The Weekend Jolt

National Review

What a Rootin’ Tootin’ Six Gun-Shootin’ Country

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Give a mighty cheer for it. Maybe even sing along with Ray Bolger (who was a subscriber to NR!) about the Americanness of this unique and grand place. The scope and breadth and depth (and purple mountain majesties’ height) and fun and mystery of this place named for Mrs. Vespucci’s son — that enchilada is the subject of a very special new issue of your favorite conservative magazine. More below.

We publish it just as a bunch of NR writers and readers head to . . . Canada! For our 2019 cruise. Which to us always means there is next cruise. You should be on it: Check out our 2020 Rhine River Charter Cruise, scheduled for April 19–26 aboard AmaWaterways’ sweet new AmaMora. True, we’ll not be visiting America on this trip — just places America saved. Or conquered. Or conquered and then saved.

Before we dive into this week’s fare, look at that image. Even our lemons are patriotic!

On with the Jolt!

The Freezer Door Opens and Out Cascades 14 Colorful, Delicious, and Refreshing Ice Pops of Conservative Intelligence that Will Not Cause a Brain Freeze If You Eat Them All Quickly

1. There’s a very interesting piece by Jakub Grygiel on American foreign policy and the role “values” plays in it. From his reflections:

A conservative foreign policy has to recognize that there are limits to our domestic consensus on “values.” We have deep internal disagreements on the substance to put into this term. For instance, we diverge on fundamental questions of life, marriage, and death. We can discuss and vote on them as citizens within an ordered republic, but we do an enormous disservice when we pursue an activist foreign policy driven by an expansive view of rights. A polity that internally does not agree on the existence and meaning of many rights should not promote only one version of these values abroad.

Pushing controversial values abroad weakens our national security. Not only does it turn our allies and other states against us, opening windows of opportunity for our rivals, but it also severs U.S. foreign policy from the support of a large, if not the largest, segment of the American electorate. As a result, it weakens the long-term sustainability of the strategy and, most important, puts in question its legitimacy. A conservative foreign policy, in other words, has to reflect the limits of what we, as a nation, agree upon.

Moreover, the limits of what is desirable to promote abroad are drawn by truth, elucidated by reason and inlayed in tradition. There is nothing conservative in promoting a wholesale reengineering of society abroad as well as at home by undermining the key institutions that underwrite political order. Political order is not kept by a law or a Constitution, however important those are. It arises slowly from within the nation, united and ordered by its foundational institutions — family, friends, churches. To redefine family and marriage as the satisfaction of self-preferences — a flagship objective of the progressive Left — both in the United States and abroad is a recipe for large-scale geopolitical instability, a goal that is antithetical to U.S. interests.

2. With the incoming attacks on Kamala Harris from several directions, it’s no surprise, reports John McCormack, why she is slipping in the presidential polls. From his analysis:

First Harris indicated at a CNN town hall that she supported abolishing private insurance, as Medicare for All proposes. Then Harris said she didn’t support abolishing private insurance: She tried to hide behind the fig leaf that Medicare for All allows “supplemental insurance,” while obscuring the fact that “supplemental coverage” would be legal for only a very small number of treatments not covered by Medicare for All, such as cosmetic surgery. And cosmetic-surgery insurance doesn’t even exist.

Harris thought she’d finally figured a way out of the Medicare for All mess in July: She introduced her own plan shortly before the Democratic debates. It tried to split the difference: She promised to transition to a single-payer plan in 10 years (as opposed to Sanders’s four-year deadline). This was meant to reassure progressives that they’ll get there eventually while also reassuring moderates that there will be at least two more presidential elections before the country goes through with anything crazy.

Harris’s provision of Medicare Advantage–type plans was also supposed to reassure moderates, but the second debate demonstrated that she still wasn’t ready to respond to the fact that her plan would eventually abolish existing private health plans for everyone, and she has no serious plan for how to pay for single-payer.

Then there were Joe Biden’s and Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s devastating attacks on Harris’s record as a prosecutor at the second Democratic debate. “Biden alluded to a crime lab scandal that involved her office and resulted in more than 1,000 drug cases being dismissed. Gabbard claimed Harris ‘blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until she was forced to do so.’ Both of these statements are accurate,” the Sacramento Bee reported after the debate.

3. The problem with Trump’s trade critics (from the legion of Democrat presidential wannabes), writes Michael Tanner, is that they offer no better options. From his column:

Nor is it just the TPP that Democrats oppose. Like Trump, most of the major Democrats oppose NAFTA. But, with the exception of Beto O’Rourke, they also oppose Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA (renamed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, or USMCA). Most Democrats have also opposed other, bilateral trade deals, such as those with Korea and Colombia.

The left flank of the Democratic party is even more anti-trade. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, wants the focus of trade to be on labor, the environment, and, ironically, consumers. She wants the U.S. to trade only with countries that have signed the Paris Agreement and meet onerous human-rights and labor standards.

