Lots of SCOTUS stuff — and more — will follow, but first let’s get our priorities straight: What horse are you favoring in the Belmont Stakes? Now, the last time I was at that track was in 1979 (with merry Regians Ken and Mr. M). It was a cold, gray, blustery Saturday, snow was coming. So was poverty: I was down to my last sawbuck. Then, in the fifth race field appears the Number 5 horse, named “Snow Alert.” The stars were aligning: Me being a Five’s-My-Lucky-Number kind of guy, I put the 10 bucks on the equine weather prediction. To win. And he (or was it a she?) won! Other than calling that quinella at Yonkers Raceway a few years later (it paid out a fortune of $180), I don’t think I ever had a more euphoric moment in my life. Except of course for that time I saw James Lileks in a Speedo on an NR Cruise.
About the Belmont: I’m hoping my colleague Kevin L can hit the OTB and put $20 on Vino Rosso ($10 to win, $10 box). Sure, the horse’s name may reek of booze, but it more so reminds me of a guy from the neighborhood, Vinnie Russo. Oddsmakers have the colt at 8-1 early Friday. Keep it that way, ’cause Jackie Boy needs a new cheap blazer!
Now, let’s get Jolting! But only after you learn a little about . . .
You can’t see this, but my colleague Jarreau has me in a choke hold as I type and won’t let go until I write up something about our new program (he’s whispering in my ear in a threatening kinda-Russian accent . . . mama mia, all he had to do was to offer me a Klondike Bar!). OK, so this all starts with you subscribing, for the price of a cup of coffee (admittedly, a 20-gallon cup) to NR Plus. Yep, for a measly $59 you get a full year of NR magazine (Ye Olde Digital Edition) and online access toour vastarchives, including our podcast archives, plus (and that is why we call it “Plus”!) up to 90% fewer ads across the website (most pages show one ad or less), and an uninterrupted, enjoyable reading experience with zero in-content ads. Now there are plenty more benefits I could list (and will next week) but I am beginning to lose consciousness. So please, subscribe here.
1. Sometimes you win ugly, or not pretty. We hold the SCOTUS Masterpiece Cakeshop decision (“narrow” was the instant opinion of many) was mixed in its scope, but still “broad enough to matter.” From the editorial:
While we believe that the court should have issued a broader ruling, one holding that baking a custom wedding cake is protected expression under the free-speech clause of the First Amendment, its actual ruling is significant. It can potentially shift the language surrounding America’s religious-liberty debate and increase the cost of state favoritism and double standards. In other words, it isn’t nearly as “narrow” as legal progressives would have you believe.
2. In the face-off between the President’s legal counsels and those of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, debating the matter of the former FBI chief interviewing Mr. Trump as part of his (ongoing and ongoing) investigation, we conclude that there are some things the President’s lawyers got right. From the editorial:
The president’s attorneys are also correct in asserting that no federal prosecutor should seek a president’s testimony, much less attempt to compel it by grand-jury subpoena, absent a demonstration “with specificity” that the information sought is “important” to proving a serious crime, and that it “is not practically available from another source.” (The lawyers here quote the D.C. Circuit Court’s 1997 Espy decision.) It is doubtful that Mueller can establish either condition.
Even if one believes Trump botched the firing of Comey (he did), and even if one is skeptical of Trump’s claim that the firing was unrelated to the Russia investigation (we suspect it had much to do with Comey’s refusal to state publicly his private assurances that Trump was not suspected of wrongdoing), Trump’s removal of Comey was still legitimate, and, as we have opined, justified. Moreover, even if one believes (as we do) that presidents should refrain from involvement in ongoing investigations, especially involving political allies such as Flynn, the president’s authority to assert himself is clear — indeed, Trump could legitimately have ordered the Flynn investigation to be dropped, or pardoned Flynn.
We have a new podcast. It’s called The McCarthy Report and it features Rich Lowry and a guy named McCarthy. Episode One is titled “The Self-Pardon Question” and you need to put on your headphones right now to listen. Do that here.
1. In the special “Pardon Me” episode of The Editors, Rich, Reihan, and Luke discuss the president’s claim that he can pardon himself, the continuing debate over kneeling in the NFL, and the coming immigration fight in Congress. Plug in the ear buds and listen here.
