The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. Big Stuff?

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Nope. No way. You’re never gonna get my love.

Maybe not America’s either.

Quite the debate! Good thing for “The Big Guy” — he of Delaware-lost laptop fame — that the shebang didn’t last another half hour: The gas needle was hitting “E.” Maybe that’s what happens when you rely on wind power? Where’s fossil fuel when you need it?! Analysis of how the night went, and its likely ensuing political impact, is to be found below in the cornucopia of links.

But do consider first Jack Crowe’s piece calling out the MSM for its rush to claim no there there when it comes to the abandoned laptop and its explosive contents, which imply the mansion-owning government pensioner with the beachfront home could very well have taken regular, healthy cuts of Sonny Boy’s lucrative dad-and-uncle-involved overseas deals. From the piece:

Democratic partisans hoping desperately that the rapidly unfolding story of Biden family corruption will disappear before the election thought they had found their answer in the form of a Wall Street Journal report published late Thursday night.

The report is cautiously written and appears to accurately reflect what we currently know about Hunter Biden’s attempts to capitalize on his family name abroad. But it was quickly presented as a “debunking” of a Journal opinion column written by Kimberly Strassel. The column lays out in great detail recent claims by a former business partner of Hunter Biden’s named Tony Bobulinski, who came forward this week to confirm the authenticity of email exchanges between Hunter, his business partners, and representatives of the politically connected Chinese energy firm CEFC.

In one email, on which Bobulinski is listed as a recipient, Biden business partner James Gilliar lays out the terms of a proposed joint investment venture with CEFC in which James and Hunter Biden and their business partners would seek out investment opportunities for the Chinese in the U.S.

The email reads: “10 held by H for the big guy?”

According to Bobulinski, “the big guy” is none other than Joe Biden and “10” refers to a ten-percent equity stake in the venture that would be held by Hunter Biden. (It is worth noting that Biden did not deny being “the big guy” or question the authenticity of the emails when pressed by President Trump during Thursday night’s debate.)

If you thought beak-wetting was limited to The Godfather: Part II, well, dispel yourself of such naivety, because The Big Guy may have a pitch-black belt in such unholy tithing. Sicily’s got nothing on Wilmington!

Now, about the many links below, get thee to them!


1. We condemn the media’s shameful failure to report on the Joe/Hunter Biden debacle. From the editorial:

There is more and more reason to credit the veracity of those emails, or at a minimum, suggest that they warrant more thorough investigation. We have what appears to be a signed receipt from the computer repair shop in Delaware, demonstrating that Hunter’s laptop and hard drive were obtained legally. We know that the laptop in question is being held in connection to an FBI money-laundering investigation. The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, says that the emails in questions aren’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign and the FBI hasn’t contradicted him.

Yet, the managing editor of one of the nation’s largest publicly funded media organization believes emails possibly implicating a presidential frontrunner in having benefitted from deals involving his shady son who was leveraging the family name and proximity to power for millions are nothing but a distraction. Nobody would apply that standard to stories about influence-peddling, foreign contacts, or foreign financial interests on the part of Donald Trump’s family — nor should they. To the contrary, not only has the press properly treated Trump family business interests as newsworthy, they have frequently disregarded even the most minimal journalistic standards to issue breathless reports about them.

2. The government’s anti-trust case against Google, no matter its nefarious ways, is weak. From the editorial:

But is this a good suit, one that serves the country’s best interests? That is less clear, especially if the government eventually does pursue drastic measures such as a breakup.

American antitrust laws are broadly written, and the prevailing legal standards have changed over the years. The dominant and most economically sensible approach to enforcing these laws, however, remains the one that Robert Bork laid out in the 1970s: “Anticompetitive” behavior becomes a problem when it harms consumer welfare. In our view, officials should not pursue antitrust actions unless they can compellingly show a company is, in fact, harming consumers — not just that it is doing everything it can to attract consumers to its product at the expense of the competition.

Is it harmful to consumers for Google to pay other companies to feature its search engine as the default? That’s a hard case to make, because it’s generally easy for those who prefer other search engines to change the default, as Google and the alternative engines are all free and switching can be achieved in a few clicks; because these lucrative arrangements help to subsidize the devices consumers use; and because most users would probably choose Google anyhow, if its runaway success over the past two decades is any guide.

A Tsunami (Don’t Worry, Unless You Are a Lefty, It’s the Safe Kind) of Conservative Brilliance Is Ready to Wash Over You

1. Debate Reax: Victor Davis Hanson says Trump won. Bigly. From the Corner post:

There was a low bar for Joe Biden in the first debate, given his cognitive challenges. Because he exceeded that pessimism, he won momentum.

In opposite fashion, there was similarly an expectation that a disruptive Donald Trump would turn off the audience by the sort of interruptions and bullying that characterized the first debate.

He did not do that. He instead let a cocky Biden sound off, and thus more or less tie himself into knots on a host of topics, but most critically on gas and oil. So likewise Trump will gain momentum by exceeding those prognoses.

But far more importantly, the back-and-forth repartee will not matter other than Trump went toe to toe, but in a tough, dignified manner and beat Biden on points. Biden did not go blank — although he seemed to come close, often especially in the last tw0 minutes. Had the debate gone another 30 minutes, his occasional lapses could have become chronic.

What instead counts most are the days after.  The debate take-aways, the news clips, the post facto fact checks, and the soundbites to be used in ads over the next ten days all favor Trump. In this regard, Biden did poorly and will suffer continual bleeding in the swing states.

We will know that because by the weekend Biden will be out of his basement and trying to reboot his campaign and actually be forced to campaign.

So we are going to hear over the next week that Biden simply denied the factual evidence of the Hunter Biden laptop computer, the emails, the cell phones, and the testimonies from some of the relevant players as a concocted smear, a Russian disinformation attack. That denial is clearly a lie. It is absolutely unsupportable. And Biden will have to drop that false claim.

2. More Reax: Andrew McCarthy says the win will only get bigger post-debate. From the piece:

President Trump would be in much better shape right now if he’d campaigned and debated like the guy who showed up at last night’s debate. To use a boxing analogy, I think he won the match on points, but the margin gets better for him in the post-mortem. Former vice president Biden said some truly indefensible things. Starting this morning and continuing for the next ten days, Republicans will be whistling through the groove-yard of forgotten favorite video clips . . . or, better, GOP favorites that Biden would like to forget.

In fact, the president wasted no time: He had a killer montage up on Twitter before midnight.

Worst for Biden are the energy issues.

First, there is the true thing Biden said that his camp is now desperately trying to walk back or restate: He wants to get rid of fossil fuels, in particular oil. “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” he said. To put an exclamation point on it, he agreed with Trump that this “is a big statement.” Shortly after the debate, just how big this statement was began to sink in, so Biden went into damage control mode. He insisted he had just been talking about “getting rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.” But that was not true. As the several Biden and Kamala Harris statements in Trump’s tweet demonstrate, the Democratic ticket made their jihad against fossil fuels clear and unqualified, time and again.

Second, and relatedly, there is the false thing that Biden said: He claimed he had never indicated he would ban fracking. To the contrary, he has said he’d get rid of fracking several times; and Kamala Harris — before she started insisting, with a straight face, that Biden had been “very clear” that he would not ban fracking — was herself emphatic in proclaiming the dogmatic Democratic Party position: “There’s no question, I’m in favor of banning fracking.”

