative woman is somehow “hurtful to many” and “opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service.”
9. Ambassador Kelley Currie makes the case for American investment in female leadership. From the article:
When Congress passed and President Trump signed the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, we became the first country in the world to have such national-level legislation. Our 2019 Strategy on WPS, promulgated under our National Security Strategy, recognizes that empowering women to lead in preventing, resolving, and rebuilding from conflict is vital to American national-security policy. With the release of our 2020 implementation plan, the State Department threads that concept through our foreign-policy and national-security framework, empowering our diplomats and partners to act.
We know female leadership is a smart investment. We see it every day in my office, working to support women around the world as they help lead, rebuild, and strengthen their communities. Together with women’s economic-empowerment initiatives such as the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, our efforts advance American and international security and prosperity through cost-effective, sustainable engagement that has long-term multiplier effects.
True security for the American people comes from a world where other societies enjoy those unalienable rights and freedoms that animated our founding principles and permeate our social-political fabric.
A robust WPS agenda will not resolve all our national-security challenges, but it does give us more and better options. By investing in women, peace, and security, we are helping our global neighbors — women and men alike — become safer, more prosperous, and better able to stand on their own. Ultimately, that means we are investing in our own peace and security.
10. Armond White zings Stevie Nicks, crooner and partisan lecturer. From the piece:
These Seventies artists, like many aging liberals, are in intellectual retreat, although they proceed as if they were in the vanguard. It is bizarre, indeed, when Nicks suddenly, for the first time in her career, sings about social issues and race, invoking John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. as metaphors for her previously hidden desires and newly acquired social consciousness. Equating the troubled present to the nostalgic past is a typical Boomer move, but, with Nicks, it merely reveals her political naïveté. The same can be said of Springsteen’s poignant appeals in Letter to You, which, much more than “Show Them the Way,” is overstuffed with nouveau riche hubris.
While Nicks plies her quasi-mystical shtick (meeting MLK in a dream, she regards him like a ghostly butler — as critic John Demetry noted), Springsteen adopts a messianic posture. Letter to You continues the heartbroken resignation of Springsteen’s previous album Western Stars, where he attempted to escape from his elitist post-Obama disillusionment. Now, feeling post-Trump despair, Springsteen faces the mortality of others. The Letter to You film, directed by Thom Zimny, is chock-full of the Boss’s pensées, reflecting on life, death, friendship, family, and the holy institution of rock music. It made a one-time fan like me recall a Dave Marsh Rolling Stone article in which every Springsteen quote was worded like holy writ; all that was missing from Marsh’s epistle was a rubricated text to highlight the bard’s dominical sayings. (Marsh’s wife, Barbara Carr, is one of the film’s co-producers and also one of Springsteen’s co-managers.)
What Nicks’s sentimentality and Springsteen’s ultra-sentimentality tell us is that old-guard liberalism has lost perspective on the heinous, satanic confusion of today’s disingenuous political movements. Realigning themselves with sophomoric virtues, the stars sell their souls in accommodation to the insensate new era. “Overwhelmed by destiny,” as Nicks puts it, they intentionally use the music-video vanity-project format as political campaign ads. Cameron Crowe makes Nicks’s philosophical gibberish seem worse than it is by contrasting her private schmaltz with predictable Boomer iconography — from JFK, RFK, and John Lewis to Obama and George Floyd — while she bleats, “I didn’t know these men, but they knew me.”
11. More Armond: Native Son is re-released, and our critic recalls the 1951 movie’s failure to capture the book’s anti-Communism, among other things. From the beginning of the review:
Kino Lorber Repertory offers a new, uncensored restoration of the 1951 Native Son. It’s the first film adaptation of Richard Wright’s celebrated 1940 novel about Bigger Thomas, the archetypal doomed urban black American youth. That Bigger still represents the most exploited social figure of the 21st century ignites the timing of this re-release.
In the original novel, the story of Bigger’s committing a Dostoevskian crime, facing a Scottsboro-like trial, and being executed made a startling turn: It included a renunciation of the Communist social saviors who had attempted to manipulate Bigger as a victim of capitalist oppression — a situation still relevant to the current usurpation of black protest by the radical Left. But that narrative development has always been elided in film versions of Wright’s screed.
Wright’s purpose — to expose the social conditions of poverty and racism — always fascinated American liberals yet was never in sync with Hollywood. Orson Welles had produced a pared-down stage version on Broadway in 1941 (the same year as Citizen Kane), responding to the book’s enormous social impact. But the 1951 movie adaptation was made by French director Pierre Chenal, filmed in South America and exhibited in the U.S. only briefly and with edits. This new restoration comes from the Library of Congress in association with Argentina Sono Film.
Although Kino promotes Native Son ’51 as a missing link in the history of film noir, it is actually a film maudit — cursed from its beginning in Wright’s imagination by the incapacity of American cultural institutions, primarily run by liberals, to accept the full scope of Wright’s vision. (Subsequent film adaptations — one featuring Oprah Winfrey as Bigger’s mother in 1985, and the recent HBO Afro-punk update — are hideous illustrations of liberal self-congratulation.)