2. Education reform all-star Bill Walton joins Reality Check with Jeanne Allen to discuss his passion: free-market education as an alternative to government-run schools. Listen here.
3. The new Radio Free California— the “Hermit Kingdom” episode — has David and Will discussing the latest moves by California’s government union leaders to clown Wall Street and to eliminate news of the outside world; and then they chat up Victor Davis Hanson’s delightful NR essay on the future — and the past — of California conservatism. Listen West, young man.
4. Cato Institute big brain Ilya Shapiro hops onto The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg to discuss whether the president can pardon himself, whether cakes are free speech, and whether the tonnage clause is a real thing. Catch it here.
5. Hillsdale prof Patricia Bart joins the great John J. Miller to plumb the depths of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. You gotta love The Great Books podcast, presented for your listening and learning pleasure, right here.
6. Did you really think the new episode of Ordered Liberty was going to be about something other than the Masterpiece Cakeshop verdict? David and Alexandra slice the pieces here.
7. But wait, there’s more: David and Alexandra crank out a second Masterpiece-focused episode, taking on the verdict’s critics, and then spend a little time looking into #MeToo-challenged Bill Clinton. Swallow a second dose of Ordered Liberty right here, right now.
8. Jay Cost’s new book, The Price of Greatness: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Creation of American Oligarchy, gets the JJM treatment on the new episode of The Bookmonger. If you are in to frenemy Founding Fathers, you gotta listen, and can, right here.
9. In the latest episode of The Jamie Weinstein Show, Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, opens up about the Trump administration, the internal battles within the Democratic Party, re-evaluating Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton in the age of #MeToo, and much more. Listen here.
A Dozen Sensational Articles to Read to Increase Your Wisdom and, If Needed, to Avoid Painting the Kitchen
1. Solzhenitsyn One: This past Friday (June 8) marked the 40th Anniversary of the Nobel Laureate’s famous Harvard commencement speech, titled “A World Split Apart,” which was a stunning critique of the West. The response was wide and often furious, and the great writer penned a detailed essay about the reaction. Solzhenitsyn’s response has never been published in English, until now, in the new issue of National Review. Here’s the link.
2. Solzhenitsyn Two: Matthew Spalding compares the 1978 speech to Hillary Clinton’s recent blathering blame-gaming at Yale and finds the former gulag denizen’s to be infinitely wiser. From his piece:
Yet Solzhenitsyn did not propose immediate political activism as the way to defend truth. Explaining that the “the press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it,” Solzhenitsyn argued that the root cause of what we today might label as “fake news” was actually the West’s vulnerability to what today we might call “political correctness.” “In the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those that are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges, ” he noted. “Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day.”
Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard message was thus less comforting, more challenging, and infinitely wiser than Clinton’s Yale address. While Clinton called for a “radical empathy” to heal our country, Solzhenitsyn demanded a “spiritual blaze” to save our soul. “We shall have to rise to a new height of vision,” he said, “to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled on as in the Modern era.”
3. This Is Your Brain on Bubba: Kyle Smith advises Democrats to throw the Man from Hope under the bus. You’ve got to read the entire enchilada, but here’s how it ends:
Take off the kneepads, media. Stand up straight and tall. Barack Obama proved that there is such a thing as a Democratic president who doesn’t abuse women in his personal life. If you don’t want to look absurd when attacking the failings of President Trump, apologize for making excuses for President Clinton. See him clearly as the sleaze he is and always has been. Redefine him for future generations as a loathsome, lying hack.
4. Jim Geraghty, WJ’s ever-revered inspiration, finds more lessons to be learned from Mr. Hillary, including how Democrats set the stage for a series of unintended partisan consequences they would have dodged had they helped impeach the Arkansas Tomcat in 1998. From his piece:
Bill Clinton convinced Democrats that if he resigned or was removed from office through impeachment, the bad guys would win. And Democrats were so primed to believe the worst about Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, and the rest that they stood with Bill Clinton . . . through not only Lewinsky but also Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathleen Willey. In for a penny, in for a pound. In a lot of Democrats’ minds in the late 1990s, Bill Clinton just happened to be exceptionally unlucky enough to randomly end up alone with women who were all willing to later make false accusations of sexual misconduct against him, again and again.