3. Still More Reax: Jim Geraghty sees Joe Biden as the guy who wants everything both ways. From the piece:

I do worry that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will get worse as the winter months arrive. People will spend more time indoors, increasing their close contact, and if infected, spread it to others in their household. People are going to have a tough time resisting getting together with relatives for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The good news is that your odds of surviving an infection are better than ever: “Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.”

Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed’s chief adviser, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, told ABC News this week that “It’s not a certainty, but the plan — and I feel pretty confident — should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunized in the U.S.” What’s more, “Moderna and Pfizer are likely to be the first to apply for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, possibly as soon as November or December. If a vaccine is authorized before the end of the year, Slaoui said approximately 20 to 40 million doses of it will be stockpiled and ready for distribution for a limited population.”

First doses for the most vulnerable by the end of the year, and everybody’s safe by June. The end is in sight, people. Between the improved treatments and the pace of vaccine development, we’re almost through with this thing; we just need to be smart and careful for the next few months.

But last night, Biden went well beyond any measure of reasonable wariness and declared, “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year.” As of last night, there were 70 days left in this year. That comes out to 2,857 deaths per day, every day, from now until January 1. Our daily rate of deaths has been around 1,000 — generally below it — since late August. If we lost 900 souls a day for the rest of the year, that would add up to 63,000 additional deaths.

The truth is bad enough, there’s no need for Biden to veer into the dire scaremongering. (Right now in the comments section, some regular readers are stunned that I, of all writers, could find someone else’s assessment to be fearmongering.)

4. Kyle Smith shares the revelations from William Voegli’s Claremont Review of Books essay on a very strange but informative Joe Biden interview with the Washington Post from days of yore. From the piece:

“Let me show you my favorite picture of her,” he told Kitty Kelley, holding up a picture of Neilia in a bikini. “She had the best body of any woman I ever saw. She looks better than a Playboy bunny, doesn’t she?” He also said Neilia was a conservative Republican when they met but became a Democrat and that “at first she stayed at home with the kids while I campaigned but that didn’t work out because I’d come back too tired to talk to her. I might satisfy her in bed but I didn’t have much time for anything else.” He exclaimed, “Neilia was my very best friend, my greatest ally, my sensuous lover. The longer we lived together the more we enjoyed everything from sex to sports. Most guys don’t really know what I lost because they never knew what I had. Our marriage was sensational.” He added, “I want to find a woman to adore me again.”

Another weird detail is that Biden referred to Neilia as “my beautiful millionaire wife.” Biden brings up money repeatedly: Kelley alludes to “the temptation to sell out to big business or big labor for financial help” because Biden admitted “that more than once he was tempted to compromise to get campaign money.” Biden added, “I probably would have if it hadn’t been for the ramrod character of my Scotch Presbyterian wife.” He had been in office for only eight months before he started complaining about being underpaid. “I don’t know about the rest of you but I am worth a lot more than my salary of $42,500 a year in this body. It seems to me that we should flat out tell the American people we are worth our salt,” he said on the Senate floor. ($42,500 is about $249,000 in today’s dollars. Biden was 30 when he made these remarks.) Biden’s evident belief that he deserves to be wealthy stood out in a 2008 New York Times story that explained how a man living on a public servant’s salary was able to live like a Bourbon king: “Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping,” the Times explained, and also rich businessmen filtered their support of Biden through other means: “the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home.” He sold the house he had bought in 1975 for top dollar to — get this — the vice-chairman of MBNA, who gave Biden $1.2 million for it. MBNA has showed its gratitude to Biden’s support in a number of ways: by giving over $200,000 to his various campaigns, by hiring Hunter Biden, by flying Biden and his wife to a retreat in Maine, etc. Mother Jones dubbed Biden “the senator from MBNA.”

RELATED: Find the Voegli CRB essay here (but you may need a subscription).

5. Jack Butler, travel reporter wanabe, follows John Kasich’s long trip from fiscal-conservative champion to All American blowhard. From the article:

Despite these controversies, Kasich managed to maintain a superficially strong political brand. He balanced Ohio’s budget on the backs of the state’s municipalities, and won reelection in 2014. Then, his White House ambitions cropped up again. On paper, he was a contender: the successful governor of a swing state with ample experience in public service and Midwestern roots. But for whatever reason, he chose John Weaver to mastermind his 2016 campaign. Weaver’s bailiwick has been Republican candidates whose greatest interest seems to be criticizing other Republicans. In 2012, Weaver’s candidate was former Utah governor John Huntsman Jr.; in 2016, it was Kasich. Right at the launch of Kasich’s campaign, he made hay of his reported “refusal to criticize Hillary Clinton” during the Republican primaries, and he stuck to the so-called moderate lane for the rest of the race.

To be sure, the Republican Party is a big tent; there are no rules against moderates winning primaries. But during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was rather conspicuously crowding that tent. There were confusing ideological signals coming from the left at the time; though horrified by Trump, many in the media loved the ratings boost he generated, and liberal partisans hoped he’d win the nomination, thinking him an easy opponent. Yet for all the Republicans Kasich was willing to criticize at the time, he was curiously soft on Trump. And while he avoided direct criticism of Trump in mawkish and grating performances during the primary debates, he stayed in the race to its end despite winning only his home state of Ohio.

Coincidentally, the 2016 Republican National Convention was also in Ohio. Perhaps buoyed by this fact, Kasich persisted despite pleas from Texas senator Ted Cruz, the party’s last best hope of heading off Trump, to drop out and make it a two-man race. He ended up exiting the race only after Cruz lost the Indiana primary and did the same. Back when Cruz still had a chance to win the nomination, Kasich had reportedly told the senator that he would contest the nomination all the way to the convention; instead, he didn’t even attend. He’d effectively played the spoiler candidate, preventing consolidation of the non-Trump vote behind Cruz and going back on his word in the process. When taking stock of his current prominence as a Republican opponent of Trump, one can hardly miss the irony.

6. Dan McLaughlin sloshes through the hogwash of Joe Biden’s proposed court-packing commission. From the analysis:

Even in the cosseted world of the Biden campaign — no follow-up from Wallace, no questions on Court-packing at Biden’s NBC town hall, no public appearances by Biden for days on end — this was unsustainable, so in a CBS News interview released this morning, Biden promised . . . a bipartisan commission to kick the can down the road for the first six months of his term. The commission would “come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system . . . . It’s not about Court-packing. . . . There’s a number of alternatives that are — go well beyond packing. . . . It is a live ball.”

This is a transparent dodge. Joe Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate, and eight as the vice president, and this is his third presidential campaign. He was the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, chairing it for six. He has given speeches about the dangers of Court-packing. Unless Biden’s mental state has declined worse than we think, there is not a chance in the world that he requires a commission to tell him what to think on this issue. The reality is that Biden is terrified of his radical base, and lacks the guts to take a stand in public. That bodes poorly for his presidency across the board.

7. Rich Lowry plows into the liberal conspiracy that under every lurks a Russian agent. From the column:

Hillary Clinton didn’t blow on her own a winnable election in 2016; she was undone by a Kremlin conspiracy.

Trump hasn’t said ridiculous things about Vladimir Putin because he has wildly unrealistic expectations of being able to cut a deal with him and bristles at saying whatever the media and establishment want him to say; he’s controlled by Moscow.

We aren’t a bitterly divided country, as we’ve been through much of our history; the Russians are “sowing divisions.”

And, finally, a Delaware computer repairman didn’t come into possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop through strange happenstance; it was faked and planted by the Russians.

Oddly, the Left had a relatively indulgent attitude toward Russia when it was one of the world’s two superpowers, armed to the teeth, engaged in nuclear brinkmanship with the U.S., in control of a swath of Europe, including half of Germany, and devoted to spreading revolution around the globe. But it is obsessed with Russia now that the country has a GDP smaller than Italy’s and some hackers and poorly trafficked websites spreading bad information.