This policy would fall most heavily on poor nations who can least afford costly environmental or labor upgrades. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala would be devastated, sending a new flood of refugees streaming toward our border.

And Bernie Sanders’s opinions are quite similar to Warren’s. Both of them are in favor of steel and aluminum tariffs and oppose all current trade deals. Sanders, like Warren, wants all future negotiations to be centered around labor, the environment, and human rights.

4. “BUT” is now a trigger word! Watch out IFs! Beware ANDs! Kat Timpf reports on the latest craze from the SJW-Academic Complex. From her piece:

Now, I write about political correctness for a living, but (oops!) I still have to say that this story was one that I had to read over multiple times to make sure it was actually true. I mean, how on earth is the phrase “no problem” offensive? Ballbach’s suggestion that saying “no problem” might actually make people think that they are a problem makes absolutely no sense based on what words mean. It clearly means the opposite, because putting the word “no” in front of “problem” makes it the opposite.

Speaking of what words mean, it’s completely ridiculous to say that you can simply replace the word “but” with “and.” They are totally different words; they mean totally different things. Do things sometimes come after the word “but” that might bum you out? Sure! For example: “I love you, but I don’t want to be with you anymore.” That hurts. The thing is, though, approximately zero people would say that the word “but” was the part of the sentence that hurt them, and about the same number of people would probably say that the sentence “I love you, and I don’t want to be with you anymore” would make them feel any better. The only difference it would make is that it would make less sense.

5. Kaj Larsen makes the case against U.S. forces disengaging in Nigeria, where they are helping the fight against the Boko Haram madmen. From the beginning of his piece:

On Thursday, August 15, the international terrorist group Boko Haram attacked a military base and community in Nigeria, killing three soldiers. This comes on the heels of an even deadlier attack three weeks ago, when armed members of the group rode motorcycles into a funeral in northern Nigeria and opened fire on the procession, killing 65 mourners.

For many, these are just forgettable attacks by Boko Haram. But for me, this story hit close to home. A few years ago, I was an investigative journalist reporting from where the carnage occurred. And years before that, I served as a Navy SEAL in Africa trying to prevent such carnage from taking place at all.

In today’s era of trade war with China and potential hot wars with Iran and North Korea, it’s easy to overlook the threat posed by Boko Haram, and conflicts in Africa more broadly. But I believe we ignore the continent and terrorist groups such as Boko Haram at our peril — and we’d better pay attention now before events force us to pay attention later.

6. If you detest other Americans, can you love America? Kevin Williamson wonders about the possibility of patriotism. From the beginning of his essay:

Is patriotism possible?

Is it possible for, say, Robert Francis O’Rourke? The Dave Matthews Band of Democratic presidential candidates put this into writing: “This country was founded on racism, has persisted through racism, and is racist today.” If by patriotism we mean simply to indicate love of country, would it be unfair to ask: How could a man of conscience love such a country? O’Rourke here is neither writing about the state nor any particular administration nor any of our nation’s many episodic failures to live up to its own ideals, but about the nation per se.

One cannot love a hateful country the way one might love a racist uncle in spite of his shortcomings, because the love of country cannot survive the contempt and condescension one unavoidably feels toward doddering old men who should have learned better by now but are too old to be taught. You might cut your dotty uncle some slack, but love of country assumes a certain minimum of respect for it and confidence in it that are precluded by the kind of eye-rolling indulgence that in the South is accompanied by the exclamation “Bless your heart!”

If you believed, as Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib believe, that the United States is fundamentally wicked, a force for injustice and oppression at home and abroad, and that this was not the result of ordinary human failure but by design, how could you in good conscience love such a country? If you believed, as Bernie Sanders and Patrick J. Buchanan do, that the United States is an oppressive empire, and that this empire must be disbanded, that it is a cultivator of “undemocratic, repressive regimes, which torture, jail and deny basic rights to their citizens,” as Senator Sanders put it, how could you love it? Not aspects of it — not the Grand Canyon, or the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches — but the whole thing itself?

7. More Beto: Rich Lowry goes after the Latinfaux for throwing America under the bus. From his column:

Of course, in crucial respects, the Constitution was indeed a compromise with slaveholders. It’s not clear why it would be considered better if, in the absence of such a compromise, slave states had possibly gone their own way to create a rump nation-state wholly devoted to slavery and not yoked to a North that became more anti-slavery over time.

Rather than enhancing the moral standing of slavery, the Founding tended to undermine it. “The Revolution suddenly and effectively ended the cultural climate that had allowed black slavery, as well as other forms of bondage and unfreedom, to exist throughout the colonial period without serious challenge,” the historian Gordon Wood writes. In his view, it set in motion the “ideological and social forces” that eventually led to the Civil War.

In the broadest gauge, it’s a mistake to treat the United States as an outlier in terms of its racial attitudes, when it was really an outlier in its embrace of liberty, however imperfect.

