Dear Weekend Jolters,
Not too far down, this missive is aburst with intellectual links and stimulating goodies that will leave your conservative heart-cockles warmed and aglow.
Interested in getting that same result, but greatly intensified, and prolonged? In a setting of luxury and camaraderie? Surround by a contingent of wonderful people, smart and fun and friendly? Wine and beer included?!
Yes, you say? Tremendous! And then there are also castles and cathedrals and walled cities and locks and vineyards and a boatload (literally!) of intellectual discussion.
OK, you already said yes. This is all very real, and all going to happen in April 2020 on the National Review Rhine River Conservative Cruise. There are still a few cabins available on the glorious AMA Waterways AmaMora, chartered for an NR-only experience and sailing April 19–26 from Basel to Amsterdam. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 140 lucky few — why shouldn’t that include you? It should! How happy you will be!! Contemplate the thrill of sailing up that glorious, historic, and lazy river while listening to the Mills Brothers and Dean croon, and find out how to make that happen at nrcruise.com.
Now, let’s get a-jolting!
1. The president’s impeachment defense isn’t working. From the editorial:
True to his smash-mouth style, honed in years of litigation and tabloid wars in New York City, Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong, in fact that his call with Ukrainian president Zelensky was “perfect.” His most loyal allies have taken up this line, and supporters wearing “read the transcript” T-shirts have been arrayed behind Trump at his rallies.
The problem with this defense on the merits is that the call wasn’t perfect. It was so clearly inappropriate that most of the professionals listening in real time were alarmed. The problem as a practical political matter is that maintaining the “perfect” line allows the president’s critics to score easy points every time another insider emerges to say he was disturbed by the call.
Meanwhile, Republicans have leaned heavily on the “no quid pro quo” argument that quickly emerged after the rough transcript of the call was released. The call doesn’t include an explicit quid pro quo, but it is suggestive of one, certainly combined with the unexplained withholding of defense aid to Ukraine. Here, too, more and more evidence has emerged — EU ambassador Gordon Sondland’s revised testimony is the latest example — that the aid package was conditioned on Ukraine’s committing to investigations that Trump wanted.
Overall, the White House and Republicans have been violating the first rule of a good defense counsel, which is not to deny things that are undeniable. It erodes your credibility and makes it harder to mount a better defense on other grounds.
Celebrate Rick Brookhiser’s Give Me Liberty . . .
. . . by listening to the amazing, 13-part podcast series, featuring Rick and Luke Thompson (and in one episode, the great Jay Nordlinger), that NRO has created. You’ll find a description of it all here. You’ll find the series’ home page here. And click on the following link if you have been a bad boy or girl who has yet to purchase a copy of Rick’s acclaimed new book, Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea.
If You Don’t Check Out These Fourteen Exceptional Pieces, I Will Be Sent to Bed without Supper. So Please Click and Read.
1. Rick isn’t the only one celebrating a new book this week: So is Rich Lowry, whose The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free is getting much and deserved attention. He shares one of its themes: that America’s national book is The Bible. From the piece:
The English became a Bible-soaked people. The availability of the Bible and the emphasis on it for direct access to the word of God put a premium on literacy, and England became a highly literate society by the standards of the day. The act of reading the Bible impressed on people their own dignity, a revolutionary spark that wouldn’t be extinguished. They were also exposed to the Old Testament notions of nationality and a chosen people, which came to have such a central role in English and American history.
On our shores, the Geneva Bible favored by Calvinists initially dominated (a version of it is sometimes referred to as the “breeches” Bible for its strikingly modest version of the story of Adam and Eve, who, having discovered their nakedness, “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves breeches”).
The first copy of the King James Bible may have been brought over by the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower. This translation won out and came to occupy an unparalleled place in the culture. Families often didn’t own any other book. It would be passed down in wills.
As the historian David D. Hall writes, “no book was read more often or in so many different ways: privately in silence, aloud in households where reading may sometimes have proceeded ‘in course’ through the Old and New Testaments, and in church services as the text for Sunday sermons.”
It wasn’t until the Revolution that the Bible could be legally published in America, and the floodgates opened to an insatiable market. By around 1800, the traveling Bible salesman and author Parson Weems (he gave us the story of George Washington and the cherry tree) could boast to his publisher of all the editions he was moving: “I tell you, this is the very season and age of the Bible. Bible Dictionaries, Bible tales, Bible stories — Bibles plain or paraphrased, Carey’s Bibles, Collins’ Bibles, Clarke’s Bibles, Kimptor’s Bibles, no matter what or whose, all, all will go down, so wide is the crater of public appetite at this time.”
2. More Nationalism: Michael Auslin reviews Colin Dueck’s Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism, and finds it a serious attempt to explain America’s post-9/11, Trump-saturated foreign policy. From the review:
Conservative nationalism, on Dueck’s view, can be traced back to the founding of the Republic. Far from a quixotic attempt to isolate America from the world around it, conservative nationalism aimed at protecting the infant country’s sovereignty while encouraging republicanism abroad, in line with American ideology. In this approach, Dueck modifies Robert Kagan’s thesis in Dangerous Nation, which argued that the ideological mission trumped a prudent focus on limitations to the American role abroad. Yet Dueck also differs from Walter McDougall, who in Promised Land, Crusader State argues that 1898 and the beginning of the American imperial moment marked the definitive break with traditional U.S. foreign policy. Dueck rather sees the change coming two decades later, with our entry into World War I and the emergence of a Wilsonian liberal internationalism that soon became the dominant foreign-policy orientation of 20th- and early-21st-century America.
There has been, however, no single Republican response to liberal internationalism. Dueck identifies three strands of the larger GOP foreign-policy tradition: noninterventionists, conservative internationalists, and hardline unilateralists. Mapping these varieties onto today’s conservatives would roughly equate the noninterventionists with the isolationist “paleocons” of the John Mearsheimer variety; conservative internationalists with the free-trade, nation-building “neocons” that ostensibly dominated the George W. Bush administration; and the hardline unilateralists with Trump. Age of Iron therefore contextualizes Trump’s differences not merely from Democrats, but from much of the Republican party, as well.
The core chapters of Age of Iron trace the history of Republican foreign policy from Teddy Roosevelt through Trump. Most of these decades Dueck characterizes as the “global versus national” approach, as successive Republican presidents and party leaders reacted to Democratic policies, especially those of FDR and Truman, and also to America’s dramatically changed position in the world after 1917 and especially 1945.