This fixation drives the ridiculous magnification of small-time pro-Russia players and the belief that the Russians have a hand in nearly every significant American event.

8. The great James L. Buckley, the Apostle of Federalism, laments Congress’s abandonment of its duties as presented in the Constitution. From the essay:

So Congress has fallen into the habit of delegating ever more essentially legislative details to executive agencies that in turn produce the detailed regulations that give congressionally enacted laws their effect. In doing so, the agencies tend to resolve statutory ambiguities in ways that will meet their own objectives, which may or may not coincide with those Congress had in mind.

Over time, the effect of all of this has been the creation of an extra-constitutional administrative state that both writes and administers the rules that now govern ever wider areas of American life. Procedures are in place that are intended to subject regulations to scrutiny before they can take effect. But the administrative state can sidestep them by simply writing letters, as it did recently when it advised schools that boys must be allowed to use girls’ bathrooms if they think of themselves as girls. And the administrative state gets away with such excesses because they have become so common in current practice that Congress too rarely raises any objections.

So here we are today. Federalism is just a memory and Congress’s abdications of its own responsibilities have given us an expanding administrative state whose non-elected officials govern by regulatory fiat. As I noted in my book, an effective federalism is easily restored. All that is required is for Congress to strip the grants of federal directives telling the states how the money is to be used. This simple reform would once again allow accountable state and local officials rather than distant bureaucrats to determine how best to meet state and local needs. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far failed to follow my advice.

Restoring the Constitution’s allocation of governmental powers, however, will be a far more difficult task. Over the past generation and more, our educators have abdicated their responsibility to ground their students in the fundamentals of the American experience. As a result, far too many of our people now suffer from a peculiar form of historical amnesia.

9. Melissa Langsam Braunstein reports on the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ugly stone-busting of Orthodox Jews. From the article:

It’s clear that too much power has been ceded to Governor Cuomo. Not only have state legislators provided the governor with “nearly unchecked power,” but the media have too. Events now follow an all-too-familiar script. Consider, for example, the story surrounding the Satmar Hasidic wedding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Monday night. Governor Cuomo said something, reporters accepted it, and a negative narrative about New York’s Orthodox Jews took hold.

If you read or watch the New York Times, The Hill, New York’s NBC 4, ABC News, the Daily Beast, the Miami Herald, Britain’s Daily Mail, Australia’s Business Insider or countless other outlets, you may have heard “that upwards of 10,000 people were expected to attend” the wedding of the Grand Rebbe’s grandson. However, there are many questions that should have been asked — and indeed appear to have gone unasked — before Cuomo publicly blasted New York’s Satmar Hasidic community, and before the international media broadcast the story far and wide.

To recap, on Saturday, while Orthodox Jews were unplugged for the Sabbath, Cuomo told the media, “We received a suggestion that [an enormous wedding] was happening. We did an investigation and found that it was likely true.”

While some unquestioningly accept the governor’s remarks, I, for one, would like to know more about this investigation and the related activities.

10. Isaac Schorr sees Max Boot for the ChiCom stooge that he is. From the piece:

It is when Boot, who never much concerned himself with the plight of the unborn or pro-growth economic policies sheds his identity as a third-wave neoconservative — the one that made him relevant — that he is at his most pathetic, however. The Boot who championed an assertive American foreign policy — not only because he believed it to be practical, but because he believed it to be just — is gone, replaced by one who devotes all of his moral energy toward opposing a singular political figure. His most recent article is one of the more embarrassing examples.

“China is winning and America is losing” their respective battles with the coronavirus because the former is “following the science” while the latter is “fighting it” per Boot. And Boot has the numbers to back it up! America has had over 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 219,000 Americans have died from the novel disease — sobering statistics to be sure. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the very first country to be hit by COVID-19, reports only 91,000 total cases and, get this, 4,700 deaths, numbers that Boot is pleased to be able to parrot. That the PRC is notoriously opaque about what happens inside of it (if the Chinese told Boot no one died at Tiananmen, would he believe them?) and is presently committing a genocide against its Uyghur population is of little interest to Boot, who concedes that the numbers may not be “entirely accurate.” “But then, neither are ours” shrugs Boot, transforming into a disciple of Trump-esque “our country does plenty of killing also” moral equivalence (for an idea of just how skewed China’s self-reported numbers are, take a look at this report from Derek Scissors at the American Enterprise Institute.)

Boot quickly glosses over the PRC’s active effort to suppress news of COVID-19’s spread in such a manner that allowed it to travel worldwide, devoting only a half sentence to this before lauding it for “using tools such as lockdowns, social distancing, contact tracing, mask-wearing and isolation of patients.” I doubt that Boot would be at all pleased if Trump had adopted the more stringent practices of the CCP, such as arresting those who broke 40-day mandatory quarantines. No, in fact I’m quite sure that he would be shrieking that fascism had arrived in America.

11. Alexandra DeSanctis shares a gorgeous reflection on her dad and his influence in her life. From the piece:

Though he always worked hard, he thought it was equally important to make time for his family. He was there for nearly every one of my brother’s Little League games, and he sat through every one of my ballet recitals (although I’m told he sometimes fell asleep during the parts I wasn’t in). When he spent a few years traveling to and from Providence, Rhode Island, for business, we often went with him, staying a week at a time in a hotel as my mom homeschooled us, so we could be together as a family. He made sure that he — that we — would always prioritize the things that mattered most.

The older I get, the more I realize that my father chose to be a lawyer not out of ambition, but for us, so that we would be able to have the type of life he thought would be best for us, so we wouldn’t have to worry about having a good home, or clothes, or food. He viewed his career not as a means of personal satisfaction or glorification but as a means of providing for my brother and me the sort of education that would increase our knowledge and our ability to pursue our goals — and an education that would help us understand and internalize our Catholic faith. Though he loved history and writing, and likely would have been happy and fulfilled working as a professor, he placed his desire for our best interests above his own.

In large part because of those choices my father made, my mother was able to stay home with my brother and me, even homeschooling us for several years, which was an immense blessing that enabled me to grow in my faith from a very young age. Later, I attended a Catholic school that instilled in me a deeper understanding of what it means to be Catholic — an understanding that explains how, as an adult, I freely choose to retain and practice the faith into which I was born. That understanding informs my personal life and my work today and leads me to view my career not as a pursuit of ambition but as an answer to a call.

12. More Dan McLaughlin: He spanks the MSM flying monkeys who immediately came to the defense of Zoom-onanist Jeffrey Toobin. From the piece:

Scaachi Koul of BuzzFeed wrote a column on how “Jeffrey Toobin Can’t Be The Only Person Masturbating On Work Zoom Calls.” “I mean, who among us, you know?” she asked. Jonathan Zimmerman of the New York Daily News asked: “Why the resolute focus on this celebrity? The answer has to do with his particular transgression, of course. . . . News flash: Toobin masturbates. But I’m guessing that you do the same, dear reader. Maybe you should stop feeling weird and guilty about that. Then we can all stop making fun of Jeffrey Toobin.”

Then there were the people who just could not bear the loss of Toobin right now. His CNN colleagues Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, who glory in every foible and scandal over at Fox News, bemoaned that Toobin “has been sidelined at a pivotal moment in the run-up to the presidential election. The reason: He exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues in what he says was an accident. . . . A spokesperson for CNN said ‘Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.’. . . Ordinarily Toobin would be busy covering a controversial Supreme Court confirmation and an election that could end up being challenged on legal grounds.” While it is difficult to report fairly on a story involving your own co-workers, Stelter and Darcy could not spare even a syllable of sympathy for the women exposed to Toobin’s behavior.

