We are launching our Fall 2018 webathon with this Jim Geraghty appeal. It was planned long ago, and hokey smokes what a maelstrom to sail into! More below. But first . . .
The contrived eleventh-hour smear — the destroying of a reputation as the price of some chiseling political gain — is part and parcel of our culture. Poor innocent Jimmy Stewart, a.k.a. Jefferson Smith, who went to Washington in 1939 and crossed a gang of devious media-backed hacks, looms large in American lore. Deservedly. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington must have new and particular meaning to the Kavanaugh Clan, now enduring his umpty-umpth week of indignity in the meat-grinder that is The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, guffaw.
Yet, he soldiers on. Bravo, truly. We watch aghast at the tumult, the calculation and deception, the unmitigated gall, the preening phonies, the well-intentioned pilloried, the past distorted, and . . . his defiance.
Which brings to mind another movie, and no, it’s not Spartacus, which we will leave to the presidential wannbe from New Jersey. It’s Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg (Montgomery Clift is brilliant in this scene, and here is Part Two). Central to the movie’s plot is the fate of an esteemed judge, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster. How could the international respected jurist end up on trial as . . . a Nazi stooge? Oh, the things that can happen when the Left runs a courtroom (in Moscow, site of various Show Trials, in Germany, where a notorious Nazi judge dispenses demonic “justice”). It’s an obvious point: For the Left, courts are not hallowed venues for jurisprudence and hushed reverence, nor the echo chambers of Maimonodes and Solomon and Justinian, nor need they be presided over by the learned and temperate. Nope. Maybe once upon a time. But like every other institution, to the Left our Courts are a means of achieving a political objective. Trash non-compliant nominees accordingly.
1. From earlier in the week last: We demand of Senate Republicans (and all lawmakers shocked by the dirty delay tactics of the Left) that they Fight for Kavanaugh. Here’s how our editorial wraps up:
Brett Kavanaugh is an excellent jurist who has earned his sterling reputation over decades of public service. If his career is going to be ruined and his reputation besmirched, it should require clear and convincing evidence. We are willing to follow the facts wherever they lead, but so far, they lead only to the belief that this is a disgraceful episode that makes Borking look above-board and responsible by comparison.
If Republicans surrender on the basis of what we know now, they will face the fury of their own voters — and rightly so.
2. We believe immigrants should support themselves (my grandparents did!). Don’t you? The Trump administration is proposing new regulations on benefits and their threshold. From our editorial:
In determining whether someone in the country is “likely at any time to become a public charge,” an obvious factor to consider is the degree to which they are already dependent on the government. And under the current rule, established by executive fiat about two decades ago, officials do consider whether an applicant is primarily dependent on cash assistance.
The problem is that cash assistance is today but a small part of the welfare state. Other forms of aid, from food stamps to housing to Medicaid, are far more common. The administration estimates that 23 percent of foreign-born noncitizens receive public benefits — but that only 2 percent receive cash assistance in particular.
3. Sleazers gotta sleaze. We go after the ridiculous charges of Attorney Avenatti. From the editorial:
But drama is not evidence, and timing is not corroboration, and, as is customary for the man, Avenatti’s latest act seems to have been built out of smoke and mirrors. We were promised proof that Brett Kavanaugh, along with his friend Mark Judge, had been running a “gang rape” ring. Instead, we got an unsubstantiated statement from a single accuser, the only details of which (the names and a convenient reference to “Beach Week”) were based on information that was already publicly available. In a statement posted on Twitter, Julie Swetnick alleged that Judge Kavanaugh was present when friends of his engaged in serious criminal misconduct. Per Swetnick, who claimed to have been to at least ten parties with the pair, Kavanaugh often got “excessively” drunk and tried “fondling and grabbing” girls without their consent. The women were “disoriented” with drugs and alcohol and then “gang raped.”
As evidence for this, Swetnick provided . . . nothing. She named neither witnesses nor victims, could identify none of the perpetrators except for Kavanaugh and Judge, failed notably to decide on the year in which these alleged crimes took place, and hedged in her language such that the only concrete accusation of Brett Kavanaugh’s involvement with “gang rape” was that she saw him drunk once near a door. In a bloodless piece on the topic, the New York Times reported that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.” “Her lawyer,” the paper confirmed, “declined to make her available for an interview.” Well, then.
4. Finalamente: Confirm him. From the editorial:
The Senate should elevate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Thursday’s hearing was at times compelling, at times emotional, and at times frustrating. At no point, however, was it transformational. When the day started, there was no corroborating evidence behind any of the charges leveled against Kavanaugh. That remains the case now.
Although she was subject to only the lightest cross-examination, Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, acquitted herself well. Indeed, as Kavanaugh himself acknowledged, it seems entirely possible that at some point in her life, Ford was sexually assaulted. That is a terrible thing. Nevertheless, the charge that Kavanaugh was responsible for the attack remains extremely weak — even non-existent. Every single named witness has either rejected Ford’s story outright or testified that he or she has no memory of it. One of those witnesses, a lifetime friend of Ford’s, not only affirmed she had never attended a party with Kavanaugh — with or without Ford — but that she did not in fact know him at all. And, as Ford herself acknowledged, there are serious gaps in her account.
That Kavanaugh believes himself to be wholly innocent was clear from his extraordinary opening statement. Rarely in American life has any figure pushed back so indignantly or professed his innocence with more vehemence. His reputation, Kavanaugh insisted, had been “totally and permanently destroyed,” his life made a living “hell.” Echoing Clarence Thomas in 1991, Kavanaugh described the last ten days as a “circus” and repeated on more than one occasion that he had wanted to appear at a hearing from the moment the charges had been presented. Frequently, he broke down into tears.
