The Weekend Jolt

National Review

Why We Fight

Dear Weekend Jolter,

There is this weekly podcast, co-hosted by Your Humble Correspondent, starring and named after Professor Hanson, and in the latest episode the eminent historian reflects on American generals — some great, some not so great, and even one traitorous. The co-host found VDH’s thoughts about the great martial qualities of General George S. Patton to be especially convincing — as was everything else said in the program. Listen and learn here.

For whatever reason, this set Your Distracted Emailer to revisit Frank Capra’s famous WW2 documentary / propaganda series, Why We Fight.

The series title bears on the present, in particular on NR’s ongoing Summer Webathon — dubbed in various versions of “Cancel the Cancelers.” As you know, we are engaged in the culture war of our lives. As you know, NR is on its front lines waging hand-to-hand combat. As you deserve to know: Why we fight. First allow this to be contended: That because we fight on various and numerous behalfs — ours, that of our principles, of our country, of our liberties, and yours — it merits us asking for your financial support, asked without believing you have an iota or shellcasing of obligation.

Second, allow this to be shared: Since this effort commenced on July 23rd, nearly 1,100 NRO readers — God love every one of them — have pitched with dinero, from $5 to $5,000. We hope that in addition, two times those supporters will join the ranks of the generous. As for the present: Our goal is seeing $250,000 raised. We are far from it. And even if reached, the books show we need twice as much (and then some).

Reaching the objective — and all that it has been established for — won’t happen without you. We argue: It should. As in: You should. For this too is your cause. This too is your fight.

Now, why do we fight? Here’s Rich Lowry’s call to arms. And that of Alexandra De Sanctis (it’s a wonderful smackdown of Andrew Cuomo). And there’s plenty more here (such as David Harsanyi’s explanation of NR’s critical role in defending the defending the Second Amendment). In summary: We fight to stop these progressive Marxist hacks — aided and abetted by a let-fly the-freak-flag media — from destroying the more-perfecting Great American Experiment, for dislocating the unum from e pluribus.

We ask nicely: Please become a donor (you can lend your support here). And we ask this too: Do you disagree with Paul C.? Earlier this week, this average / typical NR subscriber kindly gave NR $100 and explained why: “Can’t watch from the sidelines any more. This is in my streets, it’s at my office, it’s at my kids’ schools. . . . Cancel the madness.”

If you’re on the sidelines, get off. Do that by helping NR cancel the madness. Be part of why we fight.

Now all that said, if you want a pre-battle pep talk, do yourself a favor and read General Patton’s speech to the Third Army.

Editorials

1. The President’s tweeting about delaying elections was an all-around shockingly bad thing. From the editorial:

Trump obviously doesn’t have the power to delay the election. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fix the date of the election, and since 1845, it’s been the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is such an ingrained tradition that it is part of the warp and woof of American democracy.

It is a tribute to our commitment to self-government that elections have occurred as scheduled on this day during the worst crises of American history — when federal troops were in the field against rebel troops who sought to destroy the nation, when the unemployment rate was 25 percent, when U.S. forces were engaged in an epic struggle to save the West from the depredations of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Trump doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care. It is another indication of how little he’s let the institution of the presidency shape him, and how selfishly he approaches his duties.

2. It would be hard to get to the left of Joe Biden’s race- and gender-soaked political agenda. From the editorial:

The further one gets into these proposals, the clearer it becomes that the left-wing radicals who were supposedly defeated by Biden in the primary are actually writing them. The euphemisms and acronyms in Biden’s plans, in Orwell’s words, “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up the details.” For example, Biden pledges to require insurers to cover “gender confirmation surgery.” He pledges to ban “conversion therapy” — did we miss the federal government becoming the primary regulator of therapists?

The intense focus on categorizing people by race, channeling government benefits along explicit racial lines, and constructing new federal bureaucracies to obsess about race is numbing. Biden would “ensure all small business relief efforts are specifically designed to aid businesses owned by Black and Brown people,” “require publicly traded companies to disclose data on the racial and gender composition of their corporate boards,” and “establish an Equity Commission” to “focus on the unique jurisdictional and regulatory barriers that Black, Brown, and Native farmers, ranchers, and fishers must negotiate and make sure that processes are streamlined and simplified to promote new and beginning farming and ranching operations by Black and Brown farmers.”

You might think the Federal Reserve exists mainly to ensure sound money and a stable banking system; Biden proposes that “the Fed should aggressively enhance its surveillance and targeting of persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages, and wealth.” A government that puts “racial” and “surveillance” in the same job description for an unelected body should be viewed with alarm.

Voila Capital Matters

In cooperation with National Review Institute, we have launched an important new section called “Capital Matters.” The great Andrew Stuttaford, long known to NR readers, will be its Editor (he’s also writing a daily column, The Capital Note, with Daniel Tenreiro), and the as-great Kevin Hassett, who served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors (never mind that prior to that he wrote regularly for NR for two decades), and who is Capital Matters’ Senior Advisor.

Bookmark the section (here’s the link) And try catching Rich Lowry’s kick-off Zoomcast (along with Andrew, Ramesh Ponnuru, the Kevins — Hassett and Williamson — and NRI President Peter Travers) right here. And while we’re at it, to give you a taste of the big enchilada, let’s share some Capital Matters samplings. It’s all really terrific stuff.

1. David Bahnsen calls for a stimulus that truly stimulates. From the piece:

If we are going to get an expensive stimulus/relief bill, it seems desirable that it should be structured in a way that most effectively aids those struggling their way through the current crisis while facilitating economic growth. Direct payments to taxpayers, indiscriminate and untargeted, offer little in the way of “multiplier effect” to economic growth, and provide as much support to those not suffering as to those who are suffering. However much the total stimulus bill ends up costing, too much of what’s spent will be direct payments, substantially diluting the ability of the package to assist in securing the objectives I list above.

By contrast, the PPP program has been shown to deliver the sort of multiplier effect we should be looking for. PPP’s implementation was controversial in that a minuscule percentage of the total committed dollars may have initially gone to certain companies that provided media fodder for outrage and critique (e.g., large companies, public companies, name-brand companies, etc.). But at the end of the day, the PPP program successfully distributed hundreds of billions of dollars in just weeks to millions of U.S. businesses with a goal of keeping people on payrolls. Where there were deficiencies (too narrow a window to spend the funds, too high a percentage to be used for payroll, etc.), they were adjusted and corrected in subsequent amendments to the legislation. An extended PPP for companies that had already been given one bite of the apple would be a good idea under select conditions. While current talks are centering on the size of the company and the revenue hit it has taken, a more targeted and efficient PPP 2.0 would do the following:

First, reserve eligibility for businesses that can establish a clear and government-created impediment to their business. Restaurants and fitness centers that were ordered to shut down are pretty good examples. The distinction here is that general distress from the pandemic can indirectly be rationalized by every business (or nonprofit). But where there was a local, state, or federal dictate that led to the business distress, it is far more reasonable to seek a government-backed solution.