The Lewinsky scandal wasn’t quite opening Pandora’s box, but it sent a message to many politicians and aspiring politicians that previously unsurvivable scandals were now survivable if you were shameless enough.
5. Andy McCarthy wants to know just what exactly Andrew McCabe is seeking immunity for or from. Read his analysis.
6. James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley tag-team to explain how conservatives can truly have influence in academia. Here’s a piece from their piece:
Conservative and free-market foundations, though, must take a different approach owing to the ideological landscape of higher education. They cannot simply send open-ended checks to favored institutions in the hope that the funds will support teaching and research on constitutional government, free and open markets, and related subjects. If they wish to ensure that their funds are spent to support alternative viewpoints on campus, they have to allocate those funds to support particular individuals, departments, and programs with proven track records in these fields of instruction and research. Otherwise, the funds are likely to be diverted to other purposes in keeping with the ideological climate on campus.
7. If you think federal prison reform is going to happen any time soon, think again. NRO columnist Michael Tanner’s report is a primer on congressional dysfunction and bizarre turf wars.
8. Is it OK to lie if you’ve got your “presidential” groove on? Victor Davis Hanson has a humdinger of a column comparing Obama to Trump. From his piece:
We are slowly appreciating over the last year that lying under oath was an Obama-administration requisite for a high position in the intelligence community. FBI director Comey lied about the particular sequences of his investigation of the Clinton email scandal. He lied by omission to the president when, in his supposed Oval Office informative dissection of the Steele dossier, he failed to include the fact that it was a product of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.
Comey’s various testimonies often cannot be reconciled with those of his deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe, who was cited by the inspector general for lying. Comey warped a FISA-court request to spy on U.S. citizens, by deliberately withholding information from the court about the Steele dossier. Comey also has not been forthcoming about the insertion of an FBI informant into the 2016 Trump campaign. Comey has often lectured about the illegality and impropriety of leaking confidential government documents, though he later bragged about his own successful leak of such documents as a successful means of getting Special Counsel Robert Mueller appointed.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan may prove to be the two most prevaricating officials in the history of any modern administration. Both have lied repeatedly while under oath to Congress, respectively, about their agencies’ surveillance of American citizens, spying on Senate staffers, the U.S. drone program, and leaking the notorious Steele dossier. In their particular cases, as current media analysts, they have become completely unhinged over the reality that a crude Donald Trump was never so crude as either of them in their attempt to undermine the constitutional principle of telling the truth to Congress while under oath.
9. Eire, digging its new acceptance of the abortion bloodlust, has become West Britain. John O’Sullivan’s powerful essay cites the end of Irish Exceptionalism. From the powerful essay:
In short, an Irish identity built on the Catholic Church had collapsed, and the nation — or, rather, its cultural elite — was looking for a new identity in which Catholicism was treated as something between an embarrassment and a threat. That process has continued ever since, accelerating recently, until Ireland voted by a margin of two to one to liberalize abortion law on lines similar to those of U.K. law and, still more significantly, celebrated that result in wild public rejoicing. Three years before, Ireland had voted in favor of same-sex marriage by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent, becoming the first country anywhere to introduce gay marriage in this way. Ireland’s 100-year experiment in self-conscious cultural transformation had proved to be a mere detour: from Britannia West to Cathleen ni Houlihan to Britannia West again.
It’s hard even for a natural West Briton like me to be happy about this. If Home Rule had not been derailed by the First World War — with a whole series of historical “what ifs” following on from that — I think I would have found that era’s West Britain a very tolerable place. There would have been no Easter Rising, no partition, no Irish civil war, no cultural-cum-political break with Britain, and therefore no building of a fortress Catholic Republic by Dev. Of course, the Catholic Church would still have been a highly influential force within the somewhat more liberal environment of a Home Rule Ireland constitutionally linked to Britain. Catholicism might also have been more influential throughout Britain as a result. But the Church would not have been able to exercise the kind of unaccountable authority that it had enjoyed and misused for the better part of a century.
10. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, Jay Nordlinger got to meet and interview an inspiring young Afghani woman, Fatemah Qaderyan, a robotics whiz. It’s a delightful read. (And do keep up with Jay’s Oslo Journal.)