12. When Harry Met Sanctimony: John Loftus catches Andrew Cuomo and Billy Crystal Zooming: From the piece:
Meanwhile, what would a Zoom talk between a liberal Hollywood actor and a Democratic governor be without blaming Trump for the bungled response to COVID-19 and all other social problems facing the country? “Trump panicked, and he deceived. He was always afraid. The economy was going to reelect him, and this [pandemic] would be inconvenient for the economy,” Cuomo said. He then claimed that anti-Semitism and racial intolerance are “higher than ever before” in America solely because of Trump. “Trump is a master at using the wedge. He’s a master at seeing a little crack and putting the thin edge of the wedge in that crack and hammering it home.” Cuomo’s bluster on anti-Semitism in particular is grossly hypocritical. Earlier in October, he targeted the religious liberty of Orthodox Jews, whose communities had been deemed COVID red zones, and were therefore subject to more drastic health measures. “If you’re not willing live with these rules, then I’m going to close synagogues,” Cuomo said.
In the end, Cuomo is yet another public servant who peddles revisionism to gullible liberal fans. Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, her self-aggrandizing memoir that “explains” her shocking loss in 2016, is another great example. Cuomo’s revisionism, though, is particularly shameless, as David Harsanyi pointed out. His decisions and feuds with Mayor Bill de Blasio might have been detrimental to the city early on in the pandemic. He has yet to be held accountable for his executive order that forced nursing homes across the state to take in COVID-positive patients (he probably never will) even though they were very poorly equipped to treat these patients while keeping other residents safe from the virus. Meanwhile, nearly half the country will see him as a hero, as the other half treats him like a villain. In that sense, Cuomo’s just like Trump, the president he loathes.
13. Brian Allen visits a very unique museum, about a very unique actress, Ava Gardner. From the review:
Curatorially, the Ava Gardner Museum excels in every respect, in part because it takes a larger-than-life, indeed unique, figure, what MGM called “the world’s most beautiful animal,” and presents her coherently and intellectually, not analyzing her or treating her like a test-tube object. We get voluptuous and multifaceted Ava, with no apologies. The museum didn’t need to bring her to life but, rather, cut her down to size, a trick in itself. Gardner was the least bland person on earth. She had a luminous, hot charisma. Packaging all that sex, ambition, booze, and manipulation in a setting meant to educate isn’t easy.
It does it through vignettes covering the key moments in her life, from growing up, her three husbands, her movies, and her years as an international celebrity based in Europe. There’s a perfect balance of well-written wall text and big, illuminating photography. She was a movie star and a compelling beauty, and the museum chose its images well to serve as equal narrative partners to the text and the objects.
Why Smithfield? Gardner was born and raised there, the daughter of a tenant farmer father and a strict but loving mother who managed the Teacherage, a boarding house for unmarried young teachers. Gardner went to Hollywood at 18, got an MGM contract and, within months, married Mickey Rooney, the studio’s biggest and most lucrative star. The marriage lasted a year. Gardner herself was a heavy-hitter star before too long, married and divorced Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra, had a dozen affairs, lived for 30 years in Madrid and London, but never stopped loving her old, rural Southern home. Her brother and sisters and their families mostly stayed local. When Gardner died, she was buried with her parents.
14. Pradheep J. Shanker and Kirti Shanker plot out how America should plan for pandemics. From the analysis:
A system of constant re-analysis of stockpile quantities and potential health-sector requirements by some central federal authority is essential to ensure preparedness. This should be done frequently, coordinating with the CDC, HHS, FEMA, and state authorities to establish what the national need would be if another widespread pandemic arose. As for ventilators and other more expensive equipment, it might behoove the government to form more public–private alliances before the crisis erupts, so that in the case of a sudden need, production of such items can occur as fast as possible. General Motors, for example, helped produce thousands of ventilators and was able to start manufacturing in a matter of weeks. This was without any pre-planning; imagine what a system that was thoughtfully planned could have done.
Furthermore, the American public-health establishment must change its focus. For too long, we ignored the specific steps needed to confront the threats posed by pandemic-level infectious diseases. The CDC and other entities must approach the problem in ways similar to how the U.S. military approaches threats of attack and invasion from foreign enemies. The key leaders in infectious-disease and public-health policy must be able to regularly game-plan for the unwelcome eventuality of a new biological threat. These entities need to build up technology, logistics, and materials necessary to rapidly scale up production of vaccine and therapeutics when needed. Funding research into the repurposing and rapid response of new treatments must be a constant consideration for the FDA. And to avoid catastrophes like the testing debacle with COVID, federal authorities should have redundancies built in for the most critical issues.
One complaint in recent years is that the CDC’s mission and breadth of scope have been tremendously broadened. The organization now studies diverse ailments ranging from birth defects to obesity and even repercussions from gun crime (both physical and mental). Although these are all relevant issues to the health and well-being of Americans, whether they should be included in the CDC’s mission is highly dubious.