3. For all the know-it-alls, a true know-it-all, Andy McCarthy, reminds us that impeachment is unpredictable. From the article:
At this juncture, articles of impeachment based on the Ukraine scenario appear certain. There will be at least one charge of abusing the president’s foreign-relations power by encouraging a foreign government to investigate American citizens (the Bidens) for violations of the foreign government’s laws. A second article will likely allege that the president engaged in that abuse of power to further another one — specifically, to have the 2020 election influenced by the foreign power. Perhaps there will be an allegation that the president “extorted“ Ukraine, or in effect sought a “bribe,” by withholding vital defense aid to squeeze Kyiv into probing the Bidens. Almost certainly, there will be a charge of obstructing Congress’s investigation — for Democrats, it will be more effective to impeach Trump for failing to turn the over scads of information they will demand than to fight the president’s privilege claims in court, where Democrats could lose.
If the articles of impeachment are as just outlined, they would not move Senate Republicans toward removal. This is big wind, no rain. No matter what the president may have contemplated, nothing terrible actually happened. The Ukrainians got their aid. They did not have to commit to investigating the Bidens. And if this escapade has any discernible effect on the 2020 election, it will likely be to Trump’s detriment, not the Democrats’. Sure, Joe Biden’s candidacy takes a hit, but that was going to happen anyway — which is why Democrats have not shied from an impeachment push in which, inevitably, the former vice president becomes collateral damage.
But then again, we don’t know if this is all there is.
Democrats had their whistleblower held in reserve for a while before they decided it was time to pounce. Are they holding anything else? And whether they’re holding it or not, is there anything else? As we’ve seen, Trump is unorthodox (how’s that for euphemism?). His irregular behavior does not have to be materially damaging for Democrats and the press to portray it as the end of the Republic as we know it (see, e.g., Collusion, Russia).
4. David Harsanyi mocks the liberal media’s convenient love of things so-called. From the Corner post:
Not long after federal court in Manhattan blocked an HHS rule allowing doctors to refuse to perform abortions, assisted suicides, and other procedures for religious reasons, reporters began engaging in deft-defying acts of rhetorical deception.
It’s been long insinuated that concerns over religious freedom are merely elaborate schemes cooked up by bigots and misogynists. One of the ways journalists like to intimate bad faith is by placing quotation marks around perfectly factual phrases like “religious freedom” or “conscience.”
Now, it’d be another story if there were comparable journalistic standards for the usage of “gun safety” or “pro-choice,” or any of the thousands of debatable labels that have been appropriated for partisan purposes, but there aren’t. It is a standard almost exclusively deployed for “controversial” topics — which, loosely translated, means “conservative positions.”
Take, for example, this NPR headline: “Judge Scraps ‘Conscience’ Rule Protecting Doctors Who Deny Care For Religious Reasons.” If we’re handing out quotation marks why doesn’t the word “care” get them, as well? One, after all, could convincingly argue that a doctor whose “conscience” tells him to avoid harming other human beings is engaging in the very definition of the Hippocratic ideal.
RELATED: Charlie Cooke weighs in.
5. More Harsanyi: He goes after the bogus religious tolerance of Pete Buttigieg, alleged saint and POTUS wannabe. From the piece:
Take this recent interview with Adam Wren, in which Buttigieg was asked how “he would approach religious freedom broadly.”
“The touchstone has to be the idea that religious freedom, like other freedom, is constrained when it becomes a rationale for doing harm,” Buttigieg begins. “So when we talk about freedom of speech, that does not mean you can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
Let’s just stop here and note for the record that you can shout “fire” in a crowded theater. This infuriating analogy — issued by Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by untold thousands of censorship apologists — was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in our history.
The unanimous Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw a bunch of socialists, some of whom had fled czarist oppression, into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. The alleged “harm” of these anti-war activists — who were, in every sense, exercising legitimate political expression — was undermining recruitment efforts for World War I.
Even if, like me, you believe that most socialists would gladly throw you in prison if they got the chance, you may also realize that a truly free society doesn’t “constrain” dissent as a matter of ideological preference.
Does Buttigieg? He wants you to know that, like freedom of speech, religious freedom is really about protecting the minorities he likes. Buttigieg went on to inform Wren that “the original doctrines and federal legislative law go back to, I think, substances in rituals among Native Americans says [sic] about freedom to undertake religious practice.”
6. Robert VerBruggen looks at the data on low-skilled / unmarried men and sees important causes, but concludes that society isn’t going to rectify them. From the analysis:
We’re nearly a year out from That One Tucker Carlson Rant: the one where he talked at length about how the American economy had left behind low-skilled men and how that was ruining their chances at marriage. There was a lot of truth in this theory, as evidenced by the decline of the manufacturing sector, slow wage growth for the less educated, and growing numbers of men opting out of the labor force entirely, not to mention studies showing that women really do prize breadwinning in their mates.
But a new academic paper, from University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate Ariel J. Binder, asks us to remember that causation can run in the opposite direction too: The decline of low-skilled men’s marriage prospects could cause them to stop pursuing work. Binder shows this by looking at two major social changes that made low-skilled men less important as breadwinners. Combined, these shifts could explain 28 percent of the ten-point decline in the labor-force participation of young, non-college-educated men between 1965 and 2015.
Carlson said that “male wages declined” and added that “when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them.” Binder adds that even when men have a decent job, many women aren’t interested in them. And “when work is less likely to win a desirable marriage contract, why bother?”
7. Don’t let the door hit you in the . . . Jim Geraghty says gedowdaheer to Beto. From the analysis:
Last year I wrote that “the endless glowing profiles of O’Rourke in every publication from Vanity Fair to Spin to Rolling Stone to Town & Country represent the national media’s worsening challenge in differentiating between what it wants to see happen and what is actually happening.” Left-leaning writers and editors and producers across the country desperately wanted to see a Democrat who could win in Texas and convinced themselves that O’Rourke was that guy. To his credit, he came closer than any other Democrat has in a generation. That is still about 215,000 votes short.