11. Bobby Kennedy has been dead for 50 years. His murderer and assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, continues to live, in a California jail. The little blankety-blank Islamic terrorist was just that, and in his NRO piece, Warren Kozak argues that America cannot forget that fact.
12. A review praising The $18-Billion Prize, by Phelim McAleer and Jonathan Leaf about the Left’s brazen attempt to shake down Chevron, gets spiked by the lefty editor of Theatrius. Daniel Kennard, author of the deep-sixed review, gives the played play’s play-by-play:
My editor, Barry Horwitz, a 79-year-old retired U.C. Berkeley English professor and the founder of Theatrius, had first been described to me by a mutual friend as “Berkeley through and through.” Barry talks fast: Within the first 20 minutes of meeting him, I learned of his dodging the draft by fleeing to Paris, of his marching with Mario Savio during Berkeley’s “Free Speech Movement,” and that Reagan ruined everything. So I can’t say I was too surprised that Horwitz found my positive review of a play in which Chevron is portrayed as the victim to be problematic.
For several days, I exchanged emails back and forth with Horwitz, attempting to arrive at a compromise draft of my review. His emails were anguished and lengthy. He was concerned that I had not been critical enough of McAleer’s selective use of verbatim transcripts from the court case. Some of his concerns were downright conspiratorial — he suspected the play had secret corporate backers, despite its transparent crowdfunding (as of now, the play has not even achieved half its crowdfunding goal).
In my last conversation with Horwitz, he sounded distraught. He was torn between upholding the editorial principles of Theatrius and ostracizing a play that he truly found to be “contributing to bad causes.” He told me this was the hardest thing he had ever had to deal with at Theatrius and that he was losing sleep over it. I told him to take it easy (he was on vacation in Paris) and that I was confident we could come to a compromise.
BONUS: Jonah Goldberg looks at the ugly side of the new and thoroughly woke Miss America Pageant.
Masterpiece Cakeshop Theater
This is my attempt to corral much of the NRO coverage of the SCOTUS verdict.
1. David French, much involved with this case, reviewed the 7-2 verdict, the majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy, and concluded that the black-robed coot had struck a blow for religious liberty. Here’s a small slice:
Let’s put it differently. All bakers — regardless of religion — have the same rights and obligations. At the same time, gay and religious customers enjoy equal rights under state public-accommodation statutes. Any ruling the commission imposes will have to apply on the same basis to different litigants, regardless of faith and regardless of the subjective “offensiveness” of the message.
This is a severe blow to the state. It hoped for a ruling declaring that the cake wasn’t protected expression and a free-exercise analysis that simply ratified the public-accommodation law as a “neutral law of general applicability.” Such a ruling would have permitted the favoritism on display in this case. It would have granted state authorities broad discretion to elevate favored messages and suppress dissent, all while operating under the fiction that they weren’t suppressing protected expression or religious exercise.
2. Volley: Andy McCarthy whips out the wet blanket and says the decision is a setback for religious liberty. From his piece:
On this one, though, Justice Kennedy assures the Left it can grouse away. This ruling, in grudging accommodation of religious conviction, will not necessarily bear on the outcome “of some future controversy involving facts similar to these.”
To be sure, I am all for a Lincolnian construction that reduces Supreme Court rulings to a duly narrow resolution of the dispute between the litigating parties, leaving it to the republic to govern itself accountably. But that is not what’s going on here. This case is a one-off. The justices, manifestly pained, side ever so ambiguously with religious liberty, a founding principle of the nation, over gay marriage, a trendy progressive cause that would not remotely have been threatened in Colorado had Jack Phillips been left in peace to honor his convictions.
Kennedy’s sweet-mystery-of-life jurisprudence is all about exploring the exotic contours of liberty to discover heretofore unknown substantive safeguards. Not in this case, though. Confronted by a liberty twofer — an attack on free-expression rights that also burdens religious liberty — the justices punt on substantive protections for traditional religious exercise and speech (the latter liberty that could and should have decided the case in Mr. Phillips’s favor); they agitate, instead, over procedural flaws in the state’s adjudication of the conscience question.
