Dear Weekend Jolters,
No, we’re not in Ipswich. And as for Bolton . . . our friend John don’t work no more, at least not for this White House. Which makes one want to run away and hide in Notlob.
On Monday past the author of this prattling tweeted that he slept well at night knowing John Bolton was on the job and had America’s back. The day following, the Good Ambassador was no longer a member of the Trump Administration. This is not a caution about the Curse of Fowler Tweeting. It is a sincere lament. As Rich Lowry wrote following what was supposed to have been a Taliban Weekend Retreat at Camp David:
This intense internal fight over Afghan policy is why there have been a spate of anti-Bolton stories in the press lately. He wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers speaking forthrightly about why this course was a mistake, even when the decision seemed to be going the other way. It’s important that this president—any president—get unvarnished advice from his aides, and Bolton is always willing to provide it.
We hope John Bolton continues to provide it, in some way, through his pen and via the small screen and however else he can sound the alarm about America’s true and determined enemies. For too many there is a need to explain repeatedly that the parrot is indeed ex and deceased.
Also: As Jim Geraghty wrote, it should concern us that murderous dirtbags from Iran to North Korea are thrilled by the Ambassador’s departure. That said, the train for Ipswich is departing on Track 2.
But First . . . a Sidetrack to Some NR Job Opportunities
The NYC headquarters of NR and National Review Institute needs an Office Assistant. “Describe that, Fowler, so I can inform my job-seeking granddaughter living in Brooklyn!” Your wish being my command, this future colleague will be responsible for assisting office operations and management. Applicants should be self-starters who can anticipate the needs of a busy office and who enjoy working in a professional, fast-paced environment.
And also enjoy the occasional croonings and ukulele outbursts that punctuate the day as the NR / NRI team stands athwart. Get more information about this gig here.
Now, to quote the late, great Billy Mays, I’m not done yet. National Review is seeking 1. an executive assistant to Rich Lowry, leader of the vast right-wing conspiracy, 2. a print/ web editor, and 3. a content manager / web producer. What do those jobs entail? The interwebs will tell you all about them, right here.
1. There is daft. And then there is Elizabeth Warren–grade daft. As the prexy wannabe is on fracking. From the editorial:
Those are the environmental challenges. The environmental benefit is this: In the first two decades of this century, the United States substantially reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions, more so than in many Western European countries pursuing active national programs of carbon-dioxide reduction. This happened because the abundant production of natural gas drove down prices and made it attractive to substitute that relatively clean-burning fuel for such relatively high-emissions sources as coal and heating oil for purposes such as generating electricity and heating buildings. The United States achieved these reductions while emissions were climbing in most of Asia and Europe. And it did so without any heavy-handed regulation or federal bullying.
The fundamental issue here isn’t methane or carbon dioxide or climate modeling: It is gullibility. On the one hand, the Democrats offer a pie-in-the-sky “Green New Deal” through which greenhouse-gas emissions might be radically reduced at no real cost to anybody and no meaningful economic disturbance . . . at some point in the future . . . by giving today’s Democrats a great deal of money and power and by implementing a bunch of things that look for all the world like the longstanding Democratic policy wish-list, many of them only remotely connected to energy or climate change. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to substitute — right here and right now — relatively clean sources of energy for relatively dirty ones, and to do so mainly by relying on the fact that producers and industry will do so on their own simply by responding to ordinary economic incentives — incentives rooted in abundance and in the emergence of a world-beating U.S energy industry that creates millions of good jobs in the process.
2. Mamma mia did we ever not like the idea of Taliban dirtbags being hosted at Camp David. From the beginning of the editorial:
The best thing to be said for the planned Camp David meeting with the Taliban is that it didn’t happen.
President Trump has a weakness for the grand gesture. Hosting the leadership of a vicious, terrorist insurgency that aided and abetted September 11 and is trying to kill Americans as we speak certainly would have been . . . memorable.
The invitation was part of the effort to bring to a conclusion negotiations that were close to a deal, although not one favorable to the interests of the United States.
The deal envisioned the U.S. reducing its current troop presence of roughly 15,000 down to zero about 16 months from now, at which point any commitments the Taliban had made would be worthless. We understand the frustration with a war that has lasted 18 years, but it would be foolish to end the “endless war,” or our part of it, with the Taliban once again in position to threaten Kabul and harbor international terrorists who mean us harm. We’ve had recent experience with a president following through on campaign pledge to end a war no matter what — and, of course, Barack Obama had to order troops back to Iraq when ISIS took over a swathe of the country.
3. We are against the trend of cancelling GOP primaries. Let the voters vote. From the editorial:
Four states so far have canceled their Republican primaries: Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina (which means Sanford won’t be able to vote for himself). The president says he has nothing to do with these decisions, but also that holding primaries he is sure to win would be a waste of money. The susceptibility of this argument to abuse by a ruler ought to preclude its being made.
The vast majority of Republicans approve of what Trump has done on taxes, judges, regulation, and most other issues, though they also support electoral competition. Trump would be likely to win the primaries handily, demonstrating his strength among Republicans while the Democrats tussle. His allies should want to see that, rather than make it seem as though he is too weak to face competition. But regardless of how it works out for him, Republican primary voters are capable of making the decision among Trump and the others — who so far include William Weld and Joe Walsh as well as Sanford. They deserve to be able to do so.
4. And then there is Beto daft. His gun-running-at-the-mouth exposes and confirms what we all knew: His party wants to confiscates those things you have a right to bear. From our editorial:
At the Democratic-primary debate in Houston last night, Beto O’Rourke formally killed off one of the gun-control movement’s favorite taunts: The famous “Nobody is coming for your guns, wingnut.” Asked bluntly whether he was proposing confiscation, O’Rourke abandoned the disingenuous euphemisms that have hitherto marked his descent into extremism, and confirmed as plainly as can be that he was. “Hell yes,” he said, “we’re going to take your AR-15.”