15. Steven Camarota explains the President’s immigration-policy successes: From the analysis:
So who is leaving? The ACS shows that all of the decline is among non-citizens, (e.g. green card holders, foreign students, guestworkers, and illegal immigrants), not naturalized citizens. It does not appear that it is well-established, long-time legal immigrants or naturalized citizens who are heading home in larger numbers. Rather it seems that more illegal immigrants left and fewer arrived, primarily from Mexico. It may also be the case that more long-term visitors, primarily foreign students and guestworkers, went home instead of overstaying their visas and joining the illegal population.
We may not be able to pinpoint all of the reasons for the falloff in new arrivals and the increase in out-migration, but we can rule out the economy. Unemployment among immigrants, already low in 2016, continued to decline through 2019. So it is not as if immigrants had much difficulty securing jobs. Moreover, more than 5 million jobs were created over this time period.
Perhaps the best news on the economy, before COVID-19, was that labor-force participation — the share working or looking for work — was improving. Indeed, the long-term decline in labor-force participation over the last half century has been one of the most troubling social trends in America. It has been particularly pronounced among those without a college education.
Data through 2019 show that the slowdown in immigration coincided with a recovery in labor-force participation, including among the less educated. Wage growth has also been reasonably strong. We do not know the extent to which less immigration contributed to these positive developments. But at the very least, we can say that the new data do not support the argument that we must have very high levels of immigration in order to create economic prosperity. In fact, the new data are consistent with the opposite proposition — that workers actually benefit from less competition with new immigrants.
16. Bradford Wilcox and Erik Randolph discuss how government policies have trapped the poor in extended poverty, which in turn has whammied the institution of marriage: From the analysis:
This country’s public policies — especially our tax and welfare policies — often penalize marriage, locking couples out of marriage and trapping too many people in poverty. In fact, marriage penalties, which generally fall hardest on working-class families in the lower half of our income distribution, can end up robbing working-class families of between 10 percent and 30 percent of their real income. One study found that a working-class couple with two children in Arkansas stood to lose 32 percent of their real income if they married.
Not surprisingly, these penalties seem to play a role in fueling working-class Americans’ retreat from marriage that we have seen play out over the past three decades. In recent years, for instance, a majority of children born to working-class parents have been born outside of marriage, whereas the vast majority of upper–middle-class parents continue to have children in marriage.
Working-class children — and the communities where they grow up — are the big losers in all this. Children from intact, married households are 70 percent more likely to graduate from college. Girls in such households are half as likely to end up pregnant, and boys are half as likely to end up in jail or prison. And as Harvard economist Raj Chetty and his colleagues have found, one of the strongest predictors of economic mobility for lower-income kids is the share of two-parent families in their community.
The New Brilliance-Packed Issue of NR Is Off the Presses
As is the WJ custom, we seek to entice you with a handful of suggestions. This fortnight, as regards the new November 11, 2020 issue, we recommend these five:
1. A tanned Charlie Cooke mount the ramparts from the Sunshine State. From the cover essay:
With so much good happening across the state, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Florida legislature meets for only two months each year, and that, when it does, it has proven extremely good at limiting the government to its appropriate role. According to the Cato Institute, Florida is the freest state in America, and has been for a while. It’s No. 1 in fiscal freedom, it’s No. 1 in educational freedom, and it ranks high up the list in almost every other category, too. The state has no income tax, and, as of 2018, the legislature has been constitutionally barred from raising any statewide tax or fee without the consent of supermajorities in both legislative houses. This year, my property taxes actually went down — by a lot. (I can hear you crying in New York. Or Texas.)
But here’s the thing: Despite its having a well-limited state government, Florida’s everyday services are both friendly and efficient. Ask Floridians about their experience with the DMV and they will tell you that they actually enjoy going. When I moved here from Connecticut, I walked in without an appointment and, within 18 minutes, I had two new license plates and two new driver’s licenses, and my wife had registered to vote. This was typical. Occasionally, I have had to deal with the state’s business-registration and sales-tax offices and, each time, I have left the conversation with the impression that the representative did not see it as his job to screw me over or to wring any available coins from my pocket. This was, let’s say, not my experience in Connecticut.
You will perhaps notice that I have barely mentioned the weather. This is because Floridians come eventually to regard “the weather,” with the notable exception of hurricanes, as something that happens to other people. Sure, our weather can be interesting: Sometimes it rains while the sun shines, and when it storms it storms so dramatically that my house shakes with each clap of thunder and the rain brings to mind the climactic scene in Jurassic Park. But, all in all, these things represent mere interruptions to the assumed default, which is blue skies, high temperatures, and sunshine. As a native Englishman, I can barely convey in words the joy that I still feel each morning when I wake up and see light streaming in through every window. There is much good to be said about Great Britain, but the prevalence of heavy gray skies is not among them. In Florida, there is no such thing. It’s either perfect or it’s biblical.
2. In a quite important piece, old amiga Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for foster-care reform: From the article:
Over the summer, James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, also filed a federal lawsuit. His was on behalf of a two-year-old who had been fostered by a couple he knows. The couple had cared for the child since he was born, but he was removed to live with a grandfather, who was previously deemed unfit because of his long criminal record. Dwyer suspects that race played a role in this decision — the child is black, the mothers are white — even though federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in placement for adoption or foster care. (The black caseworker scolded the mothers at one point for not using beads in the child’s hair.)