After Kavanaugh had made his plea, the senators on the Democratic side of the aisle were noticeably muted. Perhaps the vagueness of the charges they had been asked to consider had made their jobs effectively impossible. Perhaps they had been shocked by the intensity of the accused’s protestations. Either way, the ten members of the minority descended swiftly into repetition — and, at times, into farce. One after another they asked Kavanaugh to ask for an FBI investigation into himself, no doubt so that they could tell the world that he was under such an investigation and delay his vote as long as possible. And, when that failed, they resorted to litigating his high-school yearbook or to making insinuations about his drinking. Unusually for a nominee, Kavanaugh was aggressive in his rebuttals, demanding that he be allowed to finish his answers, expressing his frustration with the gamesmanship, and at times asking derisive questions back at the senators.
5. But then: Jeff Flake pulls his stunt that extends “an assiduous and cynical campaign of character assassination.” From the editorial:
Whether Senator Flake had his change of heart because he was detained briefly in an elevator by activists who harangued him only he will ever know. Regardless, he should understand that the protester who shouted at him is firmly in the Murphy school of thought. “I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today,” she wrote on Twitter. “We absolutely need an FBI investigation and for him and all Senators to vote NO. #StopKavanaugh.”
She is right, of course. This is a delaying tactic. It is a fishing expedition. It is, in effect, the extension of an assiduous and cynical campaign of character assassination. What, one wonders, does Senator Flake think that Democrats are going to do if, as will almost certainly be the case, the FBI concludes that Dr. Ford’s story still has no corroboration? Does he expect Kamala Harris and Cory Booker to say, “Well, we are satisfied, and we are voting for him?” Does he expect Dianne Feinstein to pen a paean to the majesty of the presumption of innocence?
RELATED: Andy McCarthy pounds GOP senators for giving the Democrat character assassin “everything they wanted.”
What is Reihan Doing on the Cover of the New National Review?
I walked in NR’s doors in January of 1983 and I’ve yet to be a cover boy. Ah well. No schadenfreude allowed! The fact is a new issue is hot off the presses, and Reihan’s mug is on the cover — and damn it looks good. So let me share links from four pieces (one will be Reihan’s, about his forthcoming book, Melting Pot or Civil War? A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, in the issue.
But be reminded: If you have an NRPLUS membership, you can read these pieces, and the entire issue of the magazine, pronto. And comment. And enjoy NRO sans too many ads.
1. A juicy essay taken from Reihan’s book. Enjoy a slice:
Immigration advocates tell us we have two choices: to be an open society that welcomes immigrants or to be a closed one that barricades itself off from the rest of the world. If you disagree with any aspect of the pro-immigration agenda for any reason, you must be heartless or racist. rhetorically and politically, forcing this choice is shrewd, but it is a false choice all the same. The real choice is not between being open or closed. rather, it is between hubris and humility. The belief that we can continue on our current path, in which most immigrants are admitted to the U.S. without regard to their skills, as if the economic prospects of those with little in the way of schooling were just as bright today as they were a generation ago, is, to my mind, the height of hubris. Consider a few of the challenges we as a country face, and whether our immigration policy will ease or exacerbate them.
The first and most obvious is that America’s immigration system is expanding our low-skill work force just as automation and offshoring are exposing low-skill workers to ever-intensifying competition. We aren’t welcoming nearly as many foreign-born workers as low-wage employers would like, and I readily acknowledge that if our low-skill work force were to dramatically expand, low-wage employers would find a use for it, especially if we were to repeal the federal minimum wage and relax labor standards. For one, a surge of low-skill immigration might lead technologists to abandon the quest for (say) self-driving cars as the ready availability of low-wage immigrant drivers rendered them unnecessary. Yet the susceptibility of many low-wage jobs to automation would likely have the effect of holding down wage growth. Given concerns about stagnant working-class wages and high inequality, this doesn’t seem like a recipe for social harmony.
In a similar vein, advances in communications will soon make it much easier for U.S. firms to make use of remote labor. As the economist Richard Baldwin has explained, “‘virtual immigration,’ or international telecommuting, would radically expand the range of jobs that are directly subject to international competition. Many menial and professional tasks in rich nations could be performed (remotely) by workers and professionals sitting in poor nations.” In other words, at some point in the not-too-distant future, U.S. employers will be able to capture almost all of the benefits of low-skill immigration by embracing virtual immigration, thereby vitiating the narrowly economic case for the former. Are we prepared for the impact of virtual immigration? And will having a larger number of workers with low levels of schooling and English proficiency make it easier or harder to reckon with it?
2. The great Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring from Congress. The Republican woman seeking to take her place is Maria Elvira Salazar (she’s facing off against Democrat Donna Shalala — yep, that Donna Shalala). Jay Nordlinger profiles this hot race. From his piece:
Miami, and so is Maria Elvira Salazar. She has 82 percent name recognition, she tells me. “And the viewers are the voters. I don’t even have to introduce myself,” on the campaign trail. “I don’t even have to explain myself. They tell me, ‘Oh, I know you, Maria Elvira! I know you’re a good person.’” Also, Salazar has this advantage over Shalala: She can campaign in both English and Spanish, switching between the two languages effortlessly.
I ask her why she is running. “Love and gratitude,” she answers. Love of country — which many Americans feel — and gratitude, which is especially strong in the breasts of exiles and refugees. When she speaks this boilerplate, she does so with the ring of sincerity.