What was striking about all of those 2018 profiles was how . . . surface-oriented they were, regularly mentioning O’Rourke’s old punk rock band, the skateboarding, the casual profanity which was inevitably interpreted as some sort of authenticity, the descriptions of his sweat, the inevitable reference to his Kennedy-esque looks and absence of any mention of his Kennedy-esque driving record. The tone and style of the profiles of O’Rourke weren’t all that different from the profiles of actors, musicians, and directors in Vanity Fair, GQ, and other celebrity magazines — a lot of personality and anecdotes and perfectly cinematic photo shoots. You could read for pages with little mention of anything O’Rourke had done in Congress, because as a member of the minority party, he hadn’t done much. The one race Barack Obama ever lost in his life, a congressional bid against Representative Bobby Rush, the incumbent dismantled the young and ambitious Obama with one devastating question: “Just what’s he done? I mean, what’s he done?” One could fairly put the same question to O’Rourke.
8. More Geraghty: He profiles special prosecutor John Durham, Washington’s least-known / most-important figure. From the article:
By 1991, Durham was leading the prosecution of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra. One of the most notorious gangsters of the era, William “The Wild Guy” Grasso, had been murdered, shot in the back of the neck and his body dumped in a patch of poison ivy by the side of the Connecticut River in Wethersfield. Around the same time, Grasso’s right-hand man, “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, had been shot outside an International House of Pancakes but survived. The FBI and Durham rolled in, convicting seven high-profile mobsters, including boss Nicholas Bianco for 11 years and 5 months in prison for racketeering. The Hartford Courant called Durham “an avenging angel” who had put one third of Connecticut’s mafia in jail and never lost a case. In a six-year period, Durham racked up 119 organized-crime convictions.
Durham’s foes in the courtroom weren’t just the mafia. He won a conviction of William Dodge, leader of the Ku Klux Klan in southern New England, on charges of illegal possession of firearms, silencers, and explosives. During the trial of one of Dodge’s fellow Klansmen, Scott E. Palmer, Durham had a dramatic confrontation with a Roman Catholic priest, the Reverend Mark R. Jette, who had testified that Palmer had reformed his hateful ways. “He is confident Scott Palmer has seen the error of his ways?” Durham asked, according to press accounts. He then presented two drawings Palmer had made in prison. The first was a skull and crossbones with the words, “White Power,” and a note saying, “Kill all the n*****s for Santa Claus.” The other “appeared to be an oval-shaped insignia. At the top was ‘LYNCH MOB’ and at the bottom was ‘WALLINGFORD CT.’ In the middle was a noose and a fiery cross.” The judge found Durham’s presentation of the sketches more compelling than the reverend and sentenced Palmer to the maximum 63 months on federal weapons charges.
Durham and law enforcement rounded up 42 members of the Puerto Rican street gang Los Solidos and put them all away for long sentences with convictions and guilty pleas. The Solidos’ crimes were the kind that could make hard men lay awake at night: In a case of mistaken identity, a group of Solidos mistook a gray Toyota driven a Hartford mechanic for the similar car of a rival gang member in Charter Oak Terrace housing project and opened fire. They shot the mechanic’s seven-year-old daughter, Marcelina Delgado, in the head. Every gang member charged in the murder was sentenced to life in prison.
9. John O’Sullivan says that on Brexit, Boris Johnson really must reach a deal with Nigel Farage. From the analysis:
Boris is enjoying leads in national opinion polls that range from 5 to 12 percent over Labour. That must tempt him to recklessness. But this will not be an election decided by a uniform national “swing” from left to right. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University, our premier psephologist (you’re reading Bill Buckley’s National Review — look it up), predicts that an unprecedented number of voters will cast ballots for neither of the two main parties. That alone will change the outcome in seats that might otherwise fall to a national swing. In addition, dedicated Remainers will be voting tactically in order to defeat the local Tory candidates. Already, an early poll of individual constituencies by Survation shows one Plymouth seat vulnerable to such voting where the Tory candidate, a strong Leaver, has accordingly made overtures to the Brexit party not to put up anyone against her. There will be more such cases in the next six weeks. All of this is playing out before the campaign, with its inevitable thrills and spills, has scarcely started. Boris’s deal, only now getting detailed scrutiny, is plainly open to serious attack as Howe’s article demonstrates. Nigel Farage, who is an effective campaigner, will subject it to merciless criticism around the country.
Vilifying him will not work, since voters know that he is not Jeremy Corbyn but has instead played a massive role in advancing Brexit from the periphery to the center of politics. Propaganda has to have some slight resemblance to the truth. And Farage is popular with the grassroots in both parties. In short, Boris and the Tories cannot take victory for granted. And if they fail to win this election, they will have the Brexit party on their tail more or less indefinitely and not necessarily as a minor party.
The way for Boris to handle both challenges is, oddly enough, by the same policy: reaching an electoral deal with Nigel. To remove one inevitable objection, neither man can be expected to compromise on his central Brexit platform. But that isn’t necessary since what is required is not a common policy platform but an electoral deal. Put simply, the Tories would not put up candidates in the 44 Labour-held seats in which UKIP (the Brexit Party’s predecessor) came second to Labour in the 2015 election. The Brexit party in return would not run candidates against the Tories in a specified number of seats — ranging from the 75 seats where UKIP came second to the Tories in 2015 to — more plausibly — every U.K. seat apart from the agreed 44. The practical advantages of this deal are obvious; the moral justification would be that both parties want to secure Brexit above all but accept also that conservative divisions over the best kind of Brexit should be represented in the House of Commons (and perhaps even on the government benches).
10. Daniel Tenreiro believes Twitter’s case for restrictions on political advertising make no sense. From the analysis:
Even if Twitter enacts its policy neutrally, barring political ads favors incumbents over newcomers and grassroots organizations. Lesser-known politicians and advocacy groups must now turn to television or print advertisements, which are more expensive, or try their luck gaining traction organically. President Trump, whose 66 million followers far outnumber those of any other current politician, will have a perennial messaging advantage over opponents. So will other celebrities with large followings, rendering fame a more potent force in American politics.
Not only does Twitter’s policy increase the premium on celebrity and incumbency, it incentivizes sensationalism. In Trump’s most retweeted post last year, he threatened a nuclear attack against North Korea; naturally, it drew a lot of eyeballs. Without the option to advertise, politicians and advocacy groups are forced into an arms race wherein the most shocking tweets win them followers. This might be why the American Civil Liberties Union has resorted to tweeting bold statements in all caps, repeated as many times as spatial constraints allow (see, e.g., “ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE. ABORTION IS A RIGHT”). For an organization with 100 attorneys on staff, it’s a decidedly reductive messaging tactic. On the other hand, why bother making a nuanced pro-choice argument that will be lost in a sea of similarly boring tweets?