Dwyer argues in the brief that “at some point, a child’s interest in continuity of placement must become sufficiently strong that it receives the same substantive due process protection that the federal courts give to adults’ less vital interests in maintaining and receiving recognition for their intimate relationships. Basic respect for the humanity, personhood and fundamental need of a child requires this.”
Foster care and family law is generally a state issue, but higher state courts are often reluctant to overturn family-court decisions, because they generally see family court as rehabilitative and the judge who has overseen the case from the beginning as having the greatest familiarity and expertise. This lack of an effective appeal process has devastated countless foster children and is a violation, Dwyer argues, of their due-process rights.
3. Davis Mamet reflects on the once-upon-a-time influence of Russian expats on American theater and film. From the piece:
I had one of the great theatrical experiences of my life watching one of the Art Theatre’s actresses onstage, in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 1964. Eugenie Leontovich had been a member of Meyerhold’s troupe, and of the Art Theatre itself. Her family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks, and she came to New York, and taught herself English. She had a long career on Broadway, as a teacher and producer, and appeared in talkies and early TV.
She came to Chicago’s Goodman in 1964 in Brecht’s Mother Courage. We didn’t know her age, as she kept postdating it, but she was probably in her eighties. Her voice was weak, but the Goodman had an early example of the new Technology: body microphones for actors onstage. It worked passably well until the receiver started picking up taxi calls and broadcasting them to the audience. That, I believe, was as close as I ever got to an actual member of the Art Theatre.
I’ve long cherished (you can, too) their performances in film.
Leontovich’s husband, for a time, was Gregory Ratoff (né Ratner). He went to Hollywood and directed 30 (rather good) films. He can be seen as Max Fabian in All about Eve and as the painter in O. Henry’s Full House; as Lakavitch in Exodus, and in 50 other films. Also, we can adore Vladimir Sokolov. He left Russia for Germany and France, and got out a half step ahead of the Nazis, and came to Hollywood, where he played every Foreign Type (see Back to Bataan, Mr. Lucky, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Magnificent Seven, and countless television episodes).
4. Jay Nordlinger visits a cemetery alive with poems, music, and munchies. From the article:
Ousley says, simply, that this has been a brutal year in America — pandemic, social unrest, the presidential campaign — and he wanted to do something to reaffirm the goodness of our country. Or if not its goodness, its higher ideals and better self. I think of a Lincoln phrase: “the better angels of our nature.” Also, Ousley wanted to offer something rare: a live performance.
Today is October 23. I last reviewed a concert, live and in the flesh, on March 6. (It was a chamber concert at Carnegie Hall.) In between, there have been online concerts — livestreams — only.
Our group walks to a chapel, whose interior is lit, slightly, by little candles. There are shadows on the walls. Members of a string quartet wear black masks. There is dead silence, for now. It is all very . . . cemetery-at-night–like.
After a minute or two, a man recites a poem: “Inhale, Exhale,” by Terrance Hayes, who was born in South Carolina in 1971. The theme of his poem is captured in this line: “America — do you care for me, as I care for you?” I think of a Langston Hughes poem, “I, Too,” which has a similar message.
5. From Jolly Old England, Douglas Murray analyzes America’s racial maelstrom. From the article:
In Oregon, among other places, Antifa/BLM activists continue to protest and riot because they actually seem to believe the image projected about their country. Nightly they take to the streets to oppose systemic racism and white supremacy. For a couple of nights in Portland, I stayed among them, seeing firsthand how a part of a new generation really does believe the image that so many non-Americans have about the reality of American racism.
Yet even a mildly curious traveler can see that the image is off. Even in the event that fueled the latest bout of claims, there are things that would alter the projection if mentioned. For instance, if the police in the video intended to kill George Floyd, then what are we to make of the Asian-American officer who is present? Is he an honorary white supremacist? In this incident, as so many others, we might discern the supply-and-demand problem in American fascism (the demand is huge, the supply is mercifully small). Everywhere there are similar glitches in the narrative that any observer or participant should be able to note but too few do. For instance, why are so many of the figures in groups now classed as white supremacists either minority-ethnic themselves or married to nonwhites?
Doubtless many people would like to leave these questions unaddressed for the sake of personal ease or comfort, unwilling to look like they are defending groups that may yet behave reprehensibly. Yet it is precisely when the details are allowed to slide that the picture that is projected becomes so unreal and monstrous. Some Americans obviously realize this, which is why they litigate, debate, and fight over every single aspect of police brutality. Yet while they come in for a disproportionate amount of flak, it is only the work of the relatively small number of people who are unafraid for their wider reputations and who remain sticklers for the truth (and who cannot allow the tiny details to pass because they know the resulting picture that will be projected) who show the way out of a situation that will otherwise continue to deteriorate.