And what are the issues in the campaign? Salazar talks about jobs and the economy. Whatever you think of Trump, she tells audiences, the economy is doing well. And the Democrats have been hijacked by the extreme Left. Do you want to continue on the economic path we’re on or go socialist? Many of the voters — Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans — know socialism. And don’t like it. Okay, what about immigration? This is a challenge for a Republican candidate here, Salazar tells me. The stance of President Trump and his GOP is not popular in this district.
3. Another great political piece in the issue is Kyle Smith’s profile of the grandstanding New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand . . . and her “calculated convictions.” From Kyle’s piece:
The best possible spin on Gillibrand’s attempts to make herself the Senate’s scourge of sexual assault is that she isn’t a shameless opportunist but she has a difficult time thinking clearly when it comes to such cases. Even after the notorious Rolling Stone story about a supposed gang rape at the University of Virginia was exposed as the product of the febrile imagination of a single lovestruck accuser named Jackie, Gillibrand said, “Victim-blaming or shining the spotlight on her for coming forward is not the right approach.” Victim-blaming! The undergrad, identified much later as Jackie Coakley, falsely portrayed members of a fraternity as rapists and the fraternity itself as the eager incubator of a culture of rape. She participated in a vicious attack. It was the fraternity brothers who were the victims.
Another effort to borrow some sexual assault-victim glamour, Gillibrand’s notorious decision to bring then — Columbia student Emma “Mattress Girl” Sulkowicz to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, was even more unconscionable. The young woman’s claim of rape by a fellow undergraduate, which was dismissed by a campus investigation, looked suspiciously like revenge for being romantically rejected by him after consensual sex. The young man later reached a settlement with the university after he sued it over the debacle in which his accuser, thanks to the efforts of Gillibrand and others, became a national celebrity while his name was repeatedly linked to unproven and almost certainly false claims.
4. Harvard has got a big discrimination problem. Surprised? Robert VerBruggen explains. From his piece: Here’s some of RVB’s wisdom:
The case that Harvard is discriminating against Asians is strong. Harvard’s Asian population fluctuated in a narrow range of about 15 to 20 percent from the early 1990s through 2013 (the year before the lawsuit was filed), even though the Asian population grew substantially in that period, whether measured as a percentage of college-age Americans, as a percentage of applicants to elite schools, or as a percentage of high scorers on the SAT. A private analysis conducted by Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research in 2013, released publicly pursuant to the lawsuit, found that Asians were less likely to be admitted than whites with the same qualifications. Using Harvard’s admission data, Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono–an expert witness for the plaintiffs — found the same thing. This seems par for the course among highly selective colleges in general: A study of ten schools by Princeton’s Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that, at private schools in 1997, “an Asian candidate with a 1250 SAT [out of 1600] would be just as likely to be admitted” as “a white student with an SAT score of 1110.” At public schools, Espenshade and Radford measured the “Asian disadvantage” in ACT points and put it at 3.4 out of 36.
Harvard’s lawyers argue, in part, that Arcidiacono’s analysis is wrong — an idea we’ll return to. But it’s worth asking whether what the plaintiffs allege is even illegal. This is an open question because the Supreme Court’s affirmative-action jurisprudence, a line of cases stretching from 1978’s University of California v. Bakketo 2016’s Fisher v. University of Texas, is a mess. Outside the courtroom, the case for affirmative action usually stems from the idea that it can help to counteract discrimination and make up for the legacy of past oppression. The courts, however, have always rejected this as a legal argument. Schools may not use racial preferences simply to help maltreated minority groups.
What they may do is use racial preferences to promote diversity, which allegedly has educational benefits and is thus an interest compelling enough to justify racial discrimination. What’s “diversity” and how might schools achieve it? Well, schools are allowed “considerable deference” to define what they’re trying to accomplish, but they have to explain their goals in terms that are “sufficiently measurable” that courts can ensure any consideration of race is “narrowly tailored” to achieving them. Harvard says it wants to expose students to “new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing,” and to prepare them “to assume leadership roles in the increasingly pluralistic society into which they will graduate.”
Sixteen Articles and Essays that Are a Firehose of Brilliance and Sanity
1. Victor Davis Hanson sees George Orwell’s 1984 reflected in the Kavanaugh attacks. From the essay:
The problem, of course, was that, under traditional notions of jurisprudence, Ford’s allegations simply were not provable. But America soon discovered that civic and government norms no longer follow the Western legal tradition. In Orwellian terms, Kavanaugh was now at the mercy of the state. He was tagged with sexual battery at first by an anonymous accuser, and then upon revelation of her identity, by a left-wing, political activist psychology professor and her more left-wing, more politically active lawyer.
Newspeak and Doublethink
Statue of limitations? It does not exist. An incident 36 years ago apparently is as fresh today as it was when Kavanaugh was 17 and Ford 15.
Presumption of Innocence? Not at all. Kavanaugh is accused and thereby guilty. The accuser faces no doubt. In Orwellian America, the accused must first present his defense, even though he does not quite know what he is being charged with. Then the accuser and her legal team pour over his testimony to prepare her accusation.
Evidence? That too is a fossilized concept. Ford could name neither the location of the alleged assault nor the date or time. She had no idea how she arrived or left the scene of the alleged crime. There is no physical evidence of an attack. And such lacunae in her memory mattered no longer at all.
Details? Again, such notions are counterrevolutionary. Ford said to her therapist 6 years ago (30 years after the alleged incident) that there were four would-be attackers, at least as recorded in the therapist’s notes.