3. Return Volley: David French has a thing or two to say in response to the killjoys. Among them:
In the future, when members of the media put “religious liberty” in scare quotes, when academics pontificate about past injustice, and when government officials echo their slurs, conservatives should remind them of Kennedy’s words. They’re not defending liberty. They’re disparaging religion. And, in certain circumstances, government officials are even breaking the law.
Dodging a constitutional bullet? Laying a minefield for activist ideologues? Paving the way for a better case before a potentially better court? Rebutting a common progressive talking point? Not bad for a day’s work at the Supreme Court. Yes, the killjoys may ultimately be proven right. Masterpiece Cakeshop may be a prelude to a disaster, but for now I’ll remain optimistic. The future of free speech at the Supreme Court is so bright, I have to wear shades.
5. More French: David contends the verdict is already being deployed on behalf of religious liberty.
6. Wesley Smith, seeing the verdict as applicable to matters of medical-conscience rights, finds Masterpiece Cakeshop a small win but a win nonetheless. From his take:
A defeat for religious liberty in this case could have been devastating to the prospects for relying on the First Amendment as a shield for protecting medical conscience. This mild victory — let’s call it an infield single — at least helps. It’s better to have a player on first base as the next batter comes to the plate than back in the dugout after striking out.
7. Continuing on the baseball theme, El Jefe, Mr. Lowry, scores it Christian Bakers 1, Officious Bureaucrats 0.
8. Here comes the “Dignity Amendment.” Jonathan Tobin reports on the lefty reax, as a gay-rights rainbow flag is hoisted up the pole. From his piece:
Seen from that perspective, the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — finding that the commission illegally discriminated against a Christian baker who’d refused to make a cake for a gay wedding — is, at worst, a speed bump for gay Americans. It was made on relatively narrow grounds. And even if it does wind up carving out space for a religious-conservative minority to escape being forced to take part in celebrations of events their faith opposes, it in no way diminishes the reality of gay equality in 21st-century America.
Yet the view of Masterpiece from the left is that it must be overturned.
The answer from one source was logical as well as revealing. Barnard College professor Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote in the New York Times to call for a “Dignity Amendment” to the Constitution: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.” She also writes that gays “would be helped” by adding sexual-orientation protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.
9. He’s not merely a baseball whiz. Dan McLaughlin says yeah, Kennedy’s opinion is a win of sorts for religious liberty, but . . . let’s talk about this obsession with motive. From his piece:
As Justice Gorsuch suggests, the other problem with having everything be about motives is that there’s a third decision-maker: the Court itself. And that’s where the travel-ban case looms: Even the lawyer challenging the Trump administration’s order on refugees admitted at oral argument that they could not show that the order itself violated the Constitution — they needed to rely on evidence of what Trump said about it, on the campaign trail and to some extent later, in order to show that it was the product of bad motives. (Presumably, Justice Ginsburg’s “one or two Commissioners” line gives her wiggle room to reach a different decision about motives when it comes to Trump.) If that case, like this one, is all about the government decision-maker’s motives (a recurring theme in past Kennedy opinions), Trump could be in more trouble than some watchers of the case have suspected.
But should that be the issue? After all, who decides what is too much evidence of bad motive, and who decides which motives are bad, especially when the question is a collision between Biblical teachings and modern mores about sexual identity, or the role of quasi-religious doctrines in terrorist groups? In Trump’s case, many of the judges ruling against him have seemed careful to say that his exercises of presidential power would have been just fine if they were done by someone without his bad motives — a standard that too easily devolves into “somebody I agree with.”
BONUS: Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion (joined by Justice Gorsuch). From it:
In Obergefell, I warned that the Court’s decision would “inevitabl[y] . . . come into conflict” with religious liberty, “as individuals . . . are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.” 576 U. S., at ___ (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 15). This case proves that the conflict has already emerged. Because the Court’s decision vindicates Phillips’ right to free exercise, it seems that religious liberty has lived to fight another day. But, in future cases, the freedom of speech could be essential to preventing Obergefell from being used to “stamp out every vestige of dissent” and “vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” Id.,at ___ (Alito, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 6). If that freedom is to maintain its vitality, reasoning like the Colorado Court of Appeals’ must be rejected.