6. Scott Winship makes the case for at-home COVID testing, and the many positive consequences that will come from such. From the essay:
But another future is possible.
In a recent column advocating a massive scale-up of COVID-19 testing, economist Tim Harford wondered, “What if everyone who was infectious glowed bright orange?” In such a world, we would insist that glowing people isolate themselves, and we would maintain our distance from them. But otherwise, we could go about our routines, our social and work lives, without fear of getting infected.
Absent a luminescent, self-advertising virus, we ideally would have perfectly accurate COVID-19 testing kits, widely available and easy enough for Americans to use daily at home. In this ideal scenario — still unrealistic — the entire population would comply every day with self-testing and people would voluntarily isolate themselves upon learning of infection. That would be as good as glow.
Fortunately, tamping down the coronavirus does not require such unattainable conditions. Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Romer has emphasized that with enough testing kits of sufficient accuracy, enough people testing themselves with sufficient regularity, and enough people with positive tests voluntarily isolating themselves for a sufficient duration, we can drive down infection rates enough to safely resume regular social and economic life.
Doing so would require national mobilization and sacrifice. Today, well under 10 million Americans are tested every week. Under Romer’s plan, that number would need to increase to 150 million. That would mean all Americans, on average, were tested every two weeks. A plan this ambitious would have serious logistical challenges — ramping up production of testing supplies, building up lab capacity, disseminating tests, and potentially providing isolation quarters and compensation to replace earnings for some who must isolate.
But Wait . . . from the Previous Issue
1. The intention to draw attention to our old colleague Tracy Lee Simmons’ review (in the November 2, 2020 issue) of Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, by Alan Jacobs, was not realized. Now, it is! From the review:
The faith invested in education has always overshot its capacity to deliver, which is one reason schools disappoint no matter how well some perform. Students emerge with a few skills if they’re lucky, but the hoped-for transformations of mind and spirit, the ones celebrated in commencement addresses, are relatively rare. Still, that faith gets renewed every year as we try to show each legion of neophytes how books can improve their lives.
But can reading be stunted by the often desiccating nature of the academic enterprise itself? Depends on who’s doing the teaching. The ablest instructors must constantly remind their students that works assigned in humanities courses — poems, plays, short stories, novels — were not produced for classroom dissection. They were composed to entertain and enlighten. Emily Dickinson did not write poetry to make grist for term papers. Willa Cather refused permission to one publisher to release a school edition of one of her novels because she didn’t wish to see her work imposed on the recalcitrant: Her novels should be experienced by the imagination, she thought, not provide fodder for exams. And yet if their works were to be removed from classrooms, would we not risk consigning them to oblivion? Such is the fragile thread on which culture can hang.
With this brief expedition into serious reading and thinking, Alan Jacobs, a professor of humanities at Baylor, takes us into his seminars to impart “much of what I have learned over the years by taking my students’ questions and boredom seriously,” and he does so without recourse to grating jargon. This is a work of advocacy. “To read old books,” he writes, “is to get an education in possibility for next to nothing” — a sparkling truism certainly, but one that might eventually undercut the entire college imperative if enough folks realize that they can do the reading on their own without professorial midwifery. Nonetheless, Jacobs reminds us just how humane a university classroom can still be in an uneasy and politically charged time when the teacher has been humbly and thoroughly formed by the best — and sometimes most provocative — that’s been thought and said and wishes to open treasures of the past for the young.
If Anything Matters, Capital Matters
1. Douglass Carr compares the differences between the Obama-Biden and Trump-Pence recoveries. From the analysis:
It took the Obama-Biden administration over six years to produce the job growth and retail-sales gains the Trump administration produced in five months. Industrial production, durable goods, and housing starts all grew much more rapidly under Trump than Obama-Biden.
Trump critics blame the pandemic recession on his administration’s mishandling of the virus. Whatever missteps there might have been, the U.S. economy is performing better than peer economies that may, to a greater or lesser extent, have responded differently to the coronavirus. The International Monetary Fund predicts that from 2019 to 2021, the U.S. will have grown over 3 percent faster than the euro zone and Japan.
To be sure, the two great recessions, similar in many respects, also have differences, so their courses may not be entirely comparable, but they don’t need to be precisely compared. The sluggish first five months of the Obama-Biden recovery led to the slowest recovery in U.S. history. While there remains a long distance to full recovery from the pandemic (and the implications of a second wave remain, for now, unknowable) the Trump administration’s first five months of recovery are the nation’s fastest ever.
2. Kevin Hassett puts on the green eyeshades and scores BidenCare. From the analysiss
I have yet to see a Mao suit at a Bernie Sanders rally, but the public option would likely rapidly lead to a single-payer system if it is attractive relative to private insurance. If it does, the carnage in the U.S. health-care sector would be significant.
First, private health insurance currently is provided tax-free by the employer. When an employer pays you a wage, he deducts it, but you pay tax on it. When an employer pays for your health insurance, he deducts it, and you don’t pay tax on it. So, turning cash compensation to health insurance encourages work. With a public option as envisioned by Biden, you would no longer get your employer-provided health insurance. Instead, the employer would presumably give you the money that used to pay for health insurance in cash, cash that would be taxed as ordinary income. After paying that tax, you will have to buy health insurance, the cost of which Biden caps at 8.5 percent of your income. So, the health-insurance tax raises marginal tax rates, and discourages work.