2. Charles Bowyer and Jerry Bowyer critique ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing as much riskier than advertised. From the piece:

The Department of Labor recently proposed a rule that requires pension-fund managers to select investments “based solely on financial considerations,” effectively repudiating the claim that ESG investing maximizes portfolio returns. Elsewhere, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce has been calling for more oversight of ESG-marketed funds. Among the issues one would expect regulators to examine is whether these ESG-friendly funds truly reduce risk in the way that is often claimed. Take the example provided by California utilities company PG&E, once in the vanguard for public advocacy of green causes. Sustainalytics, an ESG rating firm, put PG&E in the top 10 percent of similar companies for environmental factors in November 2018, and at one point PG&E was held by 3.7 percent of ESG funds. Once PG&E went under, the financial media featured numerous postmortems asking some variation of the question, “Wait, I thought this was supposed to avoid risk?”

The problem is that there are risks, and there are risks. The risk that PG&E may have been trying to reduce was that supposedly arising from climate change, but while it was focused on that, it seems to have been negligent (criminally, in fact) about the basics, like not having its equipment starting massive fires. PG&E has spent much of the last decade incessantly pandering to climate activists — supporting legislation mandating emission caps, focusing on renewable resources to generate power, and minimizing their own greenhouse-gas emissions. But those investing in PG&E thinking that this made it a generally less risky company have been badly disappointed.

Having steered the corporate world into alignment on climate change, activist investors are now looking to replicate that success with abortion. Recently, a group of investors managing over $230 billion in assets wrote a letter addressed to major corporations inquiring about their position on “abortion and contraception.” This is part of a broader campaign by left-wing corporate-activist group As You Sow to draft the corporate world into their war against restrictions on abortion. Abortion was not a common topic for shareholder resolutions until quite recently. That seems to be changing, but it is one thing to honestly urge a corporation to oppose restrictions on abortion as a political choice, yet quite another to pretend that this has anything to do with “risk,” even if the nature of this issue means that activists don’t have much choice in the matter. A company may be wary of taking an openly political stance, but if the matter can be sold as a matter of risk avoidance, that is an entirely different question.

3. The best paycheck protection, says R. Glenn Hubbard, is growth. From the commentary:

This critical pivot — and it is a pivot from conventional conservative reform measures — must rest on three pillars. The first is the idea that participation in the economy’s benefits requires a connection to work. Education is important, of course, but, so, too, is skill preparation for work. Elsewhere with my Aspen Economic Study Group colleagues, I have suggested a federal block grant for community colleges, with goals and outcome measures, to address this challenge. Its Morrill Act roots make it a strong opportunity-connection idea. Second, individual income advancement requires attachment to work. Work is important for earned success and dignity, and skill and earnings growth rely on work attachment. A participation agenda should strengthen work attachment for low-skilled workers through a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit or other wage subsidy, including for younger, childless workers. Such an approach offers a potent alternative to traditional welfare-state nostrums or the currently fashionable Universal Basic Income, neither of which produces the mass flourishing that classical economists rightly urged on. The third pillar is reconnection to work and the economy when one’s employment outlook is disrupted. Our current system of social insurance is not well-positioned for the economy we actually have. Newer ideas such as Personal Reemployment Accounts, which would provide income support and timing to re-prepare individuals for work when occupational needs change, are critical.

Three comments about this growth agenda are in order. First, it starts with and must be judged against a “first principle” of mass flourishing. Second, it will require investments of public funds — it is not and cannot be simply about small-government laissez-faire. Third, it needs articulation and careful implementation.

4. Viva La Dollar: Steve Hanke calls for the mothballing central banks. From the article:

The obvious answer is for vulnerable emerging‐market countries to do away with their central banks and domestic currencies, replacing them with a sound foreign currency.  Today, 32 countries are “dollarized” and rely on a foreign currency as legal tender.

Panama, which was dollarized in 1903, illustrates the important features of a dollarized economy. By joining the U.S. dollar bloc, Panama eliminated exchange-rate risks and the possibility of a currency crisis vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. In addition, the possibility of banking crises is largely mitigated because Panama’s banking system is integrated into the international financial system. The nature of the banks that hold general licenses provides the key to understanding how the system as a whole functions smoothly. When these banks’ portfolios are in equilibrium, they are indifferent at the margin between deploying liquidity (lending or borrowing) in the domestic market and doing so abroad. As the liquidity (credit-creating potential) of these banks changes, they evaluate risk-adjusted rates of return in the domestic and international markets and adjust their portfolios accordingly. Excess liquidity is deployed domestically if domestic risk-adjusted returns exceed those in the international market. It’s deployed internationally if the international risk-adjusted returns exceed those in the domestic market. This process is thrown into reverse when liquidity deficits arise in Panamanian banks.

4. Brian Riedl asks the $64 Million question: Who will fund $24 Trillion in new government debt? From the article:

Washington has easily financed this year’s exorbitant borrowing. Since March 11, the national debt has jumped by $3.1 trillion. Treasury data through May suggest that foreign borrowing has financed virtually none of this new debt. Instead, the Federal Reserve has increased its Treasury holdings by $1.7 trillion (from $2.5 trillion to $4.2 trillion), and the remaining $1.4 trillion has come from domestic savings such as banks, mutual funds, and state and local governments.

But this model may not be sustainable. Economists have long argued that rising debt is affordable because the large global economy will continue to eagerly lend America — creator of the world’s reserve currency — dollars at low interest rates. Yet international borrowing has not kept up with America’s rising debt. While foreigners held nearly half of America’s $10.5 trillion debt at the end of 2011, they have funded less than one-fifth of the extra $9 trillion in borrowing America has undertaken since. Over these past nine years, while America’s debt soared from $10.5 trillion to $20 trillion, the total American debt held by Japan and China barely increased, from $2.2 trillion to $2.3 trillion. The American debt held by the rest of the world grew from $2.8 trillion to $4.5 trillion in the same time frame, with the U.K. and Ireland driving one-quarter of the increase.

Moving forward, China — whose decisions to buy and sell Treasuries are often driven by whether it wishes to appreciate or depreciate its own currency — is not expected to embark on a Treasury-buying spree large enough to cover much of America’s exorbitant new borrowing; White House talk of defaulting on America’s Chinese debt as payback for China’s coronavirus-related behavior will only limit Beijing’s appetite for Treasuries. Japanese investors and pension funds should retain some enthusiasm for Treasuries as long as U.S. interest rates exceed Japan’s own zero (or negative) rates. But America’s interest-rate advantage in that case has fallen by 80 percent since 2018, and even a Japanese borrowing surge would cover only a small portion of Washington’s heavy borrowing needs. It is highly unlikely that other countries with much smaller economies and debt holdings can finance much of the $24 trillion in new borrowing, especially when many of their own national debts are rising.

A Baker’s Dozen of Nut-Free Buns and Pastries to Satisfy Your Conservative Sweet Tooth

1. David Harsanyi is all over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s gun myth-making. From the piece:

Studies of those imprisoned on firearms charges show that most often they obtain their weapons by stealing them or buying them in black markets. A smaller percentage get them from family members or friends.

On top of all this, federal law requires every FFL license holder to report the purchase of two or more handguns by the same person with a week to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This is one of the reasons straw purchasers — people with a clean record who buy for criminals — spread their operations to other states. This is not unique to Illinois or Chicago. It has nothing to do with strict or lenient laws. It has mostly to do with cities and states failing to prosecute straw purchases.