O’Rourke’s plan has been endorsed in full by Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and is now insinuating its way into the manifestos of gun-control groups nationwide. Presumably, this was O’Rourke’s intention. But he — and his party — would do well to remember that there is a vast gap between the one-upmanship and playacting that is de rigueur during primary season, and the harsh reality on the ground. Prohibition has never been well received in America, and guns have proven no exception to that rule. In New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, attempts at the confiscation of “high capacity” magazines and the registration of “assault weapons” have both fallen embarrassingly flat — to the point that the police have simply refused to aid enforcement or to prosecute the dissenters. Does Beto, who must know this, expect the result to be different in Texas, Wyoming, or Florida? Earlier this week, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives was unable to marshal enough votes to pass a ban on the sale of “assault weapons” — let alone to mount a confiscation drive. Sorry, Robert Francis. That dog ain’t gonna hunt.
A Dozen and Then Some Conservative Mallomars, Chocolatey Delicious and In Season
1. Putting the ban in Taliban: Andy McCarthy hollers to the thugs being accepted at Camp David. To say our comrade supports the kill-or-capture alternative is an understatement. From the piece:
President Trump is antsy because he promised his base an end to “endless wars.” Alas, in the real world of hard choices, removed from rally-hall rhetoric, war does not come with an end date. The “endless war” trope betrays that, for all the president’s claims to a new realism regarding “radical Islamic terrorism,” he is missing the point. Afghanistan is not the war. The war is against the jihadist forces of sharia supremacism. We have to fight them wherever they work to stage attacks against the United States, our allies, and our interests.
For the foreseeable future, that will be an endless duty of American presidents. It is a modest commitment compared with past American wars. For example, if we just take Afghanistan-related operations, there have been approximately 2,400 military personnel killed since 2001. Obviously, every life is precious, but this total over 18 years is a thin fraction of the more than 58,000 American military personnel killed in nearly 20 years of the Vietnam War, to say nothing of the more than 400,000 killed in World War II.
2. Victor Davis Hanson looks at James Comey and his FBI posse, who were hellbent on kneecapping a new presidency. From the article:
In other words, Mueller most certainly would not be looking into any other sort of collusion between the U.S. government, foreigners, and Russia in 2016 — such as Hillary Clinton’s hiring of British national Christopher Steele, who relied on conniving Russian sources to create dirt on the campaign of Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump. Much less did the Mueller team examine Steele’s prolonged efforts to seed his wild and unproven allegations into a quite receptive Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA.
Comey’s leaks, and the subsequent outrage they incurred, did not just ensure a new independent investigation of Donald Trump, his nemesis, who had ended Comey’s long Washington career. It also had the effect of guaranteeing that Comey’s own unethical role in hiring Steele and the FBI’s leaking of his salacious findings to news outlets before the election — acts that defined real foreign interference in the 2016 campaign — would never be examined by Mueller and thus would never enter the media-crazed narratives about foreigners colluding with presidential candidates to damage their opponents.
Yet despite taking more than 22 months and costing over $30 million in costs, the Mueller team’s investigation found no collusion and no grounds for indicting Trump on obstruction of the non-crime of collusion. So, many months and millions later, Mueller ended up exempting the real Russian collusion while chasing in vain the fake collusion.
3. Kevin Williamson nails the progressive belief — make that certainty! — that any opposing view is illegitimate, and anyone holding such merits is targeting. From the essay:
The American polity, like a magnet, is polarized because it has two poles, for which the Republican and Democratic parties are rough proxies. Why does the United States have two political poles? Because it has two major political tendencies. Goldberg and Greenberg write of polarization, but they do not believe in it. They do not understand the United States as having two legitimate competing political camps but as suffering from a kind of infection in the form of the Republican party, which inhibits the normal and healthy — meaning Democrat-dominated — political life of the United States. They believe that something they call the “New America” has an unquestionable natural moral right to rule and that the Republican party is not a competing pole but a blockage. To write as Greenberg does that the Democratic party is to be liberated by the practical elimination of the Republican party, and hence able to operate unencumbered, is to embrace not only the end of the GOP but the end of ordinary political opposition.
It is not beyond imagining that the Republican party should decline into corporate incoherence and irrelevance: Its leadership is self-serving and feckless, and many of its subdivisions (including many state and local Republican-party units) are corrupt to varying degrees, and too often stupid where they are not corrupt. (This is not a universal condition; some of them are both corrupt and stupid.) But imagine the GOP being vaporized tomorrow by the political equivalent of a kind of neutron bomb in reverse, eliminating the infrastructure and real estate but leaving the people. What would be left behind? For one thing, there would remain an American electorate that was almost evenly divided (+/- 2 percent) about whether Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a more desirable president — with the pro-Trump side comprising a majority of the people in a majority of the states. It would include a country in which there are more Americans who believe that immigration should be reduced than who believe it should be increased; in which a large majority of the population supports restrictions on abortion and more than 80 percent support a ban on late-term abortion; it would include a country in which work requirements for welfare benefits are overwhelmingly popular; it would be a country in which about half of the people still oppose the Affordable Care Act.
4. The oversold hurricane/climate-change nexus is part of an agenda and, says Judith Curry, distracts from giving attention to shoring up vulnerabilities to the impact of these storms. From the analysis:
Last month, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Task Force, consisting of eleven international experts on hurricanes and climate change, published two assessment reports. Unlike the IPCC’s, which focus on consensus statements, the WMO reports discussed disagreement among the authors, distinguishing the issues on which there was substantial agreement among the authors from those on which there was substantial disagreement owing in part to limited evidence.
Any convincing claim that man-made climate change has altered hurricane activity requires identifying a change in hurricane characteristics that can’t be explained by natural climate variability. The only conclusion on which there was high agreement among the WMO Task Team members was that there is low-to-medium confidence that the location of typhoons in the North Pacific has changed as a result of climate change. The team members disagreed as to whether any other observed alterations in hurricane activity could be said to have been discernibly influenced by man-made climate change.