If the public option is attractive and takes over the health-insurance market, then the government will set the price for everything in that space, and presumably start to nickel and dime health-care providers. Almost all global health-care innovation starts in the U.S., so setting profits to zero here would have a major impact on the willingness of entrepreneurs to invest in risky new drugs. If you develop a cure for cancer, but have to negotiate its price with AOC, you probably will not come out ahead.
It is also possible that the public option will be terrible and find few takers. The government, after all, is terrible at just about everything other than being terrible. In that case, the rest of the Biden health agenda will be important. Biden also proposes generous premium tax credits for those who buy private insurance, expands eligibility for these by eliminating their income ceiling, and allows persons age 60 to 64 to buy into Medicare.
3. More Hassett: He dons the eyeshades again to evaluate the former Veep’s energy policy: From the analysis:
My coauthors Casey Mulligan, Tim Fitzgerald, and Cody Kallen and I just published a lengthy analysis of the Biden economic agenda, including a section exploring the impact of the climate policies listed above. We focus on estimating the costs associated with many of those large changes, but do not attempt to quantify the benefits, as the impact on the global climate will depend on the extent to which the U.S. is able to convince other countries to take similar actions. Absent such a commitment, the Biden agenda makes fossil fuels cheaper for everyone else on earth, and creates a massive rebound effect as foreign emitters capture market share for energy-intensive products at the expense of U.S. firms.
We estimate that the electrification of passenger vehicles would require a giant increase in power generation, since gasoline would no longer be the source of energy for passenger miles. Demand for power would rise by about 25 percent. Because 70 percent of power is currently generated by fossil fuels, the plan puts almost the entire grid on the table. If you assume that demand would be met by solar power, which is less efficient than power generated by fossil fuels, then the typical power bill would jump about $1,000 annually — not to mention that generating that much solar power would require a land mass about half the square footage of New England covered with solar panels. Tesla produces amazing cars, but at a high cost. We estimate that the electrification of automobiles would add about $12,000 to the price of each car. And that’s a conservative projection: The effect could be dramatically higher, as batteries rely on rare-earth minerals with a relatively inelastic supply, so higher demand could lead to massive nonlinear price increases. If you double the demand, you might quadruple the price.
Related: Joe Biden is doing his darnedest to kneecap America’s energy industry, says Rich Lowry. From the column:
It’s a funny time to want to kneecap oil and gas. Proven reserves of natural gas in the U.S. are higher than ever before, thanks to American-made technological innovations. A couple of years ago, the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia in crude oil production. In recent years, petroleum and natural-gas exports have been increasing. And, of course, the rise of natural gas has cut U.S. carbon emissions.
This should be considered a national strength to build on, not a national shame to be put on a glide path to extinction. Fossil fuels are a tremendously useful source of energy, and no hype about renewables can obscure that reality.
In 2019, petroleum, natural gas, and coal accounted for 80 percent of overall energy consumption in the United States, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewables made up only 11 percent, and the bulk of that came from biomass (wood and biofuels) and hydroelectric. Despite being heavily subsidized, wind and solar, combined, were responsible for only about a third of our renewable energy.
As Swedish economist Bjorn Lomborg points out, the share of U.S. energy that comes from renewables actually declined over the past century. The rise of fossil fuels was a boon to humanity, a major advance over those old renewables, wood and dung. “Over a century and a half,” Lomborg writes, “we shed our reliance on renewable energy and powered the industrial revolution with fossil fuels.”
4. Robert VerBruggen analyzes the small-business death toll from pathogen: From the article:
Lots of people are losing their favorite small businesses these days. COVID-19 and the related fear and lockdowns punched a massive hole in many industries’ revenue.
Thanks to the glacial pace at which federal agencies operate, though, it will be a long time before we know COVID’s fatality rate for businesses — the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a tally in late 2021, the Census Bureau in 2023. But new research from the Federal Reserve gives us an early look based on various creative measures of business death.
The upshot is that some types of establishments, especially restaurants, are in deep trouble. The silver lining is that because other industries haven’t been hit as hard and the businesses closing are disproportionately small, the closures thus far probably represent a tiny share of total U.S. employment.
There’s nothing unusual about an American business, especially a small business, closing. Every year, we lose about 8.5 percent of all establishments, representing 3.5 percent of total employment. (When we count “establishments” rather than “firms,” we include situations where a company stays in business but closes some locations.) That’s the “creative destruction” that makes capitalism work: When one business can’t operate profitably, it’s replaced by another that can, putting both its employees and its capital to more productive use.
Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System
1. At the New York Post, John Podhoretz lays into the authoritarian Social Media Gods and the groupthink their platforms demand. From the piece:
More important, if a subject violates the sensibilities of the Twitter journalism community, you sure know that too. Immediately. Offense is taken. Fingers are wagged. Instantaneously, the idea that something is a “bad take” becomes universally understood.