2. You want the Trump Phenomenon explained? Rich Lowry says you’ll find that in the smears against Judge Kavanaugh. From his recent column:
Senate Democrats may delicately talk about the importance of norms and civility on Sunday shows, but watch how they act. They sat on an accusation throughout an extensive process of vetting and questioning a nominee, then declared it dispositive evidence against his confirmation when it leaked at the eleventh hour. They delayed a hearing with Christine Blasey Ford long enough to allow time for the second accuser to be persuaded to come forward.
All of this plays into Trump’s support. Surely, a reason that the president appealed to many Republicans in the first place, despite his extravagant personal failings, was that they had decided that virtuous men would get smeared and chewed up by the opposition’s meat grinder, so why be a stickler for standards?
If Trump’s attacks against the media are over-the-top and sometimes disgraceful, at least he understands the score.
He may not be a constitutionalist, but he will be faithful to his own side, and fiercely battle it out with his political opponents.
3. You know who won’t get the Kavanaugh Treatment? Beto O’Rourke, that’s who. Andy McCarthy zeroes in on yet another media double standard. From his piece:
We await the next shoe to drop in the Judge Kavanaugh saga. Rest assured that if there’s a rumor that, in third grade, young Brett yanked on the ponytails of the girl in the second row (war on women!), the New York Times, NBC News, and phalanxes of their journalistic colleagues will be all over it.
Meanwhile, Representative Beto O’Rourke had a pair of felony arrests in his mid-to-late 20s, including a reckless drunk-driving incident in which he crashed into a car and allegedly tried to flee from the scene. The cases appear to have mysteriously disappeared without serious prosecution, notwithstanding that O’Rourke continues to deny basic facts outlined in at least one police report.
So, what really happened? We don’t know. See, Representative O’Rourke is a Democrat.
4. The Kavanaugh Smear Campaign reminds all, of course, about what Clarence Thomas endured in 1991. Jonathan Tobin compares and contrasts. From the analysis:
Clarence Thomas may have been confirmed with a cloud on his reputation that eventually grew into a conviction that he was guilty. Yet even before Kavanaugh testifies about these charges, all left-leaning Americans may be convinced that he is guilty as charged. Nothing he says will shake that conviction, and almost everything they hear and read from liberal outlets will deepen their belief that he is a sexual predator and a liar.
That will be a heavy burden for Kavanaugh to carry for the rest of his life, even if he winds up spending it as a Supreme Court justice. His heretofore pristine reputation is gone, and there doesn’t seem to be any way it can be retrieved. Just as bad is that, unlike Thomas, who has been reviled by the Left but has been left largely alone to pursue what is by now a formidable judicial legacy, Democrats won’t be done with Kavanaugh even if they fail to defeat him. He should be prepared for a future in which congressional Democrats appease their base by attempting to revive investigations into his alleged high-school and college misbehavior. President Trump knows a Democratic House will at some point try to impeach him, and the same will likely happen to Kavanaugh, whether he is on the Supreme Court or remains an appellate judge.
Is it possible that liberal Americans will take a more measured view of these proceedings once the political furor dies down? Right now it’s hard to imagine such a possibility, since the country appears to be living in a moment where Steve Bannon’s line about politics being warfare has become an obvious truth. One day, however, more serious scrutiny will be given to the charges against Kavanaugh than they have thus far received from the liberal media.
5. The man was accused of gang rape, after all. But the anger in his self-defense is itself shocking to Lefties, who (infuriated!) try to turn that into a charge that Judge Kavanaugh lacks “judicial temperament.” Charlie Cooke calls BS on the lot of ’em. From his piece:
The first assumption is that a judge must act like a judge even when he’s involved personally in a case. “He’s supposed to be neutral!” came the cries this afternoon. “He’s supposed to have a cool temperament!” “He’s supposed to be an umpire.” Now, when a judge is acting as a mediator between two competing parties, this is, of course true. But what about when he’s not? What about when, as was the case today, he’s not the judge but the accused? In such a case it is entirely appropriate for a judge to defend himself, providing that he recuses himself if there is any conflict of interest. Today, Kavanaugh was the accused. And, today, he simply could not defend himself without making specific criticisms about how he had been treated; about who had said what, and when; and, yes, about how certain people in the room with him had behaved. To argue “he should have refrained from specifics” is to say, effectively, “he shouldn’t have competently defended himself.”
RELATED: Rich Lowry writes Brett Kavanaugh Should Be Angry.
6. VDH hails Kavanaugh’s triumphant self-defense, which rendered his Democrat foes “a collective Joseph McCarthy.” From his take:
Just when pundits were declaring Kavanaugh’s obituary, he appeared resolute, fiery, and presented an outraged denial that essentially put the entire Democratic effort at destroying him on trial.
He became the proverbial Joseph N. Welch; the Democrats became a collective Joseph McCarthy.
His effort galvanized heretofore somnolent Republican senators into stepping up and decrying the current farce. Lindsey Graham gave the greatest speech of his life, and the most remarkable from any Republican in years. He threw down the gauntlet to remind that any Republican who joined the witch hunt should be ashamed. That moment likely did a great deal to provide cover for a few wavering senators who might have been thinking of abandoning Kavanaugh, and, indeed, seemed to render obsolete some of the old Republican divides over Trump — given a new shared conservative outrage at the progressive efforts at character assassination.
Not one Democrat senator could find any inconsistency in Kavanaugh’s testimony, and their feeble attempts to do so had the effect of appearing bullying and crudity — ironically in the manner that the Republicans had feared they might appear if too aggressive in questioning Ford.