The WMO reports discussed a number of more speculative statements about the relationship between hurricane behavior and climate change, which could very well be false and overstate the influence of man-made climate change. There is some evidence suggesting contributions from man-made climate change to: an increase in the average intensity of the strongest hurricanes since the early 1980s; an increase in the proportion of hurricanes reaching Category 4 or 5 in recent decades; and the increased frequency of Hurricane Harvey–like extreme precipitation events in the Texas region. There is also evidence suggesting a decrease in how fast hurricanes move, but that has not been attributed to man-made climate change with any confidence. The WMO Report states that there is disagreement among the authors about whether these trends reflect the influence of man-made climate change.
5. John Hirschauer finds that Howard Husock’s new book, Who Killed Civil Society?, asks and answers a vital question. From the beginning of the review:
If civil society is dead — and evidence of its decay abounds, from the derelict exurban brownstones that were once home to orphanages and industrial schools to the ever-dwindling numbers of community organizations — Howard Husock’s question is one worth asking. In his new book Who Killed Civil Society? he explores the confluence of cultural, political, and economic developments that destroyed the “mediating institutions” that once imparted “middle-class values” to the poor and destitute.
It is a story told through anecdote, first through the eyes of Husock’s orphaned father, on whose behalf “a private organization called the Juvenile Aid Society, staffed in large part by volunteers, stepped in and provided a solid foundation for his life.” The Juvenile Aid Society “sought to shape his values — to inculcate the norms that are sometimes mocked as ‘bourgeois.’” These norms have been abandoned, in his eyes, to the great peril of the poor.
The book chronicles the evolution of social services from the late 19th century to the present, using emblematic figures — philanthropists, reformers, and ideologues — as vehicles to chart its development. This is Husock’s means of personalizing what is, in part, an impersonal plot: Whatever the role of individual social-service agents, it was the whirlwinds of legislative and cultural revolution that would destroy value formation and civil society in turn.
6. Rich Lowry wonders if Bernie Sanders, getting his Malthus on while campaigning, has ever met a person who he thought the world would be better off without. From his new column:
At least Bernie Sanders is an equal-opportunity misanthrope. He doesn’t like rich people, and it turns out he doesn’t necessarily like poor people, either.
At the CNN town hall on climate change, a questioner asked the socialist senator if he’d be “courageous” enough to endorse population control to save the planet. Sanders answered “yes,” and then, after referring to abortion rights, endorsed curtailing population growth, “especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies.”
He’s looking at you, sub-Saharan Africa.
The Sanders riff is the latest instance of a rising anti-natalism on the left, which has gone from arguing that carbon emissions are a problem to arguing that human beings are a problem. They release carbon emissions, don’t they? Q.E.D.
7. Brian Allen thinks the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon cuts the mustard for its housing of weird and fantastic modern stuff. From his commentary:
The nicest surprise was in Dijon. I wrote about the gorgeous Museum of Fine Arts in this lovely, small city, once the seat of the Dukes of Burgundy and, yes, the place that launched a thousand mustard shops. The museum’s smashing collection of Old Masters is located in the old ducal palace, just renovated at only €60 million, a feat of fiscal prudence that made my tightwad Vermont heart swell with awe and admiration.
My local museum, the Clark Art Institute, spent twice as much for a so-so result. New York City’s Museum of Modern Art wins the prize for biggest behemoth, though, with a $400 million renovation about to open on top of the $800 million expansion a few years ago. In New York style, if it’s not expensive, it can’t be any good. That thinking, of course, seems bizarre to Vermonters like me. We unreconstructed Yankees abhor spending a ton of money. American museums tend to spend too much and to spend it on shops, restaurants, people-processing spaces, and introductory video spaces, each more related to public relations than art. The French would call it gauche.
Dijon puts its money where its art is. The Museum of Fine Arts is a superb museum in the center of the city, but it also has a small contemporary art museum called the Consortium. I knew only its barebones story. It opened in 1977, before the Pompidou Center in Paris, and still is the place in France to show bleeding-edge art. It’s in an unglamorous neighborhood near the center of town, in a modern, purpose-built, but entirely unobtrusive building. It gave Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince their first solo shows. Jenny Holzer, Maurizio Cattelan, Daniel Buren, Lari Pittman, and Lynda Benglis had revelatory, early shows there. Its building is minimal in style — very Japanese — but the museum itself is maximalist in intent and ambition. It shows good art, period.
8. Huey Long was a bona fide turd who wasn’t assassinated, unlike his “assassin.” Ellen Carmichael serves up some long-overdue justice. From her piece:
Long’s proclivity for payback extended far outside the state legislature and into the lives of thousands of ordinary Louisianans. Because so many relied upon civil-service employment during the Great Depression, Long effectively controlled the most secure jobs in the state. State workers, even janitors, were forced to pledge fealty to Long, and those who did not soon learned that they had been fired. Meanwhile, small-business owners who refused to sign loyalty oaths would lose vital contracts with state hospitals, schools, and prisons.
Though many people were hurt at the hands of Long and his cronies, perhaps none suffered more gravely than the Pavy and Weiss families. Benjamin Pavy was an anti-Longite judge in St. Landry Parish whose judicial district Long gerrymandered in hopes of preventing him from winning reelection. Judge Pavy had planned to retire, but for insurance, Long allegedly began spreading a rumor that Pavy had “Negro blood,” hoping to delegitimize him in the eyes of voters.
9. And you thought it was about the shareholders! Matthew Continetti investigates Corporate America’s weakness for wokeness. From his piece:
Time was, CEOs of mighty enterprises shied away from politics, especially hot-button social and cultural issues. They focused instead on the bottom line. They maximized shareholder value by delivering goods and services to customers. Some businessmen still operate by this principle. In doing so they provide not only for their employees and CEOs and board members but also for the institutions — pensions, individual retirement plans, index funds, hospitals, philanthropies — that have invested in their companies.