Reputations and careers are on the line — as is the possibility of enhancing your reputation and/or career by joining in the groupthink.
Before the social-media age, the groupthink of the old-media oligopoly was transmitted relatively slowly. The network newscasts and the New York Times were released once a day, after all. So the orthodox take on things might take a few days to reach everybody, and in that time, some other reporting, some other opinions, some other takes might break through.
Now all reporting is instantaneous — and the only “correct” way to look at a news story follows with similar instantaneity.
One of the correct ways to look at things, it appears, is to quash them if and when they are politically and ideologically inconvenient.
2. From Substack, Glenn Greenwald publishes the article that The Intercept blocked. From the article:
Individuals included in some of the email chains have confirmed the contents’ authenticity. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bubolinski, has stepped forward on the record to confirm the authenticity of many of the emails and to insist that Hunter along with Joe Biden’s brother Jim were planning on including the former Vice President in at least one deal in China. And GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who appeared in one of the published email chains, appeared to confirm the authenticity as well, though he refused to answer follow-up questions about it.
Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”
But nobody claimed that any such deals had been consummated — so the conclusion that one had not been does not negate the story. Moreover, some texts and emails whose authenticity has not been disputed state that Hunter was adamant that any discussions about the involvement of the Vice President be held only verbally and never put in writing.
Beyond that, the Journal‘s columnist Kimberly Strassel reviewed a stash of documents and “found correspondence corroborates and expands on emails recently published by the New York Post,” including ones where Hunter was insisting that it was his connection to his father that was the greatest asset sought by the Chinese conglomerate with whom they were negotiating. The New York Times on Sunday reached a similar conclusion: while no documents prove that such a deal was consummated, “records produced by Mr. Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy,” and “make clear that Hunter Biden saw the family name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his ‘family’s brand’ as a reason he is valuable to the proposed venture.”
3. Et Tu, Brown?: At The College Fix, Landon Mion-Kennesaw reports on Brown University wokesters demands to remove “Roman” statues because . . . white supremacy. From the article:
The student group at the Ivy League university in Rhode Island has lobbied the school’s Undergraduate Council of Students to support its initiative to remove of statues of Roman Emperors Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius.
Removing the statues “is one step in a broader project of decolonization by confronting Brown’s institutional and ideological legacies of colonialism and white supremacy,” members of the group wrote in The Blognonian, a student publication at the university.
The Undergraduate Council is scheduled to vote on endorsing the initiative on Thursday after it bumped the vote, originally scheduled for October 22.
Jason Carroll, the student body president, would not comment on the proposal yet because the body has yet to hold a vote.
“There is not a resolution and the potential endorsement would be for an on-going student initiative run by Decolonization at Brown,” Carroll said via email to The College Fix.
“It is not that difficult to see how a statue of (Caesar Augustus) would serve as an icon of colonial and imperial domination,” Kelley Tackett, a leader of the decolonization group, said at an October 14 Undergraduate Council meeting.
4. At Gatestone Institute, Benjamin Weinthal writes that when it comes to Iran’s genocidal regime, European countries see no evil. From the piece:
Thirty-six years after Genscher introduced the phrase “critical dialogue” into Europe-Iran diplomacy, it is clear that his policy has failed.
Take the most recent example of the obsolete concept of critical dialogue: Tehran’s murder last month of the innocent champion wrestler Navid Afkari, which yet again thrust into the global spotlight the regime’s utter disregard for basic standards of human rights championed by Europe.
Tehran hanged Afkari for his protest, as part of nation-wide demonstrations, against the fundamental political and financial corruption of Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The failure of critical dialogue is also apparent in Europe’s business ties with Iran. Germany’s eagerness to do business with Iran’s regime has been a constant since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Genscher noted in 1984 that economic relations remained solid during the period 1979-1984. Iran’s 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and its taking hostage of 52 American diplomats and citizens, who were held for 444 days, did nothing to upset German-Iranian relations.
Likewise, Europe works not only to keep Iran’s regime afloat but also, witting or unwittingly, to enhance Tehran’s military apparatus through the provision of dual-use goods (civilian technology that also could have a military purpose).
5. At The Imaginative Conservative, David Deavel commends Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. From the essay:
If, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn claimed in his 1970 Nobel Address, “one word of truth outweighs the whole world,” what can a university president’s email of truth do? President Morton Schapiro of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has not faced down Critical Theory as a whole, but he has certainly faced down some of its student shock troops. Northwestern’s campus police force, a private agency with a mutual cooperation agreement with the Evanston Police, has full police power both on campus and in the neighboring area. Students in a group called Northwestern University Community Not Cops (NUCNC) began protesting on October 12 to abolish the campus police force. By October 17 they and other outside agitators had begun to vandalize parts of the campus, spray painting anti-police messages and even setting fire to banners hung by the university, and block traffic around the university in residential areas. A group of them even surrounded President Schapiro’s house and chanted “f — you Morty” and “piggy Morty.”