13. More Andy McCarthy: He drop kicks the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats who ducked a vote on SCOTUS nominee Amy Barrett. From the piece:

The boycott was a pointless gesture because Republicans had the votes necessary to move Judge Barrett’s nomination forward. It was a radical break with democratic norms, by which we register dissent by voting nay, not by picking up our ball and going home like poorly raised children. Having crossed yet another Rubicon, Democrats will eventually learn, at some point when it really costs them (as has their eradication of the filibuster in confirmations), that what goes around comes around. And practically speaking, the boycott was self-destructive, coming only after the nominee had impressed Americans for two days with her intellect, poise, and good nature. Today, no one much missed them at a committee vote that was a foregone conclusion. Everyone, however, was watching on the two days when the Democrats deigned to show up, and Barrett reduced them to an intramural competition for coveted Ass-Clown of the Year honors.

Therein lies a telling difference between the two parties. To win, Republicans must be sound in pursuing their strategies because the media oppose them at every turn. They are thus fortunate to be led by a superb tactician, Senator Mitch McConnell. Democrats, by contrast, are cheered on by the media in pursuing their strategies, regardless of whether they are sharp or daft. They are thus spared the criticism that disciplines politicians to plan carefully.

If you’re the Democrats, and you’re willing to employ such extreme measures as boycotting hearings to try to stop Barrett, then the time to boycott is when she testifies. The point would be to prevent her from impressing the country with her temperament and legal acumen. By such a ploy, it might have been possible to delay the hearing — and delays that could defer a final vote on Barrett until after Election Day are Democrats’ only realistic shot at killing it.

14. Even More Andy: The case is made for combatting Twitter’s censorship. From the analysis:

No one sensible is claiming that Twitter’s partisan censorship is illegal. Twitter is not the government; it is a private actor. It need not enable free speech. It is perfectly free to be openly progressive in its politics, and to suppress conservative or Republican viewpoints — just as, say, The New Republic is. Twitter has not committed a legal wrong by suppressing a politically damaging story in order to help Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

But when we talk about denying Section 230 immunity, we are not talking about penalizing Twitter. Section 230 immunity is a legal privilege to be earned by compliance with the attendant conditions. If an entity fails to comply, that just means it does not get the privilege; it does not mean the entity is being denied a right or being punished.

To be a mere interactive computer service entitled to immunity from speaker/publisher liability, a platform must refrain from publishing activity — which includes suppressing one point of view while promoting its competitor. Twitter is well within its rights to censor its partisan adversaries; but in doing so, it forfeits the legal privilege that is available only to interactive computer services that do not censor on political or ideological grounds.

To analogize, think of a non-profit corporation. If the non-profit wants immunity from taxation, which is a benefit Congress has prescribed in Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, then it must refrain from supporting political candidates. If the non-profit engaged in that kind of political activism, then it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a single candidate or a steady stream of them. Refraining from all such support is the condition. If the non-profit fails to meet the condition, it has no claim on the benefit, period. That does not mean it is wrong for the non-profit to support candidates, much less that it must stop doing so or stop doing business. It just means that, by supporting a candidate, it fails to comply with the statutory condition and therefore no longer qualifies for the benefit.

15. Michael Johns exposes the Iran Lobby operating here. From the piece:

Yet there is still an American consensus on what the Iranian regime was and is. A Gallup poll released March 3 found that no country is held in as much contempt by Americans as Iran. Among those polled, an astonishing 88 percent have a “very” or “mostly” unfavorable view of the country, a negative impression exceeding even that of Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian North Korea. A 2019 poll also reflected this consensus: 93 percent of Americans designated the Iranian regime’s development of nuclear weapons as a “critical” or “important” threat, and 90 percent placed Iran’s military power as a threat rising to those same categories of urgency. It is true that Americans have reasonable differences on what to do about the Iranian regime’s threatening militancy and sponsorship of terror. But it matters that they do not disagree on the present nature of the regime itself.

Thus one might think that the possibility of the Iranian regime’s having companionable spokesmen in American politics — or, even more outrageously, having a whole Washington, D.C.-based organization with a history of echoing the regime’s positions on the most crucial components of U.S.-Iranian relations — would rightfully concern most Americans. Yet that appears to be precisely what is taking place.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) was founded in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-born dual citizen of Iran and Sweden, former employee at the Swedish mission to the United Nations, and a vocal champion of President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear agreement. Parsi has consistently diminished the magnitude of the threat of the Iranian regime while simultaneously blaming most of the Middle East’s troubles on U.S. policies in the region.

16. Daniel Mahoney scores the Wokester totalitarians on the campuses of Harvard and Middlebury. From the piece:

So where does Professor Schaub’s fault lie, according to her accuser, government major Joshua Conde? Cherry-picking passages from Schaub’s acute and sensitive analyses and offering them as though they revealed a tainted mind and soul, Conde calls her words “ignorant, and deeply concerning” if not “outright bigoted.” His principal “evidence” is a snippet from a splendid article, “America at Bat” from National Affairs (Winter 2010), which in passing laments the decline of black interest and participation in baseball, our once national sport. Writing from personal as well as common experience, Schaub notes that “the experience of things baseball is a legacy from fathers to sons (and sometimes daughters).” She then offers, in an admittedly speculative aside, her “strong hunch” that “the declining interest and involvement in baseball is a consequence of the absence of fathers in the black community,” since “80% of African-American children are raised without a father in the home.” There is nothing intrinsically “ignorant” or racist about this documented fact, nor in bringing it into the discussion, which she does with manifest regret. If it is verboten to mention such disturbing realities, then our civic and intellectual life will suffer terribly. Ignoring such facts and silencing those who bring them to bear in a relevant manner upon problems of common concern is the antithesis of healthy intellectual and civic life.

Fortunately, Harvard University has made no move to act upon Mr. Conde’s demand. Mr. Conde, a very young man (class of ’22), further demanded that Harvard abstain from hiring others “with similar unacceptable views.” This is not the voice of genuine liberalism or the search for truth. It is peremptory, coercive, and committed to closing off discussions before they begin. Mr. Conde tells us that he doesn’t want to feel “uncomfortable.” But the disinterested pursuit of truth, liberal inquiry, and civic debate itself will at times make us feel uncomfortable. That is all to the good.

Capital Matters

1. Socialism kills. Steve Hanke watches Venezuela’s state-owned oil monster circle the drain, and calls for extreme unction. From the outset of the piece:

Venezuela is in the throes of an unprecedented economic collapse. Oil, Venezuela’s lifeblood, is being mismanaged by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the country’s state-owned oil company. Faced with dwindling revenue from PDVSA, the government has relied on its central bank to finance public expenditures. To satisfy these demands, the Banco Central de Venezuela has turned on the printing presses, and, as night follows day, hyperinflation has reared its ugly head again.

In total, there have only been 62 episodes of hyperinflation in history. Venezuela, along with Lebanon, is one of only two countries currently experiencing hyperinflation. Today, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is 2,275 percent per year, the highest in the world.

How could this be? After all, Venezuela has the largest proven crude-oil reserves in the world. At 303.81 billion barrels, they are larger even than Saudi Arabia’s, which stand at 258.6 billion barrels. Considering the extent of the country’s resources, it might strike most people as surprising that Venezuela’s hyperinflation is linked to the mismanagement of PDVSA, a state-owned enterprise (SOE). But PDVSA dominates the Venezuelan economy and accounts for 99 percent of Venezuela’s foreign-exchange earnings. In a sense, PDVSA is the Venezuelan economy, and even by SOE standards, the company is grossly mismanaged.