8. Another history twister, Peter Buttigieg, is scored by John Hirschauer for his campaign-trail right-side-of entreaties to conservatives who support traditional marriage. From his piece:

At a Pride festival in June, Buttigieg tacked the same line. “There are millions of Americans,” he began, “who today are not proud of what they believed yesterday about us, but we ought to make them proud of the fact they came on to the right side of history.”

What did “they” believe “about us”? Bad things, probably — maybe that marriage is between a man and a woman, or that scripture isn’t Pete Buttigieg’s malleable plaything that he can simultaneously invoke and dismiss as he finds expedient — but “what they believed” or didn’t believe “about us” is not the point. The ritual of redemption is: renounce your old beliefs, be born again, and expiate your guilt by condemning the avatar of that which you used to be. That self might have been any number of Buttigieg’s bogeymen: the “conservative Christian,” “older people,” those “brought up in a certain way,” or any other strata of the “they” who think bad things about “us.” Part of the condemnation is instructive, to shame the relics of the old consensus. The other is sacramental — the sneering and condescension toward traditionalists is itself a sort of ceremonial purge. We’re good people, you’re not.

9. Victor Davis Hanson scopes out the field of one-time self-declared centrists in the Dem prexy field who have veered ever leftwards as 2020 approaches. From his piece:

Joe Biden carved out a political career as good “ole Joe,” the glad-handing Catholic working-class, “one of us” moderates. Joe once opposed busing and argued for tougher sentencing for drug users and dealers. He was fervent in his initial support of the Iraq War, fought against federally funded abortions, and bragged that post-surge Iraq could become one of Obama’s “greatest achievements.” He has also unfortunately made a number of racist gaffes, whose thematic frequency might suggest more than just momentary lapses.

Biden’s two prior presidential candidacies crashed, partly because of his plagiarism, past and present, partly owing to his shallowness and superficiality, and partly thanks to his perceived caution, which was out of touch in both 1988 and 2008, when he posed as a centrist alternative to both liberal Mike Dukakis and progressive Barack Obama.

That was the Joe of yesterday. Today’s Joe is consumed with stamping out white privilege. He does not just wish to rhetorically castigate Trump. Rather, he has riffed on more than one occasion that he wants to smack the president or take him behind the proverbial gym and beat him up — prompting all sorts of emulative scenarios from his rivals. Cory Booker, again in the role of Spartacus, would like to knock out Trump too, albeit only when his male hormones get the better of him, he says. Kamala Harris, when asked in 2018 if she’d rather be stuck in an elevator with President Trump, Mike Pence, or Jeff Sessions, answered, “Does one of us have to come out alive?”

Joe is now for the open borders that he used to oppose, and he wants to ban the coal and other fossil fuels that he used to promote when among his hometown-clinging Pennsylvanians. Joe’s apparent challenge is to swing even harder left than a hard-left field, then win over leftist primary voters, then scoot back to the center in the general election, then wink to his former leftist supporters that he is the only alternative to Donald Trump and that his primary not his general-election self is his real persona.

10. The criminal-reform plan being promoted by Brooklyn-born, Moscow-marinated, Vermont-vented Bernie Sanders is, says Rafael Mangual, wrong in so so many ways. From his analysis:

Second, the goal of a 50 percent reduction is based on Sanders’s belief that our incarceration rate is driven “in no small part” by “extremely harsh sentencing policies and the War on Drugs.” This is simply untrue.

Drug offenders constitute less than 15 percent of state prisoners, who constitute about 88 percent of all prisoners in the U.S. Four times as many state prisoners are in for murder, robbery, rape/sexual assault, burglary, or aggravated/simple assault.

Moreover, the median term served by state prisoners is only about 16 months; and when it comes to drug offenders, about half (45 percent) serve less than a year in prison. Even 20 percent of state prisoners in for murder are out within five years.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that more than a third of violent felons had an active criminal-justice status (i.e., were on probation, parole, or out with pending charges) when they committed their offense. Coupled with the fact that a 50 percent reduction in the prison population would require releasing or diverting scores of serious, chronic, and violent offenders, it’s safe to say that the decarceration component of Sanders’s plan would actually undermine the public’s safety if implemented.

11. Mother Cabrini, the great immigrant (American naturalized!) Catholic saint gets blacklisted by NYC’s lefty First Lady. Kathryn Lopez tells the tale of how trannies now outrank a little Italian woman who built hospitals and orphanages, and tended to the poor, across the US. From her Corner post:

There are evidently 150 statues in New York City, but only five of them are of women. So Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s wife, set out to increase them by 50 percent. For direction about whom to honor, She Built NYC — the public-arts program dedicated to such projects — ran a poll to see what women people wanted to see honored. Coming in first place among 300 proposed women was Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, with 219 nominations. (Jane Jacobs came in second place with 93 votes.)

But there will be no Cabrini statue, She Built NYC decided.