That is no longer enough for many of America’s richest and most powerful. Suddenly, corporate America has a conscience. Every week brings new examples of CEOs intervening in political, cultural, and social debate. In every instance, the prominent spokesmen for American business situate themselves comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum. Shareholder capitalism finds itself under attack. Not just from socialism but also from woke capitalism.
These outbursts are not just virtue signaling. Nor is the left-wing tilt of corporate America merely a response to the “rising American electorate” of Millennial, Gen Z, and minority consumers. What is taking place is not a business story but a political one. What is known as “stakeholder capitalism” is another means by which elites circumvent democratic accountability.
10. Joseph Loconte calls for a revival in Lockean liberalism. From the outset of his essay:
In the summer of 1704, English philosopher John Locke began writing a response to a critic of his controversial treatise on religious freedom, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). It was, in fact, the third letter from Locke addressed to Jonas Proast, a chaplain at Oxford University, who insisted that government coercion in religious matters was necessary to preserve social order. Locke fired back: “Men in all religions have equally strong persuasion, and every one must judge for himself,” he wrote. “Nor can any one judge for another, and you last of all for the magistrate.”
Locke died before finishing the letter, but his revolutionary voice is being heard once again. A manuscript titled “Reasons for Tolerating Papists Equally with Others,” written in Locke’s hand in 1667 or 1668, has just been published for the first time, in The Historical Journal of Cambridge University Press. The document challenges the conventional view that Locke shared the anti-Catholicism of his fellow Protestants. Instead, it offers a glimpse into the radical quality of his political liberalism, which so influenced the First Amendment and the American Founding. “If all subjects should be equally countenanced, & imployed by the Prince,” he wrote, “the Papist[s] have an equall title.”
11. Brexit One: Breaking just after our last WJ, here is on-the-scene Kyle Smith ratting out the Brexit saboteurs. From his report:
Any hopes that the British government might actually go ahead and achieve Brexit, after more voters supported it than have ever voted for anything in the entire history of this formerly great country, were pretty well dashed this week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a spectacular series of defeats in the House of Commons, capped by the utterly humiliating departure of his own brother Jo, a Remainer, who quit both his brother’s government and his seat in the Commons rather than be an ally for the Brexit Johnson has repeatedly promised would occur, “do or die,” on October 31. Jo Johnson said he was putting “the national interest” ahead of party and family.
After many in his own party deserted him, and, more to the point, deserted the country, by joining the pro-EU coalition in Parliament, a bill set to become law on Monday will require Johnson to go on bended knee to the EU to seek a second extension. After that outcome is secured, a general election looms.
In proving that it is terrified of a no-deal Brexit, Parliament has effectively stripped the United Kingdom of all its negotiating leverage and made it probable that nothing like a clean break with the EU will occur. What Britain will wind up with will evidently either be continued EU membership or some sort of sham Brexit like the one that was repeatedly rejected when Theresa May tried to sell it to the Commons.
12. Brexit Two: Madeleine Kearns gives the lay of the political land back in the UK. From her piece:
In short, [Boris] Johnson’s campaign strategy is to speak over and above the noise of Parliament and directly to the people. As outlined above, his message is straightforward enough. And as far as optics go, he has the advantage of being the polar opposite of Theresa May, who, readers will remember, was badly punished by voters in the 2017 general election for having the approximate charisma of a wet blanket.
To summarize, Johnson’s deliberately confrontational parliamentary strategy involves: 1) Purging the parliamentary party of MPs he deems disloyal; 2) continuing preparations for a no-deal Brexit; and 3) bringing about a general election.
As for Johnson’s theatrical campaigning strategy, it involves: 1) The political persona he has been creating for himself since childhood, that of a fun and bold guy. 2) The political narrative that he has been attempting to forge over the past few years, that he is a true statesman, prepared to do whatever needs to be done during a time of national crisis, like Churchill. 3) The fact that he is neither Theresa May (who failed to offer her own party, let alone the country, a vision of Brexit) nor Jeremy Corbyn.
13. Brexit Three: Michael Brendan Dougherty handicaps the reasons to be for or against Brexit becoming a reality. From his analysis:
The case for Brexit happening boils down to this: Boris Johnson is prime minister, and his political career depends on effecting Brexit. And not just his, but the Tory party’s survival would be imperiled by the failure to Brexit. Nigel Farage is waiting with his Brexit party, ready to eat the decaying carcass of this one dominant political body. Working in Johnson’s favor is that he is significantly more popular than Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party who cannot be thrown out, but whom hardly anyone seems to want to make prime minister. When an election comes, and it must, a Johnson-led majority would owe its position to a prime minister who has a mandate to take the U.K. out. European patience for Brexit is also running short. Uncertainty threatens to bring about recession in a weakening German economy. Emmanuel Macron wants to push an ambitious vision for the European Union, and a long-term vegetative-state Brexit is a threat to them.
Then again, maybe not. Think about it. Why did Boris Johnson have to expel 21 Tories from his party? Were they not sufficiently motivated by the threat of the Brexit party to act, and act swiftly? Can they not read the polls? Of course they can. But they read their personal email, too. And overhear dinner conversations.
The structural problem isn’t just that there is a different sentiment reigning in Parliament than among the people, as if the previous election were a mere accident that will be corrected by another. No, the problem is that Britain’s political and larger metropole elite class is much more in line with Remain than with Brexit. The increased pace of defections is a sign that this class is increasingly polarized against the Brexiteers. Johnson’s demand that his party get on board with his brinkmanship in a negotiating strategy is straining the relationship of elite Tories with their social set, including their families.