BONUS BONUS: Last year, David French wrote and filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of 33 family policy organizations. You can read a PDF of it here. Here’s the brief’s conclusion:
If the state of Colorado prevails in this case, fundamental First Amendment rights have become fragile indeed. They survived world war and the pressure for national unification in the face of an existential threat. Can they survive the sexual revolution and the modern pressure for ideological uniformity? That is what this Court will decide.
It is important to remember that this Court has clearly distinguished the constitutional right to marry from any legal obligation to adopt the state’s view about the nature of marriage. Writing for the majority in Obergefell, Justice Kennedy was clear:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. 135 S. Ct. at 2607.
This is the language that preserves the First Amendment. This is the language that preserves Barnette. The owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop are religious persons who are not willing to violate “the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Or, to put it another way, they are not willing to let any Colorado official, high or petty, “prescribe what shall be orthodox” regarding the institution of marriage “or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
May that star remain fixed in our constitutional constellation. The judgment of the court below must be reversed.
Leaving Cloud 9
Our dear former colleague, Ericka Andersen, has written a new book, of the title above, with the subtitle “The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness.” It’s an incredible story focusing on her husband Rick Sylvester and a childhood that can only be described as relentlessly traumatic. But his struggle, and the exposition of his life’s arc, told with great openness and emotion by his wife — who is wonderfully unafraid to talk about God and Satan — will be a comfort and a guide and likely an inspiration for many.
Here’s what Publishers Weekly has to say about Leaving Cloud 9: “Using Sylvester’s horrific childhood as an example, Andersen explores how relying on faith can help those who have suffered trauma overcome their circumstances. Rick’s story will appeal to Christian readers looking for an uplifting story of perseverance.”
And even Yours Truly had something to say. Ericka asked me to read it and provide a quote. She cannot be denied, so I did. Reading it was tough at times: The accounts of Little Rick’s travails are unsettling, and the knowledge that there are many Little Ricks in America has a multiplying effect on the soul. Anyway, here is my take:
For many Americans, their greatest challenge is resigning to, or escaping from, the vestiges of a youth defined by deep wounds — the kind found not only in a Dickens novel, but in the streets and cul-de-sacs, the bedrooms and kitchens, of every community. We are taught: Suffer the little ones. The reality is: millions instead . . . suffer. But they need not break. Ericka Andersen’s beautifully written Leaving Cloud 9is a thoroughly honest, wince-inducing, love-instigated account, unvarnished, of how the sorrows relentlessly inflicted on a boy, then carried into manhood, can give way. That there is a resurrection — an emerging redemption from despair and pain to a meaningful life of happiness and worth and true good — to be had for those souls pushed and kicked to the brink of brokenness.
Leaving Cloud 9 has its own website, at which you can find a free chapter, and more. Watch a short video promoting the book here. Order your copy (pre-publication — the official launch date is June 26) here at Amazon.
1. On his own site, Scott Rasmussen — didja know he was the founder of ESPN?! — pens a column urging the end of the White House / Sports Champs Visits. Here’s a slice:
To restore balance in our public life, it’s well past time to establish social boundaries protecting large segments of public life from the civic pollution of politics. We must get rid of the false media narrative that every problem has a political solution and every situation must be analyzed politically. President Trump could take a simple step in the right direction by ending the practice of inviting teams to the White House.
2. At Crisis Magazine, Robert Reilly remembers his dear friend, the great conservative lawmaker, ambassador (to Switzerland), and Reaganite, the late Faith Whittlesey.
3. I kid you not: Some elites are conflicted by the matter of child-sacrifice rituals, still occurring among some Amazon tribes. At The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson explains.
4. Armond White sizes up Kanye West, a “true original,” for The Spectator.
5. In the Spring edition of Modern Age, the great George Nash gives the history behind “Reagan’s Right Turn.” From the essay:
Reagan’s eye-opening entanglement with Communist front groups was only a prologue to the political education he was about to receive in the workplace. In 1946 the motion picture industry in Hollywood was in turmoil, riven by costly strikes and threats of strikes almost constantly. Forty-three different labor unions represented the film industry’s workforce, and two of these — the two largest — were at war: the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), dominated by militant anti-Communist Roy Brewer, and the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), headed by hard-core leftist Herbert Sorrell, with strong support from the Communists. The immediate source of friction between these giants seemed, at first glance, ludicrously petty: which one of them should have jurisdiction over a few dozen stage set erectors? But this was merely a flashpoint in a struggle for supremacy that was approaching a showdown. In late September, under pressure from Brewer’s union and the studio bosses (who favored IATSE), Sorrell’s CSU went out on strike. Mass picketing and confrontations ensued. The IATSE men and many other unions worked anyway. The “battle of Hollywood” was on.