7. Could the Kavanaugh circus knee-cap the “Me Too” movement? Alexandra DeSanctis sees evidence of such. From her piece:
The idea that we must “believe all women” is similarly reckless, and left-wing activists and abortion-rights groups are pushing it nearly nonstop. Far from being a way to support women, this argument means that the truth of an allegation matters not at all, a terrible development for real victims of assault — not to mention for men falsely accused.
All of this will add up to the average person, who naturally wants justice for survivors, being less inclined to take sexual-abuse allegations seriously, the exact opposite of what the Me Too movement has promised and until now largely delivered. Because these accusations against Kavanaugh have so clearly been weaponized as a partisan tool, it only makes sense that onlookers will dismiss stories presented by biased politicians or shoddy reporting.
When people become numb to outrageous claims launched without verification and wielded by those with no interest in the truth, they will close their eyes to real instances of abuse. This debacle is teaching onlookers to take the stories of victims with a grain of salt. How can the average person be expected to care about seeking justice when so many in the public square seem to care more about advancing an agenda than about discerning who has actually been mistreated or abused?
8. Abandon all hope ye who . . . abandon: David French cautions Republicans who go south on Kavanaugh after his powerful self-defense. From his Corner post:
And it is also a fact that Kavanaugh has been subjected to a series of abhorrent, unsubstantiated allegations culminating in a fantastical and grotesque allegation of gang rape that all too many Serious People took all too seriously. In these circumstances, there was a need — a crying need — for a person to echo the immortal words, “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency.” Today, was that moment. Today, there were conservatives across the nation who choked up — some openly wept — during his testimony. Not because they disrespect women. Not because they excuse sexual assault. But because they also love their sons. Because they are tired of being painted as evil when they are seeking to do what’s right. Because they want to see a man fight with honor.
That’s what Brett Kavanaugh did today. He fought with passion, evidence, and compassion. And absent any new, substantiated revelations, he united the conservative movement. Any Republican who abandons him now will abandon the electorate that put them in power.
9. It was 100 years ago this week that hundreds of thousands of American doughboys climbed out of trenches and commenced the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The six-week effort (an understatement!) was the largest battle in U.S. history. Dan McLaughlin is his usual thorough self — this is a great essay of remembrance. From the piece:
Even the name, “American Expeditionary Force,” speaks to a different era. The armies of America’s wars before 1941 came into being to fight a specific war, and disbanded at the end, leaving their names behind as monuments: the Continental Army, the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee. The professionalized, permanent army and Marine Corps were tiny then; the Army in 1917 was less than 150,000 men, compared to some 11 million Germans under arms and 8 million Frenchmen, and ranked as the world’s 17th-largest army. Only after the Second World War would the United States develop what Dwight Eisenhower termed our “military-industrial complex.” Americans had put the world’s most formidable fighting forces in the field against each other in the 1860s but had mostly forgotten the arts of war by 1917, when about 14,000 Americans (two-thirds the size of the Continental Army in mid 1776) were all that could be put in the field in France.
The Marine Corps would do much to build its legend at Belleau Wood in June 1918, and would fight again at St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne under the command of Major General John Lejeune (namesake of North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune), but a small, elite force like the Marines cannot alone conquer a battlefield as vast and densely soldiered as the Western Front. And America’s industrial might was not the decisive factor it would be in the 1940s, when mechanized warfare ruled the battlefield; the American Army Air Service was not a notably effective factor in the battle, and many of the American tanks were borrowed from the French. It was the freshly recruited, still-amateur “Doughboys” of the Army, manning rifles, machine guns, and artillery, who made up the bulk of the estimated 600,000 men committed to the initial assault at H-hour on September 26. The six-week struggle would be the first and, as it turned out, the last time the AEF was fully committed to battle.
10. The science on “false memories” is very real and disconcerting, and the “memories” are a lot more common than you would think. Maddy Kearns has written an eye-opening article. From the piece:
In 1990, the McMartin preschool trial came to an end, seven years after allegations surfaced of outrageous, satanic sex abuse of toddlers. It was the most expensive criminal trial in American history; at its end, all charges were dropped. The mother who made the initial accusation was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic (she stated that she’d seen one of the alleged abusers fly through the air) and later found dead from complications of alcoholism. In the wake of this trial and other satanic-abuse hysteria sweeping the country at the time, “false memories” became a prominent phrase in neuropsychological research.
Now, Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter explains that false memories form partly because our brains are constructive — they create narratives about our future, which might lead to related memory errors about our past. Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist at New York University, reports in Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification that “unknown to the individual, memories are forgotten, reconstructed, updated, and distorted.”
Of course, when it comes to law, scientific rigor is key. Lawyers and judges therefore tend to seek independent corroboration — especially corroboration at the time of the incident.
The hearsay and allegations in Kavanaugh’s case are well chronicled in the media, and there’s no need to reiterate them here. But suffice it to say that proving guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not only a requirement for jurors but for all of us who dare to publicly speculate on matters that are so grave for both the accuser and the accused.
11. Let’s cram two movie reviews into one item! Kyle Smith looks at The Hate U Give and finds, in a “Black Lives Matters” opus, some stealth conservatism. Here’s how it begins:
As The Hate U Give reached its climax, I had to reach down to the floor. There it was, right down there with the soda residue and the spilled popcorn: My jaw. Did I really just see a Black Lives Matter movie, in which an unarmed black youth is shot and killed by a white cop, build up to a scene in which a black cop explains what goes through the mind of a police officer in such a situation, when a suspect repeatedly disobeys lawful commands, and explains that he would have shot the guy too? This film is going to make Sheriff David Clarke jump out of his seat and cheer.