14. Brexit Four: Richard Reinsch believes Boris’s hands are not completely tied. From his analysis:
The best option is for Johnson to defy the Benn-Burt bill itself by refusing its demands to obtain extension for Britain’s EU exit. The possibility of following such a course has predictably drawn the widest criticisms from members of Parliament. David Lidington, who was deputy prime minister in Theresa May’s government, remarked that “it is a fundamental principle that we are governed by the rule of law that I hope no party would question it.” An anonymous cabinet minister stated, “As a government we abide by the rule of law, or you don’t stay in office.” Sir Ken MacDonald, a Liberal Democratic MP and former prosecutor, noted that Johnson could be jailed if he refused to heed the Benn-Burt legislation. This crew, though, should be careful what they wish for. They are members of the same body that refuses to provide any means for an effectual withdrawal of Britain from the EU, the instructions they were given by the people in the Brexit vote and which everyone understood during the Remain/Leave campaign were to be conclusive on this matter. It is a bit rich.
What Johnson has understood from the moment he stepped into No. 10 Downing Street, unlike his predecessor, Theresa May, is that movement and pressure from his office are required to achieve Britain’s reclaiming of its sovereignty. He has acted as an executive leader, fully accountable and fully energized, taking the fight to his domestic opponents and his foreign enemies. To Brussels he has given every indication of a so-called “No-deal Brexit.” Such a path will inflict short-term pain on the U.K., but it will also inflict pain on its trading partners in the EU. Thus, Brussels knows that with Johnson, unlike with May, the unthinkable is now a distinct possibility: Is it time to make a better deal with the U.K.? Benn-Burt aims to cripple Johnson on this point, taking his leverage off the table by foreclosing a No-deal Brexit, and giving the initiative back to Brussels, delaying (perhaps permanently) Britain’s exit.
15. Armond White finds the new documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, politically predictable. From his review:
In Chinatown, Faye Dunaway made her first indelible impression with the line “I don’t make threats, my lawyer does.” You might expect a savvy Vanity Fair article to find use for that modish quote in a piece depicting infamous lawyer Roy Cohn as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s eager young HUAC sidekick who became a legendary fixer for Mafia figures and other rich and powerful New Yorkers. That the Chinatown quote never embellishes Where’s My Roy Cohn? is the only surprise in this stylish, politically predictable doc by former VF writer Matt Tyrnauer.
Cohn had figured prominently in Tyrnauer’s 2018 doc Studio 54 as a gay-friendly facilitator for nightclub owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, whose exploits perfectly fit Tyrnauer’s determination to make docs that flattered infamous or enviable celebrities. But this time Tyrnauer takes a different VF tactic, demonizing Cohn with straight-face, slick-page snark. Throwing shade at disgraced public figures is the new journalism.
16. More Armond: He finds JLO’s Hustler to be appalling. There is a motherload of context here — all of it delicious. From the review:
Every scene in this caper-voyeur flick lays out the greedy, heartless schemes run by a group of NYC strippers led by Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Destiny (Constance Wu), Mercedes (Keke Palmer), Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Diamond (Cardi B). They become drug dealers and extortionists to Wall Street businessmen while whining about the 2008 financial crisis. Exploiting themselves to exploit the men who exploit them is tautology that makes sense only to feminist ideologues and Hollywood panderers.
Despite Millennial blather about female agency and economic equality, Hustlers is in a familiar line of post-Madonna Hollywood procurement fantasies. Each woman’s sob story about abuse and resentment brought me back to a 1990 incident: A middle-aged female friend interrupted a group of adolescent girls fawning over Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She asked them, “What do you think about her being a prostitute?” and the teenager gaggle shot back, “She’s not a prostitute!” Hollywood passed off Roberts’s hooker as Cinderella — or maybe Eliza Doolittle. Naïveté is an easy training ground for the oldest profession.
Then, in 1996’s Set It Off, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett, and Kimberly Elise played hard-luck blue-collar women who become bank robbers to make ends meet. (The premise was later repeated by Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes in 2001’s Mad Money, corrupting the age-old wisdom of women having their own financial means.)
In 1998, rapper Ice Cube performed a tour de force of writing, directing, and acting in The Players Club, a ribald yet serious street drama about Diamond (LisaRaye McCoy), a single mother in Los Angeles who becomes a stripper, literally “working her way through college,” as a 1952 Virginia Mayo–Ronald Reagan movie promised. But Cube’s vernacular classic — and LisaRaye’s bodacious characterization — faced down moral hypocrisy and its unpleasant costs for some. Cube bluntly explored underclass economic advancement, yet liberal Hollywood typically overlooked the achievement of an unpredictable black independent filmmaker pre-Obama.
17. Alexandra DeSanctis explores the policy ideas that might make it more affordable for couples to have bigger families (or any family). From her piece:
The annual American Family Survey (AFS), released this morning, suggests that while most Americans used to consider cultural concerns the most important problem facing families, they now see economic concerns as a more pressing issue.
It’s not surprising, then, that young couples and parents report having fewer children than they’d like for economic reasons. Last summer, a New York Times/Morning Consult survey found that one in four adults ages 20 to 45 who are parents, or hope to be, said they had fewer children or expected to have fewer children than they considered ideal. Three of the primary reasons for that disparity were child-care expenses, financial instability, and general concerns about the state of the economy.
That reality has driven much of the work of the Social Capital Project undertaken by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC), a multi-year research effort spearheaded by the JEC’s chairman, Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah). The project aims to document trends in what its mission statement calls “associational life” in the U.S., a “web of social relationships through which we pursue joint endeavors—our families, communities, workplaces, and religious congregations.”
The family is first on that list for a reason. Many conservatives, especially social conservatives, acknowledge the family as the fundamental unit of a strong, flourishing society. The JEC clearly recognizes as much: On Tuesday, it held a hearing intended to explore factors affecting family affordability and policies that might encourage Americans to start and raise families.
The New Issue of NR Flexes Its Big Muscles and Man Oh Man Are Those Ever-Great Guns
So the new September 30, 2019, issue is hot off the presses and in the mail — you’ll get it soon if the mailman does his bit, or immediately on NRO (for those this side of the paywall) or if you are an NRPLUS subscriber. (You’re not? Become a member right now, right here.) It’s another very special issue — this one contains a slew of exceptional pieces on guns. Let’s recommend two of those articles, and a couple of other pieces.