Meanwhile, Cabrini, Italian immigrant and religious sister, is everything you would ever want in a role model. She was courageous — even fearless. She was a global community organizer. One of the most memorable excerpts from her diary involves her being both deeply saddened and righteously furious when she would encounter priests on the transatlantic journeys she would take with sisters to help the Italian immigrants in the U.S. who would not be prepared to celebrate Mass on the long, somewhat excruciating journey. So while a She Built NYC board, which includes Mayor DeBlasio’s wife, may see “Catholic nun” and turn away for fear of awkward encounters on the neuralgic issues of the day, they could also find some feminist and anti-clerical common ground! Instead, those who will be honored include an abortion-rights advocate (who mercifully was against forced sterilization) and cofounders of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

12. Cesar Conda contends that a cut in the payroll tax is the way to protect against an economic slowdown. From his article:

Despite the much-needed income-tax and corporate-tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the payroll tax continues to impose a heavy economic burden on workers and small businesses. The maximum Social Security payroll tax for a single-earner family is now a whopping $7,960 annually. Moreover, payroll taxes are highly regressive, with the bottom fifth of households paying 6.9 percent on average while the top 1 percent pay 2.3 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

It would be a mistake for President Trump to waffle on his administration’s reported consideration of cutting the payroll tax. A reduction would increase take-home pay for millions of workers, shrink the cost of labor for businesses (especially smaller businesses), and provide insurance against a downturn: According to economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics, every $1 reduction in payroll taxes would increase gross domestic product by 80 cents.

President Trump should propose exactly what President Barack Obama did in 2011: a temporary reduction in the Social Security portion of the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. This would provide significant tax relief for the average worker while counteracting the economic toll imposed by the administration’s tariffs on U.S. imports from China, which cost the average American household $600 annually, according to an estimate by JPMorgan Chase.

13. Armond White finds the reaction to the Netflix release of American Factory prompting a media rejoicing over the new ministers of propaganda, aka Barack and Michelle Obama. From the commentary:

The Netflix-Obama nexus is stranger and more significant than American Factory itself. Calling their curator unit “Higher Ground,” Netflix and the Obamas remind us of Michelle’s fraudulent 2016 campaign boast “When they go lower, we go higher.” What could be lower than an ex-president and his mate perpetuating a counter-offensive to the successive administration? Could Juan and Evita Perón, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu have matched the divisiveness — or such wealth and potency — implicit in that lofty moniker? The Hollywood-Obama collusion was first apparent when Michelle made an Oscar telecast speech in 2013.

Articles about American Factory breathlessly quoted bombast from a Higher Ground PR video featuring the Obamas and the filmmakers. Michelle says, “You let people tell their own story. American Factory doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial.” This is actually the opposite of how the film works, so her comment is either disingenuous, or ignorance disguised as praise.

Obama’s own orotundity was smoother:

Let’s see if we can all elevate a little bit outside of our immediate self-interest and our immediate fears and our immediate anxieties and kind of take a look around and say huh, we’re part of this larger thing. And if we can do that through some storytelling, then it helps all of us feel some sort of solidarity with each other.

Cunningly pairing the words “self” and “solidarity” is union-leader talk.

14. Howard Husock reviews Harvard’s knuckling under to lefties demanding the firing of fellow Rick Snyder, Michigan’s former governor, over contrived claims related to the infamous Flint water problem. From the beginning of his piece:

Incompetent local officials in Newark have followed in the footsteps of their counterparts in Flint, Mich., and failed to prevent lead from tainting the city’s water supply. Don’t hold your breath waiting for liberal criticism of current mayor Ras Baraka (or his predecessor, Cory Booker) for their indifference to the health of black children. But perhaps this should be the occasion for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to revisit its cowardly decision to withdraw its fellowship offer to former Michigan governor Rick Snyder for what’s falsely portrayed as his venal indifference to the plight of Flint.

Here’s the background. The Kennedy School did not formally rescind its appointment of Snyder to be a fellow at the school’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government. Instead, in the wake of the public backlash over his role in the handling of the infamous — though exaggerated — lead-poisoning crisis over the Flint water supply, Snyder took the high road and withdrew. But Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf effectively threw Snyder under the bus by saying, in the wake of a petition drive against the appointment, that “having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended.” The school, said Elmendorf, must study both successes and failures of government — but would look elsewhere for a study of failure, notwithstanding Snyder’s openness to discussing what he’s publicly called a failure of government at all levels.

Harvard — both Elmendorf and students — might have looked more deeply into the Flint situation before rushing to judgment. There is no doubt that Flint children were exposed to more lead than desirable in the city’s drinking water — but, as Drs. Hernán Gómez and Kim Dietrich, specialists in toxicology and environmental health, wrote in the New York Times, that is no reason to conclude they were “poisoned.” Who knows but that the situation in Newark — which is receiving far less notoriety — might not turn out to be worse? It lacks, however, the storyline of a Republican governor and a majority-African-American city.