Lightfoot claims that 60 percent of the guns used in Chicago murders are bought from out of state. I assume she is relying on 2017’s suspect “gun trace report,” which looked at guns confiscated in criminal acts from 2013 and 2016. Even if we trusted the city’s data, most guns used in Illinois crimes are bought in-state. If gun laws in Illinois — which earns a grade of “A-“ from the pro-gun-control Gifford Law Center, tied for second highest in the country after New Jersey — are more effective than gun laws in Missouri, Wisconsin, or Indiana, why is it that FFL dealers in suburban Cook County are the origin point for a third of the crime guns recovered in Chicago, and home to “seven of the top ten source dealers”? According to the trace study, 11.2 percent of all crime guns recovered in Chicago could be tracked to just two gun shops.

The only reason, it seems, criminals take the drive to Indiana is because local gun shops are tapped out. There is a tremendous demand for weapons in Chicago. That’s not Mississippi’s fault. And Lightfoot’s contention only proves that criminals in her city can get their hands on guns rather easily, while most law-abiding citizens have no way to defend themselves.

2. Jim Geraghty shares 20 things you likely didn’t know about Dem Veepstake hopeful Susan Rice. A few items from the article:

Eleven: On July 21, 2008, she said Obama “bows to nobody in his understanding of this world.” (A particularly ironic word choice, considering how Obama greeted foreign monarchs during his presidency.)

Twelve: After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, she declared that the “aggressive,” “belligerent” actor in the situation was . . . John McCain.

Thirteen: One of Rice’s purported success stories, getting the United Nations to impose sanctions on Iran in 2010, was much less than it was touted to be, as China and Russia only supported the measures with the assurance that they would not impair ability to continue trading with Tehran.

Fourteen: A Dana Milbank column in 2012 described Rice’s interactions with colleagues as combative and sometimes unprofessional. “Back when she was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. Colleagues talk of shouting matches and insults.”

3. Rich Lowry wallops the Never Republicans. From the analysis:

‘Burn it down” is rarely a wise or prudent sentiment.

A cadre of Republican opponents of President Donald Trump is nonetheless calling for a purifying fire to sweep through the GOP in the fall, taking down not just Trump but as many Republican officeholders as possible.

Only this willy-nilly bloodletting will teach the party the hard lesson it needs to learn and mete out the punishment it deserves for accommodating Trump over the past four years. As a Soviet commissar once put it, “We must execute not only the guilty. Execution of the innocent will impress the masses even more.”

These Never Trumpers, as my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, are becoming Never Republicans. Their ranks run from the estimable columnist George Will, to Charlie Sykes of the anti-Trump website The Bulwark, to the operatives of The Lincoln Project.

Their hoped-for GOP electoral apocalypse doesn’t make sense on its own terms, and their advocacy for one bears all the hallmarks of this perfervid time in our politics — it, too, is rageful and extreme, but satisfyingly emotive.

4. More Rich: He applies the 2-by-4 to the scammy Lincoln Project. From the piece:

The idea of Republican political pros working against Trump is irresistible to The Lincoln Project’s progressive fans. But it’s not really true. John Weaver, for example, hasn’t been a GOP stalwart in about 20 years. He left to go work for the Democratic House campaign committee after John McCain’s 2000 primary campaign flamed out. He returned as the strategist to the 2016 presidential campaign of John Kasich, who will be speaking at the Democratic convention this year.

Steve Schmidt repaid John McCain for the opportunity of a lifetime running his 2008 presidential campaign by self-servingly dishing on the wreckage and making a new career among the people who hated the McCain campaign. Just last year, he was the chief strategist to prospective independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks — showing he wasn’t going to let a self-evident absurdity get in the way of a good payday.

It’s hard to maintain the fiction of The Lincoln Project as a Republican group when Weaver gave a defensive-sounding interview to the Washington Post promising to support the agenda of a prospective President Biden and attack Republicans for opposing him.

If the media didn’t share The Lincoln Project’s political goals, it might cast a more jaundiced eye on the group and simply see political consultants doing what they do best — namely, separating gullible people from their money, in this case Democratic donors.

5. Andy McCarthy expounds on AG Bill Barr’s mincemeat-making of House Democrats. From the article:

It was an embarrassing spectacle.

Some days, it just feels like we’re doomed. Today is one of those days. And not simply because this should have been an important oversight hearing featuring an important witness — one whom a serious committee would have wanted both to hear out and to challenge. It is, after all, the nature of the Justice Department’s work that there are many tough judgment calls; no one gets them all right.

What happened on Capitol Hill Tuesday was a debacle to despair over because Democrats do not act this way because they are preternaturally rude. They act this way because their voters expect and demand that they act this way.

It is not hard to understand, even if it is hard to accept. Democrats do not merely disagree with Donald Trump. They abhor him. Their supporters and media friends so loathe him that each “hearing,” each issue, becomes a contest of who can be the most indecorous and contemptuous. Who among us can spew the most bile?

Barr brings out the worst in them, which is saying something. He is learned and quick, he is prepared, and he doesn’t get rattled. Unlike many government officials, he thrives in the give-and-take of civil discourse.

6. Victor Davis Hanson profiles the revolutionaries. From the essay:

The cultural revolutionaries are a tripartite group.

On the front lines are the shock troops. For the most part, middle-class urban and suburban white kids, many of them in college, graduated, or dropped out, make up Antifa and its affiliates. They seem to organize the statue toppling, graffiti, and vandalism, as well as the violence at the demonstrations. They show up in ridiculous black-clad Road Warrior outfits, fitted out with cobbled-together hoodies, bicycle helmets, knee pads, and various sports-equipment armor, and occasionally with testudo-like umbrellas and assorted fireworks, rocks, bottle, and bats. All that is a psychodrama far more interesting than showing up at Starbucks at 5 a.m. to start the day’s machinery.

They are the new superfluous elite, in that their college investments brought them neither prestige nor money, but only debt and sloganeering memorized from the sermons of their tenured and comfortable lounge professors. History shows that when would-be, self-important elites have are in surfeit and extraneous, they grow volatile. They wake up to learn that their vaunted education and training were not appreciated and properly compensated by society.

And so they often can turn to violence and indeed revolution if it comes their way. In the profiles of the Jacobin, Bolshevik, and Arab Spring second-stage revolutions, the common denominators are frustration and the feeling that the agitators deserved honor, money, and influence that either never was forthcoming or went to undeserving others.

Antifa’s aim is to cause chaos and anarchy, in hopes of eliciting a police response that will fuel nonstop street brawling, akin to Germany’s in the 1920s, and a general sense of pandemonium that will leave the democratic capitalist state weak, directionless, and without a reply.

7. Danielle Pletka says the mini-Jacobins are intent on destruction, not reform. From the end of the piece:

Revolutionaries have their place in this world: Who could begrudge the people of Iraq tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein or the people of Romania tossing the Communist Nicolae Ceausescu from office? Who would deny the justice in the Founding Fathers’ revolt against King George? In each place there was no legal means of redress against an oppressive and unjust system. But that’s not the modern United States, which offers its citizens a pathway to reform even the most hated of institutions.