In a New York Times op-ed supporting Twitter’s decision, tech journalist Kara Swisher wrote that “social media platforms have become hostage to all forms of abuse and manipulation, not just via political ads, and they’ve dragged us all with them into the cesspool.” Swisher takes for granted that political advertisements feed into this “cesspool,” but it’s hardly obvious. Before this policy change, Twitter maintained a public list of certified political-candidate and issue advertisers. Users knew which content was sponsored, and who was paying for it. In the case of false or misleading advertisements, watchdogs and fact-checkers could hold the sponsors responsible. The “abuse and manipulation” that Swisher speaks of is largely the result of bots built by foreign actors and unscrupulous news sites that use social media to drive traffic — as well as, let’s face it, well-meaning American citizens unaffiliated with political-action committees. In contrast to the cesspool of anonymous accounts sharing fake news, political advertisements are an oasis of transparency. At a time when shady elements have allegedly hijacked social media, should we really be targeting the Gates Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the National Parks Action Fund?
11. Michael Brendan Dougherty mocks the centrist elite and their contrived obituary-writing about the old liberal order. From the piece:
When I’m done ruminating on the depredations of the “deep state,” sometimes I wonder if there’s a dark room somewhere in which graduates from the Kennedy School of Government and the PPE programs of Oxford and Cambridge are programming bots and producing viral news sites to spread their messages across social media. From this den they amplify the voices of their resolutely centrist, establishment-oriented collaborators, creating an alternate reality.
In this reality, Brexit is already a disaster. Hungary and Poland are places of severe political repression. Donald Trump is subverting the Constitution and running a pro-Russia foreign policy. America has withdrawn from the world stage, having given up on global leadership. Angela Merkel is the “leader of the free world” and the only one trying to save the seven-decade-long liberal world order that is rapidly collapsing. The message is that there’s too much change and it’s terrifying.
Commentators have been building this picture for a long time. Bret Stephens wrote a book in 2014 titled America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. Stephens was mostly concerned with the rhetorical momentum that advocates of foreign-policy restraint had made in recent years. He could not really cite anywhere on earth that the United States military had actually stopped occupying. The great sin of the time wasn’t that President Obama had refused to intervene in Syria — U.S. Special Forces had been supporting various Sunni militias there since 2012 — but that he hadn’t intervened forcefully enough. The war in Afghanistan was only 13 years old, rather than 18, then. Simpler times.
12. Pointless! Wasteful! Sexist! Madeline Kearns flushes away the idiocy of gender-neutral bathrooms. From the article:
Polling consistently shows that most Americans care most about bread and peace. They do not generally give much thought to potty policies. And so, making such a policy a priority in a political campaign is likely to come across as out of touch and self-regarding — a fact the Democrats learned a little too late in 2016.
Nevertheless, many in the metropolitan elites like to accuse the Trump administration of having targeted transgender people. By reversing Obama-era policies, they say, Trump & Co. have robbed trans people of safe and pleasant bathroom experiences. But isn’t anyone curious how it all worked before Obama? And why is no one complaining about the various presidents before Trump who held the same approach to sex-segregated bathrooms?
What’s more, it’s not like presenting as the opposite sex is particularly new human behavior. Since the 1960s, a tiny number of individuals have even made a serious surgical commitment in more closely resembling the opposite sex. Life was, and no doubt is, difficult for such people. But how might this ideally play out? That is context-dependent, naturally. But if, for argument’s sake, we presume such a person to be sincere and well-meaning — as opposed to, say, a predator — then a natural relationship of trust might ensue. One where a woman washing her hands at the bathroom sink might do a double-take, realizing that she is in the presence of a man, but after carrying out an instinctual and internal risk assessment, decide all is fine. She might even smile and say hello.
But that is her prerogative, surely. The man in this rare hypothetical ought not to have a legal right to be there.
Moreover, if his legal right to be there trumps her right to privacy, then no allowance is made for the fact that, while some men presenting as women are benign and sincere, others are malign and predatorial. Wouldn’t the woman, then, be justified in feeling unsafe?
Many accept that she would. Which is why “gender-neutral” restrooms were introduced as an attempt at a compromise. Instead of people using whichever restroom they felt corresponded with their “gender identity,” it seemed more reasonable to have all gender-neutral bathrooms for everyone (including “non-binary” people). But is this reasonable?
13. Armond White sees the woke making a joke of slavery in Kasi Lemmon’s Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo as the famous fugitive. From the review:
These sentimental, actorly ploys recall the fact that Lemmons switched from a career as an actress (Silence of the Lambs) to indie director, for a better chance at success. Her films — Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me, and now Harriet — exemplify black striver’s syndrome. They are not culturally grounded so much as they show a hustler’s desperation, using race anxiety for success — the commercial and electoral formula that Obama made popular.
Actress Lemmons’s best performance was in Rusty Cundieff’s brilliant 1993 satire Fear of a Black Hat, in which she played a clueless journalist bent on exploiting hip-hop for nominal black triumph and, above all, her own egotistic ends. As in that tirade against Douglass, Harriet adds #MeToo feminism to Tubman’s puzzlement about her mission in life.
This Tubman bio-pic, with its trite, fashionable historical revision (bits of Hamilton, including actor Leslie Odom Jr.), is part of the plan to propel the tiny dynamo Erivo into movie stardom. Erivo’s eager-beaver energy and wild-eyed intensity epitomize unpleasant aggression rather than the strength of character that Cicely Tyson conveyed when she portrayed Tubman in the 1978 TV movie A Woman Called Moses.
In Harriet, Millennial hindsight and historical revision come off as pompous and patronizing.
14. Victor Davis Hanson finds the parameters of the Trump Doctrine as deterrence without intervention. From the essay:
But the problem with American policy after the Cold War and the end of the Soviet nuclear threat was that the U.S. was not really comfortable as an imperial global watchdog, we no longer had a near monopoly on the world economy that subsidized these expensive interventions, and many of these thugs did not necessarily pose a direct threat to American interests — perhaps ISIS, an oil-rich Middle East dictator, and radical Islamists excepted. What started as a quick, successful take-out of a monster sometimes ended up as a long-drawn out “occupation” in which all U.S. assets of firepower, mobility, and air support were nullified in the dismal street fighting of a Fallujah or a Mogadishu.