2. Arthur Herman argues there is a national-security crisis looming over that essential item, the semiconductor. From the article:

Thirty years ago more than one third of all microchips made around the world came out of the American companies that gave Silicon Valley its name (silicon being the key ingredient in manufacturing microchips containing billions of microscopic transistors). Today that number has slipped to only 12 percent — while China is projected to dominate global semiconductor production by 2030. Americans still lead in terms of semiconductor design and innovation. But from the standpoint of making sure the chips we rely on every day, including our Defense Department, are made safely and securely, our national security and economic future hangs in the balance.

Fortunately, there’s a bill pending in the Senate, cosponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Mark Warner (D., Va.) that addresses some of these concerns for restoring American leadership. Dubbed the CHIPS for America Act, the bill provides an income-tax credit for semiconductor equipment or chip-manufacturing-facility (fab) investment through 2026. The bill also calls for creation of a “Manufacturing USA” institute for semiconductor manufacturing as well as a national semiconductor strategy.

But much more needs to be done. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group and the Semiconductor Industry Association calls for funding up to 19 new fabs over the next decade (right now we have 70). The association would like to see a $50 billion federal investment which it forecasts will create more than 70,000 high-paying jobs and would position the U.S. to capture a quarter of the world’s growing chip production — compared to just 6 percent if Washington does nothing.

3. Biden’s tax plan, says Kevin Williamson, is swill. From the piece:

Who actually ends up paying business taxes is a hot topic in economics, and it gets pretty complicated pretty quickly. To take one example, most economists agree that at least some of the payroll taxes that are in theory paid by employers end up being paid by employees, whose wages are reduced in order to offset the expense of the tax. Inevitably, that kind of cost-shifting falls most heavily upon low-wage employees, who, by definition, have relatively little power in the market. (That’s why they don’t get paid very much.) That’s not the case for, say, LeBron James or a top-flight AI nerd coming out of Stanford.

Just as individual employees may have more or less ability to resist efforts at passing tax costs along to them, so do companies. Many people assume that businesses simply raise prices to pass tax costs along to consumers, but that’s not really true: Businesses such as Walmart and McDonald’s have very price-sensitive customers, and if they raise their prices those customers will go somewhere else. Rolex and Tesla probably can raise their prices pretty easily, as can utility companies and, in many American cities and suburbs, landlords. Starbucks and Costco can’t.

Consumers are not the only parties to whom businesses can pass on their costs. Many businesses do that with their employees, as noted above, but they also do it with other businesses. Walmart may not be able to increase what it charges consumers for laundry detergent and flip-flops, but it can probably decrease what it pays its vendors for laundry detergent and flip-flops, or alter the terms of payment in ways that suit its interests. Because so many companies rely on Walmart for a very large share of their sales, the big retailer has shown itself willing and able to slap around some blue-chip corporate household names. The same is true of Amazon. And when those firms end up having to pay Walmart’s taxes, they do the same thing Walmart does — they look for someone to whom they can pass along the expense: workers, customers, and other businesses. And so it goes, on and on.

4. Paul Krugman is the gift that keeps on giving. Casey Mulligan reviews a summer of lefty fish-mongering. From the commentary:

Throughout the summer of 2020, Professor Krugman opined on the consequences of renewing in-person schooling. I found that remote learning in the U.S. has an opportunity cost of $1.6 billion per school day because pupils learn more effectively in person. While still in the realm of obvious economic results, Krugman agreed that “nobody knows . . . how we can educate America’s children without normal schooling.” Nevertheless, his amateur and partisan theory of disease trumped that assessment. He advised his five million followers that reopening school this fall would “be a complete disaster” that “would kill thousands” as it “disastrously reinforc[ed] the pandemic.”

Israel had an outbreak early in the summer that coincided with its reopening schools. In his opinion, that by itself justified withholding hundreds of billions of dollars of human capital from America’s children. (He showed his followers the series for Israeli cases through August 1, rather than the less alarming trend for deaths). Never mind that Sweden had not even closed schools in the spring, while several other countries reopened (without second waves) before the end of June. Never mind that already in June the American Academy of Pediatrics saw “a much smaller role in driving the spread of the disease than we would expect.” Never mind the promising results from summer camps and daycare centers here at home.

Many schools did in fact dare to open. The Mulligan children were enrolled in a couple of them, which were able to deliver thousands of pupil-days of in-person schooling without a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among students, faculty, or staff. Using a larger dataset, Brown University professor Emily Oster found that “schools aren’t super-spreaders . . . fears from the summer appear to have been overblown.” Krugman had no business stoking those fears with an improbable scenario from outside his expertise, when he knew that the human-capital costs to children of e-learning were enormous and guaranteed.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Armond White swigs the cloying cocktail that is Sophia Coppola’s On the Rocks. A spit take ensues. From the beginning of the review:

Sofia Coppola’s best film, 1989’s Life Without Zoe, was also Francis Ford Coppola’s loveliest trifle, an emotionally buoyant anecdote featuring ecstatic visual elegance (as shot by Vittorio Storaro). That court métrage (short film) was a studio-financed daughter–father collaboration — Coppola père directed, Coppola fille wrote the screenplay — in which a wealthy artist’s only child bestows her noblesse oblige across a glitzy, post-Reagan-era New York City and around the world. The simple plot about an haute-couture schoolgirl (Fieldston private school, of course) who not only solves an international crisis but also saves her parents’ marriage was a fairy-tale distillation of all of Sofia Coppola’s leisure-class concerns. Her new feature film, On the Rocks, is, essentially, a remake of Life Without Zoe.

The similarities of Life Without Zoe and On the Rocks prove that Sofia’s sensibilities have not changed from adolescence to drinking age: Laura (Rashida Jones) is a successful writer and a mother of two daughters, ensconced in a luxurious SoHo loft with an ad-executive husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans). She goes on cocktail-fueled adventures with her father, Felix (Bill Murray), an affluent gallery owner, who urges Laura to spy on, then inadvertently reconcile with, her workaholic sexy spouse. Sexy, because that’s consistent with Sofia’s Sleeping Beauty–Prince Charming fantasy life

If there’s anybody who confirms the essentially bourgeois nature of filmmaking, it’s Sofia Coppola. She has become the icon of contemporary women in cinema ever since her breakout film Lost in Translation (made ten years after Life Without Zoe), thanks to the media’s class bias — middle-class critics who over-empathize with the lifestyle dilemmas of the rich and famous. Lost in Translation presented a meandering American screwball-comedy triangle in which the third-party husband was mostly off-screen while the heroine and a father figure flirted through fashionable alienation in Japan. It was a bourgeois bonanza for privileged feminists, even though it’s always difficult to tell exactly how “feminist” Sofia is when the oppression felt by her heroines is mostly in their heads.

2. Kyle Smith rediscovers Topsy-Turvy. From the beginning of the review:

A bluff, domineering Victorian fellow pronounces the words in a humorless, matter-of-fact tone, as though dictating a legal filing: “If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Japan.” The moment marks a painfully achieved breakthrough halfway through Mike Leigh’s delightful 1999 film Topsy-Turvy, the story of a project — The Mikado — that was not merely a hit but earned a place among the minuscule proportion of hits that endured across the centuries. One hundred and thirty-five years after its debut, Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved collaboration, the one that begins with those gentlemen of Japan introducing themselves, remains a very model of the modern musical theater and is still widely performed today.