Then Armond White takes a look at Robert Redford’s The Old Man and the Gun. If you like a review that slaps Redford, you’re gonna like this one. Here’s how it begins:
Robert Redford’s legacy is actually the subject of The Old Man and the Gun, in which he plays Forrest Tucker, an elderly ex-con recidivist and inveterate thief who still robs banks for fun in 1980s Texas. You can’t avoid the story’s association with the showbiz hucksterism of the arena where Redford has lived most of his life — Redford being one of those finicky Hollywoodians who pretends to disdain the frivolity of his profession. But it’s also hard to square the Tucker character’s questionable, supposedly affable behavior with the realization that Redford’s film legacy isn’t as delightful as filmmaker David Lowery pretends.
12. Red caps kowtow to Red China: George Weigel attacks the Vatican’s concordat with the PRC. Here’s how the analysis begins:
Attempts to defend the recent provisional agreement between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China, which was signed on September 22, have rung increasingly hollow over the past few days.
That pattern began before the ink was dry in Beijing, as Pope Francis’s secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, issued a statement claiming that now “for the first time all the bishops in China are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, with the Successor of Peter.” Really? Weren’t “all the bishops in China” in full communion with the pope before the Chinese Communists set up their front church, the Patriotic Catholic Association? Parolin also tried to justify the provisional agreement on the grounds that Pope Francis, like his immediate predecessors, “looks with particular care to the Chinese people” — a claim that, translated from Vaticanese, suggests that John Paul II and Benedict XVI would have made the same deal Francis and Parolin reportedly did. But that deal was available to John Paul II and Benedict XVI and they didn’t make it, because they knew that giving first rights of nomination over Chinese bishops to the Chinese state or the Chinese Communist Party was both a violation of the Church’s own canon law and a prescription for a puppet episcopate.
Then there was Andrea Riccardi, one of the founders of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic renewal movement firmly lodged in the progressivist camp. “Today,” Riccardi wrote, “the pope’s representative enters Peking [sic] through the front door. No more secret negotiations, but an official agreement that recognizes the dignity of the Holy See and Chinese Catholicism.”
How utterly, totally Italianate: Bella figura trumps again, and “dignity” is imagined to be a substitute for courage and fidelity to the truth. And of course Riccardi was spouting nonsense about “no more secret negotiations,” for the text of the provisional agreement is itself secret, and the charade by which the Chinese Communist Party will nominate bishops for a Vatican thumbs-up or thumb-down will be as transparent as mud. What has happened, one wonders, to the commitment to lift up the witness of the “new martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries, which the Sant’Egidio Community honors at the Church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola in Rome? Will those martyred in China while Vatican diplomats were caving in to Chinese Communist demands be remembered at that shrine?
13. More China: The PRC’s naval expansion shows global aspirations. Frank Lavin explains. From his piece:
With the launch of its second aircraft carrier, China has enhanced its position in the front ranks of military powers and prompted questions as to the ultimate purpose of its navy. The Chinese navy, formally known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), is expanding and will be doing so for years — decades — to come. Some of this is the natural consequence of being the navy of a country in economic ascendancy. Some of this is bureaucratic politics; the PLA is represented on the Communist Party Central Committee, and the PLA answers to the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese government. But some of this, the interesting part, is what’s left after one accounts for normal economic growth and institutional self-interest. We might not just be seeing an updated navy or a more potent navy; we might be seeing a different navy, with a different mission.
The axiom here is that in the short run, doctrine determines capabilities, but in the long run, capabilities determine doctrine.
14. Where have you gone, Scoop Jackson? While China expands, is America abandoning its role as global leader and peacekeeper? The statements of Capitol Hill Democrats in key Armed Services positions leave much to concern. Thomas Spoehr and Frederico Bartels discuss this important development. From their analysis:
What is America’s role in the world and what are our national priorities? Ask the two leaders of the House Armed Services Committee and you’ll get strikingly different answers.
On September 5 the committee’s ranking member, Representative Adam Smith (D., Wash.), suggested the U.S. should move away from being an “utterly and completely dominant” world power. Instead, he told attendees at the Defense News Conference, we should settle for being a “major player” among other major players in the international arena: Why “cling to this notion of dominance” amid the rise of China and other nations?
Smith views the dominance we achieved in the post-World War II era as unsustainable. It’s a perception that helps justify his contention that we spend too much on defense and must make deep cuts in the Pentagon budget. “How much of that [budgetary] pie can go to defense?” he asked, suggesting that domestic priorities must take precedence. He also opined that we are spending too much on our nuclear arsenal and should be able to absorb more risk in our international engagements.
15. Michael Brendan Dougherty, in his “Off the Shelf” weekly essay on a book he is currently reading, reviews, if you will, Reihan’s new tome. From the essay:
As soon as you get past the tautological stats about immigration increasing GDP, Salam shows, mass immigration makes us a poorer society: “The United States is home to eighteen million people under the age of eighteen who are either the children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves. According to research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the median income for these families is 20 percent lower than for established families,” he writes. And studies looking at social mobility show that, contrary to popular belief, immigrants and their offspring do not “have poverty-defying superpowers that natives do not.” Salam’s argument is that mass low-skilled immigration is adding to America’s baleful history of radicalized inequality, and amounts to serious political trouble.
The heart of Salam’s book is a plea to slow down the rate of immigration-caused change in society and to select future immigrants who are likely to assimilate into and replenish the great middle-class society that gives the American dream plausibility and grants the American way of democracy some legitimacy in the eyes of citizens.