Rather than truckle to these budding totalitarians, President Schapiro sent a campus-wide email that acknowledged that concerns about injustices and policing in our country are real. But he also called the bluff of those claiming that such mob behaviors are necessary to get the attention of Northwestern: “While the protesters claim that they are just trying to get our attention, that is simply not true. Several administrators — including our Provost, Deans, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Presidents for Research and Student Affairs — have held numerous discussions with concerned students, faculty and staff, and I am participating in a community dialogue tomorrow evening that was scheduled weeks ago.”
He affirmed that the pursuit of truth on Northwestern’s campus was not to be impeded by the desires for social justice: “Northwestern firmly supports vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas — abiding principles that are fundamental for our University. We encourage members of our community to find meaningful ways to get involved and advocate for causes they believe in — and to do so safely and peacefully.” The protesters’ actions were not noble cries for help but instead “vile” actions: “To those protesters and their supporters who justify such actions, I ask you to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that this isn’t actually ‘speaking truth to power’ or furthering your cause. It is an abomination and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
6. At Quillette, Aaron Sarin explores Red China’s global efforts to control ethnic Chinese in other nations. From the beginning of the piece:
The Communist Party has begun expanding the concept of the nation, attempting to create a new type of global entity. But back home, large numbers of people within the country’s borders no longer see themselves as Chinese at all. From Kashgar to Causeway Bay, millions of citizens are beginning to define themselves in direct opposition to the status that appears on their passports. Today we find that the very notion of a “Chinese” identity is being alternately stretched and compressed, warped and concertinaed, and our old classificatory grid provides us with no meaningful guide.
First, the expansion. The Chinese authorities are looking to win recruits to their hyper-nationalist cause, and so Party propaganda now preaches a new China — a China that includes not only the 1.4 billion citizens living within the country’s borders, but also the huaqiao (Chinese citizens living overseas) and the huaren (ethnic Chinese with foreign citizenship). “The unity of Chinese at home requires the unity of the sons and daughters of Chinese abroad,” according to a CCP teaching manual for United Front cadres. The Party hopes that by appealing to these vast groups, it can “awaken their ethnic consciousness,” in the semi-mystical words of He Yafei, deputy chief of the Party-run Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO).
And so the huaqiao and the huaren are told that their blood connects them to the motherland, no matter what it might say on their passports. The message is a loud one: Beijing now enjoys total control of virtually all Chinese-language media in Australia, as well as most Chinese community and professional associations in Western Europe and the United States. Future generations are being recruited too, at summer camps for young Chinese organised by the OCAO. We are witnessing the attempt to construct a global identity — one that straddles all borders, proudly representing Beijing on every continent.
The Communist Party has its eye on new land as well as new citizens. This is most obvious in the case of Taiwan, which has spent decades under threat of invasion from the mainland. But Beijing has also hinted at long-term plans to annex other neighbours. In 2017, Xi Jinping told Donald Trump that the Korean peninsula was formerly part of China — a dubious claim at best, but one that we are likely to hear again in the coming years. The invention of history has always come naturally to the Communist Party, and on occasion this habit is deployed for geopolitical purposes. There is a good chance that Xi was preparing the ground for future territorial claims. “A country can never invade itself,” explains sinologist John Fitzgerald. “China’s leaders believe that by claiming to be recovering ‘lost’ territories they can never be accused of invading anyone.”
7. Carumba! Or is it Begorrah?: At Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty has the story of just-resigned wanna-Chicana professor Kelly Kean Sharp. From the beginning of the article:
Another week, another unmasking of a white professor allegedly posing as a person of color: this time it’s Kelly Kean Sharp, a scholar of African American history who resigned abruptly Tuesday from her assistant professorship at Furman University.
Like other apparent racial fraudsters before her, Sharp was outed by an anonymous post on Medium. The writer of the post identifies him or herself as having “distantly” known Sharp when she was graduate student at the University of California, Davis. Sharp had never publicly identified as Latinx back then, the writer said, so they were recently puzzled to learn that Sharp had since started referring to herself as Chicana, including on her now-private Twitter profile. According to screenshots included in the post, Sharp has tweeted about her abuela, or grandmother, from Mexico, and posted elsewhere about her “abuela who came to the U.S. during WWII who worked hard so I could become a teacher.”
The writer said they started talking to others who knew Sharp, and these colleagues were similarly “confused.” Some then allegedly asked Sharp about the “newfound identity,” and Sharp allegedly said her grandmother was originally from Mexico. Yet when the scholars looked into that explanation, “we found that Kelly had no grandparents who were born outside of the U.S. or had Hispanic names.”
Your prayers for Baby Francesca have been deeply appreciated. Please do send some more her way. And let us depart this final missive before this most consequential election that there is truth to the adage, ascribed to Bismarck, that God protects fools, drunks, and the United States of America. If He needs encouragement to do just that by moving hearts and minds to preclude the election of the fool (Delaware Division) to preserve the latter, then do encourage Him. Prayerfully.
God Bless These United States,
Jack Fowler, who will promise to resume the Baseballery feature in the ensuing edition of the WJ, but who will accept admonishments for its absence in this number if sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.