1. Tim Sandefur makes the case that since quill was put to parchment, the Constitution has been seen as opposing slavery. From his essay:
The constitutional crisis over slavery erupted in 1819, when Missouri sought admission to the Union as a slave state. Any hopes that slavery might be quarantined and extinguished were suddenly shaken. Anti-slavery figures such as John Quincy Adams, then secretary of state, immediately grasped the legal problems. First, advocates of Missouri’s admission argued that Congress had no constitutional authority to bar slavery in the nation’s western territories—and Adams found himself nearly alone in claiming otherwise. As a result, Adams wrote, slavery’s champions had “been victorious by the means of accomplices and deserters, from the ranks of Freedom.” Second, the admission of Missouri contradicted the prohibition in Article IV of the Constitution against states’ denying Americans the “privileges and immunities” of citizenship. That clause requires states to admit citizens of other states on equal terms. But Missouri’s proposed constitution prohibited free black Americans—who could be citizens in other states—from entering the state.
The outcome of that debate was the famous Missouri Compromise, which included a provision that waved away this problem with meaningless verbiage. Missouri’s constitution, Congress declared, must “never be construed to authorize the passage of any law . . . by which any citizen . . . shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled.” This was legal gibberish, given the lack of agreement over what these “privileges and immunities” were, and Adams saw through it immediately. Violating the Constitution in order to admit a new slave state, he warned, was the beginning of the end of the union.
2. That 70s Show: Vance Serchuk says Putin thinks he is Nixon and Kissinger when it comes to the Middle East. From his essay:
Even Israel, America’s closest Middle Eastern partner, has come to embrace Moscow’s role as a regional power broker, hosting a first-of-its-kind summit of U.S. and Russian national-security advisers in Jerusalem in late June. While both the Trump administration and Israeli officials were quick to portray the gathering as an exercise in isolating Iran—testing the potential to separate the Kremlin from its erstwhile accomplice in Syria— the meeting sent another message to the region: about the acceptance of Russia by the Jewish state as a coequal to the U.S. in shaping the future of the Levant.
How did Moscow pull this off? In Washington foreign-policy circles, it is generally recognized that Russia’s return to great-power status in the Middle East has somehow run through the conflagration in Syria, where the Kremlin has—to use a shopworn phrase—“played a weak hand well.” What is less appreciated is that President Vladimir Putin has achieved this feat by applying the same great-power-competition playbook that was successfully deployed against Russia by the United States during another Middle East war nearly 50 years ago.
3. Guns One: Robert VerBruggen leads off the special section with an essay clarifying the enormous use of guns by Americans engaged in defending themselves. From his essay:
One day at 5:30 A.M., a man with a machete hacked at two doors, leaving a trail of broken glass, to force his way into a DeKalb County, Ga., home. What he planned to accomplish once inside, though, we’ll never know: The home owner had a gun, confronted the in truder, and fired two shots, killing him.
This is what’s known as a defensive gun use, or DGU. It is abundantly clear that such things happen regularly in this country, which should not surprise us: We have 323 million people, at least as many guns, and plenty of crime, so periodically a person will use a gun to stop a crime. The National Rifle Association’s “Armed Citizen” report, from which this case is drawn, compiles several incidents each week from local news stories.
But exactly how many times do things like this happen each year? Often enough to provide a big potential upside to buying a gun? Often enough that we should worry about various proposed gun-control measures’ reducing the number?
4. Guns Two: Charlie Cooke explains America’s most misunderstood firestick, the AR-15. From his piece:
It is difficult to overstate just how customizable the AR-15 is. Indeed, properly comprehended, the AR-15 is not so much a type of gun—in the way that, say, the Colt 1911 or Remington 870 are—as it is a weapons platform, on top of which a wide variety of different guns can be assembled. With the exception of the “lower receiver”—the mechanical heart of the weapon, and the part that the federal government legally considers a “firearm”—every single element on the AR-15 is swappable and modifiable, which, for a beginner, can be quite bewildering, but which helps explain why the platform has grown in popularity the way that it has. Before starting assembly, I was obliged to decide upon a stock, a buffer tube, a buffer spring, a buffer, an endplate, a castle nut, a pistol grip, a magazine, a selector switch, a bolt catch, a trigger, a hammer, a trigger guard, a set of takedown and pivot pins, a charging handle, a bolt-carrier group, and, depending on how involved I wanted to get, either an already-assembled upper receiver or the various parts that make one up. And this was before I got into the optional elements, such as sights, optics, bipods, and bottle openers (no joke).
Scouring the Internet during my initial investigation, I discovered just how far some builders have taken their customizations. I found a model decked out in Seattle Seahawks colors, replete with the number 12 on its Magpul PMAG magazine. I found a model that perfectly resembled a waving American flag. I found a model that looked like the weapons carried by the imperial stormtroopers in Star Wars. I even found a model decked out in the style of the Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty. For a gun that, like the Model T Ford, is famous for being black, the AR-15 is as protean as firearms get.
5. Teddy Roosevelt. Now there, writes Declan Leary, was a man who knew his way around guns. From his piece:
And yet there was one thing about which he wrote with even more excitement than his library: his gun. Or rather, his guns—he kept quite a few, including the obligatory revolver of a ranch owner and multiple shotguns. But his pride and joy, his single most prized possession, was a .45–75 half-magazine, pistol-gripped Winchester Centennial Model rifle.
We tend to think of guns—their nature, their purpose, their dangers—as social. But they were not so for Roosevelt. To him, these guns were the line between man and beast, and more broadly between man and nature. He was of course not ignorant of the fact that one man might turn a gun against another; a decade after Hunting Trips of a Ranchman he would do just that in war and earn praise of heroism for it. But this was not, in Roosevelt’s carefully discerning eyes, what guns were for. For a thousand men to fling a thousand bullets scattershot at a thousand others in hopes of hitting one or two of them is something of an indignity to the grace and art of the weapon.