16. Daniel Gelernter describes a night at the New York Philharmonic that sounds so dreadful . . . you’d almost want to have been there to see the train wreck. From his piece:
For years, the maniacal self-absorption of Music Director Alan Gilbert allowed the New York Philharmonic to deteriorate into a sloppy shambles and become the worst of the world’s best orchestras. This season, there is a new music director, Dutch conductor and violinist Jaap van Zweden. Van Zweden gave his opening subscription series this weekend, and the transformation was obvious: Under his baton, the orchestra is no longer sloppy. Now it is merely unmusical.
The concert opened with the debut of Filament, a new work by contemporary composer Ashley Fure that sounded like a parody of late 60s experimental music. The orchestra was supplemented by three soloists in casual hipster attire on spotlit pedestals: a trumpet, a bass, and — out in the aisle — a bassoon. These were in turn supplemented by fifteen “moving voices,” singers who prowled around the audience with black plastic megaphones that resembled witches’ hats. The piece lasted 14 minutes: roughly ten minutes of demonic possession followed by four minutes of a traffic accident in the Holland Tunnel. The composer’s stated goals included “to democratize proximity” and “to activate a theater for the social.” I feel compelled to note that, once the singers had finished hissing into their megaphones like a suite of deflating tires and van Zweden had turned slowly and balletically to stare at the audience as the lights were gradually dimmed to black, we were not left feeling that our proximities had been particularly democratized.
The audience, however, loved it. A few people stood up to applaud, and all sides murmured and bubbled about how “cool” it was.
It’s truncated this week. Had to vamoose. So go to NRO Podcasts page to see how the lineup has been refreshed since last you whipped out the headphones.
1. Soeren Kern, for Gatestone Institute, profiles a month of multiculturalism madness in the UK. It ain’t pretty. From his piece:
August 2. British teenagers are being forced to marry abroad and are therefore effectively raped and often impregnated while the Home Office “turns a blind eye” by handing visas to their husbands, according to The Times. Officials received dozens of reports last year that women wanted to block visas to the UK for men they had been made to marry in countries Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. In almost half of the cases, records show, the visas were approved. Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, said that she would demand answers from the Home Office over the findings. Experts believe there are thousands of victims in Britain, but that the vast majority are too afraid to come forward.
2. California State University at Long Beach has a mascot: Prospector Pete. Make that had. Per The College Fix, he’s being “retired.” Can you guess why? From the article:
According to the Daily Republic, university president Jane Close Conoley announced the decision to retire Pete on Thursday, stating “We came to know that the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence and threats of genocide.
“Today, the spirit of inclusivity is reflected in our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. Today’s Beach is not connected to that era.”
Son of a Beach!
3. At Law & Liberty, Garreth Bloor does a deep die into homo economicus. From his essay:
Why do free markets, despite their success in material outputs, fail to gain the moral high ground in surveys of public opinion, especially among a millennial generation said to be swelling the ranks of the Democratic Socialists? Juxtaposing two seemingly dissimilar writers, George Gilder (1939-) and Eric Voegelin (1901-1985), may shed light on the answer. We can look to Gilder on the macroeconomic, and Voegelin on the philosophical, principles that inform the often narrowly specialized thinking of writers who support free enterprise.
Our natural desires to apprehend the good and the just are often left cold by a model of homo economicusthat seems to lack an account of the dignity of the human person. “The good” and “the just” (“social justice” in today’s parlance) are terms often taken up in a collectivist vein within the moral vacuum left by many pro-market arguments.
Voegelin found shortcomings in the economic theories of the Austrian School. And Gilder, while believing that free markets matter, critiques a central element of market economics: the attainment of equilibrium. This essay seeks to assess whether these two demurrers, one from a philosopher and one from a tech-friendly economist, are reconcilable with one another. If they are, what could emerge is an analysis that is interestingly interdisciplinary–one that transcends the limits of economic methodology while still making the case for the proper place of economic methodology in the ordering of human flourishing.
4. Haters gotta hate. In the Wall Street Journal, the great Shelby Steele explains why. From his piece:
For many on the left a hateful anti-Americanism has become a self-congratulatory lifestyle. “America was never that great,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said. For radical groups like Black Lives Matter, hatred of America is a theme of identity, a display of racial pride.
For other leftists, hate is a license. Conservative speakers can be shouted down, even assaulted, on university campuses. Republican officials can be harassed in restaurants, in the street, in front of their homes. Certain leaders of the left–Rep. Maxine Waters comes to mind–are self-appointed practitioners of hate, urging their followers to think of hatred as power itself.
5. On his blog, libertarian economist Dan Mitchell sees a speck of honesty from some Euro economists who are mouthing some ideas that are Laffer-ian. From his post:
Regular readers know that I’m not a big fan of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Paris-based international bureaucracy routinely urges higher tax burdens, both in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
But the professional economists who work for the OECD are much better than the political appointees who push a statist agenda.
So when I saw that three of them (Oguzhan Akgun, David Bartolini, and Boris Cournède) produced a study estimating the relationship between tax rates and tax revenues, I was very curious to see the results.
They start by openly acknowledging that high tax rates can backfire.
6. In her new book, not-conservative author J.K. Rowling may be portraying some lefty characters as . . . racist! Misogynist! At The Spectator, Nick Cohen marvels. From his piece:
You rarely come across a character in modern literature like Jimmy Knight. He’s a racist, but that’s not what makes him a novelty act. racists, after all, are deplored everywhere in the culture industry, from Hollywood to Pinewood Studios. Of this racist, however, his ex-wife says:
‘I wouldn’t trust him if it was anything to do with Jews. He doesn’t like them. Israel is the root of all evil, according to Jimmy. Zionism: I got sick of the bloody sound of the word.’