Those on either the left or right who confuse America with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Ceausescu’s Romania would do well to remember the trajectory of the original Jacobins of the French Revolution: After instituting the Reign of Terror, during which they sent thousands of their opponents to the guillotine, many of them were themselves guillotined in an orgy of self-destruction, leading ultimately to the rise of Napoleon, pan-European wars, and the eventual re-establishment of the very institutions the Jacobins set out to destroy.

8. Iain Murray warns about Socialism on the march. From the article:

Last week, several self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists defeated long-serving Democratic incumbents in New York State primaries. One of the insurgents, Zohran Mamdani, tweeted out the words, “Socialism won.” His pinned tweet on his profile page says, “Together, we can tax the rich, heal the sick, house the poor & build a socialist New York. But only if we build a movement of the multiracial working class to stand up to those who want to stop us . . . Solidarity forever.”

This is a pretty good summary of what people currently attracted to socialism think they mean by the term — tax the rich and bring down the special interests to bring about a better country founded upon an agenda of radical egalitarianism. Yet anyone who has studied the history of socialism knows that this will fail, painfully, and possibly violently. Why do people fall for this time and again?

That’s the question my new book, The Socialist Temptation, released today, tries to answer. In it, I argue that socialism has learned how to speak the language of American values. The three main American values identified by cultural theorists are fairness, freedom, and community. Socialism says it can provide all of those.

Yet when you look at just how socialism purports to do that, it is full of contradictions. Those contradictions have been in full display whenever anyone has attempted to build an actual socialist state. Whether it be the Soviet Union, today’s China, or the Britain I grew up in, we see that bureaucrats and officials gain a privileged position, rights are trampled in the name of democracy, and communities are broken apart.

9. Iddo Werneck finds an excellent case against alarmist environmentalists in Michael Shellenerger’s Apocalypse Never. From the piece:

The fact that nuclear reactors had little to do with nuclear bombs was no reason not to scare the public into thinking that they did. Using a single instance of habitat loss and extrapolating from there to planetary species extinction was justified because it drew attention to threats to biodiversity. When it comes to the dangers of climate change, propagating fear has become the main communication strategy. Shellenberger decries the culture of despair this has created and the real damage done by scaring teenagers about a grim future. This is deliberate. In the words of Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old darling of climate alarmists, “I want you to panic.”

Written intelligently and cogently, the book aims at an educated audience but does not cater to the NPR crowd. Shellenberger recoils from the elitism and disingenuousness he sees as typical in the environmental-advocacy community. He directly takes on the New York Times and The New Yorker, revealing strong populist sympathies, though he never expresses these explicitly. Citations of reputable scientific sources such as the IPCC (though he also criticizes the IPCC for being too political) as well more than 100 pages of footnotes back up Shellenberger’s argument. The ambition of the book is vast — as it tries to address the science behind environmental claims as well as the communication strategies used to promulgate them. Shellenberger weighs in on big scientific, philosophical, and even psychological questions that perhaps warrant more circumspection than certainty.

The book is crammed with personal-interest stories, told in a conversational style. We meet a farmer in Africa complaining about wild gorillas eating her sweet potatoes and having no redress, a young woman in Indonesia who moves from the farm to the city, and an NGO staffer who names what technologies she thinks should and should not be available to them. Apocalypse Never is autobiographical in that it marks the conversion of the author from a young activist who embraced the reigning anti-technology bias of environmentalism to a more mature analyst who sees how modern forms of energy and agriculture can improve the environment and the lives of billions. On the flip side, Shellenberger has become convinced of the great damage done by preventing the poor of the world from having modern amenities.

10. Kathryn Jean Lopez argues that along with the legacy of Margaret Sanger, abortion-on-demand also needs to be canceled. From the piece:

My friend Professor Charles Camosy, of Fordham University, officially quit the Democratic Party in the past year. It had long ago left him. He’s been recently sending around a petition to help the party confront its abortion extremism, to make room again for people who do not think that abortion is some kind of sacramental rite, an essential tenet not just of party membership but of respectful civil society. This virtue-signaling business leaves no room for debate over fundamentals that are becoming matters of tyrannical ascent.

In California, the Junípero Serra statues have all but disappeared — some by government decree, others by vandals, still others voluntarily — with the hope that they can come out again when the current hysteria has subsided. Serra, a Franciscan missionary, was a leaven in a brutal culture, with a selfless heart for others to whom he had no obligation other than what his Christian faith demanded of him. Would that all Christians lived like that (I say to myself as much as to anyone)! Would that we would learn from history: the good and the bad, without these frenzied surface-area denunciations!

In the case of Planned Parenthood and its political party (which extends beyond the Democrats, although the Democrats have resolutely pledged allegiance to their creed), making this Sanger reconsideration a healthy exercise would require taking a look at abortion itself and who it most affects, what it does to women and children and families. As a people, we cloak ourselves in all kinds of euphemisms when it comes to abortion — and other difficult issues. But how about talking to women about what abortion has done to them?

11. Jimmy Quinn reveals the ChiCom leadership’s lies about Red China’s concentration camps. From the beginning of the piece:

In the most comprehensive accounting of Beijing’s Xinjiang-related disinformation efforts to date, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Washington-based NGO, launched a report yesterday on how the Chinese Communist Party has worked to stall international action on its actions in the autonomous region, which a growing chorus of observers describes as a genocide.

Since 2017, Beijing has operated a network of detention facilities in China’s far West, interning what researchers say is upwards of one million Uighur Muslims. In addition to the camps, which Chinese officials describe as political “re-education” facilities, many perform forced labor for companies that sell materials to multinational corporations. The detainees are, according to reports, tortured, subjected to forced sterilizations, and, in some cases, killed. The situation in Xinjiang represents one of this century’s most widespread mass atrocities, and the CCP is covering it up.

When reports about the camps started to emerge a couple of years ago, Beijing neglected to comment on them. Eventually, though, it had to address the allegations, denying them for the first time in 2018. Starting later in the year, though, the CPP acknowledged the camps’ existence for the first time, arguing for their necessity as part of a campaign to root out terrorism and extremist activity in Xinjiang. Of course, the truth is that the detention drive is indiscriminate, sweeping up ordinary people. The evolution of this narrative has dovetailed with an increasing use of state propaganda instruments to push it. The name of the UHRP report, “’The Happiest Muslims in the World,’” comes from the CCP’s assertions that Uighurs are happy people who enjoy dancing — in other words, that Beijing has brought much-needed economic development, not egregious human-rights abuses.

12. More Quinn: Jimmy looks at the Tik-Tok kowtow to Beijing, and US media stooges playing along with the Red party line. From the piece:

Will that appease anyone concerned about TikTok’s potential security risk? Probably not. But one important constituency already buys the argument. Tech journalists at some of the country’s most influential media outlets have for weeks argued that the app is no different from its multinational social media competitors. While government officials and privacy experts have warned that China’s invasive data-privacy practices and TikTok’s lack of transparency represent a problem, some writers regularly compare it to U.S.-based companies, concluding that the risk posed by TikTok does not seem much worse than the failings of its competitors. The latest column making this point, by NYT’s Kevin Roose, goes a step further, asking, “Instead of banning TikTok, or forcing ByteDance to sell it to Americans, why not make an example of it by turning it into the most transparent, privacy-protecting, ethically governed tech platform in existence?”