Or it would be, if there were much performing going on in the Anglosphere, which is why Topsy-Turvy makes for especially poignant viewing today. (You can watch it free, with minimal commercial interruption, on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.)

The author of The Mikado’s libretto, William Schwenck Gilbert — incomparably portrayed by the brilliant character actor Jim Broadbent in his greatest performance — is, at the outset of the movie, huffing about a lightly damning review of his latest “opera” (today usually called an “operetta”), Princess Ida, which was later more or less forgotten. The reviewer notes that Princess Ida is pleasant enough but “words and music alike reveal symptoms of fatigue in their respective composer and author.” The critic correctly identifies a rut of predictability into which Gilbert has fallen — his topsy-turvy reliance on absurdly contrived, high-concept twists. Later in the film, when Gilbert explains to his partner, composer Arthur Sullivan (a recessive Allan Corduner) that the premise for his next work is a magic potion that transforms the person who takes it into whoever he or she is pretending to be, Sullivan scoffs, “You and your world of Topsy-Turvydom! In 1881 it was a magic coin. And before that, it was a magic lozenge. And in 1877 it was an elixir.” Pause. Gilbert: “In this instance, it is a magic potion.”

3. More Kyle: He likes American Utopia. From the beginning of the review:

David Byrne meets Spike Lee? The combination of talents sounded surprising when the director signed on to craft a television adaptation of the rock singer’s Broadway concert David Byrne’s American Utopia, which just debuted on HBO. Art rocker meets rock-thrower? Whimsy holds hand with rage, and the two go skipping down the street together? I couldn’t picture it.

But Lee turns out to be a fine choice to direct American Utopia: Putting cameras everywhere (including overhead, backstage, and in the wings) and zipping them around, he successfully avoids the trapped-in-a-box feeling of most TV versions of stage shows. Lee’s energetic camera work complements Byrne’s famous nervy, jerky kineticism as the singer leads a troupe of eleven singer-dancer-musicians through a roundup of songs from Byrne’s latest album American Utopia plus a few of his 1980s classics with Talking Heads. For a while, the show is such kooky bliss that it proves a worthy successor to the greatest rock concert film ever, Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense (1984), which like this film begins with Byrne awkwardly alone on a stage that gradually fills up, then overflows, with musicians and music. The effect is unconstrained friskiness, like a wading pool full of puppies. Byrne and Co. — all of them barefoot in matching gray suits with buttoned-down shirts beneath — carry with them cordless instruments that allow them to march, circle, sway, and shimmy in an ecstatically dorky array of moves choreographed by Annie-B Parson, who channels the nerd appeal of Talking Heads in the earlier film.

4. Even More Kyle: Borat gets drilled — in a Borat-y kind of way — for “comedy” that punches down. From the commentary:

Comedy make fun usually mean “punching up” but punching down more fun when you’re Borat-ing. Make ordinary people make foolish by being nice! I ask cake-shop lady write, “Jews will not replace us” on big cake and make smiley faces too! Cake-shop lady do whatever she being told! Maybe cake-shop lady afraid of being sued for denying of service and winding up to Supreme Court, who are knowing? America very stupid, doing whatever wacky foreigner be asking to them. I go to copying shop sending wacky facsimiles to boss of Kazhakstan too. My “daughter” ask Christian ladies can they be driving cars then ask them be dropping panties to touch Virginia! Make merry, America! Then I going synagoguery disguised as Jew with fake foot-long nose and big bag marked “$” to tell some Jews, “Use your venom on me!” and tell Holocaust survivor there was no Holocaustery! Yet Jew woman being so nice to me anyway! You are not being in on the joke? I being such comedy genius I not being sure what joke is myself! Also not for getting the joke when I cough on Forrest the Gump! Me coughing on beloved senior person Tom Hanks, such weirdness, right?

El Rushbo

The great friend of this institution and conservatism, battling Stage 4 cancer, discussed his health this week. From the show transcript:

In a nutshell, there are lots of ups and downs in this particular illness. And it can feel like a roller coaster at times that you can’t get off of. And again, I want to stress here that I know countless numbers of you are experiencing the same thing. If it isn’t lung cancer, it’s some kind of cancer. If it isn’t you, it’s somebody really close to you. If it isn’t an illness, it’s something. We’re all going through challenges. Mine are no better and mine are no different and mine are no more special than anybody else. But it can feel like a roller coaster. . . .

You know, all in all, I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible — and it’s still true.

You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment.

And every day, thus, results in me feeling more and more blessed. Hearing from you, knowing that you’re out there praying and everything else you’re doing, that is a blessing. It’s just a series of blessings. And I am grateful to be able to come here to the studio, tell you about it, and really maintain as much normalcy as I can.

I know a lot of you out there are going through your own challenges, whether it’s cancer or another medical illness or some other life challenge. Maybe even in the hospital right now. Someone told me — I think this is good advice, may be helpful — the only thing that any of us are certain of is right now, today. That’s why I thank God every morning when I wake up.

I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. Commentary turns 75. In the anniversary issue, John Podhoretz and his splendid old man, Norman, discuss what it has meant to be editors at this important bastion. From the piece:

JOHN: Let’s talk about one of the most important articles the magazine ever published, “Jewish Faith and the Holocaust: A Fragment,” by Emil Fackenheim — which has, over time, become one of the key statements about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.

NORMAN: Emil Fackenheim was a very nice man, and he was easy to work with. He knew that his English was not perfect, and he was happy to be improved upon.

JOHN: What was important in the article was its statement of principle that the key requirement for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust was for Jewry to survive. Jews, it says, are forbidden to grant posthumous victories to Hitler. I’m bringing this up because, if I remember correctly, Fackenheim didn’t write that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: You wrote that.

NORMAN: That’s right.

JOHN: So this is the ultimate editor’s triumph and tragedy. I think this formulation will be quoted 250 years from now when people write about Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust. Emil Fackenheim will be immortally associated with this paragraph — he is now already — and he didn’t write it, you wrote it.

NORMAN: But I wrote it on the basis of what he was trying to say. The idea, and calling it the 614th commandment, he hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but he was very happy with it, because that’s exactly what he wanted to say. I’m perfectly happy to have him get credit. I mean they were his ideas, not mine.

JOHN: But it gives you a sense of what an editor does, both at his best, and then also what this selflessness or humility that you mention as a key quality ultimately requires.

2. At City Journal, John Tierney explores the failure of lockdowns. From the analysis:

While the economic and social costs have been enormous, it’s not clear that the lockdowns have brought significant health benefits beyond what was achieved by people’s voluntary social distancing and other actions. Some researchers have credited lockdowns with slowing the pandemic, but they’ve relied on mathematical models with assumptions about people’s behavior and the virus’s tendency to spread — the kinds of models and assumptions that previously produced wild overestimates of how many people would die during the pandemic. Other researchers have sought more direct evidence, looking at mortality patterns. They have detected little impact.

In a comparison of 50 countries, a team led by Rabail Chaudhry of the University of Toronto found that Covid was deadlier in places with older populations and higher rates of obesity, but the mortality rate was no lower in countries that closed their borders or enforced full lockdowns. After analyzing 23 countries and 25 U.S. states with widely varying policies, Andrew Atkeson of UCLA and fellow economists found that the mortality trend was similar everywhere once the disease took hold: the number of daily deaths rose rapidly for 20 to 30 days, and then fell rapidly.