The bad guys were bothersome and even on occasion genocidal, and their removal sometimes improved the lot of those of the ground — but not always. When things got messy — such as in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Somalia — it was not clear whether the American use of force resulted in tactical success leading to strategic advantage. Often preemptive insertion of troops either did not further U.S. deterrence or actually undermined it — as in the case of the “Arab Spring” bombing in Libya.
At home, in a consistent pattern, the most vociferous advocates of preemptory war usually claimed prescient brilliance, as when the American military rapidly dislodged the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. But then came the occupation and post-war anarchy. As American dead mounted, the mission mysteriously creeped into nation-building. Sometimes, in the post-invasion chaos, the once noble liberated victims became the opportunistic victimizers. Depressed, some of the original architects of preemption blamed those who had listened to them. The establishment’s calling card became, “My weeks-long brilliant theoretical preemption was ruined by your actual botched decade-long occupation.” In extremis, few kept their support; most abandoned it.
Last Call! The Webathon Shuts Down on Sunday
This is not akin to Abraham badgering God over the fate of Sodom. No, not at all. But still, not all badgering is bad. Maybe it should sometimes be called goodgering? OK, that was dumb, but when the cause is just, the need real, the case plausible, there is a need to be, shall we say, repetitious.
And so we have, and we are again, this one last time: Since October 8 we have encouraged our readers — so many hundreds of thousands who eat, drink, sleep NRO, day in and out, year in and out, walking down the hallways clenching their FREE pass, piling on the edibles in the no-charge cafeteria — to help out, just a bit. We have bills big and relentless to pay here, and we have that damned National Review v. Mann case we are fighting on behalf of the First Amendment. The piggy bank isn’t even empty, because it was cracked open and plundered of its few coins years ago (how many years ago . . . let’s just say the then-president had the nickname “Ike”), so we ask and hope for reader assistance. Somewhere in the ballpark of 2,500 (a lot of good people, God bless them each and every one . . . but on a percentage basis, geeesh, that’s tiny) have responded, and somewhere in the ballpark of $295,000 has been donated.
Our goal is to raise $325,000. Our goal could, legitimately, be $500,000, or more, given our needs. But the one we have, a stretch, yep, is the matter at hand. Reaching it between today and tomorrow is feasible. If you are part of the feasery. Would you be?
If the answer is yes, then please donate here. It earns you our love and affection (which you have, regardless . . . even if you root for the Red Sox).
The “Education” Issue of NR Is Upon Us, Off the Presses, Hot (the Piping Kind), and Awaiting Your Eyeballs
Shall we share four pieces from the November 25, 2019, issue, two from the special section on education, and two other gems? We shall!
1. How about the cover essay? Kevin Williamson pens a brilliant analysis of Kanye West and his Jesus turn. From the beginning of the essay:
Kanye West is going to embarrass the Christians who have recklessly embraced him as a mascot. That much seems inevitable. But that’s okay: There are worse things than embarrassment, and Kanye West is an embarrassing guy — needy, arrogant, compulsive. His insecurity is as epic as it is perplexing in a man who by all appearances has everything. He is fabulously rich (though not quite as much so as his wife’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, a billionaire at 22), and he is married to a woman who is widely considered (de gustibus, etc.) the great sex symbol of her generation. They seem reasonably happy, and they have four children with goofy celebrity names — North, Chicago, Psalm, and Saint. He sells truckloads of expensive sneakers in collaboration with Adidas and has designed clothes for Louis Vuitton. All that and a measure of artistic respect, too — his musicianship and his verse both are deft and accomplished, widely admired even among those of his peers not well disposed to him. And the people line up behind the critics: Kanye has had four No. 1 hits, 17 in the top ten, and 96 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. He is 42 years old.
And he is kind of a mess.
Until West’s recent foray into MAGA politics and evangelism, what people who are, let us say, outside of the rap-music–reality-show–sneakerhead demographic knew him best for was being married to Kim Kardashian and having been rude to Taylor Swift at an award presentation, making “Imma let you finish” a meme and a catchphrase and leading Barack Obama, who apparently had a lot of spare time on his hands as president, to dismiss West as “a jackass.” It was not the first time West had done something like that, in fact. After losing out at an earlier awards ceremony, he threw a fit, concluding: “If I don’t win, the award show loses credibility.” He is not shy about asserting his importance: He titled one album Yeezus (another one, Yandhi, didn’t make it out) and has declared: “I’m unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” Some readers of this magazine will know him mainly for his having stood next to a very uncomfortable-looking Mike Myers at a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina and announcing: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Some of that nonsense is self-conscious marketing, a kind of grandly inflated version of the clickbait economy that keeps the gurgle churning, assembling a hectomillionaire’s fortune a fraction of a penny at a time. And that works: Kanye West’s Life of Pablo went platinum in the United States and gold in the United Kingdom on the strength of streaming alone, the first album to do so.
Maybe it is all part of a grand plan. Or maybe he just says the first thing to come into his head — which, lately, has been: “Jesus Is King.”
2. China expert Chris O’Dea hung with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and shares his views on the ChiComs. From the piece:
Signing a defense agreement between the United States and Greece during a brief ceremony at the Greek foreign ministry on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Athens, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo initiated a new American strategy of contesting China’s mercantilist commercial expansion. While the agreement did not mention China, in geopolitical terms it marks a fundamental challenge to China’s ambitions in Greece, the Mediterranean, and the European Union.
The signing took place just a few miles from the port of Piraeus, which abuts the Greek capital and is the major symbol of China’s mercantile ambitions in the West. Chinese premier Li Keqiang hailed Piraeus as China’s “gateway to Europe” during a visit in 2014. By 2016, COSCO Shipping, owned by the Chinese state, had achieved majority control of the company that operates Piraeus’s port under a concession contract from the Greek government. Under the new accord, the previous requirement for annual renewal of U.S.–Greek defense cooperation is replaced by a commitment to ongoing cooperation, setting the stage for increased utilization of the Souda Bay naval facility on the island of Crete, formalizing operational cooperation and technology transfer related to drones, and, most important, committing the U.S. to participate in developing new naval and air-force facilities at Alexandroupoli, a strategically located port in northeastern Greece.