The piece centers on this call to regulate TikTok alongside the other Big Tech companies, but he broaches the topic of competition in a conversation with a colleague about his Monday column. “It’s Facebook’s only real competitor, and the creative culture on the app would be a shame to lose,” he said.

That all might be true, but this needs to be balanced against other concerns, such as ByteDance’s cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party to cover up the mass internment of Uighur Muslims on Douyin, the version of TikTok that it offers in China. While ByteDance is not a state-owned enterprise, it does still operate as any Chinese company is obliged to these days. Since 2017 it has had an internal party committee, and CCP members at the company participate in sessions where they study Xi Jinping’s speeches and other facets of party ideology. Even conceding the point that other social-media companies should face more stringent regulation, new data-privacy standards will not change ByteDance’s allegiance to Beijing. As Roose admits, TikTok’s handling of user data is opaque at best — something that, due to ByteDance’s CCP ties, might not change too much, even with Mayer’s transparency assurances.

13. More Red China: Cameron Hilditch covers the NBA engaging in the world’s oldest profession. From the piece:

Uighurs in concentration camps don’t buy sneakers, but the Communists who put them there do. When push comes to shove, that’s all that really matters to the National Basketball Association, an organization led exclusively, it seems, by protoplasmic, invertebrate robber-barons who put in their work days sucking greedily on the teat of the Chinese Communist Party. There’s simply no other conclusion to be reached after reading yesterday’s excellent ESPN investigation into the NBA’s activities in the Middle Kingdom.

The red flags signaling the league’s craven propensity for self-abasement were first flown at full-mast last October, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, touching off a firestorm. Morey was forced to apologize, and a slew of basketball stars across the country rushed to profess their epistemic shortcomings with regard to Chinese history when pressed, as if a nuanced understanding of how the tributary system worked during the Qing dynasty was a necessary prerequisite for determining whether or not democracy is a good idea. I’m sure that before Joe Louis enlisted in the United States Army in 1942, he took care to educate himself about the Bismarckian unification of Germany, lest his moral evaluation of Hitler be impeded by a lack of informed historical empathy for the Nazis.

Moreygate alone sufficed to expose the NBA as an amoral money-grubbing cult. But if we needed more evidence, it has now been amply supplied by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada in ESPN’s new report, which is based on interviews with former NBA employees involved in the league’s player-development programs in China. The market for the NBA in China is worth about $5 billion, and was built on the success of the now-retired Chinese player Yao Ming. According to two of the former NBA employees who spoke with ESPN, the league’s player-development academies in China had one salient mandate from the powers that be: “Find another Yao.” Sold to the world as an altruistic, bridge-building venture that offers a holistic education and opportunities for self-improvement to young Chinese men, the academies are in fact little more than human basketball farms designed to breed the next native cash cow for NBA executives.

14. Robert VerBruggen finds that science, genuflecting to politics, is often unscientific. From the piece:

It’s too bad that this happened too late for Stuart Ritchie to discuss it in his new book Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth, because it illustrates all of his main points. Science Fictions is a handy guide to what can go wrong in science, nicely blending eye-popping anecdotes with comprehensive studies. As the subtitle suggests, Ritchie is concerned with four issues in particular: fraud, bias, negligence, and hype. He explains how each of these get in the way of the truth, and makes a number of suggestions for fixing the process.

The chapter on fraud is easily the most harrowing, because it involves scientists who deliberately mislead their peers and the public. Here we meet Paolo Macchiarini, who claimed to be able to transplant tracheas, including artificial tracheas, by “seeding” them with some of the recipient’s stem cells so the recipient’s body wouldn’t later reject them. Macchiarini published several papers touting his successes. It later turned out that his patients were dying, but it took years for the scandal to come to light and for the institutions involved to admit their mistakes.

Frauds such as manipulated images and fake data can be easy enough to catch when a critic is looking for them, but most journals and peer reviewers tend to start from the assumption that scientists are at least well-intentioned. Heck, fraudsters often are well-intentioned in a perverse sense, trying to advance theories they genuinely believe to be true and important without going through the hassle of proving them. Yet in surveys, about 2 percent of scientists admit to faking data at least once, and a review of thousands of biology papers containing “western blots” (a technique to detect proteins) found that 4 percent included duplicated images.

Lights. Camera. Review!

1. Everyone’s talking about Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Armond White is listening too. He hears twaddle. From the review:

Anyone who takes Swift to be merely insipid misses the proven fact that she is a pop-star demagogue selling an imbecilic moral message to a generation. And anyone puzzled by all the white kids heading the Black Lives/Antifa riots can find an explanation for it in this right-now phenomenon. Swift’s bubble-gum pop (CDB variety?) and simple-minded platitudes echo the same bland self-righteousness we hear from journalists who broadcast the latest PC buzzwords, bleating about “justice” and “peaceful protests” as if these were neutral terms.

A Taylor Swift love song such as “Invisible String” is not neutral but bratty in its bland self-glorification and self-pity. (“Bold was the waitress who told me I looked like an American singer.”) Her lyrics on this 16-track album are evidence of an education system that has dulled performers and their audiences. Swift chirps, “Isn’t it just so pretty to think there are some invisible strings tying you to me?” “Pretty,” a petty measure, voices self-satisfied inanity that is childish (formerly girlish). She marvels at the phenomena of love, existence, providence but just can’t find the right words. Such inarticulateness, not empathy, is what’s behind the nonwhite chanting by Black Lives/Antifa. Folklore is not a great personal album like Joni Mitchell’s For the Roses, but this substitution of facile emotion — shared by a mass demographic — for genuine thought represents a sea change.

2. More Armond: He assembles an Antifa Top-25 movie list. From the beginning of the piece:

Lately, many Americans have recognized that the past several generations of students have been indoctrinated into notions on history and behavior, taught by Marxism-infatuated educators, that encourage a new kind of dissidence, unrecognizable from the anti-war demonstrations of the Sixties. Blurring loose notions of anti-fascist activity and inverting the meaning of black solidarity have come to define a miseducated demographic that has itself misappropriated racial virtue and become fascist.

Movies have been part of these students’ pop-culture instruction — and their political instruction. Should bored college kids ever go back to school, hit the seminars alongside the fentanyl, they’ll get a syllabus, a course outline similar to the ones that already taught them ideas on social conduct and personal beliefs. And you need to know what it looks like. So this Saul Alinsky–style syllabus outlines the notions of history and behavior common among contemporary pedagogues (and reviewers); it explains today’s generational unrest. Here are 25 films that spoiled a generation.

The Dark Knight (2008): Comic-book culture’s subversion of heroism into nihilism took root with Christopher Nolan’s pompous seriousness. Heath Ledger’s goblin (the Face of the Millennium) joked, “Why so serious?” — turning life into Halloween and eventually taking more lives than his own.

Vertigo (1958): Hitchcock’s most obsessive love story became a how-to manual for “people who are not sure who they are but who are busy reconstructing themselves and each other to fit a kind of [social] ideal.” That’s Sight and Sound editor Nick James nailing the degraded use of good filmmaking to negative purposes, when Vertigo overtook Citizen Kane in 2015 as film culture’s new favorite “Best Film.”