. . . Land That I Love! Stand Beside Me as I Guide You with Recommendations from the New Special Issue of Your Favorite Conservative Magazine

Here are five of the 31 contributions (in addition to “The Week” and the always super “Books, Arts & Manners” sections) from the new September 9, 2019, issue of National Review, a special issue indeed.

1. The crack of the bat, the vendor hawking peanuts, the ump’s bellow. When heard via the transistor radio, is there a more delightful, more American sound? Not to Rich Lowry. From the beginning of his piece:

We live in the age of video, but radio still has its uses, broadcasting baseball foremost among them.

Baseball on the radio remains an iconic American sound. One hopes that if— God forbid—archaeologists generations from now ever have to strain to recover what American civilization was like, they will stumble upon a recording of at least a couple of innings called by Mel Allen or Jon Miller.

During night games in July and August, the murmur of the crowd—just like the sawing of cicadas, the chirping of crickets, the calling of frogs, and the clatter of innumerable other critters— speaks of the delicious languor of an American summer, of long days and hot nights, of drives to the beach, of talking on the front porch, of the yells of kids running in the yard after dinner, of carefree, seemingly endless hours.

Oh, how I adore that sound!

2. Terry Teachout loves the Western, with no spaghetti. From his piece:

What is it about westerns that keeps Mrs. T and me coming back for more? Part of the pleasure they give arises from their clarity of conception. George Balanchine, the great Russian-American choreographer, also loved westerns, a taste that puzzled his highbrow admirers, to whom he replied that he liked them because “there is nothing superfluous in them. Simple things without pretensions. . . . You watch a western and think, Ah! There’s something to this.”

But that “something” also has to do with the moral clarity of the Hollywood western. I’m talking not about black and white hats, but about the fact that the characters in every great western are forced to make moral choices that are always clear but rarely easy, especially since they live in a world in which sheriffs and jails are few and far between. In a world without laws or lawmen, we must all choose between the moral integrity of the old-fashioned hero and the moral cannibalism of the self-willed villain. Such stark choices are the essence of the classic western, which is why the genre and its three brightest stars, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne, continue to retain their near-mythic hold on the imaginations of American moviegoers. I just used the words “mythic.”

3. Jay Nordlinger digs that certain brashness that is part of the USA DNA. From his piece:

I like being an American abroad—you can get away with a lot. In Austria, a pedestrian waits at the intersection if the sign says “Don’t walk.” It doesn’t matter if it’s two in the morning, with no car for miles. He waits. My American feet won’t do it. I figure I will be excused, as the American who doesn’t know better.

In Salzburg, where I do some annual work, the concert halls are very, very hot. Most people are dressed to the nines. I always take off my jacket. Then something happens. The men around me look at their wives as if to say, “Well, if he’s doing it . . .” The wives will shrug, and the men will remove their jackets, in grateful relief.

That’s American leadership, baby.

4. It’s summer, and for Katherine Howell, that means . . . ice-cream stands. From her piece:

You can find the ice-cream stand on the side of the road as you return from a hike in the mountains, or on a warm weekday evening in your hometown, or on the boardwalk by the beach. Usually you go in a group, as a family or with friends. Making a selection can be serious business, especially for a child. Mint chocolate chip or double-fudge moose tracks? Dish or cone? Sugar cone or waffle cone? A cone has the advantage of being edible and delicious, but it could end with a toppled-over scoop in the dirt or sticky rivulets of chocolate running down your arm. I’m risk- and mess-averse. I usually go with the dish, and multiple flavors to hedge my bets. But once in a while, a cone feels right.

An array of options, the freedom to choose, to feel passionately (or not) about your preferences, to envy the flavor your neighbor went with, to take risks, to overindulge, to live with the consequences—what could be more gloriously American?

5. Rick Brookhiser pays homage to Satchmo and When You’re Smiling, just one of the master’s masterpieces. From the piece:

Armstrong’s performance makes this as obvious as fireworks. He played the song throughout his career; what Terry gave me was his first, 1929 recording. The tempo is fox-trot. He sings, there is a saxophone break, then he plays.

I played trumpet in middle and high school, so I know the difficulty of what follows. But anyone can hear it. Armstrong is stretching his instrument to the limits. He got the idea from a trumpeter he had heard at Roseland, the New York City ballroom, who played everything an octave higher than it was written. We have an eye- (and ear-) witness description of Armstrong applying this technique to the song the year his record came out. “He really got into playing ‘When You’re Smiling.’ He had a great big Turkish towel around his neck, and perspiration was coming out like rain water. When he got to the last eight bars, he was getting stronger and stronger.” Afterwards a stunned fellow trumpeter asked to inspect his horn, thinking he had used a trick instrument, maybe a piccolo trumpet in disguise, moonlighting from Messiah. He hadn’t. He was determined to hit those notes, and he did. Fearlessly? Hardly that—he wasn’t a moron, he knew the risks. But he applied himself confidently, and made a joyful noise. Call it heroic optimism.