Pompeo discussed the U.S. strategy to confront Chinese commercial expansion in an exclusive interview with National Review in Athens, shortly after signing the defense pact and delivering a speech to an audience of Greek officials and business leaders in which he criticized China’s “coercive” economic practices.
3. Leading off the education section, Sarah Schutte reflects on the way technology is affecting home-schooling, and the one thing it should never replace (parental involvement!). From the piece:
If you’d like a dictionary definition, Merriam-Webster says that to homeschool is “to teach school subjects to one’s children at home.” But this definition is being challenged, in large part because of new technologies that are making it increasingly simple to create virtual classrooms with endless possibilities.
Connections Academy is one such example. Its virtual programs “are tuition-free online public schools for students in grades K–12,” and its services are available in 29 out of 50 states. It is focused on bringing the classroom to children, giving them access to high-level education while also enabling one-on-one attention between students and their instructors. Because it is a public-school program, it comes at no cost, and it offers ease of use, facilitates parental involvement, and provides a wider community with which to connect, since students from all over the state are engaging with one another daily. Such online K–12 programs are accredited and offer access to college-prep and even college-credit courses. Connections Academy uses a program called “Connexus,” an online platform designed to host classes, schedules, chatrooms, grades, and more. Parents, coaches, teachers, and administrators have access to Connexus along with students, which enables better communication and — since parents can see their children’s grades, lessons, and assignments — greater accountability.
More-traditional forms of homeschooling generally entail parents’ creating their own curriculum, sometimes with the help of programs such as Sonlight, Seton, or St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, my homeschool alma mater. These programs pair parents with an adviser or counselor and often provide detailed lesson plans for high-school-aged students. They do not usually provide instruction, but are rather a support and guide to the teaching parent. Parents take this assistance and use it to create their own schedules and plans, teaching all or at least most subjects themselves. Extracurricular activities abound — despite the pervasive idea that homeschoolers are socially deprived — with many homeschool families forming anything from drama groups to orchestras to speech-and-debate clubs together.
A variety of technological advances are available to such traditional homeschooling families as well, and plenty of homeschoolers make considerable use of them. For example, Connections Academy advertises resources on its website that are specifically aimed at traditional homeschoolers. These are categorized by grade and subject, and include links to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetKids program, Starfall.com (a math-games website for younger children), and Stickfigurehamlet.com (an entire site devoted to telling the story of Hamlet through stick-figure drawings and humor). In my family, a Netflix subscription allows Bob Ross to teach art, YouTube provides hours of explanatory science videos, and Amazon Prime gives access to the joy that is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These sorts of resources also can be useful to families that aren’t able to practice traditional homeschooling but want to take advantage of certain of its aspects.
4. Rafi Eis reveals how NYC lefties are engaged in a complete takeover of city schools. From the report:
Two recent developments in New York City’s public schools highlight the perils of current progressive education theory and foretell a radical transformation. The first episode got close to no response from conservative thinkers, and the second received an insufficient one. Just as they do in economics, law, and politics, conservatives need to have theories about the education process. Promoting school choice, the typical conservative approach, is no longer enough. We need alternative theories about how learning occurs and what the purpose of school is.
The first incident was the revelation that the vast majority of students at more than 40 public schools in New York City had received passing report-card grades, but less than a fifth could pass the statewide math and English exams in grades three to eight. In an especially egregious school, every student received a passing grade, but only 7 percent could pass the state English exam. Even though these students, numbering in the thousands, failed the exams, they will matriculate into the next grade. In response to the public outcry over this news, the Department of Education spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said, “It’s apples and oranges to compare students’ classroom grades over the course of a full school year with their performance on a two-day state exam.” This is nothing less than an argument for invalidating all standardized test results as a measure of learning.
The more famous second development was the recommendation of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) in August 2019 to end programs for gifted students in New York City public schools. To increase racial diversity in gifted programs, SDAG proposed switching to the “schoolwide enrichment” model for gifted students. In this way, the panel claims, gifted programs can be more “inclusive” without causing anyone’s education to suffer. While the schoolwide-enrichment model is not being implemented immediately, Carranza is laying the groundwork to move forward with it. “You can’t point to a specific pedagogy or a specific curriculum,” he said on public radio, complaining that the gifted programs differ across the city. “It’s just faster and more. That can’t be what ‘gifted and talented’ is in the biggest school system in the nation.”
While the SDAG proposal received much more publicity, the policy that allows students to matriculate despite very poor test results will harm many more students. Conservatives are under the impression that the discrepancy between grade level and skill is due to grade inflation and that the attempt to end the gifted programs is based on identity politics. There is some truth in that, but both developments are primarily based on current education theory.
1. At The Federalist, Ben Weingarten likes what he sees in the Trump Administration’s renewed sense of calling out the ChiComs. From the piece:
At last week’s annual Hudson Institute Herman Kahn Award Gala, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the guest of honor, delivered a poignant and powerful address on the unfolding strategic competition between the United States and China.
In Pompeo’s speech, dubbed “The China Challenge,” he surveyed the history of American willful blindness and consequent folly toward the totalitarian regime, acknowledging that “we accommodated and encouraged China’s rise for decades…even when that rise was at the expense of American values, Western democracy, and security, and good common sense.”
He illustrated the dichotomy whereby the CCP has created a “permanent class of China lobbyists in the United States” that has manipulated U.S. leaders while exerting complete control over the flow of information into its mainland. Therefore, while the CCP’s narrative has flourished here, our counter-narrative has never entered there.
He detailed the harmful consequences for America and the world, in the way of China’s: rampant intellectual property theft; demands that those who transact with it toe the Communist Party line; asymmetric weapons development; threats to international order and commerce on the seas where trillions of dollars in goods flow; “debt trap diplomacy”—or a “loan-to-own” plan to buy power and influence around the world—memorialized by the “Belt and Road Initiative“; coercive acts eroding any semblance of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong; and persecution of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.
2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Bradley Birzer treats readers to his reflections on C.S. Lewis’s “Perelandra.” From the piece:
In the second of the three books of C.S. Lewis’s brilliant Space Trilogy, Perelandra, our beloved Cambridge philologist and hero, Elwin Ransom, travels to Perelandra (Venus) and struggles to prevent a repetition of the Fall in the Garden of Eden as it had happened, tragically, in our world. What might have happened, after all, if either Eve or Adam had resisted the temptations of the devil? What might have happened had there been an advocate for God’s position in the great cosmic struggle for the soul?