Similar conclusions were reached in analyses of Covid deaths in Europe. By studying the time lag between infection and death, Simon Wood of the University of Edinburgh concluded that infections in Britain were already declining before the nation’s lockdown began in late March. In an analysis of Germany’s 412 counties, Thomas Wieland of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology found that infections were waning in most of the country before the national lockdown began and that the additional curfews imposed in Bavaria and other states had no effect.

Wieland hasn’t published any work on New York City’s pandemic, but he says that the city’s trend looks similar to Germany’s. If, as some studies have shown, a Covid death typically occurs between 21 days and 26 days after infection, the peak of infections would have occurred at least three weeks prior to the peak in deaths on April 7. That would mean that infections in the city had already begun to decline by March 17 — three days before Cuomo announced the lockdown and five days before it took effect.

3. At The Imaginative Conservative, the great and dear Onalee McGraw believes a little consideration of Mr. Jefferson Smith would help rebuild America’s moral community. From the beginning of the essay:

Director Frank Capra seemed to possess an unfailing instinct to make films that speak to what is universal and timeless in human experience. In Mr. Smith Capra dramatizes the concept of the “Common Good” — the idea that standards of truth and goodness transcend the personal desires and emotions of solitary individuals. Our care and dedication to the “Common Good” makes us a part of something greater than ourselves. When Jimmy Stewart as Senator Jeff Smith reminds his fellow Senators, “There’s no compromise with truth,” his words transcend partisan political battles.

The struggle between good and evil in the United States Senate that Capra depicts in Mr. Smith is clearly understood by viewers across the political spectrum as reflecting timeless truths about citizenship and living together in a free society. Even in the fractured public square we inhabit today, members of opposing political tribes can recognize our common humanity in the heroic and humble character Jimmy Stewart portrays.

Mr. Smith premiered in October, 1939, a few weeks after World War II had broken out in Europe. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st and two days later, England and France declared war on Germany. As Frank Capra said in his autobiography, The Name Above the Title: “The speed and light of Hitler’s blitzkrieg terrified the free world.”

Although Stewart did not receive the Academy Award that year for Best Actor, his performance was so compelling that the newspapers devoted more space to him than to the winner. Eighty years later, Jimmy Stewart as Jeff Smith continues to symbolize the qualities of leadership and the civic virtues that are essential to the survival of a free society.

4. More TIC: Brad “Double B” Birzer approves of the idea of declaring October “Russell Kirk Month.” From the beginning of his essay:

Alan Cornett has proclaimed October to be “Russell Kirk Month.” I’m not sure that Kirk would approve, but I do. Other special interests get special months. Why shouldn’t the Kirkites and Kirkians get one? After all, imagine (yes, “imagine” is the right word when writing about Kirk) how much good a month of studying Russell Kirk could do with America’s school children. October 1, The Conservative Mind. October 4, Prospects for Conservatives. October 12, Roots of American Order. October 18, The Conservative Constitution. October 24, Old House of Fear. The month would conclude with everyone’s favorite Feast of St. Wolfgang, October 31, and a public reading of “There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding.” I can just hear the dinner table conversations now. “Daddy, we learned about Clinton Wallace today.” “Well, Sally, that’s just fine. Fine, indeed.” And all of America’s public educators would rejoice.

Silliness aside, I’m hugely in favor of Mr. Cornett’s proposal. October is Kirk’s birth month, and Halloween was the highest holy day in his personal life. What better month exists for Kirk’s twilight struggle against the darkness?

Russell Amos Augustine Kirk (1918-1994) is one of America’s foremost and most important thinkers, especially in the desiccated and mutilated 20th century, an era and an age of horrific inhumanities and incessant blood-letting. Kirk stood for a more humane age, an age that valued the dignity and uniqueness of each human person, an age that unabashedly sought the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Kirk should not only be remembered; he should have also never have been forgotten.

5. Even More TIC: Joseph Pearce lays into the arrogant imperialism of the European Union. From the piece:

Berthold Löffler, a political science professor at the University of Ravensburg-Weingarten in Germany, in an interview for the SuedKurier website, spoke of a mindset prevalent among EU politicians from Western Europe towards the people and politicians of central and eastern Europe: “Most Western European politicians feel morally superior to Eastern Europeans and consider Eastern European culture to be backward. They therefore feel entitled to unilaterally define the common values. And they expect Eastern Europe to submit without protest. However, this expectation has met with rejection in Eastern Europe.”

Dr. Löffler, who studied political science and Eastern European history in Tübingen, southwestern Germany, and in the Polish capital Warsaw, said that “from an Eastern European point of view, the EU is a community of values, but the question is who’s supposed to define these values.” Considered an expert on the politics of central and eastern Europe, Dr. Löffler asserted that Eastern Europeans “want to live in their nation states in the future” and argued that Eastern European nations “did not join the EU to swap Moscow’s dominance for lecturing from Brussels.” Having experienced Soviet socialist imperialism, they were not willing to surrender their sovereignty to the new imperialists in Brussels. “This is understandable given their history,” Dr. Löffler added. “These countries have won their independence with great effort and are proud of it.”

Dr. Löffler argued that “the Eastern European approach is fully justified by the ideas of the founding fathers of a united Europe… who referred to the common European roots of Christianity and to the idea of a Europe of homelands, with which the current concept of the EU stands in contradiction.” He then added that “Eastern Europeans see themselves as heirs to the over thousand-year-old common European history.” The problem was that a “sense of moral superiority” prevents “know-it-all” Western Europeans “from seeing that the Eastern European ideas of what Europe is supposed to be are no less legitimate than the Western ideas.” On the contrary, “it may well be that it is Slovakia and Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia that represent the true spirit of Europe.”

6. At The College Fix, Greg Piper reports on a federal judge handing Johnson and Wales University the short end of a due-process lawsuit. From the article:

Last year Johnson & Wales University failed to knock down a due process lawsuit by a student accused of sexual assault that said the Rhode Island school put him through an anti-male Title IX kangaroo court.

Eleven months later, the parties have settled, according to a “stipulation of dismissal with prejudice” filed Tuesday. The docket shows “John Doe” and JWU had a settled conference Sept. 3. As is typical in settlements, the terms were not disclosed.

U.S. District Judge Mary McElroy rejected the private university’s motion for summary judgment just before Thanksgiving last year. That followed an extremely unusual bench ruling against Johnson & Wales a year and a half earlier, where a different judge said “I can’t for the life of me find any other explanation” than anti-male bias for John’s guilty finding.

While narrowing John’s grounds for the lawsuit, McElroy concluded that a “reasonable juror could decide that it is not ‘fair’ to require a student who knows little or nothing to figure out what s/he does not know in order to ask productive questions.”

7. At Gatestone Institute, Guy Millière writes about the death of free speech in France. From the article:

On September 23, two days before Mehmood’s attack, an article purporting to defend freedom of speech was published in France by 90 newspapers. The article said that “women and men of our country have been murdered by fanatics, because of their opinions… we must join forces,” it added, “to drive away fear and make our indestructible love of freedom triumph”. The article seemed deliberately vague. It did not mention who the murderers were or what might have motivated them.

The day after the attack, several commentators counseled that in France, the love of freedom was not indestructible. They prescribed self-censorship and ventured — unfortunately “blaming the victim” — that those who had decided to republish the cartoons were the ones responsible for the attack. “When you repost cartoons”, Anne Giudicelli, a journalist, said on television, “you play into the hands of these organizations. By not saying certain things, you reduce the risks.”

“When you shock a person”, TV host Cyril Hanouna ventured, “you have to stop. Charlie Hebdo drawings pour oil on the fire”.