One man, deep as he can get in whatever is left of the wilderness, balanced carefully on horseback—Roosevelt’s favorite for hunting was a calm, strong animal named “Manitou”—or kneeling on the ground, buttstock pressed firm in the shoulder, one eye locked down the sights toward his mark, finger steady on the trigger—this is a man, and a gun, in full. There is none of the furor and frenzy of war. There is none of the rage or passion of crime. There is man, beast, and untamed earth; and there is the magnificent machine with which he brings both beast and earth under his dominion.
1. The House of Commons speaker is supposed to be nonpartisan, which does not describe the departing anti-Brexit, immense-ego’d John Bercow, who, writes Tim Stanley in The Telegraph, threw centuries of tradition to the wind. From his column:
John Bercow resigned from the speakership the way he ran it: with partisanship, sentimentality and a billion words when one would do. His language is impenetrable; faux-clever. He sounds like Jane Austen giving directions to a foreign tourist.
He is also a classic example of a liberal wrecker, as opposed to a radical revolutionary. I like radicals because they’re honest and pure. They try to conquer the institution from the outside; scale its walls, pull it down. A liberal wrecker embeds himself in the heart of the institution; he pretends to be in sympathy with it, takes power and then slowly dismantles it, piece by piece. Usually in the name of saving it from itself.
The wrecker is a snob and a narcissist. He wants all the respectability and authority that comes from the institution and its history, but he also wants to remake it in his own image — so that future generations will see not the tradition, but the lingering impression of his own ideals. What he doesn’t realise is that age and continuity are the great ballasts to institutions; the moment he pulls them down, the institution collapses around his head.
RELATED: The Telegraph’s Rob Wilson says good riddance.
2. At Just Facts, James D. Agresti reports on a poverty relativity, and finds the poorest Americans are better off than the typical European. From the piece:
The high consumption of America’s “poor” doesn’t mean they live better than average people in the nations they outpace, like Spain, Denmark, Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. This is because people’s quality of life also depends on their communities and personal choices, like the local politicians they elect, the violent crimes they commit, and the spending decisions they make.
For instance, a Department of Agriculture study found that U.S. households receiving Food Stamps spend about 50% more on sweetened drinks, desserts and candy than on fruits & vegetables. In comparison, households not receiving Food Stamps spend slightly more on fruits & vegetables than on sweets.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that the privilege of living in the U.S. affords poor people with more material resources than the averages for most of the world’s richest nations.
Another important strength of this data is that it is adjusted for purchasing power to measure tangible realities like square feet of living area, foods, smartphones, etc. This removes the confounding effects of factors like inflation and exchange rates. Thus, an apple in one nation is counted the same as an apple in another.
To spot check the results for accuracy, Just Facts compared the World Bank consumption figure for the entire U.S. with the one from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. They were within 2% of each other. All of the data, documentation, and calculations are available in this spreadsheet.
It would be up to the government to define what is understood by “spreading intolerance”, or “blaming specific groups for broader societal issues”.
Being designated a “hate group”, it is underlined in the report, “would sit alongside proscription but not be linked to violence or terrorism, while related offences would be civil not criminal”.
Unlike proscribed groups that are banned for criminal actions, such as violence or terrorism, the designation of “hate group” would mainly be prosecuting thought-crimes.
The groups that Blair’s think-tank mentions as main examples of those to be designated hate groups are Britain First and Generation Identity. Both are political; Britain First is also an aspiring political party with parliamentary ambitions. If the report’s suggestions were to be adopted into law, these movements, if designated as “hate groups” would not be allowed “to use media outlets or speak at universities”. They would also not be allowed “to engage, work with or for public institutions”.
However, the report tries to assure us, “hate designation would be time-limited and automatically reviewed, conditioned on visible reform of the group”.
4. At The Daily Signal, Nile Gardiner says the departure of John Bolton from the White House leaves very big shoes to fill. From his analysis:
Bolton was also instrumental in shaping the U.S. response to the Venezuela crisis and a host of other international issues, from confronting Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East to pressuring NATO allies to invest more in the common defense.
Bolton rightly placed strengthening the transatlantic alliance at the very heart of strategic thinking in the White House and was a powerful adversary for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. He consistently stood up to Russian aggression and threats to Europe and made it clear at every opportunity to the Kremlin that the United States would stand with and defend its allies in the face of the Russian bear.
U.S. leadership in Asia was also bolstered under Bolton, and his support for Taiwan helped lead to the best U.S.-Taiwan relationship in 40 years. And he was at the forefront of the Trump administration pushing back on Chinese designs in the Indo-Pacific in ways that strengthened America’s presence and credibility.
5. Mitchell Lambert, writing in The College Fix, discusses how SJW efforts to get him fired from his Brooklyn College professorship have backfired. Indeed, he’s thriving. From his piece:
One of the distortions in the media coverage was the implication that a large number of students supported the protests. In fact, only a couple of hundred out of 18,000 students at the college participated in the protests. About two or three percent of the college’s student-and-faculty body signed an online petition to have me fired. The other 97 percent did not spend a minute on the question. Many students were on my side, but because CUNY’s left-wing administration suppresses conservatives, these students were silent.
In thinking about how to respond to authoritarian attacks, practical concerns are important. The best defense against suppression is private resources. Back in the 1970s I knew a couple who had worked at the U.N. but was fired from the U.S. Embassy during the McCarthy era. They took their resources and founded a retail store that built on their international connections. Since I am close to retirement, I was not worried financially. Dissenters in an authoritarian climate need to strategize how to accumulate resources that enable them to remain independent.
I made one major gaffe: an apology. When I wrote the blog, I meant it as humor. A friend convinced me to write that I had meant the blog to be satirical in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” I later discussed this with a libertarian economist who had been attacked in the Las Vegas newspapers, and he agreed that one should never apologize. Apologies give the pro-Antifa media an additional wedge. (See this.) When the mainstream media attacked Stephen Moore in the context of his Fed appointment, he kept apologizing, and I wish he hadn’t.