“How v. kind of you to send me Mr Groom’s remarks on Perelandra,” Lewis wrote in a private letter. “I am always like other cats glad to be stroked (I take it one shows even more pride by not liking praise than by liking it) but this was specially welcome because that is miles and away my own favourite among my books and has had a very bad reception from reviewers. Despite the preface they all will take it as an ‘allegory’ and then blame me for not making it clear.” The book, it turns out, was one of Lewis’s favorites. “The one I enjoyed writing least was Screwtape: what I enjoyed most was Perelandra–but, you see, it all comes to nothing.”
Lewis loved that Perelandra was both science fiction (though a term not yet employed) and spiritual, reflecting, he thought, some of the greatest works of fantastic speculation ever written. He wanted, very badly, to be a writer in the same vein as Plato, Thomas More, and G.K. Chesterton. More recently, he wanted to emulate his writing hero, David Lindsay. “Voyage to Arcturus is not the parody of Perelandra but its father. It was published, a dead failure, about 25 years ago,” he confided to a friend, the poetess Ruth Pitter. “Now that the author is dead it is suddenly leaping into fame: but I’m one of the old guard who had a treasured second hand copy before anyone had heard of it.”
3. More Birzer, more Imaginative Conservative: Double B gushes over J.R.R. Tolkein’s amazing short story, “Leaf by Niggle.” From the essay:
One very late night or early morning in 1939, J.R.R. Tolkien awoke, a full story ready to burst from his already imaginatively feverish brain. Contrary to his normal hesitation and typical obsessive writing and rewriting, Tolkien’s short story, “Leaf by Niggle” emerged “virtually complete in my head. It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.” If Tolkien had ever toyed with the ideas found in the novel—in terms of setting, character, or plot—he had no recollection of them or of any of it. Like Athena emerging whole out of the head of Zeus, “Leaf by Niggle” simply appeared on paper that very late evening or early morning in 1939, just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. Sometime in 1940, he read the story—presumably to an approving audience—to the Inklings. Again, the story just emerged, and Tolkien never even edited it after his initial copying it down. It was, he remembered fondly, “the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all.”
Tolkien, though, sat on the story until the editor of The Dublin Review, Christopher Dawson, Tolkien’s fellow parishioner at St. Aloysius in Oxford and the famed Catholic man of letters, requested something fictional in October 1944. Though Dawson lost his job as editor a month later due to a power struggle with the publisher, Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” appeared in the January-February-March 1945 issue of The Dublin Review, along with articles on Thomas More, the Roman Empire, England’s Christian tradition, Czechoslovakia, and Augustan literature.
Whatever its origins, “Leaf by Niggle” must rank as one of the finest short stories of the twentieth century, breath-takingly beautiful, even by the highest Tolkienian standards. As with so many of Tolkien’s writings, “Leaf” takes seriously issues of goodness, free will, destiny, subcreation, and eternity.
4. More C.S. Lewis: At The University Bookman, John Tuttle looks into the first volume of his sci-fi trilogy, “Out of the Silent Planet.” From the reflection:
Even Lewis cannot remove himself entirely from the preconceptions that culture had of the Red Planet. The responsibility for this falls primarily on the shoulders of H. G. Wells, whose War of the Worlds was published in full in 1898. Spattered throughout the text of Out of the Silent Planet, the narrator, as well as Mr. Ransom (the protagonist) himself, toy with the idea of the unknown life-forms on this alien earth and reference the Wellsian notion of creatures dark, loathsome, and utterly un-humanoid.
In this first installment of his sci-fi trilogy, however, Lewis does strive for a fresh take on the theme. One way in which he achieves this is by providing imagery of the Martian habitats that form a contrast with a good deal of the literature up to this point. Mars, as modern man’s continual probing advocates, was seen as a sandy, desolate world. Lewis does not deny such locales throughout the Martian landscape, but also throws in splashes of color—oases of abundant life—and a variety of life.
This is Malacandra—the term used by its natives in identifying their world. In this Lewisian fantasy, Malacandra’s geographical realms vary almost as greatly as those on Earth. There are woods, fields, lakes, mountains, and plateaus: a much brighter picture than the factual Mars. His roseate cliffs and purple forests offer the reader a much more romanticized rendition of the Red Planet. Furthermore, Lewis’s story upends the traditional Wellsian association with Mars, the old-school mindset that sees its inhabitants as little “bringers of war” just as lustful for blood as the Roman god had been. The several races dwelling on Malacandra are mostly removed from hostile tendencies, and it is only the diminutive minds of men that harbor fear and a nature toward violence.
Lewis turns man into the alien, the invader, the enemy of peace. In a poetic twist, humanity’s leap to an unsubstantiated conclusion turns into a crime against the universe. The ruler of Malacandra rebukes Ransom for his perpetual fear and his kidnappers for their wanton dealing of death to Malacandrians. Through Ransom, the reader’s focus is directed inward as an examination of our own morality and an inquiry into our darkest fears.
5. At City Journal, Kay Hymowitz says that America’s immigration debate needs to be about second-generation prospects. From the piece:
The New York Times has not been in the habit of publishing heartening stories about the American dream in recent years, but last week, the editors made an exception, with an article recounting the findings of a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, showing that the sons of low-income immigrants are moving up the economic ladder—as they have since the Ellis Island era. After the article appeared, the Times reporter, Emily Badger, tweeted: “There is a lot in this study tweaking talking points in the current immigration debate.” I’d put it differently: there is a lot in this study suggesting that we’ve been having the wrong immigration debate.
The study itself, “Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the U.S. over the Last Two Centuries,” won’t give any final answers to our immigration dilemmas, but it merits attention for its remarkable reach. The three authors, all economic historians, linked the incomes of immigrant fathers and their American-born sons in three generational cohorts—1880, 1910, and 1980—from 20 of the major sending countries. (They didn’t include daughters, whose economic outcomes are trickier to evaluate, given name changes and shifting employment patterns for women.) The sending countries vary dramatically over time. The 1880 group, for example, came mostly from Northern and Western Europe, or more specifically, from Germany, Ireland, and England; the 1910 cohort, meantime, hailed from Southern and Eastern Europe. Finally, the 1980 faction is dominated by exiles from Latin America and Asia. (The authors pass over the period between 1924 and 1965, when immigration was highly restricted.)