3. Oh Melanie: Kyle Smith remembers Olivia  de Havilland. From the piece:

As it was onscreen, so it was in life: De Havilland was a luminous, delicate beauty in such films as Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, They Died with their Boots On, and the four other pictures she made with her Warner Bros. stablemate Errol Flynn. But she did something that took audacious courage. It was a breathtaking leap into the unknown when she sued Warners in 1943. This decision might well have cost her her career; the studio system was a tightly guarded oligopoly, and Jack Warner’s fury at her might well have effectively blacklisted her. Instead, she won a landmark victory and went on to make films in which her character was the lead, notably her two Oscar-winning roles in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949).

De Havilland’s victory was the first crushing blow to a studio system that limited actors both financially and creatively, forcing them to take whatever parts the studio chiefs assigned to them, at salary. Thanks in part to de Havilland, Hollywood is now a place where actors freely jump from studio to studio and share in the profits of their work to such a degree that Johnny Depp can earn $650 million from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. More important than that is the creative freedom of being able to escape typecasting. Olivia de Havilland was petite — 5′ 3″ but she proved a dauntless force, onscreen and off.

4. John Loftus considers The Duke, as both hero and anti-hero. From the beginning of the commentary:

Whether or not John Wayne’s statue ought to be removed from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Ca., whether or not the eponymous airport ought to be renamed, and whether or not Wayne’s exhibit at the University of Southern California ought to be excised from the film school’s illustrious legacy, the characters John Wayne played in his timeless Westerns ought to be defended — as symbols.

The characters Ringo Kid, Ethan Edwards, and John T. Chance are important for conservatives because they embody longstanding principles and traits traditionally defended by conservatives: masculine virtues (namely, grit and stoicism) and the Christian conception of mankind, which holds that we are fallen and flawed but capable of striving toward improvement and ultimately redemption.

Some of Wayne’s characters stumble upon their dilemmas unwittingly, seeking to capitalize on the moment for selfish reasons. They change and develop, however, to varying degrees. Ringo Kid’s character arc, for example, is more gradual and nuanced than that of Ethan Edwards, who, far, far from being heroic, changes on a dime in a single scene. Regardless, Wayne’s heroes and anti-heroes encapsulate the above-mentioned traits and serve as vessels for ideas currently under assault.

In John Ford’s Stagecoach, Wayne plays the outlaw, Ringo Kid, for his career-launching role. At first glance, Ringo seems untrustworthy — another depraved loner entangled with the law, a prison escapee. But as the story progresses, we learn that Ringo had been falsely accused and that he ditched prison to avenge his brother and father, who were murdered by the antagonist, Luke Plummer. He’s truly a figure that cancel culture would never permit to exist.

5. Jack Butler finds little to like in the Star Wars prequels. From the commentary:

But from my point of view, the prequels are terrible. Their claim to novelty is misleading at best, their story is nonsensical, and their effects and characters are ridiculous. They actively defile the movies they are supposed to precede.

To a person concerned with decadence — a kind of comfortable yet staid cultural holding pattern in which an already-existing civilization circles endlessly around its past achievements without generating anything new — novelty is high praise. To bestow upon the prequels this honor, even if they failed to achieve it properly, is a bold claim. It is also an incorrect one. It is wrong on its face, belied, in the first place, by the very idea of a prequel, which is to elaborate upon things we already know. And it is further confounded by the evidence of repetition that abounds in the stories themselves. Oh, look: A Skywalker destroys the enemy’s command ship! That’s new! Oh, look: A Skywalker loses a limb! Unprecedented. Oh, look: a younger Jedi loses his mentor! Haven’t seen that before. The whole enterprise exists in conscious, deliberate, rote relation to what came before, relying on allusion and reference and what one could charitably call “symmetry” to fill in the gaps left by vacuous storytelling. It is worth remembering, in this regard, what Lucas was content with doing in the years before the prequels came out (and what he continued to do after they were released): endlessly tinkering around the edges of what he had already made, throwing in splashes (or splotches) of CGI, making concrete changes that were often controversial and sometimes indisputably degradations of his prior work. He applied the same spirit to the prequels. It is hard to conceive of a better example of decadence.

The most frequently invoked example of the prequel trilogy’s innovation is the political narrative that forms its backdrop. Say what you will about the prequels, this contention goes, at least they tried to tell an interesting political story. Political theory is pretty far down on the list of what got people crowding into theaters in 1977; the “politics” of the original trilogy as it actually turned out were simplistic, owing more to Ming the Merciless and pulp sci-fi than any serious study of world affairs. But in Lucas’s bizarre conception, this somehow evolved both from and into a critique of the Vietnam War (American involvement, not Communist perfidy, naturally). What eventually became Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now started as a Lucas project that existed in a kind of thematic relationship with what Star Wars ultimately became. Though these two properties would evolve away from each other, the Vietnam War protest element became even more apparent by Return of the Jedi, when the mighty, tech-savvy, and numerically superior Empire was laid low by a technologically primitive, jungle-residing force — yes, that’s right, the Ewoks are the Vietcong. Lucas, then, was no stranger to injecting his superficial politics into his story and thinking this somehow profound when it was actually at best a distraction in something most enjoyed by children. Thus, when by Revenge of the Sith, an evil Anakin Skywalker is paraphrasing George W. Bush’s Iraq War declaration that “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists,” we see not novelty but the decadence of a Baby Boomer wanting to have himself another Vietnam War counterculture moment.

Podcastapalooza

1. On the new episode of Radio Free California, David and Will offer recommendations on the twelve ballot propositions California voters will face this November — complete with time-saving tips for less ambitious voters. Listen here.

2. On the first of three ew episodes of The Editors (Episode 240), Rich, Charlie, and MBD discuss the mayor of Portland, the latest Coronavirus numbers, and the opening night of the MLB season. Listen here.

3. On The Editors (Episode 241), Rich, Charlie, and Jim discuss the problems that have already arisen in MLB, the likelihood of an NFL season, Joe Biden’s veepstakes, and whether the schools will open this year. Listen here.

4. On The Editors (Episode 242), Rich, Charlie, and MBD discuss President Trump’s suggestion that the election be delayed, ask whether the GOP needs to be blown up, and review Bill Barr’s trip to the House of Representatives. Listen here.

5. On The McCarthy Report, Andy and Rich discuss the tactics of the police in Portland, Oregon, and Bill Barr’s upcoming testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Listen here.

6. On the new Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Kevin and Charlie discuss Paul McCartney’s second band, “Zombie Reaganism,” and the Lincoln Project. Listen here.

7. On The Great Books, John J. Miller and Hillsdale prof David Whalen discuss Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. Listen here.

Elsewhere in the Conservative Solar System

1. In the New York Post, amigo David Bahnsen appeals to NYC business leaders to end the Big Apple’s Big Brother semi-permanent lockdown. From the article:

I am neither qualified to nor interested in commenting on the specific pragmatic ramifications of your company’s work operations. My agenda is not your company’s working efficiencies, something you are exponentially more suited to understand than I or anyone else is.

Rather, my concern is the downstream impact that will result from the city not being open for business — with people not coming to work, with New York no longer being New York again.