6. In City Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley makes the case for more and better foster care. It’s sorely needed. From the article:
Foster parenting is hard. National estimates suggest that about half of foster parents decide to stop during their first year. Families are often ill prepared for the challenges: the behavioral problems that many children exhibit, the medical concerns, even (and perhaps especially) dealing with the frustrating bureaucracy of the child-welfare system and family courts, as well as with the dysfunction of kids’ biological families. One reason that foster kids go through so many placements—a group is now suing the state of Kansas on behalf of children with more than 100 placements—is that many foster families can’t handle the job. “If you want to adopt a child [out of foster care] and you just think that, if you love them, they’ll love you back—that doesn’t work for most kids because of their history,” says Charity Hotton, director of Treatment Foster Care for Utah Youth Village. “A lot of them engage in really confusing behaviors, like, they love you one minute, and then they hate you the next minute. It’s ‘come here, go away, I don’t need you, but I’m going to demand that you do everything for me.’ We have to prepare the family for the idea that, for a long time, this is not going to be a reciprocal relationship.”
A “disrupted” adoption—meaning that a family after months (or even years) gives the foster child back to the state—is the worst of all outcomes. A child is initially told that he has found a “forever family,” and then that family decides that they can’t deal with him, after all. According to a 2012 report from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “disruption rates . . . range from about 10 to 25 percent.” For older kids, the numbers tend to be higher.
BONUS: Back at NRO, Kathryn Jean Lopez talks up Naomi’s new AEI report on foster care. From her column:
Honor Your (Foster) Mothers and Fathers is a new report by Naomi Schaefer Riley published by the American Enterprise Institute. Naomi has made it her business over the past few years to become an expert in adoption and foster care. I often think of adoption and foster care as akin to military service — so few of us serve, so we often don’t know the intense sacrifices necessary and the critical need there is for responsible citizens to step up to the plate. Naomi has been surveying the challenges and wants to help make it possible for there to be more foster families who can stay in the system for more than a year or two, so that the 443,000 children in foster care can have stable homes.
One of the things not to do, she recommends, is to start throwing more money at potential foster parents. That’s because the money that state governments tend to give seldom covers health-care and other expenses sufficiently, especially if there are special needs involved (which is so often the case with children who might have trauma in their history). Money isn’t typically the factor that is going to recruit the kind of people who want to step into the arena — the kind of people who are moved by the call to this service of love. And it’s also because young adults who spent time in foster care often remember the money — just how much it was and what it was used for. A child who is desperate for a little “normalcy” might not exactly feel at home if he’s feeling that the people who are supposed to love him unconditionally are in it for the money.
On the recent NR Cruise, Dale, once-upon-a-minor-leaguer, discussed a Hall of Fame pitcher (no, WJ ain’t naming him) who doctored the ball his entire career. The premise was: Why can he be in Cooperstown, but Pete Rose and the Steroid Boys of Summer not? A very debatable question, yes? But not here and now: No, this is mentioned because it impetused the author of Your Favorite Epistle to daydream about . . . spitball pitchers.
The Baseball Gods sought to forbid the practice — legal and juicy in the National Pastime’s earliest decades — in 1920. But the practitioners of slobbering made a con man-ish case (the unalterable physiology of their muck-dependent delivery) for being grandfathered, and the wish was granted to 17 of ’em. Most were out of baseball in a few years, but a few hung on for over a decade.
As luck would have it, two of the aging coots still tossing in the 1930s played in the last game featuring opposing, once-legal spitball hurlers. It happened May 3, 1932 at the Polo Grounds, when the visiting Dodgers pulled off an epic ninth-inning comeback win over the Giants. The losing pitcher was Clarence Mitchell, who came into the game with the Giants sporting a 7–5 lead. His spitball wasn’t working: He gave up a string of hits that was central to the Dodgers racking up eight runs. Mitchell — already famous (infamous) for hitting into the Billy Wambsganss unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series (he was a pitcher for the Dodgers, then known as the Robins) — took the loss (the final score was 11–7) against the Bums, and also chalked up a blown save.
Not blowing a save in that same game was Brooklyn’s aging (48!) reliever Jack Quinn, who retired the Giants’ one-two-three to close out the contest, and earned a save, his first of the season: Quinn, who had 247 career victories over 23 seasons, led the NL in saves that season and the year prior. On that afternoon at the Polo Grounds, maybe the Mighty Quinn (take it away Manfred Mann) wasn’t juicing up the orb (the 1920 “grandfathering” ruling declared the license to toss the juiced ball was kaput if the pitcher changed leagues, which he did in 1931, when he joined the Senior Circuit), but whether he was or wasn’t, it was the last time two of Baseball’s specialized throwbacks faced off.
Back to Mitchell and that 1920 World Series game featuring his famous triple play: He was hitting because he had come into the game in relief of the Robins’ starter Burleigh Grimes, the Hall of Famer who was in fact the last of the grandfathered spitballers to play in a Major League game. That came on September 20, 1934, at Ebbets Field. Hurling for the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, in relief for fellow Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt, Grimes faced three Dodgers, and recorded three outs.
One of his victims was Tony Cuccinello, who twelve years later almost won the AL batting crown (he hit .308 for the White Sox, but lost on the last day of the season to the Yankees’ Snuffy Stirnweiss — who went 3 for 5 against the Red Sox, one of those hits believed to be an error but ruled otherwise by a friendly scorekeeper — by .000087!). And twenty years after that, at a June 6, 1965, Sunday-afternoon doubleheader in The Bronx, the little old man, then a coach for the White Sox, shook hands with a five-year-old boy at the fence along the third-base line. He is now typing this missive.
So many died that day and since, many murdered, many in the act of defending our freedoms and protecting us from harm. Pray for the peaceful repose of their souls, and for the comfort of those left behind, and that we may all of us meet again one day in a place of everlasting peace.
God’s Blessings and Graces on You and All Yours,
Jack Fowler, who can be sent directions to Notlob at email@example.com.