Help Honor Our Fearless Leader

No, not that one. The reference is, of course, to Mr. Lowry, who will be receiving the Human Life Foundation’s “Great Defender of Life” Award this October 10th in NYC at the Human Life Foundation’s annual dinner. Also being honored: the great Helen Alvaré. Come. Buy a ticket, a table, a journal ad. And get this: Yours Truly is the master of ceremonies, so if that isn’t a reason to show up, what is? Do all the getting here.

The Six

1. Apologies for skipping this a couple of weeks back, but Dan Hanna’s Telegraph column on MP Theresa Villiers, the “Unsung Heroine of Brexit,” introduces us to a rare elected official. From his piece:

Who do you reckon is the most Eurosceptic member of the new Cabinet? Dominic Raab? Andrea Leadsom? Boris Johnson himself? Here’s one name that I bet you won’t have considered: Theresa Villiers, the Environment Secretary.

Theresa is one of only three members of the entire government to have voted consistently against the previous PM’s withdrawal terms. You didn’t know that? I’m not surprised. After all, she tends to keep it to herself.

Back in 2010, as Minister of State in the Transport Department, Theresa’s first act was to have the EU’s 12-star flag removed from departmental buildings. I found out about her decree by the merest chance via a civil servant. How many politicians, I remember wondering, . . .

2. In USA Today, Jessica Prol Smith nails the leftist Southern Policy Law Center for being a fundraising scam outfit that nearly caused her to be murdered. From her column:

Jobs and years have passed, and I work now for Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF ranks among “the top performing firm(s]” litigating First Amendment cases, the “Christian legal powerhouse that keeps winning at the Supreme Court.” And yes, my new employer has also attracted one of the SPLC’s spurious hate labels. The label easily peels and fades away when one actually does the research and listens to truth before deciding to troll.

If the SPLC thought that their hate would intimidate or silence me and my colleagues, they’re sadly mistaken. I’m lucky — blessed, really — that I didn’t take a bullet for my beliefs back in 2012. But the center’s ugly slander and the gunman’s misguided attack have sharpened my resolve and deepened my faith in my Savior, who commands my destiny and shields me from the schemes of man. The same is true for my colleagues.

Fifty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fell to an assassin’s bullet. The SPLC pretends to carry his legacy but weaponizes hate labels instead. Unlike SPLC’s name-calling, Dr. King’s words and vision stand the test of time. “Injustice anywhere,” he warned, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”

3. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti decries the extinction of Christians in the Middle East. From his report:

Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians.”

This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.

Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over.

4. At The Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce sings the praises of Jane Austen and her feminine genius. From the essay:

Like Shakespeare, Jane Austen can be said to be not of an age but for all time, and yet, as with Shakespeare, it helps to know something of the age in which she wrote in order to understand the fullness of what she is saying in her work. Shakespeare was almost certainly a believing Catholic living in anti-Catholic times; knowing this about him helps us to understand the subplots of The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet, and the angst and anger that animates Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello. Similarly, knowing that Jane Austen was a devout Christian living in an age in which Romanticism was at war with faithless rationalism helps us understand her way of seeing the world and the ideas that were shaping it. This being so, let’s look at the lady and her age.

Born in 1775, Miss Austen entered a world which was ripe for, and would soon be rife with, revolution. The American Revolution was ushering into existence a new sort of nation, bereft of both monarchy and aristocracy, and enshrining the principles of the Enlightenment in its Constitution. Then, in 1789, the French Revolution brought down the ancien régime, replacing it with a secularist tyranny, the darkness and terror of which laid the ideological foundations for future communist tyrannies. Against these new ideas, Edmund Burke sounded a sagacious and cautionary note, especially in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, which was published at the end of 1790, when Jane Austen was fifteen-years-old. Many of Burke’s views can be seen to be represented in the character of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, suggestive of Austen’s own sympathy for Burke’s anti-revolutionary position, though it might be a stretch to suggest that the hero’s name, Edmund Bertram, is a phonetic allusion to Edmund Burke himself, which would indicate that Burke had been a mentor to the young Miss Austen as Bertram had been a mentor for young Miss Price.

5. At Reason, Robby Soave checks out the kiddies’ love of Socialism. From his essay:

Essentially, Sanders has done for democratic socialism what Ron Paul did for libertarianism in the late ’00s: make it an exciting, cool, radical alternative to the mainstream parties’ staid orthodoxies. Just as Paul challenged other Republicans’ commitment to waging increasingly unpopular wars, Sanders slammed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her Wall Street ties, her hawkish foreign policy, and her general lack of left-wing bona fides. Clinton won the nomination, but Sanders put up a much better fight than expected—a testament to the popular appeal of the ideas he was proposing.