Who is captured in this downstream impact I refer to? The dry cleaners no longer having men and women drop off their suits for weekly press. The shoe shiners no longer seeing men sit in their chairs for a morning shine. The deli workers without people on a lunch break to order a sandwich. The coffee-shop folks not getting tips to brew up iced coffee. The busboys not getting shifts because restaurants won’t open without businesses reopened. The bartenders not serving an evening drink before someone jumps on a train back to Connecticut out of Grand Central.

This is what I refer to — not merely the effects on our white-collar jobs and industries, but the withering of the invisible hand of the New York economy, which harms those who have been disproportionately damaged by the crisis.

2. At The Imaginative Conservative, Stephen Brady sees Sweden winning the COVIS War. From the analysis:

If lockdowns worked, we would expect Sweden, which did not impose one, to top the mortality table, and for the pandemic curve to have risen exponentially, as predicted by the notorious Imperial College model. This predicted that without a lockdown Sweden would have 44,000 dead by now, rather than the actual figure as of July 24 of 5,676.

Significantly, about half, possibly more, of the COVID deaths in Sweden were nothing to do with the question of lockdowns. There, as in Britain and certain US states, they were caused by decanting infected old people from hospitals into care homes in the panic to avoid health systems “being overwhelmed” (which never happened there or here). As Helena Nordenstedt, clinical epidemiologist and researcher in global health, is reported as saying in the BBC article, “The strategy was to flatten the curve, not overwhelm health care capacity. That seems to have worked. If you take care homes out of the equation, things actually look much brighter.”

Additionally, in Sweden, if not in the UK, old people sick with COVID who could have recovered were, it appears, denied treatment and so died needlessly because old people with this disease were not admitted to hospitals, again because it was feared, again wrongly on the basis of panicky “models,” that there was insufficient capacity. As this article reveals, younger patients were prioritised and older ones left needlessly to die.[3]

It was this, not failing to lock down, that Anders Tegnell, the Chief Epidemiologist to whom Sweden’s politicians widely handed over policy in the pandemic, has repeatedly said he regrets. This is tendentiously reported, again and again, as Dr. Tegnell “regretting Sweden’s no-lockdown policy,” whereas he has made it clear that he harbours no such regrets.

The BBC report notes that the Swedish economy has shrunk, without balancing this by noting that it has done so by much less than those countries which shut down their economies through lockdown, nor does it acknowledge that the impact on the Swedish economy is a knock-on result of the economic implosion of the lockdown countries. Swedish exports from companies such as Volvo, Scania, and Saab could hardly escape the consequences of the collective lockdown of the countries with which they do business.

3. At The American Mind, Juliana Pilon explores the Marxist foundation of Black Lives Matter. From the end of the essay:

But what makes the Marxist narrative exponentially more powerful than its ecclesiastic rivals is the same dualist dialectic that allows it to get away with, well, murder. For whether any BLM members, sympathizers, or just fellow-marchers are even vaguely aware of the underlying millenarian sophistry, so long as they contribute to the “inevitable” Armageddon, they’re on the right side of history. Idealistic students, thugs looking for loot, pro-Palestinian .activists: the wave is inclusive.

Latest on the bandwagon are the capitalists themselves. Writes Member of the European Parliament Alexandra Phillips: “The rapid spread of protests across the West under the Black Lives Matter banner has left a political breathlessness from Baltimore to Berlin…. In a world where nothing is exempt from moral judgment, being on trend means signing up to radical political movements.” And après nous, l’apocalypse . . . .

The abolition of “class inequality” has served as the secular equivalent of Paradise for over a century, its resistance to refutation categorical. But the continuing appeal of revolutionary absolutism is evidence of a deeply entrenched need to feel virtuous by seeking an apocalyptic erasure of “systemic inequality,” by demonizing particular classes. What fellow travelers hoping to be spared fail to realize is that unless all lives matter, none does.

4. At Real Clear Public Affairs, Scott B. Nelson we are living under a tyranny of abstractions. From the commentary:

The wide berth given to the charge of racism thus allows for great flexibility, enabling Black Lives Matter movements to spread across the world. While other countries may not share America’s particular narrative about slavery, most can point to some act of discrimination in their past. Discrimination of some sort is inevitable, since every community that comes into existence does so with a shared sense of who it is and who it is not. Unfortunately, racial differences are one of many ways that groups have historically distinguished themselves from one another. It was the genius of the American Founding Fathers to lay the framework for a community based on what all humans can believe in — namely, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this shared conviction there are no masters and slaves; all humans are dignified and partake of true equality.

This clear and noble project is now being defiled by incoherence and the tyranny of ideological clichés. If both the problem and the guilty parties are unclear, then the putative solutions will be just as unclear. If the problem is the system itself, can it be reformed from within, or will the reforms themselves be tinged with racism? The Left’s inability to discuss this problem coherently is symptomatic of a deeper problem: its inability and unwillingness to think politically and tackle concrete challenges, which would require effort and commitment beyond petulance and sloganeering. For the Left, society is a homogenous mass, to be molded according to the vagaries of social justice.

The Left’s view of homogenous society is replicated in its view of history. Gone is the drama of the American narrative, with all its successes and setbacks, the struggles and triumphs of its great men and women of all races. Instead, everything has been filtered through the lens of race, and history becomes nothing but a web of injustice. Like Dante in The Inferno, the progressives witness no change, only endless punishment. Time is nonexistent. There is no ugly past triumphantly overcome, nor a bright future to hope for, only the eternal damnation of the imperfect present. There are no heroes, only villains. Progress, it turns out, is unknown to the progressive.

5. History This Ain’t: At Commentary, Noah Rothman recounts the false claims of the 1619 Project. From the analysis:

Last December, five historians — Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, and James Oakes — took issue with the 1619 Project’s central and most contentious claim: that the nation’s founding date is not 1776 but a century and a half earlier. “[T]he project asserts the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain’ in order to ensure slavery would continue,’” these scholars wrote, “This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding — yet every statement offered by the Project to validate it is false.” The Times took note and, accordingly, corrected the “original language” to reflect the facts while still defending “the basic point” of the offending essay.

But that was hardly the only source of frustration among academicians. Historians took exception to one essay’s contention that the disaggregation of the black family can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries. They balked at the Project’s exhumation of a demonstrably false assertion that slavery disproportionately contributed to the country’s wealth. Most of all, they objected to the Project’s self-aggrandizing claim that the study of slavery — both its origins and its aftermath — is an underexplored field of study and instruction.

The Pulitzer Prize Committee subversively adjudicated this dispute when it awarded Hannah-Jones the Pulitzer for the category “commentary” — not some more empirical genre like, for example, history. Nevertheless, the Times maintained that the Project’s most controversial essays remain “grounded in the historical record” and are not “driven by ideology rather than historical understanding.”

Apparently, Nikole Hannah-Jones disagrees.

“I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history,” she recently averred. “It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory.” Hannah-Jones continued: “The crazy thing is, the 1619 Project is using history and reporting to make an argument. It never pretended to be a history.” Indeed, when it comes to primary education, “the curriculum is supplementary and cannot and was never intended to supplant U.S. history curriculum.” That is, indeed, quite reasonable. Even if we assume K-12 students are equipped to “interrogate” the “narrative” of America’s Founding, which they are not, such an enterprise amounts to indoctrination if the student has not yet internalized the basics. You cannot “critically deconstruct” a narrative with which you’re unfamiliar.