For each group, the researchers compared the immigrant pairs with native-born fathers and sons. They found that upward mobility between first- and second-generation immigrants has remained a constant in U.S. history, regardless of the sending country. As the Times put it: “The adult children of poor Mexican and Dominican immigrants in the country legally today achieve about the same relative economic success as children of poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland did a century ago.” In fact, immigrant sons were 3 to 6 percentile points more upwardly mobile than the sons of American fathers.
6. At Modern Age, Daniel McCarthy looks back at 1989, when faith took down The Wall, but secularism took credit. From the editorial:
The world of today was born thirty years ago. The same year the Berlin Wall ceased to divide Europe, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party ordered the massacre of hundreds if not thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square. Francis Fukuyama published “The End of History?” in the National Interest as the Cold War drew to a close. For more than four decades, that struggle between communism and Christianity, capitalism, and nationalism had defined much of politics—within the West as well as between West and East. But in 1989 a new era was dawning, a liberal era whose hopes were belied by the bloodshed in Beijing. Communist economics was at an end; communist despotism was not.
Capitalism, perversely, would give communist rule in China a new lease on life. In the West, intellectuals celebrated liberalism as the victor of the Cold War, with religion and patriotism discounted steeply. Pope John Paul II and the faith of his fellow Poles had made a contribution to the downfall of European communism in the 1980s. And, yes, the fact that Germans and Hungarians and the rest did not want to be ruled from Moscow was important. But as far as the intelligentsia of Western Europe and the United States was concerned, these facts had little meaning for us: our freedom did not depend on faith or national loyalty; it depended rather on secular universal ideals, those of liberalism and democracy. If capitalism was the salvation of communism in China, in the West a liberalism that shared communism’s scientific pretensions and disregard for religion and national boundaries became the new orthodoxy of the elite. The Cold War ended with irony, not a storybook finish.
BONUS: At Gatestone Institute, Judith Bergman shares the grim story that the E.U.’s Court of Justice has just set free-speech limits. From the report:
The ruling “essentially allows one country or region to decide what internet users around the world can say and what information they can access,” said Victoria de Posson, senior manager in Europe at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, an industry group that includes Google and Facebook as members.
The judgment does indeed appear to be opening up a Pandora’s Box for the ever-shrinking space for free speech in Europe and potentially worldwide, although it is still unclear at this point, how the judgment might affect free speech worldwide.
Government efforts in Europe to censor free speech have long been ongoing: in Germany, the controversial censorship law, known as NetzDG, which came into effect on October 1, 2017, requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.
The new judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union, presumably, could mean that a German court could order what it deems to be illegal content, or its equivalent, under NetzDG to be removed in other EU member states that do not have a similarly draconian censorship law.
France is looking to adopt a similar law to that in Germany: In early July, France’s National Assembly adopted a draft bill designed to curtail online hate speech. The draft bill gives social media platforms 24 hours to remove “hateful content” or risk fines of up to 4% percent of their global revenue. The bill has gone to the French Senate. Again, if the bill becomes law, the judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union could mean that French courts would be able to demand that Facebook remove what the courts consider illegal content or its equivalent under French law.
Bob Hendley, the southpaw who pitched in the early 60s for the Braves, Giants, Cubs, and Mets, may not have been baseball’s greatest pitcher (his record was 48–52, with a career ERA of 3.97), but he may have pitched in what many consider its greatest pitching duel. It took place on the night of September 9, 1965, a lightning-fast contest of just 1 hour and 43 minutes at Dodger Stadium. That night, Hendly was wearing a Cubs uniform, and pitched brilliantly against the team that would go on the be that season’s World Champs: he gave up one measly hit, and one measly unearned run (a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, an error).
But too bad for Hendley, because hurling for the Dodgers that night was Sandy Koufax, and he was, well, perfect. The Dodger ace faced 27 batters, and not a one reached first. 14 Cubs struck out. It was his fourth career no-no, and his one career perfect game. A game where both teams combined for just . . . one hit.
Of note: Five days later, this time at Wrigley Field, the two southpaws faced off again (the game crept along, taking an exhausting 1:57 to complete!). This time, Hendley prevailed, in a 2–1 complete-game victory, Koufax having given up a two-run homer to fellow Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams in the sixth inning.
Of even notier: With two on and two out in the seventh, with the abysmal-hitting Koufax due up, manager Walter Alston pulled him for pinch-hitter . . . Don Drysdale. That year, the Dodgers’ other ace was hitting .300 — he slapped a single and drove in LA’s sole run. But Big D (who won 23 games in 1965) did not take the mound in relief in the bottom of the frame.
Our friend and board member, Allen Sidor, passed away. I had asked for your prayers, and appreciate those who uttered them and brought him peace in is final hours. We remembered him in the current issue of the magazine:
You could find Allen Sidor at home on an NR Cruise, sitting back quietly and cheerfully, people-watching, puffing a fine cigar. There was a gentleness and humility to the California entrepreneur, a selfless man, ever generous with his means and his friendship. Sooner rather than later, seafaring editors, writers, fellow cruisers, cigar aficionados were drawn to him: His company was warm, his camaraderie very real. Eventually, the directors of this institution, aware of his business acumen, asked Al to join the board. He agreed immediately and happily: This coincided with a desire to start a new chapter in his life, of passing leadership in his company to his beloved son Ryan and helping put NR on a sounder business footing. And then too there were socialism and socialists to beat back, and boy oh boy did Al ever want in on that. But coinciding was a slow-growth cancer that last year turned aggressive. And fatal. There was a prolonged, determined fight, a brutal one of high-grade chemo, of severe pain and sleepless nights, waged against impossible odds, aided by the care and compassion of his son, his former wife, and his close friends. Through it, his sweet nature held, but in his last days Al tried to resign his NR position. He claimed he was not contributing. The gesture was refused. Al passed away on October 27, age 63, we expect into God’s comforting arms, which he prayed would be open to him. As do we: Dear friend, R.I.P.
Pray for Al’s soul. Pray for the Republic.
God’s Ample Blessings and Graces Showered Upon You and Yours,
Jack Fowler, who can be accused of bad manners, bad breath, and bad judgment via hectoring emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.