Those ideas included a single-payer health insurance system, free tuition for all college students, a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour, and a more progressive tax system that confiscates wealth from the richest 1 percent and redistributes it to everyone else. Such proposals are particularly popular with younger Americans. According to a 2018 Harvard Institute of Politics poll, 55 percent or more of 18- to 29-year-olds support a $15-an-hour federal job guarantee, free college tuition, and Medicare for All. In a Harris Poll this year, 73 percent of millennial and Gen Z respondents thought the government should provide universal health care, and about half said they’d prefer to live in a socialist country. While Americans overall have a much more favorable view of capitalism than socialism, Americans between 18 and 24 do not: 61 percent have a positive reaction to the word socialism, compared to 58 percent for capitalism.

One reason for this is that people like Sanders have studiously worked to get a softer definition of socialism into circulation. Throughout the 20th century, the word evoked either the working class directly seizing the means of production or the government nationalizing industries, setting prices, and reducing or abolishing the right to own private property. The latter was much more common in practice, and the countries that took that route—the Soviet Union, mainland China, the Eastern European states, etc.—had horrific human rights records. Socialist regimes found it necessary to negate a whole host of individual rights and to arrest or murder dissidents in order to realize their ends.

6. In the new Claremont Review of Books, Chris Caldwell explores the maddening question: Why hasn’t Brexit happened yet? From his essay:

It was reasonable to assume that in Britain’s heart of hearts, absent peer pressure and government scare tactics, sentiments were even more pro-Brexit than the impressive majority at the ballot box could convey, and that the change of regime would be almost self-enacting. “The Government will implement what you decide,” leaflets distributed during the referendum had promised. So the Brexit forces disbanded. The beery wiseacre Nigel Farage, whose U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) had focused single-mindedly on discontent with the E.U., retired from politics. The Tories returned to business as usual. Upon Cameron’s resignation, members chose as his successor the former home secretary Theresa May, who had not even backed Brexit herself. That seemed not to matter. “Brexit means Brexit,” May dutifully intoned. It was government policy. Brexit would be a bureaucratic sideshow to the real business of her premiership, which May laid out when she devoted her first major speech to “Seven Burning Injustices,” most of them involving race, class, and gender. On March 29, 2017, Parliament activated Article 50, which fixed the date for Britain’s departure from the E.U. exactly two years later. Now Brexit seemed locked in beyond the shadow of a doubt. May then called (and was nearly ousted in) a general election, on which the Brexit question had hardly any effect, because her Labour foes treated the matter as settled. And then, two years later…

No Brexit. It has been postponed. Yes, Britain will regain its independence on October 31, if Brexit’s adversaries do not find a way to block it. But those adversaries include almost the whole of Britain’s political, economic, and journalistic elite, and they have been ingenious in finding ways to block it thus far. The largest and highest-stakes exercise in democracy that the country ever engaged in—the culmination of decades of soul-searching, in which the country insisted on its independence, its national identity, and the primacy of its constitutional system—is at risk of simply being ignored.

May left office in disgrace and in tears, burbling about “race disparity audits” and “gender pay reporting” and fair treatment for gays. Perfectly legitimate subjects for another time, but not for a moment when the country’s sovereignty hung in the balance. Her inability to understand the stakes of her three-year premiership made her the country’s most significant political failure since Neville Chamberlain. What does this mean for Boris Johnson? To the alarm of all Remainers (many of whom despise him), and even a good number of Brexiteers (many of whom envy him), it places him in the most Churchillian situation of any incoming premier since Margaret Thatcher after the strike-ridden “Winter of Discontent” in 1979, or possibly since Churchill himself in 1940.

Hong Kong

A little kudos here to a dear old NR colleague, Jillian Melchior, now with the Wall Street Journal and spending a lot of time in dangerous places in Hong Kong (not her first stint there) covering the democracy protests, running the kind of risks never dreamed of by the armchair general who pens this WJ. Consider these two articles:

1. Adapting tactics to stymie police crackdowns, demonstrators opt for smaller flash mobs. From her report:

Not long after I left Kwai Fong, officers stormed the metro station and fired tear gas, the first time they’ve deployed it indoors. Later I saw video from another metro station, where police beat protesters as they tried to board an escalator and fired pepper-spray balls at close range Sunday night.

The protests may be leaderless, but they’re well-organized. Many demonstrations feature a special brigade to combat tear gas. They scoop canisters up with oven mitts and drop them in water-cooler tanks, suffocate them with a wok lid, or lob them back at police with badminton or tennis rackets. It’s become popular to pop a traffic cone over the canisters. It acts as a chimney to prevent the gas from dispersing, and protesters pour water down the chute until it’s extinguished.

Christian groups or elderly protesters try to defuse confrontations. Other protesters administer first aid or deliver messages. There’s often even a cleanup squad. Demonstrators sometimes wrap their skin in cling wrap to protect against tear gas and pepper spray, and I spoke to one protester who was meticulously pulling the serrated edges out of empty boxes. He worried that police would accuse him of possessing a weapon when he dropped off the boxes for recycling.