The persistence of Islamic danger was not mentioned, except by the journalist Éric Zemmour. Ironically, on the day of the attack, Zemmour was sentenced to a heavy fine (10,000 euros, nearly $12,000) for remarks on Islam in September 2019. He had said at the time that “Muslim foreign enclaves” exist in France. They do. At least 750 of them. He also noted that attacks in the name of Islam have not disappeared and seem likely to increase. The French justice system decided to regard these words as “incitement to hatred”.

After the cleaver attack, no one requested tightening controls on asylum seekers, except, again, Zemmour. He said that “the uncontrolled presence of unaccompanied minors on the French territory is a very serious problem” and that “we must no longer welcome unaccompanied minors in France as long as drastic controls are not put in place”. He recalled that many self-proclaimed unaccompanied minors lie about their age, commit crimes, and turn out to be “thieves and assassins”.

8. At The American Conservative, Brian Anderson reports on the corruption of Biden Inc. From the piece:

Unfortunately, this is a play we’ve seen before. The Bidens have been doing this shady work, and ‘exiting’ from it when convenient, for a very long time.

In 2001, fresh off a plum job in the Clinton administration, Hunter Biden was named founding partner at Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLP. The lobbying firm — on whose website Biden touted his status “a presidential appointee” of Bill Clinton — quickly took on a scattershot of clients ranging from hospitals to universities and, according to Delaware’s News Journal, was known for “specializing in the sort of earmarks doled out by Sen. [Joe] Biden.”

Hunter Biden would go on to personally shape appropriations bills on behalf of clients, and in a short period donate more than $35,000 to federal candidates, including $10,000 to his father’s colleagues who were members of the appropriations committees at the time he was lobbying them.

And it was no secret why Hunter Biden’s first client chose him: Napster, the file-sharing service, was facing a barrage of attacks from Congress — a fight in which his father was expected to play a major role. Joe Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, two powerful entities with unique interests in copyright laws that Napster was under fire for flouting.

The company tapped Manus Cooney and Karen Robb to lead its lobbying efforts . . . alongside, strangely, Hunter Biden.

Whereas Cooney and Robb had extensive experience — serving as the judiciary committee’s most recent chief counsel (including during Napster’s appearance before it two months earlier) and as a staff director, respectively — the younger Biden’s only qualification appeared to be his biological tie to the committee’s former chairman. Just one month after Hunter Biden registered to lobby for Napster on the issue of “compulsory licensing,” the service’s chief executive officer appeared before the judiciary committee, of which Joe Biden was a member, and called on members “to provide a compulsory license for the transmission of music over the Internet.”


The Chicago White Sox suffered through a dreary second-division existence for the three decades following the infamous 1919 World Series scandals, but come 1951, and through the late 1960s, the “Pale Hose” proved to be one of the American Leagues best teams, always chasing the Yankees, and even claiming a pennant, in 1959.

They came close again in 1967, the year of a tense and historic down-to-the-wire race between the Sox, Red and White, the Tigers, and the Twins, the latter two finishing tied for second, a game behind Boston.

Chicago had held onto first place for much of the season: from June 11 to August 12 they led the AL, despite the team having an anemic .225 BA (not a single starter hit over .241!) — but then you can get away with that when your pitching staff records an ERA of 2.45 (the league’s second-best staff, the Twins, gave up 103 more earned runs that the White Sox).

Still, it was not enough to prevail, although it came close. On September 23rd, with seven games left in the season, the White Sox beat up the Indians, 8-0, to put themselves one tiny game out of first — but still in fourth place. They’d prevail again the next day, but it ended with the Sox still a game out, although now in third place.

And then the bottom fell out. Heading to Kansas City to take on the last-place Athletics, Chicago dropped a doubleheader, losing 5-2 in the opener and then dropping the second game 4-0, courtesy of a Catfish Hunter three-hitter.

Still holding a chance, the White Sox bats stayed quite when they returned home for the season-ending three-game series with the lowly, sub-.500 Senators. Skunked 1-0 in the first game on a four-hitter tossed by the Senators Phil Ortega, they could only amass five hits, and again, no runs, the next day, losing 4-0, this time to the left hand of Frank Bertaina. So died their hopes (the Sox closed out the season the next day with a 4-3 loss).

The point of this all was not to bring White Sox fans down a dismal memory lane, but to recall three pitchers from that team which, for that year, had a terrific collection of hurlers, including Gary Peters, who went 16-11 with a 2.28 ERA, and Joe Horlen, who went 19-7 while leading the league with a 2.06 ERA (plus he no-hit the Tigers on September 17th).

But the trio of interest are other guys, pitchers who remind one of endurance, a welcome thing in a game marked today marker by pitch counts: They were Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Tommy John. In 1967, Wood and John were both in the earlier part of their careers. John, who first started pitching in 1963, for the Indians, still had 22 years more to go after the White Sox’s almost-pennant. He would appear in 760 games over his 26 seasons, starting 700 of them, his rebuilt arm compiling a 288-231 record. Wood played for “only” 17 seasons, the first 11 as a reliever, and in three seasons (1968-70) the bullpen ace led AL pitchers in games (88, 76, and 77 respectively). The following season, the southpaw knuckleballer switched to starting (he would only appear in relief 10 more times in his career), and began a four-year string of 20 or more victories. In four consecutive seasons he led the league in games started, in two of those seasons in innings pitched.

In 1972, he started 25 games . . . on two days of rest — a thing unimaginable today.

And finally we come to Wilhelm. The Purple Heart-awarded WW2 vet as an MLB rookie in 1952 (he had first pitched in the minors in 1942) at the ripe age of 29. Come 1967, now 44 and wearing the White Sox uniform, he pitched in 49 games for Chicago, earning 12 saves, an 8-3 record, and a 1.31 ERA. He would still be pitching five years later, ending his storied 21-year career with the Dodgers, two weeks shy of his 50th birthday.

The trio played together in Chicago for one more season before Wilhelm was traded to the Angels after 1968. And that, as they say, is that.

A Dios

There is a little girl, half-a-year-or-so old, named Francesca, who’s pretty as a peach, her face the scene of a thousand-watt smile, but behind it, amok in her brain, is a terrible cancer. The sweet pea is undergoing chemotherapy. We have used this WJ locus before to seek prayers from those who pray, or those who need a reason to reacquire the practice, and today seek such on her behalf. This is a gut-wrenching fight for Francesca and her family, as it would be for any child and any family. One could weep for them, to know of their torments and anxieties. But let us not forget that God answers our prayers. True, maybe not always in the way we mortals desire. But then He cannot answer what is not asked, no? So, to friends Catholic, those who have not abandoned the faith yet despite the herculean efforts of Pope Francis (sorry, couldn’t help it), you are asked to pray for Francesca and her family, for a cure, for comfort, for strength. If you are open to the intercession of one who has gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, the request further asks that you please consider Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus — yes, that group so vilified by Kamala Harris. (Father McGivney will be beatified next weekend in Hartford, CT. For those not of the Roman faith, well, that means Next Stop, Sainthood.) Your Humble Author cannot help but think his soul, surely closely located to the Divine Decision-Making Authority, will amplify all prayerful petitions said on behalf of Francesca. But that said, the prayers of all people from all faiths, regardless of which side of the Tiber your soul calls home, are needed and appreciated (as is your tolerance of This Author’s serial sectarian emphases).

God’s Blessings on the Little Ones, as We All Are to Him Who Made Us,

Jack Fowler, who will share too your prayer requests if sent to


The Latest