6. At Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti sees a dying Christianity, and of the nation’s essence, in the cathedral fires of France. From the report:

The fire at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of Nantes is believed to have been started deliberately. It was only a year ago that a massive blaze nearly totally gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. After that, the historic Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris caught fire, as well as the Basilica of Saint Denis (the same depicted in the painting posted by Christiansen).

“The fire in Nantes Cathedral, after Notre-Dame de Paris, should make our elites reflect on the great disorder and the great change, decivilization is underway”, Philippe de Villiers, the author and former French minister commented.

“In France there is a low-noise destruction of the Christian roots”, said the philosopher Michel Onfray. “There are about one or two anti-Christian acts a day and it takes a burning cathedral to start talking about it”.

Six major French cathedrals and churches have caught fire during the last year and a half: Notre Dame, Nantes, Rennes, Saint-Sulpice, Lavaur and Pontoise. Perhaps that is why historian Rémi Brague called the fire at Notre Dame “our 9/11”. The Observatory of Religious Heritage listed a total of 20 French churches that caught fire in just one year.

Little publicized and less condemned, attacks against Christian places of worship in France are multiplying and reaching alarming proportions. The Nantes fire was simply the latest in a succession of church destructions that have been going on for years and have apparently not scandalized anyone.

Four years ago, the Saint-Nicolas Basilica in Nantes was almost destroyed by fire. It had completed a renovation in 2014 and was in perfect condition. The first reports in the French media about the vandalism of churches were published ten years ago. Last year, there was one week in which four French churches were desecrated.

7. This Guy’s Gonna Need an Asbestos Coffin: At The College Fix, Matt Lamb reports on the UC Santa Barbara teaching assistant who tweets about going back in time to “assassinate Jesus.” From the article:

A UC Santa Barbara teaching assistant recently tweeted about killing Jesus Christ.

Tim Snediker, who is also a doctoral student in religious studies at the public university in California, tweeted late Sunday night that he would “assassinate Jesus of Nazareth” if he had a time machine.

In a follow-up tweet, he said he would also consider “murdering him before his baptism.”

Both tweets have since been deleted along with Snediker’s Twitter account. Before deleting his account, he changed his profile to say “Tim has repented, now he wants to save Jesus.”

The tweets drew quick criticism on social media.

Rod Dreher, a conservative writer, tweeted screenshots of the tweet and wrote “If you go to his faculty page, you’ll see the department statement backing BLM. It says that the study of religion teaches that ‘human life is holy because God is holy.’ Hmm. . . .”

8. Our Katie Yoder, writing for Townhall, goes after Vanity Fair reporter Sonia Saraiya’s bizarre claim that Hollywood is too soft on conservative women. From the article:

Saraiya’s stereotypical assumptions that approach sexism and are ones that conservative women tire of correcting. There’s the implication that women, because they are women, should prioritize “women’s issues” above, say, the economy or a Supreme Court pick. Then there’s the assumption that all women should support so-called “women’s issues,” like abortion, when many conservative women recognize that abortion destroys women in the womb and targets baby girls with sex-selection. There’s also the assumption that women should vote for a woman because she is a woman, when, in reality, they vote for whom they consider the best candidate.

Still, Saraiya concluded that “When Hollywood takes on conservative women, the empathy often feels grafted on.” For example, she said, “The Iron Lady” portrayed Margaret Thatcher like a saint.

“Imagine a liberal female politician being treated to this kind of hagiography — Hillary Clinton, say,” Saraiya said. “Imagine the vitriol.”

Instead, conservative women “get to have it both ways,” she complained.

“Thanks to feminists laboriously pushing society into the modern era, they have the advantage of being a protected class,” she wrote. “Yet conservative white women in particular also have an ideology that elevates them over women from other racial or socioeconomic backgrounds.”

In other words, “They believe they’re superior to the rest of their gender” and “become honorary men.”

Baseballery

The daydreams take us to long ago, when there was no pitch count or designated hitter or COVID or Astroturf . . . or the St. Louis Browns or Philadelphia Athletics. What trauma: that spurt — in the early 1950s — when baseball’s original franchises headed for hoped-for greener pastures. The Browns played their last game in St. Louis in 1953 before becoming the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, and a year later the As were calling Kansas City home. The Boston Braves started it all when they headed for Milwaukee in 1953.

So, consumed by franchise frivolities and oddities, one ponders: What was the first game played between two relocated baseball teams?

That occurred on May 3, 1955, as the last-place (5-13) on-the-road Baltimore Orioles faced the 7-9 Kansas City Athletics at Municipal Stadium for a Tuesday-night game before 15,953 fans. The home team prevailed, 4-3, courtesy of centerfielder Bill Wilson’s three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th.

The man who threw the first pitch in the first-ever MLB regular season game between relocated franchises was the A’s rookie southpaw, Art Ceccarelli. It was his premier career performance — he would compile a 9-18 record over five seasons with the A’s, Orioles, and Cubs (his greatest moment came in 1959, when the then-Chicago starter blanked the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax, 3-0) — and he went seven innings, giving up six hits and two runs, earning no decision. The starting pitcher for the Orioles was former Dodger bullpen ace Erv Palica, who gave up all four of the A’s runs, earning him the loss. The game’s very first batter was Palica’s former Brooklyn teammate, infielder Billy Cox, playing in his last season. He popped up to first.

We make special note of this game because of the thrill when we saw the name of Art Ceccarelli, who hailed from the Constitution State parts in which Your Humble Correspondent now abides. His nephew, Barry B, is a fan of this missive, and earlier this year he introduced his widowed aunt, the lovely and truly beautiful Mrs. Ceccarelli, to Editor Rich and Yours Truly.

Hail Uncle Art!

A Dios

Stand up for your beliefs. It’s less of a conservative thing to do than it is a lefty habit, no? We — many bona fide members of the Leave Us Along Coalition — don’t go around giving relentless de facto morality tests, particularly on social-media platforms, used as a tactic to flush out political foes (i.e, racists!) and to project moral superiority for all to see.  But there may come (it may have already) a point where you can no longer remain on the sidelines. The girl in the song said “Billy, keep your head low,” but the reality is circumstances often don’t cooperate. Such as when they’ve brought the fight to you. Pray then for wisdom, for courage, for strength. You’re going to need all of that.

Blessings and Abundant Graces on You and Yours,

Jack Fowler, who takes on all comers at jfowler@nationalreview.com.

P.S.: Do make that NR donation please. It’s done securely here. If you prefer to show your support by check, please make it payable to “National Review” and mail it to National Review, ATTN: Summer 2020 Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036. Many thanks in advance.

 

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Politics & Policy

Get Your Facts Right

On the menu today: Another reminder that “People of Praise” and “People of Hope” are not the same group, and proof that “People of Hope” did not inspire Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; wondering what Joe Biden is doing with his time these days; and two Senate committees release their ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Get Your Facts Right

On the menu today: Another reminder that “People of Praise” and “People of Hope” are not the same group, and proof that “People of Hope” did not inspire Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; wondering what Joe Biden is doing with his time these days; and two Senate committees release their ... Read More