The crisis brought to center stage the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), of which Reagan was now a director, and on whose strike emergency committee he served. The strike had placed SAG in the driver’s seat. The actors knew that if they honored the CSU’s job action, they could bring the entire industry to a halt: if no actors showed up for work, no films could be produced. The IATSE would be outflanked, and the studios would have to capitulate to the CSU. But was Sorrell’s job action defensible? Or did he, a suspected Communist, have less savory motives? If the CSU’s goal was simply better wages and working conditions for its members, SAG would be under pressure to respect the picket lines. But if Sorrell and his henchmen were staging a jurisdictional strike — designed to encroach upon and ultimately destroy a rival union — the screen actors would have no moral obligation to refrain from work.
Although initially sympathetic to the CSU, Reagan and his associates quickly concluded that the CSU strike was in fact merely jurisdictional: in Reagan’s later words, a “phony.” Reagan reported this conclusion on October 2 to the SAG membership, which voted overwhelmingly to cross the picket lines and ignore the strike. At the same time, Reagan and his colleagues attempted strenuously for months to be the peacemakers and bring the IATSE and the CSU to terms. The Screen Actors Guild got nowhere.
6. At City Journal, Oren Cass asks and answers (it’s “no”) the question, “Is Technology Destroying the Labor Market?” From his essay:
What we find, instead, is that the industrial economy has stalled. Technology-driven productivity gains have continued as in the past, if a bit slower. But whereas output used to grow at least as quickly, it now grows barely at all. The dynamic has shifted from one in which workers produce more each year, and total output rises, to one in which fewer workers are needed each year to deliver roughly the same output as the year before.
What has changed, and what deserves our attention, is not the trend in automation but rather the dramatic slowdown in output growth. This has its own explanation, one that makes far more sense than the idea that the blessings of rising productivity have suddenly turned wicked: we have pursued a wide range of public policies that harmed the industrial economy broadly — the manufacturing sector, in particular — and the blue-collar workers relying on them. Only by acknowledging that reality, rather than scapegoating technological trends beyond our control, can we begin to make amends.
BONUS: There has been an ethnic cleansing of Greeks living in Northern Cyprus. Uzay Bulut reports for Gatestone Institute.
1. Rearrange your church schedule accordingly: Jonah Goldberg will be on Fox News Sunday (amazingly, on Sunday).
2. More Jonah: He appears on C-Span’s “After Words” to discuss Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy. John Podhoretz performs the interviewing duties. Watch it here.
3. Our slideshow commemorating the 74th Anniversary of D-Day can be seen here.
4. Candace Owens discusses the “Black Card,” which can be expertly played by the history-oppressed, on this new Prager U video.
5. John Stossel confronts the Edgewater, NJ mayor and city council members to inquire if they just might be on the take. This is a great piece of reporting.
Firing Line Redux
Margaret Hoover is hosting the PBS relaunch of Bill Buckley’s classic program. The first episode was aired this week (for Buckley lovers like me, be happy: it uses clips from the old program). Speaker Paul Ryan is the first guest, and the topic is fighting poverty. Watch the episode here.
A bunch of summer interns have invaded NR HQ this week. Smart, sweet, innocent, bright-eyed . . . please the Almighty, let them not be cursing, churlish, cigarette-smoking smart-arses by the time they depart in August (I spotted a memo on one’s work station: The subject line said “AVOID FOWLER”). Ah well. You all have yourselves a wonderful weekend and if you have a dog, hug Man’s Best Friend. If you have a cat, well, you have my sympathies.
God’s blessings and graces on you and yours,
firstname.lastname@example.org where to send your invectives.
P.S.: Monday night at 8 pm, Eastern time, Turner Classic Movies will be airing Pygmalion. (another credit to 1939 being the year of so many terrific films). I love it, and maybe if you watch it you’ll agree that Wendy Hiller is a great actress of unique and true beauty.