Beijing is making ominous noises. On Monday, a government spokesman said “the first signs of terrorism are starting to appear” and wrongdoers would be punished “without leniency, without mercy.” On Tuesday Ms. Lam said protesters risked pushing Hong Kong “into an abyss.” China has staged flashy shows of force across the border in Shenzhen. Hong Kong police showcased water cannons this week. Protesters are brainstorming how to respond if officers use them. So far the only advice they’ve come up with is: Run.

2. If you are demonstrating or dissenting, your job is at risk. From the analysis:

Some protesters have sustained serious injuries at the hands of police and plainclothes thugs. More than 700 demonstrators have been arrested to date, and some face charges of “rioting,” which can carry a 10-year sentence. And protesters’ livelihoods may be on the line too, owing to Beijing’s pressure campaign on corporate employers.

The most notable target is Cathay Pacific , one of Hong Kong’s flagship companies. The airline needs 3,200 employees for daily operations, but some 1,500 were absent during a general strike, said Carol Ng, a veteran flight attendant who is chairman of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

China’s aviation authority announced that any Cathay employee involved in the protests would be forbidden to staff flights to or from the mainland, which account for about a fifth of the airline’s trips. Rupert Hogg, Cathay’s chief executive, resigned late last week after saying employees “who support or participate” in protests—even on their own time—could face discipline. The airline has fired at least four people. Cathay’s chairman, John Slosar, personally declined my interview request via a LinkedIn message.

Ms. Ng sums up the message from Beijing: “Go back to your job, keep your mouth shut.” If a major company was “required to back down in front of the political pressure, what’s next? A medium- or small-sized company will be forced, or will be instructed, to take sides, and more and more dismissal cases you can imagine happening across the city.”


It proved to be the last game for the man considered the National Pastime’s premier clown, Nick Altrock, the jug-eared once-ace for the White Sox (between 1904 and 1906 he racked up 62 wins, and one in the 1906 World Series, for Chicago). He eventually became the Washington Senators’ official home-field fool (and coach!) for decades. While Altrock essentially retired after the 1909 season, the allure of money and hijinx-performing from the first-base coaching box kept him in the stadium daily, and even on the roster — during the next 35 years he appeared for the Senators in 17 games, strung over 1912, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 24, 29, 31, and 33, when he played his final game, at the tender age of 56. It was also the last game of the pennant-winning season for the Senators, who lost 3–0 to the Philadelphia Athletics. The play-by-play has vanished, but the box score shows Altrock pinch hit for Second Baseman John Kerr. He made out.

(Of note: In his penultimate at-bat, in a late-season 1931 4–2 loss to the Red Sox, Altrock, age 54, walked. And then was caught stealing.)

Also on the field for Altrock’s last game was the Senators’ teenage infielder Cecil Travis (a wonderful picture of the two can be found here). Travis is one of baseball’s many forgotten stars who deserves remembering. Over 12 seasons (all for Washington), he would compile a lifetime .314 batting average. From 1934 to 1941, he hit over .300 all but once (in 1939 he was ill twice with the flu, but still batted .292).

In 1941, when Joe DiMaggio compiled his 56-game hitting streak, it was Travis who actually led the majors in hits with 218, and his .359 batting average was second only to Ted Williams’ amazing .406. And that’s where the greatness ended.

At 27, peaking, in the midst of what could have been a Hall-of-Fame career, came World War 2. Travis was gone for three seasons (he served in the Army in Germany, post-Bulge) and much of a fourth. Discharged, he came back to Washington in late 1945, but the zing was gone. His last full season, 1946, saw his batting average drop to .252, and in Travis’ final season, 1947, he pinch hit and played sporadically. His last appearance came on September 23 at Yankee Stadium, the first game of a doubleheader (which the 7th-place Senators lost, 2–0). There were no grand theatrics: Travis went hitless in three at-bats.

Interesting: Also on the field that day was a young Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra. Travis wasn’t only a great ballplayer, but he was a bridge between baseball generations: In his first season (1933) Travis played with Altrock, a man who had pitched in 1898 (with Louisville) and counted among his teammates Honus Wagner and his foes Cy Young. And in his last game in 1947, Travis played against a man, another of baseball’s great characters, who would still be playing the beloved game in 1965, managing teams into the mid-1980s, and even coaching through 1989.

A Dios

Pray — that people pray. Creation could stand more of it. And while you’re at it ask the Creator for His mercies — they are endless. And then share a prayer for good ol’ NR, that it continues to stand athwart history as tasked by our founder. We haven’t missed a Weekend Jolt yet, and don’t intend to, but this week we’re sailing on the Good Ship Lollipop up in Canada and on call 24/7 — but we’ll find time to patch together something.

God’s Blessings on You and Yours, and this America which We Love,

Jack Fowler, who can receive your thoughts on why you love America at

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