Knight is also a misogynist, a type which is once again a familiar figure in contemporary fiction. But when his girlfriend cries out after he hits her, he replies by attacking her privilege with the language of the left:
‘Oh f**k off, that didn’t hurt! You demean women who really are knocked around, playing the victim.’
Speaking of New Books . . .
The man who has become America’s expert biographer on our Founding Fathers is NR’s Rick Brookhiser. And yes, he has a new biography coming out in a few weeks: John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court. To be exact, the publication date is November 6th.
Sounds kinda timely, no? Anyway, these publishers (Basic Books has the Marshall gig) pay these PR staffers (peanuts?) to write verbiage to persuade you as to why a book deserves to be purchased, read, and placed on your bookshelf. As I see it: Who am I to deny the burgeoning Hemingway pounding the keyboard in some windowless office at Basic the opportunity to show he or she has talent? That having been babbled, here’s what Basic’s PR shop wants you to know about this really good book:
In 1801, a genial and brilliant Revolutionary War veteran and politician became the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. He would hold the post for 34 years (still a record), expounding the Constitution he loved. Before he joined the Court, it was the weakling of the federal government, lacking dignity and clout. After he died, it would never again be ignored.
In JOHN MARSHALL: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court, renowned writer and biographer Richard Brookhiser offers a definitive look at Marshall’s legacy through his landmark decisions over three decades. In these often-colorful cases involving businessmen, scoundrels, Native Americans, and slaves, Marshall defended the federal government against unruly states, established the Supreme Court’s right to rebuke Congress or the president, and unleashed the power of American commerce. For better or worse, he made the Supreme Court a central part of American life.
Marshall was born in Northern Virginia and served as a captain during the Revolutionary War and then as a delegate to the Virginia state convention before being appointed to the Supreme Court by John Adams, almost by chance. He believed in a strong federal judiciary led by the Supreme Court, which would define laws, protect rights, and balance the power of the legislative and executive branches. However, America’s legal system, he worried, was threatened by specific individuals–namely Thomas Jefferson and the early Republican Party–who he saw as intent on undermining the Constitution and respect for law in order to empower themselves.
As a Federalist and follower of Washington, Marshall wanted a robust national government, favorable to business. He helped accomplish that. As Brookhiser vividly shows, Marshall’s modus operandi was charm and wit, and he often succeeded in uniting his fellow justices around unanimous decisions in controversial cases.
Beautifully written and deeply entertaining, JOHN MARSHALL is the definitive biography of America’s greatest judge and most important early Chief Justice.
Persuaded? You better be. Now click on the link (to Amazon) so you can pre-order weeks in advance: John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court. And good luck to you, Rick!
It’s Webathon Time!
This weekend we launch our appeal for financial help from our friends and admirers. When WFB was alive, these things were called “The Fund Appeal,” and they proved vital to sustaining NR as conservatism’s voice of consequence.
Bill always said he owned NR’s stock on behalf of the magazine’s donors. Their support meant much to him, and his sense and spirit of such awareness and gratitude remains. Indeed, it is part of the DNA at NR HQ. Boy oh boy, do we need your support. And boy oh boy, are we grateful for it.
Jim Geraghty has something important to say, to ask you to contribute. Give him a read.
To clear the mind, amble through Baseball-Reference.com: You’ll always find a rabbit hole to merrily go down. Among the players of yore highlighted this week by the site was Joe Hoerner, the journeyman reliever who pitched for 14 years from 1963 to 1977, most notably for the St. Louis Cardinals, appearing for them in the 1967 and 1968 World Series, the latter including a losing performance in Game 5.
About that contest, and about the point much discussed as to how baseball has become a very different game than the one played when I was a snot-nosed brat: Game 5 (it was terrific, and included Willie Horton gunning down Lou Brock at home; you can watch the game in its entirety: Part One is here and Part Two is here) tells us a lot about the differences.
Hoerner came into the game in the bottom of the Seventh to relieve starter Nelson Briles and to protect a 3-2 lead for the Cardinals, at that point leading the Detroit Tigers three games to one, and just nine outs away from becoming World Series champs. The inning began with Briles striking out the Detroit’s weak-hitting third baseman, Don Wert. And then the man who would prove to be the Series hero, the beer-bellied Mickey Lolich, stepped into the batter’s box. It was an incredibly pivotal moment: A poor batter (his career average was .110, although he hit his sole career home run in Game 2!), Lolich blooped a single to right, beginning a rally. Briles was yanked for Hoerner, who faced four batters only to give up three singles, a walk, and the lead. The Tigers won the game, 5-3, and then took the next two contests to wipe away the three-game deficit for a come-from-behind World Championship.
Fast forward to 2018: There’s no way Briles would still have been in the game in the 7th inning (in the 6th he had loaded the bases, but the Tigers failed to score). And even though he was pitching well (settling down after giving up three runs in the top of the 1st) there is no way Lolich would have hit for himself in that situation if this was Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.
By the way: The greatest pinch hitter in American League history, Gates Brown, was sitting on the Tigers’ bench when Lolich started the rally! Manager Mayo Smith obviously did not regret his decision.
This ain’t over by a long stretch. Backs were made to be stabbed, no? Pray that the spines stay stiff and that the forces of Alinsky go down to bitter defeat. I’m going to have some beers while I pray for my new favorite nominee. What else? OK, tip generously. And go Yankees.
May His Mercies Be Tender and Copious,
firstname.lastname@example.org, which is the email address of NR’s most decidedly uncool suit.